Archive for ‘Relationships’

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.


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

By: Rufinus (?3rd century)

Translated by: Neil Philip (19??-)

Monday, 19 June 2017

Eleven Meetings by Julian Gustave Symons

Between nothing and their first meeting
Was the paraphernalia of greeting.
Hand touching on hand, the sudden
Look from which nothing is hidden.

Between their first and tenth meeting
Was a short time but much loving.
The days long and the nights longer,
Till death spoke with gun in his anger.

Between their tenth and last meeting
Was nothing: but at last the weeping
Face with which she regarded sadly
His face looking up at her coldly.


Date: 1942

By: Julian Gustave Symons (1912-1994)

Sunday, 18 June 2017

He Came Too Late by Elizabeth Bogart

He came too late!–Neglect had tried
Her constancy too long;
Her love had yielded to her pride,
And the deep sense of wrong.
She scorned the offering of a heart
Which lingered on its way,
Till it could no delight impart,
Nor spread one cheering ray.
He came too late!–At once he felt
That all his power was o’er!
Indifference in her calm smile dwelt,
She thought of him no more.
Anger and grief had passed away,
Her heart and thoughts were free;
She met him and her words were gay,
No spell had memory.

He came too late!–the subtle chords
Of love were all unbound,
Not by offence of spoken words,
But by the slights that wound.
She knew that life held nothing now
That could the past repay,
Yet she disdained his tardy vow,
And coldly turned away.

He came too late!–Her countless dreams
Of hope had long since flown;
No charms dwelt in his chosen themes,
Nor in his whispered tone.
And when, with word and smile, he tried
Affection still to prove,
She nerved her heart with woman’s pride,
And spurned his fickle love.


Date: 1837

By: Elizabeth Bogart (1806-18??)

Saturday, 17 June 2017

An Epitaph on Claudy Phillips, A Musician by Anna Williams

Phillips! whose touch harmonious could remove
The pangs of guilty pow’r, and hapless love,
Rest here distrest by poverty no more,
Find here that calm thou gav’st so oft before;
Sleep undisturb’d within this peaceful shrine,
Till angels wake thee with a note like thine.

From: Williams, Anna, Miscellanies in Prose and Verse, 1766, T. Davies: London, p. 23.

Date: 1766

By: Anna Williams (1706-1783)

Saturday, 10 June 2017

Had Death Not Had Me in Tears by Kofi Awoonor (George Awoonor-Williams)

Had death not had me in tears
I would have seen the barges
on life’s stream sail.
I would have heard sorrow songs
in groves where the road was lost
where men foot prints mix with other men foot prints
By the road I wait
“death is better, death is better”
came the song
I am by the roadside
looking for the road
death is better, death is much better
Had death not had me in tears
I would have seen the barges
I would have found the road
and heard the sorrow songs.
The land wreathes in rhythm
with your soul, caressed by history
and cruel geography
landscape ineffable yet screaming
eloquent resonant like the drums
of after harvests.
We pile rocks on terracing love
Carry the pithy cloth
to cover the hearths of our mother.

Come now, you lucky ones
come to the festival of corn and lamb
to the finest feast of this land
come, now,
your lovers have unfurled
their cloths
their thighs glistening like golden knives
ready for the plunging,
for the plentiful loving time.
To whom shall I turn
to what shall I tell my woes?
My kinsmen, the desert tree
denied us sustenance
long before the drought.
To whom shall I turn
to whom shall I tell my woes?
Some say tell the mother goat
she too is my kinswoman
elemental sister of your clan
But I cannot tell the mother goat
for she is not here.


Date: 1987

By: Kofi Awoonor (George Awoonor-Williams) (1935-2013)

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

A Melancholly Fit by Nicholas Hookes

Sad newes was sent me that a friend was dead,
It dash’t my braines, and my dull heavy head,
Drowsie with thoughts of death, could hardly be
Supported in its doleful agonie;
Nature was lost, grief stop’t, my circling blood,
All things alike were ill, and nothing good;
Awak’t I dream ‘t, then round about I saw
Death sable Curtains of confusion draw;
All things were black where e’re I cast my eye,
The wainscot walls mourn ‘d in dark Ebonie,
My giddy fancie into th’ earth did sink,
I wept, and saw the clouds weep teares of ink;
Ruine and death me thoughts were penitent,
And did in sheets and vailes their sinnes lament:
Then ghosts and shades in mourning did I see,
All threw deaths-heads, and dead mens bones at me;
But when the pale Idea of my friend
Past by, I wish’t my life were at an end;
And courting-night to shut my sullen eyes,
In came Amanda, and did me surprise;
Taught me to live in death, kist me, and then
Out of a Chaos made me man agen.

From: Hookes, Nicholas, Amanda, A Sacrifice to an Unknown Godesse, or, A Free-Will Offering of a Loving Heart to a Sweet-Heart, 1923, Elkin Mathews Ltd: London, pp. 22-23.

Date: 1653

By: Nicholas Hookes (1628-1712)

Sunday, 4 June 2017

[Love’s Poverty] by Paulus Silentiarius

Locked in Hippomenes’ kisses,
my heart clings to Leander;

wet with Leander’s lips,
Xanthus leaps to mind;

lying with Xanthus,
who should I dream but Hippomenes!

One after another,
I love my lovers,

but in the arms of each,
long for others.

Say what you will of me,
I know nothing

of love’s poverty.

From: Hamill, Sam, The Infinite Moment: Poems from Ancient Greek, 1992, New Directions: New York, p. 80.

Date: c550 (original in Greek); 1991 (translation in English)

By: Paulus Silentiarius (d. 575-580)

Translated by: Sam Hamill (1943- )

Saturday, 3 June 2017

The Sick Wife by Anonymous

She had been ill for years and years;
She sent for me to say something.
She couldn’t say what she wanted
Because of the tears that kept coming of themselves.
“I have burdened you with orphan children,
With orphan children two or three.
Don’t let our children go hungry or cold;
If they do wrong, don’t slap or beat them.
When you take out the baby, rock it in your arms.
Don’t forget to do that.”
Last she said,
“When I carried them in my arms they had no clothes
And now their jackets have no linings.”

[She dies.]

I shut the doors and barred the windows
And left the motherless children.
When I got to the market and met my friends, I wept.
I sat down and could not go with them.
I asked them to buy some cakes for my children.
In the presence of my friends I sobbed and cried.
I tried not to grieve, but sorrow would not cease.
I felt in my pocket and gave my friends some money.
When I got home I found my children
Calling to be taken into their mother’s arms.
I walked up and down in the empty room
This way and that a long while.
Then I went away from it and said to myself
“I will forget and never speak of her again.”

From: Waley, Arthur, A Hundred and Seventy Chinese Poems, 1918, Constable and Company: London, pp. 29-30.

Date: 1st century BCE (original); 1918 (translation)

By: Anonymous

Translated by: Arthur David Waley (1889-1966)

Thursday, 1 June 2017

If You Could Come by Katharine Lee Bates

My love, my love, if you could come once more
From your high place,
I would not question you for heavenly lore,
But, silent, take the comfort of your face.

I would not ask you if those golden spheres
In love rejoice,
If only our stained star hath sin and tears,
But fill my famished hearing with your voice.

One touch of you were worth a thousand creeds.
My wound is numb
Through toil-pressed, but all night long it bleeds
In aching dreams, and still you cannot come.


Date: 1922

By: Katharine Lee Bates (1859-1929)

Wednesday, 31 May 2017

False Bravery by John Bedford Leno

As childhood dies, and manhood takes its place,
We often deem our independence won;
But, whence the mask we wear upon our face?
Oh, rather has not servitude begun?
The child, in sorrow, will not hide its tears,
While griefs suppressed proclaim men’s growing fears.

I love not tears, and yet I love not those,
Who truly boast they never shed a tear;
They are the outward badges of our woes
That heaven designed the sorrow-struck should wear:
I do confess, I deem the brave man weak,
Who wears a smile like rouge upon his cheek.

From: Leno, John Bedford, Drury Lane Lyrics, and Other Poems, 4th Edition, 1868, The Author: London, p. 189.

Date: 1868

By: John Bedford Leno (1826-1894)