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Best Famous Sidney Lanier Poems

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

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Written by Sidney Lanier |

Night

 A pale enchanted moon is sinking low
Behind the dunes that fringe the shadowy lea, 
And there is haunted starlight on the flow
Of immemorial sea.
I am alone and need no more pretend Laughter or smile to hide a hungry heart; I walk with solitude as with a friend Enfolded and apart.
We tread an eerie road across the moor Where shadows weave upon their ghostly looms, And winds sing an old lyric that might lure Sad queens from ancient tombs.
I am a sister to the loveliness Of cool far hill and long-remembered shore, Finding in it a sweet forgetfulness Of all that hurt before.
The world of day, its bitterness and cark, No longer have the power to make me weep; I welcome this communion of the dark As toilers welcome sleep.

Written by Sidney Lanier |

A Birthday Song. To S. G.

 For ever wave, for ever float and shine
Before my yearning eyes, oh! dream of mine
Wherein I dreamed that time was like a vine,

A creeping rose, that clomb a height of dread
Out of the sea of Birth, all filled with dead,
Up to the brilliant cloud of Death o'erhead.
This vine bore many blossoms, which were years.
Their petals, red with joy, or bleached by tears, Waved to and fro i' the winds of hopes and fears.
Here all men clung, each hanging by his spray.
Anon, one dropped; his neighbor 'gan to pray; And so they clung and dropped and prayed, alway.
But I did mark one lately-opened bloom, Wherefrom arose a visible perfume That wrapped me in a cloud of dainty gloom.
And rose -- an odor by a spirit haunted -- And drew me upward with a speed enchanted, Swift floating, by wild sea or sky undaunted, Straight through the cloud of death, where men are free.
I gained a height, and stayed and bent my knee.
Then glowed my cloud, and broke and unveiled thee.
"O flower-born and flower-souled!" I said, "Be the year-bloom that breathed thee ever red, Nor wither, yellow, down among the dead.
"May all that cling to sprays of time, like me, Be sweetly wafted over sky and sea By rose-breaths shrining maidens like to thee!" Then while we sat upon the height afar Came twilight, like a lover late from war, With soft winds fluting to his evening star.
And the shy stars grew bold and scattered gold, And chanting voices ancient secrets told, And an acclaim of angels earthward rolled.

Written by Sidney Lanier |

The Wedding

 O marriage-bells, your clamor tells
Two weddings in one breath.
SHE marries whom her love compels: -- And I wed Goodman Death! My brain is blank, my tears are red; Listen, O God: -- "I will," he said: -- And I would that I were dead.
Come groomsman Grief and bridesmaid Pain Come and stand with a ghastly twain.
My Bridegroom Death is come o'er the meres To wed a bride with bloody tears.
Ring, ring, O bells, full merrily: Life-bells to her, death-bells to me: O Death, I am true wife to thee!

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Written by Sidney Lanier |

The Bee

 What time I paced, at pleasant morn,
A deep and dewy wood,
I heard a mellow hunting-horn
Make dim report of Dian's lustihood
Far down a heavenly hollow.
Mine ear, though fain, had pain to follow: `Tara!' it twanged, `tara-tara!' it blew, Yet wavered oft, and flew Most ficklewise about, or here, or there, A music now from earth and now from air.
But on a sudden, lo! I marked a blossom shiver to and fro With dainty inward storm; and there within A down-drawn trump of yellow jessamine A bee Thrust up its sad-gold body lustily, All in a honey madness hotly bound On blissful burglary.
A cunning sound In that wing-music held me: down I lay In amber shades of many a golden spray, Where looping low with languid arms the Vine In wreaths of ravishment did overtwine Her kneeling Live-Oak, thousand-fold to plight Herself unto her own true stalwart knight.
As some dim blur of distant music nears The long-desiring sense, and slowly clears To forms of time and apprehensive tune, So, as I lay, full soon Interpretation throve: the bee's fanfare, Through sequent films of discourse vague as air, Passed to plain words, while, fanning faint perfume, The bee o'erhung a rich, unrifled bloom: "O Earth, fair lordly Blossom, soft a-shine Upon the star-pranked universal vine, Hast nought for me? To thee Come I, a poet, hereward haply blown, From out another worldflower lately flown.
Wilt ask, `What profit e'er a poet brings?' He beareth starry stuff about his wings To pollen thee and sting thee fertile: nay, If still thou narrow thy contracted way, -- Worldflower, if thou refuse me -- -- Worldflower, if thou abuse me, And hoist thy stamen's spear-point high To wound my wing and mar mine eye -- Nathless I'll drive me to thy deepest sweet, Yea, richlier shall that pain the pollen beat From me to thee, for oft these pollens be Fine dust from wars that poets wage for thee.
But, O beloved Earthbloom soft a-shine Upon the universal Jessamine, Prithee, abuse me not, Prithee, refuse me not, Yield, yield the heartsome honey love to me Hid in thy nectary!" And as I sank into a dimmer dream The pleading bee's song-burthen sole did seem: "Hast ne'er a honey-drop of love for me In thy huge nectary?"

Written by Sidney Lanier |

A Ballad Of The Trees And The Master

 Into the woods my Master went,
Clean forspent, forspent.
Into the woods my Master came, Forspent with love and shame.
But the olives they were not blind to Him, The little gray leaves were kind to Him: The thorn-tree had a mind to Him When into the woods He came.
Out of the woods my Master went, And He was well content.
Out of the woods my Master came, Content with death and shame.
When Death and Shame would woo Him last, From under the trees they drew Him last: 'Twas on a tree they slew Him -- last When out of the woods He came.

Written by Sidney Lanier |

Resurrection

 Sometimes in morning sunlights by the river
Where in the early fall long grasses wave,
Light winds from over the moorland sink and shiver
And sigh as if just blown across a grave.
And then I pause and listen to this sighing.
I look with strange eyes on the well-known stream.
I hear wild birth-cries uttered by the dying.
I know men waking who appear to dream.
Then from the water-lilies slow uprises The still vast face of all the life I know, Changed now, and full of wonders and surprises, With fire in eyes that once were glazed with snow.
Fair now the brows old Pain had erewhile wrinkled, And peace and strength about the calm mouth dwell.
Clean of the ashes that Repentance sprinkled, The meek head poises like a flower-bell.
All the old scars of wanton wars are vanished; And what blue bruises grappling Sense had left And sad remains of redder stains are banished, And the dim blotch of heart-committed theft.
O still vast vision of transfigured features Unvisited by secret crimes or dooms, Remain, remain amid these water-creatures, Stand, shine among yon water-lily blooms.
For eighteen centuries ripple down the river, And windy times the stalks of empires wave, -- Let the winds come from the moor and sigh and shiver, Fain, fain am I, O Christ, to pass the grave.

Written by Sidney Lanier |

My Springs

 In the heart of the Hills of Life, I know
Two springs that with unbroken flow
Forever pour their lucent streams
Into my soul's far Lake of Dreams.
Not larger than two eyes, they lie Beneath the many-changing sky And mirror all of life and time, -- Serene and dainty pantomime.
Shot through with lights of stars and dawns, And shadowed sweet by ferns and fawns, -- Thus heaven and earth together vie Their shining depths to sanctify.
Always when the large Form of Love Is hid by storms that rage above, I gaze in my two springs and see Love in his very verity.
Always when Faith with stifling stress Of grief hath died in bitterness, I gaze in my two springs and see A Faith that smiles immortally.
Always when Charity and Hope, In darkness bounden, feebly grope, I gaze in my two springs and see A Light that sets my captives free.
Always, when Art on perverse wing Flies where I cannot hear him sing, I gaze in my two springs and see A charm that brings him back to me.
When Labor faints, and Glory fails, And coy Reward in sighs exhales, I gaze in my two springs and see Attainment full and heavenly.
O Love, O Wife, thine eyes are they, -- My springs from out whose shining gray Issue the sweet celestial streams That feed my life's bright Lake of Dreams.
Oval and large and passion-pure And gray and wise and honor-sure; Soft as a dying violet-breath Yet calmly unafraid of death; Thronged, like two dove-cotes of gray doves, With wife's and mother's and poor-folk's loves, And home-loves and high glory-loves And science-loves and story-loves, And loves for all that God and man In art and nature make or plan, And lady-loves for spidery lace And broideries and supple grace And diamonds and the whole sweet round Of littles that large life compound, And loves for God and God's bare truth, And loves for Magdalen and Ruth, Dear eyes, dear eyes and rare complete -- Being heavenly-sweet and earthly-sweet, -- I marvel that God made you mine, For when He frowns, 'tis then ye shine!

Written by Sidney Lanier |

In Absence.

 I.
The storm that snapped our fate's one ship in twain Hath blown my half o' the wreck from thine apart.
O Love! O Love! across the gray-waved main To thee-ward strain my eyes, my arms, my heart.
I ask my God if e'en in His sweet place, Where, by one waving of a wistful wing, My soul could straightway tremble face to face With thee, with thee, across the stellar ring -- Yea, where thine absence I could ne'er bewail Longer than lasts that little blank of bliss When lips draw back, with recent pressure pale, To round and redden for another kiss -- Would not my lonesome heart still sigh for thee What time the drear kiss-intervals must be? II.
So do the mottled formulas of Sense Glide snakewise through our dreams of Aftertime; So errors breed in reeds and grasses dense That bank our singing rivulets of rhyme.
By Sense rule Space and Time; but in God's Land Their intervals are not, save such as lie Betwixt successive tones in concords bland Whose loving distance makes the harmony.
Ah, there shall never come 'twixt me and thee Gross dissonances of the mile, the year; But in the multichords of ecstasy Our souls shall mingle, yet be featured clear, And absence, wrought to intervals divine, Shall part, yet link, thy nature's tone and mine.
III.
Look down the shining peaks of all my days Base-hidden in the valleys of deep night, So shalt thou see the heights and depths of praise My love would render unto love's delight; For I would make each day an Alp sublime Of passionate snow, white-hot yet icy-clear, -- One crystal of the true-loves of all time Spiring the world's prismatic atmosphere; And I would make each night an awful vale Deep as thy soul, obscure as modesty, With every star in heaven trembling pale O'er sweet profounds where only Love can see.
Oh, runs not thus the lesson thou hast taught? -- When life's all love, 'tis life: aught else, 'tis naught.
IV.
Let no man say, `He at his lady's feet Lays worship that to Heaven alone belongs; Yea, swings the incense that for God is meet In flippant censers of light lover's songs.
' Who says it, knows not God, nor love, nor thee; For love is large as is yon heavenly dome: In love's great blue, each passion is full free To fly his favorite flight and build his home.
Did e'er a lark with skyward-pointing beak Stab by mischance a level-flying dove? Wife-love flies level, his dear mate to seek: God-love darts straight into the skies above.
Crossing, the windage of each other's wings But speeds them both upon their journeyings.

Written by Sidney Lanier |

An Evening Song.

 Look off, dear Love, across the sallow sands,
And mark yon meeting of the sun and sea,
How long they kiss in sight of all the lands.
Ah! longer, longer, we.
Now in the sea's red vintage melts the sun, As Egypt's pearl dissolved in rosy wine, And Cleopatra night drinks all.
'Tis done, Love, lay thine hand in mine.
Come forth, sweet stars, and comfort heaven's heart; Glimmer, ye waves, round else unlighted sands.
O night! divorce our sun and sky apart Never our lips, our hands.

Written by Sidney Lanier |

Nirvana

 not much chance,
completely cut loose from
purpose,
he was a young man
riding a bus
through North Carolina
on the wat to somewhere
and it began to snow
and the bus stopped 
at a little cafe
in the hills
and the passengers 
entered.
he sat at the counter with the others, he ordered and the food arived.
the meal was particularly good and the coffee.
the waitress was unlike the women he had known.
she was unaffected, there was a natural humor which came from her.
the fry cook said crazy things.
the dishwasher.
in back, laughed, a good clean pleasant laugh.
the young man watched the snow through the windows.
he wanted to stay in that cafe forever.
the curious feeling swam through him that everything was beautiful there, that it would always stay beautiful there.
then the bus driver told the passengers that it was time to board.
the young man thought, I'll just sit here, I'll just stay here.
but then he rose and followed the others into the bus.
he found his seat and looked at the cafe through the bus window.
then the bus moved off, down a curve, downward, out of the hills.
the young man looked straight foreward.
he heard the other passengers speaking of other things, or they were reading or attempting to sleep.
they had not noticed the magic.
the young man put his head to one side, closed his eyes, pretended to sleep.
there was nothing else to do- just to listen to the sound of the engine, the sound of the tires in the snow.

Written by Sidney Lanier |

Struggle

 My soul is like the oar that momently
Dies in a desperate stress beneath the wave,
Then glitters out again and sweeps the sea:
Each second I'm new-born from some new grave.

Written by Sidney Lanier |

Night

 Fair is the wedded reign of Night and Day.
Each rules a half of earth with different sway, Exchanging kingdoms, East and West, alway.
Like the round pearl that Egypt drunk in wine, The sun half sinks i' the brimming, rosy brine: The wild Night drinks all up: how her eyes shine! Now the swift sail of straining life is furled, And through the stillness of my soul is whirled The throbbing of the hearts of half the world.
I hear the cries that follow Birth and Death.
I hear huge Pestilence draw his vaporous breath: "Beware, prepare, or else ye die," he saith.
I hear a haggard student turn and sigh: I hear men begging Heaven to let them die: And, drowning all, a wild-eyed woman's cry.
So Night takes toll of Wisdom as of Sin.
The student's and the drunkard's cheek is thin: But flesh is not the prize we strive to win.
Now airy swarms of fluttering dreams descend On souls, like birds on trees, and have no end.
O God, from vulture-dreams my soul defend! Let fall on Her a rose-leaf rain of dreams, All passionate-sweet, as are the loving beams Of starlight on the glimmering woods and streams.

Written by Sidney Lanier |

Nirvana

 Through seas of dreams and seas of phantasies,
Through seas of solitudes and vacancies,
And through my Self, the deepest of the seas,
I strive to thee, Nirvana.
Oh long ago the billow-flow of sense, Aroused by passion's windy vehemence, Upbore me out of depths to heights intense, But not to thee, Nirvana.
By waves swept on, I learned to ride the waves.
I served my masters till I made them slaves.
I baffled Death by hiding in his graves, His watery graves, Nirvana.
And once I clomb a mountain's stony crown And stood, and smiled no smile and frowned no frown, Nor ate, nor drank, nor slept, nor faltered down, Five days and nights, Nirvana.
Sunrise and noon and sunset and strange night And shadow of large clouds and faint starlight And lonesome Terror stalking round the height, I minded not, Nirvana.
The silence ground my soul keen like a spear.
My bare thought, whetted as a sword, cut sheer Through time and life and flesh and death, to clear My way unto Nirvana.
I slew gross bodies of old ethnic hates That stirred long race-wars betwixt States and States.
I stood and scorned these foolish dead debates, Calmly, calmly, Nirvana.
I smote away the filmy base of Caste.
I thrust through antique blood and riches vast, And all big claims of the pretentious Past That hindered my Nirvana.
Then all fair types, of form and sound and hue, Up-floated round my sense and charmed anew.
-- I waved them back into the void blue: I love them not, Nirvana.
And all outrageous ugliness of time, Excess and Blasphemy and squinting Crime Beset me, but I kept my calm sublime: I hate them not, Nirvana.
High on the topmost thrilling of the surge I saw, afar, two hosts to battle urge.
The widows of the victors sang a dirge, But I wept not, Nirvana.
I saw two lovers sitting on a star.
He kissed her lip, she kissed his battle-scar.
They quarrelled soon, and went two ways, afar.
O Life! I laughed, Nirvana.
And never a king but had some king above, And never a law to right the wrongs of Love, And ever a fanged snake beneath a dove, Saw I on earth, Nirvana.
But I, with kingship over kings, am free.
I love not, hate not: right and wrong agree: And fangs of snakes and lures of doves to me Are vain, are vain, Nirvana.
So by mine inner contemplation long, By thoughts that need no speech nor oath nor song, My spirit soars above the motley throng Of days and nights, Nirvana.
O Suns, O Rains, O Day and Night, O Chance, O Time besprent with seven-hued circumstance, I float above ye all into the trance That draws me nigh Nirvana.
Gods of small worlds, ye little Deities Of humble Heavens under my large skies, And Governor-Spirits, all, I rise, I rise, I rise into Nirvana.
The storms of Self below me rage and die.
On the still bosom of mine ecstasy, A lotus on a lake of balm, I lie Forever in Nirvana.

Written by Sidney Lanier |

Night and Day

 When the golden day is done, 
Through the closing portal, 
Child and garden, Flower and sun, 
Vanish all things mortal.
As the blinding shadows fall As the rays diminish, Under evening's cloak they all Roll away and vanish.
Garden darkened, daisy shut, Child in bed, they slumber-- Glow-worm in the hallway rut, Mice among the lumber.
In the darkness houses shine, Parents move the candles; Till on all the night divine Turns the bedroom handles.
Till at last the day begins In the east a-breaking, In the hedges and the whins Sleeping birds a-waking.
In the darkness shapes of things, Houses, trees and hedges, Clearer grow; and sparrow's wings Beat on window ledges.
These shall wake the yawning maid; She the door shall open-- Finding dew on garden glade And the morning broken.
There my garden grows again Green and rosy painted, As at eve behind the pane From my eyes it fainted.
Just as it was shut away, Toy-like, in the even, Here I see it glow with day Under glowing heaven.
Every path and every plot, Every blush of roses, Every blue forget-me-not Where the dew reposes, "Up!" they cry, "the day is come On the smiling valleys: We have beat the morning drum; Playmate, join your allies!"

Written by Sidney Lanier |

To Beethoven

 In o'er-strict calyx lingering,
Lay music's bud too long unblown,
Till thou, Beethoven, breathed the spring:
Then bloomed the perfect rose of tone.
O Psalmist of the weak, the strong, O Troubadour of love and strife, Co-Litanist of right and wrong, Sole Hymner of the whole of life, I know not how, I care not why, -- Thy music sets my world at ease, And melts my passion's mortal cry In satisfying symphonies.
It soothes my accusations sour 'Gainst thoughts that fray the restless soul: The stain of death; the pain of power; The lack of love 'twixt part and whole; The yea-nay of Freewill and Fate, Whereof both cannot be, yet are; The praise a poet wins too late Who starves from earth into a star; The lies that serve great parties well, While truths but give their Christ a cross; The loves that send warm souls to hell, While cold-blood neuters take no loss; Th' indifferent smile that nature's grace On Jesus, Judas, pours alike; Th' indifferent frown on nature's face When luminous lightnings strangely strike The sailor praying on his knees And spare his mate that's cursing God; How babes and widows starve and freeze, Yet Nature will not stir a clod; Why Nature blinds us in each act Yet makes no law in mercy bend, No pitfall from our feet retract, No storm cry out `Take shelter, friend;' Why snakes that crawl the earth should ply Rattles, that whoso hears may shun, While serpent lightnings in the sky, But rattle when the deed is done; How truth can e'er be good for them That have not eyes to bear its strength, And yet how stern our lights condemn Delays that lend the darkness length; To know all things, save knowingness; To grasp, yet loosen, feeling's rein; To waste no manhood on success; To look with pleasure upon pain; Though teased by small mixt social claims, To lose no large simplicity, And midst of clear-seen crimes and shames To move with manly purity; To hold, with keen, yet loving eyes, Art's realm from Cleverness apart, To know the Clever good and wise, Yet haunt the lonesome heights of Art; O Psalmist of the weak, the strong, O Troubadour of love and strife, Co-Litanist of right and wrong, Sole Hymner of the whole of life, I know not how, I care not why, Thy music brings this broil at ease, And melts my passion's mortal cry In satisfying symphonies.
Yea, it forgives me all my sins, Fits life to love like rhyme to rhyme, And tunes the task each day begins By the last trumpet-note of Time.