Posts tagged ‘1954’

Friday, 30 April 2021

In Order To by Kenneth Patchen

Apply for the position (I’ve forgotten now for what) I had
to marry the Second Mayor’s daughter by twelve noon. The
order arrived three minutes of.

I already had a wife; the Second Mayor was childless: but I
did it.

Next they told me to shave off my father’s beard. All right.
No matter that he’d been a eunuch, and had succumbed in
early childhood: I did it, I shaved him.

Then they told me to burn a village; next, a fair-sized town;
then, a city; a bigger city; a small, down-at-heels country;
then one of “the great powers”; then another (another, an-
other)—In fact, they went right on until they’d told me to
burn up every man-made thing on the face of the earth! And
I did it, I burned away every last trace, I left nothing, nothing
of any kind whatever.

Then they told me to blow it all to hell and gone! And I blew
it all to hell and gone (oh, didn’t I). . .

Now, they said, put it back together again; put it all back the
way it was when you started.

Well. . . it was my turn then to tell them something! Shucks,
I didn’t want any job that bad.


Date: 1954

By: Kenneth Patchen (1911-1972)

Thursday, 3 December 2020

The Peacock by Howard Moss

After we had wintered on the sparrow’s meek
And ordinary music, we desired
The peacock’s cry and iridescent eye,
Some untamed image that the mind might seek
To take it out of winter and restore
The summer wildness that it knew before.

Even in snow, we saw the peacock
Dance its passion in the wintry light.
Setting traps for the petty sparrow,
Mocking sparrow in the name of peacock,
We fed on a pleasure that the future knew,
Not knowing, then, what bird it was we slew.

Many winters since, the snow’s white lead
Has thinned on the doorstep, disarmed the trees,
And snuffed the world out. The sparrows still
Chirp on their prosperous boughs. And yet
The peacock will not lift its gifted head
Or wake in imagination’s waiting bed.

From: Moss, Howard, “The Peacock” in Poetry, Vol. 84 No. 3, June 1954, p. 148.

Date: 1954

By: Howard Moss (1922-1987)

Saturday, 28 November 2020

This Heavy Craft by Patricia Kathleen Page (Judith Cape)

The wax has melted
but the dream of flight
I, Icarus, though grounded
in my flesh
have one bright section in me
where a bird
night after starry night
while I’m asleep
unfolds its phantom wings
and practices.


Date: 1954

By: Patricia Kathleen Page (Judith Cape) (1916-2010)

Friday, 22 May 2020

Sonnet XXIX by Helen Joy Davidman

There was a man who found a naked tree
Sleeping in winter woods, and brought her home,
And tended her a monthin charity
Until she woke, and filled his quiet room

With petals like a storm of silver light,
Bursting, blazing, blended all of pearl
And moonshine; he, in wonder and delight,
Patted her magic boughs and said: Good girl.

Thereafter, still obedient to the summer,
The tree worked at her trade, until behold
A summer miracle of red and gold,
Apples of the Hesperides upon her,
Sweeter than Eden and its vanished bowers…
He said: No, no, I only wanted flowers.

From: Davidman, Joy and King, Don W. (ed.), A Naked Tree: Love Sonnets to C. S. Lewis and Other Poems, 2015, William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company: Grand Rapids, Michigan, Cambridge, UK, p. 299.

Date: ?1954-1955

By: Helen Joy Davidman (1915-1960)

Thursday, 2 January 2020

Horror Story by Elder James Olson

I think this century a haunted castle
Where history stalks, though dead; the crimes alone
Survive, of all that past; murderer and victim
Puppet-like act their play; are else unknown.

I am the Prince whose reigh these dreams usurp,
And heir to all the horrors of this house.
What shall I do? Repair? Or pull down all,
To make some innocent mound where goats may browse?

Alas, I do nothing; sweat, while night turns day
As black guilt turns remorse; as fear, despair;
And shake to hear, O monstrous, O worst of all,
The shapeless Future shambling up the stair.

From: Olson, Elder, Collected Poems, 1963, The Univeristy of Chicago Press: Chicago and London, p. 79.

Date: 1954

By: Elder James Olson (1909-1992)

Wednesday, 11 December 2019

Three Brothers by Joyce Irene Phipps Grenfell

I had three Brothers,
Harold and Robert and James,
All of them tall and handsome,
All of them good at games.
And I was allowed to field for them,
To bowl to them, to score:
I was allowed to slave for them
For ever and evermore.
Oh, I was allowed to fetch and carry
For my Three Brothers,
Jim and Bob and Harry.

All of my brothers,
Harry and Jim and Bob,
Grew up to be good and clever,
Each of them at his job.
And I was allowed to wait on them,
To be their slave complete.
I was allowed to work for them,
And life for me was sweet,
For I was allowed to fetch and carry
For my Three Brothers,
Jim and Bob and Harry.

Jim went out to South Africa,
Bob went out to Ceylon.
Harry went out to New Zealand
And settled in Wellington.
And the grass grew high on the cricket pitch,
And the tennis court went to hay,
And the place was too big and too silent
After they went away.
So I turned it into a Guest House
After our parents died,
And I wrote to the boys every Sunday,
And once a year they replied.
All of them married eventually,
I wrote to their wives, of course,
And their wives wrote back on postcards –
Well… it might have been very much worse.

And now I have nine nieces,
Most of them home at school.
I have them all to stay here
For the holidays as a rule.
And I am allowed to slave for them,
To do odd jobs galore.
I am allowed to work for them,
And life is sweet once more,
For I am allowed to fetch and carry
For the children of Jim and Bob and Harry.


Date: 1954

By: Joyce Irene Phipps Grenfell (1910-1979)

Thursday, 14 December 2017

Cold by Robert Francis

Cold and the colors of cold: mineral, shell,
And burning blue. The sky is on fire with blue
And wind keeps ringing, ringing the fire bell.

I am caught up into a chill as high
As creaking glaciers and powder-plumed peaks
And the absolutes of interstellar sky.

Abstract, impersonal, metaphysical, pure,
This dazzling art derides me. How should warm breath
Dare to exist—exist, exult, endure?

Hums in my ear the old Ur-father of freeze
And burn, that pre-post Christian Fellow before
And after all myths and demonologies.

Under the glaring and sardonic sun,
Behind the icicles and double glass
I huddle, hoard, hold out, hold on, hold on.


Date: 1954

By: Robert Francis (1901-1987)

Thursday, 18 June 2015

Town Owl by Laurence (Laurie) Edward Alan Lee

On eves of cold, when slow coal fires,
rooted in basements, burn and branch,
brushing with smoke the city air;

When quartered moons pale in the sky,
and neons glow along the dark
like deadly nightshade on a briar;

Above the muffled traffic then
I hear the owl, and at his note
I shudder in my private chair.

For like an auger he has come
to roost among our crumbling walls,
his blooded talons sheathed in fur.

Some secret lure of time it seems
has called him from his country wastes
to hunt a newer wasteland here.

And where the candelabra swung
bright with the dancers’ thousand eyes,
now his black, hooded pupils stare,

And where the silk-shoed lovers ran
with dust of diamonds in their hair,
he opens now his silent wing,

And, like a stroke of doom, drops down,
and swoops across the empty hall,
and plucks a quick mouse off the stair…

From: Lee, Laurie, “Town Owl” in Punch, Volume 227, 1954, p. 356.

Date: 1954

By: Laurence (Laurie) Edward Alan Lee (1914-1997)

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Magic of the Disc by Dorothea Dowling

You seemed still water standing
lost in the magic of the disc;
your eyes downcast, your two hands clasped,
list’ning in the music store!
the discord of the city street,
the jangle of the lurching trams,
belonged to some world out of tune
beyond the portals of the door.

And seeing you thus, I did not speak
nor span the intervening space
that would have splintered like thin glass
the look of rapture on your face.

From: Dowling, Dorothea, Twenty-One Poems, 1954, Edgar Bragg: Sydney, p. 5.

Date: 1954

By: Dorothea Dowling (191?- )

Thursday, 7 June 2012

He Says Goodbye in November by Frances Darwin Cornford

You say you know that nature never grieves:
I also see the acquiescent leaves
Fall down and rot
As down the derelict statue runs the rain;
But you believe that spring will come again
And I do not.


Date: 1954

By: Frances Darwin Cornford (1886-1960)