If you love poetry and postcards, you’ll love poetry on postcards. That was the title of a series of swaps hosted by MissWhimsy in the “Book Lovers Congregate” group on swap-bot. The series ran quite regularly for several months, so I have a lot to share. However, I don’t want to overload your brain with too much poetry in one post, so I’ll showcase a selection of the postcards now and save the others for another time. In fact, as I considered which postcards to share, I thought of my British Literature students who have been doing an excellent job micro-teaching Renaissance, Neoclassical, Romantic, and Victorian poets. For the last couple of weeks, the lessons have focused on the Romantic and the Victorian poets, so tonight I will share the postcards that were sent honoring a handful of those poets. I will do my best not to comment on how and why I love the poets and poems and leave you to simply enjoy the little collection. Postcards were either store bought or handmade, and in most cases, senders tried to match the postcard to the theme or poet in some way.
From Minxy1964: Wordworth Heritage: Dove Cottage; Poet’s Seat; Grasmere; River Rydal. Photos by Phil Insley
This first card (above) was actually sent for a different type of swap, but it fits the theme and bears the face of the first poet.
From “Owlsinathens”: “Clock Tower (Big Ben) House of Parliament (1858). Architects: Sir Charles Barry, A.W.N. Pugin. 3-D Postcard
William Wordsworth (1770-1850)
Milton! thou shouldst be living at this hour:
England hath need of thee: she is a fen
Of stagnant waters: altar, sword, and pen,
Fireside, the heroic wealth of hall and bower,
Have forfeited their ancient English dower
Of inward happiness. We are selfish men;
Oh! raise us up, return to us again;
And give us manners, virtue, freedom, power.
Thy soul was like a Star, and dwelt apart:
Thou hadst a voice whose sound was like the sea:
Pure as the naked heavens, majestic, free,
So didst thou travel on life’s common way,
In cheerful godliness; and yet thy heart
The lowliest duties on herself did lay.
From Maranda: “There Be None of Beauty’s Daughters.” Handmade postcard.
George Gordon Byron, Lord Byron (1788-1824)
“There Be None of Beauty’s Daughters”
There be none of Beauty’s daughters
With a magic like thee;
And like music on the waters
Is thy sweet voice to me:
When, as if its sound were causing
The charmèd ocean’s pausing,
The waves lie still and gleaming,
And the lull’d winds seem dreaming:
And the midnight moon is weaving
Her bright chain o’er the deep;
Whose breast is gently heaving
As an infant’s asleep:
So the spirit bows before thee,
To listen and adore thee;
With a full but soft emotion,
Like the swell of Summer’s ocean.
From MommyKnows: Watercolor Postcard, Floral Still Life, Arum Flower. Pepin van Roojen.
Sonnet. “Written Upon the Top of Ben Nevis”
John Keats (1795-1821)
Read me a lesson, Muse, and speak it loud
Upon the top of Nevis, blind in mist!
I look into the chasms, and a shroud
Vapourous doth hide them, — just so much I wist
Mankind do know of hell; I look o’erhead,
And there is sullen mist, — even so much
Mankind can tell of heaven; mist is spread
Before the earth, beneath me, — even such,
Even so vague is man’s sight of himself!
Here are the craggy stones beneath my feet,–
Thus much I know that, a poor witless elf,
I tread on them, — that all my eye doth meet
Is mist and crag, not only on this height,
But in the world of thought and mental might!
From MissWhimsy: “West Front and Paine’s Bridge over the River Derwent, Chatsworth.” Chatsworth, Home of the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire.
XXXIX. “Because thou hast the power and own’st the grace”
Elizabeth Barrett Browning ( (1806-1861
Because thou hast the power and own’st the grace
To look through and behind this mask of me
(Against which years have beat thus blanchingly
With their rains), and behold my soul’s true face,
The dim and weary witness of life’s race,—
Because thou hast the faith and love to see,
Through that same soul’s distracting lethargy,
The patient angel waiting for a place
In the new Heavens,—because nor sin nor woe,
Nor God’s infliction, nor death’s neighbourhood,
Nor all which others viewing, turn to go,
Nor all which makes me tired of all, self-viewed,—
Nothing repels thee, . . . Dearest, teach me so
To pour out gratitude, as thou dost, good!
From Anita: “The Lady of Shalott.” Handmade postcard.
“The Lady of Shalott” is a bit lengthy for posting in its entirety here, but it is worth the read. The postcard (above) features the sender’s favorite excerpt, but if you want more, here’s the link to the full poem: The Lady of Shalott by Alfred, Lord Tennyson.
I hope you enjoyed the collection of poetry. At some point, I will share more postcards and poetry as well as the poetry-postcards I sent for the “Poetry on Postcard” swaps. Until then…