Poetry, VOLUME 5

Robert Chambers – The Nook [Poem]


Robert Chambers

Iste terraram mini preter omntj Angulus ridet –Horace

Written during a visit at the Nook, near Airth, Stirlingshire

One thing seems agreed on in speech and in book,
That, if comfort exists, ‘twill be found in a nook ;
All seems dreary and cold in an open area,
But a corner – how charming the very idea!
Hence, when, weary with toiling, we think of retreat ,
A nook is the spot that we ask for our seat –

Some small piece of earth, ‘tis no matter how small,
But a corner it must be, or nothing at all.
The poor man an object of kindred desire
Regards, in the nook of his bright evening fire,
Where, his labours all done, he may sit at his ease,
With his wee things devoutly caressing his knees ,
And where, I would know, to what promising shade,
Runs the kiss threatened, bashful, yet half-willing maid?
To some nook, to be sure, to some hidden recess,
Where her lover his fondness is free to confess.
Even less might have been the delight of Jack Horner,
Had his plums been enjoyed anywhere but a corner!


Since thus open pleasures are viler than tangle,
And true ones, like trout, must be caught by the angle,
Perfect joy, it seems clear, must by hook or by crook,
Be obtained in a place called, par excellence, Nook .
The Nook!  how endearing and pleasant the word –
As bieldy and warm as the nest of a bird!
Sure a place so designed must know little of care,
And summer must linger eternally there;
No resting-place, surely, for sorrow or sin,
But all blossom without and all pleasure within :
There children must sport, all unknowing of pain,
And old folk, looking on, become children again.
Sad Poortith will pass it ungrudgingly by,
And Wealth only cast a solicitous eye.
‘Twere surely fit scene for a Goddess’ descent –
The goddess long lost to us – holy Content.


Such thoughts it is easy to string up together ;
But reason might smash them perhaps with a feather ,
And things might be in such a concatenation,
That the Nook might become quite a scene of vexation.
Yet of this, as it happens there’s no chance or little,
Unless, like the small pox, vexation turns smittle;
For here lives good _________, the blythest and best,
Who is happy himself and makes happy the rest,
Whose temper is such, as he proves by his look,
That joy would be with him, even not in a nook ;
Who has wit for all topics, and worth with it all,
And while mirth is in presence, keeps Sense within call.
To the Nook, why a man such as this is as pat,
As the foot to the shoe, or the head to the hat;
And so well do they answer to each other’s quality,
So mixed is the man with his pleasant locality,
That a question it seems, and I cannot decide it,
Whether he or the Nook gives the most of the “ridet.”


October 1834

C. Christopher Smith is the founding editor of The Englewood Review of Books. He is also author of a number of books, including most recently How the Body of Christ Talks: Recovering the Practice of Conversation in the Church (Brazos Press, 2019). Connect with him online at: C-Christopher-Smith.com

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