Mnemosyne

It’s autumn in the country I remember.

How warm a wind blew here about the ways!
And shadows on the hillside lay to slumber
During the long sun-sweetened summer-days.

It’s cold abroad the country I remember.

The swallows veering skimmed the golden grain
At midday with a wing aslant and limber;
And yellow cattle browsed upon the plain.

It’s empty down the country I remember.

I had a sister lovely in my sight:
Her hair was dark, her eyes were very sombre;
We sang together in the woods at night.

It’s lonely in the country I remember.

The babble of our children fills my ears,
And on our hearth I stare the perished ember
To flames that show all starry thro’ my tears.

It’s dark about the country I remember.

There are the mountains where I lived. The path
Is slushed with cattle-tracks and fallen timber,
The stumps are twisted by the tempests’ wrath.

But that I knew these places are my own,
I’d ask how came such wretchedness to cumber
The earth, and I to people it alone.

It rains across the country I remember.

I haven’t been posting poems regularly for several reasons, but looming large among them is that I haven’t been reading much new poetry. For some time now, my interests have been seated roundly in the past. I read poetry now, not to learn or to experience the new or unfamiliar, but to remember, to recapture a bit of what I’ve loved before. The whole of the reason I posted the Masefield poem was that beautiful couplet: “Only stay quiet while my mind remembers / The beauty of fire from the beauty of embers.” And, in truth, many of my old favorites are favorites precisely because they evoke strong memories, and many more address directly the importance of memory itself. Sometimes, they do both:

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