Francesco Petrarch |
La gola e 'l sonno e l' oziose piume.
TO A FRIEND, ENCOURAGING HIM TO PURSUE POETRY.
Torn is each virtue from its earthly throne
By sloth, intemperance, and voluptuous ease;
E'en nature deviates from her wonted ways,
Too much the slave of vicious custom grown.
Far hence is every light celestial gone,
That guides mankind through life's perplexing maze;
And those, whom Helicon's sweet waters please,
From mocking crowds receive contempt alone.
Who now would laurel, myrtle-wreaths obtain?
Let want, let shame, Philosophy attend!
Cries the base world, intent on sordid gain.
[Pg 7]What though thy favourite path be trod by few;
Let it but urge thee more, dear gentle friend!
Thy great design of glory to pursue.
Intemperance, slumber, and the slothful down
Have chased each virtue from this world away;
Hence is our nature nearly led astray
From its due course, by habitude o'erthrown;
Those kindly lights of heaven so dim are grown,
Which shed o'er human life instruction's ray;
That him with scornful wonder they survey,
Who would draw forth the stream of Helicon.
"Whom doth the laurel please, or myrtle now?
Naked and poor, Philosophy, art thou!"
The worthless crowd, intent on lucre, cries.
Few on thy chosen road will thee attend;
Yet let it more incite thee, gentle friend,
To prosecute thy high-conceived emprize.
Donald Justice |
Dear ghosts, dear presences, O my dear parents,
Why were you so sad on porches, whispering?
What great melancholies were loosed among our swings!
As before a storm one hears the leaves whispering
And marks each small change in the atmosphere,
So was it then to overhear and to fear.
But all things then were oracle and secret.
Remember the night when, lost, returning, we turned back
Confused, and our headlights singled out the fox?
Our thoughts went with it then, turning and turning back
With the same terror, into the deep thicket
Beside the highway, at home in the dark thicket.
I say the wood within is the dark wood,
Or wound no torn shirt can entirely bandage,
But the sad hand returns to it in secret
Repeatedly, encouraging the bandage
To speak of that other world we might have borne,
The lost world buried before it could be born.
Burchfield describes the pinched white souls of violets
Frothing the mouth of a derelict old mine
Just as an evil August night comes down,
All umber, but for one smudge of dusky carmine.
It is the sky of a peculiar sadness—
The other side perhaps of some rare gladness.
What is it to be happy, after all? Think
Of the first small joys.
Think of how our parents
Would whistle as they packed for the long summers,
Or, busy about the usual tasks of parents,
Smile down at us suddenly for some secret reason,
Or simply smile, not needing any reason.
But even in the summers we remember
The forest had its eyes, the sea its voices,
And there were roads no map would ever master,
Lost roads and moonless nights and ancient voices—
And night crept down with an awful slowness toward the water;
And there were lanterns once, doubled in the water.
Sadness has its own beauty, of course.
Let us say, the river darkens and look bruised,
And we stand looking out at it through rain.
It is as if life itself were somehow bruised
And tender at this hour; and a few tears commence.
Not that they are but that they feel immense.
William Topaz McGonagall |
In a little town in Devonshire, in the mellow September moonlight,
A gentleman passing along a street saw a pitiful sight,
A man bending over the form of a woman on the pavement.
He was uttering plaintive words and seemingly discontent.
"What's the matter with the woman?" asked the gentleman,
As the poor, fallen woman he did narrowly scan.
"There's something the matter, as yer honour can see,
But it's not right to prate about my wife, blame me.
"Is that really your wife?" said the gentleman.
"Yes, sor, but she looks very pale and wan.
"But surely she is much younger than you?"
"Only fourteen years, sor, that is thrue.
"It's myself that looks a deal oulder nor I really am,
Throuble have whitened my heir, my good gintleman,
Which was once as black as the wings of a crow,
And it's throuble as is dyed it as white as the snow.
Come, my dear sowl, Bridget, it's past nine o'clock,
And to see yez lying there it gives my heart a shock.
And he smoothed away the raven hair from her forehead,
And her hands hung heavily as if she had been dead.
The gentleman saw what was the matter and he sighed again,
And he said, "It's a great trial and must give you pain,
But I see you are willing to help her all you can.
But the encouraging words was not lost upon the Irishman.
"Thrial!" he echoed, "Don't mintion it, yer honour,
But the blessing of God rest upon her.
Poor crathur, she's good barrin' this one fault,
And by any one I don't like to hear her miscault.
"What was the reason of her taking to drink?"
"Bless yer honour, that's jest what I oftentimes think,
Some things is done without any rason at all,
And, sure, this one to me is a great downfall.
'Ah, Bridget, my darlin', I never dreamt ye'd come to this,"
And stooping down, her cheek he did kiss.
While a glittering tear flashed in the moonlight to the ground,
For the poor husband's grief was really profound.
"Have you any children?" asked the gentleman.
"No, yer honour, bless the Lord, contented I am,
I wouldn't have the lambs know any harm o' their mother,
Besides, sor, to me they would be a great bother.
"What is your trade, my good man?"
"Gardening, sor, and mighty fond of it I am.
Kind sor, I am out of a job and I am dying with sorrow.
"Well, you can call at my house by ten o'clock to-morrow.
"And I'll see what I can do for you.
Now, hasten home with your wife, and I bid you adieu.
But stay, my good man, I did not ask your name.
"My name is Matthew Mahoney, after Father Matthew of great fame,"
Then Mahoney stooped and lifted Bridget tenderly,
And carried her home in his arms cheerfully,
And put her to bed while he felt quite content,
Still hoping Bridget would see the folly of drinking and repent.
And at ten o'clock next morning Matthew was at Blandford Hall,
And politely for Mr Gillespie he did call,
But he was told Mrs Gillespie he would see,
And was invited into the parlour cheerfully.
And when Mrs Gillespie entered the room
She said, "Matthew Mahoney, I suppose you want to know your doom.
Well, Matthew, tell your wife to call here to-morrow.
"I'll ax her, my lady, for my heart's full of sorrow.
So Matthew got his wife to make her appearance at Blandford Hall,
And, trembling, upon Mrs Gillespie poor Bridget did call,
And had a pleasant interview with Mrs Gillespie,
And was told she was wanted for a new lodge-keeper immediately.
"But, Bridget, my dear woman, you mustn't drink any more,
For you have got a good husband you ought to adore,
And Mr Gillespie will help you, I'm sure,
Because he is very kind to deserving poor.
And Bridget's repentance was hearty and sincere,
And by the grace of God she never drank whisky, rum, or beer,
And good thoughts come into her mind of Heaven above,
And Matthew Mahoney dearly does her love.