Archive for May, 2019

Friday, 31 May 2019

Old Age by Anaxandrides

Ye gods! how easily the good man bears
His cumbrous honours of increasing years.
Age, Oh my father, is not, as they say,
A load of evils heap’d on mortal clay,
Unless impatient folly aids the curse
And weak lamenting makes our sorrows worse.
He whose soft soul, whose temper ever even,
Whose habits placid as a cloudless heaven,
Approve the partial blessings of the sky,
Smooths the rough road and walks untroubled by;
Untimely wrinkles furrow not his brow,
And graceful wave his locks of reverend snow.

From: Peter, William (ed.), Specimens of the Poets and Poetry of Greece and Rome, by Various Translators, 1847, Carey and Hart: Philadelphia, p. 197.

Date: 4th century BCE (original in Greece); 1807 (translation in English)

By: Anaxandrides (4th century BCE)

Translated by: John Herman Merivale (1779-1844)

Thursday, 30 May 2019

Death is Before Me Today by Anonymous

Death is before me today
like health to the sick
like leaving the bedroom after sickness.

Death is before me today
like the odor of myrrh
like sitting under a cloth on a day of wind.

Death is before me today
like the odor of lotus
like sitting down on the shore of drunkenness.

Death is before me today
like the end of the rain
like a man’s home-coming after the wars abroad.

Death is before me today
like the sky when it clears
like a man’s wish to see home after numberless years of captivity.

From: Washburn, Katharine and Major, John S. (eds.), World Poetry: An Anthology of Verse from Antiquity to Our Time, 1998, W. W. Norton & Company: New York and London, p. 16.

Date: c1900 BCE (original in Egyptian); 1968 (translation in English)

By: Anonymous

Translated by: William Stanley Merwin (1927-2019)

Wednesday, 29 May 2019

Mockingbird by Devin Johnston

We live each other’s death
and die each other’s life,
borrowing a cold flame
from sycamore in early leaf.
This morning, after heavy rain

the street erupts with birds:
grackles sharpen swords
and cedar waxwings strip
the vines, declaring love and war.
With tail cocked, I guard the stoop

from strangers, ill-at-ease.
As sunlight strikes a wheel,
I think as Sulla thought??
hostis, host and enemy
to every sound that swells my throat.


Date: 2005

By: Devin Johnston (1970- )

Tuesday, 28 May 2019

Dear Tourists by Johannes Göranson

Dear Tourists,

You can grope for moist souvenirs in the basement,
but you’ll need patience
because nobody down there will warn you about the floor.

In the street you’ll find squirrels; on my scalp, bumps.
If you want proof for the folks back home that you’ve surged
like a seagull, print your name and number in the bathroom.

If you want a seagull for a pet, talk to my therapist.
If you find her, tell me where she lives, and where her daughter
goes to school. If you want a piece of me, suck my dick.

If you want to sell trips to the general public, take my pulse
or my coffee-table picture-books about Italy.
If there’s a house in the trees, throw up a hammer

and see what falls down. The bleeding kid isn’t
the best prize and you can’t return it, so be careful where
you walk when you’ve had a few.

If there’s a nettle between your shoulder blades
and you’re having trouble breathing, tell the teacher,
but don’t tell her it was me cause it wasn’t.

I was just watching, maybe even laughing at your gurgling sounds.
That incident belongs to somebody else’s amusement park.
I don’t ever want to see it again on this side of the blunt tracks.


Date: 2008

By: Johannes Göranson (19??- )

Monday, 27 May 2019

Idealrelisation/My Hat by Henry Parland

Grimaces I

My hat
was run over
by a trolley yesterday.
This morning
my coat took a walk
to some place
far away.
This afternoon
my shoes
happened to get assassinated.
—I’m still here?
that’s just


Date: 1929 (original in Swedish); 2013 (translation in English)

By: Henry Parland (1908-1930)

Translated by: Johannes Göranson (19??- )

Sunday, 26 May 2019

Beehive by Jean Toomer

Within this black hive to-night
There swarm a million bees;
Bees passing in and out the moon,
Bees escaping out the moon,
Bees returning through the moon,
Silver bees intently buzzing,
Silver honey dripping from the swarm of bees
Earth is a waxen cell of the world comb,
And I, a drone,
Lying on my back,
Lipping honey,
Getting drunk with that silver honey,
Wish that I might fly out past the moon
And curl forever in some far-off farmyard flower.


Date: 1923

By: Jean Toomer (1894-1967)

Saturday, 25 May 2019

Introductory Remarks by Edmund Clerihew Bentley

The Art of Biography
Is different from Geography.
Geography is about Maps,
But Biography is about Chaps..

From: Clerihew, E., Biography for Beginners, Being a Collection of Miscellaneous Examples for the Use of Upper Forms, 1905, T. Werner Laurie: London, p. [unnumbered].

Date: 1905

By: Edmund Clerihew Bentley (1875-1956)

Friday, 24 May 2019

Ode to the Moon Under Total Eclipse by William Rowan Hamilton

(July, 1823)

[The Moon under total eclipse is not invisible, but appears of a dark red colour.]

O queen of yon ethereal plain,
With slow majestic step advancing,
‘Mid thy attendant starry train,
Thy subject waves beneath thee dancing;
As Dian moves through Delian shades
Above her circling Oread maids:
Why hath that crimson red
Thy lovely brow o’erspread —
Oh! wherefore that portentous gloom,
Eclipse, and shadow of the tomb?

II.— 1.
Say, is it but a passing cloud,
Far in some higher sphere,
Which thus around thee winds its shroud,
While all the heavens are clear;
While not a vapour nigh
Sullies the midnight sky;
While all the stars are brightly burning,
Each in his wonted orbit turning?

II.— 2.
Or wizard from his murky cell
Who bows thee to his power,
By magic word and mutter’d spell
In this, night’s witching hour?

II.— 3.
Or is it, as the sages say,
Versed in celestial lore,
Our earth, athwart light’s pathless way,
Which bars it from thy shore:
Whose shadowy cone, with noiseless pace
Through the infinity of space,
Hath darkly crossed thine orb on high,
And dimmed it to our wondering eye?

Ill.— 1.
On thee the nations gaze
With looks of wild amaze,
And anxious ask, what means the sign?
What dread disaster nigh,
Is boded by thine eye,
Low’ring with aspect thus malign?

Ill.— 2.
For ancient tales of terror say,
That still before some fatal day
Thou veilest thus thy blushing face;
Earthquake or famine, sword or fire,
Is menaced by that look of ire;
Ruin prepares to run his race:
Lo! in his widely whelming car,
He comes, the demon from afar,
Rushing with a whirlwind’s noise,
Trampling o’er prostrate hopes and joys
While, at his side, the ministers of fate
In silence seem his signal to await.

III.— 3.
‘Twas thus, O Moon! thy failing light,
When Athens’ army thought of flight
From that dark Sicilian shore,
To their distant country bore
The omen of her slaughter’d host,
Of coming woe and glory lost.

Such augury is in thy looks to-night:
And with awe mingled with a stern delight,
The warrior or the poet now
May gaze on thine ensanguined brow; —
But not the lover! all too rude,
It suits not with his milder mood;
Better he loves to look on thee
When shining in thy purity;
Clad in thy robe of virgin snow,
As thou wert an hour ago,
Or hid by fleecy clouds alone
That canopy yon azure throne.
And yet, to him all nature seems
Tinged with soft hues by fancy’s beams,
As distant rainbows beauty shed
On the rugged mountain head:
Then, though thy right be like the torch of war,
Still will I hail thee as the lover’s star!

From: The National Magazine and Dublin Literary Gazette, July to December, 1830, Volume 1, 1830, William Frederick Wakeman: Dublin, pp. 387-388.

Date: 1823

By: William Rowan Hamilton (1805-1865)

Thursday, 23 May 2019

Sonnet by Arthur Henry Hallam

A melancholy thought had laid me low;
A thought of self-desertion, and the death
Of feelings wont with my heart’s blood to flow,
And feed the inner soul with purest breath.
The idle busy star of daily life,
Base passions, haughty doubts, and selfish fears,
Have withered up my being in a strife
Unkind, and dried the source of human tears.
One evening I went forth, and stood alone
With Nature: moon there was not, nor the light
Of any star in heaven: yet from the sight
Of that dim nightfall better hope hath grown
Upon my spirit, and from those cedars high
Solemnly changeless, as the very sky.

Sept, 1830.

From: Hallam, Arthur Henry, The Poems of Arthur Henry Hallam, Together with his Essay on the Lyrical Poems of Alfred Tennyson, 1893, Elkin Mathews & John Lane: London, p. 69.

Date: 1830

By: Arthur Henry Hallam (1811-1833)

Wednesday, 22 May 2019

Sonnets, Written in the Highlands of Scotland, in the Year 1767: Sonnet I by Hugh Downman

Hence Sickness, nor about my weary head
Thy languid vapours wrap, and drooping wings
Better would’st thou thy baleful poison shed
In some dark cave where the Night-raven sings,
Where heavy fits the gloom-delighted Owl,
Where Aconite its loathsome juices throws;
Where dwells the Bat, and Serpents hissing foul,
With fell Despair, who never knows repose:
There drag the Caitiff Wretch, who hath betray’d
His trust, hath ruin’d innocence, or spilt
The sacred blood of him who gave him life;
Him torture Stern! nor will the lovely maid,
The sweet-eyed Mercy, conscious of his guilt,
Restrain thy hand, or blunt thy sharpen’d knife.

From: Downman, Hugh, Poems, 2008, University of Michigan Library: Ann Arbor, Michigan, pp. 74-75.

Date: 1767

By: Hugh Downman (1740-1809)