Archive for June, 2014

Monday, 30 June 2014

Lean On Me by William Harrison (Bill) Withers, Junior

Sometimes in our lives
We all have pain, we all have sorrow
But if we are wise
We know that there’s always tomorrow

Lean on me when you’re not strong
And I’ll be your friend, I’ll help you carry on
For it won’t be long
‘Til I’m gonna need somebody to lean on

Please, swallow your pride
If I have things you need to borrow
For no one can fill those of your needs
That you won’t let show

You just call on me, brother, when you need a hand
We all need somebody to lean on
I just might have a problem that you’ll understand
We all need somebody to lean on

If there is a load
You have to bear that you can’t carry
I’m right up the road, I’ll share your load
If you just call me.


Date: 1971

By: Willliam Harrison “Bill” Withers, Junior (1938- )

Sunday, 29 June 2014

Excerpt from “Il Pastor Fido: Or, The Faithful Shepherd” by Giovanni Battista Guarini

O simpleton! and who forbids thy bliss?
Life is too short to let it pass away
With but a single lover; men besides
(Whether from cruelty or nature’s fault)
Are far too sparing of their favors to us;
And we’re no longer precious in their eyes
Than while the bloom of youth adorns our face.
Take youth and beauty from us, we remain
Like the forlorn abodes bees once possess’d,
Of all their honey rifled, barren trunks
That stand unheeded, all their sweetness gone.
Leave therefore men to prattle as they please,
Because they neither know nor ever feel
The troubles wretched women bear. Our case
Alas! is much unlike to that of men.
They in perfection as in age increase;
Wisdom the loss of every grace supplies;
But when our youth and beauty (which so oft
Conquer the wit and strength of men) are fled,
All’s gone with us; nor is it in thy power
To think or speak of aught so poor or vile
As an old woman. Therefore ere thou come
To this our universal misery,
Know thine own worth, nor play so poor a part
To live in sorrow, when thou may’st in joy.
What would superior strength avail the lion,
Or judgment men, unless ‘twere turn’d to use?
As then our beauty is our only strength,
Let us use it while we may,
And snatch those joys that haste away;
The changeful year its loss regains,
Spring clothes anew the desert plains,
But when the spring of beauty’s o’er,
Nought can our faded charms restore;
When age’s snow our heads shall cover,
Love may return but not a lover.

From: Guarini, Battista and Clapperton, William, Il Pastor Fido: Or, The Faithful Shepherd: A Pastoral Tragi-Comedy, attempted in English blank verse , from the Italian of Signor Cavalier Giovanni Battista Guarini, 1809, C. Stewart: Edinburgh, pp. 104-105.

Date: 1585 (Italian original); 1809 (translation)

By: Giovanni Battista Guarini (1538-1612)

Translated by: William Clapperton (c1779-18??)

Saturday, 28 June 2014

A Dreame by Richard Fanshawe

I saw two swans come proudly downe the streame
Of Trent, as I his silver curles beheld;
To which, the doves that draw fayre Venus’ teame,
And Venus selfe, must beauty’s scepter yield.

Jove was not halfe so white, when he was one,
And courted Leda in a snowy plume;
Nor never such a taking shape put on,
Of all that love compelled him to assume.

Fayre birds, allied to him that set on fire
The world, why do ye so delight in floods?
And kindling in a thousand hearts desire,
Quench his soft movings in your gentle bloods?

Ah! since so many live in flames for you,
Leave to be swans, growe salamanders too.

From: Clifford, Arthur (ed.), Tixall Poetry; with Notes and Illustrations, 1813, James Ballantyne and Co: Edinburgh, p. 218.

Date: c1636

By: Richard Fanshawe (1608-1666)

Friday, 27 June 2014

Poem by John Gray


Geranium, houseleek, laid in oblong beds
On the trim grass. The daisies’ leprous stain
Is fresh. Each night the daisies burst again,
Though every day the gardener crops their heads.

A wistful child, in foul unwholesome shreds,
Recalls some legend of a daisy chain
That makes a pretty necklace. She would fain
Make one, and wear it, if she had some threads.

Sun, leprous flowers, foul child. The asphalt burns.
The garrulous sparrows perch on metal Burns.
Sing! Sing! they say, and flutter with their wings.
He does not sing, he only wonders why
He is sitting there. The sparrows sing. And I
Yield to the strait allure of simple things.

From: Gray, John, Silverpoints, 1893, Elkin Matthews and John Lane: London.

Date: 1893

By: John Gray (1866-1934)

Thursday, 26 June 2014

I Cannot Deem Why Men Toil So For Fame by Alexander Smith

I cannot deem why men toil so for Fame.
A porter is a porter though his load
Be the oceaned world, and although his road
Be down the ages. What is in a name?
Ah! ’tis our spirit’s curse to strive and seek.
Although its heart is rich in pearls and ores,
The Sea complains upon a thousand shores;
Sea-like we moan for ever. We are weak.
We ever hunger for diviner stores.
I cannot say I have a thirsting deep
For human fame, nor is my spirit bowed
To be a mummy above ground to keep
For stare and handling of the vulgar crowd,
Defrauded of my natural rest and sleep.

From: Smith, Alexander, Poems, 1854, David Bogue: London, p. 242.

Date: 1854

From: Alexander Smith (1830-1867)

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Nelson Street by James Sullivan Starkey (Seumas O’Sullivan)

To P.J.H.

There is hardly a mouthful of air
In the room where the breakfast is set,
For the blind is still down though it’s late,
And the curtains are redolent yet
Of tobacco smoke, stale from last night.
There’s the little bronze teapot, and there
The eggs on the blue willow-plate,
And the sleepy canary, a hen,
Starts faintly her chirruping tweet
And I know, could she speak, she would say,
“Hullo there what’s wrong with the light?
Draw the blind up, let’s look at the day.”
I see that it’s Monday again,
For the man with the organ is there;
Every Monday he comes to the street
(Lest I, or the bird there, should miss
Our count of monotonous days)
With his reed-organ, wheezy and sweet,
And stands by the window and plays
“There’s a Land that is Fairer than This.”

From: O’Sullivan, Seumas, Poems, 1912, Maunsel and Company: Dublin, p. 20.

Date: 1912

By: James Sullivan Starkey (Seumas O’Sullivan) (1879-1958)

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Excerpt from “The Induction” by Thomas Sackville

By him lay heavy Sleep, the cousin of Death.
Flat on the ground, and still as any stone,
A very corpse, save yielding forth a breath:
Small keep took he, whom Fortune frowned on,
Or whom she lifted up into the throne
Of high renown ; but, as a living death,
So, dead alive, of life he drew the breath.

The body’s rest, the quiet of the heart,
The travail’s ease, the still night’s fear was he,
And of our life in earth the better part;
Reaver of sight, and yet in whom we see
Things oft that tide, and oft that never be;
Without respect, esteeming equally
King Croesus’ pomp, and Irus’ poverty.

And next, in order sad, Old Age we found:
His beard all hoar, his eyes hollow and blind,
With drooping cheer still poring on the ground,
As on the place where Nature him assign’d
To rest, when that the sisters had untwin’d
His vital thread, and ended with their knife
The fleeting course of fast declining life.

There heard we him with broke and hollow plaint
Rue with himself his end approaching fast,
And all for nought his wretched mind torment
With sweet remembrance of his pleasures past,
And fresh delights of lusty youth forewaste;
Recounting which, how would he sob and shriek,
And to be young again of Jove beseek?

But, and the cruel fates so fixed be,
That time forepast cannot return again,
This one request of Jove yet prayed he:
That, in such withered plight, and wretched pain,
As eld, accompanied with his loathsome train,
Had brought on him, all were it woe and grief,
He might a while yet linger forth his life,

And not so soon descend into the pit,
Where Death, when he the mortal corpse hath slain,
With reckless hand in grave doth cover it;
Thereafter never to enjoy again
The gladsome light, but in the ground ylain,
In depth of darkness waste and wear to nought,
As he had never into the world been brought.

But who had seen him sobbing, how he stood
Unto himself, and how he would bemoan
His youth forepast, as though it wrought him good
To talk of youth, all were his youth foregone,
He would have mus’d, and marvell’d much, whereon
This wretched Age should life desire so fain,
And knows full well life doth but length his pain.

Crookback’d he was, tooth- shaken, and blear-eyed,
Went on three feet, and sometime crept on four,
With old lame bones that rattled by his side,
His scalp all pill’d, and he with eld forlore:
His withered fist still knocking at Death’s door,
Fumbling, and drivelling, as he draws his breath;
For brief, the shape and messenger of Death.

From: pp.110-113.

Date: 1563

By: Thomas Sackville (1536-1608)

Monday, 23 June 2014

Periodicity by Lesbia Venner Keogh Harford

My friend declares
Being woman and virgin she
Takes small account of periodicity

And she is right.
Her days are calmly spent
For her sex-function is irrelevant.

But I whose life
Is monthly broke in twain
Must seek some sort of meaning in my pain.

Women, I say,
Are beautiful in change,
Remote, immortal, like the moon they range.

Or call my pain
A skirmish in the whole
Tremendous conflict between body and soul.

Meaning must lie,
Some beauty surely dwell
In the fierce depths and uttermost pits of hell.

Yet still I seek,
Month after month in vain,
Meaning and beauty in recurrent pain.

From: Harford, Lesbia, The Poems of Lesbia Harford, 1999, University of Sydney Library: Sydney, p. 74.

Date: 1917

By: Lesbia Venner Keogh Harford (1891-1927)

Sunday, 22 June 2014

The Genius of Death by George Croly

What is Death? ‘Tis to be free!
No more to love, or hope, or fear —
To join the great equality:
All alike are humbled there!
The mighty grave
Wraps lord and slave;
Nor pride nor poverty dares come
Within that refuge-house, the tomb!

Spirit with the drooping wing,
And the ever-weeping eye,
Thou of all earth’s kings art king!
Empires at thy footstool lie!
Beneath thee strew’d
Their multitude
Sink, like waves upon the shore;
Storms shall never rouse them more!

What’s the grandeur of the earth
To the grandeur round thy throne!
Riches, glory, beauty, birth,
To thy kingdom all have gone.
Before thee stand
The wond’rous band;
Bards, heroes, sages, side by side,
Who darken’d nations when they died!

Earth has hosts; but thou canst show
Many a million for her one;
Through thy gates the mortal flow
Has for countless years roll’d on:
Back from the tomb
No step has come;
There fix’d, till the last thunder’s sound
Shall bid thy prisoners be unbound!

From: Croly, George, The Poetic Works of the Rev. George Croly, A.M. H.R.S.L., in Two Volumes, Volume I, 1830, Henry Colburn and Richard Bentley: London, pp. 256-258.

Date: 1822

By: George Croly (1780-1860)

Saturday, 21 June 2014

Unshaded by John Grey

Didn’t realize
the world’s as black and white
as this newspaper.
Until the politicians
opened their mouths,
the letter writers took to their pens,
the editorialists, columnists,
shared their sureties,
I didn’t know that
what’s not one thing
has to be its opposite.
If you’re not for,
you’re against.
If you don’t love,
you hate.
Didn’t realize
the world’s so black and white,
I can buy its truths for fifty cents,
page through them
in less than a half hour.
I tap my brow,
mutter to my brain,
don’t worry,
the newspaper’s already
done your job.
Then I think…mmm…
gray matter…
now why the hell
do they call it that?


Date: 2004

By: John Grey (19??- )