Ralph Waldo Emerson |
EXULTING BEAUTY,phantom of an hour,
Whose magic spells enchain the heart,
Ah ! what avails thy fascinating pow'r,
Thy thrilling smile, thy witching art ?
Thy lip, where balmy nectar glows;
Thy cheek, where round the damask rose
A thousand nameless Graces move,
Thy mildly speaking azure eyes,
Thy golden hair, where cunning Love
In many a mazy ringlet lies?
Soon as thy radiant form is seen,
Thy native blush, thy timid mien,
Thy hour is past ! thy charms are vain!
ILL-NATURE haunts thee with her sallow train,
Mean JEALOUSY deceives thy list'ning ear,
And SLANDER stains thy cheek with many a bitter tear.
In calm retirement form'd to dwell,
NATURE, thy handmaid fair and kind,
For thee, a beauteous garland twin'd;
The vale-nurs'd Lily's downcast bell
Thy modest mien display'd,
The snow-drop, April's meekest child,
With myrtle blossoms undefil'd,
Thy mild and spotless mind pourtray'd;
Dear blushing maid, of cottage birth,
'Twas thine, o'er dewy meads to stray,
While sparkling health, and frolic mirth
Led on thy laughing Day.
Lur'd by the babbling tongue of FAME,
Too soon, insidious FLATT'RY came;
Flush'd VANITY her footsteps led,
To charm thee from thy blest repose,
While Fashion twin'd about thy head
A wreath of wounding woes;
See Dissipation smoothly glide,
Cold Apathy, and puny Pride,
Capricious Fortune, dull, and blind,
O'er splendid Folly throws her veil,
While Envy's meagre tribe assail
Thy gentle form, and spotless mind.
Their spells prevail! no more those eyes
Shoot undulating fires;
On thy wan cheek, the young rose dies,
Thy lip's deep tint expires;
Dark Melancholy chills thy mind;
Thy silent tear reveals thy woe;
TIME strews with thorns thy mazy way,
Where'er thy giddy footsteps stray,
Thy thoughtless heart is doom'd to find
An unrelenting foe.
'Tis thus, the infant Forest flow'r
Bespangled o'er with glitt'ring dew,
At breezy morn's refreshing hour,
Glows with pure tints of varying hue,
Beneath an aged oak's wide spreading shade,
Where no rude winds, or beating storms invade.
Transplanted from its lonely bed,
No more it scatters perfumes round,
No more it rears its gentle head,
Or brightly paints the mossy ground;
For ah! the beauteous bud, too soon,
Scorch'd by the burning eye of day;
Shrinks from the sultry glare of noon,
Droops its enamell'd brow, and blushing, dies away.
Robert Lowell |
What was is.
The boys in my old gang
are senior partners.
They start up
bald like baby birds
to embrace retirement.
At the altar of surrender
I met you
in the hour of credulity.
How your misfortune came our clearly
to us at twenty.
At the gingerbread casino
how innocent the nights we made it.
on our Vesuvio martinis
with no vermouth but vodka
to sweeten the dry gin-
the lash across my face
that night we adored.
soon every night and all
when your sweet amorous
William Cowper |
Far from the world, O Lord, I flee,
From strife and tumult far;
From scenes where Satan wages still
His most successful war.
The calm retreat, the silent shade,
With prayer and praise agree;
And seem, by Thy sweet bounty made,
For those who follow Thee.
There if Thy Spirit touch the soul,
And grace her mean abode,
Oh, with what peace, and joy, and love,
She communes with her God!
There like the nightingale she pours
Her solitary lays;
Nor asks a witness of her song,
Nor thirsts for human praise.
Author and Guardian of my life,
Sweet source of light Divine,
And, -- all harmonious names in one, --
My Saviour! Thou art mine.
What thanks I owe Thee, and what love,
A boundless, endless store,
Shall echo through the realms above,
When time shall be no more.
Philip Freneau |
A HERMIT'S house beside a stream
With forests planted round,
Whatever it to you may seem
More real happiness I deem
Than if I were a monarch crowned.
A cottage I could call my own
Remote from domes of care;
A little garden, walled with stone,
The wall with ivy overgrown,
A limpid fountain near,
Would more substantial joys afford,
More real bliss impart
Than all the wealth that misers hoard,
Than vanquished worlds, or worlds restored--
Mere cankers of the heart!
Vain, foolish man! how vast thy pride,
How little can your wants supply!--
'Tis surely wrong to grasp so wide--
You act as if you only had
To triumph--not to die!
Anne Bronte |
O, let me be alone a while,
No human form is nigh.
And may I sing and muse aloud,
No mortal ear is by.
Away! ye dreams of earthly bliss,
Ye earthly cares begone:
Depart! ye restless wandering thoughts,
And let me be alone!
One hour, my spirit, stretch thy wings,
And quit this joyless sod,
Bask in the sunshine of the sky,
And be alone with God!
William Cowper |
Fresh fields and woods! the Earth's fair face,
God's foot-stool, and man's dwelling-place.
I ask not why the first Believer
Did love to be a country liver?
Who to secure pious content
Did pitch by groves and wells his tent;
Where he might view the boundless sky,
And all those glorious lights on high;
With flying meteors, mists and show'rs,
Subjected hills, trees, meads and flow'rs;
And ev'ry minute bless the King
And wise Creator of each thing.
I ask not why he did remove
To happy Mamre's holy grove,
Leaving the cities of the plain
To Lot and his successless train?
All various lusts in cities still
Are found; they are the thrones of ill;
The dismal sinks, where blood is spill'd,
Cages with much uncleanness fill'd.
But rural shades are the sweet fense
Of piety and innocence.
They are the Meek's calm region, where
Angels descend and rule the sphere,
Where heaven lies leiger, and the dove
Duly as dew, comes from above.
If Eden be on Earth at all,
'Tis that, which we the country call.
Wang Wei |
When he was a youth of fifteen or twenty,
He chased a wild horse, he caught him and rode him,
He shot the white-browed mountain tiger,
He defied the yellow-bristled Horseman of Ye.
Fighting single- handed for a thousand miles,
With his naked dagger he could hold a multitude.
Granted that the troops of China were as swift as heaven's thunder
And that Tartar soldiers perished in pitfalls fanged with iron,
General Wei Qing's victory was only a thing of chance.
And General Li Guang's thwarted effort was his fate, not his fault.
Since this man's retirement he is looking old and worn:
Experience of the world has hastened his white hairs.
Though once his quick dart never missed the right eye of a bird,
Now knotted veins and tendons make his left arm like an osier.
He is sometimes at the road-side selling melons from his garden,
He is sometimes planting willows round his hermitage.
His lonely lane is shut away by a dense grove,
His vacant window looks upon the far cold mountains
But, if he prayed, the waters would come gushing for his men
And never would he wanton his cause away with wine.
War-clouds are spreading, under the Helan Range;
Back and forth, day and night, go feathered messages;
In the three River Provinces, the governors call young men --
And five imperial edicts have summoned the old general.
So he dusts his iron coat and shines it like snow-
Waves his dagger from its jade hilt in a dance of starry steel.
He is ready with his strong northern bow to smite the Tartar chieftain --
That never a foreign war-dress may affront the Emperor.
There once was an aged Prefect, forgotten and far away,
Who still could manage triumph with a single stroke.
Barry Tebb |
What ghosts haunt
These streets of perpetual night?
Riverbanks fractured with splinters of glass condominiums
For nouveam riche merchant bankers
Black-tied bouncers man clubland glitz casinos
Novotel, Valley Park Motel, the Hilton:
Hot tubs, saunas, swim spas, en suite
Satellite TV, conference rooms, disco dinners.
I knew Len, the tubby taxi man
With his retirement dreams of visiting
The world’s great galleries:
‘Titian, Leonardo, Goya,
I’ve lived all my life in the house I was born in
All my life I’ve saved for this trip’
The same house he was done to death in
Tortured by three fourteen year olds,
Made headlines for one night, another
Murder to add to Beeston’s five this year.
Yorkshire Forward advertises nation-wide
The north’s attractions for business expansion
Nothing fits together any more
Addicts in doorways trying to score
The new Porsches and the new poor
Air-conditioned thirty-foot limos, fibre-optic lit,
Uniformed chauffeurs fully trained in close protection
And anti-hijack techniques, simply the best –
See for yourself in mirrored ceilings.
See for yourself the screaming youth
Soaring psychotic one Sunday afternoon
Staggering round the new coach station
"I’ll beat him to death the day I see him next"
Fifty yards away Millgarth police station’s
Fifty foot banner proclaims ‘Let’s fight crime together’
I am no poet for this age
I cannot drain nostalgia from my blood
William Cowper |
Hark! 'tis the twanging horn! O'er yonder bridge,
That with its wearisome but needful length
Bestrides the wintry flood, in which the moon
Sees her unwrinkled face reflected bright,
He comes, the herald of a noisy world,
With spatter'd boots, strapp'd waist, and frozen locks;
News from all nations lumb'ring at his back.
True to his charge, the close-pack'd load behind,
Yet careless what he brings, his one concern
Is to conduct it to the destin'd inn:
And, having dropp'd th' expected bag, pass on.
He whistles as he goes, light-hearted wretch,
Cold and yet cheerful: messenger of grief
Perhaps to thousands, and of joy to some;
To him indiff'rent whether grief or joy.
Houses in ashes, and the fall of stocks,
Births, deaths, and marriages, epistles wet
With tears that trickled down the writer's cheeks
Fast as the periods from his fluent quill,
Or charg'd with am'rous sighs of absent swains,
Or nymphs responsive, equally affect
His horse and him, unconscious of them all.
But oh th' important budget! usher'd in
With such heart-shaking music, who can say
What are its tidings? have our troops awak'd?
Or do they still, as if with opium drugg'd,
Snore to the murmurs of th' Atlantic wave?
Is India free? and does she wear her plum'd
And jewell'd turban with a smile of peace,
Or do we grind her still? The grand debate,
The popular harangue, the tart reply,
The logic, and the wisdom, and the wit,
And the loud laugh--I long to know them all;
I burn to set th' imprison'd wranglers free,
And give them voice and utt'rance once again.
Now stir the fire, and close the shutters fast,
Let fall the curtains, wheel the sofa round,
And, while the bubbling and loud-hissing urn
Throws up a steamy column, and the cups,
That cheer but not inebriate, wait on each,
So let us welcome peaceful ev'ning in.
Not such his ev'ning, who with shining face
Sweats in the crowded theatre, and, squeez'd
And bor'd with elbow-points through both his sides,
Out-scolds the ranting actor on the stage:
Nor his, who patient stands till his feet throb,
And his head thumps, to feed upon the breath
Of patriots, bursting with heroic rage,
Or placemen, all tranquility and smiles.
This folio of four pages, happy work!
Which not ev'n critics criticise; that holds
Inquisitive attention, while I read,
Fast bound in chains of silence, which the fair,
Though eloquent themselves, yet fear to break;
What is it, but a map of busy life,
Its fluctuations, and its vast concerns?.
Oh winter, ruler of th' inverted year,
Thy scatter'd hair with sleet like ashes fill'd,
Thy breath congeal'd upon thy lips, thy cheeks
Fring'd with a beard made white with other snows
Than those of age, thy forehead wrapp'd in clouds,
A leafless branch thy sceptre, and thy throne
A sliding car, indebted to no wheels,
But urg'd by storms along its slipp'ry way,
I love thee, all unlovely as thou seem'st,
And dreaded as thou art! Thou hold'st the sun
A pris'ner in the yet undawning east,
Short'ning his journey between morn and noon,
And hurrying him, impatient of his stay,
Down to the rosy west; but kindly still
Compensating his loss with added hours
Of social converse and instructive ease,
And gath'ring, at short notice, in one group
The family dispers'd, and fixing thought,
Not less dispers'd by day-light and its cares.
I crown thee king of intimate delights,
Fire-side enjoyments, home-born happiness,
And all the comforts that the lowly roof
Of undisturb'd retirement, and the hours
Of long uninterrupted ev'ning, know.
No rattling wheels stop short before these gates;
No powder'd pert proficient in the art
Of sounding an alarm, assaults these doors
Till the street rings; no stationary steeds
Cough their own knell, while, heedless of the sound,
The silent circle fan themselves, and quake:
But here the needle plies its busy task,
The pattern grows, the well-depicted flow'r,
Wrought patiently into the snowy lawn,
Unfolds its bosom; buds, and leaves, and sprigs,
And curling tendrils, gracefully dispos'd,
Follow the nimble finger of the fair;
A wreath that cannot fade, or flow'rs that blow
With most success when all besides decay.
The poet's or historian's page, by one
Made vocal for th' amusement of the rest;
The sprightly lyre, whose treasure of sweet sounds
The touch from many a trembling chord shakes out;
And the clear voice symphonious, yet distinct,
And in the charming strife triumphant still;
Beguile the night, and set a keener edge
On female industry: the threaded steel
Flies swiftly, and, unfelt, the task proceeds.
The volume clos'd, the customary rites
Of the last meal commence.
A Roman meal;
Such as the mistress of the world once found
Delicious, when her patriots of high note,
Perhaps by moonlight, at their humble doors,
And under an old oak's domestic shade,
Enjoy'd--spare feast!--a radish and an egg!
Discourse ensues, not trivial, yet not dull,
Nor such as with a frown forbids the play
Of fancy, or proscribes the sound of mirth:
Nor do we madly, like an impious world,
Who deem religion frenzy, and the God
That made them an intruder on their joys,
Start at his awful name, or deem his praise
A jarring note.
Themes of a graver tone,
Exciting oft our gratitude and love,
While we retrace with mem'ry's pointing wand,
That calls the past to our exact review,
The dangers we have 'scaped, the broken snare,
The disappointed foe, deliv'rance found
Unlook'd for, life preserv'd and peace restor'd--
Fruits of omnipotent eternal love.
Oh ev'nings worthy of the gods! exclaim'd
The Sabine bard.
Oh ev'nings, I reply,
More to be priz'd and coveted than yours,
As more illumin'd, and with nobler truths.
That I, and mine, and those we love, enjoy.
Anne Kingsmill Finch |
Good Heav'n, I thank thee, since it was design'd
I shou'd be fram'd, but of the weaker kinde,
That yet, my Soul, is rescu'd from the Love
Of all those Trifles, which their Passions move.
Pleasures, and Praise, and Plenty haue with me
But their just value.
If allow'd they be,
Freely, and thankfully as much I tast,
As will not reason, or Religion wast.
If they're deny'd, I on my selfe can Liue,
And slight those aids, unequal chance does give.
When in the Sun, my wings can be display'd,
And in retirement, I can bless the shade.
Du Fu |
Boy draw water well shining
Agile container rise hand
Wet sprinkle not soak earth
Sweep surpass like without broom
Bright rosy clouds shining again pavilion
Clear mist lift high window
Lean fill cover path flower
Dance end steps willow
Difficulty world affair compel
Hide away right time after
Meet talk agree deep heart
How can all restrain mouth
Offer goodbye return cane riding crop
Temporary part end turn head
Vast expanse mud defile person
Listen country many dogs
Although not free yoke
Sometimes come rest rush about
Near you like white snow
Grasp hot upset how be
The boy draws shining water from the well,
He nimbly lifts the bucket to his hand.
He sprinkles water without soaking the earth,
And sweeps so well as if no broom had passed.
The rosy dawn again lights the pagoda,
The clearing mist lifts from the higher windows.
Leaning blossoms cover over the path,
Dancing willow leaves reach down to the steps.
I'm driven by these troublesome affairs,
Retirement from the world must be put off.
We've met and talked, our deepest hearts agreeing,
How can our mouths be forced completely shut?
I say goodbye and fetch my riding crop,
Parting for now, I turn my head at the last.
There's so much mud that can defile a man,
Just listen to all the dogs throughout the land.
Although I cannot get free from this yoke,
I'll sometimes come to rest from all the bustle.
Your presence, Abbot, acts just like white snow,
How can I be upset to grasp what's hot?
Marriott Edgar |
Sam Small had retired from the Army,
In the old Duke of Wellington's time,
So when present unpleasantness started,
He were what you might call.
past his prime.
He'd lived for some years in retirement,
And knew nowt of war, if you please,
Till they blasted and bombed his allotment,
And shelled the best part of his peas.
'T were as if bugles called Sam to duty,
For his musket he started to search,
He found it at last in the Hen house,
Buff Orpingtons had it for perch.
Straight off to the Fusilliers' depot,
He went to rejoin his old troop.
Where he found as they couldn't recruit Him,
Until his age group was called up.
Now Sam wasn't getting no younger,
Past the three score and ten years was he,
And he reckoned by time they reached his age group,
He'd be very near ten score and three.
So he took up the matter with Churchill,
Who said, "I don't know what to do,
Never was there a time when so many,
Came asking so much from so few.
"I don't want no favours" Sam answered,
"Don't think as I'm one of that mob,
All I'm asking is give me the tools, lad,
And let me help finish the job.
"I'll fit you in somewhere," said Winnie,
"Old soldiers we must not discard.
Then seeing he'd got his own musket,
He sent him to join the Home Guard.
They gave Sam a coat with no stripes on,
In spite of the service he'd seen,
Which considering he'd been a King's sergeant,
Kind of rankled.
you know what I mean.
He said "I come back to the Army,
Expecting my country's thanks,
And the first thing I find when I get here,
Is that I've been reduced to the ranks.
He found all the lads sympathetic,
They agreed that 'twere a disgrace,
Except one old chap in the corner,
With a nutcracker kind of a face.
Said the old fella, "Who do you think you are?
The last to appear on the scene,
And you start off by wanting promotion,
Last come, last served.
see what I mean?"
Said Sam, "Wasn't I at Corunna,
And when company commander got shot,
Didn't I lead battalion to victory?"
Said the old fella, "No.
you did not.
"I didn't?" said Sam quite indignent,
"Why, in every fight Wellington fought,
Wasn't I at his right hand to guard him?"
Said old chap, "You were nowt of the sort.
"What do you know of Duke and his battles?"
Said Sam, with a whithering look,
Said the old man, "I ought to know something,
Between you and me.
I'm the Duke.
And if you should look in any evening,
You'll find them both in the canteen,
Ex Commander-in-Chief and ex Sergeant,
Both just Home Guards.
you know what I mean?
Mary Darby Robinson |
LOVE, I renounce thy tyrant sway,
I mock thy fascinating art,
MINE, be the calm unruffled day,
That brings no torment to the heart;
The tranquil mind, the noiseless scene,
Where FANCY, with enchanting mien,
Shall in her right-hand lead along
The graceful patroness of Song;
Where HARMONY shall softly fling
Her light tones o'er the dulcet string;
And with her magic LYRE compose
Each pang that throbs, each pulse that glows;
Till her resistless strains dispense,
The balm of blest INDIFFERENCE.
LOVE, I defy thy vaunted pow'r!
In still Retirement's sober bow'r
I'll rest secure;no fev'rish pain
Shall dart its hot-shafts thro' my brain,
No start'ling dreams invade my mind
No spells my stagnate pulses bind;
No jealous agonies impart
Their madd'ning poisons to my heart
But sweetly lull'd to placid rest,
The sensate tenant of my breast
Shall one unshaken course pursue,
Such as thy vot'ries never knew.
SWEET SOLITUDE ! pure Nature's child,
Fair pensive daughter of the wild;
Nymph of the Forest; thee I press
My weary sick'ning soul to bless;
To give my heart the dear repose,
That smiles unmov'd at transient woes;
That shelter'd from Life's trivial cares,
Each calm delicious comfort shares;
While conscious rectitude of mind,
Blends with each thought a bliss refin'd,
And scorning fear's soul-chilling pow'r,
Dares court REFLECTION'S dang'rous hour,
To scrutinize with cautious art,
Each hidden channel of the heart.
Ah, gentle maiden, let me stray,
Where Innocence for ever gay,
Shall lead me to her loveliest bow'rs
And crown my brow with thornless flow'rs;
And strew the weedy paths of time
With Resignation's balm sublime;
While Rosy SPRING, shall smiling haste,
On light steps o'er the dewy waste,
Eager her brightest gems to shed
Around my verdant perfum'd bed;
And in her train the glowing hours
Shall bathe their wings in scented show'rs;
And shake the fost'ring drops to earth,
To nurse meek blossoms into birth;
And when autumnal zephyrs fly
Sportive, beneath the sapphire sky,
Or in the stream their pinions lave,
Or teach the golden sheaves to wave;
I'll watch the ruby eye of day
In awful lustre glide away,
And closing sink to transient rest,
On panting Ocean's pearly breast.
O SOLITUDE ! how blest the lot
Of her who shares thy silent cot!
Who with celestial peace, pursues
The pensive wand'rings of the MUSE;
To stray unseen where'er she leads,
O'er grassy hills and sunny meads,
Or at the still of Night's cold noon
To gaze upon the chilly Moon,
While PHILOMELA'S mournful Song
Meanders fairy haunts among,
To tell the hopeless LOVER'S ear,
That SYMPATHY'S FOND BIRD is near;
Whose note shall soothe his aching heart,
Whose grief shall emulate his smart;
And by its sadly proud excess,
Make every pang he suffers less;
For oft in passion's direst woes,
The veriest wretch can yield repose;
While from the voice of kindred grief,
We gain a sad, but kind relief.
AH LOVE! thou barb'rous fickle boy,
Thou semblance of delusive joy,
Too long my heart has been thy slave:
For thou hast seen me wildly rave,
And with impetuous frenzy haste,
Heedless across the thorny waste,
And drink the cold dews, ere they fell
On my bare bosom's burning swell;
When bleak the wintry whirlwinds blew;
And swift the sultry meteors flew;
Yes, thou hast seen me, tyrant pow'r,
At freezing midnight's witching hour,
Start from my couch, subdu'd, oppres'd,
While jealous anguish wrung my breast,
While round my eager senses flew,
Dark brow'd Suspicion's wily crew,
Taunting my soul with restless ire,
That set my pulsate brain on fire.
What didst thou then ? Inhuman Boy!
Didst thou not paint each well-feign'd joy,
Each artful smile, each study'd grace
That deck'd some sordid rival's face;
Didst thou not feed my madd'ning sense
With Love's delicious eloquence,
While on my ear thy accents pour'd
The voice of him my soul ador'd,
His rapt'rous toneshis strains divine,
And all those vows that once were mine.
But mild Reflection's piercing ray,
Soon chas'd the fatal dream away,
And with it all my rending woes,
While in its place majestic rose
The Angel TRUTH !her stedfast mien
Bespoke the conscious breast serene;
Her eye more radiant than the day
Beam'd with persuasion's temper'd ray;
Sweet was her voice, and while she sung
Myriads of Seraphs hover'd round,
Eager to iterate the sound,
That on her heav'n-taught accents hung.
Wond'ring I gaz'd! my throbbing breast,
Celestial energies confest;
Transports, before unfelt, unknown,
Throng'd round my bosom's tremb'ling throne,
While ev'ry nerve with rapture strange,
Seem'd to partake the blissful change.
Now with unmov'd and dauntless Eye,
I mark thy winged arrows fly;
No more thy baneful spells shall bind
The purer passions of my mind;
No more, false Love, shall jealous fears
Inflame my check with scalding tears;
Or shake my vanquish'd sense, or rend
My aching heart with poignant throes,
Or with tumultuous fevers blend,
Self-wounding, visionary woes.
No more I'll waste the midnight hour
In expectation's silent bow'r;
And musing o'er thy transcripts dear,
Efface their sorrows with a tear.
No more with timid fondness wait
Till morn unfolds her glitt'ring gate,
When thy lov'd song's seraphic sound,
Wou'd on my quiv'ring nerves rebound
With proud delight;no more thy blush
Shall o'er my cheek unbidden rush,
And scorning ev'ry strong controul,
Unveil the tumults of my soul.
No more when in retirement blest,
Shalt thou obtrude upon my rest;
And tho' encircled with delight,
Absorb my sense, obscure my sight,
Give to my eye the vacant glance,
The mien that marks the mental trance;
The fault'ring tonethe sudden start,
The trembling hand, the bursting heart;
The devious step, that strolls along
Unmindful of the gazing throng;
The feign'd indiff'rence prone to chide;
That blazonswhat it seeks to hide.
Nor do I dread thy vengeful wiles,
Thy soothing voice, thy winning smiles,
Thy trick'ling tear, thy mien forlorn,
Thy pray'r, thy sighs, thy oaths I scorn;
No more on ME thy arrows show'r,
Capricious Love! I BRAVE THY POW'R.
Katherine Philips |
I CANNOT hold, for though to write were rude,
Yet to be silent were Ingratitude,
And Folly too; for if Posterity
Should never hear of such a one as thee,
And onely know this Age's brutish fame,
They would think Vertue nothing but a Name.
And though far abler Pens must her define,
Yet her Adoption hath engaged mine:
And I must own where Merit shines so clear,
'Tis hard to write, but harder to forbear.
Sprung from an ancient and an honour'd Stem,
Who lent her lustre, and she paid it them;
Who still in great and noble things appeared,
Whom all their Country lov'd, and yet they feared.
Match'd to another good and great as they,
Who did their Country both oblige and sway.
Behold herself, who had without dispute
More then both Families could contribute.
What early Beauty Grief and Age had broke,
Her lovely Reliques and her Off-spring spoke.
She was by nature and her Parents care
A Woman long before most others are.
But yet that antedated2 season she
Improv'd to Vertue, not to Liberty.
For she was still in either state of life
Meek as a Virgin, Prudent as a Wife
And she well knew, although so young and fair,
Justly to mix Obedience Love and Care;
Whil'st to her Children she did still appear
So wisely kind, so tenderly severe,
That they from her Rule and Example brought
A native Honour, which she stampt and taught.
Nor can a single Pen enough commend
So kind a Sister and so clear a Friend.
A Wisdom from above did her secure,
Which as 'twas peaceable, was ever pure.
And if well-order'd Commonwealths must be
Patterns for every private Family,
Her House, rul'd by her hand and by her eye,
Might be a Pattern for a Monarchy.
Solomon's wisest Woman less could do;
She built her house, but this preserv'd hers too.
She was so pious that when she did die,
She scarce chang'd Place, I'm sure not Company.
Her Zeal was primitive and practick too;
She did believe, and pray, and read, and do.
A firm and equal Soul she had engrost,
Just ev'n to those that disoblig'd her most.
She grew to love those wrongs she did receive
For giving her the power to Forgive.
Her Alms I may admire, but not relate;
But her own works shall praise her in the gate.
Her Life was checquer'd with afflictive years,
And even her Comfort season'd in her Tears.
Scarce for a Husband's loss her eyes were dried,
And that loss by her Children half supplied,
When Heav'n was pleas'd not these dear Propes' afford,
But tore most off by sickness or by sword.
She, who in them could still their Father boast,
Was a fresh Widow every Son she lost.
Litigious hands did her of Right deprive,
That after all 'twas Penance to survive.
She still these Griefs hath nobly undergone,
Which few support at all, but better none.
Such a submissive Greatness who can find?
A tender Heart with so resolv'd a Mind?
But she, though sensible, was still the same,
Of a resigned Soul, untainted Fame,
Nor were her Vertues coarsly set, for she
Out-did Example in Civility.
To bestow blessings, to oblige, relieve,
Was all for which she could endure to live.
She had a joy higher in doing good,
Than they to whom the benefit accru'd.
Though none of Honour had a quicker sense,
Never had Woman more of complacence;
Yet lost it not in empty forms, but still
Her Nature noble was, her Soul gentile.
And as in Youth she did attract, (for she
The Verdure had without the Vanity)
So she in Age was mild and grave to all,
Was not morose, but was majestical.
Thus from all other Women she had skill
To draw their good, but nothing of their ill.
And since she knew the mad tumultuous World,
Saw Crowns revers'd, Temples to ruine hurl'd;
She in Retirement chose to shine and burn,
As a bright Lamp shut in some Roman Urn.
At last, when spent with sickness, grief and age,
Her Guardian Angel did her death presage:
(So that by strong impulse she chearfully
Dispensed blessings, and went home to die;
That so she might, when to that place removed,
Marry his Ashes whom she ever loved)
She dy'd, gain'd a reward, and paid a debt.
The Sun himself did never brighter set.
Happy were they that knew her and her end,
More happy they that did from her descend:
A double blessing they may hope to have,
One she convey'd to them, and one she gave.
All that are hers are therefore sure to be
Blest by Inheritance and Legacy.
A Royal Birth had less advantage been.
'Tis more to die a Saint than live a Queen.
Barry Tebb |
Memories bursting like tears or waves
On some lonely Adriatic shore
Beating again and again
Threshings of green sea foam
Flecked like the marble Leonardo
Chipped for his ‘Moses’.
And my tears came as suddenly
In that dream, criss-crossed
With memory and desire.
Grandad Nicky had worked
Down the pits for a pittance
To bring up his six children
But nothing left over for more
Than a few nuts and an orange
For six Christmas stockings
So hopefully hung, weighted by pennies,
Stretched across the black mantle.
So Lawrence-like and yet not, grandad
A strict Methodist who read only a vast Bible
Hunched in his fireside chair insisting
On chapel three times on Sundays.
Only in retirement did joy and wisdom
Enter him, abandoning chapel he took
To the Friends or Quakers as they called them then
And somehow at seventy the inner light
Gruff but kind was my impression:
He would take me for walks
Along abandoned railways to the shutdown
Pipeworks where my three uncles
Worked their early manhood through.
It would have delighted Auden and perhaps
That was the bridge between us
Though we were of different generations
And by the time I began to write he had died.
All are gone except some few who may live still
But in their dotage.
After my mother’s funeral
None wanted contact: I had been judged in my absence
And found wanting.
Durham was not my county,
Hardly my country, memories from childhood
Of Hunwick Village with its single cobbled street
Of squat stone cottages and paved yards
With earth closets and stacks of sawn logs
Perfuming the air with their sap
In a way only French poets could say
And that is why we have no word but clich?
‘Reflect’ or ‘make come alive’ or other earthbound
Anglicanisms; yet it is there in Valery Larbaud
‘J’ai senti pour la premiere fois toute la douceur de vivre’-
I experienced for the first time all the joy of living.
I quote of their plenitude to mock the absurdity
Of English poets who have no time for Francophiles
Better the ‘O altitudo’ of earlier generations –
Wallace Stevens’ "French and English
Are one language indivisible.
That scent of sawdust, the milkcart the pony pulled
Each morning over the cobbles, the earthenware jug
I carried to be filled, ladle by shining ladle,
From the great churns and there were birds singing
In the still blue over the fields beyond the village
But because I was city-bred I could not name them.
I write to please myself: ‘Only other poets read poems’