Monday, 21 March 2011
Today is also World Poetry Day, so I thought I'd post one of my favourite poems. Tough decision! Phenomenal Woman by Maya Angelou? Or something by Robert Frost, Rabindranath Tagore or Christina Rossetti... Dad's favourite poem du jour is by Stevie Smith, and it begins 'Nobody heard him, the dead man, But still he lay moaning...'
Below is my poem of choice. My beloved friend Mary Haybittle once hand calligraphed the entire poem into a little book for my father. I am only posting a few favourite paragraphs here. Modern life... such brevity is sacrilege. But if you are in your own garden today, then be sure to read the entire poem out loud to the listening trees... and then tell me your favourite...
A Prayer for my Daughter
by William Butler Yeats
Once more the storm is howling, and half-hid
Under this cradle-hood and coverlid
My child sleeps on...
And for an hour I have walked and prayed
Because of the great gloom that is in my mind.
May she be granted beauty and yet not
Beauty to make a stranger's eye distraught,
Or hers before a looking-glass, for such,
Being made beautiful overmuch,
Consider beauty a sufficient end,
Lose natural kindness and maybe
The heart-revealing intimacy
That chooses right, and never find a friend.
Helen being chosen found life flat and dull
And later had much trouble from a fool,
While that great Queen, that rose out of the spray,
Being fatherless could have her way
Yet chose a bandy-leggèd smith for man.
It's certain that fine women eat
A crazy salad with their meat
Whereby the Horn of Plenty is undone.
In courtesy I'd have her chiefly learned;
Hearts are not had as a gift but hearts are earned
By those that are not entirely beautiful;
Yet many, that have played the fool
For beauty's very self, has charm made wise.
And many a poor man that has roved,
Loved and thought himself beloved,
From a glad kindness cannot take his eyes.
May she become a flourishing hidden tree
That all her thoughts may like the linnet be,
And have no business but dispensing round
Their magnanimities of sound,
Nor but in merriment begin a chase,
Nor but in merriment a quarrel.
O may she live like some green laurel
Rooted in one dear perpetual place.
And may her bridegroom bring her to a house
Where all's accustomed, ceremonious;
For arrogance and hatred are the wares
Peddled in the thoroughfares.
How but in custom and in ceremony
Are innocence and beauty born?
Ceremony's a name for the rich horn,
And custom for the spreading laurel tree.