Today I have been happy. All the day
I held the memory of you, and wove
Its laughter with the dancing light o’ the spray,
And sowed the sky with tiny clouds of love,
And sent you following the white waves of sea,
And crowned your head with fancies, nothing worth,
Stray buds from that old dust of misery,
Being glad with a new foolish quiet mirth.
So lightly I played with those dark memories,
Just as a child, beneath the summer skies,
Plays hour by hour with a strange shining stone,
For which (he knows not) towns were fire of old,
And love has been betrayed, and murder done,
And great kings turned to a little bitter mould.
Rupert Brooke, October 1913
Sonnets are a powerful verse form, aren’t they? You read the first eight lines, and are lulled into a false sense of security, happiness and lightness of touch. Only the phrase ‘that old dust of misery’ hints at the change of mood in the second half of the poem.