Poem of the day

Frost at Midnight
by Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772-1862)

The Frost performs its secret ministry,
Unhelped by any wind. The owlet’s cry
Came loud—and hark, again! loud as before.
The inmates of my cottage, all at rest,
Have left me to that solitude, which suits
Abstruser musings: save that at my side
My cradled infant slumbers peacefully.
’Tis calm indeed! so calm, that it disturbs
And vexes meditation with its strange
And extreme silentness. Sea, hill, and wood,
This populous village! Sea, and hill, and wood,
With all the numberless goings-on of life,
Inaudible as dreams! the thin blue flame
Lies on my low-burnt fire, and quivers not;
Only that film, which fluttered on the grate,

Still flutters there, the sole unquiet thing.
Methinks, its motion in this hush of nature
Gives it dim sympathies with me who live,
Making it a companionable form,
Whose puny flaps and freaks the idling Spirit
By its own moods interprets, every where
Echo or mirror seeking of itself,
And makes a toy of Thought.

                                    But O! how oft,
How oft, at school, with most believing mind,
Presageful, have I gazed upon the bars,
To watch that fluttering stranger ! and as oft
With unclosed lids, already had I dreamt
Of my sweet birth-place, and the old church-tower,
Whose bells, the poor man’s only music, rang
From morn to evening, all the hot Fair-day,
So sweetly, that they stirred and haunted me
With a wild pleasure, falling on mine ear
Most like articulate sounds of things to come!
So gazed I, till the soothing things, I dreamt,
Lulled me to sleep, and sleep prolonged my dreams!
And so I brooded all the following morn,
Awed by the stern preceptor’s face, mine eye
Fixed with mock study on my swimming book:
Save if the door half opened, and I snatched
A hasty glance, and still my heart leaped up,
For still I hoped to see the stranger’s face,
Townsman, or aunt, or sister more beloved,
My play-mate when we both were clothed alike!

         Dear Babe, that sleepest cradled by my side,
Whose gentle breathings, heard in this deep calm,
Fill up the intersperséd vacancies
And momentary pauses of the thought!
My babe so beautiful! it thrills my heart
With tender gladness, thus to look at thee,
And think that thou shalt learn far other lore,
And in far other scenes! For I was reared
In the great city, pent ’mid cloisters dim,
And saw nought lovely but the sky and stars.
But thou, my babe! shalt wander like a breeze
By lakes and sandy shores, beneath the crags
Of ancient mountain, and beneath the clouds,
Which image in their bulk both lakes and shores
And mountain crags: so shalt thou see and hear
The lovely shapes and sounds intelligible
Of that eternal language, which thy God
Utters, who from eternity doth teach
Himself in all, and all things in himself.
Great universal Teacher! he shall mould
Thy spirit, and by giving make it ask.

         Therefore all seasons shall be sweet to thee,
Whether the summer clothe the general earth
With greenness, or the redbreast sit and sing
Betwixt the tufts of snow on the bare branch
Of mossy apple-tree, while the night-thatch
Smokes in the sun-thaw; whether the eave-drops fall
Heard only in the trances of the blast,
Or if the secret ministry of frost
Shall hang them up in silent icicles,
Quietly shining to the quiet Moon.

Poem of the day

To a Poor Old Woman
by William Carlos Williams (1883-1963)

munching a plum on   
the street a paper bag
of them in her hand

They taste good to her
They taste good   
to her. They taste
good to her

You can see it by
the way she gives herself
to the one half
sucked out in her hand

Comforted
a solace of ripe plums
seeming to fill the air
They taste good to her

Poem of the day

Art, The Herald
by Alfred Noyes (1889-1948)
“The voice of one crying in the wilderness”

                           I

Beyond; beyond; and yet again beyond!
What went ye out to seek, oh foolish-fond?
         Is not the heart of all things here and now?
Is not the circle infinite, and the centre
Everywhere, if ye would but hear and enter?
         Come; the porch bends and the great pillars bow.

                           II

Come; come and see the secret of the sun;
The sorrow that holds the warring worlds in one;
         The pain that holds Eternity in an hour;
One God in every seed self-sacrificed,
One star-eyed, star-crowned universal Christ,
         Re-crucified in every wayside flower.

Brexit: the gift that keeps on giving

More popcorn please. Better order a lifetime supply.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has strongly defended his government’s plan to override sections of the Brexit deal that he negotiated with the European Union and accused the EU of having an “extreme” interpretation of the treaty that could jeopardize the U.K.’s future

Treasonable noticing of seditious facts

Nicholas Kristoff in the NYT: “The newest Social Progress Index, shared with me before its official release Thursday morning, finds that out of 163 countries assessed worldwide, the United States, Brazil and Hungary are the only ones in which people are worse off than when the index began in 2011. And the declines in Brazil and Hungary were smaller than America’s. …

“The United States, despite its immense wealth, military power and cultural influence, ranks 28th — having slipped from 19th in 2011. The index now puts the United States behind significantly poorer countries, including Estonia, Czech Republic, Cyprus and Greece.”

A measure of social progress finds that the quality of life has dropped in America over the last decade, even as it has risen almost everywhere else.

Poem of the day

America
by Claude McKay (1889-1948)

Although she feeds me bread of bitterness,
And sinks into my throat her tiger’s tooth,
Stealing my breath of life, I will confess
I love this cultured hell that tests my youth!
Her vigor flows like tides into my blood,
Giving me strength erect against her hate.
Her bigness sweeps my being like a flood.
Yet as a rebel fronts a king in state,
I stand within her walls with not a shred
Of terror, malice, not a word of jeer.
Darkly I gaze into the days ahead,
And see her might and granite wonders there,
Beneath the touch of Time’s unerring hand,
Like priceless treasures sinking in the sand.

Poem of the day

मातृ-भाषा के प्रति
by Bharatendu Harishchandra (1850-1885)
because today is Hindi Day

निज भाषा उन्नति अहै, सब उन्नति को मूल।
बिन निज भाषा-ज्ञान के, मिटत न हिय को सूल।।

अंग्रेज़ी पढ़ि के जदपि, सब गुन होत प्रवीन।
पै निज भाषाज्ञान बिन, रहत हीन के हीन।।

उन्नति पूरी है तबहिं जब घर उन्नति होय।
निज शरीर उन्नति किये, रहत मूढ़ सब कोय।।

निज भाषा उन्नति बिना, कबहुँ न ह्यैहैं सोय।
लाख उपाय अनेक यों भले करो किन कोय।।

इक भाषा इक जीव इक मति सब घर के लोग।
तबै बनत है सबन सों, मिटत मूढ़ता सोग।।

और एक अति लाभ यह, या में प्रगट लखात।
निज भाषा में कीजिए, जो विद्या की बात।।

तेहि सुनि पावै लाभ सब, बात सुनै जो कोय।
यह गुन भाषा और महं, कबहूँ नाहीं होय।।

विविध कला शिक्षा अमित, ज्ञान अनेक प्रकार।
सब देसन से लै करहू, भाषा माहि प्रचार।।

भारत में सब भिन्न अति, ताहीं सों उत्पात।
विविध देस मतहू विविध, भाषा विविध लखात।।

सब मिल तासों छाँड़ि कै, दूजे और उपाय।
उन्नति भाषा की करहु, अहो भ्रातगन आय।।

Game of the week

Poem of the day

What the Birds Said
by John Greenleaf Whittier (1807-1892)

The birds against the April wind
      Flew northward, singing as they flew;
They sang, “The land we leave behind
      Has swords for corn-blades, blood for dew.”

“O wild-birds, flying from the South,
      What saw and heard ye, gazing down?”
“We saw the mortar’s upturned mouth,
      The sickened camp, the blazing town!

“Beneath the bivouac’s starry lamps,
      We saw your march-worn children die;
In shrouds of moss, in cypress swamps,
      We saw your dead uncoffined lie.

“We heard the starving prisoner’s sighs
      And saw, from line and trench, your sons
Follow our flight with home-sick eyes
      Beyond the battery’s smoking guns.”

“And heard and saw ye only wrong
      And pain,” I cried, “O wing-worn flocks?”
“We heard,” they sang, “the freedman’s song,
      The crash of Slavery’s broken locks!

“We saw from new, uprising States
      The treason-nursing mischief spurned,
As, crowding Freedom’s ample gates,
      The long-estranged and lost returned.

“O’er dusky faces, seamed and old,
      And hands horn-hard with unpaid toil,
With hope in every rustling fold,
      We saw your star-dropt flag uncoil.

“And struggling up through sounds accursed,
      A grateful murmur clomb the air;
A whisper scarcely heard at first,
      It filled the listening heavens with prayer.

“And sweet and far, as from a star,
      Replied a voice which shall not cease,
Till, drowning all the noise of war,
      It sings the blessed song of peace!”

So to me, in a doubtful day
      Of chill and slowly greening spring,
Low stooping from the cloudy gray,
      The wild-birds sang or seemed to sing.

They vanished in the misty air,
      The song went with them in their flight;
But lo! they left the sunset fair,
      And in the evening there was light.