Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, REVERIE, by JOHN DRINKWATER

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Classic and Contemporary Poetry

REVERIE, by                 Poet's Biography
First Line: Here in the unfrequented noon
Last Line: Our brief and variable state.
Subject(s): Architecture & Architects; Boredom; Government; Ennui

HERE in the unfrequented noon,
In the green hermitage of June,
While overhead a rustling wing
Minds me of birds that do not sing
Until the cooler eve rewakes
The service of melodious brakes,
And thoughts are lonely rangers, here,
In shelter of the primrose year,
I curiously meditate
Our brief and variable state.

I think how many are alive
Who better in the grave would thrive,
If some so long a sleep might give
Better instruction how to live;
I think what splendours had been said
By darlings now untimely dead
Had death been wise in choice of these,
And made exchange of obsequies.

I think what loss to government
It is that good men are content --
Well knowing that an evil will
Is folly-stricken too, and still
Itself considers only wise
For all rebukes and surgeries --
That evil men should raise their pride
To place and fortune undefied.
I think how daily we beguile
Our brains, that yet a little while
And all our congregated schemes
And our perplexity of dreams,
Shall come to whole and perfect state.
I think, however long the date
Of life may be, at last the sun
Shall pass upon campaigns undone.

I look upon the world and see
A world colonial to me,
Whereof I am the architect,
And principal and intellect,
A world whose shape and savour spring
Out of my lone imagining,
A world whose nature is subdued
For ever to my instant mood,
And only beautiful can be
Because of beauty is in me.
And then I know that every mind
Among the millions of my kind
Makes earth his own particular
And privately created star,
That earth has thus no single state,
Being every man articulate.
Till thought has no horizon then
I try to think how many men
There are to make an earth apart
In symbol of the urgent heart,
For there are forty in my street,
And seven hundred more in Greet,
And families at Luton Hoo,
And there are men in China, too.

And what immensity is this
That is but a parenthesis
Set in a little human thought,
Before the body comes to naught.
There at the bottom of the copse
I see a field of turnip tops,
I see the cropping cattle pass
There in another field, of grass.
And fields and fields, with seven towns,
A river, and a flight of downs,
Steeples for all religious men,
Ten thousand trees, and orchards ten,
A mighty span that curves away
Into blue beauty, and I lay
All this as quartered on a sphere
Hung huge in space, a thing of fear
Vast as the circle of the sky
Completed to the astonished eye;
And then I think that all I see,
Whereof I frame immensity
Globed for amazement, is no more
Than a shire's corner, and that four
Great shires being ten times multiplied
Are small on the Atlantic tide
As an emerald on a silver bowl . . .
And the Atlantic to the whole
Sweep of this tributary star
That is our earth is but . . . and far
Through dreadful space the outmeasured mind
Seeks to conceive the unconfined.

I think of Time. How, when his wing
Composes all our quarrelling
In some green corner where May leaves
Are loud with blackbirds on all eves,
And all the dust that was our bones
Is underneath memorial stones,
Then shall old jealousies, while we
Lie side by side most quietly,
Be but oblivion's fools, and still
When curious pilgrims ask -- "What skill
Had these that from oblivion saves?" --
My song shall sing above our graves.

I think how men of gentle mind,
And friendly will, and honest kind,
Deny their nature and appear
Fellows of jealousy and fear;
Having single faith, and natural wit
To measure truth and cherish it,
Yet, strangely, when they build in thought,
Twisting the honesty that wrought
In the straight motion of the heart,
Into its feigning counterpart
That is the brain's betrayal of
The simple purposes of love;
And what yet sorrier decline
Is theirs when, eager to confine
No more within the silent brain
Its habit, thought seeks birth again
In speech, as honesty has done
In thought; then even what had won
From heart to brain fades and is lost
In this pretended pentecost,
This their forlorn captivity
To speech, who have not learnt to be
Lords of the word, nor kept among
The sterner climates of the tongue . . .
So truth is in their hearts, and then
Falls to confusion in the brain,
And, fading through this mid-eclipse,
It perishes upon the lips.

I think how year by year I still
Find working in my dauntless will
Sudden timidities that are
Merely the echo of some far
Forgotten tyrannies that came
To youth's bewilderment and shame;
That yet a magisterial gown,
Being worn by one of no renown
And half a generation less
In years than I, can dispossess
Something my circumspecter mood
Of excellence and quietude,
And if a Bishop speaks to me
I tremble with propriety.

I think how strange it is that he
Who goes most comradely with me
In beauty's worship, takes delight
In shows that to my eager sight
Are shadows and unmanifest,
While beauty's favour and behest
To me in motion are revealed
That is against his vision sealed;
Yet is our hearts' necessity
Not twofold, but a common plea
That chaos come to continence,
Whereto the arch-intelligence
Richly in divers voices makes
Its answer for our several sakes.

I see the disinherited
And long procession of the dead,
Who have in generations gone
Held fugitive dominion
Of this same primrose pasturage
That is my momentary wage.
I see two lovers move along
These shadowed silences of song,
With spring in blossom at their feet
More incommunicably sweet
To their hearts' more magnificence,
Than to the common courts of sense,
Till joy his tardy closure tells
With coming of the curfew bells.
I see the knights of spur and sword
Crossing the little woodland ford,
Riding in ghostly cavalcade
On some unchronicled crusade.
I see the silent hunter go
In cloth of yeoman green, with bow
Strung, and a quiver of grey wings.
I see the little herd who brings
His cattle homeward, while his sire
Makes bivouac in Warwickshire
This night, the liege and loyal man
Of Cavalier or Puritan.
And as they pass, the nameless dead,
Unsung, uncelebrate, and sped
Upon an unremembered hour
As any twelvemonth fallen flower,
I think how strangely yet they live
For all their days were fugitive.

I think how soon we too shall be
A story with our ancestry.
I think what miracle has been
That you whose love among this green
Delightful solitude is still
The stay and substance of my will,
The dear custodian of my song,
My thrifty counsellor and strong,
Should take the time of all time's tide
That was my season, to abide
On earth also; that we should be
Charted across eternity
To one elect and happy day
Of yellow primroses in May.

The clock is calling five o'clock,
And Nonesopretty brings her flock
To fold, and Tom comes back from town
With hose and ribbons worth a crown,
And duly at The Old King's Head
They gather now to daily bread,
And I no more may meditate
Our brief and variable state.

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