Archive for September, 2016

Friday, 30 September 2016

To Mrs. Bindon at Bath by Charles Hanbury Williams

Apollo of old on Britannia did smile,
And Delphi forsook for the sake of this isle,
Around him he lavishly scatter’d his lays,
And in every wilderness planted his bays;
Then Chaucer and Spenser harmonious were heard,
Then Shakespear, and Milton, and Waller appear’d,
And Dryden, whose brows by Apollo were crown’d,
As he sung in such strains as the God might have own’d:
But now, since the laurel is given of late
To Cibber, to Eusden, to Shadwell and Tate,
Apollo hath quitted the isle he once lov’d,
And his harp and his bays to Hibernia remov’d;
He vows and he swears he’ll inspire us no more,
And has put out Pope’s fires which he kindled before;
And further he says, men no longer shall boast
A science their slight and ill treatment hath lost;
But that women alone for the future shall write;
And who can resist, when they doubly delight?
And lest we shou’d doubt what he said to be true,
Has begun by inspiring Sapphira and You.


Date: c1740

By: Charles Hanbury Williams (1708-1759)

Thursday, 29 September 2016

Lines 1-50 of “A Recantation of an Ill Led Life” by John Clavell

Stand and deliver to your observation,
Right serious thoughts, that you by my relation
May benefit, for otherwise in vaine
I write, you reade, unlesse from hence you gaine
The happinesse I meane you; blest is he
That will make use of others jeopardie.
Be warn’d by me, so may you purchace hence
At a cheape rate my deare experience.
You must not looke from me to have the straine
Of your Black-friers Poets, or the vaine.
Of those high flying men, whose rare Muse brings
Forth births, that Gossipt are by Lords and Kings.
For though I oft have seene Gadd’s-hill, and those
Red tops of Mountaines, where good people lose,
Their ill kept purses, I did never climbe
Pernassus Hill, or could adventure time,
To tread the Muses Mazes, or their floore
Because I knew that they are lightly poore,
And Shooters Hill was fitter farre for me,
Where pas’d releifes for my owne povertie.
I never rode on Pegasus (for then
I had fled farther then pursuite of men)
If therefore you expect a loftie straine,
You wrong your selves, and me, your thoughts are vaine.
Perchance my Verse may amble, trot, or flie
As if my frights presented Hue and Crie
To dogge me still, nor (Poetlike) I faigne
My theame is Truth, my selfe the subject plaine.
I cannot play the Satire; my disguise
Fairely pluck’t off, I am nor grim, nor wise,
Nor curst enough to scourge, no Beadle I
To punish you with petilasherie:
I meane to paint my selfe, and not to be
The Chronicler of others infamie.
I will not ayme at Motes within your eyes,
For I confesse in mine a beame their lies;
Which I plucke out, and deale as punctually
As if I spake against mine enemie.
Let this invite you then, these newest ways
Of selfe invective writing. Now adayes
Each one commends himselfe, and others blame
Of faults, when he is guiltie of the same,
Yea and of worser too, and seeming wise
As folly will the daintest Wits despise.
Such has beene my conceite, for I was prone
To blame each action, which was not mine owne,
Believing what I did was good, maintaining
That my ungodly and worst way of gaining
Was more legitimate, and farre more fit
Then borrowing, and thus I argu’d it.

From: Clavell, John, A recantation of an ill led life, or, A discouerie of the high-way law with vehement disswasions to all (in that kind) offenders : as also many cautelous admonitions and full instructions, how to know, shun, and apprehend a theefe : most necessarie for all honest trauellers to per’use, obserue and practise, 2004, Text Creation Partnership: Ann Arbor, Michigan & Oxford, pp. 1-3.

Date: 1628

By: John Clavell (1601-1643)

Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Excerpt from “The Castell of Pleasure” by William Neville with rough rendering into almost modern English by flusteredduck

Phebus set on pryde and hault in corage
Spake these wordes of grete audacyte
Cupyde thou boy of yonge and tender aege
How mayst thou be so bolde to compare with me
These arowes becomes me as thou mayst clerely se
Wherwith I maye wounde bothe man and beste
And for that at all creatures be subgect to the
So moche is thy power lesse than myn at eche feste
Well well sayd cupyde it lyketh you to geste
This sayd he assended to the mount pernassus
On the hyght his armes shortly abrode he keste
And sayd I trust I shall this in haste dyscusse.

For a profe he toke forth of his arowy quyver
A golden darte with love ryght penytrable
Made sharpe at the poynt that it myght enter
With it he stroke phebus with a stroke ryght lamentable
It to resyste he was weyke and unable
The stroke of his power who can or may resyste
But he must obey and to love be agreeable
Cōstreyned by cupyde whiche may stryke whome he lyst
Another darte he toke soone in his fyste
Contrary to thoder ledyn blont and hevy
With this he stroke Phebus love or she wyste
So that the more he desyred the more she dyd deny

Her name was Daphnys whiche devoyde of love
By dame saunce mercy whiche made hym to complayne
Cupyde in sondry wyse his power dyde prove
On thone with love on thoder with dysdayne
Thone dyd fle thoder wolde optayne
Thone was gladde thoder was in wo
Thone was pencyfe and oppressed with payne
Thoder in joye cared not thoughe it were so
By fere and dysdayne she dyd hym overgo
Lyke to an hare she ranne in haste
He folowed lyke a grehounde desyre wrought hym wo
But all was in vayne his labour was but waste.

Excerpt from The Castle of Pleasure by William Neville

Phebus set on pride and arrogant in courage
Spake these words of great audacity
Cupid thou boy of young and tender age
How mayst thou be so bold to compare with me
These arrows becomes me as thou mayst clearly see
Wherewith I may wound both man and beast
And for that at all creatures be subject to thee
So much is thy power less than mine at each feast
Well well said Cupid it liketh you to jest
This said he ascended to the Mount Parnassus
On the height his arms shortly abroad he cast
And said I trust I shall this in haste discuss.

For a proof he took forth of his arrow quiver
A golden dart with love right penetrable
Made sharp at the point that it might enter
With it he struck Phebus with a stroke right lamentable
It to resist he was weak and unable
The stroke of his power who can or may resist
But he must obey and to love be agreeable
Constrained by Cupid which may strike whom he list
Another dart he took soon in his fist
Contrary to the other force blunt and heavy
With this he struck Phebus love or she knew
So that the more he desired the more she did deny.

Her name was Daphnys which devoid of love
By dame without mercy which made him to complain
Cupid in sundry wise his power did prove
On the one with love on the other with disdain
The one did flee the other would obtain
The one was glad the other was in woe
The one was pensive and oppressed with pain
The other in joy cared not though it were so
By fear and disdain she did him overgo
Like to a hare she ran in haste
He followed like a greyhound desire wrought him woe
But all was in vain his labour was but waste.

From: Neville, William, The castell of pleasure The conueyaunce of a dreme how Desyre went to the castell of pleasure, wherin was the gardyn of affeccyon inhabyted by Beaute to whome he amerously expressed his loue vpon ye whiche supplycacyon rose grete stryfe dysputacyon, and argument betwene Pyte and Dysdayne, 2005, Text Creation Partnership: Ann Arbor, Michigan & Oxford, pp. [unnumbered].

Date: ?1530

By: William Neville (1497-c1545)

Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Quietus by Ranjit Hoskote

Silence is clean, a frigate leaving a harbour
with no siren wailing.

Silence is a tureen that needs no scouring
for the last stains of grammar.

Silence is fire,
a threat with no reprieve.

Silence is a panther
that stalks us through jade eyes.


Date: 2003

By: Ranjit Hoskote (1969- )

Monday, 26 September 2016

Vākh 124 by Lal Ded (Lalleshwari)

Some, who have closed their eyes, are wide awake.
Some, who look out at the world, are fast asleep.
Some who bathe in sacred pools remain dirty.
Some are at home in the world but keep their hands clean.


Date: c1350 (original in Kashmiri); 2013 (translation in English)

By: Lal Ded (Lalleshwari) (1320-1392)

Translated by: Ranjit Hoskote (1969- )

Sunday, 25 September 2016

Banks of a Canal by Seamus Justin Heaney

(Banks of a Canal, near Naples, painting by Gustave Caillebotte, c1872)

Say ‘canal’ and there’s that final vowel
Towing silence with it, slowing time
To a walking pace, a path, a whitewashed gleam
Of dwellings at the skyline. World stands still.
The stunted concrete mocks the classical.
Water says, ‘My place here is in dream,
In quiet good standing. Like a sleeping stream,
Come rain or sullen shine I’m peaceable.’
Stretched to the horizon, placid ploughland,
The sky not truly bright or overcast:
I know that clay, the damp and dirt of it,
The coolth along the bank, the grassy zest
Of verges, the path not narrow but still straight
Where soul could mind itself or stray beyond.


Date: 2013

By: Seamus Justin Heaney (1939-2013)

Saturday, 24 September 2016

Deor’s Lament by Deor

Weland the blade-winder      suffered woe,
That steadfast man      knew misery.
Sorrow and longing      walked beside him,
wintered in him,      kept wearing him down
after Nithad      hampered and restrained him,
lithe sinew-bonds      on the better man.
That passed over,       this can too.

For Beadohilde      her brother’s death
weighed less heavily      than her own heartsoreness
once it was clearly      understood
she was bearing a child.      Her ability
to think and decide      deserted her then.
That passed over,      this can too.

We have heard tell      of Mathilde’s laments,
the grief that afflicted      Geat’s wife.
Her love was her bane,      it banished sleep.
That passed over,      this can too.

For thirty winters—      it was common knowledge—
Theodric held      the Maerings’ fort.
That passed over,      this can too.

Earmonric      had the mind of a wolf,
by all accounts      a cruel king,
lord of the far flung      Gothic outlands.
Everywhere men sat      shackled in sorrow,
expecting the worst,      wishing often
he and his kingdom      would be conquered.
That passed over,      this can too.

A man sits mournful,      his mind in darkness,
so daunted in spirit      he deems himself
ever after      fated to endure.
He may think then      how throughout this world
the Lord in his wisdom      often works change—
meting out honor,      ongoing fame
to many, to others      only their distress.
Of myself, this much      I have to say:
for a time I was poet      of the Heoden people,
dear to my lord.      Deor was my name.
For years I enjoyed      my duties as minstrel
and that lord’s favor,      but now the freehold
and land titles      he bestowed upon me once
he has vested in Heorrenda,      master of verse-craft.
That passed over,      this can too.


Date: ?10th century (original in Anglo-Saxon); 2011 (translation in English)

By: Deor (?10th century)

Translated by: Seamus Justin Heaney (1939-2013)

Friday, 23 September 2016

If I Was by Mark Waldron

If I was,

I don’t know, walking down, say, a street
and I happened to come across

a group of, I don’t know, firemen
who were fighting, say, a fire,

then I might imagine, might I not,
their fire hose to be a long and beige salami.

And then I might imagine, might I not,
that I could take a slice of that salami,

that I could peel it of its ring of canvas skin
and then I’d have a lens,

the freshest monocle through which,
if I held it to my open eye, I’d probably see

a group of firemen with a cut hose
shouting angrily.


Date: 2009

By: Mark Waldron (1960 – )

Thursday, 22 September 2016

Cokkils by Sydney Goodsir Smith

Doun through the sea
A rain o’ cokkils, shells
Rains doun
Frae the ceaseless on-ding
O’ the reefs abune

Slawlie through millennia
Biggan on the ocean bed
Their ain subaqueous Himalaya
Wi a fine white rain o’ shells
Faa’an continuallie
Wi nae devall.

Sae, in my heid as birdsang
Faas throu simmer treen
Is the thocht o’ my luve
Like the continual rain
O’ cokkils throu the middle seas
Wi nae devall –
The thocht o’ my true-luve


Date: 1953

By: Sydney Goodsir Smith (1915-1975)

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Processional by Alice Archer Sewall James

My love leads the white bulls to sacrifice.
He is white, and he leans against their folded necks.
Blue is the sky behind them, and the dust from the highway yellows his ivory limbs.
He leans and moves, restraining, yet drawn on by tossing heads.
He feels the festal music; rapid and strong are his arms and breast;
Yet from his waist beneath, loose and slow is his resting pace,
Flowers are in his hair, and he is fair.
He thinks he is but strong; he can overcome,
And his mind sees only the impatient horns;
But my heart sees his slimness, and would care for him like a mother.
My love leads the white bulls to sacrifice.


Date: 1899

By: Alice Archer Sewall James (1870-1955)