Poets’ Cor­ner

Are you haunted by a few lines from a poem and want help in find­ing the rest of the words? Do you have a favourite verse you’d like to share with us? Or have you been writ­ing po­etry for years and would like oth­ers to read your work? If the an­swer is “Yes”

This England - - Contents - Su­san Kelle­her

Aread­er­from Devon set a puz­zle for me re­cently when he sent me a poem en­ti­tled “My Love Hath My Heart, and I Have His” by Sir Philip Sid­ney. Don­ald Hod­getts was in­trigued by the poem and its au­thor and wanted to know more about both. Although fa­mil­iar with the poem, I didn’t know much about its au­thor but I have been able to find this in­for­ma­tion.

Sir Philip Sid­ney was born at Pen­shurst Place in Kent in 1554 and ed­u­cated at Shrews­bury School and Christ Church, Ox­ford. He then trav­elled through Europe for three years be­com­ing pro­fi­cient in sev­eral lan­guages, mak­ing many in­flu­en­tial friends and gain­ing valu­able in­sight into Euro­pean pol­i­tics.

In 1576 El­iz­a­beth I made him her cup­bearer but Sid­ney wanted to be more than a courtier and hoped to be given an ac­tive po­lit­i­cal role. He was a keen sup­porter of the Protes­tant League but his tal­ents were largely over­looked by the Queen who was re­luc­tant to up­set the bal­ance of power be­tween France and Spain. Thwarted in his po­lit­i­cal am­bi­tions, Sid­ney turned his at­ten­tion to writ­ing, pro­duc­ing such im­por­tant work as “Ar­ca­dia”, “Astro­phel and Stella” and “The De­fence of Poesy”.

He mar­ried Frances, the daugh­ter of Sir Fran­cis Wals­ing­ham in Septem­ber 1583 and they had a daugh­ter who was named af­ter the Queen. In July 1585 Sid­ney fi­nally got his first im­por­tant ap­point­ment when he was made joint master of ord­nance with his un­cle. The Queen had been per­suaded to sup­port the Dutch against Spain and Sid­ney was made gover­nor of Flush­ing and given a com­pany of cav­alry to com­mand. Whilst lead­ing a cav­alry charge against the Span­ish at the Bat­tle of Zut­phen in Septem­ber 1586, he was wounded in the thigh and died on 17th Oc­to­ber at Arn­hem af­ter the wound be­came in­fected. Whilst ly­ing wounded he is re­puted to have given his water to a fel­low sol­dier say­ing, “Your need is greater than mine”. His body was taken home and buried in St. Paul’s Cathe­dral.

The poem that Don­ald sent me comes from Sid­ney’s long heroic prose ro­mance “Ar­ca­dia” writ­ten in 1580. Ar­ca­dia is a shep­herdess who is speak­ing of her love for a shep­herd. When the shep­herd saw Ar­ca­dia his heart was struck by an ar­row fired by Cupid, and as soon as he had been hurt she felt the same. My true love hath my heart, and I have his, By just ex­change, one for the other giv’n. I hold his dear, and mine he can­not miss, There never was a bet­ter bar­gain driv’n. His heart in me keeps me and him in one, My heart in him his thoughts and senses

guides: He loves my heart, for once it was his own; I cher­ish his, be­cause in me it bides. His heart his wound re­ceived from my

sight: My heart was wounded with his wounded

heart: For as from me, on him his hurt did light, So still me thought in me his hurt did smart: Both equal hurt, in this change sought our

bliss: My true love hath my heart and I have his.

WithAr­mistice Day fast ap­proach­ing I found this poem, sent in by Frank Gow­ers of Mar­ket Dray­ton, Shrop­shire, very mov­ing. It was writ­ten by A. E Hous­man (1859–1936) and is in­cluded in his cy­cle of po­ems A Shrop­shire Lad (see page 69).

THE LADS IN THEIR HUN­DREDS

The lads in their hun­dreds to Lud­low come

in for the fair, There’s men from the barn and the forge

and the mill and the fold, The lads for the girls and the lads for the

liquor are there, And there with the rest are the lads that will

never be old. There’s chaps from the town and the field

and the till and the cart, And many to count are the stal­wart, and

many the brave, And many the hand­some of face and the

hand­some of heart, And few that will carry their looks or their

truth to the grave. I wish one could know them, I wish there

were to­kens to tell The for­tu­nate fel­lows that now you can

never dis­cern; And then one could talk with them friendly

and wish them farewell And watch them de­part on the way that

they will not re­turn.

NEW RE­QUESTS

E. R. Ket­tle came across this poem in Nor­folk and won­ders if any­one has any fur­ther in­for­ma­tion on it?

DON’T PASS THE SALT

If you should drift upon my stone, Don’t pass the salt and cast off home, Spare a thought for what it’s worth, ‘Tis af­ter all my fi­nal berth. Get fell in around my neck And cut the net­tles from my deck, You’ll find no flow­ers upon my poop No fancy vase of daf­fodil soup, A bird or two, maybe singing, A spi­der climb­ing up my rig­ging, Still here I lie run aground, My wooden ham­mock bat­tened down. No more broad­sides off the Cape, No more lan­gridge, shot and grape, No more wax-sealed kissed home, No quay-side hugs with han­kies blown. The oc­to­pus roots of nearby trees Cra­dle me now safe from seas Be­lay a spell and keep your shirt on I’ve sailed with the best from Naples to

Mer­ton. But just be­fore you sling your hook, Log me in your spot­ter’s book, And if it’s sunny, skies not leaden, Take a photo, f.11. And if a stranger cruis­ing past Should ask who’s that amid the grass, A Churchill, Ike or some such Nero, Tell him you’ve found a Nelson hero. And when you’re snug with your

‘Dis­patch’, Knock­ing a grog down your hatch, Re­mem­ber me, if you can, For I was once a Nelson man.

Mrs. Angie Wheeler (47-4426 232 Street, Lan­g­ley, B. C. V2Z 2R3, Canada) dis­cov­ered this poem in an old al­bum of po­ems, birthday cards for a four-year-old and post­cards that had been put to­gether as a gift for her sis­ter who was born in 1940. The poem, writ­ten by “Bea”, is a trib­ute to chil­dren killed when a bomb hit their Lon­don school. THE LIT­TLE LIGHTS When it was very DARK, the clouds rolled

back Be­fore a silent wind on high, and then I saw

the LIT­TLE LIGHTS smile in the sky. When it was very COLD and EARTH

SHOWED BLACK Through patches of the yel­low snow,

shin­ing, I saw the LIT­TLE LIGHTS. The young leaves, glow. Darker it is — more COLD to keep my track. Lit by the LIT­TLE LIGHTS I’ll try — by mak­ing them a GEN­TLER EARTH and a CLEAR SKY.

Angie won­ders if any­one can iden­tify the poem and its au­thor, and give in­for­ma­tion about the tragedy.

Mrs. Mau­reen Tot­man from Southamp­ton has asked me to trace a poem that her fa­ther used to re­cite. It was about a dog called Spot and Mau­reen re­calls that it was rather sad. I’ve had a search but haven’t found anything — can any reader help?

Now for a very cheeky re­quest! Ray Denvil (3 Emer­ald Court, 76 Brighton Road, Couls­don, Sur­rey CR5 2BB) won­ders if any­one can help him trace a mono­logue about a tat­tooist that he once re­cited to a lo­cal drama group. Ray has now lost trace of it — all he can re­call is that the fi­nal line is “And I signed ’er on the bot­tom with me name!”

Ed­u­cated, hand­some, charming, brave, artis­tic and an ex­cel­lent horse­man, Sir Philip Sid­ney was the epit­ome of a per­fect El­iz­a­bethan gen­tle­man. His fam­ily home was Pen­shurst Place where fam­ily por­traits hang in the me­dieval West So­lar (right).

MIKE HAYWARD

A view of the Shrop­shire coun­try­side, a county for­ever associated with A.E. Hous­man, from Bury Ditches Iron Age hill fort.

STEVE BRYANT

A bronze statue of Ad­mi­ral Ho­ra­tio Nelson gazes out over the Thames at Green­wich. See poem above.

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