The Long NightMilly JourdainSometimes when still the night is dark,My thoughts go slipping with no willLike water running down a hill,Sometimes when still the night is dark.And when the sky is shining faintWith hope, I listen for that birdWhose song the earth has always heardWhen now the sky is shining faint.Over the grey fields of dawnI lie and hear the small birds singWith rapture in the early spring,Over the grey fields of dawn.
Sunday, May 9, 2010
Early spring lasts a long time in Maine: sometimes late spring retreats back to early; sometimes early retreats to winter. And Milly wrote a great deal about these advances and retreats, though she lived all her life in temperate genteel England.
One thing that interests me is the title of this poem, especially since the poem itself deals primarily with the end of night. It's a rather delicate framing device for insomniac misery. So even though Milly uses the irritating poetess word rapture along with clumsy sentimentalized syntax such as "when still the night is dark," I appreciate the understatement behind the title-poem link. And I also like the image-meter combination of "My thoughts go slipping with no will / Like water running down a hill." Those lines feel plain and exact and, to an insomniac, very recognizable.