A poem to read in the bath… ‘Sometimes and After’

I am making a point of reading poets I am unfamiliar with, and wanted to share this poem by American poet Hilda Doolittle.

Hilda Doolittle

[photo: Wikipedia]

‘Sometimes and After’
Yet sometimes I would sweep the floor,
I would put daises in a tumbler,
I would have long dreams before, long day-dreams after;

 
there would be no gauntleted knock on the door,
or tap-tap with a riding crop,
no galloping here and back;

 
but the latch would softly lift,
would softly fall,
dusk would come slowly,

 
and even dusk could wait
till night encompassed us;
dawn would come gracious, not too soon,

 
day would come late,
and the next day and the next,
while I found pansies to take the place of daisies,

 
and a spray of apple-blossom after that,
no calendar of fevered hours,
Carthago delenda est and the Tyrian night.

Doolitte died in 1961. I love the transitory passing of time in this poem. And no, I didn’t understand the last line. Google Translate tells me ‘Carthago delenda est’ means ‘Carthage is destroyed’ in Latin, which I didn’t study at school. ‘Tyrian night’ still mystifies me, can anyone else help?

For more about Hilda Doolittle at the Poetry Foundation website, click here.

Hilda Doolittle

 

Collected Poems’ by Hilda Doolittle [New Directions] 

Read these other excerpts and find a new poet to love:-
‘The Road Not Taken’ by Robert Frost
‘Digging’ by Seamus Heaney
‘The Cinnamon Peeler’ by Michael Ondaatje

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
A #poem to read in the bath: ‘Sometimes and After’ by Hilda Doolittle http://wp.me/p5gEM4-1yt via @SandraDanby

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Comments

  1. Tyrain seems to refer to a crimson or purple dye, which I assume is something like cochineal. Carthage was destroyed by fire in the third Punic War sometime between 149 and 148 BC, so the night sky would have been tinged red by flames. Being a poem, I suspect an image of blood was also intended.

  2. Perhaps the city of Tyre, which Alexander razed. Or perhaps the purplish color, for which the city was renowned way back when? I recently purchased two H.D. books, and am looking forward to spending time with them. 🙂