Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Songs of a Fool: II. Wassail by Geraldine Meyrick

Come, drink a health to Folly,
And all her merry train;
Farewell to Melancholy,
And wit-benumbing Pain;
A Fool’s life should be jolly,
Or else he lives in vain.

Let laughter follow laughter,
No sign of sorrow fall;
Shake every beam and rafter,
Make tremble every wall;
For who knows what comes after?
Who knows when Death may call?

We all are Fools together
Not one of us is wise;
We prophecy the weather,
We lecture on the skies;
To-night we know not whether
The morrow’s sun shall rise.

So drink a health to Folly,
And all her merry train;
Farewell to Melancholv,
And wit-benumbing Pain;
A Fool’s life should be jolly,
Or else he lives in vain.

From: Meyrick, Geraldine, Songs of a Fool and Other Verses, 1895, Semi-Monthly Letter: San Jose, California, p. 9.

Date: 1895

By: Geraldine Meyrick (1872-1946)

Monday, 12 October 2015

On its being reported that Lord O——d repents by Cornelius Arnold

O Lord O——d! afflicted with the Stone, repents,
And shews, they say, great Signs of Penitence:
Who in the least can doubt his Reformation;
See! he refunds the Plunder of the Nation:
Of all his Funds, Refund he ne’er could like;
How forcibly the racking Stone can Strike!
Why do ye Wonder! Men of Parts so quick,
Repent much faster than the humdrum Sick;
One Hour with them more Sins doth wipe away,
Than Dull-Ones dreaming o’er their Beads a Day

NB. It is desir’d this may be look’d on only as an Excursion of Fancy, no Sarcasm being intended on his Lordship, to whom the Author had the Honour of, being personally known, and whom in private Life he greatly revered.

From: Arnold, C., Poems on Several Occasions, 1757, London, pp. 210-211.

Date: 1757

By: Cornelius Arnold (1711-?1757)

Sunday, 11 October 2015

A Song of Sir Richard Whittington, who by Strange Fortunes Came to bee Thrice Lord Mayor of London; with His Bountifull Guifts and Liberallity Given to This Honourable Citty by Richard Johnson

To the Tune of “Dainty come thou to me.”

Here must I tell the praise
Of worthy Whittington;
Known to be in his dayes
Thrice Mayor of London.
But of poor parentage
Borne was he, as we heare;
And in his tender age
Bred up in Lancashire.

Poorely to London than
Came up this simple lad;
Where, with a marchant-man,
Soone he a dwelling had;
And in a kitchen plast
A scullion for to be,
Whereas long time he past
In labour drudgingly.

His daily service was
Turning spitts at the fire,
And to scour pots of brasse,
For a poore scullions hire.
Meat and drinke all his pay,
Of coyne he had no store,
Therefore to run away,
In secret thought he bore.

So from this Marchant-man,
Whittington secretly
Towards his country ran,
To purchase liberty.
But, as he went along
In a fair summer morne,
London’s bells sweetly rung,
“Whittington back return.”

Evermore sounding so,
“Turn againe, Whittington,
For thou in time shall grow
Lord Mayor of London.”
Whereupon back againe
Whittington came with speed,
A prentise to remaine,
As the lord had decreed.

Still blessed be the bells:
This was his daily song,
“They my good fortune tells,
Most sweetly have they rung.
If God so favour me,
I will not proove unkind,
London my love shall see,
And my great bounties find.”

But see his happy chance:
This scullion had a cat,
Which did his state advance,
And by it wealth he gat.
His maister ventred forth,
To a land far unknown,
With marchandise of worth,
As is in stories showne.

Whittington had no more
But his poore cat as than,
Which, to the ship he bore,
Like a brave marchant man.
Vent’ring the same, quoth he,
“I may get store of golde,
And mayor of London be,
As the bells have me told.”

Whittington’s merchandise
Carried was to a land
Troubled with rats and mice,
As they did understand;
The king of that country, there
As he at dinner sat,
Daily remain’d in fear
Of many a mouse and rat.

Meat that in trenchers lay,
No way they could keepe safe,
But by rats borne away,
Fearing no wand or staffe.
Whereupon soone they brought
Whittington’s nimble cat,
Which by the king was bought;
Heapes of gold giv’n for that.

Home againe came these men
With their ships loaden so,
Whittington’s wealth began
By this cat thus to grow.
Scullions life he forsook
To be a marchant good,
And soon began to looke
How well his credit stood.

After that he was chose
Shriefe of the citty heere,
And then full quickly rose
Higher, as did appeare.
For to this cities praise,
Sir Richard Whittington
Came to be in his dayes,
Thrise Mayor of London.

More his fame to advance,
Thousands he lent his king,
To maintaine warres in France,
Glory from thence to bring.
And after, at a feast
Which he the king did make,
He burnt the bonds all in jeast,
And would no money take.

Ten thousand pound he gave
To his prince willingly,
And would not one penny have:
This in kind curtesie.
God did thus made him great;
So would he daily see
Poor people fed with meat,
To shew his charity.

Prisoners poore cherish’d were;
Widdowes sweet comfort found;
Good deeds both far and neere,
Of him do still resound.
Whittington Colledge is
One of his charities;
Records reporteth this,
To lasting memories.

Newgate he builded faire,
For prisoners to live in;
Christ’s-Church he did repaire,
Christian love for to win.
Many more such like deedes
Were done by Whittington,
Which joy and comfort breedes
To such as looke thereon.

Lancashire, thou hast bred
This flower of charity!
Though he be gon and dead,
Yet lives he lastingly.
Those bells that call’d him so,
“Turne again Whittington”
Call you back many moe
To live so in London.

From: Johnson, Richard and Chappell, W. (ed.), The Crown Garland of Golden Roses Consisting of Ballads and Songs by Richard Johnson, From the Edition of 1612, 1842, Percy Society: London, pp. 20-25.

Date: 1612

By: Richard Johnson (1573-c1659)

Saturday, 10 October 2015

The Wolf Was Sick by Walter Bower

The wolf was sick, he vowed a monk to be;
But when he got well, a wolf once more was he.

From: https://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Danger

Date: 1440-1447

By: Walter Bower (c1385-1449)

Friday, 9 October 2015

When the World Ends THIS is How It Will Be by Holly Hopkins

When the aliens came
they watched us prepare our offerings of scientists
for our final introduction.
The sinking of this ship, first class to the end
no chance of life pod or rescue
none whatsoever
Our final waltz.
Time to finger photographs in silver frames
the end of history.
No one speaks during our final waltz.
The music is everywhere on Earth, out in the void
loud and defiant
It played across the volume of space to heard in their tin
Our final waltz
the rest of our lives condenses
compressed into a few last minutes
life ripping out of our shirts
women in gowns sparkled, diamonds
life ripping bursting pushing forcing
Out Out
the end of monkeys.
Radios in the kitchen play
dinner jackets in ballrooms.
We grew thorny weeds to the light
and they came metal to harvest our rose.

From: http://poetrysociety.org.uk/poets/holly-hopkins/

Date: 1999

By: Holly Hopkins (19??- )

Thursday, 8 October 2015

The White Magnolia Tree by Helen Deutsch

The year when I was twenty-one,
(John that year was twenty-three)
That was the year, that was the spring,
We planted the white magnolia tree.

“This tree,” said John, “shall grow with us,
And every year it will bloom anew.
This is our life. This is our love.”
And the white magnolia tree grew and grew…

Oh, youth’ a thing of fire and ice,
And currents that run hot and white,
And its world is as bright as the sun…

I was twenty-one…
And I wore a plume in my hat.
And we went to the movies and wept over” Stella Dallas”,
And John sang “Moonlight and Roses”
(a little off-key, but very nicely really),

And we hurried through our crowded days
With beautiful plans, boundless ambitions, and golden decisions.
There is so much the young heart clamours for,
That it must have, and that it cannot live without,
And it must be all or nothing,
For aren’t we the masters of creation?

Oh, valiant and untamed were we,
When we planted the white magnolia tree!
And the white magnolia grew and grew,
Holding our love within its core,
And every year it bloomed anew,
And we were twenty-one no more.

No more untamed, no more so free,
Nor so young, nor so wild and aflame were we.
Dearer to us grew other things:
Easy sleep, books, a day’s quiet holiday,
Good talk beside a fire, the beauty of old faces…

We have known many things since then:
The death of a child and the bitter lesson
That a heart which breaks can mend itself again
(That it can and must be done),
And what loyalty can mean,
And how real a word like courage can become,
And that solitude can be rich and gratifying
And quite different from loneliness…

There is so little the serious heart requires:
Friends, faith, a window open to the world,
Pride in work well done,
And strength to live in a world at war
And still maintain the heart’s own private peace…

Dear Heaven, I give thanks to thee
For things I did not know before,
For the wisdom of maturity,
For bread, and a roof, and for one thing more…

Thanks because I still can see
The bloom on the white magnolia tree!

From: http://www.angelofoz.com/the_white_magnolia_tree_poem/

Date: 1950

By: Helen Deutsch (1906-1992)

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Truth at Last by Edward Rowland Sill

Does a man ever give up hope, I wonder, —
Face the grim fact, seeing it clear as day?
When Bennen* saw the snow slip, heard its thunder
Low, louder, roaring round him, felt the speed
Grow swifter as the avalanche hurled downward,
Did he for just one heart-throb — did he indeed
Know with all certainty, as they swept onward,
There was the end, where the crag dropped away?
Or did he think, even till they plunged and fell,
Some miracle would stop them? Nay, they tell
That he turned round, face forward, calm and pale,
Stretching his arms out toward his native vale
As if in mute, unspeakable farewell,
And so went down. — ‘T is something, if at last,
Though only for a flash, a man may see
Clear-eyed the future as he sees the past,
From doubt, or fear, or hope’s illusion free.

*Johann Joseph Bennen (1824-1864) was a Swiss mountain guide. He made several first ascents of Swiss mountains and was killed in an avalanche on the Haut de Cry in the Bernese Alps. He is said to have turned to face the avalanche with outstretched arms. A full contemporary account by one of the climbing party (John Tindall) who survived can be found here: http://travel.yodelout.com/the-alps-death-of-bennen-on-the-haut-de-cry/.

From: http://www.theotherpages.org/poems/sill01.html

Date: 1887

By: Edward Rowland Sill (1841-1887)

Tuesday, 6 October 2015

A-La-Mode by Elijah Fenton

‘My better self, my heaven, my joy!
While thus imparadised I lie,
Transported in thy circling arms
With fresh variety of charms;
From Fate I scarce can think to crave
A bliss, but what in thee I have.
Twelve months, my dear, have pass’d, since thou
Didst plight to me thy virgin vow;
Twelve months in rapture spent! for they
Seem shorter than St. Lucy’s day:
A bright example we shall prove
Of lasting matrimonial love.

‘Meanwhile, I beg the gods to grant,
(The only favour that I want)
That I may not survive, to see
My happiness expire with thee.
O! should I lose my dearest dear,
By thee, and all that’s good, I swear,
I’d give myself the fatal blow,
And wait thee to the world below.’

When Wheedle thus to spouse in bed
Spoke the best things he e’er had read;
Madam, surprised, (you must suppose it)
Had lock’d a Templar in the closet;
A youth of pregnant parts, and worth,
To play at piquet, and so forth—
This wag, when he had heard the whole,
Demurely to the curtain stole,
And, peeping in, with solemn tone
Cried out, ‘O man! thy days are done-;
The gods are fearful of the worst,
And send me, Death, to fetch thee first;
To save their favourite from self-murder,
Lo! thus I execute their order.’
‘Hold, sir! for second thoughts are best,
(The husband cried): ’Tis my request,
With pleasure to prolong my life.’
‘Your meaning ?’—‘Pray, sir, take my wife.’

From: Pomfret, John and Fenton, Elijah, The Poems of Pomfret and Fenton. British Poets. Including Translations. In One Hundred Volumes. Volume XXIX, 1822, C. Whittingham: Chiswick, pp. 224-25.

Date: 1707

By: Elijah Fenton (1683-1730)

Monday, 5 October 2015

The Common People by Rowland Watkyns

Neutrum modò, mas modo vulgus.

The many-headed Hydra, or the People,
Now build the Church, then pull down Bells and Steeple:
Today for learned Bishops, and a King,
They shout with one consent; tomorrow sing
A different note: One while the people cry
To Christ Hosanna; then him crucifie:
And thus the wavering multitude will be
Constant in nothing but inconstancie:
When these together swarm, the Kingdom fears;
They are as fierce as Tygers, rude as Bears.

From: R.W., Flamma sine fumo, or, Poems without fictions hereunto are annexed the causes, symptoms, or signes of several diseases with their cures, and also the diversity of urines, with their causes in poeticl measures, 2011, Text Creation Partnership: Ann Arbor, Michigan and Oxford, p. 35.

Date: 1662

By: Rowland Watkyns (c1614-1664)

Sunday, 4 October 2015

Hardy by Robert Mezey

Thrown away at birth, he was recovered,
Plucked from the swaddling-shroud, and chafed and slapped,
The crone implacable.  At last he shivered,
Drew the first breath, and howled, and lay there, trapped
In a world from which there is but one escape
And that forestalled now almost ninety years.
In such a scene as he himself might shape,
The maker of a thousand songs appears.

From this it follows, all the ironies
Life plays on one whose fate it is to follow
The way of things, the suffering one sees,
The many cups of bitterness he must swallow
Before he is permitted to be gone
Where he was headed in that early dawn.

From: http://www.thehypertexts.com/robert%20mezey%20poet%20poetry%20picture%20bio.htm

Date: 1995

By: Robert Mezey (1935- )


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 510 other followers