From The Short Story A Christmas Dream, And How It Came True by Louisa May Alcott

From our happy home 
Through the world we roam 
One week in all the year, 
Making winter spring 
With the joy we bring 
For Christmas-tide is here. 

Now the eastern star 
Shines from afar 
To light the poorest home; 
Hearts warmer grow, 
Gifts freely flow, 
For Christmas-tide has come. 

Now gay trees rise 
Before young eyes, 
Abloom with tempting cheer; 
Blithe voices sing, 
And blithe bells ring, 
For Christmas-tide is here. 

Oh, happy chime, 
Oh, blessed time, 
That draws us all so near! 
“Welcome, dear day,” 
All creatures say, 
For Christmas-tide is here.

Louisa May Alcott was born in 1832 and died in 1888. You can find some of her work here

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THE FIRST DAY OF WINTER by Laura Lush

On the first day of winter,
the earth awakens to the cold touch of itself.
Snow knows no other recourse except
this falling, this sudden letting go
over the small gnomed bushes, all the emptying trees.

To read the full poem click here

 

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Sunset by B. John Burr

sunset

Photo by Erik N

 

SUNSET

The noise turned off

The cranking engine of the worked out day

The noise turned off

The bird flock settled in the roosting tree

 

The silence preceding

The stalking silhouettes of night

The silence preceding

The appearing blinks of homely orange light

 

The rituals performing

The bugle sounding out the end of day

The rituals performing

The flag of Nation lowering to the ground

 

The dividing light

The smudge of pink and barley sugar hues

The divining light

The sun’s hot forge of wasting rays

 

The darkening tones

The night closing on the vicissitudes of day

The passing mystic hours

The hope of better blessings rooted in the heart

 

The awakening day

The noise in slippers first proclaiming light.

The noise switched on

The clattering engine of perpetual daily life.

 

by B. John Burr

The word of John Burr and other Surrey Poets can be found in Words in Focus, a collection of poetry and photography currently touring Surrey Libraries.  Click here to view the dates.

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Gloriana Dying by Sylvia Townsend Warner

Gloriana Dying

 

None shall gainsay me. I will lie on the floor.

Hitherto from horseback, throne, balcony,

I have looked down upon your looking up.

Those sands are run. Now I reverse the glass

And bid henceforth your homage downward, falling

Obedient and unheeded as leaves in autumn

To quilt the wakeful study I shall make

Examining my kingdom from below.

How tall my people are! Like a race of trees

They sway, sigh, nod heads, rustle above me,

And their attentive eyes are distant as starshine.

I have still cherished the handsome and well-made:

No queen has better masts within her forests

Growing, nor prouder and more restive minds

Scabbarded in the loyalty of subjects;

No virgin has had better worship than I.

No, no! Leave me alone, woman! I will not

Be put into a bed. Do you suppose

That I who’ve ridden through all weathers, danced

Under a treasury’s weight of jewels, sat

Myself to stone through sermons and addresses,

Shall come to harm by sleeping on a floor?

Not that I sleep. A bed were good enough

If that were in my mind. But I am here

For a deep study and contemplation,

And as Persephone, and the red vixen

Go underground to sharpen their wits,

I have left my dais to learn a new policy

Through watching of your feet, and as the Indian

Lays all his listening body along the earth

I lie in wait for the reverberation

Of things to come and dangers threatening.

Is that the Bishop praying? Let him pray on.

If his knees tire his faith can cushion them.

How the poor man grieves Heaven with news of me!

Deposuit superbos. But no hand

Other than my own has put me down –

Not feebleness enforced on brain or limb,

Not fear, misgiving, fantasy, age, palsy,

Has felled me. I lie here by my own will,

And by the curiosity of a queen.

I dare say there is not in all England

One who lies closer to the ground than I.

Not the traitor in the condemned hold

Whose few straws edge away from under his weight

Of ironed fatality; not the shepherd

Huddled for cold under the hawthorn bush

Nor the long-dreaming country lad who lies

Scorching his book before the dying brand.

 

Sylvia Townsend Warner was born on this day in 1893

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Advice to Grub Street verse-writers by Jonathan Swift

Advice to Grub Street verse-writers

Grub Street

Image from page 184 of “Tom Browns school-days” (1911)

     

 

Ye poets ragged and forlorn,

      Down from your garrets haste;

Ye rhymers, dead as soon as born,

      Not yet consign’d to paste;

 

   I know a trick to make you thrive;

      O, ’tis a quaint device:

Your still-born poems shall revive,

      And scorn to wrap up spice.

 

   Get all your verses printed fair,

      Then let them well be dried;

And Curll must have a special care

      To leave the margin wide.

 

   Lend these to paper-sparing Pope;

      And when he sets to write,

No letter with an envelope

      Could give him more delight.

 

   When Pope has fill’d the margins round,

      Why then recall your loan;

Sell them to Curll for fifty pound,

      And swear they are your own.

 

 

 Jonathan Swift was born on this day in 1667.  You can read more of his work here, and the work of “paper-sparing” Alexander Pope here.    
 
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A Divine Image by William Blake

A Divine Image

Cruelty has a human heart,
And Jealousy a human face;
Terror the human form divine,
And Secresy the human dress.

The human dress is forged iron,
The human form a fiery forge,
The human face a furnace sealed,
The human heart its hungry gorge.

William Blake was born on this day in 1757, you can read more of his work here

 

 

 

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Fairy-tale Logic by A E Stallings

myth

Photo by Garland Cannon

Fairy-tale Logic

Fairy tales are full of impossible tasks:

Gather the chin hairs of a man-eating goat,

Or cross a sulphuric lake in a leaky boat,

Select the prince from a row of identical masks,

Tiptoe up to a dragon where it basks

And snatch its bone; count dust specks, mote by mote,

Or learn the phone directory by rote.

Always it’s impossible what someone asks—

 

To read the full poem click here

Photo by GarlandCannon

 

 

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