Friday, March 07, 2008

Poetry Friday - 2

It was the birthday this week of Edward Thomas, a quitessentially English poet. This is one of the many poems he wrote in the short period of poetic creativity that came upon him before he was killed in the First World War:

Lights Out

I have come to the borders of sleep,
The unfathomable deep
Forest where all must lose
Their way, however straight,
Or winding, soon or late;
They cannot choose.

Many a road and track
That, since the dawn's first crack,
Up to the forest brink,
Deceived the travellers,
Suddenly now blurs,
And in they sink.

Here love ends,
Despair, ambition ends,
All pleasure and all trouble,
Although most sweet or bitter,
Here ends in sleep that is sweeter
Than tasks most noble.

There is not any book
Or face of dearest look
That I would not turn from now
To go into the unknown
I must enter and leave alone
I know not how.

The tall forest towers;
Its cloudy foliage lowers
Ahead, shelf above shelf;
Its silence I hear and obey
That I may lose my way
And myself.

Thomas' was the first poetry by a FWW poet that I ever read, many many years ago: I was 16 and a friend recited from memory his poem But These Things Also Are Spring's, which impressed itself upon my brain that I sought out a copy of Thomas' poems later that same morning.

Today is the anniversary of the first publication in 1923 of Robert Frost's well-loved poem:

Stopping By Woods On A Snowy Evening

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.
My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.
He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound's the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.
The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

Note that both men, who were very great friends for a few years before Thomas' death, wrote of woods and sleep.

The Poetry Friday round-up this week is over at The Simple and The Ordinary.


tanita✿davis said...

WOW. I have never read that Edward Thomas poem, but it's Robert Frost's same them, only a lot less...guarded.

Michele said...

*nods* I thought it an interesting exercise to juxtapose the two. And I'm pleased to have introduced you to a new poem. Thomas has long held place in my heart for his love of nature and books. He was a quiet conflicted man who wrote beautifully.

Andromeda Jazmon said...

Great match. Read together, over and again... awesome.

Michele said...

Thank you. I have my moments of genius - alas that they're so seldom !

Anonymous said...

When I read the Thomas poem today, it seemed very familiar to me - I believe I read it once in college. Although not entirely sad, the loss of such a great talent to war is extremely sad.

I love the linking of Thomas and Frost, too. Well done. And I'm so happy to see you back around for Poetry Friday!

christine M said...

Nice match of poems!

Michele said...

Thanks !

Mary Lee said...

I just can't help it...I have been so deeply involved in Pullman's Dark Materials trilogy (audio, to and from school) for so many months (just finished the other day) that every meditation on death seems to be a continuation or reflections of Pullman's themes. It's like turning the radio dial and having a station suddenly come in loud and clear.

And I agree with everyone else -- great pairing, glad you're back!

Michele said...

Thank you - it's good to be back !

And I know what you mean about finding continuing similar themes everywhere you look...