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James Elroy Flecker was a prolific English poet. Dying at the age of thirty from tuberculosis, Flecker's death was described at the time as "unquestionably the greatest premature loss that English literature has suffered since the death of Keats." What an epitaph!
Flecker's poem "To a Poet a Thousand Years Hence" has five stanzas with each verse following the rhyme scheme of abab. The narration is in first person with the poet himself as the narrator. The tone is positive and emotionally representative of the time in which the poet wrote. It also speaks to the melancholy attitude of the poet as he approaches his death.
In the poem, the narrator speaks to another poet who lives a thousand years in the future. He explains who he is by acknowledging his death and the poem's antiquity. The poem's purpose is to serve as a communication between the poet's generation and a future writer. As the poet looks ahead, he does not concern himself with the architecture or bridges made from steel or brick a thousand years hence; but rather he wonders if the aesthetic aspects of life have endured:
But have you wine and music still,
And statues and a bright-eye love...
The poets wonders if man still prays or has foolish thoughts about insignificant things. Using an alternative name for Homer, he wonders if the blind poet who lived over three thousand years ago is still studied and read. Calling the future poet his friend, the narrator hopes that he still uses the English language that he loves. Then, Flecker explains that he is himself a young poet who sadly will never know the unborn writer; therefore, he sends his heart to him through the words of this poem greeting him from the past. He feels as though they are comrade spirits.
This poem is lovely in it theme which expresses the poet's aspirations for future writers. He extends his hand to them hoping that they will concern themselves with some things that his generation found important. It seems necessary to the poet thatin the thousand years ahead his poetry is read.
I send my soul through time and space
to you to greet you. You will understand.
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