Tag Archives: National Poetry Month

“Ballade”: a poem


Keeping with our celebration of National Poetry Month, we present another of WHH’s poems.

This striking poem was not published until the November, 1977, issue of Fantasy Crossroads, where it appeared until the alternative title, “Who Make Their Bed in Deep Waters”.  It was included in the edition of The Lost Poetry of William Hope Hodgson (2005) which was edited by Jane Frank.  It is a haunting poem which echoes Poe.

Ballade

 Who Make Their Bed In The Deep Waters

 

            We are dying,

               And the sea is very still,

           And some of the children are crying,

            And some are ill,

                     And seven are dead

                       And their mothers make their bed.
8

            We are dying,

                 Two boats just full of us,

            And the little ones are lying

              Quietly–thus and thus,

                       And twelve are dead

                       And their mothers made their bed.

8

            We are dying,

                 Another day has gone,

        And no child is crying,

                 In the gloaming wan

                       They all are dead

                       And their mothers made their bed.

8

            We are dying,

             It is just before the dawn,

            The mothers all are lying

                 Silent e’er the morn

                       Forlornly dead

                       And I made their bed.

 8

We are dying,

                 The evening’s sun is low,

            And my lover-lad is crying

                 Weak in utter woe

                       O’er me dead

                   E’er he make my bed.

 8

We are dying,

                 My lover thought me gone,

            In his two arms lying,

                 But I saw him wan

                   Nearly dead

                       And his arms my bed.

 8

We are silent now,

                 For I reached and drew

                       My lover to me, dying,

        And the glad young brow

                       Sailed against me lying

                 E’er he knew

                             Quietly dead

                             On my bosom for his bed.

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“Shoon of the Dead”–A poem


In celebration of National Poetry Month, here’s another of Hodgson’s poems.

SHOON OF THE DEAD

Hush! as you pass.

    And hark!

Three taps on the glass

In the gloaming

From someone out in the dark–

Roaming.

*

Hush! and hark

To a step you hear pass:

Someone is out in the dark.

Hark to the death-wind go wailing,

And the tap of a ghost on the glass.

Hush! and hark! Hush! and hark!

*

Open the door,

And listen!

Only the wind’s muffled roar,

And the glisten

Of tears round the moon.

And, in fancy, the tread

Of vanishing shoon–

Out in the night with the Dead.

*

Hush! and hark

To the sorrowful cry

Of the wind in the dark.

Hush! and hark, without murmur or sigh,

To shoon that tread the lost aeons;

To the sound that bids you to die.

Hush! and hark! Hush! and hark!

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“NEVERMORE”


I’m told that April is National Poetry Month so I will post one of Hodgson’s less known poems every Wednesday in April.

This poem is a parody of Edgar Allen Poe’s famous poem but changed to be more appropriate for writers.  It was never published during Hodgson’s lifetime nor was it included in the two volumes of poetry that Hodgson’s widow published after his death.  It would not be published until 1976 when it appeared in Omniumgathum: An Anthology of Verse by Top Authors in the Field of Fantasy.

NEVERMORE

(Without the usual apologies.)

Once upon a morning dreary, while I pondered weak and weary

O’er MSS unaccepted that were scattered round the floor–

While I pondered, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,

As of someone gently rapping, rapping at my outer door;

‘Tis a Dun, I muttered weakly, waiting hungry for my ore–

Only that, and nothing more.

Suddenly my soul grew stronger, and I stayed in bed no longer;

For a strange presentment whispered that the Post was at the door,

And that all that gentle tapping which had stirred me in my napping

Was the postman slowly dropping cheques by scores upon the floor.

And at the thought–loud cheering–rushing I to my outer door-

MSS there–and nothing more.

Long I stood there peering, peering–all the evil in me leering;

And my back and heart were aching ere the pile was off the floor;

Then at last the quiet was broken, as I murmured forth in token

Of my lack of due elation, one bright adjective–and more,

These I whispered very gently, and there echoed back in awe

Just a cuss, and nothing more.

‘Editors,’ I muttered slowly, ‘are you men or are you devils?

(Buy the MSS that are with you!) By that God we all adore,

Tell this soul with MSS laden, if within some dusty haven

I shall see my name engraven in your book wherein you score

Names of those who are “accepted”? Hasten now I do implore!’

Came a whisper–‘Nevermore!’

For the Editors are sitting, still are sitting, grimly sitting,

On my tousled heaps of MSS piled beneath them on the floor;

And their eyes have all the seeming of a demon’s that is dreaming,

Whilst their pens are ever streaming o’er ‘REFUSALS’ by the score;

And the thud of MSS falling through the slit in my front door

Shall cease thudding–nevermore!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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