Wednesday, April 16, 2008

The Sands Of Dee

The Sands of Dee
Charles Kingsley

"O Mary, go and call the cattle home,
And call the cattle home,
And call the cattle home
Across the sands of Dee";
The western wind was wild and dank with foam,
And all alone went she.

The western tide crept up along the sand,
And o'er and o'er the sand,
And round and round the sand,
As far as eye could see.
The rolling mist came down and hid the land:
And never home came she.

"Oh! is it weed, or fish, or floating hair--
A tress of golden hair,
A drowned maiden's hair
Above the nets at sea?
Was never salmon yet that shone so fair
Among the stakes on Dee."

They rowed her in across the rolling foam,
The cruel crawling foam,
The cruel hungry foam,
To her grave beside the sea:
But still the boatmen hear her call the cattle home
Across the sands of Dee.

I remember the first time i read this poem. I was in the 8th std. and was to represent my school for a poetry recital competition.My english teacher,knowing well my capabilities,asked me to look up a poem myself. I rushed to the school library and being the library teacher's pet,she enthusiastically gave up her errand at hand and looked up the best books of poems we had.She selected the choicest few and handed them to me. I poured myself into the books and set upon finding myself a poem that would make me stand out among the rest. I must have read about a 50 poems including a lot of William Wordsworth,John Keating, and the likes.And then i happened to read "Sands of Dee" by Charles Kingsley. I liked the poem for its uniqueness but mostly because it was by a poet not many 13 year olds would chose.and in that it suited my criteria of looking for something different.i showed the poem to my teacher who asked me to settle for something i could do justice to. she said this was a piece of work that had to be understood , the pain had to be felt, the melancholy ,the sadness would have to be delivered perfectly thru' the poem. But i was relentless. And she was a good teacher.Together we set upon perfecting the deliverence of this masterpiece. And deliver, i did. Right down to just that one tear that flowed from the corner of my eye at the right time! And the inter-school poetry recital trophy was ours! What jubiliations,what adulations and what praises were bestowed on me. It was unanimously declared that to give a rendition such that i had at the age that i was ,was indeed a masterpiece by itself. i felt like a queen that day as i held that trophy.Nothing else mattered.

But coming across this very poem now after about 24 years, i saw a whole new meaning into it.It touched me in a very different way. Now i understood what my teacher had meant when she told me to take up something else back then. The pain,the sadness,the soul-steering story was obviously not understood by me then. At that time, it was just a good performance by a girl who wanted to portray something different and make a mark. And today,the same poetry was read by a woman who had walked the walk of life,who had felt pain,who had been hurt,who had been sent out to call her cattle home. Or should i say who had been sent to meet the call of her destiny.......
.....and never home came she !


neha2go said...

If you read this post in one of the prose elocution would still win :) was a very personal incident that you were reminiscing and feeding to the keyboard...but the genius in it is that this is the kind of story that without fail gets people to become all nostalgic over their own school years...Its the kind of writing that demands attention by taking one into an emotional journey of their own in the past and that is why it is a winner. The proof of that is my overindulgence in narrating the entire of my school life to my friends in our daily e-mail sessions. You know where to verify that ROCK!!

Anonymous said...

I am a 7th grade student from a small state in India, also preparing the same poem for
the district poetry competition.I was attracted by the poem,just like you.But as I began learning it,I felt it was a difficult for me to express.But after reading this,I feel like I can do it.I just needed a good boost and your blog was just what I wanted.Thanks awfully.You are the best.

Anonymous said...

iam reading this presently in class 6

Anonymous said...

This poem was the very first poem that I ever recited in school or anywhere for a competition. I was in second grade and my aunt had helped me prepare. I still remember, back then all I knew about the poem was that a pretty girl drowned and that people can still hear her call the cattle home. I quite forgot it until a week ago when I helped my own teacher's daughter prepare this same poem for her recitation competition in the same school I studied in. And when I read this poem the first time in a lot of years, it just felt right. The intense emotions it conveys, the ending note...its all very strong and I am glad to see someone write about it.
I liked your blog quite a lot.