Archive for April, 2018

Monday, 30 April 2018

Hearing the Birds Sing After the Departure of our Deare Mother by Christopher Wyvill

And can you sing poor birds? do you not see
A mourning countenance on every tree?
Doth not each stone in this sad fabrick, tell
What sable thoughts within these walls do dwell?
Since she who added sweetnesse to the spring,
To Summer glory, she whose care did bring
More fruit then Autumne, and from whom it was
That Icy-Winter undiscern’d did passe,
Hath left these habitations, my-thinks you
Should leave henceforth your warbling sonnets too,
Yet sing, but change your note and joyne with me,
Tune your loud whistles to an Elegie.

May 10, 1645

From: Wyvill, Christopher, Certaine serious thoughts which at severall times & upon sundry occasions have stollen themselves into verse and now into the publike view from the author [Wyvill coat of arms] Esquire ; together w[i]th a chronologicall table denoeting [sic] the names of such princes as ruled the neighbor states and were con-temporary to our English kings, observeing throughout ye number of yeares w[hi]ch every one of them reigned, 2004, Text Creation Partnership: Ann Arbor, Michigan and Oxford, pp. 34-35.

Date: 1645

By: Christopher Wyvill (16??-1711)

Sunday, 29 April 2018

To Everlasting Oblivion by John Marston

Thou mighty gulf, insatiate cormorant!
Deride me not, though I seem petulant
To fall into thy chops. Let others pray
For ever their fair poems flourish may,
But as for me, hungry Oblivion
Devour me quick. Accept my orison,
My earnest prayers, which do importune thee
With gloomy shade of thy still empery
To veil both me and my rude poesy.
Far worthier lines, in silence of thy state,
Do sleep securely, free from love or hate;
From which this living ne’er can be exempt,
But whilst it breathes, will hate and fury tempt.
Then close his eyes with thy all-dimming hand,
Which not right-glorious actions can withstand;
Peace, hateful tongues; I now in silence pace,
Unless some hound do wake me from my place.
I with this sharp, yet well-meant poesy
Will sleep secure, right free from injury
Of cankered hate, or rankest villany.


Date: 1598

By: John Marston (1576-1634)

Saturday, 28 April 2018

I’m A Nobody by Bianor

I’m a nobody,
no one special,
a nothing —
yet even I am loved.
Even I am the master
of someone else’s soul.

From: Nystrom, Bradley P. (ed. and transl.), The Song of Eros: Ancient Greek Love Poems, 1991, Southern Illinois University Press: Carbondale, p. 20.

Date: 1st century (original in Greek); 1991 (translation in English)

By: Bianor (1st century)

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

Friday, 27 April 2018

Into the Company of Women by January Gill O’Neil

Make me laugh over coffee,
make it a double, make it frothy
so it seethes in our delight.
Make my cup overflow
with your small happiness.
I want to hoot and snort and cackle and chuckle.
Let your laughter fill me like a bell.
Let me listen to your ringing and singing
as Billie Holiday croons above our heads.
Sorry, the blues are nowhere to be found.
Not tonight. Not here.
No makeup. No tears.
Only contours. Only curves.
Each sip takes back a pound,
each dry-roasted swirl takes our soul.
Can I have a refill, just one more?
Let the bitterness sink to the bottom of our lives.
Let us take this joy to go.


Date: 2014

By: January Gill O’Neil (19??- )

Thursday, 26 April 2018

The Unburied by M.R., N.Z. Headquarters

Now snowflakes thickly falling in the winter breeze
Have cloaked alike the hard, unbending ilex
And the grey, drooping branches of the olive trees,
Transmuting into silver all their lead;
And, in between the winding lines, in No-Man’s Land,
Have softly covered with a glittering shroud
The unburied dead.

And in the silences of night, when winds are fair,
When shot and shard have ceased their wild surprising,
I hear a sound of music in the upper air,
Rising and falling till it slowly dies–
It is the beating of the wings of migrant birds
Wafting the souls of these unburied heroes
Into the skies.

From: Bean, C.E.W. (ed.), The Anzac Book, 1916, Cassell & Company: London, p. 69.

Date: 1916

By: M. R., N.Z. Headquarters (fl. 1916)

Wednesday, 25 April 2018

Anzacs by Richard Horatio Edgar Wallace

The children unborn shall acclaim
The standard the Anzacs unfurled,
When they made Australasia’s fame
The wonder and pride of the world.

Some of you got a V.C.,
Some “the Gallipoli trot,”
Some had a grave by the sea,
And all of you got it damned hot,

And I see you go limping through town
In the faded old hospital blue,
And driving abroad—lying down,
And Lord I but I wish I were you I

I envy you beggars I meet,
From the dirty old hats on your head
To the rusty old boots on your feet—
I envy you living or dead.

A knighthood is fine in its way,
A peerage gives splendour and fame,
But I’d rather have tacked any day
That word to the end of my name.

I’d count it the greatest reward
That ever a man could attain
I’d sooner be “Anzac” than “Lord”
I’d rather be “Anzac” than “thane”.

Here’s a bar to the medal you’ll wear,
There’s a word that will glitter and glow,
And an honour a king cannot share
When you’re back in the cities you know,

The children unborn shall acclaim
The standard the Anzacs unfurled,
When they made Australasia’s fame
The wonder and pride of the world.


Date: 1916

By: Richard Horatio Edgar Wallace (1875-1932)

Tuesday, 24 April 2018

Ariburnu Savasi, Turkey, 25 April 2015 by Judith Brooks

‘I do not order you to fight; I order you to die.’
Lieutenant Colonel Mustafa Kemal Bey

I could tell you
we were farmers and strong enough
yet our skin chafed like a newborn’s might
caught red and hot against new wool
smelling of camphor like home
but soon stinking of sand and dust
as we bent our backs in this wild place
to scrape some shelter from the wrath to come.
Then we waited.
Some of us knelt for the prophet’s words
others dreamt of lemons and tea
while they watched the half moon
cross slowly through the night.

A mile away on still water men
smarted from their last adventure
cramped hot and itching into boats,
legs aching in the heavy dark
loaded with a soldier’s kit.
They groaned at sailor’s jokes
or dreamt of action like a postcard
in their pocket waiting for words,
or a game plan folded neatly
by a steady hand to count the hours,
while the sea air cooled their mouths
until they shivered and their lips tasted of salt.

They were fast across the beach.
Deaf to the song of bullets
or cries from the shallows
moving from crevice to crevice
upwards, swift as family ferrets
through sharp gullies
they ran onto a high ridge and shook hands
and laughed at the splendour of it all,
with the sea clear and blue below
and the morning golden all around
and all things true at last
so when the enemy called their names
they felt like men at a fair
surrounded by admirers,
lifting their rifles to hit all the ducks in a row.

They would not speak of prisoners shot for timely gain
They would not speak of surrender, no, never again.

Let me tell you this.
Our Sergeant drew his bayonet.
This is the last order he said
gentle as if he were feeding lambs.
Cleaning his hands across his chest
he divided the ammunition
in silence without sigh or lamentation
for we were now ghosts in a haunting tale,
standing thin as pastel shadows
to fall quietly in the brown light
till the sergeant led us out, shoulder to shoulder,
so calm flowed man through man
and bayonets fixed before us
was all the meaning we needed.

They would not speak of prisoners shot for timely gain
They would not speak of surrender, no, never again.

They were so surprised at death
it passed by without comment
like a cartoon of itself
urging the captain’s bloody face
to wake from his dream unaided
and command away the scent of wild thyme
and the sharp piping of bees
as they lay in open ground
with snipers pecking at their skin
and the bodies of mates warm beside them.
When the colonel arrived he was breathless,
a hooked fish gaping, but they read his gesture
and bit their tongues, turning elbows up
to roll down through sharp gravel
and prickly gorse back to the beach
where they would hear the wounded
and bridle at the clamour and confusion of defeat.

They would not speak of prisoners shot for timely gain
They would not speak of surrender, no, never again.

Kemal Bey was wordless and sat
on the canvas seat prepared for him
as if he would never rise.
And his officers stood uncertain
as he stared out to the western sea.
Then he spoke: remember this day, he said.
Remember this day.
And they said Amen.

From: Brooks, Judith. “Ode for an anniversary 1914-2014; The last day Wilfred Owen 4 November 1918; Ariburnu Savasi, Turkey, 25 April 1915” in Arena Magazine, No. 138, Oct/Nov 2015, 2015, Fitzroy, Victoria, pp. 41-42.

Date: 2015

By: Judith Brooks (1945- )

Monday, 23 April 2018

Philosophy of Games by Samuel Laman Blanchard

‘Life,’ said Tabby, taking snuff,
‘Life’s a game at Blindman’s Buff.’
‘True,’ said Tabby, ‘very true;
Death’s a game of Forfeits too.’

From: The Poetical Works of Laman Blanchard, 1876, Chatto and Windus: London, p. 272.

Date: 1836

By: Samuel Laman Blanchard (1804-1845)

Sunday, 22 April 2018

Lecture I from “The Pleader’s Guide” by John Anstey

This is from The Pleader’s Guide, a Didactic Poem in Two Parts: Containing Mr. Surrebutter’s Political Lectures on the Conduct of a Suit at Law, including the Arguments of Counsellor Bother’um, and Counsellor Bore’um, in an Action for Assault and Battery, betwixt John-a-Gull and John-a-Gudgeon.

Of legal Fictions, Quirks, and Glosses,
Attorneys’ gains, and Clients’ losses,
Of Suits created, lost, and won,
How to undo, and be undone;
Whether by Common Law, or Civil,
A man goes sooner to the Devil,;
Things which few mortals can disclose
In Verse, or comprehend in Prose,
I sing—do thou, bright Phoebus, deign
To shine for once in Chanc’ry-lane;
And, Clio, if your pipe you’ll lend
To Mercury, the Lawyer’s friend,
That Usher of the golden rod,
Of Gain and Eloquence the God,
Shall lead my steps with guidance sure,
Safe through the” palpable obscure,
And take my parchments for his labour
To cover your harmonious tabour.
“Pindus to wit“—or where you chuse,—
At Lincoln’s Inn, or Arethuse,
For Bards and Lawyers, both with ease,
May place the Venue where they please;
No matter where an action’s laid,
A Contract or a Poem made:
Is there a proud o’erbearing wight
Who tramples on his neighbour’s right,
Superior in his own opinion
To Lawyers, and the Law’s dominion?
Say, what compulsive mode of action .
Must give the injur’d, satisfaction;
What forms, what fictions must combine
To make the parties Issue join;
And better may enable those
Who draw their Pleas, or Briefs compose,
To hold the balance of success
With such precision and address,
That both the combat may sustain,
And neither the advantage gain;
But when ’tis o’er and judgment given,
The scales may prove so just and even,
That each may venture to make oath
The Law’s impartial to them both;
When both in rags their folly rue,
The Victor and the Vanquish’d too?

Hear then, and deign to be my readers,
Attorneys, Barristers, and Pleaders,
Shrieves, Justices, and Civil Doctors,
Surrogates, Delegates, and Proctors,
Grave Judges too, with smiles peruse
The sallies of a Lawyer’s Muse.
A buxom lass, who fain would make
Your sober sides with laughter shake;
And, good my Lords, be kind and gracious,
And, though You deem her contumacious,
Ne’er to the Fleet, or Bridewell send her,
But spare a ludicrous offender,
Who longs to make your muscles play,
And give your cheeks a holiday.

Hear me, ye Wits, and critics too,
And learned Dames in Stocking blue,
And you, ye Bards, my book who dip in,
In hopes to catch its Author tripping,
Some Mercy still, and Justice shew him,
And purchase ere you damn his Poem.

But chiefly thou, dear Job, my friend,
My kinsman to my verse attend;
By education form’d to shine
Conspicuous in the pleading line,
For you, from five years old to twenty,
Were cramm’d with Latin words in plenty,
Were bound apprentice to the Muses,
And forc’d with hard words, blows, and bruises,
To labour on Poetic ground,
Dactyls and Spondees to confound,
And when become in Fictions wise,
In Pagan histories and lies;
Were sent to dive at Granta’s cells,
For Truth in Dialectic wells,
There duly bound for four years more
To ply the Philosophic oar,
Points metaphysical to moot,
Chop logic, wrangle, and dispute;
And now, by far the most ambitious
Of all the sons of Begersdicius,
Present the Law with all the knowledge
You gather’d both at School and College.
Still bent on adding to your store
The graces of a Pleader’s lore;
And, better to improve your taste,
Are by your Parent’s fondness plac’d
Among the blest, the chosen few,
(BIest, if their happiness they knew,)
Who for three hundred guineas paid
To some great Master of the Trade,
Have, at his rooms, by special favour,
His leave to use their best endeavour
By drawing Pleas, from nine till four,
To earn him twice three hundred more;
And, after dinner, may repair
To ‘foresaid rooms, and then and there
Have ‘foresaid leave, from five till ten,
To draw th’ aforesaid Pleas again;
While thus your blissful hours run on
Till three improving years are gone,
Permit me, with these rhymes, awhile,
Your leisure moments to beguile,
And guide your bold advent’rous ways
Safe through that wide and pathless maze
Where Law and Custom, Truth and Fiction,
Craft, Justice, Strife, and Contradiction,
With every blessing of Confusion,
Quirk, Error, Quibble, and Delusion;
Are all, if rightly understood,
Conspiring for the public Good,
Like jarring Ministers of State,
‘Mid Anger, Jealousy, and Hate,
In friendly Coalition join’d,
To harmonize and bless mankind.

From: Anstey, John, The Pleader’s Guide, a Didactic Poem in Two Parts: Containing Mr. Surrebutter’s Political Lectures on the Conduct of a Suit at Law, including the Arguments of Counsellor Bother’um, and Counsellor Bore’um, in an Action for Assault and Battery, betwixt John-a-Gull and John-a-Gudgeon, the Seventh Edition, 1815, T. Cadell and W. Davies: London, pp. 3-12.

Date: 1796

By: John Anstey (17??-1819)

Saturday, 21 April 2018

In Promptu, written in 1779 by Christopher Anstey

You say, my Friend, that every day
Your company forsaking,
In quest of news I haste away,
The Morning Post to take in:

But if nor news nor sense it boast,
Which all the world agree in,
I don’t take in the Morning Post,
The Morning Post takes me in.

From: Anstey, Christopher and Anstey, John, The Poetical Works of the Late Christopher Anstey, Esq.; with Some Account of the Life and Writings of the Author, by his Son, John Anstey, Esq., 1808, T. Caddell and W. Davies: London, p. 361.

Date: 1779

By: Christopher Anstey (1724-1805)