Liberty and Edward Thomas

Lady Liberty.

Lady Liberty.

“Liberty” is one of the foundational concepts of the American enterprise, individual liberty in particular.

To the white-collar practitioner (and client), the concept of liberty takes on a special urgency.

Edward Thomas

Edward Thomas

Edward Thomas was born in Lambeth, London, on March 3, 1878. His books include The Woodland Life (1896), In Pursuit of Spring (1914), and Last Poems (1918). Thomas died in World War I at the battle of Arras on April 9, 1917.  “Liberty” was published in Thomas’s book Poems (H. Holt & company, 1917).

Liberty

by Edward Thomas (1878-1917)

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 the 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.


“Compensation” | Paul Laurence Dunbar

On budget, or off?

On budget, or off?

Compensation is a matter dear to lawyers’ hearts, white-collar and otherwise.  Here’s a poem (via www.poets.org) by Paul Laurence Dunbar:

Compensation

Because I had loved so deeply,
Because I had loved so long,
God in His great compassion
Gave me the gift of song.

Because I have loved so vainly,
And sung with such faltering breath,
The Master in infinite mercy
Offers the boon of Death.

Paul Laurence Dunbar was born in Dayton, Ohio, in 1872.

Paul Laurence Dunbar

Paul Laurence Dunbar

He wrote numerous books of poems, including Majors and Minors (1895), as well as several novels and a play. He died in 1906 in Dayton, Ohio.  “Compensation” was originally published in Dunbar’s 1905 collection Lyrics of Sunshine and Shadow.

 

 

 


“Appellate Jurisdiction” | Marianne Moore (1887-1972)

What's the appeal?

What’s the appeal?

For pondering our appeals of all sorts.

 

Appellate Jurisdiction

by

Marianne Moore

Fragments of sin are a part of me.
New brooms shall sweep clean the heart of me.
      Shall they? Shall they?

When this light life shall have passed away,
God shall redeem me, a castaway.
      Shall He? Shall He?

 

About This Poem

“Appellate Jurisdiction” by Marianne Moore was published in the May 1915 issue of Poetry along with four other poems by Moore.

Marianne Moore was born in Saint Louis, Missouri, on November 15, 1887. Moore, a former Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets, was the recipient of the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize. She died in New York City on February 5, 1972.


A Poem Fit For White-Collar Crime: In the City of Night

John Gould Fletcher

John Gould Fletcher (1886-1950)

A poem, In the City of Night, by John Gould Fletcher, that’s fit for white-collar crime:

In the City of Night

by John Gould Fletcher

(To the Memory of Edgar Allan Poe)

City of night,
Wrap me in your folds of shadow.

City of twilight,
City that projects into the west,
City whose columns rest upon the sunset, city of square, threatening 
    masses blocking out the light:
City of twilight,
Wrap me in your folds of shadow.

City of midnight, city that the full moon overflows, city where the cats 
    prowl and the closed iron dust-carts go rattling through the shadows:
City of midnight,
Wrap me in your folds of shadow.

City of early morning, cool fresh-sprinkled city, city whose sharp roof 
    peaks are splintered against the stars, city that unbars tall haggard 
    gates in pity,
City of midnight,
Wrap me in your folds of shadow.

City of rain, city where the bleak wind batters the hard drops once and again, 
    sousing a shivering, cursing beggar who clings amid the stiff Apostles on the 
    cathedral portico;
City where the glare is dull and lowering, city where the clouds flare and flicker 
    as they pass upwards, where sputtering lamps stare into the muddy pools 
    beneath them;
City where the winds shriek up the streets and tear into the squares, city whose 
    cobbles quiver and whose pinnacles waver before the buzzing chatter of raindrops 
    in their flight;
City of midnight,
Drench me with your rain of sorrow.

City of vermilion curtains, city whose windows drip with crimson, tawdry, tinselled, 
    sensual city, throw me pitilessly into your crowds.
City filled with women's faces leering at the passers by,
City with doorways always open, city of silks and swishing laces, city where bands 
    bray dance-music all night in the plaza,
City where the overscented light hangs tepidly, stabbed with jabber of the crowd, 
    city where the stars stare coldly, falsely smiling through the smoke-filled air,
City of midnight,
Smite me with your despair.

City of emptiness, city of the white façades, city where one lonely dangling lantern 
    wavers aloft like a taper before a marble sarcophagus, frightening away the ghosts;
City where a single white-lit window in a motionless blackened house-front swallows 
    the hosts of darkness that stream down the street towards it;
City above whose dark tree-tangled park emerges suddenly, unlit, uncannily, a grey 
    ghostly tower whose base is lost in the fog, and whose summit has no end.
City of midnight,
Bury me in your silence.

City of night,
Wrap me in your folds of shadow.

City of restlessness, city where I have tramped and wandered,
City where the herded crowds glance at me suspiciously, city where the churches are 
    locked, the shops unopened, the houses without hospitality,
City of restlessness,
Wrap me in your folds of shadow.

City of sleeplessness, city of cheap airless rooms, where in the gloom are heard snores 
    through the partition, lovers that struggle, couples that squabble, cabs that rattle, 
    cats that squall,
City of sleeplessness,
Wrap me in your folds of shadow.

City of feverish dreams, city that is being besieged by all the demons of darkness, city of 
    innumerable shadowy vaults and towers, city where passion flowers desperately and 
    treachery ends in death the strong:
City of night,
Wrap me in your folds of shadow.

 

 

 


Crime and T.S. Eliot

Today (September 26th) is the birthday of American-born (but eventually British-subject) poet T.S. Eliot (1888-1965).  He wrote little about crime except Murder in the Cathedral (1935):

Now is my way clear, now is the meaning plain:
Temptation shall not come in this kind again.
The last temptation is the greatest treason:
To do the right deed for the wrong reason.
-Thomas, Part I

And here’s one about a criminal cat, Macavity:

Macavity’s a Mystery Cat: he’s called the Hidden Paw—
For he’s the master criminal who can defy the Law.
He’s the bafflement of Scotland Yard, the Flying Squad’s despair:
For when they reach the scene of crime—Macavity’s not there!

Macavity, Macavity, there’s no one like Macavity,
He’s broken every human law, he breaks the law of gravity.
His powers of levitation would make a fakir stare,
And when you reach the scene of crime—Macavity’s not there!
You may seek him in the basement, you may look up in the air—
But I tell you once and once again, Macavity’s not there!

Macavity’s a ginger cat, he’s very tall and thin;
You would know him if you saw him, for his eyes are sunken in.
His brow is deeply lined with thought, his head is highly domed;
His coat is dusty from neglect, his whiskers are uncombed.
He sways his head from side to side, with movements like a snake;
And when you think he’s half asleep, he’s always wide awake.

Macavity, Macavity, there’s no one like Macavity,
For he’s a fiend in feline shape, a monster of depravity.
You may meet him in a by-street, you may see him in the square—
But when a crime’s discovered, then Macavity’s not there!

He’s outwardly respectable. (They say he cheats at cards.)
And his footprints are not found in any file of Scotland Yard’s
And when the larder’s looted, or the jewel-case is rifled,
Or when the milk is missing, or another Peke’s been stifled,
Or the greenhouse glass is broken, and the trellis past repair
Ay, there’s the wonder of the thing! Macavity’s not there!

And when the Foreign Office find a Treaty’s gone astray,
Or the Admiralty lose some plans and drawings by the way,
There may be a scrap of paper in the hall or on the stair—
But it’s useless to investigate—Macavity’s not there!
And when the loss has been disclosed, the Secret Service say:
It must have been Macavity!’—but he’s a mile away.
You’ll be sure to find him resting, or a-licking of his thumb;
Or engaged in doing complicated long division sums.

Macavity, Macavity, there’s no one like Macavity,
There never was a Cat of such deceitfulness and suavity.
He always has an alibi, and one or two to spare:
At whatever time the deed took place—MACAVITY WASN’T THERE !
And they say that all the Cats whose wicked deeds are widely known
(I might mention Mungojerrie, I might mention Griddlebone)
Are nothing more than agents for the Cat who all the time
Just controls their operations: the Napoleon of Crime!

© T S Eliot. All rights reserved, 82 years ago