Verse from the Diary of Lady Murasaki

A couple of verses from the Diary of Lady Murasaki, which I have just finished reading, and a review to follow.  I’ve included a footnote from the book.

“I was in the midst of composing a reply to a note sent by Lady Koshosho, when all of a sudden it became dark and started to rain.  As the messenger was in a hurry, I finished it off with: ‘and the sky too seems unsettled.’ I must have included a rather lame verse, for that evening the messenger returned with a poem written on dark purple cloud-patterned paper:

The skies at which I gaze and gaze are overcast;
How is it that they too rain down tears of longing?

Unable to remember what I had written, I replied:

It is the season for such rainy skies;
Clouds may break, but these watching sleeves will never dry.”

“In particular I missed Lady Dainagon, who would often talk to me as we lay close by Her Majesty in the evenings.  Had I then succumbed to life at court?
I sent her the following:

How I long for those waters on which we lay,
A longing keener than the frost on a duck’s wing, 

To which she replied:

Awakening to find no friend to brush away the frost,
The Mandarin duck longs for her mate at night.*”

*Mandarin ducks were supposed to always go around in inseparable pairs

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Emily Dickinson – After Great Pain

After great pain a formal feeling comes–
The nerves sit ceremonious like tombs;
The stiff Heart questions–was it He that bore?
And yesterday–or centuries before?

The feet, mechanical, go round
A wooden way
Of ground, or air, or ought,
Regardless grown,
A quartz contentment, like a stone.

This is the hour of lead
Remembered if outlived,
As freezing persons recollect the snow–
First chill, then stupor, then the letting go.

Alfred Lord Tennyson – I stood on a tower

I stood on a tower in the wet,
And New Year and Old Year met,
And winds were roaring and blowing;
And I said, ‘O years, that meet in tears,
Have you all that is worth the knowing?

Science enough and exploring,
Wanderers coming and going,
Matter enough for deploring,
But aught that is worth the knowing?

Seas at my feet were flowing,
Waves on the shingle pouring,
Old year roaring and blowing,
And New Year blowing and roaring.

William Makepeace Thackery – The Mahogany Tree

Christmas is here;
Winds whistle shrill,
Icy and chill,
Little care we:
Little we fear
Weather without,
Sheltered about
The Mahogany Tree.

Commoner greens,
Ivy and oaks,
Poets, in jokes,
Sing, do you see?
Good fellows’ shins
Here, boys, are found,
Twisting around
The Mahogany Tree.

Once on the boughs
Birds of rare plume
Sang, in its bloom;
Night birds are we:
Here we carouse,
Singing like them,
Perched round the stem
Of the jolly old tree.

Here let us sport,
Boys, as we sit;
Laughter and wit
Flashing so free.

Sorrows, begone!
Life and its ills,
Duns and their bills,
Bid we to flee.

Life is but short —
When we are gone,
Let them sing on,
Round the old tree.

Evenings we knew,
Happy as this;
Faces we miss,
Pleasant to see.
Kind hearts and true,
Gentle and just,
Peace to your dust!
We sing round the tree.

Care, like a dun,
Lurks at the gate:
Let the dog wait;
Happy we’ll be!
Drink every one;
Pile up the coals,
Fill the red bowls,
Round the old tree.

Drain we the cup. —
Friend, art afraid?
Spirits are laid
In the Red Sea.
Mantle it up;
Empty it yet;
Let us forget,
Round the old tree.

Come with the dawn,
Blue-devil sprite;
Leave us to-night,
Round the old tree.

Dollie Radford – December

December

No gardener need go far to find
The Christmas rose,
The fairest of the flowers that mark
The sweet Year’s close:
Nor be in quest of places where
The hollies grow,
Nor seek for sacred trees that hold
The mistletoe.
All kindly tended gardens love
December days,
And spread their latest riches out
In winter’s praise.
But every gardener’s work this month
Must surely be
To choose a very beautiful
Big Christmas tree,
And see it through the open door
In triumph ride,
To reign a glorious reign within
At Christmas-tide.

Edgar Allan Poe – The Valley of Unrest

A bit delayed while I was without internet, but here’s another poem..

Once it smiled a silent dell
Where the people did not dwell;
They had gone unto the wars,
Trusting to the mild-eyed stars,
Nightly, from their azure towers,
To keep watch above the flowers,
In the midst of which all day
The red sun-light lazily lay.
Now each visitor shall confess
The sad valley’s restlessness.
Nothing there is motionless—
Nothing save the airs that brood
Over the magic solitude.
Ah, by no wind are stirred those trees
That palpitate like the chill seas
Around the misty Hebrides!
Ah, by no wind those clouds are driven
That rustle through the unquiet Heaven
Uneasily, from morn till even,
Over the violets there that lie
In myriad types of the human eye—
Over the lilies there that wave
And weep above a nameless grave!
They wave:—from out their fragrant tops
External dews come down in drops.
They weep:—from off their delicate stems
Perennial tears descend in gems.