Poetry Sunday: Tell me not here, it needs not saying by A.E. Housman

This is one of A.E. Housman's most famous poems. It was published in 1922 and it speaks of the poet's relationship with and feelings about Nature. He seems to say that he feels a close bond with Nature, even though Nature is heartless and witless. It needs not saying that it takes no heed of him but he appreciates the gifts it gives.

Tell me not here, it needs not saying

by A. E. Housman

Tell me not here, it needs not saying,
What tune the enchantress plays
In aftermaths of soft September
Or under blanching mays,
For she and I were long acquainted
And I knew all her ways.

On russet floors, by waters idle,
The pine lets fall its cone;
The cuckoo shouts all day at nothing
In leafy dells alone;
And traveller’s joy beguiles in autumn
Hearts that have lost their own.

On acres of the seeded grasses
The changing burnish heaves;
Or marshalled under moons of harvest
Stand still all night the sheaves;
Or beeches strip in storms for winter
And stain the wind with leaves.

Possess, as I possessed a season,
The countries I resign,
Where over elmy plains the highway
Would mount the hills and shine,
And full of shade the pillared forest
Would murmur and be mine.

For nature, heartless, witless nature,
Will neither care nor know
What stranger’s feet may find the meadow
And trespass there and go,
Nor ask amid the dews of morning
If they are mine or no.

Comments

  1. We must take nature as we find it, whether a peaceful meadow or a raging storm, but it is certain that we never remain indifferent to it.

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  2. about the impossibility of connecting to anything? a recognition of individual isolation? a lot of questions in this work...

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    Replies
    1. If that is what it means to you, then that is what it means!

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  3. Such a perfect poem for this time of year!

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    Replies
    1. I was looking for autumn poems and I found this one.

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  4. This was my first reading of this poem. Fall brings out a lot of feelings in all of us. I get a strong feeling of alienation here, a Nature not knowing or caring, as a time of mass death nears. (I imagine that's what "witless" means in that context. ) We who live for many autumns bear the burden of trying to figure it all out.

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    Replies
    1. Figuring it out is always an ongoing process, isn’t it?

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  5. This is my first time to read this one. I love the imagery, though I tend to think that nature does both know and care, in some form or fashion.

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