Poem of the day

Souvenir
by Merceline Desbordes-Valmore (1786-1859)

Quand il pâlit un soir, et que sa voix tremblante
S’éteignit tout à coup dans un mot commencé;
Quand ses yeux, soulevant leur paupière brûlante,
Me blessèrent d’un mal dont je le crus blessé;
Quand ses traits plus touchants, éclairés d’une flamme
            Qui ne s’éteint jamais,
S’imprimèrent vivants dans le fond de mon âme,
            Il n’aimait pas: j’aimais!

Poem of the day

Husband and Heathen
by Sam Walter Foss (1858-1911)

O’er the men of Ethiopia she would pour her cornucopia,
And shower wealth and plenty on the people of Japan,
Send down jelly cake and candies to the Indians of the Andes,
And a cargo of plum pudding to the men of Hindoostan;
         And she said she loved ’em so,
         Bushman, Finn, and Eskimo.
If she had the wings of eagles to their succour she would fly
         Loaded down with jam and jelly,
         Succotash and vermicelli,
Prunes, pomegranates, plums and pudding, peaches, pineapples, and pie.

She would fly with speedy succour to the natives of Molucca
With whole loads of quail and salmon, and with tons of fricassee
         And give cake in fullest measure
         To the men of Australasia
And all the Archipelagoes that dot the southern sea;
         And the Anthropophagi,
         All their lives deprived of pie,
She would satiate and satisfy with custards, cream, and mince;
         And those miserable Australians
         And the Borrioboolighalians,
She would gorge with choicest jelly, raspberry, currant, grape, and quince.

But like old war-time hardtackers, her poor husband lived on crackers,
Bought at wholesale from a baker, eaten from the mantelshelf;
         If the men of Madagascar,
         And the natives of Alaska,
Had enough to sate their hunger, let him look out for himself.
         And his coat had but one tail
         And he used a shingle nail
To fasten up his galluses when he went out to his work;
         And she used to spend his money
         To buy sugar-plums and honey
For the Terra del Fuegian and the Turcoman and Turk.

Poem of the day

La Laitière
by Pamphile Le May (1837-1918)

Le sarrasin fleuri verse un parfum de miel,
Et le moineau, gorgé des blés mûrs qu’il saccage,
Vole à son nid. L’érable et le pin du bocage
Dentellent, au ponant, les champs pourpres du ciel.

C’est le soir. Dans l’air pur, monte un vibrant appel,
Et soudain le troupeau qu’on a mis au pacage,
Par la sente connue ou par le marécage,
Accourt lécher la main d’où s’égraine le sel.

La génisse rumine auprès de la barrière.
Avec un bruit de source, au fond d’une chaudière,
De sa lourde mamelle il tombe un flot de lait.

La laitière caresse un rêve. Elle présume
Qu’avec deux fois le prix de cette blanche écume
Elle peut étrenner un joli mantelet.

Poem of the day

The Roaring Days
by Henry Lawson (1867-1922)

The night too quickly passes
And we are growing old,
So let us fill our glasses
And toast the Days of Gold;
When finds of wondrous treasure
Set all the South ablaze,
And you and I were faithful mates
All through the roaring days!

Then stately ships came sailing
From every harbour’s mouth,
And sought the land of promise
That beaconed in the South;
Then southward streamed their streamers
And swelled their canvas full
To speed the wildest dreamers
E’er borne in vessel’s hull.

Their shining Eldorado
Beneath the southern skies
Was day and night for ever
Before their eager eyes.
The brooding bush, awakened,
Was stirred in wild unrest,
And all the year a human stream
Went pouring to the West.

The rough bush roads re-echoed
The bar-room’s noisy din,
When troops of stalwart horsemen
Dismounted at the inn.
And oft the hearty greetings
And hearty clasp of hands
Would tell of sudden meetings
Of friends from other lands;

And when the cheery camp-fire
Explored the bush with gleams,
The camping-grounds were crowded
With caravans of teams;
Then home the jests were driven,
And good old songs were sung,
And choruses were given
The strength of heart and lung.

Oft when the camps were dreaming,
And fires began to pale,
Through rugged ranges gleaming
Swept on the Royal Mail.
Behind six foaming horses,
And lit by flashing lamps,
Old Cobb and Co., in royal state,
Went dashing past the camps.

Oh, who would paint a gold-field,
And paint the picture right,
As old Adventure saw it
In early morning’s light?
The yellow mounds of mullock
With spots of red and white,
The scattered quartz that glistened
Like diamonds in light;

The azure line of ridges,
The bush of darkest green,
The little homes of calico
That dotted all the scene.
The flat straw hats, with ribands
That old engravings show—
The dress that still reminds us
Of sailors long ago.

I hear the fall of timber
From distant flats and fells,
The pealing of the anvils
As clear as little bells,
The rattle of the cradle,
The clack of windlass-boles,
The flutter of the crimson flags
Above the golden holes.

Ah, then our hearts were bolder,
And if Dame Fortune frowned
Their swags they’d lightly shoulder
And tramp to other ground.
Oh, they were lion-hearted
Who gave our country birth!
Stout sons, of stoutest fathers born,
From all the lands on earth!

Those golden days are vanished,
And altered is the scene;
The diggings are deserted,
The camping-grounds are green;
The flaunting flag of progress
Is in the West unfurled,
The mighty bush with iron rails
Is tethered to the world.

Poem of the day

The Antiplatonick
by John Cleveland (1613-1658)

For shame, thou everlasting Wooer,
Still saying Grace, and never falling to her!
Love that’s in Contemplation plac’t,
Is Venus drawn but to the Wast.
Unlesse your Flame confesse its gender,
And your Parley cause surrender,
Y’are Salamanders of a cold desire,
That live untouch’t amid the hottest fire.

What though she be a Dame of stone,
The Widow of Pigmalion;
As hard and un-relenting she,
As the new-crusted Niobe;
Or what doth more of Statue carry
A Nunne of the Platonick Quarry!
Love melts the rigour which the rocks have bred,
A Flint will break upon a Feather-bed.

For shame you pretty Female Elves,
Cease for to candy up your selves;
No more, you Sectaries of the Game,
No more of your calcining flame.
Women commence by Cupids Dart,
As a Kings hunting dubs a Hart.
Loves Votaries inthrall each others soul,
Till both of them live but upon Parole.

Vertue’s no more in Woman-kind
But the green sicknesse of the mind.
Philosophy, their new delight,
A kind of Char-coal appetite.
There’s no Sophistry prevails,
Where all-convincing Love assails,
But the disputing Petticoat will warp,
As skilfull Gamesters are to seeke at sharp.

The souldier, that man of iron,
Whom ribs of Horror all inviron,
That’s strung with Wire, instead of Veins,
In whose embraces you’re in chains,
Let a Magnetick girl appear,
Straight he turns Cupids Cuiraseer.
Love storms his lips, and takes the Fortresse in,
For all the Brisled Turn-pikes of his chin.

Since Loves Artillery then checks
The brest-works of the firmest sex,
Come let us in affections riot,
Th’are sickly pleasures keep a Diet:
Give me a lover bold and free,
Not Eunucht with formality;
Like an Embassadour that beds a Queen,
With the nice Caution of a sword between.

Poem of the day

Sin miedo
by Konstantin Balmont (1867-1942)

Если ты поэт и хочешь быть могучим,
Хочешь быть бессмертным в памяти людей,
Порази их в сердце вымыслом певучим,
Думу закали на пламени страстей.

Ты видал кинжалы древнего Толедо?
Лучших не увидишь, где бы ни искал.
На клинке узорном надпись: «Sin miedo», —
Будь всегда бесстрашным, — властен их закал.

Раскаленной стали форму придавая,
В сталь кладут по черни золотой узор,
И века сверкает красота живая
Двух металлов слитых, разных с давних пор.

Чтоб твои мечты во век не отблистали,
Чтоб твоя душа всегда была жива,
Разбросай в напевах золото по стали,
Влей огонь застывший в звонкие слова.

Poem of the day

“De ramis cadunt folia”
Anonymous (13th century)

De ramis cadunt folia,
         nam viror totus periit,
iam calor liquit omnia
         et abiit;
nam signa coeli ultima
         sol petiit.

Iam nocet frigus teneris,
         et avis bruma leditur,
et philomena ceteris
         conqueritur,
quod illis ignis etheris
         adimitur.

Nec lympha caret alveus,
         nec prata virent herbida,
sol nostra fugit aureus
         confinia;
est inde dies niveus,
         nox frigida.

Modo frigescit quidquid est,
         sed solus ego caleo;
immo sic mihi cordi est
         quod ardeo;
hic ignis tamen virgo est,
         qua langueo.

Nutritur ignis osculo
         et leni tactu virginis;
in suo lucet oculo
         lux luminis,
nec est in toto seculo
         plus numinis.

Ignis grecus extinguitur
         cum vino iam acerrimo;
sed iste non extinguitur
         miserrimo:
immo fomento alitur
         uberrimo.

Poem of the day

Down By the Sally Gardens
by William Butler Yeats (1865-1939)
This has been set to music and often recorded. Here, for example, are the versions by Alfred Deller, Richard Dyer-Bennet, Tommy Makem, and John McCormack.

Down by the salley gardens my love and I did meet;
She passed the salley gardens with little snow-white feet.
She bid me take love easy, as the leaves grow on the tree;
But I, being young and foolish, with her would not agree.

In a field by the river my love and I did stand,
And on my leaning shoulder she laid her snow-white hand.
She bid me take life easy, as the grass grows on the weirs;
But I was young and foolish, and now am full of tears.

Poem of the day

Non Sum Qualis Eram Bonae Sub Regno Cynarae
by Ernest Dowson (1867-1900)

Last night, ah, yesternight, betwixt her lips and mine,
There fell thy shadow, Cynara! thy breath was shed
Upon my soul between the kisses and the wine;
And I was desolate and sick of an old passion,
         Yea, I was desolate and bowed my head:
I have been faithful to thee, Cynara! in my fashion.

All night upon my heart I felt her warm heart beat,
Night-long within my arms in love and sleep she lay;
Surely the kisses of her bought red mouth were sweet;
But I was desolate and sick of an old passion,
         When I awoke and found the dawn was grey:
I have been faithful to thee, Cynara! in my fashion.

I have forgot much, Cynara! gone with the wind,
Flung roses, roses riotously with the throng,
Dancing, to put thy pale, lost lilies out of mind;
But I was desolate and sick of an old passion,
         Yea, all the time, because the dance was long:
I have been faithful to thee, Cynara! in my fashion.

I cried for madder music and for stronger wine,
But when the feast is finished and the lamps expire,
Then falls thy shadow, Cynara! the night is thine;
And I am desolate and sick of an old passion,
         Yea, hungry for the lips of my desire:
I have been faithful to thee, Cynara! in my fashion.

Poem of the day

On Lucy, Countess of Bedford
by Ben Jonson (1572-1637)

This morning timely wrapt with holy fire,
I thought to form unto my zealous Muse,
What kind of creature I could most desire
To know, serve, and love, as Poets use.
I meant to make her fair, and free, and wise,
Of greatest blood, and yet more good than great;
I meant the day-star should not brighter rise,
Nor lend like influence from his lucent seat;
I meant she should be courteous, facile, sweet,
Hating that solemn vice of greatness, pride;
I meant each softest virtue there should meet,
Fit in that softer bosom to reside.
Only a learned, and a manly soul
I purposed her: that should with even powers,
The rock, the spindle, and the shears control
Of Destiny, and spin her own free hours.
Such when I meant to feign, and wished to see,
My Muse bade Bedford write, and that was she!