Sarojini Naidu |
CHILDREN, ye have not lived, to you it seems
Life is a lovely stalactite of dreams,
Or carnival of careless joys that leap
About your hearts like billows on the deep
In flames of amber and of amethyst.
Children, ye have not lived, ye but exist
Till some resistless hour shall rise and move
Your hearts to wake and hunger after love,
And thirst with passionate longing for the things
That burn your brows with blood-red sufferings.
Till ye have battled with great grief and fears,
And borne the conflict of dream-shattering years,
Wounded with fierce desire and worn with strife,
Children, ye have not lived: for this is life.
Thomas Gray |
Now the storm begins to lower,
(Haste, the loom of Hell prepares!)
Iron-sleet of arrowy shower
Hurtles in the darkened air.
Glittering lances are the loom,
Where the dusky warp we strain,
Weaving many a soldier's doom,
Orkney's woe and Randver's bane.
See the grisly texture grow,
('Tis of human entrails made!)
And the weights that play below,
Each a gasping warrior's head.
Shafts for shuttles, dipped in gore,
Shoot the trembling cords along.
Sword, that once a monarch bore,
Keep the tissue close and strong.
Mista, black, terrific maid,
Sangrida, and Hilda, see,
Join the wayward work to aid;
'Tis the woof of victory.
Ere the ruddy sun be set,
Pikes must shiver, javelins sing,
Blade with clattering buckler meet,
Hauberk crash, and helmet ring.
(Weave the crimson web of war!)
Let us go, and let us fly
Where our friends the conflict share,
Where they triumph, where they die.
As the paths of fate we tread,
Wading through the ensanguined field,
Gondula and Geira, spread
O'er the youthful king your shield.
We the reins to slaughter give;
Ours to kill, and ours to spare;
Spite the dangers he shall live.
(Weave the crimson web of war!)
They whom once the desert beach
Pent within its bleak domain,
Soon their ample sway shall stretch
O'er the plenty of the plain.
Low the dauntless earl is laid,
Gored with many a gaping wound;
Fate demands a nobler head;
Soon a king shall bite the ground.
Long his loss shall Eirin weep
Ne'er again his likeness see;
Long her strains in sorrow steep,
Strains of immortality!
Horror covers all the heath;
Clouds of carnage blot the sun.
Sisters, weave the web of death;
Sisters, cease, the work is done.
Hail the task, and hail the hands!
Songs of joy and triumph sing!
Joy to the victorious bands
Triumph to the younger king.
Mortal, thou that hear'st the tale,
Learn the tenor of our song.
Scotland, through each winding vale
Far and wide the notes prolong.
Sisters, hence with spurs of speed;
Each her thundering falchion wield;
Each bestride her sable steed.
Hurry, hurry to the field!
David Herbert Lawrence |
The earth again like a ship steams out of the dark sea over
The edge of the blue, and the sun stands up to see us glide
Slowly into another day; slowly the rover
Vessel of darkness takes the rising tide.
I, on the deck, am startled by this dawn confronting
Me who am issued amazed from the darkness, stripped
And quailing here in the sunshine, delivered from haunting
The night unsounded whereon our days are shipped.
Feeling myself undawning, the day’s light playing upon me,
I who am substance of shadow, I all compact
Of the stuff of the night, finding myself all wrongly
Among the crowds of things in the sunshine jostled and racked.
I with the night on my lips, I sigh with the silence of death;
And what do I care though the very stones should cry me unreal, though the clouds
Shine in conceit of substance upon me, who am less than the rain.
Do I know the darkness within them? What are they but shrouds?
The clouds go down the sky with a wealthy ease
Casting a shadow of scorn upon me for my share in death; but I
Hold my own in the midst of them, darkling, defy
The whole of the day to extinguish the shadow I lift on the breeze.
Yea, though the very clouds have vantage over me,
Enjoying their glancing flight, though my love is dead,
I still am not homeless here, I’ve a tent by day
Of darkness where she sleeps on her perfect bed.
And I know the host, the minute sparkling of darkness
Which vibrates untouched and virile through the grandeur of night,
But which, when dawn crows challenge, assaulting the vivid motes
Of living darkness, bursts fretfully, and is bright:
Runs like a fretted arc-lamp into light,
Stirred by conflict to shining, which else
Were dark and whole with the night.
Runs to a fret of speed like a racing wheel,
Which else were aslumber along with the whole
Of the dark, swinging rhythmic instead of a-reel.
Is chafed to anger, bursts into rage like thunder;
Which else were a silent grasp that held the heavens
Arrested, beating thick with wonder.
Leaps like a fountain of blue sparks leaping
In a jet from out of obscurity,
Which erst was darkness sleeping.
Runs into streams of bright blue drops,
Water and stones and stars, and myriads
Of twin-blue eyes, and crops
Of floury grain, and all the hosts of day,
All lovely hosts of ripples caused by fretting
The Darkness into play.
More great poems below...
William Topaz McGonagall |
Edward Teach was a native of Bristol, and sailed from that port
On board a privateer, in search of sport,
As one of the crew, during the French War in that station,
And for personal courage he soon gained his Captain's approbation.
'Twas in the spring of 1717, Captajn Harnigold and Teach sailed from Providence
For the continent of America, and no further hence;
And in their way captured a vessel laden with flour,
Which they put on board their own vessels in the space of an hour.
They also seized two other vessels snd took some gallons of wine,
Besides plunder to a considerable value, and most of it most costly design;
And after that they made a prize of a large French Guinea-man,
Then to act an independent part Teach now began.
But the news spread throughout America, far and near,
And filled many of the inhabitants' hearts with fear;
But Lieutenant Maynard with his sloops of war directly steered,
And left James River on the 17th November in quest of Black Beard,
And on the evening of the 21st came in sight of the pirate;
And when Black Beard spied his sloops he felt elate.
When he saw the sloops sent to apprehend him,
He didn't lose his courage, but fiendishly did grin;
And told his men to cease from drinking and their tittle-tattle,
Although he had only twenty men on board, and prepare for battle.
In case anything should happen to him during the engagement,
One of his men asked him, who felt rather discontent,
Whether his wife knew where he had buried his pelf,
When he impiously replied that nobody knew but the devil and himself.
In the Morning Maynard weighed and sent his boat to sound,
Which, coming near the pirate, unfortunately ran aground;
But Maynard lightened his vessel of the ballast and water,
Whilst from the pirates' ship small shot loudly did clatter.
But the pirates' small shot or slugs didn't Maynard appal,
He told his men to take their cutlasses and be ready upon his call;
And to conceal themselves every man below,
While he would remain at the helm and face the foe.
Then Black Beard cried, "They're all knocked on the head,"
When he saw no hand upon deck he thought they were dead;
Then Black Beard boarded Maynard'a sloop without dismay,
But Maynard's men rushed upon deck, then began the deadly fray.
Then Black Beard and Maynard engaged sword in hand,
And the pirate fought manfully and made a bold stand;
And Maynard with twelve men, and Black Beard with fourteen,
Made the most desperate and bloody conflict that ever was seen.
At last with shots and wounds the pirate fell down dead,
Then from his body Maynard severed the pirate's head,
And suspended it upon his bowsprit-end,
And thanked God Who so mercifully did him defend.
Black Beard derived his name from his long black beard,
Which terrified America more than any comet that had ever appeared;
But, thanks be to God, in this age we need not be afeared,
Of any such pirates as the inhuman Black Beard.
Friedrich von Schiller |
No! I this conflict longer will not wage,
The conflict duty claims--the giant task;--
Thy spells, O virtue, never can assuage
The heart's wild fire--this offering do not ask
True, I have sworn--a solemn vow have sworn,
That I myself will curb the self within;
Yet take thy wreath, no more it shall be worn--
Take back thy wreath, and leave me free to sin.
Rent be the contract I with thee once made;--
She loves me, loves me--forfeit be the crown!
Blessed he who, lulled in rapture's dreamy shade,
Glides, as I glide, the deep fall gladly down.
She sees the worm that my youth's bloom decays,
She sees my spring-time wasted as it flees;
And, marvelling at the rigor that gainsays
The heart's sweet impulse, my reward decrees.
Distrust this angel purity, fair soul!
It is to guilt thy pity armeth me;
Could being lavish its unmeasured whole,
It ne'er could give a gift to rival thee!
Thee--the dear guilt I ever seek to shun,
O tyranny of fate, O wild desires!
My virtue's only crown can but be won
In that last breath--when virtue's self expires!
Walt Whitman |
MYSELF and mine gymnastic ever,
To stand the cold or heat—to take good aim with a gun—to sail a boat—to
horses—to beget superb children,
To speak readily and clearly—to feel at home among common people,
And to hold our own in terrible positions, on land and sea.
Not for an embroiderer;
(There will always be plenty of embroiderers—I welcome them also;)
But for the fibre of things, and for inherent men and women.
Not to chisel ornaments,
But to chisel with free stroke the heads and limbs of plenteous Supreme Gods, that The
may realize them, walking and talking.
Let me have my own way;
Let others promulge the laws—I will make no account of the laws;
Let others praise eminent men and hold up peace—I hold up agitation and conflict;
I praise no eminent man—I rebuke to his face the one that was thought most worthy.
(Who are you? you mean devil! And what are you secretly guilty of, all your life?
Will you turn aside all your life? Will you grub and chatter all your life?)
(And who are you—blabbing by rote, years, pages, languages, reminiscences,
Unwitting to-day that you do not know how to speak a single word?)
Let others finish specimens—I never finish specimens;
I shower them by exhaustless laws, as Nature does, fresh and modern continually.
I give nothing as duties;
What others give as duties, I give as living impulses;
(Shall I give the heart’s action as a duty?)
Let others dispose of questions—I dispose of nothing—I arouse unanswerable
Who are they I see and touch, and what about them?
What about these likes of myself, that draw me so close by tender directions and
I call to the world to distrust the accounts of my friends, but listen to my
I charge you, too, forever, reject those who would expound me—for I cannot expound
I charge that there be no theory or school founded out of me;
I charge you to leave all free, as I have left all free.
After me, vista!
O, I see life is not short, but immeasurably long;
I henceforth tread the world, chaste, temperate, an early riser, a steady grower,
Every hour the semen of centuries—and still of centuries.
I will follow up these continual lessons of the air, water, earth;
I perceive I have no time to lose.
Emily Dickinson |
A wild Blue sky abreast of Winds
That threatened it -- did run
And crouched behind his Yellow Door
Was the defiant sun --
Some conflict with those upper friends
So genial in the main
That we deplore peculiarly
Their arrogant campaign --
Henry Van Dyke |
O Music hast thou only heard
The laughing river, the singing bird,
The murmuring wind in the poplar-trees,--
Nothing but Nature's melodies?
Nay, thou hearest all her tones,
As a Queen must hear!
Sounds of wrath and fear,
Mutterings, shouts, and moans,
Madness, tumult, and despair,
All she has that shakes the air
With voices fierce and wild!
Thou art a Queen and not a dreaming child,--
Put on thy crown and let us hear thee reign
Triumphant in a world of storm and strain!
Echo the long-drawn sighs
Of the mounting wind in the pines;
And the sobs of the mounting waves that rise
In the dark of the troubled deep
To break on the beach in fiery lines.
Echo the far-off roll of thunder,
And ever louder, under
The blue-black curtain of cloud,
Where the lightning serpents gleam.
Echo the moaning
Of the forest in its sleep
Like a giant groaning
In the torment of a dream.
Now an interval of quiet
For a moment holds the air
In the breathless hush
Of a silent prayer.
Then the sudden rush
Of the rain, and the riot
Of the shrieking, tearing gale
Breaks loose in the night,
With a fusillade of hail!
Hear the forest fight,
With its tossing arms that crack and clash
In the thunder's cannonade,
While the lightning's forked flash
Brings the old hero-trees to the ground with a crash!
Hear the breakers' deepening roar,
Driven like a herd of cattle
In the wild stampede of battle,
Trampling, trampling, trampling, to overwhelm the shore!
Is it the end of all?
Will the land crumble and fall?
Nay, for a voice replies
Out of the hidden skies,
"Thus far, O sea, shalt thou go,
So long, O wind, shalt thou blow:
Return to your bounds and cease,
And let the earth have peace!"
O Music, lead the way--
The stormy night is past,
Lift up our hearts to greet the day,
And the joy of things that last.
The dissonance and pain
That mortals must endure,
Are changed in thine immortal strain
To something great and pure.
True love will conquer strife,
And strength from conflict flows,
For discord is the thorn of life
And harmony the rose.
Robert William Service |
The night before I left Milan
A mob jammed the Cathedral Square,
And high the tide of passion ran
As politics befouled the air.
A seething hell of human strife,
I shrank back from its evil core,
Seeing in this convulsive life
The living seeds of war.
To Barcelona then I came,
And oh the heavenly release!
From conflict and consuming flame
I knew the preciousness of peace.
Such veneration for the law!
How decorous was every one!
And then (significant) I saw
Each copper packed a tommy gun.
Well, maybe it is best that way.
Peace can mean more than liberty:
These people, state-directed, may
Be happier than those more free.
When politics wield evil grip,
And warring factions rise and fall,
May be the answer, after all.
Phillis Wheatley |
Who taught thee conflict with the pow'rs of night,
To vanquish satan in the fields of light?
Who strung thy feeble arms with might unknown,
How great thy conquest, and how bright thy crown!
War with each princedom, throne, and pow'r is o'er,
The scene is ended to return no more.
O could my muse thy seat on high behold,
How deckt with laurel, how enrich'd with gold!
O could she hear what praise thine harp employs,
How sweet thine anthems, how divine thy joys!
What heav'nly grandeur should exalt her strain!
What holy raptures in her numbers reign!
To sooth the troubles of the mind to peace,
To still the tumult of life's tossing seas,
To ease the anguish of the parents heart,
What shall my sympathizing verse impart?
Where is the balm to heal so deep a wound?
Where shall a sov'reign remedy be found?
Look, gracious Spirit, from thine heav'nly bow'r,
And thy full joys into their bosoms pour;
The raging tempest of their grief control,
And spread the dawn of glory through the soul,
To eye the path the saint departed trod,
And trace him to the bosom of his God.
Ruth Padel |
She can't believe it, can't go on.
She's going to give up painting.
So she paints Her final canvas, total-turn-off
A charcoal-burner's Smirnoff, The mirror of Loch Ness Reflecting the monster back to its own eye.
But something's wrong.
Those mad Black-body particles don't sing Her story of despair, the steel and
Of the storm.
This black has everything its own sweet way, Where's the I'd-like-to-kill-You conflict? Try once more, but this time add
A curve to all that straight.
And opposition White.
She paints black first.
A grindstone belly Hammering a smaller shape
Beneath a snake
Of in-betweening light.
"I feel like this.
I hope that you do, too, Black crater.
Kiss" And sees a voodoo flicker, where two worlds nearly touch
That flash, where white
Lets black get close, that dagger of not-quite contact,
Catspaw panic, quiver on the wheat
Field before thunder -
That's her own self, in paint, Splitting what she was from what she is.
As if everything that separates, unites.
from Voodoo Shop (Chatto, 2002), copyright © Ruth Padel 2002, used by permission of the author and the publisher
Walt Whitman |
RACE of veterans! Race of victors!
Race of the soil, ready for conflict! race of the conquering march!
(No more credulity’s race, abiding-temper’d race;)
Race henceforth owning no law but the law of itself;
Race of passion and the storm.
Robert Francis |
Lingo of birds was easier than lingo of peasants-
they were elusive, though, the birds, for excellent reasons.
He thought of Virgil, Virgil who wasn't there to chat with.
History he never forgave for letting Latin
lapse into Italian, a renegade jabbering
musical enough but not enough to call music
So he conversed with stones, imperial and papal.
Even the preposterous popes he could condone
a moment for the clean arrogance of their inscriptions.
He asked the Italians only to leave him in the past
alone, but this was what they emphatically never did.
Being the present, they never ceased to celebrate it.
Something was always brushing him on the street, satyr
or saint-impossible to say which the more foreign.
At home he was called touchy; here he knew he was.
Impossible to say.
The dazzling nude with sex
lovingly displayed like carven fruit, the black
robe sweeping a holy and unholy dust.
Always the flesh whether to lacerate of kiss-
Conspiracy of fauns and clerics smiling back
and forth at each other acquiescently through leaves.
Caught between wan monastic mountains wearing the tonsure
and the all-siren, ever-dimpling sea, he saw
(how could he fail?) at heart geography to blame.
So home to Concord where (as he might have known he would)
he found the Italy he wanted to remember.
Why had he sailed if not for the savour of returning?
An Italy distilled of all extreme, conflict,
Collusion-an Italy without the Italians-
in whose green context he could con again his Virgil.
In cedar he read cypress, in the wild apple, olive.
His hills would stand up favorably to the hills of Rome.
His arrowheads could hold their own with are Etruscan.
And Walden clearly was his Mediterranean
whose infinite colors were his picture gallery.
How far his little boat transported him-how far.
He coughed discreetly and we likewise coughed;
we waited and we heard him clear his throat.
How to be perfect prisoners of the past
this was the thing but now he too is past.
Shall we go sit beside the Mississippi
and watch the riffraft driftwood floating by?
Walt Whitman |
AH poverties, wincings, and sulky retreats!
Ah you foes that in conflict have overcome me!
(For what is my life, or any man’s life, but a conflict with foes—the old, the
You degradations—you tussle with passions and appetites;
You smarts from dissatisfied friendships, (ah wounds, the sharpest of all;)
You toil of painful and choked articulations—you meannesses;
You shallow tongue-talks at tables, (my tongue the shallowest of any;)
You broken resolutions, you racking angers, you smother’d ennuis;
Ah, think not you finally triumph—My real self has yet to come forth;
It shall yet march forth o’ermastering, till all lies beneath me;
It shall yet stand up the soldier of unquestion’d victory.
Robert William Service |
My only medals are the scars
I've won in weary, peacetime wars,
A-fighting for my little brood,
To win them shelter, shoon and food;
But most of all to give them faith
In God's good mercy unto death.
My sons have medals gleaming bright,
Proud trophies won in foreign fight;
But though their crosses bravely shine,
My boys can show no wounds like mine -
Grim gashes dolorously healed,
And inner ailings unrevealed.
Life-lasting has my battle been,
My enemy a fierce machine;
And I am marked by many a blow
In conflict with a tireless foe,
Till warped and bent beneath the beat
Of life's unruth I own defeat.
Yet strip me bare and you will see
A worthy warrior I be;
Although no uniform I've worn,
By wounds of labour I am torn;
Leave the their ribbands and their stars .
Behold! I proudly prize my scars.