Alec Derwent (A D) Hope | |
When, darkly brooding on this Modern Age,
The journalist with his marketable woes
Fills up once more the inevitable page
Of fatuous, flatulent, Sunday-paper prose;
Whenever the green aesthete starts to whoop
With horror at the house not made with hands
And when from vacuum cleaners and tinned soup
Another pure theosophist demands
Rebirth in other, less industrial stars
Where huge towns thrust up in synthetic stone
And films and sleek miraculous motor cars
And celluloid and rubber are unknown;
When from his vegetable Sunday School
Emerges with the neatly maudlin phrase
Still one more Nature poet, to rant or drool
About the "Standardization of the Race";
I see, stooping among her orchard trees,
The old, sound Earth, gathering her windfalls in,
Broad in the hams and stiffening at the knees,
Pause and I see her grave malicious grin.
For there is no manufacturer competes
With her in the mass production of shapes and things.
Over and over she gathers and repeats
The cast of a face, a million butterfly wings.
She does not tire of the pattern of a rose.
Her oldest tricks still catch us with surprise.
She cannot recall how long ago she chose
The streamlined hulls of fish, the snail's long eyes,
Love, which still pours into its ancient mould
The lashing seed that grows to a man again,
From whom by the same processes unfold
Unending generations of living men.
She has standardized his ultimate needs and pains.
Lost tribes in a lost language mutter in
His dreams: his science is tethered to their brains,
His guilt merely repeats Original Sin.
And beauty standing motionless before
Her mirror sees behind her, mile on mile,
A long queue in an unknown corridor,
Anonymous faces plastered with her smile.
Philip Larkin | |
The eye can hardly pick them out
From the cold shade they shelter in,
Till wind distresses tail and main;
Then one crops grass, and moves about
- The other seeming to look on -
And stands anonymous again
Yet fifteen years ago, perhaps
Two dozen distances surficed
To fable them: faint afternoons
Of Cups and Stakes and Handicaps,
Whereby their names were artificed
To inlay faded, classic Junes -
Silks at the start: against the sky
Numbers and parasols: outside,
Squadrons of empty cars, and heat,
And littered grass : then the long cry
Hanging unhushed till it subside
To stop-press columns on the street.
Do memories plague their ears like flies?
They shake their heads.
Dusk brims the shadows.
Summer by summer all stole away,
The starting-gates, the crowd and cries -
All but the unmolesting meadows.
Almanacked, their names live; they
Have slipped their names, and stand at ease,
Or gallop for what must be joy,
And not a fieldglass sees them home,
Or curious stop-watch prophesies:
Only the grooms, and the grooms boy,
With bridles in the evening come.
Edgar Lee Masters | |
To be able to see every side of every question;
To be on every side, to be everything, to be nothing long;
To pervert truth, to ride it for a purpose,
To use great feelings and passions of the human family
For base designs, for cunning ends,
To wear a mask like the Greek actors --
Your eight-page paper -- behind which you huddle,
Bawling through the megaphone of big type:
"This is I, the giant.
Thereby also living the life of a sneak-thief,
Poisoned with the anonymous words
Of your clandestine soul.
To scratch dirt over scandal for money,
And exhume it to the winds for revenge,
Or to sell papers,
Crushing reputations, or bodies, if need be,
To win at any cost, save your own life.
To glory in demoniac power, ditching civilization,
As a paranoiac boy puts a log on the track
And derails the express train.
To be an editor, as I was.
Then to lie here close by the river over the place
Where the sewage flows from the village,
And the empty cans and garbage are dumped,
And abortions are hidden.
More great poems below...
Donald Justice | |
One of those men who can be a car salesman or a tourist from Syracuse or a
-- John D.
You would not recognize me.
Mine is the face which blooms in
The dank mirrors of washrooms
As you grope for the light switch.
My eyes have the expression
Of the cold eyes of statues
Watching their pigeons return
From the feed you have scattered,
And I stand on my corner
With the same marble patience.
If I move at all, it is
At the same pace precisely
As the shade of the awning
Under which I stand waiting
And with whose blackness it seems
I am already blended.
I speak seldom, and always
In a murmur as quiet
As that of crowds which surround
The victims of accidents.
Shall I confess who I am?
My name is all names, or none.
I am the used-car salesman,
The tourist from Syracuse,
The hired assassin, waiting.
I will stand here forever
Like one who has missed his bus --
Familiar, anonymous --
On my usual corner,
The corner at which you turn
To approach that place where now
You must not hope to arrive.
Donald Justice | |
A delicate young Negro stands
With the reins of a horse clutched loosely in his hands;
So delicate, indeed, that we wonder if he can hold the spirited creature
Until the master shall arrive to ride him.
Already the animal's nostrils widen with rage or fear.
But if we imagine him snorting, about to rear,
This boy, who should know about such things better than we,
Only stands smiling, passive and ornamental, in a fantastic livery
Of ruffles and puffed breeches,
Watching the artist, apparently, as he sketches.
Meanwhile the petty lord who must have paid
For the artist's trip up from Perugia, for the horse, for the boy, for
everything here, in fact, has been delayed,
Kept too long by his steward, perhaps, discussing
Some business concerning the estate, or fussing
Over the details of his impeccable toilet
With a manservant whose opinion is that any alteration at all would spoil it.
However fast he should come hurrying now
Over this vast greensward, mopping his brow
Clear of the sweat of the fine Renaissance morning, it would be too late:
The artist will have had his revenge for being made to wait,
A revenge not only necessary but right and clever --
Simply to leave him out of the scene forever.
Delmore Schwartz | |
Tired and unhappy, you think of houses
Soft-carpeted and warm in the December evening,
While snow's white pieces fall past the window,
And the orange firelight leaps.
A young girl sings
That song of Gluck where Orpheus pleads with Death;
Her elders watch, nodding their happiness
To see time fresh again in her self-conscious eyes:
The servants bring in the coffee, the children go to bed,
Elder and younger yawn and go to bed,
The coals fade and glow, rose and ashen,
It is time to shake yourself! and break this
Banal dream, and turn your head
Where the underground is charged, where the weight
Of the lean building is seen,
Where close in the subway rush, anonymous
In the audience, well-dressed or mean,
So many surround you, ringing your fate,
Caught in an anger exact as a machine!
Delmore Schwartz | |
The common rain had come again
Slanting and colorless, pale and anonymous,
Fainting falling in the first evening
Of the first perception of the actual fall,
The long and late light had slowly gathered up
A sooty wood of clouded sky, dim and distant more and
Until, at dusk, the very sense of selfhood waned,
A weakening nothing halted, diminished or denied or set
Neither tea, nor, after an hour, whiskey,
Ice and then a pleasant glow, a burning,
And the first leaping wood fire
Since a cold night in May, too long ago to be more than
Merely a cold and vivid memory.
Staring, empty, and without thought
Beyond the rising mists of the emotion of causeless
How suddenly all consciousness leaped in spontaneous
Knowing without thinking how the falling rain (outside, all
In slow sustained consistent vibration all over outside
Tapping window, streaking roof,
running down runnel and drain
Waking a sense, once more, of all that lived outside of us,
Beyond emotion, for beyond the swollen
distorted shadows and lights
Of the toy town and the vanity fair
of waking consciousness!
Anne Sexton | |
In his tenth July some instinct
taught him to arm the waiting wave,
a giant where its mouth hung open.
He rode on the lip that buoyed him there
and buckled him under.
The beach was strung
with children paddling their ages in,
under the glare od noon chipping
its light out.
He stood up, anonymous
and straight among them, between
their sand pails and nursery crafts.
The breakers cartwheeled in and over
to puddle their toes and test their perfect
He was my brother, my small
Johnny brother, almost ten.
down upon a towel to grind the sand
under us and watched the Atlantic sea
move fire, like night sparklers;
and lost our weight in the festival
He dreamed, he said, to be
a man designed like a balanced wave.
how someday he would wait, giant
Johnny, your dream moves summers
inside my mind.
He was tall and twenty that July,
but there was no balance to help;
only the shells came straight and even.
This was the first beach of assault;
the odor of death hung in the air
like rotting potatoes, the junkyard
of landing craft waited open and rusting.
The bodies were strung out as if they were
still reaching for each other, where they lay
to blacken, to burst through their perfect
And Johnny Pole was one of them.
He gave in like a small wave, a sudden
hole in his belly and the years all gone
where the Pacific noon chipped its light out.
Like a bean bag, outflung, head loose
and anonymous, he lay.
Did the sea move fire
for its battle season? Does he lie there
forever, where his rifle waits, giant
I think you die again
and live again,
Johnny, each summer that moves inside
Anne Sexton | |
And I solemnly swear
on the chill of secrecy
that I know you not, this room never,
the swollen dress I wear,
nor the anonymous spoons that free me,
nor this calendar nor the pulse we pare and cover.
For all these present,
before that wandering ghost,
that yellow moth of my summer bed,
I say: this small event
So I prepare, am dosed
in ether and will not cry what stays unsaid.
I was brown with August,
the clapping waves at my thighs
and a storm riding into the cove.
while the others beached and burst
for their boarded huts, their hale cries
shouting back to us and the hollow slam
of the dory against the float.
Black arms of thunder strapped
upon us, squalled out, we breathed in rain
and stroked past the boat.
We thrashed for shore as if we were trapped
in green and that suddenly inadequate stain
of lightning belling around
Bodies in air
we raced for the empty lobsterman-shack.
It was yellow inside, the sound
of the underwing of the sun.
I most solemnly swear, on all the bric-a-brac
of summer loves, I know
Anne Sexton | |
A young man is afraid of his demon and puts his hand
over the demon's mouth sometimes.
I mentioned my demon to a friend
and the friend swam in oil and came forth to me
greasy and cryptic
"I'm thinking of taking him out of hock.
I pawned him years ago.
Who would buy?
The pawned demon,
Yellowing with forgetfulness
and hand at his throat?
Take him out of hock, my friend,
but beware of the grief
that will fly into your mouth like a bird.
too often undressed,
too often a crucifix I bring forth,
too often a dead daisy I give water to
too often the child I give birth to
and then abort, nameless, nameless.
Oh demon within,
I am afraid and seldom put my hand up
to my mouth and stitch it up
covering you, smothering you
from the public voyeury eyes
of my typewriter keys.
If I should pawn you,
what bullion would they give for you,
what pennies, swimming in their copper kisses
what bird on its way to perishing?
I accept you,
you come with the dead who people my dreams,
who walk all over my desk
(as in Mother, cancer blossoming on her
Best & Co.
waltzing with her tissue paper ghost)
the dead, who give sweets to the diabetic in me,
who give bolts to the seizure of roses
that sometimes fly in and out of me.
I accept you, demon.
I will not cover your mouth.
If it be man I love, apple laden and foul
or if it be woman I love, sick unto her blood
and its sugary gasses and tumbling branches.
Demon come forth,
even if it be God I call forth
standing like a carrion,
wanting to eat me,
starting at the lips and tongue.
And me wanting to glide into His spoils,
I take bread and wine,
and the demon farts and giggles,
at my letting God out of my mouth
at the anonymous altar.
Don Paterson | |
In the same way that the mindless diamond keeps
one spark of the planet's early fires
trapped forever in its net of ice,
it's not love's later heat that poetry holds,
but the atom of the love that drew it forth
from the silence: so if the bright coal of his love
begins to smoulder, the poet hears his voice
suddenly forced, like a bar-room singer's -- boastful
with his own huge feeling, or drowned by violins;
but if it yields a steadier light, he knows
the pure verse, when it finally comes, will sound
like a mountain spring, anonymous and serene.
Beneath the blue oblivious sky, the water
sings of nothing, not your name, not mine.
Erica Jong | |
If you ask him he will talk for hours--
how at fourteen he hammered signs, fingers
raw with cold, and later painted bowers
in ladies' boudoirs; how he played checkers
for two weeks in jail, and lived on dark bread;
how he fled the border to a country
which disappeared wars ago; unfriended
crossed a continent while this century
He seldom speaks of painting now.
Young men have time and theories; old men work.
He has painted countless portraits.
nameless faces, made glistening in oil, smirk
above anonymous mantelpieces.
The turpentine has a familiar smell,
but his hand trembles with odd, new palsies.
Perched on the maulstick, it nears the easel.
He has come to like his resignation.
In his sketch books, ink-dark cossacks hear
the snorts of horses in the crunch of snow.
His pen alone recalls that years ago,
one horseman set his teeth and aimed his spear
which, poised, seemed pointed straight to pierce the sun.
Matsuo Basho | |
Following are several translations
of the 'Old Pond' poem, which may be
the most famous of all haiku:
mizu no oto
Fu-ru (old) i-ke (pond) ya,
ka-wa-zu (frog) to-bi-ko-mu (jumping into)
mi-zu (water) no o-to (sound)
The old pond--
a frog jumps in,
sound of water.
Translated by Robert Hass
a frog jumps in
Translated by William J.
An old silent pond.
A frog jumps into the pond,
splash! Silence again.
Translated by Harry Behn
There is the old pond!
Lo, into it jumps a frog:
hark, water's music!
Translated by John Bryan
The silent old pond
a mirror of ancient calm,
a frog-leaps-in splash.
Translated by Dion O'Donnol
Translated by Cid Corman
frantic frog jumps in--
Translated by Bernard Lionel Einbond
MAFIA HIT MAN POET: NOTE FOUND PINNED TO LAPEL
OF DROWNED VICTIM'S DOUBLE-BREASTED SUIT!!!
'Dere wasa dis frogg
Gone jumpa offa da logg
Now he inna bogg.
Translated by George M.
leap -- splash
Translated by Lucien Stryck
The old pond,
A frog jumps in:.
Translated by Allan Watts
The old pond, yes, and
A frog is jumping into
The water, and splash.
Translated by G.
John Berryman | |
Cedars and the westward sun.
The darkening sky.
A man alone
Watches beside the fallen wall
The evening multitudes of sin
Crowd in upon us all.
For when the light fails they begin
Nocturnal sabotage among
The outcast and the loose of tongue,
The lax in walk, the murderers:
Our twilight universal curse.
Children are faultless in the wood,
If they are later made
Scandal and index to their time,
It is that twilight brings for bread
The faculty of crime.
Only the idiot and the dead
Stand by, while who were young before
Wage insolent and guilty war
By night within that ancient house,
Immense, black, damned, anonymous.
John Betjeman | |
This is the time of day when we in the Mens's ward
Think "one more surge of the pain and I give up the fight.
Whe he who strggles for breath can struggle less strongly:
This is the time of day which is worse than night.
A haze of thunder hangs on the hospital rose-beds,
A doctors' foursome out of the links is played,
Safe in her sitting-room Sister is putting her feet up:
This is the time of day when we feel betrayed.
Below the windows, loads of loving relations
Rev in the car park, changing gear at the bend,
Making for home and a nice big tea and the telly:
"Well, we've done what we can.
It can't be long till the end.
This is the time of day when the weight of bedclothes
Is harder to bear than a sharp incision of steel.
The endless anonymous croak of a cheap transistor
Intesifies the lonely terror I feel.
Sylvia Plath | |
Will it go on? ----
My mind a rock,
No fingers to grip, no tongue,
My god the iron lung
That loves me, pumps
Dust bags in and out,
Let me relapse
While the day outside glides by like ticker tape.
The night brings violets,
Tapestries of eyes,
The soft anonymous
Talkers: 'You all right?'
The starched, inaccessible breast.
Dead egg, I lie
On a whole world I cannot touch,
At the white, tight
Drum of my sleeping couch
Photographs visit me-
My wife, dead and flat, in 1920 furs,
Mouth full of pearls,
As flat as she, who whisper 'We're your daughters.
The still waters
Wrap my lips,
Eyes, nose and ears,
Cellophane I cannot crack.
On my bare back
I smile, a buddha, all
Falling from me like rings
Hugging their lights.
Of the magnolia,
Drunk on its own scents,
Asks nothing of life.
Thomas Hardy | |
The day is turning ghost,
And scuttles from the kalendar in fits and furtively,
To join the anonymous host
Of those that throng oblivion; ceding his place, maybe,
To one of like degree.
I part the fire-gnawed logs,
Rake forth the embers, spoil the busy flames, and lay the ends
Upon the shining dogs;
Further and further from the nooks the twilight's stride extends,
And beamless black impends.
Nothing of tiniest worth
Have I wrought, pondered, planned; no one thing asking blame or
Since the pale corpse-like birth
Of this diurnal unit, bearing blanks in all its rays -
Dullest of dull-hued Days!
Wanly upon the panes
The rain slides as have slid since morn my colourless thoughts; and
Here, while Day's presence wanes,
And over him the sepulchre-lid is slowly lowered and set,
He wakens my regret.
Regret--though nothing dear
That I wot of, was toward in the wide world at his prime,
Or bloomed elsewhere than here,
To die with his decease, and leave a memory sweet, sublime,
Or mark him out in Time .
--Yet, maybe, in some soul,
In some spot undiscerned on sea or land, some impulse rose,
Or some intent upstole
Of that enkindling ardency from whose maturer glows
The world's amendment flows;
But which, benumbed at birth
By momentary chance or wile, has missed its hope to be
Embodied on the earth;
And undervoicings of this loss to man's futurity
May wake regret in me.
Emily Dickinson | |
Superfluous were the Sun
When Excellence be dead
He were superfluous every Day
For every Day be said
That syllable whose Faith
Just saves it from Despair
And whose "I'll meet You" hesitates
If Love inquire "Where"?
Upon His dateless Fame
Our Periods may lie
As Stars that drop anonymous
From an abundant sky.
Emily Dickinson | |
I sometimes drop it, for a Quick --
The Thought to be alive --
Anonymous Delight to know --
And Madder -- to conceive --
Consoles a Woe so monstrous
That did it tear all Day,
Without an instant's Respite --
'Twould look too far -- to Die --