Archive for March, 2015

Tuesday, 31 March 2015

If My Complaints Could Passions Move by John Dowland

If my complaints could passions move,
Or make Love see wherein I suffer wrong:
My passions were enough to prove,
That my despairs had govern’d me too long.
O Love, I live and die in thee,
Thy grief in my deep sighs still speaks:
Thy wounds do freshly bleed in me,
My heart for thy unkindness breaks:
Yet thou dost hope, when I despair,
And when I hope, thou mak’st me hope in vain.
Thou say’st thou canst my harms repair,
Yet for redress, thou let’st me still complain.

Can Love be rich, and yet I want?
Is Love my judge, and yet am I condemn’d?
Thou plenty hast, yet me dost scant:
Thou made a God, and yet thy power contemn’d
That I do live, it is thy power:
That I desire it is thy worth:
If Love doth make men’s lives too sour,
Let me not love, nor live henceforth.
Die shall my hopes, but not my faith,
That you that of my fall may hearers be
May here despair, which truly saith,
I was more true to Love than Love to me.


Date: 1597

By: John Dowland (1563-1626)

Monday, 30 March 2015

A Prize Riddle on Herself When 24 by Elizabeth Frances Amherst Thomas

I’m a strange composition as e’er was in nature,
Being wondrously studious and yet a great prater.
Retirement and quite I love beyond measure,
Yet always am ready for parties of pleasure.
I can cry till I laugh, or laugh till I cry,
Yet few have a temper more equal than I.
My shape is but clumsy, I see it and know it,
Yet always am dancing and skipping to show it.
My visage is round, just the shape of a bowl,
With a great pair of grey eyes resembling an owl.
My nose and my mouth are none of the least,
Though one serves me to smell and the other to taste.
What I gain in these features makes up for no chin,
But here’s my misfortune, my smile’s a broad grin.
My temper is rather addicted to satire,
And yet, without vanity, fraught with good nature.
My friends I can laugh at, but most at myself.
I’ve no inclination for titles or pelf;
And this I can vouch for, believe me or nay,
To my friend’s my own interest does always give sway.
I really am cleanly, but yet my discourse,
If you’re squeamish, may make you as sick as a horse.
Without any voice, I can sing you a song,
And though I grow old, I shall always be young.
I put on assurance, though nat’rally shy,
And most people love me, though none can tell why.
I’m not yet disposed of: come bid for a blessing,
For those who first guess me shall have me for guessing.

From: Lonsdale, Roger (ed.), Eighteenth-Century Women Poets: An Anthology, 1990, Oxford University Press: Oxford, p. 180.

Date: 1740

By: Elizabeth Frances Amherst Thomas (c1716-1779)

Sunday, 29 March 2015

Love, Morn, and Music by Launcelot Cranmer-Byng

Oh! give me love, with the trees above,
In the dells where dewdrops cluster,
Heaven’s heart of blue, and a trellised view
Of morn’s magnificent lustre,

And joy’s bright bird in the clouds half heard,
Or the cuckoo faintly calling,
Hushed happiness in the close caress
Of passion that’s never palling.

From: Cranmer-Byng, L. (Paganus), Poems of Paganism; or, Songs of Life and Love, 1895, The Roxburghe Press: London, p. 58.

Date: 1895

By: Launcelot Cranmer-Byng (1872-1945)

Saturday, 28 March 2015

Lines from the Tomb of an Unknown Woman by Unknown

Taken from a tomb on the Fu-Kiu mountain district of So-Chau in the Province of Kiangsu. The date of the poem is many centuries old.

Mother of Pity, hear my prayer
That in the endless round of birth
No more may break my heart on earth,
Nor by the windless waters of the Blest
Weary of rest;
That drifting, drifting, I abide not anywhere.
Yet if by Karma’s law I must
Resume this mantle of the dust
Grant me, I pray,
One dewdrop from thy willow spray,
And in the double lotus keep
My hidden heart asleep.

From: Cranmer-Byng, L., A Feast of Lanterns: Renderered with an Introduction by L. Cranmer-Byng, 1916, John Murray: London, p. 39.

Date: ? (original); 1916 (translation)

By: Unknown

Translated by: Launcelot Cranmer-Byng (1872-1945)

Friday, 27 March 2015

I Got A Car by Thomas Stevenson (Tom) Douglas and Keith Gattis

She was leaning on a rail in a cotton dress
Summer tanned pretty, little perfect mess
With a story that could only be anybody’s guess
And I was thinking that I probably didn’t stand a chance
But I rolled up my sleeves, walked up and I said
Hey, I know I don’t know you but I’d kinda like a shot
She said, I saw you coming over, I already thought it over
And OK, so now what

And I said, well I got a car, she said, there’s something
At least it’s a start, I said, it’s better than nothing
I ain’t in no hurry but I’m ready when you are
And she said, where do you think all this is going
I said, there ain’t no way of knowing
I guess I hadn’t thought it through that far
But I got a car

So, we let the wheels turn and the windows down
We let ourselves go all the way through town
She never said stop and I never asked her why
We drove into the night, when outta nowhere
She said, I’d give anything to never go back there
And I kinda wish this day would never end
She said, I could use a change but I don’t even know where to begin

And I said, well I got a car, she said, there’s something
At least it’s a start, I said, it’s better than nothing
I ain’t in no hurry but I’m ready when you are
And she said, where do you think all this is going
I said, there ain’t no way of knowing
I really hadn’t thought it through that far
And I can’t promise you the moon and stars
But I got a car

We got lost in the miles, lost track of the days
‘Til we finally found a stopping place
When the doctor’s said, you know what’s on the way?
And we found ourselves in a little white house
One Sunday morning, rain pouring down
She said, I think it’s time but all the lines are out
And her eyes teared up and she said, what are we gonna do now?

And I said, well I got a car, she said, there’s something
You think it’ll start, I said, it’s already running
Got your things in the back and I’m ready when you are
She said, are you sure it’ll get us where we’re goin’?
I said, if there’s one thing I know girl, it’s gotten us this far
And I don’t mean to hurry but I’m ready when you are.


Date: 2013

By: Thomas Stevenson (Tom) Douglas (1953- ) and Keith Gattis (1971- )

Thursday, 26 March 2015

A Continuance of Albions England: To the Reader by William Warner

By divers importun’d to this,
I sent it foorth, such as it is.
This idle Arte that lets it thrive
Was Midwife to the Abortive:
Doe dandle, knock it on the head,
All one to me alive or dead.
The Musists, though themselves they please,
Their Dotage els finds Meede nor Ease:
Vouch’t Spencer in that Ranke preferd,
Per Accidens, only interr’d
Nigh Venerable Chaucer, lost,
Had not kinde Brigham reard him Cost,
Found next the doore Church-outed neere,
And yet a Knight, Arch-Lauriat Heere.
Adde Stows late antiquarious Pen,
That annald for ungratefull Men:
Next Chronicler omit it not
His licenc’t Basons little got:
Liv’d poorely where he Trophies gave,
Lies poorely There in notelesse grave.
As These in Theirs, so we in Ours,
And who write best lose better houres,
And most-what but for Nods doe cense
Saints, senselesse of more Recompence.
No marvell, Poetrie seemes gon
To Bedlam now from Helicon.
Yea most her Priests Intemperature
So diffreth from their Literature,
Their Literature obscenously
So suteth to Scurrilitie,
As if, Aonides, it hold,
You from your sacred Hill of old
Pierides will dare to skold.
Mnemosynes, retract I this,
Ambrosia sweete and Nectar is
Your food, and yee eternize’d live,
Not as yee take, but as yee give.
Invested with Imperiall Robe,
Or circumfer’d the varied Globe,
Arts, Armes, or what, for what, or who,
Out-lives one Age unles by you?
For Homer, at Achillis Tombe,
This blest did Alexander doome.
In Mysteries oft as in those
Ilias, Trans-shapes, Aeneidos,
In patent Letter also ye
Make longest dead alive to be.
Thrice-noble Thrice Three Joves high Breede,
How happie ye whom happiest meede?
Nor sleepeth your Anagraphie
The sensuall Follies of the Hie,
Nor crested Chorles that for Coynes skill,
More Standings heare than Bellies fill,
Nor those could with ye them passe-bay
As if a dungled Asse should die.
Yet he that fierd th’ Ephesian Phane
Did it your Pens Report to gaine:
As Faux, that him might scorne Compeere
For Project more prodigious heere.
Thus vertuous and prophane, in few,
Have Perpetuitie from you,
Praisd or dispraisd examplarlie,
So profiting Posteritie.
Sixe passed Presses past us ill,
As, not unlikely, this Presse will.
Muse, that twi-bucketted hast bin,
Emptedst poore wit poore winde to win,
Twice towredst to a severall Steeple,
Didst kenne no Patrons but the People,
Shunne Eares unarted, rude, precise,
Seeke Loves that ours shall sympathize.


Date: 1606

By: William Warner (?1558-1609)

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

The Orphan Brigade by Nathaniel Southgate Shaler

Eighteen hundred and sixty-one:
There in the echo of Sumter’s gun
Marches the host of the Orphan Brigade,
Lit by their banners, in hopes best arrayed.
Five thousand strong, never legion hath borne
Might as this bears it forth in that morn:
Hastings and Cressy, Naseby, Dunbar,
Cowpens and Yorktown, Thousand Years’ War,
Is writ on their hearts as onward afar
They shout to the roar of their drums.

Eighteen hundred and sixty-two:
Well have they paid to the earth its due.
Close up, steady! the half are yet here
And all of the might, for the living bear
The dead in their hearts over Shiloh’s field —
Rich, O God, is thy harvest’s yield!
Where faith swings the sickle, trust binds the sheaves,
To the roll of the surging drums.

Eighteen hundred and sixty-three:
Barring Sherman’s march to the sea —
Shorn to a thousand; face to the foe
Back, ever back, but stubborn and slow.
Nineteen hundred wounds they take
In that service of Hell, yet the hills they shake
With the roar of their charge as onward they go
To the roll of their throbbing drums.

Eighteen hundred and sixty-four:
Their banners are tattered, and scarce twelve score,
Battered and wearied and seared and old,
Stay by the staves where the Orphans hold
Firm as a rock when the surges break —
Shield of a land where men die for His sake,
For the sake of the brothers whom they have laid low,
To the roll of their muffled drums.

Eighteen hundred and sixty-five:
The Devil is dead and the Lord is alive,
In the earth that springs where the heroes sleep,
And in love new born where the stricken weep.
That legion hath marched past the setting of sun:
Beaten? nay, victors: the realms they have won
Are the hearts of men who forever shall hear
The throb of their far-off drums.

From: Shaler, Nathaniel Southgate, From Old Fields: Poems of the Civil War, 1906, Houghton Mifflin & Company: Boston, pp. 307-308.

Date: 1906

By: Nathaniel Southgate Shaler (1841-1906)

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

The Witch by John Francis Alexander Heath-Stubbs

Judy Cracko–she was a witch,
And lived in a muddy, smelly ditch:

But when the moon shone bright, she’d fly
On a tatty old broomstick, up in the sky,

With the bats, and the owls, and the booboo birds,
Shouting out loud the most horrible words,

Like Botheration, and Bottom, and Belly,
And Nurts and Nark it and Not on your Nelly!

Now the judge, Mr Justice Fuzzywig,
And the village policeman, Constable Pigg,

And Major Wilberforce Wotherspoon,
And a lady called Miss Prissy La Prune,

Put their heads together, and vowed
That sort of behaviour should not be allowed.

So they locked her up in a dungeon dim,
With her one-eyed pussycat, Smoky Jim.

But she didn’t stay long in that prison cell-
She muttered a rather difficult spell:

Then seven red devils, with horns and tails,
And seldom manicured finger-nails,

And each with one great donkey’s hoof,
Whirled Judy and Jim through a hole in the roof,

Over the seas and far away
To an island eastward of Cathay;
She’s living there still, to this very day.


Date: 1990

By: John Francis Alexander Heath-Stubbs (1918-2006)

Monday, 23 March 2015

Excerpt from “The Most Honourable Tragedie of Sir Richard Grinville, Knight” by Gervase Markham

That time oſ yeare when the inamored Sunne
Clad in the richest roabes of living fiers,
Courted ye Virgin signe, great Naturs Nunne,
Which barrains earth of al what earth desires
Even in the month that from Augustus wonne,
His sacred name which unto heaven aspires,
And on the last of his ten trebled days,
When wearie labour new refresh assayes.

Then when the earth out-brav’d ye beautious Morne,
Boasting his cornie Mantle stird with aire,
Which like a golden Ocean did adorne,
His cold drie carcasse, ſeaturelesse, unſaire,
Holding the naked shearers scithe in scorne,
Or ought that might his borrowed pride empaire,
The soule of vertue seeing earth so ritch,
With his deare presence gilds the sea as mitch.

The sea, which then was heavie, sad, and still,
Dull, unapplyed to sportive wantonnesse,
As if her first-borne Venus had beene ill,
Or Neptune seene the Sonne his love possesse,
Or greater cares, that greatest comforts kill,
Had crowned with griefe, the worlds wet wildemesse,
Such was the still-foote Thetis silent paine,
Whose flowing teares, ebbing fell backe againe.

Thetis, the mother of the pleasant springs,
Grandam of all the Rivers in the world,
To whom earths veins their moistning tribut brings,
Now with a mad disturbed passion hurld,
About her cave (the worlds great treasure) flings:
And with wreath’d armes, and long wet hairs uncurld,
Within her selfe laments a losse, unlost,
And mones her wrongs, before her joyes be crost.

From: Raleigh, Sir Walter; Markham, Gervase; van Linschoten, Jan Huygen; and Arber, Edward (ed.), The Last Fight of the Revenge at Sea; under the Command of Vice-Admiral Sir Richard Grenville, on the 10-11th September , 1591, 1871, English Reprints: London, pp. 44-45.

Date: 1595

By: Gervase Markham (c1568-1637)

Sunday, 22 March 2015

Just Handcuff Me by Amy De’Ath

Then paint me the sum of polygamy.
Tender brawny snippets, pear pips
& a drainpipe running down to the
sea. Not you not me.

With night you come stomping,
It’s kristallnacht in my dream —
why did you shave our heads?
When will we reinvent love?

Look at me orbiting the earth:
cool extreme organic oil.
I tower above the Shard wearing my
new raspberry jeans and orange t-shirt.

Some worlds still purr apart
a fly         or fact         or loaf
some people are just called bodies
but I’d rather die clean on the spot!

Some feel a baby kicking.
Asterisk nipples the real September
I began and where I started. With
shining intuition. Esoteric holler


Date: 2012

By: Amy De’Ath (1985- )