Archive for July, 2014

Thursday, 31 July 2014

Knowledge by Anna Hempstead Branch

Once I thought that healing came
From the angels’ wings.
Now the bruisèd hands of men
Seem the kindest things.

Once I thought to pluck and eat
The fruit of Paradise.
Now I break with these their bread
With unsaddened eyes.

Once I thought to find on earth
Love, perfect and complete.
Now I know it carries wounds
In its hands and feet.

From: Branch, Anna Hempstead, Shoes that Danced and Other Poems, 1905, Houghton Mifflin Company: Boston and New York, p. 84.

Date: 1905

By: Anna Hempstead Branch (1875-1937)

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

The Mistake by Richard Jago

On Captain Bluff. 1750.

Says a Gosling almost frighten’d out of her wits,
‘Help, mother, or else I shall go into fits.
I have had such a fright, I shall never recover,
O! that Hawk that you’ve told us of over and over.
See there, where he sits, with his terrible face,
And his coat how it glitters all over with lace.
With his sharp hooked nose, and his sword at his heel,
How my heart it goes pit-a-pat; pray, mother, feel.’

Says the Goose, very gravely, ‘Pray don’t talk so wild;
Those looks are as harmless as mine are, my child.
And, as for his sword there, so bright and so nice,
I’ll be sworn ‘twill hurt nothing besides frogs and mice.
Nay, prithee, don’t hang so about me, let loose,
I tell thee he dares not say – bo to a Goose.
In short there is not a more innocent fowl,
Why, instead of a Hawk, look ye, child, ‘tis an Owl.’

From: The British Poets including Translations in One Hundred Volumes. Volume LV – The Poems of. Gray and Jago, 1822, C. Whittingham: Chiswick, p. 240.

Date: 1750

By: Richard Jago (1715-1781)

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Remember or Forget by Charles Hamilton Aïdé

I sat beside the streamlet,
I watched the water flow,
As we together watched it
One little year ago;
The soft rain pattered on the leaves,
The April grass was wet,
Ah! folly to remember;—
’T is wiser to forget.

The nightingales made vocal
June’s palace paved with gold;
I watched the rose you gave me
Its warm red heart unfold;
But breath of rose and bird’s song
Were fraught with wild regret.
’T is madness to remember;
’T were wisdom to forget.

I stood among the gold corn,
Alas! no more, I knew,
To gather gleaner’s measure
Of the love that fell from you.
For me, no gracious harvest—
Would God we ne’er had met!
’T is hard, Love, to remember, but
’T is harder to forget.

The streamlet now is frozen,
The nightingales are fled,
The cornfields are deserted,
And every rose is dead.
I sit beside my lonely fire,
And pray for wisdom yet—
For calmness to remember
Or courage to forget.

From: Garrett, Ednmund. H. (ed.), Victorian Songs. Lyrics of the Affections and Nature Collected and Illustrated by Edmund H. Garrett with an Introduction by Edmund Gosse, 1895, Little Brown and Company: London, pp. 3-5.

Date: 18??

By: Charles Hamilton Aïdé (1826-1906)

Monday, 28 July 2014

Dear! Do Not Your Fair Beauty Wrong by Thomas May

Dear! do not your fair beauty wrong,
In thinking still you are too young!
The rose and lilies in your cheek
Flourish, and no more ripening seek.

Your cherry lip, red, soft, and sweet,
Proclaims such fruit for taste most meet:
Then lose no time! – for Love has wings,
And flies away from aged things.

From: Courtier, Peter L. (ed.), The Lyre of Love, Volume the First, 1806, Charles Whittingham for John Sharpe: London, p. 82.


Date: 1628

By: Thomas May (c1596-1652)

Sunday, 27 July 2014

Recalling Icarus by Charlotte Garrett

They were out of everything:
flour, cat food, money, health,
but mostly they were out of love
with life.

They had done everything worth
doing from having and raising
children, cats and dogs, gardens,
roofs, even a bit of hell.
They’d traveled to all the known
and unknown places, camped at some,
climbed some, canoed, sailed, kayaked
others. They’d learned languages,
studied cathedrals, ruins, and birds.

They’d done it all, from scuba diving to
skydiving, which they liked best for
its beautiful terror, the lunge
into such a vastness of light and silence.
Then the rush of air against body,
the jerk into an upright position as
the chute bloomed above, and below the world
like a Polaroid photograph slowly resolving
from a blur of colors to distant details.

So while the children they had raised
talked about what they should do,
they silently sold the silver tea service
they’d never used and the silver sword
said to have belonged to General Grant.
And the daughter whined that the tea
service was to have been hers, and the son
said he’d always coveted the sword.

But they ignored them, although they wondered
aloud if perhaps one thing they hadn’t done
was to teach their children
how to live. They concluded it was too late
to worry and continued with their plan.
Which was to rent a car to drive
to an airport where they could rent a plane,
pilot, and parachutes and take one last dive
into weightlessness, to feel, if only
for a moment, freedom from their bodies.

All went according to plan, and they plunged
from the plane hand in hand, singing
into the emptiness of the air just as
they had that other time. As they tumbled
away from each other, the earth seemed
both further away and then closer
than she remembered, explaining
the sudden jolt of slowed momentum.

He, seeing that the plan had changed,
felt for his ring, found it,
and, as nothing happened, continued
his long fall into the enlarging photograph
of lakes, mountains, seas below.

She, seeing what had not happened,
tried to maneuver her chute
to intercept him, arms and legs kicking
and twisting except that by then he
was a mere speck in blue air,
a hawk enjoying the up and down drafts
of a perfect summer day.

She, her own descent continuing
in a more leisurely manner,
commented to the supporting air that
indeed, they had done everything now.

And that indeed, they were out
of everything.

From: Garrett, Charlotte, “Recalling Icarus” in The Southern Review, 35.2, Spring 1999, p. 218.

Date: 1999

By: Charlotte Garrett (19??- )

Saturday, 26 July 2014

A Ballad of the Were-Wolf by Rosamond Ball Marriott Watson (Graham. R. Tomson)

The gudewife sits i’ the chimney-neuk,
An’ looks on the louping flame;
The rain fa’s chill, and the win’ ca’s shrill,
Ere the auld gudeman comes hame.

“Oh, why is your cheek sae wan, gudewife?
An’ why do ye glower on me?
Sae dour ye luik i’ the chimney-neuk,
Wi’ the red licht in your e’e!

“Yet this nicht should ye welcome me,
This ae nicht mair than a’,
For I hae scotched yon great grey wolf
That took our bairnies twa.

“‘Twas a sair, sair strife for my very life,
As I warstled there my lane;
But I’ll hae her heart or e’er we part,
Gin ever we meet again.

“An’ ’twas ae sharp stroke o’ my bonny knife
That gar’d her baud awa’;
Fu’ fast she went out-owre the bent
Wi’outen her right fore-paw.

“Gae tak’ the foot o’ the drumlie brute,
And hang it upo’ the wa’;
An’ the next time that we meet, gudewife,
The tane of us shall fa’.”

He’s flung his pouch on the gudewife’s lap,
I’ the firelicht shinin’ fair,
Yet naught they saw o’ the grey wolf’s paw.
For a bluidy hand lay there.

O hooly, hooly rose she up,
Wi’ the red licht in her e’e,
Till she stude but a span frae the auld gudeman
Whiles never a word spak’ she.

But she stripped the claiths frae her lang richt arm,
That were wrappit roun’ and roun’,
The first was white, an’ the last was red;
And the fresh bluid dreeped adown.

She stretchit him out her lang right arm,
An’ cauld as the deid stude he.
The flames louped bricht i’ the gloamin’ licht —
There was nae hand there to see!

From: Marriott Watson, Rosamund, The Poems of Rosamund Marriott Watson, 1912, John Lane The Bodley Head: London, pp. 148-149.

Date: 1891

By: Rosamund Ball Marriott Watson (Graham R. Tomson) (1860-1911)

Friday, 25 July 2014

Against Indifference by Charles Webbe

More love or more disdain I crave,
Sweet, be not still indifferent:
O send me quickly to my grave,
Or else afford me more content!
Or love or hate me more or less,
For love abhors all lukewarmness.

Give me a tempest if ’twill drive
Me to the place where I would be;
Or if you’ll have me still alive,
Confess you will be kind to me.
Give hopes of bliss or dig my grave:
More love or more disdain I crave.


Date: c1678

By: Charles Webbe (16??-??)

Thursday, 24 July 2014

A Lover is Forever by Steven Benjamin Goodman and J. Fred Knobloch

I think, I understand
The reason you won’t stay with me
You think a ring upon your hand
Will solve your insecurity

So go ahead and play your games
If that’s what you must do
Nothing here remains the same
But the way I feel for you

I can watch you walk away
And I know that I’ll get by
And I know just what to say
But honey, I can’t tell a lie

Figure out what you must do
Because you think you’re so damn clever
You can marry anytime you want
But a lover is forever

Figure out what you must do
Because you think you’re so damn clever
You can marry anytime you want
But a lover is forever
You can marry anytime you want
But a lover is forever.


Date: 198?

By: Steven Benjamin Goodman (1948-1984) and J. Fred Knobloch (1953- )

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Beauty by Bryan Waller Procter (Barry Cornwall)

Painters—Poets—who can tell
What Beauty is—bright miracle?
Sometimes brown and sometimes white,
She shifts from darkness into light,
Swimming on with such fine ease,
That we miss her small degrees,
Knowing not that she hath ranged,
Till we find her sweetly changed.

They are poets false who say
That Beauty must be fair as day,
And that the rich red rose,
On her cheek for ever glows,
Or that the cold white lily lieth
On her breast, and never flieth.
Beauty is not so unkind,
Not so niggard, not so blind,
As yield her favour but to one,
When she may walk unconfined,
Associate with the unfettered Wind,
And wander with the Sun.
No; she spreads her gifts, her grace,
O’er every colour, every face.
She can laugh, and she can breathe
Freely where she will,—beneath
Polar darkness, tropic star,
Impoverish’d Delhi, dark Bahar,
And all the regions bright and far,
Where India’s sweet-voiced women are!

From: Cornwall, Barry, English Songs and Other Small Poems, 1832, Edward Moxon: London, p. 154.


Date: 1832

By: Bryan Waller Procter (Barry Cornwall) (1787-1874)

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

The Retirement by Charles Cotton

Stanzes Irreguliers, to Mr. Izaak Walton.

Farewell, thou busy world! and may
We never meet again!
Here I can eat, and sleep, and pray,
And do more good in one short day
Than he who his whole age out-wears
Upon the most conspicuous theatres,
Where nought but vanity and vice appears.

Good God! how sweet are all things here!
How beautiful the fields appear!
How cleanly do we feed and lie!
Lord! what good hours do we keep!
How quietly we sleep!
What peace, what unanimity!
How innocent from the lewd fashion
Is all our business, all our recreation!

Oh, how happy here’s our leisure!
Oh, how innocent our pleasure!
Oh, ye vallies, Oh ye mountains!
Oh, ye groves, and crystal fountains,
How I love at liberty,
By turns, to come and visit ye!

Dear solitude, the soul’s best friend,
That man, acquainted with himself dost make,
And all his Maker’s wonders t’intend:
With thee I here converse at will,
And would be glad to do so still,
For it is thou, alone, that keep’st the soul awake.

How calm and quiet a delight
Is it, alone,
To read, and meditate, and write,
By none offended, and offending none?
To walk, ride, sit, or sleep at one’s own ease!
And, pleasing a man’s self, none other to displease.

O my beloved nymph, fair Dove;
Princess of rivers, how I love
Upon thy flow’ry banks to lie;
And view thy silver stream,
When gilded by a summer’s beam!
And in it, all thy wanton fry,
Playing at liberty:
And, with my angle, upon them
The all of treachery
I ever learnt, industriously to try.

Such streams Rome’s yellow Tyber cannot show,
The Iberian Tagus, or Ligurian Po;
The Maese, the Danube, and the Rhine,
Are puddle-water all, compar’d with thine:
And Loire’s pure streams yet too polluted are
With thine, much purer, to compare:
The rapid Garonne, and the winding Seine,
Are both too mean,
Beloved Dove, with thee
To vie priority;
Nay, Tame and Isis, when conjoin’d submit,
And lay their trophies at thy silver feet.

O my beloved rocks! that rise
To awe the earth and brave the skies,
From some aspiring mountain’s crown,
How dearly do I love,
Giddy with pleasure, to look down;
And, from the vales, to view the noble heights above!
O my beloved caves! from dog-star’s heat
And all anxieties, my safe retreat:
What safety, privacy, what true delight,
In the artificial night,
Your gloomy entrails make,
Have I taken, do I take!
How oft when grief has made me fly,
To hide me from society
Ev’n of my dearest friends, have I,
In your recesses’ friendly shade,
All my sorrows open laid,
And my most secret woes intrusted to your privacy!

Lord! would men let me alone,
What an over-happy one
Should I think myself to be;
Might I, in this desert place,
(Which most men in discourse disgrace,)
Live but undisturb’d and free!
Here, in this despis’d recess,
Would I, maugre winter’s cold,
And the summer’s worst excess,
Try to live-out to sixty full years old;
And, all the while,
Without an envious eye
On any thriving under fortune’s smile,
Contented live, and, then, contented die.

From: Walton, Izaak, Cotton, Charles and Hawkins, John, The Complete Angler, or Contemplative Man’s Recreation: Being a Discourse on Rivers, Fish-Ponds, Fish, and Fishing. In Two Parts: The First Written by Mr. Izaak Walton, the Second by Charles Cotton, Esq. with the Lives of the Authors: And Notes, Historical, Supplementary, and Explanatory, by Sir John Hawkins, Knt. and the Present Editor, 1815, Samuel Bagster: London, pp. 399-401.

Date: 1676

By: Charles Cotton (1630-1687)