Featured Poem: From The Lover’s Journey by George Crabbe

This week’s Featured Poem is an extract from a poem by George Crabbe, a poet, surgeon and clergyman well known for his realistic narrative and descriptions of working life and people.

One of our project workers recently read this extract at a shared reading session in a drug detox centre, with some incredible responses emerging:

“People in the group seemed to feel quite empowered by the poem. I think this sense of empowerment had something to do with the capacity for change allowed in the poem – even in the darkest lines when ‘absorbed by their peculiar cares,/ The vacant eye on viewless matter glares’, there was a sense for the group both of recognition ‘I know what that feels like’ but also the knowledge that you might be able to change what you see around you by shifting your perspective on the inside. Something about being self-aware of how your inside affects the external rather than experiencing world as feeling the external is impacting on you. ‘It’s like if there’s a sunset outside. You might be so caught up with what’s going on in here [the detox centre] – like if someone’s taken the butter out the fridge and not put it back – that you don’t see the sunset because you’re too busy saying ‘where’s the butter?’ – but the sunset’s still there – it’s just that you don’t see it.’ ”

from The Lover’s Journey

It is the soul that sees; the outward eyes
Present the object, but the mind descries;
And thence delight, disgust, or cool indiff’rence rise:
When minds are joyful, then we look around,
And what is seen is all on fairy ground;
Again they sicken, and on every view
Cast their own dull and melancholy hue;
Or, if absorb’d by their peculiar cares,
The vacant eye on viewless matter glares,
Our feelings still upon our views attend,
And their own natures to the objects lend;
Sorrow and joy are in their influence sure,
Long as the passion reigns th’ effects endure;
But love in minds his various changes makes,
And clothes each object with the change he takes;
His light and shade on every view he throws,
And on each object, what he feels, bestows.

George Crabbe

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