Category Archives: Weekly Poems

Holy Sonnet XIV

This week’s poem is inspired by the sermon at Evensong at the Cathedral Church of St. James, where the sermon was about John Donne.

Batter my heart, three person’d God; for, you
As yet but knocke, breathe, shine, and seeke to med;
That I may rise, and stand, o’erthrow mee,’and bend
Your force, to breake, blowe, burn and make me new.
I, like an usurpt towne, to’another due,
Labout to’admit you, but Oh, to no end,
Reason your viceroy in mee, mee should defend,
But is captiv’d, and proves weake or untrue.
Yet dearely’I love you,’and would be loved faine,
But am betroth’d unto your enemie:
Divocre mee,’untie, or breake that knot againe,
Take mee to you, imprison mee, for I
Except you’enthrall mee, never shall be free,
Nor ever chast, except you ravish mee.

Poem of the Week: Ode to a Haggis

In honour of him whom we honoured on Monday:

ODE TO A HAGGIS

Fair fa’ your honest, sonsie face,
Great Chieftan o’ the Puddin-race!
Aboon them a’ ye tak your place,
Painch, tripe, or thairm:
Weel are ye wordy of a grace
As lang’s my arm

The groaning trencher there ye fill,
Your hurdies like a distant hill,
You pin wad help to mend a mill
In time o’need
While thro’ your pores the dews distil
Like amber bead

His knife see Rustic-labour dight,
An’ cut you up wi’ ready slight,
Trenching your gushing entrails bright
Like onie ditch;
And then, O what a glorious sight,
Warm-reeking, rich!

Then, horn for horn they stretch an’ strive,
Deil tak the hindmost, on they drive,
Till a’ their weel-swall’d kytes belyve
Are bent like drums;
Then auld Guidman, maist like to rive
Bethankit hums

Is there that owre his French ragout,
Or olio that wad staw a sow,
Or fricassee wad mak her spew
Wi’ perfect sconner,
Looks down wi’ sneering, scornfu’ view
On sic a dinner?

Poor devil! see him owre his trash,
As feckless as a wither’d rash
His spindle-shank a guid whip-lash,
His nieve a nit;
Thro’ bluidy flood or field to dash,
O how unfit!

But mark the Rustic, haggis-fed,
The trembling earth resounds his tread,
Clap in his walie nieve a blade,
He’ll mak it whissle;
An’ legs, an’ arms an’ heads will sned,
Like taps o’ thrissle

Ye pow’rs wha mak mankind your care,
An’ dish them out their bill o’fare,
Auld Scotland wants nae skinking ware
That jaups in luggies;
But, if ye wish her gratefu’ pray’r,
Gie her a Haggis!

Poem of the Week: “I Would I Were a Careless Child”

This week’s poem is by George Gordon, Lord Byron.  “I Would I Were a Careless Child”

I would I were a careless child,
Still dwelling in my Highland cave,
Or roaming through the dusk wild,
Or bounding o’er the dark blue wave;
The cumbrous pomp of Saxon pride
Accords not with the freeborn soul,
Which loves the mountain’s craggy side,
And seeks the rocks where billows roll.

Fortune! take back these cultured lands,
Take back this name of splendid sound!
I hate the touch of servile hands,
I hate the slaves that cringe around.
Place me among the rocks I love,
Which sound to Ocean’s wildest roar;
I ask but this — again to rove
Through scenes my youth hath known before.

Few are my years, and yet I feel
The world was ne’er design’d for me:
Ah! why do dark’ning shades conceal
The hour when man must cease to be?
Once I beheld a splendid dream,
A visionary scene of bliss:
Truth — wherefore did thy hated beam
Awake me to a world like this?

I loved — but those I loved are gone;
Had friends — my early friends are fled:
How cheerless feels the heart alone
When all its former hopes are dead!
Though gay companions o’er the bowl
Dispel awhile the sense of ill;
Though pleasure stirs the maddening soul,
The heart — the heart — is lonely still.

How dull! to hear the voice of those
Whom rank or chance, whom wealth or power,
Have made, though neither friends nor foes,
Associates of the festive hour.
Give me again a faithful few,
In years and feelings still the same,
And I will fly the midnight crew,
Where boist’rous joy is but a name.

And woman, lovely woman! thou,
My hope, my comforter, my all!
How cold must be my bosom now,
When e’en thy smiles begin to pall!
Without a sight would I resign
This busy scene of splendid woe,
To make that calm contentment mine,
Which virtue knows, or seems to know.

Fain would I fly the haunts of men —
I seek to shun, not hate mankind;
My breast requires the sullen glen,
Whose gloom may suit a darken’d mind.
Oh! that to me the wings were given
Which bear the turtle to her nest!
Then would I cleave the vault of heaven,
To flee away, and be at rest.

Poem of the Week: Joshua Giraffe

In honour of my new job, here’s something by Raffi, “Joshua Giraffe”:

Joshua Giraffe was born in a zoo
He lived there, too, for two years
And a half he hasn’t had a bath
My mommy doesn’t lick me
Even when I’m sticky from
Candy floss, candy apples, popcorn,
Soft drinks, jelly beans and gumdrops
And there must be something better
Than living in this cage
But I’m really not to sure
Because I’m really short of age.

Joshua Giraffe was feeling kind of sad
Things were going bad
How little of life he had
Wasting away with no room to play
Trapped in a zoo with buffalo poo.
So he went next door to the elephant
And asked him what to do
I’m wasting away with no room to play
I’m trapped in a zoom with buffalo poo.
The elephant was very old and gray
And he had a huge balloon bottom
He said, “Never fear Joshua,
For a vision will appear.”

That night a dream came to Joshua and
Joshua saw animals, like crazy monkeys
And a whole pile of
Hippypotostropasuses
And flitty moths, frogs size 12
And sleazy lizards
and a tribe of nasty saviars
But Joshua wasn’t afraid
Because he sang himself this song:

“Nothing can go wrong-o
I’m in the Kongo
Nothing can go wrong-o
I’m in the Kongo
Nothing can go wrong-o
I’m in the Kongo
Nothing can go wrong-o
I’m in the Kongo
Nothing can go wrong-o
I’m in the Kongo
Nothing can go wrong-o
I’m in the Kongo”

Even in his dream he knew
He’d never get away,
Not even for a day
Then a peanut hit him on the nose.
Joshua Giraffe was back in the zoo.
What could he do
Awakened from his dream
He’d never be the same
Because of things he’d seen
He’d seen:
Alligators, crocodiles, tree sloths
Anacondas, cobras and
Large-winged moths
Orangatangs, gorillas, baboons eating grapes
Gibbons, rude mandrills and just plain apes.

But Joshua was lucky
He had some special friends
And that day they went to the zoo
But he was up tight so they waited till the night
And they chopped his cage in two
He discovered he could fly and
He soared into the sky with them
Wrapped around his neck
And they haven’t come back yet.
So if you see them, get a net.

That’s right, they haven’t come back yet.
But when they do, they say they are
Going to free all the animals from their cages
No matter how new or modern
Even some pets, too.
So if on your way home today
You happen to find…

A baboon basking in the balcony
Or a lion licking a lemon in the lobby
Or a python perched in the pantry
A wildebeest in the W.C.
With a turtle twirling in your tub,
Don’t be afraid, just say you’re a friend
Of their friend,

Joshua Giraffe, Joshua, Joshua
Joshua Giraffe, Joshua, Joshua
(woo hoo)

Poem of the Week: The Canticle of Brother Sun

This week’s poem is St. Francis of Assisi’s “Canticle of Brother Sun.”  This is the original of Weekly Poem #27.

Most high, all-powerful, good Lord,
Yours are the praises, the glory, the honor, and all belssing.
To You alone, Most High, do they belong,
and no man is worthy to mention Your name.
Praised be You, my Lord, with all your creatures,
especially Sir Brother Sun,
who is the day and through whom You give us light.
And he is beautiful and radiant with great splendor;
and bears a likeness of You, most high One.
Praised be You, my Lord, through Sister Moon and the stars;
in heaven You formed them clear and precious and beautiful.
Praised be You, my Lord, through Brother Wind,
and through the air, cloudy and serene, and every kind of weather
through which You give sustenance to Your creatures.
Praised be You, my Lord, through Sister Water,
who is very useful and humble and precious and chaste.
Praised be You, my Lord, through Brother Fire,
through whom You light the night,
and he is beautiful and playful and robust and strong.
Praised be You, my Lord, through our Sister Mother Earth,
who sustains and governs us,
and who produces varied fruits with colored flowers and herbs.
Praised be You, my Lord, through those who give pardon for Your love
and bear infirmity and tribulation.
Blessed are those who endure in peace,
for by You, Most High, they shall be crowned.
Praised be You, my Lord, through our Sister Bodily Death,
from whom no living man can escape.
Woe to those who die in mortal sin.
Blessed are those whom death will find in Your most holy will,
for the second death shall do them no harm.
Praise and bless my Lord and give Him thanks
and serve Him with great humility.

Translation from Francis & Clare of Assisi: Selected Writings in the HarperCollins Spiritual Classics Series

Poem of the Week: Homeric Hymn to Apollo

In light of the Greek Sight Exam yesterday, here’s the beginning of the “Homeric Hymn to Apollo”, Michael Crudden’s translation:

I’ll remember and not forget Apollo who shoots from afar.
When he comes, a trembling seizes the gods in Zeus’ abode;
And, as he approaches near, they all leap up from their seats,
When he stretches his brilliant bow.  The only one to remain
By Zeus whom thunder delights is Leto: she loosens the string,
The quiver she shuts, and the bow with her hands from his strong shoulders takes,
Against his father’s pillar to hang from a peg of gold;
Him she escorts to a throne.  His father to him gives
A golden goblet of nektar, saluting his own dear son;
Then the other deities sit, and queenly Leto exults
At the fact that she gave birth to a bow-bearing, mighty son.
Hail to you, blessed Leto, since splendid children you bore,
Lord Apollo and archeress Artemis — her at Ortygia, him
On Delos’ rocky isle, where against a tall mountain you leaned,
The mound of Kynthos, hard by the palm at Inopos’ streams.