Poem of the day

Les Agréables Pensées
by François Tristan l’Hermite (c. 1601-1655)

Mon plus secret conseil et mon doux entretien,
Pensez, chers confidents d’un amour si fidèle,
Tenez-moi compagnie et parlons d’Isabelle
Puisqu’aujourd’hui sa vue est mon souverain bien.

Représentez-la moi, dites-moi s’il est rien
D’aimable, de charmant et de rare comme Elle:
Et s’il peut jamais naître une fille assez belle
Pour avoir un Empire aussi grand que le sien.

Un cœur se peut-il rendre à de plus belles choses?
Ses yeux sont de Saphirs et sa bouche de Roses
De qui le vif éclat dure en toute saison.

O que ce réconfort flatte mes rêveries!
De voir comme les Cieux pour faire ma prison
Mirent des fleurs en œuvre avec des pierreries.

Views: 35

Poem of the day

At a Reading
by Thomas Bailey Aldrich (1836-1907)

The spare professor, grave and bald,
Began his paper. It was called,
I think, “A Brief Historic Glance
At Russia, Germany, and France.”
A glance, but to my best belief
‘T was almost anything but brief–
A wide survey, in which the earth
Was seen before mankind had birth;
Strange monsters basked them in the sun,
Behemoth, armored glyptodon,
And in the dawn’s unpractised ray
The transient dodo winged its way;
Then, by degrees, through slit and slough,
We reached Berlin–I don’t know how.
The good Professor’s monotone
Had turned me into senseless stone
Instanter, but that near me sat
Hypatia in her new spring hat,
Blue-eyed, intent, with lips whose bloom
Lighted the heavy-curtained room.
Hypatia–ah, what lovely things
Are fashioned out of eighteen springs!
At first, in sums of this amount,
The eighteen winters do not count.
Just as my eyes were growing dim
With heaviness, I saw that slim,
Erect, elastic figure there,
Like a pond-lily taking air.
She looked so fresh, so wise, so neat,
So altogether crisp and sweet,
I quite forgot what Bismarck said,
And why the Emperor shook his head,
And how it was Von Moltke’s frown
Cost France another frontier town.
The only facts I took away
From the Professor’s theme that day
Were these: a forehead broad and low,
Such as antique sculptures show;
A chin to Greek perfection true;
Eyes of Astarte’s tender blue;
A high complection without fleck
Or flaw, and curls about her neck.

Views: 27

Poem of the day

Notte d’Inverno
by Giosuè Carducci (1835-1907)

Innanzi, innanzi. Per le foscheggianti
Coste la neve ugual luce e si stende,
E cede e stride sotto il piè: d’avanti
Vapora il sospir mio che l’aer fende.

Ogni altro tace. Corre tra le stanti
Nubi la luna sul gran bianco, e orrende
L’ombre disegna di quel pin che tende
Cruccioso al suolo informe i rami infranti,

Come pensier di morte desïosi.
Cingimi, o bruma, e gela de l’interno
Senso i frangenti che tempestan forti;

Ed emerge il pensier su quei marosi
Naufrago, ed a ’l ciel grida: O notte, o inverno,
Che fanno giú ne le lor tombe i morti?

Views: 27

Poem of the day

A Prairie Water Colour
by Duncan Campbell Scott (1862-1947)

Beside the slew the poplars play
In double lines of silver-grey: —
A trembling in the silver trees
A shadow-trembling in the slew.
Standing clear above the hill
The snow-grey clouds are still,
Floating there idle as light;
Beyond, the sky is almost white
Under the pure deep zenith-blue.
Acres of summer-fallow meet
Acres of growing gold-green wheat
That ripen in the heat.
Where a disc-harrow tears the soil,
Up the long slope six horses toil,
The driver, one with the machine; —
The group is dimly seen
For as they go a cloud of dust
Comes like a spirit out of earth
And follows where they go.
Upward they labour, drifting slow,
The disc-rims sparkle through the veil;
Now upon the topmost height
The dust grows pale,
The group springs up in vivid light
And, dipping below the line of sight,
Is lost to view.
Yet still the little cloud is there,
All dusky-luminous in air,
Then thins and settles on the land
And lets the sunlight through.
All is content. The fallow field
Is waiting there till next year’s yield
Shall top the rise with ripening grain,
When the green-gold harvest plain
Shall break beneath the harrow.
Still-purple, growing-gold they lie,
The crop and summer fallow. The vast sky
Holds all in one pure round of blue —
And nothing moves except the play
Of silver-grey in the poplar trees
Of shadow in the slew.

Views: 28

Poem of the day

Two in the Campagna
by Robert Browning (1812-1889)


I wonder do you feel to-day
      As I have felt since, hand in hand,
We sat down on the grass, to stray
      In spirit better through the land,
This morn of Rome and May?


For me, I touched a thought, I know,
      Has tantalized me many times,
(Like turns of thread the spiders throw
      Mocking across our path) for rhymes
To catch at and let go.


Help me to hold it! First it left
      The yellowing fennel, run to seed
There, branching from the brickwork’s cleft,
      Some old tomb’s ruin: yonder weed
Took up the floating weft,


Where one small orange cup amassed
      Five beetles,—blind and green they grope
Among the honey-meal: and last,
      Everywhere on the grassy slope
I traced it. Hold it fast!


The champaign with its endless fleece
      Of feathery grasses everywhere!
Silence and passion, joy and peace,
      An everlasting wash of air—
Rome’s ghost since her decease.


Such life here, through such lengths of hours,
      Such miracles performed in play,
Such primal naked forms of flowers,
      Such letting nature have her way
While heaven looks from its towers!


How say you? Let us, O my dove,
      Let us be unashamed of soul,
As earth lies bare to heaven above!
      How is it under our control
To love or not to love?


I would that you were all to me,
      You that are just so much, no more.
Nor yours nor mine, nor slave nor free!
      Where does the fault lie? What the core
O’ the wound, since wound must be?


I would I could adopt your will,
      See with your eyes, and set my heart
Beating by yours, and drink my fill
      At your soul’s springs,—your part my part
In life, for good and ill.


No. I yearn upward, touch you close,
      Then stand away. I kiss your cheek,
Catch your soul’s warmth,—I pluck the rose
      And love it more than tongue can speak—
Then the good minute goes.


Already how am I so far
      Out of that minute? Must I go
Still like the thistle-ball, no bar,
      Onward, whenever light winds blow,
Fixed by no friendly star?


Just when I seemed about to learn!
      Where is the thread now? Off again!
The old trick! Only I discern—
      Infinite passion, and the pain
Of finite hearts that yearn.

Views: 36

A full-fledged information battle

The NYT: “In recent weeks, the Biden administration has detailed the movement of Russian special operation forces to Ukraine’s borders, exposed a Russian plan to create a video of a faked atrocity as a pretext for an invasion, outlined Moscow’s war plans, warned that an invasion would result in possibly thousands of deaths and hinted that Russian officers had doubts about Mr. Putin. …

“The hope is that disclosing Mr. Putin’s plans will disrupt them, perhaps delaying an invasion and buying more time for diplomacy, or even giving Mr. Putin a chance to reconsider the political, economic and human costs of an invasion.

“At the same time, Biden administration officials said they had a narrower and more realistic goal: They want to make it more difficult for Mr. Putin to justify an invasion with lies, undercutting his standing on the global stage and building support for a tougher response. …

“One U.S. intelligence official said that when the country’s spy agencies have information that could help the world make better judgments about Russian activity, it should be released, as long as the government can avoid exposing how the information was collected or who passed it along.

“It is, according to some strategists, a full-fledged information battle.”

Views: 39

Game of the week

Views: 105

Poem of the day

The Massacre of Glencoe
by Sir Walter Scott (1771-1832)
George Thomson commission Beethoven to compose a setting for this poem. Here is a recording by Richard Dyer-Bennet.

“O, Tell me, Harper, wherefore flow
Thy wayward notes of wail and woe
Far down the desert of Glencoe,
      Where none may list their melody?
Say, harp’st thou to the mists that fly,
Or to the dun deer glancing by,
Or to the eagle that from high
      Screams chorus to thy minstrelsy?”

“No, not to these, for they have rest,—
The mist-wreath has the mountain crest,
The stag his lair, the erne her nest,
      Abode of lone security.
But those for whom I pour the lay,
Not wildwood deep, nor mountain gray,
Not this deep dell, that shrouds from day,
      Could screen from treach’rous cruelty.

“Their flag was furled, and mute their drum,
The very household dogs were dumb,
Unwont to bay at guests that come
      In guise of hospitality.
His blithest notes the piper plied,
Her gayest snood the maiden tied,
The dame her distaff flung aside,
      To tend her kindly housewifery.

“The hand that mingled in the meal
At midnight drew the felon steel,
And gave the host’s kind breast to feel
      Meed for his hospitality!
The friendly hearth which warmed that hand
At midnight armed it with the brand,
That bade destruction’s flames expand
      Their red and fearful blazonry.

“Then woman’s shriek was heard in vain,
Nor infancy’s unpitied plain,
More than the warrior’s groan, could gain
      Respite from ruthless butchery!
The winter wind that whistled shrill,
The snows that night that cloaked the hill,
Though wild and pitiless, had still
      Far more than Southern clemency.

“Long have my harp’s best notes been gone,
Few are its strings, and faint their tone,
They can but sound in desert lone
      Their gray-haired master’s misery.
Were each gray hair a minstrel string,
Each chord should imprecations fling,
Till startled Scotland loud should ring,
      ‘Revenge for blood and treachery!’”

Views: 28