(Poem #1191) A Farewell
I My fairest child, I have no song to give you; No lark could pipe to skies so dull and grey: Yet, ere we part, one lesson I can leave you For every day. II Be good, sweet maid, and let who will be clever; Do noble things, not dream them, all day long: And so make life, death, and that vast for-ever One grand, sweet song.
(1819-1875) A prime example of what I call Good Advice to the Younger Generation - what raises this one above the common herd, I think, is the supreme quotability of the line "Be good, sweet maid, and let who will be clever" - Kingsley gets it absolutely right, though ironically the line itself is nothing if not clever. Whether one good line is enough to make a poem noteworthy is debatable - personally, I believe it is, especially in so short a piece. It possibly helps that I liked the quote long before I knew there was a poem attached to it. I also belong to the school of poetry criticism that looks for a poem's good points first, and speaks only later, if at all, of its flaws - this is, after all, about the enjoyment of poetry far more than it is about its dissection. (Which is not to say that I don't enjoy tearing into a particularly bad poem every now and then :)). martin Links: Biography of Kingsley: http://www.bartleby.com/65/ki/Kingsley.html And don't miss the connection to Poem #255