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Ode on Solitude by Alexander Pope

Ode on Solitude

Happy the man, whose wish and care

   A few paternal acres bound,

Content to breathe his native air,

                            In his own ground.


Whose herds with milk, whose fields with bread,

   Whose flocks supply him with attire,

Whose trees in summer yield him shade,

                            In winter fire.


Blest, who can unconcernedly find

   Hours, days, and years slide soft away,

In health of body, peace of mind,

                            Quiet by day,


Sound sleep by night; study and ease,

   Together mixed; sweet recreation;

And innocence, which most does please,

                            With meditation.


Thus let me live, unseen, unknown;

   Thus unlamented let me die;

Steal from the world, and not a stone

                            Tell where I lie.


Alexander Pope was born on this day in 1688, you can find more of his work here  

Ode on Solitude is said to have been written when Pope was only twelve years old and, tragically, the same year in which he contracted spinal tuberculosis.



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Blossom by Kathleen Jamie


Photo by Murdo McDermid



There’s this life and no hereafter –

I’m sure of that

but still I dither, waiting

for my laggard soul

to leap at the world’s touch.


How many May dawns

have I slept right through,

the trees courageous with blossom?

Let me number them . . .


To read the full poem click here

Kathleen Jamie was born on this day

You can find more of her work here

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The Duck and the Kargaroo by Edward Lear

The Duck and the Kargaroo


Said the Duck to the Kangaroo,

‘Good gracious! how you hop!

Over the fields and the water too,

As if you never would stop!

My life is a bore in this nasty pond,

And I long to go out in the world beyond!

I wish I could hop like you!’

Said the Duck to the Kangaroo.



‘Please give me a ride on your back!’

Said the Duck to the Kangaroo.

‘I would sit quite still, and say nothing but “Quack,”

The whole of the long day through!

And we’d go to the Dee, and the Jelly Bo Lee,

Over the land, and over the sea;—

Please take me a ride! O do!’

Said the Duck to the Kangaroo.



Said the Kangaroo to the Duck,

‘This requires some little reflection;

Perhaps on the whole it might bring me luck,

And there seems but one objection,

Which is, if you’ll let me speak so bold,

Your feet are unpleasantly wet and cold,

And would probably give me the roo-

Matiz!’ said the Kangaroo.



Said the Duck, ‘As I sate on the rocks,

I have thought over that completely,

And I bought four pairs of worsted socks

Which fit my web-feet neatly.

And to keep out the cold I’ve bought a cloak,

And every day a cigar I’ll smoke,

All to follow my own dear true

Love of a Kangaroo!’



Said the Kangaroo, ‘I’m ready!

All in the moonlight pale;

But to balance me well, dear Duck, sit steady!

And quite at the end of my tail!’

So away they went with a hop and a bound,

And they hopped the whole world three times round;

And who so happy,—O who,

As the Duck and the Kangaroo?

Edward Lear was born on this day in 1812, you can find more of his work here


Photo by CircaSassy



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Ancestral by Archibald MacLeish


The star dissolved in evening—the one star
The silently
                   and night O soon now, soon
And still the light now
                                    and still now the large
                     and through the pools of blue
Still, still the swallows
                                       and a wind now
                                                            and the tree
Gathering darkness:
                              I was small. I lay
Beside my mother on the grass, and sleep
          slow hooves and dripping with the dark
The velvet muzzles, the white feet that move
In a dream water
                        and O soon now soon
Sleep and the night.
                              And I was not afraid.
Her hand lay over mine. Her fingers knew
Darkness,—and sleep—the silent lands, the far
Far off of morning where I should awake.


Archibald MacLeish was born on this day in 1892.

He was a poet, playwright, essayist, Librarian of Congress and lawyer. 

American Libraries has called MacLeish “one of the hundred most influential figures in librarianship during the 20th century”

In 1972 MacLeish wrote:

The library, almost alone of the great monuments of civilization, stands taller now than it ever did before. The city… decays. The nation loses its grandeur… The university is not always certain what it is. But the library remains: a silent and enduring affirmation that the great Reports still speak, and not alone but somehow all together…[13]

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May Day by Thomas MacDonagh

May Day

I wish I were to-day on the hill behind the wood,–
My eyes on the brown bog there and the Shannon river,–
Behind the wood at home, a quickened solitude
When the winds from Slieve Bloom set the branches there a-quiver.

The winds are there now and the green of May
On every feathery tree-bough, tender on every hedge:
Over the bog-fields there larks carol to-day,
And a cuckoo is mocking them out of the woodland’s edge.

Here a country warmth is quiet on the rocks
That alone make never a change when the May is duly come;
Here sings no lark, and to-day no cuckoo mocks:
Over the wide hill a hawk floats, and the leaves are dumb.

Thomas MacDonagh was born in Tipperary in 1878 and died on this day in 1916. 

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As Much as You Can by C P Cavafy

As Much as You Can

Even if you can’t shape your life the way you want, 

at least try as much as you can

not to degrade it

by too much contact with the world,

by too much activity and talk.


Do not degrade it by dragging it along,

taking it around and exposing it so often 

to the daily silliness

of social relations and parties,

until it comes to seem a boring hanger-on.

Constantine P. Cavafy was born in Alexandria, Egypt on this day in 1863 and died on this day in 1933


W.H. Auden noted in his introduction to the 1961 volume The Complete Poems of C.P. Cavafy , “Cavafy was a homosexual, and his erotic poems make no attempt to conceal the fact.  As a witness, Cavafy is exceptionally honest. He neither bowdlerizes nor glamorizes nor giggles.”


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When that I was and a little tiny boy by William Shakespeare

When that I was and a tiny little boy

(With hey, ho, the wind and the rain)

By William Shakespeare  (from Twelfth Night)
When that I was and a little tiny boy,
    With hey, ho, the wind and the rain,
A foolish thing was but a toy,
    For the rain it raineth every day.
But when I came to man’s estate,
    With hey, ho, the wind and the rain,
’Gainst knaves and thieves men shut their gate,
    For the rain it raineth every day.
But when I came, alas! to wive,
    With hey, ho, the wind and the rain,
By swaggering could I never thrive,
    For the rain it raineth every day.
But when I came unto my beds,
    With hey, ho, the wind and the rain,
With toss-pots still had drunken heads,
    For the rain it raineth every day.
A great while ago the world begun,
    With hey, ho, the wind and the rain,
But that’s all one, our play is done,
    And we’ll strive to please you every day.
William Shakespeare was baptisted on this day in 1564  
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