Guest Feature by John Wynn-Jones:
Farewell, Goodbye and the End

Dr John Wynn-Jones is well known in WONCA circles and immediate past chair of the WONCA Working Party on Rural Practice. During the COVID-19 crisis he has been writing a 'Rural Miscellany' email with poems and resource ideas to help and divert us in this difficult time. In this, the last item of 'Rural Miscellany', we publish "Farewell, Goodbye and the End" . 

Thank you, Dr John Wynn-Jones!

“Parting is such sweet sorrow that I shall say goodnight till it be morrow.”  Shakespeare (Romeo and Juliet)

“Never say goodbye because goodbye means going away and going away means forgetting.”  J.M. Barrie (Peter Pan)

“Well, here at last, dear friends, on the shores of the Sea comes the end of our fellowship in Middle-earth. Go in peace! I will not say: do not weep; for not all tears are an evil.” J.R.R. Tolkien (Lord of the Rings)

“What is that feeling when you're driving away from people and they recede on the plain till you see their specks dispersing? - it's the too-huge world vaulting us, and it's good-bye. But we lean forward to the next crazy venture beneath the skies.”  Jack Kerouac (On the Road)

“The story of life is quicker than the wink of an eye, the story of love is hello and goodbye...until we meet again”  Jimi Hendrix

“Farewell has a sweet sound of reluctance. Good-by is short and final, a word with teeth sharp to bite through the string that ties past to the future.”  John Steinbeck

“When you reach the end of your rope, tie a knot in it and hang on.” Franklin D. Roosevelt

“We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time”. T. S. Elliot

“It's better to burn out than to fade away.” Neil Young.

As I announced last month this will be my last Covid-19 Rural Miscellany for the time being. It’s been a difficult personal decision for me, especially as the pandemic continues to gather momentum and ravages countries such as Brazil and India. I have not decided whether it is the final posting, but I will continue to send out a Non-Covid post every 2-3 weeks and I need your contributions to do so. I want to hear of rural papers, articles and news that you feel is relevant to rural family physicians, health care workers, academics and policy makers. It’s an opportunity to disseminate your work or that of colleagues to the global rural health family.

The last 13 months has been a remarkable personal journey. I have discovered poets and poems that I would have otherwise never come across and I hope that you have enjoyed reading them also. I am aware that the majority of the work comes from the English-speaking world and I would have loved to have been able to diversify more. If any of you have a poet or a poem that you want to disseminate, I would be happy to help.

Looking back, it has been a labour of love. I can’t believe that I have sent out 130 postings with well over a thousand poems and approximately Covid 6,000 links. Charles Darwin is quoted as saying “If I had my life to live over again, I would have made a rule to read some poetry and listen to some music at least once every week.” I hope that I have encouraged you all to follow in the great man’s footsteps. I still believe that science and technology will not conquer this dreadful disease on its own without a profound understanding of humanity, the arts and the magic that binds us all together in one big human family. I am reminded of a quote by arguably, the 20th Century’s greatest scientist, Albert Einstein, “All religions, arts and sciences are branches of the same tree. All these aspirations are directed toward ennobling man's life, lifting it from the sphere of mere physical existence and leading the individual towards freedom.” We will need to muster all this energy if we are to conquer the even bigger threat of climate change and the global pain that will accompany it.

There is a considerable volume of poetry around the theme of goodbye or farewell. Much of it concentrates on eulogies to the departed or the end of relationships, lost love and regret. We are also told that goodbye does not always mean what it might appear to be and that there is always hope.

The range of contributions covers two millennia, starting with the poet Horace (65-8 BCE) and finishing with JRR Tolkien (the author of “The Hobbit” and “Lord of the Rings”) with his poem, “Journey’s End”. I have however started with the Eulogy written by our Poet Laureate, Simon Armitage to mark the passing of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh (consort to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, Queen of the United Kingdom & Head of the Commonwealth). The poem is a contemplation of a great man’s life and it reflects on the importance of duty and service to the community. I hope that you find it valuable

“Ars longa vita brevis” ("Art is long, life is short") Hippocrates

Simon Armitage (1963)

Simon Armitage is an English poet, playwright and novelist who was appointed Poet Laureate in 2019. He was born in West Yorkshire and is Professor of Poetry at the University of Leeds. A recipient of numerous prizes and awards, he has published twelve collections of poetry. He writes extensively for television & radio and is the author of two novels and three non-fiction bestsellers. His theatre works include The Last Days of Troy, performed at Shakespeare's Globe in 2014.  In 2015 he was appointed Professor of Poetry at Oxford University and in 2018 he was awarded the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry. Simon Armitage is Poet Laureate.

The Poet Laureate is an honorary position appointed by the Queen. The role does not entail any specific duties, but there is an expectation that the holder will write verse for significant national occasions. The origins of the laureateship date back to 1616 when a pension was provided to Ben Jonson. Simon Armitage succeeded Carol Ann Duffy in May 2019.

Simon Armitage has written a poem to mark the death and passing of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh (consort to Queen Elizabeth). I have posted this eulogy not only for those of us in the UK but for all the 54 nations of the Commonwealth of which the Queen is the nominal head. It’s difficult to express our deep sadness and grief at his death and our thoughts are with the Queen at this difficult time.

Armitage said about Prince Philip that he “hated sycophancy – I didn’t want to write anything that would have sounded sycophantic in his ears”. The poem, titled “The Patriarchs – An Elegy”, the poem was published for on the day of the duke’s funeral. It opens on a snowy morning – “the weather is a peculiarly British obsession,” said Armitage – and expands into a dedication to the men of Prince Philip’s generation, “great-grandfathers from birth”.  The poem reads “On such an occasion / to presume to eulogise one man is to pipe up / for a whole generation – that crew whose survival / was always the stuff of minor miracle, / who came ashore in orange-crate coracles, / fought ingenious wars, finagled triumphs at sea / with flaming decoy boats, and side-stepped torpedoes”.

“I didn’t want to presume to write a personal poem about somebody I didn’t know, so I took cues from various interesting facts about his life, and thinking of him as the last in that generation of patriarchs. So there are a lot of details in the poem which are directly about him, but I tried to broaden the point out into a generational one.”

Armitage said that he wanted the poem to address the duke’s values and personality. “A lot of the commentary has been around duty and service – I saw it as a prompt for writing something dutiful, and in service of all people like him.”

One line – “They were sons of a zodiac out of sync / with the solar year” – refers to Philip’s birth in Greece in 1921, two years before the country switched from using the Julian calendar to Gregorian. I felt that this eulogy was a fitting start to illustrate the theme of this last post.


The Patriarchs – An Elegy

The weather in the window this morning
is snow, unseasonal singular flakes,
a slow winter’s final shiver. On such an occasion
to presume to eulogise one man is to pipe up
for a whole generation – that crew whose survival
was always the stuff of minor miracle,
who came ashore in orange-crate coracles,
fought ingenious wars, finagled triumphs at sea
with flaming decoy boats, and side-stepped torpedoes.

Husbands to duty, they unrolled their plans
across billiard tables and vehicle bonnets,
regrouped at breakfast. What their secrets were
was everyone’s guess and nobody’s business.
Great-grandfathers from birth, in time they became
both inner core and outer case
in a family heirloom of nesting dolls.
Like evidence of early man their boot-prints stand
in the hardened earth of rose-beds and borders.

They were sons of a zodiac out of sync
with the solar year, but turned their minds
to the day’s big science and heavy questions.
To study their hands at rest was to picture maps
showing hachured valleys and indigo streams, schemes
of old campaigns and reconnaissance missions.
Last of the great avuncular magicians
they kept their best tricks for the grand finale:
Disproving Immortality and Disappearing Entirely.

The major oaks in the wood start tuning up
and skies to come will deliver their tributes.
But for now, a cold April’s closing moments
parachute slowly home, so by mid-afternoon
snow is recast as seed heads and thistledown.

Horace (65-8 BC)

Quintus Horatius Flaccus, known in the English-speaking world as Horace, was the leading Roman lyric poet during the time of Augustus

In anticipating goodbyes and endings, Horace tells us that we should find ways to seize the day and enjoy the present moment. “Tu ne quaesieris” (“Do not ask”) is the most famous of his odes published in 23 BC as Poem 11 in the first book of his collected “Odes” or “Carmina”. The poem takes the form of a short rebuke to a woman, Leuconoë, who is worrying about the future, and uses agricultural metaphors to urge us to embrace the pleasures available in everyday life rather than relying on remote aspirations for the future. The poem is often also known as “Carpe Diem” for the famous phrase in the final line, or sometimes as “Ad Leuconoem” for its initial dedication.

Ode I. 11

Leucon, no one’s allowed to know his fate,
Not you, not me: don’t ask, don’t hunt for answers
In tea leaves or palms. Be patient with whatever comes.
This could be our last winter, it could be many
More, pounding the Tuscan Sea on these rocks:
Do what you must, be wise, cut your vines
And forget about hope. Time goes running, even
As we talk. Take the present, the future’s no one’s affair.

Horace's Ode 1.11 "Carpe Diem" read in Latin and Englsh

Michael Drayton (1563-1631)

Michael Drayton was an English poet who came to prominence in the Elizabethan era. He was a contemporary of William Shakespeare – he was born a year before Shakespeare, in 1563 – and, like the Bard, he was a Warwickshire lad. But although he wrote a great number of poems – including a long verse travelogue about England – Drayton’s poetry is not read much now. That is, with the notable exception of this one sonnet, beginning ‘Since there’s no help, come let us kiss and part’, which is widely anthologised and reasonably well-known.

His lengthy historical poems did not lend themselves to later reading and scholarship. By the end of his life, the didactic verse and historical epics upon which Drayton had lavished so much care no longer commanded an audience. The division between poetry and history had broadened, and that breach had undermined the great humanist tradition and its assumption that epic poetry grounded in the history of a nation towered over all other genres.

The poem is one of the greatest “breaking-up” poems in the English Language. The poet tells his erstwhile lover that the best thing for them to do is to end their relationship, shake hands, and walk away – though in the closing lines, he dares to dream that the relationship may yet be salvaged. The poem appeared towards the end of Drayton’s sonnet sequence Idea’s Mirror (1594).

Since there’s no help, come let us kiss and part

Since there’s no help, come let us kiss and part. 
Nay, I have done, you get no more of me; 
And I am glad, yea glad with all my heart, 
That thus so cleanly I myself can free. 
Shake hands for ever, cancel all our vows, 
And when we meet at any time again, 
Be it not seen in either of our brows 
That we one jot of former love retain. 
Now at the last gasp of Love’s latest breath, 
When, his pulse failing, Passion speechless lies; 
When Faith is kneeling by his bed of death, 
And Innocence is closing up his eyes— 
Now, if thou wouldst, when all have given him over, 
From death to life thou might’st him yet recover!

Michael Drayton, ‘Since There’s No Help, Come Let Us Kiss and Part’.


Queen Elizabeth 1 of England (1533-1603)

Elizabeth 1 was Queen of England and Ireland from 1558 until her death in 1603. sometimes called the Virgin Queen, Gloriana or Good Queen Bess, Elizabeth was the last of the five monarchs of the House of Tudor. Her reign is often called the Elizabethan Age, when England asserted itself vigorously as a major European power in politics, commerce, and the arts.

Elizabeth was extremely well educated especially for women at this time. She wrote poetry and a number of poems are attributed to her including "On Monsieur’s Departure".
From the start of Elizabeth's reign, it was expected that she would marry and the question arose to whom. Although she received many offers for her hand, she never married and was childless; the reasons for this are not clear. She considered several suitors until she was about fifty. Her last courtship was with Francis, Duke of Anjou, 22 years her junior. While risking possible loss of power like her sister, who played into the hands of King Philip II of Spain, marriage offered the chance of an heir. However, the choice of a husband might also provoke political instability or even insurrection

Elizabeth did fall in love with her Childhood friend, Robert Dudley, 1st Earl of Leicester. It was rumoured that the Queen would like to marry him if his wife should die. Amy Dudley died mysteriously after falling downstairs in 1560 but many people suspected that Dudley had arranged her death. Elizabeth however remains single throughout her life
"On Monsieur’s Departure" was written in the form of a meditation on the failure of her marriage negotiations with Francis, Duke of Anjou, but has also been attributed to her alleged affair with, and love of Robert Dudley.

In the first verse Elizabeth means that she hides strong unhappiness and love (of Anjou) in favour of an appearance of coolness and dislike. This show may be meant to please her subjects or save her pride because the idea of her marriage with Anjou was very unpopular amongst her subjects. In any case, she has turned (or is turning) from her former (and more natural) self (or behaviour) to something different. The second verse is about her unhappiness. It is her constant companion, she has never been able to make it go away, and she feels that only death could banish it. In the third verse Elizabeth asks for less intense feelings, saying she is fragile. She wishes Anjou were less nice so that she could get over her feelings more easily. The fourth line means either that she wishes she could feel good or bad, which would seem to contradict the first line, or that she wishes she could show (and vent) these feelings properly, or perhaps that she could feel one extreme or the other, rather than both at once: high OR low. Finally, she says if she cannot be happier, she would like to die so that thoughts of love no longer trouble her. She doubts she will ever be fulfilled in terms of love.

On Monsieur’s Departure

I grieve and dare not show my discontent,
I love and yet am forced to seem to hate,
I do, yet dare not say I ever meant,
I seem stark mute but inwardly do prate.
I am and not, I freeze and yet am burned,
Since from myself another self I turned.

My care is like my shadow in the sun,
Follows me flying, flies when I pursue it,
Stands and lies by me, doth what I have done.
His too familiar care doth make me rue it.
No means I find to rid him from my breast,
Till by the end of things it be supprest.

Some gentler passion slide into my mind,
For I am soft and made of melting snow;
Or be more cruel, love, and so be kind.
Let me or float or sink, be high or low.
Or let me live with some more sweet content,
Or die and so forget what love ere meant.

Elizabeth I - "On Monsieur's Departure" (Helen Mirren,2005)


Thomas Hardy (1840-1928)

Thomas Hardy OM was an English novelist and poet. A Victorian realist in the tradition of George Eliot, he was influenced both in his novels and in his poetry by Romanticism, including the poetry of William Wordsworth.

One of the most renowned poets and novelists in English literary history, Thomas Hardy was born in the English county of Dorset. Hardy’s youth was influenced by the musicality of his father, a stonemason and fiddler, and his mother, Jemima Hand Hardy, often described as the real guiding star of Hardy’s early life. Though he was an architectural apprentice in London, and spent time there each year until his late 70s, Dorset provided Hardy with material for his fiction and poetry. One of the poorest and most backward of the counties, rural life in Dorset had changed little in hundreds of years, which Hardy explored through the rustic characters in many of his novels. Strongly identifying himself and his work with Dorset. Hardy called his novels the Wessex Novels, after one of the kingdoms of Anglo-Saxon Britain. Despite the success of his novels he saw himself primarily a poet

“The Going” is a deeply moving and emotional piece and one of the elegy poems Hardy composed after the death of his first wife Emma in 1912

The references to light and darkness, as well as the repeated questions to the departed Emma, all speak of a feeling of despair. Although she had been in poor health for some time, Thomas Hardy did not appreciate just how ill his wife Emma was and her death, when it came, was sudden and a profound shock to him. He felt considerable guilt over the fact that he had not been able to rectify the bad feeling that there had been between them over recent years, and which had led Emma to spend much of her time alone in a small attic room in their house on the edge of Dorchester, Dorset.


The Going

Why did you give no hint that night
That quickly after the morrow’s dawn,
And calmly, as if indifferent quite,
You would close your term here, up and be gone
Where I could not follow
With wing of swallow
To gain one glimpse of you ever anon!

Never to bid good-bye
Or lip me the softest call,
Or utter a wish for a word, while I
Saw morning harden upon the wall,
Unmoved, unknowing
That your great going
Had place that moment, and altered all.

 Why do you make me leave the house
And think for a breath it is you I see
At the end of the alley of bending boughs
Where so often at dusk you used to be;
Till in darkening dankness
The yawning blankness
Of the perspective sickens me!

You were she who abode
By those red-veined rocks far West,
You were the swan-necked one who rode
Along the beetling Beeny Crest,
And, reining nigh me,
Would muse and eye me,
While Life unrolled us its very best.

Why, then, latterly did we not speak,
Did we not think of those days long dead,
And ere your vanishing strive to seek
That time’s renewal? We might have said,
“In this bright spring weather
We’ll visit together
Those places that once we visited.”

Well, well! All’s past amend,
Unchangeable. It must go.
I seem but a dead man held on end
To sink down soon. . . . O you could not know
That such swift fleeing
No soul foreseeing--
Not even I--would undo me so!

The Going by Thomas Hardy


A. E. Housman (1859-1936)

Alfred Edward Housman, usually known as A. E. Housman, was an English classical scholar and poet. His cycle of poems, A Shropshire Lad wistfully evoke the dooms and disappointments of youth in the English countryside. He was born in Worcestershire, England, and he was profoundly affected by his mother’s death when he was 12. He would become the Cambridge University professor of Latin. Though Housman aspired to be a great scholar first, a look at his life and work reveals that he valued poetry more highly than he often admitted, and that many of the presumed conflicts between the classical scholar and the romantic poet easily dissolve in the personality of the man.

“Shake Hands”, like virtually all of Housman’s poetry, this poem was inspired by Housman’s own hopeless affection for Moses Jackson, an athlete whom Housman met when they were both studying at Oxford in the late 1870s and early 1880s. Jackson later married and emigrated to Canada, but Housman remained loyal, nurturing an impossible love for Jackson until the day Jackson died in 1923. After that, Housman didn’t write any further poems: his muse had gone. The poem starts with a feeling of resignation that the relationship is going nowhere and is at its end. If his friend ever, needs him, he will be there. Perhaps its better and easier to maintain some form of relationship at a distance.

Shake Hands

Shake hands, we shall never be friends, all's over;
     I only vex you the more I try.
All's wrong that ever I've done or said,
And nought to help it in this dull head:
     Shake hands, here's luck, good-bye.

But if you come to a road where danger
Or guilt or anguish or shame's to share,
Be good to the lad that loves you true
And the soul that was born to die for you,
And whistle and I'll be there.

A. E. Housman - ‘Shake Hands’



Alun Lewis (1915-1944)

Alun Lewis was a Welsh poet. He is one of the best-known English-language poets of the Second World War.

He was born at Cwmaman, a South Wales mining village. His father was a school teacher; his three brothers worked in the mines. From a young age, Lewis felt he had a vocation to be a writer. He was educated at Cowbridge Grammar School and at the University College of Wales at Aberystwyth. He undertook postgraduate work at Manchester University and trained as a teacher. He was unsuccessful in his wish to become a journalist and instead earned his living as a supply teacher. As a boy, Alun Lewis had discovered and greatly admired the work of Edward Thomas,  an admiration that continued for the rest of his life. He had written poetry from an early age, but between the Winter of 1939 and the Autumn of 1940, he matured as a poet and his first published collection, Raiders Dawn and Other Poems, was published in 1942, establishing him as one of the outstanding war poets. He describes the loneliness of military life, the effect new places had on him and the experience of love with extraordinary maturity. The volume of his short stories, The Last Inspection, was also published that year and showed that he was equally distinguished as a prose writer. Despite his Pacifist leanings, he enlisted in the Royal Engineers in 1940, In November 1942 he sailed for India and in early 1944 he was moved to the Burmese front. On his way, at Arakan in Lower Burma, he was killed in a mysterious incident involving his own pistol. Alun Lewis married Gweno Ellis in 1941 and much of his fine love poetry is addressed to her.

He wrote ‘Goodbye’ about his first night with his wife.



So we must say Goodbye, my darling,
And go, as lovers go, for ever;
Tonight remains, to pack and fix on labels
And make an end of lying down together.

I put a final shilling in the gas,
And watch you slip your dress below your knees
And lie so still I hear your rustling comb
Modulate the autumn in the trees.

And all the countless things I shall remember
Lay mummy-cloths of silence round my head;
I fill the carafe with a drink of water;
You say ‘We paid a guinea for this bed,’

And then, ‘We’ll leave some gas, a little warmth
For the next resident, and these dry flowers,’
And turn your face away, afraid to speak
The big word, that Eternity is ours.

Your kisses close my eyes and yet you stare
As though god struck a child with nameless fears;
Perhaps the water glitters and discloses
Time’s chalice and its limpid useless tears.

Everything we renounce except our selves;
Selfishness is the last of all to go;
Our sighs are exhalations of the earth,
Our footprints leave a track across the snow.

We made the universe to be our home,
Our nostrils took the wind to be our breath,
Our hearts are massive towers of delight,
We stride across the seven seas of death.

Yet when all’s done you’ll keep the emerald
I placed upon your finger in the street;
And I will keep the patches that you sewed
On my old battledress tonight, my sweet.

Goodbye by Alun Lewis



Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941)

Rabindranath Tagore FRAS was a Bengali poet, writer, visionary, composer, philosopher, social reformer and painter. He reshaped Bengali literature and music, as well as Indian art with Contextual Modernism in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. He was one of the giants of world literature and the first non-European to be awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. He is one of my heroes and I have visited his poetry on many times during this literary journey. Please take the opportunity to read further, some of the works of this great man.

Often poems of farewell have either been written as specific eulogies to be read at funerals or have been adopted as such. “Farewell my friends” is one of the most used due its clarity, simplicity and the fact that it can  represent all religions and philosophies. The poem is a reflection on the narrator’s contentment with his life and gratitude to his or her friends for their companionship and support. The poem ends with a hope that they will live on after death in the memory of these friends.


Farewell My Friends

It was beautiful as long as it lasted
The journey of my life.
I have no regrets whatsoever
Save the pain I’ll leave behind.
Those dear hearts who love and care
And the strings pulling at the heart and soul
The strong arms that held me up

When my own strength let me down.
At every turning of my life I came across good friends,
Friends who stood by me
Even when the time raced me by.
Farewell, farewell my friends
I smile and bid you goodbye.
No, shed no tears for I need them not
All I need is your smile.
If you feel sad do think of me
For that’s what I’ll like.
When you live in the hearts of those you love
Remember then you never die.


Stevie Smith (1902-1971)

Florence Margaret Smith, known as Stevie Smith, was an English poet and novelist. She was awarded the Cholmondeley Award for Poets and won the Queen's Gold Medal for poetry. A play Stevie by Hugh Whitemore, based on her life, was adapted into a film starring Glenda Jackson. She led an outwardly uneventful life behind the respectable curtains of suburbia whilst nurturing a highly individual imagination.

In the poem she describes the freedom that saying goodbye can provide.


In My Dreams

In my dreams I am always saying goodbye and riding away,   
Whither and why I know not nor do I care.
And the parting is sweet and the parting over is sweeter,   
And sweetest of all is the night and the rushing air.

In my dreams they are always waving their hands and saying goodbye,
And they give me the stirrup cup and I smile as I drink,   
I am glad the journey is set, I am glad I am going,
I am glad, I am glad, that my friends don't know what I think.

In My Dreams - Stevie Smith


Philip Larkin (1922-1985)

Philip Arthur Larkin was an English poet, novelist, and librarian. His many honours include the Queen's Gold Medal for Poetry. He was offered, but declined, the position of Poet Laureate in 1984, following the death of Sir John Betjeman.

After graduating from Oxford University in 1943 with a first in English Language and Literature, Larkin became a librarian. It was during the thirty years he worked with distinction as university librarian at the Brynmor Jones Library at the University of Hull that he produced the greater part of his published work. His poems are marked by what Andrew Motion calls "a very English, glum accuracy” about emotions, places, and relationships, and what Donald Davie described as "lowered sights and diminished expectations". Influenced by W. H. Auden, W. B. Yeats, and Thomas Hardy, his poems are highly structured but flexible verse forms. Larkin's public persona was that of the no-nonsense, solitary Englishman who disliked fame and had no patience for the trappings of the public literary life.

 In “Poetry of Departures” approves those people who had the courage to throw everything up in the air and leave.  He is deeply jealous of the person who made this move in his life and believes that everyone else must be too. To Larkin, it was “audacious” and “purifying.”

He tell us how distasteful he finds his own life and he is surrounded by a bunch of junk he doesn’t care about and wants to get rid of. As much as he might want to embark on the same kind of risky journey, he won’t. The fact that the speaker could abandon his life gives him comfort though. This helps him get through his days and remain focused on what he needs to do.


Poetry of Departures

Sometimes you hear, fifth-hand,
As epitaph:
He chucked up everything
And just cleared off,
And always the voice will sound
Certain you approve
This audacious, purifying,
Elemental move.

And they are right, I think.
We all hate home
And having to be there:
I detest my room,
It's specially-chosen junk,
The good books, the good bed,
And my life, in perfect order:
So to hear it said

He walked out on the whole crowd
Leaves me flushed and stirred,
Like Then she undid her dress
Or Take that you bastard;
Surely I can, if he did?
And that helps me to stay
Sober and industrious.
But I'd go today,

Yes, swagger the nut-strewn roads,
Crouch in the fo'c'sle
Stubbly with goodness, if 
It weren't so artificial,
Such a deliberate step backwards
To create an object:
Books; china; a life
Reprehensibly perfect.

Poetry Of Departures by Philip Larkin (read by Tom O'Bedlam)


JRR Tolkien (1892-1973)

I thought it fitting that I should end this Literary Journey with a poem by one of the great authors of magical journeys, JRR Tolkien. Many of us too have joined with Bilbo, Frodo and their company of trusted Hobbits on their adventures into Middle-Earth.

John Ronald Reuel Tolkien was a major scholar of the English language, specialising in Old and Middle English. Twice Professor of Anglo-Saxon (Old English) at the University of Oxford, he also wrote a number of stories, including most famously The Hobbit (1937) and The Lord of the Rings (1954–1955), which are set in a pre-historic era in an invented version of our world which he called by the Middle English name of Middle-earth. This was peopled by Men (and women), Elves, Dwarves, Trolls, Orcs (or Goblins) and of course Hobbits. He has often been condemned by the English Literary establishment, but loved by literally millions of readers worldwide.

Journey’s End is also known as ‘In the Western Lands’ and it features in the third book of the Lord of the Rings trilogy. It is sung by Sam Gamgee while he climbs the Tower of Cirith Ungol in search of his companion Frodo Baggins. The search appeared to be progressing in vain, and he starts to sink into a depression.

The first verse of the poem Tolkien describes a beautiful setting through the use of imagery and personification. He uses personification to make the scene come alive, for example “swaying branches” and “the merry finches sing.” However in the second stanza, there is a contrast in imagery, presumably as Sam sinks into a deep depression. He uses words such as “darkness” and “shadows” which are usually associated with fear and evil. In line nine, “Though here at journey’s end I lie, In darkness buried deep,” it gives us a sense that he is reflecting on life. “Beyond all towers strong and high, Beyond all mountains steep” words such as ‘high’ and ‘steep’ have negative connotations which may refer to the problems we face in life. In line fifteen, “I will not say the day is done” illustrates the poet’s enduring attitude towards life.


Journey’s End

In western lands beneath the Sun
The flowers may rise in Spring,
The trees may bud, the waters run,
The merry finches sing.
Or there maybe 'tis cloudless night,
And swaying branches bear
The Elven-stars as jewels white
Amid their branching hair.

Though here at journey's end I lie
In darkness buried deep,
Beyond all towers strong and high,
Beyond all mountains steep,
Above all shadows rides the Sun
And Stars for ever dwell:
I will not say the Day is done,
Nor bid the Stars farewell.

Journey's End - By J.R.R. Tolkien

Very Best Wishes to you all and please stay safe

John Wynn-Jones