Monday, 21 February 2011


Karl Spitzweg
The Nightwatchman fallen asleep

As soon as you wake they come blundering in
Like puppies or importunate children;
What was landscape emerging from mist
Becomes at once a disordered garden.

And the mess they trail with them! Embarrassments,
Anger, lust, fear - in fact the whole pig-pen;
And who'll clean it up? No hope for sleep now -
Just heave yourself out, make the tea and give in.

Dick Davis

Thursday, 17 February 2011


Funeral Cortege of Victor Hugo

What is the end of all things - life or grave?
Is it the upholding, or the whelming, wave?
So many tangled tracks whose distant goal
Is what? The cradle holds - fate or man's soul?
Are we below, in blest or wretched state,
Predestined kings, or pawns foredoomed of fate?
Didst Thou, oh God, Lord Almighty, say,
Create man but to tread his destined way?
Say, does the crib the cross already hold?
These silken nests, touched by cool dawn with gold,
Where amid flowers budding plumes expand,
Were they for small fowls or for fowlers planned?

Victor Hugo
translated from the French by R.J.P. Hewison

Sunday, 13 February 2011


Drink to me only with thine eyes,
     And I will pledge with mine;
Or leave a kiss within the cup
     And I'll not ask for wine.
The thirst that from the soul doth rise
     Doth ask a drink divine;
But might I of Jove's nectar sup,
     I would not change for thine.

I sent thee late a rosy wreath,
     Not so much honouring thee
As giving it a hope that there
     It could not withered be;
But thou thereon didst only breathe,
     And sent'st it back to me;
Since when it grows, and smells, I swear,
     Not of itself but thee!

Song   To Celia
Ben Jonson

Wednesday, 9 February 2011


William Blake - The Ancient Of Days

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.
A skylark wounded in the wing,
A cherubim does cease to sing.

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;

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.  

William Blake

All 128 lines of this poem constitute a great manifesto of eco-philosophy two hundred years ahead of its time. Central to 'Auguries'  is Blake's lifelong struggle against the artificial division between the head and the heart, the sciences and the art.

Saturday, 5 February 2011


This World is not Conclusion.
A Species stands beyond --
Invisible, as Music --
But positive, as Sound --
It beckons, and it baffles --
Philosophy -- don't know --
And through a Riddle, at the last --
Sagacity, must go --
To guess it, puzzles scholars --
To gain it, Men have borne
Contempt of Generations
And Crucifixion, shown --
Faith slips -- and laughs, and rallies --
Blushes, if any see --
Plucks at a twig of Evidence --
And asks a Vane, the way --
Much Gesture, from the Pulpit --
Strong Hallelujahs roll --
Narcotics cannot still the Tooth
That nibbles at the soul --

Emily Dickinson

Dickinson described her art with typical, striking economy:

"If I read a book and  it makes my whole body so cold I know no fire can ever warm me, I know that is poetry. If I feel physically as if the top of my head were taken off, I know that is poetry. These are the only ways I know it. Is there any other way?"