Poetry Month, hurrah! The clever people over at Poets.org have compiled 30 ways to celebrate Poetry in April, including put a poem in your pocket; recite a poem to family and friends; buy a book of poetry; revisit a poem. Recently, I’ve been thinking of Christina Rosetti, who held sway with me in my younger days. I was very fond of her book Goblin Market, illustrated by her brother Dante Gabriel Rossetti, a Pre-Raphealite painter. The poems seem a gloomy bunch now, not as I remembered them. Here’s one:
A Daughter of Eve
Christina Rossetti (1830-1894)
A fool I was to sleep at noon,
And wake when night is chilly
Beneath the comfortless cold moon;
A fool to pluck my rose too soon,
A fool to snap my lily.
My garden-plot I have not kept;
Faded and all-forsaken,
I weep as I have never wept:
Oh it was summer when I slept,
It’s winter now I waken.
Talk what you please of future spring
And sun-warm’d sweet to-morrow:–
Stripp’d bare of hope and everything,
No more to laugh, no more to sing,
I sit alone with sorrow.
Not so cheering, right? But I admired her accomplishments and as a young writer saw in her a model. Eleanor Farjeon is lighter in every way and had the luck or good sense to partner with the mightily talented illustrator Edward Ardizzone in many of her books for children. She came from an artistic family as well. At 18 she wrote the libretto for an opera that was produced in London. Here is her poem about poetry, as good a place as any to begin a month of poems. Maybe better.
Eleanor Farjeon(1881 – 1965)
What is Poetry? Who knows?
Not a rose, but the scent of a rose;
Not the sky, but the light in the sky;
Not the fly, but the gleam of the fly;
Not the sea, but the sound of the sea;
Not myself, but what makes me;
See, hear, and feel something that prose
Cannot: and what is, who knows?