Tag Archives: William Hughes Mearns

My Favorite Poem – Antigonish

I can’t let World Poetry Day go by without sharing my favorite poem.


It is Antigonish by William Hughes Mearns.


Yesterday, upon the stair,
I met a man who wasn’t there

He wasn’t there again today

I wish, I wish, he’d go away…


When I came home last night at three

The man was waiting there for me

But when I looked around the hall

I couldn’t see him there at all!

Go away, go away, don’t you come back any more!

Go away, go away, and please don’t slam the door…


Last night I saw upon the stair

A little man who wasn’t there

He wasn’t there again today

Oh, how I wish he’d go away…


Hearns wrote the poem in 1899 as part of a play for Harvard University. In 1939 it was made into a song with credits by Harold Adamson and Bernie Hanighan. In July of the same year the Glenn Miller Orchestra made it a hit.


Bits of the poem have been included in many songs and movies. My favorite is in Identity. An actor that I love, Pruitt Taylor Vince, mutters the first stanza and that is where I first heard it.


I have written about the poem before, in my blog post No Sleep For Me.

Reciting it helps me when I am anxious.


Do you have a favorite poem? Do you have one that helps you in times of anxiety and/or depression? Please do share in the comments.

Advertisements

No Sleep For Me

I am going on very little sleep for a week and a half now.

My meds are being adjusted. When I started having trouble falling and staying asleep, yet wanting to just stay in bed all day, I got myself right to my doctors.

I struggle with Major Depressive Disorder and Anxiety. From miles away I can feel differences in my depressed state and I have to act quickly. Otherwise I could end up spending a month in bed and that’s just no good.

Usually my Audible.com books on my iPod will do the trick. I will drift off listening to the soothing works of Stephen King or Robert R. McCammon. Weird choices for bedtime stories, I know, but I find them soothing.

When I am sleep-deprived like this, I tend to have a certain poem rattle around in my noggin. It is Antigonish by William Hughes Mearns. I first heard it in the movieIdentity when a portion of it was uttered by Pruitt Taylor Vince.

Here is the poem:

Yesterday, upon the stair,
I met a man who wasn’t there
He wasn’t there again today
I wish, I wish he’d go away...

When I came home last night at three
The man was waiting there for me
But when I looked around the hall
I couldn’t see him there at all!
Go away, go away, don’t you come back any more!
Go away, go away, and please don’t slam the door... (slam!)

Last night I saw upon the stair
A little man who wasn’t there
He wasn’t there again today
Oh, how I wish he’d go away...


I suppose that the reason that I enjoy the poem so much is because in times of stress and fatigue I have been known to see things just in the corner of my eye. Fleeting images. Real, or not? Repeating the poem grounds me. Soothes me. I am grateful for it.
Do you have a poem or snippet of prose that you can turn to for comfort?
Well, here is to hoping that the soothing narration of King’s The Tommyknockers lulls me to sleep tonight.
And in the meantime, “Yesterday, upon the stair…”.