Posts tagged ‘1885’

Saturday, 25 December 2021

A Christmas Letter from Australia by Douglas Brooke Wheelton Sladen

’T is Christmas, and the North wind blows; ’t was two years yesterday
Since from the Lusitania’s bows I looked o’er Table Bay,
A tripper round the narrow world, a pilgrim of the main,
Expecting when her sails unfurled to start for home again.

’T is Christmas, and the North wind blows; to-day our hearts are one,
Though you are ’mid the English snows and I in Austral sun;
You, when you hear the Northern blast, pile high a mightier fire,
Our ladies cower until it’s past in lawn and lace attire.

I fancy I can picture you upon this Christmas night,
Just sitting as you used to do, the laughter at its height:
And then a sudden, silent pause intruding on your glee,
And kind eyes glistening because you chanced to think of me.

This morning when I woke and knew ’t was Christmas come again,
I almost fancied I could view white rime upon the pane,
And hear the ringing of the wheels upon the frosty ground,
And see the drip that downward steals in icy casket bound.

I daresay you ’ll be on the lake, or sliding on the snow,
And breathing on your hands to make the circulation flow,
Nestling your nose among the furs of which your boa ’s made,—
The Fahrenheit here registers a hundred in the shade.

It is not quite a Christmas here with this unclouded sky,
This pure transparent atmosphere, this sun midheaven-high;
To see the rose upon the bush, young leaves upon the trees,
And hear the forest’s summer hush or the low hum of bees.

But cold winds bring not Christmastide, nor budding roses June,
And when it’s night upon your side we ’re basking in the noon.
Kind hearts make Christmas—June can bring blue sky or clouds above;
The only universal spring is that which comes of love.

And so it’s Christmas in the South as on the North-Sea coasts,
Though we are starved with summer-drouth and you with winter frosts.
And we shall have our roast beef here, and think of you the while,
Though all the watery hemisphere cuts off the mother isle.

Feel sure that we shall think of you, we who have wandered forth,
And many a million thoughts will go to-day from south to north;
Old heads will muse on churches old, where bells will ring to-day—
The very bells, perchance, which tolled their fathers to the clay.

And now, good-night! and I shall dream that I am with you all,
Watching the ruddy embers gleam athwart the panelled hall;
Nor care I if I dream or not, though severed by the foam,
My heart is always in the spot which was my childhood’s home.


Date: 1885

By: George Brooke Wheelton Sladen (1856-1947)

Sunday, 29 March 2020

The Times to Come by Charles A. Houfe

The moon that borrows now a gentle light
Once burned another sun; then from on high
The earth received a double day; the sky
Showed but faint stars, and never knew a night.
The poles, now frigid and for ever white
With the deep snows that on their bosoms lie,
Were torrid as the moon that hung thereby
And mingled rays as fiercely hot as bright.
Mutations infinite! Through shifting sea
And lands huge monstrous beasts once took their range
Where now our stately world shows pleasantly!
Then be not fearful at the thought of change,
For though unknown the times that are to be,
Yet shall they prove most beautifully strange.


Date: 1885

By: Charles A. Houfe (fl. 1885)

Saturday, 15 September 2018

Ballade of Middle Age by Andrew Lang

Our youth began with tears and sighs,
With seeking what we could not find;
Our verses all were threnodies,
In elegiacs still we whined;
Our ears were deaf, our eyes were blind,
We sought and knew not what we sought.
We marvel, now we look behind:
Life’s more amusing than we thought!

Oh, foolish youth, untimely wise!
Oh, phantoms of the sickly mind!
What? not content with seas and skies,
With rainy clouds and southern wind,
With common cares and faces kind,
With pains and joys each morning brought?
Ah, old, and worn, and tired we find
Life’s more amusing than we thought!

Though youth “turns spectre-thin and dies,”
To mourn for youth we’re not inclined;
We set our souls on salmon flies,
We whistle where we once repined.
Confound the woes of human-kind!
By Heaven we’re “well deceived,” I wot;
Who hum, contented or resigned,
“Life’s more amusing than we thought”!

O nate mecum, worn and lined
Our faces show, but that is naught;
Our hearts are young ’neath wrinkled rind:
Life’s more amusing than we thought!

From: Lang, Andrew, Ballades & Rhymes: From Ballades in Blue China and Rhymes à la Mode, 1911, Longmans, Green and Co: London, New York and Calcutta, pp. 147-148.

Date: 1885

By: Andrew Lang (1844-1912)

Friday, 13 July 2018

For the Book of Love by Jules Laforgue

I may be dead tomorrow, uncaressed.
My lips have never touched a woman’s, none
Has given me in a look her soul, not one
Has ever held me swooning at her breast.

I have but suffered, for all nature, trees
Whipped by the winds, wan flowers, the ashen sky,
Suffered with all my nerves, minutely, I
Have suffered for my soul’s impurities.

And I have spat on love, and, mad with pride,
Slaughtered my flesh, and life’s revenge I brave,
And, while the whole world else was Instinct’s slave,
With bitter laughter Instinct I defied.

In drawing-rooms, the theatre, the church,
Before cold men, the greatest, most refined,
And women with eyes jealous, proud, or kind,
Whose tender souls no lust would seem to smirch.

I thought: This is the end for which they work.
Beasts coupling with the groaning beasts they capture.
And all this dirt for just three minutes’ rapture!
Men, be correct! And women, purr and smirk!


Date: 1885 (original in French); 1912 (translation in English)

By: Jules Laforgue (1860-1887)

Translated by: Jethro Bithell (1878-1962)

Sunday, 22 October 2017

The Lay of the Trilobite by May Kendall (Emma Goldworth Kendall)

A mountain’s giddy height I sought,
Because I could not find
Sufficient vague and mighty thought
To fill my mighty mind;
And as I wandered ill at ease,
There chanced upon my sight
A native of Silurian seas,
An ancient Trilobite.

So calm, so peacefully he lay,
I watched him even with tears:
I thought of Monads far away
In the forgotten years.
How wonderful it seemed and right,
The providential plan,
That he should be a Trilobite,
And I should be a Man!

And then, quite natural and free
Out of his rocky bed,
That Trilobite he spoke to me
And this is what he said:
‘I don’t know how the thing was done,
Although I cannot doubt it;
But Huxley – he if anyone
Can tell you all about it;

‘How all your faiths are ghosts and dreams,
How in the silent sea
Your ancestors were Monotremes –
Whatever these may be;
How you evolved your shining lights
Of wisdom and perfection
From Jelly-Fish and Trilobites
By Natural Selection.

‘You’ve Kant to make your brains go round,
Hegel you have to clear them,
You’ve Mr Browning to confound,
And Mr Punch to cheer them!
The native of an alien land
You call a man and brother,
And greet with hymn-book in one hand
And pistol in the other!

‘You’ve Politics to make you fight
As if you were possessed:
You’ve cannon and you’ve dynamite
To give the nations rest:
The side that makes the loudest din
Is surest to be right,
And oh, a pretty fix you’re in!’
Remarked the Trilobite.

‘But gentle, stupid, free from woe
I lived among my nation,
I didn’t care – I didn’t know
That I was a Crustacean.*
I didn’t grumble, didn’t steal,
I never took to rhyme:
Salt water was my frugal meal,
And carbonate of lime.’

Reluctantly I turned away,
No other word he said;
An ancient Trilobite, he lay
Within his rocky bed.
I did not answer him, for that
Would have annoyed my pride:
I merely bowed, and raised my hat,
But in my heart I cried: –

‘I wish our brains were not so good,
I wish our skulls were thicker,
I wish that Evolution could
Have stopped a little quicker;
For oh, it was a happy plight,
Of liberty and ease,
To be a simple Trilobite
In the Silurian seas!’

*He was not a Crustacean. He has since discovered he was an Arachnid, or something similar. But he says it does not matter. He says they told him wrong once, and they may again.


Date: 1885

By: May Kendall (Emma Goldworth Kendall) (1861-1943)

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Australia by Philip Joseph Holdsworth

O Muse divine! within whose strange soft lyre
Melodious lays of subtle strength and splendour
Sleep, till the Bard’s quick touch and tongue of fire
Lure them to life: — Even Thou, sweet Muse, engender
Within my brain, songs passionate and tender —
Songs sung or harped ‘mid thy most secret spheres,
But snatched by amorous couriers to mine ears,
And hoarded in my soul’s most hallowed cells
(Where the mute seraph. Contemplation, dwells)
Till the renascent hour,
When, summoned by thy power,
Dainty and swift once more their melody outwells.

Australia! he that anthems thee aright
Must psalm his loud delight
With lips of gold, and supple tongue as pure,
And sounding harp, than mine less immature!
Yet, should my happy verse, though faint, refuse
To trumpet forth thy dues,
Methinks dumb trees (each leaf a tongue of flame!)
Would clarion out thy grandeur, and my shame;
Thy timorous vales responsively would hymn
Like sweet-lipped cherubim—
Each peak would lift its sky-saluting crest
Still loftier from earth’s breast,
And blend, with melting murmurs, into strong
Ambrosial breaths of song:
Yea, vehemently plead to listening earth
The perfect marvel of thy matchless worth!

Thrice hail the bright day when the refluent sea
Witnessed the birth of thee!
When, from dark, solemn, depths of foam-fringed surge,
Mysterious and divine, thou didst emerge;
Framed, by God’s grace, that after-years might see
A sacred shrine, thrice dear to Liberty!
On that glad day (O best-born day of Time!)
God gathered rare delights from each fair clime,
And scattering them with bountiful High Hand,
Most lavishly they rained on thee O Land!
Such was the ripe wealth of the prodigal dower
That decked thy natal hour!

Yet, like some magic scroll,
Which no man dare unroll,
Enchantment veiled thy beauties, while sublime
And shadowy epochs scaled the steeps of Time;
Till the brave mariner, with bounding ships,
Clove, through green Sea’s foam-lips,
To where thy tranquil splendors slept, impearled,
And, from obscure recesses, called a Second World.

Thine was the trumpet-tongue, illustrious Cook,
That roused Mankind, and shook
Blind, brooding, Ignorance from Austral waves,
And drove her, darkling, to far dungeon-caves!
Thine was the hand that found,
And valiantly unbound,
The long-closed Volume of our land’s delight,
And bared the priceless wealth thereof, in all men’s sight.

For this, O chief of Ocean’s pioneer’s,
Thy dauntless deeds make music in our ears —
(Outsinging all thy peers!)
For this, just Memory, heedful of great acts,
Imperially enacts
That, in her clearest chronicle, loud Fame
Shall glorify thy name!
(A shining tribute which few kings can claim!)

Dear land! above whose hills, and vales, and streams,
Joy swoons, delirious, rapt with honeyed dreams! —
Thou hast no storied plains,
Thick-strewn with shattered palaces and fanes —
No old-world wrecks, which prate to distant times
Of perished pomps, and records red with crimes.
And thy clear springing waters,
Unbeaconed with the blood of human slaughters,
Haste, garrulous with glee,
To mix full treasures in one placid sea!
Nor hast thou viewed the baleful day
When phalanxes, in mailed array,
Spurred by the hate that Vengeance hoards,
Shook the sharp clamors from their clashing swords
And bade the foe, with blow and thrust,
Bite the blind, suffocating dust —
Till Virtue trembled from her god-like seat,
And, wailing, fled with faint, reluctant feet.

For round thy broad, delectable expanse,
Soft Peace broods, sweetly, in celestial trance;
While, quiet and benign,
Unnumbered synods of winged joys combine
To guard, with gracious care, thy prospering State
From rough, rude brawls, and travelling tongues of hate!

O Austral hills, and dim delightful dells!
O boundless plains, made glad with fruitful things!
O storm-worn cliffs, whose stern, stark, front repels
The surge that spins aloft on soft white wings!
O sleepless clamors of sea-thunderings!
Straight through your realms let one triumphal chant
Ring, — swift and jubilant!
Even from the sea, to where lone, swirling, plains
(Remote from grovelling cits, and stolid swains!)
Stretch, for fantastic leagues, their drear domains —
Lift your high anthems — till dull Man confess
(Right volubly) my land’s rare loveliness;
And trump, in tones that none dare controvert
A World’s loud homage to her rich desert!

From: Holdsworth, Philip J., Station Hunting on the Warrego: Australia: At the Valley of the Popran: and Other Poems, 1885, William Maddock: Sydney, pp. 2-6.

Date: 1885

By: Philip Joseph Holdsworth (1851-1902)

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Song by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra

Sweet Hope, my stay,
That onward to the goal of thy intent
Dost make thy way,
Heedless of hindrance or impediment,
Have thou no fear
If at each step thou findest death is near.

No victory,
No joy of triumph doth the faint heart know;
Unblest is he
That a bold front to Fortune dares not show,
But soul and sense
In bondage yieldeth up to indolence.

If Love his wares
Do dearly sell, his right must be contest;
What gold compares
With that whereon his stamp he hath imprest?
And all men know
What costeth little that we rate but low.

Love resolute
Knows not the word “impossibility;”
And though my suit
Beset by endless obstacles I see,
Yet no despair
Shall hold me bound to earth while heaven is there.


Date: 1605 (Spanish), 1885 (English)

By: Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra (c1547-1616)

Translated: by John Ormsby (1829-1895)

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

The Book-Plate’s Petition by Henry Austin Dobson

By a gentleman of the temple.

While cynic CHARLES still trimm’d the vane
‘Twixt Querouaille and Castlemaine,
In days that shocked JOHN EVELYN,
My First Possessor fixed me in.
In days of Dutchmen, and of frost,
The narrow sea with JAMES I cross’d,
Returning when once more began
The Age of Saturn and of ANNE.
I am a part of all the past;
I knew the GEORGES, first and last;
I have been oft where else was none
Save the great wig of ADDISON;
And seen on shelves beneath me grope
The little eager form of POPE.
I lost the Third that owned me when
French NOAILLES fled at Dettingen;
The year JAMES WOLFE surpris’d Quebec,
The Fourth in hunting broke his neck;
The day that WILLIAM HOGARTH dy’d,
The Fifth one found me in Cheapside.
This was a Scholar, one of those
Whose Greek is sounder than their hose;
He lov’d old Books and nappy ale,
So liv’d at Streatham, next to THRALE.
‘Twas there this stain of grease I boast
Was made by DR. JOHNSON’S toast.
(He did it, as I think, for Spite;
My Master call’d him Jacobite!)
And now that I so long to-day
Have rested post discrimina,
Safe in the brass-wir’d book-case where
I watch’d the Vicar’s whit’ning hair,
Must I these travell’d bones inter
In some Collector’s sepulchre!
Must I be torn herefrom and thrown
With frontispiece and colophon!
With vagrant E’s, and I’s, and O’s,
The spoil of plunder’d Folios!
With scraps and snippets that to Me
Are naught but kitchen company!
Nay, rather, FRIEND, this favour grant me:
Tear me at once; but don’t transplant me.

Sept. 31, 1792.

From: Dobson, Austin, Collected Poems in Two Volumes, Volume II, 1895, Dodd, Mead and Company: London, pp. 87-88.

Date: 1885

By: Henry Austin Dobson (1840-1921)

Thursday, 30 May 2013

Tragedies by George Pellew

A Fragment

The saddest of all tragedies are those
Wherein the actors dare not speak a word;
Warm hearts are broken, but no sound is heard,
And all goes smiling to the fatal close.
And sometimes there is one who partly knows.
As I half know, how like a frightened bird,
For all your brave, gay looks, your heart is stirred.
And trembles in the midst of loving foes.

From: Pellew, George, The Poems of George Pellew, edited, with an Introduction, by W D Howells, 1892, W B Clarke & Co: Boston, p. 38.

Date: 1885

By: George Pellew (1859-1892)

Sunday, 10 February 2013

No Message by Mary Hannay Black Foott

She heard the story of the end,
Each message, too, she heard;—
And there was one for every friend;—
For her alone—no word.

And shall she bear a heavier heart,
And deem his love was fled;
Because his soul from earth could part
Leaving her name unsaid?

No—No!—Though neither sign nor sound
A parting thought expressed—
Not heedless passed the Homeward-Bound
Of her he loved the best.

Of voyage-perils, bravely borne,
He would not tell the tale;
Of shattered planks and canvas torn,
And war with wind and gale.

He waited,—till the light-house star
Should rise against the sky;
And from the mainland, looming far,—
The forest scents blow by.

He hoped to tell—assurance sweet!—
That pain and grief were o’er—
What blessings haste the soul to meet,
Ere yet within the door.

Then one farewell he thought to speak
When all the rest were past—
As in the parting-hour we seek
The dearest hand the last.

And while for this delaying but
To see Heaven’s opening Gate—
Lo,—it received him—and was shut—
Ere he could say “I wait.”


Date: 1885

By: Mary Hannay Black Foott (1846-1918)