Here’s a little something for you to peruse and ponder. It’s a poem that I cannot get out of my head. I first saw it whilst on a trip to England this summer to attend my dear old mom’s 80th birthday.
While I was visiting with my mom, I happened to be perusing her newspaper (the Daily Express) when I ran across a section called "Forgotten Verse". The idea is that folks write in with a few half-remembered lines from some poem they vaguely recall from years ago. The guy who runs this column at the paper then tracks down the piece in question and publishes it.
Anyway, as I mentioned, on the day I first ran across this section in the paper, I was fortunate to discover a hauntingly beautiful poem that really touched me. I hope you like it as much as I do:
To A Poet A Thousand Years Hence
by James Elroy Flecker (1884-1919)
I who am dead a thousand years,
And wrote this sweet archaic song,
Send you my words for messengers
The way I shall not pass along.
I care not if you bridge the seas,
Or ride secure the cruel sky,
Or build consummate palaces
Of metal or of masonry.
But have you wine and music still,
And statues and a bright-eyed love,
And foolish thoughts of good and ill,
And prayers to them who sit above?
How shall we conquer? Like a wind
That falls at eve our fancies blow,
And old Maeonides the blind
Said it three thousand years ago.
O friend unseen, unborn, unknown,
Student of our sweet English tongue,
Read out my words at night, alone:
I was a poet, I was young.
Since I can never see your face,
And never shake you by the hand,
I send my soul through time and space
To greet you. You will understand.
I don’t know about you, but I found this to be very moving and thought-provoking. It’s also a little sad to realize that the writer was only 35 years old when he passed away (this year I celebrated the 18th anniversary of my 35th birthday). Maybe that was “par for the course” back then, but it seems awfully young to me now.
Also, just think about the technology (or lack thereof) that was around when this young man died in 1919. I wonder what he would have said if he’d known that we’d still be talking about his poems today, and what he would have thought about our modern technology in the form of computers, the Internet, and smart phones by which his poems are whizzing around the planet…