Archive for July, 2017

Monday, 31 July 2017

Flying Fish by Mary McNeil Fenollosa (Sidney McCall)

Out where the sky and the sky blue sea
Merge in a mist of sheen,
There started a vision of silver things,
A leap and a quiver, a flash of wings
The sky and the sea between.

Is it of birds from the blue above,
Or fish from the depths that be?
Or is it the ghosts
In silver hosts
Of birds that were drowned at sea?

From: Fenollosa, Mary McNeil, Out of the Nest. A Flight of Verses, 1899, Little, Brown and Company: Boston, p. 8.

Date: 1899

By: Mary McNeil Fenollosa (Sidney McCall) (1865-1954)

Sunday, 30 July 2017

The Head-Ach, or An Ode to Health by Jane Cave Winscom

Inserted in the Bristol Newspaper by the AUTHOR, May 25, 1793.

O HEALTH! thou dear invaluable guest!
Thy rosy subjects, how supremely blest!
Hear the blith milk-maid and the plough-boy sing,
Nor envy they the station of a king;
While Kings thy sweets to gain would gladly bow,
Resign their crowns and guide the rustic’s plough:
Thou pearl surpassing riches, power or birth!
Of blessings thou the greatest known on earth!
Thy value’s found like that of bards of yore,
We know to prize thee when thou art no more!

Ah! Why from me; art thou for ever flown?
Why deaf to ev’ry agonizing groan?
Not one short month for ten revolving years,
But pain within my frame its sceptre rears!
In each successive month full twelve long days
And tedious nights my sun withdraws his rays!
Leaves me in silent anguish on my bed,
Afflicting all the members in the head;
Through ev’ry particle the torture flies,
But centers in the temples, brain and eyes;
The efforts of the hands and feet are vain,
While bows the head with agonizing pain;
While heaves the breast th’ unutterable sigh,
And the big tear drops from the languid eye.
For ah! my children want a mother’s care,
A husband too, should due assistance share;
Myself for action form’d would fain thro’ life
Be found th’ assiduous–valuable wife;
But now, behold, I live unfit for aught;
Inactive half my days except in thought,
And this so vague while torture clogs my hours,
I sigh, Oh, ‘twill derange my mental powers!
Or by its dire excess dissolve my sight,
And thus entomb me in perptual night!

Ye sage Physicians, where’s your wonted skill?
In vain the blisters, bolusses and pill;
Great Neptune’s swelling waves in vain I try’d,
My malady its utmost power defy’d;
In vain the British and Cephalic Snuff,
All Patent Medicines are empty stuff;
The launcet, leech, and cupping swell the train
Of useless efforts, which but gave me pain;
Each art and application rain has prov’d,
For ah! my sad complaint is not remo’v’d.

Live’s one on earth possess’d of sympathy,
Who knows what is presum’d a remedy?
O send it hither! I again would try,
Tho’ in the attempt of conqu’ring I die.
For thus to languish on is worse than death,
And I have hope if Heav’n recall my breath.

From: Cave, Jane. Poems on various subjects, entertaining, elegiac, and religious, by Miss Cave, now Mrs. Winscom. The fourth edition, corrected and improved, with many additional poems, never before published, 1794, N. Biggs: Bristol, pp. 152-155.

Date: 1793

By: Jane Cave Winscom (?1754-1812)

Saturday, 29 July 2017

Sweet Suffolk Owl by Thomas Vautor

Sweet Suffolk owl, so trimly dight
With feathers, like a lady bright,
Thou sing’st alone, sitting by night,
Te whit, te whoo!

Thy note that forth so freely rolls,
With shrill command the mouse controls,
And sings a dirge for dying souls,
Te whit, te whoo!


Date: 1619

By: Thomas Vautor (?1580-1619)

Friday, 28 July 2017

May Not Thys Hate from the Estarte by Anthony Lee

May not thys hate from the estarte
but fermly for to sytte
that undeservyd cruell harte
when shall yt change not yet not yett

yowre changyng mynd & feynyd chere
with yowre love whyche was so knytte
how hyt hathe turnyd yt dothe apere
when shall yt change not yet not yet

Hathe changyng suche power for to Remove
& clene owte for to shytte
sso fervent heate & hasty love
when shall yt change not yet not yet

Syns I am leste What Remedy
I marvell never a Whytte
I am not the fyrst perdy
nor shall not be the last not yet

Now syns yor wyll so waveryng
to hate hathe turnyd yor wytte
example as good as wrytyng
hyt wyll not be not yett.


Date: c1535

By: Anthony Lee (1510/11-1549)

Thursday, 27 July 2017

Excerpt from “The Third Book” of “Astronomicon” by Marcus Manilius

When Nature order’d this vast Frame to rise,
Nature, the Guardian of these Mysteries,
And scatter’d Lucid Bodies o’er the Skies;
When she the Concave, whence directly fall
Streight Lines of Influence round the solid Ball,
Had fill’d with Stars; and made Earth, Water, Air,
And Fire, each other mutually repair;
That Concord might these differing parts controul,
And Leagues of mutual Aid support the whole;
That nothing which the Skies embrace might be
From Heaven’s supreme Command and Guidance free,
On Man the chiefest Object of her Cares
Long time she thought, then hung his Fates on Stars;
Those Stars, which plac’d i’th’ Heart of Heaven, display
The brightest Beams, and share the greatest sway;
Which keep a constant Course, and now restrain
The Planets Power, now yield to them again;
Thus sometimes ruling, sometimes rul’d, create
The strange and various Intercourse of Fate.
To these her Powers wise Nature’s Laws dispense
Submitting all things to their Influence:
But then as Emperours their Realms divide,
And every Province hath its proper Guide,
So ’tis in Signs; they have not equal Shares
Of common Power, each Fortune claims its Stars.
Our Studies, Poverty, Wealth, Joy and Grief,
With all the other Accidents of Life
She parcels out; to proper Stars confines
The Lots in number equal to the Signs.

From: Manilius, Marcus, The five books of Mr. Manilius containing a system of the ancient astronomy and astrology : together with the philosophy of the Stoicks / done into English verse with notes by Mr. Tho. Creech, 2005, Text Creation Partnership: Ann Arbor, Michigan and Oxford, p. 99.

Date: c10-20 (original in Latin); 1700 (translation in English)

By: Marcus Manilius (fl. 1st century)

Translated by: Thomas Creech (1659-1700)

Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Wine is the Test for Love by Asclepiades of Samos

Wine is the test for love:
Nikagoras told us he loved no one,
but his many toasts betrayed him.
Oh yes! He bent his head and wept,
and then his wreath slipped,
half to cover the aching in those
sad dark eyes.

From: Nystrom, Bradley P. (transl.) and Little, Claudette Sherbert (ill.), The Song of Eros: Ancient Greek Love Poems, 2009, Southern Illinois University Press: Carbondale, p. 10.

Date: c270 BCE (original in Greek); 1991 (translation in English)

By: Asclepiades of Samos (c320 BCE-c260 BCE)

Translated by: Bradley P. Nystrom (19??- )

Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Song of the Man Who Was Weary of Life by Anonymous

This day is Death before my eyes
As when a man grown well again,
And rising from a bed of pain,
The garden sees

This day is Death before my eyes
Like fragrant myrrh’s alluring smell,
Like sitting ’neath the sails which swell
In favouring breeze

This day is Death before my eyes
Like water-bosomed lotus scent,
Or when, the traveller, worn and spent,
At last drinks deep.

This day is Death before my eyes
As when the soldier glimpses home,
As pent-up garden-waters foam
Down channels steep.

This day is Death before my eyes
As when, mist clearing from the blue,
The hunter’s quarry leaps to view,
Like this is Death before my eyes
As when, the captive, bound in pain,
Yearns sore to see his home again,
Like this is Death
While we draw breath,
We seek life’s prize
The prize is – Death.

From: Sharpley, C. Elissa (ed.), Anthology of Ancient Egyptian Poems, 1925, John Murray: London, pp. 79-80.

Date: c1850 BCE (original in Egyptian hieroglyphs); 1923 (translation in English)

By: Anonymous

Translated by: George Anthony Armstrong Willis (1897-1972)

Monday, 24 July 2017

Pharoah by Lucia Maria Perillo

In the saltwater aquarium at the pain clinic
lives a yellow tang
who chews the minutes in its cheeks
while we await our unguents and anesthesias.

The big gods offer us this little god
before the turning of the locks
in their Formica cabinets
in the rooms of our interrogation.

We have otherwise been offered magazines
with movie stars whose shininess
diminishes as the pages lose
their crispness as they turn.

But the fish is undiminishing, its face
like the death mask of a pharaoh
which remains while the mortal face
gets disassembled by the microbes of the tomb.

And because our pain is ancient,
we too will formalize our rituals with blood
leaking out around the needle
when the big gods try but fail

to find the bandit vein. It shrivels when pricked,
and they’ll say I’ve lost it
and prick and prick until the trouble’s brought
to the pale side of the other elbow

from which I wrench my head away—
but Pharaoh you do not turn away.
You watch us hump past with our walkers
with the tennis balls on their hind legs,

your sideways black eye on our going
down the corridor to be caressed
by the hand with the knife and the hand with the balm
when we are called out by our names.


Date: 2010

By: Lucia Maria Perillo (1958-2016)

Sunday, 23 July 2017

Commando by John Stanier Waller

He was too young to know the world they knew
Who were its movers; he was only
A child in their terrible hands. When he dreamt
It was of a knight wandering lonely
Through a dark forest. They used his dreams
For their own deeds of moonlight and peril.

He remained cheerful but always dreadfully alone
As he learnt how to throw bombs, gouge eyes, or find
How with a certain twist one can break a man’s neck.
Raids were his joy; he would return almost blind
With the feel of blood, go home and drink
In a kind of forgetfulness; he was envied for that.

You see, all these things were like dreams.
Each horror had its own particular place
In his nightmare; and there at the end
Stood the fair lady, the savior of his race.
That is how it should have ended; but he died, with love
The only frontier that now he could never cross.


Date: 1945

By: John Stanier Waller (1917-1995)

Saturday, 22 July 2017

Derelict by Elisabeth Jones Cavazza Pullen

She wanders up and down the main
Without a master, nowhere bound;
The currents turn her round and round,
Her track is like a tangled skein;
And never helmsman by his chart
So strange a way as hers may steer
To enter port or to depart
For any harbor far or near.

The waters clamor at her sides,
The winds cry through her cordage torn,
The last sail hangs, to tatters worn;
Upon the waves the vessel rides
This way or that, as winds may shift,
In ghastly dance when airs blow balm,
Or held in a lethargic calm,
Or fury-hunted, wild, adrift.

When south winds blow, does she recall
Spices and golden fruits in store?
Or north winds—nets off Labrador
And icebergs’ iridescent wall?
Or east—the isles of Indian seas?
Or west—new ports and sails unfurled?
Her voyages all around the world
To mock her with old memories?

For her no light-house sheds a ray
Of crimson warning from its tower;
No watchers wait in hope the hour
To greet her coming up the bay;
No trumpet speaks her, hearty, hoarse—
Or if a captain hail at first,
He sees her for a thing accursed,
And turns his own ship from her course.

Alone, in desperate liberty
She forges on; and how she fares
No man alive inquires, or cares
Though she were sunk beneath the sea.
Her helm obeys no firm control,
She drifts—a prey for storms to take,
For sands to clutch, for rocks to break—
A ship condemned, like a lost soul.


Date: c1895

By: Elisabeth Jones Cavazza Pullen (1849-1926)