Friday, August 31, 2007

Minor poets

Back when I was a teacher, a fledgling teacher at that, I shared an office at Boston University with some grad students in the Ph.D. program in English there. I had one of my own students in during office hours and suggested that she have a look at a swell poem by Fulke Greville, which I wrote out for her. After our conference, one of the grad student honchos, who'd been silently hunched over his desk in the opposite corner, lifted up his head and remarked, "You do know that he's a minor poet..." It was the only time he ever spoke to me. And I thought, here two people just worked their way through a poem the likes of which few would ever be capable of writing, and to this guy it wasn't worth anything because in some anthology or survey course, F.G. gets relegated to the purgatory of "minor British." That was in 1986, and it has never ceased to rankle me. Now that I can blog myself silly, let me share it with you, and maybe I'll get over this at last. And if it's too minor for you... then tough.

Caelica: Sonnet 22
by Baron Brooke Fulke Greville

I, with whose colours Myra dress'd her head,
I, that ware posies of her own hand-making,
I, that mine own name in the chimneys read
By Myra finely wrought ere I was waking:
Must I look on, in hope time coming may
With change bring back my turn again to play?

I, that on Sunday at the church-stile found
A garland sweet, with true-love knots in flowers,
Which I to wear about mine arm was bound,
That each of us might know that all was ours:
Must I now lead an idle life in wishes,
And follow Cupid for his loaves and fishes?

I, that did wear the ring her mother left,
I, for whose love she gloried to be blamed,
I, with whose eyes her eyes committed theft,
I, who did make her blush when I was named:
Must I lose ring, flowers, blush, theft, and go naked,
Watching with sighs till dead love be awaked?

I, that, when drowsy Argus fell asleep,
Like jealousy o'erwatched with desire,
Was even warned modesty to keep,
While her breath, speaking, kindled Nature's fire:
Must I look on a-cold, while others warm them?
Do Vulcan's brothers in such fine nets arm them?

Was it for this that I might Myra see
Washing the water with her beauties white?
Yet would she never write her love to me.
Thinks wit of change, while thoughts are in delight?
Mad girls must safely love as they may leave;
No man can print a kiss: lines may deceive.

Currently listening :
Zombie Heaven 4-CD Box Set
By The Zombies

1 comment:

sandrasimonds said...

This is such a beautiful poem; thank you for posting it.