Posts tagged ‘poetry’

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)

Tuesday, 10 December 2019

Morning, Thinking of Empire by Raymond Clevie Carver, Junior

We press our lips to the enameled rim of the cups
and know this grease that floats
over the coffee will one day stop our hearts.
Eyes and fingers drop onto silverware
that is not silverware. Outside the window, waves
beat against the chipped walls of the old city.
Your hands rise from the rough tablecloth
as if to prophesy. Your lips tremble …
I want to say to hell with the future.
Our future lies deep in the afternoon.
It is a narrow street with a cart and driver,
a driver who looks at us and hesitates,
then shakes his head. Meanwhile,
I coolly crack the egg of a fine Leghorn chicken.
Your eyes film. You turn from me and look across
the rooftops at the sea. Even the flies are still.
I crack the other egg.
Surely we have diminished one another.

From: Carver, Raymond, All of Us, 2016, Vintage Classics: London, p. [unnumbered].

Date: 1983

By: Raymond Clevie Carver, Junior (1938-1988)

Monday, 9 December 2019

Told One of the Goldfish Wouldn’t Last the Night… by David John Constantine

Told one of the goldfish wouldn’t last the night
He hid his eyes under a fierce scowl
And went outside on the flags and rode his bike
Round and round, round and round

But it did no good and he brought the fact back in
Heading for his bedroom and his secret stash of chocolate
But his mother got under his scowl and halted him
Till he showed her his eyes and that was that.

So much sorrow there is in a not-quite-five-year-old
They know so much already and suspect the rest
Already they are beyond being consoled
They watch, they have seen it signed and witnessed

That all living creatures have one thing in common:
They die. Creatures as intricate and various
As a worm, a swallow, a cat, a water-scorpion
Baby and grown-up, all of them, all of us

Die. So when in her arms her child became a well
And the waters of sorrow that are under the earth broke through
For a golden fish she was inconsolable
Grieving that his grief was right, just, true.


Date: 2014

By: David John Constantine (1944- )

Sunday, 8 December 2019

Lost by Stephen J. Dobyns

A cry was heard among the trees,
not a man’s, something deeper.
The forest extended up one side
the mountain and down the other.
None wanted to ask what had made
the cry. A bird, one wanted to say,
although he knew it wasn’t a bird.
The sun climbed to the mountaintop,
and slid back down the other side.
The black treetops against the sky
were like teeth on a saw. They waited
for it to come a second time. It’s lost,
one said. Each thought of being lost
and all the years that stretched behind.
Where had wrong turns been made?
Soon the cry came again. Closer now.


Date: 2010

By: Stephen J. Dobyns (1941- )

Saturday, 7 December 2019

Hard Luck by Edgar Albert Guest

Ain’t no use as I can see
In sittin’ underneath a tree
An’ growlin’ that your luck is bad,
An’ that your life is extry sad;
Your life ain’t sadder than your neighbor’s
Nor any harder are your labors;
It rains on him the same as you,
An’ he has work he hates to do;
An’ he gits tired an’ he gits cross,
An’ he has trouble with the boss;
You take his whole life, through an’ through,
Why, he’s no better off than you.

If whinin’ brushed the clouds away
I wouldn’t have a word to say;
If it made good friends out o’ foes
I’d whine a bit, too, I suppose;
But when I look around an’ see
A lot o’ men resemblin’ me,
An’ see ’em sad, an’ see ’em gay
With work t’ do most every day,
Some full o’ fun, some bent with care,
Some havin’ troubles hard to bear,
I reckon, as I count my woes,
They’re ’bout what everybody knows.

The day I find a man who’ll say
He’s never known a rainy day,
Who’ll raise his right hand up an’ swear
In forty years he’s had no care,
Has never had a single blow,
An’ never known one touch o’ woe,
Has never seen a loved one die,
Has never wept or heaved a sigh,
Has never had a plan go wrong,
But allas laughed his way along;
Then I’ll sit down an’ start to whine
That all the hard luck here is mine.


Date: 1917

By: Edgar Albert Guest (1881-1959)

Friday, 6 December 2019

Don’t Smile Please by Dennis Joseph Enright

Since the primary school is next door

You can’t help passing the playground
But don’t you smile at the children
Whether  a small girl or a little boy
Don’t you even look
You know what people will think
And you really can’t blame them.

What a world we live in! What went wrong?
If there’s another world to come
Let’s hope it’s one where people smile
And you can smile back safely.

Once they asked you to return their ball
It had sailed over the palings—
Eyes cast discreetly upwards, you stepped
Into the street and were nearly run down
Still, a little boy said ‘Thank you, mister’
A small girl almost smiled.


Date: 1993

By: Dennis Joseph Enright (1920-2002)

Thursday, 5 December 2019

Of Christ’s Birth in an Inn by Jeremy Taylor

The blessed Virgin travail’d without pain,
And lodged in an inn;
A glorious star the sign,
But of a greater guest than ever came that way;—
For there He lay,
That is the God of night and day,
And over all the powers of heaven doth reign.
It was the time of great Augustus’ tax,
And then he comes,
That pays all sums,
Ev’n the whole price of lost humanity,
And sets us free
From the ungodly empery
Of sin, and Satan, and of death.
O make our hearts, blest God, thy lodging place;
And in our breast
Be pleased to rest,
For thou lov’st temples better than an inn;
And cause, that sin
May not profane the Deity within,
And sully o’er the ornaments of grace.—Amen.

From: Taylor, Jeremy, The Whole Works of the Right Rev. Jeremy Taylor, D.D., Lord Bishop of Down, Connor, and Dromore. With An Essay, Biographical and Critical, in Three Volumes, Volume III, 1836, Frederick Westley and A. H. Davis: London,  p. 744.

Date: 1655

By: Jeremy Taylor (1613-1667)

Wednesday, 4 December 2019

After Reading J. T. Gilbert’s “The History of Dublin” by Denis Florence MacCarthy

Long have I loved the beauty of thy streets,
Fair Dublin: long, with unavailing vows,
Sigh’d to all guardian deities who rouse
The spirits of dead nations to new heats
Of life and triumph:–vain the fond conceits,
Nestling like eaves-warmed doves ‘neath patriot brows!
Vain as the “Hope,” that from thy Custom-House
Looks o’er the vacant bay in vain for fleets.
Genius alone brings back the days of yore:
Look! look, what life is in these quaint old shops–
The loneliest lanes are rattling with the roar
of coach and chair; fans, feathers, flambeaus, fops,
Flutter and flicker through yon open door,
Where Handel’s hand moves the great organ stops*.

March 11th, 1856.

*It is stated that the “Messiah” was first publicly performed in Dublin.

From: MacCarthy, Denis Florence, Poems, 1882, M. H. Gill and Son: Dublin, p. [unnumbered].

Date: 1856

From: Denis Florence MacCarthy (1817-1882)

Tuesday, 3 December 2019

Swallow by Hugh O’Donnell

She has forgotten how to swallow, how to take in
something extraneous and make it her own. Simple
enough for a regular guzzler; not so easy when the trap-
door assistant has slipped out for a coke and
croissant and a mess of food is poised for the drop.
Nurses dread that moment; doctors make a note
of the commotion in a scrawl; the speech therapist hails
an impairment and adjusts the mix so that tea will slide
rather than flow. ‘Can’t I have a drink of water?’ she asks
all the first days, then tires of asking, recalling home now
as the one place she can please herself, where walls advance
a big hug when she’s lonely, the toaster pops just for her,
the kettle bleats and blubbers when it can take no more.


Date: 2017

By: Hugh O’Donnell (1951- )

Monday, 2 December 2019

Five Questions for Three Birds by Vernon Fowlkes, Junior

What is the knocking at the door in the night?

…it is the three strange angels
Admit them, admit them.

D. H. Lawrence
“Song of a Man Who Has Come Through”

Mourning dove cooing sorrow
on the fence line, one that sings
like no other, tell me: For whom
are you grieving in my doorway tonight?

And you, cardinal, red cleric of the breeze, homilist
from the swaying trees, what are you preaching?
Strutting through this door cut from evening,
is that hellfire and damnation you’re whistling,
or just the redeeming relief of the fall?

Last across the threshold, dear strangely silent
crow—are you someone I’m supposed to know?
Tell me, if you can: In whose handwriting
are all these notes you keep leaving in my empty shoes?


Date: 2019

By: Vernon Fowlkes, Junior (19??- )