Archive for July, 2018

Tuesday, 31 July 2018

The Grasshoppers by Stesichorus

Day after day, and year by year,
Chattering, chirping, far and near,
Some Grasshoppers a house surround
And din the owner with the sound.
These grasshoppers delight in trees
To chirp and chatter at their ease:
So quoth our friend, “You villain vermin!
This nuisance I’ll at once determine:
Your Trees I’ll fell, and then you may
In humbler quarters sing away!”

Hush, Locrians! or far and near
Dwellings and Trees may disappear;
Then Grasshoppers, ill-omen’d sound,
Shall sing to You,—and from the ground.

From: Stesichorus and Bromhead, Edward Ffrench (ed. and transl.), The Remains of Stesichorus, in an English Version, 1849,  p. 23.

Date: 6th century BCE (original in Greek); 1849 (translation in English)

By: Stesichorus (c630 BCE-555 BCE)

Translated by: Edward Thomas Ffrench Bromhead (1789-1855)

Monday, 30 July 2018

Mind-Body Problem by Wayne Joshua Miller

When I touch your skin and goosebumps lift,
it’s your mind that surfaces there.
When your iris tightens mechanically
around your pupil, that aperture
becomes for me the blacked-out
cockpit of your mind.
It’s your mind
that touches your tongue to mine,
your mind that, when you’re driving,
lowers your hand to my thigh
almost mindlessly.
Your mind
like a pilot light inside your sleep,
your mind that beats your heart—
slower, then faster—infusion pump
in the chest, flooding your mind.

But your heart is not your mind.
The curve of your hip; the soft
skin of your wrist is not your mind.
The tumor growing in your brain
is just your brain, I say.
The shape
of your face; the sound of your voice,
which I love so much, is not your mind.
Your mind spills through—fire

I can’t stop watching from the far
side of this darkening valley.


Date: 2016

By: Wayne Joshua Miller (1976- )

Sunday, 29 July 2018

They Went Forth to Battle, but They Always Fell by Shaemas O’Sheel

They went forth to battle, but they always fell;
Their eyes were fixed above the sullen shields;
Nobly they fought and bravely, but not well,
And sank heart-wounded by a subtle spell.
They knew not fear that to the foeman yields,
They were not weak, as one who vainly wields
A futile weapon; yet the sad scrolls tell
How on the hard-fought field they always fell.

It was a secret music that they heard,
A sad sweet plea for pity and for peace;
And that which pierced the heart was but a word,
Though the white breast was red-lipped where the sword
Pressed a fierce cruel kiss, to put surcease
On its hot thirst, but drank a hot increase.
Ah, they by some strange troubling doubt were stirred,
And died for hearing what no foeman heard.

They went forth to battle but they always fell;
Their might was not the might of lifted spears;
Over the battle-clamor came a spell
Of troubling music, and they fought not well.
Their wreaths are willows and their tribute, tears;
Their names are old sad stories in men’s ears;
Yet they will scatter the red hordes.


Date: 1928

By: Shaemas O’Sheel (1886-1954)

Saturday, 28 July 2018

After Sunset by Thomas Henry Hall Caine

Vocal yet voiceless, lingering, lambent, white
With the wide wings of evening on the fell,
The tranquil vale, the enchanted citadel,—
Another day swoons to another night.
Speak low: from bare Blencathra’s purple height
The sound o’ the ghyll falls furled; and, loath to go,
A continent of cloud its plaited snow
Wears far away athwart a lake of light.

Is it the craft of hell that while we lie
Enshaded, lulled, beneath heaven’s breezeless sky,
The garrulous clangours and assoiled shows
Of London’s burrowing mazes haunt us yet?
City, forgive me: mother of joys and woes
Thy shadow is here, and lo! our eyes are wet.

From: Caine, T. Hall, “After Sunset” in The Athenæum, No. 2811, September 10, 1881, p. 336.

Date: 1881

By: Thomas Henry Hall Caine (1853-1931)

Friday, 27 July 2018

What is Happiness? by Joseph Brown Ladd

‘Tis an empty, fleeting shade,
By imagination made;
‘Tis a bubble, straw, or worse;
‘Tis a baby’s hobby-horse;
‘Tis a little living, clear;
‘Tis ten thousand pounds a year;
‘Tis a title; ’tis a name;
‘Tis a puff of empty fame,
Fickle as the breezes blow;
‘Tis a lady’s YES or NO:
And when the description’s crowned,
‘Tis just no where to be found.

From: Ladd, Joseph Brown, Chittenden, W. B. and Haskins, Elizabeth (ed.), The Literary Remains of Joseph Brown Ladd, M.D. Collected by his sister, Mrs. Elizabeth Haskins, of Rhode Island. To which is prefixed A Sketch of the Author’s Life, by W. B. Chittenden, 1832, H. C. Sleight: New York, p. 127.

Date: c1780

By: Joseph Brown Ladd (1764-1786)

Thursday, 26 July 2018

Fable: Of the Cock and the Fox by John Dennis

A Cock stood Sentry on a Tree,
A shrowd experienc’d creature He,
A damn’d arch Bird, as one shall see.
Him Renard in his rounds espy’d,
And near he drew, and thus he cry’d,
Why how now, Coz! do’st hear the News?
There’s now an universal Truce;
Which must be follow’d by a Peace,
War amongst Animals must cease.
Come down, and let me hug thee, Dear Rogue.
Thought Chanticleer, thou art a meer Rogue,
A damn’d false Dog as e’re told lye,
Ile shew thee a Dog trick by and by.
Friend Renard, this is glorious News,
Who could have hop’d for such a Truce.
And yet I doubt not but it’s true,
For look you hitherwards, come two
Tall hide-bound Curs, who doubtless bring
Expresses to confirm the thing.
The first with meager mien and Phys-grim,
Is he who in single fight slew Isgrim:
The other’s he with whom thy Sire
Did in a close embrace expire.
Full stretch along the plain they scower
And in a minute of an hour,
Will tell us how th’ affair has pass’d.
Ah! Plague and Pox upon their hast;
Cryes Renard, who ran scampering thence,
So scar’d h’ has ne’re left stinking since.
Thus was the wily Beast defeated:
‘Tis just the Cheater should be cheated.

There’s no Man more obnoxious to deceit,
Than an experienc’d, and successful Cheat;
For he presuming on his own address,
Draws deep Security from long Success.
He’s oft too vain, another to suspect,
Now Caution of suspicion is th’ Effect,
And only Caution can from Fraud protect.
Those Sharpers who by cheating throve so fast,
They thought t’ have topp’d upon the World at last;
Did on the sudden one Tarpawlin meet,
Who gull’d them of their Gold and of their Fleet.

From: Dennis, John, Miscellanies in Verse and Prose a Quote, 2004, Text Creation Partnership: Ann Arbor, Michigan and Oxford, pp. 111-113.

Date: 1693

By: John Dennis (1657-1734)

Wednesday, 25 July 2018

A Gentleman Seing his Brother Desirous to Goe to the Seas, Wrote these Verses Following, Unwitting to Any, and Layed Them in his Brothers Way by John Grange

True to see the raging of the seas,
When nothing may king Eolus wrath appease.
Boreas blastes asunder rendes our sayles:
Our tacklings breake, our ankers likewise fayles.
The surging seas, they battred have my shippe,
And eke mine oares avayle me not a chippe.
The ropes are slackte, the maste standes nothing strong:
Thus am I toste, the surging seas along.
The waves beate in, my barke to overflowe,
The rugged seas, my ship will overthrowe.
Yea, driven I am, sometimes against a Rocke,
Sometimes againe a Whale his backe I locke.
When Neptune thus, and Eol falles to stryfe,
Then stand I most in daunger of my lyfe.
And when the winde beginneth moste to rage,
Then out I caste (my barke for to asswage)
Each thing of waight, and then if sea at will
I chaunce to have, I lesse regard mine ill.
It shipwrack once, I suffer in my life,
Farewell my goodes, farewell my gentle wife.
Adewe my friendes, adewe my children all,
For nought prevayles, though on your helpe I call.
First goe I to the bottome of the seas,
And thrice I rise, but nothing for mine ease.
For why? at length, when last of all I fall,
My winde doth fayle, wherewith I burst my gall.
My body then, so full as it may be
With water store, then may each man me see
All borne alofte, amid the fomyng froth,
And dryven to lande, if Neptune waxeth wrothe.
But yet if so I cunnyng have to swimme,
When first I fall into the water brimme:
With streakyng armes and eke with playing feete,
My parte I play the water flouddes to grete.
And then perchaunce, some shippe comes sayling bye,
Whiche saves my life, if me they doe espie.
Perchaunce likewise I drowne before they come,
Perchaunce the crampe my feete it maketh numme.
If so it dothe, then sure I am to die,
In this distresse the sea will ayde denie.
Wherefore (I wishe) who well may live by lande,
And him forbid the sea to take in hande.

From: Grange, John, The golden Aphroditis a pleasant discourse, penned by John Grange Gentleman, student in the common lawe of Englande. Whereunto be annexed by the same authour aswell certayne metres upon sundry poyntes, as also divers pamphlets in prose, which he entituleth his Garden: pleasant to the eare, and delightful to the reader, if he abuse not the scente of the floures, 2003, Text Creation Partnership: Ann Arbor, Michigan and Oxford, pp. [unnumbered].

Date: 1577

By: John Grange (fl. 1577)

Tuesday, 24 July 2018

Sonnet: Oft on the Recollection Sweet I Dwell by Lorenzo de’ Medici

Oft on the recollection sweet I dwell,
Yea, never from my mind can aught efface
The dress my mistress wore, the time, the place,
Where first she fixed my eyes in rapture’s spell.

How she then looked, thou, Love, rememberest well,
For thou her side hast never ceased to grace,
Her gentle air, her meek, angelic face
The power of language and of thought excel.

As o’er the mountain peaks deep-clad in snow
Apollo pours a flood of golden light,
So down her snowy vesture streamed her hair:

The time and place how vain it were to show!
It must be day where shines a sun so bright,
And paradise where dwells a form so fair.

From: Strong, Charles (ed. and transl.), Specimens of Sonnets from the Most Celebrated Italian Poets; with Translations, 1827, John Murray: London, p. 11.

Date: c1480 (original in Italian); 1827 (translation in English)

By: Lorenzo de’ Medici (1449-1492)

Translated by: Charles Strong (1785-1864)

Monday, 23 July 2018

Woo Not the World by Muhammad ibn Abbad al-Mu’tamid

Woo not the world too rashly, for behold,
Beneath the painted silk and broidering,
It is a faithless and inconstant thing.
(Listen to me, Mu’tamid, growing old.)

And we— that dreamed youth’s blade would never rust,
Hoped wells from the mirage, roses from the sand —
The riddle of the world shall understand
And put on wisdom with the robe of dust.

From: ibn Abbad al-Mu’tamid, Muhammad and Smith, Dulcie Lawrence (transl.), Wisdom of the East: The Poems of Mu’tamid, King of Seville, 1915, John Murray: London, p. 54.

Date: 11th century (original in Arabic); 1915 (translation in English)

By: Muhammad ibn Abbad al-Mu’tamid (1040-1095)

Translated by: Dulcie Lawrence Smith (18??-19??)

Sunday, 22 July 2018

I Had Hoped to Keep Secret by Mibu no Tadami

I had hoped to keep secret
feelings that had begun to stir
within my heart,
but already rumours are rife
that I am in love with you.

From: MacMillan, Peter (ed. and transl.), One Hundred Poets, One Poem Each: A Treasury of Classical Japanese Verse, 2018, Penguin: London , p. 41.

Date: 10th century (original in Japanese); 2008 (translation in English)

By: Mibu no Tadami (10th century)

Translated by: Peter MacMillan (19??- )