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

GHOSTS
 
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.

FROM:

Emily Dickinson
SELECTED POEMS 
Unabridged

Dover Thrift Editions

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

AGAINST CONSTANCY
 
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.
 
FROM: 
 
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)

From: THE RUINES OF TIME
 
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.
 
FROM: 
 
The Oxford Library of English Poetry
Volume I
Spenser to Dryden
 
Chosen & edited by John Wain

Diary of the Plague Year: Day 82 5 June 2020: Quotidian Poetry – Poems by the The Creative Writing Group a The Felix Post Unit

THE FELIX POST UNIT WAS A DAY CENTRE FOR OLDER ADULTS AT THE MAUDSLEY HOSPITAL. IT WAS CLOSED DOWN IN 2008 FOR NO APPARENT GOOD REASON. MANY OF ITS SERVICE USERS WERE FROM THE BAME COMMUNITIES OF SOUTH LONDON.

THE FELIX POST BOX
 
I will put in my box
A confirmation certificate
And words of praise for my bishop
My husband’s compassion
And the heart beat of the sea.
 
I will put in my box
Chinese firecrackers that
Spit and spark at the devil.
Silhouettes of palm trees
And lighting during the monsoon.
 
I will put in my box
A teenage tomboy
Forever-happy climbing mango trees,
A far away memory of a mother’s laugh
And a fisherman’s hook.
 
I will put in my box
Only good stuff
A glowing friendship and
A sweet cup of tea.
 
I will put in my box
My youth and
All the fun of the fair
With donkeys and candlyflosss.
 
I will put in my box
The smell of my first baby
A lot of understanding
And a day in the New Forest in a church
Waiting to hear Dancing Queen playing the organ.
 
I will put in my box
A guinea pig from long ago
So sensitive and soft,
squeezing into a ball like a cat
An orange tree I climbed,
Scared of nothing and such rewards!
 
I will put it in my box
The circus at Blackpool and dancing girls in swimsuits,
The smell of a mango
And juice of a young coconut.
 
My box is made of
Garden scents and music
With ribbons and buttons and all sorts
On the lid.
You can unlock it by wishing quietly.
 
I shall keep my box
High on a roll of thunder
And watch the dice
As they tumble down
An evening on the beach.
 
ALICE HAYCOCK
CLARICE PORTER
SHIRLEY RICHARDS
LUCILLE POWELL
LIX JELINEK
HUBERT CLARKE
IRENE PRATT

Diary of the Plague Year: Day 81 4 June 2020: Quotidian Poetry: Miklós Radnóti (1909-1944)

SIMPLE SONG OF MY WIFE
 
As she comes in, cackles burst from the door,
The potted plants all stamp, shaking the floor,
A blond streak, small and drowsy, in her hair
Cheeps like a frightened sparrow in the straw.
 
Clumsily whirling towards her through the air,
The ageing light-flex too lets out a squawk:
Everything spins – to jot it down, no chance.
 
She has come back. She has been gone all day.
She bears an enormous poppy in her hands
To drive death, my adversary, away.
 
5 January 1940
 
FROM:
 
Miklós Radnóti
FORCED MARCH
 
Translated by George Gömöri and Clive Wilmer
 
Enitharmon Press

Diary of the Plague Year: Day 80 3 June 2020: Quotidian Poetry: FROM The Book of Songs China (c. 600 BC)

CYPRESS BOAT

Tossed is that cypress boat,
Wave-tossed it floats.
My heart is in turmoil. I cannot sleep.
But secret is my grief.
Wine I have, all things needful
For play, for sport.

My heart is not a mirror,
To reflect what others will.
Brothers too I have;
I cannot be snatched away.
But lo, when I told them of my plight
I found that they were angry with me.

My heart is not a stone;
It cannot be rolled.
My heart is not a mat;
It cannot be folded away.
I have borne myself correctly
In rites more than can be numbered.

My sad heart is consumed. I am harassed
By a host of small men.
I have borne vexations very many,
Received insults not a few.
In the still of night I brood upon it;
In the waking hours I rend my breast.

O sun, ah, moon
Why are you changed and dim?
Sorrow clings to me
Like an unwashed dress.
In the still of night I brood upon it,
Long to take wing and fly away.

FROM:  

The Airs of Bei 26-44
THE BOOK OF SONGS

The Ancient Chinese Classic of Poetry
Translated by Arthur Waley

Grove Press

Diary of the Plague Year: Day 79 2 June 2020: Quotidian Poetry: George Mackay Brown (1921 – 1966)

DREAM OF WINTER
 
These were the sounds that dinned upon his ear –
The spider’s fatal purring, and the grey
Trumpeting of old mammoths locked in ice.
No human sound there was: only the evil
Shriek of the violin sang of human woe
And conquest and defeat, and the round drums
  Sobbed as they beat.
 
He saw the victim nailed against the night
With ritual stars. The skull, a ruin of dreams,
Leaned in the wind, merry with curl and thorn.
The long robes circled. A penitential wail
For the blue lobster and the yellow cornstalk
And the hooded victim, broken to let men live,
  Flashed from their throats.
 
Then all the faces turned from the Winter Man.
From the loch’s April lip a swan slid out
In a cold rhyme. The year stretched like a child
And rubbed its eyes on light. Spring on the hill
With lamb and tractor, lovers and burning heather.
Byres stood open. The wind’s blue fingers laid
  A migrant on the rock.
 
FROM:

The Faber Book of 20th Century Verse

Edited by John Heath-Stubbs & David Wright

Diary of the Plague Year: Day 75 29 May 2020: Quotidian Poetry: T.S. Eliot (1888 – 1965)

                           MARINA
 
                      Quis hic locus quae
                   Regio, quae mundi plaga?
 
  What seas what shores what grey rocks and what islands
What water lapping the bow
And scent of pine and the woodthrush singing through the
    fog
What images return
O my daughter.
  Those who sharpen the tooth of the dog, meaning
Death
Those who glitter with the glory of the hummingbird,
    meaning
Death
Those who sit in the sty of contentment, meaning
Death
Those who suffer the ecstacy of the animals, meaning
Death
  Are become unsubstantial, reduced by a wind,
A breath of pine, and the woodsong fog
By this grace dissolved in place
  What is this face, less clear and clearer
The pulse in the arm, less strong and stronger –
Given or lent? more distant than stars and nearer than the
      Eye
    Whisper and small laughter between leaves and hurrying
        Feet
Under sleep, where all the waters meet.
  Bowsprit cracked with ice and paint cracked with heat.
I made this, I have forgotten
And remember.
The rigging weak and the canvas rotten
Between one June and another September.
Made this unknowing, half conscious, unknown, my own.
The garboard strake leaks, the seams need caulking.
This form, this face, this life
Living to live for a world of time beyond me; let me
Resign my life for this life, my speech for that unspoken,
The awakened, lips parted, the hope, the new ships.
   What seas what shores what granite islands towards my
       timbers
And woodthrush calling through the fog
My daughter.

FROM:

Collected Poems
1909-1962
T.S. Eliot

Faber Paperbacks

Diary of the Plague Year: Day 74 28 May 2020: Quotidian Poetry: Beowulf and Grendel (8th Century England)

From: BEOWULF AND GRENDEL
 
Attend!
We have heard of the thriving of the throne of
    Denmark,
how the folk-kings flourished in former days,
how those royal athelings earned that glory.
 
Was it not Scyld Shefing that shook the halls,
Took mead-benches, taught encroaching
foes to fear him – who, found in childhood,
lacked clothing? Yet he lived and prospered,
grew in strength and stature under the heavens
until the clans settled in the sea-coasts neighbouring
over the whale-road all must obey him
and give tribute. He was a good king!
 
FROM:
 
Beowulf and Grendel
A Verse Translation by Michael Alexander
 
Penguin 60s