Sunday, May 21, 2017


Stevie Smith was a popular Twentieth Century poet often anthologized in children's poetry collections but she was well regarded by Sylvia Plath and Seamus Heaney; a writer who hid deep topics in simple words and broad ideas in the everyday. This is a poem about loss and loneliness in age.

The Old Sweet Dove of Wiveton ( Norfolk)

Twas the voice of the sweet dove
I heard him move,
I heard him cry,
Love, love.

High in the chestnut tree
Is the nest of the old dove
And there he sits solitary
Crying, Love, love.

The gray of this heavy day
Makes the green of the tree’s leaves and the grass brighter
And the flowers of the chestnut tree whiter
And whiter the flowers of the high cow-parsley.

So still is the air
So heavy the sky
You can hear the splash
Of the water falling from the green grass
As Red and Honey push by,
The old dogs,
Gone away, gone hunting by the marsh bogs.

Happy the retriever dogs in their pursuit,
Happy in bog mud the busy feet.

Now all is silent, it is silent again
In the sombre day and the beginning soft rain
It is a silence made more actual
By the moan from the high tree that is occasional,

Where in his high nest above
Still sits the old dove
Murmuring solitary
Crying for pain
Crying most melancholy
Again and again.


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