Friday, January 19, 2007

English Poetry: Winter Nightfall

THE day begins to droop,—
Its course is done:
But nothing tells the place
Of the setting sun.

The hazy darkness deepens,
And up the lane
You may hear, but cannot see,
The homing wain.

An engine pants and hums
In the farm hard by:
Its lowering smoke is lost
In the lowering sky.

The soaking branches drip,
And all night through
The dropping will not cease
In the avenue.

A tall man there in the house
Must keep his chair:
He knows he will never again
Breathe the spring air:

His heart is worn with work;
He is giddy and sick
If he rise to go as far
As the nearest rick:

He thinks of his morn of life,
His hale, strong years;
And braves as he may the night
Of darkness and tears.

Robert Bridges (1844-1930)

2 comments:

Tom Tyler said...

Blimey, that ends on a glum note, doesn't it? I like the initial imagery of the first few stanzas, but the conclusion offers no ray of light, no comfort. I wonder how old the poet was, and in what physical condition he was in when he wrote that. There is no looking forward to springtime in the poem, just resignation and melancholy, waiting for life to draw to an end.
It unsettles me, yet it is honest in a sense.

Stan said...

I think that's why I like it. The way it starts with fairly predictable - though evocative - imagery then slides off to a dark conclusion. It hits you with quite a shock. A bit like watching a Disney film in which proceeds along it's usual schmaltzy path, but the conclusion is a gory Tarantinoesque fight scene and the lead characters end up in pies.