Archive for April, 2017

Sunday, 30 April 2017

Il Cantilena [The Chant] by Pietru Caxaro

A recital of my misfortunes, O my neighbours, the following I shall tell you,
Such as has not been found either in the past or in your lifetime.
An ungoverned, kingless, and lordless heart
Has thrown me into a deep well without a way up,
Into which, desiring death by drowning, I descend by the steps of my downfall,
Rising and falling always in the deep water.

My house, it has fallen down, I have long been a-building.
The workmen were not to blame, but it was the loose clay that gave way.
I found loose clay where I had hoped to find rock;
My house! It has fallen down!

My house! It has pushed down its foundations.
The workmen were not to blame, but the rock gave way.
I found loose clay where I had hoped to find rock;
The house I had long been a-building has collapsed!
And that’s how my house fell down! Build it up again!
Change for it the place that harms it.
He who changes neighbourhood changes his fortune;
For there is a difference in every span of land:
Some there is which is white, some black, some red.
More than this. There should you … …

From: Wettinger, G. and Fsadni, M., Peter Caxaro’s Cantilena. A Poem in Medieval Maltese, 1968, Lux Press: Malta, p. 38.

Date: c1470 (original in Maltese) 1968 (translation in English)

By: Pietru Caxaro (c1400-1485)

Translated by: Godfrey Wettinger (1929-2015) and Mikiel Fsadni (1916-2013)

Saturday, 29 April 2017

Peruvianus by Jacob Riyeff

Making love to February air;
staring out at neon lights freezing.
Droning into a rising sun
and drinking soma in the mind—
this beatific brace stunting every thought
and settles simply with a longing laugh.


Date: 2014

By: Jacob Riyeff (19??- )

Friday, 28 April 2017

Almsgiving by Unknown

That disciple is blest whose spirit burns
with generosity, renovating the inner room
of her heart. The world rejoices at her worthiness
and the Lord glories in the welcome glow of her light.

Jesus ben Sirach says a surging
flame will be snuffed, raging fires
put down with welling water—no longer
able to damage dwellings with burning—
when that disciple douses sin, healing souls
with the gracious gift of her alms.


Date: c970 (original in Anglo-Saxon); 2014 (translation in English)

By: Unknown

Translated by: Jacob Riyeff (19??- )

Thursday, 27 April 2017

Against Chaos by Sandeep Parmar

after Jagjit Singh

Love could not have sent you, in this shroud of song,
To wield against death your hollow flute, tuned to chaos.

Whatever the Ancients said, matter holds the world
to its bargain of hard frost. But life soon forgets chaos.

He who has not strode the full length of age, has counted
then lost count of days that swallow, like fever, dark chaos.

And you, strange company in the backseat of childhood,
propped on the raft of memory like some god of chaos,

You threaten to drown me: wind through palmed streets.
Oracle of grief. The vagrant dance of figures in chaos

carting trash over tarmac. Stench of Popeye’s Chicken,
the Capitol Records building, injecting light and chaos

into the LA sky. That paper boat in rainwater, rushing, dives
out of my reach and old women give no order here to chaos,

nor calm with their familiar tales. Your voice follows me
into and out of the wrong houses, riding my heels in chaos

as if to say that every half-remembered element I’ve forged
in glass is only the replicate, dying shadow of love’s chaos

that once spoken, is like a poison dropped in the mouth
of song, turning it dolorous and black. I’ve eaten this chaos,

its paroxysm of birth, and seen it uncoil from the faces
of loved ones, into sickness and distance and loss. Chaos

that hounds—that drums its fingers on the window like rain—
who will not forget me and permit me to reach across

thirty years for the child peering out over the very same
landscape, day after day. Yellowing day, that day of chaos

where you are still sounding your warning (though I was too
young). To be left with the bitter heaviness of song, its chaos.


Date: 2012

By: Sandeep Parmar (1979- )

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Crosses in Gallipoli by Ella May McFadyen

Gallipoli, how many are the graves
That in your broken furrows we have sown,
The broken rifle fashioned to a cross
For witness that the Lord may know His own!

What costly spending saw the world in this;
Youth, courage, high adventure, loyalty,
Boy lives of poets, leaders, teachers, saints,
Expended in an hour, Gallipoli!

Aye, so we made you ours in pride and grief,
Renewed our right with every life we paid:
Gay heroes in the battle of the faith,
The boy battalions of a late crusade.

Though duty’s path proved steep beneath their feet,
The way wound steeply once from Nazareth:
And meet our loveliest are for sacrifice,
While stands the Cross for victory – and death!

From: McFadyen, Ella, “Crosses in Gallipoli” from The Sydney Mail – Dec. 8, 1915, p. 15.

Date: 1915

By: Ella May McFadyen (1887-1976)

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Gallipoli by Leslie Holdsworth Allen

Winter is here, and in the setting sun
York’s giant bluff is kindled with the ray
That smites his gnarled crags of red and dun,
And the spired obelisk that points the way
Where heroes looked, the first of English blood,
To break the spell of silence with a cry,
Startling the ancient sleep in prophecy
Of you, my people of the Lion-brood.

Does his old vision watch that alien hill,
Embrowned and bleak, where strain upon the height,
Amid sharp silences that burn and chill,
Those heroes’ sons, set in a sterner fight
Than that primeval war with Solitude?
Lo now, the sullen cliff outjets in smoke
And life is groaning death, bloodied and broke!
So fell ye, children of the Lion-Brood!

I weep the dead, they are no more, no more!
O with what pain and rapture came to me
Full birth of love for dazzling-sanded shore,
For heaven of sapphire and for scented tree!
Keen-eyed and all desire, I felt my mood
Still fruitless, waiting gust of quickening breath,
And lo, on darkened wing the wind of Death
Summoned austere the soul to nationhood!

Where cornfields smile in golden-fruited peace
There stalk the spirits of heroes firmly thewed
As he that sailed their path to win the Fleece
For gods that still enchant our solitude.
I weep the dead, they are no more, no more!
Their sons that gather in the teeming grain
Walk sadlier that the men of hill and plain
Themselves are harvest to the wrath of war.

I weep the dead, they are no more, no more!
When dusk descends on city and on plain
Dim lights will shine from window and from door,
And some will guard the vigil of dull pain.
Yet, in the city or in solitude,
There is a burden in the starry air,
An oversong that cries, “The life is fair
That made its triumph nobler with its blood!”

If English oaks should fret with shade their tomb,
Let them have burial here, for one would say,
“I shall sleep soft if some once-haunted room
Keep token of me when I take my way.”
And one again— “The boon of quietude
Is sweet if that old corner of the stream
Where last I saw the creepered window gleam
Keep memory of my days of lustihood.”

Some blossoming orchard-plot, some fenced field,
Some placid strip of furrow-stained earth,
Or some grey coil of cottage-smoke, shall yield
Tribute to those who brought their land to birth,
And this, in city or in lonely wood,
Shall be the guerdon of the death they died,
The cry of Folk made one with pangs of pride,
“They fell, not faithless to the Lion-Brood!”

From: Allen, L. H., “Gallipoli” in The Kookaburra. The Magazine of The Sydney Teachers’ College. War Edition, November,1915, p. 6.

Date: 1915

By: Leslie Holdsworth Allen (1879-1964)

Monday, 24 April 2017

The Silence by Reginald James Godfrey

This is indeed a false, false night;
There’s not a soldier sleeps,
But like a ghost stands to his post,
While Death through the long sap creeps.
There’s an eerie filmy spell o’er all —
A murmur from the sea;
And not a sound on the hills around —
Say, what will the silence be?


Date: 1916

By: Reginald James Godfrey (1892-1979)

Sunday, 23 April 2017

To My Cigar by Charles Sprague

Yes, social friend, I love thee well,
In learned doctors’ spite;
Thy clouds all other clouds dispel,
And lap me in delight.

By thee, they cry, with phizzes long,
My years are sooner passed;
Well, take my answer, right or wrong,
They’re sweeter while they last.

And oft, mild friend, to me thou art
A monitor, though still;
Thou speak’st a lesson to my heart
Beyond the preacher’s skill.

Thou ‘rt like the man of worth, who gives
To goodness every day,
The odor of whose virtue lives
When he has passed away.

When, in the lonely evening hour,
Attended but by thee,
O’er history’s varied page I pore,
Man’s fate in thine I see.

Oft as thy snowy column grows,
Then breaks and falls away,
I trace how mighty realms thus rose.
Thus tumbled to decay.

Awhile like thee the hero burns,
And smokes and fumes around,
And then, like thee, to ashes turns,
And mingles with the ground.

Life’s but a leaf adroitly rolled,
And time’s the wasting breath.
That late or early, we behold.
Gives all to dusty death.

From beggar’s frieze to monarch’s robe,
One common doom is passed;
Sweet Nature’s works, the swelling globe,
Must all burn out at last.

And what is he who smokes thee now? —
A little moving heap,
That soon like thee to fate must bow,
With thee in dust must sleep.

But though thy ashes downward go,
Thy essence rolls on high;
Thus, when my body must lie low,
My soul shall cleave the sky.


Date: 1829

By: Charles Sprague (1791-1875)

Saturday, 22 April 2017

The Gathering from “The Triumph of Infidelity” by Timothy Dwight IV

And now the morn arose; when o’er the plain
Gather’d, from every side, a numerous train;
To quell those fears, that rankled still within,
And gain new strength, and confidence, to sin.
There the half putrid Epicure was seen,
His cheeks of port, and lips with turtle green,
Who hop’d a long eternity was given,
To spread good tables, in some eating heaven.
The leacher there his lurid visage shew’d,
The imp of darkness, and the foe of good;
Who fled his lovely wife’s most pure embrace,
To sate on hags, and breed a mongrel race;
A high-fed horse, for others wives who neigh’d;
A cur, who prowl’d around each quiet bed;
A snake, far spreading his impoison’d breath,
And charming innocence to guilt, and death.
Here stood Hypocrisy, in sober brown,
His sabbath face all sorrow’d with a frown.
A dismal tale he told of dismal times,
And this sad world brimful of saddest crimes,
Furrow’d his cheeks with tears for others sin,
But clos’d his eyelids on the hell within.

There smil’d the smooth Divine, unus’d to wound
The sinners heart, with hell’s alarming sound.
No terrors on his gentle tongue attend;
No grating truths the nicest ear offend.
That strange new-birth, that methodistic grace,
Nor in his heart, nor sermons, found a place.
Plato’s fine tales he clumsily retold,
Trite, fireside, moral seasaws, dull as old;
His Christ, and bible, plac’d at good remove,
Guilt hell-deserving, and forgiving love.
‘Twas best, he said, mankind should cease to sin;
Good fame requir’d it; so did peace within:
Their honours, well he knew, would ne’er be driven;
But hop’d they still would please to go to heaven.
Each week, he paid his visitation dues;
Coax’d, jested, laugh’d; rehears’d the private news;
But hoped they still would please to go to heaven.
Smoak’d with each goody, thought her cheese excell’d;
Her pipe he lighted, and her baby held.
Or plac’d in some great town, with lacquer’d shoes,
Trim wig, and trimmer gown, and glistening hose,
He bow’d, talk’d politics, learn’d manners mild;
Most meekly questioned, and most smoothly smil’d;
At rich mens jests laugh’d loud their stories prais’d;
Their wives new patterns gaz’d, and gaz’d and gaz’d;
Most daintily on pamper’d turkies din’d;
Nor shrunk with fasting, nor with study pin’d:
Yet from their churches saw his brethren driven,
Who thunder’d truth, and spoke the voice of heaven,
Chill’d trembling guilt, in Satan’s headlong path;
Charm’d the feet back, and rous’d the ear of death.
“Let fools,” he cried, “starve on, while prudent I
Snug in my nest shall live, and snug shall die.

There stood the infidel of modern breed,
Blest vegetation of infernal seed,
Alike no Deist, and no Christian, he;
But from all principle, all virtue, free.
To him all things the same, as good or evil;
Jehovah, Jove, the Lama, or the Devil;
Mohammed’s braying, or Isaiah’s lays;
The Indian’s powaws, or the Christian’s praise,
With him all natural desires are good;
His thirst for stews; the Mohawk’s thirst for blood:
Made, not to know, or love, the all beauteous mind;
Or wing thro’ heaven his path to bliss resin’d:
But his dear self, choice Dagon! to adore;
To dress, to game, to swear, to drink, to whore;
To race his steeds; or cheat, when others run;
Pit tortur’d cocks, and swear ’tis glorious fun:
His soul not cloath’d with attributes divine;
But a nice watch-spring to that grand machine,
That work more nice than Rittenhouse can plan,
The body; man’s chief part; himself, the man;
Man, that illustrious brute of noblest shape,
A swine unbristled, and an untail’d ape:
To couple, eat, and die—his glorious doom—
The oyster’s church-yard, and the capon’s tomb.

From: Dwight, Timothy, The Triumph of Infidelity: A Poem, 2007, Text Creation Partnership: Ann Arbor, Michigan, pp. 29-32.

Date: 1788

By: Timothy Dwight IV (1752-1817)

Friday, 21 April 2017

To Detraction by Thomas Andrewe

Ill tongu’d Detraction, that upon my Booke
Doest cast a hatefull vituperious looke,
Read and deride, deprave and carpe thy fill,
Say that my Verse is harsh, my lynes are ill:
I passe not for thy censure, better men
Shall judge the worth of our industrious pen.
In spight of thee, and all that thou canst say,
My lynes shall live, when steele shall weare away:
And when that thou rak’t vp in dust shalt lye,
Then through the spacious Orbe our Muse shall flye:
Although that yet she hath with motion slowe,
Taught her hiewing to keepe a course but lowe.
I must acknowledge, these unpolisht rimes
Sute not the nature of our curious times,
When each sharpe-sighted Critick doth disdaine,
What is not bred in his fantasticke brayne:
Yet will I not with supple fawning words,
Seeke for more praise then merit just affords.
My pen is free, and whatso’ere I write,
Proceeds essentially from my delight:
Then let whose will, or praise, or discommend me.
Neyther can make me proud, nor yet offend me.

From: Andrewe, Thomas, The Unmasking of a Feminine Machiavell, 2006, Text Creation Partnership: Ann Arbor, Michigan and Oxford, p. [unnumbered].

Date: 1604

By: Thomas Andrewe (fl. 1604)