Poem of the day

A Description of a City Shower
by Jonathan Swift (1667-1745)

Careful observers may foretell the hour,
(By sure prognosticks) when to dread a shower.
While rain depends, the pensive cat gives o’er
Her frolicks, and pursues her tail no more.
Returning home at night, you’ll find the sink
Strike your offended sense with double stink.
If you be wise, then go not far to dine;
You’ll spend in coach-hire more than save in wine.
A coming showier your shooting corns presage,
Old aches will throb, your hollow tooth will rage;
Sauntering in coffeehouse is Dulman seen;
He damns the climate, and complains of spleen.
⁠      Meanwhile the south, rising with dabbled wings,
A sable cloud athwart the welkin flings,
That swill’d more liquor than it could contain,
And, like a drunkard, gives it up again.
Brisk Susan whips her linen from the rope,
While the first drizzling shower is born aslope:
Such is that sprinkling which some careless quean
Flirts on you from her mop, but not so clean:
You fly, invoke the gods; then, turning, stop
To rail; she, singing, still whirls on her mop.
Not yet the dust had shunn’d th’ unequal strife,
But, aided by the wind, fought still for life,
And, wafted with its foe by violent gust,
‘Twas doubtful which was rain, and which was dust.
Ah! where must needy poet seek for aid,
When dust and rain at once his coat invade?
Sole coat! where dust, cemented by the rain,
Erects the nap, and leaves a cloudy stain!
      Now in contiguous drops the flood comes down,
Threatening with deluge this devoted town.
To shops in crowds the daggled females fly,
Pretend to cheapen goods, but nothing buy.
The templar spruce, while every spout’s abroach,
Stays till ’tis fair, yet seems to call a coach.
The tuck’d-up semstress walks with hasty strides,
While streams run down her oil’d umbrella’s sides.
Here various kinds, by various fortunes led,
Commence acquaintance underneath a shed.
Triumphant tories, and desponding whigs,
Forget their feuds, and join to save their wigs.
Box’d in a chair, the beau impatient sits,
While spouts run clattering o’er the roof by fits,
And ever and anon with frightful din
The leather sounds; he trembles from within.
So when Troy chairmen bore the wooden steed,
Pregnant with Greeks impatient to be freed,
(Those bully Greeks, who, as the moderns do,
Instead of paying chairmen, ran them through)
Laocoon struck the outside with his spear,
And each imprison’d hero quak’d for fear.
      Now from all parts the swelling kennels flow,
And bear their trophies with them as they go:
Filths of all hues and odour, seem to tell
What street they sail’d from, by their sight and smell.
They, as each torrent drives, with rapid force,
From Smithfield to St ‘Pulchre’s shape their course,
And in huge confluence join’d at Snowhill ridge,
Fall from the conduit prone to Holbourn bridge.
Sweepings from butchers’ stalls, dung, guts, and blood,
Drown’d puppies, stinking sprats, all drench’d in mud,
Dead cats, and turnip-tops come tumbling down the flood.

Views: 34

Poem of the day

Our Little Ghost
by Louisa May Alcott (1832-1888)

Oft, in the silence of the night,
      When the lonely moon rides high,
When wintry winds are whistling,
      And we hear the owl’s shrill cry,
In the quiet, dusky chamber,
      By the flickering firelight,
Rising up between two sleepers,
      Comes a spirit all in white.

A winsome little ghost it is,
      Rosy-cheeked, and bright of eye;
With yellow curls all breaking loose
      From the small cap pushed awry.
Up it climbs among the pillows,
      For the “big dark” brings no dread,
And a baby’s boundless fancy
      Makes a kingdom of a bed.

A fearless little ghost it is;
      Safe the night seems as the day;
The moon is but a gentle face,
      And the sighing winds are gay.
The solitude is full of friends,
      And the hour brings no regrets;
For, in this happy little soul,
      Shines a sun that never sets.

A merry little ghost it is,
      Dancing gayly by itself,
On the flowery counterpane,
      Like a tricksy household elf;
Nodding to the fitful shadows,
      As they flicker on the wall;
Talking to familiar pictures,
      Mimicking the owl’s shrill call.

A thoughtful little ghost if is;
      And, when lonely gambols tire,
With chubby hands on chubby knees,
      It sits winking at the fire.
Fancies innocent and lovely
      Shine before those baby-eyes, —
Endless fields of dandelions,
      Brooks, and birds, and butterflies.

A loving little ghost it is:
      When crept into its nest,
Its hand on father’s shoulder laid,
      Its head on mother’s breast,
It watches each familiar face,
      With a tranquil, trusting eye;
And, like a sleepy little bird,
      Sings its own soft lullaby.

Then those who feigned to sleep before,
      Lest baby play till dawn,
Wake and watch their folded flower —
      Little rose without a thorn.
And, in the silence of the night,
      The hearts that love it most
Pray tenderly above its sleep,
      “God bless our little ghost!”

Views: 36

Poem of the day

by William Blake (1757-1827)

I wander thro’ each charter’d street,
Near where the charter’d Thames does flow,
And mark in every face I meet,
Marks of weakness, marks of woe.

In every cry of every Man,
In every Infant’s cry of fear,
In every voice, in every ban,
The mind-forg’d manacles I hear.

How the Chimney-sweeper’s cry
Every black’ning Church appalls;
And the hapless Soldier’s sigh
Runs in blood down Palace walls.

But most, thro’ midnight streets I hear
How the youthful Harlot’s curse
Blasts the new born Infant’s tear,
And blights with plagues the Marriage hearse.

Views: 38

Game of the week

Views: 39

Poem of the day

Non Omnis Moriar
by Quintus Horatius Flaccus (“Horace”) (65-8 BCE)

Exegi monumentum aere perennius
regalique situ pyramidum altius,
quod non imber edax, non Aquilo inpotens
possit diruere aut innumerabilis
annorum series et fuga temporum.
Non omnis moriar multaque pars mei
vitabit Libitinam; usque ego postera
crescam laude recens, dum Capitolium
scandet cum tacita virgine pontifex.
Dicar, qua violens obstrepit Aufidus
et qua pauper aquae Daunus agrestium
regnavit populorum, ex humili potens
princeps Aeolium carmen ad Italos
deduxisse modos. Sume superbiam
quaesitam meritis et mihi Delphica
lauro cinge volens, Melpomene, comam.

Views: 42

What is science writing (and science)?

“The best science writers learn that science is not a procession of facts and breakthroughs, but an erratic stumble toward gradually diminished uncertainty; that peer-reviewed publications are not gospel and even prestigious journals are polluted by nonsense; and that the scientific endeavor is plagued by all-too-human failings such as hubris. …

“Science is undoubtedly political, whether scientists want it to be or not, because it is an inextricably human enterprise. It belongs to society. It is interleaved with society. It is of society. …

“Science is often caricatured as a purely empirical and objective pursuit. But in reality, a scientist’s interpretation of the world is influenced by the data she collects, which are influenced by the experiments she designs, which are influenced by the questions she thinks to ask, which are influenced by her identity, her values, her predecessors, and her imagination.”

The pandemic made it clear that science touches everything, and everything touches science.

Views: 56

Poem of the day

Das zerbrochene Ringlein
by Joseph von Eichendorff (1788-1857)

In einem kühlen Grunde
Da geht ein Mühlenrad
Mein’ Liebste ist verschwunden,
Die dort gewohnet hat.

Sie hat mir Treu versprochen,
Gab mir ein’n Ring dabei,
Sie hat die Treu gebrochen,
Mein Ringlein sprang entzwei.

Ich möcht’ als Spielmann reisen
Weit in die Welt hinaus,
Und singen meine Weisen,
Und geh’n von Haus zu Haus.

Ich möcht’ als Reiter fliegen
Wohl in die blut’ge Schlacht,
Um stille Feuer liegen
Im Feld bei dunkler Nacht.

Hör’ ich das Mühlrad gehen:
Ich weiß nicht, was ich will —
Ich möcht’ am liebsten sterben,
Da wär’s auf einmal still!

Views: 36

Poem of the day

On the Triumph of Messalla
by Albius Tibullus (c. 55-19 BCE)

Hunc cecinere diem Parcae fatalia nentes
      Stamina, non ulli dissoluenda deo,
Hunc fore, Aquitanas posset qui fundere gentes,
      Quem tremeret forti milite victus Atax.
Evenere: novos pubes Romana triumphos
      Vidit et evinctos bracchia capta duces;
At te victrices lauros, Messalla, gerentem
      Portabat nitidis currus eburnus equis.
Non sine me est tibi partus honos: Tarbella Pyrene
      Testis et Oceani litora Santonici,
Testis Arar Rhodanusque celer magnusque Garunna,
      Carnutis et flavi caerula lympha Liger.
An te, Cydne, canam, tacitis qui leniter undis
      Caeruleus placidis per vada serpis aquis,
Quantus et aetherio contingens vertice nubes
      Frigidus intonsos Taurus alat Cilicas?
Quid referam, ut volitet crebras intacta per urbes
      Alba Palaestino sancta columba Syro,
Utque maris vastum prospectet turribus aequor
      Prima ratem ventis credere docta Tyros,
Qualis et, arentes cum findit Sirius agros,
      Fertilis aestiva Nilus abundet aqua?
Nile pater, quanam possim te dicere causa
      Aut quibus in terris occuluisse caput?
Te propter nullos tellus tua postulat imbres,
      Arida nec pluvio supplicat herba Iovi.
Te canit atque suum pubes miratur Osirim
      Barbara, Memphiten plangere docta bovem.
Primus aratra manu sollerti fecit Osiris
      Et teneram ferro sollicitavit humum,
Primus inexpertae conmisit semina terrae
      Pomaque non notis legit ab arboribus.
Hic docuit teneram palis adiungere vitem,
      Hic viridem dura caedere falce comam;
Illi iucundos primum matura sapores
      Expressa incultis uva dedit pedibus.
Ille liquor docuit voces inflectere cantu,
      Movit et ad certos nescia membra modos,
Bacchus et agricolae magno confecta labore
      Pectora tristitiae dissoluenda dedit.
Bacchus et adflictis requiem mortalibus adfert,
      Crura licet dura conpede pulsa sonent.
Non tibi sunt tristes curae nec luctus, Osiri,
      Sed chorus et cantus et levis aptus amor,
Sed varii flores et frons redimita corymbis, 
      Fusa sed ad teneros lutea palla pedes
Et Tyriae vestes et dulcis tibia cantu
      Et levis occultis conscia cista sacris.
Huc ades et Genium ludis Geniumque choreis
      Concelebra et multo tempora funde mero:
Illius et nitido stillent unguenta capillo,
      Et capite et collo mollia serta gerat.
Sic venias hodierne: tibi dem turis honores,
      Liba et Mopsopio dulcia melle feram.
At tibi succrescat proles, quae facta parentis
      Augeat et circa stet veneranda senem.
Nec taceat monumenta viae, quem Tuscula tellus
      Candidaque antiquo detinet Alba Lare.
Namque opibus congesta tuis hic glarea dura
      Sternitur, hic apta iungitur arte silex.
Te canit agricola, a magna cum venerit urbe
      Serus inoffensum rettuleritque pedem.
At tu, Natalis multos celebrande per annos,
      Candidior semper candidiorque veni.

Views: 42

Poem of the day

Al Sepulcro de Adonis
by Juan de Tassis y Peralta, Conde de Villamediana (1582-1622)

Desfrondad a los templos consagrados
a las del cielo lámparas dorinas
escamosas deidades, y entre espinas
mudos se dejan ver plectros dorados.

Las fuentes secas ya, lloren los prados
y dejan de flagrar las clavellinas,
indiquen el rigor de sus ruinas
los hoy bosques, de Amor desamparados.

Muerto es el dios de nuestras selvas, muerto,
y el canto cuya métrica armonía
las aves suspendió y enfrenó el viento.

Venga, pues, Cipria, visto el pecho abierto
del Adonis osado, en ansia pía
a dar flores y llanto al movimiento.

Views: 37

Poem of the day

À un poète ignorant
by Clement Marot (1495-1544

      Qu’on mène aux champs ce coquardeau,
Lequel gâte, quand il compose,
Raison, mesure, texte, glose,
Soit en ballade, ou en rondeau.

Il n’a cervelle, ne cerveau,
C’est pourquoi, si haut crier j’ose:
Qu’on mène aux champs ce coquardeau.

      S’il veut rien faire de nouveau
Qu’il œuvre hardiment en prose
(J’entends s’il en sait quelque chose)
Car en Rime ce n’est qu’ung veau,
               Qu’on mène aux champs.

Views: 30