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Best Famous Delmore Schwartz Poems

Here is a collection of the all-time best famous Delmore Schwartz poems. This is a select list of the best famous Delmore Schwartz poetry. Reading, writing, and enjoying famous Delmore Schwartz poetry (as well as classical and contemporary poems) is a great past time. These top poems are the best examples of Delmore Schwartz poems.

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See also: Best Member Poems

by Delmore Schwartz | |

The Spring

 (After Rilke)


Spring has returned! Everything has returned!
The earth, just like a schoolgirl, memorizes
Poems, so many poems.
.
.
.
Look, she has learned So many famous poems, she has earned so many prizes! Teacher was strict.
We delighted in the white Of the old man's beard, bright like the snow's: Now we may ask which names are wrong, or right For "blue," for "apple," for "ripe.
" She knows, she knows! Lucky earth, let out of school, now you must play Hide-and-seek with all the children every day: You must hide that we may seek you: we will! We will! The happiest child will hold you.
She knows all the things You taught her: the word for "hope," and for "believe," Are still upon her tongue.
She sings and sings and sings.


by Delmore Schwartz | |

For The One Who Would Take Mans Life In His Hands

 Tiger Christ unsheathed his sword,
Threw it down, became a lamb.
Swift spat upon the species, but Took two women to his heart.
Samson who was strong as death Paid his strength to kiss a slut.
Othello that stiff warrior Was broken by a woman's heart.
Troy burned for a sea-tax, also for Possession of a charming whore.
What do all examples show? What must the finished murderer know? You cannot sit on bayonets, Nor can you eat among the dead.
When all are killed, you are alone, A vacuum comes where hate has fed.
Murder's fruit is silent stone, The gun increases poverty.
With what do these examples shine? The soldier turned to girls and wine.
Love is the tact of every good, The only warmth, the only peace.
"What have I said?" asked Socrates.
"Affirmed extremes, cried yes and no, Taken all parts, denied myself, Praised the caress, extolled the blow, Soldier and lover quite deranged Until their motions are exchanged.
-What do all examples show? What can any actor know? The contradiction in every act, The infinite task of the human heart.
"


by Delmore Schwartz | |

Far Rockaway

 "the cure of souls.
" Henry James The radiant soda of the seashore fashions Fun, foam and freedom.
The sea laves The Shaven sand.
And the light sways forward On self-destroying waves.
The rigor of the weekday is cast aside with shoes, With business suits and traffic's motion; The lolling man lies with the passionate sun, Or is drunken in the ocean.
A socialist health take should of the adult, He is stripped of his class in the bathing-suit, He returns to the children digging at summer, A melon-like fruit.
O glittering and rocking and bursting and blue -Eternities of sea and sky shadow no pleasure: Time unheard moves and the heart of man is eaten Consummately at leisure.
The novelist tangential on the boardwalk overhead Seeks his cure of souls in his own anxious gaze.
"Here," he says, "With whom?" he asks, "This?" he questions, "What tedium, what blaze?" "What satisfaction, fruit? What transit, heaven? Criminal? justified? arrived at what June?" That nervous conscience amid the concessions Is haunting, haunted moon.


More great poems below...

by Delmore Schwartz | |

Out Of The Watercolored Window When You Look

 When from the watercolored window idly you look
Each is but and clear to see, not steep:
So does the neat print in an actual book
Marching as if to true conclusion, reap
The illimitable blue immensely overhead,
The night of the living and the day of the dead.
I drive in an auto all night long to reach The apple which has sewed the sunlight up: My simple self is nothing but the speech Pleading for the overflow of that great cup, The darkened body, the mind still as a frieze: All else is merely means as complex as disease!


by Delmore Schwartz | |

The Heavy Bear Who Goes With Me

 "the withness of the body" --Whitehead


The heavy bear who goes with me,
A manifold honey to smear his face,
Clumsy and lumbering here and there,
The central ton of every place,
The hungry beating brutish one
In love with candy, anger, and sleep,
Crazy factotum, dishevelling all,
Climbs the building, kicks the football,
Boxes his brother in the hate-ridden city.
Breathing at my side, that heavy animal, That heavy bear who sleeps with me, Howls in his sleep for a world of sugar, A sweetness intimate as the water's clasp, Howls in his sleep because the tight-rope Trembles and shows the darkness beneath.
--The strutting show-off is terrified, Dressed in his dress-suit, bulging his pants, Trembles to think that his quivering meat Must finally wince to nothing at all.
That inescapable animal walks with me, Has followed me since the black womb held, Moves where I move, distorting my gesture, A caricature, a swollen shadow, A stupid clown of the spirit's motive, Perplexes and affronts with his own darkness, The secret life of belly and bone, Opaque, too near, my private, yet unknown, Stretches to embrace the very dear With whom I would walk without him near, Touches her grossly, although a word Would bare my heart and make me clear, Stumbles, flounders, and strives to be fed Dragging me with him in his mouthing care, Amid the hundred million of his kind, the scrimmage of appetite everywhere.


by Delmore Schwartz | |

America America!

 I am a poet of the Hudson River and the heights above it,
 the lights, the stars, and the bridges
I am also by self-appointment the laureate of the Atlantic
 -of the peoples' hearts, crossing it 
 to new America.
I am burdened with the truck and chimera, hope, acquired in the sweating sick-excited passage in steerage, strange and estranged Hence I must descry and describe the kingdom of emotion.
For I am a poet of the kindergarten (in the city) and the cemetery (in the city) And rapture and ragtime and also the secret city in the heart and mind This is the song of the natural city self in the 20th century.
It is true but only partly true that a city is a "tyranny of numbers" (This is the chant of the urban metropolitan and metaphysical self After the first two World Wars of the 20th century) --- This is the city self, looking from window to lighted window When the squares and checks of faintly yellow light Shine at night, upon a huge dim board and slab-like tombs, Hiding many lives.
It is the city consciousness Which sees and says: more: more and more: always more.


by Delmore Schwartz | |

Parlez-Vous Francais?

 Caesar, the amplifier voice, announces
Crime and reparation.
In the barber shop Recumbent men attend, while absently The barber doffs the naked face with cream.
Caesar proposes, Caesar promises Pride, justice, and the sun Brilliant and strong on everyone, Speeding one hundred miles an hour across the land: Caesar declares the will.
The barber firmly Planes the stubble with a steady hand, While all in barber chairs reclining, In wet white faces, fully understand Good and evil, who is Gentile, weakness and command.
And now who enters quietly? Who is this one Shy, pale, and quite abstracted? Who is he? It is the writer merely, with a three-day beard, His tiredness not evident.
He wears no tie.
And now he hears his enemy and trembles, Resolving, speaks: "Ecoutez! La plupart des hommes Vivent des vies de desespoir silenciuex, Victimes des intentions innombrables.
Et ca Cet homme sait bien.
Les mots de cette voix sont Des songes et des mensonges.
Il prend choix, Il prend la volonte, il porte la fin d'ete.
La guerre.
Ecoutez-moi! Il porte la mort.
" He stands there speaking and they laugh to hear Rage and excitement from the foreigner.


by Delmore Schwartz | |

Phoenix Lyrics

 I

If nature is life, nature is death:
It is winter as it is spring:
Confusion is variety, variety
And confusion in everything
Make experience the true conclusion
Of all desire and opulence,
All satisfaction and poverty.
II When a hundred years had passed nature seemed to man a clock Another century sank away and nature seemed a jungle in a rock And now that nature has become a ticking and hidden bomb how we must mock Newton, Democritus, the Deity The heart's ingenuity and the mind's infinite uncontrollable insatiable curiosity.
III Purple black cloud at sunset: it is late August and the light begins to look cold, and as we look, listen and look, we hear the first drums of autumn.


by Delmore Schwartz | |

By Circumstances Fed

 By circumstances fed
Which divide attention
Among the living and the dead,
Under the blooms of the blossoming sun,
The gaze which is a tower towers
Day and night, hour by hour,
Critical of all and of one,
Dissatisfied with every flower
With all that's been done or undone,
Converting every feature
Into its own and unknown nature;
So, once in the drugstore,
Amid all the poppy, salve and ointment,
I suddenly saw, estranged there,
Beyond all disappointment,
My own face in the mirror.


by Delmore Schwartz | |

A Dream Of Whitman Paraphrased Recognized And Made More Vivid By Renoir

 Twenty-eight naked young women bathed by the shore
Or near the bank of a woodland lake
Twenty-eight girls and all of them comely
Worthy of Mack Sennett's camera and Florenz Ziegfield's
Foolish Follies.
They splashed and swam with the wondrous unconsciousness Of their youth and beauty In the full spontaneity and summer of the fieshes of awareness Heightened, intensified and softened By the soft and the silk of the waters Blooded made ready by the energy set afire by the nakedness of the body, Electrified: deified: undenied.
A young man of thirty years beholds them from a distance.
He lives in the dungeon of ten million dollars.
He is rich, handsome and empty standing behind the linen curtains Beholding them.
Which girl does he think most desirable, most beautiful? They are all equally beautiful and desirable from the gold distance.
For if poverty darkens discrimination and makes perception too vivid, The gold of wealth is also a form of blindness.
For has not a Frenchman said, Although this is America.
.
.
What he has said is not entirely relevant, That a naked woman is a proof of the existence of God.
Where is he going? Is he going to be among them to splash and to laugh with them? They did not see him although he saw them and was there among them.
He saw them as he would not have seen them had they been conscious Of him or conscious of men in complete depravation: This is his enchantment and impoverishment As he possesses them in gaze only.
.
.
.
He felt the wood secrecy, he knew the June softness The warmth surrounding him crackled Held in by the mansard roof mansion He glimpsed the shadowy light on last year's brittle leaves fallen, Looked over and overlooked, glimpsed by the fall of death, Winter's mourning and the May's renewal.


by Delmore Schwartz | |

O Love Sweet Animal

 O Love, dark animal,
With your strangeness go
Like any freak or clown:
Appease tee child in her
Because she is alone
Many years ago
Terrified by a look
Which was not meant for her.
Brush your heavy fur Against her, long and slow Stare at her like a book, Her interests being such No one can look too much.
Tell her how you know Nothing can be taken Which has not been given: For you time is forgiven: Informed by hell and heaven You are not mistaken


by Delmore Schwartz | |

A Young Child And His Pregnant Mother

 At four years Nature is mountainous,
Mysterious, and submarine.
Even A city child knows this, hearing the subway's Rumor underground.
Between the grate, Dropping his penny, he learned out all loss, The irretrievable cent of fate, And now this newest of the mysteries, Confronts his honest and his studious eyes---- His mother much too fat and absentminded, Gazing past his face, careless of him, His fume, his charm, his bedtime, and warm milk, As soon the night will be too dark, the spring Too late, desire strange, and time too fast, This estrangement is a gradual thing (His mother once so svelte, so often sick! Towering father did this: what a trick!) Explained to cautiously, containing fear, Another being's being, becoming dear: All men are enemies: thus even brothers Can separate each other from their mothers! No better example than this unborn brother Shall teach him of his exile from his mother, Measured by his distance from the sky, Spoken in two vowels, I am I.


by Delmore Schwartz | |

To Helen

 (After Valery)


O Sea! .
.
.
'Tis I, risen from death once more To hear the waves' harmonious roar And see the galleys, sharp, in dawn's great awe Raised from the dark by the rising and gold oar.
My fickle hands sufficed to summon kings Their salt beards amused my fingers, deft and pure.
I wept.
They sang of triumphs now obscure: And the first abyss flooded the hull as if with falling wings.
I hear the profound horns and trumpets of war Matching the rhythm, swinging of the flying oars: The galleys' chant enchains the foam of sound; And the gods, exalted at the heroic prow, E'en though the spit of spray insults each smiling brow, Beckon to me, with arms indulgent, frozen, sculptured, and dead long long ago.


by Delmore Schwartz | |

Sonnet On Famous And Familiar Sonnets And Experiences

 (With much help from Robert Good, William Shakespeare, 
John Milton, and little Catherine Schwartz) 


Shall I compare her to a summer play?
She is too clever, too devious, too subtle, too dark:
Her lies are rare, but then she paves the way
Beyond the summer's sway, within the jejune park
Where all souls' aspiration to true nobility
Obliges Statues in the Frieze of Death
And when this pantomime and Panama of Panorama Fails,
"I'll never speak to you agayne" -- or waste her panting breath.
When I but think of how her years are spent Deadening that one talent which -- for woman is -- Death or paralysis, denied: nature's intent That each girl be a mother -- whether or not she is Or has become a lawful wife or bride -- 0 Alma Magna Mater, deathless the living death of pride.


by Delmore Schwartz | |

What Curious Dresses All Men Wear

 What curious dresses all men wear!
The walker you met in a brown study,
The President smug in rotogravure,
The mannequin, the bathing beauty.
The bubble-dancer, the deep-sea diver, The bureaucrat, the adulterer, Hide private parts which I disclose To those who know what a poem knows.


by Delmore Schwartz | |

Occasional Poems

 I Christmas Poem for Nancy

Noel, Noel
We live and we die
Between heaven and hell
Between the earth and the sky
And all shall be well
And all shall be unwell
And once again! all shall once again!
 All shall be well
By the ringing and the swinging
 of the great beautiful holiday bell
Of Noel! Noel!

II Salute Valentine

I'll drink to thee only with my eyes
When two are three and four,
And guzzle reality's rise and cries
And praise the truth beyond surmise
When small shots shout: More! More! More! More!

III Rabbi to Preach

Rabbi Robert Raaba will preach
 on "An Eye for an Eye"
 (an I for an I?)
(Two weeks from this week: "On the Sacred Would")
At Temple Sholem on Lake Shore Drive
- Pavel Slavensky will chant the liturgical responses
And William Leon, having now thirteen years
 will thank his parents that he exists
To celebrate his birthday of manhood, his chocolate 
Bar Mitzvah, his yum-yum kippered herring, his Russian
 Corona.


by Delmore Schwartz | |

Love And Marilyn Monroe

 (after Spillane)


Let us be aware of the true dark gods
Acknowledgeing the cache of the crotch
The primitive pure and pwerful pink and grey
 private sensitivites
Wincing, marvelous in their sweetness, whence rises
 the future.
Therefore let us praise Miss Marilyn Monroe.
She has a noble attitude marked by pride and candor She takes a noble pride in the female nature and torso She articualtes her pride with directness and exuberance She is honest in her delight in womanhood and manhood.
She is not a great lady, she is more than a lady, She continues the tradition of Dolly Madison and Clara Bow When she says, "any woman who claims she does not like to be grabbed is a liar!" Whether true or false, this colossal remark states a dazzling intention.
.
.
It might be the birth of a new Venus among us It atones at the very least for such as Carrie Nation For Miss Monroe will never be a blue nose, and perhaps we may hope That there will be fewer blue noses because she has flourished -- Long may she flourish in self-delight and the joy of womanhood.
A nation haunted by Puritanism owes her homage and gratitude.
Let us praise, to say it again, her spiritual pride And admire one who delights in what she has and is (Who says also: "A woman is like a motor car: She needs a good body.
" And: "I sun bathe in the nude, because I want to be blonde all over.
") This is spiritual piety and physical ebullience This is vivd glory, spiritual and physical, Of Miss Marilyn Monroe.


by Delmore Schwartz | |

Late Autumn In Venice

 (After Rilke)


The city floats no longer like a bait
To hook the nimble darting summer days.
The glazed and brittle palaces pulsate and radiate And glitter.
Summer's garden sways, A heap of marionettes hanging down and dangled, Leaves tired, torn, turned upside down and strangled: Until from forest depths, from bony leafless trees A will wakens: the admiral, lolling long at ease, Has been commanded, overnight -- suddenly --: In the first dawn, all galleys put to sea! Waking then in autumn chill, amid the harbor medley, The fragrance of pitch, pennants aloft, the butt Of oars, all sails unfurled, the fleet Awaits the great wind, radiant and deadly.


by Delmore Schwartz | |

Calmly We Walk Through This Aprils Day

 Calmly we walk through this April's day,
Metropolitan poetry here and there,
In the park sit pauper and rentier,
The screaming children, the motor-car
Fugitive about us, running away,
Between the worker and the millionaire
Number provides all distances,
It is Nineteen Thirty-Seven now,
Many great dears are taken away,
What will become of you and me
(This is the school in which we learn.
.
.
) Besides the photo and the memory? (.
.
.
that time is the fire in which we burn.
) (This is the school in which we learn.
.
.
) What is the self amid this blaze? What am I now that I was then Which I shall suffer and act again, The theodicy I wrote in my high school days Restored all life from infancy, The children shouting are bright as they run (This is the school in which they learn .
.
.
) Ravished entirely in their passing play! (.
.
.
that time is the fire in which they burn.
) Avid its rush, that reeling blaze! Where is my father and Eleanor? Not where are they now, dead seven years, But what they were then? No more? No more? From Nineteen-Fourteen to the present day, Bert Spira and Rhoda consume, consume Not where they are now (where are they now?) But what they were then, both beautiful; Each minute bursts in the burning room, The great globe reels in the solar fire, Spinning the trivial and unique away.
(How all things flash! How all things flare!) What am I now that I was then? May memory restore again and again The smallest color of the smallest day: Time is the school in which we learn, Time is the fire in which we burn.


by Delmore Schwartz | |

At This Moment Of Time

 Some who are uncertain compel me.
They fear The Ace of Spades.
They fear Loves offered suddenly, turning from the mantelpiece, Sweet with decision.
And they distrust The fireworks by the lakeside, first the spuft, Then the colored lights, rising.
Tentative, hesitant, doubtful, they consume Greedily Caesar at the prow returning, Locked in the stone of his act and office.
While the brass band brightly bursts over the water They stand in the crowd lining the shore Aware of the water beneath Him.
They know it.
Their eyes Are haunted by water Disturb me, compel me.
It is not true That "no man is happy," but that is not The sense which guides you.
If we are Unfinished (we are, unless hope is a bad dream), You are exact.
You tug my sleeve Before I speak, with a shadow's friendship, And I remember that we who move Are moved by clouds that darken midnight.


by Delmore Schwartz | |

Albert Einstein To Archibald Macleish

 I should have been a plumber fixing drains.
And mending pure white bathtubs for the great Diogenes (who scorned all lies, all liars, and all tyrannies), And then, perhaps, he would bestow on me -- majesty! (O modesty aside, forgive my fallen pride, O hidden majesty, The lamp, the lantern, the lucid light he sought for All too often -- sick humanity!)


by Delmore Schwartz | |

The Ballet Of The Fifth Year

 Where the sea gulls sleep or indeed where they fly
Is a place of different traffic.
Although I Consider the fishing bay (where I see them dip and curve And purely glide) a place that weakens the nerve Of will, and closes my eyes, as they should not be (They should burn like the street-light all night quietly, So that whatever is present will be known to me), Nevertheless the gulls and the imagination Of where they sleep, which comes to creation In strict shape and color, from their dallying Their wings slowly, and suddenly rallying Over, up, down the arabesque of descent, Is an old act enacted, my fabulous intent When I skated, afraid of policemen, five years old, In the winter sunset, sorrowful and cold, Hardly attained to thought, but old enough to know Such grace, so self-contained, was the best escape to know.


by Delmore Schwartz | |

The Beautiful American Word Sure

 The beautiful American word, Sure,
As I have come into a room, and touch
The lamp's button, and the light blooms with such
Certainty where the darkness loomed before,

As I care for what I do not know, and care
Knowing for little she might not have been,
And for how little she would be unseen,
The intercourse of lives miraculous and dear.
Where the light is, and each thing clear, separate from all others, standing in its place, I drink the time and touch whatever's near, And hope for day when the whole world has that face: For what assures her present every year? In dark accidents the mind's sufficient grace.


by Delmore Schwartz | |

Sonnet: The Ghosts Of James And Peirce In Harvard Yard

 In memory of D.
W.
Prall The ghosts of James and Peirce in Harvard Yard At star-pierced midnight, after the chapel bell (Episcopalian! palian! the ringing soared!) Stare at me now as if they wish me well.
In the waking dream amid the trees which fall, Bar and bough of shadow, by my shadow crossed, They have not slept for long and they know all, Know time's exhaustion and the spirit's cost.
"We studied the radiant sun, the star's pure seed: Darkness is infinite! The blind can see Hatred's necessity and love's grave need Now that the poor are murdered across the sea, And you are ignorant, who hear the bell; Ignorant, you walk between heaven and hell.
"


by Delmore Schwartz | |

The Choir And Music Of Solitude And Silence

 Silence is a great blue bell
Swinging and ringing, tinkling and singing, 
In measure's pleasure, and in the supple symmetry
 of the soaring of the immense intense wings
 glinting against
All the blue radiance above us and within us, hidden
Save for the stars sparking, distant and unheard in their
 singing.
And this is the first meaning of the famous saying, The stars sang.
They are the white birds of silence And the meaning of the difficult famous saying that the sons and daughters of morning sang, Meant and means that they were and they are the children of God and morning, Delighting in the lights of becoming and the houses of being, Taking pleasure in measure and excess, in listening as in seeing.
Love is the most difficult and dangerous form of courage.
Courage is the most desperate, admirable and noble kind of love.
So that when the great blue bell of silence is stilled and stopped or broken By the babel and chaos of desire unrequited, irritated and frustrated, When the heart has opened and when the heart has spoken Not of the purity and symmetry of gratification, but action of insatiable distraction's dissatisfaction, Then the heart says, in all its blindness and faltering emptiness: There is no God.
Because I am hope.
And hope must be fed.
And then the great blue bell of silence is deafened, dumbed, and has become the tomb of the living dead.