Archive for ‘Historical’

Friday, 23 June 2017

Save Water, Prodike by Rufinus

Save water, Prodike-
bath with a friend!
We’ll crown each other with foam,
and knock back some champagne.
We haven’t all that long
before our wrinkles mean
we’re past our shag-by date –
not just that the water is too hot.

From: http://www.poetrymagazines.org.uk/magazine/record.asp?id=16942

Date: ?3rd century (original in Greek); 2005 (translation in English)

By: Rufinus (?3rd century)

Translated by: Neil Philip (19??-)

Friday, 16 June 2017

A Ballad of Virginia by R. Rich

Newes From Virginia of the happy arrivall of that famous and worthy knight Sir Thomas Gates and well reputed and valiante Captaine Newport into England.

It is no idle fabulous tale, nor is it fayned newes:
For Truth herself is heere arriv’d, because you should not muse.
With her both Gates and Newport come, to tell Report doth lye,
Which did devulge unto the world, that they at sea did dye.

Tis true that eleaven monthes and more, these gallant worthy wights
Was in the shippe Sea-venture nam’d depriv’d Virginia’s sight.
And bravely did they glyde the maine, till Neptune gan to frowne,
As if a courser prowdly backt would throwe his ryder downe.

The seas did rage, the windes did blowe, distressed were they then;
Their ship did leake, her tacklings breake, in daunger were her men.
But heaven was pylotte in this storme, and to an iland nere,
Bermoothawes call’d, conducted then, which did abate their feare.

But yet these worthies forced were, opprest with weather againe,
To runne their ship betweene two rockes, where she doth still remaine.
And then on shoare the iland came, inhabited by hogges,
Some foule and tortoyses there were, they only had one dogge.

To kill these swyne, to yeild them foode that little had to eate,
Their store was spent, and all things scant, alas! they wanted meate.
A thousand hogges that dogge did kill, their hunger to sustaine,
And with such foode did in that ile two and forty weekes remaine.

And there two gallant pynases did build of seader-tree;
The brave Deliverance one was call’d, of seaventy tonne was shee.
The other Patience had to name, her burthen thirty tonne;
Two only of their men which there pale death did overcome.

And for the losse of these two soules, which were accounted deere,
A sonne and daughter then was borne, and were baptized there.
The two and forty weekes being past, they hoyst sayle and away;
Their ships with hogs well freighted were, their harts with mickle joy.

And so unto Virginia came, where these brave soldiers finde
The English-men opprest with greife and discontent in minde.
They seem’d distracted and forlorne, for those two worthyes losse,
Yet at their home returne they joyd, among’st them some were crosse.

And in the mid’st of discontent came noble Delaware;
He heard the greifes on either part, and sett them free from care.
He comforts them and cheeres their hearts, that they abound with joy;
He feedes them full and feedes their soules with Gods word every day.

A discreet counsell he creates of men of worthy fame,
That noble Gates leiftenant was the admirall had to name.
The worthy Sir George Somers knight, and others of commaund;
Maister Georg Pearcy, which is brother unto Northumberland.

Sir Fardinando Wayneman knight, and others of good fame,
That noble lord his company, which to Virginia came,
And landed there; his number was one hundred seaventy; then
Ad to the rest, and they make full foure hundred able men.

Where they unto their labour fall, as men that meane to thrive;
Let’s pray that heaven may blesse them all, and keep them long alive.
Those men that vagrants liv’d with us, have there deserved well;
Their governour writes in their praise, as divers letters tel.

And to th’ adventurers thus he writes be not dismayd at all,
For scandall cannot doe us wrong, God will not let us fall.
Let England knowe our willingnesse, for that our worke is goode;
Wee hope to plant a nation, where none before hath stood.

To glorifie the lord tis done, and to no other end;
He that would crosse so good a worke, to God can be no friend.
There is no feare of hunger here for corne much store here growes,
Much fish the gallant rivers yeild, tis truth without suppose.

Great store of fowle, of venison, of grapes and mulberries,
Of chestnuts, walnuts, and such like, of fruits and strawberries,
There is indeed no want at all, but some, condiciond ill,
That wish the worke should not goe on with words doe seeme to kill.

And for an instance of their store, the noble Delaware
Hath for the present hither sent, to testifie his care
In mannaging so good a worke, to gallant ships, by name
The Blessing and the Hercules, well fraught, and in the same

Two ships, are these commodities, furres, sturgeon, caviare,
Blacke walnut-tree, and some deale boords, with such they laden are;
Some pearle, some wainscot and clapbords, with some sassafras wood,
And iron promist, for tis true their mynes are very good.

Then, maugre scandall, false report, or any opposition,
Th’ adventurers doe thus devulge to men of good condition,
That he that wants shall have reliefe, be he of honest minde,
Apparel, coyne, or any thing, to such they will be kinde.

To such as to Virginia do purpose to repaire;
And when that they shall thither come, each man shall have his share.
Day wages for the laborer, and for his more content,
A house and garden plot shall have; besides, tis further ment

That every man shall have a part, and not thereof denaid,
Of generall profit, as if that he twelve pounds ten shillings paid;
And he that in Virginia shall copper coyne receive,
For hyer or commodities, and will the country leave

Upon delivery of such coyne unto the Governour,
Shall by exchange at his returne be by their treasurer
Paid him in London at first sight, no man shall cause to grieve,
For tis their generall will and wish that every man should live.

The number of adventurers, that are for this plantation,
Are full eight hundred worthy men, some noble, all of fashion.
Good, discreete, their worke is good, and as they have begun,
May Heaven assist them in their worke, and thus our newes is done.

From: http://www.bartleby.com/400/poem/8.html

Date: 1610

By: R. Rich (fl. 1610)

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Dispute Between Day and Night by Abu Mansur Ali ibn Ahmad Asadi Tusi

Day and Night, who each can yield
Joy and solace to the earth,
Thus contended for the field,
Claiming both the highest birth—
Night spoke frowningly: ”Twas I
Who from all eternity
Ruled the chaos of the world,
When in dim confusion hurled.
The fervent prayer is heard at night;
Devotion flies day’s glaring light.
Twas night, the Mount when Moses left;
At night was Lot avenged by fire:
At night the moon our prophet cleft,
And saw Heaven’s might revealed entire.
The lovely moon for thirty days
Spreads radiant glory from afar:
Her charms for ever night displays,
Crowned, like a queen, with many a star:
Her seal-bearer is Heav’n, a band
Of planets wait on her command.
Day can but paint the skies with blue,
Night’s starry hosts amaze the view.
Man measures time but by the moon;
Night shrouds what day reveals too soon.
Day is with toil and care oppressed,
Night comes, and with her, gentle rest.
Day, busy still, no praise can bring,
All night the saints their anthems sing;
Her shade is cast by Gabriel’s wing!

The moon is pure, the sun’s broad face
Dark and unsightly spots deface:
The sun shines on with changeless glare,
The moon is ever new and fair.’

Day rose, and smiled in high disdain:
‘Cease all this boasting, void and vain;
The Lord of heaven, and earth, and thee,
Gave me a place more proud than thine,
And men with joy my rising see,
And hail the beams that round me shine.
The holy pilgrim takes by day
To many a sacred shrine his way;
By day the pious fast and pray;
And solemn feasts are held by day.

On the last day the world’s career is run,
As on the first its being was begun.

Thou, Night, art friendly, it may be,
For lovers fly for help to thee.
When do the sick thy healing see?

Thieves, by thy aid, may scatheless prowl;
Sacred to thee the bat and owl;
And, led by thee, pale spectres grimly howl!

I sprang from heaven, from dust art thou;
Light crowns my head with many a gem,
The collier’s cap is on thy brow—
For thee a fitting diadem.
My presence fills the world with joy;
Thou com’st all comfort to annoy.
I am a Moslem white my vest:
Thou a vile thief, in sable drest
Out, negro-face ! dar’st thou compare
Thy cheeks with mine, so purely fair?
Those ” hosts of stars,” thy boast and pride,
How do they rush their sparks to hide,
How to their native darkness run,
When, in his glory, comes the sun!

True, death was first; but, tell me, who
Thinks life least worthy of the two?
‘Tis by the moon the Arab counts;
The lordly Persian tells his year
By the bright sun, that proudly mounts
The yielding heavens, so wide and clear.
The sun is ruddy, strong, and hale;
The moon is sickly, wan, and pale.
Methinks ’twas ne’er in story told
That silver had the worth of gold!
The moon, a slave, is bowed and bent,
She knows her light is only lent;
She hurries on, the way to clear
Till the great Shah himself appear

What canst thou, idle boaster, say
To prove the night excels the day?
If stubborn still, let Him decide
With whom all truth and law abide;
Let Nasur Ahmed, wise as great,
Pronounce, and give to each his state.’

From: Costello, Louisa Stuart, The Rose Garden of Persia, 1899, Gibbings and Company, London, pp. 48-53.
(https://archive.org/details/rosegardenofpers00costiala)

Date: c1070 (original in Persian); 1845 (translation in English)

By: Abu Mansur Ali ibn Ahmad Asadi Tusi (c1000-c1080)

Translated by: Louisa Stuart Costello (1779-1870)

Tuesday, 6 June 2017

An Other Saying Concerning the Same by Katherine Dowe

To rise betimes, thy selfe to recreate
To looke well to thine owne, & to kéepe a sober estate
Long ere thou eatest, and not to sup late,
To lie high with thy head, and to sléepe moderate
Maketh man rich, long life and fortunate.

From: Tasso, Torquato, The housholders philosophie VVherein is perfectly and profitably described, the true oeconomia and forme of housekeeping. With a table added thereunto of all the notable thinges therein contained. First written in Italian by that excellent orator and poet Signior Torquato Tasso, and now translated by T.K. Whereunto is anexed a dairie booke for all good huswiues, 2003, Text Creation Partnership: Ann Arbor, Michigan and Oxford, p. [unnumbered].
(http://name.umdl.umich.edu/A13392.0001.001)

Date: 1588

By: Katherine Dowe (fl. 1588)

Sunday, 28 May 2017

Riddle XVI [The Bookworm] by Caelius Firmanius Symphosius

I thrive on letters yet no letters know,
I live in books, the made more studious so,
Devour the Muses, but no wiser grow.

From: http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/E/Roman/Texts/Symphosius/16*.html

Date: ?5th century (original in Latin); 1912 (translation in English)

By: Caelius Firmanius Symphosius (?5th century)

Translated by: Elizabeth Hickman du Bois Peck (1870-19??)

Saturday, 27 May 2017

The Autumn Wind by Wu Ti

Autumn wind rises: white clouds fly.
Grass and trees wither: geese go south.
Orchids all in bloom: chrysanthemums smell sweet.
I think of my lovely lady: I never can forget.
Floating-pagoda boat crosses Fen River.
Across the mid-stream white waves rise;
Flute and drum keep time to sound of rowers’ song;
Amidst revel and feasting, sad thoughts come;
Youth’s years how few! Age how sure!

From: http://www.potw.org/archive/potw315.html

Date: c175 BCE (original); 1919 (translation)

By: Wu Ti (157-187 BCE)

Translated by: Arthur David Waley (1889-1966)

Thursday, 25 May 2017

Pythia 8 by Pindar

Hesychia, kind goddess of peace, daughter
of Justice and lady of the greatness of cities:
you who hold the high keys
of wars and of councils,
accept for Aristomenes this train of Pythian victory.
For you understand, in strict measure of season,
deeds of gentleness and their experience likewise.

And you, when one fixes
anger without pity fast in his heart,
are stern to encounter
the strength of the hateful ones, and sink
pride in the bilge. Porphyrion understood you not
when wantonly he vexed you. Gain is sweet
if one carry it from the house of him who gives in good will.

But violence and high vaunting fail at the last.
Typhon the Kilikian, the hundred-headed, avoided not this,
nor yet the king of the Giants. They were smitten down by the thunderbolt
and the bow of Apollo, who now in mood of kindness
has received Xenarkes’ son, home from Kirrha and garlanded
with leaves of Parnassos and with song in the Dorian strain.

This island, that in its city’s
righteousness has touched
the famed valors of the Aiakidai, has not
fallen away from the Graces. She keeps
glory perfect from the beginning and is sung of many
for her shaping of heroes that surpassed in excellence
of games, and in the speed of their fighting, also.

These things shine in her men likewise.
In my haste I cannot lay
leisure of long-drawn speech
on the lyre and the soft singing,
lest surfeit come to vex. Let your own need, my child,
and your youngest splendors run the path at my feet,
made a thing of speed by my fashioning.

For at wrestling you go the way of your mother’s brethren,
nor shame Theognetos at Olympia,
nor Kleitomachos’ victory of tough limbs at Isthmos.
Prospering the city of the Meidylidai, you wear the saying
Oikleos’ son spoke darkly once, as he watched
the young men enduring the spears in the seven gates of Thebes,

when the latter-born came again
to Argos, a second journey.
Thus he spoke, in their striving:
“The heritage of valor from their fathers shines
through in the sons’ blood. I gaze in wonder and see plain
Alkmaon steering the spangled snake on his bright
shield, foremost in the gates of Kadmos.

“And he that flinched in that first disaster,
the hero Adrastos, now
goes compassed by message of augury
more favorable. Yet in his own house
otherwise shall he fare. Alone out of the Danaan host,
he shall gather the ashes of his son perished, and by the gods’ chance
shall come home with the rest of his people scatheless

“to the wide streets of the city of Abas.” Thus
the voice of Amphiaraos. And I also take joy
to cast a garland on Alkmaon and drench him in song.
He is my neighbor and the keeper of my possessions;
he met me in the way as I went to the singing centerstone of the earth,
and with the sooth that is his by blood made prophecy.

But you, archer of the far cast, lord
of the famed temple, where all gather,
in the deep folds of Pytho,
have granted this boy delight that is highest;
and, aforetime, a gift to fold in the arms,
you brought him home in triumph of your own five-contests.
My lord, I pray you that of my heart’s will

I look on each thing in my course
even as you look also.
Justice herself stands over
the sweet singing in celebration; but I ask, Xenarkes,
the gods’ gaze unresentful upon your fortunes.
For if one, even without long-drawn labors, compass splendors,
to many he seems as a wise man among fools

to crown his life with device and straight counsels.
Yet this lies not with men; God’s luck is the giver,
that casts one man now aloft, and yet another beneath his hand.
Come back to measure. You have your prize at Megara,
and in the recess of Marathon; and with three successes,
Aristomenes, you have won at home the games of Hera.

And above four bodies you threw
your weight and your rage.
To these lads was ordained
at the Pythiad no delightful homefaring,
nor, as they came to their mothers, did laughter break sweetly about them
to stir delight. Down back ways, avoiding mockers,
they skulk, all stricken with their sad fortune.

But he that has won some new
splendor, in high pride
of hope rides the air
on the wings of his man’s strength, and keeps
desire beyond his wealth. In brief space mortals’
delight is exalted, and thus again it drops to the ground,
shaken by a backward doom.

We are things of a day. What are we? What are we not ? The shadow of a dream
is man, no more. But when the brightness comes, and God gives it,
there is a shining of light on men, and their life is sweet.
Aigina, dear mother, bring this city to haven
in free guise, by Zeus’ aid and strong Aiakos’,
Peleus and goodly Telamon aiding, and with Achilles.

From: Pindar and Lattimore, Richmond (ed.), The Odes of Pindar, 1947, University of Chicago Press: Chicago, pp. 77-80.
(https://archive.org/details/odesofpindar035276mbp)

Date: 446 BCE (original in Greek); 1942 (translation in English)

By: Pindar (c522-c443 BCE)

Translated by: Richmond Alexander Lattimore (1906-1984)

Saturday, 20 May 2017

Thule, the Period of Cosmography by Thomas Weelkes

Thule, the period of cosmography,
Doth vaunt of Hecla, whose sulphureous fire
Doth melt the frozen clime and thaw the sky;
Trinacrian Etna’s flames ascend not higher:
These things seem wondrous, yet more wondrous I,
Whose heart with fear doth freeze, with love doth fry.

The Andalusian merchant, that returns
Laden with cochineal and china dishes,
Reports in Spain how strangely Fogo burns
Amidst an ocean full of flying fishes:
These things seem wondrous, yet more wondrous I,
Whose heart with fear doth freeze, with love doth fry.

From: https://tspace.library.utoronto.ca/html/1807/4350/poem2268.html

Date: 1600

By: Thomas Weelkes (?1576-1623)

Thursday, 18 May 2017

Lines 1-40 from “Merlin” by Robert de Boron with approximate translation into modern English by flusteredduck

Now gyneth the devel to wraththen him sore
(as aftir scholen ȝe herkene & here wel more),
whanne that oure lord to helle wente,
and took owt Adam with good entente,
and also Eve, and ek others mo,
þat with him he likede forto han tho.
and whanne þe develis behelden this,
moche drede and merveille they hadden, i-wis.
So, as aftyrward longe be-felle,
to-gederis they conseilled, the develis, ful snelle,
and token hem to-gederis in parlement,
the maister-develis, be on assent,
and seiden: “what mester man is he, this,
that doth us here al this distress?
we mown not aȝens him maken defens,
whanne he is owht in owre presens,
and bynemeth us that we scholde have,
and for hym non thing mowen we kepen save.
For we supposede, ful verrayly,
that non man scholde he bom of wommans body,
that alle owre they weren be ryht,
but he hem benemeth us be his myht.
Sey, how was this ȝoman bore,
be whom owre ryht is thus forlore?”
thanne answerede anothir devel,
and, as him thowhte, he answerede wel:
“we haven herd, sein be prophecye
that God in Erthe here scholde dye
Forto saven the Synneris here,
that of Adam and Eve come in fere.
Anon wenten we thanne hem to prove,
and evere weren they stedfast jn goddis love,
and the more turment we diden hem do,
Evere the ferthere they weren us fro,
So that evere in here moste peyne
To hem aperede he, in certeygne,
and hem comforted so wondirly wel,
that owre tormentes greved hem nevere a del,
and evere in here moste distresse
he hem deliverede to Sikirnesse.”

Lines 1-40 from “Merlin”

Now began the devil to be sore wrathful
(as after you should listen and hear well more),
when that our lord to hell went,
and took out Adam with good intent,
and also Eve, and many similar others,
that he liked to struggle with,
and when the devils beheld this,
much dread and terror they had, I assume.
So, as afterward long befell,
together they counselled, the devils, full eagerly,
and arranged them together in parliament,
the master devils, by agreement,
and said: “what kind of man is he, this,
that causes us all here such distress?
we are unable to overcome him despite our defences,
when he is ever in our presences,
and takes away from us that we should have,
and no strike we deliver or anything we do overcomes him.
For we supposed, full truly,
that no man born of woman’s body,
that were not over us all by right,
but he overcame us by his might.
Say, how is this human born,
by whom our right is thus forfeited?”
then answered another devil,
and, as he thought, answered well:
“have not we heard, and has since be prophesised
that God on Earth should die
For to save the sinners here,
that since Adam and Eve come in fear.
Again and again they came here to be punished.
and even if they were steadfast in god’s love,
and the more we tormented them,
Ever the further they resisted us.
So that ever here in the most pain,
To them appeared he, in certainty,
and them comforted so wonderfully well,
that our torments grieved them never a deal,
and ever in here most distress,
he them delivered to tranquillity.”

From: Lovelich, Henry and Kock, Dr. Ernst A. (ed.), Merlin, A Middle-English Metrical Version of a French Romance, by Henry Lovelich, Skinner and Citizen of London (ab. 1450 A.D.), Part 1, 1904, Early English Text Society: London, pp.
(https://archive.org/details/merlinamiddleen00lovegoog)

Date: 12th century (original in French); 15th century (translation in English)

By: Robert de Boron (late 12th-early 13th century)

Translated by: Henry Lovelich (15th century)

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Description of a Tidal Bore from “Seven Stimuli” by Mei Ch’Eng

Its urgent
thunder can be heard hundreds of furlongs away;
the river’s waters flow in reverse,
the ocean’s waters go upstream with the tide;
the mountains exhale and inhale vapors
all day and all night without cease.

Welling and swelling, the tidal race picks up speed,
its waves surge
and its billows rise.
At the very beginning,
it is a cascading
torrent,
like
the downward swoop
of white egrets.
After it has progressed
a short while,
it becomes a vast expanse of dazzling whiteness,
like
a silk-white chariot drawn by white horses,
curtains and canopy unfurled.

The bore’s
waves surge
in nebulous confusion,
tumultuous
as though
the three regiments were
plunging into preparedness.
It
spreads out to the sides
and suddenly rears
up,
airily and gracefully
as
the light chariot
of a commander marshalling his troops.

The bore is harnessed to six flood-dragons,
and follows close upon Great White, the god of the river.
It is high and mighty, whether resting or racing,
continuous and unbroken from front to back.
The waves are enormous, towering,
consecutive and recurring —
jos-jostling, ca-capering.
Row after row of stout bulwarks and ramparts,
multitudinous
as the ranks of an army.
with the stentorian and cacophonous roar,
they surge uncurbed across the breadths;
the fount of this flood is not to be stayed!

Observing both banks of the river,
we see there a
convulsive, boiling, brooding, seething,
troublous, roiling, jolting, heaving;
it smashes upward, flings boulders below.
There is, about it, something which resembles
a valiant, mighty warrior
bursting with rage
and completely undaunted.
It tramples revetments, bursts through ferry-crossings,
inundates inlets and courses coves,
then leaps its banks, spills over its dikes.

He who encounters it perishes;
that which blocks it is destroyed.

From: Mair, Victor H. (ed.), The Shorter Columbia Anthology of Traditional Chinese Literature, 2000, Columbia University Press: New York, pp. 225-227.
(https://books.google.com.au/books?id=sV3ZzccfeC8C)

Date: c140 BCE (original); 1988 (translation)

By: Mei Ch’eng (?-c140 BCE)

Translated by: Victor Henry Mair (1943- )