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Poetic Wanderings

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The wind doth blow today, my love,

And a few small drops of rain;

I never had but one true-love,

In cold grave she was lain.


“I’ll do as much for my true-love

As any young man may;

I’ll sit and mourn all at her grave

For a twelvemonth and a day.”


The twelvemonth and a day being up,

The dead began to speak:

“Oh who sits weeping on my grave,

And will not let me sleep?”


“’'Tis I, my love, sits on your grave,

And will not let you sleep;

For I crave one kiss of your clay-cold lips,

And that is all I seek.”


“You crave one kiss of my clay-cold lips,

But my breath smells earthy strong;

If you have one kiss of my clay-cold lips,

Your time will not be long.


“’T is down in yonder garden green,

Love, where we used to walk,

The finest flower that e’re was seen

Is withered to a stalk.


“The stalk is withered dry, my love,

So will our hearts decay;

So make yourself content, my love,

Till God calls you away.”


The Unquiet Grave - anon/trad.

One of the "Child Ballads" collected by Francis James Child and published in his 10 vol work The English and Scottish Popular Ballads (1892-98)

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O! shairly ye hae seen my love
Doun whaur the waters wind:
He walks like ane wha fears nae man
And yet his e'en are kind.


O! shairly ye hae seen my love
At the turnin o' the tide;
For then he gethers in the nets
Doun be the waterside.


O! lassie I hae seen your love
At the turnin o' the tide;
And he was wi' the fisher-folk
Doun be the waterside.


The fisher-folk were at their trade
No far frae Walnut Grove;
They gether'd in their dreepin nets
And fund your ain true love.


William Soutar - 'Ballad'

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Wan white mists upon the sea,
East wind harping mournfully
All the sunken reefs along,
Wail and heart-break in its song,
But adown the placid bay
Fisher-folk keep holiday.

All the deeps beyond the bar
Call and murmur from afar,
'Plaining of a mighty woe
Where the great ships come and go,
But adown the harbor gray
Fisher-folk keep holiday.

When the cloudy heavens frown,
And the sweeping rain comes down,
Boats at anchorage must bide
In despite of time or tide;
Making merry as they may
Fisher-folk keep holiday.

Now is time for jest and song
All the idle shore along,
Now is time for wooing dear,
Maidens cannot choose but hear;
Daffing toil and care away
Fisher-folk keep holiday.

Oh, the fretted reefs may wail,
Every man has furled his sail!
Oh, the wind may moan in fear,
Every lad is with his dear!
Mirth and laughter have their way,
Fisher-folk keep holiday. 
Rain Along Shore by Lucy Maud Montgomery (author of the Anne of Green Gables books)


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Thus, thus begin the yearly rites

Are due to Pan on these bright nights;

His morn now riseth and invites

To sports, to dances, and delights:

All envious and profane, away.

This is the shepherds' holyday.


Strew, strew the glad and smiling ground

With every flower, yet not confound:

The primrose drop, the spring's own spouse.

Bright day's-eyes and the lips of cows;

The garden-star, the queen of May,

The rose, to crown the holyday.


Drop, drop, you violets; change your hues

Now red, now pale, as lovers use;

And in your death go out as well

As when you lived unto the smell:

That from your odour all may say,

This is the shepherds' holyday.


Ben Jonson - 'The Shepherds' Holyday'

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Here are just the first and last stanza of each of the three sections of this sad Victorian story


You must wake and call me early, call me early, mother dear;

To-morrow ’ll be the happiest time of all the glad new-year,—

Of all the glad new-year, mother, the maddest, merriest day;

For I ’m to be Queen o’ the May, mother, I ’m to be Queen o’ the May.


So you must wake and call me early, call me early, mother dear;

To-morrow ’ll be the happiest time of all the glad new-year;

To-morrow ’ll be of all the year the maddest, merriest day,

For I ’m to be Queen o’ the May, mother, I ’m to be Queen o’ the May.




If you ’re waking, call me early, call me early, mother dear,

For I would see the sun rise upon the glad new-year.

It is the last new-year that I shall ever see,—

Then you may lay me low i’ the mold, and think no more of me.


Good night, sweet-mother! Call me before the day is born.

All night I lie awake, but I fall asleep at morn;

But I would see the sun rise upon the glad new-year,—

 So, if you ’re waking, call me, call me early, mother dear.




I thought to pass away before, and yet alive I am;

And in the fields all around I hear the bleating of the lamb.

How sadly, I remember, rose the morning of the year!

To die before the snowdrop came, and now the violet ’s here.


Forever and forever, all in a blessèd home,—

And there to wait a little while till you and Effie come,—

To lie within the light of God, as I lie upon your breast,—

And the wicked cease from troubling, and the weary are at rest.


From The May Queen by Alfred, Lord Tennyson



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On 27/08/2018 at 10:14, megustaleer said:

this sad Victorian story

Very sad.  The girl who is due to be May Queen is a little excited, a little vain, a little dismissive of a boy who loves her but whom she doesn't love.  It follows, naturally, that she has to die (cause unspecified) within the year.


Now, Lycidas, the shepherds weep no more;
Henceforth thou art the genius of the shore,
In thy large recompense, and shalt be good
To all that wander in that perilous flood.
Thus sang the uncouth swain to th' oaks and rills,
While the still morn went out with sandals grey;
He touched the tender stops of various quills,
With eager thought warbling his Doric lay:
And now the sun had stretched out all the hills,
And now was dropped into the western bay.
At last he rose, and twitched his mantle blue:
Tomorrow to fresh woods, and pastures new.


Alfred, Lord Tennyson - from 'Lycidas'

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When a friend calls to me from the road 
And slows his horse to a meaning walk, 
I don't stand still and look around 
On all the hills I haven't hoed, 
And shout from where I am, What is it? 
No, not as there is a time to talk. 
I thrust my hoe in the mellow ground, 
Blade-end up and five feet tall, 
And plod: I go up to the stone wall 
For a friendly visit. 


A Time To Talk by Robert Frst

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I have seen old ships sail like swans asleep 

Beyond the village which men still call Tyre, 

With leaden age o'ercargoed, dipping deep 

For Famagusta and the hidden sun 

That rings black Cyprus with a lake of fire;        

And all those ships were certainly so old— 

Who knows how oft with squat and noisy gun, 

Questing brown slaves or Syrian oranges, 

The pirate Genoese 

Hell-raked them till they rolled 

Blood, water, fruit and corpses up the hold. 

But now through friendly seas they softly run, 

Painted the mid-sea blue or shore-sea green, 

Still patterned with the vine and grapes in gold. 


But I have seen, 

Pointing her shapely shadows from the dawn 

And image tumbled on a rose-swept bay, 

A drowsy ship of some yet older day; 

And, wonder's breath indrawn, 

Thought I—who knows—who knows—but in that same 

(Fished up beyond Aeaea, patched up new 

—Stern painted brighter blue—) 

That talkative, bald-headed seaman came 

(Twelve patient comrades sweating at the oar) 

From Troy's doom-crimson shore, 

And with great lies about his wooden horse 

Set the crew laughing, and forgot his course. 


It was so old a ship—who knows, who knows? 

—And yet so beautiful, I watched in vain 

To see the mast burst open with a rose, 

And the whole deck put on its leaves again. 


James Elroy Flecker - 'The Old Ships'

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"Endymion! Ah! still wandering in the bands

Of love? Now this is cruel. Since the hour

I met thee in earth's bosom, all my power

Have I put forth to serve thee. What, not yet

Escap'd from dull mortality's harsh net?

A little patience, youth! 'twill not be long,

Or I am skilless quite: an idle tongue,

A humid eye, and steps luxurious,

Where these are new and strange, are ominous.

Aye, I have seen these signs in one of heaven,

When others were all blind; and were I given

To utter secrets, haply I might say

Some pleasant words:--but Love will have his day.

So wait awhile expectant. Pr'ythee soon,

Even in the passing of thine honey-moon,

Visit my Cytherea: thou wilt find

Cupid well-natured, my Adonis kind;

And pray persuade with thee--Ah, I have done,

All blisses be upon thee, my sweet son!"--


From Endymion: Book III by John Keats

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Sweet prince, you learn me noble thankfulness.
There, Leonato, take her back again:
Give not this rotten orange to your friend;
She's but the sign and semblance of her honour.
Behold how like a maid she blushes here!
O, what authority and show of truth
Can cunning sin cover itself withal!
Comes not that blood as modest evidence
To witness simple virtue? Would you not swear,
All you that see her, that she were a maid,
By these exterior shows? But she is none:
She knows the heat of a luxurious bed;
Her blush is guiltiness, not modesty.


Shakespeare, Much Ado About Nothing IV/i

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When as the rye reach’d to the chin,

And chop cherry, chop cherry ripe within,

Strawberries swimming in the cream,

And schoolboys playing in the stream;

Then O, then O, then O, my true love said,       

Till that time come again

She could not live a maid!


George Peele - 'The Impatient Maid'

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And why, I pray you? Who might be your mother,
That you insult, exult, and all at once,
Over the wretched? What though you have no beauty-
As, by my faith, I see no more in you
Than without candle may go dark to bed-
Must you be therefore proud and pitiless?
Why, what means this? Why do you look on me?
I see no more in you than in the ordinary
Of nature's sale-work. 'Od's my little life,
I think she means to tangle my eyes too!
No faith, proud mistress, hope not after it;
'Tis not your inky brows, your black silk hair,
Your bugle eyeballs, nor your cheek of cream,
That can entame my spirits to your worship.
You foolish shepherd, wherefore do you follow her,
Like foggy south, puffing with wind and rain?
You are a thousand times a properer man
Than she a woman. 'Tis such fools as you
That makes the world full of ill-favour'd children.
'Tis not her glass, but you, that flatters her;
And out of you she sees herself more proper
Than any of her lineaments can show her.
But, mistress, know yourself. Down on your knees,
And thank heaven, fasting, for a good man's love;
For I must tell you friendly in your ear:
Sell when you can; you are not for all markets.
Cry the man mercy, love him, take his offer;
Foul is most foul, being foul to be a scoffer.
So take her to thee, shepherd. Fare you well.


Shakespeare, As You Like It III/v

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    She who faces Death by torture for each life beneath her breast 
    May not deal in doubt or pity—must not swerve for fact or jest. 
    These be purely male diversions—not in these her honour dwells— 
    She the Other Law we live by, is that Law and nothing else. 


    She can bring no more to living than the powers that make her great 
    As the Mother of the Infant and the Mistress of the Mate. 
    And when Babe and Man are lacking and she strides unclaimed to claim 
    Her right as femme (and baron), her equipment is the same. 


    She is wedded to convictions—in default of grosser ties; 
    Her contentions are her children, Heaven help him who denies!— 
    He will meet no suave discussion, but the instant, white-hot, wild, 
    Wakened female of the species warring as for spouse and child. 


    Unprovoked and awful charges—even so the she-bear fights, 
    Speech that drips, corrodes, and poisons—even so the cobra bites, 
    Scientific vivisection of one nerve till it is raw 
    And the victim writhes in anguish—like the Jesuit with the squaw! 


    So it comes that Man, the coward, when he gathers to confer 
    With his fellow-braves in council, dare not leave a place for her 
    Where, at war with Life and Conscience, he uplifts his erring hands 
    To some God of Abstract Justice—which no woman understands. 


    And Man knows it! Knows, moreover, that the Woman that God gave him 
    Must command but may not govern—shall enthral but not enslave him. 
    And She knows, because She warns him, and Her instincts never fail, 
    That the Female of Her Species is more deadly than the Male.


From The Female of The Species by Rudyard Kipling

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   I know not why, but in that hour to-night,
        Even as they gazed, a sudden tremor came,
    And swept, as ’t were, across their hearts’ delight,
        Like the wind o’er a harp-string, or a flame,
    When one is shook in sound, and one in sight;
        And thus some boding flash’d through either frame,
    And call’d from Juan’s breast a faint low sigh,
    While one new tear arose in Haidee’s eye.
    That large black prophet eye seem’d to dilate
        And follow far the disappearing sun,
    As if their last day! of a happy date
        With his broad, bright, and dropping orb were gone;
    Juan gazed on her as to ask his fate-
        He felt a grief, but knowing cause for none,
    His glance inquired of hers for some excuse
    For feelings causeless, or at least abstruse.
Lord Byron, Don Juan, Canto IV, lines 161-176
Edited by jfp

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Busy old fool, unruly sun,
               Why dost thou thus,
Through windows, and through curtains call on us?
Must to thy motions lovers' seasons run?
               Saucy pedantic wretch, go chide
               Late school boys and sour prentices,
         Go tell court huntsmen that the king will ride,
         Call country ants to harvest offices,
Love, all alike, no season knows nor clime,
Nor hours, days, months, which are the rags of time.
               Thy beams, so reverend and strong
               Why shouldst thou think?
I could eclipse and cloud them with a wink,
But that I would not lose her sight so long;
               If her eyes have not blinded thine,
               Look, and tomorrow late, tell me,
         Whether both th' Indias of spice and mine
Be where thou leftst them, or lie here with me.
Ask for those kings whom thou saw'st yesterday,
And thou shalt hear, All here in one bed lay.
               She's all states, and all princes, I,
               Nothing else is.
Princes do but play us; compared to this,
All honor's mimic, all wealth alchemy.
               Thou, sun, art half as happy as we,
               In that the world's contracted thus.
         Thine age asks ease, and since thy duties be
         To warm the world, that's done in warming us.
Shine here to us, and thou art everywhere;
This bed thy center is, these walls, thy sphere.


John Donne - 'The Sun Rising'

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The forward violet thus did I chide:
'Sweet thief, whence didst thou steal thy sweet that smells,
If not from my love's breath? The purple pride
Which on thy soft cheek for complexion dwells
In my love's veins thou hast too grossly dyed.'
The lily I condemned for thy hand,
And buds of marjoram had stol'n thy hair;
The roses fearfully on thorns did stand,
One blushing shame, another white despair;
A third, nor red, nor white, had stol'n of both,
And to his robbery had annex'd thy breath;
But for his theft, in pride of all his growth,
A vengeful canker ate him up to death.
    More flowers I noted, yet I none could see,
    But sweet, or colour it had stol'n from thee.


Shakespeare, Sonnet 99

Edited by jfp

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Who’ll wear the beaten colours, and cheer the beaten men?

Who’ll wear the beaten colours, till our time comes again?

Where sullen crowds are densest, and fickle as the sea,

Who’ll wear the beaten colours, and wear them home with me?


We closed the bars and gambling dens and voted straight and clean,

Our women walked while motor cars were whirling round the scene,

The Potts Point Vote was one for Greed and Ease and Luxury

With all to hold, and coward gold, and beaten folk are we.


Who’ll wear the beaten colours, with hands and pockets clean?

(I wore the beaten colours since I was seventeen)

I wore them up, and wore them down, Outback and across the sea,

Who’ll wear the beaten colours, and wear them home with me?


We wore them back from Ladysmith to where the peace was signed,

And wore them through the London streets where Jingoes howled behind.

We wore them to the Queen’s Hall, while England yelled “Pro-Boers!”

And sat them over victory while London banged the doors.1


We wore them from Port Arthur round till all sunk in the sea,

(Who’ll wear the white man’s colours, and wear them home with me?)

I’ve worn them through with gentlemen, with work-slaves and alone,

Who’ll wear the beaten colours, boys, and wear them on his own?


There’s one would look with startled eyes and shrink while I caressed,

Came I not with the colours of the conquered on my breast.

And twenty thousand Bushmen would stand with hands behind

And scorn in all their faces for the coward of his kind.


Who’ll wear the beaten colours and raise the voice they drowned,

It may be when we march again, they’ll bear some other sound,

Who’ll pin the beaten colours on and drive the beaten pen,

It may be other steel and ink when we march out again.


Who’ll Wear The Beaten Colours? by Henry Lawson

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No longer mourn for me when I am dead
Than you shall hear the surly sullen bell
Give warning to the world that I am fled
From this vile world, with vilest worms to dwell:
Nay, if you read this line, remember not
The hand that writ it, for I love you so
That I in your sweet thoughts would be forgot,
If thinking on me then should make you woe.
O if (I say) you look upon this verse,
When I perhaps compounded am with clay,
Do not so much as my poor name rehearse,
But let your love even with my life decay;
    Lest the wise world should look into your moan,
    And mock you with me after I am gone.


Shakespeare, Sonnet 71

Edited by jfp

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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 shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked 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.”
Percy Bysshe Shelley - 'Ozymandias'

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Now just imagine how it feels

When first your toes and then your heels,

And then by gradual degrees,

Your shins and ankles, calves and knees,

Are slowly eaten, bit by bit.

No wonder Jim detested it!

No wonder that he shouted “Hi!”

The Honest Keeper heard his cry,


Though very fat he almost ran

To help the little gentleman.

“Ponto!” he ordered as he came

(For Ponto was the Lion’s name),

“Ponto!” he cried, with angry Frown.

“Let go, Sir! Down, Sir! Put it down!”


The Lion made a sudden Stop,

He let the Dainty Morsel drop,

And slunk reluctant to his Cage,

Snarling with Disappointed Rage

But when he bent him over Jim,

The Honest Keeper’s eyes were dim.

The Lion having reached his Head,

The Miserable Boy was dead!


From:  Jim, Who Ran Away from His Nurse, and Was Eaten by a Lion,  by Hilaire Belloc

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The Naming of Cats is a difficult matter,
It isn't just one of your holiday games;
You may think at first I'm as mad as a hatter
When I tell you, a cat must have THREE DIFFERENT NAMES.
First of all, there's the name that the family use daily,
Such as Peter, Augustus, Alonzo or James,
Such as Victor or Jonathan, George or Bill Bailey--
All of them sensible everyday names.
There are fancier names if you think they sound sweeter,
Some for the gentlemen, some for the dames:
Such as Plato, Admetus, Electra, Demeter--
But all of them sensible everyday names.
But I tell you, a cat needs a name that's particular,
A name that's peculiar, and more dignified,
Else how can he keep up his tail perpendicular,
Or spread out his whiskers, or cherish his pride?
Of names of this kind, I can give you a quorum,
Such as Munkustrap, Quaxo, or Coricopat,
Such as Bombalurina, or else Jellylorum -
Names that never belong to more than one cat.
But above and beyond there's still one name left over,
And that is the name that you never will guess;
The name that no human research can discover--
But THE CAT HIMSELF KNOWS, and will never confess.
When you notice a cat in profound meditation,
The reason, I tell you, is always the same:
His mind is engaged in a rapt contemplation
Of the thought, of the thought, of the thought of his name:
His ineffable effable
Deep and inscrutable singular Name.


T.S. Eliot - 'The Naming of Cats'

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O Plato! Plato! you have paved the way,
With your confounded fantasies, to more
Immoral conduct by the fancied sway
Your system feigns o'er the controulless core
Of human hearts, than all the long array
Of poets and romancers:—You 're a bore,
A charlatan, a coxcomb—and have been,
At best, no better than a go-between.


From Lord Byron, Don Juan, canto I

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