Archive for October, 2012

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Sonnet 100 by Fulke Greville

In night when colours all to black are cast,
Distinction lost, or gone down with the light;
The eye a watch to inward senses placed,
Not seeing, yet still having powers of sight,

Gives vain alarums to the inward sense,
Where fear stirred up with witty tyranny,
Confounds all powers, and thorough self-offense,
Doth forge and raise impossibility:

Such as in thick depriving darknesses,
Proper reflections of the error be,
And images of self-confusednesses,
Which hurt imaginations only see;

And from this nothing seen, tells news of devils,
Which but expressions be of inward evils.


Date: 1633 (published)

By: Fulke Greville (1554-1628)

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

When God Created Messer Messerin’ by Rustico di Filippo

When God created Messer Messerin’
He thought He’d worked a miracle indeed,
Good will of bird and beast and man to win
He took a hint from every kind of breed:
His throat was modelled in a duckling’s way,
His limbs were the giraffe’s to contemplate,
Human he was, at least that’s what they say,
According to his cheery crimson pate.
He seemed a crow when he began to sing,
In learning he was certainly an ass,
And, judging by his dress, he was a man.
Him God created when it came to pass
He’d nothing else to do and hence did plan
To prove His skill creating this strange thing!

From: Lucchi, Lorna de’, An Anthology of Italian Poems 13th-19th Century, 1922, Alfred A Knopf: New York, p. 21.

Date: 1922 (translated)

By: Rustico di Filippo (1235-1295)

Translated by: Lorna de’ Lucchi (?-?)

Monday, 29 October 2012

Beauty by Grace Nichols

is a fat black woman
walking the fields
pressing a breezed
to her cheek
while the sun lights up
her feet

is a fat black woman
riding the waves
drifting in happy oblivion
while the sea turns back
to hug her shape.


Date: 1984

By: Grace Nichols (1950- )

Sunday, 28 October 2012

Homage to My Hips by Lucille Clifton

These hips are big hips
they need space to
move around in
they don’t fit into little
petty places. these hips
are free hips
they don’t like to be held back.
these hips have never been enslaved,
they go where they want to go
they do what they want to do.
these hips are mighty hips.
these hips are magic hips.
i have known them
to put a spell on a man and
spin him like a top!


Date: 1980

By: Lucille Clifton (1936-2010)

Saturday, 27 October 2012

Apprehension by Agnes Mary Frances (Robinson) (Darmesteter) Duclaux

The hills come down on every side,
The marsh lies green below,
The green, green valley is long and wide.
Where the grass grows thick with the rush beside.
And the white sheep come and go.

Down in the marsh it is green and still ;
You may linger all the day.
Till a shadow slants from the western hill,
And the color goes out of the flowers in the rill.
And the sheep look ghostly gray.

And never a change in the great green flat
Till the change of night, my friend.
Oh wide green valley where we two sat,
How I longed that our lives were as peaceful as that,
And seen from end to end!

O foolish dream, to hope that such as I
Who only answer to thine easiest moods,
Should fill thy heart, as o’er my heart there broods
The perfect fulness of thy memory!
I flit across thy soul as white birds fly
Across the untrodden desert solitudes:
A moment’s flash of wings; fair interludes
That leave unchanged the eternal sand and sky.

Even such to thee am I; but thou to me
As the embracing shore to the sobbing sea.
Even as the sea itself to the stone-tossed rill.
But who, but who shall give such rest to thee?
The deep mid-ocean waters perpetually
Call to the land, and call unanswered still.

As dreams the fasting nun of Paradise,
And finds her gnawing hunger pass away
In thinking of the happy bridal day
That soon shall dawn upon her watching eyes.
So, dreaming of your love, do I despise
Harshness or death of friends, doubt, slow decay,
Madness, — all dreads that fill me with dismay,
And creep about me oft with fell surmise.
For you are true ; and all I hoped you are;
O perfect answer to my calling heart!
And very sweet my life is, having thee.
Yet must I dread the dim end shrouded far;
Yet must I dream : should once the good planks start,
How bottomless yawns beneath the boiling sea!

From: Robinson, A Mary F, The New Arcadia and Other Poems, 1884, Roberts Brothers: Boston, pp. 167-169.

Date: 1884

By: Agnes Mary Frances (Robinson) (Darmesteter) Duclaux (1857-1944)

Friday, 26 October 2012

Vanitas by Jane Francesca Agnes (Elgee) Wilde

The glory of Life is fleeting;
Its splendour passeth away,
As the tints and odours meeting
In the flowers we twined to‐day.

How brightly, in varied light,
They reflected the morning sun;
But the chilling dews of the night
Withered them one by one.

So the stream of Existence floweth
O’er the golden sands of youth,
In the light of a joy that gloweth
From the depths of its love and truth.

But heavy, and cold, and fast,
The gathering clouds uprise,
Eclipsing the light, which cast
On the waters a thousand dyes.

And onward, in sullen endeavour,
Like a stream in a sunless cave,
It floweth in darkness ever:
Yet—could we thus reach the grave!

But we wake to a sorrow deeper—
The knowledge of all we have lost;
And the light grows fainter and weaker
As we’re borne from youth’s sunny coast.

Yet onward with drifting motion,
Still farther from life and light;
Around us a desert Ocean—
Above us eternal Night.

From: Wilde, Lady, Poems. The Brothers. A Scene from ’98, 1871, Cameron & Ferguson: Glasgow, pp. 80-81.

Date: 1871

By: Jane Francesca Agnes (Elgee) Wilde (1821-1896)

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Sonnet XXVI by Malatesta dei Sonneti Malatesta

Dead is the sacred bride, she who maintained
My spirit whole, at peace and satisfied;
In heaven she, and I in grief abide,
Another man than who I was, I waned.
No man, but beast, I should have thought it best
To follow her fine form, now cold with death
Nor e’er depart her side at her last breath,
But burn in fire, there where her heart did rest.
To follow her my soul should have agreed
To heaven’s triumph, where she now resides
Until the end of time, as God decreed.
And even though my strength hardly suffices
For me to join her there, would that at least
My body would be laid by her blest ashes.


Date: 1405

By: Malatesta dei Sonneti Malatesta (1370-1429)

Translated by: Tommaso Leoni (1966- )

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Echidna in a Parking Lot (for my son) by Dorothy Hewett

‘Well, I’ve done my good deed for the day,’ he said.
‘I rescued an echidna from the parking lot.’

‘I had a wonderful afternoon,’ he said.
‘I watched some wild mice making a nest in a tea-tree.’

‘I got drunk on vodka and danced all night by myself.
I lay on top of a blonde and bit her on the neck.’
He loathes demonstrations or making himself conspicuous.

Next year he’ll be called up, given a gun
and a meat ticket, or forty days in Holdsworthy
in a bright cold concrete cell with a spy-hole
and a plastic bucket and a water-bottle.
He’ll say, every thirty minutes, day and night,
‘Private J. Flood, No. XXXX, forty days sir,’
and be given thirteen slices of bread every twenty-four hours.

I wish he was an echidna or a wild mouse
who could hide in a parking lot or a tea-tree.


Date: 1995

By: Dorothy Hewett (1923-2002)

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Fragment of Traditional Ballad (Black Agnes) by Unknown

She kept a stir in tower and trench,
That brawling, boisterous Scottish wench,
Came I early, came I late,
I found Agnes at the gate.


Date: c1337

By: Unknown

Monday, 22 October 2012

Echidna by Jan Owen

A stook of fossil hay spooked to move,
he stops the first ant-hole’s gold cone,
tongue just right for the tight hole
dry of black lava he muzzles in, ruthless,
three or four earth-scattering seconds.
He’s crumbed his snout, this shoulder-shambling
sumo waddle on littlest legs, this small decision
teetering in the balance. His charcoal spines
tipped veldt-grass yellow close cosy as feathers
snugging an owl, a strokable neatness dappered down
slick to centre back and tailed with a cactus cowlick.
At my step he’s a-quiver, horripilous, digging in
all stop-start as if in doubt:
hunger gives him second thoughts.
I touch the fine flat central spines and feel him think,
a shrinking in like ripples of water over stone,
then further under the leaves he’s gone
like a housewife in a huff frumping off early
under the quilt in a warning of curlers.
I scatter some bark on the last raised quiff.
The path he’s come is a waste of snuffed ant nests
and deeper holes by crumbling logs;
this patch of scrub is all echidna dreaming –
the amber fuzz of banksia, the fallen she-oak cones,
the dried-out grass trees hunkered down
going to ground like this samurai loner
all swagger and shimmy and shove
who nevertheless will need, come spring,
a whole like-minded team to trundle
a channel around his touchy mate
before the goal’s up under and in.


Date: 2008

By: Jan Owen (1940- )