Archive for the POETS BIRTHDAYS Category

Happy Belated Birthday Sir Walter Scott!

Posted in Authors Birthdays, Inspiring poetry, POETS BIRTHDAYS with tags , , , , , on August 17, 2011 by echostains

August 15th was  the birthday of Scottish poet, writer and playwright  (15 August 1771 – 21 September 1832). Scott was a 1st Baronet who wrote poems and historical novels.  He has the distinction in being the first english language author to achieve international fame in his own lifetime.  Rob Roy, Ivanhoe and the Lady of the Lake still remain classics I  both  English and Scottish literature.

Sir Walter Scott by Rarburn

Privately educated, the young Scott  loved reading romantic adventure stories, history and travel books.  He began studying the Classics in 1783 at the age of 12 years old, becoming one of the youngest students to do so in Edinburgh University.   Lochinvar was a poem that my late father used to recite to me.  It is suitably romantic and Pre Raphealite enough to appeal to a girl raised on fairy tales!

The Knight Errant by Millias

Here it is read beautifully!

O young Lochinvar is come out of the west,
Through all the wide Border his steed was the best;
And save his good broadsword he weapons had none,
He rode all unarm’d, and he rode all alone.
So faithful in love, and so dauntless in war,
There never was knight like the young Lochinvar.
He staid not for brake, and he stopp’d not for stone,
He swam the Eske river where ford there was none;
But ere he alighted at Netherby gate,
The bride had consented, the gallant came late:
For a laggard in love, and a dastard in war,
Was to wed the fair Ellen of brave Lochinvar.

So boldly he enter’d the Netherby Hall,
Among bride’s-men, and kinsmen, and brothers and all:
Then spoke the bride’s father, his hand on his sword,
(For the poor craven bridegroom said never a word,)
“O come ye in peace here, or come ye in war,
Or to dance at our bridal, young Lord Lochinvar?”

“I long woo’d your daughter, my suit you denied; —
Love swells like the Solway, but ebbs like its tide —
And now I am come, with this lost love of mine,
To lead but one measure, drink one cup of wine.
There are maidens in Scotland more lovely by far,
That would gladly be bride to the young Lochinvar.”

The bride kiss’d the goblet: the knight took it up,
He quaff’d off the wine, and he threw down the cup.
She look’d down to blush, and she look’d up to sigh,
With a smile on her lips and a tear in her eye.
He took her soft hand, ere her mother could bar, —
“Now tread we a measure!” said young Lochinvar.

So stately his form, and so lovely her face,
That never a hall such a gailiard did grace;
While her mother did fret, and her father did fume
And the bridegroom stood dangling his bonnet and plume;
And the bride-maidens whisper’d, “’twere better by far
To have match’d our fair cousin with young Lochinvar.”

One touch to her hand, and one word in her ear,
When they reach’d the hall-door, and the charger stood near;
So light to the croupe the fair lady he swung,
So light to the saddle before her he sprung!
“She is won! we are gone, over bank, bush, and scaur;
They’ll have fleet steeds that follow,” quoth young Lochinvar.

There was mounting ‘mong Graemes of the Netherby clan;
Forsters, Fenwicks, and Musgraves, they rode and they ran:
There was racing and chasing on Cannobie Lee,
But the lost bride of Netherby ne’er did they see.
So daring in love, and so dauntless in war,
Have ye e’er heard of gallant like young Lochinvar?


Thanks to  for the video

Image and more about this interesting poet and novelist here

Poem from Poemhunter

The Knight Errant by Millias image from here

Happy Birthday Emily Bronte!

Posted in Authors Birthdays, Inspiring poetry, POETS BIRTHDAYS with tags , , , , , , , , on July 30, 2011 by echostains

Emily Jane Bronte

Today is the birthday of writer and poet Emily Bronte (b.1818 – 1848 Thornton Yorkshire).  She was the fifth child of Patrick Branwell and Maria  Branwell, parents of the famous Bronte’s of Haworth Yorkshire.  Emily wrote poetry and one novel ‘Wuthering Heights‘ before she died in 1848 after catching cold at her brother Branwell’s funeral, refusing all medical aid until it was too late.  Emily is always depicted as the quiet Bronte, other worldly, spiritual.  But she was also a home body too and pined for her home and the moors when she was sent away to school at Roe Head.

Wuthering Heights has inspired many films

Wuthering Heights, a tale of passion, tragedy and love beyond the grave was published in 1847 and received mixed reviews, but it was become a literary classic.  Much has been written about Emily Bronte the woman and there has been a lot of speculation about this quiet, private and almost mystical author.

Angria artifacts

As children the Bronte’s devised stories and poems about the exploits of their toy soldiers who inhabited an imaginary kingdom called Angria.  When Emily was 13, she and her sister Ann  left Angria and built Gondal – an imaginary island in the South Pacific. They wrote stories about Gondal, but only the Gondal  names and places and some diary papers survive.  Her poems are often described as spiritual and passionate.  The following comes from Poems by Currer, Ellis and Acton Bell in 1846 (Emily is of course ‘Ellis’

How clear She Shines

How clear she shines! How quietly
I lie beneath her guardian light;
While heaven and earth are whispering me,
“To morrow, wake, but dream to-night.”
Yes, Fancy, come, my Fairy love!
These throbbing temples softly kiss;
And bend my lonely couch above,
And bring me rest, and bring me bliss.

The world is going; dark world, adieu!
Grim world, conceal thee till the day;
The heart thou canst not all subdue
Must still resist, if thou delay!

Thy love I will not, will not share;
Thy hatred only wakes a smile;
Thy griefs may wound–thy wrongs may tear,
But, oh, thy lies shall ne’er beguile!
While gazing on the stars that glow
Above me, in that stormless sea,
I long to hope that all the woe
Creation knows, is held in thee!

And this shall be my dream to-night;
I’ll think the heaven of glorious spheres
Is rolling on its course of light
In endless bliss, through endless years;
I’ll think, there’s not one world above,
Far as these straining eyes can see,
Where Wisdom ever laughed at Love,
Or Virtue crouched to Infamy;

Where, writhing ‘neath the strokes of Fate,
The mangled wretch was forced to smile;
To match his patience ‘gainst her hate,
His heart rebellious all the while.
Where Pleasure still will lead to wrong,
And helpless Reason warn in vain;
And Truth is weak, and Treachery strong;
And Joy the surest path to Pain;
And Peace, the lethargy of Grief;
And Hope, a phantom of the soul;
And life, a labour, void and brief;
And Death, the despot of the whole!

The Bronte’s themselves have inspired many books, plays and songs – Wuthering Heights especially. 

Here’s two videos the first inspired by  Emily Bronte’s novel and the second by her poem above:-

More about Emily here and this wonderful site here

Emily Bronte image here and Bronte parsonage books here

Wuthering Heights still here

Bronte Parsonage Museum website

Bronte Parsonage Blog

Poem from here with thanks

Kate Bush video from  with thanks

How Clear she shines video from

There are more of my Bronte related posts in the Bronte category on the right side of the blog

Happy Birthday William Butler Yeats!

Posted in Inspiring poetry, POETS BIRTHDAYS with tags , , , , , , on June 12, 2011 by echostains

Today is the birthday of the Irish poet and playwright William Butler Yeats (b. 1865 – 1939).  He was the brother of the artist Jack Butler Yeats (see my post on him over at echostains) Dublin born and educated, the poet spent his childhood in Sligo.  Yeats was to become a real driving force behind the Irish Literacy revival.

William Butler Yeats


Yeats interest in Irish folk law and the occult resonate throughout his earlier poetry which is  tends to be slow-paced and shows the influences of Percy Byshe Shelley, the Pre Raphaelite poets and Spencer. His later poetry tends to be more physical but I feel that although the poetry it is perhaps more earthed, the poet still ponders the question of mortality and seeks to reach fundamental truths.

Yeats has the honour of being the first Irishman to be awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature.  He was one of the original founders of the Abby Theatre and at one time, also served as its chief.

Yeats own family

Yeats came from a very artistic family.  His brother Jack was a highly regarded painter and his two sisters, Elizabeth and Susan Mary became involved with the Arts and Crafts movement. 

Jack Butler Yeats

Much has been written about this fascinating poet and his interesting life, but his poems speak for themselves.  They still stand today as some of the most lyrical, imaginative poetry ever written, in my opinion.

Here is a short film of four short poems by William Butler Yates;-

The Converstaion

Never give all the Heart

The Lake Isle of Innisfree

The Irish Airman Forsees his Death

 All four are read very movingly in the rich accent of Quincy Dubois and accompanied by the beautiful music of Colin Reid (who I have just discovered).  I was transported by the unique combination of poem, voice, music and images in this video.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

More about the life o f William Butler Yeats here

Poems by William Butler Yeats here 

Video by   – with thanks!

The National Library Of Ireland which features an interactive online exhibition of the poet and where you can hear his poems read is brilliant! Here

Images from here and here, also from here and here

Happy Birthday Edward Lear! Plus Poetry Challenge ‘Stuff and Nonsense’ Limerick

Posted in ALL MY POETRY CHALLENGES, POETS BIRTHDAYS with tags , , , on May 12, 2011 by echostains


Today is the birthday of English poet, artist and  illustrator Edward Lear(1812 – 1888).  He is is most famous for his limericks which he made popular and his literary nonsense writing.  Among other poems ‘The Owl and the Pussycat’ is probably one of his more famous.  He started his working life as an artist and illustrator and in 1832 even worked for the London Zoological society, providing illustrations of birds .  He drew and painted throughout his career and even wrote travel books as well as publishing poetry.  His poems are irreverent and poke fun at life, people and even himself. 

So, in honour of this poet who provided many with much amusement, the challenge this time is in the form of a short Limerick.  If you don’t know what a Limerick is – here’s some examples by Lear;-

 There was a Young Lady whose chin,
Resembled the point of a pin;
So she had it made sharp,
And purchased a harp,
And played several tunes with her chin.

There was an Old Man of Aôsta,
  Who possessed a large Cow, but he lost her;
  But they said, ‘Don’t you see,
  she has rushed up a tree?
  You invidious Old Man of Aôsta!’

There was an Old Lady of Chertsey,
Who made a remarkable curtsey;
She twirled round and round,
Till she sunk underground,
Which distressed all the people of Chertsey.

More about Lear here Lear verses here and also here

The rules are simple;- write a short limerick about anything, the funnier and quirkier and sillier the better (as in the style of the 5 lines Lear limerick). 

Link to this post and challenge by a direct link and mention clearly which blog the challenge is from (Bookstains) and I will put it on the page, tweet it, link to it and give your blog a mention. 

You can use the button if you want  – that’s all there is to it, so don’t forget to link.

 To start off – here’s one I wrote earlier ( I have taken liberties with it 😀  – but alls fair in Limerick land.  If you look at Lear’s examples you will find the last word of the first line are identical to the last word of the Limerick – mine isn’t)

The blog with the strange quirky name

Has great hopes that it shall shoot to fame.

It’s an interesting blog

Which will keep you agog

‘It’s my favorite!’ I hear you proclaim!

©2011 Lynda M Roberts

Well, here’s the first one (two really)  they are  from Jessica from Jessicas Japes who has a most interesting and highly original blog full of very individual poetry and prose – please take a look!

There once was a girl called Jessie,
Who was forever so damn messy,
She dribbled her coffee,
Then snorted a bogey,
And licked up both from her dressy!

© Jessica D’Angelo 2011

(And here’s a more adult one – so click away now if you’d rather not read it!)

There was a girl called Cunny,
In bed she was oh so funny,
She did love to lick,
It gave her a kick,
Ms Lingus was such a hunny!

© Jessica D’Angelo 2011

(Both were inspired by Lynda’s post about Edward Lear over at Bookstains)

The next contribution is from Adam Dustus whose Onestop poetry blog is a must for poets who love poetry and poetry challenges.  To read his other contributions to the Bookstains challenges just click his link to me 🙂

There still lives a girl in Hoboken
Who normally showed no emotion
We both fell in love
Thought it fate from above
She stomped on my heart until broken

©Adam Dustus 2011

Here is a GOTHIC (you have to whisper that word in a Vincent Price voice) from  Wendy Woo who has a beautifully dark and sensuous blog which I’m sure you will LOVE!

Goth limerick

There once was a girl who was goth

At the mouth she began to froth

She suddenly wheezed

Then she quickly sneezed

And coughed up a  little moth!

©Wendy Woo 2011

Happy Birthday Henry Wadsworth Longfellow!

Posted in Inspiring poetry, POETS BIRTHDAYS with tags , , , on February 27, 2011 by echostains

Today is the birthday of American  poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow born 1807 Portland, Maine USA.  Longfellow’s roots lie originally in Yorkshire England.  The Longfellow’s arrived in America in 1676.  Henry Wadsworth Longfellow was a scholar and linguist, he travelled  through many countries to learn about its people.  He was a professor of Bowdoin,  contributed travel sketches to the New England magazine and translated Old World literature.  In 1822 he became a college professor and in 1834 was appointed a professorship in Harvard.  The journey through Europe ended with his wife’s death and Longfellow arrived alone at Cambridge England  to take up his new professorship.  He stayed at Craigie House.   The house was to become important to him, as he married the owner’s relative and the house was eventually bequeathed to them.  Although the poet’s marriages were happy, both wives died tragically.  Longfellow immersed himself in his work translating Dante into English.

In 1854 the poet resigned from teaching at Harvard and began his most famous poem ‘The Song of Hiawatha’, which he researched by meeting with an Ojibway chief who provided the background to the poem.  The poem starts with Hiawatha’s birth (by the shores of Gitche Gumee and the Big White Spirit Gitche Matino telling his people to live in peace.  The story ends with the arrival of the white man and the death of Hiawatha.

The graceful way that Longfellow uses his poetry and the sing song effect, almost mimic the way in which birds sing, made the poet and his poetry very popular.  He was also one of the first poets to write poetry about the Native Americans. 

hiawatha illustrated by Kiddell Monroe

The poem caused a lot of excitement and drew attention to indian themes as a source of  inspiration and imagination.

The song on the video is from Mike Oldfield’s Incantations (1978).  The beautiful voice singing the poem belongs to Maddy Prior

An except from the Song of Hiawatha;-

 By the shore of Gitchie Gumee,
By the shining Big-Sea-Water,
At the doorway of his wigwam,
In the pleasant Summer morning,
Hiawatha stood and waited.
All the air was full of freshness,
All the earth was bright and joyous,
And before him through the sunshine,
Westward toward the neighboring forest
Passed in golden swarms the Ahmo,
Passed the bees, the honey-makers,
Burning, singing in the sunshine.
Bright above him shown the heavens,
Level spread the lake before him;
From its bosom leaped the sturgeon,
Aparkling, flashing in the sunshine;
On its margin the great forest
Stood reflected in the water,
Every tree-top had its shadow,
Motionless beneath the water.
From the brow of Hiawatha
Gone was every trace of sorrow,
As the fog from off the water,
And the mist from off the meadow.
With a smile of joy and triumph,
With a look of exultation,
As of one who in a vision
Sees what is to be, but is not,
Stood and waited Hiawatha….

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Video from  

Music from Mike Oldfield’s Incantations, 1978 sang by Maddy Prior

Everything you could wish to know about The Song of Hiawatha here

Native American words from the languages can be found here

Lots of interesting information, outlining the poets life  here

Book image from here

Hiawatha illustration here

Poem except here

Happy Birthday Lewis Carroll!

Posted in Authors Birthdays, POETS BIRTHDAYS with tags , , , , , , on January 27, 2011 by echostains

Today is the birthday of children’s author Charles Lutwidge Dodgson or Lewis Carroll as he is better known by his pen name.   Lewis Carroll was born  January 27, 1832 Daresbury Cheshire England – January 14, 1898. 

Lewis Carroll

As well as being an author, Carroll was also a poet, mathematician, (he was a mathematical lecturer at Oxford University) photographer and an Anglican Deacon. 

 One wonders how he found time for his creative writing, but I’m so glad he did, as Alice in Wonderland and Alice Adventures Through the Looking Glass are among my favorite books – still.   At the time the books were viewed as children’s literature. They are now looked upon in a different light and have long fascinated authors and musicians.

Dodgson was familiar with the Pre Raphaelites and moved in their circle.  Dante Gabriel Rossetti being one of his close friends.  Carroll was a keen photographer and photographed many subjects including Rossetti and John Everett Millais and the poet Alfred Lord Tennyson.

Alice grows and grows by Tenniel

  A childhood illness left him deaf in one ear and he suffered from a slight stammer.  But he was very comfortable at singing and story telling and wrote poetry from an early age, from which he enjoyed modest success.

Alice by Tenniel

He first used his pen name Lewis Carroll when he published a romantic poem called ‘Solitude’ which appeared in ‘The Train’ 1856.  He came up with this pseudonym in his own original way by taking Ludovicus – Latin for  Lutwidge(of which Lewis was an anglicised form) and  Carroll which is an Irish surname very similar to Carolus (which Charles is derived from).

His most famous books are Alice in Wonderland and Alice Adventures Through the Looking Glass and.  Alice Liddell and her family were friends of the Dodgson’s.  Carroll took Alice and her two sisters on a river trip up the Thames in 1862: Alice’s Adventures was first told by Carroll to the girls on this trip.  Alice asked him to write the story down, which he did, calling it ‘Alice’s Adventures Underground  He gave the manuscript to Alice as an early Christmas present in 1864.  He published the story, on friend’s advice .   Carroll rewrote the tale, adding the Mad Hatter Tea Party and  Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland was first published in July 1865.  John Tenniel illustrated it.

Through the Looking Glass was published in 1871 and at the end of the tale is a poem which spells out Alice’s name.  Many films have been made about the Alice stories – the latest one 2010 by Tim Burton starring Johnny Depp.

Life is but a Dream by Lewis Carroll

A boat, beneath a sunny sky
Lingering onward dreamily
In an evening of July

Children three that nestle near,
Eager eye and willing ear,
Pleased a simple tale to hear

Long has paled that sunny sky;
Echoes fade and memories die;
Autumn frosts have slain July.

Still she haunts me, phantomwise,
Alice moving under skies
Never seen by waking eyes.

Children yet, the tale to hear,
Eager eye and willing ear,
Lovingly shall nestle near.

In a Wonderland they lie,
Dreaming as the days go by,
Dreaming as the summers die;

Ever drifting down the stream
Lingering in the golden gleam
Life, what is it but a dream?

This is an acrostic poem by lewis Carroll  spells out Alice’s full name. Alice Pleasance Liddell

Lewis Carroll image from here

Lots of information about Carroll here and a lovely short biography here

The Lewis Carroll Society

and a very interesting site here and lots of great Lewis Carrolls facts here

Acrostic poem from here

Thanks to the Victorian Web for Tenniel images

and last but not least – a Big Thanks to AdPaylor for the wonderful Jabberwocky video!

‘Happy Birthday Robert Burns!’ and Poetry Challenge

Posted in ALL MY POETRY CHALLENGES, POETS BIRTHDAYS with tags , , , , on January 25, 2011 by echostains

Yes it’s Burns night!  Another opportunity to celebrate the life of the great Scottish poet Robert Burns b.25 January 1759 – 21 July 1796.  He is known by many names from  The Bard of Ayrshire to the ploughman’s poet.  He is especially famous for writing in the Scots language, though he has also written in a lighter more accessible one.  His writing is forthright, romantic and very beautiful.  He is a national hero in Scotland – and no wonder!  As well as writing poetry he also collected folk songs.  His own poem and song Auld Lang Syne is often sang on New Years Eve (or Hogmanay as they call it in Scotland).

Burns birthplace in Alloway

As a romantic poem and a ‘bit of a laddie’, Burns is also renown for his many love affairs.  he seems to have fallen in love – a lot judging by the poems written about his many amours:-).  His chequered life is full of many ups and downs and reads like a novel.  A fascinating man, full of life and verve, much has been written about him (    ) but in his own words ‘A Mans a Man for A That’ :-







Jean Armour, Burns wife


 His poems live on and shall always be with us. Many poets have written about flowers (A Red Red rose) but  which other poet would take the time out to write a poem about a humble field mouse? (To a Mouse) or even ‘To a Louse’.


Burns’s poems are numerous and a great many of them can be read on this excellent site and on this website which is dedicated to the poet.  A lovely history of this enigmatic man here  Image of Robert Burns from this good poetry site

images from here and here and here

Now for the Poetry Challenge….

The poetry challenge is called ‘What do ye say Rabbie?’  The challenge is to write a Haiku or poem about what you think Rabbie would write.  The subject matter could be anything – after all he wrote about mice and lice – so he was interested in all creatures.  he wrote romantic poetry, so the subject could be that.  He even wrote a toast to the Haggis – a traditional Scottish dish.  For inspiration watch and listen to the toast he made to it.  There are many versions of this, but I have picked the one with the English subtitles – though it’s not too difficult to understand this wonderful rich language. Burns also wrote humourously – so the sky’s the limit!  The poem doesn’t have to be in the Scottish dialect – though that would be wonderful too!  Robert Burns had a lot to say.  He can’t speak for himself – so why not speak for him 🙂  You may use the image if you want with a link to Bookstains of course.

Please note;-

The idea behind the challenges is to publicise Bookstains  is as well as having creative fun, so it is imperative that the poet link to Bookstains to further the challenge.

 In return the poem is copied to the challenges particular page which is open indefinitely and the poets own website mentioned with a link and the poem critiqued on not only Bookstains but also on the poets own blog or website.

 If you wouldn’t put the poem on your own blog, please don’t send it to mine and expect me to promote it.  This is a genuine challenge – so please play fair:-