Cousin Kate

Cousin Kate

I was a cottage maiden
Hardened by sun and air
Contented with my cottage mates,
Not mindful I was fair.
Why did a great lord find me out,
And praise my flaxen hair?
Why did a great lord find me out,
To fill my heart with care?

He lured me to his palace home –
Woe’s me for joy thereof-
To lead a shameless shameful life,
His plaything and his love.
He wore me like a silken knot,
He changed me like a glove;
So now I moan, an unclean thing,
Who might have been a dove.

O Lady kate, my cousin Kate,
You grew more fair than I:
He saw you at your father’s gate,
Chose you, and cast me by.
He watched your steps along the lane,
Your work among the rye;
He lifted you from mean estate
To sit with him on high.

Because you were so good and pure
He bound you with his ring:
The neighbors call you good and pure,
Call me an outcast thing.
Even so I sit and howl in dust,
You sit in gold and sing:
Now which of us has tenderer heart?
You had the stronger wing.

O cousin Kate, my love was true,
Your love was writ in sand:
If he had fooled not me but you,
If you stood where I stand,
He’d not have won me with his love
Nor bought me with his land;
I would have spit into his face
And not have taken his hand.

Yet I’ve a gift you have not got,
And seem not like to get:
For all your clothes and wedding-ring
I’ve little doubt you fret.
My fair-haired son, my shame, my pride,
Cling closer, closer yet:
Your father would give his lands for one
To wear his coronet.

Christina Georgina Rossetti
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The Power of the Dog

Another by Kipling.

The Power of the Dog

There is sorrow enough in the natural way
From men and women to fill our day;
And when we are certain of sorrow in store,
Why do we always arrange for more?
Brothers and Sisters, I bid you beware
Of giving your heart to a dog to tear.

Buy a pup and your money will buy
Love unflinching that cannot lie —
Perfect passion and worship fed
By a kick in the ribs or a pat on the head.
Nevertheless it is hardly fair
To risk your heart for a dog to tear.

When the fourteen years which Nature permits
Are closing in asthma, or tumour, or fits,
And the vet’s unspoken prescription runs
To lethal chambers or loaded guns,
Then you will find — it’s your own affair —
But . . . you’ve given your heart to a dog to tear.

When the body that lived at your single will,
With its whimper of welcome, is stilled (how still!)
When the spirit hat answered your every mood
Is gone — wherever it goes — for good,
You will discover how much you care,
And will give your heart to a dog to tear.

We’ve sorrow enough in the natural way,
When it comes to burying Christian clay.
Our loves are not given, but only lent,
At compound interest of cent per cent.
Though it is not always the case, I believe,
That the longer we’ve kept’em, the more do we grieve;

For, when debts are payable, right or wrong,
A short-time loan is as bad as a long —
So why in — Heaven (before we are there)
Should we give our hearts to a dog to tear?

Rudyard Kipling

Awake, My Soul

Awake, my soul

Awake, my soul, and with the sun
Thy daily stage of duty run;
Shake off dull sloth, and joyful rise
To pay thy morning sacrifice.

Thy precious time mispent, redeem,
Each present day thy last esteem ;
Improve thy talent with due care,
For the great day thyself prepare.

In conversation be sincere,
Keep conscience as the noon-tide clear :
Think how all-seing God thy ways
And all thy secret thoughts surveys.

By influence of the light divine,
Let thy own light to others shine,
Reflect all heaven’s propitious rays,
In ardent love, and cheerful praise.

Wake, and lift up thyself, my heart,
And with the angels bear thy part,
Who all night long unwearied sing
High praise to the eternal King.

I wake, I wake; ye heavenly choir,
May your devotion me inspire,
That I like you my age may spend,
Like you may on my God attend.

May I like you in God delight,
Have all day long my God in sight,
Perform like you my Maker’s will,
O may I never more do ill.

Had I your Wings, to Heaven I’d fly,
But God shall that defect supply,
And my Soul wing’d with warm desire,
Shall all day long to Heav’n aspire.

All praise to Thee who safe hast kept,
And hast refresh’d me whilst I slept.
Grant Lord, when I from death shall wake,
I may of endless Light partake.

I would not wake, nor rise again,
And Heav’n itself I would disdain ;
Were’t not Thou there to be enjoy’d,
And I in Hymns to be employ’d.

Heav’n is, dear Lord, where e’er Thou art,
O never then from me depart ;
For to my Soul, ’tis Hell to be,
But for one moment void of Thee.

Lord, I my vows to Thee renew,
Disperse my sins as Morning dew,
Guard my first springs of Thought and Will,
And with Thy self my Spirit fill.

Direct, controul, suggest, this day,
All I design, or do, or say,
That all my Powers with all their might,
In Thy sole Glory may unite.

Praise God, from whom all blessings flow,
Praise Him all Creatures here below,
Praise Him above ye Heavenly Host,
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

Thomas Ken

Moonlight Memorandum

Moonlight Memorandum

Machines are no longer
slowly combing the red earth.

There is no one left to explain
the cones in my eyes to me.

I have been given my sentence
& it is not a long one

though it does include the word
quintessential which pleases me.

Accordingly, I am no relation
to the sky but to the mechanical

dragon wrapped in tissue paper
with plastic flames poking

through. I never told you
that if I were born a suitcase

I would want a trailer
with red curtains so I could

pretend to be a lion. But being
matter-of-fact is like a meatpie in

the pocket. It is the way to go.

Matthea Harvey

I have no idea what it means, but I like it.

The Waking

A quiet poem about noise.

The Waking
I strolled across
An open field;
The sun was out;
Heat was happy.

This way! This way!
The wren’s throat shimmered,
Either to other,
The blossoms sang.

The stones sang,
The little ones did,
And flowers jumped
Like small goats.

A ragged fringe
Of daisies waved;
I wasn’t alone
In a grove of apples.

Far in the wood
A nestling sighed;
The dew loosened
Its morning smells.

I came where the river
Ran over stones:
My ears knew
An early joy.

And all the waters
Of all the streams
Sang in my veins
That summer day.

Theodore Roethke

Sussex

Restarting my regular poetry posts. I’ve been reading more single-author collections lately, so they’ll likely be less variety, and I also might try to add some commentary on individual poems from time to time.

To begin again, a poem about home, which, as Kipling notes, ought to be loved even in its unlovableness.

Sussex

God gave all men all earth to love,
But since our hearts are small,
Ordained for each one spot should prove
Belovèd over all;
That, as He watched Creation’s birth,
So we, in godlike mood,
May of our love create our earth
And see that it is good.
So one shall Baltic pines content,
As one some Surrey glade,
Or one the palm-grove’s droned lament
Before Levuka’s Trade.
Each to his choice, and I rejoice
The lot has fallen to me
In a fair ground—in a fair ground—
Yea, Sussex by the sea!

No tender-hearted garden crowns,
No bosomed woods adorn
Our blunt, bow-headed, whale-backed Downs,
But gnarled and writhen thorn—
Bare slopes where chasing shadows skim,
And, through the gaps revealed,
Belt upon belt, the wooded, dim,
Blue goodness of the Weald.

Clean of officious fence or hedge,
Half-wild and wholly tame,
The wise turf cloaks the white cliff edge
As when the Romans came.
What sign of those that fought and died
At shift of sword and sword?
The barrow and the camp abide,
The sunlight and the sward.

Here leaps ashore the full Sou’west
All heavy-winged with brine,
Here lies above the folded crest
The Channel’s leaden line;
And here the sea-fogs lap and cling,
And here, each warning each,
The sheep-bells and the ship-bells ring
Along the hidden beach.

We have no waters to delight
Our broad and brookless vales—
Only the dewpond on the height
Unfed, that never fails—
Whereby no tattered herbage tells
Which way the season flies—
Only our close-bit thyme that smells
Like dawn in Paradise.

Here through the strong and shadeless days
The tinkling silence thrills;
Or little, lost, Down churches praise
The Lord who made the hills:
But here the Old Gods guard their round,
And, in her secret heart,
The heathen kingdom Wilfrid found
Dreams, as she dwells, apart.

Though all the rest were all my share,
With equal soul I’d see
Her nine-and-thirty sisters fair,
Yet none more fair than she.
Choose ye your need from Thames to Tweed,
And I will choose instead
Such lands as lie ’twixt Rake and Rye,
Black Down and Beachy Head.

I will go out against the sun
Where the rolled scarp retires,
And the Long Man of Wilmington
Looks naked toward the shires;
And east till doubling Rother crawls
To find the fickle tide,
By dry and sea-forgotten walls,
Our ports of stranded pride.

I will go north about the shaws
And the deep ghylls that breed
Huge oaks and old, the which we hold
No more than Sussex weed;
Or south where windy Piddinghoe’s
Begilded dolphin veers
And red beside wide-bankèd Ouse
Lie down our Sussex steers.

So to the land our hearts we give
Till the sure magic strike,
And Memory, Use, and Love make live
Us and our fields alike—
That deeper than our speech and thought,
Beyond our reason’s sway,
Clay of the pit whence we were wrought
Yearns to its fellow-clay.

God gives all men all earth to love,
But since man’s heart is small,
Ordains for each one spot shall prove
Beloved over all.
Each to his choice, and I rejoice
The lot has fallen to me
In a fair ground—in a fair ground—
Yea, Sussex by the sea!

Rudyard Kipling

Final Selections from Carter’s Traditional Japanese Poetry

Kyogoku Tamekane. On “Spring Rain,” composed when he held a poem contest at his home

On an evening
set aglow with the crimson
of plum blossoms,
the willow boughs sway softly;
and the spring rain falls.

Retired Emperor Fushimi. On “wind in the pines”

To avoid getting wet
I took cover a moment
in the shade of pines–
where the rain made me listen
to the sound of the wind

Bishop Shinkei. Winter

A pitiful sight–
that smoke rising at evening
from a brushwood fire.

His charcoal sold at market,
a man heads back into the hills.

Takarai Kikaku

Stories about ancestors
spoken on a frosty night.

In fading lamplight
dead spirits are beckoned back
into the world

Same author. Summer

Evening summer–
and gazing out into it,
a woman alone.

More Selections from Carter’s Traditional Japanese Poetry

Fujiwara no Teika, “Winter Morning”

After a full year
of gazing out, one morning
I open my door–
to at thin snowfall, frozen–
the far edge of loneliness.

The Go-Kyogoku Regent and Former Chancellor Fujiwara no Yoshitsune

A cricket cries out
near my straw mattress, in the cold
of a frosty night–
as I spread my robe
to spend the night alone.

Minamoto no Sanetomo, Winter, on the topic “white”

On a white sandspit
where seagulls have come to earth
snow has been falling–
and in the clearing sky above,
the clear gleam of the moon.

Same author, “Black”

In midnight gloom
as black as leopard-flower seeds,
off beyond the clouds,
hidden behind layers of cloud–
I hear wild geese calling.

A Dream

A Dream
Charles Williams

NO more in any house can I be at peace,
Because of a house that waits, far off or near,
To-morrow or (likelier) after many a year,
Where a room and a door are that shall fulfil my fear.
For last night, dreaming, I stood in a house and saw
Softly the room door open, and one came in,
Its owner, and as round the edge his evil grin
Peep’d ere he pass’d, I knew him for visible Sin.
Unwash’d, unshaven, frowsy, abominable,
In a green greasy hat, a green greasy coat,
Loose-mouth’d, with silent tread and the smell of the goat,
He stole in, and helplessness stifled rage in my throat.
For this was he who came long since to my heart,
This was he who enter’d the house of my soul long ago;
Now he possesses imagination, and O
I shall meet him yet in some brick-built house, I know.
He shall come, he shall turn from the long parch’d street he treads
For ever, shuffling, hand rubb’d over hand unclean,
Servile yet masterful, with satiate spleen
Watching his houses, and muttering of things obscene.
He shall come to my flesh as he came last night to my dream;
Eyes shall know him as soul and insight have known;
Though all the world be there, I shall stand alone
Watching him peer and enter and find out his own.
Noisier he shall not move, nor loudlier speak,
Than the first sly motion of lewd delight in me
Long since—which then I shall know none other than he,
Now visible, aged, and filled with monstrous glee.
Therefore now in terror I enter all houses, all rooms
Enter in dread, and move among them in fear,
Watching all doors, saying softly ‘It draws more near
Daily; and here shall it be in the end—or here?’

Gipsy Queen

Gipsy Queen
John Alexander Chapman

Gipsy queen of the night, wraith of the fire-lit dark,
Glittering eyes of ice, sharp as glacier green,
Lisping falling kisses, syllabled flakes of snow,
Down on the stubble fields, over my eyes and hair;
If on my mouth one falls, it is tasteless and light and cold—
She mocks you, gipsy queen, the brown-eyed child of earth;
As berry that grew from flower, she, as grape of the vine,
Is warm and sweet for man; the wine, in herself, and cup.
Why do you haunt me then? Are you for me, not she?
Am I a leafless branch, bowed with a load of snow;
Not for warm hands to pluck, but alone in the world of cold;
Black against pale-washed sky, grey never vein’d with red?
But so the better for you, cold shape of the dark outside;
You banish’d from rose too red for ice-green eyes to see;
Chased before lambing time, ere even the snowdrops come,
Poor gipsy-wraith of the snow, but knowing your brother,
and come
To him? Then come to me. I will give you a cold, cold kiss.
My roses are dead, they too. My lips are grey. My eyes
Have neither iris nor pupil. They died, and now all is white;
White in a face of stone. Sister, cold lover, come.