VERStype

A Jigsaw Cut-up is composed of verses or passages and/or single words taken from two individual poetry pieces and disposed in a new form or order. A Jigsaw Cut-up may be a Cento and a Cut-up but it is not “an aleatory literary technique” since “aleatory” is defined “Depending on the throw of a die; random, arising by chance“; or, as was written once, “Un Coup de Dés Jamais N’Abolira Le Hasard.”

[Guidelines]

April-18

A Birthday
Christina Georgina Rossetti (5 December 1830 – 29 December 1894)

My heart is like a singing bird
Whose nest is in a watered shoot;
My heart is like an apple-tree
Whose boughs are bent with thickset fruit;
My heart is like a rainbow shell
That paddles in a halcyon sea;
My heart is gladder than all these
Because my love is come to me.
Raise me a dais of silk and down;
Hang it with vair and purple dyes;
Carve it in doves, and pomegranates,
And peacocks with a hundred eyes;
Work it in gold and silver grapes,
In leaves, and silver fleurs-de-lys;
Because the birthday of my life
Is come, my love is come to me.

The Charge of the Light Brigade
Alfred, Lord Tennyson (6 August 1809 – 6 October 1892)

1.
Half a league, half a league,
Half a league onward,
All in the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.
“Forward, the Light Brigade!
“Charge for the guns!” he said:
Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.
2.
“Forward, the Light Brigade!”
Was there a man dismay’d?
Not tho’ the soldier knew
Some one had blunder’d:
Their’s not to make reply,
Their’s not to reason why,
Their’s but to do and die,
Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.
3.
Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon in front of them
Volley’d and thunder’d;
Storm’d at with shot and shell,
Boldly they rode and well,
Into the jaws of Death,
Into the mouth of Hell
Rode the six hundred.
4.
Flash’d all their sabres bare,
Flash’d as they turn’d in air,
Sabring the gunners there,
Charging an army, while
All the world wonder’d:
Plunged in the battery-smoke
Right thro’ the line they broke;
Cossack and Russian
Reel’d from the sabre-stroke
Shatter’d and sunder’d.
Then they rode back, but not
Not the six hundred.
5.
Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon behind them
Volley’d and thunder’d;
Storm’d at with shot and shell,
While horse and hero fell,
They that had fought so well
Came thro’ the jaws of Death
Back from the mouth of Hell,
All that was left of them,
Left of six hundred.
6.
When can their glory fade?
O the wild charge they made!
All the world wonder’d.
Honour the charge they made!
Honour the Light Brigade,
Noble six hundred!

March-18

The Siren
Oliver Herford (2 December 1860 – 5 July 1935)

Tell me,
The Siren may be said to be
The Chorus-Lady of the Sea;
Tho’ Mermaids claim her as their kin,
Instead of fishy tail and fin
Two shapely feet rejoice the view
(With all that appertains thereto).
When to these other charms we add
A voice that drives the hearer mad,
Who will dispute her claim to be
The Chorus-Lady of the Sea?

Lunar Baedeker
Mina Loy (27 December 1882 – 25 September 1966)

A silver Lucifer
serves
cocaine in cornucopia

To some somnambulists
of adolescent thighs
draped
in satirical draperies

Peris in livery
prepare
Lethe
for posthumous parvenues

Delirious Avenues
lit
with the chandelier souls
of infusoria
from Pharoah’s tombstones

lead
to mercurial doomsdays
Odious oasis
in furrowed phosphorous—

the eye-white sky-light
white-light district
of lunar lusts

—Stellectric signs
“Wing shows on Starway”
“Zodiac carrousel”

Cyclones
of ecstatic dust
and ashes whirl
crusaders
from hallucinatory citadels
of shattered glass
into evacuate craters

A flock of dreams
browse on Necropolis

From the shores
of oval oceans
in the oxidized Orient

Onyx-eyed Odalisques
and ornithologists
observe
the flight
of Eros obsolete

And “Immortality”
mildews…
in the museums of the moon

“Nocturnal cyclops”
“Crystal concubine”
——-
Pocked with personification
the fossil virgin of the skies
waxes and wanes—-

February-18

Venus Transiens
Amy Lowell (February 9, 1874 – May 12, 1925)

Tell me,
Was Venus more beautiful
Than you are,
When she topped
The crinkled waves,
Drifting shoreward
On her plaited shell?
Was Botticelli’s vision
Fairer than mine;
And were the painted rosebuds
He tossed his lady,
Of better worth
Than the words I blow about you
To cover your too great loveliness
As with a gauze
Of misted silver?

For me,
You stand poised
In the blue and buoyant air,
Cinctured by bright winds,
Treading the sunlight.
And the waves which precede you
Ripple and stir
The sands at my feet.

The Lover Speaks
E. E. Cummings (October 14, 1894 – September 3, 1962)

Over the wires came leaping

and I felt suddenly

dizzy

With the jostling and shouting of merry flowers

wee skipping high-heeled flames

courtesied before my eyes

or twinkling over to my side

Looked up

with impertinently exquisite faces

floating hands were laid upon me

I was whirled and tossed into delicious dancing

up

Up

with the pale important

stars and the Humorous

moon

dear girl

How I was crazy how I cried when I heard

over time

and tide and death

leaping

Sweetly

your voice

January-18

The Rime of the Ancyent Marinere
Samuel Taylor Coleridge (21 October 1772 – 25 July 1834)

PART THE THIRD.

There passed a weary time. Each throat
Was parched, and glazed each eye.
A weary time! a weary time!
How glazed each weary eye,
When looking westward, I beheld
A something in the sky.

At first it seemed a little speck,
And then it seemed a mist:
It moved and moved, and took at last
A certain shape, I wist.

A speck, a mist, a shape, I wist!
And still it neared and neared:
As if it dodged a water-sprite,
It plunged and tacked and veered.

With throats unslaked, with black lips baked,
We could not laugh nor wail;
Through utter drought all dumb we stood!
I bit my arm, I sucked the blood,
And cried, A sail! a sail!

With throats unslaked, with black lips baked,
Agape they heard me call:
Gramercy! they for joy did grin,
And all at once their breath drew in,
As they were drinking all.

See! see! (I cried) she tacks no more!
Hither to work us weal;
Without a breeze, without a tide,
She steadies with upright keel!

The western wave was all a-flame
The day was well nigh done!
Almost upon the western wave
Rested the broad bright Sun;
When that strange shape drove suddenly
Betwixt us and the Sun.

And straight the Sun was flecked with bars,
(Heaven’s Mother send us grace!)
As if through a dungeon-grate he peered,
With broad and burning face.

Alas! (thought I, and my heart beat loud)
How fast she nears and nears!
Are those her sails that glance in the Sun,
Like restless gossameres!

Are those her ribs through which the Sun
Did peer, as through a grate?
And is that Woman all her crew?
Is that a DEATH? and are there two?
Is DEATH that woman’s mate?

Her lips were red, her looks were free,
Her locks were yellow as gold:
Her skin was as white as leprosy,
The Night-Mare LIFE-IN-DEATH was she,
Who thicks man’s blood with cold.

The naked hulk alongside came,
And the twain were casting dice;
“The game is done! I’ve won! I’ve won!”
Quoth she, and whistles thrice.

The Sun’s rim dips; the stars rush out:
At one stride comes the dark;
With far-heard whisper, o’er the sea.
Off shot the spectre-bark.

We listened and looked sideways up!
Fear at my heart, as at a cup,
My life-blood seemed to sip!

The stars were dim, and thick the night,
The steersman’s face by his lamp gleamed white;
From the sails the dew did drip—
Till clombe above the eastern bar
The horned Moon, with one bright star
Within the nether tip.

One after one, by the star-dogged Moon
Too quick for groan or sigh,
Each turned his face with a ghastly pang,
And cursed me with his eye.

Four times fifty living men,
(And I heard nor sigh nor groan)
With heavy thump, a lifeless lump,
They dropped down one by one.

The souls did from their bodies fly,—
They fled to bliss or woe!
And every soul, it passed me by,
Like the whizz of my CROSS-BOW!

MOBY-DICK; or, THE WHALE.
Herman Melville (August 1, 1819 – September 28, 1891)

from CHAPTER 42. The Whiteness of the Whale.

Bethink thee of the albatross, whence come those clouds of spiritual wonderment and pale dread, in which that white phantom sails in all imaginations? Not Coleridge first threw that spell; but God’s great, unflattering laureate, Nature.

I remember the first albatross I ever saw. It was during a prolonged gale, in waters hard upon the Antarctic seas. From my forenoon watch below, I ascended to the overclouded deck; and there, dashed upon the main hatches, I saw a regal, feathery thing of unspotted whiteness, and with a hooked, Roman bill sublime. At intervals, it arched forth its vast archangel wings, as if to embrace some holy ark. Wondrous flutterings and throbbings shook it. Though bodily unharmed, it uttered cries, as some king’s ghost in supernatural distress. Through its inexpressible, strange eyes, methought I peeped to secrets which took hold of God. As Abraham before the angels, I bowed myself; the white thing was so white, its wings so wide, and in those for ever exiled waters, I had lost the miserable warping memories of traditions and of towns. Long I gazed at that prodigy of plumage. I cannot tell, can only hint, the things that darted through me then. But at last I awoke; and turning, asked a sailor what bird was this. A goney, he replied. Goney! never had heard that name before; is it conceivable that this glorious thing is utterly unknown to men ashore! never! But some time after, I learned that goney was some seaman’s name for albatross. So that by no possibility could Coleridge’s wild Rhyme have had aught to do with those mystical impressions which were mine, when I saw that bird upon our deck. For neither had I then read the Rhyme, nor knew the bird to be an albatross. Yet, in saying this, I do but indirectly burnish a little brighter the noble merit of the poem and the poet.

I assert, then, that in the wondrous bodily whiteness of the bird chiefly lurks the secret of the spell; a truth the more evinced in this, that by a solecism of terms there are birds called grey albatrosses; and these I have frequently seen, but never with such emotions as when I beheld the Antarctic fowl.

But how had the mystic thing been caught? Whisper it not, and I will tell; with a treacherous hook and line, as the fowl floated on the sea. At last the Captain made a postman of it; tying a lettered, leathern tally round its neck, with the ship’s time and place; and then letting it escape. But I doubt not, that leathern tally, meant for man, was taken off in Heaven, when the white fowl flew to join the wing-folding, the invoking, and adoring cherubim!

December-17

Cantos from the Hôtel de Rambouillet, by Various

I.

Full solstice Moon, my lunatic soul, holding Sorrows and Delights. Talk what you please, Eve, of the fading light in the western sky, the sweet purple fever of twilight. The moon is a milk stain, dreaming the night. Silent, the dying stars sing. I hear the wind in the reeds of the city.

II.

underneath with swifteptosoon dumbsweet ooofoofofofofofope of hopestars,Earthbleed.wereedsbleepleednopurpledsouleve Eve Eve she drifts, Eve winterloveventurless–stripp’d drift silken All chilly Earthblood, grovedeludwintervavavalvalva valley valva cold in bleed in Spring Steals lie flow’r O Seated flow’rollingpearl blur Blue She blur She, Nymph of liquid gushonotoonotoonotoonotowinter stole hear thy voice no more Leave thee in thy dim silent cell deluded thus.

underneath with thee, her purpled flow’r sleepdancing alone, sessesissessossessinthe frail veils bleed the blood of Earth, Moon stole’nomelodioushall’drous we sang Silent, we weeweep Silent, we we weeweeks Silent wake Silent pluck songriseSilent laugh we too soon Silent western sky sink soft away Silent caves we we weehidden dreaming Silent in wond’rous Blueblurs of desire flutter.

III.

O, languid morn
this day is the ship which sails
and steals the twilight fair—
sweet dazzling Eve
and her silken purpled wind

cold sun-rise
wrecked the dreaming—
thy frail veils stole
the venturous poet’s home
and lie bare-a modest flow’r

IV.

Pensive Eve, sweet child of Spring
Steals with swift step to the sunless crypt
To mourn he, shut from heaven
And lie in sorrow’s shade
Where twilight veils this living pearl
Beneath her purpled wings

Fair flow’r, frail tenant
Cast from earth’s enchanted hills
My siren soul, I hear thy voice no more
Leave thee in thy dim silent cell
Free at last of thy dreaming life
And with the western sky sink soft away

V.

Holding the sky in her hands she drifts, dreaming. Still. Dancing, laughing, weaving. Possessing no fear, she drifts. Blue blurs green in the white sunlight of desire. She is no prisoner of the city. Her dreams flutter, drenched in light. Wrought with purple fever. She drifts. Dreaming.

VI.

goldenmoon speak to us of truth

closepressed mortals sing no-truth not-truth
in their smooth melodious voices

truth is not numbers is not thundr’ous
strengthen your softwoven lunarvoice

brokenmoon speak to us of sorrows

soft sobs from your frail-headed earthsouls
lift your face bring offerings bring herbs

sing to diana-of-the-pities
and her divine all-healing dryads

philosophicmoon speak to us of mysteries

mysteries are not your histories
not arcadia not whispertales

magical mortals find hiddenfruits
new languages of insanity

fevermoon speak to us of passions

breath-panting mortals lunatic-tranced
double-woven in one another

your wetdelights wondrous ripe-scented
gifts of temporal insomnia

godmoon speak to us of science

science is not wisdom not fiction
not seated on altars in heaven

live in selenocentric regions
commit to drawing lunar orbits

fullmoon speak to us of solstice

standstill of the broken satellite
newborn buds on all reflected slopes

senselessnoise falls still in healing sleep
strengthen resist singsoft and find light

VII.

December twilight
White-plumed, cold, and lorn
A single star
Once a man
Lived for thirty years
A single dream spoiled
Halfway to Heaven
Time shall cease
Forevermore

VIII.

Mourn the wearied day
with honours heaped
on last glories of sunset

Rosy thoughts of distant
red and gold that stain
transparent clouds
to fires of flaring flames

Burning daylight draperies
as twilight, harbinger
of darkness descends

And city labyrinths, bristling
with discordant cries
clamour for calm and harmony
when dwindled light dies

IX.

This age of ours rests on all pictures of the living day
In the taking of it breathe, over-busy hand and brain,
Lingering long in dreamy reverie as either hand may
Rightly clutch report or lamentation
And on the threshold of our time alone
Whose life and death a mighty shadow thrown
At thy threshold, on thy hearth where mansions keep
All who lie beneath, while away the evening hour
Or wake the echoes, mournful, lone and deep
It shall ease thy mortal strife in its dreaming bower

X.

The Blind Man
observes with saddened pose
a world brushed by the shadows
of melancholy
and horror:

The Gipsy proffers
with outstretched hand the twilight of the Moon
to the Blind Man he
Twilight bells! As euphony voluminously wells
so delight musically swells
of Brazen bells — of Golden bells — of Silver bells
What a world of happiness
their harmony foretells!

They rhyme!

All the bells in her song all in tune

They ring!

The Enchanters—
Brazen bells! chiming, in the air, in the clamorous clangour
of the Harlequin merriment night,
Leaping higher, higher, higher
What their melody foretells!

The Sorcerers—
Golden bells! chiming, in the air, in the clamorous clangour
of the Harlequin merriment night,
Leaping higher, higher, higher
What their melody foretells!

The Fairies—
Silver bells! chiming, in the air, in the clamorous clangour
of the Harlequin merriment night,
Leaping higher, higher, higher
What their melody foretells!

For every sound that floats

And his merry bosom swells
With the pæan of the bells!
And he dances, and he yells;
Keeping time, time, time,
In a sort of Merry rhyme,
To the pæan of the bells—

Of the bells

November-17

Lyrics from the Song-Books of the Elizabethan Age, by Various (1887)

From Thomas Campion’s Two Books of Airs, 1613.

AWAKE, awake! thou heavy sprite
That sleep’st the deadly sleep of sin!
Rise now and walk the ways of light,
’Tis not too late yet to begin.
Seek heaven early, seek it late;
True Faith finds still an open gate.
Get up, get up, thou leaden man!
Thy track, to endless joy or pain,
Yields but the model of a span:
Yet burns out thy life’s lamp in vain!
One minute bounds thy bane or bliss;
Then watch and labour while time is.

From Henry Youll’s Canzonets to three voices, 1608.

AWAKE, sweet Love! ’tis time to rise:
Phœbus is risen in the east,
Spreading his beams on those fair eyes
Which are enclosed with Nature’s rest.
Awake, awake from heavy sleep
Which all thy thoughts in silence keep!

From Thomas Bateson’s First Set of English Madrigals, 1604.

AY me, my mistress scorns my love;
I fear she will most cruel prove.
I weep, I sigh, I grieve, I groan;
Yet she regardeth not my moan.
Then, Love, adieu! it fits not me
To weep for her that laughs at thee.

From John Dowland’s Third and Last Book of Songs or Airs, 1603.

BEHOLD a wonder here!
Love hath receiv’d his sight!
Which many hundred year
Hath not beheld the light.
Such beams infusèd be
By Cynthia in his eyes,
As first have made him see
And then have made him wise.
Love now no more will weep
For them that laugh the while!
Nor wake for them that sleep,
Nor sigh for them that smile!
So powerful is the Beauty
That Love doth now behold,
As Love is turned to Duty
That’s neither blind nor bold.
Thus Beauty shows her might
To be of double kind;
In giving Love his sight
And striking Folly blind.

From John Dowland’s Third and Last Book of Songs or Airs, 1603.

BY a fountain where I lay,
(All blessèd be that blessèd day!)
By the glimm’ring of the sun,
(O never be her shining done!)
When I might see alone
My true Love, fairest one!
Love’s dear light!
Love’s clear sight!
No world’s eyes can clearer see!
A fairer sight, none can be!
Fair with garlands all addrest,
(Was never Nymph more fairly blest!)
Blessèd in the highest degree,
(So may she ever blessèd be!)
Came to this fountain near,
With such a smiling cheer!
Such a face,
Such a grace!
Happy, happy eyes, that see
Such a heavenly sight as She!
Then I forthwith took my pipe,
Which I all fair and clean did wipe,
And upon a heavenly ground,
All in the grace of beauty found,
Play’d this roundelay:
“Welcome, fair Queen of May!
Sing, sweet air!
Welcome, Fair!
Welcome be the Shepherds’ Queen,
The glory of all our green!”

From Thomas Ravenscroft’s Brief Discourse, &c., 1614.

The Urchins’ Dance.

BY the moon we sport and play,
With the night begins our day:
As we frisk the dew doth fall;
Trip it, little urchins all!
Lightly as the little bee,
Two by two, and three by three;
And about, about go we.

The Elves’ Dance.

ROUND about in a fair ring-a,
Thus we dance and thus we sing-a;
Trip and go, to and fro,
Over this green-a;
All about, in and out,
Over this green-a.

October-17

The Man Who Dreams of Fairies
Po Chü-i (772-846)

There was once a man who dreamt he went to Heaven:
His dream-body soared aloft through space.
He rode on the back of a white-plumed crane,
And was led on his flight by two crimson banners.
Whirring of wings and flapping of coat tails!
Jade bells suddenly all a-tinkle!
Half way to Heaven, he looked down beneath him,
Down on the dark turmoil of the World.
Gradually he lost the place of his native town;
Mountains and water—nothing else distinct.
The Eastern Ocean—a single strip of white:
The Hills of China,—five specks of green.
Gliding past him a host of fairies swept
In long procession to the Palace of the Jade City.
How should he guess that the children of Tzŭ-mēn[62]
Bow to the throne like courtiers of earthly kings?
They take him to the presence of the Mighty Jade Emperor:
He bows his head and proffers loyal homage.
The Emperor says: “We see you have fairy talents:
Be of good heart and do not slight yourself.
We shall send to fetch you in fifteen years
And give you a place in the Courtyard of Immortality.”
Twice bowing, he acknowledged the gracious words:
Then woke from sleep, full of wonder and joy.
He hid his secret and dared not tell it abroad:
But vowed a vow he would live in a cave of rock.
From love and affection he severed kith and kin:
From his eating and drinking he omitted savoury and spice.
His morning meal was a dish of coral-dust:
At night he sipped an essence of dewy mists.
In the empty mountains he lived for thirty years
Daily watching for the Heavenly Coach to come.
The time of appointment was already long past,
But of wings and coach-bells—still no sound.
His teeth and hair daily withered and decayed:
His ears and eyes gradually lost their keenness.
One morning he suffered the Common Change
And his body was one with the dust and dirt of the hill.
Gods and fairies! If indeed such things there be,
Their ways are beyond the striving of mortal men.
If you have not on your skull the Golden Bump’s protrusion,
If your name is absent from the rolls of the Red Terrace,
In vain you learn the “Method of Avoiding Food”:
For naught you study the “Book of Alchemic Lore.”
Though you sweat and toil, what shall your trouble bring?
You will only shorten the five-score years of your span.
Sad, alas, the man who dreamt of Fairies!
For a single dream spoiled his whole life.

[62] the Immortals

Dream-Land
Christina Georgina Rossetti (5 December 1830 – 29 December 1894)

Where sunless rivers weep
Their waves into the deep,
She sleeps a charmèd sleep:
Awake her not.
Led by a single star,
She came from very far
To seek where shadows are
Her pleasant lot.

She left the rosy morn,
She left the fields of corn,
For twilight cold and lorn
And water springs.
Through sleep, as through a veil,
She sees the sky look pale,
And hears the nightingale
That sadly sings.

Rest, rest, a perfect rest
Shed over brow and breast;
Her face is toward the west,
The purple land.
She cannot see the grain
Ripening on hill and plain;
She cannot feel the rain
Upon her hand.

Rest, rest, forevermore
Upon a mossy shore;
Rest, rest at the heart’s core
Till time shall cease:
Sleep that no pain shall wake,
Night that no morn shall break,
Till joy shall overtake
Her perfect peace.

September-17

The Tempest Act V. Scene I. [Fragment]
William Shakespeare (26 April 1564 (baptised) – 23 April 1616)

Now does my project gather to a head:
My charms crack not; my spirits obey; and time
Goes upright with his carriage. How’s the day?

On the sixth hour; at which time, my lord,
You said our work should cease.

I did say so,
When first I raised the tempest. Say, my spirit,
How fares the king and’s followers?

Confined together
In the same fashion as you gave in charge,
Just as you left them; all prisoners, sir,
In the line-grove which weather-fends your cell;
They cannot budge till your release. The king,
His brother, and yours, abide all three distracted,
And the remainder mourning over them,
Brimful of sorrow and dismay; but chiefly
Him that you term’d, sir, “The good old lord, Gonzalo;”
His tears run down his beard, like winter’s drops
From eaves of reeds. Your charm so strongly works ’em,
That if you now beheld them, your affections
Would become tender.

Dost thou think so, spirit?

Mine would, sir, were I human.

And mine shall.
Hast thou, which art but air, a touch, a feeling
Of their afflictions, and shall not myself,
One of their kind, that relish all as sharply,
Passion as they, be kindlier moved than thou art?
Though with their high wrongs I am struck to the quick,
Yet with my nobler reason ’gainst my fury
Do I take part: the rarer action is
In virtue than in vengeance: they being penitent,
The sole drift of my purpose doth extend
Not a frown further. Go release them, Ariel:
My charms I’ll break, their senses I’ll restore,
And they shall be themselves.

I’ll fetch them, sir.

Ye elves of hills, brooks, standing lakes, and groves;
And ye that on the sands with printless foot
Do chase the ebbing Neptune, and do fly him
When he comes back; you demi-puppets that
By moonshine do the green sour ringlets make,
Whereof the ewe not bites; and you whose pastime
Is to make midnight mushrooms, that rejoice
To hear the solemn curfew; by whose aid—
Weak masters though ye be—I have bedimm’d
The noontide sun, call’d forth the mutinous winds.
And ’twixt the green sea and the azured vault
Set roaring war: to the dread rattling thunder
Have I given fire, and rifted Jove’s stout oak
With his own bolt; the strong-based promontory
Have I made shake, and by the spurs pluck’d up
The pine and cedar: graves at my command
Have waked their sleepers, oped, and let ’em forth
By my so potent art. But this rough magic
I here abjure; and, when I have required
Some heavenly music,—which even now I do,—
To work mine end upon their senses, that
This airy charm is for, I’ll break my staff,
Bury it certain fathoms in the earth,
And deeper than did ever plummet sound
I’ll drown my book. Solemn music.

A solemn air, and the best comforter
To an unsettled fancy, cure thy brains,
Now useless, boil’d within thy skull! There stand,
For you are spell-stopp’d.
Holy Gonzalo, honourable man,
Mine eyes, even sociable to the show of thine,
Fall fellowly drops. The charm dissolves apace;
And as the morning steals upon the night,
Melting the darkness, so their rising senses
Begin to chase the ignorant fumes that mantle
Their clearer reason. O good Gonzalo,
My true preserver, and a loyal sir
To him thou follow’st! I will pay thy graces
Home both in word and deed. Most cruelly
Didst thou, Alonso, use me and my daughter:
Thy brother was a furtherer in the act.
Thou art pinch’d for’t now, Sebastian. Flesh and blood,
You, brother mine, that entertain’d ambition,
Expell’d remorse and nature; who, with Sebastian,—
Whose inward pinches therefore are most strong,—
Would here have kill’d your king; I do forgive thee,
Unnatural though thou art. Their understanding
Begins to swell; and the approaching tide
Will shortly fill the reasonable shore,
That now lies foul and muddy. Not one of them
That yet looks on me, or would know me: Ariel,
Fetch me the hat and rapier in my cell:
I will discase me, and myself present
As I was sometime Milan: quickly, spirit;
Thou shalt ere long be free.

August-17

The Rape of the Lock (Excerpts)
Alexander Pope (21 May 1688 – 30 May 1744)

Ye Sylphs and Sylphids, to your chief give ear!
Fays, Fairies, Genii, Elves, and Dæmons, hear!
Ye know the spheres and various tasks assign’d
By laws eternal to th’ aërial kind.
Some in the fields of purest Æther play,
And bask and whiten in the blaze of day.
Some guide the course of wand’ring orbs on high,
Or roll the planets thro’ the boundless sky.
Some less refin’d, beneath the moon’s pale light
Pursue the stars that shoot athwart the night,
Or suck the mists in grosser air below,
Or dip their pinions in the painted bow,
Or brew fierce tempests on the wintry main,
Or o’er the glebe distil the kindly rain.
Others on earth o’er human race preside,
Watch all their ways, and all their actions guide:
Of these the chief the care of Nations own,
And guard with Arms divine the British Throne.

Our humbler province is to tend the Fair,
Not a less pleasing, tho’ less glorious care;
To save the powder from too rude a gale,
Nor let th’ imprison’d-essences exhale;
To draw fresh colours from the vernal flow’rs;
To steal from rainbows e’er they drop in show’rs
A brighter wash; to curl their waving hairs,
Assist their blushes, and inspire their airs;
Nay oft, in dreams, invention we bestow,
To change a Flounce, or add a Furbelow.

Mr. Sheets (from “Black Beetles in Amber”)
Ambrose Bierce (24 June 1842 – 1914)

The Devil stood before the gate
Of Heaven. He had a single mate:
Behind him, in his shadow, slunk
Clay Sheets in a perspiring funk.
“Saint Peter, see this season ticket,”
Said Satan; “pray undo the wicket.”
The sleepy Saint threw slight regard
Upon the proffered bit of card,
Signed by some clerical dead-beats:
“Admit the bearer and Clay Sheets.”
Peter expanded all his eyes:
“‘Clay Sheets?’—well, I’ll be damned!” he cries.
“Our couches are of golden cloud;
Nothing of earth is here allowed.
I’ll let you in,” he added, shedding
On Nick a smile—”but not your bedding.”

July-17

Three Songs of Shattering
Edna St. Vincent Millay (22 February 1892 — 19 October 1950)

I

The first rose on my rose-tree
Budded, bloomed, and shattered,
During sad days when to me
Nothing mattered.
Grief of grief has drained me clean;
Still it seems a pity
No one saw,—it must have been
Very pretty.

II

Let the little birds sing;
Let the little lambs play;
Spring is here; and so ’tis spring;—
But not in the old way!
I recall a place
Where a plum-tree grew;
There you lifted up your face,
And blossoms covered you.
If the little birds sing,
And the little lambs play,
Spring is here; and so ’tis spring—
But not in the old way!

III

All the dog-wood blossoms are underneath the tree!
Ere spring was going—ah, spring is gone!
And there comes no summer to the like of you and me,—
Blossom time is early, but no fruit sets on.
All the dog-wood blossoms are underneath the tree,
Browned at the edges, turned in a day;
And I would with all my heart they trimmed a mound for me,
And weeds were tall on all the paths that led that way!

.

Lilacs
Amy Lowell (9 February 1874 — 12 May 1925)

Lilacs,
False blue,
White,
Purple,
Color of lilac,
Your great puffs of flowers
Are everywhere in this my New England.
Among your heart-shaped leaves
Orange orioles hop like music-box birds and sing
Their little weak soft songs;
In the crooks of your branches
The bright eyes of song sparrows sitting on spotted eggs
Peer restlessly through the light and shadow
Of all Springs.
Lilacs in dooryards
Holding quiet conversations with an early moon;
Lilacs watching a deserted house
Settling sideways into the grass of an old road;
Lilacs, wind-beaten, staggering under a lopsided shock of bloom
Above a cellar dug into a hill.
You are everywhere.
You were everywhere.
You tapped the window when the preacher preached his sermon,
And ran along the road beside the boy going to school.
You stood by pasture-bars to give the cows good milking,
You persuaded the housewife that her dish-pan was of silver
And her husband an image of pure gold.
You flaunted the fragrance of your blossoms
Through the wide doors of Custom Houses—
You, and sandal-wood, and tea,
Charging the noses of quill-driving clerks
When a ship was in from China.
You called to them: “Goose-quill men, goose-quill men,
May is a month for flitting,”
Until they writhed on their high stools
And wrote poetry on their letter-sheets behind the propped-up ledgers.
Paradoxical New England clerks,
Writing inventories in ledgers, reading the “Song of Solomon” at night,
So many verses before bedtime,
Because it was the Bible.
The dead fed you
Amid the slant stones of graveyards.
Pale ghosts who planted you
Came in the night time
And let their thin hair blow through your clustered stems.
You are of the green sea,
And of the stone hills which reach a long distance.
You are of elm-shaded streets with little shops where they sell kites and marbles,
You are of great parks where every one walks and nobody is at home.
You cover the blind sides of greenhouses
And lean over the top to say a hurry-word through the glass
To your friends, the grapes, inside.
Lilacs,
False blue,
White,
Purple,
Color of lilac,
You have forgotten your Eastern origin,
The veiled women with eyes like panthers,
The swollen, aggressive turbans of jeweled Pashas.
Now you are a very decent flower,
A reticent flower,
A curiously clear-cut, candid flower,
Standing beside clean doorways,
Friendly to a house-cat and a pair of spectacles,
Making poetry out of a bit of moonlight
And a hundred or two sharp blossoms.
Maine knows you,
Has for years and years;
New Hampshire knows you,
And Massachusetts
And Vermont.
Cape Cod starts you along the beaches to Rhode Island;
Connecticut takes you from a river to the sea.
You are brighter than apples,
Sweeter than tulips,
You are the great flood of our souls
Bursting above the leaf-shapes of our hearts,
You are the smell of all Summers,
The love of wives and children,
The recollection of the gardens of little children,
You are State Houses and Charters
And the familiar treading of the foot to and fro on a road it knows.
May is lilac here in New England,
May is a thrush singing “Sun up!” on a tip-top ash-tree,
May is white clouds behind pine-trees
Puffed out and marching upon a blue sky.
May is a green as no other,
May is much sun through small leaves,
May is soft earth,
And apple-blossoms,
And windows open to a South wind.
May is a full light wind of lilac
From Canada to Narragansett Bay.
Lilacs,
False blue,
White,
Purple,
Color of lilac,
Heart-leaves of lilac all over New England,
Roots of lilac under all the soil of New England,
Lilac in me because I am New England,
Because my roots are in it,
Because my leaves are of it,
Because my flowers are for it,
Because it is my country
And I speak to it of itself
And sing of it with my own voice
Since certainly it is mine.