Poem for the Day

Posted: 4 October 2013

Often I’ve wished that I’d been born a woman.
It seems the one sure way to be fully human.
Think of the trouble — keeping the children fed,
Keeping your skirt down and your lips red,
Watching the calendar and the last bus home,
Being nice to all the dozens of guests in the room;
Having to change your hairstyle and your name
At least once; learning to take the blame;
Keeping your husband faithful and your char.
And all the things you’re supposed to be grateful for
— Votes and proposals, chocolates and seats in the train —
Or expert with — typewriter, powderpuff, pen,
Diaphragm, needle, chequebook, casserole, bed.
It seems the one sure way to be driven mad.

So why would anyone want to be a woman?
Would you rather be the hero or the victim?
Would you rather win, seduce and read the paper,
Or be beaten, pregnant, and have to lay the table?
Nothing is free. In order to pay the price
Isn’t it simpler, really, to have no choice?
Only ill-health, recurring, inevitable,
Can teach the taste of what it is to be well.
No man has ever felt his daughter tear
The flesh he had earlier torn to plant her there.
Men know the pain of birth by a kind of theory;
No man has been a protagonist in the story,
Lying back bleeding, exhausted and in pain,
Waiting for stitches and sleep and to be alone,
And listened with tender breasts to the hesitant croak
At the bedside growing continuous as you wake.
That is the price. That is what love is worth.
It will go on twisting your heart like an afterbirth.
Whether you choose to or not you will pay and pay
Your whole life long. Nothing on earth is free.

A Wish
Laurence Lerner

Poem for the Day

Posted: 3 October 2013

What needs this din about the town o' Lon'on?
How this new Play, and that new Sang is comin?
Why is outlandish stuff sae meikle courted?
Does Nonsense mend, like Brandy, when imported-
Is there nae Poet, burning keen for Fame,
Will bauldly try to gie us Plays at hame?
For Comedy abroad he need na toil,
A Knave an' Fool are plants of ev'ry soil:
Nor need he hunt as far as Rome or Greece,
To gather matter for a serious piece;
There's themes enow in Caledonian story,
Would shew the Tragic Muse in a' her glory.

Is there no daring Bard will rise and tell
How glorious Wallace stood, how hapless fell?
Where are the Muses fled, that should produce
A drama worthy of the name of Bruce?
How on this spot he first unsheath'd the sword
'Gainst mighty England and her guilty Lord;
And after many a bloody, deathless doing,
Wrench'd his dear country from the jaws of Ruin!
O! for a Shakespeare, or an Otway scene,
To paint the lovely, hapless Scottish Queen!
Vain ev'n the omnipotence of Female charms
'Gainst headlong, ruthless, mad Rebellion's arms.
She fell - but fell with spirit truly Roman,
To glut that direst foe, - a vengeful woman;
A woman - tho' the phrase may seem uncivil,
As able - and as wicked as the devil!
[One Douglas lives in Home's immortal page,
But Douglases were heroes every age:
And tho' your fathers, prodigal of life,
A Douglas followed to the martial strife,
Perhaps, if bowls row right, and Right succeeds,
Ye yet may follow where a Douglas leads!]

As ye have generous done, if a' the land
Would take the Muses' servants by the hand;
Not only hear - but patronise - defend them,
And where ye justly can commend - commend them;
And aiblins when they winna stand the test,
Wink hard, and say 'The folks hae done their best'.
Would a' the land do this, then I'll be caition,
Ye'll soon hae Poets o' the Scottish nation,
Will gar Fame blaw until her trumpet crack,
And warsle Time, and lay him on his back.

For us and for our Stage, should ony spier,
'Whase aught thae Chiels maks a' this bustle here?'
My best leg foremost, I'll set up my brow,
We have the honor to belong to you!
We're your ain bairns, e'en guide us as ye like,
But, like guid mothers, shore before ye strike;
And grateful still, I trust, ye'll ever find us:
For gen'rous patronage, and meikle kindness,
We've got frae a' professions, sorts, an' ranks:
God help us! - we're but poor - ye'se get but thanks!

Scots Prologue, for Mrs Sutherland's Benefit Night
Robert Burns

Poem for the Day

Posted: 2 October 2013

Letters of thanks, letters from banks,
Letters of joy from girl and boy,
Receipted bills and invitations
To inspect new stock or to visit relations,
And applications for situations,
And timid lovers' declarations,
And gossip, gossip from all the nations,
News circumstantial, news financial,
Letters with holiday snaps to enlarge in,
Letters with faces scrawled on the margin,
Letters from uncles, cousins, and aunts,
Letters to Scotland from the South of France,
Letters of condolence to Highlands and Lowlands
Written on paper of every hue,
The pink, the violet, the white and the blue,
The chatty, the catty, the boring, the adoring,
The cold and official and the heart's outpouring,
Clever, stupid, short and long,
The typed and the printed and the spelt all wrong.

from Night Mail
W. H. Auden

Poem for the Day

Posted: 1 October 2013

I'll sing you my October song, there is no song before it
The words and tune are not my own, my joy and sorrow bore it
Beside the sea, the brambly briar in the still of evening
Birds fly out from behind the sun, and with them I'll be leaving

The fallen leaves that jewel the ground, they know the art of dying
And leave with joy their glad gold hearts in scarlet shadows lying
When hunger calls my weary footsteps home, the morning follows after
I swim the seas within my mind, the pine-trees laugh green laughter

I used to search for happiness, and I used to follow pleasure
But I found a door behind my mind, and that's the greatest treasure
For rulers like to lay down laws, and rebels like to break them
And the poor priests like to walk in chains and God likes to forsake them

I met a man whose name was Time, he said, I must be going
But just how long ago that was I have no way of knowing
Sometimes I could murder time, when my heart is aching
But mostly I just like to stroll along the path that he is taking

October Song
Bert Jansch

Poem for the Day

Posted: 30 September 2013

Down by the salley gardens
my love and I did meet;
She passed the salley gardens
with little snow-white feet.
She bid me take love easy,
as the leaves grow on the tree;
But I, being young and foolish,
with her would not agree.

In a field by the river
my love and I did stand,
And on my leaning shoulder
she laid her snow-white hand.
She bid me take life easy,
as the grass grows on the weirs;
But I was young and foolish,
and now am full of tears.

Down By The Sally Gardens
W. B. Yeats

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