Archive for April, 2020

Thursday, 30 April 2020

Walpurgis by Fiona Sampson

This after sunset summer
light is the closest
we can come
to the strangeness of a white
night its borrowed time

in which trees stand
motionless they
go blind without the sun
and on the hill a deer
coughs again

exploratory
in the June night as bats
veer between power lines
while someone’s radio
far downstream
might be illusion
as if sound misplaced
itself when everything
fell out of step
in the incomprehensible

bright dark and out
of the woods the festive
children could
come jiving and drumming
dressed for carnival.

From: https://www.newstatesman.com/culture/poetry/2020/01/walpurgis

Date: 2020

By: Fiona Sampson (1963- )

Wednesday, 29 April 2020

The Quiet Woman by Genevieve Taggard

I will defy you down until my death
With cold body, indrawn breath;
Terrible and cruel I will move with you
Like a surly tiger. If you knew
Why I am shaken, if fond you could see
All the caged arrogance in me,
You would not lean so boyishly, so bold,
To kiss my body, quivering and cold.

From: Taggard, Genevieve, For Eager Lovers, 1922, Thomas Seltzer: New York, p. [unnumbered].
(https://digital.library.upenn.edu/women/taggard/lovers/lovers.html)

Date: 1922

By: Genevieve Taggard (1894-1948)

Tuesday, 28 April 2020

To My Daughter Elizabeth by Mary Ann Hubbard Townsend Bigelow

Two flowers upon one parent stem
Together bloomed for many days,
At length a storm arose, and one
Was blighted, and cut down at noon.

The other hath transplanted been,
And flowers fair as herself hath borne;
She too has felt the withering storm,
Her strength’s decayed, wasted her form.

May he who hears the mourner’s prayer,
Renew her strength for years to come;
Long may He our Lilly spare,
Long delay to call her home.

But when the summons shall arrive
To bear this lovely flower away,
Again may she transplanted be
To blossom in eternity.

There may these sisters meet again,
Both freed from sorrow, sin, and pain;
There with united voices raise,
In sweet accord their hymns of praise;
Eternally his name t’ adore,
Who died, yet lives forevermore.

Weston, Jan. 3, 1852.

From: Bigelow, Mary Ann H. T., The Kings and Queens of England with Other Poems, 1853, S. K. Whipple and Company: Boston, pp. 19-20.
(https://books.google.com.au/books?id=cgs_AAAAYAAJ)

Date: 1852

By: Mary Ann Hubbard Townsend Bigelow (1792-1870)

Monday, 27 April 2020

The Date by Alex Skovron

Each war contains all earlier wars,
Canetti says. The Father considers this,
the Daughter minces past the compact disc
repository snaked out across the shelf next to the door,
tossing a cruel eye. Her lipstick clatters proudly
from her lips into her side-slung armoury,

the bustle slams into a sudden truce,
he stops the book.
Jammed on last night’s news
the video timer flashes, the frame waits paralysed:
a girl with blood on her lips, war in her eyes.

From: https://www.poetrylibrary.edu.au/poets/skovron-alex/poems/the-date-0121027

Date: 1999

By: Alex Skovron (1948- )

Sunday, 26 April 2020

Demobbed by Donald Henry Lea

And as no splendid vision came my way,
As soldier-men are apt to live ‒ from day to day ‒
I lived; and ate my rations, had my smoke,
With fear’s head (like an ostrich) hid in joke.
More oft with somewhat frank and lurid speech
Gibed at the joys of battle poets preach ‒
Strange ‘joy’ that lair’d with rats and fear,
Fled when a barrage fell so near, so near!
Then rest was mine, and rest and peace did bring
Transition and a self-examining;
How one had fail’d! The great became the small.
Walks humbleness my brothers with you all?
No idle curiosity doth bring
My pen to frame so blunt a questioning.

From: Ricketts, Harry, “’Fear’s head hid in joke’: Donald H. Lea and Alfred Clark, Two New Zealand First World War Poets” in New Zealand Literature, Vol. 33, No. 2, December 2015, pp. 59-60.
(https://search-informit-com-au.ezproxy-f.deakin.edu.au/documentSummary;dn=652525097687761;res=IELLCC)

Date: 1919

By: Donald Henry Lea (?1879-1960)

Saturday, 25 April 2020

An Epitaph by Charles Rischbieth Jury

You who shall come, exalt these childless dead
As your great fathers, from whose fire you are bred;
The dead beget you now, for now they give
Their hope of sons, that you, their sons, may live.

From: T.W.E., E.F.A.G. and D.L.S., Oxford Poetry 1918, 1918, B. H. Blackwell: Oxford, p. 35.
(https://archive.org/details/oxfordpoetry1918oxfouoft)

Date: 1918

By: Charles Rischbieth Jury (1893-1958)

Friday, 24 April 2020

The Meaning of War by Katherine Gallagher

(i.m. Robert Phelan)

I remember you, soldier-uncle
on your first leave.
1942. Your homecoming
had turned the house upside-down:
Just arrived from Milne Bay—1
no garlanded Hector arguing loud
against the waste, though we made you
our own hero for your lucky escapes.

At that stage, peace seemed further away
than forever: behind your eyes
was the pain of going back.
You tried jokes,
wagered your nine lives,
drew the mad, mad terror—
‘In the beginning, half the time
we bloody fought with axes.’

Fought with axes …
You were the first to teach me
the real meaning of war.

1. Milne Bay—Port in Paua New Guinea, from which the Japanese advance in the South Pacific was first halted in World War II.

From: https://www.poetrylibrary.edu.au/poets/gallagher-katherine/poems/the-meaning-of-war-0199023

Date: 1985

By: Katherine Gallagher (1935- )

Thursday, 23 April 2020

Snow White to the Prince by Delia (Cordelia Caroline) Sherman

I am beautiful you say, sublime,
Black and crystal as a winter’s night,
With lips like rubies, cabochon,
My eyes deep blue as sapphires.
I cannot blame you for your praise:
You took me for my beauty, after all;
A jewel in a casket, still as death,
A lovely effigy, a prince’s prize,
The fairest in the land.

But you woke me, or your horses did,
Stumbling as they bore me down the path,
Shaking the poisoned apple from my throat.
And now you say you love me, and would wed me
For my beauty’s sake. My cursed beauty.
Will you hear now why I curse it?
It should have been my mother’s — it had been,
Until I took it from her.

I was fourteen, a flower newly blown,
My mother’s faithful shadow and her joy.
I remember combing her hair one day,
Playing for love her tire-woman’s part,
Folding her thick hair strand over strand
Into an ebon braid, thick as my wrist,
And pinned it round and round her head
Into a living crown.
I looked up from my handiwork and saw
Our faces, hers and mine, caught in the mirror’s eye.
Twin white ovals like repeated moons
Bright amid our midnight hair. Our eyes
Like heaven’s bowl; our lips like autumn berries.
She frowned a little, lifted hand to throat.
Turned her head this way and then the other.
Our eyes met in the glass.

I saw what she had seen: her hair white-threaded,
Her face and throat fine-lined, her eyes softened
Like a mirror that clouds and cracks with age;
While I was newly silvered, sharp and clear.
I hid my eyes, but could not hide my knowledge.
Forty may be fair; fourteen is fairer still.
She smiled at my reflection, cold as glass,
And then dismissed me thankless.

Not long after the huntsman came, bearing
A knife, a gun, a little box, to tell me
My mother no longer loved me. He spared me, though,
Unasked, because I was too beautiful to kill.
And the seven little men whose house
I kept that winter and the following year,
They loved me for my beauty’s sake, my beauty
That cost me my mother’s love.

Do you think I did not know her,
Ragged and gnarled and stooped like a wind-bent tree,
Her basket full of combs and pins and laces?
Of course I took her poisoned gifts. I wanted
To feel her hands combing out my hair,
To let her lace me up, to take an apple
From her hand, a smile from her lips,
As when I was a child.

From: https://www.terriwindling.com/blog/2014/01/winter-poetry-challenge.html

Date: 1995

By: Delia (Cordelia Caroline) Sherman (1951- )

Wednesday, 22 April 2020

Guenivere in Prison by Theodora Goss

She clasped her hands, and she unclasped her hands.
She stood up, and she sat back down again.
She sighed and pushed back copper-colored strands
of hair, and sighed and listened to the rain.
The windows were barred; she stood and looked outside
between the bars, and saw the wet gray walls,
and wateched a lone bedraggled pigeon stride
the battlements, and trickling waterfalls
form from the turrets. The banners hung soaked and limp.
She set her white hands on the windowsill
and left them until they were cold and damp.
She closed her eyes. And then that pigeon stole,
boldly, while she snatched a somewhat rest,
two strands to make a copper-colored nest.

From: Goss, Theodora, Songs for Ophelia, 2020, Mythic Delirium Books: Roanoke, Virginia, p. [unnumbered].
(https://books.google.com.au/books?id=DA_cDwAAQBA)

Date: 2014

By: Theodora Goss (1968- )

Tuesday, 21 April 2020

In the Middle of the Road by Carlos Drummond de Andrade

In the middle of the road there was a stone
there was a stone in the middle of the road
there was a stone
in the middle of the road there was a stone.

Never should I forget this event
in the life of my fatigued retinas.
Never should I forget that in the middle of the road
there was a stone
there was a stone in the middle of the road
in the middle of the road there was a stone.

From: Milosz, Czeslaw (ed.), A Book of Luminous Things: An International Anthology of Poetry, 1998, A Harvest Book (Harcourt, Inc.): Orlando, p. 8.
(https://books.google.com.au/books?id=h2qsBYOcJfQC)

Date: 1930 (original in Portugese); 1965 (translated in English)

By: Carlos Drummond de Andrade (1902-1987)

Translated by: Elizabeth Bishop (1911-1979)