Archive for January, 2014

Friday, 31 January 2014

The Urban Pan by Bliss Carman

Once more the magic days are come
With stronger sun and milder air;
The shops are full of daffodils;
There’s golden leisure everywhere.
I heard my Lou this morning shout:
“Here comes the hurdy-gurdy man!”
And through the open window caught
The piping of the urban Pan.

I laid my wintry task aside,
And took a day to follow joy:
The trail of beauty and the call
That lured me when I was a boy.
I looked, and there looked up at me
A smiling, swarthy, hairy man
With kindling eye—and well I knew
The piping of the urban Pan.

He caught my mood; his hat was off;
I tossed the ungrudged silver down.
The cunning vagrant, every year
He casts his spell upon the town!
And we must fling him, old and young,
Our dimes or coppers, as we can;
And every heart must leap to hear
The piping of the urban Pan.

The music swells and fades again,
And I in dreams am far away,
Where a bright river sparkles down
To meet a blue Aegean bay.
There, in the springtime of the world,
Are dancing fauns, and in their van,
Is one who pipes a deathless tune—
The earth-born and the urban Pan.

And so he follows down the block,
A troop of children in his train,
The light-foot dancers of the street
Enamored of the reedy strain.
I hear their laughter rise and ring
Above the noise of truck and van,
As down the mellow wind fades out
The piping of the urban Pan.

From: Carman, Bliss, Later Poems, 1922, Small, Maynard & Company: Boston, pp. 83-84.

Date: 1922

By: Bliss Carman (1861-1929)

Thursday, 30 January 2014

Among Philistines by R S (Sam) Gwynn

The night before they meant to pluck his eyes
He caught his tale at six on Action News—
Some blow-dried moron blabbing the bald lies
The public swallowed as “Official Views.”

After a word for douche, Delilah made
A live appearance and was interviewed.
Complaining what a pittance she was paid,
She plugged the film she starred in in the nude.

Unbearable, he thought, and flipped the switch,
Lay sleepless on the bed in the bright room
Where every thought brought back the pretty bitch
And all the Orient of her perfume,

Her perfect breasts, her hips and slender waist,
Matchless among the centerfolds of Zion,
Which summoned to his tongue the mingled taste
Of honey oozing from the rotted lion;

For now his every mumble in the sack
(Bugged, of course, and not a whisper missed)
Would be revealed in lurid paperback
“As told to” Sheba Sleaze, the columnist.

Beefcake aside, he was a man of thought
Who heretofore had kept to the strict law:
For all the cheap celebrity it brought
He honestly deplored that ass’s jaw,

The glossy covers of their magazines
With taut chains popping on his greasy chest,
The ads for razors with the corny scenes
And captions: Hebrew Hunk Says We Shave Best!

Such were his thoughts; much more severe the dreams
That sped him through his sleep in a wild car:
Vistas of billboards where he lathered cream,
Gulped milk, chugged beer, or smoked a foul cigar,

And this last image, this, mile after mile—
Delilah, naked, sucking on a pair
Of golden shears, winking her lewdest smile
Amid a monumental pile of hair

And blaring type: The Babe Who Buzzed the Yid!
He noted how his locks demurely hid
Those monstrous tits. And how her lips were red,

Red as his eyes when he was roused at seven
To trace back to its source the splendid ray
Of sunlight streaming from the throat of Heaven
Commanding him to kneel and thus to pray:

“Lord God of Hosts, whose name cannot be used
Promotion-wise, whose face shall not adorn
A cornflake box, whose trust I have abused:
Return that strength of which I have been shorn

That we might smite this tasteless shiksa land
With hemorrhoids and rats, with fire and sword.
Forgive my crime.  Put forth thy fearsome hand
Against them and their gods, I pray thee, Lord.”

So, shorn and strengthless, led through Gaza Mall
Past shoeshop, past boutique, Hallmark, and Sears,
He held his head erect and smiled to all
And did not dignify the scene with tears,

Knowing that God could mercifully ordain,
For punishment, the blessing in disguise.
“Good riddance,” he said, whispering to the pain
As searing, the twin picks hissed in his eyes.


Date: 1983

By: R S (Sam) Gwynn (1948- )

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Isolation by Edward Booth Loughran

Man lives alone; star-like, each soul
In its own orbit circles ever;
Myriads may by or round it roll —
The ways may meet, but mingle never.

Self-pois’d, each soul its course pursues
In light or dark, companionless:
Drop into drop may blend the dews —
The spirit’s law is loneliness.

If seemingly two souls unite,
‘Tis but as joins yon silent mere
The stream that through it, flashing bright,
Carries its waters swift and clear.

The fringes of the rushing tide
May on the lake’s calm bosom sleep —
Its hidden spirit doth abide
Apart, still bearing toward the deep.

O Love, to me more dear than life!
O Friend, more faithful than a brother!
How many a bitter inward strife
Our souls have never told each other!

We journey side by side for years,
We dream our lives, our hopes are one —
And with some chance-said word appears
The spanless gulf, so long unknown!

For candour’s want yet neither blame;
Even to ourselves but half-confessed,
Glows in each heart some silent flame,
Blooms some hope-violet of the breast.

And temptings dark, and struggles deep
There are, each soul alone must bear,
Through midnight hours unblest with sleep,
Through burning noontides of despair.

And kindly is the ordinance sent
By which each spirit dwells apart —
Could Love or Friendship live, if rent
The “Bluebeard chambers of the heart”?


Date: 1894

By: Edward Booth Loughran (1850-1928)

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Fear of Shadow Puppets by Rigoberto Gonzalez

Charcoaled homunculus that only his five-fingered mothers can tame
by closing the socket to conceal his famine’s glare. Still he hungers

for texture and seeks out the meat of depth, the elusive third
dimension denied him the moment he crawled into life, bastard

child of flesh and light. No wonder he’s cruel, finding kinship
with the knuckle of rock, mimicking mono-stings vulgar as black flower

wasps. But even as he triumphs on walls he will bow to his mentors—
your hands. The day you smothered the baby rabbit, frightened face

expelled from the skull’s asylum, your mother knew you had been pledged
to cold humanity. The sock-limp creature dropped to the tile and screeched.

No, that wasn’t the dead rabbit that was you in your range of explosion:
shock, confusion, fear, and grief. What crude consolation: a changeling,

antennae-eared with a twitching transparent snout. Truth is apparent: you
won’t sit on that couch again without its ghost-weight on your brutal knee.


Date: 2008

By: Rigoberto Gonzalez (1970- )

Monday, 27 January 2014

The Sturdy Rock by John Thorne

The sturdy rock for all his strength
By raging seas is rent in twaine:
The marble stone is pearst at length,
With little drops of drizling rain:
The oxe doth yeeld unto the yoke,
The steele obeyeth the hammer stroke.

The stately stagge, that seemes so stout,
By yalping hounds at bay is set:
The swiftest bird, that flies about,
Is caught at length in fowlers net:
The greatest fish, in deepest brooke,
Is soon deceived by subtill hooke.

Yea, man himselfe, unto whose will
All things are bounden to obey,
For all his wit and worthie skill,
Doth fade at length, and fall away.
There is nothing but time doeth waste;
The heavens, the earth consume at last.

But vertue sits triumphing still
Upon the throne of glorious fame:
Though spiteful death mans body kill,
Yet hurts he not his vertuous name:
By life or death what so betides,
The state of vertue never slides.


Date: 1576

By: John Thorne (1514-1573)

Sunday, 26 January 2014

44. The Lessons by John Tranter

Today broke like a china plate,
rain and cloud, drifting smoke;
tonight fell like a suiciding athlete
or a bad joke.
I went to bed with a startling headache
and was distinctly no better when I woke,
I remained dumb in the company of those
who were happy only when I spoke.

Something new has moved uncomfortably close,
something not previously seen:
a talent for aiming the poisoned dart,
for detecting the touch of the unclean,
for discovering that, in the pure of heart,
there is something unforgivably obscene.


Date: 1977

By: John Tranter (1943- )

Saturday, 25 January 2014

The Haggis of Private McPhee by Robert William Service

“Hae ye heard whit ma auld mither’s postit tae me?
It fair maks me hamesick,” says Private McPhee.
“And whit did she send ye?” says Private McPhun,
As he cockit his rifle and bleezed at a Hun.
“A haggis! A Haggis!” says Private McPhee;
“The brawest big haggis I ever did see.
And think! it’s the morn when fond memory turns
Tae haggis and whuskey–the Birthday o’ Burns.
We maun find a dram; then we’ll ca’ in the rest
O’ the lads, and we’ll hae a Burns’ Nicht wi’ the best.”
“Be ready at sundoon,” snapped Sergeant McCole;
“I want you two men for the List’nin’ Patrol.”
Then Private McPhee looked at Private McPhun:
“I’m thinkin’, ma lad, we’re confoundedly done.”
Then Private McPhun looked at Private McPhee:
“I’m thinkin’ auld chap, it’s a’ aff wi’ oor spree.”
But up spoke their crony, wee Wullie McNair:
“Jist lea’ yer braw haggis for me tae prepare;
And as for the dram, if I search the camp roun’,
We maun hae a drappie tae jist haud it doon.
Sae rin, lads, and think, though the nicht it be black,
O’ the haggis that’s waitin’ ye when ye get back.”

My! but it wis waesome on Naebuddy’s Land,
And the deid they were rottin’ on every hand.
And the rockets like corpse candles hauntit the sky,
And the winds o’ destruction went shudderin’ by.
There wis skelpin’ o’ bullets and skirlin’ o’ shells,
And breengin’ o’ bombs and a thoosand death-knells;
But cooryin’ doon in a Jack Johnson hole
Little fashed the twa men o’ the List’nin’ Patrol.
For sweeter than honey and bricht as a gem
Wis the thocht o’ the haggis that waitit for them.

Yet alas! in oor moments o’ sunniest cheer
Calamity’s aften maist cruelly near.
And while the twa talked o’ their puddin’ divine
The Boches below them were howkin’ a mine.
And while the twa cracked o’ the feast they would hae,
The fuse it wis burnin’ and burnin’ away.
Then sudden a roar like the thunner o’ doom,
A hell-leap o’ flame . . . then the wheesht o’ the tomb.

“Haw, Jock! Are ye hurtit?” says Private McPhun.
“Ay, Geordie, they’ve got me; I’m fearin’ I’m done.
It’s ma leg; I’m jist thinkin’ it’s aff at the knee;
Ye’d best gang and leave me,” says Private McPhee.
“Oh leave ye I wunna,” says Private McPhun;
“And leave ye I canna, for though I micht run,
It’s no faur I wud gang, it’s no muckle I’d see:
I’m blindit, and that’s whit’s the maitter wi’ me.”
Then Private McPhee sadly shakit his heid:
“If we bide here for lang, we’ll be bidin’ for deid.
And yet, Geordie lad, I could gang weel content
If I’d tasted that haggis ma auld mither sent.”
“That’s droll,” says McPhun; “ye’ve jist speakit ma mind.
Oh, I ken it’s a terrible thing tae be blind;
And yet it’s no that what embitters ma lot–
It’s missin’ that braw muckle haggis ye’ve got.”
For a while they were silent; then up once again
Spoke Private McPhee, though he whussilt wi’ pain:
“And why should we miss it? Between you and me
We’ve legs for tae run, and we’ve eyes for tae see.
You lend me your shanks and I’ll lend you ma sicht,
And we’ll baith hae a kyte-fu’ o’ haggis the nicht.”

Oh, the sky it wis dourlike and dreepin’ a wee,
When Private McPhun gruppit Private McPhee.
Oh, the glaur it wis fylin’ and crieshin’ the grun’,
When Private McPhee guidit Private McPhun.
“Keep clear o’ them corpses–they’re maybe no deid!
Haud on! There’s a big muckle crater aheid.
Look oot! There’s a sap; we’ll be haein’ a coup.
A staur-shell! For Godsake! Doun, lad, on yer daup.
Bear aff tae yer richt. . . . Aw yer jist daein’ fine:
Before the nicht’s feenished on haggis we’ll dine.”

There wis death and destruction on every hand;
There wis havoc and horror on Naebuddy’s Land.
And the shells bickered doun wi’ a crump and a glare,
And the hameless wee bullets were dingin’ the air.
Yet on they went staggerin’, cooryin’ doun
When the stutter and cluck o’ a Maxim crept roun’.
And the legs o’ McPhun they were sturdy and stoot,
And McPhee on his back kept a bonnie look-oot.
“On, on, ma brave lad! We’re no faur frae the goal;
I can hear the braw sweerin’ o’ Sergeant McCole.”

But strength has its leemit, and Private McPhun,
Wi’ a sab and a curse fell his length on the grun’.
Then Private McPhee shoutit doon in his ear:
“Jist think o’ the haggis! I smell it from here.
It’s gushin’ wi’ juice, it’s embaumin’ the air;
It’s steamin’ for us, and we’re–jist–aboot–there.”
Then Private McPhun answers: “Dommit, auld chap!
For the sake o’ that haggis I’ll gang till I drap.”
And he gets on his feet wi’ a heave and a strain,
And onward he staggers in passion and pain.
And the flare and the glare and the fury increase,
Till you’d think they’d jist taken a’ hell on a lease.
And on they go reelin’ in peetifu’ plight,
And someone is shoutin’ away on their right;
And someone is runnin’, and noo they can hear
A sound like a prayer and a sound like a cheer;
And swift through the crash and the flash and the din,
The lads o’ the Hielands are bringin’ them in.

“They’re baith sairly woundit, but is it no droll
Hoo they rave aboot haggis?” says Sergeant McCole.
When hirplin alang comes wee Wullie McNair,
And they a’ wonnert why he wis greetin’ sae sair.
And he says: “I’d jist liftit it oot o’ the pot,
And there it lay steamin’ and savoury hot,
When sudden I dooked at the fleech o’ a shell,
And it–dropped on the haggis and dinged it tae hell.”

And oh, but the lads were fair taken aback;
Then sudden the order wis passed tae attack,
And up from the trenches like lions they leapt,
And on through the nicht like a torrent they swept.
On, on, wi’ their bayonets thirstin’ before!
On, on tae the foe wi’ a rush and a roar!
And wild to the welkin their battle-cry rang,
And doon on the Boches like tigers they sprang:
And there wisna a man but had death in his ee,
For he thocht o’ the haggis o’ Private McPhee.


Date: 1916

By: Robert William Service (1874-1958)

Friday, 24 January 2014

Sonnet I – Ad Innuptam by Patrick Moloney

I make not my division of the hours
By dials, clocks, or waking birds’ acclaim,
Nor measure seasons by the reigning flowers,
The spring’s green glories, or the autumn’s flame.
To me thy absence winter is, and night,
Thy presence spring, and the meridian day.
From thee I draw my darkness and my light,
Now swart eclipse, now more than heavenly ray.
Thy coming warmeth all my soul like fire,
And through my heartstrings melodies do run,
As poets fabled the Memnonian lyre
Hymned acclamation to the rising sun.
My heart hums music in thy influence set:
So winds put harps Aeolian on the fret.


Date: 1879

By: Patrick Moloney (1843-1904)

Thursday, 23 January 2014

Ode by Elizabeth Taylor Wythens Colepeper

Ah poor Olinda, never boast
Of Charms that have thy Freedom cost,
They threw at Hearts, and thine was lost.

Yet let none thy Ruin blame,
His Wit first blew thee to a Flame,
And fann’d it with the Wings of Fame!

ln vain I do his Person shun,
I cannot from his Glory run,
‘Tis universal as the Sun!

In Crouds, his Praises fill my Ear!
Alone, his Genius does appear!
He like a God, is e’ery where!

From: Manley, Delariveiere, Secret Memoirs and Manners of Several Persons of Quality, of Both Sexes from the New Tlantis, Island in the Mediteranean; Written Originally in Italian, Volume 2, 1736, J. Watson: London, pp. 257-258.

Date: 1709

By: Elizabeth Taylor Wythens Colepeper (before 1670-1708)

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Sonnet 47 by Barnabe Barnes

Give me my Heart! For no man liveth heartles!
And now deprived of heart I am but dead,
(And since thou hast it, in his tables read!
Whether he rest at ease, in joys and smartless?
Whether beholding him thine eyes were dartless?
Or to what bondage his enthralment leads?)
Return, dear Heart! and me to mine restore!
Ah, let me thee possess! Return to me!
I find no means, devoid of skill and artless.
Thither return, where thou triumphed before!
Let me of him but repossessor be!
And when thou gives to me mine heart again
Thyself thou dost bestow! For thou art She!
Whom I call Heart! and of whom I complain.


Date: 1593

By: Barnabe Barnes (?1569-1609)