Thursday, July 10, 2014

A Song from Shakespeare

I normally don't go in for anthologies, especially of the poem-a-day variety. But I picked up Poem for the Day (ed. Nicholas Albery) at a book sale after reading Cornford's "To a Fat Lady Seen from the Train." I've been catching up on the year and read a snippet of Shakespeare today, the latter half of which I had jotted down after reading it in an epigram to another poem a month or so ago. I like these little synchronicities of reading. So here it is, a thing of beauty, an ephemeral song about the ephemarality of youth and eros:

from Twelfth Night - Act Two, Scene Three

    O mistress mine, where are you roaming?
    O, stay and hear; your true love's coming,
    That can sing both high and low:
    Trip no further, pretty sweeting;
    Journeys end in lovers meeting,
    Every wise man's son doth know.
    What is love? 'tis not hereafter;
    Present mirth hath present laughter;
    What's to come is still unsure:
    In delay there lies no plenty;
    Then come kiss me, sweet and twenty,
    Youth's a stuff will not endure.

And a side note: though the Burnett compendium of A.E. Housman (which lists traceable influences and similar lines in other works) doesn't mention this song, I'm quite sure there is a link between youth's a stuff will not endure and Housman's breath's a ware that will not keep. 

Lines Written between Dublin and Keflavik

These words are not meant to be read in their entirety. Skim them the way this plane skims the cloud layer, jostling sometim...