Friday, September 23, 2011

Memory: "There Is Nothing To Be Frightened Of"

I intended to move from the subject of love to the subject of memory.  But, as it happens, the three poems that I had in mind turn out to have (perhaps not surprisingly) a waft of love about them.

                                                  George Charlton
      "The Churchyard at Leonard Stanley, Gloucestershire: Spring" (1942)

First, the antipodes:


Is Memory most of miseries miserable,
Or the one flower of ease in bitterest hell?

William Rossetti (editor), The Collected Works of Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Volume I (1886). 

Of course, the answer to Rossetti's question is:  "It depends."

                                                  George Charlton
                  "The Churchyard at Leonard Stanley: Summer" (1942)

Next, a rare short poem by Robert Bridges (he usually tended to go on at greater length).


Mazing around my mind like moths at a shaded candle,
   In my heart like lost bats in a cave fluttering,
Mock ye the charm whereby I thought reverently to lay you,
   When to the wall I nail'd your reticent effigys?

Robert Bridges, October and Other Poems (1920).

"Reticent effigys" is the fine thing here, isn't it?  As is the idea of nailing them to the wall.  As is the idea that one could believe for a moment that they might be "reverently" laid to rest.  Fat chance.

                                                    George Charlton
                     "The Churchyard at Leonard Stanley: Autumn" (1942)

And, finally, something that may hold out some hope.

            In the Blindfold Hours

In the blindfold hours,
in the memory wars,
don't fool yourself it never happened,
that you never loved her.
Don't degrade yourself with empty hopes like these.

Go to the window.  Listen to the trees.
It is only air we live in.
There is nothing to be frightened of.

Hugo Williams, Dock Leaves (1994).

                                                    George Charlton
                      "The Churchyard at Leonard Stanley: Winter" (1942)

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