Monday, October 31, 2011


Today was windy, and leaves fell by the thousands.  Rather than pleading "Slow, slow!" (like Robert Frost), I thought:  "Stop, stop!  Not yet!"  To no avail, of course.  Another instance of the World's impassivity, a topic that I visited a few months ago.

A poem by John Drinkwater (1882-1937) seems apt.  Although Drinkwater is now known only for the much-anthologized "Moonlit Apples" ("moonlit apples of dreams . . . moon-washed apples of wonder"), he did write other poems that are worth remembering.


I do not think that skies and meadows are
Moral, or that the fixture of a star
Comes of a quiet spirit, or that trees
Have wisdom in their windless silences.
Yet these are things invested in my mood
With constancy, and peace, and fortitude,
That in my troubled season I can cry
Upon the wide composure of the sky,
And envy fields, and wish that I might be
As little daunted as a star or tree.

John Drinkwater, Tides (1917).

                   Gilbert Adams, "The Cotswolds from Park Leys" (1958)


Tim Kendall said...

Thank you for this, Steve. The poem is probably an influence on Owen's 'Insensibility', particularly the reference in the final line to 'The eternal reciprocity of tears.' Owen had Drinkwater's poem among his papers.

Fred said...


Strange title for the poem--not sure how it works.

The poem is a fine example, though, of the dichotomy between what we profess to believe and what we really believe.

Stephen Pentz said...

Tim: as always, thank you very much for visiting. And thank you indeed for the tie-in with Owen's 'Insensiblity': I did not know that Owen was familiar with the poem, or that 'Insensibility' may echo it. That is a wonderful association! I greatly appreciate your taking the time to point it out.

Stephen Pentz said...

Fred: I'm with you on the title: it has always puzzled me a bit. But perhaps my puzzlement adds to the attraction of the poem. Your point about what we really believe is a good one -- it is difficult to avoid Ruskin's "pathetic fallacy," isn't it? (For me at least!)

I appreciate your stopping by again.

Fred said...


I gave up years ago trying to avoid the pathetic fallacy. I just relax now and enjoy it.

Stephen Pentz said...

Fred: I agree. Coincidentally, I've been reading Ryokan, and I'm noticing once again how the seasons and his emotional state are intertwined. No avoiding it.

Thanks again.

Fred said...


Makes one wonder if the pathetic fallacy isn't hardwired in, rather than a cultural artifact.

Stephen Pentz said...

Fred: I think so.

GretchenJoanna said...

The only poem by Drinkwater that I knew until just now is this one, which has been a favorite since I read it in de la Mare's Come Hither:


Shy in their herding dwell the fallow deer
They are spirits of wild sense. Nobody near
Comes upon their pastures. There a life they live,
Of sufficient beauty, phantom, fugitive,
Treading as in jungles free leopards do,
Printless as eyelight, instant as dew.
The great kine are patient, and homecoming sheep
Know our bidding. The fallow deer keep
Delicate and far their counsel wild,
Never to be folded reconciled
To the spoiling hand as the poor flocks are;
Lightfoot, and swift and unfamiliar,
These you may not hinder, unconfined
Beautiful flocks of the mind.

-John Drinkwater

I'm enjoying your posts on Neglected Poets.

Stephen Pentz said...

GretchenJoanna: Ah, Come Hither: what a wonderful book. It is my favorite anthology of poetry: not only for the poems, but also for "The Story of this Book" at the beginning, and de la Mare's marvelous notes, comments, and side-paths at the end.

I remember coming across Drinkwater's "Deer" in Come Hither, and being delighted that de la Mare placed it right after Hardy's lovely "The Fallow Deer at the Lonely House": the two go perfectly together. In addition, they both go perfectly together with another deer poem: Edward Thomas's "Out in the Dark," which begins (I'm sure you are familiar with it): "Out in the dark over the snow/The fallow fawns invisible go/With the fallow doe." As you know, "Out in the Dark" also appears in Come Hither (in the section titled "Evening and Dream"). Three wonderful poems about "fallow deer."

I'm pleased you are exploring the posts on "Neglected Poets." As you may have seen me say on occasion: it is the individual poem that matters, not the poet. John Drinkwater is relatively neglected, but he wrote a number of lovely poems. I have long been fond of "Reciprocity." We miss a great deal if we only read poems by "major poets" (I've never cared for the distinction between "major" and "minor" poets).

Thank you very much for visiting again. It's a pleasure to hear from you.