Archive for the Poetry Category

Saint Crispin’s Day

Posted in Painting, Poetry with tags , , , on October 25, 2018 by Dylan Thomas Hayden

If we are mark’d to die, we are enough
To do our country loss; and if to live,
The fewer men, the greater share of honour.
God’s will! I pray thee, wish not one man more.
By Jove, I am not covetous for gold,
Nor care I who doth feed upon my cost;
It yearns me not if men my garments wear;
Such outward things dwell not in my desires.
But if it be a sin to covet honour,
I am the most offending soul alive.
No, faith, my coz, wish not a man from England.
God’s peace! I would not lose so great an honour
As one man more methinks would share from me
For the best hope I have. O, do not wish one more!
Rather proclaim it, Westmorland, through my host,
That he which hath no stomach to this fight,
Let him depart; his passport shall be made,
And crowns for convoy put into his purse;
We would not die in that man’s company
That fears his fellowship to die with us.
This day is call’d the feast of Crispian.
He that outlives this day, and comes safe home,
Will stand a tip-toe when this day is nam’d,
And rouse him at the name of Crispian.
He that shall live this day, and see old age,
Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbours,
And say “To-morrow is Saint Crispian.”
Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars,
And say “These wounds I had on Crispin’s day.”
Old men forget; yet all shall be forgot,
But he’ll remember, with advantages,
What feats he did that day. Then shall our names,
Familiar in his mouth as household words—
Harry the King, Bedford and Exeter,
Warwick and Talbot, Salisbury and Gloucester—
Be in their flowing cups freshly rememb’red.
This story shall the good man teach his son;
And Crispin Crispian shall ne’er go by,
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be rememberèd—
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne’er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition;
And gentlemen in England now a-bed
Shall think themselves accurs’d they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin’s day.

Text: William Shakespeare, Henry V,  Act IV Scene iii
Image: Ambrosius Francken I, Het martelaarschap van de HH. Crispinus en Crispanianus, oil on canvas, c. 1600, Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten Antwerpen

Crossing the Bar

Posted in Painting, Poetry with tags , on September 22, 2018 by Dylan Thomas Hayden
Sunset and evening star,
      And one clear call for me!
And may there be no moaning of the bar,

      When I put out to sea,


   But such a tide as moving seems asleep,
      Too full for sound and foam,
When that which drew from out the boundless deep

      Turns again home.


   Twilight and evening bell,
      And after that the dark!
And may there be no sadness of farewell,

      When I embark;


   For tho’ from out our bourne of Time and Place
      The flood may bear me far,
I hope to see my Pilot face to face
      When I have crost the bar.
Text: Alfred, Lord Tennyson, Demeter and Other Poems. London: Macmillan & Co., 1889
Image: Edwin Hayes, Sunset at Sea: From Harlyn Bay, Cornwall, oil on canvas, 1894, Tate

Guye Toye In Memoriam



Posted in Painting, Philosophy, Poetry with tags , on August 23, 2018 by Dylan Thomas Hayden


The quality of mercy is not strained;
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath. It is twice blest;
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes:
‘T is mightiest in the mightiest; it becomes
The throned monarch better than his crown:
His sceptre shows the force of temporal power,
The attribute to awe and majesty,
Wherein doth sit the dread and fear of kings;
But mercy is above this sceptred sway;
It is enthronèd in the hearts of kings,
It is an attribute to God himself;
And earthly power doth then show likest God’s
When mercy seasons justice. Therefore, Jew,
Though justice be thy plea, consider this,
That, in the course of justice, none of us
Should see salvation: we do pray for mercy;
And that same prayer doth teach us all to render
The deeds of mercy.

Text: William Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice, Act IV, Scene I
Image: Alejo Fernández, La Virgen de los Navegantes, oil on panel, c. 1531–36, Casa de Contratación, Sevilla

I like the grey silences…

Posted in Painting, Poetry with tags , on July 23, 2018 by Dylan Thomas Hayden

I like the grey silences under the arches:
Public prayer, funeral processions,
The affecting obligatory rites and requiems at Saint Isaac’s.

I like the priest’s unhurried step,
The winding-sheet’s expansive bodying-forth,
Lent’s Galilean gloom, like an ancient fishing-net,

And smoke of the Old Testament on glowing altars,
And the priest’s orphaned cry. And royal meekness:
Unsullied snow on shoulders, wild purple vestments.

Hagia Sophia and Saint Peter’s – everlasting barns of air and light,
Storehouses of universal goods,
Granaries of the New Testament.

Not to either of you is the spirit drawn in years of grave disaster:
Here, up the wide and sullen steps,
The wolves of tribulation slink; we’ll never betray their tracks:

For the slave is free, having overcome fear,
And in cool granaries, in deep bins,
The grain of whole and perfect faith is stored.

Text: Osip Mandelstam, Selected Poems. London: Penguin Books, 1991
Image: Lucas Cranach the Elder, St. Catherine Altarpiece (central panel), oil on limewood, 1506,
Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister, Dresden

The Virgin Soil of Time

Posted in Painting, Poetry with tags , on July 23, 2018 by Dylan Thomas Hayden

Poetry is the plow that turns up time so that the deep layers of time, the black soil, appear on top. There are epochs, however, when mankind, not content with the present, longing for time’s deeper layers, like the plowman, thirsts for the virgin soil of time.

One often hears: that might be good, but it belongs to yesterday. But I say: yesterday hasn’t been born yet.

Text: Osip Mandelstam, Selected Essays, translated by Sidney Monas. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1977
Image: Pieter Bruegel, De val van Icarus, oil on canvas, c. 1558, Koninklijke Musea voor Schone Kunsten van België, Brussel

Hagia Sophia

Posted in Architecture, Poetry with tags , on July 21, 2018 by Dylan Thomas Hayden

Hagia Sophia – here the Lord commanded
That nations and tsars should halt!
Your dome, according to an eye-witness,
Hangs from heaven as though by a chain.

All centuries take their measure from Justinian:
Out of her shrine, in Ephesus, Diana allowed
One hundred and seven green marble pillars
To be pillaged for his alien gods.

How did your lavish builder feel
When – with lofty hand and soul –
He set the apses and the chapels,
Arranging them at east and west?

A splendid temple, bathing in the peace –
A festival of light from forty windows;
Under the dome, on pendentives, the four Archangels
Sail onwards, most beautiful of all.

And this sage and spherical building
Shall outlive centuries and nations,
And the resonant sobbing of the seraphim
Shall not warp the dark gilt surfaces.

Text: Osip Mandelstam, Selected Poems. London: Penguin Books, 1991
Image: Seraph pendentive at Hagia Sophia, source unknown

Life, Life

Posted in Painting, Poetry with tags , on March 22, 2018 by Dylan Thomas Hayden


I don’t believe in omens nor fear
Forebodings. I flee from neither slander
Nor from poison. Death does not exist.
Everyone’s immortal. Everything is too.
No point in fearing death at seventeen,
Or seventy. There’s only here and now, and light;
Neither death, nor darkness, exists.
We’re all already on the seashore;
I’m one of those who’ll be hauling in the nets
When a shoal of immortality swims by.


If you live in a house – the house will not fall.
I’ll summon any of the centuries,
Then enter one and build a house in it.
That’s why your children and your wives
Sit with me at one table, –
The same for ancestor and grandson:
The future is being accomplished now,
If I raise my hand a little,
All five beams of light will stay with you.
Each day I used my collar bones
For shoring up the past, as though with timber,
I measured time with geodetic chains
And marched across it, as though it were the Urals.


I tailored the age to fit me.
We walked to the south, raising dust above the steppe;
The tall weeds fumed; the grasshopper danced,
Touching its antenna to the horse-shoes – and it prophesied,
Threatening me with destruction, like a monk.
I strapped my fate to the saddle;
And even now, in these coming times,
I stand up in the stirrups like a child.

I’m satisfied with deathlessness,
For my blood to flow from age to age.
Yet for a corner whose warmth I could rely on
I’d willingly have given all my life,
Whenever her flying needle
Tugged me, like a thread, around the globe.

Text: Poem by Arseny Tarkovsky, source unknown
Image: Jan Brueghel the Younger, Dorfgracht mit landungssteg und ziehbrunnen, oil on copper, private collection