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Forever -- Charles S Calverley

(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?
-- Charles S Calverley
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.


  (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

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