William Butler Yeats | |
WHEN you are old and gray and full of sleep
And nodding by the fire, take down this book,
And slowly read, and dream of the soft look
Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep;
How many loved your moments of glad grace,
And loved your beauty with love false or true;
But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you,
And loved the sorrows of your changing face.
And bending down beside the glowing bars,
Murmur, a little sadly, how love fled
And paced upon the mountains overhead,
And hid his face amid a crowd of stars.
Ben Jonson | |
Let it not your wonder move,
Less your laughter, that I love.
Though I now write fifty years,
I have had, and have, my peers.
Poets, though divine, are men;
Some have loved as old again.
And it is not always face,
Clothes, or fortune gives the grace,
Or the feature, or the youth;
But the language and the truth,
With the ardor and the passion,
Gives the lover weight and fashion.
If you then would hear the story,
First, prepare you to be sorry
That you never knew till now
Either whom to love or how;
But be glad as soon with me
When you hear that this is she
Of whose beauty it was sung,
She shall make the old man young,
Keep the middle age at stay,
And let nothing hide decay,
Till she be the reason why
All the world for love may die.
George (Lord) Byron | |
She walks in Beauty, like the night
Of cloudless climes and starry skies;
And all that's best of dark and bright
Meet in her aspect and her eyes:
Thus mellowed to that tender light
Which Heaven to gaudy day denies.
One shade the more, one ray the less,
Had half impaired the nameless grace
Which waves in every raven tress,
Or softly lightens o'er her face;
Where thoughts serenely sweet express,
How pure, how dear their dwelling-place.
And on that cheek, and o'er that brow,
So soft, so calm, yet eloquent,
The smiles that win, the tints that glow,
But tell of days in goodness spent,
A mind at peace with all below,
A heart whose love is innocent!
More great poems below...
William Blake | |
SLEEP sleep beauty bright
Dreaming in the joys of night;
Sleep sleep; in thy sleep
Little sorrows sit and weep.
Sweet babe in thy face 5
Soft desires I can trace
Secret joys and secret smiles
Little pretty infant wiles.
As thy softest limbs I feel
Smiles as of the morning steal 10
O'er thy cheek and o'er thy breast
Where thy little heart doth rest.
O the cunning wiles that creep
In thy little heart asleep!
When thy little heart doth wake 15
Then the dreadful night shall break.
Thomas Moore | |
Believe me, if all those endearing young charms,
Which I gaze on so fondly today,
Were to change by tomorrow, and fleet in my arms,
Like fairy-gifts fading away,
Thou wouldst still be adored, as this moment thou art,
Let thy loveliness fade as it will,
And around the dear ruin each wish of my heart
Would entwine itself verdantly still.
It is not while beauty and youth are thine own,
And thy cheeks unprofaned by a tear
That the fervor and faith of a soul can be known,
To which time will but make thee more dear;
No, the heart that has truly loved never forgets,
But as truly loves on to the close,
As the sunflower turns on her god, when he sets,
The same look which she turned when he rose.
Gerard Manley Hopkins | |
Glory be to God for dappled things—
For skies of couple-color as a brinded cow;
For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;
Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches’ wings;
Landscape plotted and pieced—fold, fallow, and plough;
And áll trádes, their gear and tackle and trim.
All things counter, original, spare, strange;
Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)
With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim;
He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change:
Andrew Marvell | |
Had we but world enough, and time,
This coyness, lady, were no crime.
We would sit down, and think which way
To walk, and pass our long love's day.
Thou by the Indian Ganges' side
Shouldst rubies find; I by the tide
Of Humber would complain.
Love you ten years before the Flood,
And you should, if you please, refuse
Till the conversion of the Jews.
My vegetable love should grow
Vaster than empires and more slow;
An hundred years should go to praise
Thine eyes, and on thy forehead gaze;
Two hundred to adore each breast,
But thirty thousand to the rest;
An age at least to every part,
And the last age should show your heart.
For, lady, you deserve this state,
Nor would I love at lower rate.
But at my back I always hear
Time's wingèd chariot hurrying near;
And yonder all before us lie
Deserts of vast eternity.
Thy beauty shall no more be found;
Nor, in thy marble vault, shall sound
My echoing song; then worms shall try
That long-preserved virginity,
And your quaint honor turn to dust,
And into ashes all my lust:
The grave's a fine and private place,
But none, I think, do there embrace.
Now therefore, while the youthful hue
Sits on thy skin like morning dew,
And while thy willing soul transpires
At every pore with instant fires,
Now let us sport us while we may,
And now, like amorous birds of prey,
Rather at once our time devour
Than languish in his slow-chapped power.
Let us roll all our strength and all
Our sweetness up into one ball,
And tear our pleasures with rough strife
Thorough the iron gates of life:
Thus, though we cannot make our sun
Stand still, yet we will make him run.
Sir Walter Raleigh | |
Farewell false love, the oracle of lies,
A mortal foe and enemy to rest,
An envious boy, from whom all cares arise,
A bastard vile, a beast with rage possessed,
A way of error, a temple full of treason,
In all effects contrary unto reason.
A poisoned serpent covered all with flowers,
Mother of sighs, and murderer of repose,
A sea of sorrows whence are drawn such showers
As moisture lend to every grief that grows;
A school of guile, a net of deep deceit,
A gilded hook that holds a poisoned bait.
A fortress foiled, which reason did defend,
A siren song, a fever of the mind,
A maze wherein affection finds no end,
A raging cloud that runs before the wind,
A substance like the shadow of the sun,
A goal of grief for which the wisest run.
A quenchless fire, a nurse of trembling fear,
A path that leads to peril and mishap,
A true retreat of sorrow and despair,
An idle boy that sleeps in pleasure's lap,
A deep mistrust of that which certain seems,
A hope of that which reason doubtful deems.
Sith* then thy trains my younger years betrayed, [since]
And for my faith ingratitude I find;
And sith repentance hath my wrongs bewrayed*, [revealed]
Whose course was ever contrary to kind*: [nature]
False love, desire, and beauty frail, adieu.
Dead is the root whence all these fancies grew.
Edgar Allan Poe | |
Helen thy beauty is to me
Like those Nicean barks of yore
That gently o'er a perfumed sea
The weary wayworn wanderer bore
To his own native shore.
On desperate seas long wont to roam
Thy hyacinth hair thy classic face
Thy Naiad airs have brought me home
To the glory that was Greece
And the grandeur that was Rome.
Lo! in yon brilliant window-niche
How statue-like I see thee stand
The agate lamp within thy hand!
Ah Psyche from the regions which
Are Holy Land!
Anna Akhmatova | |
An as it's going often at love's breaking,
The ghost of first days came again to us,
The silver willow through window then stretched in,
The silver beauty of her gentle branches.
The bird began to sing the song of light and pleasure
To us, who fears to lift looks from the earth,
Who are so lofty, bitter and intense,
About days when we were saved together.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow | |
THE DAY is done and the darkness
Falls from the wings of Night
As a feather is wafted downward
From an eagle in his flight.
I see the lights of the village 5
Gleam through the rain and the mist
And a feeling of sadness comes o'er me
That my soul cannot resist:
A feeling of sadness and longing
That is not akin to pain 10
And resembles sorrow only
As the mist resembles the rain.
Come read to me some poem
Some simple and heartfelt lay
That shall soothe this restless feeling 15
And banish the thoughts of day.
Not from the grand old masters
Not from the bards sublime
Whose distant footsteps echo
Through the corridors of Time.
For like strains of martial music
Their mighty thoughts suggest
Life's endless toil and endeavor;
And to-night I long for rest.
Read from some humbler poet 25
Whose songs gushed from his heart
As showers from the clouds of summer
Or tears from the eyelids start;
Who through long days of labor
And nights devoid of ease 30
Still heard in his soul the music
Of wonderful melodies.
Such songs have power to quiet
The restless pulse of care
And come like the benediction 35
That follows after prayer.
Then read from the treasured volume
The poem of thy choice
And lend to the rhyme of the poet
The beauty of thy voice.
And the night shall be filled with music
And the cares that infest the day
Shall fold their tents like the Arabs
And as silently steal away.
Edgar Allan Poe | |
In Heaven a spirit doth dwell
"Whose heart-strings are a lute";
None sing so wildly well
As the angel Israfel
And the giddy stars (so legends tell)
Ceasing their hymns attend the spell
Of his voice all mute.
In her highest noon
The enamored moon
Blushes with love
While to listen the red levin
(With the rapid Pleiads even
Which were seven )
Pauses in Heaven.
And they say (the starry choir
And the other listening things)
That Israfeli's fire
Is owing to that lyre
By which he sits and sings-
The trembling living wire
Of those unusual strings.
But the skies that angel trod
Where deep thoughts are a duty-
Where Love's a grown-up God-
Where the Houri glances are
Imbued with all the beauty
Which we worship in a star.
Therefore thou art not wrong
Israfeli who despisest
An unimpassioned song;
To thee the laurels belong
Best bard because the wisest!
Merrily live and long!
The ecstasies above
With thy burning measures suit-
Thy grief thy joy thy hate thy love
With the fervor of thy lute-
Well may the stars be mute!
Yes Heaven is thine; but this
Is a world of sweets and sours;
Our flowers are merely- flowers
And the shadow of thy perfect bliss
Is the sunshine of ours.
If I could dwell
Hath dwelt and he where I
He might not sing so wildly well
A mortal melody
While a bolder note than this might swell
From my lyre within the sky.
Allen Ginsberg | |
takes him strolling
by railroad and by river
-he's the son of the absconded
hot rod angel-
and he imagines cars
and rides them in his dreams,
so lonely growing up among
the imaginary automobiles
and dead souls of Tarrytown
out of his own imagination
the beauty of his wild
he cannot inherit.
Will he later hallucinate
his gods? Waking
among mysteries with
an insane gleam
something so rare
in his soul,
met only in dreams
of another life.
A question of the soul.
And the injured
losing their injury
in their innocence
-a cock, a cross,
an excellence of love.
And the father grieves
complexities of memory
a thousand miles
of the unexpected
bumming toward his door.
- New York, April 13, 1952
Edward Estlin (E E) Cummings | |
O sweet spontaneous
earth how often have
prurient philosophers pinched
has the naughty thumb
of science prodded
often have religions taken
thee upon their scraggy knees
buffeting thee that thou mightest conceive
to the incomparable
couch of death thy
them only with
John Keats | |
NO no! go not to Lethe neither twist
Wolf's-bane tight-rooted for its poisonous wine;
Nor suffer thy pale forehead to be kist
By nightshade ruby grape of Proserpine;
Make not your rosary of yew-berries 5
Nor let the beetle nor the death-moth be
Your mournful Psyche nor the downy owl
A partner in your sorrow's mysteries;
For shade to shade will come too drowsily
And drown the wakeful anguish of the soul.
But when the melancholy fit shall fall
Sudden from heaven like a weeping cloud
That fosters the droop-headed flowers all
And hides the green hill in an April shroud;
Then glut thy sorrow on a morning rose 15
Or on the rainbow of the salt sand-wave
Or on the wealth of glob¨¨d peonies;
Or if thy mistress some rich anger shows
Emprison her soft hand and let her rave
And feed deep deep upon her peerless eyes.
She dwells with Beauty¡ªBeauty that must die;
And Joy whose hand is ever at his lips
Bidding adieu; and aching Pleasure nigh
Turning to poison while the bee-mouth sips:
Ay in the very temple of Delight 25
Veil'd Melancholy has her sovran shrine
Though seen of none save him whose strenuous tongue
Can burst Joy's grape against his palate fine;
His soul shall taste the sadness of her might
And be among her cloudy trophies hung.
Ralph Waldo Emerson | |
IN May, when sea-winds pierced our solitudes,
I found the fresh Rhodora in the woods,
Spreading its leafless blooms in a damp nook,
To please the desert and the sluggish brook.
The purple petals, fallen in the pool, 5
Made the black water with their beauty gay;
Here might the red-bird come his plumes to cool,
And court the flower that cheapens his array.
Rhodora! if the sages ask thee why
This charm is wasted on the earth and sky, 10
Tell them, dear, that if eyes were made for seeing,
Then Beauty is its own excuse for being:
Why thou wert there, O rival of the rose!
I never thought to ask, I never knew:
But, in my simple ignorance, suppose 15
The self-same Power that brought me there brought you.
Wallace Stevens | |
Among twenty snowy mountains,
The only moving thing
Was the eye of the blackbird.
I was of three minds,
Like a tree
In which there are three blackbirds.
The blackbird whirled in the autumn winds.
It was a small part of the pantomime.
A man and a woman
A man and a woman and a blackbird
I do not know which to prefer,
The beauty of inflections
Or the beauty of innuendoes,
The blackbird whistling
Or just after.
Icicles filled the long window
With barbaric glass.
The shadow of the blackbird
Crossed it, to and fro.
Traced in the shadow
An indecipherable cause.
O thin men of Haddam,
Why do you imagine golden birds?
Do you not see how the blackbird
Walks around the feet
Of the women about you?
I know noble accents
And lucid, inescapable rhythms;
But I know, too,
That the blackbird is involved
In what I know.
When the blackbird flew out of sight,
It marked the edge
Of one of many circles.
At the sight of blackbirds
Flying in a green light,
Even the bawds of euphony
Would cry out sharply.
He rode over Connecticut
In a glass coach.
Once, a fear pierced him,
In that he mistook
The shadow of his equipage
The river is moving.
The blackbird must be flying.
It was evening all afternoon.
It was snowing
And it was going to snow.
The blackbird sat
In the cedar-limbs.
Wang Wei | |
Since beauty is honoured all over the Empire,
How could Xi Shi remain humbly at home? --
Washing clothes at dawn by a southern lake --
And that evening a great lady in a palace of the north:
Lowly one day, no different from the others,
The next day exalted, everyone praising her.
No more would her own hands powder her face
Or arrange on her shoulders a silken robe.
And the more the King loved her, the lovelier she looked,
Blinding him away from wisdom.
Girls who had once washed silk beside her
Were kept at a distance from her chariot.
And none of the girls in her neighbours' houses
By pursing their brows could copy her beauty.
Ralph Waldo Emerson | |
IT fell in the ancient periods
Which the brooding soul surveys
Or ever the wild Time coin'd itself
Into calendar months and days.
This was the lapse of Uriel 5
Which in Paradise befell.
Once among the Pleiads walking
Sayd overheard the young gods talking;
And the treason too long pent
To his ears was evident.
The young deities discuss'd
Laws of form and metre just
Orb quintessence and sunbeams
What subsisteth and what seems.
One with low tones that decide 15
And doubt and reverend use defied
With a look that solved the sphere
And stirr'd the devils everywhere
Gave his sentiment divine
Against the being of a line.
'Line in nature is not found;
Unit and universe are round;
In vain produced all rays return;
Evil will bless and ice will burn.
As Uriel spoke with piercing eye 25
A shudder ran around the sky;
The stern old war-gods shook their heads;
The seraphs frown'd from myrtle-beds;
Seem'd to the holy festival
The rash word boded ill to all; 30
The balance-beam of Fate was bent;
The bounds of good and ill were rent;
Strong Hades could not keep his own
But all slid to confusion.
A sad self-knowledge withering fell 35
On the beauty of Uriel;
In heaven once eminent the god
Withdrew that hour into his cloud;
Whether doom'd to long gyration
In the sea of generation 40
Or by knowledge grown too bright
To hit the nerve of feebler sight.
Straightway a forgetting wind
Stole over the celestial kind
And their lips the secret kept 45
If in ashes the fire-seed slept.
But now and then truth-speaking things
Shamed the angels' veiling wings;
And shrilling from the solar course
Or from fruit of chemic force 50
Procession of a soul in matter
Or the speeding change of water
Or out of the good of evil born
Came Uriel's voice of cherub scorn
And a blush tinged the upper sky 55
And the gods shook they knew not why.
William Cullen Bryant | |
I GAZED upon the glorious sky
And the green mountains round
And thought that when I came to lie
At rest within the ground
'T were pleasant that in flowery June 5
When brooks send up a cheerful tune
And groves a joyous sound
The sexton's hand my grave to make
The rich green mountain-turf should break.
A cell within the frozen mould 10
A coffin borne through sleet
And icy clods above it rolled
While fierce the tempests beat¡ª
Away!¡ªI will not think of these¡ª
Blue be the sky and soft the breeze 15
Earth green beneath the feet
And be the damp mould gently pressed
Into my narrow place of rest.
There through the long long summer hours
The golden light should lie 20
And thick young herbs and groups of flowers
Stand in their beauty by.
The oriole should build and tell
His love-tale close beside my cell;
The idle butterfly 25
Should rest him there and there be heard
The housewife bee and humming-bird.
And what if cheerful shouts at noon
Come from the village sent
Or song of maids beneath the moon 30
With fairy laughter blent?
And what if in the evening light
Betroth¨¨d lovers walk in sight
Of my low monument?
I would the lovely scene around 35
Might know no sadder sight nor sound.
I know that I no more should see
The season's glorious show
Nor would its brightness shine for me
Nor its wild music flow; 40
But if around my place of sleep
The friends I love should come to weep
They might not haste to go.
Soft airs and song and light and bloom
Should keep them lingering by my tomb.
These to their softened hearts should bear
The thought of what has been
And speak of one who cannot share
The gladness of the scene;
Whose part in all the pomp that fills 50
The circuit of the summer hills
Is that his grave is green;
And deeply would their hearts rejoice
To hear again his living voice.
William Cullen Bryant | |
THE MELANCHOLY days have come the saddest of the year
Of wailing winds and naked woods and meadows brown and sere;
Heaped in the hollows of the grove the autumn leaves lie dead;
They rustle to the eddying gust and to the rabbit's tread;
The robin and the wren are flown and from the shrubs the jay 5
And from the wood-top calls the crow through all the gloomy day.
Where are the flowers the fair young flowers that lately sprang and stood
In brighter light and softer airs a beauteous sisterhood?
Alas! they all are in their graves the gentle race of flowers
Are lying in their lowly beds with the fair and good of ours.
The rain is falling where they lie but the cold November rain
Calls not from out the gloomy earth the lovely ones again.
The wind-flower and the violet they perished long ago
And the brier-rose and the orchis died amid the summer glow;
But on the hill the goldenrod and the aster in the wood 15
And the blue sunflower by the brook in autumn beauty stood
Till fell the frost from the clear cold heaven as falls the plague on men
And the brightness of their smile was gone from upland glade and glen.
And now when comes the calm mild day as still such days will come
To call the squirrel and the bee from out their winter home; 20
When the sound of dropping nuts is heard though all the trees are still
And twinkle in the smoky light the waters of the rill
The south wind searches for the flowers whose fragrance late he bore
And sighs to find them in the wood and by the stream no more.
And then I think of one who in her youthful beauty died 25
The fair meek blossom that grew up and faded by my side.
In the cold moist earth we laid her when the forests cast the leaf
And we wept that one so lovely should have a life so brief:
Yet not unmeet it was that one like that young friend of ours
So gentle and so beautiful should perish with the flowers.
THOUGH beauty be the mark of praise
And yours of whom I sing be such
As not the world can praise too much
Yet 'tis your Virtue now I raise.
A virtue like allay so gone 5
Throughout your form as though that move
And draw and conquer all men's love
This subjects you to love of one.
Wherein you triumph yet¡ªbecause
'Tis of your flesh and that you use 10
The noblest freedom not to choose
Against or faith or honour's laws.
But who should less expect from you?
In whom alone Love lives again:
By whom he is restored to men 15
And kept and bred and brought up true.
His falling temples you have rear'd
The wither'd garlands ta'en away;
His altars kept from that decay
That envy wish'd and nature fear'd: 20
And on them burn so chaste a flame
With so much loyalty's expense
As Love to acquit such excellence
Is gone himself into your name.
And you are he¡ªthe deity 25
To whom all lovers are design'd
That would their better objects find;
Among which faithful troop am I¡ª
Who as an off'ring at your shrine
Have sung this hymn and here entreat 30
One spark of your diviner heat
To light upon a love of mine.
Which if it kindle not but scant
Appear and that to shortest view;
Yet give me leave to adore in you 35
What I in her am grieved to want!
GLOSS: allay] alloy.
SEE the Chariot at hand here of Love,
Wherein my Lady rideth!
Each that draws is a swan or a dove,
And well the car Love guideth.
As she goes, all hearts do duty 5
Unto her beauty;
And enamour'd do wish, so they might
But enjoy such a sight,
That they still were to run by her side,
Through swords, through seas, whither she would ride.
Do but look on her eyes, they do light
All that Love's world compriseth!
Do but look on her hair, it is bright
As Love's star when it riseth!
Do but mark, her forehead's smoother 15
Than words that soothe her;
And from her arch'd brows such a grace
Sheds itself through the face,
As alone there triumphs to the life
All the gain, all the good, of the elements' strife.
Have you seen but a bright lily grow
Before rude hands have touch'd it?
Have you mark'd but the fall of the snow
Before the soil hath smutch'd it?
Have you felt the wool of beaver, 25
Or swan's down ever?
Or have smelt o' the bud o' the brier,
Or the nard in the fire?
Or have tasted the bag of the bee?
O so white, O so soft, O so sweet is she! 30
WOULDST thou hear what Man can say
In a little? Reader stay.
Underneath this stone doth lie
As much Beauty as could die:
Which in life did harbour give 5
To more Virtue than doth live.
If at all she had a fault
Leave it buried in this vault.
One name was Elizabeth
The other let it sleep with death: 10
Fitter where it died to tell
Than that it lived at all.
Sappho | |
Come back to me Gongyla here tonight
You my rose with your Lydian lyre.
There hovers forever around you delight:
A beauty desired.
Even your garment plunders my eyes.
I am enchanted: I who once
Complained to the Cyprus-born goddess
Whom I now beseech
Never to let this lose me grace
But rather bring you back to me:
Amongst all mortal women the one
I most wish to see.
--Translated by Paul Roche