Archive for ‘General’

Wednesday, 19 June 2019

Winter Solstice by Janlori Goldman

for Jean Valentine

O odd light
bring me the old season
that winter familiar
a slow sheathing of moon in shadow
as if sky were a gill
through which all things
flow in                 filter out
bring me a home with no right angles
a space of curling in
not too bright or sharp
and bring me the time before that
with the garden dark with broken-down
coffee grounds                 rows of flowering mustard greens
the smell of ripped roots fresh
from the pull
and then before that
to my round house a friend will come
or maybe the friend’s mother
I’ll say stay for dinner
she’ll say let me sew that button.


Date: 2012

By: Janlori Goldman (19??- )

Thursday, 13 June 2019

Prudence: An Acrostic by Elizabeth Gread Braund

Prudent be in all thy dealings;
Regulate aright thy feelings;
Undertake no work in haste;
Deal with friend and foe in grace;
Envy none their high estate;
Nought but craft and meanness hate;
Catch the moments as they fly —
Excelsior thy motto high!

From: Braund, Elizabeth, Fugitive Pieces: Historical, Fragmentary, and Sacred, 1868, Charles Griffin & Co: London, p. 53.

Date: 1868

By: Elizabeth Gread Braund (fl. 1864-1868)

Friday, 7 June 2019

Extemporaneous by Betsugen Enshi

The courtyard is so lonely in autumn rain
that I open the window and gaze all day at the peak.
From the beginning of the world my two eyes
have been fixed to those mile-high pines on top.

From: Carter, Steven D. (ed. and transl.), Traditional Japanese Poetry: An Anthology, 1991, Stanford University Press: Stanford, California, p. 271.

Date: 14th century (original in Japanese); 1991 (translation in English)

By: Betsugen Enshi (1294-1364)

Translated by: Steven D. Carter (19??- )

Friday, 24 May 2019

Ode to the Moon Under Total Eclipse by William Rowan Hamilton

(July, 1823)

[The Moon under total eclipse is not invisible, but appears of a dark red colour.]

O queen of yon ethereal plain,
With slow majestic step advancing,
‘Mid thy attendant starry train,
Thy subject waves beneath thee dancing;
As Dian moves through Delian shades
Above her circling Oread maids:
Why hath that crimson red
Thy lovely brow o’erspread —
Oh! wherefore that portentous gloom,
Eclipse, and shadow of the tomb?

II.— 1.
Say, is it but a passing cloud,
Far in some higher sphere,
Which thus around thee winds its shroud,
While all the heavens are clear;
While not a vapour nigh
Sullies the midnight sky;
While all the stars are brightly burning,
Each in his wonted orbit turning?

II.— 2.
Or wizard from his murky cell
Who bows thee to his power,
By magic word and mutter’d spell
In this, night’s witching hour?

II.— 3.
Or is it, as the sages say,
Versed in celestial lore,
Our earth, athwart light’s pathless way,
Which bars it from thy shore:
Whose shadowy cone, with noiseless pace
Through the infinity of space,
Hath darkly crossed thine orb on high,
And dimmed it to our wondering eye?

Ill.— 1.
On thee the nations gaze
With looks of wild amaze,
And anxious ask, what means the sign?
What dread disaster nigh,
Is boded by thine eye,
Low’ring with aspect thus malign?

Ill.— 2.
For ancient tales of terror say,
That still before some fatal day
Thou veilest thus thy blushing face;
Earthquake or famine, sword or fire,
Is menaced by that look of ire;
Ruin prepares to run his race:
Lo! in his widely whelming car,
He comes, the demon from afar,
Rushing with a whirlwind’s noise,
Trampling o’er prostrate hopes and joys
While, at his side, the ministers of fate
In silence seem his signal to await.

III.— 3.
‘Twas thus, O Moon! thy failing light,
When Athens’ army thought of flight
From that dark Sicilian shore,
To their distant country bore
The omen of her slaughter’d host,
Of coming woe and glory lost.

Such augury is in thy looks to-night:
And with awe mingled with a stern delight,
The warrior or the poet now
May gaze on thine ensanguined brow; —
But not the lover! all too rude,
It suits not with his milder mood;
Better he loves to look on thee
When shining in thy purity;
Clad in thy robe of virgin snow,
As thou wert an hour ago,
Or hid by fleecy clouds alone
That canopy yon azure throne.
And yet, to him all nature seems
Tinged with soft hues by fancy’s beams,
As distant rainbows beauty shed
On the rugged mountain head:
Then, though thy right be like the torch of war,
Still will I hail thee as the lover’s star!

From: The National Magazine and Dublin Literary Gazette, July to December, 1830, Volume 1, 1830, William Frederick Wakeman: Dublin, pp. 387-388.

Date: 1823

By: William Rowan Hamilton (1805-1865)

Sunday, 19 May 2019

Canción by Álvaro de Luna

Since to cry
And to sigh
I ne’er cease;
And in vain
I would gain
My release;
Yet I still
Have the will,
Though I see
That the way
Every day
Is less free.
She is light
And the blight
Wrecks my joy;
Better death
Than such breath
I employ!
But perchance
For such glance
I was born;
And my grief
Is relief
For your scorn.

From: Walsh, Thomas (ed.), Hispanic Anthology: Poems Translated from the Spanish by English and North American Poets, 1920, G. P. Putnam’s Sons: New York and London, pp. 52-53.

Date: 15th century (original in Spanish); 1920 (translation in English)

By: Álvaro de Luna (c1388-1453)

Translated by Thomas Walsh (1875-1928)

Wednesday, 15 May 2019

For the Sun Has Got As His Lot Labor Every Day by Mimnermus

For the sun has got as his lot labor every day,
nor is there ever any rest for him
or his horses when rosy-fingered Dawn leaves behind
Ocean and climbs up the brightening sky,
for over the wave in a lovely spangled bed, forged
by Hephaistos’ hand of precious gold and winged,
he is borne, delightfully asleep, on the water’s face
from the country of the Hesperides
to the land of the Aithiopians, where his steeds
and swift chariot stand until Dawn,
the early-born, appears, and the son of Hyperion
then mounts and drives away his dazzling car.

From: Fowler, Barbara Hughes (ed. and transl.), Archaic Greek Poetry: An Anthology, 1992, The University of Wisconsin Press: Madison, Wisconsin, p. 86.

Date: 7th century BCE (original in Greek); 1992 (translation in English)

By: Mimnermus (fl. 630-600 BCE)

Translated by: Barbara Hughes Fowler (1926- )

Sunday, 28 April 2019

These Mountains by Ion Corcos

In this still bay, limestone blue,
the fall of mountain steep with scree.

Clumps of hard grass grip the slope, shorn
like valleys I have seen in eastern Turkey.

Don’t tell the Greeks, don’t tell the Turks;
some of them at least. The far mountains,

covered in a haze of sun and clouds,
look like the Anatolia I have seen.

In this still bay, mountains rise,
while men sit around, drink coffee, complain;

until one day the earth trembles,
rips the land apart, and the mountains

sink into the sea.

Birds roost in caves, menace to keep their space,
until they too move on, or are banished.

We talk about this place, but we talk too much.
This place is about mountains, born from the sea,

from Venetians, Ottomans, Turks, Greeks;
everything that belongs to yesterday.

Everything that belongs to today.

One day a volcano exploded under the sea,
raised mountains. The volcano is still here.


Date: 2018

By: Ion Corcos (1969- )

Monday, 22 April 2019

Rabbits are Nice Neighbors by Zilpha Keatley Snyder

Rabbits are nice neighbors,
Kindly and quiet.
They don’t bite mailmen,
Or make loud noises in the night.

Rabbits are ornamental,
Lop-eared and silky,
With long bouncy legs,
And noses that quiver.

And now and then—not often—
They deliver—

From: Livingston, Myra Cohn (ed.) and Wallner, John (illustr.), Easter Poems, 1985, Holiday House: New York, p. 10.

Date: ?1966

By: Zilpha Keatley Snyder (1927-2014)

Saturday, 13 April 2019

Lines 248-293 [Description of London] from “The Love of Gain: A Poem. Imitated from the Thirteenth Satire of Juvenal” by Matthew Gregory Lewis

Ye giddy, gay, and proud,
Who swell great London’s ever-bustling crowd,
London, where all extremes together meet,
Folly’s chief throne, and Wisdom’s gravest seat;
Where disagreements in agreement lie,
Our close-knit mass of contrariety;
Where throng the rich and poor, the fool and knave,
Where statesmen juggle, and where patriots rave;
Where balls for advocates prepare their work,
And embryo law-suits in a whisper lurk;
Where Cupid pays in specie for his wiles,
And judges frown whene’er a lady smiles;
Where equal farce continual sport affords
At Covent-Garden, or the House of Lords;
Where beggars with feigned tears and ready smiles,
Cringe to St. James, or blubber to St. Giles;
Ye who confusedly sail in motley trim
Down this full flood of pleasure, business, whim,
Whether you frame smooth, glib, and specious lies
To cheat a tradesman, or to raise supplies,
With private or with public misery sport,
Cheats upon ‘Change, or Parasites at Court,
Now pause awhile!—For one reflecting hour
Forego your hopes of gain, your dreams of power,
And hark, while tells the Muse what monstrous crimes,
What new-found sins reserv’d for our strange times,
Their hideous forms to Addington betray,
From morn’s first languish to the death of day.
Here mark the thankless child, the unnatural sire,
The Pandar slave who lets his spouse for hire,
The adulterous friend, the trusted wanton wife,
The brother aiming at the brother’s life,
The rake who cools in beauty’s arms his heat,
Then lets her starve, or ply for bread the street,
And that dark train of foes to moral rules,
Thieves, Bawds, Assassins, Gamblers, Knaves, and Fools,
Fools, who would fain be knaves …… No more I’ll write,
Hence, odious forms, nor longer shock my sight!
Else by disgust and scorn to madness driven,
Bursting those chains which bind my soul to Heaven,
I shall disdain to breathe such tainted air,
Shall blush an human form like these to wear,
For present ease shall barter future bliss,
And sure no world can be more black than this,
Deep in my swelling heart shall plunge the knife,
And cry, while flies my soul from mortal strife,
“Heaven bless my father, though he gave me life!”

From: Lewis, M. G., The Love of Gain: A Poem. Imitated from the Thirteenth Satire of Juvenal, 1799, J. Bell: London, pp. 27-33.

Date: 1799

By: Matthew Gregory Lewis (1775-1818)

Monday, 8 April 2019

Reading by Abū Bakr Muḥammad ibn ʿAmmār

My eye frees what the page imprisons:
the white the white and the black the black.


Date: 11th century (original in Arabic); 1971 (translation in Spanish);1989 (translation in English)

By: Abū Bakr Muḥammad ibn ʿAmmār (1031-1086)

Translated by: Emilio García Gómez (1905-1995) and Cola Franzen (1923-2018)