“A Dream We Have” by James Sale

There is a dream we have; we see it with
The children – teachers mark uninspired books
And yet even with language in full cliché
There comes across, through repetition, “Look!”

Our world would be a better place – if only
Some simple rules and all of them followed;
Like, if everyone were friends, or better,
No wars existed. Oh, Father! Hallowed

Be Thy Name, but how much “Hello” sounds
Hollow when “Goodbye” to all agreement
Beckons and eyes are only strapped to grounds
For seeing flatness which is only meant

To be and nothing else. A dream we have
And nothing else: children evaporate
Into adulthood, forgetting, like old men,
The smell of milk from breasts, for empty plates.




James Sale, a 2022 Pushcart Prize nominee, has had poetry and literary works published in Hong Kong, the USA, and the UK. His work has appeared in The Society of Classical Poets, The Epoch Times, The Times Educational Supplement, The Hong Kong Review, The Anglo-Theological Review, The St Austin Review, and many others. An international and award-winning poet, he currently is one of two judges for the Society of Classical Poets’ 100 Days of Dante poetry competition. For more information about the author and about his own Dante project, visit https://englishcantos.home.blog.

Two Poems by John Donne

John Donne (1572-1631)

Ordered to take on holy orders by the king, British poet John Donne (1572-1631) actually wore many hats in his lifetime. In addition to his position as Dean of St. Paul’s Cathedral in London, Donne was a poet, scholar, secretary, soldier, and member of Parliament. His prolific volume of literary work includes everything from sonnets to sermons. His metaphysical poetry sometimes touches on profound questions of religious faith while at other times can be surprisingly erotic and sensual. “Death Be Not Proud” and “The Good-Morrow,” are two of his most celebrated works.

 

Death Be Not Proud

Death, be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so;
For those whom thou think’st thou dost overthrow
Die not, poor Death, nor yet canst thou kill me.
From rest and sleep, which but thy pictures be,
Much pleasure; then from thee much more must flow,
And soonest our best men with thee do go,
Rest of their bones, and soul’s delivery.
Thou art slave to fate, chance, kings, and desperate men,
And dost with poison, war, and sickness dwell,
And poppy or charms can make us sleep as well
And better than thy stroke; why swell’st thou then?
One short sleep past, we wake eternally
And death shall be no more; Death, thou shalt die.

 

The Good-Morrow

My face in thine eye, thine in mine appears,
And true plain hearts do in the faces rest;
Where can we find two better hemispheres,
Without sharp north, without declining west?
Whatever dies, was not mixed equally;
If our two loves be one, or, thou and I
Love so alike, that none do slacken, none can die.

Two Poems by John Keats

John_Keats_by_William_HiltonDead from tuberculosis by the age of 25, British poet John Keats (1795-1821) nonetheless has become second perhaps only to William Shakespeare as a renowned poet of classical English literature. He is, to the present day, looked upon with reverence as an inspiration to the craft. Regarded as among the most skilled of the Romantics, Keats’ poetry is noted as being heavily loaded with emotion, most often expressed through natural imagery. Keats is one of the many poets whose work was only fully appreciated after his death. The poems below, “Ode to a Nightingale” and “Ode to a Grecian Urn,” are two of his most celebrated works.

Ode to a Nightingale

My heart aches, and a drowsy numbness pains
    My sense, as though of hemlock I had drunk,
Or emptied some dull opiate to the drains
    One minute past, and Lethe-wards had sunk:
'Tis not through envy of thy happy lot,
    But being too happy in thine happiness,—
        That thou, light-winged Dryad of the trees,
                In some melodious plot
    Of beechen green, and shadows numberless,
        Singest of summer in full-throated ease.

Darkling I listen; and, for many a time
    I have been half in love with easeful Death,
Call'd him soft names in many a mused rhyme,
    To take into the air my quiet breath;
        Now more than ever seems it rich to die,
    To cease upon the midnight with no pain,
        While thou art pouring forth thy soul abroad
                In such an ecstasy!
    Still wouldst thou sing, and I have ears in vain—
    To thy high requiem become a sod.

Ode to a Grecian Urn

Thou still unravish'd bride of quietness,
       Thou foster-child of silence and slow time,
Sylvan historian, who canst thus express
       A flowery tale more sweetly than our rhyme:
What leaf-fring'd legend haunts about thy shape
       Of deities or mortals, or of both,
               In Tempe or the dales of Arcady?
       What men or gods are these? What maidens loth?
What mad pursuit? What struggle to escape?
               What pipes and timbrels? What wild ecstasy?

Heard melodies are sweet, but those unheard
       Are sweeter; therefore, ye soft pipes, play on;
Not to the sensual ear, but, more endear'd,
       Pipe to the spirit ditties of no tone:
Fair youth, beneath the trees, thou canst not leave
       Thy song, nor ever can those trees be bare;
               Bold Lover, never, never canst thou kiss,
Though winning near the goal yet, do not grieve;
       She cannot fade, though thou hast not thy bliss,
               For ever wilt thou love, and she be fair!

Ah, happy, happy boughs! that cannot shed
         Your leaves, nor ever bid the Spring adieu;
And, happy melodist, unwearied,
         For ever piping songs for ever new;
More happy love! more happy, happy love!
         For ever warm and still to be enjoy'd,
                For ever panting, and for ever young;
All breathing human passion far above,
         That leaves a heart high-sorrowful and cloy'd,
                A burning forehead, and a parching tongue.

Who are these coming to the sacrifice?
         To what green altar, O mysterious priest,
Lead'st thou that heifer lowing at the skies,
         And all her silken flanks with garlands drest?
What little town by river or sea shore,
         Or mountain-built with peaceful citadel,
                Is emptied of this folk, this pious morn?
And, little town, thy streets for evermore
         Will silent be; and not a soul to tell
                Why thou art desolate, can e'er return.

O Attic shape! Fair attitude! with brede
         Of marble men and maidens overwrought,
With forest branches and the trodden weed;
         Thou, silent form, dost tease us out of thought
As doth eternity: Cold Pastoral!
         When old age shall this generation waste,
                Thou shalt remain, in midst of other woe
Than ours, a friend to man, to whom thou say'st,
         "Beauty is truth, truth beauty,—that is all
                Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know."

“Bach” by Arthur L. Wood

Bach is playing sweetly,
The flowers are in bloom,
My lady moves so gently
With her hands upon a broom,
She’s sweeping all the ashes
Into piles by the door,
And never ever need I ask
What are we fighting for?

For Bach will suit our toil
And Bach will suit our rest;
I gently peel an orange
And look upon the west,
Our lovely sun is setting,
The evensong begins,
The birds and Bach are singing
Unaware of sins.

And as the song increases
The ash is in my hand,
The birds become frenetic,
My lady’s in command,
Bach is in his tremor now,
My frightened hands are curled,
My lady breathes upon the ash
And blows away the world.




Arthur L. Wood is a poet from Winchester, UK. He has published two collections, Poems for Susan (2020) and Scarlet Land (2021).  His poetry takes inspiration from the lyrical poetry of the early twentieth century, notably Walter de la Mare and William Butler Yeats. Wood’s poetry has been described by Raymond Keene, OBE, as functioning “as an overview of the entire English tradition of poetic creation.” He is widely published in poetry journals and runs his own YouTube channel, Poetry from the Shires, where he shares classic and original verse. Wood’s third collection, Lysander, is expected in September 2022. Find him on Twitter @ArthurLWood.

“Lorna” by Patrick Key

I liked how she reminded me of plastic
tablecloths, yellow stained ceilings, and
all-purpose flour. She was smiling, romantic.
In the moonlight with me, resting on the land.
Drinking in the shine distilled illegally.
The path of darkness ended and turned into the heat.
Her warmth gave me hope, because secretly
I saw the bloodstains. Heard her bleat.
There were no footsteps leading to the wood.
I hope. Unlike others before her time.
Wedding bells soon chimed. “I could
wear pastel pink.” I wanted it to be mine,
but such a hue was lost to all of those years.
Memory beckons, even when I blink away the tears.




Patrick Key started writing seriously later in life, thanks to the help of a poetry class during his undergraduate years. His works have appeared in Wine Cellar Press, The Daily Drunk, The Amethyst Review, among others. He is also the founding editor of Grand Little Things. More can be found at https://patrickkeywriter.com/

“The Birdman” by Brian Yapko

The morning’s hatch? A meager price to pay.
I earn my catch, drone my noon-songs, pray
To all the lares and penates on my back.
I lift my eyelids open but a crack
And pile my daily duties in a stack.
These I perform with duly reasoned thought.
(Once I saw a hawk and sparrow caught
And kept until each met its time to die)
I leave the cluttered desk, I float. I fly
Enraptured with the spirit of the sky.
      But whose voice calls me back? What altar burns?
      What pressing work awaits? Whose planet turns?
      And the dial, the dial crosses me. Aflight
      I dread the day should e’er be spread with night.

Annunciation of the dark. My flight
Is done. I disconnect the yellow light
And leave for home to force my evening meal.
I toll and chant each vesper as I kneel
Before the lares. Why don’t they hear and feel
What I am suffering? Am I? Am I alone?
Is there time to live? Can a person turn to stone
In just a day, a month, a year? I read.
I pray the night consume my thoughts of human need.
(And if… if I fly… is that not also greed?)
      I am being called back. No altars burn.
      But my work awaits as darkening planets turn.
      And still that damned dial crosses me. Tonight
      I dread that I should e’er again take flight.




Brian Yapko practices law and writes poetry. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Grand Little Things, Society of Classical Poets, Poetica, Chained Muse, Garfield Lake Review, Tempered Runes Press and as a first-prize contest winner in The Abstract Elephant. He lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico. 

“In Residence” by Jane Blanchard

A challenge of dividing time between
two homes arises in the middle of
the night. One wakes up questioning the scene
of somnolence. Is there a fan above
the bed? How heavy are the covers on
the body? Answers indicate the floor
plan one must walk to reach the nearest john
while not relying on night vision more
than absolutely necessary. (Eyes
once open rarely want to close again
for hours.) With luck, one’s better half just sighs,
turns over, goes right back to sleep. A win
comes when one’s self succumbs to slumber and
some sprightly man begins to sprinkle sand.




Jane Blanchard lives and writes in Georgia (USA).  Her work has recently appeared in The Asses of ParnassusThe Ekphrastic ReviewThe North American Anglican, and The Spectator.  Her latest collection with Kelsay Books is In or Out of Season (2020).

“A Visit from St. Nicholas” by Clement Clark Moore

Clement Clarke Moore (1779-1863)

Clement Clark Moore (1779-1863) was a poet and academic who is best remembered for the following poem which he claimed to have written for his children. Although he was acknowledged throughout his lifetime as the undisputed author of the poem, which was originally published anonymously in 1823, some modern scholars have suggested a different author actually wrote the poem. What is indisputable is that the poem, “A Visit from St. Nicholas,” is one of the most well-known poems ever written by an American poet, and has been singularly responsible for many current conceptions of Santa Claus and Christmas gift-giving in secular American culture.



Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;
The children were nestled all snug in their beds;
While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads;
And mamma in her ‘kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled our brains for a long winter’s nap,
When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from my bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.
The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow,
Gave a lustre of midday to objects below,
When what to my wondering eyes did appear,
But a miniature sleigh and eight tiny rein-deer,
With a little old driver so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment he must be St. Nick.
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name:
“Now, Dasher! now, Dancer! now Prancer and Vixen!
On, Comet! on, Cupid! on, Donner and Blitzen!
To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
Now dash away! dash away! dash away all!”
As leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky;
So up to the housetop the coursers they flew
With the sleigh full of toys, and St. Nicholas too—
And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
Down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound.
He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot;
A bundle of toys he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a peddler just opening his pack.
His eyes—how they twinkled! his dimples, how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard on his chin was as white as the snow;
The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke, it encircled his head like a wreath;
He had a broad face and a little round belly
That shook when he laughed, like a bowl full of jelly.
He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself;
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread;
He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And filled all the stockings; then turned with a jerk,
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose;
He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight—
“Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night!”

“Ode to the East Wind” by Carol Casey

You come from where our stark beginnings find
their birth and blow through truth and storm to where
the roots of cold dig deep and make us blind
with tears that freeze on faces wild with care
and make escape from you such great relief
that other burdens seem so light to bear
when we are left with only human grief
to gather up within some sheltered lair
while you go on to taunt the naked trees
And howl your lonely dirges through the air
where sere fates toss about like brittle leaves
that sweep both nerve and landscape into prayer.
For it’s your careless power we resist
and challenged, find the courage to persist.




Carol Casey lives in Blyth, Ontario, Canada. Her work has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and has appeared in The Prairie Journal, BluePepper, Back Channels, Front Porch Review and others, including a number of anthologies, most recently, i am what becomes of broken branch and We Are One: Poems From the Pandemic. Facebook: @ccaseypoetry; Twitter: @ccasey_carol; Webpage: https://learnforlifepotential.com/home-2/poetry/

“The Lion’s Last Act” by Royal Rhodes

Transported in your caravan was fun —
adventures far removed from zoo to zoo,
remembering the grasslands I had run,
a cub when my captivity was new.
Within the center ring that filled the tent,
encircled by the nightly roaring crowd,
I saw the iron bars the strongman bent
and clowns whose frolics made them laugh so loud.
You trained me with a chair and snaking whip
to snarl and shake my Samson-tangled mane,
and placed a cigarette upon your lip,
so calm it drove the audience insane.
They gave a gasp when you spread wide my paws
and placed your head between my ready jaws.




Royal Rhodes is a retired professor who taught classes in global religions, the Classics, religion & the arts, and death & dying. His poetry has appeared online and in a series of art/poetry collaborations for The Catbird [on the Yadkin] Press in North Carolina. His current project is a poetry/photography collaboration on sacred sites in Italy.