Archive for August, 2017

Thursday, 31 August 2017

Liberty Preserved, or Love Destroyed by Alexander Robertson of Struan

At length the bondage I have broke
Which gave me so much pain.
I’ve slipped my heart out of the yoke,
Never to drudge again;
And, conscious of my long disgrace,
Have thrown my chain at Cupid’s face.

If ever he attempt again
My freedom to enslave,
I’ll court the godhead of champagne
Which makes the coward brave,
And, when that deity has healed my soul,
I’ll drown the little bastard in my bowl.

From: MacLachlan, Christopher (ed.), Before Burns: Eighteenth-Century Scottish Poetry, 2010, Canongate Classics: Edinburgh, p. 14.
( )

Date: c1720

By: Alexander Robertson of Struan (1667-1749)

Wednesday, 30 August 2017

A Chaine of Pearle: The Eight Pearle. Science by Diana Primrose

Among the virtues intellectual,
The van is led by that we Science call;
A pearl more precious than the Egyptian queen
Quaff’d off to Antony: of more esteem
Than Indian gold, or most resplendent gems,
Which ravish us with their translucent beams.
How many arts and sciences did deck
This Heroina! who still had at beck
The Muses and the Graces, when that she
Gave audience in state and majesty:
Then did the goddess Eloquence inspire
Her royal breast: Apollo with his lyre
Ne’er made such music; on her sacred lips
Angels enthroned, most heavenly manna sips.
Then might you see her nectar-flowing vein
Surround the hearers; in which sugar’d stream
She able was to drown a world of men,
And drown’d with sweetness to revive again.
Alasco, the ambassador Polonian,
Who perorated like a mere Slavonian,
And in rude rambling Rhetoric did roll,
She did with Attic eloquence control.
Her speeches to our Academians,
Well shew’d she knew among Athenians
How to deliver such well-tuned words
As with such places punctually accords.
But with what Oratory-ravishments
Did she imparadise her Parliaments!
Her last most princely speech doth verify,
How highly she did England dignify.
Her loyal Commons how did she embrace,
And entertain with a most royal grace!


Date: 1630

By: Diana Primrose (fl. 1630)

Tuesday, 29 August 2017

One Last Word About Love by Anonymous

He that wil be a lover in every wise,
He muste have thre thingis whiche Jeame lackith.
The first is goodlyhede at poynt devise*;
The secunde is manere, which manhoode makith;
The thryd is goode, that no woman hatith.
Marke well this, that lovers wil be
Muste nedys have oone of thes thre.

*goodlyhede at point devise – perfect beauty.

From: Barratt, Alexandra (ed.), Women’s Writing in Middle English (2nd. Edition), 2013, Routledge: New York and London, p. 308.

Date: 15th century

By: Anonymous

Monday, 28 August 2017

The Tercets by Llywarch Hen

Set is the snare, the ash clusters glow,
Ducks plash in the pools; breakers whiten below;
More strong than a hundred is the heart’s hidden woe.

Long is the night; resounding the shore,
Frequent in crowds a tumultuous roar;
The evil and good disagree evermore.

Long is the night; the hill full of cries;
O’er the tree-tops the wind whistles and sighs;
Ill nature deceives not the wit of the wise.

The greening birch saplings a-sway in the air
Shall deliver my feet from the enemy’s snare;
It is ill with a youth thy heart’s secrets to share.

The saplings of oak in yonder green glade
Shall loosen the snare by an enemy laid;
It is ill to unbosom thy heart to a maid.

The saplings of oak in their full summer pride
Shall loosen the snare by the enemy tied;
It is ill to a babbler thy heart to confide.

The brambles with berries of purple are dressed;
In silence the brooding thrush clings to her nest;
In silence the liar can never take rest.

Rain is without–wet the fern plume;
White the sea gravel–fierce the waves’ spume;
There is no lamp like reason man’s life to illume.

Rain is without, but the shelter is near;
Yellow the furze, the cow-parsnip is sere;
God in Heaven, how could’st Thou create cowards here!

Rain and still rain, dank these tresses of mine!
The feeble complain of the cliff’s steep incline;
Wan is the main; sharp the breath of the brine.

Rain falls in a sheet; the Ocean is drenched;
By the whistling sleet the reed-tops are wrenched;
Feat after feat; but Genius lies quenched.

From: Graves, Alfred Perceval (transl. and ed.), Welsh Poetry Old and New in English Verse, 1912, Longmans, Green and Co: London, pp. 10-11.

Date: 6th century (original in Welsh); 1912 (translation in English)

By: Llywarch Hen (c534-c608)

Translated by: Alfred Perceval Graves (1846-1931)

Sunday, 27 August 2017

I.21 by Sextus Propertius

“You, soldier, rushing to escape our fate–
wounded beside beseiged Perusia’s walls–
why, when I moan, do you turn shocked eyes?
I was your comrade in arms just now.
Save yourself so your parents may rejoice,
so your sister won’t read my fate in your tears:
Gallus, snatched from Caesar’s jaws,
could not fly death from unknown hands;
whatever scattered bones she’ll find
on Etruscan hills, tell her these are mine.”

From: Rayor, Diane J. and Batstone, William W. (eds.), Latin Lyric and Elegiac Poetry: An Anthology of New Translations, 2013, Routledge: New York and London, p. 56.

Date: c25 BCE (original in Latin); 1995 (translation in English)

By: Sextus Propertius (50/45-15 BCE)

Translated by: Helen E. Deutsch (19??- )

Saturday, 26 August 2017

Life a Bane by Posidippus of Pella

What course of life should wretched mortals take?
In courts hard questions large contention make:
Care dwells in houses, labor in the field,
Tumultuous seas affrighting dangers yield.
In foreign lands thou never canst be blessed;
If rich, thou art in fear; if poor, distressed.
In wedlock frequent discontentments swell;
Unmarried persons as in deserts dwell.
How many troubles are with children born;
Yet he that wants them counts himself forlorn.
Young men are wanton, and of wisdom void;
Gray hairs are cold, unfit to be employed.
Who would not one of these two offers choose,
Not to be born, or breath with speed to lose?


Date: 3rd century BCE (original in Greek); 17th century (translation in English)

By: Posidippus of Pella (c310-c240 BCE)

Translated by: John Beaumont (1583-1627)

Friday, 25 August 2017

You Poem by Marianne Morris

you (walking up the road)
you, you (bird with a hole in its wing)
you you you (thought under pressure)
you you (didn’t see what I was) you you you
(now see what I was) you you (a space
opening up between me and myself)
you you (a breath I took through being alone)
you you you (thought reduced to doubling) you
(blatant reformulation of) you you you (and me,
me, reformulating) you (a praxis) you (not
singing exactly) you you (can be forgiven for
everything) you (absolutely everything) you
(draw the lines according to what) you
(forgive, arrive late to the games) you
(a staging of battles) you you (just wanting more)
you you (of a nonspecific bounty) you you
(more and then less of me) you (music rising)
you you (up the stairs my thoughts climb)
you you (impose a structure onto the impossible)
you you (eternal suspension).


Date: 2013

By: Marianne Morris (1981- )

Thursday, 24 August 2017

The Bald Spot by Wesley McNair

It nods
behind me
as I speak
at the meeting.

All night
while I sleep
it stares
into the dark.

The bald spot
is bored.
Tired of waiting
in the office,

sick of following me
into sex.
It traces
and retraces

the shape
of worlds

beyond its world.
Far away
it hears the laughter
of my colleagues,

the swift sure
sound of my voice.
The bald spot
says nothing.

It peers
out from hair
like the face
of a doomed man

going blanker
and blanker,
walking backwards
into my life.


Date: 1980

By: Wesley McNair (1941- )

Wednesday, 23 August 2017

A Perfect Day by Isabella Fyvie Mayo

Along the rock-bound shore the sunshine crept;
Our little boat upon the summer sea
Rocked lightly, and a merry crew were we.
Yet eyes were there which bitter tears had wept,
And hearts were there that lonely secrets kept,
Even as on the reefs lay winter wrecks
Of riven masts and ruined quarter-decks,
While in the sunny sea the dead men slept;
And tears will fall again, and storms will break,
Hearts will beat low, and faces will grow pale;
And yet new dawns will blush, and sea-birds wake.
Our God was with our gladness.   Come what may,
Nothing can rob us of a perfect day,
Nor of the faith that such days shall not fail.


Date: 1886

By: Isabella Fyvie Mayo (1843-1914)

Tuesday, 22 August 2017

The Midsummer Wish by John Hawkesworth

O Phoebus! down the western sky
Far hence diffuse thy burning ray,
Thy light to distant worlds supply,
And wake them to the cares of day.

Come, gentle Eve, the friend of Care,
Come, Cynthia, lovely queen of night!
Refresh me with a cooling breeze,
And chear me with a lambent light.

Lay me where o’er the verdant ground
Her living carpet Nature spreads;
Where the green bower, with roses crown’d,
In showers its fragrant foliage sheds.

Improve the peaceful hour with wine,
Let music die along the grove;
Around the bowl let myrtles twine,
And every strain be tun’d to Love.

Come, STELLA, queen of all my heart!
Come, born to fill its vast desires!
Thy looks perpetual joys impart,
Thy voice perpetual love inspires.

While, all my wish and thine complete,
By turns we languish, and we burn,
Let sighing gales our sighs repeat,
Our murmurs murmuring brooks return.

Let me, when Nature calls to rest,
And blushing skies the morn foretell,
Sink on the down of STELLA’s breast,
And bid the waking world farewell.


Date: 1748

By: John Hawkesworth (c1715-1773)