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(Poem #1388) Silent Noon (Sonnet XIX)
Your hands lie open in the long fresh grass,- The finger-points look through, like rosy blooms: Your eyes smile peace. The pasture gleams and glooms 'Neath billowing skies that scatter and amass. All round our nest far, as the eye can pass Are golden kingcup fields with silver edge Where the cow-parsley skirts the hawthorn-hedge 'Tis visible silence, still as the hour-glass. Deep in the sun searched groves, a dragon-fly Hangs, like a blue thread loosened from the sky:- So this winged hour is dropt to us from above. Oh! clasp we to our hearts, for deathless dower This close-companioned inarticulate hour When twofold silence was the song of love.
(from 'The House of Life') [Comments] A previous posting (Poem #715) has many links to various biogs of D G Rossetti, so I won't go into much detail, save to say that whatever you think of his poetry, the deep passion and commitment of the man always is apparent. Whilst undoubtedly a deeply troubled person, his poetic spirit seems largely romantic and hopeful. His voice reaches far beyond the romanticism of his pre-Raphaelite age on which modernism so rapidly turned its back: acknowledgements of his influence from Frost, Pound and Yeats cement his place in posterity, already secured by the quality of the very best of his work. Whether this particular sonnet - from his tour-de-force of 101 Sonnets: The House of Life - is indeed his best work is hard for me to be objective about. I first heard this in the musical setting by Ralph Vaughan Williams and it had a profound effect on me both lyrically and musically. Its evocation of an English summer day with clouds and sunshine is perfect and within its span, of two people whose very silence encapsulates their love is so accurate. Technically, its sonnet form is unusual (abbaacca ddeffe) and perhaps looser than some classical forms. One might also quibble with some of the metrical precision. Neither of these facts detract, for me, from the overall effect and the last two lines in particular which never fail to summon memories of my own experiences of silence and love.