Christina Rossetti |
Remember me when I am gone away,
Gone far away into the silent land;
When you can no more hold me by the hand,
Nor I half turn to go yet turning stay.
Remember me when no more day by day
You tell me of our future that you plann'd:
Only remember me; you understand
It will be late to counsel then or pray.
Yet if you should forget me for a while
And afterwards remember, do not grieve:
For if the darkness and corruption leave
A vestige of the thoughts that once I had,
Better by far you should forget and smile
Than that you should remember and be sad.
Robinson Jeffers |
That public men publish falsehoods
Is nothing new.
That America must accept
Like the historical republics corruption and empire
Has been known for years.
Be angry at the sun for setting
If these things anger you.
Watch the wheel slope and turn,
They are all bound on the wheel, these people, those warriors.
This republic, Europe, Asia.
Observe them gesticulating,
Observe them going down.
The gang serves lies, the passionate
Man plays his part; the cold passion for truth
Hunts in no pack.
You are not Catullus, you know,
To lampoon these crude sketches of Caesar.
You are far
From Dante's feet, but even farther from his dirty
Let boys want pleasure, and men
Struggle for power, and women perhaps for fame,
And the servile to serve a Leader and the dupes to be duped.
Yours is not theirs.
Paul Eluard |
Of all the springtimes of the world
This one is the ugliest
Of all of my ways of being
To be trusting is the best
Grass pushes up snow
Like the stone of a tomb
But I sleep within the storm
And awaken eyes bright
Slowness, brief time ends
Where all streets must pass
Through my innermost recesses
So that I would meet someone
I don’t listen to monsters
I know them and all that they say
I see only beautiful faces
Good faces, sure of themselves
Certain soon to ruin their masters
The women’s role
As they sing, the maids dash forward
To tidy up the killing fields
Well-powdered girls, quickly to their knees
Their hands -- reaching for the fresh air --
Are blue like never before
What a glorious day!
Look at their hands, the dead
Look at their liquid eyes
This is the toilet of transience
The final toilet of life
Stones sink and disappear
In the vast, primal waters
The final toilet of time
Hardly a memory remains
the dried-up well of virtue
In the long, oppressive absences
One surrenders to tender flesh
Under the spell of weakness
As deep as the silence
As deep as the silence
Of a corpse under ground
With nothing but darkness in mind
As dull and deaf
As autumn by the pond
Covered with stale shame
Poison, deprived of its flower
And of its golden beasts
out its night onto man
You, my patient one
Head held high and proudly
Organ of the sluggish night
Concealing all of heaven
And its favor
Prepare for vengeance
A bed where I'll be born
First march, the voice of another
Laughing at sky and planets
Drunk with their confidence
The wise men wish for sons
And for sons from their sons
Until they all perish in vain
Time burdens only fools
While Hell alone prospers
And the wise men are absurd
Day surprises me and night scares me
haunts me and winter follows me
An animal walking on the snow has placed
Its paws in the sand or in the mud
Its paws have traveled
From further afar than my own steps
On a path where death
Has the imprints of life
A flawless fire
The threat under the red sky
Came from below -- jaws
And scales and links
Of a slippery, heavy chain
Life was spread about generously
So that death took seriously
The debt it was paid without a thought
Death was the God of love
And the conquerors in a kiss
Swooned upon their victims
Corruption gained courage
And yet, beneath the red sky
Under the appetites for blood
Under the dismal starvation
The cavern closed
The kind earth filled
The graves dug in advance
Children were no longer afraid
Of maternal depths
And madness and stupidity
And vulgarity make way
For humankind and brotherhood
No longer fighting against life --
For an everlasting humankind
On my school notebooks
On my desk, on the trees
On the sand, on the snow
I write your name
On all the read pages
On all the empty pages
Stone, blood, paper or ash
I write your name
On the golden images
On the weapons of warriors
On the crown of kings
I write your name
On the jungle and the desert
On the nests, on the broom
On the echo of my childhood
I write your name
On the wonders of nights
On the white bread of days
On the seasons betrothed
I write your name
d'azur On all my blue rags
On the sun-molded pond
On the moon-enlivened lake
I write your name
On the fields, on the horizon
On the wings of birds
And on the mill of shadows
I write your name
On every burst of dawn
On the sea, on the boats
On the insane mountain
I write your name
On the foam of clouds
On the sweat of the storm
On the rain, thick and insipid
I write your name
On the shimmering shapes
On the colorful bells
On the physical truth
I write your name
On the alert pathways
On the wide-spread roads
On the overflowing places
I write your name
On the lamp that is ignited
On the lamp that is dimmed
On my reunited houses
I write your name
On the fruit cut in two
Of the mirror and of my room
On my bed, an empty shell
I write your name
On my dog, young and greedy
On his pricked-up ears
On his clumsy paw
I write your name
On the springboard of my door
On the familiar objects
On the wave of blessed fire
I write your name
On all harmonious flesh
On the face of my friends
On every out-stretched hand
I write your name
On the window-pane of surprises
On the careful lips
I write your name
On my destroyed shelter
On my collapsed beacon
On the walls of my weariness
I write your name
On absence without want
On naked solitude
On the steps of death
I write your name
On regained health
On vanished risk
On hope free from memory
I write your name
And by the power of one word
I begin my life again
I am born to know you
To call you by name: Liberty!
Anne Bronte |
A dreadful darkness closes in
On my bewildered mind;
O let me suffer and not sin,
Be tortured yet resigned.
Through all this world of whelming mist
Still let me look to Thee,
And give me courage to resist
The Tempter till he flee.
Weary I am -- O give me strength
And leave me not to faint;
Say Thou wilt comfort me at length
And pity my complaint.
I've begged to serve Thee heart and soul,
To sacrifice to Thee
No niggard portion, but the whole
Of my identity.
I hoped amid the brave and strong
My portioned task might lie,
To toil amid the labouring throng
With purpose pure and high.
But Thou hast fixed another part,
And Thou hast fixed it well;
I said so with my breaking heart
When first the anguish fell.
For Thou hast taken my delight
And hope of life away,
And bid me watch the painful night
And wait the weary day.
The hope and the delight were Thine;
I bless Thee for their loan;
I gave Thee while I deemed them mine
Too little thanks, I own.
Shall I with joy Thy blessings share
And not endure their loss?
Or hope the martyr's crown to wear
And cast away the cross?
These weary hours will not be lost,
These days of passive misery,
These nights of darkness anguish tost
If I can fix my heart on Thee.
Weak and weary though I lie,
Crushed with sorrow, worn with pain,
Still I may lift to Heaven mine eyes
And strive and labour not in vain,
That inward strife against the sins
That ever wait on suffering;
To watch and strike where first begins
Each ill that would corruption bring,
That secret labour to sustain
With humble patience every blow,
To gather fortitude from pain
And hope and holiness from woe.
Thus let me serve Thee from my heart
Whatever be my written fate,
Whether thus early to depart
Or yet awhile to wait.
If Thou shouldst bring me back to life
More humbled I should be;
More wise, more strengthened for the strife,
More apt to lean on Thee.
Should Death be standing at the gate
Thus should I keep my vow;
But, Lord, whate'er my future fate
So let me serve Thee now.
Walt Whitman |
(The war is completed—the price is paid—the title is settled beyond recall;)
Let every one answer! let those who sleep be waked! let none evade!
Must we still go on with our affectations and sneaking?
Let me bring this to a close—I pronounce openly for a new distribution of roles;
Let that which stood in front go behind! and let that which was behind advance to the
Let murderers, bigots, fools, unclean persons, offer new propositions!
Let the old propositions be postponed!
Let faces and theories be turn’d inside out! let meanings be freely criminal, as well
Let there be no suggestion above the suggestion of drudgery!
Let none be pointed toward his destination! (Say! do you know your destination?)
Let men and women be mock’d with bodies and mock’d with Souls!
Let the love that waits in them, wait! let it die, or pass stillborn to other spheres!
Let the sympathy that waits in every man, wait! or let it also pass, a dwarf, to other
Let contradictions prevail! let one thing contradict another! and let one line of my poems
Let the people sprawl with yearning, aimless hands! let their tongues be broken! let their
be discouraged! let none descend into their hearts with the fresh lusciousness of love!
(Stifled, O days! O lands! in every public and private corruption!
Smother’d in thievery, impotence, shamelessness, mountain-high;
Brazen effrontery, scheming, rolling like ocean’s waves around and upon you, O my
For not even those thunderstorms, nor fiercest lightnings of the war, have purified the
—Let the theory of America still be management, caste, comparison! (Say! what other
Let them that distrust birth and death still lead the rest! (Say! why shall they not lead
Let the crust of hell be neared and trod on! let the days be darker than the nights! let
slumber bring less slumber than waking time brings!
Let the world never appear to him or her for whom it was all made!
Let the heart of the young man still exile itself from the heart of the old man! and let
heart of the old man be exiled from that of the young man!
Let the sun and moon go! let scenery take the applause of the audience! let there be
under the stars!
Let freedom prove no man’s inalienable right! every one who can tyrannize, let him
tyrannize to his satisfaction!
Let none but infidels be countenanced!
Let the eminence of meanness, treachery, sarcasm, hate, greed, indecency, impotence, lust,
taken for granted above all! let writers, judges, governments, households, religions,
philosophies, take such for granted above all!
Let the worst men beget children out of the worst women!
Let the priest still play at immortality!
Let death be inaugurated!
Let nothing remain but the ashes of teachers, artists, moralists, lawyers, and
Let him who is without my poems be assassinated!
Let the cow, the horse, the camel, the garden-bee—let the mudfish, the lobster, the
mussel, eel, the sting-ray, and the grunting pig-fish—let these, and the like of
put on a perfect equality with man and woman!
Let churches accommodate serpents, vermin, and the corpses of those who have died of the
filthy of diseases!
Let marriage slip down among fools, and be for none but fools!
Let men among themselves talk and think forever obscenely of women! and let women among
themselves talk and think obscenely of men!
Let us all, without missing one, be exposed in public, naked, monthly, at the peril of our
lives! let our bodies be freely handled and examined by whoever chooses!
Let nothing but copies at second hand be permitted to exist upon the earth!
Let the earth desert God, nor let there ever henceforth be mention’d the name of God!
Let there be no God!
Let there be money, business, imports, exports, custom, authority, precedents, pallor,
dyspepsia, smut, ignorance, unbelief!
Let judges and criminals be transposed! let the prison-keepers be put in prison! let those
were prisoners take the keys! Say! why might they not just as well be transposed?)
Let the slaves be masters! let the masters become slaves!
Let the reformers descend from the stands where they are forever bawling! let an idiot or
insane person appear on each of the stands!
Let the Asiatic, the African, the European, the American, and the Australian, go armed
the murderous stealthiness of each other! let them sleep armed! let none believe in good
Let there be no unfashionable wisdom! let such be scorn’d and derided off from the
Let a floating cloud in the sky—let a wave of the sea—let growing mint, spinach,
onions, tomatoes—let these be exhibited as shows, at a great price for admission!
Let all the men of These States stand aside for a few smouchers! let the few seize on what
choose! let the rest gawk, giggle, starve, obey!
Let shadows be furnish’d with genitals! let substances be deprived of their genitals!
Let there be wealthy and immense cities—but still through any of them, not a single
savior, knower, lover!
Let the infidels of These States laugh all faith away!
If one man be found who has faith, let the rest set upon him!
Let them affright faith! let them destroy the power of breeding faith!
Let the she-harlots and the he-harlots be prudent! let them dance on, while seeming lasts!
seeming! seeming! seeming!)
Let the preachers recite creeds! let them still teach only what they have been taught!
Let insanity still have charge of sanity!
Let books take the place of trees, animals, rivers, clouds!
Let the daub’d portraits of heroes supersede heroes!
Let the manhood of man never take steps after itself!
Let it take steps after eunuchs, and after consumptive and genteel persons!
Let the white person again tread the black person under his heel! (Say! which is trodden
heel, after all?)
Let the reflections of the things of the world be studied in mirrors! let the things
still continue unstudied!
Let a man seek pleasure everywhere except in himself!
Let a woman seek happiness everywhere except in herself!
(What real happiness have you had one single hour through your whole life?)
Let the limited years of life do nothing for the limitless years of death! (What do you
death will do, then?)
Henry Van Dyke |
In robes of Tyrian blue the King was drest,
A jewelled collar shone upon his breast,
A giant ruby glittered in his crown -----
Lord of rich lands and many a splendid town.
In him the glories of an ancient line
Of sober kings, who ruled by right divine,
Were centred; and to him with loyal awe
The people looked for leadership and law.
Ten thousand knights, the safeguard of the land,
Lay like a single sword within his hand;
A hundred courts, with power of life and death,
Proclaimed decrees justice by his breath;
And all the sacred growths that men had known
Of order and of rule upheld his throne.
Proud was the King: yet not with such a heart
As fits a man to play a royal part.
Not his the pride that honours as a trust
The right to rule, the duty to be just:
Not his the dignity that bends to bear
The monarch's yoke, the master's load of care,
And labours like the peasant at his gate,
To serve the people and protect the State.
Another pride was his, and other joys:
To him the crown and sceptre were but toys,
With which he played at glory's idle game,
To please himself and win the wreaths of fame.
The throne his fathers held from age to age
Built for King Martin to diplay at will,
His mighty strength and universal skill.
No conscious child, that, spoiled with praising, tries
At every step to win admiring eyes, ----
No favourite mountebank, whose acting draws
From gaping crowds loud thunder of applause,
Was vainer than the King: his only thirst
Was to be hailed, in every race, the first.
When tournament was held, in knightly guise
The King would ride the lists and win the prize;
When music charmed the court, with golden lyre
The King would take the stage and lead the choir;
In hunting, his the lance to slay the boar;
In hawking, see his falcon highest soar;
In painting, he would wield the master's brush;
In high debate, -----"the King is speaking! Hush!"
Thus, with a restless heart, in every field
He sought renown, and found his subjects yield
As if he were a demi-god revealed.
But while he played the petty games of life
His kingdom fell a prey to inward strife;
Corruption through the court unheeded crept,
And on the seat of honour justice slept.
The strong trod down the weak; the helpless poor
Groaned under burdens grievous to endure.
The nation's wealth was spent in vain display,
And weakness wore the nation's heart away.
Yet think not Earth is blind to human woes ---
Man has more friends and helpers than he knows;
And when a patient people are oppressed,
The land that bore them feels it in her breast.
Spirits of field and flood, of heath and hill,
Are grieved and angry at the spreading ill;
The trees complain together in the night,
Voices of wrath are heard along the height,
And secret vows are sworn, by stream and strand,
To bring the tyrant low and liberate the land.
But little recked the pampered King of these;
He heard no voice but such as praise and please.
Flattered and fooled, victor in every sport,
One day he wandered idly with his court
Beside the river, seeking to devise
New ways to show his skill to wondering eyes.
There in the stream a patient fisher stood,
And cast his line across the rippling flood.
His silver spoil lay near him on the green:
"Such fish," the courtiers cried, "were never seen!"
"Three salmon larger than a cloth-yard shaft---
"This man must be the master of his craft!"
"An easy art!" the jealous King replied:
"Myself could learn it better, if I tried,
"And catch a hundred larger fish a week---
"Wilt thou accept the challenge, fellow? Speak!"
The fisher turned, came near, and bent his knee:
"'Tis not for kings to strive with such as me;
"Yet if the King commands it, I obey.
"But one condition of the strife I pray:
"The fisherman who brings the least to land
"Shall do whate'er the other may command.
Loud laughed the King: "A foolish fisher thou!
"For I shall win and rule thee then as now.
So to Prince John, a sober soul, sedate
And slow, King Martin left the helm of state,
While to the novel game with eager zest
He all his time and all his powers addrest.
Sure such a sight was never seen before!
For robed and crowned the monarch trod the shore;
His golden hooks were decked with feathers fine,
His jewelled reel ran out a silken line.
With kingly strokes he flogged the crystal stream,
Far-off the salmon saw his tackle gleam;
Careless of kings, they eyed with calm disdain
The gaudy lure, and Martin fished in vain.
On Friday, when the week was almost spent,
He scanned his empty creel with discontent,
Called for a net, and cast it far and wide,
And drew --- a thousand minnows from the tide!
Then came the fisher to conclude the match,
And at the monarch's feet spread out his catch ---
A hundred salmon, greater than before ---
"I win!" he cried: "the King must pay the score.
Then Martin, angry, threw his tackle down:
"Rather than lose this game I'd lose me crown!"
"Nay, thou has lost them both," the fisher said;
And as he spoke a wondrous light was shed
Around his form; he dropped his garments mean,
And in his place the River-god was seen.
"Thy vanity hast brought thee in my power,
"And thou shalt pay the forfeit at this hour:
"For thou hast shown thyself a royal fool,
"Too proud to angle, and too vain to rule.
"Eager to win in every trivial strife, ---
"Go! Thou shalt fish for minnows all thy life!"
Wrathful, the King the scornful sentence heard;
He strove to answer, but he only chirr-r-ed:
His Tyrian robe was changed to wings of blue,
His crown became a crest, --- away he flew!
And still, along the reaches of the stream,
The vain King-fisher flits, an azure gleam, ---
You see his ruby crest, you hear his jealous scream.
John Donne |
Oh do not die, for I shall hate
All women so, when thou art gone,
That thee I shall not celebrate,
When I remember, thou wast one.
But yet thou canst not die, I know,
To leave this world behind, is death,
But when thou from this world wilt go,
The whole world vapors with thy breath.
Or if, when thou, the world's soul, goest,
It stay, 'tis but thy carcass then,
The fairest woman, but thy ghost,
But corrupt worms, the worthiest men.
O wrangling schools, that search what fire
Shall burn this world, had none the wit
Unto this knowledge to aspire,
That this her fever might be it?
And yet she cannot waste by this,
Nor long bear this torturing wrong,
For much corruption needful is
To fuel such a fever long.
These burning fits but meteors be,
Whose matter in thee is soon spent.
Thy beauty, and all parts, which are thee,
Are unchangeable firmament.
Yet 'twas of my mind, seizing thee,
Though it in thee cannot persever.
For I had rather owner be,
Of thee one hour, than all else ever.
Kathleen Raine |
Earth no longer
hymns the Creator,
the seven days of wonder,
the Garden is over —
all the stories are told,
the seven seals broken
all that begins
must have its ending,
our striving, desiring,
our living and dying,
for Time, the bringer
of abundant days
is Time the destroyer —
In the Iron Age
the Kali Yuga
To whom can we pray
at the end of an era
but the Lord Shiva,
the Liberator, the purifier?
Our forests are felled,
our mountains eroded,
the wild places
where the beautiful animals
found food and sanctuary
we have desolated,
a third of our seas,
a third of our rivers
we have polluted
and the sea-creatures dying.
in wrong courses
through wrong choices
has brought us to nightmare
where what seems,
is, to the dreamer,
the collective mind
of the twentieth century —
this world of wonders
not divine creation
but a big bang
of blind chance,
mother earth’s children,
their living and loving,
their delight in being
not joy but chemistry,
while to our machines
we impute intelligence,
in computers and robots
we store information
and call it knowledge,
we seek guidance
by dialling numbers,
in place of family
our companions are shadows,
cast on a screen,
bodiless voices, fleshless faces,
where was the Garden
of virtual reality,
in place of angels
the human imagination
is peopled with foot-ballers
with cartoon faces —
To whom can we pray
for release from illusion,
from the world-cave,
but Time the destroyer,
the liberator, the purifier?
The curse of Midas
has changed at a touch,
a golden handshake
to lifeless matter,
where once was seed-time,
summer and winter,
food-chain, factory farming,
monocrops for supermarkets,
battery-hens, hormone injections,
implants, transplants, sterilization,
surrogate births, contraception,
cloning, genetic engineering, abortion,
and our days shall be short
in the land we have sown
with the Dragon’s teeth
where our armies arise
fully armed on our killing-fields
with land-mines and missiles,
tanks and artillery,
gas-masks and body-bags,
our air-craft rain down
fire and destruction,
our space-craft broadcast
lies and corruption,
our elected parliaments
parrot their rhetoric
of peace and democracy
while the truth we deny
returns in our dreams
the death-wish, the arms-trade,
hatred and slaughter
of our thriving cities,
to the end of the world
of our postmodern,
progress to the nihil
of our spent civilization.
But cause and effect,
just and inexorable
law of the universe
no fix of science,
nor amenable god
can save from ourselves
the selves we have become —
At the end of history
to whom can we pray
but to the destroyer,
the liberator, the purifier?
In the beginning
the stars sang together
the cosmic harmony,
but Time, imperceptible
of all that has been,
all that will be,
our heart-beat your drum,
our dance of life
your dance of death
in the crematorium,
our high-rise dreams,
Xanadu, Shangri-la, world revolution
Time has taken, and soon will be gone
Cambridge, Princeton and M.
Nalanda, Athens and Alexandria
all for the holocaust
of civilization —
To whom shall we pray
when our vision has faded
but the world-destroyer,
the liberator, the purifier?
But great is the realm
of the world-creator,
from whom we come,
in whom we move
and have our being,
about us, within us
the wonders of wisdom,
the trees and the fountains,
the stars and the mountains,
all the children of joy,
the loved and the known,
the unknowable mystery
to whom we return
through the world-destroyer, —
at the end of the world
the purging fire
of the purifier, the liberator!
David Herbert Lawrence |
I wish it were spring in the world.
Let it be spring!
Come, bubbling, surging tide of sap!
Come, rush of creation!
Come, life! surge through this mass of mortification!
Come, sweep away these exquisite, ghastly first-flowers,
which are rather last-flowers!
Come, thaw down their cool portentousness, dissolve them:
snowdrops, straight, death-veined exhalations of white and purple crocuses,
flowers of the penumbra, issue of corruption, nourished in mortification,
jets of exquisite finality;
Come, spring, make havoc of them!
I trample on the snowdrops, it gives me pleasure to tread down the jonquils,
to destroy the chill Lent lilies;
for I am sick of them, their faint-bloodedness,
slow-blooded, icy-fleshed, portentous.
I want the fine, kindling wine-sap of spring,
gold, and of inconceivably fine, quintessential brightness,
rare almost as beams, yet overwhelmingly potent,
strong like the greatest force of world-balancing.
This is the same that picks up the harvest of wheat
and rocks it, tons of grain, on the ripening wind;
the same that dangles the globe-shaped pleiads of fruit
temptingly in mid-air, between a playful thumb and finger;
oh, and suddenly, from out of nowhere, whirls the pear-bloom,
upon us, and apple- and almond- and apricot- and quince-blossom,
storms and cumulus clouds of all imaginable blossom
about our bewildered faces,
though we do not worship.
I wish it were spring
cunningly blowing on the fallen sparks, odds and ends of the old, scattered fire,
and kindling shapely little conflagrations
curious long-legged foals, and wide-eared calves, and naked sparrow-bubs.
I wish that spring
would start the thundering traffic of feet
new feet on the earth, beating with impatience.
I wish it were spring, thundering
delicate, tender spring.
I wish these brittle, frost-lovely flowers of passionate, mysterious corruption
were not yet to come still more from the still-flickering discontent.
Oh, in the spring, the bluebell bows him down for very exuberance,
exulting with secret warm excess,
bowed down with his inner magnificence!
Oh, yes, the gush of spring is strong enough
to toss the globe of earth like a ball on a water-jet
as you see a tiny celluloid ball tossing on a squirt of water
for men to shoot at, penny-a-time, in a booth at a fair.
The gush of spring is strong enough
to play with the globe of earth like a ball on a fountain;
At the same time it opens the tiny hands of the hazel
with such infinite patience.
The power of the rising, golden, all-creative sap could take the earth
and heave it off among the stars, into the invisible;
the same sets the throstle at sunset on a bough
singing against the blackbird;
comes out in the hesitating tremor of the primrose,
and betrays its candour in the round white strawberry flower,
is dignified in the foxglove, like a Red-Indian brave.
Ah come, come quickly, spring!
come and lift us towards our culmination, we myriads;
we who have never flowered, like patient cactuses.
Come and lift us to our end, to blossom, bring us to our summer
we who are winter-weary in the winter of the of the world.
Come making the chaffinch nests hollow and cosy,
come and soften the willow buds till they are puffed and furred,
then blow them over with gold.
Coma and cajole the gawky colt’s-foot flowers.
Come quickly, and vindicate us.
against too much death.
Come quickly, and stir the rotten globe of the world from within,
burst it with germination, with world anew.
Come now, to us, your adherents, who cannot flower from the ice.
All the world gleams with the lilies of death the Unconquerable,
but come, give us our turn.
Enough of the virgins and lilies, of passionate, suffocating perfume of corruption,
no more narcissus perfume, lily harlots, the blades of sensation
piercing the flesh to blossom of death.
Have done, have done with this shuddering, delicious business
of thrilling ruin in the flesh, of pungent passion, of rare, death-edged ecstasy.
Give us our turn, give us a chance, let our hour strike,
O soon, soon!
Let the darkness turn violet with rich dawn.
Let the darkness be warmed, warmed through to a ruddy violet,
incipient purpling towards summer in the world of the heart of man.
Are the violets already here!
Show me! I tremble so much to hear it, that even now
on the threshold of spring, I fear I shall die.
Show me the violets that are out.
Oh, if it be true, and the living darkness of the blood of man is purpling with violets,
if the violets are coming out from under the rack of men, winter-rotten and fallen,
we shall have spring.
Pray not to die on this Pisgah blossoming with violets.
Pray to live through.
If you catch a whiff of violets from the darkness of the shadow of man
it will be spring in the world,
it will be spring in the world of the living;
wonderment organising itself, heralding itself with the violets,
stirring of new seasons.
Ah, do not let me die on the brink of such anticipation!
Worse, let me not deceive myself.
Willa Cather |
"ROWSES, Rowses! Penny a bunch!" they tell you--
Slattern girls in Trafalgar, eager to sell you.
Roses, roses, red in the Kensington sun,
Holland Road, High Street, Bayswater, see you and smell you--
Roses of London town, red till the summer is done.
Roses, roses, locust and lilac, perfuming
West End, East End, wondrously budding and blooming
Out of the black earth, rubbed in a million hands,
Foot-trod, sweat-sour over and under, entombing
Highways of darkness, deep gutted with iron bands.
"Rowses, rowses! Penny a bunch!" they tell you,
Ruddy blooms of corruption, see you and smell you,
Born of stale earth, fallowed with squalor and tears--
North shire, south shire, none are like these, I tell you,
Roses of London perfumed with a thousand years.
Alec Derwent (A D) Hope |
He that is filthy let him be filthy still.
Like John on Patmos, brooding on the Four
Last Things, I meditate the ruin of friends
Whose loss, Lord, brings this grand new curse to mind
Now send me foes worth cursing, or send more
- Since means should be proportionate to ends -
For mine are few and of the piddling kind:
Drivellers, snivellers, writers of bad verse,
Backbiting bitches, snipers from a pew,
Small turds from the great arse of self-esteem;
On such as these I would not waste my curse.
God send me soon the enemy or two
Fit for the wrath of God, of whom I dream:
Some Caliban of Culture, some absurd
Messiah of the Paranoiac State,
Some Educator wallowing in his slime,
Some Prophet of the Uncreating Word
Monsters a man might reasonably hate,
Masters of Progress, Leaders of our Time;
But chiefly the Suborners: Common Tout
And Punk, the Advertiser, him I mean
And his smooth hatchet-man, the Technocrat.
Them let my malediction single out,
These modern Dives with their talking screen
Who lick the sores of Lazarus and grow fat,
Licensed to pimp, solicit and procure
Here in my house, to foul my feast, to bawl
Their wares while I am talking with my friend,
To pour into my ears a public sewer
Of all the Strumpet Muses sell and all
That prostituted science has to vend.
In this great Sodom of a world, which turns
The treasure of the Intellect to dust
And every gift to some perverted use,
What wonder if the human spirit learns
Recourses of despair or of disgust,
Abortion, suicide and self-abuse.
But let me laugh, Lord; let me crack and strain
The belly of this derision till it burst;
For I have seen too much, have lived too long
A citizen of Sodom to refrain,
And in the stye of Science, from the first,
Have watched the pearls of Circe drop on dung.
Let me not curse my children, nor in rage
Mock at the just, the helpless and the poor,
Foot-fast in Sodom's rat-trap; make me bold
To turn on the Despoilers all their age
Invents: damnations never felt before
And hells more horrible than hot and cold.
And, since in Heaven creatures purified
Rational, free, perfected in their kinds
Contemplate God and see Him face to face
In Hell, for sure, spirits transmogrified,
Paralysed wills and parasitic minds
Mirror their own corruption and disgrace.
Now let this curse fall on my enemies
My enemies, Lord, but all mankind's as well
Prophets and panders of their golden calf;
Let Justice fit them all in their degrees;
Let them, still living, know that state of hell,
And let me see them perish, Lord, and laugh.
Let them be glued to television screens
Till their minds fester and the trash they see
Worm their dry hearts away to crackling shells;
Let ends be so revenged upon their means
That all that once was human grows to be
A flaccid mass of phototropic cells;
Let the dog love his vomit still, the swine
Squelch in the slough; and let their only speech
Be Babel; let the specious lies they bred
Taste on their tongues like intellectual wine
Let sung commercials surfeit them, till each
Goggles with nausea in his nauseous bed.
And, lest with them I learn to gibber and gloat,
Lead me, for Sodom is my city still,
To seek those hills in which the heart finds ease;
Give Lot his leave; let Noah build his boat,
And me and mine, when each has laughed his fill,
View thy damnation and depart in peace.
Emily Dickinson |
"Sown in dishonor"!
May this "dishonor" be?
If I were half so fine myself
I'd notice nobody!
"Sown in corruption"!
Not so fast!
Apostle is askew!
A Circumstance or two!
Emily Bronte |
The winter wind is loud and wild,
Come close to me, my darling child;
Forsake thy books, and mateless play;
And, while the night is gathering grey,
We'll talk its pensive hours away;--
'Ierne, round our sheltered hall
November's gusts unheeded call;
Not one faint breath can enter here
Enough to wave my daughter's hair,
And I am glad to watch the blaze
Glance from her eyes, with mimic rays;
To feel her cheek so softly pressed,
In happy quiet on my breast.
'But, yet, even this tranquillity
Brings bitter, restless thoughts to me;
And, in the red fire's cheerful glow,
I think of deep glens, blocked with snow;
I dream of moor, and misty hill,
Where evening closes dark and chill;
For, lone, among the mountains cold,
Lie those that I have loved of old.
And my heart aches, in hopeless pain
Exhausted with repinings vain,
That I shall greet them ne'er again!'
'Father, in early infancy,
When you were far beyond the sea,
Such thoughts were tyrants over me!
I often sat, for hours together,
Through the long nights of angry weather,
Raised on my pillow, to descry
The dim moon struggling in the sky;
Or, with strained ear, to catch the shock,
Of rock with wave, and wave with rock;
So would I fearful vigil keep,
And, all for listening, never sleep.
But this world's life has much to dread,
Not so, my Father, with the dead.
'Oh! not for them, should we despair,
The grave is drear, but they are not there;
Their dust is mingled with the sod,
Their happy souls are gone to God!
You told me this, and yet you sigh,
And murmur that your friends must die.
Ah! my dear father, tell me why?
For, if your former words were true,
How useless would such sorrow be;
As wise, to mourn the seed which grew
Unnoticed on its parent tree,
Because it fell in fertile earth,
And sprang up to a glorious birth--
Struck deep its root, and lifted high
Its green boughs, in the breezy sky.
'But, I'll not fear, I will not weep
For those whose bodies rest in sleep,--
I know there is a blessed shore,
Opening its ports for me, and mine;
And, gazing Time's wide waters o'er,
I weary for that land divine,
Where we were born, where you and I
Shall meet our Dearest, when we die;
From suffering and corruption free,
Restored into the Deity.
'Well hast thou spoken, sweet, trustful child!
And wiser than thy sire;
And worldly tempests, raging wild,
Shall strengthen thy desire--
Thy fervent hope, through storm and foam,
Through wind and ocean's roar,
To reach, at last, the eternal home,
The steadfast, changeless, shore!'
Robert Lowell |
(For Warren Winslow, Dead At Sea)
Let man have dominion over the fishes of the sea and
the fowls of the air and the beasts and the whole earth,
and every creeping creature that moveth upon the earth.
A brackish reach of shoal off Madaket--
The sea was still breaking violently and night
Had steamed into our North Atlantic Fleet,
When the drowned sailor clutched the drag-net.
Flashed from his matted head and marble feet,
He grappled at the net
With the coiled, hurdling muscles of his thighs:
The corpse was bloodless, a botch of reds and whites,
Its open, staring eyes
Were lustreless dead-lights
Or cabin-windows on a stranded hulk
Heavy with sand.
We weight the body, close
Its eyes and heave it seaward whence it came,
Where the heel-headed dogfish barks it nose
On Ahab's void and forehead; and the name
Is blocked in yellow chalk.
Sailors, who pitch this portent at the sea
Where dreadnaughts shall confess
Its heel-bent deity,
When you are powerless
To sand-bag this Atlantic bulwark, faced
By the earth-shaker, green, unwearied, chaste
In his steel scales: ask for no Orphean lute
To pluck life back.
The guns of the steeled fleet
Recoil and then repeat
The hoarse salute.
Whenever winds are moving and their breath
Heaves at the roped-in bulwarks of this pier,
The terns and sea-gulls tremble at your death
In these home waters.
Sailor, can you hear
The Pequod's sea wings, beating landward, fall
Headlong and break on our Atlantic wall
Off 'Sconset, where the yawing S-boats splash
The bellbuoy, with ballooning spinnakers,
As the entangled, screeching mainsheet clears
The blocks: off Madaket, where lubbers lash
The heavy surf and throw their long lead squids
For blue-fish? Sea-gulls blink their heavy lids
The winds' wings beat upon the stones,
Cousin, and scream for you and the claws rush
At the sea's throat and wring it in the slush
Of this old Quaker graveyard where the bones
Cry out in the long night for the hurt beast
Bobbing by Ahab's whaleboats in the East.
All you recovered from Poseidon died
With you, my cousin, and the harrowed brine
Is fruitless on the blue beard of the god,
Stretching beyond us to the castles in Spain,
Nantucket's westward haven.
To Cape Cod
Guns, cradled on the tide,
Blast the eelgrass about a waterclock
Of bilge and backwash, roil the salt and sand
Lashing earth's scaffold, rock
Our warships in the hand
Of the great God, where time's contrition blues
Whatever it was these Quaker sailors lost
In the mad scramble of their lives.
When time was open-eyed,
Wooden and childish; only bones abide
There, in the nowhere, where their boats were tossed
Sky-high, where mariners had fabled news
Of IS, the whited monster.
What it cost
Them is their secret.
In the sperm-whale's slick
I see the Quakers drown and hear their cry:
"If God himself had not been on our side,
If God himself had not been on our side,
When the Atlantic rose against us, why,
Then it had swallowed us up quick.
This is the end of the whaleroad and the whale
Who spewed Nantucket bones on the thrashed swell
And stirred the troubled waters to whirlpools
To send the Pequod packing off to hell:
This is the end of them, three-quarters fools,
Snatching at straws to sail
Seaward and seaward on the turntail whale,
Spouting out blood and water as it rolls,
Sick as a dog to these Atlantic shoals:
Clamavimus, O depths.
Let the sea-gulls wail
For water, for the deep where the high tide
Mutters to its hurt self, mutters and ebbs.
Waves wallow in their wash, go out and out,
Leave only the death-rattle of the crabs,
The beach increasing, its enormous snout
Sucking the ocean's side.
This is the end of running on the waves;
We are poured out like water.
Who will dance
The mast-lashed master of Leviathans
Up from this field of Quakers in their unstoned graves?
When the whale's viscera go and the roll
Of its corruption overruns this world
Beyond tree-swept Nantucket and Wood's Hole
And Martha's Vineyard, Sailor, will your sword
Whistle and fall and sink into the fat?
In the great ash-pit of Jehoshaphat
The bones cry for the blood of the white whale,
The fat flukes arch and whack about its ears,
The death-lance churns into the sanctuary, tears
The gun-blue swingle, heaving like a flail,
And hacks the coiling life out: it works and drags
And rips the sperm-whale's midriff into rags,
Gobbets of blubber spill to wind and weather,
Sailor, and gulls go round the stoven timbers
Where the morning stars sing out together
And thunder shakes the white surf and dismembers
The red flag hammered in the mast-head.
Our steel, Jonas Messias, in Thy side.
OUR LADY OF WALSINGHAM
There once the penitents took off their shoes
And then walked barefoot the remaining mile;
And the small trees, a stream and hedgerows file
Slowly along the munching English lane,
Like cows to the old shrine, until you lose
Track of your dragging pain.
The stream flows down under the druid tree,
Shiloah's whirlpools gurgle and make glad
The castle of God.
Sailor, you were glad
And whistled Sion by that stream.
Our Lady, too small for her canopy,
Sits near the altar.
There's no comeliness
at all or charm in that expressionless
Face with its heavy eyelids.
This face, for centuries a memory,
Non est species, neque decor,
Expressionless, expresses God: it goes
Past castled Sion.
She knows what God knows,
Not Calvary's Cross nor crib at Bethlehem
Now, and the world shall come to Walsingham.
The empty winds are creaking and the oak
splatters and splatters on the cenotaph,
The boughs are trembling and a gaff
Bobs on the untimely stroke
Of the greased wash exploding on a shoal-bell
In the old mouth of the Atlantic.
Atlantic, you are fouled with the blue sailors,
sea-monsters, upward angel, downward fish:
Unmarried and corroding, spare of flesh
Mart once of supercilious, wing'd clippers,
Atlantic, where your bell-trap guts its spoil
You could cut the brackish winds with a knife
Here in Nantucket, and cast up the time
When the Lord God formed man from the sea's slime
And breathed into his face the breath of life,
And blue-lung'd combers lumbered to the kill.
The Lord survives the rainbow of His will.
Laurence Binyon |
Now is the time for the burning of the leaves,
They go to the fire; the nostrils prick with smoke
Wandering slowly into the weeping mist.
Brittle and blotched, ragged and rotten sheaves!
A flame seizes the smouldering ruin, and bites
On stubborn stalks that crackle as they resist.
The last hollyhock’s fallen tower is dust:
All the spices of June are a bitter reek,
All the extravagant riches spent and mean.
All burns! the reddest rose is a ghost.
Spark whirl up, to expire in the mist: the wild
Fingers of fire are making corruption clean.
Now is the time for stripping the spirit bare,
Time for the burning of days ended and done,
Idle solace of things that have gone before,
Rootless hope and fruitless desire are there:
Let them go to the fire with never a look behind.
That world that was ours is a world that is ours no more.
They will come again, the leaf and the flower, to arise
From squalor of rottenness into the old splendour,
And magical scents to a wondering memory bring;
The same glory, to shine upon different eyes.
Earth cares for her own ruins, naught for ours.
Nothing is certain, only the certain spring.