Morning in England

Morning in England: web and dew.
The county matters not in name,
nor distant city hid from view,
for this is Albion in her fame;

Who—whether solitary lane,
or verge astride the emerald rows,
transplants herself from northern rain
to southern downs—the whole land knows.

Such land of corners, rounded long
anon by strife and peace; defined
by silence, or the folk-known songs
illuminating pub and sign.

The dust of ages sticks to her—
and not a filthy layer, nor cloy
blanket of years to smudge and blur,
but centuries past in toil, in joy.

A sleeping joy, a blaring pride;
her countenance has many hues,
each glancing quickly as they ride
on past in long-laid, ancient queues.

An England now: whose quiet demand
for shades of industry, set free,
stands lost and weeping on the strand;
asks clearer pools, in which to see.

An England future: precipice
unknown, misunderstood; between
an urban fire and rural bliss—
or a long sleep, cold and mean.

The reins of heaven are not amok;
the herd may yet be steered for home;
what weathering of storms, what pluck
delivered her from rain and foam?

What rang in Agincourt, the blast
of trumpet signals to retreat?
What fell on stoic ears, at last,
near Crecy, Poitiers? Names so sweet!

What heavy blow in Zululand,
what haunting blare on Dunkirk beach?
What, though she fall to tyrant’s hand?
What was her vow, stood in the breech?

To stand forlorn, if left alone,
to sleep and yet to seem awake;
to build for timber, thatch, and stone;
to watch the wold, the oak, the lake.

Evening in England: dust and black.
Her deathless voices from the days
long gone; to be; and now. Come back,
O spirits! Heroes wait your blaze.

 

 

Autumnal Orb

Autumnal Orb! In sunset lands the beams
of eventide—though noon is hardly past—
remind the soul of misty childish dreams,
when swirling leaves of memory did fast
unlock the heart’s true joy, ‘neath sapphire skies
of many-coloured robes, of leafy sighs.

Bid “fare thee well,” arboreal friends, the year;
grand showing of the season’s wardrobe, done;
remove this weary, out-of-fashion gear,
exchanging rich for clothing humbler spun,
and in such great disrobing, lend the earth
her swaddling-clothes for Winter’s coming birth.

 

 

Ian Williams is a 30-year-old resident of Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.


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3 Responses

  1. Joseph S. Salemi

    About “Morning in England” — there are people all over the world (including me) who have not a drop of English blood in their veins, but who are nevertheless profoundly Anglophilic. England is one of the most beautiful places on earth. And the English race is, next to the ancient Greeks, the fairest bud that ever blossomed on the human tree.

    Reply
  2. C.B. Anderson

    I agree with Joseph Salemi’s observations and with the sentiment behind them. Though I possess a bit of English blood in my heritage (Birdsall, to be specific, which is the reason for the “B” in my name), I am also born of Irish (McCarthy), Scottish (Anderson) and German (Schumann) stock. It is what it is, but as for the poem, I found some of the lines a bit muddy, e.g.:

    nor cloy/
    blanket of years to smudge and blur

    and

    What was her vow, stood in the breach?

    If I had to generalize, I would say that you concatenated sentence fragments for the sole purpose of connecting rhymes. I usually get the meaning, but your expression of the meaning is less than sharp.

    Reply
  3. Monty

    I thought the first poem was fairly well written, Ian: but I agree with the above commenter that the diction has slightly suffered at some stages to accommodate a rhyme.

    As well as the two examples shown above, I feel that the following segments also show similar aspects:
    a/ “..for this is Albion in her fame; who the whole land knows.” We don’t have to be told that the whole land KNOWS Albion if the whole land IS Albion. Of course they know of Albion if they’re IN Albion. It’s akin to saying everyone in America knows America.
    b/ S3: “..rounded long anon by strife and peace..” . . given that ‘anon’ means ‘soon’ or ‘shortly’, I can’t make sense of ’rounded long soon’. (In that same stanza: it’s a shame that the rhymes deviate from what is otherwise a generally well-rhymed poem.)
    c/ S5: “..has many hues, each glancing quickly..” . . hues can’t glance. They can be glanced at, but they can’t glance.
    d/ S6: The word ‘strand’ seems redundant.
    e/ S7: I wonder what is meant by “a mean sleep”.
    f/ S12: “Heroes wait your blaze”?

    Going back to S2: I feel the word ‘transplants’ is awkward. Not the word itself, but the fact that it ends with an ‘s’.. which makes it sound like it follows on from the earlier word ‘who’ (who transplants herself from..). I feel that a word ending in ‘ing’ would be better (shifting?); this would safely keep the ‘who’ dangling until ‘the whole world knows’.

    Regarding the second piece: I think it’s a quality poem. It contains a beautiful use of our language; and it flows fluidly from start to finish. Nothing seems forced.

    I especially admire the last four lines; they’re high-class poetry . . and “clothing humbler spun” is pure quality. You’ve got a natural gift with words. You’re lucky!

    Reply

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