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Best Famous Confusion Poems

Here is a collection of the all-time best famous Confusion poems. This is a select list of the best famous Confusion poetry. Reading, writing, and enjoying famous Confusion poetry (as well as classical and contemporary poems) is a great past time. These top poems are the best examples of confusion poems.

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by Phillis Wheatley | |

To a Lady on the Death of Her Husband

Grim monarch! see, depriv'd of vital breath,
A young physician in the dust of death:
Dost thou go on incessant to destroy,
Our griefs to double, and lay waste our joy?
"Enough" thou never yet wast known to say,
Though millions die, the vassals of thy sway:
Nor youth, nor science, nor the ties of love,
Nor aught on earth thy flinty heart can move.
The friend, the spouse from his dire dart to save, In vain we ask the sovereign of the grave.
Fair mourner, there see thy lov'd Leonard laid, And o'er him spread the deep impervious shade; Clos'd are his eyes, and heavy fetters keep His senses bound in never-waking sleep, Till time shall cease, till many a starry world Shall fall from heav'n, in dire confusion hurl'd, Till nature in her final wreck shall lie, And her last groan shall rend the azure sky: Not, not till then his active soul shall claim His body, a divine immortal frame.
But see the softly-stealing tears apace Pursue each other down the mourner's face; But cease thy tears, bid ev'ry sigh depart, And cast the load of anguish from thine heart: From the cold shell of his great soul arise, And look beyond, thou native of the skies; There fix thy view, where fleeter than the wind Thy Leonard mounts, and leaves the earth behind.
Thyself prepare to pass the vale of night To join for ever on the hills of light: To thine embrace his joyful sprit moves To thee, the partner of his earthly loves; He welcomes thee to pleasures more refin'd, And better suited to th' immortal mind.


by Ralph Waldo Emerson | |

Uriel

IT fell in the ancient periods 
Which the brooding soul surveys  
Or ever the wild Time coin'd itself 
Into calendar months and days.
This was the lapse of Uriel 5 Which in Paradise befell.
Once among the Pleiads walking Sayd overheard the young gods talking; And the treason too long pent To his ears was evident.
10 The young deities discuss'd Laws of form and metre just Orb quintessence and sunbeams What subsisteth and what seems.
One with low tones that decide 15 And doubt and reverend use defied With a look that solved the sphere And stirr'd the devils everywhere Gave his sentiment divine Against the being of a line.
20 'Line in nature is not found; Unit and universe are round; In vain produced all rays return; Evil will bless and ice will burn.
' As Uriel spoke with piercing eye 25 A shudder ran around the sky; The stern old war-gods shook their heads; The seraphs frown'd from myrtle-beds; Seem'd to the holy festival The rash word boded ill to all; 30 The balance-beam of Fate was bent; The bounds of good and ill were rent; Strong Hades could not keep his own But all slid to confusion.
A sad self-knowledge withering fell 35 On the beauty of Uriel; In heaven once eminent the god Withdrew that hour into his cloud; Whether doom'd to long gyration In the sea of generation 40 Or by knowledge grown too bright To hit the nerve of feebler sight.
Straightway a forgetting wind Stole over the celestial kind And their lips the secret kept 45 If in ashes the fire-seed slept.
But now and then truth-speaking things Shamed the angels' veiling wings; And shrilling from the solar course Or from fruit of chemic force 50 Procession of a soul in matter Or the speeding change of water Or out of the good of evil born Came Uriel's voice of cherub scorn And a blush tinged the upper sky 55 And the gods shook they knew not why.


by Wole Soyinka | |

Civilian and Soldier

My apparition rose from the fall of lead,
Declared, 'I am a civilian.
' It only served To aggravate your fright.
For how could I Have risen, a being of this world, in that hour Of impartial death! And I thought also: nor is Your quarrel of this world.
You stood still For both eternities, and oh I heard the lesson Of your traing sessions, cautioning - Scorch earth behind you, do not leave A dubious neutral to the rear.
Reiteration Of my civilian quandary, burrowing earth From the lead festival of your more eager friends Worked the worse on your confusion, and when You brought the gun to bear on me, and death Twitched me gently in the eye, your plight And all of you came clear to me.
I hope some day Intent upon my trade of living, to be checked In stride by your apparition in a trench, Signalling, I am a soldier.
No hesitation then But I shall shoot you clean and fair With meat and bread, a gourd of wine A bunch of breasts from either arm, and that Lone question - do you friend, even now, know What it is all about?


More great poems below...

by Francis Scott Key | |

Defence of Fort MHenry

 Tune -- ANACREON IN HEAVEN 
O! say can you see, by the dawn's early light,
What so proudly we hail'd at the twilight's last gleaming,
Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight,
O'er the ramparts we watch'd, were so gallantly streaming?
And the rockets' red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there --
O! say, does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O'er the land of the free, and the home of the brave?
On the shore, dimly seen through the mists of the deep,
Where the foe's haughty host in dread silence reposes,
What is that which the breeze o'er the towering steep,
As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses?
Now it catches the gleam of the morning's first beam,
In full glory reflected now shines on the stream --
'Tis the star-spangled banner, O! long may it wave
O'er the land of the free, and the home of the brave.
And where is that band who so vauntingly swore That the havock of war and the battle's confusion A home and a country should leave us no more? Their blood has wash'd out their foul foot-steps' pollution, No refuge could save the hireling and slave, From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave; And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave O'er the land of the free, and the home of the brave.
O! thus be it ever when freemen shall stand Between their lov'd home, and the war's desolation, Blest with vict'ry and peace, may the heav'n-rescued land Praise the power that hath made and preserv'd us a nation! Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just, And this be our motto -- "In God is our trust!" And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave O'er the land of the free, and the home of the brave.


by R S Thomas | |

A Peasant

 Iago Prytherch his name, though, be it allowed,
Just an ordinary man of the bald Welsh hills,
Who pens a few sheep in a gap of cloud.
Docking mangels, chipping the green skin From the yellow bones with a half-witted grin Of satisfaction, or churning the crude earth To a stiff sea of clods that glint in the wind— So are his days spent, his spittled mirth Rarer than the sun that cracks the cheeks Of the gaunt sky perhaps once in a week.
And then at night see him fixed in his chair Motionless, except when he leans to gob in the fire.
There is something frightening in the vacancy of his mind.
His clothes, sour with years of sweat And animal contact, shock the refined, But affected, sense with their stark naturalness.
Yet this is your prototype, who, season by season Against siege of rain and the wind's attrition, Preserves his stock, an impregnable fortress Not to be stormed, even in death's confusion.
Remember him, then, for he, too, is a winner of wars, Enduring like a tree under the curious stars.


by Arthur Hugh Clough | |

Through a Glass Darkly

 What we, when face to face we see
The Father of our souls, shall be,
John tells us, doth not yet appear;
Ah! did he tell what we are here!

A mind for thoughts to pass into,
A heart for loves to travel through,
Five senses to detect things near,
Is this the whole that we are here?

Rules baffle instincts--instinct rules,
Wise men are bad--and good are fools,
Facts evil--wishes vain appear,
We cannot go, why are we here?

O may we for assurance's sake,
Some arbitrary judgement take,
And wilfully pronounce it clear,
For this or that 'tis we are here?

Or is it right, and will it do,
To pace the sad confusion through,
And say:--It doth not yet appear,
What we shall be, what we are here?

Ah yet, when all is thought and said,
The heart still overrules the head;
Still what we hope we must believe,
And what is given us receive;

Must still believe, for still we hope
That in a world of larger scope,
What here is faithfully begun
Will be completed, not undone.
My child, we still must think, when we That ampler life together see, Some true result will yet appear Of what we are, together, here.


by Arthur Hugh Clough | |

There Is No God the Wicked Sayeth

 "There is no God," the wicked saith,
"And truly it's a blessing,
For what He might have done with us
It's better only guessing.
" "There is no God," a youngster thinks, "or really, if there may be, He surely did not mean a man Always to be a baby.
" "There is no God, or if there is," The tradesman thinks, "'twere funny If He should take it ill in me To make a little money.
" "Whether there be," the rich man says, "It matters very little, For I and mine, thank somebody, Are not in want of victual.
" Some others, also, to themselves, Who scarce so much as doubt it, Think there is none, when they are well, And do not think about it.
But country folks who live beneath The shadow of the steeple; The parson and the parson's wife, And mostly married people; Youths green and happy in first love, So thankful for illusion; And men caught out in what the world Calls guilt, in first confusion; And almost everyone when age, Disease, or sorrows strike him, Inclines to think there is a God, Or something very like Him.


by John Crowe Ransom | |

Prelude to an Evening

 Do not enforce the tired wolf
Dragging his infected wound homeward
To sit tonight with the warm children
Naming the pretty kings of France.
The images of the invaded mind Being as the monsters in the dreams Of your most brief enchanted headful, Suppose a miracle of confusion: That dreamed and undreamt become each other And mix the night and day of your mind; And it does not matter your twice crying From mouth unbeautied against the pillow To avert the gun of the same old soldier; For cry, cock-crow, or the iron bell Can crack the sleep-sense of outrage, Annihilate phantoms who were nothing.
But now, by our perverse supposal, There is a drift of fog on your mornings; You in your peignoir, dainty at your orange cup, Feel poising round the sunny room Invisible evil, deprived and bold.
All day the clock will metronome Your gallant fear; the needles clicking, The heels detonating the stair's cavern Freshening the water in the blue bowls For the buck berries, with not all your love, You shall he listening for the low wind, The warning sibilance of pines.
You like a waning moon, and I accusing Our too banded Eumenides, While you pronounce Noes wanderingly And smooth the heads of the hungry children.


by Mark Van Doren | |

The Deepest Dream

 The deepest dream is of mad governors, 
Down, down we feel it, till the very crust 
Of the world cracks, and where there was no dust, 
Atoms of ruin rise.
Confusion stirs, And fear; and all our thoughts--dark scavengers-- Feed on the center's refuse.
Hope is thrust Like wind away, and love sinks into lust For merest safety, meanest of levelers.
And then we wake.
Or do we? Sleep endures More than the morning can, when shadows lie Sharper than mountains, and the cleft is real Between us and our kings.
What sun assures Our courage, and what evening by and by Descends to rest us, and perhaps to heal?


by Ezra Pound | |

Francesca

 You came in out of the night
And there were flowers in your hand,
Now you will come out of a confusion of people,
Out of a turmoil of speech about you.
I who have seen you amid the primal things Was angry when they spoke your name IN ordinary places.
I would that the cool waves might flow over my mind, And that the world should dry as a dead leaf, Or as a dandelion see-pod and be swept away, So that I might find you again, Alone.


by William Strode | |

On A Dissembler

 Could any shewe where Plynyes people dwell
Whose head stands in their breast; who cannot tell
A smoothing lye because their open hart
And lippes are joyn'd so neare, I would depart
As quick as thought, and there forgett the wrongs
Which I have suffer'd by deceitfull tongues.
I should depart where soules departed bee, Who being freed from cloudy flesh, can see Each other so immediately, so cleare That none needs tongue to speak, nor ears to hear.
Were tongues intended to express the soule, And can wee better doe't with none at all? Were words first made our meaning to reveale, And are they usde our meaning to conceale? The ayre by which wee see, will that turne fogg? Our breath turne mist? Will that become a clogg That should unload the mynde? Fall we upon Another Babell's sub-confusion? And in the self-same language must wee finde A diverse faction of the words and minde? Dull as I am, that hugg'd such emptie ayre, And never mark't the deede (a phrase more faire, More trusty and univocall): joyne well Three or foure actions, we may quickly spell A hollow hart: if those no light can lend Read the whole sentence, and observe the end: I will not wayte so long: the guilded man On whom I ground my speech, no longer can Delude my sense; nor can the gracefull arte Of kind dissembling button upp his hart.
His well-spoke wrongs are such as hurtfull words Writt in a comely hand; or bloody swords Sheath'd upp in velvett; if hee draw on mee My armour proofe is incredulity.


by Robert William Service | |

My Suicide

 I've often wondered why
Old chaps who choose to die
In evil passes,
Before themselves they slay,
Invariably they
Take off their glasses?

As I strolled by the Castle cliff
An oldish chap I set my eyes on,
Who stood so singularly stiff
And stark against the blue horizon;
A poet fashioning a sonnet,
I thought - how rapt he labours on it!

And then I blinked and stood astare,
And questioned at my sight condition,
For I was seeing empty air -
He must have been an apparition.
Amazed I gazed .
.
.
no one was there: My sanity roused my suspicion.
I strode to where I saw him stand So solitary in the sun - Nothing! just empty sew and land, no smallest sign of anyone.
While down below I heard the roar Of waves, five hundred feet or more.
I had been drinking, I confess; There was confusion in my brain, And I was feeling more or less The fumes of overnight champagne.
So standing on that dizzy shelf: "You saw no one," I told myself.
"No need to call the local law, For after all its not your business.
You just imagined what you saw .
.
.
" Then I was seized with sudden dizziness: For at my feet, beyond denying, A pair of spectacles were lying.
And so I simply let them lie, And sped from that accursed spot.
No lover of the police am I, And sooner would be drunk than not.
"I'll scram," said I, "and leave the locals To find and trace them dam bi-focals.
"


by Rabindranath Tagore | |

The Gardener XVIII: When Two Sisters

 When the two sisters go to fetch
water, they come to this spot and
they smile.
They must be aware of somebody who stands behind the trees when- ever they go to fetch water.
The two sisters whisper to each other when they pass this spot.
They must have guessed the secret of that somebody who stands behind the trees whenever they go to fetch water.
Their pitchers lurch suddenly, and water spills when they reach this spot.
They must have found out that somebody's heart is beating who stands behind the trees whenever they go to fetch water.
The two sisters glance at each other when they come to this spot, and they smile.
There is a laughter in their swift- stepping feet, which makes confusion in somebody's mind who stands behind the trees whenever they go to fetch water.


by Isaac Watts | |

Psalm 139 part 2

 The wonderful formation of man.
'Twas from thy hand, my God, I came, A work of such a curious frame In me thy fearful wonders shine, And each proclaims thy skill divine.
Thine eyes did all my limbs survey, Which yet in dark confusion lay; Thou saw'st the daily growth they took, Formed by the model of thy book.
By thee my growing parts were named, And what thy sovereign counsels framed- The breathing lungs, the beating heart- Was copied with unerring art.
At last, to show my Maker's name, God stamped his image on my frame, And in some unknown moment joined The finished members to the mind.
There the young seeds of thought began, And all the passions of the man: Great God, our infant nature pays Immortal tribute to thy praise.
PAUSE.
Lord, since in my advancing age I've acted on life's busy stage, Thy thoughts of love to me surmount The power of numbers to recount.
I could survey the ocean o'er, And count each sand that makes the shore, Before my swiftest thoughts could trace The num'rous wonders of thy grace.
These on my heart are still impressed, With these I give my eyes to rest; And at my waking hour I find God and his love possess my mind.


by Isaac Watts | |

Psalm 44

 v.
1-8,8,15-26 C.
M.
The church's complaint in persecution.
Lord, we have heard thy works of old, Thy works of power and grace, When to our ears our fathers told The wonders of their days.
How thou didst build thy churches here, And make thy gospel known; Amongst them did thine arm appear, Thy light and glory shone.
In God they boasted all the day, And in a cheerful throng Did thousands meet to praise and pray, And grace was all their song.
But now our souls are seized with shame, Confusion fills our face, To hear the enemy blaspheme, And fools reproach thy grace.
Yet have we not forgot our God, Nor falsely dealt with heav'n, Nor have our steps declined the road Of duty thou hast giv'n; Though dragons all around us roar With their destructive breath, And thine own hand has bruised us sore Hard by the gates of death.
PAUSE.
We are exposed all day to die As martyrs for thy cause, As sheep for slaughter bound we lie By sharp and bloody laws.
Awake, arise, Almighty Lord, Why sleeps thy wonted grace? Why should we look like men abhorred Or banished from thy face? Wilt thou for ever cast us off, And still neglect our cries? For ever hide thine heav'nly love From our afflicted eyes? Down to the dust our soul is bowed, And dies upon the ground; Rise for our help, rebuke the proud, And all their powers confound.
Redeem us from perpetual shame, Our Savior and our God; We plead the honors of thy name, The merits of thy blood.


by Isaac Watts | |

Psalm 48 part 1

 v.
1-8 S.
M.
The church is the honor and safety of a nation.
[Great is the Lord our God, And let his praise be great; He makes his churches his abode, His most delightful seat.
These temples of his grace, How beautiful they stand! The honors of our native place, And bulwarks of our land.
] In Zion God is known, A refuge in distress; How bright has his salvation shone Through all her palaces! When kings against her joined, And saw the Lord was there, In wild confusion of the mind They fled with hasty fear.
When navies tall and proud Attempt to spoil our peace, He sends his tempests roaring loud, And sinks them in the seas.
Oft have our fathers told, Our eyes have often seen, How well our God secures the fold Where his own sheep have been.
In every new distress We'll to his house repair; We'll think upon his wondrous grace, And seek deliv'rance there.


by Phillis Wheatley | |

On The Death Of Dr. Samuel Marshall

 THROUGH thickest glooms look back, immortal
shade,
On that confusion which thy death has made:
Or from Olympus' height look down, and see
A Town involv'd in grief bereft of thee.
Thy Lucy sees thee mingle with the dead, And rends the graceful tresses from her head, Wild in her woe, with grief unknown opprest Sigh follows sigh deep heaving from her breast.
Too quickly fled, ah! whither art thou gone? Ah! lost for ever to thy wife and son! The hapless child, thine only hope and heir, Clings round his mother's neck, and weeps his sorrows there.
The loss of thee on Tyler's soul returns, And Boston for her dear physician mourns.
When sickness call'd for Marshall's healing hand, With what compassion did his soul expand? In him we found the father and the friend: In life how lov'd! how honour'd in his end! And must not then our AEsculapius stay To bring his ling'ring infant into day? The babe unborn in the dark womb is tost, And seems in anguish for its father lost.
Gone is Apollo from his house of earth, But leaves the sweet memorials of his worth: The common parent, whom we all deplore, From yonder world unseen must come no more, Yet 'midst our woes immortal hopes attend The spouse, the sire, the universal friend.


by Richard Wilbur | |

Shame

 It is a cramped little state with no foreign policy,
Save to be thought inoffensive.
The grammar of the language Has never been fathomed, owing to the national habit Of allowing each sentence to trail off in confusion.
Those who have visited Scusi, the capital city, Report that the railway-route from Schuldig passes Through country best described as unrelieved.
Sheep are the national product.
The faint inscription Over the city gates may perhaps be rendered, "I'm afraid you won't find much of interest here.
" Census-reports which give the population As zero are, of course, not to be trusted, Save as reflecting the natives' flustered insistence That they do not count, as well as their modest horror Of letting one's sex be known in so many words.
The uniform grey of the nondescript buildings, the absence Of churches or comfort-stations, have given observers An odd impression of ostentatious meanness, And it must be said of the citizens (muttering by In their ratty sheepskins, shying at cracks in the sidewalk) That they lack the peace of mind of the truly humble.
The tenor of life is careful, even in the stiff Unsmiling carelessness of the border-guards And douaniers, who admit, whenever they can, Not merely the usual carloads of deodorant But gypsies, g-strings, hasheesh, and contraband pigments.
Their complete negligence is reserved, however, For the hoped-for invasion, at which time the happy people (Sniggering, ruddily naked, and shamelessly drunk) Will stun the foe by their overwhelming submission, Corrupt the generals, infiltrate the staff, Usurp the throne, proclaim themselves to be sun-gods, And bring about the collapse of the whole empire.


by Richard Wilbur | |

Transit

 A woman I have never seen before
Steps from the darkness of her town-house door
At just that crux of time when she is made
So beautiful that she or time must fade.
What use to claim that as she tugs her gloves A phantom heraldry of all the loves Blares from the lintel? That the staggered sun Forgets, in his confusion, how to run? Still, nothing changes as her perfect feet Click down the walk that issues in the street, Leaving the stations of her body there Like whips that map the countries of the air.


by Anne Kingsmill Finch | |

The Man Bitten By Fleas

 A Peevish Fellow laid his Head 
On Pillows, stuff'd with Down; 
But was no sooner warm in Bed, 
With hopes to rest his Crown, 

But Animals of slender size, 
That feast on humane Gore, 
From secret Ambushes arise, 
Nor suffer him to snore; 

Who starts, and scrubs, and frets, and swears, 
'Till, finding all in vain, 
He for Relief employs his Pray'rs 
In this old Heathen strain.
Great Jupiter! thy Thunder send From out the pitchy Clouds, And give these Foes a dreadful End, That lurk in Midnight Shrouds: Or Hercules might with a Blow, If once together brought, This Crew of Monsters overthrow, By which such Harms are wrought.
The Strife, ye Gods! is worthy You, Since it our Blood has cost; And scorching Fevers must ensue, When cooling Sleep is lost.
Strange Revolutions wou'd abound, Did Men ne'er close their Eyes; Whilst those, who wrought them wou'd be found At length more Mad, than Wise.
Passive Obedience must be us'd, If this cannot be Cur'd; But whilst one Flea is slowly bruis'd, Thousands must be endur'd.
Confusion, Slav'ry, Death and Wreck Will on the Nation seize, If, whilst you keep your Thunders back, We're massacr'd by Fleas.
Why, prithee, shatter-headed Fop, The laughing Gods reply; Hast thou forgot thy Broom, and Mop, And Wormwood growing nigh? Go sweep, and wash, and strew thy Floor, As all good Housewives teach; And do not thus for Thunders roar, To make some fatal Breach: Which You, nor your succeeding Heir, Nor yet a long Descent Shall find out Methods to repair, Tho' Prudence may prevent.
For Club, and Bolts, a Nation call'd of late, Nor wou'd be eas'd by Engines of less Weight: But whether lighter had not done as well, Let their Great-Grandsons, or their Grandsons tell.


by Constantine P Cavafy | |

Waiting For The Barbarians

 What are we waiting for, assembled in the forum?

 The barbarians are due here today.
Why isn't anything happening in the senate? Why do the senators sit there without legislating? Because the barbarians are coming today.
What laws can the senators make now? Once the barbarians are here, they'll do the legislating.
Why did our emperor get up so early, and why is he sitting at the city's main gate on his throne, in state, wearing the crown? Because the barbarians are coming today and the emperor is waiting to receive their leader.
He has even prepared a scroll to give him, replete with titles, with imposing names.
Why have our two consuls and praetors come out today wearing their embroidered, their scarlet togas? Why have they put on bracelets with so many amethysts, and rings sparkling with magnificent emeralds? Why are they carrying elegant canes beautifully worked in silver and gold? Because the barbarians are coming today and things like that dazzle the barbarians.
Why don't our distinguished orators come forward as usual to make their speeches, say what they have to say? Because the barbarians are coming today and they're bored by rhetoric and public speaking.
Why this sudden restlessness, this confusion? (How serious people's faces have become.
) Why are the streets and squares emptying so rapidly, everyone going home so lost in thought? Because night has fallen and the barbarians have not come.
And some who have just returned from the border say there are no barbarians any longer.
And now, what's going to happen to us without barbarians? They were, those people, a kind of solution.


by Edwin Arlington Robinson | |

Eros Turannos

 She fears him, and will always ask 
What fated her to choose him; 
She meets in his engaging mask 
All reason to refuse him.
But what she meets and what she fears Are less than are the downward years, Drawn slowly to the foamless weirs Of age, were she to lose him.
Between a blurred sagacity That once had power to sound him, And Love, that will not let him be The Judas that she found him, Her pride assuages her almost As if it were alone the cost-- He sees that he will not be lost, And waits, and looks around him.
A sense of ocean and old trees Envelops and allures him; Tradition, touching all he sees, Beguiles and reassures him.
And all her doubts of what he says Are dimmed by what she knows of days, Till even Prejudice delays And fades, and she secures him.
The falling leaf inaugurates The reign of her confusion; The pounding wave reverberates The dirge of her illusion.
And Home, where passion lived and died, Becomes a place where she can hide, While all the town and harbor side Vibrate with her seclusion.
We tell you, tapping on our brows, The story as it should be, As if the story of a house Were told, or ever could be.
We'll have no kindly veil between Her visions and those we have seen-- As if we guessed what hers have been, Or what they are or would be.
Meanwhile we do no harm, for they That with a god have striven, Not hearing much of what we say, Take what the god has given.
Though like waves breaking it may be, Or like a changed familiar tree, Or like a stairway to the sea, Where down the blind are driven.


by Edwin Arlington Robinson | |

The False Gods

 “We are false and evanescent, and aware of our deceit, 
From the straw that is our vitals to the clay that is our feet.
You may serve us if you must, and you shall have your wage of ashes,— Though arrears due thereafter may be hard for you to meet.
“You may swear that we are solid, you may say that we are strong, But we know that we are neither and we say that you are wrong; You may find an easy worship in acclaiming our indulgence, But your large admiration of us now is not for long.
“If your doom is to adore us with a doubt that’s never still, And you pray to see our faces—pray in earnest, and you will.
You may gaze at us and live, and live assured of our confusion: For the False Gods are mortal, and are made for you to kill.
“And you may as well observe, while apprehensively at ease With an Art that’s inorganic and is anything you please, That anon your newest ruin may lie crumbling unregarded, Like an old shrine forgotten in a forest of new trees.
“Howsoever like no other be the mode you may employ, There’s an order in the ages for the ages to enjoy; Though the temples you are shaping and the passions you are singing Are a long way from Athens and a longer way from Troy.
“When we promise more than ever of what never shall arrive, And you seem a little more than ordinarily alive, Make a note that you are sure you understand our obligations— For there’s grief always auditing where two and two are five.
“There was this for us to say and there was this for you to know, Though it humbles and it hurts us when we have to tell you so.
If you doubt the only truth in all our perjured composition, May the True Gods attend you and forget us when we go.


by Edwin Arlington Robinson | |

Siege Perilous

 Long warned of many terrors more severe 
To scorch him than hell’s engines could awaken, 
He scanned again, too far to be so near, 
The fearful seat no man had ever taken.
So many other men with older eyes Than his to see with older sight behind them Had known so long their one way to be wise,— Was any other thing to do than mind them? So many a blasting parallel had seared Confusion on his faith,—could he but wonder If he were mad and right, or if he feared God’s fury told in shafted flame and thunder? There fell one day upon his eyes a light Ethereal, and he heard no more men speaking; He saw their shaken heads, but no long sight Was his but for the end that he went seeking.
The end he sought was not the end; the crown He won shall unto many still be given.
Moreover, there was reason here to frown: No fury thundered, no flame fell from heaven.


by Friedrich von Schiller | |

The Dance

 See how, like lightest waves at play, the airy dancers fleet;
And scarcely feels the floor the wings of those harmonious feet.
Ob, are they flying shadows from their native forms set free? Or phantoms in the fairy ring that summer moonbeams see? As, by the gentle zephyr blown, some light mist flees in air, As skiffs that skim adown the tide, when silver waves are fair, So sports the docile footstep to the heave of that sweet measure, As music wafts the form aloft at its melodious pleasure, Now breaking through the woven chain of the entangled dance, From where the ranks the thickest press, a bolder pair advance, The path they leave behind them lost--wide open the path beyond, The way unfolds or closes up as by a magic wand.
See now, they vanish from the gaze in wild confusion blended; All, in sweet chaos whirled again, that gentle world is ended! No!--disentangled glides the knot, the gay disorder ranges-- The only system ruling here, a grace that ever changes.
For ay destroyed--for ay renewed, whirls on that fair creation; And yet one peaceful law can still pervade in each mutation.
And what can to the reeling maze breathe harmony and vigor, And give an order and repose to every gliding figure? That each a ruler to himself doth but himself obey, Yet through the hurrying course still keeps his own appointed way.
What, would'st thou know? It is in truth the mighty power of tune, A power that every step obeys, as tides obey the moon; That threadeth with a golden clue the intricate employment, Curbs bounding strength to tranquil grace, and tames the wild enjoyment.
And comes the world's wide harmony in vain upon thine ears? The stream of music borne aloft from yonder choral spheres? And feel'st thou not the measure which eternal Nature keeps? The whirling dance forever held in yonder azure deeps? The suns that wheel in varying maze?--That music thou discernest? No! Thou canst honor that in sport which thou forgettest in earnest.