Ralph Waldo Emerson |
I LIKE a church; I like a cowl;
I love a prophet of the soul;
And on my heart monastic aisles
Fall like sweet strains or pensive smiles;
Yet not for all his faith can see 5
Would I that cowl¨¨d churchman be.
Why should the vest on him allure
Which I could not on me endure?
Not from a vain or shallow thought
His awful Jove young Phidias brought; 10
Never from lips of cunning fell
The thrilling Delphic oracle:
Out from the heart of nature rolled
The burdens of the Bible old;
The litanies of nations came 15
Like the volcano's tongue of flame
Up from the burning core below ¡ª
The canticles of love and woe;
The hand that rounded Peter's dome
And groined the aisles of Christian Rome 20
Wrought in a sad sincerity;
Himself from God he could not free;
He builded better than he knew;¡ª
The conscious stone to beauty grew.
Know'st thou what wove yon woodbird's nest 25
Of leaves and feathers from her breast?
Or how the fish outbuilt her shell
Painting with morn each annual cell?
Or how the sacred pine tree adds
To her old leaves new myriads? 30
Such and so grew these holy piles
Whilst love and terror laid the tiles.
Earth proudly wears the Parthenon
As the best gem upon her zone;
And Morning opes with haste her lids 35
To gaze upon the Pyramids;
O'er England's abbeys bends the sky
As on its friends with kindred eye;
For out of Thought's interior sphere
These wonders rose to upper air; 40
And Nature gladly gave them place
Adopted them into her race
And granted them an equal date
With Andes and with Ararat.
These temples grew as grows the grass; 45
Art might obey but not surpass.
The passive Master lent his hand
To the vast soul that o'er him planned;
And the same power that reared the shrine
Bestrode the tribes that knelt within.
Ever the fiery Pentecost
Girds with one flame the countless host
Trances the heart through chanting choirs
And through the priest the mind inspires.
The word unto the prophet spoken 55
Was writ on tables yet unbroken;
The word by seers or sibyls told
In groves of oak or fanes of gold
Still floats upon the morning wind
Still whispers to the willing mind.
One accent of the Holy Ghost
The heedless world hath never lost.
I know what say the fathers wise ¡ª
The Book itself before me lies ¡ª
Old Chrysostom best Augustine 65
And he who blent both in his line
The younger Golden Lips or mines
Taylor the Shakespeare of divines.
His words are music in my ear
I see his cowl¨¨d portrait dear; 70
And yet for all his faith could see
I would not this good bishop be.
Wallace Stevens |
Poetry is the supreme fiction, madame.
Take the moral law and make a nave of it
And from the nave build haunted heaven.
The conscience is converted into palms,
Like windy citherns hankering for hymns.
We agree in principle.
The opposing law and make a peristyle,
And from the peristyle project a masque
Beyond the planets.
Thus, our bawdiness,
Unpurged by epitaph, indulged at last,
Is equally converted into palms,
Squiggling like saxophones.
And palm for palm,
Madame, we are where we began.
Therefore, that in the planetary scene
Your disaffected flagellants, well-stuffed,
Smacking their muzzy bellies in parade,
Proud of such novelties of the sublime,
Such tink and tank and tunk-a-tunk-tunk,
May, merely may, madame, whip from themselves
A jovial hullabaloo among the spheres.
This will make widows wince.
But fictive things
Wink as they will.
Wink most when widows wince.
Rudyard Kipling |
Lived a woman wonderful,
(May the Lord amend her!)
Neither simple, kind, nor true,
But her Pagan beauty drew
Christian gentlemen a few
Hotly to attend her.
Christian gentlemen a few
From Berwick unto Dover;
For she was South Africa,
Ana she was South Africa,
She was Our South Africa,
Africa all over!
Half her land was dead with drouth,
Half was red with battle;
She was fenced with fire and sword
Plague on pestilence outpoured,
Locusts on the greening sward
And murrain on the cattle!
True, ah true, and overtrue.
That is why we love her!
For she is South Africa,
And she is South Africa,
She is Our South Africa,
Africa all over!
Bitter hard her lovers toild,
Scandalous their paymen, --
Food forgot on trains derailed;
Cattle -- dung where fuel failed;
Water where the mules had staled;
And sackcloth for their raiment!
So she filled their mouths with dust
And their bones with fever;
Greeted them with cruel lies;
Treated them despiteful-wise;
Meted them calamities
Till they vowed to leave her!
They took ship and they took sail,
Raging, from her borders --
In a little, none the less,
They forgat their sore duresse;
They forgave her waywardness
And returned for orders!
They esteemed her favour more
Than a Throne's foundation.
For the glory of her face
Bade farewell to breed and race --
Yea, and made their burial-place
Altar of a Nation!
Wherefore, being bought by blood,
And by blood restored
To the arms that nearly lost,
She, because of all she cost,
Stands, a very woman, most
Perfect and adored!
On your feet, and let them know
This is why we love her!
For she is South Africa,
She is Our South Africa,
Is Our Own 5outh Africa,
Africa all over!
More great poems below...
Edgar Lee Masters |
I said when they handed me my diploma,
I said to myself I will be good
And wise and brave and helpful to others;
I said I will carry the Christian creed
Into the practice of medicine!
Somehow the world and the other doctors
Know what's in your heart as soon as you make
This high-soured resolution.
And the way of it is they starve you out.
And no one comes to you but the poor.
And you find too late that being a doctor
Is just a way of making a living.
And when you are poor and have to carry
The Christian creed and wife and children
All on your back, it is too much!
That's why I made the Elixir of Youth,
Which landed me in the jail at Peoria
Branded a swindler and a crook
By the upright Federal Judge!
Elizabeth Barrett Browning |
The woman singeth at her spinning-wheel
A pleasant chant, ballad or barcarole;
She thinketh of her song, upon the whole,
Far more than of her flax; and yet the reel
Is full, and artfully her fingers feel
With quick adjustment, provident control,
The lines--too subtly twisted to unroll--
Out to a perfect thread.
I hence appeal
To the dear Christian Church--that we may do
Our Father's business in these temples mirk,
Thus swift and steadfast, thus intent and strong;
While thus, apart from toil, our souls pursue
Some high calm spheric tune, and prove our work
The better for the sweetness of our song.
Rudyard Kipling |
For things we never mention,
For Art misunderstood --
For excellent intention
That did not turn to good;
From ancient tales' renewing,
From clouds we would not clear --
Beyond the Law's pursuing
We fled, and settled here.
We took no tearful leaving,
We bade no long good-byes;
Men talked of crime and thieving,
Men wrote of fraud and lies.
To save our injured feelings
'T was time and time to go --
Behind was dock and Dartmoor,
Ahead lay Callao!
The widow and the orphan
That pray for ten per cent,
They clapped their trailers on us
To spy the road we went.
They watched the foreign sailings
(They scan the shipping still),
And that's your Christian people
Returning good for ill!
God bless the thoughtfull islands
Where never warrants come;
God bless the just Republics
That give a man a home,
That ask no foolish questions,
But set him on his feet;
And save his wife and daughters
From the workhouse and the street!
On church and square and market
The noonday silence falls;
You'll hear the drowsy mutter
Of the fountain in our halls.
Asleep amid the yuccas
The city takes her ease --
Till twilight brings the land-wind
To the clicking jalousies.
Day long the diamond weather,
The high, unaltered blue --
The smell of goats and incense
And the mule-bells tinkling through.
Day long the warder ocean
That keeps us from our kin,
And once a month our levee
When the English mail comes in.
You'll find us up and waiting
To treat you at the bar;
You'll find us less exclusive
Than the average English are.
We'll meet you with a carriage,
Too glad to show you round,
But -- we do not lunch on steamers,
For they are English ground.
We sail o' nights to England
And join our smiling Boards --
Our wives go in with Viscounts
And our daughters dance with Lords,
But behind our princely doings,
And behind each coup we make,
We feel there's Something Waiting,
And -- we meet It when we wake.
Ah God! One sniff of England --
To greet our flesh and blood --
To hear the traffic slurring
Once more through London mud!
Our towns of wasted honour --
Our streets of lost delight!
How stands the old Lord Warden?
Are Dover's cliffs still white?
Oliver Goldsmith |
Good people all, of every sort,
Give ear unto my song;
And if you find it wondrous short,
It cannot hold you long.
In Islington there was a man
Of whom the world might say,
That still a godly race he ran—
Whene'er he went to pray.
A kind and gentle heart he had,
To comfort friends and foes;
The naked every day he clad—
When he put on his clothes.
And in that town a dog was found,
As many dogs there be,
Both mongrel, puppy, whelp, and hound,
And curs of low degree.
This dog and man at first were friends;
But when a pique began,
The dog, to gain some private ends,
Went mad, and bit the man.
Around from all the neighbouring streets
The wond'ring neighbours ran,
And swore the dog had lost its wits
To bite so good a man.
The wound it seemed both sore and sad
To every Christian eye;
And while they swore the dog was mad,
They swore the man would die.
But soon a wonder came to light
That showed the rogues they lied,—
The man recovered of the bite,
The dog it was that died!
William Cowper |
Honor and happiness unite
To make the Christian's name a praise;
How fair the scene, how clear the light,
That fills the remnant of His days!
A kingly character He bears,
No change His priestly office knows;
Unfading is the crown He wears,
His joys can never reach a close.
Adorn'd with glory from on high,
Salvation shines upon His face;
His robe is of the ethereal dye,
His steps are dignity and grace.
Inferior honors He disdains,
Nor stoops to take applause from earth;
The King of kings Himself maintains
The expenses of His heavenly birth.
The noblest creature seen below,
Ordain'd to fill a throne above;
God gives him all He can bestow,
His kingdom of eternal love!
My soul is ravished at the thought!
Methinks from earth I see Him rise!
Angels congratulate His lot,
And shout Him welcome to the skies.
Robert Creeley |
My wife and I lived all alone,
contention was our only bone.
I fought with her, she fought with me,
and things went on right merrily.
But now I live here by myself
with hardly a damn thing on the shelf,
and pass my days with little cheer
since I have parted from my dear.
Oh come home soon, I write to her.
Go fuck yourself, is her answer.
Now what is that, for Christian word?
I hope she feeds on dried goose turd.
But still I love her, yes I do.
I love her and the children too.
I only think it fit that she
should quickly come right back to me.
Ah no, she says, and she is tough,
and smacks me down with her rebuff.
Ah no, she says, I will not come
after the bloody things you've done.
Oh wife, oh wife -- I tell you true,
I never loved no one but you.
I never will, it cannot be
another woman is for me.
That may be right, she will say then,
but as for me, there's other men.
And I will tell you I propose
to catch them firmly by the nose.
And I will wear what dresses I choose!
And I will dance, and what's to lose!
I'm free of you, you little prick,
and I'm the one to make it stick.
Was this the darling I did love?
Was this that mercy from above
did open violets in the spring --
and made my own worn self to sing?
And she is still,
and if I love her? then so I will.
And I will tell her, and tell her right .
Oh lovely lady, morning or evening or afternoon.
Oh lovely lady, eating with or without a spoon.
Oh most lovely lady, whether dressed or undressed or partly.
Oh most lovely lady, getting up or going to bed or sitting only.
Oh loveliest of ladies, than whom none is more fair, more gracious, more beautiful.
Oh loveliest of ladies, whether you are just or unjust, merciful, indifferent, or cruel.
Oh most loveliest of ladies, doing whatever, seeing whatever, being whatever.
Oh most loveliest of ladies, in rain, in shine, in any weather.
Oh lady, grant me time,
please, to finish my rhyme.
Edwin Muir |
The windless northern surge, the sea-gull's scream,
And Calvin's kirk crowning the barren brae.
I think of Giotto the Tuscan shepherd's dream,
Christ, man and creature in their inner day.
How could our race betray
The Image, and the Incarnate One unmake
Who chose this form and fashion for our sake?
The Word made flesh here is made word again
A word made word in flourish and arrogant crook.
See there King Calvin with his iron pen,
And God three angry letters in a book,
And there the logical hook
On which the Mystery is impaled and bent
Into an ideological argument.
There's better gospel in man's natural tongue,
And truer sight was theirs outside the Law
Who saw the far side of the Cross among
The archaic peoples in their ancient awe,
In ignorant wonder saw
The wooden cross-tree on the bare hillside,
Not knowing that there a God suffered and died.
The fleshless word, growing, will bring us down,
Pagan and Christian man alike will fall,
The auguries say, the white and black and brown,
The merry and the sad, theorist, lover, all
Invisibly will fall:
Abstract calamity, save for those who can
Build their cold empire on the abstract man.
A soft breeze stirs and all my thoughts are blown
Far out to sea and lost.
Yet I know well
The bloodless word will battle for its own
Invisibly in brain and nerve and cell.
The generations tell
Their personal tale: the One has far to go
Past the mirages and the murdering snow.
Friedrich von Schiller |
I, too, at length discerned great Hercules' energy mighty,--
Saw his shade.
He himself was not, alas, to be seen.
Round him were heard, like the screaming of birds,
the screams of tragedians,
And, with the baying of dogs, barked dramaturgists around.
There stood the giant in all his terrors; his bow was extended,
And the bolt, fixed on the string, steadily aimed at the heart.
"What still hardier action, unhappy one, dost thou now venture,
Thus to descend to the grave of the departed souls here?"--
"'Tis to see Tiresias I come, to ask of the prophet
Where I the buskin of old, that now has vanished, may find?"
"If they believe not in Nature, nor the old Grecian, but vainly
Wilt thou convey up from hence that dramaturgy to them.
"Oh, as for Nature, once more to tread our stage she has ventured,
Ay, and stark-naked beside, so that each rib we count.
"What? Is the buskin of old to be seen in truth on your stage, then,
Which even I came to fetch, out of mid-Tartarus' gloom?"--
"There is now no more of that tragic bustle, for scarcely
Once in a year on the boards moves thy great soul, harness-clad.
"Doubtless 'tis well! Philosophy now has refined your sensations,
And from the humor so bright fly the affections so black.
"Ay, there is nothing that beats a jest that is stolid and barren,
But then e'en sorrow can please, if 'tis sufficiently moist.
"But do ye also exhibit the graceful dance of Thalia,
Joined to the solemn step with which Melpomene moves?"--
"Neither! For naught we love but what is Christian and moral;
And what is popular, too, homely, domestic, and plain.
"What? Does no Caesar, does no Achilles, appear on your stage now,
Not an Andromache e'en, not an Orestes, my friend?"
"No! there is naught to be seen there but parsons,
and syndics of commerce,
Secretaries perchance, ensigns, and majors of horse.
"But, my good friend, pray tell me, what can such people e'er meet with
That can be truly called great?--what that is great can they do?"
"What? Why they form cabals, they lend upon mortgage, they pocket
Silver spoons, and fear not e'en in the stocks to be placed.
"Whence do ye, then, derive the destiny, great and gigantic,
Which raises man up on high, e'en when it grinds him to dust?"--
"All mere nonsense! Ourselves, our worthy acquaintances also,
And our sorrows and wants, seek we, and find we, too, here.
"But all this ye possess at home both apter and better,--
Wherefore, then, fly from yourselves, if 'tis yourselves that ye seek?"
"Be not offended, great hero, for that is a different question;
Ever is destiny blind,--ever is righteous the bard.
"Then one meets on your stage your own contemptible nature,
While 'tis in vain one seeks there nature enduring and great?"
"There the poet is host, and act the fifth is the reckoning;
And, when crime becomes sick, virtue sits down to the feast!"
Constantine P Cavafy |
Said Myrtias (a Syrian student
in Alexandria; in the reign of
Augustus Constans and Augustus Constantius;
in part a pagan, and in part a christian);
"Fortified by theory and study,
I shall not fear my passions like a coward.
I shall give my body to sensual delights,
to enjoyments dreamt-of,
to the most daring amorous desires,
to the lustful impulses of my blood, without
any fear, for whenever I want --
and I shall have the will, fortified
as I shall be by theory and study --
at moments of crisis I shall find again
my spirit, as before, ascetic.
William Topaz McGonagall |
Welcome, sweet Christmas, blest be the morn
That Christ our Saviour was born!
Earth's Redeemer, to save us from all danger,
And, as the Holy Record tells, born in a manger.
Then ring, ring, Christmas bells,
Till your sweet music o'er the kingdom swells,
To warn the people to respect the morn
That Christ their Saviour was born.
The snow was on the ground when Christ was born,
And the Virgin Mary His mother felt very forlorn
As she lay in a horse's stall at a roadside inn,
Till Christ our Saviour was born to free us from sin.
Oh! think of the Virgin Mary as she lay
In a lowly stable on a bed of hay,
And angels watching O'er her till Christ was born,
Therefore all the people should respect Christmas morn.
The way to respect Christmas time
Is not by drinking whisky or wine,
But to sing praises to God on Christmas morn,
The time that Jesus Christ His Son was born;
Whom He sent into the world to save sinners from hell
And by believing in Him in heaven we'll dwell;
Then blest be the morn that Christ was born,
Who can save us from hell, death, and scorn.
Then he warned, and respect the Saviour dear,
And treat with less respect the New Year,
And respect always the blessed morn
That Christ our Saviour was born.
For each new morn to the Christian is dear,
As well as the morn of the New Year,
And he thanks God for the light of each new morn.
Especially the morn that Christ was born.
Therefore, good people, be warned in time,
And on Christmas morn don't get drunk with wine
But praise God above on Christmas morn,
Who sent His Son to save us from hell and scorn.
There the heavenly babe He lay
In a stall among a lot of hay,
While the Angel Host by Bethlehem
Sang a beautiful and heavenly anthem.
Christmas time ought to be held most dear,
Much more so than the New Year,
Because that's the time that Christ was born,
Therefore respect Christmas morn.
And let the rich be kind to the poor,
And think of the hardships they do endure,
Who are neither clothed nor fed,
And Many without a blanket to their bed.
Robert Louis Stevenson |
It is very nice to think
The world is full of meat and drink,
With little children saying grace
In every Christian kind of place.
Robert William Service |
Sitting in the dentist's chair,
Wishing that I wasn't there,
To forget and pass the time
I have made this bit of rhyme.
I had a rendez-vous at ten;
I rushed to get in line,
But found a lot of dames and men
Had waited there since nine;
I stared at them, then in an hour
Was blandly ushered in;
But though my face was grim and sour
He met me with a grin.
He told me of his horse of blood,
And how it "also ran",
He plans to own a racing stud -
(He seems a wealthy man.
And then he left me there until
I growled: "At any rate,
I hope he'll not charge in his bill
For all the time I wait.
His wife has sables on her back,
With jewels she's ablaze;
She drives a stately Cadillac,
And I'm the mug who pays:
At least I'm one of those who peer
With pessimistic gloom
At magazines of yester-year
In his damn waiting room.
I am a Christian Scientist;
I don't believe in pain;
My dentist had a powerful wrist,
He tries and tries in vain
To make me grunt or groan or squeal
With probe or rasp or drill.
But oh, what agony I feel
When HE PRESENTS HIS BILL!
Sitting in the dental chair,
Don't you wish you weren't there:
Well, your cup of woe to fill,
Just think of his infernal bill.