Archive for June, 2012

Saturday, 30 June 2012

Kind Love Is A Lightsome Thing by Allan Cunningham

What lifts the heart of youthood gay?
What thowes the frost of dotage gray?
What charms the hermitage and town?
‘Tis love that warms the world aroun’.

The mavis loves the breath of spring,
That mirth and music back does bring;
And builds his nest, and loud doth sing,
“Kind love is a lightsome thing.”

With love the grasshopper made bold,
Plumes his crisp’d wings of green and gold;
And on the sunward bank reclin’d,
Chirms amorous in the sunny wind.

The damsel who could hearken cold,
To wonders which of love were told;
Now listens sweet, and answers kind,
Loves pleasant trouble fills her mind.

Dear then by burn banks and by bow’rs,
To sit and wooe ‘mang new come flow’rs;
And hold, with beauteous damsel kind,
Delicious commerce of the mind.

But, ah! more dear is winter cold,
When snow-wreaths lie on height and hold;
In darkest shade to tryste our maid,
And lock her in love’s warmest fold.

Some lovers court with letters brade,
Some with rich tokens wooe their maid;
And some in short love grips will wooe,
And that’s the kindliest way to do.

From: Cunningham, Alan, Songs: Chiefly in the Rural Language of Scotland, 1813, Smith & Davy: London, pp. 55-56.

Date: 1813

By: Allan Cunningham (1784-1842)

Friday, 29 June 2012

Coverings by Stella Gibbons

The snake had shed his brindled skin
To meet the marching feet of spring;
With bar, curve, loop and whirling ring
The patterned swathes, papyrus-thin,
Lay on the cage’s sanded floor
Marked with dragging python-spoor.

Flick-flack! Like ash on vulcanite
His eyes and lids in the spatulate
Head were alive with watchful hate,
Daring the sounds and the raw spring light.
He shone like watered silk from his tongue
To his tapering tail where the skin-shreds hung.

The cloudy yellow of mustard flowers
Was barred on his skin with jetty flares
And the five-patched circle the leopard wears:
The sea-shell’s convolute green towers
Were called to mind by his belly’s hue
That faded to pallid egg-shell blue.

He was covered so to face the sun;
That shadows of leaves might match his skin;
That, where the lily roots begin,
You might not see where the snake begun;
That Man might see, when Snake was dressed,
God in snake made manifest.

Mrs Fand wore a fox round her wrinkled throat;
He was killed at dawn as he snarled his threat
In a bracken-brake where the mist lay wet.
Two men were drowned in a shattered boat
Hunting the whale for the silk-bound shred
That balanced her bust with her henna’d head.

An osprey’s plume brushed her fallen chin,
And a lorgnette swung on a platinum chain
To deputise for her sightless brain.
Her high-heeled shoes were of python skin,
Her gloves of the gentle reindeer’s hide,
And to make her card-case a lizard died.

She watched the flickering counter-play
As the snake reared up with tongue and eye
Licking the air for newt and fly;
And shook herself as she turned away
With a tolerant movement of her head:
“The nasty, horrid thing!” she said.


Date: 1930

By: Stella Gibbons (1902-1989)

Thursday, 28 June 2012

That Children in their Loveliness Should Die by Arthur Hugh Clough

That children in their loveliness should die
Before the dawning beauty, which we know
Cannot remain, has yet begun to go;
That when a certain period has passed by,
People of genius and of faculty,
Leaving behind them some result to show,
Having performed some function, should forego
The task which younger hands can better ply,
Appears entirely natural.  But that one
Whose perfectness did not at all consist
In things towards forming which time can have done
Anything, ― whose sole office was to exist,
Should suddenly dissolve and cease to be
Is the extreme of all perplexity.

From: Clough, Arthur Hugh, Poems of Arthur Hugh Clough with Memoir, 1900, Thomas Y Crowell & Company: New York, p. 289.

Date: 1900 (published)

By: Arthur Hugh Clough (1819-1861)

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

This Is One of Those Serious Poems by Brandon Halsey

This is one of those serious poems
And yet it has nothing new to say
But the poet needs to keep himself busy
And writing seems to be the easiest way

The poet rises up on his soapbox
Because he works better from an elevated height
He screams about organized religion, politics
And stripping away of our basic human rights

Like a magician with a classic misdirection
The poet wraps his moralizing in purple prose
He hits you over the head with one simple point
That he’s forgotten more than you’ll ever know

Around the time of the nineteenth obscure reference
The reader is in awe of his far-reaching knowledge
Then the poet overuses polysyllabic words
Just to prove that he went to a good college

And the poet keeps filling up the notebooks
Even though he should have stopped long ago
But the publisher agreed to pay by the word
So unfortunately, there’s four more stanzas to go

Quickly, the release date approaches
There’s one printing, then two, then three
And the poem becomes a hit in coffee shops
Recited by grad students in between bites of biscotti

His face now graces the cover of every magazine
In an explosion of exuberant media admiration
Dozens of talk show appearances are scheduled
For the newly crowned “voice of our generation”

The publisher decorates the dust jacket with blurbs
Complimenting the book’s “dangerously original rhymes”
But it’s nothing more than passing hyperbole
Gathered from a glowing review in The New York Times

Now thousands grasp the paperback edition
And eagerly await the feature film adaptation
Meanwhile, the poet hunches over his typewriter
And commits more sententious literary masturbation

From: Halsey, Brandon, Assorted Poems and Purple Prose, 2010, iUniverse: Bloomington, pp. 1-2.

Date: 2010

By: Brandon Halsey (?1984- )

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

In the Beck by Kathleen Raine

There is a fish, that quivers in the pool,
itself a shadow, but its shadow, clear.
Catch it again and again, it still is there.

Against the flowing stream, its life keeps pace
with death – the impulse and the flash of grace
hiding in its stillness, moves to be motionless.

No net will hold it – always it will return
Where the ripples settle, and the sand –
It lives unmoved, equated with the stream,
As flowers are fit for air, man for his dream.


Date: ?

By: Kathleen Raine (1908-2003)

Monday, 25 June 2012

Freedom and Love by Thomas Campbell

How delicious is the winning
   Of a kiss at love’s beginning,
When two mutual hearts are sighing
   For the knot there’s no untying!

Ye remember, ‘midst your wooing,
   Love has bliss, but Love has ruing;
Other smiles may make you fickle,
   Tears for other charms may trickle.

Love he comes, and Love he tarries,
   Just as fate or fancy carries;
   Longest stays, when sorest chidden;
Laughs and flies, when press’d and bidden.

Bind the sea to slumber stilly,
   Bind its odour to the lily,
Bind the aspen ne’er to quiver,
   Then bind Love to last for ever.

Love’s a fire that needs renewal
   Of fresh beauty for its fuel:
Love’s wing moults when caged and captured,
   Only free, he soars enraptured.

Can you keep the bee from ranging
   Or the ringdove’s neck from changing?
No! nor fetter’d Love from dying
   In the knot there’s no untying.


Date: ?1802

By: Thomas Campbell (1777-1844)

Alternative Title: Song [How Delicious is the Winning]

Sunday, 24 June 2012

Tarantella by Hilaire Belloc

Do you remember an Inn,
Do you remember an Inn?
And the tedding and the spreading
Of the straw for a bedding,
And the fleas that tease in the High Pyrenees,
And the wine that tasted of tar?
And the cheers and the jeers of the young muleteers
(Under the vine of the dark veranda)?
Do you remember an Inn, Miranda,
Do you remember an Inn?
And the cheers and the jeers of the young muleteers
Who hadn’t got a penny,
And who weren’t paying any,
And the hammer at the doors and the din?
And the hip! hop! hap!
Of the clap
Of the hands to the swirl and the twirl
Of the girl gone chancing,
Backing and advancing,
Snapping of the clapper to the spin
Out and in–
And the ting, tong, tang of the guitar!
Do you remember an Inn,
Do you remember an Inn?

Never more;
Never more.
Only the high peaks hoar;
And Aragon a torrent at the door.
No sound
In the walls of the halls where falls
The tread
Of the feet of the dead to the ground,
No sound:
But the boom
Of the far waterfall like doom.


Date: 1929

By: Hilaire Belloc (1870-1953)

Saturday, 23 June 2012

To My Books by Caroline Norton

Silent companions of the lonely hour,
Friends, who can never alter or forsake,
Who for inconstant roving have no power,
And all neglect, perforce, must calmly take,–
Let me return to you; this turmoil ending
Which worldly cares have in my spirit wrought,
And, o’er your old familiar pages bending,
Refresh my mind with many a tranquil thought:
Till, haply meeting there, from time to time,
Fancies, the audible echo of my own,
‘Twill be like hearing in a foreign clime
My native language spoke in friendly tone,
And with a sort of welcome I shall dwell
On these, my unripe musings, told so well.


Date: 1840

By: Caroline Norton (1808-1877)

Friday, 22 June 2012

If You Came by Ruth Pitter

If you came to my secret glade,
Weary with heat,
I would set you down in the shade
I would wash your feet.
If you came in the winter sad,
Wanting for bread,
I would give you the last that I had,
I would give you my bed.
But the place is hidden apart
Like a nest by a brook,
And I will not show you my heart
By a word, by a look.
The place is hidden apart
Like the nest of a bird:
And I will not show you my heart
By a look, by a word.


Date: 1939

By: Ruth Pitter (1897-1992)

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Four Walls by Don Walker

They’re calling time for exercise
Round her Majesty’s hotel
The maid’ll hose the room out
When I’m gone
I never knew such luxury
Before my verdict fell
Four walls, washbasin, prison bed

Well the Bathurst riots ended
When they clubbed the rebels down
And in every congregation
There was silence
You can hear the Angels singin’
When Christmas comes around
Four walls, washbasin, prison bed

I love to march while some Nazi calls the time
Who’d wanna go home

I can’t see
I can’t hear
They’ve burnt out all the feeling
I’ve never been so crazy
And it’s just my second year
Four walls, washbasin, prison bed.


Date: 1980

By: Don Walker (1951- )