English

the archivist June 2, 2021

A Birthday Christina Rossetti My heart is like a singing bird                   Whose nest is in a water’d shoot; My heart is like an apple-tree                   Whose boughs are bent with thickset fruit; My heart is like a rainbow shell                   That paddles in a halcyon sea; My heart is gladder than all these                   Because my love is […]

the archivist September 21, 2017

A Song from the Suds Louisa May Alcott (1832–1888) From Little Women QUEEN of my tub, I merrily sing, While the white foam rises high; And sturdily wash, and rinse, and wring, And fasten the clothes to dry; Then out in the free fresh air they swing, Under the sunny sky. I wish we could […]

the archivist March 12, 2015

GOING, GOING by Philip Larkin January 1972, from High Windows I thought it would last my time – The sense that, beyond the town, There would always be fields and farms, Where the village louts could climb Such trees as were not cut down; I knew there’d be false alarms In the papers about old […]

the archivist November 4, 2014

To Sir Richard Fanshaw, Upon His Translation Of ‘Pastor Fido’ Sir John Denham (1615-1669) Such is our pride, our folly, or our fate, That few but such as cannot write, translate. But what in them is want of art or voice, In thee is either modesty or choice. While this great piece, restored by thee, […]

the archivist May 9, 2013

Ulysses (1833) Alfred Tennyson, 1st Baron Tennyson(1809–92) It little profits that an idle king, By this still hearth, among these barren crags, Match’d with an aged wife, I mete and dole Unequal laws unto a savage race, That hoard, and sleep, and feed, and know not me. I cannot rest from travel: I will drink […]

the archivist May 24, 2012

Memory Siegfried Sassoon (Limerick, 1 February 1918) When I was young my heart and head were light, And I was gay and feckless as a colt Out in the fields, with morning in the may, Wind on the grass, wings in the orchard bloom. O thrilling sweet, my joy, when life was free And all […]

the archivist May 31, 2010

I had the first couple of lines, with their curious, beautiful syntax, stuck in my head today. I struggled to recall where they were from. Shakespeare, obviously, but where? One of the plays with end-rhymed soliloquies? That narrows it, but contextually, they could fit in many places. Shakespeare is full of suitable matches. I had […]

the archivist February 6, 2010

Written from a hospital bed in 1875, after the 26-year-old Henley had had his leg amputated as a result of tuberculosis of the bone. Originally untitled, Arthur Quiller-Couch bestowed the name “Invictus” (“Unvanquished”) when he included it in The Oxford Book of English Verse. This was the poem Nelson Mandela kept on a scrap of […]

the archivist May 10, 2009

The Chilterns Rupert Brooke Your hands, my dear, adorable, Your lips of tenderness – Oh, I’ve loved you faithfully and well, Three years, or a bit less. It wasn’t a success. Thank God, that’s done! and I’ll take the road, Quit of my youth and you, The Roman road to Wendover By Tring and Lilley […]

the archivist January 18, 2007

Locksley Hall Alfred, Lord Tennyson Comrades, leave me here a little, while as yet ‘t is early morn: Leave me here, and when you want me, sound upon the bugle-horn. ‘T is the place, and all around it, as of old, the curlews call, Dreary gleams about the moorland flying over Locksley Hall; Locksley Hall, […]