Monday, 8 March 2021

Aurelia and the Spider by Catharine Bayley

The muslin torn, from tears of grief,
In vain Aurelia sought relief;
In sighs and plaints she pass’d the day,
The tatter’d frock neglected lay.
While busied at the weavingtrade,
A spider heard the sighing maid,
And kindly stopping, silence broke—
Thus wisely once a spider spoke:

‘Turn, little girl! behold in me,
‘A stimulus to industry.
‘Compare your poignant pangs with mine,
‘Then, tell me, who may most repine?
‘With cause repine; for adverse fate
‘Confirms me still the child of hate.
‘This morning, ere you left your room,
‘The chamber-maid’s remorseless broom,
‘In one sad moment that destroy ‘d
‘Which, erst, some hundred hours employed!
‘The shock was great; but as my life
‘I sav’d in the relentless strife,
‘I knew lamenting was in vain,
‘And laboured at my task again.
‘This little mansion to restore,
‘I work’d till I could work no more.
‘Chance left a thread; I thither ran,
‘For work’s half done when well began.
‘The filmy cord for me was strong,
‘With eager stride I pac’d along,
‘And, lo! the beauteous web I’ve made,
‘May bid art blush, tho wisdom aid.
‘Thus, if each tear Aurelia’s shed
‘Had been a needle-full of thread;
‘If every sigh of sad despair
‘Had been a stitch, with proper care
‘Clos’d would have been that luckless rent,
‘Nor had the day been thus misspent’.

From: Bayley, Catharine, Vacation evenings, or, Conversations between a governess and her pupils : with the addition of A visitor from Eton : being a series of original poems, tales, and essays : interspersed with illustrative quotations from various authors, ancient and modern, tending to incite emulations, and inculcate moral truth. In three volumes. Volume II, 1809, Longman, Hurst, Rees, and Orme: London, pp. 45-46.

Date: 1809

By: Catharine Bayley (fl. 1790-1816)

Sunday, 7 March 2021

Song by Mrs. Taylor

Ye virgin powers, defend my heart
From amorous looks and smiles,
From saucy Love, or nicer Art,
Which most our sex beguiles:

From sighs and vows, from awful fears
That do to Pity move,
From speaking silence, and from tears,
Those springs that water Love.

But if through Passion I grow blind,
Let Honour be my guide,
And where frail nature seems inclin’d,
There fix a guard of Pride.

A heart whose flames are seen though pure,
Needs every virtue’s aid,
And those who think themselves secure,
The soonest are betray’d.

From: Rowton, Frederic (ed.), The Female Poets of Great Britain, Chronologically Arranged: With Copious Selections and Critical Notes, 1849, Carey and Hart: Philadelphia, p. 90.

Date: 1685

By: Mrs. Taylor (fl. 1685)

Saturday, 6 March 2021

Fragment 4: Justice and the City by Solon

Our city will never perish because of Zeus,
Or through the plans of the happy immortal gods—
For our guardian is great of spirit: the one born of a mighty father,
Pallas Athena holds her hands over us.
But the very citizens plot to destroy this great city,
being dragged off by wealth in their folly.
The leaders of the people think unjustly, and
in their arrogance prepare to receive great pains:
For they do not know how to restrain themselves from excess,
or how to temper their present feasting in peaceful harmony,
But rather grow wealthy as they are persuaded of unjust deeds;
not sparing possessions sacred or civic, they steal,
snatching away left and right—
Nor do they heed the seeds of the foundations of Justice
who, silently, knows what happens and what has been,
and comes, in time, always, avenging.

There comes a wound, unavoidable, presently, to every city,
which goes quickly into wretched slavery—
which awakens civil discord, and sleeping war—
which destroys the lovely youth of many—
for in meetings that are dear to the unjust
a well-beloved city is swiftly laid waste by her enemies.
These evils then run among the citizenry: many of the needy
go into a foreign land, sold,
and bound with unseemly fetters,
and bear by force the shameful labors of slavery.
Thus this common evil enters every house,
nor are the outer doors still willing to hold it out.
It leaps a high fence, and even if a man should flee into the corner
of his inner chamber, by all means, it finds him.
These things my heart urges me to teach the Athenians:
how unsound governance gives greatest evils to a city,
sound governance shows everything orderly and suitable,
and often binds fetters around the unjust,
and levels off the unequal, arrests surfeit, tempers blazing arrogance,
withers the blooming flowers of ruin,
straightens crooked judgments, makes prideful deeds
to be mild, arrests the works of dissension,
stops the bile of torturous strife, and so it is that through it
everything concerning humans is made wise and harmonious.


Date: 6th century BCE (original in Greek); 2019 (translation in English)

By: Solon (c630 BCE-c560 BCE)

Translated by: Joshua Anthony (19??- )

Friday, 5 March 2021

Why I Am Not a Buddhist by Charles Bernstein

Reality cons me as it spur(n)s me.
This is the road to eternal
Consanguinity, eloping with
Hope and leaving me to pick
Up the proverbial bag.
But that’s the argument for.


Date: 2013

By: Charles Bernstein (1950- )

Thursday, 4 March 2021

Hatred by Gwendolyn Bennett Bennett

I shall hate you
Like a dart of singing steel
Shot through still air
At even-tide,
Or solemnly
As pines are sober
When they stand etched
Against the sky.
Hating you shall be a game
Played with cool hands
And slim fingers.
Your heart will yearn
For the lonely splendor
Of the pine tree
While rekindled fires
In my eyes
Shall wound you like swift arrows.
Memory will lay its hands
Upon your breast
And you will understand
My hatred.


Date: 1926

By: Gwendolyn Bennett Bennett (1902-1981)

Wednesday, 3 March 2021

The Pattern of Life by Hannah Entwistle

The patchwork quilt looked very gay.
A kaleidoscope of colour in every way.

Like life, showing the pattern of the days.
Bright and sunny ones, interlaced with hose of grey.

Life isn’t made up of all happy times.
It fluctuates without reason or rhyme.

Characters are built from life’s intricate patterns.
Some strong, some broken, but some are just flattened.

Ready to spring up as they pattern is changed.
But like the quilt, each piece is pre-arranged.

All slotted into a place, ever so gay.
Taking in the bright and the dull, on its way.

Patches of colour delicately matched.
Shades arranged so no two will clash.

Sprinkled all over with a glittering shower.
Showing the presence of a divine power.

Fashioned and styled by loving hands.
Woven by destiny in life’s golden strands.

From: Entwistle, H, A Collection of Poems, ?2000 (unpublished).

Date: 19??

By: Hannah Entwistle (1916-2009)

Tuesday, 2 March 2021

As Death Does by Susan Musgrave

All these white flowers
darkened my sleep,
after you were gone and
after you.

All these grey insects
entered my dreams,
ticked back to me
and remembered.

Rub this
strange heat
out of my body, rub me
everywhere away.
Tangle me with
waterbugs, with
earthmould and

I share you with beetles,
I share you in my bones.
Bite into me and
open your mind to blood.

Turn to me now as
death does and
turn in me again. Squeeze your
strange heat
into my body, press me everywhere
under your skin.

I share you in darkness,
I share you with the sun.
Go on forgetting as
death does, as
death does even among bones.


Date: 1972

By: Susan Musgrave (1951- )

Monday, 1 March 2021

A Welsh Wordscape by Peter Finch

To live in Wales,

Is to be mumbled at
by re-incarnations of Dylan Thomas
in numerous diverse disgiuses.

Is to be mown down
by the same words
at least six times a week.

Is to be bored
by Welsh visionaries
with wild hair and grey suits.

Is to be told
of the incredible agony
of an exile
that can be at most
a day’s travel away.

And the sheep, the sheep,
the bloody flea-bitten Welsh sheep,
chased over the same hills
by athousand poetic phraces
all saying the same things.

To live in Wales
is to love sheep
and to be afraid
of dragons.

A history is being re-lived,
a lost heritage
is being wept after
with sad eyes and dry tears.

A heritage
that spoke beauty to the world
through dirty alcoholic mists.

A heritage
that screamed that once,
that exploded that one holy time
and connected Wales
with the whirlpool
of the universe.

A heritage
that ceased communication
upon a death, and nonetheless
tried to go on living.

A heritage
that is taking
a long time to learn
that yesterday cannot be today
and that the world
is fast becomming bored
with language forever
in the same tone of voice.

Look at the Welsh landscape,
look closely,
new voices must rise.
for Wales cannot endlessly remain
chasing sleep into the twilight.


Date: 1987

By: Peter Finch (1947- )

Sunday, 28 February 2021

With Sadness and Precision by Grzegorz Musiał

at last I’ve stopped believing
I fell into sleep as into a dry seed
the morning’s shovel will dig me up
the bang of the sun on the window, the highway’s throb

so I lie in silence, I look at the rectangle of sky
like the shroud in Lazarus’s bed I do not rise up
and deeper and deeper I crumble
into myself

without You

down into myself.


Date: 19?? (original in Polish); 2000 (translation in English)

By: Grzegorz Musiał (1952- )

Translated by: Georgia Scott (19??- ) and David Malcolm (1952- )

Saturday, 27 February 2021

1914 by Ferenc Istvan Dénes Gyula Békássy

He went without fears, went gaily, since go he must,
And drilled and sweated and sang, and rode in the heat and dust
Of the summer; his fellows were round him, as eager as he,
While over the world the gloomy days of the war dragged heavily.

He fell without a murmur in the noise of battle; found rest
‘Midst the roar of hooves on the grass, a bullet struck through his breast.
Perhaps he drowsily lay; for him alone it was still,
And the blood ran out of his body, it had taken so little to kill.

So many thousand lay round him, it would need a poet, maybe,
Or a woman, or one of his kindred, to remember that none were as he;
It would need the mother he followed, or the girl he went beside
When he walked the paths of summer in the hush of his gladness and pride,

To know that he was not a unit, a pawn whose place can be filled;
Not blood, but the beautiful years of his coming life have been spilled,
The days that should have followed, a house and a home, maybe,
For a thousand may love and marry and nest, but so shall not he.

When the fires are alight in the meadow, the stars in the sky,
And the young moon drives its cattle, the clouds graze silently,
When the cowherds answer each other and their horns sound loud and clear,
A thousand will hear them, but he, who alone understood, will not hear.

His pale poor body is weak, his heart is still, and a dream
His longing, his hope, his sadness. He dies, his full years seem
Drooping palely around, they pass with his breath
Softly, as dreams have an end – it is not a violent death.

My days and the world’s pass dully, our times are ill;
For men with labour are born, and men, without wishing it, kill.
Shadow and sunshine, twist a crown of thorns for my head!
Mourn, O my sisters! singly, for a hundred thousand dead.

From: Békássy, Ferenc; Gömöri, George; Gömöri, Mari; and Jones, Peter (eds.), The Alien in the Chapel: Ferenc Békássy, Rupert Brooke’s Unknown Rival: Poems and Letters, 2016, Skyscraper: Oxford, pp. 39-40.


Date: 1914

By: Ferenc Istvan Dénes Gyula Békássy (1893-1915)