Friday, February 01, 2019

Poem Retrospective I

I started putting up poems here, both those of others and drafts of my own, in part as a philosophical activity; I had become exasperated at the tendency of philosophers of language to say things that were obviously inconsistent with the existence and character of poetry, despite the fact that poetry is one of the most important and universal forms of real language use. By a sort of heterogony of ends, it has served other functions since, but it has been going on for quite a while now. All of my own poems are, as I sometimes say, drafts until I die, but there are a number of them that are probably fairly close to their final form. There is usually room for some tweaking here and there, and you can never really predict when you'll have an idea that transforms a poem significantly, but allowing for this, there are a few that probably are approaching where they should be. So I thought I'd take some stock of them this February, to see where I'm at with them, and I might as well put them up.

'Luthany' is a fictional country that was invented in The Mistress of Vision by Francis Thompson in order to write poems about.

Where is the land of Luthany,
Where is the tract of Elenore?
I am bound therefor.

Tolkien borrows it as an Elvish name for the island of Britain in his early Book of Lost Tales myths; his original idea was that it meant 'friendship', to signify friendship between Men and Elves. But, as words tended to do in Tolkien's work, it took on a life of his own, and became better known as a name in the Elvish form he made for it: LĂșthien.

In Luthany the Shadows Fall

In Luthany the shadows fall
on ruins of deserted halls
that, great of beam, still rise on high,
that, strong of stone, yet stand and wait.
The earth may fade, the sun may die,
but Luthany will stand and wait.

In Luthany the birds yet trill
with song of lark and whippoorwill;
sad nightingales remember days
as mockingbirds recall the years
when merchants traveled Luthan ways;
but only birds recall those years.

Yet someday soon will woods awake,
the hopes undie and hearts unbreak;
and then the dreaming souls will rise
to wake the sleeping land with dance.
When lives again the thing that dies,
then you and I once more will dance.

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