This blog is for everyone who uses words.

The ordinary-sized words are for everyone, but the big ones are especially for children.

Saturday, 17 September 2016

Saturday Rave: In The Room, by James Thomson.

Of course there are fashions in poetry as in clothes, but just because a dress, for instance, would look outlandish leaning over a supermarket freezer:


it doesn't mean we can't get a lot of pleasure from it.

James Thomson BV* was born in Scotland in 1834 and brought up in an orphanage in London. He was a soldier for a time, and then a clerk, but by his mid-thirties he was struggling with the triple difficulties of insomnia, alcoholism and depression. He died in 1882 at the age of forty seven.

In The Room by James Thomson is astonishing. It reminds me a little of Van Gogh's painting because it's full of the feeling that everything in the whole world is alive and full of force and might suddenly get up and do absolutely anything. It makes me wonder if Thomson, poor man, suffered from other mental illnesses as well as depression.

Here's the last stanza, but it's worth reading the whole thing because, although it's a bit sentimental in places, it has a good story told in an extraordinary way.

And while the black night nothing saw,
And till the cold morn came at last,
That old bed held the room in awe
With tales of its experience vast.
It thrill'd the gloom; it told such tales
Of human sorrows and delights,
Of fever moans and infants wails,
Of births and deaths and bridal nights.

Word To Use Today: bed. This word has hardly changed in English in over a thousand years. Its Old English form was bedd.

*BV after a name usually stands for Blessed Virgin. Unfortunately I have no information as far as Thomson is concerned about either of these qualities, but in his case BV stands for Bysshe Vanolis, the pseudonym under which he wrote his poetry. (There was a much more famous Scottish poet called James Thomson who lived in the century before this one.)

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