Ilka Blade o’ Grass Keps Its Ain Drap o’ Dew

We present this work in honor of the poet’s 215th birthday.

06-11 Ballantine
James Ballantine
Scots
1806 – 1877

 

Confide ye aye in Providence, for Providence is kind,
And bear ye a’ life’s changes, wi’ a calm and tranquil mind,
Though pressed and hemmed on every side, ha’e faith and ye ‘ll win through,
For ilka blade o’ grass keps its ain drap o’ dew.

Gin reft frae friends or crest in love, as whiles nae doubt ye’ve been,
Grief lies deep hidden in your heart or tears flow frae your een,
Believe it for the best, and trow there’s good in store for you,
For ilka blade o’ grass keps its ain drap o’ dew.
In lang, lang days o’ simmer, when the clear and cloudless sky
Refuses ae wee drap o’ rain to nature parched and dry,
The genial night, wi’ balmy breath, gars verdure spring anew,
And ilka blade o’ grass keps its ain drap o’ dew.

Sae, lest ‘mid fortune’s sunshine we should feel owre proud and hie,
And in our pride forget to wipe the tear frae poortith’s ee,
Some wee dark clouds o’ sorrow come, we ken na whence or hoo,
But ilka blade o’ grass keps its ain drap o’ dew.

Nocturne III

We present this work in honor of the 125th anniversary of the poet’s death.

José Asunción Silva
Colombian
1865 – 1896

 

One night
one night all full of murmurings, of perfumes and music of wings;
one night
in which fantastic fireflies burnt in the humid nuptial shadows,
slowly by my side, pressed altogether close, silent and pale,
as if a presentiment of infinite bitternesses
agitated you unto the most hidden fibers of your being,
along the flowering path which crosses the plain
you walked;
and the full moon
in the infinite and profound blue heavens scattered its white light;
and your shadow,
fine and languid,
and my shadow
projected by the rays of the moon,
upon the sorrowful sands
of the path, joined together;
and they became one,
and they became one,
and they became only one long shadow,
and they became only one long shadow,
and they became only one long shadow…

Tonight
alone; my soul
full of the infinite bitternesses and agonies of your death,
separated from you by time, by the tomb and by distance,
by the infinite blackness
where our voice cannot reach,
silent and alone
along the path I walked…
And the barking of dogs at the moon could be heard,
at the pale moon,
and the chirping
of the frogs…
I felt cold. It was the coldness that in your alcove
your cheeks and your temples and your adoréd hands possessed
within the snowy whiteness
of the mortuary sheets.
It was the coldness of the sepulcher, it was the ice of death,
it was the coldness of oblivion.
And my shadow,
projected by the rays of the moon,
walked alone,
walked alone,
walked alone along the solitary plain;
and your shadow, svelte and agile,
fine and languid,
as in that warm night of springtime death,
as in that night full of murmurings, of perfumes and music of wings,
approached and walked with mine,
approached and walked with mine,
approached and walked with mine… Oh, the shadows intertwined!
Oh, the corporeal shadows united with the shadows of the souls!
Oh, the seeking shadows in those nights of sorrows and of tears!

Farewell to My Mother

Placido
Cuban
1809 – 1844

 

The appointed lot has come upon me, mother,
The mournful ending of my years of strife,
This changing world I leave, and to another
In blood and terror goes my spirit’s life.

But thou, grief-smitten, cease thy mortal weeping
And let thy soul her wonted peace regain;
I fall for right, and thoughts of thee are sweeping
Across my lyre to wake its dying strains.

A strain of joy and gladness, free, unfailing
All glorious and holy, pure, divine,
And innocent, unconscious as the wailing
I uttered on my birth; and I resign

Even now, my life, even now descending slowly,
Faith’s mantle folds me to my slumbers holy.
Mother, farewell! God keep thee — and forever!

Between the Showers

Amy Levy
English
1861 – 1889

 

Between the showers I went my way,
The glistening street was bright with flowers;
It seemed that March had turned to May
Between the showers.

Above the shining roofs and towers
The blue broke forth athwart the grey;
Birds carolled in their leafless bowers.

Hither and tither, swift and gay,
The people chased the changeful hours;
And you, you passed and smiled that day,
Between the showers.

I Went to Heaven

We present this work in honor of the 135th anniversary of the poet’s death.

Emily Dickinson
American
1830 – 1886

 

I went to heaven,—
‘Twas a small town,
Lit with a ruby,
Lathed with down.
Stiller than the fields
At the full dew,
Beautiful as pictures
No man drew.
People like the moth,
Of mechlin, frames,
Duties of gossamer,
And eider names.
Almost contented
I could be
‘Mong such unique
Society.

The Floweret

Vasily Zhukovsky
Russian
1783 – 1852

 

Floweret, faded and forsaken,
Fragile beauty of the lea,
Autumn’s cruel hand hath taken
All thy summer charms from thee.

Heigho! that the years must bring
This same destiny to all;
One by one our joys take wing,
One by one your petals fall.

So each evening rings the knell
Of some dream or rapture perished,
And the fleeting hours dispel
Each some vision fondly cherished.

Life’s illusions lie unmasked,
And the star of hope burns paler.
Has not some sage long since asked:
Men or blossoms — which are frailer?

When First My Way to Fair I Took

We present this work in honor of the 85th anniversary of the poet’s death.

A.E. Housman
English
1859 – 1936

 

When first my way to fair I took
Few pence in purse had I,
And long I used to stand and look
At things I could not buy.

Now times are altered: if I care
To buy a thing, I can;
The pence are here and here’s the fair,
But where’s the lost young man?

—To think that two and two are four
And neither five nor three
The heart of man has long been sore
And long ’tis like to be.

Opportunity

We present this work in honor of the poet’s 180th birthday.

Edward Rowland Sill
American
1841 – 1887

 

This I beheld, or dreamed it in a dream:—
There spread a cloud of dust along a plain;
And underneath the cloud, or in it, raged
A furious battle, and men yelled, and swords
Shocked upon swords and shields. A prince’s banner
Wavered, then staggered backward, hemmed by foes.
A craven hung along the battle’s edge,
And thought, “Had I a sword of keener steal—
That blue blade that the king’s son bears,— but this
Blunt thing—!” He snapped and flung it from his hand,
And lowering crept away and left the field.
Then came the king’s son, wounded sore bestead,
And weaponless, and saw the broken sword
Hilt-buried in the dry and trodden sand,
And ran and snatched it, and with battle-shout
Lifted afresh he hewed his enemy down
And saved a great cause that heroic day.

Speak of the North! A Lonely Moor

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

Charlotte Brontë
English
1816 – 1855

 

Speak of the North! A lonely moor
Silent and dark and tractless swells,
The waves of some wild streamlet pour
Hurriedly through its ferny dells.

Profoundly still the twilight air,
Lifeless the landscape; so we deem
Till like a phantom gliding near
A stag bends down to drink the stream.

And far away a mountain zone,
A cold, white waste of snow-drifts lies,
And one star, large and soft and lone,
Silently lights the unclouded skies.

At Strife

David Edelstadt
Russian
1866 – 1892

 

Hated are we, and driven from our homes,
Tortured and persecuted, even to blood;
And wherefore? ‘Tis because we love the poor,
The masses of mankind, who starve for food.

We are shot down, and on the gallows hanged,
Robbed of our lives and freedom without ruth,
Because for the enslaved and for the poor
We are demanding liberty and truth.

But we will not be frightened from our path
By darksome prisons or by tyranny;
We must awake humanity from sleep,
Yea, we must make our brothers glad and free.

Secure us fast with fetters made of iron,
Tear us like beasts of blood till life departs,
‘Tis but our bodies that you will destroy,
Never the sacred spirit in our hearts.

You cannot kill it, tyrants of the earth!
Our spirit is a plant immortal, fair;
Its petals, sweet of scent and rich of hue,
Are scattered wide, are blooming everywhere.

In thinking men and women now they bloom,
In souls that love the light and righteousness.
As they strive on toward duty’s sacred goal,
Nature herself doth their endeavor bless—

To liberate the poor and the enslaved
Who suffer now from cold and hunger’s blight,
And to create for all humanity
A world that shall be free, that shall be bright;

A world where tears no longer shall be shed,
A world where guiltless blood no more shall flow,
And men and women, like clear-shining stars,
With courage and with love shall be aglow.

You may destroy us, tyrants! ‘Twill be vain.
Time will bring on new fighters strong as we;
For we shall battle ever, on and on,
Nor cease to strive till all the world is free!