On Death

In honor of Guy Fawkes Night, we present this work by one of 17th century England’s most contemplative poets.

11-05 Killigrew
Anne Killigrew
English
1660 – 1685

 

Tell me thou safest End of all our Woe,
Why wreched Mortals do avoid thee so:
Thou gentle drier o’th’ afflicteds Tears,
Thou noble ender of the Cowards Fears;
Thou sweet Repose to Lovers sad dispaire,
Thou Calm t’Ambitions rough Tempestuous Care.
If in regard of Bliss thou wert a Curse,
And then the Joys of Paradise art worse;
Yet after Man from his first Station fell,
And God from Eden Adam did expel,
Thou wert no more an Evil, but Relief;
The Balm and Cure to ev’ry Humane Grief:
Through thee (what Man had forfeited before)
He now enjoys, and ne’r can loose it more.

No subtile Serpents in the Grave betray,
Worms on the Body there, not Soul do prey;
No Vice there Tempts, no Terrors there afright,
No Coz’ning Sin affords a false delight:
No vain Contentions do that Peace annoy,
No feirce Alarms break the lasting Joy.

Ah since from thee so many Blessings flow,
Such real Good as Life can never know;
Come when thou wilt, in thy afrighting’st Dress,
Thy Shape shall never make thy Welcome less.
Thou mayst to Joy, but ne’er to Fear give Birth,
Thou Best, as well as Certain’st thing on Earth.
Fly thee? May Travellers then fly their Rest,
And hungry Infants fly the profer’d Brest.
No, those that faint and tremble at thy Name,
Fly from their Good on a mistaken Fame.
Thus Childish fear did Israel of old
From Plenty and the Promis’d Land with-hold;
They fancy’d Giants, and refus’d to go,
When Canaan did with Milk and Honey flow.

Come, My Soul, Awake, ‘Tis Morning

In honor of German Unity Day, we present this work by one of Germany’s most celebratory poets.

Friedrich von Canitz
German
1654 – 1699

 

Come, my soul, awake, ‘t is morning,
Day is dawning
O’er the earth, arise and pray;
Come, to Hime who made this splendour
Thou must render
All thy feeble pow’rs can pay.

Soul, thy incense also proffer;
Thou shouldst offer
Praise to Him, who from thy head
Kept afar the storms of sorrow,
And the morrow
Finds the night in peace hath fled.

Bid Him bless what thou art doing,
If pursuing
Some good aim; but if there lurks
Ill intent in thine endeavour,
May He ever
Thwart and turn thee from thy works.

From God’s glances shrink thou never,
Meet them ever;
Who submits him to His grace,
Finds that earth no sunshine knoweth
Such as gloweth
O’er his pathway all his days.

Wakenest thou again to sorrow,
Oh! then borrow
Strength from Him, whose sun-like might
On the mountain-summit tarries,
And yet carries
To the vales their mirth and light.

Pray that when thy life is closing,
Calm reposing
Thou mayst die, and not in pain;
That, the night of death departed,
Thou, glad-bearted,
Mayst behold the Sun again.

You’re Gone—I’m Alone

In honor of the Turkish holiday, Victory Day, we present this work by one of the country’s most heartfelt poets.

08-30 Nesati
Neşâtî
Turkish
1623 – 1674

 

You’re gone—I’m alone in the company of longing
I no longer want sweet talk with friends if you’re not there

I dare not go to the garden without you
The laughing rose seems red as fire, the swaying cypress a pointed flame

Let me tear a cry from my breast, let me voice such pain
The wheel of the sky turns backward, along with the shining sun

The passing cup at the party is a whirlpool of sadness without you
A whirlpool of bright wine inside the turning bowl

What a shame! Poor Neşâtî is so sick with grief and pain
Both the skirt of companionship, and its collar, are torn by separation’s thorn

Delight in Disorder

We present this work in honor of the poet’s 430th birthday.

08-24 Herrick
Robert Herrick
English
1591 – 1674

 

A sweet disorder in the dress
Kindles in clothes a wantonness;
A lawn about the shoulders thrown
Into a fine distraction;
An erring lace, which here and there
Enthrals the crimson stomacher;
A cuff neglectful, and thereby
Ribands to flow confusedly;
A winning wave, deserving note,
In the tempestuous petticoat;
A careless shoe-string, in whose tie
I see a wild civility:
Do more bewitch me, than when art
Is too precise in every part.

Happy the Man

We present this work in honor of the poet’s 390th birthday.

John Dryden
English
1631 – 1700

Happy the man, and happy he alone,
He who can call today his own:
He who, secure within, can say,
Tomorrow do thy worst, for I have lived today.
Be fair or foul or rain or shine
The joys I have possessed, in spite of fate, are mine.
Not Heaven itself upon the past has power,
But what has been, has been, and I have had my hour.

The Country Justice

We present this work in honor of the poet’s 400th birthday.

07-08 Fontaine
Jean de la Fontaine
French
1621 – 1695

 

Two lawyers to their cause so well adhered,
A country justice quite confused appeared,
By them the facts were rendered so obscure
With which the truth remained he was not sure.
At length, completely tired, two straws he sought
Of diff’rent lengths, and to the parties brought.
These in his hand he held:—the plaintiff drew
(So fate decreed) the shortest of the two.
On this the other homeward took his way,
To boast how nicely he had gained the day.

The bench complained: the magistrate replied
Don’t blame I pray—’tis nothing new I’ve tried;
Courts often judge at hazard in the law,
Without deciding by the longest straw.

The City and the Country

06-24 Al Yusi
Al-Yusi
Moroccan
1631 – 1691

 

Man resorts to the urban mode of living to enjoy commerce and industry,
and all the other techniques his system of living can accommodate,
and also to gain mutual aid, and in view of religious or secular advantages.
In general, all of this can only be achieved by the gathering of many people
likely to furnish the markets, each trade, art, technique, or activity
lending one or more specialists. Now, these conditions are not present
inside a single family, or even inside a single tribe.
They result from the variety of the mix and the size of the mass.
This is so for two reasons. First, because such is the opinion of the collectivity
that takes on those needs. And then, because natural law does not want
a small group to keep the exclusivity of knowledge, or have sole use and possession
of religious or secular advantages, or free itself from other creaturely characteristics
so as to constitute an order proper and useful to itself,
by excluding any consideration of the others.
To the contrary, in His solicitude and wisdom,
God has widely distributed qualifications and advantages among the humans.
Thus it is that one finds a savant among such and such a group, a poet among another,
in yet another an artisan or a merchant, in such manner that mutual aid
can be complete and that everyone can participate in God’s beneficence
by taking on a specific task.