Tag Archives: Poetry

2018: memo for labor

memo for labor you cannot separate the job from the house from the rent from the earth from the food from the healthcare from the water from the transit from the war from the schools from the prisons from the … Continue reading

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1559: Not Man, Not Woman, Not Androgyne

This mysterious Latin inscription appears to be an epitaph composed in the 16th century by someone named or calling himself Lucio Agatho Priscius; the deceased was named Aelia Laelia Crispis. DM Aelia Laelia Crispis Nec vir nec mulier nec androgyna … Continue reading

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1956: The Hound of Heaven

In 1893, English poet Francis Thompson published a poem called “The Hound of Heaven.” The work is an extended metaphor: as a hound pursues a hare in a hunt, so does God pursue the human soul to restore it to … Continue reading

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1784: Whimsical Associations

From Paul Fussell’s Poetic Meter and Poetic Form (1965): “In ‘The Poplar Field’ …William Cowper…unwittingly allows the whimsical associations of triple meter to work against him.” The poplars are felled, farewell to the shade And the whispering sound of the … Continue reading

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1899: O ye whales and all that move on the waters bless ye the Lord

Edward Arthur Fellowes Prynne: O ye whales and all that move on the waters bless ye the Lord (1899); from the Prayer of Azariah, a passage that appears in the book of Daniel in some versions of the Christian Bible: … Continue reading

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1828: Sala Dante

Joseph Anton Koch’s frescos of Dante’s Inferno (1825-28) decorate the Sala Dante in the Casino Massimo, a Roman Villa. Several scenes from the poem are illustrated here, including Dante and Virgil’s ride on the monster Geryon (upper right) and Count … Continue reading

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1750 BC: Let Man Bear the Load of the Gods!

In one of the oldest surviving creation myths, humankind originates from a labor action. The story, told in the Babylonian Atrahasis Epic, goes like this: long before humankind, only gods exist, with some more powerful than others. These greater gods—the … Continue reading

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1964: Oh, My Mangled Head!

In his book Alice in Many Tongues (1964), Warren Weaver spends the last chapter using a curious method to evaluate various translations of Alice in Wonderland. He takes the same passage from each translation—a portion of the Mad Tea-Party—and asks … Continue reading

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1946: First They Came

Although this is one of the world’s most famous poems, there is no definitive version of it. Indeed, there is no clear evidence that its author, the Lutheran pastor Martin Niemöller, ever put it into poetic form. Several variations exist, … Continue reading

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1871: Wasp in a Wig

In 1870, illustrator John Tenniel wrote to Lewis Carroll suggesting that he delete an episode from Through the Looking-Glass: Don’t think me brutal, but I am bound to say that the ‘wasp’ chapter doesn’t interest me in the least, & … Continue reading

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