William Ernest Henley Poems

Poems » william ernest henley

William Ernest Henley
William Ernest Henley (August 23, 1849 July 11, 1903) was an English poet, critic and editor. Henley was born at Gloucester and educated at the Crypt Grammar School. The school was a poor relation of the Cathedral School, and Henley indicated its shortcomings in his article, Pall Mall Magazine (Nov. 1900), on T. E. Brown, the poet who was headmaster there for a brief period. Brown's appointment was a stroke of luck for Henley, for whom it represented a first acquaintance with a man of genius: "He was singularly kind to me at a moment when I needed kindness even more than I needed encouragement". Brown did him the essential service of lending him books. Henley was no classical scholar, but his knowledge and love of literature were vital. At the age of 12 Henley became a victim of tuberculosis of the bone. In spite of his affliction, in 1867 he successfully passed the Oxford local examination as a senior student. But a hospital was to be Henley's university. His diseased foot, treated by crude methods, had to be amputated directly below the knee. Worse yet, physicians announced that the only way to save his life was to amputate the other also. Henley fought this prognosis with all his spirit. The radical surgical methods pioneered by Joseph Lister saved Henley's foot and indeed his life. He was discharged from hospital in 1875 and was able to lead an active life for nearly 30 years. His friend, Robert Louis Stephenson, based his Treasure Island character, Long John Silver, on Henley.[citation needed] His literary connections also led to his sickly young daughter Margaret being immortalised by J.M. Barrie in his children's classic "Peter Pan."[citation needed] Unable to speak clearly, the young Margaret referred to Barrie as her "Friendy Wendy", leading to the introduction of the name Wendy. Alas, Margaret never read the book as she died at the age of 6 and was buried at the country estate of her father's friend, Harry Cockayne Cust, in Cockayne Hatley, Bedfordshire.

beatrix is three
 
 
At the top of the stairs
I as for her hand. O.K.
She gives it to me.
How her fist fit... [read poem]
ancestors
 
 
We had an island.
Oh we were a stomping old tribe on an island.
Red faces, hairy bodies.... [read poem]
watch your step - i'm drenched
 
 
In Manchester there are a thousand puddles.
Bus-queue puddles poised on slanting paving stones,... [read poem]
to whom it may concern
 
 
I was run over by the truth one day.
Ever since the accident I've walked this way
So s... [read poem]
ballade of dead actors
 
 
Where are the passions they essayed,
And where the tears they made to flow?
Where the wild... [read poem]
ten ways to avoid lending your wheelbarrow to anybody
 
 
1 PATRIOTIC

May I borrow your wheelbarrow?
I didn't lay down my life in World War II... [read poem]
nostalgia - now threepence off
 
 
Where are they now, the heroes of furry-paged books and comics
brighter than life which packed ... [read poem]
barmaid
 
 
Though, if you ask her name, she says Elise,
Being plain Elizabeth, e'en let it pass,
And ... [read poem]
jimmy giuffre plays 'the easy way'
 
 
A man plodding through blue-grass fields.
He's here to decide whether the grass needs mowing.... [read poem]
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