(Poem #514) The Chilterns
Your hands, my dear, adorable, Your lips of tenderness - Oh, I've loved you faithfully and well, Three years, or a bit less. It wasn't a success. Thank God, that's done! and I'll take the road, Quit of my youth and you, The Roman road to Wendover By Tring and Lilley Hoo, As a free man may do. For youth goes over, the joys that fly, The tears that follow fast; And the dirtiest things we do must lie Forgotten at the last; Even love goes past. What's left behind I shall not find, The splendor and the pain; The splash of sun, the shouting wind, And the brave sting of rain, I may not meet again. But the years, that take the best away, Give something in the end; And a better friend than love have they, For none to mar or mend, That have themselves to friend. I shall desire and I shall find The best of my desires; The autumn road, the mellow wind That soothes the darkening shires. And laughter, and inn-fires. White mist about the black hedgerows, The slumbering Midland plain, The silence where the clover grows, And the dead leaves in the lane, Certainly, these remain. And I shall find some girl perhaps, And a better one than you, With eyes as wise, but kindlier, With lips as soft, but true. And I daresay she will do.
Note: The Chilterns are an English range of hills Today's poem works on a number of levels. It certainly has a touch of humour, or at least a rather bitter sense of irony, but it is certainly not a humorous poem - it is at heart both serious and passionate, with a somewhat morbid outlook remniniscent of Housman, though always balanced by an element of deft self-mockery. There is also a strong dash of the 'open road' theme (presaged by the poem's title), the symbolic connection between wandering and leaving one's past behind made explicit. And to round things off, the ever popular 'she left me, but life goes on' theme - which merely goes to prove that unoriginality of sentiment hurts a good poem not at all. Construction: The salient feature of today's poem is clearly the 'extra' line at the end of each verse. The fifth line serves a dual purpose - it breaks the flow of the poem, emphasising each verse in isolation, and it provides the perfect place to either change the mood of, and seamlessly comment on, the preceding quatrain, or wrap it up with a decisive image or pronouncement. Links: The two poets who instantly spring to mind are A. E. Housman and Dorothy Parker. See, for instance, the former's "When I was One and Twenty": poem #86 and the latter's "A Well-Worn Story": [broken link] http://www.suck-my-big.org/blah/wellworn.html Other poets who can flawlessly walk that fine line between pain and flippancy include Millay, Teasdale and Betjeman - I don't have any particular poems in mind at the moment, but all of them are well worth exploring. We've run one Brooke poem in the past: poem #280 Which links to a biography: http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Delphi/7086/brookebionote.htm and a commentary on today's poem (recommended - it has a nice appraisal of Brooke with reference to his times): http://www.geocities.com/~bblair/990803.htm -martin