Poem of the day

A Valediction: Of Weeping
by John Doone (1572-1631)

            Let me pour forth
My tears before thy face, whilst I stay here,
For thy face coins them, and thy stamp they bear,
And by this mintage they are something worth.
⁠            For thus they be
⁠            Pregnant of thee;
Fruits of much grief they are, emblems of more;
When a tear falls, that thou fall’st which it bore;
So thou and I are nothing then, when on a divers shore.

            On a round ball
A workman, that hath copies by, can lay
An Europe, Afric, and an Asia,
And quickly make that, which was nothing, all.
⁠            So doth each tear,
⁠            Which thee doth wear,
A globe, yea world, by that impression grow,
Till thy tears mix’d with mine do overflow
This world, by waters sent from thee, my heaven dissolvèd so.

            O! more than moon,
Draw not up seas to drown me in thy sphere;
Weep me not dead, in thine arms, but forbear
To teach the sea, what it may do too soon;
⁠            Let not the wind
⁠            Example find
To do me more harm than it purposeth:
Since thou and I sigh one another’s breath,
Whoe’er sighs most is cruellest, and hastes the other’s death.

Poem of the day

The Surgeon’s Warning
by Robert Southey (1774-1843)

The Doctor whispered to the Nurse
      And the Surgeon knew what he said,
And he grew pale at the Doctor’s tale
      And trembled in his sick bed.

Now fetch me my brethren and fetch them with speed
      The Surgeon affrighted said,
The Parson and the Undertaker,
      Let them hasten or I shall be dead.

The Parson and the Undertaker
      They hastily came complying,
And the Surgeon’s Prentices ran up stairs
      When they heard that their master was dying.

The Prentices all they entered the room
      By one, by two, by three,
With a sly grin came Joseph in,
      First of the company.

The Surgeon swore as they enter’d his door,
      ’Twas fearful his oaths to hear,—
Now send these scoundrels to the Devil,
      For God’s sake my brethren dear.

He foam’d at the mouth with the rage he felt
      And he wrinkled his black eye-brow,
That rascal Joe would be at me I know,
      But zounds let him spare me now.

Then out they sent the Prentices,
      The fit it left him weak,
He look’d at his brothers with ghastly eyes,
      And faintly struggled to speak.

All kinds of carcasses I have cut up,
      And the judgment now must be—
But brothers I took care of you,
      So pray take care of me!

I have made candles of infants fat
      The Sextons have been my slaves,
I have bottled babes unborn, and dried
      Hearts and livers from rifled graves.

And my Prentices now will surely come
      And carve me bone from bone,
And I who have rifled the dead man’s grave
      Shall never have rest in my own.

Bury me in lead when I am dead,
      My brethren I intreat,
And see the coffin weigh’d I beg
      Lest the Plumber should be a cheat.

And let it be solder’d closely down
      Strong as strong can be I implore,
And put it in a patent coffin,
      That I may rise no more.

If they carry me off in the patent coffin
      Their labour will be in vain,
Let the Undertaker see it bought of the maker
      Who lives by St. Martin’s lane.

And bury me in my brother’s church
      For that will safer be,
And I implore lock the church door
      And pray take care of the key.

And all night long let three stout men
      The vestry watch within,
To each man give a gallon of beer
      And a keg of Holland’s gin;

Powder and ball and blunder-buss
      To save me if he can,
And eke five guineas if he shoot
      A resurrection man.

And let them watch me for three weeks
      My wretched corpse to save,
For then I think that I may stink
      Enough to rest in my grave.


he Surgeon laid him down in his bed,
      His eyes grew deadly dim,
Short came his breath and the struggle of death
      Distorted every limb.

They put him in lead when he was dead
      And shrouded up so neat,
And they the leaden coffin weigh
      Lest the Plumber should be a cheat.

They had it solder’d closely down
      And examined it o’er and o’er,
And they put it in a patent coffin
      That he might rise no more.

For to carry him off in a patent coffin
      Would they thought be but labour in vain,
So the Undertaker saw it bought of the maker
      Who lives by St. Martin’s lane.

In his brother’s church they buried him
      That safer he might be,
They lock’d the door and would not trust
      The Sexton with the key.

And three men in the vestry watch
      To save him if they can,
And should he come there to shoot they swear
      A resurrection man.

And the first night by lanthorn light
      Thro’ the church-yard as they went,
A guinea of gold the sexton shewed
      That Mister Joseph sent.

But conscience was tough, it was not enough
      And their honesty never swerved,
And they bade him go with Mister Joe
      To the Devil as he deserved.

So all night long by the vestry fire
      They quaff’d their gin and ale,
And they did drink as you may think
      And told full many a tale.

The second night by lanthorn light
      Thro’ the church-yard as they went,
He whisper’d anew and shew’d them two
      That Mister Joseph sent.

The guineas were bright and attracted their sight
      They look’d so heavy and new,
And their fingers itch’d as they were bewitch’d
      And they knew not what to do.

But they waver’d not long for conscience was strong
      And they thought they might get more,
And they refused the gold, but not
      So rudely as before.

So all night long by the vestry fire
      They quaff’d their gin and ale,
And they did drink as you may think
      And told full many a tale.

The third night as by lanthorn light
      Thro’ the church-yard they went,
He bade them see and shew’d them three
      That Mister Joseph sent.

They look’d askance with eager glance,
      The guineas they shone bright,
For the Sexton on the yellow gold
      Let fall his lanthorn light.

And he look’d sly with his roguish eye
      And gave a well-tim’d wink,
And they could not stand the sound in his hand
      For he made the guineas chink.

And conscience late that had such weight,
      All in a moment fails,
For well they knew that it was true
      A dead man told no tales,

And they gave all their powder and ball
      And took the gold so bright,
And they drank their beer and made good cheer,
      Till now it was midnight.

Then, tho’ the key of the church door
      Was left with the Parson his brother,
It opened at the Sexton’s touch—
      Because he had another.

And in they go with that villain Joe
      To fetch the body by night,
And all the church look’d dismally
      By his dark lanthorn light.

They laid the pick-axe to the stones
      And they moved them soon asunder.
They shovell’d away the hard-prest clay
      And came to the coffin under.

They burst the patent coffin first
      And they cut thro’ the lead,
And they laugh’d aloud when they saw the shroud
      Because they had got at the dead.

And they allowed the Sexton the shroud
      And they put the coffin back,
And nose and knees they then did squeeze
      The Surgeon in a sack.

The watchmen as they past along
      Full four yards off could smell,
And a curse bestowed upon the load
      So disagreeable.

So they carried the sack a-pick-a-back
      And they carv’d him bone from bone,
But what became of the Surgeon’s soul
      Was never to mortal known.

Game of the week

Grandmaster Plaskett celebrated his 61st birthday on Thursday.

This is going to take time

It took the Trump administration several years to fuck up our immigration system and it’s likely to take the Biden administration a few years to unfuck it. Meanwhile, the Republican mantra that we need to deal with border security before taking up other immigration matters is dejà vu all over again. When Obama came into office, he wanted to do comprehensive immigration reform but the Republicans in Congress said “secure the border first and then we can talk about comprehensive immigration reform.” Obama was naïve enough to take them at their word and he cracked down hard on the border, earning the title of ‘Deporter-in-Chief,” only to discover their insincerity. At that point, he changed course and did things like DACA. The Republicans are repeating the same line with the same insincerity. One hopes that Biden has learned from this experience.

I doubt very much that any kind of comprehensive immigration reform can be passed as long as the filibuster is intact. At some point, if I have the time, I will post on what I think such reform should look like.

WASHINGTON (AP) ? Democrats who long blistered the Trump administration's hard-line immigration policies are suddenly in a tough political bind...

Poem of the day

Les Oiseaux de neige
by Louis Honoré Frechette (1839-1908)

Quand le rude Équinoxe, avec son froid cortège,
Quitte nos horizons moins inhospitaliers,
Sur nos champs de frimas s’abattent par milliers
Ces visiteurs ailés qu’on nomme oiseaux de neige.

De graines nulle part, nul feuillage aux halliers.
Contre la giboulée et nos vents de Norvège,
Seul le regard d’en haut les abrite, et protège
Ces courriers du soleil en butte aux oiseliers.

Chers petits voyageurs, sous le givre et la grêle,
Vous voltigez gaîment, et l’on voit sur votre aile
Luire un premier rayon du printemps attardé.

Allez, tourbillonnez autour des avalanches ;
Sans peur, aux flocons blancs mêlez vos plumes blanches :
Le faible que Dieu garde est toujours bien gardé.

Poem of the day

The Kasîdah of Hâjî Abdû El-Yezdî
by Richard Francis Burton (1821-1890)


The hour is nigh; the waning Queen
      walks forth to rule the later night;
Crown’d with the sparkle of a Star,
      and throned on orb of ashen light:

The Wolf-tail sweeps the paling East
      to leave a deeper gloom behind,
And Dawn uprears her shining head,
      sighing with semblance of a wind:

The highlands catch yon Orient gleam,
      while purpling still the lowlands lie;
And pearly mists, the morning-pride,
      soar incense-like to greet the sky.

The horses neigh, the camels groan,
      the torches gleam, the cressets flare;
The town of canvas falls, and man
      with din and dint invadeth air:

The Golden Gates swing right and left;
      up springs the Sun with flamy brow;
The dew-cloud melts in gush of light;
      brown Earth is bathed in morning-glow.

Slowly they wind athwart the wild,
      and while young Day his anthem swells,
Sad falls upon my yearning ear
      the tinkling of the Camel-bells:

O’er fiery wastes and frozen wold,
      o’er horrid hill and gloomy glen,
The home of grisly beast and Ghoul,
      the haunts of wilder, grislier men;—

With the brief gladness of the Palms,
      that tower and sway o’er seething plain,
Fraught with the thoughts of rustling shade,
      and welling spring, and rushing rain;

With the short solace of the ridge,
      by gentle zephyrs played upon,
Whose breezy head and bosky side
      front seas of cooly celadon;—

’Tis theirs to pass with joy and hope,
      whose souls shall ever thrill and fill
Dreams of the Birthplace and the Tomb,
      visions of Allah’s Holy Hill.

But we? Another shift of scene,
      another pang to rack the heart;
Why meet we on the bridge of Time
      to ’change one greeting and to part?

We meet to part; yet asks my sprite,
      Part we to meet? Ah! is it so?
Man’s fancy-made Omniscience knows,
      who made Omniscience nought can know.

Why must we meet, why must we part,
      why must we bear this yoke of MUST,
Without our leave or askt or given,
      by tyrant Fate on victim thrust?

That Eve so gay, so bright, so glad,
      this Morn so dim, and sad, and grey;
Strange that life’s Registrar should write
      this day a day, that day a day!

Mine eyes, my brain, my heart, are sad,—
      sad is the very core of me;
All wearies, changes, passes, ends;
      alas! the Birthday’s injury!

Friends of my youth, a last adieu!
      haply some day we meet again;
Yet ne’er the self-same men shall meet;
      the years shall make us other men:

The light of morn has grown to noon,
      has paled with eve, and now farewell!
Go, vanish from my Life as dies
      the tinkling of the Camel’s bell.

Continue reading

Poem of the day

La Brise Marine
by Stéphane Mallarmé (1842-1898)

La chair est triste, hélas! et j’ai lu tous les livres.
Fuir! là-bas fuir! Je sens que des oiseaux sont ivres
D’être parmi l’écume inconnue et les cieux!
Rien, ni les vieux jardins reflétés par les yeux
Ne retiendra ce cœur qui dans la mer se trempe
Ô nuits! ni la clarté déserte de ma lampe
Sur le vide papier que la blancheur défend
Et ni la jeune femme allaitant son enfant.
Je partirai! Steamer balançant ta mâture,
Lève l’ancre pour une exotique nature!

Un Ennui, désolé par les cruels espoirs,
Croit encore à l’adieu suprême des mouchoirs!
Et, peut-être, les mâts, invitant les orages
Sont-ils de ceux qu’un vent penche sur les naufrages
Perdus, sans mâts, sans mâts, ni fertiles îlots…
Mais, ô mon cœur, entends le chant des matelots!

Poem of the day

A Question
by John Synge (1871-1909)

I asked if i got sick and died, would you
With my black funeral go, walking too,
If you’d stand close to hear them talk or pray
While I’m let down in that steep bank of clay.

And, No, you said, for if you saw a crew
Of living idiots pressing round that new
Oak coffin — they alive, I dead beneath
That board — you’d rave and rend them with your teeth.

Poem of the day

Le Vase brisé
by Sully Prudhomme (1839-1907)

Le vase où meurt cette verveine
D’un coup d’éventail fut fêlé;
Le coup dut l’effleurer à peine:
Aucun bruit ne l’a révélé.

Mais la légère meurtrissure,
Mordant le cristal chaque jour,
D’une marche invisible et sûre,
En a fait lentement le tour.

Son eau fraîche a fui goutte à goutte,
Le suc des fleurs s’est épuisé;
Personne encore ne s’en doute,
N’y touchez pas, il est brisé.

Souvent aussi la main qu’on aime,
Effleurant le cœur, le meurtrit;
Puis le cœur se fend de lui-même,
La fleur de son amour périt;

Toujours intact aux yeux du monde,
Il sent croître et pleurer tout bas
Sa blessure fine et profonde;
Il est brisé, n’y touchez pas.

Poem of the day

by Paul Heyse (1830-1914)

Stürme brausten über Nacht,
Und die kahlen Wipfel troffen.
Frühe war mein Herz erwacht,
Schüchtern zwischen Furcht und Hoffen.

Horch, ein trautgeschwätz’ger Ton
Dringt zu mir vom Wald hernieder.
Nisten in den Zweigen schon
Die geliebten Amseln wieder?

Dort am Weg der weiße Streif –
Zweifelnd frag’ ich mein Gemüte:
Ist’s ein später Winterreif
Oder erste Schlehenblüte?