Away with loneness–he whose winter bites,
who haunts the wasted wilderness and shores,
born in thunder on the misty moors;
who, bred by wolves, with howling fills the nights.
But bring his smooth browed sister Solitude,
decked with autumnal charms and plenitude;
with contemplation’s brimming horn of flowers,
and baskets graced with fruit to fill the hours;
often you’ll keep the company of dawn,
whose veils of innocence the woods adorn;
and sometimes there, with still and listening ear,
we might the secret songs of nature hear,
or by fountain sit, whose trickling sound
is where forgetful music may be found;
with closed eyes we’ll feel it chase away
the phantoms of the mind that haunt the day;
and ’til the birds’ soft choir the daylight greets,
we’ll walk along the cool and silent streets,
that slumber in the dark with shutters down,
until the traffic will the quietness drown;
or we will walk the idle hours at night
beneath the naked sky; the only light
the lamps that blink beneath the smog and clouds;
and night is human—thoughts arise in crowds
in minds astir like beehives, while hearts swell
like glow worms’ tails; there unseen creatures dwell
in graveyard, cricket green, and old inn,
whose chants arise to sooth the daily din;
we’ll watch the botanical garden’s calm cascades
dance on the moonlit paths and palisades;
hear murmurings of exotic plants and trees,
stirred in the tingling darkness by the breeze;
smell scents of herbs—of rosemary, sage and thyme,
that make the air tell of a distant clime.
But now I hear the mournful early train
rousing night, and sigh of passing plane,
as Solitude—to wintry chill you grow;
I feel its sharp breath through my window blow,
and round my door; the hand of loneness cold—
an anguish of the body—takes iron hold;
so now the spring of company I yearn,
but will to sister Solitude return.



Chris is originally from Cornwall, England, but currently lives in Bristol. He works as an English teacher and also in catering. 

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5 Responses

  1. C.B. Anderson

    This is vague, at best, and possibly vacuous. If you have a point to make or an idea to express, then make it or express it. Mood without content conveys little.

  2. Margaret Coats

    Chris, this poem has some little faults of meter and sentence structure that could be fixed with careful attention, but the overall idea of defining Solitude as abundant beauty, in opposition to loneness, works out as a thoroughly pleasurable meeting with a beloved sister. The necessary separation at the end, with a promise to return, shows that this is a willed change of perception on the speaker’s part. Beautifully done!

  3. Susan Jarvis Bryant

    Chris, like Margaret, I love your idea of juxtaposing “aloneness” and all the haunting, mournful feelings that come with it, with the wonders and beauty that surround us in solitude – “decked with autumnal charms and plenitude;/
    with contemplation’s brimming horn of flowers,/and baskets graced with fruit to fill the hours (wonderful images). In my humble opinion, the “careful attention” Margaret mentions would elevate this lovely poem to greater heights. Thank you for a much-needed flourish of poetic color in today’s grim world!

  4. Monty

    This is a very thoughtful and expressive piece, Chris, with a rich use of language and some gorgeous phrasing. And I suspect that the subject-matter (which in itself is a splendid idea for a poem) is one which is very personal to you. It’s also very personal to me, having always been what one might call a night-hawk; relishing those moments when the rest of the world is asleep, and feeling like one has the world to themselves for a few hours until, as you say, “the traffic will drown the quietness”. With me and my ilk, there’s always been (and still is) a will to avoid the day when possible. We might leave a party/club/gig at dawn (“..often you’ll keep the company of dawn, and sometimes there we might hear the secret songs of nature”, as you so eloquently put it), drive to a vantage point to watch the rising of the sun . . and then scurry to our beds before the the day begins (‘..the shameful day’, as Wilde put it; or as you yourself put it: “..the phantoms of the mind which haunt the day”). The day can sometimes be a bit of a blur, something which one has to endure until the sanctuary of the night comes back around.

    There’s another reason, Chris, why some prefer to exist in the solitude of the night; and that’s that the night is when they’re at their most perceptive; their most artistically creative; their most alert to the senses. Countless renowned writers/poets/artists through the centuries have cited the night as being when they created their best work, without the distractions of the day. There’s a song by The Grateful Dead called ‘Ripple’ (which is actually a song about the process of writing a song), in which the writer cites the middle of the night as being the only time he can go alone to the (metaphorical) place where he finds his inspiration:
    ‘There is a road, no simple highway,
    Between the dark of night and dawn;
    And if you go, no one may follow.
    That path is for your steps alone.’
    . . . by which he’s saying that only when he goes to that ‘place’ – with its purest of solitude – can he find his truest inspiration.

    “Solitude” is one of those words which mean different things to different folks. Some, I’ve found, make the mistake of viewing it negatively; as if being alone sometimes is something to be avoided; as if solitude somehow denotes loneliness. But others, especially those with an active and satisfying social-life, welcome it with open arms when it becomes available.. purely because it ain’t always available. Schopenhauer said: ‘He who does not enjoy his solitude will not appreciate his freedom when it comes around’. Which is to say . . if a bit of solitude becomes available, grab it while it’s there, savour it.. ‘cos it might not be there in a minute! And once one’s used it, and rejuvenated oneself with it, one’s rampant to dive straight back into the delicious madness of a full social-life (the “freedom”) for a few days, or weeks, or until such time that one’s body naturally tells one that it now needs a few day’s solitude. Then, one must act immediately and give the body what it wants. And the older one becomes, the easier it is to attain and maintain the (essential) perfect balance between activeness and solitude (for example, I live in Nepal for four months every winter, and those four months make it easier for me to digest the other eight months in an increasingly bustling Central Europe). Your words above indicate that you you’re naturally adept at maintaining the aforementioned healthy balance; and I suspect that your mind is fairly free from the hindrance of media and politics.

    As M. Coats rightly said in her above comment, your piece – although generally well-written – contains a few faults with sentence-structure/syntax. There are several instances where full-stops would serve better than colons (of either kind), in order to allow individual thoughts and phrases more room to breathe. One such instance, I feel, would be a full-stop at the end of line 8:
    “..and baskets graced with fruit to fill the hours.
    Often you’ll keep the company of dawn..”
    . . . because the second line of the two takes us in a new direction from the preceding lines.
    Another is at the end of line 14:
    “..is where forgetful music may be found.
    With closed eyes we’ll feel it chase away..”
    And again in line 26:
    “..like glow-worms’ tails. There, unseen creatures dwell..”
    And line 28:
    “..whose chants arise to sooth the daily din.
    We’ll watch the . . garden’s calm cascades..“
    . . . because the “we’ll watch” denotes a new phase in the narrative, which departs from the preceding lines; hence the two lines require the ample separation of a full-stop.

    There are also several needless commas disturbing the flow of sentences which don’t require disturbing. For example . .
    “..and ‘til the birds’ soft choir the daylight greets we’ll walk along the cool and silent streets that slumber in the dark..” . . doesn’t need a comma after ‘greets’ nor after ‘streets’.

    Regarding the first four lines: If you refer to sister Solitude (capital S) then you must refer to her brother as Loneness (capital L). Also, the dash/hyphen is redundant where it is, and line 3 is missing a syllable. I feel the whole thing would look more clear and balanced as:
    Away with Loneness; he whose winter bites,
    who haunts the wasted wilderness and shores;
    in thunder born upon the misty moors
    who, bred by wolves, with howling fills the nights.

    I enjoyed reading your seemingly-heartfelt poem, Chris; and I felt warmly drawn to it. I feel it just needs a bit of chopping and changing punctuation marks here and there, to make individual meanings more clearer. When revising a piece, it’s always wise to read it not only in the way you meant it, but how another reader might read it. Some say that a good way to gauge this is to give the poem to someone close to you, ask them to read it aloud . . and listen out for any instances where they stumble, or aren’t sure where they are.

    I hope you send more of your stuff to this venue in the future.


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