Sunday, 26 March 2017

Artifact by Frannie Lindsay

1.
You came to put up with
the buxom peonies
Helga kept bringing.
First you asked them to stop
the prednisone, next the valium,
finally you waved away
even the laxatives
your bowel had so long given over to.
The white nun of morphine
tended you prayerlessly,
while all I could do
was spoon-feed you fewer
ice chips, tuck
the last gorgeous medicines
under your tongue.

2.
After they come and take you,
the day is simple: the shade being raised,
room emptied, conversational
tones of voice in the hallway,
bathroom scrubbed echo-clean,
sky uninhabitably blue, no birds
moving across it, then one, then many,
while even the hospice Monday
grows busy with sheet-changing,
jokes getting told, time in the throes
of being ignored,
therapy dogs and friends
settling in for an hour or two,
hoping they’ll know
when to go.

From: https://linebreak.org/poems/artifact/#

Date: 2009

By: Frannie Lindsay (19??- )

Saturday, 25 March 2017

Foreseeing by Sharon Bryan

Middle age refers more
to landscape than to time:
it’s as if you’d reached

the top of a hill
and could see all the way
to the end of your life,

so you know without a doubt
that it has an end—
not that it will have,

but that it does have,
if only in outline—
so for the first time

you can see your life whole,
beginning and end not far
from where you stand,

the horizon in the distance—
the view makes you weep,
but it also has the beauty

of symmetry, like the earth
seen from space: you can’t help
but admire it from afar,

especially now, while it’s simple
to re-enter whenever you choose,
lying down in your life,

waking up to it
just as you always have—
except that the details resonate

by virtue of being contained,
as your own words
coming back to you

define the landscape,
remind you that it won’t go on
like this forever.

From: http://writersalmanac.publicradio.org/index.php?date=2009/04/27

Date: 1996

By: Sharon Bryan (19??- )

Friday, 24 March 2017

A Sonnet by Amelie Louise Rives Chandler Troubetzkoy

Take all of me,–I am thine own, heart, soul,
Brain, body,–all; all that I am or dream
Is thine forever; yea, though space should teem
With thy conditions, I ‘d fulfil the whole–
Were to fulfil them to be loved of thee.
Oh, love me!–were to love me but a way
To kill me–love me; so to die would be
To live forever. Let me hear thee say
Once only, “Dear, I love thee,”–then all life
Would be one sweet remembrance, thou its king:
Nay, thou art that already, and the strife
Of twenty worlds could not uncrown thee. Bring
O Time! my monarch to possess his throne
Which is my heart and for himself alone.

From: http://www.lehigh.edu/~dek7/SSAWW/writ19CenTroub.htm

Date: 1886

By: Amelie Louise Rives Chandler Troubetzkoy (1863-1945)

Thursday, 23 March 2017

Eclogue XI. Eune from “Nereides: or, Sea-Eclogues” by William Diaper

Eune a wanton Nymph, and Triton Swain
Agreed a while to leave the boundless Main;
And near the Shore unseen they chose to kiss,
Where no Sea-Rival might disturb the Bliss.
There, all that Love could yield, the Youth enjoy’d;
‘Till with fierce Joys, and eager Transports cloy’d
She look’d, and sigh’d; his Lips she gently prest;
Then murmuring fell, and slept upon his Breast;
While pleasing Dreams past Scenes of Love repeat,
And cooling Breezes fan the Summer’s Heat.
Thus as she lay entranc’d, the wanton Air
Play’d on her Mouth, and sported with her Hair;
The Boy less kind, thus as she sleeping lay,
Rose unperceiv’d, and stole unheard away.
(For Men once satiate, when the Rage is o’er,
Will curse that Beauty, which they now adore.)
The ebbing Tide had left the sandy Plain,
When Eune wak’d, and look’d, but look’d in vain.
Sad Thoughts, and black Despair pierc’d thro’ her Soul,
With Tears she saw the distant Billows rowl.
She found her self forsaken, and alone,
The Triton absent, and the Water gone.
Grievous she moan’d her Fate, and weeping said,

Is thus my Love, my easy Love betray’d?
Such Scorn we may expect, nay we deserve,
When wanton Souls from steddy Vertue swerve.
But ah! inconstant Melvin, and ingrate,
When Love was ceas’d, you might have shown your Hate;
You might have kill’d me with those faithless Hands,
Rather than leave me thus on parching Sands.
Well may you follow the inconstant Sea,
The Waves are false, and you are false as they.
By both betray’d, with gnawing Hunger pin’d,
I must unpity’d die, and — die for being kind.
Farewell, ye Sister-Nymphs, believe no more,
Nor trust the Youth, nor trust the hated Shore.
Farewell ye distant Waves; you I forgive,
Well might you fickle prove, and Eune leave,
When he, who lov’d so much, yet cou’d deceive.
Farewell ye sportive Fish, and beauteous Shells,
And shining Pearls, that grow in rocky Cells,
Whose polish’d Orbs on Twigs of Coral strung
Around my Neck the perjur’d Melvin hung.
Farewell, ye Songs, that once were thought to please,
My Voice shall calm no more the list’ning Seas.
Unhappy Fate of the soft yeilding Maid!
Whoever loves, is sure to be betray’d.

Thus the despairing Nymph complain’d alone,
‘Till faint with Grief, and tir’d with piteous Moan,
When kinder Sleep again with calm Surprize
Sooth’d all her Pain, and clos’d her willing Eyes,
And now returning Waves by slow degrees
Move on the Beach, and stretch the widen’d Seas.
Melvin approaches with the rising Tide,
And in his Arms enfolds his sleeping Bride.
Eune a wake, with Wonder view’d around;
The Sea was near, and the lost Lover found.
Ah! do I now, or did I dream before,
Cries the fond Nymph, when on the barren Shore
Left by the Sea, and you so long I mourn’d;
How were you gone, or whence are you return’d?
Vain Dreams (reply’d the wily Youth) deceive
Your wand’ring Thoughts, and false Impressions leave.
He said, and kist the Nymph; she kist again:
He prest her close, and she forgot her Pain.

From: http://www.eighteenthcenturypoetry.org/works/pdi12-w0120.shtml

Date: 1712

By: William Diaper (1685-1717)

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Of Dreams by William King

For a Dream cometh through the multitude of Business. – Eccles. v. 4.

Somnia, quæ ludunt mente volitantibus umbris,
Non delubra deûm nec æthere numina mittunt,
Sed fibi quisque facit, etc. – Petronius*.

The flitting Dreams, that play before the wind,
Are not by Heaven for Prophesies design’d;
Nor by æthereal Beings sent us down,
But each man is creator of his own:
For, when their weary limbs are sunk in ease,
The souls essay to wander where they please;
The scatter’d images have space to play,
And Night repeats the labours of the Day.

*Dreams, whose fleeting shadows toy with the mind, are not sent by the shrines of the gods nor by the divinities in heaven. Rather, each person dreams for himself.
– rough translation by Laura Gibbs from
http://audiolatinproverbs.blogspot.com.au/2008/07/et-canis-in-somnis-vestigia-latrat.html

From: Johnson, Samuel (ed.), The Works of the English Poets with Prefaces, Biographical and Critical, Volume the Twentieth: The Poems of Garth and King, 1779, J. Nichols: London, p. 414.
(https://books.google.com.au/books?id=VYQ7vgAACAAJ)

Date: c1690

By: William King (1663-1712)

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Cradle Song by John Phillip

Be still, my sweet sweeting, no longer do cry;
Sing lullaby, lullaby, lullaby baby;
Let dolours be fleeting, I fancy thee I,
To rock and to lull thee I will not delay me.

Lullaby baby, lullaby baby,
Thy nurse will tend thee as duly as may be.

What creature now living would hasten thy woe?
Sing lullaby, lullaby, lullaby baby;
See for thy relieving the time I bestow
To dance and to prance thee as prett’ly as may be.

Lullaby baby, lullaby baby,
Thy nurse will tend thee as duly as may be.

The gods be thy shield and comfort in need;
Sing lullaby, lullaby, lullaby baby;
They give thee good fortune and well for to speed,
And this to desire I will not delay me.

Lullaby baby, lullaby baby,
Thy nurse will tend thee as duly as may be.

From: http://www.lieder.net/lieder/get_text.html?TextId=12790

Date: 1561

By: John Phillip (fl. 1561)

Monday, 20 March 2017

Description of Rufo the Dragon from “The Life of Saint Margaret” by Wace

One day Margaret was saying her prayers,
As was her custom,
When from a corner she saw a dragon emerge;
It was black and horrible in appearance,
And it spewed forth burning fire through its nose.
Around its neck it bore an iron chain, completely black,
It had a beard of gold and teeth of silver,
And its eyes were sparkling like a serpent’s.
It gave off a great stench all around it
And in its hand it carried a sharp sword.

From: Blacker, Jean, Burgess, Glyn S. and Ogden, Amy V. (eds. and translators), Wace: The Hagiographical Works. The Conception of Notre Dame and the Lives of St Margaret and St Nicholas, 2013, Brill: Leiden and Boston, p. 201.
(https://books.google.com.au/books?id=f__hjbhMw1IC)

Date: c1135 (original in Norman French); 2013 (translation in English)

By: Wace (c1110-after 1174)

Translated by: Jean Blacker (1952- ), Glyn Sheridan Burgess (1943- ) and Amy Victoria Ogden (1970- )

Sunday, 19 March 2017

The Biting Message by Jórunn Skáldmær

Red with blood of wretches
were royal prince’s weapons.
Hirdmen angered Haraldr.
Houses fell a-flaming.

O Hálfdan, Haraldr heard
of hard deeds, did Fairhair;
dastardly seemed your doings,
and dark, to kingly swordsman.

Highborn king of heroes,
his heart was stirred to action
when magnifiers of murder
dared mark their swords with bloodshed.
What more farflung fame
can be found among us
than bestowed by two bold princes
upon hearing hawk-eyed Gutþormr?

Hard-hearted kings repented.
Sindri’s skillful skaldcraft
softened stern dissension.

Strong ode from ring-destroyer
strife stopped for Haraldr.
Good pay from goodly king
Gutþormr got for skaldship.
Pair of lordly princes
poet moved to peacemake.
Spearmen planned for sword-storm;
saved they were from slaughter.

From: Anderson, Sarah M. and Swenson, Karen (eds.), Cold Counsel: Women in Old Norse Literature and Mythology, 2002, Routledge: New York and London, pp. 264-265.
(https://books.google.com.au/books?id=FBYAYvQv774C)

Date: 10th century (original in Old Norse); 2002 (translation in English)

By: Jórunn Skáldmær (10th century)

Translated by: Sandra Ballif Straubhaar (19??- )

Note: This poem, thought to be the only surviving fragments of a longer work, refers to a conflict between Haraldr (known as Fine/Fairhair) (850-933), the first king of Norway, and his son, Hálfdan (known as the Black). Hirdmen acted as the personal guards of Viking nobility. Gutþormr Sindri was a noted court poet (a skald). Jórunn Skáldmær is notable for being one of the few known women skalds (skáldmær translates as skald/poet maiden).

Saturday, 18 March 2017

Café Future by David Dalton Yezzi

The bunting they put out for the grand opening
never got put away, so every day

looks as if it might be opening day.
You inquire if Café Future carries pie,

and sure enough it’s right there on the menu.
A piece of rhubarb and black coffee, please.

The pie tastes like you’d hoped it would, but sweeter.
And though you’re wary of newfangledness,

you’ve never had a piece of pie this good.
You think you’ll make the Future your new place.

The long counter’s reflected in plate glass,
where sunlight pours in from the parking lot,

and the guy who’s looking back at you is you
and not quite you. The morning rush is over.

The chrome gleams with a perfect gleaminess.
The waitress’s smile lets you know she agrees.

It makes you want to stay and eat more pie.
She comes by, young-looking, like her own daughter,

and whisks your plate away. Another slice.
I know I really shouldn’t. Just one more.

That’s fine with her, she says. She’s on a double
and happy to bring you pie all day long.

From: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/arts-culture/cafe-future-new-poem-david-yezzi-180951173/

Date: 2014

By: David Dalton Yezzi (1966- )

Friday, 17 March 2017

Mother Ireland by M. J. Foley

That girl! She put on mother age so well!
Bards, monks and monarchs, who would die
To make her, kept her high and dry,
Never knew her. She herself was hell.
Later, a hag, she found a second spell.
She, who had never made a woman’s cry,
Cursed by the others, gave her own the lie,
Took off her old nubility, and fell.

Large as strife her memory since then
Teases immortality, mimicks tears.
Such a climax! Now the guilty men
Must keep dying! No one dare
Say furiously, “Forget the old affair!
Banba, the witch, is dead a hundred years!”

From: http://www.poetryireland.ie/publications/poetry-ireland-review/online-archive/view/mother-ireland

Date: 1980

By: M. J. Foley (1937- )