Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Strange Peace And Rest

The poetry of Edward Rowland Sill was quite popular during his lifetime, the late 1800's. His work appeared in the popular magazines under many pseudonyms, though it seems that these pen names were generally recognized as being his signatures. No one seems to have been fooled.

But in the years that followed, the world's taste in poetry took a sharp turn toward the intellectual. TS Eliot began writing; Hopkins was finally printed; James Joyce and Ezra Pound became the new status quo. Modernism was born and suddenly the transparent verse of Sill sounded childish and naive.

But, fan though I am of Eliot and more than a fan of Hopkins, I think we lost more than we knew when we shut our ears so totally to the charm and simple elegance of the sweeter temperament that had come before.

A short one for now, but there is a longer one I plan to post in the next couple of days.

A Morning Thought

What if some morning, when the stars were paling,
And the dawn whitened, and the East was clear,
Strange peace and rest fell on me from the presence
Of a benignant Spirit standing near:

And I should tell him, as he stood beside me,
"This is our Earth--most friendly Earth, and fair;
Daily its sea and shore through sun and shadow
Faithful it turns, robed in its azure air:

"There is blest living here, loving and serving,
And quest of truth, and serene friendships dear;
But stay not, Spirit! Earth has one destroyer--
His name is Death: flee, lest he find thee here!"

And what if then, while the still morning brightened,
And freshened in the elm the Summer's breath,
Should gravely smile on me the gentle angel
And take my hand and say, "My name is Death."



Rosa said...

Great piece!

I think I will use this poem for my new project; I'm a DJ for campus radio, and my show is roughly half music and half poetry reading. Thanks for posting this!

Doug P. Baker said...

Half poetry reading? And is it on the Web so we can download your show?

So tell me how college life is treating you!