Posts tagged ‘unknown’

Sunday, 3 July 2022

[Unknown] by Harry Thurston

We all must come from somewhere. Out of the blackness of time,
moon-faced, our complexions pocked by the catastrophe of

Why not believe as did the ancient marsh dwellers?
The sacred ibis spoke the gods into being,

laying an egg from which the sun burst forth.
The rest is history. Or so said Herodotus.

It was the jet-black ibises, with their hooked beaks
down-turned like the nibs of pens, who gave us writing.

One story is as good as another.
We all must come from somewhere,

shining out of the blackness of time.
Believe what you must.

From: Jernigan, Amanda and Jones, Evan (eds.), Earth and Heaven: An Anthology of Myth Poetry, 2015, Fitzhenry & Whiteside: Ontario, p. [unnumbered].

Date: 2015

By: Harry Thurston (1950- )

Saturday, 1 June 2019

The Tavern Dancing Girl by Unknown

See the Syrian girl, her tresses with the Greek tiara bound,
Skill’d to strike the castanets, and foot it to their merry sound,
Through the tavern’s reeky chamber, with her cheeks all flush’d with wine,
Strikes the rattling reeds, and dances, while around the guests recline.
“Wherefore thus, footsore and weary, plod through summer’s dust and heat?
Better o’er the wine to linger, laid in yonder cool retreat!
There are casks, and cans, and goblets,—roses, fifes, and lutes are there,—
Shady walks, where arching branches cool for us the sultry air.
There, from some Mænalian grotto, all unseen, some rustic maid
Pipes her shepherd notes, that babble sweetly through the listening glade.
There, in cask pitch’d newly over, is a vintage clear and strong;
There, among the trees, a brooklet brawls with murmurs hoarse along;
There be garlands, where the violet, mingling with the crocus, blows,
Chaplets of the saffron twining through the blushes of the rose;
Lilies, too, which Acheloës shall in wicker baskets bring,
Lilies fresh and sparkling, newly dipped within some virgin spring.
There are little cheeses also, dried between the verdant rushes,
Yellow plums, the bloom upon them, which they took from Autumn’s blushes,
Chestnuts, apples ripe and rosy, cakes which Ceres might applaud;
Here, too, dwelleth gentle Amor; here is Bacchus, jovial god!
Blood-red mulberries, and clusters of the trailing vine between,
Rush-bound cucumbers are there, too, with their sides of bloomy green.
There, too, stands the cottage-guardian, in his hand a willow-hook,
But he bears no other weapon: maidens unabash’d may look.
Come, my Alibida, hither! See! your ass is fairly beat!
Spare him, as I know you love him. How he’s panting with the heat!
Now from brake and bush is shrilling the cicada’s piercing note;
E’en the lizard now is hiding in some shady nook remote.
Lay ye down!—to pause were folly—by the glassy fountain’s brink,
Cool your goblet in the crystal, cool it ever, ere you drink.
Come, and let your wearied body ‘neath the shady vine repose,
Come, and bind your languid temples with a chaplet of the rose!
Come, and ye shall gather kisses from the lips of yon fair girl;
He, whose forehead ne’er relaxes, ne’er looks smiling, is a churl!
Why should we reserve these fragrant garlands for the thankless dust?
Would ye that their sweets were gather’d for the monumental bust?
Wine there!—wine and dice!—To-morrow’s fears shall fools alone benumb.
By the ear Death pulls me. “Live!” he whispers softly. “Live! I come!”

From: Martin, Theodore, Poems; Original and Translated, 1863: Printed for Private Circulation: London, pp. 320-322.

Date: 1st century BCE (original in Latin); 1863 (translation in English

By: Unknown

Translated by: Theodore Martin (1816-1909)

Thursday, 22 December 2016

Short and Sweet by Unknown

Wise men suffer, good men grieve,
Knaves devise, and Fools believe,
Help, O Lord, send ayd unto us,
Else Knaves and Fools will quite undoe us.

From: Brome, Alexander, Rump: or An Exact collection of the choycest poems and songs relating to the late times, 1662, Henry Brome and Henry Marsh: London, p. 30.

Date: c1640

By: Unknown

Friday, 16 December 2016

A Song Bewailing the Time of Christmas, So Much Decayed in England by Unknown

Christmas is my name, for have I gone, have I gone, have I gone,
Have I gone without regard;
Whereas great men by flocks they be flown to Londonward
Where in pomp and pleasure do waste
That which Christmas had wont to feast,
Houses where music was wonted to ring,
Nothing but bats and owls now do sing.
Welladay, welladay, welladay, where should I stay?

Christmas bread and beef is turned into stones, into stones, into stones,
Into stones and silken rags.
And Lady Money, it doth sleep, it doth sleep, it doth sleep,
It doth sleep in misers’ bags.
Where many gallants once abound,
Nought but a dog and shepherd is found,
Places where Christmas revels did keep
Are now become habitations for sheep.
Welladay, welladay, welladay, where should I stay?

Pan, the shepherds’ god, doth deface, doth deface, doth deface,
Doth deface Lady Ceres’ crown;
And tillages doth decay, doth decay, doth decay,
Doth decay in every town;
Landlords their rents so highly enhance
That Piers the ploughman barefoot doth dance,
Farmers that Christmas would entertain
Hath scarcely withal themselves to maintain.
Welladay, welladay, welladay, where should I stay?

Go to the Protestant, he’ll protest, he’ll protest, he’ll protest,
He will protest and boldly boast;
And to the Puritan, he is so hot, he is so hot, he is so hot,
He is so hot he will burn the roast.
The Catholic good deeds will not scorn,
Nor will he see poor Christmas forlorn,
Since holiness no good deeds will do,
Protestants had best turn Papists too.
Welladay, welladay, welladay, where should I stay?

Pride and luxury doth devour, doth devour, doth devour,
Doth devour housekeeping quite,
And beggary doth beget, doth beget, doth beget,
Doth beget in many a knight.
Madam, forsooth, in coach must she reel
Although she wear her hose out at heel,
And on her back were that for her weed
That would both me and many other feed,
Welladay, welladay, welladay, where should I stay?

Briefly for to end, here I find, here I find, here I find,
Here I find such great vacation
That some great houses do seem to have, seem to have, seem to have,
For to have some great purgation:
With purging pills such effects they have showed
That out of doors their owners they have spewed.
And when Christmas goes by and calls,
Nothing but solitude and naked walls.
Welladay, welladay, welladay, where should I stay?

Philomel’s cottages are turned into gold, into gold,
Into gold for harboring Joan;
And great men’s houses up for to hold, up for to hold,
Up for to hold, make great men moan;
But in the city they say they do live
Where gold by handfuls away they do give,
And, therefore, thither I purpose to pass,
Hoping at London to find the Golden Ass.
I’ll away, I’ll away, I’ll away, I’ll no longer stay.


Date: c1624

By: Unknown

Friday, 8 July 2016

The Love Song for Shu-Sin by Unknown

Bridegroom, dear to my heart,
Goodly is your beauty, honeysweet,
Lion, dear to my heart,
Goodly is your beauty, honeysweet.

You have captivated me, let me stand tremblingly before you.
Bridegroom, I would be taken by you to the bedchamber,
You have captivated me, let me stand tremblingly before you.
Lion, I would be taken by you to the bedchamber.

Bridegroom, let me caress you,
My precious caress is more savory than honey,
In the bedchamber, honey-filled,
Let me enjoy your goodly beauty,
Lion, let me caress you,
My precious caress is more savory than honey.

Bridegroom, you have taken your pleasure of me,
Tell my mother, she will give you delicacies,
My father, he will give you gifts.

Your spirit, I know where to cheer your spirit,
Bridegroom, sleep in our house until dawn,
Your heart, I know where to gladden your heart,
Lion, sleep in our house until dawn.

You, because you love me,
Give me pray of your caresses,
My lord god, my lord protector,
My Shu-Sin, who gladdens Enlil’s heart,
Give my pray of your caresses.
Your place goodly as honey, pray lay your hand on it,
Bring your hand over like a gishban-garment,
Cup your hand over it like a gishban-sikin-garment

It is a balbale-song of Inanna.


Date: 2000 BCE (original in Sumerian); 1956 (translation in English)

By: Unknown

Translated by: Samuel Noah Kramer (1897-1990)

Monday, 15 June 2015

ABC a Femmes by Unknown

Those who to heaven’s Lady
Owe faith and loyalty
May listen now to my words,
And I’ll tell them the truth.
If there’s anyone who’s done wrong
To women through wickedness,
May he be banished from courtesy
Or immediately be corrected
For surely he betrays his breeding
Whoever deceives a woman.

May God assist me, in charity,
As far as I have need;
I will make for women an ABC,
Should they wish to go to school.
Those who are literate
Can inform others
How they are honored
Properly, without falsifying
Where woman goes, there goes joy:
She goes not alone.

Amour for a woman incites my heart
To compose a little entertainment
To protect women from all blame.
Each of us ought to be careful
On account of the love of a lady
Whom everyone on earth honors.
He who slanders women and spreads rumors
Never came from a good origin,
To tell the truth.
He who speaks evil of women
Surely debases his mouth.

Beauty of women exceeds the rose,
If one wishes to judge it properly.
On earth there’s nothing else so sweet
As loving well with faithfulness.
Moreover, I certainly dare to declare
And, if need be, to prove
That evil residing in falseness
Often makes women’s eyes weep
For wrong.
Whoever blames a woman deceitfully,
His good breeding certainly sleeps.

Concerning himself, each man
Should speak very well of women,
And I’ll tell you exactly why:
Because of one who’s healer of all ills,
From whom was born the high king
Who is Lord of all the world.
Blessed be that tree of faith
That bears such fruit as never spoils
At all,
For she bore the noble child
Endowed with all good.

Diamonds or other stones
Are not as pure in their virtue
As are women in their bearing.
To join in love they hold the glue,
And they are pleasing and meek.
They’ve struck me with a dart of love.
Whoever insults women in any way
Offends the mother of Jesus
And sins.
He who does this habitually
Bears a vile stain.

Elegantly sculpted bodies they have,
Well-formed in every aspect.
Men wouldn’t be worth a farthing
If women didn’t exist, that’s what I think.
Therefore we should, without fail,
Hold such a thing in great value,
For there’s nothing so dear as women
Beneath the joy of heaven,
On earth.
There’s nothing else on earth
That’s able to please everyone.

Females have sparkling eyes,
And they gaze like falcons.
He ought to have very high hopes
Whoever lies in their prison,
For by morning and evening
He’ll have nothing but joy!
Of all virtues they’re the heirs,
As noble and beautiful, indeed,
As the rose.
Who doesn’t speak well of them
Shows his own baseness.

Gentility flourishes in woman’s heart,
And blooms as does the flower.
Blessed be he who set it there,
In a place of such high honor.
Whoever speaks vilely of women
Can be absolutely certain
To have shame without relief
In a very dark place,
And pain.
Ever since God was born of woman,
She’s never had any baseness.

Harp nor any other instrument,
Nor bird singing in the woods,
Sounds so noble a melody
As one hears in a woman’s voice.
He might lead a very secure life
Whoever can take his choice of women,
For women incline toward all good things,
As does the hazel tree that bears nuts
And leaves.
He who planted beauty in women
Chose a very noble soil.

Infant has there never been born
Since the time of Adam and Eve
Who understood women’s virtue,
Where it begins, nor where it ends.
To unlock such a secret
Would thus be a weighty thing for me;
But since I’ve begun to do it,
I’ll speak first with words soft
And pure:
We should all honor women,
For the love of a virgin.

Kind courtesy lies in a woman
In the place where one has sweet delight;
And he who took flesh in a woman
Granted us release from hell;
And of a woman he was born,
Who later endured death for us.
Whoever has contempt for women
Is wrong, it seems to me,
For that reason:
For into a woman descended
Jesus the almighty.

Love of the world dwells in a woman
In a very amiable place.
He has not chosen a small place,
But a generous, large, and delightful one.
He’ll not find that she disinherits him;
There can he remain always stable;
His lodging is free of all ills!
For I tell the truth without any fiction
Whoever seeks evil in a woman
Certainly wastes his time.

Mary who bore the Savior,
Your grace I pray of you.
Be for me an aid and a help,
In order to protect the honor of women,
Who bear fruit of a lovely hue,
Noble, sweet, and never bitter:
People who are of great worth,
Who govern the whole world
With reason.
Blessed be such a tree
Who bears such fruit! Amen.

Note of the nightingale
I think but a trifle in Maytime
(And of each flying bird),
Beside the one whom I’ve named,
For she sings very cleverly,
And makes a man’s heart happy,
And bears a beak sweet and soft.
If it be necessary, I know how to name it
By name.
When God made women company to men,
He gave them a very lovely gift.

Onto women is honor linked;
They are the root of virtues.
For each hurt that stings men,
Women bear the remedy.
When they have soothed the wound,
The pain goes away and quickly ends.
May God grant us the love of her
To whom the world bows
And prays.
On the day of great judgment
May she be a help to us!

Prized as periwinkle and without equal,
Women are above all other things,
For no one knows how to describe
The virtue of women, this we know well.
Women bear shining faces,
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
May God grant me the joy to have
The lovely sweet who is my own
I’ve never found in her anything
But virtue and a steadfast heart.

Quaintly elegant they go forth armed
With great beauty that shows outwardly,
And inwardly with perfect virtue
Have they filled the whole body.
It would then be a great pity
If all such were to die,
Who have on our behalf cried out terribly,
And this is excessively wrong,
No one can describe
That joy that descends from them.

Rose that’s of a beauteous hue
And bears the mark of summer
Does not release so pure a fragrance
As does the sweet breath of women.
Whoever might then, night and day,
Have one in his own possession
Would be able to live in great honor
And in joy without any pain
In world.
No one can describe
The joy that abounds in women.

Spices all, which in times of peace
Come from every land by sea,
Were they to be bound up in a sheaf,
And were one obliged to judge them justly,
There would be none of such delight
As a sweet kiss from a woman.
This I am always ready to prove,
No matter who wishes to plead against me
In words.
For woman is the most gracious
Thing that God has ever made.

Treacle of the highest quality
Is not at all as pure in its season
As is the renowned liqueur
That a woman carries in her breast.
Well ought such a thing be loved,
Who carries so splendid a medicine.
Many times does woman suffer,
On behalf of us, in childbed,
Without pride.
No one can describe
How they suffer for us.

Volatile are not at all their feelings,
For they hold themselves to one practice.
Disgraceful things are not to be said of them,
For they are entirely praiseworthy.
The more one is come of noble family,
The less one grows arrogant in any way.
Every man who’s of good standing
Honors women by his intent
Honor given a good woman
Cannot be misapplied.

X, Christ, the son of Mary,
The very noble child,
Forbids that wickedness
Henceforth be
Uttered, for any madness,
To any living woman.
Instead, may each man love his beloved
As God is loving to us
On earth,
So that his sweet face
In heaven we may see.

Yssop, fennel, columbine,
Renowned lily-flower,
Rose that bears a lovely hue,
Rooted ginger —
All must grow in the path
Where woman places her foot.
Surely that man has a good morning
Who is loved by a woman
Without deceit,
For there’s never been a woman
Who wasn’t highly praiseworthy.

Zebulon, as I say to you —
That’s an appropriate name!
May he who offends a good woman
Never attain pardon for his soul.
If I were king or powerful count,
Or noble baron of the land,
Whoever treated a woman shamefully
I’d immediately place in prison,
And if he would not reform himself,
He would never have any reprieve.

Sweet friend, be assured
That he will be cursed by God
Who, with evil and empty words,
Speaks dishonor or contempt to women.
For God himself, without any pain,
Was on earth born of a woman
Who displays her joy in heaven.
In serving her, I take great pleasure,
For she’s the fountain of joy,
The spring of love.

The place where a woman sits,
In hall with bench against wall,
Abhors all vile baseness.
Just as she bears the purest fruit
Of all trees from which leaves fall,
So is woman the supreme flower.
May each man, as best he can,
Protect their bodies and their honor
From shame,
For all pleasing things
A good woman surpasses.

Women go forth cruelly bound
By the grace of the Almighty.
Were it not for their deep humility,
Which displays women’s fine excellence,
Never would a woman born of a mother
Be delivered of a child.
They suffer much for our love,
And many a time they sigh
For love.
Very often their kindness
Leads them to profound grief.

“Ave Maria,” we ought to say,
For all women who are big with child;
On our behalf, their color grows worse,
As they depart from hall to bedroom.
Let us pray to Jesus Our Lord,
Who in his joy sits there on high,
Who may, if he pleases, tend them as doctor
And the anguish they bear on our behalf
Very often.
May God protect women’s honor,
And all that befits them.

“Amen” we all ought to say!
Blessed be the precious death
That Our Lord suffered on our behalf,
Which released us from hell.
And on earth he suffered great torture
(Undeserved and unjust),
Without anger and without wrath.
On our behalf he suffered hard pain
On cross.
He granted us the joy of heaven
With his own voice.


Date: c1340 (original in French); 2014 (translation in English)

By: Unknown

Translated by: Susanna Greer Fein (19??- )

Saturday, 28 March 2015

Lines from the Tomb of an Unknown Woman by Unknown

Taken from a tomb on the Fu-Kiu mountain district of So-Chau in the Province of Kiangsu. The date of the poem is many centuries old.

Mother of Pity, hear my prayer
That in the endless round of birth
No more may break my heart on earth,
Nor by the windless waters of the Blest
Weary of rest;
That drifting, drifting, I abide not anywhere.
Yet if by Karma’s law I must
Resume this mantle of the dust
Grant me, I pray,
One dewdrop from thy willow spray,
And in the double lotus keep
My hidden heart asleep.

From: Cranmer-Byng, L., A Feast of Lanterns: Renderered with an Introduction by L. Cranmer-Byng, 1916, John Murray: London, p. 39.

Date: ? (original); 1916 (translation)

By: Unknown

Translated by: Launcelot Cranmer-Byng (1872-1945)

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

A new Courtly Sonet, of the Lady Greensleeues. To the new tune of Greensleeues by Unknown

Greensleeues was all my ioy,
  Greensleeues was my delight:
Greensleeues was my hart of gold,
  And who but Ladie Greensleeues.

Alas my loue, ye do me wrong,
  to cast me off discurteously:
And I haue loued you so long
  Delighting in your companie.
Greensleeues was all my ioy,
  Greensleeues was my delight:
Greensleeues was my heart of gold,
  And who but Ladie Greensleeues.

I haue been readie at your hand,
  to grant what euer you would craue.
I haue both waged life and land,
  your loue and good will for to haue.
    Greensleeues was all my ioy, &c.

I bought three kerchers to thy head,
  that were wrought fine and gallantly:
I kept thee both boord and bed,
  Which cost my purse wel fauouredly,
    Greensleeues was all my ioie, &c.

I bought thee peticotes of the best,
  the cloth so fine as might be:
I gaue thee iewels for thy chest,
  and all this cost I spent on thee.
    Greensleeues was all my ioie, &c.

Thy smock of silk, both faire and white,
  with gold embrodered gorgeously:
Thy peticote of Sendall right:
  and thus I bought thee gladly.
    Greensleeues was all my ioie, &c.

Thy girdle of gold so red,
  with pearles bedecked sumptuously:
The like no other lasses had,
  and yet thou wouldst not loue me,
    Greensleeues was all my ioy, &c.

Thy purse and eke thy gay guilt kniues,
  thy pincase gallant to the eie:
No better wore the Burgesse wiues,
  and yet thou wouldst not loue me.
    Greensleeues was all my ioy, &c.

Thy crimson stockings all of silk,
  with golde all wrought aboue the knee,
Thy pumps as white as was the milk,
  and yet thou wouldst not loue me.
    Greensleeues was all my ioy, &c.

Thy gown was of the grossie green,
  thy sleeues of Satten hanging by:
Which made thee be our haruest Queen,
  and yet thou wouldst not loue me.
    Greensleeues was all my ioy, &c.

Thy garters fringed with the golde,
  And siluer aglets hanging by,
Which made thee blithe for to beholde,
  And yet thou wouldst not loue me.
    Greensleeues was all my ioy, &c.

My gayest gelding I thee gaue,
  To ride where euer liked thee,
No Ladie euer was so braue,
  And yet thou wouldst not loue me.
    Greensleeues was all my ioy, &c.

My men were clothed all in green,
  And they did euer wait on thee:
Al this was gallant to be seen,
  and yet thou wouldst not loue me.
    Greensleeues was all my ioy, &c.

They set thee vp, they took thee downe,
  they serued thee with humilitie,
Thy foote might not once touch the ground,
  and yet thou wouldst not loue me.
    Greensleeues was all my ioy, &c.

For euerie morning when thou rose,
  I sent thee dainties orderly:
To cheare thy stomack from all woes,
  and yet thou wouldst not loue me.
    Greensleeues was all my ioy, &c.

Thou couldst desire no earthly thing.
  But stil thou hadst it readily:
Thy musicke still to play and sing,
  And yet thou wouldst not loue me.
    Greensleeues was all my ioy, &c.

And who did pay for all this geare,
  that thou didst spend when pleased thee?
Euen I that am reiected here,
  and thou disdainst to loue me.
    Greensleeues was all my ioy, &c.

Wel, I wil pray to God on hie,
  that thou my constancie maist see:
And that yet once before I die,
  thou wilt vouchsafe to loue me.
    Greensleeues was all my ioy, &c.

Greensleeues now farewel adue,
  God I pray to prosper thee:
For I am stil thy louer true,
  come once againe and loue me.
    Greensleeues was all my ioy, &c.


Date: 1584

By: Unknown

Sunday, 5 February 2012

The Watchmaker’s Epitaph by Unknown

Here lies in the horizontal position
The outside case of
George Routleigh, Watchmaker,
Whose abilities in that line were an honour
To his profession:

Integrity was the main-spring,
And prudence the regulator
Of all the actions of his life:
Humane, generous and liberal,
His hand never stopped
Till he had relieved distress;

So nicely regulated were all his movements
That he never went wrong
Except when set-a-going
By people
Who did not know his key;
Even then, he was easily
Set right again:

He had the art of disposing of his time
So well
That his hours glided away
In one continual round
Of pleasure and delight,
Till an unlucky moment put a period to
His existence;

He departed this life
November 14, 1802
Wound up,
In hopes of being taken in hand
By his Maker,
And of being
Thoroughly cleaned, repaired and set-a-going
In the World to come.


Date: 1786 (published)

By: Unknown