Archive for March, 2016

Monday, 21 March 2016

Three Trees by Nick Thran

The aspen, maple and willow gathered one morning for coffee.
“I don’t know how to properly measure my limited hours
against the excess of love that I feel for my fellow aspen,”
lamented the aspen. “There’s just this constant sense of having
let down my own kind.” “My husband is unreachable,”
said the maple. “He is too many tiny, stacked logs.
A part of him is always away in some fire or the other.”
“The plight of the ant makes me weep,” said the willow.
“And the plight of the grass. And the nasty things humans
will sometimes call one another as they glide by in canoes.”
Their conversation sounded like a day would sound in its entirety.
They pressed their foreheads together at night and otherwise
did not touch, though something was surely going on
under the soil, among roots that only the agilest bugs could see.
How many seasons passed like that before our family arrived?
How many years? Morning. A pot of hot coffee.
At the edge of the lake, three trees.


Date: 2015

By: Nick Thran (19??- )

Sunday, 20 March 2016

Biography by Maura Stanton

Perhaps biography is the flat map
Abstracted from the globe of someone’s life:
We are interested in the routes and detours.
So I found myself last summer in a storm
Driving down the Main Street of Red Cloud
Looking for Willa Cather’s house, which was closed.
Then I drove to the Geographic Center
Of the United States, where she may have once walked
When the red grasses covered the prairie.
I tried to see for a moment through her eyes.
I looked at cows; I turned my head away
From the abandoned motel and two roadside tables–
But it was those forlorn shapes I remembered
Back in my own life, out on the highway.


Date: 1982

By: Maura Stanton (1946- )

Saturday, 19 March 2016

The Fishwife and Mustaches; or Sandhill Oratory by Robert Emery

Tune: “Drawing a Long Bow; or, How To Tell a Story”

The brave Scotch Greys’ Colonel, as fine as ye’d wish,
Swagger’d down to Sandhill to purchase some fish;
His Mustaches so large did attract Heuphy Scott,
Who had soals on her stall, so he priced a lot.

Eight shillins a pair, Sur, ye cannot weel grudge—
They’re the best in the market, if aw’s ony judge:
But the Colonel replied with a kind of a frown,
I do think you’re well paid if you get half a crown.

Then Heuphy enrag’d, thought the Hero to stagger, —
Just leuk at his arse there, the lobster back’d bugger!
Half a croon!!!—wey, aw sure! —di’ ye think that aw rob?
Wi’ yor clarty black whiskers that grows round yor gob!

A mistake, my good woman, you’ve made in your rage—
They are called Mustaches—the best, I’ll engage: —
Mouse-catchers!!awd c—t fyece! noo just say nee mair,
For aw piss ev’ry day through a far better pair!!!

The Colonel, with laughing, was near overcome,
At last says to Heuphy—pray, send the fish home;
And instead of eight shillings, I’ll pay you with nine.
For I’ll laugh at this joke when I’m far from the Tyne.


Date: 1826

By: Robert Emery (1794-1871)

Friday, 18 March 2016

Cashel of Munster by William English

I’d wed you without herds, without money or rich array,
And I’d wed you on a dewy morning at day-dawn gray;
My bitter woe it is, love, that we are not far away
In Cashel town, though the bare deal board were our marriage bed this day!

O fair maid, remember the green hillside,
Remember how I hunted about the valleys wide:
Time now has worn me, my locks are turned to gray,
The year is scarce, and I am poor, but send me not, love, away!

O, deem not my blood is of base strain, my girl!
O, deem not my birth was as the birth of a churl!
Marry me, and prove me, and say soon you will,
That noble blood is written on my right side still!

My purse holds no red gold, no coin of the silver white,
No herds are mine to drive through the long twilight;
But the pretty girl that would take me, all bare though I be and lone,
O, I’d take her with me kindly to the County Tyrone!

O my girl, I can see ‘t is in trouble you are,
And, my girl, I see ‘t is your people’s reproach you bear.
“I am a girl in trouble for his sake with whom I fly,
And may no other maiden know such reproach as I!”

From: Williams, Alfred M., The Poets and Poetry of Ireland, with Historical and Critical Essays and Notes, 1881, James R. Osgood and Company: Boston, pp. 103-104.

Date: c1750 (original); 1865 (translation)

By: William English (1709-1778)

Translated by: Samuel Ferguson (1810-1886)

Thursday, 17 March 2016

How Queer This Mode by Dáibhí Ó Bruadair

How queer this mode assumed by many men of Erin,
With haughty, upstart ostentation lately swollen,
Though codes of foreign clerks they fondly strive to master,
They utter nothing but a ghost of strident English.

From: Ó Bruadair, David and MacErlean, John C., The Poems of David Ó Bruadair: Part I, Containing Poems Down to the Year 1666, 1910, Irish Texts Society: London, p. 19.

Date: c1660 (original); 1910 (translation)

By: Dáibhí Ó Bruadair (1625-1698)

Translated by: John C. MacErlean (1870-1950)

Wednesday, 16 March 2016

The Ballad which Anne Askew made and sang when she was in Newgate by Anne Askew Kyme

Like as the armed knight
Appointed to the field,
With this world will I fight
And Faith shall be my shield.

Faith is that weapon strong
Which will not fail at need.
My foes, therefore, among
Therewith will I proceed.

As it is had in strength
And force of Christes way
It will prevail at length
Though all the devils say nay.

Faith in the fathers old
Obtained rightwisness1
Which make me very bold
To fear no world’s distress.

I now rejoice in heart
And Hope bid me do so
For Christ will take my part
And ease me of my woe.

Thou saist, lord, who so knock,
To them wilt thou attend.
Undo, therefore, the lock
And thy strong power send.

More enmyes now I have
Than hairs upon my head.
Let them not me deprave
But fight thou in my stead.

On thee my care I cast.
For all their cruel spight
I set not by their haste
For thou art my delight.

I am not she that list
My anchor to let fall
For every drizzling mist
My ship substancial.

Not oft use I to wright
In prose nor yet in rime,
Yet will I shew one sight
That I saw in my time.

I saw a rial2 throne
Where Justice should have sit
But in her stead was one
Of moody cruel wit.

Absorpt was rightwisness
As of the raging flood
Sathan in his excess
Suct up the guiltless blood.

Then thought I, Jesus lord,
When thou shalt judge us all
Hard is it to record
On these men what will fall.

Yet lord, I thee desire
For that they do to me
Let them not taste the hire
Of their iniquity.

1 rightwisness – righteousness
2 rial – royal


Date: 1546

By: Anne Askew Kyme (1521-1546)

Tuesday, 15 March 2016

Excerpt from “The Wallace: Book 1” by Blind Harry (Henry the Minstrel) with translation by Stephan Gramley

Our antecessowris that we suld of reide
And hald in mynde thar nobille worthi deid,
We lat ourslide throw verray sleuthfulnes,
And castis us evir till uthir besynes.
Till honour ennymyis is our haile entent:
It has beyne seyne in thir tymys bywent.
Our ald ennemys cummyn of Saxonys blud,
That nevyr yeit to Scotland wald do gud
Bot evir on fors and contrar haile thar will,
Quhow gret kyndnes thar has beyne kyth thaim till.
It is weyle knawyne on mony divers syde
How thai haff wrocht into thar mychty pryde
To hald Scotlande at undyr evirmar,
Bot God abuff has maid thar mycht to par.

Our ancestors, who we should read of,
And hold in mind their noble worthy deeds
We let pass by, through veritable slothfulness;
And continually occupy ourselves with other business.
To honor our enemies is our whole intention,
It has been seen in bygone times;
Our old enemies came of Saxon blood,
Who never yet to Scotland would do good,
But necessarily and against their will,
How great kindness there has been revealed to them.
It is well known on diverse sides,
How they have tried in their mighty pride,
To hold Scotland down evermore
But god above has lessened their might.

From: [original]

Date: c1477 (original); 2012 (translation)

By: Blind Harry (Henry the Minstrel) (c1440-1492)

Translated by: Stephan Gramley (19??- )

Monday, 14 March 2016

I Am That by Julian of Norwich

I am that.
I am that which is highest.
I am that which is lowest.
I am that which is All.


Date: 1373

By: Julian of Norwich (c1342-c1416)

Sunday, 13 March 2016

On the Fitness of Seasons by Enzo, King of Sardinia

There is a time to mount; to humble thee
A time; a time to talk, and hold thy peace;
A time to labour, and a time to cease;
A time to take thy measures patiently;
A time to watch what Time’s next step may be;
A time to make light count of menaces,
And to think over them, a time there is;
There is a time when to seem not to see.
Wherefore I hold him well-advised and sage
Who evermore keeps prudence facing him,
And lets his life slide with occasion;
And so comports himself, through youth to age,
That never any man at any time
Can say, Not thus, but Thus thou shouldst have done.

From: Rossetti, Dante Gabriel, Dante and His Circle: With the Italian Poets Preceding Him (1100-1200-1300), 1887, Roberts Brothers: Boston, p. 186.


Date: c1250 (original); 1861 (translation)

By: Enzo, King of Sardinia (1225-1272)

Translated by: Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828-1882)

Saturday, 12 March 2016

A Long Melancholy Tune (Autumn Sorrow) – Despair by Li Qingzhao

Searching, seeking.
Seeking, searching:
What comes of it but
Coldness and desolation,
A world of dreariness and misery
And stabbing pain!
As soon as one feels a bit of warmth
A sense of chill returns:
A time so hard to have a quiet rest.
What avail two or three cups of tasteless wine
Against a violent evening wind?
Wild geese wing past at this of all hours,
And it suddenly dawns on me
That I’ve met them before.

Golden chrysanthemums in drifts —
How I’d have loved to pick them,
But now, for whom? On the ground they lie strewn,
Faded, neglected.
There’s nothing for it but to stay at the window,
Motionless, alone.
How the day drags before dusk descends!
Fine rain falling on the leaves of parasol-trees —
Drip, drip, drop, drop, in the deepening twilight.
To convey all the melancholy feelings
Born of these scenes
Can the one word “sorrow” suffice?

From: Wang, Jiaosheng, “The Complete Ci-poems of Li Qingzhao: A New English Translation” in Sino-Platonic Papers, 13, October, 1989, p. 109.

Date: c1110 (original); 1989 (translation)

By: Li Qingzhao (1084-c1151)

Translated by: Jiaosheng Wang (19??- )