Archive for April, 2014

Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Excerpt from “Orion: Book III, Canto the First” by Richard Henry Horne

The wisdom of mankind creeps slowly on,
Subject to every doubt that can retard,
Or fling it back upon an earlier time;
So timid are man’s footsteps in the dark.
But blindest those who have no inward light.
One mind, perchance, in every age contains
The sum of all before, and much to come;
Much that ‘s far distant still; but that full mind,
Companioned oft by others of like scope,
Belief, and tendency, and anxious will,
A circle small transpierces and illumes;
Expanding, soon its subtle radiance
Falls blunted from the mass of flesh and bone.
The man who for his race might supersede
The work of ages, dies worn out—not used,
And in his; track disciples onward strive,
Some hairs’-breadths only from his starting point:
Yet lives he not in vain; for if his soul
Hath entered others, though imperfectly
The circle widens as the world spins round,—
His soul works on while he sleeps ‘neath the grass.
So, let the firm Philosopher renew
His wasted lamp—the lamp wastes not in vain,
Though he no mirrors for its rays may see,
Nor trace them through the darkness;— let the Hand
Which feels primeval impulses, direct
A forthright plough, and make his furrow broad,
With heart untiring while one field remains;
So, let the herald Poet shed his thoughts,
Like seeds that seem but lost upon the wind.
Work in the night, thou sage, while Mammon’s brain,
Teems with low visions on his couch of down;—
Break, thou, the clods while high-throned Vanity,
Midst glaring lights and trumpets, holds its courts;—
Sing, thou, thy song amidst the stoning crowd,
Then stand apart, obscure to man, with God.
The poet of the future knows his place,
Though in the present shady be his seat,
And all his laurels deepening but the shade.

From: Horne, R.H., Orion: An Epic Poem in Three Books, 1843, J. Miller: London, pp. 90-91.

Date: 1843

By: Richard Henry Horne (1802-1884)

Tuesday, 29 April 2014

To Castara, of his Being in Love by William Habington

Where am I? not in Heaven: for oh I feele
The stone of Sisiphus, Ixion’s wheele;
And all those tortures, poets (by their wine
Made judges) laid on Tantalus, are mine.
Nor yet am I in Hell: for still I stand,
Though giddy in my passion, on firme land.
And still behold the seasons of the yeare,
Springs in my hope, and winters in my feare.
And sure I’m ‘bove the Earth, for th’ highest star
Shoots beames, but dim, to what Castara’s are;
And in her sight and favour I even shine
In a bright orbe beyond the christalline.
If then, Castara, I in Heaven nor move,
Nor Earth, nor Hell; where am I but in love?

From: Habington, William and Elton, Charles A. (ed), Habington’s Castara, with a Preface and Notes, 1812, J.M. Gutch: Bristol, pp. 59-61.

Date: 1634

By: William Habington (1605-1654)

Monday, 28 April 2014

Pigeons at Dawn by Dušan “Charles” Simić

Extraordinary efforts are being made
To hide things from us, my friend.
Some stay up into the wee hours
To search their souls.
Others undress each other in darkened rooms.

The creaky old elevator
Took us down to the icy cellar first
To show us a mop and a bucket
Before it deigned to ascend again
With a sigh of exasperation.

Under the vast, early-dawn sky
The city lay silent before us.
Everything on hold:
Rooftops and water towers,
Clouds and wisps of white smoke.

We must be patient, we told ourselves,
See if the pigeons will coo now
For the one who comes to her window
To feed them angel cake,
All but invisible, but for her slender arm.


Date: 2005

By: Dušan “Charles” Simić (1938- )

Sunday, 27 April 2014

After a Season of Storm by Edward Thurlow

Yet I am weary of this restless woe,
This hubbub in the empire of the air,
That storm on storm doth still engender so,
As if the skies were never to be fair;
Forsooth the Earth, that is to ruin heir,
‘Gin to avise her ancient heritage,
And, having wrestled long with blust’ring care,
In shaking with infirmity of age:
Or, otherwise, let this alternate stage
Pass to sweet mirth from woeful tragedy;
Too long it has been rent with warlike rage,
Lacking the softer voice of comedy:
In timely change our true affections lie;
Grief without end will make e’en Virtue die!


Date: 1813

By: Edward Thurlow (1781-1829)

Saturday, 26 April 2014

To Miss Charlotte Pulteney, in Her Mother’s Arms

May 1, 1724

Timely blossom, infant fair,
Fondling of a happy pair,
Every morn and every night
Their solicitous delight;
Sleeping, waking, still at ease,
Pleasing, without skill to please,
Little gossip, blithe and hale,
Tattling many a broken tale,
Singing many a tuneless song,
Lavish of a heedless tongue,
Simple maiden, void of art,
Babbling out the very heart,
Yet abandon’d to thy will,
Yet imagining no ill,
Yet too innocent to blush;
Like the linlet in the bush,
To the mother-linnet’s note
Moduling* her slender throat,
Chirping forth thy pretty joys;
Wanton in the change of toys,
Like the linnet green, in May,
Flitting to each bloomy spray;
Weari’d then, and glad of rest,
Like the linlet in the nest.
This thy present happy lot,
This, in time, will be forgot;
Other pleasures, other cares,
Ever-busy Time prepares;
And thou shalt in thy daughter see
This picture once resembled thee.



Date: 1724

By: Ambrose Philips (1674-1749)

Friday, 25 April 2014

Those Heroes that Shed their Blood by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk

Those heroes that shed their blood
And lost their lives…
You are now lying in the soil of a friendly country.
Therefore, rest in peace.
There is no difference between the Johnnies
And the Mehmets to us where they lie side by side,
Here in this country of ours.
You, the mothers,
Who sent their sons from far away countries…
Wipe away your tears.
Your sons are now lying in our bosom
And are in peace.
After having lost their lives on this land, they have
Become our sons as well.


Date: 1934

By: Mustafa Kemal Atatürk (1881-1938)

Thursday, 24 April 2014

Against Love by Katherine Fowler Philips

Hence Cupid! with your cheating toys,
Your real Griefs, and painted Joys,
Your Pleasure which itself destroys.
Lovers like men in fevers burn and rave,
And only what will injure them do crave.
Men’s weakness makes Love so severe,
They give him power by their fear,
And make the shackles which they wear.
Who to another does his heart submit,
Makes his own Idol, and then worships it.
Him whose heart is all his own,
Peace and liberty does crown,
He apprehends no killing frown.
He feels no raptures which are joys diseas’d,
And is not much transported, but still pleas’d.


Date: 1678 (published)

By: Katherine Fowler Philips (1632-1664)

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

The Blind Boy by Colley Cibber

O say what is that thing call’d Light,
Which I must ne’er enjoy;
What are the blessings of the sight,
O tell your poor blind boy!

You talk of wondrous things you see,
You say the sun shines bright;
I feel him warm, but how can he
Or make it day or night?

My day or night myself I make
Whene’er I sleep or play;
And could I ever keep awake
With me ’twere always day.

With heavy sighs I often hear
You mourn my hapless woe;
But sure with patience I can bear
A loss I ne’er can know.

Then let not what I cannot have
My cheer of mind destroy:
Whilst thus I sing, I am a king,
Although a poor blind boy.


Date: 1734

By: Colley Cibber (1701-1757)

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Histrionics by Lola Ridge

–Albert Parsons*
went to his death
singing Annie Laurie;
didn’t another have
a rose in his coat–
or was it a pink–
dramatizing himself–

Blooded rose
hanging out of an empty
coat lapel,
or was it a pink carnation
rose color soft as sunrise
glimmering upon a gallows,
and streak of silver song
ravelled with the rain
on a filthy Chicago morning in the Eighties–
you shall outlast horizons.

*Albert Parsons (1848-1887), known as one of the Haymarket Martyrs, was convicted of conspiracy following an attack on police in Chicago on 4 May 1886. He was the editor of a weekly anarchist newspaper and a strong supporter of the 8-hour day. He was executed by hanging on 11 November 1887.


Date: 1926

By: Lola Ridge (1873-1941)

Monday, 21 April 2014

To the Reader by Cyril Tourneur

It may be (Reader) I may gall those men
Whose golden thoughts thinke no man dare them touch;
It may be too my fearelesse ayre-plume-pen
May rouse that sluggish watch whose tongues are such
As are controll’d by feare or gold too much:
Yet were Apelles here, he could not paint
Forth perfectly the world’s deformities.
For as the troubled mind whose sad complaint
Still tumbles forth half-breathed accenties,
Th’ Idea doth confuse and chaoize:
So will the Chaos of up-heaped sinne
Confound his braine that takes in hand to lay
A platforme plainly forth, of all that in
This Pluto-visag’d world hell doth bewray,
When death or hell doth worke it lives decay.
So perfect is our imperfectionesse
For imperfection is sinne’s perfectnesse.
Yet seeke I not to touch as he that seekes
The publike defamation of some one;
Nor have I spent my voide houres in three weekes
To shew that I am unto hatred prone;
For in particular I point at none:
Nay I am forced my lines to limit in
Within the pale of generalitie:
For should I seeke by unites to begin
To point at all that in their sinne do lie
And hunt for wickedness advisedly,
As well I then might go about to tell
The perfect number of the Ocean sands,
Or by Arithmetike goe downe to hell
And number them that lie in horror’s bands,
(Ne’re to be ransom’d from the diuell’s hands).
Who finds him touch’t may blame himself not me
And he will thanke me, doth himselfe know free.

From: Tourneur, Cyril and Collins, John Churton (ed), The Poems and Plays of Cyril Tourneur Edited with Critical Introduction and Notes by John Churton Collins in Two Volumes – Volume II, 1878, Chatto and Windus: London, pp. 175-176.

Date: 1600

By: Cyril Tourneur (1575-1626)