Poem of the day

On Lucy, Countess of Bedford
by Ben Jonson (1572-1637)

This morning timely wrapt with holy fire,
I thought to form unto my zealous Muse,
What kind of creature I could most desire
To know, serve, and love, as Poets use.
I meant to make her fair, and free, and wise,
Of greatest blood, and yet more good than great;
I meant the day-star should not brighter rise,
Nor lend like influence from his lucent seat;
I meant she should be courteous, facile, sweet,
Hating that solemn vice of greatness, pride;
I meant each softest virtue there should meet,
Fit in that softer bosom to reside.
Only a learned, and a manly soul
I purposed her: that should with even powers,
The rock, the spindle, and the shears control
Of Destiny, and spin her own free hours.
Such when I meant to feign, and wished to see,
My Muse bade Bedford write, and that was she!

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Poem of the day

To the Stone-Cutters
by Robinson Jeffers (1887-1962)

Stone-cutters fighting time with marble, you foredefeated
Challengers of oblivion
Eat cynical earnings, knowing rock splits, records fall down,
The square-limbed Roman letters
Scale in the thaws, wear in the rain. The poet as well
Builds his monument mockingly;
For man will be blotted out, the blithe earth die, the brave sun
Die blind and blacken to the heart:
Yet stones have stood for a thousand years, and pained thoughts found
The honey of peace in old poems.

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Poem of the day

The Chambered Nautilus
by Oliver Wendell Holmes (1809-1894)

This is the ship of pearl, which, poets feign,
               Sailed the unshadowed main,—
               The venturous bark that flings
On the sweet summer wind its purpled wings
In gulfs enchanted, where the Siren sings,
               And coral reefs lie bare,
Where the cold sea-maids rise to sun their streaming hair.

Its webs of living gauze no more unfurl;
               Wrecked is the ship of pearl!
               And every chambered cell,
Where its dim dreaming life was wont to dwell,
As the frail tenant shaped his growing shell,
               Before thee lies revealed,—
Its irised ceiling rent, its sunless crypt unsealed!

Year after year beheld the silent toil
               That spread his lustrous coil;
               Still, as the spiral grew,
He left the past year’s dwelling for the new,
Stole with soft step its shining archway through,
               Built up its idle door,
Stretched in his last-found home, and knew the old no more.

Thanks for the heavenly message brought by thee,
               Child of the wandering sea,
               Cast from her lap, forlorn!
From thy dead lips a clearer note is born
Than ever Triton blew from wreathèd horn!
               While on mine ear it rings,
Through the deep caves of thought I hear a voice that sings:—

Build thee more stately mansions, O my soul,
               As the swift seasons roll!
               Leave thy low-vaulted past!
Let each new temple, nobler than the last,
Shut thee from heaven with a dome more vast,
               Till thou at length art free,
Leaving thine outgrown shell by life’s unresting sea!

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Poem of the day

Deidad
by Amado Nervo (1870-1919)

Como duerme la chispa en el guijarro
y la estatua en el barro,
en ti duerme la divinidad.
Tan sólo en un dolor constante y fuerte
al choque, brota de la piedra inerte
el relámpago de la deidad.
No te quejes, por tanto, del destino,
pues lo que en tu interior hay de divino
sólo surge merced a él.
Soporta, si es posible, sonriendo,
la vida que el artista va esculpiendo,
el duro choque del cincel.

Qué importan para ti las horas malas,
si cada hora en tus nacientes alas
pone una pluma bella más?
Ya verás al cóndor en plena altura,
ya verás concluida la escultura,
ya verás, alma, ya verás…

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Poem of the day

The Sweets of Evening
by Christopher Smart (1722-1771)

The sweets of Evening charm the mind,
      Sick of the sultry day;
The body then no more’s confin’d,
But exercise with freedom join’d,
      When Phoebus sheathes his ray.

The softer scenes of nature sooth
      The organs of our sight;
The Zephyrs fan the meadows smooth,
And on the brook we build the booth
      In pastoral delight.

While all-serene the summer moon
      Sends glances thro’ the trees,
And Philomel begins her tune,
Asteria too shall help her soon
      With voice of skilful ease.

A nosegay, every thing that grows,
      And music, every sound
To lull the sun to his repose;
The skies are coloured like the rose
      With lively streaks around.

Of all the changes rung by Time
      None half so sweet appear,
As those when thoughts themselves sublime,
And with superior natures chime
      In fancy’s highest sphere.

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Poem of the day

Love Lives Beyond the Tomb
by John Clare (1793-1864)

Love lives beyond
The tomb, the earth, which fades like dew-
I love the fond,
The faithful, and the true.
Love lies in sleep,
The happiness of healthy dreams,
Eve’s dews may weep,
But love delightful seems.
‘Tis seen in flowers,
And in the even’s pearly dew
On earth’s green hours,
And in the heaven’s eternal blue.

’Tis heard in spring
When light and sunbeams, warm and kind,
On angels wing
Bring love and music to the wind.
And where is voice
So young, so beautiful, so sweet
As nature’s choice,
Where spring and lovers meet?
Love lies beyond
The tomb, the earth, the flowers, and dew.
I love the fond,
The faithful, young, and true.

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Poem of the day

A Gillyflower of Gold
by William Morris (1834-1896)

A golden gillyflower to-day
I wore upon my helm alway,
And won the prize of this tourney.
      Hah! hah! la belle jaune giroflée.

However well Sir Giles might sit,
His sun was weak to wither it,
Lord Miles’s blood was dew on it:
      Hah! hah! la belle jaune giroflée.

Although my spear in splinters flew,
From John’s steel-coat my eye was true;
I wheel’d about, and cried for you,
      Hah! hah! la belle jaune giroflée.

Yea, do not doubt my heart was good,
Though my sword flew like rotten wood,
To shout, although I scarcely stood,
      Hah! hah! la belle jaune giroflée.

My hand was steady too, to take
My axe from round my neck, and break
John’s steel-coat up for my love’s sake.
      Hah! hah! la belle jaune giroflée.

When I stood in my tent again,
Arming afresh, I felt a pain
Take hold of me, I was so fain—
      Hah! hah! la belle jaune giroflée.

To hear: “Honneur aux fils des preux”
Right in my ears again, and shew
The gillyflower blossom’d new.
      Hah! hah! la belle jaune giroflée.

The Sieur Guillaume against me came,
His tabard bore three points of flame
From a red heart: with little blame—
      Hah! hah! la belle jaune giroflée.

Our tough spears crackled up like straw;
He was the first to turn and draw
His sword, that had nor speck nor flaw,—
      Hah! hah! la belle jaune giroflée.

But I felt weaker than a maid,
And my brain, dizzied and afraid,
Within my helm a fierce tune play’d,—
      Hah! hah! la belle jaune giroflée.

Until I thought of your dear head,
Bow’d to the gillyflower bed,
The yellow flowers stain’d with red;—
      Hah! hah! la belle jaune giroflée.

Crash! how the swords met, “giroflée!”
The fierce tune in my helm would play,
“La belle! la belle! jaune giroflée!”
      Hah! hah! la belle jaune giroflée.

Once more the great swords met again,
“La belle! la belle!” but who fell then?
Le Sieur Guillaume, who struck down ten;—
      Hah! hah! la belle jaune giroflée.

And as with mazed and unarm’d face,
Toward my own crown and the Queen’s place,
They led me at a gentle pace—
      Hah! hah! la belle jaune giroflée.

I almost saw your quiet head
Bow’d o’er the gillyflower bed,
The yellow flowers stain’d with red—
      Hah! hah! la belle jaune giroflée.

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Poem of the day

Dear Harp of My Country
by Thomas Moore (1779-1852)

Dear Harp of my Country! in darkness I found thee,
      The cold chain of silence had hung o’er thee long,
When proudly, my own Island Harp, I unbound thee,
      And gave all thy chords to light, freedom, and song!

The warm lay of love and the light note of gladness
      Have wakened thy fondest, thy liveliest thrill;
But, so oft hast thou echoed the deep sigh of sadness,
      That even in thy mirth it will steal from thee still.

Dear Harp of my country! farewell to thy numbers,
      This sweet wreath of song is the last we shall twine!
Go, sleep with the sunshine of Fame on thy slumbers,
      Till touched by some hand less unworthy than mine;

If the pulse of the patriot, soldier, or lover,
      Have throbbed at our lay, ’tis thy glory alone;
I was but as the wind, passing heedlessly over,
      And all the wild sweetness I waked was thy own.

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Poem of the day

Le Vase brisée
by René Armand François “Sully” Prudhome (1839-1907)

Le vase où meurt cette verveine
D’un coup d’éventail fut fêlé;
Le coup dut effleurer à peine:
Aucun bruit ne l’a révélé.

Mais la légère meurtrissure,
Mordant le cristal chaque jour,
D’une marche invisible et sûre
En a fait lentement le tour.

Son eau fraîche a fui goutte à goutte,
Le suc des fleurs s’est épuisé;
Personne encore ne s’en doute;
N’y touchez pas, il est brisé.

Souvent aussi la main qu’on aime,
Effleurant le cœur, le meurtrit;
Puis le cœur se fend de lui-même,
La fleur de son amour périt;

Toujours intact aux yeux du monde,
Il sent croître et pleurer tout bas
Sa blessure fine et profonde;
Il est brisé, n’y touchez pas.

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Poem of the day

At the Polo-Ground
by Samuel Ferguson (1810-1886)

Not yet in sight.’Twere well to step aside,
Beyond the common eye-shot, till he comes.
He—I’ve no quarrel under heaven with him:
I’d rather it were Forster; rather still
One higher up than either; but since Fate
Or Chance has so determined, be it he.
How cool I feel; and all my wits about
And vigilant; and such a work in hand!
Yes: loitering here, unoccupied, may draw
Remark and question. How came such a one there?
Oh; I’ve strolled out to see the polo-players:
I’ll step across to them; but keep an eye
On who comes up the highway.
                                    Here I am
Beside the hurdles fencing off the ground
They’ve taken from us who have the right to it,
For these select young gentry and their sport.
Curse them! I would they all might break their necks!
Young fops and lordlings of the garrison
Kept up by England here to keep us down:
All rich young fellows not content to own
Their chargers, hacks, and hunters for the field,
But also special ponies for their game;
And doubtless, as they dash along, regard
Us who stand outside as a beggarly crew.—
’Tis half-past six. Not yet. No, that’s not he.—
Well, but ’tis pretty, sure, to see them stoop
And take the ball, full gallop; and when I
In gown and cocked hat once drove up Cork Hill,
Perhaps myself have eyed the common crowd,
Lining the footway, with a similar sense
Of higher station, just as these do me,
And as the man next door no doubt does them.
      ’Tis very sure that grades and differences
Of rich and poor and small men and grandees
Have all along existed, and still will,—
Though many a man has risen and thriven well
By promising the Poor to make them rich
By taking from the Rich their overplus,
And putting all on a level: beggars all.
Yet still the old seize-ace comes round again;
And though my friends upon the pathway there—
No. Not he neither. That’s a taller man—
Look for a general scramble and divide,
Such a partition, were it possible,
Would not by any means suit me. My share
Already earned and saved would equal ten
Such millionth quotients and sub-multiples.
No: they may follow Davitt. ’Tis Parnell
And property—in proper hands—will win.
But, say the Mob’s the Master; and who knows
But some o’ these days the ruffians may have votes
As good as mine or his, and pass their Act
For every man his share, and equal all?
No doubt they’d have a slice from me. What then?
I’m not afraid. I’ll float. Allow the scums
Rise to the surface, something rises too
Not scum, but Carey; and will yet rise higher.
No place too high but he may look for it.
Member for Dublin, Speaker, President,
Lord Mayor for life—why not? One gentleman,
Who when he comes to deal with this day’s work—
No: not in sight. That man is not so tall—
Will find, to his surprise, a stronger hand
Than his controls the rudder, sat three years
And hangs his medal on the sheriff’s chain.
Yes; say Lord Mayor: my liveries green and gold,
My secretary with me in my coach,
And chaplain duly seated by my side.
My boy shall have his hack, and pony too,
And play at polo with the best of them;
Such as will then be best. He need not blush
To think his father was a bricklayer;
For laying bricks is work as reputable
As filling noggins or appraising pawns,
Or other offices of those designed
For fathers of our Dublin swells to be.
      ’Tis twenty minutes now to seven o’clock.
What if he should not come at all? ’Twere then
Another—oh—fiasco as they call it,
Not pleasant to repeat to Number One,
But, for myself, perhaps not wholly bad.
For, if he comes, there will be consequences
Will make a stir; and in that stir my name
May come in play—well, one must run some risk
Who takes a lead and keeps and thrives by it
As I have done. But sure the risk is small.
I know those cut-throats on the pathway there
May be relied on. Theirs is work that shuts
The door against approval of both sorts.
But he who drives them, I’ve remarked in him
A flighty indecision in the eye,
Such as, indeed, had I a looking-glass,
I might perhaps discover in my own
When thoughts have crossed me how I should behave
In this or that conjuncture of the affair.
Him I distrust. But not from him or them
Or any present have I aught to fear.
For never have I talked to more than one
Of these executive agents at a time,
Nor let a scrap of writing leave my hand
Could compromise myself with anyone.
And should I—though I don’t expect I shall—
Be brought, at any time, to book for this,
’Twill not be—or I much mistake—because
Of any indiscretion hitherto.
But, somehow, these reflections make me pause
And set me inly questioning myself,
Is it worth while—the crime itself apart—
To pull this settled civil state of life
To pieces, for another just the same,
Only with rawer actors for the posts
Of Judges, Landlords, Masters, Capitalists?
And then, the innocent blood. I’ve half a mind
To trip across the elm-root at my foot,
And turn my ankle.
                           Oh, he comes at last!
No time for thinking now. My own life pays
Unless I play my part. I see he brings
Another with him, and, I think, the same
I heard them call Lord—something—Cavendish.
If one; two, likely. That can’t now be helped.
Up. Drive on straight,—if I blow my nose
And show my handkerchief in front of them,
And then turn back, what’s that to anyone?
No further, driver. Back to Island Bridge.
No haste. If some acquaintance chanced top pass,
He must not think that we are running away.
I don’t like, but I can’t help looking back.
They meet: my villains pass them. Gracious Powers,
Another failure! No, they turn again
And overtake; and Brady lifts his arm—
I’ll see no more. On—by the Monument.
On—brisker, brisker—but yet leisurely.
By this time all is over with them both.
Ten minutes more, the Castle has the news,
And haughty Downing Street in half an hour
Is struck with palsy. For a moment there,
Among the trees, I wavered. Brady’s knife
Has cut the knot of my perplexities;
Despite myself, my fortune mounts again.
The English rule will soon be overthrown,
And ours established in the place of it.
I’m free again to look, as long as I please,
In Fortune’s show-box. Yes; I see the chain,
I see the gilded coach. God send the boy
May take the polish! There’s but one thing now
That troubles me. These cursed knives at home
That woman brought me, what had best be done
To put them out o’ the way? I have it. Yes,
That old Fitzsimon’s roof’s in need of repairs.
I’ll leave them in his cock-loft. Still in time
To catch the tram, I’ll take a seat a-top—
For no one must suppose I’ve anything
To hide—and show myself in Grafton Street.

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