2012-11-27

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2012-11-27 12:00 am

The Persian Version - Robert Graves

The Persian Version

Truth-loving Persians do not dwell upon
The trivial skirmish fought near Marathon.
As for the Greek theatrical tradition
Which represents that summer's expedition
Not as a mere reconnaisance in force
By three brigades of foot and one of horse
(Their left flank covered by some obsolete
Light craft detached from the main Persian fleet)
But as a grandiose, ill-starred attempt
To conquer Greece - they treat it with contempt;
And only incidentally refute
Major Greek claims, by stressing what repute
The Persian monarch and the Persian nation
Won by this salutary demonstration:
Despite a strong defence and adverse weather
All arms combined magnificently together.

-- Robert Graves
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2012-11-27 12:03 am
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W.H. Auden, "The Fall of Rome"

The piers are pummelled by the waves;
In a lonely field the rain
Lashes an abandoned train;
Outlaws fill the mountain caves.

Fantastic grow the evening gowns;
Agents of the Fisc pursue
Absconding tax-defaulters through
The sewers of provincial towns.

Private rites of magic send
The temple prostitutes to sleep;
All the literati keep
An imaginary friend.

Cerebrotonic Cato may
Extol the Ancient Disciplines,
But the muscle-bound Marines
Mutiny for food and pay.

Caesar's double-bed is warm
As an unimportant clerk
Writes I DO NOT LIKE MY WORK
On a pink official form.

Unendowed with wealth or pity,
Little birds with scarlet legs,
Sitting on their speckled eggs,
Eye each flu-infected city.

Altogether elsewhere, vast
Herds of reindeer move across
Miles and miles of golden moss,
Silently and very fast.
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2012-11-27 12:04 am
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Dorothy Parker: To Newcastle

I met a man the other day—
A kindly man, and serious—
Who viewed me in a thoughtful way,
And spoke me so, and spoke me thus:

“Oh, dallying’s a sad mistake;
’Tis craven to survey the morrow!
Go give your heart, and if it break—
A wise companion is Sorrow.

“Oh, live, my child, nor keep your soul
To crowd your coffin when you’re dead….”
I asked his work; he dealt in coal,
And shipped it up the Tyne, he said.
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2012-11-27 12:07 am
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Nichita Stanescu: Winter Song

You are so beautiful in winter!
The field stretched on its back, near the horizon,
and the trees stopped running from the winter wind ...
My nostrils tremble
and no scent
and no breeze
only the distant, icy smell
of the suns.
How transparent your hands are in winter!
And no one passes -
only the white suns revolve in quiet worship.
and the thought spreads in circles
ringing the trees
in twos
in fours.

[English translation by Thomas Carlson and Vasile Poenaru.]
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2012-11-27 12:11 am
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The Hearth of Rheged - anon

The Hearth of Rheged

Many a lively hound and spirited hawk
were fed on its floor
before this place was in ruins.

This hearth-
It was more accustomed on its floor
to mead and drinkers petitioning.

This hearth- nettles hide it.

(from Marwnad Urien Rheged, The Red Book of Hergest, written down c. 1382)
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2012-11-27 12:19 am
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Lament - Lt-Colonel Lord of Poltalloch DL JP

As I walked under the African moon,
I heard the piper play;
And the last place ever I heard that tune
Was a thousand miles away.

Far to the west, in a deep-cut bay
By the ceaseless sound of the sea,
We lived and laughed in a happier day,
Archie and Johnnie and me.

For they'd be piping half of the night
At every ceilidh by,
And I'd be dancing with all my might
As long as they played, would I.

Many a time we were at the Games,
And many a prize had we;
And never a one but called our names,
Archie and Johnnie and me.

But Archie's dead on the Libyan sand.
And Johnnie was left in Crete,
And I'm alone in a distant land
With the music gone from my feet.

I heard him under the African moon,
That piper I could not see;
Yet certain I am he played that tune
For Archie and Johnnie and me.

-Lt-Colonel Lord of Poltalloch DL JP
Duntroon Castle, Lochgilphead, Argyll
Died March 1976. "Lament"

(George Ian Malcolm?)
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2012-11-27 12:23 am

(no subject)

Weeping, my little one? There, there.
You cannot know what waits for you.
- How will it be? Falling down - down - all broken -
And none to pity.
Kiss me. Never again. Come closer, closer.
Your mother who bore you - put your arms around my neck.
Now kiss me, lips to lips.

-Euripides, "The Trojan Women"
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2012-11-27 12:29 am

Tessa Ransford, "August 3rd"

August 3rd

The hill is tossing high, frail wisps of
rosy cloud to glide in steady gale
along a turquoise sky, around, above the
perpendicular and slightly askew columns,
above the triangular gap
between crown and crag.

The moon, full at midnight,
is now high and faded
almost a lazy eyelid:
day’s eye opening
or night’s eye closing.

Birds chase and ride the wind
reeling, wheeling,
aware that in a moment
ordinary flight of day will have to be resumed.

The hawk alone is steady,
keeps position despite the gale
to pinpoint a victim

and far below
grasses tinge in flower:
harebell, yarrow, lady’s yellow bedstraw
Among the rangy thistles and fatted doves.

-Tessa Ransford, "August 3rd"


(Arthur's seat)
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2012-11-27 12:37 am

(no subject)

An Lon Dubh

Int én bec
ro léic feit
do rind guip
glanbuidi;
fo-cheird faíd
os Loch Laíg
lon do chraíb
charnbuidi.


Blackbird at Belfast Lough

The wee bird
has let out a whistle
from the point of a beak
bright yellow;
it sends out a call
above Loch Laig
a blackbird from a branch
yellow-heaped