Thursday, October 19, 2017

Remember


Remember me when I am gone away, 
Gone far away into the silent land; 
When you can no more hold me by the hand, 
Nor I half turn to go yet turning stay. 
Remember me when no more day by day 
You tell me of our future that you planned: 
Only remember me; you understand 
It will be late to counsel then or pray. 
Yet if you should forget me for a while 
And afterwards remember, do not grieve: 
For if the darkness and corruption leave 
A vestige of the thoughts that once I had, 
Better by far you should forget and smile 
Than that you should remember and be sad.

~ Christina Georgina Rossetti

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Invictus


Out of the night that covers me, 
Black as the pit from pole to pole, 
I thank whatever gods may be 
For my unconquerable soul. 

In the fell clutch of circumstance 
I have not winced nor cried aloud. 
Under the bludgeonings of chance 
My head is bloody, but unbowed. 

Beyond this place of wrath and tears 
Looms but the Horror of the shade, 
And yet the menace of the years 
Finds and shall find me unafraid. 

It matters not how strait the gate, 
How charged with punishments the scroll, 
I am the master of my fate, 
I am the captain of my soul. 

~ William Ernest Henley

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Anthem for Doomed Youth



What passing-bells for these who die as cattle? 
— Only the monstrous anger of the guns. 
Only the stuttering rifles' rapid rattle 
Can patter out their hasty orisons. 
No mockeries now for them; no prayers nor bells; 
Nor any voice of mourning save the choirs,— 
The shrill, demented choirs of wailing shells; 
And bugles calling for them from sad shires. 

What candles may be held to speed them all? 
Not in the hands of boys, but in their eyes 
Shall shine the holy glimmers of goodbyes. 
The pallor of girls' brows shall be their pall; 
Their flowers the tenderness of patient minds, 
And each slow dusk a drawing-down of blinds.

~ Wilfred Owen

Monday, October 16, 2017

My Heart Leaps Up When I Behold


My heart leaps up when I behold 
A rainbow in the sky:
So was it when my life began; 
So is it now I am a man; 
So be it when I shall grow old, 
Or let me die!
The Child is father of the Man;
And I could wish my days to be
Bound each to each by natural piety.

~ WIlliam Wordsworth

Friday, October 13, 2017

Some Keep the Sabbath Going to Church




Some keep the Sabbath going to Church;
I keep it, staying at Home,
With a Bobolink for a Chorister, 
And an Orchard, for a Dome. 

Some keep the Sabbath in Surplice;
I, just wear my Wings,
And instead of tolling the Bell, for Church, 
Our little Sexton sings. 

God preaches, ---a noted Clergyman,---
And the sermon is never long; 
So instead of getting to Heaven, at last, 
I’m going, all along.

~ Emily Dickinson

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Lullaby


Golden slumbers kiss your eyes, 
Smiles awake you when you rise ; 
Sleep, pretty wantons, do not cry, 
And I will sing a lullaby, 
Rock them, rock them, lullaby. 

Care is heavy, therefore sleep you, 
You are care, and care must keep you ; 
Sleep, pretty wantons, do not cry, 
And I will sing a lullaby, 
Rock them, rock them, lullaby.

~ Thomas Dekker

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

The Pied Piper of Hamelin



I
Hamelin Town's in Brunswick, 
By famous Hanover city; 
The river Weser, deep and wide, 
Washes its wall on the southern side; 
A pleasanter spot you never spied; 
But, when begins my ditty, 
Almost five hundred years ago, 
To see the townsfolk suffer so 
From vermin, was a pity.

II
Rats! 
They fought the dogs and killed the cats, 
And bit the babies in the cradles, 
And ate the cheeses out of the vats, 
And licked the soup from the cooks' own ladles, 
Split open the kegs of salted sprats, 
Made nests inside men's Sunday hats, 
And even spoiled the women's chats, 
By drowning their speaking 
With shrieking and squeaking 
In fifty different sharps and flats.

III
At last the people in a body 
To the Town Hall came flocking: 
``Tis clear,'' cried they, ``our Mayor's a noddy; 
``And as for our Corporation -- shocking 
``To think we buy gowns lined with ermine 
``For dolts that can't or won't determine 
``What's best to rid us of our vermin! 
``You hope, because you're old and obese, 
``To find in the furry civic robe ease? 
``Rouse up, sirs! Give your brains a racking 
``To find the remedy we're lacking, 
``Or, sure as fate, we'll send you packing!'' 
At this the Mayor and Corporation 
Quaked with a mighty consternation.

IV
An hour they sat in council, 
At length the Mayor broke silence: 
``For a guilder I'd my ermine gown sell; 
``I wish I were a mile hence! 
``It's easy to bid one rack one's brain -- 
``I'm sure my poor head aches again, 
``I've scratched it so, and all in vain 
``Oh for a trap, a trap, a trap!'' 
Just as he said this, what should hap 
At the chamber door but a gentle tap? 
``Bless us,'' cried the Mayor, ``what's that?'' 
(With the Corporation as he sat, 
Looking little though wondrous fat; 
Nor brighter was his eye, nor moister 
Than a too-long-opened oyster, 
Save when at noon his paunch grew mutinous 
For a plate of turtle green and glutinous) 
`Only a scraping of shoes on the mat? 
``Anything like the sound of a rat 
``Makes my heart go pit-a-pat!''

V
``Come in!'' -- the Mayor cried, looking bigger 
And in did come the strangest figure! 
His queer long coat from heel to head 
Was half of yellow and half of red, 
And he himself was tall and thin, 
With sharp blue eyes, each like a pin, 
And light loose hair, yet swarthy skin 
No tuft on cheek nor beard on chin, 
But lips where smile went out and in; 
There was no guessing his kith and kin: 
And nobody could enough admire 
The tall man and his quaint attire. 
Quoth one: ``It's as my great-grandsire, 
``Starting up at the Trump of Doom's tone, 
``Had walked this way from his painted tombstone!''

VI
He advanced to the council-table: 
And, ``Please your honours,'' said he, ``I'm able, 
``By means of a secret charm, to draw 
``All creatures living beneath the sun, 
``That creep or swim or fly or run, 
``After me so as you never saw! 
``And I chiefly use my charm 
``On creatures that do people harm, 
``The mole and toad and newt and viper; 
``And people call me the Pied Piper.'' 
(And here they noticed round his neck 
A scarf of red and yellow stripe, 
To match with his coat of the self-same cheque; 
And at the scarf's end hung a pipe; 
And his fingers, they noticed, were ever straying 
As if impatient to be playing 
Upon this pipe, as low it dangled 
Over his vesture so old-fangled.) 
``Yet,'' said he, ``poor piper as I am, 
``In Tartary I freed the Cham, 
``Last June, from his huge swarms of gnats, 
``I eased in Asia the Nizam 
``Of a monstrous brood of vampyre-bats: 
``And as for what your brain bewilders, 
``If I can rid your town of rats 
``Will you give me a thousand guilders?'' 
``One? fifty thousand!'' -- was the exclamation 
Of the astonished Mayor and Corporation.

VII
Into the street the Piper stept, 
Smiling first a little smile, 
As if he knew what magic slept 
In his quiet pipe the while; 
Then, like a musical adept, 
To blow the pipe his lips he wrinkled, 
And green and blue his sharp eyes twinkled, 
Like a candle-flame where salt is sprinkled; 
And ere three shrill notes the pipe uttered, 
You heard as if an army muttered; 
And the muttering grew to a grumbling; 
And the grumbling grew to a mighty rumbling; 
And out of the houses the rats came tumbling. 
Great rats, small rats, lean rats, brawny rats, 
Brown rats, black rats, grey rats, tawny rats, 
Grave old plodders, gay young friskers, 
Fathers, mothers, uncles, cousins, 
Cocking tails and pricking whiskers, 
Families by tens and dozens, 
Brothers, sisters, husbands, wives -- 
Followed the Piper for their lives. 
From street to street he piped advancing, 
And step for step they followed dancing, 
Until they came to the river Weser 
Wherein all plunged and perished! 
-- Save one who, stout as Julius Caesar, 
Swam across and lived to carry 
(As he, the manuscript he cherished) 
To Rat-land home his commentary: 
Which was, ``At the first shrill notes of the pipe, 
``I heard a sound as of scraping tripe, 
``And putting apples, wondrous ripe, 
``Into a cider-press's gripe: 
``And a moving away of pickle-tub-boards, 
``And a leaving ajar of conserve-cupboards, 
``And a drawing the corks of train-oil-flasks, 
``And a breaking the hoops of butter-casks: 
``And it seemed as if a voice 
``(Sweeter far than by harp or by psaltery 
``Is breathed) called out, `Oh rats, rejoice! 
```The world is grown to one vast drysaltery! 
```So munch on, crunch on, take your nuncheon, 
```Breakfast, supper, dinner, luncheon!' 
``And just as a bulky sugar-puncheon, 
``All ready staved, like a great sun shone 
``Glorious scarce an inch before me, 
``Just as methought it said, `Come, bore me!' 
`` -- I found the Weser rolling o'er me.''

VIII
You should have heard the Hamelin people 
Ringing the bells till they rocked the steeple 
``Go,'' cried the Mayor, ``and get long poles, 
``Poke out the nests and block up the holes! 
``Consult with carpenters and builders, 
``And leave in our town not even a trace 
``Of the rats!'' -- when suddenly, up the face 
Of the Piper perked in the market-place, 
With a, ``First, if you please, my thousand guilders!''

IX
A thousand guilders! The Mayor looked blue; 
So did the Corporation too. 
For council dinners made rare havoc 
With Claret, Moselle, Vin-de-Grave, Hock; 
And half the money would replenish 
Their cellar's biggest butt with Rhenish. 
To pay this sum to a wandering fellow 
With a gipsy coat of red and yellow! 
``Beside,'' quoth the Mayor with a knowing wink, 
``Our business was done at the river's brink; 
``We saw with our eyes the vermin sink, 
``And what's dead can't come to life, I think. 
``So, friend, we're not the folks to shrink 
``From the duty of giving you something to drink, 
``And a matter of money to put in your poke; 
``But as for the guilders, what we spoke 
``Of them, as you very well know, was in joke. 
``Beside, our losses have made us thrifty. 
``A thousand guilders! Come, take fifty!''

X
The Piper's face fell, and he cried, 
``No trifling! I can't wait, beside! 
``I've promised to visit by dinner-time 
``Bagdad, and accept the prime 
``Of the Head-Cook's pottage, all he's rich in, 
``For having left, in the Caliph's kitchen, 
``Of a nest of scorpions no survivor: 
``With him I proved no bargain-driver, 
``With you, don't think I'll bate a stiver! 
``And folks who put me in a passion 
``May find me pipe after another fashion.''

XI
``How?'' cried the Mayor, ``d'ye think I brook 
``Being worse treated than a Cook? 
``Insulted by a lazy ribald 
``With idle pipe and vesture piebald? 
``You threaten us, fellow? Do your worst, 
``Blow your pipe there till you burst!''

XII
Once more he stept into the street, 
And to his lips again 
Laid his long pipe of smooth straight cane; 
And ere he blew three notes (such sweet 
Soft notes as yet musician's cunning 
Never gave the enraptured air) 
There was a rustling that seemed like a bustling 
Of merry crowds justling at pitching and hustling, 
Small feet were pattering, wooden shoes clattering, 
Little hands clapping and little tongues chattering, 
And, like fowls in a farm-yard when barley is scattering, 
Out came the children running. 
All the little boys and girls, 
With rosy cheeks and flaxen curls, 
And sparkling eyes and teeth like pearls, 
Tripping and skipping, ran merrily after 
The wonderful music with shouting and laughter.

XIII
The Mayor was dumb, and the Council stood 
As if they were changed into blocks of wood, 
Unable to move a step, or cry 
To the children merrily skipping by, 
-- Could only follow with the eye 
That joyous crowd at the Piper's back. 
But how the Mayor was on the rack, 
And the wretched Council's bosoms beat, 
As the Piper turned from the High Street 
To where the Weser rolled its waters 
Right in the way of their sons and daughters! 
However he turned from South to West, 
And to Koppelberg Hill his steps addressed, 
And after him the children pressed; 
Great was the joy in every breast. 
``He never can cross that mighty top! 
``He's forced to let the piping drop, 
``And we shall see our children stop!'' 
When, lo, as they reached the mountain-side, 
A wondrous portal opened wide, 
As if a cavern was suddenly hollowed; 
And the Piper advanced and the children followed, 
And when all were in to the very last, 
The door in the mountain-side shut fast. 
Did I say, all? No! One was lame, 
And could not dance the whole of the way; 
And in after years, if you would blame 
His sadness, he was used to say, -- 
``It's dull in our town since my playmates left! 
``I can't forget that I'm bereft 
``Of all the pleasant sights they see, 
``Which the Piper also promised me. 
``For he led us, he said, to a joyous land, 
``Joining the town and just at hand, 
``Where waters gushed and fruit-trees grew, 
``And flowers put forth a fairer hue, 
``And everything was strange and new; 
``The sparrows were brighter than peacocks here, 
``And their dogs outran our fallow deer, 
``And honey-bees had lost their stings, 
``And horses were born with eagles' wings; 
``And just as I became assured 
``My lame foot would be speedily cured, 
``The music stopped and I stood still, 
``And found myself outside the hill, 
``Left alone against my will, 
``To go now limping as before, 
``And never hear of that country more!''

XIV
Alas, alas for Hamelin! 
There came into many a burgher's pate 
A text which says that heaven's gate 
Opes to the rich at as easy rate 
As the needle's eye takes a camel in! 
The mayor sent East, West, North and South, 
To offer the Piper, by word of mouth, 
Wherever it was men's lot to find him, 
Silver and gold to his heart's content, 
If he'd only return the way he went, 
And bring the children behind him. 
But when they saw 'twas a lost endeavour, 
And Piper and dancers were gone for ever, 
They made a decree that lawyers never 
Should think their records dated duly 
If, after the day of the month and year, 
These words did not as well appear, 
``And so long after what happened here 
``On the Twenty-second of July, 
``Thirteen hundred and seventy-six:'' 
And the better in memory to fix 
The place of the children's last retreat, 
They called it, the Pied Piper's Street -- 
Where any one playing on pipe or tabor, 
Was sure for the future to lose his labour. 
Nor suffered they hostelry or tavern 
To shock with mirth a street so solemn; 
But opposite the place of the cavern 
They wrote the story on a column, 
And on the great church-window painted 
The same, to make the world acquainted 
How their children were stolen away, 
And there it stands to this very day. 
And I must not omit to say 
That in Transylvania there's a tribe 
Of alien people who ascribe 
The outlandish ways and dress 
On which their neighbours lay such stress, 
To their fathers and mothers having risen 
Out of some subterraneous prison 
Into which they were trepanned 
Long time ago in a mighty band 
Out of Hamelin town in Brunswick land, 
But how or why, they don't understand.

XV
So, Willy, let me and you be wipers 
Of scores out with all men -- especially pipers! 
And, whether they pipe us free from rats or from mice, 
If we've promised them aught, let us keep our promise!

~ Robert Browning

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

How's My Boy?


“Ho, Sailor of the sea! 
How’s my boy—my boy?” 
“What’s your boy’s name, good wife, 
And in what good ship sail'd he?” 
“My boy John— 
He that went to sea— 
What care I for the ship, sailor? 
My boy's my boy to me. 

“You come back from sea, 
And not know my John?
I might as well have ask’d some landsman 
Yonder down in the town. 
There ’s not an ass in all the parish 
But he knows my John. 

“How’s my boy—my boy?
And unless you let me know 
I’ll swear you are no sailor, 
Blue jacket or no, 
Brass buttons or no, sailor, 
Anchor and crown or no!
Sure his ship was the ‘Jolly Briton’”— 
“Speak low, woman, speak low!” 

“And why should I speak low, sailor, 
About my own boy John? 
If I was loud as I am proud
I’d sing him over the town! 
Why should I speak low, sailor?” 
“That good ship went down.” 

“How’s my boy—my boy? 
What care I for the ship, sailor?
I was never aboard her. 
Be she afloat or be she aground, 
Sinking or swimming, I’ll be bound, 
Her owners can afford her! 
I say, how’s my John?”
“Every man on board went down, 
Every man aboard her.” 

“How’s my boy—my boy? 
What care I for the men, sailor? 
I’m not their mother—
How’s my boy—my boy? 
Tell me of him and no other! 
How ’s my boy—my boy?”

~ Sydney Dobell

Monday, October 9, 2017

Cradle Song


[From the German]

Sleep, baby, sleep!
Thy father's watching the sheep,
Thy mother's shaking the dreamland tree,
And down drops a little dream for thee.
Sleep, baby sleep!

Sleep, baby, sleep!
The large stars are the sheep,
The little stars are lambs, I guess,
The bright moon is the shepherdess.
Sleep, baby, sleep!

Sleep, baby, sleep!
And cry not like the sheep,
Else the sheep-dog will bark and whine,,
And bite his naughty child of mine.
Sleep, baby, sleep!

Sleep, baby, sleep!
The Saviour loves His sheep,
He is the Lamb of God on high,
Who for our sakes came down to die,
Sleep, baby, sleep!

Sleep, baby, sleep!
Away to tend the sheep,
Away, thou sheep-dog fierce and wild,
And do not harm my sleeping child!
Sleep, baby, sleep!

~ Elizabeth Prentiss

Friday, October 6, 2017

The Sugar-Plum Tree


Have you ever heard of the Sugar-Plum Tree?
‘Tis a marvel of great renown!
It blooms on the shore of the Lollypop sea
In the garden of Shut-Eye Town;
The fruit that it bears is so wondrously sweet
(As those who have tasted it say)
That good little children have only to eat
Of that fruit to be happy next day.

When you’ve got to the tree, you would have a hard time
To capture the fruit which I sing;
The tree is so tall that no person could climb
To the boughs where the sugar-plums swing!
But up in that tree sits a chocolate cat,
And a gingerbread dog prowls below -
And this is the way you contrive to get at
Those sugar-plums tempting you so:

You say but the word to that gingerbread dog
And he barks with such terrible zest
That the chocolate cat is at once all agog,
As her swelling proportions attest.
And the chocolate cat goes cavorting around
From this leafy limb unto that,
And the sugar-plums tumble, of course, to the ground -
Hurrah for that chocolate cat!

There are marshmallows, gumdrops, and peppermint canes,
With stripings of scarlet or gold,
And you carry away of the treasure that rains,
As much as your apron can hold!
So come, little child, cuddle closer to me
In your dainty white nightcap and gown,
And I’ll rock you away to that Sugar-Plum Tree
In the garden of Shut-Eye Town.

~ Eugene Field

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Children


Monday's child is fair of face,
Tuesday's child is full of grace, 
Wednesday's child is full of woe, 
Thursday's child has far to go, 
Friday's child is loving and giving,
Saturday's child works hard for his living, 
And the child that is born on the Sabbath day 
Is bonny and blithe and good and gay.

~ Anonymous

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

The Children's Hour


Between the dark and the daylight, 
When the night is beginning to lower, 
Comes a pause in the day's occupations, 
That is known as the Children's Hour. 

I hear in the chamber above me 
The patter of little feet, 
The sound of a door that is opened, 
And voices soft and sweet. 

From my study I see in the lamplight, 
Descending the broad hall stair, 
Grave Alice, and laughing Allegra, 
And Edith with golden hair. 

A whisper, and then a silence: 
Yet I know by their merry eyes 
They are plotting and planning together 
To take me by surprise. 

A sudden rush from the stairway, 
A sudden raid from the hall! 
By three doors left unguarded 
They enter my castle wall! 

They climb up into my turret 
O'er the arms and back of my chair; 
If I try to escape, they surround me; 
They seem to be everywhere. 

They almost devour me with kisses, 
Their arms about me entwine, 
Till I think of the Bishop of Bingen 
In his Mouse-Tower on the Rhine! 

Do you think, O blue-eyed banditti, 
Because you have scaled the wall, 
Such an old mustache as I am 
Is not a match for you all! 

I have you fast in my fortress, 
And will not let you depart, 
But put you down into the dungeon 
In the round-tower of my heart. 

And there will I keep you forever, 
Yes, forever and a day, 
Till the walls shall crumble to ruin, 
And moulder in dust away! 

~ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

A Visit from Saint Nicholas


'Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house 
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse; 
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care, 
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there; 
The children were nestled all snug in their beds; 
While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads; 
And mamma in her 'kerchief, and I in my cap, 
Had just settled our brains for a long winter's nap, 
When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter, 
I sprang from my bed to see what was the matter. 
Away to the window I flew like a flash, 
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash. 
The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow, 
Gave a lustre of midday to objects below, 
When what to my wondering eyes did appear, 
But a miniature sleigh and eight tiny rein-deer, 
With a little old driver so lively and quick, 
I knew in a moment he must be St. Nick. 
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came, 
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name: 
"Now, Dasher! now, Dancer! now Prancer and Vixen! 
On, Comet! on, Cupid! on, Donner and Blitzen! 
To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall! 
Now dash away! dash away! dash away all!" 
As leaves that before the wild hurricane fly, 
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky; 
So up to the housetop the coursers they flew 
With the sleigh full of toys, and St. Nicholas too— 
And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof 
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof. 
As I drew in my head, and was turning around, 
Down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound. 
He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot, 
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot; 
A bundle of toys he had flung on his back, 
And he looked like a pedler just opening his pack. 
His eyes—how they twinkled! his dimples, how merry! 
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry! 
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow, 
And the beard on his chin was as white as the snow; 
The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth, 
And the smoke, it encircled his head like a wreath; 
He had a broad face and a little round belly 
That shook when he laughed, like a bowl full of jelly. 
He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf, 
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself; 
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head 
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread; 
He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work, 
And filled all the stockings; then turned with a jerk, 
And laying his finger aside of his nose, 
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose; 
He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle, 
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle. 
But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight— 
“Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night!”

~ Clement Moore

Monday, October 2, 2017

Mother o' Mine


If I were hanged on the highest hill, 
Mother o’ mine, O mother o’ mine!
I know whose love would follow me still, 
Mother o’ mine, O mother o’ mine!
If I were drowned in the deepest sea, 
Mother o’ mine, O mother o’ mine!
I know whose tears would come down to me, 
Mother o’ mine, O mother o’ mine!
If I were damned of body and soul, 
I know whose prayers would make me whole, 
Mother o’ mine, O mother o’ mine!

~ Rudyard Kipling