Archive for ‘Historical’

Friday, 28 June 2019

Moon Sitting by Hui Yung

High mountain cascades froth.
This wild temple owns few lamps.
Sit facing the glitter
of the moon: out of season
heart of ice.

From: Seaton, Jerome P. and Maloney, Dennis (eds.), A Drifting Poet: An Anthology of Chinese Zen Poetry, 1994, White Pine Press: Fredonia, New York, p. 19.

Date: 4th century (original); 1994 (translation)

By: Hui Yung (332-414)

Translated by: Jerome P. Seaton (1941- )

Tuesday, 11 June 2019

Urania: The Divine Muse. On the Death of John Dryden, Esq. by Sarah Piers

When through the Universe with Horrour spread!
A sacred Voice pronounc’d Great Pan was dead,
All Nature trembled at the, direful Fate,
And Atlas sunk beneath his pond’rous weight;
The mournful Muses hung.their heads with woe,
While ev’ry Deity regrets the Blow,
And to the holy Oracles, deny
All farther Inspects of futurity;
The Earth did under strong Convulsions groan,
And Heaven did eccho back the dreadful -moan:

With no less grief, with no less pain opprest,
Britania felt the wound within her Breast,
When through the murmuring Croud sad Accents bore
The fatal News, that Dryden was no more:
No more, to charm the list’ning World with Lays,
But fled to sing his great Creator’s praise:
No more with artful Numbers, to bestow
An universal Influence below:
No more with all discerning Truth, to tell
How they shou’d act, and how distinguish well,
But Summon’d by Apollo‘s sacred Lyre,
Now chaunts his Raptures in the Heavenly Choir.

Loud were the Clamours, and the moving Cries,
Which cut the yielding Air, and pierc’d the Skies;
While on Parnassus, ’twas the Muses care,
Fresh Garlands for their Darling to prepare;
I search’d the Treasures of the Pow’rs above,
And form’d an Anthem on Seraphick Love:
New Themes we chose, not more polite-than he
Has left already to Posterity;
But those for which the Island does repine,
For which they still invoke his awful Shrine,
And.with transported Sorrow loudly cry,
Virgil, the Roman Eagles taught to fly,
But Dryden mounts their Pinions to the Sky!

To him proud Greece and Italy must bow,
And his sublime Authority allow,
Who by his never-dying Works, we see
Merits, and gives an Immortality.
Oh give us Homer yet, thou glorious Bard;
But if this last Petition can’t be heard,
Yet like that Prophet, wing’d by strong desire,
Who broke from Earth, wrapt in Celestial fire,
Confer thy Spirit on the blooming Son,
And bless the Progress he so well begun;
Let Garth inherit all thy generous Flame,
Garth, who alone can justify the Claim.
He, whom the God of Wisdom did fore-doom,
And stock with Eloquence to pay thy Tomb,
The most triumphant Rites of ancient Rome.

‘Tis this that fills Urania‘s Eyes with Tears.
‘Tis this ungrateful Sound that racks my Ears,
Who now to thee, Melpomene, repair,
To mix my Sorrows with thy anxious care;
Unite us all within thy gloomy Breast,
Where downy Peace, and Pleasure find no rest;
There let us drink the Floods thou shed’st, and then
A deluge of Despair pour out again.
What if our Tears shou’d drown the World a new,
The Sacrifice were to his Manes due.
Who now of Heroes, or of Gods can sing!
Who their Credentials from Apollo bring!
Where shall Urania now bestow her aid!
Or who great Dryden‘s Province dare invade!
Ah none such lofty Subjects can pursue;
The Muses have, alas! no more to do,
Than sing his Elogies, and so expire,
In the cold Urn of his extinguish’d Fire.

But stay, a sudden Thought does now revive
My drooping heart, and keep my hopes alive;
Behold in Albion lately did appear
A learned Bard, to Escalapius dear,
Well knowing in the Secrets of his Skill,
And surely foster’d on Parnassus‘s Hill,
Nor does the Chrystal Helicon bestow
A clearer Stream, than from his Numbers flow:
On him already all the Graces smile,
In him survive new Trophies for the Isle;
More l’le not urge, but know our Wishes can
No higher Soar, since. Garth‘s the Glorious Man;
Him let us Constitute in Dryden‘s stead,
Let Laurels ever flourish on his head,
And let us to Apollo make our Pray’r
To Nominate him his Vice-regent, there;
By this Britannia shall her Joys retrieve,
Nor find that Dryden‘s dead while Garth* does live.

*Samuel Garth (1661-1719) was a physician and poet. He arranged for Dryden’s body to lie in state at the College of Physicians.

From: Manley, Mrs, The Nine muses, or, Poems written by nine several ladies upon the death of the late famous John Dryden, Esq., 1700, Richard Bassett: London, pp. 3-5.

Date: 1700

By: Sarah Piers (fl. 1697-1714)

Sunday, 9 June 2019

Hendecasyllabon [On Chidiock Tichborne] by Thomas Kyd

T. K. In Cygneam Cantionem Chidiochi Tychborne*

Thy prime of youth is frozen with thy faults,
thy feast of joy is finisht with thy fall:
Thy crop of corne is tares availing naughts,
thy good God knowes thy hope, thy hap and all.
Short were thy daies, and shadowed was thy sun,
T’ obscure thy light unluckelie begun.

Time trieth trueth, and trueth hath treason tript;
thy faith bare fruit as thou hadst faithles beene:
Thy ill spent youth thine after yeares hath nipt;
and God that saw thee hath preservde our Queene.
Her thred still holds, thine perisht though unspun,
And she shall live when traitors lives are done.

Thou soughtst thy death, and found it in desert,
thou look’dst for life, yet lewdlie forc’d it fade:
Thou trodst the earth, and now on earth thou art,
As men may wish thou never hadst beene made.
Thy glorie and thy glasse are timeles runne;
And this, O Tychborne, hath thy treason done.

*Written in answer to Chidiock Tichborne’s Elegy for Himself. Tichborne was one of the conspirators of the Babington Plot (an attempt to kill Elizabeth I of England and replace her on the throne with Mary, Queen of Scots). He was executed for treason in 1586.

From: Kyd, Thomas and Boas, Thomas S. (ed.), The Works of Thomas Kyd, Edited from the Original Texts with Introduction, Notes, and Facsimiles, 1901, Clarendon Press: Oxford, pp. 340-341.

Date: 1586

By: Thomas Kyd (1558-1594)

Saturday, 1 June 2019

The Tavern Dancing Girl by Unknown

See the Syrian girl, her tresses with the Greek tiara bound,
Skill’d to strike the castanets, and foot it to their merry sound,
Through the tavern’s reeky chamber, with her cheeks all flush’d with wine,
Strikes the rattling reeds, and dances, while around the guests recline.
“Wherefore thus, footsore and weary, plod through summer’s dust and heat?
Better o’er the wine to linger, laid in yonder cool retreat!
There are casks, and cans, and goblets,—roses, fifes, and lutes are there,—
Shady walks, where arching branches cool for us the sultry air.
There, from some Mænalian grotto, all unseen, some rustic maid
Pipes her shepherd notes, that babble sweetly through the listening glade.
There, in cask pitch’d newly over, is a vintage clear and strong;
There, among the trees, a brooklet brawls with murmurs hoarse along;
There be garlands, where the violet, mingling with the crocus, blows,
Chaplets of the saffron twining through the blushes of the rose;
Lilies, too, which Acheloës shall in wicker baskets bring,
Lilies fresh and sparkling, newly dipped within some virgin spring.
There are little cheeses also, dried between the verdant rushes,
Yellow plums, the bloom upon them, which they took from Autumn’s blushes,
Chestnuts, apples ripe and rosy, cakes which Ceres might applaud;
Here, too, dwelleth gentle Amor; here is Bacchus, jovial god!
Blood-red mulberries, and clusters of the trailing vine between,
Rush-bound cucumbers are there, too, with their sides of bloomy green.
There, too, stands the cottage-guardian, in his hand a willow-hook,
But he bears no other weapon: maidens unabash’d may look.
Come, my Alibida, hither! See! your ass is fairly beat!
Spare him, as I know you love him. How he’s panting with the heat!
Now from brake and bush is shrilling the cicada’s piercing note;
E’en the lizard now is hiding in some shady nook remote.
Lay ye down!—to pause were folly—by the glassy fountain’s brink,
Cool your goblet in the crystal, cool it ever, ere you drink.
Come, and let your wearied body ‘neath the shady vine repose,
Come, and bind your languid temples with a chaplet of the rose!
Come, and ye shall gather kisses from the lips of yon fair girl;
He, whose forehead ne’er relaxes, ne’er looks smiling, is a churl!
Why should we reserve these fragrant garlands for the thankless dust?
Would ye that their sweets were gather’d for the monumental bust?
Wine there!—wine and dice!—To-morrow’s fears shall fools alone benumb.
By the ear Death pulls me. “Live!” he whispers softly. “Live! I come!”

From: Martin, Theodore, Poems; Original and Translated, 1863: Printed for Private Circulation: London, pp. 320-322.

Date: 1st century BCE (original in Latin); 1863 (translation in English

By: Unknown

Translated by: Theodore Martin (1816-1909)

Friday, 31 May 2019

Old Age by Anaxandrides

Ye gods! how easily the good man bears
His cumbrous honours of increasing years.
Age, Oh my father, is not, as they say,
A load of evils heap’d on mortal clay,
Unless impatient folly aids the curse
And weak lamenting makes our sorrows worse.
He whose soft soul, whose temper ever even,
Whose habits placid as a cloudless heaven,
Approve the partial blessings of the sky,
Smooths the rough road and walks untroubled by;
Untimely wrinkles furrow not his brow,
And graceful wave his locks of reverend snow.

From: Peter, William (ed.), Specimens of the Poets and Poetry of Greece and Rome, by Various Translators, 1847, Carey and Hart: Philadelphia, p. 197.

Date: 4th century BCE (original in Greece); 1807 (translation in English)

By: Anaxandrides (4th century BCE)

Translated by: John Herman Merivale (1779-1844)

Thursday, 30 May 2019

Death is Before Me Today by Anonymous

Death is before me today
like health to the sick
like leaving the bedroom after sickness.

Death is before me today
like the odor of myrrh
like sitting under a cloth on a day of wind.

Death is before me today
like the odor of lotus
like sitting down on the shore of drunkenness.

Death is before me today
like the end of the rain
like a man’s home-coming after the wars abroad.

Death is before me today
like the sky when it clears
like a man’s wish to see home after numberless years of captivity.

From: Washburn, Katharine and Major, John S. (eds.), World Poetry: An Anthology of Verse from Antiquity to Our Time, 1998, W. W. Norton & Company: New York and London, p. 16.

Date: c1900 BCE (original in Egyptian); 1968 (translation in English)

By: Anonymous

Translated by: William Stanley Merwin (1927-2019)

Saturday, 25 May 2019

Introductory Remarks by Edmund Clerihew Bentley

The Art of Biography
Is different from Geography.
Geography is about Maps,
But Biography is about Chaps..

From: Clerihew, E., Biography for Beginners, Being a Collection of Miscellaneous Examples for the Use of Upper Forms, 1905, T. Werner Laurie: London, p. [unnumbered].

Date: 1905

By: Edmund Clerihew Bentley (1875-1956)

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)

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- )

Wednesday, 1 May 2019

I.W.W.* by Donald M. Crocker

Sons of the sansculottes,
Savage, erect, disdainful,
Proud of their pariah estate,
They return to the civilization that has cast them out,
Hate for hate and blow for blow.
Society denied them all life’s sweet, soft, comfortable things,
And so society raised up unto itself its destroyers.

Reckless of the jails, of the policemen’s clubs, of the lynching parties made up of frightened good citizens,
Cheerfully accepting the anathema of all reputable people and lovers of law and order,
They laugh aloud and sing out of their little red book
Blasphemous ribaldries against all the gods and all the masters.
(Beware, gods and masters, of rebels who laugh and sing!)
Onward to the conquest of earth these outlaws press,
Pausing by the corpses of their martyrs only long enough
To utter, grim-lipped, “We remember.”

*I.W.W. – Industrial Workers of the World, founded in 1905 in Chicago, USA, is an international labour union. Its members are known as Wobblies (or Wobs). Donald M. Crocker was a member of the International Typographical Union and also an occasional editor of the Industrial Worker.

From: Gomez, Manuel (ed.), Poems for Workers: An Anthology, 1925, The Daily Worker Publishing Co: Chicago, p. 35.

Date: 1917

By: Donald M. Crocker (18??-19??)