Archive for May, 2016

Saturday, 21 May 2016

Invitation to Dalliance by John Mennes

Be not thou so foolish nice,
As to be intreated twice;
What should Women more incite,
Then their own sweet appetite?

Shall savage things more freedom have
Than nature unto Women gave?
The Swan, the Turtle, and the Sparrow
Bill a while, then take the marrow.
They Bill, they Kisse, what else they doe
Come Bill, and Kisse, and I’le shew you.

From: Mennes, John, Musarum deliciæ: or, The Muses recreation. Conteining severall select pieces of sportive wit, 2008, Text Creation Partnership: Ann Arbor, Michigan and Oxford, p. 58.

Date: 1655

By: John Mennes (1599-1671)

Friday, 20 May 2016

To You That Lyfe Possess Grete Troubles Do Befall by Emma Foxe

To you that lyfe possess grete troubles do befall,
When we that slepe by Dethe do feel no harm at all.
An honeste lyfe dothe bringe a joyfull deathe at last,
And lyfe agayne begins when dethe is once past.
My lovinge ffoxe ffarewell, God guyde thee with his grace,
Prepare thyselfe to come and I will geve the place.
My children all adewe, and be ryghte sure of this,
You shal be brought to Duste as emma ffoxe your Mother is.

From: Stevenson, Jane and Davidson, Peter (eds.), Early Modern Women Poets (1520-1700): An Anthology, 2001, Oxford University Press: Oxford, p. 25.

Date: 1570

By: Emma Foxe (????-1570)

Thursday, 19 May 2016

Pearl: Section I by Pearl Poet/Gawain Poet

Pearl, to delight a prince’s day,
Flawlessly set in gold so fair
In all the East, I dare to say,
I have not found one to compare.
So round, so radiant in array,
So small, so smooth her contours were,
Wherever I judged jewels gay
I set her worth as truly rare.
I lost her in a garden where
Through grass she fell to earthen plot;
Wounded by love beyond repair
I mourn that pearl without a spot.

Since from that spot it fled that day
I waited oft, in hope to see
What once could drive my gloom away
And charge my very soul with glee;
But heavy on my heart it lay
And filled my breast with misery.
Yet no song ever seemed so gay
As that quiet hour let steal to me
Though in my heart one thought ran free,
Her fresh face wrapped in earthly clot;
Earth, you have marred her purity,
My secret pearl without a spot.

That spot of spices needs must spread
Where such rich bounty doth decay,
With yellow flowers and blue and red
That shine so bright in sun’s clear ray.
Flower and fruit can ne’er be dead
Where that pearl slipped into the clay,
For grass will grow from seed once shed
Or grain could not be stored away,
And good will always good repay.
This comely seed shall perish not,
And spices will their fruit display
From that dear pearl without a spot.

From that spot I in speech expound
I entered in that garden green,
As August’s season came around
When corn is cut with sickles keen,
There that pearl rolled into the ground,
Shadowed with plants both bright and clean,
Wallflower, ginger, gromwell abound
Bright paeonies scattered in between;
Though they were seemly to be seen
No less in their scent my sense caught;
And there that jewel long has been,
My precious pearl without a spot.

Before that spot I clasped my hand,
In chilling care my heart was caught;
A bitter grief my soul unmanned
Though reason wiser comfort sought.
I mourned my pearl from freedom banned
With arguments that fiercely fought;
Though Christ’s grace bade me understand
My wretched will fresh sorrow brought.
On flowery sward I fell, distraught;
Such fragrance to my senses shot
In deepest sleep I dreamt, methought,
On that dear pearl without a spot.


Date: 14th century (original); 1995 (translation)

By: Pearl Poet/Gawain Poet (14th century)

Translated by: William Graham Stanton (1917-1999)

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Song of Kai-hsia by Xiang Yu

Strength I had to uproot hills,
my spirit dominated the age;
Now in this hour of misfortune,
my dappled steed cannot flee.
Dappled steed, unable to break away,
what hope is left?
Ah, Lady Yü, my Yü!
what will become of you?

From: Wu-chi Liu and Irving Yucheng Lo (eds.), Sunflower Splendor: Three Thousand Years of Chinese Poetry, 1975, Indiana University Press: Bloomington and Indianopolis, p. 29.

Date: 202 BC (original); 1975 (translation)

By: Xiang Yu (232-202 BC)

Translated by: Ronald C. Miao (19??-????)

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

Troll by Shane Koyczan

Once upon a time,
You and all your kind lived underneath bridges,
Had ridges for ribs that dropped off into empty chests as if your hearts were all stolen treasures,
As if an excavation crew were hired to dig up and remove the part of you that let you feel.
And while the world above you invented the wheel, you stayed put,
Knowing it would one day need to roll over top of you to get to where it’s going.
You had an endlessly flowing supply line of food.
You began to brood over humanity and made meals of our hope,
As if crushing our spirits would make your mirrors cast better reflections than the ones they gave,
As if the only way you could save yourselves was to make the world ugly so no one would notice you hiding in it.
You learned to knit pain into a kind of camouflage,
Treated hope like a mirage that you could use to lure in your next meal.
You lived off of our fears, as if you could taste what we feel.
And every night, as the moon read bedtime stories to sunlight.
You took darkness as an invite to head out into the world,
You curled your hands into wrecking balls, your breath became squalls, you made rocks rumble, you made land shiver
You made boys and girls pray that someone would deliver them from you
We told them you aren’t real.
Then one day, the world changed, but you all stayed the same.
Just migrated from living underneath bridges to living underneath Information super-highways.
Days and nights became meaningless, each already deepened chest became an abyss that no one would ever find the bottom of.
Concepts like love fell into your gravity,
We turned ourselves into life preservers, hoping to save as many as we could,
But the fathers who stood guarding closet doors and the mothers who secured the floors underneath beds,
All shook their heads not knowing how to deal with you.
You, who crept into our lives with tongues like knives stabbing your words into our skin.
You began to begin uploading yourselves into our homes you had computer screens for eyes, and software for bones.
You turned your hate into stones and hurled them at beauty,
As if you couldn’t bear to see anything other than ugly, anything different.
You had fingernails like flint, and scraped them along decency hoping we would be the ones to all catch fire.
You all had smiles like one-way barbed wire not meant to keep us out,
Meant to keep us in
Voice like a firing pin, you spoke in explosions
It isn’t cute. It isn’t funny.
You’ve talked strangers into death, and laughed.
And as each family learns to graft skin over the wounds you gave them, you hem yourselves into the scar.
You have coaxed the sober back into bars,
Handed out cigars at memorials,
Offered nooses, cliffs, and pills to those who unfortunately found
You before they found help.
You have praised suffering,
Waltzed in between tragedies,
Gracefully dipping misery as if we would somehow be impressed with the dexterity of your animosity.
You have cheered on rape, dashed through police tape as if it were the finish line in a race of who can be awful first.
Even now, you somehow see this as an invitation to turn your keyboards into catapults,
Wondering which of you can be the first to hate this best.
Your loathing, already dressed in riot gear,
Ready to incite rage,
As if each message board is a stage,
Where you recite hostility,
Turning freedom of speech into freedom of cruelty.
We are stuck with you, the same way you are stuck with you.
Your mind is glue, and it keeps malice fastened there like cheap wallpaper.
We were once upon a time told that none of you exist,
We dismissed you as make believe or myth.
Now armed only with resolve, we can no longer afford to tell ourselves that you aren’t real.
We will not let you make your dinners out of the things we feel.


Date: 2014

By: Shane Koyczan (1976- )

Monday, 16 May 2016

The New World, Requesting Nothing but Peace by Steven Orlen

The sky extracts color like blood into needles.
Our pristine organists have landed again
in movable towers, set on the backs of donkeys
in the grand, ascetic tradition:

if only to break the silence
or create new ones burned with our names,
only to say we have lived here,
to be counted among the missing.

This is the long-awaited continent,
maps without faces, cities without saints,
no encores, no deaths
to plant, no momentos
hung on the walls like crosses.

You cannot imagine the emptiness,
the sabbath of fantasy.

Antarctica, lunar love, future
whatever is offered
we will gladly fall over your edge,
bathe our bodies in salt.

No, we will lie here until we can safely dream,
discover what
kind of life you really lead.


Date: 1969

By: Steven Orlen (1942-2010)

Sunday, 15 May 2016

A Double Standard by Frances Ellen Watkins Harper

Do you blame me that I loved him?
If when standing all alone
I cried for bread a careless world
Pressed to my lips a stone.

Do you blame me that I loved him,
That my heart beat glad and free,
When he told me in the sweetest tones
He loved but only me?

Can you blame me that I did not see
Beneath his burning kiss
The serpent’s wiles, nor even hear
The deadly adder hiss?

Can you blame me that my heart grew cold
That the tempted, tempter turned;
When he was feted and caressed
And I was coldly spurned?

Would you blame him, when you draw from me
Your dainty robes aside,
If he with gilded baits should claim
Your fairest as his bride?

Would you blame the world if it should press
On him a civic crown;
And see me struggling in the depth
Then harshly press me down?

Crime has no sex and yet to-day
I wear the brand of shame;
Whilst he amid the gay and proud
Still bears an honored name.

Can you blame me if I’ve learned to think
Your hate of vice a sham,
When you so coldly crushed me down
And then excused the man?

Would you blame me if to-morrow
The coroner should say,
A wretched girl, outcast, forlorn,
Has thrown her life away?

Yes, blame me for my downward course,
But oh! remember well,
Within your homes you press the hand
That led me down to hell.

I’m glad God’s ways are not our ways,
He does not see as man;
Within His love I know there’s room
For those whom others ban.

I think before His great white throne,
His throne of spotless light,
That whited sepulchres shall wear
The hue-of endless night.

That I who fell, and he who sinned,
Shall reap as we have sown;
That each the burden of his loss
Must bear and bear alone.

No golden weights can turn the scale
Of justice in His sight;
And what is wrong in woman’s life
In man’s cannot be right.

From: Harper, Frances E. W., Atlanta Offering: Poems, 1995, University of Michigan Humanities Text Initiative: Ann Arbor, Michigan, pp. 12-14.

Date: 1895

By: Frances Ellen Watkins Harper (1824-1911)

Saturday, 14 May 2016

Excerpts from “Angharad James’s lament for the loss of her son Dafydd Wiliam, 1729” by Angharad James Prichard

There was a garden of green trees,
mild and dear and full of small plants,
very pleasant, full this year,
a day [or time] I have known, that belonged to me.
Cut from my garden was the most beautiful
solid shoot

(a tender one and fair),
Growing (strong and handsome,
comely and fine), likely
shortly to grow big and splendid
He was the Lilly of my garden, and he was handsome,
my principal comfort, should I have had him;
cornerstone, he was the best scholar,
high in esteem, he was the very pinnacle;
he was the head of my fair vineyard/orchard,
[he was] honest and the head of my household.
He was the main shoot/scion of my house,
He was the pinnacle of Penamnen.

Remembering Dafydd (beloved shrub),
I can remember his father about the place
and I must live without either one of them
(weak state), I desire [a place] for them both in heaven,
until the hour that I am brought
(genial ones), to them.

My hope is great and everlasting,
that I shall be allowed there after him
to my very own dear heaven,
God may [allow it], to join them both:
there we will have our blessing every day,
a second life of happiness.


Date: 1729 (original); 2013 (translation)

By: Angharad James Prichard (1677-1749)

Translated by: ?

Friday, 13 May 2016

To Time by John Hagthorpe

Stay wrinckled Time, and slack thy winged haste,
Which from our Zenith doth so fast decline
In Westerne waves, Lethe thy selfe to taste.
Stay, and at length regard this plaint of mine:
Thy one daies course is many thousand yeares,
And I in vaine pursue thee all my time.

Whilest thy declining haste more swift appeares,
And thine owne weight precipitates thee to;
My feeble leggs their burthen hardly beares,
Whilest I pursue to catch thy harrie brow:
But thou like froward Age still writhest away,
And to my good endeavours wilt not bow.

Yet know, I come not now to beg delay
For any debt of mine, or borrowed summe;
Nor to reprive my life for some short day:
Old Time, it is for none of these I come,
But even to vent my griefes, that thou (to me
To pinching) art so prodigall to some.

The Usurer a hundred yeares can see,
To cram his chests with theft and poore mens spoile.
The Baude stored with all sorts of villanie,
And sinnes, that Hell and blacknesse selfe would soile;
Lives till her bodie be an Hospitall
Of strange Diseases, mischiefes perfect foile.

The P. and the P. that are most,
Fed by the peoples sinnes, and also feede:
Those mischiefes whereby many a man is lost,
Which be, old Time, thy worst disease indeed.
These doe not want: to doe amisse wants none;
But Time to him that would doe well’s denide.

Thou giv’st the greedie Worldling time to runne,
In quest of profit, to the frozen Climes;
Then to the burning Line, and thirsting Sunne;
To Ganges, the Mollucaes, Phillippines:
Tho (more then men) he Nature cozen will,
That heate and cold for bounds to him assignes.

Thou lend’st the Drunkard time his Cups to spill:
Th’art to the Sluggard too indulgent kind;
Thou giv’st the Murtherer time to kill;
The Thiefe and Lustfull man their prey to find;
But those that to imploy thee well are bent,
Too little, or just none have they assign’d.

Ten yeares the guiltie Lawes have from me puld;
My Wants and Cares as much; Sicknes the rest;
My best houres, but from Wants and Cares are culd.
Oh Time! must he have least that spends thee best?
Oh Time! give me a Time my selfe t’applie
To Vertue and to Knowledge, or to die,

From: Hagthorpe, John, Divine Meditations, and Elegies, 2005, Text Creation Partnership: Ann Arbor, Michigan and Oxford, pp. 100-101.

Date: 1622

By: John Hagthorpe (c1585-?1630)

Thursday, 12 May 2016

Pastime with Good Company by Henry VIII

Pastime with good company
I love and shall unto I die;
Grudge who list, but none deny,
So God be pleased thus live will I.
For my pastance
Hunt, song, and dance.
My heart is set:
All goodly sport
For my comfort,
Who shall me let?

Youth must have some dalliance,
Of good or illé some pastance;
Company methinks then best
All thoughts and fancies to dejest:
For idleness
Is chief mistress
Of vices all.
Then who can say
But mirth and play
Is best of all?

Company with honesty
Is virtue vices to flee:
Company is good and ill
But every man hath his free will.
The best ensue,
The worst eschew,
My mind shall be:
Virtue to use,
Vice to refuse,
Shall I use me.


Date: c1518

By: Henry VIII (1491-1547)

Alternative Title: The King’s Ballad