Friday, January 30, 2015

Lavender Shadows

Afternoon light at the edge of the canal.

Are They Shadows

Are they shadows that we see?
And can shadows pleasure give?
Pleasures only shadows be
Cast by bodies we conceive
And are made the things we deem
In those figures which they seem.

But these pleasures vanish fast
Which by shadows are expressed;
Pleasures are not, if they last;
In their passing is their best.
Glory is most bright and gay
In a flash, and so away.

Feed apace then, greedy eyes
On the wonder you behold;
Take it sudden as it flies,
Though you take it not to hold.
When your eyes have done their part,
Thought must length it in the heart.

Samuel Daniel  (1562-1619)

It has been a long time since this poem was written. About 400 years. Yet is still is completely understandable and clear to us, and the diction is very modern. While might not say "behold" much or use the phrase "length it" both carry a clear meaning to an English-speaking person. Consider that Geoffrey Chaucer (1343-1400) with whose poems we struggle, was only about 200 years before the British poet Daniel, and we can see why we srill speak what is called Modern English. It has such great resources for poetry!

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