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NPR ran a story this morning about a poem written in 1773, supposedly by a young lab assistant who was moved by the plight of the next mornings test subject. Anna Barbauld wrote a poem from the point of view of the lab mouse who was slated for experimentation, and left in the bars of his cage where it could be found the next morning.

NPR story here: Early Animal Rights Poem Discovered: A Mouse's Plea (with super-cute, heart wrenching illustrations - you have been warned)

Full text of the poem here: The Mouse's Petition: Found in the trap where he had been confined all night by Dr. Priestley, for the sake of making experiments with different kinds of air.

Plus, another discussion of the apocryphal origins of the poem: Discussion

And, finally, excerpts from same, for those of you with no time or inclination to click links:

O hear a pensive prisoner's prayer,
For liberty that sighs;
And never let thine heart be shut
Against the wretch's cries!

For here forlorn and sad I sit,
Within the wiry grate;
And tremble at the' approaching morn,
Which brings impending fate.


The cheerful light, the vital air,
Are blessings widely given;
Let Nature's commoners enjoy
The common gifts of Heaven.

The well-taught philosophic mind
To all compassion gives;
Casts round the world an equal eye,
And feels for all that lives...

Sadly, the mouse's fate is unknown.
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So, the last day of National Poetry Month is upon us. In its honor, I leave you with two poems that are good for the end of some things and the beginning of others.

The Search
Shel Silverstein, (Where the Sidewalk Ends)

I went to find the pot of gold
That’s waiting where the rainbow ends.
I searched and searched and searched and searched.
And searched, and searched, and then
There it was, deep in the grass,
Under an old and twisty bough.
It’s mine, it’s mine, it’s mine at last…
What do I search for now?

The Road Not Taken
Robert Frost

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I--
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
lhskarka: (Default)
I like this - it's all nice and flowery, yet written by a modern poet.

Time forbids the full reflection of my love,
Loves moment, by another thousand locked away,
Away from now and me and mirror mind,
Mindful of decisions yet to make.

Made by past, unwitting willing slave
Slave to needs and wants, and to today.
Today is glory, flesh and fantasies, and blind.
Blind to future full of promise, and mistake.

Mistakes are life, and thoughts are good at grave
Graven now as past sometime, becomes dismay.
May as well be settled and refined,
Defined by every moment we partake.

Thomas Davies
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Really, it's very difficult for me to choose a single favorite verse from Shakepseare's work, and even as of today I had narrowed it down to two. So I took the easy way out and chose the shorter of the two to post, but here's a link to the runner-up, Queen Mab.

And the winner!

Sonnet XXIX
William Shakespeare

When in disgrace with fortune and men's eyes
I all alone beweep my outcast state,
And trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries,
And look upon myself, and curse my fate,
Wishing me like to one more rich in hope,
Featured like him, like him with friends possessed,
Desiring this man's art, and that man's scope,
With what I most enjoy contented least;
Yet in these thoughts my self almost despising,
Haply I think on thee, and then my state,
Like to the lark at break of day arising
From sullen earth, sings hymns at heaven's gate;
For thy sweet love remembered such wealth brings
That then I scorn to change my state with kings.

(In case you were wondering, yes, this one sounds like Ron Perlman, too.)

More sonnets here.
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Byron's poetry is not always as interesting to read as his life is to read about, though I have done both on occasion. I tend to prefer his shorter works, like the one below. Which, because I was a geek in the 80s, I hear in my head as read by Ron Perlman.

I also get some mild amusement from the fact that a large percentage of the female costumers I've known (myself included) have at some point expressed a desire to create a dress inspired by this poem, and Byron was, at least in part, inspired by a dress - on a beautiful woman, of course - when he wrote it.

She Walks in Beauty
George Gordon Byron

She walks in beauty, like the night
Of cloudless climes and starry skies;
And all that's best of dark and bright
Meet in her aspect and her eyes:
Thus mellowed to that tender light
Which heaven to gaudy day denies.

One shade the more, one ray the less,
Had half impaired the nameless grace
Which waves in every raven tress,
Or softly lightens o'er her face;
Where thoughts serenely sweet express
How pure, how dear their dwelling place.

And on that cheek, and o'er that brow,
So soft, so calm, yet eloquent,
The smiles that win, the tints that glow,
But tell of days in goodness spent,
A mind at peace with all below,
A heart whose love is innocent!
lhskarka: (Default)
I like Keats a lot - possibly more than either Byron or Shelley. Largely due to his subject matter. I mean really, what's not to love about a young romantic who likes to write about Greek myths and Arthurian legend? Not to mention the fact that cold-hearted women everywhere should thank him for leaving them with such a classy nickname. ;)

La Belle Dame Sans Merci
John Keats (1795-1821)

Ah, what can ail thee, wretched wight,
Alone and palely loitering;
The sedge is wither'd from the lake,
And no birds sing.

Ah, what can ail thee, wretched wight,
So haggard and so woe-begone?
The squirrel's granary is full,
And the harvest's done.

I see a lily on thy brow,
With anguish moist and fever dew;
And on thy cheek a fading rose
Fast withereth too.

I met a lady in the meads
Full beautiful, a faery's child;
Her hair was long, her foot was light,
And her eyes were wild.

I set her on my pacing steed,
And nothing else saw all day long;
For sideways would she lean, and sing
A faery's song.

I made a garland for her head,
And bracelets too, and fragrant zone;
She look'd at me as she did love,
And made sweet moan.

She found me roots of relish sweet,
And honey wild, and manna dew;
And sure in language strange she said,
I love thee true.

She took me to her elfin grot,
And there she gaz'd and sighed deep,
And there I shut her wild sad eyes--
So kiss'd to sleep.

And there we slumber'd on the moss,
And there I dream'd, ah woe betide,
The latest dream I ever dream'd
On the cold hill side.

I saw pale kings, and princes too,
Pale warriors, death-pale were they all;
Who cry'd--"La belle Dame sans merci
Hath thee in thrall!"

I saw their starv'd lips in the gloam
With horrid warning gaped wide,
And I awoke, and found me here
On the cold hill side.

And this is why I sojourn here
Alone and palely loitering,
Though the sedge is wither'd from the lake,
And no birds sing.
lhskarka: (Default)
This one is my favorite. Like many, it was written by "Anonymous". Unlike many, it's actually clean.

I wish that my room had a floor.
I don't care so much for a door.
But this walking around,
without touching the ground,
Is getting to be quite a bore.
lhskarka: (Default)
Lo, these many years ago, when I was a mere slip of a college student working at the campus library, I worked at the Reserve desk. Reserve articles in those days were not available on-line, but were instead kept in physical form behind a desk, and students would have to come in and check them out.

Once, when I was busy re-shelving a few articles, I heard two students approaching the desk, one telling the other what he had to pick up there. I happened to be holding that particular article in my hand. As they reached the desk, I walked out of our shelving area and handed the student his copy, saying "You need this."

He looked at it, his eyes widened a bit, and he said "I do need this! How did you know?".

"I'm omniscient", Sez I, feeling clever, "Ask me anything."

"Okay, then who wrote Ozymandias?" he asked.

Of course I knew the answer. They left impressed. ;)

Percy Bysshe Shelley

I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them on the sand,
Half sunk, a shatter'd visage lies, whose frown
And wrinkled lip and sneer of cold command
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamp'd on these lifeless things,
The hand that mock'd them and the heart that fed.
And on the pedestal these words appear:
"My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!"
Nothing beside remains: round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,
The lone and level sands stretch far away.

This memory brought to you by the fact that I have apparently managed to work for the University for five years now without really noticing it, and they want to recognize me officially. I haven't decided if I should be more disturbed or pleased by this development...I wonder if they set the pins after they're awarded?
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Okay, more lyrics today, which are, after all, poetry for music. You can blame [livejournal.com profile] wyckedgood and her icon-contest for this one - Today's answer was Twin Peaks themed, and now I can't get Julee Cruises voice out of my head. So I'm putting her in yours.

Into the Night
Angelo Badalamenti and David Lynch

now it's dark

into the night
i cry out
i cry out your name
into the night
i search out
i search out your love

night so dark
where are you?
come back in my heart
so dark
so dark

into the night
shadows fall
shadows fall so blue
i cry out
i cry out for you

night so dark
where are you
come back in my heart
so dark
so dark
so dark
lhskarka: (Default)
I was introduced to this by my early love of Agatha Christie novels. She used the final stanza quoted here for the title of one of her mysteries. I don't think that it's considered one of her best, but at the time that I read it I remember being completely surprised by the twist-ending, and it remains one of my favorites.

"To See a World..."
William Blake (Fragments from "Auguries of Innocence")

To see a World in a Grain of Sand
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower,
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an hour.

A Robin Redbreast in a Cage
Puts all Heaven in a Rage.
A dove house fill’d with doves and pigeons
Shudders Hell thro’ all its regions.
A Dog starv’d at his Master’s Gate
Predicts the ruin of the State.
A Horse misus’d upon the Road
Calls to Heaven for Human blood.
Each outcry of the hunted Hare
A fiber from the Brain does tear.

He who shall train the Horse to War
Shall never pass the Polar Bar.
The Beggar’s Dog and Widow’s Cat,
Feed them and thou wilt grow fat.
The Gnat that sings his Summer song
Poison gets from Slander’s tongue.
The poison of the Snake and Newt
Is the sweat of Envy’s Foot.

A truth that’s told with bad intent
Beats all the Lies you can invent.
It is right it should be so;
Man was made for Joy and Woe;
And when this we rightly know
Thro’ the World we safely go.

Every Night and every Morn
Some to Misery are Born.
Every Morn and every Night
Some are Born to sweet delight.
Some are Born to sweet delight,
Some are Born to Endless Night.
lhskarka: (Default)
Fun for a Friday. Yes, it's another of Hilare Belloc's works - I said 30 poems, not 30 poets after all. I keep meaning to print out my favorites of these and frame them for my house, posted in "dangerous" places like the stairs and next to the bathtub. :) Maybe next to my Gashly Crumb Tinies poster.

Rebecca (Who Slammed Doors For Fun And Perished Miserably)
from “Cautionary Tales for Children”, by Hilare Belloc

A trick that everyone abhors
In little girls is slamming doors.
A wealthy banker's little daughter
Who lived in Palace Green, Bayswater
(By name Rebecca Offendort),
Was given to this furious sport.

She would deliberately go
And slam the door like billy-o!
To make her uncle Jacob start.
She was not really bad at heart,
But only rather rude and wild;
She was an aggravating child...

It happened that a marble bust
Of Abraham was standing just
Above the door this little lamb
Had carefully prepared to slam,
And down it came! It knocked her flat!
It laid her out! She looked like that.
My note: there's usually a picture inserted here of a flattened little girl, but I couldn't find the illustration on-line.

Her funeral sermon (which was long
And followed by a sacred song)
Mentioned her virtues, it is true,
But dwelt upon her vices too,
And showed the deadful end of one
Who goes and slams the door for fun.

The children who were brought to hear
The awful tale from far and near
Were much impressed, and inly swore
They never more would slam the door,
-- As often they had done before.
lhskarka: (Default)
By Shel Silverstein

And here we see the invisible boy
In his lovely invisible house
Feeding a piece of invisible cheese
To a little invisible mouse.
Oh, what a beautiful picture to see!
Will you draw an invisible picture for me?

And in a slightly creepier vein, one that [livejournal.com profile] corone reminded me about:

"As I was going down the stairs,
I met a man who wasn't there.
He wasn't there again today,
I wish, I wish, he'd go away."

I don't know who wrote the second one - if you do, feel free to drop a comment.
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T.S. Eliot wrote many amusing poems about cats, and I like those. He did however, also write some darker things - like this.

The Hollow Men
T. S. Eliot (1925)

We are the hollow men
We are the stuffed men
Leaning together
Headpiece filled with straw. Alas!
Our dried voices, when
We whisper together
Are quiet and meaningless
As wind in dry grass
Or rats' feet over broken glass
In our dry cellar
Shape without form, shade without colour,
Paralysed force, gesture without motion;
Those who have crossed
With direct eyes, to death's other Kingdom
Remember us -- if at all -- not as lost
Violent souls, but only
As the hollow men
The stuffed men.
II )
lhskarka: (Default)
Yosa Buson (1716 ~ 1783)

that snail—
one long horn, one short
what's on his mind?

Darting here and there,
the bat is exploring
the moonlit plum

More of Buson's works here.

And one by Kobayashi Issa

Don't worry,
spiders; I keep house

Which I really think I need to frame and hang by our front door, since it's pretty apt. More about Issa and his works here.
lhskarka: (Default)
Yes, I totally skipped posting over the weekend again! Because I was doing other things.

Anyway, today it is still stormy and blustery outside, so you get highwayman poetry. Yes, it makes sense. Look!

The Highwayman
Alfred Noyes

The wind was a torrent of darkness among the gusty trees,
The moon was a ghostly galleon tossed upon cloudy seas,
The road was a ribbon of moonlight over the purple moor,
And the highwayman came riding--
The highwayman came riding, up to the old inn-door.

He'd a French cocked-hat on his forehead, a bunch of lace at his chin, )

I can probably blame The Highwayman, at least in part, for my later love of literary rogues of all stripes...and really tall boots. ;)

Bonus poem:
I was given the previously mentioned "Child's Garden of Verses" around the same time that I was introduced to "The Highwayman", and at the time I thought that this Stevenson poem...

Windy Nights
Whenever the moon and stars are set,
Whenever the wind is high,
All night long in the dark and wet,
A man goes riding by.
Late in the night when the fires are out,
Why does he gallop and gallop about?

Whenever the trees are crying aloud,
And ships are tossed at sea,
By, on the highway, low and loud,
By at the gallop goes he.
By at the gallop he goes, and then
By he comes back at the gallop again.

...sounded very much in the same vein as Noyes' verse. It didn't hurt that the record set this one to really exciting music! Now however, I can't read it without thinking that it sounds a bit like the traditional old-man lament, "Damn kids, get off my lawn!"

lhskarka: (Default)
Yesterday, fog. Today, rain.

Dorothy Parker may just be the perfect poet for both moody teenage girls and snarky mature women. This poem is for the former – and because it’s raining. It was one of my early favorites from Ms. Parker, largely due to the third stanza.

Rainy Night

Ghosts of all my lovely sins,
Who attend too well my pillow,
Gay the wanton rain begins;
Hide the limp and tearful willow,

Turn aside your eyes and ears,
Trail away your robes of sorrow.
You shall have my further years, -
You shall walk with me tomorrow.

I am sister to the rain;
Fey and sudden and unholy,
Petulant at the window pane,
Quickly lost, remembered slowly.

I have lived with shades, a shade;
I am hung with graveyard flowers.
Let me be tonight arrayed
In the silver of the showers.

Every fragile thing shall rust;
When another April passes
I may be a furry dust,
Sifting through the brittle grasses.

All sweet sins shall be forgot
Who will live to tell their siring?
Hear me now, nor let me rot
Wistful still, and still aspiring.

Ghosts of dear temptations, heed;
I am frail, be you forgiving.
See you not that I have need
To be living with the living?

Sail tonight, the Styx’s breast;
Glide among the dim processions
Of the exquisite unblest.
Spirits of my shared transgressions.

Roam with young Persephone,
Plucking poppies for you slumber…
With the morrow, there shall be
One more wraith among your number.
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I know I've posted this before, but it's short and it's sweet and I appreciate it for perfectly capturing this scene with just a few words.

The Fog

By Carl Sandburg

The fog comes
on little cat feet.

It sits looking
over harbor and city
on silent haunches
and then moves on.
lhskarka: (Default)
Quite a while ago, when I was only little, I was given an album version of "A Child's Garden of Verses" by Robert Louis Stevenson. It featured selected poems from the book set to music and sung by a folk group whose name I cannot currently recall. Consequently, whenever I think of these poems, I hear them as I first learned them, as songs. This one used to bore me as a child, as they set it to a very slow, dreamy sort of tune, but over the years it's grown on me.

Where Go the Boats?

Dark brown is the river,
Golden is the sand.
It flows along for ever,
With trees on either hand.

Green leaves a-floating,
Castles of the foam,
Boats of mine a-boating--
Where will all come home?

On goes the river
And out past the mill,
Away down the valley,
Away down the hill.

Away down the river,
A hundred miles or more,
Other little children
Shall bring my boats ashore.
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I declare today local poet appreciation day. With the poets permission, here's one of my favorites.

Patting Myself Down
Tom Davies

Where have I gone?
I think I left a note,
Top edge torn
As if in haste,
Hurrying out on some errand
Forgetting my keys

The handwriting is familiar,
Almost comforting…

A memory of a warm
Summer childhood day
Filled with long strong daydreams
About an altogether different past,
Past of dreams, stained glass dreams
Car window dream
Green and gold and endless blue
And soft white malleable at a thought
And all mine
And dancing through
That veil so close to my eyes
And starlight from passing cars
And streetlights, pulled into ten thousand points
By wet windows and eyelashes
A mist of light, and no horizon
But a sphere of stars
Cradled against a vinyl padded universe
Dreaming away myself

But I’m still not able to read this note.
It was left it in a code I thought I could read
A daydream code from an old world
Almost effable
Turned to hatches by time.
Nothing but a reminder of an old life,
An incident.
lhskarka: (Default)
Since I forgot to post over the weekend, we'll go with some really lengthy pieces to make up the word count, or something...

Anyway, the following poem is one of the first that I ever memorized, from the poet's work "Cautionary Tales for Children". Compared to some of the others from this series, such as "Mathilda, who told lies and was burned to death", George seems to have gotten off easy. Enjoy.

Who played with a Dangerous Toy, and suffered a Catastrophe of considerable Dimensions

By Hilaire Belloc

When George's Grandmamma was told
That George had been as good as gold,
She promised in the afternoon
To buy him an Immense BALLOON.
And so she did; but when it came,
It got into the candle flame,
And being of a dangerous sort
Exploded with a loud report!
The lights went out! The windows broke!
The room was filled with reeking smoke.
And in the darkness shrieks and yells
Were mingled with electric bells,
And falling masonry and groans,
And crunching, as of broken bones,
And dreadful shrieks, when, worst of all,
The house itself began to fall!
It tottered, shuddering to and fro,
Then crashed into the street below-
Which happened to be Savile Row.

When help arrived, among the dead
Were Cousin Mary, Little Fred,
The Footmen (both of them), the Groom,
The man that cleaned the Billiard-Room,
The Chaplain, and the Still-Room Maid.
And I am dreadfully afraid
That Monsieur Champignon, the Chef,
Will now be permanently deaf-
And both his aides are much the same;
While George, who was in part to blame,
Received, you will regret to hear,
A nasty lump behind the ear.

The moral is that little boys
Should not be given dangerous toys.


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