Friday, October 3, 2014

The Living Dead

Honouring our poetic ancestors

The Sun Was Slumbering in the West
By Thomas Hood (1799-1845)

The sun was slumbering in the West,
My daily labors past;
On Anna's soft and gentle breast
My head reclined at last;
The darkness closed around, so dear
To fond congenial souls,
And thus she murmur'd at my ear,
"My love, we're out of coals!

"That Mister Bond has call'd again,
Insisting on his rent;
And all the Todds are coming up
To see us, out of Kent —
I quite forgot to tell you John
Has had a tipsy fall —
I'm sure there's something going on
With that vile Mary Hall!

"Miss Bell has bought the sweetest silk,
And I have bought the rest —
Of course, if we go out of town,
Southend will be the best.
I really think the Jones's house
Would be the thing for us;
I think I told you Mrs. Pope
Had parted with her hus —

"Cook, by the way, came up today,
To bid me suit myself —
And what d'ye think? The rats have gnaw'd
The victuals on the shelf,
And, lord! there's such a letter come,
Inviting you to fight!
Of course you don't intend to go —
God bless you, dear, good night!" 

I trust that raised a grin (and perhaps a grimace). Though it was written so long ago, the humour of this piece is timeless and the talkative wife completely alive.

Londoner Thomas Hood was and is known as a humorist, but that's not the only kind of poetry he wrote. He also wrote poems on social injustice, such as "The Song of the Shirt" and serious, sentimental pieces like "I Remember, I Remember (the house where I was born)" both of which are still famous. They too are in direct, clear language that might almost have been written today.

Reading the Wikipedia entry about him (see link on his name, above), I get the impression of a thoroughly good and decent man, albeit something of a practical joker. It's sad that his health was poor and he died so young. Yet during his short life he made many good friends, seems to have been a happy family man, worked both as an engraver and the producer of successful literary magazines, and his poetry was esteemed by the leading literary lights of his day.

Furthermore, his poetry is still being read. His poems are at PoemHunter and several editions of his work are available on Amazon.

PS Apologies that this post appears a little later in the day than usual.  I lost internet access for a few crucial hours. (A server issue.) I'd better start scheduling my posts ahead of time more often!


  1. Great pick, Rosemary. I enjoyed the humor in this, and especially love I Remember, I poignant and beautiful. Sigh. Nice to read on a Friday. Happy weekend, my friend. And thanks for all you do.

  2. I enjoyed this. Glad to read things I'm not familiar with. Thanks for your research and sharing.

  3. Oh, this made me smile, Rosemary. Loved your choice. Thomas Hood is a poet I had not heard of, so I was happy to have your introduction.

    1. I was familiar with the two poems I've linked to in my post, but this little satirical gem was new to me too.

  4. Humor with a bite! Thanks for introducing me to this poet.

  5. Thanks for introducing to the poet and humorist the lines :)

  6. This is a delight to read. As you say, timeless and so relevant to our lives. I hadn't known of Mr. Hood before. Thanks for posting.

  7. Thanks Rosemary, it 's nice reading, made me smile. This poem reminded the famous poem-song translated from French to Russian. Please take look, here are English subtitles. Enjoy!

  8. yes, Rosemary, the poem brought a big smile to my face. :)
    thanks for sharing!


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