Friday, 6 May 2016

The Female Patriots, Address’d to the Daughters of Liberty in America, 1768 by Hannah Griffitts

Since the Men from a Party, on fear of a Frown,
Are kept by a Sugar-Plumb, quietly down.
Supinely asleep, & deprived of their Sight
Are stripped of their Freedom, and robbed of their Right.
If the Sons (so degenerate) the Blessing despise,
Let the Daughters of Liberty, nobly arise,
And tho’ we’ve no Voice, but a negative here.
The use of the Taxables, let us forebear,
(Then Merchants import till yr. Stores are all full
May the Buyers be few & yr. Traffic be dull.)
Stand firmly resolved & bid Grenville [English Minister George] to see
That rather than Freedom, we’ll part with our Tea.
And well as we love the dear Draught when a dry,
As American Patriots, our Taste we deny,
Sylvania’s, gay Meadows, can richly afford,
To pamper our Fancy, or furnish our Board,
And Paper sufficient (at home) still we have,
To assure the Wise-acre, we will not sign Slave.
When this Homespun shall fail, to remonstrate our Grief
We can speak with the Tongue or scratch on a Leaf.
Refuse all their Colors, the richest of Dye,
The juice of a Berry – our Paint can supply,
To humour our Fancy – and as for our Houses,
They’ll do without painting as well as our Spouses,
While to keep out the Cold of a keen winter Morn
We can screen the Northwest, with a well polished Horn,
And trust me a Woman by honest Invention
Might give this State Doctor a Dose of Prevention.
Join mutual in this, & but small as it seems
We may Jostle a Grenville & puzzle his Schemes
But a motive more worthy our patriot Pen,
Thus acting – we point out their Duty to Men,
And should the bound Pensioners, tell us to hush
We can throw back the Satire by biding them blush.


Date: 1768

By: Hannah Griffitts (1727-1817)

Thursday, 5 May 2016

Excerpt from “The historie of that wise and fortunate prince, Henrie of that name the seventh, King of England With that famed battaile, fought betweene the sayd King Henry and Richard the third named Crookbacke, upon Redmoore neere Bosworth. In a poem” by Charles Aleyn

And thus he spoke. If punishment, and sinne
Are borne at once, then cannot Richard dreame,
But that in Heav’n his hath for vengeance beene:
For murders have low’d voyces, and the Steame,
Which fumes from blood, doth teare the clouds in sunder
Such exhalations can breed nought but thunder.

Thinke that you heare his slaughterd Brother cry,
And beg your almes of vengeance on his brother:
Thinke that you see his Nephewes smothered lye
In Bed, exchanging one sleepe for another.
And now heele wed his Neece, as if he wou’d
Be more alli’de by sinne, than by his Blood.

On Crooke-backe as a Malefactour looke,
Abstracted from the Title of a King:
But view your selves as Instruments, are tooke
By Heav’ns corrective hand vengeance to bring.
Be Bold: there can be no resistance made,
When Justice striketh with a Souldiers blade.

This is the Point of time: you must strike home;
Judgement holds execution by the hilt:
His sinnes are ripe, and to their growth are come;
His blood is now prepar’d to wash his gilt.
Vengeance doth surely, ‘though but slowly tread,
And strikes with Iron, ‘though it walkes with lead.

Dare, what they thinke you dare not: for that thought
Makes the act easie, ’cause they think not so:
The ends at which we levell, will be brought
Under command, if we but dare to doe
The hardnesse of an act as often springs
From our Imagination, as the things.

If you feare death, you shall decline that feare
By change of Object: pitch your thoughts upon
Those Garlands, which victorious you shall weare:
Graspe conquest in your apprehension.
No other qualities can be exprest,
When th’ Instruments of sense are prepossest.

You mannage death by facing it; blowes shun
Those that present themselves to meete a wound:
Death’s a Coy Mistresse, court her she’s not wonne,
Of those which sought her, she was rarely found.
Who shewes his backe to danger soonest dies,
The shadow of death from her pursuer flies.

Though his assaults be feirce, the charges hot
Partaking of that wild-fire, which doth glow
In Richards bosome; yet conceit them not
Certaine presages of an overthrow.
Sharpe maladies, and hardest to endure,
Have not in Physicke their predictions sure.

Feare not his numbers: Victories consist
In mindes, not multitudes: most of their part
Favour our cause, and coldly will resist:
Feare not the hand, assured of the heart.
Be wisely bold, and like a Center stand,
And fly with Brutus, not with foote, but hand,

Flight may be their security, and though
They vanquish not, they know there is a meane
Betweene a Trophee, and a Grave: but you
Are in a certeine desperatenesse betweene
Conquest and death: you must not doubt to dye
Though Fortune doubts to give the Victory.

From: Aleyn, Charles, The historie of that wise and fortunate prince, Henrie of that name the seventh, King of England With that famed battaile, fought betweene the sayd King Henry and Richard the third named Crookbacke, upon Redmoore neere Bosworth. In a poem, 2005, Text Creation Partnership: Ann Arbor, Michigan and Oxford, pp. 18-21.

Date: 1638

By: Charles Aleyn (????-c1640)

Wednesday, 4 May 2016

Sonnet 47 by Bartholomew Griffin

I see, I hear, I feel, I know, I rue
My fate, my fame, my pain, my loss, my fall;
Mishap, reproach, disdain, a crown, her hue;
Cruel, still flying, false, fair, funeral,
To cross, to shame, bewitch, deceive, and kill
My first proceedings in their flowing bloom.
My worthless pen fast chainèd to my will,
My erring life through an uncertain doom,
My thoughts that yet in lowliness do mount,
My heart the subject of her tyranny:
What now remains, but her severe account
Of murder’s crying guilt (foul butchery!)
She was unhappy in her cradle breath,
That given was to be another’s death.


Date: 1596

By: Bartholomew Griffin (fl. 1596)

Tuesday, 3 May 2016

My Eyes Have Seen and Chosen by Meinloh of Sevelingen

My eyes have seen and chosen     for me a handsome youth
And other women envy     my fortune but, in truth,
I only seek to show him     that I am sweet and kind
and to this end give over     my heart and all my mind.
Whoever held his favor     before he was my own
has lost him with good reason,
yet I’ll feel only sorrow     to see her stand alone.

From: Walsøe-Engel, Ingrid (ed.), German Poetry from the Beginnings to 1750, 1992, Continuum: New York, p. 21.

Date: 12th century (original); 1992 (translation)

By: Meinloh of Sevelingen (12th century)

Translated by: J. W. Thomas (19??- )

Monday, 2 May 2016

Power by Susan Eisenberg

While her classmates cut in panels, bent pipe,
worked from blueprints, the black girl
ran for coffee, rustled stock, drilled
ceiling anchors by the mile, and swept
the shanty out; often worked alone. So,

when she was paired with a crackerjack
mechanic, a brother, and the foreman asked
how they’d like to disconnect
a transformer, high voltage, placing the cutters
in her palms, she leapt
like a racehorse out the starting gate.

The white boss walked them over to where the end
of cable lay in flaccid loop. Lifted it to show
the circle of fresh-cut copper, round
and wide-eyed as a shiny dollar coin: proof
the power was dead. She was fired up.

But Omar, bless that man, had to teach.
They walked the length of the site
and back, retrieved his meter, as he explained
good practice: test equipment, take no one’s word.

The meter buzzed: 480 live.

The two looked down; saw wet mud
beneath their boots. Looked up:
white faces –– like in a postcard
from a lynching –– gathered
on the ledge above
to watch.


Date: 2013

By: Susan Eisenberg (19??- )

Sunday, 1 May 2016

“March Comrades” by Louis Zukofsky

(Words for a workers’ chorus from ” ‘A’-8″)

Workers and farmers unite
You have nothing to lose
But your chains
The world is to win
This is May Day! May!
Your armies are veining the earth!

Railways and highways have tied
Blood of farmland and town
And the chains
Speed wheat to machine
This is May Day! May!
The poor’s armies veining the earth!

Hirers once fed by the harried
Cannot feed them their hire
Nor can chains
Hold the hungry in
This is May Day! May!
The poor are veining the earth!

Light lights in air blossoms red
Like nothing on earth
Now the chains
Drag graves to lie in
This is May Day! May!
The poor’s armies are veining the earth!

March comrades in revolution
From hirer unchained
Till your gain
Be the freedom of all
The World’s May Day! May!
May of the Freed of All the Earth!


Date: 1938

By: Louis Zukofsky (1904-1978)

Saturday, 30 April 2016

Overlooked by Emily Pauline Johnson (Tekahionwake)

Sleep, with her tender balm, her touch so kind,
Has passed me by;
Afar I see her vesture, velvet-lined,
Float silently;
O! Sleep, my tired eyes had need of thee!
Is thy sweet kiss not meant to-night for me?

Peace, with the blessings that I longed for so,
Has passed me by;
Where ’ere she folds her holy wings I know
All tempests die;
O! Peace, my tired soul had need of thee!
Is thy sweet kiss denied alone to me?

Love, with her heated touches; passion-stirred,
Has passed me by.
I called, “O stay thy flight,” but all unheard
My lonely cry:
O! Love, my tired heart had need of thee!
Is thy sweet kiss withheld alone from me?

Sleep, sister-twin of Peace, my waking eyes
So weary grow!
O! Love, thou wanderer from Paradise,
Dost thou not know
How oft my lonely heart has cried to thee?
But Thou, and Sleep, and Peace, come not to me.

From: Johnson, Emily Pauline, The White Wampum, 1895, The Copp Clark Co: Toronto, pp. 57-58.

Date: 1895

By: Emily Pauline Johnson (Tekahionwake) (1861-1913)

Friday, 29 April 2016

An essay on Slavery, with justification to Divine providence, that God Rules over all things by Jupiter Hammon

Our forefathers came from Africa
Tost over the raging main
To a Christian shore there for to stay
And not return again.

Dark and dismal was the Day
When slavery began
All humble thoughts were put away
Then slaves were made by Man.

When God doth please for to permit
That slavery should be
It is our duty to submit
Till Christ shall make us free

Come let us join with one consent
With humble hearts and say
For every sin we must repent
And walk in wisdom’s way.

If we are free we’ll pray to God
If we are slaves the same
It’s firmly fixt in his [holy] word
Ye shall not pray in vain.

Come blessed Jesus in thy Love
And hear thy children cry
And send them smiles now from above
And grant them Liberty.

Tis thou alone can make us free
We are thy subjects too
Pray give us grace to bend a knee
The time we stay below.

Tis unto thee we look for all
Thou art our only King
Thou hast the power to save the soul
And bring us flocking in.

We come as sinners unto thee
We know thou hast the word
Come blessed Jesus make us free
And bring us to our God.

Although we are in Slavery
We will pray unto our God
He hath mercy beyond the sky
Tis in his holy word.

Come unto me ye humble souls
Although you live in strife
I keep alive and save the soul
And give eternal life.

To all that do repent of sin
Be they bond or free
I am their saviour and their king
They must come unto me.

Hear the words now of the Lord
The call is loud and certain
We must be judged by his word
Without respect of person.

Come let us seek his precepts now
And love his holy word
With humble soul we’ll surely bow
And wait the great reward.

Although we came from Africa
We look unto our God
To help our hearts to sigh and pray
And Love his holy word.

Although we are in slavery
Bound by the yoke of Man
We must always have a single eye
And do the best we can.

Come let us join with humble voice
Now on the christian shore
If we will have our only choice
Tis slavery no more.

Now [?] let us not repine
And say his wheels are slow
He can fill our hearts with things divine
And give us freedom too.

He hath the power all in his hand
And all he doth is right
And if we are tide [sic] to the yoke of man
We’ll pray with all might.

This the state of thousands now
Who are on the christian shore
Forget the Lord to whom we bow
And think of him no more.

When shall we hear the joyfull sound
Echo the christian shore
Each humble voice with songs resound
That slavery is no more.

Then shall we rejoice and sing
Loud praises to our God
Come sweet Jesus heavenly king
The art the son Our Lord.

We are thy children blessed Lord
Tho still in slavery
We’ll seek thy precepts Love thy word
Untill the day we Die.

Come blessed Jesus hear us now
And teach our hearts to pray
And seek the Lord to whom we bow
Before tribunal day.

Now glory be unto our God
All praise be justly given
Come seek his precepts love his works
That is the way to Heaven.

Composed by Jupiter Hammon
A Negro Man belonging to Mr John Lloyd
Queens Village on Long Island
November 10th 1786


Date: 1786

By: Jupiter Hammon (1711-before 1806)

Thursday, 28 April 2016

Upon the Lines and Life of the Famous Scenic Poet, Master William Shakespeare by Hugh Holland

Those hands, which you so clapped, go now, and wring
You Britain’s brave; for done are Shakespeare’s days.
His days are done, that made the dainty plays,
Which made the Globe of heav’n and earth to ring.
Dried is that vein, dried is the Thespian Spring,
Turned all to tears, and Phoebus clouds his rays.
That corpse, that coffin, now bestick those bays,
Which crowned him poet first, then poets’ king.
If tragedies might any prologue have,
All those he made, would scarce make a one to this;
Where fame, now that he gone is to the grave
(Deaths public tiring-house), the nuncius is.
For though his line of life went soon about,
The life yet of his lines shall never out.


Date: 1623

By: Hugh Holland (1569-1633)

Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Prologue to “Lais” by Marie de France

Whoever gets knowledge from God, science,
and a talent for speech, eloquence,
Shouldn’t shut up or hide away;
No, that person should gladly display.
When everyone hears about some great good
Then it flourishes as it should;
When folks praise it at full power,
Then the good deed’s in full flower.
Among the ancients it was the tradition
(On this point we can quote Priscian)

When they wrote their books in the olden day
What they had to say they’d obscurely say.
They knew that some day others would come
And need to know what they’d written down;
Those future readers would gloss the letter,
Add their own meaning to make the book better.
Those old philosophers, wise and good,
Among themselves they understood
Mankind, in the future tense,
Would develop a subtler sense
Without trespassing to explore
What’s in the words, and no more.

Whoever wants to be safe from vice
Should study and learn (heed this advice)
And undertake some difficult labor;
Then trouble is a distant neighbor–
From great sorrows one can escape.
Thus my idea began to take shape:
I’d find some good story or song
To translate from Latin into our tongue;
But was the prize worth the fight?
So many others had already tried it.
Then I thought of the lais I’d heard;
I had no doubt, I was assured
They’d been composed for memory’s sake
About real adventures–no mistake:
They heard the tale, composed the song,
Sent it forth. They didn’t get it wrong.
I’ve heard so many lais, I would regret
Letting them go, letting people forget.
So I rhymed them and wrote them down aright.
Often my candle burned late at night.

In your honor, noble king,
Whose might and courtesy make the world ring–
All joys flow from you or run to you,
Whose heart is the root of every virtue–
For you these lais I undertook,
To bring them together, rhymed, in this book.
In my heart I always meant
To offer you this, my present.
Great joy to my heart you bring
If you accept my offering–
I’ll be glad forever and a day!
Please don’t think that I say
This from conceit–pride’s not my sin.
Just listen now, and I’ll begin.


Date: 12th century (original); 1992 (translation)

By: Marie de France (12th century)

Translated by: Judith P. Shoaf (19??- )


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