From Goblin Market by Christina Rossetti | an excerpt

I am always interested to know where sayings and quotes come from so I was delighted to come across this verse in Goblin Market. The poem is sixteen pages long and tells the story of Laura, who, led astray by the Goblins, eats their fruit and thereafter pines away until she is almost dead. Her sister, Lizzie, braves the Goblin Market and acquires the antidote. Laura recovers and they both live long, happy lives.

One may lead a horse to water,

Twenty cannot make him drink.

Though the goblins cuffed and caught her,

Coaxed and fought her,

Bullied and besought her,

Scratched her, pinched her black as ink,

Kicked and knocked her,

Mauled and mocked her,

Lizzie uttered not a word;

Would not open lip from lip

Lest they should cram a mouthful in:

But laughed in heart to feel the drip

Of juice that syrupped all her face,

And lodged in dimples of her chin,

And streaked her neck which quaked like curd.

At last the evil people

Worn out by her resistance

Flung back her penny, kicked their fruit

Along whichever road they took,

Not leaving root or stone or shoot;

Some writhed into the ground,

Some dived into the brook

With ring and ripple,

Some scudded on the gale without a sound,

Some vanished in the distance.

I enjoyed reading the whole poem; I loved the imagery and the sounds – I read it aloud. There’s something so luscious about it.

A Universal Haiku

Be still; half-close your                                                                        

eyes, and listen to the sound  

of the universe.                                                              

The Devil by Patrick Kavanagh – from A View of God and the Devil

I met the devil too,

And the adjectives by which I would describe him are these:

Solemn,

Boring,

Conservative.

He was a man the world would appoint to a Board,

He would be on the list of invitees for a bishop’s garden party,

He would look like an artist.

He was the fellow who wrote in newspapers about music,

Got into a rage when someone laughed;

He was serious about unserious things;

You had to be careful about his inferiority complex

For he was conscious of being uncreative.

These two poems together always make me laugh. Patrick Kavanagh (1905-1967), the Monaghan poet who settled in Dublin and wrote so many beautiful and wonderful poems.

From the collected poems by Patrick Kavanagh – on God and the Devil

I met God the Father in the street

And the adjectives by which I would describe him are these:

Amusing

Experimental

Irresponsible –

About frivolous things.

He was not a man who would be appointed to a Board

Nor impress a bishop

Or gathering of art lovers.

He was not splendid, fearsome or terrible

And yet not insignificant.

This was my God who made the grass

And the sun,

And stones in streams in April;

This was the God I met in Dublin

As I wandered the unconscious streets.

This was the God who brooded over the harrowed field –

Rooneys – beside the main Carrick road

The day my first verses were printed –

I knew him and was never afraid

Of death or damnation;

And I knew that the fear of God was the beginning of folly.

I’ll post The Devil tomorrow. I hope you enjoy this and find it interesting. Patrick Kavanagh (1905 -67) was, and still is, one of Irelands most loved poets. A native of Co Monaghan in Ulster, he spent most of his adult life in Dublin, where he was recognised and saluted on the streets.

More fun poems from way back when . . .

Fred by Horace Walpole

Here lies Fred,

Who was alive and is dead.

Had it been his father,

I had much rather;

Had it been his brother,

Still better than another;

Had it been his sister,

No one would have missed her;

Had it been the whole generation,

Still better for the nation.

But since it is only Fred,

Who was alive and is dead,

There’s no more to be said.

The Desired Swan-Song by Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Swans sing before they die – ’twere no bad thing

Should certain persons die before they sing.

Stupidity Street by Ralph Hodgson

I saw with open eyes

Singing birds sweet

Sold in the shops

For the people to eat,

Sold in the shops of

Stupidity Street.

I saw in vision

The worm in the wheat,

And in the shops nothinjg

For people to eat;

Nothing for sale in

Stupidity Street.

You’d wonder why some of these poems were considered good enough for the school curriculum! I think I’ll have a look at love poems next . . .

From POEMS OLD AND NEW

Looking through my old book again, I noticed the title, as above; then I checked the publication date – 1933! Some of the poems are so deliciously old-fashioned that I am moved to share them – here’s a couple of short ones (some very short).

To Celia by Ben Jonson

Drink to me only with thine eyes,

And I will pledge with mine;

Or leave a kiss but in the cup,

And I’ll not look for wine.

The thirst that from the soul doth rise,

Doth ask a drink divine:

But might I of Jove’s nectar sup,

I would not change for thine.

Waste by Harry Graham

I had written to Aunt Maud,

Who was on a trip abroad,

When I heard she’d died of cramp

Just too late to save the stamp.

Epitaph on Charles 11 by Earl of Rochester

Here lies our sovereign Lord the King,

Whose word no man relies on,

Who never said a foolish thing

Nor never did a wise one.

I hope these made you smile at least. More anon . . .