Friday, November 4, 2016

Poem: His Books by Robert Southey

The famous Bodleian, in Oxford. Hearts in eyes...
I love to collect poetry books and dip into them from time to time. For the last year and a half, I've also been steadily working through The Oxford Book of English Verse - the lovely blue-and-gilt verson edited by Arthur Quiller-Couch, which I picked up last year in Oamaru, New Zealand. I'm now in the middle of the Romantic poets, whom I'm liking a bit more than usual. Here's a poem from Robert Southey, which I copied into my commonplace book:

His Books

My days among the Dead are past;
Around me I behold,
Where'er these casual eyes are cast,
The mighty minds of old:
My never-failing friends are they,
With whom I converse day by day.

With them I take delight in weal
And seek relief in woe;
And while I understand and feel
How much to them I owe,
My cheeks have often been bedew'd
With tears of thoughtful gratitude.

My thoughts are with the Dead; with them
I live in long-past years,
Their virtues love, their faults condemn,
Partake their hopes and fears;
And from their lessons seek and find
Instruction with an humble mind.

My hopes are with the Dead; anon
My place with them will be,
And I with them shall travel on
Through all Futurity;
Yet leaving here a name, I trust,
That will not perish in the dust.

Hands up if this describes you exactly! I don't think it's always good to live in the past, but I loved this bookish tribute to those who've gone before.

4 comments:

Jamie W said...

The Romantics at their enthusiastic, lyrical best! Thank you for sharing.

Suzannah said...

Yes! I think dear old Q is winning me over to liking them better :)

Joseph J said...

I thought for a moment that your "hands up" line was part of the poem (I was reading on my phone) but it doesn't quite work in iambic pentameter - how about "Hands UP if THIS deSCRIBES you TRUE!" Nice start to his lost stanza.

Anyways, my hands are up, although I confess my cheeks are only *occasionally* bedewed with tears of thoughtful gratitude.

Suzannah said...

> I confess my cheeks are only *occasionally* bedewed with tears of thoughtful gratitude.

You monster!

:P Sorry about the unclear mobile-phone-formatting!

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