W S Merwin | |
Every year without knowing it I have passed the day
When the last fires will wave to me
And the silence will set out
Like the beam of a lightless star
Then I will no longer
Find myself in life as in a strange garment
Surprised at the earth
And the love of one woman
And then shamelessness of men
As today writing after three days of rain
Hearing the wren sing and the falling cease
And bowing not knowing to what
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe | |
[This little song describes the different members
of the party just spoken of.
WHY pacest thou, my neighbour fair,
The garden all alone?
If house and land thou seek'st to guard,
I'd thee as mistress own.
My brother sought the cellar-maid,
And suffered her no rest;
She gave him a refreshing draught,
A kiss, too, she impress'd.
My cousin is a prudent wight,
The cook's by him ador'd;
He turns the spit round ceaselessly,
To gain love's sweet reward.
We six together then began
A banquet to consume,
When lo! a fourth pair singing came,
And danced into the room.
Welcome were they,--and welcome too
Was a fifth jovial pair.
Brimful of news, and stored with tales
And jests both new and rare.
For riddles, spirit, raillery,
And wit, a place remain'd;
A sixth pair then our circle join'd,
And so that prize was gain'd.
And yet to make us truly blest,
One miss'd we, and full sore;
A true and tender couple came,--
We needed them no more.
The social banquet now goes on,
Unchequer'd by alloy;
The sacred double-numbers then
Let us at once enjoy!
Edwin Arlington Robinson | |
"You thought we knew," she said, "but we were wrong.
This we can say, the rest we do not say;
Nor do I let you throw yourself away
Because you love me.
Let us both be strong,
And we shall find in sorrow, before long,
Only the price Love ruled that we should pay:
The dark is the end of every day,
And silence is the end of every song.
"You ask me for one more proof that I speak right,
But I can answer only what I know;
You look for just one lie to make black white,
But I can tell you only what is true--
God never made me for the wife of you.
This we can say,--believe me! .
Tell me so!"
"Give me the truth, whatever it may be.
You thought we knew, but now tell me what you miss:
You are the one to tell me what it is--
You are a man, and you have married me.
What is it worth to-night that you can see
More marriage in the dream of one dead kiss
Than in a thousand years of life like this?
Passion has turned the lock.
Pride keeps the key.
"Whatever I have said or left unsaid,
Whatever I have done or left undone,--
Tell me the truth .
Are you afraid?
Do you think that Love was ever fed with lies
But hunger lived thereafter in his eyes?
Do you ask me to take moonlight for the sun?"
More great poems below...
Dylan Thomas | |
The sky is torn across
This ragged anniversary of two
Who moved for three years in tune
Down the long walks of their vows.
Now their love lies a loss
And Love and his patients roar on a chain;
From every tune or crater
Carrying cloud, Death strikes their house.
Too late in the wrong rain
They come together whom their love parted:
The windows pour into their heart
And the doors burn in their brain.
Katherine Mansfield | |
Baby Babbles--only one,
Now to sit up has begun.
Little Babbles quite turned two
Walks as well as I and you.
And Miss Babbles one, two, three,
Has a teaspoon at her tea.
But her Highness at four
Learns to open the front door.
And her Majesty--now six,
Can her shoestrings neatly fix.
Babbles, babbles, have a care,
You will soon put up your hair!
Charles Simic | |
The brightly-painted horse
Had a boy's face,
And four small wheels
Under his feet,
Plus a long string
To pull him by this way and that
Across the floor,
Should you care to.
A string in-waiting
That slipped away
In many wiles
From each and every try.
Knock and they'll answer,
Mother told me.
So I climbed four flights of stairs
And went in unannounced.
And found a small wooden toy
For the taking
In the ensuing emptiness
And the fading daylight
That still gives me a shudder
As if I held the key to mysteries in my hand.
Where's the Lost and Found Department,
And the quiet entry,
The undeveloped film
Of the few clear moments
Of our blurred lives?
Where's the drop of blood
And the teeny nail
That pricked my finger
As I bent down to touch the toy
And caught its eye?
Make me a Sunday
Go-to meeting shadow
For my toy.
My dearest memories are
In dusty buildings
On dead-end streets,
Where I talk to the walls
And closed doors
As if they understood me.
The wooden toy sitting pretty.
No, quieter than that.
Like the sound of eyebrows
Raised by a villain
In a silent movie.
Psst, someone said behind my back.
Volume CLXXI, Number 1
Special Double Issue
Robert William Service | |
Let us have birthdays every day,
(I had the thought while I was shaving)
Because a birthday should be gay,
And full of grace and good behaving.
We can't have cakes and candles bright,
And presents are beyond our giving,
But let lt us cherish with delight
The birthday way of lovely living.
For I have passed three-score and ten
And I can count upon my fingers
The years I hope to bide with men,
(Though by God's grace one often lingers.
So in the summers left to me,
Because I'm blest beyond my merit,
I hope with gratitude and glee
To sparkle with the birthday spirit.
Let me inform myself each day
Who's proudmost on the natal roster;
If Washington or Henry Clay,
Or Eugene Field or Stephen Foster.
oh lots of famous folks I'll find
Who more than measure to my rating,
And so thanksgivingly inclined
Their birthdays I'll be celebrating.
For Oh I know the cheery glow|
Of Anniversary rejoicing;
Let me reflect its radiance so
My daily gladness I'll be voicing.
And though I'm stooped and silver-haired,
Let me with laughter make the hearth gay,
So by the gods I may be spared
Each year to hear: "Pop, Happy Birthday.
Robert William Service | |
"This bunch of violets," he said,
"Is for my daughter dear.
Since that glad morn when she was wed
It is today a year.
She lives atop this flight of stairs--
Please give an arm to me:
If we can take her unawares
How glad she'll be!"
We climbed the stairs; the flight was four,
Our steps were stiff and slow;
But as he reached his daughter's door
His eyes were all aglow.
Joylike he raised his hand to knock,
Then sore distressed was I,
For from the silence like a shock
I heard a cry.
A drunken curse, a sob of woe .
His withered face grew grey.
"I think," said he, "we'd better go
And come another day.
And as he went a block with me,
Walking with weary feet,
His violets, I sighed to see,
Bestrewed the street.
Audre Lorde | |
Time collapses between the lips of strangers
my days collapse into a hollow tube
soon implodes against now
like an iron wall
my eyes are blocked with rubble
a smear of perspectives
blurring each horizon
in the breathless precision of silence
One word is made.
Once the renegade flesh was gone
fall air lay against my face
sharp and blue as a needle
but the rain fell through October
and death lay a condemnation
within my blood.
The smell of your neck in August
a fine gold wire bejeweling war
all the rest lies
illusive as a farmhouse
on the other side of a valley
vanishing in the afternoon.
Day three day four day ten
the seventh step
a veiled door leading to my golden
flameproofed free-paper shredded
in the teeth of a pillaging dog
never to dream of spiders
and when they turned the hoses upon me
a burst of light.
Rg Gregory | |
(to where the ashes of both
my parents are strewn)
ok the pair of you lie still
what's disturbing me need pass
no fretful hand over your peace
this world's vicissitudes are stale
fodder for you who feed the grass
some particles of your two dusts
by moon's wish accident or wind
may have leapt that late-life wound
refound in you the rhapsodists
first-married days had twinned
i've come today in heavy rain
a storm barging through the trees
to be a part of this fresh truce
to dream myself to that serene
death's eye-view no living sees
a roaring motorway derides
machine's exclusion from this place
cozens what the gale implies
while overhead a plane corrodes
all feel of sanctuary and solace
i cut the edges off the sound
and let the storm absorb my skin
my drift unravelling as a skein
through paths no brain's designed
i want the consciousness you're in
too much a strain - my mind can't click
to earthen voices (whispers signs)
my eyes alert to this life's scenes
my ears are ticked to autumn's clock
my shoes crunch upon chestnut spines
not a bird singing or flying
i seize upon such absence (here
the death-sense dares to split its hair)
why with such a strong wind flowing
inside the noises do calms appear
today the weather is supreme
it does away with frontiers - sweeps
breath into piles as it swaps
ashes for thoughts conjuring prime
life-death from the bones it reaps
abruptly flocks of leaves-made-birds
quit shaken branches (glide in grace)
first soar then hover - sucked to grass
flatten about me as soft-soaked boards
matting me to this parent place
and then i'm easeful - a hand scoops
dissent away (leaves me as tree)
settles the self down to its true
abasement where nothing escapes
its wanting (earth flesh being free)
i'm taken by your touching
there's no skin between us now
as tree i am death's avenue
you are its fruits attaching
distilled ripeness to the bough
i possess the step i came for
my senses burst into still speech
your potent ashes give dispatch
to life's tensions - i travel far
rooted at this two-worlds' breach
october 6th 1990
(seventh anniversary of my mother's cremation)
Anna Akhmatova | |
Celebrate our anniversary – can’t you see
tonight the snowy night of our first winter
comes back again in every road and tree -
that winter night of diamantine splendour.
Steam is pouring out of yellow stables,
the Moika river’s sinking under snow,
the moonlight’s misted as it is in fables,
and where we are heading – I don’t know.
There are icebergs on the Marsovo Pole.
The Lebyazh’ya’s crazed with crystal art.
Whose soul can compare with my soul,
if joy and fear are in my heart? -
And if your voice, a marvellous bird’s,
quivers at my shoulder, in the night,
and the snow shines with a silver light,
warmed by a sudden ray, by your words?
Emily Dickinson | |
One Year ago -- jots what?
God -- spell the word! I -- can't --
Was't Grace? Not that --
Was't Glory? That -- will do --
Spell slower -- Glory --
Such Anniversary shall be --
Thomas Hardy | |
UPON a noon I pilgrimed through
A pasture, mile by mile,
Unto the place where I last saw
My dead Love's living smile.
And sorrowing I lay me down
Upon the heated sod:
It seemed as if my body pressed
The very ground she trod.
I lay, and thought; and in a trance
She came and stood me by--
The same, even to the marvellous ray
That used to light her eye.
"You draw me, and I come to you,
My faithful one," she said,
In voice that had the moving tone
It bore in maidenhead.
She said: "'Tis seven years since I died:
Few now remember me;
My husband clasps another bride;
My children mothers she.
My brethren, sisters, and my friends
Care not to meet my sprite:
Who prized me most I did not know
Till I passed down from sight.
I said: "My days are lonely here;
I need thy smile alway:
I'll use this night my ball or blade,
And join thee ere the day.
A tremor stirred her tender lips,
Which parted to dissuade:
"That cannot be, O friend," she cried;
"Think, I am but a Shade!
"A Shade but in its mindful ones
By living, me you keep alive,
By dying you slay me.
"In you resides my single power
Of sweet continuance here;
On your fidelity I count
Through many a coming year.
--I started through me at her plight,
So suddenly confessed:
Dismissing late distaste for life,
I craved its bleak unrest.
"I will not die, my One of all!--
To lengthen out thy days
I'll guard me from minutest harms
That may invest my ways!"
She smiled and went.
Since then she comes
Oft when her birth-moon climbs,
Or at the seasons' ingresses
Or anniversary times;
But grows my grief.
When I surcease,
Through whom alone lives she,
Ceases my Love, her words, her ways,
Never again to be!
Thomas Hardy | |
(The 110th anniversary of the completion of the "Decline and Fall" at the same hour and place)
A spirit seems to pass,
Formal in pose, but grave and grand withal:
He contemplates a volume stout and tall,
And far lamps fleck him through the thin acacias.
Anon the book is closed,
With "It is finished!" And at the alley's end
He turns, and soon on me his glances bend;
And, as from earth, comes speech--small, muted, yet composed.
"How fares the Truth now?--Ill?
--Do pens but slily further her advance?
May one not speed her but in phrase askance?
Do scribes aver the Comic to be Reverend still?
"Still rule those minds on earth
At whom sage Milton's wormwood words were hurled:
'Truth like a bastard comes into the world
Never without ill-fame to him who gives her birth'?"