Saturday, February 11, 2017

Dirge from Cymbeline


Listen to: 

Dirge from Cymbeline (1:20)

William Shakespeare 

performed by Bob Gonzalez, rhapsode


Fear no more the heat o' the sun,
Nor the furious winter's rages;
Thou thy worldly task hast done,
Home art gone, and ta'en thy wages:
Golden lads and girls all must,
As chimney-sweepers, come to dust.

Fear no more the frown o' the great;
Thou art past the tyrant's stroke;
Care no more to clothe and eat;
To thee the reed is as the oak:
The sceptre, learning, physic, must
All follow this, and come to dust.

Fear no more the lightning flash,
Nor the all-dreaded thunder-stone;
Fear not slander, censure rash;
Thou hast finish'd joy and moan:
All lovers young, all lovers must
Consign to thee, and come to dust.

No exorciser harm thee!
Nor no witchcraft charm thee!
Ghost unlaid forbear thee!
Nothing ill come near thee!
Quiet consummation have;

And renowned be thy grave!            ---  Act 4, scene 2

Monday, February 6, 2017

Sunrise


Listen to: 

Sunrise* (1:21)

Lizette Woodworth Reese  

performed by Bob Gonzalez, rhapsode

The east is yellow as a daffodil.
Three steeples—three stark swarthy arms—are thrust 
Up from the town. The gnarl├Ęd poplars thrill
Down the long street in some keen salty gust— 
Straight from the sea and all the sailing ships—
Turn white, black, white again, with noises sweet 
And swift. Back to the night the last star slips.
High up the air is motionless, a sheet
Of light. The east grows yellower apace,
And trembles: then, once more, and suddenly,
The salt wind blows, and in that moment’s space 
Flame roofs, and poplar-tops, and steeples three; 

From out the mist that wraps the river-ways,
The little boats, like torches, start ablaze. 

* I recorded this poem and posted it on March 11, 2016. Without realizing it, I recorded it again recently and am now posting this version. If you compare the two versions, there are some subtle but interesting differences. In any case, you might have missed the first version and might enjoy this other one. And good poems are worth repeating.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Richard Cory


Listen to:

Richard Cory (1:00)

by Edward Arlington Robinson 

performed by Bob Gonzalez, rhapsode


Whenever Richard Cory went down town, 
We people on the pavement looked at him: 
He was a gentleman from sole to crown, 
Clean favored, and imperially slim.

And he was always quietly arrayed,
And he was always human when he talked;
But still he fluttered pulses when he said, 
"Good-morning," and he glittered when he walked.

And he was rich, — yes, richer than a king, — 
And admirably schooled in every grace:
In fine, we thought that he was everything 
To make us wish that we were in his place.

So on we worked, and waited for the light,
And went without the meat, and cursed the bread; 
And Richard Cory, one calm summer night,

Went home and put a bullet through his head.


Saturday, February 4, 2017

Bacchanalia

Listen to:

Bacchanalia (5:04)

by Matthew Arnold 

performed by Bob Gonzalez, rhapsode

I 
The evening comes, the fields are still. 
The tinkle of the thirsty rill, 
Unheard all day, ascends again; 
Deserted is the half-mown plain, 
Silent the swaths! the ringing wain, 
The mower's cry, the dog's alarms, 
All housed within the sleeping farms! 
The business of the day is done, 
The last belated gleaner gone. 
And from the thyme upon the height, 
And from the elder-blossom white 
And pale dog-roses in the hedge, 
And from the mint-plant in the sedge, 
In puffs of balm the night-air blows 
The perfume which the day forgoes. 
And on the pure horizon far, 
See, pulsing with the first-born star, 
The liquid sky above the hill! 
The evening comes, the fields are still. 

       Loitering and leaping, 
       With saunter, with bounds— 
       Flickering and circling 
       In files and in rounds— 
       Gaily their pine-staff green 
       Tossing in air, 
       Loose o'er their shoulders white 
       Showering their hair— 
       See! the wild Maenads 
       Break from the wood, 
       Youth and Iacchus 
       Maddening their blood. 

       See! through the quiet land 
       Rioting they pass— 
       Fling the fresh heaps about, 
       Trample the grass. 
       Tear from the rifled hedge 
       Garlands, their prize; 
       Fill with their sports the field, 
       Fill with their cries. 

       Shepherd, what ails thee, then? 
       Shepherd, why mute? 
       Forth with thy joyous song! 
       Forth with thy flute! 
       Tempts not the revel blithe? 
       Lure not their cries? 
       Glow not their shoulders smooth? 
       Melt not their eyes? 
       Is not, on cheeks like those, 
       Lovely the flush? 
       —Ah, so the quiet was! 
       So was the hush! 

II 
The epoch ends, the world is still. 
The age has talk'd and work'd its fill— 
The famous orators have shone, 
The famous poets sung and gone, 
The famous men of war have fought, 
The famous speculators thought, 
The famous players, sculptors, wrought, 
The famous painters fill'd their wall, 
The famous critics judged it all. 
The combatants are parted now— 
Uphung the spear, unbent the bow, 
The puissant crown'd, the weak laid low. 
And in the after-silence sweet, 
Now strifes are hush'd, our ears doth meet, 
Ascending pure, the bell-like fame 
Of this or that down-trodden name, 
Delicate spirits, push'd away 
In the hot press of the noon-day. 
And o'er the plain, where the dead age 
Did its now silent warfare wage— 
O'er that wide plain, now wrapt in gloom, 
Where many a splendour finds its tomb, 
Many spent fames and fallen mights— 
The one or two immortal lights 
Rise slowly up into the sky 
To shine there everlastingly, 
Like stars over the bounding hill. 
The epoch ends, the world is still. 

       Thundering and bursting 
       In torrents, in waves— 
       Carolling and shouting 
       Over tombs, amid graves— 
       See! on the cumber'd plain 
       Clearing a stage, 
       Scattering the past about, 
       Comes the new age. 
       Bards make new poems, 
       Thinkers new schools, 
       Statesmen new systems, 
       Critics new rules. 
       All things begin again; 
       Life is their prize; 
       Earth with their deeds they fill, 
       Fill with their cries. 

       Poet, what ails thee, then? 
       Say, why so mute? 
       Forth with thy praising voice! 
       Forth with thy flute! 
       Loiterer! why sittest thou 
       Sunk in thy dream? 
       Tempts not the bright new age? 
       Shines not its stream? 
       Look, ah, what genius, 
       Art, science, wit! 
       Soldiers like Caesar, 
       Statesmen like Pitt! 
       Sculptors like Phidias, 
       Raphaels in shoals, 
       Poets like Shakespeare— 
       Beautiful souls! 
       See, on their glowing cheeks 
       Heavenly the flush! 
       —Ah, so the silence was! 
       So was the hush! 

The world but feels the present's spell, 
The poet feels the past as well; 
Whatever men have done, might do, 

Whatever thought, might think it too.