Tuesday, December 22, 2015

CLINTON SCOLLARD 1860-1932


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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

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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


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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


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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


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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. 

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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


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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


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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


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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


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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


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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?

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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?

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Wednesday, December 9, 2015

THOMAS HOOD 1799-1845


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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 hy├Žna 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.

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Tuesday, December 8, 2015

ROBERT HERRICK 1591-1674


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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.

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Monday, December 7, 2015

AMY LOWELL 1874-1925


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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!

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'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


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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.

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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


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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


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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


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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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