A plume of feathers, never used

A plume of feathers, never used 
but by Œdipus and the Earl of Essex.
A serpent to sting Cleopatra.

Aurengezebe’s scymitar, 
made by Will. Brown in Piccadilly. 
The whiskers of a Turkish Bassa. 

A wild boar. Roxana’s night-gown.
The imperial robes of Xerxes, never worn but once.
Another of a bigger sort.

Materials for dancing; as masks, 
castanets, and a ladder of ten rounds.
Three bottles and a half of lightning.

A dozen and a half of clouds, 
trimmed with black. A basket-hilted sword.
Three oak-cudgels, with one of crab-tree.

A bale of Spanish wool. A sea.
A coach very finely gilt, with a pair 
of dragons, to be sold cheap.

Othello’s handkerchief.
One shower of snow in the whitest French paper.
A mustard-bowl to make thunder.

A suit of clothes for a ghost, 
viz. a bloody shirt, a doublet curiously pinked.
A coat with three great eyelet-holes.

A set of clouds after the French mode, 
streaked with lightning, and furbelowed.

(From Drury Lane theatre’s fire sale, 1709)

Welcome to the UK

Why is there a guy selling perfumes
in the toilets of a club? The fact
most houses don’t have bars on the windows.
Spring and how utterly lovely it is.
Strangers ending messages with a kiss.

Everything is tighter, narrower, closer.
You coming with us for the bonfire,
they’re burning the Pope. I wasn’t expecting
the litter to lay on the ground for weeks.
Where are the people cleaning the streets?

Houses have string light switches. Two taps.
Gravestones older than my whole country.
You can buy drinks and snacks in a pharmacy.
Quiz nights, Marmite, no bargaining in shops.
Two snowflakes fall and everything stops.

Most people in London aren’t from London.
People who play dominoes in pub bars.
A small group of cheerful protestors
led to a police car, no need for drama.
People shopping in their pyjamas.

All the food is wet. Sandwiches oozing
with mayonnaise, chips drowning in gravy.
Everything is too sweet. Limes are so cheap.
Long fake eyelashes, orange tanning.
How green everything stays. Did I mention spring?

No burglar bars and security gates,
no pallisade fencing. The resigning
of everyone who has a setback.
How much Brits hate Britain, talk it down.
Women pushing prams on the streets on their own.

(From UK immigrants, what surprised you when you moved here?)

Left behind

A Jimmy Choo
Cinderella shoe.
A Pomsky
dog called Beyoncé.
An ice-cream cart,
a birth chart
and tarot reading.
A pair of six-foot angel wings.

A Roland drum kit,
an Angora rabbit
called Thumper, an Islamic
marriage certificate.
The bride’s pet lovebirds, Will and Kate,
which she was supposed to take
to the ceremony.
A GT V8 Bentley
convertible.
A huge inflatable
unicorn pool float,
a banana boat.
A telescope.

A DJI Phantom drone
and a coin collection started nine decades ago.

(From dogs to drones)

Flowerspeak

Poppy, scarlet, fantastic extravagance,
Damask rose, brilliant complexion;
Camellia, red, unpretending excellence,
Japan rose, beauty is your only attraction.
Mistletoe, I surmount difficulties,
Rose, daily, thy smile I aspire to;
Citron, ill-natured beauty,
Mulberry tree, I shall not survive you.
Sorrel, wild, wit ill-timed,
Butterfly weed, let me go;
Hundred-leaved rose, dignity of mind,
Cistus, gum, I shall die tomorrow.
American starwort, cheerfulness in old age,
Locust tree, green, affection beyond the grave.

(Flower meanings from Collier’s Cyclopedia, 1882)

Can you die of a broken heart?

Researchers have looked at what goes on in the brain,
and for lovers and addicts it’s exactly the same.

Those who are newly in love
experience joy in their minds from a dopamine flood.

And it’s this same pattern that goes on in the brain
as that which occurs when you’re hooked on cocaine.

So in the first throes of passion you’re literally addicted to love,
and that’s probably why those feelings all hurt so much.

(From Can you die of a broken heart? Submitted by Ben Mellor)

Observance

Twenty-fourth of May
Vesak, the Day
of the Full Moon,
Twelfth of June
World day against child labour,
Tenth of December

Human rights day,
World sight day,
World book
and copyright day.

Third Sunday in November
World Day of Remembrance
for Road Traffic Victims, First of October
International Day of Older
Persons, Eleventh to twelfth of May
World Migratory Bird Day.

International migrants day,
International women’s day,
International mountain day,
International widows’ day.

International Day of Forests and the Tree,
International Day of Sport for Development and Peace.

From the United Nations list of international days for observance. Submitted by Gabriel Smy.

Backstage

Phaeton chariot and Argus’ head,
One lion skin.
One tomb of Dido, one bedstead
Canopy, old Mahomet’s head.
Iron targets, one Mercury’s wings,
City of Rome, one golden fleece
Belin Dun’s stable, one bear’s skin
Tantalus’ tree
And Phaeton’s limbs.

Items picked out of an inventory of ‘all the properties for my Lord Admiral’s men’ – the Elizabethan theatre company – taken by impresario Philip Henslowe, 10 March 1598. Via Futility Closet. Submitted by Gabriel Smy.

Set upon the étagère

Aftercare, agate ware
air-to-air, antiair
anywhere, arctic hare
Asian pear, bayadere
bêche-de-mer, Belgian hare
billionaire, boutonniere
bring to bear, camel hair
Camembert, captain’s chair.

Chinaware, compressed air
county fair, crackleware
Croix de Guerre, debonair
de la Mare, derriere
disrepair, doctrinaire
earthenware, easy chair
en plein air, everywhere
fighting chair, flying mare.

Fourragère, Frigidaire
germ warfare, get somewhere
graniteware, grizzly bear
here and there, hide or hair
hollowware, ice-cream chair
in one’s hair, in the air
ironware, jasperware
kitchenware, La Bruyère.

Lacquerware, laissez-faire
Latin square, legionnaire
lion’s share, Little Bear
love affair, luminaire
lusterware, magic square
mal de mer, managed care
market share, Medicare
metalware, millionaire.

Minaudière, miter square
Mon-Khmer, morris chair
Mousquetaire, nom de guerre
on the square, open-air
otherwhere, outerwear
overbear, overwear
perfect square, plasticware
polar bear, potty-chair.

Porte cochere, prickly pear
questionnaire, rivière
Robespierre, rocking chair
savoir faire, science fair
self-aware, self-despair
silverware, slipper chair
snowshoe hare, solar flare.

Solitaire, swivel chair
tear one’s hair, then and there
thoroughfare, trench warfare
unaware, underwear
vaporware, vivandière
wash-and-wear, water bear
wear and tear, willowware
woodenware, world premiere
yellowware, zillionaire.

From a list of words that rhyme with étagère on the Merriam Webster online dictionary, 31 January 2013. Submitted by Steph Dempsey.