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Poem for the Day

Posted: 18 June 2013

First published in 1886 this tongue-in-cheek work by the young bachelor Kipling, was inspired by this reported statement in a breach of promise case, "You must choose between me and your cigar". In the poem the writer compares the difference between his fiancée Maggie and his habit of smoking cigars. It's not to be taken too seriously. For what it's worth, I don't smoke!

Open the old cigar-box, get me a Cuba stout,
For things are running crossways, and Maggie and I are out.
We quarrelled about Havanas -- we fought o'er a good cheroot,
And I knew she is exacting, and she says I am a brute.

Open the old cigar-box -- let me consider a space;
In the soft blue veil of the vapour musing on Maggie's face.
Maggie is pretty to look at -- Maggie's a loving lass,
But the prettiest cheeks must wrinkle, the truest of loves must pass.

There's peace in a Larranaga, there's calm in a Henry Clay;
But the best cigar in an hour is finished and thrown away --
Thrown away for another as perfect and ripe and brown --
But I could not throw away Maggie for fear o' the talk o' the town!

Maggie, my wife at fifty -- grey and dour and old --
With never another Maggie to purchase for love or gold!
And the light of Days that have Been the dark of the Days that Are,
And Love's torch stinking and stale, like the butt of a dead cigar --

The butt of a dead cigar you are bound to keep in your pocket --
With never a new one to light tho' it's charred and black to the socket!
Open the old cigar-box -- let me consider a while.
Here is a mild Manila -- there is a wifely smile.

Which is the better portion -- bondage bought with a ring,
Or a harem of dusky beauties, fifty tied in a string?
Counsellors cunning and silent -- comforters true and tried,
And never a one of the fifty to sneer at a rival bride?

Thought in the early morning, solace in time of woes,
Peace in the hush of the twilight, balm ere my eyelids close,
This will the fifty give me, asking nought in return,
With only a Suttee's passion -- to do their duty and burn.

This will the fifty give me. When they are spent and dead,
Five times other fifties shall be my servants instead.
The furrows of far-off Java, the isles of the Spanish Main,
When they hear my harem is empty will send me my brides again.

I will take no heed to their raiment, nor food for their mouths withal,
So long as the gulls are nesting, so long as the showers fall.
I will scent 'em with best vanilla, with tea will I temper their hides,
And the Moor and the Mormon shall envy who read of the tale of my brides.

For Maggie has written a letter to give me my choice between
The wee little whimpering Love and the great god Nick o' Teen.
And I have been servant of Love for barely a twelvemonth clear,
But I have been Priest of Cabanas a matter of seven year;

And the gloom of my bachelor days is flecked with the cheery light
Of stums that I burned to Friendship and Pleasure and Work and Fight.
And I turn my eyes to the future that Maggie and I must prove,
But the only light on the marshes is the Will-o'-the-Wisp of Love.

Will it see me safe through my journey or leave me bogged in the mire?
Since a puff of tobacco can cloud it, shall I follow the fitful fire?
Open the old cigar-box -- let me consider anew --
Old friends, and who is Maggie that I should abandon you?

A million surplus Maggies are willing to bear the yoke;
And a woman is only a woman, but a good Cigar is a Smoke.
Light me another Cuba -- I hold to my first-sworn vows.
If Maggie will have no rival, I'll have no Maggie for Spouse!

The Betrothed 1865 - 1936
Rudyard Kipling

Poem for the Day

Posted: 17 June 2013

I am: yet what I am none cares or knows,
My friends forsake me like a memory lost;
I am the self-consumer of my woes,
They rise and vanish in oblivious host,
Like shades in love and death's oblivion lost;
And yet I am! and live with shadows tost

Into the nothingness of scorn and noise,
Into the living sea of waking dreams,
Where there is neither sense of life nor joys,
But the vast shipwreck of my life's esteems;
And e'en the dearest--that I loved the best--
Are strange--nay, rather stranger than the rest.

I long for scenes where man has never trod;
A place where woman never smil'd or wept;
There to abide with my creator, God,
And sleep as I in childhood sweetly slept:
Untroubling and untroubled where I lie;
The grass below--above the vaulted sky.

I Am
John Clare 1793 - 1864

Poem for the Day

Posted: 16 June 2013

Night, be starry-sensed for her,
Your bitter frost be fleece to her.
Comb the vale, slow mist for her,
Lough, be a muscle, tensed for her.

And coals, the only fire in her,
And rain, the only news of her.
Small hills, keep sisters' eyes on her,
Be reticent, desire for her.

Go, stories, leave the breath in her,
The last word to be said by her,
And leave no heart for dead in her.
Steer this ship of dread from her.

No husband lift a hand to her,
No daughter shut the blind on her.
May sails be sewn, seeds grown, for her,
May every kiss be kind to her.

Prayer for Belfast
Carol Rumens 1944 -

Poem for the Day

Posted: 15 June 2013

I love thee—I love thee!
'Tis all that I can say;—
It is my vision in the night,
My dreaming in the day;
The very echo of my heart,
The blessing when I pray:
I love thee—I love thee!
Is all that I can say.

I love thee—I love thee!
Is ever on my tongue;
In all my proudest poesy
That chorus still is sung;
It is the verdict of my eyes,
Amidst the gay and young:
I love thee—I love thee!
A thousand maids among.

I love thee—I love thee!
Thy bright hazel glance,
The mellow lute upon those lips,
Whose tender tones entrance;
But most, dear heart of hearts, thy proofs
That still these words enhance,
I love thee—I love thee!
Whatever be thy chance.

I Love Thee, I love Thee
Thomas Hood 1789 - 1845

Poem for the Day

Posted: 14 June 2013

One of the most tender, loving poems to come from the pen of Burns. I have attached a brief glossary for those of you who might not understand lowland Scots.

Thou's welcome, wean! Mishanter fa' me
If thoughts o' thee, or yet thy Mamie,
Shall ever daunton me or awe me,
My bonnie lady,
Or if I blush when thou shalt ca'me
Tyta, or Daddie!

Tho' now they ca' me fornicator,
And tease my name in kintra clatter,
The mair they talk, I'm kend the better;
E'en let them clash!
An auld wife's tongue's a feckless matter
To gie ane fash!

Welcome, my bonnie, sweet, wee dochter!
Tho' ye came here a wee unsought for.
And tho' your comin I hae fought for
Baith Kirk and Queir,
Yet by my faith, ye're no unwrought for,
That I shall swear.

Wee image o' my bonnie Betty,
As fatherly I kiss and daut thee,
As dear and near my heart I set thee,
Wi' as guide will
As a' the priests had seen me get thee
That's out o'Hell!

Sweet fruit o' mony a merry dint,
My funny toil is no a' tint;
Tho' ye come to the world askent,
Which fools may scoff at,
In my last plack your part's be in't,
The better half o't.

Tho I should be the waur bestead,
Thou's be as braw and bienly clad,
And thy young years as nicely bred
Wi' education,
As ony brat o' wedlock's bed,
In a' thy station.

Lord grant that thou may aye inherit
Thy mither's person, grace and merit,
An' thy poor worthless daddy's spirit
Without his failins,
'Twill please me mair to see thee inherit
Than stockit mailens.

For if thou be, what I would hae thee,
And tak the counsel I shall gie thee,
I'll never rue my trouble wi' thee,
The cost nor shame on't,
But be a loving Father to thee,
And brag the name o't!

A Poet's Welcome to his Love-Begotten Daughter
Robert Burns 1759 - 1796

Glossary
Mishanter fa' me – bad luck to me
To gie an fash – to worry about
Daut – fondle
Dint – encounter
My funny…a' tin t- my pleasant labour is not all wasted
Askent – on the side
In my last plack…better half o't – You shall have the better half of my last farthing
The waur bested – the worse off for it
Stockit mailens – well-stocked farms

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