Category Archives: Poems, prose & song

“I have a dream …” — Martin Luther King, Jr.

“I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation. Continue reading

“New Year’s Eve” by Thomas Hardy

Thomas Hardy in 1906, by Jacques-Émile Blanche / Wikimedia Commons

New Year’s Eve

“I have finished another year,” said God,
“In grey, green, white, and brown;
I have strewn the leaf upon the sod,
Sealed up the worm within the clod,
And let the last sun down.”

“And what’s the good of it?” I said.
“What reasons made you call
From formless void this earth we tread,
When nine-and-ninety can be read
Why nought should be at all?

“Yea, Sire; why shaped you us, ‘who in
This tabernacle groan’—
If ever a joy be found herein,
Such joy no man had wished to win
If he had never known!”

Then he: “My labours—logicless—
You may explain; not I:
Sense-sealed I have wrought, without a guess
That I evolved a Consciousness
To ask for reasons why.

“Strange that ephemeral creatures who
By my own ordering are,
Should see the shortness of my view,
Use ethic tests I never knew,
Or made provision for!”

He sank to raptness as of yore,
And opening New Year’s Day
Wove it by rote as theretofore,
And went on working evermore
In his unweeting way.

— Thomas Hardy, 1906

The Oxen – by Thomas Hardy

Durham Ox / Wikimedia Commons

The Oxen

Christmas Eve, and twelve of the clock.
‘Now they are all on their knees,’
An elder said as we sat in a flock
By the embers in hearthside ease.

We pictured the meek mild creatures where
They dwelt in their strawy pen,
Nor did it occur to one of us there
To doubt they were kneeling then.

So fair a fancy few would weave
In these years! Yet, I feel,
If someone said on Christmas Eve,
‘Come; see the oxen kneel,

‘In the lonely barton by yonder coomb
Our childhood used to know,’
I should go with him in the gloom,
Hoping it might be so.

— by Thomas Hardy

A Spellbound Palace

J. M. W. Turner: View of Hampton Court, Herefordshire, from the Northwest / Wikimedia Commons

A Spellbound Palace

On this kindly yellow day of mild low-travelling winter sun

The stirless depths of the yews

Are vague with misty blues:

Across the spacious pathways stretching spires of shadow run,

And the wind-gnawed walls of ancient brick are fired vermilion.

Two or three early sanguine finches tune

Some tentative strains, to be enlarged by May or June:

From a thrush or blackbird

Comes now and then a word,

While an enfeebled fountain somewhere within is heard.

Our footsteps wait awhile,

Then draw beneath the pile,

When an inner court outspreads

As ’twere History’s own asile,

Where the now-visioned fountain its attenuate crystal sheds

In passive lapse that seems to ignore the yon world’s clamorous clutch,

And lays an insistent numbness on the place, like a cold hand’s touch.

And there swaggers the Shade of a straddling King, plumed, sworded, with sensual face,

And lo, too, that of his Minister, at a bold self-centred pace:

Sheer in the sun they pass; and thereupon all is still,

Save the mindless fountain tinkling on with thin enfeebled will.

— by Thomas Hardy (Hampton Court)

Thanksgiving, by Ella Wheeler Wilcox

Friends by Louise Catherine Breslau / Wikimedia Commons

Thanksgiving

We walk on starry fields of white
And do not see the daisies;
For blessings common in our sight
We rarely offer praises.
We sigh for some supreme delight
To crown our lives with splendor,
And quite ignore our daily store
Of pleasures sweet and tender. Continue reading

Novemberish

November in New York

Novemberish: adj. “Belonging to or characteristic of November; dismal, gloomy.” Earliest use found in Robert Burns (1759–1796), poet. (OED)

“Round, and round, and round they go — Mundell’s ox that drives his cotton-mill is their exact prototype — without an idea or wish beyond their circle; fat, sleek, stupid, patient, quiet, and contented; while here I sit, altogether Novemberish, a d-mnd melange of fretfulness and melancholy; not enough of the one to rise me to passion, nor of the other to repose me in torpor; my soul flouncing and fluttering round her tenement, like a wild finch, caught amid the horrors of winterand newly thrust into a cage.”

– – From a letter written by Robert Burns to Mrs Riddell, Woodley Park, November 1793

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