We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
Our Recent Essays Behind the Front Page
Saturday, June 15. 2013
From Leaves of Grass, #82, Song of the Open Road
AFOOT and light-hearted, I take to the open road,
Whitman worked on his collection of poems, Leaves of Grass, for almost 50 years, until his death. There were continual revisions and additions to the various editions of the remarkable and somewhat scandalous book. Whitman, like the "I" in the poems, was a self-invented American Everyman, and he fully believed that it was his destiny to write the Great American Epic Poem. It's not one story, but I think he did write an epic in spirit. It's fun to look at, and to read about, this collection of Whitman photos.
Continue reading "Saturday Verse: Walt Whitman (1819-1892)"
Saturday, June 8. 2013
Where would the American songbook be without him? Nowhere.
Here's his Wikipedia listing. It's the usual: made pennies from his songs, died drunk and alone in New York City. Only visited the deep South briefly, once, on his honeymoon.
A list of his songs here.
Photos of his German piano teacher in Pittsburgh, his first guitar, and the first piano he played, here.
Why the Swanee River? It fit the meter and the feeling. Here's "Old Folks at Home," a true heart-breaker of a sentimental popular song, with a lovely simple tune, as Foster wrote it in NYC for the minstrel shows.
And here's Dylan with Foster's Hard Times:
Saturday, June 1. 2013
For graduation season.This famous medieval university song is an example of Goliardic Verse, of which Carmina Burana is the best known example. Good lyrics.
Let us live, then, and be glad,
Life is brief, and brevity
Live this university,
Live the commonwealth also,
German is pretty close to English, isn't it? Maybe it's because I know a bit of college German. This is fun, with Gaudeamus Igitur eventually, after the drinking song - additional verse below the fold. Let's drink:
Continue reading "Saturday Verse: Gaudeamus Igitur"
Saturday, May 25. 2013
The House on the Hill
They are all gone away,
Through broken walls and gray
Nor is there one to-day
Why is it then we stray
And our poor fancy-play
There is ruin and decay
Saturday, May 18. 2013
Saturday, May 11. 2013
Gerard has probably the only other site on the web which would feature Gregory Corso.
Saturday, May 4. 2013
When I am an Old Horsewoman
When I am an old horsewoman
I shall wear turquoise and diamonds,
And a straw hat that doesn’t suit me
And I shall spend my social security on
white wine and carrots,
And sit in my alleyway of my barn
And listen to my horses breathe.
I will sneak out in the middle of a summer night
And ride the old bay gelding,
Across the moonstruck meadow
If my old bones will allow
And when people come to call, I will smile and nod
As I walk past the gardens to the barn
and show instead the flowers growing
inside stalls fresh-lined with straw.
I will shovel and sweat and wear hay in my hair
as if it were a jewel
And I will be an embarrassment to all
Who will not yet have found the peace in being free
to have a horse as a best friend
A friend who waits at midnight hour
With muzzle and nicker and patient eyes
For the kind of woman I will be
When I am old.
-By Patty Barnhart, originally published in The Arabian Horse World magazine in l992. I have no idea who she is.
Saturday, April 27. 2013
Often titled "The Gladiator," the verses are originally from Childe Harold's Pilgrimage - Canto IV - Stanza 140.
I see before me the Gladiator lie:
He leans upon his hand—his manly brow
Consents to death, but conquers agony,
And his droop’d head sinks gradually low—
And through his side the last drops, ebbing slow
From the red gash, fall heavy, one by one,
Like the first of a thunder shower; and now
The arena swims around him—he is gone,
Ere ceased the inhuman shout which hail’d the wretch who won.
He heard it, but he heeded not—his eyes
Were with his heart, and that was far away;
He reck’d not of the life he lost nor prize,
But where his rude hut by the Danube lay,
There were his young barbarians all at play,
There was their Dacian mother—he, their sire,
Butcher’d to make a Roman holiday—
All this rush’d with his blood—Shall he expire,
And unavenged?—Arise! ye Goths, and glut your ire!
Saturday, April 20. 2013
I wander'd lonely as a cloud
A poet could not but be gay,
For oft, when on my couch I lie
Thursday, April 18. 2013
(The reading of Milton's classic On Time on Dr. Merc's sim-gaming post here this morning is a perfect example.)
Here at Maggie's, we have always posted a Saturday Verse, with the general advice to read them out loud. One poem per week, like one masterpiece of art, is about all most people can or are willing to process. We might be tempted to read more poetry if they were Juvenal writing poems from the standpoint of a Roman switch-hitting prostitute servicing both his master and his master's wife to good and profitable effect. The wife first, one might hope.
Saturday, April 13. 2013
Mine eye and heart are at a mortal war
I like the witty way he echoes the legal metaphor in the convoluted puzzle of words and ideas, which forces your brain to work to untangle it. Crafty guy, was he not? A way with words, too.
Saturday, April 6. 2013
The opening lines of Canterbury Tales
Whan that Aprille with his shoures soote,
I know someone - an English major - who got his first job on Wall St. by being able to quote these first lines of the Prologue of Canterbury Tales in an interview when challenged by a partner. Here's a good Canterbury Tales site. If you read enough Chaucer, you start speaking Middle English - or really early Modern English. I took a one-semester Chaucer course in college. Great fun. We'd just go around the class and read the section out loud in the beginning of class, trying to find Chaucer's accents and rhythms. Many are not aware that Chaucer made his money importing claret from France. Writing was a hobby for this prosperous, well-educated, and well-travelled Londoner.
Saturday, March 30. 2013
On longer evenings,
Saturday, March 23. 2013
I’m a lean dog, a keen dog, a wild dog, and lone;
I’ll never be a lap dog, licking dirty feet,
Not for me the other dogs, running by my side,
Saturday, March 16. 2013
FOR every hour that thou wilt spare me now,
Let me think any rival's letter mine,
This bargain's good; if when I'm old, I be
Saturday, March 9. 2013
An excerpt from The Song of Hiawatha:
You shall hear how Hiawatha
First he built a lodge for fasting,
On the first day of his fasting
Heard the squirrel, Adjidaumo,
The entire poem, a collection of Algonquin Indian myths, here, with a little commentary. Read it outloud to your kids or spouse. They will never forget it.
Photo is Augustus Saint-Gaudens' (1848-1907) Hiawatha, marble, Metropolitan Museum of Art, NYC
Saturday, March 2. 2013
Excerpted from Snowbound: A Winter Idyl (1866):
Yet, haply, in some lull of life,
Ahhh, the benediction of the air. Read entire wonderful but old-fashioned-sounding 1865 poem by the great north of Boston newspaper editor and abolitionist here.
He made a lot of money from that poem. Whittier's home, to which the poem refers, stands in Haverhill, MA. It's a sentimental poem you can read to the kids - with feeling! Especially on a snowbound day.
Saturday, February 23. 2013
The Chariot (1863)
Because I could not stop for Death -
We slowly drove, he knew no haste,
We passed the school where children played,
We paused before a house that seemed
Since then - 'tis centuries - but each
Saturday, February 16. 2013
Shame and remorse and sobs and weary spite,
and the vague terrors of the fearful night
That crush the heart up like a crumpled leaf?
Angel of gaiety, have you tasted grief?
Saturday, February 9. 2013
T.S. Eliot said "What can a poet do after Swinburne?" Good question, Tommy. Nothing decadent was outside his Victorian imagination, yet everything evocative was within it. Bio of Algernon Charles Swinburne here.
Dolores (Madonna of the Seven Sorrows)
Cold eyelids that hide like a jewel
(the remainder of this amazing poem on continuation page below - take a moment for Algernon -not one of us will ever do better)
Continue reading "Saturday Verse: Swinburne (1837-1909)"
Saturday, February 2. 2013
Not marble, nor the gilded monuments
Saturday, January 26. 2013
There's not much of his voice on this reconstruction of an old wax cylinder recording, but Whitman fans will relish
Centre of equal daughters, equal sons,
All, all alike endear’d, grown, ungrown, young or old,
Strong, ample, fair, enduring, capable, rich,
Perennial with the Earth, with Freedom, Law and Love,
A grand, sane, towering, seated Mother,
Chair’d in the adamant of Time.
Saturday, January 19. 2013
Song of the Clouds (from The Clouds. This translation by Oscar Wilde)
Cloud-maidens that float on forever,
Saturday, January 12. 2013
As Kingfishers Catch Fire
As kingfishers catch fire, dragonflies draw flame;
I say more: the just man justices;
Long-time readers of Maggie's know what a fan I am of Hopkins and his "sprung rhythm." Like everything else we post on Saturday Verse, it must be read out loud or it is wasted. Hopkins uses odd accent marks. The gloomy, sexually-conflicted Jesuit produced some wonderful pearls for God but, unfortunately, burned everything he had written before he entered the seminary, so we don't have too much of his stuff.
Photo is a European Kingfisher
Saturday, January 5. 2013
Road Song of The Ban-Dar-Log (from The Jungle Books. h/t, reader. The Bandur-log are Langur monkeys)
Here we go in a flung festoon,
Half-way up to the jealous moon!
Don’t you envy our pranceful bands?
Don’t you wish you had extra hands?
Wouldn’t you like if your tails were–so–
Curved in the shape of a Cupid’s bow?
Now you’re angry, but–never mind,
Brother, thy tail hangs down behind!
Here we sit in a branchy row,
Thinking of beautiful things we know;
Dreaming of deeds that we mean to do,
All complete, in a minute or two–
Something noble and wise and good,
Done by merely wishing we could.
We’ve forgotten, but–never mind,
Brother, thy tail hangs down behind!
All the talk we ever have heard
Uttered by bat or beast or bird–
Hide or fin or scale or feather–
Jabber it quickly and all together!
Excellent! Wonderful! Once again!
Now we are talking just like men!
Let’s pretend we are ... never mind,
Brother, thy tail hangs down behind!
This is the way of the Monkey-kind.
Then join our leaping lines that scumfish through the pines,
That rocket by where, light and high, the wild grape swings.
By the rubbish in our wake, and the noble noise we make,
Be sure, be sure, we’re going to do some splendid things!
Saturday, December 29. 2012
Glory be to God for dappled things
All things counter, original, spare, strange;
Saturday, December 22. 2012
You know Orion always comes up sideways.
"What do you want with one of those blame things?"
Out of a house and so out of a farm
He got a good glass for six hundred dollars.
We've looked and looked, but after all where are we?
Saturday, December 15. 2012
The Wood Pile
Out walking in the frozen swamp one grey day
Image is Robert Frost's New Hampshire farmhouse.
Saturday, December 1. 2012
Re-posted every December, if I remember:
Written as prose, A Child's Christmas in Wales might as well be verse. It begins thus:
Saturday, November 24. 2012
Saturday, November 17. 2012
Saturday, November 10. 2012
She was a Phantom of Delight
She was a phantom of delight
Saturday, November 3. 2012
Nothing Gold Can Stay
Nature's first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf's a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.
Saturday, October 20. 2012
Delight in Disorder
A sweet disorder in the dress
Kindles in clothes a wantonness;
A lawn about the shoulders thrown
Into a fine distraction;
An erring lace, which here and there
Enthrals the crimson stomacher;
A cuff neglectful, and thereby
Ribands to flow confusedly;
A winning wave, deserving note,
In the tempestuous petticoat;
A careless shoe-string, in whose tie
I see a wild civility:
Do more bewitch me, than when art
Is too precise in every part.
Saturday, October 13. 2012
Pie in the Sky, properly known as The Preacher and the Slave, is a parody credited to Joe Hill in 1911, and was published in the Industrial Worker's Little Red Songbook. (The tune is In the Sweet Bye and Bye.) The socialist-revoutionary Wobblies were big on songs. Brief entry on Joe Hill's life here- songs from an interesting piece of American history, when a Socialist revolution seemed near.
Saturday, October 6. 2012
He Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven
Had I the heavens' embroidered cloths,
(I do not want to ruin this magical piece by getting pedantic, but check those rhymes.)
Saturday, September 29. 2012
The Garden of Proserpine
Here, where the world is quiet;
I am tired of tears and laughter,
Here life has death for neighbour,
No growth of moor or coppice,
Pale, without name or number,
Though one were strong as seven,
Pale, beyond porch and portal,
She waits for each and other,
She waits for all men born;
Forgets the earth her mother,
The life of fruits and corn;
And spring and seed and swallow
Take wing for her and follow
Where summer song rings hollow
And flowers are put to scorn.
There go the loves that wither,
The old loves with wearier wings;
And all dead years draw thither,
And all disastrous things;
Dead dreams of days forsaken,
Blind buds that snows have shaken,
Wild leaves that winds have taken,
Red strays of ruined springs.
We are not sure of sorrow,
And joy was never sure;
To-day will die to-morrow;
Time stoops to no man's lure;
And love, grown faint and fretful,
With lips but half regretful
Sighs, and with eyes forgetful
Weeps that no loves endure.
From too much love of living,
From hope and fear set free,
We thank with brief thanksgiving
Whatever gods may be
That no life lives for ever;
That dead men rise up never;
That even the weariest river
Winds somewhere safe to sea.
Then star nor sun shall waken,
Nor any change of light:
Nor sound of waters shaken,
Nor any sound or sight:
Nor wintry leaves nor vernal,
Nor days nor things diurnal;
Only the sleep eternal
In an eternal night.
As I read it, the poem is written from the point of view of an ancient Roman or Greek. Proserpine, the Roman version of Persephone who was the wife of Hades, had a garden of poppies - the flower of care-free sleep and blissful forgetfulness. Swinburne was a character, just one more of those brilliant, wealthy drunken Brit writers and critics who liked to ride horses and died of self-inflicted wounds.
Saturday, September 22. 2012
The sea is calm to-night.
Sophocles long ago
The Sea of Faith
Ah, love, let us be true
Arnold was an interesting fellow.
Saturday, September 15. 2012
Spoken by Hamlet, Hamlet Act 4 Scene 4
Saturday, September 8. 2012
The Kingfisher (1882)
As kingfishers catch fire, dragonflies draw flame;
I say more: the just man justices;
Photo is Europe's Common Kingfisher, orange and iridescent blue
Saturday, August 25. 2012
Meeting at Night
The grey sea and the long black land;
Then a mile of warm sea-scented beach;
Saturday, August 18. 2012
The Betrothed, by Kipling
"You must choose between me and your cigar."
Open the old cigar-box, get me a Cuba stout,
Saturday, August 11. 2012
Late August, given heavy rain and sun
Saturday, August 4. 2012
In a disused graveyard
The living come with grassy tread
Saturday, July 28. 2012
The Definition of Love
MY Love is of a birth as rare
For Fate with jealous eye does see
And therefore her decrees of steel
Unless the giddy heaven fall,
Therefore the love which us doth bind,
Marvell was a diplomat and politician and, when younger, the personal secretary and friend to John Milton. During his lifetime, his satirical writings were more admired than his serious poetry. A mediocre bio here.
Saturday, July 21. 2012
Now Tomlinson gave up the ghost at his house in Berkeley Square,
Then Tomlinson looked up and down, and little gain was there,
Then Tomlinson looked back and forth, and little good it bore,
Continue reading "Saturday Verse: Kipling"
Saturday, July 14. 2012
Hound of Heaven (1893) - (h/t Anchoress' The Hound of Heaven’s Haunted Author)
I fled Him, down the nights and down the days;
(The rest of the poem is below the fold)
Continue reading "Saturday Verse: Francis Thompson"
Saturday, July 7. 2012
Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird (1917)
Wednesday, July 4. 2012
The Fourth of July (1958, mind you)
Because I am drunk, this Independence Night,
I watch the fireworks from far away,
From a high hill, across the moony green
Of lakes and other hills to the town harbor,
Where stately illuminations are flung aloft,
One light shattering in a hundred lights
Minute by minute. The reason I am crying,
Aside from only being country drunk,
That is, may be that I have just remembered
The sparklers, rockets, roman candles and
So on, we used to be allowed to buy
When I was a boy, and set off by ourselves
At some peril to life and property.
Our freedom to abuse our freedom thus
Has since, I understand, been remedied
By legislation. Now the authorities
Arrange a perfectly safe public display
To be watched at a distance; and now also
The contribution of all the taxpayers
Together makes a more spectacular
Result than any could achieve alone
(A few pale pinwheels, or a firecracker
Fused at the dog's tail). It is, indeed, splendid:
Showers of roses in the sky, fountains
Of emeralds, and those profusely scattered zircons
Falling and falling, flowering as they fall
And followed distantly by a noise of thunder.
My eyes are half-afloat in happy tears.
God bless our Nation on a night like this,
And bless the careful and secure officials
Who celebrate our independence now.
Saturday, June 30. 2012
Death of a Naturalist
All the year the flax-dam festered in the heart
I like the way he gets creeped out by his guilty imagination. Heaney's bio here.
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