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Lovers and a Reflection -- Charles S Calverley

       
(Poem #1068) Lovers and a Reflection
 In moss-prankt dells which the sunbeams flatter
   (And heaven it knoweth what that may mean;
 Meaning, however, is no great matter)
   Where woods are a-tremble with words a-tween.

 Thro' God's own heather we wonned together,
   I and my Willie (O love my love):
 I need hardly remark it was glorious weather,
   And flitter-bats wavered alow, above;

 Boats were curtseying, rising, bowing,
   (Boats in that climate are so polite,)
 And sands were a ribbon of green endowing,
   And O the sun-dazzle on bark and bight!

 Thro' the rare red heather we danced together
   (O love my Willie,) and smelt for flowers:
 I must mention again it was glorious weather,
   Rhymes are so scarce in this world of ours:

 By rises that flushed with their purple favors,
   Thro' becks that brattled o'er grasses sheen,
 We walked or waded, we two young shavers,
   Thanking our stars we were both so green.

 We journeyed in parallels, I and Willie,
   In fortunate parallels! Butterflies,
 Hid in weltering shadows of daffodilly
   Or marjoram, kept making peacock eyes:

 Song-birds darted about, some inky
   As coal, some snowy (I ween) as curds;
 Or rosy as pinks, or as roses pinky--
   They reck of no eerie To-come, those birds!

 But they skim over bents which the mill-stream washes,
   Or hang in the lift 'neath a white cloud's hem;
 They need no parasols, no goloshes;
   And good Mrs. Trimmer she feedeth them.

 Then we thrid God's cowslips (as erst His heather),
   That endowed the wan grass with their golden blooms;
 And snapt--(it was perfectly charming weather)--
   Our fingers at Fate and her goddess-glooms:

 And Willie 'gan sing--(Oh, his notes were fluty;
   Wafts fluttered them out to the white-winged sea)--
 Something made up of rhymes that have done much duty,
   Rhymes (better to put it) of "ancientry":

 Bowers of flowers encountered showers
   In William's carol--(O love my Willie!)
 Then he bade sorrow borrow from blithe tomorrow
   I quite forget what--say a daffodilly.

 A nest in a hollow, "with buds to follow,"
   I think occurred next in his nimble strain;
 And clay that was "kneaden" of course in "Eden"--
   A rhyme most novel I do maintain:

 Mists, bones, the singer himself, love-stories,
   And all least furlable things got "furled";
 Not with any design to conceal their glories,
   But simply and solely to rhyme with "world."

 O if "billows" and "pillows" and "hours" and "flowers,"
   And all the brave rhymes of an elder day,
 Could be furled together, this genial weather,
   And carted or carried on wafts away,
 Nor ever again trotted out--ah me!
 How much fewer volumes of verse there'd be.
-- Charles S Calverley
The late P. G. Wodehouse once remarked upon the lamentable lack of rhymes
for 'love' in English, forcing generations of poets to make trite references
to doves and stars above[1]. Calverley has much the same idea here, though he
takes it a step further, pointing out, in his usual aside-laden style, the
sheer abundance of traditionally 'poetic' words whose sole raison d'etre is
to provide a time-honoured rhyme.

Alongside his spot-on commentary on the "brave rhymes of an elder day",
Calverley sets his sights on a number of other poetic cliches - the
deliberately archaic language, exaggeratedly florid imagery, stirring
sentiment (sentiment should be stirred frequently, lest it overflow) and
other devices that collectively bespeak Poetry.

The flip side of the coin is that it is hard to write good 'bad' poetry, and
what "Lovers and a Reflection" gains in reflexivity, it loses in quality.
This is an amusing enough poem, but it is nowhere as memorable as works by,
say, Lewis Carroll or Wendy Cope.

[1] one can only imagine the poet Wordsworth's delight at first encountering
that princess of rivers, the fair Dove

-martin

Links:

 "How much fewer volumes of verse there'd be" - see also Poem #190
 "Rhyme most novel": Poem #343
 All things furl'd and furlable:
   Poem #89
   Poem #148
   Poem #787

http://www.everypoet.com/archive/poetry/Tennyson/tennyson_contents_the_voyage.htm
   http://www.bartleby.com/101/822.html
   http://digital.library.upenn.edu/women/hemans/records/madeline.html
   and (don't miss the rhyme!) http://www.bartleby.com/101/356.html

PS: Many thanks to Thomas for covering while I had email problems

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