Pam Ayres |
Yes, I’ll marry you, my dear.
And here’s the reason why.
So I can push you out of bed
When the baby starts to cry.
And if we hear a knocking
And it’s creepy and it’s late,
I hand you the torch you see,
And you investigate.
Yes I’ll marry you, my dear,
You may not apprehend it,
But when the tumble-drier goes
It’s you that has to mend it.
You have to face the neighbour
Should our labrador attack him,
And if a drunkard fondles me
It’s you that has to whack him.
Yes, I’ll marry you,
You’re virile and you’re lean,
My house is like a pigsty
You can help to keep it clean.
That sexy little dinner
Which you served by candlelight,
As I do chipolatas,
You can cook it every night!!!
It’s you who has to work the drill
And put up curtain track,
And when I’ve got PMT it’s you who gets the flak,
I do see great advantages,
But none of them for you,
And so before you see the light,
I DO, I DO, I DO!!
© Pam Ayres 2012
Percy Bysshe Shelley |
O thou, who plum'd with strong desire
Wouldst float above the earth, beware!
A Shadow tracks thy flight of fire--
Night is coming!
Bright are the regions of the air,
And among the winds and beams
It were delight to wander there--
Night is coming!SECOND SPIRIT
The deathless stars are bright above;
If I would cross the shade of night,
Within my heart is the lamp of love,
And that is day!
And the moon will smile with gentle light
On my golden plumes where'er they move;
The meteors will linger round my flight,
And make night day.
But if the whirlwinds of darkness waken
Hail, and lightning, and stormy rain;
See, the bounds of the air are shaken--
Night is coming!
The red swift clouds of the hurricane
Yon declining sun have overtaken,
The clash of the hail sweeps over the plain--
Night is coming!SECOND SPIRIT
I see the light, and I hear the sound;
I'll sail on the flood of the tempest dark,
With the calm within and the light around
Which makes night day:
And thou, when the gloom is deep and stark,
Look from thy dull earth, slumber-bound,
My moon-like flight thou then mayst mark
On high, far away.
Some say there is a precipice
Where one vast pine is frozen to ruin
O'er piles of snow and chasms of ice
Mid Alpine mountains;
And that the languid storm pursuing
That winged shape, for ever flies
Round those hoar branches, aye renewing
Its aëry fountains.
Some say when nights are dry and dear,
And the death-dews sleep on the morass,
Sweet whispers are heard by the traveller,
Which make night day:
And a silver shape like his early love doth pass
Upborne by her wild and glittering hair,
And when he awakes on the fragrant grass,
He finds night day.
Rudyard Kipling |
So here's your Empire.
No more wine, then?
We'll clear the Aides and khitmatgars away.
(You'll know that fat old fellow with the knife --
He keeps the Name Book, talks in English too,
And almost thinks himself the Government.
O Youth, Youth, Youth! Forgive me, you're so young.
Forty from sixty -- twenty years of work
And power to back the working.
Ay def mi!
You want to know, you want to see, to touch,
And, by your lights, to act.
I wonder can I help you.
Let me try.
You saw -- what did you see from Bombay east?
Enough to frighten any one but me?
Neat that! It frightened Me in Eighty-Four!
You shouldn't take a man from Canada
And bid him smoke in powder-magazines;
Nor with a Reputation such as -- Bah!
That ghost has haunted me for twenty years,
My Reputation now full blown -- Your fault --
Yours, with your stories of the strife at Home,
Who's up, who's down, who leads and who is led --
One reads so much, one hears so little here.
Well, now's your turn of exile.
I go back
To Rome and leisure.
All roads lead to Rome,
Or books -- the refuge of the destitute.
When you .
that brings me back to India.
Egypt served my turn.
You'll never plumb the Oriental mind,
And if you did it isn't worth the toil.
Think of a sleek French priest in Canada;
Divide by twenty half-breeds.
By twice the Sphinx's silence.
There's your East,
And you're as wise as ever.
So am I.
Accept on trust and work in darkness, strike
At venture, stumble forward, make your mark,
(It's chalk on granite), then thank God no flame
Leaps from the rock to shrivel mark and man.
I'm clear -- my mark is made.
Three months of drought
Had ruined much.
It rained and washed away
The specks that might have gathered on my Name.
I took a country twice the size of France,
And shuttered up one doorway in the North.
I stand by those.
You'll find that both will pay,
I pledged my Name on both -- they're yours to-night.
Hold to them -- they hold fame enough for two.
I'm old, but I shall live till Burma pays.
Men there -- not German traders -- Crsthw-te knows --
You'll find it in my papers.
For the North
Guns always -- quietly -- but always guns.
You've seen your Council? Yes, they'll try to rule,
And prize their Reputations.
Have you met
A grim lay-reader with a taste for coins,
And faith in Sin most men withhold from God?
He's gone to England.
R-p-n knew his grip
A Council always has its H-pes.
They look for nothing from the West but Death
Or Bath or Bournemouth.
Here's their ground.
Until the middle classes take them back,
One of ten millions plus a C.
Or drop in harness.
Legion of the Lost?
Not altogether -- earnest, narrow men,
But chiefly earnest, and they'll do your work,
And end by writing letters to the Times,
(Shall I write letters, answering H-nt-r -- fawn
With R-p-n on the Yorkshire grocers? Ugh!)
They have their Reputations.
Look to one --
I work with him -- the smallest of them all,
White-haired, red-faced, who sat the plunging horse
Out in the garden.
He's your right-hand man,
And dreams of tilting W-ls-y from the throne,
But while he dreams gives work we cannot buy;
He has his Reputation -- wants the Lords
By way of Frontier Roads.
Meantime, I think,
He values very much the hand that falls
Upon his shoulder at the Council table --
Hates cats and knows his business; which is yours.
Your business! twice a hundered million souls.
Your business! I could tell you what I did
Some nights of Eighty-Five, at Simla, worth
A Kingdom's ransom.
When a big ship drives,
God knows to what new reef the man at the whee!
Prays with the passengers.
They lose their lives,
Or rescued go their way; but he's no man
To take his trick at the wheel again -- that's worse
Well, a galled Mashobra mule
(You'll see Mashobra) passed me on the Mall,
And I was -- some fool's wife and ducked and bowed
To show the others I would stop and speak.
Then the mule fell -- three galls, a hund-breadth each,
Behind the withers.
Leers at the mule and me by turns, thweet thoul!
"How could they make him carry such a load!"
I saw -- it isn't often I dream dreams --
More than the mule that minute -- smoke and flame
From Simla to the haze below.
You'll dream dreams before you've done.
You've youth, that's one -- good workmen -- that means two
Fair chances in your favor.
Fate's the third.
I know what I did.
Do you ask me, "Preach"?
I answer by my past or else go back
To platitudes of rule -- or take you thus
In confidence and say: "You know the trick:
You've governed Canada.
And all the while commend you to Fate's hand
(Here at the top on loses sight o' God),
Commend you, then, to something more than you --
The Other People's blunders and
I'd agonize to serve you if I could.
It's incommunicable, like the cast
That drops the tackle with the gut adry.
Too much -- too little -- there's your salmon lost!
And so I tell you nothing --with you luck,
And wonder -- how I wonder! -- for your sake
And triumph for my own.
You're young, you're young,
You hold to half a hundred Shibboleths.
I followed Power to the last,
Gave her my best, and Power followed Me.
It's worth it -- on my sould I'm speaking plain,
Here by the claret glasses! -- worth it all.
I gave -- no matter what I gave -- I win.
I know I win.
Mine's work, good work that lives!
A country twice the size of France -- the North
That's my record: sink the rest
And better if you can.
The Rains may serve,
Rupees may rise -- three pence will give you Fame --
It's rash to hope for sixpence -- If they rise
Get guns, more guns, and lift the salt-tax.
I told you what the Congress meant or thought?
I'll answer nothing.
Half a year will prove
The full extent of time and thought you'll spare
Ask a Lady Doctor once
How little Begums see the light -- deduce
Thence how the True Reformer's child is born.
It's interesting, curious .
I told the Turk he was a gentlman.
I told the Russian that his Tartar veins
Bled pure Parisian ichor; and he purred.
The Congress doesn't purr.
I think it swears.
You're young -- you'll swear to ere you've reached the end.
The End! God help you, if there be a God.
(There must be one to startle Gl-dst-ne's soul
In that new land where all the wires are cut.
And Cr-ss snores anthems on the asphodel.
God help you! And I'd help you if I could,
But that's beyond me.
Yes, your speech was crude.
Sound claret after olives -- yours and mine;
But Medoc slips into vin ordinaire.
(I'll drink my first at Genoa to your health.
Raise it to Hock.
You'll never catch my style.
And, after all, the middle-classes grip
The middle-class -- for Brompton talk Earl's Court.
Perhaps you're right.
I'll see you in the Times --
A quarter-column of eye-searing print,
A leader once a quarter -- then a war;
The Strand abellow through the fog: "Defeat!"
"'Orrible slaughter!" While you lie awake
Oh, you'll wonder ere you're free!
I wonder now.
The four years slide away
So fast, so fast, and leave me here alone.
R-y, C-lv-n, L-l, R-b-rts, B-ck, the rest,
Princes and Powers of Darkness troops and trains,
(I cannot sleep in trains), land piled on land,
Whitewash and weariness, red rockets, dust,
White snows that mocked me, palaces -- with draughts,
And W-stl-nd with the drafts he couldn't pay,
Poor W-ls-n reading his obituary.
Before he died, and H-pe, the man with bones,
And A-tch-s-n a dripping mackintosh
At Council in the Rains, his grating "Sirrr"
Half drowned by H-nt-r's silky: "Bat my lahnd.
Hunterian always: M-rsh-l spinning plates
Or standing on his head; the Rent Bill's roar,
A hundred thousand speeches, must red cloth,
And Smiths thrice happy if I call them Jones,
(I can't remember half their names) or reined
My pony on the Mall to greet their wives.
More trains, more troops, more dust, and then all's done.
Four years, and I forget.
If I forget
How will they bear me in their minds? The North
Safeguarded -- nearly (R-b-rts knows the rest),
A country twice the size of France annexed.
That stays at least.
The rest may pass -- may pass --
Your heritage -- and I can teach you nought.
"High trust," "vast honor," "interests twice as vast,"
"Due reverence to your Council" -- keep to those.
I envy you the twenty years you've gained,
But not the five to follow.
What's that? One?
Two! -- Surely not so late.
Chris Tusa |
after Susan Thomas
Truth is, my life was no fairytale,
that afternoon, I lay, a smiling corpse
under a glass sky, a rotten apple
lodged in my throat like a black lump
of cancer, your sloppy kiss dying on my lips.
Did you really believe a kiss could cure
the poison galloping through my veins,
as you stood there, with your ugly white horse,
the voices of dwarfs buzzing like flies
in the apple-scented air?
I wish you could see me now,
how I take to the sky, a witch
without a broom, an empty black silhouette
with stars for teeth, spooking deer
into briar patches, swallowing the shadows of trees.
I wish I could slip into my beautiful white flesh,
just once, my pretty white feet stuffed into black slippers,
my poisoned-breath fogging up the smiling mirror.
If only you could see the light pouring from my skin.
If only you could hear the songs my bones sing.
Isaac Watts |
The books of nature and of Scripture compared.
THE heav'ns declare thy glory, Lord,
In every star thy wisdom shines
But when our eyes behold thy word,
We read thy name in fairer lines.
The rolling sun, the changing light,
And nights and days, thy power confess
But the blest volume thou hast writ
Reveals thy justice and thy grace.
Sun, moon, and stars convey thy praise
Round the whole earth, and never stand:
So when thy truth begun its race,
It touched and glanced on every land.
Nor shall thy spreading gospel rest
Till through the world thy truth has run,
Till Christ has all the nations blest
That see the light or feel the sun.
Great Sun of Righteousness, arise,
Bless the dark world with heav'nly light;
Thy gospel makes the simple wise,
Thy laws are pure, thy judgments right.
Thy noblest wonders here we view
In souls renewed and sins forgiv'n;
Lord, cleanse my sins, my soul renew,
And make thy word my guide to heaven.
Amy Lowell |
Reign of Louis Philippe
A great tall column spearing at the sky
With a little man on top.
Goodness! Tell me
He looks a silly thing enough to stand up there so high.
What a strange fellow, like a soldier in a play,
Tight-fitting coat with the tails cut away,
High-crowned hat which the brims overlay.
Two-horned hat makes an outline like a bow.
Must have a sword, I can see the light glow
Between a dark line and his leg.
I get gazing up at him, a pygmy flashed with sun.
A weathercock or scarecrow or both things in one?
As bright as a jewelled crown hung above a throne.
Say, what is the use of him if he doesn't turn?
Just put up to glitter there, like a torch to burn,
A sort of sacrificial show in a lofty urn?
But why a little soldier in an obsolete dress?
I'd rather see a Goddess with a spear, I confess.
Something allegorical and fine.
Why, yes --
I cannot take my eyes from him.
know why at all.
I've looked so long the whole thing swims.
I feel he
ought to fall.
Foreshortened there among the clouds he's pitifully small.
What do you say? There used to be an
Emperor standing there,
With flowing robes and laurel crown.
Those spiral battles round the shaft don't seem just his affair.
A togaed, laurelled man's I mean.
this chap seems to feel
As though he owned those soldiers.
he makes one reel,
Swinging round above his circling armies in a wheel.
Sweeping round the sky in an orbit like the sun's,
Flashing sparks like cannon-balls from his own long guns.
Perhaps my sight is tired, but that figure simply stuns.
How low the houses seem, and all the people are
That fellow pokes his hat up till it scratches on the skies.
Impudent! Audacious! But, by Jove, he blinds
Isaac Watts |
The vengeance and compassion of God.
Let God arise in all his might,
And put the troops of hell to flight,
As smoke that sought to cloud the skies
Before the rising tempest flies.
[He comes arrayed in burning flames
Justice and Vengeance are his names:
Behold his fainting foes expire,
Like melting wax before the fire.
He rides and thunders through the sky;
His name, Jehovah, sounds on high
Sing to his name, ye sons of grace;
Ye saints, rejoice before his face.
The widow and the fatherless
Fly to his aid in sharp distress;
In him the poor and helpless find
A Judge that's just, a Father kind.
He breaks the captive's heavy chain,
And prisoners see the light again;
But rebels that dispute his will
Shall dwell in chains and darkness still.
Kingdoms and thrones to God belong;
Crown him, ye nations, in your song:
His wondrous names and powers rehearse;
His honors shall enrich your verse.
He shakes the heav'ns with loud alarms;
How terrible is God in arms!
In Isr'el are his mercies known,
Isr'el is his peculiar throne.
Proclaim him King, pronounce him blest;
He's your defence, your joy, your rest:
When terrors rise and nations faint,
God is the strength of every saint.
Dorothy Parker |
"It's *****," she said; "I see the light
As plain as I beheld it then,
All silver-like and calm and bright-
We've not had stars like that again!
"And she was such a gentle thing
To birth a baby in the cold.
The barn was dark and frightening-
This new one's better than the old.
"I mind my eyes were full of tears,
For I was young, and quick distressed,
But she was less than me in years
That held a son against her breast.
"I never saw a sweeter child-
The little one, the darling one!-
I mind I told her, when he smiled
You'd know he was his mother's son.
"It's ***** that I should see them so-
The time they came to Bethlehem
Was more than thirty years ago;
I've prayed that all is well with them.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow |
Southward with fleet of ice
Sailed the corsair Death;
Wild and gast blew the blast,
And the east-wind was his breath.
His lordly ships of ice
Glisten in the sun;
On each side, like pennons wide,
Flashing crystal streamlets run.
His sails of white sea-mist
Dripped with silver rain;
But where he passed there were cast
Leaden shadows o'er the main.
Eastward from Campobello
Sir Humphrey Gilbert sailed;
Three days or more seaward he bore,
Then, alas! the land-wind failed.
Alas! the land-wind failed,
And ice-cold grew the night;
And nevermore, on sea or shore,
Should Sir Humphrey see the light.
He sat upon the deck,
The Book was in his hand;
"Do not fear! Heaven is as near,"
He said, "by water as by land!"
In the first watch of the night,
Without a signal's sound,
Out of the sea, mysteriously,
The fleet of Death rose all around.
The moon and the evening star
Were hanging in the shrouds;
Every mast, as it passed,
Seemed to rake the passing clouds.
They grappled with their prize,
At midnight black and cold!
As of a rock was the shock;
Heavily the ground-swell rolled.
Southward through day and dark,
They drift in cold embrace,
With mist and rain, o'er the open main;
Yet there seems no change of place.
Southward, forever southward,
They drift through dark and day;
And like a dream, in the Gulf-Stream
Sinking, vanish all away.
Adela Florence Cory Nicolson |
Second Song: The Girl from Baltistan
Throb, throb, throb,
Far away in the blue transparent Night,
On the outer horizon of a dreaming consciousness,
She hears the sound of her lover's nearing boat
On the river's loneliness, where the Stars are the only light;
Hear the sound of the straining wood
Like a broken sob
Of a heart's distress,
She lies, with her loose hair spent in soft disorder,
On a silken sheet with a purple woven border,
Every cell of her brain is latent fire,
Every fibre tense with restrained desire.
And the straining oars sound clearer, clearer,
The boat is approaching nearer, nearer;
"How to wait through the moments' space
Till I see the light of my lover's face?"
Throb, throb, throb,
The sound dies down the stream
Till it only clings at the senses' edge
Like a half-remembered dream.
Doubtless, he in the silence lies,
His fair face turned to the tender skies,
Starlight touching his sleeping eyes.
While his boat caught in the thickset sedge
And the waters round it gurgle and sob,
Or floats set free on the river's tide,
Oars laid aside.
She is awake and knows no rest,
Passion dies and is dispossessed
Of his brief, despotic power.
But the Brain, once kindled, would still be afire
Were the whole world pasture to its desire,
And all of love, in a single hour,—
A single wine cup, filled to the brim,
Given to slake its thirst.
Some there are who are thus-wise cursed
Times that follow fulfilled desire
Are of all their hours the worst.
They find no Respite and reach no Rest,
Though passion fail and desire grow dim,
No assuagement comes from the thing possessed
For possession feeds the fire.
"Oh, for the life of the bright hued things
Whose marriage and death are one,
A floating fusion on golden wings.
Alit with passion and sun!
"But we who re-marry a thousand times,
As the spirit or senses will,
In a thousand ways, in a thousand climes,
We remain unsatisfied still."
As her lover left her, alone, awake she lies,
With a sleepless brain and weary, half-closed eyes.
She turns her face where the purple silk is spread,
Still sweet with delicate perfume his presence shed.
Her arms remembered his vanished beauty still,
And, reminiscent of clustered curls, her fingers thrill.
While the wonderful, Starlit Night wears slowly on
Till the light of another day, serene and wan,
Pierces the eastern skies.