…don’t worry, I haven’t written one. I had to write a journal entry in my English class about my favorite book, short story or poem; an easy assignment because of all the ones I love, I immediately knew which one I wanted to write about.

My favorite poem is The Barrel-Organ by Alfred Noyes. I first came across this poem in an English Lit textbook I bought at a garage sale (I snap up any old literature textbook I come across). It was written in 1958 and it is long – 135 lines. Its length is why I can never convince anybody else to read it. A poem that long requires a certain amount of commitment, even to a poetry lover. The first few lines, though, reveal an irresistible rhythm that pulls you through the rest of it. It’s easily the most musical poem I’ve ever read; it has an unusual rhyme scheme and the tempo changes several times when the focus shifts.

There’s a barrel-organ carolling across a golden street

In the City as the sun sinks low;

And the music’s not immortal; but the world has made it sweet

And fulfilled it with the sunset glow;

And it pulses through the pleasures of the City and the pain

That surround the singing organ like a large eternal light;

And they’ve given it a glory and a part to play again

In the Symphony that rules the day and night.

The poem is set in London and describes the inner lives of people on the street within hearing distance f the organ. It speaks of the influence of music on humans. It illustrates the timelessness and necessity of music – how it shapes our actions and then sings of them after they’re done. It bears witness to all of humanity’s triumphs and follies. It cheers us, comforts us, rocks us to sleep and jolts us awake. The Barrel-Organ is glittering, gritty and beautiful, just like the city in which it is set.

This thing makes me so happy that if I had the brain space to devote to it, I’d spend my life trying to memorize it. I absolutely adore it.

Take the epic-poem challenge. Read the bitch. If you like poetry even a little, you won’t regret it. http://www.bartleby.com/103/117.html


About slightlyirritable

On the outside, I'm your average, middle-aged, dumpy Southern woman with limp hair and a bad wardrobe. But on the inside! Ah, on the inside I'm an average, middle-aged, dumpy Southern woman who likes to write and draw. I'm Walter Mitty in yoga pants. Inside my head, I'm Tamara de Lempicka, William Faulkner, Ella Fitzgerald and the Wright boys - Wilbur, Orville and Frank Lloyd. (And all of my personalities are snappy dressers.) View all posts by slightlyirritable

4 responses to “Poem

  • fanaticalhypocrite

    Hey, long time, no see! Got a surprise email notification of your new post, so I meandered on over 🙂 Absolutely loved the poem! Saved that for my collection. I love poetry, though I’m far from knowledgeable on the subject.

    Personally, my favorite poem is Matthew Arnold’s the Buried Life:

    I especially love that second stanza.

    Hope all is well!

  • slightlyirritable

    Hey! I’ve been out of the transcription game for about a year, but I haven’t forgotten about you and the hilarious, thought-provoking conversations we always had.

    I love that you liked the poem! I’m so happy to have turned you onto it; I figured nobody would ever get past its length 😀

    Hope you’re doing okay as well.

    • slightlyirritable

      And the poem! I read and reread the second stanza and started to copy it to say, “this! I love this!” before remembering it’s the one that you had already pointed out its beauty. It is still so relevant.

  • fanaticalhypocrite

    Whoops, got really busy and forgot to check back in until I read the poem again. That’s awesome that you got out of transcription! Me too. I work as a receptionist in a doctor’s office. Absolutely love the work! Amazing co-workers too. Yes, we had some good times between MTStars and WordPress.

    I don’t just enjoy my own long-windedness, haha, so the length of a poem is rarely a deterrent. I’m glad you liked the Matthew Arnold poem too. He wrote some beautiful ones, though that’s definitely still my favorite and one of the few of his that isn’t also super depressing, though along with my inner child I also still seem have an inner emo teenager LOL.

    Wishing you and your family all the best and hope you had a great summer.

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