Poetry – December

Tis done! Dread Winter spreads his latest glooms,
And reigns tremendous o’er the conquered year.
How dead the vegetable kingdom lies!
How dumb the tuneful! Horror wide extends
His desolate domain. Behold fond man!
See here thy pictured life: pass some few years,
Thy flowering spring, thy summer’s ardent strength,
Thy sober autumn fading into age,
And pale concluding winter comes at last.

— George Thompson Hutchinson

Poetry – A Recollection

My father’s friend came once to tea.
He laughed and talked. He spoke to me.
But in another week they said
That friendly pink-faced man was dead.

“How sad . .” they said, “the best of men . .”
So I said too, “How sad”; but then
Deep in my heart I thought with pride,
“I know a person who has died.”

— Frances Cornford

Poetry – Invictus

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds and shall find me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate,
I am the captain of my soul.

— William Ernest Henley

Poetry – The Watch

I wakened on my hot, hard bed;
Upon the pillow lay my head;
Beneath the pillow I could hear
My little watch was ticking clear.
I thought the throbbing of it went
Like my continual discontent;
I thought it said in every tick:
I am so sick, so sick, so sick;
O death, come quick, come quick, come quick,
Come quick, come quick, come quick, come quick.

— Frances Darwin Cornford

Poetry – In Dorset

From muddy road to muddy lane
I plodded through the falling rain;
For miles and miles was nothing there
But mist, and mud, and hedges bare.

At length approaching I espied
Two gipsy women side by side;
They turned their faces broad and bold
And brown and freshened by the cold,
And stared at me in gipsy wise
With shrewd, unfriendly, savage eyes.

No word they said, no more dared I;
And so we passed each other by—
The only living things that met
In all those miles of mist and wet.

— Frances Darwin Cornford

Poetry – Peach

Would you like to throw a stone at me?
Here, take all that’s left of my peach.

Blood-red, deep;
Heaven knows how it came to pass.
Somebody’s pound of flesh rendered up.

Wrinkled with secrets
And hard with the intention to keep them.

Why, from silvery peach-bloom,
From that shallow-silvery wine-glass on a short stem
This rolling, dropping, heavy globule?

I am thinking, of course, of the peach before I ate it.

Why so velvety, why so voluptuous heavy?
Why hanging with such inordinate weight?
Why so indented?

Why the groove?
Why the lovely, bivalve roundnesses?
Why the ripple down the sphere?
Why the suggestion of incision?

Why was not my peach round and finished like a billiard ball?
It would have been if man had made it.
Though I’ve eaten it now.

But it wasn’t round and finished like a billiard ball.
And because I say so, you would like to throw something at me.

Here, you can have my peach stone.

— San Gervasio

Poetry – Pomegranate

You tell me I am wrong.
Who are you, who is anybody to tell me I am wrong?
I am not wrong.

In Syracuse, rock left bare by the viciousness of Greek women,
No doubt you have forgotten the pomegranate-trees in flower,
Oh so red, and such a lot of them.

Whereas at Venice
Abhorrent, green, slippery city
Whose Doges were old, and had ancient eyes,
In the dense foliage of the inner garden
Pomegranates like bright green stone,
And barbed, barbed with a crown.
Oh, crown of spiked green metal
Actually growing!

Now in Tuscany,
Pomegranates to warm your hands at;
And crowns, kingly, generous, tilting crowns
Over the left eyebrow.

And, if you dare, the fissure!

Do you mean to tell me you will see no fissure?
Do you prefer to look on the plain side?

For all that, the setting suns are open.
The end cracks open with the beginning:
Rosy, tender, glittering within the fissure.

Do you mean to tell me there should be no fissure?
No glittering, compact drops of dawn?

Do you mean it is wrong, the gold-filmed skin, integument, shown ruptured?

For my part, I prefer my heart to be broken.
It is so lovely, dawn-kaleidoscopic within the crack.

— San Gervasio in Tuscany