A Couple of Favorites

Jenny Kiss’d Me

Jenny kiss’d me when we met,
Jumping from the chair she sat in;
Time, you thief, who love to get
Sweets into your list, put that in!
Say I’m weary, say I’m sad,
Say that health and wealth have miss’d me,
Say I’m growing old, but add,
Jenny kissed me!

—Leigh Hunt (1784–1859)

Hunt wasn’t greatly known as a British Romantic poet. He wasn’t as proliferate as the others, and didn’t perhaps have as much of a spark in general. Then again, he introduced Keats to Shelley, helping both their careers, and his essays were fairly respected.

Part of my love for this particular poem is due, no doubt, to the fact that my spouse’s name is Jenny.



Moonlight

It will not hurt me when I am old.
A running tide where moonlight burned
will not sting me like silver snakes.
The years will leave me sad and cold;
it is the happy heart that breaks.

The heart asks more than life can give.

When that is learned, then all is learned.
The waves break fold on jeweled fold,
but beauty itself is fugitive.
It will not hurt me when I am old.

—Sara Teasdale (1884-1933)

What can be said about the beautifully painful message of this poem? I could add nothing. But the structure is equally fascinating: the reflection of first and last lines; the single rhyme of “burned” and “learned” that tie the two stanzas together like an oyster shell containing a pearl.

I might only comment:
“inside every pearl / lies buried / an oyster’s torment.”

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