We present this work in honor of the poet’s 390th birthday.
I struck the board, and cry’d, No more, I will abroad. What? Shall I ever sigh and pine? My lines and life are free; free as the rode, Loose as the winde, as large as store. Shall I be still in fruit? Have I no harvest but a thorn To let me bloud, and not restore What I have lost with cordiall fruit? Sure there was wine Before my sighs did drie it: there was corn Before my tears did drown it. Is the yeare onely lost to me? Have I no bayes to crown it? No flowers, no garlands gay? All blasted? All wasted? Not so, my heart: but there is fruit, And thou hast hands. Recover all thy sigh-blown age On double pleasures: leave thy cold dispute Of what is fit, and not forsake thy cage, Thy rope of sands, Which pettie thoughts have made, and made to thee Good cable, to enforce and draw, And by thy law, While thou didst wink and wouldst not see. Away; take heed: I will abroad. Call in thy deaths head there: tie up thy fears. He that forbears To suit and serve his need, Deserves his load. But as I rav’d and grevv more fierce and wilde At every word, Me thoughts I heard one calling, Childe: And I reply’d , My Lord.
Sweet, sacred hill! on whose fair brow My Saviour sate, shall I allow Language to love, And idolize some shade, or grove, Neglecting thee? such ill-plac’d wit, Conceit, or call it what you please, Is the brain’s fit, And mere disease.
Cotswold and Cooper’s both have met With learnèd swains, and echo yet Their pipes and wit; But thou sleep’st in a deep neglect, Untouch’d by any; and what need The sheep bleat thee a silly lay, That heard’st both reed And sheepward play?
Yet if poets mind thee well, They shall find thou art their hill, And fountain too. Their Lord with thee had most to do; He wept once, walk’d whole nights on thee: And from thence—His suff’rings ended— Unto glory Was attended.
Being there, this spacious ball Is but His narrow footstool all; And what we think Unsearchable, now with one wink He doth comprise; but in this air When He did stay to bear our ill And sin, this hill Was then His Chair.
When Thames, in plaintive murmurs, lav’d the grott Where once his darling Pope each care forgot; Where, with the Muse, he pass’d the smiling day, Whose strains celestial crown’d the moral lay; Each drooping Swan with sorrow view’d the shore, And mourn’d, in melting dirge, their Bard no more: Ah! flown, O Thames! thy fairest Swan (they sung) Whose warbling lyre immortal Genius strung, Truth, Nature, Virtue, touch’d the trembling chord, While mute Attention caught the Poet’s word. And must thy beauteous stream incessant mourn? Is Genius banish’d, never to return? No—thy sweet banks, immortal Thames! shall prove His fond affection, and the Muses’ love; Succeeding years will sure a Walpole give, In whose progressive mind shall genius live: His wish to crown—each Muse—each Grace shall meet, And fix on Strawberry Hill their lov’d retreat.
My hands are none too white, Nor lovely nor tender either, They’re rough and ugly to your sight, Because of the constant labour, But my hands are not complaining, There’s no whinging in my breast, When I recall my tidy house, containing, My happy little family, like a Nest.
The kids would go early to bed, And I’d set to doing the wash, The little snow white clothes all aired, I’d get them up so nice and posh, I’d sew a button on David’s shirt, And put a nail in Sam’s shoe, And I’d mend Enid’s red skirt- Those chores that all mothers do.
And Oh! They were all around me, Like glad little chicks in a throng, And my single purpose was to see, My children happy, fit and strong, To keep an eye on their progress, To care for them all day long, To keep their language spotless: I was happy, all smiles and song.
But, alas, they’ve all grown up, And all have left the nest, They’ll no more come home to sup, And their old toys are all at rest! The workbox for mending their things, And for putting a nail in Sam’s shoe, Is now quite useless- a bird without wings; A mam’s initiative unwanted, no more for her to do!
We present this work in honor of the poet’s 105th birthday.
The crocodile, with cunning smile, sat in the dentist’s chair. He said, “Right here and everywhere my teeth require repair.” The dentist’s face was turning white. He quivered, quaked and shook. He muttered, “I suppose I’m going to have to take a look.” “I want you”, Crocodile declared, “to do the back ones first. The molars at the very back are easily the worst.” He opened wide his massive jaws. It was a fearsome sight— At least three hundred pointed teeth, all sharp and shining white. The dentist kept himself well clear. He stood two yards away. He chose the longest probe he had to search out the decay. “I said to do the back ones first!” the Crocodile called out. “You’re much too far away, dear sir, to see what you’re about. To do the back ones properly you’ve got to put your head Deep down inside my great big mouth,” the grinning Crocky said. The poor old dentist wrung his hands and, weeping in despair, He cried, “No no! I see them all extremely well from here!” Just then, in burst a lady, in her hands a golden chain. She cried, “Oh Croc, you naughty boy, you’re playing tricks again!” “Watch out!” the dentist shrieked and started climbing up the wall. “He’s after me! He’s after you! He’s going to eat us all!” “Don’t be a twit,” the lady said, and flashed a gorgeous smile. “He’s harmless. He’s my little pet, my lovely crocodile.”
O Health! thou dear invaluable guest! Thy rosy subjects, how supremely blest! Hear the blith milk-maid and the plough-boy sing, Nor envy they the station of a king; While Kings thy sweets to gain would gladly bow, Resign their crowns and guide the rustic’s plough: Thou pearl surpassing riches, power or birth! Of blessings thou the greatest known on earth! Thy value’s found like that of bards of yore, We know to prize thee when thou art no more! Ah! Why from me; art thou for ever flown? Why deaf to ev’ry agonizing groan? Not one short month for ten revolving years, But pain within my frame its sceptre rears! In each successive month full twelve long days And tedious nights my sun withdraws his rays! Leaves me in silent anguish on my bed, Afflicting all the members in the head; Through ev’ry particle the torture flies, But centers in the temples, brain and eyes; The efforts of the hands and feet are vain, While bows the head with agonizing pain; While heaves the breast th’ unutterable sigh, And the big tear drops from the languid eye. For ah! my children want a mother’s care, A husband too, should due assistance share; Myself for action form’d would fain thro’ life Be found th’ assiduous–valuable wife; But now, behold, I live unfit for aught; Inactive half my days except in thought, And this so vague while torture clogs my hours, I sigh, Oh, ‘twill derange my mental powers! Or by its dire excess dissolve my sight, And thus entomb me in perptual night! Ye sage Physicians, where’s your wonted skill? In vain the blisters, bolusses and pill; Great Neptune’s swelling waves in vain I try’d, My malady its utmost power defy’d; In vain the British and Cephalic Snuff, All Patent Medicines are empty stuff; The launcet, leech, and cupping swell the train Of useless efforts, which but gave me pain; Each art and application rain has prov’d, For ah! my sad complaint is not remo’v’d. Live’s one on earth possess’d of sympathy, Who knows what is presum’d a remedy? O send it hither! I again would try, Tho’ in the attempt of conqu’ring I die. For thus to languish on is worse than death, And I have hope if Heav’n recall my breath.
In honor of Shavout, we present this work by a poet with a unique Jewish perspective.
A kind of tune, heart in pilgrimage, yes, But reversed thunder as Herbert said? Herbert was right or we were April fools Last night when we beheld a sign. Behold! our Indian neighbor surely praying since every house across the road was dark except his own—his bedroom lit by volts, no doubt, of the thunderstruck eternal. Why else would those high surprising windows be raging steadily with sheet lightning?
Herbert, such prayer-power! You’d not credit these other, raving, more ancient gods summoned here by fervent invitation. How they swarmed in rudely, none so rampant as Agni—tawny hair, all gold teeth, long golden beard—whooping it up crazy in that attic crackling room, his crimson snorting horses and his dwarf golden car. These wild, drunken fire deities! Neighbour, we thought, oh cease praying do, for God’s sake.
And just in case called the bell-mad earthly fire brigade whose hoses curved and hushed so that the gods quit, disguised cleverly, of course, as tiny butterflies of fire or billowing out in cloaks of smoke and sacred steam. Now no more thunderstorms, only black debris of last night’s party. And so we godless ones give thanks to God For godless neighbors this April morning and for ladders more than rainbows, Herbert.
Since I am corruptly fallen,
Straying from you constantly,
To ascend your sacred mountain
Is the right of rights for me.
There on high your veils are riven,
Every cover nullified,
There above all worldly nothings
Is your glory magnified.
Oh to drink on high forever
Where redemption’s waters flow,
Drink until I thirst no longer
For the fading world below,
Live in wait for my Lord’s coming,
Wakeful for the coming night
When I swiftly open to him
In his image, in his sight.