Emmanuel George Cefai

(12th March 1955 / Victoria, Gozo)

O Let Me Tell You,

‘O let me tell you, ’
Said the old white beard
And he sighed
And he groaned
Then continuing said
‘when yonder buildings
Were just a green field’

‘I knew them in my youth
I knew them in boyhood
And in my old age
I only view the stones and
Bury the view that once I
Sat upon’

‘Yon, yon there was an oak
Old oak with boughs
And branches furnished all
For housing of wise owls
Aged and younger nightingales
Who sang all seasons
maturely in the

‘How many glimpses of
White come and go
saw I as in the dark of night
the ghosts and shrouds
played round the oak:
fearless the friendly owls
continued still and fearless
sang all night the nightingales’

‘’But ah! times change
As the Latin assert:
O times! O customs!
Before more in the eyes
Of the owners as a field
A pride of land it was
But then came times
When sound of coins
Dross papers and dross
Wealth the brain and will
That was before blinded’

‘No longer the tree that
majestic loomed; no longer
friendly round played
ghosts and shrouds
and in full sight of
all the other trees.
No longer now.
The owls have aged and
Gone their young ones
Flew and the same fate
Followed the nightingales’

‘Now only the winds neighs
And this
On wintry days of hoar
Mostly and generally:
Its sad heart emptying
And this sad tale
In its rough language telling.
Now only the wind,
Now only the wind neighs’

Submitted: Tuesday, January 21, 2014
Edited: Wednesday, January 22, 2014

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  • Freshman - 1,424 Points Daniel Brick (6/13/2014 2:25:00 PM)

    This is a classic poem that laments the changes in the world starkly visible in one person's lifetime. And I mean classic in the sense of poetry written in the nineteenth century which could still remember the pastoral tradition of poetry even as that landscape was destroyed to make room for urban and industrial growth and sprawl. I like the way you highlight certain natural things to measure the loss - owls, nightingales, oak trees, and (surprisingly) ghosts. This poem reminds me of Matthew Arnold's SCHOLAR GYPSY, a beautiful lament from the same deep heart-felt source as your poem. Both poems speak in measured tones of the loss of landscape and the wounding of the soul of things. (Report) Reply

  • Freshman - 1,135 Points Valerie Dohren (1/21/2014 12:14:00 PM)

    So sad that our natural environment is being replaced with concrete. Well said Emmanuel, and well written. (Report) Reply

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