Tuesday, June 22, 2010

John Drinkwater: "Politics"

The following poem is by John Drinkwater (1882-1937).


You say a thousand things,
And with strange passion hotly I agree,
And praise your zest,
And then
A blackbird sings
On April lilac, or fieldfaring men,
Ghostlike, with loaded wain,
Come down the twilit lane
To rest,
And what is all your argument to me?

Oh yes -- I know, I know,
It must be so --
You must devise
Your myriad policies,
For we are little wise,
And must be led and marshalled, lest we keep
Too fast a sleep
Far from the central world's realities.
Yes, we must heed --
For surely you reveal
Life's very heart; surely with flaming zeal
You search our folly and our secret need;
And surely it is wrong
To count my blackbird's song,
My cones of lilac, and my wagon team,
More than a world of dream.

But still
A voice calls from the hill --
I must away --
I cannot hear your argument to-day.

Tides (1917). 

I recommend a little book by Drinkwater titled The World and the Artist (1922).  In it, Drinkwater laments the harmful impact of modern technology on the way we live our lives, and suggests how poetry might rescue us.  Alas, this was a lost (though honorable) cause even in 1922.

                           Samuel Palmer, "The Bright Cloud" (c. 1833)

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