Look On My Works, Ye Mighty, and Despair!

Look On My Works, Ye Mighty, and Despair!

“You turned off the main desert road, and, in half an hour of bumping along a smaller trail, came to a tremendous, assertive mass of ancient grey stone. This was the palace of Darius the Great, in whose day the desert was sedulously irrigated and the city was not an oasis at all, but the concentration of a princess power and wealth. These massive columns and steps, bolder and grander than any ruin I had ever seen, were monuments to the egotism of a rich, cruel and successful empire.” Vincent Sheean, Personal History

Ozymandias

Percy Bysshe Shelly (1792–1822)

I met a traveller from an antique land,
Who said—“Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. . . . Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed;
And on the pedestal, these words appear:
My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings;
Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal Wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.”

Editors’s note: Ozymandias is Ramesses II of Egypt


Temple d’Abu Simbel / Public domain

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Deep House and Trance Break

Twitch continues to amaze me. Where can you find this live experience anywhere else? The set is at the Exchange in Los Angeles.

Although this 62 year old loves rock and roll, techno has always sounded good to me and trance and deep house are just as good. I actually liked Kraftwerk from the start but that is really dating me.

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John Charles Fremont The Explorer

Have I ever posted a picture of my cat? I adopted him under the name of Fremont which I have since extended. Here he is tonight, eyeing me from his cat perch as I watch television from the couch below.

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The Singsong of Old Man Kangaroo

The Singsong of Old Man Kangaroo

by Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936)

I think of Kipling (internal link — one of several) as a master of putting down difficult dialects on a page, similarly skilled as Mark Twain. The confidence and style he showed with his children stories, though, is equally impressive.

In this story he repeats certain sentences and phrases over and over. They do not detract from the work, rather, they become more and more important to the story as the tale goes on. “He had to,” is a phrase insistent, but when you read it five or six times you realize, “He _had_ to.” Marvelous stuff.

This is a nice group reading.

NOT always was the Kangaroo as now we do behold him, but a Different Animal with four short legs. He was grey and he was woolly, and his pride was inordinate: he danced on an outcrop in the middle of Australia, and he went to the Little God Nqa.

He went to Nqa at six before breakfast, saying, ‘Make me different from all other animals by five this afternoon.’

Up jumped Nqa from his seat on the sandflat and shouted, ‘Go away!’

He was grey and he was woolly, and his pride was inordinate: he danced on a rock-ledge in the middle of Australia, and he went to the Middle God Nquing.

He went to Nquing at eight after breakfast, saying, ‘ Make me different from all other animals; make me, also, wonderfully popular by five this afternoon.’

Up jumped Nquing from his burrow in the spinifex and shouted, ‘Go away!’

He was grey and he was woolly, and his pride was inordinate: he danced on a sandbank in the middle of Australia, and he went to the Big God Nqong.

He went to Nqong at ten before dinner-time, saying, ‘Make me different from all other animals; make me popular and wonderfully run after by five this afternoon.’

Up jumped Nqong from his bath in the salt-pan and shouted, ‘Yes, I will!’

Nqong called Dingo—Yellow-Dog Dingo—always hungry, dusty in the sunshine, and showed him Kangaroo. Nqong said, ‘Dingo! Wake up, Dingo! Do you see that gentleman dancing on an ashpit? He wants to be popular and very truly run after. Dingo, make him SO!’

Up jumped Dingo—Yellow-Dog Dingo—and said, ‘What, that cat-rabbit?’

Off ran Dingo—Yellow-Dog Dingo—always hungry, grinning like a coal-scuttle,—ran after Kangaroo.

Off went the proud Kangaroo on his four little legs like a bunny.

This, O Beloved of mine, ends the first part of the tale!

He ran through the desert; he ran through the mountains; he ran through the salt-pans; he ran through the reed-beds; he ran through the blue gums; he ran through the spinifex; he ran till his front legs ached.

He had to!

Still ran Dingo—Yellow-Dog Dingo—always hungry, grinning like a rat-trap, never getting nearer, never getting farther,—ran after Kangaroo.

He had to!

Still ran Kangaroo—Old Man Kangaroo. He ran through the ti-trees; he ran through the mulga; he ran through the long grass; he ran through the short grass; he ran through the Tropics of Capricorn and Cancer; he ran till his hind legs ached.

He had to!

Still ran Dingo—Yellow-Dog Dingo—hungrier and hungrier, grinning like a horse-collar, never getting nearer, never getting farther; and they came to the Wollgong River.

Now, there wasn’t any bridge, and there wasn’t any ferry-boat, and Kangaroo didn’t know how to get over; so he stood on his legs and hopped.

He had to!

He hopped through the Flinders; he hopped through the Cinders; he hopped through the deserts in the middle of Australia. He hopped like a Kangaroo.

First he hopped one yard; then he hopped three yards; then he hopped five yards; his legs growing stronger; his legs growing longer. He hadn’t any time for rest or refreshment, and he wanted them very much.

Still ran Dingo—Yellow-Dog Dingo—very much bewildered, very much hungry, and wondering what in the world or out of it made Old Man Kangaroo hop.

For he hopped like a cricket; like a pea in a saucepan; or a new rubber ball on a nursery floor.

He had to!

He tucked up his front legs; he hopped on his hind legs; he stuck out his tail for a balance-weight behind him; and he hopped through the Darling Downs.

He had to!

Still ran Dingo—Tired-Dog Dingo—hungrier and hungrier, very much bewildered, and wondering when in the world or out of it would Old Man Kangaroo stop.

Then came Nqong from his bath in the salt-pans, and said, ‘It’s five o’clock.’

Down sat Dingo—Poor Dog Dingo—always hungry, dusky in the sunshine; hung out his tongue and howled.

Down sat Kangaroo—Old Man Kangaroo—stuck out his tail like a milking-stool behind him, and said, ‘Thank goodness that’s finished!’

Then said Nqong, who is always a gentleman, ‘Why aren’t you grateful to Yellow-Dog Dingo? Why don’t you thank him for all he has done for you?’

Then said Kangaroo—Tired Old Kangaroo—He’s chased me out of the homes of my childhood; he’s chased me out of my regular meal-times; he’s altered my shape so I’ll never get it back; and he’s played Old Scratch with my legs.’

Then said Nqong, ‘Perhaps I’m mistaken, but didn’t you ask me to make you different from all other animals, as well as to make you very truly sought after? And now it is five o’clock.’

‘Yes,’ said Kangaroo. ‘I wish that I hadn’t. I thought you would do it by charms and incantations, but this is a practical joke.’

‘Joke!’ said Nqong from his bath in the blue gums. ‘Say that again and I’ll whistle up Dingo and run your hind legs off.’

‘No,’ said the Kangaroo. ‘I must apologise. Legs are legs, and you needn’t alter ‘em so far as I am concerned. I only meant to explain to Your Lordliness that I’ve had nothing to eat since morning, and I’m very empty indeed.’

‘Yes,’ said Dingo—Yellow-Dog Dingo,—’I am just in the same situation. I’ve made him different from all other animals; but what may I have for my tea?’

Then said Nqong from his bath in the salt-pan, ‘Come and ask me about it tomorrow, because I’m going to wash.’

So they were left in the middle of Australia, Old Man Kangaroo and Yellow-Dog Dingo, and each said, ‘That’s your fault.’ 

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February Twilight

Name a sweeter 26 second poem. I defy you!

February Twilight

by Sara Teasdale (1884 – 1933)

Read by Ghizela Rowe

I stood beside a hill
Smooth with new-laid snow,
A single star looked out
From the cold evening glow.

There was no other creature
That saw what I could see—
I stood and watched the evening star
As long as it watched me.

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A Sample of Beachey Head

A Sample of Beachey Head

This is just a portion of Beachey Head, written by Charlotte Smith and read by Ghizela Rowe.

Beachey Head is an amazing word portrait, you can almost picture the chalky bluff at Beachey Head and hear the sound of the ocean.

“Emerging, brilliant rays of arrowy light . . .” Arrowy light is a brilliantly turned phrase. She captures sunset and moon rise as well as any poet.

Unfortunately for me, Smith departs too quickly from her seascape word play to present a very long musing on something about England’s history.

I can’t follow that meditation but there are many fine quotes hidden within what she felt compelled to write.

For me, it’s as if a master painter of the sea gathered up her brushes, headed inland, and then sat down to produce mediocre images of poppies and what not. That’s just my opinion, I don’t write poetry and I couldn’t equal even her poorer work.

Beachey Head (in part)

Charlotte Smith ( 1749 – 1806)
On thy stupendous summit, rock sublime !
That o’er the channel rear’d, half way at sea
The mariner at early morning hails,
I would recline; while Fancy should go forth,
And represent the strange and awful hour
Of vast concussion; when the Omnipotent
Stretch’d forth his arm, and rent the solid hills,
Bidding the impetuous main flood rush between

The rifted shores, and from the continent
Eternally divided this green isle.
Imperial lord of the high southern coast !
From thy projecting head-land I would mark
Far in the east the shades of night disperse,
Melting and thinned, as from the dark blue wave
Emerging, brilliant rays of arrowy light
Dart from the horizon; when the glorious sun
Just lifts above it his resplendent orb.
Advances now, with feathery silver touched,
The rippling tide of flood; glisten the sands,
While, inmates of the chalky clefts that scar
Thy sides precipitous, with shrill harsh cry,
Their white wings glancing in the level beam,
The terns, and gulls, and tarrocks, seek their food,
And thy rough hollows echo to the voice

Of the gray choughs, and ever restless daws,
With clamour, not unlike the chiding hounds,
While the lone shepherd, and his baying dog,
Drive to thy turfy crest his bleating flock.
The high meridian of the day is past,
And Ocean now, reflecting the calm Heaven,
Is of cerulean hue; and murmurs low
The tide of ebb, upon the level sands.
The sloop, her angular canvas shifting still,
Catches the light and variable airs
That but a little crisp the summer sea.
Dimpling its tranquil surface.
Afar off,
And just emerging from the arch immense

Where seem to part the elements, a fleet
Of fishing vessels stretch their lesser sails;
While more remote, and like a dubious spot
Just hanging in the horizon, laden deep,
The ship of commerce richly freighted, makes
Her slower progress, on her distant voyage,
Bound to the orient climates, where the sun
Matures the spice within its odorous shell,
And, rivalling the gray worm’s filmy toil,
Bursts from its pod the vegetable down;
Which in long turban’d wreaths, from torrid heat
Defends the brows of Asia’s countless casts.
There the Earth hides within her glowing breast
The beamy adamant, and the round pearl
Enchased in rugged covering; which the slave,
With perilous and breathless toil, tears off

From the rough sea-rock, deep beneath the waves.

Editor’s note: YouTube video narration ends here. Below, the rest of the poem:

These are the toys of Nature; and her sport
Of little estimate in Reason’s eye:
And they who reason, with abhorrence see
Man, for such gaudes and baubles, violate
The sacred freedom of his fellow man­
Erroneous estimate ! As Heaven’s pure air,
Fresh as it blows on this aërial height,
Or sound of seas upon the stony strand,
Or inland, the gay harmony of birds,
And winds that wander in the leafy woods;
Are to the unadulterate taste more worth
Than the elaborate harmony, brought out
From fretted stop, or modulated airs
Of vocal science.­So the brightest gems,
Glancing resplendent on the regal crown,

Or trembling in the high born beauty’s ear,
Are poor and paltry, to the lovely light
Of the fair star, that as the day declines,
Attendant on her queen, the crescent moon,
Bathes her bright tresses in the eastern wave.
Emerging, brilliant rays of arrowy light

Wandering sublime thro’ visionary vales,
Where bright pavilions rise, and trophies, fann’d
By airs celestial; and adorn’d with wreaths
Of flowers that bloom amid elysian bowers.
Now bright, and brighter still the colours glow,
Till half the lustrous orb within the flood
Seems to retire: the flood reflecting still
Its splendor, and in mimic glory drest;
Till the last ray shot upward, fires the clouds
With blazing crimson; then in paler light,
Long lines of tenderer radiance, lingering yield
To partial darkness; and on the opposing side
The early moon distinctly rising, throws
Her pearly brilliance on the trembling tide.

The fishermen, who at set seasons pass
Many a league off at sea their toiling night,
Now hail their comrades, from their daily task
Returning; and make ready for their own,
With the night tide commencing:­The night tide
Bears a dark vessel on, whose hull and sails
Mark her a coaster from the north. Her keel
Now ploughs the sand; and sidelong now she leans,
While with loud clamours her athletic crew
Unload her; and resounds the busy hum
Along the wave-worn rocks. Yet more remote,
Where the rough cliff hangs beetling o’er its base,
All breathes repose; the water’s rippling sound
Scarce heard; but now and then the sea-snipe’s cry
Just tells that something living is abroad;
And sometimes crossing on the moonbright line,

Glimmers the skiff, faintly discern’d awhile,
Then lost in shadow.
Contemplation here,
High on her throne of rock, aloof may sit,
And bid recording Memory unfold
Her scroll voluminous­bid her retrace
The period, when from Neustria’s hostile shore
The Norman launch’d his galleys, and the bay
O’er which that mass of ruin frowns even now
In vain and sullen menace, then received
The new invaders; a proud martial race,
Of Scandinavia the undaunted sons,
Whom Dogon, Fier-a-bras, and Humfroi led
To conquest: while Trinacria to their power
Yielded her wheaten garland; and when thou,

Parthenope! within thy fertile bay
Receiv’d the victors­
In the mailed ranks
Of Normans landing on the British coast
Rode Taillefer; and with astounding voice
Thunder’d the war song daring Roland sang
First in the fierce contention: vainly brave,
One not inglorious struggle England made­
But failing, saw the Saxon heptarchy
Finish for ever.­Then the holy pile,
Yet seen upon the field of conquest, rose,
Where to appease heaven’s wrath for so much blood,
The conqueror bade unceasing prayers ascend,
And requiems for the slayers and the slain.
But let not modern Gallia form from hence

Presumptuous hopes, that ever thou again,
Queen of the isles ! shalt crouch to foreign arms.
The enervate sons of Italy may yield;
And the Iberian, all his trophies torn
And wrapp’d in Superstition’s monkish weed,
May shelter his abasement, and put on
Degrading fetters. Never, never thou !
Imperial mistress of the obedient sea;
But thou, in thy integrity secure,
Shalt now undaunted meet a world in arms.
England ! ’twas where this promontory rears
Its rugged brow above the channel wave,
Parting the hostile nations, that thy fame,
Thy naval fame was tarnish’d, at what time
Thou, leagued with the Batavian, gavest to France

One day of triumph­triumph the more loud,
Because even then so rare. Oh ! well redeem’d,
Since, by a series of illustrious men,
Such as no other country ever rear’d,
To vindicate her cause. It is a list
Which, as Fame echoes it, blanches the cheek
Of bold Ambition; while the despot feels
The extorted sceptre tremble in his grasp.
From even the proudest roll by glory fill’d,
How gladly the reflecting mind returns
To simple scenes of peace and industry,
Where, bosom’d in some valley of the hills
Stands the lone farm; its gate with tawny ricks
Surrounded, and with granaries and sheds,
Roof’d with green mosses, and by elms and ash

Partially shaded; and not far remov’d
The hut of sea-flints built; the humble home
Of one, who sometimes watches on the heights,
When hid in the cold mist of passing clouds,
The flock, with dripping fleeces, are dispers’d
O’er the wide down; then from some ridged point
That overlooks the sea, his eager eye
Watches the bark that for his signal waits
To land its merchandize:­Quitting for this
Clandestine traffic his more honest toil,
The crook abandoning, he braves himself
The heaviest snow-storm of December’s night,
When with conflicting winds the ocean raves,
And on the tossing boat, unfearing mounts
To meet the partners of the perilous trade,
And share their hazard. Well it were for him,

If no such commerce of destruction known,
He were content with what the earth affords
To human labour; even where she seems
Reluctant most. More happy is the hind,
Who, with his own hands rears on some black moor,
Or turbary, his independent hut
Cover’d with heather, whence the slow white smoke
Of smouldering peat arises­­A few sheep,
His best possession, with his children share
The rugged shed when wintry tempests blow;
But, when with Spring’s return the green blades rise
Amid the russet heath, the household live
Joint tenants of the waste throughout the day,
And often, from her nest, among the swamps,
Where the gemm’d sun-dew grows, or fring’d buck-bean,
They scare the plover, that with plaintive cries

Flutters, as sorely wounded, down the wind.
Rude, and but just remov’d from savage life
Is the rough dweller among scenes like these,
(Scenes all unlike the poet’s fabling dreams
Describing Arcady)­But he is free;
The dread that follows on illegal acts
He never feels; and his industrious mate
Shares in his labour. Where the brook is traced
By crouding osiers, and the black coot hides
Among the plashy reeds, her diving brood,
The matron wades; gathering the long green rush
That well prepar’d hereafter lends its light
To her poor cottage, dark and cheerless else
Thro’ the drear hours of Winter. Otherwhile
She leads her infant group where charlock grows
‘Unprofitably gay,’ or to the fields,

Where congregate the linnet and the finch,
That on the thistles, so profusely spread,
Feast in the desert; the poor family
Early resort, extirpating with care
These, and the gaudier mischief of the ground;
Then flames the high rais’d heap; seen afar off
Like hostile war-fires flashing to the sky.
Another task is theirs: On fields that shew
As angry Heaven had rain’d sterility,
Stony and cold, and hostile to the plough,
Where clamouring loud, the evening curlew runs
And drops her spotted eggs among the flints;
The mother and the children pile the stones
In rugged pyramids;­and all this toil
They patiently encounter; well content
On their flock bed to slumber undisturb’d

Beneath the smoky roof they call their own.
Oh ! little knows the sturdy hind, who stands
Gazing, with looks where envy and contempt
Are often strangely mingled, on the car
Where prosperous Fortune sits; what secret care
Or sick satiety is often hid,
Beneath the splendid outside: He knows not
How frequently the child of Luxury
Enjoying nothing, flies from place to place
In chase of pleasure that eludes his grasp;
And that content is e’en less found by him,
Than by the labourer, whose pick-axe smooths
The road before his chariot; and who doffs
What was an hat; and as the train pass on,
Thinks how one day’s expenditure, like this,

Would cheer him for long months, when to his toil
The frozen earth closes her marble breast.
Ah ! who is happy ? Happiness ! a word
That like false fire, from marsh effluvia born,
Misleads the wanderer, destin’d to contend
In the world’s wilderness, with want or woe­
Yet they are happy, who have never ask’d
What good or evil means. The boy
That on the river’s margin gaily plays,
Has heard that Death is there­He knows not Death,
And therefore fears it not; and venturing in
He gains a bullrush, or a minnow­then,
At certain peril, for a worthless prize,
A crow’s, or raven’s nest, he climbs the boll,

Of some tall pine; and of his prowess proud,
Is for a moment happy. Are your cares,
Ye who despise him, never worse applied ?
The village girl is happy, who sets forth
To distant fair, gay in her Sunday suit,
With cherry colour’d knots, and flourish’d shawl,
And bonnet newly purchas’d. So is he
Her little brother, who his mimic drum
Beats, till he drowns her rural lovers’ oaths
Of constant faith, and still increasing love;
Ah ! yet a while, and half those oaths believ’d,
Her happiness is vanish’d; and the boy
While yet a stripling, finds the sound he lov’d
Has led him on, till he has given up
His freedom, and his happiness together.

I once was happy, when while yet a child,
I learn’d to love these upland solitudes,
And, when elastic as the mountain air,
To my light spirit, care was yet unknown
And evil unforeseen:­Early it came,
And childhood scarcely passed, I was condemned,
A guiltless exile, silently to sigh,
While Memory, with faithful pencil, drew
The contrast; and regretting, I compar’d
With the polluted smoky atmosphere
And dark and stifling streets, the southern hills
That to the setting Sun, their graceful heads
Rearing, o’erlook the frith, where Vecta breaks
With her white rocks, the strong impetuous tide,
When western winds the vast Atlantic urge
To thunder on the coast­Haunts of my youth !

Scenes of fond day dreams, I behold ye yet !
Where ’twas so pleasant by thy northern slopes
To climb the winding sheep-path, aided oft
By scatter’d thorns: whose spiny branches bore
Small woolly tufts, spoils of the vagrant lamb
There seeking shelter from the noon-day sun;
And pleasant, seated on the short soft turf,
To look beneath upon the hollow way
While heavily upward mov’d the labouring wain,
And stalking slowly by, the sturdy hind
To ease his panting team, stopp’d with a stone
The grating wheel.
Advancing higher still
The prospect widens, and the village church
But little, o’er the lowly roofs around

Rears its gray belfry, and its simple vane;
Those lowly roofs of thatch are half conceal’d
By the rude arms of trees, lovely in spring,
When on each bough, the rosy-tinctur’d bloom
Sits thick, and promises autumnal plenty.
For even those orchards round the Norman farms,
Which, as their owners mark the promis’d fruit,
Console them for the vineyards of the south,
Surpass not these.
Where woods of ash, and beech,
And partial copses, fringe the green hill foot,
The upland shepherd rears his modest home,
There wanders by, a little nameless stream
That from the hill wells forth, bright now and clear,
Or after rain with chalky mixture gray,

But still refreshing in its shallow course,
The cottage garden; most for use design’d,
Yet not of beauty destitute. The vine
Mantles the little casement; yet the briar
Drops fragrant dew among the July flowers;
And pansies rayed, and freak’d and mottled pinks
Grow among balm, and rosemary and rue:
There honeysuckles flaunt, and roses blow
Almost uncultured: Some with dark green leaves
Contrast their flowers of pure unsullied white;
Others, like velvet robes of regal state
Of richest crimson, while in thorny moss
Enshrined and cradled, the most lovely, wear
The hues of youthful beauty’s glowing cheek.­
With fond regret I recollect e’en now
In Spring and Summer, what delight I felt

Among these cottage gardens, and how much
Such artless nosegays, knotted with a rush
By village housewife or her ruddy maid,
Were welcome to me; soon and simply pleas’d.
An early worshipper at Nature’s shrine;
I loved her rudest scenes­warrens, and heaths,
And yellow commons, and birch-shaded hollows,
And hedge rows, bordering unfrequented lanes
Bowered with wild roses, and the clasping woodbine
Where purple tassels of the tangling vetch
With bittersweet, and bryony inweave,
And the dew fills the silver bindweed’s cups­
I loved to trace the brooks whose humid banks
Nourish the harebell, and the freckled pagil;
And stroll among o’ershadowing woods of beech,

Lending in Summer, from the heats of noon
A whispering shade; while haply there reclines
Some pensive lover of uncultur’d flowers,
Who, from the tumps with bright green mosses clad,
Plucks the wood sorrel, with its light thin leaves,
Heart-shaped, and triply folded; and its root
Creeping like beaded coral; or who there
Gathers, the copse’s pride, anémones,
With rays like golden studs on ivory laid
Most delicate: but touch’d with purple clouds,
Fit crown for April’s fair but changeful brow.
Ah ! hills so early loved ! in fancy still
I breathe your pure keen air; and still behold
Those widely spreading views, mocking alike
The Poet and the Painter’s utmost art.

And still, observing objects more minute,
Wondering remark the strange and foreign forms
Of sea-shells; with the pale calcareous soil
Mingled, and seeming of resembling substance.
Tho’ surely the blue Ocean (from the heights
Where the downs westward trend, but dimly seen)
Here never roll’d its surge. Does Nature then
Mimic, in wanton mood, fantastic shapes
Of bivalves, and inwreathed volutes, that cling
To the dark sea-rock of the wat’ry world ?
Or did this range of chalky mountains, once
Form a vast bason, where the Ocean waves
Swell’d fathomless ? What time these fossil shells,
Buoy’d on their native element, were thrown
Among the imbedding calx: when the huge hill
Its giant bulk heaved, and in strange ferment

Grew up a guardian barrier, ‘twixt the sea
And the green level of the sylvan weald.
Ah ! very vain is Science’ proudest boast,
And but a little light its flame yet lends
To its most ardent votaries; since from whence
These fossil forms are seen, is but conjecture,
Food for vague theories, or vain dispute,
While to his daily task the peasant goes,
Unheeding such inquiry; with no care
But that the kindly change of sun and shower,
Fit for his toil the earth he cultivates.
As little recks the herdsman of the hill,
Who on some turfy knoll, idly reclined,
Watches his wether flock; that deep beneath
Rest the remains of men, of whom is left

No traces in the records of mankind,
Save what these half obliterated mounds
And half fill’d trenches doubtfully impart
To some lone antiquary; who on times remote,
Since which two thousand years have roll’d away,
Loves to contemplate. He perhaps may trace,
Or fancy he can trace, the oblong square
Where the mail’d legions, under Claudius, rear’d,
The rampire, or excavated fossé delved;
What time the huge unwieldy Elephant
Auxiliary reluctant, hither led,
From Afric’s forest glooms and tawny sands,
First felt the Northern blast, and his vast frame
Sunk useless; whence in after ages found,
The wondering hinds, on those enormous bones
Gaz’d; and in giants dwelling on the hills
Believed and marvell’d­

Hither, Ambition, come !
Come and behold the nothingness of all
For which you carry thro’ the oppressed Earth,
War, and its train of horrors­see where tread
The innumerous hoofs of flocks above the works
By which the warrior sought to register
His glory, and immortalize his name­
The pirate Dane, who from his circular camp
Bore in destructive robbery, fire and sword
Down thro’ the vale, sleeps unremember’d here;
And here, beneath the green sward, rests alike
The savage native, who his acorn meal
Shar’d with the herds, that ranged the pathless woods;
And the centurion, who on these wide hills
Encamping, planted the Imperial Eagle.
All, with the lapse of Time, have passed away,

Even as the clouds, with dark and dragon shapes,
Or like vast promontories crown’d with towers,
Cast their broad shadows on the downs: then sail
Far to the northward, and their transient gloom
Is soon forgotten.
But from thoughts like these,
By human crimes suggested, let us turn
To where a more attractive study courts
The wanderer of the hills; while shepherd girls
Will from among the fescue bring him flowers,
Of wonderous mockery; some resembling bees
In velvet vest, intent on their sweet toil,
While others mimic flies, that lightly sport
In the green shade, or float along the pool,
But here seem perch’d upon the slender stalk,

And gathering honey dew. While in the breeze
That wafts the thistle’s plumed seed along,
Blue bells wave tremulous. The mountain thyme
Purples the hassock of the heaving mole,
And the short turf is gay with tormentil,
And bird’s foot trefoil, and the lesser tribes
Of hawkweed; spangling it with fringed stars.­
Near where a richer tract of cultur’d land
Slopes to the south; and burnished by the sun,
Bend in the gale of August, floods of corn;
The guardian of the flock, with watchful care,
Repels by voice and dog the encroaching sheep­
While his boy visits every wired trap
That scars the turf; and from the pit-falls takes
The timid migrants, who from distant wilds,
Warrens, and stone quarries, are destined thus

To lose their short existence. But unsought
By Luxury yet, the Shepherd still protects
The social bird, who from his native haunts
Of willowy current, or the rushy pool,
Follows the fleecy croud, and flirts and skims,
In fellowship among them.
Where the knoll
More elevated takes the changeful winds,
The windmill rears its vanes; and thitherward
With his white load, the master travelling,
Scares the rooks rising slow on whispering wings,
While o’er his head, before the summer sun
Lights up the blue expanse, heard more than seen,
The lark sings matins; and above the clouds
Floating, embathes his spotted breast in dew.

Beneath the shadow of a gnarled thorn,
Bent by the sea blast, from a seat of turf
With fairy nosegays strewn, how wide the view !
Till in the distant north it melts away,
And mingles indiscriminate with clouds:
But if the eye could reach so far, the mart
Of England’s capital, its domes and spires
Might be perceived­Yet hence the distant range
Of Kentish hills, appear in purple haze;
And nearer, undulate the wooded heights,
And airy summits, that above the mole
Rise in green beauty; and the beacon’d ridge
Of Black-down shagg’d with heath, and swelling rude
Like a dark island from the vale; its brow
Catching the last rays of the evening sun
That gleam between the nearer park’s old oaks,

Then lighten up the river, and make prominent
The portal, and the ruin’d battlements
Of that dismantled fortress; rais’d what time
The Conqueror’s successors fiercely fought,
Tearing with civil feuds the desolate land.
But now a tiller of the soil dwells there,
And of the turret’s loop’d and rafter’d halls
Has made an humbler homestead­Where he sees,
Instead of armed foemen, herds that graze
Along his yellow meadows; or his flocks
At evening from the upland driv’n to fold­
In such a castellated mansion once
A stranger chose his home; and where hard by
In rude disorder fallen, and hid with brushwood
Lay fragments gray of towers and buttresses,

Among the ruins, often he would muse­
His rustic meal soon ended, he was wont
To wander forth, listening the evening sounds
Of rushing milldam, or the distant team,
Or night-jar, chasing fern-flies: the tir’d hind
Pass’d him at nightfall, wondering he should sit
On the hill top so late: they from the coast
Who sought bye paths with their clandestine load,
Saw with suspicious doubt, the lonely man
Cross on their way: but village maidens thought
His senses injur’d; and with pity say
That he, poor youth ! must have been cross’d in love­
For often, stretch’d upon the mountain turf
With folded arms, and eyes intently fix’d
Where ancient elms and firs obscured a grange,
Some little space within the vale below,

They heard him, as complaining of his fate,
And to the murmuring wind, of cold neglect
And baffled hope he told.­The peasant girls
These plaintive sounds remember, and even now
Among them may be heard the stranger’s songs.
Were I a Shepherd on the hill
And ever as the mists withdrew
Could see the willows of the rill
Shading the footway to the mill
Where once I walk’d with you­

And as away Night’s shadows sail,
And sounds of birds and brooks arise,
Believe, that from the woody vale
I hear your voice upon the gale
In soothing melodies;
And viewing from the Alpine height,
The prospect dress’d in hues of air,
Could say, while transient colours bright
Touch’d the fair scene with dewy light,
‘Tis, that her eyes are there !
I think, I could endure my lot
And linger on a few short years,
And then, by all but you forgot,
Sleep, where the turf that clothes the spot
May claim some pitying tears.

For ’tis not easy to forget
One, who thro’ life has lov’d you still,
And you, however late, might yet
With sighs to Memory giv’n, regret
The Shepherd of the Hill.
Yet otherwhile it seem’d as if young Hope
Her flattering pencil gave to Fancy’s hand,
And in his wanderings, rear’d to sooth his soul
Ideal bowers of pleasure­Then, of Solitude
And of his hermit life, still more enamour’d,
His home was in the forest; and wild fruits

And bread sustain’d him. There in early spring
The Barkmen found him, e’er the sun arose;
There at their daily toil, the Wedgecutters
Beheld him thro’ the distant thicket move.
The shaggy dog following the truffle hunter,
Bark’d at the loiterer; and perchance at night
Belated villagers from fair or wake,
While the fresh night-wind let the moonbeams in
Between the swaying boughs, just saw him pass,
And then in silence, gliding like a ghost
He vanish’d ! Lost among the deepening gloom.­
But near one ancient tree, whose wreathed roots
Form’d a rude couch, love-songs and scatter’d rhymes,
Unfinish’d sentences, or half erased,
And rhapsodies like this, were sometimes found­
­­­­­­

Let us to woodland wilds repair
While yet the glittering night-dews seem
To wait the freshly-breathing air,
Precursive of the morning beam,
That rising with advancing day,
Scatters the silver drops away.
An elm, uprooted by the storm,
The trunk with mosses gray and green,
Shall make for us a rustic form,
Where lighter grows the forest scene;
And far among the bowery shades,
Are ferny lawns and grassy glades.

Retiring May to lovely June
Her latest garland now resigns;
The banks with cuckoo-flowers are strewn,
The woodwalks blue with columbines,
And with its reeds, the wandering stream
Reflects the flag-flower’s golden gleam.
There, feathering down the turf to meet,
Their shadowy arms the beeches spread,
While high above our sylvan seat,
Lifts the light ash its airy head;
And later leaved, the oaks between
Extend their bows of vernal green.

The slender birch its paper rind
Seems offering to divided love,
And shuddering even without a wind
Aspins, their paler foliage move,
As if some spirit of the air
Breath’d a low sigh in passing there.
The Squirrel in his frolic mood,
Will fearless bound among the boughs;
Yaffils laugh loudly thro’ the wood,
And murmuring ring-doves tell their vows;
While we, as sweetest woodscents rise,
Listen to woodland melodies.

And I’ll contrive a sylvan room
Against the time of summer heat,
Where leaves, inwoven in Nature’s loom,
Shall canopy our green retreat;
And gales that ‘close the eye of day’
Shall linger, e’er they die away.
And when a sear and sallow hue
From early frost the bower receives,
I’ll dress the sand rock cave for you,
And strew the floor with heath and leaves,
That you, against the autumnal air
May find securer shelter there.

The Nightingale will then have ceas’d
To sing her moonlight serenade;
But the gay bird with blushing breast,
And Woodlarks still will haunt the shade,
And by the borders of the spring
Reed-wrens will yet be carolling.
The forest hermit’s lonely cave
None but such soothing sounds shall reach,
Or hardly heard, the distant wave
Slow breaking on the stony beach;
Or winds, that now sigh soft and low,
Now make wild music as they blow.

And then, before the chilling North
The tawny foliage falling light,
Seems, as it flits along the earth,
The footfall of the busy Sprite,
Who wrapt in pale autumnal gloom,
Calls up the mist-born Mushroom.
Oh ! could I hear your soft voice there,
And see you in the forest green
All beauteous as you are, more fair
You’ld look, amid the sylvan scene,
And in a wood-girl’s simple guise,
Be still more lovely in mine eyes.

Ye phantoms of unreal delight,
Visions of fond delirium born !
Rise not on my deluded sight,
Then leave me drooping and forlorn
To know, such bliss can never be,
Unless loved like me.
The visionary, nursing dreams like these,
Is not indeed unhappy. Summer woods
Wave over him, and whisper as they wave,
Some future blessings he may yet enjoy.
And as above him sail the silver clouds,
He follows them in thought to distant climes,
Where, far from the cold policy of this,

Dividing him from her he fondly loves,
He, in some island of the southern sea,
May haply build his cane-constructed bower
Beneath the bread-fruit, or aspiring palm,
With long green foliage rippling in the gale.
Oh ! let him cherish his ideal bliss­
For what is life, when Hope has ceas’d to strew
Her fragile flowers along its thorny way ?
And sad and gloomy are his days, who lives
Of Hope abandon’d !
Just beneath the rock
Where Beachy overpeers the channel wave,
Within a cavern mined by wintry tides
Dwelt one, who long disgusted with the world
And all its ways, appear’d to suffer life

Rather than live; the soul-reviving gale,
Fanning the bean-field, or the thymy heath,
Had not for many summers breathed on him;
And nothing mark’d to him the season’s change,
Save that more gently rose the placid sea,
And that the birds which winter on the coast
Gave place to other migrants; save that the fog,
Hovering no more above the beetling cliffs
Betray’d not then the little careless sheep
On the brink grazing, while their headlong fall
Near the lone Hermit’s flint-surrounded home,
Claim’d unavailing pity; for his heart
Was feelingly alive to all that breath’d;
And outraged as he was, in sanguine youth,
By human crimes, he still acutely felt
For human misery.

Wandering on the beach,
He learn’d to augur from the clouds of heaven,
And from the changing colours of the sea,
And sullen murmurs of the hollow cliffs,
Or the dark porpoises, that near the shore
Gambol’d and sported on the level brine
When tempests were approaching: then at night
He listen’d to the wind; and as it drove
The billows with o’erwhelming vehemence
He, starting from his rugged couch, went forth
And hazarding a life, too valueless,
He waded thro’ the waves, with plank or pole
Towards where the mariner in conflict dread
Was buffeting for life the roaring surge;
And now just seen, now lost in foaming gulphs,
The dismal gleaming of the clouded moon

Shew’d the dire peril. Often he had snatch’d
From the wild billows, some unhappy man
Who liv’d to bless the hermit of the rocks.
But if his generous cares were all in vain,
And with slow swell the tide of morning bore
Some blue swol’n cor’se to land; the pale recluse
Dug in the chalk a sepulchre­above
Where the dank sea-wrack mark’d the utmost tide,
And with his prayers perform’d the obsequies
For the poor helpless stranger.
One dark night
The equinoctial wind blew south by west,
Fierce on the shore; ­the bellowing cliffs were shook
Even to their stony base, and fragments fell
Flashing and thundering on the angry flood.

At day-break, anxious for the lonely man,
His cave the mountain shepherds visited,
Tho’ sand and banks of weeds had choak’d their way­
He was not in it; but his drowned cor’se
By the waves wafted, near his former home
Receiv’d the rites of burial. Those who read
Chisel’d within the rock, these mournful lines,
Memorials of his sufferings, did not grieve,
That dying in the cause of charity
His spirit, from its earthly bondage freed,
Had to some better region fled for ever.

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Bots Censoring Even Storied, Factual Magazines

Few history magazines are more well respected than American Heritage. Its scholarship, impartiality, and stable of great writers have proven its worth over more than a half century in print and online.

Today, mindless bots and algorithms are now attacking the most mainstream of mainstream publications, censoring writing simply because certain keywords appear. A bot does not and cannot understand context.

Fine articles and reading may never appear in front of you because of these bots. If they can censor American Heritage, then no title or writer is safe.

Stop the Censorship of Mainstream Publications

Edwin S. Grosvenor
November 2020

We urge Congress to investigate the predatory practices of Facebook and Google.
Americans now average more than two hours a day on social media. And given the lack of knowledge about American history among too many of our citizens, it is imperative that American Heritage provide trusted information about our country on social media.

Our shared heritage is what makes us Americans — but companies like Facebook and Google make it difficult and expensive to disseminate trusted information.

Facebook forces us to pay to have our posts seen by more than a handful of people. But these paid “boosts” of our content are often blocked by lifeless algorithms or “reviewers” who apparently have no idea what our articles are about.

Here are some of the American Heritage posts that Facebook has rejected for being too political in the last few months:

Michael Beschloss on the first U.S. Presidents he remembered seeing and the dramatic surge in presidential authority that began in 1933.

Sergei Khruschev’s memories of JFK and the Cuban Missile Crisis from the Soviet perspective.

Susan Eisenhower on Ike’s efforts to balance the Supreme Court by adding a justice of the opposing party.

New evidence about Castro’s possible advance knowledge of Oswald’s plans to murder Pres. Kennedy.

Larry Tye on the first look inside Sen. Joe McCarthy’s secret files.

Ray Locker on newly released files indicating Al Haig secretly worked to have Richard Nixon ousted as President.

Our editorial lamenting vandalism of the statues of Marquis de Lafayette and other patriots.

What idiot can’t tell the difference between this content and disinformation produced by a Russian troll farm?

Google is little better. We have gotten a notice EVERY DAY from them saying we are in violation of their standards since we published Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Joe Ellis’s brilliant essay on Antonin Scalia’s argument on the 2nd Amendment case, DC v Heller.

The ironic thing is the 400 or so emails Google has sent us about this violation do not say what the violation actually is or how to fix it – just that a page at our website of 50,000 pages is in violation.

To add injury to insult, over the last three years Facebook and Google have siphoned off virtually all website ad revenue from traditional publications such as American Heritage, leaving us with nothing but ugly intrusive ads that bring in pennies of revenue.

It is time to stop the predatory practices that are doing real damage to legitimate, trusted publications. We desperately need an electorate that has access to quality education, not just funny videos.

Stop blocking trusted content from getting to readers who want it and need it.

https://www.americanheritage.com/ (external link)

 

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Nearer, My God, To Thee

Nearer, My God, To Thee

Ghizela Rowe reads this traditionally sung work in her hypnotically charged voice:

Nearer, My God, to Thee
Sarah F. Adams (1805–1848)

Nearer to thee!
E’en though it be a cross
That raiseth me.
Still all my song shall be
Nearer, my God, to thee,
Nearer, my God, to thee,
Nearer to thee!

Though like the wanderer,
The sun gone down,
Darkness be over me,
My rest a stone,
Yet in my dreams I’d be
Nearer, my God, to thee,
Nearer, my God, to thee,
Nearer to thee!

There let the way appear,
Steps unto heav’n;
All that thou sendest me,
In mercy giv’n;
Angels to beckon me
Nearer, my God, to thee,
Nearer, my God, to thee,
Nearer to thee!

Then with my waking thoughts
Bright with thy praise,
Out of my stony griefs
Bethel I’ll raise;
So by my woes to be
Nearer, my God, to thee,
Nearer, my God, to thee,
Nearer to thee!

Or if, on joyful wing
Cleaving the sky,
Sun, moon, and stars forgot,
Upward I fly,
Still all my song shall be
Nearer, my God, to thee,
Nearer, my God, to thee,
Nearer to thee!

Text: Sarah F. Adams, 1805–1848
Music: Lowell Mason, 1792–1872

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The River-Merchant’s Wife: A Letter

My rockhounding site is here: https://southwestrockhounding.com

I didn’t know Ezra Pound knew Chinese. I knew he was buds with T.S. Eliot but that was about it. If you like this style of writing, you would enjoy Kenneth Rexroth’s translations from the Chinese and the Japanese. (internal link)

The River-Merchant’s Wife: A Letter

Ezra Pound After Li Po

While my hair was still cut straight across my forehead
I played about the front gate, pulling flowers.
You came by on bamboo stilts, playing horse,
You walked about my seat, playing with blue plums.
And we went on living in the village of Chōkan:
Two small people, without dislike or suspicion.
At fourteen I married My Lord you.
I never laughed, being bashful.
Lowering my head, I looked at the wall.
Called to, a thousand times, I never looked back.

At fifteen I stopped scowling,
I desired my dust to be mingled with yours
Forever and forever, and forever.
Why should I climb the look out?

At sixteen you departed
You went into far Ku-tō-en, by the river of swirling eddies,
And you have been gone five months.
The monkeys make sorrowful noise overhead.

You dragged your feet when you went out.
By the gate now, the moss is grown, the different mosses,
Too deep to clear them away!
The leaves fall early this autumn, in wind.
The paired butterflies are already yellow with August
Over the grass in the West garden;
They hurt me.
I grow older.
If you are coming down through the narrows of the river Kiang,
Please let me know beforehand,
And I will come out to meet you
As far as Chō-fū-Sa.

A fine, slow, deliberately paced reading by Ghada Charki

 

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Take That, Death!

Rockhounding site here: https://southwestrockhounding.com

Take That, Death!

Poetry endures.

Sonnet 75: One Day I Wrote her Name Upon The Strand

By Edmund Spenser (1552 – 1599)

One day I wrote her name upon the strand,
But came the waves and washed it away:
Again I wrote it with a second hand,
But came the tide, and made my pains his prey.

‘Vain man,” said she, ‘that dost in vain assay,
A mortal thing so to immortalize;
For I myself shall like to this decay,
And eke my name be wiped out likewise.’

Not so, quod I ‘let baser things devise
To die in dust, but you shall live by fame:
My verse your vertues rare shall eternize,
And in the heavens write your glorious name:

Where, whenas Death shall all the world subdue,
Our love shall live, and later life renew.’

Who is the poet talking to? Linda Sue Grimes (external link with analysis), suggests “that the woman is Elizabeth Boyle, his second wife, to whom the poet dedicated his sonnet sequence, Amoretti.”

“And in the heavens write your glorious name.” As John Travolta’s character in Pulp Fiction would say, “That’s a bold statement.”

Read by Jordan Harling

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