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A Year of Poetry – Day 230

Captain, or colonel, or knight in arms,
Whose chance on these defenceless doors may seize,
If deed of honour did thee ever please,
Guard them, and him within protect from harms.
He can requite thee, for he knows the charms
That call fame on such gentle acts as these,
And he can spread thy name o’er lands and seas,
Whatever clime the sun’s bright circle warms.
Lift not thy spear against the Muse’s bower;
The great Emathian conqueror bid spare
The house of Pindarus, when temple and tower
Went to the ground; and the repeated air
Of sad Electra’s Poet had the power
To save the Athenian walls from ruin bare.

— John Milton, When The Assault Was Intended To The City

God Speed

“To me, there is no greater calling … If I can inspire young people to dedicate themselves to the good of mankind, I’ve accomplished something.”

— John Glenn, Marine aviator in World War II and Korea, United States Senator, and last of the Mercury astronauts. July 18, 1921 to December 8, 2016

A Year of Poetry – Day 229

How heavy the days are.
There’s not a fire that can warm me,
Not a sun to laugh with me,
Everything bare,
Everything cold and merciless,
And even the beloved, clear
Stars look desolately down,
Since I learned in my heart that
Love can die.

— Hermann Hesse, How Heavy the Days

Thought for the Day

DaddyBear's Den

Tomorrow is the anniversary of Pearl Harbor.  Remember that even after all these years, we still have young men and women far from home to defend us.  Please keep the casualties and survivors of December 7 in your prayers, and also please include those who serve now.

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A Year of Poetry – Day 228

When I was fair and young, then favor graced me.
Of many was I sought their mistress for to be.
But I did scorn them all and answered them therefore:
Go, go, go, seek some other where; importune me no more.
How many weeping eyes I made to pine in woe,
How many sighing hearts I have not skill to show,
But I the prouder grew and still this spake therefore:
Go, go, go, seek some other where, importune me no more.
Then spake fair Venus’ son, that proud victorious boy,
Saying: You dainty dame, for that you be so coy,
I will so pluck your plumes as you shall say no more:
Go, go, go, seek some other where, importune me no more.
As soon as he had said, such change grew in my breast
That neither night nor day I could take any rest.
Wherefore I did repent that I had said before:
Go, go, go, seek some other where, importune me no more.
— Queen Elizabeth I, When I Was Fair and Young

A Year of Poetry – Day 227

But where I found the children naughty,
In manners rude, in temper haughty,
Thankless to parents, liars, swearers,
Boxers, or cheats, or base tale-bearers,

I left a long, black, birchen rod,
Such as the dread command of God
Directs a Parent’s hand to use
When virtue’s path his sons refuse.

— Clement Clark Moore, Old Santeclaus

New Book in the Maxwell Saga

Peter Grant has come out with the next book in his Maxwell Saga, Stoke the Flames Higher.  I was lucky to be a beta reader for the book, and it’s definitely one that will keep you up as you try to find out what happens on the next page.

Here’s the blurb:

Two planets, torn apart by the same fanatics – and Lancastrian forces are caught in the middle!

Major Brooks Shelby must keep the peace, on a world where radical terrorists want submission or death. Lieutenant-Commander Steve Maxwell must trace the source of their fighters and funding, deal with diplomats, and fend off a nosy journalist.

The marines are up against smuggled explosives and suicidal martyrs, while a suborned bureaucracy stymies the investigation. Brooks and Steve must find a way to stop their enemies at all costs, before the fanatics unleash their own version of Armageddon!

Peter does an awesome job of knitting together several storylines that pit his characters against terrorists bent on spreading their ideology across the stars using murder as a vehicle.  He’s created a great universe, and doesn’t have to spend a lot of time explaining it to the reader, so he has plenty of page space to enrich the story and the characters.

One thing that I like about the Maxwell series, as well as its companion “Laredo” books, is that Peter takes space combat away from dog fights in vacuum and actually thinks about how capital ships would be used in future combat.  It forces him to build tension rather than action, and makes the reader consider how terrifying sudden surprises could be when distances are measured in hundreds of thousands of kilometers and speeds are measured in fractions of the speed of light.

If you’re looking for an excellent read for a cold evening in front of the fire, look no further.

A Year of Poetry – Day 226

Drink to me only with thine eyes,
         And I will pledge with mine;
Or leave a kiss but in the cup,
         And I’ll not look for wine.
The thirst that from the soul doth rise
         Doth ask a drink divine;
But might I of Jove’s nectar sup,
         I would not change for thine.
I sent thee late a rosy wreath,
         Not so much honouring thee
As giving it a hope, that there
         It could not withered be.
But thou thereon didst only breathe,
         And sent’st it back to me;
Since when it grows, and smells, I swear,
         Not of itself, but thee.
— Ben Jonson, Song: to Celia

A Year of Poetry – Day 225

All day she stands before her loom;
The flying shuttles come and go:
By grassy fields, and trees in bloom,
She sees the winding river flow:
And fancy’s shuttle flieth wide,
And faster than the waters glide.

Is she entangled in her dreams,
Like that fair-weaver of Shalott,
Who left her mystic mirror’s gleams,
To gaze on light Sir Lancelot?
Her heart, a mirror sadly true,
Brings gloomier visions into view.

“I weave, and weave, the livelong day:
The woof is strong, the warp is good:
I weave, to be my mother’s stay;
I weave, to win my daily food:
But ever as I weave,” saith she,
“The world of women haunteth me.

“The river glides along, one thread
In nature’s mesh, so beautiful!
The stars are woven in; the red
Of sunrise; and the rain-cloud dull.
Each seems a separate wonder wrought;
Each blends with some more wondrous thought.

“So, at the loom of life, we weave
Our separate shreds, that varying fall,
Some strained, some fair: and, passing, leave
To God the gathering up of all,
In that full pattern wherein man
Works blindly out the eternal plan.

“In his vast work, for good or ill,
The undone and the done he blends:
With whatsoever woof we fill,
To our weak hands His might He lends,
And gives the threads beneath His eye
The texture of eternity.

“Wind on, by willow and by pine,
Thou blue, untroubled Merrimack!
Afar, by sunnier streams than thine,
My sisters toil, with foreheads black;
And water with their blood this root,
Whereof we gather bounteous fruit.

“There be sad women, sick and poor:
And those who walk in garments soiled:
Their shame, their sorrow, I endure;
By their defect my hope is foiled:
The blot they bear is on my name;
Who sins, and I am not to blame?

“And how much of your wrong is mine,
Dark women slaving at the South?
Of your stolen grapes I quaff the wine;
The bread you starve for fills my mouth:
The beam unwinds, but every thread
With blood of strangled souls is red.

“If this be so, we win and wear
A Nessus-robe of poisoned cloth;
Or weave them shrouds they may not wear,—
Fathers and brothers falling both
On ghastly, death-sown fields, that lie
Beneath the tearless Southern sky.

“Alas! the weft has lost its white.
It grows a hideous tapestry,
That pictures war’s abhorrent sight:—
Unroll not, web of destiny!
Be the dark volume left unread,—
The tale untold,—the curse unsaid!”

So up and down before her loom
She paces on, and to and fro,
Till sunset fills the dusty room,
And makes the water redly glow,
As if the Merrimack’s calm flood
Were changed into a stream of blood.

Too soon fulfilled, and all too true
The words she murmured as she wrought:
But, weary weaver, not to you
Alone was war’s stern message brought:
“Woman!” it knelled from heart to heart,
“Thy sister’s keeper know thou art!”

— Lucy Larcom, WeavingWeaving

A Year of Poetry – Day 224

Brave comrade, answer! When you joined the war,
What left you? “Wife and children, wealth and friends,
A storied home whose ancient roof-tree bends
Above such thoughts as love tells o’er and o’er.”
Had you no pang or struggle? “Yes; I bore
Such pain on parting as at hell’s gate rends
The entering soul, when from its grasp ascends
The last faint virtue which on earth it wore.”
You loved your home, your kindred, children, wife;
You loathed yet plunged into war’s bloody whirl!—
What urged you? “Duty! Something more than life.
That which made Abraham bare the priestly knife,
And Isaac kneel, or that young Hebrew girl
Who sought her father coming from the strife.”

— George Henry Boker, [Sonnet]

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