Rudyard Kipling |
When Julius Fabricius, Sub-Prefect of the Weald,
In the days of Diocletian owned our Lower River-field,
He called to him Hobdenius-a Briton of the Clay,
Saying: "What about that River-piece for layin'' in to hay?"
And the aged Hobden answered: "I remember as a lad
My father told your father that she wanted dreenin' bad.
An' the more that you neeglect her the less you'll get her clean.
Have it jest as you've a mind to, but, if I was you, I'd dreen.
So they drained it long and crossways in the lavish Roman style--
Still we find among the river-drift their flakes of ancient tile,
And in drouthy middle August, when the bones of meadows
We can trace the lines they followed sixteen hundred years ago.
Then Julius Fabricius died as even Prefects do,
And after certain centuries, Imperial Rome died too.
Then did robbers enter Britain from across the Northern main
And our Lower River-field was won by Ogier the Dane.
Well could Ogier work his war-boat --well could Ogier wield his
Much he knew of foaming waters--not so much of farming land.
So he called to him a Hobden of the old unaltered blood,
Saying: "What about that River-piece; she doesn't look no good?"
And that aged Hobden answered "'Tain't for me not interfere.
But I've known that bit o' meadow now for five and fifty year.
Have it jest as you've a mind to, but I've proved it time on ' time,
If you want to change her nature you have got to give her lime!"
Ogier sent his wains to Lewes, twenty hours' solemn walk,
And drew back great abundance of the cool, grey, healing chalk.
And old Hobden spread it broadcast, never heeding what was
Which is why in cleaning ditches, now and then we find a flint.
His sons grew English-Anglo-Saxon was their name--
Till out of blossomed Normandy another pirate came;
For Duke William conquered England and divided with his men,
And our Lower River-field he gave to William of Warenne.
But the Brook (you know her habit) rose one rainy autumn night
And tore down sodden flitches of the bank to left and right.
So, said William to his Bailiff as they rode their dripping rounds:
"Hob, what about that River-bit--the Brook's got up no bounds? "
And that aged Hobden answered: "'Tain't my business to advise,
But ye might ha' known 'twould happen from the way the valley
Where ye can't hold back the water you must try and save the
Hev it jest as you've a mind to, but, if I was you, I'd spile!"
They spiled along the water-course with trunks of willow-trees,
And planks of elms behind 'em and immortal oaken knees.
And when the spates of Autumn whirl the gravel-beds away
You can see their faithful fragments, iron-hard in iron clay.
Georgii Quinti Anno Sexto, I, who own the River-field,
Am fortified with title-deeds, attested, signed and sealed,
Guaranteeing me, my assigns, my executors and heirs
All sorts of powers and profits which-are neither mine nor theirs,
I have rights of chase and warren, as my dignity requires.
I can fish-but Hobden tickles--I can shoot--but Hobden wires.
I repair, but he reopens, certain gaps which, men allege,
Have been used by every Hobden since a Hobden swapped a
Shall I dog his morning progress o'er the track-betraying dew?
Demand his dinner-basket into which my pheasant flew?
Confiscate his evening ****** under which my conies ran,
And summons him to judgment? I would sooner summons Pan.
His dead are in the churchyard--thirty generations laid.
Their names were old in history when Domesday Book was made;
And the passion and the piety and prowess of his line
Have seeded, rooted, fruited in some land the Law calls mine.
Not for any beast that burrows, not for any bird that flies,
Would I lose his large sound council, miss his keen amending
He is bailiff, woodman, wheelwright, field-surveyor, engineer,
And if flagrantly a poacher--'tain't for me to interfere.
"Hob, what about that River-bit?" I turn to him again,
With Fabricius and Ogier and William of Warenne.
"Hev it jest as you've a mind to, but"-and here he takes com-
For whoever pays the taxes old Mus' Hobden owns the land.
Robert Burns |
GUID-MORNIN’ to our Majesty!
May Heaven augment your blisses
On ev’ry new birth-day ye see,
A humble poet wishes.
My bardship here, at your Levee
On sic a day as this is,
Is sure an uncouth sight to see,
Amang thae birth-day dresses
Sae fine this day.
I see ye’re complimented thrang,
By mony a lord an’ lady;
“God save the King” ’s a cuckoo sang
That’s unco easy said aye:
The poets, too, a venal gang,
Wi’ rhymes weel-turn’d an’ ready,
Wad gar you trow ye ne’er do wrang,
But aye unerring steady,
On sic a day.
For me! before a monarch’s face
Ev’n there I winna flatter;
For neither pension, post, nor place,
Am I your humble debtor:
So, nae reflection on your Grace,
Your Kingship to bespatter;
There’s mony waur been o’ the race,
And aiblins ane been better
Than you this day.
’Tis very true, my sovereign King,
My skill may weel be doubted;
But facts are chiels that winna ding,
An’ downa be disputed:
Your royal nest, beneath your wing,
Is e’en right reft and clouted,
And now the third part o’ the string,
An’ less, will gang aboot it
Than did ae day.
Far be’t frae me that I aspire
To blame your legislation,
Or say, ye wisdom want, or fire,
To rule this mighty nation:
But faith! I muckle doubt, my sire,
Ye’ve trusted ministration
To chaps wha in barn or byre
Wad better fill’d their station
Than courts yon day.
And now ye’ve gien auld Britain peace,
Her broken shins to plaister,
Your sair taxation does her fleece,
Till she has scarce a tester:
For me, thank God, my life’s a lease,
Nae bargain wearin’ faster,
Or, faith! I fear, that, wi’ the geese,
I shortly boost to pasture
I’ the craft some day.
I’m no mistrusting Willie Pitt,
When taxes he enlarges,
(An’ Will’s a true guid fallow’s get,
A name not envy spairges),
That he intends to pay your debt,
An’ lessen a’ your charges;
But, God-sake! let nae saving fit
Abridge your bonie barges
An’boats this day.
Adieu, my Liege; may freedom geck
Beneath your high protection;
An’ may ye rax Corruption’s neck,
And gie her for dissection!
But since I’m here, I’ll no neglect,
In loyal, true affection,
To pay your Queen, wi’ due respect,
May fealty an’ subjection
This great birth-day.
Hail, Majesty most Excellent!
While nobles strive to please ye,
Will ye accept a compliment,
A simple poet gies ye?
Thae bonie bairntime, Heav’n has lent,
Still higher may they heeze ye
In bliss, till fate some day is sent
For ever to release ye
Frae care that day.
For you, young Potentate o’Wales,
I tell your highness fairly,
Down Pleasure’s stream, wi’ swelling sails,
I’m tauld ye’re driving rarely;
But some day ye may gnaw your nails,
An’ curse your folly sairly,
That e’er ye brak Diana’s pales,
Or rattl’d dice wi’ Charlie
By night or day.
Yet aft a ragged cowt’s been known,
To mak a noble aiver;
So, ye may doucely fill the throne,
For a’their clish-ma-claver:
There, him 2 at Agincourt wha shone,
Few better were or braver:
And yet, wi’ funny, ***** Sir John, 3
He was an unco shaver
For mony a day.
For you, right rev’rend Osnaburg,
Nane sets the lawn-sleeve sweeter,
Altho’ a ribbon at your lug
Wad been a dress completer:
As ye disown yon paughty dog,
That bears the keys of Peter,
Then swith! an’ get a wife to hug,
Or trowth, ye’ll stain the mitre
Some luckless day!
Young, royal Tarry-breeks, I learn,
Ye’ve lately come athwart her—
A glorious galley, 4 stem and stern,
Weel rigg’d for Venus’ barter;
But first hang out, that she’ll discern,
Your hymeneal charter;
Then heave aboard your grapple airn,
An’ large upon her quarter,
Come full that day.
Ye, lastly, bonie blossoms a’,
Ye royal lasses dainty,
Heav’n mak you guid as well as braw,
An’ gie you lads a-plenty!
But sneer na British boys awa!
For kings are unco scant aye,
An’ German gentles are but sma’,
They’re better just than want aye
On ony day.
Gad bless you a’! consider now,
Ye’re unco muckle dautit;
But ere the course o’ life be through,
It may be bitter sautit:
An’ I hae seen their coggie fou,
That yet hae tarrow’t at it.
But or the day was done, I trow,
The laggen they hae clautit
Fu’ clean that day.
The American colonies had recently been lost.
King Henry V.
Sir John Falstaff, vid.
Alluding to the newspaper account of a certain Royal sailor’s amour.
This was Prince William Henry, third son of George III, afterward King William IV.
William Topaz McGonagall |
Fellow men! why should the lords try to despise
And prohibit women from having the benefit of the parliamentary Franchise?
When they pay the same taxes as you and me,
I consider they ought to have the same liberty.
And I consider if they are not allowed the same liberty,
From taxation every one of them should be set free;
And if they are not, it is really very unfair,
And an act of injustice I most solemnly declare.
Women, farmers, have no protection as the law now stands;
And many of them have lost their property and lands,
And have been turned out of their beautiful farms
By the unjust laws of the land and the sheriffs' alarms.
And in my opinion, such treatment is very cruel;
And fair play, 'tis said, is a precious jewel;
But such treatment causes women to fret and to dote,
Because they are deprived of the parliamentary Franchise vote.
In my opinion, what a man pays for he certainly should get;
And if he does not, he will certainly fret;
And why wouldn't women do the very same?
Therefore, to demand the parliamentary Franchise they are not to blame.
Therefore let them gather, and demand the parliamentary Franchise;
And I'm sure no reasonable man will their actions despise,
For trying to obtain the privileges most unjustly withheld from them;
Gladstone will certainly encourage and never condemn.
And as for the working women, many are driven to the point of starvation,
All through the tendency of the legislation;
Besides, upon members of parliament they have no claim
As a deputation, which is a very great shame.
Yes, the Home Secretary of the present day,
Against working women's deputations, has always said- nay;
Because they haven't got the parliamentary Franchise-,
That is the reason why he does them despise.
And that, in my opinion, is really very unjust;
But the time is not far distant, I most earnestly trust,
When women will have a parliamentary vote,
And many of them, I hope, will wear a better petticoat.
And I hope that God will aid them in this enterprise,
And enable them to obtain the parliamentary Franchise;
And rally together, and make a bold stand,
And demand the parliamentary Franchise throughout Scotland.
And do not rest day nor night-
Because your demands are only right
In the eyes of reasonable men, and God's eyesight;
And Heaven, I'm sure, will defend the right.
Therefore go on brave women! and never fear,
Although your case may seem dark and drear,
And put your trust in God, for He is strong;
And ye will gain the parliamentary Franchise before very long.
Anne Sexton |
Good for visiting hospitals or charitable work.
Take some time to attend to your health.
Surely I will be disquieted
by the hospital, that body zone--
bodies wrapped in elastic bands,
bodies cased in wood or used like telephones,
bodies crucified up onto their crutches,
bodies wearing rubber bags between their legs,
bodies vomiting up their juice like detergent, Here in this house
there are other bodies.
Whenever I see a six-year-old
swimming in our aqua pool
a voice inside me says what can't be told.
Ha, someday you'll be old and withered
and tubes will be in your nose
drinking up your dinner.
Someday you'll go backward.
up like a shoebox and you'll be cursed
as you push into death feet first.
Here in the hospital, I say,
that is not my body, not my body.
I am not here for the doctors
to read like a recipe.
I am a daisy girl
blowing in the wind like a piece of sun.
On ward 7 there are daisies, all butter and pearl
but beside a blind man who can only
eat up the petals and count to ten.
The nurses skip rope around him and shiver
as his eyes wiggle like mercury and then
they dance from patient to patient to patient
throwing up little paper medicine cups and playing
catch with vials of dope as they wait for new accidents.
Bodies made of synthetics.
Bodies swaddled like dolls
whom I visit and cajole and all they do is hum
like computers doing up our taxes, dollar by dollar.
Each body is in its bunker.
The surgeon applies his gum.
Each body is fitted quickly into its ice-cream pack
and then stitched up again for the long voyage
Du Fu |
Wagons rumble rumble
Hhorses whinny whinny
Foot person bow arrow each at waist
Father mother wife children go mutual see off
Dust dust not see Xianyang bridge
Pull clothes stamp foot bar way weep
Weep sound directly up strike clouds clouds
Road side passerby ask foot person
Foot person only say mark down often
Some from ten five north guard river
Even until four ten west army fields
Leave time village chief give bind head
Return come head white go back garrison border
Border post shed blood become sea water
Warlike emperor expand border idea no end
Gentleman not see Han homes hill east two hundred districts
1000 villages 10000 hamlets grow thorns trees
Though be strong women hold hoe plough
Seed grow dyked field not order
Besides again Qin soldier withstand bitter fighting
Be driven not different dogs and chickens
Venerable elder though be ask
Battle person dare state bitterness
Even like this year winter
Not stop pass west soldier
District official urgent demand tax
Tax tax way how pay
True know produce males bad
Contrast be produce females good
Produce female still get married neighbour
Produce male bury follow hundred grass
Gentleman not see Qinghai edge
Past come white skeleton no person gather
New ghost vexed injustice old ghosts weep
Heaven dark rain wet sound screech screech
The wagons rumble and roll,
The horses whinny and neigh,
The conscripts each have bows and arrows at their waists.
Their parents, wives and children run to see them off,
So much dust's stirred up, it hides the Xianyang bridge.
They pull clothes, stamp their feet and, weeping, bar the way,
The weeping voices rise straight up and strike the clouds.
A passer-by at the roadside asks a conscript why,
The conscript answers only that drafting happens often.
"At fifteen, many were sent north to guard the river,
Even at forty, they had to till fields in the west.
When we went away, the elders bound our heads,
Returning with heads white, we're sent back off to the frontier.
At the border posts, shed blood becomes a sea,
The martial emperor's dream of expansion has no end.
Have you not seen the two hundred districts east of the mountains,
Where thorns and brambles grow in countless villages and hamlets?
Although there are strong women to grasp the hoe and the plough,
They grow some crops, but there's no order in the fields.
What's more, we soldiers of Qin withstand the bitterest fighting,
We're always driven onwards just like dogs and chickens.
Although an elder can ask me this,
How can a soldier dare to complain?
Even in this winter time,
Soldiers from west of the pass keep moving.
The magistrate is eager for taxes,
But how can we afford to pay?
We know now having boys is bad,
While having girls is for the best;
Our girls can still be married to the neighbours,
Our sons are merely buried amid the grass.
Have you not seen on the border of Qinghai,
The ancient bleached bones no man's gathered in?
The new ghosts are angered by injustice, the old ghosts weep,
Moistening rain falls from dark heaven on the voices' screeching.
Robert Burns |
I GAT your letter, winsome Willie;
Wi’ gratefu’ heart I thank you brawlie;
Tho’ I maun say’t, I wad be silly,
And unco vain,
Should I believe, my coaxin billie
Your flatterin strain.
But I’se believe ye kindly meant it:
I sud be laith to think ye hinted
Ironic satire, sidelins sklented
On my poor Musie;
Tho’ in sic phraisin terms ye’ve penn’d it,
I scarce excuse ye.
My senses wad be in a creel,
Should I but dare a hope to speel
Wi’ Allan, or wi’ Gilbertfield,
The braes o’ fame;
Or Fergusson, the writer-chiel,
A deathless name.
(O Fergusson! thy glorious parts
Ill suited law’s dry, musty arts!
My curse upon your whunstane hearts,
Ye E’nbrugh gentry!
The tithe o’ what ye waste at cartes
Wad stow’d his pantry!)
Yet when a tale comes i’ my head,
Or lassies gie my heart a screed—
As whiles they’re like to be my dead,
(O sad disease!)
I kittle up my rustic reed;
It gies me ease.
Auld Coila now may fidge fu’ fain,
She’s gotten poets o’ her ain;
Chiels wha their chanters winna hain,
But tune their lays,
Till echoes a’ resound again
Her weel-sung praise.
Nae poet thought her worth his while,
To set her name in measur’d style;
She lay like some unkenn’d-of-isle
Beside New Holland,
Or whare wild-meeting oceans boil
Ramsay an’ famous Fergusson
Gied Forth an’ Tay a lift aboon;
Yarrow an’ Tweed, to monie a tune,
Owre Scotland rings;
While Irwin, Lugar, Ayr, an’ Doon
Th’ Illissus, Tiber, Thames, an’ Seine,
Glide sweet in monie a tunefu’ line:
But Willie, set your fit to mine,
An’ cock your crest;
We’ll gar our streams an’ burnies shine
Up wi’ the best!
We’ll sing auld Coila’s plains an’ fells,
Her moors red-brown wi’ heather bells,
Her banks an’ braes, her dens and dells,
Whare glorious Wallace
Aft bure the gree, as story tells,
Frae Suthron billies.
At Wallace’ name, what Scottish blood
But boils up in a spring-tide flood!
Oft have our fearless fathers strode
By Wallace’ side,
Still pressing onward, red-wat-shod,
Or glorious died!
O, sweet are Coila’s haughs an’ woods,
When lintwhites chant amang the buds,
And jinkin hares, in amorous whids,
Their loves enjoy;
While thro’ the braes the cushat croods
With wailfu’ cry!
Ev’n winter bleak has charms to me,
When winds rave thro’ the naked tree;
Or frosts on hills of Ochiltree
Are hoary gray;
Or blinding drifts wild-furious flee,
Dark’ning the day!
O Nature! a’ thy shews an’ forms
To feeling, pensive hearts hae charms!
Whether the summer kindly warms,
Wi’ life an light;
Or winter howls, in gusty storms,
The lang, dark night!
The muse, nae poet ever fand her,
Till by himsel he learn’d to wander,
Adown some trottin burn’s meander,
An’ no think lang:
O sweet to stray, an’ pensive ponder
A heart-felt sang!
The war’ly race may drudge an’ drive,
Hog-shouther, jundie, stretch, an’ strive;
Let me fair Nature’s face descrive,
And I, wi’ pleasure,
Shall let the busy, grumbling hive
Bum owre their treasure.
Fareweel, “my rhyme-composing” brither!
We’ve been owre lang unkenn’d to ither:
Now let us lay our heads thegither,
In love fraternal:
May envy wallop in a tether,
Black fiend, infernal!
While Highlandmen hate tools an’ taxes;
While moorlan’s herds like guid, fat braxies;
While terra firma, on her axis,
Count on a friend, in faith an’ practice,
In Robert Burns.
POSTCRIPTMY memory’s no worth a preen;
I had amaist forgotten clean,
Ye bade me write you what they mean
By this “new-light,”
’Bout which our herds sae aft hae been
Maist like to fight.
In days when mankind were but callans
At grammar, logic, an’ sic talents,
They took nae pains their speech to balance,
Or rules to gie;
But spak their thoughts in plain, braid lallans,
Like you or me.
In thae auld times, they thought the moon,
Just like a sark, or pair o’ shoon,
Wore by degrees, till her last roon
Gaed past their viewin;
An’ shortly after she was done
They gat a new ane.
This passed for certain, undisputed;
It ne’er cam i’ their heads to doubt it,
Till chiels gat up an’ wad confute it,
An’ ca’d it wrang;
An’ muckle din there was about it,
Baith loud an’ lang.
Some herds, weel learn’d upo’ the beuk,
Wad threap auld folk the thing misteuk;
For ’twas the auld moon turn’d a neuk
An’ out of’ sight,
An’ backlins-comin to the leuk
She grew mair bright.
This was deny’d, it was affirm’d;
The herds and hissels were alarm’d
The rev’rend gray-beards rav’d an’ storm’d,
That beardless laddies
Should think they better wer inform’d,
Than their auld daddies.
Frae less to mair, it gaed to sticks;
Frae words an’ aiths to clours an’ nicks;
An monie a fallow gat his licks,
Wi’ hearty crunt;
An’ some, to learn them for their tricks,
Were hang’d an’ brunt.
This game was play’d in mony lands,
An’ auld-light caddies bure sic hands,
That faith, the youngsters took the sands
Wi’ nimble shanks;
Till lairds forbad, by strict commands,
Sic bluidy pranks.
But new-light herds gat sic a cowe,
Folk thought them ruin’d stick-an-stowe;
Till now, amaist on ev’ry knowe
Ye’ll find ane plac’d;
An’ some their new-light fair avow,
Just quite barefac’d.
Nae doubt the auld-light flocks are bleatin;
Their zealous herds are vex’d an’ sweatin;
Mysel’, I’ve even seen them greetin
Wi’ girnin spite,
To hear the moon sae sadly lied on
By word an’ write.
But shortly they will cowe the louns!
Some auld-light herds in neebor touns
Are mind’t, in things they ca’ balloons,
To tak a flight;
An’ stay ae month amang the moons
An’ see them right.
Guid observation they will gie them;
An’ when the auld moon’s gaun to lea’e them,
The hindmaist shaird, they’ll fetch it wi’ them
Just i’ their pouch;
An’ when the new-light billies see them,
I think they’ll crouch!
Sae, ye observe that a’ this clatter
Is naething but a “moonshine matter”;
But tho’ dull prose-folk Latin splatter
In logic tulyie,
I hope we bardies ken some better
Than mind sic brulyie.
Charles Bukowski |
the vultures at the zoo
(all three of the)
sit very quietly in their
on the ground
are chunks of rotten meat.
the vultures are over-full.
our taxes have fed them
we move on to the next
a man is in there
sitting on the ground
his own ****.
i recognize him as
our former mailman.
his favorite expression
"have a beautiful day.
that day i did.
Robert Browning |
An imaginary composer.
Hist, but a word, fair and soft!
Forth and be judged, Master Hugues!
Answer the question I've put you so oft:
What do you mean by your mountainous fugues?
See, we're alone in the loft,---
I, the poor organist here,
Hugues, the composer of note,
Dead though, and done with, this many a year:
Let's have a colloquy, something to quote,
Make the world prick up its ear!
See, the church empties apace:
Fast they extinguish the lights.
Hallo there, sacristan! Five minutes' grace!
Here's a crank pedal wants setting to rights,
Baulks one of holding the base.
See, our huge house of the sounds,
Hushing its hundreds at once,
Bids the last loiterer back to his bounds!
O you may challenge them, not a response
Get the church-saints on their rounds!
(Saints go their rounds, who shall doubt?
---March, with the moon to admire,
Up nave, down chancel, turn transept about,
Supervise all betwixt pavement and spire,
Put rats and mice to the rout---
Aloys and Jurien and Just---
Order things back to their place,
Have a sharp eye lest the candlesticks rust,
Rub the church-plate, darn the sacrament-lace,
Clear the desk-velvet of dust.
Here's your book, younger folks shelve!
Played I not off-hand and runningly,
Just now, your masterpiece, hard number twelve?
Here's what should strike, could one handle it cunningly:
HeIp the axe, give it a helve!
Page after page as I played,
Every bar's rest, where one wipes
Sweat from one's brow, I looked up and surveyed,
O'er my three claviers yon forest of pipes
Whence you still peeped in the shade.
Sure you were wishful to speak?
You, with brow ruled like a score,
Yes, and eyes buried in pits on each cheek,
Like two great breves, as they wrote them of yore,
Each side that bar, your straight beak!
Sure you said---``Good, the mere notes!
``Still, couldst thou take my intent,
``Know what procured me our Company's votes---
``A master were lauded and sciolists shent,
``Parted the sheep from the goats!''
Well then, speak up, never flinch!
Quick, ere my candle's a snuff
---Burnt, do you see? to its uttermost inch---
_I_ believe in you, but that's not enough:
Give my conviction a clinch!
First you deliver your phrase
---Nothing propound, that I see,
Fit in itself for much blame or much praise---
Answered no less, where no answer needs be:
Off start the Two on their ways.
Straight must a Third interpose,
Volunteer needlessly help;
In strikes a Fourth, a Fifth thrusts in his nose,
So the cry's open, the kennel's a-yelp,
Argument's hot to the close.
One dissertates, he is candid;
Two must discept,--has distinguished;
Three helps the couple, if ever yet man did;
Four protests; Five makes a dart at the thing wished:
Back to One, goes the case bandied.
One says his say with a difference
More of expounding, explaining!
All now is wrangle, abuse, and vociferance;
Now there's a truce, all's subdued, self-restraining:
Five, though, stands out all the stiffer hence.
One is incisive, corrosive:
Two retorts, nettled, curt, crepitant;
Three makes rejoinder, expansive, explosive;
Four overbears them all, strident and strepitant,
O Danaides, O Sieve!
Now, they ply axes and crowbars;
Now, they prick pins at a tissue
Fine as a skein of the casuist Escobar's
Worked on the bone of a lie.
To what issue?
Where is our gain at the Two-bars?
_Est fuga, volvitur rota.
On we drift: where looms the dim port?
One, Two, Three, Four, Five, contribute their quota;
Something is gained, if one caught but the import---
Show it us, Hugues of Saxe-Gotha!
What with affirming, denying,
Holding, risposting, subjoining,
All's like .
it's like .
for an instance I'm trying .
There! See our roof, its gilt moulding and groining
Under those spider-webs lying!
So your fugue broadens and thickens,
Greatens and deepens and lengthens,
Till we exclaim---``But where's music, the dickens?
``Blot ye the gold, while your spider-web strengthens
``---Blacked to the stoutest of tickens?''
I for man's effort am zealous:
Prove me such censure unfounded!
Seems it surprising a lover grows jealous---
Hopes 'twas for something, his organ-pipes sounded,
Tiring three boys at the bellows?
Is it your moral of Life?
Such a web, simple and subtle,
Weave we on earth here in impotent strife,
Backward and forward each throwing his shuttle,
Death ending all with a knife?
Over our heads truth and nature---
Still our life's zigzags and dodges,
Ins and outs, weaving a new legislature---
God's gold just shining its last where that lodges,
Palled beneath man's usurpature.
So we o'ershroud stars and roses,
Cherub and trophy and garland;
Nothings grow something which quietly closes
Heaven's earnest eye: not a glimpse of the far land
Gets through our comments and glozes.
Ah but traditions, inventions,
(Say we and make up a visage)
So many men with such various intentions,
Down the past ages, must know more than this age!
Leave we the web its dimensions!
Who thinks Hugues wrote for the deaf,
Proved a mere mountain in labour?
Better submit; try again; what's the clef?
'Faith, 'tis no trifle for pipe and for tabor---
Four flats, the minor in F.
Friend, your fugue taxes the finger
Learning it once, who would lose it?
Yet all the while a misgiving will linger,
Truth's golden o'er us although we refuse it---
Nature, thro' cobwebs we string her.
Hugues! I advise _Me Pn_
(Counterpoint glares like a Gorgon)
Bid One, Two, Three, Four, Five, clear the arena!
Say the word, straight I unstop the full-organ,
Blare out the _mode Palestrina.
While in the roof, if I'm right there,
Lo you, the wick in the socket!
Hallo, you sacristan, show us a light there!
Down it dips, gone like a rocket.
What, you want, do you, to come unawares,
Sweeping the church up for first morning-prayers,
And find a poor devil has ended his cares
At the foot of your rotten-runged rat-riddled stairs?
Do I carry the moon in my pocket?
* 1 A fugue is a short melody.
* 2 Keyboard of organ.
* 3 A note in music.
* 4 The daughters of Danaus, condemned to pour water
* into a sieve.
* 5 The Spanish casuist, so severely mauled by Pascal.
* 6 A quick return in fencing.
* 7 A closely woven fabric.
* 8 _Giovanni P.
da Palestrina_, celebrated musician (1524-1594).
Thomas Moore |
Said Cotton to Corn, t'other day,
As they met and exchang'd salute--
(Squire Corn in his carriage so gay,
Poor Cotton, half famish'd on foot):
"Great Squire, if it isn't uncivil
To hint at starvation before you,
Look down on a poor hungry devil,
And give him some bread, I implore you!"
Quoth Corn, then, in answer to Cotton,
Perceiving he meant to make free --
"Low fellow, you've surely forgotten
The distance between you and me!
To expect that we, Peers of high birth,
Should waste our illustrious acres,
For no other purpose on earth
Than to fatten curst calico-makers! --
That Biships to hobbins should bend --
Should stoop from their Bench's sublimity,
Great dealers in lawn, to befriend
Such contemptible dealers in dimity!
"No -- vile Manufacture! ne'er harbour
A hope to be fed at our boards; --
Base offspring of Arkwright the barber,
What claim canst thou have upon Lords?
"No -- thanks to the taxes and debt,
And the triumph of paper o'er guineas,
Our race of Lord Jemmys, as yet,
May defy your whole rabble of Jennys!"
So saying -- whip, crack and away
Went Corn in his chaise through the throng,
So headlong, I heard them all say,
"Squire Corn would be down, before long.
Robert Burns |
SIR, as your mandate did request,
I send you here a faithfu’ list,
O’ gudes an’ gear, an’ a’ my graith,
To which I’m clear to gi’e my aith.
Imprimis, then, for carriage cattle,
I hae four brutes o’ gallant mettle,
As ever drew afore a pettle.
My hand-afore ’s a guid auld has-been,
An’ wight an’ wilfu’ a’ his days been:
My hand-ahin ’s a weel gaun fillie,
That aft has borne me hame frae Killie.
An’ your auld borough mony a time
In days when riding was nae crime.
But ance, when in my wooing pride
I, like a blockhead, boost to ride,
The wilfu’ creature sae I pat to,
(L—d pardon a’ my sins, an’ that too!)
I play’d my fillie sic a shavie,
She’s a’ bedevil’d wi’ the spavie.
My furr-ahin ’s a wordy beast,
As e’er in tug or tow was traced.
The fourth’s a Highland Donald hastle,
A d—n’d red-wud Kilburnie blastie!
Foreby a cowt, o’ cowts the wale,
As ever ran afore a tail:
Gin he be spar’d to be a beast,
He’ll draw me fifteen pund at least.
Wheel-carriages I ha’e but few,
Three carts, an’ twa are feckly new;
An auld wheelbarrow, mair for token,
Ae leg an’ baith the trams are broken;
I made a poker o’ the spin’le,
An’ my auld mither brunt the trin’le.
For men, I’ve three mischievous boys,
Run-deils for ranting an’ for noise;
A gaudsman ane, a thrasher t’ other:
Wee Davock hauds the nowt in fother.
I rule them as I ought, discreetly,
An’ aften labour them completely;
An’ aye on Sundays duly, nightly,
I on the Questions targe them tightly;
Till, faith! wee Davock’s grown sae gleg,
Tho’ scarcely langer than your leg,
He’ll screed you aff Effectual Calling,
As fast as ony in the dwalling.
I’ve nane in female servant station,
(L—d keep me aye frae a’ temptation!)
I hae nae wife-and thay my bliss is,
An’ ye have laid nae tax on misses;
An’ then, if kirk folks dinna clutch me,
I ken the deevils darena touch me.
Wi’ weans I’m mair than weel contented,
Heav’n sent me ane mae than I wanted!
My sonsie, smirking, dear-bought Bess,
She stares the daddy in her face,
Enough of ought ye like but grace;
But her, my bonie, sweet wee lady,
I’ve paid enough for her already;
An’ gin ye tax her or her mither,
By the L—d, ye’se get them a’ thegither!
And now, remember, Mr.
Nae kind of licence out I’m takin:
Frae this time forth, I do declare
I’se ne’er ride horse nor hizzie mair;
Thro’ dirt and dub for life I’ll paidle,
Ere I sae dear pay for a saddle;
My travel a’ on foot I’ll shank it,
I’ve sturdy bearers, Gude the thankit!
The kirk and you may tak you that,
It puts but little in your pat;
Sae dinna put me in your beuk,
Nor for my ten white shillings leuk.
This list, wi’ my ain hand I wrote it,
The day and date as under noted;
Then know all ye whom it concerns,
Subscripsi huic, ROBERT BURNS.
MOSSGIEL, February 22, 1786.
The “Inventory” was addressed to Mr.
Aitken of Ayr, surveyor of taxes for the district.