Untrodden streets of Time…

This poem by Walter Turner is beautiful but mysterious. Tantalus was a mythological Greek figure, a very unpleasant character who after various misdeeds was punished by standing in a pool of water with  food just out of reach, and every time he bent to drink the water flowed away… He was punished in this way for all eternity. So maybe Turner is thinking of the man for ever tempted but unable to satisfy his hunger and thirst… or maybe Turner was thinking of another Tantalus, a geographical Tantalus on the other side of the word – Mount Tantalus  – Puu-ohia, is an extinct cinder cone in the southern Koʻolau Range on the Hawaiian Island of Oʻahu which also has a summit crater called, unsurprisingly, the Tantalus Crater.

The Towers Of Tantalus

The Towers of Tantalus I saw
Above untrodden streets of Time;
The sunlight and the moonlight shone
Together, on great spars of rime.

Terrestrial lilies were those Towers
In calm sky pools of that dark noon;
Calm lay on rocks of frozen light
The shadow of the Sun and Moon.

Still, bright-gold chrysanthemums
Shone in the polished, dim, jade halls,
And at small windows in still woods
Hung snow-curved, shining waterfalls.

Those pinnacles, sky-pointed, sang
A cloud-embroidered song of doom,
The flowers sang in the halls below
Wax sprays of light in ebon gloom.

The waters frozen in the woods
Were mirrored on the shadowed sloors;
Cold constellations from the sky
Hung low, dream-captured at the doors.

‘Twas music hewn upon the air
Flashed for a moment on these eyes
I heard the trumpets crumple, and
I stared once more at transient skies.

Walter James Redfern Turner
My featured image is of a volcano far away from Hawaii, Kerið in Iceland and I have no idea what sloors are, shadowed or not!

Hey! . . . Hey! . . . Hullo! Hullo!

This is a marvellous evocation of silence in nature… if you have ever experienced it, in a summer wood, in a sun-filled vale, in a shadowy gorge at midday, then you might understand the urge to shout out, to Hey! . . . Hey! . . . Hullo! Hullo!

Silence

It was bright day and all the trees were still
In the deep valley, and the dim Sun glowed;
The clay in hard-baked fire along the hill
Leapt through dark trunks to apples green and gold,
Smooth, hard and cold, they shone like lamps of stone:

They were bright bubbles bursting from the trees,
Swollen and still among the dark green boughs;
On their bright skins the shadows of the leaves
Seemed the faints ghosts of summers long since gone,
Faint ghosts of ghosts, the dreams of ghostly eyes.

There was not sound between those breathless hills.
Only the dim Sun hung there, nothing moved;
The thronged, massed, crowded multitude of leaves
Hung like dumb tongues that loll and gasp for air:
The grass was thick and still, between the trees.

There were big apples lying on the ground,
Shining, quite still, as though they had been stunned
By some great violent spirit stalking through,
Leaving a deep and supernatural calm
Round a dead beetle upturned in a furrow.

A valley filled with dark, quiet, leaf-thick trees,
Loaded with green, cold, faintly shining suns;
And in the sky a great dim burning disc! —
Madness it is to watch these twisted trunks
And to see nothing move and hear no sound!

Let’s make a noise, Hey! . . . Hey! . . . Hullo! Hullo!

Walter James Redfern Turner
1884-1946

I walked in a great golden dream

I am ashamed to say that the author of this poem, so well-remembered and loved from childhood, is not who I thought he was! For some reason, I thought this poem was written by John Masefield! How shocking! Masefield is one of my favourite poets, and I really thought ‘Romance’ was written by him – maybe confusing it with ‘Cargoes’ and its magnificent opening line, ‘Quinquireme of Nineveh from distant Ophir’…

But no, ‘Romance’ was written by Walter J. Turner – and I’m doubly ashamed that I know nothing about the poet who wrote this verse! Walter James Redfern Turner born in 1889 was an Australian who came to England when he was eighteen and became acquainted with, then associated with and then very much involved with such writers as  Sassoon,  Woolf and Sackville-West. This must be his best known poem:

Romance

When I was but thirteen or so
I went into a golden land,
Chimborazo, Cotopaxi
Took me by the hand.

My father died, my brother too,
They passed like fleeting dreams,
I stood where Popocatapetl
In the sunlight gleams.

I dimly heard the master’s voice
And boys far-off at play,
Chimborazo, Cotopaxi
Had stolen me away.

I walked in a great golden dream
To and fro from school
Shining Popocatapetl
The dusty streets did rule

I walked home with a gold dark boy
And never a word I’d say,
Chimborazo, Cotopaxi
Had taken my speech away.

I gazed entranced upon his face
Fairer than any flower—
O shining Popocatapetl
It was thy magic hour:

The houses, people, traffic seemed
Thin fading dreams by day;
Chimborazo, Cotopaxi,
They had stolen my soul away!

Romance

After visiting Littlehampton today and thinking about my granddad, William Reginald , always known as reg, and his love of travel, I was reminded of this poem. It was written when Reg was fifty, but I wonder if he ever read it, and I wonder if it reminded him of his travels and adventures when he was younger?

It is a marvellous poem by the Australian poet, Walter James Redfern Turner who was born in 1884, four years before Reg. He did in 1946.

Romance

HEN I was but thirteen or so
I went into a golden land,
Chimborazo, Cotopaxi
Took me by the hand.
 
My father died, my brother too,
They passed like fleeting dreams,
I stood where Popocatapetl
In the sunlight gleams.
 
I dimly heard the master’s voice
And boys far-off at play,
Chimborazo, Cotopaxi
Had stolen me away.
 
I walked in a great golden dream
To and fro from school–
Shining Popocatapetl
The dusty streets did rule.
 
I walked home with a gold dark boy,
And never a word I’d say,
Chimborazo, Cotopaxi
Had taken my speech away:
 
I gazed entranced upon his face
Fairer than any flower–
O shining Popocatapetl
It was thy magic hour:
 
The houses, people, traffic seemed
Thin fading dreams by day,
Chimborazo, Cotopaxi
They had stolen my soul away!
by W.J.Turner