Posts tagged ‘1899’

Monday, 31 July 2017

Flying Fish by Mary McNeil Fenollosa (Sidney McCall)

Out where the sky and the sky blue sea
Merge in a mist of sheen,
There started a vision of silver things,
A leap and a quiver, a flash of wings
The sky and the sea between.

Is it of birds from the blue above,
Or fish from the depths that be?
Or is it the ghosts
In silver hosts
Of birds that were drowned at sea?

From: Fenollosa, Mary McNeil, Out of the Nest. A Flight of Verses, 1899, Little, Brown and Company: Boston, p. 8.

Date: 1899

By: Mary McNeil Fenollosa (Sidney McCall) (1865-1954)

Thursday, 6 April 2017

Chorus of Trojan Women from “The Daughters of Troy” by Lucius Annaeus Seneca

Is it true, or does an idle story
Make the timid dream that after death,
When the loved one shuts the wearied eyelids,
When the last day’s sun has come and gone,
And the funeral urn has hid the ashes,
He shall still live on among the shades?
Does it not avail to bear the dear one
To the grave? Must misery still endure
Longer life beyond? Does not all perish
When the fleeting spirit fades in air
Cloudlike? When the dreaded fire is lighted
‘Neath the body, does no part remain?
Whatsoe’er the rising sun or setting
Sees; whatever ebbing tide or flood
Of the ocean with blue waters washes,
Time with Pegasean flight destroys.
Like the sweep of whirling constellations,
Like the circling of their king the sun,
Haste the ages. As obliquely turning
Hecate speeds, so all must seek their fate;
He who touches once the gloomy water
Sacred to the god, exists no more.
As the sordid smoke from smoldering embers
Swiftly dies, or as a heavy cloud,
That the north wind scatters, ends its being,
So the soul that rules us slips away;
After death is nothing ; death is nothing
But the last mete of a swift-run race,
Which to eager souls gives hope, to fearful
Sets a limit to their fears. Believe
Eager time and the abyss engulf us;
Death is fatal to the flesh, nor spares
Spirit even; Tænaris, the kingdom
Of the gloomy monarch, and the door
Where sits Cerberus and guards the portal,
Are but empty rumors, senseless names,
Fables vain, that trouble anxious sleep.
Ask you whither go we after death?
Where they lie who never have been born.

From: Seneca, Lucius Annaeus and Harris, Ella Isabel, Two Tragedies of Seneca: Medea and The Daughters of Troy. Rendered into English Verse with an Introduction, 1899, Houghton, Miflin and Company: Boston and New York, pp. 62-63.

Date: c50 (original in Latin); 1899 (translation in English)

By: Lucius Annaeus Seneca (c4 BCE-65 CE)

Translated by: Ella Isabel Harris (1859-1923)

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Processional by Alice Archer Sewall James

My love leads the white bulls to sacrifice.
He is white, and he leans against their folded necks.
Blue is the sky behind them, and the dust from the highway yellows his ivory limbs.
He leans and moves, restraining, yet drawn on by tossing heads.
He feels the festal music; rapid and strong are his arms and breast;
Yet from his waist beneath, loose and slow is his resting pace,
Flowers are in his hair, and he is fair.
He thinks he is but strong; he can overcome,
And his mind sees only the impatient horns;
But my heart sees his slimness, and would care for him like a mother.
My love leads the white bulls to sacrifice.


Date: 1899

By: Alice Archer Sewall James (1870-1955)

Thursday, 21 April 2016

Lorica by Gildas

Help unity of trinity,
have pity trinity of unity;
Help me, I pray, thus placed
as in the peril of a great sea,
So that the plague of this year
draw me not with it, nor the vanity of the world.
And this very petition I make unto the high
powers of the heavenly warfare,
that they leave me not to be harried by enemies,
but defend me with their strong armour;
that, before me in the battle, go
those armies of the heavenly warfare,
Cherubim and Seraphim with their thousands,
Gabriel and Michael with like ones.
May thrones, powers, archangels,
principalities, dominions, angels,
defend me with their thick array,
and be strong to overthrow my enemies.
Then also the other arbiters of the strife—-
patriarchs four, prophets four,
Apostles, watchmen of the ship of Christ,
And the athlete martyrs all—-I ask,
And adjure also all virgins,
faithful widows, and confessors,
that safety compass me by them,
and every evil perish from me.
May Christ make with me a strong covenant,
He whose terror scares away the foul throngs.

God the unconquerable guardian,
defend me on every side by thy power.
Free Thou all limbs of mine,
with Thy safe shield protecting each,
so that the fell demons brandish not
against my sides, as is their wont, their darts.
Skull, head, hair and eyes,
forehead, tongue, teeth and their covering,
neck, breast, side, bowels,
waist, buttocks and both hands.
For the crown of my head with its hair,
be Thou the helmet of salvation on the head;
For forehead, eyes, triform brain,
nose, lip, face, temple,
For chin, beard, eye-brows, ears,
cheeks, lower cheeks, internasal, nostrils,
For the pupils, irides, eyelashes, eyelids,
chin, breathing, cheeks, jaws,
For teeth, tongue, mouth, throat,
uvula, windpipe, bottom of tongue, nape,
For the middle of the head, for cartilage,
neck—-Thou kind One, be near for defence.

Lord be Thou safest lorica,
for my limbs, for my entrails,
that thou mayest thrust back from me the invisible
nails of stakes, which enemies fashion.
Cover, therefore, O God, with strong corslet,
along with shoulder blades, shoulders and arms.
Cover elbows with elbow-joints and hands,
fists, palms, fingers with their nails.
Cover back-bone and ribs with their joints,
hind-parts, back, nerves and bones.
Cover surface, blood and kidneys,
haunches, buttocks with the thighs.
Cover hams, calves, thighs,
knee-caps, houghs and knees.
Cover ankles, shins and heels,
legs, feet with the rests of the soles.
Cover the branches that grow ten together,
with the toes with the nails ten.
Cover chest, its join, the little breast,
paps, stomach, navel.
Cover belly, reins, genitals,
and paunch, and vital parts also of the heart.
Cover the triangular liver and fat,
spleen, armpits with covering (?).
Cover stomach, chest with the lungs,
veins, sinews, gall-bladder with……
Cover flesh, groin with the inner parts,
spleen with the winding intestines.
Cover bladder, fat and all
the numberless orders of joints.
Cover hairs, and the rest of my limbs,
whose names, may be, I have passed by.
Cover me all in all with my five senses,
and with the ten doors formed (for me),
so that, from my soles to the top of the head,
in no member, without within, may I be sick;
that, from my body, life be not cast out
by plague, fever, weakness, suffering,
Until, with the gift of old age from God,
I blot out my sins with good works;
And, in departing from the flesh, be free from stain,
and be able to fly to the heights,
and, by the mercy of God, be borne in joy
to the heavenly cool retreats of His kingdom.


Date: c550 (original); 1899 (translation)

By: Gildas (c500-570)

Translated by: Hugh Williams (1843-1911)

Sunday, 2 June 2013

Sympathy by Paul Laurence Dunbar

I know what the caged bird feels, alas!
When the sun is bright on the upland slopes;
When the wind stirs soft through the springing grass,
And the river flows like a stream of glass;
When the first bird sings and the first bud opes,
And the faint perfume from its chalice steals —
I know what the caged bird feels!

I know why the caged bird beats his wing
Till its blood is red on the cruel bars;
For he must fly back to his perch and cling
When he fain would be on the bough a-swing;
And a pain still throbs in the old, old scars
And they pulse again with a keener sting —
I know why he beats his wing!

I know why the caged bird sings, ah me,
When his wing is bruised and his bosom sore,—
When he beats his bars and he would be free;
It is not a carol of joy or glee,
But a prayer that he sends from his heart’s deep core,
But a plea, that upward to Heaven he flings —
I know why the caged bird sings!


Date: 1899

By: Paul Laurence Dunbar (1872-1906)

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

The City at the End of Things by Archibald Lampman

Beside the pounding cataracts
Of midnight streams unknown to us
‘Tis builded in the leafless tracts
And valleys huge of Tartarus.
Lurid and lofty and vast it seems;
It hath no rounded name that rings,
But I have heard it called in dreams
The City of the End of Things.
Its roofs and iron towers have grown
None knoweth how high within the night,
But in its murky streets far down
A flaming terrible and bright
Shakes all the stalking shadows there,
Across the walls, across the floors,
And shifts upon the upper air
From out a thousand furnace doors;
And all the while an awful sound
Keeps roaring on continually,
And crashes in the ceaseless round
Of a gigantic harmony.
Through its grim depths re-echoing
And all its weary height of walls,
With measured roar and iron ring,
The inhuman music lifts and falls.
Where no thing rests and no man is,
And only fire and night hold sway;
The beat, the thunder and the hiss
Cease not, and change not, night nor day.
And moving at unheard commands,
The abysses and vast fires between,
Flit figures that with clanking hands
Obey a hideous routine;
They are not flesh, they are not bone,
They see not with the human eye,
And from their iron lips is blown
A dreadful and monotonous cry;
And whoso of our mortal race
Should find that city unaware,
Lean Death would smite him face to face,
And blanch him with its venomed air:
Or caught by the terrific spell,
Each thread of memory snapt and cut,
His soul would shrivel and its shell
Go rattling like an empty nut.

It was not always so, but once,
In days that no man thinks upon,
Fair voices echoed from its stones,
The light above it leaped and shone:
Once there were multitudes of men,
That built that city in their pride,
Until its might was made, and then
They withered age by age and died.
But now of that prodigious race,
Three only in an iron tower,
Set like carved idols face to face,
Remain the masters of its power;
And at the city gate a fourth,
Gigantic and with dreadful eyes,
Sits looking toward the lightless north,
Beyond the reach of memories;
Fast rooted to the lurid floor,
A bulk that never moves a jot,
In his pale body dwells no more,
Or mind or soul,-an idiot!
But sometime in the end those three
Shall perish and their hands be still,
And with the master’s touch shall flee
Their incommunicable skill.
A stillness absolute as death
Along the slacking wheels shall lie,
And, flagging at a single breath,
The fires shall moulder out and die.
The roar shall vanish at its height,
And over that tremendous town
The silence of eternal night
Shall gather close and settle down.
All its grim grandeur, tower and hall,
Shall be abandoned utterly,
And into rust and dust shall fall
From century to century;
Nor ever living thing shall grow,
Nor trunk of tree, nor blade of grass;
No drop shall fall, no wind shall blow,
Nor sound of any foot shall pass:
Alone of its accursèd state,
One thing the hand of Time shall spare,
For the grim Idiot at the gate
Is deathless and eternal there.


Date: 1899

By: Archibald Lampman (1861-1899)

Saturday, 5 January 2013

Antigonish by William Hughes Mearns

Yesterday, upon the stair,
I met a man who wasn’t there
He wasn’t there again today
I wish, I wish he’d go away…

When I came home last night at three
The man was waiting there for me
But when I looked around the hall
I couldn’t see him there at all!
Go away, go away, don’t you come back any more!
Go away, go away, and please don’t slam the door… (slam!)

Last night I saw upon the stair
A little man who wasn’t there
He wasn’t there again today
Oh, how I wish he’d go away.


Date: 1899

By: William Hughes Mearns (1875-1965)

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

A.D. 19—? by Arthur Henry Adams

As in some quiet city bathed in sleep,
Where like a kiss the twilight lingereth,
When suddenly the earth stirs far beneath—
Just moves, then pauses—and a silence deep
Falls on all ere the second shock should sweep
Spire, column, pinnacle to shapeless death!
And white face peers at white face, and no breath
Is drawn, and every heart forgets to leap!

So now across this quiet, dreaming world
The first faint shock has thrilled; and men, aghast,
Wait for the second, whose blind forces pent
Shall in one last convulsion find their vent;
And all the builded fabrics of the past
Shall be in ruins on their builders hurled.


Date: 1899

By: Arthur Henry Adams (1872-1935)

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

The Midnight Minuet by Minnie Odell Michiner (Minna Irving)

It is dark and dull and gloomy, with its windows facing north,
This the old colonial mansion from its ivy peering forth.
There’s a flintlock o’er the mantel, and a flag above the door,
And a harp with strings that dangle in the dust upon the floor.
But when falls the purple twilight, then the silver sconces flare.
Comes a hand upon the knocker, and a step upon the stair.
And she courtesies from the threshold in her sweet, patrician grace,
As he grounds his moldy musket by the fireless chimney place.

Here and there the yellow laces from her sleeves have dropped away.
And her pearls have lost their luster in the darkness and decay;
Brown and scentless are the roses that are clustered’ on her breast,
But her gown is gold embroidered, and her hair with powder dressed.
He is clad in tattered garments that were once of buff: and blue.
On his temples is a bandage where the blood is oozing through;
Sash and plume are grimed with battle, spur and saber red with rust—
But the harp is faintly sounding from its covering of dust.

It is played by unseen fingers that with touches soft and slow
Gently wake the mournful music of a century ago;
Quaint old tunes that were in fashion in the days of patch and puff,
Periwigs and ostrich feathers, lace cravats and perfumed snuff;
And they walk with prim precision through the stately minuet,
Though her faded satin slippers with the grave dews glisten wet,
And he moves a little stiffly, since beneath the flower and vine
He has slept a hundred summers on the field of Brandywine.

Hark! The ancient clock is striking in the dim deserted hall,
Slowly, as with age grown weary, twelve deliberate strokes in all,
And the tinkling harp is silent, and the lady lifts her train.
And the soldier takes the musket to his shoulder once again;
Dies the candle in the socket, loudly creaks the crumbling stair,
Swings the door on broken hinges with a rush of chilly air.
But the mouse behind the curtain and the spider in her net
Still remain to tell the story of the midnight minuet.


Date: 1899

By: Minnie Odell Michiner (Minna Irving) (1857-1940)

Saturday, 7 April 2012

The Platypus by Oliver Herford

My child, the Duck-billed Plat-y-pus
A sad ex-am-ple sets for us:
From him we learn how In-de-ci-sion
Of char-ac-ter pro-vokes De-ri-sion.
This vac-il-lat-ing Thing, you see,
Could not de-cide which he would be,
Fish, Flesh, or Fowl, and chose all three.
The sci-en-tists were sore-ly vexed
To clas-si-fy him; so per-plexed
Their brains that they, with Rage at bay,
Called him a hor-rid name one day,–
A name that baf-fles, frights, and shocks us,–
Or-ni-tho-rhyn-chus Par-a-dox-us.


Date: 1899

By: Oliver Herford (1863-1935)