(Poem #255) Forever
"Forever": 'tis a single word! Our rude forefathers deemed it two: Can you imagine so absurd A view? "Forever"! What abysms of woe The word reveals, what frenzy, what Despair! "For ever" (printed so) Did not. It looks, ah me! how trite and tame! It fails to sadden or appal Or solace--it is not the same At all. O thou to whom it first occurred To solder the disjoined, and dower The native language with a word Of power: We bless thee! Whether far or near Thy dwelling, whether dark or fair Thy kingly brow, is neither here Nor there. But in men's hearts shall be thy throne, While the great pulse of England beats. Thou coiner of a word unknown To Keats! And nevermore must printer do As men did long ago; but run "For" into "ever," bidding two Be one. "Forever"! passion-fraught, it throws O'er the dim page a gloom, a glamour: It's sweet, it's strange; and I suppose It's grammar. "Forever"! 'Tis a single word! And yet our fathers deemed it two: Nor am I confident they erred; Are you?
Calverley has written a number of marvellously irreverent poems, just old-fashioned enough to be charming, and full of little asides to the reader and comments on the poem. He does overdo it at times, but when it works, as in today's poem, the effect is truly delightful. The penultimate verse, incidentally, is a lovely example of bathos (the descent from the sublime to the ridiculous), another technique Calverley uses very effectively. Biography (1831 - 1884) English poet, humorist, parodist, and translator; his promising career as a lawyer was cut short by a severe head injury which, however, did not impair his mental faculties. -- Poets' Corner Charles Stuart Calverley, born on December 22, 1831, at Martley, Worcestershire, was educated at Marlborough College, Harrow, Oxford, and Cambridge, and was elected a fellow of Christ's College and appointed a lecturer in Classics in 1857. His Verses and Translations (1862), and later translations of Theocritus and Virgil, stem from his academic research. In 1863 he married his cousin Ellen and began to study law at the Inner Temple. Shortly after being called to the Bar in 1865, Calverley had a skating accident that was to put an end to his career. He continued to write light verse, publishing poems in journals, and then collecting them in Fly Leaves in 1872. He lived on, sickly, until his death from Bright's disease in 1884, and was survived by his wife and two children. His Literary Remains came out posthumously in 1865. -- Representative Poetry Online <http://www.utlink.utoronto.ca/utel/rp/authors/CALVER.HTML>