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Ode:To Warwick

Started by Arthur Greenleaf Holmes, January 25, 2012, 02:21:14 PM

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Arthur Greenleaf Holmes

A poem I wrote for the Sterling Renaissance Festival, home of Warwickshire.  There is a small graveyard on the grounds, whose stones are etched with the names of past characters.  It is terribly structured, this poem.  But most renaissance festivals owe much of their charm not to supreme order, but in a certain brilliant disarray.

Ode: To Warwick

When vexed Demeter purples yonder corn,
And once-flushed maple waxes hollow-cheeked.
When soft-rip'd apples quit their bended branch
To sink beside the molten pumpkin-flesh
While mournful bees bemoan their dying church,

Then will I to Warwickshire return.
Not conveyed by tedious plodding step,
But on the spirit of remembered scenes,
And charmed by sweet Euterpe's lustful pipe.

Here duke and yeoman pressed around one board,
And leaned above their foamsome, pregnant grails,
While breathless lovers slipped the prudent eye,
And hastened to that mossy secret point
To kiss awhile before the murmuring reeds.

But turn you round and gaze upon yon hill—
The cemetery in that little wood.
There lies our Roland, he that kept the inn.
And Willy, too, who mirthed us well with mud.
Here a watchman, there a thief.
Crazy Kate. Nathan of Heath.

What little lives! What little tears!
What little steps from here to there!
And tho' they slumber, flesh restored to dust,
They call to us. They call to us.

Yet shake this mood! For comes a newer thought:
That we, in turn, do call them from their rest.
That every laugh and playful rolling jest
And merry song, and cheerful quote,
Lithesome hands that tickle at their throats.

In Rome there lies a poet from this land.
I knew him not, but call him friend.
At six and twenty he slipped this world.
He wrote his best in but a year.
Upon his headstone thou may'st read these words:
"Here lies one whose name was writ in water."

Should a stone endeavor thus to mark
The soul not of a person, but this place,
This merry wood, this gentle shire,
This hallow'd circle, bless the mark!
I propose these words to carve,
And stain the stone for ever after:

Here's a place whose name was writ in laughter.