Archive for ‘General’

Thursday, 22 February 2018

Under the Vulture-Tree by David Bottoms

We have all seen them circling pastures,
have looked up from the mouth of a barn, a pine clearing,
the fences of our own backyards, and have stood
amazed by the one slow wing beat, the endless dihedral drift.
But I had never seen so many so close, hundreds,
every limb of the dead oak feathered black,

and I cut the engine, let the river grab the jon boat
and pull it toward the tree.
The black leaves shined, the pink fruit blossomed
red, ugly as a human heart.
Then, as I passed under their dream, I saw for the first time
its soft countenance, the raw fleshy jowls
wrinkled and generous, like the faces of the very old
who have grown to empathize with everything.

And I drifted away from them, slow, on the pull of the river,
reluctant, looking back at their roost,
calling them what I’d never called them, what they are,
those dwarfed transfiguring angels,
who flock to the side of the poisoned fox, the mud turtle
crushed on the shoulder of the road,
who pray over the leaf-graves of the anonymous lost,
with mercy enough to consume us all and give us wings.


Date: 1987

By: David Bottoms (1949- )

Wednesday, 21 February 2018

John Peel by John Woodcock Graves

D’ye ken John Peel, with his coat so gay?
D’ye ken John Peel at the break of the day?
D’ye ken John Peel, when he’s far far away,
With his hounds and his horn in the morning.

For the sound of his horn brought me from my bed.
And the cry of the hounds which he oft times led,
Peel’s view hol-loo would awaken the dead,
Or his fox from his lair in the morning.

Yes, I ken John Peel, and Ruby too,
Ranter and Ringwood, Bell-man and True,
From a find to a check, from a check to a view.
From a view to a death in the morning.


Then here’s to John Peel, from my heart and soul.
Let’s drink to his health let’s finish the bowl,
We’ll follow John Peel thro’ fair thro’ foul.
If we want a good hunt in the morning.


D’ye ken John Peel, with his coat so gay,
He lived at Trout-beck once on a day,
Now he has gone far far away,
We shall ne’er hear his voice in the morning.



Date: 1824

By: John Woodcock Graves (1795-1886)

Friday, 16 February 2018

Granada by Ibn Zamrak

Stay awhile here on the terrace of the Sabīka and look about you.
This city is a wife, whose husband is the hill:
Girt she is by water and by flowers,
Which glisten at her throat,
Ringed with streams; and behold the groves of trees which are
the wedding guests, whose thirst is being assuaged by
the water-channels.
The Sabīka hill sits like a garland on Granada’s brow,
In which the stars would be entwined,
And the Alhambra (God preserve it)
Is the ruby set above that garland.
Granada is a bride whose headdress is the Sabīka, and whose
jewels and adornments are its flowers.

From: Harvey, L.P., Islamic Spain 1250 to 1500, 2014, The University of Chicago Press: Chicago and London, p. 219.

Date: c1350 (original in Arabic); 1990 (translation in English)

By: Ibn Zamrak (1333-1393)

Translated by: Leonard Patrick Harvey (1929- )

Tuesday, 13 February 2018

Mattering by Patty Seyburn

My liege, my legion of
bad habits batters the
diminishing rank and
file of my decency.
What would you have me do?
I judge, curse, rue, malign,
run out of cereal.
Everyday world depends
hardly at all on the
details of atoms or
galaxies — a lesson
in stratification —
and the feeling, woe is
me, must be mutual.


Date: 2013

By: Patty Seyburn (1962- )

Monday, 12 February 2018

Poem by Julian Orde Abercrombie

The morning weaves
A piece of bone
To a branch of fingers,
But the rain
Blurs the sea-shift
Twists the cone,
And now this hand
Is bone again.


Date: 19??

By: Julian Orde Abercrombie (1917-1974)

Saturday, 10 February 2018

The Fairies by George Monck Berkeley

To Miss Grimston, youngest sister of Thomas Grimston, Esq. of Grimston, Yorkshire.

Hous’d within the cowslip’s bell,
As the simple milk maids tell;
Shunning there the glare of day,
Fairies pass their hours away.
There they keep their mimic state;
There the fall of night await;
Then along their fav’rite hill,
Or beside some haunted rill.
Whilst around dull mortals sleep,
Mystic vigils there they keep,
With some wild fantastic rite
Greeting still the pow’r of night.

From: Berkeley, George-Monck, Poems by the Late George-Monck Berkeley, Esq., with a Preface by the Editor, consisting of some anecdotes of Mr. Monck Berkeley and several of his friends, 1797, J. Nichols: London, pp. 66-67.

Date: 1797 (published)

By: George Monck Berkeley (1763-1793)

Wednesday, 7 February 2018

Three Dirges: 2 by Tao Yuanming (Tao Qian)

In former days I wanted wine to drink;
The wine this morning fills the cup in vain.
I see the spring mead with its floating foam,
And wonder when to taste of it again.
The feast before me lavishly is spread,
My relatives and friends beside me cry.
I wish to speak but lips can shape no voice,
I wish to see but light has left my eye.
I slept of old within the lofty hall,
Amidst wild weeds to rest I now descend.
When once I pass beyond the city gate
I shall return to darkness without end.

From: Minford, John and Lau, Joseph, M. S. (eds.), Classical Chinese Literature: An Anthology of Translations. Volume I: From Antiquity to the Tang Dynasty, 2000, Columbia University Press: New York and The Chinese University Press: Hong Kong, p. 514.

Date: 427 (original); 1993 (translation)

By: Tao Yuanming (Tao Qian) (365-427)

Translated by: Gladys Yang (1919-1999) and Yang Xianyi (1915-2009)

Monday, 5 February 2018

The World, How by Martha Rhodes

The world, how greenesses
pop up. I’d forgotten. To be

found millions of years later,
mountains of bones ground down.

The tiniest with the largest.
You rise to the top

from the Great Rift
to meet me again.


Date: 2015

By: Martha Rhodes (1953- )

Thursday, 1 February 2018

Noonday Game, South Africa by Ralph Nixon Currey

Once it was buffalos,
Rhinos and hippos
By whom this noonday
Game was played;
Now it’s the cars of human beings
That nose each other
Out of the shade.

From: Currey, R.N., Collected Poems, 2001, David Philip & James Currey: Oxford & Cape Town, p. 19.

Date: 1994

By: Ralph Nixon Currey (1907-2001)

Tuesday, 23 January 2018

Sailing to Australia by Peter Skrzynecki


Tired, embittered,
wary of each other—
like men whose death sentences
have been commuted,
they turned their faces
from a shore
none of them could forget.

Leaving from
a Displaced Persons’ Camp
in Germany,
we travelled south
by train into Italy.

Coming through Austria
I remember
walking between carriages,
seeing aeroplanes
lying broken in a forest—
their yellow and black
like a butterfly’s
torn wings.

Through grey mornings
and long afternoons of drizzle
we lay and talked
of graves that nobody
was prepared
to enter—
about war, disguised nationalities
and the absence of sea birds
from who we always watched.
And all the time
someone, sooner or later,
‘Nearly, nearly there.’

Though officially
tagged and photographed
to the satisfaction of braided uniforms
we had no names—
a tattooed number
or the gold fillings in a heart
to be disclosed only
to St Peter at The Gates.

For all it
mattered, where kinship
or affiliations
were concerned, each of us
could have been
an empty bullet shell
or prints left by a scavenger bird
around a piece of bone.
Each face became
a set of facts—
a situation
to be associated with
only while the voyage lasted.

Even the worst weather
became an ally
to whom confidences and sorrows
were readily confided—
disinherited, self-exiled,
as a river without banks,
people turned their backs and minds
upon the fallen godhead
of a country’s majesty,
quietly embracing comfort
in every drop of salt
that crystallised into manna
on their tongues and in their eyes;
often, waiting until
the moon appeared
like a promised sign—
and the ship might leave the water
to a Castle of Dreams
in the clouds—
before they went to sleep.

On arrival,
a great uneasiness
filled the ship—
unspoken, misunderstood,
as a Union Jack
was hung
across the landing dock.

While the solemnity
of a basking sea lion
a government interpreter
held a loudspeaker at arm’s length—
telling us, in
his own broken accents,
why we should feel proud
to have arrived,
without mishap, in Australia,
on Armistice Day.


Date: 1978

By: Peter Skrzynecki (1945- )