Too Young to Die

[Posted on 29 September, 2012, this is an attempt at a ‘Cento’, inspired by Samuel Peralta over at dVerse Poets Pub ‘Form for All’, in which Samuel writes brilliantly about this form as “Collage and the Art of the Cento“.]

Too Young to Die

Forgive these wild and wandering cries,
Confusions of a wasted youth;
Forgive them where they fail in truth,
And in your wisdom make me wise.

Remember this, that we shall ever
Bow our heads and fill with tears
Life’s cup of mercy; recall what sears
The heart, not dim their great endeavour.

Something it is which you have lost,
Some pleasure from your early years.
Break, you deep vase of chilling tears,
That grief has shaken into frost!

That loss is common would not make
My own less bitter, rather more:
Too common! Never morning wore
To evening, but some heart did break.

Old Yew, which grasping at the stones
That name the under-lying dead,
Your fibres net the dreamless head,
Your roots are wrapped about the bones.

Whose stolen duty marked by stope
For graves, but far too little memory
Of their names, rough cut in grey,
But for one, they leave us hope

That every day we take their lead
That we may see the need for us
To find a little courage, not fuss
On things that threaten not our needs.

O living will that shall endure
When all that seems shall suffer shock,
Rise in the spiritual rock,
Flow through our deeds and make them pure,

With faith that comes of self-control,
The truths that never can be proved
Until we close with all we loved,
And all we flow from, soul in soul.

Whereof the man, that with me trod
This planet, was a noble type
Appearing when the time was ripe,
That friend of mine who lives in God.

© 2012 John Anstie


The 2nd, 6th and 7th stanza’s are from my own poem, “Twenty Nine”. The remaining stanza’s I selected from different parts of Alfred, Lord Tennyson’s epic elegy, “In Memoriam A.H.H.”, which he eventually published in 1850. My own poem shared Tennyson’s rhyming scheme and, of course, its elegiac theme. The metre of “Twenty Nine”, however, is in pentameter as opposed to Tennyson’s tetrameter, so I have edited my three verses to fit his metre. I don’t know whether it works as well as I’d hope, but consider this as work in progress. For the sake of consistency and flow, I have altered the more archaic words used by Tennyson, for example ‘thou’ becomes ‘you, ‘thine’ becomes ‘your’ and graspest becomes grasping. However, out of respect for the tradition of that era of poetry, I capitalised the beginning of each line.

Don't leave without letting me know your feelings...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s