Thursday, 9 October 2008

National Poetry Day

Today is National Poetry Day, the kind of thing which - at school - would have given me an easy assembly subject, or perhaps a bit of inspiration for an English lesson. So, not to be left-out this year, here's poem XL from Last Poems by A.E.Housman:
Tell me not here, it needs not saying,
What tune the enchantress plays
In aftermaths of soft September
Or under blanching mays,
For she and I were long acquainted
And I knew all her ways.
On russet floors, by waters idle,
The pine lets fall its cone;
The cuckoo shouts all day at nothing
In leafy dells alone;
And traveller's joy beguiles in autumn
Hearts that have lost their own.
On acres of the seeded grasses
The changing burnish heaves;
Or marshalled under moons of harvest
Stand still all night the sheaves;
Or beeches strip in storms for winter
And stain the wind with leaves.
Possess, as I possessed a season,
The countries I resign,
Where over elmy plains the highway
Would mount the hills and shine,
And full of shade the pillared forest
Would murmer and be mine.
For nature, heartless, witless nature,
Will neither care nor know
What stranger's feet may find the meadow
And trespass there and go,
Nor ask amid the dews of morning
If they are mine or no.


  1. Wonderful! Shows you will always be a teacher with or without the classroom!

  2. I'm far too logical or linear to 'get' most poetry...but that doesn't stop it being enjoyable...

  3. I think I enjoy poetry more as I get older. It seems to make more sense too. Those two lines: "For she and I were long acquainted
    And I knew all her ways". What bliss it would be to write like that!

  4. Yes, that's a really nice one. Rather than list films or operas, Dot, we could do a Top 10 Poems thing, if you're up for it!

  5. As usual I'm too late and I've missed Poetry Day but great poem, lovely autumnal feel.

  6. Poetry for me is an unopened book. I've read the back cover and I'm sure I'll like the pages but I just can't quite start reading.

    I enjoyed ths piece though.

    Hadriana's Treasures puts it brilliantly. I really would be bliss to write like that.

  7. I'm not sure how to take that, AM! A kind of 'you can take the man out of the classroom but not the classroom out of the man...' perhaps?

    I've never found being linear a problem, Nota Bene. As you say, a poem can be enjoyable for what it is.

    I think you're right, Hadriana, and I'd love to pen lines such as that. It didn't seem to make Housman happy, though.

    That sounds a great idea, Gadj. I'm up for it!

    You're so right, BTM, about the autumnal feel. Some people think the reference to different seasons in the poem reduces that, but the whole verse has that seasonal melancholy.

    Just go for it, Dave; if you enjoyed this, there's plenty more.

  8. Hello! How exciting, I came here via the black box, strangely from my Plump WAG's Club excerpt blog, but still exciting to be brought to a blog I already enjoy reading.

  9. Can I nominate a Wendy Cope poem for the top ten?

  10. Charming. In my opinion Housman is one of the very few poets whose work is as good set to music as not.


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