(Poem #1031) Wild Strawberries
Strawberries that in gardens grow Are plump and juicy fine, But sweeter far as wise men know Spring from the woodland vine. No need for bowl or silver spoon, Sugar or spice or cream, Has the wild berry plucked in June Beside the trickling stream. One such to melt at the tongue's root, Confounding taste with scent, Beats a full peck of garden fruit: Which points my argument. May sudden justice overtake And snap the froward pen, That old and palsied poets shake Against the minds of men. Blasphemers trusting to hold caught In far-flung webs of ink, The utmost ends of human thought Till nothing's left to think. But may the gift of heavenly peace And glory for all time Keep the boy Tom who tending geese First made the nursery rhyme.
Graves fires another salvo in the long-running battle between the craftsman and the mystic, and it's quite clear on which side his sympathies lie. He prefers the natural, unaffected ease of the nursery rhyme to the artificiality of the "far-flung webs of ink" penned by "old and palsied poets"; he contends that the constraints of the latter strangle both thought and word. I disagree. Overly deliberate verse can be a frightful bore at times - plodding, insipid and dull. But the opposite tendency can be (and often is) just as bad -- far too many poets use 'naturalness' as an excuse for laziness. The answer? Simple: recognize that there is no 'right way' and no 'wrong way' to write poetry; there are merely good and bad poems. thomas. [Minstrels Links] This particular opposition has been explored on the Minstrels before: Poem #186, By-the-Way -- Patrick MacGill Poem #187, Poetry for Supper -- R. S. Thomas Poem #190, Young Poets -- Nicanor Parra Robert Graves: Poem #55, Welsh Incident Poem #298, The Cool Web Poem #467, Like Snow Poem #515, The Persian Version Poem #564, Warning to Children Poem #663, A Child's Nightmare Poem #763, Love Without Hope Poem #840, The Travellers' Curse after Misdirection Poem #1031, Wild Strawberries And finally, strawberries: Poem #274, This Is Just To Say -- William Carlos Williams Poem #827, Strawberries -- Edwin Morgan Poem #1031, Wild Strawberries -- Robert Graves