Poem of the day

Not Understood
by Thomas Bracken (1843-1898)

Not understood, we move along asunder;
   Our paths grow wider as the seasons creep
Along the years; we marvel and we wonder
   Why life is life, and then we fall asleep
      Not understood.

Not understood, we gather false impressions
   And hug them closer as the years go by;
Till virtues often seem to us transgressions;
   And thus men rise and fall, and live and die
      Not understood.

Not understood! Poor souls with stunted vision
   Oft measure giants with their narrow gauge;
The poisoned shafts of falsehood and derision
   Are oft impelled ’gainst those who mould the age,
      Not understood.

Not understood! The secret springs of action
   Which lie beneath the surface and the show,
Are disregarded; with self-satisfaction
   We judge our neighbours, and they often go
      Not understood.

Not understood! How trifles often change us!
   The thoughtless sentence and the fancied slight
Destroy long years of friendship, and estrange us,
   And on our souls there falls a freezing blight;
      Not understood.

Not understood! How many breasts are aching
   For lack of sympathy! Ah! day by day
How many cheerless, lonely hearts are breaking!
   How many noble spirits pass away,
      Not understood.

O God! that men would see a little clearer,
   Or judge less harshly where they cannot see!
O God! that men would draw a little nearer
   To one another, – they’d be nearer Thee,
      And understood.

Game of the week

Grandmaster Yusupov celebrated his 60th birthday on Thursday. I was once mistaken for him at a bar in Qjuebec City. It was during his 1989 Candidates Match agains Kevin Spraggett. Someone walked up to me and said, “Hey, aren’t you that Russian grandmaster.”

Poem of the day

Time and Grief
by William Lisle Bowles (1762-1850)

O Time! who know’st a lenient hand to lay
Softest on sorrow’s wound, and slowly thence
(Lulling to sad repose the weary sense)
The faint pang stealest unperceived away;
On thee I rest my only hope at last,
And think, when thou hast dried the bitter tear
That flows in vain o’er all my soul held dear,
I may look back on every sorrow past,
And meet life’s peaceful evening with a smile:
As some lone bird, at day’s departing hour,
Sings in the sunbeam, of the transient shower
Forgetful, though its wings are wet the while:—
      Yet ah! how much must this poor heart endure,
      Which hopes from thee, and thee alone, a cure!

Poem of the day

Be Near Me
(Section L of In Memoriam A.H.H.)
by Alfred Lord Tennyson (1809-1892)

Be near me when my light is low,
      When the blood creeps, and the nerves prick
      And tingle; and the heart is sick,
And all the wheels of Being slow.

Be near me when the sensuous frame
      Is rack’d with pangs that conquer trust;
      And Time, a maniac scattering dust,
And Life, a Fury slinging flame.

Be near me when my faith is dry,
      And men the flies of latter spring,
      That lay their eggs, and sting and sing
And weave their petty cells and die.

Be near me when I fade away,
      To point the term of human strife,
      And on the low dark verge of life
The twilight of eternal day.

A new, more civilized Reign of Terror

The heads that roll (and will roll) in our Reign of Terror are figurative, not literal. That’s really the basic distinction between our Reigh of Terror and Robespierre’s. Disloyalty to the new order (real or imagined) will not be toleraled.

The suggestion that Lt. Col. Alexander S. Vindman should now face punishment by the Pentagon was one sign of how determined the president is to even the scales after his impeachment.

Poem of the day

On the Massacre of Glencoe
by Sire Walter Scott (1771-1832)

This was set to music by Beethoven. Here is Richard Dyer-Bennet’s rendition

Oh! Tell me, Harper, wherefore flow
Thy wayward notes of wail and woe
Far down the desert of Glencoe,
      Where non may list their melody?
Say, harp’st thou to the mist that fly,
Or to the dun deer glancing by,
Or to the eagle, that from high
      Screams chorus to thy minstrelsy?

No, not to these, for they have rest,
The mist-wreath has the mountain crest,
The stag his lair, the erne her nest,
      Abode of lone security.
But those for whom I pour the lay,
Not wild wood deep, nor mountain grey,
Not this deep dell that shrouds from day
      Could screen from treach’rous cruelty.

The hand that mingled in the meal,
At midnight drew the felon steel,
And gave the host’s kind breast to feel,
      Meed for his hospitality.
The friendly hearth which warm’d that hand,
At midnight arm’d it with a brand
That bade destruction’s flames expand
      Their red and fearful blazonry.

Long have my harp’s best notes been gone,
Few are its strings, and faint their tone,
They can but sound in desert lone
      Their grey-hair’d master’s misery.
Were each grey hair a minstrel string,
Each chord should imprecations fling,
’Till startled Scotland loud should ring,
      “Revenge for blood and treachery!”

Poem of the day

Nature and Life
by George Meredith (1828-1909)

Leave the uproar! At a leap
Thou shalt strike a woodland path,
Enter silence, not of sleep,
Under shadows, not of wrath;
Breath which is the spirit’s bath
In the old Beginnings find,
And endow them with a mind,
Seed for seedling, swathe for swathe.
That gives Nature to us, this
Give we her, and so we kiss.

Fruitful is it so—but hear
How within the shell thou art,
Music sounds; nor other near
Can to such a tremor start.
Of the waves our life is part;
They our running harvests bear—
Back to them for manful air,
Laden with the woodland’s heart!
That gives Battle to us, this
Give we it, and good the kiss.

Poem of the day

À la Liberté
by Marie-Joseph Chénier (1764-1811)

Descends, ô liberté! fille de la nature:
Le peuple a reconquis son pouvoir immortel;
Sur les pompeux débris de l’antique imposture
Ses mains relèvent ton autel.

Venez, vainqueurs des rois: l’Europe vous contemple;
Venez; sur les faux dieux étendez vos succès;
Toi, sainte liberté, viens habiter ce temple;
Sois la déesse des Français.

Ton aspect réjouit le mont le plus sauvage.
Au milieu des rochers enfante les moissons;
Embelli par tes mains, le plus affreux rivage
Rit, environné de glaçons.

Tu doubles les plaisirs, les venus, le génie;
L’homme est toujours vainqueur sous tes saints étendards;
Avant de te connaître, il ignorait la vie:
Il est créé par tes regards.

Au peuple souverain tous les rois font la guerre;
Qu’à tes pieds, ô déesse, ils tombent désormais!
Bientôt sur les cercueils des tyrans de la terre
Les peuples vont jurer la paix.

Poem of the day

Song (“Why so pale and wan, fond lover?”)
by John Suckling (1609-1642)

Why so pale and wan, fond lover?
      Prithee, why so pale?
Will, when looking well can’t move her,
      Looking ill prevail?
      Prithee, why so pale?

Why so dull and mute, young sinner?
      Prithee, why so mute?
Will, when speaking well can’t win her,
      Saying nothing do’t?
      Prithee, why so mute?

Quit, quit, for shame, this will not move:
      This cannot take her.
If of herself she cannot love,
      Nothing can make her:
      The devil take her!

Trump’s strategy for a second term

“[T]he campaign’s broad strategy: Keep his conservative base energized and chip away at his problems in the suburbs and communities of color. …

“Most of the president’s aides concede that his base of supporters is not enough to re-elect him, and that he must attract the voters who were repelled by his behavior and voted against Republicans in the 2018 midterms — particularly upscale whites, suburban women and self-described independent voters who polls repeatedly show think the president is racist, or has a troubling temperament, or both.”

With impeachment behind the president, his re-election campaign wants to address political weaknesses exacerbated by his policies and behavior.