To Mistress Margaret Hussey


Merry Margaret   
  As midsummer flower,   
  Gentle as falcon   
  Or hawk of the tower:   
With solace and gladness,
Much mirth and no madness,   
All good and no badness;   
    So joyously,   
    So maidenly,   
    So womanly
    Her demeaning   
    In every thing,   
    Far, far passing   
    That I can indite,   
    Or suffice to write
  Of Merry Margaret   
  As midsummer flower,   
  Gentle as falcon   
  Or hawk of the tower.   
  As patient and still 
  And as full of good will   
  As fair Isaphill,   
  Sweet pomander,   
  Good Cassander;
  Steadfast of thought,   
  Well made, well wrought,   
  Far may be sought,   
  Ere that ye can find   
  So courteous, so kind
  As merry Margaret,   
  This midsummer flower,   
  Gentle as falcon   
  Or hawk of the tower.

John Skelton (more about him here)


Bohemia, by Dorothy Parker

Authors and actors and artists and such
Never know nothing, and never know much.
Sculptors and singers and those of their kidney
Tell their affairs from Seattle to Sydney.
Playwrights and poets and such horses' necks
Start off from anywhere, end up at sex.
Diarists, critics, and similar roe
Never say nothing, and never say no.
People Who Do Things exceed my endurance;
God, for a man that solicits insurance! 

An Honest Description of Myself with a Glass of Whiskey at An Airport, Let Us Say, in Minneapolis, by Czeslaw Milosz

My ears catch less and less of conversations, and my eyes have weakened, though they are still insatiable.

I see their legs in miniskirts, slacks, wavy fabrics.

Peep at each one separately, at their buttocks and thighs, lulled by the imaginings of porn.

Old lecher, it’s time for you to the grave, not to the games and amusements of youth.

But I do what I have always done: compose scenes of this earth under orders from the erotic imagination.

It’s not that I desire these creatures precisely; I desire everything, and they are like a sign of ecstatic union.

It’s not my fault that we are made so, half from disinterested contemplation, half from appetite.

If I should accede one day to Heaven, it must be there as it is here, except that I will be rid of my dull senses and my heavy bones.

Changed into pure seeing, I will absorb, as before, the proportions of human bodies, the color of irises, a Paris street in June at dawn, all of it incomprehensible, incomprehensible the multitude of visible things.

(translated from the Polish by Robert Hass and Czeslaw Milosz)

Sunday, 4 A.M., by Elizabeth Bishop

An endless and flooded
dreamland, lying low,
cross- and wheel-studded
like a tick-tack-toe.

At the right, ancillary,
"Mary" 's close and blue,
Which Mary? Aunt Mary?
Tall Mary Stearns I knew?

The old kitchen knife box,
full of rusty nails,
is at the left. A high vox
humana somewhere wails:

The gray horse needs shoeing!
It's always the same!
What are you doing,
there beyond the frame?

If you're the donor,
you might do too much!
Turn on the light. Turn over.
On the bed a smutch -

black-and-gold gesso
on the altered cloth.
The cat jumps to the window;
in his mouth's a moth.

Dream dream confronting,
now the cupboard's bare.
The cat's gone-a-hunting.
The brook feels for the stair.

The world seldom changes,
but the wet foot dangles
until a bird arranges
two notes at right angles.

- Elizabeth Bishop