Archive for August, 2012

Friday, 31 August 2012

Peace by Henry John Newbolt

No more to watch by Night’s eternal shore,
With England’s chivalry at dawn to ride;
No more defeat, faith, victory–O! no more
A cause on earth for which we might have died.


Date: 1902

By: Henry John Newbolt (1862-1938)

Thursday, 30 August 2012

Driftwood by Winifred Welles

Life gave me these —
The beauty that can only branch in trees
Who are content, knowing the roots’ securities —
The strength to stand up straight and bear the wings
Of a brave ship on her adventurings —
The bitterness of being broken, being tossed
And driven on the waters and the winds, and lost
In desolation, mist and stinging foam,
And being beaten back at last to home.

Now love has kindled me —
Strange that my beauty of dear, green tree
Should vanish into smoke and memory.
Strange that strength, magnificently mine,
Should fall before the flame without a sign.
But oh most strange that bitterness should be
Drawn up in colour after colour out of me.

From: Welles, Winifred, The Hesitant Heart, 1919, B W Huebsch: New York, p. 21.

Date: 1919

By: Winifred Welles (1893-1939)

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

The Bewildered Guest by William Dean Howells

I was not asked if I should like to come.
I have not seen my host here since I came,
Or had a word of welcome in his name.
Some say that we shall never see him, and some
That we shall see him elsewhere, and then know
Why we were bid. How long I am to stay
I have not the least notion. None, they say,
Was ever told when he should come or go.
But every now and then there bursts upon
The song and mirth a lamentable noise,
A sound of shrieks and sobs, that strikes our joys
Dumb in our breasts; and then, some one is gone.
They say we meet him. None knows where or when.
We know we shall not meet him here again.


Date: 1895

By: William Dean Howells (1837-1920)

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

For the Company Underground by Francis MacNamara

When Christ from Heaven comes down straightway,
All His Father’s laws to expound,
MacNamara shall work that day
For the Company underground.

When the man in the moon to Moreton Bay,
Is sent in shackles bound
MacNamara shall work that day
For the Company underground.

When the Cape of Good Hope to Twofold Bay
Comes for the change of a pound.
MacNamara shall work that day
For the Company underground.

When cows in lieu of milk yield tea,
And all lost treasures are found,
MacNamara shall work that day
For the Company underground.

When the Australian Co’s heaviest dray
Is drawn 80 miles by a hound,
MacNamara shall work that day
For the Company underground.

When a frog, a caterpillar and a flea
Shall travel the globe all round,
McNamara shall work that day
For the Company underground.

When turkeycocks on Jews harps play
And mountains dance at the sound,
MacNamara shall work that day
For the Company underground.

When Christmas falls on the 1st of May
And O’Connell’s King of England crown’d,
MacNamara shall work that day
For the Company underground.

When thieves ever robbing on the highway
For their sanctity are renowned,
MacNamara shall work that day
For the Company underground.

When the quick and the dead shall stand in array
Cited at the trumpet’s sound,
Even then, damn me if I’d work a day
For the Company underground.

Nor overground.


Date: 1839

By: Francis MacNamara (c1810-1861)

Monday, 27 August 2012

Pity Wasted by Freda C Bond

So many pangs of the tender heart for those
Who work all day in city office or store,
Electric light their sun, their horizon a brick wall,
These do not feel the stir of the seasons, see
The green tide sweeping over the land or the fire
Of autumn burning the dusty remains of summer.
Their seasons are measured by changes in the menu
At the cosy Dining Rooms,
By the alteration
Of football pools and points for punters.

But where are the heart pangs for us,
Leisured suburban ladies, free to stand in the sun,
To withstand the shattering assaults of spring,
To feel life draining away with ebbing summer,
To know the angry tug of autumn winds?
Every dart of light from the sequin leaves of spring
Pierces our armour, billows of blue air surging
Between clipped hedges raise us in pluming crests,
As they would carry us – whither? We do not know.
The hairdresser at eleven, bridge at half-past three,
Prevents us from keeping our appointment with life.

Pity us: as for those other ones,
In the protective arrest of the city, eyes mercifully blind
To the immensity of wealth they cannot use,
I think you need not pity them so much,
Perhaps you need not pity them at all.

From: Dowson, Jane (ed), Women’s Poetry of the 1930s: A Critical Anthology, 1996, Routledge: New York, pp. 184-185.

Date: 1939

By: Freda C Bond (1894-1969)

Sunday, 26 August 2012

Memory by Walter Savage Landor

The Mother of the Muses, we are taught,
Is Memory: she has left me; they remain,
And shake my shoulder, urging me to sing
About the summer days, my loves of old.
Alas! alas! is all I can reply.
Memory has left with me that name alone,
Harmonious name, which other bards may sing,
But her bright image in my darkest hour
Comes back, in vain comes back, call’d or uncall’d.
Forgotten are the names of visitors
Ready to press my hand but yesterday;
Forgotten are the names of earlier friends
Whose genial converse and glad countenance
Are fresh as ever to mine ear and eye;
To these, when I have written and besought
Remembrance of me, the word Dear alone
Hangs on the upper verge, and waits in vain.
A blessing wert thou, O oblivion,
If thy stream carried only weeds away,
But vernal and autumnal flowers alike
It hurries down to wither on the strand.


Date: 1863

By: Walter Savage Landor (1775-1864)

Saturday, 25 August 2012

On Bringing Him Up by Edward John Moreton Drax Plunkett, Lord Dunsany

(to be read solemnly)

Mister Thomas Jones
Said to his son:
”Never swallow bones,
Never point a gun.

Never slam a door,
Never play with flames,
Never shun the poor.”
Dull old fool!” said James.

From: Cole, William (ed), Beastly Boys and Ghastly Girls, 1990, Mammoth: London, p. 15.

Date: 1926

By: Edward John Moreton Drax Plunkett, Lord Dunsany (1878-1957)

Friday, 24 August 2012

Dead by Ida Affleck Graves

I am nothing, I am numbed, I am nobody,
I have none; I am yellow in the wax nudity,
The jaw bandage, the collapsed lonely nostrils,
The limp soles of my feet wrenched from gravity.
And thankfully. Please I don’t need the music of spheres,
Feathers, mutter beads, nor the clip-on halo,
Nor mother’s Hullo, she in a see-through bone malady
Of flame and tears, she and her Lord least of all.
Spare me this, stiff in the identity of dust.
Spare me. But before I hurtle to the hollow
Beyond this galaxy, grant me please the paws
And purrs of cats, mine, all nine of them.


Date: 1994

By: Ida Affleck Graves (1902-1999)

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Taking the Census by Charles Robert Thatcher

A New Original Song, as written and sung by Thatcher, with deafening applause, at the ‘Shamrock’.(Air – ‘Miser’s Man’)

When the census is taken, of course,
   All the elderly females are furious,
They don’t like to tell their real age,
   For gov’ment they say is too curious:
I got hold of a chap that went round,
   For I wanted to twig their rum capers,
So I tipped him a crown on the sly
   To let me look over his papers.

There’s that elderly dame, Mother Baggs,
   Has marked down her age twenty-seven,
Although she’s possessed of five kids,
   The eldest of which is eleven;
Miss Fluffen says she’s thirty-two,
   But to tell such a story is naughty,
She’s a regular frumpish old maid,
   And if she’s a year old she’s forty.

There’s another thing struck me as queer,
   As the papers I sat overhauling,
Beneath occupation, thinks I,
   I’ll soon find out each person’s calling;
But the first I looked at made me grin,
   My wash’woman, old Mother Archer,
Beneath occupation I found
   Had described herself as a clear starcher.

The chemists’s assistant up here,
   When his paper I happened to see, sirs,
‘Pon my honour had had the vile cheek
   To mark after his name M.D., sirs,
And Bolus, that wretched old quack,
   Whom folks here regard with suspicion,
When his paper I looked at, I found
   He’d put himself down a physician!

Here’s a barbarous custom you’ll say,
   No less than three diff’rent hairdressers,
In the papers which they have all filled up
   Have described themselves all as professors;
In Heidelberg district I find
   My bounceable friend, Harry Potter,
In the paper he has sent in,
   Tries to make us believe he’s a squatter.

My friend said he called on two girls,
   Who are noted for cutting run capers,
They live in an elegant crib,
   And he knocked at the door for their papers;
They handed him what he required,
   He read, but exclaimed with vexation,
‘The instructions you haven’t fulfilled —
   ‘You’ve not put down your occupation.’

‘Well, Poll, that’s a good ‘un,’ says one,
   And both of them burst out a-laughing,
But the young man exclaimed precious quick
   ‘I can’t stay all day while you’re chaffing;’
‘Occupation’ says she with a scream,
   (Her laughter was pretty near killing her),
‘Poll, I’m blowed if I knows what you are,
   But, young man, shove me down as a milliner.’


Date: ?

By: Charles Robert Thatcher (1831-1878)

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

For Johnny by John Sleigh Pudney

Do not despair
For Johnny-head-in-air;
He sleeps as sound
As Johnny underground.

Fetch out no shroud
For Johnny-in-the-cloud;
And keep your tears
For him in after years.

Better by far
For Johnny-the-bright-star,
To keep your head,
And see his children fed.


Date: 1941

By: John Sleigh Pudney (1909-1977)