Archive for January, 2015

Saturday, 31 January 2015

Sic Semper by Don Carlos Seitz

I do not like to hear
The hushed opinion
Or the timid view
Uttered in fear.

I do not like to see
The people kneel
In tame submission
To the powers that be.

Such earn their fate
In time to come
To have some ruler say
“I am the state!”

No tyrant vain
E’er welded shackles
But the people blind
Held out the chain!


Date: 1918

By: Don Carlos Seitz (1862-1935)

Friday, 30 January 2015

Air by Don Bogen

Air as lost time
Voice of a cloud, of a ghost crowned with nimbus
Smack-thin, it lingers forty years
I thought it came from the jeweled world we’d seen
Everything stuffed, urgent, glittering alive
But it was just pleasure, blank and sure
Now what is there to sing
From speakers, the tune folds and fades in waves
Earphones drive it through your head


Date: 2009

By: Don Bogen (19??- )

Thursday, 29 January 2015

Soliloquy by Ann Cromartie Yearsley

—What folly to complain,
Or throw my woes against the face of Heaven?
Ills self-created prey upon my soul,
And rob each coming hour of soften’d Peace.
What then? Is Fate to blame? I chose distress;
Free will was mine; I might have still been happy
From a fore-knowledge of the dire effect,
And the sad bondage of resistless love.
I knew the struggles of a wounded mind,
Not self-indulging, and not prone to vice,
Knew all the terrors of conflicting passion,
Too stubborn foe, and ever unsubdued;
Yet rashly parleyed with the mighty victor.
Infectious mists upon my senses hang,
More deadly than Lethean dews which fall
From Somnus’ bough, on the poor wearied wretch,
Whose woes are fully told!—
The dire contagion creeps thro’ all my frame,
Seizes my heart, and drinks my spirit up.
Ah! fatal poison, whither dost thou tend?
Tear not my soul with agonizing pains;
There needs no more; the world to me is lost,
And all the whirl of life-unneeded thrift.
I sicken at the Sun, and fly his beams,
Like some sad ghost which loves the moonless night,
And pensive shuns the morn. The deep recess
Where dim-ey’d Melancholy silent sits,
Beckoning the poor desponding, slighted wretch,
Suits well. ‘Tis here I find a gloomy rest;
‘Tis here the fool’s loud clatter leaves me still,
Nor force unwilling answers .to their tale:
But, ah! this gloom, this lethargy of thought,
Yields not repose; I sigh the hour away;
The next rolls on, and leaves me still opprest.
But, oh! swift-footed Time, thou ceaseless racer,
Thou who hast chac’d five thousand years before thee,
With all their great events, and minute trifles,
Haste, with redoubled speed, bring on the hour,
When dark Oblivion’s dusky veil shall shroud
Too painful Memory,—

From: Yearsley, Ann, Poems, On Several Occasions, 1785, T. Caddell: London, pp. 57-59.

Date: 1785

By: Ann Cromartie Yearsley (1753-1806)

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Lepage’s Joan of Arc by Helen Gray Cone

Once, it may be, the soft gray skies were dear,
The clouds above in crowds, like sheep below,
The bending of each kindly wrinkled tree;
Or blossoms at the birth-time of the year,
Or lambs unweaned, or water in still flow,
In whose brown glass a girl her face might see.

Such days are gone, and strange things come instead;
For she has looked on other faces white,
Pale bloom of fear, before war’s whirlwind blown;
Has stooped, ah Heaven! in some low sheltering shed
To tend dark wounds, the leaping arrow’s bite,
While the cold death that hovered seemed her own.

And in her hurt heart, o’er some grizzled head,
The mother that shall never be has yearned;
And love’s fine voice, she else shall never hear,
Came to her as the call of saints long dead;
And straightway all the passion in her burned,
One altar-flame that hourly waxes clear.

Hence goes she ever in a glimmering dream,
And very oft will sudden stand at gaze,
With blue, dim eyes that still not seem to see:
For now the well-known ways with visions teem;
Unfelt is toil, and summer one green daze,
Till that the king be crowned, and France be free!

(Image of Lepage’s painting can be found here:


Date: 1884

By: Helen Gray Cone (1859-1934)

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Lesson by Eamon Grennan

I was watching a robin fly after a finch, the smaller bird
chirping with excitement, the bigger — its breast blazing — silent
in light-winged earnest chase, when out of nowhere

over the chimneys and the shivering front gardens,
flashes a sparrowhawk headlong, a light brown burn
scorching the air from which it simply plucks

like a ripe fruit the stopped robin, whose two or three
cheeps of terminal surprise twinkle in the silence
closing over the empty street when the birds have gone

about their business, and I began to understand
how a poem can happen: you have your eye on a small
elusive detail, pursuing its music, when a terrible truth

strikes and your heart cries out, being carried off.

From: Weingarten, Roger and Higgerson, Richard M. (eds.), Poets of the New Century: An Anthology, 2001, David R. Gardine: New Hampshire, p. 124.

Date: 2001

By: Eamon Grennan (1941- )

Alternative Title: Detail

Monday, 26 January 2015

Land I Love! by Marie Louise Hamilton Mack

Land I love! I will wrest your meaning
See, I swear I will know you yet.
You shall reveal the soul of your song,
And I will set it, as never set.
March of shadows to muted music,
Heat-mists creeping, I know, I know;
And I know, dear Rain, that your desolate story
Has a hidden sweet and an inner glory.

Trees of mine! ah, the nights I listen,
Nights I steal through your black, black shade,
I and the old gums sorrow alone,
The young gums give me their accolade.
Mile on mile through the death-grey silence,
Twilight, midnight, or yellow moon,
And ’tis I who know that your desolate story
Has its hidden sweet and its inner glory.

Dark and dawn through the grey gums sweeping,
Blazing gold of the afternoon,
All have revealed the soul of their song,
But when, O Land, is my promised tune?
I am silent, I have no music,
Maestoso nor Allegro,-
But you know how fain is my impotent story
To unfold the hymn of your veiled, great glory.

Only this can I sing, and singing,
Land of mine! you will understand,
You have revealed the heart of my song,
While I went seeking for yours, O Land!
Your young lips have disclosed my courage,
Deathless courage, my Continent!
For I learnt from you that my life’s own story
Has a deeper depth and a higher glory.

Heat and haze! you have crept and caught me.
See, ’tis you who will know me yet.
You have revealed the soul of my song;
‘Tis you who have set it, as never set.
March of shadows to muted music,
White gums waiting, we know, we know!
And we know, Dear Land, that our desolate story
Has its hidden sweet and its inner glory.


Date: 1901

By: Marie Louise Hamilton Mack (1870-1935)

Sunday, 25 January 2015

Between Two Worlds: Parting for Australia by Dinah Maria Mulock Craik

Here sitting by the fire
I aspire, love, I aspire—
Not to that “other world” of your fond dreams,
But one as nigh and nigher,
Compared to which your real, unreal seems.

Together as to‐night
In our light, love, in our light
Of reunited joy appears no shade:
From this our hope’s reached height
All things are possible and level made.

Therefore we sit and view—
I and you, love, I and you—
That wondrous valley o’er southern seas,
Where in a country new
You will make for me a sweet nest of ease;

Where I, your poor tired bird,
(Nothing stirred? Love, nothing stirred?)
May fold her wings and be no more distrest:
Where troubles may be heard
Like outside winds at night which deepen rest.

Where in green pastures wide
We’ll abide, love, we’ll abide,
And keep content our patriarchal flocks,
Till at our aged side
Leap our young brown‐faced shepherds of the rocks.

Ah, tale that’s easy told!
(Hold my hand, love, tighter hold.)
What if this face of mine, which you think fair—
If it should ne’er grow old,
Nor matron cap cover this maiden hair?

What if this silver ring
(Loose it clings, love, yet does cling:)
Should ne’er be changed for any other? nay,
This very hand I fling.

About your neck should—Hush! to‐day’s to‐day:
To‐morrow is—ah, whose?
You’ll not lose, love, you’ll not lose
This hand I pledged, if never a wife’s hand
For tender household use
Led by your fearless into a far, far land.

Kiss me and do not grieve;
I believe, love, I believe
That He who holds the measure of our days,
And did thus strangely weave
Our opposite lives together, to His praise—

He never will divide
Us so wide, love, us so wide:
But will, whate’er befalls us, clearly show
That those in Him allied
In life or death are nearer than they know.

From: Craik, Dinah Maria Mulock, Poems, 1866, Ticknor and Fields: Boston, pp. 69-71.

Date: 1860

By: Dinah Maria Mulock Craik (1826-1887)

Saturday, 24 January 2015

Everywoman Her Own Theology by Alicia Suskin Ostriker

I am nailing them up to the cathedral door
Like Martin Luther. Actually, no,
I don’t want to resemble that Schmutzkapf
(See Erik Erikson and N. O. Brown
On the Reformer’s anal aberrations,
Not to mention his hatred of Jews and peasants),
So I am thumbtacking these ninety-five
Theses to the bulletin board in my kitchen.

My proposals, or should I say requirements,
Include at least one image of a god,
Virile, beard optional, one of a goddess,
Nubile, breast size approximating mine,
One divine baby, one lion, one lamb,
All nude as figs, all dancing wildly,
All shining. Reproducible
In marble, metal, in fact any material.

Ethically, I am looking for
An absolute endorsement of loving-kindness.
No loopholes except maybe mosquitoes.
Virtue and sin will henceforth be discouraged,
Along with suffering and martyrdom.
There will be no concept of infidels.
Consequently the faithful must entertain
Themselves some other way than killing infidels.

And so forth and so on. I understand
This piece of paper is going to be
Spattered with wine one night at a party
And covered over with newer pieces of paper.
That is how it goes with bulletin boards.
Nevertheless it will be there.
Like an invitation, like a chalk pentangle,
It will emanate certain occult vibrations.

If something sacred wants to swoop from the universe
Through a ceiling, and materialize,
Folding its silver wings,
In a kitchen, and bump its chest against mine,
My paper will tell this being where to find me.


Date: 1986

By: Alicia Suskin Ostriker (1937- )

Friday, 23 January 2015

Lines by Margaret Miller Davidson

Written after she herself began to fear that her disease was past remedy.

I once thought life was beautiful,
I once thought life was fair,
Nor deem’d that all its light could fade
And leave but darkness there.

But now I know it could not last —
The fairy dream has fled!
Though thirteen summers scarce have past
Above this youthful head.

Yes, life — ’twas all a dream — but now
I see thee as thou art;
I see how slight a thing can shade
The sunshine of the heart.

I see that all thy brightest hours,
Unmark’d, have pass’d away;
And now I feel how sweet they were,
I cannot bid them stay.

In childish love or childish play
My happiest hours were spent,
While scarce my infant tongue could say
What joy or pleasure meant.

And now, when my young heart looks up,
Life’s gayest smiles to meet;
Now, when in youth her brightest charms
Would seem so doubly sweet;

Now fade the dreams which bound my soul
As with the chains of truth!
Oh that those dreams had stay’d awhile,
To vanish with my youth!

Oh! once did hope look sweetly down,
To check each rising sigh;
But disappointment’s iron frown
Has dimm’d her sparkling eye.

And once I loved a brother too,
Our youngest and our best,
But death’s unerring arrow sped,
And laid him down to rest.

But now I know those hours of peace
Were never form’d to last;
That those fair days of guileless joy
Are past — for ever past!

January, 1837.

From: Irving, Washington and Davidson, Margaret Miller, Poetical Remains and Biography of the Late Margaret Miller Davidson, 1850, Clark, Austin & Co.: New York, pp. 203-204.

Date: 1837

By: Margaret Miller Davidson (1823-1838)

Thursday, 22 January 2015

To Science by Lucretia Maria Davidson

Let others in false Pleasure’s court be found,
But may I ne’er be whirled the giddy round;
Let me ascend with Genius’ rapid flight,
Till the fair hill of Science meets my sight.

Blest with a pilot who my feet will guide,
Direct my way, whene’er I step aside;
May one bright ray of Science on me shine,
And be the gift of learning ever mine.

From: Davidson, Lucretia Maria and Davidson, M. Oliver (ed.), Poems, 1871, Hurd and Houghton: New York, p. 48.

Date: 1829 (published)

By: Lucretia Maria Davidson (1808-1825)