Week 294: Mnemosyne, by Trumbull Stickney

The plaintive romanticism of this piece by the American poet Trumbull Stickney (1874-1904) is not the sort of thing that normally appeals to me, but I do like how the sensuous solidity of its detail underpins the haunting refrain.


It’s autumn in the country I remember.  

How warm a wind blew here about the ways!
And shadows on the hillside lay to slumber
During the long sun-sweetened summer-days.  

It’s cold abroad the country I remember.  

The swallows veering skimmed the golden grain
At midday with a wing aslant and limber;
And yellow cattle browsed upon the plain.  

It’s empty down the country I remember.  

I had a sister lovely in my sight:
Her hair was dark, her eyes were very sombre;
We sang together in the woods at night.  

It’s lonely in the country I remember.  

The babble of our children fills my ears,
And on our hearth I stare the perished ember
To flames that show all starry thro’ my tears.  

It’s dark about the country I remember.  

There are the mountains where I lived. The path
Is slushed with cattle-tracks and fallen timber,
The stumps are twisted by the tempests’ wrath.  

But that I knew these places are my own,
I’d ask how came such wretchedness to cumber
The earth, and I to people it alone.  

It rains across the country I remember.

Trumbull Stickney


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