The Fair Young Wife by Helen Adam

This is a tale for a night of snow.
It was lived in the north land long ago.
And old man, nearing the end of life,
Took to his arms a fair young wife.

A wife to keep his house in the woods.
His house of echoes and solitudes,
’Mid forests gloomy and unexplored,
Hunting ground of the wolves abhored.

Through miles of forest the wolves ran light.
She heard them running at dead of night.
She heard them running, though far away,
And her heart leapt up like a beast of prey.

“Lie still, my lady, lie still and sleep.
Though the north wind blows and the snow drifts deep.
My timid love, in our curtained bed,
The whine of the wolves you need not dread.”

Hunger, when the north wind blows.
Starving wolves on the winter snows.
When old age sags in a sleep profound,
The rush of the wolves is the only sound.

She dreamt she walked in the forest shade,
Alone, and naked, and unafraid.
The bonds of being dissolved and broke.
Her body she dropped like a cast off cloak.

Her shackled soul to its kindred sped.
In devouring lust with the wolves she fled.
But woke at dawn in a curtained bed.
By an old, grey man, in an airless bed.

She dreamt she walked where the wolf eyes gleam.
And soon she walked, and it was no dream.
She fell on fours from the world of man,
And howled her bliss when the rank beasts ran.

The morning life, and the mid-night life.
The sun and moon of the fair young wife.
The moon in the north land rules the sky.
She prays to it as it rises high.

“Moon in glory, shining so cold.
Oh! moon at my window big and bold.
On fields near the forest the snow lies white,
Will it show our tracks when we run tonight?

For fifty leagues on the frozen snow,
I’ll feel through my fur the north wind blow,
As I run to drink of a bounding flood,
With the mighty pack on its quest for blood.

Strong, free, furious, swift to slay,
But back to his bed by the break of day!
Can I lie down at a husband’s will,
When wild love runs, and my heart cries, Kill!”

“Wife, are you ready to come to bed?”
Her husband calls from the room overhead.
“The lights are out in the distant town.
And I can’t sleep until you lie down.”

Softly panting, she climbs the stair.
The moon lights the bed with a livid glare.
“I’ll draw the curtains, and hug you near.
And we’ll lie hid from the moon, my dear.”

Curtains drawn in the deep of night.
Through smothering velvet no glimmer of light.
He turns to his love, lying warm in the dark.
In her eyes, shining near him, he sees a red spark.

A spark as bright as the break of day.
She tosses him down in ravenous play.
To the edge of the forest ring his cries.
“A beast! A beast! on my body lies!”

The wolf pack howls in the waste of snow.
She howls to answer them long and low.
But she will not run with the wolves tonight
Though the full moon shines with a blinding light.

Behind the curtains her jaws drip red.
She has found her prey in her own dark bed;
The man, who nearing the end of life,
Took to his arms a fair young wife.

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Bad Moon by Claire Askew

The moon must be sick of being in poems –
always gripped by fingers of late honeysuckle,
always filtered in the lake through the jetty’s slats,
always silvering the flicked tails of the koi.
Always a dinner plate or mirror,
always a fingernail clipping, a grin.

The moon must be sick of being in poems.
Always the bright pin in the picture’s corner,
always looking in at the windows of middle class homes.
Always shoved above a bridge in Paris or Venice,
always an eyeball or symbol,
always a radiant woman, a bowl.

It’s also in the splintered windscreen of the crime scene
with its blots of blood. It’s hung over the pig farm,
streaking white across the silo’s cheek
and slanting through the lorry walls in blades.
It’s in every dented can at the landfill pit,
turning the tip to a shoal of dirty fish.

Never the buried skull,
never the gummed plug in the junkie’s sink.
Never the white cat under the truck’s wheel,
never the beached and stinking jellyfish.
Never the gallstone or the pulled tooth, of course.
Nobody wants to read poems about this.

The man in the Moon by James Whitcomb Riley

Said the Raggedy Man on a hot afternoon,
“My!
Sakes!
What a lot o’ mistakes
Some little folks makes on the Man in the Moon!
But people that’s been up to see him like Me,
And calls on him frequent and intimutly,
Might drop a few hints that would interest you
Clean!
Through!
If you wanted ’em to—
Some actual facts that might interest you!
“O the Man in the Moon has a crick in his back;
Whee!
Whimm!
Ain’t you sorry for him?
And a mole on his nose that is purple and black;
And his eyes are so weak that they water and run
If he dares to dream even he looks at the sun,—
So he jes’ dreams of stars, as the doctors advise—
My!
Eyes!
But isn’t he wise—
To jes’ dream of stars, as the doctors advise?
“And the Man in the Moon has a boil on his ear—
Whee!
Whing!
What a singular thing!
I know! but these facts are authentic, my dear,—
There’s a boil on his ear; and a corn on his chin,—
He calls it a dimple—but dimples stick in—
Yet it might be a dimple turned over, you know!
Whang!
Ho!
Why certainly so!—
It might be a dimple turned over, you know:
“And the Man in the Moon has a rheumatic knee,
Gee!
Whizz!
What a pity that is!
And his toes have worked round where his heels ought to be.
So whenever he wants to go North he goes South,
And comes back with the porridge crumbs all round his mouth,
And he brushes them off with a Japanese fan,
Whing!
Whann!
What a marvelous man!
What a very remarkably marvelous man!
“And the Man in the Moon,” sighed the Raggedy Man,
“Gits!
So!
Sullonesome, you know!
Up there by himself since creation began!—
That when I call on him and then come away,
He grabs me and holds me and begs me to stay,—
Till—well, if it wasn’t for Jimmy-cum-Jim,
Dadd!
Limb!
I’d go pardners with him!
Jes’ jump my bob here and be pardners with him!”

Liberty by Edward Thomas

The last light has gone out of the world, except
This moonlight lying on the grass like frost
Beyond the brink of the tall elm’s shadow.
It is as if everything else had slept
Many an age, unforgotten and lost —
The men that were, the things done, long ago,
All I have thought; and but the moon and I
Live yet and here stand idle over a grave
Where all is buried. Both have liberty
To dream what we could do if we were free
To do some thing we had desired long,
The moon and I. There’s none less free than who
Does nothing and has nothing else to do,
Being free only for what is not to his mind,
And nothing is to his mind. If every hour
Like this one passing that I have spent among
The wiser others when I have forgot
To wonder whether I was free or not,
Were piled before me, and not lost behind,
And I could take and carry them away
I should be rich; or if I had the power
To wipe out every one and not again
Regret, I should be rich to be so poor.
And yet I still am half in love with pain,
With what is imperfect, with both tears and mirth,
With things that have an end, with life and earth,
And this moon that leaves me dark within the door.

The Owl and the Pussycat by Edward Lear

I
The Owl and the Pussy-cat went to sea
In a beautiful pea green boat,
They took some honey, and plenty of money,
Wrapped up in a five pound note.
The Owl looked up to the stars above,
And sang to a small guitar,
‘O lovely Pussy! O Pussy my love,
What a beautiful Pussy you are,
You are,
You are!
What a beautiful Pussy you are!’

II
Pussy said to the Owl, ‘You elegant fowl!
How charmingly sweet you sing!
O let us be married! too long we have tarried:
But what shall we do for a ring?’
They sailed away, for a year and a day,
To the land where the Bong-tree grows
And there in a wood a Piggy-wig stood
With a ring at the end of his nose,
His nose,
His nose,
With a ring at the end of his nose.
III
‘Dear pig, are you willing to sell for one shilling
Your ring?’ Said the Piggy, ‘I will.’
So they took it away, and were married next day
By the Turkey who lives on the hill.
They dined on mince, and slices of quince,
Which they ate with a runcible spoon;
And hand in hand, on the edge of the sand,
They danced by the light of the moon,
The moon,
The moon,
They danced by the light of the moon.

The Owl and the Pussycat by Edward Lear

The Owl and the Pussy-cat went to sea
   In a beautiful pea-green boat,
They took some honey, and plenty of money,
   Wrapped up in a five-pound note.
The Owl looked up to the stars above,
   And sang to a small guitar,
“O lovely Pussy! O Pussy, my love,
    What a beautiful Pussy you are,
         You are,
         You are!
What a beautiful Pussy you are!”

 

II
Pussy said to the Owl, “You elegant fowl!
   How charmingly sweet you sing!
O let us be married! too long we have tarried:
   But what shall we do for a ring?”
They sailed away, for a year and a day,
   To the land where the Bong-Tree grows
And there in a wood a Piggy-wig stood
   With a ring at the end of his nose,
             His nose,
             His nose,
   With a ring at the end of his nose.
“Dear Pig, are you willing to sell for one shilling
   Your ring?” Said the Piggy, “I will.”
So they took it away, and were married next day
   By the Turkey who lives on the hill.
They dined on mince, and slices of quince,
   Which they ate with a runcible spoon;
And hand in hand, on the edge of the sand,
   They danced by the light of the moon,
             The moon,
             The moon,
They danced by the light of the moon.