Friday, 23 February 2018

Voyage by Mark Irwin

When we could no longer walk or explore, we decided to wear
the maps and would sit talking, pointing to places, sometimes
touching mountains, canyons, deserts on each other’s body,
and that was how we fell in love again, sitting next to
each other in the home that was not our home, writing letters
with crooked words, crooked lines we handed back and forth,
the huge hours and spaces between us growing smaller and smaller.


Date: 2017

By: Mark Irwin (19??- )

Thursday, 22 February 2018

Under the Vulture-Tree by David Bottoms

We have all seen them circling pastures,
have looked up from the mouth of a barn, a pine clearing,
the fences of our own backyards, and have stood
amazed by the one slow wing beat, the endless dihedral drift.
But I had never seen so many so close, hundreds,
every limb of the dead oak feathered black,

and I cut the engine, let the river grab the jon boat
and pull it toward the tree.
The black leaves shined, the pink fruit blossomed
red, ugly as a human heart.
Then, as I passed under their dream, I saw for the first time
its soft countenance, the raw fleshy jowls
wrinkled and generous, like the faces of the very old
who have grown to empathize with everything.

And I drifted away from them, slow, on the pull of the river,
reluctant, looking back at their roost,
calling them what I’d never called them, what they are,
those dwarfed transfiguring angels,
who flock to the side of the poisoned fox, the mud turtle
crushed on the shoulder of the road,
who pray over the leaf-graves of the anonymous lost,
with mercy enough to consume us all and give us wings.


Date: 1987

By: David Bottoms (1949- )

Wednesday, 21 February 2018

John Peel by John Woodcock Graves

D’ye ken John Peel, with his coat so gay?
D’ye ken John Peel at the break of the day?
D’ye ken John Peel, when he’s far far away,
With his hounds and his horn in the morning.

For the sound of his horn brought me from my bed.
And the cry of the hounds which he oft times led,
Peel’s view hol-loo would awaken the dead,
Or his fox from his lair in the morning.

Yes, I ken John Peel, and Ruby too,
Ranter and Ringwood, Bell-man and True,
From a find to a check, from a check to a view.
From a view to a death in the morning.


Then here’s to John Peel, from my heart and soul.
Let’s drink to his health let’s finish the bowl,
We’ll follow John Peel thro’ fair thro’ foul.
If we want a good hunt in the morning.


D’ye ken John Peel, with his coat so gay,
He lived at Trout-beck once on a day,
Now he has gone far far away,
We shall ne’er hear his voice in the morning.



Date: 1824

By: John Woodcock Graves (1795-1886)

Tuesday, 20 February 2018

The Contented Cuckold by George Colman

First printed in the St. JAMES’s CHRONICLE, Saturday, March 28, 1767.

Harry with Johnny’s wife intrigues,
And all the world perceives it:
John forms with Harry such close leagues,
Who’d think that he believes it?

Contented Cuckold! but, alas,
This is poor Johnny’s curse:
If he don’t see it, he’s an Ass;
And if he does, he’s worse.

From: Colman, George, Prose on Several Occasions: Accompanied with Some Pieces in Verse, 2011, University of Michigan Library: Ann Arbor, Michigan, p. 316.

Date: 1767

By: George Colman (1732-1794)

Monday, 19 February 2018

To the Envious by John Andrews

Scarce Hell itself could conster1 that for ill,
Which—damnèd—thou—to satisfie thy will—
Hast ur’gd—I know— as an extreame offence,
Against unguiltie, harmlesse Innocence.
Which hath by some,—too credulous weake men—
—Out of their wisdomes—been found faulty; when
Had they been masters but of so much sight,
As to distinguish betweene day and night,
They had beene lesse injurious, or more just;
But to such judges must the guilty trust,
Whil’st Innocence must suffer; yet not so
But it may live to see their overthrow
Who moale-like heave unseene, till at the last
Their working be discover’d and they cast
Out of their hollow trenches, and withal
Trod on by them, whom they desir’d might fall;
Then shall your sable cacodæmon be
Hang’d with a twigge upon some willow tree;
To all which envious undermining slaves
I wish no fairer ends, no better graves.

1. Conster – construe.

From: Andrews, John and Grosart, Alexander B. (ed.), The Fuller Worthies’ Library: The Anatomie of Baseness (1615), 1871, Private Circulation: Blackshire, Lancashire, p. 53.

Date: 1615

By: John Andrews (fl. 1615-1655)

Sunday, 18 February 2018

Introduction to “An Answere to a Papystycall Exhortacyon Pretendynge to Avoyde False Doctryne, Under that Colour to Maynteyne the Same” by John Bale

Everye pylde pedlar
Wyll be a medlar
Though ther wyttes be drowsye
And ther lernynge lowsye
Ther meters all mangye
Rashe, rurall, and grangye
Yet wyll they forwarde halte
As menne mased in malte

These vyle cannell rakers
Are now becumme makers
Ther poems out they dashe
With all ther swyber swashe
Ther darnell and ther chaffe
Ther swylle and swynyshe draffe
Soche pype soche melodye
Soche bagge soche beggerye.

Of pylde popyshe facyons
They strowe exhortacions
The people to infecte.
With the sedes of ther secte
Pretendynge to dyffyne
Agaynst the false doctrine
But soche dyrtye geare
Ded menne never heare.

They teache nat in meter
With Paule Johan and Peter
The worlde to edyfye
With goddes worde christenlye
But scripturs they deprave
As madde men that do rave
They daunce with the devyll
To magnysye ther evyll

They drysle forth a dramme
As he that to Christ came
To trappe hym in a snare
Forsoth it is fonde ware
Let christen menne take hede
Unto ther wycked sede
For they seke for to blynde
The syllye symple mynde.

From: Bale, John, An Answere to a Papystycall Exhortacyon Pretendynge to Avoyde False Doctryne, Under that Colour to Maynteyne the Same, 2004, Text Creation Partnership: Ann Arbor, Michigan and Oxford, pp. [unnumbered.

Date: c1548

By: John Bale (1495-1563)

Saturday, 17 February 2018

An Elegiac Poem Complaining About Grief by Desiderius Erasmus

Although gray hair has not yet begun to
whiten the top of my head and fallen hair has
not left me with a shining forehead, although
advanced age has not dimmed my eyesight
and no blackened tooth has fallen from a
rotten mouth and stiff bristles have not yet
made my arms prickly and my skin does not
hang loose on a withered body – in short,
although I see in myself none of the signs of
old age, the lot assigned me by God is
contrived to make me miserable, I know not
how. He has decided to make me bear the
afflictions of old age during my tender years,
and he wants me to be already old, and yet he
does not allow me to grow old. Care and
sorrow, which would sprinkle my temples with
sad gray hair, have come before their time.

From: Erasmus, Desiderius, Miller, Clarence H. (transl.) and Vredeveld, Harry (ed.), Collected Works of Erasmus: Poems, 1993, University of Toronto Press: Toronto/Buffalo/London, p. 235.

Date: ?1487 (original in Latin); 1993 (translation in English)

By: Desiderius Erasmus (1466-1536)

Translated by: Clarence H. Miller (c1930- )

Friday, 16 February 2018

Granada by Ibn Zamrak

Stay awhile here on the terrace of the Sabīka and look about you.
This city is a wife, whose husband is the hill:
Girt she is by water and by flowers,
Which glisten at her throat,
Ringed with streams; and behold the groves of trees which are
the wedding guests, whose thirst is being assuaged by
the water-channels.
The Sabīka hill sits like a garland on Granada’s brow,
In which the stars would be entwined,
And the Alhambra (God preserve it)
Is the ruby set above that garland.
Granada is a bride whose headdress is the Sabīka, and whose
jewels and adornments are its flowers.

From: Harvey, L.P., Islamic Spain 1250 to 1500, 2014, The University of Chicago Press: Chicago and London, p. 219.

Date: c1350 (original in Arabic); 1990 (translation in English)

By: Ibn Zamrak (1333-1393)

Translated by: Leonard Patrick Harvey (1929- )

Thursday, 15 February 2018

Oh Stormy Winds, Bring Up the Clouds by Henjō (Yoshimine no Munesada)

Oh stormy winds, bring up the clouds,
And paint the heavens grey;
Lest these fair maids of form divine
Should angel wings display,
And fly far far away.

From: Porter, William N. (transl.), A Hundred Verses from Old Japan, being a translation of the Hyaku-nin-isshiu, 1909, Clarendon Press: London, p. 12.

Date: c850 (original in Japanese); 1909 (translation in English)

By: Henjō (Yoshimine no Munesada) (816-890)

Translated by: William N. Porter (1849-1929)

Wednesday, 14 February 2018

Ophelia to the Court by Meghan O’Rourke

My shoes are unpolished, my words smudged.
I come to you undressed (the lord, he whispers
Smut; that man, he whispers such). I bend
My thoughts, I submit, but a bird
Keeps flying from my mind, it slippers
My feet and sings—barren world,
I have been a little minx in it, not at all
Domestic, not at all clean, not at all blinking
At my lies. First he thought he had a wife, then
(of course) he thought he had a whore. All
I wanted (if I may speak for myself) was: more.
If only one of you had said, I hold
Your craven breaking soul, I see the pieces,
I feel them in my hands, idle silver, idle gold…
You see I cannot speak without telling what I am.
I disobey the death you gave me, love.
If you must be, then be not with me.


Date: 2010

By: Meghan O’Rourke (1976- )