Archive for December, 2011

Saturday, 31 December 2011

Home No More to Me by Robert Louis Stevenson

Home no more home to me, whither must I wander?
Hunger my driver, I go where I must.
Cold blows the winter wind over hill and heather;
Thick drives the rain, and my roof is in the dust.
Loved of wise men was the shade of my roof-tree.
The true word of welcome was spoken in the door–
Dear days of old, with the faces in the firelight,
Kind folks of old, you come again no more.

Home was home then, my dear, full of kindly faces,
Home was home then, my dear, happy for the child.
Fire and the windows bright glittered on the moorland;
Song, tuneful song, built a palace in the wild.
Now, when day dawns on the broow of the moorland,
Lone stands the house, and the chimney-stone is cold.
Lone let is stand, now the friends are all departed,
The kind hearts, the true hearts, that loved the place of old.

Spring shall come, come again, calling up the moor-fowl,
Spring shall bring the sun and rain, bring the bees and flowers;
Red shall the heather bloom over hill and valley,
Soft flow the stream through the even-flowing hours;
Fair the day shine as it shone on my childhood–
Fair shine the day on the house with open door;
Birds come and cry there and twitter in the chimney–
But I go for ever and come again no more.


Date: 1895

By: Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1894)

Friday, 30 December 2011

The Compleint of Chaucer to his Empty Purse by Geoffrey Chaucer

To you, my purse, and to none other wight
Complein I, for ye be my lady dear!
I am so sorrow, now that ye be light;
For certes, but ye make me heavy cheer,
Me were as leif be laid upon my bier;
For which unto your mercy thus I cry:
Be heavy again, or elles might I die!

Now voucheth safe this day, or it be night,
That I of you the blissful sound may hear,
Or see your colour like the sun bright
That of yellowness had never a peer.
Ye be my life, ye be my hertes stere,
Queen of comfort an of good company:
Be heavy again, or elles might I die!

Now purse, that be to me my life’s light,
And saviour, as down in this world here,
Out of this toune help me through your might,
Since that ye wole not be my treasurer;
For I am shaved as nigh as any frere.
But yet I pray unto your courtesy
Be heavy again, or elles might I die!

O Conqueror of Brute’s Albion
Which that by line and free election
Be very king, this song to you I send;
And ye, that mighten all our harm amend,
Have mind upon my supplication!


Date: 1399

By: Geoffrey Chaucer (?1340-1400)

Alternative Title: The Complaint to His Empty Purse

Thursday, 29 December 2011

Marvin’s Lullabies by Douglas Adams

Now the world has gone to bed,
Darkness won’t engulf my head,
I can see by infrared,
How I hate the night.

Now I lay me down to sleep,
Try to count electric sheep,
Sweet dream wishes you can keep,
How I hate the night.


Date: 1982

By: Douglas Adams (1952-2001)

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

The Spider and the Fly by Mary Howitt

“Will you walk into my parlour?” said the Spider to the Fly, 
‘Tis the prettiest little parlour that ever you did spy; 
The way into my parlour is up a winding stair, 
And I’ve a many curious things to shew when you are there.” 
“Oh no, no,” said the little Fly, “to ask me is in vain, 
For who goes up your winding stair can ne’er come down again.” 

“I’m sure you must be weary, dear, with soaring up so high; 
Will you rest upon my little bed?” said the Spider to the Fly. 
“There are pretty curtains drawn around; the sheets are fine and thin, 
And if you like to rest awhile, I’ll snugly tuck you in!” 
“Oh no, no,” said the little Fly, “for I’ve often heard it said, 
They never, never wake again, who sleep upon your bed!” 

Said the cunning Spider to the Fly, ” Dear friend what can I do, 
To prove the warm affection I ‘ve always felt for you? 
I have within my pantry, good store of all that’s nice; 
I’m sure you’re very welcome — will you please to take a slice?” 
“Oh no, no,” said the little Fly, “kind Sir, that cannot be, 
I’ve heard what’s in your pantry, and I do not wish to see!” 

“Sweet creature!” said the Spider, “you’re witty and you’re wise, 
How handsome are your gauzy wings, how brilliant are your eyes! 
I’ve a little looking-glass upon my parlour shelf, 
If you’ll step in one moment, dear, you shall behold yourself.” 
“I thank you, gentle sir,” she said, “for what you ‘re pleased to say, 
And bidding you good morning now, I’ll call another day.” 

The Spider turned him round about, and went into his den, 
For well he knew the silly Fly would soon come back again: 
So he wove a subtle web, in a little corner sly, 
And set his table ready, to dine upon the Fly. 
Then he came out to his door again, and merrily did sing, 
“Come hither, hither, pretty Fly, with the pearl and silver wing; 
Your robes are green and purple — there’s a crest upon your head; 
Your eyes are like the diamond bright, but mine are dull as lead!” 

Alas, alas! how very soon this silly little Fly, 
Hearing his wily, flattering words, came slowly flitting by; 
With buzzing wings she hung aloft, then near and nearer drew, 
Thinking only of her brilliant eyes, and green and purple hue — 
Thinking only of her crested head — poor foolish thing! At last, 
Up jumped the cunning Spider, and fiercely held her fast. 
He dragged her up his winding stair, into his dismal den, 
Within his little parlour — but she ne’er came out again! 

And now dear little children, who may this story read, 
To idle, silly flattering words, I pray you ne’er give heed: 
Unto an evil counsellor, close heart and ear and eye, 
And take a lesson from this tale, of the Spider and the Fly.


Date: 1829

By: Mary Howitt (1799-1888)

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Suburban Dream by Edwin Muir

Walking the suburbs in the afternoon
In summer when the idle doors stand open
     And the air flows through the rooms
     Fanning the curtain hems,

You wander through a cool elysium
Of women, schoolgirls, children, garden talks,
     With a schoolboy here and there
     Conning his history book.

The men are all away in .offices,
Committee-rooms, laboratories, banks,
     Or pushing cotton goods
     In Wick or Ilfracombe.

The massed unanimous absence liberates
The light keys of the piano and sets free
     Chopin and everlasting youth,
     Now, with the masters gone.

And all things turn to images of peace,
The boy curled over his book, the young girl poised
     On the path as if beguiled
     By the silence of a wood.

It is a child’s dream of a grown-up world.
But soon the brazen evening clocks will bring
     The tramp of feet and brisk
     Fanfare of motor horns
     And the masters come.


Date: 1946

By: Edwin Muir (1887-1959)

Monday, 26 December 2011

A Modest Love by Edward Dyer

The lowest trees have tops, the ant her gall,
   The fly her spleen, the little sparks their heat;
The slender hairs cast shadows, though but small,
   And bees have stings, although they be not great;
Seas have their source, and so have shallow springs;
And love is love, in beggars as in kings.

Where rivers smoothest run, deep are the fords;
   The dial stirs, yet none perceives it move;
The firmest faith is in the fewest words;
   The turtles cannot sing, and yet they love:
True hearts have eyes and ears, no tongues to speak;
They hear and see, and sigh, and then they break.


Date: ?1603

By: Edward Dyer (?1543-1607)

Sunday, 25 December 2011

Santa Never Made It Into Darwin by Bill Cate

On Christmas Eve of seventy-four
The warning sounded out
For all the broadcast stations
A great storm was near about

The girls and boys asleep in bed
Tomorrow was the day
Their mums and dads all prayed
The mighty storm would turn away

Christmas morning was a nightmare
As Cyclone Tracy struck
It ripped apart the buildings
Like an atom bomb had struck

It twisted iron girders
And it flattened all the trees
The might of such a cyclone
Must be seen to be believed

Many boats put out to sea
Very few returned
Most were foundered on the rocks
Or in deep seas overturned

Australia was shocked and saddened
As the news came through
The devastated city
Must be built anew

That suffering and heartbreak
Could happen in this way
A natural disaster
Could come on Christmas Day

Santa never made it into Darwin
Disaster struck at dawn on Christmas Day
Santa never made it into Darwin
A big wind came and blew the town away.


Date: 1975

By: Bill Cate (?- )

Saturday, 24 December 2011

An Aussie Night Before Christmas by Yvonne Morrison

‘Twas the night before Christmas;
there wasn’t a sound.
Not a possum was stirring;
no-one was around.
We’d left on the table
some tucker and beer.
hoping that Santa Claus
soon would be here;
We children were snuggled up safe in our beds,
While dreams of pavlova danced round in our heads;
And mum in her nightie, and dad in his shorts,
Had just settled down to watch TV sports,
When outside the house
a mad ruckus arose;
Loud squeaking and banging
woke us from our doze.
We ran to the screen door,
peeked cautiously out,
Snuck onto the deck,
then let out a shout.
Guess what had woken us up
from our snooze,
But a rusty old ute
pulled by eight mighty ‘roos.
The cheerful man driving
was giggling with glee,
And we both knew at once
who this plump bloke must be.
Now, I’m telling the truth-it’s all dinki-di,
Those eight kangaroos fairly soared through the sky.
Santa leaned out the window to pull at the reins,
And encouraged the ‘roos, by calling their names.
‘Now, Kylie! Now, Kirsty!
Now, Shazza and Shane!
On, Kipper! On, Skipper!
On, Bazza and Wayne!
Park up on that water tank,
Grab a quick drink,
I’ll scoot down the gum tree.
Be back in a wink!’
So up to the tank
those eight kangaroos flew,
With the ute full of toys,
and Santa Claus too.
He slid down the gum tree
and jumped to the ground,
Then in through the window
he sprang with a bound.
He had bright sunburned cheeks
and a milky white beard.
A jolly old joker
was how he appeared.
He wore red stubby shorts
and old thongs on his feet,
And a hat of deep crimson
as shade from the heat.
His eyes – bright as opals –
Oh! how they twinkled!
And, like a goanna,
his skin was quite wrinkled!
His shirt was stretched over
a round bulging belly
Which shook when he moved,
like a plate full of jelly.
A fat sack of prezzies
he flung from his back,
And he looked like a swaggie
unfastening his pack.
He spoke not a word,
but bent down on one knee,
To position our goodies
beneath the Yule tree.
Surfboard and footy-ball shapes
for us two.
And for dad, tongs to use
on the new barbeque.
A mysterious package
he left for our mum,
Then he turned and he winked
and he held up his thumb;
He strolled out on deck and his ‘roos came on cue;
Flung his sack in the back and prepared to shoot through.
He bellowed out loud as they swooped past the gates –
‘Merry Christmas to all, and goodonya, mates!’


Date: 2005

By: Yvonne Morrison (1972- )

Friday, 23 December 2011

Break of Day in the Trenches by Isaac Rosenberg

The darkness crumbles away
It is the same old druid Time as ever,
Only a live thing leaps my hand,
A queer sardonic rat,
As I pull the parapet’s poppy
To stick behind my ear.
Droll rat, they would shoot you if they knew
Your cosmopolitan sympathies,
Now you have touched this English hand
You will do the same to a German
Soon, no doubt, if it be your pleasure
To cross the sleeping green between.
It seems you inwardly grin as you pass
Strong eyes, fine limbs, haughty athletes,
Less chanced than you for life,
Bonds to the whims of murder,
Sprawled in the bowels of the earth,
The torn fields of France.
What do you see in our eyes
At the shrieking iron and flame
Hurled through still heavens?
What quaver – what heart aghast?
Poppies whose roots are in men’s veins
Drop, and are ever dropping;
But mine in my ear is safe –
Just a little white with the dust.


Date: 1916

By: Isaac Rosenberg (1890-1916)

Thursday, 22 December 2011

I Don’t Believe In Christmas by George Hrab

Every time this time of year
I weigh the way we spread good cheer
And wonder if it matters one bit
Why we’re nicer? My advice, sir:
Enjoy what the day brings despite stories of kings
Relish the things that you give and are given

Every time this time of year
I explain in ways plain and clear
To my relief I have no belief
In the reason for the season
But I’m one who defends if these means to these ends
Result in smiling friends, who once were strangers
Where’s the danger?

I don’t believe in Christmas
But I love it anyway

Every time this time of year
I voice a voice some don’t hold dear
And proudly shout despite my doubt
“Seasons greetings” at family meetings
And I still can enjoy like when I was a boy
Unwrapping every toy that I get, and each one I’m giving
This is living

I don’t believe in Christmas
But I love it anyway

The best of intentions never equal the gifts that you got
with a season so perfect I’ll forgive that its reason is not

Every time this time of year
I love the love both far and near
And wonder if it matters one bit
Why we’re nice.


Date: 2011

By: George Hrab (1971- )