Archive for May, 2014

Saturday, 31 May 2014

The Maniac’s Song by Ann Taylor Gilbert

Bring me a garland, bring me a wreath;
Bring me a flower from the dank stream side;
Bring me a herb smelling sweetly of death,
Wet with the drowsy tide.

Haste to the pool with the green-weed breast,
Where the dark wave crawls through the sedge;
Where the bittern of the wilderness builds her nest,
In the flags of its oozy edge;

Where no sun shines through the live-long day,
Because of the blue-wreathed mist,
Where the cockatrice creeps her foul egg to lay,
And the speckled snake has hissed:

And bring me the flag that is moist with the wave,
And the rush where the heath-winds sigh,
And the hemlock plant, that flourishes so brave,
And the poppy, with its coal-black eye;

And weave them tightly, and weave them well,
The fever of my head to allay;–
And soon shall I faint with the death-weed smell,
And sleep these throbbings away.

And my hot, hot heart, that is fluttering so fast,
Shall shudder with a strange, cold thrill;
And the damp hand of Death o’er my forehead shall be passed,
And my lips shall be stiff and still.

And crystals of ice on my bosom shall arise,
Prest out from the shivering pore;
And oft shall it struggle with pent-up sighs,
But soon it shall struggle no more.

For the poppy on my head shall her cool breath shed,
And wind through the blue, blue tide;
And the bony wand of Death shall draw my last breath,
All by the dark stream side.

From: Armitage, Doris Mary, The Taylors of Ongar, 1939, W. Heffer & Sons Ltd: Cambridge, pp. 207-208.
(http://digital.library.upenn.edu/women/taylor/ta-maniac.html)

Date: 1808

By: Ann Taylor Gilbert (1782-1866)

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Friday, 30 May 2014

The Paradox of Jerome’s Lion by Christopher Middleton

Local his discourse, not yet exemplary,
Nowadays he is old, the translator,
So old he is practically transparent.

Good things and otherwise, evils done
Come home to him, too close to the bone
And so little transformed,
Him so transparent,
They float in and out of his window.

Killing fields and the pumpkin patch,
The combat boot putrid in a cherry tree,
Stroke on stroke the mortal build-up,
All the constraint, all the letting go,

So insistent in his attentions
That he needs a breathing block.
For lack of a monitor he might levitate,
The testy old bird, at his window;
He needs an animal, a sure thing,
One to imagine, at last. Speechless
As bedrock, a rough reminder of that.

A dog might be vigilant enough,
Intact, all heart, a yellow desert dog.
Avoirdupoids. A leopard? Markings
Regular, talons to swat
Any hurt away. Knowing
Hunger, not the greed. Sufficient

Unto itself, svelte, clean of limb;
Free through self-discipline, yes,
Yes, through self-discipline free,

And fierce, yet doing no violence
The wild by right he will restore
To a holy place, in time.

For want of that sort of a beast,
He might make do with a frog.

From: http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/181971

Date: 2004

By: Christopher Middleton (1926- )

Thursday, 29 May 2014

You Were My Death by Paul Celan (Anczel)

You were my death:
you I could hold
when all fell away from me.

From: http://www.artofeurope.com/celan/cel5.htm

Date: 1968 (original); 1972 (translated)

By: Paul Celan (Anczel) (1920-1970)

Translated by: Michael Peter Leopold Hamburger (1924-2007) and Christopher Middleton (1926- )

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Isolation by Henry Green Barnett

Thine eyes are dark and luminous as are
Deep winter skies hung with a crescent censer;
They glow like fireless planets seen afar,
Only more coldly blue, graver, intenser.

Thine eyes as strange and straying are
As frozen shells of drifted stellar plasm;
As well might I aspire to reach that star
As seek to arch this vaster human chasm.

From: Barnett, Henry G., The Roof of the World and Other Poems, 1916, Sherman, French & Company: Boston,p. 31.
(https://archive.org/stream/roofofworldother00barn#page/30/mode/2up)

Date: 1916

By: Henry Green Barnett (1890-1987)

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Oh! Where, Tell Me Where? by Anne MacVicar Grant

Oh! where, tell me where, is your Highland laddie gone?
Oh! where, tell me where is your Highland laddie gone?
He’s gone with streaming banners where noble deeds are done.
And my sad heart will tremble till he come safely home,
He’s gone with streaming banners where noble deeds are done.
And my sad heart will tremble till he come safely home.

Oh! where, tell me where, did your Highland laddie stay?
Oh! where, tell me where, did your Highland laddie stay?
He dwelt among the holly trees, beside the rapid Spey,
And many a blessing followed him the day he went away,
He dwelt beneath the holly trees, beside the river Spey,
And many a blessing followed him the day he went away.

Oh! what, tell me what, does your Highland laddie wear?
Oh! what, tell me what, does your Highland laddie wear?
A bonnet with a lofty plume, the gallant badge of war.
And a plaid across the manly breast, that yet shall wear a star,
A bonnet with a lofty plume, the gallant badge of war,
And a plaid across the manly breast, that yet shall wear a star.

Suppose, ah, suppose, that some cruel, cruel wound
Should pierce your Highland laddie, and all your hopes confound?
The pipe would play a cheering march, the banners round him fly,
The spirit of a Highland chief would lighten in his eye,
The pipe would play a cheering march, the banners round him fly,
And for his king and country dear, with pleasure would he die.

But I will hope to see him yet in Scotland’s bonnie bounds.
But I will hope to see him yet in Scotland’s bonnie bounds ;
His native land of liberty shall nurse his glorious wounds,
While wide through all our Highland hills his war-like name resounds,
His native land of liberty shall nurse his glorious wounds,
While wide through all our Highland hills his war-like name resounds.

From: http://bluebellstrilogy.com/blog/2010/04/blue-bells-the-folk-song/

Date: 1799

By: Anne MacVicar Grant (1755-1838)

Alternative Titles: The New Highland Lad; The Bluebells of Scotland; The Bells of Scotland; O Where, Tell Me Where

Monday, 26 May 2014

Ave Atque Vale by Michael Peter Leopold Hamburger

Moments remain, the sculpted, painted, drawn
Split second millennia long,
Current word silenced, ambered into song
Where nothing can change, no bee molest these petals
Which, met, undo me, leave me unborn or dead,
Unable to compare,
Let hand, make memory meddle.
Momentous did they seem? Not now, so still.
They are, are, are, are, are, the things I see
And will be when they’re lost, obliterated,
The model passed away,
On this old empty vase glazed patterns dance,
Above it fixed wings beat, the migrants’ flight.

Good morning, present, absent ones, good night.

From: http://www.theguardian.com/books/2004/jun/19/featuresreviews.guardianreview32

Date: 2004

By: Michael Peter Leopold Hamburger (1924-2007)

Sunday, 25 May 2014

Autopsychography by Fernando António Nogueira Pessoa

(Poets feign and conceal
So completely feign and pretend
That the pain which they really feel
They’ll feign for you in the end

And he who reads what they’ve done
Never senses the twofold pain
That’s in them, only the one
Which they never feel but feign

And so, to amuse our minds
Round again to the start
On its circular railway winds
That toy train called the heart.)

From: http://www.disquiet.com/thirteen.html

Date: 1931 (original), 1969 (translation)

By: Fernando António Nogueira Pessoa (1888-1935)

Translated by: Michael Peter Leopold Hamburger (1924-2007)

Saturday, 24 May 2014

King Arthur Was a Mountie by Gary Barwin

King Arthur was a Canadian Indian
King Arthur was Louis Riel
King Arthur was a Mountie

King Arthur was a pacifist warmonger
King Arthur was the flower of chivalry
King Arthur is a seven-syllable word that begins with a vowel

King Arthur spent his honeymoon dressed in armour
Guinevere was a mail-order bride
Galahad had one routine where he answered questions before they were asked
when he said the word Saskatchewan he said it with a lisp

Ed Sullivan first created the Round Table, but one year later it was pre-empted by the Super Bowl
when the Beatles first appeared on Ed Sullivan they each swallowed a miniature version of the Round Table
when the beetles first appeared on King Arthur, he brushed them off

Johnny Carson is really Galahad
Ed McMahon is the Grail
the Sword in the Stone is really President Kennedy
Marilyn Monroe loved Geoffrey of Monmouth’s History of the Kings of Britain
Elvis loved Arthur
I have never seen the movie where Mae West is Morgan Le Fay

Canada is to the U.S. as Lancelot is to Arthur
Canada is to the U.S. as Sir Gawain is to the Green Knight
Canada is to the U.S. as Arthur is to Guinevere

Merlin had Nancy Reagan in his back pocket
Nancy Reagan was responsible for the downfall of the British people
Sir Kay swallowed eleven muskox because Arthur made him
if Arthur’s court had ever seen a caribou, courtly love would never have existed
the Canadian Arctic is the Grail, filled with blood

Canada is to the U.S. as Tintagel Castle is to the Mississippi
Canada is to the U.S. as Wyoming is to Glastonbury Tor
Canada is to the U.S. as Johnny Carson is to the visionary kingdom of Arthurian Britain

Camelot is not a phallic symbol, it is a place of pure joy
Camelot is the place where I first learned the meaning of the word Canada.

From: http://archives.chbooks.com/online_books/raising_eyebrows/33.html

Date: 1987

By: Gary Barwin (1964- )

Friday, 23 May 2014

La Mort d’Arthur, Not by Alfred Tennyson by William Edmonstoune Aytoun (Bon Gaultier)

Slowly, as one who bears a mortal hurt,
Through which the fountain of his life runs dry,
Crept good King Arthur down unto the lake.
A roughening wind was bringing in the waves
With cold dull plash and plunging to the shore,
And a great bank of clouds came sailing up
Athwart the aspect of the gibbous moon,
Leaving no glimpse save starlight, as he sank,
With a short stagger, senseless on the stones.

No man yet knows how long he lay in swound;
But long enough it was to let the rust
Lick half the surface of his polished shield;
For it was made by far inferior hands,
Than forged his helm, his breastplate, and his greaves,
Whereon no canker lighted, for they bore
The magic stamp of MECHI’S SILVER STEEL.

From: Bon Gaultier (ed), The Book of Ballads with and Introduction and Notes, 1904, William Blackwood and Sons: Edinburgh, p. 228.
(http://www.gutenberg.org/files/20477/20477-h/20477-h.htm)

Date: 1843

By: William Edmonstoune Aytoun (1813-1865)

Thursday, 22 May 2014

I Was Only 19 (A Walk in the Light Green) by John Lewis Schumann

Mum and Dad and Denny saw the passing out parade at Puckapunyal,
(It was a long march from Cadets).
The Sixth Battalion was the next to tour and it was me who drew the card…
We did Canungra and Shoalwater before we left.

And Townsville lined the footpath as we marched down to the quay;
This clipping from the paper shows us young and strong and clean;
And there’s me in my slouch hat, with my SLR and greens…
God help me, I was only nineteen.

From Vung Tau riding Chinooks to the dust at Nui Dat,
I’d been in and out of choppers now for months.
But we made our tents a home, VB and pin-ups on the lockers,
and an Asian orange sunset through the scrub.

And can you tell me, doctor, why I still can’t get to sleep?
And night time’s just a jungle dark and a barking M16?
And what’s this rash that comes and goes, can you tell me what it means?
God help me, I was only nineteen.

A four week operation, when each step could mean your last one on two legs:
it was a war within yourself.
But you wouldn’t let your mates down ’til they had you dusted off,
so you closed your eyes and thought about something else.

Then someone yelled out “Contact”‘, and the bloke behind me swore.
We hooked in there for hours, then a God almighty roar;
Frankie kicked a mine the day that mankind kicked the moon: –
God help me, he was going home in June.

1 can still see Frankie, drinking tinnies in the Grand Hotel
on a thirty-six hour rec. leave in Vung Tau.
And I can still hear Frankie lying screaming in the jungle.
‘Till the morphine came and killed the bloody row

And the Anzac legends didn’t mention mud and blood and tears,
and stories that my father told me never seemed quite real
I caught some pieces in my back that I didn’t even feel…
God help me, I was only nineteen.

And can you tell me, doctor, why I still can’t get to sleep?
And why the Channel Seven chopper chills me to my feet?
And what’s this rash that comes and goes, can you tell me what it means?
God help me,
I was only nineteen.

From: http://www.schumann.com.au/john/lyrics.html

Date: 1982

By: John Lewis Schumann (1953- )