Archive for ‘General’

Monday, 4 February 2019

The Infant Medusa by Thomas Gordon Hake

By Poseidon

I loved Medusa when she was a child,
Her rich brown tresses heaped in crispy curl
Where now those locks with reptile passion whirl,
By hate into dishevelled serpents coiled.
I loved Medusa when her eyes were mild,
Whose glances, narrowed now, perdition hurl,
As her self-tangled hairs their mass unfurl,
Bristling the way she turns with hissings wild.

Her mouth I kissed when curved with amorous spell,
Now shaped to the unuttered curse of hell,
Wide open for death’s orbs to freeze upon;
Her eyes I loved ere glazed in icy stare,
Ere mortals, lured into their ruthless glare,
She shrivelled in her gaze to pulseless stone.

From: Hake, Thomas Gordon, The Poems of Thomas Gordon Hake selected with a Prefatory Note by Alice Meynell and a Portrait by Dante Gabriel Rosetti, 1894, Elkin Mathews and John Lane: London, p. 28.

Date: 1887

By: Thomas Gordon Hake (1809-1895)

Thursday, 24 January 2019

I Must Be A God by Gregory Fraser

just look how the whole Atlantic sprays my feet with kisses
a god
or a matador at least
sidestepping month after month
charges of the two-horned moon

I might have been one of those unfortunates forced
to live below a sky without color or cloud
under a flaming cipher

or one of the innocents torn from their beds like crabmeat from shells

Something always clued me though
when to hide or run
and you see
I had the patience of a cathedral step

Were I a pebble I would disturb your window
bearing words of apologetic longing

I am not

Were I mud clinging to a bank afraid of drowning
I would cry out for chivalrous compassion

I must be a god

A nameless weight kin to love loss slows the blood of many

but look at the overjoy of thrashers
my state birds
rushing toward me

Even in my absence they hurtle toward the big bay
windows of my twice
mortgaged temple

and leave as offerings head feathers stuck to the glass!


Date: 2014

By: Gregory Fraser (19??- )

Wednesday, 23 January 2019

The Liberal Christ Gives an Interview by Adrian Mitchell

I would have walked on the water
But I wasn’t fully insured
And the BMA sent a writ my way
With the very first leper I cured.

Would’ve preached a golden sermon
But I didn’t like the look of the Mount
And I would’ve fed fifty thousand
But the Press wasn’t there to count.

And the businessmen in the temple
Had a team of coppers on the door
And if I’d spent a year in the desert
I’d have lost my pension for sure.

I would’ve turned the water into wine
But they weren’t giving licences
And I would have died and been crucified
But like – you know how it is.

I’m going to shave off my beard
And cut my hair
Buy myself some bullet-proof
I’m the Liberal Christ
And I’ve got no blood to spare.


Date: 1967

By: Adrian Mitchell (1932-2008)

Sunday, 20 January 2019

The Female Drum: or, The Origin of Cards. A Tale Address’d to the Honourable Miss Carpenter by Henry Hervey Aston

Thou, whom to counsel is to praise,
With candor view these friendly lays,
Nor from the vice of gaming free,
Believe the satire points at thee;
Who truth and worth betimes can’st prize,
Nor yet too sprightly to be wise,
But hear this tale of ancient time,
Nor think it vain, tho’ told in rhyme.
Elate with wide-extended pow’r,
Sworn rivals from the natal hour,
AV’RICE and SLOTH, with hostile art
Contended long for woman’s heart;
She fond of wealth, afraid of toil,
Still shifted the capricious smile;
By turns, to each the heart was sold,
Now bought with ease, and now with gold;
Scarce either grasp the sov’reign sway,
When chance revers’d the prosp’rous day.
The doubtful strife was still renew’d,
Each baffled oft, but ne’er subdu’d;
When AV’RICE shew’d the glitt’ring prize,
And hopes and fears began to rise,
SLOTH shed on ev’ry busy sense
The gentle balm of indolence.
When SLOTH had screen’d, with artful night,
The soft pavilion of delight;
Stern AV’RICE, with reproachful frown,
Would scatter thorns amongst her down.
Thus each by turns the realm controul’d,
Which each in turn despair’d to hold;
At length unable to contend,
They join to chuse a common friend,
To close in love the long debate,
Such love, as mutual fears create;
A friend they chose, a friend to both,
Of AV’RICE born, and nurs’d by SLOTH;
An artful nymph, whose reign began
When Wisdom ceas’d to dwell with man;
In Wisdom’s aweful robes array’d,
She rules o’er politicks and trade;
And by the name of CUNNING known,
Makes wealth, and fame, and pow’r her own.
In quest of CUNNING then they rove
O’er all the windings of the grove,
Where twining boughs their shade unite,
For CUNNING ever flies the light;
At length thro’ maze perplex’d with maze,
Through tracts confus’d, and private ways,
With sinking hearts and weary feet,
They gain their fav’rite’s dark retreat;
There, watchful at the gate, they find
SUSPICION, with her eyes behind;
And wild ALARM, awaking, blows
The trump that shakes the world’s repose.
The guests well known, salute the guard,
The hundred gates are soon unbarr’d;
Through half the gloomy cave they press,
And reach the wily queen’s recess;
The wily queen disturb’d, they view,
With schemes to fly, though none pursue;
And, in perpetual care to hide,
What none will ever seek, employ’d.
“Great queen (they pray’d) our feuds compose,
“And let us never more be foes. ”
“This hour (she cries) your discord ends,
“Henceforth, be SLOTH and AV’RICE friends;
“Henceforth, with equal pride, prepare
“To rule at once the captive fair.”
Th’ attentive pow’rs in silence heard,
Nor utter’d what they hop’d or fear’d,
But search in vain the dark decree,
For CUNNING loves obscurity;
Nor wou’d she soon her laws explain,
For CUNNING ever joys to pain.
She then before their wond’ring eyes,
Bid piles of painted paper rise;
“Search now these heaps, (she cries) here find
“Fit emblem of your pow’r combin’d. ”
The heap to AV’RICE first she gave,
Who soon descry’d her darling Knave:
And SLOTH, ere Envy long cou’d sting,
With joyful eyes beheld a King,
“These gifts (said CUNNING) bear away,
“Sure engines of despotick sway;
“These charms dispense o’er all the ball,
“Secure to rule where’er they fall.
“The love of cards let SLOTH infuse,
“The love of money soon ensues;
“The strong desire shall ne’er decay,
“Who plays to win, shall win to play;
“The breast, where love has plann’d his reign,
“Shall burn, unquench’d, with lust of gain;
“And all the charms that wit can boast,
“In dreams of better luck be lost. ”
Thus neither innocent, nor gay,
The useless hours shall fleet away,
While TIME o’erlooks the trivial strife,
And, scoffing, shakes the sands of life;
Till the wan maid, whose early bloom
The vigils of quadrille consume;
Exhausted, by the pangs of play,
To SLOTH and AV’RICE falls a prey.


Date: 1758

By: Henry Hervey Aston (1701-1748)

Wednesday, 16 January 2019

A.N. to Niccolò de Facina of Vicenza, who suspected that she had not composed the poem she sent to him, but had borrowed it from elsewhere by Angela Nogarola

It does not please me to place others’ clothes
On my limbs and to circle my arms with another’s
Light feathers: I know the story of the painted crow.
Nor do I care to mount the praises for virtue
and to ascribe the laurels of the ancient poets to myself.
I have modesty and love of virtue and decorum of thought.
But no wonder moves my mind, that (the lines)
are not thought by anyone (?) to have been forged by my bellows
and are denied to have been made in my ancestral…
For the cohorts of women begin their practice,
because in modern times it is said no women has tasted
the Gorgons’ waters and heard the learned sisters,
But Nature, creator of all with equal reason,
you are said to form the male and female soul equally
and are accustomed to infuse them with equal minds.
Therefore, you do not need, O woman, to call on the ancient poets.
Nature’s gift has endowed both sexes.

From: Parker, Holt N., “Angela Nogarola (ca. 1400) and Isotta Nogarola (1418-1466): Thieves of Language” in Churchill, Laurie J., Brown, Phyllis R. and Jeffrey, Jane E., Women Writing Latin: From Roman Antiquity to Early Modern Europe, Volume 3, Early Modern Women Writing Latin, 2002, Routledge: New York, p. 25.

Date: c1400 (original in Latin); 2002 (translation in English)

By: Angela Nogarola (1380-1436)

Translated by: Holt N. Parker (1956- )

Tuesday, 15 January 2019

In My Garden by Ōtomo no Tabito

In my garden
plum blossoms fall—
or is not rain
but snow, cast down
from the sky?

From: Addiss, Stephen, The Art of Haiku: Its History Through Poems and Paintings by Japanese Masters, 2012, Shambhala Publications: Boston, p. 17.

Date: c8th century (original in Japanese); 1995 (translation in English)

By: Ōtomo no Tabito (665-731)

Translated by: Edwin Augustus Cranston (1932- )

Tuesday, 8 January 2019

The Bat—A Simile by Elizabeth Knipe Cobbold (Carolina Petty Pasty)

Frail child of earth! to whom is given
To soar with habitants of heaven,
And court, in air, the still serene
Of twilight’s deep and soften’d scene;
When purple pomps the clouds invest,
From rays that linger in the west,
And massy shadows, dark and vast,
Their veil sublime, o’er nature cast;
What time, from pale and timid flow’rs,
Sabæan ordors scent the bow’rs,
O then ’tis thine, with rapid flight,
To mock the quick and anxious sight,
Whose speculation seeks to trace
Thy arrowy path, thy flitting grace,
That, like the meteor of the sky,
Scarce paints a form upon the eye;
Now seen, now lost, with magic pow’r,
The spirit of the mystic hour!
But placed with those of equal birth,
To walk the common track of earth,
Poor feeble thing of cumbrous form,
Thou crawlst more helpless than the worm,
The blisses thy congeners try,
Scarce given to taste, much less enjoy!
How oft has fancy smil’d to see,
Some son of genius shewn in thee!
His flight, unsearchable as thine,
Eludes the glance of vulgar eyne,
As rais’d from earth, on pinion sure
He cleaves the palpable obscure;
Or flitting through the dusky glade
Enjoys sublimity in shade;
Breathes odors richer far than those
That day elicits from the rose,
And peoples all the shadowy space
With visions of immortal grace.
But check his stretch’d and soaring wing;
His pow’rs to common habits bring;
Place him on earth, and bid him then
Associate with his fellow men;
You’ll find him, spite of all his boast,
So awkward, helpless, poor and lost,
That, if possest of mere good nature,
In pity to the dubious creature,
With flattery’s aid you’ll kindly try
To help him, once again, to fly.
Here let no scornful eagle cry,
“Avaunt! Intruder on the sky;”
Nor fellow quadruped, with spite,
Deride the short, and hasty flight;
Lest, driv’n from earth, expell’d from air,
Of mousing owl, with critic stare,
That shrinks from candor’s steady ray,
The BAT become the midnight prey.

From: Cobbold, Elizabeth, Poems: With a Memoir of the Author, 1825, J. Raw: Ipswich, UK, pp. 163-165.

Date: 1823

By: Elizabeth Knipe Cobbold (Carolina Petty Pasty) (1765-1824)

Tuesday, 1 January 2019

Starlight Grey by Ian Gibbins

At last, we strip off our wall-paper skins,
don brocade wedding gowns in readiness
for our year’s end resolution of untested hypotheses.

With tiger sharks looming in murky shallows,
viable financial propositions have failed to materialise:
no wonder we developed a case of cold feet,

no surprise that long-lost relatives clash again over
certain rather tricky matters, wedge-tailed eagles circle
anti-clockwise, goannas salivate in the undergrowth.

Hour by hour, some kind of narrative unfolds:
“Independence is a virtue,” they tell us. Arm in arm,
we move as one, speak with a single voice.

Faced with a chance of unpowered flight,
an opportunity to achieve previously unheralded
altitude, we make the momentous decision to refute

offers of help, deny any attempt to divert our course.
From the sidelines, they call out, “We told you so!”
and, in almost equal parts, “You’ll be glad you did!”

While hyenas smirk, harangue late-comers to the party,
we look confidently through each other’s eyes,
toss high a ceremonial coin, call either heads or tails.


Date: 2013

By: Ian Gibbins (19??- )

Monday, 31 December 2018

On the Eve of a New Year by Phillip A. Ellis

After all, this year was closing
towards another, and the passage
of time towards another set
of numbers. But in thinking this
to myself, in the thought of time
and the thought that is another
year coming towards me, I find
myself looking at time as a wind.

Once, when I was a child and walking
to school, the wind was strongly
perpendicular to the road, and called
me towards where the cars wavered
as they passed. I was almost crying
as I struggled against the wind, once
clinging to a lamp-post, frightened
and fearful of the waiting road.

My heart was beating then, I felt it
striking deeply within with hammering
pulses. But not now, caught as I am
in the winds of time that stretch me
forwards into a rapidly approaching
year, I cannot hear the pulse
that I know is dreaming under me,
under the ribs and flesh, and my skin.

And I know that the road waits
for me, and I know that at last I shall
step upon it. But I am not so afraid
as resigned, seeking to enjoy my time
in the wind a little more each day,
even though I mourn each day passing
me into oblivion. I am prepared, though,
to let go of this lamp-post, life, hope, will.

Even though I remember walking
to school, in the perpendicular wind
that was summoning me onto the road,
I may well forget that image, and may
well keep remembering it from time
to time. Funny how life is like that,
really, sometimes we remember,
and sometimes it’s lost to the wind.


Date: 2004

By: Phillip A. Ellis (19??- )

Friday, 28 December 2018

Sibelius and Marley by Ishion Hutchinson

History is dismantled music; slant,
bleak on gravel. One amasses silence,
another chastises silence with nettles,
stinging ferns. I oscillate in their jaws.

The whole gut listens. The ear winces
white nights in his talons: sinking mire.
He wails and a comet impales the sky
with the duel wink of a wasp’s burning.

Music dismantles history; the flambeaux
inflame in his eyes with a locust plague,
a rough gauze bolting up his mouth unfolds,
so he lashes the air with ropes and roots

that converge on a dreadful zero,
a Golden Age. Somewhere, an old film.
Dusk solders on a cold, barren coast. There
I am a cenotaph of horns and stones.


Date: 2016

By: Ishion Hutchinson (1983- )