I would still go there
if only to await
opening of truth's flower;
if only to escape
such bought freedom, and live,
prisoner of the keyless sea,
on the mind's bread and water.
by R. S. Thomas
from No Truce with the Furies (1995)
Lord, give them freedom who are weak,
and sanctify the people’s ways,
grant them their justice which they seek,
and bless their labouring days.
May freedom, but a seed at first,
untrammelled rise to flower and spread.
For knowledge let the people thirst,
and light the path ahead.
Lord, set your chosen followers free,
release them from their ancient bands,
entrust the flag of liberty
at last, to Russian hands.
by Николай Алексеевич Некрасов (Nikolay Alexeyevich Nekrasov)
translated by Frances Cornford and Esther Polianowsky Salaman
Recital in the original Russian:
Original Russian Cyrillic text:
Господь! твори добро народу!
Благослови народный труд,
Упрочь народную свободу,
Упрочь народу правый суд!
Чтобы благие начинанья
Могли свободно возрасти,
разлей в народе жажду знанья
И к знанью укажи пути!
И от ярма порабощенья
Твоих избранников спаси,
Которым знамя просвещенья,
Господь! ты вверишь на Руси…
I have seen it standing up grey,
Gaunt, as though no sunlight
Could ever thaw out the music
Of its great bell; terrible
In its own way, for religion
Is like that. There are times
When a black frost is upon
One’s whole being, and the heart
In its bone belfry hangs and is dumb.
But who is to know? Always,
Even in winter in the cold
Of a stone church, on his knees
Someone is praying, whose prayers fall
Steadily through the hard spell
Of weather that is between God
And himself. Perhaps they are warm rain
That brings the sun and afterwards flowers
On the raw graves and throbbing of bells.
by R. S. Thomas
from Pietà (1966)
For Ceinfryn and Gwyn
When April came to Rhymney
With shower and sun and shower,
The green hills and the brown hills
Could sport some simple flower,
And sweet it was to fancy
That even the blackest mound
Was proud of its single daisy
Rooted in bitter ground.
And old men would remember
And young men would be vain,
And the hawthorn by the pithead
Would blossom in the rain,
And the drabbest streets of evening,
They had their magic hour,
When April came to Rhymney
With shower and sun and shower.
by Idris Davies
The fountains mingle with the river
And the rivers with the ocean,
The winds of heaven mix for ever
With a sweet emotion;
Nothing in the world is single;
All things by a law divine
In one another’s being mingle –
Why not I with thine?
See the mountain’s kiss high heaven
And the waves clasp one another;
No sister-flower would be forgiven
If it disdain’d its brother:
And the sunlight clasps the earth,
And the moonbeams kiss the sea –
What are all these kissings worth,
If thou kiss not me?
by Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792 – 1822)
‘Isn’t the violet a dear little flower? And the daisy, too.
What nice little thoughts arise from a daisy!
If I were a poet now – but no, not a poet,
For a poet is a wild and blasphemous man;
He talks about wine and women too much for me
And he makes mad songs about old pagans, look you.
Poets are dangerous men to have in chapel,
And it is bad enough in chapel as it is
with all the quarelling over the organ and the deacons;
The deacons are not too nice to saintly young men like me.
(Look at Jenkins John Jones, the old damn scoundrel!)
They know I can pray for hours and hours,
They know what a righteous young man I am,
They know how my Bible is always in my pocket
And Abraham and Jonah like brothers to me,
But they prefer the proper preacher with his collar turned around;
They say he is more cultured than I am,
And what is culture but palaver and swank?
I turn up my nose at culture.
I stand up for faith, and very simple faith,
And knowledge I hate because it is poison.
Think of this devilish thing they call science,
It is Satan’s new trick to poison men’s minds.
When I shall be local councillor and a famous man –
I look forward to the day when I shall be mayor –
I will put my foot down on clever palaver,
And show what a righteous young man I am.
And they ought to know I am that already,
For I give all my spare cash to the chapel
And all my spare time to God.’
by Idris Davies
We need flowers to lay on coffins,
but coffins tell us we are flowers
and last no longer than a flower.
by Велимир Хлебников (Velimir Khlebnikov)
a.k.a. Виктор Владимирович Хлебников
(Viktor Vladimirovich Khlebnikov)
translated by Robert Chandler
Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run;
To bend with apples the moss’d cottage-trees,
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease,
For Summer has o’er-brimm’d their clammy cells.
Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?
Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find
Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,
Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind;
Or on a half-reap’d furrow sound asleep,
Drows’d with the fume of poppies, while thy hook
Spares the next swath and all its twined flowers:
And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep
Steady thy laden head across a brook;
Or by a cider-press, with patient look,
Thou watchest the last oozings hours by hours.
Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they?
Think not of them, thou hast thy music too,–
While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day,
And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue;
Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn
Among the river sallows, borne aloft
Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;
And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn;
Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft
The red-breast whistles from a garden-croft;
And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.
By John Keats (1795-1821)
First published in 1820