Archive for November, 2021

Tuesday, 30 November 2021

In the Shadow of Turning: Throwing Salt by Carolyn Marie Rodgers

Salt is what
it all becomes.
Salt always did make me crave
sugar. If I could have turned and
looked back, like Lot’s wife,
I never would have.
Turning is for other memories.

Memories are actually seasons
of homeless dreams.
The main event in life is something
we think we can plan, but can’t.
A nest or fishnet of categories. Of hunger.
A need river, running wild in every
imaginable direction.

It would have all been salt, and me,
craving sugar.


Date: 2007

By: Carolyn Marie Rodgers (1940-2010)

Monday, 29 November 2021

Run the Film Backwards by Sydney Bertram Carter

When I was eighty-seven
they took me from my coffin;
they found a flannel nightshirt
for me to travel off in.

All innocent and toothless
I used to lie in bed,
still trailing clouds of glory
from the time when I was dead.

The cruel age of sixty-five
put paid to my enjoyment;
I had to wear a bowler hat
and go to my employment.

But at the age of sixty
I found I had a wife.
And that explains the children.
(I’d wondered all my life.)

I kept on growing younger
and randier and stronger
till at the age of twenty-one
I had a wife no longer.

With min-skirted milkmaids
I frolicked in the clover;
the cuckoo kept on calling me
until me teens were over.

Then algebra and cricket
and sausages a-cooking,
and puffing at a cigarette
when teacher wasn’t looking.

The trees are getting taller,
the streets are getting wider.
My mother is the world to me;
and soon I’ll be inside her.

And now, it is so early,
there’s nothing I can see.
Before the world, or after?
Wherever can I


From: Kitchen, David (ed.), Axed Between the Ears: A Poetry Anthology, 1987, Heinemann Educational: Oxford, p. 1.

Date: 1969

By: Sydney Bertram Carter (1915-2004)

Sunday, 28 November 2021

Advent Days by Kate Seymour MacLean

The centuries grow old; one after one
The circle rounds into the perfect orb,
Forging the silver links that backward run
Along the twilight slopes of hoary time,
(Which the past darkness cannot quite absorb).
To that first day of Eden’s rosy prime,
When stars and seraphs, and the crystal spheres,
In the pure ether turning, sang the world’s first morn.
In music still the slow-revolving years
Turn in their silver chain, unheard of men,
Bringing the birthday of the world again, —
Bringing the infant Christ which should be born.

Once more bright angels gather in the sky,
And the dull ear of night awakes to hear
The far-off sound of heavenly pinions furled,
And glad hosannas singing sweet and clear —
Peace, peace on Earth— glory to God on high,
In the new birth-song of the ransomed world.
O day sublime to which all other days
Flow down convergent since earth’s days begun,
And all their separate and scattered rays,
Down the vast space, unmeasured of the sun —
The twilight of the ages— merge in one,
To kindle in these later alien skies
The white lamp of that earlier paradise!

From: MacLean, Kate Seymour, Advent Days and Poems of Remembrance, 1902, The Jackson Press: Kingston, p. [unnumbered].

Date: 1902

By: Kate Seymour MacLean (1829-1916)

Saturday, 27 November 2021

Stars by Patrick Lane

Those lights in the sky.
Little butterflies of the night,
little dreamers. Each time my lover
rises to walk in the early garden
I watch her from the window.
I cannot take my eyes from her.
See how she leans inside the dawn,
the cherry blossoms on her shoulders
as she touches the cat
who follows her everywhere, wanting
only to be with her
among the dark mosses.
How much light there is
in the high window of the night.
How I wait, knowing, for now
she comes to me,
her small feet wet with dew,
white as stars
in these last hours.


Date: 1995

By: Patrick Lane (1939-2019)

Friday, 26 November 2021

Lament by Robert Calverley Trevelyan

Once would I take the wings of the wild bird,
Joyous and swift and free,
Ascend to the uttermost heights of heaven, there
Where nought is heard
Save stars’ faint singing only,
Visit the foam of oceans vast and lonely,
Drear waves, ne’er
By sail yet whitened, broken by no prow.
O heart, proud heart, no more! ne’er as of old!
Lost is thy courage, failed thy strength, and thou
As death grown cold.

From: Trevelyan, R.C., The Bride of Dionysus, a Music-Drama, and Other Poems, 1912, Longmans, Green and Company: London, p. 61.

Date: 1912

By: Robert Calverley Trevelyan (1872-1951)

Thursday, 25 November 2021

The Fulness of Time by James Stephens

On a rusty iron throne
Past the furthest star of space
I saw Satan sit alone,
Old and haggard was his face;
For his work was done and he
Rested in eternity.

And to him from out the sun
Came his father and his friend
Saying, now the work is done
Enmity is at an end:
And he guided Satan to
Paradises that he knew.

Gabriel without a frown,
Uriel without a spear,
Raphael came singing down
Welcoming their ancient peer,
And they seated him beside
One who had been crucified.

From: Stephens, James, The Hill of Vision, 1912, Maunsel and Company: Dublin, p. 30.

Date: 1912

By: James Stephens (1880-1950)

Wednesday, 24 November 2021

Body and Soul by Metta Victoria Fuller Victor

A living soul came into the world—
⁠Whence came it? Who can tell?
Or where that soul went forth again,
⁠When it bade the world farewell?

A body it had, this spirit new,
⁠And the body was given a name,
And chance and change and circumstance
⁠About its being came.
Whether the name would suit the soul
⁠The givers never knew—
Names are alike, but never souls:
⁠So body and spirit grew,
Till time enlarged their narrow sphere
⁠Into the realms of life,
Into this strange and double world,
⁠Whose elements are at strife.

‘Twere easy to tell the daily paths
⁠Walked by the body’s feet,
To mark where the sharpest stones were laid,
⁠Or where the grass grew sweet;
To tell if it hungered, or what its dress,
⁠Ragged, or plain, or rare ;
What was its forehead—what its voice,
⁠Or the hue of its eyes and hair.

But these are all in the common dust;
⁠And the spirit—where is it?
Will any say if the hue of the eyes,
⁠Or the dress, for that was fit?
Will any one say what daily paths
⁠That spirit went or came—
Whether it rested in beds of flowers,
⁠Or shrunk upon beds of flame?
Can any one tell, upon stormy nights,
⁠When the body was safely at home,
Where, amid darkness, terror, and gloom.
⁠Its friend was wont to roam?
Where, upon hills beneath the blue skies.
⁠It rested soft and still,
Flying straight out of its half-closed eyes.
⁠That friend went wandering at will?

High as the bliss of the highest heaven.
⁠Low as the lowest hell.
With hope and fear it winged its way
⁠On journeys none may tell.

It lay on the rose’s fragrant breast,
⁠It bathed in the ocean deep,
It sailed in a ship of sunset cloud.
⁠And it heard the rain-cloud weep.
It laughed with naiads in murmurous caves.
⁠It was struck by the lightning’s flash.
It drank from the moonlit lily-cup.
⁠It heard the iceberg’s crash.

It haunted places of old renown.
⁠It basked in thickets of flowers;
It fled on the wings of the stormy wind.
⁠It dreamed through the star-lit hours,
Alas! a soul’s strange history
⁠Never was written or known,
Though the name and age of its earthly part
⁠Be graven upon the stone!

It hated, and overcame its hate—
⁠It loved to youth’s excess—
It was mad with anguish, wild with joy.
⁠It had visions to grieve and to bless;
It drank of the honey-dew of dreams,
⁠For it was a poet true;
Secrets of nature and secrets of mind,
⁠Mysteriously it knew.

Should mortals question its history.
⁠They would ask if it had gold—
If it bathed and floated in deeps of wealth—
⁠If it traded, and bought, and sold.
They would prize its worth by the outward dress
⁠By which its body was known:
As if a soul must eat and sleep.
⁠And live on money alone!

It had no need to purchase lands.
⁠For it owned the whole broad earth;
‘Twas of royal rank, for all the past
⁠Was its by right of birth.
All beauty in the world below
⁠Was its by right of love.
And it had a great inheritance
⁠In the nameless realms above.

It has gone! the soul so little known—
⁠Its body has lived and died—
Gone from the world so vexing, small:
⁠But the Universe is wide!

From: Coggeshall, William T. (ed.), Poets and Poetry of the West. The Poets and Poetry of the West: with Biographical and Critical Notes, 1860, Follett, Foster and Company: Columbus, pp. 520-521.

Date: 1860

By: Metta Victoria Fuller Victor (1831-1885)

Tuesday, 23 November 2021

Souvenir by Frances Auretta Fuller Victor

You ask me, “Do you think of me?”
⁠Dear, thoughts of thee are like this river,
Which pours itself into the sea,
⁠Yet empties its own channel never.

All other thoughts are like these sail
⁠Drifting the river’s surface over;
They veer about with every gale—
⁠The river keeps its course forever.

So deep and still, so strong and true,
⁠The current of my soul sets thee-ward,
Thy river I, my ocean you,
⁠And all myself am running seaward.

From: Victor, Frances Fuller, Poems, 1900, Authors Edition, p. 10.

Date: 1877

By: Frances Auretta Fuller Victor (1826-1902)

Monday, 22 November 2021

Life Inviolate by Edmund Beale Sargant

Seek not that part of me
Where access should be none;
For if thou hadst the key,
Then were I all undone.

Love that would all things own
Is close akin to hate;
God walks with each alone
And is inviolate.

From: Sargant, E.B., The Casket Songs and Other Poems, 1911, Longmans, Green, and Co: London, p. 84.

Date: 1911

By: Edmund Beale Sargant (1855-1938)

Sunday, 21 November 2021

Reply: I by Ronald Ross

This day relenting God
Hath placed within my hand
A wondrous thing; and God
Be praised. At His command,

Seeking His secret deeds
With tears and toiling breath,
I find thy cunning seeds,
O million-murdering Death.

I know this little thing
A myriad men will save.
O Death, where is thy sting?
Thy victory, O Grave?

    August 21, 1897*

*Ronald Ross received the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine in 1902 for his work in discovering the mosquito parasite responsible for the transmission of malaria. He wrote this poem the day after he discovered the parasite.

From: Ross, Ronald, Philosophies, 1923, John Murray: London, p. 53.

Date: 1897

By: Ronald Ross (1857-1932)