Approaching Night (I)

O take this world away from me;
Its strife I cannot bear to see,
Its very praises hurt me more
Than een its coldness did before,
Its hollow ways torment me now
And start a cold sweat on my brow,
Its noise I cannot bear to hear,
Its joy is trouble to my ear,
Its ways I cannot bear to see,
Its crowds are solitudes to me.
O, how I long to be agen
That poor and independent man,
With labour's lot from morn to night
And books to read at candle light;
That followed labour in the field
From light to dark when toil could yield
Real happiness with little gain,
Rich thoughtless health unknown to pain:
Though, leaning on my spade to rest,
I've thought how richer folks were blest
And knew not quiet was the best.
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Nomad said...

This seems to be his same thought from 'The Woodcutter's Night Song', or at least part of it-- the sense of straightforwardness or uncomplicatedness of labouring
life and simple pleasures, and his longing for it.
The 'noise', the clamour of the new world of fame and public notice and city life must have been very discordant in his head.
When were these written? I imagine after he was starting to be made a public fuss of.

Of course, as is human nature, we usually 'forget' the discomforts of other ways of life we may have left behind, especially when our present circumstances are weighing on us, but I do think he is right about the blessings of a well-woven way of living, so to speak... doing what you know well and what you're good at doing, and being glad, simply so, in your work and in your rest.

Richard Faith said...

The theme can be transplanted straight into present-day society, where consumerism and ambition are accepted (in pursuit of the dream) and we wonder why society is so stressed at the same time.

The message is to be happy with what comes easily to us. I'd personally take issue with the "stick to what makes you happy" in one respect, that we also need to journey to discover things that make us happy. The trick is always to evaluate what we do with an eye on what it is turning us into. This poem in in that respect also about perspective.

It's very basic and there are few poetic tricks here, but as straightforward sentiment goes it hits the mark.