Kiss me, I'm Catholic.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Another Good Poem I'd Forgotten About

Here is a beautiful little poem by Roy 'Strider' Campbell (You Tolkien fanatics out there know the reason for the cognomen).

Mass at Dawn

I dropped my sail and dried my dripping seines
Where the white quay is chequered by cool planes
In whose great branches, always out of sight,
The nightingales are singing day and night.
Though all was grey beneath the moon's grey beam,
My boat in her new paint shone like a bride,
And silver in my baskets shone the bream:
My arms were tired and I was heavy-eyed,
But when with food and drink, at morning-light,
The children met me at the water-side,
Never was wine so red or bread so white.

I just like the last line so much. The little chiasmus of rhymes is a great ending flourish. (Something similar happens in Hopkins' Spelt from Sybil's Leaves: "black, white; right, wrong...")

The poem has a dreamlike atmosphere, a tinge of Lorca to it. Roy Campbell championed and translated Lorca's poetry, and it seems to have rubbed off on him. The nightingales in the quay remind me strongly of Lorca anyway.

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