Monday, 5 December 2016

Refugees by Brian Bilston

They have no need of our help
So do not tell me
These haggard faces could belong to you or me
Should life have dealt a different hand
We need to see them for who they really are
Chancers and scroungers
Layabouts and loungers
With bombs up their sleeves
Cut-throats and thieves
They are not
Welcome here
We should make them
Go back to where they came from
They cannot
Share our food
Share our homes
Share our countries
Instead let us
Build a wall to keep them out
It is not okay to say
These are people just like us
A place should only belong to those who are born there
Do not be so stupid to think that
The world can be looked at another way

(now read from bottom to top)


Date: 2016

By: Brian Bilston (19??- )

Sunday, 4 December 2016

Minstrel’s Song by Edward James (Ted) Hughes

I’ve just had an astounding dream as I lay in the straw.
I dreamed a star fell on to the straw beside me
And lay blazing. Then when I looked up
I saw a bull come flying through a sky of fire
And on its shoulders a huge silver woman
Holding the moon. And afterwards there came
A donkey flying through that same burning heaven
And on its shoulders a colossal man
Holding the sun. Suddenly I awoke
And saw a bull and a donkey kneeling in the straw,
And the great moving shadows of a man and a woman –
I say they were a man and a woman but
I dare not say what I think they were. I did not dare to look.
I ran out here into the freezing world
Because I dared not look. Inside that shed.

A star is coming this way along the road.
If I were not standing upright, this would be a dream.
A star the shape of a sword of fire, point-downward,
Is floating along the road. And now it rises.
It is shaking fire on to the roofs and the gardens.
And now it rises above the animal shed
Where I slept till the dream woke me. And now
The star is standing over the animal shed.


Date: 1970

By: Edward James (Ted) Hughes (1930-1998)

Saturday, 3 December 2016

Matter by Amos Bronson Alcott

Out of the chaos dawns in sight
The globe’s full form in orbèd light;
Beam kindles beam, kind mirrors kind,
Nature’s the eyeball of the Mind;
The fleeting pageant tells for nought
Till shaped in Mind’s creative thought.

From: Cooke, George Willis (ed.), The Poets of Transcendentalism. An Anthology, 1903, Houghton, Mifflin and Company: Boston and New York, pp. 53-54.

Date: 1877

By: Amos Bronson Alcott (1799-1888)

Friday, 2 December 2016

The Genius of America Weeping the Absurd Follies of the Day—October 10, 1778 by Mercy Otis Warren


Beneath the lofty pine that shades the plain,
Where the blue mount o’erlooks the western main,
I saw Columbia’s weeping Genius stand,
A blacken’d scroll hung waving in her hand.

The pensive fair, in broken accents said,
Shall freedom’s cause by vice be thus betray’d?—
Behold the schedule that unfolds the crimes
And marks the manners of these modern times.
She sigh’d and wept—the folly of the age,
The selfish passions, and the mad’ning rage
For pleasure’s soft debilitating charms,
Running full riot in cold avarice’ arms;
Who grasps the dregs of base oppressive gains,
While luxury in high profusion reigns.
Our country bleeds, and bleeds at every pore,
Yet gold’s the deity whom all adore;
Except a few, whose probity of soul
No bribe could purchase, nor no fears control.
A chosen few, who dar’d to stem the tide
Of British vengeance in the pomp of pride,
When George’s fleets with every sail unfurl’d,
And by his hand the reeking dagger hurl’d,
The sharpen’d steel, the angry furies held,
And Albion’s offspring strew’d the purple field
With kindred blood, warm from his brother’s veins,
The crimson flood each field and village stains;
Yet back recoil’d the reeking bloody hilt,
And slaughter’d millions mark’d the tyrant’s guilt.

But ‘midst the carnage the weak monarch made,
Stern bending down his awful grandsire’s shade,
Bespoke the pupil of the Scottish thane,
“Why sully thus the glories of my reign?
“The western world oft for my house has bled,
“And Brunswick’s friends lie mingled with the dead
“In yon fair fields of glory and renown,
“Now independent of thy trembling crown;
“The lustre of thy diadem is fled,
“The brightest jewel that adorn’d thy head;
“America—no more supports thy reign,
“Nor freedom will forgive her martyrs slain.

“As I shot down across th’ empurpled plains,
“Whole cities burn’d, and Vulcan forg’d new chains.
“Yet dying patriots clasp’d the darling son,
“And bid him gird the warlike helmet on.
“The cold lip quiver’d on the blood stain’d ground,
“The spirit rising from the ghastly wound,
“The hero sob’d—the glorious work complete,
“And Britain’s barbarous policy defeat;
“‘Tis heav’n commands, and freedom is the prize,
“Adieu, my son—death seals thy father’s eyes.”

The stern majestic form about to rise,
The guardian goddess met him from the skies;
“‘Tis just, she cry’d—I urg’d the battle on,”
And, pointing down—”see, there the trophies won,
“While they believ’d heav’n’s uncontrol’d decree,
“That virtue only made them brave and free.”

The trump of war from shore to shore resounds,
And the shrill echo o’er the vale rebounds;
The distant nations hear the dread alarm,
Enkindled Europe for the conflict arm;
The Gallic powers, the western peasants join,
And distant legions form in freedom’s line;
America is hail’d from sea to sea,
Sits independent, glorious, and free;
Propitious heaven approv’d, and smil’d benign,
And guards of angels aided her design;
While still her senate, vigilant and wise,
Spreads wide her fame, and lifts her to the skies.

But he who holds the universal chain
Of all events, his system will maintain;
He through the whole creation has decreed,
Effects must follow as our actions lead;
All nature shews that heaven ne’er design’d,
Spite of themselves, to save and bless mankind.
The friendly genius lifted slow her veil,
And still hid half the melancholy tale—
When, lo! she sigh’d, the happy prospect dies,
Guilt has provok’d the vengeance of the skies;
As wealth pour’d in from every distant shore,
The gaudy lap of luxury ran o’er;
The blacken’d passions all at once let loose,
And rampant crimes scarce ask’d for an excuse.

So dissolute—yet so polite the town,
Like Hogarth’s days, the world’s turn’d upside down;
Old Juvenal, who censur’d former crimes,
Or Churchill’s pen, in more satiric rhymes,
Or crabbed Swift, in yet a rougher stile,
Might lash the vices of a venal isle;
If sermons, satires, or the law of heaven,
(Though it again from Sinai’s mount were given,)
Should all combine to censure modish vice,
It can’t be wrong, when fashion sanctifies.

Hogarth might paint, and Churchill lash the times,
Compar’d with moderns, modest were their crimes;
Not Swift himself could now defame the age,
Truth might be told in each sarcastic page;
Whoe’er delights to shew mankind absurd
The life in vogue may ample room afford.

The early creed of lisping girls and boys,
Is taste, high life, and pleasure’s guilty joys;
The modish stile the heedless parent taught,
And sins run rank, from levity of thought;
Ere the big cloud that shook the north retires,
Each generous movement of the soul expires;
All public faith, and private justice dead,
And patriot zeal by patriots betray’d;
While hot bed plants of yesterday shoot up,
Erect their heads, and reach the cedar’s top.

Thankless to heaven, and to the men ingrate,
Who ventur’d all to save a sinking state;
Who kept the shatter’d bark, and stood the deck,
When timid helmsmen left her as a wreck.
Those godlike men, those lovers of mankind,
Have nought to retrospect that pains the mind;

Placid they move amidst an heedless band,
And sigh in silence o’er a guilty land.

But when old Time is so decrepid grown,
His worn out car no more will bear him on,
When Fame throws by her faithless tinkling tube
That carol’d falsehoods round the list’ning globe,
The evergreens on yonder ether plains,
Eternal flourish to reward their pains.

Thus truth exhibits virtue in an age,
When vice, unblushing, stalk’d across the stage,
And star’d around with hideous prowling eyes,
To catch the heedless witling as he flies;
The disputant, who enters on the lift,
To foil a Newton, or to win at whist.
He lives a sceptic, if you take his word,
Thinks ’tis heroic to deny his God,
Or to dispute his providential care;
Deride his precepts, or to scoff at prayer.
His coat, his creed, his faith and genius too,
Are moderniz’d as fashion forms the cue;
Prompt and alert, with erudition fraught,
Than Locke, or Boyle, in ethics better taught;
He swears the taste the bon ton of the times,
By moralists can ne’er be constru’d crimes;
Most modern writers are much better bred,
Voltaire and Hoyle, the authors he has read,
Discard such antique, odd ideas of truth,
Such musty rules for regulating youth.

Lord Bolingbroke, among the wits a toast,
And Mandeville, the sceptic’s empty boast,
Reason so clear, that e’en their pigmy race
Who swarm and cluster in each public place,
With scientific brow can demonstrate,
Whate’er the pious sage or priest may prate,
Virtue is an enthusiastic dream,
Reveal’d religion, a long worn out theme.

At bacchanalian feasts, it is the mode
To pour libations to the red ey’d God,
‘Till penetration so out runs his sense,
That the arcana of omnipotence,
Brought to the reas’ner’s superficial test,
The Christian code becomes his wanton jest.
Scarce any decent principles remain,
A fool’s cap, perch’d on folly’s feather’d brain,
Is the learn’d signal for the warm debate
On Voltaire’s creed—or the decrees of fate;
‘Till graceful * * so improves the plan,
The deist blushes at his bolder strain;
His flowing stile, and easy periods such,
His influence sinks, because he doubts too much.
This smooth romantic bard, from east to west,
Has conjur’d up each sceptical protest
‘Gainst all religion—ev’n the most sublime,
Oral or wrote—of late or modern time.
All hope renounc’d of an immortal state,
By rote his pupils syllogisms prate—
Annihilation dissipates all fear,
We can but suffer—and enjoy while here.

As ignis fatuus floats from lake to bog,
The vapor plays in pestilential fog,
Sparkles and sinks in the dark marshy tomb,
As modern wits in metaphysic fume.

Yet they assume a self important air,
Or to confound, or proselyte the fair,
Who no ideas have of other heaven,
If dress, parade, and a gallant is given;
Who rail aloud ‘gainst puritanic rules,
And learn their morals in deistic schools;
Who prattle nonsense with the half fledg’d beau,
Can cog the die, and raffle high or low;
In folly’s lap, by childish passions toss’d,
On vanity’s delusive shallow coast;
The rippling surface hides the deep abyss,
That gapes destruction, while the hydra’s hiss,
Unheard as pleasure’s fascinating song,
In gales perfum’d, the triflers hurl along.
While wide spread ruin stalks from door to door,
Famine and sword still threat’ning to devour,
How many dance on dissipation’s wing,
No pen can paint, nor can the poet sing.

Profoundly learn’d, investigating truth,
And thus thrown off the shackles of his youth,
He’s wisest sure who makes the most of life,
Prefers a mistress to a sober wife;
The coxcomb laughs, and revels life away,
While gaming high’s the business of the day;
Pleasure shall dance in every festive bowl,
The Brute’s secure—the Man has not a soul.

From: Warren, Mrs. M., Poems, Dramatic and Miscellaneous, 1790, I. Thomas and E. T. Andrews: Boston, pp. 246-252.

Date: 1778

By: Mercy Otis Warren (1728-1814)

Thursday, 1 December 2016

Excerpt from “The Blessed Birth-Day Celebrated in Some Pious Meditations on the Angels Anthem. Luke 2. 14” by Charles Fitzgeoffrey

Behold a Mother, yet a Virgin still,
Whose Wombe not lust, but lively Faith did fill.
Before, and in, and after Birth a Mayd,
Of whom ‘mong all her sexe it may be said,
Sh’ enioy’d by bringing forth that heavenly Boy,
A virgins honour, with a Mothers joy:
Behold a field which nere by man was tild,
Wheat whence is made, the bread of life doth yield.
Thus ere the Heavens did showers on Earth distill,
A my’st her pregnant wombe with fruit did fill.

Thus Gedeons fleece was moist when all was drie,
And dry when all about it moist did lie.
Thus Moses bush sent forth a flaming fume,
And burning did not with the fire consume.
Thus did Faiths fire the Virgins heart inflame,
And yet abolisht not her Virgin-name:
Her swelling bellie nothing did abate
The entireness of her Maydenhead, state.
And thus on Aarons Rod ripe Almonds grew,
Nor set in earth nor moist’ned with the dew.
And thus from Maries Wombe a Plant proceeded,
Which neither setting, neither plantage needed.

Never till now two Phœnixes were seene
At once; For this the usuall course hath beene
(If all be true, that Naturallists have told,)
The young ones birth brings death unto the old:
One Phœnix here another forth did bring,
And yet her selfe is sav’d from perishing.
The mother there dies to produce an other,
But here the Child must die to save the Mother,
The young one must himselfe of life deprive,
Or else the Mother Phœnix cannot live.

If thou ô man doest aske how this may be,
The same that answer’d her must answer thee.
When of the Messenger she did demand
How this with possibility might stand.
That she should have a Man-child of her owne,
Who never Man in all her life had knowne.
All things are possible with God, whose skill
And power to worke are equall with his will.
Least we should doubt of this he first would doe
Things all as strange as this, and stranger too.

He who at first to frame a Man did need
Neither a Mothers wombe nor Fathers seed,
Could he not now forme in a Virgins Womb
A Child, who from no Fathers seed should come?
Could not the same who first made man of Earth
Procure a Mayden to bring forth a Birth?
He, who a Woman of a Man could frame
Without a Womans help, could not the same
A perfect Man now of a Woman make,
One who no man should for his Father take?

Let this suffice. The reason of the deed,
Doth from the doers will and powre proceed.
Consider who it is that wrought the fact,
Once know the Author, doubt not of the Act.
But for the Act the Author magnifie,
Joyning with th’. Angels in their melodie,
Glory to God on high, on Earth be Peace,
And let good will t’wards Christians never cease.

From: Fitzgeoffrey, Charles, The Blessed Birth-Day Celebrated in Some Pious Meditations on the Angels Anthem. Luke 2. 14. Also Holy Raptures, Etc. [In Verse.], 1634, John Lichfield: Oxford, pp. 11-12.

Date: 1634

By: Charles Fitzgeoffrey (1576-1638)

Wednesday, 30 November 2016

I Love You More Than All the Windows in New York City by Jessica Greenbaum

The day turned into the city
and the city turned into the mind
and the moving trucks trumbled along
like loud worries speaking over
the bicycle’s idea
which wove between
the more armored vehicles of expression
and over planks left by the construction workers
on a holiday morning when no work was being done
because no matter the day, we tend towards
remaking parts of it—what we said
or did, or how we looked—
and the buildings were like faces
lining the banks of a parade
obstructing and highlighting each other
defining height and width for each other
offsetting grace and function
like Audrey Hepburn from
Jesse Owens, and the hearty pigeons collaborate
with wrought iron fences
and become recurring choruses of memory
reassembling around benches
we sat in once, while seagulls wheel
like immigrating thoughts, and never-leaving
chickadees hop bared hedges and low trees
like commas and semicolons, landing
where needed, separating
subjects from adjectives, stringing along
the long ideas, showing how the cage
has no door, and the lights changed
so the tide of sound ebbed and returned
like our own breath
and when I knew everything
was going to look the same as the mind
I stopped at a lively corner
where the signs themselves were like
perpendicular dialects in conversation and
I put both my feet on the ground
took the bag from the basket
so pleased it had not been crushed
by the mightiness of all else
that goes on and gave you the sentence inside.


Date: 2012

By: Jessica Greenbaum (19??- )

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

What the Chairman Told Tom by Basil Cheesman Bunting

Poetry? It’s a hobby.
I run model trains.
Mr Shaw there breeds pigeons.

It’s not work. You dont sweat.
Nobody pays for it.
You could advertise soap.

Art, that’s opera; or repertory—
The Desert Song.
Nancy was in the chorus.

But to ask for twelve pounds a week—
married, aren’t you?—
you’ve got a nerve.

How could I look a bus conductor
in the face
if I paid you twelve pounds?

Who says it’s poetry, anyhow?
My ten year old
can do it and rhyme.

I get three thousand and expenses,
a car, vouchers,
but I’m an accountant.

They do what I tell them,
my company.
What do you do?

Nasty little words, nasty long words,
it’s unhealthy.
I want to wash when I meet a poet.

They’re Reds, addicts,
all delinquents.
What you write is rot.

Mr Hines says so, and he’s a schoolteacher,
he ought to know.
Go and find work.


Date: 1967

By: Basil Cheesman Bunting (1900-1985)

Monday, 28 November 2016

Fight with the Pen! by Isaac Williams Wauchope

Your cattle are gone, my countrymen!
Go rescue them! Go rescue them!
Leave the breechloader alone
And turn to the pen.
Take paper and ink,
For that is your shield.
Your rights are going!
So pick up your pen.
Load it, load it with ink.
Sit on a chair.
Repair not your Hoho
But fire with pen.


Date: 1882

By: Isaac Williams Wauchope (1852-1917)

Sunday, 27 November 2016

Elegy II. To Sickness by John Delap

How blith the flowery graces of the spring
From nature’s wardrobe come: and hark how gay
Each glittering insect, hovering on the wing,
Sings their glad welcome to the fields of may.

They gaze, with greedy eye, each beauty o’er;
They suck the sweet breath of the blushing rose;
Sport in the gale, or sip the rainbow flower;
Their life’s short day no pause of pleasure knows.

Like their’s, dread Power, my chearful morn display’d
The flattering promise of a golden noon,
Till each gay cloud, that sportive nature spread,
Died in the gloom of thy distemper’d frown.

Yes, ere I told my two and twentieth year,
Swift from thy quiver flew the deadly dart;
Harmless it past ‘mid many a blith compeer,
And found its fated entrance near my heart.

Pale as I lay beneath thy ebon wand,
I saw them rove through pleasure’s flowery field;
I saw health paint them with her rosy hand,
Eager to burst my bonds, but forc’d to yield.

Yet while this mortal cot of mould’ring clay
Shakes at the stroke of thy tremendous power,
Ah must the transient tenant of a day
Bear the rough blast of each tempestuous hour!

Say, shall the terrors thy pale flag unfolds
Too rigid Queen! unnerve the soul’s bright powers,
Till with a joyless smile the eye beholds
Art’s magic charms, and nature’s fairy bowers.

No, let me follow still, those bowers among,
Her flowery footsteps, as the goddess goes;
Let me, just lifted ‘bove th’ unletter’d throng,
Read the few books the learned few compose.

And suffer, when thy aweful pleasure calls
The soul to share her frail companion’s smart,
Yet suffer me to taste the balm that falls,
From friendship’s tongue, so sweet upon the heart.

Then, tho’ each trembling nerve confess thy frown,
Ev’n till this anxious being shall become
But a brief name upon a little stone,
Without one murmur I embrace my doom.

For many a virtue, shelter’d from mankind,
Lives calm with thee, and lord o’er each desire;
And many a feeble frame, whose mighty mind
Each muse has touch’d with her immortal fire.

Ev’n He, sole terror of a venal age,
The tuneful bard, whose philosophic soul,
With such bright radiance glow’d on Virtue’s page,
Learn’d many a lesson from thy moral school.

He too, who “mounts and keeps his different way,”
His daring mind thy humanizing glooms
Have temper’d with a melancholy ray,
And taught to warble ‘mid the village tombs.

Yes, goddess, to thy temple’s deep recess
I come; and lay for ever at its door
The siren throng of follies numberless,
Nor wish their flattering songs shou’d sooth me more.

Thy decent garb shall o’er my limbs be spread,
Thy hand shall lead me to thy sober train,
Who here retir’d, with pensive pleasure tread
The silent windings of thy dark domain.

Hither the cherub charity shall fly
From her bright orb, and brooding o’er my mind,
For misery raise a sympathizing sigh,
Pardon for foes, and love for human kind.

Then while ambition’s trump, from age to age
Its slaughter’d millions boasts; while fame shall rear
Her deathless trophies o’er the bard and sage,
Be mine the widow’s sigh, the orphan’s prayer.


Date: 1760

By: John Delap (1725-1812)

Saturday, 26 November 2016

The World by Richard Zouch(e)

To our small Isle of Man, some well compare
The WORLD, that greater Continents huge frame
Nor much unlike eythers Perfections are
Their Matter, and their Mixture both the same:
Whence Mens Affection it so much allures,
Sith greatest Likenesse greatest Love procures.

But if their outward Formes we looke upon,
Wee shall their Figures divers plainely see:
For mans erected tall Proportion
To his heav’n-hoping Soule doth best agree:
Whereas the World each way being framed round,
The aptest forme for turning Change hath found.

Like Natures rarest workemanship, the Eye,
The well contrived instrument of seeing,
Which by exact and apt Rotunditie,
Performes his duty, and preserves his beeing,
Of many curious circling Spheares composed,
And Orbs, within the Orbs without enclosed.

From: Zouch(e), Richard, The Dove: or Passages of Cosmography, 2003, Text Creation Partnership: Ann Arbor, Michigan and Oxford, p. [unnumbered].

Date: 1613

By: Richard Zouch(e) (c1590-1661)