October 3, 2008

on silence and tears

Posted in Love and Relationships, Poetry at 6:31 pm by meldee

Stwilight trolls.

Canon EOS Kiss, Arab Street, Singapore.


Last night after the strangest combination of Mama Mia! and A Love Song for Bobby Long (with John Travolta and Scarlett Johanssen) I fell asleep with the strangest thing in mind.

Perhaps not so strange, given how in A Love Song John Travolta’s character Bobby Long, a fallen-from-grace English professor keeps spouting random sayings from literary greats, and my (former) great love for curling up in bed with a fat book of romantic poetry and commit the ones I found most beautiful to memory.

I fell asleep with Lord Byron’s poem When We Two Parted on my mind.

An incredibly sad, poignant poem that seemed to echo my feelings completely through a previous breakup. Doesn’t help that I’m a bit of a sucker for Lord Byron’s poetry. I think I might look for a volume of poetry tonight and have that as my bedtime treat.

Ennio Morricone’s Cinema Paradiso piano solo isn’t helping my current mood (stressed, frustrated, upset, moody) very much either.


When We Two Parted – Lord Byron

When we two parted
In silence and tears,
Half broken-hearted,
To sever for years,
Pale grew thy cheek and cold,
Colder thy kiss;
Truly that hour foretold
Sorrow to this.

The dew of the morning
Sank chill on my brow
It felt like the warning
Of what I feel now.
Thy vows are all broken,
And light is thy fame:
I hear thy name spoken,
And share in its shame.

They name thee before me,
A knell to mine ear;
A shudder comes o’er me
Why wert thou so dear?
They know not I knew thee,
Who knew thee too well:
Long, long shall I rue thee
Too deeply to tell.

In secret we met
In silence I grieve
That thy heart could forget,
Thy spirit deceive.
If I should meet thee
After long years,
How should I greet thee?
With silence and tears.





  1. Shazeea said,

    A friend of mine posted “When we two parted” on FB not too long ago. We did literature together in secondary school and did this poem. It was our favourite.

  2. Dahlia said,

    Hey Mel,

    Wahh, been ages since I read your blog! Anyway, I noticed you posted up this poem, I studied it when I was sitting for my English Literature O-Level paper, and did you know that the last line (actually, word) of the poem is, more often that not, incorrectly printed? Instead of “tears”, it should be “tear”; this signifies controlled emotion (it’s also interesting to note here that Lord Byron could be quite a love rat). It was a very deliberate interruption of the poem’s ABABCDCD pattern.

    I even found my O-Level anthology online: http://www.edexcel-international.org/VirtualContent/49197/English_Literature_anthology.pdf.

    Happy reading!


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