Charles Kingsley

(12 June 1819 – 23 January 1875 / Devon, England)

A Farewell


I

My fairest child, I have no song to give you;
No lark could pipe to skies so dull and grey:
Yet, ere we part, one lesson I can leave you
For every day.

II

Be good, sweet maid, and let who will be clever;
Do noble things, not dream them, all day long:
And so make life, death, and that vast for-ever
One grand, sweet song.

Submitted: Friday, January 03, 2003
Edited: Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Topic of this poem: farewell

Form:

# 262 poem on top 500 Poems


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  • Freshman - 2,008 Points Bull Hawking (12/14/2014 12:27:00 AM)

    I agree with the part on doing good being a great song.......but don't we have to dream good things in order to do good things.... (Report) Reply

  • Freshman - 2,008 Points Bull Hawking (12/14/2014 12:23:00 AM)

    Maybe I'm misreading this......the first part contains an insult to the object of the poem....a person he seems to be comparing to gray dull skies.......then toward the end an insult to poets in general.....who are often said to be dreamers.....who are of no earthly good....confusing..to me (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Bodhi U (12/14/2011 12:47:00 PM)

    poet wonderfully sums up most things in minimum context.. good one (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - 278 Points Rekha Mandagere (12/14/2011 5:31:00 AM)

    Sweet words for sweet fairy child are presented in the most unique way. Simple graceful words ironically defeat the virus intellectualism in the most subtle way. Great write! (Report) Reply

  • Veteran Poet - 2,843 Points Pranab K Chakraborty (12/14/2011 4:59:00 AM)

    Brilliant to cross the intelligent ambushes. Much polite to combat arrogant...way of ignoring is unique for the generations who want to materialise the truths to life. Nice indeed. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Cs Vishwanathan (12/14/2010 7:03:00 AM)

    As a schoolboy I had to read some of his poems in my English texts.All his poems were quite accessible to us children. The reason is plain o see - simplicity of presentation and reasoning and easily voiced rhymes. It is not that the British mistrusted intellectuals - some of the greatest post-renaissance intellectuals have been British - but they were generally wary of irrelevant and overweening sophistry. The epithet 'too clever by half' was reserved for people with such predilections. The freedom of expression was nowhere better practised than in England. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - 0 Points Herman Chiu (12/14/2009 7:41:00 PM)

    I love this style of writing - simple, and speaks of simple things, but explains a lot about living. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Michael Pruchnicki (12/14/2009 12:57:00 PM)

    It's beyond me that 'A Farewell' constitutes a summary of British attitudes about intellectuals, but then I'm an American, so what do I know about things English?
    By the way, Shakespeare was truly a literary genius - his star outshone those of Newton and Darwin (?) and whomever you admire! (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Kevin Straw (12/14/2009 4:51:00 AM)

    Summarises the suspicion the English hold for the intellectual. One of their put-downs is 'He is too clever by half'. Yet it did not prevent Shakespeare, Newton and Darwin to appear mysteriously in their midst! (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - 459 Points Ramesh T A (12/14/2009 1:55:00 AM)

    Live a sweet song life doing noble things without dreaming all day long! This is the wonderful message of the poem that makes it great! (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Michael Pruchnicki (12/14/2008 11:12:00 AM)

    Rev. Charles Kingsley was a clergyman, novelist and poet identified by some as a proponent of 'muscular Christianity' and a Christian Socialist involved in social reform. He is known for his novels WESTWARD HO! and HEREWARD THE WAKE, and THE WATER-BABIES, a fairy tale about Tom the chimney-sweep, who falls into a river and is transformed into a tiny merman. His poem 'A Farewell' is written it seems to me as an admonition in verse to live a good life each and every day.

    Skies will be overcast and days bleak and gray, so live accordingly by doing good and noble deeds. Count on personal fortitude to stand you in good stead while you do the noble work of the lord in this world. I could well imagine John MacCormack singing this verse set to music! (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Michael Adams (10/23/2005 6:16:00 AM)

    Lovely poem and song (music by S Liddle) sung by John McCormack with a middle verse: -

    I'll teach you how to sing a clearer carol,
    Than lark that hails the morn or breezy dawn.
    To win yourself a puerer poet's laurel,
    Than Shakespeare's crown. (Report) Reply

Read all 20 comments »

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