po·e·sy n. pl. po·e·sies 1. Poetical works; poetry. 2. The art or practice of composing poems. 3. The inspiration involved in composing poetry. [Middle English poesie, from Old French, from Latin posis, from Greek poisis, from poiein, to create; see kwei-2 in Indo-European roots.]

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Monday, November 30, 2009

Nov. 30th - Sir Philip Sidney

Sir Philip Sidney November 30, 1554 – October 17, 1586

English poet, dashing courtier and soldier, Sidney was a well known figure during the Elizabethan age. Born into an aristocratic family, highly educated, he travelled widely and hoped to serve his queen in a political role. In 1583 he was knighted and received a position of importance in the Netherlands. An ardent Protestant, he proposed attacks against the Roman Catholic Church and Spain. In 1586 Sidney was wounded in the Battle of Zutphen against the Spanish and died twenty-six days later. He was thirty-one

He composed several long works from which the following are culled:


[Leave me, O love]

Leave me, O love which reachest but to dust ;
And thou, my mind, aspire to higher things ;
Grow rich in that which never taketh rust,
Whatever fades but fading pleasure brings.
Draw in thy beams, and humble all thy might
To that sweet yoke where lasting freedoms be ;
Which breaks the clouds and opens forth the light,
That doth both shine and give us sight to see.
O take fast hold ; let that light be thy guide
In this small course which birth draws out to death,
And think how evil becometh him to slide,
Who seeketh heav'n, and comes of heav'nly breath.
Then farewell, world ; thy uttermost I see ;
Eternal Love, maintain thy life in me.
Splendidis longum valedico nugis

[Ring out your bells]

Ring out your bells, let mourning shows be spread ;
For love is dead—
All love is dead, infected
With plague of deep disdain ;
Worth, as nought worth, rejected,
And Faith fair scorn doth gain.
From so ungrateful fancy,
From such a female franzy,
From them that use men thus,
Good Lord, deliver us!

Weep, neighbours, weep ; do you not hear it said
That Love is dead?
His death-bed, peacock's folly ;
His winding-sheet is shame;
His will, false-seeming holy ;
His sole exec'tor, blame.
From so ungrateful, &c.

Let the dirge be sung and trentals rightly read,
For Love is dead ;
Sir Wrong his tomb ordaineth
My mistress Marble-heart,
Which epitaph containeth,
Her eyes were once his dart.
From so ungrateful, &c.

Alas, I lie, rage hath this error bred ;
Love is not dead ;
Love is not dead, but sleepeth
In her unmatchëd mind,
Where she his counsel keepeth,
Till due desert she find.
Therefore from so vile fancy,
To call such wit a franzy,
Who Love can temper thus,
Good Lord, deliver us!

[The nightingale]

The nightingale, as soon as April bringeth
Unto her rested sense a perfect waking,
While late bare earth, proud of new clothing, springeth,
Sings out her woes, a thorn her song-book making,
And mournfully bewailing,
Her throat in tunes expresseth
What grief her breast oppresseth,
For Tereus' force on her chaste will prevailing.
O Philomela fair, O take some gladness,
That here is juster cause of plaintful sadness :
Thine earth now springs, mine fadeth ;
Thy thorn without, my thorn my heart invadeth.

Alas, she hath no other cause of anguish
But Tereus' love, on her by strong hand wroken,
Wherein she suffering, all her spirits languish ;
Full womanlike complains her will was broken.
But I, who daily craving,
Cannot have to content me,
Have more cause to lament me,
Since wanting is more woe than too much having.
O Philomela fair, O take some gladness,
That here is juster cause of plaintful sadness :
Thine earth now springs, mine fadeth ;
Thy thorn without, my thorn my heart invadeth.


WHO hath his fancy pleasèd
With fruits of happy sight;
Let here his eyes be raisèd,
On Nature's sweetest light;
A light which doth dissever
And yet unite the eyes,
A light which, dying never,
Is cause the looker dies.

She never dies, but lasteth
In life of lover's heart;
He ever dies that wasteth
In love his chiefest part:
Thus is her life still guarded
In never-dying faith;
Thus is his death rewarded,
Since she lives in his death.

Look then, and die! The pleasure
Doth answer well the pain:
Small loss of mortal treasure
Who may immortal gain!
Immortal be her graces,
Immortal is her mind;
They fit for heavenly places—
This, heaven in it doth bind.

But eyes these beauties see not,
Nor sense that grace descries;
Yet eyes deprivèd be not
From sight of her fair eyes—
Which, as of inward glory
They are the outward seal,
So may they live still sorry,
Which die not in that weal.

But who hath fancies pleasèd
With fruits of happy sight,
Let here his eyes be raisèd
On Nature's sweetest light!

Loving In Truth, And Fain In Verse My Love To Show

Loving in truth, and fain in verse my love to show,
That She, dear She, might take some pleasure of my pain,
—Pleasure might cause her read, reading might make her know,
Knowledge might pity win, and pity grace obtain—
I sought fit words to paint the blackest face of woe,
Studying inventions fine, her wits to entertain,
Oft turning others' leaves, to see if thence would flow
Some fresh and fruitful showers upon my sunburnt brain.
But words came halting forth, wanting Invention's stay;
Invention, Nature's child, fled step-dame Study's blows;
And others' feet still seemed but strangers in my way.
Thus, great with child to speak, and helpless in my throes,
Biting my truant pen, beating myself for spite—
"Fool!" said my Muse to me "look in thy heart, and write!"


Come Sleep; O Sleep! the certain knot of peace,
The baiting-place of wit, the balm of woe,
The poor man's wealth, the prisoner's release,
Th' indifferent judge between the high and low;
With shield of proof shield me from out the prease
Of those fierce darts Despair at me doth throw:
O make in me those civil wars to cease;
I will good tribute pay, if thou do so.
Take thou of me smooth pillows, sweetest bed,
A chamber deaf to noise and blind of light,
A rosy garland and a weary head;
And if these things, as being thine by right,
Move not thy heavy grace, thou shalt in me,
Livelier than elsewhere, Stella's image see.

To The Sad Moon

With how sad steps, O Moon, thou climb'st the skies!
How silently, and with how wan a face!
What! May it be that even in heavenly place
That busy archer his sharp arrows tries?
Sure, if that long-with-love-acquainted eyes
Can judge of love, thou feel'st a lover's case:
I read it in thy looks; thy languished grace
To me, that feel the like, thy state descries.
Then, even of fellowship, O Moon, tell me,
Is constant love deemed there but want of wit?
Are beauties there as proud as here they be?
Do they above love to be loved, and yet
Those lovers scorn whom that love doth possess?
Do they call 'virtue' there— ungratefulness?

--Sir Philip Sidney


Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Remembrance Day 2009

Poetry written soon after the end of war by those who fought is always the most poignant, and sometimes most angry.

Siegfried Sassoon (September 8, 1886 – September 1, 1967) a decorated soldier during WWI, is one of the celebrated English war poets. Disturbed by the death, destruction, and suffering in which he partook, he developed strong anti-war feelings reflected in many of his works.


by Siegfried Sassoon (1919)

Have you forgotten yet?...
For the world’s events have rumbled on since those gagged days,
Like traffic checked while at the crossing of city-ways:
And the haunted gap in your mind has filled with thoughts that flow
Like clouds in the lit heaven of life; and you’re a man reprieved to go,
Taking your peaceful share of Time, with joy to spare.

But the past is just the same-and War’s a bloody game...
Have you forgotten yet?...
Look down, and swear by the slain of the War that you’ll never forget.

Do you remember the dark months you held the sector at Mametz-
The nights you watched and wired and dug and piled sandbags on parapets?
Do you remember the rats; and the stench
Of corpses rotting in front of the front-line trench-
And dawn coming, dirty-white, and chill with a hopeless rain?
Do you ever stop and ask, ‘Is it all going to happen again?’

Do you remember that hour of din before the attack-
And the anger, the blind compassion that seized and shook you then
As you peered at the doomed and haggard faces of your men?
Do you remember the stretcher-cases lurching back
With dying eyes and lolling heads-those ashen-grey
Masks of the lads who once were keen and kind and gay?

Have you forgotten yet?...
Look up, and swear by the green of the spring that you’ll never forget.



You cannot simultaneously prevent and prepare for war.”
--Albert Einstein

In war, there are no unwounded soldiers.
--José Narosky

We make war that we may live in peace.
--Aristotle, 384 BC

Mankind must put an end to war, or war will put an end to mankind.
--John Fitzgerald Kennedy

War does not determine who is right - only who is left.
--Bertrand Russell

Nations have recently been led to borrow billions for war; no nation has ever borrowed largely for education. Probably, no nation is rich enough to pay for both war and civilization. We must make our choice; we cannot have both.
--Abraham Flexner

I recoil with horror at the ferociousness of man. Will nations never devise a more rational umpire of differences than force? Are there no means of coercing injustice more gratifying to our nature than a waste of the blood of thousands and of the labor of millions of our fellow creatures?
--Thomas Jefferson

Draft beer, not people.
--Attributed to Bob Dylan