(Poem #527) I Bended Unto Me a Bough of May
I bended unto me a bough of May, That I might see and smell: It bore it in a sort of way, It bore it very well. But, when I let it backward sway, Then it were hard to tell With what a toss, with what a swing, The dainty thing Resumed its proper level, And sent me to the devil. I know it did--you doubt it? I turned, and saw them whispering about it.
A somewhat old-fashioned but delightfully whimsical poem. This sort of gentle whimsy is hard to get right - it requires a very light touch, or it ends up looking self-conscious and forced. Brown, needless to say, has done a beautiful job on today's poem - both the tone of voice and the imagery are flawless. Construction: In keeping with the content, somewhat idiosyncratic. I have yet to decide whether this does anything to enhance the poem :) Biography and Assessment: Thomas Edward Brown, 1830-1897 [...] He published several volumes of verse, the first being ' Betsy Lee, and other Poems," in 1881,and the whole were collected and published in one volume shortly after his death on a visit to Clifton. Later, his letters to a number of friends were also collected and published. Although a great quantity of his verse is in the Manx dialect, he is increasingly being recognised as taking high rank among the masters of English poetic literature. Time however has not dealt well with T.E.Brown - although highly regarded, especially on the Island, at the turn of the Century, he is now little read. Samuel Norris accounts for this by Brown's use of the Anglo-Manx Dialect and his rather late start as a Poet. There was always some undercurrent of suspicion by the native Manx that he was 'mocking' them in some way. -- http://www.ee.surrey.ac.uk/Contrib/manx/people/writers/teb.htm Note: Brown's most famous work is perhaps 'My Garden', whose opening line, "A garden is a lovesome thing, God wot!", was responsible for adding a word to the language. From the OED: Godwottery go(hook)dwo(hook).t<e>ri. Also with lower-case initial. [f; God wot (cf. god sb. 10) in the line `A garden is a lovesome thing, God wot!' in T. E. Brown's poem My Garden (1876) + -ery. ] An affected or over-elaborate style of gardening or attitude towards gardens (see quots.); also (in quot. 1939), archaic language. Links: There's a more complete biography at http://www.ee.surrey.ac.uk/Contrib/manx/fulltext/worthies/p108.htm 'My Garden': [broken link] http://www.geocities.com/~spanoudi/poems/brown20.html#1 -martin