Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Seedling Songs

As you might be able to tell from my recent poetic choices, over the past week or so I've been reading from the Penguin Book of Victorian Verse. I have found a few new-to-me poets as well as some old favourites, such as:

Come into the garden, Maud,
for the black bat, night, has flown


Break, break, break,
On thy cold grey stones, O Sea!

Can you tell me whose lines those are? Or what about:

'Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
did gyre and gimble in the wabe:

(that's a bit easier but still fun)

For today, though, a rainy, cloudy Spring day, I want to share a poem by a poet I know nothing much about. His name is John Gray -- poor fellow -- but he lived 1866-1934, and moved in Oscar Wilde's circle.

Song of the Seedling
to Arthur Sewell Butt
Tell, little seedling, murmuring germ,
Why are you joyful? What do you sing?
Have you no fear of that crawling thing,
Him that has so many legs? and the worm?
Raindrops patter above my head --
Drip, drip, drip.
To moisten the mould where my roots are fed --
Sip, sip, sip.
No thoughts have I of the legged thing,
Of the worm no fear,
When the goal is so near;
Every moment my life has run,
The livelong day I've not ceased to sing:
I must reach the sun, the sun.


  1. How interesting to be reading some lesser-known poets of the 19C -- I think it's cool to read deeper in a time period than most people usually get to. You can get a much better sense of the time period that way, as more canonical stuff isn't always very representative.

  2. Yes, true. I found this one quite moving, actually, and want to track down more of his work.


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