Archive for May, 2013

Friday, 31 May 2013

Colemira. A Culinary Eclogue by William Shenstone

Night’s sable Clouds had half the Globe o’erspread,
And Silence reign’d, and Folks were gone to Bed:
When Love, which gentle sleep can ne’er inspire,
Had seated Damon by the Kitchen Fire.

Pensive he lay, extended on the Ground;
The little Lares kept their Vigils round;
The fawning Cats compassionate his case,
And purr around, and gently lick his Face:

To all his ‘plaints the sleeping Curs reply,
And with hoarse Snorings imitate a Sigh.
Such gloomy Scenes with Lovers’ Minds agree,
And Solitude to them is best Society.

Cou’d I (he cry’d) express, how bright a grace
Adorns thy morning Hands, and well-wash’d Face;
Thou wou’dst, Colemira, grant what I implore,
And yield me Love, or wash thy Face no more.

Ah! who can see, and seeing, not admire,
Whene’er she sets the Pot upon the Fire!
Her Hands out-shine the Fire, and redder things;
Her Eyes are blacker than the Pot she brings.

But sure no Chamber-damsel can compare,
When in meridian Lustre shines my Fair,
When warm’d with Dinner’s toil, in pearly rills,
Adown her goodly Cheek the Sweat distills.

Oh! how I long, how ardently desire,
To view those rosy Fingers strike the Lyre!
For late, when Bees to change their Climes began,
How did I see ’em thrum the Frying-pan!

With her! I shou’d not envy G— his Queen,
Tho’ She in royal Grandeur deck’d be seen:
Whilst Rags, just sever’d from my Fair-one’s Gown,
In russet Pomp, and greasy Pride hang down.

Ah! how it does my drooping Heart rejoice,
When in the Hall I hear thy mellow Voice!
How wou’d that Voice exceed the Village-bell;
Would’st thou but sing, “I like thee passing well”!

When from the Hearth she bade the Pointers go,
How soft! how easy did her Accents flow!
“Get out, she cry’d, when Strangers come to Sup,
“One ne’er can raise those snoring Devils up.”

Then, full of wrath, she kick’d each lazy Brute,
Alas! I envy’d even that Salute:
‘Twas sure misplac’d, — Shock said, or seem’d to say,
He has as lief, I had the kick, as they.

If she the mystic Bellows take in hand,
Who like the Fair can that Machine command?
O may’st thou ne’er by Eolus be seen,
For he wou’d sure demand thee for his Queen.

But shou’d the Flame this rougher aid refuse,
And only gentler Med’cines be of use:
With full-blown Cheeks she ends the doubtful strife,
Foments the infant Flame, and puffs it into life.

Such Arts, as these, exalt the drooping Fire,
But in my Breast a fiercer Flame inspire:
I burn! I burn! O! give thy puffing o’er,
And swell thy Cheeks, and pout thy Lips no more!

With all her haughty Looks, the time I’ve seen;
When this proud Damsel has more humble been,
When with nice Airs she hoist the Pan-cake round,
And dropt it, hapless Fair! upon the Ground.

Look, with what charming grace! what winning tricks!
The artful Charmer rubs the Candlesticks:
So bright she makes the Candlesticks she handles,
Oft have I said, — There were no need of Candles.

But thou, my Fair! who never wou’dst approve
Or hear, the tender Story of my love;
Or mind, how burns my raging Breast, — a Button—
Perhaps art dreaming of — a Breast of Mutton.

Thus said, and wept the sad desponding Swain,
Revealing to the sable Walls his Pain:
But Nymphs are free with those they shou’d deny;
To those, they love, more exquisitely coy!

Now chirping Crickets raise their tinkling Voice,
The lambent Flames in languid Streams arise,
And Smoke in azure Folds evaporates and dies.


Date: 1737

By: William Shenstone (1714-1763)

Thursday, 30 May 2013

Tragedies by George Pellew

A Fragment

The saddest of all tragedies are those
Wherein the actors dare not speak a word;
Warm hearts are broken, but no sound is heard,
And all goes smiling to the fatal close.
And sometimes there is one who partly knows.
As I half know, how like a frightened bird,
For all your brave, gay looks, your heart is stirred.
And trembles in the midst of loving foes.

From: Pellew, George, The Poems of George Pellew, edited, with an Introduction, by W D Howells, 1892, W B Clarke & Co: Boston, p. 38.

Date: 1885

By: George Pellew (1859-1892)

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Come, Giue Me Needle, Stitch Cloth, Silke and Chaire by John Lyly

A Gentlewoman yt married a yonge Gent who after forsooke (hir,) where vppon she tooke hir Needle in which she was excellent and worked vpon hir Sampler thus

Come, giue me needle, stitch cloth, silke and chaire
yt I may sitt and sigh, and sow and singe
For perfect coollors to discribe ye aire
a subtile persinge changinge constant thinge
No false stitch will I make, my hart is true zo
plaine stitche my Sampler is for to complaine
How men haue tongues of hony, harts of rue.
true tongues and harts are one, men makes them twaine.
Giue me black silk yt sable suites my hart
and yet som white though white words do deceiue
No green at all for youth I must part
Purple and blew, fast loue and faith to weaue.
Mayden no more sleepeless ile goe to bedd
Take all away, ye work works in my hedd.

From: Bond, R Warwick (ed), The Complete Works of John Lyly, Volume III, 1902, Clarendon Press: Oxford, p. 473.

Date: c1580

By: John Lyly (c1553-1606)

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Cheshire Cat by Kenneth Allott

Tonight the rain sheets down. After an hour
It does not seem there can be any more;
And I am moved,
Stripped of whatever’s English for savoir-faire,
To tell you, where you are,
How you are loved,
And how your harm I mean if once believed.

Streakingly listening in a rain-darkened door
To roof and railing drip
Beaded like idiot’s trembling underlip,
And nervous as a hare;
By a sky deepening like a bruise
I suck the hollow tooth
Of absence, absence until the wet slates whirl:
A syllable would spoil
My choked rage at the between-us leagues of air.

Now the black houses lean
Peopling with your face
My loneliness;
And I mislay the minimum of phlegm
Which furnishes to time
Parodies of what I am
(Oh, scissors and wing-collars of routine)
For all-elastic Gobis of migraine
On a damned continent without a name.


Date: 1947

By: Kenneth Allott (1912-1973)

Monday, 27 May 2013

John Anderson’s Answer by John Byrne Leicester Warren

I cannot kiss thee as I used to kiss;
Time, who is lord of love, must answer this.
Shall I believe thine eyes have grown less sweet?
Nay, but my life-blood fails on heavier feet.
Time goes, old girl, time goes.

I cannot hold as once I held thy hand;
Youth is a tree whose leaves fall light as sand.
Hast thou known many trees that shed them so?
Ay me, sweetheart, I know, ay me, I know.
Time goes, my bird, time goes.

I cannot love thee as I used to love.
Age comes, and little Love takes flight above.
If our eyes fail, have his the deeper glow?
I do not know, sweetheart, I do not know.
Time goes, old girl, time goes.

Why, the gold cloud grows leaden, as the eve
Deepens, and one by one its glories leave.
And, if you press me, dear, why this is so,
That this is worth a tear is all I know.
Time flows and rows and goes.

In that old day the subtle child-god came;
Meek were his eyelids, but his eyeballs flame,
With sandals of desire his light feet shod,
With eyes and breath of fire a perfect god
He rose, my girl, he rose.

He went, my girl, and raised your hand and sighed,
“Would that my spirit always could abide.”
And whispered, “Go your ways and play your day,
Would I were god of time, but my brief sway
Is briefer than a rose.”

Old wife, old love, there is a something yet
That makes amends, tho’ all the glory set;
The after-love that holds thee trebly mine,
Though thy lips fade, my dove, and we decline,
And time, dear heart, still goes.

From: Warren, John Leicester, Rehearsals, A Book of Verses, 1870, Strahan and Co: London, pp. 78-80.

Date: 1870

By: John Byrne Leicester Warren (1835-1895)

Sunday, 26 May 2013

Ignorance by Kasey Chambers

Don’t wanna read the paper
I don’t like bad news
Last night a man got shot
Outside the house of blues
I’d like to ignore it
I’d like to just pretend
That the reason for it
Is something I can comprehend

I don’t listen to the radio
Last time it made me cry
Two boys went crazy
Fifteen kids died
And I don’t know their families
I don’t ask ’em how they’re going
They’re on the other side of the world
But it’s way too close to home

I’ve got something to say
And I thought it might be worth a mention
If you’re not pissed off at the world
Then you’re just not paying attention
And you can turn off the TV
And go about your day
But just ‘cos you don’t see it
It don’t mean it’s gone away hey

We don’t talk to our neighbours
They’ve got funny coloured skin
We see ’em out on the sidewalk
But we don’t invite ’em in
We only eat when we’re hungry
And we throw the rest away
While babies in Cambodia
Are starving every day

We risk our lives
We hit our wives
We act like everything is funny
We hide our pain
While we go insane
We sell our souls for money
We curse our mums
We build our bombs
We make our children cry
We watch the band
While Vietnam
Just watch their children die.


Date: 2001

By: Kasey Chambers (1976- )

Saturday, 25 May 2013

Winter Sleep by Edith Matilda Thomas

I know it must be winter (though I sleep)—
I know it must be winter, for I dream
I dip my bare feet in the running stream,
And flowers are many, and the grass grows deep.

I know I must be old (how age deceives!)
I know I must be old, for, all unseen,
My heart grows young, as autumn fields grow green,
When late rains patter on the falling sheaves.

I know I must be tired (and tired souls err)—
I know I must be tired, for all my soul
To deeds of daring beats a glad, faint roll,
As storms the riven pine to music stir.

I know I must be dying (Death draws near)—
I know I must be dying, for I crave
Life—life, strong life, and think not of the grave,
And turf-bound silence, in the frosty year.


Date: 1896

By: Edith Matilda Thomas (1854-1925)

Friday, 24 May 2013

Kender Mourning Song by Michael Williams

Always before, the spring returned.
The bright world in its cycle spun
In the air and flowers, grass and fern,
Assured and cradled by the sun.

Always before, you could explain
The turning darkness of the earth,
And how that dark embraced the rain,
And gave the ferns and flowers birth.

Already I forget those things,
And how a vein of gold survives
The mining of a thousand springs,
The season of a thousand lives.

Now winter is my memory,
Now autumn, now summer light –
So every spring from now will be
Another season into night.

From: Weis, Margaret and Hickman, Tracy, Dragonlance Chronicles. Dragons of Autumn Twilight. Dragons of Winter Night. Dragons of Spring Dawning, 1988, Penguin: London, p. 931.

Date: 1985

By: Michael Williams (?- )

Thursday, 23 May 2013

The Dream by David MacBeth Moir

Methought I died, and to the silent grave
My friends did bear me. Still and motionless
I lay, yet not without the power to have
Full knowledge of my utter helplessness,
In that my dreadful grim hour of distress;
My thought remain’d, and feeling, actively
As they were wont,º nor was sensation less
Active; but my pulse was not, and mine eye
Seem’d death-like fix’d, and glaz’d, to those standing by.

They wrapt me in my white funereal shroud,
And clos’d my useless eyes, then gently drew
The death-robes o’er them, like a fleecy cloud;
My mother kiss’d me, and my sisters too,
Then my thoughts like the wind-swept ocean grew,
And horror was my own: a fire flash’d red,
And gleam’d, as through my scorched brain it flew,
And wildly o’er mine eyes its lightening sped,
When my dream changed, and darkness came instead.

I heard them talk, and heard my mother’s wail,
I heard the sobbings of my father’s breast,
And struggled — but in vain; and nail by nail
Was driven; then my tortur’d head was prest,
As with a crushing weight, which straightway pass’d,
And then I felt them carry me away
From all my kindred, weeping and distrest.
Oh how I inward shudder’d at decay,
And pray’d in anguish for the blessed light of day!

I heard the measured march, and sullen tread,
And, now and then, a murmur pass along,
Hollow and deep, as best befits the dead
To be spoke of, although men say no wrong:
They went the graves and sepulchres among,
And all, in still and solemn silence, stood
To let the coffin down; and earth they flung
Upon me, and I heard them beat the sod—
I rav’d, and in my madness did blaspheme my God!

But that too pass’d away, and I could think,
And feel, and know my dismal, helpless state;
My body knew corruption; I did shrink
To feel the icy worm — my only mate,
For thousands crawl’d upon me, all elate
At their new prey, and o’er my rotting face
They blindly crept and revell’d, after that
They did their noisome, vile, dark passage trace,
To make my burning brain their loathsome resting-place.

Then, eager to renew their feast, would press
My skull and eyeless sockets, passing through,
And intertwining, till they grew a mass
Within my mouth, when my soul froze anew,
And shudder’d, — ’twas in vain: alas! I knew
I was a victim to corruption’s power.
My horrid dream was o’er — but the cold dew
Was on my forehead, like the glistering show’r
That falls from church-yard cypress at the midnight hour.


Date: 1825

By: David MacBeth Moir (1798-1851)

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

The City at the End of Things by Archibald Lampman

Beside the pounding cataracts
Of midnight streams unknown to us
‘Tis builded in the leafless tracts
And valleys huge of Tartarus.
Lurid and lofty and vast it seems;
It hath no rounded name that rings,
But I have heard it called in dreams
The City of the End of Things.
Its roofs and iron towers have grown
None knoweth how high within the night,
But in its murky streets far down
A flaming terrible and bright
Shakes all the stalking shadows there,
Across the walls, across the floors,
And shifts upon the upper air
From out a thousand furnace doors;
And all the while an awful sound
Keeps roaring on continually,
And crashes in the ceaseless round
Of a gigantic harmony.
Through its grim depths re-echoing
And all its weary height of walls,
With measured roar and iron ring,
The inhuman music lifts and falls.
Where no thing rests and no man is,
And only fire and night hold sway;
The beat, the thunder and the hiss
Cease not, and change not, night nor day.
And moving at unheard commands,
The abysses and vast fires between,
Flit figures that with clanking hands
Obey a hideous routine;
They are not flesh, they are not bone,
They see not with the human eye,
And from their iron lips is blown
A dreadful and monotonous cry;
And whoso of our mortal race
Should find that city unaware,
Lean Death would smite him face to face,
And blanch him with its venomed air:
Or caught by the terrific spell,
Each thread of memory snapt and cut,
His soul would shrivel and its shell
Go rattling like an empty nut.

It was not always so, but once,
In days that no man thinks upon,
Fair voices echoed from its stones,
The light above it leaped and shone:
Once there were multitudes of men,
That built that city in their pride,
Until its might was made, and then
They withered age by age and died.
But now of that prodigious race,
Three only in an iron tower,
Set like carved idols face to face,
Remain the masters of its power;
And at the city gate a fourth,
Gigantic and with dreadful eyes,
Sits looking toward the lightless north,
Beyond the reach of memories;
Fast rooted to the lurid floor,
A bulk that never moves a jot,
In his pale body dwells no more,
Or mind or soul,-an idiot!
But sometime in the end those three
Shall perish and their hands be still,
And with the master’s touch shall flee
Their incommunicable skill.
A stillness absolute as death
Along the slacking wheels shall lie,
And, flagging at a single breath,
The fires shall moulder out and die.
The roar shall vanish at its height,
And over that tremendous town
The silence of eternal night
Shall gather close and settle down.
All its grim grandeur, tower and hall,
Shall be abandoned utterly,
And into rust and dust shall fall
From century to century;
Nor ever living thing shall grow,
Nor trunk of tree, nor blade of grass;
No drop shall fall, no wind shall blow,
Nor sound of any foot shall pass:
Alone of its accursèd state,
One thing the hand of Time shall spare,
For the grim Idiot at the gate
Is deathless and eternal there.


Date: 1899

By: Archibald Lampman (1861-1899)