Poem of the week: Ballad by Anne Askew

One of the earliest women to publish verse in English, Askew faced harrowing persecution and her suffering sings fiercely in this defiant story of faith

The Ballad which Anne Askew Made and Sang When She Was in Newgate

Like as the armed knight
Appointed to the field,
With this world will I fight
And Faith shall be my shield.

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Poem of the week: Life is a Dream by John Ashbery

To celebrate the 90th birthday of this majestic writer, a poem whose casual telling of what might be a coming-of-age story reveals some fascinating ambiguities Life is a Dream
A talent for self-realization
will get you only as far as the vacant lot
next to the lumber yard, where they have rollcall.
My name begins with an A,
so is one of the first to be read off.
I am wondering where to stand – could that group of three
or four others be the beginning of the line?
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Poem(s) of the week: A pair of odes to the Pulteney daughters by Ambrose Philips

These two sunny works celebrating the arrival of young children are more than a little sentimental, but they also have a winning freshness To Miss Charlotte Pulteney
In her mother’s arms, May 1, 1724
Timely blossom, infant fair,
Fondling of a happy pair,
Every morn and every night
Their solicitous delight;
Sleeping, waking, still at ease,
Pleasing, without skill to please;
Little gossip, blithe and hale,
Tattling many a broken tale,
Singing many a tuneless song,
Lavish of a heedless tongue;
Simple maiden, void of art,
Babbling out the very heart,
Yet abandon’d to thy will,
Yet imagining no ill,
Yet too innocent to blush;
Like the linlet in the bush,
To the mother-linnet’s note
Moduling her slender throat,
Chirping forth thy pretty joys;
Wanton in the change of toys,
Like the linnet green, in May,
Flitting to each bloomy spray;
Wearied then, and glad of rest,
Like the linlet ...