Diary of the Plague Year: Day 95 18 June 2020: Quotidian Poetry: Emily Dickinson (1830 – 1886)

One need not be a chamber to be haunted,
One need not be a house;
The brain has corridors surpassing
Material place.
Far safer, of a midnight meeting
External ghost,
Than an interior confronting
That whiter host.
Far safer through an Abbey gallop,
The stones achase,
Than, moonless, one’s own self encounter
In lonesome place.
Ourself, behind ourself concealed,
Should startle most;
Assassin, hid in our apartment,
Be horror’s least.
The prudent carries a revolver,
He bolts the door,
O’erlooking a superior spectre
More near.


Emily Dickinson

Dover Thrift Editions

Diary of the Plague Year: Day 94 17 June 2020: Quotidian Poetry: W. B. Yeats (1865 – 1939)


That is no country for old men. The young
In one another's arms, birds in the trees,
—Those dying generations—at their song,
The salmon-falls, the mackerel-crowded seas,
Fish, flesh, or fowl, commend all summer long
Whatever is begotten, born, and dies.
Caught in that sensual music all neglect
Monuments of unageing intellect.
An aged man is but a paltry thing,
A tattered coat upon a stick, unless
Soul clap its hands and sing, and louder sing
For every tatter in its mortal dress,
Nor is there singing school but studying
Monuments of its own magnificence;
And therefore I have sailed the seas and come
To the holy city of Byzantium.
O sages standing in God's holy fire
As in the gold mosaic of a wall,
Come from the holy fire, perne in a gyre,
And be the singing-masters of my soul.
Consume my heart away; sick with desire
And fastened to a dying animal
It knows not what it is; and gather me
Into the artifice of eternity.
Once out of nature I shall never take
My bodily form from any natural thing,
But such a form as Grecian goldsmiths make
Of hammered gold and gold enamelling
To keep a drowsy Emperor awake;
Or set upon a golden bough to sing
To lords and ladies of Byzantium
Of what is past, or passing, or to come.


POETRY 1900 TO 1975

Editor George MacBeth

Diary of the Plague Year: Day 92 15 June 2020: Quotidian Poetry: William Shakespeare (1564 – 1616)

FROM King Richard II
Act II Scene i
Gaunt. This royal throne of kings, this sceptered isle,
This earth of majesty this seat of Mars,
This other Eden, demi-Paradise;
This fortress built by Nature for herself
Against infection and the hand of war;
This happy breed of men, this little world;
This precious stone set in a silver sea,
Which serves it in the office of a wall,
Or as a moat defensive to a house,
Against the envy of less happier lands;
This blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England.,
This nurse, this teeming womb of royal kings,
Feared by their breed, and famous by their birth,
Renowned for their deeds as far from home,
For Christian service and true chivalry,
As in the sepulchre, in stubborn Jewry,
Of the world’s ransom, blessed Mary’s Son;
This land of such dear souls, this dear dear land,
Dear for her reputation through this world,
Is now leased out – I die pronouncing it –
Like to a tenement or pelting farm;
England, bound in with the triumphant sea,
Whose rocky shore beats back the previous siege
Of watery Neptune, is now bound with shame,
With ink blots, and rotten parchment bonds:
That England, that was wont to conquer others,
Hath made a shameful conquest of itself.
William Shakespeare
366 poems, old and new, worth
learning by heart
Edited by Nicholas Albery

Diary of the Plague Year: Day 90 13 June 2020: Transplanting

Rain. At last. Woken in the night.

Decided to transplant the cornus kousa, which has been looking more and more unhappy in the gale force winds lately, and replaced it with a cheap and cheerful dwarf cherry from the pound shop.

The cornus went into the orchard by the hedge and already is looking much happier. Time will tell. The cornus is billed as able to sustain wind but I don’t think these categories allow for the West Cork variety.

And managed to snap my spade in the process.

Diary of the Plague Year: Day 88 11 June 2020: Quotidian Poetry: William Barnes (1801 – 1886)


Since I noo mwore do zee your fe{‘a}ce,
    Up ste{‘a}rs or down below,
I’ll zit me in the lwonesome ple{‘a}ce,
    Where flat-bough’d beech do grow;
Below the beeches’ bough, my love,
   Where you did never come,
An’ I don’t look to meet ye now,
     As I do look at hwome.

Since you noo mwore be at my zide,
  In walks in zummer het,
I’ll goo alwone where mist do ride,
  Drough trees a-drippèn wet;
Below the ra{‘i}n-wet bough, my love,
  Where you did never come,
An’ I don’t grieve to miss ye now,
  As I do grieve at hwome.

Since now bezide my dinner-bwoard
  Your va{‘i}ce do never sound,
I’ll eat the bit I can avword,
  A-vield upon the ground;
Below the darksome bough, my love,
  Where you did never dine,
An’ I don’t grieve to miss ye now,
  As I at hwome do pine.

Since I do miss your va{‘i}ce an’ fe{‘a}ce
  In pra{‘y}er at eventide,
I’ll pray wi’ woone sad va{‘i}ce vor gre{‘a}ce
  To goo where you do bide;
Above the tree an’ bough, my love,
  Where you be gone avore,
An’ be a-w{‘a}itèn vor me now,
  To come vor evermwore.


The Oxford Library of English Poetry
Volume II
Darley to Heaney

Chosen & edited by John Wain

Diary of the Plague Year: Day 87 10 June 2020: New Garden Plants

Rain at last.

New plants in the garden:

Astilbe Chinensis “Glitter and Glamour”
Astilbe “Happy Spirit”
Astrantia “Hadspen Blood” Masterwort
Geranium “Daily Blue”
Veronicastrum virginicum “Red Arrows”
Aruncus “Misty Lace”

Worm Wood Artemisa “Powis Castle”
Catananche Caerulea Cupid’s Dart “Amor Blue”
Sisyrinchium californicum
Heuchera “Black Beauty” Coral Flower
Salvia nemerosa “Sensation Pink”
Salvia Concolor

Diary of the Plague Year: Day 87 10 June 2020: Quotidian Poetry: John Wilmot (1647 – 1680)

Tell me no more of constancy,
   The frivolous pretense
Of cold age, narrow jealousy,
  Disease, and want of sense.
Let duller fools, on whom kind chance
  Some easy heart has thrown,
Despairing higher to advance,
  Be kind to one alone.
Old men and weak, whose idle flame
  Their own defects discovers,
Since changing can but spread their shame,
  Ought to be constant lovers.
But we, whose hearts do justly swell
  With not vainglorious pride,
Who know how we in love excel,
  Long to be often tried.
Then bring my bath, and strew my bed,
  As each kind night returns,
I’ll change a mistress till I’m dead –
  And fate change me to worms.
The Oxford Library of English Poetry
Volume II
Sackville to Keats
Chosen & edited by John Wain

Diary of the Plague Year: Day 86 9 June 2020: Quotidian Poetry: Edmund Spenser (1552/3 – 1599)

A length, they all to mery London came,
To mery London, my most kyndly Nurse,
That to me gaue this Lifes first natiue sourse:
Though from another place I take my name,
A house of auncient fame.
There when they came, whereas those bricky towres,
The which on Temmes brode aged backe doe ryde,
Where now the studious Lawyers haue their bowers,
Where whylome wont the Templer Knights to byde,
Till they decayd through pride:
Next whereunto there standes a stately place,
Where oft I gained giftes and goodly grace
Of that great Lord, which therein wont to dwell,
Whose want too well now feeles my freendles case:
But Ah here fits not well
Old woes but ioyes to tell
Against the Brydale daye, which is not long:
    Sweete Themmes runne softly, till I end my Song.
The Oxford Library of English Poetry
Volume I
Spenser to Dryden
Chosen & edited by John Wain

Diary of the Plague Year: Day 85 8 June 2020: Boethius (477–524 AD)

‘Gazing at my grief-dejected face, Philosophy
Deplored my chaotic mind’ DE CONS. I.I.14
Just look at him! his mind has sunk deep down,
Has lost its inner light, become so dull;
It reaches out towards external darkness
Each time a toxic wave of worry swells
Into a tsunami, launched by worldly gales.
This was the man who loved the open heavens
And journeyed down the trackways of the skies.
He’d study rose-red suns and icy moons
And calculate the planets’ sinuous paths,
Subjecting them to mathematic laws.
This was the man devoted to enquiring
Why roaring hurricanes assault the sea
What spirit turns the sphere of the fixed stars
And why the sun climbs from the smouldering east
Then drops beneath the waters of the west;
And what ensures the gentle days of spring
Become so temperate that rosebuds pop
And multiply their beauty through the land;
And who at harvest when the time is ripe
Endows the autumn with its swollen grapes.
Revealing nature’s secrets was his life.
But he lies there, light of reason dead.
His neck’s encumbered by such heavy chains
His head is forced to loll towards the ground
To contemplate the uninspiring mud.