Saturday, October 31, 2015


Listen to:

Lenore (2:32)

by Edgar Allan Poe

performed by Bob Gonzalez, rhapsode

Ah, broken is the golden bowl! the spirit flown forever!
Let the bell toll!—a saintly soul floats on the Stygian river.
And, Guy de Vere, hast thou no tear?—weep now or never more!
See! on yon drear and rigid bier low lies thy love, Lenore!
Come! let the burial rite be read—the funeral song be sung!—
An anthem for the queenliest dead that ever died so young—
A dirge for her, the doubly dead in that she died so young.

"Wretches! ye loved her for her wealth and hated her for her pride,
And when she fell in feeble health, ye blessed her—that she died!
How shall the ritual, then, be read?—the requiem how be sung
By you—by yours, the evil eye,—by yours, the slanderous tongue
That did to death the innocence that died, and died so young?"

Peccavimus; but rave not thus! and let a Sabbath song
Go up to God so solemnly the dead may feel no wrong!
The sweet Lenore hath "gone before," with Hope, that flew beside,
Leaving thee wild for the dear child that should have been thy bride—
For her, the fair and débonnaire, that now so lowly lies,
The life upon her yellow hair but not within her eyes—
The life still there, upon her hair—the death upon her eyes.

"Avaunt! to-night my heart is light. No dirge will I upraise,
But waft the angel on her flight with a pæan of old days!
Let no bell toll!—lest her sweet soul, amid its hallowed mirth,
Should catch the note, as it doth float up from the damned Earth.
To friends above, from fiends below, the indignant ghost is riven—
From Hell unto a high estate far up within the Heaven—

From grief and groan to a golden throne beside the King of Heaven."

Friday, October 30, 2015

The Sleeper

Listen to:

The Sleeper (3:22)

by Edgar Allan Poe

performed by Bob Gonzalez, rhapsode

At midnight, in the month of June,
I stand beneath the mystic moon.
An opiate vapor, dewy, dim,
Exhales from out her golden rim,
And softly dripping, drop by drop,
Upon the quiet mountain top,
Steals drowsily and musically
Into the universal valley.
The rosemary nods upon the grave;
The lily lolls upon the wave;
Wrapping the fog about its breast,
The ruin moulders into rest;
Looking like Lethe, see! the lake
A conscious slumber seems to take,
And would not, for the world, awake.
All Beauty sleeps!—and lo! where lies
Irene, with her Destinies!

Oh, lady bright! can it be right—
This window open to the night?
The wanton airs, from the tree-top,
Laughingly through the lattice drop—
The bodiless airs, a wizard rout,
Flit through thy chamber in and out,
And wave the curtain canopy
So fitfully—so fearfully—
Above the closed and fringéd lid
’Neath which thy slumb’ring soul lies hid,
That, o’er the floor and down the wall,
Like ghosts the shadows rise and fall!
Oh, lady dear, hast thou no fear?
Why and what art thou dreaming here?
Sure thou art come o’er far-off seas,
A wonder to these garden trees!
Strange is thy pallor! strange thy dress!
Strange, above all, thy length of tress,
And this all solemn silentness!

The lady sleeps! Oh, may her sleep,
Which is enduring, so be deep!
Heaven have her in its sacred keep!
This chamber changed for one more holy,
This bed for one more melancholy,
I pray to God that she may lie
Forever with unopened eye,
While the pale sheeted ghosts go by!

My love, she sleeps! Oh, may her sleep,
As it is lasting, so be deep!
Soft may the worms about her creep!
Far in the forest, dim and old,
For her may some tall vault unfold—
Some vault that oft hath flung its black
And wingéd pannels fluttering back,
Triumphant, o’er the crested palls
Of her grand family funerals—

Some sepulchre, remote, alone,
Against whose portals she hath thrown,
In childhood, many an idle stone—
Some tomb from out whose sounding door
She ne’er shall force an echo more,
Thrilling to think, poor child of sin!

It was the dead who groaned within.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

The Haunted Palace

Listen to:

The Haunted Palace (2:16)

by Edgar Allan Poe

performed by Bob Gonzalez, rhapsode

In the greenest of our valleys 
By good angels tenanted,
Once a fair and stately palace—
Radiant palace—reared its head.
In the monarch Thought's dominion—
It stood there!
Never seraph spread a pinion 
Over fabric half so fair!

Banners yellow, glorious, golden,
On its roof did float and flow,
(This—all this—was in the olden 
Time long ago),
And every gentle air that dallied,
In that sweet day,
Along the ramparts plumed and pallid, 
A winged odor went away. 

Wanderers in that happy valley,
Through two luminous windows, saw
Spirits moving musically, 
To a lute's well-tunëd law,
Bound about a throne where, sitting
In state his glory well befitting,
The ruler of the realm was seen. 

And all with pearl and ruby glowing 
Was the fair palace door,
Through which came flowing, flowing, flowing, 
And sparkling evermore,
A troop of Echoes, whose sweet duty
Was but to sing,
In voices of surpassing beauty,
The wit and wisdom of their king. 

But evil things, in robes of sorrow,
Assailed the monarch's high estate.
(Ah, let us mourn!—for never morrow 
Shall dawn upon him desolate !)
And round about his home the glory
That blushed and bloomed,
Is but a dim-remembered story 
Of the old time entombed. 

And travellers, now, within that valley,
Through the red-litten windows see
Vast forms, that move fantastically
To a discordant melody,
While, like a ghastly rapid river,
Through the pale door
A hideous throng rush out forever
And laugh—but smile no more.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

The Glories of Our Blood and State

Listen to:

The Glories of Our Blood and State (1:16)

by James Shirley

performed by Bob Gonzalez, rhapsode

The glories of our blood and state
    Are shadows, not substantial things;
There is no armour against fate;
    Death lays his icy hand on kings:
        Sceptre and Crown        
        Must tumble down,
And in the dust be equal made
With the poor crooked scythe and spade.

Some men with swords may reap the field,
    And plant fresh laurels where they kill:        
But their strong nerves at last must yield;
    They tame but one another still:
        Early or late
        They stoop to fate,
And must give up their murmuring breath        
When they, pale captives, creep to death.

The garlands wither on your brow;
    Then boast no more your mighty deeds;
Upon Death’s purple altar now
    See where the victor-victim bleeds:        
        Your heads must come
        To the cold tomb;
Only the actions of the just
Smell sweet, and blossom in their dust.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

On a Fly Drinking Out of His Cup

Listen to:

On a Fly Drinking Out of His Cup (:40)

by William Oldys

performed by Bob Gonzalez, rhapsode

Busy, curious, thirsty fly!  
Drink with me and drink as I:  
Freely welcome to my cup,  
Couldst thou sip and sip it up:  
Make the most of life you may,          
Life is short and wears away.  

Both alike are mine and thine  
Hastening quick to their decline:  
Thine 's a summer, mine 's no more,  
Though repeated to threescore.  
Threescore summers, when they're gone,  

Will appear as short as one!

Monday, October 26, 2015

To a Dog

Listen to:

To a Dog (1:00)

by John Jay Chapman

performed by Bob Gonzalez, rhapsode

Past happiness dissolves. It fades away, 
Ghost-like, in that dim attic of the mind 
To which the dreams of childhood are consigned. 
Here, withered garlands hang in slow decay, 
And trophies glimmer in the dying ray 
Of stars that once with heavenly glory shined. 
But you, old friend, are you still left behind 
To tell the nearness of life's yesterday? 
Ah, boon companion of my vanished boy, 
For you he lives; in every sylvan walk 
He waits; and you expect him everywhere. 
How would you stir, what cries, what bounds of joy, 
If but his voice were heard in casual talk, 
If but his footstep sounded on the stair! 

Sunday, October 25, 2015

The First Kiss of Love

Listen to:

The First Kiss of Love (2:04)

by George Gordon, Lord Byron

performed by Bob Gonzalez, rhapsode

Away with your fictions of flimsy romance,
     Those tissues of falsehood which Folly has wove;
Give me the mild beam of the soul-breathing glance,
     Or the rapture which dwells on the first kiss of love.

Ye rhymers, whose bosoms with fantasy glow,
     Whose pastoral passions are made for the grove;
From what blest inspiration your sonnets would flow,
     Could you ever have tasted the first kiss of love.

If Apollo should e'er his assistance refuse,
     Or the Nine be dispos'd from your service to rove,
Invoke them no more, bid adieu to the Muse,
     And try the effect, of the first kiss of love.

I hate you, ye cold compositions of art,
     Though prudes may condemn me, and bigots reprove;
I court the effusions that spring from the heart,
     Which throbs, with delight, to the first kiss of love.

Your shepherds, your flocks, those fantastical themes,
     Perhaps may amuse, yet they never can move:
Arcadia displays but a region of dreams;
     What are visions like these, to the first kiss of love?

Oh! cease to affirm that man, since his birth,
     From Adam, till now, has with wretchedness strove;
Some portion of Paradise still is on earth,
     And Eden revives, in the first kiss of love.

When age chills the blood, when our pleasures are past—
     For years fleet away with the wings of the dove—
The dearest remembrance will still be the last,

     Our sweetest memorial, the first kiss of love.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

The Vagabond

Listen to:

The Vagabond (1:22)

by Robert Louis Stevenson

performed by Bob Gonzalez, rhapsode

Give to me the life I love,
Let the lave go by me,
Give the jolly heaven above
And the byway nigh me.
Bed in the bush with stars to see,
Bread I dip in the river -
There's the life for a man like me,
There's the life for ever.

Let the blow fall soon or late,
Let what will be o'er me;
Give the face of earth around
And the road before me.
Wealth I seek not, hope nor love,
Nor a friend to know me;
All I seek, the heaven above
And the road below me.

Or let autumn fall on me
Where afield I linger,
Silencing the bird on tree,
Biting the blue finger.
White as meal the frosty field -
Warm the fireside haven -
Not to autumn will I yield,
Not to winter even!

Let the blow fall soon or late,
Let what will be o'er me;
Give the face of earth around,
And the road before me.
Wealth I ask not, hope nor love,
Nor a friend to know me;
All I ask, the heaven above

And the road below me.

Friday, October 23, 2015

The Song Against Songs

Listen to:

The Song Against Songs (1:34)

by G. K. Chesterton

performed by Bob Gonzalez, rhapsode

THE song of the sorrow of Melisande is a weary song and a dreary song,
The glory of Mariana's grange had got into great decay,
The song of the Raven Never More has never been called a cheery song,
And the brightest things in Baudelaire are anything else but gay.

But who will write us a riding song,
Or a hunting song or a drinking song,
Fit for them that arose and rode
When day and the wine were red?
But bring me a quart of claret out,
And I will write you a clinking song,
A song of war and a song of wine
And a song to wake the dead.

The song of the fury of Fragolette is a florid song and a torrid song,
The song of the sorrow of Tara is sung to a harp unstrung,
The song of the cheerful Shropshire Lad I consider a perfectly horrid song,
And the song of the happy Futurist is a song that can't be sung.

But who will write us a riding song
Or a fighting song or a drinking song,
Fit for the fathers of you and me,
That knew how to think and thrive?
But the song of Beauty and Art and Love
Is simply an utterly stinking song,
To double you up and drag you down
And damn your soul alive.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Simplex Munditiis

Listen to:

Simplex Munditiis (:47)

by Ben Jonson

performed by Bob Gonzalez, rhapsode

Still to be neat, still to be drest,  
As you were going to a feast;  
Still to be powder'd, still perfumed:  
Lady, it is to be presumed,  
Though art's hid causes are not found,          
All is not sweet, all is not sound.  

Give me a look, give me a face  
That makes simplicity a grace;  
Robes loosely flowing, hair as free:  
Such sweet neglect more taketh me  
Than all th' adulteries of art;  
They strike mine eyes, but not my heart.  

Wednesday, October 21, 2015


Listen to:

Petals (:50)

by Amy Lowell

performed by Bob Gonzalez, rhapsode

          Life is a stream
          On which we strew
          Petal by petal the flower of our heart;
          The end lost in dream,
          They float past our view,
          We only watch their glad, early start.

          Freighted with hope,
          Crimsoned with joy,
          We scatter the leaves of our opening rose;
          Their widening scope,
          Their distant employ,
          We never shall know.  And the stream as it flows
          Sweeps them away,
          Each one is gone
          Ever beyond into infinite ways.
          We alone stay
          While years hurry on,
          The flower fared forth, though its fragrance still stays.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

The Lovers

Listen to:

The Lovers (:50)

by Emily Dickinson

performed by Bob Gonzalez, rhapsode

The rose did caper on her cheek,
Her bodice rose and fell,
Her pretty speech, like drunken men,
Did stagger pitiful.

Her fingers fumbled at her work, —
Her needle would not go;
What ailed so smart a little maid
It puzzled me to know,

Till opposite I spied a cheek
That bore another rose;
Just opposite, another speech
That like the drunkard goes;

A vest that, like the bodice, danced
To the immortal tune, —
Till those two troubled little clocks

Ticked softly into one.

Monday, October 19, 2015

The Fiddler of Dooney

Listen to:

The Fiddler of Dooney (:56)

by William Butler Yeats

performed by Bob Gonzalez, rhapsode

When I play on my fiddle in Dooney,  
Folk dance like a wave of the sea;  
My cousin is priest in Kilvarnet,  
My brother in Moharabuiee.  
I passed my brother and cousin:          
They read in their books of prayer;  
I read in my book of songs  
I bought at the Sligo fair.  
When we come at the end of time,  
To Peter sitting in state,  
He will smile on the three old spirits,  
But call me first through the gate;  
For the good are always the merry,  
Save by an evil chance,  
And the merry love the fiddle  
And the merry love to dance:  
And when the folk there spy me,  
They will all come up to me,  
With ‘Here is the fiddler of Dooney!’  
And dance like a wave of the sea.  

Sunday, October 18, 2015

The 90th Psalm, Versified

Listen to:

The 90th Psalm, Versified (1:24)

by Robert Burns

performed by Bob Gonzalez, rhapsode

The First Six Verses Of The Ninetieth Psalm Versified
by Robert Burns

O Thou, the first, the greatest friend 
Of all the human race! 
Whose strong right hand has ever been 
Their stay and dwelling place! 

Before the mountains heav'd their heads 
Beneath Thy forming hand, 
Before this ponderous globe itself 
Arose at Thy command; 

That Pow'r which rais'd and still upholds 
This universal frame, 
From countless, unbeginning time 
Was ever still the same. 

Those mighty periods of years 
Which seem to us so vast, 
Appear no more before Thy sight 
Than yesterday that's past. 

Thou giv'st the word: Thy creature, man, 
Is to existence brought; 
Again Thou say'st, "Ye sons of men, 
Return ye into nought!" 

Thou layest them, with all their cares, 
In everlasting sleep; 
As with a flood Thou tak'st them off 
With overwhelming sweep. 

They flourish like the morning flow'r, 
In beauty's pride array'd; 
But long ere night cut down it lies 
All wither'd and decay'd.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

The Flea

Listen to:

The Flea (1:48)

performed by Bob Gonzalez, rhapsode

Mark but this flea, and mark    in this,
How little that which thou deniest me is ;
It suck'd me first, and now sucks thee, 
And in this flea our two bloods mingled be.
Thou know'st that this cannot be said
A sin, nor shame, nor loss of maidenhead ;
    Yet this enjoys before it woo,
    And pamper'd swells with one blood made of two ;
    And this, alas ! is more than we would do.

O stay, three lives in one flea spare,
Where we almost, yea, more than married are.
This flea is you and I, and this
Our marriage bed, and marriage temple is.
Though parents grudge, and you, we're met,
And cloister'd in these living walls of jet.
    Though use make you apt to kill me,
    Let not to that self-murder added be,
    And sacrilege, three sins in killing three.

Cruel and sudden, hast thou since
Purpled thy nail in blood of innocence?
Wherein could this flea guilty be,
Except in that drop which it suck'd from thee?
Yet thou triumph'st, and say'st that thou
Find'st not thyself nor me the weaker now.
'Tis true ; then learn how false fears be ;
Just so much honour, when thou yield'st to me,
Will waste, as this flea's death took life from thee.

Rhapsodize - Reviving the Role of the Rhapsode