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Poem of the Day

Posted: 20 March 2013

Into the street the Piper stept,
Smiling first a little smile,
As if he knew what magic slept
In his quiet pipe the while;
Then, like a musical adept,
To blow the pipe his lips he wrinkled,
And green and blue his sharp eyes twinkled,
Like a candle-flame where salt is sprinkled;
And ere three shrill notes the pipe uttered,
You heard as if an army muttered;
And the muttering grew to a grumbling;
And the grumbling grew to a mighty rumbling;
And out of the houses the rats came tumbling.
Great rats, small rats, lean rats, brawny rats,
Brown rats, black rats, gray rats, tawny rats,
Grave old plodders, gay young friskers,
Fathers, mothers, uncles, cousins,
Cocking tails and pricking whiskers,
Families by tens and dozens,
Brothers, sisters, husbands, wives--
Followed the Piper for their lives.
From street to street he piped advancing,
And step for step they followed dancing,
Until they came to the river Weser
Wherein all plunged and perished!
- Save one who, stout as Julius Caesar,
Swam across and lived to carry
(As he, the manuscript he cherished)
To Rat-land home his commentary:
Which was, "At the first shrill notes of the pipe,
I heard a sound as of scraping tripe,
And putting apples, wondrous ripe,
Into a cider-press's gripe:
And a moving away of pickle-tub-boards,
And a leaving ajar of conserve-cupboards,
And a drawing the corks of train-oil-flasks,
And a breaking the hoops of butter-casks:
And it seemed as if a voice
(Sweeter far than by harp or by psaltery
Is breathed) called out, 'Oh rats, rejoice!
The world is grown to one vast dry-saltery!
So munch on, crunch on, take your nuncheon,
Breakfast, supper, dinner, luncheon!'
And just as a bulky sugar-puncheon,
All ready staved, like a great sun shone
Glorious scarce an inch before me,
Just as methought it said 'Come bore me!' 
- I found the Weser rolling o'er me."

from The Pied Piper of Hamelin
Robert Browning 1812 - 1889

Poem for the Day

Posted: 19 March 2013

Sweep thy faint strings, Musician,
With thy long, lean hand;
Downward the starry tapers burn,
Sinks soft the waning sand;
The old hound whimpers couched in sleep,
The embers smoulder low;
Across the wall the shadows
Come, and go.

Sweep softly thy strings, Musician,
The minutes mount to hours;
Frost on the windless casement weaves
A labyrinth of flowers;
Ghosts linger in the darkening air,
hearken at the opening door;
Music hath called them, dreaming,
Home once more.

The Song of Shadows
Walter de la Mare 1873 - 1956

Poem for the Day

Posted: 15 March 2013

When I am an old man I shall not wear beige.
I shall wear faded denim and cowboy boots which are down at heel and need soled.
I shall spend all my money on guitar strings and magazines and beer,
And buy coffee for the old women wearing purple.
I shall still wear a golden earing, like some kind of ancient, gypsy minstrel,
And go out in port and starboard socks like Kate and Anna McGarrigle.
I shall sing the protest songs I learned as a teenager
That demand to know where all the flowers have gone.
And I shall argue in public with traffic wardens and slow check-out girls,
And swear loudly at religious zealots and politicians
To challenge the arrogance of their self-promoting dogma.

I shall turn up at music festivals with my guitar
And people will look and say, “I thought he was dead.”
And I will release a CD of new songs
That shall have on its cover a cautionary label which says:
Fuck Parental Guidance!

Just for now though, in my sombre middle age, I have to act responsibly
And not embarrass my friends and family.
I have to eat sensibly and not drink too much,
And pay my taxes and vote.

But later on, when I am old, my friends will know
That in my dotage I am just rebelling late in life
Against the strict, grey Presbyterianism of my youth.

Omen: A Man’s Reply to Jenny Joseph
Bill Adair

Poem for the Day

Posted: 14 March 2013

When I am an old woman I shall wear purple
With a red hat which doesn't go, and doesn't suit me.
And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves
And satin sandals, and say we've no money for butter.
I shall sit down on the pavement when I'm tired
And gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells
And run my stick along the public railings
And make up for the sobriety of my youth.
I shall go out in my slippers in the rain
And pick flowers in other people's gardens
And learn to spit.

You can wear terrible shirts and grow more fat
And eat three pounds of sausages at a go
Or only bread and pickle for a week
And hoard pens and pencils and beermats and things in boxes.

But now we must have clothes that keep us dry
And pay our rent and not swear in the street
And set a good example for the children.
We must have friends to dinner and read the papers.

But maybe I ought to practice a little now?
So people who know me are not too shocked and surprised
When suddenly I am old, and start to wear purple.

Warning
Jenny Joseph 1932 -

Poem for the Day

Posted: 13 March 2013

In memory of the 16 children and their teacher were killed at Dunblane Primary School on 13 March 1996.

When I was one I was just begun
When I was two I nearly new
When I was three I was nearly me
When I was four I was that much more
When I was five I was just alive
Now that I am six I'm as clever as clever
I think I'll stay six for ever and ever.

When I Was One
A.A.Milne 1882 - 1956

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