Wednesday, October 31, 2018

from King Lear by William Shakespeare, 2.2.172-192

        I heard myself proclaimed,
        And by the happy hollow of a tree
        Escaped the hunt. No port is free, no place
        That guard and most unusual vigilance
        Does not attend my taking. While I may scape
        I will preserve myself, and am bethought
        To take the basest and most poorest shape
        That ever penury in contempt of man
        Brought near to beast. My face I’ll grime with filth,
        Blanket my loins, elf all my hair in knots
        And with presented nakedness outface
        The winds and persecutions of the sky.
        The country gives me proof and precedent
        Of Bedlam beggars, who, with roaring voices,
        Strike in their numbed and mortified bare arms
        Pins, wooden pricks, nails, sprigs of rosemary;
        And with this horrible object, from low farms,
        Poor pelting villages, sheepcotes and mills,
        Sometime with lunatic bans, sometime with prayers,
        Enforce their charity. Poor Turlygod, poor Tom,
        That’s something yet: Edgar I nothing am.      Exit.

Source of the text – William Shakespeare, King Lear, Act 2, Scene 2, lines 172-192, from King Lear (Arden Shakespeare: Third Series), edited by R.A. Foakes.  London: Thomas Nelson and Sons, 1997, p. 237-238.

TJB: Faux villonaud. As the soliloquy progresses, Edgar’s poised, hypotactic iambics give way to the trochaic roaring mad litany of Poor Tom.

Tom a Bedlam's song, anonymous lyric

Tom a Bedlam

From the hag and hungry goblin
That into rags would rend ye,
The spirit that stands by the naked man
In the book of moons defend ye,
That of your five sound senses
You never be forsaken,
Nor wander from yourselves with Tom
Abroad to beg your bacon,
             While I do sing, Any food, any feeding,
             Feeding, drink, or clothing;
             Come dame or maid, be not afraid,
             Poor Tom will injure nothing.

Of thirty bare years have I
Twice twenty been enraged,
And of forty been three times fifteen
In durance soundly caged
On the lordly lofts of Bedlam
With stubble soft and dainty,
Brave bracelets strong, sweet whips ding dong
With wholesome hunger plenty,
             And now I sing, etc.

With a thought I took for Maudlin
And a cruse of cockle pottage,
With a thing thus tall, sky bless you all,
I befell into this dotage.
I slept not since the Conquest,
Till then I never waked,
Till the roguish boy of love where I lay
Me found and strip’t me naked.
             And now I sing, etc.

When I short have shorn my sow’s face
And swigged my horny barrel,
In an oaken inn I pound my skin
As a suit of gilt apparrel;
The moon’s my constant mistress
And the lovely owl my marrow;
The flaming drake and the night crow make
Me music to my sorrow.
             While I do sing, etc.

The palsy plagues my pulses
When I prig your pigs or pullen,
Your culvers take, or matchless make
Your chanticleer or sullen.
When I want provant with Humphrey I sup,
And when I am benighted,
I walk in Paul’s with wandering souls,
Yet never am affrighted.
             But I do sing, etc.

I know more than Apollo,
For oft when he lies sleeping
I see the stars at bloody wars
In the wounded welkin weeping;
The moon embrace her shepherd,
And the queen of love her warrior,
While the first doth horn the star of morn,
And the next the heavenly farrier.
             While I do sing, etc.

The gypsies, Snap and Pedro,
Are none of Tom’s comradoes,
The punk I scorn and the cutpurse sworn,
And the roaring boy’s bravadoes.
The meek, the white, the gentle
Me handle, touch, and spare not;
But those that cross Tom Rynosseross
Do what the panther dare not.
             Although I sing, etc.

With an host of furious fancies
Whereof I am commander,
With a burning spear and a horse of air,
To the wilderness I wander.
By a knight of ghosts and shadows
I summoned am to a tourney
Ten leagues beyond the wide world’s end:
Methinks it is no journey.
             Yet will I sing, etc.

Source of the text - Norton Anthology of English Literature,, accessed Oct. 26, 2018.

TJB: Vagabond ode. Truly happy, truly free, the beggar sings himself, unapologetic, fierce, and with alliterated, accentual, mad limerick energy.

"I'll tell you how the Sun rose" by Emily Dickinson

I’ll tell you how the Sun rose -
A Ribbon at a time -
The Steeples swam in Amethyst -
The news, like Squirrels, ran -
The Hills untied their Bonnets -
The Bobolinks – begun -
Then I said softly to myself -
“That must have been the Sun!”
But how he set - I know not -
There seemed a purple stile
Which little Yellow boys and girls
Were climbing all the while -
Till when they reached the other side -
A Dominie in Gray -
Put gently up the evening Bars -
And led the flock away -

Source of the text - The Poems of Emily Dickinson: Reading Edition, edited by Ralph W. Franklin. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1998, p. 95.

TJB: This two-part poem sings of sunrise as enthralling, inebriating, alliterated pageant, then sunset as a shepherd leading her sheep back home.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

"I like a look of Agony" by Emily Dickinson

I like a look of Agony,
Because I know it’s true -
Men do not sham Convulsion,
Nor simulate, a Throe -

The eyes glaze once - and that is Death -
Impossible to feign
The Beads opon the Forehead
By homely Anguish strung.

Source of the text - The Poems of Emily Dickinson: Reading Edition, edited by Ralph W. Franklin. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1998, p. 152.

TJB: No faking. At her most hymnalistical, & sounding like Holden Caulfield, the poet dismounts with an image of “anguish” with a beading-needle.

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