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I Bended Unto Me a Bough of May -- Tom Brown

(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.
-- Tom Brown
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


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

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.



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.


There's a more complete biography at

'My Garden': [broken link]


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