Friday, July 07, 2006

Poetry Friday 8

Today I offer two poems by Hugh Sidgwick, who was killed in the First World War, and one by his brother Frank, who survived the First World War to become one half of the old publishing firm Sidgwick and Jackson.


Is it because that lad is dead

My eyes are doing a double duty,
And drink, for his sake and in his stead,

Twice their accustomed draught of beauty;

Or does the intoxicating Earth

Ferment in me with stronger leaven,
Because, for seeing the year's rebirth,

He loans me eyes that look on heaven ?

Frank Sidgwick (The poem is thought to be about his brother Hugh.)

The Aeronaut to his Lady

      Why ?

                  Slow !'

Hugh Sidgwick

The Examinee

SHUT up the note-book, away with the pen,
Back with my books to the shelf:
Off with respectable clothes and a collar,
Off with the manners and ways of a scholar,
Back to the natural self.
For examiners all have done their worst
And the first shall be last, and the last get a First:
And the facts and dates that plagued so long,
The few that were right, the many wrong,—
Shall dance away to the sound of a song
Spurned, forgotten, despised, dispersed.
I know a spot in the Cumberland Hills,
Shady, secluded, cool;
There, like a prodigal son returning,
There I shall wash me clean of my learning
Deep in a grass-edged pool;
And the tangled questions that never were clear,
And the tangled answers, never sincere,
And the worry and fret and cares that cumber,
The faults and failings beyond all number
Shall wane, and weave themselves to a slumber
Down in the meadows of Buttermere.
What if I mixed up Athens and Rome,
Dated Achilles A. D.,
Said that St. Luke was imprisoned at Zenda,
Never agreed in number or gender—
What does it matter to me ?
What does it matter ? For I shall be gone
Soon from the haunt of the questioning don.
And there on the hills as the day is sinking,
Free from the trammels of abstract thinking,
There I shall win my rest by drinking
Draughts of the river Oblivion.

Hugh Sidgwick, 1903

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