Archive for ‘General’

Wednesday, 1 April 2020

Calmly We Walk through This April’s Day by Delmore Schwartz

Calmly we walk through this April’s day,
Metropolitan poetry here and there,
In the park sit pauper and rentier,
The screaming children, the motor-car
Fugitive about us, running away,
Between the worker and the millionaire
Number provides all distances,
It is Nineteen Thirty-Seven now,
Many great dears are taken away,
What will become of you and me
(This is the school in which we learn …)
Besides the photo and the memory?
(… that time is the fire in which we burn.)

(This is the school in which we learn …)
What is the self amid this blaze?
What am I now that I was then
Which I shall suffer and act again,
The theodicy I wrote in my high school days
Restored all life from infancy,
The children shouting are bright as they run
(This is the school in which they learn …)
Ravished entirely in their passing play!
(… that time is the fire in which they burn.)

Avid its rush, that reeling blaze!
Where is my father and Eleanor?
Not where are they now, dead seven years,
But what they were then?
No more? No more?
From Nineteen-Fourteen to the present day,
Bert Spira and Rhoda consume, consume
Not where they are now (where are they now?)
But what they were then, both beautiful;

Each minute bursts in the burning room,
The great globe reels in the solar fire,
Spinning the trivial and unique away.
(How all things flash! How all things flare!)
What am I now that I was then?
May memory restore again and again
The smallest color of the smallest day:
Time is the school in which we learn,
Time is the fire in which we burn.


Date: 1938

By: Delmore Schwartz (1913-1966)

Alternative Title: For Rhoda

Monday, 30 March 2020

Majestic Valley by Chu Yi-tsun

Birds become frightened when the mountain moon sets;
Trees stand still when the valley wind dies.
When the monastery drum rolls through the deep forest,
The hermit monks have already prepared their meal.

From: Liu, Wu-chi and Lo, Irving Yucheng (eds.), Sunflower Splendor: Three Thousand Years of Chinese Poetry, 1990, Indiana University Press: Bloomington and Indianopolis, p. 476.

Date: 17th century (original in Chinese); ?1958 (translation in English)

By: Chu Yi-tsun (1629-1709)

Translated by: Yangulaoren (1867-1941) and Lewis Calvin Walmsley (1897-1998)

Tuesday, 3 March 2020

Forgetfulness by Karinna Alves Gulias

What a concern

To merge with death from the ear-shape
truth –
Death is like a tree growing inside us slowly
The roots pulsing nearer to our ears

When the ground swallows us from the stomach
all this data will become sand
Sand to the camels and to the horses
Sand to the turtles and to the seas
as if the water was time

The riches will survive the fables
Time to change moods
truce –
Wet all the turtles will follow the sun
and cannot change it

Wet all the turtles will follow the sun
and cannot change it
Feel the stomach
turning a déjà vu.

Sure of a carapace
System of leaves to cover your heart
Mirror of a tree crown swimming as well

The beauty of a sparkle
and the ugliness of choices – one

Time could carry our weight
if only we could paint dice
to wait on the windowsill
Wait for a guest
Wait for a moment of your pride
or patience
And let it be
Dusty or kept

Choice of an arm
reaching as far as your hands can touch your face

Do you cry or rest.


Date: 2013

By: Karinna Alves Gulias (1983- )

Sunday, 23 February 2020

Lines 275-298 [Eros Shoots Medea] from “Book 3: The Tale of the Argonauts” by Apollonius of Rhodes

But Eros the while through the mist-grey air passed all unseen
Troubling them, even as heifers that hear the piping keen
Of the gadfly — ‘the breese’ do the herders of oxen name the thing.
In the forecourt beneath the lintel swiftly his bow did he string :
From his quiver took he a shaft sigh-laden, unshot before :
With swift feet all unmarked hath he passed the threshold o’er,
Keen-glancing around : he hath glided close by Aison’s son:
He hath grasped the string in the midst, and the arrow-notch laid thereon.
Straightway he strained it with both hands sundered wide apart,
And he shot at Medea ; and speechless amazement filled her heart.
And the God himself from the high-roofed hall forth-flashing returned
Laughing aloud. Deep down in the maiden’s bosom burned
His arrow like unto flame; and at Aison’s son she cast
Side-glances of love evermore ; and panted hard and fast
‘Neath its burden the heart in her breast, nor did any remembrance remain
Of aught beside, but her soul was melted with rapturous pain.
And as some poor daughter of toil, who hath distaff ever in hand,
Heapeth the slivers of wood about a blazing brand
To lighten her darkness with splendour her rafters beneath, when her eyes
Have prevented the dawn; and the flame, upleaping in wondrous wise
From the one little torch, ever waxing consumeth all that heap;
So, burning in secret, about her heart did he coil and creep,
Love the destroyer: her soft cheeks’ colour went and came,
Pale now, and anon, through her soul’s confusion, with crimson aflame.

From: Apollonius and Way, Arthur Sanders (transl.), The Tale of the Argonauts, 1901, J. M. Dent and Co: London, pp. 101-102.

Date: 3rd century BCE (original in Greek); 1901 (translation in English)

By: Apollonius of Rhodes (3rd century BCE)

Translated by: Arthur Sanders Way (1847-1930)

Thursday, 6 February 2020

The Properties of a Good Greyhound attributed to Juliana Berners

A greyhound should be headed like a Snake,
And necked like a Drake,
Footed like a Cat,
Tailed liked a Rat,
Sided like a Team,
Chined like a Beam.

The first year he must learn to feed,
The second year to field him lead,
The third year he is fellow-like,
The fourth year there is none sike,
The fifth year he is good enough,
The sixth year he shall hold the plough,
The seventh year he will avail
Great bitches for to assail,
The eighth year lick ladle,
The ninth year cart saddle,
And when he is comen to that year
Have him to the tanner,
For the best hound that ever bitch had
At nine year he is full bad.


Date: 1486 (published)

By: Juliana Berners (1388-14??)

Wednesday, 5 February 2020

Mountain Twilight by William Renton

The hills slipped over each on each
Till all their changing shadows died.
Now in the open skyward reach
The lights grow solemn side by side.
While of these hills the westermost
Rears high his majesty of coast
In shifting waste of dim-blue brine
And fading olive hyaline;
Till all the distance overflows,
The green in watchet and the blue
In purple. Now they fuse and close –
A darkling violet, fringed anew
With light that on the mountains soar,
A dusky flame on tranquil shores;
Kindling the summits as they grow
In audience to the skies that call,
Ineffable in rest and all
The pathos of the afterglow.


Date: 1893

By: William Renton (fl. 1852-1905)

Tuesday, 4 February 2020

Darwin and the Wasp – A Sceptic’s Sestina by Camille Ralphs

Ichneumonidae, hymenoptera: leaded-glass
wings, inkblot thorax bruised with words
of doubt. A tract that no religious man –
when Paley’s prose dictates there is a God –
would ever read aloud, or dare to whisper.
It looks out, alive, through warm amoral eyes.

Darwin, beard of moths and fossil eyes,
sips chai tea from a crystal glass.
Pushing along his pen’s soft whisper
he sows his page with words.
The summer air’s abuzz with breath of God.
The garden is a world to such a man.

And so it is that such a man
should see among the shrubs, with pious eyes,
the ichneumon wasp – the scythe-tailed God
and Reaper to the worms. He drains his glass,
and kneels before the plants. He finds no words
he comprehends within its sinner’s whisper;

his heartbeat trills a devil’s whisper.
He reaches out a hand, like a beaten man.
The ichneumon alights; he’s lost for words.
Its legs are bars around his wedding ring. “I…”
He stops, confused. He overturns his glass
to trap the wasp, observing like a god.

“…I know not what good-hearted God
would work to this design,” he whispers.
A straining larva lies outside the glass
and with cruellest curiosity of Man
he pushes it beneath, with narrowed eyes.
He scribbles something – incoherent words –

and the wasp translates these words
to wings, swaps death for life – a swindler god –
sets upon its life-warm host with hard maternal eye –
abdomen throbbing, legs a warning whisper –
packs the flesh with eager eggs, paralysing man
and worm. Its body’s a syringe of black glass.

A cynic’s eye outside the crystal glass
blinks out, fatal, “there is no God but Man” –
irrevocable words – a new wasp’s foetal whisper.


Date: 2012

By: Camille Ralphs (19??- )

Sunday, 17 November 2019

The New Roof: A Song for Federal Mechanics by Francis Hopkinson

Come muster, my lads, your mechanical tools,
Your saws and your axes, your hammers and rules;
Bring your mallets and planes, your level and line,
And plenty of pins1 of American pine:
For our roof we will raise, and our song still shall be,
Our government firm, and our citizens free.

Come, up with the plates2, lay them firm on the wall,
Like the people at large, they’re the ground work of all;
Examine them well, and see that they’re sound,
Let no rotten parts in our building be found:
For our roof we will raise, and our song still shall be,
A government firm, and our citizens free.

Now hand up the girders3; lay each in his place,
Between them the joists4, must divide all the space;
Like assemblymen, these should lie level along,
Like girders, our senate prove loyal and strong:
For our roof we will raise, and our song still shall be,
A government firm, over citizens free.

The rafters now frame—your king-posts5 and braces6,
And drive your pins home, to keep all in their places;
Let wisdom and strength in the fabric combine,
And your pins be all made of American pine:
For our roof we will raise, and our song still shall be,
A government firm, over citizens free.

Our king-posts are judges—how upright they stand,
Supporting the braces, the laws of the land;
The laws of the land, which divide right from wrong,
And strengthen the weak, by weak’ning the strong:
For our roof we will raise, and our song still shall be,
Laws equal and just, for a people that’s free.

Up! Up with the rafters7—each frame is a state;
How nobly they rise! their span, too, how great!
From the north to the south, o’er the whole they extend,
And rest on the walls, whilst the walls they defend:
For our roof we will raise, and our song still shall be
Combined in strength, yet as citizens free.

Now enter the purlins8,
and drive your pins through,
And see that your joints are drawn home, and all true.
The purlins will bind all the rafters together;
The strength of the whole shall defy wind and weather:
For our roof we will raise, and our song still shall be,
United as states, but as citizens free.

Come, raise up the turret9—our glory and pride;
In the center it stands, o’er the whole to preside:
The sons of Columbia10 shall view with delight
Its pillars and arches, and towering height:
Our roof is now rais’d, and our song still shall be,
A federal head, o’er a people still free.

Huzza! my brave boys, our work is complete,
The world shall admire Columbia’s fair seat;
Its strength against tempest and time shall be proof,
And thousands shall come to dwell under our ROOF.
Whilst we drain the deep bowl, our toast still shall be
Our government firm, and our citizens free.

1.         Pins – nails.
2.         Plates – horizontal structural load-bearing members of a frame wall supporting ceiling joits, rafters or other members.
3.         Girders – Large or principal beams of wood or steel used to support concentrated loads at isolated points along its length.
4.         Joists – wooden planks that run parallel to one another and support a floor or ceiling, and supported in turn by larger beams, girders, or bearing walls.
5.         King-posts – Vertical framing members usually designed to carry beams.
6.         Braces – inclined pieces of framing lumber applied to wall of floor to strengthen the structure.
7.         Rafters – lumber used to support the roof sheeting and roof loads.
8.         Purlins – support for rafters.
9.         Turret – tower.
10.       Columbia – USA.
(building terms from
Dictionary of Construction Terminology –


Date: 1787

By: Francis Hopkinson (1737-1791)

Sunday, 27 October 2019

Spell to Banish Fear by Jeni Couzyn

By the warmth of the sun
By the baby’s cry
By the lambs on the hill
I banish thee.

By the sweetness of the song
By the warm rain falling
By the hum of grass

From: Fisher, Robert (ed.), Witch Words: Poems of Magic and Mystery, 1987, Faber and Faber: London, p. 13.

Date: 1977

By: Jeni Couzyn (1942- )

Saturday, 5 October 2019

Scarecrow by Fady Joudah

The rice field birds are too clever for scarecrows,
They know what they love, milk in the grain.

When it happens, there will be no time to look for anyone.
Husband, children, nine brothers and sisters.

You will drop your sugarcane-stick-beating of plastic bucket,
Stop shouting at birds and run.

They will pack you in trucks or herd you for a hundred miles.
Old men will teach you trade with soldiers at checkpoints.

You will give them your spoon, blanket and beans,
They’ll let you keep your life. And if you jump off the truck,

The army jeep trailing it will run you over.
Later, they will accuse you of giving up your land.

Later, you will stand in distribution lines and won’t receive enough to eat.
Your mother will weave you new underwear from flour sacks.

And they’ll give you plastic tents, cooking pots,
Vaccine cards, white pills, and wool blankets.

And you will keep your cool.
Standing with eyes shut tight like you’ve got soap in them,

Arms stretched wide like you’re catching rain.


Date: 2008

By: Fady Joudah (1971- )