We present this work in honor of the poet’s 130th birthday.
Clear as the endless ecstasy of stars That mount for ever on an intense air; Or running pools, of water cold and rare, In chiselled gorges deep amid the scaurs, So still, the bright dawn were their best device, Yet like a thought that has no end they flow; Or Venus, when her white unearthly glow Sharpens like awe on skies as green as ice:
To such a clearness love is come at last, Not disembodied, transubstantiate, But substance and its essence now are one; And love informs, yet is the form create. No false gods now, the images o’ercast, We are love’s body, or we are undone.
We present this work in honor of the poet’s 235th birthday.
She walks in beauty, like the night Of cloudless climes and starry skies; And all that’s best of dark and bright Meet in her aspect and her eyes; Thus mellowed to that tender light Which heaven to gaudy day denies.
One shade the more, one ray the less, Had half impaired the nameless grace Which waves in every raven tress, Or softly lightens o’er her face; Where thoughts serenely sweet express, How pure, how dear their dwelling-place.
And on that cheek, and o’er that brow, So soft, so calm, yet eloquent, The smiles that win, the tints that glow, But tell of days in goodness spent, A mind at peace with all below, A heart whose love is innocent!
We present this work in honor of the poet’s 100th birthday.
Got a letter from a thrush. Come and see me compose. So I went. She stuck her beak into the ink and sputtered on to the manuscript. Then sang it. Tra la la tweet tweet warble warble ptui ptui. When she finished I was asked for an opinion. With a grave look I opined: Well it’s very good. Regular thrush music good range plenty of variety nice timbre. Look Cutler said thrush do you think it’s worth making a demodisc or a tape and going round the agents? I think it’s chart material. Look thrush I replied it could only succeed as a gimmick. Yea, I suppose, she tweeted and flew into a stump.
We present this work in honor of the poet’s 75th birthday.
after John Donne’s ‘A Nocturnal on St Lucy’s Day’
At midday on the year’s midnight into my mind came I saw the new moon late yestreen wi the auld moon in her airms though, no, there is no moon of course – there’s nothing very much of anything to speak of in the sky except a gey dreich greyness rain-laden over Glasgow and today there is the very least of even this for us to get but the light comes back the light always comes back and this begins tomorrow with however many minutes more of sun and serotonin.
Meanwhile there will be the winter moon for us to love the longest, fat in the frosty sky among the sharpest stars, and lines of old songs we can’t remember why we know or when first we heard them will aye come back once in a blue moon to us unbidden
We present this work in honor of the 145th anniversary of the poet’s death.
Stout Laird o’ Blackford Hill, let me But gain your honour’s lug a wee, I fain wad let your lairdship see Sufficient cause To mak your hill to a’ as free As ance it was.
Weel mind I o’ the joyous days I gathered hips, an’ haws, an’ slaes, Climbing ower Blackford’s heathy braes Birds’ nests to herry, Or smearing face, an’ hands, an’ claes, Wi’ bramble berry …
Then shall a laird whase kindly heart Has ever ta’en the puir man’s part, Be reckon’d like some mean upstart, O’ saulless stature, Wha sells, as at an auction mart, The face o’ nature?
Though bairns may pu’, when yap or drouthy, A neep or bean, to taste their mouthy, Losh, man! their hames are no sae couthy As your bien Ha’; Though puir folks’ bairns are unco toothie, Their feeding’s sma’.
An’ a’ the neeps, an’ a’ the beans, The hips, the haws, the slaes, the geens, That e’er were pu’ed by hungry weans, Could ne’er be missed By lairds like you, wi’ ample means In bank and kist.
Then listen to my earnest prayer, An’ open Blackford Hill ance mair; Let us a’ pree the caller air That sweeps its braes, An’ mak it worth the poet’s care To sing your praise.
We present this work in honor of the poet’s 480th birthday.
‘Tis not because my strength outranks both flame and brand, Nor because my facets display a cunning hand, Nor because, set in fine-wrought gold, I shine so bright, Nor even that I’m pure, whiter than Phoebus’ light, But rather because my form is a heart, like unto My Mistress’ heart (but for hardness), that I’m sent to you. For all things must yield to unfettered purity And she is my true equal in each quality. For who would fail to grant that once I had been sent, My Mistress should thus, in turn, find favour and content? May it please, from these omens I shall gather strength And thus from Queen to equal Queen I’ll pass at length. O would I could join them with an iron band alone (Though all prefer gold) and unite their hearts as one That neither envy, greed nor gossip’s evil play, Nor mistrust, nor ravaging time could wear away. Then they’d say among treasures I was most renowned, For I’d have two great jewels in one setting bound. Then with my glitt’ring rays I should confound the sight Of all who saw me, dazzling enemies with my light. Then, by my worth and by her art, I should be known As the diamond, the greatest jewel, the mighty stone.
We present this work in honor of the 120th anniversary of the poet’s death.
Beautiful Railway Bridge of the Silv’ry Tay! Alas! I am very sorry to say That ninety lives have been taken away On the last Sabbath day of 1879, Which will be remember’d for a very long time.
‘Twas about seven o’clock at night, And the wind it blew with all its might, And the rain came pouring down, And the dark clouds seemed to frown, And the Demon of the air seem’d to say— “I’ll blow down the Bridge of Tay.”
When the train left Edinburgh The passengers’ hearts were light and felt no sorrow, But Boreas blew a terrific gale, Which made their hearts for to quail, And many of the passengers with fear did say— “I hope God will send us safe across the Bridge of Tay.”
But when the train came near to Wormit Bay, Boreas he did loud and angry bray, And shook the central girders of the Bridge of Tay On the last Sabbath day of 1879, Which will be remember’d for a very long time.
So the train sped on with all its might, And Bonnie Dundee soon hove in sight, And the passengers’ hearts felt light, Thinking they would enjoy themselves on the New Year, With their friends at home they lov’d most dear, And wish them all a happy New Year.
So the train mov’d slowly along the Bridge of Tay, Until it was about midway, Then the central girders with a crash gave way, And down went the train and passengers into the Tay! The Storm Fiend did loudly bray, Because ninety lives had been taken away, On the last Sabbath day of 1879, Which will be remember’d for a very long time.
As soon as the catastrophe came to be known The alarm from mouth to mouth was blown, And the cry rang out all o’er the town, Good heavens! the Tay Bridge is blown down, And a passenger train from Edinburgh, Which fill’d all the people’s hearts with sorrow, And made them all for to turn pale, Because none of the passengers were sav’d to tell the tale How the disaster happen’d on the last Sabbath day of 1879, Which will be remember’d for a very long time.
It must have been an awful sight, To witness in the dusky moonlight, While the Storm Fiend did laugh, and angry did bray, Along the Railway Bridge of the Silv’ry Tay. Oh! ill-fated Bridge of the Silv’ry Tay, I must now conclude my lay By telling the world fearlessly without least dismay, That your central girders would not have given way, At least many sensible men do say, Had they been supported on each side with buttresses, At least many sensible men confesses, For the stronger we our houses do build, The less chance we have of being killed.
We present this work in honor of the poet’s 260th birthday.
In these our days of sentiment When youthful poets all lament Some dear lost joy, some cruel maid; Old friendship changed and faith betrayed; The world’s cold frown and every ill That tender hearts with anguish fill; Loathing this world and all its folly, In lays most musical and melancholy,– Touching a low and homely string, May poet of a Parrot sing With dignity uninjured? say!– No; but a simple rhymester may. Well then, I see thee calm and sage, Perched on the summit of thy cage, With broad, hooked beak and plumage green, Changing to azure in the light, Gay pinions tipped with scarlet bright, And, strong for mischief, use or play, Thick talons, crisped with silver grey,– A gallant bird, I ween! What courtly dame, for ball-room drest– What gartered lord in silken vest– On wedding morn what country bride With groom bedizened by her side– What youngsters in their fair-day geer, Did ever half so fine appear? Alas! at ball, or, church, or fair, Were ne’er assembled visions rare Of moving creatures all so gay As in thy native woods, where day In blazing torrid brightness played Through checkered boughs and gently made A ceaseless morris-dance of sheen and shade! In those blest woods, removed from man, Thy early being first began, ‘Mid gay compeers, who, blest as thou, Hopped busily from bough to bough, Robbing each loaded branch at pleasure Of berries, buds and kerneled treasure; Then rose aloft with outspread wing, Then stooped on flexile twig to swing, Then coursed and circled through the air, Mate chasing mate, full many a pair. It would have set one’s heart a dancing To ‘ve seen their varied feathers glancing, And thought how many happy things Creative Goodness into being brings. But now how changed! it is thy doom Within a walled and windowed room To hold thy home, and (all forgot The traces of thy former lot), Clutching the wires with progress slow, Still round and round thy cage to go. Or cross the carpet:–altered case! This now is all thy daily travel’s space. Yet here thou art a cherished droll, Known by the name of Pretty Poll; Oft fed by lady’s gentle hand With sops and sugar at command, And sometimes too a nut or cherry, Which in thy claws to beak and eye Thou seemest to raise right daintily, Turning it oft, as if thou still Wert scanning it with cautious skill, Provoking urchins near to laughter loud and merry. See, gathered round, a rosy band, With eager upcast eyes they stand, Marking thy motions and withal Delighting on thy name to call; And hear, like human speech, reply Come from thy beak most curiously. They shout, they mowe, they grin, they giggle, Clap hands, hoist arms, and shoulders wriggle; O here, well may we say or sing, That learning is a charming thing! For thou, beneath thy wire-wove dome, A learned creature hast become; And hast, by dint of oft repeating, Got words by rote, the vulgar cheating Which, once in ten times well applied, Are to the skies with praises cried. So lettered dunces oft impose On simple fools their studied prose. Aye; o’er thy round though unwigged head, Full many a circling year has sped, Since thou kept terms within thy college, From many tutors, short and tall, In braid or bonnet, cap or caul, Imbibing wonderous stores of seeming knowledge. And rarely Bachelor of Arts Or Master (dare we say it?) imparts To others such undoubted pleasure From all his stores of classic treasure: And ladies sage, whose learned saws To cognoscenti friends give laws, Rarely, I trow, can so excite A listening circle with delight. And rarely their acquirements shine Through such a lengthened course as thine. The grannums of this group so gay, Who round thee now their homage pay, Belike have in such youthful glee, With admiration gazed on thee; And yet no wrinkled line betrays The long course of thy lengthened days, Thy bark of life has kept afloat As on a shoreless sea, where not Or change or progress may be traced; Time hath with thee been leaden-paced. But ah! proud beauty, on whose head Some three-score years no blight hath shed, Untoward days will come at length, When thou, of spirit reft and strength, Wilt mope and pine, year after year, Which all one moulting-time appear, And this bright plumage, dull and rusty, Will seem neglected shrunk and dusty, And scarce a feather’s rugged stump Be left to grace thy fretted rump. Mewed in a corner of thy home, Having but little heart to roam, Thou’lt wink and peer–a wayward elf, And croon and clutter to thyself, Screaming at visitors with spite, And opening wide thy beak to bite. Yet in old age still wilt thou find Some constant friend thy wants to mind, Whose voice thou’lt know, whose hand thou’lt seek, Turning to it thy feathered cheek; Grateful to her though cross and froward To all beside, and it will go hard But she will love thee, even when life’s last goal Thou’st reached, and call thee still her Pretty Poll. Now from these lines, young friends, I know A lesson might be drawn to shew How, like our bird, on life’s vain stage, Pass human childhood, prime and age: But conned comparisons, I doubt, Might put your patience to the rout, And all my pains small thanks receive, So this to wiser folks leave.