Marianne Moore |
If external action is effete
and rhyme is outmoded,
I shall revert to you,
Habakkuk, as when in a Bible class
the teacher was speaking of unrhymed verse.
He said - and I think I repeat his exact words -
"Hebrew poetry is prose
with a sort of heightened consciousness.
" Ecstasy affords
the occasion and expediency determines the form.
Ezra Pound |
"Vocat aestus in umbram"
Ode pour l'élection de son sépulchre
For three years, out of key with his time,
He strove to resuscitate the dead art
Of poetry; to maintain "the sublime"
In the old sense.
Wrong from the start --
No, hardly, but, seeing he had been born
In a half savage country, out of date;
Bent resolutely on wringing lilies from the acorn;
Capaneus; trout for factitious bait:
"Idmen gar toi panth, os eni Troie
Caught in the unstopped ear;
Giving the rocks small lee-way
The chopped seas held him, therefore, that year.
His true Penelope was Flaubert,
He fished by obstinate isles;
Observed the elegance of Circe's hair
Rather than the mottoes on sun-dials.
Unaffected by "the march of events",
He passed from men's memory in l'an trentiesme
De son eage; the case presents
No adjunct to the Muses' diadem.
The age demanded an image
Of its accelerated grimace,
Something for the modern stage,
Not, at any rate, an Attic grace;
Not, not certainly, the obscure reveries
Of the inward gaze;
Than the classics in paraphrase!
The "age demanded" chiefly a mould in plaster,
Made with no loss of time,
A prose kinema, not, not assuredly, alabaster
Or the "sculpture" of rhyme.
The tea-rose, tea-gown, etc.
Supplants the mousseline of Cos,
The pianola "replaces"
Christ follows Dionysus,
Phallic and ambrosial
Made way for macerations;
Caliban casts out Ariel.
All things are a flowing,
Sage Heracleitus says;
But a tawdry cheapness
Shall reign throughout our days.
Even the Christian beauty
Defects -- after Samothrace;
We see to kalon
Decreed in the market place.
Faun's flesh is not to us,
Nor the saint's vision.
We have the press for wafer;
Franchise for circumcision.
All men, in law, are equals.
Free of Peisistratus,
We choose a knave or an eunuch
To rule over us.
A bright Apollo,
tin andra, tin eroa, tina theon,
What god, man, or hero
Shall I place a tin wreath upon?
These fought, in any case,
and some believing, pro domo, in any case .
Some quick to arm,
some for adventure,
some from fear of weakness,
some from fear of censure,
some for love of slaughter, in imagination,
learning later .
some in fear, learning love of slaughter;
Died some pro patria, non dulce non et decor" .
walked eye-deep in hell
believing in old men's lies, then unbelieving
came home, home to a lie,
home to many deceits,
home to old lies and new infamy;
usury age-old and age-thick
and liars in public places.
Daring as never before, wastage as never before.
Young blood and high blood,
Fair cheeks, and fine bodies;
fortitude as never before
frankness as never before,
disillusions as never told in the old days,
hysterias, trench confessions,
laughter out of dead bellies.
There died a myriad,
And of the best, among them,
For an old ***** gone in the teeth,
For a botched civilization.
Charm, smiling at the good mouth,
Quick eyes gone under earth's lid,
For two gross of broken statues,
For a few thousand battered books.
Gladstone was still respected,
When John Ruskin produced
"Kings Treasuries"; Swinburne
And Rossetti still abused.
Fœtid Buchanan lifted up his voice
When that faun's head of hers
Became a pastime for
Painters and adulterers.
The Burne-Jones cartons
Have preserved her eyes;
Still, at the Tate, they teach
Cophetua to rhapsodize;
Thin like brook-water,
With a vacant gaze.
The English Rubaiyat was still-born
In those days.
The thin, clear gaze, the same
Still darts out faun-like from the half-ruin'd face,
Questing and passive .
"Ah, poor Jenny's case" .
Bewildered that a world
Shows no surprise
At her last maquero's
"Siena Mi Fe', Disfecemi Maremma"
Among the pickled fœtuses and bottled bones,
Engaged in perfecting the catalogue,
I found the last scion of the
Senatorial families of Strasbourg, Monsieur Verog.
For two hours he talked of Gallifet;
Of Dowson; of the Rhymers' Club;
Told me how Johnson (Lionel) died
By falling from a high stool in a pub .
But showed no trace of alcohol
At the autopsy, privately performed --
Tissue preserved -- the pure mind
Arose toward Newman as the whiskey warmed.
Dowson found harlots cheaper than hotels;
Headlam for uplift; Image impartially imbued
With raptures for Bacchus, Terpsichore and the Church.
So spoke the author of "The Dorian Mood",
Verog, out of step with the decade,
Detached from his contemporaries,
Neglected by the young,
Because of these reveries.
The sky-like limpid eyes,
The circular infant's face,
The stiffness from spats to collar
Never relaxing into grace;
The heavy memories of Horeb, Sinai and the forty years,
Showed only when the daylight fell
Level across the face
Of Brennbaum "The Impeccable".
In the cream gilded cabin of his steam yacht
Nixon advised me kindly, to advance with fewer
Dangers of delay.
Carefully the reviewer.
"I was as poor as you are;
"When I began I got, of course,
"Advance on royalties, fifty at first", said Mr.
"Follow me, and take a column,
"Even if you have to work free.
From fifty to three hundred
"I rose in eighteen months;
"The hardest nut I had to crack
"I never mentioned a man but with the view
"Of selling my own works.
"The tip's a good one, as for literature
"It gives no man a sinecure.
And no one knows, at sight a masterpiece.
And give up verse, my boy,
There's nothing in it.
* * *
Likewise a friend of Bloughram's once advised me:
Don't kick against the pricks,
The "Nineties" tried your game
And died, there's nothing in it.
Beneath the sagging roof
The stylist has taken shelter,
At last from the world's welter
Nature receives him,
With a placid and uneducated mistress
He exercises his talents
And the soil meets his distress.
The haven from sophistications and contentions
Leaks through its thatch;
He offers succulent cooking;
The door has a creaking latch.
"Conservatrix of Milésien"
Habits of mind and feeling,
But in Ealing
With the most bank-clerkly of Englishmen?
No, "Milésian" is an exaggeration.
No instinct has survived in her
Older than those her grandmother
Told her would fit her station.
"Daphne with her thighs in bark
Stretches toward me her leafy hands", --
In the stuffed-satin drawing-room
I await The Lady Valentine's commands,
Knowing my coat has never been
Of precisely the fashion
To stimulate, in her,
A durable passion;
Doubtful, somewhat, of the value
Of well-gowned approbation
Of literary effort,
But never of The Lady Valentine's vocation:
Poetry, her border of ideas,
The edge, uncertain, but a means of blending
With other strata
Where the lower and higher have ending;
A hook to catch the Lady Jane's attention,
A modulation toward the theatre,
Also, in the case of revolution,
A possible friend and comforter.
* * *
Conduct, on the other hand, the soul
"Which the highest cultures have nourished"
To Fleet St.
Beside this thoroughfare
The sale of half-hose has
Long since superseded the cultivation
Of Pierian roses.
Czeslaw Milosz |
I have always aspired to a more spacious form
that would be free from the claims of poetry or prose
and would let us understand each other without exposing
the author or reader to sublime agonies.
In the very essence of poetry there is something indecent:
a thing is brought forth which we didn't know we had in us,
so we blink our eyes, as if a tiger had sprung out
and stood in the light, lashing his tail.
That's why poetry is rightly said to be dictated by a daimonion,
though its an exaggeration to maintain that he must be an angel.
It's hard to guess where that pride of poets comes from,
when so often they're put to shame by the disclosure of their frailty.
What reasonable man would like to be a city of demons,
who behave as if they were at home, speak in many tongues,
and who, not satisfied with stealing his lips or hand,
work at changing his destiny for their convenience?
It's true that what is morbid is highly valued today,
and so you may think that I am only joking
or that I've devised just one more means
of praising Art with thehelp of irony.
There was a time when only wise books were read
helping us to bear our pain and misery.
This, after all, is not quite the same
as leafing through a thousand works fresh from psychiatric clinics.
And yet the world is different from what it seems to be
and we are other than how we see ourselves in our ravings.
People therefore preserve silent integrity
thus earning the respect of their relatives and neighbors.
The purpose of poetry is to remind us
how difficult it is to remain just one person,
for our house is open, there are no keys in the doors,
and invisible guests come in and out at will.
What I'm saying here is not, I agree, poetry,
as poems should be written rarely and reluctantly,
under unbearable duress and only with the hope
that good spirits, not evil ones, choose us for their instrument.
Barry Tebb |
for Ken Kesey and his merry pranksters in a bus called ‘Further.
Dear _______ and here’s where the problem begins
For who shall I address this letter to?
Friends are few and very special, muses in the main
I must confess, the first I lost just fifty years ago.
Perhaps the best.
I searched for years and wrote en route
‘Bridge Over the Aire’ after that vision and that voice
“I am here.
I am waiting”.
I followed every lead
Margaret Gardiner last heard of in the Falmouth’s
Of Leeds 9, early fifties.
Barry Tebb your friend from then
Would love to hear from you.
The sole reply
A mis-directed estimate for papering a bungalow
I nearly came unhinged as weeks
Ran into months of silence.
A voice from the beyond?
The vision was given
Complete with backcloth of resplendent stars
The bridge’s grey transmuted to a sheen of pearl
The chipped steps became transparent stairs to heaven
Our worn clothes, like Cinders’ at the ball, cloaks and gowns
Of infinite splendour but only for the night, remember!
I passed the muse’s diadem to Sheila Pritchard,
My genius-child-poet of whom Redgrove said
“Of course, you are in love” and wrote for her
‘My Perfect Rose!’
Last year a poet saw it
In the British Council Reading Room in distant Kazakstan
And sent his poems to me on paper diaphanous
As angels’ wings and delicate as ash
And tinted with a splash of lemon
And a dash of mignonette.
I last saw Sheila circa nineteen sixty seven
Expelled from grammar school wearing a poncho
Hand-made from an army blanket
Working a stall in Kirkgate Market.
Brenda Williams, po?te maudit if ever,
By then installed as muse number three
Grew sadly jealous for the only time
In thirty-seven years: muse number two
Passed into the blue
There is another muse, who makes me chronologically confused.
Barbara, who overlaps both two and three
And still is there, somewhere in Leeds.
Who does remember me and who, almost alone.
Inspired my six novellas: we write and
Talk sometimes and in a crisis she is there for me,
Muse number four, though absent for a month in Indonesia.
I doubt if there will be a fifth.
There is a poet, too, who is a friend and writes to me
From Hampstead, from a caf? in South End Green.
His cursive script on rose pink paper symptomatic
Of his gift for eloquent prose and poetry sublime
His elegy on David Gascoyne’s death quite takes my breath
And the title of his novel ‘Lipstick Boys’ I'll envy always,
There are some few I talk and write to
And occasionally meet.
David Lambert, poet and teacher
Of creative writing, doing it ‘my way’ in the nineties,
UEA found his services superfluous to their needs.
? ? you may **** like hell,
But I abhor your jealous narcissistic smell
And as for your much vaunted pc prose
I’d rather stick my prick inside the thorniest rose.
Jeanne Conn of ‘Connections’ your letters
are even longer than my own and Maggie Allen
Sent me the only Valentine I’ve had in sixty years
These two do know my longings and my fears,
Dear Simon Jenner, Eratica’s erratic editor, your speech
So like the staccato of a bren, yet loaded
With a lifetime’s hard-won ken of poetry’s obscurest corners.
I salute David Wright, that ‘difficult deaf son’
Of the sixties, acknowledged my own youthful spasm of enthusiasm
But Simon you must share the honour with Jimmy Keery,
Of whom I will admit I’m somewhat leery,
His critical acuity so absolute and steely.
I ask you all to stay with me
Through time into infinity
Not even death can undo
The love I have for you.
Karl Shapiro |
In the mid-city, under an oiled sky,
I lay in a garden of such dusky green
It seemed the dregs of the imagination.
Hedged round by elegant spears of iron fence
My face became a moon to absent suns.
A low heat beat upon my reading face;
There rose no roses in that gritty place
But blue-gray lilacs hung their tassels out.
Hard zinnias and ugly marigolds
And one sweet statue of a child stood by.
A gutter of poetry flowed outside the yard,
Making me think I was a bird of prose;
For overhead, bagged in a golden cloud,
There hung the fatted souls of animals,
Wile at my eyes bright dots of butterflies
Turned off and on like distant neon signs.
Assuming that this garden still exists,
One ancient lady patrols the zinnias
(She looks like George Washington crossing the Delaware),
The janitor wanders to the iron rail,
The traffic mounts bombastically out there,
And across the street in a pitch-black bar
With midnight mirrors, the professional
Takes her first whiskey of the afternoon--
Ah! It is like a breath of country air.
Thomas Carew |
Can we not force from widow'd poetry,
Now thou art dead (great Donne) one elegy
To crown thy hearse? Why yet dare we not trust,
Though with unkneaded dough-bak'd prose, thy dust,
Such as th' unscissor'd churchman from the flower
Of fading rhetoric, short-liv'd as his hour,
Dry as the sand that measures it, should lay
Upon thy ashes, on the funeral day?
Have we no voice, no tune? Didst thou dispense
Through all our language, both the words and sense?
'Tis a sad truth.
The pulpit may her plain
And sober Christian precepts still retain,
Doctrines it may, and wholesome uses, frame,
Grave homilies and lectures, but the flame
Of thy brave soul (that shot such heat and light
As burnt our earth and made our darkness bright,
Committed holy rapes upon our will,
Did through the eye the melting heart distil,
And the deep knowledge of dark truths so teach
As sense might judge what fancy could not reach)
Must be desir'd forever.
So the fire
That fills with spirit and heat the Delphic quire,
Which, kindled first by thy Promethean breath,
Glow'd here a while, lies quench'd now in thy death.
The Muses' garden, with pedantic weeds
O'erspread, was purg'd by thee; the lazy seeds
Of servile imitation thrown away,
And fresh invention planted; thou didst pay
The debts of our penurious bankrupt age;
Licentious thefts, that make poetic rage
A mimic fury, when our souls must be
Possess'd, or with Anacreon's ecstasy,
Or Pindar's, not their own; the subtle cheat
Of sly exchanges, and the juggling feat
Of two-edg'd words, or whatsoever wrong
By ours was done the Greek or Latin tongue,
Thou hast redeem'd, and open'd us a mine
Of rich and pregnant fancy; drawn a line
Of masculine expression, which had good
Old Orpheus seen, or all the ancient brood
Our superstitious fools admire, and hold
Their lead more precious than thy burnish'd gold,
Thou hadst been their exchequer, and no more
They each in other's dust had rak'd for ore.
Thou shalt yield no precedence, but of time,
And the blind fate of language, whose tun'd chime
More charms the outward sense; yet thou mayst claim
From so great disadvantage greater fame,
Since to the awe of thy imperious wit
Our stubborn language bends, made only fit
With her tough thick-ribb'd hoops to gird about
Thy giant fancy, which had prov'd too stout
For their soft melting phrases.
As in time
They had the start, so did they cull the prime
Buds of invention many a hundred year,
And left the rifled fields, besides the fear
To touch their harvest; yet from those bare lands
Of what is purely thine, thy only hands,
(And that thy smallest work) have gleaned more
Than all those times and tongues could reap before.
But thou art gone, and thy strict laws will be
Too hard for libertines in poetry;
They will repeal the goodly exil'd train
Of gods and goddesses, which in thy just reign
Were banish'd nobler poems; now with these,
The silenc'd tales o' th' Metamorphoses
Shall stuff their lines, and swell the windy page,
Till verse, refin'd by thee, in this last age
Turn ballad rhyme, or those old idols be
Ador'd again, with new apostasy.
Oh, pardon me, that break with untun'd verse
The reverend silence that attends thy hearse,
Whose awful solemn murmurs were to thee,
More than these faint lines, a loud elegy,
That did proclaim in a dumb eloquence
The death of all the arts; whose influence,
Grown feeble, in these panting numbers lies,
Gasping short-winded accents, and so dies.
So doth the swiftly turning wheel not stand
In th' instant we withdraw the moving hand,
But some small time maintain a faint weak course,
By virtue of the first impulsive force;
And so, whilst I cast on thy funeral pile
Thy crown of bays, oh, let it crack awhile,
And spit disdain, till the devouring flashes
Suck all the moisture up, then turn to ashes.
I will not draw the envy to engross
All thy perfections, or weep all our loss;
Those are too numerous for an elegy,
And this too great to be express'd by me.
Though every pen should share a distinct part,
Yet art thou theme enough to tire all art;
Let others carve the rest, it shall suffice
I on thy tomb this epitaph incise:
Here lies a king, that rul'd as he thought fit
The universal monarchy of wit;
Here lie two flamens, and both those, the best,
Apollo's first, at last, the true God's priest.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe |
I feel no small reluctance in venturing to give to the public a
work of the character of that indicated by the title-page to the
present volume; for, difficult as it must always be to render satisfactorily
into one's own tongue the writings of the bards of other lands,
the responsibility assumed by the translator is immeasurably increased
when he attempts to transfer the thoughts of those great men, who
have lived for all the world and for all ages, from the language
in which they were originally clothed, to one to which they may
as yet have been strangers.
Preeminently is this the case with Goethe,
the most masterly of all the master minds of modern times, whose
name is already inscribed on the tablets of immortality, and whose
fame already extends over the earth, although as yet only in its
Scarcely have two decades passed away since he ceased to
dwell among men, yet he now stands before us, not as a mere individual,
like those whom the world is wont to call great, but as a type,
as an emblem--the recognised emblem and representative of the human
mind in its present stage of culture and advancement.
Among the infinitely varied effusions of Goethe's pen, perhaps
there are none which are of as general interest as his Poems, which
breathe the very spirit of Nature, and embody the real music of
In Germany, they are universally known, and are considered
as the most delightful of his works.
Yet in this country, this kindred
country, sprung from the same stem, and so strongly resembling her
sister in so many points, they are nearly unknown.
Almost the only
poetical work of the greatest Poet that the world has seen for ages,
that is really and generally read in England, is Faust, the translations
of which are almost endless; while no single person has as yet appeared
to attempt to give, in an English dress, in any collective or systematic
manner, those smaller productions of the genius of Goethe which
it is the object of the present volume to lay before the reader,
whose indulgence is requested for its many imperfections.
to the beauty of the language in which the Poet has given utterance
to his thoughts, there is a depth of meaning in those thoughts which
is not easily discoverable at first sight, and the translator incurs
great risk of overlooking it, and of giving a prosaic effect to
that which in the original contains the very essence of poetry.
It is probably this difficulty that has deterred others from undertaking
the task I have set myself, and in which I do not pretend to do
more than attempt to give an idea of the minstrelsy of one so unrivalled,
by as truthful an interpretation of it as lies in my power.
The principles which have guided me on the present occasion are
the same as those followed in the translation of Schiller's complete
Poems that was published by me in 1851, namely, as literal a rendering
of the original as is consistent with good English, and also a very
strict adherence to the metre of the original.
usually allow themselves great license in both these points, it
appears to me that by so doing they of necessity destroy the very
soul of the work they profess to translate.
In fact, it is not a
translation, but a paraphrase that they give.
It may perhaps be
thought that the present translations go almost to the other extreme,
and that a rendering of metre, line for line, and word for word,
makes it impossible to preserve the poetry of the original both
in substance and in sound.
But experience has convinced me that
it is not so, and that great fidelity is even the most essential
element of success, whether in translating poetry or prose.
therefore very satisfactory to me to find that the principle laid
down by me to myself in translating Schiller met with the very general,
if not universal, approval of the reader.
At the same time, I have
endeavoured to profit in the case of this, the younger born of the
two attempts made by me to transplant the muse of Germany to the
shores of Britain, by the criticisms, whether friendly or hostile,
that have been evoked or provoked by the appearance of its elder
As already mentioned, the latter contained the whole of the Poems
It is impossible, in anything like the same compass,
to give all the writings of Goethe comprised under the general title
of Gedichte, or poems.
They contain between 30,000 and 40,000 verses,
exclusive of his plays.
and similar works.
Very many of these would
be absolutely without interest to the English reader,--such as those
having only a local application, those addressed to individuals,
and so on.
Others again, from their extreme length, could only be
published in separate volumes.
But the impossibility of giving all
need form no obstacle to giving as much as possible; and it so happens
that the real interest of Goethe's Poems centres in those classes
of them which are not too diffuse to run any risk when translated
of offending the reader by their too great number.
Those by far
the more generally admired are the Songs and Ballads, which are
about 150 in number, and the whole of which are contained in this
volume (with the exception of one or two of the former, which have
been, on consideration, left out by me owing to their trifling and
The same may be said of the Odes, Sonnets,
Miscellaneous Poems, &c.
In addition to those portions of Goethe's poetical works which
are given in this complete form, specimens of the different other
classes of them, such as the Epigrams, Elegies, &c.
, are added,
as well as a collection of the various Songs found in his Plays,
making a total number of about 400 Poems, embraced in the present
A sketch of the life of Goethe is prefixed, in order that the
reader may have before him both the Poet himself and the Poet's
offspring, and that he may see that the two are but one--that Goethe
lives in his works, that his works lived in him.
The dates of the different Poems are appended throughout, that
of the first publication being given, when that of the composition
The order of arrangement adopted is that of the authorized
As Goethe would never arrange them himself in the
chronological order of their composition, it has become impossible
to do so, now that he is dead.
The plan adopted in the present volume
would therefore seem to be the best, as it facilitates reference
to the original.
The circumstances attending or giving rise to the
production of any of the Poems will be found specified in those
cases in which they have been ascertained by me.
Having said thus much by way of explanation, I now leave the book
to speak for itself, and to testify to its own character.
viewed with a charitable eye by the kindly reader, who will make
due allowance for the difficulties attending its execution, or received
by the critic, who will judge of it only by its own merits, with
the unfriendly welcome which it very probably deserves, I trust
that I shall at least be pardoned for making an attempt, a failure
in which does not necessarily imply disgrace, and which, by leading
the way, may perhaps become the means of inducing some abler and
more worthy (but not more earnest) labourer to enter upon the same
field, the riches of which will remain unaltered and undiminished
in value, even although they may be for the moment tarnished by
the hands of the less skilful workman who first endeavours to transplant
them to a foreign soil.
Louisa May Alcott |
We sighing said, "Our Pan is dead;
His pipe hangs mute beside the river
Around it wistful sunbeams quiver,
But Music's airy voice is fled.
Spring mourns as for untimely frost;
The bluebird chants a requiem;
The willow-blossom waits for him;
The Genius of the wood is lost.
Then from the flute, untouched by hands,
There came a low, harmonious breath:
"For such as he there is no death;
His life the eternal life commands;
Above man's aims his nature rose.
The wisdom of a just content
Made one small spot a continent
And turned to poetry life's prose.
"Haunting the hills, the stream, the wild,
Swallow and aster, lake and pine,
To him grew human or divine,
Fit mates for this large-hearted child.
Such homage Nature ne'er forgets,
And yearly on the coverlid
'Neath which her darling lieth hid
Will write his name in violets.
"To him no vain regrets belong
Whose soul, that finer instrument,
Gave to the world no poor lament,
But wood-notes ever sweet and strong.
O lonely friend! he still will be
A potent presence, though unseen,
Steadfast, sagacious, and serene;
Seek not for him -- he is with thee.
Henry Van Dyke |
Lover of beauty, walking on the height
Of pure philosophy and tranquil song;
Born to behold the visions that belong
To those who dwell in melody and light;
Milton, thou spirit delicate and bright!
What drew thee down to join the Roundhead throng
Of iron-sided warriors, rude and strong,
Fighting for freedom in a world half night?
Lover of Liberty at heart wast thou,
Above all beauty bright, all music clear:
To thee she bared her bosom and her brow,
Breathing her virgin promise in thine ear,
And bound thee to her with a double vow, --
Exquisite Puritan, grave Cavalier!
The cause, the cause for which thy soul resigned
Her singing robes to battle on the plain,
Was won, O poet, and was lost again;
And lost the labour of thy lonely mind
On weary tasks of prose.
What wilt thou find
To comfort thee for all the toil and pain?
What solace, now thy sacrifice is vain
And thou art left forsaken, poor, and blind?
Like organ-music comes the deep reply:
"The cause of truth looks lost, but shall be won.
For God hath given to mine inward eye
Vision of England soaring to the sun.
And granted me great peace before I die,
In thoughts of lowly duty bravely done.
O bend again above thine organ-board,
Thou blind old poet longing for repose!
Thy Master claims thy service not with those
Who only stand and wait for his reward.
He pours the heavenly gift of song restored
Into thy breast, and bids thee nobly close
A noble life, with poetry that flows
In mighty music of the major chord.
Where hast thou learned this deep, majestic strain,
Surpassing all thy youthful lyric grace,
To sing of Paradise? Ah, not in vain
The griefs that won at Dante's side thy place,
And made thee, Milton, by thy years of pain,
The loftiest poet of the Saxon race!
Robert William Service |
Of Poetry I've been accused,
But much more often I have not;
Oh, I have been so much amused
By those who've put me on the spot,
And measured me by rules above
Those I observe with equal love.
An artisan of verse am I,
Of simple sense and humble tone;
My Thesaurus is handy by,
A rhyming lexicon I own;
Without them I am ill at ease -
What bards would use such aids as these?
Bad poets make good verse, they say;
The Great have not distained to woo
The modest muse of every day;
Read Longfellow and Byron through,
The fabric test - much verse you'll see
Compared with what is poetry.
Small blame; one cannot always soar
To heights of hyaline sublime;
Melodious prose one must deplore,
And fetters of rebellious rhyme:
Keats, Browning - that's another tale,
But even Giants fail and fail.
I've worshipped Ryley, Harte and Field,
And though their minstrelsy I lack,
To them heart-homage here I yield,
And follow with my verseman's pack:
To them with gratitude I look,
For briefing me to make this book.