Archive for July, 2013

Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Christmas at Holzminden 1917 by Arthur Stanley Bourinot

Desolate, dark and dreary
The dawning Christmas morn,
Desolate, dark and dreary
This day that Christ was born.

Quietly, slowly, softly,
The snow sinks as a cloud,
Quietly, slowly, softly.
The snow falls like a shroud.

Silently, surely, weary,
The sentries pace their beat,
Silently, surely, weary.
The lagging hours we meet.

Imprisoned, lonely, hoping,
The future is our goal,
Imprisoned, lonely, hoping,
Time takes of us her toll.

From: Bourinot, Arthur S, Poems, 1921, The T H Best Printing Co: Toronto ,p. 32.

Date: 1917

By: Arthur Stanley Bourinot (1893-1969)

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

The Night Cometh by Annie Louis Walker

Work! for the night is coming;
Work! through the morning hours;
Work! while the dew is sparkling;
Work! ‘mid the springing flowers;
Work! while the day grows brighter,
Under the glowing sun;
Work! for the night is coming,–
Night, when man’s work is done.

Work! for the night is coming;
Work! through the sunny noon;
Fill the bright hours with labour,
Rest cometh sure and soon.
Give to each flying minute
Something to keep in store;
Work! for the night is coming,–
Night, when man works no more.

Work! for the night is coming;
Under the sunset skies,
While their bright tints are glowing,
Work! for the daylight flies;
Work! till the last beam fadeth,
Fadeth to shine no more;
Work! while the night is darkening,–
Night, when man’s work is o’er.


Date: 1861

By: Annie Louisa Walker (1836-1907)

Monday, 29 July 2013

The Old Men Used to Sing by Alice Walker

The old men used to sing
And lifted a brother
Out the door
I used to think they
Were born
Knowing how to
Gently swing
A casket
They shuffled softly
Eyes dry
More awkward
With the flowers
Than with the widow
After they’d put the
Body in
And stood around waiting
In their
Brown suits.


Date: 1970

By: Alice Walker (1944- )

Sunday, 28 July 2013

The Life of Man by Francis Bacon

The World’s a bubble, and the Life of Man
Less than a span :
In his conception wretched, from the womb
So to the tomb ;
Curst from his cradle, and brought up to years
With cares and fears.
Who then to frail mortality shall trust,
But limns on water, or but writes in dust.

Yet whilst with sorrow here we live opprest,
What life is best ?
Courts are but only superficial schools
To dandle fools :
The rural parts are turn’d into a den
Of savage men :
And where’s a city from foul vice so free,
But may be term’d the worst of all the three ?

Domestic cares afflict the husband’s bed,
Or pains his head :
Those that live single, take it for a curse,
Or do things worse :
Some would have children : those that have them, moan
Or wish them gone :
What is it, then, to have, or have no wife,
But single thraldom, or a double strife ?

Our own affections still at home to please
Is a disease :
To cross the seas to any foreign soil,
Peril and toil :
Wars with their noise affright us ;  when they cease,
We are worse in peace : —
What then remains, but that we still should cry
For being born, or, being born, to die ?


Date: 1629 (published)

By: Francis Bacon (1561-1621)

Alternative Title: The World

Saturday, 27 July 2013

I Want to Know What Love Is by Michael Leslie “Mick” Jones

I gotta take a little time
A little time to think things over
I better read between the lines
In case I need it when I’m older

Now this mountain I must climb
Feels like a world upon my shoulders
And through the clouds I see love shine
It keeps me warm as life grows colder

In my life there’s been heartache and pain
I don’t know if I can face it again
Can’t stop now, I’ve travelled so far
To change this lonely life

I want to know what love is
I want you to show me
I want to feel what love is
I know you can show me

I’m going to take a little time
A little time to look around me
I’ve got nowhere left to hide
It looks like love has finally found me.


Date: 1984

By: Michael Leslie “Mick” Jones (1944- )

Friday, 26 July 2013

When the World is Burning by Ebenezer Jones

When the world is burning,
Fired within, yet turning
Round with face unscathed;
Ere fierce flames, uprushing,
O’er all lands leap, crushing,
Till earth fall, fire-swathed;
Up amidst the meadows,
Gently through the shadows,
Gentle flames will glide,
Small, and blue, and golden.
Though by bard beholden,
When in calm dreams folden,—
Calm his dreams will bide.

Where the dance is sweeping,
Through the greensward peeping,
Shall the soft lights start;
Laughing maids, unstaying,
Deeming it trick-playing,
High their robes upswaying,
O’er the lights shall dart;
And the woodland haunter
Shall not cease to saunter
When, far down some glade,
Of the great world’s burning,
One soft flame upturning
Seems, to his discerning,
Crocus in the shade.


Date: 1878 (published)

By: Ebenezer Jones (1820-1860)

Thursday, 25 July 2013

Auld Robin Gray by Anne Lindsay Barnard

When the sheep are in the fauld, and the kye at hame,
And a’ the warld to rest are gane,
The waes o’ my heart fa’ in showers frae my e’e,
While my gudeman lies sound by me.

Young Jamie lo’ed me weel, and sought me for his bride;
But saving a croun he had naething else beside:
To make the croun a pund, young Jamie gaed to sea;
And the croun and the pund were baith for me.

He hadna been awa’ a week but only twa,
When my father brak his arm, and the cow was stown awa’;
My mother she fell sick,—and my Jamie at the sea—
And auld Robin Gray came a-courtin’ me.

My father couldna work, and my mother couldna spin;
I toil’d day and night, but their bread I couldna win;
Auld Rob maintain’d them baith, and wi’ tears in his e’e
Said, ‘Jennie, for their sakes, O, marry me!’

My heart it said nay; I look’d for Jamie back;
But the wind it blew high, and the ship it was a wrack;
His ship it was a wrack—Why didna Jamie dee?
Or why do I live to cry, Wae’s me!

My father urged me sair: my mother didna speak;
But she look’d in my face till my heart was like to break:
They gi’ed him my hand, tho’ my heart was in the sea;
Sae auld Robin Gray he was gudeman to me.

I hadna been a wife a week but only four,
When mournfu’ as I sat on the stane at the door,
I saw my Jamie’s wraith,—for I couldna think it he,
Till he said, ‘I’m come hame to marry thee.’

O sair, sair did we greet, and muckle did we say;
We took but ae kiss, and we tore ourselves away:
I wish that I were dead, but I’m no like to dee;
And why was I born to say, Wae’s me!

I gang like a ghaist, and I carena to spin;
I daurna think on Jamie, for that wad be a sin;
But I’ll do my best a gude wife aye to be,
For auld Robin Gray he is kind unto me


Date: 1772

By: Anne Lindsay Barnard (1750-1825)

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Song [from “Old Fortunatus”] by Thomas Dekker

Virtue’s branches wither, Virtue pines,
O pity, pity, and alack the time ;
Vice doth flourish, Vice in glory shines,
Her gilded boughs above the cedar climb.

Vice hath golden cheeks, O pity, pity,
She in every land doth monarchize ;
Virtue is exiled from every city,
Virtue is a fool, Vice only wise.

O pity, pity, Virtue weeping dies,
Vice laughs to see her faint, alack the time.
This sinks, with painted wings the other flies :
Alack that best should fall, and bad should climb.

O pity, pity, pity, mourn, not sing,
Vice doth flourish, Vice in glory shines,
Vice is a saint, Virtue an underling ;
Virtue’s branches wither, Virtue pines.


Date: ?1598

By: Thomas Dekker (?1570-1632)

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Ma Will Be Late by Antjie Krog

that I come back to you
tired and without memory
that the kitchen door is open I

shuffle in with suitcases hurriedly bought presents
my family’s distressed dreams
slink down the corridor the windows stained

with their abandoned language in the hard
bathroom light I brush my teeth
put a pill on my tongue: Thur

that I walk past where my daughter sleeps
her sheet neatly folded beneath her chin
on the dressing table silkworms rear in gold

that I can pass my sons
frowning like fists against their pillows
their restless undertones bruise the room

that I can rummage a nightie from the drawer
slip into the dark slit behind your back
that the warmth flows across to me

makes me neither poet nor human
in the ambush of breath
I die into woman


Date: 2000 (Afrikaans and English translation)

By: Antjie Krog (1952- )

Translated by: Antjie Krog (1952- )

Monday, 22 July 2013

Hush Now, the Darkling Man by Ingrid Jonker

for Simone

On the green footpath
of the horizon far
around the earth little one,
an old man trudges who wears
an open moon in his hair
Nightingale in his heart
jasmin plucked for his buttonhole
and a back bowed down by his years.

What’s he doing, mummy?
He calls the crickets
He calls the black
silence that sings
like the rushes, my sweet
and the stars which throb
knock-knock my love,
like the tiny little beetles
in their thin far ring.

What’s his name, mummy?
His name is Hush
His name is Sleep
Mister Forget
from the Land of Dream
His name is hush
he’s called, my sweet
Hush now, the darkling man

Hush now, the darkling man


Date: 1963 (published in Afrikaans); 2007 (this English translation)

By: Ingrid Jonker (1933-1965)

Translated by: Antjie Krog (1952- ) and André Philippus Brink (1935- )