Nick's Poetry Corner

Poetry doesn’t have to be complex or obtuse or hard to understand. The difficulty we tend to have with poetry comes from its leanness, our failure to HEAR it, and the poet’s real attempt to link CONTENT and SOUND. While this happens somewhat in prose, it is at the heart of poetry. Meter matters because the rhythm of sounds really affects the listener. Poets use all sorts of aural devices to create a unity of sound and content.

This is another of my favorite poems. In fact, I think it is a GOOD poem, perhaps a perfect poem. It is exactly what it is meant to be – a unity of sound and content. It fulfills the deep potential of language and meaning to work together to create a shared reality.

Afton Water – Robert Burns

Flow gently, sweet Afton, among thy green braes,
Flow gently, I’ll sing thee a song in thy praise;
My Mary’s asleep by thy murmuring stream,
Flow gently, sweet Afton, disturb not her dream.

Thou stock-dove whose echo resounds through the glen,
Ye wild whistling blackbirds in yon thorny den,
Thou green-crested lapwing thy screaming forbear,
I charge you disturb not my slumbering fair.

How lofty, sweet Afton, thy neighboring hills,
Far marked with the courses of clear winding rills;
There daily I wander as noon rises high,
My flocks and my Mary’s sweet cot in my eye.

How pleasant thy banks and green valleys below,
Where wild in the woodlands the primroses blow;
There oft as mild evening weeps over the lea,
The sweet-scented birk shades my Mary and me.

Thy crystal stream, Afton, how lovely it glides,
And winds by the cot where my Mary resides;
How wanton thy waters her snowy feet lave,
As gathering sweet flowerets she stems thy clear wave.

Flow gently, sweet Afton, among thy green braes,
Flow gently, sweet river, the theme of my lays;
My Mary’s asleep by thy murmuring stream,
Flow gently, sweet Afton, disturb not her dream.

In the morning, when I’m on a decent connection, I’ll link this to a version of this poem performed by Nickel Creek. If any of my dear readers can guess the deep, dark secret of this poem, I’ll give you a prize – you can choose the topic of my next blog entry. GOOD LUCK!

braes – slopes

cot – cottage

birk – birch

Advertisements

About Nick Gill

orphan-poet-adoptee-soldier-prodigal-servant-husband- counselor-desperate seeker after my Father's face "I feel my body weakened by the years as people turn to gods of cruel design. Is it that they fear the pain of death, or is it that they fear the joy of life?" - Toad the Wet Sprocket

Posted on 15 April, 2008, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Glad you like old English (or I suppose I should in this case say, Scottish) poetry. I sang this in my High School chorus in the 1970’s. Have you heard the musical version? I couldn’t capture the video.

  2. I have Nickel Creek’s version on CD. It is really simple and beautiful.

    I love language – it is such an awesome and dangerous gift.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: