Concord Hymn

Sung at the Completion of the Battle Monument, July 4, 1837
By the rude bridge that arched the flood,
   Their flag to April’s breeze unfurled,
Here once the embattled farmers stood
   And fired the shot heard round the world.
The foe long since in silence slept;
   Alike the conqueror silent sleeps;
And Time the ruined bridge has swept
   Down the dark stream which seaward creeps.
On this green bank, by this soft stream,
   We set today a votive stone;
That memory may their deed redeem,
   When, like our sires, our sons are gone.
Spirit, that made those heroes dare
   To die, and leave their children free,
Bid Time and Nature gently spare
   The shaft we raise to them and thee.

 

Ralph Waldo Emerson

via https://www.poetryfoundation.org/

Old mad blind despised and dying king

ENGLAND IN 1819

An old, mad, blind, despised, and dying King;
Princes, the dregs of their dull race, who flow
Through public scorn,—mud from a muddy spring;
Rulers who neither see nor feel nor know,
But leechlike to their fainting country cling
Till they drop, blind in blood, without a blow.
A people starved and stabbed in th’ untilled field;
An army, whom liberticide and prey
Makes as a two-edged sword to all who wield;
Golden and sanguine laws which tempt and slay;
Religion Christless, Godless—a book sealed;
A senate, Time’s worst statute, unrepealed—
Are graves from which a glorious Phantom may
Burst, to illumine our tempestuous day.

The sonnet describes a very forlorn reality. The poem passionately attacks, as the poet sees it, England’s decadent, oppressive ruling class. King George III is described as “old, mad, blind, despised, and dying”. The “leech-like” nobility (“princes”) metaphorically suck the blood from the people, who are, in the sonnet, oppressed, hungry, and hopeless, their fields untilled. Meanwhile, the army is corrupt and dangerous to liberty, the laws are harsh and useless, religion has lost its morality, and Parliament (the “Senate”) is a relic. In addition, the civil rights of the Catholic minority are non-existent “Time’s worst statute unrepealed”. In a startling burst of optimism, the last two lines express the hope that a “glorious Phantom” may spring forth from this decay and “illumine our tempestuous day”.

This poem was written as a response to the brutal Peterloo Massacre in August 1819.

Wikipedia

Gift – Czeslaw Milosz

GIFT
A day so happy.
Fog lifted early, I worked in the garden.
Hummingbirds were stopping over honeysuckle
flowers.
There was no thing on earth I wanted to possess.
I knew no one worth my envying him.
Whatever evil I had suffered, I forgot.
To think that once I was the same man did not
embarrass me.
In my body I felt no pain.
When straightening up, I saw the blue sea and sails.

CZESLAW MILOSZ
Poems of Gratitude, edited by Emily Fragos
Amazon

 

From a Railway Carriage – Robert Louis Stevenson

Faster than fairies, faster than witches,
Bridges and houses, hedges and ditches;
And charging along like troops in a battle,
All through the meadows the horses and cattle:
All of the sights of the hill and the plain
Fly as thick as driving rain;
And ever again, in the wink of an eye,
Painted stations whistle by.

Here is a child who clambers and scrambles,
All by himself and gathering brambles;
Here is a tramp who stands and gazes;
And there is the green for stringing the daisies!
Here is a cart run away in the road
Lumping along with man and load;
And here is a mill and there is a river:
Each a glimpse and gone for ever!

https://www.scottishpoetrylibrary.org.uk/poem/railway-carriage/

Sonnet 19: When I consider how my light is spent – John Milton

When I consider how my light is spent,
Ere half my days, in this dark world and wide,
And that one Talent which is death to hide
Lodged with me useless, though my Soul more bent
To serve therewith my Maker, and present
My true account, lest he returning chide;
“Doth God exact day-labour, light denied?”
I fondly ask. But patience, to prevent
That murmur, soon replies, “God doth not need
Either man’s work or his own gifts; who best
Bear his mild yoke, they serve him best. His state
Is Kingly. Thousands at his bidding speed
And post o’er Land and Ocean without rest:
They also serve who only stand and wait.”

No Man is an Island. John Donne, Meditation 17

“No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend’s or of thine own were: any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.”

That is what I am familiar with.  It’s part of a longer piece apparently:

Meditation #17 By John Donne From Devotions upon Emergent Occasions (1623), XVII:
Nunc Lento Sonitu Dicunt, Morieris (Now this bell, tolling softly for another, says to me, Thou must die.)

Perchance, he for whom this bell tolls may be so ill, as that he knows not it tolls for him; and perchance I may think myself so much better than I am, as that they who are about me, and see my state, may have caused it to toll for me, and I know not that. The church is catholic, universal, so are all her actions; all that she does belongs to all. When she baptizes a child, that action concerns me; for that child is thereby connected to that body which is my head too, and ingrafted into that body whereof I am a member. And when she buries a man, that action concerns me: all mankind is of one author, and is one volume; when one man dies, one chapter is not torn out of the book, but translated into a better language; and every chapter must be so translated; God employs several translators; some pieces are translated by age, some by sickness, some by war, some by justice; but God’s hand is in every translation, and his hand shall bind up all our scattered leaves again for that library where every book shall lie open to one another. As therefore the bell that rings to a sermon calls not upon the preacher only, but upon the congregation to come, so this bell calls us all; but how much more me, who am brought so near the door by this sickness.

There was a contention as far as a suit (in which both piety and dignity, religion and estimation, were mingled), which of the religious orders should ring to prayers first in the morning; and it was determined, that they should ring first that rose earliest. If we understand aright the dignity of this bell that tolls for our evening prayer, we would be glad to make it ours by rising early, in that application, that it might be ours as well as his, whose indeed it is.

The bell doth toll for him that thinks it doth; and though it intermit again, yet from that minute that this occasion wrought upon him, he is united to God. Who casts not up his eye to the sun when it rises? but who takes off his eye from a comet when that breaks out? Who bends not his ear to any bell which upon any occasion rings? but who can remove it from that bell which is passing a piece of himself out of this world?

No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend’s or of thine own were: any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.

Neither can we call this a begging of misery, or a borrowing of misery, as though we were not miserable enough of ourselves, but must fetch in more from the next house, in taking upon us the misery of our neighbours. Truly it were an excusable covetousness if we did, for affliction is a treasure, and scarce any man hath enough of it. No man hath affliction enough that is not matured and ripened by it, and made fit for God by that affliction. If a man carry treasure in bullion, or in a wedge of gold, and have none coined into current money, his treasure will not defray him as he travels. Tribulation is treasure in the nature of it, but it is not current money in the use of it, except we get nearer and nearer our home, heaven, by it. Another man may be sick too, and sick to death, and this affliction may lie in his bowels, as gold in a mine, and be of no use to him; but this bell, that tells me of his affliction, digs out and applies that gold to me: if by this consideration of another’s danger I take mine own into contemplation, and so secure myself, by making my recourse to my God, who is our only security.

Wikisource

Do It Again – The Kinks

Standing in the middle of nowhere
Wondering how to begin
Lost between tomorrow and yesterday
Between now and then
And now we’re back where we started
Here we go round again
Day after day I get up and I say
I better do it again
Where are all the people going
Round and round till we reach the end
One day leading to another
Get up go out do it again
Then it’s back where you started
Here we go round again
Back where you started
Come on do it again
And you think today is going to be better
Change the world and do it again
Give it all up and start all over
You say you will but you don’t know when
Then it’s back where you started
Here we go round again
Day after day I get up and I say
Come on better do it again
The days go by and you wish you were a different guy
Different friends and a new set of clothes
You make alterations and (a fact in you knows)
A new house a new car a new job a new nose
But it’s superficial and it’s only skin deep
Cause the voices in your head keep shouting in your sleep
Get back, get back
Back where you started, here we go round again
Back where you started, come on do it again
Back where you started, here we go round again
Day after day I get up and I say, do it again
Do it again
Day after day I get up and I say, do it again

Learning to Live on Your Own

the night’s drawing in on the city,
the manager picks up his phone,
everything seems such a pity,
learning to live on your own,
news travels fast down the wire,
breaks up before it hits home,
throw a rock n’ roll song on the fire,
learning to live on your own
in the half light of dawn,
you’ll wave (leave) this world of ours goodbye (behind),
please accept this message of my tears…
things that take minutes last for hours,
a plane crashes on its way home,
the company still feeds on our (your) power,
learning to live on your own
in the half light of dawn,
you’ll wave (leave) this world of ours goodbye (behind),
i can’t see a new star in the heavens,
i won’t (don’t) hear the tributes that they own,
throw a rock n’ roll song on the fire,
learning to live on your own

The Mekons, Rock and Roll

Acquainted With the Night – Robert Frost

I have been one acquainted with the night.
I have walked out in rain—and back in rain.
I have outwalked the furthest city light.
I have looked down the saddest city lane.
I have passed by the watchman on his beat
And dropped my eyes, unwilling to explain.
I have stood still and stopped the sound of feet
When far away an interrupted cry
Came over houses from another street,
But not to call me back or say good-bye;
And further still at an unearthly height,
One luminary clock against the sky
Proclaimed the time was neither wrong nor right.
I have been one acquainted with the night.

The Moon in the Daytime – Proust Quote

Sometimes in the afternoon sky the moon would pass white as a cloud, furtive, lusterless, like an actress who does not have to perform yet and who, from the audience, in street clothes, watches the other actors for a moment, making herself inconspicuous, not wanting anyone to pay attention to her.

Proust, Marcel. Swann’s Way (In Search of Lost Time) (pp. 162-163). Lydia Davis translation

“I knew I hadn’t written in vain!”

A friend of mine, Dorothy Day, had been put in the women’s prison at 6th Avenue and 8th Street, for her part in a protest. Well, once a week at this place, on a Saturday, the girls were marched down for a shower. A group were being ushered in when one, a whore, loudly proclaimed:

Hundreds have lived without love,
But none without water

A line from a poem of mine which had just appeared in The New Yorker. When I heard this I knew I hadn’t written in vain!

W.H. Auden

Dirge in Woods

A wind sways the pines,
And below
Not a breath of wild air;
Still as the mosses that glow
On the flooring and over the lines
Of the roots here and there.
The pine-tree drops its dead;
They are quiet, as under the sea.
Overhead, overhead
Rushes life in a race,
As the clouds the clouds chase;
And we go,
And we drop like the fruits of the tree,
Even we,
Even so

George Meredith
https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/44698/dirge-in-woods

Lucifer in Starlight

On a starred night Prince Lucifer uprose.
Tired of his dark dominion swung the fiend
Above the rolling ball in cloud part screened,
Where sinners hugged their spectre of repose.
Poor prey to his hot fit of pride were those.
And now upon his western wing he leaned,
Now his huge bulk o’er Afric’s sands careened,
Now the black planet shadowed Arctic snows.
Soaring through wider zones that pricked his scars
With memory of the old revolt from Awe,
He reached a middle height, and at the stars,
Which are the brain of heaven, he looked, and sank.
Around the ancient track marched, rank on rank,
The army of unalterable law.

George Meredith
https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/44701/lucifer-in-starlight

Soldier from the Wars Returning – A. E. Housman

Soldier from the wars returning,
Spoiler of the taken town,
Here is ease that asks not earning;
Turn you in and sit you down.

Peace is come and wars are over,
Welcome you and welcome all,
While the charger crops the clover
And his bridle hangs in stall.

Now no more of winters biting,
Filth in trench from tall to spring,
Summers full of sweat and fighting
For the Kesar or the King.

Rest you, charger, rust you, bridle;
Kings and kesars, keep your pay;
Soldier, sit you down and idle
At the inn of night for aye.

Thinking Shakespeare

Shakespeare Unlimited: Episode 82

How do actors breathe life into Shakespeare’s texts? How do they take language that’s centuries old and make it sound so real and immediate?
Barry Edelstein, the Erna Finci Viterbi Artistic Director at The Old Globe in San Diego, is one of the nation’s most experienced Shakespeare directors. Twice a year, The Old Globe holds an event called Thinking Shakespeare Live! – a master class where you get to watch actors act and Edelstein direct – in essence, pulling back the curtain on the rehearsal room.

 

EDELSTEIN: It depends on the guy playing Marcellus doing a take after you say, “The air bites shrewdly.” So, your listeners will have to imagine that in the beat between the two halves of the line that the other guy is looking at you with a look of perplexity on his face and then you’ll get it. Go ahead.

BOGAEV: “The air bites shrewdly.”

EDELSTEIN: Huh?

BOGAEV: “It is very cold.”

EDELSTEIN: Oh. Right, so that’s, right he doesn’t say “huh” and he doesn’t say, “oh,” but there you go, that’s the idea.

BOGAEV: [LAUGH] Well, I can see it.

EDELSTEIN: Very good, see that’s it, you’re now a Shakespearean actor because we are asking ourselves, “Why am I talking this way?” And it’s never good enough to simply say, “Well, because it’s a Shakespeare play, and that’s how Shakespeare writes.” In the rehearsal room we’re trying to create human reality.

BOGAEV: So, it is this marriage of “Why am I saying these words now?” and “How is the language built?” because this is how you organize your master class, and your teaching, and I think we just talked about heightened language. You also include in these four categories “antithesis.” Now remind us what antithesis in rhetoric is.

EDELSTEIN: Antithesis is… sure. Antithesis is the big, big, big, big thing of Shakespeare. That’s the technique that he relies on really most. And antithesis is very simply opposition.

Dante’s Inferno – Nature and Art

… The second tenet is that, similarly, our human art follows nature:
l’arte vostra quella, quanto pote,
segue, come ’l maestro fa ’l discente;
sì che vostr’arte a Dio quasi è nepote. (Inf. 11.103-5)

Your art follows nature, when it can
just as a pupil imitates his master;
so that your art is almost God’s grandchild.

Digital Dante

Summertime – The Sundays

Do some people wind up with the one that they adore
In a heart-shaped hotel room it’s what a heart is for
The bubble floats so madly will it stay sky-high?
Hello partner
Kiss your name bye-bye
Sometimes…
Romantic Piscean seeks angel in disguise
Chinese-speaking girlfriend big brown eyes
Liverpudlian lady sophisticated male
Hello partner
Tell me love can’t fail
& it’s you & me in the summertime
We’ll be hand in hand down in the park
With a squeeze & a sigh & that twinkle in your eye
& all the sunshine banishes the dark
Do some people wind up with the one that they abhor
In a distant hell-hole room third world war
But all I see is films where a colourless despair
Meant angry young men with immaculate hair
Sometimes…
Get up a voice inside says there’s no time for looking down
Only a pound a word & you’re talking to the town
But how do you coin the phrase though that will set your soul apart?
Just to touch
A lonely heart
& it’s you & me in the summertime
We’ll be hand in hand down in the park
With a squeeze & a sigh & that twinkle in your eye
& all the sunshine banishes the dark
& it’s you I need in the summertime
As I turn my white skin red
Two peas from the same pod yes we are
Or have I read too much fiction?
Is this how it happens?
David Gavurin / Harriet Wheeler

Prayer of Saint Francis

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me bring love.
Where there is offense, let me bring pardon.
Where there is discord, let me bring union.
Where there is error, let me bring truth.
Where there is doubt, let me bring faith.
Where there is despair, let me bring hope.
Where there is darkness, let me bring your light.
Where there is sadness, let me bring joy.
O Master, let me not seek as much
to be consoled as to console,
to be understood as to understand,
to be loved as to love,
for it is in giving that one receives,
it is in self-forgetting that one finds,
it is in pardoning that one is pardoned,
it is in dying that one is raised to eternal life.