Archive for April, 2019

Tuesday, 30 April 2019

Sonnet III by Charles Abraham Elton

It is the birth of spring; and as I pass
These hedge-rows, where in gems on every spray
The sprinkled verdure hands, and midst sloped grass
The star-like primrose clusters on my way;
The quicken’d sense inhales the season’s power;
The deep convictions that must ever be
Yield to the soothings of the balming hour,
That for the moment steals from memory
Its nutriment of poison. Oh most sweet
Illusion! that the spirit in the breast
Should for one moment from itself retreat
To outward pleasantness, and be at rest!
That leaf and flower should thus by stealth have wrought
Forgetfulness and peace—in spite of thought!

From: Elton, Charles A., The Brothers, A Monody; and Other Poems, 1820, Baldwin, Cradock, and Joy: London, p. 53.

Date: 1820

By: Charles Abraham Elton (1778-1853)

Monday, 29 April 2019

Women by Semonides of Amorgos

She from the steed of wanton mane
Shall spurn all servile toil and pain:
Nor shake the sieve, nor ply the mill
Nor sweep the floor, though dusty still,
Nor near the oven take her seat,
But loathe the ashes, smoke, and heat,
And to her husband profit naught,
Unless by sheer compulsion taught.
Twice, thrice she bathes her through the day,
Washing the slightest soil away;
Perfumes with oils her every limb,
Her tresses combs in order trim;
Tress upon tress, in thickening braid,
While twisted flowers her temples shade.
A goodly sight to strangers’ view,
But he that owns her sore shall rue
The cost I ween, unless he be
Satrap or king and joy in luxury.

Her from an Ape the Maker sent
Man’s evil mate and punishment.
Her visage foul, she walks the streets
The laughing-stock of all she meets.
Scarce her short neck can turn; all slim
And lank and spare; all leg and limb!
Wretched the man who in his breast
Is doomed to fold this female pest!
She, like the Ape, is versed in wiles
And tricking turns; she never smiles,
Obliges none; but ponders still
On mischief-plots and daily ill.

Who gains the creature from the Bee
By fortune favoured most is he:
To her alone, with pointless sting,
Would Scandal impotently cling.
With her his May of life is long;
His days are flourishing and strong.
Beloved, her fond embrace she twines
Round him she loves: with him declines
In fading years; her race is known
For goodly forms and fair renown.

Her decent charms her sex outshine:
Around her flits a grace divine.
She sits not pleased where women crowd,
In amorous tattle, light and loud:
With such the God mankind has blest;
With such the wisest and the best.

From: Miller, Marion Mills (ed.), The Greek Classics: Didactic and Lyric Poetry, Volume Three, 1909, Vincent Parke and Company: New York, pp. 100-101.

Date: 7th century BCE (original in Greek); 1814 (translation in English)

By: Semonides of Amorgos (7th century BCE)

Translated by: Charles Abraham Elton (1778-1853)

Sunday, 28 April 2019

These Mountains by Ion Corcos

In this still bay, limestone blue,
the fall of mountain steep with scree.

Clumps of hard grass grip the slope, shorn
like valleys I have seen in eastern Turkey.

Don’t tell the Greeks, don’t tell the Turks;
some of them at least. The far mountains,

covered in a haze of sun and clouds,
look like the Anatolia I have seen.

In this still bay, mountains rise,
while men sit around, drink coffee, complain;

until one day the earth trembles,
rips the land apart, and the mountains

sink into the sea.

Birds roost in caves, menace to keep their space,
until they too move on, or are banished.

We talk about this place, but we talk too much.
This place is about mountains, born from the sea,

from Venetians, Ottomans, Turks, Greeks;
everything that belongs to yesterday.

Everything that belongs to today.

One day a volcano exploded under the sea,
raised mountains. The volcano is still here.


Date: 2018

By: Ion Corcos (1969- )

Saturday, 27 April 2019

War by Richard Kelly Tipping

The idealists are being booed off the stage again.
The people want to hear the cynics and the cynics
want war. After this one there’s no before.
The war needs people but the people aren’t quite convinced
they want the war. A compromise at last:
send the idealists to fight!


Date: 1986

By: Richard Kelly Tipping (1949- )

Friday, 26 April 2019

Recruitment Officer at Harvest Time by Graham Kershaw

He scooped the cream, he picked the crop
harvesting the room of capable men
at country dances in Nineteen Fourteen,
peeking beneath rough shirt-sleeves
and dusty britches to the flower of youth
ripening: gleaming calves, stony chests
stacked tight into a row of faithful friends,
stiff-collared to a man, in common stubbornness.

Returning later, he gleaned the rest:
the dreamers, loungers, older men stiff of limb,
gathering them all in, taking their hand,
winning them over with his uniform, his gratitude
and manners, even the whisper of his trousers,
murmuring temptations to stand and link hands
like bashful girls in daisy chains, dancing
out of the room, into the harvest of distant tombs.


Date: 2012

By: Graham Kershaw (1961- )

Thursday, 25 April 2019

ANZAC Day by John Forbes

A certain cast to their features marked
the English going into battle, & then, that

glint in the Frenchman’s eye meant ‘Folks
clear the room!’ The Turks knew death

would take them to a paradise of sex
Islam reserves for its warrior dead

& the Scots had their music. The Germans
worshipped the State & Death, so for them

the Maximschlacht was almost a sacrament.
Recruiting posters made the Irish soldier

look like a saint on a holy card, soppy & pious,
the way the Yanks go on about their dead.

Not so the Australians, unamused, unimpressed
they went over the top like men clocking on,

in this first full-scale industrial war.
Which is why Anzac Day continues to move us,

& grow, despite attempts to make it
a media event (left to them we’d attend

‘The Foxtel Dawn Service’). But The March is
proof we got at least one thing right, informal,

straggling & more cheerful than not, it’s
like a huge works or 8 Hour Day picnic—

if we still had works, or unions, that is.


Date: 2002

By: John Forbes (1950-1998)

Wednesday, 24 April 2019

The Press of Other Lives by Panni Palásti (Eva Brown)

Like a leaf of grass
in a dense pasture
I am entwined in the tendrils
of other lives.
My roots tangle
with their roots.
My need for light
shares their need.
My reach for food
meets with their hunger.
I dream their dreams
and taste their tears.
Their faces may fade
on my night screen,
their cries smothered
by my remote,
but they echo,
claim and crowd me,
make me swallow
more than I can hold.


Date: 2016

By: Panni Palásti (Eva Brown) (1932- )

Tuesday, 23 April 2019

After Loos by Patrick MacGill

Was it only yesterday
Lusty comrades marched away?
Now they’re covered up with clay.

Seven glasses used to be
Called for six good mates and me —
Now we only call for three.

Little crosses neat and white,
Looking lonely every night,
Tell of comrades killed in fight.

Hearty fellows they have been,
And no more will they be seen
Drinking wine in Nouex les Mines.

Lithe and supple lads were they,
Marching merrily away —
Was it only yesterday?


Date: 1917

By: Patrick MacGill (1889-1963)

Monday, 22 April 2019

Rabbits are Nice Neighbors by Zilpha Keatley Snyder

Rabbits are nice neighbors,
Kindly and quiet.
They don’t bite mailmen,
Or make loud noises in the night.

Rabbits are ornamental,
Lop-eared and silky,
With long bouncy legs,
And noses that quiver.

And now and then—not often—
They deliver—

From: Livingston, Myra Cohn (ed.) and Wallner, John (illustr.), Easter Poems, 1985, Holiday House: New York, p. 10.

Date: ?1966

By: Zilpha Keatley Snyder (1927-2014)

Sunday, 21 April 2019

The Discipline of Craft, Easter Morning by Judith Harris

for John Easterly

No use going hunting for angels,
for a Christ in the tree-tops,
a Moses winding his way up the mount,
into the fire of God’s fresh stubble.

There is just a serious rain,
a steady crutch for the air,
colder than any April should be.

I am up to my neck in chores:
the cat needs more food,
my daughter’s clutter piles up like anthills.
I fold her little sleeves, ghost by ghost.
What melody springs from the heart so well?

These lone trees can’t be dazzled by sun today;
they have tremors like the pope’s.
Lost loons pitched into sky folds,
their crusty buds just blinking
as if to test how fierce the light is.

They sag and meander from their stems;
they bleed from transparency.
Needless or hopeless as overused fountains,
they are my metrics, my fortitude,
plants with lemony grass spigots
that will never go dry.


Date: 2006

By: Judith Harris (19??- )