Songs of Ourselves Vol:2

The Clod and the Pebble

William Blake

*Love seeketh not itself to please, Nor for itself hath any care,
But for another gives its ease, And builds a Heaven in Hell’s despair.

So sung a little Clod of Clay Trodden with the cattle’s feet, But a Pebble of the brook Warbled out these metres meet:

Love seeketh only sell to please, To bind another to its delight, Joys in another’s loss of ease, And builds a Hell in Heaven’s despite.

*Love seeketh not itself to please, Nor for itself hath any care,
But for another gives its ease, And builds a Heaven in Hell’s despair. So sung a little Clod of Clay Trodden with the cattle’s feet, But a Pebble of the brook Warbled out these metres meet: Love seeketh only sell to please, To bind another to its delight, Joys in another’s loss of ease, And builds a Hell in Heaven’s despite.

Passion

Kathleen Raine

Full of desire I lay, the sky wounding me, 

Bach cloud a ship without me sailing, each tree 

Possessing what my soul lacked, tranquillity. 

Waiting for the longed-for voice to speak 

Through the mute telephone, my body grew weak 

With the well-known and mortal death, heartbreak. 

The language I knew best, my human speech 

Forsook my fingers, and out of reach 

Were Homer’s ghosts, the savage conches of the beach. 

Then the sky spoke to me in language clear, 

Familiar as the heart, than love more near. 

The sky said to my soul, “You have what you desire. 

‘Know now that you are born along with these 

Clouds, winds, and stars, and ever-moving seas 

And forest dwellers. This your nature is. 

Lift up your heart again without fear, 

Sleep in the tomb, or breathe the living air, 

This world you with the flower and with the tiger share.’ 

Then I saw every visible substance turn 

Into immortal, every cell new born 

Burned with the holy fire of passion. 

This world I saw as on her judgment day 

When the war ends, and the sky rolls away, 

And all is light, love and eternity.

Winter Song

Elizabeth Tollet

Ask me no more, my truth to prove, 

What I would suffer for my love. 

With thee I would in exile go 

To regions of eternal snow, 

O’er floods by solid ice confined, 

Through forest bare with northern wind: 

While all around my eyes I cast, 

Where all is wild and all is waste. 

If there the tim’rous stag you chase, 

Or rouse to fight a fiercer race, 

Undaunted I thy arms would bear, 

And give thy hand the hunter’s spear. 

When the low sun withdraws his light, 

And menaces an half-year’s night, 

The conscious moon and stars above 

Shall guide me with my wand ring love. 

Beneath the mountain’s hollow brow, 

Or in its rocky cells below, 

Thy rural feast I would provide, 

Nor envy palaces their pride. 

The softest moss should dress thy bed, 

With savage spoils about thee spread: 

While faithful love the watch should keep, 

To banish danger from thy sleep.

Love (III)

George Herbert

Love bade me welcome: yet my soul drew back, 

Guilty of dust and sin. 

But quick-eyed Love, observing me grow slack 

From my first entrance in, 

Drew nearer to me, sweetly questioning, 

If I lacked anything. 

A guest, I answered, worthy to be here: 

Love said, You shall be he. 

I the unkind, ungrateful? Ah my dear, 

I cannot look on thee. 

Love took my hand, and smiling did reply, 

Who made the eyes but I? 

Truth Lord, but I have marred them: let my shame 

Go where it doth deserve. 

And know you not, says Love, who bore the blame? 

My dear, then I will serve. 

You must sit down, says Love, and taste my meat: 

So I did sit and eat. 

FINIS. 

Glory be to God on high, and on earth 

peace, good will towards men.

‘She was a Phantom of Delight

William Wordsworth

She was a Phantom of delight 

When first she gleamed upon my sight; 

A lovely Apparition, sent 

To be a moment’s ornament; 

Her eyes as stars of Twilight fair; 

Like Twilight’s, too, her dusky hair; 

But all things else about her drawn 

From May-time and the cheerful Dawn: 

A dancing Shape, an Image gay, 

To haunt, to startle, and way-lay. 

I saw her upon nearer view, 

A Spirit, yet a Woman too! 

Her household motions light and free, 

And steps of virgin liberty; 

A countenance in which did meet 

Sweet records, promises as sweet; 

A Creature not too bright or good 

For human nature’s daily food: 

For transient sorrows, simple wiles, 

Praise, blame, love, kisses, tears, and smiles. 

And now I see with eye serene 

The very pulse of the machine; 

A Being breathing thoughtful breath, 

A Traveller betwixt life and death: 

The reason firm, the temperate will. 

Endurance, foresight, strength and skill; 

A perfect Woman; nobly planned, 

To warn, to comfort, and command: 

And yet a Spirit still, and bright 

With something of an angel light. 

Surplus Value

David C.Ward

My Michigan brother-in-law was a tool and die guy, 

A machinist, fabricating parts in shops supplying Big Three 

Auto makers. A bantam with thick fingers, scarred hands 

He rode a Harley soft-tail, drank Iron City, and lived 

With his wife and kids in a house he mostly built himself. 

During the heyday of Detroit metal. overtime and union 

Contracts paid for steaks and a cabin on an upstate lake 

For summer vacations and deer season hunting trips 

In the fall. He took his pride from his craft and skill 

Building something bigger than the Fords or Chevys 

He pushed on down the line for America to drive. 

For twenty years of work, good times, and happy with it 

But that road ran out. The union went south first 

(pension fraud; indictments; prison terms) and then 

The companies and their money men slashed and burned 

Their way through labor and its costs in search of market 

Share. The work was sweated from the men for less and less return. 

From economy of scale, to one of scarcity: subcontracting, piecework, 

Ultimatelv the dole replaced a steady pay check and a bonus 

Twice a year. The Harley went and then the cabin; food stamps 

Bought essentials, nothing more. Always quiet, he grew quieter 

From day to week to month to the years that stretched ahead, 

Bowing his neck each day as the scars grew deeper now, and inward. 

During the boom that no one thought would ever end, 

Heedless the factories flushed their waste straight into 

The Saginaw River, so much so that it never iced, even 

In the depths of winter. Now it’s frozen all year long.

Father Returning Home

Dilip Chitre

My father travels on the late evening train 

Standing among silent commuters in the yellow light 

Suburbs slide past his unseeing eyes 

His shirt and pants are soggy and his black raincoat 

Stained with mud and his bag stuffed with books 

Is falling apart. His eyes dimmed by age 

fade homeward through the humid monsoon night. 

Now I can see him getting off the train 

Like a word dropped from a long sentence. 

He hurries across the length of the grey platform, 

Crosses the railway line, enters the lane, 

His chappals are sticky with mud, but he hurries onward. 

Home again, I see him drinking weak tea, 

Eating a stale chapati, reading a book. 

He goes into the toilet to contemplate 

Man’s estrangement from a man-made world. 

Coming out he trembles at the sink, 

The cold water running over his brown hands, 

A few droplets cling to the greying hairs on his wrists. 

His sullen children have often refused to share 

Jokes and secrets with him. He will now go to sleep 

Listening to the static on the radio, dreaming 

Of his ancestors and grandchildren, thinking 

Of nomads entering a subcontinent through a narrow pass.

In the Park

Gwen Harwood

She sits in the park. Her clothes are out of date. 

Two children whine and bicker, tug her skirt. 

A third draws aimless patterns in the dirt. 

Someone she loved once passes by – too late 

to feign indifference to that casual nod. 

“How nice, 

“ etcetera. “Time holds great surprises.” 

From his neat head unquestionably rises 

a small balloon … “but for the grace of God ..” 

They stand a while in flickering light, rehearsing 

the children’s names and birthdays. 

“It’s so sweet 

to hear their chatter, watch them grow and thrive,” 

she says to his departing smile. Then, nursing 

the youngest child, sits staring at her feet. 

To the wind she says. 

“They have eaten me alive.”

The Lost Woman

Patricia Beer

My mother went with no more warning 

than a bright voice and a bad pain, 

Home from school on a June morning 

And where the brook goes under the lane 

I saw the back of a shocking white 

Ambulance drawing away from the gate. 

She never returned and I never saw 

Her buried. So a romance began. 

The ivy-mother turned into a tree 

That still hops away like a rainbow down 

The avenue as I approach. 

My tendrils are the ones that clutch. 

I made a life for her over the years. 

Frustrated no more by a dull marriage 

She ran a canteen through several wars. 

The wit of a cliché-ridden village 

She met her match at an extra-mural 

Class and the OU summer school, 

Many a hero in his time 

And every poet has acquired 

A lost woman to haunt the home. 

To be compensated and desired. 

Who will not alter, who will not grow. 

A corpse they need never get to know. 

She is nearly always benign. Her habit 

Is not to stride at dead of night. 

Soft and crepuscular in rabbit- 

Light she comes out. Hear how they hate 

Themselves for losing her as they did. 

Her country is bland and she does not chide. 

But my lost woman evermore snaps 

From somewhere else: ‘you did not love me. 

I sacrificed too much perhaps, 

I showed you the way to rise above me 

And you took it. You are the ghost 

With the bat-voice, my dear. / am not lost.’ 

Stabat Mater

Sam Hunt

My mother called my father Mr Hunt’ 

For the first few years of married life. 

I learned this from a book she had inscribed: 

“To dear Mr Hunt, from his loving wife 

She was embarrassed when I asked her why 

But later on explained how hard it had been 

To call him any other name at first, when he 

Her father’s elder – made her seem so small. 

Now in a different way, still like a girl, 

She calls my father every other sort of name; 

And guiding him as he roams old age 

Sometimes turns to me as if it were a game . 

That once I stand up straight, I too must learn 

To walk away and know there’s no return.

Australia 1970

Judith Wright

Die, wild country, like the eaglehawk. 

dangerous till the last breath’s gone, 

clawing and striking. Die 

cursing your captor through a raging eye. 

Die like the tigersnake 

that hisses such pure hatred from its pain 

as fills the killer’s dreams 

with fear like suicide’s invading stain. 

Suffer, wild country, like the ironwood 

that gaps the dozer-blade. 

I see your living soil ebb with the tree 

to naked poverty. 

Die like the soldier-ant 

mindless and faithful to your million years. 

Though we corrupt you with our torturing mind, 

stay obstinate; stay blind. 

For we are conquerors and self-poisoners 

more than scorpion or snake 

and dying of the venoms that we make 

even while you die of us. 

I praise the scoring drought, the flying dust, 

the drying creek, the furious animal, 

that they oppose us still; 

that we are ruined by the thing we kill.

Description of Spring

Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey

The soote season, that bud and bloom forth brings, 

With green hath clad the hill, and eke the vale. 

The nightingale with feathers new she sings; 

The turtle to her make hath told her tale. 

Summer is come, for every spray now springs, 

The hart hath hung his old head on the pale; 

The buck in brake his winter coat he slings; 

The fishes flete with new repairèd scale; 

The adder all her slough away she slings; 

The swift swallow pursueth the fliès smale; 

The busy bee her honey now she mings; 

Winter is worn that was the flowers’ bale. 

And thus I see among these pleasant things 

Each care decays, and yet my sorrow springs!

The Spring

Thomas Carew

Now that the winter’s gone, the earth hath lost 

Her snow-white robes; and now no more the frost 

Candies the grass, or casts an icy cream 

Upon the silver lake or crystal stream: 

But the warm sun thaws the benumbed earth, 

And makes it tender; gives a sacred birth 

To the dead swallow; wakes in hollow tree 

The drowsy cuckoo and the humble-bee. 

Now do a choir of chirping minstrels bring, 

In triumph to the world, the youthful spring: 

The valleys, hills, and woods in rich array 

Welcome the coming of the long’d-for May. 

Now all things smile: only my love doth lower, 

Nor hath the scalding noon-day sun the power 

To melt that marble ice, which still doth hold 

Her heart congeal’d, and makes her pity cold. 

The ox, which lately did for shelter fly 

Into the stall, doth now securely lie 

In open fields; and love no more is made 

By the fire-side, but in the cooler shade. 

Amyntas now doth with his Chloris sleep 

Under a sycamore, and all things keep 

Time with the season: only she doth carry 

June in her eyes, in her heart January.

The Buck in the Snow

Edna St Vincent Millay

White sky, over the hemlocks bowed with snow, 

Saw you not at the beginning of evening the antlered buck and his doe 

Standing in the apple-orchard? I saw them. I saw them suddenly go, 

Tails up, with long leaps lovely and slow, 

Over the stone-wall into the wood of hemlocks bowed with snow. 

Now he lies here, his wild blood scalding the snow. 

How strange a thing is death, bringing to his knees, bringing to his antlers 

The buck in the snow. 

How strange a thing, – a mile away by now, it may be, 

Under the heavy hemlocks that as the moments pass 

Shift their loads a little, letting fall a feather of snow 

Life, looking out attentive from the eyes of the doe.

The Darkling Thrush

Thomas Hardy

I leant upon a coppice gate 

When Frost was spectre-gray, 

And Winter’s dregs made desolate 

The weakening eye of day. 

The tangled bine-stems scored the sky 

Like strings of broken lyres, 

And all mankind that haunted nigh 

Had sought their household fires. 

The land’s sharp features seemed to be 

The Century’s corpse outleant, 

His crypt the cloudy canopy, 

The wind his death-lament. 

The ancient pulse of germ and birth 

Was shrunken hard and dry, 

And every spirit upon earth 

Seemed fervourless as I. 

At once a voice arose among 

The bleak twigs overhead 

In a full hearted evensong 

Of joy illimited; 

An aged thrush, frail, gaunt and small, 

In blast-beruffled plume, 

Had chosen thus to fling his soul 

Upon the growing gloom. 

So little cause for carolings 

Of such ecstatic sound 

Was written on terrestrial things 

Afar or nigh around, 

That I could think there trembled through 

His happy good-night air 

Some blessed Hope, whereof he knew 

And I was unaware. 

Eel Tail

Alice Oswald

sometimes you see mudfish, 

those short lead lengths of eels 

that hide at low tide 

those roping and wagging, 

preliminary, pre-world creatures, cousins of the moon, 

who love blackness, aloofness, 

always move under cover of the unmoon 

and then as soon as you see them 

gone 

untranslatable hissed interruptions 

unspeakable wide chapped lips 

it’s the wind again 

cursing the water and when it clears 

you keep looking and looking for those 

underlurkers, uncontrolled little eddies. 

when you lever their rooves up 

they lie limbless hairless 

like the bends of some huge plumbing system 

sucking and sucking the marshes and 

sometimes its just a smirk of ripples 

and then as soon as you see them 

gone 

untranslatable hissed interruptions 

unspeakable wide chapped lips 

it’s the wind again 

bothering the reeds and when it clears 

you keep looking and looking for those 

backlashes waterwicks 

you keep finding those sea-veins still 

flowing, little cables of shadow, vanishing 

dream-lines long roots of the penumbra 

but they just drill down into gravel and 

dwindle as quick as drips 

and then as soon as you see them 

gone 

untranslatable hissed interruptions 

unspeakable wide chapped lips 

it’s the wind again 

pushing on your ears and when it clears 

sometimes you see that whip-thin 

tail of a waning moon start 

burrowing back into blackness 

and then as soon as you see her 

and then as soon as you say so 

gone 

The Storm-Wind

William Barnes

When the swift-rolling brook, swollen deep, 

Rushes on by the alders, full speed, 

And the wild-blowing winds lowly sweep 

O’er the quivering leaf and the weed, 

And the willow tree writhes in each limb 

Over sedge-beds that reel by the brim- 

The man that is staggering by 

Holds his hat to his head by the brim; 

And the girl as her hair-locks outfly, 

Puts a foot out, to keep herself trim, 

And the quivering wavelings o’erspread 

The small pool where the bird dips his head. 

But out at my house, in the lee 

Of the nook, where the winds die away, 

The light swimming airs, round the tree 

And the low-swinging ivy stem, play 

So soft that a mother that’s nigh 

Her still cradle, may hear her babe sigh.

The Sea and the Hills

Rudyard Kipling

Who hath desired the Sea? – the sight of salt water unbounded 

The heave and the halt and the hurl and the crash of the comber wind-

hounded? 

The sleek-barrelled swell before storm, grey, foamless, enormous, and 

growing 

Stark calm on the lap of the Line or the crazy-eyed hurricane blowing 

His Sea in no showing the same his Sea and the same ‘neath each 

showing: 

His Sea as she slackens or thrills? 

So and no otherwise – so and no otherwise – hillmen desire their 

Hills! 

Who hath desired the Sea? – the immense and contemptuous surges? 

The shudder, the stumble, the swerve, as the star-stabbing bowsprit 

emerges? 

The orderly clouds of the Trades, the ridged, roaring sapphire 

thereunder 

Unheralded cliff-haunting flaws and the headsail’s low-volleying 

thunder. 

His Sea in no wonder the same his Sea and the same through each 

wonder: 

His Sea as she rages or stills? 

So and no otherwise – so and no otherwise – hillmen desire their 

Hills. 

Who hath desired the Sea? Her menaces swift as her mercies? 

The in-rolling walls of the fog and the silver-winged breeze that 

disperses? 

The unstable mined berg going South and the calvings and groans that 

declare it 

White water half-guessed overside and the moon breaking timely to 

bare it 

His Sea as his fathers have dared – his Sea as his children shall dare it: 

His Sea as she serves him or kills? 

So and no otherwise – so and no otherwise – hillmen desire their Hills, 

Who hath desired the Sea? Her excellent loneliness rather 

Than forecourts of kings, and her outermost pits than the streets 

where men gather 

Inland, among dust, under trees – inland where the slayer may slay 

him 

Inland, out of reach of her arms, and the bosom whereon he must lay 

him 

His Sea from the first that betrayed – at the last that shall never betray 

him: 

His Sea that his being fulfils? 

So and no otherwise – so and no otherwise – hillmen desire their Hills. 

Blessing

Imtiaz Dharker

The skin cracks like a pod. 

There never is enough water. 

Imagine the drip of it, 

the small splash, echo 

in a tin mug, 

the voice of a kindly god. 

Sometimes, the sudden rush 

of fortune. The municipal pipe bursts, 

silver crashes to the ground 

and the flow has found 

a roar of tongues. From the huts, 

a congregation: every man woman 

child for streets around 

butts in, with pots, 

brass, copper, aluminium, 

plastic buckets, 

frantic hands, 

and naked children 

screaming in the liquid sun, 

their highlights polished to perfection, 

flashing light, 

as the blessing sings 

over their small bones.

The Stars Go Over the Lonely Ocean

Robinson Jeffers

Unhappy about some far-off things 

That are not my affair, wandering 

Along the coast and up the lean ridges, 

I saw in the evening 

The stars go over the lonely ocean, 

And a black-maned wild boar 

Plowing with his snout on Mal Paso Mountain. 

The old monster snuffled. “Here are sweet roots, 

Fat grubs, slick beetles and sprouted acorns. 

The best nation in Europe has fallen, 

And that is Finland, 

But the stars go over the lonely ocean,” 

The old black-bristled boar, 

Tearing the sod on Mal Paso Mountain. 

“The world’s in a bad way, my man, 

And bound to be worse before it mends: 

Better lie up in the mountain here 

Four or five centuries. 

While the stars go over the lonely ocean,” 

Said the old father of wild pigs, 

Plowing the fallow on Mal Paso Mountain. 

“Keep clear of the dupes that talk democracy 

And the dogs that talk revolution, 

Drunk with talk, liars and believers. 

I believe in my tusks. 

Long live freedom and damn the ideologies,” 

Said the gamey black-maned wild boar 

Tusking the turf on Mal Paso Mountain.

The Road

Nancy Fotheringham Cato

I made the rising moon go back 

behind the shouldering hill, 

I raced along the eastern track 

till time itself stood still. 

The stars swarmed on behind the trees, 

but I sped fast at they, 

I could have made the sun arise, 

and night turn back to day. 

And like a long black carpet 

behind the wheels, the night 

unrolled across the countryside, 

but all ahead was bright. 

The fence-posts whizzed along wires 

like days that fly too fast, 

and telephone poles loomed up like years 

and slipped into the past. 

And light and movement, sky and road 

and life and time were one, 

while through the night I rushed and sped, 

I drove towards the sun.

Who in One Lifetime

Muriel Rukeyser

Who in one lifetime sees all causes lost, 

Herself dismayed and helpless, cities down, 

Love made monotonous fear and the sad-faced 

Inexorable armies and the falling plane, 

Has sickness, sickness. Introspective and whole. 

She knows how several madnesses are born, 

Seeing the integrated never fighting well, 

The flesh too vulnerable, the eyes tear-torn. 

She finds a pre-surrender on all sides: 

Treaty before the war, ritual impatience turn 

The camps of ambush to chambers of imagery. 

She holds belief in the world, she stays and hides 

Life in her own defeat, stands, though her whole world burn 

A childless goddess of fertility.

The Hour is Come

Louisa Lawson

How did she fight? She fought well. 

How did she light? Ah, she fell. 

Why did she fall? God, who knows all, 

Only can tell. 

Those she was fighting for – they 

Surely would go to her? Nay! 

What of her pain! Theirs is the gain 

Ever the way. 

Will they not help her to rise 

If there is death in her eyes? 

Can you not see? She made them free. 

What if she dies? 

Can we not help her? Oh, no! 

In her good fight it is so 

That all who work never must shirk 

Suff ring and woe. 

But she’ll not ever lie down 

On her head, in the dust, is a crown 

Jewelled and bright, under whose light 

She’ll rise alone.

an afternoon nap

Arthur Yap

the ambitious mother across the road 

is at it again. proclaiming her goodness 

she beats the boy. shouting out his wrongs, with raps 

she begins with his mediocre report-book grades. 

she strikes chords for the afternoon piano lesson, 

her voice stridently imitates 2nd. lang. tuition, 

all the while circling the cowering boy 

in a manner apt for the most strenuous p.e. ploy. 

swift are all her contorted movements, 

ape for every need; no soft gradient 

of a consonant-vowel figure, she lumbers 

& shrieks, a hit for every 2 notes missed. 

his tears are dear, each monday, 

wednesday, friday, miss low & madam lim 

appear & take away $90 from the kitty 

leaving him an adagio, clause analysis, little 

pocket-money. 

the embittered boy across the road 

is at it again. proclaiming his bewilderment 

he yells at her shouting out her wrongs, with tears 

he begins with her expensive taste for education,

From The Complaints of Poverty

Nicolas James

When winter’s rage upon the cottage falls, 

And the wind rushes through the gaping walls, 

When ninepence must their daily wants supply, 

With hunger pinched and cold, the children cry; 

The gathered sticks but little warmth afford. 

And half-supplied the platter meets the board. 

Returned at night, if wholesome viands fail, 

He from the pipe extracts a smoky meal: 

And when, to gather strength and still his woes, 

He seeks his last redress in soft repose, 

The tattered blanket, erst the fleas retreat, 

Denies his shiv’ring limbs sufficient heat; 

Teased with the squalling babes’ nocturnal cries, 

He restless on the dusty pillow lies. 

But when pale sickness wounds with direful blow, 

Words but imperfectly his mis’ry show; 

Unskilful how to treat the fierce disease, 

Well-meaning ignorance curtails our days. 

In a dark room and miserable bed 

Together lie the living and the dead. 

Oh shocking scene! Fate sweeps whole tribes away, 

And frees the parish of th’ reluctant pay! 

Where’s the physician now, whom heav’n ordains 

Fate to arrest, and check corroding pains? 

Or he’s detained by those of high degree, 

Or won’t prescribe without a golden fee. 

But should old age bring on its rev’rend hoar, 

When strength decayed admits his toil no more, 

He begs itinerant, with halting pace, 

And, mournful, tells his melancholy case, 

With meagre cheek and formidable beard, 

A tattered dress of various rags prepared 

Base covetise, who wants the soul to give, 

Directs the road where richer neighbours live: 

And pride, unmindful of its parent dust, 

Scares with the dungeon and the whipping-post. 

A Long Journey

Musaemura Zimunya

Through decades that ran like rivers 

endless rivers of endless woes 

through pick and shovel sjambok and jail 

O such a long long journey 

When the motor-car came 

the sledge and the ox-cart began to die 

but for a while the bicycle made in Britain 

was the dream of every village boy 

With the arrival of the bus 

the city was brought into the village 

and we began to yearn for the place behind the horizons 

Such a long travail it was 

a long journey from bush to concrete 

And now I am haunted by the cave dwelling 

hidden behind eighteen ninety 

threatening my new-found luxury 

in this the capital city of my mother country 

I fight in nightmarish vain 

but my road runs and turns into dusty gravel 

into over-beaten foot tracks that lead 

to a plastic hut and soon to a mud-grass dwelling 

threatened by wind and rain and cold 

We have fled from witches and wizards 

on a long long road to the city 

but behind the halo of tower lights 

I hear the cry from human blood 

and wicked bones rattling around me 

We moved into the lights 

but from the dark periphery behind 

an almighty hand reaches for our shirts.