Archive for the Poetry Category

The Beautiful Sun, by William McGonagall

Posted in Poetry with tags , , , on May 24, 2017 by telescoper

Beautiful Sun! with thy golden rays,
To God, the wise Creator, be all praise;
For thou nourisheth all the creation,
Wherever there is found to be animation.

Without thy heat we could not live,
Then praise to God we ought to give;
For thou makest the fruits and provisions to grow,
To nourish all creatures on earth below.

Thou makest the hearts of the old feel glad,
Likewise the young child and the lad,
And the face of Nature to look green and gay,
And the little children to sport and play.

Thou also givest light unto the Moon,
Which certainly is a very great boon
To all God’s creatures here below,
Throughout the world where’er they go.

How beautiful thou look’st on a summer morn,
When thou sheddest thy effulgence among the yellow corn,
Also upon lake, and river, and the mountain tops,
Whilst thou leavest behind the most lovely dewdrops!

How beautiful thou seem’st in the firmament above,
As I gaze upon thee, my heart fills with love
To God, the great Creator, Who has placed thee there,
Who watches all His creatures with an eye of care!

Thou makest the birds to sing on the tree,
Also by meadow, mountain, and lea;
And the lark high poised up in air,
Carolling its little song with its heart free from care.

Thou makest the heart of the shepherd feel gay
As he watches the little lambkins at their innocent play;
While he tends them on the hillside all day,
Taking care that none of them shall go astray.

Thou cheerest the weary traveller while on his way
During the livelong summer day,
As he admires the beautiful scenery while passing along,
And singing to himself a stave of a song.

Thou cheerest the tourist while amongst the Highland hills,
As he views their beautiful sparkling rills
Glittering like diamonds by the golden rays,
While the hills seem to offer up to God their praise.

While the bee from flower to flower does roam
To gather honey, and carry it home;
While it hums its little song in the beautiful sunshine,
And seemingly to thank the Creator divine —

For the honey it hath gathered during the day,
In the merry month of May,
When the flowers are in full bloom,
Also the sweet honeysuckle and the broom.

How beautiful thy appearance while setting in the west,
Whilst encircled with red and azure, ’tis then thou look’st best!
Then let us all thank God for thy golden light
In our prayers every morning and night!

by Wiliam Topaz McGonagall (1825-1902)

 

Manchester Thoughts

Posted in Poetry with tags , , on May 23, 2017 by telescoper

I went to bed early last night after a long day, so I only found out about the terrible events in Manchester when I woke up this morning. The lives of 22 people ended last night, and many of those who survived will never be the same again because of their physical injuries or because of the awful things they witnessed.

I know it’s a feeble response, but I send my deepest condolences to the bereaved and wish a speedy recovery to all those injured or in any other way affected.

Words fail in situations like this. Comprehension fails too. How someone purportedly of the same species as me can sit down and systematically plan to murder children and teenagers is quite beyond my ability to fathom. The choice of target was as callous as it was deliberate: an audience of young girls. The murderer blew himself up in the course of this attack, which means he has evaded justice. I just hope the police will identify the remains and wrap up whatever network helped him plan and execute this attack.

There’s enough information in the news to make a reasonably informed guess as to what kind of explosive device was used. It’s not difficult to make a bomb of that type, but it’s a step up in sophistication from the event on Westminster Bridge. Let’s hope it’s not the start of a new wave of terror attacks, but even if it is they will not win.

It’s difficult to concentrate on work when something like this happens, but I think it’s important to force oneself to do so. If we allow ourselves to become distracted, then the bastards have won. I won’t write much more, but I will refer you to a poem by Dylan Thomas, arguably his greatest, which came into my mind this morning as it has done (sadly) many times before.

A Refusal to Mourn the Death by Fire of a Child in London was first published just after the end of the Second World War and was written after Thomas heard news of a young girl who had burned to death when the house she was in was set on fire during an air raid.

The idea behind the poem is complex, and its message double-edged, but Thomas finds a perfect balance between horror and sadness, and between indignation and heartbreak. Children shouldn’t have to die, and neither should anyone else whose life is cut short by another’s hand, but we have to live with the fact that they can and do. There’s no consolation to be found in mourning and in any case it’s hypocritical to favour one death with elegies, when suffering is so widespread. The best we can do is allow the dead some dignity and the bereaved some time to heal.

Here is a short extract from the poem, which sums up my thoughts.

I shall not murder
The mankind of her going with a grave truth
Nor blaspheme down the stations of the breath
With any further
Elegy of innocence and youth.

I won’t post the full poem here, but you can find it elsewhere on this blog.

 

Spring Rain

Posted in Biographical, Poetry on May 12, 2017 by telescoper

This poem accurately describes what happened to me walking home yesterday evening…

The storm came up so very quick
It couldn’t have been quicker.
I should have brought my hat along,
I should have brought my slicker.

My hair is wet, my feet are wet,
I couldn’t be much wetter.
I fell into a river once
But this is even better!

by Marchette Chute (1909-1994)

The Word, by R.S. Thomas

Posted in Poetry with tags , , , on April 5, 2017 by telescoper

A pen appeared, and the god said:
‘Write what it is to be
man.’ And my hand hovered
long over the bare page.

until there, like footprints
of the lost traveller, letters
took shape on the page’s
blankness, and I spelled out
the word ‘lonely’.

And my hand moved
to erase it; but the voices
of all those waiting at life’s
window cried out loud: ‘It is true.’

by R.S. Thomas (1913-2000)

 

Composed upon Westminster Bridge, September 3 1802, by William Wordsworth

Posted in Poetry with tags on March 23, 2017 by telescoper

Earth has not anything to show more fair:
Dull would he be of soul who could pass by
A sight so touching in its majesty:
This City now doth, like a garment, wear
The beauty of the morning; silent, bare,
Ships, towers, domes, theatres, and temples lie
Open unto the fields, and to the sky;
All bright and glittering in the smokeless air.
Never did sun more beautifully steep
In his first splendour, valley, rock, or hill;
Ne’er saw I, never felt, a calm so deep!
The river glideth at his own sweet will:
Dear God! the very houses seem asleep;
And all that mighty heart is lying still!

by William Wordsworth (1770-1850)

 

My Last Will – by Sir Walter Raleigh (no, not that one…)

Posted in Biographical, Poetry with tags , , , on March 20, 2017 by telescoper

The vernal equinox in the Northern hemisphere passed this morning at 10.29 GMT, heralding the start of spring – a time when naturally our thoughts turn to death and decay. Which is no doubt why I remembered this poem  I came across some time ago but for some reason haven’t posted yet. It’s quite astonishing how many websites attribute this verse to the Elizabethan courtier and explorer Sir Walter Raleigh, who was indeed an accomplished poet, but the use of language is very clearly not of that period. In fact this was written by Professor Sir Walter Alexander Raleigh (1861-1922). What he says in this poem about his own untidiness is I’m afraid very true also of me, but the semi-joking tone with which he opens gives way to something far more profound, and I think the last two lines are particularly powerful.

When I am safely laid away,
Out of work and out of play,
Sheltered by the kindly ground
From the world of sight and sound,
One or two of those I leave
Will remember me and grieve,
Thinking how I made them gay
By the things I used to say;
— But the crown of their distress
Will be my untidiness.

What a nuisance then will be
All that shall remain of me!
Shelves of books I never read,
Piles of bills, undocketed,
Shaving-brushes, razors, strops,
Bottles that have lost their tops,
Boxes full of odds and ends,
Letters from departed friends,
Faded ties and broken braces
Tucked away in secret places,
Baggy trousers, ragged coats,
Stacks of ancient lecture-notes,
And that ghostliest of shows,
Boots and shoes in horrid rows.
Though they are of cheerful mind,
My lovers, whom I leave behind,
When they find these in my stead,
Will be sorry I am dead.

They will grieve; but you, my dear,
Who have never tasted fear,
Brave companion of my youth,
Free as air and true as truth,
Do not let these weary things
Rob you of your junketings.

Burn the papers; sell the books;
Clear out all the pestered nooks;
Make a mighty funeral pyre
For the corpse of old desire,
Till there shall remain of it
Naught but ashes in a pit:
And when you have done away
All that is of yesterday,
If you feel a thrill of pain,
Master it, and start again.

This, at least, you have never done
Since you first beheld the sun:
If you came upon your own
Blind to light and deaf to tone,
Basking in the great release
Of unconsciousness and peace,
You would never, while you live,
Shatter what you cannot give;
— Faithful to the watch you keep,
You would never break their sleep.

Clouds will sail and winds will blow
As they did an age ago
O’er us who lived in little towns
Underneath the Berkshire downs.
When at heart you shall be sad,
Pondering the joys we had,
Listen and keep very still.
If the lowing from the hill
Or the tolling of a bell
Do not serve to break the spell,
Listen; you may be allowed
To hear my laughter from a cloud.

Take the good that life can give
For the time you have to live.
Friends of yours and friends of mine
Surely will not let you pine.
Sons and daughters will not spare
More than friendly love and care.
If the Fates are kind to you,
Some will stay to see you through;
And the time will not be long
Till the silence ends the song.

Sleep is God’s own gift; and man,
Snatching all the joys he can,
Would not dare to give his voice
To reverse his Maker’s choice.
Brief delight, eternal quiet,
How change these for endless riot
Broken by a single rest?
Well you know that sleep is best.

We that have been heart to heart
Fall asleep, and drift apart.
Will that overwhelming tide
Reunite us, or divide?
Whence we come and whither go
None can tell us, but I know
Passion’s self is often marred
By a kind of self-regard,
And the torture of the cry
“You are you, and I am I.”
While we live, the waking sense
Feeds upon our difference,
In our passion and our pride
Not united, but allied.

We are severed by the sun,
And by darkness are made one.

 

R.I.P. Derek Walcott 

Posted in Poetry on March 17, 2017 by telescoper

Out of the office all day, I heard quite late of the death at the age of 87 of the poet Derek Walcott.

Here’s one of his best-known poems, which will resonate with middle-aged men everywhere:

If you aren’t familiar with Derek Walcott, this collection is a good place to start: