Posts tagged ‘poetry’

Wednesday, 15 August 2018

Ghazal by Khāqānī (Afzaladdin Badil (Ibrahim) ibn Ali Nadjar)

lovers seek none other
than a risk-all lover.
good hearts only want
an all-or-nothing lover.
while love reigns, reason is under ban
for folk won’t tolerate rival claims in love’s domain.
there are those like mé with nothing left them
but clipped wings and
wide eyes fixed on flame.
stoke-hearts fired to flame, ẃe
are but moths driven to love’s flame.
yet you’ll not catch me flying
outside my love’s sacrosanct seraglio.
they don’t call that soul-searing spike
oppression. they seek not shrieks
from that world-burning tulip.
should I be slain by the flirt,
of her eyes twain lovely, take care—
lest lovers want my blood’s spurt
for her twin twinkling eyes.
this is the moral law in the lovers’ church:
none shall seek to gain
blood-price for those love in slain.
speak not a word to Khāqānī
‘less its main line be love,
lovers won’t hear a song sung
from the nightingale’s tongue
‘less roses be in bloom and spring be sprung.

From: Martin, David, “Selected Ghazaliyat (Love Poems) Translated from the Classical Persian of Khaqani, Sa’di, and Rumi”, 1984, Comitatus: A Journal of Medieval and Renaissance Studies, 15(1), pp. 17-18.

Date: 12th century (original in Persian); 1984 (translation in English)

By: Khāqānī (Afzaladdin Badil (Ibrahim) ibn Ali Nadjar) (1121/1122-1190)

Translated by: David Martin (1944- )

Tuesday, 14 August 2018

Little Religion by Christian Wiman

His little religion
of common things
uncommonly loved
served him well.
Especially in Hell.

When the sickbed sunlight
banishes shadows
like the noontime tin
of the storm cellar door
long, long before,
he is the blaze
it takes a man to raise,
he is the stone-
stepped dark a child
goes feelingly down.

As if to be
were to be
by oblivion
and forgiven


Date: 2014

By: Christian Wiman (1966- )

Monday, 13 August 2018

Slipstream by Tony Towle

If you still have charm
you have been underutilized;

but tell us, which do you love more,
your dagger or the moon?

Now withdraw the question and the dagger both
from the eye of the beholder

and return to the symposium
being held on a rock

somewhere in the sea. Do not allow
the dark impending shapes

to obscure the presentations completely,
and take in the wisdom of the supervising mermaid:

It is only the false penguin that will seek
to count your fish rather than eat them.


Date: 2014

By: Tony Towle (1939- )

Sunday, 12 August 2018

Fog by Amy Clampitt

A vagueness comes over everything,
as though proving color and contour
alike dispensable: the lighthouse
extinct, the islands’ spruce-tips
drunk up like milk in the
universal emulsion; houses
reverting into the lost
and forgotten; granite
subsumed, a rumor
in a mumble of ocean.
definition, however, has not been
totally banished: hanging
tassel by tassel, panicled
foxtail and needlegrass,
dropseed, furred hawkweed,
and last season’s rose-hips
are vested in silenced
chimes of the finest,
clearest sea-crystal.
opens up rooms, a showcase
for the hueless moonflower
corolla, as Georgia
O’Keefe might have seen it,
of foghorns; the nodding
campanula of bell buoys;
the ticking, linear
filigree of bird voices.


Date: 1983

By: Amy Clampitt (1920-1994)

Saturday, 11 August 2018

Silver Point by John Galsworthy

Sharp against a sky of grey,
Pigeon’s nest in naked tree;
Every silver twig up-curled,
Not a budding leaf unfurled,
Not a breath to fan the day!

World aspiring and severe,
Not a hum of fly or bee,
Not a song, and not a cry,
Not a perfume stealing by —
Stillest moment of the year!

From: Galsworthy, John and Galsworthy, Ada (ed.), The Collected Poems of John Galsworthy, 1934, William Heinemann Ltd: London, p. 99.

Date: 1912

By: John Galsworthy (1867-1933)

Friday, 10 August 2018

The Haunted Shore by Wathen Mark Wilks Call

I walk’d at sunset by the lonely waves,
When Autumn stood about me, gold and brown;
I watch’d the great red Sun, in clouds, go down,
An orient King, that ‘mid his bronzèd slaves
Dies, leaning on his sceptre, with his crown.
A hollow moaning from innumerous caves,
In green and glassy darkness sunk below,
Told of some grand and ancient deed of woe,
Of murdered kings that sleep in weltering graves.
Still thro’ the sunshine wavering to and fro,
With sails all set, the little vessels glide;
Mild is the Eve and mild the ebbing Tide,
And yet that hollow moaning will not go,
Nor the old Fears that with the sea abide.

From: Call, Wathen Mark Wilks, Golden Histories, etc., 1871, Smith, Elder & Co.: London, p. 257.

Date: 1871

By: Wathen Mark Wilks Call (1817-1890)

Thursday, 9 August 2018

The Dying Prostitute, an Elegy by Thomas Holcroft

Weep o’er the miseries of a wretched maid,
Who sacrific’d to man her health and fame;
Whose love of truth and trust were all repaid,
By want and woe, disease and endless shame.

Curse not the poor lost wretch, who, ev’ry ill,
That proud unfeeling man can heap, sustains;
Sure she enough is curst o’er whom his will,
Enflam’d by brutal passion, boundless reins.

Spurn not my fainting body from your door,
Here let me rest my weary weeping head;
No greater mercy would my wants implore,
My sorrows soon shall lay me with the dead.

Who now behold but loaths my faded face,
So wan and sallow, chang’d with sin and care?
Or who can any former beauty trace,
In eyes so sunk in famine and despair?

That I was virtuous once, and beauteous too,
And free from envious tongues my spotless fame;
These but torment, these but my tears renew,
These aggravate my present grief and shame.

Expell’d by all, enforc’d by pining want,
I’ve wept and wander’d many a midnight hour;
Implor’d a pittance lust would seldom grant,
Or sought a shelter from the driving show’r.

Oft as I rov’d, while beat the wintry storm,
Unknowing what to seek or where to stray,
To gain relief, entic’d each hideous form,
Each hideous form contemptuous turn’d away.

Where were my virgin honours, where my charms?
Oh! whither fled the pride I once maintain’d;
Or where the youths that woo’d me to their arms,
Or where the triumphs which my beauty gain’d?

Ah! say, insidious Damon! Monster! Where?
What glory hast thou gain’d by my defeat?
Art thou more happy now that I’m less fair?
Or bloom the laurels o’er my winding sheet?


Date: 1785

By: Thomas Holcroft (1745-1809)

Wednesday, 8 August 2018

Prologue from “Canidia, or, The Witches, A Rhapsody, etc.” by Robert Dixon

Fair Ladies ’tis past time of Woing,
More Work’s cut out, up and be doing;
Censure severely all Male-contents,
Inflict Impartial Punishments;
Spare none that shall deserve your Ire,
Though you set all the World a Fire.
Hanging and Burning, you know the worst,
To be counted of all Accurst.
Bussle through all Orders, Run the Rounds,
And scorn the Military Frowns:
Venture at any Thing that’s Evil,
Be bold, and fear not Man nor Devil.

From: Dixon, Robert, Canidia, or, The Witches a rhapsody, in five parts, 2009, Text Creation Partnership: Ann Arbor, Michigan and Oxford, pp. [unnumbered].

Date: 1683

By: Robert Dixon (16??-1688)

Tuesday, 7 August 2018

Satire VII from “Book I” of “Virgidemiarum” by Joseph Hall with note by Samuel Weller Singer

Great is the folly of a feeble brain,
O’erruled with love, and tyrannous disdain:
For love, however in the basest breast,
It breeds high thoughts that feed the fancy best.
Yet is he blind, and leads poor fools awry,
While they hang gazing on their mistress’ eye.
The lovesick poet, whose importune prayer
Repulsed is with resolute despair,
Hopeth to conquer his disdainful dame,
With public plaints of his conceived flame.
Then pours he forth in patched sonettings,
His love, his lust, and loathsome flatterings:
As tho’ the staring world hang’d on his sleeve,
When once he smiles, to laugh: and when he sighs, to grieve.
Careth the world, thou love, thou live, or die?
Careth the world how fair thy fair one be?
Fond wit-wal* that wouldst load thy witless head
With timely horns, before thy bridal bed.
Then can he term his dirty ill faced bride
Lady and queen, and virgin deified:
Be she all sooty-black, or berry brown,
She’s white as morrows milk, or flakes new blown.
And tho’ she be some dunghill drudge at home,
Yet can he her resign some refuse room
Amidst the well known stars: or if not there,
Sure will he saint her in his Calendar.

*This should, apparently, be wittol, a tame cuckold. A Saxon word from witan, to know; or, as Philips says in his World of Words, “Wittall, a cuckold that wits all, i.e. knows all: i.e. knows that he is so.” The Witwall was a bird, by some taken for the Green-finch or Canary-bird; others relate of it, “that if a man behold it that hath the yellow jaundice, he is presently cured and the bird dieth.” I have not altered the orthography of the word, as it may stand for wile-well, i. e. know well. I find Skelton spells this word toit-woldt.

From: Hall, Joseph, Warton, Thomas and Singer, Samuel Weller, Satires by Joseph Hall, afterwards Bishop of Exeter and Norwich. With the illustrations of the Late Rev. Thomas Warton. And Additional Notes by Samuel Weller Singer, 1824, Printed by C. Whittingham for R. Triphook: Chiswick, London, pp. 19-20.

Date: 1597

By: Joseph Hall (1574-1656)

Monday, 6 August 2018

Upon That Day When First I Saw Thy Face by Angelo Ambrogini (Poliziano)

Upon that day when first I saw thy face,
I vowed with loyal love to worship thee.
Move, and I move; stay, and I keep my place:
Whate’er thou dost, will I do equally.

In joy of thine I find most perfect grace,
And in thy sadness dwells my misery:
Laugh, and I laugh; weep, and I too will weep.
Thus Love commands, whose laws I loving keep.

Nay, be not over-proud of thy great grace,
Lady! for brief time is thy thief and mine.
White will he turn those golden curls, that lace
Thy forehead and thy neck so marble-fine.
Lo! while the flower still flourisheth apace,
Pluck it: for beauty but awhile doth shine.
Fair is the rose at dawn; but long ere night
Her freshness fades, her pride hath vanished quite.

Fire, fire! Ho, water! for my heart’s afire!
Ho, neighbours! help me, or by God I die!
See, with his standard, that great lord, Desire!
He sets my heart aflame: in vain I cry.
Too late, alas! The flames mount high and higher.
Alack, good friends! I faint, I fail, I die.
Ho! water, neighbours mine! no more delay I
My heart’s a cinder if you do but stay.

Lo, may I prove to Christ a renegade,
And, dog-like, die in pagan Barbary;
Nor may God’s mercy on my soul be laid,
If ere for aught I shall abandon thee:
Before all-seeing God this prayer be made—
When I desert thee, may death feed on me:
Now if thy hard heart scorn these vows, be sure
That without faith none may abide secure.

I ask not, Love, for any other pain
To make thy cruel foe and mine repent,
Only that thou shouldst yield her to the strain
Of these my arms, alone, for chastisement;
Then would I clasp her so with might and main,
That she should learn to pity and relent,
And, in revenge for scorn and proud despite,
A thousand times I’d kiss her forehead white.

Not always do fierce tempests vex the sea,
Nor always clinging clouds offend the sky;
Cold snows before the sunbeams haste to flee,
Disclosing flowers that ‘neath their whiteness lie;
The saints each one doth wait his day to see,
And time makes all things change; so, therefore, I
Ween that ’tis wise to wait my turn, and say,
That who subdues himself, deserves to sway.

From: Symonds, John Addington, Sketches and Studies in Italy and Greece, 1914, John Murray: London, pp. 312-314.

Date: c1470 (original in Italian); 1879 (translation in English)

By: Angelo Ambrogini (Poliziano) (1454-1494)

Translated by: John Addington Symonds (1840-1893)