Saturday, 25 October 2014

Love by George Granville

To Love is to be doom’d, in Life, to feel
What after Death the Tortur’d meet in Hell.
The Vulture dipping in Prometheus Side
His bloody Beak, with his torn Liver dy’d,
Is Love: The Stone that labours up the Hill,
Mocking the Lab’rer’s Toil, returning still,
Is Love: Those Streams where Tantalus is curst
To sit, and never drink, with endless Thirst,
Those loaden Boughs that with their Burthen bend
To court his Taste, and yet escape his Hand,
All this is Love, that to dissembled Joys
Invites vain Men, with real Griefs destroys.

From: Granville, George, Poems Upon Several Occasions, 1712, J. Tonson: London, pp. 19-20.

Date: 1712

By: George Granville (1666/7-1735)

Friday, 24 October 2014

Children’s Hour by Li-Young Lee

Soldiers with guns are at our door again.
Sister, quick. Change into a penny.
I’ll fold you in a handkerchief,
put you in my pocket
and jump inside a sack,
one of the uncooked rice.

Brother, hurry. Turn yourself
into one of our mother’s dolls
on the living room shelf. I’ll be the dust
settling on your eyelids.

The ones wearing wings are in the yard.
The ones wearing lightning are in the house.
The ones wearing stars and carrying knives
are dividing our futures among them.

Don’t answer when they call to us in the voice of Nanny.
Don’t listen when they promise sugar.
Don’t come out until evening,
or when you hear our mother weeping to herself.

If only I could become the mirror in her purse,
I’d never come back until the end of time.


Date: 2010

By: Li-Young Lee (1957- )

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Woodman, Spare That Tree! by George Pope Morris

Woodman, spare that tree!
Touch not a single bough!
In youth it sheltered me,
And I’ll protect it now.
‘Twas my forefather’s hand
That placed it near his cot;
There, woodman, let it stand,
Thy axe shall harm it not.

That old familiar tree,
Whose glory and renown
Are spread o’er land and sea—
And wouldst thou hew it down?
Woodman, forebear thy stroke!
Cut not its earth-bound ties;
Oh, spare that aged oak,
Now towering to the skies!

When but an idle boy,
I sought its grateful shade;
In all their gushing joy
Here, too, my sisters played.
My mother kissed me here;
My father pressed my hand—
Forgive this foolish tear,
But let that old oak stand.

My heart-strings round thee cling,
Close as thy bark, old friend!
Here shall the wild-bird sing,
And still thy branches bend.
Old tree! the storm still brave!
And, woodman, leave the spot;
While I’ve a hand to save,
thy axe shall harm it not.


Date: 1837

By: George Pope Morris (1802-1864)

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

The Giraffes by Roy Fuller

I think before they saw me the giraffes
Were watching me. Over the golden grass,
The bush and ragged open tree of thorn,
From a grotesque height, under their lightish horns,
Their eyes fixed on mine as I approached them.
The hills behind descended steeply: iron
Coloured outcroppings of rock half covered by
Dull green and sepia vegetation, dry
And sunlit: and above, the piercing blue
Where clouds like islands lay or like swans flew.

Seen from those hills the scrubby plain is like
A large-scale map whose features have a look
Half menacing, half familiar, and across
Its brightness arms of shadow ceaselessly
Revolve. Like small forked twigs or insects move
Giraffes, upon the great map where they live.

When I went nearer, their long bovine tails
Flicked loosely, and deliberately they turned,
An undulation of dappled grey and brown,
And stood in profile with those curious planes
Of neck and sloping haunches. Just as when
Quite motionless they watched I never thought
Them moved by fear, a desire to be a tree,
So as they put more ground between us I
Saw evidence that there were animals with
Perhaps no wish for intercourse, or no
Above the falling sun
Like visible winds the clouds are streaked and spun,
And cold and dark now bring the image of
Those creatures walking without pain or love.


Date: 1944

By: Roy Fuller (1912-1991)

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Lines to Chloe by Charles Mordaunt

I said to my heart, between sleeping and waking,
‘Thou wild thing, that always art leaping or aching,
What black, brown, or fair, in what clime, in what nation,
By turns has not taught thee a pit-a-pat-ation?’

Thus accused, the wild thing gave this sober reply:
‘See, the heart without motion though Cœlia pass by;
Not the beauty she has, not the wit that she borrows,
Gives the eye any joys, or the heart any sorrows.

‘When our Sappho appears, she whose wit so refined
I am forced to applaud with the rest of mankind,
Whatever she says is with spirit and fire;
Every word I attend–but I only admire.

‘Prudentia as vainly would put in her claim;
Ever gazing on heaven, though man is her aim.
‘Tis love, not devotion, that turns up her eyes;
Those stars of this world are too good for the skies.

‘But Chloe so lively, so easy, so fair–
Her wit so genteel, without art, without care;
When she comes in my way, the motion, the pain,
The leapings, the achings, return all again.’

O wonderful creature! a woman of reason;
Never grave out of pride, never gay out of season.
When so easy to guess who this angel should be,
Would one think Mrs. Howard ne’er dreamt it was she?


Date: c1738

By: Charles Mordaunt (1658-1735)

Alternative Titles: Chloe’s Triumph; Chloe; Song By a Person of Quality

Monday, 20 October 2014

A Sonnet of the Moon by Charles Best

Look how the pale queen of the silent night
Doth cause the ocean to attend upon her,
And he, as long as she is in his sight,
With her full tide is ready her to honor.
But when the silver waggon of the moon
Is mounted up so high he cannot follow,
The sea calls home his crystal waves to moan,
And with low ebb doth manifest his sorrow.
So you that are the sovereign of my heart
Have all my joys attending on your will;
My joys low-ebbing when you do depart,
When you return their tide my heart doth fill.
So as you come and as you do depart,
Joys ebb and flow within my tender heart.


Date: 1608

By: Charles Best (1570-1627)

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Tomorrow by David Budbill

we are
bones and ash,
the roots of weeds
poking through
our skulls.

simple clothes,
empty mind,
full stomach,
alive, aware,
right here,
right now.

Drunk on music,
who needs wine?

Come on,
let’s go dancing
while we still
got feet.


Date: 2005

By: David Budbill (1940- )

Saturday, 18 October 2014

Home Town Elegy by George Sutherland Fraser

(For Aberdeen in Spring)

Glitter of mica at the windy corners,
Tar in the nostrils, under blue lamps budding
Like bubbles of glass the blue buds of a tree,
Night-shining shopfronts, or the sleek sun flooding
The broad abundant dying sprawl of the Dee:
For these and for their like my thoughts are mourners
That yet shall stand, though I come home no more,
Gas-works, white ballroom, and the red brick baths
And salmon nets along a mile of shore,
Or beyond the municipal golf-course, the moorland paths
And the country lying quiet and full of farms.
This is the shape of a land that outlasts a strategy
And is not to be taken with rhetoric or arms.
Or my own room, with a dozen books on the bed
(Too late, still musing what I mused, I lie
And read too lovingly what I have read),
Brantome, Spinoza, Yeats, the bawdy and wise,
Continuing their interminable debate,
With no conclusion, they conclude too late,
When their wisdom has fallen like a grey pall on my eyes.
Syne we maun part, there sall be nane remeid –
Unless my country is my pride, indeed,
Or I can make my town that homely fame
That Byron has, from boys in Carden Place,
Struggling home with books to midday dinner,
For whom he is not the romantic sinner,
The careless writer, the tormented face,
The hectoring bully or the noble fool,
But, just like Gordon or like Keith, a name:
A tall, proud statue at the Grammar School.


Date: 1944

By: George Sutherland Fraser (1915-1980)

Friday, 17 October 2014

Sonnet. On a Birth-Day Eve by Mary Anne Roscoe Jevons

‘T is not on coming years of weal or woe
I muse distrustful — for, God, to thee
Meekly I bend an unreluctant knee,
Nor wish the secrets of thy will to know.
I muse upon the past — on days that fled
On noiseless pinions, and that bore on high
The record of my deeds — with mournful eye
I see their shadows pass; like friends long dead,
They wear a form familiar — sad, yet sweet —
Telling the while of hopes, and joys, and fears,
Of pleasure’s rosy smiles, and sorrow’s tears;
And I will listen to their voice, and meet
With humble heart the tale of other days,
Mingling a prayer of penitence and praise.

From: Jevons, Mrs. Thomas, Sonnets, and Other Poems, Chiefly Devotional, 1845, Simpkin, Marshall, and Company: London, p. 23.

Date: 1845

By: Mary Anne Roscoe Jevons (1795-1845)

Thursday, 16 October 2014

The Visionary by Jane Elizabeth Roscoe Hornblower

I have been lonely, even from a child;
Tho’ bound with sweet ties to a happy home,
With all life’s sacred charities around me;
I have been lonely—for my soul had thirst
The waters of this world could not assuage:
I found them bitter, and I had high dreams,
And strange imaginations—yea, I liv’d
Amid my own creations; and a world
Of many hopes and raptures was within me,
Such as I could not tell of; for I knew
Such feelings could not bear a sympathy;
They were too sacred to admit communion,
Too blest to need it—to the fields and woods
Did my heart’s fulness pour them; solitude
Was the expansion of my secret visions,
When I could ask my soul to tell me all,
And many a bright and blessed reverie
Hath cheer’d my wanderings. I have heard sweet music
In my own thoughts; mysterious harmonies,
Felt, but not understood; vague, happy musings,
And shadowy sketches of my future fate,
In young and glowing colours. Are they faded?
—Years are gone by; and once again I commune
With my own spirit—it is passionless,
And silent now, its loveliest visions over;
And yet T do not shun this scrutiny.
Tho’ I have fed my heart with perishing joys,
They have not been in vain; for those wild hopes,
And noble aims, and all those proud aspirings,
Gave me a loftier being. I have plung’d
Within the maddening wave, unaw’d, to succour
An object of my love. I have stood calm
In danger’s fiercest moment, with a trust
Above all mortal peril. I have wander’d
O’er moors and mountains to assuage the woes
Of human kind. In all that could excite
I have been foremost:—then have woke and wept
To feel how little and how weak I was.

From: Hornblower, Jane Elizabeth Roscoe and Jevons, Mary Anne Roscoe, Poems, 1820, Baldwin, Craddock and Joy: London, pp. 41-43.

Date: 1820

By: Jane Elizabeth Roscoe Hornblower (1797-1853)


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