All Night Under the Moon

Last post, I said that we would be posting on a poet who could show the lover of Conversation Galante a thing or too about how to melt a woman’s heart. In fact, I thought about posting on Byron’s last poem, ‘Love and Death’, before realising that it wasn’t really any kind of wooing poem at all. The clue was in the title I suppose. So, not for the first time, I have fallen back on the Georgian poets. This week’s poem is quite simply a lovely little lyric to celebrate the lovely month of June, and I’ve no doubt it could melt a heart or two as well.

I first came across this poem as the lyrics to a song, by Ivor Gurney no less, and I thought that he had written the words too. But it is actually by another English poet, Wilfred Gibson, who, like Gurney, found fame as a First World War poet, but survived the war and wrote poetry about as peaceful as you could imagine:

All Night under the Moon

All night under the moon
Plovers are flying
Over the dreaming meadows
of silvery light,
Over the meadows of June
Calling and crying
Wandering voices of love
in the hush of the night.

All night under the moon
Love, though we’re lying
Quietly under the thatch,
in the dreaming light
Over the meadows of June
Together we’re flying
Wandering voices of love
in the hush of the night.

Wilfred Gibson

Gibson, like myself, was born within spitting distance of the Tyne, although in his case somewhat to the west, in Hexham a medium-sized, very old town in rural Northumberland. Long ago, Hexhamshire was a county of its own. And it does have a feeling of its own – where English rolling hills and wooded dells meet the windswept fells and moors of the North Pennines.

I would wager that landscape helped inspire this poem. Some of the moors just west of Hexham are chock-full of lapwing (a kind of plover too, you know), and once, while by Derwent Reservoir just to the south, I saw a flock of golden plover wheeling overhead towards the sunset.

The poem’s imagery, focusing on these plovers over their dreaming night meadows, repeats and varies subtly across the two stanzas. In the first, it is the plovers who are flying, but in the second, the poet and his lover, though lying ‘under the thatch’ are transported into the birds’ place, or so he assures her.

And that, Mr conversational gallant, is how you enjoy a nice view with a lady friend!



Filed under Literature, Poetry

9 responses to “All Night Under the Moon

  1. Well, I had not heard of Wilfred Gibson before……and I’m still in recovery from listening to that soprano on YouTube. As always, you have enlightened and presented food for thought. 🙂

  2. Do you know I’m not so sure about this one? On first reading it is touching and the language is fresh. But would the plovers really fly all night? And isn’t it cheating to say that the meadows are dreaming or that the bird song is about love? The poem is ok but it would have more force if the comparison were more accurate.
    Or do you think I’m being too harsh?
    Of course none of this detracts from my interest in reading the poem and thinking about your take on it. Thank you for the post.

  3. Now you mention it, John, I’m not so whether plovers do fly at night… or anyway, whether they make a lot of noise when they do. I wonder if he wasn’t thinking of oystercatchers, who really do make a lot of noise at night (even over meadows, despite their name). Not particularly pleasant noise, though. Hmmm…
    As for the poetry, well the imagery is a bit loose, as you say. But I still find it enchanting. Maybe I’m biased because of that pretty song (and by geography).
    Glad you enjoyed the music too, Cynthia. I had in mind to post occasionally on poems that were turned into songs by early 20th century composers Gurney, Warlock and Butterworth, but I don’t think any can quite top that one.

  4. Thanks for responding. Certainly there is charm in these lines, and they have been interesting to think about.

  5. No no – I appreciate your comments… I was still thinking about those plovers on the way home from work today: do they fly at night, after all? Maybe when they are migrating… but what bird would migrate in June?

  6. What bird would migrate in June?
    a brrrrrd…..
    who preferred
    the cold weather!

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