pallas_athena: (tarot)
Through gilded trellises
Edith Sitwell, Façade

Through gilded trellises
Of the heat, Dolores,
Inez, Manuccia,
Isabel, Lucia,
Mock Time that flies.
"Lovely bird, will you stay and sing,
Flirting your sheened wing,-
Peck with your beak, and cling
To our balconies?"
They flirt their fans, flaunting
"O silence enchanting
As music!" Then slanting
Their eyes,
Like gilded or emerald grapes,
They make mantillas, capes,
Hiding their simian shapes.
Each lady, "Our spadille
Is done."..."Dance the quadrille
from Hell's towers to Seville;
Their siesta," Dolores
Said. Through gilded trellises
Of the heat, spangles
Pelt down through the tangles
Of bell flowers; each dangles
Her castanets, shutters
Fall while the heat mutters,
With sounds like a mandoline
Or tinkled tambourine...
Time dies!
pallas_athena: (Default)
Every fool's an April fool
For foolery's in flower.
There's sugar in the salt shaker
And corn oil in the shower.

That heavy breathing call was me
Made to your office phone;
I cling-wrap-trapped the toilet bowl
For you and you alone.

The whoopee cushion sighs my love
Wherever you are seated;
And when you come to share my bed
You'll find yourself shortsheeted.

Oh every fool's an April fool
So take my hand and sing:
For you may hope to spring the trap,
But never trap the Spring.
pallas_athena: (Default)
"Over the hills and far away" has been one of my favourite songs since long before Sharpe. The 1706 version from George Farquhar's The Recruiting Officer and the 1738 version from John Gay's The Beggar's Opera are both easily findable online. This version, in Volume V of the 1719 edition of Pills to Purge Melancholy, is harder to find. Basically, it takes Farquhar and runs with it for about a trillion stanzas. The words may be by Thomas D'Urfey, or Farquhar, or someone unrelated.

The Recruiting Officer: Or, the Merry Volunteers: Being an Excellent New Copy of Verses upon raising Recruits.

Hark! now the Drums beat up again,
For all true Soldiers Gentlemen,
Then let us list, and march I say,
Over the Hills and far away;

Over the Hills and o'er the Main,
To Flanders, Portugal and Spain,
Queen Ann commands, and we'll obey,
Over the Hills and far away.

All Gentlemen that have a Mind,
To serve the Queen that's good and kind;
Come list and enter into Pay,
Then o'er the Hills and far away;
Over the Hills, &c.

Here's Forty Shillings on the Drum,
For those that Volunteers do come,
With Shirts, and Cloaths, and present Pay,
Then o'er the Hills and far away;
Over the Hills, &c.

Hear that brave Boys, and let us go,
Or else we shall be prest you know;
Then list and enter into Pay,
And o'er the Hills and far away;
Over the Hills, &c.

The Constables they search about,
To find such brisk young Fellows out;
Then let's be Volunteers I say,
Over the Hills and far away;
Over the Hills, &c.

Since now the French so low are brought,
And Wealth and Honour's to be got,
Who then behind wou'd sneaking stay?
When o'er the Hills and far away;
Over the Hills, &c.

No more from sound of Drum retreat,
While Marlborough, and Gallaway beat,
The French and Spaniards every Day,
When o'er the Hills and far away;
Over the Hills, &c.

He that is forc'd to go and fight,
Will never get true Honour by't,
While Volunteers shall win the Day,
When o'er the Hills and far away;
Over the Hills, &c.

What tho' our Friends our Absense mourn,
We all with Honour shall return,
And then we'll sing both Night and Day,
Over the Hills and far away;
Over the Hills, &c.

The Prentice Tom he may refuse,
To wipe his angry Master's Shoes;
For then he's free to sing and play,
Over the Hills and far away;
Over the Hills, &c.

Over Rivers, Bogs, and Springs,
We all shall live as great as Kings,
And Plunder get both Night and Day,
When o'er the Hills and far away;
Over the Hills, &c.

We then shall lead more happy Lives,
By getting rid of Brats and Wives,
That Scold and bawl both Night and Day,
When o'er the Hills and far away;
Over the Hills, &c.

Come on then Boys and you shall see,
We every one shall Captains be,
To Whore and rant as well as they,
When o'er the Hills and far away;
Over the Hills, &c.

For if we go 'tis one to Ten,
But we return all Gentlemen,
All Gentlemen as well as they,
Over the Hills and far away;
Over the Hills, &c.
pallas_athena: (Default)
I Am No Good At Love
by Noel Coward

I am no good at love
My heart should be wise and free
I kill the unfortunate golden goose
Whoever it may be
With over-articulate tenderness
And too much intensity.

I am no good at love
I batter it out of shape
Suspicion tears at my sleepless mind
And gibbering like an ape,
I lie alone in the endless dark
Knowing there's no escape.

I am no good at love
When my easy heart I yield
Wild words come tumbling from my mouth
Which should have stayed concealed;
And my jealousy turns a bed of bliss
Into a battlefield.

I am no good at love
I betray it with little sins
For I feel the misery of the end
In the moment that it begins
And the bitterness of the last good-bye
Is the bitterness that wins.
pallas_athena: (Default)
Since the incredible situation in Egypt began to unfold, I've been diving into a book of ancient Egyptian literature. Among other wonderful things, it contains some excellent love poems from the Ramesside period (13th-12th centuries BCE.) Here is one of them, in a translation by Vincent A. Tobin:

Poems of Great Delight, Stanza IV

My heart swiftly betakes itself to flight
Since I have remembered my love for you.

It does not permit me to walk like an ordinary person,
But leaps from its proper place.
It does not permit me to put on a dress,
Nor can I don my mantle.

I put no makeup on my eyes
Nor anoint myself in any way.
"Do not delay! Go straight to his house!"
So it says to me each time I think of him.

Do not create folly for me, my heart.
Why do you act like a fool?
Sit quietly, and your lover will come to you,
And many others as well.

Do not let people say about me,
"She is a woman distraught by love."
Be strong each time you remember him,
O my heart, do not take flight!
pallas_athena: (Default)
The BBC site is claiming that the first known valentine in English has been found among the Paston letters. Sent by 17-year-old Margery Brews to her future husband John Paston, it's been dated to 1477. Text here; John evidently sent an answer, getting a further reply from Margery.

From the BBC site:
It is a letter, written from a young woman to her love, and is the first mention of the word Valentine in the English language. [...]

"It might not necessarily be that nobody had used Valentine in any context before, but this is probably one of the first times it was written down," says British Library curator Julian Harrison.

That last is, of course, WRONG. Come on, guys, I'm only a lousy BA in English and even I know that Chaucer's Parlement of Foules, in which a number of talking birds hold a huge celebration of St Valentine's Day, predates this letter by almost a century. (Current best guess: about 1382-ish.) There are fifteen manuscript sources for the poem.

Chaucer's poem, admittedly, does not use the word "valentine" as a noun denoting either a letter or a person (or bird), but it invokes the saint, and the day as a festival of love, several times. Here's the final song, as all the birds leave with their newfound mates:

Qui bien aime a tard oublie.

Now welcom somer, with thy sonne softe,
That hast this wintres weders over-shake,
And driven away the longe nightes blake!

Saynt Valentyn, that art ful hy on-lofte; --
Thus singen smale foules for thy sake --
Now welcom somer, with thy sonne softe,
That hast this wintres weders over-shake.

Wel han they cause for to gladen ofte,
Sith ech of hem recovered hath his make;
Ful blisful may they singen whan they wake:
Now welcom somer, with thy sonne softe,
That hast this wintres weders over-shake,
And driven away the longe nightes blake.
pallas_athena: (Default)
Vitaï Lampada
by Henry Newbolt

There's a breathless hush in the Close to-night--
Ten to make and the match to win--
A bumping pitch and a blinding light,
An hour to play, and the last man in.
And it's not for the sake of a ribboned coat,
Or the selfish hope of a season's fame,
But his Captain's hand on his shoulder smote--
"Play up! Play up! And play the game!"

The sand of the desert is sodden red--
Red with the wreck of a square that broke;
The Gatling's jammed and the Colonel dead,
And the regiment blind with dust and smoke.
The river of death has brimmed his banks,
And England's far, and Honour a name,
But the voice of a schoolboy rallies the ranks--
"Play up! Play up! And play the game!"

This is the word that year by year,
While in her place the School is set,
Every one of her sons must hear,
And none that hears it dare forget.
This they all with a joyful mind
Bear through life like a torch in flame,
And falling fling to the host behind--
"Play up! Play up! And play the game!"
pallas_athena: (Default)
To find Mad Tom of Bedlam,
Ten thousand years I'll travel.
Mad Maudlin goes with dirty toes,
To save her shoes from gravel.

Yet will I sing, Bonny Boys, bonny Mad Boys,
Bedlam Boys are Bonny.
They still go bare and live by the air
And want no Drink, nor Money.

I now repent that ever
Poor Tom was so disdainèd.
My wits are lost since him I crost,
Which makes me go thus chainèd.

My staff hath murder'd giants,
My bag a long knife carries,
To cut mince pyes from children's thighs,
With which I feast the Faries.

My horn is made of thunder,
I stole it out of Heaven.
The Rainbow there is this I wear,
For which I thence was driven.

I went to Pluto's kitchin,
To beg some food one morning.
And there I got souls piping hot,
With which the spits were turning.

Then took I up a Cauldron,
Where boyl'd ten thousand Harlots.
'Twas full of flame, yet I drank the same
To the health of all such Varlets.

A Spirit hot as lightning
Did in that journey guide me,
The Sun did shake, and the Moon pale quake,
As soon as e'er they spied me.

No gipsy, slut or doxy
Shall wind my Mad Tom from me,
We'll sleep all night, and with Stars fight:
The fray will well become me.

And when that I have beaten
The Man i'th' Moon to powder,
His dog I'll take, and him I'll make
As could no dæmon louder.

A Health to Tom of Bedlam!
Go fill the seas in barrels.
I'll drink it all, well brew'd with gall,
and Maudlin-drunk, I'll quarrel.

Yet will I sing, Bonny Boys, bonny Mad Boys,
Bedlam Boys are Bonny.
They still go bare and live by the air
And want no Drink, nor Money.
pallas_athena: (Default)
Guinevere at Her Fireside
by Dorothy Parker

A nobler king had never breath -
I say it now, and said it then.
Who weds with such is wed till death
And wedded stays in Heaven. Amen.

(And oh, the shirts of linen-lawn,
And all the armor, tagged and tied,
And church on Sundays, dusk and dawn,
And bed a thing to kneel beside!)

The bravest one stood tall above
The rest, and watched me as a light.
I heard and heard them talk of love;
I'd naught to do but think, at night.

The bravest man has littlest brains;
That chalky fool from Astolat
With all her dying and her pains! -
Thank God, I helped him over that.

I found him not unfair to see -
I like a man with peppered hair!
And thus it came about. Ah me,
Tristram was busied otherwhere....

A nobler king had never breath -
I say it now, and said it then.
Who weds with such is wed till death
And wedded stays in Heaven. Amen.
pallas_athena: (Default)
It was all the quidnunc kid's fault.

It was he who, in this MetaFilter thread, proposed a bet on the England/USA World Cup game: loser to write a sonnet in praise of the winner's nation.

Personally, I think he must have been inspired by Insomnia, Muse Of Amazing Ideas That Come To You At Around 4 In The Morning When All You Want To Do Is Sleeeeeep. That's the level of genius we're talking here. This scheme makes football interesting to poets. It also meant the Universe got to behold the beautiful spectacle of Quid grinding out a fourteen-line encomium to the nation that beat his birthplace 4-0.

For the full sonnet duel, including two by me, I refer you to the MetaFilter thread. In the meantime, I'll shamelessly steal Quid's idea and run with it. Who'll bet? Name your match, name the winner, and you're on. Fixtures here.

(Even if you don't usually write poetry, feel free to join in... nobody said it had to be a good sonnet, right?)
pallas_athena: (Default)
It's certain that fine women eat
A crazy salad with their meat...

W B Yeats, A Prayer for my Daughter

Last night, I made my favourite summer salad. Seriously, this is summer in a bowl. It sounds incongruous but tastes divine:

-Cubes of watermelon
-Pieces of fresh tomatoes
-Leaves of basil
-Crumbs or cubes of feta cheese
-balsamic vinegar (The secret ingredient that ties all the flavours together)
-a splash of olive oil
-black pepper

And as a bonus, a piece of silliness I randomly posted to MetaFilter a year-and-a-bit ago:
Your own personal cheeses )
pallas_athena: (Default)
from A Shropshire Lad
A. E. Housman

Loveliest of trees, the cherry now
Is hung with bloom along the bough,
And stands about the woodland ride
Wearing white for Eastertide.

Now, of my threescore years and ten,
Twenty will not come again,
And take from seventy springs a score,
It only leaves me fifty more.

And since to look at things in bloom
Fifty springs are little room,
About the woodlands I will go
To see the cherry hung with snow.
pallas_athena: (Default)
I recently had the pleasure of seeing Philip Glass's Satyagraha at ENO with a friend. It was an amazing production, and we enjoyed it very much. Glass gives each of the three acts the name of a person relevant to Gandhi's life; the second act is named for the Mahatma's contemporary, Rabindranath Tagore.

Tagore wrote in Bengali, but he was also fluent in English. These translations are mostly his own. His fans included W B Yeats (who wrote an introduction to Tagore's collection Gitanjali, as well as lending a hand with some of the translations) and Anna Akhmatova (who translated much of Tagore's work into Russian).

If you know a Tagore poem, chances are it's this one. (It was later set to music by Richard Hageman; here is Kiri te Kanawa singing it.)
Do not go, my love, without asking my leave.
I have watched all night, and now my eyes are heavy with sleep.
I fear lest I lose you when I am sleeping.
Do not go, my love, without asking my leave.

I start up and stretch my hands to touch you.
I ask myself, "Is it a dream?"
Could I but entangle your feet with my heart and hold them fast to my breast!
Do not go, my love, without asking my leave.

More below )
pallas_athena: (Default)

My land is bare of chattering folk;
The clouds are low along the ridges,
And sweet's the air with curly smoke
From all my burning bridges.
pallas_athena: (Default)
Ballade At Thirty-Five

This, no song of an ingenue,
This, no ballad of innocence;
This, the rhyme of a lady who
Followed ever her natural bents.
This, a solo of sapience,
This, a chantey of sophistry,
This, the sum of experiments:
I loved them until they loved me.

Decked in garments of sable hue,
Daubed with ashes of myriad Lents,
Wearing shower bouquets of rue,
Walk I ever in penitence.
Oft I roam, as my heart repents,
Through God's acre of memory,
Marking stones, in my reverence,
"I loved them until they loved me."

Pictures pass me in long review
Marching columns of dead events.
I was tender and, often, true;
Ever a prey to coincidence.
Always knew I the consequence;
Always saw what the end would be.
We're as Nature has made us - hence
I loved them until they loved me.

Princes, never I'd give offence;
Won't you think of me tenderly?
Here's my strength and my weakness, gents:
I loved them until they loved me.
pallas_athena: (Default)
Rainy Night

Ghosts of all my lovely sins,
Who attend too well my pillow,
Gay the wanton rain begins;
Hide the limp and tearful willow.

Turn aside your eyes and ears,
Trail away your robes of sorrow,
You shall have my further years-
You shall walk with me tomorrow.

I am sister to the rain;
Fey and sudden and unholy,
Petulant at windowpane,
Quickly lost, remembered slowly.

I have lived with shades, a shade;
I am hung with graveyard flowers.
Let me be tonight arrayed
In the silver of the showers.

Every fragile thing shall rust;
When another April passes
I may be a furry dust,
Sifting through the brittle grasses.

All sweet sins shall be forgot;
Who will live to tell their siring?
Hear me now, nor let me rot
Wistful still, and still aspiring.

Ghosts of dear temptations, heed;
I am frail, be you forgiving.
See you not that I have need
To be living with the living?

Sail, tonight, the Styx's breast;
Glide among the dim processions
Of the exquisite unblest,
Spirits of my shared transgressions,

Roam with young Persephone,
Plucking poppies for your slumber . . .
With the morrow, there shall be
One more wraith among your number.
pallas_athena: (Default)
Today's APOD appears to be the shores of Selidor and the Mountains of Pain. Don't ask me how NASA got there.

The limerick duel in the comments of this post continues to amuse me.

Disgusting Flu still lingers, meaning I can't see friends tonight as I'd planned. A shame. Dorothy Parker will have to attend the party instead:
The Flaw In Paganism

Drink and dance and laugh and lie,
Love, the reeling midnight through,
For tomorrow we shall die!
(But, alas, we never do.)
pallas_athena: (Default)
Portrait of the Artist

Oh, lead me to a quiet cell
Where never footfall rankles,
And bar the window passing well,
And gyve my wrists and ankles.

Oh, wrap my eyes with linen fair,
With hempen cord go bind me,
And, of your mercy, leave me there,
Nor tell them where to find me.

Oh, lock the portal as you go,
And see its bolts be double....
Come back in half an hour or so,
And I will be in trouble.
pallas_athena: (Default)
I'm stuck at home with Disgusting Flu, so to pass the time, I declare this DOROTHY PARKER WEEK.

This is something I've been wanting to do for some time. Parker is not only a fine wit but a fantastic poet, and her work deserves to be better known-- especially the stuff that doesn't end with a punchline (though a Parker punchline still packs more punch than most.)

I've posted poems of hers here before:
Braggart, which is the most fuck-off-world poem I know; and
The Satin Dress, a fine poem about sewing.

But how would Parker introduce herself? Like this, I think:

Fighting Words

Say my love is easy had,
Say I'm bitten raw with pride,
Say I am too often sad--
Still behold me at your side.

Say I'm neither brave nor young,
Say I woo and coddle care,
Say the devil touched my tongue--
Still you have my heart to wear.

But say my verses do not scan,
And I get me another man!


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