Archive for February, 2017

Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Passion XII by Robert Parry

Waste is the soile where naught but thistles grow,
And barren ground will nothing yeild but weeds,
Unhappie is such that soweth not to mowe,
When hope is lost in care, then comfort bleeds;
Waste soyle, voyde hope, thistles and weedes encrease,
In my mindes waste, that waste for want of peace.

Peace with my soule (although my bodie warrs)
Would qualifie the rigor of my paine,
But that I want and must endure the scarrs,
To ranckle, which doe now begin againe,
When ulcers bleed, then daungers doe ensue,
And carefull thoughts my bleeding sores renew.

Renewed thus I count the clocke of care,
No minute past without the tast of smart,
Not as the diall, which doth oft declare:
The time to passe, yet not perceav’d to stait;
Poets faine, time swiftly to flie away,
Yet time is slow, when sorrowe surges sway.

As rotten ragges being dipt, the water drawes,
By soaking fits out of the vessell cleane,
Ev’n so from me doth sorrowes droth (which thawes,
My congeal’d heart, with cruell cursed speene)
Soake out the joyce and moysture of my braine,
For dropping eies can not from teares refraine.

From: Parry, Robert, Sinetes passions vppon his fortunes offered for an incense at the shrine of the ladies which guided his distempered thoughtes. The patrons patheticall posies, sonets, maddrigals, and rowndelayes. Together with Sinetes dompe, 2005, Text Creation Partnership: Ann Arbor, Michigan and Oxford, p. [unnumbered].

Date: 1597

By: Robert Parry (1540-1612)

Monday, 27 February 2017

Excerpt from “The Proheme” of “The Ordinall of Alchimy” by Thomas Norton

For he that shulde all a common people teache,
He must for them use plaine and common speache;
Though that I write in plaine, and hoemely wise
No good-Man then shulde such writenge dispise.
All Masters that write of this Soleme werke
They made their Bokes to many Men full derke,
In Poyses, Parables, and in Metaphors alsoe,
Which to Shollers causeth peine and woe:
For in their practise whan they would it assay,
They leese their Costs, as men see aldaye.

From: Norton, Thomas; Ashmole, Elias and Holmyard, Eric John, The Ordinall of Alchimy, 1929, The Willliams & Wilkins Co: Baltimore, pp. 7-8.

Date: 1477

By: Thomas Norton (c1433-c1513)

Sunday, 26 February 2017

Alas for Youth by Abu ʾl-Qasim Ferdowsi Tusi

Much have I labored, much read o’er
Of Arabic and Persian lore,
Collecting tales unknown and known;
Now two and sixty years are flown.
Regret, and deeper woe of sin,
‘Tis all that youth has ended in,
And I with mournful thoughts rehearse
Bu Táhir Khusrawáni’s verse:
“I mind me of my youth and sigh,
Alas for youth, for youth gone by!”


Date: 10th century (original in Arabic); 1927 (translation in English)

By: Abu ʾl-Qasim Ferdowsi Tusi (c940–1020)

Translated by: Reynold Alleyne Nicholson (1868-1945)

Saturday, 25 February 2017

O Phileros, Why a Torch, that We Need Not? by Valerius Aedituus

O Phileros, why a torch, that we need not?
Just as we are we’ll go, our hearts aflame.
That flame no wild wind’s blast can ever quench,
Or rain that falls torrential from the skies;
Venus herself alone can quell her fire,
No other force there is that has such power.

From: Aulus Gellius and Rolfe, John C. (ed. and transl.), The Attic Nights of Aulus Gellius. With an English Translation, 1927, William Heinemann Ltd: London and Harvard University Press: Cambridge, Mass., p. 385.

Date: 1st century BCE (original in Latin); 1927 (translation in English)

By: Valerius Aedituus (1st century BCE)

Translated by: John Carew Rolfe (1859-1943)

Friday, 24 February 2017

Song by Michael Wodhull

What still does fair Lucy’s disdain
Occasion this festering smart;
Cannot time give relief to your pain,
And heal the slight wound in your heart?

The arrows of Cupid, I know,
At first are all pointed with steel:
But how frail is the strength of his bow!
How fleeting the pangs which we feel!

His wings they are shatter’d by Time,
His quiver is soil’d in the dust;
Such, such , is Life’s flowery prime,
And Beauty’s most insolent trust.

Taste the joys a new passion can give,
With the Nymph that’s complying and kind;
Or, learning more sagely to live,
Be blest, and give Love to the wind.

From: Wodhull, Michael, Poems, 1772, W. Bowyer and J. Nicholls: London, p. 53.

Date: 1772

By: Michael Wodhull (1740-1816)

Thursday, 23 February 2017

Monogamy (Ode from “Andromache”) by Euripides

Two rival consorts ne’er can I approve,
Or sons, the source of strife, their birth who owe
To different mothers; hence connubial love
Is banished, and the mansion teems with woe.
One blooming nymph let cautious husbands wed,
And share with her alone an unpolluted bed.

No prudent city, no well-governed state,
More than a single potentate will own;
Their subjects droop beneath the grievous weight
When two bear rule, and discord shakes the throne;
And if two bards awake their sounding lyres
E’en the harmonious Muse a cruel strife inspires,

To aid the bark, when prosperous gales arise,
Two jarring pilots shall misguide the helm;
Weak is a multitude when all are wise,
One simpler monarch could have saved the realm,
Let a sole chief the house or empire sway,
And all who hope for bliss their lord’s behests obey.

From: Euripides, The Plays of Euripides in English in 2 Volumes, Volume 1, 1906, J. M. Dent & Sons: London & Toronto, p. 260.

Date: 5th century BCE (original in Greek); 1782 (translation in English)

By: Euripides (c480-c406 BCE)

Translated by: Michael Wodhull (1740-1816)

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Releasing the Sherpas by Campbell McGrath

The last two sherpas were the strongest,
faithful companions, their faces wind-peeled,
streaked with soot and glacier-light on the snowfield
below the summit where we stopped to rest.

The first was my body, snug in its cap of lynx-
fur, smelling of yak butter and fine mineral dirt,
agile, impetuous, broad-shouldered,
alive to the frozen bite of oxygen in the larynx.

The second was my intellect, dour and thirsty,
furrowing its fox-like brow, my calculating brain
searching for some cairn or chasm to explain
my decision to send them back without me.

Looking down from the next, ax-cleft serac
I saw them turn and dwindle and felt unafraid.
Blind as a diamond, sun-pure and rarefied,
whatever I was then, there was no turning back.


Date: 2012

By: Campbell McGrath (1962- )

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

I Wanna Be Yours by John Cooper Clarke

I wanna be your vacuum cleaner
breathing in your dust
I wanna be your Ford Cortina
I will never rust
If you like your coffee hot
let me be your coffee pot
You call the shots
I wanna be yours

I wanna be your raincoat
for those frequent rainy days
I wanna be your dreamboat
when you want to sail away
Let me be your teddy bear
take me with you anywhere
I don’t care
I wanna be yours

I wanna be your electric meter
I will not run out
I wanna be the electric heater
you’ll get cold without
I wanna be your setting lotion
hold your hair in deep devotion
Deep as the deep Atlantic ocean
that’s how deep is my devotion.


Date: 1982

By: John Cooper Clarke (1949- )

Monday, 20 February 2017

Paradise Lost by Frances Wynne

Fair at my feet the lake of Como lies;
I hear its murmurous ripples ebb and flow.
Around me, ranging proudly row on row,
The dreamy purple-crested mountains rise.
All bright before me when I lift my eyes
Stands quaint Varenna in the sun a-glow;
And everywhere the crowding roses blow
In this most perfect place, this paradise.

And yet my wayward thoughts will not be bound,
Nor rest at all in this enchanted ground;
They wander forth far over land and sea.
And through the London streets in chill and gloom
They thread their way to some one, wanting whom
Even Paradise is Paradise Lost for me.

Menaggio, May, 1890.

From: Wynne, Frances, Whisper!, 1893, Elkin Mathews and John Lane: London, p. 54.

Date: 1890

By: Frances Wynne (1863-1893)

Sunday, 19 February 2017

To Mr. Grenville on his Intended Resignation by Richard Berenger

A Wretch tir’d out with Fortune’s blows,
Resolv’d at once to end his woes;
And like a thoughtless silly elf,
In the next pond to drown himself.
‘Tis fit, quoth he, my life should end,
The cruel world is not my friend;
I have nor meat, nor drink, nor cloaths,
But want each joy that wealth bestows;
Besides, I hold my life my own,
And when I please may lay it down;
A wretched hopeless thing am I,
Forgetting, as forgot, I’ll die.

Not so, said one who stood behind,
And heard him thus disclose his mind;
Consider well pray what you do,
And think what numbers live in you:
If you go drown, your woes to ease,
Pray who will keep your lice and fleas?
On yours alone their lives depend,
With you they live, with you must end.

On great folks thus the little live,
And in their sunshine bask and thrive:
But when those suns no longer shine,
The hapless insects droop and pine.

Oh GRENVILLE* then this tale apply,
Nor drown yourself lest I should die:
Compassionate your louse’s case,
And keep your own to save his place.

*George Grenville served as the Prime Minister of Great Britain between 1763 and 1765.


Date: 1763

By: Richard Berenger (1719-1782)