Posts tagged ‘1861’

Saturday, 17 October 2020

Coercion: A Poem for the Times by John Reuben Thompson

Who talks of coercion? Who dares to deny
A resolute people the right to be free?
Let him blot out forever one star from the sky
Or curb with his fetter one wave of the sea.

Who prates of coercion? Can love be restored
To bosoms where only resentment may dwell—
Can peace upon earth be proclaimed by the sword,
Or good will among men be established by shell?

Shame! shame that the statesman and trickster forsooth
Should have for a crisis no other recourse,
Beneath the fair day-spring of Light and of Truth,
Than the old brutem fulmen1 of Tyranny—Force.

From the holes where Fraud, Falsehood and Hate slink away:
From the crypt in which Error lies buried in chains—
This foul apparition stalks forth to the day,
And would ravage the land which his presence profanes.

Could you conquer us, Men of the North, could you bring
Desolation and death on our homes as a flood—
Can you hope the pure lily, Affection, will spring
From ashes all reeking and sodden with blood?

Could you brand us as villains, and serfs, know ye not
What fierce, sullen hatred lurks under the scar?
How loyal to Hapsburg is Venice, I wot.
How dearly the Pole loves his Father, the Czar!

But ’twere well to remember this land of the sun
Is a nutrix leonum and suckles a race
Strong-armed, lion-hearted and banded as one
Who brook not oppression and know not disgrace.

And well may the schemers in office beware
The swift retribution that waits upon crime,
When the lion, Resistance, shall leap from his lair
With a fury that renders his vengeance sublime.

Once, Men of the North, we were brothers, and still,
Though brothers no more, we would gladly be friends;
Nor join in a conflict accurst that must fill
With ruin the country on which it descends.

But if smitten with blindness and mad with the rage
The gods gave to all whom they wished to destroy.
You would not act a new Ilad to darken the age
With horrors beyond what is told us of Troy—

If, deaf as the adder itself to the cries,
When Wisdom, Humanity, Justice implore.
You would have our proud eagle to feed on the eyes
Of those who have taught him so grandly to soar—

If there be to your malice no limit imposed,
And you purpose hereafter to rule with the rod
The men upon whom you have already closed
Our goodly domain and the temples of God—

To the breeze then your banner dishonoured unfold,
And at once let the tocsin be sounded afar;
We greet you, as greeted the Swiss Charles the Bold,
With a farewell to peace and a welcome to war!

For the courage that clings to our soil, ever bright,
Shall catch inspirations from turf and from tide;
Our sons unappalled shall go forth to the fight
With the smile of the fair, the pure kiss of the bride;

And the bugles its echoes shall send through the past.
In the trenches of Yorktown to waken the slain;
While the sods of King’s Mountain shall heave at the blast.
And give up its heroes to glory again.

1. brutem fulmen – “empty thunder”, ie a bluff with no substance, an empty threat.
2. nutrix leonum – nurse/breastfeed lion cubs.

From: Thompson, John Reuben and Patton, John S. (ed.), Poems of John R. Thompson, 1920, Charles Scribner’s Sons: New York, pp. 36-38.

Date: 1861

By: John Reuben Thompson (1823-1873)

Friday, 8 June 2018

Canzone: Of the Gentle Heart by Guido Guinizelli

Within the gentle heart Love shelters him,
As birds within the green shade of the grove.
Before the gentle heart, in Nature’s scheme,
Love was not, nor the gentle heart ere Love.
For with the sun, at once,
So sprang the light immediately; nor was
Its birth before the sun’s.
And Love hath his effect in gentleness
Of very self; even as
Within the middle fire the heat’s excess.

The fire of Love comes to the gentle heart
Like as its virtue to a precious stone;
To which no star its influence can impart
Till it is made a pure thing by the sun;
For when the sun hath smit
From out its essence that which there was vile,
The star endoweth it.
And so the heart created by God’s breath
Pure, true, and clean from guile,
A woman, like a star, enamoureth.

In gentle heart Love for like reason is
For which the lamp’s high flame is fann’d and bow’d:
Clear, piercing bright, it shines for its own bliss;
Nor would it burn there else, it is so proud.
For evil natures meet
With love as it were water met with fire,
As cold abhorring heat.
Through gentle heart Love doth a track divine,
Like knowing like; the same
As diamond runs through iron in the mine.

The sun strikes full upon the mud all day;
It remains vile, nor the sun’s worth is less.
“By race I am gentle,” the proud man doth say:
He is the mud, the sun is gentleness.
Let no man predicate
That aught the name of gentleness should have,
Even in a king’s estate,
Except the heart there be a gentle man’s.
The star-beam lights the wave, —
Heaven holds the star and the star’s radiance.

God, in the understanding of high Heaven,
Burns more than in our sight the living sun;
There to behold His Face unveil’d is given;
And Heaven, whose will is homage paid to One.
Fulfils the things which live
In God, from the beginning excellent.
So should my lady give
That truth which in her eyes is glorified,
On which her heart is bent,
To me whose service waiteth at her side.

My lady, God shall ask, “What dared’st thou?”
(When my soul stands with all her acts review’d);
“Thou passed’st Heaven, into My sight, as now,
To make Me of vain love similitude.
To Me doth praise belong,
And to the Queen of all the realm of grace
Who endeth fraud and wrong.”
Then may I plead : “As though from Thee he came,
Love wore an angel’s face:
Lord, if I loved her, count it not my shame.”

From: Rossetti, Dante Gabriel, Poems and Translations by Dante Gabriel Rossetti including Dante’s “Vita Nuova” & “The Early Italian Poets”, ?1912, J. M. Dent: London & E. P. Dutton & Co.: New York, pp. 168-170.

Date: c1260 (original in Italian); 1861 (translation in English)

By: Guido Guinizelli (c1230-1276)

Translated by: Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828-1882)

Friday, 1 September 2017

The Smiles of Heaven: A Ballad by Basil Edward Kendall

The smiles of Heaven surely rest
Upon a vernal world,
When over Nature’s generous breast
The sunshine is unfurled.
Though envious clouds may sometimes cross
Those trackless fields of blue,
The day-gleams, with resistless force,
Will yet come blazing through.
And when we gaze on Beauty pure,–
Spread round, beneath, and o’er,–
We cannot in our hearts be sure
That Eden is no more!

The midnight breeze, it never fails,
In balmy summer hours,
To seek the heathery mountain-vales,
And roam among the flowers.
Past many a weird-like crag it floats,
The branches wailing on,
As if it mourned in fitful notes,
The absence of the sun.
It sleepeth when the morning-light,
Descending, robes the plain;
But, once the day is lost in night,
Those echoes wake again!

The tropic billows line the Deep,
And gently strive to reach
The wild, primeval island-steep,
Beyond the barren beach.
But, every time they greet the base,
Those golden waves are hurled,
From off the cliff’s unfriendly face,
Into their ocean-world!
Yet, while the sun is left to burn,
On Heaven’s arches o’er,
They still will constantly return,
To woo that senseless shore.

So I rejoice to see the rays
Of Fortune round you thrown;
Tho’ in your bright Elysian days
I’m scorned, and left alone!
And if those smiles should chance to cease,
My faithful heart will wail,
As mourns the viewless midnight breeze,
Across the mountain-vale.
Altho’ when seeking love from you,
Your bitter words I meet,
I still must, like the bilows, throw
My treasures at your feet.


Date: 1861

By: Basil Edward Kendall (1839-1874)

Wednesday, 26 October 2016

No Jewel is Worth His Lady by Giacomo da Lentini

Sapphire, nor diamond, nor emerald,
Nor other precious stones past reckoning,
Topaz, nor pearl, nor ruby like a king,
Nor that most virtuous jewel, jasper call’d,
Nor amethyst, nor onyx, nor basalt,
Each counted for a verv marvellous thing,
Is half so excellently gladdening,
As is my lady’s head uncoronall’d.
All beauty by her beauty is made dim;
Like to the stars she is for loftiness;
And with her voice she taketh away grief.
She is fairer than a bud, or than a leaf.
Christ have her well in keeping, of His grace,
And make her holy and beloved, like Him!

From: Rosetti, Dante Gabriel (ed. and transl.), Dante and His Circle: with the Italian Poets Preceding Him. (1100-1200-1300). A Collection of Lyrics, 1887, Roberts Brothers: Boston, p. 201.

Date: 13th century (original in Sicilian dialect); 1861 (translation in English)

By: Giacomo da Lentini (13th century)

Translated by: Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828-1882)

Sunday, 13 March 2016

On the Fitness of Seasons by Enzo, King of Sardinia

There is a time to mount; to humble thee
A time; a time to talk, and hold thy peace;
A time to labour, and a time to cease;
A time to take thy measures patiently;
A time to watch what Time’s next step may be;
A time to make light count of menaces,
And to think over them, a time there is;
There is a time when to seem not to see.
Wherefore I hold him well-advised and sage
Who evermore keeps prudence facing him,
And lets his life slide with occasion;
And so comports himself, through youth to age,
That never any man at any time
Can say, Not thus, but Thus thou shouldst have done.

From: Rossetti, Dante Gabriel, Dante and His Circle: With the Italian Poets Preceding Him (1100-1200-1300), 1887, Roberts Brothers: Boston, p. 186.


Date: c1250 (original); 1861 (translation)

By: Enzo, King of Sardinia (1225-1272)

Translated by: Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828-1882)

Friday, 10 October 2014

Sonnet by Joseph Noël Paton

And is it thus our feverous race we run
Through, visible life, — that dream within a dream,
To death, — that WHAT? — like bubbles on a stream,
Bright or obscure, as Fortune’s venal sun
Flatters or flouts, with arbitrary gleam.
Like these, we are not, but do only seem:
Mere hollow semblants! Catching, as a mirror,
Our hues from circumstance: — or truth, or error —
Or gloom, or gaiety. And though, awhile,
We may deceive, and win her specious smile,
With others, as ourselves, deceitful, vain;
What boots it? Will that medicate the pain
Of conscious insignificance? and when
Life’s paltry bubble bursts, — ceases to seem — what then?

From: Paton, J.N., Poems, by a painter, 1861, William Blackwood and Sons, Edinburgh and London, p. 59.

Date: 1861

By: Joseph Noël Paton (1821-1901)

Friday, 1 August 2014

Truth by Thomas Ashe

If I were purer and more spiritual,
With less alloy of base and earthly mould,
I might a little find out truth, and fall
A musing nobly, and grow noble soul’d.
If truth lay hid, like coral, in the sea,
Then I should have it, swiftly diving down;
Or if red driftweed shrouded it from me
On shallow sand banks seaward, ribb’d and brown,
I would swim out and find it. If the spray
Of rude waves lash’d it on the cliffs, right soon,
Along the nest-spread ledges, wet and grey,
I would descend, and grasp the dangerous boon.
But truth is hid, O truth is hid, somewhere;
In heaven, with God: and that is my despair.

From: Ashe, T., Poems, 1871, H. Knights: Ipswich, pp. 96-97.

Date: 1861

By: Thomas Ashe (1836-1889)

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

A Word for the Hour by John Greenleaf Whittier

The firmament breaks up. In black eclipse
Light after light goes out. One evil star,
Luridly glaring through the smoke of war,
As in the dream of the Apocalypse,
Drags others down. Let us not weakly weep
Nor rashly threaten. Give us grace to keep
Our faith and patience; wherefore should we leap
On one hand into fratricidal fight,
Or, on the other, yield eternal right,
Frame lies of law, and good and ill confound?
What fear we? Safe on freedom’s vantage-ground
Our feet are planted: let us there remain
In unrevengeful calm, no means untried
Which truth can sanction, no just claim denied,
The sad spectators of a suicide!
They break the links of Union: shall we light
The fires of hell to weld anew the chain
On that red anvil where each blow is pain?
Draw we not even now a freer breath,
As from our shoulders falls a load of death
Loathsome as that the Tuscan’s victim bore
When keen with life to a dead horror bound?
Why take we up the accursed thing again?
Pity, forgive, but urge them back no more
Who, drunk with passion, flaunt disunion’s rag
With its vile reptile-blazon. Let us press
The golden cluster on our brave old flag
In closer union, and, if numbering less,
Brighter shall shine the stars which still remain.

16th First mo., 1861.

From: Whittier, John Greenleaf, The Works of John Greenleaf Whittier, Volume III (of VII). Anti-Slavery Poems and Songs of Labor and Reform, 2009, Project Gutenberg eBook.

Date: 1861

By: John Greenleaf Whittier (1807-1892)

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

The Night Cometh by Annie Louis Walker

Work! for the night is coming;
Work! through the morning hours;
Work! while the dew is sparkling;
Work! ‘mid the springing flowers;
Work! while the day grows brighter,
Under the glowing sun;
Work! for the night is coming,–
Night, when man’s work is done.

Work! for the night is coming;
Work! through the sunny noon;
Fill the bright hours with labour,
Rest cometh sure and soon.
Give to each flying minute
Something to keep in store;
Work! for the night is coming,–
Night, when man works no more.

Work! for the night is coming;
Under the sunset skies,
While their bright tints are glowing,
Work! for the daylight flies;
Work! till the last beam fadeth,
Fadeth to shine no more;
Work! while the night is darkening,–
Night, when man’s work is o’er.


Date: 1861

By: Annie Louisa Walker (1836-1907)

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

The Battle Hymn of the Republic by Julia Ward Howe

Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord;
He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored;
He hath loosed the fateful lightning of His terrible swift sword;
His truth is marching on.
Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!
Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! His truth is marching on.

I have seen Him in the watch fires of a hundred circling camps
They have builded Him an altar in the evening dews and damps;
I can read His righteous sentence by the dim and flaring lamps;
His day is marching on.
Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!
Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! His day is marching on.

I have read a fiery Gospel writ in burnished rows of steel;
“As ye deal with My contemners, so with you My grace shall deal”;
Let the Hero, born of woman, crush the serpent with His heel,
Since God is marching on.
Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!
Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! Since God is marching on.

He has sounded forth the trumpet that shall never call retreat;
He is sifting out the hearts of men before His judgment seat;
Oh, be swift, my soul, to answer Him! be jubilant, my feet;
Our God is marching on.
Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!
Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! Our God is marching on.

In the beauty of the lilies Christ was born across the sea,
With a glory in His bosom that transfigures you and me:
As He died to make men holy, let us live to make men free;
[originally …let us die to make men free]
While God is marching on.
Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!
Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! While God is marching on.

He is coming like the glory of the morning on the wave,
He is wisdom to the mighty, He is honor to the brave;
So the world shall be His footstool, and the soul of wrong His slave,
Our God is marching on.
Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!
Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! Our God is marching on.


Date: 1861

By: Julia Ward Howe (1819-1910)