Posts tagged ‘excerpt’

Monday, 19 March 2018

Excerpt from “Elegy for Madog ap Maredudd, Prince of Powys” by Cynddelw Brydydd Mawr

Door of a fort he was, companion shield,
Buckler on battlefield, and in brave deeds:
A tumult like flame blazing through heather,
Router of enemies, his shield stopped their way;
Lord sung by a myriad, hope of minstrels,
Crimson, irresistible, unswerving companion.

From: Leoussi, Athena S. and Grosby, Steven (eds.), Nationalism and Ethnosymbolism: History, Culture and Ethnicity in the Formation of Nations, Edinburgh University Press: Edinburgh, p. 86.

Date: c1160 (original in Welsh); 1967 (translation in English)

By: Cynddelw Brydydd Mawr (fl. c1155-1200)

Translation by: Anthony Conran (1931-2013)

Friday, 9 March 2018

Excerpt from “Khosrow and Shirin” by Nizami Ganjavi (Jamal ad-Dīn Abū Muḥammad Ilyās ibn-Yūsuf ibn-Zakkī)

When Farhad heard this message, with a groan
From the rock-gulley fell he like a stone.
So deep a sigh he heaved that thou wouldst say
A spear had cleft unto his heart its way.
‘Alas, my labour!’ — thus his bitter cry —
‘My guerdon still unwon, in grief I die!
Alas the wasted labour of my youth!
Alas the hope which vain hath proved in truth!
I tunnelled mountain-walls: behold my prize!
My labour’s wasted: here the hardship lies!
I, like a fool, red rubies coveted;
Lo, worthless pebbles fill my hands instead!
What fire is this that thus doth me consume?
What flood is this which hurls me to my doom?
The world is void of sun and moon for me:
My garden lacks its box- and willow-tree.
For the last time my beacon-light hath shone;
Not Shirin, but the sun from me is gone!
The cruel sphere pities no much-tried wight;
On no poor luckless wretch doth grace alight!
Alas for such a sun and such a moon,
Which black eclipse hath swallowed all too soon!
Before the wolf may pass a hundred sheep,
But on the poor man’s lamb ’tis sure to leap.
O’er my sad heart the fowls and fishes weep;
For my life’s stream doth into darkness creep.
Why am I parted from my mistress dear?
Now Shirin’s gone, why should I tarry here?
Without her face should I desire to thrive
‘Twould serve me right if I were boned alive! . . .
Felled to the dust, my cypress quick lies dead:
Shall I remain to cast dust on my head?
My smiling rose is fallen from the tree:
The garden is a prison now to me.
My bird of spring is from the meadow flown,
I, like the thunder-cloud, will weep and groan.
My world-enkindling lamp is quenched for aye:
Shall not my day be turned to night to-day?
My lamp is out, and chilly strikes the gale:
My moon is darkened and my sun is pale.
Beyond Death’s portals Shirin shall I greet,
So with one leap I hasten Death to meet!’
Thus to the world his mournful tale he cried,
For Shirin kissed the ground, and kissing died.

From: Browne, Edward G., A Literary History of Persia, From Firdawsi to Sa’di, Volume 2, 1906, T. Fisher Unwin: London, pp. 405-406.

Date: 1177-1180 (original in Persian); 1906 (translation in English)

By: Nizami Ganjavi (Jamal ad-Dīn Abū Muḥammad Ilyās ibn-Yūsuf ibn-Zakkī) (1141-1209)

Translated by: Edward Granville Browne (1862-1926)

Wednesday, 7 March 2018

Excerpt from “Rhapsody of the Two Capitals (Liangdu Fu)” by Ban Gu

[This passage describes a part of the imperial hunt in the great Shanglin Park outside Chang’an during Former Han.]

And then the Sharpshooters and the Guards of the Gates,
Each with sharp swords and whistling arrows,
Running from their vantage points and hastening in pursuit.
Birds are frightened and fly into silk,
Beasts in their panic run upon spears.
No bolt from a cross-bow fires in vain,
No bowstring draws twice to the mark.
The arrows do not kill singly
But pierce and hit two at a time.
Confusion of movement, a medley of chaos,
Arrows with marker-strings crossing in flight.
A wind of feathers and a rain of blood
Poured on the ground and spread in the sky.
… Snaring lions and leopards,
Roping boars and dragons,
Dragging buffalo and oxen,
Beating down elephants and bear.
Leaping ravines and gullies,
Crossing cliffs and crags,
Striding hill-sides and mountains.
Great boulders overthrown,
Pines and cedars uprooted,
Woods and forests destroyed.
Nothing remains of the grass and the trees,
The birds and the animals have all been killed.


Date: 1st century (original); 2004 (translation)

By: Ban Gu (32-92)

Translated by: Rafe de Crespigny (1936- )

Sunday, 21 January 2018

Excerpt from “Lamiyat al-Ajam (The L-Poem of the Foreigner)” by Abu Esmail Moayed-o-din Hosein-ebn-e-ali Esfahani Togharayi

No kind supporting hand I meet,
But Fortitude shall stay my feet;
No borrowed splendours round me shine,
But Virtue’s lustre all is mine:
A fame unsullied still I boast,
Obscured, concealed, but never lost —
The same bright orb that led the day
Pours from the west his mellowed ray.

Zaura, farewell! No more I see
Within thy walls a home for me;
Deserted, spurned, aside I’m tossed,
As an old sword whose scabbard’s lost:
Around thy walls I seek in vain,
Some bosom that will soothe my pain —
No friend is near to breathe relief,
Or brother to partake my grief.

For many a melancholy day
Through desert vales I’ve wound my way;
The faithful beast whose back I press
In groans laments her lord’s distress;
In every quivering of my spear
A sympathetic sigh I hear;
The camel, bending with his load,
And struggling through the thorny road,
Midst the fatigues that bear him down,
In Hassan’s woes forgets his own; —
Yet cruel friends my wanderings chide,
My sufferings slight, my toils deride.

Once wealth, I own, engrossed each thought;
There was a moment when I sought
The glittering stores Ambition claims
To feed the wants his fancy frames;
But now ’tis past: the changing day
Has snatched my high-built hopes away,
And bade this wish my labours close, —
Give me not riches, but repose.

From: Clouston, W.A., Arabian Poetry for English Readers, 1881, Privately Printed: Glasgow, pp. 153-154.

Date: 11th century (original in Persian); 1796 (translation in English)

By: Abu Esmail Moayed-o-din Hosein-ebn-e-ali Esfahani Togharayi (1045-1105)

Translated by: Joseph Dacre Carlyle (1758-1804)

Wednesday, 10 January 2018

Excerpt from “The Kite: Canto III” by Phanuel Bacon

The Glove was wav’d–The steady Engine flew,
Sprung into Air, and lessen’d to the View;
Proudly It Sail’d, on crowding Zephyrs born,
And ev’ry Love was Pilot in his Turn:
DIAN transported too, beheld It fly,
And to the Taper grew Her aking Eye.

But CUPID tim’rous saw It’s Height in Air,
And thought His Bird too Distant from His Care;
‘Twas He The MESSENGER decreed to send,
And wou’d (by Proxy) on His Bird attend:
What better than a Billetdeux may prove,
The Tender Representative of LOVE?
Fo lo! The Maid a gilded Sheet imparts,
That breath’d unfeigned Flames, and real Darts.
Led by the Clue, Its rapid Flight It steers,
And to the Bird, his Airy Summons bears.

Ah! What avail It’s easy-waving Wings?
And Length of Tail, that boasts Successive Acts of Kings!
How frail our Span of Time! How fix’d its Date,
And greatest Works must one Day yield to Fate!
Sleep-breaking Care, Gay Pleasure, and Pale Woe,
Meet in one Stream! and in one Channel flow!
Virtue but like a shining Vapour flies!
And when it brightest Blazes, soonest Dies!

From: Bacon, Phanuel, The Kite. An heroi-comical poem. In three canto’s, 1722, L. Lichfield: Oxford, pp. 28-29.

Date: 1722

By: Phanuel Bacon (1700-1783)

Tuesday, 9 January 2018

Excerpt from “Palmyra” by John Henry Bright

Movemur, nescio quo pacto, ipsis locis, in quibus eorum, quos admiramur, adsunt vestigial.*

Time, like a mighty river, deep and strong,
In sullen silence rolls his tide along ;
And all that now upborne upon the wave
Ride swiftly on—the monarch and the slave
Shall sink at last beneath the whelming stream,
And all that once was life, become a dream!

Go – look on Greece l her glories long have fled,
Her ancient spirit slumbers with the dead;
Deaf to the call of freedom and of fame,
Her sons are Greeks in nothing but the name!
On Tiber’s banks, beneath their native sky,
The sad remains of Roman greatness lie;
No longer there the list’ning crowds admire
The swelling tones of Virgil’s epic lyre,
Nor conqu’ring Caesar holds resistless sway
O’er realms extended to the rising day.

Yet still to these shall Fancy fondly turn,
Still bid the laurel bloom on Maro’s urn;
From Brutus’s dagger sweep the gath’ring rust,
And call his spirit from its aged dust!
What tho’ each busy scene has ceas’d to live,
It has the charms poetic numbers give;
And ever fresh as ages roll along,
Revives and brightens in the light of song.—

At summer eve, when ev’ry sound is still,
And day-light fades upon the western hill,
And o’er the blue unfathomable way
Heav’n’s starry host in cloudless beauty stray;
What holy joys enamour’d fancy feels
As all the past upon the mem’ry steals!
How soft the tints, how pensive, how sublime,
Each image borrows from the touch of time!
Such winning grace the beauteous vision wears
Seen through the twilight of a thousand years!

Note: The quote is attributed to Atticus by Cicero and translates as: For we are moved in some strange way by the actual places in which traces are present of those whom we love or admire.

From: Cambridge Prize Poems: Being a Collection of the English Poems which have obtained the Chancellor’s Gold Medal in the University of Cambridge, New Edition, considerably enlarged, 1847, Henry Washbourne: New Bridge Street, pp. 120-124.

Date: 1822

By: John Henry Bright (1801-1873)

Saturday, 23 September 2017

Excerpt from “Academia; or The Humours of the University of Oxford” by Alicia Clarke D’Anvers

I intend to give you a Relation,
As prime as any is in the Nation:
The Name of th’ place is—let me see,
Call’d most an end the ‘Versity;
In which same place, as Story tells,
Liv’d once Nine handsome bonny Girls,
Highly in olden Time reputed,
Tho’ now so thawct’d and persecuted;
Schollars belike now can’t abide ‘um,
So that they’re fain to scout and hide ‘um,
Or’s sure as you’re alive they’d beat ‘um;
Out of the place they’d chose to seat ‘um
And they who won’t be seen to maul ‘um,
Revile, bespatter ‘um, or becall ‘um.
E’ne these sly Curs would Strumpets make ‘um,
When e’re they catch ‘um can, or take ‘um,
And pinch ‘um, till they’ve made ‘um sing ye,
The filthy’st stuff as one can bring ye,
The end of all such Rascals wooing,
Proves many a heedless ‘Girle’s undoing:
All these, and twenty more Abuses,
Are daily offer’d to the Muses.
You may perceive, I’me mightily
Disturb’d, they’re us’d so spitefully;
And must confess, where’s no denying,
That I can hardly hold from crying;
But that I mayn’t be seen to bellow,
Like ‘Girl forsaken by a Fellow,
Roar, throw my Snot about, and blubber,
Like School-Boys, or an am’rous Lubber,
I’le lay aside my Bowels yearning,
And talk of Schollars, and their Learning.

From: D’Anvers, Mrs. Alicia, Academia: or, The Humours of the University of Oxford. In Burlesque Verse, 1691, Randal Taylor: London, pp. 1-3.

Date: 1691

By: Alicia Clarke D’Anvers (1668-1725)

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Excerpt from “Hymnus Tabaci a Poem in Honour of Tabaco” by Raphael Thorius

The twice-born Liber seeing that his Foes
(Whom the parch’d desart Cliffs as yet inclose)
Had furious war begun, with hot alarms,
Doth call his Ivy-crowned troops to arms,
And the swift Lynxes to be yoak’d, commands;
The great Bassarides in order’d bands,
March with their valiant Leader to the Field;
And all his furious Priests obedience yield
To his behests, and follow: nor yet will
Silenus (though grown old) at home sit still.
The Drugdges and the Carriages go next,
And amongst them is led (an ample Text,
For Antiquaries to glosse on) the sage
Silenus saddle-Asse, grown lame with age;
The fearfull Indians here and there do fly;
And while they sought their flying enemy,
The weary Troops having too long in vain
Wandred about upon the sandy Plain,
Grow faint, and their provisions all are spent,
And Bacchus wants what he himself first lent
Unto us Men, the liquor of the Vine.
(Pity that he who gave, should e’re lack Wine!)
The old mans Vessel too being quite drawn dry,
Does in this Chariot overturned ly.
The Maenades and Satyrs, and the rout
Of untam’d youth (impatient of the drought)
Do wound the intrals of their Mother Earth,
Longing to see some gentle spring gush forth.
But all in vain, necessity makes them bold
To taste the salt drink; their own bladder hold
Unnatural draughts! but yet such is their woe,
That those unnatural draughts do fail them too.
So Tyrant-like, Thirst in their bodies reigns,
All moisture does forsake their dryed veins.
The sterner face of horrour now controls
The sinking Troops; Some breathe their toasted souls
Out of their reeking jaws; others are found
To own borrow supplies from their mutual wound;
Who finding too those Fountains to grow dry,
In a despair drink their last Cup and dy.

Note: Liber is another name for the god Bacchus (also known as Dionysus), traditionally considered the god of wine, winemaking, the grape harvest, fertility and madness. According to mythology, he was twice born as his mother, Semele, asked to see Zeus unmasked to prove that he was the father of her baby. Despite Zeus’s warning that this would kill her, she insisted and died when he revealed himself. Zeus then rescued the unborn Dionysus and sewed him into his thigh. Dionysus was later released/born from Zeus’s thigh.

Bacchus was associated with the lynx, a type of large hunting cat, although the exact species meant is unknown and it is sometimes referred to as a leopard or panther. The other creatures mentioned, such as bassarides, maenads and satyrs, are all followers of Bacchus. Silenus was Bacchus’ companion and tutor and is usually depicted as an old man riding an ass (or donkey).

From: Thorius, Raphael and Hausted, Peter, Hymnus tabaci a poem in honour of tabaco. Heroïcally composed by Raphael Thorius: made English by Peter Hausted Mr of Arts Camb. 2009, Text Creation Partnership: Ann Arbor, Michigan and Oxford, pp. 14-15.

Date: 1610 (original in Latin); 1651 (published translation in English)

By: Raphael Thorius (15??-1625)

Translated by: Peter Hausted (c1605-1644)

Thursday, 11 May 2017

Excerpt from “The pityfull histori[e] of two loving Italians, Gaulfrido and Barnardo” by John Drout

What fearefull nations did invade
Achilles woofull wight,
When hushing waves ten in a rowe
did overrunne him quight?
Did he not cut the waters salt
the foming seas apace,
When as the cruell nipping winde
was wholly in his face?
Were not companions his sore to ylde
uppon the raging flood?
But when that they arrivde to Troy,
then they did thinke it good
That they had laborde so in stormes,
for then in wether cléere
They canvas may their bisket harde,
and tipple p the béere,
Which lay all harde a sennights space,
(as Ovid he dooth tell:)
So may they tayre their bakon blacke,
and féede of it full well,
For Saylers they can féed apace
in weather faire or fogge,
And will not sticke (in hunger theirs)
to eate a barking dogge.
But now eche man they may reioyce
that Lady Ver is nere,
Now may they sée with glimmering eyes
once Phoebus to appere:
How Estas he with comely grace
full trimly dooth display,
And howe that Tellus floorisheth
through ayde of lustie May:
In pleasant moneth of this (my frends)
eache man dooth joy by kinde,
And every man dooth practise what
were best to please his minde.

Note: Although the author describes this poem as a translation, this is considered to be his own original work. It is thought he called this a work a translation to take advantage of a popular fad for Italian works at that time.

From: Drout, John, The pityfull histori[e] of two loving Italians, Gaulfrido and Barnardo le vayne, which arived in the countrey of Grece in the time of the noble Emperoure Vaspasian and translated out of Italian into Englishe meeter, 2003, Text Creation Partnership: Ann Arbor, Michigan and Oxford, pp. [unnumbered].

Date: 1570

By: John Drout (fl. 1570)

Sunday, 9 April 2017

Excerpt from “Democritus, his Dream. Or, The Contention Betweene the Elephant and The Flea” by Peter Woodhouse

The Elephant has been boasting that he is the greatest of all the animals and the Flea, overhearing him from within a dog’s ear, has challenged him to prove it. The Elephant has insisted on taking the matter to arbitration and gives his case first. This is part of the Flea’s response:

I see a Soldier’s service is forgot,
In time of peace the worlde regards us not.
But to proceed; he prates of fortitude,
And, that he’s valiant would faine conclude.
He counts strength valour, but judgeth wrong
Who saith the Oake hath valour: yet ’tis strong.
But he (he saith) hath many battailes fought,
I, but true valour never danger sought.
Rashnes, it selfe doth into perill thrust:
Thats onely valour where the quarrel’s just.
But when as unsought danger doth betide,
His prowesse then true valour will not hide.
For such as without all foresight are bolde
Foole hardye, and not valiant we holde.
Let this great warriour, I pray you shewe
For what just cause these warres he did pursue:
What, is he mute? then I the cause will tell,
For that his Lord to fight did him compell.
He saith that man his help doth ofte times crave,
It’s false, he doth commaund him as his slave.
No, do not thinke such judgements to delude,
Amongst some fooles vaunt of thy servitude.
Men use your service often to their cost,
For one day’s wonne through you, there are three lost.
Not warre alone, but other fearfull things,
(And chiefly such as death ofte with it brings)
Are fortitudes true objects: heerin lyes
His chiefest force these perrils to despise.
When man with pressing nayle seekes me to kill,
My guts about my heeles, I march on still.
And though in this great broyle I was neere slaine,
The daunger past, I boldely bite againe.
Was thy Syre’s valour (thinkst thou) like to this,
When as thou fought gainst proud Semiramis?
Hast thou no wound? may be thou wilt not start,
But I fight having lost my hinder parte;
Even halfe my body being tane away,
I flye not, but dare still maintaine the fray.
I dare adventure in each dangerous place,
And beard the boldest Ruffen to his face:
What dare I not? I knowe that I am free,
And doe enioy most perfect libertie.

From: Woodhouse, Peter and Grosart, Alexander B. (ed.), Democritus, his Dream. Or, The Contention Betweene the Elephant and The Flea. Of Peter Woodhouse (1605). Edited, with Introduction, Notes and Illustrations, 1877, Charles E. Simms: Manchester, pp. 24-26.

Date: 1605

By: Peter Woodhouse (fl. 1605)