Archive for ‘Historical’

Thursday, 26 January 2023

(26th January) – Mend That! by Paul Collis

I’m too black to be Blue…
too black I am, to be true Blue Aussie, like you.
I’m not like Johnno and Crew,
too black I am, to be that Blue.
so no happy birthday, Australia,
Oi, Oi, Oi,
for You!


Date: 2021

By: Paul Collis (19??- )

Tuesday, 3 January 2023

Patria Cuique Chara*: To Richarde Cotton, Esquier by Geoffrey/Geffrey Whitney

The bees at lengthe retourne into their hive,
When they have suck’d the sweete of FLORAS bloomes;
And with one minde their worke they doe contrive,
And laden come with honie to their roomes:
A worke of arte; and yet no arte of man,
Can worke, this worke; these little creatures can.

The maister bee, within the midst dothe live,
In fairest roome, and most of stature is;
And everie one to him dothe reverence give,
And in the hive with him doe live in blisse:
Hee hath no stinge, yet none can doe him harme,
For with their strengthe, the rest about him swarme.

Lo, natures force within these creatures small,
Some, all the daye the honie home doe beare.
And some, farre off on flowers freshe doe fall,
Yet all at nighte unto their home repaire:
And everie one, her proper hive doth knowe,
Althoughe there stande a thousande on a rowe.

A Comon-wealthe, by this, is right expreste;
Bothe him, that rules, and those, that doe obaye:
Or suche, as are the heads above the rest,
Whome here, the Lorde in highe estate dothe staye:
By whose supporte, the meaner sorte doe live,
And unto them all reverence dulie give.

Which when I waied: I call’d unto my minde
Your CUMBERMAIRE, that fame so farre commendes:
A stately seate, whose like is harde to finde,
Where mightie JOVE the horne of plentie lendes:
With fishe, and foule, and cattaile sondrie flockes,
Where christall springes doe gushe out of the rockes.

There, fertile fieldes; there, meadowes large extende:
There, store of grayne: with water, and with wood.
And, in this place, your goulden time you spende̱,
Unto your praise, and to your countries good:
This is the hive, your tennaunts, are the bees:
And in the same, have places by degrees.

And as the bees, that farre and neare doe straye,
And yet come home, when honie they have founde:
So, thoughe some men doe linger longe awaye,
Yet love they best their native countries grounde.
And from the same, the more they absent bee,
With more desire, they wishe the same to see.

Even so my selfe; throughe absence manie a yeare,
A straunger meere, where I did spend my prime.
Nowe, parentes love dothe hale mee by the eare,
And sayeth, come home, deferre no longer time:
Wherefore, when happe, some goulden honie bringes?
I will retorne, and rest my wearie winges.

*Patria cuique chara – To each a native land is dear.

From: Whitney, Geoffrey and Green, Henry (ed.), Whitney’s “Choice of Emblemes”, A Fac-simile Reprint, 1866, Lovell Reeve & Co: London, pp. 200-201.

Date: 1586

By: Geoffrey/Geffrey Whitney (c1548-c1601)

Monday, 19 December 2022

Description from “Cassandra” by William Haygarth

Yet there is one who ‘midst the happy bands
Smiles not, nor looks upon the changing scene;
Descending manacles compress her hands,
But free and unconfin’d her dauntless mien,
In garb a captive, but in mind a queen,
The fair Cassandra—In the victor’s car,
By his war-bruised mail she stands serene,
Her light robe on his cuirass streaming far,
As on the brow of night faint gleams the matin star.

Her’s is no vulgar form—proportion’s grace
Floats o’er her limbs amidst the mantle’s fold;
Expression’s shadows pass across her face,
And underneath her waving locks of gold
The glaz’d and melancholy eye-ball roll’d
In phrensy, seems to look on other spheres:
Fancy by frigid reason uncontroll’d
Hangs on her parted lips, and there appears
Moulding imperfect sounds to melt the soul to tears.


At first low murmurs falter on her tongue;
Convulsive respiration heaves her breast;
Till as the raptures of mysterious song,
Now bursting wildly forth, now half supprest,
Flash on her mind, her eyes no longer rest—
The vein that streaks her brow with azure line
Throbs in quick pulse; by all the God possest
Her visage brightens with a gleam divine,
And o’er her mortal frame immortal glories shine.

From: Haygarth, William, Greece, a poem. [Followed by] Cassandra [a poem], 1814, W Bulmer and Co: London, pp. 296-297.

Date: 1814

By: William Haygarth (1784-1825)

Monday, 12 December 2022

The Radium Girls by Liz Ahl

Time used to tick, to trip,
to click between seconds
to dangle at the ends of chains
inside the pockets of gentlemen.

Behind glass, time’s chariot
was driven by tiny toothed wheels,
wound along tense springs.

Time was meted out in minutes
on slender hands painted with radium
so that even at night,
the hour would glow,
could be known and told.

Once, time burned, radioactive,
but still lurched along as if
the beginning and end of a second
could be mapped and understood
as sturdy fences standing
between past, present, future.

Once, hunched over, with tiny brushes,
the factory girls painted
radium ticks and stripes
onto watch faces and hands,
filled in the black outlines of numerals
with deadly luminescence.

And in between brush strokes,
they quickly licked the brush
to keep its tip sharp, to save time,
to make the quota imposed by bosses
who wouldn’t go near the stuff.

Some of the sassy girls, their shifts over,
even painted their nails for a lark,
for a dark boudoir surprise.

But then they started losing teeth.
Their bones reinvented themselves.
The radium girls did not glow;
they bent and ached and died.

Even now Marie Curie’s notebooks
are too hot to handle, and so I stow
grandpa’s fishing watch, stopped now
but still glowing, in a basement lockbox.

Upstairs, I’m lit with pulsing curiosity:
what girl’s pink tongue licked the brush
that painted the hands that told my grandfather
when to pull his creel stuffed with rainbow trout
from Coffee Creek and start the hike home,
to the woman who would outlive him by decades?

What girl’s glow still ghosts
the space between those stilled seconds?


Date: 2013

By: Liz Ahl (19??- )

Tuesday, 6 December 2022

Baroness de Rothschild by Emily Marion Harris

Though life may fade, love never dies,
And all but love, is now a dream
To her, who in her long sleep lies
Enwrapped in flowers, and love supreme.
What, if the solemn shadows stir,
To sobbing sighs and broken prayer,
Love folds its mantle over her
And shields her, in its tender care.

Sadly the mystic hours of night
Flit past, still undisturbed by these,
Or sudden glow of morning light
Or waking birds, or waving trees.
She lies, who heeds not days and hours,
The sweet, soft bird song, nor one tear
Beneath her canopy of flowers
Indifferent now to joy and fear.

Earth’s voices touch her not; nor grieve
Her warm and generous heart with pain,
O sorrowing mourners, we believe
That God shall raise her up again,
That in some half-guessed, happier sphere,
Some perfect world, but part confessed
To us poor mortals weeping here,
“He giveth His beloved rest.”

And so Beloved, we part from you,
We, clothed by you, and housed and fed,
Not hopeless, though the words are true,
Our blessed Baroness is dead!
The poor, your monument shall raise,
Statelier than sculptured tomb above
That cherished form, of love and praise
Who loved her God; whose God is love.


Date: c1884

By: Emily Marion Harris (1844-1900)

Monday, 5 December 2022

Excerpt from “The Modern Art of Breeding Bees, a Poem” by Joshua Dinsdale

The Bees, who loaded at the Dome arrive,
First store the Golden Honey in the Hive,
Then from their sep’rate Cells suspended cling,
And buz and flutter with a trembling Wing,
Immediately you’ll see the others come,
With Signs of Gladness to the Lab’rers Hum,
Then pick the waxen Treasure from the Thigh,
And back the Lab’rer cuts the smiling Sky,
Triumphant o’er the flow’ry Kingdom reigns,
And tributary makes the blooming Plains.

But while the Youth pour o’er the shining Field,
And the sweet-smelling Cowslips Forage yield,
The Seniors in the public Care have Part,
And form the angled Cells with curious Art;
Or, for the Young prepare the downy Bed,
And soft the od’rous flow’ry Powder spread.
For if they early in the Summer’s Days,
Begin the Structure of their Comb to raise,
Before descends the golden Globe of Light,
And o’er the shaded Landschape steals the Night,
Four Thousand Cells their Diligence declare,
A Monument of nice instinctive Care!

Each has his Task; this makes the City’s Walls,
On this the shapeless Wax to Labour calls;
Another, for mechanic Judgment known,
Reviews the Buildings of the waxen Town;
That none with useless Weight o’erbear the rest,
But all alike be in Proportion prest.

Others obsequious th’ Artist’s Steps pursue,
And give by Order the Proportion due;
Here add, and there with Caution take away,
And Skill perfective, beyond Man’s, display.

While some are busy in a nicer Art,
And glaze and polish the sweet Cells with Art.

No City, with proud Heav’n-ascending Spires,
The human Mind with juster Cause admires,
Than that nice Art by which the Bees contrive
The curious Combs within the strawy Hive,
And that Variety of useful Ways
Which thro’ the Citadel the Swarm conveys.

From: Dinsdale, Joshua, The Modern Art of Breeding Bees, a Poem, Joseph Davidson, London, pp. 11-13.

Date: 1740

By: Joshua Dinsdale (fl. 1740-1751)

Friday, 2 December 2022

Jerusalem by Lloyd Frankenberg

Weep not for the old, the lost Jerusalem.
Weep for the new
in a strange land, in a strange land
the tears of joy not now.

Weep for the maiden at the waiting well,
the cup unfilled,
the honey that will flow
in a strange land.

Time was, no longer;
is to be.
Then upon a time
there will be once

what is now breath,
what is now this

and dust are those maidens that will go
hand in hand, in a strange land.

From: Frankenberg, Lloyd, “Jerusalem” in Poetry, Volume 75, number 4, January 1950, p 197.

Date: 1950

By: Lloyd Frankenberg (1907-1975)

Friday, 25 November 2022

Every Day Thanksgiving Day by Harriet Elizabeth Prescott Spofford

Sweet it is to see the sun
Shining on Thanksgiving Day,
Sweet it is to see the snow
Fall as if it came to stay;
Sweet is everything that comes.
For all makes cheer, Thanksgiving Day.

Fine is the pantry’s goodly store.
And fine the heaping dish and tray;
Fine the church-bells ringing; fine
All the dinners’ great array.
Things we’d hardly dare to touch.
Were it not Thanksgiving Day.

Dear the people coming home,
Dear glad faces long away.
Dear the merry cries, and dear
All the glad and happy play.
Dear the thanks, too, that we give
For all of this Thanksgiving Day.

But sweeter, finer, dearer far
It well might be if on our way.
With love for all, with thanks to Heaven,
We did not wait for time’s delay.
But, with remembered blessings then
Made every day Thanksgiving Day.

From: Committee of the Carnegie Library School Association, Thanksgiving in Poetry, 1923, The H. Wilson Company: New York, p. 27.

Date: 1881

By: Harriet Elizabeth Prescott Spofford (1835-1921)

Wednesday, 16 November 2022

The Peasant by Gottfried August Bürger

To His Gracious Tyrant

Who are you, Prince, that without fear,
Your wagon wheel may crush me,
Your horse may dash me down?

Who are you, Prince, that into  my flesh
Your friend, your hunting-dog, unwhipped,
May sink his claws and jaw?

Who are you, that through crops and woods,
The yelling of your hunt will drive me,
Panting like the game?—

The crop that’s trampled by your hunt,
What horse and dog and you devour,
The bread, Prince, is mine.

You, Prince, did not, with harrow and plow,
Sweat through the day of harvest.
The effort and the bread are mine!—

Ha! You claim authority from God?
God hands out blessings; you but rob!
You are not sent by God, tyrant!

From: Mathieu, Gustave and Stern, Guy, German Poetry: A Selection from Walther von der Vogelweide to Bertolt Brecht in German with English Translation, 1970, Dover Publications: New York,  p; 31.

Date: 1773 (original in German); 1959 (translation in English)

By: Gottfried August Bürger (1747-1794)

Translated by: Gustave Bording Mathieu (1921-2007) and Guy Stern (1922- )

Sunday, 13 November 2022

The Women’s Litany by Margaret Widdemer

Let us in through the guarded gate,
Let us in for our pain’s sake!
Lips set smiling and face made fair
Still for you through the pain we bare,
We have hid till our hearts were sore
Blacker things than you ever bore:
Let us in through the guarded gate,
Let us in for our pain’s sake!

Let us in through the guarded gate,
Let us in for our strength’s sake!
Light held high in a strife ne’er through
We have fought for our sons and you,
We have conquered a million years’
Pain and evil and doubt and tears—
Let us in through the guarded gate,
Let us in for our strength’s sake!

Let us in through the guarded gate,
Let us in for your own sake!
We have held you within our hand,
Marred or made as we broke or planned,
We have given you life or killed
King or brute as we taught or willed—
Let us in through the guarded gate,
Let us in for your own sake!

Let us in through the guarded gate,
Let us in for the world’s sake!
We are blind who must guide your eyes,
We are weak who must help you rise,
All untaught who must teach and mold
Souls of men till the world is old—
Let us in through the guarded gate,
Let us in for the world’s sake!


Date: 1913

By: Margaret Widdemer (1884-1978)