Sunday, 5 July 2015

Where Do These Words Come From? by Charlotte Pomerantz

Hominy, succotash, raccoon, moose.
Succotash, raccoon, moose, papoose.
Raccoon, moose, papoose, squash, skunk.
Moose, papoose, squash, skunk, chipmunk.
Papoose, squash, skunk, chipmunk, muckamuck.
Skunk, chipmunk, muckamuck, woodchuck.


Date: 1982

By: Charlotte Pomerantz (1930- )

Saturday, 4 July 2015

The History of the United States by Winifred Sackville Stoner, Junior

In fourteen hundred ninety-two, Columbus sailed the ocean blue
And found this land, land of the Free, beloved by you, beloved by me.

And in the year sixteen and seven, good Captain Smith thought he’d reach Heav’n,
And then he founded Jamestown City, alas, ’tis gone, oh, what a pity.

’Twas in September sixteen nine, with ship, Half Moon, a read Dutch sign,
That Henry Hudson found the stream, the Hudson River of our dream.

In sixteen twenty, pilgrims saw our land that had no unjust law.
Their children live here to this day, proud citizens of U.S.A.

In sixteen hundred eighty-three, good William Penn stood ’neath a tree
And swore that unto his life’s end he would be the Indian’s friend.

In seventeen hundred seventy-five, good Paul Revere was then alive;
He rode like wild throughout the night, and called the Minute Men to fight.

Year seventeen hundred seventy-six, July the fourth, this date please fix
Within your minds, my children dear, for that was Independence Year.

In that same year on a bitter night at Trenton was an awful fight,
But by our brave George Washington the battle was at last well won.

Two other dates in your mind fix—Franklin born in seventeen six,
And Washington first said “Boo-Hoo” in seventeen hundred thirty-two.

In seventeen hundred seventy-nine, Paul Jones, who was a captain fine,
Gained our first naval victory fighting on the big, wide sea.

And in the year eighteen and four, Lewis and Clark both went before,
And blazed for us the Oregon Trail where men go now in ease by rail.

In eighteen hundred and thirteen, on great Lake Erie could be seen
Our Perry fight the Union Jack and drive it from our shores far back.

In eighteen hundred and sixty-one, an awful war was then begun
Between the brothers of our land, who now together firmly stand.

In eighteen hundred sixty-three, each slave was told that he was free
By Lincoln, with whom few compare in being kind and just and fair.

In eighteen hundred eighty-one, at Panama there was begun
By good De Lesseps, wise and great, the big canal, now our ship’s gate.

At San Juan, eighteen ninety-eight, our brave Rough Riders lay in wait,
And on the land brought victory, while Dewey won it on the sea.

In nineteen hundred and fifteen, was shown a panoramic screen
At San Francisco’s wondrous fair; all peoples were invited there.

But cruel war in that same year kept strangers from our land o’ cheer,
And nineteen seventeen brought here the war that filled our hearts with fear.

Thank God in nineteen eighteen Peace on earth again was seen,
And we are praying that she’ll stay forever in our U.S.A.


Date: 1919

By: Winifred Sackville Stoner, Junior (1902-1983)

Friday, 3 July 2015

Doggrel Charm by Sara Coleridge

To a little lump of malignity, on being medically assured that it was not a fresh growth, but an old growth splitting.

Split away, split away, split away, split!
Plague of my life, delay pretermit!
Rapidly, rapidly, rapidly go!
Haste ye to mitigate trouble and woe!

Then if you come again, done be His will
Who ordereth all things beyond human skill!
Patience he findeth who seeketh that need
Grace from the fountainhead comes at full speed.

Crack away, tumour, I pray thee to crack,
Just now you seem to be on the right track
But if you’re in the wrong, right let me be,
And promptly submitting to Heaven’s decree


Date: 1852

By: Sara Coleridge (1802-1852)

Thursday, 2 July 2015

On Copernicus His Opinion of the Earths Turning Round by Robert Heath

Copernicus was of opinion
That the Earths globe by spherick motion
Turn’d round, and that the Heav’ns were fixt: the man
Was drunk sure or on shipboard, when his brain
Hatcht this Maeander; for to such the land
Doth only seem to move when they do stand.
When Noahs floud had turn’d the land to Sea
And the earth seem’d one floating Isle to be,
The world then rid on waves indeed, and then
Ith’ Ark there was no terra firma seen:
Yet true we find what was but Phansie then,
(For th’ world if we but understand the men
That live therein) for they alas turn round
And scotomized sail on firmest ground:
Or drunk with madnes, with their poreblind eies
Think States wel setled totter though they rise.
A strange Vertigo or Delirium,
Oth’ brain it is, that thus possesses’um;
Whilst like to fashions grown Orbicular,
Kingdomes thus turn’d, and overturned are:
Nothing but fine Eutopian worlds ith’ moon
Must be new form’d by revolution.
Nor doth the State alone on fortuns wheels
Run round, alas our rock Religion, reels:
We have saild so far the Antipodian way
That into darkness we have turnd our day.
Amidst these turnings ’tis some comfort yet,
Heav’n doth not flie from us, though we from it.

From: Heath, Robert, Clarastella together with poems occasional, elegies, epigrams, satyrs, 1650, Hump. Mosley: London, pp. 5-6.

Date: 1650

By: Robert Heath (fl. 1636-1659)

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

The Mother by Caroline Meysey-Wigley Clive

I feel within myself a life
That holds ’gainst death a feeble strife;
They say ’tis destined that the womb
Shall be its birthplace and its tomb.
O child! if it be so, and thou
Thy native world must never know,
Thy Mother’s tears will mourn the day
When she must kiss thy Death‐born face.
But oh! how lightly thou wilt pay
The forfeit due from Adam’s race!
Thou wilt have lived, but not have wept,
Have died, and yet have known no pain;
And sin’s dark presence will have swept
Across thy soul, yet left no stain.
Mine is thy life; my breath thy breath:
I only feel the dread, the woe;
And in thy sickness or thy death,
Thy Mother bears the pain, not thou.

Life nothing means for thee, but still
It is a living thing, I feel;
A sex, a shape, a growth are thine,
A form and human face divine;
A heart with passions wrapp’d therein,
A nature doom’d, alas! to sin;
A mind endow’d with latent fire,
To glow, unfold, expand, aspire;
Some likeness from thy father caught,
Or by remoter kindred taught;
Some faultiness of mind or frame,
To wake the bitter sense of shame;
Some noble passions to unroll,
The generous deed, the human tear;
Some feelings which thy Mother’s soul
Has pour’d on thine, while dwelling near.
All this must past unbloom’d away
To worlds remote from earthly day;
Worlds whither we by paths less brief,
Are journeying on through joy and grief,
And where thy Mother, now forlorn,
May learn to known her child unborn;
Oh, yes! created thing, I trust
Thou too wilt rise with Adams’s dust.

Nov. 1842.

From: Clive, Caroline, Poems, 1872, Longmans, Green and Co: London, pp. 46-47.

Date: 1842

By: Caroline Meysey-Wigley Clive (1801-1872)

Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Death and Taxes by Tomás Urayoán Noel

The housewives laugh at what they can’t avoid:
In single file, buckling one by one
Under the weight of the late summer sun,
They drop their bags, they twitch, and are destroyed.
He hears a voice (there is a bust of Freud
Carved on the mountainside). He tucks the gun
Under his rented beard and starts to run.
(“The housewives laugh at what they can’t avoid.”)
Like She-bears fettered to a rusted moon
They crawl across the parking lot and shed
Tearblood. The office park is closing soon.
Night falls. The neighborhood buries its dead
And changes channels—Zap! Ah, the purity
Of death and taxes and Social Security.


Date: 2005

By: Tomás Urayoán Noel (1976- )

Monday, 29 June 2015

The Resemblance by Edward Sherburne

Marble (coy Celia!) ‘gainst my pray’rs thou art,
And at thy frown to marble I convert.
Love thought it fit, and nature, thus
To manifest their several pow’rs in us.
Love made me marble, nature thee,
To express constancy and cruelty.
Now both of us shall monuments remain;
I of firm faith, thou of disdain.

From: Sherburne, Edward and Fleming, S (ed.), Miscellaneous Poems, Chiefly Amatory, Serious and Devout; with Several Translations from Ancient and Modern Authors, by Sir Edward Sherburne, of Stonyhurst, Knt. Reprinted from the Edition of 1651. With a Biographical Account of the Author, and Observations on his Works, 1819, R. Priestley: London, pp. 18-19.

Date: 1651

By: Edward Sherburne (1618-1702)

Sunday, 28 June 2015

The Dodo Bird by Judith Skillman

with lines from Holderlin

I found it land-bound, small wings tucked
against its sides. The head naked,
almost human in its appraisal.
I remember hearing about you, I said
and it replied For the gods grow indignant…

It was not repulsive, rather oily, a few black strands
like leftover feathers sprouting from its head.
I thought you were a figment I said,
and it replied if a man not gather himself to save His soul…

I said I was a woman, that I would have preferred
to lose the ostrich, but would not starve my children.
If there had been a famine and the opportunity arose
I also would have beaten the Dodo to death
with whatever was at hand—
club, baseball bat, plank of wood,
but I wouldn’t have laughed.

Women are tame.
We don’t kill unless threatened.
Did you not perceive the Dutchmen as a threat?
Yet he has no choice…
the bird replied, foraging, head down,
diamond eyes shrunken to slits
as it pried grubs from mud.

Why have you grown so large—
three feet tall, walking about
as if you owned the ground
between clouds of idealism and germs of reality.
You had your heyday.
We have your beak in the British Museum
for proof: DNA, some writings and renderings.

It went about the business of the omnivorous—
scavenging, turning its arse this way and that,
always the silly walk of it
and the precious non-birdness of its serious demeanor,
unshaken by extinction: like-
wise; mourning is in error…


Date: 2007

By: Judith Skillman (1954- )

Saturday, 27 June 2015

Folding a Shirt by Denise Levertov

for S.P.

Folding a shirt, a woman stands
still for a moment, to recall
warmth of flesh; her careful hands

heavy on a sleeve, recall
a gesture, or the touch of love;
she leans against the kitchen wall,

listening for a word of love,
but only finds a sound like fear
running through the rooms above.

With folded clothes she folds her fear,
but cannot put desire away,
and cannot make the silence hear.

Unwillingly she puts away
the bread, the wine, the knife,
smooths the bed where lovers lay,

while time’s unhesitating knife
cuts away the living hours,
the common rituals of life.

London 1946


Date: 1946

By: Denise Levertov (1923-1997)

Friday, 26 June 2015

The Origin of Music by John Hanmer

“And his brother’s name was Jubal: he was the father of all such as handle the harp and the organ.” — Gen. c. 4.

The generations of the race of Cain,
Children and sire have vanished from the earth,
Yet do the arts they multiplied remain,
Though the wide heavens were opened and the rain
Whelmed with its flood the world’s sin-wasted birth;
Oh ’twas not in the revelling house of mirth
Deep music, that thy earliest strains were born,
But in the wandering dwellings and forlorn
Of those blood-haunted fugitives— -then first
Did sorrow find a loving utterance there.
And hope from thronging sounds divinely burst,
And thoughts rush forth that speech did never dare,
E’en their dread father less supremely curst
Seemed, in such accents mingling with their prayer.

From: Hanmer, John, Fra Cipolla and Other Poems, 1839, Edward Moxon: London, p. 129.

Date: 1839

By: John Hanmer (1809-1881)


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 502 other followers