Archive for March, 2016

Thursday, 31 March 2016

On a Great Coxcomb by Ann Eliza Schuyler Bleecker

(recovering from an Indisposition)

Narcissus (as Ovid informs us) expir’d,
Consum’d by the flames his own beauty had fir’d;
But N—o (who like him is charm’d with his face,
And sighs for his other fair-self in the glass)
Loves to greater excess than Narcissus—for why?
He loves himself too much to let himself die.


Date: 1793 (published)

By: Ann Eliza Schuyler Bleecker (1752-1783)

Wednesday, 30 March 2016

The Memorandum of Martha Moulsworth, Widdowe by Martha Dorsett Moulsworth

November the 10th 1632

The tenth day of the winter month November
A day which I must duely still remember
did open first theis eis, and shewed this light
Now on thatt day uppon thatt daie I write
This season fitly willinglie combines
the birth day of my selfe, & of theis lynes
The tyme the clocke, the yearly stroke is one
thatt clocke by ffiftie five retourns hath gonn
How ffew, how many warnings itt will give
he only knowes in whome we are, & live
In carnall state of sin originall
I did nott stay one whole day naturall
The seale of grace in Sacramentall water
so soone had I, so soone become the daughter
of earthly parents, & of heavenlie ffather
some christen late for state, the wiser rather.
My Name was Martha, Martha tooke much payne
our Saviour christ hir guesse to entertayne
God gyve me grace my Inward house to dight
that he with me may supp, & stay all night.
My ffather was a Man of spottles ffame
of gentle Birth, & Dorsett was his name
He had, & left lands of his owne possession
he was of Levies tribe by his proffession
his Mother oxford knowenge well his worth
arayd in scarlett Robe did send him fforth.
By him I was brought upp in godlie pietie
In modest chearefullnes, & sad sobrietie
Nor onlie so, Beyond my sex & kind
he did wth learninge Lattin decke mind
And whie nott so? the muses ffemalls are
and therfore of Us ffemales take some care
Two Universities we have of men
o thatt we had but one of women then
O then thatt would in witt, and tongs surpasse
All art of men thatt is, or ever was
Butt I of Lattin have no cause to boast
ffor want of use, I longe agoe itt lost.
Had I no other portion to my dowre
I might have stood a virgin to this houre
Butt though the virgin Muses I love well
I have longe since Bid virgin life ffarewell
Thrice this Right hand did holly wedlocke plight
And thrice this Left with pledged ringe was dight
three husbands me, & I have them enioyde
Nor I by them, nor they by me annoyde
all lovely, lovinge all, some more, some lesse
though gonn their love, & memorie I blesse.
Untill my one & twentieth yeare of Age
I did nott bind my selfe in Mariadge
My springe was late, some thinke thatt sooner love
butt backward springs doe oft the kindest prove
My first knott held five yeares, & eight months more
then was a yeare sett on my mouninge score
My second bond tenn years nine months did last
three years eight Months I kept a widowes ffast
The third I tooke a lovely man, & kind
such comlines in age we seldome ffind
ffrom Mortimers he drewe his pedigre
their Arms he bought bore, nott bought wth Heraulds fee
third wife I was to him, as he to me
third husband was, in nomber we agree
eleven years, & eight months his autume lasted
a second spring to soone awaie it hasted
was never man so Buxome to his wife
wth him I led an easie darlings life.
I had my will in house, in purse in Store
whatt would a women old or yong have more?
Two years Almost outwearinge since he died
And yett, & yett my tears ffor him nott dried
I by the ffirst, & last some Issue had
butt roote, & ffruite is dead, which makes me sad.
My husbands all on holly dayes did die
Such day, such waie, they to the Saints did hye
This life is worke-day even att the Best
butt christian death, an holly day of Rest
the ffirst, the ffirst of Martirs did befall
St Stevens ffeast to him was ffunerall
the morrowe after christ our fflesh did take
this husband did his mortall fflesh fforsake
the second on a double sainted day
to Jude, & Symon tooke his happy way
This Symon as an auncient Story Sayth
did ffirst in England plant the Christian ffayth
Most sure itt is thatt Jude in holy writ
doth warne us to Mayntayne, & ffight ffor itt +
In Which all those thatt live, & die, may well
hope with the Saints eternally to dwell
The last on St Mathias day did wend
unto his home, & pilgrimages ende
this feast comes in that season which doth bringe
uppon dead Winters cold, a lyvelie Springe
His Bodie winteringe in the lodge of death
Shall ffeele A springe, with budd of life, & Breath
And Rise in incorruption, glorie, power
Like to the Bodie of our Saviour
In vayne itt were, prophane itt were ffor me
Wth Sadnes to aske which of theis three
I shall call husband in the Resurrection
ffor then shall all in glorious perfection
Like to th’immortall heavenlie Angells live
who wedlocks bonds doe neither take nor give
Butt in the Meane tyme this must be my care
of knittinge here a fourth knott to beware
A threefold cord though hardlie yett is broken
Another Auncient storie doth betoken
hatt seldome comes A Better; whie should I
then putt my Widowehood in Jeopardy?
the Virgins life is gold, as Clarks us tell
the Widowes silvar, I love silvar well.


Date: 1632

By: Martha Dorsett Moulsworth (1577-1646)

Tuesday, 29 March 2016

Verses 36-40 from “Pyramus and Thisbe” by Dunstan Gale

To one that’s weary drowsie sleepe will creepe,
Weary was Thisbe, Thisbe fell asleepe,
And in her sleepe she dreamt she did lament,
Thinking her heart from forth her brest was rent,
By her owne censure damn’d to cruell death,
And in her sight be rest of vitall breath.
When she awak’t, as long she had not slept,
She wept amaine, yet knew not why she wept:
For as before her heart was whole and sound,
And no defect about her could be found,
She dreamt she hurt, no hurt could she discover,
Wherefore she went to seeke her late lost lover.

Suspicious eyes, quick messengers of wo,
Brought home sad newes ere Thisbe farre could go:
For lo, upon the margent of the wood,
They spy’d her love, lye weltring in his bloud,
Having her late lost mantle at his side,
Stained with bloud, his hart bloud was not dry’d.
Wisty she lookt, and as she lookt did cry,
See, see, my hart, which I did iudge to dye:
Poore hart (quoth she) and then she kist his brest,
Wert thou inclosd in mine, there shouldst thou rest:
I causd thee die poor heart, yet rue thy dying,
And saw thy death, as I asleepe was lying.

Thou art my hart, more deare then is mine owne,
And thee sad death in my false sleepe was showne.
And then she pluckt away the murtherous blade,
And curst the hands by whom it first was made,
And yet she kist his hand that held the same,
And double kist the wound from whence it came.
Himselfe was author of his death she knew,
For yet the wound was fresh, and bleeding new,
And some bloud yet the ill-made wound did keepe,
Which when she saw, she freshly gan to weepe,
And wash the wound with fresh tears down distilling,
And view’d the same (God wot) with eyes unwilling.

She would have spoke, but griefe stopt up her breath,
For me (quoth she) my Loue is done to death,
And shall I live, sighes stopt her hind most word,
When speechlesse up she tooke the bloudy sword,
And then she cast a looke upon her Love,
Then to the blade her eye she did remove,
And sobbing cride, since love hath murthred thee,
He shall not chuse but likewise murther me:
That men may say, and then she sigh’d againe,
I him, he me, love him and me hath slaine.
Then with resolve, love her resolve did further:
With that same blade, her selfe, her selfe did murther.

Then with a sigh, she fell upon the blade,
And from the bleeding wound the sword had made,
Her fearefull bloud ran trickling to the ground,
And sought about, till Pyramus it found:
And having found him, circled in his corse,
As who should say, Ile gard thee by my force.
And when it found his bloud, as forth it came,
Then would it stay, and touch, and kisse the same,
As who should say, my mistresse love to thee,
Though dead in her, doth still remaine in me.
And for a signe of mutuall love in either,
Their ill shed bloud congealed both together.

From: Gale, Dunstan, Pyramus and Thisbe, 2003, Text Creation Partnership: Ann Arbor, Michigan and Oxford.

Date: 1597

By: Dunstan Gale (fl. 1596)

Monday, 28 March 2016

A Miracle Occurs by Lachlan Brown

Somehow I have made an astounding return:
the alps rise against a blue sky, the sun streaks down the valley,
a meadow feels those mountains pulling skywards
and lets its daffodils run into the light.
Yes I have seen this place, known it before.
In my childhood I was taken to many fabric shops,
and as my mother made her purchases
I would weave my small frame through the rolls of material
into a soft world that did not begin or end.
In one store a picture of this setting was fastened to a wall,
and I stood spellbound, until my name was finally called.
Now, so much later, I am here and cannot help but smile
at that younger self pushing through a forest of silk and cotton,
only to be held, silently, captivated by a scene.


Date: 2011

By: Lachlan Brown (19??- )

Sunday, 27 March 2016

Patience by Bobbi Katz

Chocolate Easter bunny
In a jelly bean nest,
I’m saving you for very last
Because I love you best.
I’ll only take a nibble
From the tip of your ear
And one bite from the other side
So that you won’t look queer.
Yum, you’re so delicious!
I didn’t mean to eat
Your chocolate tail till Tuesday.
Ooops! There go your feet!
I wonder how your back tastes
With all that chocolate hair.
I never thought your tummy
Was only filled with air!
Chocolate Easter bunny
In a jelly bean nest,
I’m saving you for very last
Because I love you best.


Date: 1983

By: Bobbi Katz (1933- )

Saturday, 26 March 2016

Desire by William Cornysh

You and I and Amyas,
Amyas and you and I,

To the green wood must we go, Alas!
You and I, my life and Amyas.

The knight knocked at the castle gate;
The lady marvelled who was thereat.

To call the porter he would not blin;
The lady said he could not come in.

The portress was a lady bright;
Strangeness that lady hight.

She asked him what was his name;
He said ‘Desire, your man, madame.’

She said ‘Desire what do you here’;
He said ‘Madame, as your prisoner.’

He was counselled to brief a bill;
And show the lady his own will.

Kindness said she would it bear;
And Pity said she would be there.

Thus how they did we cannot say –
We left them there and went our way.


Date: c1515

By: William Cornysh (1465-1523)

Alternative Titles: The Knight and the Lady; You and I and Amyas

Friday, 25 March 2016

The Dream of the Rood by Anonymous

Listen! The choicest of visions I wish to tell,
which came as a dream in middle-night,
after voice-bearers lay at rest.
It seemed that I saw a most wondrous tree
born aloft, wound round by light,
brightest of beams. All was that beacon
sprinkled with gold. Gems stood
fair at earth’s corners; there likewise five
shone on the shoulder-span. All there beheld the Angel of God,
fair through predestiny. Indeed, that was no wicked one’s gallows,
but holy souls beheld it there,
men over earth, and all this great creation.
Wondrous that victory-beam – and I stained with sins,
with wounds of disgrace. I saw glory’s tree
honored with trappings, shining with joys,
decked with gold; gems had
wrapped that forest tree worthily round.
Yet through that gold I clearly perceived
old strife of wretches, when first it began
to bleed on its right side. With sorrows most troubled,
I feared that fair sight. I saw that doom-beacon
turn trappings and hews: sometimes with water wet,
drenched with blood’s going; sometimes with jewels decked.
But lying there long while, I,
troubled, beheld the Healer’s tree,
until I heard its fair voice.
Then best wood spoke these words:
“It was long since – I yet remember it –
that I was hewn at holt’s end,
moved from my stem. Strong fiends seized me there,
worked me for spectacle; cursèd ones lifted me.
On shoulders men bore me there, then fixed me on hill;
fiends enough fastened me. Then saw I mankind’s Lord
come with great courage when he would mount on me.
Then dared I not against the Lord’s word
bend or break, when I saw earth’s
fields shake. All fiends
I could have felled, but I stood fast.
The young hero stripped himself – he, God Almighty –
strong and stout-minded. He mounted high gallows,
bold before many, when he would loose mankind.
I shook when that Man clasped me. I dared, still, not bow to earth,
fall to earth’s fields, but had to stand fast.
Rood was I reared. I lifted a mighty King,
Lord of the heavens, dared not to bend.
With dark nails they drove me through: on me those sores are seen,
open malice-wounds. I dared not scathe anyone.
They mocked us both, we two together. All wet with blood I was,
poured out from that Man’s side, after ghost he gave up.
Much have I born on that hill
of fierce fate. I saw the God of hosts
harshly stretched out. Darknesses had
wound round with clouds the corpse of the Wielder,
bright radiance; a shadow went forth,
dark under heaven. All creation wept,
King’s fall lamented. Christ was on rood.
But there eager ones came from afar
to that noble one. I beheld all that.
Sore was I with sorrows distressed, yet I bent to men’s hands,
with great zeal willing. They took there Almighty God,
lifted him from that grim torment. Those warriors abandoned me
standing all blood-drenched, all wounded with arrows.
They laid there the limb-weary one, stood at his body’s head;
beheld they there heaven’s Lord, and he himself rested there,
worn from that great strife. Then they worked him an earth-house,65
men in the slayer’s sight carved it from bright stone,
set in it the Wielder of Victories. Then they sang him a sorrow-song,
sad in the eventide, when they would go again
with grief from that great Lord. He rested there, with small company.
But we there lamenting a good while
stood in our places after the warrior’s cry
went up. Corpse grew cold,
fair life-dwelling. Then someone felled us
all to the earth. That was a dreadful fate!
Deep in a pit one delved us. Yet there Lord’s thanes,
friends, learned of me,. . . . . . . . . . .
adorned me with silver and gold.
Now you may know, loved man of mine,
what I, work of baleful ones, have endured
of sore sorrows. Now has the time come
when they will honor me far and wide,
men over earth, and all this great creation,
will pray for themselves to this beacon. On me God’s son
suffered awhile. Therefore I, glorious now,
rise under heaven, and I may heal
any of those who will reverence me.
Once I became hardest of torments,
most loathly to men, before I for them,
voice-bearers, life’s right way opened.
Indeed, Glory’s Prince, Heaven’s Protector,
honored me, then, over holm-wood.
Thus he his mother, Mary herself,
Almighty God, for all men,
also has honored over all woman-kind.
Now I command you, loved man of mine,
that you this seeing tell unto men;
discover with words that it is glory’s beam
which Almighty God suffered upon
for all mankind’s manifold sins
and for the ancient ill-deeds of Adam.
Death he tasted there, yet God rose again
by his great might, a help unto men.
He then rose to heaven. Again sets out hither
into this Middle-Earth, seeking mankind
on Doomsday, the Lord himself,
Almighty God, and with him his angels,
when he will deem – he holds power of doom –
everyone here as he will have earned
for himself earlier in this brief life.
Nor may there be any unafraid
for the words that the Wielder speaks.
He asks before multitudes where that one is
who for God’s name would gladly taste
bitter death, as before he on beam did.
And they then are afraid, and few think
what they can to Christ’s question answer.
Nor need there then any be most afraid
who ere in his breast bears finest of beacons;
but through that rood shall each soul
from the earth-way enter the kingdom,
who with the Wielder thinks yet to dwell.”
I prayed then to that beam with blithe mind,
great zeal, where I alone was
with small company. My heart was
impelled on the forth-way, waited for in each
longing-while. For me now life’s hope:
that I may seek that victory-beam
alone more often than all men,
honor it well. My desire for that
is much in mind, and my hope of protection
reverts to the rood. I have not now many
strong friends on this earth; they forth hence
have departed from world’s joys, have sought themselves glory’s King;
they live now in heaven with the High-Father,
dwell still in glory, and I for myself expect
each of my days the time when the Lord’s rood,
which I here on earth formerly saw,
from this loaned life will fetch me away
and bring me then where is much bliss,
joy in the heavens, where the Lord’s folk
is seated at feast, where is bliss everlasting;
and set me then where I after may
dwell in glory, well with those saints
delights to enjoy. May he be friend to me
who here on earth earlier died
on that gallows-tree for mankind’s sins.
He loosed us and life gave,
a heavenly home. Hope was renewed
with glory and gladness to those who there burning endured.
That Son was victory-fast in that great venture,
with might and good-speed, when he with many,
vast host of souls, came to God’s kingdom,
One-Wielder Almighty: bliss to the angels
and all the saints – those who in heaven
dwelt long in glory – when their Wielder came,
Almighty God, where his homeland was.


Date: ?8th century (original); 1982 (translation)

By: Anonymous

Translated by: Jonathan A. Glenn (19??- )

Thursday, 24 March 2016

Love Has Seven Names by Hadewijch

Love has seven names.
Do you know what they are?
Rope, Light, Fire, Coal
make up its domain.

The others, also good,
more modest but alive:
Dew, Hell, the Living Water.
I name them here (for they
are in the Scriptures),
explaining every sign
for virtue and form.
I tell the truth in signs.
Love appears every day
for one who offers love.
That wisdom is enough.

Love is a ROPE, for it ties
and holds us in its yoke.
It can do all, nothing snaps it.
You who love must know.

The meaning of LIGHT
is known to those who
offer gifts of love,
approved or condemned.

The Scripture tell us
the symbol of COAL:
the one sublime gift
God gives the intimate soul.

Under the name of FIRE, luck,
bad luck, joy or no joy,
consumes. We are seized
by the same heat from both.

When everything is burnt
in its own violence, the DEW,
coming like a breeze, pauses
and brings the good.

LIVING WATER (its sixth name)
flows and ebbs
as my love grows
and disappears from sight.

HELL (I feel its torture)
damns, covering the world.
Nothing escapes. No one has grace
to see a way out.

Take care, you who wish
to deal with names
for love. Behind their sweetness
and wrath, nothing endures.
Nothing but wounds and kisses.

Though love appears far off,
you will move into its depth.


Date: 13th century (original); 2002 (translation)

By: Hadewijch (13th century)

Translated by: Willis Barnstone (1927- ) and Elene Kolb (19??- )

Wednesday, 23 March 2016

Quatrains for a Calling by Peter Cole

Why are you here?
Who have you come for
and what would you gain?
Where is your fear?

Why are you here?

You’ve come so near,
or so it would seem;
you can see the grain
in the paper — that’s clear.

But why are you here

when you could be elsewhere,
earning a living
or actually learning?
Why should we care

why you’re here?

Is that a tear?
Yes, there’s pressure
behind the eyes —
and there are peers.

But why are you here?

At times it sears.
The pressure and shame
and the echoing pain.
What do you hear

now that you’re here?

The air’s so severe.
It calls for equipment,
which comes at a price.
And you’ve volunteered.

Why? Are you here?

What will you wear?
What will you do
if it turns out you’ve failed?
How will you fare?

Why are you here

when it could take years
to find out — what?
It’s all so slippery,
and may not cohere.

And yet, you’re here    …

Is it what you revere?

How deep does that go?
How do you know?
Do you think you’re a seer?

Is that why you’re here?

Do you have a good ear?
For praise or for verse?
Can you handle a curse?
Define persevere.

Why are you here?

It could be a career.


Date: 2013

By: Peter Cole (1957- )

Tuesday, 22 March 2016

Gazing Through the Night by Samuel Hanagid

Gazing through the
night and its stars,

or the grass and its bugs,

I know in my heart these swarms
are the craft of surpassing wisdom.
Think: the skies
resemble a tent,
stretched taut by loops
and hooks;

and the moon with its stars,
a shepherdess,
on a meadow
grazing her flock;

and the crescent hull in the looser clouds

looks like a ship being tossed;

a whiter cloud, a girl
in her garden
tending her shrubs;

and the dew coming down is her sister
shaking water
from her hair onto the path;

as we
settle in our lives,

like beasts in their ample stalls—

fleeing our terror of death,
like a dove
its hawk in flight—

though we’ll lie in the end like a plate,
hammered into dust and shards.


Date: 11th century (original); 1996 (translation)

By: Samuel Hanagid (993-1056)

Translated by: Peter Cole (1957- )