Archive for the Poetry Category

Diana and Actaeon

Posted in Painting, Poetry with tags , , on October 2, 2015 by Dylan Thomas Hayden

There was a valley, thick set with pitch-trees and the sharp-pointed cypress; by name Gargaphie, sacred to the active Diana. In the extreme recess of this, there was a grotto in a grove, formed by no art; nature, by her ingenuity, had counterfeited art; for she had formed a natural arch, in the native pumice and the light sand-stones. A limpid fountain ran murmuring on the right hand with its little stream, having its spreading channels edged with a border of grass. Here, when wearied with hunting, the Goddess of the woods was wont to bathe her virgin limbs in clear water.

After she had entered there, she handed to one of the Nymphs, her armor-bearer, her javelin, her quiver, and her unstrung bow. Another Nymph put her arms under her mantle, when taken off: two removed the sandals from her feet. But Crocale, the daughter of Ismenus, more skilled than they, gathered her hair, which lay scattered over her neck, into a knot, although she herself was with her hair loose. Nephele, and Hyale, and Rhanis, fetch water, and Phyale do the same, and pour it from their large urns. And while the Titanian Goddess was there bathing in the wonted stream, behold! the grandson of Cadmus, having deferred the remainder of his sport till next day, came into the grove, wandering through the unknown wood, with uncertain steps; thus did his fate direct him.

Soon as he entered the grotto, dropping with its springs, the Nymphs, naked as they were, on seeing a man, smote their breasts, and filled all the woods with sudden shrieks, and gathering round Diana, covered her with their bodies. Yet the Goddess herself was higher than they, and was taller than them all by the neck. The color that is wont to be in clouds, tinted by the rays of the sun when opposite, or that of the ruddy morning, was on the features of Diana, when seen without her garments. She, although surrounded with the crowd of her attendants, stood sideways, and turned her face back; and how did she wish that she had her arrows at hand; and so she took up water, which she did have at hand, and threw it over the face of the man, and sprinkling his hair with the avenging stream, she added these words, the presages of his future woe: “Now thou mayst tell, if tell thou canst, how that I was seen by thee without my garments.” Threatening no more, she places on his sprinkled head the horns of a lively stag; she adds length to his neck, and sharpens the tops of his ears; and she changes his hands into feet, and his arms into long legs, and covers his body with a spotted coat of hair; fear, too is added.

Text –Ovid, Metamorphoses, Book III, translated by Henry T. Riley
Image –Diana and Actaeon by Giuseppe Cesari, c. 1602

Caelica 4: You little stars that live in skies

Posted in Painting, Poetry with tags , on October 2, 2015 by Dylan Thomas Hayden

You little stars that live in skies
And glory in Apollo’s glory,
In whose aspècts conjoinèd lies
The heaven’s will and nature’s story,
Joy to be likened to those eyes,
Which eyes make all eyes glad or sorry;
     For when you force thoughts from above,
     These overrule your force by love.

And thou, O Love, which in these eyes
Hast married Reason with Affection,
And made them saints of Beauty’s skies,
Where joys are shadows of perfection,
Lend me thy wings that I may rise
Up, not by worth, but thy election;
     For I have vowed in strangest fashion
     To love and never seek compassion.

Text –From Caelica by Fulke Greville, 1st Baron Brooke, 1633
Image –Starry Night Over the Rhone by Vincent Van Gogh, 1888

Caelica 29: The nurse-life wheat within his green husk growing

Posted in Painting, Poetry with tags , on October 1, 2015 by Dylan Thomas Hayden

The nurse-life wheat within his green husk growing,
Flatters our hope, and tickles our desire,
Nature’s true riches in sweet beauties showing,
Which sets all hearts, with labor’s love, on fire.

No less fair is the wheat when golden ear
Shows unto hope the joys of near enjoying;
Fair and sweet is the bud, more sweet and fair
the rose, which proves that time is not destroying.

Caelica, your youth, the morning of delight,
Enamel’d o’er with beauties white and red,
All sense and thoughts did to belief invite,
That love and glory there are brought to bed;
     And your ripe year’s love-noon; he goes no higher,
     Turns all the spirits of man into desire.

Text –From Caelica by Fulke Greville, 1st Baron Brooke, 1633
Image –Wheat Stacks in Provence by Vincent Van Gogh, 1888

Day in Autumn

Posted in Painting, Poetry with tags , on September 17, 2015 by Dylan Thomas Hayden

After the summer’s yield, Lord, it is time
to let your shadow lengthen on the sundials
and in the pastures let the rough winds fly.

As for the final fruits, coax them to roundness.
Direct on them two days of warmer light
to hale them golden toward their term, and harry
the last few drops of sweetness through the wine.

Whoever’s homeless now, will build no shelter;
who lives alone will live indefinitely so,
waking up to read a little, draft long letters,
and, along the city’s avenues,
fitfully wander, when the wild leaves loosen.

Text –Rainer Maria Rilke translated by Maria Kinzie
Image –Vincent Van Gogh, Le Moulin de la Galette, Autumn 1886

The Isles of Greece

Posted in Greece, Painting, Poetry with tags , on September 17, 2015 by Dylan Thomas Hayden

THE isles of Greece! the isles of Greece
  Where burning Sappho loved and sung,
Where grew the arts of war and peace,
  Where Delos rose, and Phoebus sprung!
Eternal summer gilds them yet,          
But all, except their sun, is set.
    The Scian and the Teian muse,
      The hero’s harp, the lover’s lute,
    Have found the fame your shores refuse:
      Their place of birth alone is mute   
    To sounds which echo further west
    Than your sires’ ‘Islands of the Blest.’
      The mountains look on Marathon—
        And Marathon looks on the sea;
      And musing there an hour alone,   
        I dream’d that Greece might still be free;
      For standing on the Persians’ grave,
      I could not deem myself a slave.
        A king sate on the rocky brow
          Which looks o’er sea-born Salamis;   
        And ships, by thousands, lay below,
          And men in nations;—all were his!
        He counted them at break of day—
        And when the sun set, where were they?
          And where are they? and where art thou,   
            My country? On thy voiceless shore
          The heroic lay is tuneless now—
            The heroic bosom beats no more!
          And must thy lyre, so long divine,
          Degenerate into hands like mine?   
            ‘Tis something in the dearth of fame,
              Though link’d among a fetter’d race,
            To feel at least a patriot’s shame,
              Even as I sing, suffuse my face;
            For what is left the poet here?   
            For Greeks a blush—for Greece a tear.
              Must we but weep o’er days more blest?
                Must we but blush?—Our fathers bled.
              Earth! render back from out thy breast
                A remnant of our Spartan dead!   
              Of the three hundred grant but three,
              To make a new Thermopylæ!
                What, silent still? and silent all?
                  Ah! no;—the voices of the dead
                Sound like a distant torrent’s fall,   
                  And answer, ‘Let one living head,
                But one, arise,—we come, we come!’
                ‘Tis but the living who are dumb.
                  In vain—in vain: strike other chords;
                    Fill high the cup with Samian wine!   
                  Leave battles to the Turkish hordes,
                    And shed the blood of Scio’s vine:
                  Hark! rising to the ignoble call—
                  How answers each bold Bacchanal!
                    You have the Pyrrhic dance as yet;   
                      Where is the Pyrrhic phalanx gone?
                    Of two such lessons, why forget
                      The nobler and the manlier one?
                    You have the letters Cadmus gave—
                    Think ye he meant them for a slave?   
                      Fill high the bowl with Samian wine!
                        We will not think of themes like these!
                      It made Anacreon’s song divine:
                        He served—but served Polycrates—
                      A tyrant; but our masters then   
                      Were still, at least, our countrymen.
                        The tyrant of the Chersonese
                          Was freedom’s best and bravest friend;
                        That tyrant was Miltiades!
                          O that the present hour would lend   
                        Another despot of the kind!
                        Such chains as his were sure to bind.
                          Fill high the bowl with Samian wine!
                            On Suli’s rock, and Parga’s shore,
                          Exists the remnant of a line   
                            Such as the Doric mothers bore;
                          And there, perhaps, some seed is sown,
                          The Heracleidan blood might own.
                            Trust not for freedom to the Franks—
                              They have a king who buys and sells;   
                            In native swords and native ranks
                              The only hope of courage dwells:
                            But Turkish force and Latin fraud
                            Would break your shield, however broad.
                              Fill high the bowl with Samian wine!   
                                Our virgins dance beneath the shade—
                              I see their glorious black eyes shine;
                                But gazing on each glowing maid,
                              My own the burning tear-drop laves,
                              To think such breasts must suckle slaves.   
                                Place me on Sunium’s marbled steep,
                                  Where nothing, save the waves and I,
                                May hear our mutual murmurs sweep;
                                  There, swan-like, let me sing and die:
                                A land of slaves shall ne’er be mine—   
                                Dash down yon cup of Samian wine!

                                Calypso’s Cave

                                Posted in Greece, Painting, Poetry with tags , , , , , on September 16, 2015 by Dylan Thomas Hayden
                                Jan Brueghel the Elder, Odysseus and Calypso in the Caves of Ogygia, 1616

                                “Large was the grot, in which the nymph he found
                                (The fair-hair’d nymph with every beauty crown’d).
                                The cave was brighten’d with a rising blaze;
                                Cedar and frankincense, an odorous pile,
                                Flamed on the hearth, and wide perfumed the isle;
                                While she with work and song the time divides,
                                And through the loom the golden shuttle guides.
                                Without the grot a various sylvan scene
                                Appear’d around, and groves of living green;
                                Poplars and alders ever quivering play’d,
                                And nodding cypress form’d a fragrant shade:
                                On whose high branches, waving with the storm,
                                The birds of broadest wing their mansions form,—
                                The chough, the sea-mew, the loquacious crow,—
                                and scream aloft, and skim the deeps below.
                                Depending vines the shelving cavern screen.
                                With purple clusters blushing through the green.
                                Four limped fountains from the clefts distil:
                                And every fountain pours a several rill,
                                In mazy windings wandering down the hill:
                                Where bloomy meads with vivid greens were crown’d,
                                And glowing violets threw odours round.
                                A scene, where, if a god should cast his sight,
                                A god might gaze, and wander with delight!”

                                –Homer, Odyssey Book V, translated by Alexander Pope, 1725-26

                                “But when he had now reached that far-off isle, he went forth from the sea of violet blue to get him up into the land, till he came to a great cave, wherein dwelt the nymph of the braided tresses: and he found her within. And on the hearth there was a great fire burning, and from afar through the isle was smelt the fragrance of cleft cedar blazing, and of sandal wood. And the nymph within was singing with a sweet voice as she fared to and fro before the loom, and wove with a shuttle of gold. And round about the cave there was a wood blossoming, alder and poplar and sweet-smelling cypress. And therein roosted birds long of wing, owls and falcons and chattering sea-crows, which have their business in the waters. And lo, there about the hollow cave trailed a gadding garden vine, all rich with clusters. And fountains four set orderly were running with clear water, hard by one another, turned each to his own course. And all around soft meadows bloomed of violets and parsley, yea, even a deathless god who came thither might wonder at the sight and be glad at heart.”

                                –The same passage translated by Samuel Henry Butcher and Andrew Lang, 1879

                                “Who has not heard of Calypso? her grove crowned with alders and poplars; her grotto, against which the luxuriant vine laid forth his purple grapes; her ever new delights, crystal fountains, running brooks, meadows flowering with sweet balm—gentle and with violet; blue violets which like veins enamelled the smooth breasts of each fragrant mead! It were useless to describe over again what has been so well told already;”

                                And paraphrased in The Adventures of Ulysses by Charles Lamb, 1808


                                Posted in Greece, Painting, Poetry with tags , , on September 12, 2015 by Dylan Thomas Hayden

                                Χαίρετε, νικωμεν

                                First I salute this soil of the blessed, river and rock!
                                Gods of my birthplace, dæmons and heroes, honour to all!
                                Then I name thee, claim thee for our patron, co-equal in praise
                                —Ay, with Zeus the Defender, with Her of the ægis and spear!
                                Also, ye of the bow and the buskin, praised be your peer,
                                Now, henceforth, and forever,—O latest to whom I upraise
                                Hand and heart and voice! For Athens, leave pasture and flock!
                                Present to help, potent to save, Pan—patron I call!

                                Archons of Athens, topped by the tettix, see, I return!
                                See, ’tis myself here standing alive, no spectre that speaks!
                                Crowned with the myrtle, did you command me, Athens and you,
                                “Run, Pheidippides, run and race, reach Sparta for aid!
                                Persia has come, we are here, where is She?” Your command I obeyed,
                                Ran and raced: like stubble, some field which a fire runs through,
                                Was the space between city and city: two days, two nights did I burn
                                Over the hills, under the dales, down pits and up peaks.

                                Into their midst I broke: breath served but for “Persia has come!
                                Persia bids Athens proffer slaves’-tribute, water and earth;
                                Razed to the ground is Eretria.—but Athens? shall Athens, sink,
                                Drop into dust and die—the flower of Hellas utterly die,
                                Die with the wide world spitting at Sparta, the stupid, the stander-by?
                                Answer me quick,—what help, what hand do you stretch o’er destruction’s brink?
                                How,—when? No care for my limbs!—there’s lightning in all and some—
                                Fresh and fit your message to bear, once lips give it birth!”

                                O my Athens—Sparta love thee? did Sparta respond?
                                Every face of her leered in a furrow of envy, mistrust,
                                Malice,—each eye of her gave me its glitter of gratified hate!
                                Gravely they turned to take counsel, to cast for excuses. I stood
                                Quivering,—the limbs of me fretting as fire frets, an inch from dry wood:
                                “Persia has come, Athens asks aid, and still they debate?
                                Thunder, thou Zeus! Athene, are Spartans a quarry beyond
                                Swing of thy spear? Phoibos and Artemis, clang them ‘Ye must’!”

                                No bolt launched from Olumpos! Lo, their answer at last!
                                “Has Persia come,—does Athens ask aid,—may Sparta befriend?
                                Nowise precipitate judgment—too weighty the issue at stake!
                                Count we no time lost time which lags thro’ respect to the Gods!
                                Ponder that precept of old, ‘No warfare, whatever the odds
                                In your favour, so long as the moon, half-orbed, is unable to take
                                Full-circle her state in the sky!’ Already she rounds to it fast:
                                Athens must wait, patient as we—who judgment suspend.”

                                Athens,—except for that sparkle,—thy name, I had mouldered to ash!
                                That sent a blaze thro’ my blood; off, off and away was I back,
                                —Not one word to waste, one look to lose on the false and the vile!
                                Yet “O Gods of my land!” I cried, as each hillock and plain,
                                Wood and stream, I knew, I named, rushing past them again,
                                “Have ye kept faith, proved mindful of honours we paid you erewhile?
                                Vain was the filleted victim, the fulsome libation! Too rash
                                Love in its choice, paid you so largely service so slack!

                                “Oak and olive and bay,—I bid you cease to en-wreathe
                                Brows made bold by your leaf! Fade at the Persian’s foot,
                                You that, our patrons were pledged, should never adorn a slave!
                                Rather I hail thee, Parnes,—trust to thy wild waste tract!
                                Treeless, herbless, lifeless mountain! What matter if slacked
                                My speed may hardly be, for homage to crag and to cave
                                No deity deigns to drape with verdure?—at least I can breathe,
                                Fear in thee no fraud from the blind, no lie from the mute!”

                                Such my cry as, rapid, I ran over Parnes’ ridge;
                                Gully and gap I clambered and cleared till, sudden, a bar
                                Jutted, a stoppage of stone against me, blocking the way.
                                Right! for I minded the hollow to traverse, the fissure across:
                                “Where I could enter, there I depart by! Night in the fosse?
                                Athens to aid? Tho’ the dive were thro’ Erebos, thus I obey—
                                Out of the day dive, into the day as bravely arise! No bridge
                                Better!”—when—ha! what was it I came on, of wonders that are?

                                There, in the cool of a cleft, sat he—majestical Pan!
                                Ivy drooped wanton, kissed his head, moss cushioned his hoof;
                                All the great God was good in the eyes grave-kindly—the curl
                                Carved on the bearded cheek, amused at a mortal’s awe
                                As, under the human trunk, the goat-thighs grand I saw.
                                “Halt, Pheidippides!”—halt I did, my brain of a whirl:
                                “Hither to me! Why pale in my presence?”! he gracious began:
                                “How is it,—Athens, only in Hellas, holds me aloof?

                                “Athens, she only, rears me no fane, makes me no feast!
                                Wherefore? Than I what godship to Athens more helpful of old?
                                Ay, and still, and forever her friend! Test Pan, trust me!
                                Go bid Athens take heart, laugh Persia to scorn, have faith
                                In the temples and tombs! Go, say to Athens, ‘The Goat-God saith:
                                When Persia—so much as strews not the soil—Is cast in the sea,
                                Then praise Pan who fought in the ranks with your most and least,
                                Goat-thigh to greaved-thigh, made one cause with the free and the bold!’

                                “Say Pan saith: ‘Let this, foreshowing the place, be the pledge!'”
                                (Gay, the liberal hand held out this herbage I bear
                                —Fennel,—I grasped it a-tremble with dew—whatever it bode),
                                “While, as for thee…” But enough! He was gone. If I ran hitherto—
                                Be sure that the rest of my journey, I ran no longer, but flew.
                                Parnes to Athens—earth no more, the air was my road;
                                Here am I back. Praise Pan, we stand no more on the razor’s edge!
                                Pan for Athens, Pan for me! I too have a guerdon rare!

                                Then spoke Miltiades. “And thee, best runner of Greece,
                                Whose limbs did duty indeed,—what gift is promised thyself?
                                Tell it us straightway,—Athens the mother demands of her son!”
                                Rosily blushed the youth: he paused: but, lifting at length
                                His eyes from the ground, it seemed as he gathered the rest of his strength
                                Into the utterance—”Pan spoke thus: ‘For what thou hast done
                                Count on a worthy reward! Henceforth be allowed thee release
                                From the racer’s toil, no vulgar reward in praise or in pelf!’

                                “I am bold to believe, Pan means reward the most to my mind!
                                Fight I shall, with our foremost, wherever this fennel may grow,—
                                Pound—Pan helping us—Persia to dust, and, under the deep,
                                Whelm her away forever; and then,—no Athens to save,—
                                Marry a certain maid, I know keeps faith to the brave,—
                                Hie to my house and home: and, when my children shall creep
                                Close to my knees,—recount how the God was awful yet kind,
                                Promised their sire reward to the full—rewarding him—so!”

                                Unforeseeing one! Yes, he fought on the Marathon day:
                                So, when Persia was dust, all cried “To Akropolis!
                                Run, Pheidippides, one race more! the meed is thy due!
                                ‘Athens is saved, thank Pan,’ go shout!” He flung down his shield,
                                Ran like fire once more: and the space ‘twixt the Fennel-field
                                And Athens was stubble again, a field which a fire runs through,
                                Till in he broke: “Rejoice, we conquer!” Like wine thro’ clay,
                                Joy in his blood bursting his heart, he died—the bliss!

                                So, to this day, when friend meets friend, the word of salute
                                Is still “Rejoice!”—his word which brought rejoicing indeed.
                                So is Pheidippides happy forever,—the noble strong man
                                Who could race like a god, bear the face of a god, whom a god loved so well,
                                He saw the land saved he had helped to save, and was suffered to tell
                                Such tidings, yet never decline, but, gloriously as he began,
                                So to end gloriously—once to shout, thereafter be mute:
                                “Athens is saved!”—Pheidippides dies in the shout for his meed.

                                Text –Robert Browning, Browning’s Shorter Poems edited by Franklin T. Baker, New York, The Macmillan Company, 1917
                                Image –Luc-Olivier Merson, Le soldat de Marathon, 1869

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