Archive for ‘Historical’

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

The Story from “The Epic of Gilgamesh” by Anonymous

of him who knew the most of all men know;
who made the journey; heartbroken; reconciled;

who knew the way things were before the Flood,
the secret things, the mystery; who went

to the end of the earth, and over; who returned,
and wrote the story on a tablet of stone.

He built Uruk. He built the keeping place
of Anu and Ishtar. The outer wall

shines in the sun like brightest copper; the inner
wall is beyond the imagining of kings.

Study the brickwork, study the fortification;
climb the great ancient staircase to the terrace;

study how it is made; from the terrace see
the planted and fallow fields, the ponds and orchards.

This is Uruk, the city of Gilgamesh
the Wild Ox, son of Lugalbanda, son

of the Lady Wildcow Ninsun, Gilgamesh
the vanguard and the rear guard of the army,

Shadow of Darkness over the enemy field,
the Web, the Flood that rises to wash away

the walls of alien cities, Gilgamesh
the strongest one of all, the perfect, the terror.

It is he who opened passes through the mountains;
and he who dug deep wells on the mountainsides;

who measured the world; and sought out Utnapishtim
beyond the world; it is he who restored the shrines;

two-thirds a god, one-third a man, the king.
Go to the temple of Anu and Ishtar:

open the copper chest with the iron locks;
the tablet of lapis lazuli tells the story.

From: Ferry, David, Gilgamesh: A New Rendering in English Verse, 1993, Farrar, Straus and Giroux: New York, pp. 3-4.
(https://books.google.com.au/books?id=iTClBAAAQBAJ)

Date: c1200 BCE (original in Akkadian); 1991 (translation in English)

By: Anonymous

Translated by: David Ferry (1924- )

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Thursday, 14 September 2017

The Preface, Expressing the Passioned Minde of the Penitent Sinner: Sonnet 1 by Anne Vaughan Locke/Lock/Lok Prowse

The hainous gylt of my forsaken ghost
So threates, alas, vnto my febled sprite
Deserued death, and (that me greueth most)
Still stand so fixt before my daseld sight
The lothesome filthe of my disteined life,
The mighty wrath of myne offended Lorde,
My Lord whos wrath is sharper than the knife,
And deper woundes than dobleedged sworde,
That, as the dimmed and fordulled eyen
Full fraught with teares & more & more opprest
With growing streames of the distilled bryne
Sent from the fornace of a grefefull brest,
Can not enioy the comfort of the light,
Nor finde the waye wherin to walke aright.

Note: This is the first sonnet from the first known sonnet sequence (A Meditation of a Penitent Sinner) in the English language.

From: http://www.luminarium.org/renascence-editions/locke2.html

Date: 1560

By: Anne Vaughan Locke/Lock/Lok Prowse (1530-c1590)

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

The Death-Bed Song of Meilyr, the Poet [Fragment] by Meilyr Brydydd

Great store had I of satin and of gold
From generous lords who loved my art of old;
But silent now are all my hero lays,
Love’s poignant spell my harp no longer sways.
While I, the Poet Meilyr, supplicate
Peter for entrance at The Heavenly Gate,
And sing aloud of that Last Day and dread,
When Earth and Sea shall render forth their dead.

From: Graves, Alfred Perceval (transl. and ed.), Welsh Poetry Old and New in English Verse, 1912, Longmans, Green and Co: London, p. 15      .
(https://archive.org/details/welshpoetryoldne00graviala)

Date: c1137 (original in Welsh); 1912 (translation in English)

By: Meilyr Brydydd (fl. 1100-1137)

Translated by: Alfred Perceval Graves (1846-1931)

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

Fragment 286: The Influence of Spring by Ibycus

In Spring, bedewed with river-streams,
From where, for everlasting, gleams
The garden of th’ Hesperides
Blossom Cydonian apple-trees; —
In Spring the saplings freshly shine,
Beneath the parent-vine
In shadow and in breeze;
But me Love’s mighty power,
That sleepeth never an hour,
From Venus rushing, burneth with desire,
As with lightning fire;
Black, as the Thracian wind,
He seizes on my mind,
With dry delirious heat
Inflames my reason’s seat,
And, in the centre of my soul,
Keeps empire for a child, and holds
Uncheck’d control.

From: http://elfinspell.com/GRPIbycus.html

Date: 7th century BCE (original in Greek); 1833 (translation in English)

By: Ibycus (6th century BCE)

Translated by: Henry Nelson Coleridge (1798-1843)

Saturday, 9 September 2017

Catharine of Arragon by Eloise Albert Veronica Bibb Thompson

So tired! so weary—
The race—has been long,
And the paths have been rugged,
The winds have been strong,—
And the heart it has weakened,
In tempests so strong.

Soul, thou art sick
With the fever of strife,
Of delusions of hope
That will poison a life,
Of a world that is foul
With the passions of life;

Of a world that is false,
Souls that are vain,
Of men with a conscience
Who live to give pain,
Of words from the fair that hide
Vials of pain.

Of minds that are blackened
With crime and with sinning,
That seek to ensnare.
I am tired of the spinning
Of these;—yes, so terribly
Tired of their spinning.

So tired! so weary—
Of men and of things,
Of the woes of a life-time,
That time ever brings;
Of the cares and the sorrows
That life ever brings!

From: Bibb, Eloise A., Poems, 1996, University of Michigan Humanities Text Initiative: Ann Arbor, Michigan pp. 96-97.
(http://name.umdl.umich.edu/BAD9461.0001.001)

Date: 1895

By: Eloise Albert Veronica Bibb Thompson (1878-1928)

Thursday, 7 September 2017

A Complaint by Henry Farley

To see a strange outlandish fowl,
A quaint baboon, an ape, an owl,
A dancing bear, a giant’s bone,
A foolish engine move alone,
A morris dance, a puppet-play,
Mad Tom to sing a roundelay,
A woman dancing on a rope,
Bull-baiting also at the Hope,
A rimer’s jests, a jugler’s cheats,
A tumbler showing cunning feats,
Or players acting on the stage,
There goes the bounty of our age:
But unto any pious motion
There’s little coin and less devotion.

From: Bullen, A. H. (ed.), Poems, Chiefly Lyrical, from Romances and Prose-Tracts of the Elizabethan Age: with Chosen Poems of Nicholas Breton, 1890, John C. Nimmo: London, p. 83.
(https://archive.org/details/poemschieflylyri00bulliala)

Date: 1621

By: Henry Farley (fl. 1616-1621)

Alternative Title: The Bounty of Our Age

Tuesday, 5 September 2017

Prologue to the First Satire by Aulus Persius Flaccus

I never did on cleft Parnassus dream,
Nor taste the sacred Heliconian stream;
Nor can remember when my brain inspir’d
Was, by the Muses, into madness fir’d
My share in pale Pyrene I resign;
And claim not part in all the mighty Nine
Statues, with winding ivy crown’d, belong
To nobler poets, for a nobler song:
Heedless of verse, and hopeless of the crown,
Scarce half a wit, and more than half a clown,
Before the shrine I lay my rugged numbers down.
Who taught the parrot human notes to try,
Or with a voice endu’d of the chatt’ring pye?
‘Twas witty want, fierce hunger to appease:
Want taught their masters, and their masters these.
Let gain, that gilded bait, be hung on high,
The hungry witlings have it in their eye;
Pyes, crows, and daws, poetic presents bring:
You say they squeak; but they will swear they sing.

From: Dryden, John, The Miscellaneous Works of John Dryden, Esq.; containing all his Original Poems, Tales, and Translations, in Four Volumes. Volume the Fourth. 1767, J. and R. Tonson: London, p. 290.
(https://books.google.com.au/books?id=d2QiAAAAMAAJ)

Date: 1st century (original in Latin); 1693 (translation in English)

By: Aulus Persius Flaccus (34-62)

Translated by: John Dryden (1631-1700)

Wednesday, 30 August 2017

A Chaine of Pearle: The Eight Pearle. Science by Diana Primrose

Among the virtues intellectual,
The van is led by that we Science call;
A pearl more precious than the Egyptian queen
Quaff’d off to Antony: of more esteem
Than Indian gold, or most resplendent gems,
Which ravish us with their translucent beams.
How many arts and sciences did deck
This Heroina! who still had at beck
The Muses and the Graces, when that she
Gave audience in state and majesty:
Then did the goddess Eloquence inspire
Her royal breast: Apollo with his lyre
Ne’er made such music; on her sacred lips
Angels enthroned, most heavenly manna sips.
Then might you see her nectar-flowing vein
Surround the hearers; in which sugar’d stream
She able was to drown a world of men,
And drown’d with sweetness to revive again.
Alasco, the ambassador Polonian,
Who perorated like a mere Slavonian,
And in rude rambling Rhetoric did roll,
She did with Attic eloquence control.
Her speeches to our Academians,
Well shew’d she knew among Athenians
How to deliver such well-tuned words
As with such places punctually accords.
But with what Oratory-ravishments
Did she imparadise her Parliaments!
Her last most princely speech doth verify,
How highly she did England dignify.
Her loyal Commons how did she embrace,
And entertain with a most royal grace!

From: http://www.poetryexplorer.net/poem.php?id=10116830

Date: 1630

By: Diana Primrose (fl. 1630)

Monday, 28 August 2017

The Tercets by Llywarch Hen

Set is the snare, the ash clusters glow,
Ducks plash in the pools; breakers whiten below;
More strong than a hundred is the heart’s hidden woe.

Long is the night; resounding the shore,
Frequent in crowds a tumultuous roar;
The evil and good disagree evermore.

Long is the night; the hill full of cries;
O’er the tree-tops the wind whistles and sighs;
Ill nature deceives not the wit of the wise.

The greening birch saplings a-sway in the air
Shall deliver my feet from the enemy’s snare;
It is ill with a youth thy heart’s secrets to share.

The saplings of oak in yonder green glade
Shall loosen the snare by an enemy laid;
It is ill to unbosom thy heart to a maid.

The saplings of oak in their full summer pride
Shall loosen the snare by the enemy tied;
It is ill to a babbler thy heart to confide.

The brambles with berries of purple are dressed;
In silence the brooding thrush clings to her nest;
In silence the liar can never take rest.

Rain is without–wet the fern plume;
White the sea gravel–fierce the waves’ spume;
There is no lamp like reason man’s life to illume.

Rain is without, but the shelter is near;
Yellow the furze, the cow-parsnip is sere;
God in Heaven, how could’st Thou create cowards here!

Rain and still rain, dank these tresses of mine!
The feeble complain of the cliff’s steep incline;
Wan is the main; sharp the breath of the brine.

Rain falls in a sheet; the Ocean is drenched;
By the whistling sleet the reed-tops are wrenched;
Feat after feat; but Genius lies quenched.

From: Graves, Alfred Perceval (transl. and ed.), Welsh Poetry Old and New in English Verse, 1912, Longmans, Green and Co: London, pp. 10-11.
(https://archive.org/details/welshpoetryoldne00graviala)

Date: 6th century (original in Welsh); 1912 (translation in English)

By: Llywarch Hen (c534-c608)

Translated by: Alfred Perceval Graves (1846-1931)

Sunday, 27 August 2017

I.21 by Sextus Propertius

“You, soldier, rushing to escape our fate–
wounded beside beseiged Perusia’s walls–
why, when I moan, do you turn shocked eyes?
I was your comrade in arms just now.
Save yourself so your parents may rejoice,
so your sister won’t read my fate in your tears:
Gallus, snatched from Caesar’s jaws,
could not fly death from unknown hands;
whatever scattered bones she’ll find
on Etruscan hills, tell her these are mine.”

From: Rayor, Diane J. and Batstone, William W. (eds.), Latin Lyric and Elegiac Poetry: An Anthology of New Translations, 2013, Routledge: New York and London, p. 56.
(https://books.google.com.au/books?id=IGTFBQAAQBAJ)

Date: c25 BCE (original in Latin); 1995 (translation in English)

By: Sextus Propertius (50/45-15 BCE)

Translated by: Helen E. Deutsch (19??- )