Twilight Settles

The Ragtag Daily Prompt this morning was SETTLE and it’s taken me awhile to settle down and respond to it. Actually, for my response I’m going to publish a poem by Canadian poet Archibald Lampman.

EVENING

From upland slopes I see the cows file by,
Lowing, great-chested,
down the homeward trail,
By dusking fields and meadows shining pale
With moon-tipped dandelions. Flickering high,
A peevish night-hawk in the western sky
Beats up into the lucent solitudes,
Or drops with gliding wing. The stilly woods
Grow dark and deep, and gloom mysteriously.
Cool night winds creep
and whisper in mine ear.
The homely cricket gossips at my feet.
From far-off pools and wastes of reeds I hear,
Clear and soft-piped, the chanting frogs break sweet
In full Pandean chorus. One by one
Shine out the stars
and the great night comes on.

I’m slowly getting used to the new editor. Some features I really like — one of them being the wide color range I can use for my type. Another is this Subscript. I sometimes tried using the tiniest font in the Classic editor, but it didn’t seem to make much difference to the size — not like this.

Hunting For Her Glasses

Fellow blogger Judy Dykstra-Brown published a post this morning: Has Anyone Seen My Glasses? This question reminded me of a humorous verse penned by Edgar Guest a hundred years ago.

Your Daily Word for today is RESOUND. Well, I believe this appeal for help in finding lost glasses has resounded globally since spec’s were invented and will continue to resound until Eternity. There, as I understand it, we’ll be youthful again, won’t need glasses, and will always remember where we put things.

 I first posted this in April 2016 so some of you might remember reading it here.

MOTHER’S GLASSES

I’ve told about the times that Ma can’t find her pocketbook
and how we have to hustle round for it to help her look,
but there’s another care we know that often comes our way—
I guess it happens easily a dozen times a day.
It starts when first the postman through the door a letter passes,
and Ma says: “Goodness gracious me! Wherever are my glasses?”

We hunt ‘em on the mantle-piece and by the kitchen sink,
until Ma says, “Now children, stop, and give me time to think
just when it was I used ‘em last and just exactly where.
Yes, now I know – the dining room. I’m sure you’ll find ‘em there.”
We even look behind the clock, we busy boys and lasses,
until somebody runs across Ma’s missing pair of glasses.

We’ve found ‘em in the Bible and we’ve found ‘em in the flour
We’ve found ‘em in the sugar bowl — and once we looked an hour
before we came across ‘em in the padding of her chair —
and many a time we’ve found ‘em in the topknot of her hair.
It’s a search that ruins order and the home completely wrecks
for there’s no place where you may not find poor Ma’s elusive specs

But we’re mighty glad, I tell you, that the duty’s ours to do
and we hope to hunt those glasses till our time of life is through.
It’s a little bit of service that is joyous in its thrill;
it’s a task that calls us daily and we hope it always will.
Rich or poor, the saddest mortals of all the joyless masses
are the ones who have no mother dear to lose her reading glasses.

From his book, Collected Verse of Edgar A Guest
© 1934 by The Reilly & Lee Company

 

The Reading Mother

Strickland Gillilan, 1869-1954, was an American poet and humorist, and this is the verse he’s most famous for:

The Reading Mother

I had a Mother who read to me
sagas of pirates who scoured the sea,
cutlasses clenched in their yellow teeth,
“blackbirds” stowed in the hold beneath.

I had a Mother who read me lays
of ancient and gallant and golden days;
stories of Marmion and Ivanhoe,
which every boy has a eight to know.

I had a Mother who read me tales
of Gêlert the hound of the hills of Wales,
true to his trust till his tragic death,
faithfulness blent with his final breath.

I had a Mother who read me the things
that wholesome life to the boy heart brings —
stories that stir with an upward touch.
Oh, that each mother of boys were such!

You may have tangible wealth untold;
caskets of jewels and coffers of gold.
Richer than I you can never be —
I had a Mother who read to me.

My contribution today to National Poetry Month is taken from The Best Loved Poems of the American People. © 1936 by Doubleday & Company, New York.

I found this book at a second-hand book sale this afternoon. Almost 650 pages for $1 — quite a bargain!

The Children’s Hour

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1820) was a prolific poet who became famous during his lifetime, unlike many other poets.  One of his poems, “The Day Is Done,” I memorized twenty years back and still recite in my mind at night when I can’t fall asleep. I find poetry much more relaxing than counting sheep.

In his own autobiographical book, Clive Cussler relates an incident from Longfellow’s life. Delayed in New York by his editor, the poet rushed to to dock to catch the ship that would take him home. By the time he got to the pier, however, the boat was pulling away from the dock and a gap of several feet was between Longfellow and the deck of the ship. He almost could have jumped it, but didn’t.

That night the ship went down. (In his book Cussler explains what caused the disaster.) The next morning newspapers along the Eastern Seaboard carried the tragic story and when Longfellow’s family read it, they were grief-stricken. Henry himself was shocked and immediately sent his family a telegram to inform them he’d missed that fateful ride.

In my National Poetry Month verse for today, the poet shows in a unique way how he would always treasure his children.

The Children’s Hour

by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Between the dark and the daylight,
When the night is beginning to lower,
Comes a pause in the day’s occupations,
That is known as the Children’s Hour.

I hear in the chamber above me
The patter of little feet,
The sound of a door that is opened,
And voices soft and sweet.

From my study I see in the lamplight,
Descending the broad hall stair,
Grave Alice, and laughing Allegra,
And Edith with golden hair.

A whisper, and then a silence:
Yet I know by their merry eyes
They are plotting and planning together
To take me by surprise.

A sudden rush from the stairway,
A sudden raid from the hall!
By three doors left unguarded
They enter my castle wall!

They climb up into my turret
O’er the arms and back of my chair;
If I try to escape, they surround me;
They seem to be everywhere.

They almost devour me with kisses,
Their arms about me entwine,
Till I think of the Bishop of Bingen
In his Mouse-Tower on the Rhine!

Do you think, o blue-eyed banditti,
Because you have scaled the wall,
Such an old mustache as I am
Is not a match for you all!

I have you fast in my fortress,
And will not let you depart,
But put you down into the dungeon
In the round-tower of my heart.

And there will I keep you forever,
Yes, forever and a day,
Till the walls shall crumble to ruin,
And moulder in dust away!

An Epic Poem

During National Poetry Month I’ve been thinking about various types of poems and the history of poetry in the English language. So many poets have enriched our world by their verses, and I’m trying to pay them a little tribute this month.

You may be familiar with the poem, Abou Ben Adhem (may his tribe increase!) who told the angel that he loved his fellow-men. The following poem, which also tells an interesting tale, was penned by the same writer. I’ve smoothed out a few spots to make it easier reading.

The Glove And The Lions
by English poet Leigh Hunt
1784 – 1859

King Francis was a hearty king and loved a royal sport,
and one day, as his lions fought, sat looking on the court.
The nobles filled the benches, with the ladies in their pride—
amongst them sat the Count de Lorge with one for whom he sighed—
and truly ’twas a gallant thing to see that crowning show:
valor and love, and a king above, and the royal beasts below.

Ramped and roared the lions, with horrid laughing jaws
they bit, they glared, gave blows like beams, a wind went with their paws.
With wallowing might and stifled roar they rolled on one another
’til all the pit with sand and mane was in a thunderous smother.
The bloody foam above the bars came whisking through the air;
said Francis then, “Faith, gentlemen, we’re better here than there.”

De Lorge’s love o’erheard the King, a beauteous lively dame
with smiling lips and sharp bright eyes, which always seemed the same.
She thought, The Count, my lover, is brave as brave can be;
he surely would do wondrous things to show his love of me.
King, ladies, lovers, all look on; the occasion is divine;
I’ll drop my glove, to prove his love; great glory will be mine.

She dropped her glove, to prove his love, then looked at him and smiled;
he bowed, and in a moment leaped among the lions wild.
The leap was quick, return was quick; he had regained his place,
then threw the glove, but not with love, right in the lady’s face.
“By heaven,” said Francis, “rightly done!” and rose from where he sat.
“No love,” quoth he, “but vanity, sets love a task like that.”

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Disclaimer: I deplore violent so-called sport, especially when it involves cruelty to animals. I found that part disgusting, but it couldn’t be omitted.