Walt Whitman |
PROUD music of the storm!
Blast that careers so free, whistling across the prairies!
Strong hum of forest tree-tops! Wind of the mountains!
Personified dim shapes! you hidden orchestras!
You serenades of phantoms, with instruments alert,
Blending, with Nature’s rhythmus, all the tongues of nations;
You chords left us by vast composers! you choruses!
You formless, free, religious dances! you from the Orient!
You undertone of rivers, roar of pouring cataracts;
You sounds from distant guns, with galloping cavalry!
Echoes of camps, with all the different bugle-calls!
Trooping tumultuous, filling the midnight late, bending me powerless,
Entering my lonesome slumber-chamber—Why have you seiz’d me?
Come forward, O my Soul, and let the rest retire;
Listen—lose not—it is toward thee they tend;
Parting the midnight, entering my slumber-chamber,
For thee they sing and dance, O Soul.
A festival song!
The duet of the bridegroom and the bride—a marriage-march,
With lips of love, and hearts of lovers, fill’d to the brim with love;
The red-flush’d cheeks, and perfumes—the cortege swarming, full of friendly
young and old,
To flutes’ clear notes, and sounding harps’ cantabile.
Now loud approaching drums!
Victoria! see’st thou in powder-smoke the banners torn but flying? the rout of the
Hearest those shouts of a conquering army?
(Ah, Soul, the sobs of women—the wounded groaning in agony,
The hiss and crackle of flames—the blacken’d ruins—the embers of cities,
The dirge and desolation of mankind.
Now airs antique and medieval fill me!
I see and hear old harpers with their harps, at Welsh festivals:
I hear the minnesingers, singing their lays of love,
I hear the minstrels, gleemen, troubadours, of the feudal ages.
Now the great organ sounds,
Tremulous—while underneath, (as the hid footholds of the earth,
On which arising, rest, and leaping forth, depend,
All shapes of beauty, grace and strength—all hues we know,
Green blades of grass, and warbling birds—children that gambol and play—the
The strong base stands, and its pulsations intermits not,
Bathing, supporting, merging all the rest—maternity of all the rest;
And with it every instrument in multitudes,
The players playing—all the world’s musicians,
The solemn hymns and masses, rousing adoration,
All passionate heart-chants, sorrowful appeals,
The measureless sweet vocalists of ages,
And for their solvent setting, Earth’s own diapason,
Of winds and woods and mighty ocean waves;
A new composite orchestra—binder of years and climes—ten-fold renewer,
As of the far-back days the poets tell—the Paradiso,
The straying thence, the separation long, but now the wandering done,
The journey done, the Journeyman come home,
And Man and Art, with Nature fused again.
Tutti! for Earth and Heaven!
The Almighty Leader now for me, for once has signal’d with his wand.
The manly strophe of the husbands of the world,
And all the wives responding.
The tongues of violins!
(I think, O tongues, ye tell this heart, that cannot tell itself;
This brooding, yearning heart, that cannot tell itself.
Ah, from a little child,
Thou knowest, Soul, how to me all sounds became music;
My mother’s voice, in lullaby or hymn;
(The voice—O tender voices—memory’s loving voices!
Last miracle of all—O dearest mother’s, sister’s, voices;)
The rain, the growing corn, the breeze among the long-leav’d corn,
The measur’d sea-surf, beating on the sand,
The twittering bird, the hawk’s sharp scream,
The wild-fowl’s notes at night, as flying low, migrating north or south,
The psalm in the country church, or mid the clustering trees, the open air camp-meeting,
The fiddler in the tavern—the glee, the long-strung sailor-song,
The lowing cattle, bleating sheep—the crowing cock at dawn.
All songs of current lands come sounding ’round me,
The German airs of friendship, wine and love,
Irish ballads, merry jigs and dances—English warbles,
Chansons of France, Scotch tunes—and o’er the rest,
Italia’s peerless compositions.
Across the stage, with pallor on her face, yet lurid passion,
Stalks Norma, brandishing the dagger in her hand.
I see poor crazed Lucia’s eyes’ unnatural gleam;
Her hair down her back falls loose and dishevell’d.
I see where Ernani, walking the bridal garden,
Amid the scent of night-roses, radiant, holding his bride by the hand,
Hears the infernal call, the death-pledge of the horn.
To crossing swords, and grey hairs bared to heaven,
The clear, electric base and baritone of the world,
The trombone duo—Libertad forever!
From Spanish chestnut trees’ dense shade,
By old and heavy convent walls, a wailing song,
Song of lost love—the torch of youth and life quench’d in despair,
Song of the dying swan—Fernando’s heart is breaking.
Awaking from her woes at last, retriev’d Amina sings;
Copious as stars, and glad as morning light, the torrents of her joy.
(The teeming lady comes!
The lustrious orb—Venus contralto—the blooming mother,
Sister of loftiest gods—Alboni’s self I hear.
I hear those odes, symphonies, operas;
I hear in the William Tell, the music of an arous’d and angry people;
I hear Meyerbeer’s Huguenots, the Prophet, or Robert;
Gounod’s Faust, or Mozart’s Don Juan.
I hear the dance-music of all nations,
The waltz, (some delicious measure, lapsing, bathing me in bliss;)
The bolero, to tinkling guitars and clattering castanets.
I see religious dances old and new,
I hear the sound of the Hebrew lyre,
I see the Crusaders marching, bearing the cross on high, to the martial clang of cymbals;
I hear dervishes monotonously chanting, interspers’d with frantic shouts, as they
around, turning always towards Mecca;
I see the rapt religious dances of the Persians and the Arabs;
Again, at Eleusis, home of Ceres, I see the modern Greeks dancing,
I hear them clapping their hands, as they bend their bodies,
I hear the metrical shuffling of their feet.
I see again the wild old Corybantian dance, the performers wounding each other;
I see the Roman youth, to the shrill sound of flageolets, throwing and catching their
As they fall on their knees, and rise again.
I hear from the Mussulman mosque the muezzin calling;
I see the worshippers within, (nor form, nor sermon, argument, nor word,
But silent, strange, devout—rais’d, glowing heads—extatic faces.
I hear the Egyptian harp of many strings,
The primitive chants of the Nile boatmen;
The sacred imperial hymns of China,
To the delicate sounds of the king, (the stricken wood and stone;)
Or to Hindu flutes, and the fretting twang of the vina,
A band of bayaderes.
Now Asia, Africa leave me—Europe, seizing, inflates me;
To organs huge, and bands, I hear as from vast concourses of voices,
Luther’s strong hymn, Eine feste Burg ist unser Gott;
Rossini’s Stabat Mater dolorosa;
Or, floating in some high cathedral dim, with gorgeous color’d windows,
The passionate Agnus Dei, or Gloria in Excelsis.
Composers! mighty maestros!
And you, sweet singers of old lands—Soprani! Tenori! Bassi!
To you a new bard, carolling free in the west,
Obeisant, sends his love.
(Such led to thee, O Soul!
All senses, shows and objects, lead to thee,
But now, it seems to me, sound leads o’er all the rest.
I hear the annual singing of the children in St.
Or, under the high roof of some colossal hall, the symphonies, oratorios of Beethoven,
The Creation, in billows of godhood laves me.
Give me to hold all sounds, (I, madly struggling, cry,)
Fill me with all the voices of the universe,
Endow me with their throbbings—Nature’s also,
The tempests, waters, winds—operas and chants—marches and dances,
Utter—pour in—for I would take them all.
Then I woke softly,
And pausing, questioning awhile the music of my dream,
And questioning all those reminiscences—the tempest in its fury,
And all the songs of sopranos and tenors,
And those rapt oriental dances, of religious fervor,
And the sweet varied instruments, and the diapason of organs,
And all the artless plaints of love, and grief and death,
I said to my silent, curious Soul, out of the bed of the slumber-chamber,
Come, for I have found the clue I sought so long,
Let us go forth refresh’d amid the day,
Cheerfully tallying life, walking the world, the real,
Nourish’d henceforth by our celestial dream.
And I said, moreover,
Haply, what thou hast heard, O Soul, was not the sound of winds,
Nor dream of raging storm, nor sea-hawk’s flapping wings, nor harsh scream,
Nor vocalism of sun-bright Italy,
Nor German organ majestic—nor vast concourse of voices—nor layers of harmonies;
Nor strophes of husbands and wives—nor sound of marching soldiers,
Nor flutes, nor harps, nor the bugle-calls of camps;
But, to a new rhythmus fitted for thee,
Poems, bridging the way from Life to Death, vaguely wafted in night air, uncaught,
Which, let us go forth in the bold day, and write.
T S (Thomas Stearns) Eliot |
There's a whisper down the line at 11.
When the Night Mail's ready to depart,
Saying "Skimble where is Skimble has he gone to hunt the thimble?
We must find him or the train can't start.
All the guards and all the porters and the stationmaster's daughters
They are searching high and low,
Saying "Skimble where is Skimble for unless he's very nimble
Then the Night Mail just can't go.
42 then the signal's nearly due
And the passengers are frantic to a man—
Then Skimble will appear and he'll saunter to the rear:
He's been busy in the luggage van!
He gives one flash of his glass-green eyes
And the signal goes "All Clear!"
And we're off at last for the northern part
Of the Northern Hemisphere!
You may say that by and large it is Skimble who's in charge
Of the Sleeping Car Express.
From the driver and the guards to the bagmen playing cards
He will supervise them all, more or less.
Down the corridor he paces and examines all the faces
Of the travellers in the First and the Third;
He establishes control by a regular patrol
And he'd know at once if anything occurred.
He will watch you without winking and he sees what you are thinking
And it's certain that he doesn't approve
Of hilarity and riot, so the folk are very quiet
When Skimble is about and on the move.
You can play no pranks with Skimbleshanks!
He's a Cat that cannot be ignored;
So nothing goes wrong on the Northern Mail
When Skimbleshanks is aboard.
Oh, it's very pleasant when you have found your little den
With your name written up on the door.
And the berth is very neat with a newly folded sheet
And there's not a speck of dust on the floor.
There is every sort of light-you can make it dark or bright;
There's a handle that you turn to make a breeze.
There's a funny little basin you're supposed to wash your face in
And a crank to shut the window if you sneeze.
Then the guard looks in politely and will ask you very brightly
"Do you like your morning tea weak or strong?"
But Skimble's just behind him and was ready to remind him,
For Skimble won't let anything go wrong.
And when you creep into your cosy berth
And pull up the counterpane,
You ought to reflect that it's very nice
To know that you won't be bothered by mice—
You can leave all that to the Railway Cat,
The Cat of the Railway Train!
In the watches of the night he is always fresh and bright;
Every now and then he has a cup of tea
With perhaps a drop of Scotch while he's keeping on the watch,
Only stopping here and there to catch a flea.
You were fast asleep at Crewe and so you never knew
That he was walking up and down the station;
You were sleeping all the while he was busy at Carlisle,
Where he greets the stationmaster with elation.
But you saw him at Dumfries, where he speaks to the police
If there's anything they ought to know about:
When you get to Gallowgate there you do not have to wait—
For Skimbleshanks will help you to get out!
He gives you a wave of his long brown tail
Which says: "I'll see you again!
You'll meet without fail on the Midnight Mail
The Cat of the Railway Train.
John Wilmot |
Nothing, thou elder brother even to shade,
That hadst a being ere the world was made,
And (well fixed) art alone of ending not afraid.
Ere time and place were, time and place were not,
When primitive Nothing Something straight begot,
Then all proceeded from the great united--What?
Something, the general attribute of all,
Severed from thee, its sole original,
Into thy boundless self must undistinguished fall.
Yet Something did thy mighty power command,
And from thy fruitful emptiness's hand,
Snatched men, beasts, birds, fire, air, and land.
Matter, the wickedest offspring of thy race,
By Form assisted, flew from thy embrace,
And rebel Light obscured thy reverend dusky face.
With Form and Matter, Time and Place did join,
Body, thy foe, with these did leagues combine
To spoil thy peaceful realm, and ruin all thy line.
But turncoat Time assists the foe in vain,
And, bribed by thee, assists thy short-lived reign,
And to thy hungry womb drives back thy slaves again.
Though mysteries are barred from laic eyes,
And the Divine alone with warrant pries
Into thy bosom, where thy truth in private lies,
Yet this of thee the wise may freely say,
Thou from the virtuous nothing takest away,
And to be part of thee the wicked wisely pray.
Great Negative, how vainly would the wise
Inquire, define, distinguish, teach, devise?
Didst thou not stand to point their dull philosophies.
Is, or is not, the two great ends of Fate,
And true or false, the subject of debate,
That perfects, or destroys, the vast designs of Fate,
When they have racked the politician's breast,
Within thy bosom most securely rest,
And, when reduced to thee, are least unsafe and best.
But Nothing, why does Something still permit
That sacred monarchs should at council sit
With persons highly thought at best for nothing fit?
Whist weighty Something modestly abstains
From princes' coffers, and from statesmen's brains,
And Nothing there like stately Nothing reigns,
Nothing, who dwellest with fools in grave disguise,
For whom they reverend shapes and forms devise,
Lawn sleeves, and furs, and gowns, when they like thee look wise.
French truth, Dutch prowess, British policy,
Hibernian learning, Scotch civility,
Spaniard's dispatch, Dane's wit are mainly seen in thee.
The great man's gratitude to his best friend,
King's promises, whore's vows, towards thee they bend,
Flow swiftly to thee, and in thee never end.
John Wilmot |
At five this morn, when Phoebus raised his head
From Thetis' lap, I raised myself from bed,
And mounting steed, I trotted to the waters
The rendesvous of fools, buffoons, and praters,
Cuckolds, whores, citizens, their wives and daughters.
My squeamish stomach I with wine had bribed
To undertake the dose that was prescribed;
But turning head, a sudden curséd view
That innocent provision overthrew,
And without drinking, made me purge and spew.
From coach and six a thing unweildy rolled,
Whose lumber, card more decently would hold.
As wise as calf it looked, as big as bully,
But handled, proves a mere Sir Nicholas Cully;
A bawling fop, a natural Nokes, and yet
He dares to censure as if he had wit.
To make him more ridiculous, in spite
Nature contrived the fool should be a knight.
Though he alone were dismal signet enough,
His train contributed to set him off,
All of his shape, all of the selfsame stuff.
No spleen or malice need on them be thrown:
Nature has done the business of lampoon,
And in their looks their characters has shown.
Endeavoring this irksome sight to balk,
And a more irksome noise, their silly talk,
I silently slunk down t' th' Lower Walk,
But often when one would Charybdis shun,
Down upon Scilla 'tis one's fate to run,
For here it was my curséd luck to find
As great a fop, though of another kind,
A tall stiff fool that walked in Spanish guise:
The buckram puppet never stirred its eyes,
But grave as owl it looked, as woodcock wise.
He scorns the empty talking of this mad age,
And speaks all proverbs, sentences, and adage;
Can with as much solemnity buy eggs
As a cabal can talk of their intrigues;
Master o' th' Ceremonies, yet can dispense
With the formality of talking sense.
From hence unto the upper walk I ran,
Where a new scene of foppery began.
A tribe of curates, priests, canonical elves,
Fit company for none besides themselves,
Were got together.
Each his distemper told,
Scurvy, stone, strangury; some were so bold
To charge the spleen to be their misery,
And on that wise disease brought infamy.
But none had modesty enough t' complain
Their want of learning, honesty, and brain,
The general diseases of that train.
These call themselves ambassadors of heaven,
And saucily pretend commissions given;
But should an Indian king, whose small command
Seldom extends beyond ten miles of land,
Send forth such wretched tools in an ambassage,
He'd find but small effects of such a message.
Listening, I found the cob of all this rabble
Pert Bays, with his importance comfortable.
He, being raised to an archdeaconry
By trampling on religion, liberty,
Was grown to great, and looked too fat and jolly,
To be disturbed with care and melancholy,
Though Marvell has enough exposed his folly.
He drank to carry off some old remains
His lazy dull distemper left in 's veins.
Let him drink on, but 'tis not a whole flood
Can give sufficient sweetness to his blood
To make his nature of his manners good.
Next after these, a fulsome Irish crew
Of silly Macs were offered to my view.
The things did talk, but th' hearing what they said
I did myself the kindness to evade.
Nature has placed these wretches beneath scorn:
They can't be called so vile as they are born.
Amidst the crowd next I myself conveyed,
For now were come, whitewash and paint being laid,
Mother and daughter, mistress and the maid,
And squire with wig and pantaloon displayed.
But ne'er could conventicle, play, or fair
For a true medley, with this herd compare.
Here lords, knights, squires, ladies and countesses,
Chandlers, mum-bacon women, sempstresses
Were mixed together, nor did they agree
More in their humors than their quality.
Here waiting for gallant, young damsel stood,
Leaning on cane, and muffled up in hood.
The would-be wit, whose business was to woo,
With hat removed and solemn scrape of shoe
Advanceth bowing, then genteelly shrugs,
And ruffled foretop into order tugs,
And thus accosts her: "Madam, methinks the weather
Is grown much more serene since you came hither.
You influence the heavens; but should the sun
Withdraw himself to see his rays outdone
By your bright eyes, they would supply the morn,
And make a day before the day be born.
With mouth screwed up, conceited winking eyes,
And breasts thrust forward, "Lord, sir!" she replies.
"It is your goodness, and not my deserts,
Which makes you show this learning, wit, and parts.
He, puzzled, butes his nail, both to display
The sparkling ring, and think what next to say,
And thus breaks forth afresh: "Madam, egad!
Your luck at cards last night was very bad:
At cribbage fifty-nine, and the next show
To make the game, and yet to want those two.
God damn me, madam, I'm the son of a whore
If in my life I saw the like before!"
To peddler's stall he drags her, and her breast
With hearts and such-like foolish toys he dressed;
And then, more smartly to expound the riddle
Of all his prattle, gives her a Scotch fiddle.
Tired with this dismal stuff, away I ran
Where were two wives, with girl just fit for man -
Short-breathed, with pallid lips and visage wan.
Some curtsies past, and the old compliment
Of being glad to see each other, spent,
With hand in hand they lovingly did walk,
And one began thus to renew the talk:
"I pray, good madam, if it may be thought
No rudeness, what cause was it hither brought
Your ladyship?" She soon replying, smiled,
"We have a good estate, but have no child,
And I'm informed these wells will make a barren
Woman as fruitful as a cony warren.
The first returned, "For this cause I am come,
For I can have no quietness at home.
My husband grumbles though we have got one,
This poor young girl, and mutters for a son.
And this is grieved with headache, pangs, and throes;
Is full sixteen, and never yet had those.
She soon replied, "Get her a husband, madam:
I married at that age, and ne'er had 'em;
Was just like her.
Steel waters let alone:
A back of steel will bring 'em better down.
And ten to one but they themselves will try
The same means to increase their family.
Poor foolish fribble, who by subtlety
Of midwife, truest friend to lechery,
Persuaded art to be at pains and charge
To give thy wife occasion to enlarge
Thy silly head! For here walk Cuff and Kick,
With brawny back and legs and potent prick,
Who more substantially will cure thy wife,
And on her half-dead womb bestow new life.
From these the waters got the reputation
Of good assistants unto generation.
Some warlike men were now got into th' throng,
With hair tied back, singing a bawdy song.
Not much afraid, I got a nearer view,
And 'twas my chance to know the dreadful crew.
They were cadets, that seldom can appear:
Damned to the stint of thirty pounds a year.
With hawk on fist, or greyhound led in hand,
The dogs and footboys sometimes they command.
But now, having trimmed a cast-off spavined horse,
With three hard-pinched-for guineas in their purse,
Two rusty pistols, scarf about the ****,
Coat lined with red, they here presume to swell:
This goes for captain, that for colonel.
So the Bear Garden ape, on his steed mounted,
No longer is a jackanapes accounted,
But is, by virtue of his trumpery, then
Called by the name of "the young gentleman.
Bless me! thought I, what thing is man, that thus
In all his shapes, he is ridiculous?
Ourselves with noise of reason we do please
In vain: humanity's our worst disease.
Thrice happy beasts are, who, because they be
Of reason void, and so of foppery.
Faith, I was so ashamed that with remorse
I used the insolence to mount my horse;
For he, doing only things fit for his nature,
Did seem to me by much the wiser creature.
Carl Sandburg |
HE lived on the wings of storm.
The ashes are in Chihuahua.
Out of Ludlow and coal towns in Colorado
Sprang a vengeance of Slav miners, Italians, Scots, Cornishmen, Yanks.
Killings ran under the spoken commands of this boy
With eighty men and rifles on a hogback mountain.
They killed swearing to remember
The shot and charred wives and children
In the burnt camp of Ludlow,
And Louis Tikas, the laughing Greek,
Plugged with a bullet, clubbed with a gun butt.
As a home war
It held the nation a week
And one or two million men stood together
And swore by the retribution of steel.
It was all accidental.
He lived flecking lint off coat lapels
Of men he talked with.
He kissed the miners’ babies
And wrote a Denver paper
Of picket silhouettes on a mountain line.
He had no mother but Mother Jones
Crying from a jail window of Trinidad:
“All I want is room enough to stand
And shake my fist at the enemies of the human race.
Named by a grand jury as a murderer
He went to Chihuahua, forgot his old Scotch name,
Smoked cheroots with Pancho Villa
And wrote letters of Villa as a rock of the people.
How can I tell how Don Magregor went?
Three riders emptied lead into him.
He lay on the main street of an inland town.
A boy sat near all day throwing stones
To keep pigs away.
The Villa men buried him in a pit
With twenty Carranzistas.
There is drama in that point…
…the boy and the pigs.
Griffith would make a movie of it to fetch sobs.
Victor Herbert would have the drums whirr
In a weave with a high fiddle-string’s single clamor.
“And the muchacho sat there all day throwing stones
To keep the pigs away,” wrote Gibbons to the Tribune.
Somewhere in Chihuahua or Colorado
Is a leather bag of poems and short stories.
Maxine Kumin |
Gassing the woodchucks didn't turn out right.
The knockout bomb from the Feed and Grain Exchange
was featured as merciful, quick at the bone
and the case we had against them was airtight,
both exits shoehorned shut with puddingstone,
but they had a sub-sub-basement out of range.
Next morning they turned up again, no worse
for the cyanide than we for our cigarettes
and state-store Scotch, all of us up to scratch.
They brought down the marigolds as a matter of course
and then took over the vegetable patch
nipping the broccoli shoots, beheading the carrots.
The food from our mouths, I said, righteously thrilling
to the feel of the .
22, the bullets' neat noses.
I, a lapsed pacifist fallen from grace
puffed with Darwinian pieties for killing,
now drew a bead on the little woodchuck's face.
He died down in the everbearing roses.
Ten minutes later I dropped the mother.
flipflopped in the air and fell, her needle teeth
still hooked in a leaf of early Swiss chard.
Another baby next.
the murderer inside me rose up hard,
the hawkeye killer came on stage forthwith.
There's one chuck left.
Old wily fellow, he keeps
me cocked and ready day after day after day.
All night I hunt his humped-up form.
I sight along the barrel in my sleep.
If only they'd all consented to die unseen
gassed underground the quiet Nazi way.
Robert William Service |
Said President MacConnachie to Treasurer MacCall:
"We ought to have a piper for our next Saint Andrew's Ball.
Yon squakin' saxophone gives me the syncopated gripes.
I'm sick of jazz, I want to hear the skirling of the pipes.
"Alas! it's true," said Tam MacCall.
"The young folk of to-day
Are fox-trot mad and dinna ken a reel from Strathspey.
Now, what we want's a kiltie lad, primed up wi' mountain dew,
To strut the floor at supper time, and play a lilt or two.
In all the North there's only one; of him I've heard them speak:
His name is Jock MacPherson, and he lives on Boulder Creek;
An old-time hard-rock miner, and a wild and wastrel loon,
Who spends his nights in glory, playing pibrochs to the moon.
I'll seek him out; beyond a doubt on next Saint Andrew's night
We'll proudly hear the pipes to cheer and charm our appetite.
Oh lads were neat and lassies sweet who graced Saint Andrew's Ball;
But there was none so full of fun as Treasurer MacCall.
And as Maloney's rag-time bank struck up the newest hit,
He smiled a smile behind his hand, and chuckled: "Wait a bit.
And so with many a Celtic snort, with malice in his eye,
He watched the merry crowd cavort, till supper time drew nigh.
Then gleefully he seemed to steal, and sought the Nugget Bar,
Wherein there sat a tartaned chiel, as lonely as a star;
A huge and hairy Highlandman as hearty as a breeze,
A glass of whisky in his hand, his bag-pipes on his knees.
"Drink down your doch and doris, Jock," cried Treasurer MacCall;
"The time is ripe to up and pipe; they wait you in the hall.
Gird up your loins and grit your teeth, and here's a pint of hooch
To mind you of your native heath - jist pit it in your pooch.
Play on and on for all you're worth; you'll shame us if you stop.
Remember you're of Scottish birth - keep piping till you drop.
Aye, though a bunch of Willie boys should bluster and implore,
For the glory of the Highlands, lad, you've got to hold the floor.
The dancers were at supper, and the tables groaned with cheer,
When President MacConnachie exclaimed: "What do I hear?
Methinks it's like a chanter, and its coming from the hall.
"It's Jock MacPherson tuning up," cried Treasurer MacCall.
So up they jumped with shouts of glee, and gaily hurried forth.
Said they: "We never thought to see a piper in the North.
Aye, all the lads and lassies braw went buzzing out like bees,
And Jock MacPherson there they saw, with red and rugged knees.
Full six foot four he strode the floor, a grizzled son of Skye,
With glory in his whiskers and with whisky in his eye.
With skelping stride and Scottish pride he towered above them all:
"And is he no' a bonny sight?" said Treasurer MacCall.
While President MacConnachie was fairly daft with glee,
And there was jubilation in the Scottish Commy-tee.
But the dancers seemed uncertain, and they signified their doubt,
By dashing back to eat as fast as they had darted out.
And someone raised the question 'twixt the coffee and the cakes:
"Does the Piper walk to get away from all the noise he makes?"
Then reinforced with fancy food they slowly trickled forth,
And watching in patronizing mood the Piper of the North.
Proud, proud was Jock MacPherson, as he made his bag-pipes skirl,
And he set his sporran swinging, and he gave his kilts a whirl.
And President MacConnachie was jumping like a flea,
And there was joy and rapture in the Scottish Commy-tee.
"Jist let them have their saxophones wi' constipated squall;
We're having Heaven's music now," said Treasurer MacCall.
But the dancers waxed impatient, and they rather seemed to fret
For Maloney and the jazz of his Hibernian Quartette.
Yet little recked the Piper, as he swung with head on high,
Lamenting with MacCrimmon on the heather hills of Skye.
With Highland passion in his heart he held the centre floor;
Aye, Jock MacPherson played as he had never played before.
Maloney's Irish melodists were sitting in their place,
And as Maloney waited, there was wonder in his face.
'Twas sure the gorgeous music - Golly! wouldn't it be grand
If he could get MacPherson as a member of his band?
But the dancers moped and mumbled, as around the room they sat:
"We paid to dance," they grumbled; "But we cannot dance to that.
Of course we're not denying that it's really splendid stuff;
But it's mighty satisfying - don't you think we've had enough?"
"You've raised a pretty problem," answered Treasurer MacCall;
"For on Saint Andrew's Night, ye ken, the Piper rules the Ball.
Said President MacConnachie: "You've said a solemn thing.
Tradition holds him sacred, and he's got to have his fling.
But soon, no doubt, he'll weary out.
Have patience; bide a wee.
Respect the Piper," said the Scottish Commy-tee.
And so MacPherson stalked the floor, and fast the moments flew,
Till half an hour went past, as irritation grew and grew.
Then the dancers held a council, and with faces fiercely set,
They hailed Maloney, heading his Hibernian Quartette:
"It's long enough, we've waited.
Come on, Mike, play up the Blues.
And Maloney hesitated, but he didn't dare refuse.
So banjo and piano, and guitar and saxophone
Contended with the shrilling of the chanter and the drone;
And the women's ears were muffled, so infernal was the din,
But MacPherson was unruffled, for he knew that he would win.
Then two bright boys jazzed round him, and they sought to play the clown,
But MacPherson jolted sideways, and the Sassenachs went down.
And as if it was a signal, with a wild and angry roar,
The gates of wrath were riven - yet MacPherson held the floor.
Aye, amid the rising tumult, still he strode with head on high,
With ribbands gaily streaming, yet with battle in his eye.
Amid the storm that gathered, still he stalked with Highland pride,
While President and Treasurer sprang bravely to his side.
And with ire and indignation that was glorious to see,
Around him in a body ringed the Scottish Commy-tee.
Their teeth were clenched with fury; their eyes with anger blazed:
"Ye manna touch the Piper," was the slogan that they raised.
Then blows were struck, and men went down; yet 'mid the rising fray
MacPherson towered in triumph - and he never ceased to play.
Alas! his faithful followers were but a gallant few,
And faced defeat, although they fought with all the skill they knew.
For President MacConnachie was seen to slip and fall,
And o'er his prostrate body stumbled Treasurer MacCall.
And as their foes with triumph roared, and leagured them about,
It looked as if their little band would soon be counted out.
For eyes were black and noses red, yet on that field of gore,
As resolute as Highland rock - MacPherson held the floor.
Maloney watched the battle, and his brows were bleakly set,
While with him paused and panted his Hibernian Quartette.
For sure it is an evil spite, and breaking to the heart,
For Irishman to watch a fight and not be taking part.
Then suddenly on high he soared, and tightened up his belt:
"And shall we see them crush," he roared, "a brother and a Celt?
A fellow artiste needs our aid.
Come on, boys, take a hand.
Then down into the mêlée dashed Maloney and his band.
Now though it was Saint Andrew's Ball, yet men of every race,
That bow before the Great God Jazz were gathered in that place.
Yea, there were those who grunt: "Ya! Ya!" and those who squeak: "We! We!"
Likewise Dutch, Dago, Swede and Finn, Polack and Portugee.
Yet like ripe grain before the gale that national hotch-potch
Went down before the fury of the Irish and the Scotch.
Aye, though they closed their gaping ranks and rallied to the fray,
To the Shamrock and the Thistle went the glory of the day.
You should have seen the carnage in the drooling light of dawn,
Yet 'mid the scene of slaughter Jock MacPherson playing on.
Though all lay low about him, yet he held his head on high,
And piped as if he stood upon the caller crags of Skye.
His face was grim as granite, and no favour did he ask,
Though weary were his mighty lungs and empty was his flask.
And when a fallen foe wailed out: "Say! when will you have done?"
MacPherson grinned and answered: "Hoots! She's only ha'f begun.
Aye, though his hands were bloody, and his knees were gay with gore,
A Grampian of Highland pride - MacPherson held the floor.
And still in Yukon valleys where the silent peaks look down,
They tell of how the Piper was invited up to town,
And he went in kilted glory, and he piped before them all,
But wouldn't stop his piping till he busted up the Ball.
Of that Homeric scrap they speak, and how the fight went on,
With sally and with rally till the breaking of the dawn.
And how the Piper towered like a rock amid the fray,
And the battle surged about him, but he never ceased to play.
Aye, by the lonely camp-fires, still they tell the story o'er-
How the Sassenach was vanquished and - MacPherson held the floor.
Charles Bukowski |
she was hot, she was so hot
I didn't want anybody else to have her,
and if I didn't get home on time
she'd be gone, and I couldn't bear that-
I'd go mad.
it was foolish I know, childish,
but I was caught in it, I was caught.
I delivered all the mail
and then Henderson put me on the night pickup run
in an old army truck,
the damn thing began to heat halfway through the run
and the night went on
me thinking about my hot Miriam
and jumping in and out of the truck
the engine continuing to heat up
the temperature needle was at the top
leaped in and out
3 more pickups and into the station
I'd be, my car
waiting to get me to Miriam who sat on my blue couch
with scotch on the rocks
crossing her legs and swinging her ankles
like she did,
2 more stops.
the truck stalled at a traffic light, it was hell
kicking it over
I had to be home by 8,8 was the deadline for Miriam.
I made the last pickup and the truck stalled at a signal
1/2 block from the station.
it wouldn't start, it couldn't start.
I locked the doors, pulled the key and ran down to the
I threw the keys down.
your goddamned truck is stalled at the signal,
Pico and Western.
I ran down the hall,put the key into the door,
her drinking glass was there, and a note:
sun of a *****:
I waited until 5 after ate
you don't love me
you sun of a *****
somebody will love me
I been wateing all day
I poured a drink and let the water run into the tub
there were 5,000 bars in town
and I'd make 25 of them
looking for Miriam
her purple teddy bear held the note
as he leaned against a pillow
I gave the bear a drink, myself a drink
and got into the hot
Barry Tebb |
THE KINGDOM OF MY HEART
The halcyon settled on the Aire of our days
Kingfisher-blue it broke my heart in two
Shall I forget you? Shall I forget you?
I am the mad poet first love
You never got over
You are my blue-eyed
Madonna virgin bride
I shall carve ‘MG loves BT’
On the bark of every
Wind-bent tree in
East End Park
The park itself will blossom
And grow in chiaroscuro
The Victorian postcard’s view
Of avenue upon avenue
With palms and pagodas
Lakes and waterfalls and
A fountain from Versailles.
You shall be my queen
In the Kingdom of Deira
Land of many rivers
Aire the greatest
Isara the strong one
Robed in stillness
Wide, deep and dark.
In Middleton Woods
Margaret and I played
Truth or dare
She bared her breasts
To the watching stars.
Nancy chanted at
Ten in the binyard
Touching her ****,
Her ****, her bum,
Margaret joined in
Chanting in unison.
The skipping rope
And faster, slapping
The hot pavement,
In rhythm, never
Missing a beat,
Lifting the pleat
Of her skirt
Whirling and twirling.
Giggling and red
In a whisper
“When we were
Playing at Nancy’s
She pushed a spill
Of paper up her
She said she’d
Let you watch
If you wanted.
Margaret, this Saturday morning in June
There is a queue at the ‘Princess’ for
The matin?e, down the alley by the blank
Concrete of the cinema’s side I hide
With you, we are counting our picture
Money, I am counting the stars in your
Hair, bound with a cheap plastic comb.
You have no idea of my need for you
A lifetime long, every wrong decision
I made betrayed my need; forty years on
Hear my song and take my hand and move
Us to the house of love where we belong.
Margaret we sat in the cinema dark
Warm with the promise of a secret kiss
The wall lights glowed amber on the
Crumbling plaster, we looked with longing
At the love seats empty in the circle,
Vowing we would share one.
There is shouting and echoes
Of wild splashing from York
Road baths; forty years on
It stirs my memory and
Will not be gone.
The ghosts of tramtracks
Light up lanes
In Leeds Ten.
In Leeds Nine.
Motorways have cut
The city’s heart
In two; Margaret,
Our home lies buried
Under sixteen feet
Our families moved
And we were lost
I was not there to hear
The whispered secret
Of your first period.
God is courage’s infinite ground
Tillich said; God, give me enough
To stand another week without her
Every day gets longer, every sleep
Why can’t I find you,
Bind your straw-gold hair
The colour of lank
Under the stone canopy
Of the Grand Arcade
I pass Europa Nightclub;
In black designer glass
I watch the faces pass
But none is like your’s,
No voice, no eyes,
No smile at all
From Kirkstall Lock
The rhubarb crop
To Knostrop’s forcing sheds
The roots ploughed up
Arranged in beds
Of perfect darkness
Where the buds burst
With a pip, rich pink
Stalks and yellow leaves
Keep the colour right
So every night the
Could go from Leeds
To Covent Garden.
The smell of Saturday morning
Is the smell of freedom
How the bounds may grow
Slowly slowly as I go.
White donkey stone”
Auntie Nellie scoured
Her door step, polished
The brass knocker
Till I saw my face
Bunched like a fist
Complete with goggles
Grinning like a monkey
In a mile of mirrors.
Every door step had a stop
A half-stone iron weight
To hold it back and every
Step was edged with donkey
Stone in yellow or white
From the ragman or the potman
With his covered cart jingling
Jangling as it jerked hundreds
Of cups on hooks pint and
Half pint mugs and stacks of
We heard him a mile off
Nights in summer when
He trundled round the
Corner over the cobbles
Jamming the wood brake
Blocks whoaing the horses
With their gleaming brasses
And our mams were always
Waiting where he stopped.
Double summer-time made
The nights go on for ever
And no-one cared any more
How long we played what
Or where and we were left
Alone and that’s all I wanted
Then or now to be left alone
Never to be called in from
The Hollows never to be
Called from Margaret.
City of back-to-backs
From Armley Heights
Laid out in rows
Like trees or grass
I watch you pass.
The Aire is slow and almost
In the Bridgefield
The Joshua Tetley clock
Over the Atkinson Grimshaw
Is stopped at nineteen fifty
The year I left.
Grimshaw’s home was
Half a mile away
In Knostrop Hall
Margaret and I
Climbed the ruined
Walls her hair was
Blowing in the wind
Her eyes were stars
In the green night
Her hands were holding
Half a century later
I look out over Leeds Nine
What little’s left is broken
Or changed Saturday night
Is silent and empty
The paths over the Hollows
Deserted the bell
On a single bush
The yellow roses blush
Pink in the amber light
Night settles on the
Fewstons and the Copperfields
No mothers’ voices calling us.
Lilac and velvet clover
Grew all over the Hollows
It was all the luck
We knew and when we left
Our luck went too.
Leeds Town Hall
Built with it
Soaks up the fog
Is sealed with smog
White lions’ paws
Were soft their
Smiles like your’s.
Narrow lanes, steep inclines,
Steps, blank walls, tight
And secret openings’
The lanes are your hips
The inclines the lines
Of your thighs, the steps
Your breasts, blank walls
Your buttocks, tight and
Secret openings your
Taut vagina’s lips.
There is a keening and a honing
And a winnowing in the wind
I am the surge and flow
In Winwaed’s water the last breath
Of Elmete’s King.
I am Penda crossing the Aire
Camping at Killingbeck
Conquered by Aethalwald
Ruler of Deira.
Life is a bird hovering
In the Hall of the King
Between darkness and darkness flickering
The stone of Scone at last lifted
And borne on the wind, Dunedin, take it
Hold it hard and fast its light
Is leaping it is freedom’s
Touchstone and firestone.
Eir, Ayer or Aire
I’ll still be there
Your wanderings off course
Old Ea, Old Eye, Dead Eye
Make no difference to me.
Eg-an island - is Aire’s
True source, names
Not places matter
With the risings
Of a river
I’ll make my own way
Free, going down river
To the far-off sea.
Poetry is my business, my affair.
My cri-de-coeur, jongleur
Of Mercia and Elmete, Margaret,
Open your door I am heaping
Imbroglios of stars on the floor
Meet me by the Office Lock
At midnight or by the Town Hall Clock.
Nennius nine times have I knocked
On the door of your grave, nine times
More have I made Pilgrimage to Elmete’s
Wood where long I lay by beck and bank
Waiting for your tongue to flame
With Pentecostal fire.
Margaret you rode in the hollow of my hand
In the harp of my heart, searching for you
I wandered in Kirkgate Market’s midnight
Down avenues of shuttered stalls, our secrets
Kept through all the years.
From the Imperial on Beeston Hill
I watch the city spill glass towers
Of light over the horizon’s rim.
The railyard’s straights
Are buckled plates
Red bricks for aggregate
All lost like me
Ledsham and Ledston
Both belong to Leeds
But Ledston Luck
Is where Aire leads.
Held of the Crown
By seven thanes
In Saxon times
‘In regione Loidis’
All my needs.
A horse shoe stuck for luck
Behind a basement window:
Margaret, now we’ll see
What truth there is
In dreams and poetry!
I am at one with everyone
There is poetry
Falling from the air
And you have put it there.
The sign for John Eaton Street
Is planted in the back garden
Of the transport caf? between
The strands of a wire mesh fence
Straddling the cobbles of a street
That is no more, a washing line
And an abandoned caravan.
‘This open land to let’
Is what you get on the Hollows
Thousands of half-burned tyres
The rusty barrel of a Trumix lorry
Concrete slabs, foxgloves and condoms,
The Go-Kart Arena’s signboards,
Half the wall of Ellerby Lane School.
There is a mermaid singing
On East Street on an IBM poster
Her hair is lack-lustre
Her breasts are facing the camera
Her tail is like a worn-out brush.
Blind black walls
In black-leaded grates.
Hunslet de Ledes
Hop-scotch, hide and seek,
Not one tree in Hunslet
Except in the cemetery
The lake filled in
For fifty years,
The bluebell has rung
Its last perfumed peal.
I couldn’t play out on Sunday
Mam and dad thought us a cut
Above the rest, it was another
Test I failed, keeping me and
Margaret apart was like the Aztecs
Tearing the heart from the living flesh.
Father, your office job
Didn’t save you
From the drugs
They never gave you.
Isaiah, my son,
You made it back
From Balliol to Beeston
At a run via the
Playing fields of Eton.
There is a keening and a honing
And a winnowing in the wind
Winwaed’s water with red bluid blent.
Anne Sexton |
Loving me with my shows off
means loving my long brown legs,
sweet dears, as good as spoons;
and my feet, those two children
let out to play naked.
No longer bound.
And what's more, see toenails and
all ten stages, root by root.
All spirited and wild, this little
piggy went to market and this little piggy
Long brown legs and long brown toes.
Further up, my darling, the woman
is calling her secrets, little houses,
little tongues that tell you.
There is no one else but us
in this house on the land spit.
The sea wears a bell in its navel.
And I'm your barefoot wench for a
Do you care for salami?
You'd rather not have a scotch?
You don't really drink.
The gulls kill fish,
crying out like three-year-olds.
The surf's a narcotic, calling out,
I am, I am, I am
all night long.
I drum up and down your back.
In the morning I run from door to door
of the cabin playing chase me.
Now you grab me by the ankles.
Now you work your way up the legs
and come to pierce me at my hunger mark