Saturday, 14 June 2014

A perfect poem for a perfect June evening

Here is a poem by Matthew Arnold (1822-1888)  that for me perfectly evokes the sensations of being in the countryside on a June evening. The hustle and the bustle of the day is over. There is a calm in the air. The scents of the earth , the hedgerows , the woodlands are heightened and at their most intense. There is a scuffling and a scrabbling as little creatures settle down or come out for their evening expeditions. Walking or cycling at this time of day , whether in the Italian hills, the English country lanes, the golden Spanish fields, everywhere,there is a timeless joy and a sensual delight to be found .
Matthew Arnold was the son of  a famous headmaster of Rugby school. He worked as a school inspector  for over thirty years travelling extensively round the country by the recently established railway network. 

The evening comes, the fields are still,
The tinkle of the thirsty rill
Unheard all day ascends again;
Deserted is the half- mown plain,
Silent the swathes! The ringing wain;
The mower's cry, the dogs alarms,
All housed within the sleeping farms!
The business of the day is done,
The last-left hay- maker is gone.
And from the thyme upon the height,
And from the elder-blossom white
And pale dog roses in the hedge,
And from the mint plant in 
the sedge,
In puffs of balm the night air blows
The perfume which the day fore- goes.
And on the pure horizon far,
See, pulsing with the first- born star,
The liquid sky above the hill!
The evening comes, the fields are still.

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