The fair, wild Night, with pity touched at length,
Crowned with her chaplet of out-blossoming stars,
Creeps back repentantly upon her way
To kiss the dying Day.
Lucy Maud Montgomery, who wrote a number of nature poems, is best known for the classic novel Anne of Green Gables. Like Dunbar’s “Dawn,” recently featured on Wrestle with the Angel, Montgomery describes the meeting of day and night as a kiss.
‘Viands’ is food. A ‘usurer’ is one who lends money at an unreasonable rate of interest. The ‘quarter-day’ was one of four days of the year regarded as the beginning of a new season or quarter; quarterly payments were due then. A ‘score’ is a running account. ‘Lard’ is ‘fat,’ specifically of pork.
A Little Poetry—The original poem, “My Orcha’d in Linden Lea,” by William Barnes was written in the Dorset dialect. It begins “‘Ithin the woodlands, flow’ry gleaded;/ By the woak tree’s mossy moot,/ The sheenan grass bleads, timber sheaded,/ Now do quiver under voot.”
A Little Music—The composer Ralph Vaughan Williams set to music this poem in common English and another by Barnes—”In the Spring.” You can listen to a beautiful choral recording of the song “Linden Lea” at You Tube. <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nvoYHwYDYLA>
No man is an island, entire of itself. Each is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thine own or of thine friend’s were. Each man’s death diminishes me, for I am involved in mankind. Therefore, send not to know for whom the bell tolls. It tolls for thee.
Bright Perseids flash and crumble; while for these
Who part now on the dock, weighed down by grief
And baggage, yet with something like relief,
It takes three thousand miles of knitting seas
To cancel out their crossing, and unmake
The amorous rough and tumble of their wake.
We are denied, my love, their fine tristesse
And bittersweet regrets, and cannot share
The frequent vistas of their large despair,
Where love and all are swept to nothingness;
Still, there’s a certain scope in that long love
Which constant spirits are the keepers of,
And which, though taken to be tame and staid,
Is a wild sostenuto of the heart,
A passion joined to courtesy and art
Which has the quality of something made,
Like a good fiddle, like the rose’s scent,
Like a rose window or the firmament.
Witnessing the tumultuous end of a young relationship, Wilbur reflects thankfully on the beauty and artistry of a long marriage. Marriage involves not only love, but care and craftsmanship. It is a lovely reminder to a culture that prefers the fruit punch of transient romances to the fine wine of faithful marriage.
Bloch’s expressionist painting and Dunbar’s moving poem about the plight of African Americans share a common theme of social deception.
Goethe said that everyone should read a little poetry and see a fine picture every day, to prevent worldly cares from overcoming our sense of the beautiful. Get your daily dose of beauty at Wrestle with the Angel.