(Poem #944) Rioupéroux
High and solemn mountains guard Rioupéroux --Small untidy village where the river drives a mill -- Frail as wood anemones, white and frail were you, And drooping a little, like the slender daffodil. O I will go to France again, and tramp the valley through, And I will change these gentle clothes for clog and corduroy, And work with the mill-hands of black Rioupéroux, And walk with you, and talk with you, like any other boy.
Flecker's poetry is consistently delightful, and today's poem is no exception - the "small untidy village" of Rioupéroux is brought to life with the same magical touch which first drew me to poems like "The Gates of Damascus" and "The Golden Road to Samarkand". Here, despite it's exotic sounding name, Rioupéroux represents a more down-to-earth retreat, almost the antithesis, with its 'rough' images of "clog and corduroy" and "tramp the valley", of the evocative dreams of distant and long-ago Samarkand and Damascus. More to the point, the roughness in the second verse stands in antithesis to the delicate imagery in the first, an inversion that does not (despite a superficial tendency to do so) descend into bathos, but rather combines the two images into a coherent whole, so that the memory of the 'slender daffodil' superposes itself upon the girl the narrator wishes to walk with and talk with "like any other boy". The last line does not shatter the magic of the first verse; rather, it leaves it intact to gently colour a more immediate present. Not unexpectedly, Flecker demonstrates once again a superb feel for the sound and structure of his verse. The poem has a wonderfully musical quality (somewhat reminiscent of Masefield's "Cargoes") that enhances both the slightly dreamlike atmosphere of the first verse and the more purposeful rhythm of the second, and, indeed, serves in some measure to unify them.  at least to my ears - possibly not to those of Flecker's contemporaries Links: A biography of Flecker: http://collegiateway.org/csc/flecker.html For another interesting treatment of rural France, compare Belloc's "October": Poem #226 Masefield's "Cargoes": Poem #74 Flecker's poems on Minstrels: Poem #509, "The Golden Road to Samarkand" Poem #518, "The Gates of Damascus" Poem #685, "The Old Ships" -martin