A Mood in the Silence

07-24 Salaman
Nina Salaman
English
1877 – 1925

 

Let us be quiet now; let all the voice
Be of calm waters, while the silence singe,
Like a vast rumour of unheard-of things
That know not grief, nor dream how men rejoice.

The low hills love the silence; in the haze
They dream of what the sea is murmuring
In dim reverberance—some hidden thing
The sea learns from its heavenward endless gaze.

These things hold perfect knowledge: lo! The sea,
The hills all satisfied for ever; lo!
The full sun seeth, and the great winds know;
And these things are, while we but strive to be.

The Song of Quoodle

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

06-14 Chesterton
G.K. Chesterton
English
1874 – 1936

 

They haven’t got no noses,
The fallen sons of Eve;
Even the smell of roses
Is not what they supposes;
But more than mind discloses
And more than men believe.

They haven’t got no noses,
They cannot even tell
When door and darkness closes
The park a Jew encloses,
Where even the law of Moses
Will let you steal a smell.

The brilliant smell of water,
The brave smell of a stone,
The smell of dew and thunder,
The old bones buried under,
Are things in which they blunder
And err, if left alone.

The wind from winter forests,
The scent of scentless flowers,
The breath of brides’ adorning,
The smell of snare and warning,
The smell of Sunday morning,
God gave to us for ours

And Quoodle here discloses
All things that Quoodle can,
They haven’t got no noses,
And goodness only knowses
The Noselessness of Man.

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.

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.

from As You Like It

We present this work in honor of the 405th anniversary of the poet’s death.

William Shakespeare
English
1564 – 1616

 

All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages. At first the infant,
Mewling and puking in the nurse’s arms;
And then the whining school-boy, with his satchel
And shining morning face, creeping like snail
Unwillingly to school. And then the lover,
Sighing like furnace, with a woeful ballad
Made to his mistress’ eyebrow. Then a soldier,
Full of strange oaths, and bearded like the pard,
Jealous in honour, sudden and quick in quarrel,
Seeking the bubble reputation
Even in the cannon’s mouth. And then the justice,
In fair round belly with good capon lin’d,
With eyes severe and beard of formal cut,
Full of wise saws and modern instances;
And so he plays his part. The sixth age shifts
Into the lean and slipper’d pantaloon,
With spectacles on nose and pouch on side;
His youthful hose, well sav’d, a world too wide
For his shrunk shank; and his big manly voice,
Turning again toward childish treble, pipes
And whistles in his sound. Last scene of all,
That ends this strange eventful history,
Is second childishness and mere oblivion;
Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.

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.

The Jumblies

We present this work in honor of April Fool’s Day.

Edward Lear
English
1812 – 1888

 

I

They went to sea in a Sieve, they did,
In a Sieve they went to sea:
In spite of all their friends could say,
On a winter’s morn, on a stormy day,
In a Sieve they went to sea!
And when the Sieve turned round and round,
And every one cried, ‘You’ll all be drowned!’
They called aloud, ‘Our Sieve ain’t big,
But we don’t care a button! we don’t care a fig!
In a Sieve we’ll go to sea!’
Far and few, far and few,
Are the lands where the Jumblies live;
Their heads are green, and their hands are blue,
And they went to sea in a Sieve.

II

They sailed away in a Sieve, they did,
In a Sieve they sailed so fast,
With only a beautiful pea-green veil
Tied with a riband by way of a sail,
To a small tobacco-pipe mast;
And every one said, who saw them go,
‘O won’t they be soon upset, you know!
For the sky is dark, and the voyage is long,
And happen what may, it’s extremely wrong
In a Sieve to sail so fast!’
Far and few, far and few,
Are the lands where the Jumblies live;
Their heads are green, and their hands are blue,
And they went to sea in a Sieve.

III

The water it soon came in, it did,
The water it soon came in;
So to keep them dry, they wrapped their feet
In a pinky paper all folded neat,
And they fastened it down with a pin.
And they passed the night in a crockery-jar,
And each of them said, ‘How wise we are!
Though the sky be dark, and the voyage be long,
Yet we never can think we were rash or wrong,
While round in our Sieve we spin!’
Far and few, far and few,
Are the lands where the Jumblies live;
Their heads are green, and their hands are blue,
And they went to sea in a Sieve.

IV

And all night long they sailed away;
And when the sun went down,
They whistled and warbled a moony song
To the echoing sound of a coppery gong,
In the shade of the mountains brown.
‘O Timballo! How happy we are,
When we live in a sieve and a crockery-jar,
And all night long in the moonlight pale,
We sail away with a pea-green sail,
In the shade of the mountains brown!’
Far and few, far and few,
Are the lands where the Jumblies live;
Their heads are green, and their hands are blue,
And they went to sea in a Sieve.

V

They sailed to the Western Sea, they did,
To a land all covered with trees,
And they bought an Owl, and a useful Cart,
And a pound of Rice, and a Cranberry Tart,
And a hive of silvery Bees.
And they bought a Pig, and some green Jack-daws,
And a lovely Monkey with lollipop paws,
And forty bottles of Ring-Bo-Ree,
And no end of Stilton Cheese.
Far and few, far and few,
Are the lands where the Jumblies live;
Their heads are green, and their hands are blue,
And they went to sea in a Sieve.

VI

And in twenty years they all came back,
In twenty years or more,
And every one said, ‘How tall they’ve grown!’
For they’ve been to the Lakes, and the Torrible Zone,
And the hills of the Chankly Bore;
And they drank their health, and gave them a feast
Of dumplings made of beautiful yeast;
And everyone said, ‘If we only live,
We too will go to sea in a Sieve,—
To the hills of the Chankly Bore!’
Far and few, far and few,
Are the lands where the Jumblies live;
Their heads are green, and their hands are blue,
And they went to sea in a Sieve.

The Definition of Love

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

Andrew Marvell
English
1621 – 1678

 

My love is of a birth as rare
As ’tis for object strange and high;
It was begotten by Despair
Upon Impossibility.

Magnanimous Despair alone
Could show me so divine a thing
Where feeble Hope could ne’er have flown,
But vainly flapp’d its tinsel wing.

And yet I quickly might arrive
Where my extended soul is fixt,
But Fate does iron wedges drive,
And always crowds itself betwixt.

For Fate with jealous eye does see
Two perfect loves, nor lets them close;
Their union would her ruin be,
And her tyrannic pow’r depose.

And therefore her decrees of steel
Us as the distant poles have plac’d,
(Though love’s whole world on us doth wheel)
Not by themselves to be embrac’d;

Unless the giddy heaven fall,
And earth some new convulsion tear;
And, us to join, the world should all
Be cramp’d into a planisphere.

As lines, so loves oblique may well
Themselves in every angle greet;
But ours so truly parallel,
Though infinite, can never meet.

Therefore the love which us doth bind,
But Fate so enviously debars,
Is the conjunction of the mind,
And opposition of the stars.

The Wanderers

Grace Aguilar
English
1816 – 1847

 

With sadden’d heart and tearful eye the mother went her way,
The Patriarch’s mandate had gone forth, and Hagar must not stay.
Oh! who can tell the emotions deep that pressed on Abra’am’s heart —
As thus, obedient to his God, from Ismael called to part!

But God had spoken, and he knew His word was changeless truth,
He could not doubt His blessing would protect the friendless youth;
He bade him go, nor would he heed the anguish of his soul;
He turned aside, — a father’s woe in silence to control.

Now hand in hand they wend their way, o’er hills and vale and wild;
The mother’s heart was full of grief, but smiled in glee her child:
Fearless and free, he felt restraint would never gall him now —
And hail’d with joy the fresh’ning breeze that fann’d his fair young brow.

His mother’s heart was desolate, and tears swell’d in her eye;
Scarce to his artless words of love her quiv’ring lips reply.
She only saw the future as a lone and dreary wild:
The present stood before the lad in joyance undefil’d.

She knew, alas! his boyish strength too soon would droop and fade;
And who was, in that lonely scene, to give them food and aid?
With trembling gaze she oft would mark the flushing of his cheek,
And list in terror, lest he should ‘gin falteringly to speak!

Fatigue she felt not for herself, nor heeded care nor pain —
But nearer, nearer to her breast her boy at times she’d strain;
Beersheba’s wilderness they see before them dark and wide;
Oh, who across its scorching sand their wandering steps will guide?

The flush departed from the cheek which she so oft has kiss’d;
To his glad tones of childish glee no longer may she list;
A pallor as of death is spread o’er those sweet features now —
She sees him droop before the blast that fann’d his aching brow.

“Oh, mother lay me down,” he cried, “I know not what I feel,
But something cold and rushing seems thro’ all my limbs to steal —
Oh kiss me, mother dear, and then ah, lay me down to sleep —
Nay, do not look upon me thus — kiss me and do not weep!”

Scarce could her feeble arms support her child, and lay him where
Some clustering shrubs might shield him from the heavy scorching air;
His drooping eyelids closed; his breath came painfully and slow —
She bent her head on his a while in wild yet speechless woe.

Then from his side she hurried, as impelled she knew not why,
Save that she could not linger there — she could not see him die —
She lifted up her voice and wept — and o’er the lonely wild
“Let me not see his death!” was borne, “my Ismael, my child!”

And silence came upon her then, her stricken soul to calm;
And suddenly and strange there fell a soft and soothing balm —
And then a voice came stealing, on the still and fragrant air —
A still small voice that would be heard, tho’ solitude was there.

“What aileth thee, oh Hagar?” thus it spoke: fear not, for God hath heard
The lad’s voice where he is, — and thou, trust in thy Maker’s word!
Awake! arise! lift up the lad and hold him in thine hand —
I will of him a nation make, before Me, he shall stand.”

It ceased, that voice; and silence now, as strangely soft and still,
The boundless desert once again with eloquence would fill —
And strength returned to Hagar’s frame, for God hath oped her eyes —
And lo! amid the arid sands a well of water lies!

Quick to her boy, with beating heart, the anxious mother flies,
And to his lips, and hands, and brow, the cooling draught applies —
He wakes! he breathes! the flush of life is mantling on his cheek —
He smiles! he speaks! oh those quick tears his mother’s joy shall speak!

She held him to her throbbing breast, she gazed upon his face —
The beaming features, one by one, in silent love to trace
She bade him kneel to bless the Hand that saved him in the wild —

But oh! few words her lips could speak, save these — “My child, my child!”

To the Tune of the Coventry Carol

We present this work in honor of the 50th anniversary of the poet’s death.

Stevie Smith
English
1902 – 1971

 

The nearly right
And yet not quite
In love is wholly evil
And every heart
That loves in part
Is mortgaged to the devil

I loved or thought
I loved in sort
Was this to love akin?
To take the best
And leave the rest
And let the devil in?

O lovers true
And others too
Whose best is only better
Take my advice
Shun compromise
Forget him and forget her