Poem of the day

The Skye Boat Song
by Harold Boulton (1859-1935)
This has been recorded by almost everyone. Here is one of my favorite renditions, by Paul Robeson

Chorus:
Speed bonnie boat like a bird on the wing,
Onward, the sailors cry.
Carry the lad that’s born to be king
Over the sea to Skye.

Loud the winds howl, loud the waves roar,
Thunderclaps rend the air,
Baffled, our foes stand by the shore,
Follow they will not dare.

Chorus

Many’s the lad fought on that day,
Well the claymore could wield,
When the night came, silently lay
Dead in Culloden’s field.

Chorus

Though the waves leap, soft shall ye sleep,
Ocean’s a royal bed.
Rock’d in the deep Flora will keep
Watch o’er your weary head.

Chorus

Burned are our homes, exile and death,
Scattered the loyal men.
Yet ere the sword cool in the sheath,
Charlie will come again.

Chorus

Poem of the day

Danny Deever
by Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936)

“What are the bugles blowin’ for?” said Files-on-Parade.
“To turn you out, to turn you out,” the Colour-Sergeant said.
“What makes you look so white, so white?” said Files-on-Parade.
“I’m dreadin’ what I’ve got to watch,” the Colour-Sergeant said.
⁠            For they’re hangin’ Danny Deever, you can hear the Dead March play,
⁠            The regiment’s in ’ollow square—they’re hangin’ him to-day;
⁠            They’ve taken of his buttons off an’ cut his stripes away,
⁠            An’ they’re hangin’ Danny Deever in the mornin’.

“What makes the rear-rank breathe so ’ard?” said Files-on-Parade.
“It’s bitter cold, it’s bitter cold,” the Colour-Sergeant said.
“What makes that front-rank man fall down?” says Files-on-Parade.
“A touch o’ sun, a touch o’ sun,” the Colour-Sergeant said.
⁠            They are hangin’ Danny Deever, they are marchin’ of ’im round,
⁠            They ’ave ’alted Danny Deever by ’is coffin on the ground;
⁠            An’ ’e’ll swing in ’arf a minute for a sneakin’ shootin’ hound—
⁠            O they’re hangin’ Danny Deever in the mornin’!

“’Is cot was right-’and cot to mine,” said Files-on-Parade.
“’E’s sleepin’ out an’ far to-night,” the Colour-Sergeant said.
“I’ve drunk ’is beer a score o’ times,” said Files-on-Parade.
“’E’s drinkin’ bitter beer alone,” the Colour-Sergeant said.
⁠            They are hangin’ Danny Deever, you must mark ’im to ’is place,
⁠            For ’e shot a comrade sleepin’—you must look ’im in the face;
⁠            Nine ’undred of ’is county an’ the regiment’s disgrace,
⁠            While they’re hangin’ Danny Deever in the mornin’.

“What’s that so black agin the sun?” said Files-on-Parade.
“It’s Danny fightin’ ’ard for life,” the Colour-Sergeant said.
“What’s that that whimpers over’ead?” said Files-on-Parade.
“It’s Danny’s soul that’s passin’ now,” the Colour-Sergeant said.
⁠            For they’re done with Danny Deever, you can ’ear the quickstep play,
⁠            The regiment’s in column, an’ they’re marchin’ us away;
⁠            Ho! the young recruits are shakin’, an’ they’ll want their beer to-day,
⁠            After hangin’ Danny Deever in the mornin’.

Poem of the day

Vanity of Vanities
by Christina Rossetti (1830-1894)

Ah woe is me for pleasure that is vain,
            Ah woe is me for glory that is past:
            Pleasure that bringeth sorrow at the last,
Glory that at the last bringeth no gain!
So saith the sinking heart; and so again
            It shall say till the mighty angel-blast
            Is blown, making the sun and moon aghast,
And showering down the stars like sudden rain.
And evermore men shall go fearfully
            Bending beneath their weight of heaviness;
And ancient men shall lie down wearily,
And strong men shall rise up in weariness;
Yea, even the young shall answer sighingly,
Saying one to another: How vain it is!

Poem of the day

Le Souvenir
by Maurice Scève (c. 1510-c. 1562)

Le souvenir, ame de ma pensée,
Me ravit tant en son illusif songe,
Que, n’en estant la memoyre offensée,
Je me nourris de si doulce mensonge.
Or quand l’ardeur, qui pour elle me ronge,
Contre l’esprit sommeillant se hazarde,
Soubdainement qu’il s’en peult donner garde,
Ou qu’il se sent de ses flammes grevé,
En mon penser soubdain il te regarde,
Comme au desert son Serpent eslevé.

Game of the week

Poem of the day

Ballade des äußeren Lebens
by Hugo von Hofmannsthal (1874-1929)

Und Kinder wachsen auf mit tiefen Augen,
Die von nichts wissen, wachsen auf und sterben,
Und alle Menschen gehen ihre Wege.

Und süße Früchte werden aus den herben
Und fallen nachts wie tote Vögel nieder
Und liegen wenig Tage und verderben.

Und immer weht der Wind, und immer wieder
Vernehmen wir und reden viele Worte
Und spüren Lust und Müdigkeit der Glieder.

Und Straßen laufen durch das Gras, und Orte
Sind da und dort, voll Fackeln, Bäumen, Teichen,
Und drohende, und totenhaft verdorrte …

Wozu sind diese aufgebaut? und gleichen
Einander nie? und sind unzählig viele?
Was wechselt Lachen, Weinen und Erbleichen?

Was frommt das alles uns und diese Spiele,
Die wir doch groß und ewig einsam sind
Und wandernd nimmer suchen irgend Ziele?

Was frommts, dergleichen viel gesehen haben?
Und dennoch sagt der viel, der „Abend“ sagt,
Ein Wort, daraus Tiefsinn und Trauer rinnt

Wie schwerer Honig aus den hohlen Waben.

Poem of the day

Ode on a Distant Prospect of Eton College
by Thomas Gray (1716-1771)

Ye distant spires, ye antique towers
         That crown the watery glade,
Where grateful Science still adores
         Her Henry’s holy shade;
And ye, that from the stately brow
Of Windsor’s heights th’ expanse below
         Of grove, of lawn, of mead survey,
Whose turf, whose shade, whose flowers among
Wanders the hoary Thames along
         His silver-winding way:

Ah, happy hills! ah, pleasing shade!
         Ah, fields belov’d in vain!
Where once my careless childhood stray’d,
         A stranger yet to pain!
I feel the gales that from ye blow
A momentary bliss bestow,
         As waving fresh their gladsome wing,
My weary soul they seem to soothe,
And, redolent of joy and youth,
         To breathe a second spring.

Say, Father Thames, for thou hast seen
         Full many a sprightly race
Disporting on thy margin green
         The paths of pleasure trace—
Who foremost now delight to cleave
With pliant arm, thy glassy wave?
         The captive linnet which enthral?
What idle progeny succeed
To chase the rolling circle’s speed
         Or urge the flying ball?

While some on earnest business bent
         Their murmuring labours ply
’Gainst graver hours that bring constraint
         To sweet liberty:
Some bold adventurers disdain
The limits of their little reign
         And unknown regions dare descry:
Still as they run they look behind,
They hear a voice in every wind,
         And snatch a fearful joy.

Gay hope is theirs by fancy fed,
         Less pleasing when possest;
The tear forgot as soon as shed,
         The sunshine of the breast:
Theirs buxom health, of rosy hue,
Wild wit, invention ever new,
         And lively cheer, of vigour born;
The thoughtless day, the easy night,
The spirits pure, the slumbers light
         That fly th’ approach of morn.

Alas! regardless of their doom,
         The little victims play;
No sense have they of ills to come,
         Nor care beyond to-day:
Yet see how all around ’em wait
The ministers of human fate
And black Misfortune’s baleful train!
Ah, show them where in ambush stand,
To seize their prey, the murderous band!
         Ah, tell them they are men!

These shall the fury Passions tear,
         The vultures of the mind,
Disdainful Anger, pallid Fear,
         And Shame that skulks behind;
Or pining Love shall waste their youth,
Or Jealousy with rankling tooth
         That inly gnaws the secret heart,
And Envy wan, and faded Care,
Grim-visaged comfortless Despair,
         And Sorrow’s piercing dart.

Ambition this shall tempt to rise,
         Then whirl the wretch from high
To bitter Scorn a sacrifice
         And grinning Infamy.
The stings of Falsehood those shall try,
And hard Unkindness’ alter’d eye,
         That mocks the tear it forced to flow;
And keen Remorse with blood defil’d,
And moody Madness laughing wild
         Amid severest woe.

Lo, in the vale of years beneath
         A griesly troop are seen,
The painful family of Death,
         More hideous than their queen:
This racks the joints, this fires the veins,
That every labouring sinew strains,
         Those in the deeper vitals rage;
Lo! Poverty, to fill the band
That numbs the soul with icy hand,
         And slow-consuming Age.

To each his sufferings: all are men,
         Condemn’d alike to groan—
The tender for another’s pain,
         Th’ unfeeling for his own.
Yet, ah! why should they know their fate,
Since sorrow never comes too late,
         And happiness too swiftly flies?
Thought would destroy their Paradise.
No more;—where ignorance is bliss,
         ’Tis folly to be wise.