Thursday, May 27, 2010

Beat! Beat! Drums!

By Walt Whitman


Beat! beat! drums!—Blow! bugles! blow!
Through the windows—through doors—burst like a force of ruthless men,
Into the solemn church, and scatter the congregation;
Into the school where the scholar is studying:
Leave not the bridegroom quiet—no happiness must he have now with his
Nor the peaceful farmer any peace, ploughing his field or gathering his
So fierce you whirr and pound, you drums—so shrill you bugles blow.


Beat! beat! drums!—Blow! bugles! blow!
Over the traffic of cities—over the rumble of wheels in the streets:
Are beds prepared, for sleepers at night in the houses? No sleepers must
sleep in those beds;
No bargainers' bargains by day—no brokers or speculators—Would they
Would the talkers be talking? would the singer attempt to sing?
Would the lawyer rise in the court to state his case before the judge?
Then rattle quicker, heavier, drums—you bugles wilder blow.


Beat! beat! drums!—Blow! bugles! blow!
Make no parley—stop for no expostulation;
Mind not the timid—mind not the weeper or prayer;
Mind not the old man beseeching the young man;
Let not the child's voice be heard, nor the mother's entreaties;
Make even the trestles to shake the dead, where they lie awaiting the
So strong you thump, O terrible drums—so loud you bugles blow.

Monday, May 24, 2010

A Remedy For Love

By Sir Philip Sidney

Philoclea and Pamela sweet,
By chance, in one great house did meet;
And meeting, did so join in heart,
That th' one from th' other could not part:
And who indeed (not made of stones)
Would separate such lovely ones?
The one is beautiful, and fair
As orient pearls and rubies are;
And sweet as, after gentle showers,
The breath is of some thousand flowers:
For due proportion, such an air
Circles the other, and so fair,
That it her brownness beautifies,
And doth enchant the wisest eyes.

Have you not seen, on some great day,
Two goodly horses, white and bay,
Which were so beauteous in their pride,
You knew not which to choose or ride?
Such are these two; you scarce can tell,
Which is the daintier bonny belle;
And they are such, as, by my troth,
I had been sick with love of both,
And might have sadly said, 'Good-night
Discretion and good fortune quite;'
But that young Cupid, my old master,
Presented me a sovereign plaster:
Mopsa! ev'n Mopsa! (precious pet)
Whose lips of marble, teeth of jet,
Are spells and charms of strong defence,
To conjure down concupiscence.

How oft have I been reft of sense,
By gazing on their excellence,
But meeting Mopsa in my way,
And looking on her face of clay,
Been healed, and cured, and made as sound,
As though I ne'er had had a wound?
And when in tables of my heart,
Love wrought such things as bred my smart,
Mopsa would come, with face of clout,
And in an instant wipe them out.
And when their faces made me sick,
Mopsa would come, with face of brick,
A little heated in the fire,
And break the neck of my desire.
Now from their face I turn mine eyes,
But (cruel panthers!) they surprise
Me with their breath, that incense sweet,
Which only for the gods is meet,
And jointly from them doth respire,
Like both the Indies set on fire:

Which so o'ercomes man's ravished sense,
That souls, to follow it, fly hence.
No such-like smell you if you range
To th' Stocks, or Cornhill's square Exchange;
There stood I still as any stock,
Till Mopsa, with her puddle dock,
Her compound or electuary,
Made of old ling and young canary,
Bloat-herring, cheese, and voided physic,
Being somewhat troubled with a phthisic,
Did cough, and fetch a sigh so deep,
As did her very bottom sweep:
Whereby to all she did impart,
How love lay rankling at her heart:
Which, when I smelt, desire was slain,
And they breathed forth perfumes in vain.
Their angel voice surprised me now;
But Mopsa, her Too-whit, Too-whoo,
Descending through her oboe nose,
Did that distemper soon compose.

And, therefore, O thou precious owl,
The wise Minerva's only fowl;
What, at thy shrine, shall I devise
To offer up a sacrifice?
Hang AEsculapius, and Apollo,
And Ovid, with his precious shallow.
Mopsa is love's best medicine,
True water to a lover's wine.
Nay, she's the yellow antidote,
Both bred and born to cut Love's throat:
Be but my second, and stand by,
Mopsa, and I'll them both defy;
And all else of those gallant races,
Who wear infection in their faces;
For thy face (that Medusa's shield!)
Will bring me safe out of the field.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

To A Young Lady, On Her Birthday

By Samuel Johnson

This tributary verse receive, my fair,
Warm with an ardent lover's fondest prayer.
May this returning day for ever find
Thy form more lovely, more adorn'd thy mind;
All pains, all cares, may favouring Heaven remove,
All but the sweet solicitudes of love!
May powerful Nature join with grateful Art,
To point each glance, and force it to the heart!
Oh then, when conquer'd crowds confess thy sway,
When even proud Wealth and prouder Wit obey, 10
My fair, be mindful of the mighty trust,
Alas! 'tis hard for beauty to be just!
Those sovereign charms with strictest care employ;
Nor give the generous pain, the worthless joy:
With his own form acquaint the forward fool,
Shown in the faithful glass of Ridicule;
Teach mimic Censure her own faults to find,
No more let coquettes to themselves be blind,
So shall Belinda's charms improve mankind.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Laughing Song

By William Blake

When the green woods laugh with the voice of joy,
And the dimpling stream runs laughing by;
When the air does laugh with our merry wit,
And the green hill laughs with the noise of it;

when the meadows laugh with lively green,
And the grasshopper laughs in the merry scene,
When Mary and Susan and Emily
With their sweet round mouths sing "Ha, ha he!"

When the painted birds laugh in the shade,
Where our table with cherries and nuts is spread:
Come live, and be merry, and join with me,
To sing the sweet chorus of "Ha, ha, he!"

Laughing Song is from Songs of Innocence which was first printed in 1789.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

To The Evening Star

By Mark Akenside

1 To-night retired, the queen of heaven
With young Endymion stays:
And now to Hesper it is given
A while to rule the vacant sky,
Till she shall to her lamp supply
A stream of brighter rays.

2 O Hesper, while the starry throng
With awe thy path surrounds,
Oh, listen to my suppliant song,
If haply now the vocal sphere
Can suffer thy delighted ear
To stoop to mortal sounds.

3 So may the bridegroom's genial strain
Thee still invoke to shine:
So may the bride's unmarried train
To Hymen chant their flattering vow,
Still that his lucky torch may glow
With lustre pure as thine.

4 Far other vows must I prefer
To thy indulgent power.
Alas, but now I paid my tear
On fair Olympia's virgin tomb:
And lo, from thence, in quest I roam
Of Philomela's bower.

5 Propitious send thy golden ray,
Thou purest light above:
Let no false flame seduce to stray
Where gulf or steep lie hid for harm:
But lead where music's healing charm
May soothe afflicted love.

6 To them, by many a grateful song
In happier seasons vow'd,
These lawns, Olympia's haunt, belong:
Oft by yon silver stream we walk'd,
Or fix'd, while Philomela talk'd,
Beneath yon copses stood.

7 Nor seldom, where the beechen boughs
That roofless tower invade,
We came while her enchanting Muse
The radiant moon above us held:
Till by a clamorous owl compell'd
She fled the solemn shade.

8 But hark; I hear her liquid tone.
Now, Hesper, guide my feet
Down the red marl with moss o'ergrown,
Through yon wild thicket next the plain,
Whose hawthorns choke the winding lane,
Which leads to her retreat.

9 See the green space; on either hand
Enlarged it spreads around:
See, in the midst she takes her stand,
Where one old oak his awful shade
Extends o'er half the level mead
Enclosed in woods profound.

10 Hark, through many a melting note
She now prolongs her lays:
How sweetly down the void they float!
The breeze their magic path attends,
The stars shine out, the forest bends,
The wakeful heifers gaze.

11 Whoe'er thou art whom chance may bring
To this sequester'd spot,
If then the plaintive Syren sing,
Oh! softly tread beneath her bower,
And think of heaven's disposing power,
Of man's uncertain lot.

12 Oh! think, o'er all this mortal stage,
What mournful scenes arise:
What ruin waits on kingly rage,
How often virtue dwells with woe,
How many griefs from knowledge flow,
How swiftly pleasure flies.

13 O sacred bird, let me at eve,
Thus wandering all alone,
Thy tender counsel oft receive,
Bear witness to thy pensive airs,
And pity Nature's common cares,
Till I forget my own.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

William Blake

William Blake was an English poet, painter and engraver. He is recognized as one of the most original of the Romantic poets, although his work, was largely ignored during his own lifetime.

William BlakeBlake was born in 28 Broad Street, London, England on November 28, 1757, to a middle-class family. William did not attend school, and was educated at home by his mother Catherine Wright Armitage Blake.

On August 4, 1772, William became apprenticed to engraver James Basire of Great Queen Street, for the term of seven years.

On October 8, 1779, Blake became a student at the Royal Academy in Old Somerset House, near the Strand. While the terms of his study required no payment, he was expected to supply his own materials throughout the six-year period.

In June 1780, Blake was walking towards Basire's shop in Great Queen Street, when he was swept up by a rampaging mob that attacked Newgate Prison in London during the Gordon Riots of 1780. Although Alexander Gilchrist reported that Blake was forced to accompany the crowd, some biographers argued that he accompanied it impulsively, or supported it as a revolutionary act.

William Blake married Catherine Boucher on August 18, 1782 in St. Mary's Church, Battersea. Throughout his life she would prove an invaluable aid to him, helping to print his illuminated works and maintaining his spirits throughout numerous misfortunes.

Blake's first collection of poems, Poetical Sketches, was published circa 1783. After his father's death, William and his brother Robert opened a print shop in 1784, and began working with radical publisher Joseph Johnson. In 1784 Blake also composed his unfinished manuscript An Island in the Moon.

In 1793's Visions of the Daughters of Albion, Blake condemned the cruel absurdity of enforced chastity and marriage without love and defended the right of women to complete self-fulfillment.

In 1800, Blake moved to a cottage at Felpham in Sussex to take up a job illustrating the works of William Hayley, a minor poet. It was in this cottage that Blake began Milton: a Poem. Over time, Blake came to resent his new patron, coming to believe that Hayley was uninterested in true artistry.

Blake's trouble with authority came to a head in August 1803, when he was involved in a physical altercation with a soldier called John Schofield. Blake was charged not only with assault, but also with uttering seditious and treasonable expressions against the King. Schofield claimed that Blake had exclaimed, "Damn the king. The soldiers are all slaves." Blake would be cleared in the Chichester assizes of the charges.

Blake returned to London in 1804 and began to write and illustrate Jerusalem (1804–1820), his most ambitious work. He set up an independent exhibition in his brother's haberdashery shop at 27 Broad Street in the Soho district of London. The exhibition was designed to market his own version of the Canterbury illustration (titled The Canterbury Pilgrims), along with other works. As a result he wrote his Descriptive Catalogue (1809), which contains what Anthony Blunt has called a "brilliant analysis" of Chaucer. The exhibition itself, however, was very poorly attended, selling none of the temperas or watercolours.

At the age of 65 Blake began work on illustrations for the Book of Job. Later in his life Blake began to sell a great number of his works, particularly his Bible illustrations, to Thomas Butts, a patron who saw Blake more as a friend than a man whose work held artistic merit; this was typical of the opinions held of Blake throughout his life.

The commission for Dante's Divine Comedy came to Blake in 1826 through Linnell, with the ultimate aim of producing a series of engravings. Blake's death in 1827 would cut short the enterprise, and only a handful of the watercolours were completed, with only seven of the engravings arriving at proof form. Blake's illustrations of the poem are not merely accompanying works, but rather seem to critically revise, or furnish commentary on, certain spiritual or moral aspects of the text.

On the day of his death (August 12, 1827), Blake worked relentlessly on his Dante series. Eventually, he ceased working and turned to his wife, who was in tears by his bedside. Beholding her, Blake is said to have cried, "Stay Kate! Keep just as you are – I will draw your portrait – for you have ever been an angel to me." Having completed this portrait (now lost), Blake laid down his tools and began to sing hymns and verses. At six that evening, after promising his wife that he would be with her always, Blake died.

He was buried five days after his death – on the eve of his forty-fifth wedding anniversary – at the Dissenter's burial ground in Bunhill Fields, where his parents were also interred.

While Blake had a significant role to play in the art and poetry of figures such as Rossetti, it was during the Modernist period that this work began to influence a wider set of writers and artists. His poetry also came into use by a number of British classical composers such as Benjamin Britten and Ralph Vaughan Williams, who set his works.

Blake had an enormous influence on the beat poets of the 1950s and the counterculture of the 1960s, frequently being cited by such seminal figures as beat poet Allen Ginsberg and songwriters Bob Dylan, Jim Morrison, and Van Morrison.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

An Address To The Muses

By Joanna Baillie

Ye tuneful Sifters of the lyre,
Who dreams and fantasies inspire;
Who over poesy preside,
And on a lofty hill abide
Above the ken of mortal fight,
Fain would I sing of you, could I address ye right.

Thus known, your pow'r of old was sung,
And temples with your praises rung;
And when the song of battle rose,
Or kindling wine, or lovers' woes,
The poet's spirit inly burn'd,
And still to you his upcast eyes were turn'd.

The youth all wrapp'd in vision bright,
Beheld your robes of flowing white:
And knew your forms benignly grand,
An awful, but a lovely band;
And felt your inspiration strong,
And warmly pour'd his rapid lay along.

The aged bard all heav'n-ward glow'd,
And hail'd you daughters of a god:
Tho' to his dimmer eyes were seen
Nor graceful form, nor heav'nly mien,
Full well he felt that ye were near,
And heard you in the blast that shook his hoary hair.

Ye lighten'd up the valley's bloom,
And deeper spread the forest's gloom;
The lofty hill sublimer flood,
And grander rose the mighty flood;
For then Religion lent her aid,
And o'er the mind of man your sacred empire spread.

Tho' rolling ages now are past,
And altars low, and temples wade;
Tho' rites and oracles are o'er,
And gods and heros rule no more;
Your fading honours still remain,
And still your vot'ries call, a long and motley train.

They seek you not on hill and plain,
Nor court you in the sacred sane;
Nor meet you in the mid-day dream,
Upon the bank of hallowed stream;
Yet still for inspiration sue,
And still each lifts his fervent prayer to you.

He knows ye not in woodland gloom,
But wooes ye in the shelfed room;
And seeks you in the dusty nook,
And meets you in the letter'd book;
Full well he knows you by your names,
And still with poets faith your presence claims.

The youthful poet, pen in hand,
All by the side of blotted stand,
In rev'rie deep, which none may break,
Sits rubbing of his beardless cheek;
And well his inspiration knows,
E'en by the dewy drops that trickle o'er his nose.

The tuneful sage of riper fame,
Perceives you not in heated frame;
But at conclusion of his verse,
Which still his mutt'ring lips rehearse,
Oft' waves his hand in grateful pride,
And owns the heav'nly pow'r that did his fancy guide.

O lovely sisters! is it true,
That they are all inspir'd by you?
And while they write, with magic charm'd,
And high enthusiasm warm'd,
We may not question heav'nly lays,
For well I wot, they give you all the praise.

O lovely sisters! well it shews
How wide and far your bounty flows:
Then why from me withhold your beams?
Unvisited of heav'nly dreams,
Whene'er I aim at heights sublime,
Still downward am I call'd to seek some stubborn rhyme.

No hasty lightning breaks the gloom,
Nor flashing thoughts unsought for come,
Nor fancies wake in time of need;
I labour much with little speed;
And when my studied task is done,
Too well, alas! I mark it for my own.

Yet should you never smile on me,
And rugged still my verses be;
Unpleasing to the tuneful train,
Who only prize a slowing strain;
And still the learned scorn my lays,
I'll lift my heart to you, and sing your praise.

Your varied ministry to trace,
Your honour'd names, and godlike race;
And lofty bow'rs where fountains flow,
They'll better sing who better know;
I praise ye not with Grecian lyre,
Nor will I hail ye daughters of a heathen fire.

Ye are the spirits who preside
In earth, and air, and ocean wide;
In hissing flood, and crackling fire;
In horror dread, and tumult dire;
In stilly calm, and stormy wind,
And rule the answ'ring changes in the human mind.

High on the tempest-beaten hill,
Your misty shapes ye shift at will;
The wild fantastic clouds ye form;
Your voice is in the midnight storm;
Whilst in the dark and lonely hour,
Oft' starts the boldest heart, and owns your secret pow'r.

From you, when growling storms are past,
And light'ning ceases on the wade,
And when the scene of blood is o'er,
And groans of death are heard no more,
Still holds the mind each parted form,
Like after echoing of the o'erpassed storm.

When closing glooms o'erspread the day,
And what we love has pass'd away,
Ye kindly bid each pleasing scene
Within the bosom still remain,
Like moons who doth their watches run
With the reflected brightness of the parted sun.

The shining day, and nightly shade,
The cheerful plain and gloomy glade,
The homeward flocks, and shepherds play,
The busy hamlet's closing day,
Full many a breast with pleasures swell,
Who ne'er shall have the gift of words to tell,

Oft' when the moon looks from on high,
And black around the shadows lie;
And bright the sparkling waters gleam,
And rushes rustle by the stream,
Shrill sounds, and fairy forms are known
By simple 'nighted swains, who wander late alone.

Ye kindle up the inward glow,
Ye strengthen ev'ry outward show;
Ye overleap the strongest bar,
And join what Nature sunders far:
And visit oft' in fancies wild,
The bread of learned sage, and simple child.

From him who wears a monarch's crown,
To the unletter'd artless clown,
All in some strange and lonely hour
Have felt, unsought, your secret pow'r,
And lov'd your roving fancies well,
You add but to the bard the art to tell.

Ye mighty spirits of the song,
To whom the poets' pray'rs belong,
My lowly bosom to inspire,
And kindle with your sacred fire,
Your wild obscuring heights to brave,
Is boon, alas! too great for me to crave.

But O, such sense of matter bring!
As they who feel and never sing
Wear on their hearts, it will avail
With simple words to tell my tale;
And still contented will I be,
Tho' greater inspirations never fall to me.