Diary of the Plague Year: Day 102 25 June 2020: Quotidian Poetry: Alfred, Lord Tennyson (1809 – 1892)

THE LADY OF SHALOTT
 
Part I

On either side the river lie
Long fields of barley and of rye,
That clothe the wold and meet the sky;
And thro' the field the road runs by
       To many-tower'd Camelot;
And up and down the people go,
Gazing where the lilies blow
Round an island there below,
       The island of Shalott.
 
Willows whiten, aspens quiver,
Little breezes dusk and shiver
Thro' the wave that runs for ever
By the island in the river
       Flowing down to Camelot.
Four gray walls, and four gray towers,
Overlook a space of flowers,
And the silent isle imbowers
       The Lady of Shalott.
 
By the margin, willow veil'd,
Slide the heavy barges trail'd
By slow horses; and unhail'd
The shallop flitteth silken-sail'd
       Skimming down to Camelot:
But who hath seen her wave her hand?
Or at the casement seen her stand?
Or is she known in all the land,
       The Lady of Shalott?
 
Only reapers, reaping early
In among the bearded barley,
Hear a song that echoes cheerly
From the river winding clearly,
       Down to tower'd Camelot:
And by the moon the reaper weary,
Piling sheaves in uplands airy,
Listening, whispers " 'Tis the fairy
       Lady of Shalott."
 
Part II

There she weaves by night and day
A magic web with colours gay.
She has heard a whisper say,
A curse is on her if she stay
       To look down to Camelot.
She knows not what the curse may be,
And so she weaveth steadily,
And little other care hath she,
       The Lady of Shalott.
 
And moving thro' a mirror clear
That hangs before her all the year,
Shadows of the world appear.
There she sees the highway near
       Winding down to Camelot:
There the river eddy whirls,
And there the surly village-churls,
And the red cloaks of market girls,
       Pass onward from Shalott.
 
Sometimes a troop of damsels glad,
An abbot on an ambling pad,
Sometimes a curly shepherd-lad,
Or long-hair'd page in crimson clad,
       Goes by to tower'd Camelot;
And sometimes thro' the mirror blue
The knights come riding two and two:
She hath no loyal knight and true,
       The Lady of Shalott.
 
But in her web she still delights
To weave the mirror's magic sights,
For often thro' the silent nights
A funeral, with plumes and lights
       And music, went to Camelot:
Or when the moon was overhead,
Came two young lovers lately wed:
"I am half sick of shadows," said
       The Lady of Shalott.
 
Part III

A bow-shot from her bower-eaves,
He rode between the barley-sheaves,
The sun came dazzling thro' the leaves,
And flamed upon the brazen greaves
       Of bold Sir Lancelot.
A red-cross knight for ever kneel'd
To a lady in his shield,
That sparkled on the yellow field,
       Beside remote Shalott.
 
The gemmy bridle glitter'd free,
Like to some branch of stars we see
Hung in the golden Galaxy.
The bridle bells rang merrily
       As he rode down to Camelot:
And from his blazon'd baldric slung
A mighty silver bugle hung,
And as he rode his armour rung,
       Beside remote Shalott.
 
All in the blue unclouded weather
Thick-jewell'd shone the saddle-leather,
The helmet and the helmet-feather
Burn'd like one burning flame together,
       As he rode down to Camelot.
As often thro' the purple night,
Below the starry clusters bright,
Some bearded meteor, trailing light,
       Moves over still Shalott.
 
His broad clear brow in sunlight glow'd;
On burnish'd hooves his war-horse trode;
From underneath his helmet flow'd
His coal-black curls as on he rode,
       As he rode down to Camelot.
From the bank and from the river
He flash'd into the crystal mirror,
"Tirra lirra," by the river
       Sang Sir Lancelot.
 
She left the web, she left the loom,
She made three paces thro' the room,
She saw the water-lily bloom,
She saw the helmet and the plume,
       She look'd down to Camelot.
Out flew the web and floated wide;
The mirror crack'd from side to side;
"The curse is come upon me," cried
       The Lady of Shalott.
 
Part IV

In the stormy east-wind straining,
The pale yellow woods were waning,
The broad stream in his banks complaining,
Heavily the low sky raining
       Over tower'd Camelot;
Down she came and found a boat
Beneath a willow left afloat,
And round about the prow she wrote
       The Lady of Shalott.
 
And down the river's dim expanse
Like some bold seër in a trance,
Seeing all his own mischance—
With a glassy countenance
       Did she look to Camelot.
And at the closing of the day
She loosed the chain, and down she lay;
The broad stream bore her far away,
       The Lady of Shalott.
 
Lying, robed in snowy white
That loosely flew to left and right—
The leaves upon her falling light—
Thro' the noises of the night
       She floated down to Camelot:
And as the boat-head wound along
The willowy hills and fields among,
They heard her singing her last song,
       The Lady of Shalott.
 
Heard a carol, mournful, holy,
Chanted loudly, chanted lowly,
Till her blood was frozen slowly,
And her eyes were darken'd wholly,
       Turn'd to tower'd Camelot.
For ere she reach'd upon the tide
The first house by the water-side,
Singing in her song she died,
       The Lady of Shalott.
 
Under tower and balcony,
By garden-wall and gallery,
A gleaming shape she floated by,
Dead-pale between the houses high,
       Silent into Camelot.
Out upon the wharfs they came,
Knight and burgher, lord and dame,
And round the prow they read her name,
       The Lady of Shalott.
 
Who is this? and what is here?
And in the lighted palace near
Died the sound of royal cheer;
And they cross'd themselves for fear,
       All the knights at Camelot:
But Lancelot mused a little space;
He said, "She has a lovely face;
God in his mercy lend her grace,
       The Lady of Shalott."
 

Diary of the Plague Year: Day 101 24 June 2020: Quotidian Poetry: Edward Thomas (1878 – 1917)

LIGHTS OUT

I have come to the borders of sleep,
The unfathomable deep
Forest where all must lose
Their way, however straight,
Or winding, soon or late;
They cannot choose.
 
Many a road and track
That, since the dawn’s first crack,
Up to the forest brink,
Deceived the travellers,
Suddenly now blurs,
And in they sink.
 
Here love ends,
Despair, ambition ends;
All pleasure and all trouble,
Although most sweet or bitter,
Here ends in sleep that is sweeter
Than tasks most noble.
 
There is not any book
Or face of dearest look
That I would not turn from now
To go into the unknown
I must enter, and leave, alone,
I know not how.
 
The tall forest towers;
Its cloudy foliage lowers
Ahead, shelf above shelf;
Its silence I hear and obey
That I may lose my way
And myself.
 

Diary of the Plague Year: Day 100 23 June 2020: Quotidian Poetry: Wallace Stevens (1879 – 1955)

THE SNOW MAN
 
One must have a mind of winter
To regard the frost and the boughs
Of the pine-trees crusted with snow;
 
And have been cold a long time
To behold the junipers shagged with ice,
The spruces rough in the distant glitter
 
Of the January sun; and not to think
Of any misery in the sound of the wind,
In the sound of a few leaves,
 
Which is the sound of the land
Full of the same wind
That is blowing in the same bare place
 
For the listener, who listens in the snow,
And, nothing himself, beholds
Nothing that is not there and nothing that is.
 
FROM:
 
Selected Poems
Wallace Stevens
 
FABER paper covered EDITIONS

Diary of the Plague Year: Day 99 22 June 2020: Quotidian Poetry: John Donne (1572 – 1631)

SONG

Goe, and catche a falling starre,
    Get with child a mandrake roote,
Tell me, where all past yeares are,
     Or who cleft the Divels foot,
Teach me to heare Mermaides singing,
     Or to keep off envies stinging,
                     And finde
                     What winde
Serves to advance an honest minde.
 
If thou beest borne to strange sights,
     Things invisible to see,
Ride ten thousand daies and nights,
     Till age snow white haires on thee,
Thou, when thou retorn’st, wilt tell mee
All strange wonders that befell thee,
                     And sweare
                     No where
Lives a woman true, and faire.
 
If thou findst one, let mee know,
     Such a Pilgrimage were sweet;
Yet doe not, I would not goe,
     Though at next doore wee might meet,
Though she were true, when you met her,
And last, till you write your letter,
                     Yet shee
                     Will bee
False, ere I come, to two, or three.

FROM:

John Donne

COMPLETE POETRY 
& SELECTED PROSE

Edited by John Hayward

THE NONESUCH PRESS

Diary of the Plague Year: Day 98 21 June 2020: Midsummer’s Day

J came down from Froe and we had an impromptu Midsummer Dinner.

Pasta:

Chop an onion
Fry in olive oil
Add two tins of chopped tomatoes
Add capers
Add kalamata olives
Teaspoon of turmeric
Add three cloves of garlic

Simmer for an hour on low heat.

Served with grated Pecorino.

I had bought a good bottle of St Emilion from Lidl.

Considering it was Midsummer’s Day the weather was not great but at least it was not raining, at least, not much.

Amongst other things, mainly about books, talked about a film we had both seen “Mia Madre” by Nanni Moretti and La Strada and La Dolce Vita.

Diary of the Plague Year: Day 97 20 June 2020: Forbury Gardens, Reading

Reading was in the news today. In the Forbury Gardens some people enjoying a picnic were set upon by a maniac with a knife. Three dead. One was a history teacher.

Texted G who still lives there, hoping they were all OK. The response:

“Bless you. We are. But one of the victims was a friend who was a gentle and gorgeous human who deserved so much more. Strange times. Increasingly feels like a dystopian world. Hope you are OK and managing the madness.”

There is nothing really to add.

Diary of the Plague Year: Day 93 16 June 2020: Quotidian Poetry: Walt Whitman (1819 – 1892)

FROM: I Sing the Body Electric
 
I sing the body electric,
The armies of those I love engirth me and I engirth them,
They will not let me off till I go with them, respond to
       them,
And discorrupt them, and charge them full with the
       charge of the soul.
 
Was it doubted that those who corrupt their own bodies
       conceal themselves?
And if those who defile the living are as bad as they who
       defile the dead?
And if the body does not do fully as much as the soul?
And if the body were not the soul, what is the soul?
 
FROM:
 
WALT WHITMAN
 
I Sing the Body Electric