Archive for May, 2016

Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Of the Booke by Richard Hathwaye

The sundry beames proceeding from one Sunne,
The hive where many Bees their honey brings,
The Sea, to which a thousand rivers runne,
The garden where survives contintuall spring,
The Trophee hung with divers painfull hands,
Abstract of knowledge, Briefe of Eloquence,
Aiding the weake, preserving him that stands:
Guide to the soule, and ruler of the sense.
Such is this Volume, and the fraight hereof,
How-ever ignorance presume to scoffe.

From: Bodenham, John, Bodenham’s Belvedére or The Garden of the Muses, Reprinted from the Original Edition of 1600, 1875, Spenser Society: Manchester, p. [37].

Date: 1600

By: Richard Hathwaye (fl. 1597-1603)

Monday, 30 May 2016

Verses Written of Twenty Good Precepts, at the Request of Master Robert Cudden, of Gray’s Inn by George Whetstone

Old friendship binds (though fain I would refuse!),
In this discourse, to please your honest mind!
For trust me, friend! the counselling words I use,
Are rather forced of cause, than come of kind!

Your Themes are short! and yet in substance large,
As of the least, some would a volume write!
The first, Serve GOD! a service of such charge
As should not be forslowèd day or night!

For what we do, is present in his eye;
Well-doing, then, He must with grace regard!
And, using course, if He ill-doing spy,
He cannot but the lewd with wrath reward!

Obey thy Prince! or Tyburn cool thy pride!
The head commands the feet to go, or stay;
So we, our Prince, even as our head and guide,
In what she wills, of duty must obey!

Like well thy friend! but try him ere thou love!
For friends, we may, to Æsop’s tongues compare!
The faithful friend, no fortune can remove!
The fair-mouth foe, in need doth feed thy care!

Shun many words! A sentence short and sweet!
For lavish speech is cause of much unrest.
It makes men oft their friends in sorrow meet;
And best applied, fair words seld ‘bide the test!

Avoid anger! or look to live in woe!
The harebrained jade is far more spurred and beat
Than cooler horse, which meaner metal shows.
The like reward the hasty man doth get!

Appease debate! An honest work in truth!
Much physic oft increaseth sickly qualms.
Recounting wrongs so many makes so wroth
As lives, legs, arms, are often dealt for alms!

Be merciful! Have Dives’ scourge in mind!
None lives so just but some way doth offend!
Then, cruel man! what favour shouldst thou find,
When thou thy ears, to pity will not bend?

Slander no man! Mirth is a leech to moan!
Health, physic helps, Fortune restoreth wealth;
But honest fame, by slander spoiled and gone,
Health, Wealth, nor Mirth can satisfy the stealth!

Report the truth! Once there, one trial stands.
Note well, the fall of good Susanna’s foes!
Upon thy life oft lieth life and lands!
A weighty charge, lest thou the truth disclose.

Take heed of drink! Therein much mischief lies!
It doth disclose the secrets of the breast!
What worse account than for none to be wise;
When none is past to be esteemed a beast!

Disdain no man! Misjudgement often blinds!
All is not fire like flame, that seems to blaze!
Once homely weeds oft hide more gallant minds
Than gaudy coats, which set each eye to gaze.

Thy secrets keep! or make thyself a slave!
The babbling fool is made a jesting stock!
When closely men account, and credit have;
Then best that thou thy tongue with silence lock!

Try, ere thou trust thy faith, lest falsehood ‘quite!
The crocodile, with tears doth win her prey!
The Flatterer so, doth seem a Saint in sight;
To cut thy throat, in absence, if he may!

Cherish the poor! A work in Nature due.
Brute beasts relieve the feeble of their kind.
Then, Man! for shame, with succour, see thou rue
Of Man distressed, the sick, the lame, or blind!

Aid honest minds! and praise shall be thy meed!
The subtle wretch, for pence, with fraud will fish!
The honest man had rather starve in need,
Than, by deceit, to feed dishonest wish!

Shun wanton Dames! as Sirens they entice!
Both body and purse, they witch, wound, and waste!
And, in the end (for all this saucy price!),
Their sweet delights, of sour repentance taste!

Succour Soldiers! They watch to keep thy wealth!
In wars they serve, that thou in peace mayst feed!
Then if, through lack, the soldier live by stealth,
I wish a Churl fair hanged in his stead!

Strangers favour! Thy fortune is unknown!
In Youth, or Age, none lives but needs a friend!
And, using grace, if thou be overthrown,
Thou yet mayst hope, thy grief with grace to end!

Provide for age! or look to die with grief!
Some, forced through shame, their aged friends do aid.
But Oh! sour looks so salve this sweet relief,
As, day and night, with sighs they are dismayed!

Think on thy end! The tide for none doth wait!
Even so, pale Death, for no man’s will doth stay!
Then, while thou mayst, thy worldly reck’ning straight!
Lest, when thou wouldst, Death doth good will dismay!

From: Arber, Edward (ed.), The Spenser Anthology. 1548-1591 A.D., 1899, Henry Frowde: London, pp. 138-141.

Date: 1580

By: George Whetstone (?1544-1587)

Sunday, 29 May 2016

The Canticle of the Sun by Francis of Assissi (Giovanni di Pietro di Bernardone)

Here begin the praises of the creatures which the Blessed Francis made to the praise and honor of god while he was ill at St. Damian’s:

Most high, omnipotent, good Lord,
Praise, glory and honor and benediction all, are Thine.
To Thee alone do they belong, most High,
And there is no man fit to mention Thee.

Praise be to Thee, my Lord, with all Thy creatures,
Especially to my worshipful brother sun,
The which lights up the day, and through him dost Thou brightness give;
And beautiful is he and radiant with splendor great;
Of Thee, most High, signification gives.

Praised be my Lord, for sister moon and for the stars,
In heaven Thou hast formed them clear and precious and fair.

Praised be my Lord for brother wind
And for the air and clouds and fair and every kind of weather,
By the which Thou givest to Thy creatures nourishment.

Praised be my Lord for sister water,
The which is greatly helpful and humble and precious and pure.

Praised be my Lord for brother fire,
By the which Thou lightest up the dark.
And fair is he and gay and mighty and strong.

Praised be my Lord for our sister, mother earth,
The which sustains and keeps us
And brings forth diverse fruits with grass and flowers bright.

Praised be my Lord for those who for Thy love forgive
And weakness bear and tribulation.
Blessed those who shall in peace endure,
For by Thee, most High, shall they be crowned.

Praised be my Lord for our sister, the bodily death,
From the which no living man can flee.
Woe to them who die in mortal sin;
Blessed those who shall find themselves in Thy most holy will,
For the second death shall do them no ill.

Praise ye and bless ye my Lord, and give Him thanks,
And be subject unto Him with great humility.

From: Robinson, Pashcal (translator), The Writings of St. Francis of Assissi, 2007, Santa Cruz, California, pp. 152-153.

Date: 1225 (original); 1905 (translation)

By: Francis of Assissi (Giovanni di Pietro di Bernardone) (1181/1182-1226)

Translated by: Paschal (David) Robinson (1870-1948)

Saturday, 28 May 2016

Sympathy of Peoples by Robert Stuart Fitzgerald

No but come closer. Come a little
Closer. Let the wall-eyed hornyhanded
Panhandler hit you for a dime
Sir and shiver. Snow like this
Drives its pelting shadows over Bremen,
Over sad Louvain and the eastern
Marshes, the black wold. It sighs
Into the cold sea of the north,
That vast contemptuous revery between
Antiquity and you. Turn up your collar,
Pull your hatbrim down. Commune
Briefly with your ignorant heart
For those bewildered raging children
Europe surrenders her old gentry to.

All their eyes turn in the night from
Your fretfulness and forgetfulness,
Your talk; they turn away, friend.
Their eyes dilated with dreams of power
Fix on the image of the mob wet
With blood scaling the gates of order.
Anarchist and incendiary
Caesar bind that brotherhood
To use and crush the civil guard,
Debauch the debauché, level
Tenement and court with soaring
Sideslipping squadrons and hard regiments,
Stripped for the smoking levée of the
Howitzer, thunderstruck under the net.

The great mouth of hunger closes
On swineherd and princess, on the air
Of jongleur and forest bell; Grendel
Swims from the foul deep again.
Deputy, cartelist, academician
Question in haste any plumeless captain
Before the peremptory descent
Of mankind, flattered and proud.
With whitening morning on the waste
You may discern through binoculars
A long line of the shawled and frozen,
Moving yet motionless, as if those
Were populations whom the sun failed
And the malicious moon enchanted
To wander and be still forever
The prey of wolves and bestial mazes.


Date: 1969

By: Robert Stuart Fitzgerald (1910-1985)

Friday, 27 May 2016

Lines 80-106 from “The Iliad, Book I” [A Friend Consigned to Death] by Homer

“Sleeping so? Thou hast forgotten me,
Akhilleus. Never was I uncared for
in life but am in death. Accord me burial
in all haste: let me pass the gates of Death.
Shades that are images of used-up men
motion me away, will not receive me
among their hosts beyond the river. I wander
about the wide gates and the hall of Death.
Give me your hand. I sorrow.
When thou shalt have allotted me my fire
I will not fare here from the dark again.
As living men we’ll no more sit apart
from our companions, making plans. The day
of wrath appointed for me at my birth
engulfed and took me down. Thou too, Akhilleus,
face iron destiny, godlike as thou art,
to die under the wall of highborn Trojans.
One more message, one behest, I leave thee:
not to inter my bones apart from thine
but close together, as we grew together,
in thy family’s hall. Menoitios
from Opoeis had brought me, under a cloud,
a boy still, on the day I killed the son
of Lord Amphídamas–though I wished it not–
in childish anger over a game of dice.
Pêleus, master of horse, adopted me
and reared me kindly, naming me your squire.
So may the same urn hide our bones, the one
of gold your gracious mother gave.”


Date: 8th century BC (first written original); 1974 (translation)

By: Homer (?12th century BC or 9th century BC)

Translated by: Robert Stuart Fitzgerald (1910-1985)

Thursday, 26 May 2016

A Question of Belief by Rika Lesser

The first time wasn’t real, I mean
for real, a real attempt. No one
believed me when I said the medicine
was at fault, kept me from sleeping,
thinking, set my limbs tingling. Taking
those pills, staying in that house–
pigeons roosting on the roof, their
insistent coos and cries–in one of my
old bedrooms, made me an invalid.
What they believed was what I said
in scorn, in response to threats. That I’d
like to jump out of a window. All I wanted
was sleep.

And in the hospital that first time,
after the countless pills, the ipecac,
the papers signed, the break
with my first shrink, once I had slept
my fill and felt like a child in some
giant’s grip, they handed me nearly
the same damned drugs. Again I flipped,
stopped sleeping, believed they would kill me
on Walpurgis Night, not one swift scalpel,
ritual sacrifice–not just the staff,
the other patients too…

We were so frail. No one
believed what we said.
And we learned to get out
by saying: We won’t try it
again. Grateful to be alive,
we will pay our dues. Just
show us the way out of Hell,
dear Doctors, release us. Please.

From: Lesser, Rika, All We Need of Hell: Poems, 1995, University of North Texas Press: Denton, Texas, p. 5.

Date: 1995

By: Rika Lesser (1953- )

Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Untitled by Vasiliki (Kiki) Radou Dimoula

It rains with absolute candor.
So the sky is not a rumor
it does exist
and therefore earth is not
the sole solution
as each lazy dead person pretends.


Date: 2007 (original); 2012 (translation)

By: Vasiliki (Kiki) Radou Dimoula (1931- )

Translated by: Cecile Inglessis Margellos (1953- ) and Rika Lesser (1953- )

Tuesday, 24 May 2016

My Mother Would Be a Falconress by Robert Duncan

My mother would be a falconress,
And I, her gay falcon treading her wrist,
would fly to bring back
from the blue of the sky to her, bleeding, a prize,
where I dream in my little hood with many bells
jangling when I’d turn my head.

My mother would be a falconress,
and she sends me as far as her will goes.
She lets me ride to the end of her curb
where I fall back in anguish.
I dread that she will cast me away,
for I fall, I mis-take, I fail in her mission.

She would bring down the little birds.
And I would bring down the little birds.
When will she let me bring down the little birds,
pierced from their flight with their necks broken,
their heads like flowers limp from the stem?

I tread my mother’s wrist and would draw blood.
Behind the little hood my eyes are hooded.
I have gone back into my hooded silence,
talking to myself and dropping off to sleep.

For she has muffled my dreams in the hood she has made me,
sewn round with bells, jangling when I move.
She rides with her little falcon upon her wrist.
She uses a barb that brings me to cower.
She sends me abroad to try my wings
and I come back to her. I would bring down
the little birds to her
I may not tear into, I must bring back perfectly.

I tear at her wrist with my beak to draw blood,
and her eye holds me, anguisht, terrifying.
She draws a limit to my flight.
Never beyond my sight, she says.
She trains me to fetch and to limit myself in fetching.
She rewards me with meat for my dinner.
But I must never eat what she sends me to bring her.

Yet it would have been beautiful, if she would have carried me,
always, in a little hood with the bells ringing,
at her wrist, and her riding
to the great falcon hunt, and me
flying up to the curb of my heart from her heart
to bring down the skylark from the blue to her feet,
straining, and then released for the flight.

My mother would be a falconress,
and I her gerfalcon raised at her will,
from her wrist sent flying, as if I were her own
pride, as if her pride
knew no limits, as if her mind
sought in me flight beyond the horizon.

Ah, but high, high in the air I flew.
And far, far beyond the curb of her will,
were the blue hills where the falcons nest.
And then I saw west to the dying sun–
it seemd my human soul went down in flames.

I tore at her wrist, at the hold she had for me,
until the blood ran hot and I heard her cry out,
far, far beyond the curb of her will

to horizons of stars beyond the ringing hills of the world where
the falcons nest
I saw, and I tore at her wrist with my savage beak.
I flew, as if sight flew from the anguish in her eye beyond her sight,
sent from my striking loose, from the cruel strike at her wrist,
striking out from the blood to be free of her.

My mother would be a falconress,
and even now, years after this,
when the wounds I left her had surely heald,
and the woman is dead,
her fierce eyes closed, and if her heart
were broken, it is stilld

I would be a falcon and go free.
I tread her wrist and wear the hood,
talking to myself, and would draw blood.


Date: 1968

By: Robert Duncan (1919-1988)

Monday, 23 May 2016

The Tramp’s Soliloquy by Albery Allson Whitman

Had I an envied name and purse of gold,
My friends were more than all my wants twice told;
Reduced to rags and born of title small,
Vast tho’ my wants I have no friends at all.
Anxiety consumes away my years
And failure melts my manhood down in tears.
My down-cast eyes some guilt seem to disclose
And I’m shut in a lazar house of woes.
I am not what I was, my drooping form
Partakes of what is loathsome in the worm.
Pittied but not respected I may be,
I shun myself, and e’en the dogs shun me.
The rich to chide the poor may adulate
The few torn pleasures of a scanty state;
But cold experience tells her story plain,
Want breeds with bitterness and brings forth pain.

From: Whitman, Albery Allson, Not A Man, and Yet A Man, 1999, University of Michigan Humanities Text Initiative: Ann Arbor, Michigan, p. 254.

Date: 1877

By: Albery Allson Whitman (1851-1901)

Sunday, 22 May 2016

On the Invention of Letters by Joseph Stennett

Tell me what Genius did the art invent,
The lively image of the voice to paint;
Who first the secret how to colour sound,
And to give shape to reason, wisely found;
With bodies how to cloath ideas, taught;
And how to draw the picture of a thought:
Who taught the hand to speak, the eye to hear
A silent language roving far and near;
Whose softest noise outstrips loud thunder’s sound,
And spreads her accents thro’ the world’s vast round:
A voice heard by the deaf, spoke by the dumb,
Whose echo reaches long, long time to come;
Which dead men speak as well as those alive —
Tell me what Genius did this art contrive.


Date: 1725 (published)

By: Joseph Stennett (1663-1713)

Alternative Title: On the Invention of Writing; Ænigma on Writing