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Fear No More the Heat o’ the Sun

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 renownèd be thy grave!

 

William Shakespeare

A Famous Sijo From Ancient Korea

Could the thousand branches of a green willow capture the fleeting springtime wind?

What can bees and butterfly do to prevent the flowers they love from withering?

No how matter how deep my love is, how can I stop you from going?

Yi Won-ik (이원익, 李元翼; 오리, 梧里) (1547-1634)

Telephone Conversation

The price seemed reasonable, location

indifferent. The landlay swore she lived

off premises. Nothing remained

but self-confession. ‘Madam,’ I warned,

‘I hate a wasted journey – I am African.’

Silence. Silenced transmission of

pressurized good-breeding. Voice, when it came,

lipstick coated, long gold-rolled

cigarette-holder pipped. Caught I was, foully.

‘HOW DARK?’ … I had not misheard… ‘ARE YOU LIGHT

OR VERY DARK?’ Button B. Button A. Stench

of rancid breath of public hide-and-speak.

Red booth. Red pillar-box. Red double-tiered

omnibus squelching tar. It was real! Shamed

by ill-mannered silence, surrender

pushed dumbfoundment to beg simplification.

Considerate she was, varying the emphasis –

‘ARE YOU DARK? OR VERY LIGHT?’ Revelation came.

‘You mean – like plain or milk chocolate?’

Her assent was clinical, crushing in its light

impersonality. Rapidly, wave-length adjusted,

I chose. ‘West African sepia’ – and as afterthought,

‘Down in my passport.’ Silence for spectroscopic

flight of fancy, till truthfulness changed her accent

hard on the mouthpiece. ‘WHAT’S THAT?’ conceding

‘DON’T KNOW WHAT THAT IS.’ ‘Like brunette.’

‘THAT’S DARK, ISN’T IT?’ ‘Not altogether.

Facially, I am brunette, but madam, you should see

the rest of me. Palm of my hand, soles of my feet

are a peroxide blonde. Friction, caused –

foolishly madam – by sitting down, has turned

my bottom raven black – One moment madam!’ – sensing

her receiver rearing on the thunderclap

about my ears – ‘Madam,’ I pleaded, ‘wouldn’t you rather

see for yourself?’

 

Wole Soyinka

Notes from the Delivery Room

Strapped down,
victim in an old comic book,
I have been here before,
this place where pain winces
off the walls
like too bright light.
Bear down a doctor says,
foreman to sweating laborer,
but this work, this forcing
of one life from another
is something that I signed for
at a moment when I would have signed anything.
Babies should grow in fields;
common as beets or turnips
they should be picked and held
root end up, soil spilling
from between their toes—
and how much easier it would be later,
returning them to earth.
Bear up … bear down … the audience
grows restive, and I’m a new magician
who can’t produce the rabbit
from my swollen hat.
She’s crowning, someone says,
but there is no one royal here, 
just me, quite barefoot,
greeting my barefoot child.

 

Linda Pastan

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