Poem of the day

Oh, for a bowl of fat Canary
by John Lyly (1554-1606)

Oh, for a bowl of fat Canary,
Rich Palermo, sparkling Sherry,
Some nectar else, from Juno’s dairy;
Oh, these draughts would make us merry!

Oh, for a wench (I deal in faces,
And in other daintier things);
Tickled am I with her embraces,
Fine dancing in such fairy rings.

Oh, for a plump fat leg of mutton,
Veal, lamb, capon, pig, and coney;
None is happy but a glutton,
None an ass but who wants money.

Wines indeed and girls are good,
But brave victuals feast the blood;
For wenches, wine, and lusty cheer,
Jove would leap down to surfeit here.

Poem of the day

Hendecasyllabics
by Algernon Charles Swinburne (1837-1909)

In the month of the long decline of roses
I, beholding the summer dead before me,
Set my face to the sea and journeyed silent,
Gazing eagerly where above the sea-mark
Flame as fierce as the fervid eyes of lions
Half divided the eyelids of the sunset;
Till I heard as it were a noise of waters
Moving tremulous under feet of angels
Multitudinous, out of all the heavens;
Knew the fluttering wind, the fluttered foliage,
Shaken fitfully, full of sound and shadow;
And saw, trodden upon by noiseless angels,
Long mysterious reaches fed with moonlight,
Sweet sad straits in a soft subsiding channel,
Blown about by the lips of winds I knew not,
Winds not born in the north nor any quarter,
Winds not warm with the south nor any sunshine;
Heard between them a voice of exultation,
“Lo, the summer is dead, the sun is faded,
Even like as a leaf the year is withered,
All the fruits of the day from all her branches
Gathered, neither is any left to gather.
All the flowers are dead, the tender blossoms,
All are taken away; the season wasted,
Like an ember among the fallen ashes.
Now with light of the winter days, with moonlight,
Light of snow, and the bitter light of hoarfrost,
We bring flowers that fade not after autumn,
Pale white chaplets and crowns of latter seasons,
Fair false leaves (but the summer leaves were falser),
Woven under the eyes of stars and planets
When low light was upon the windy reaches
Where the flower of foam was blown, a lily
Dropt among the sonorous fruitless furrows
And green fields of the sea that make no pasture:
Since the winter begins, the weeping winter,
All whose flowers are tears, and round his temples
Iron blossom of frost is bound for ever.”

Poem of the day

Chanson
by Clément Marot (1495-1544)

   Je suis aimé de la plus belle,
Qui soit vivant dessous les cieux,
Encontre tous faux envieux
Je la soutiendrai être telle.

   Si Cupido doux et rebelle
Avoit débendé ses deux yeux,
Pour voir son maintien gracieux,
Je crois qu’amoureux serait d’elle.

   Venus, la déesse immortelle,
Tu as fait mon coeur bien heureux,
De l’avoir fait être amoureux
D’une si noble demoiselle.

Poem of the day

Aubade
by Edith Sitwell (1887-1964)

            Jane, Jane,
            Tall as a crane,
            The morning light creaks down again;

Comb your cockscomb-ragged hair,
Jane, Jane, come down the stair.

Each dull blunt wooden stalactite
Of rain creaks, hardened by the light,

Sounding like an overtone
From some lonely world unknown.

But the creaking empty light
Will never harden into sight,

Will never penetrate your brain
With overtones like the blunt rain.

The light would show (if it could harden)
Eternities of kitchen garden,

Cockscomb flowers that none will pluck,
And wooden flowers that ‘gin to cluck.

In the kitchen you must light
Flames as staring, red and white,

As carrots or as turnips shining
Where the cold dawn light lies whining.

Cockscomb hair on the cold wind
Hangs limp, turns the milk’s weak mind . . .

            Jane, Jane,
            Tall as a crane,
            The morning light creaks down again!

Poem of the day

Старая шарманка
by Innokenty Annensky (1855-1909)

Небо нас совсем свело с ума:
То огнём, то снегом нас слепило,
И, ощерясь, зверем отступила
За апрель упрямая зима.

Чуть на миг сомлеет в забытьи —
Уж опять на брови шлем надвинут,
И под наст ушедшие ручьи,
Не допев, умолкнут и застынут.

Но забыто прошлое давно,
Шумен сад, а камень бел и гулок,
И глядит раскрытое окно,
Как трава одела закоулок.

Лишь шарманку старую знобит,
И она в закатном мленьи мая
Всё никак не смелет злых обид,
Цепкий вал кружа и нажимая.

И никак, цепляясь, не поймёт
Этот вал, что ни к чему работа,
Что обида старости растёт
На шипах от муки поворота.

Но когда б и понял старый вал,
Что такая им с шарманкой участь,
Разве б петь, кружась, он перестал
Оттого, что петь нельзя, не мучась?..

Poem of the day

Ave atque Vale
by Algernon Charles Swinburne (1837-1909)

In Memory of Charles Baudelaire

Nous devrions pourtant lui porter quelques fleurs;
Les morts, les pauvres morts, ont de grandes douleurs,
Et quand Octobre souffle, émondeur des vieux arbres,
Son vent mélancolique à l’entour de leurs marbres,
Certe, ils doivent trouver les vivants bien ingrats.

                                    Les Fleurs du Mal

                  I

Shall I strew on thee rose or rue or laurel,
         Brother, on this that was the veil of thee?
         Or quiet sea-flower moulded by the sea,
Or simplest growth of meadow-sweet or sorrel,
         Such as the summer-sleepy Dryads weave,
         Waked up by snow-soft sudden rains at eve?
Or wilt thou rather, as on earth before,
         Half-faded fiery blossoms, pale with heat
         And full of bitter summer, but more sweet
To thee than gleanings of a northern shore
         Trod by no tropic feet?

                  II

For always thee the fervid languid glories
         Allured of heavier suns in mightier skies;
         Thine ears knew all the wandering watery sighs
Where the sea sobs round Lesbian promontories,
         The barren kiss of piteous wave to wave
         That knows not where is that Leucadian grave
Which hides too deep the supreme head of song.
         Ah, salt and sterile as her kisses were,
         The wild sea winds her and the green gulfs bear
Hither and thither, and vex and work her wrong,
         Blind gods that cannot spare.

                  III

Thou sawest, in thine old singing season, brother,
         Secrets and sorrows unbeheld of us:
         Fierce loves, and lovely leaf-buds poisonous,
Bare to thy subtler eye, but for none other
         Blowing by night in some unbreathed-in clime;
         The hidden harvest of luxurious time,
Sin without shape, and pleasure without speech;
         And where strange dreams in a tumultuous sleep
         Make the shut eyes of stricken spirits weep;
And with each face thou sawest the shadow on each,
         Seeing as men sow men reap.

                  IV

O sleepless heart and sombre soul unsleeping,
         That were athirst for sleep and no more life
         And no more love, for peace and no more strife!
Now the dim gods of death have in their keeping
         Spirit and body and all the springs of song,
         Is it well now where love can do no wrong,
Where stingless pleasure has no foam or fang
         Behind the unopening closure of her lips?
         Is it not well where soul from body slips
And flesh from bone divides without a pang
         As dew from flower-bell drips?

                  V

It is enough; the end and the beginning
         Are one thing to thee, who art past the end.
         O hand unclasped of unbeholden friend,
For thee no fruits to pluck, no palms for winning,
         No triumph and no labour and no lust,
         Only dead yew-leaves and a little dust.
O quiet eyes wherein the light saith nought,
         Whereto the day is dumb, nor any night
         With obscure finger silences your sight,
Nor in your speech the sudden soul speaks thought,
         Sleep, and have sleep for light.

                  VI

Now all strange hours and all strange loves are over,
         Dreams and desires and sombre songs and sweet,
         Hast thou found place at the great knees and feet
Of some pale Titan-woman like a lover,
         Such as thy vision here solicited,
         Under the shadow of her fair vast head,
The deep division of prodigious breasts,
         The solemn slope of mighty limbs asleep,
         The weight of awful tresses that still keep
The savour and shade of old-world pine-forests
         Where the wet hill-winds weep?

                  VII

Hast thou found any likeness for thy vision?
         O gardener of strange flowers, what bud, what bloom,
         Hast thou found sown, what gathered in the gloom?
What of despair, of rapture, of derision,
         What of life is there, what of ill or good?
         Are the fruits grey like dust or bright like blood?
Does the dim ground grow any seed of ours,
         The faint fields quicken any terrene root,
         In low lands where the sun and moon are mute
And all the stars keep silence? Are there flowers
         At all, or any fruit?

                  VIII

Alas, but though my flying song flies after,
         O sweet strange elder singer, thy more fleet
         Singing, and footprints of thy fleeter feet,
Some dim derision of mysterious laughter
         From the blind tongueless warders of the dead,
         Some gainless glimpse of Proserpine’s veiled head,
Some little sound of unregarded tears
         Wept by effaced unprofitable eyes,
         And from pale mouths some cadence of dead sighs —
These only, these the hearkening spirit hears,
         Sees only such things rise.

                  IX

Thou art far too far for wings of words to follow,
         Far too far off for thought or any prayer.
         What ails us with thee, who art wind and air?
What ails us gazing where all seen is hollow?
         Yet with some fancy, yet with some desire,
         Dreams pursue death as winds a flying fire,
Our dreams pursue our dead and do not find.
         Still, and more swift than they, the thin flame flies,
         The low light fails us in elusive skies,
Still the foiled earnest ear is deaf, and blind
         Are still the eluded eyes.

                  X

Not thee, O never thee, in all time’s changes,
         Not thee, but this the sound of thy sad soul,
         The shadow of thy swift spirit, this shut scroll
I lay my hand on, and not death estranges
         My spirit from communion of thy song —
         These memories and these melodies that throng
Veiled porches of a Muse funereal —
         These I salute, these touch, these clasp and fold
         As though a hand were in my hand to hold,
Or through mine ears a mourning musical
         Of many mourners rolled.

                  XI

I among these, I also, in such station
         As when the pyre was charred, and piled the sods,
         And offering to the dead made, and their gods,
The old mourners had, standing to make libation,
         I stand, and to the gods and to the dead
         Do reverence without prayer or praise, and shed
Offering to these unknown, the gods of gloom,
         And what of honey and spice my seedlands bear,
         And what I may of fruits in this chilled air,
And lay, Orestes-like, across the tomb
         A curl of severed hair.

                  XII

But by no hand nor any treason stricken,
         Not like the low-lying head of Him, the King,
         The flame that made of Troy a ruinous thing,
Thou liest, and on this dust no tears could quicken
         There fall no tears like theirs that all men hear
         Fall tear by sweet imperishable tear
Down the opening leaves of holy poets’ pages.
         Thee not Orestes, not Electra mourns;
         But bending us-ward with memorial urns
The most high Muses that fulfil all ages
         Weep, and our God’s heart yearns.

                  XIII

For, sparing of his sacred strength, not often
         Among us darkling here the lord of light
         Makes manifest his music and his might
In hearts that open and in lips that soften
         With the soft flame and heat of songs that shine.
         Thy lips indeed he touched with bitter wine,
And nourished them indeed with bitter bread;
         Yet surely from his hand thy soul’s food came,
         The fire that scarred thy spirit at his flame
Was lighted, and thine hungering heart he fed
         Who feeds our hearts with fame.

                  XIV

Therefore he too now at thy soul’s sunsetting,
         God of all suns and songs, he too bends down
         To mix his laurel with thy cypress crown,
And save thy dust from blame and from forgetting.
         Therefore he too, seeing all thou wert and art,
         Compassionate, with sad and sacred heart,
Mourns thee of many his children the last dead,
         And hallows with strange tears and alien sighs
         Thine unmelodious mouth and sunless eyes,
And over thine irrevocable head
         Sheds light from the under skies.

                  XV

And one weeps with him in the ways Lethean,
         And stains with tears her changing bosom chill:
         That obscure Venus of the hollow hill,
That thing transformed which was the Cytherean,
         With lips that lost their Grecian laugh divine
         Long since, and face no more called Erycine;
A ghost, a bitter and luxurious god.
         Thee also with fair flesh and singing spell
         Did she, a sad and second prey, compel
Into the footless places once more trod,
         And shadows hot from hell.

                  XVI

And now no sacred staff shall break in blossom,
         No choral salutation lure to light
         A spirit sick with perfume and sweet night
And love’s tired eyes and hands and barren bosom.
         There is no help for these things; none to mend
         And none to mar; not all our songs, O friend,
Will make death clear or make life durable.
         Howbeit with rose and ivy and wild vine
         And with wild notes about this dust of thine
At least I fill the place where white dreams dwell
         And wreathe an unseen shrine.

                  XVII

Sleep; and if life was bitter to thee, pardon,
         If sweet, give thanks; thou hast no more to live;
         And to give thanks is good, and to forgive.
Out of the mystic and the mournful garden
         Where all day through thine hands in barren braid
         Wove the sick flowers of secrecy and shade,
Green buds of sorrow and sin, and remnants grey,
         Sweet-smelling, pale with poison, sanguine-hearted,
         Passions that sprang from sleep and thoughts that started,
Shall death not bring us all as thee one day
         Among the days departed?

                  XVIII

For thee, O now a silent soul, my brother,
         Take at my hands this garland, and farewell.
         Thin is the leaf, and chill the wintry smell,
And chill the solemn earth, a fatal mother,
         With sadder than the Niobean womb,
         And in the hollow of her breasts a tomb.
Content thee, howsoe’er, whose days are done;
         There lies not any troublous thing before,
         Nor sight nor sound to war against thee more,
For whom all winds are quiet as the sun,
         All waters as the shore.

Poem of the day

Gretchens Lied
by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832)

Meine Ruh’ ist hin,
Mein Herz ist schwer;
Ich finde sie nimmer
und nimmermehr.

Wo ich ihn nicht hab’
Ist mir das Grab,
Die ganze Welt
Ist mir vergällt.

Mein armer Kopf
Ist mir verrückt,
Meiner armer Sinn
Ist mir zerstückt.

Meine Ruh’ ist hin,
Mein Herz ist schwer,
Ich finde sie nimmer
und nimmermehr.

Nach ihm nur schau’ ich
Zum Fenster hinaus,
Nach ihm nur geh’ ich
Aus dem Haus.

Sein hoher Gang,
Sein’ edle Gestalt,
Seines Mundes Lächeln,
Seiner Augen Gewalt,

Und seiner Rede
Zauberfluß,
Sein Händedruck,
Und ach sein Kuß!

Meine Ruh’ ist hin,
Mein Herz ist schwer,
Ich finde sie nimmer
Und nimmermehr.

Mein Busen drängt
Sich nach ihm hin,
Ach dürft’ ich fassen
Und halten ihn!

Und küssen ihn
So wie ich wollt’,
An seinen Küssen
Vergehen sollt’!

Poem of the day

Vieja Llave
by Amado Nervo (1870-1919)

Esta llave cincelada
que en un tiempo fue colgada,
(del estrado a la cancela
de la despensa al granero)
del llavero de la abuela,
y en un continuo repicar
inundaba de rumores
los vetustos corredores;
esta llave cincelada,
si no cierra ni abre nada
¿para qué la he de guardar?
   Ya no existe el gran ropero,
la gran arca se vendió;
sólo en un baúl de cuero,
desprendida del llavero
esta llave se quedó.
   Herrubrosa, orinecida,
como el metal de mi vida,
como el hierro de mi fe,
como mi querer de acero,
esta llave sin llavero
¡nade es ya de lo que fue!
   Me parece un amuleto
sin virtud y sin respeto;
nada abre, no resuena…
¡me parece un alma en pena!
   Pobre llave sin fortuna
…y sin dientes, como una
vieja boca, si en mi hogar
ya no cierras ni abres nada,
pobre llave desdentada,
¿para qué te he de guardar?

   Sin embargo tú sabías
de las glorias de otros días;
del mantón de seda fina
que nos trajo de la China
la gallarda, la ligera
española nao fiera.
Tú sabías de tibores
donde pájaros y flores
confundían sus colores;
tú, de lacas, de marfiles,
y de perfumes sutiles
de otros tiempos; tu cautela
conservaba la canela,
el cacao, la vainilla,
la suave mantequilla,
los grades quesos frescales
y la miel de los panales,
tentación del paladar;
mas si hoy, abandonada,
ya no cierras ni abres nada,
pobre llave desdentada,
¿para qué te he de guardar?

   Tu torcida arquitectura
es la misma del portal
de mi antigua casa obscura,
(¡que en un día de premura
fue preciso vender mal!)
   Es la misma de la ufana
y la luminosa ventana,
done Inés, mi prima y yo
nos dijimos tantas cosas
en las tardes misteriosas
del buen tiempo que pasó…
   Me recuerdas mi morada,
me retratas mi solar;
mas si hoy; abandonada,
ya no cierras ni abres nada,
pobre llave desdentada,
¿para qué te he de guardar?

Poem of the day

Les Colchiques
by Guillaume Apollinaire (1880-1918)

Le pré est vénéneux mais joli en automne
Les vaches y paissant
Lentement s’empoisonnent
Le colchique couleur de cerne et de lilas
Y fleurit tes yeux sont comme cette fleur-là
Violâtres comme leur cerne et comme cet automne
Et ma vie pour tes yeux lentement s’empoisonne

Les enfants de l’école viennent avec fracas
Vêtus de hoquetons et jouant de l’harmonica
Ils cueillent les colchiques qui sont comme des mères
Filles de leurs filles et sont couleur de tes paupières

Qui battent comme les fleurs battent au vent dément

Le gardien du troupeau chante tout doucement
Tandis que lentes et meuglant les vaches abandonnent
Pour toujours ce grand pré mal fleuri par l’automne

Poem of the day

Church Monuments
by George Herbert (1593-1633)

While that my soul repairs to her devotion,
Here I entomb my flesh, that it betimes
May take acquaintance of this heap of dust;
To which the blast of death’s incessant motion,
Fed with the exhalation of our crimes,
Drives all at last. Therefore I gladly trust

My body to this school, that it may learn
To spell his elements, and find his birth
Written in dusty heraldry and lines ;
Which dissolution sure doth best discern,
Comparing dust with dust, and earth with earth.
These laugh at jet, and marble, put for signs

To sever the good fellowship of dust,
And spoil the meeting. What shall point out them,
When they shall bow, and kneel, and fall down flat
To kiss those heaps, which now they have in trust?
Dear flesh, while I do pray, learn here thy stem
And true descent: that when thou shalt grow fat,

And wanton in thy cravings, thou mayst know,
That flesh is but the glass, which holds the dust
That measures all our time; which also shall
Be crumbled into dust. Mark, here below,
How tame these ashes are, how free from lust,
That thou mayst fit thyself against thy fall.