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Tuesday 12 November 2019

The Sunday poem: Anthony Cronin's personal anthology

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

Anthony Cronin

The poem of Longfellow's from which this is an extract is almost redeemed by its last image - and was then original to its creator - comparing daily cares to Arabs folding their tents and silently stealing away. It is still anthologised. Otherwise the neglect which has afflicted so much of the work of this once most popular of poets would be more complete.

There is however the question of its truth. Though it  can sometimes be  the function of the novel, poetry, whether 'major or minor' as Longfellow has it, does not cause cares to vanish. But by some alchemy of its own, often its musical qualities, it can mollify them. 

from The Day is Gone

I see the lights of the village

Gleam through the rain and the mist,

And a feeling of sadness comes o'er me

That my soul cannot resist :

A feeling of sadness and longing

That is not akin to pain,

And resembles sorrow only

As the mist resembles the rain.

Come, read to me some poem,

Some simple and heartfelt lay,

That shall soothe this restless feeling,

And banish the thoughts of day.

Read from some humbler poet,

Whose songs gushed from his heart,

As showers from the clouds of summer,

Or tears from the eyelids start ;

Who, through long days of labor,

And nights devoid of ease,

Still heard in his soul the music

Of wonderful melodies.

Such songs have power to quiet

The restless pulse of care,

And come like the benediction

That follows after prayer.

Then read from the treasured volume

The poem of thy choice,

And lend to the rhyme of the poet

The beauty of thy voice.

And the night shall be filled with music,

And the cares, that infest the day,

Shall fold their tents, like the Arabs,

And as silently steal away.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

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