It is my first post for awhile! I thought I would do a Very Long Post, to celebrate, but I quickly thought better of it. Mostly because it is hard to find something which I want to discuss today, and, even harder, to find something long enough for a long post. So, it is with the joy of labour cut short that I turn, today, to a little poem – perhaps, even, a ‘diamond’ of four lines? This poem is by Hillaire Belloc; I quite like him, but people seem to leave him out nowadays. He accomplished many things in his writing: essays, travel writing, theology, history, novels, politics, and several other such subjects. Belloc is, I believe, most famous for his Cautionary Tales, which I’m sure the Dear Reader has read; y’know, Matilda, Who Told Lies and Was Burnt to Death, or Algernon, Who Played With A Loaded Gun, And, On Missing His Sister, Was Reprimanded By His Father. All quite amusing children’s verse, which Caution the Child not to do such silly things. They are great fun.
But, today, I write not of child’s verse, though that is always fun. Today, I write of The Diamond!
This diamond, Juliet, will adorn
Ephemeral beauties yet unborn.
While my strong verse, for ever new,
Shall still adorn immortal you.
That’s the whole poem (hence my cheating post). I love it, despite its enviable brevity. The opening line, short and simple, introduces us to the poem, and the second reminds us that this life will pass. Unborn and ephemeral beauties shall wear the diamond, as it is passed on, sold, pawned off, and other such things. But yet, these four lines will make eternal Juliet! I enjoy the way it offsets, the first two lines brining the poem into focus: in the couplet, we know the poem is dedicated to this ‘Juliet,’ we gather the poet feels for her, and knows it all must pass and end. Rejoined by the last two lines, it brings the whole poem right into focus – this poem, in its own bold statement, shall make eternal Juliet, and, though it never describes nor praises her, it adorns her. The reader feels akin; understands, imagines a beautiful woman, and the poet loving her. All in four lines, which is rather impressive.
As this shall be a Short Post, I draw to a close. My final comment is that this poem manages to capture so much in four lines. It gains the essence of Spenser’s Amoretti 70, all in four lines. That is an impressive work; and I envy Belloc’s skill. Short poems are some of my favourite, and this one places itself firmly near the top of my favourite short poems.