March 10, 2015

Blow, Bugle, Blow

        It’s been a while since I shared one of the Romantic Victorian poems about fairyland, so here’s a famous one by Alfred, Lord Tennyson (England, 1809-1892).

The splendour falls on castle walls
And snowy summits old in story:
The long light shakes across the lakes,
And the wild cataract leaps in glory.
Blow, bugle, blow, set the wild echoes flying,
Blow, bugle; answer, echoes, dying, dying, dying.

O hark, O hear! how thin and clear,
And thinner, clearer, farther going!
O sweet and far from cliff and scar
The horns of Elfland faintly blowing!
Blow, let us hear the purple glens replying:
Blow, bugle; answer, echoes, dying, dying, dying.

O love, they die in yon rich sky,
They faint on hill or field or river:
Our echoes roll from soul to soul,
And grow for ever and for ever.
Blow, bugle, blow, set the wild echoes flying,
And answer, echoes, answer, dying, dying, dying.

        Not only the echoes of the horns of Elfland roll from soul to soul, though.  I like the thought of poetry being the same.  Surely a poem can carry echoes of image and emotion from soul to soul, and grow for ever and for ever?  Surely there’s a beautiful, uncanny magic in the power of poetry above and beyond the power of mere ordinary sentences.

[Pictures: Loch Duich, color woodcut by Ian Cheyne, 1934;
Hell’s Glen, color woodcut by Cheyne, 1928 (Images from National Galleries Scotland).]

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