Posts tagged ‘poetry’

Monday, 18 February 2019

A Leave-Taking by Arthur Yvor Winters

I, who never kissed your head,
Lay these ashes in their bed;
That which I could do have done.
Now farewell, my newborn son.

From: Parkinson, Thomas, The Untranslatable Poetry of Yvor Winters in The Georgia Review, Vol. 34, No. 3 (Fall 1980), pp. 671-677.

Date: c1928

By: Arthur Yvor Winters (1900-1968)

Sunday, 17 February 2019

What Horror to Awake at Night by Lorine Niedecker

What horror to awake at night
and in the dimness see the light.
Time is white
mosquitoes bite
I’ve spent my life on nothing.

The thought that stings. How are you, Nothing,
sitting around with Something’s wife.
Buzz and burn
is all I learn
I’ve spent my life on nothing.

I’m pillowed and padded, pale and puffing
lifting household stuffing—
carpets, dishes
benches, fishes
I’ve spent my life in nothing.


Date: c1960

By: Lorine Niedecker (1903-1970)

Saturday, 16 February 2019

Epitaphium Citharistriæ by Victor Plarr

Stand not uttering sedately
Trite oblivious praise above her!
Rather say you saw her lately
Lightly kissing her last lover.

Whisper not, “There is a reason
Why we bring her no white blossom”:
Since the snowy bloom’s in season,
Strow it on her sleeping bosom:

Oh, for it would be a pity
To o’erpraise her or to flout her:
She was wild, and sweet, and witty —
Let’s not say dull things about her.

From: Blyth, Caroline (ed.), Decadent Verse: An Anthology of Late Victorian Poetry, 1872-1900, 2011, Anthem Press: London, p. 768.

Date: 1896

By: Victor Plarr (1863-1929)

Friday, 15 February 2019

At Length My Soul the Fatal Union Finds by Octavia Walsh

At length my soul the fatal union finds,
That with dead earth its purer nation binds;
Fettered in flesh, it seeks for soft repose,
And drags a tiresome carcase as it goes.
As an old cottage, worn by time, will bend,
And from its roof its faithful inmate send,
So my old house, disdainful of control,
Crushes and overwhelms the sickly soul.
When the quick-moving blood begins to stay,
And with less haste pursue its sanguine way,
A heavy weight the sinking soul sustains,
And from each quarter of the camp complains.
Then sudden starts and fears the mind entrance,
And pale-faced ghosts before its fancy dance;
Impending ruin o’er its head appears,
And the whole man runs into eyes and ears.
In vain my Reason then begins to plead,
Convinced of safety, yet to fear betrayed:
As well you may be arguments assuage
The heats of those that in a fever rage.
But, O great God! Since thou hast wisely joined
This mouldering clay to an immortal mind,
Since my great landlord makes this cot my care,
I’ll strive to keep it in the best repair:
That my poor soul, unmoved by its decays,
May pay its rent in due returns of praise,
Till he sees fit his favour to recall,
And on my head let the old cottage fall.

From: Lonsdale, Roger (ed.), Eighteenth Century Women Poets: An Anthology, 1990, Oxford University Press: Oxford, p. 53.

Date: 1705

By: Octavia Walsh (1677-1706)

Thursday, 14 February 2019

Sonnet 2 by Elizabeth Melville (with modern spelling version appended)

Lat hevin me blis with knowledge from above
to meditate upon thy hevinlie will
poure doun on me the spirit of treuth and love
that I may learne thy law for to fulfill
dantone [overcome] my nature that is bent to ill
Subdew my mynd and molifie my hairt
and lat the scheild of faith defend me still
that I may nevir from thy treuth depairt
Lat no afflictioun angwisch grief nor smairt
Caus me to fante nor to give ovir the field
bot lat thy word ovirthraw the dreidfull dairt
that Sathane schutts thinking to caus me yeild
and grant spirituall weapins me to defend
That I may ficht my battellis to the end.

Let heaven me bless with knowledge from above
to meditate upon thy heavenly will
pour down on me the spirit of truth and love
that I may learn thy law for to fulfil
overcome my nature that is bent to ill
Subdue my mind and mollify my heart
and let the shield of faith defend me still
that I may never from thy truth depart
Let no affliction, anguish, grief nor smart
Cause me to faint nor to give over the field
but let thy word overthrow the dreadful dart
that Satan shoots thinking to cause me [to] yield
and grant spiritual weapons me to defend
That I may fight my battles to the end.

From: Ross, Sarah C. E., Women, Poetry, and Politics in Seventeenth-Century Britain, 2015, Oxford University Press: Oxford, p. 52.

Date: c1610

By: Elizabeth Melville (c1578-c1640)

Wednesday, 13 February 2019

Love’s Torch is Dead, His Dart Broken by Barbara Torelli

Love’s torch is dead, his dart broken,
as are his bow, quiver, and every other power,
since cruel Death has shaken the plant
under whose quiet shadow I used to sleep.

Alas, why can’t I enter the shallow
grave with him, where destiny has taken him,
he who thirteen days ago
was bound by love just before the fateful blow?

I would like to warm that ice with my great
fire, reform his dust with
tears and create a new life:

and after I’d like, boldly and openly,
to show him to the one who set the dear snare,
telling him, “Love, you cruel monster, can overcome!”

From: Cirigliano, Marc A. (ed. and transl.), Melancolia Poetica: A Dual Language Anthology of Italian Poetry 1160-1560, 2007, Troubador Publishing Ltd: Leicester, p. 331.

Date: 1508 (original in Italian); 2007 (translation in English)

By: Barbara Torelli (1475-1533)

Translated by: Marc A. Cirigliano (19??- )

Tuesday, 12 February 2019

L’Avare [The Miser] by Guillaume Alexis

L’homme convoiteux est hatif*, &c.

He who for selfish gain would live
Is quick to take, and slow to give,
Knows well the secret to refuse,
And can his niggard deeds excuse.
If aught he gives will straight repent,
Holds all as lost he may have spent.
His gold counts daily o’er and o’er,
And seeks in books no other lore.
From morn till night is restless still
To watch how soon his coffers fill.
Sighs, listens, breathless at a sound,
Lest lurking spies should hover round:
Cares not to pay, at each demand
Doles forth his coin with trembling hand:
He gives but that his gains may grow,
And gains not ever to bestow;
Free, if to others goods belong,
But, on his own, his clutch is strong:
To give his miser hand is closed,
To take his eager palm exposed.

*The covetous man is hasty, etc.

From: Costello, Louisa Stuart (ed. and transl.), Specimens of the Early Poetry of France: From the Time of the Troubadours and Trouveres to the Reign of Henri Quatre, 1835, William Pickering: London, pp. 164-165.

Date: 15th century (original in French); 1835 (translation in English)

By: Guillaume Alexis (15th century)

Translated by: Louisa Stuart Costello (14799-1870)

Monday, 11 February 2019

O Day As Hot As Day of Lovers’ Parting by Abu’l Qasim Suri

O day as hot as day of lovers’ parting
I spent upon a courser lean of flank!
On him in summer’s wave like heart of lover
Burning with separation’s pain I sank.


Date: c975 (original in Arabic); 1922 (translation in English)

By: Abu’l Qasim Suri (10th century)

Translated by: David Samuel Margoliouth (1858-1940)

Sunday, 10 February 2019

Song 1 of “Eighteen Songs of a Nomad Flute” by Cai Yan

In the early part of my life, equity still governed the empire,
But later in my life the Han throne fell into decay.
Heaven was not humane, sending down rebellion and chaos,
Earth was not humane, causing me to encounter such a time.
War gear was a daily commonplace, and travel by road was dangerous,
The common people fled, all plunged in wretchedness.
Smoke and dust darkened the countryside, overrun by barbarians;
They knocked aside my widow’s vows, and my chastity was lost.
Their strange customs were so utterly foreign to me—
Whom can I possibly tell of my calamity, shame, and grief?
One measure for the nomad flute, one stanza for the qin,
No one can know my heart’s agony and anger!

From: Chang, Kang-i Sun and Saussy, Haun (eds.), Women Writers of Traditional China: An Anthology of Poetry and Criticism, Stanford University Press: Stanford, p. 23.

Date: 2nd century (original), 1999 (translation)

By: Cai Yan (c178-c249)

Translated by: Dore Jesse Levy (19??- )

Saturday, 9 February 2019

Fragment 44: War by Heraclitus

War, as father
of all things, and king,
names few
to serve as gods,
and of the rest makes
these men slaves,
those free.

From: Heraclitus and Haxton, Brooks (transl.), Fragments: The Collected Wisdom of Heraclitus, 2001, Viking: New York, p. 44.

Date: 6th century BCE (original in Greek); 2001 (translation in English)

By: Heraclitus (c535 BCE-c475 BCE)

Translated by: Brooks Haxton (1950- )