Many a Road

This poem reminds me of “The Road Goes Ever, Ever On,” though it was written about 50 years earlier. MacDonald influenced both Tolkien and Lewis–as well as less likely characters like Mark Twain.

Parting

Thou goest thine, and I go mine,
Many ways we wend;
Many days, and many ways,
Ending in one end.

Many a wrong, and its curing song;
Many a road, and many an inn;
Room to roam, but only one home
For all the world to win.

~ George MacDonald, 1824-1905

Solveig’s Song

Melancholy

There’s no help for it. February is bleak. Ironically, it is also the month of the Valentine. Combining both, here is a little Rilke on forsaken love.

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Maiden Melancholy

A knight, as from a proverb old,
Comes riding into mind.

He came. So through the wood and wold
The storm may come and all enfold.

He passed. So evening’s benison
May pass before your prayers are done,
Forsaken by the bell;
And though you’d cry aloud with woe,
You only whimper, long and low
Into your kerchief cold.

A knight, as from a proverb old,
Rides armored, far and fell.

His smile was sweet, and softly shone
Like antique light on elven-bone,
Like homesickness, like Christmas snow
On darkling rooftops, like the row
Of pearls set round a turquoise stone,
Like soft moon-glow
Upon a book loved well.

~ Rainer Maria Rilke, from the Book of Images

A Blessing on the Poets

Annie Finch is one of the few poets nowadays who writes in rhyme and meter. The little tidbit below says it all, doesn’t it?

A Blessing on the Poets
Patient earth-digger, impatient fire-maker,
Hungry word-taker and roving sound-lover,
Sharer and saver, muser and acher,
You who are open to hide or uncover,
Time-keeper and hater, wake-sleeper, sleep-waker;
May language’s language, the silence that lies
Under each word, move you over and over,
Turning you, wondering, back to surprise.

~ Annie Finch, 1956-

Riddle

I suppose any good Tolkienist should be interested in riddles. So here’s a little one for this week. (The answer is posted in a comment below.)

What swirls down hills
And into holes,
But will not fill
Our empty bowls?

The Wise Men

Step softly, under snow or rain,
To find the place where men can pray;
The way is all so very plain
That we may lose the way.

Oh, we have learnt to peer and pore
On tortured puzzles from our youth,
We know all labyrinthine lore,
We are the three wise men of yore,
And we know all things but the truth.

We have gone round and round the hill
And lost the wood among the trees,
And learnt long names for every ill,
And served the mad gods, naming still
The furies the Eumenides.

The gods of violence took the veil
Of vision and philosophy,
The Serpent that brought all men bale,
He bites his own accursed tail,
And calls himself Eternity.

Go humbly . . . it has hailed and snowed . . .
With voices low and lanterns lit;
So very simple is the road,
That we may stray from it.

The world grows terrible and white,
And blinding white the breaking day;
We walk bewildered in the light,
For something is too large for sight,
And something much too plain to say.

The Child that was ere worlds begun
(. . . We need but walk a little way,
We need but see a latch undone . . .)
The Child that played with moon and sun
Is playing with a little hay.

The house from which the heavens are fed,
The old strange house that is our own,
Where trick of words are never said,
And Mercy is as plain as bread,
And Honour is as hard as stone.

Go humbly, humble are the skies,
And low and large and fierce the Star;
So very near the Manger lies
That we may travel far.

Hark! Laughter like a lion wakes
To roar to the resounding plain.
And the whole heaven shouts and shakes,
For God Himself is born again,
And we are little children walking
Through the snow and rain.

~ G. K. Chesterton, 1874-1936

To the Professor

A happy 125th birthday . . . to the one Professor who rules them all.

The Road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can,
Pursuing it with eager feet,
Until it joins some larger way
Where many paths and errands meet.
And whither then? I cannot say.

~ J. R. R. Tolkien (Jan. 3, 1892 – Sep. 2, 1973)

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