Sunday, 23 November 2014

The Piper’s Progress by Francis Sylvester Mahony (Father Prout)

When I was a boy
In my father’s mud edifice,
Tender and bare
As a pig in a sty:
Out of the door as I
Look’d with a steady phiz,
Who but Thade Murphy
The piper went by.
Says Thady, “But few play
This music – can you play?”
Says I, “I can’t tell,
For I never did try.”
So he told me that he had a charm
To make the pipes purtily speak;
Then squeezed a bag under his arm,
When sweetly they set up a squeak!
Och hone!
How he handled the drone!
And then the sweet music he blew
Would have melted the heart of a stone!

“Your pipe,” says I, “Thady,
So neatly comes o’er me,
Naked I’ll wander
Wherever it blows:
And if my poor parents
Should try to recover me,
Sure, it won’t be
By describing my clothes.
The music I hear now
Takes hold of my ear now,
And leads me all over
The world by the nose.”
So I follow’d his bagpipe so sweet,
And I sung as I leap’d like a frog,
“Adieu to my family seat,
So pleasantly placed in a bog.”
Och hone!
How we handled the drone!
And then the sweet music we blew
Would have melted the heart of a stone!

Full five years I follow’d him,
Nothing could sunder us;
Till he one morning
Had taken a sup,
And slipt from a bridge
In a river just under us
Souse to the bottom
Just like a blind pup.
He roar’d and he bawl’d out;
And I also call’d out,
“Now Thady, my friend,
Don’t you mean to come up?”
He was dead as a nail in a door –
Poor Thady was laid on the shelf.
So I took up his pipes on the shore,
And now I’ve set up for myself.
Och hone!
Don’t I handle the drone!
And play such sweet music? I, too,
Can’t I soften the heart of a stone!

From: Mahony, Francis and Kent, Charles (ed.), The Works of Father Prout (The Rev. Francis Mahony). Edited with Biographical Introduction and Notes by Charles Kent, 1881, George Routledge and Sons: London, pp. 487-488.

Date: 1837

By: Francis Sylvester Mahony (Father Prout) (1804-1866)

Saturday, 22 November 2014

The Heart Under Your Heart by Craig Arnold

Who gives his heart away too easily must have a heart under his heart.
—James Richardson

The heart under your heart
is not the one you share
so readily so full of pleasantry
& tenderness
it is a single blackberry
at the heart of a bramble
or else some larger fruit
heavy the size of a fist
it is full of things
you have never shared with me
broken engagements bruises
& baking dishes
the scars on top of scars
of sixteen thousand pinpricks
the melody you want so much to carry
& always fear black fear
or so I imagine you have never shown me
& how could I expect you to
I also have a heart beneath my heart
perhaps you have seen or guessed
it is a beach at night
where the waves lap & the wind hisses
over a bank of thin
translucent orange & yellow jingle shells
on the far side of the harbor
the lighthouse beacon
shivers across the black water
& someone stands there waiting.


Date: 2009

By: Craig Arnold (1967-2009)

Friday, 21 November 2014

The Expostulation by Elizabeth Singer Rowe (Philomela)

How long, great God, a wretched captive here,
Must I these hated marks of bondage wear?
How long shall these uneasy chains control
The willing flights of my impatient Soul?
How long shall her most pure intelligence
Be strain’d through an infectious screen of gross, corrupted sence?

When shall I leave this darksome house of clay;
And to a brighter mansion wing away?
There’s nothing here my thoughts to entertain,
But one Tyr’d revolution o’re again:
The Sun and Stars observe their wonted round,
The streams their former courses keep: No Novelty is found.

The same curst acts of false fruition o’re,
The same wild hopes and wishes as before;
Do men for this so fondly life caress,
(That airy huff of splendid emptiness?)
Unthinking sots: kind Heaven let me be gone,
I’m tyr’d, I’m sick of this dull Farce’s repetition.

From: Philomela, Poems on Several Occasions, 1696, John Dunton: London, pp. 12-13.

Date: 1696

By: Elizabeth Singer Rowe (Philomela) (1674-1737)

Thursday, 20 November 2014

On Reading The Warning by Mrs. Singer by Jane Colman Turrell

Surprised I view, wrote by a female pen,
Such a grave warning to the sons of men.
Bold was the attempt and worthy of your lays,
To strike at vice, and sinking virtue raise.
Each noble line a pleasing terror gives,
A secret force in every sentence lives.
Inspired by virtue you could safely stand
The fair reprover of a guilty land.
You vie with the famed prophetess of old,
Burn with her fire, in the same cause grow bold.
Dauntless you undertake th’ unequal strife,
And raise dead virtue by your verse to life.
A woman’s pen strikes the cursed serpent’s head
And lays the monster gasping, if not dead.

From: Trent, William P. and Wells, Benjamin W. (eds.), Colonial Prose and Poetry. The Growth of the National Spirit 1710-1775, 1901, Thomas Y. Crowell & Co.: New York, p. 93.

Date: 17??

By: Jane Colman Turrell (1703-1735)

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

A Quarrel with Fortune by Benjamin Colman

So have I seen a little silly Fly
Upon a blazing Taper dart and die.
The foolish Insect ravish’d with so bright
And fair a Glory, would devour the Light.
At first he wheels about the threatning Fire,
With a Career as fleet as his Desire.
This Ceremony past, he joins the same
In Hopes to be transform’d himself to Flame.
The fiery, circumambient Sparkles glow,
And vainly warn him of his Overthrow,
But resolute he’ll to Destruction go.
So mean-born Mortals, such as I, aspire,
And injure with unhallowed Desire,
The Glory we ought only to admire.
We little think of the intense fierce Flame,
That Gold alone is Proof against the same;
And that such Trash as we like drossy Lead,
Consume before it, and it strikes us dead.


Date: 1734

By: Benjamin Colman (1673-1747)

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

And Must We Part by Jeremiah Joseph Callanan

And must we part? then fare thee well;
But he that wails it, — he can tell
How dear thou wert, how dear thou art
And ever must be to this heart;
But now ’tis vain, — it cannot be;
Farewell! and think no more on me.

Oh yes, — this heart would sooner break,
Than one unholy thought awake;
I’d sooner slumber into clay,
Than cloud thy spirits beauteous ray;
Go free as air,— as Angel free,
And lady think no more on me.

O did we meet when brighter star
Sent its fair promise from afar,
I then might hope to call thee mine,
The Minstrel’s heart and harp were thine;
But now ’tis past, — it cannot be;
Farewell and think no more on me.

Or do! — but let it be the hour,
When Mercy’s all atoning power,
From his high throne of glory hears
Of souls like thine the prayers, the tears,
Then whilst you bend the suppliant knee;
Then, then O Lady think on me.

From: Callanan, J.J. and McCarthy, M.F. (ed.), The Poems of J.J. Callanan. A New Edition, with a Biographical Introduction and Notes, 1847, Messrs. Bolster: Cork, p. 73.

Date: 1830

By: Jeremiah Joseph Callanan (1795-1829)

Monday, 17 November 2014

Requiem by Peter Munro

The angels I love
bicker over cod guts and snapper spines.
They joust for flounder skulls and pick the bones clean,
screaming. Their harsh, fine voices
break across my town
in a language lost to my kind,
thoughtless in the clear now of now
without death. Christ, walk down streets paved
with rain to me and you drown in my choir,
my angels beating prayer under wing
which is the want I have not loved
well. Where did my weather go? Meet me
where my hidden weather went,
where praise and rain
are never spent.


Date: 2009

By: Peter Munro (1957- )

Sunday, 16 November 2014

On a Harp Playing in a London Fog by Ernest Percival Rhys

What Ariel, far astray, with silver wing,
Upborne with airy music, silver-sweet,
Haunts here the London street? —
And from the fog, with harping string on string,
Laughs in the ear, and spurs the lagging feet,
While Caliban-like, London sulks, though all the stars should sing.

Such mystic harping once its silvery scale
Ran in grey Harlech, and on Merlin’s Hill,
Where listening fancy still
Can hear it, like some song in fairy-tale;
And still in Broceliaunde the oak-trees will
Repeat its lingering sighing strain to many a cold sea-vale.

Here harps the mystic noise should make the dead
Of London wake, and all its walls have ears;
As when in Troy the spears
Rang in the streets, by Helen’s beauty sped:
Here harps the song of Merlin, or the spheres:
But London sleeps, unmoved, and dreams his other dreams instead.

So may he sleep, — the waking hour unknown,
When Ariel’s song shall end what it began,
And waken Caliban.
And yet, who knows, his sleep is lighter grown
By half-a-song’s weight, since that chiming ran,
Athwart the fog, like thistledown o’er misty uplands blown.

From: Rhys, Ernest, A London Rose and Other Rhymes, 1894, Elkin Mathews & John Lane: London, pp. 9-10.

Date: 1894

By: Ernest Percival Rhys (1859-1946)

Saturday, 15 November 2014

The Horologe by Thomas Doubleday

Once, by the dusk light of an ancient hall,
I saw a Horologe. Its minutes fell
Upon the roused ear, with a drowsy knell
That he who passed attended to the call.
I looked: and lo! five Antics over all.
One moved, and four were motionless. The one
Was scythed and bald-head Time; and he mowed on,
Sweep after sweep–and each a minute’s fall,
–The four were kings. Sceptres they bore and globes
And ermined crowns. Before that old man dim
They stood, but not in joy. At sight of Time
They had stiffen’d into statues in their robes;
Fear-petrified. Let no man envy him
Who smiles at that grave Homily sublime!

From: Watts, Alaric A., The Literary Souvenir; or, Cabinet of Poetry and Romance, 1828, Longman, Rees, Orme, Browne, & Green: London, p. 219.

Date: 1828

By: Thomas Doubleday (1790-1870)

Friday, 14 November 2014

This Little Cemetery Wants to Grow by Michelle Boisseau

Hurt things continue.
The frost last night singed
the roses, but they’ll
brave it out a bit
longer till winter
closes tight. The buds
were barely nicked. Thumb
their velvet. Hurt turns
toward the sun to be
untouched. Scorch-marks hem
the petals that cling
to five-pointed stars.
This little cemetery
has room for us all.


Date: 2009

By: Michelle Boisseau (1955- )


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