Archive for July, 2016

Sunday, 31 July 2016

The Hare and Tortoise, 1757. A Fable by Robert Lloyd

Genius, blest term, of meaning wide,
For sure no term so misapply’d,
How many bear thy sacred name,
That never felt a real flame!
Proud of the specious appellation,
Thus fools have christen’d inclination.

But yet suppose a genius true,
Exempli gratiâ, me or you:
Whate’er he tries with due attention,
Rarely escapes his apprehension;
Surmounting ev’ry opposition,
You’d swear he learnt by intuition.
Shou’d he rely alone on parts,
And study therefore but by starts?
Sure of success whene’er he tries,
Should he forego the means to rise?

Suppose your watch a Graham make,
Gold, if you will, for value sake;
Its springs within in order due,
No watch, when going, goes so true;
If ne’er wound up with proper care,
What service is it in the wear?

Some genial spark of Phoebus’ rays,
Perhaps within your bosom plays:
O how the purer rays aspire,
If Application fans the fire!
Without it Genius vainly tries,
Howe’er sometimes it seems to rise:
Nay Application will prevail,
When braggart parts and Genius fail:
And now to lay my proof before ye,
I here present you with a story.

In days of yore, when time was young,
When birds convers’d as well as sung,
When use of speech was not confin’d,
Merely to brutes of human kind,
A forward Hare, of swiftness vain,
The Genius of the neighb’ring plain,
Wou’d oft deride the drudging croud:
For Geniuses are ever proud.
He’d boast, his flight ’twere vain to follow,
For dog and horse he’d beat them hollow,
Nay, if he put forth all his strength,
Outstrip his brethren half a length.

A Tortoise heard his vain oration,
And vented thus his indignation.
Oh Puss, it bodes thee dire disgrace,
When I defy thee to the race.
Come, ’tis a match, nay, no denial,
I lay my shell upon the trial.

‘Twas done and done, all fair, a bet,
Judges prepar’d, and distance set.

The scamp’ring Hare outstript the wind,
The creeping Tortoise lagg’d behind.
And scarce had pass’d a single pole,
When Puss had almost reach’d the goal.
Friend Tortoise, quoth the jeering Hare,
Your burthen’s more than you can bear,
To help your speed, it were as well
That I should ease you of your shell:
Jog on a little faster pr’ythee,
I’ll take a nap, and then be with thee.
So said, so done, and safely sure,
For say, what conquest more secure?
Whene’er he wak’d (that’s all that’s in it)
He could o’ertake him in a minute.

The Tortoise heard his taunting jeer,
But still resolv’d to persevere,
Still drawl’d along, as who should say,
I’ll win, like Fabius, by delay;
On to the goal securely crept,
While Puss unknowing soundly slept.

The bets were won, the Hare awake,
When thus the victor Tortoise spake.
Puss, tho’ I own thy quicker parts,
Things are not always done by starts.
You may deride my awkward pace,
But slow and steady wins the race.

From: Lloyd, Robert, Poems, 2009, University of Michigan Library: Ann Arbor, Michigan, pp. 34-38.

Date: 1762

By: Robert Lloyd (1733-1764)

Saturday, 30 July 2016

[Love in Their Little Veins Inspires] by Thomas Shadwell

Hark how the Songsters of the Grove
Sing Anthems to the God of Love.
Hark how each am’rous winged Pair
With Love’s Great Praises fill the Air.

On ev’ry Side the charming Sound
Does from the hollow Woods rebound.

Love in their little Veins inspires
Their chearful Notes, their soft Desires:
While Heat makes Buds or Blossoms spring,
Those pretty Couples love and sing.

Chorus with Flutes:
But Winter puts out their Desire,
And half the Year they want Love’s Fire.

Full Chorus:
But ah how much are our Delights more dear!
For only Human-kind love all the Year.

From: Shadwell, Thomas, The History of Timon of Athens, the Man-Hater, 1736, Printed for W. Feales: London, p. 27.

Date: 1678

By: Thomas Shadwell (c1642-1692)

Friday, 29 July 2016

Excerpt from “The Interlude of the Four Elements” by John Rastell

For though the forme and facyon of any thyng
That is a corporall body be distroyed,
Yet every matter remaynyth in his beynge,
Wherof it was furst made and formyd;
For corrupcyon of a body commyxyd
Ys but the resolucyon by tyme and space
Of every element to his owne place;
For who that wyll take any body corporall,
And do what he can it to distroy,
To breke it or grynde it into ponder small,
To washe, to drown, to bren it, or to dry,
Yet the ayre and fyre therof naturally
To their owne proper places wyll ascende,
The water to the water, the yerth to the yerth tende;
For yf hate or moysture of any thynge certayne
By fyre or be water be consumyd,
Yet yerth or ashes on yerth wyll remayne,
So the elementis can never be distroyed.
For essencyally ther is now at this tyde
As muche fyre, ayre, water, yerth, as was
Ever before this tyme, nether more nor las.

From: Rastell, John and Halliwell-Phillipps, James Orchard (ed.), The Interlude of the Four Elements: An Early Moral Play, 1848, The Percy Society: London, p. 9.

Date: c1519

By: John Rastell (c1475-1536)

Thursday, 28 July 2016

Sonnet XXX by Guido Cavalcanti

I fear me lest unfortune’s counter thrust
Pierce through my throat and rip out my despair.
I feel my heart and that thought shaking there
Which shakes the aspen mind with his distrust,
Seeming to say, “Love doth not give thee ease
So that thou canst, as of a little thing,
Speak to thy Lady with full verities,
For fear Death set thee in his reckoning.
By the chagrin that here assails my soul
My heart’s parturèd of a sigh so great
It cryeth to the spirits: “Get ye gone!”
And of all piteous folk I come on none
Who seeing me so in my grief’s control
Will aid by saying e’en: “Nay, Spirits, wait!”


Date: c1280 (original in Italian); 1912 (translation in English)

By: Guido Cavalcanti (c1255-1300)

Translated by: Ezra Pound (1885-1972)

Wednesday, 27 July 2016

The Skeleton’s Defense of Carnality by Jack Foley

Truly I have lost weight, I have
lost weight,
grown lean in love’s defense,
in love’s defense grown grave.
It was concupiscence
that brought me to the state:
all bone and a bit of skin
to keep the bone within.

Flesh is no heavy burden
for one possessed of little
and accustomed to its loss.
I lean to love, which leaves me lean
till lean turn into lack.

A wanton bone, I sing my song
and travel where the bone is blown
and extricate true love from lust
as any man of wisdom must.

Then wherefore should I rage
against this pilgrimage
from gravel unto gravel?
Circuitous I travel
from love to lack
and lack to lack,
from lean to lack
and back.


Date: 2003

By: Jack Foley (1940- )

Tuesday, 26 July 2016

Absent Creation by Derek Stanley Savage

I wait for wonder, or the weather’s turn
To teach my tongue to wind its tangled skein
Of loss or love, lilt out its awkward words,
Or learn a rhythm from the weaving rain.

I await that ease and excellence of mind
That intimates suave movement to the hand,
Letting the typewriter shuttle off its lines
To a slow march, or stately saraband.

But time and tide-turn, running past the ear,
Seethe with distraction on a wasting sound,
The hour-sands plunge, my fingers plough through care,
I hear an endless clock thud underground.

Upon this desert coast, this sea examinate,
Lord, burst a cyclone, or a soothing rain,
Detonate dams, flood cities, souse or intoxicate,
That I may live, and feel, and speak again!

From: Rexroth, Kenneth (ed.), The New British Poets: An Anthology, 1947, New Directions: London, p. 212.

Date: 1947

By: Derek Stanley Savage (1917-2007)

Monday, 25 July 2016

Broken Branches by Jessie Mackay

As on the dark and northern pine
Down drop the feathery flakes of snow,
While the branches hold but feel them not,
Till the pile doth heavy and heavier grow;
And then—ah then the branches break!—
So do the hours, the days, the years
Fall with a soft and fairy touch
Till, mourned with unavailing tears,
The fairest branches are swept away
From the tree of life— the desolate tree!
Never to spread and blossom again
Till a spring the world shall never see.

From: Mackay, Jessie, The Sitter on the Rail: And Other Poems, 1891, Simpson and Williams: Christchurch, p. 73.

Date: 1891

By: Jessie Mackay (1864-1938)

Sunday, 24 July 2016

Verse Against the New Lights by Jacob Bailey

Behold the gifted teacher rise
And roll to heaven his half-shut eyes;
In every feature of his face
See stiffness sanctity and grace
Like whipping post erect he stands
Then with slow and gentle voice
Begins to make a languid noise
Strives with a thousand airs to move
To melt and thaw your hears to love
But when he fails by soft’ning arts
To mollify your frozen hearts
Observe him spring with eager jump
And on the table fiercely thump
With double fist he beats the air
Pours out his soul in wrathful prayer
Then seized with furious agitation
Screams forth a frightful exhortation
And with a sharp and hideous yell
Sends all your carnal folks to hell
Now to excite your fear and wonder
Tries the big jarring voice of thunder
Like wounded serpent in the vale
He writhes his body and his tail
Strives by each motion to express
The Agonies of deep distress
Then groans and scolds and roars aloud
Till dread and frenzy fire the crowd
The madness spreads with rapid power
Confusion reigns and wild uproar
A concert grand of joyful tones
Mingled with sighs and rueful moans
Some heaven extol with rapturous air
While others rave in black despair
A blended group of different voices
Confound and stun us with their noises
Thus in some far and lonely site
Amidst the deepest glooms of night
Where roll the slow and sullen floods
O’er hung with rocks and dusky woods
I’ve heard the wolves terrific howl
The doleful music of the owl
The frogs in hoarser murmurs croak
While from the top of some tall oak
With notes more piercing soft and shrill
Resounds the spritely whip-poor-will
These give the ears of wonderous greeting
Not much unlike a pious meeting
Here blue-eyed Jenny plays her part
Inured to every saint-like art
She works and heaves from head to heel
With pangs of puritanic zeal
Now in a fit of deep distress
The holy maid turns prophetess
And to her light and knowledge brings
A multitude of secret things
And as Enthusiasm advances
Falls into ecstasies and trances
Her self with decency resigns
To these impulses and inclines
On Jemmy Trim a favourite youth
A chosen vessel of the truth
Who as she sinks into his arms
Feels through his veins her powerful charms
Grown warm with throbs of strong devotion
He finds his blood in high commotion
And fired with love of this dear sister
Is now unable to resist her.

From: Rawlyk, G. A., Ravished by the Spirit: Religious Revivals, Baptists, and Henry Alline, 1988, McGill-Queen’s University Press: Kingston and Montreal, pp. 77-79.

Date: 1789

By: Jacob Bailey (1731-1808)

Saturday, 23 July 2016

[Self-Portrait] by Thomas Smith

Why Why should I the World be minding
therein a World of Evils Finding
Then Farewell World: Farewell thy Jarres
thy Joies thy Toies thy Wiles thy Warrs
Truth Sounds Retreat: I am not sorye.
The Eternal Drawes to him my heart
By Faith (which can thy Force Subvert)
To Crowne me (after Grace) with Glory.


Date: c1680

By: Thomas Smith (fl. c1680)

Friday, 22 July 2016

Sonnet [on James VI of Scotland, I of England] by Thomas Hudson

If Martiall deeds, and practise of the pen
Have wonne to auncient Grece a worthie fame:
If Battels bold, and Bookes of learned men
Have magnified the mightie Romain name:
Then place this Prince, who well deserves the fame:
Since he is one of Mars and Pallas race:
For both the Godds in him have sett in frame
Their vertewes both, which both, he doth embrace.
O Macedon, adornde with heavenly grace,
O Romain stout, decorde with learned skill,
The Monarks all to thee shall quite their place:
Thy endles fame shall all the world fulfill.
And after thee, none worthier shalbe seene,
To sway the Sword, and gaine the Laurell greene.

From: James VI of Scotland, 1 of England and Arber, Edward (ed.), The Essayes of a Prentise, in the Divine Art of Poesie. Edinburgh. 1585. A Counterblaste to Tobacco. London, 1604, 1869, English Reprints: Birminham, p. 9.

Date: 1585

By: Thomas Hudson (d. ?1605)