Thursday, August 30, 2007

Dead English Poet

Cryptic crosswords are random indexes to the world of ideas.

Today's Guardian crossword showed me that I could not even pronounce PHTHALEIN, never mind guess at what it might be.

It also pointed me to a little-known poet - James Elroy Flecker who died young in 1915.

Thanks to Project Gutenberg, you don't even need to spend money to enjoy his work - just click here. Or if that's even too strenuous for you, just let your eyes follow down the page a few lines.

As for "PHTHALEIN" - it's pronounced just the way it's spelled ...


I who am dead a thousand years,
And wrote this sweet archaic song,
Send you my words for messengers
The way I shall not pass along.

I care not if you bridge the seas,
Or ride secure the cruel sky,
Or build consummate palaces
Of metal or of masonry.

But have you wine and music still,
And statues and a bright-eyed love,
And foolish thoughts of good and ill,
And prayers to them who sit above?

How shall we conquer? Like a wind
That falls at eve our fancies blow,
And old Moeonides the blind
Said it three thousand years ago.

O friend unseen, unborn, unknown,
Student of our sweet English tongue,
Read out my words at night, alone:
I was a poet, I was young.

Since I can never see your face,
And never shake you by the hand,
I send my soul through time and space
To greet you. You will understand.


ArcticFox said...

Ok, now I am totally guessing, but was naphthalein the chemical in moth balls?? Rings an old science bell somewhere down the line!!

With regards to poets, get your laughing gear round this:

If it runs crap, then pause it and let the video load!!

Just a bit o' fun guv'nor!!


Kenny said...

That is one beautiful poem. Coming on the day after my grandfather's 22nd anniversary of his death, it kind of touched me. Truly lovely.

Stan said...

Glad you liked it - the guy had real talent and a very modern voice.