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Best Famous Business Poems

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Written by George (Lord) Byron | Create an image from this poem

The Dream

 I

Our life is twofold; Sleep hath its own world,
A boundary between the things misnamed
Death and existence: Sleep hath its own world,
And a wide realm of wild reality,
And dreams in their development have breath,
And tears, and tortures, and the touch of joy;
They leave a weight upon our waking thoughts,
They take a weight from off waking toils,
They do divide our being; they become
A portion of ourselves as of our time,
And look like heralds of eternity;
They pass like spirits of the past—they speak
Like sibyls of the future; they have power— 
The tyranny of pleasure and of pain;
They make us what we were not—what they will,
And shake us with the vision that's gone by,
The dread of vanished shadows—Are they so?
Is not the past all shadow?—What are they?
Creations of the mind?—The mind can make
Substances, and people planets of its own
With beings brighter than have been, and give
A breath to forms which can outlive all flesh.
I would recall a vision which I dreamed Perchance in sleep—for in itself a thought, A slumbering thought, is capable of years, And curdles a long life into one hour.
II I saw two beings in the hues of youth Standing upon a hill, a gentle hill, Green and of mild declivity, the last As 'twere the cape of a long ridge of such, Save that there was no sea to lave its base, But a most living landscape, and the wave Of woods and corn-fields, and the abodes of men Scattered at intervals, and wreathing smoke Arising from such rustic roofs: the hill Was crowned with a peculiar diadem Of trees, in circular array, so fixed, Not by the sport of nature, but of man: These two, a maiden and a youth, were there Gazing—the one on all that was beneath Fair as herself—but the boy gazed on her; And both were young, and one was beautiful: And both were young—yet not alike in youth.
As the sweet moon on the horizon's verge, The maid was on the eve of womanhood; The boy had fewer summers, but his heart Had far outgrown his years, and to his eye There was but one beloved face on earth, And that was shining on him; he had looked Upon it till it could not pass away; He had no breath, no being, but in hers: She was his voice; he did not speak to her, But trembled on her words; she was his sight, For his eye followed hers, and saw with hers, Which coloured all his objects;—he had ceased To live within himself: she was his life, The ocean to the river of his thoughts, Which terminated all; upon a tone, A touch of hers, his blood would ebb and flow, And his cheek change tempestuously—his heart Unknowing of its cause of agony.
But she in these fond feelings had no share: Her sighs were not for him; to her he was Even as a brother—but no more; 'twas much, For brotherless she was, save in the name Her infant friendship had bestowed on him; Herself the solitary scion left Of a time-honoured race.
—It was a name Which pleased him, and yet pleased him not—and why? Time taught him a deep answer—when she loved Another; even now she loved another, And on the summit of that hill she stood Looking afar if yet her lover's steed Kept pace with her expectancy, and flew.
III A change came o'er the spirit of my dream.
There was an ancient mansion, and before Its walls there was a steed caparisoned: Within an antique Oratory stood The Boy of whom I spake;—he was alone, And pale, and pacing to and fro: anon He sate him down, and seized a pen, and traced Words which I could not guess of; then he leaned His bowed head on his hands and shook, as 'twere With a convulsion—then rose again, And with his teeth and quivering hands did tear What he had written, but he shed no tears.
And he did calm himself, and fix his brow Into a kind of quiet: as he paused, The Lady of his love re-entered there; She was serene and smiling then, and yet She knew she was by him beloved; she knew— For quickly comes such knowledge—that his heart Was darkened with her shadow, and she saw That he was wretched, but she saw not all.
He rose, and with a cold and gentle grasp He took her hand; a moment o'er his face A tablet of unutterable thoughts Was traced, and then it faded, as it came; He dropped the hand he held, and with slow steps Retired, but not as bidding her adieu, For they did part with mutual smiles; he passed From out the massy gate of that old Hall, And mounting on his steed he went his way; And ne'er repassed that hoary threshold more.
IV A change came o'er the spirit of my dream.
The Boy was sprung to manhood: in the wilds Of fiery climes he made himself a home, And his Soul drank their sunbeams; he was girt With strange and dusky aspects; he was not Himself like what he had been; on the sea And on the shore he was a wanderer; There was a mass of many images Crowded like waves upon me, but he was A part of all; and in the last he lay Reposing from the noontide sultriness, Couched among fallen columns, in the shade Of ruined walls that had survived the names Of those who reared them; by his sleeping side Stood camels grazing, and some goodly steeds Were fastened near a fountain; and a man, Glad in a flowing garb, did watch the while, While many of his tribe slumbered around: And they were canopied by the blue sky, So cloudless, clear, and purely beautiful, That God alone was to be seen in heaven.
V A change came o'er the spirit of my dream.
The Lady of his love was wed with One Who did not love her better: in her home, A thousand leagues from his,—her native home, She dwelt, begirt with growing Infancy, Daughters and sons of Beauty,—but behold! Upon her face there was a tint of grief, The settled shadow of an inward strife, And an unquiet drooping of the eye, As if its lid were charged with unshed tears.
What could her grief be?—she had all she loved, And he who had so loved her was not there To trouble with bad hopes, or evil wish, Or ill-repressed affliction, her pure thoughts.
What could her grief be?—she had loved him not, Nor given him cause to deem himself beloved, Nor could he be a part of that which preyed Upon her mind—a spectre of the past.
VI A change came o'er the spirit of my dream.
The Wanderer was returned.
—I saw him stand Before an altar—with a gentle bride; Her face was fair, but was not that which made The Starlight of his Boyhood;—as he stood Even at the altar, o'er his brow there came The selfsame aspect and the quivering shock That in the antique Oratory shook His bosom in its solitude; and then— As in that hour—a moment o'er his face The tablet of unutterable thoughts Was traced—and then it faded as it came, And he stood calm and quiet, and he spoke The fitting vows, but heard not his own words, And all things reeled around him; he could see Not that which was, nor that which should have been— But the old mansion, and the accustomed hall, And the remembered chambers, and the place, The day, the hour, the sunshine, and the shade, All things pertaining to that place and hour, And her who was his destiny, came back And thrust themselves between him and the light; What business had they there at such a time? VII A change came o'er the spirit of my dream.
The Lady of his love;—Oh! she was changed, As by the sickness of the soul; her mind Had wandered from its dwelling, and her eyes, They had not their own lustre, but the look Which is not of the earth; she was become The queen of a fantastic realm; her thoughts Were combinations of disjointed things; And forms impalpable and unperceived Of others' sight familiar were to hers.
And this the world calls frenzy; but the wise Have a far deeper madness, and the glance Of melancholy is a fearful gift; What is it but the telescope of truth? Which strips the distance of its fantasies, And brings life near in utter nakedness, Making the cold reality too real! VIII A change came o'er the spirit of my dream.
The Wanderer was alone as heretofore, The beings which surrounded him were gone, Or were at war with him; he was a mark For blight and desolation, compassed round With Hatred and Contention; Pain was mixed In all which was served up to him, until, Like to the Pontic monarch of old days, He fed on poisons, and they had no power, But were a kind of nutriment; he lived Through that which had been death to many men, And made him friends of mountains; with the stars And the quick Spirit of the Universe He held his dialogues: and they did teach To him the magic of their mysteries; To him the book of Night was opened wide, And voices from the deep abyss revealed A marvel and a secret.
—Be it so.
IX My dream is past; it had no further change.
It was of a strange order, that the doom Of these two creatures should be thus traced out Almost like a reality—the one To end in madness—both in misery.
Written by Matthew Arnold | Create an image from this poem

To A Friend

 Who prop, thou ask'st in these bad days, my mind?--
He much, the old man, who, clearest-souled of men,
Saw The Wide Prospect, and the Asian Fen,
And Tmolus hill, and Smyrna bay, though blind.
Much he, whose friendship I not long since won, That halting slave, who in Nicopolis Taught Arrian, when Vespasian's brutal son Cleared Rome of what most shamed him.
But be his My special thanks, whose even-balanced soul, From first youth tested up to extreme old age, Business could not make dull, nor passion wild; Who saw life steadily, and saw it whole; The mellow glory of the Attic stage, Singer of sweet Colonus, and its child.
Written by Walt Whitman | Create an image from this poem

To Think of Time

 1
TO think of time—of all that retrospection! 
To think of to-day, and the ages continued henceforward! 

Have you guess’d you yourself would not continue? 
Have you dreaded these earth-beetles? 
Have you fear’d the future would be nothing to you?

Is to-day nothing? Is the beginningless past nothing? 
If the future is nothing, they are just as surely nothing.
To think that the sun rose in the east! that men and women were flexible, real, alive! that everything was alive! To think that you and I did not see, feel, think, nor bear our part! To think that we are now here, and bear our part! 2 Not a day passes—not a minute or second, without an accouchement! Not a day passes—not a minute or second, without a corpse! The dull nights go over, and the dull days also, The soreness of lying so much in bed goes over, The physician, after long putting off, gives the silent and terrible look for an answer, The children come hurried and weeping, and the brothers and sisters are sent for, Medicines stand unused on the shelf—(the camphor-smell has long pervaded the rooms,) The faithful hand of the living does not desert the hand of the dying, The twitching lips press lightly on the forehead of the dying, The breath ceases, and the pulse of the heart ceases, The corpse stretches on the bed, and the living look upon it, It is palpable as the living are palpable.
The living look upon the corpse with their eye-sight, But without eye-sight lingers a different living, and looks curiously on the corpse.
3 To think the thought of Death, merged in the thought of materials! To think that the rivers will flow, and the snow fall, and fruits ripen, and act upon others as upon us now—yet not act upon us! To think of all these wonders of city and country, and others taking great interest in them—and we taking no interest in them! To think how eager we are in building our houses! To think others shall be just as eager, and we quite indifferent! (I see one building the house that serves him a few years, or seventy or eighty years at most, I see one building the house that serves him longer than that.
) Slow-moving and black lines creep over the whole earth—they never cease—they are the burial lines, He that was President was buried, and he that is now President shall surely be buried.
4 A reminiscence of the vulgar fate, A frequent sample of the life and death of workmen, Each after his kind: Cold dash of waves at the ferry-wharf—posh and ice in the river, half-frozen mud in the streets, a gray, discouraged sky overhead, the short, last daylight of Twelfth-month, A hearse and stages—other vehicles give place—the funeral of an old Broadway stage-driver, the cortege mostly drivers.
Steady the trot to the cemetery, duly rattles the death-bell, the gate is pass’d, the new-dug grave is halted at, the living alight, the hearse uncloses, The coffin is pass’d out, lower’d and settled, the whip is laid on the coffin, the earth is swiftly shovel’d in, The mound above is flatted with the spades—silence, A minute—no one moves or speaks—it is done, He is decently put away—is there anything more? He was a good fellow, free-mouth’d, quick-temper’d, not bad-looking, able to take his own part, witty, sensitive to a slight, ready with life or death for a friend, fond of women, gambled, ate hearty, drank hearty, had known what it was to be flush, grew low-spirited toward the last, sicken’d, was help’d by a contribution, died, aged forty-one years—and that was his funeral.
Thumb extended, finger uplifted, apron, cape, gloves, strap, wet-weather clothes, whip carefully chosen, boss, spotter, starter, hostler, somebody loafing on you, you loafing on somebody, headway, man before and man behind, good day’s work, bad day’s work, pet stock, mean stock, first out, last out, turning-in at night; To think that these are so much and so nigh to other drivers—and he there takes no interest in them! 5 The markets, the government, the working-man’s wages—to think what account they are through our nights and days! To think that other working-men will make just as great account of them—yet we make little or no account! The vulgar and the refined—what you call sin, and what you call goodness—to think how wide a difference! To think the difference will still continue to others, yet we lie beyond the difference.
To think how much pleasure there is! Have you pleasure from looking at the sky? have you pleasure from poems? Do you enjoy yourself in the city? or engaged in business? or planning a nomination and election? or with your wife and family? Or with your mother and sisters? or in womanly housework? or the beautiful maternal cares? —These also flow onward to others—you and I flow onward, But in due time, you and I shall take less interest in them.
Your farm, profits, crops,—to think how engross’d you are! To think there will still be farms, profits, crops—yet for you, of what avail? 6 What will be, will be well—for what is, is well, To take interest is well, and not to take interest shall be well.
The sky continues beautiful, The pleasure of men with women shall never be sated, nor the pleasure of women with men, nor the pleasure from poems, The domestic joys, the daily housework or business, the building of houses—these are not phantasms—they have weight, form, location; Farms, profits, crops, markets, wages, government, are none of them phantasms, The difference between sin and goodness is no delusion, The earth is not an echo—man and his life, and all the things of his life, are well-consider’d.
You are not thrown to the winds—you gather certainly and safely around yourself; Yourself! Yourself! Yourself, forever and ever! 7 It is not to diffuse you that you were born of your mother and father—it is to identify you; It is not that you should be undecided, but that you should be decided; Something long preparing and formless is arrived and form’d in you, You are henceforth secure, whatever comes or goes.
The threads that were spun are gather’d, the weft crosses the warp, the pattern is systematic.
The preparations have every one been justified, The orchestra have sufficiently tuned their instruments—the baton has given the signal.
The guest that was coming—he waited long, for reasons—he is now housed, He is one of those who are beautiful and happy—he is one of those that to look upon and be with is enough.
The law of the past cannot be eluded, The law of the present and future cannot be eluded, The law of the living cannot be eluded—it is eternal, The law of promotion and transformation cannot be eluded, The law of heroes and good-doers cannot be eluded, The law of drunkards, informers, mean persons—not one iota thereof can be eluded.
8 Slow moving and black lines go ceaselessly over the earth, Northerner goes carried, and Southerner goes carried, and they on the Atlantic side, and they on the Pacific, and they between, and all through the Mississippi country, and all over the earth.
The great masters and kosmos are well as they go—the heroes and good-doers are well, The known leaders and inventors, and the rich owners and pious and distinguish’d, may be well, But there is more account than that—there is strict account of all.
The interminable hordes of the ignorant and wicked are not nothing, The barbarians of Africa and Asia are not nothing, The common people of Europe are not nothing—the American aborigines are not nothing, The infected in the immigrant hospital are not nothing—the murderer or mean person is not nothing, The perpetual successions of shallow people are not nothing as they go, The lowest prostitute is not nothing—the mocker of religion is not nothing as he goes.
9 Of and in all these things, I have dream’d that we are not to be changed so much, nor the law of us changed, I have dream’d that heroes and good-doers shall be under the present and past law, And that murderers, drunkards, liars, shall be under the present and past law, For I have dream’d that the law they are under now is enough.
If otherwise, all came but to ashes of dung, If maggots and rats ended us, then Alarum! for we are betray’d! Then indeed suspicion of death.
Do you suspect death? If I were to suspect death, I should die now, Do you think I could walk pleasantly and well-suited toward annihilation? 10 Pleasantly and well-suited I walk, Whither I walk I cannot define, but I know it is good, The whole universe indicates that it is good, The past and the present indicate that it is good.
How beautiful and perfect are the animals! How perfect the earth, and the minutest thing upon it! What is called good is perfect, and what is called bad is just as perfect, The vegetables and minerals are all perfect, and the imponderable fluids are perfect; Slowly and surely they have pass’d on to this, and slowly and surely they yet pass on.
11 I swear I think now that everything without exception has an eternal Soul! The trees have, rooted in the ground! the weeds of the sea have! the animals! I swear I think there is nothing but immortality! That the exquisite scheme is for it, and the nebulous float is for it, and the cohering is for it; And all preparation is for it! and identity is for it! and life and materials are altogether for it
Written by Lewis Carroll | Create an image from this poem

The Walrus and the Carpenter

The sun was shining on the sea,
   Shining with all his might;
He did his very best to make
   The billows smooth and bright—
And this was odd, because it was
   The middle of the night.
The moon was shining sulkily, Because she thought the sun Had got no business to be there After the day was done— "It's very rude of him," she said, "To come and spoil the fun!" The sea was wet as wet could be, The sands were dry as dry.
You could not see a cloud, because No cloud was in the sky; No birds were flying overhead— There were no birds to fly.
The Walrus and the Carpenter Were walking close at hand; They wept like anything to see Such quantities of sand.
"If this were only cleared away," They said, "it would be grand!" "If seven maids with seven mops Swept it for half a year, Do you suppose," the Walrus said, "That they could get it clear?" "I doubt it," said the Carpenter, And shed a bitter tear.
"O Oysters, come and walk with us!" The Walrus did beseech.
"A pleasant walk, a pleasant talk, Along the briny beach; We cannot do with more than four, To give a hand to each.
" The eldest Oyster looked at him, But never a word he said; The eldest Oyster winked his eye, And shook his heavy head— Meaning to say he did not choose To leave the oyster-bed.
But four young Oysters hurried up, All eager for the treat; Their coats were brushed, their faces washed, Their shoes were clean and neat— And this was odd, because, you know, They hadn't any feet.
Four other Oysters followed them, And yet another four; And thick and fast they came at last, And more, and more, and more— All hopping through the frothy waves, And scrambling to the shore.
The Walrus and the Carpenter Walked on a mile or so, And then they rested on a rock Conveniently low; And all the little Oysters stood And waited in a row.
"The time has come," the Walrus said, "To talk of many things: Of shoes—and ships—and sealing-wax— And cabbages—and kings— And why the sea is boiling hot— And whether pigs have wings.
" "But wait a bit," the Oysters cried, "Before we have our chat; For some of us are out of breath, And all of us are fat!" "No hurry!" said the Carpenter.
They thanked him much for that.
"A loaf of bread," the Walrus said, "Is what we chiefly need; Pepper and vinegar besides Are very good indeed— Now if you're ready, Oysters dear, We can begin to feed.
" "But not on us!" the Oysters cried, Turning a little blue.
"After such kindness, that would be A dismal thing to do!" "The night is fine," the Walrus said, "Do you admire the view?" "It was so kind of you to come! And you are very nice!" The Carpenter said nothing but "Cut us another slice.
I wish you were not quite so deaf— I've had to ask you twice!" "It seems a shame," the Walrus said, "To play them such a trick, After we've brought them out so far, And made them trot so quick!" The Carpenter said nothing but "The butter's spread too thick!" "I weep for you," the Walrus said; "I deeply sympathize.
" With sobs and tears he sorted out Those of the largest size, Holding his pocket-handkerchief Before his streaming eyes.
"O Oysters," said the Carpenter, "You've had a pleasant run! Shall we be trotting home again?" But answer came there none— And this was scarcely odd, because They'd eaten every one.
Written by Emanuel Xavier | Create an image from this poem

THE DEATH OF ART

 “Reading well is one of the great pleasures that solitude can afford you.
” -critic Harold Bloom, who first called slam poetry "the death of art.
” I am not a poet.
I want to be rich and buy things for my family.
Besides, I am sort of popular and can honestly say I’ve had a great sex life.
I am not a poet.
Georgia O' Keefe paintings do absolutely nothing for me.
I do not feel oppressed or depressed and no longer have anything to say about the President.
I am not a poet.
I do not like being called an "activist" because it takes away from those that are out on the streets protesting and fighting for our rights.
I am not a poet.
I eat poultry and fish and suck way too much dick to be considered a vegetarian.
I am not a poet.
I would most likely give my ass up in prison before trying to save it with poetry .
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and I’d like it! Heck, I’d probably be inspired.
I am not a poet.
I may value peace but I will not simply use a pen to unleash my anger.
I would fuck somebody up if I had to.
I am not a poet.
I may have been abused and had a difficult life but I don’t want pity.
I believe laughter and love heals.
I am not a poet.
I am not dying.
I write a lot about AIDS and how it has affected my life but, despite the rumors, I am not positive.
Believe it or not, weight loss amongst sexually active gay men could still be a choice.
I am not a poet.
I do not get Kerouac or honestly care much for Bukowski.
I am not a poet.
I don’t spend my weekends reading and writing.
I like to go out and party.
I like to have a few cocktails but I do not have a drinking problem regardless of what borough, city or state I may wake up in.
I am not a poet.
I don’t need drugs to open up my imagination.
I've been a dealer and had a really bad habit but that was long before I started writing.
I am not a poet.
I can seriously only tolerate about half an hour of spoken word before I start tuning out and thinking about my grocery list or what my cats are up to.
I am not a poet.
I only do poetry events if I know there will be cute guys there and I always carry business cards.
I am not a poet according to the scholars and academics and Harold Bloom.
I only write to masturbate my mind.
After all, fucking yourself is one of the great pleasures that solitude can afford you.
I am not a poet.
I am only trying to get attention and convince myself that poetry can save lives when my words simply and proudly contribute to “the death of art.
Written by Rudyard Kipling | Create an image from this poem

The Land

 When Julius Fabricius, Sub-Prefect of the Weald,
In the days of Diocletian owned our Lower River-field,
He called to him Hobdenius-a Briton of the Clay,
Saying: "What about that River-piece for layin'' in to hay?"

And the aged Hobden answered: "I remember as a lad
My father told your father that she wanted dreenin' bad.
An' the more that you neeglect her the less you'll get her clean.
Have it jest as you've a mind to, but, if I was you, I'd dreen.
" So they drained it long and crossways in the lavish Roman style-- Still we find among the river-drift their flakes of ancient tile, And in drouthy middle August, when the bones of meadows show, We can trace the lines they followed sixteen hundred years ago.
Then Julius Fabricius died as even Prefects do, And after certain centuries, Imperial Rome died too.
Then did robbers enter Britain from across the Northern main And our Lower River-field was won by Ogier the Dane.
Well could Ogier work his war-boat --well could Ogier wield his brand-- Much he knew of foaming waters--not so much of farming land.
So he called to him a Hobden of the old unaltered blood, Saying: "What about that River-piece; she doesn't look no good?" And that aged Hobden answered "'Tain't for me not interfere.
But I've known that bit o' meadow now for five and fifty year.
Have it jest as you've a mind to, but I've proved it time on ' time, If you want to change her nature you have got to give her lime!" Ogier sent his wains to Lewes, twenty hours' solemn walk, And drew back great abundance of the cool, grey, healing chalk.
And old Hobden spread it broadcast, never heeding what was in't.
-- Which is why in cleaning ditches, now and then we find a flint.
Ogier died.
His sons grew English-Anglo-Saxon was their name-- Till out of blossomed Normandy another pirate came; For Duke William conquered England and divided with his men, And our Lower River-field he gave to William of Warenne.
But the Brook (you know her habit) rose one rainy autumn night And tore down sodden flitches of the bank to left and right.
So, said William to his Bailiff as they rode their dripping rounds: "Hob, what about that River-bit--the Brook's got up no bounds? " And that aged Hobden answered: "'Tain't my business to advise, But ye might ha' known 'twould happen from the way the valley lies.
Where ye can't hold back the water you must try and save the sile.
Hev it jest as you've a mind to, but, if I was you, I'd spile!" They spiled along the water-course with trunks of willow-trees, And planks of elms behind 'em and immortal oaken knees.
And when the spates of Autumn whirl the gravel-beds away You can see their faithful fragments, iron-hard in iron clay.
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Georgii Quinti Anno Sexto, I, who own the River-field, Am fortified with title-deeds, attested, signed and sealed, Guaranteeing me, my assigns, my executors and heirs All sorts of powers and profits which-are neither mine nor theirs, I have rights of chase and warren, as my dignity requires.
I can fish-but Hobden tickles--I can shoot--but Hobden wires.
I repair, but he reopens, certain gaps which, men allege, Have been used by every Hobden since a Hobden swapped a hedge.
Shall I dog his morning progress o'er the track-betraying dew? Demand his dinner-basket into which my pheasant flew? Confiscate his evening faggot under which my conies ran, And summons him to judgment? I would sooner summons Pan.
His dead are in the churchyard--thirty generations laid.
Their names were old in history when Domesday Book was made; And the passion and the piety and prowess of his line Have seeded, rooted, fruited in some land the Law calls mine.
Not for any beast that burrows, not for any bird that flies, Would I lose his large sound council, miss his keen amending eyes.
He is bailiff, woodman, wheelwright, field-surveyor, engineer, And if flagrantly a poacher--'tain't for me to interfere.
"Hob, what about that River-bit?" I turn to him again, With Fabricius and Ogier and William of Warenne.
"Hev it jest as you've a mind to, but"-and here he takes com- mand.
For whoever pays the taxes old Mus' Hobden owns the land.
Written by John Betjeman | Create an image from this poem

Diary of a Church Mouse

 Here among long-discarded cassocks,
Damp stools, and half-split open hassocks,
Here where the vicar never looks
I nibble through old service books.
Lean and alone I spend my days Behind this Church of England baize.
I share my dark forgotten room With two oil-lamps and half a broom.
The cleaner never bothers me, So here I eat my frugal tea.
My bread is sawdust mixed with straw; My jam is polish for the floor.
Christmas and Easter may be feasts For congregations and for priests, And so may Whitsun.
All the same, They do not fill my meagre frame.
For me the only feast at all Is Autumn's Harvest Festival, When I can satisfy my want With ears of corn around the font.
I climb the eagle's brazen head To burrow through a loaf of bread.
I scramble up the pulpit stair And gnaw the marrows hanging there.
It is enjoyable to taste These items ere they go to waste, But how annoying when one finds That other mice with pagan minds Come into church my food to share Who have no proper business there.
Two field mice who have no desire To be baptized, invade the choir.
A large and most unfriendly rat Comes in to see what we are at.
He says he thinks there is no God And yet he comes .
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it's rather odd.
This year he stole a sheaf of wheat (It screened our special preacher's seat), And prosperous mice from fields away Come in to hear our organ play, And under cover of its notes Ate through the altar's sheaf of oats.
A Low Church mouse, who thinks that I Am too papistical, and High, Yet somehow doesn't think it wrong To munch through Harvest Evensong, While I, who starve the whole year through, Must share my food with rodents who Except at this time of the year Not once inside the church appear.
Within the human world I know Such goings-on could not be so, For human beings only do What their religion tells them to.
They read the Bible every day And always, night and morning, pray, And just like me, the good church mouse, Worship each week in God's own house, But all the same it's strange to me How very full the church can be With people I don't see at all Except at Harvest Festival.
Written by David Berman | Create an image from this poem

Self-Portrait At 28

 I know it's a bad title
but I'm giving it to myself as a gift
on a day nearly canceled by sunlight
when the entire hill is approaching
the ideal of Virginia
brochured with goldenrod and loblolly
and I think "at least I have not woken up
with a bloody knife in my hand"
by then having absently wandered
one hundred yards from the house
while still seated in this chair
with my eyes closed.
It is a certain hill the one I imagine when I hear the word "hill" and if the apocalypse turns out to be a world-wide nervous breakdown if our five billion minds collapse at once well I'd call that a surprise ending and this hill would still be beautiful a place I wouldn't mind dying alone or with you.
I am trying to get at something and I want to talk very plainly to you so that we are both comforted by the honesty.
You see there is a window by my desk I stare out when I am stuck though the outdoors has rarely inspired me to write and I don't know why I keep staring at it.
My childhood hasn't made good material either mostly being a mulch of white minutes with a few stand out moments, popping tar bubbles on the driveway in the summer a certain amount of pride at school everytime they called it "our sun" and playing football when the only play was "go out long" are what stand out now.
If squeezed for more information I can remember old clock radios with flipping metal numbers and an entree called Surf and Turf.
As a way of getting in touch with my origins every night I set the alarm clock for the time I was born so that waking up becomes a historical reenactment and the first thing I do is take a reading of the day and try to flow with it like when you're riding a mechanical bull and you strain to learn the pattern quickly so you don't inadverantly resist it.
II two I can't remember being born and no one else can remember it either even the doctor who I met years later at a cocktail party.
It's one of the little disappointments that makes you think about getting away going to Holly Springs or Coral Gables and taking a room on the square with a landlady whose hands are scored by disinfectant, telling the people you meet that you are from Alaska, and listen to what they have to say about Alaska until you have learned much more about Alaska than you ever will about Holly Springs or Coral Gables.
Sometimes I am buying a newspaper in a strange city and think "I am about to learn what it's like to live here.
" Oftentimes there is a news item about the complaints of homeowners who live beside the airport and I realize that I read an article on this subject nearly once a year and always receive the same image.
I am in bed late at night in my house near the airport listening to the jets fly overhead a strange wife sleeping beside me.
In my mind, the bedroom is an amalgamation of various cold medicine commercial sets (there is always a box of tissue on the nightstand).
I know these recurring news articles are clues, flaws in the design though I haven't figured out how to string them together yet, but I've begun to notice that the same people are dying over and over again, for instance Minnie Pearl who died this year for the fourth time in four years.
III three Today is the first day of Lent and once again I'm not really sure what it is.
How many more years will I let pass before I take the trouble to ask someone? It reminds of this morning when you were getting ready for work.
I was sitting by the space heater numbly watching you dress and when you asked why I never wear a robe I had so many good reasons I didn't know where to begin.
If you were cool in high school you didn't ask too many questions.
You could tell who'd been to last night's big metal concert by the new t-shirts in the hallway.
You didn't have to ask and that's what cool was: the ability to deduct to know without asking.
And the pressure to simulate coolness means not asking when you don't know, which is why kids grow ever more stupid.
A yearbook's endpages, filled with promises to stay in touch, stand as proof of the uselessness of a teenager's promise.
Not like I'm dying for a letter from the class stoner ten years on but.
.
.
Do you remember the way the girls would call out "love you!" conveniently leaving out the "I" as if they didn't want to commit to their own declarations.
I agree that the "I" is a pretty heavy concept and hope you won't get uncomfortable if I should go into some deeper stuff here.
IV four There are things I've given up on like recording funny answering machine messages.
It's part of growing older and the human race as a group has matured along the same lines.
It seems our comedy dates the quickest.
If you laugh out loud at Shakespeare's jokes I hope you won't be insulted if I say you're trying too hard.
Even sketches from the original Saturday Night Live seem slow-witted and obvious now.
It's just that our advances are irrepressible.
Nowadays little kids can't even set up lemonade stands.
It makes people too self-conscious about the past, though try explaining that to a kid.
I'm not saying it should be this way.
All this new technology will eventually give us new feelings that will never completely displace the old ones leaving everyone feeling quite nervous and split in two.
We will travel to Mars even as folks on Earth are still ripping open potato chip bags with their teeth.
Why? I don't have the time or intelligence to make all the connections like my friend Gordon (this is a true story) who grew up in Braintree Massachusetts and had never pictured a brain snagged in a tree until I brought it up.
He'd never broken the name down to its parts.
By then it was too late.
He had moved to Coral Gables.
V five The hill out my window is still looking beautiful suffused in a kind of gold national park light and it seems to say, I'm sorry the world could not possibly use another poem about Orpheus but I'm available if you're not working on a self-portrait or anything.
I'm watching my dog have nightmares, twitching and whining on the office floor and I try to imagine what beast has cornered him in the meadow where his dreams are set.
I'm just letting the day be what it is: a place for a large number of things to gather and interact -- not even a place but an occasion a reality for real things.
Friends warned me not to get too psychedelic or religious with this piece: "They won't accept it if it's too psychedelic or religious," but these are valid topics and I'm the one with the dog twitching on the floor possibly dreaming of me that part of me that would beat a dog for no good reason no reason that a dog could see.
I am trying to get at something so simple that I have to talk plainly so the words don't disfigure it and if it turns out that what I say is untrue then at least let it be harmless like a leaky boat in the reeds that is bothering no one.
VI six I can't trust the accuracy of my own memories, many of them having blended with sentimental telephone and margarine commercials plainly ruined by Madison Avenue though no one seems to call the advertising world "Madison Avenue" anymore.
Have they moved? Let's get an update on this.
But first I have some business to take care of.
I walked out to the hill behind our house which looks positively Alaskan today and it would be easier to explain this if I had a picture to show you but I was with our young dog and he was running through the tall grass like running through the tall grass is all of life together until a bird calls or he finds a beer can and that thing fills all the space in his head.
You see, his mind can only hold one thought at a time and when he finally hears me call his name he looks up and cocks his head and for a single moment my voice is everything: Self-portrait at 28.
Written by T S (Thomas Stearns) Eliot | Create an image from this poem

Four Quartets 2: East Coker

 I

In my beginning is my end.
In succession Houses rise and fall, crumble, are extended, Are removed, destroyed, restored, or in their place Is an open field, or a factory, or a by-pass.
Old stone to new building, old timber to new fires, Old fires to ashes, and ashes to the earth Which is already flesh, fur and faeces, Bone of man and beast, cornstalk and leaf.
Houses live and die: there is a time for building And a time for living and for generation And a time for the wind to break the loosened pane And to shake the wainscot where the field-mouse trots And to shake the tattered arras woven with a silent motto.
In my beginning is my end.
Now the light falls Across the open field, leaving the deep lane Shuttered with branches, dark in the afternoon, Where you lean against a bank while a van passes, And the deep lane insists on the direction Into the village, in the electric heat Hypnotised.
In a warm haze the sultry light Is absorbed, not refracted, by grey stone.
The dahlias sleep in the empty silence.
Wait for the early owl.
In that open field If you do not come too close, if you do not come too close, On a summer midnight, you can hear the music Of the weak pipe and the little drum And see them dancing around the bonfire The association of man and woman In daunsinge, signifying matrimonie— A dignified and commodiois sacrament.
Two and two, necessarye coniunction, Holding eche other by the hand or the arm Whiche betokeneth concorde.
Round and round the fire Leaping through the flames, or joined in circles, Rustically solemn or in rustic laughter Lifting heavy feet in clumsy shoes, Earth feet, loam feet, lifted in country mirth Mirth of those long since under earth Nourishing the corn.
Keeping time, Keeping the rhythm in their dancing As in their living in the living seasons The time of the seasons and the constellations The time of milking and the time of harvest The time of the coupling of man and woman And that of beasts.
Feet rising and falling.
Eating and drinking.
Dung and death.
Dawn points, and another day Prepares for heat and silence.
Out at sea the dawn wind Wrinkles and slides.
I am here Or there, or elsewhere.
In my beginning.
II What is the late November doing With the disturbance of the spring And creatures of the summer heat, And snowdrops writhing under feet And hollyhocks that aim too high Red into grey and tumble down Late roses filled with early snow? Thunder rolled by the rolling stars Simulates triumphal cars Deployed in constellated wars Scorpion fights against the Sun Until the Sun and Moon go down Comets weep and Leonids fly Hunt the heavens and the plains Whirled in a vortex that shall bring The world to that destructive fire Which burns before the ice-cap reigns.
That was a way of putting it—not very satisfactory: A periphrastic study in a worn-out poetical fashion, Leaving one still with the intolerable wrestle With words and meanings.
The poetry does not matter.
It was not (to start again) what one had expected.
What was to be the value of the long looked forward to, Long hoped for calm, the autumnal serenity And the wisdom of age? Had they deceived us Or deceived themselves, the quiet-voiced elders, Bequeathing us merely a receipt for deceit? The serenity only a deliberate hebetude, The wisdom only the knowledge of dead secrets Useless in the darkness into which they peered Or from which they turned their eyes.
There is, it seems to us, At best, only a limited value In the knowledge derived from experience.
The knowledge imposes a pattern, and falsifies, For the pattern is new in every moment And every moment is a new and shocking Valuation of all we have been.
We are only undeceived Of that which, deceiving, could no longer harm.
In the middle, not only in the middle of the way But all the way, in a dark wood, in a bramble, On the edge of a grimpen, where is no secure foothold, And menaced by monsters, fancy lights, Risking enchantment.
Do not let me hear Of the wisdom of old men, but rather of their folly, Their fear of fear and frenzy, their fear of possession, Of belonging to another, or to others, or to God.
The only wisdom we can hope to acquire Is the wisdom of humility: humility is endless.
The houses are all gone under the sea.
The dancers are all gone under the hill.
III O dark dark dark.
They all go into the dark, The vacant interstellar spaces, the vacant into the vacant, The captains, merchant bankers, eminent men of letters, The generous patrons of art, the statesmen and the rulers, Distinguished civil servants, chairmen of many committees, Industrial lords and petty contractors, all go into the dark, And dark the Sun and Moon, and the Almanach de Gotha And the Stock Exchange Gazette, the Directory of Directors, And cold the sense and lost the motive of action.
And we all go with them, into the silent funeral, Nobody's funeral, for there is no one to bury.
I said to my soul, be still, and let the dark come upon you Which shall be the darkness of God.
As, in a theatre, The lights are extinguished, for the scene to be changed With a hollow rumble of wings, with a movement of darkness on darkness, And we know that the hills and the trees, the distant panorama And the bold imposing façade are all being rolled away— Or as, when an underground train, in the tube, stops too long between stations And the conversation rises and slowly fades into silence And you see behind every face the mental emptiness deepen Leaving only the growing terror of nothing to think about; Or when, under ether, the mind is conscious but conscious of nothing— I said to my soul, be still, and wait without hope For hope would be hope for the wrong thing; wait without love, For love would be love of the wrong thing; there is yet faith But the faith and the love and the hope are all in the waiting.
Wait without thought, for you are not ready for thought: So the darkness shall be the light, and the stillness the dancing.
Whisper of running streams, and winter lightning.
The wild thyme unseen and the wild strawberry, The laughter in the garden, echoed ecstasy Not lost, but requiring, pointing to the agony Of death and birth.
You say I am repeating Something I have said before.
I shall say it again.
Shall I say it again? In order to arrive there, To arrive where you are, to get from where you are not, You must go by a way wherein there is no ecstasy.
In order to arrive at what you do not know You must go by a way which is the way of ignorance.
In order to possess what you do not possess You must go by the way of dispossession.
In order to arrive at what you are not You must go through the way in which you are not.
And what you do not know is the only thing you know And what you own is what you do not own And where you are is where you are not.
IV The wounded surgeon plies the steel That questions the distempered part; Beneath the bleeding hands we feel The sharp compassion of the healer's art Resolving the enigma of the fever chart.
Our only health is the disease If we obey the dying nurse Whose constant care is not to please But to remind of our, and Adam's curse, And that, to be restored, our sickness must grow worse.
The whole earth is our hospital Endowed by the ruined millionaire, Wherein, if we do well, we shall Die of the absolute paternal care That will not leave us, but prevents us everywhere.
The chill ascends from feet to knees, The fever sings in mental wires.
If to be warmed, then I must freeze And quake in frigid purgatorial fires Of which the flame is roses, and the smoke is briars.
The dripping blood our only drink, The bloody flesh our only food: In spite of which we like to think That we are sound, substantial flesh and blood— Again, in spite of that, we call this Friday good.
V So here I am, in the middle way, having had twenty years— Twenty years largely wasted, the years of l'entre deux guerres Trying to use words, and every attempt Is a wholly new start, and a different kind of failure Because one has only learnt to get the better of words For the thing one no longer has to say, or the way in which One is no longer disposed to say it.
And so each venture Is a new beginning, a raid on the inarticulate With shabby equipment always deteriorating In the general mess of imprecision of feeling, Undisciplined squads of emotion.
And what there is to conquer By strength and submission, has already been discovered Once or twice, or several times, by men whom one cannot hope To emulate—but there is no competition— There is only the fight to recover what has been lost And found and lost again and again: and now, under conditions That seem unpropitious.
But perhaps neither gain nor loss.
For us, there is only the trying.
The rest is not our business.
Home is where one starts from.
As we grow older The world becomes stranger, the pattern more complicated Of dead and living.
Not the intense moment Isolated, with no before and after, But a lifetime burning in every moment And not the lifetime of one man only But of old stones that cannot be deciphered.
There is a time for the evening under starlight, A time for the evening under lamplight (The evening with the photograph album).
Love is most nearly itself When here and now cease to matter.
Old men ought to be explorers Here or there does not matter We must be still and still moving Into another intensity For a further union, a deeper communion Through the dark cold and the empty desolation, The wave cry, the wind cry, the vast waters Of the petrel and the porpoise.
In my end is my beginning.
Written by Ezra Pound | Create an image from this poem

The Seafarer

 (From the early Anglo-Saxon text) 

May I for my own self song's truth reckon,
Journey's jargon, how I in harsh days
Hardship endured oft.
Bitter breast-cares have I abided, Known on my keel many a care's hold, And dire sea-surge, and there I oft spent Narrow nightwatch nigh the ship's head While she tossed close to cliffs.
Coldly afflicted, My feet were by frost benumbed.
Chill its chains are; chafing sighs Hew my heart round and hunger begot Mere-weary mood.
Lest man know not That he on dry land loveliest liveth, List how I, care-wretched, on ice-cold sea, Weathered the winter, wretched outcast Deprived of my kinsmen; Hung with hard ice-flakes, where hail-scur flew, There I heard naught save the harsh sea And ice-cold wave, at whiles the swan cries, Did for my games the gannet's clamour, Sea-fowls, loudness was for me laughter, The mews' singing all my mead-drink.
Storms, on the stone-cliffs beaten, fell on the stern In icy feathers; full oft the eagle screamed With spray on his pinion.
Not any protector May make merry man faring needy.
This he little believes, who aye in winsome life Abides 'mid burghers some heavy business, Wealthy and wine-flushed, how I weary oft Must bide above brine.
Neareth nightshade, snoweth from north, Frost froze the land, hail fell on earth then Corn of the coldest.
Nathless there knocketh now The heart's thought that I on high streams The salt-wavy tumult traverse alone.
Moaneth alway my mind's lust That I fare forth, that I afar hence Seek out a foreign fastness.
For this there's no mood-lofty man over earth's midst, Not though he be given his good, but will have in his youth greed; Nor his deed to the daring, nor his king to the faithful But shall have his sorrow for sea-fare Whatever his lord will.
He hath not heart for harping, nor in ring-having Nor winsomeness to wife, nor world's delight Nor any whit else save the wave's slash, Yet longing comes upon him to fare forth on the water.
Bosque taketh blossom, cometh beauty of berries, Fields to fairness, land fares brisker, All this admonisheth man eager of mood, The heart turns to travel so that he then thinks On flood-ways to be far departing.
Cuckoo calleth with gloomy crying, He singeth summerward, bodeth sorrow, The bitter heart's blood.
Burgher knows not -- He the prosperous man -- what some perform Where wandering them widest draweth.
So that but now my heart burst from my breast-lock, My mood 'mid the mere-flood, Over the whale's acre, would wander wide.
On earth's shelter cometh oft to me, Eager and ready, the crying lone-flyer, Whets for the whale-path the heart irresistibly, O'er tracks of ocean; seeing that anyhow My lord deems to me this dead life On loan and on land, I believe not That any earth-weal eternal standeth Save there be somewhat calamitous That, ere a man's tide go, turn it to twain.
Disease or oldness or sword-hate Beats out the breath from doom-gripped body.
And for this, every earl whatever, for those speaking after -- Laud of the living, boasteth some last word, That he will work ere he pass onward, Frame on the fair earth 'gainst foes his malice, Daring ado, .
.
.
So that all men shall honour him after And his laud beyond them remain 'mid the English, Aye, for ever, a lasting life's-blast, Delight mid the doughty.
Days little durable, And all arrogance of earthen riches, There come now no kings nor Cæsars Nor gold-giving lords like those gone.
Howe'er in mirth most magnified, Whoe'er lived in life most lordliest, Drear all this excellence, delights undurable! Waneth the watch, but the world holdeth.
Tomb hideth trouble.
The blade is layed low.
Earthly glory ageth and seareth.
No man at all going the earth's gait, But age fares against him, his face paleth, Grey-haired he groaneth, knows gone companions, Lordly men are to earth o'ergiven, Nor may he then the flesh-cover, whose life ceaseth, Nor eat the sweet nor feel the sorry, Nor stir hand nor think in mid heart, And though he strew the grave with gold, His born brothers, their buried bodies Be an unlikely treasure hoard.
Written by Emanuel Xavier | Create an image from this poem

WALKING WITH ANGELS

 for Lindsay

AIDS
knows the condom wrapped penetration 
of strangers and lovers, deep inside
only a tear away from risk

knows bare minimum t-cell level counts, 
replacing intoxicating cocktails
with jagged little pills

knows how to avoid a cure thanks to war
how to keep pharmaceutical corporations
and doctors in business

AIDS
knows the weight loss desired 
by supermodels,
knows the fearless meaning of a friends genuine kiss or hug
converts non-believers to religion 
and spirituality

comprehends loneliness
values the support of luminaries
smiles at the solidarity 
of single red ribbons

knows to dim the lights 
to elude detection
how to shame someone into hiding
from the rest of the world
to be grateful for the gift of clothing 
and shelter,
to remain silent, holding back the anger and frustration

AIDS
knows that time on earth 
is limited for all of us
that using lemons to make lemonade is better than drinking the Kool-Aid
but no matter how much you drink
you are always left dehydrated

knows working extensive hours
to pay hospital bills, 
the choice of survival
or taking pleasure in what is left of life

knows the solid white walls
you want to crash through 
and tear down
the thoughts of suicide 
in the back of your head

AIDS
knows the prosperous could be doing more with their wealth
and that everyone still thinks it is a deserving fate- for gays,
drug addicts, prostitutes, 
and the unfortunate children of such
born into a merciless world of posh handbags and designer jewelry

knows how to be used as another percentage to profit politicians
knows it doesn’t only affect humans 
but animals too, without bias
-providing fodder for art and something to be left behind

if there is a God
he has disregarded our prayers
left his angels behind to journey along with us
-none of us knowing exactly 
where we are headed
Written by Frank Bidart | Create an image from this poem

California Plush

 The only thing I miss about Los Angeles

is the Hollywood Freeway at midnight, windows down and
radio blaring
bearing right into the center of the city, the Capitol Tower
on the right, and beyond it, Hollywood Boulevard
blazing

--pimps, surplus stores, footprints of the stars

--descending through the city
 fast as the law would allow

through the lights, then rising to the stack
out of the city
to the stack where lanes are stacked six deep

 and you on top; the air
 now clean, for a moment weightless

 without memories, or
 need for a past.
The need for the past is so much at the center of my life I write this poem to record my discovery of it, my reconciliation.
It was in Bishop, the room was done in California plush: we had gone into the coffee shop, were told you could only get a steak in the bar: I hesitated, not wanting to be an occasion of temptation for my father but he wanted to, so we entered a dark room, with amber water glasses, walnut tables, captain's chairs, plastic doilies, papier-mâché bas-relief wall ballerinas, German memorial plates "bought on a trip to Europe," Puritan crosshatch green-yellow wallpaper, frilly shades, cowhide booths-- I thought of Cambridge: the lovely congruent elegance of Revolutionary architecture, even of ersatz thirties Georgian seemed alien, a threat, sign of all I was not-- to bode order and lucidity as an ideal, if not reality-- not this California plush, which also I was not.
And so I made myself an Easterner, finding it, after all, more like me than I had let myself hope.
And now, staring into the embittered face of my father, again, for two weeks, as twice a year, I was back.
The waitress asked us if we wanted a drink.
Grimly, I waited until he said no.
.
.
Before the tribunal of the world I submit the following document: Nancy showed it to us, in her apartment at the model, as she waited month by month for the property settlement, her children grown and working for their father, at fifty-three now alone, a drink in her hand: as my father said, "They keep a drink in her hand": Name Wallace du Bois Box No 128 Chino, Calif.
Date July 25 ,19 54 Mr Howard Arturian I am writing a letter to you this afternoon while I'm in the mood of writing.
How is everything getting along with you these fine days, as for me everything is just fine and I feel great except for the heat I think its lot warmer then it is up there but I don't mind it so much.
I work at the dairy half day and I go to trade school the other half day Body & Fender, now I am learning how to spray paint cars I've already painted one and now I got another car to paint.
So now I think I've learned all I want after I have learned all this.
I know how to straighten metals and all that.
I forgot to say "Hello" to you.
The reason why I am writing to you is about a job, my Parole Officer told me that he got letter from and that you want me to go to work for you.
So I wanted to know if its truth.
When I go to the Board in Feb.
I'll tell them what I want to do and where I would like to go, so if you want me to work for you I'd rather have you sent me to your brother John in Tonapah and place to stay for my family.
The Old Lady says the same thing in her last letter that she would be some place else then in Bishop, thats the way I feel too.
and another thing is my drinking problem.
I made up my mind to quit my drinking, after all what it did to me and what happen.
This is one thing I'll never forget as longs as I live I never want to go through all this mess again.
This sure did teach me lot of things that I never knew before.
So Howard you can let me know soon as possible.
I sure would appreciate it.
P.
S From Your Friend I hope you can read my Wally Du Bois writing.
I am a little nervous yet --He and his wife had given a party, and one of the guests was walking away just as Wallace started backing up his car.
He hit him, so put the body in the back seat and drove to a deserted road.
There he put it before the tires, and ran back and forth over it several times.
When he got out of Chino, he did, indeed, never do that again: but one child was dead, his only son, found with the rest of the family immobile in their beds with typhoid, next to the mother, the child having been dead two days: he continued to drink, and as if it were the Old West shot up the town a couple of Saturday nights.
"So now I think I've learned all I want after I have learned all this: this sure did teach me a lot of things that I never knew before.
I am a little nervous yet.
" It seems to me an emblem of Bishop-- For watching the room, as the waitresses in their back-combed, Parisian, peroxided, bouffant hairdos, and plastic belts, moved back and forth I thought of Wallace, and the room suddenly seemed to me not uninteresting at all: they were the same.
Every plate and chair had its congruence with all the choices creating these people, created by them--by me, for this is my father's chosen country, my origin.
Before, I had merely been anxious, bored; now, I began to ask a thousand questions.
.
.
He was, of course, mistrustful, knowing I was bored, knowing he had dragged me up here from Bakersfield after five years of almost managing to forget Bishop existed.
But he soon became loquacious, ordered a drink, and settled down for an afternoon of talk.
.
.
He liked Bishop: somehow, it was to his taste, this hard-drinking, loud, visited-by-movie-stars town.
"Better to be a big fish in a little pond.
" And he was: when they came to shoot a film, he entertained them; Miss A--, who wore nothing at all under her mink coat; Mr.
M--, good horseman, good shot.
"But when your mother let me down" (for alcoholism and infidelity, she divorced him) "and Los Angeles wouldn't give us water any more, I had to leave.
We were the first people to grow potatoes in this valley.
" When he began to tell me that he lost control of the business because of the settlement he gave my mother, because I had heard it many times, in revenge, I asked why people up here drank so much.
He hesitated.
"Bored, I guess.
--Not much to do.
" And why had Nancy's husband left her? In bitterness, all he said was: "People up here drink too damn much.
" And that was how experience had informed his life.
"So now I think I've learned all I want after I have learned all this: this sure did teach me a lot of things that I never knew before.
I am a little nervous yet.
" Yet, as my mother said, returning, as always, to the past, "I wouldn't change any of it.
It taught me so much.
Gladys is such an innocent creature: you look into her face and somehow it's empty, all she worries about are sales and the baby.
her husband's too good!" It's quite pointless to call this rationalization: my mother, for uncertain reasons, has had her bout with insanity, but she's right: the past in maiming us, makes us, fruition is also destruction: I think of Proust, dying in a cork-linked room, because he refuses to eat because he thinks that he cannot write if he eats because he wills to write, to finish his novel --his novel which recaptures the past, and with a kind of joy, because in the debris of the past, he has found the sources of the necessities which have led him to this room, writing --in this strange harmony, does he will for it to have been different? And I can't not think of the remorse of Oedipus, who tries to escape, to expiate the past by blinding himself, and then, when he is dying, sees that he has become a Daimon --does he, discovering, at last, this cruel coherence created by "the order of the universe" --does he will anything reversed? I look at my father: as he drinks his way into garrulous, shaky defensiveness, the debris of the past is just debris--; whatever I reason, it is a desolation to watch.
.
.
must I watch? He will not change; he does not want to change; every defeated gesture implies the past is useless, irretrievable.
.
.
--I want to change: I want to stop fear's subtle guidance of my life--; but, how can I do that if I am still afraid of its source?
Written by Rita Dove | Create an image from this poem

The Bistro Styx

 She was thinner, with a mannered gauntness
as she paused just inside the double
glass doors to survey the room, silvery cape
billowing dramatically behind her.
What's this, I thought, lifting a hand until she nodded and started across the parquet; that's when I saw she was dressed all in gray, from a kittenish cashmere skirt and cowl down to the graphite signature of her shoes.
"Sorry I'm late," she panted, though she wasn't, sliding into the chair, her cape tossed off in a shudder of brushed steel.
We kissed.
Then I leaned back to peruse my blighted child, this wary aristocratic mole.
"How's business?" I asked, and hazarded a motherly smile to keep from crying out: Are you content to conduct your life as a cliché and, what's worse, an anachronism, the brooding artist's demimonde? Near the rue Princesse they had opened a gallery cum souvenir shop which featured fuzzy off-color Monets next to his acrylics, no doubt, plus beared African drums and the occasional miniature gargoyle from Notre Dame the Great Artist had carved at breakfast with a pocket knife.
"Tourists love us.
The Parisians, of course"-- she blushed--"are amused, though not without a certain admiration .
.
.
" The Chateaubriand arrived on a bone-white plate, smug and absolute in its fragrant crust, a black plug steaming like the heart plucked from the chest of a worthy enemy; one touch with her fork sent pink juices streaming.
"Admiration for what?"Wine, a bloody Pinot Noir, brought color to her cheeks.
"Why, the aplomb with which we've managed to support our Art"--meaning he'd convinced her to pose nude for his appalling canvases, faintly futuristic landscapes strewn with carwrecks and bodies being chewed by rabid cocker spaniels.
"I'd like to come by the studio," I ventured, "and see the new stuff.
" "Yes, if you wish .
.
.
"A delicate rebuff before the warning: "He dresses all in black now.
Me, he drapes in blues and carmine-- and even though I think it's kinda cute, in company I tend toward more muted shades.
" She paused and had the grace to drop her eyes.
She did look ravishing, spookily insubstantial, a lipstick ghost on tissue, or as if one stood on a fifth-floor terrace peering through a fringe of rain at Paris' dreaming chimney pots, each sooty issue wobbling skyward in an ecstatic oracular spiral.
"And he never thinks of food.
I wish I didn't have to plead with him to eat.
.
.
.
"Fruit and cheese appeared, arrayed on leaf-green dishes.
I stuck with café crème.
"This Camembert's so ripe," she joked, "it's practically grown hair," mucking a golden glob complete with parsley sprig onto a heel of bread.
Nothing seemed to fill her up: She swallowed, sliced into a pear, speared each tear-shaped lavaliere and popped the dripping mess into her pretty mouth.
Nowhere the bright tufted fields, weighted vines and sun poured down out of the south.
"But are you happy?"Fearing, I whispered it quickly.
"What?You know, Mother"-- she bit into the starry rose of a fig-- "one really should try the fruit here.
" I've lost her, I thought, and called for the bill.
Written by Robert Frost | Create an image from this poem

Pauls Wife

 To drive Paul out of any lumber camp
All that was needed was to say to him,
"How is the wife, Paul?"--and he'd disappear.
Some said it was because be bad no wife, And hated to be twitted on the subject; Others because he'd come within a day Or so of having one, and then been Jilted; Others because he'd had one once, a good one, Who'd run away with someone else and left him; And others still because he had one now He only had to be reminded of-- He was all duty to her in a minute: He had to run right off to look her up, As if to say, "That's so, how is my wife? I hope she isn't getting into mischief.
" No one was anxious to get rid of Paul.
He'd been the hero of the mountain camps Ever since, just to show them, he bad slipped The bark of a whole tamarack off whole As clean as boys do off a willow twig To make a willow whistle on a Sunday April by subsiding meadow brooks.
They seemed to ask him just to see him go, "How is the wife, Paul?" and he always went.
He never stopped to murder anyone Who asked the question.
He just disappeared-- Nobody knew in what direction, Although it wasn't usually long Before they beard of him in some new camp, The same Paul at the same old feats of logging.
The question everywhere was why should Paul Object to being asked a civil question-- A man you could say almost anything to Short of a fighting word.
You have the answers.
And there was one more not so fair to Paul: That Paul had married a wife not his equal.
Paul was ashamed of her.
To match a hero She would have had to be a heroine; Instead of which she was some half-breed squaw.
But if the story Murphy told was true, She wasn't anything to be ashamed of.
You know Paul could do wonders.
Everyone's Heard how he thrashed the horses on a load That wouldn't budge, until they simply stretched Their rawhide harness from the load to camp.
Paul told the boss the load would be all right, "The sun will bring your load in"--and it did-- By shrinking the rawhide to natural length.
That's what is called a stretcher.
But I guess The one about his jumping so's to land With both his feet at once against the ceiling, And then land safely right side up again, Back on the floor, is fact or pretty near fact.
Well, this is such a yarn.
Paul sawed his wife Out of a white-pine log.
Murphy was there And, as you might say, saw the lady born.
Paul worked at anything in lumbering.
He'd been bard at it taking boards away For--I forget--the last ambitious sawyer To want to find out if he couldn't pile The lumber on Paul till Paul begged for mercy.
They'd sliced the first slab off a big butt log, And the sawyer had slammed the carriage back To slam end-on again against the saw teeth.
To judge them by the way they caught themselves When they saw what had happened to the log, They must have had a guilty expectation Something was going to go with their slambanging.
Something bad left a broad black streak of grease On the new wood the whole length of the log Except, perhaps, a foot at either end.
But when Paul put his finger in the grease, It wasn't grease at all, but a long slot.
The log was hollow.
They were sawing pine.
"First time I ever saw a hollow pine.
That comes of having Paul around the place.
Take it to bell for me," the sawyer said.
Everyone had to have a look at it And tell Paul what he ought to do about it.
(They treated it as his.
) "You take a jackknife, And spread the opening, and you've got a dugout All dug to go a-fishing in.
" To Paul The hollow looked too sound and clean and empty Ever to have housed birds or beasts or bees.
There was no entrance for them to get in by.
It looked to him like some new kind of hollow He thought he'd better take his jackknife to.
So after work that evening be came back And let enough light into it by cutting To see if it was empty.
He made out in there A slender length of pith, or was it pith? It might have been the skin a snake had cast And left stood up on end inside the tree The hundred years the tree must have been growing.
More cutting and he bad this in both hands, And looking from it to the pond nearby, Paul wondered how it would respond to water.
Not a breeze stirred, but just the breath of air He made in walking slowly to the beach Blew it once off his hands and almost broke it.
He laid it at the edge, where it could drink.
At the first drink it rustled and grew limp.
At the next drink it grew invisible.
Paul dragged the shallows for it with his fingers, And thought it must have melted.
It was gone.
And then beyond the open water, dim with midges, Where the log drive lay pressed against the boom, It slowly rose a person, rose a girl, Her wet hair heavy on her like a helmet, Who, leaning on a log, looked back at Paul.
And that made Paul in turn look back To see if it was anyone behind him That she was looking at instead of him.
(Murphy had been there watching all the time, But from a shed where neither of them could see him.
) There was a moment of suspense in birth When the girl seemed too waterlogged to live, Before she caught her first breath with a gasp And laughed.
Then she climbed slowly to her feet, And walked off, talking to herself or Paul, Across the logs like backs of alligators, Paul taking after her around the pond.
Next evening Murphy and some other fellows Got drunk, and tracked the pair up Catamount, From the bare top of which there is a view TO other hills across a kettle valley.
And there, well after dark, let Murphy tell it, They saw Paul and his creature keeping house.
It was the only glimpse that anyone Has had of Paul and her since Murphy saw them Falling in love across the twilight millpond.
More than a mile across the wilderness They sat together halfway up a cliff In a small niche let into it, the girl Brightly, as if a star played on the place, Paul darkly, like her shadow.
All the light Was from the girl herself, though, not from a star, As was apparent from what happened next.
All those great ruffians put their throats together, And let out a loud yell, and threw a bottle, As a brute tribute of respect to beauty.
Of course the bottle fell short by a mile, But the shout reached the girl and put her light out.
She went out like a firefly, and that was all.
So there were witnesses that Paul was married And not to anyone to be ashamed of Everyone had been wrong in judging Paul.
Murphy told me Paul put on all those airs About his wife to keep her to himself.
Paul was what's called a terrible possessor.
Owning a wife with him meant owning her.
She wasn't anybody else's business, Either to praise her or much as name her, And he'd thank people not to think of her.
Murphy's idea was that a man like Paul Wouldn't be spoken to about a wife In any way the world knew how to speak.
Written by William Wordsworth | Create an image from this poem

Resolution And Independence

 I 

There was a roaring in the wind all night; 
The rain came heavily and fell in floods; 
But now the sun is rising calm and bright; 
The birds are singing in the distant woods; 
Over his own sweet voice the Stock-dove broods; 
The Jay makes answer as the Magpie chatters; 
And all the air is filled with pleasant noise of waters.
II All things that love the sun are out of doors; The sky rejoices in the morning's birth; The grass is bright with rain-drops;--on the moors The hare is running races in her mirth; And with her feet she from the plashy earth Raises a mist, that, glittering in the sun, Runs with her all the way, wherever she doth run.
III I was a Traveller then upon the moor, I saw the hare that raced about with joy; I heard the woods and distant waters roar; Or heard them not, as happy as a boy: The pleasant season did my heart employ: My old remembrances went from me wholly; And all the ways of men, so vain and melancholy.
IV But, as it sometimes chanceth, from the might Of joy in minds that can no further go, As high as we have mounted in delight In our dejection do we sink as low; To me that morning did it happen so; And fears and fancies thick upon me came; Dim sadness--and blind thoughts, I knew not, nor could name.
V I heard the sky-lark warbling in the sky; And I bethought me of the playful hare: Even such a happy Child of earth am I; Even as these blissful creatures do I fare; Far from the world I walk, and from all care; But there may come another day to me-- Solitude, pain of heart, distress, and poverty.
VI My whole life I have lived in pleasant thought, As if life's business were a summer mood; As if all needful things would come unsought To genial faith, still rich in genial good; But how can He expect that others should Build for him, sow for him, and at his call Love him, who for himself will take no heed at all? VII I thought of Chatterton, the marvellous Boy, The sleepless Soul that perished in his pride; Of Him who walked in glory and in joy Following his plough, along the mountain-side: By our own spirits are we deified: We Poets in our youth begin in gladness; But thereof come in the end despondency and madness.
VIII Now, whether it were by peculiar grace, A leading from above, a something given, Yet it befell, that, in this lonely place, When I with these untoward thoughts had striven, Beside a pool bare to the eye of heaven I saw a Man before me unawares: The oldest man he seemed that ever wore grey hairs.
IX As a huge stone is sometimes seen to lie Couched on the bald top of an eminence; Wonder to all who do the same espy, By what means it could thither come, and whence; So that it seems a thing endued with sense: Like a sea-beast crawled forth, that on a shelf Of rock or sand reposeth, there to sun itself; X Such seemed this Man, not all alive nor dead, Nor all asleep--in his extreme old age: His body was bent double, feet and head Coming together in life's pilgrimage; As if some dire constraint of pain, or rage Of sickness felt by him in times long past, A more than human weight upon his frame had cast.
XI Himself he propped, limbs, body, and pale face, Upon a long grey staff of shaven wood: And, still as I drew near with gentle pace, Upon the margin of that moorish flood Motionless as a cloud the old Man stood, That heareth not the loud winds when they call And moveth all together, if it move at all.
XII At length, himself unsettling, he the pond Stirred with his staff, and fixedly did look Upon the muddy water, which he conned, As if he had been reading in a book: And now a stranger's privilege I took; And, drawing to his side, to him did say, "This morning gives us promise of a glorious day.
" XIII A gentle answer did the old Man make, In courteous speech which forth he slowly drew: And him with further words I thus bespake, "What occupation do you there pursue? This is a lonesome place for one like you.
" Ere he replied, a flash of mild surprise Broke from the sable orbs of his yet-vivid eyes, XIV His words came feebly, from a feeble chest, But each in solemn order followed each, With something of a lofty utterance drest-- Choice word and measured phrase, above the reach Of ordinary men; a stately speech; Such as grave Livers do in Scotland use, Religious men, who give to God and man their dues.
XV He told, that to these waters he had come To gather leeches, being old and poor: Employment hazardous and wearisome! And he had many hardships to endure: From pond to pond he roamed, from moor to moor; Housing, with God's good help, by choice or chance, And in this way he gained an honest maintenance.
XVI The old Man still stood talking by my side; But now his voice to me was like a stream Scarce heard; nor word from word could I divide; And the whole body of the Man did seem Like one whom I had met with in a dream; Or like a man from some far region sent, To give me human strength, by apt admonishment.
XVII My former thoughts returned: the fear that kills; And hope that is unwilling to be fed; Cold, pain, and labour, and all fleshly ills; And mighty Poets in their misery dead.
--Perplexed, and longing to be comforted, My question eagerly did I renew, "How is it that you live, and what is it you do?" XVIII He with a smile did then his words repeat; And said, that, gathering leeches, far and wide He travelled; stirring thus about his feet The waters of the pools where they abide.
"Once I could meet with them on every side; But they have dwindled long by slow decay; Yet still I persevere, and find them where I may.
" XIX While he was talking thus, the lonely place, The old Man's shape, and speech--all troubled me: In my mind's eye I seemed to see him pace About the weary moors continually, Wandering about alone and silently.
While I these thoughts within myself pursued, He, having made a pause, the same discourse renewed.
XX And soon with this he other matter blended, Cheerfully uttered, with demeanour kind, But stately in the main; and when he ended, I could have laughed myself to scorn to find In that decrepit Man so firm a mind.
"God," said I, "be my help and stay secure; I'll think of the Leech-gatherer on the lonely moor!"