John Crowe Ransom

(30 April 1888 - 3 July 1974 / Pulaski Tennessee)

An American Addresses Philomela


Procne, Philomela, and Itylus,
Your names are liquid, your improbable tale
Is recited in the classic numbers of the nightingale.
Ah, but our numbers are not felicitous,
It goes not liquidly for us!

Perched on a Roman ilex and duly apostrophised,
The nightingale descanted unto Ovid;
She has even appeared to the Teutons, the swilled and gravid;
At Fontainebleau it may be the bird was gallicised;
Never was she baptised.

To England came Philomela with her strain,
Fleeing the hawk her husband ; querulous ghost,
She wanders when he sits heavy on his roost,
Utters herself in the original again,
The untranslatable refrain.

Not to these shores she came, this other Thrace,
Environ barbarous to the royal Attic;
How could her delicate dirge run democratic,
Delivered in a cloudless boundless public place
To a hypermuscular race?

I pernoctated with the Oxford students once,
And in the quadrangles, in the cloisters, on the Cher,
Precociously knocked at antique doors ajar,
Fatuously touched the hems of the Hierophants,
Sick of my dissonance;

I went out to Bagley Wood, I climbed the hill,
Even the moon had slanted off in a twinkling,
I heard the sepulchral owl and a few bells tinkling,
There was no more villainous day to unfulfill,
The diuturnity was still;

Up from the darkest wood where Philomela sat,
Her fairy numbers issued; what then ailed me?
My ears are called capacious, but they failed me,
Her classics registered a little flat!
I rose, and venomously spat.

Philomela, Philomela, lover of song,
I have despaired of thee and am unworthy,
My scene is prose, this people and I are earthy;
Unto more beautiful, persistently more young
Thy fabulous provinces belong.

Submitted: Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Do you like this poem?
0 person liked.
0 person did not like.

Read this poem in other languages

This poem has not been translated into any other language yet.

I would like to translate this poem »

word flags

What do you think this poem is about?

Comments about this poem (An American Addresses Philomela by John Crowe Ransom )

Enter the verification code :

There is no comment submitted by members..

Trending Poets

Trending Poems

  1. Daffodils, William Wordsworth
  2. The Road Not Taken, Robert Frost
  3. Christmas Trees, Robert Frost
  4. Talking Turkeys!, Benjamin Zephaniah
  5. All the World's a Stage, William Shakespeare
  6. A Visit from St. Nicholas, Clement Clarke Moore
  7. Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night, Dylan Thomas
  8. If You Forget Me, Pablo Neruda
  9. Still I Rise, Maya Angelou
  10. Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening, Robert Frost

Poem of the Day

poet Richard Lovelace

Tell me not (Sweet) I am unkind,
That from the nunnery
Of thy chaste breast and quiet mind
To war and arms I fly.

True, a new mistress now I chase,
...... Read complete »

   

New Poems

  1. His & her roles reverse, Mark Heathcote
  2. Water, Mark Heathcote
  3. My Coquette Moon, Guillermo Veloso
  4. Compose yourself my sweet-pea flower, Mark Heathcote
  5. Darker Flowers, Guillermo Veloso
  6. Two crashed bicycles?, Mark Heathcote
  7. Poetic injustices, Mark Heathcote
  8. Sleigh bells and flowery beds, Mark Heathcote
  9. Beautiful Angel Who Endlessly Glows, Rohit Sapra
  10. On The Clock, Nika McGuin
[Hata Bildir]