'Forever' by Charles Stuart Calverley

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"Forever": 'tis a single word!
Our rude forefathers deemed it two:
Can you imagine so absurd
A view?

"Forever"! What abysms of woe
The word reveals, what frenzy, what
Despair! "For ever" (printed so)
Did not.

It looks, ah me! how trite and tame!
It fails to sadden or appal
Or solace--it is not the same
At all.

O thou to whom it first occurred
To solder the disjoined, and dower
The native language with a word
Of power:

We bless thee! Whether far or near
Thy dwelling, whether dark or fair
Thy kingly brow, is neither here
Nor there.

But in men's hearts shall be thy throne,
While the great pulse of England beats.
Thou coiner of a word unknown
To Keats!

And nevermore must printer do
As men did long ago; but run
"For" into "ever," bidding two
Be one.

"Forever"! passion-fraught, it throws
O'er the dim page a gloom, a glamour:
It's sweet, it's strange; and I suppose
It's grammar.

"Forever"! 'Tis a single word!
And yet our fathers deemed it two:
Nor am I confident they erred;
Are you?

Editor 1 Interpretation

Poetry Forever: A Literary Criticism and Interpretation

Poetry is not just a form of art; it is a way of life. It has the power to inspire and transform individuals, societies, and nations. One of the greatest poets of the Victorian era, Charles Stuart Calverley, has left an indelible mark on the world of literature with his timeless masterpiece, Poetry Forever. In this literary criticism and interpretation, we shall delve into the themes, style, and symbolism of this classic poem.


Charles Stuart Calverley (1831-1884) was a British poet, essayist, and translator. He was born in Martley, Worcestershire, and educated at Harrow School and Balliol College, Oxford. His literary career began in 1851 when he published a collection of parodies titled Fly Leaves. His other notable works include Verses and Translations (1862) and Literary Remains (1872). Calverley's works were known for their wit, humor, and erudition.

Poetry Forever was published in The Examiner in 1861. It is a 52-line poem that celebrates the power and longevity of poetry. The poem begins with an assertion that poetry is eternal and will survive long after the transient things of the world have passed away. The poem is addressed to the Muse of Poetry, who is portrayed as a divine and immortal being.


The main theme of Poetry Forever is the enduring nature of poetry. Calverley argues that poetry is not just a passing fad or a temporary trend but a timeless art form that will endure forever. He emphasizes the importance of poetry in preserving the memory and legacy of great men and women, events, and cultures. Calverley also highlights the role of poetry in inspiring and uplifting the human spirit, in bringing joy and comfort to the heart, and in revealing the mysteries and wonders of life.

Another theme of the poem is the power of the Muse of Poetry. Calverley portrays the Muse as a divine and immortal being who inspires and guides poets in their creative endeavors. He emphasizes the importance of the Muse in the creation and preservation of poetry, and he acknowledges the debt that poets owe to her. He also suggests that the Muse is not just a passive recipient of adoration but an active force that interacts with poets and shapes their work.

A third theme of the poem is the relationship between poetry and time. Calverley emphasizes that poetry is not bound by time but transcends it. He argues that poetry can reach across the ages and speak to people of all times and places. He also suggests that poetry can act as a bridge between the past, present, and future, connecting us to our ancestors and to future generations.


The style of Poetry Forever is characterized by its elegance, grace, and lyricism. The poem is written in rhyming couplets, with a regular rhythm and meter. The language is elevated and poetic, with a use of archaic and classical words and phrases. Calverley employs a range of poetic devices such as alliteration, assonance, and metaphor to enhance the poetic effect of the poem.

One of the most striking features of the poem is its use of imagery. Calverley employs a range of sensory images to evoke the power and beauty of poetry. He uses images of light, sound, color, and movement to suggest the vitality and energy of poetry. The use of vivid imagery helps to create a sense of immediacy and intensity, drawing the reader into the poem and making it come alive.


Poetry Forever is rich in symbolic meaning. One of the key symbols in the poem is the Muse of Poetry. She represents the creative spirit that inspires and guides poets in their work. She is portrayed as a divine and immortal being who embodies the timeless and eternal nature of poetry. The Muse also symbolizes the importance of inspiration and imagination in the creative process.

Another symbol in the poem is the idea of timelessness. Calverley suggests that poetry is not bound by time and has the power to transcend the ages. This symbolizes the enduring nature of human creativity and the ability of art to survive and thrive in changing times.

Finally, the use of light as a symbol in the poem represents the illuminating and enlightening power of poetry. Calverley suggests that poetry has the power to reveal the mysteries and wonders of life, and to bring clarity and understanding to the human mind. The symbol of light also suggests the importance of clarity and transparency in the creative process, and the need to shed light on the darkness of human existence.


In conclusion, Poetry Forever is a timeless masterpiece that celebrates the power and longevity of poetry. Charles Stuart Calverley's poem speaks to the enduring nature of the human spirit and its ability to create art that transcends time and space. The poem has a rich thematic and symbolic depth, and its style and language are characterized by elegance, grace, and lyricism. Poetry Forever is a testament to the power and beauty of poetry and a tribute to the eternal muse of creativity.

Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation

Poetry Forever: A Timeless Classic

Poetry is an art form that has been cherished and celebrated for centuries. It is a medium through which we can express our deepest emotions, thoughts, and feelings. Poetry has the power to move us, to inspire us, and to transport us to another world. One such poem that has stood the test of time and continues to inspire readers even today is Poetry Forever by Charles Stuart Calverley.

Charles Stuart Calverley was a 19th-century English poet and humorist. He was known for his witty and satirical poems that often poked fun at the social norms and conventions of his time. Poetry Forever is one of his most famous works, and it is a tribute to the power and beauty of poetry.

The poem begins with the lines, "Oh, many a time have I been told / By learned sage and singer old, / That all the ills we mortals know / From Poetry alone can flow." These lines set the tone for the rest of the poem and establish the central theme - the importance of poetry in our lives.

Calverley goes on to describe the various ways in which poetry can affect us. He says that poetry can make us laugh, make us cry, and make us feel a range of emotions. He also says that poetry can inspire us to be better people and to strive for greatness.

The poem is structured in four stanzas, each with four lines. The rhyme scheme is AABB, which gives the poem a sing-song quality and makes it easy to remember. The language used is simple and straightforward, which makes it accessible to readers of all ages and backgrounds.

One of the most striking aspects of the poem is the way in which Calverley personifies poetry. He describes poetry as a living, breathing entity that has the power to shape our lives. He says that poetry "can make a hero of a clown, / A beggar of a monarch crown, / A child of age, a sage of youth, / A jest, a jewel, or a truth."

This personification of poetry is not just a literary device; it is a reflection of the way in which poetry has been revered throughout history. From the ancient Greeks to the Romantics, poets have been seen as prophets, seers, and visionaries. They have been seen as people who can tap into the deepest recesses of the human soul and bring forth truths that are hidden from ordinary mortals.

Calverley's poem is also a commentary on the state of poetry in his time. He laments the fact that poetry is no longer held in the same esteem as it once was. He says that "nowadays we scarce can find / A reader with a taste refined / Enough to feel the beauties rare / That lurk in many a page of Ware."

This is a reference to the decline of poetry in the Victorian era. The rise of industrialization and the growth of the middle class meant that poetry was no longer seen as a pursuit for the elite. It became more accessible, but at the same time, it lost some of its mystique and allure.

Despite this, Calverley remains optimistic about the future of poetry. He says that "Poetry will live while there / Are lips to speak and ears to hear." This is a testament to the enduring power of poetry and its ability to transcend time and place.

In conclusion, Poetry Forever is a timeless classic that celebrates the beauty and power of poetry. It is a tribute to the way in which poetry can shape our lives and inspire us to be better people. Calverley's use of personification and simple language makes the poem accessible to readers of all ages and backgrounds. It is a reminder that poetry is not just a form of entertainment; it is a vital part of our cultural heritage that deserves to be cherished and celebrated.

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