Archive for May, 2012

Thursday, 31 May 2012

Wombat by Douglas Alexander Stewart

Ha there! old-pig, old bear, old bristly and gingery
Wombat out of the red earth peering gingerly,
Was there some thud of foot in the midst and the silence
That stiffens whisker and ear in sounds’ fierce absence.
Some smell means man!
I see the dewdrop trembling upon the rushes,
All else is the mist’s now, river and rocks and ridges.
Poor lump of movable clay, snuffling and blinking,
Too thick in the head to know what thumps in your thinking,
Rears in the rain-
Be easy, old tree-root’s companion; down there where your burrow
Dips in its yellow shadow, deep in the hollow,
We have one mother, good brother; it is Her laughter
That sends you now snorting and plunging like red flood-water
To earth again.


Date: 1955

By: Douglas Alexander Stewart (1913-1985)

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Dream-Tryst by Francis Thompson

The breaths of kissing night and day
   Were mingled in the eastern Heaven:
Throbbing with unheaded melody
   Shook Lyra all its star-chord seven:
     When dusk shrunk cold, and light trod shy,
       And dawn’s grey eyes were troubled grey;
     And souls went palely up the sky,
       And mine to Lucidé.

There was no change in her sweet eyes
   Since I last saw those sweet eyes shine;
There was no change in her deep heart
   Since last that deep heart knocked at mine.
     Her eyes were clear, her eyes were Hope’s,
       Wherein did ever come and go
     The sparkle of the fountain-drops
       From her sweet soul below.

The chambers in the house of dreams
   Are fed with so divine an air,
That Time’s hoar wings grow young therein,
   And they who walk there are most fair.
     I joyed for me, I joyed for her,
       Who with the Past meet girt about:
     Where our last kiss still warms the air,
       Nor can her eyes go out.

From: Thompson, Francis & Boardman, Brigid M, The Poems of Francis Thompson, 2001, Continuum International Publishing Group: London, p. 30.

Date: 1888

From: Francis Thompson (1859-1907)

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Walk Slowly by Adelaide Love

If you should go before me, dear, walk slowly
Down the ways of death, well-worn and wide,
For I would want to overtake you quickly
And seek the journey’s ending by your side.

I would be so forlorn not to descry you
Down some shining highroad when I came;
Walk slowly, dear, and often look behind you
And pause to hear if someone calls your name.


Date: ?1933

By: Adelaide Love (?-?)

Monday, 28 May 2012

Fragment B from “Jubilate Agno” [For I Will Consider My Cat Jeoffry] by Christopher Smart

For I will consider my Cat Jeoffry.
For he is the servant of the Living God, duly and daily serving him.
For at the first glance of the glory of God in the East he worships in his way.
For is this done by wreathing his body seven times round with elegant quickness.
For then he leaps up to catch the musk, which is the blessing of God upon his prayer.
For he rolls upon prank to work it in.
For having done duty and received blessing he begins to consider himself.
For this he performs in ten degrees.
For first he looks upon his forepaws to see if they are clean.
For secondly he kicks up behind to clear away there.
For thirdly he works it upon stretch with the forepaws extended.
For fourthly he sharpens his paws by wood.
For fifthly he washes himself.
For sixthly he rolls upon wash.
For seventhly he fleas himself, that he may not be interrupted upon the beat.
For eighthly he rubs himself against a post.
For ninthly he looks up for his instructions.
For tenthly he goes in quest of food.
For having considered God and himself he will consider his neighbour.
For if he meets another cat he will kiss her in kindness.
For when he takes his prey he plays with it to give it a chance.
For one mouse in seven escapes by his dallying.
For when his day’s work is done his business more properly begins.
For he keeps the Lord’s watch in the night against the adversary.
For he counteracts the powers of darkness by his electrical skin and glaring eyes.
For he counteracts the Devil, who is death, by brisking about the life.
For in his morning orisons he loves the sun and the sun loves him.
For he is of the tribe of Tiger.
For the Cherub Cat is a term of the Angel Tiger.
For he has the subtlety and hissing of a serpent, which in goodness he suppresses.
For he will not do destruction if he is well-fed, neither will he spit without provocation.
For he purrs in thankfulness when God tells him he’s a good Cat.
For he is an instrument for the children to learn benevolence upon.
For every house is incomplete without him, and a blessing is lacking in the spirit.
For the Lord commanded Moses concerning the cats at the departure of the Children of Israel from Egypt.
For every family had one cat at least in the bag.
For the English Cats are the best in Europe.
For he is the cleanest in the use of his forepaws of any quadruped.
For the dexterity of his defense is an instance of the love of God to him exceedingly.
For he is the quickest to his mark of any creature.
For he is tenacious of his point.
For he is a mixture of gravity and waggery.
For he knows that God is his Saviour.
For there is nothing sweeter than his peace when at rest.
For there is nothing brisker than his life when in motion.
For he is of the Lord’s poor, and so indeed is he called by benevolence perpetually–Poor Jeoffry! poor Jeoffry! the rat has bit thy throat.
For I bless the name of the Lord Jesus that Jeoffry is better.
For the divine spirit comes about his body to sustain it in complete cat.
For his tongue is exceeding pure so that it has in purity what it wants in music.
For he is docile and can learn certain things.
For he can sit up with gravity, which is patience upon approbation.
For he can fetch and carry, which is patience in employment.
For he can jump over a stick, which is patience upon proof positive.
For he can spraggle upon waggle at the word of command.
For he can jump from an eminence into his master’s bosom.
For he can catch the cork and toss it again.
For he is hated by the hypocrite and miser.
For the former is afraid of detection.
For the latter refuses the charge.
For he camels his back to bear the first notion of business.
For he is good to think on, if a man would express himself neatly.
For he made a great figure in Egypt for his signal services.
For he killed the Icneumon rat, very pernicious by land.
For his ears are so acute that they sting again.
For from this proceeds the passing quickness of his attention.
For by stroking of him I have found out electricity.
For I perceived God’s light about him both wax and fire.
For the electrical fire is the spiritual substance which God sends from heaven to sustain the bodies both of man and beast.
For God has blessed him in the variety of his movements.
For, though he cannot fly, he is an excellent clamberer.
For his motions upon the face of the earth are more than any other quadruped.
For he can tread to all the measures upon the music.
For he can swim for life.
For he can creep.


Date: 1759 or 1760

From: Christopher Smart (1722-1771)

Sunday, 27 May 2012

Song [Go Lovely Rose] by Edmund Waller

Tell her that wastes her time and me,
That now she knows,
When I resemble her to thee,
How sweet and fair she seems to be.

Tell her that’s young,
And shuns to have her graces spied,
That hadst thou sprung
In deserts, where no men abide,
Thou must have uncommended died.

Small is the worth
Of beauty from the light retir’d:
Bid her come forth,
Suffer herself to be desir’d,
And not blush so to be admir’d.

Then die, that she
The common fate of all things rare
May read in thee;
How small a part of time they share
That are so wondrous sweet and fair.


Date: 1645

By: Edmund Waller (1606-1687)

Saturday, 26 May 2012

Friendship; An Ode by Samuel Johnson

Friendship! peculiar boon of Heaven,
The noble mind’s delight and pride,
To men and angels only given,
To all the lower world denied.

While love, unknown among the bless’d,
Parent of thousand wild desires,
The savage and the human breast
Torments alike with raging fires.

With bright, but oft destructive gleam,
Alike o’er all his lightnings fly,
Thy lambent glories only beam
Around the favourites of the sky.

Thy gentle flows of guiltless joys
On fools and villains ne’er descend;
In vain for thee the tyrant sighs,
And hugs a flatterer for a friend.

Directness of the brave and just,
Oh guide us through life’s darksome way!
And let the tortures of mistrust
On selfish bosoms only prey.

Nor shall thine ardours cease to glow,
When souls to peaceful climes remove.
What raised our virtue here below
Shall aid our happiness above.


Date: 1743

By: Samuel Johnson (1709-1784)

Friday, 25 May 2012

Doom by James Shirley

Victorious men of earth, no more
    Proclaim how wide your empires are ;
Though you bind in every shore,
    And your triumphs reach as far
            As night or day,
Yet you, proud monarchs, must obey,
And mingle with forgotten ashes, when
Death calls ye to the crowd of common men.

Devouring Famine, Plague and War,
    Each able to undo mankind,
Death’s servile emissaries are :
    Nor to these alone confined,
            He hath at will
More quaint and subtle ways to kill ;
A smile or kiss, as he will use the art,
Shall have the cunning skill to break a heart.


Date: 1653

By: James Shirley (1596-1666)

Alternative Title: Death’s Subtle Ways

Thursday, 24 May 2012

Late Wisdom by George Crabbe

We’ve trod the maze of error round,
  Long wandering in the winding glade;
And now the torch of truth is found,
  It only shows us where we strayed:
By long experience taught, we know—
  Can rightly judge of friends and foes;
Can all the worth of these allow,
  And all the faults discern in those.

Now, ’tis our boast that we can quell
  The wildest passions in their rage,
Can their destructive force repel,
  And their impetuous wrath assuage.—
Ah, Virtue! dost thou arm when now
  This bold rebellious race are fled?
When all these tyrants rest, and thou
  Art warring with the mighty dead?


Date: ?

By: George Crabbe (1754-1832)

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

No Mourning, By Request by Winifred Holtby

Come not to mourn for me with solemn tread
Clad in dull weeds of sad and sable hue,
Nor weep because my tale of life’s told through.
Casting light dust on my untroubled head.
Nor linger near me while the sexton fills
My grave with earth – but go gay-garlanded,
And in your halls a shining banquet spread
And gild your chambers o’er with daffodils.

Fill your tall goblets with white wine and red,
And sing brave songs of gallant love and true,
Wearing soft robes of emerald and blue,
And dance, as I your dances oft have led,
And laugh, as I have often laughed with you –
And be most merry – after I am dead.

From: Brittain, Vera, Testament of Friendship, 2012, Hachette Digital: London, p. 1.

Date: 1923

By: Winifred Holtby (1898-1935)

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Slough by John Betjeman

Come friendly bombs and fall on Slough!
It isn’t fit for humans now,
There isn’t grass to graze a cow.
Swarm over, Death!

Come, bombs and blow to smithereens
Those air -conditioned, bright canteens,
Tinned fruit, tinned meat, tinned milk, tinned beans,
Tinned minds, tinned breath.

Mess up the mess they call a town-
A house for ninety-seven down
And once a week a half a crown
For twenty years.

And get that man with double chin
Who’ll always cheat and always win,
Who washes his repulsive skin
In women’s tears:

And smash his desk of polished oak
And smash his hands so used to stroke
And stop his boring dirty joke
And make him yell.

But spare the bald young clerks who add
The profits of the stinking cad;
It’s not their fault that they are mad,
They’ve tasted Hell.

It’s not their fault they do not know
The birdsong from the radio,
It’s not their fault they often go
To Maidenhead

And talk of sport and makes of cars
In various bogus-Tudor bars
And daren’t look up and see the stars
But belch instead.

In labour-saving homes, with care
Their wives frizz out peroxide hair
And dry it in synthetic air
And paint their nails.

Come, friendly bombs and fall on Slough
To get it ready for the plough.
The cabbages are coming now;
The earth exhales.


Date: 1937

By: John Betjeman (1906-1984)