Poem of the Week

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To Ireland

I.
Bear witness, Erin! when thine injured isle
Sees summer on its verdant pastures smile,
Its cornfields waving in the winds that sweep
The billowy surface of thy circling deep!
Thou tree whose shadow o’er the Atlantic gave
Peace, wealth and beauty, to its friendly wave, its blossoms fade,
And blighted are the leaves that cast its shade;
Whilst the cold hand gathers its scanty fruit,
Whose chillness struck a canker to its root.

II.
I could stand
Upon thy shores, O Erin, and could count
The billows that, in their unceasing swell,
Dash on thy beach, and every wave might seem
An instrument in Time the giant’s grasp,
To burst the barriers of Eternity.
Proceed, thou giant, conquering and to conquer;
March on thy lonely way! The nations fall
Beneath thy noiseless footstep; pyramids
That for millenniums have defied the blast,
And laughed at lightnings, thou dost crush to nought.
Yon monarch, in his solitary pomp,
Is but the fungus of a winter day
That thy light footstep presses into dust.
Thou art a conqueror, Time; all things give way
Before thee but the ‘fixed and virtuous will’;
The sacred sympathy of soul which was
When thou wert not, which shall be when thou perishest.

By Percy Bysshe ShellyShelley: Poems (Everyman’s Library Pocket Poets Series)

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Poem of the Week

Ode to Medieval Poets

by W.H. Auden
Chaucer, Langland, Douglas, Dunbar, with all your
brother Anons, how on earth did you ever manage,
       without anaesthetics or plumbing,
       in daily peril from witches, warlocks,
lepers, The Holy Office, foreign mercenaries
burning as they came, to write so cheerfully,
       with no grimaces of self-pathos?
       Long-winded you could be but not vulgar,
bawdy but not grubby, your raucous flytings
sheer high-spirited fun, whereas our makers,
       beset by every creature comfort,
       immune, they believe, to all superstitions,
even at their best are so often morose or
kinky, petrified by their gorgon egos.
       We all ask, but I doubt if anyone
       can really say why all age-groups should find our
Age quite so repulsive. Without its heartless
engines, though, you could not tenant my book-shelves,
       on hand to delect my ear and chuckle
       my sad flesh: I would gladly just now be
turning out verses to applaud a thundery
jovial June when the judas-tree is in blossom,
     but am forbidden by the knowledge
     that you would have wrought them so much better.

Poem of the Week

To Jane: The Keen Stars Were Twinkling

by Percy Bysshe Shelley

The keen stars were twinkling,
And the fair moon was rising along them
Dear Jane!
The guitar was tinkling,
But the notes were not sweet till you sung them
Again.
As the moon’s soft splendour
O’ er the faint cold starlight of Heaven
Is thrown,
So your voice most tender
To the strings without soul had then given
Its own.
The stars will awaken,
Though the moon sleep a full hour later,
Tonight;
No leaf will be shaken
Whilst the dews of your melody scatter
Delight.
Though the sound overpowers,
Sing again, with your dear voice revealing
A tone
Of some world far from ours,
Where music and moonlight and feeling
Are one.