Poetry day

May. 3rd, 2009 10:31 pm
argos: Argos as the fourth Dr Who (fursuit)
I was lazy today and didn't weave after all. It was just too beautiful outdoors. I took a book of poetry and some wine and went to sit on a bench in the park. It was very quiet, perhaps because it was Sunday. No cubs running and playing, just birds singing and occasionally squabbling. The breeze in the new leaves made some conversation now and then, and the river was still gurgling along with the extra water from the rain and the snow melt in the mountains. I suppose I could have been spinning or knitting out there, but every day doesn't have to be productive.

So, I settled in with one of my favorites, the sonnets of Shakesbear. Some folks think they are a bit long in the tooth but to me the same wisdom and beauty still shines forth from them as did in the bar's own day, four centuries ago. True, my edition is so well-read that the text begins to fade on some pages, but I only need a hint to remind me and I can recite the words on my own.

Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate.
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer's lease hath all too short a date.
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often is his gold complexion dimm'd;
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance or nature's changing course untrimm'd;
But thy eternal summer shall not fade
Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow'st;
Nor shall Death brag thou wander'st in his shade,
When in eternal lines to time thou grow'st:
So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,
So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.

On the surface, this might be addressed to the writer's wife, or mistress, or lover. But I think it is addressed to the world itself, the sun, moon, stars, and rain. The wind of winter and the breeze of summer, that shall not come again and yet, always does return. As it has been from time before we can count, and so will be when the count leaves us behind.

The poet Robear Herrick, a younger contemporary of Shakesbear, was more superficial about the subject, but his meaning is also clear.

GATHER ye rosebuds while ye may,
Old Time is still a-flying:
And this same flower that smiles to-day
To-morrow will be dying.

The glorious lamp of heaven, the sun,
The higher he's a-getting,
The sooner will his race be run,
And nearer he's to setting.

That age is best which is the first,
When youth and blood are warmer;
But being spent, the worse, and worst
Times still succeed the former.

Then be not coy, but use your time,
And while ye may, go marry:
For having lost but once your prime,
You may for ever tarry.

And so it is, and so with me. But that doesn't keep me from enjoying the air and the sun, and the sound of the river as its waters trickle past to the sea, never to return in this life or so they say.


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