Saturday, June 8, 2013

June. Lost Love.

Charlotte Mew was unlucky in love, and this is often reflected (obliquely) in her poetry.  One senses the depth of her disappointment, but self-pity is not evident.  She stoically moves forward.  Or is she whistling in the dark?  And there is something else -- the future, ultimate thing that we all shall come to -- that insistently sidles along beside her, often seeming to be of comfort.

                    From a Window

        Up here, with June, the sycamore throws
        Across the window a whispering screen;
    I shall miss the sycamore more, I suppose,
Than anything else on this earth that is out in green.
        But I mean to go through the door without fear,
        Not caring much what happens here
                        When I'm away: --
How green the screen is across the panes
        Or who goes laughing along the lanes
    With my old lover all the summer day.

Charlotte Mew, The Rambling Sailor (1929.

The "whispering screen" of the sycamore is beautiful, as is the subsequent "how green the screen is across the panes."  Note the equivocation of "not caring much what happens here" in line 6.  Writing "sycamore more" (line 3) is a risky move, isn't it?

Geoffrey Scowcroft Fletcher (1923-2004), "Flint Castle" (1996)

"From a Window" is reminiscent of two other poems by Mew -- poems without the ever-present shadow so close at hand.

          I So Liked Spring

    I so liked Spring last year
        Because you were here; --
            The thrushes too --
Because it was these you so liked to hear --
            I so liked you --

        This year's a different thing, --
            I'll not think of you --
But I'll like Spring because it is simply Spring
            As the thrushes do.

Charlotte Mew, Ibid.

Geoffrey Scowcroft Fletcher, "Pumpkin Field"

                            Sea Love

Tide be runnin' the great world over;
          T'was only last June-month, I mind, that we
Was thinkin' the toss and the call in the breast of the lover
          So everlastin' as the sea.

Heer's the same little fishes that sputter and swim
          Wi' the moon's old glim on the grey, wet sand
An' him no more to me nor me to him
          Than the wind goin' over my hand.

Charlotte Mew, The Farmer's Bride (1921 edition).

The rhythm of the sea can be felt in "the toss and the call in the breast of the lover" in line 3.  The final two lines are sad and true and perfect:  stoic and resigned, but still with that hint of whistling in the dark.  "The wind goin' over my hand" is particularly lovely, I think.

Geoffery Scowcroft Fletcher, "Sea Palling, Norfolk"

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