Thursday, May 21, 2015

Robert Graves: The Spoilsport

My familiar ghost again
Comes to see what he can see, 
Critic, son of Conscious Brain, 
Spying on our privacy. 

Slam the window, bolt the door,
Yet he’ll enter in and stay; 
In tomorrow’s book he’ll score 
Indiscretions of today. 

Whispered love and muttered fears, 
How their echoes fly about!
None escape his watchful ears, 
Every sigh might be a shout. 

No kind words nor angry cries 
Turn away this grim spoilsport; 
No fine lady’s pleading eyes,
Neither love, nor hate, nor … port. 

Critic wears no smile of fun, 
Speaks no word of blame nor praise, 
Counts our kisses one by one, 
Notes each gesture, every phrase.

My familiar ghost again 
Stands or squats where suits him best; 
Critic, son of Conscious Brain, 
Listens, watches, takes no rest.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Robert Graves: Sospan Fach (The Little Saucepan)

Four collier lads from Ebbw Vale
Took shelter from a shower of hail,
And there beneath a spreading tree
Attuned their mouths to harmony.

With smiling joy on every face
Two warbled tenor, two sang bass,
And while the leaves above them hissed with
Rough hail, they started 'Aberystwyth.'

Old Parry's hymn, triumphant, rich,
They changed through with even pitch,
Till at the end of their grand noise
I called: 'Give us the 'Sospan' boys!'

Who knows a tune so soft, so strong,
So pitiful as that 'Saucepan' song
For exiled hope, despaired desire
Of lost souls for their cottage fire?

Then low at first with gathering sound
Rose their four voices, smooth and round,
Till back went Time: once more I stood
With Fusiliers in Mametz Wood.

Fierce burned the sun, yet cheeks were pale,
For ice hail they had leaden hail;
In that fine forest, green and big,
There stayed unbroken not one twig.

They sang, they swore, they plunged in haste,
Stumbling and shouting through the waste;
The little 'Saucepan' flamed on high,
Emblem of hope and ease gone by.

Rough pit-boys from the coaly South,
They sang, even in the cannon's mouth;
Like Sunday's chapel, Monday's inn,
The death-trap sounded with their din.


The storm blows over, Sun comes out,
The choir breaks up with jest and shout,
With what relief I watch them part--
Another note would break my heart! 

John McCrae: In Flanders Fields

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly.
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

It is believed that John McCrae wrote the famous poem ‘In Flanders Fields’ during the evening of May 3rd 1915 – after carrying out a funeral service for a friend during the Second Battle of Ypres.
John McCrae was a Canadian doctor, and is reported to have written the poem while sitting in the back of an ambulance near a battlefield casualty station just north of Ypres.
The poem was published in the British magazine Punch in December 1915, and went on to become highly popular and widely quoted.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Dylan Thomas: Do Not Go Gentle into that Good Night

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on that sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light. 

Dylan Thomas reading "Do not go gentle into that good night"