Saturday, April 18, 2015

Horace at your back viii: footholds

We mark an anniversary of
our earthquake, yours and
mine; one never hears the
San Franciscan say, You
couldn't understand it.
Rather, he believes we
do. He is, himself, a
constant, continuing mi-
grant toward settlement.

    What did you think of Chios,
    Bullatius, or of famous Les-
    bos, how did elegant Samos
    strike you, or Sardis, royal
    seat of Croesus, or Smyrna
    and Colophon, are they super-
    ior or inferior to their rep-

    And you, my friend, accept
    with grateful hand whatever
    hour the god has blessed you
    with, and do not put off plea-
    sures to some unknown time, so
    that you may say .. you have
    lived happily; for if it is
    reason and forethought that
    take away our cares, not a
    site that commands a wide
    sweep of ocean, it is their
    climate, not their mind, that
    men change when they rush a-
    cross the sea.

20 BC
John Davie
Satires and Epistles
  Epistles I, 11
op. cit.

April 18, 1906

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Let's look into agony

My feeling, I must tell you,
is probably very much like
yours, when I run into a suf-
ferer, en passant. 

    "Oh, yeah, well, I know your
    complaint, but did they never
    tell you about language, grow-
    ing up?"

    "I mean, you know, the drug,
    the cheap posture, the grub-
    by garbage clothes to punish
    your father: didn't they let
    you know poetry, your voice,
    could lift all this away?"

    But it never fails, you know,
    much as we'd never want it to,
    that something intervenes, to
    amount to perfect sense.

    And we don't get a poet, but
    we get what we bargained for.
    They notoriously never come
    when we call, anyway, so we
    say, we came out of this OK.

    I, for my part, don't
    believe a word of this.
    It's just a guy thing,
    as we observe in Don
    Alfonso, to cover his
    bets with cynicism. In
    fact we do get a poem,
    every now and again.

T.S. Eliot
1888 - 1965

Hunting life

Another day he spots what he
supposes to be a wood pigeon
but 'the possibility of its
being an immature male Pere-
grine flashed across my mind'.

'Presumably,' 'possibility':
wish fulfillment is at work
here: the beginnings of a 
longing for the peregrine so
keen that it caused - in the
blurry distance of his far-
sight - dove to morph into
falcon, pigeon to pass into
peregrine. From the start,
the predatory nature of the
falcons, their decisive speed,
their awesome vision and their
subtle killings all thrilled
him. He was enraptured ..

Robert Macfarlane
  5 : Hunting Life
Hamish Hamilton, 2015©

Valéry Lorenzo
Les augures

Lukas Hoffmann

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Breakers ii

It was only a small place and they had cheered us too much,
A couple of allies, chance symbol of Freedom new-found,
They were eager to beckon, to back-slap, even to touch;
They put flowers in my helmet and corn-coloured wine in my hand.

The boy from Dakota and I, we had suffered too litle
To deserve all the flowers, the kisses, the wine and the thanks.
We both felt ashamed; till the kettledrum clangour of metal
On cobble and kerbstone proclaimed the arrival of tanks.

Who saw them first, the exiles returning, the fighters,
The Croix de Lorraine and the Tricouleur flown from the hull?
Who saw us moving more fitly to join the spectators,
The crazy, the crying, the silent whose hearts were full?

It was only a small place, but a bugle was blowing.
I remember the Mayor performing an intricate dance
And the boy from Dakota most gravely, most quietly, throwing
The flowers from his helmet toward the deserving of France.

Paul Dehn
1912 - 1976
St Aubin d'Aubigné

Jon Stallworthy
The New Oxford Book
  of War Poetry
Oxford University Press, 1984
Revised, 2014©

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

The single cloak

Stay put where I hung you
  above the door, my garlands.
  Don't hurry to shake your petals,
  watered by my tears.
Lovers' eyes rain easily. But when
  you see him open the door,
  let my rain drip on his head;
  that way at least
his blond hair will drink my tears.

 Sweet for the thirsty
 is a drink of snow in summer,
 and sweet for sailors to run before
 spring breezes at winter's end
 But sweeter still is the single cloak
 that hides two lovers as they honor

 Drink. Asclepiades. Tears? What's
   the problem?
   You're hardly the only one
   Aphrodite plundered,
 Hardly the only one piercing Eros
   sighted with his sharpened
   bow and arrows. Still, alive
   why make your bed on ashes?

Let's drink what Bacchus
  offers undiluted. Day-
  light's a finger's
    distance away.
  Why wait for the lamp
  that signals a night's
Let's drink, sad lover. 
  Not far down the road,
  poor soul,
  we'll have an endless
  night to rest.

Asclepiades of Samos
ca 300 - 270 BC
i, iii-iv  Edmund Keeley
ii  Bradley P. Nystrom
The Greek Poets
  Homer to the Present
op. cit.