Sunday 23 October 2016

Sunday Poem... Anthony Cronin's personal anthology: Away Melancholy

Anthony Cronin

Published 06/04/2015 | 02:30

Anthony Cronin. Photo by Tony Gavin
Anthony Cronin. Photo by Tony Gavin

Easter - 'the last of the great / Christian festivals left to us / uncolonised by commerce' as Anne Haverty has put it - has inspired surprisingly few poems. Only Housman, that most thoroughgoing of pessimists, with his image of the cherry-tree 'wearing white for Eastertide' has responded directly to the feast of Resurrection and hope.

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But then, poets do not respond directly to such calendar stimuli, as many a sermonizer and speech-maker trusting in the Dictionary of Quotations has found out.

It is not any particular dogma of hope but, strangely enough, hope itself which keeps bubbling up in poetic utterance. Stevie Smith has been here before. One of the great English poets of the twentieth century, she worked as secretary to a popular magazine proprietor and lived in the staid London suburb of Palmer's Green with her maiden aunt.

from Away Melancholy

Stevie Smith

Away, melancholy,

Away with it, let it go.

Are not the trees green,

The earth as green?

Does not the wind blow,

Fire leap and the rivers flow?

Away, melancholy.

The ant is busy

He carrieth his meat,

All things hurry

To be eaten or eat.

Away, melancholy.

Speak not to me of tears,

Tyranny, pox, wars,

Saying, Can God,

Stone of man's thought,

Be good?

Man aspires

To good,

To love


Beaten, corrupted, dying

In his own blood lying

Yet heaves up an eye above

Cries, love, love.

It is his virtue needs explaining,

Not his failing.

Away, melancholy,

Away with it, let it go.

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