Poem of the day

Love and Life
by John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester (1647-1680)

All my past life is mine no more,
         The flying hours are gone,
Like transitory dreams giv’n o’er,
Whose images are kept in store
         By memory alone.

The time that is to come is not;
         How can it then be mine?
The present moment’s all my lot;
And that, as fast as it is got,
         Phyllis, is only thine.

Then talk not of inconstancy,
         False hearts, and broken vows;
If I, by miracle, can be
This live-long minute true to thee,
         ’Tis all that Heav’n allows.

Poem of the day

Thoughts in a Garden
by Andrew Marvell (1621-1678)

How vainly men themselves amaze
To win the palm, the oak, or bays,
And their uncessant labours see
Crown’d from some single herb or tree,
Whose short and narrow-vergèd shade
Does prudently their toils upbraid;
While all the flowers and trees do close
To weave the garlands of repose!

Fair Quiet, have I found thee here,
And Innocence thy sister dear?
Mistaken long, I sought you then
In busy companies of men:
Your sacred plants, if here below,
Only among the plants will grow:
Society is all but rude
To this delicious solitude.

No white nor red was ever seen
So amorous as this lovely green.
Fond lovers, cruel as their flame,
Cut in these trees their mistress’ name:
Little, alas! they know or heed
How far these beauties hers exceed!
Fair trees! wheres’e’er your barks I wound,
No name shall but your own be found.

When we have run our passions’ heat,
Love hither makes his best retreat:
The gods, that mortal beauty chase,
Still in a tree did end their race;
Apollo hunted Daphne so
Only that she might laurel grow;
And Pan did after Syrinx speed
Not as a nymph, but for a reed.

What wondrous life in this I lead!
Ripe apples drop about my head;
The luscious clusters of the vine
Upon my mouth do crush their wine;
The nectarine and curious peach
Into my hands themselves do reach;
Stumbling on melons, as I pass,
Ensnared with flowers, I fall on grass.

Meanwhile the mind from pleasure less
Withdraws into its happiness;
The mind, that ocean where each kind
Does straight its own resemblance find;
Yet it creates, transcending these,
Far other worlds, and other seas;
Annihilating all that ’s made
To a green thought in a green shade.

Here at the fountain’s sliding foot,
Or at some fruit-tree’s mossy root,
Casting the body’s vest aside,
My soul into the boughs does glide;
There, like a bird, it sits and sings,
Then whets and combs its silver wings,
And, till prepared for longer flight,
Waves in its plumes the various light.

Such was that happy Garden-state
While man there walk’d without a mate:
After a place so pure and sweet,
What other help could yet be meet!
But ’twas beyond a mortal’s share
To wander solitary there:
Two paradises ’twere in one,
To live in Paradise alone.

How well the skilful gard’ner drew
Of flowers and herbs this dial new!
Where, from above, the milder sun
Does through a fragrant zodiac run:
And, as it works, th’ industrious bee
Computes its time as well as we.
How could such sweet and wholesome hours
Be reckon’d, but with herbs and flowers!

Poem of the day

Mon Rêve familier
by Paul Verlaine (1844-1896)

Je fais souvent ce rêve étrange et pénétrant
D’une femme inconnue, et que j’aime, et qui m’aime
Et qui n’est, chaque fois, ni tout à fait la même
Ni tout à fait une autre, et m’aime et me comprend.

Car elle me comprend, et mon coeur, transparent
Pour elle seule, hélas! cesse d’être un problème
Pour elle seule, et les moiteurs de mon front blême,
Elle seule les sait rafraîchir, en pleurant.

Est-elle brune, blonde ou rousse? – Je l’ignore.
Son nom? Je me souviens qu’il est doux et sonore
Comme ceux des aimés que la Vie exila.

Son regard est pareil au regard des statues,
Et, pour sa voix, lointaine, et calme, et grave, elle a
L’inflexion des voix chères qui se sont tues.

Poem of the day

Amantium Irae
by Richard Edwardes (1523-1566)

In going to my naked bed as one that would have slept,
I heard a wife sing to her child, that long before had wept;
She sighed sore and sang full sweet, to bring the babe to rest,
That would not cease but cried still, in sucking at her breast.
She was full weary of her watch, and grieved with her child,
She rocked it and rated it, till that on her it smiled.
Then did she say, Now have I found this proverb true to prove,
The falling out of faithful friends renewing is of love.

Then took I paper, pen, and ink, this proverb for to write,
In register for to remain of such a worthy wight:
As she proceeded thus in song unto her little brat,
Much matter utter’d she of weight, in place whereas she sat:
And proved plain there was no beast, nor creature bearing life,
Could well be known to live in love without discord and strife:
Then kissed she her little babe, and sware by God above,
The falling out of faithful friends renewing is of love.

She said that neither king nor prince nor lord could live aright,
Until their puissance they did prove, their manhood and their might.
When manhood shall be matched so that fear can take no place,
Then weary works make warriors each other to embrace,
And left their force that failed them, which did consume the rout,
That might before have lived their time, their strength and nature out:
Then did she sing as one that thought no man could her reprove,
The falling out of faithful friends renewing is of love.
She said she saw no fish nor fowl, nor beast within her haunt,
That met a stranger in their kind, but could give it a taunt:
Since flesh might not endure, but rest must wrath succeed,
And force the fight to fall to play in pasture where they feed,
So noble nature can well end the work she hath begun,
And bridle well that will not cease her tragedy in some:
Thus in song she oft rehearsed, as did her well behove,
The falling out of faithful friends renewing is of love.

I marvel much pardy (quoth she) for to behold the rout,
To see man, woman, boy and beast, to toss the world about:
Some kneel, some crouch, some beck, some check, and some can smoothly smile,
And some embrace others in arm, and there think many a wile,
Some stand aloof at cap and knee, some humble and some stout,
Yet are they never friends in deed until they once fall out:
Thus ended she her song and said, before she did remove,
The falling out of faithful friends renewing is of love.

Game of the week

Poem of the day

Le Dernier Mot de l’Amour
by Arsène Houssaye (1814-1896)

O Femme, que tu sois plébéienne ou princesse,
En dévoilant l’amour, je te cherche où tu es.
Ton cœur est le roman que je relis sans cesse;
Je ne te connais pas, mais je t’aime ou te hais.

J’ai secoué pour toi l’arbre de la science.
Lis ce livre, ou plutôt cherche ton cœur dedans.
Sur l’espalier d’Éros, si ta luxuriance
Est mûre, ouvre la bouche et mords à belles dents.

C’est la moralité. Mais pourtant, si l’angoisse
Des belles passions t’a pâlie un matin,
Abandonne Vénus et change de paroisse;

Aime l’amour pour Dieu, c’est encor plus certain:
Repens-toi doucement en filant de la laine,
Et pleure tes péchés comme la Madeleine.

Poem of the day

L’Âge d’Or de l’Avenir
by Alfred de Vigny (1797-1863)

Le rideau s’est levé devant mes yeux débiles,
La lumière s’est faite et j’ai vu ses splendeurs;
J’ai compris nos destins par ces ombres mobiles
Qui se peignaient en noir sur de vives couleurs.
Ces feux, de ta pensée étaient les lueurs pures,
Ces ombres, du passé les magiques figures,
J’ai tressailli de joie en voyant nos grandeurs.

Il est donc vrai que l’homme est monté par lui-même
Jusqu’aux sommets glacés de sa vaste raison,
Qu’il y peut vivre en paix sans plainte et sans blasphème,
Et mesurer le monde et sonder l’horizon.
Il sait que l’univers l’écrase et le dévore;
Plus grand que l’univers qu’il juge et qui l’ignore,
Le Berger a lui-même éclairé sa maison.

Big Brother is watching you

“The race to embrace invasive tools underscores a simple dynamic at play during the current global pandemic: Public health concerns are trumping the desire to protect individuals’ privacy online and in the real world, even in the home of the General Data Protection Regulation, Europe’s sweeping privacy rules. …

“Pointing to a wave of new surveillance powers approved nationally and EU-wide in 2015- 2017, following a wave of terrorist attacks, critics argue that regulators are green-lighting practices that will be almost impossible to unwind once the pandemic has passed. …

“According to European Commissioner Breton and other top officials urging telecoms operators to hand over data, privacy can be respected because the data concerned is anonymized and aggregated.

“But that is a little reassurance, according to privacy experts who point out that an individual’s identity can easily be deduced from just a handful of anonymized mobile phone location data points.”

European countries are hollowing out hard-fought privacy standards as they embrace tech solutions to fight the coronavirus.

Poem of the day

Terence, This Is Stupid Stuff
by Alfred Edward Housman (1859-1936)

   “Terence, this is stupid stuff:
You eat your victuals fast enough;
There can’t be much amiss, ’tis clear,
To see the rate you drink your beer.
But oh, good Lord, the verse you make,
It gives a chap the belly-ache.
The cow, the old cow, she is dead;
It sleeps well, the horned head:
We poor lads, ’tis our turn now
To hear such tunes as killed the cow.
Pretty friendship ’tis to rhyme
Your friends to death before their time
Moping melancholy mad:
Come, pipe a tune to dance to, lad.”

   Why, if ’tis dancing you would be,
There’s brisker pipes than poetry.
Say, for what were hop-yards meant,
Or why was Burton built on Trent?
Oh many a peer of England brews
Livelier liquor than the Muse,
And malt does more than Milton can
To justify God’s ways to man.
Ale, man, ale’s the stuff to drink
For fellows whom it hurts to think:
Look into the pewter pot
To see the world as the world’s not.
And faith, ’tis pleasant till ’tis past:
The mischief is that ’twill not last.
Oh I have been to Ludlow fair
And left my necktie God knows where,
And carried half way home, or near,
Pints and quarts of Ludlow beer:
Then the world seemed none so bad,
And I myself a sterling lad;
And down in lovely muck I’ve lain,
Happy till I woke again.
Then I saw the morning sky:
Heigho, the tale was all a lie;
The world, it was the old world yet,
I was I, my things were wet,
And nothing now remained to do
But begin the game anew.

   Therefore, since the world has still
Much good, but much less good than ill,
And while the sun and moon endure
Luck’s a chance, but trouble’s sure,
I’d face it as a wise man would,
And train for ill and not for good.
’Tis true, the stuff I bring for sale
Is not so brisk a brew as ale:
Out of a stem that scored the hand
I wrung it in a weary land.
But take it: if the smack is sour
The better for the embittered hour;
It will do good to heart and head
When your soul is in my soul’s stead;
And I will friend you, if I may,
In the dark and cloudy day.

   There was a king reigned in the East:
There, when kings will sit to feast,
They get their fill before they think
With poisoned meat and poisoned drink.
He gathered all that sprang to birth
From the many-venomed earth;
First a little, thence to more,
He sampled all her killing store;
And easy, smiling, seasoned sound,
Sate the king when healths went round.
They put arsenic in his meat
And stared aghast to watch him eat;
They poured strychnine in his cup
And shook to see him drink it up:
They shook, they stared as white’s their shirt:
Them it was their poison hurt.
— I tell the tale that I heard told.
Mithridates, he died old.