By Frenchman Joachim du Bellay, written around 1558. The first verse might have been an inspiration for Ozymondius.
You, who behold in wonder Rome and all
Her former passion, menacing the gods,
These ancient palaces and baths, the sods
Of seven hills, and temple, arch, and wall,
Consider in the ruins of her fall,
That which destroying Time has gnawed away–
What workmen built with labor day by day
Only a few worn fragments now recall.
Then look again and see where, endlessly
Treading upon her own antiquity,
Rome has rebuilt herself with works as just:
There you may see the demon of the land
Forcing himself again with fatal hand
To raise the city from this ruined dust.
Anonymous 9th Century Viking war chant. . . I think.
An old green witch
stands in a ditch.
Your hand will hurt
If you touch her skirt.
Anonymous from 12th century Korea.
Watching alone by the ancient city wall,
Thinking of one who was too beautiful,
What did I see? What did I hear?
Moonlight, quivering over empty courtyards,
A voice calling out of the midnight shadows.
One name, her name, echoes across the silence.
Light feet, her feet, in shoes of peacock feathers,
Dance through the empty halls. Will they never rest?
Thinking of joys that ended and sorrows which never end
I find my white robe spangled with tears for her.
A little anonymous ditty from 16th century Vietnam.
Girls, don’t ever marry students!
Their long backs require great swaths of cloth.
Well-fed, they rest their lazy bones.
In freezing winter weather
while you transplant rice for thirty-six coppers
they read books by the fire,
waiting to eat your earnings.
In honor of seeing Federico Garcia Lorca’s The House of Bernarda Alba last week, here’s one of his little ditties, of which there must be thousands.
pregnant with rainbows
shatters its mirrors
over the grove.
Ki no Tsurayuki, 10th century Japan.
Out in the marsh reeds
A bird cries out in sorrow
As though it had recalled
Something better forgotten.
Palladas, a relatively ancient Greek, wrote this in the early fifth century.
Whose baggage from land to land is despair,
Life’s voyages sail a treacherous sea.
Many founder piteously
With fortune at the helm. We keep
A course this way and that, across the deep,
From here to nowhere. And back again.
Blow foul, blow fair
All come to anchor finally in the tomb.
Passengers armed, we travel from room to room.