Infinity

for Beth

Have you tasted the bitterness of tears of despair?
Have you watched the sun sink through such pale, balmless air
that your soul sought its shell like a crab on a beach,
then scuttled inside to be safe, out of reach?

Might I lift you tonight from earth’s wreckage and damage
on these waves gently rising to pay the moon homage?
Or better, perhaps, let me say that I, too,
have dreamed of infinity . . . windswept and blue.

MARSH SONG

These are poems about marshes, bogs, seas, tides, tidal waves and things that get bogged down, submerged, lost at sea, etc. 

Marsh Song
by Michael R. Burch

Here there is only the great sad song of the reeds
and the silent herons, wraithlike in the mist,
and a few drab sunken stones, unblessed
by the sunlight these late sixteen thousand years,
and the beaded dews that drench strange ferns, like tears
collected against an overwhelming sadness.

Translations Dante - Inferno, Canto XXVI

Florence, rejoice! For thou o'er land and sea
So spread'st thy pinions that the fame of thee
Hath reached no less into the depths of Hell.
So noble were the five I found to dwell
Therein -- thy sons -- whence shame accrues to me
And no great praise is thine; but if it be
That truth unveil in dreamings before dawn,
Then is the vengeful hour not far withdrawn
When Prato shall exult within her walls
To see thy suffering. Whate'er befalls,
Let it come soon, since come it must, for later,


Two Sons

I HAVE two sons, wife—
Two, and yet the same;
One his wild way runs, wife,
Bringing us to shame.
The one is bearded, sunburnt, grim, and fights across the sea,
The other is a little child who sits upon your knee.

One is fierce and cold, wife,
As the wayward deep;
Him no arms could hold, wife,
Him no breast could keep.
He has tried our hearts for many a year, not broken them; for he
Is still the sinless little one that sits upon your knee.


Two centuries

Two centuries' winter storms have lashed the changing sands of Falmouth's shore,
Deep-voiced, the winds, swift winged, wild, have echoed there the ocean's roar.
But though the north-east gale unleashed, rage-blind with power, relentless beat,
The sturdy light-house sheds its beam on waves churned white beneath the sleet.
And still when cold and fear are past, and fields are sweet with spring-time showers,
Mystic, the gray age-silent hills breathe out their souls in fair mayflowers.


Transformation

She waited in a rose-hued room;
A wanton-hearted creature she,
But beautiful and bright to see
As some great orchid just in bloom.
Upon wide cushions stretched at ease
She lolled in garments filmy fine,
Which but enhanced each rounded line;
A living picture, framed to please.

A bold electric eye of light
Leered through its ruddy screen of lace
And feasted on her form and face
As some wine-crimsoned roue might.

From wall and niche, nude nymph beguiled
Fair goddess of world-wide fame,


Troopin

(Our Army in the East)



Troopin', troopin', troopin' to the sea:
'Ere's September come again -- the six-year men are free.
O leave the dead be'ind us, for they cannot come away
To where the ship's a-coalin' up that takes us 'ome to-day.
We're goin' 'ome, we're goin' 'ome,
Our ship is at the shore,
An' you must pack your 'aversack,
For we won't come back no more.
Ho, don't you grieve for me,
My lovely Mary-Ann,
For I'll marry you yit on a fourp'ny bit


Twas such a littlelittle boat

107

'Twas such a little—little boat
That toddled down the bay!
'Twas such a gallant—gallant sea
That beckoned it away!

'Twas such a greedy, greedy wave
That licked it from the Coast—
Nor ever guessed the stately sails
My little craft was lost!


True America's Message

OUR manlier spirits hear and will obey
The Word YOU waft Australia o’er the sea—
‘Be true, be brave, be merciful, be free!’
Not you, who, braggart, sent this wan array
Of hell-ships vomiting their Will-to-Slay, 5
These armoured Hates and pallid Envies we,
’Mid rattled mobs and flags hysteric, see
Tarnish the chaste horizon of our Bay:

But YOU we hear, our Comrades of the Cause,
Who face hyæna Mammon in his den: 10
And YOU, who dared your seas of blood to spill


Trinity Sunday

Creator, Saviour, strengthening Guide,
Now on Thy mercy's ocean wide
Far out of sight we seem to glide.

Help us, each hour, with steadier eye
To search the deepening mystery,
The wonders of Thy sea and sky.

The blessed Angels look and long
To praise Thee with a worthier song,
And yet our silence does Thee wrong. -

Along the Church's central space
The sacred weeks, with unfelt pace,
Hath borne us on from grace to grace.

As travellers on some woodland height,


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