Ralph Hodgson

Ralph Hodgson Poems

See an old unhappy bull,
Sick in soul and body both,
Slouching in the undergrowth
Of the forest beautiful,
Banished from the herd he led,
...

'Twould ring the bells of Heaven
The wildest peal for years,
If Parson lost his senses
And people came to theirs,
...

'Come, try your skill, kind gentlemen,
A penny for three tries!'
Some threw and lost, some threw and won
A ten-a-penny prize.
...

I saw with open eyes
Singing birds sweet
Sold in the shops
For people to eat,
...

5.

Eve, with her basket, was
Deep in the bells and grass,
Wading in bells and grass
Up to her knees,
...

Now one and all, you Roses,
Wake up, you lie too long!
This very morning closes
The Nightingale his song;
...

7.

"How fared you when you mortal were?
What did you see on my peopled star?"
"Oh well enough," I answered her,
"It went for me where mortals are!
...

I climbed a hill as light fell short,
And rooks came home in scramble sort,
And filled the trees and flapped and fought
...

The world's gone forward to its latest fair
And dropt an old man done with by the way,
To sit alone among the bats and stare
...

Sour fiend, go home and tell the Pit
For once you met your master, -
A man who carried in his soul
Three charms against disaster,
...

Not baser than his own homekeeping kind
Whose journeyman he is -
Blind sons and breastless daughters of the blind
...

The old gilt vane and spire receive
The last beam eastward striking;
The first shy bat to peep at eve
Has found her to his liking.
...

He came and took me by the hand
Up to a red rose tree,
He kept His meaning to Himself
...

The book was dull, its pictures
As leaden as its lore,
But one glad, happy picture
Made up for all and more:
...

The leaves looked in at the window
Of the house across the way,
At a man that had sinned like you and me
And all poor human clay.
...

Reason has moons, but moons not hers,
Lie mirror'd on the sea,
Confounding her astronomers,
But O! delighting me.
...

Time, You Old Gypsy Man
Will you not stay,
Put up your caravan
Just for one day?
...

He begged and shuffled on;
Sometimes he stopped to throw
A bit and benison
To sparrows in the snow,
...

When flighting time is on I go
With clap-net and decoy,
A-fowling after goldfinches
And other birds of joy;
...

It's sixty years ago, the people say:
Two village children, neighbours born and bred,
One morning played beneath a rotten tree
...

Ralph Hodgson Biography

Order of the Rising Sun (Japanese 旭日章),was an English poet, very popular in his lifetime on the strength of a small number of anthology pieces, such as The Bull. He was one of the more 'pastoral' of the Georgian poets. In 1954, he was awarded the Queen's Gold Medal for Poetry. He seems to have covered his tracks in relation to much of his life; he was averse to publicity. This has led to claims that he was reticent. Far from that being the case, his friend Walter De La Mare found him an almost exhausting talker; but he made a point of personal privacy. He kept up a copious correspondence with other poets and literary figures, including those he met in his time in Japan such as Takeshi Saito. Ralph Hodgson was a reclusive figure, who disliked publicity about either his work or his private life. As a result, details on his early life are few and far between. From 1890 until 1912, he worked as an artist for various newspapers and magazines. From 1913, his private press, "At the Sign of the Flying Fame," played host to several of his poems as chapbooks and broadsides. These included "The Song of Honour , " and "The Bull, " for which he received the Polignac Prize in 1914. In 1924, he moved to Japan and took a post as English lecturer at Sendai's University. His reputation as a poet rests upon a small number of publications. "The Bull, " " Eve ," " The Bells of Heaven ," and " The Song of Honour ," are regularly included in poetry anthologies.)

The Best Poem Of Ralph Hodgson

The Bull

See an old unhappy bull,
Sick in soul and body both,
Slouching in the undergrowth
Of the forest beautiful,
Banished from the herd he led,
Bulls and cows a thousand head.
Cranes and gaudy parrots go
Up and down the burning sky;
Tree-top cats purr drowsily
In the dim-day green below;
And troops of monkeys, nutting, some,
All disputing, go and come;
And things abominable sit
Picking offal buck or swine,
On the mess and over it
Burnished flies and beetles shine,
And spiders big as bladders lie
Under hemlocks ten foot high;
And a dotted serpent curled
Round and round and round a tree,
Yellowing its greenery,
Keeps a watch on all the world,
All the world and this old bull
In the forest beautiful.
Bravely by his fall he came:
One he led, a bull of blood
Newly come to lustihood,
Fought and put his prince to shame,
Snuffed and pawed the prostrate head
Tameless even while it bled.
There they left him, every one,
Left him there without a lick,
Left him for the birds to pick,
Left him there for carrion,
Vilely from their bosom cast
Wisdom, worth and love at last.
When the lion left his lair
And roared his beauty through the hills,
And the vultures pecked their quills
And flew into the middle air,
Then this prince no more to reign
Came to life and lived again.
He snuffed the herd in far retreat,
He saw the blood upon the ground,
And snuffed the burning airs around
Still with beevish odours sweet,
While the blood ran down his head
And his mouth ran slaver red.
Pity him, this fallen chief,
All his spendour, all his strength,
All his body's breadth and length
Dwindled down with shame and grief,
Half the bull he was before,
Bones and leather, nothing more.
See him standing dewlap-deep
In the rushes at the lake,
Surly, stupid, half asleep,
Waiting for his heart to break
And the birds to join the flies
Feasting at his bloodshot eyes, -
Standing with his head hung down
In a stupor dreaming things:
Green savannas, jungles brown,
Battlefields and bellowings,
Bulls undone and lions dead
And vultures flapping overhead.
Dreaming things: of days he spent
With his mother gaunt and lean
In the valley warm and green,
Full of baby wonderment,
Blinking out of silly eyes
At a hundred mysteries;
Dreaming over once again
How he wandered with a throng
Of bulls and cows a thousand strong,
Wandered on from plain to plain,
Up the hill and down the dale,
Always at his mother's tail;
How he lagged behind the herd,
Lagged and tottered, weak of limb,
And she turned and ran to him
Blaring at the loathly bird
Stationed always in the skies,
Waiting for the flesh that dies.
Dreaming maybe of a day
When her drained and drying paps
Turned him to the sweets and saps,
Richer fountains by the way,
And she left the bull she bore
And he looked on her no more;
And his little frame grew stout,
And his little legs grew strong,
And the way was not so long;
And his little horns came out,
And he played at butting trees
And boulder-stones and tortoises,
Joined a game of knobby skulls
With the youngsters of his year,
All the other little bulls,
Learning both to bruise and bear,
Learning how to stand a shock
Like a little bull of rock.
Dreaming of a day less dim,
Dreaming of a time less far,
When the faint but certain star
Of destiny burned clear for him,
And a fierce and wild unrest
Broke the quiet of his breast,
And the gristles of his youth
Hardened in his comely pow,
And he came to fighting growth,
Beat his bull and won his cow,
And flew his tail and trampled off
Past the tallest, vain enough,
And curved about in spendour full
And curved again and snuffed the airs
As who should say Come out who dares!
And all beheld a bull, a Bull,
And knew that here was surely one
That backed for no bull, fearing none.
And the leader of the herd
Looked and saw, and beat the ground,
And shook the forest with his sound,
Bellowed at the loathly bird
Stationed always in the skies,
Wating for the flesh that dies.
Dreaming, this old bull forlorn,
Surely dreaming of the hour
When he came to sultan power,
And they owned him master-horn,
Chiefest bull of all among
Bulls and cows a thousand strong.
And in all the tramping herd
Not a bull that barred his way,
Not a cow that said him nay,
Not a bull or cow that erred
In the furnace of his look
Dared a second, worse rebuke;
Not in all the forest wide,
Jungle, thicket, pasture, fen,
Not another dared him then,
Dared him and again defied;
Not a sovereign buck or boar
Came a second time for more.
Not a serpent that survived
Once the terrors of his hoof
Risked a second time reproof,
Came a second time and lived,
Not serpent in its skin
Came again for discipline;
Not a leopard brght as flame,
Flashing fingerhooks of steel,
That a wooden tree might feel,
Met his fury once and came
For second reprimand,
Not a leopard in the land.
Not a lion of them all,
Not a lion of the hills,
Hero of a thousand kills,
Dared a second fight and fall,
Dared that ram terrific twice,
Paid a second time the price. . . .
Pity him, this dupe of dream,
Leader of the heard again
Only in his daft old brain,
Once again the bull supreme
And bull enough to bear the part
Only in his tameless heart.
Pity him that he must wake;
Even now the swarm of flies
Blackening his bloodshot eyes
Bursts and blusters round the lake,
Scattered from the feast half-fed,
By great shadows overhead.
And the dreamer turns away
From his visionary herds
And his splendid yesterday,
Turns to meet the loathly birds
Flocking round him from the skies,
Waiting for the flesh that dies.

Ralph Hodgson Comments

Paula Morgan 10 August 2019

Was wanting to know if this Poem Book is worth anything poems Ralph Hodgson.To my Mother Copyrights 1917 by The Macmillan Company by the Norwood press. Norwood Mass.USA.This Book I have poems by Ralph Hodgson Was copied New York by them in 1924.(It has 25 poems in it, How many copies is out there.or do you know. K Ok

0 1 Reply
Paula Morgan 10 August 2019

Would like to know if the poem Book by Poems Ralph Hodgkin To my mother would be worth anything.?

0 0 Reply
Margaret 19 March 2019

Learnt this poem as a child. Now 86 it is still in my thoughts.

3 0 Reply
June K 22 December 2017

The poem twould ring tha bells of Heaven - makes me cry. Only poetry with great important thoughts can do this. Found this poem in The Brutal Telling by Louise Penny. So beautiful.

3 0 Reply
Bernard Harris 14 November 2017

My first introduction to Mr.Hodgson was in a recently read by me, a work by the late Siegfried Sassoon who considered the lyrical poem The Song of Honour Ngnificent work

1 0 Reply

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