pallas_athena: (tarot)
2013-09-01 11:18 am
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Poem of the day

Whispers of Immortality
TS Eliot, 1920

WEBSTER was much possessed by death
And saw the skull beneath the skin;
And breastless creatures under ground
Leaned backward with a lipless grin.

Daffodil bulbs instead of balls
Stared from the sockets of the eyes!
He knew that thought clings round dead limbs
Tightening its lusts and luxuries.

Donne, I suppose, was such another
Who found no substitute for sense;
To seize and clutch and penetrate,
Expert beyond experience,

He knew the anguish of the marrow
The ague of the skeleton;
No contact possible to flesh
Allayed the fever of the bone.
. . . . . . . .
Grishkin is nice: her Russian eye
Is underlined for emphasis;
Uncorseted, her friendly bust
Gives promise of pneumatic bliss.

The couched Brazilian jaguar
Compels the scampering marmoset
With subtle effluence of cat;
Grishkin has a maisonette;

The sleek Brazilian jaguar
Does not in its arboreal gloom
Distil so rank a feline smell
As Grishkin in a drawing-room.

And even the Abstract Entities
Circumambulate her charm;
But our lot crawls between dry ribs
To keep our metaphysics warm.
pallas_athena: (tarot)
2013-06-23 12:44 am
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(no subject)

For the huge full moon tonight, I thought I would collect all the moon-similes from the first bit of Oscar Wilde's Salomé.


Look at the moon. How strange the moon seems! She is like a woman rising from a tomb. She is like a dead woman. One might fancy she was looking for dead things.

She has a strange look. She is like a little princess who wears a yellow veil, and whose feet are of silver. She is like a princess who has little white doves for feet. One might fancy she was dancing.


How good to see the moon! She is like a little piece of money, a little silver flower. She is cold and chaste. I am sure she is a virgin. She has the beauty of a virgin. Yes, she is a virgin. She has never defiled herself. She has never abandoned herself to men, like the other goddesses.


Oh! How strange the moon looks. Like the hand of a dead woman who is seeking to cover herself with a shroud.

The moon has a strange look! She is like a little princess, whose eyes are eyes of amber. Through the clouds of muslin she is smiling like a little princess.



The moon has a strange look to-night. Has she not a strange look? She is like a mad woman, a mad woman who is seeking everywhere for lovers. She is naked too. She is quite naked. The clouds are seeking to clothe her nakedness, but she will not let them. She reels through the clouds like a drunken woman. ... I am sure she is looking for lovers. . . . Does she not reel like a drunken woman? She is like a mad woman, is she not?


No. The moon is like the moon, that is all.

pallas_athena: (tarot)
2013-06-08 12:21 am
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Poem of the day: after having seen the Tiger Lillies

A Ballade of Theatricals
G. K. Chesterton

Though all the critics' canons grow--
Far seedier than the actors' own--
Although the cottage-door's too low--
Although the fairy's twenty stone--
Although, just like the telephone,
She comes by wire and not by wings,
Though all the mechanism's known--
Believe me, there are real things.

Yes, real people--even so--
Even in a theatre, truth is known,
Though the agnostic will not know,
And though the gnostic will not own,
There is a thing called skin and bone,
And many a man that struts and sings
Has been as stony-broke as stone . . .
Believe me, there are real things.

There is an hour when all men go;
An hour when man is all alone.
When idle minstrels in a row
Went down with all the bugles blown--
When brass and hymn and drum went down,
Down in death's throat with thunderings--
Ah, though the unreal things have grown,
Believe me, there are real things.


Prince, though your hair is not your own
And half your face held on by strings,
And if you sat, you'd smash your throne--
--Believe me, there are real things.
pallas_athena: (Default)
2012-08-10 01:52 am
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Poem Of The Day

The Clipped Stater
by Robert Graves
(To Aircraftsman 338171, T.E. Shaw)

King Alexander had been deified
By loud applause of the Macedonian phalanx,
By sullen groans of the wide worlds lately conquered.
Who but a god could so have engulphed their pride?

He did not take a goddess to the throne
In the elder style, remembering what disasters
Juno's invidious eye brought on her Consort.
Thais was fair; but he must hold his own.

Nor would he rank himself a common god
In fellowship with those of Ind or Egypt
Whom he had shamed; even to Jove his father
Paid scant respect (as Jove stole Saturn's nod).

Now meditates: 'No land of all known lands
Has offered me resistance, none denied me
Infinite power, infinite thought and knowledge;
What yet awaits the assurance of my hands?'
Continued below )
pallas_athena: (Default)
2012-05-22 12:44 am
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Poem of the night

The Madman's Song
from The Duchess Of Malfi, IV, ii
by John Webster

Oh, let us howl some heavy note,
Some deadly-doggéd howl,
Sounding as from the threatening throat
Of beasts and fatal fowl.
As ravens, screech-owls, bulls, and bears,
We'll bell, and bawl our parts,
Till irksome noise have cloyed your ears
And corrosived your hearts.
At last, whenas our quire wants breath,
Our bodies being blest,
We'll sing like swans to welcome death,
And die in love and rest.
pallas_athena: (Default)
2012-05-01 09:53 pm
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Poem of the day: May morning

Corinna's Going a-Maying
Robert Herrick (1591-1674)
Get up, get up for shame, the blooming morn
Upon her wings presents the god unshorn.
       See how Aurora throws her fair
       Fresh-quilted colours through the air:
       Get up, sweet slug-a-bed, and see
       The dew bespangling herb and tree.
Each flower has wept and bow'd toward the east
Above an hour since: yet you not dress'd;
       Nay! not so much as out of bed?
       When all the birds have matins said
       And sung their thankful hymns, 'tis sin,
       Nay, profanation to keep in,
Whereas a thousand virgins on this day
Spring, sooner than the lark, to fetch in May.

Rise and put on your foliage, and be seen
To come forth, like the spring-time, fresh and green,
       And sweet as Flora.  Take no care
       For jewels for your gown or hair:
       Fear not; the leaves will strew
       Gems in abundance upon you:
Besides, the childhood of the day has kept,
Against you come, some orient pearls unwept;
       Come and receive them while the light
       Hangs on the dew-locks of the night:
       And Titan on the eastern hill
       Retires himself, or else stands still
Till you come forth.   Wash, dress, be brief in praying:
Few beads are best when once we go a-Maying.

Come, my Corinna, come; and, coming, mark
How each field turns a street, each street a park
       Made green and trimm'd with trees: see how
       Devotion gives each house a bough
       Or branch: each porch, each door ere this
       An ark, a tabernacle is,
Made up of white-thorn neatly interwove;
As if here were those cooler shades of love.
       Can such delights be in the street
       And open fields and we not see't?
       Come, we'll abroad; and let's obey
       The proclamation made for May:
And sin no more, as we have done, by staying;
But, my Corinna, come, let's go a-Maying.

There's not a budding boy or girl this day
But is got up, and gone to bring in May.
       A deal of youth, ere this, is come
       Back, and with white-thorn laden home.
       Some have despatch'd their cakes and cream
       Before that we have left to dream:
And some have wept, and woo'd, and plighted troth,
And chose their priest, ere we can cast off sloth:
       Many a green-gown has been given;
       Many a kiss, both odd and even:
       Many a glance too has been sent
       From out the eye, love's firmament;
Many a jest told of the keys betraying
This night, and locks pick'd, yet we're not a-Maying.

Come, let us go while we are in our prime;
And take the harmless folly of the time.
       We shall grow old apace, and die
       Before we know our liberty.
       Our life is short, and our days run
       As fast away as does the sun;
And, as a vapour or a drop of rain
Once lost, can ne'er be found again,
       So when or you or I are made
       A fable, song, or fleeting shade,
       All love, all liking, all delight
       Lies drowned with us in endless night.
Then while time serves, and we are but decaying,
Come, my Corinna, come, let's go a-Maying.
pallas_athena: (Default)
2012-03-20 10:13 pm
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Poem of the day: Equinoctial

From Hilaire Belloc's Sonnets of the Month

The winter moon has such a quiet car
That all the winter nights are dumb with rest.
She drives the gradual dark with drooping crest,
And dreams go wandering from her drowsy star.
Because the nights are silent, do not wake:
But there shall tremble through the general earth,
And over you, a quickening and a birth.
The sun is near the hill-tops for your sake.

The latest born of all the days shall creep
To kiss the tender eyelids of the year;
And you shall wake, grown young with perfect sleep,
And smile at the new world, and make it dear
With living murmurs more than dreams are deep.
Silence is dead, my Dawn; the morning's here.
pallas_athena: (Default)
2012-03-04 02:09 pm
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Poem of the day

A meteor was seen falling across the UK last night. It put me in mind of this sonnet by Hilaire Belloc. The religious utterances don't reflect my own views, but I think the last sestet is stunning.

What are the names for Beauty? Who shall praise
God's pledge he can fulfil His creatures' eyes?
Or what strong words of what creative phrase
Determine Beauty's title in the skies?
But I will call you Beauty Personate,
Ambassadorial Beauty, and again
Beauty triumphant, Beauty in the Gate,
Beauty salvation of the souls of men.

For Beauty was not Beauty till you came
And now shall Beauty mean the sign you are;
A Beacon burnt above the Dawn, a flame
Like holy Lucifer the Morning Star,
Who latest hangs in Heaven and is the gem
On all the widowed Night's expectant Diadem.
pallas_athena: (Default)
2012-01-01 04:36 pm
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Poem of the New Year's Day

As I Walked Out One Evening
W. H. Auden

As I walked out one evening,
Walking down Bristol Street,
The crowds upon the pavement
Were fields of harvest wheat.

And down by the brimming river
I heard a lover sing
Under the arch of the railway
"Love has no ending.

"I'll love you, dear, I'll love you
Till China and Africa meet
And the river jumps over the mountain
And salmon sing in the street.

"I'll love you till the ocean
Is folded and hung up to dry
And the seven stars go squawking
Like geese about the sky.

"The years shall run like rabbits
For in my arms I hold
The Flower of the Ages
And the first love of the World."

But all the clocks in the city
Began to whirr and chime:
O let not Time deceive you,
You cannot conquer Time.

In the burrows of the Nightmare
Where Justice naked is,
Time watches from the shadow
And coughs when you would kiss.

In headaches and in worry
Vaguely life leaks away,
And Time will have his fancy
To-morrow or today.

Into many a green valley
Drifts the appalling snow;
Time breaks the threaded dances
And the diver's brilliant bow.

The glacier knocks in the cupboard,
The desert sighs in the bed,
And the crack in the tea-cup opens
A lane to the land of the dead.

Where the beggars raffle the banknotes
And the Giant is enchanting to Jack,
And the Lily-white boy is a Roarer
And Jill goes down on her back.

O plunge your hands in water,
Plunge them in up to the wrist;
Stare, stare in the basin
And wonder what you've missed.

O look, look in the mirror,
O look in your distress;
Life remains a blessing
Although you cannot bless.

O stand, stand at the window
As the tears scald and start;
You shall love your crooked neighbour
With your crooked heart.

It was late, late in the evening,
The lovers they were gone;
The clocks had ceased their chiming
And the deep river ran on.
pallas_athena: (Default)
2011-12-25 02:56 pm
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Shakespeare of the day

Some say that ever 'gainst that season comes
Wherein our Saviour's birth is celebrated,
The bird of dawning singeth all night long;
And then, they say, no spirit dare stir abroad;
The nights are wholesome; then no planets strike,
No fairy takes, nor witch hath power to charm,
So hallow'd and so gracious is the time.

Hamlet, I.i
pallas_athena: (Default)
2011-10-21 05:42 pm
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Published poet!

I've had a sonnet published, with a small amount of actual money attached! I feel quite happy about this. It's in this autumn's issue of Goblin Fruit. I'd read a couple of their back numbers, liked them, decided that it was my sort of magazine and, in a fit of late-night insanity, sent them two sonnets, of which they took one.

Not only that, but it's been reviewed at The Black Gate. The reviewer is C. S. E. Cooney, whose poem, Ride of the Robber Bride, I liked very much in last spring's Goblin Fruit. Here's the review, for posterity:

Graham’s sonnet is… Well. It’s funny! I don’t know if it was meant to be funny. But there’s a rue in that lovelorn confession — “I’m every idiot who’s ever stood/ At dead of night beneath a balcony…” It’s old fashioned. It requires a velvet doublet and a rapier and a fine feathered hat. I liked it!

I don't know if she actually liked it or was just being polite, but she definitely gets it. Henceforward all my poems will come with a dress code.
pallas_athena: (Default)
2011-10-20 08:46 pm
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Poem of the day

An Appeal to Cats in the Business of Love
by Thomas Flatman

Ye Cats that at midnight spit love at each other,
Who best feel the pangs of a passionate Lover,
I appeal to your scratches, and your tattered fur,
If the business of Love be no more than to Purr.
Old Lady Grimalkin with her Gooseberry eyes,
Knew something when a Kitten, for why she was wise;
You find by experience the Love fit's soon o'er,
Puss! Puss! lasts not long, but turns to Cat-whore.
Men ride many Miles,
Cats tread many Tiles,
Both hazard their necks in the Fray;
Only Cats, when they fall
From a House, or a Wall,
Keep their feet, mount their Tails, and away!
pallas_athena: (Default)
2011-03-13 02:01 am
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Poem of the day

The fascination of what’s difficult
Has dried the sap out of my veins, and rent
Spontaneous joy and natural content
Out of my heart. There’s something ails our colt
That must, as if it had not holy blood,
Nor on Olympus leaped from cloud to cloud,
Shiver under the lash, strain, sweat and jolt
As though it dragged road metal. My curse on plays
That have to be set up in fifty ways,
On the day’s war with every knave and dolt,
Theatre business, management of men.
I swear before the dawn comes round again
I’ll find the stable and pull out the bolt.

-- W. B. Yeats
pallas_athena: (Default)
2011-01-08 07:42 pm
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Not cricket

Looking back on it, yesterday's poem seems like a lazily obvious choice. Anyone know any better cricket-related poems?

Also, I should confess that I really hate Henry Newbolt. This is not entirely Newbolt's fault (though his tendency towards horrible sub-Kipling bombast doesn't help.)

I fucking loathe Newbolt largely because of the guy who introduced me to his work.
A tale of relationship horror lurks below )
pallas_athena: (Default)
2010-11-11 02:46 pm
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Poem of the day

An Irish Airman Foresees his Death
W B Yeats

I know that I shall meet my fate
Somewhere among the clouds above;
Those that I fight I do not hate,
Those that I guard I do not love;
My country is Kiltartan Cross,
My countrymen Kiltartan’s poor;
No likely end could bring them loss
Or leave them happier than before.
Nor law, nor duty bade me fight,
Nor public men, nor cheering crowds;
A lonely impulse of delight
Drove to this tumult in the clouds;
I balanced all, brought all to mind,
The years to come seemed waste of breath,
A waste of breath the years behind
In balance with this life, this death.
pallas_athena: (Default)
2010-10-27 12:33 pm
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Nell Gwyn takes no shit

From a recent Pepysdiary entry:

Nelly and Beck Marshall, falling out the other day, the latter called the other my Lord Buckhurst’s whore. Nell answered then:

“I was but one man’s whore, though I was brought up in a bawdy-house to fill strong waters to the guests; and you are a whore to three or four, though a Presbyter’s praying daughter!”

Of course, this reminds me of the story-- you know the one, right?-- of when Gwyn's carriage was besieged in an Oxford street by a crowd of zealots who thought the passenger was King Charles's French mistress Louise de Kerouaille. The crowd shoved at the coach, rocking it on its springs, yelling imprecations against the "Catholic whore." Gwyn, realising the mistake, drew the curtains aside, put her head out the door and called:

"Be civil, good people, be civil! I am not she. I am the Protestant whore."

And they let her pass. Gwyn and Kerouaille (anglicised to "Carwell") both appear in Rochester's Satire on Charles II, the poem that got him exiled when he accidentally handed a copy to the King:
Ouch. )
Gwyn is also the subject of one of my favourite portraits in the National Portrait Gallery. Her expression there pretty much defines "come hither."

Nell Gwyn didn't die of the pox. The pox died of Nell Gwyn. Fact.