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!
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:
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.
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
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.
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.
George (Lord) Byron | |
THERE be none of Beauty's daughters
With a magic like thee;
And like music on the waters
Is thy sweet voice to me:
When as if its sound were causing 5
The charmed ocean's pausing
The waves lie still and gleaming
And the lull'd winds seem dreaming:
And the midnight moon is weaving
Her bright chain o'er the deep 10
Whose breast is gently heaving
As an infant's asleep:
So the spirit bows before thee
To listen and adore thee;
With a full but soft emotion 15
Like the swell of summer's ocean.
George (Lord) Byron | |
OH snatch'd away in beauty's bloom!
On thee shall press no ponderous tomb;
But on thy turf shall roses rear
Their leaves the earliest of the year
And the wild cypress wave in tender gloom: 5
And oft by yon blue gushing stream
Shall Sorrow lean her drooping head
And feed deep thought with many a dream
And lingering pause and lightly tread;
Fond wretch! as if her step disturb'd the dead! 10
Away! we know that tears are vain
That Death nor heeds nor hears distress:
Will this unteach us to complain?
Or make one mourner weep the less?
And thou who tell'st me to forget 15
Thy looks are wan thine eyes are wet.
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.
Philip Larkin | |
If hands could free you, heart,
Where would you fly?
Far, beyond every part
Of earth this running sky
Makes desolate? Would you cross
City and hill and sea,
If hands could set you free?
I would not lift the latch;
For I could run
Through fields, pit-valleys, catch
All beauty under the sun--
Still end in loss:
I should find no bent arm, no bed
To rest my head.
Philip Larkin | |
Down stucco sidestreets,
Where light is pewter
And afternoon mist
Brings lights on in shops
Above race-guides and rosaries,
A funeral passes.
The hearse is ahead,
But after there follows
A troop of streetwalkers
In wide flowered hats,
And ankle-length dresses.
There is an air of great friendliness,
As if they were honouring
One they were fond of;
Some caper a few steps,
Skirts held skilfully
(Someone claps time),
And of great sadness also.
As they wend away
A voice is heard singing
Of Kitty, or Katy,
As if the name meant once
All love, all beauty.
Philip Larkin | |
Marrying left yor maiden name disused.
Its five light sounds no longer mean your face,
Your voice, and all your variants of grace;
For since you were so thankfully confused
By law with someone else, you cannot be
Semantically the same as that young beauty:
It was of her that these two words were used.
Now it's a phrase applicable to no one,
Lying just where you left it, scattered through
Old lists, old programmes, a school prize or two,
Packets of letters tied with tartan ribbon -
Then is it secentless, weightless, strengthless wholly
Untruthful? Try whispering it slowly.
No, it means you.
Or, since your past and gone,
It means what we feel now about you then:
How beautiful you were, and near, and young,
So vivid, you might still be there among
Those first few days, unfingermarked again.
So your old name shelters our faithfulness,
Instead of losing shape and meaning less
With your depreciating luggage laiden.
Philip Larkin | |
Like the train's beat
Swift language flutters the lips
Of the Polish airgirl in the corner seat,
The swinging and narrowing sun
Lights her eyelashes, shapes
Her sharp vivacity of bone.
Hair, wild and controlled, runs back:
And gestures like these English oaks
Flash past the windows of her foreign talk.
The train runs on through wilderness
Still the hammered miles
Diversify behind her face.
And all humanity of interest
Before her angled beauty falls,
As whorling notes are pressed
In a bird's throat, issuing meaningless
Through written skies; a voice
Watering a stony place.
Christina Rossetti | |
Oh why is heaven built so far,
Oh why is earth set so remote?
I cannot reach the nearest star
That hangs afloat.
I would not care to reach the moon,
One round monotonous of change;
Yet even she repeats her tune
Beyond my range.
I never watch the scatter'd fire
Of stars, or sun's far-trailing train,
But all my heart is one desire,
And all in vain:
For I am bound with fleshly bands,
Joy, beauty, lie beyond my scope;
I strain my heart, I stretch my hands,
And catch at hope.