Saturday, February 23, 2019

Four Songs & A Dance

Down By the Salley Gardens
BY WILLIAM BUTLER YEATS

Down by the salley gardens
my love and I did meet;
She passed the salley gardens
with little snow-white feet.
She bid me take love easy,
as the leaves grow on the tree;
But I, being young and foolish,
with her would not agree.

In a field by the river
my love and I did stand,
And on my leaning shoulder
she laid her snow-white hand.
She bid me take life easy,
as the grass grows on the weirs;
But I was young and foolish,
and now am full of tears.


A Subaltern’s Love Song
By John Betjeman

Miss J. Hunter Dunn, Miss J. Hunter Dunn,
Furnish’d and burnish’d by Aldershot sun,
What strenuous singles we played after tea,
We in the tournament — you against me!
Love-thirty, love-forty, oh! weakness of joy,
The speed of a swallow, the grace of a boy,
With carefullest carelessness, gaily you won,
I am weak from your loveliness, Joan Hunter Dunn.
Miss Joan Hunter Dunn, Miss Joan Hunter Dunn,
How mad I am, sad I am, glad that you won,
The warm-handled racket is back in its press,
But my shock-headed victor, she loves me no less.
Her father’s euonymus shines as we walk,
And swing past the summer-house, buried in talk,
And cool the verandah that welcomes us in
To the six-o’clock news and a lime-juice and gin.
The scent of the conifers, sound of the bath.
The view from my bedroom of moss-dappled path
As I struggle with double-end evening tie,
For we dance at the Golf Club, my victor and I.
On the floor of her bedroom lie blazer and shorts
And the cream-coloured walls are be-trophied with sports,
And westering, questioning settles the sun,
On your low-leaded window, Miss Joan Hunter Dunn.
The Hillman is waiting, the light’s in the hall,
The pictures of Egypt are bright on the wall,
My sweet, I am standing beside the oak stair
And there on the landing’s the light on your hair.
By roads “not adopted”, by woodlanded ways,
She drove to the club in the late summer haze,
Into nine-o’clock Camberley, heavy with bells
And mushroomy, pine-woody, evergreen smells.
Miss Joan Hunter Dunn, Miss Joan Hunter Dunn,
I can hear from the car park the dance has begun,
Oh! Surrey twilight! importunate band!
Oh strongly adorable tennis-girl’s hand!
Around us are Rovers and Austins afar,
Above us the intimate roof of the car,
And here on my right is the girl of my choice,
With the tilt of her nose and the chime of her voice.
And the scent of her wrap, and the words never said,
And the ominous, ominous dancing ahead.
We sat in the car park till twenty to one
And now I’m engaged to Miss Joan Hunter Dunn.

Egyptian dancer at Shubra
By Bernard Spencer

At first we heard the jingling of her ornaments
as she delayed beyond the trap of light,
and glimpsed her lingering pretence
her bare feet and the music were at difference:
and then the strings grew wild and drew her in.

And she came soft as paws and danced desire at play
or triumphing desire, and locked her hands
stretched high, and in the dance’s sway hung
like a body to be flogged; then wrenched away,
or was a wave from breasts down to the knees.

And as the music built to climax and she leaned
naked in her dancing skirt, and was supreme,
her dance’s stormy argument
had timid, workday things for all environment;
men’s awkward clothes and chairs her skin exclaimed against.



The Piano Tuner’s Wife
By Karl Shapiro
That note comes clear, like water running clear, 
Then the next higher note, and up and up
 
And more and more, with now and then a chord,
 
The highest notes like tapping a tile with a hammer,
 
Now and again an arpeggio, a theme
 
As if the keyboard spoke to the one key,
 
Saying, No interval is exactly true,
 
And the note whines slightly and then truly sings.
 

She sits on the sofa reading a book she has brought,
 
A ray of sunlight on her white hair.
 
She is here because he is blind. She drives.
 
It is almost a platitude to say
 
That she leads him from piano to piano.
 
And this continues for about an hour,
 
Building bridges from both sides of the void,
 
Coasting the chasms of the harmonies.
 

And in conclusion,
 
When there is no more audible dissent,
 
He plays his comprehensive keyboard song,
 
The loud proud paradigm,
 
The one work of art without content.

a song in the front yard
BY GWENDOLYN BROOKS

I’ve stayed in the front yard all my life.
I want a peek at the back
Where it’s rough and untended and hungry weed grows.
A girl gets sick of a rose.

I want to go in the back yard now
And maybe down the alley,
To where the charity children play.
I want a good time today.

They do some wonderful things.
They have some wonderful fun.
My mother sneers, but I say it’s fine
How they don’t have to go in at quarter to nine.
My mother, she tells me that Johnnie Mae
Will grow up to be a bad woman.
That George’ll be taken to Jail soon or late
(On account of last winter he sold our back gate).

But I say it’s fine. Honest, I do.
And I’d like to be a bad woman, too,
And wear the brave stockings of night-black lace
And strut down the streets with paint on my face.



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