Posts tagged ‘1846’

Thursday, 21 May 2020

Mankind by Mihály Vörösmarty

Listen. For the singing must be still:
Now the world speaks plain.
Hot wings of the rainstorm turn to chill,
Frozen the wind and rain—
The rain is tears, is sorrow’s smart,
The wind sighed by the human heart:
It makes no difference—spirit, virtue, sin:
All hope is vain!

You have heard the story: humankind
Born of their fathers’ breath,
Reaped with their fathers sowed and as they sinned,
Inheritance of death:
And the survivors howl for Law,
And law in turn kills m any more,
The best have failed, the worst’s plots reign:
All hope is vain!

Then the heroes came, and they bestrode
The law with their bright blaze.
Work began: steel cut its bloody road!
Mankind gloried in self-praise.
And when its heroes died, again
It mauled itself in its great pain.
The news? Lightning upon a darkling plain:
All hope is vain!

There is a long peace, and humankind
Teems grossly to beget
So the plague perhaps may one day find
A grander banquet set.
With greedy eyes it scans the sky:
Earth’s not its own, that’s why,
The Earth’s as hard as grave-ground for this strain:
All hope is vain!

How fertile is the earth, and human hands
Make it more fertile still,
Yet poverty stalks over all the lands
And bondage stamps its will.
Must it be so? Or if not, why
Must ancient times repeat the cry?
What’s lacking? Is it virtue? power? Again
All hope is vain!

A godless contract binds you in its bans,
Reason and evil will!
You nourish with the rage of ignorance
Your armies to the kill.
Reason or rage, devil or beast,
Whoever wins, men die at least:
This mud ran mad, this god-faced knot of pain!
All hope is vain!

Beneath Mankind the good earth groans, and now
War years and peace years burn.
The curse of brother-hate blooms on its brow:
You’d think that it would learn,
But then it spawns some greater sin.
Humans are dragon-teeth, the strain
Of Man’s the dragon-toothed, the race of Cain:
All hope is vain! All hope is vain!


From:  Ozsváth , Zsuzsanna and Turner, Frederick (eds. and transls.), Light within the Shade: Eight Hundred Years of Hungarian Poetry, 2014, Syracuse University Press: Syracuse, New York, pp. 30-31.

Date: 1846 (original in Hungarian); 2014 (translation in English)

By: Mihály Vörösmarty (1800-1855)

Translated by: Zsuzsanna Ozsváth (1931- ) and Frederick Turner (1943- )

Saturday, 9 May 2020

Modern Chivalry by Rowland Eyles Egerton-Warburton


Time was, with sword and battle-axe,
All clad in armour bright,
When cleaving skulls asunder
Was the business of a knight.

Now chivalry means surgery,
And spurs are won by him
Who can mend a skull when broken,
Or piece a fractured limb.

Our knights of old couch’d lances,
Drew long swords from the sheath,
Now knighthood couches eye-balls,
And chivalry draws teeth.

See! rescued from confinement,
To charm our ravish’d sight,
Fair ladies are deliver’d
By the arm of a true knight.

Behold! the knight chirurgeon
To deeds of blood advance,
A bandage for a banner!
And a lancet for a lance!

To heroes of the hospital
The “bloody hand” is due,
But ye heralds bend the fingers,
Or the fee may tumble through.

From: Egerton-Warburton, R. E., Poems, Epigrams and Sonnets, 1877, Basil Montagu Pickering: London, pp. 60-61.

Date: 1846

By: Rowland Eyles Egerton-Warburton (1804-1891)

Sunday, 15 March 2020

Torna’s Lament for Corc and Niall by Torna Éices

My foster-children were not slack;
Corc or Neal ne’er turned his back;
Neal, of Tara’s palace hoar,
Worthy seed of Owen More;
Corc, of Cashel’s pleasant rock,
Con-cead-cáhá’s” honoured stock.
Joint exploits made Erin theirs—
Joint exploits of high compeers;
Fierce they were, and stormy strong;
Neal, amid the reeling throng,
Stood terrific ; nor was Corc
Hindmost in the heavy work.
Neal Mac Eochy Vivahain,
Ravaged Albin, hill and plain;
While he fought from Tara far,
Corc disdained unequal war.
Never saw I man like Neal,
Making foreign foemen reel;
Never saw I man like Corc,
Swinging at the savage work;
Never saw I better twain,
Search all Erin round again—
Twain so stout in warlike deeds—
Twain so mild in peaceful weeds.

These the foster-children twain
Of Torna, I who sing the strain;
These they are, the pious ones,
My sons, my darling foster-sons!
Who duly every day would come
To glad the old man’s lonely home,
Ah, happy days I’ve spent between
Old Tara’s Hall and Cashel-green
From Tara down to Cashelford,
From Cashel back to Tara’s lord.
When with Neal, his regent, I
Dealt with princes royally.
If with Corc perchance I were,
I was his prime counsellor.

Therefore Neal I ever set
On my right hand—thus to get
Judgments grave, and weighty words,
For the right hand loyal lords;
But, ever on my left hand side,
Gentle Corc, who knew not pride,
That none other so might part
His dear body from my heart.
Gone is generous Corc O’Yeon—woe is me!
Gone is valiant Neal O’Con—woe is me!
Gone the root of Tara’s stock—woe is me!
Gone the head of Cashel rock—woe is me!
Broken is my witless brain–
Neal, the mighty king, is slain!
Broken is my bruised heart’s core—
Core, the Righ More, is no more!
Mourns Lea Con, in tribute’s chain,
Lost Mac Eochy Vivahain,
And her lost Mac Lewy true—
Mourns Lea Mogha, ruined too!

From: Montgomery, Henry R., Specimens of the Early Native Poetry of Ireland, in English Metrical Translations, by Miss Brooke, Dr Drummond, Samuel Ferguson, J C Mangan, T Furlong, H Grattan Curran, Edward Walsh, J D’Alton, and John Anster, etc, with Historical and Biographical Notices, 1846, James McGlashan: Dublin and W S Orr and Co: London, pp. 51-53.

Date: 5th century (original in Irish); 1846 (translation in English)

By: Torna Éices (5th century)

Translated by: Samuel Ferguson (1810-1886)

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Uriel by Ralph Waldo Emerson

It fell in the ancient periods
Which the brooding soul surveys,
Or ever the wild Time coined itself
Into calendar months and days.

This was the lapse of Uriel,
Which in Paradise befell.
Once among the Pleiads walking,
Said overheard the young gods talking,
And the treason too long pent
To his ears was evident.
The young deities discussed
Laws of form and metre just,
Orb, quintessence, and sunbeams,
What subsisteth, and what seems.
One, with low tones that decide,
And doubt and reverend use defied,
With a look that solved the sphere,
And stirred the devils everywhere,
Gave his sentiment divine
Against the being of a line:
“Line in nature is not found,
Unit and universe are round;
In vain produced, all rays return,
Evil will bless, and ice will burn.”
As Uriel spoke with piercing eye,
A shudder ran around the sky;
The stern old war-gods shook their heads,
The seraphs frowned from myrtle-beds;
Seemed to the holy festival,
The rash word boded ill to all;
The balance-beam of Fate was bent;
The bonds of good and ill were rent;
Strong Hades could not keep his own,
But all slid to confusion.

A sad self-knowledge withering fell
On the beauty of Uriel.
In heaven once eminent, the god
Withdrew that hour into his cloud,
Whether doomed to long gyration
In the sea of generation,
Or by knowledge grown too bright
To hit the nerve of feebler sight.
Straightway a forgetting wind
Stole over the Celestial. kind,
And their lips the secret kept,
If in ashes the fibre-seed slept.
But now and then truth-speaking things
Shamed the angels’ veiling wings,
And, shrilling from the solar course,
Or from fruit of chemic force,
Procession of a soul in matter,
Or the speeding change of water,
Or out of the good of evil born,
Came Uriel’s voice of cherub scorn;
And a blush tinged the upper sky,
And the gods shook, they knew not why.


Date: 1846

By: Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882)

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

The Captive Dove by Anne Brontë

Poor restless dove, I pity thee;
And when I hear thy plaintive moan,
I mourn for thy captivity,
And in thy woes forget mine own.

To see thee stand prepared to fly,
And flap those useless wings of thine,
And gaze into the distant sky,
Would melt a harder heart than mine.

In vain—in vain! Thou canst not rise:
Thy prison roof confines thee there;
Its slender wires delude thine eyes,
And quench thy longings with despair.

Oh, thou wert made to wander free
In sunny mead and shady grove,
And far beyond the rolling sea,
In distant climes, at will to rove!

Yet, hadst thou but one gentle mate
Thy little drooping heart to cheer,
And share with thee thy captive state,
Thou couldst be happy even there.

Yes, even there, if, listening by,
One faithful dear companion stood,
While gazing on her full bright eye,
Thou mightst forget thy native wood

But thou, poor solitary dove,
Must make, unheard, thy joyless moan;
The heart that Nature formed to love
Must pine, neglected, and alone.

From: Bell, Currer, Ellis and Acton, Poems, 1846, Aylott and Jones of Paternoster Row: London, pp. 149-150.

Date: 1846

By: Anne Brontë (1820-1849)

Saturday, 18 May 2013

Life by Charlotte Brontë

Life, believe, is not a dream
So dark as sages say;
Oft a little morning rain
Foretells a pleasant day.
Sometimes there are clouds of gloom,
But these are transient all;
If the shower will make the roses bloom,
O why lament its fall?
Rapidly, merrily,
Life’s sunny hours flit by,
Gratefully, cheerily
Enjoy them as they fly!
What though Death at times steps in,
And calls our Best away?
What though sorrow seems to win,
O’er hope, a heavy sway?
Yet Hope again elastic springs,
Unconquered, though she fell;
Still buoyant are her golden wings,
Still strong to bear us well.
Manfully, fearlessly,
The day of trial bear,
For gloriously, victoriously,
Can courage quell despair!

From: Bell, Currer, Ellis and Acton, Poems, 1846, Aylott and Jones of Paternoster Row: London, pp. 81-82.

Date: 1846

By: Charlotte Brontë (1816-1855)

Friday, 3 February 2012

There Is A Place In Distant Seas by Richard Whately

There is a place in distant seas
Full of contrarieties:
There, beasts have mallards’ bills and legs,
Have spurs like cocks, like hens lay eggs.
There parrots walk upon the ground,
And grass upon the trees is found;
On other trees, another wonder!
Leaves without upper sides or under.
There pears you’ll scarce with hatchet cut;
Stones are outside the cherries put;
Swans are not white, but black as soot.
There neither leaf, nor root, nor fruit
Will any Christian palate suit,
Unless in desperate need you’d fill ye
With root of fern and stalk of lily.
There missiles to far distance sent
Come whizzing back from whence they went;
There quadrupeds go on two feet,
And yet few quadrupeds so fleet;
There birds, although they cannot fly,
In swiftness with your greyhound vie.
With equal wonder you may see
The foxes fly from tree to tree;
And what they value most, so wary,
These foxes in their pockets carry.
There the voracious ewe-sheep crams
Her paunch with flesh of tender lambs,
Instead of beef, and bread, and broth,
Men feast on many a roasted moth.
The north winds scorch, but when the breeze is
Full from the south, why then it freezes;
The sun when you to face him turn ye,
From right to left performs his journey.
Now of what place could such strange tales
Be told with truth save New South Wales?—


Date: 1846

By: Richard Whately (1787-1863)

Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Hope by Emily Brontë

Hope was but a timid friend;
She sat without the grated den,
Watching how my fate would tend,
Even as selfish-hearted men.

She was cruel in her fear;
Through the bars one dreary day,
I looked out to see her there,
And she turned her face away!

Like a false guard, false watch keeping,
Still, in strife, she whispered peace;
She would sing while I was weeping;
If I listened, she would cease.

False she was, and unrelenting;
When my last joys strewed the ground,
Even Sorrow saw, repenting,
Those sad relics scattered round;

Hope, whose whisper would have given
Balm to all my frenzied pain,
Stretched her wings, and soared to heaven,
Went, and ne’er returned again!


Date: 1846

By: Emily Brontë (1818-1848)