Poem of the day

Ave Atque Vale
by Algernon Charles Swinburne (1837-1909)

In Memory of Charles Baudelaire


Shall I strew on thee rose or rue or laurel,
   Brother, on this that was the veil of thee?
   Or quiet sea-flower moulded by the sea,
Or simplest growth of meadow-sweet or sorrel,
   Such as the summer-sleepy Dryads weave,
   Waked up by snow-soft sudden rains at eve?
Or wilt thou rather, as on earth before,
   Half-faded fiery blossoms, pale with heat
   And full of bitter summer, but more sweet
To thee than gleanings of a northern shore
   Trod by no tropic feet?

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Views: 601

Thoughts on Moxie

Coca-Cola has announced that it plans to purchase Moxie, the official state drink of Maine and unofficial drink of the rest of New England despite the fact that almost no one actually drinks the stuff. With good reason. My wife accurately describes the taste as licorice with an aftertaste of cough syrup and believes that it would be good if it didn’t have that aftertaste. Perhaps but it wouldn’t be Moxie without the cough syrup aftertaste. Even so, I believe that everyone should try Moxie at least once because it has an important moral lesson to impart. While tasting it, contemplate the fact that this beverage was made by human beings for other human beings to drink. You will then never again be shocked by news out of Yemen or Myanmar or anywhere else because you will understand what human beings are capable of.

Views: 130

The word “socialist”

Godwin’s law states that “As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Hitler approaches one.” I have observed a related but more limited phenomenon that operates at a much higher speed.  As an online discussion of Bernie Sanders or Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Venezuela and/or Cuba approaches one. Conversely, in an online discussion of Venezuela or Cuba, the probability that Sanders or Ocasio-Cortez will be invoked also approaches one. Ocasio-Cortez and Sanders are, of course, democratic socialists who generally invoke Sweden and the social democracies of Western Europe as their model. Venezuela and Cuba are as irrelevant as Hitler usually is in most discussions.

The word socialist has too many meanings. Not only does it refer both to authoritarian states like Venezuela and democratic ones like Sweden, it has lately merged with words like Communist, Marxist, liberal, progressive, etc. to the point where they are all just empty epithets of abuse that convey no information beyond the speaker’s disdain. I think we would be better off if we simply dropped these terms and used descriptive terms that do convey information. For example, instead of saying, “I oppose Medicare for all because it’s socialist” (and then going down the rabbit hole of arguing whether it is or is not socialist), simple say, “I oppose Medicare for all because it means higher taxes” (or whatever your real beef is although taxes seem to be the point of contention almost always). Instead of talking past each other, we would at least be on the same page and, who knows, we might even get somewhere. Anyone who can’t tell the difference between Venezuela and Sweden is a moron. It’s akin to not being able to tell the difference between a certain winged mammal and a club used in baseball and cricket because they’re both called bats. Dropping the word socialist from our discourse would, if nothing else, make that particular stupidity harder to achieve.

Views: 76

Poem of the day

by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley (1797-1851)

This morn thy gallant bark, love,
Sailed on a sunny sea;
‘Tis noon, and tempests dark, love,
Have wrecked it on the lee.
Ah woe! Ah woe! Ah woe!
By spirits of the deep
He’s cradled on the billow
To his unwaking sleep.

Thou liest upon the shore, love,
Beside the knelling surge,
But sea-nymphs evermore, love,
Shall sadly chaunt thy dirge.
Oh come! Oh come! Oh come!
Ye spirits of the deep,
While near his seaweed pillow
My lonely watch I keep.

From far across the sea, love,
I hear a wild lament,
By Echo’s voice for thee, love,
From ocean’s caverns sent:
Oh list! Oh list! Oh list!
The spirits of the deep —
Loud sounds their wail of sorrow,
While I for ever weep.

Views: 61

Poem of the day

The Last Reader
by Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr (1809-1894)

I sometimes sit beneath a tree
   And read my own sweet songs;
Though naught they may to others be,
   Each humble line prolongs
A tone that might have passed away,
But for that scarce remembered lay.

I keep them like a lock or leaf
   That some dear girl has given;
Frail record of an hour, as brief
   As sunset clouds in heaven,
But spreading purple twilight still
High over memory’s shadowed hill.

They lie upon my pathway bleak,
   Those flowers that once ran wild,
As on a father’s careworn cheek
   The ringlets of his child;
The golden mingling with the gray,
And stealing half its snows away.

What care I though the dust is spread
   Around these yellow leaves,
Or o’er them his sarcastic thread
   Oblivion’s insect weaves?
Though weeds are tangled on the stream,
It still reflects my morning’s beam.

And therefore love I such as smile
   On these neglected songs,
Nor deem that flattery’s needless wile
   My opening bosom wrongs;
For who would trample, at my side,
A few pale buds, my garden’s pride?

It may be that my scanty ore
   Long years have washed away,
And where were golden sands before
   Is naught but common clay;
Still something sparkles in the sun
For memory to look back upon.

And when my name no more is heard,
   My lyre no more is known,
Still let me, like a winter’s bird,
   In silence and alone,
Fold over them the weary wing
Once flashing through the dews of spring.

Yes, let my fancy fondly wrap
   My youth in its decline,
And riot in the rosy lap
   Of thoughts that once were mine,
And give the worm my little store
When the last reader reads no more!

Views: 57

Poem of the Day

Die wahre Liebe
by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832)

Das ist die wahre Liebe, die immer und immer sich gleich bleibt,
   Wenn man ihr alles gewährt, wenn man ihr alles versagt.

Views: 74

Poem of the day

For a Moment the Wind Died
by Theodore Dreiser (1871-1945)

For a moment the wind died,
And then came the sense of quieting leaves;
And then came the great stillness of the landscape;
And then the chorus of unheard insects;
And then the perfect sky, pouring a blaze
of light through mottled leaves.
And then the wind sprang up again—
And there was coolness in the air,
And for the face,
And the tired heart.

Views: 61

Poem of the day

À la Santé
by Guillaume Apollinaire (1880-1918)


Avant d’entrer dans ma cellule
Il a fallu me mettre nu
Et quelle voix sinistre ulule
Guillaume qu’es-tu devenu

Le Lazare entrant dans la tombe
Au lieu d’en sortir comme il fit
Adieu adieu chantante ronde
Ô mes années ô jeunes filles


Non je ne me sens plus là
Je suis le quinze de la

Le soleil filtre à travers
   Les vitres
Ses rayons font sur mes vers
   Les pitres

Et dansent sur le papier
Quelqu’un qui frappe du pied
   La voûte


Dans une fosse comme un ours
Chaque matin je me promène
Tournons tournons tournons toujours
Le ciel est bleu comme une chaîne
Dans une fosse comme un ours
Chaque matin je me promène

Dans la cellule d’à côté
On y fait couler la fontaine
Avec les clefs qu’il fait tinter
Que le geôlier aille et revienne
Dans la cellule d’à côté
On y fait couler la fontaine


Que je m’ennuie entre ces murs tout nus
   Et peints de couleurs pâles
Une mouche sur le papier à pas menus
   Parcourt mes lignes inégales

Que deviendrai-je ô Dieu qui connais ma douleur
   Toi qui me l’as donnée
Prends en pitié mes yeux sans larmes ma pâleur
   Le bruit de ma chaise enchaînée

Et tous ces pauvres cœurs battant dans la prison
   L’Amour qui m’accompagne
Prends en pitié surtout ma débile raison
   Et ce désespoir qui la gagne


Que lentement passent les heures
Comme passe un enterrement

Tu pleureras l’heure où tu pleures
Qui passera trop vitement
Comme passent toutes les heures


J’écoute les bruits de la ville
Et prisonnier sans horizon
Je ne vois rien qu’un ciel hostile
Et les murs nus de ma prison

Le jour s’en va voici que brûle
Une lampe dans la prison
Nous sommes seuls dans ma cellule
Belle clarté Chère raison

Views: 148

Poem of the day

Erlkönigs Tochter
by Johann Gottfried von Herder (1744-1803)

Herr Oluf reitet spät und weit,
Zu bieten auf seine Hochzeitsleut;

Da tanzen die Elfen auf grünem Land,
Erlkönigs Tochter reicht ihm die Hand.

“Willkommen, Herr Oluf! Was eilst von hier?
Tritt her in den Reihen und tanz mit mir.”

“Ich darf nicht tanzen, nicht tanzen ich mag,
Frühmorgen ist mein Hochzeittag.”

“Hör an, Herr Oluf, tritt tanzen mit mir,
Zwei güldne Sporne schenk ich dir.

Ein Hemd von Seide so weiß und fein,
Meine Mutter bleicht’s mit Mondenschein.”

“Ich darf nicht tanzen, nicht tanzen ich mag,
Frühmorgen ist mein Hochzeitstag.”

“Hör an, Herr Oluf, tritt tanzen mit mir,
Einen Haufen Goldes schenk ich dir.”

“Einen Haufen Goldes nähm ich wohl;
Doch tanzen ich nicht darf noch soll.”

“Und willt, Herr Oluf, nicht tanzen mit mir,
Soll Seuch und Krankheit folgen dir.”

Sie tät einen Schalg ihm auf sein Herz,
Noch nimmer fühlt er solchen Schmerz.

Sie hob ihn bleichend auf sein Pferd.
“Reit heim nun zu deine’m Fräulein wert.”

Und als er kam vor Hauses Tür,
Seine Mutter zitternd stand dafür.

“Hör an, mein Sohn, sag an mir gleich,
Wie ist dein’ Farbe blaß und bleich?”

“Und sollt sie nicht sein blaß und bleich,
Ich traf in Erlenkönigs Reich.”

“Hör an, mein Sohn, so lieb und traut,
Was soll ich nun sagen deiner Braut?”

“Sagt ihr, ich sei im Wald zur Stund,
Zu proben da mein Pferd und Hund.”

Frühmorgen und als es Tag kaum war,
Da kam die Braut mit der Hochzeitschar.

“Sie schenkten Met, sie schenkten Wein;
Wo ist Herr Oluf, der Bräutigam mein?”

“Herr Oluf, er ritt in Wald zur Stund,
Er probt allda sein Pferd und Hund.”

Die Braut hob auf den Scharlach rot,
Da lag Herr Oluf, und er war tot.

Views: 99