Wednesday, June 10, 2009

With Strawberries We Filled a Tray

    A Rondeau

    WITH strawberries we filled a tray,
    And then we drove away, away
    Along the links beside the sea,
    Where wave and wind were light and free,
    And August felt as fresh as May.

    And where the springy turf was gay
    With thyme and balm and many a spray
    Of wild roses, you tempted me
    With strawberries.

    A shadowy sail, silent and gray,
    Stole like a ghost across the bay;
    But none could hear me ask my fee,
    And none could know what came to be.
    Can sweethearts all their thirst allay
    With strawberries?
    William Ernest Henley (1894-1903)

A great admirer of Thomas Edward Brown headmaster and poet of the Crypt School William Earnest Henley was an English writer and editor. He was friends with Robert Louis Stevenson and did much to further the career of British writer Rudyard Kipling and Irish poet W.B. Yeats. Osteomyelitis crippled Henley early in life yet he continued to be remarkably courageous as a spirited and courageous writer.

With Strawberries We Filled A Tray is a delightful little summer poem that shows Henley's clever use of the rondeau form where thirteen lines in three stanzas use the opening words of the first line of the first stanza used as an independent refrain after the second and third stanzas.


Public domain text taken from The Poets' Corner

Today's poem, With strawberries we filled a tray

William Ernest Henley

About the picture:
The Bathers, Dieppe, 1902
Walter Richard Sickert (1860-1942)
Oil on canvas
National Museums Liverpool, Walker Art Gallery

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