Sonnet II

I woke one night when stern December crept

Upon the air. I pressed my fevered cheek

Against the stony wall, so rough and bleak.

The wind had choked the silent house as I slept.

I rose to breath the drifting starry light,

And lest I dream some mindless shape of gloom.

Fleeing the silent breathless fears that loom

Over my mind, I strode from night to night.

A lesser night than that which haunts my thoughts,

Which with unceasing power stirs my restive heart

To useless tears, and wastes its fading lights

On old regrets, but takes in joys no part.

Look, look: the clouds have covered ev’ry star.

Here only blackness lies. The dawn is far.

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Maggie D.

memories, Poetry, seasons

"And never was piping so sad…" *

I just returned from a walk, during which I spent a fair length of time daydreaming about the walks I will take when it becomes cold and the leaves begin to change. There is no greater earthly pleasure than walking in crisp weather, when a chilly wind is blowing and the trees are red and gold, unless it be to lie on a slope with the breeze rustling your hair and leaves flying. It is a little sad to think that it will be weeks, perhaps many, until I may have that delight, but the wait will make it even sweeter when it arrives. I just re-read The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle, which dwells largely on this theme of mortality; the idea that the very fleetingness of the joys of life lends them their beauty and mirth.

It is not quite the Christian perspective, which sees all these things as small, dim reflections of the bliss of heaven, but it has truth in it, though it can be easily corrupted into the carpe diem, the practice of seizing every pleasure now lest it be gone forever. Somehow, I don’t feel that the book intends to teach that; perhaps it is because of the melancholy with which it is so imbued, and which makes it so lovely. One can feel this bittersweetness in Tolkien’s work, in parts of Narnia, in Till We Have Faces, in Homer and Virgil; Yeats is drenched in it; Chesterton hints at it occasionally, though he is a poet of day, rather than of the evening that it lingers in.
It has an affinity for starlight and moonlight and echoes, for dark forests and white flowers; a feeling of autumn, of things pale and ancient and far away. Though not all autumnal poetry is of this sort; there are chiefly two kinds, it seems to me. There is the autumn that is filled with gold and red and hearth fires, the poetry of the harvest; and the autumn that is the fading away of the year, the cold winds, the dying leaves, the bare branches; the poetry of November.
 * Note: the title of the post is taken from Yeats’ wonderful poem, “The Host of the Air”.
Humour, Poetry, writing


I Write Like by Mémoires, journal software. Analyze your writing!

Of course, this analysis is notoriously unreliable; I’ve gotten H. P. Lovecraft, Dan Brown, and and James Joyce before, depending on what pieces I put in. However, I just got Shakespeare twice in a row! Surely I must be improving, says I, with tongue firmly in cheek.
The first piece I put in was a fragment of a story which will not be seeing the light of day any time soon, but I’ll vouchsafe the first couple stanzas of the second piece (a poem I wrote a few months ago). I suspect that the faintly archaic language, thee’s and thou’s, and the “alas” near the end of the poem were what did me in.

The sound of silk, a rustling tread,
The rising moon shone golden-red,
The darkness shivered round the tree,

While wind blew in the lea.

“O Lady, Lady,” called the thrush,
His bright voice broke the weary hush,
“O why do you walk alone at dusk,
When wind blows sweet the musk?”

“O Lady, Lady,” sang the lark,
His song made bright and warm the dark,
“O why do you walk alone at night,
As wind blows like a wight?”
Humour, Music, Parody, Poetry

A Parody Offered for Your Perusal

I bet you can guess which song it is! I did my best to make it singable to the original tune, but you’ll need to ‘tweak’ both the tune and the words (contract “I am” to “I’m” and the like).

I apologize in advance for being linguistically incorrect… I’m quite sure I’ve mixed up all kinds of English, seventeenth century and eighteenth and nineteenth and probably twentieth as well. Also, I don’t know if a lyre was something anyone was likely to have within the past few hundred years, but it rhymed 🙂

My love look’d at me
My face mask’d with smiles
so he doth not see
That which I desire, my plea
Oh that a wedded we should be
I know her passing fair
The lady he speaketh of
Aye hers is everything
That I am doom’d to live without

My love speaks jests to me
I durst laugh, his speech is lovely
My sight is blinded, I cannot see
Anyone, as he is with me
He’s taken o’er with love
He tells me his heart is light
I wonder if he doth know
My thoughts dwell on him each night

Thou’rt the reason for my tearstained lyre
The only object of my single desire
For thou dost I pine, grave and weary
Thou knows why I do

My love pass’d me by
And I, depriv’d of breathing, sigh
Look, there he doth go, in perfection strides
Would that I matched him in his matchless pride
Would that she lov’d him dear
Her soul be shining clear
Behold his glorious eyes
While I am drench’d in sighs!

Thou’rt the reason for my tearstained lyre
The only object of my single desire
For thou dost I pine, grave and weary
Thou knows why I do

And I lonely walk home
Silently snuff out the light
Sit and watch, as the fire doth die
My eyes shall not shut tonight

Thou’rt the reason for my tearstained lyre 
The only object of my single desire
For thou dost I pine, grave and weary
 Thou knows why I do

Oh, the time devoured, but there is too little!
Thou art all my longing, my very soul
My love look’d at me
My face mask’d with smiles so he doth not see


Highlight the following with your mouse to see, if you can’t figure it out 🙂

Teardrops on My Guitar – Taylor Swift
Books, Poetry


I thought I’d hunt up a few of my favorite poems in the public domain and post them for you to read. Fortunately, most good poetry is oldish.
I personally don’t like free verse. I once heard someone say that it lead to sloppy thinking. That can be true, but I think it’s more common these days as a sign of sloppy thinking. Most free verse (which contains nearly all poetry written nowadays) is equivalent to incoherent prose minced into irregular lines. Not that all free verse is quite that bad, but that seems to be the main idea. Real poetry, with meter, takes some effort to write. As for rhyme, I prefer it but it’s not necessary. I used to think that blank verse and free verse were the same. Silly me. Anyways, a great deal of the greatest poetry (Just to reel off a few; The Odyssey, The Iliad, the Aeneid, Beowulf) was written in meters that don’t use rhyme.

Apart from all that… you must, must, MUST read this poem. It’s called “All That’s Past”, by Walter de la Mare, and I read it for school recently. It’s one of my favorites. Read it aloud, and reread it often. Poetry should be read aloud as much as possible, actually. It’s possible to get music out of it by mouthing it, but new things seem to appear if you read it aloud.
I can’t leave without mentioning the author. Walter de la Mare compiled a perfectly lovely anthology of poems called “Come Hither”. Don’t be put off by its being a children’s anthology. I have the impression that he had similar ideas as Tolkien on the subject of so-called “children’s literature” (see Tolkien’s essay “On Fairy-Stories”, which I highly recommend). It’s superb.

All That’s Past

Very old are the woods;
And the buds that break
Out of the brier’s boughs,
When March winds wake,
So old with their beauty are—
Oh, no man knows
Through what wild centuries
Roves back the rose.
Very old are the brooks;
And the rills that rise
Where snow sleeps cold beneath
The azure skies
Sing such a history
Of come and gone,
Their every drop is as wise
As Solomon.

Very old are we men;
Our dreams are tales
Told in dim Eden
By Eve’s nightingales;
We wake and whisper awhile,
But, the day gone by,
Silence and sleep like fields
Of amaranth lie.