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This year’s Scarriet 2018 March Madness Tournament is a contest between great sentimental poems.

We use Sentimental Poems because sentimentality in the United States has long been seen as a great fault in poetry.

It is necessary we bring attention to a crucial fact which is so obvious many overlook it: In the last 100 years, it is considered a virtue for the poet to avoid sentimentality.

But poetry does not belong to the factual.

Ever since Socrates pointed out that Homer wasn’t trustworthy when it came to chariots, law, war, or government, the fact that poetry is not factual has been understood and accepted.

As science grew in stature, it was only natural that Plato was seen as more and more correct—science, the eyes and ears of discovery, made the imagination of lyric song seem feeble by comparison.  Entertainment, Plato feared, could take the place of truth—and destroy society, by making it tyrannical, complacent, sensual, and blind.

Plato’s notion, to put it simply, triumphed.

Homer was no longer considered a text book for knowledge.

Poetry was just poetry.

Religion and science—one, an imaginative display of morals, the other, an imaginative display of reason, became the twin replacements of poetry for all mankind.

Poetry still mattered, but it belonged to entertainment and song, the frivolous, the sentimental—as much as these matter, and they do.  The sentimental was not considered a bad thing, but it was never confused with science. Nor was poetry confused with religion. Religion, with its unchanging sacred texts, was society’s moral guide; a poem springs up suddenly in a person’s mind, a fanciful thing, a piece of religion for the moment—not a bad thing, necessarily, but ranked below science and religion.

Poetry sat on the sidelines for two thousand years.  Homer made it glorious, Plato killed it, and then Science and Religion, for a couple of millennia, were Homer’s two important substitutes.

For two thousand years poetry was sentimental, not factual.

Religion bleeds into poetry (quite naturally) —Dante, Petrarch, Shakespeare, Milton—and in the rival arts, painting, and music—helps religiosity (high sentiment) to thrive and not be overthrown by science (fact).

Music and painting were especially glorious—we use the word without irony—(and religious) during the Renaissance, becoming almost scientific; musicians like Beethoven proved music is more than entertainment—it enriches the soul as much as religion.  Plato would certainly have approved of Bach and Beethoven, if not Goya and Shelley.

Poetry crept back into good standing (since being dethroned by Plato) through religion’s back door—as religion—especially during the Enlightenment and the 19th century—became more and more disgraced by science.

Modernism changed all that.

In the beginning of the 20th century, poetry (together with painting and music) decided it didn’t need religion or science.

Perspective (the mathematics of seeing), which developed in Renaissance painting, is science.

Cubism, Collage, (2-dimensional fragments) and Abstract painting’s color-mixing do not constitute scientific advancement.

Speech and versification enhance each other in poets like Pope and Byron—this has a certain scientific validity—poetry dribbling off into awkward prose, as it pretends to “paint” an “image,” does not.

Verse exists as written music.   Verse, like music, is a system of notation.  Beethoven’s notes do not float around experimentally on the page—Beethoven’s genius exists both in the notation, and in what the notation projects, with the sound of musical instruments. Beethoven’s genius also lies largely in the realm of the sentimental. Which is not a bad thing at all. Sentimentality occupies the battle-ground middle between religion and science—the genius of the modern is found more in artists like Beethoven and Byron, than in the more self-conscious “modernist revolution” of the 20th century—which was largely a step backwards for art and poetry, as talkers like Ezra Pound and John Dewey gained ascendancy.

Here’s an example of the pseudo-science which infested 20th century Modernism: Charles Olson’s idea that poetry is expressed as “breath,” and can be notated as such, on the page.  Yes, people breathe as they read verse, but “the breath” has nothing to do with verse in any measurable way.  A sigh is dramatic, sure. But a sigh isn’t scientific. Yet no one laughed at Olson’s idea. Modernists took it seriously.

And here in 2018, in the wake of Modernism with its sharp-pointed, experimental, unscientific irreverence, poets continue since 1900 to frown on anything sentimental, associating it with flowery, Victorian verse—when the sentimental belongs to the genius of great poetry.

Poetry is sentimental.

Bad poetry is sentimental only because all poetry is sentimental.

The damaging mistake Modernism made, dumping anything pre-1900, in its pursuit of the non-existent “new” (never really described or defined) was the insistence that sentimentalism was bad.

It was a logical mistake, as we have just shown: all poetry (since Socrates knocked off Homer) is sentimental, not factual; Modernism’s childish, fake-science, tantrum against the sentimental was a gambit against religion, which was already collapsing before the advent of science.

Modernism did not embody scientific glory—unless skyscrapers as architecture belong to science.

The 20th century engineers and physicists (far closer to Leonardo da Vinci than William Carlos Williams) were scientific; religion lived on in the lives of the poor, even as Nietzsche-inspired, 20th century professors said God was dead; and meanwhile the Modern poets dug themselves into a hole—rejecting religion, while proudly beating their chests (Modernism’s crackpot identity was male) before the idol of pseudo-science. Modern poetry fell into oblivion, where it still exists today—secular, unscientific, unsentimental, unmusical, without a public, or an identity.

Sentimental poetry did live on throughout the 20th century—poetry is sentimental, after all.  It continued to thrive, in popular music, but as poetry, it mostly thrived beneath the Modernist headlines.

To highlight this argument, Scarriet’s 2018 March Madness Tournament will feature great sentimental poetry.

Before we start, we’d like to define the issue in more detail.

We do not assert that mawkish, simplistic, hearts-and-flowers, unicorns-and-rainbows, poetry is good.

But tedious, pedantic, dry, prosaic poetry is not good, either.

We simply maintain that all poetry, and the very best poetry, is sentimental, rather than factual—despite what Modernist scholars might say.

It is necessary to point out that verse is not, and cannot, as verse, be somehow less than prose, for verse cannot be anything but prose—with the addition of music.

Verse, not prose, has the unique categorical identity which meets the scientific standard of a recognizable art, because verse is prose-plus-one.  Verse is prose and more.  Here is the simple, scientific fact of verse as an identifying category, which satisfies the minimal material requirements of the category, poetry.

The objection can be raised that the following two things exist

1. prose and

2. prose which has a poetic quality, but is not verse

and therefore, poetry can exist without verse.

But to say that prose can be poetic while still being prose, is really to say nothing at all; for if we put an example of prose next to prose-which-is-poetic, it only proves that some prose writing samples are more beautiful than other prose writing samples.

This still does not change this fact: Verse is prose-plus-one.  Prose can be enchanting for various reasons; it can have a greater interest, for example, if it touches on topics interesting to us—but the topic is interesting, not the prose; the content of prose can have all sorts of effects on us—secondly, and more important, prose can certainly appeal for all sorts of sensual reasons, in terms of painting and rhythm and sentiment, and this is why we enjoy short stories and novels. But again, verse is all of this and more; verse is, by definition, prose-plus-one.

To repeat: Verse is more than prose. Prose is not more than verse.

What do we mean, exactly, by sentimental?  Isn’t there excellent verse which is not sentimental at all?  No, not really, if we simply define sentimental as the opposite of factual.

We might be confused here, because a fact can be sentimental; a simple object, for instance, from our past, which has associations for us alone—there it is, a souvenir, a fact which can move us to tears.

Just as verse is prose-and-more, the sentimental is fact-and-more.  Poetry adds sentiment to the fact.

Here are two examples of good poems, and because they are poems, they are sentimental; they are not sentimental because they are good, or good because they are sentimental.  The sentimental is a given for the poem. And because facts come first, and sentiment is added, poems use facts, even though poems are not factual.

Think of Byron’s famous lyric, “We Shall Go No More A Roving.”  The sentiment is right there in the title. “No more!” Something we did together which was pleasantly thrilling will never happen again.  

If this Byron lyric not sentimental, nothing is.   But we can state its theme in prose.  The sentimentality can be glimpsed in the prose, in the preface, in the idea.  The verse completes what the prose has started.

Facts, and this should not be surprising, do a lot of the work in sentimental poetry.  One of the things which makes Byron’s gushing lyric gloriously sentimental, for instance, is the fact that it is not just I who shall “go no more a roving,” but we shall “go no more a roving.” This is a fact, and the fact contributes to the sentimentality; or, it might be argued, the sentimentality contributes to the fact.

Carl Sandburg, born in 1878, got his first break in 1914 when his poems were accepted by Poetry, the little Modernist magazine from Chicago—where Sandburg was raised. Sandburg was initially famous for his “hog butcher for the world” poem about Chicago, but the Modernists (including the academically influential New Critics) withdrew their support as Sandburg gained real fame as a populist, sentimental poet. Sandburg even became a folk singer; his poem “Cool Tombs” was published in 1918, and you can hear Sandburg reading this masterpiece of sentimentality on YouTube—and you can hear Sandburg singing folk songs on YouTube, as well.  What is sentimental about a “cool tomb,” exactly?  Is it the sound-echo of “cool” and “tomb?” The sentimental in poetry proves the sentimental is not always a simple formula.

Shelley’s “Ozymandias” might be preferred by Moderns, because on the face of it, this poem doesn’t seem very sentimental at all.  Shelley’s poem is factual: a traveler sees a ruin. Shelley describes the facts as they are—here’s what the traveler sees.  But upon reflection, one recognizes how powerful the sentiment of the poem is—a great thing existed, and is now gone.  And yet, what is gone was evil, and the poem mocks its loss, and the final image of the poem is simply and factually, “the lone and level sands stretch far away.”

However, and we don’t need to push this point more than necessary, the whole power of Shelley’s poem is sentimental.  The fact of the statue, half-sunken in the sands of a desert, is just that—a fact.  Were it only this, the fact would not be a poem—all poems, to be poems, must be sentimental; the sentiment is added to the fact.

The poet makes us feel the sentimental significance of the fact; this is what all poems do.

And now to the Tournament…

Our readers will recognize quite a few of the older poems—and why not?  The greatly sentimental is greatly popular.

Most will recognize these poems right up through “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” by T.S. Eliot.

The half-dozen poems composed more recently, in the fourth and final bracket, will not be as familiar, since sentimental examples of verse no longer get the attention they deserve; we bravely furnish them forth to stand with the great sentimental poems of old.

“Sentimental” by Albert Goldbarth is not actually sentimental; the poem is more of a commentary on sentimentality by a pedantic modern, in the middle of the modern, anti-sentimental era.

“A Dog’s Death” may be the most sentimental poem ever written, and it comes to us from a novelist; as respectable poets in the 20th century tended to avoid sentimentality.

The poems by Sushmita Gupta, Mary Angela Douglas, Stephen Cole, and Ben Mazer we have printed below.

The great poems familiar to most people are sentimental—at the dawn of the 20th century, sentimentality was unfortunately condemned.

Here are 64 gloriously sentimental poems.

Old Sentimental Poems—The Bible Bracket

1. Western Wind –Anonymous
2. The Lord Is My Shepherd –Old Testament
3. The Lie –Walter Raleigh
4. Since There’s No Help, Come Let Us Kiss and Part –Michael Drayton
5. The Passionate Shepherd to His Love –Christopher Marlowe
6. That Time Of Year Thou Mayst In My Behold –William Shakespeare
7. Full Fathom Five Thy Father Lies –William Shakespeare
8. Adieu, Farewell, Earth’s Bliss –Thomas Nashe
9. The Golden Vanity –Anonymous
10. Death, Be Not Proud –John Donne
11. Go and Catch A Falling Star –John Donne
12. Exequy on His Wife –Henry King
13. Love Bade Me Welcome –George Herbert
14. Ask Me No More Where Jove Bestows –Thomas Carew
15. Il Penseroso –John Milton
16. On His Blindness –John Milton

Newer Sentimental Poems—The Blake Bracket

1. Why So Pale and Wan Fond Lover? –John Suckling
2. To My Dear and Loving Husband –Anne Bradstreet
3. To Lucasta, Going to the Wars –Richard Lovelace
4. To His Coy Mistress –Andrew Marvel
5. Peace –Henry Vaughan
6. To the Memory of Mr. Oldham –John Dryden
7. Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard –Thomas Gray
8. The Sick Rose –William Blake
9. The Little Black Boy –William Blake
10. A Red, Red Rose –Robert Burns
11. The World Is Too Much With Us –William Wordsworth
12. I Wandered Lonely As  A Cloud –William Wordsworth
13. Kubla Khan –Samuel Coleridge
14. I Strove With None –Walter Savage Landor
15. A Visit From St. Nicholas –Clement Clarke Moore
16. When We Two Parted –George Byron

Still Newer Sentimental Poems—The Tennyson Bracket

1. England in 1819 –Percy Shelley
2. To ___ –Percy Shelley
3. Adonais–Percy Shelley
4. I Am –John Clare
5. Thanatopsis –William Cullen Bryant
6. To Autumn –John Keats
7. La Belle Dame sans Merci –John Keats
8. Ode to A Nightingale –John Keats
9. How Do I Love Thee? Let Me Count The Ways –Elizabeth Barrett
10. Paul Revere’s Ride –Henry Longfellow
11. Annabel Lee –Edgar Poe
12. Break Break Break  –Alfred Tennyson
13. Mariana –Alfred Tennyson
14. The Charge of the Light Brigade –Alfred Tennyson
15. My Last Duchess  –Robert Browning
16. The Owl and the Pussy Cat –Edward Lear

Even Newer Sentimental Poems—The Sushmita Bracket

1. O Captain My Captain –Walt Whitman
2. Because I Could Not Stop For Death  –Emily Dickinson
3. The Garden Of Proserpine –Charles Swinburne
4. The Man He Killed –Thomas Hardy
5. When I Was One and Twenty  –A.E. Housman
6. Cynara –Ernest Dowson
7. Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock  –T.S. Eliot
8. Not Waving But Drowning  –Stevie Smith
9. Nights Without Sleep –Sara Teasdale
10. What Lips My Lips Have Kissed –Edna Millay
11. Sentimental –Albert Goldbarth
12. Dog’s Death –John Updike
13. Utterly In Love –Sushmita Gupta
14. I Wrote On A Page Of Light –Mary Angela Douglas
15. Waiting –Stephen Cole
16. Number 5 (December Poems) –Ben Mazer

Utterly in Love –Sushmita Gupta

Of all the remarkable,
Things and feelings,
In my life,
You are one.
And I guard you,
And your identity,
In the deepest,
Quietest corner,
Of my heart,
With a passion,
That some show,
For religion,
And if not religion,
Then they show it,
For revolution.
But me,
I am a mere mortal.
I only know,
To love you,
And love you secretly.
I melt in a pool,
By your thoughts.
I wish,
That you would,
Mould the molten me,
And give me,
A shape,
A form,
And eyes,
That twinkle,
Like far away stars.
And me,
With twinkling eyes,
And fragrant body,
From loving you,
Shall love you,
Even more.

I Wrote On A Page Of Light –Mary Angela Douglas

I wrote on a page of light;
it vanished.
then there was night.

then there was night and
I heard the lullabies
and then there were dreams.

and when you woke
there were roses, lilies
things so rare a someone so silvery spoke,

or was spoken into the silvery air that

you couldn’t learn words for them
fast enough.
and then,

you wrote on a page of light.

Waiting –Stephen Cole

I believe if She were here
She would tell me
The cold winds are departing.

The message delivered
If only I was listening.

Comfort to the discomfort
With her warming words.
The void filled,
For what it lost,
It could not be filled.

For Her,
The rules are absent by rules.
She always knows what to say
As only for the proper need,
She construes,
According to sidereal secrets
Of the long, long day.

Number 5 (December Poems) –Ben Mazer

I was at the Nuremberg Rallies pleading with my wife,
I love you, I love you, more than anything in the world!
As she looked off to see the dramatic spectators,
she turned to me and said, you hate my guts.
I wept, I pleaded, no, it wasn’t true!
I only married you because I love you!
There is no force to plead with that can change her course,
now everything is quite its opposite,
and yet she said, “I wish that it were true,”
and would not answer “Do you love me?”
or contest “You do! You love me!”
What are we then? Man and wife
hopelessly lost and separated in strife
and worser grief than was known to despair
at using words like markers, no means yes,
when Jesus Mary Magdalene won’t you bless
the two true lovers, their heads to your thighs,
and let this nonsense out in bursts of tears and sighs.


  1. maryangeladouglas said,

    March 5, 2018 at 7:26 pm

    Thank You, Thomas Graves.

  2. maryangeladouglas said,

    March 5, 2018 at 8:11 pm

    A watershed, beautiful and necessary essay in myriad ways. Though it is fascinating what would have happened to the poem A Red, Red Rose had William Blake, not Robert Burns written it, I’m sure you meant Robert Burns. Or maybe that entry was a test to see who is paying attention, or the silver cup left by Joseph in the grain he dispensed to his departing brothers.

    • thomasbrady said,

      March 6, 2018 at 3:32 pm

      Thanks, Mary. I fixed it.. Robert Burns.

      • maryangeladouglas said,

        March 6, 2018 at 3:53 pm

        That was a wonderful typo though. Really shook up the old poetry memory traces to think what if Blake had written Red Red Rose.

  3. noochinator said,

    March 5, 2018 at 9:22 pm

    “Even Newer Sentimental Poems—The Sushmita Bracket”

    12. “Dog’s Death” by John Updike

    She must have been kicked unseen or brushed by a car.
    Too young to know much, she was beginning to learn
    To use the newspapers spread on the kitchen floor
    And to win, wetting there, the words, “Good dog! Good dog!”

    We thought her shy malaise was a shot reaction.
    The autopsy disclosed a rupture in her liver.
    As we teased her with play, blood was filling her skin
    And her heart was learning to lie down forever.

    Monday morning, as the children were noisily fed
    And sent to school, she crawled beneath the youngest’s bed.
    We found her twisted and limp but still alive.
    In the car to the vet’s, on my lap, she tried

    To bite my hand and died. I stroked her warm fur
    And my wife called in a voice imperious with tears.
    Though surrounded by love that would have upheld her,
    Nevertheless she sank and, stiffening, disappeared.

    Back home, we found that in the night her frame,
    Drawing near to dissolution, had endured the shame
    Of diarrhoea and had dragged across the floor
    To a newspaper carelessly left there. Good dog.

  4. maryangeladouglas said,

    March 5, 2018 at 10:28 pm

    Scarriet lists are always felicitous but I like all the poems on the list considering they are all written on pages of light even the sad ones and define if anyone should ask because they don’t remember or else they never learned what is sentiment, what is the sentimental in poetry though I would venture also to add to the list, The Hound of Heaven by Francis Thompson and whether people think this is a religious poem or not I don’t know. I don’t know anymore what is meant nowadays by the word religious as it has become in our time a kind of curse word. All I know is that The Hound Of Heaven has always felt to me the penultimate in sentimentality and just an incredible fountaining of poetry and I would also cite it as an example of what the person named Powers mentioned the other day about the primacy of rhythm in poetry and music;certainly in the case of The Hound of Heaven without the rhythmic aspect of this poem its images would recede, the heart of it stop beating entirely.

  5. maryangeladouglas said,

    March 5, 2018 at 10:34 pm

    The Hound of Heaven
    By Francis Thompson (1859–1907)

    I FLED Him, down the nights and down the days;
    I fled Him, down the arches of the years;
    I fled Him, down the labyrinthine ways
    Of my own mind; and in the mist of tears
    I hid from Him, and under running laughter. 5
    Up vistaed hopes I sped;
    And shot, precipitated,
    Adown Titanic glooms of chasmèd fears,
    From those strong Feet that followed, followed after.
    But with unhurrying chase, 10
    And unperturbèd pace,
    Deliberate speed, majestic instancy,
    They beat—and a Voice beat
    More instant than the Feet—
    ‘All things betray thee, who betrayest Me.’ 15

    I pleaded, outlaw-wise,
    By many a hearted casement, curtained red,
    Trellised with intertwining charities;
    (For, though I knew His love Who followèd,
    Yet was I sore adread 20
    Lest, having Him, I must have naught beside).
    But, if one little casement parted wide,
    The gust of His approach would clash it to.
    Fear wist not to evade, as Love wist to pursue.
    Across the margent of the world I fled, 25
    And troubled the gold gateways of the stars,
    Smiting for shelter on their clangèd bars;
    Fretted to dulcet jars
    And silvern chatter the pale ports o’ the moon.
    I said to Dawn: Be sudden—to Eve: Be soon; 30
    With thy young skiey blossoms heap me over
    From this tremendous Lover—
    Float thy vague veil about me, lest He see!
    I tempted all His servitors, but to find
    My own betrayal in their constancy, 35
    In faith to Him their fickleness to me,
    Their traitorous trueness, and their loyal deceit.
    To all swift things for swiftness did I sue;
    Clung to the whistling mane of every wind.
    But whether they swept, smoothly fleet, 40
    The long savannahs of the blue;
    Or whether, Thunder-driven,
    They clanged his chariot ’thwart a heaven,
    Plashy with flying lightnings round the spurn o’ their feet:—
    Fear wist not to evade as Love wist to pursue. 45
    Still with unhurrying chase,
    And unperturbèd pace,
    Deliberate speed, majestic instancy,
    Came on the following Feet,
    And a Voice above their beat— 50
    ‘Naught shelters thee, who wilt not shelter Me.’

    I sought no more that after which I strayed
    In face of man or maid;
    But still within the little children’s eyes
    Seems something, something that replies, 55
    They at least are for me, surely for me!
    I turned me to them very wistfully;
    But just as their young eyes grew sudden fair
    With dawning answers there,
    Their angel plucked them from me by the hair. 60
    ‘Come then, ye other children, Nature’s—share
    With me’ (said I) ‘your delicate fellowship;
    Let me greet you lip to lip,
    Let me twine with you caresses,
    Wantoning 65
    With our Lady-Mother’s vagrant tresses,
    With her in her wind-walled palace,
    Underneath her azured daïs,
    Quaffing, as your taintless way is, 70
    From a chalice
    Lucent-weeping out of the dayspring.’
    So it was done:
    I in their delicate fellowship was one—
    Drew the bolt of Nature’s secrecies. 75
    I knew all the swift importings
    On the wilful face of skies;
    I knew how the clouds arise
    Spumèd of the wild sea-snortings;
    All that’s born or dies 80
    Rose and drooped with; made them shapers
    Of mine own moods, or wailful or divine;
    With them joyed and was bereaven.
    I was heavy with the even,
    When she lit her glimmering tapers 85
    Round the day’s dead sanctities.
    I laughed in the morning’s eyes.
    I triumphed and I saddened with all weather,
    Heaven and I wept together,
    And its sweet tears were salt with mortal mine; 90
    Against the red throb of its sunset-heart
    I laid my own to beat,
    And share commingling heat;
    But not by that, by that, was eased my human smart.
    In vain my tears were wet on Heaven’s grey cheek. 95
    For ah! we know not what each other says,
    These things and I; in sound I speak—
    Their sound is but their stir, they speak by silences.
    Nature, poor stepdame, cannot slake my drouth;
    Let her, if she would owe me, 100
    Drop yon blue bosom-veil of sky, and show me
    The breasts o’ her tenderness:
    Never did any milk of hers once bless
    My thirsting mouth.
    Nigh and nigh draws the chase, 105
    With unperturbèd pace,
    Deliberate speed, majestic instancy;
    And past those noisèd Feet
    A voice comes yet more fleet—
    ‘Lo! naught contents thee, who content’st not Me!’ 110
    Naked I wait Thy love’s uplifted stroke!
    My harness piece by piece Thou hast hewn from me,
    And smitten me to my knee;
    I am defenceless utterly.
    I slept, methinks, and woke, 115
    And, slowly gazing, find me stripped in sleep.
    In the rash lustihead of my young powers,
    I shook the pillaring hours
    And pulled my life upon me; grimed with smears,
    I stand amid the dust o’ the mounded years— 120
    My mangled youth lies dead beneath the heap.
    My days have crackled and gone up in smoke,
    Have puffed and burst as sun-starts on a stream.
    Yea, faileth now even dream
    The dreamer, and the lute the lutanist; 125
    Even the linked fantasies, in whose blossomy twist
    I swung the earth a trinket at my wrist,
    Are yielding; cords of all too weak account
    For earth with heavy griefs so overplussed.
    Ah! is Thy love indeed 130
    A weed, albeit an amaranthine weed,
    Suffering no flowers except its own to mount?
    Ah! must—
    Designer infinite!—
    Ah! must Thou char the wood ere Thou canst limn with it? 135
    My freshness spent its wavering shower i’ the dust;
    And now my heart is as a broken fount,
    Wherein tear-drippings stagnate, spilt down ever
    From the dank thoughts that shiver
    Upon the sighful branches of my mind. 140
    Such is; what is to be?
    The pulp so bitter, how shall taste the rind?
    I dimly guess what Time in mists confounds;
    Yet ever and anon a trumpet sounds
    From the hid battlements of Eternity; 145
    Those shaken mists a space unsettle, then
    Round the half-glimpsèd turrets slowly wash again.
    But not ere him who summoneth
    I first have seen, enwound
    With glooming robes purpureal, cypress-crowned; 150
    His name I know, and what his trumpet saith.
    Whether man’s heart or life it be which yields
    Thee harvest, must Thy harvest-fields
    Be dunged with rotten death?

    Now of that long pursuit 155
    Comes on at hand the bruit;
    That Voice is round me like a bursting sea:
    ‘And is thy earth so marred,
    Shattered in shard on shard?
    Lo, all things fly thee, for thou fliest Me! 160
    Strange, piteous, futile thing!
    Wherefore should any set thee love apart?
    Seeing none but I makes much of naught’ (He said),
    ‘And human love needs human meriting:
    How hast thou merited— 165
    Of all man’s clotted clay the dingiest clot?
    Alack, thou knowest not
    How little worthy of any love thou art!
    Whom wilt thou find to love ignoble thee,
    Save Me, save only Me? 170
    All which I took from thee I did but take,
    Not for thy harms,
    But just that thou might’st seek it in My arms.
    All which thy child’s mistake
    Fancies as lost, I have stored for thee at home: 175
    Rise, clasp My hand, and come!’
    Halts by me that footfall:
    Is my gloom, after all,
    Shade of His hand, outstretched caressingly?
    ‘Ah, fondest, blindest, weakest, 180
    I am He Whom thou seekest!
    Thou dravest love from thee, who dravest Me.’

    • March 6, 2018 at 12:03 am

      There may be a reason Francis Thompson is not
      very well known.
      Everyone died before they got
      to the end of his poem.

      • maryangeladouglas said,

        March 6, 2018 at 12:25 am

        Shut up.

        • maryangeladouglas said,

          March 6, 2018 at 4:26 pm

          Francis Thompson had a horrible life. A great, heartfelt poet. I can’t joke about him. Or stand jokes about him.

          • Desdi said,

            March 6, 2020 at 5:33 pm

            Mary you gotta be able to joke about EVERYTHING.

      • noochinator said,

        March 6, 2018 at 8:46 am

        Richard Burton recorded his reading of it:

        • maryangeladouglas said,

          March 6, 2018 at 8:58 am

          That is wonderful. I was looking for that earlier and couldn’t find it. Many thanks.

          • noochinator said,

            March 6, 2018 at 2:09 pm

            This is a Burton reading too — I believe this is a 20th century poem by Anonymous:

            • noochinator said,

              March 6, 2018 at 2:10 pm

              Oops, it’s by Max Ehrmann:


              • maryangeladouglas said,

                March 6, 2018 at 2:46 pm

                This is quite lovely. I remember when this was set to music I think in the early 1970s and got a lot of airplay on the radio and the chorus sung was you are a child of the universe and all that. Very interesting to hear Burton without any music and to see just his own voice sustain this with its own music.

                • noochinator said,

                  March 6, 2018 at 3:26 pm

                  And this may be his best reading evuh! “…beauty, beauty…”

                  • maryangeladouglas said,

                    March 6, 2018 at 3:51 pm

                    Incredible. Very happy I recognized it right away (that doesn’t always happen) Leaden Echo Golden Echo, Gerard Manley Hopkins. Once in college I bought a paperback of his poems and read it all outloud straight through and more than any poems I’ve ever read outloud his have the most need to be read that way. It’s only then the spring (and Spring) of the rhythm can truly be comprehended. I think so anyway. Beautiful shading in Burton. Amazing! Each word crisp as apples can be. Golden ones.

  6. noochinator said,

    March 5, 2018 at 11:27 pm

    Here’s a good description of youthful modern unsentimentalism, from a 1974 film review by Stanley Kauffmann: “…attitudes and stances have replaced beliefs; trivial routines—like the protocol of ordering drinks in cafés—have replaced religious and secular rites; intellectual chat full of Wildean inversions and signals of despair has replaced crucifixes and uniforms. This cosmos of commonplaces supplies at least fragments to shore against ruin…”

  7. maryangeladouglas said,

    March 6, 2018 at 2:48 am


    where will I go, I implored Him,
    to the strange warehouses of the world?
    and hide my griefs in a thicket of sand

    or sink with the river beyond commands
    finding in its depths no christening
    but the means to evade in death

    the details of my unease.
    and then a golden light increased
    oh inexplicable constellation;

    not regret, but some other thing
    and Chatterton spoke to dread
    on the miserable turf

    and I saw him stay my hand
    and heard him reprimand like birdsong
    filtered through

    the chill of tubercular mists
    on the waterfront…
    self slaughter.

    stay, came the voice
    as if allied to gold
    still young and laced with tears

    or the lost years will infuse
    your reveries in the underworlds
    and poetry will go on

    without you
    covering the names of angels in your head
    as if Spring were suddenly reft

    of all her flowers.
    and language itself were dead…

    mary angela douglas 5 march 2018

    • March 6, 2018 at 4:05 pm

      *was* dead.

      “tubercular mists. . .” is crazy good.

      • maryangeladouglas said,

        March 6, 2018 at 4:22 pm

        He really did die from tuberculosis though Alice Meynell and her husband tried to save him from it. i prefer were. It’s the conditional form, as if, hypothetical. More old fashioned I know, but I favor it.

        • maryangeladouglas said,

          March 6, 2018 at 4:29 pm

          If the as if, hypothetical conditional clause expresses extreme improbability, you use were, not was. I consider it an extreme improbability that language could die.

          • March 6, 2018 at 4:41 pm

            I agree. Very nice poem. Tons of exquisite visuals.

            • maryangeladouglas said,

              March 6, 2018 at 5:32 pm

              The thing that makes me the happiest about this poem is that you can feel his happiness coming through in it and a feeling of finding balance in this world through contemplation of the heavenly world. The still point of the turning world as the expression goes. And God knows he needed that. And so do I and really everyone. Something a lot stronger than the so called “new normal”.

  8. maryangeladouglas said,

    March 6, 2018 at 4:34 pm

    Love this poem too. By FT.

    In No Strange Land

    O world invisible, we view thee,
    O world intangible, we touch thee,
    O world unknowable, we know thee,
    Inapprehensible, we clutch thee!

    Does the fish soar to find the ocean,
    The eagle plunge to find the air—
    That we ask of the stars in motion
    If they have rumour of thee there?

    Not where the wheeling systems darken,
    And our benumbed conceiving soars!—
    The drift of pinions, would we hearken,
    Beats at our own clay-shuttered doors.

    The angels keep their ancient places;—
    Turn but a stone and start a wing!
    ’Tis ye, ’tis your estrangèd faces,
    That miss the many-splendoured thing.

    But (when so sad thou canst not sadder)
    Cry;—and upon thy so sore loss
    Shall shine the traffic of Jacob’s ladder
    Pitched betwixt Heaven and Charing Cross.

    Yea, in the night, my Soul, my daughter,
    Cry,—clinging to Heaven by the hems;
    And lo, Christ walking on the water,
    Not of Genesareth, but Thames!

  9. maryangeladouglas said,

    March 7, 2018 at 2:46 am

    I recognize I’m hogging a lot of comment space but it’s only because I value Scarriet very highly. Anyone reading the following poem please pray for my sister Sharon, my only full sibling I grew up with in my Grandparents house where my Grandmother taught us to play the music and earned a living through giving lessons. She is suffering from complications from a stroke for several years now but I am in a weird situation where I can’t find anything out about her directly. I don’t think she can play the piano anymore and music was always, you know, kind of what her soul was made of even as a little girl. Please pray. I appreciate it.


    for Sharon F. Douglas, and for my Arkansas…

    that was when she played the piano
    each note falling like a flower
    on the noble guests in the

    salons though we were
    only in Arkansas, and pine woods rich
    where her Chopiana contained such gleams

    as to cause the farthest stars to
    dream and draw nearer and soon
    oh exactly where you are

    the heavens were weeping stars
    and the ice of it on our lawn
    or the turquoise ringing

    and no bell shattered.
    as if each note mattered
    more than a universe of pearl

    and unrehearsed, mockingbird
    perfection from the first
    new Christmas etched on our hearts then

    and dressed in the cherry velvet or the eglantine
    the neverland noels
    the holly candied, candled richness of it

    burning down
    with every sound
    and every sound exquisitely that wound

    of the music box tune diminishing
    secretly, diminishing somehow
    yet never finishing

    as we had already begun to do
    from earliest measures
    in the pine shadowed weathers

    or when the magnolias in the yard
    perfumed a vastness
    too hard to explain to you now

    though you will understand
    if you were ever from there
    how we could inhabit it

    this side of death
    where angels held their crystal breath
    so that no note falling could break.

    awakening the princess too early,
    her baby carnation smile.

    mary angela douglas 6 march 2018

  10. noochinator said,

    July 10, 2018 at 12:13 pm


    I’m walking to the station at twilight, my arm around my Aunt Jennie while I whisper consoling words upon the recent loss of her dear sister, my mother. She’s wearing my blaze-orange fleece hunting coat against the rain that has started to fall in the deep chill of early December. Though she’s been dead for four years, I’m not surprised her shoulders are broad and firm, like mine, like my mother’s, or that we’re three persons, two of them invisible inside the one that just for now I am. And not even surprised to suddenly feel the bitter cold wishing I was on the warm train where a kind conductor reminds passengers to please keep their feet off the seats to go gently and thank you for traveling your stairway to the stars

    William Kulik

  11. noochinator said,

    October 24, 2019 at 11:15 am

    We do not assert that mawkish, simplistic, hearts-and-flowers, unicorns-and-rainbows, politics is good.

    But tedious, pedantic, dry, prosaic politics is not good, either.

  12. noochinator said,

    March 5, 2020 at 10:28 pm

    As a prelude to this year’s March Madness competition,
    Here’s a poem writ by Updike that’s conscious of tradition:

    • March 6, 2020 at 1:12 am

      Is there a recording of Updike’s ‘Good Dog’?

      • noochinator said,

        March 6, 2020 at 9:05 am

        I saw some readings of it at YouTube, but not by Updike.

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