Poem of the day

Scots Wha Hae
by Robert Burns (1759-1796)

Scots, wha hae wi’ Wallace bled,
Scots, wham Bruce has aften led,
Welcome to your gory bed,
      Or to victorie.

Now’s the day, and now’s the hour;
See the front of battle lour;
See approach proud Edward’s power –
      Chains and slaverie!

Wha will be a traitor knave?
Wha can fill a coward’s grave?
Wha’s sae base as be a slave?
      Let him turn and flee!

Wha for Scotland’s King and Law,
Freedom’s sword will strongly draw,
Freeman stand, or freeman fa’?
      Let him follow me!

By oppression’s woes and pains!
By your sons in servile chains!
We will drain our dearest veins,
      But they shall be free!

Lay the proud usurpers low!
Tyrants fall in every foe!
Liberty’s in every blow!
      Let us do, or die!

Poem of the day

Cenabis Bene
by Gaius Valerius Catulls (ca. 80-ca 54 BCE)

Cenabis bene, mi Fabulle, apud me
Paucis, si tibi di fauent, diebus,
Si tecum attuleris bonam atque magnam
Cenam, non sine candida puella
Et uino et sale et omnibus cachinnis.
Haec si, inquam, attuleris, uenuste noster,
Cenabis bene; nam tui Catulli
Plenus sacculus est aranearum.
Sed contra accipies meros amores
Seu quid suauius elegantiusue est:
Nam unguentum dabo, quod meae puellae
Donarunt Veneres Cupidinesque,
Quod tu cum olfacies, deos rogabis
Totum ut te faciant, Fabulle, nasum.

Poem of the day

The Listeners
by Walter de la Mare (1873-1956)

“Is there anybody there?” said the Traveller,
      Knocking on the moonlit door;
And his horse in the silence champed the grasses
      Of the forest’s ferny floor:
And a bird flew up out of the turret,
      Above the Traveller’s head
And he smote upon the door again a second time;
      “Is there anybody there?” he said.
But no one descended to the Traveller;
      No head from the leaf-fringed sill
Leaned over and looked into his grey eyes,
      Where he stood perplexed and still.
But only a host of phantom listeners
      That dwelt in the lone house then
Stood listening in the quiet of the moonlight
      To that voice from the world of men:
Stood thronging the faint moonbeams on the dark stair,
      That goes down to the empty hall,
Hearkening in an air stirred and shaken
      By the lonely Traveller’s call.
And he felt in his heart their strangeness,
      Their stillness answering his cry,
While his horse moved, cropping the dark turf,
      ’Neath the starred and leafy sky;
For he suddenly smote on the door, even
      Louder, and lifted his head:-
“Tell them I came, and no one answered,
      That I kept my word,” he said.
Never the least stir made the listeners,
      Though every word he spake
Fell echoing through the shadowiness of the still house
      From the one man left awake:
Ay, they heard his foot upon the stirrup,
      And the sound of iron on stone,
And how the silence surged softly backward,
      When the plunging hoofs were gone.

Poem of the day

Uphill
by Christina Rossetti (1830-1894)

Does the road wind up-hill all the way?
      Yes, to the very end.
Will the day’s journey take the whole long day?
      From morn to night, my friend.

But is there for the night a resting-place?
      A roof for when the slow dark hours begin.
May not the darkness hide it from my face?
      You cannot miss that inn.

Shall I meet other wayfarers at night?
      Those who have gone before.
Then must I knock, or call when just in sight?
      They will not keep you standing at that door.

Shall I find comfort, travel-sore and weak?
      Of labour you shall find the sum.
Will there be beds for me and all who seek?
      Yea, beds for all who come.

Game of the week

Vladimir Simagin, who would have celebrated his 101st birthday today, was a greatly underappreciated Soviet grandmaster.

The law still matters to some SCOTUS justices

“Trump keeps losing not because of something obscure, but because of something fundamental: his abuse of the executive branch. Much of his administration’s approach to governance rests on attempting executive actions that lack any meaningful justification rooted in expertise, or even rational thought. …

“Trump’s abuse of the executive branch is one of the most damaging aspects of his presidency, because it rejects a reasoned approach to making government policy. Trump has made clear—most notably during the impeachment process—that he disdains the civil servants who bring deep expertise and valuable experience to important policy questions. …

“Trump has made clear time and again that he doesn’t really care what the law says, especially about immigration. That’s why he urged shooting rock-throwing immigrants and retaliating against immigrant-friendly sanctuary cities by sending detained immigrants to such cities, and why he fired his own Homeland Security general counsel, who had pushed back on various questionable Trump initiatives. Trump doesn’t see law as a constraint, but something to be manipulated—and that’s clearly a message his Cabinet seems to have received. Consequently, they play fast and loose with the law. The Court, in this decision and last year’s, is essentially saying that the law still matters.

“Ultimately, that’s precisely what’s at stake as long as Trump is president. If all that matters is a president’s policy preferences, then law—including judicial review—is basically a facade: Dress it up enough, and it’ll pass muster. But if law matters—if building a record and considering facts and providing honest reasons matter—then Trump is sure to keep losing.”

The legal reasoning may look like it turns on obscure technicalities, but the administration?s cases are falling apart because of something much more deeply wrong.

Poem of the day

The New Colossus
by Emma Lazarus (1849-1887)
Because today is World Refugee Day

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.

“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

Poem of the day

The House by the Side of the Road
by Sam Walter Foss (1858-1911)

There are hermit souls that live withdrawn
In the place of their self-content;
There are souls like stars, that dwell apart,
In a fellowless firmament;
There are pioneer souls that blaze the paths
Where highways never ran—
But let me live by the side of the road
And be a friend to man.

Let me live in a house by the side of the road
Where the race of men go by-
The men who are good and the men who are bad,
As good and as bad as I.
I would not sit in the scorner’s seat
Nor hurl the cynic’s ban—
Let me live in a house by the side of the road
And be a friend to man.

I see from my house by the side of the road
By the side of the highway of life,
The men who press with the ardor of hope,
The men who are faint with the strife,
But I turn not away from their smiles and tears,
Both parts of an infinite plan-
Let me live in a house by the side of the road
And be a friend to man.

I know there are brook-gladdened meadows ahead,
And mountains of wearisome height;
That the road passes on through the long afternoon
And stretches away to the night.
And still I rejoice when the travelers rejoice
And weep with the strangers that moan,
Nor live in my house by the side of the road
Like a man who dwells alone.

Let me live in my house by the side of the road,
Where the race of men go by-
They are good, they are bad, they are weak, they are strong,
Wise, foolish,—so am I.
Then why should I sit in the scorner’s seat,
Or hurl the cynic’s ban?
Let me live in my house by the side of the road
And be a friend to man.

And the moon wasn’t even full

Nicholas Kristof in the NYT: “Folks, this is insane. It’s a measure of how deluded public discourse has become, how untethered from reality, that a mob of gunmen can terrify campers apparently because of the color of their skin — and think themselves heroes who are defending their communities. …

“These antifa panics are where racism and hysteria intersect, in a nation that has more guns than people. They arise when a lying president takes every opportunity not to heal our national divisions but to stoke them, when people live in a news ecosystem that provides no reality check but inflames prejudices and feeds fears.”