Tuesday, July 30, 2013

I haven't given you a Milly Jourdain poem since May, so here is another pair. The second is, I think, my favorite of all of her poems. I like it so much that I've decided to include it in The Conversation. I hope Milly would be pleased.

The Huntsman 
Milly Jourdain 
We drove along the narrow lane, all dark
With sodden leaves and mud, and paused to see
The misty vale, between the leafless trees. 
Then all at once we heard the thud of hoofs,
And close to us some horses galloped by;
With passionate strength and heaving flanks they passed. 
When they had gone, the earth seemed very still;
Only the trampled road and brambles torn,
And on the grassy side some deep hoof-marks.

Watching the Meet 
Milly Jourdain 
The air is still so new and fresh and cold,
It makes a warm excitement in our hearts
To drive beside the sad and lonely fields.
And now we see a wider space of road
Where groups of horsemen moving restlessly
Are waiting for the quiet-footed hounds.
The hounds come swiftly, covering the way
Like foaming water surging round our feet.
And then with cries and sound of cracking whips
All, all are gone: the distant beat of hoofs
Like trailing smoke of dreams, comes fitfully
To tell how near they were a moment past.
But we see only winter trees again,
And turning homewards meet a drifting rain.

I love the image of the hounds as surging foam, I love the dramatic leap and release of this poem, and I love the way in which the weather conditions are folded into that drama. The poem has a Doppler-effect change in intensity, which is deft and natural. It pleases me every time I read it. 

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