Thursday, 18 September 2014

Sonnet by Francis William Bourdillon

As strong, as deep, as wide as is the sea,
Though by the wind made restless as the wind,
By billows fretted and by rocks confined,
So strong, so deep, so wide my love for thee.
And as the sea; though oft huge waves arise,
So oft that calms can never quite assuage,
So huge that ocean’s whole self seems to rage;
Yet tranquil, deep, beneath the tempest lies:
So my great love for thee lies tranquil, deep,
Forever; though above it passions fierce,
Ambition, hatred, jealousy; like waves
That seem from earth’s core to the sky to leap,
But ocean’s depths can never really pierce;
Hide its great calm, while all the surface raves.

From: Bourdillon, F.W., “Sonnet” from Scribner’s Monthly, an illustrated magazine for the people, Volume 9, issue 3, January 1874, pp. 359-360.

Date: 1875

By: Francis William Bourdillon (1852-1921)

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

To a Lady of Thirty by William Broome

No more let youth its beauty boast,
S_____n at thirty reigns a toast,
And like the sun as he declines,
More mildly but more sweetly shines.

The hand of Time alone, disarms
Her face of its superfl’ous charms,
But adds, for ev’ry grace resign’d,
A thousand to adorn her mind.

Youth was her too-inflaming time,
This her more habitable clime;
How must she then each heart engage
Who blooms like Youth, is wise like Age!

Thus the rich orange-trees, produce
At once both ornament and use;
Here op’ning blossoms we behold,
There fragrant orbs of ripen’d gold.

From: Broome, William, The Poetical Works of William Broome, L.L.D. with the Life of the Author by Samuel Johnson, L.L.D., 1807, Samuel Bagster: London, p. 101.

Date: 1727

By: William Broome (1689-1745)

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Sights and Sounds of the Night by Carlos Wilcox

Ere long the clouds were gone, the moon was set;
When deeply blue without a shade of gray,
The sky was fill’d with stars that almost met,
Their points prolong’d and sharpen’d to one ray;
Through their transparent air the milky-way
Seem’d one broad flame of pure resplendent white,
As if some globe on fire, turn’d far astray,
Had cross’d the wide arch with so swift a flight,
That for a moment shone its whole long track of light.

At length in northern skies, at first but small,
A sheet of light meteorous begun
To spread on either hand, and rise and fall
In waves, that slowly first, then quickly run
Along its edge, set thick but one by one
With spiry beams, that all at once shot high,
Like those through vapours from the setting sun;
Then sidelong as before the wind they fly,
Like streaking rain from clouds that flit along the sky.

Now all the mountain-tops and gulfs between
Seem’d one dark plain; from forests, caves profound,
And rushing waters far below unseen,
Rose a deep roar in one united sound,
Alike pervading all the air around,
And seeming e’en the azure dome to fill,
And from it through soft ether to resound
In low vibrations, sending a sweet thrill
To every finger’s end from rapture deep and still.


Date: ?1828

By: Carlos Wilcox (1794-1827)

Monday, 15 September 2014

Goldilockt God that Doest on Parnasse Dwell by Henry Nevill

Goldilockt God that doest on Parnasse dwell,
O thou that sweetly playest on a fiddle
To sisters Nine, that Aganippes Well
Do much frequent, there bathing to the middle;
Lend me thy notes, that I may sweeter sing
Of Tom of Odcombe then doth Odcombe ring.

Oh that some errant Knight could now be seene,
That he might dubbe thee; crying, Up Sir Thomas:
Their dangers and adventures lesse have beene
That erst did wander to the land of promise.
Thou mak’st Sir Bevis and sir Guy a fable,
With all the daring knights of the round table.

Unto thy shoes, thy shirt, thy fustian case,
That hang at Odcombe, trophees of thy travailes,
Joyne this fayre book of thine, which makes thee passe
Great Merlin Cockay in recounting marveiles.
Whilst pendant scutchins others tombes adorne,
O’re thine these faire atchivements shall be borne.

From: Coryat, Thomas, Coryat’s Crudities; hastily gobbled up in five Moneths travels in France, Savoy, Italy, Rhetia commonly called the Grisons country, Helvetia alias Switzerland, some parts of high Germany and the Netherlands; Newly digested in the hungry aire of Odcombe in the County of Somerset, and now dispersed to the nourishment of the travelling Members of this Kingdome, Volume I, 1905, James MacLehose and Sons: Glasgow, p. 26.

Date: 1611

By: Henry Nevill (c1580-1641)

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Ballade for Motherless Daughters by Allison Joseph

—for Brett

We wake at night, scan picture frames
to keep her face in memory,
that countenance always the same
in photos of shared history,
a past from which our futures flee,
a future that’s exempt from her.
Time rushes us, until we’ll be
much older than our mothers ever were.

Her face, her smile—both make their claim.
See how our features still agree?
Some days, that grief cannot be tamed,
it rides your tongue, won’t shake you free,
despite long baths, some good chablis.
Her loss will always reoccur,
despite new cars, advanced degrees.
Much older than our mothers ever were,

we’ll tell our daughters how they got their names,
their grandmothers alive in legacy.
Our sons will know just what she overcame.
To fill blank space on a family tree,
we’ll speak her name aloud, and reverently
remember words she said, songs she preferred.
We’ll touch those photographs, though we’ll soon be
much older than our mothers ever were.

We speak from knowing grief’s agility;
with elegies, we’ve grown to be secure.
Each day’s a test of our abilities,
much older than our mothers ever were.


Date: 2014

By: Allison Joseph (1967- )

Saturday, 13 September 2014

Ella’s Roses by William Cox Bennett

Venus, unto thee, the rose,
Summer’s darling, told her woes,
Told how she, the queen of flowers.
Loved of all the lingering hours,
Glory of the radiant day,
Only came, to pass away,
Beauty of celestial birth,
Fading with the things of earth,
Meanest things of mortal breath,
Poorest things, but worthy death;
Then, foam-brow’d, thy laughing look,
For a moment, joy forsook,
For a moment, till thy thought
Gave the boon thy favourite sought,
All thy darling dared to seek,
Changeless life in Ella’s cheek.

From: Bennett, William Cox, Queen Eleanor’s Vengeance and Other Poems, 1857, Chapman and Hall: London, p. 148.

Date: 1857

By: William Cox Bennett (1820-1895)

Friday, 12 September 2014

The Fly by William Oldys

An Anacreontick

Busy, curious, thirsty Fly,
Gently drink, and drink as I;
Freely welcome to my Cup,
Could’st thou sip and sip it up;
Make the most of Life you may,
Life is short and wears away.

Just alike, both mine and thine,
Hasten quick to their Decline;
Thine’s a Summer, mine’s no more,
Though repeated to threescore;
Threescore Summers, when they’re gone,
Will appear as short as one.

From: Oldys, William, A Literary Antiquary. Memoir of William Oldys, Esq., Norroy King-At-Arms. Together with his Diary, Choice Notes from his Adversaria, and an Account of the London Libraries, 1862, Spottiswood and Co: London, p. xiii.

Date: 1732

By: William Oldys (1696-1761)

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Pig Wrestling by Carrie Jerrell

Well-greased and terrified, it screeches its way
into the pen where we four high-school girls,
last year’s division champs, anticipate
its first evasive move. It barrels left,
zig-zagging right between us while we slog
barefoot, our jeans rolled to the knees, through the muck
three inches deep. The crowd shouts strategies
as we close in, the pig prepares to dodge
us like a cornered memory that’s stuck
somewhere between forbidden and forgotten.
We spring together, struggle to subdue
it, stop its squealing, feel its slimy skin
beneath us — muscles twitching. When the bell calls time,
it twists off in escape, just like those thoughts
that bolt away after their capture, more
alive than when you pinned them for the count.


Date: 2006

By: Carrie Jerrell (1976- )

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

To England by Alfred Austin

(Written in Mid-Channel.)

Now upon English soil I soon shall stand,
Homeward from climes that fancy deems more fair;
And well I know that there will greet me there
No soft foam fawning upon smiling strand,
No scent of orange-groves, no zephyrs bland;
But Amazonian March, with breast half bare
And sleety arrows whistling through the air,
Will be my welcome from that burly land.
Yet he who boasts his birth-place yonder lies
Owns in his heart a mood akin to scorn
For sensuous slopes that bask ‘neath Southern skies,
Teeming with wine and prodigal of corn,
And, gazing through the mist with misty eyes,
Blesses the brave bleak land where he was born.


Date: 1882

By: Alfred Austin (1835-1913)

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Vanity of Vanities by Michael Wigglesworth

A Song of Emptiness
To Fill up the Empty Pages Following

Vain, frail, short liv’d, and miserable Man,
Learn what thou art when thine estate is best:
A restless Wave o’th’ troubled Ocean,
A Dream, a lifeless Picture finely drest:

A Wind, a Flower, a Vapour, and a Bubble,
A Wheel that stands not still, a trembling Reed,
A rolling Stone, dry Dust, light Chaff, and Stubble,
A Shadow of Something, but nought indeed.

Learn what deceitful Toyes, and empty things,
This World, and all its best Enjoyments bee:
Out of the Earth no true Contentment springs,
But all things here are vexing Vanitee.

For what is Beauty, but a fading Flower?
Or what is Pleasure, but the Devils bait,
Whereby he catcheth whom he would devour,
And multitudes of Souls doth ruinate?

And what are Friends but moral men, as we?
Whom Death from us may quickly separate;
Or else their hearts may quite estranged be,
And all their love be turned into hate.

And what are Riches to be doted on?
Uncertain, fickle, and ensnaring things;
They draw Mens Souls into Perdition,
And when most needed, take them to their wings.

Ah foolish Man! that sets his heart upon
Such empty Shadows, such wild Fowl as these,
That being gotten will be quickly gone,
And whilst they stay increase but his desease.

As in a Dropsie, drinking draughts begets,
The more he drinks, the more he still requires:
So on this World whoso affection sets,
His Wealths encrease encreaseth his desires.

O happy Man, whose portion is above,
Where Floods, where Flames, where Foes cannot bereave him,
Most wretched man, that fixed hath his love
Upon this World, that surely will deceive him!

For, what is Honour? What is Sov’raignty,
Whereto mens hearts so restlesly aspire?
Whom have they Crowned with Felicity?
When did they ever satisfie desire?

The Ear of Man with hearing is not fill’d:
To see new sights still coveteth the Eye:
The craving Stomack though it may be still’d,
Yet craves again without a new supply.

All Earthly things, man’s Cravings answer not,
Whose little heart would all the World contain,
(If all the World should fall to one man’s Lot)
And notwithstanding empty still remain.

The Eastern Conquerour was said to weep,
When he the Indian Ocean did view,
To see his Conquest bounded by the Deep,
And no more Worlds remaining to subdue.

Who would that man in his Enjoyments bless,
Or envy him, or covet his estate,
Whose gettings do augment his greediness,
And make his wishes more intemperate?

Such is the wonted and the common guise
Of those on Earth that bear the greatest Sway:
If with a few the case be otherwise
They seek a Kingdom that abides for ay.

Moreover they, of all the Sons of men,
That Rule, and are in highest places set,
Are most inclin’d to scorn their Bretheren
And God himself (without great grace) forget.

For as the Sun doth blind the gazer’s eyes,
That for a time they nought discern aright:
So Honour doth befool and blind the Wise,
And their own Lustre ‘reaves them of their sight.

Great are their Dangers, manifold their Cares;
Thro which, whilst others Sleep, they scarcely Nap
And yet are oft surprized unawares,
And fall unwitting into Envies Trap!

The mean Mechanick finds his kindly rest,
All void of fear Sleepeth the Country-Clown,
When greatest Princes often are distrest,
And cannot Sleep upon their Beds of Down.

Could Strength or Valour men Immortalize,
Could Wealth or Honour keep them from decay,
There were some cause the same to Idolize,
And give the lye to that which I do say.

But neither can such things themselves endure
Without the hazard of a Change one hour,
Nor such as trust in them can they secure
From dismal dayes, or Deaths prevailing pow’r.

If Beauty could the beautiful defend
From Death’s dominion, then fair Absalom
Had not been brought to such a shameful end:
But fair and foul unto the Grave must come.

If Wealth or Scepters could Immortal make,
Then wealthy Croesus, wherefore are thou dead?
If Warlike force, which makes the World to quake,
Then why is Julius Caesar perished?

Where are the Scipio’s Thunder-bolts of War?
Renowned Pompey, Caesars Enemie?
Stout Hannibal, Romes Terror known so far?
Great Alexander, what’s become of thee?

If Gifts and Bribes Death’s favour might but win,
If Power, if force, or Threatnings might it fray,
All these, and more, had still surviving been:
But all are gone, for Death will have no Nay.

Such is this World with all her Pomp and Glory,
Such are the men whom worldly eyes admire:
Cut down by Time, and now become a Story,
That we might after better things aspire.

Go boast thy self of what thy heart enjoyes,
Vain Man! triumph in all thy worldly Bliss:
Thy best enjoyments are but Trash and Toyes:
Delight thy self in that which worthless is.

     Omnia Praetereunt praeter amare Deum.


Date: 1657

By: Michael Wigglesworth (1631-1705)


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