What does it mean? Tired, angry, and ill at ease,
No man, woman, or child alive could please
Me now. And yet I almost dare to laugh
Because I sit and frame an epitaph —
‘Here lies all that no one loved of him
And that loved no one.’ Then in a trice that whim
Has wearied. But, though I am like a river
At fall of evening while it seems that never
Has the sun lighted it or warmed it, while
Cross breezes cut the surface to a file,
This heart, some fraction of me, happily
Floats through the window even now to a tree
Down in the misting, dim-lit, quiet vale,
Not like a pewit that returns to wail
For something it has lost, but like a dove
That slants unswerving to its home and love.
There I find my rest, and through the dusk air
Flies what yet lives in me. Beauty is there.
Edward Thomas, The Annotated Collected Poems (edited by Edna Longley) (Bloodaxe Books 2008).
Today I found this poem on a blog I frequent. The writer talks about not just beauty, but also how the meaning has changed over the years. He says:
….but there was a time when “beauty” was a philosophical or a metaphysical concept, not merely an empty word from the worlds of advertising, movies, television, and music. For example, early in his life, before he began his political career, Edmund Burke wrote A Philosophical Enquiry into the Origin of Our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful. (“Sublime”: another word that has lost all meaning in our time.)
He comment about this Edward Thomas poem:
In “Beauty,” Thomas is unsparing in disclosing the despair and misery (melancholy is not a strong enough word) that dogged him throughout his life. But he makes clear that the despair and misery are not the whole story. We know this from the beautiful particulars of the World that appear in his poems.
I enjoyed it all, although I’m not sure I understood it all. You can read it in its entirety here.