Wenceslas

Good King Wenceslas looked out
On the feast of Stephen
When the snow lay round about
Deep and crisp and even
Brightly shone the moon that night
Though the frost was cruel
When a poor man came in sight
Gath’ring winter fuel.

“Hither, page, and stand by me
If thou know’st it, telling
Yonder peasant, who is he?
Where and what his dwelling?”
“Sire, he lives a good league hence
Underneath the mountain
Right against the forest fence
By Saint Agnes’ fountain.”

“Bring me flesh and bring me wine
Bring me pine logs hither
Thou and I will see him dine
When we bear them thither.”
Page and monarch forth they went
Forth they went together
Through the rude wind’s wild lament
And the bitter weather.

“Sire, the night is darker now
And the wind blows stronger
Fails my heart, I know not how,
I can go no longer.”
“Mark my footsteps, my good page
Tread thou in them boldly
Thou shalt find the winter’s rage
Freeze thy blood less coldly.”

In his master’s steps he trod
Where the snow lay dinted
Heat was in the very sod
Which the Saint had printed
Therefore, Christian men, be sure
Wealth or rank possessing
Ye who now will bless the poor
Shall yourselves find blessing.

-John Mason Neale

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Soul Food

not my photo.

Wilt thou love God, as he thee! then digest,
My Soule, this wholsome meditation,
How God the Spirit, by Angels waited on
In heaven, doth make his Temple in thy brest.
The Father having begot a Sonne most blest,
And still begetting, (for he ne’r begonne)
Hath deign’d to chuse thee by adoption,
Coheire to his glory, and Sabbaths endlesse rest.
And as a robb’d man, which by search doth finde
His stolne stuffe sold, must lose or buy it againe:
The Sonne of glory came downe, and was slaine,
Us whom he had made, and Satan stolne, to unbinde.
Twas much, that man was made like God before,
But, that God should be made like man, much more.

-John Donne

Brave New World

On this evening before Election Day, I procrastinate from my lab write-up long enough to bring you some Kipling-for-thought:

The Gods of the Copybook Headings

As I pass through my incarnations
in every age and race,
I make my proper prostrations
to the Gods of the Market-Place.
Peering through reverent fingers
I watch them flourish and fall,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings,
I notice, outlast them all.

We were living in trees when they met us.
They showed us each in turn
That Water would certainly wet us,
as Fire would certainly burn;
But we found them lacking in Uplift,
Vision and Breadth of Mind,
So we left them to teach the Gorillas
while we followed the March of Mankind.

We moved as the Spirit listed.
They never altered their pace,
Being neither cloud nor wind-borne
like the Gods of the Market-Place;
But they always caught up with our progress,
and presently word would come
That a tribe had been wiped off its icefield,
or the lights had gone out in Rome.

With the Hopes that our World is built on
they were utterly out of touch.
They denied that the Moon was Stilton;
they denied she was even Dutch.
They denied that Wishes were Horses;
they denied that a Pig had Wings.
So we worshiped the Gods of the Market
Who promised these beautiful things.

When the Cambrian measures were forming,
They promised perpetual peace.
They swore, if we gave them our weapons,
that the wars of the tribes would cease.
But when we disarmed They sold us
and delivered us bound to our foe,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings
said: “Stick to the Devil you know.”

On the first Feminian Sandstones
we were promised the Fuller Life
(Which started by loving our neighbor
and ended by loving his wife)
Till our women had no more children
and the men lost reason and faith,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings
said: “The Wages of Sin is Death.”

In the Carboniferous Epoch
we were promised abundance for all,
By robbing selected Peter
to pay for collective Paul;
But though we had plenty of money,
there was nothing our money could buy,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings
said: “If you don’t work you’ll die.”

Then the Gods of the Market tumbled,
and their smooth-tongued wizards withdrew,
And the hearts of the meanest were humbled
and began to believe it was true
That All is not Gold that Glitters,
and Two and Two make Four –
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings
limped up to explain it once more.

* * * *

As it will be in the future,
it was at the birth of Man –
There are only four things certain
since Social Progress began: –
That the Dog returns to his Vomit
and the Sow returns to her Mire,
And the burnt Fool’s bandaged finger
goes wabbling back to the Fire;
And that after this is accomplished,
and the brave new world begins
When all men are paid for existing
and no man must pay for his sins,
As surely as Water will wet us,
as surely as Fire will burn,
The Gods of the Copybook Headings
with terror and slaughter return!

Rudyard Kipling

Patriotism

O say! can you see, by the dawn’s early light,
What so proudly we hail’d at the twilight’s last gleaming?
Whose broad stripes and bright stars, thro’ the perilous fight,
O’er the ramparts we watch’d, were so gallantly streaming?
And the rocket’s red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof thro’ the night that our flag was still there.
O say, does that Star-Spangled Banner yet wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

On the shore, dimly seen thro’ the mists of the deep,
Where the foe’s haughty host in dread silence reposes,
What is that which the breeze, o’er the towering steep,
As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses?
Now it catches the gleam of the morning’s first beam,
In full glory reflected, now shines on the stream:
‘Tis the Star-Spangled Banner: O long may it wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

O thus be it ever when freemen shall stand
Between their lov’d homes and the war’s desolation!
Blest with vict’ry and peace, may the Heav’n-rescued land
Praise the Pow’r that hath made and preserved us a nation!
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: “In God is our trust!”
And the Star-Spangled Banner in triumph shall wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!
-Francis Scott Key

Of Mourning: A Valediction

As virtuous men pass mildly away,
And whisper to their souls, to go,
Whilst some of their sad friends do say:
‘The breath goes now’, and some say: ‘No’:

So let us melt, and make no noise,
No tear-floods, nor sigh-tempests move;
‘Twere profanation of our joys
To tell the laity our love.

Moving of the earth brings harms and fears;
Men reckon what it did and meant:
But trepidation of the spheres,
Though greater far, is innocent.

Dull sublunary lover’s love
(Whose soul is sense) cannot admit
Absence, because it doth remove
Those things which elemented it.

But we, by a love so much refin’d
That our selves know not what it is,
Inter-assured of the mind,
Care less, eyes, lips, and hands to miss.

Our two souls therefore, which are one,
Though I must go, endure not yet
A breach, but an expansion,
Like gold to airy thinness beat.

If they be two, they are two so
As stiff twin compasses are two:
Thy soul, the fix’d foot, makes no show
To move, but doth, if the other do;

And though it in the centre sit,
Yet when the other far doth roam,
It leans, and hearkens after it,
And grows erect, as that comes home.

Such wilt thou be to me, who must,
Like the other foot, obliquely run:
Thy firmness makes my circle just,
And makes me end where I begun.

-John Donne