Walden’s Fished Out Perch

King Phillip’s War

The English have contributed much to their own misfortunes, for they first taught the Indians the use of arms. The government of the Massachusetts … upon design to monopolize the whole Indian trade … [gave] liberty … to sell, unto any Indian, guns, swords, powder, and shot. By which means the Indians have been abundantly furnished with great store of arms and ammunition.

Randolph, Report on King Phillip’s War in New England.

 

Concord

by Robert Lowell

Ten thousand Fords are idle here in search
Of a tradition. Over these dry sticks—
The Minute Man, the Irish Catholics,
The ruined bridge and Walden’s fished out perch—
The belfry of the Unitarian Church
Rings out the hanging Jesus. Crucifix,
How can your whited spindling arms transfix
Mammon’s unbridled industry, the lurch
For forms to harness Heraclitus stream!
This Church is Concord—Concord where Thoreau
Named all the birds without a gun to probe
Through darkness to the painted man and bow:
The death-dance of King Philip and his scream
Whose echo girdled this imperfect globe.


Lowell enjoys weaving history into his poetry.   I think he felt it elevated it to a higher standard of literature.  The war of 1676 is not on the minds of American’s these days, but it is an earlier version of the kind of tyranny and proxy wars that plague the world today.  Considered one of the bloodiest and costliest wars per capita ever fought on what would become American soil, it was fought primarily between first nations, with English militias and colonists using it to its advantage to weaken both sides permanently.

King Phillip, also known as Chief Metacom,  was a member of the Wampanoag tribe native to what would become New England. It was a 14 month war that escalated because of the involvement and incursions of colonists that took advantage of the situation.

In the spring of 1676 King Phillip’s alliances had the upper hand and captured Chief Canochet.  He was handed over to the Mohegans who promptly shot, beheaded and quartered him, leaving the Narragnsett without a leader.  But as often happens in war, the tide turned, largely because of the backing of English militias. On August 20, 1676, an English-Indian soldier named John Alderman, shot and killed King Philip at Mount Hope.  King Philip was treated the same as he had treated his enemy.  King Philip’s head was placed on a spike and displayed at Plymouth colony for the next two decades as a warning to those that would resist England’s expansionism.

King Philip’s war resulted in thousands of native American’s death’s, ten’s of thousands wounded or captured and sold into slavery. The war decimated the Narragansett, Wampanoag and many other smaller tribes and for all practical purposes ended resistance in New England, paving the way for colonial expansionism.


A Fish Poem

by Leigh Hunt

Amazing monster! that, for aught I know,
With the first sight of thee didst make our race
For ever stare! O flat and shocking face,
Grimly divided from the breast below!
Thou that on dry land horribly dost go
With a split body and most ridiculous pace,
Prong after prong, disgracer of all grace,
Long-useless-finned, haired, upright, unwet, slow!

O breather of unbreathable, sword-sharp air,
How canst exist? How bear thyself, thou dry
And dreary sloth? WHat particle canst share
Of the only blessed life, the watery?
I sometimes see of ye an actual pair
Go by! linked fin by fin! most odiously.

There Is May In Books Forever

Leigh Hunt – National Portrait Gallery

Now shall I walk or shall I ride? “Ride,” Pleasure said; “Walk” Joy replied.

William Henry Davies

 

May And The Poets

by Leigh Hunt (1784 – 1859)

There is May in books forever;
May will part from Spenser never;
May’s in Milton, May’s in Prior,
May’s in Chaucer, Thomson, Dyer;
May’s in all the Italian books:—
She has old and modern nooks,
Where she sleeps with nymphs and elves,
In happy places they call shelves,
And will rise and dress your rooms
With a drapery thick with blooms.
Come, ye rains, then if ye will,
May’s at home, and with me still;
But come rather, thou, good weather,
And find us in the fields together.
 

 

In May

 
By William Henry Davies
 
 
Yes, I will spend the livelong day
With Nature in this month of May;
And sit beneath the trees, and share
My bread with birds whose homes are there;
While cows lie down to eat, and sheep
Stand to their necks in grass so deep;
While birds do sing with all their might,
As though they felt the earth in flight.
This is the hour I dreamed of, when
I sat surrounded by poor men;
And thought of how the Arab sat
Alone at evening, gazing at
The stars that bubbled in clear skies;
And of young dreamers, when their eyes
Enjoyed methought a precious boon
In the adventures of the Moon
Whose light, behind the Clouds’ dark bars,
Searched for her stolen flocks of stars.
When I, hemmed in by wrecks of men,
Thought of some lonely cottage then
Full of sweet books; and miles of sea,
With passing ships, in front of me;
And having, on the other hand,
A flowery, green, bird-singing land.

Stolen Sweats Are Always Sweeter

leigh-hunt

Leigh Hunt (1784 – 1857)

Stolen sweets are always sweeter,
Stolen kisses much completer,
Stolen looks are nice in chapels,
Stolen, stolen be your apples.

Leigh Hunt

To My Friend, the Indicator

by Charles Lamb

Your easy Essays indicate a flow,
Dear friend, of brain which we may elsewhere seek;
And to their pages I and hundreds owe,
That Wednesday is the sweetest of the week.
Such observation, wit and sense are shown,
We think the days of Bickerstaff return’d;
And that a portion of that oil you own,
In his undying midnight lamp which burn’d.
I would not lightly bruise old Priscian’s head
Or wrong the rules of grammar understood;
But, with the leave of Priscian be it said,
The Indicative is your Potential Mood.
Wit, poet, prose-man, party-man, translator-
H, your best title yet is Indicator.


Jenny Kiss’d Me

by Leigh Hunt

Jenny kiss’d me when we met,
Jumping from the chair she sat in;
Time, you thief, who love to get
Sweets into your list, put that in!
Say I’m weary, say I’m sad,
Say that health and wealth have miss’d me,
Say I’m growing old, but add,
Jenny kiss’d me.

And With Your Tricksome Tune

Crickt Rider

On The Grasshopper and Cricket

by John Keats

The poetry of earth is never dead:
When all the birds are faint with the hot sun,
And hide in cooling trees, a voice will run
From hedge to hedge about the new-mown mead;
That is the Grasshopper’s–he takes the lead
In summer luxury,–he has never done
With his delights; for when tired out with fun
He rests at ease beneath some pleasant weed.

The poetry of earth is ceasing never:
On a lone winter evening, when the frost
Has wrought a silence, from the stove there shrills
The Cricket’s song, in warmth increasing ever,
And seems to one in drowsiness half lost,
The Grasshopper’s among some grassy hills.


August is the peak time in Minnesota for insects of all types.  We don’t have many cicadas singing to us (yet) this summer, an off year for their shrill tunes.  But the cricket chorus has begun to build in the last week and should take us all the way through fall.

Agronomists, gardeners and good observers will take note around now that the green of the folliage on the trees isn’t as green as just a couple weeks ago. The levels of chlorophyll peaked in the leaves in July and is starting to wane, causing leaves to take take on a slightly darker hue. Insects, fungal and bacterial diseases on leaves are also at their peak, further reducing the amount of green in the canopy.  In two short weeks, it will suddenly be September and everything will seemingly change overnight, the lush greens of summer, replaced by a lighter paler and darker green and the start of colors of fall.

I am surprised there aren’t more examples of dueling poems and poets. Two friends, each accomplished writers, who challenge each other to write a poem with the same prompt, the same inspiration.  Maybe there are lots of them and I am not literally aware enough to recognize them (pun intended). Dear reader, if you know of more, please share them with me, I would be fascinated to uncover more examples of dueling poems, particularly dueling sonnets.

Do we need to  declare a victor?  Did Hunt and Keats settle their friendly bet with a round of drinks? Which poem did they privately declare superior? In my opinion Hunt’s is the better sonnet, more imaginative language, clever in its delivery. I particularly like the image Hunt paints of crickets as ‘warm little housekeepers’, a fond way of referring to the inevitable cricket or two who find their way into the basement or wood bin near the fireplace to sing a private serenade as the snows of winter begin.

Hunt’s friendship and writing is often credited in helping Keats become a better poet. Hunt, true to his name, led out and showed Keats the way, and Keats took up the challenge and blossomed as an artist, knowing his time on Earth likely short.


To The Grasshopper and The Cricket

by Leigh Hunt (1784 – 1859)

Green little vaulter in the sunny grass
Catching your heart up at the feel of June,
Sole voice that’s heard amidst the lazy noon,
When ev’n the bees lag at the summoning brass;
And you, warm little housekeeper, who class
With those who think the candles come too soon,
Loving the fire, and with your tricksome tune
Nick the glad silent moments as they pass;
Oh sweet and tiny cousins, that belong,
One to the fields, the other to the hearth,
Both have your sunshine; both though small are strong
At your clear hearts; and both were sent on earth
To sing in thoughtful ears this natural song,–
In doors and out, summer and winter, Mirth.