Wives

No greater evil can a man endure
Than a bad wife, nor find a greater good
Than one both good and wise; and each man speaks
As judging by the experience of his life.

— Sophocles
translated by E. H. Plumptre

Exclusion

The soul selects her own society,
Then shuts the door;
On her divine majority
Obtrude no more.

Unmoved, she notes the chariot’s pausing
At her low gate;
Unmoved, an emperor is kneeling
Upon her mat.

I’ve known her from an ample nation
Choose one;
Then close the valves of her attention
Like stone.

— Emily Dickinson

Frankness

I tell you true, it is not you I love,
It is not you for whom my spirit pines …
If in my eyes my dream arising shines,
As does above a pallid pool the moon,
And seems in rapture exquisite to swoon,
O do not think that such a brief delight
Can be the bloom matured in this one night;
It is not you, it is not you I love,
I tell you true.

And yet this only night be kind to me.
I am so tired … Caress me tenderly,
And let me dream another love than you.
Your care is sweet, my heart is sad and riven.
Fain would it give what unto it is given,
I tell you true.

— Pierre Lièvre (1882-1939)
translated by Jethro Bithell

Time on a Stool

I did my time
sitting on uncomfortable stools
in smoky coffee bars
playing guitar
and doing
enthusiastic covers

for money in the jar
and all the cheap wine
I could drink.

I regularly practised
new chords
some even minor
to make myself more popular
money never an issue
only acceptance

I loved it all

elated
depressed
but always alive
and hoping desperately
for an encore

but one night
after too many cheap wines
and a couple of joints
I realised that
I would never be anything
but a second-rate

passer of people’s time

— John Irvine

Love’s Philosophy

The Fountains mingle with the Rivers
And the Rivers with the Oceans,
The winds of Heaven mix forever
With a sweet emotion;
Nothing in the world is single;
All things by a law divine
In one spirit meet and mingle.
Why not I with thine? —

— Percy Bysshe Shelley

Undying Love

O Love, in every battle victor owned;
Now on a maiden’s soft and blooming cheek,
In secret ambush hid;
Now o’er the broad sea wandering at will,
And now in shepherd’s folds;
Of all the Undying Ones none ‘scape from thee,
Nor yet of mortal men
Whose lives are measured as a fleeting day;
And who has thee is frenzied in his soul.

— Sophocles
translated by E. H. Plumptre

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