Monday, 24 July 2017

Pharoah by Lucia Maria Perillo

In the saltwater aquarium at the pain clinic
lives a yellow tang
who chews the minutes in its cheeks
while we await our unguents and anesthesias.

The big gods offer us this little god
before the turning of the locks
in their Formica cabinets
in the rooms of our interrogation.

We have otherwise been offered magazines
with movie stars whose shininess
diminishes as the pages lose
their crispness as they turn.

But the fish is undiminishing, its face
like the death mask of a pharaoh
which remains while the mortal face
gets disassembled by the microbes of the tomb.

And because our pain is ancient,
we too will formalize our rituals with blood
leaking out around the needle
when the big gods try but fail

to find the bandit vein. It shrivels when pricked,
and they’ll say I’ve lost it
and prick and prick until the trouble’s brought
to the pale side of the other elbow

from which I wrench my head away—
but Pharaoh you do not turn away.
You watch us hump past with our walkers
with the tennis balls on their hind legs,

your sideways black eye on our going
down the corridor to be caressed
by the hand with the knife and the hand with the balm
when we are called out by our names.


Date: 2010

By: Lucia Maria Perillo (1958-2016)

Sunday, 23 July 2017

Commando by John Stanier Waller

He was too young to know the world they knew
Who were its movers; he was only
A child in their terrible hands. When he dreamt
It was of a knight wandering lonely
Through a dark forest. They used his dreams
For their own deeds of moonlight and peril.

He remained cheerful but always dreadfully alone
As he learnt how to throw bombs, gouge eyes, or find
How with a certain twist one can break a man’s neck.
Raids were his joy; he would return almost blind
With the feel of blood, go home and drink
In a kind of forgetfulness; he was envied for that.

You see, all these things were like dreams.
Each horror had its own particular place
In his nightmare; and there at the end
Stood the fair lady, the savior of his race.
That is how it should have ended; but he died, with love
The only frontier that now he could never cross.


Date: 1945

By: John Stanier Waller (1917-1995)

Saturday, 22 July 2017

Derelict by Elisabeth Jones Cavazza Pullen

She wanders up and down the main
Without a master, nowhere bound;
The currents turn her round and round,
Her track is like a tangled skein;
And never helmsman by his chart
So strange a way as hers may steer
To enter port or to depart
For any harbor far or near.

The waters clamor at her sides,
The winds cry through her cordage torn,
The last sail hangs, to tatters worn;
Upon the waves the vessel rides
This way or that, as winds may shift,
In ghastly dance when airs blow balm,
Or held in a lethargic calm,
Or fury-hunted, wild, adrift.

When south winds blow, does she recall
Spices and golden fruits in store?
Or north winds—nets off Labrador
And icebergs’ iridescent wall?
Or east—the isles of Indian seas?
Or west—new ports and sails unfurled?
Her voyages all around the world
To mock her with old memories?

For her no light-house sheds a ray
Of crimson warning from its tower;
No watchers wait in hope the hour
To greet her coming up the bay;
No trumpet speaks her, hearty, hoarse—
Or if a captain hail at first,
He sees her for a thing accursed,
And turns his own ship from her course.

Alone, in desperate liberty
She forges on; and how she fares
No man alive inquires, or cares
Though she were sunk beneath the sea.
Her helm obeys no firm control,
She drifts—a prey for storms to take,
For sands to clutch, for rocks to break—
A ship condemned, like a lost soul.


Date: c1895

By: Elisabeth Jones Cavazza Pullen (1849-1926)

Friday, 21 July 2017

Charity. A Poem by Mary Heron

When frigid winter binds the barren soil,
And famine hangs impending o’er the isle,
Do thou celestial charity descend,
Neglected poverty’s unshaken friend,
Bid every breast with generous pity glow,
Fill every heart with sympathetic woe,
Nor let them only see and feel alone,
But kindly make each piercing want their own.
Oh you, whom fortune’s bounteous favours bless,
Think on your fellow creatures in distress;
How many droop beneath a load of pain,
With “poverty’s cold wind and crushing rain!”
Unhappy sufferers every where behold
Pining with hunger, shivering with cold;
There see each complicated woe contend,
Without a comfort, and without a friend:
Then fly, Oh fly, and give them quick relief,
Baffle each want, and mitigate each grief;
Thro’ all the bleak inclement haunts of woe,
Bid pure benevolence unbounded flow;
So shall their mingled prayers ascending rise,
And for your blessings reach the utmost skies;
Th’ ascenting skies their grateful prayers shall crown,
And pour diffusive every blessing down.

Jan. 12th, 1783.

From: Heron, Mary, Miscellaneous Poems, 1786, T. Saint: Newcastle, pp. 31-32.

Date: 1783

Date: Mary Heron (fl. 1786-1792)

Thursday, 20 July 2017

Lucius’s Song from “The Rivall Friends” by Peter Hausted

Have pitty (Griefe) I can not pay
The tribute which I owe thee, teares;
Alas those Fountaines are growne dry,
And tis in vaine to hope supyly
From others eyes, for each man boares
Enough about him of his owne
To spend his stock of teares upon.

Wooe then the heavens (gentle Love)
To melt a Cloud for my reliefe
Or wooe the Deepe or wooe the Grave,
Wooe what thou wilt so I may have
Wherewith to pay my debt, for Griefe
Has vow’d, unlesse I quickly pay
To take both life and love away.

From: Hausted, Peter, The rivall friends A comœdie, as it was acted before the King and Queens Maiesties, when out of their princely favour they were pleased to visite their Vniversitie of Cambridge, upon the 19. day of March. 1631. Cryed downe by boyes, faction, envie, and confident ignorance, approv’d by the judicious, and now exposed to the publique censure, by the author, Pet. Hausted Mr. in Artes of Queenes Colledge, 2009, Text Creation Partnership: Ann Arbor, Michigan and Oxford, pp. [unnumbered].

Date: 1631

By: Peter Hausted (c1605-1644)

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Excerpt from “Hymnus Tabaci a Poem in Honour of Tabaco” by Raphael Thorius

The twice-born Liber seeing that his Foes
(Whom the parch’d desart Cliffs as yet inclose)
Had furious war begun, with hot alarms,
Doth call his Ivy-crowned troops to arms,
And the swift Lynxes to be yoak’d, commands;
The great Bassarides in order’d bands,
March with their valiant Leader to the Field;
And all his furious Priests obedience yield
To his behests, and follow: nor yet will
Silenus (though grown old) at home sit still.
The Drugdges and the Carriages go next,
And amongst them is led (an ample Text,
For Antiquaries to glosse on) the sage
Silenus saddle-Asse, grown lame with age;
The fearfull Indians here and there do fly;
And while they sought their flying enemy,
The weary Troops having too long in vain
Wandred about upon the sandy Plain,
Grow faint, and their provisions all are spent,
And Bacchus wants what he himself first lent
Unto us Men, the liquor of the Vine.
(Pity that he who gave, should e’re lack Wine!)
The old mans Vessel too being quite drawn dry,
Does in this Chariot overturned ly.
The Maenades and Satyrs, and the rout
Of untam’d youth (impatient of the drought)
Do wound the intrals of their Mother Earth,
Longing to see some gentle spring gush forth.
But all in vain, necessity makes them bold
To taste the salt drink; their own bladder hold
Unnatural draughts! but yet such is their woe,
That those unnatural draughts do fail them too.
So Tyrant-like, Thirst in their bodies reigns,
All moisture does forsake their dryed veins.
The sterner face of horrour now controls
The sinking Troops; Some breathe their toasted souls
Out of their reeking jaws; others are found
To own borrow supplies from their mutual wound;
Who finding too those Fountains to grow dry,
In a despair drink their last Cup and dy.

Note: Liber is another name for the god Bacchus (also known as Dionysus), traditionally considered the god of wine, winemaking, the grape harvest, fertility and madness. According to mythology, he was twice born as his mother, Semele, asked to see Zeus unmasked to prove that he was the father of her baby. Despite Zeus’s warning that this would kill her, she insisted and died when he revealed himself. Zeus then rescued the unborn Dionysus and sewed him into his thigh. Dionysus was later released/born from Zeus’s thigh.

Bacchus was associated with the lynx, a type of large hunting cat, although the exact species meant is unknown and it is sometimes referred to as a leopard or panther. The other creatures mentioned, such as bassarides, maenads and satyrs, are all followers of Bacchus. Silenus was Bacchus’ companion and tutor and is usually depicted as an old man riding an ass (or donkey).

From: Thorius, Raphael and Hausted, Peter, Hymnus tabaci a poem in honour of tabaco. Heroïcally composed by Raphael Thorius: made English by Peter Hausted Mr of Arts Camb. 2009, Text Creation Partnership: Ann Arbor, Michigan and Oxford, pp. 14-15.

Date: 1610 (original in Latin); 1651 (published translation in English)

By: Raphael Thorius (15??-1625)

Translated by: Peter Hausted (c1605-1644)

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

The Authors Farewell to England, and to his Most Intier Friend I. M. Esquyer by Thomas Bradshaw

The growing hatred of my deadly foe,
Which groning lamentation would forgo:
Doth more inforce me when I weep & waile,
As doth the roaring wind the raging saile.
And as the tempest is increast with raine:
So watrie teares my dririe cares maintaine.
The sprowts of yong invention limber shake,
Like Willowes made by calmest gale to quake.
Mistres Experience, youthfull wittes shee rypes:
But all her knowledge costeth pinching strypes.
Jove all my labours bringeth unto nought:
For that against his will my wit hath wrought.
Wit learne to will, not by sinistier driftes:
Wit learne to will, not by thy privie shiftes.
Learne wit to will, not by unlawfull helpes:
Learne wit that will is one of Carelesse whelps.
And as a thing untimely brought to light:
Which being blind, is fittest for the night.
For when in secret bed like grave I lye,
Thoughts aptest are unfittest things to spye.
Wit learne to will all things encounter will
Wit learne to will thy base intents to kill.
Learne wit to will no more wealth by deceit,
Lest wit & will be caught with beggers beight.
Tall Cedars, Pyne trees, & aspiring states,
Have humble shrubs & valleis to their mates.
When whirling winde on high things taketh hold:
Then in the vale is lesser blast of cold.
The meane betwixt both high and lowe is best:
Therein the Author setteth up his rest.

From: Bradshaw, Thomas, The shepherds starre now of late seene, and at this hower to be obserued merueilous orient in the East: which bringeth glad tydings to all that may behold her brightnes, hauing the foure elements with the foure capitall vertues in her, which makes her elementall and a vanquishor of all earthly humors. Described by a gentleman late of the right worthie and honorable the Lord Burgh, his companie & retinue in the Briell in North-holland, 1591, Robert Robinson for William Jones: London, p. [unnumbered].

Date: 1591

By: Thomas Bradshaw (fl. 1591)

Monday, 17 July 2017

Who Eats, Drinks, and Makes Merry by Debayudh Chatterjee

Forever with the light and darkness and melancholy and love
Whatever it needs, I shall sumptuously be fed on
Before death or after, from behind or in front
In slumber or in awakening, whatever life gifts
I shall eat them and gulp down like a faithful mutt

I really cherish living
In my past, present , future or in doomed days
Whenever you burn me
I shall be ablaze in magnificent flames
And devour and gulp down and eat whatever that comes

Like putting my tongue inside your lips at foreplay
My corpse shall delve into
A sea of fire rippling with love-
The furnace that ends everything.


Date: 2012

By: Debayudh Chatterjee (1991- )

Sunday, 16 July 2017

Dedication Page from “Selected Poems” by Utpal Kumar Basu

One day, when its time, sit beside these verses
And pull it closer to you, like a broken table and keep a steaming tumbler
On it’s letters. Keep a jar of water and hear a cough or two,
Spit, yawn, close eyes in drowsiness… as if deaf

Doesn’t hear unwanted truths. Lies. And this, it’s witty cunningness
Is recent and without conscience. Doesn’t even bother to know-
who its neighbours are
Or read someone else- It dreads the unknown- and that time
Returned from the sea with a fistful of pebbles… Give him too much of

Petty household choirs. Keep accounts. And make him
toil with futility- unacknowledged
As much as you can- And let me hand you over
That night’s cremation, rituals aftermath, drenched shoots-
Bundles of unused clothes, blind, insanity… Take a look when you can.


Date: ?1964 (original in Bengali); 2010 (translation in English)

By: Utpal Kumar Basu (1939-2015)

Translated by: Debayudh Chatterjee (1991- )

Saturday, 15 July 2017

No Question by George Hill Dillon

Seeing at last how each thing here beneath
The glimmering stars is lawful: having found
By a wide watch how scrupulously Death
To keep his tacit promises is bound,
How from their vagrance the disbanded dusts
Resume integrity in blood or bloom,
How punctually the sun-struck red rose thrusts
Its rigid flame into the golden gloom;

Knowing that ultimate prospect where appears
The accurate ebb and flood of furious water,
The undirected wind’s clean course, the sphere’s
Deliberate strong spinning, I would utter
No question now, nor prosecute in words
Why birds must fly, seeing the flight of birds.


Date: 1925

By: George Hill Dillon (1906-1968)