POESY

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, January 25, 2010

January 25th - Robert Burns

And so once again it's January 25th, a special day for people of Scottish descent all over the world, and for all of us honorary Scots who will salute this poet on his birthday.

I started this blog on January 25th, 2006, with a poem by Burns. So it's the blog's birthday, too.



Robert Burns January 25, 1759 – July 21, 1796

Considered national poet of Scotland, Burns, son of a poor farmer, received his education mainly at home, then from a tutor. A voracious learner, he wrote his first poem at fifteen. In 1786 he published Poems, Chiefly in the Scottish dialect, which brought him instant fame, but alas no fortune. In the 1790s his sympathies with the French Revolution and for English reformers alienated many of his friends. His rough early life, it is said, contributed to his death of heart failure at age 37.

He lived hard, imbibed much, died young, and certainly left a beautiful memory.


For a translation of Scottish terms check the glossary

Poetry by Robert Burns


Address to a Haggis.

Fair fa' your honest, sonsie face,
Great chieftain o the puddin'-race!
Aboon them a' ye tak your place,
Painch, tripe, or thairm:
Weel are ye wordy of a grace
As lang's my arm.

The groaning trencher there ye fill,
Your hurdies like a distant hill,
Your pin wad help to mend a mill
In time o need,
While thro your pores the dews distil
Like amber bead.

His knife see rustic Labour dight,
An cut you up wi ready slight,
Trenching your gushing entrails bright,
Like onie ditch;
And then, O what a glorious sight,
Warm-reekin, rich!

Then, horn for horn, they stretch an strive:
Deil tak the hindmost, on they drive,
Till a' their weel-swall'd kytes belyve
Are bent like drums;
The auld Guidman, maist like to rive,
'Bethankit' hums.

Is there that owre his French ragout,
Or olio that wad staw a sow,
Or fricassee wad mak her spew
Wi perfect sconner,
Looks down wi sneering, scornfu view
On sic a dinner?

Poor devil! see him owre his trash,
As feckless as a wither'd rash,
His spindle shank a guid whip-lash,
His nieve a nit:
Thro bloody flood or field to dash,
O how unfit!

But mark the Rustic, haggis-fed,
The trembling earth resounds his tread,
Clap in his walie nieve a blade,
He'll make it whissle;
An legs an arms, an heads will sned,
Like taps o thrissle.

Ye Pow'rs, wha mak mankind your care,
And dish them out their bill o fare,
Auld Scotland wants nae skinking ware
That jaups in luggies:
But, if ye wish her gratefu prayer,
Gie her a Haggis!


I Dream'd I Lay


I dream'd I lay where flowers were springing
Gaily in the sunny beam;
List'ning to the wild birds singing,
By a falling crystal stream:
Straight the sky grew black and daring;
Thro' the woods the whirlwinds rave;
Tress with aged arms were warring,
O'er the swelling drumlie wave.

Such was my life's deceitful morning,
Such the pleasures I enjoyed:
But lang or noon, loud tempests storming
A' my flowery bliss destroy'd.
Tho' fickle fortune has deceiv'd me-
She promis'd fair, and perform'd but ill,
Of mony a joy and hope bereav'd me-
I bear a heart shall support me still.


Fareweel To A'Our Scottish Fame

Fareweel to a' our Scottish fame,
Fareweel our ancient glory;
Fareweel ev'n to the Scottish name,
Sae famed in martial story!
Now Sark rins over Solway sands,
And Tweed rins to the ocean,
To mark where England's province stands—
Such a parcel of rogues in a nation!

What force or guile could not subdue
Thro' many warlike ages,
Is wrought now by a coward few,
For hireling traitor's wages.
The English steel we could disdain,
Secure in valour's station;
But English gold has been our bane—
Such a parcel of rogues in a nation!

O, would or I had seen the day
That treason thus could sell us,
My auld grey head had lien in clay
Wi' Bruce and loyal Wallace!
But pith and power, till my last hour,
I'll mak this declaration:
We're bought and sold for English gold—
Such a parcel of rogues in a nation!


Highland Mary

Ye banks and braes and streams around
The castle o' Montgomery,
Green be your woods, and fair your flowers,
Your waters never drumlie!
There simmer first unfauld her robes,
And there the langest tarry;
For there I took the last fareweel
O' my sweet Highland Mary.

How sweetly bloomed the gay green birk,
How rich the hawthorn's blossom,
As underneath their fragrant shade
I clasped her to my bosom!
The golden hours on angel wings
Flew o'er me and my dearie;
For dear to me as light and life
Was my sweet Highland Mary.

Wi' mony a vow and locked embrace
Our parting was fu' tender;
And, pledging aft to meet again,
We tore oursels asunder;
But, O, fell Death's untimely frost,
That nipt my flower sae early!
Now green's the sod, and cauld's the clay,
That wraps my Highland Mary!

O pale, pale now, those rosy lips
I aft hae kissed sae fondly;
And closed for aye the sparkling glance
That dwelt on me sae kindly;
And mouldering now in silent dust
That heart that lo'ed me dearly!
But still within my bosom's core
Shall live my Highland Mary.


A Man's A Man for A' That.

Is there for honest poverty
That hings his head, an a' that?
The coward slave, we pass him by -
We dare be poor for a' that!
For a' that, an a' that,
Our toils obscure, an a' that,
The rank is but the guinea's stamp,
The man's the gowd for a' that.

What though on hamely fare we dine,
Wear hoddin grey, an a' that?
Gie fools their silks, and knaves their wine -
A man's a man for a' that.
For a' that, an a' that.
Their tinsel show, an a' that,
The honest man, tho e'er sae poor,
Is king o men for a' that.

Ye see you birkie ca'd 'a lord,'
What struts, an stares, an a' that?
Tho hundreds worship at his word,
He's but a cuif for a' that.
For a' that, an a' that,
His ribband, star, an a' that,
The man o independent mind,
He looks an laughs at a' that.

A prince can mak a belted knight,
A marquis, duke, an a' that!
But an honest man's aboon his might -
Guid faith, he mauna fa' that!
For a' that, an a' that,
Their dignities, an a' that,
The pith o sense an pride o worth.
Are higher rank than a' that.

Then let us pray that come it may
[As come it will for a' that],
That Sense and Worth o'er a' the earth,
Shall bear the gree an a' that.
For a' that, an a' that,
It's comin yet for a' that,
That man to man, the world, o'er
Shall brithers be for a' that.


O, My Luve is Like a Red Red Rose.

O, my luve is like a red, red rose,
That's newly sprung in June.
O, my luve is like a melodie,
That's sweetly play'd in tune.

As fair art thou, my bonie lass,
So deep in luve am I,
And I will luve thee still, my dear,
Till a' the seas gang dry.

Till a' the seas gang dry, my dear,
And the rocks melt wi the sun!
And I will luve thee still, my dear,
While the sands o life shall run.

And fare thee weel, my only luve!
And fare thee weel, a while!
And I will come again, my luve,
Tho it were ten thousand mile!


Afton Water

Flow gently, sweet Afton, among thy green braes,
Flow gently, I'll sing thee a song in thy praise;
My Mary's asleep by thy murmuring stream,
Flow gently, sweet Afton, disturb not her dream.

Thou stock-dove, whose echo resounds thro' the glen,
Ye wild whistling blackbirds in yon thorny den,
Thou green-crested lapwing, thy screaming forbear,
I charge you disturb not my slumbering fair.

How lofty, sweet Afton, thy neighbouring hills,
Far mark'd with the courses of clear winding rills;
There daily I wander as noon rises high,
My flocks and my Mary's sweet cot in my eye.

How pleasant thy banks and green valleys below,
Where wild in the woodlands the primroses blow;
There oft, as mild Ev'ning sweeps over the lea,
The sweet-scented birk shades my Mary and me.

Thy crystal stream, Afton, how lovely it glides,
And winds by the cot where my Mary resides,
How wanton thy waters her snowy feet lave,
As gathering sweet flowrets she stems thy clear wave.

Flow gently, sweet Afton, among thy green braes,
Flow gently, sweet river, the theme of my lays;
My Mary's asleep by thy murmuring stream,
Flow gently, sweet Afton, disturb not her dream.


--Cat

Sunday, January 17, 2010

January 17th - Benjamin Franklin


Benjamin Franklin January 17, 1706 - April 17, 1790

One of the Founding Fathers of the United States of America, Franklin signed both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. Through his long colorful life he was at various times an editor, printer, merchant, writer, scientist, inventor, soldier, activist, politician, postmaster, diplomat, philanthropist, and demonstrated his genius at solving problems with innumerable practical inventions and thorough investigation. Drawing on his Puritan background and his own values, which included hard work, education, thrift, honesty, charity, temperance, community spirit, tolerance, devotion to egalitarianism, he greatly influenced his fellow Americans when the new country was seeking an identity.

He died at age 84 in Philadelphia. 20,000 people attended his funeral.


Poetry by Benjamin Franklin


THE BENEFIT OF GOING TO LAW

Two beggars traveling along,
One blind, the other lame.
Pick'd up an oyster on the way,
To which they both laid claim:
The matter rose so high, that they
Resolv'd to go to law,
As often richer fools have done,
Who quarrel for a straw.
A lawyer took it straight in hand,
Who knew his business was
To mind nor one nor t'other side,
But make the best o' the cause,
As always in the law's the case;
So he his judgment gave,
And lawyer-like he thus resolv'd
What each of them should have;
Blind plaintif, lame defendant, share
The friendly laws impartial care,
A shell for him, a shell for thee,
The middle is the lawyer's fee.

1733



DEATH IS A FISHERMAN

Death is a fisherman, the world we see
His fish-pond is, and we the fishes be;
His net some general sickness; howe'er he
Is not so kind as other fishers be;
For if they take one of the smaller fry,
They throw him in again, he shall not die:
But death is sure to kill all he can get,
And all is fish with him that comes to net.

1733.



WEDLOCK

Wedlock, as old men note, hath likened been,
Unto a public crowd or common rout;
Where those that are without would fain get in,
And those that are within, would fain get out.
Grief often treads upon the heels of pleasure,
Marry'd in haste, we oft repent at leisure;
Some by experience find these words missplaced,
Marry'd at leisure, they repent in haste.

1734.



EQUIVOCATION


Some have learn't many tricks of sly evasion,
Instead of truth they use equivocation,
And eke it out with mental reservation,
Which, to good men, is an abomination.
Our smith of late most wonderfully swore,
That whilst he breathed he would drink no more,
But since, I know his meaning, for I think,
He meant he would not breathe whilst he did drink.

1736.



HE WHO 'D PLEASE ALL

Once on a Time it by Chance came to pass,
That a Man and his Son were leading an Ass.
Cries a Passenger, Neighbor, you're shrewdly put to 't,
To lead an Ass empty, and trudge it on foot.
Nay, quoth the old Fellow, if Folk do so mind us
I'll e'en climb the Ass, and Boy mount behind us:
But as they jogg'd on they were laugh't and hisse'd,
What, two booby Lubbers on one sorry Beast!
This is such a Figure as never was known;
'T is a sign that the Ass is none of your own.
Then down gets the Boy, and walks by the Side,
Till another cries, What, you old Fool must you ride?
When you see the poor Child that 's weakly and young
Forc'd thro' thick and thin to trudge it along,
Then down gets the Father, and up gets the Son;
If this cannot please them we ne'er shall have done.
They had not gone far, but a Woman cries out,
O you young graceless Imp, you'll be hang'd, no doubt!
Must you ride an Ass, and your Father that's grey
E'en foot it, and pick out the best of his Way?
So now to please all they but one Trick lack,
And that was to carry the Ass a pick pack:
But when that was try'd, it appear'd such a Jest,
It occasioned more Laughter by half than the rest.
Thus he who 'd please all, and their Good liking gain,
Shows a deal Good Nature, but labours in vain.

1743



ON THE FREEDOM OF THE PRESS

While free from Force the Press remains,
Virtue and Freedom chear our Plains,
And Learning Largesses bestows,
And keeps unlicens'd open House.
We to the Nation's publick Mart
Our Works of Wit, and Schemes of Art,
And philosophic Goods, this Way,
Like Water carriage, cheap convey.
This Tree which Knowledge so affords,
Inquisitors with flaming swords
From Lay-Approach with Zeal defend,
Lest their own Paradise should end.
The Press from her fecundous Womb
Brought forth the Arts of Greece and Rome;
Her offspring, skill'd in Logic War,
Truth's Banner wav'd in open Air;
The Monster Superstition fled,
And hid in Shades in Gorgon Head;
And awless Pow'r, the long kept Field,
By Reason quell'd, was forc'd to yield.
This Nurse of Arts, and Freedom's Fence,
To chain, is Treason against Sense:
And Liberty, thy thousand Tongues
None silence who design no Wrongs;
For those who use the Gag's Restraint,
First Rob, before they stop Complaint.

1757.



EPITAPH IN BOOKISH STYLE

The Body of
Benjamin Franklin Printer
(Like the cover of an old book
Its contents torn out
And stript of its lettering and gilding)
Lies here, food for worms.
But the work shall not be lost
For it will (as he believed) appear once more
In a new and more elegant edition
Revised and corrected

1728 - written as his epitaph when he was 22. (not used)




--Cat