Oh to be in England
Now that April's there,
And whoever wakes in England
Sees, some morning, unaware,
That the lowest boughs and the brushwood sheaf
Round the elm-tree bole are in tiny leaf,
While the chaffinch sings on the orchard bough
In England - now!
And after April, when May follows,
And the whitethroat builds, and all the swallows!
Hark! where my blossomed pear-tree in the hedge
Leans to the field and scatters on the clover
Blossoms and dewdrops - at the bent spray's edge -
That's the wise thrush; he sings each song twice over,
Lest you should think he never could recapture
The first fine careless rapture!
And though the fields look rough with hoary dew,
All will be gay when noontide wakes anew
The buttercups, the little children's dower
- Far brighter than this gaudy melon-flower
I was going to use this title to make some smart-alec remark after reading the line (mis-quoted too) in an article about the start of the cricket season.
It's such a wonderful poem that I changed my mind (and typical too that I only knew the (mis-quoted) first line.
My 'Nana' was born in 1889 too - one of my saddest memories is of waving good bye to my parents with Nana clutching my mum's arm at Gatwick in 1978 on my way to Australia.
No, she passed away in 1982 I think. I was living in Narrabeen NSW with my brothers and mum and dad were with us too. My mum was more upset than usual because she half wanted to be at home with Nana, and half with us. Mum and dad are both gone now too. Splitting up families - that's the worst of emigrating I think. Now, I'm in England, one brother is in Colorado and the other is in Sydney NSW. At least my parents got to see Australia, something they'd never have done if we hadn't gone.
Wow, thanks for sharing that with us. A wonderful poem - reading it again really made my day. Terrific and so evocative of the UK!
This one makes me feel really homesick, too:
A. E. Housman (1859–1936).
A Shropshire Lad (written 1896).
LOVELIEST of trees, the cherry now
Is hung with bloom along the bough,
And stands about the woodland ride
Wearing white for Eastertide.
Now, of my threescore years and ten,
Twenty will not come again,
And take from seventy springs a score,
It only leaves me fifty more.
And since to look at things in bloom
Fifty springs are little room,
About the woodlands I will go
To see the cherry hung with snow.
I guess all we need now is for someone to post Rupert Brooke's 'The Old Vicarage Grantchester' and we'll have the full English Literature set for nostalgia & homesickness
I read the Housman poem out loud, thanks for posting it. I had a look at Rupert Brooke's poem too. Typical, again that I only knew the (mis-quoted) line about 'will there still be honey for tea'. It's a long poem which I find harder to read and understand.
I've tried writing a poem or two in the past - even did a sonnet of sorts on the subject of being torn between Sydney and Southampton.
Perhaps someone else will try to write one on a similar theme? I always love to read them!
That's sad, especially for your mother. Like you say, at least they got to see Australia in their lifetime which they wouldn't have done.
Kids take these things for advantage these days, there was a seminar at my niece's school on "gap years" in Australia!! We used to get talks on careers etc
OK because you asked and because he is writing about people I know about (lived in the village next door to Grantchester for years) herewith the first and last verses of the poem - the middle verses set about systematically ridiculing people from all the adjacent villages.
The Old Vicarage, Grantchester
(written at the Cafe des Westens, Berlin, May 1912)
Just now the lilac is in bloom,
All before my little room;
And in my flower-beds, I think,
Smile the carnation and the pink;
And down the borders, well I know,
The poppy and the pansy blow . . .
Oh! there the chestnuts, summer through,
Beside the river make for you
A tunnel of green gloom, and sleep
Deeply above; and green and deep
The stream mysterious glides beneath,
Green as a dream and deep as death.
-- Oh, damn! I know it! and I know
How the May fields all golden show,
And when the day is young and sweet,
Gild gloriously the bare feet
That run to bathe . . .
Du lieber Gott!'
Ah God! to see the branches stir
Across the moon at Grantchester!
To smell the thrilling-sweet and rotten
River-smell, and hear the breeze
Sobbing in the little trees.
Say, do the elm-clumps greatly stand
Still guardians of that holy land?
The chestnuts shade, in reverend dream,
The yet unacademic stream?
Is dawn a secret shy and cold
And sunset still a golden sea
From Haslingfield to Madingley?
And after, ere the night is born,
Do hares come out about the corn?
Oh, is the water sweet and cool,
Gentle and brown, above the pool?
And laughs the immortal river still
Under the mill, under the mill?
Say, is there Beauty yet to find?
And Certainty? and Quiet kind?
Deep meadows yet, for to forget
The lies, and truths, and pain? . . . oh! yet
Stands the Church clock at ten to three?
And is there honey still for tea?
Most of us actually only remember the last two lines.
This is what is says about the place my parents now live in and the place that we used to live in BTW
And folks in Shelford and those parts
Have twisted lips and twisted hearts,
And Barton men make Cockney rhymes,
If anyone spots any cowslips, let me know, they epitomise spring for me!
Thanks for posting the extract from Rupert Brooke's poem. I'd like to see that church at Grantchester - I always enjoy walking around churches although I'm not very religious. There's always something interesting. Not far from here, at Minstead, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is buried. Also, at Lyndhurst, not far from Minstead, the original 'Alice' is buried. Should say the girl that Alice is modelled upon? A couple of years ago they were doing work on the steeple of this church and it made me nauseous looking up at this rickety series of ladders all the way to the top. Come to think of it, Lyndhurst is interesting also because Capt Philip lived nearby before taking the First Fleet out.