Archive for the 'Poetry' Category

30
Apr
12

Manly Poetry V

This poem was written in the early 1800s and is taken from the events as described in 2 Kings 18-19

The Destruction of Sennacherib

The Assyrian came down like the wolf on the fold,
And his cohorts were gleaming in purple and gold;
And the sheen of their spears was like stars on the sea,
When the blue wave rolls nightly on deep Galilee.

Like the leaves of the forest when Summer is green,
That host with their banners at sunset were seen:
Like the leaves of the forest when Autumn hath blown,
That host on the morrow lay withered and strown.

For the Angel of Death spread his wings on the blast,
And breathed in the face of the foe as he passed;
And the eyes of the sleepers waxed deadly and chill,
And their hearts but once heaved, and for ever grew still!

And there lay the steed with his nostril all wide,
But through it there rolled not the breath of his pride;
And the foam of his gasping lay white on the turf,
And cold as the spray of the rock-beating surf.

And there lay the rider distorted and pale,
With the dew on his brow, and the rust on his mail:
And the tents were all silent, the banners alone,
The lances unlifted, the trumpet unblown.

And the widows of Ashur are loud in their wail,
And the idols are broke in the temple of Baal;
And the might of the Gentile, unsmote by the sword,
Hath melted like snow in the glance of the Lord!

— George Gordon, Lord Byron

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23
Apr
12

Poetry: The Wonderful One-Hoss Shay

The Wonderful One-Hoss Shay
Oliver Wendell Holmes

Have you heard of the wonderful one-hoss shay,
That was built in such a logical way
It ran a hundred years to a day,
And then of a sudden it — ah, but stay,
I’ll tell you what happened without delay,
Scaring the parson into fits,
Frightening people out of their wits, –
Have you ever heard of that, I say?

Seventeen hundred and fifty-five.
Georgius Secundus was then alive, –
Snuffy old drone from the German hive.
That was the year when Lisbon-town
Saw the earth open and gulp her down,
And Braddock’s army was done so brown,
Left without a scalp to its crown.
It was on that terrible Earthquake-day
That the Deacon finished the one-hoss shay.

Now in building of shaises, I tell you what,
There is always a weakest spot, –
In hub, tire, felloe, in spring or thill,
In pannel or crossbar, or floor, or sill,
In screw, bolt, throughbrace, — lurking still,
Find it somewhere you must and will, –
Above or below, or within or without, –
And that’s the reason, beyond a doubt,
That a chaise breaks down, but doesn’t wear out.

But the Deacon swore (as deacons do,
With an “I dew vum,” or an “I tell yeou”)
He would build one shay to beat the taown
‘n’ the keounty ‘n’ all the kentry raoun’;
It should be so built that it couldn’ break daown:
“Fer,” said the Deacon, “’t’s mighty plain
Thut the weakes’ place mus’ stan’ the strain;
‘n’ the way t’ fix it, uz I maintain, is only jest
‘T’ make that place uz strong uz the rest.”

So the Deacon inquired of the village folk
Where he could find the strongest oak,
That couldn’t be split nor bent nor broke, –
That was for spokes and floor and sills;
He sent for lancewood to make the thills;
The crossbars were ash, from the the straightest trees
The pannels of whitewood, that cuts like cheese,
But lasts like iron for things like these;

The hubs of logs from the “Settler’s ellum,” –
Last of its timber, — they couldn’t sell ‘em,
Never no axe had seen their chips,
And the wedges flew from between their lips,
Their blunt ends frizzled like celery-tips;
Step and prop-iron, bolt and screw,
Spring, tire, axle, and linchpin too,
Steel of the finest, bright and blue;
Throughbrace bison-skin, thick and wide;
Boot, top, dasher, from tough old hide
Found in the pit when the tanner died.
That was the way he “put her through,”
“There!” said the Deacon, “naow she’ll dew!”

Do! I tell you, I rather guess
She was a wonder, and nothing less!
Colts grew horses, beards turned gray,
Deacon and deaconess dropped away,
Children and grandchildren — where were they?
But there stood the stout old one-hoss shay
As fresh as on Lisbon-earthquake-day!

EIGHTEEN HUNDRED; — it came and found
The Deacon’s masterpiece strong and sound.
Eighteen hindred increased by ten; –
“Hahnsum kerridge” they called it then.
Eighteen hundred and twenty came; –
Running as usual; much the same.
Thirty and forty at last arive,
And then come fifty and FIFTY-FIVE.

Little of of all we value here
Wakes on the morn of its hundredth year
Without both feeling and looking queer.
In fact, there’s nothing that keeps its youth,
So far as I know, but a tree and truth.
(This is a moral that runs at large;
Take it. — You’re welcome. — No extra charge.)

FIRST OF NOVEMBER, — the Earthquake-day, –
There are traces of age in the one-hoss shay,
A general flavor of mild decay,
But nothing local, as one may say.
There couldn’t be, — for the Deacon’s art
Had made it so like in every part
That there wasn’t a chance for one to start.
For the wheels were just as strong as the thills
And the floor was just as strong as the sills,
And the panels just as strong as the floor,
And the whippletree neither less or more,
And the back-crossbar as strong as the fore,
And the spring and axle and hub encore.
And yet, as a whole, it is past a doubt
In another hour it will be worn out!

First of November, fifty-five!
This morning the parson takes a drive.
Now, small boys get out of the way!
Here comes the wonderful one-hoss shay,
Drawn by a rat-tailed, ewe-necked bay.
“Huddup!” said the parson. — Off went they.

The parson was working his Sunday’s text, –
Had got to fifthly, and stopped perplexed
At what the — Moses — was coming next.
All at once the horse stood still,
Close by the meet’n’-house on the hill.
First a shiver, and then a thrill,
Then something decidedly like a spill, –
And the parson was sitting upon a rock,
At half past nine by the meet’n’-house clock, –
Just the hour of the earthquake shock!

What do you think the parson found,
When he got up and stared around?
The poor old chaise in a heap or mound,
As if it had been to the mill and ground!
You see, of course, if you’re not a dunce,
How it went to pieces all at once, –
All at once, and nothing first, –
Just as bubbles do when they burst.

End of the wonderful one-hoss shay.
Logic is logic. That’s all I say.

16
Apr
12

Heroic Females In Poetry

From my selection of poetry so far one might come to the conclusion that either there are no females in this type of poetry or I just ignore it. Not so. So I give you this offering, A Legend of Bregenz by Adelaide Procter. This is a rather large poem, my apologies. If its too long for ya just scroll down to the comments and flame me =oP

A Legend of Bregenz

Girt round with rugged mountains the fair Lake Constance lies;
In her blue heart reflected, shine back the starry skies;
And, watching each white cloudlet float silently and slow,
You think a piece of heaven lies on our earth below!

Midnight is there; and silence, enthroned in heaven, looks down
Upon her own calm mirror, upon a sleeping town:
For Bregenz, that quaint city upon the Tyrol shore,
Has stood above Lake Constance a thousand years and more.

Her battlements and towers, upon their rocky steep,
Have cast their trembling shadows for ages on the deep;
Mountain and lake and valley, a sacred legend know,
Of how the town was saved one night, three hundred years ago.

Far from her home and kindred a Tyrol maid had fled,
To serve in the Swiss valleys, and toil for daily bread;
And every year that fleeted so silently and fast
Seem’d to bear further from her the memory of the past.

She served kind, gentle masters, nor ask’d for rest or change;
Her friends seem’d no more new ones, their speech seem’d no more strange;
And, when she led her cattle to pasture every day,
She ceased to look and wonder on which side Bregenz lay.

She spoke no more of Bregenz, with longing and with tears;
Her Tyrol home seem’d faded in a deep mist of years;
She heeded not the rumors of Austrian war or strife;
Each day she rose, contented, to the calm toils of life.

Yet, when her master’s children would clustering round her stand,
She sang them the old ballads of her own native land;
And, when at morn and evening she knelt before God’s throne,
The accents of her childhood rose to her lips alone.

And so she dwelt: the valley more peaceful year by year;
When suddenly strange portents of some great deed seem’d near.
The golden corn was bending upon its fragile stalk,
While farmers, heedless of their fields, paced up and down in talk.

The men seem’d stern and alter’d, with looks cast on the ground;
With anxious faces, one by one, the women gather’d round;
All talk of flax, or spinning, or work, was put away;
The very children seem’d afraid to go alone to play.

One day, out in the meadow with strangers from the town,
Some secret plan discussing, the men walk’d up and down.
Yet now and then seem’d watching a strange, uncertain gleam,
That look’d like lances ‘mid the trees that stood below the stream.

At eve they all assembled, all care and doubt were fled;
With jovial laugh they feasted, the board was nobly spread.
The elder of the village rose up, his glass in hand,
And cried, “We drink the downfall of an accursed land!

“The night is growing darker; ere one more day is flown
Bregenz, our foeman’s stronghold, Bregenz shall be our own!”
The women shrank in terror, (yet pride, too, had her part,)
But one poor Tyrol maiden felt death within her heart.

Before her stood fair Bregenz, once more her towers arose;
What were the friends beside her? Only her country’s foes!
The faces of her kinsfolk, the days of childhood flown,
The echoes of her mountains, reclaim’d her as their own!

Nothing she heard around her, (though shouts rang forth again,)
Gone were the green Swiss valleys, the pasture, and the plain;
Before her eyes one vision, and in her heart one cry,
That said, “Go forth, save Bregenz, and then, if need be, die!”

With trembling haste and breathless, with noiseless step she sped;
Horses and weary cattle were standing in the shed;
She loosed the strong white charger, that fed from out her hand,
She mounted and she turn’d his head towards her native land.

Out — out into the darkness — faster, and still more fast;
The smooth grass flies behind her, the chestnut wood is pass’d;
She looks up; clouds are heavy: Why is her steed so slow? —
Scarcely the wind beside them can pass them as they go.

“Faster!” she cries, “O, faster!” Eleven the church-bells chime:
“O God,” she cries, “help Bregenz, and bring me there in time!”
But louder than bells’ ringing, or lowing of the kine,
Grows nearer in the midnight the rushing of the Rhine.

Shall not the roaring waters their headlong gallop check?
The steed draws back in terror, she leans above his neck
To watch the flowing darkness, the bank is high and steep;
One pause, — he staggers forward, and plunges in the deep.

She strives to pierce the blackness, and looser throws the rein;
Her steed must breast the waters that dash above his mane;
How gallantly, how nobly, he struggles through the foam,
And see, in the far distance shine out the lights of home!

Up the steep bank he bears her, and now they rush again
Toward the heights of Bregenz, that tower above the plain.
They reach the gate of Bregenz just as the midnight rings,
And out come serf and soldier to meet the news she brings.

Bregenz is saved! Ere daylight her battlements are mann’d;
Defiance greets the army that marches on the land:
And, if to deeds heroic should endless fame be paid,
Bregenz does well to honor the noble Tyrol maid.

Three hundred years are vanish’d, and yet upon the hill
An old stone gateway rises, to do her honor still.
And there, when Bregenz women sit spinning in the shade,
They see in quaint old carving the charger and the maid.

And when to guard old Bregenz, by gateway, street, and tower,
The warder paces all night long, and calls each passing hour:
“Nine,” “ten,” “eleven,” he cries aloud, and then (O crown of fame!)
When midnight pauses in the skies he calls the maiden’s name.

09
Apr
12

Manly Poetry IV

This poem is about a group of patriots led by Francis Marion. By 1780 it seemed that the Britons had subdued the South. During this time Marion raised and maintained a band of trusted patriots, beginning with less than twenty. So troublesome was Marion’s Brigade that the Brits sent a special detachment, led by Colonel Tarleton, to capture Marion dead or alive. It was from this that he gained the name “Swamp Fox.”

Song of Marion’s Men

Our band is few, but true and tried,
Our leader frank and bold;
The British soldier trembles
When Marion’s name is told.
Our fortress is the good greenwood
Our tent the cypress-tree;
We know the forest round us,
As seamen know the sea.
We know its walls of thorny vines,
Its glades of reedy grass,
Its safe and silent islands
Within the dark morass.

Woe to the English soldiery,
That little dread us near!
On them shall light at midnight
A strange and sudden fear:
When, waking to their tents on fire,
They grasp their arms in vain,
And they who stand to face us
Are beat to earth again.
And they who fly in terror deem
A mighty host behind,
And hear the tramp of thousands
Upon the hollow wind.

Then sweet the hour that brings release
From danger and from toil;
We talk the battle over,
And share the battle’s spoil.
The woodland rings with laugh and shout
As if a hunt were up,
And woodland flowers are gathered
To crown the soldier’s cup.
With merry songs we mock the wind
That in the pine-top grieves,
And slumber long and sweetly
On beds of oaken leaves.

Well knows the fair and friendly moon
The band that Marion leads
The glitter of their rifles,
The scampering of their steeds.
‘Tis life to guide the fiery barb
Across the moonlight plain;
‘Tis life to feel the night-wind
That lifts his tossing mane.
A moment in the British camp
A moment and away
Back to the pathless forest,
Before the peep of day.

Grave men there are by broad Santee,
Grave men with hoary hairs;
Their hearts are all with Marion,
For Marion are their prayers.
And lovely ladies greet our band
With kindliest welcoming,
With smiles like those of summer,
And tears like those of spring.
For them we wear these trusty arms,
And lay them down no more
Till we have driven the Briton,
Forever, from our shore.

~~ William Cullen Bryant

02
Apr
12

Manly Poetry III

The Rising in 1776
Thomas Buchanan Read

Out of the North the wild news came,
Far flashing on its wings of flame,
Swift as the boreal light which flies
At midnight through the startled skies.
And there was tumult in the air,
The fife’s shrill note, the drum’s loud beat,
And through the land everywhere
The answering tread of hurrying feet;
While the first oath of Freedom’s gun
Came on the blast from Lexington;
And Concord, roused, no longer tame,
Forgot her old baptismal name,
Made bare her patriot arm of power,
And swelled the discord of the hour.

Within its shade of elm and oak
The church of Berkely Manor stood;
There Sunday found the rural folk,
And some esteemed of gentle blood.
In vain their feet with loitering tread
Passed ‘mid the graves where rank is naught;
All could not read the lesson taught
In that republic of the dead.

How sweet the hour of Sabbath talk,
The vale with peace and sunshine full
Where all the happy people walk,
Decked in their homespun flax and wool!
Where youth’s gay hats with blossoms bloom;
And every maid with simple art,
Wears on her breast, like her own heart,
A bud whose depths are all perfume;
While every garment’s gentle stir
Is breathing rose and lavender.

The pastor came; his snowy locks
Hallowed his brow of thought and care;
And calmly, as shepherds lead their flocks,
He led into the house of prayer.
The pastor rose; the prayer was strong;
The psalm was warrior David’s song;
The text, a few short words of might,-
“The Lord of hosts shall arm the right!”

He spoke of wrongs too long endured,
Of sacred rights to be secured;
Then from his patriot tongue of flame
The startling words for Freedom came.
The stirring sentences he spake
Compelled the heart to glow or quake,
And, rising on his theme’s broad wing,
And grasping in his nervous hand
The imaginary battle brand,
In face of death he dared to fling
Defiance to a tyrant king.

Even as he spoke, his frame, renewed
In eloquence of attitude,
Rose, as it seemed, a shoulder higher;
Then swept his kindling glance of fire
From startled pew to breathless choir;
When suddenly his mantle wide
His hands impatient flung aside,
And, Lo! he met their wondering eyes
Complete in all a warrior’s guise.

A moment there was awful pause,—
When Berkeley cried, “Cease, traitor! cease!
G-d’s temple is the house of peace!”
The other shouted, “Nay, not so,
When G-d is with our righteous cause;
His holiest places then are ours,
His temples are our forts and towers,
That frown upon the tyrant foe;
In this, the dawn of Freedom’s say,
There is a time to fight and pray!”

And now before the open door-
The warrior priest had ordered so-
The enlisting trumpet’s sudden roar
Rang through the chapel, o’er and o’er,
Its long reverberating blow
So loud and clear, it seemed the ear
Of dusty death must wake and hear.

And there the startling drum and fife
Fired the living with fiercer life;
While overhead, with wild increase,
Forgetting its ancient toll of peace,
The great bell swung as ne’er before;
It seemed as it would never cease;
And every word its ardor flung
From off its jubilant iron tongue
Was, “War! War! War!”

“Who dares?” – this was the patriot’s cry,
As striding from the desk he came,-
“Come out with me, in Freedom’s name,
For her to live, for her to die?”
A hundred hands flung up reply,
A hundred voices answered, “I!”

History of poem as told by Professor Waitman Barbre
“The pastor of the Lutheran Church at Woodstock, … was John Peter Gabriel Muhlenberg, who had settled there in 1772. On the Sunday following the receipt of the news of the battle of Lexington and Concord he went into his pulpit wearing the full uniform of a colonel, completely covered by his clerical gown. The sermon was a stirring one, in which he said there was a time to preach and a time to fight, and that the time to fight had come.” Asking for volunteers to join him in arms “Many of them did so and joined his regiment, the Eighth Virginia, afterward noted for its courage and good discipline. … Muhlenberg was made a brigadier-general, and major-general at the close of the war.”

26
Mar
12

Manly Poetry II

The Loss of the Birkenhead

Right on our flank the crimson sun went down;
The deep sea rolled around in dark repose;
When, like the wild shriek from some capured town,
A cry of women rose.

The stout ship Birkenhead lay hard and fast,
Caught without hope upon a hidden rock;
Her timbers thrilled as nerves, when through them passed
The spirit of that shock.

And ever like base cowards, who leave their ranks
In danger’s hour, before the rush of steel,
Drifted away disorderly the planks
From underneath her keel.

Then amidst oath, and prayer, and rush, and wreck,
Faint scream, faint questions waiting no reply,
Our colonel gave the word, and on the deck
Formed us in line to die.

To die! ‘Twas hard, whilst the sleek ocean glowed
Beneath a sky as fair as summer flowers;
All to the boats! cried one; he was, thank G-d,
No officer of ours.

Our English hearts beat true; we would not stir;
That base appeal we heard, but heeded not;
On land, on sea, we had our colors, sir,
To keep without a spot.

They shall not say in England, that we fought
With shameful strength, unhonored life to seek;
Into mean safety, mean deserters brought
By trampling down the weak.

So we made women with their children go;
The oars ply back again, and yet again;
Whilst inch by inch, the drowning ship sank low,
Still under steadfast men.

What follows, why recall? The brave who died,
Died without flinching in the bloody surf,
They sleep as well, beneath that purple tide,
As others under turf.

If that day’s work no clasp or medal mark;
If each proud heart no cross of bronze may press,
Nor cannon thunder loud from Tower or Park;
This feel we none the less:-

That those whom G-d’s high grace there saved from ill,
Those also left His martyrs in the bay,
Though not by seige, though not in battle, still
Full well had earned their pay.

~~Sir F.H. Doyle

In 1852 a steamer, the Birkenhead, struck on a hidden rock during one of her voyages. She sank soon after carrying some 400 soldiers with her.

19
Mar
12

Manly Poetry I

Make Way For Liberty

Believe it or not, I actually found this poem in a
school book. Albeit one I am afraid to hold all the
way open lest it fall apart in its old age.
The battle takes place July 9, 1386 in the pass of
Sempach. The Austrian cavalry was unable to be used
to advantage in the narrow pass so they dismounted and
formed a wall of spears. After repeated unsuccesful
attempts to break the line a knight, Arnold von
Winkelried, threw himself upon the spears to make a
way thru. This was the battle that won Switzerland its
freedom from the Austrians

Make way for Liberty

“Make way for Liberty!” he cried;
Made way for Liberty , and died!

In arms the Austrian phalanx stood,
A living wall, a human wood!
A wall, where every conscious stone
Seemed to its kindred thousands grown;
A rampart all assaults to bear,
Till time to dust their frames shall wear;
A wood like that enchanted grove,
In which, with fiends, Rinaldo strove,
Where every silent tree possessed
A spirit prisoned in its breast,
Which the first stroke of coming strife
Would startle into hideous life:
So dense, so still, the Austrians stood,
A living wall, a human wood!

Impregnable their front appears,
All horent with projected spears,
whose polished points before them shine,
From flank to flank, one brilliant line,
Bright as the breakers’ splendor run
Along the billows to the sun.

Opposed to these, a hovering band
Contended for their native land;
Peasants, whose new-found strength had broke
From manly necks the ignoble yoke,
And forged their fetters into swords,
On equal terms to fight their lords;
And what insurgent rage had gained,
In many a mortal fray maintained:
Marshaled once more at Freedom’s call
They come to conquer or to fall,
Where he who conquered, he who fell,
Was deemed a dead, or living, Tell!

And now the work of life and death
Hung on the passing of a breath;
The fire of conflict burned within;
The battle trembled to begin;
Yet, while the Austrians held their ground,
Point for attack was nowhere found;
Where’er the impatient Switzers gazed,
The unbroken line of lanced blazed;
That line ‘t were suicide to meet,
And perish at their tyrant’s feet;
How could they rest within their graves,
And leave their homes the homes of slaves?
Would they not feel their children tread
With clanking chains above their head?

It must not be: this day, this hour,
Annihilates the oppressor’s power;
All Switzerland is in the field,
She will not fly, she cannot yield,
She must not fall; her better fate
Here gives her an immortal date.
Few were the numbers she could boast,
But every freeman was a host,
And felt as though himself were he
On whose sole arms hung victory.

It did depend on one, indeed:
Behold him! Arnold Winkelried!
There sounds not to the trump of fame
The echo of a nobler name.
Unmarked he stood amid the throng,
In rumination deep and long,
Till you might see, with sudden grace,
The very thought come o’er his face;
And by the motion of his form,
Anticipate the bursting storm;
And by the uplifting of his brow,
Tell where the bolt would strike, and how.
But ‘t was no sooner thought than done;
The field was in a moment won.

“Make way for Liberty!” he cried:
Then ran, with arms extended wide,
As if his dearest friend to clasp;
Ten spears he swept within his grasp:
“Make way for Liberty!” he cried.
Their keen points met from side to side;
He bowed among them like a tree,
And thus was made way for liberty.

Swift to the breach his comrades fly;
“Make way for Liberty!” they cry,
And through the Austrian phalanx dart,
As rushed spears through Arnold’s heart;
While instantaneous as his fall,
Rout, ruin, panic scattered all.
An earthquake could not overthrow
A city with a surer blow.
Thus Switzerland again was free,
Thus death made way for liberty.

~James Montgomery