The Head-Ach or An Ode to Health

07-10 Cave
Jane Cave
Welsh
1754 – 1812

 

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.

The Power of Prayer

In honor of Shavout, we present this work by a poet with a unique Jewish perspective.

Dannie Abse
Welsh
1923 – 2014

 

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

Ann Griffiths
Welsh
1776 – 1805

 

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.

The Winter

Dafydd ap Gwilym
Welsh
c. 1315 – c. 1370

 

Across North Wales
The snowflakes wander,
A swarm of white bees.
Over the woods
A cold veil lies.
A load of chalk
Bows down the trees.

No undergrowth
Without its wool,
No field unsheeted;
No path is left
Through any field;
On every stump
White flour is milled.

Will someone tell me
What angels lift
Planks in the flour-loft
Floor of heaven
Shaking down dust?
An angel’s cloak
Is cold quicksilver.

And here below
The big drifts blow,
Blow and billow
Across the heather
Like swollen bellies.
The frozen foam
Falls in fleeces.

Out of my house
I will not stir
For any girl
To have my coat
Look like a miller’s
Or stuck with feathers
Of eider down.

What a great fall
Lies on my country!
A wide wall, stretching
One sea to the other,
Greater and graver
Than the sea’s graveyard.
When will rain come?

The Pig

Roald Dahl
Welsh
1916 – 1990

 

In England once there lived a big
And wonderfully clever pig.
To everybody it was plain
That Piggy had a massive brain.
He worked out sums inside his head,
There was no book he hadn’t read,
He knew what made an airplane fly,
He knew how engines worked and why.
He knew all this, but in the end
One question drove him round the bend:
He simply couldn’t puzzle out
What LIFE was really all about.
What was the reason for his birth?
Why was he placed upon this earth?
His giant brain went round and round.
Alas, no answer could be found,
Till suddenly one wondrous night,
All in a flash, he saw the light.
He jumped up like a ballet dancer
And yelled, “By gum, I’ve got the answer!”
“They want my bacon slice by slice
“To sell at a tremendous price!
“They want my tender juicy chops
“To put in all the butchers’ shops!
“They want my pork to make a roast
“And that’s the part’ll cost the most!
“They want my sausages in strings!
“They even want my chitterlings!
“The butcher’s shop! The carving knife!
“That is the reason for my life!”
Such thoughts as these are not designed
To give a pig great peace of mind.
Next morning, in comes Farmer Bland,
A pail of pigswill in his hand,
And Piggy with a mighty roar,
Bashes the farmer to the floor . . .
Now comes the rather grizzly bit
So let’s not make too much of it,
Except that you must understand
That Piggy did eat Farmer Bland,
He ate him up from head to toe,
Chewing the pieces nice and slow.
It took an hour to reach the feet,
Because there was so much to eat,
And when he’d finished, Pig, of course,
Felt absolutely no remorse.
Slowly he scratched his brainy head
And with a little smile, he said,
“I had a fairly powerful hunch
“That he might have me for his lunch.
“And so, because I feared the worst,
“I thought I’d better eat him first.”

 

Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night

In honor of St. David’s Day, we present this work by the greatest poet in Welsh history.

Dylan Thomas
Welsh
1914 – 1953

 

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.