Saturday, 4 August 2012

The Poetry of Margery Clute (19)

If you missed the earlier installments, which provided some background  information regarding Margery Clute's poetry, you can read about her here.

The Traveller

A Traveller upon the hill
One windy day I met.
I greeted him with civil wave,
One whom I'll ne'er forget.

His clothes were stained with much travail,
He bore a sturdy pole,
His leather bag betrayed his call,
His eye, a Wandering Soul.

His beard that to his knees hung down
Betrayed his august age -
Old as the rocks that Nature set
Upon that moorland stage.

“Old Man,” quoth I, “What brings you here
“What Fate draws us together?
“Why dost thou walk upon the Moor
“And in such windy weather?”

“I travel far,” the Sage replied,
“To find I know not what.”
“That which the Wisest seek,” quoth I,
“Though many know it not?”

“The same!” He fixed me with his eye
And grasped me by the arm.
“You know its whereabouts?” quoth he.
I trembled with alarm.

“That which the Wisest seek,” quoth I,
“Though many know it not
Was known in day of old, I deem:
‘Tis now all but forgot.”

He dropped his gaze, relaxed his hold.
“I fear, ‘Tis as you say.
“I travel far, I travel wide,
“I journey night and day.

“The wild lands beyond the Tyne,
“Beyond the Roman Wall,
“The Eastern Plains, the Western Hills,
“My eye surveyed them all!”

“I saw the Eagle on his Perch,
“The Badger in his Den,
“The hedgehog in his leafy lair,
“The cockerel and his hen,

“The Sun by Day, the Moon by Night,
“The rocks beneath my soles,
“The fish beneath the cataract,
“The rabbits down their holes!

“Yet ne’er I saw that which I seek
“Or heard of its existence!
“Though I have travelled far and wide
“With –some say- strange persistence!”

I left him there, the Traveller,
To seek his one desire,
And made my way home, down the hill,
To a bath before the fire!

10 comments:

chanzibrenner said...

wow, incredible..I'm horrible at rhyming this is brilliant to me!

The Weaver of Grass said...

Ah Marjorie raises her head yet again. Her rhyming schemes are really quite good actually - I particularly like existence and persistence.

Gerry Snape said...

goodness how I've missed Marjorie...and this is a real goodie...I'll read it again!! thankyou!

The Solitary Walker said...

Can't say I've consciously missed her, but now that she's back I feel oddly comforted.

Jenny Woolf said...

Interesting. Lewis Carroll's Aged Aged Man is always said to have bene a parody of Wordsworth's "Resolution and Independence" but although he did pick up these themes, the poem itself never seemed awfully like Wordsworth's to me. I wonder if he saw this too?

Lewis Carroll was very mischievous and I would definitely never have shown him any of my poetry! :)

If you have forgotten Carroll's poem, here it is. He incorporated it into "Through the Looking glass" though I think he wrote it some time before.
---

I'll tell thee everything I can;
There's little to relate.
I saw an aged aged man,
A-sitting on a gate.
"Who are you, aged man?" I said,
"And how is it you live?"
And his answer trickled through my head
Like water through a sieve.

He said, "I look for butterflies
That sleep among the wheat:
I make them into mutton-pies,
And sell them in the street.
I sell them unto men," he said,
"Who sail on stormy seas;
And that's the way I get my bread—
A trifle; if you please."

But I was thinking of a plan
To dye one's whiskers green,
And always use so large a fan
That they could not be seen.
So, having no reply to give
To what the old man said,
I cried, "Come, tell me how you live!"
And thumped him on the head.

His accents mild took up the tale:
He said, "I go my ways,
And when I find a mountain-rill,
I set it in a blaze;
And thence they make a stuff they call
Rowland's Macassar-Oil—
Yet twopence-halfpenny is all
They give me for my toil."

But I was thinking of a way
To feed oneself on batter,
And so go on from day to day
Getting a little fatter.
I shook him well from side to side,
Until his face was blue:
"Come, tell me how you live," I cried,
"And what it is you do!"

He said, "I hunt for haddocks' eyes
Among the heather bright,
And work them into waistcoat buttons
In the silent night.
And these I do not sell for gold
Or coin of silvery shine,
But for a copper halfpenny,
And that will purchase nine.

"I sometimes dig for buttered rolls,
Or set limed twigs for crabs;
I sometimes search the grassy knolls
For wheels of hansom-cabs.
And that's the way" (he gave a wink)
"By which I get my wealth—
And very gladly will I drink
Your Honour's noble health."

I heard him then, for I had just
Completed my design
To keep the Menai bridge from rust
By boiling it in wine.
I thanked him much for telling me
The way he got his wealth,
But chiefly for his wish that he
Might drink my noble health.

And now, if e'er by chance I put
My fingers into glue,
Or madly squeeze a right-hand foot
Into a left-hand shoe,
Or if I drop upon my toe
A very heavy weight,
I weep, for it reminds me so
Of that old man I used to know—
Whose look was mild, whose speech was slow,
Whose hair was whiter than the snow,
Whose face was very like a crow,
With eyes, like cinders, all aglow,
Who seemed distracted with his woe,
Who rocked his body to and fro,
And muttered mumblingly and low,
As if his mouth were full of dough,
Who snorted like a buffalo—
That summer evening long ago
A-sitting on a gate.

Dominic Rivron said...

Thanks for these comments, everybody.

chanzibrenner: regarding the writing of rhyming poetry. I think the secret is to read a lot of poetry - for both the meaning and the music - especially modern poetry. Obviously, poetry doesn't have to rhyme at all but it's useful to have the ability to write in rhyme and a steady rhythm in one's armoury should the poem call for it. But that's just my opinion. Regarding The Traveller you'd have to ask Margery. ;)

WG: She does. I found one or two lost poems kicking around on my hard drive.

GS: Thank you. I know of at least one more of her poems, which I'll be posting in due course!

SW: I know the feeling. Margery does comfort one oddly.

JW: Thanks for posting all that! I must have read it once but I can't pretend to know it. The reference to the Menai Bridge raised my eyebrows. That long, last stanza is masterly.

Alan Burnett said...

How can Margery have gone all these years without recognition? I expect to see a 2013 Margery Clute day-by-day calendar with a suitable quote for each day of the year. Uplifting stuff.

Dominic Rivron said...

AB: Or diary. What a good idea! (Clearly you're another breakfast blogger).

Gwil W said...

And more than a grog of the Ancient Marinere .

Three cheers for Marjie!

GOAT said...

Perhaps it's hubris, but I see a little of myself in that traveller on the hill brandishing his sturdy pole.