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Life on the Deckle Edge

Poetry Friday - Longfellow's Maiden and Weathercock

Wood engraving by Boyd Hanna in The Poems of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, The Heritage Press, 1943.  

 

Greetings, Poetry Lovers!

 

I know hearts are heavy this week for those affected by another brutal hurricane.  I found it a little crazy that with family members and like-family friends from Central Florida up through Charlotte, we were all experiencing some effects of this storm within hours of each other.  Beaufort was once again very fortunate.  We did hunker down for a tornado warning near midnight on Wednesday night, and our power went out for a few hours not long thereafter, but other than lots of wind, my corner of town at least was all right. (Schools and government offices were closed Thursday.)

 

I stood in front of the television in disbelief Thursday morning when The Weather Channel showed the first drone images of Mexico Beach, a place my folks have enjoyed visiting in the past.  A few battered structures remained, but mostly - empty slabs where countless houses and businesses used to be.  Nothing.  Left. Prayers and more prayers for all who are dealing with so many kinds of losses.

 

(Some PF regulars might know that our own Jan Godown Annino is from Tallahassee; I hope she won't mind my sharing that I reached her by text Thursday morning, and they are okay.)

 

I wish I had the right words for comfort today, but instead, the diversion of a Henry Wadsworth Longfellow poem, which was published in 1880 in "Youth's Companion."  The view over the sea is a much more pleasant one in this ballad-like poem.  

 

 

MAIDEN AND WEATHERCOCK

 

by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

 

 

               MAIDEN

 

O Weathercock on the village spire,

With your golden feathers all on fire,

Tell me, what can you see from your perch

Above there over the tower of the church?

 

 

             WEATHERCOCK

 

I can see the roofs and the streets below,

And the people moving to and fro,

And beyond, without either roof or street,

The great salt sea, and the fisherman's fleet.

 

I can see a ship come sailing in 

Beyond the headlands and harbor of Lynn,

And a young man standing on the deck

With a silken kerchief round his neck.

 

Now he is pressing it to his lips,

And now he is kissing his finger-tips,

And now he is lifting and waving his hand,

And blowing the kissses toward the land.

 

 

               MAIDEN

 

Ah, that is the ship from over the sea,

That is bringing my lover back to me,

Bringing my lover so fond and true,

Who does not change with the wind like you.

 

 

              WEATHERCOCK

 

If I change with all the winds that blow,

It is only because they made me so,

And people would think it wondrous strange,

If I, a Weathercock, should not change.

 

O pretty Maiden, so fine and fair,

With your dreamy eyes and your golden hair,

When you and your lover meet to-day,

You will thank me for looking some other way.

 

 

I found this poem in The Poems of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, part of THE AMERICAN POETS series edited by Louis Untermeyer for The Heritage Press (1943). I'm smitten with the wood engraving illustrations throughout, by 20th Century artist and illustrator Boyd Hanna. 

 

For so many in our country (including Puerto Rico) and around the world reeling from recent natural disasters, prayers for healing and for the eventual changes of direction that time brings.

 

Our gracious host for the Roundup this week is the ever-amazing Laura Purdie Salas at Writing the World for Kids.  Enjoy all the offerings!

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