Tuesday, December 22, 2015

CLINTON SCOLLARD 1860-1932


-o0o-

A BELL

Had I the power
To cast a bell that should from some grand tower,
At the first Christmas hour,
Outring,
And fling
A jubilant message wide,
The forged metals should be thus allied:-
No iron Pride,
But soft Humility, and rich-veined Hope
Cleft from a sunny slope;
And there should be
White Charity,
And silvery Love, that knows not Doubt nor Fear,
To make the peal more clear;
And then to firmly fix the fine alloy,
There should be Joy! 

THE NEXT POST HERE WILL BE ON MONDAY 4TH JANUARY
A new Art Blog ART BY 20TH CENTURY WOMEN PAINTERS begins on Monday 4th January

WISHING EVERYONE A MERRY CHRISTMAS AND A HAPPY NEW YEAR

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Monday, December 21, 2015

WALTER de la MARE 1873-1956

MISTLETOE

Sitting under the mistletoe
(Pale-green, fairy mistletoe),
One last candle burning low,
All the sleepy dancers gone,
Just one candle burning on,
Shadows lurking everywhere:
Some one came, and kissed me there.

Tired I was; my head would go
Nodding under the mistletoe
(Pale-green, fairy mistletoe),
No footsteps came, no voice, but only,
Just as I sat there, sleepy, lonely,
Stooped in the still and shadowy air
Lips unseen - and kissed me there.

This English poet, short story writer and novelist is probably best remembered for his works for children and for his poem "The Listeners."  His Collected Stories for Children won the 1947 Carnegie Medal for British children's books.

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Sunday, December 20, 2015

DOLLIE RADFORD 1858-1920

-o0o-

A NOVICE

What is it, in these latter days, 
Transfigures my domestic ways, 
And round me, as a halo, plays? 
My cigarette. 

For me so daintily prepared, 
No modern skill, or perfume, spared, 
What would have happened had I dared 
To pass it yet? 

What else could lighten times of woe, 
When some one says 'I told you so,' 
When all the servants, in a row, 
Give notices? 

When the great family affairs 
Demand the most gigantic cares, 
And one is very ill upstairs, 
With poultices? 

What else could ease my aching head, 
When, though I long to be in bed, 
I settle steadily instead 
To my 'accounts?' 

And while the house is slumbering, 
Go over them like anything, 
And find them ever varying, 
In their amounts! 

Ah yes, the cook may spoil the broth, 
The cream of life resolve to froth, 
I cannot now, though very wroth, 
Distracted be; 

For as the smoke curls blue and thin 
From my own lips, I first begin 
To bathe my tired spirit in 
Philosophy. 

And sweetest healing on her pours, 
Once more into the world she soars, 
And sees it full of open doors, 
And helping hands. 

In spite of those who, knocking, stay 
At sullen portals day by day, 
And weary at the long delay 
To their demands. 

The promised epoch, like a star, 
Shines very bright and very far, 
But nothing shall its lustre mar, 
Though distant yet. 

If I, in vain, must sit and wait, 
To realize our future state, 
I shall not be disconsolate, 
My cigarette!

Caroline Maitland was an English poet who, using her married name, wrote as Dollie Radford. Her friends included Eleanor Marx the youngest daughter of Karl Marx.


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Saturday, December 19, 2015

PAUL LAURENCE DUNBAR 1872-1906


-o0o-

SYMPATHY

I know what the caged bird feels, alas!
    When the sun is bright on the upland slopes;   
When the wind stirs soft through the springing grass,   
And the river flows like a stream of glass;
    When the first bird sings and the first bud opes,   
And the faint perfume from its chalice steals - 
I know what the caged bird feels!

I know why the caged bird beats his wing
    Till its blood is red on the cruel bars;   
For he must fly back to his perch and cling   
When he fain would be on the bough a-swing;
And a pain still throbs in the old, old scars   
And they pulse again with a keener sting - 
I know why he beats his wing!

I know why the caged bird sings, ah me,
    When his wing is bruised and his bosom sore, -
When he beats his bars and he would be free;
It is not a carol of joy or glee,
    But a prayer that he sends from his heart’s deep core,   
But a plea, that upward to Heaven he flings -
I know why the caged bird sings!

This American poet, novelist, and playwright was born to parents who had been enslaved in Kentucky before the American Civil War. He began to write stories and verse when still a child and was president of his high school's literary society. His first poems appeared in a Dayton newspaper when he was just 16 years old.

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Friday, December 18, 2015

ALFRED, LORD TENNYSON 1809-92


-o0o-

THE BROOK
(These are the first three verses of a much longer poem)

I come from haunts of coot and hern,
I make a sudden sally
And sparkle out among the fern,
To bicker down a valley.

By thirty hills I hurry down,
Or slip between the ridges,
By twenty thorpes, a little town,
And half a hundred bridges.

Till last by Philip's farm I flow
To join the brimming river,
For men may come and men may go,
But I go on for ever.

Tennyson was Poet Laureate of Britain and Ireland for much of Queen Victoria's reign. He is still one of our most popular poets and is particularly remembered for "The Charge of the Light Brigade."

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Thursday, December 17, 2015

WILLIAM WORDSWORTH 1770-1850


-o0o-

MINSTRELS

The minstrels played their Christmas tune
To-night beneath my cottage-eaves;
While, smitten by a lofty moon,
The encircling laurels, thick with leaves,
Gave back a rich and dazzling sheen,
That overpowered their natural green.

Through hill and valley every breeze
Had sunk to rest with folded wings:
Keen was the air, but could not freeze,
Nor check, the music of the strings;
So stout and hardy were the band
That scraped the chords with strenuous hand.

And who but listened? - till was paid
Respect to every inmate's claim,
The greeting given, the music played
In honour of each household name,
Duly pronounced with lusty call,
And "Merry Christmas" wished to all. 

-o=0=o-




Wednesday, December 16, 2015

SONG OF SONGS

My beloved speaks and says to me:
"Arise, my love, my fair one,
and come away;
for now the winter is past,
the rain is over and gone.
The flowers appear on the earth;
the time of singing has come,
and the voice of the turtle dove
is heard in our land.
The fig tree puts forth its figs,
and the vines are in blossom;
they give forth fragrance.
Arise, my love, my fair one,
and come away.
Set me as a seal upon your heart,
as a seal upon your arm;
for love is strong as death,
passion fierce as the grave.
Its flashes are flashes of fire,
a raging flame.
Many waters cannot quench love,
neither can floods drown it."

Those lines are just a section of the Song of Songs, also known as the Song of Solomon, in the Hebrew Bible and the Christian Old Testament.

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Tuesday, December 15, 2015

PERCY BYSSHE SHELLEY 1792-1822


-o0o-

ON A PAINTED WOMAN

To youths, who hurry thus away,
How silly your desire is
At such an early hour to pay
Your compliments to Iris.

Stop, prithee, stop, ye hasty beaux,
No longer urge this race on;
Though Iris has put on her clothes, 
She has not put her face on.

Shelley was one of the major English Romantic Poets and is regarded by some as among the finest lyric poet in the English language. Mary Shelley who wrote Frankenstein was his second wife.

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Monday, December 14, 2015

EMILY DICKINSON 1830-86


-o0o-

I'M NOBODY! WHO ARE YOU?

I'm nobody! Who are you?
Are you nobody, too?
Then there's a pair of us - don't tell!
They'd banish us, you know.

How dreary to be somebody!
How public, like a frog
To tell your name the livelong day
To an admiring bog!

Emily Dickinson left school as a teenager to live a reclusive life. She filled notebooks with poetry and wrote hundreds of letters. Her remarkable work was published after her death and she is now considered one of the leading figures of American literature.

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Sunday, December 13, 2015

A.E.HOUSMAN 1859-1936


-o0o-

This is a parody on "Excelsior" the famous poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

EXCELSIOR: THE SHADES OF NIGHT

The shades of night were falling fast
And the rain was falling faster,
When through an Alpine village passed
An Alpine village pastor;
A youth who bore mid snow and ice
A bird that wouldn't chirrup,
And a banner, with the strange device  -
"Mrs. Winslow's Soothing Syrup."

''Beware the pass," the old man said,
"My bold and desperate fellah;
Dark lowers the tempest overhead,
And you'll want your umberella;
And the roaring torrent is deep and wide  -
You may hear how it washes."
But still that clarion voice replied:
"I've got my old goloshes."

"Oh stay," the maiden said, "and rest
(For the wind blows from the nor'ward)
Thy weary head upon my breast  -
And please don't think me forward."
A tear stood in his bright blue eye
And gladly he would have tarried;
But still he answered with a sigh:
'"Unhappily I'm married."

The new blog THE SONGS AND SONNETS OF JOHN DONNE has been updated today

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Saturday, December 12, 2015

WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE 1564-1616


-o0o_

I KNOW A BANK
from "A Midsummer Night's Dream" spoken in the play by Oberon

I know a bank where the wild thyme blows,
Where oxlips and the nodding violet grows,
Quite over-canopied with luscious woodbine,
With sweet musk-roses and with eglantine:
There sleeps Titania sometime of the night,
Lull’d in these flowers with dances and delight;
And there the snake throws her enamell’d skin,
Weed wide enough to wrap a fairy in.

This comedy play, written between 1590 and 1597, is one of Shakespeare's most popular works and is widely performed across the world.

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Friday, December 11, 2015

ROBERT BURNS 1759-96


-o0o-

THINE AM I

Thine am I, my faithful Fair,
Thine, my lovely Nancy;
Ev'ry pulse along my veins,
Ev'ry roving fancy.

To thy bosom lay my heart,
There to throb and languish;
Tho' despair had wrung its core,
That would heal its anguish.

Take away those rosy lips,
Rich with balmy treasure;
Turn away thine eyes of love,
Lest I die with pleasure!

What is life when wanting* Love?
Night without a morning:
Love's the cloudless summer sun,
Nature gay adorning.

* lacking 
Robert Burns, the Bard of Ayrshire, is Scotland's national poet and is celebrated all over the world. He is regarded as a pioneer of the Romantic movement, and after his death he became a great source of inspiration to the founders of both liberalism and socialism

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Thursday, December 10, 2015

TO A FAT LADY SEEN FROM THE TRAIN
Frances Cornford  1886-1960

O why do you walk through the fields in gloves,
Missing so much and so much?
O fat white woman whom nobody loves,
Why do you walk through the fields in gloves,
When the grass is soft as the breast of doves
And shivering sweet to the touch?
O why do you walk through the fields in gloves,
Missing so much and so much?

-o0o-

THE FAT WHITE WOMAN SPEAKS
G.K.Chesterton  1874-1936

Why do you rush through the field in trains,
Guessing so much and so much?
Why do you flash through the flowery meads,
Fat-head poet that nobody reads;
And why do you know such a frightful lot
About people in gloves as such?
And how the devil can you be sure,
Guessing so much and so much,
How do you know but what someone who loves
Always to see me in nice white gloves
At the end of the field you are rushing by,
Is waiting for his Old Dutch?

-o=0=o-

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

THOMAS HOOD 1799-1845


-o0o-

SILENCE

There is a silence where hath been no sound,
There is a silence where no sound may be,
In the cold grave - under the deep, deep sea,
Or in wide desert where no life is found,
Which hath been mute, and still must sleep profound;
No voice is hush’d - no life treads silently,
But clouds and cloudy shadows wander free,
That never spoke, over the idle ground:
But in green ruins, in the desolate walls
Of antique palaces, where Man hath been,
Though the dun fox or wild hyæna calls,
And owls, that flit continually between,
Shriek to the echo, and the low winds moan -
There the true Silence is, self-conscious and alone.

Thomas Hood was an English poet, author and humorist. He contributed regularly to the London Magazine, The Athenaeum and Punch.

-o=0=o-

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

ROBERT HERRICK 1591-1674


-o0o-

TO THE VIRGINS, TO MAKE MUCH OF TIME

Gather ye rosebuds while ye may, 
  Old Time is still a-flying: 
And this same flower that smiles to-day 
  To-morrow will be dying. 

The glorious lamp of heaven, the sun,         
  The higher he's a-getting, 
The sooner will his race be run, 
  And nearer he's to setting. 

That age is best which is the first, 
  When youth and blood are warmer; 
But being spent, the worse, and worst 
  Times still succeed the former. 

Then be not coy, but use your time, 
  And while ye may, go marry: 
For having lost but once your prime, 
  You may for ever tarry. 

This English lyric poet and critic is best known for his book of poems Hesperides and of those poems To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time is the most popular.

-o=0=o-

Monday, December 7, 2015

AMY LOWELL 1874-1925


-o0o-

PETALS

Life is a stream
On which we strew
Petal by petal the flower of our heart;
The end lost in dream,
They float past our view,
We only watch their glad, early start.
Freighted with hope,
Crimsoned with joy,
We scatter the leaves of our opening rose;
Their widening scope,
Their distant employ,
We never shall know. And the stream as it flows
Sweeps them away,
Each one is gone
Ever beyond into infinite ways.
We alone stay
While years hurry on,
The flower fared forth, though its fragrance still stays.

Amy Lowell was an American poet of the imagist school. She posthumously won the Pulitzer Prize for poetry in 1926. Imagism was a movement in early 20th-century Anglo-American poetry that favoured precision of imagery and clear, sharp language.


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Sunday, December 6, 2015

OH! EVER THUS
Thomas Moore 1779-1852

 Oh! ever thus, from childhood's hour,
   I've seen my fondest hopes decay;
 I never loved a tree or flower,
   But 'twas the first to fade away.
 I never nursed a dear gazelle,
   To glad me with its soft black eye,
 But when it came to know me well,
   And love me, it was sure to die!

-o0o-

'TWAS EVER THUS
Henry Sambrooke Leigh 1837-83
  
I never rear'd a young gazelle, 
(Because, you see, I never tried); 
But, had it known and loved me well, 
No doubt the creature would have died. 
My rich and aged uncle John 
Has known me long and loves me well, 
But still persists in living on -
I would he were a young gazelle.

I never loved a tree or flower; 
But, if I had, I beg to say, 
The blight, the wind, the sun, or shower, 
Would soon have withered it away. 
I've dearly loved my uncle John, 
From childhood till the present hour, 
And yet he will go living on, - 
I would he were a tree or flower!

The new Poetry blog THE SONGS AND SONNETS OF JOHN DONNE is now online
http://thesongsandsonnetsofjohndonne.blogspot.com

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Saturday, December 5, 2015

JOHN DONNE 1572-1631


-o0o-

DAYBREAK

Stay! O sweet and do not rise!
The light that shines comes from thine eyes;
The day breaks not: it is my heart
Because that you and I must part.
Stay! or else my joys will die
And perish in their infancy.

-o0o-

A new Poetry Blog 
THE SONGS AND SONNETS OF JOHN DONNE
 begins tomorrow at
http://thesongsandsonnetsofjohndonne.blogspot.com

POETRY - A PERSONAL CHOICE will continue to be updated every day

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Friday, December 4, 2015

PERCY BYSSHE SHELLEY 1792-1822


-o0o-

LOVE'S PHILOSOPHY

The fountains mingle with the river 
And the rivers with the ocean, 
The winds of heaven mix for ever 
With a sweet emotion; 
Nothing in the world is single, 
All things by a law divine 
In one another's being mingle - 
Why not I with thine? 

See the mountains kiss high heaven, 
And the waves clasp one another; 
No sister-flower would be forgiven 
If it disdain'd its brother; 
And the sunlight clasps the earth, 
And the moonbeams kiss the sea - 
What are all these kissings worth, 
If thou kiss not me?

Shelley was one of the major English Romantic poets. He was a leading member of a group of visionary poets and writers which included Lord Byron, Leigh Hunt and his second wife Mary Shelley, the author of Frankenstein.
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Thursday, December 3, 2015

UNTITLED
Anon

"I’ll never use tobacco, no,
It is a filthy weed.
I’ll never put it in my mouth,"
Said little Robert Reid.

"Why, there was idle Jerry Jones,
As dirty as a pig,
Who smoked when only ten years old,
And thought it made him big.

"He’d puff along the open street,
As if he had no shame,
He’d sit beside the tavern door, 
And there he’d do the same.

"He spent his time and money too,
And made his mother sad,
She feared a worthless man would come
From such a worthless lad.

"Oh, no, I’ll never smoke or chew,
‘Tis very wrong indeed,
It hurts the health, it makes bad breath,"
Said little Robert Reid.

These lines may have been written towards the end of the 19th century.

The new Art Blog is now in its third week
THE PAINTINGS OF CLAUDE MONET

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Wednesday, December 2, 2015

EDWARD THOMAS 1878-1917


-o0o-

ADLESTROP

Yes, I remember Adlestrop -
The name, because one afternoon
Of heat the express-train drew up there
Unwontedly. It was late June.

The steam hissed. Someone cleared his throat.
No one left and no one came
On the bare platform. What I saw
Was Adlestrop - only the name

And willows, willow-herb, and grass,
And meadowsweet, and haycocks dry,
No whit less still and lonely fair
Than the high cloudlets in the sky. 

And for that minute a blackbird sang
Close by, and round him, mistier,
Farther and farther, all the birds
Of Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire.

Philip Edward Thomas was a British journalist, essayist, novelist and poet. In 1915, he enlisted in the British Army to fight in the First World War and was killed in action during the Battle of Arras in 1917, soon after he arrived in France.
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Tuesday, December 1, 2015

HENRY WADSWORTH LONGFELLOW 1807-82


-o0o-

A SLAVE'S DREAM

Beside the ungathered rice he lay,
  His sickle in his hand;
His breast was bare, his matted hair
  Was buried in the sand.
Again, in the mist and shadow of sleep,
  He saw his Native Land. 
Wide through the landscape of his dreams
  The lordly Niger flowed;
Beneath the palm-trees on the plain
  Once more a king he strode;
And heard the tinkling caravans
  Descend the mountain-road. 
He saw once more his dark-eyed queen
  Among her children stand;
They clasped his neck, they kissed his cheeks,
  They held him by the hand! -
A tear burst from the sleeper's lids
  And fell into the sand. 
And then at furious speed he rode
  Along the Niger's bank;
His bridle-reins were golden chains,
  And, with a martial clank,
At each leap he could feel his scabbard of steel
  Smiting his stallion's flank. 
Before him, like a blood-red flag,
  The bright flamingoes flew;
From morn till night he followed their flight,
  O'er plains where the tamarind grew,
Till he saw the roofs of Caffre huts,
  And the ocean rose to view. 
At night he heard the lion roar,
  And the hyena scream,
And the river-horse, as he crushed the reeds
  Beside some hidden stream;
And it passed, like a glorious roll of drums,
  Through the triumph of his dream. 
The forests, with their myriad tongues,
  Shouted of liberty;
And the Blast of the Desert cried aloud,
  With a voice so wild and free,
That he started in his sleep and smiled
  At their tempestuous glee. 
He did not feel the driver's whip,
  Nor the burning heat of day;
For Death had illumined the Land of Sleep,
  And his lifeless body lay
A worn-out fetter, that the soul
  Had broken and thrown away! 

Longfellow was "a traveller, a linguist, and a romantic who identified with the great traditions of European literature and thought. At the same time, he was rooted in American life and history, which charged his imagination with untried themes and made him ambitious for success." - The Maine Historical Society Website.
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Monday, November 30, 2015

JOSEPH CAMPBELL 1879-1944


-o0o-

THE OLD WOMAN

As a white candle
In a holy place
So is the beauty
Of an aged face. 
As the spent radiance
Of the winter sun,
So is a woman
With her travail done,
Her brood gone from her,
And her thoughts as still
As the waters
Under a ruined mill. 

This Irish poet and lyricist wrote under the Gaelic form of his name Soesamh MacCathmhaoil. He is now remembered particularly for words he supplied for original tunes.

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Saturday, November 28, 2015

EDGAR A. GUEST 1881-1959


-o0o-

IT COULDN'T BE DONE

Somebody said that it couldn't be done,
But he with a chuckle replied
That maybe it couldn't, but he would be one
Who wouldn't say so till he tried.

So he buckled right in with the trace of a grin
On his face. If he worried, he hid it.
He started to sing as he tackled the thing
That couldn't be done, and he did it.

Somebody scoffed: "Oh, you'll never do that -
At least no one ever has done it."
But he took off his coat and took off his hat
And the first thing he knew he'd begun it.

With the lift of his chin and a bit of a grin,
Without any doubting or quiddit,
He started to sing as he tackled the thing
That couldn't be done, and he did it.

There are thousands to tell you it cannot be done,
There are thousands to prophesy failure;
There are thousands to point out to you, one by one,
The dangers that wait to assail you.

But just buckle right in with a bit of a grin,
Then take off your coat and go to it;
Just start in to sing as you tackle the thing
That cannot be done, and you'll do it.

Edgar Albert Guest was an English-born American poet whose works were very popular in the first half of the 20th century. For many years he hosted a Detroit radio show and later had an NBC television series. He became known as The People's Poet.

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THOMAS HARDY 1840-1928


-o0o-

THE MARKET GIRL  

Nobody took any notice of her as she stood on the causey kerb*,
All eager to sell her honey and apples and bunches of garden herb;
And if she had offered to give her wares and herself with them too that day,
I doubt if a soul would have cared to take a bargain so choice away.

But chancing to trace her sunburnt grace that morning as I passed nigh,
I went and I said "Poor maidy dear! - and will none of the people buy?"
And so it began; and soon we knew what the end of it all must be,
And I found that, though no others had bid, a prize had been won by me.

*causey - a paved pathway

Thomas Hardy was one of the outstanding poets and novelists in the literary history of Britain. Many younger writers visited him; their number included W.B. Yeats, Siegfried Sassoon, Virginia Woolf and Ezra Pound with whom he had many discussions about poetry.


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Friday, November 27, 2015

JOHN MASEFIELD 1878-1967


-o0o-

ON EASTNOR KNOLL 

Silent are the woods, and the dim green boughs are 
Hushed in the twilight: yonder, in the path through 
The apple orchard, is a tired plough-boy 
Calling the cows home.

A bright white star blinks, the pale moon rounds, but 
Still the red, lurid wreckage of the sunset 
Smoulders in smoky fire, and burns on 
The misty hill-tops.

Ghostly it grows, and darker, the burning 
Fades into smoke, and now the gusty oaks are 
A silent army of phantoms thronging 
A land of shadows.

This English poet and writer was the Poet Laureate of the United Kingdom from 1930 until his death. His poems include Sea Fever from Salt Water Ballads (1902) and Cargoes from Ballads (1903)

Thursday, November 26, 2015

JOHN CLARE 1793-1864


-o0o-

THE WINDOW FLIES*

These little window dwellers, in cottages and halls, were always
entertaining to me; after dancing in the window all day from sunrise
to sunset they would sip of the tea, drink of the beer, and eat of the
sugar, and be welcome all summer long. They look like things of mind
or fairies, and seem pleased or dull as the weather permits. In many
clean cottages and genteel houses, they are allowed every liberty to
creep, fly, or do as they like; and seldom or ever do wrong. In fact
they are the small or dwarfish portion of our own family, and so many
fairy familiars that we know and treat as one of ourselves.

*These few lines are not what most of us would call "poetry." However, I think the piece is well worth being included here - John

The son of a farm labourer, this English poet is now considered to be among the most important poets of the 19th century. His biographer Jonathan Bate says that he was "the greatest labouring-class poet that England has ever produced."
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Wednesday, November 25, 2015

ALL’S WELL THAT ENDS WELL
Anon 18th century

A friend of mine was married to a scold,
To me he came and all his troubles told.
Said he, “She’s like a woman raving mad.”
“Alas, my friend” said I, “that’s very bad.”
“No, not so bad,” said he, “for with her, true,
I had both house and land, and money too.”

“That was well,” said I;
“No, not so well,” said he;
“For I and her own brother
Went to law with one another;
I was cast, the suit was lost,
And every penny went to pay the cost.”

“That was bad,” said I;
“No, not so bad,” said he;
“For we agreed that I the house should keep,
And give to me four score of Yorkshire sheep,
All fat and fine and fair, they were to be.”
“Well then,” said I, “sure that was well for thee?”

“No, not so well,” said he,
“For though the sheep I got, every one died of the rot.”
“That was bad,” said I;
“No, not so bad,” said he,
“For I had thought to scrape the fat,
And keep it in an oaken vat,
Then into tallow melt for winter store.”
“Well then,” said I, “That’s better than before.”

“Twas not so well,” said he,
“For having got a clumsy fellow
To scrape the fat and melt the tallow,
Into the melting fat the fire catches,
And, like brimstone matches,
Burnt my house to ashes.
“That WAS bad,” said I;
“No, not so bad,” said he, “for what is best,
My scolding wife got burnt up with the rest!”

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Tuesday, November 24, 2015

LANGSTON HUGHES 1902-67


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AS I GREW OLDER

It was a long time ago.
I have almost forgotten my dream.
But it was there then,
In front of me,
Bright like a sun -
My dream.
And then the wall rose,
Rose slowly,
Slowly,
Between me and my dream.
Rose until it touched the sky -
The wall.
Shadow.
I am black.
I lie down in the shadow.
No longer the light of my dream before me,
Above me.
Only the thick wall.
Only the shadow.
My hands! 
My dark hands! 
Break through the wall! 
Find my dream! 
Help me to shatter this darkness,
To smash this night,
To break this shadow
Into a thousand lights of sun,
Into a thousand whirling dreams
Of sun! 

This American poet, novelist and playwright was also a prominent social activist.

The new Art Blog is now in its second week
THE PAINTINGS OF CLAUDE MONET

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Monday, November 23, 2015

EMILY JANE BRONTE 1818-48

A portrait painted by her brother Branwell

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O DREAM. WHERE ART THOU NOW?

O dream, where art thou now?
 Long years have passed away
Since cast from off thine angel brow
 I saw the light decay.

Alas! alas for me!
 Thou wert so bright and fair,
I could not think thy memory
 Would yield me nought but care!

The moonbeam and the storm,
 The summer eve divine,
The silent night of solemn calm,
 The full moon's cloudless shine

Were once entwined with thee,
 But now with weary pain.
Lost vision! 'tis enough for me
 Thou canst not shine again.

This English novelist and poet was a member of the famous Bronte family. She is particularly remembered as the writer of Wuthering Heights. Her sisters Charlotte 1816-55 and Anne 1820-49 were also poets and novelists, and their brother Branwell 1817-48 was a painter and writer.

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Sunday, November 22, 2015

HILAIRE BELLOC 1870-1953


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MATILDA

Matilda told such Dreadful Lies,
It made one Gasp and Stretch one's Eyes; 
Her Aunt, who, from her Earliest Youth,
Had kept a Strict Regard for Truth,
Attempted to Believe Matilda:
The effort very nearly killed her,
And would have done so, had not She
Discovered this Infirmity.
For once, towards the Close of Day,
Matilda, growing tired of play,
And finding she was left alone,
Went tiptoe to the Telephone
And summoned the Immediate Aid
Of London's Noble Fire Brigade.
Within an hour the Gallant Band
Were pouring in on every hand,
From Putney, Hackney Downs, and Bow.
With Courage high and Hearts a-glow,
They galloped, roaring through the Town,
"Matilda's House is Burning Down!"
Inspired by British Cheers and Loud
Proceeding from the Frenzied Crowd,
They ran their ladders through a score
Of windows on the Ball Room Floor; 
And took Peculiar Pains to Souse
The Pictures up and down the House,
Until Matilda's Aunt succeeded
In showing them they were not needed; 
And even then she had to pay
To get the Men to go away.
It happened that a few Weeks later
Her Aunt was off to the Theatre
To see that Interesting Play
The Second Mrs. Tanqueray.
She had refused to take her Niece
To hear this Entertaining Piece:
A Deprivation Just and Wise
To Punish her for Telling Lies.
That Night a Fire did break out -
You should have heard Matilda Shout! 
You should have heard her Scream and Bawl,
And throw the window up and call
To People passing in the Street -
(The rapidly increasing Heat
Encouraging her to obtain
Their confidence) - but all in vain! 
For every time she shouted "Fire!"
They only answered "Little Liar!"
And therefore when her Aunt returned,
Matilda, and the House, were Burned. 

Joseph Hilaire Pierre Rene Belloc was the Anglo-French writer, poet, satirist, historian, saiior, soldier and political activist. From 1906 to 1910 he was the Liberal Party Member of Parliament for Salford South.
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Saturday, November 21, 2015

WALTER de la MARE 1873-1956


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WINTER

Clouded with snow
The cold winds blow,
And shrill on leafless bough
The robin with its burning breast
Alone sings now.

The rayless sun,
Day's journey done,
Sheds its last ebbing light
On fields in leagues of beauty spread
Unearthly white.

Thick draws the dark,
And spark by spark,
The frost-fires kindle, and soon
Over that sea of frozen foam
Floats the white moon.

Walter de la Mare OM CH was an English poet, novelist and short story writer, best remembered for his works for children. In 1947 his Collected Stories for Children won the Carnegie Medal for Children's Books.

Friday, November 20, 2015

SOPHIA WHITE

SHE SAW A MAN ON TELEVISION

She saw a man on television
In a suit and tie
And he wore a fine felt hat
Cocked over his eye.
She saw him sing and whistle
And dance a little step
And she wished the men today
Would not be so unkempt.

She saw a man on television
Woo a pretty lass
With smiles, winks, and daffodils,
And diamonds made of glass.
She saw him tip his hat to her
And offer her his arm
And lead her to the dance floor
With gentlemanly charm.

She saw a man on television
Smile with easy grace
And wished that she could find a man
With such an honest face.
But she knew that man on television
Was a dying breed
And suits and ties and tall felt hats
Had all grown obsolete.

There are a great many poems by Sophie White on the internet but no information about her. It appears that she is a young American - possibly a student.

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Thursday, November 19, 2015

MATTHEW ARNOLD 1822-88


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LONGING

Come to me in my dreams, and then
By day I shall be well again!
For so the night will more than pay
The hopeless longing of the day.

Come, as thou cam'st a thousand times,
A messenger from radiant climes,
And smile on thy new world, and be
As kind to others as to me!

Or, as thou never cam'st in sooth,
Come now, and let me dream it truth,
And part my hair, and kiss my brow,
And say, My love why sufferest thou?

Come to me in my dreams, and then
By day I shall be well again!
For so the night will more than pay
The hopeless longing of the day.

This English poet and critic had a famous father, Thomas Arnold who was head of Rugby School. His brothers also were well-known, the novelist William Delafield Arnold and Tom who was a literary professor.
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Wednesday, November 18, 2015

STEPHEN FOSTER 1826-64


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BEAUTIFUL DREAMER

Beautiful dreamer, wake unto me,
Starlight and dewdrops are waiting for thee;
Sounds of the rude world, heard in the day,
Lulled by the moonlight have all passed away!

Beautiful dreamer, queen of my song,
List while I woo thee with soft melody;
Gone are the cares of life's busy throng,
Beautiful dreamer, awake unto me!

Beautiful dreamer, out on the sea
Mermaids are chanting the wild lorelie;
Over the streamlet vapours are borne,
Waiting to fade at the bright coming morn.

Beautiful dreamer, beam on my heart,
E'en as the morn on the streamlet and sea;
Then will all clouds of sorrow depart,
Beautiful dreamer, awake unto me!

Stephen Foster the famous songwriter was known as "The Father of American music." He wrote more than 200 songs of which the most popular are probably Jeanie with the Light Brown Hair, Old Folks at Home, Oh Susanna, The Camptown Races and the one shown here today.

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Tuesday, November 17, 2015

JOHN KEATS 1795-1821


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ODE TO AUTUMN

Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness!
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eaves run;
To bend with apples the mossed cottage-trees,
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease,
For Summer has o'erbrimmed their clammy cells.

Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?
Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find
Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,
Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind;
Or on a half-reaped furrow sound asleep,
Drowsed with the fume of poppies, while thy hook
Spares the next swath and all its twined flowers;
And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep
Steady thy laden head across a brook;
Or by a cider-press, with patient look,
Thou watchest the last oozings, hours by hours.

Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they?
Think not of them, thou hast thy music too, -
While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day
And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue;
Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn
Among the river sallows, borne aloft
Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;
And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn;
Hedge-crickets sing, and now with treble soft
The redbreast whistles from a garden-croft;
And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.

John Keats was just twenty-five when he died. He is especially remembered for the wide range of poetic forms he used in his writings. It is said that, in the case of the English ode, he brought that form to its highest level.

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Monday, November 16, 2015

A TIRED HOUSEWIFE
Anon

Here lies a poor woman who was always tired,
She lived in a house where help wasn't hired:
Her last words on earth were: “Dear friends, I am going
To where there's no cooking, or washing, or sewing,
For everything there is exact to my wishes,
For where they don't eat there's no washing of dishes.
I'll be where loud anthems will always be ringing,
But having no voice I'll be quit of the singing.
Don't mourn for me now, don't mourn for me never,
I am going to do nothing for ever and ever.”

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The new Art Blog THE PAINTINGS OF CLAUDE MONET is now online

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Sunday, November 15, 2015

THOMAS HARDY 1840-1928


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IN THE BRITISH MUSEUM

What do you see in that time-touched stone,
When nothing is there
But ashen blankness, although you give it
A rigid stare?

You look not quite as if you saw,
But as if you heard,
Parting your lips, and treading softly
As mouse or bird.

It is only the base of a pillar, they'll tell you,
That came to us
From a far old hill men used to name
Areopagus."

"I know no art, and I only view
A stone from a wall,
But I am thinking that stone has echoed
The voice of Paul,

"Paul as he stood and preached beside it
Facing the crowd,
A small gaunt figure with wasted features,
Calling out loud

"Words that in all their intimate accents
Pattered upon
That marble front, and were far reflected,
And then were gone.

"I'm a labouring man, and know but little,
Or nothing at all;
But I can't help thinking that stone once echoed
The voice of Paul."

This English poet is well-known today as the author of novels such as Far from the Madding Crowd, Tess of the d'Urbervilles and Jude the Obscure. His poetry was not all that popular during his lifetime. However, there was a revival of interest in the 1950s and his poems had a significant influence on the poets of that period.
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Saturday, November 14, 2015

JOHN WILBYE 1574-1638


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LOVE NOT ME FOR COMELY GRACE

Love not me for comely grace,
For my pleasing eye or face;
Nor for any outward part,
No, nor for my constant heart:
For those may fail or turn to ill,
So thou and I shall sever.
Keep therefore a true woman's eye,
And love me still, but know not why;
So hast thou the same reason still
To dote upon me ever. 

John Wilbye is believed to have been the most famous of all the composers of English madrigals. Some of his works often appear in modern collections. 

The new Art Blog THE PAINTINGS OF CLAUDE MONET begins on Monday

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Friday, November 13, 2015

THICH NHAT HANH b.1926

PLEASE CALL ME BY MY TRUE NAMES

Do not say that I'll depart tomorrow -
even today I am still arriving.

Look deeply: every second I am arriving
to be a bud on a Spring branch,
to be a tiny bird, with still-fragile wings,
learning to sing in my new nest,
to be a caterpillar in the heart of a flower,
to be a jewel hiding itself in a stone.

I still arrive, in order to laugh and to cry,
to fear and to hope,
the rhythm of my heart is the birth and death
of all that are alive.

I am the mayfly metamorphosing
on the surface of the river,
and I am the bird which, when Spring comes,
arrives in time to eat the mayfly.

I am the frog swimming happily
in the clear water of a pond,
and I am the grass-snake
that silently feeds itself on the frog.

I am the child in Uganda, all skin and bones,
my legs as thin as bamboo sticks.
And I am the arms merchant,
selling deadly weapons to Uganda.

I am the twelve-year-old girl,
refugee on a small boat,
who throws herself into the ocean
after being raped by a sea pirate.
And I am the pirate,
my heart not yet capable
of seeing and loving.

I am a member of the politburo,
with plenty of power in my hands.
And I am the man who has to pay his
"debt of blood" to my people
dying slowly in a forced labour camp.

My joy is like Spring, so warm
it makes flowers bloom all over the Earth.
My pain is like a river of tears,
so vast it fills the four oceans.

Please call me by my true names,
so I can hear all my cries and laughter at once,
so I can see that my joy and pain are one.

Please call me by my true names,
so I can wake up
and so the door of my heart can be left open,
the door of compassion.

Thích Nhất Hạnh is a Vietnamese Buddhist monk, teacher, author, poet and peace activist. He lives in Plum Village in the Dordogne region in the south of France, travelling internationally to give retreats and talks.
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