Archive for October, 2016

Friday, 21 October 2016

After All, White Doves by Geoffrey Edward Harvey Grigson (Martin Boldero)

They rose out of dead men,
out of their mouths,
gently, white doves,
to branches where they fidgeted
at first, a little,–
free, uncertainly.

It was something,
white doves for the souls of men,
instead of the roving idiots
of the morning, cuckoos,
or jackdaws cackling, or identical
factory chicken chelping, or worse,

White doves
even the souls of the worst.


Date: 1972

By: Geoffrey Edward Harvey Grigson (Martin Boldero) (1905-1985)

Thursday, 20 October 2016

Lines by Louisa Stuart Costello

If we should ever meet again
When many tedious years are past;
When time shall have unbound the chain,
And this sad heart is free at last;—
Then shall we meet and look unmov’d,
As though we ne’er had met—had lov’d!

And I shall mark without a tear
How cold and calm thy alter’d brow;
I shall forget thou once wert dear,
Rememb’ring but thy broken vow!
Rememb’ring that in trusting youth
I lov’d thee with the purest truth;
That now the fleeting dream is o’er,
And thou canst raise the spell no more!

From: Costello, Louisa Stuart, Songs of A Stranger, 1825, Taylor and Hessey: London, p. 7.

Date: 1825

By: Louisa Stuart Costello (1799-1870)

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Oh! Were I Sure That All the Lays by Guillaume Ademar

Oh! were I sure that all the lays
Which wake my idle strings
Would in her heart one moment raise
Kind thoughts of him who sings.
What ardour in my song would glow,
What magic in its numbers flow!

Yet what avails—though I despair
To gain one tender smile,
The world shall know that she is fair,
Although so cold the while.
Ungrateful though she be, too long,
To her I dedicate my song.
Better to suffer and complain,
Than thus another’s love obtain.

From: Costello, Louisa Stuart (ed. and trans.), Specimens of the Early Poetry of France: From the Time of the Troubadours and Trouveres to the Reign of Henri Quatre, 1835, William Pickering: London, p. 10.

Date: c1200 (original in Occitan); 1835 (translation in English)

By: Guillaume Ademar (1190/1195-1217)

Translated by: Louisa Stuart Costello (1799-1870)

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

The Hedge-Schoolmaster to His Love by Robin Ernest William Flower

O dearest of dear ones, O sweeter than sweetness!
Than the birds on the mountains more fleet in your fleetness,
With your hair on the wind like a stream of fine amber,
You came through the mist like the sun in September.

As I went at your side in the midst of your brightness,
Like a silver swayed birch was your lithe lissom lightness,
Your hand was in mine and our hearts beat together
And little we cared for the world and its weather.

Below in the town they were wrangling and brawling,
On the high hills of heaven the soft rain was falling,
The soft rain, the sweet rain, so silverly shining,
That it charmed us and lulled us till day was declining.

Then, hand clasped in hand, with a riot of laughter,
We ran to the town and the rain followed after,
Till he tired at the last of his splashing and streaming
And the lovely lit stars through our window came dreaming.

From: Flower, Robin, Eire, and Other Poems, 1910, Locke Ellis: London, p. 15.

Date: 1910

By: Robin Ernest William Flower (1881-1946)

Monday, 17 October 2016

The Scholar and His Cat, Pangur Bán by Anonymous

I and Pangur Bán my cat,
‘Tis a like task we are at:
Hunting mice is his delight,
Hunting words I sit all night.

Better far than praise of men
‘Tis to sit with book and pen;
Pangur bears me no ill-will,
He too plies his simple skill.

‘Tis a merry task to see
At our tasks how glad are we,
When at home we sit and find
Entertainment to our mind.

Oftentimes a mouse will stray
In the hero Pangur’s way;
Oftentimes my keen thought set
Takes a meaning in its net.

‘Gainst the wall he sets his eye
Full and fierce and sharp and sly;
‘Gainst the wall of knowledge I
All my little wisdom try.

When a mouse darts from its den,
O how glad is Pangur then!
O what gladness do I prove
When I solve the doubts I love!

So in peace our task we ply,
Pangur Bán, my cat, and I;
In our arts we find our bliss,
I have mine and he has his.

Practice every day has made
Pangur perfect in his trade;
I get wisdom day and night
Turning darkness into light.


Date: 9th century (original in Gaelic); 1934 (translation in English)

By: Anonymous

Translated by: Robin Ernest William Flower (1881-1946)

Sunday, 16 October 2016

The Song of Manchan the Hermit by Manchán mac Silláin

I wish, O Son of the Living God, O Ancient Eternal King,
For a hidden hut in the wilderness, a simple secluded thing.

The all-blithe lithe little lark in his place, chanting his lightsome lay;
The calm, clear pool of the Spirit’s grace, washing my sins away.

A wide, wild woodland on every side, its shades the nursery
Of glad-voiced songsters, who at day-dawn chant their sweet psalm for me.

A southern aspect to catch the sun, a brook across the floor,
A choice land, rich with gracious gifts, down-stretching from my door.

Few men and wise, these I would prize, men of content and power,
To raise Thy praise throughout the days at each canonical hour.

Four times three, three times four, fitted for every need,
To the King of the Sun praying each one, this were a grace, indeed.

Twelve in the church to chant the hours, kneeling there twain and twain;
And I before, near the chancel door, listening their low refrain.

A pleasant church with an Altar-cloth, where Christ sits at the board,
And a shining candle shedding its ray on the white words of the Lord.

Brief meals between, when prayer is done, our modest needs supply;
No greed in our share of the simple fare, no boasting or ribaldry.

This is the husbandry I choose, laborious, simple, free,
The fragrant leek about my door, the hen and the humble bee.

Rough raiment of tweed, enough for my need, this will my King allow;
And I to be sitting praying to God under every leafy bough.


Date: c645 (original in Gaelic); 1912 (translation in English)

By: Manchán mac Silláin (c600-664)

Translated by: Eleanor Henrietta Hull (1860-1935)

Saturday, 15 October 2016

Lunaria by Katha Pollitt

Now that I am
all done with spring
rampant in purple
and ragged leaves

and summer too
its great green moons
rising through
the breathless air

pale dusted like
the Luna’s wings
I’d like to meet
October’s chill

like the silver moonplant
that bears toward winter
its dark seeds

a paper lantern
lit within
and shining in
the fallen leaves.


Date: 2009

By: Katha Pollitt (1949- )

Friday, 14 October 2016

A, a, a, Domine Deus by Walter David Jones

I said, Ah! What shall I write?
I enquired up and down.
(He’s tricked me before
with his manifold lurking-places.)
I looked for his symbol at the door.
I have looked for a long while
at the textures and contours.
I have run a hand over the trivial intersections.
I have journeyed among the dead forms
causation projects from pillar to pylon.
I have tired the eyes of the mind
regarding the colours and lights.
I have felt for His Wounds
in nozzles and containers.
I have wondered for the automatic devices.
I have tested the inane patterns
without prejudice.
I have been on my guard
not to condemn the unfamiliar.
For it is easy to miss Him
at the turn of a civilisation.

I have watched the wheels go round in case I might see the
living creatures like the appearance of lamps, in case I might see
the Living God projected from the Machine. I have said to the
perfected steel, be my sister and for the glassy towers I thought I
felt some beginnings of His creature, but A, a, a Domine Deus,
my hands found the glazed work unrefined and the terrible
crystal a stage-paste … Eia, Domine Deus.


Date: 1938/1966

By: Walter David Jones (1895-1974)

Thursday, 13 October 2016

Simile by Susanna Haswell Rowson

Passion is like the base narcotic flower,
That flaunts its scarlet bosom to the day;
And when exerting its nefarious power,
Benumbs the sense, and steals the strength away.

In the gay morn attractive to the eye,
Its thin leaves flutter in the wanton wind;
But ere the sun declines, t’will fade and die,
While still its baleful poison lurks behind.

But Love! pure Love! the human soul pervading,
Is like the musk-rose, scenting summer’s breath;
Its charms, when budding in its prime, and fading,
Will even yield a rich perfume in death.

From: Stockton, Annis Boudinot, Rowson, Susanna and Sherman, William Thomas (ed.), In the Number of the Best Patriots: Poetry of Annis Boudinot Stockton and Susanna Rowson, 2013, Open Source, pp. 16-17.

Date: 1803

By: Susanna Haswell Rowson (1762-1824)

Wednesday, 12 October 2016

[I]mpromptu Epitaph on the Grave Digger of Princeton—1769— by Annis Boudinot Stockton

Here lies honest John
Who dug the graves of many
Now circumscrib’d to one
For which he’d ne’er a penny
Six shillings were his dues
But out of those he’s cheated
For death no favour shews
Since monarchs thus are treated
And now his dust is leveld
With dust that soar’d above him
Whose deeds if all unravel’d
The better man would prove him
May all that view this humble stone
This leson learn, this truth revere,
That from the Cottage to the throne
Virtue alone makes difference here.—

From: Stockton, Annis Boudinot and Mulford, Carla (ed.), Only for the Eye of a Friend: The Poems of Annis Boudinot Stockton, 1995, University Press of Virginia: Charlottesville and London, p. 92.

Date: 1769

By: Annis Boudinot Stockton (1736-1801)