Category Archives: Classic Poems

For want of a nail

“For the want of a nail the shoe was lost,

For the want of a shoe the horse was lost,

For the want of a horse the rider was lost,

For the want of a rider the battle was lost,

For the want of a battle the kingdom was lost,

And all for the want of a horseshoe-nail”.

Benjamin Franklin

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the Mad Gardener’s Song

Ondioline

He thought he saw an Elephant,
That practised on a fife:
He looked again, and found it was
A letter from his wife.
“At length I realize,” he said,
”The bitterness of Life!”

He thought he saw a Buffalo
Upon the chimney-piece:
He looked again, and found it was
His Sister’s Husband’s Niece.
“Unless you leave this house,” he said,
”I’ll send for the Police!”

He thought he saw a Rattlesnake
That questioned him in Greek:
He looked again, and found it was
The Middle of Next Week.
“The one thing I regret,” he said,
”Is that it cannot speak!”

He thought he saw a Banker’s Clerk
Descending from the bus:
He looked again, and found it was
A Hippopotamus.
“If this should stay to dine,” he said,
”There won’t be much for us!”

He thought he saw a Kangaroo
That worked a coffee-mill:
He looked again, and found it…

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Thinking of Li Po at Sky’s End (after Tu Fu)

O at the Edges

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Thinking of Li Po at Sky’s End (after Tu Fu)

Cold wind rises at the sky’s end.
What does he consider?
And when will the geese arrive?
The rivers and lakes are full this autumn
but poets’ fates are seldom pleasant.
Demons love to see us fail.
Let’s think of dead Ch’u Yuan
and offer poems to the river.

The transliteration on Chinesepoems.com reads:

Thinking of Li Po at the End of the Sky

Cold wind rise sky end
Gentleman thought resemble what?
Goose what time come?
River lake autumn water much
Literature hate fate eminent
Demons happy people failure
Respond together wronged person language
Throw poems give Miluo

According to the notes at Chinesepoems.com, the wild goose is a symbol of autumn, letters and travellers in difficulties. The wronged person is Qu Yuan, a poet of the fourth century BC who drowned himself in the Miluo river – another…

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The Seed Shop

Secret Gardener

hugo de vriesHugo Marie de Vries ForMemRS (February, 1848 – May, 1935)

The Seed Shop

Here in a quiet and dusty room they lie,
Faded as crumbled stone or shifting sand,
Forlorn as ashes, shrivelled, scentless, dry –
Meadows and gardens running through my hand.

In this brown husk a dale of hawthorn dreams;
A cedar in this narrow cell is thrust
That will drink deeply of a century’s streams;
These lilies shall make summer on my dust.

Here in their safe and simple house of death,
Sealed in their shells, a million roses leap;
Here I can blow a garden with my breath,
And in my hand a forest lies asleep.


Muriel Stuart Irwin (1885 — 1967)

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“The Changeling” – Charlotte Mary Mew

Linda Catherine

Toll no bell for me, dear Father dear Mother, 
Waste no sighs; 
There are my sisters, there is my little brother 
Who plays in the place called Paradise, 
Your children all, your children for ever; 
But I, so wild, 
Your disgrace, with the queer brown face, was never, 
Never, I know, but half your child! 

In the garden at play, all day, last summer, 
Far and away I heard 
The sweet “tweet-tweet” of a strange new-comer, 
The dearest, clearest call of a bird. 
It lived down there in the deep green hollow, 
My own old home, and the fairies say 
The word of a bird is a thing to follow, 
So I was away a night and a day. 

One evening, too, by the nursery fire, 
We snuggled close and sat round so still, 
When suddenly as the wind blew higher, 
Something scratched on the window-sill, 
A pinched brown face…

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