Emily Dickinson |
This Consciousness that is aware
Of Neighbors and the Sun
Will be the one aware of Death
And that itself alone
Is traversing the interval
And most profound experiment
Appointed unto Men --
How adequate unto itself
Its properties shall be
Itself unto itself and none
Shall make discovery.
Adventure most unto itself
The Soul condemned to be --
Attended by a single Hound
Its own identity.
Henry Van Dyke |
Let me but live my life from year to year,
With forward face and unreluctant soul;
Not hurrying to, nor turning from the goal;
Not mourning for the things that disappear
In the dim past, nor holding back in fear
From what the future veils; but with a whole
And happy heart, that pays its toll
To Youth and Age, and travels on with cheer.
So let the way wind up the hill or down,
O'er rough or smooth, the journey will be joy:
Still seeking what I sought when but a boy,
New friendship, high adventure, and a crown,
My heart will keep the courage of the quest,
And hope the road's last turn will be the best.
Raymond Carver |
It's what the kids nowadays call weed.
And it drifts
like clouds from his lips.
He hopes no one
comes along tonight, or calls to ask for help.
Help is what he's most short on tonight.
A storm thrashes outside.
with gale winds from the west.
The table he sits at
is, say, two cubits long and one wide.
The darkness in the room teems with insight.
Could be he'll write an adventure novel.
a children's story.
A play for two female characters,
one of whom is blind.
Cutthroat should be coming
into the river.
One thing he'll do is learn
to tie his own flies.
Maybe he should give
more money to each of his surviving
The ones who already expect a little
something in the mail first of each month.
Every time they write they tell him
they're coming up short.
He counts heads on his fingers
and finds they're all survivng.
if he'd rather be remembered in the dreams of strangers?
He raises his eyes to the skylights where rain
After a while --
who knows how long? -- his eyes ask
that they be closed.
And he closes them.
But the rain keeps hammering.
Is this a cloudburst?
Should he do something? Secure the house
in some way? Uncle Bo stayed married to Aunt Ruby for 47 years.
Then hanged himself.
He opens his eyes again.
Nothing adds up.
It all adds up.
How long will this storm go on?
More great poems below...
Constantine P Cavafy |
As you set out for Ithaka
hope your road is a long one,
full of adventure, full of discovery.
angry Poseidon-don't be afraid of them:
you'll never find things like that on your way
as long as you keep your thoughts raised high,
as long as a rare excitement
stirs your spirit and your body.
wild Poseidon-you won't encounter them
unless you bring them along inside your soul,
unless your soul sets them up in front of you.
Hope your road is a long one.
May there be many summer mornings when,
with what pleasure, what joy,
you enter harbors you're seeing for the first time;
may you stop at Phoenician trading stations
to buy fine things,
mother of pearl and coral, amber and ebony,
sensual perfume of every kind-
as many sensual perfumes as you can;
and may you visit many Egyptian cities
to learn and go on learning from their scholars.
Keep Ithaka always in your mind.
Arriving there is what you're destined for.
But don't hurry the journey at all.
Better if it lasts for years,
so you're old by the time you reach the island,
wealthy with all you've gained on the way,
not expecting Ithaka to make you rich.
Ithaka gave you the marvelous journey.
Without her you wouldn't have set out.
She has nothing left to give you now.
And if you find her poor, Ithaka won't have fooled you.
Wise as you will have become, so full of experience,
you'll have understood by then what these Ithakas mean.
Adelaide Crapsey |
Sun and wind and beat of sea,
Great lands stretching endlessly…
Where be bonds to bind the free?
All the world was made for me!
Robert William Service |
"Let's make him a sailor," said Father,
"And he will adventure the sea.
"A soldier," said Mother, "is rather
What I would prefer him to be.
"A lawyer," said Father, "would please me,
For then he could draw up my will.
"A doctor," said Mother, "would ease me;
Maybe he could give me a pill.
Said Father: "Lt's make him a curate,
A Bishop in gaiters to be.
Said Mother: "I couldn't endure it
To have Willie preaching to me.
Said Father: ""Let him be a poet;
So often he's gathering wool.
Said Mother with temper: "Oh stow it!
You know it, a poet's a fool.
Said Farther: "Your son is a duffer,
A stupid and mischievous elf.
Said Mother, who's rather a huffer:
"That's right - he takes after yourself.
Controlling parental emotion
They turned to me, seeking a cue,
And sudden conceived the bright notion
To ask what I wanted to do.
Said I: "my ambition is modest:
A clown in a circus I'd be,
And turn somersaults in the sawdust
With audience laughing at me.
Poor parents! they're dead and decaying,
But I am a clown as you see;
And though in no circus I'm playing,
How people are laughing at me!
Robert Louis Stevenson |
Three of us afloat in the meadow by the swing,
Three of us abroad in the basket on the lea.
Winds are in the air, they are blowing in the spring,
And waves are on the meadow like the waves there are at sea.
Where shall we adventure, to-day that we're afloat,
Wary of the weather and steering by a star?
Shall it be to Africa, a-steering of the boat,
To Providence, or Babylon or off to Malabar?
Hi! but here's a squadron a-rowing on the sea--
Cattle on the meadow a-charging with a roar!
Quick, and we'll escape them, they're as mad as they can be,
The wicket is the harbour and the garden is the shore.
Robert William Service |
The same old sprint in the morning, boys, to the same old din and smut;
Chained all day to the same old desk, down in the same old rut;
Posting the same old greasy books, catching the same old train:
Oh, how will I manage to stick it all, if I ever get back again?
We've bidden good-bye to life in a cage, we're finished with pushing a pen;
They're pumping us full of bellicose rage, they're showing us how to be men.
We're only beginning to find ourselves; we're wonders of brawn and thew;
But when we go back to our Sissy jobs, -- oh, what are we going to do?
For shoulders curved with the counter stoop will be carried erect and square;
And faces white from the office light will be bronzed by the open air;
And we'll walk with the stride of a new-born pride, with a new-found joy in our eyes,
Scornful men who have diced with death under the naked skies.
And when we get back to the dreary grind, and the bald-headed boss's call,
Don't you think that the dingy window-blind, and the dingier office wall,
Will suddenly melt to a vision of space, of violent, flame-scarred night?
oh, the joy of the danger-thrill, and oh, the roar of the fight!
Don't you think as we peddle a card of pins the counter will fade away,
And again we'll be seeing the sand-bag rims, and the barb-wire's misty grey?
As a flat voice asks for a pound of tea, don't you fancy we'll hear instead
The night-wind moan and the soothing drone of the packet that's overhead?
Don't you guess that the things we're seeing now will haunt us through all the years;
Heaven and hell rolled into one, glory and blood and tears;
Life's pattern picked with a scarlet thread, where once we wove with a grey
To remind us all how we played our part in the shock of an epic day?
Oh, we're booked for the Great Adventure now, we're pledged to the Real Romance;
We'll find ourselves or we'll lose ourselves somewhere in giddy old France;
We'll know the zest of the fighter's life; the best that we have we'll give;
We'll hunger and thirst; we'll die .
but first -- we'll live; by the gods, we'll live!
We'll breathe free air and we'll bivouac under the starry sky;
We'll march with men and we'll fight with men, and we'll see men laugh and die;
We'll know such joy as we never dreamed; we'll fathom the deeps of pain:
But the hardest bit of it all will be -- when we come back home again.
For some of us smirk in a chiffon shop, and some of us teach in a school;
Some of us help with the seat of our pants to polish an office stool;
The merits of somebody's soap or jam some of us seek to explain,
But all of us wonder what we'll do when we have to go back again.
Dylan Thomas |
Before I knocked and flesh let enter,
With liquid hands tapped on the womb,
I who was as shapeless as the water
That shaped the Jordan near my home
Was brother to Mnetha's daughter
And sister to the fathering worm.
I who was deaf to spring and summer,
Who knew not sun nor moon by name,
Felt thud beneath my flesh's armour,
As yet was in a molten form
The leaden stars, the rainy hammer
Swung by my father from his dome.
I knew the message of the winter,
The darted hail, the childish snow,
And the wind was my sister suitor;
Wind in me leaped, the hellborn dew;
My veins flowed with the Eastern weather;
Ungotten I knew night and day.
As yet ungotten, I did suffer;
The rack of dreams my lily bones
Did twist into a living cipher,
And flesh was snipped to cross the lines
Of gallow crosses on the liver
And brambles in the wringing brains.
My throat knew thirst before the structure
Of skin and vein around the well
Where words and water make a mixture
Unfailing till the blood runs foul;
My heart knew love, my belly hunger;
I smelt the maggot in my stool.
And time cast forth my mortal creature
To drift or drown upon the seas
Acquainted with the salt adventure
Of tides that never touch the shores.
I who was rich was made the richer
By sipping at the vine of days.
I, born of flesh and ghost, was neither
A ghost nor man, but mortal ghost.
And I was struck down by death's feather.
I was a mortal to the last
Long breath that carried to my father
The message of his dying christ.
You who bow down at cross and altar,
Remember me and pity Him
Who took my flesh and bone for armour
And doublecrossed my mother's womb.
Robert William Service |
Out of the wood my White Knight came:
His eyes were bright with a bitter flame,
As I clung to his stirrup leather;
For I was only a dreaming lad,
Yet oh, what a wonderful faith I had!
And the song in my heart was never so glad,
As we took to the trail together.
"Friends and lovers, good-bye," I said;
Never once did I turn my head,
Though wickedly wild the weather
min were the rover's rags and scars,
And the rover's bed beneath the stars,
But never the shadow of prison bars,
As we ranged the world together.
Dreary and darkling was the trail,
But my Knight was clad in a gleaming mail,
And he plucked from his plume a feather.
And oh how foolishly proud was I!
"I'll wear it," I told him, "till I die;
Freemen we'll be of sea and sky,
To the ends of the earth together.
Yet now I know by my failing breath
I'm ripe for the last adventure, Death,
And I've reached the end of my tether:
But my Knight of the shining mail is there,
And his eyes are bright and he bids me dare:
So into the Dark let's boldly fare,
Into the Dark .
William Carlos (WCW) Williams |
The pure products of America
mountain folk from Kentucky
or the ribbed north end of
with its isolate lakes and
valleys, its deaf-mutes, thieves
and promiscuity between
devil-may-care men who have taken
out of sheer lust of adventure—
and young slatterns, bathed
from Monday to Saturday
to be tricked out that night
from imaginations which have no
peasant traditions to give them
but flutter and flaunt
sheer rags-succumbing without
save numbed terror
under some hedge of choke-cherry
which they cannot express—
Unless it be that marriage
with a dash of Indian blood
will throw up a girl so desolate
so hemmed round
with disease or murder
that she'll be rescued by an
reared by the state and
sent out at fifteen to work in
house in the suburbs—
some doctor's family, some Elsie—
expressing with broken
brain the truth about us—
ungainly hips and flopping breasts
addressed to cheap
and rich young men with fine eyes
as if the earth under our feet
an excrement of some sky
and we degraded prisoners
to hunger until we eat filth
while the imagination strains
going by fields of goldenrod in
the stifling heat of September
it seems to destroy us
It is only in isolate flecks that
is given off
and adjust, no one to drive the car
Belinda Subraman |
I remember India:
palm trees, monkey families,
fresh lime juice in the streets,
the sensual inundation
of sights and smells
and excess in everything.
I was exotic and believable there.
I was walking through dirt
in my sari,
to temples of the deities
following the lead
of my Indian in-laws.
I was scooping up fire with my hands,
glancing at idols that held no meaning for me,
being marked by the ash.
They smiled at the Western woman,
acting religious, knowing
it was my way of showing respect.
It was an adventure for me
but an arm around their culture for them.
To me it was living a dream
I knew I could wake up from.
To them it was the willingness
to be Indian that pleased.
We were holding hands
across a cultural cosmos,
knowing there were no differences
hearts could not soothe.
They accepted me
as I accepted them,
baffled but in love
with our wedded mystery.
Ogden Nash |
How pleasant to sit on the beach,
On the beach, on the sand, in the sun,
With ocean galore within reach,
And nothing at all to be done!
No letters to answer,
No bills to be burned,
No work to be shirked,
No cash to be earned,
It is pleasant to sit on the beach
With nothing at all to be done!
How pleasant to look at the ocean,
Democratic and damp; indiscriminate;
It fills me with noble emotion
To think I am able to swim in it.
To lave in the wave,
Majestic and chilly,
Tomorrow I crave;
But today it is silly.
It is pleasant to look at the ocean;
Tomorrow, perhaps, I shall swim in it.
How pleasant to gaze at the sailors
As their sailboats they manfully sail
With the vigor of vikings and whalers
In the days of the vikings and whale.
They sport on the brink
Of the shad and the shark;
If it’s windy, they sink;
If it isn’t, they park.
It is pleasant to gaze at the sailors,
To gaze without having to sail.
How pleasant the salt anesthetic
Of the air and the sand and the sun;
Leave the earth to the strong and athletic,
And the sea to adventure upon.
But the sun and the sand
No contractor can copy;
We lie in the land
Of the lotus and poppy;
We vegetate, calm and aesthetic,
On the beach, on the sand, in the sun.
Marriott Edgar |
Would you hear a Wild tale of adventure
Of a hero who tackled the sea,
A super-man swimming the ocean,
Then hark to the tale of Joe Lee.
Our Channel, our own Straits of Dover
Had heen swum by an alien lot:
Our British-born swimmers had tried it,
But that was as far as they'd got.
So great was the outcry in England,
Darts Players neglected their beer,
And the Chanc'Ior proclaimed from the Woolsack
As Joe Lee were the chap for this 'ere.
For in swimming baths all round the country
Joe were noted for daring and strength;
Quite often he'd dived in the deep end,
And thought nothing of swimming a length.
So they wrote him, C/o Workhouse Master,
Joe were spending the summer with him,
And promised him two Christmas puddings
If over the Channel he'd swim.
Joe jumped into t' breach like an 'ero,
He said, "All their fears I'll relieve,
And it isn't their puddings I'm after,
As I told them last Christmas Eve.
"Though many have tackled the Channel
From Grisnez to Dover that is,
For the honour and glory of England
I'll swim from Dover to Gris-niz.
As soon as his words were made public
The newspapers gathered around
And offered to give him a pension
If he lost both his legs and got drowned.
He borrowed a tug from the Navy
To swim in the shelter alee,
The Wireless folk lent him a wavelength,
And the Water Board lent him the sea.
His wife strapped a mascot around him,
The tears to his eyes gently stole;
'Twere some guiness corks she had collected
And stitched to an old camisole.
He entered the water at daybreak,
A man with a camera stood near,
He said "Hurry up and get in, lad,
You're spoiling my view of the pier.
At last he were in, he were swimming
With a beautiful overarm stroke,
When the men on the tug saw with horror
That the rope he were tied to had broke.
Then down came a fog, thick as treacle,
The tug looked so distant and dim
A voice shouted "Help, I am drowning,"
Joe listened and found it were him.
The tug circled round till they found him,
They hauled him aboard like a sack,
Tied a new tow-rope around him,
Smacked him and then threw him back.
'Twere at sunset, or just a bit later,
That he realized all wasn't right,
For the tow-rope were trailing behind him
And the noose round his waist getting tight.
One hasty glance over his shoulder,
He saw in a flash what were wrong.
The Captain had shut off his engine,
Joe were towing the Tugboat along.
On and on through the darkness he paddled
Till he knew he were very near in
By the way he kept bumping the bottom
And hitting the stones with his chin.
Was it Grisniz he'd reached?.
No, it wasn't,
The treacherous tide in its track
Had carried him half-way to Blackpool
And he had to walk all the way back.
Federico Garcia Lorca |
Playing her parchment moon
along a watery path of laurels and crystal lights.
The starless silence, fleeing
from her rhythmic tambourine,
falls where the sea whips and sings,
his night filled with silvery swarms.
High atop the mountain peaks
the sentinels are weeping;
they guard the tall white towers
of the English consulate.
And gypsies of the water
for their pleasure erect
little castles of conch shells
and arbors of greening pine.
Playing her parchment moon
The wind sees her and rises,
the wind that never slumbers.
Naked Saint Christopher swells,
watching the girl as he plays
with tongues of celestial bells
on an invisible bagpipe.
Gypsy, let me lift your skirt
and have a look at you.
Open in my ancient fingers
the blue rose of your womb.
Precosia throws the tambourine
and runs away in terror.
But the virile wind pursues her
with his breathing and burning sword.
The sea darkens and roars,
while the olive trees turn pale.
The flutes of darkness sound,
and a muted gong of the snow.
Precosia, run, Precosia!
Or the green wind will catch you!
Precosia, run, Precosia!
And look how fast he comes!
A satyr of low-born stars
with their long and glistening tongues.
Precosia, filled with fear,
now makes her way to that house
beyond the tall green pines
where the English consul lives.
Alarmed by the anguished cries,
three riflemen come running,
their black capes tightly drawn,
and berets down over their brow.
The Englishman gives the gypsy
a glass of tepid milk
and a shot of Holland gin
which Precosia does not drink.
And while she tells them, weeping,
of her strange adventure,
the wind furiously gnashes
against the slate roof tiles.