“To a Young Lady, With Some Lampreys” by John Gay (1685 – 1732)


“To a Young Lady, With Some Lampreys”

With lovers, ’twas of old the fashion
By presents to convey their passion;
No matter what the gift they sent,
The Lady saw that love was meant. 
Fair Atalanta, as a favour, 
Took the boar’s head her Hero gave her; 
Nor could the bristly thing affront her, 
’Twas a fit present from a hunter. 
When Squires send woodcocks to the dame, 
It serves to show their absent flame: 
Some by a snip of woven hair, 
In posied lockets bribe the fair; 
How many mercenary matches 
Have sprung from Di’mond-rings and watches! 
But hold – a ring, a watch, a locket,
Would drain at once a Poet’s pocket; 
He should send songs that cost him nought, 
Nor ev’n he prodigal of thought. 
Why then send Lampreys? fye, for shame! 
’Twill set a virgin’s blood on flame. 
This to fifteen a proper gift! 
It might lend sixty five a lift. 
I know your maiden Aunt will scold,
And think my present somewhat bold. 
I see her lift her hands and eyes. 
‘What eat it, Niece? eat Spanish flies! 
‘Lamprey’s a most immodest diet: 
‘You’ll neither wake nor sleep in quiet. 
‘Should I to night eat Sago cream, 
‘’Twould make me blush to tell my dream;
‘If I eat Lobster, ’tis so warming, 
‘That ev’ry man I see looks charming; 
‘Wherefore had not the filthy fellow 
‘Laid Rochester upon your pillow? 
‘I vow and swear, I think the present 
‘Had been as modest and as decent. 
‘Who has her virtue in her power? 
‘Each day has its unguarded hour;
‘Always in danger of undoing, 
‘A prawn, a shrimp may prove our ruin! 
‘The shepherdess, who lives on salad, 
‘To cool her youth, controuls her palate; 
‘Should Dian’s maids turn liqu’rish livers, 
‘And of huge lampreys rob the rivers, 
‘Then all beside each glade and Visto, 
‘You’d see Nymphs lying like Calisto.
‘The man who meant to heat your blood, 
‘Needs not himself such vicious food –’ 
In this, I own, your Aunt is clear, 
I sent you what I well might spare: 
For when I see you, (without joking) 
Your eyes, lips, breasts, are so provoking, 
They set my heart more cock-a-hoop, 
Than could whole seas of craw-fish soupe.

 

“Smothered Fires” by Georgia Douglas Johnson (1880 – 1966)


"Smothered Fires"
A woman with a burning flame
   Deep covered through the years
With ashes.  Ah! she hid it deep,
   And smothered it with tears.
Sometimes a baleful light would rise
   From out the dusky bed,
And then the woman hushed it quick
   To slumber on, as dead.
At last the weary war was done
   The tapers were alight,
And with a sigh of victory
   She breathed a soft—good-night!
Source: The Heart of a Woman and Other Poems (The Cornhill Company, 1918)

“The Measure” by Georgia Douglas Johnson (1880 – 1966)


“The Measure”

Fierce is the conflict—the battle of eyes,
Sure and unerring, the wordless replies,
Challenges flash from their ambushing caves—
Men, by their glances, are masters or slaves.
Source: The Heart of a Woman and Other Poems (The Cornhill Company, 1918)

“Common Dust” by Georgia Douglas Johnson (1880 – 1966)


Common Dust

And who shall separate the dust
What later we shall be:
Whose keen discerning eye will scan
And solve the mystery?
The high, the low, the rich, the poor,
The black, the white, the red,
And all the chromatique between,
Of whom shall it be said:
Here lies the dust of Africa;
Here are the sons of Rome;
Here lies the one unlabelled,
The world at large his home!
Can one then separate the dust?
Will mankind lie apart,
When life has settled back again
The same as from the start?

“Black Woman” by Georgia Douglas Johnson (1880 – 1966)


“Black Woman”

Georgia Douglas Johnson1880 – 1966

Don’t knock at the door, little child,
     I cannot let you in,
You know not what a world this is
     Of cruelty and sin.
Wait in the still eternity
     Until I come to you,
The world is cruel, cruel, child,
     I cannot let you in!

Don’t knock at my heart, little one,
     I cannot bear the pain
Of turning deaf-ear to your call
     Time and time again!
You do not know the monster men
     Inhabiting the earth,
Be still, be still, my precious child,
     I must not give you birth!

“Foredoom” by Georgia Douglas Johnson (1880 – 1966)


“Foredoom”

Her life was dwarfed, and wed to blight,
Her very days were shades of night,
Her every dream was born entombed,
Her soul, a bud,—that never bloomed.
Source: The Heart of a Woman and Other Poems (The Cornhill Company, 1918)

“Rule Britannia” by James Thomson (1700 – 1748)


“Rule Britannia”

When Britain first, at heaven’s command,
    Arose from out the azure main,
This was the charter of the land,
    And guardian angels sung this strain—
       “Rule, Britannia, rule the waves;
       Britons never will be slaves.”
The nations, not so blest as thee,
    Must in their turns to tyrants fall;
While thou shalt flourish great and free,
    The dread and envy of them all.
       “Rule, Britannia, rule the waves;
       Britons never will be slaves.”
Still more majestic shalt thou rise,
    More dreadful from each foreign stroke;
As the loud blast that tears the skies
    Serves but to root thy native oak.
       “Rule, Britannia, rule the waves;
       Britons never will be slaves.”
Thee haughty tyrants ne’er shall tame;
    All their attempts to bend thee down,
Will but arouse thy generous flame,
    But work their woe and thy renown.
       “Rule, Britannia, rule the waves;
       Britons never will be slaves.”
To thee belongs the rural reign;
    Thy cities shall with commerce shine;
All thine shall be the subject main,
    And every shore it circles thine.
       “Rule, Britannia, rule the waves;
       Britons never will be slaves.”
The Muses, still with freedom found,
    Shall to thy happy coast repair:
Blest isle! with matchless beauty crowned,
    And manly hearts to guard the fair.
       “Rule, Britannia, rule the waves;
       Britons never will be slaves.”
Source: The Longman Anthology of Poetry (2006)