Sunday, April 3, 2016

And sadness cut through me. . .

Many of the poems I learned in school are still with me, at least the first and usually more lines.  Hard to say why other than I liked or loved the poem. Everything from Walter de la Mare's 'Someone Came Knocking' and 'Silver'; William Wilfred Campbell's 'Indian Summer';  or Bliss Carmen's Vestigia.  Kipling, Tennyson, Browning, Noyes were all favourite authors, along with Coleridge, Longfellow, Hardy, Elliot, and many more.

CT Fyfe's anthology 'A Book of Good Poems' was one of my grade 11 and 12 Literature books.  My teacher, the late Sister Mary Annella (Pek), had Fyfe as her prof at University and she loved poetry as did I.  I had two copies which my children now have though I wish I had one of them back. Two of the poems I love to read when ever I am sad and do not want to play 'hurtin' music'.

Both poems leave the reader hanging as to who, why, and what happened which adds to the melancholy. The wordsmithing is incredibly beautiful.  I hope you enjoy them.

The Listeners Walter de la Mare

"Is there anybody there?" said the Traveller,
Knocking on the moonlit door;
And his horse in the silence champed the grasses
Of the forest's ferny floor:
And a bird flew up out of the turret,
Above the Traveller's head:
And he smote upon the door again a second time;
"Is there anybody there?" he said.
But no one descended to the Traveller;
No head from the leaf-fringed sill
Leaned over and looked into his grey eyes,
Where he stood perplexed and still.
But only a host of phantom listeners
That dwelt in the lone house then
Stood listening in the quiet of the moonlight
To that voice from the world of men:
Stood thronging the faint moonbeams on the dark stair,
That goes down to the empty hall,
Hearkening in an air stirred and shaken
By the lonely Traveller's call.
And he felt in his heart their strangeness,
Their stillness answering his cry,
While his horse moved, cropping the dark turf,
'Neath the starred and leafy sky;
For he suddenly smote on the door, even
Louder, and lifted his head:--
"Tell them I came, and no one answered,
That I kept my word," he said.
Never the least stir made the listeners,
Though every word he spake
Fell echoing through the shadowiness of the still house
From the one man left awake:
Ay, they heard his foot upon the stirrup,
And the sound of iron on stone,
And how the silence surged softly backward,
When the plunging hoofs were gone.

Beyond The Last Lamp By Thomas Hardy (Near Tooting Common)

While rain, with eve in partnership,
Descended darkly, drip, drip, drip,
Beyond the last lone lamp I passed
Walking slowly, whispering sadly,
Two linked loiterers, wan, downcast:
Some heavy thought constrained each face,
And blinded them to time and place.
The pair seemed lovers, yet absorbed
In mental scenes no longer orbed
By love's young rays. Each countenance
As it slowly, as it sadly
Caught the lamplight's yellow glance
Held in suspense a misery
At things which had been or might be.
When I retrod that watery way
Some hours beyond the droop of day,
Still I found pacing there the twain
Just as slowly, just as sadly,
Heedless of the night and rain.
One could but wonder who they were
And what wild woe detained them there.
Though thirty years of blur and blot
Have slid since I beheld that spot,
And saw in curious converse there
Moving slowly, moving sadly
That mysterious tragic pair,
Its olden look may linger on -
All but the couple; they have gone.
Whither? Who knows, indeed . . . And yet
To me, when nights are weird and wet,
Without those comrades there at tryst
Creeping slowly, creeping sadly,
That lone lane does not exist.
There they seem brooding on their pain,
And will, while such a lane remain.


  1. Wow! Both are excellent and as you said, leave mysteries that add to the somber sad mood. Thanks for sharing.

    Good wordsmithing indeed.

    1. You are a good wordsmith yourself so would appreciate that. I am glad you liked them

  2. they made me sad..I don't do sad..I like Jest'fore Christmas by Eugene Fields..I memorized the entire poem for a class play when I was 12 and still remember most of it.

    1. You wouldn't like Field's poem 'Little Boy Blue' then. It made me cry.
      I like Cowboy poetry which is the style of Jest 'fore Christmas.

    2. I keep a book of Robert Frost poems beside my bed.
      the Ol'Buzzard

    3. Frost is a poet I should have listed above as a favourite. Something there is that doesn't love a wall. . .

  3. I remember the first one, but I'd never read the second before - thanks for sharing it! Poetry was very nearly spoiled for me by a teacher who asked for our interpretations of poems and then told us we were wrong, but fortunately my Grade 12 teacher was a lover of poetry. I still have the poetry project I did back then, and still enjoy reading it!

    1. I got into some great arguments with my Grade 11-12 lit teacher. Rereading the poems years later, I see that she was right. She ran into my parents years after and was chuckling about it. I was fortunate I had good literature teachers all through school.


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