My apologies for not posting last Sunday.
by Barthold Brockes (1680-1747)
Da ich die grüne Pracht der Bäume zärtlich liebe
Und folglich mich anjetzt im Herbst bei ihrem Fall,
Bei der Entblätterung der Wipfel überall
Und der Vernichtigung des Laubes recht betrübe,
So deucht mir doch, ob hör ich sie im Fallen
Zu meinem Troste dies mit sanftem Lispeln lallen:
“Du siehest uns von dem geliebten Baum
Nicht, um denselben zu entkleiden,
Noch um ihn nackt und bloß zu lassen, scheiden;
Ach nein, wir machen frisch und schönern Blättern Raum.”
Hymn to Intellectual Beauty
by Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822)
The awful shadow of some unseen Power
Floats though unseen among us,—visiting
This various world with as inconstant wing
As summer winds that creep from flower to flower,—
Like moonbeams that behind some piny mountain shower,
It visits with inconstant glance
Each human heart and countenance;
Like hues and harmonies of evening,—
Like clouds in starlight widely spread,—
Like memory of music fled,—
Like aught that for its grace may be
Dear, and yet dearer for its mystery.
Spirit of BEAUTY, that dost consecrate
With thine own hues all thou dost shine upon
Of human thought or form,—where art thou gone?
Why dost thou pass away and leave our state,
This dim vast vale of tears, vacant and desolate?
Ask why the sunlight not for ever
Weaves rainbows o’er yon mountain-river,
Why aught should fail and fade that once is shown,
Why fear and dream and death and birth
Cast on the daylight of this earth
Such gloom,—why man has such a scope
For love and hate, despondency and hope?
No voice from some sublimer world hath ever
To sage or poet these responses given—
Therefore the names of Demon, Ghost, and Heaven,
Remain the records of their vain endeavour,
Frail spells—whose uttered charm might not avail to sever,
From all we hear and all we see,
Doubt, chance, and mutability.
Thy light alone—like mist o’er mountains driven,
Or music by the night-wind sent
Through strings of some still instrument,
Or moonlight on a midnight stream,
Gives grace and truth to life’s unquiet dream.
Love, Hope, and Self-esteem, like clouds depart
And come, for some uncertain moments lent.
Man were immortal, and omnipotent,
Didst thou, unknown and awful as thou art,
Keep with thy glorious train firm state within his heart.
Thou messenger of sympathies,
That wax and wane in lovers’ eyes—
Thou—that to human thought art nourishment,
Like darkness to a dying flame!
Depart not as thy shadow came,
Depart not—lest the grave should be,
Like life and fear, a dark reality.
While yet a boy I sought for ghosts, and sped
Through many a listening chamber, cave and ruin,
And starlight wood, with fearful steps pursuing
Hopes of high talk with the departed dead.
I called on poisonous names with which our youth is fed;
I was not heard—I saw them not—
When musing deeply on the lot
Of life, at that sweet time when winds are wooing
All vital things that wake to bring
News of birds and blossoming,—
Sudden, thy shadow fell on me;
I shrieked, and clasped my hands in ecstasy!
I vowed that I would dedicate my powers
To thee and thine—have I not kept the vow?
With beating heart and streaming eyes, even now
I call the phantoms of a thousand hours
Each from his voiceless grave: they have in visioned bowers
Of studious zeal or love’s delight
Outwatched with me the envious night—
They know that never joy illumed my brow
Unlinked with hope that thou wouldst free
This world from its dark slavery,
That thou—O awful LOVELINESS,
Wouldst give whate’er these words cannot express.
The day becomes more solemn and serene
When noon is past—there is a harmony
In autumn, and a lustre in its sky,
Which through the summer is not heard or seen,
As if it could not be, as if it had not been!
Thus let thy power, which like the truth
Of nature on my passive youth
Descended, to my onward life supply
Its calm—to one who worships thee,
And every form containing thee,
Whom, SPIRIT fair, thy spells did bind
To fear himself, and love all human kind.
by Charles Williams (1886-1945)
Wilt thou regret I never wooed
As hastier lovers will,
Who, too incredulous of mood,
Attended for thee still?
Deeply my half-reluctant sense
Doubted its own delight,
Till, closing all that high suspense,
I dared believe in sight!
But if I long considered, Fair,
How love at all could be,
Much more will I reject despair
And keep this faith in thee.
I will of doubt make such an art
That no dismay shall move
Sufficient bitterness of heart
For unbelief in love;
And still of death incredulous
Till death, outworn, shall die,
My curious mind shall enter thus
To a Friend
by Hartley Coleridge (1796-1849)
When we were idlers with the loitering rills,
The need of human love we little noted:
Our love was nature; and the peace that floated
On the white mist, and dwelt upon the hills,
To sweet accord subdued our wayward wills:
One soul was ours, one mind, one heart devoted,
That, wisely doting, ask’d not why it doted,
And ours the unknown joy, which knowing kills.
But now I find how dear thou wert to me;
That man is more than half of nature’s treasure,
Of that fair beauty which no eye can see,
Of that sweet music which no ear can measure;
And now the streams may sing for others’ pleasure,
The hills sleep on in their eternity.
“For a time, the [Oslo] agreement was expected to bring about a negotiated peace between the two sides and freedom for the Palestinians. Instead, over the years it has enabled Israel to keep exploiting Palestinians economically, control much of their resources and exercise total dominion over their borders.
“Mr. Netanyahu was an avowed opponent of the Oslo Accords when he was in the political opposition, before 1996, the year he first became prime minister. By now, after his various stints as Israel’s leader, he can claim credit among his supporters for having shrewdly managed the occupation of the West Bank until the time he could fully annex the territory. He furthered this goal with his unfettered encouragement of more and more Jewish settlements being built in the West Bank. …
“Mr. Netanyahu is shameless. Mr. Gantz is blind. Palestinians see no prospect in this election. How could they?”
“The White House this year has turned the Department of Homeland Security — which oversees securing the country’s borders, disaster relief efforts and addressing domestic terrorism and cybersecurity threats — into a revolving door of officials, creating a void of permanent leadership.”
by Samuel Johnson (1709-1784)
Though grief and fondness in my breast rebel,
When injured Thales bids the town farewell,
Yet still my calmer thoughts his choice commend,
I praise the hermit, but regret the friend,
Resolved at length, from vice and London far,
To breathe in distant fields a purer air,
And, fixed on Cambria’s solitary shore,
Give to St. David one true Briton more.
For who would leave, unbribed, Hibernia’s Land,
Or change the rocks of Scotland for the Strand?
There none are swept by sudden fate away,
But all whom hunger spares, with age decay:
Here malice, rapine, accident, conspire,
And now a rabble rages, now a fire;
Their ambush here relentless ruffians lay,
And here the fell attorney prowls for prey;
Here falling houses thunder on your head,
And here a female atheist talks you dead.
While Thales waits the wherry that contains
Of dissipated wealth the small remains,
On Thames’s banks, in silent thought we stood,
Where Greenwich smiles upon the silver flood:
Struck with the seat that gave Eliza birth,
We kneel, and kiss the consecrated earth;
In pleasing dreams the blissful age renew,
And call Britannia’s glories back to view;
Behold her cross triumphant on the main,
The guard of commerce, and the dread of Spain,
Ere masquerades debauched,excise oppressed,
Or English honour grew a standing jest.
A transient calm the happy scenes bestow,
And for a moment lull the sense of woe.
At length awaking, with contemptuous frown,
Indignant Thales eyes the neighbouring town.
Since worth, he cries, in these degenerate days,
Wants ev’n the cheap reward of empty praise;
In those curs’d walls, devote to vice and gain,
Since unrewarded Science toils in vain;
Since hope but soothes to double my distress,
And every moment leaves my little less;
While yet my steady steps no staff sustains,
And life still vigorous revels in my veins;
Grant me, kind heaven, to find some happier place,
Where honesty and sense are no disgrace;
Some pleasing bank where verdant osiers play,
Some peaceful vale with nature’s paintings gay;
Where once the harassed Briton found repose,
And safe in poverty defied his foes;
Some secret cell, ye powers, indulgent give.
Let — live here, for — has learned to live.
Here let those reign, whom pensions can incite
To vote a patriot black, a courtier white;
Explain their country’s dear-bought rights away,
And plead for pirates in the face of day;
With slavish tenets taint our poisoned youth,
And lend a lie the confidence of truth.
Let such raise palaces, and manors buy,
Collect a tax, or farm a lottery,
With warbling eunuchs fill a licensed stage,
And lull to servitude a thoughtless age.
Heroes, proceed! what bounds your pride shall hold?
What check restrain your thirst of power and gold?
Behold rebellious virtue quite o’erthrown,
Behold our fame, our wealth, our lives your own.
To such, a groaning nation’s spoils are giv’n,
When public crimes inflame the wrath of heav’n:
But what, my friend, what hope remains for me,
Who start at theft, and blush at perjury?
Who scarce forbear, though Britain’s Court he sing,
To pluck a titled poet’s borrowed wing;
A statesman’s logic unconvinced can hear,
And dare to slumber o’er the Gazetteer;
Despise a fool in half his pension dressed,
And strive in vain to laugh at H—y’s jest.
Others with softer smiles, and subtler art,
Can sap the principles, or taint the heart;
With more address a lover’s note convey,
Or bribe a virgin’s innocence away.
Well may they rise, while I, whose rustic tongue
Ne’er knew to puzzle right, or varnish wrong,
Spurned as a beggar, dreaded as a spy,
Live unregarded, unlamented die.
Plus, FIDE’s dress code. And, oh yes, some chess.
(It’s good to see Ian Rogers back in action reporting from the far corners of the earth after recent health woes.)
The Tears of Scotland
by Tobias Smollett (1721-1771)
Mourn, hapless Caledonia, mourn
Thy banish’d peace, thy laurels torn!
Thy sons, for valour long renown’d,
Lie slaughter’d on their native ground;
Thy hospitable roofs no more
Invite the stranger to the door:—
In smoky ruins sunk they lie,
The monuments of cruelty.
The wretched owner sees afar
His all become the prey of war,—
Bethinks him of his babes and wife,
Then smites his breast and curses life.
Thy swains are famish’d on the rocks
Where once they fed their wanton flocks:
Thy ravish’d virgins shriek in vain;
Thy infants perish on the plain.
What boots it then, in every clime,
Through the wide-spreading waste of time,
Thy martial glory, crown’d with praise,
Still shone with undiminish’d blaze?
Thy towering spirit now is broke,
Thy neck is bended to the yoke:—
What foreign arms could never quell
By civil rage and rancour fell.
The rural pipe and merry lay
No more shall cheer the happy day;
No social scenes of gay delight
Beguile the dreary winter night;
No strains but those of sorrow flow,
And nought be heard but sounds of woe,—
While the pale phantoms of the slain
Glide nightly o’er the silent plain.
O baneful cause, O fatal morn,
Accursed to ages yet unborn!
The sons against their father stood,
The parent shed his children’s blood.
Yet, when the rage of battle ceased,
The victor’s soul was not appeased;—
The naked and forlorn must feel
Devouring flames and murdering steel!
The pious mother, doom’d to death,
Forsaken wanders o’er the heath:
The bleak wind whistles round her head,
Her helpless orphans cry for bread:
Bereft of shelter, food, and friend,
She views the shades of night descend;
And, stretch’d beneath the inclement skies,
Weeps o’er her tender babes, and dies.
While the warm blood bedews my veins,
And unimpair’d remembrance reigns,
Resentment of my country’s fate
Within my filial breast shall beat;
And, spite of her insulting foe,
My sympathising verse shall flow.
Mourn, hapless Caledonia, mourn
Thy banish’d peace, thy laurels torn!