Archive for March, 2014

Monday, 31 March 2014

The Flowers of the Forest by Jean (Jane) Elliot (with rough translation by flusteredduck)

I’ve heard them lilting at our ewe-milking,
Lasses a-lilting before the dawn of day;
But now they are moaning on ilka green loaning
The Flowers of the Forest are a’  wede away.

At bughts, in the morning, nae blythe lads are scorning,
The lasses are lonely, and dowie, and wae;
Nae daffin’, nae gabbin’, but sighing and sabbing,
Ilk ane lifts her leglin and hies her away.

In har’st, at the shearing, nae youths now are jeering,
Bandsters are lyart, and runkled, and gray;
At fair or at preaching, nae wooing nae fleeching
The Flowers of the Forest are a’  wede away.

At e’en, in the gloaming, nae younkers are roaming
‘Bout stacks wi’ the lasses at bogle to play;
But ilk ane sits drearie, lamenting her dearie
The Flowers of the Forest are weded away.

Dool and wae for the order sent our lads to the Border!
The English, for ance, by guile wan the day;
The Flowers of the Forest, that fought aye the foremost,
The prime of our land, are cauld in the clay.

We’ll hear nae mair lilting at our ewe-milking;
Women and bairns are heartless and wae;
Sighing and moaning on ilka green loaning
The Flowers of the Forest are a’  wede away.

The Flowers of the Forest by Jean (Jane) Elliot (rough translation by flusteredduck)

I’ve heard them lilting at our ewe-milking,
Lasses singing before the dawn of day;
But now they are moaning on every green common—
The Flowers of the Forest are all scythed away.

At folds, in the morning, no blythe lads are teasing,
The lasses are lone, and melancholy, and sad;
No teasing, no prattling, but sighing and sobbing,
Every one lifts her milk pail and goes on her way.

In harvest, at the shearing, no youths now are jeering,
The workers are hoary, and wrinkled, and grey;
At fair or at preaching, no wooing no flattering—
The Flowers of the Forest are all scythed away.

At evening, in the twilight, no youngsters are roaming
‘Bout stacks with the lasses at games to play;
But every one sits dreary, lamenting her dearie—
The Flowers of the Forest are scythed away.

Grief and woe for the order sent our lads to the Border!
The English, for once, by guile won the day;
The Flowers of the Forest, that fought ever at the fore,
The prime of our land, are cold in the clay.

We’ll hear no more singing at our ewe-milking;
Women and children are heartless and sad;
Sighing and moaning on every green common—
The Flowers of the Forest are all scythed away.


Date: 1776

By: Jean (Jane) Elliot (1727-1805)

Sunday, 30 March 2014

Nocturne by Margaret Louise Bradley Woods

This is the place,
Here shalt thou find
Heart, thy delight.
Only the wind.
Only the night
Deepening apace.

This is the place —
Roses of gold
Strewing the grass
Wane as of old,
Gleam where I pass;
Never thy face.

Dark is the place.
Sealed like a tomb.
Liest thou dead.
While in the gloom
Whence thou hast fled
Lampless I pace?

This is the place.
Why like a ghost.
Why do I come?
Seeking the lost,
Praying the dumb.
Senseless in chase
Here of a face
I shall elude
Never again —
I, the pursued,
Seeking in vain
Still in this place.

From: Woods, Margaret L., The Collected Poems of Margaret L. Woods, 1914, John Lane, The Bodley Head: London, p. 170.

Date: 1889

By: Margaret Louisa Bradley Woods (1856-1945)

Saturday, 29 March 2014

Divine Ode by Joseph Addison

The spacious firmament on high,
With all the blue æthereal sky,
And spangled heavens, a shining frame,
Their great Original proclaim:
Th’ unwearied Sun, from day to day,
Does his Creator’s pow’r display,
And publishes to every land
The work of an Almighty Hand.

Soon as the ev’ning shades prevail,
The Moon takes up the wond’rous tale,
And nightly to the list’ning Earth
Repeats the story of her birth:
Whilst all the stars that round her burn,
And all the planets, in their turn,
Confirm the tidings as they roll,
And spread the truth from pole to pole.

What though, in solemn silence, all
Move round the dark terrestrial ball?
What though, nor real voice nor sound
Amid their radiant orbs be found?
In reason’s ear they all rejoice,
And utter forth a glorious voice,
For ever singing, as they shine,
The Hand that made us is divine.

From: Green, George Washington (ed.), The Works of Joseph Addison, including the whole contents of BP. Hurd’s edition, with letters and other pieces not found in any previous collection; and Macaulay’s essay on his life and works, in Six Volumes, Volume 1, 1870, J P Lippincott & Co: Philadelphia, pp. 202-203.

Date: 1712

By: Joseph Addison (1672-1719)

Friday, 28 March 2014

Poem from the Autobiography of an Old Landowner, Who Died Recently by Patrick Evans

He died before he died

Melting the orange seems about to drop,
Distil away and sweeten silence more,
Silence already sweet; heavy and dark
The orange grove where thrives this patient dark.

The heron’s regal state mysterious
Is out of fashion nowadays. His breast
Is gentle ermine, and his long thin crest
Hangs needle-like. Fantastic pride is his.

But no one knows or cares. And in such scenes
As these my part has so far been
Largely enacted, wholly generated:
The love of horses, urge to shape, hot blood
And all my acts and lassitudes. My friends
Who know me know this has been.

Yet I and all like those me stand still now
Lonely as any bell that utters music
And cannot know the reason why; the world
(The individual lost, the mass retained,
The war which splits the thunderbolt in two)
Discovers nonsense not the core of light,
And men become more stupid as they fight.


Date: 1943

By: Patrick Evans (?- )

Thursday, 27 March 2014

More Lovely Grows the Earth by Helena Coleman

More lovely grows the earth as we grow old,
More tenderness is in the dawning spring,
More bronze upon the blackbird’s burnished wing;
And richer is the autumn cloth-of-gold;
A deeper meaning, too, the years unfold,
Until to waiting hearts each living thing
For very love its bounty seems to bring,
Intreating us with beauty to behold.

Or is it that with years we grow more wise
And reverent to the mystery profound–
Withheld from careless or indifferent eyes–
That broods in simple things the world around,
More conscious of the Love that glorifies
The common ways and makes them holy ground?

From: Coleman, Helena, Songs and Sonnets, 1906, William Briggs: Toronto, p. 115.

Date: 1906

By: Helena Coleman (1860-1953)

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Conscience by Gavin Douglas (with rough translation by flusteredduck)

Quhen halie Kirk first flurist in Ȝouthheid,
Prelatis wer chosin of all perfectioun;
For Conscience than the brydill had to leid,
And Conscience maid the hale electioun,
Syne eftir that come schrewit correctioun,
And thocht that Conscience had our large ane weid,
And of his habite out cuttit thay ane skreid.

And fra Conscience the Con thay clip away,
And maid of Conscience Science and na mair;
Bot ȝit the Kirk stude weill, full mony day,
For it wes rewlit be mene of wit and layre;
Syn eftir that Sciens began to payr,
And thocht at Sciens was our lang ane jaip,
The Sci away fast can thay rub and scraip;

And fra Sci of Science wes adew,
Than left thai nocht bot this sillab Ens,
Quhilk in our language singnifies that schrew
Riches and geir, that gart all grace go hens;
For Sciens baith and faythfull Consciens
Sa corruptit ar with this warldis gude,
That falset joukis in everie clerkis hude.

O hungrie Ens! cursit with cairis calde,
All kynd of folk constrenis thow to wirk;
For thé that thief Judas his Maister said;
For thé Symon infectit Halie Kirk;
To poysoun Justice thow dois nevir irk;
Thow fals Ens, go hens, thou monsture peralous,
God send Defens with Conscience in till ws!

Conscience by Gavin Douglas (roughly translated by flusteredduck)

When the Holy* Church first flourished in its youth-head,
Prelates were chosen of all perfection;
For Conscience then the bridle had to lead,
And Conscience made the whole election,
Since then came wicked correction,
And thought that Conscience had an overlarge robe,
And of his habit they cut out a fragment.

And from Conscience the Con they clipped away,
And made of Conscience Science and no more;
But yet the Church stood well, full many a day,
For it was ruled by men of wit and lore:
Afterwards Science began to wane,
And it was thought that Science was one long jape,
The Sci away as fast as can they rub and scrape.

And from Sci of Science was adieu,
Then left they nought but this syllable Ence,
Which in our language signifies that which shows
Riches and gear, that made all grace go hence;
For Science drowned and faithful Conscience
So corrupted with this world’s goods,
That falsehood plays tricks in every clerk’s hood.

Oh, hungry Ence! cursed with cares cold,
All kind of folk constrain thee to work;
For thee that thief Judas his Master foreswore;
For thee Symon infected the Holy* Church;
To poison Justice thou does never shirk;
Thou false Ence, go hence, thou monster perilous,
God send Defence with Conscience unto us!

*Halie (which I have translated as Holy) can also mean devilish – given the wordplay of the rest of the poem, this double meaning was quite likely deliberate.


Date: 151?

By: Gavin Douglas (c1474-1522)

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Lochanilaun by Francis Brett Young

My soul shall be a little lonely lake,
So hidden that no shadow of man may break
The folding of its mountain battlement;
Only the beautiful and innocent
Whiteness of sea-born cloud drooping to shake
Cool rain upon the reed-beds, or the wake
Of churn’d cloud in a howling wind’s descent.
For there shall be no terror in the night
When stars that I have loved are born in me,
And cloudy darkness I will hold most fair;
But this shall be the end of my delight:
That you, my lovely one, may stoop and see
Your image in the mirrored beauty there.

From: Young, Francis Brett, Poems 1916-1918, 1919, W Collins & Sons: London.

Date: 1919

By: Francis Brett Young (1884-1954)

Monday, 24 March 2014

Against Love by William Rowley

Love is a law, a discord of such force,
That ‘twixt our sense and reason makes divorce;
Love’s a desire, that to obtain betime,
We lose an age of years plucked from our prime;
Love is a thing to which we soon consent,
As soon refuse, but sooner far repent.

Then what must women be, that are the cause
That love hath life? that lovers feel such laws?
They’re like the winds upon Lepanthae’s shore,
That still are changing: O, then love no more!
A woman’s love is like that Syrian flower
That buds and spreads and withers in an hour.

From: Bullen, A.H. (ed), Lyrics from the Dramatists of the Elizabethan Age, 1889, John C. Nimmo: London, p. 151.

Date: 1661 (published)

By: William Rowley (c1585-1626)

Sunday, 23 March 2014

What the Sonnet Is by Eugene Lee-Hamilton

Fourteen small broidered berries on the hem
Of Circe’s mantle, each of magic gold;
Fourteen of lone Calypso’s tears that rolled
Into the sea, for pearls to come of them;
Fourteen clear signs of omen in the gem
With which Medea human fate foretold;
Fourteen small drops, which Faustus, growing old,
Craved of the Fiend, to water Life’s dry stem.
It is the pure white diamond Dante brought
To Beatrice; the sapphire Laura wore
When Petrarch cut it sparkling out of thought;
The ruby Shakespeare hewed from his heart’s core;
The dark, deep emerald that Rossetti wrought
For his own soul, to wear for evermore.

From: Lee-Hamilton, Eugene, Sonnets of the Wingless Hours, 1908, Thomas B. Mosher: Portland, Maine, p. 89.

Date: 1894

By: Eugene Lee-Hamilton (1845-1907)

Saturday, 22 March 2014

Hard Times by Harry Buckley Whitehead

Yoh munnut come agen hard times;
We thowt those days were done,
When th’ dust lay thick i’ th’ jinny-gate1,
Where the wheels no longer run;
When th’ yed-stocks2 stood like silent ghosts,
And th’ straps and ropes were still;
Where o abeawt ‘em seemed to say,
“There’s nowt to do i’ th’ mill.”

Yoh munnut come agen hard times,
For Owdham’s had its share.
When th’ purse were thin, and times were bad,
And ther’ weren’t mich to spare;
When nob’dy axed, or seemed to care,
Heaw were its troubles met?
Thoose wounds lie deep, the scars remain,
The folk remember yet.

Yoh munnut come to haunt these streets,
Where once yoh left your mark;
Where care and want together walked,
Wi’ thousands eawt o’ wark;
Where daycent men, fro’ daycent whoms,
Wi’ brocken heart and soul,
Went trudgein’ deawn that hopeless road,
To th’ means test and the dole.

1Jinny-gate – part of the cotton-spinning machinery.
2 Yed-stocks – head-stocks, also part of the machinery.


Date: 1963

By: Harry Buckley Whitehead (1890-1966)