The Dawn

We present this work in honor of the poet’s 205th birthday.

José Jacinto Milanés
Cuban
1814 – 1863

 

I can but pity him, the one
Who lingers in dull Slumber’s thralls,
While on his roof, unnoticed, fall
The effulgence of the rising sun.

Is there a purer, rarer treat
Than to leap off the wrinkled bed,
And, in the country, lightly tread
Of dewy grass the carpet neat?

I say the country, for I ween
Sweet Morning loses half her smile
Without there be soft winds the while,
And much of blue, and much of green.

These are not had in town, where gray,
And cold and damp, the misty gloom,
As in a suffocating tomb,
Shuts out the morning smile of day.

And then, those rows of houses tall,
With their grim faces, rigid, even,
Weary the soul: the light of heaven
By fragments seems on them to fall.

No! I must stray with footsteps free,
In some delightful rustic place
Without a blur the virgin face
Of life-restoring Morn to see.

To see her in her robe of light,
Far in the crimson Orient shine, —
Like a pure maid, whose smile divine
Elates the soul with chaste delight.

Oh! is there one so poor of thought,
And with a heart so dead and cold,
Who can at the break of day behold
Sweet Nature’s charms, and love her not?

See her with life and beauty new
Roll with the ever murm’ring river;
With the lithe branches dance and quiver;
Sparkle in the resplendent dew.

Low in the reptile on the ground;
Erect and nimble in the brute;
Delicious in the hanging fruit;
Smiling in all the flowers around!

Ah me! I do remember well
When but a simple, beardless boy,
How oft, and with what eager joy,
Came I upon such scenes to dwell!

Now would a butterfly’s light wings
Entrance me with their gaudy hues;
Then would I set myself to muse
Upon a rose, — and dream such things!

And always gay! ‘Twas natural:
Care had not yet impress’d its furrow
Upon my brow, nor had of sorrow
Tasted my lips the bitter gall!

Those days of boyhood vanish’d soon;
Anon, I felt Love’s burning sting;
And then I deemed a foolish thing
To doat on hill, and sun, and moon.

Ungrateful that I was! But how
Severely, Nature, did I pay
For my neglect! She who for aye
Had vowed to love, — forgot her vow!

Most bitterly I wept, and yearned
For her dear presence; and my strength
I fear’d me would have failed… At length
Peace to my shatter’d heart returned.

Oh! what an anguish most sublime
‘Tis to forget! But ah! at last
The iron chain that bound me fast
Fell ‘neath the steady strokes of Time.

Time! Who with hand unseen and noiseless
Pours on our raven locks his snow;
Quenches the light in eyes that glow,
And Beauty’s lips makes pale and voiceless!

And now, once more, I love to stroll
And view sweet Nature at this hour;
For, then, her freshness has the pow’r
To soothe the fever of my soul.

But still I feel deep in my breast
The old wounds bleeding, and I sigh
Whene’er I happen to pass by,
Hand clasp’ed in hand, two lovers blest.

And even sometimes, if I hear
The tender whisp’rings, fraught with meaning,
Of two palms to each other leaning,
I feel a loneliness most dreer!…

If, on a bough, I see, alone,
Two birds exchange delightful lays;
If two stars blend their am’rous rays;
If two waves rolling into one;

If two clouds in the heavens glide,
And on their way their shadows mingle;
If two paths, meeting, form a single;
If two hills standing side by side;

I linger; and with gloomy mood
Remember that I’m loved by none;
That while so many a mated one
There be, I weep in solitude!

The Mermaid’s Gift of Prophecy

Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill
Irish
b. 1952

 

1.There’s some idea at the back of her mind she just can’t put into words. ‘That young fellow out there—I don’t seem to be able to recall his name—he’s—he’s— (a small break here while her hand shakes) he’s in a dark place.’

2. Who does she mean? My son? My husband? Or some other member of the family? Or is she, at some other level, referring to herself?

3. She was always deep.
But now she seems to be talking up to us
from a bottomless well.

The 51st Highland Division’s Farewell to Sicily

We present this work in honor of Veterans Day.

Hamish Henderson
Scots
1919 – 2002

 

The pipie is dozie, the pipie is fey,
He winna come roon’ for his vino the day.
The sky ow’r Messina is unco an’ grey,
An ’a’ the bricht chaulmers are eerie.

Then fare weel ye banks o’ Sicily,
Fare ye weel ye valley and shaw.
There’s nae Jock will mourn the kyles o’ ye,
Puir bliddy swaddies are wearie.

Fare weel, ye banks o’ Sicily,
Fare ye weel, ye valley and shaw.
There’s nae hame can smoor the wiles o’ ye,
Puir bliddy swaddies are wearie.

Then doon the stair and line the waterside,
Wait your turn, the ferry’s awa’.
Then doon the stair and line the waterside,
A’ the bricht chaulmers are eerie.

The drummie is polisht, the drummie is braw
He cannae be seen for his webbin’ ava.
He’s beezed himsel’ up for a photy an a’
Tae leave wi’ his Lola, his dearie.

Sae fare weel, ye dives o’ Sicily
(Fare ye weel, ye shieling an’ ha’),
We’ll a’ mind shebeens and bothies
Whaur kind signorinas were cheerie.

Fare weel, ye banks o’ Sicily
(Fare ye weel, ye shielings an’ ha’);
We’ll a’ mind shebeens and bothies
Whaur Jock made a date wi’ his dearie.

Then tune the pipes and drub the tenor drum
(Leave your kit this side o’ the wa’).
Then tune the pipes and drub the tenor drum
A’ the bricht chaulmers are eerie.

All Pervading Consciousness

In honor of the Prophet’s Birthday, we present this work by one of Persia’s greatest Muslim poets.

Attar of Nishapur
Persian
1145 – 1220

 

And as His Essence all the world pervades
Naught in Creation is, save this alone.
Upon the waters has He fixed His Throne,
This earth suspended in the starry space,
Yet what are seas and what is air? For all
Is God, and but a talisman are heaven and earth
To veil Divinity. For heaven and earth,
Did He not permeate them, were but names;
Know then, that both this visible world and that
Which unseen is, alike are God Himself,
Naught is, save God: and all that is, is God.

And yet, alas! by how few is He seen,
Blind are men’s eyes, though all resplendent shines
The world by Deity’s own light illumined,
O Thou whom man perceiveth not, although
To him Thou deignest to make known Thyself;
Thou all Creation art, all we behold, but Thou,
The soul within the body lies concealed,
And Thou dost hide Thyself within the soul,
O soul in soul! Myst’ry in myst’ry hid!
Before all wert Thou, and are more than all!

Light

Margaret Tait
Scots
1918 – 1999

 

Did you say it’s made of waves?
Yes, that’s it.
I wonder what the waves are made of.
Oh, waves are made of waves.
Waves are what they are,
Shimmeringness,
Oscillation,
Rhythmical movement which is the inherent essence of all things.
Ultimately, there’s only movement,
Nothing else.
The movement that light is
Comes out of the sun
And it’s so gorgeous a thing
That nothing else is ever anything unless lit by it.