Monday, 16 January 2017

Late Winter Early Morning Snow by Robert Dana

Pewter-light. Black
ganglia of bare trees
and a brown townscape
sugared over with thin,
late snow; the early
morning streets, silent;
empty; not a serious
thought awake in them.
And all this only my
words in the cold air
of this white page;
frail breath of a net
set to snare the first
bird that flies, stiff
in its feathers, or struts
these dormant lawns,
fluting and penny-whistling,
cocky as a robin on ice.


Date: 1998

By: Robert Dana (1929-2010)

Sunday, 15 January 2017

Light on the Clouds by Augusta Theodosia Drane

I question not their vision keen
Who scan the pure transparent air
To mark each cloudlet floating there
As stains upon the pure serene.

Such gauzy films are veils, they say,
That come between us and our end;
And human lovings do but tend
To hide the greater Love away.

They count the heart a heap of dust
To chasten only and deny:
I know them holier far than I,
And yet I hold another trust.

For I have seen those cloudlets shine
With glory blazoned from above,
And I have known a human love
Reflect on earth a ray divine.

From: Drane, Augusta Theodosia, Songs in the Night and Other Poems, 2nd Edition, 1887, Burns & Oates: London and Catholic Publication Society Co: New York,, pp. 137-137.

Date: 1876

By: Augusta Theodosia Drane (1823-1894)

Saturday, 14 January 2017

Impromptu on Being Requested to Write Some Verses by Mary Whateley Darwall

By the softly-murm’ring stream,
Where I fondly us’d to dream,
O’er the daisy-painted lawn,
Where I met the meek-ey’d dawn;
Thro’ the grove or up the mountain,
Or beside some mossy fountain,
Where I wander’d, oft befriended
By the muse, who then attended
Ev’ry rural haunt I sought,
Sooth’d each care, improv’d each thought;—
Now alas! in vain I rove:—
Nor fountain, lawn, nor dale nor grove
Can inspire the tuneful strain.
Youth is fled, and fancy’s train,
Ever flitting on the wing,
Follow HEBE and the spring.

From: Darwall, Mary Whateley, Poems on Several Occasions by Mrs. Darwall (formerly Miss Whateley) in Two Volumes, Volume I, 1794, F. Milward: London, pp. 81-82.

Date: 1794

By: Mary Whateley Darwall (1738-1825)

Friday, 13 January 2017

Taut Logic by David Rosenthal

Whatever has become, has come to be.
Whatever is to be, will surely come.
I only find such statements troublesome
because I find such statements trouble me:
the more I try to get to where I’ll be,
the more I find I come from where I’m from—
the addends always add up to the sum,
and I can only see just what I see.

And what I see most clearly is most clear:
no matter where I go, I’m always here—
an overused cliché, I know, but true.
No matter how I strive and persevere,
or slack and idle, I can never do
a fraction more or less than what I do.


Date: 2011

By: David Rosenthal (19??- )

Thursday, 12 January 2017

Various Effects of Love by Félix Lope de Vega y Carpio

To be fainthearted, to be bold, possessed,
abrasive, tender, open, isolated,
spirited, dying, dead, invigorated,
loyal, treacherous, venturesome, repressed.

Not to find, without your lover, rest.
To seem happy, sad, haughty, understated,
emboldened, fugitive, exasperated,
satisfied, offended, doubt-obsessed.

To face away from disillusionment,
to swallow venom like liqueur, and quell
all thoughts of gain, embracing discontent;

to believe a heaven lies within a hell,
to give your soul to disillusionment;
that’s love, as all who’ve tasted know too well.


Date: 1634 (original in Spanish); 2012 (translation in English)

By: Félix Lope de Vega y Carpio (1562-1635)

Translated by: David Rosenthal (19??- )

Wednesday, 11 January 2017

A Tale of Two Swannes by William Vallans

When nature nurse of every living thing,
Had clad her charge in brave and new aray:
The hils rejoyst to see themselves so fine:
The fields, and woods grew proud therof also:
The medowes with their partie coloured coates,
Like to the Rainebow in the azur’d skie,
Gave just occasion to the cheerefull birdes,
With sweetest note, to sing their nurses praise.
Among the which, the merrie Nightingale
With swete and swete, (her brest against a thorne)
Ringes out all night the never ceasing laudes
Of God, the author of her nursse and all.

About this time, the Lady Venus viewd,
The fruitfull fieldes of Hartfordshire:
And saw the river, and the meades thereof
Fit for to breede her birdes of greatest prise.
She calles in haste for winged Mercurie,
And sendes him to Cayster, silver streame:
Fetch me (saith he) two Cignets of the best,
And in the Laund, hard by the parke of Ware,
Where Fanshawe buildes for his succeeding race,
Thy speedie comming I will there await.
The messenger of all the heavenly court,
Makes haste away to doo his mistresse quest:
And from the brood two Cignets of esteeme
He sleely takes, unseene of any Swannes,
Which in that river be so plentifull.

To Ware he comes, and to the Launde he flies,
Where Venus, like the Goddesse of great Love,
Sate lovely by the running river side,
Tuning her Lute unto the waters fall;
Wherewith she did record the love and armes
Of mightie Mars, the God of dreadfull warre.

The present come, she layeth downe her Lute,
And takes these Cignets of so great esteeme,
Throwing them both into her river Lee:
And posted straight up, to the throne of Jove,
Where lovely, like to verie love it selfe,
Shee set her selfe, upon her yeelding knee,
And craves of him but onely this request,
That her two Swannes might prosper in the streame,
And rule the rest, as worthie King and Queene.

The mightie Jove, unwilling to denie
His daughters sute, for feare of further ill,
Graunts her request: and more to pleasure her,
Saith, that these two so fruitfull shall become,
That all the Swannes, yea, the verie Thames
Shall be replenisht with their princely race.
Uenus yeeldes thankes, and hastes her selfe away,
To mount Troclya, where she tooke her rest.

Long lived these Swannes in Lee, with great increase
Of honour, royaltie, and in high estate:
Inricht with issue of the fayrest breede,
That lives in Severne, Humber or in Trent,
The chiefest floudes that water English ground.
Three times had Venus us’d them for to draw
Her Ivory Chariot, through the loftie ayre.
A speciall favour (as the Poets say)
Graunted to such, as she holdes in accompt.

Now as these Swannes began to waxen old,
As time outweares eche creature that doth live:
It pleased them to send throughout their realme,
For all their subjectes of the highest bloud:
With full intent to make a progresse cleane,
Throughout their land to see the boundes thereof,
And every brooke that harbours anie Swanne,
With all the Isles that unto them belong.
No sooner was this message knowne abroad,
But there resorted to their being place,
Such troupes of milke-white Swannes, as well beseem’d
The royall state of two such princes great.
Among which troupes, the King and Queene made choise
Of fortie Swannes of high and royall bloud,
For to attend upon their Majesties.
Then looke how Cynthia with her silver rayes,
Exceedes the brightnesse of the lesser starres,
When in her chiefest pompe she hasteth downe,
To steale a kisse from drousie Endymion:
So doe these princes farre excell in state,
The Swannes that breede within Europaes boundes.

And in this pompe, they hie them to the head,
Whence Lee doth spring, not farre from Kempton towne,
And swiftly comming downe through Brooke-hall parke,
Leaves Whethamsted, so called of the corne:
By Bishops-Hatfield then they come along,
Seated not farre from antient Verolane:
His Citie, that first did spend his blessed life,
In just maintaining of our Christian faith.

When they had past Hartingfordbury towne,
A quite contrarie course they doe finde out:
And though it were some labour gainst the streame,
To trace this River, feeding christall Lee:
Yet worthily they holde their first resolve,
And up by Tewing, wide of Butlers house,
To Digswell haste, where Horsley dwelt of late:
And then to Welwine, passing well beknowne,
And noted for a worthie stratagem:
I meame the Danes, who on S. Bryces night,
Were stoughtly murdred by their women foes:
To Whitwell short, whereof doth burbling rise
The spring, that makes this little river runne.

Thence backe againe unto the chiefest towne,
Of all the shire, and greatest of accompt,
Defended with a Castle of some strength,
Well walled, dyched, and amended late,
By her, the onely mirror of the world,
Our gracious Queene and Prince ELIZABETH.

Not far from hence, stands many a milkewhite Swanne,
Attending for to entertaine their Prince:
Among the which, was one of chiefe accompt,
That busked up his winges in greatest pride,
And so salutes this worthie companie:
And with a speeche that well did him beseeme,
He tels how that neere Walkhorne Capels seate,
The Bene doth rise, and gives his proper name
To Benington, and so to Watton runnes:
And then by Staplefoord, to Beneghoo heere,
Where we, with all the Swannes and Cignets both,
That live in Bene, doe rest at your command.
Right graciously the Princes tooke his speeche:
And so departed towardes Edwardes Ware,
But ere they come unto the Meade or Laund,
Where Venus first did put them in estate,
They passed up a river of good depth,
The greatest branch that feedeth christall Lee:
With speedie pace (as Swannes doe use to swimme)
They passe to Wadesmill, and to Thundrich Church,
And so to Standon, honoured with the house
Of worthie Sadler Knight, and Counseller
To all the children of King Henry seventh:
Whose sonne surviving, holdes the verie path,
That leades to vertue and to honours throne.
By Puckhridge likewise they doe swiftly passe:
And so to Horne-meade more and lesse, and then
To Withthall, to Buckland and to Barckway both,
Where is the head and verie utmost bound
Of this surpassing cleere and goodly streame.

Returning backe againe, the companie
Were marshalled and set in order brave.
And this was done least that undecently
They should passe by the guested towne of Ware.
Thus ordered, they come by Byrches house.
That whilom was the brothers Priers place
Then by the Crowne, and all the Innes of Ware:
And so approching to the late built bridge,
They see the barges lading malt apace:
And people wondering at so great a troope:
Among the which, a man whose silver heares
Seem’d to excell the whitenesse of the rest,
Bespake them thus.

Long have I lived, and by this bridge was borne,
Yet never saw I such a companie:
So well beseene, so ordered, and so faire:
Nay (as I thinke) the age that is by past,
Nor yet the same that after shall insue
Never beheld, nor lookt upon the like.
The people listened to this aged man,
As one they loved, and held in reverence.

And as they stoode, behold a sodaine chance:
From South-side of the bridge, hard by the same,
Two goodly Swannes, with Cignets full fifteene
Presents themselves, and theirs unto the Prince:
Excusing well their slackenesse, and offence
In not appearing at their first command.
The Queene beholding such a goodly broode,
Receiv’d them all, and pardoned everie misse:
Demanding where they us’d, and all their state,
After a becke in signe of humble thankes,
The Cocke made answere with a modest grace.

A place there is, not farre from hence (O king)
A chalkie hill, beneath the same a hole,
Cal’d Chadwell head, whence issues out a streame,
That runnes behind broad Meade that you see heere:
A little rill, yet great inough for us,
And these our breede, yet (gratious Prince) behold
A tale there is delivered unto us
From hand to hand, how that a hunted ducke,
Diving within this Chalk-well head or hole,
Was forced underneath the hollow ground
To swimme along by waies that be unknowne:
And afterward at Amwell spring (they say)
Was taken up all fetherlesse and bare.

The King and Lordes tooke pleasure at the tale:
And so made haste quite through the arched bridge,
To Amwell, when they easilie did espie
The spring and rill that comes out of the hill:
And is supposed to rise at Chadwell head.

Beneath the same comes downe a little streame
That fosters Swannes, and comes from Haddam small:
And so by Haddam, where the Bishops house
Hath bene of long, and so to Wydford towne:
And here at Amwell falles into the river Lee.

Then troupes this traine to Stanstead, called Le Thele,
And Stanstead where as Bashe did lately build,
Whose sonne yeeldes hope of vertue worth the place,
And livinges which his father purchast him.

And here againe out of the kingly streame
They passe by Roydon through little Estwyke quite:
Then they salute Hunsdon the nurserie
And foster house of thrise renowmed Swannes:
Whose honour, and whose noble progenie
Gives glorie to that honourable house:
Lord, how they live all glorious as the sunne,
With tipes, and titles fit for their degree,
As kinsmen to our most redoubted Queene,
And men of high desert unto the state.

From hence to Sapsford, and to Starford, cald
The Bishops: then to Farnam and to Maunder,
And so to Clavering, where it riseth first,
And then comes downe againe into the Lee.

From Stansted unto Hodsdon goe these Swannes,
From thence to Broxborne, and to Wormley wood
And so salute the holy house of Nunnes,
That late belongd to captaine Edward Dennie,
A knight in Ireland of the best accompt
Who late made execution on our foes,
I meane of Spanyardes, that with open armes
Attempted both against our Queene and us:
There now lord Talbot keepes a noble house:

Now see these Swannes the new and worthie seate
Of famous Cicill, treasoror of the land,
Whose wisedome, counsell, skill of Princes state
The world admires, then Swannes may doe the same:
The house it selfe doth shewe the owners wit,
And may for bewtie, state, and every thing,
Compared be with most within the land.

Downe all along through Waltham street they passe,
And wonder at the ruines of the Abbay,
Late supprest, the walles, the walkes, the monumentes,
And everie thing that there is to be seene:
Among them all a rare devise they see,
But newly made, a waterworke: the locke
Through which the boates of Ware doe passe with malt,
This locke containes two double doores of wood,
Within the same a Cesterne all of Plancke,
Which onely fils when boates come there to passe
By opening anie of these mightie dores with sleight,
And strange devise, but now decayed sore.
And as they stayed here, thy chaunst to see
The stately crosse of Elnor, Henries wise
Then Enfield house that longes unto our Queene,
They all behold, and with due reveverence
Salute the same.

From hence by Hackney, Leyton, and old-Foord,
They come to Stratford, cal’d also the Bowe:
And underneath the bridge that thwartes the streame
And partes the shires of Middlesex, and Essex both
At last (though long and wearie was their way)
They come unto the mouth of river Lee,
Where all the Swannes of that part of the Thames
Attend t’ see this royall companie:
So that from Woolwich to Blackwall was seene
Nor water, nor the medowes thereabout,
For looke how in a frostie night or day,
When Snowe hath fallen thicke upon the ground,
Eche gasing eye is daseled with the sight,
So Lillie-white was land and strand beseene
With these faire Swannes, the birdes of lovely love.

After a noyse in signe of passing joy,
A Swane of Thames invites the King and Queene
Upon a day prefixt, to see and celebrate
The marriage of two Rivers of great name.
Which granted, everie one departes his way,
The King and Queene againe into their Lee:
Where yet they live in health and happie state,
Or if not so, they dyed but of late.


Date: 1590

By: William Vallans (fl. 1578-1590)

Tuesday, 10 January 2017

Falling Rain by Stephen Kenneth Kelen

Clouds bring the news from where they’ve been
the rain birds feel and warble the rain song
and the rain song hung in the air like skywriting
the smell of rain and the cloud’s soft taste
the serious duty to make rain welcome
at least to watch the drops fall onto a page
of a book about clouds and falling rain —
see the trees are happy the first time in months
far thunder laughs (chariot) a few rain drops
lightning wind when the sky floods us
there’s only the song of the rain and the lawn
is a green hymn to water falling from the sky.


Date: 2004

By: Stephen Kenneth Kelen (1956- )

Monday, 9 January 2017

Dark Between Empires by Christopher Kelen

a passage of steps
in the dark between empires

I live in a box
worm burrowed
patched of old packing
in which the salt washes

deep in the grain
lured along with a flute

red painted
on Christmas lights a tide
moss shining with the rain

this is where the princess fled
the inflated courtesan was chased
into a fog of streets
the prince followed

streets folded away
inhabitants vanished
the cauldron was rolled in behind doors

from a crack in the cabinet
see the passage of ships
sometimes mist clears
Peru hoves in sight

the ruins rise with each lapse of attention
a temple crops up in the street

but mainly the dice still roll with the decks
ivory on felt on timber

a revelation with the moon
which does the business of the goddess
to strike the silver sea.


Date: 2016

By: Christopher Kelen (1958- )

Sunday, 8 January 2017

Crossing Peng Ze Lake by Meng Jiao

the boat sighs in this lonely breeze
five willows no one has planted

thin ice on the lake
the rain too is thin

the empty boat
drifts home


Date: 8th century (original in Mandarin); 2005 (translation in English)

By: Meng Jiao (751-814)

Translated by: Christopher Kelen (1958- )

Saturday, 7 January 2017

Two Paths by Richard Parker

I came to a division;
Along the one grassy turn to left
Leaf-logged and dewy-grassed and mulched
With fosse and pool and fosse and pool,
Danced black monsters at the path sides
You might see move like steel firing, bellows through the ribs
As, icy, the creatures’ clean clear minds
They knew knowing between the vines
Under dockleaf and cowslip.

While to right, a clearing, out-spreading and open
And in the trees interstellar entropy,
Torpor. On one path white chill clouds
And rolling grey, with swatches of that rimey blue–
Above the other conjecturally you see the stars spin
Or flashing and popping.

I needn’t state the path I trod,
Or my head thick and buzzing against the molten gale,
That one might fall out of life and into the autonomous.
Blackness and blackness.


Date: 2014

By: Richard Parker (19??- )