Saturday, 24 November 2012

Transience: A November Poem, not by Thomas Hardy

I apologise in advance for posting such a depressing poem: it just has a very memorable first line, and is so thoroughly appropriate for November.  It also reminds me irresistibly of this Thomas Hardy poem, and I like to imagine Hardy and the anonymous poet who wrote this getting together for a jolly chat...

The poem is from Harley MS. 2253, a manuscript of poetry compiled in the fourteenth century.

Wynter wakeneth al my care,
Nou this leves waxeth bare;
Ofte I sike ant mourne sare
When hit cometh in my thoght
Of this worldes joie, hou hit goth al to noht.

Nou hit is, and nou hit nys,
Also hit ner nere, ywys;
That moni mon seith, soth hit ys:
Al goth bote Godes wille:
Alle we shule deye, thah us like ylle.

Al that gren me graueth grene,
Nou hit faleweth al by dene:
Jesu, help that hit be sene
Ant shild us from helle!
For y not whider y shal, ne hou longe her duelle.

That is:

Winter awakens all my sorrow,
Now the leaves grow bare.
Often I sigh and mourn sorely
When it comes into my mind
Of this world's joy, how it all goes to nothing.

Now it is, and now it is not,
As if it had never been, truly.
What many people say, it is the truth:
All passes but God's will.
We shall all die, though it please us ill.

All the grass grows up green,
Now it fades all together.
Jesu, help this to be understood,
And shield us from hell!
For I do not know where I shall go, nor how long I shall dwell here.

No comments: