>100 Virago Facts — Friday Poetry Blogging edition

>Fact 12: I love licorice and fennel. [edited to spell licorice properly – d’oh!]

In honor of both, I searched Representative Poetry Online‘s concordance, and found this most remarkable and stunning sonnet by George Elliott Clarke, a poet with whom I was not familiar (perhaps because he’s Nova Scotian). But I can’t post it here because it has a strict publication rights warning on it. So I’ve linked it instead.

Meanwhile, when I searched fennel, I found the following Robert Browing poem, which I can post.

Two in the Campagna

I

I wonder do you feel to-day
As I have felt since, hand in hand,
We sat down on the grass, to stray
In spirit better through the land,
This morn of Rome and May?

II
For me, I touched a thought, I know,
Has tantalized me many times,
(Like turns of thread the spiders throw
Mocking across our path) for rhymes
To catch at and let go.

III
Help me to hold it! First it left
The yellowing fennel, run to seed
There, branching from the brickwork’s cleft,
Some old tomb’s ruin: yonder weed
Took up the floating weft,

IV
Where one small orange cup amassed
Five beetles,–blind and green they grope
Among the honey-meal: and last,
Everywhere on the grassy slope
I traced it. Hold it fast!

V
The champaign with its endless fleece
Of feathery grasses everywhere!
Silence and passion, joy and peace,
An everlasting wash of air–
Rome’s ghost since her decease.

VI
Such life here, through such lengths of hours,
Such miracles performed in play,
Such primal naked forms of flowers,
Such letting nature have her way
While heaven looks from its towers!

VII
How say you? Let us, O my dove,
Let us be unashamed of soul,
As earth lies bare to heaven above!
How is it under our control
To love or not to love?

VIII
I would that you were all to me,
You that are just so much, no more.
Nor yours nor mine, nor slave nor free!
Where does the fault lie? What the core
O’ the wound, since wound must be?

IX
I would I could adopt your will,
See with your eyes, and set my heart
Beating by yours, and drink my fill
At your soul’s springs,–your part my part
In life, for good and ill.

X
No. I yearn upward, touch you close,
Then stand away. I kiss your cheek,
Catch your soul’s warmth,–I pluck the rose
And love it more than tongue can speak–
Then the good minute goes.

XI
Already how am I so far
Out of that minute? Must I go
Still like the thistle-ball, no bar,
Onward, whenever light winds blow,
Fixed by no friendly star?

XII
Just when I seemed about to learn!
Where is the thread now? Off again!
The old trick! Only I discern–
Infinite passion, and the pain
Of finite hearts that yearn.
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2 thoughts on “>100 Virago Facts — Friday Poetry Blogging edition

  1. >Stunning is right. They are both beautiful and in such contrast, but I feel the same strength of emotion in each. Just different emotions.Not very profound commentary, I know, but what do you want for a Friday afternoon.

  2. >Virago, we should be real life friends 🙂 I love this poem, and in my version of the Victorian period in the Survey (which does not include Tennyson, or Dickens, though I do make them read some Matthew Arnold….) I have them read this poem. Love love love it.

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