Poem: ‘Hail Deth’

Hail Deth, that from alle Natur’s birth
Hast kept each living thing thy thrall!
Teech me to love thy quiet call,
To rest
Among the blest,
To be at peace with every thing on earth.

Come soft, without impediment;
Let mee slide sleeping to thy armes,
Discover alle thy soothing charmes;
And kill
My every ill,
Leave mee uninterrupted sediment.

This is one of my very earliest poems, with the form, theme and erratic spelling all obviously influenced by studying the Metaphysical Poets in school. I’ve always been fascinated by death–at least since the time I gave up Christianity, thanks to my excellent Church of England schooling. The poem was written tongue-in-cheek, of course: I’m in no hurry to die.

‘Hail Deth’ has just been published in the Shot Glass Journal which, in accordance with Shakespeare’s “brevity is the soul of wit”, publishes both formal and free verse so long as a poem doesn’t exceed 16 lines. It also divides contributions into American and International groups and lists them separately, which is interesting if not necessarily useful in any functional sense.

Photo: “NS-01023 – Death Head” by archer10 (Dennis) is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

12 thoughts on “Poem: ‘Hail Deth’

  1. Joe

    Ha! Very enjoyable. I liked “slide sleeping to thy armes”. And the last line when the tongue explodes through the cheek!

    Liked by 1 person

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  2. Michael Burch

    I would have been happy to publish the poem with the explanatory note. In fact, why not email it to me — it’s never too late with The HyperTexts.

    How old were you when you wrote the poem? I wrote some eclectic Cummings-ish poems around age 15, after discovering his poems in a high school textbook. This is one that was published in my high school literary journal:

    hymn to Apollo
    by Michael R. Burch

    something of sunshine attracted my i
    as it lazed on the afternoon sky,
    golden,
    splashed on the easel of god …

    what,
    i thought,
    could this elfin stuff be,
    to, phantomlike,
    flit
    tall
    through trees
    on days, such as these?
    fall

    and the breeze
    whispered a dirge
    to the vanishing light;
    enchoired with the evening, it sang;
    its voice
    enchantedly
    rang
    chanting “Night!” …

    till all the bright light
    retired,
    expired.

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    1. Robin Helweg-Larsen Post author

      You hymn to Apollo is an excellent schoolboy poem, very Burch – i.e. less Churchillian than Churchill’s ‘The Influenza’, less Reaganesque than Reagan’s ‘Life’, pure Burch. I guess we are now who we were then, in many ways!

      We also had Cummings at school in England – I remember “next to of course god america i” and “nobody loses all the time” specifically, but I guess there were more. It never inspired me to imitate him though, or to try anything heading into concrete poetry. Well, I did write one where the indentation by rhyme wove back and forth to imitate the DNA spiral that the poem was about. That was when I was 17. It has only been published in India. I should probably blog it on Wednesday.

      As for ‘Hail Deth’, I’m happy you like it – I’ll email it and the notes to you, feel free to edit them down as you like, if you want them.

      Liked by 1 person

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      1. Michael Burch

        I have the email, thanks.

        I read Cummings widely in my early teens. Many of his poems were close to traditional sonnets, and quite musical, except for his eccentric syntax. For instance, “all in green went my love riding” and “the Cambridge ladies.”

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      2. Michael Burch

        A good way to read poets like Cummings is to do a google search for something like “e. e. cummings best poems” and see which poems his admirers like best. I know a poet who studied under Cummings and he said Cummings was in love with his “gizmos.” That may explain poems that don’t always seem up to his abilities. But his best poems are very good, in my opinion, and I have him in the highest ranks of American poets in my personal canon.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Robin Helweg-Larsen Post author

        I am always intrigued by the discrepancies between what the creator most values and what their readers most value. Cervantes seeking fame as a playwright, turning out the Quijote almost on a satirical whim, and then being forced to write Part 2 against his preferences. Conan Doyle trying to kill off Sherlock Holmes so that he could concentrate on (to him) more important fiction, but forced to revive the detective. Often the creator prefers something obscure, experimental, esoteric… but the public wants the (relatively) easier pieces.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Michael Burch

    The eclectic formatting didn’t come through, alas! It should be “flit through TALL trees / on FALL days such as these” with the TALL being above its line and the FALL being below its line.

    In any case, it was a bit off the beaten path.

    Liked by 1 person

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