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Featured Poem: Moonlit Apples by John Drinkwater

Written by The Reader, 17th October 2016

This week's Featured Poem comes from English poet and playwright John Drinkwater.

Born in Leytonstone, London, on June 1 1882, John Drinkwater was the son of a schoolmaster. He left school at 15 and worked as an insurance clerk but found the role uninteresting and turned to literature. He was part of a group of poets in Dymock, a village in Gloucestershire that also included Rupert Brooke and Robert Frost.

He published his first collection was published in 1903 when Drinkwater was just 21.

Drinkwater was also a playwright, finding his first major success in 1918 with a play entitled Abraham Lincoln which was later adapted for a two-reel short film by Lee DeForest and J Searle Dawley. He also wrote plays about Mary Stuart and Oliver Cromwell.

john_drinkwater_readingHe was a founding member of the Pilgrim Players and became the first manager of the Birmingham Repertory Theatre.

He also became a literary critic and wrote stories for children, but his greatest success was as a playwright.

Drinkwater died in London in 1937 and was buried in Piddington, Oxfordshire, where he had spent summer holidays as a child. A road and housing development in the area have since been named after the poet and playwright.


Moonlit Apples

At the top of the house the apples are laid in rows,

And the skylight lets the moonlit in, and those

Apples are deep-sea apples of green. There goes

A cloud on the moon in the autumn night.


A mouse in the wainscot scratches, and scratches, and then

There is no sound at the top of the house of men

Or mice; and the cloud is blown, and the moon again

Dapples the apples with deep-sea light.


They are lying in rows there, under the gloomy beams;

On the sagging floor; they gather the silver streams

Out of the moon, those moonlit apples of dreams,

And quiet is the steep stair under.


In the corridors under there is nothing but sleep.

And stiller than ever on orchard boughs they keep

Tryst with the moon, and deep is the silence, deep

On moon-washed apples of wonder.


John Drinkwater


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