Archive for April, 2016

Saturday, 30 April 2016

Overlooked by Emily Pauline Johnson (Tekahionwake)

Sleep, with her tender balm, her touch so kind,
Has passed me by;
Afar I see her vesture, velvet-lined,
Float silently;
O! Sleep, my tired eyes had need of thee!
Is thy sweet kiss not meant to-night for me?

Peace, with the blessings that I longed for so,
Has passed me by;
Where ’ere she folds her holy wings I know
All tempests die;
O! Peace, my tired soul had need of thee!
Is thy sweet kiss denied alone to me?

Love, with her heated touches; passion-stirred,
Has passed me by.
I called, “O stay thy flight,” but all unheard
My lonely cry:
O! Love, my tired heart had need of thee!
Is thy sweet kiss withheld alone from me?

Sleep, sister-twin of Peace, my waking eyes
So weary grow!
O! Love, thou wanderer from Paradise,
Dost thou not know
How oft my lonely heart has cried to thee?
But Thou, and Sleep, and Peace, come not to me.

From: Johnson, Emily Pauline, The White Wampum, 1895, The Copp Clark Co: Toronto, pp. 57-58.

Date: 1895

By: Emily Pauline Johnson (Tekahionwake) (1861-1913)

Friday, 29 April 2016

An essay on Slavery, with justification to Divine providence, that God Rules over all things by Jupiter Hammon

Our forefathers came from Africa
Tost over the raging main
To a Christian shore there for to stay
And not return again.

Dark and dismal was the Day
When slavery began
All humble thoughts were put away
Then slaves were made by Man.

When God doth please for to permit
That slavery should be
It is our duty to submit
Till Christ shall make us free

Come let us join with one consent
With humble hearts and say
For every sin we must repent
And walk in wisdom’s way.

If we are free we’ll pray to God
If we are slaves the same
It’s firmly fixt in his [holy] word
Ye shall not pray in vain.

Come blessed Jesus in thy Love
And hear thy children cry
And send them smiles now from above
And grant them Liberty.

Tis thou alone can make us free
We are thy subjects too
Pray give us grace to bend a knee
The time we stay below.

Tis unto thee we look for all
Thou art our only King
Thou hast the power to save the soul
And bring us flocking in.

We come as sinners unto thee
We know thou hast the word
Come blessed Jesus make us free
And bring us to our God.

Although we are in Slavery
We will pray unto our God
He hath mercy beyond the sky
Tis in his holy word.

Come unto me ye humble souls
Although you live in strife
I keep alive and save the soul
And give eternal life.

To all that do repent of sin
Be they bond or free
I am their saviour and their king
They must come unto me.

Hear the words now of the Lord
The call is loud and certain
We must be judged by his word
Without respect of person.

Come let us seek his precepts now
And love his holy word
With humble soul we’ll surely bow
And wait the great reward.

Although we came from Africa
We look unto our God
To help our hearts to sigh and pray
And Love his holy word.

Although we are in slavery
Bound by the yoke of Man
We must always have a single eye
And do the best we can.

Come let us join with humble voice
Now on the christian shore
If we will have our only choice
Tis slavery no more.

Now [?] let us not repine
And say his wheels are slow
He can fill our hearts with things divine
And give us freedom too.

He hath the power all in his hand
And all he doth is right
And if we are tide [sic] to the yoke of man
We’ll pray with all might.

This the state of thousands now
Who are on the christian shore
Forget the Lord to whom we bow
And think of him no more.

When shall we hear the joyfull sound
Echo the christian shore
Each humble voice with songs resound
That slavery is no more.

Then shall we rejoice and sing
Loud praises to our God
Come sweet Jesus heavenly king
The art the son Our Lord.

We are thy children blessed Lord
Tho still in slavery
We’ll seek thy precepts Love thy word
Untill the day we Die.

Come blessed Jesus hear us now
And teach our hearts to pray
And seek the Lord to whom we bow
Before tribunal day.

Now glory be unto our God
All praise be justly given
Come seek his precepts love his works
That is the way to Heaven.

Composed by Jupiter Hammon
A Negro Man belonging to Mr John Lloyd
Queens Village on Long Island
November 10th 1786


Date: 1786

By: Jupiter Hammon (1711-before 1806)

Thursday, 28 April 2016

Upon the Lines and Life of the Famous Scenic Poet, Master William Shakespeare by Hugh Holland

Those hands, which you so clapped, go now, and wring
You Britain’s brave; for done are Shakespeare’s days.
His days are done, that made the dainty plays,
Which made the Globe of heav’n and earth to ring.
Dried is that vein, dried is the Thespian Spring,
Turned all to tears, and Phoebus clouds his rays.
That corpse, that coffin, now bestick those bays,
Which crowned him poet first, then poets’ king.
If tragedies might any prologue have,
All those he made, would scarce make a one to this;
Where fame, now that he gone is to the grave
(Deaths public tiring-house), the nuncius is.
For though his line of life went soon about,
The life yet of his lines shall never out.


Date: 1623

By: Hugh Holland (1569-1633)

Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Prologue to “Lais” by Marie de France

Whoever gets knowledge from God, science,
and a talent for speech, eloquence,
Shouldn’t shut up or hide away;
No, that person should gladly display.
When everyone hears about some great good
Then it flourishes as it should;
When folks praise it at full power,
Then the good deed’s in full flower.
Among the ancients it was the tradition
(On this point we can quote Priscian)

When they wrote their books in the olden day
What they had to say they’d obscurely say.
They knew that some day others would come
And need to know what they’d written down;
Those future readers would gloss the letter,
Add their own meaning to make the book better.
Those old philosophers, wise and good,
Among themselves they understood
Mankind, in the future tense,
Would develop a subtler sense
Without trespassing to explore
What’s in the words, and no more.

Whoever wants to be safe from vice
Should study and learn (heed this advice)
And undertake some difficult labor;
Then trouble is a distant neighbor–
From great sorrows one can escape.
Thus my idea began to take shape:
I’d find some good story or song
To translate from Latin into our tongue;
But was the prize worth the fight?
So many others had already tried it.
Then I thought of the lais I’d heard;
I had no doubt, I was assured
They’d been composed for memory’s sake
About real adventures–no mistake:
They heard the tale, composed the song,
Sent it forth. They didn’t get it wrong.
I’ve heard so many lais, I would regret
Letting them go, letting people forget.
So I rhymed them and wrote them down aright.
Often my candle burned late at night.

In your honor, noble king,
Whose might and courtesy make the world ring–
All joys flow from you or run to you,
Whose heart is the root of every virtue–
For you these lais I undertook,
To bring them together, rhymed, in this book.
In my heart I always meant
To offer you this, my present.
Great joy to my heart you bring
If you accept my offering–
I’ll be glad forever and a day!
Please don’t think that I say
This from conceit–pride’s not my sin.
Just listen now, and I’ll begin.


Date: 12th century (original); 1992 (translation)

By: Marie de France (12th century)

Translated by: Judith P. Shoaf (19??- )

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

War-Time by Mary Eliza Fullerton

Young John, the postman, day by day,
In sunshine or in rain,
Comes down our road with words of doom
In envelopes of pain.

What cares he as he swings along
At his mechanic part,
How many times his hand lets fall
The knocker on a heart?

He whistles merry scraps of song,
What’er his bag contain—
Of words of death, of words of doom
In envelopes of pain.

From: Fullerton, Mary E., The Breaking Furrow, 2003, University of Sydney Library: Sydney, p. 28.

Date: 1921

By: Mary Eliza Fullerton (1868-1946)

Monday, 25 April 2016

The Song of the Dead* by John Henry Macartney Abbott

Large numbers of Australian and New Zealand volunteers are already on the water bound for Vancouver, en route for Europe.–Paragraph of War News, 1915.

Oh Land of Ours, hear the song we make for you
Land of yellow wattle bloom, land of smiling Spring-
Hearken to the after words, land of pleasant memories,
Shea–oaks of the shady creeks, hear the song we sing.
For we lie quietly, underneath the lonely hills,
Where the land is silent, where the guns have ceased boom,
Here we are waiting, and shall wait for Eternity–
Here on the battle–fields, where we found our doom.

Spare not thy pity–Life is strong and fair for you–
City by the waterside, homestead on the plain.
Keep ye remembrance, keep ye a place for us–
So all the bitterness of dying be not vain.
Oh, be ye mindful, mindful of our honor’s name;
Oh, be ye careful of the word ye speak in jest–
For we have bled for you; for we have died for you-
Yea, we have given, we have given our best.

Life that we might have lived, love that we might have loved,
Sorrow of all sorrows, we have drunk thy bitter lees.
Speak thou a word to us, here in our narrow beds–
Word of thy mourning lands beyond the Seas.
Lo, we have paid the price, paid the cost of Victory.
Do not forget, when the rest shall homeward come–
Mother of our childhood, sister of our manhood days,
Loved of our heavy hearts, whom we have left alone.

Hark to the guns–pause and turn, and think of us–
Red was our life’s blood, and heavy was the cost.
But ye have Nationhood, but ye are a people strong–
Oh, have ye love for the brothers ye have lost?
Oh, by the blue skies, clear beyond the mountain tops,
Oh, by the dear, dun plains where we were bred,–
What be your tokens, tokens that ye grieve for us,
Tokens of your Sorrowing for we that be Dead?

*This poem was originally published (in a slightly different version) in 1902 as part of the author’s memoirs of the Australian involvement in the Boer War (in which he took part) but was re-issued (with alterations to reflect the new theatre of war) at some time after the Australian and New Zealand forces withdrew from Gallipoli at the end of 1915.


Date: 1916?

By: John Henry Macartney Abbott (1874-1953)

Sunday, 24 April 2016

Spirit of ANZAC by Michael Raphael Gabriel (Mike) Subritzky

They clad us in the colours of the forest,
and armed us with the weapons made for war.
Then taught to us the ancient trade of killing,
and lead us to the sound of battles roar.

So give us comfort as we lay down bleeding,
and pray upon our cold and stiffened dead.
But mark our place that we might be accounted,
this foreign soil becomes our graven bed.

Now children place upon this stone a garland,
and learn of us each Anzac Day at dawn.
We are New Zealand’s dead from distant conflict,
our sacrifice remembered ever more.


Date: 1986

By: Michael Raphael Gabriel (Mike) Subritzky (1950- )

Saturday, 23 April 2016

The Valve by David R. Slavitt

The one-way flow of time we take for granted,
but what if the valve is defective? What if the threads
on the stem wear thin, or the stuffing box or the bonnet
ring leaks, or the joints to the pipe ring fail,
and there’s a backwash?
It happens.
And then old loves,
meeting again, have no idea what to do,
resuming or not resuming from where they were
years before. Or the dead come back to chat.
Or you are reduced for a giddy moment to childhood’s
innocent incompetence. You look up
as if to see some hint in the sky’s blackboard.
But then, whatever it was, some fluff or grit
that clogged the works, works free, and again time passes,
almost as before, and you try to get on with your life.


Date: 2001

By: David R. Slavitt (1935- )

Friday, 22 April 2016

To the Reader by Joachim du Bellay

Reader, this little book we bring
is flavoured of honey and gall and more
than a dash of salt. Should this delight
your palate, lovely; come and dine.
But should you find it’s not your thing,
then leave. The meal was not meant for
the likes of you. It’s quite all right.
You go your way, and I’ll go mine.

From: du Bellay, Joachim, The Regrets. A Bilingual Edition. Translated from the French and Latin, 2004, Northwestern University Press: Evanston, Illinois, p. 3.

Date: 1558 (original); 2004 (translation)

By: Joachim du Bellay (c1522-1560)

Translated by: David R. Slavitt (1935- )

Thursday, 21 April 2016

Lorica by Gildas

Help unity of trinity,
have pity trinity of unity;
Help me, I pray, thus placed
as in the peril of a great sea,
So that the plague of this year
draw me not with it, nor the vanity of the world.
And this very petition I make unto the high
powers of the heavenly warfare,
that they leave me not to be harried by enemies,
but defend me with their strong armour;
that, before me in the battle, go
those armies of the heavenly warfare,
Cherubim and Seraphim with their thousands,
Gabriel and Michael with like ones.
May thrones, powers, archangels,
principalities, dominions, angels,
defend me with their thick array,
and be strong to overthrow my enemies.
Then also the other arbiters of the strife—-
patriarchs four, prophets four,
Apostles, watchmen of the ship of Christ,
And the athlete martyrs all—-I ask,
And adjure also all virgins,
faithful widows, and confessors,
that safety compass me by them,
and every evil perish from me.
May Christ make with me a strong covenant,
He whose terror scares away the foul throngs.

God the unconquerable guardian,
defend me on every side by thy power.
Free Thou all limbs of mine,
with Thy safe shield protecting each,
so that the fell demons brandish not
against my sides, as is their wont, their darts.
Skull, head, hair and eyes,
forehead, tongue, teeth and their covering,
neck, breast, side, bowels,
waist, buttocks and both hands.
For the crown of my head with its hair,
be Thou the helmet of salvation on the head;
For forehead, eyes, triform brain,
nose, lip, face, temple,
For chin, beard, eye-brows, ears,
cheeks, lower cheeks, internasal, nostrils,
For the pupils, irides, eyelashes, eyelids,
chin, breathing, cheeks, jaws,
For teeth, tongue, mouth, throat,
uvula, windpipe, bottom of tongue, nape,
For the middle of the head, for cartilage,
neck—-Thou kind One, be near for defence.

Lord be Thou safest lorica,
for my limbs, for my entrails,
that thou mayest thrust back from me the invisible
nails of stakes, which enemies fashion.
Cover, therefore, O God, with strong corslet,
along with shoulder blades, shoulders and arms.
Cover elbows with elbow-joints and hands,
fists, palms, fingers with their nails.
Cover back-bone and ribs with their joints,
hind-parts, back, nerves and bones.
Cover surface, blood and kidneys,
haunches, buttocks with the thighs.
Cover hams, calves, thighs,
knee-caps, houghs and knees.
Cover ankles, shins and heels,
legs, feet with the rests of the soles.
Cover the branches that grow ten together,
with the toes with the nails ten.
Cover chest, its join, the little breast,
paps, stomach, navel.
Cover belly, reins, genitals,
and paunch, and vital parts also of the heart.
Cover the triangular liver and fat,
spleen, armpits with covering (?).
Cover stomach, chest with the lungs,
veins, sinews, gall-bladder with……
Cover flesh, groin with the inner parts,
spleen with the winding intestines.
Cover bladder, fat and all
the numberless orders of joints.
Cover hairs, and the rest of my limbs,
whose names, may be, I have passed by.
Cover me all in all with my five senses,
and with the ten doors formed (for me),
so that, from my soles to the top of the head,
in no member, without within, may I be sick;
that, from my body, life be not cast out
by plague, fever, weakness, suffering,
Until, with the gift of old age from God,
I blot out my sins with good works;
And, in departing from the flesh, be free from stain,
and be able to fly to the heights,
and, by the mercy of God, be borne in joy
to the heavenly cool retreats of His kingdom.


Date: c550 (original); 1899 (translation)

By: Gildas (c500-570)

Translated by: Hugh Williams (1843-1911)