George (Lord) Byron | |
She walks in Beauty, like the night
Of cloudless climes and starry skies;
And all that's best of dark and bright
Meet in her aspect and her eyes:
Thus mellowed to that tender light
Which Heaven to gaudy day denies.
One shade the more, one ray the less,
Had half impaired the nameless grace
Which waves in every raven tress,
Or softly lightens o'er her face;
Where thoughts serenely sweet express,
How pure, how dear their dwelling-place.
And on that cheek, and o'er that brow,
So soft, so calm, yet eloquent,
The smiles that win, the tints that glow,
But tell of days in goodness spent,
A mind at peace with all below,
A heart whose love is innocent!
Alfred Lord Tennyson | |
Tears, idle tears, I know not what they mean,
Tears from the depth of some divine despair
Rise in the heart, and gather to the eyes,
In looking on the happy Autumn-fields,
And thinking of the days that are no more.
Fresh as the first beam glittering on a sail,
That brings our friends up from the underworld,
Sad as the last which reddens over one
That sinks with all we love below the verge;
So sad, so fresh, the days that are no more.
Ah, sad and strange as in dark summer dawns
The earliest pipe of half-awakened birds
To dying ears, when unto dying eyes
The casement slowly grows a glimmering square;
So sad, so strange, the days that are no more.
Dear as remembered kisses after death,
And sweet as those by hopeless fancy feigned
On lips that are for others; deep as love,
Deep as first love, and wild with all regret;
O Death in Life, the days that are no more!
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow | |
Between the dark and the daylight,
When the night is beginning to lower,
Comes a pause in the day's occupations,
That is known as the Children's Hour.
I hear in the chamber above me
The patter of little feet,
The sound of a door that is opened,
And voices soft and sweet.
From my study I see in the lamplight,
Descending the broad hall stair,
Grave Alice, and laughing Allegra,
And Edith with golden hair.
A whisper, and then a silence:
Yet I know by their merry eyes
They are plotting and planning together
To take me by surprise.
A sudden rush from the stairway,
A sudden raid from the hall!
By three doors left unguarded
They enter my castle wall!
They climb up into my turret
O'er the arms and back of my chair;
If I try to escape, they surround me;
They seem to be everywhere.
They almost devour me with kisses,
Their arms about me entwine,
Till I think of the Bishop of Bingen
In his Mouse-Tower on the Rhine!
Do you think, O blue-eyed banditti,
Because you have scaled the wall,
Such an old mustache as I am
Is not a match for you all!
I have you fast in my fortress,
And will not let you depart,
But put you down into the dungeon
In the round-tower of my heart.
And there will I keep you forever,
Yes, forever and a day,
Till the walls shall crumble to ruin,
And moulder in dust away!
More great poems below...
Alfred Lord Tennyson | |
Sunset and evening star,
And one clear call for me!
And may there be no moaning of the bar,
When I put out to sea,
But such a tide as moving seems asleep,
Too full for sound and foam,
When that which drew from out the boundless deep
Turns again home.
Twilight and evening bell,
And after that the dark!
And may there be no sadness of farewell,
When I embark;
For though from out our bourne of Time and Place
The flood may bear me far,
I hope to see my Pilot face to face
When I have crossed the bar.
John Greenleaf Whittier | |
So fallen! so lost! the light withdrawn
Which once he wore!
The glory from his gray hairs gone
Revile him not—the Tempter hath
A snare for all;
And pitying tears, not scorn and wrath,
Befit his fall!
Oh! dumb be passion's stormy rage,
When he who might
Have lighted up and led his age,
Falls back in night.
Scorn! would the angels laugh, to mark
A bright soul driven,
Fiend-goaded, down the endless dark,
From hope and heaven!
Let not the land, once proud of him,
Insult him now,
Nor brand with deeper shame his dim,
But let its humbled sons, instead,
From sea to lake,
A long lament, as for the dead,
In sadness make.
Of all we loved and honored, nought
Save power remains—
A fallen angel's pride of thought,
Still strong in chains.
All else is gone; from those great eyes
The soul has fled:
When faith is lost, when honor dies,
The man is dead!
Then, pay the reverence of old days
To his dead fame;
Walk backward, with averted gaze,
And hide the shame!
Ralph Waldo Emerson | |
By the rude bridge that arched the flood,
Their flag to April's breeze unfurled,
Here once the embattled farmers stood,
And fired the shot heard round the world.
The foe long since in silence slept;
Alike the conqueror silent sleeps;
And Time the ruined bridge has swept
Down the dark stream which seaward creeps.
On this green bank, by this soft stream,
We set to-day a votive stone;
That memory may their deed redeem,
When, like our sires, our sons are gone.
Spirit, that made those heroes dare
To die, and leave their children free,
Bid Time and Nature gently spare
The shaft we raise to them and thee.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow | |
We sat within the farm-house old,
Whose windows, looking o'er the bay,
Gave to the sea-breeze damp and cold,
An easy entrance, night and day.
Not far away we saw the port,
The strange, old-fashioned, silent town,
The lighthouse, the dismantled fort,
The wooden houses, quaint and brown.
We sat and talked until the night,
Descending, filled the little room;
Our faces faded from the sight,
Our voices only broke the gloom.
We spake of many a vanished scene,
Of what we once had thought and said,
Of what had been, and might have been,
And who was changed, and who was dead;
And all that fills the hearts of friends,
When first they feel, with secret pain,
Their lives thenceforth have separate ends,
And never can be one again;
The first slight swerving of the heart,
That words are powerless to express,
And leave it still unsaid in part,
Or say it in too great excess.
The very tones in which we spake
Had something strange, I could but mark;
The leaves of memory seemed to make
A mournful rustling in the dark.
Oft died the words upon our lips,
As suddenly, from out the fire
Built of the wreck of stranded ships,
The flames would leap and then expire.
And, as their splendor flashed and failed,
We thought of wrecks upon the main,
Of ships dismasted, that were hailed
And sent no answer back again.
The windows, rattling in their frames,
The ocean, roaring up the beach,
The gusty blast, the bickering flames,
All mingled vaguely in our speech;
Until they made themselves a part
Of fancies floating through the brain,
The long-lost ventures of the heart,
That send no answers back again.
O flames that glowed! O hearts that yearned!
They were indeed too much akin,
The drift-wood fire without that burned,
The thoughts that burned and glowed within.
Conrad Aiken | |
In the mazes of loitering people, the watchful and furtive,
The shadows of tree-trunks and shadows of leaves,
In the drowse of the sunlight, among the low voices,
I suddenly face you,
Your dark eyes return for a space from her who is with you,
They shine into mine with a sunlit desire,
They say an 'I love you, what star do you live on?'
They smile and then darken,
And silent, I answer 'You too--I have known you,--I love you!--'
And the shadows of tree-trunks and shadows of leaves
Interlace with low voices and footsteps and sunlight
To divide us forever.
Conrad Aiken | |
Here on the pale beach, in the darkness;
With the full moon just to rise;
They sit alone, and look over the sea,
Or into each other's eyes.
She pokes her parasol into the sleepy sand,
Or sifts the lazy whiteness through her hand.
'A lovely night,' he says, 'the moon,
Comes up for you and me.
Just like a blind old spotlight there,
Fizzing across the sea!'
She pays no heed, nor even turns her head:
He slides his arm around her waist instead.
'Why don't we do a sketch together--
Those songs you sing are swell.
Where did you get them, anyway?
They suit you awfully well.
She will not turn to him--will not resist.
Impassive, she submits to being kissed.
'My husband wrote all four of them.
You know,--my husband drowned.
He was always sickly, soon depressed.
But still she hears the sound
Of a stateroom door shut hard, and footsteps going
Swiftly and steadily, and the dark sea flowing.
She hears the dark sea flowing, and sees his eyes
Hollow with disenchantment, sick surprise,--
And hate of her whom he had loved too well.
She lowers her eyes, demurely prods a shell.
We might do an act together.
That would be very nice.
He kisses her passionately, and thinks
She's carnal, but cold as ice.
Philip Larkin | |
Those long uneven lines
Standing as patiently
As if they were stretched outside
The Oval or Villa Park
The crowns of hats the sun
On moustached archaic faces
Grinning as if it were all
An August bank Holiday lark;
And the shut shops the bleached
Established names on the sunblinds
The farthings and sovereigns
Adn dark-clothed children at play
Called after kings and queens
The tin advertisements
For cocoa and twist and the pubs
Wide open all day;
And the countryside ont caring:
The place-names all hazed over
With flowering grasses and fields
Shadowing Domesday lines
Under wheat's restless silence;
The differently-dressed servants
With tiny rooms in huge houses
The dust behind limousines;
Never such innocence
Never before or since
As changed itself to past
Without a word--the men
Leaving the gardens tidy
The thousands of marriages
Lasting a littlewhile longer:
Never such innocence again.
Percy Bysshe Shelley | |
I DREAM'D that as I wander'd by the way
Bare winter suddenly was changed to spring,
And gentle odours led my steps astray,
Mix'd with a sound of waters murmuring
Along a shelving bank of turf, which lay 5
Under a copse, and hardly dared to fling
Its green arms round the bosom of the stream,
But kiss'd it and then fled, as thou mightest in dream.
There grew pied wind-flowers and violets,
Daisies, those pearl'd Arcturi of the earth, 10
The constellated flower that never sets;
Faint oxlips; tender bluebells, at whose birth
The sod scarce heaved; and that tall flower that wets¡ª
Like a child, half in tenderness and mirth¡ª
Its mother's face with heaven-collected tears, 15
When the low wind, its playmate's voice, it hears.
And in the warm hedge grew lush eglantine,
Green cow-bind and the moonlight-colour'd may,
And cherry-blossoms, and white cups, whose wine
Was the bright dew yet drain'd not by the day; 20
And wild roses, and ivy serpentine
With its dark buds and leaves, wandering astray;
And flowers azure, black, and streak'd with gold,
Fairer than any waken'd eyes behold.
And nearer to the river's trembling edge 25
There grew broad flag-flowers, purple prank'd with white,
And starry river-buds among the sedge,
And floating water-lilies, broad and bright,
Which lit the oak that overhung the hedge
With moonlight beams of their own watery light; 30
And bulrushes, and reeds of such deep green
As soothed the dazzled eye with sober sheen.
Methought that of these visionary flowers
I made a nosegay, bound in such a way
That the same hues, which in their natural bowers 35
Were mingled or opposed, the like array
Kept these imprison'd children of the Hours
Within my hand,¡ªand then, elate and gay,
I hasten'd to the spot whence I had come
That I might there present it¡ªoh! to Whom? 40
Sylvia Plath | |
How the elements solidify! ---
The moonlight, that chalk cliff
In whose rift we lie
Back to back.
I here an owl cry
From its cold indigo.
Intolerable vowels enter my heart.
The child in the white crib revolves and sighs,
Opens its mouth now, demanding.
His little face is carved in pained, red wood.
Then there are the stars - ineradicable, hard.
One touch : it burns and sickens.
I cannot see your eyes.
Where apple bloom ices the night
I walk in a ring,
A groove of old faults, deep and bitter.
Love cannot come here.
A black gap discloses itself.
On the opposite lip
A small white soul is waving, a small white maggot.
My limbs, also, have left me.
Who has dismembered us?
The dark is melting.
We touch like cripples.
Edward Estlin (E E) Cummings | |
(once like a spark)
if strangers meet
not poor not rich
i not not you
deep our most are
(and so to dark)
Sylvia Plath | |
Black lake, black boat, two black, cut-paper people.
Where do the black trees go that drink here?
Their shadows must cover Canada.
A little light is filtering from the water flowers.
Their leaves do not wish us to hurry:
They are round and flat and full of dark advice.
Cold worlds shake from the oar.
The spirit of blackness is in us, it is in the fishes.
A snag is lifting a valedictory, pale hand;
Stars open among the lilies.
Are you not blinded by such expressionless sirens?
This is the silence of astounded souls.
Emily Dickinson | |
I found the phrase to every thought
I ever had, but one;
And that defies me,--as a hand
Did try to chalk the sun
To races nurtured in the dark;--
How would your own begin?
Can blaze be done in cochineal,
Or noon in mazarin?
Galway Kinnell | |
As this plane dragged
its track of used ozone half the world long
thrusts some four hundred of us
toward places where actual known people
live and may wait,
we diminish down in our seats,
disappeared into novels of lives clearer than ours,
and yet we do not forget for a moment
the life down there, the doorway each will soon enter:
where I will meet her again
and know her again,
dark radiance with, and then mostly without, the stars.
Very likely she has always understood
what I have slowly learned,
and which only now, after being away, almost as far away
as one can get on this globe, almost
as far as thoughts can carry - yet still in her presence,
still surrounded not so much by reminders of her
as by things she had already reminded me of,
shadows of her
cast forward and waiting - can I try to express:
that love is hard,
that while many good things are easy, true love is not,
because love is first of all a power,
its own power,
which continually must make its way forward, from night
into day, from transcending union always forward into difficult day.
And as the plane descends, it comes to me
in the space
where tears stream down across the stars,
tears fallen on the actual earth
where their shining is what we call spirit,
that once the lover
recognizes the other, knows for the first time
what is most to be valued in another,
from then on, love is very much like courage,
perhaps it is courage, and even
out of old selves, smearing the darkness
of expectation across experience, all of us little
thinkers it brings home having similar thoughts
of landing to the imponderable world,
the transoceanic airliner,
resting its huge weight down, comes in almost lightly,
with sudden, tiny, white puffs and long, black, rubberish smears
all its tires know the home ground.
Wallace Stevens | |
The poem of the mind in the act of finding
What will suffice.
It has not always had
To find: the scene was set; it repeated what
Was in the script.
Then the theatre was changed
To something else.
Its past was a souvenir.
It has to be living, to learn the speech of the place.
It has to face the men of the time and to meet
The women of the time.
It has to think about war
And it has to find what will suffice.
To construct a new stage.
It has to be on that stage,
And, like an insatiable actor, slowly and
With meditation, speak words that in the ear,
In the delicatest ear of the mind, repeat,
Exactly, that which it wants to hear, at the sound
Of which, an invisible audience listens,
Not to the play, but to itself, expressed
In an emotion as of two people, as of two
Emotions becoming one.
The actor is
A metaphysician in the dark, twanging
An instrument, twanging a wiry string that gives
Sounds passing through sudden rightnesses, wholly
Containing the mind, below which it cannot descend,
Beyond which it has no will to rise.
Be the finding of a satisfaction, and may
Be of a man skating, a woman dancing, a woman
The poem of the act of the mind.
Sylvia Plath | |
I ordered this, clean wood box
Square as a chair and almost too heavy to lift.
I would say it was the coffin of a midget
Or a square baby
Were there not such a din in it.
The box is locked, it is dangerous.
I have to live with it overnight
And I can't keep away from it.
There are no windows, so I can't see what is in there.
There is only a little grid, no exit.
I put my eye to the grid.
It is dark, dark,
With the swarmy feeling of African hands
Minute and shrunk for export,
Black on black, angrily clambering.
How can I let them out?
It is the noise that appalls me most of all,
The unintelligible syllables.
It is like a Roman mob,
Small, taken one by one, but my god, together!
I lay my ear to furious Latin.
I am not a Caesar.
I have simply ordered a box of maniacs.
They can be sent back.
They can die, I need feed them nothing, I am the owner.
I wonder how hungry they are.
I wonder if they would forget me
If I just undid the locks and stood back and turned into a tree.
There is the laburnum, its blond colonnades,
And the petticoats of the cherry.
They might ignore me immediately
In my moon suit and funeral veil.
I am no source of honey
So why should they turn on me?
Tomorrow I will be sweet God, I will set them free.
The box is only temporary.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow | |
A MIST was driving down the British Channel,
The day was just begun,
And through the window-panes, on floor and panel,
Streamed the red autumn sun.
It glanced on flowing flag and rippling pennon, 5
And the white sails of ships;
And, from the frowning rampart, the black cannon
Hailed it with feverish lips.
Sandwich and Romney, Hastings, Hithe, and Dover,
Were all alert that day, 10
To see the French war-steamers speeding over,
When the fog cleared away.
Sullen and silent, and like couchant lions,
Their cannon, through the night,
Holding their breath, had watched, in grim defiance, 15
The sea-coast opposite.
And now they roared at drum-beat from their stations,
On every citadel;
Each answering each, with morning salutations,
That all was well.
And down the coast, all taking up the burden,
Replied the distant forts,
As if to summon from his sleep the Warden
And Lord of the Cinque Ports.
Him shall no sunshine from the fields of azure, 25
No drum-beat from the wall,
No morning gun from the black fort's embrasure,
Awaken with its call!
No more, surveying with an eye impartial
The long line of the coast, 30
Shall the gaunt figure of the old Field Marshal
Be seen upon his post!
For in the night, unseen, a single warrior,
In sombre harness mailed,
Dreaded of man, and surnamed the Destroyer, 35
The rampart wall had scaled.
He passed into the chamber of the sleeper,
The dark and silent room,
And as he entered, darker grew, and deeper,
The silence and the gloom.
He did not pause to parley or dissemble,
But smote the Warden hoar;
Ah! what a blow! that made all England tremble
And groan from shore to shore.
Meanwhile, without, the surly cannon waited, 45
The sun rose bright o'erhead;
Nothing in Nature's aspect intimated
That a great man was dead.
Phillis Wheatley | |
From dark abodes to fair etherial light
Th' enraptur'd innocent has wing'd her flight;
On the kind bosom of eternal love
She finds unknown beatitude above.
This known, ye parents, nor her loss deplore,
She feels the iron hand of pain no more;
The dispensations of unerring grace,
Should turn your sorrows into grateful praise;
Let then no tears for her henceforward flow,
No more distress'd in our dark vale below,
Her morning sun, which rose divinely bright,
Was quickly mantled with the gloom of night;
But hear in heav'n's blest bow'rs your Nancy fair,
And learn to imitate her language there.
"Thou, Lord, whom I behold with glory crown'd,
"By what sweet name, and in what tuneful sound
"Wilt thou be prais'd? Seraphic pow'rs are faint
"Infinite love and majesty to paint.
"To thee let all their graceful voices raise,
"And saints and angels join their songs of praise.
Perfect in bliss she from her heav'nly home
Looks down, and smiling beckons you to come;
Why then, fond parents, why these fruitless groans?
Restrain your tears, and cease your plaintive moans.
Freed from a world of sin, and snares, and pain,
Why would you wish your daughter back again?
Let hope your grief control,
And check the rising tumult of the soul.
Calm in the prosperous, and adverse day,
Adore the God who gives and takes away;
Eye him in all, his holy name revere,
Upright your actions, and your hearts sincere,
Till having sail'd through life's tempestuous sea,
And from its rocks, and boist'rous billows free,
Yourselves, safe landed on the blissful shore,
Shall join your happy babe to part no more.
Sylvia Plath | |
for Ruth Fainlight
I know the bottom, she says.
I know it with my great tap root;
It is what you fear.
I do not fear it: I have been there.
Is it the sea you hear in me,
Or the voice of nothing, that was you madness?
Love is a shadow.
How you lie and cry after it.
Listen: these are its hooves: it has gone off, like a horse.
All night I shall gallup thus, impetuously,
Till your head is a stone, your pillow a little turf,
Or shall I bring you the sound of poisons?
This is rain now, the big hush.
And this is the fruit of it: tin white, like arsenic.
I have suffered the atrocity of sunsets.
Scorched to the root
My red filaments burn and stand,a hand of wires.
Now I break up in pieces that fly about like clubs.
A wind of such violence
Will tolerate no bystanding: I must shriek.
The moon, also, is merciless: she would drag me
Cruelly, being barren.
Her radiance scathes me.
Or perhaps I have caught her.
I let her go.
I let her go
Diminished and flat, as after radical surgery.
How your bad dreams possess and endow me.
I am inhabited by a cry.
Nightly it flaps out
Looking, with its hooks, for something to love.
I am terrified by this dark thing
That sleeps in me;
All day I feel its soft, feathery turnings, its malignity.
Clouds pass and disperse.
Are those the faces of love, those pale irretrievables?
Is it for such I agitate my heart?
I am incapable of more knowledge.
What is this, this face
So murderous in its strangle of branches? ----
Its snaky acids kiss.
It petrifies the will.
These are the isolate, slow faults
That kill, that kill, that kill.
Frank O'Hara | |
He waits and it is not without
a great deal of trouble that he tickles
a nightingale with his guitar.
He would like to cry Andiamo!
but alas! no one has arrived
yet although the dew is perfect
How bitterly he beats
his hairy chest! because he is
a man sitting out an indignity.
The mean moon is like a nasty
little lemon above the ubiquitous
snivelling fir trees and if there's
a swan within a radius of
twelve square miles let's
We too are worried.
He is a man like us erect
in the cold dark night.
handles his guitar as clumsily
as a wet pair of dungarees.
The grass if full of snakespit.
He alone is hot admist the stars.
If no one is racing towards him
down intriguingly hung stairways
towards the firm lamp of his thighs
we are indeed in trouble sprawling
feet upwards to the sun our faces
growing smaller in the colossal dark.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow | |
THE SHADES of night were falling fast
As through an Alpine village passed
A youth who bore 'mid snow and ice
A banner with the strange device
His brow was sad; his eye beneath
Flashed like a falchion from its sheath
And like a silver clarion rung
The accents of that unknown tongue
In happy homes he saw the light
Of household fires gleam warm and bright;
Above the spectral glaciers shone
And from his lips escaped a groan
Try not the Pass! the old man said;
Dark lowers the tempest overhead,
The roaring torrent is deep and wide!
And loud that clarion voice replied
Oh, stay, the maiden said and rest
Thy weary head upon this breast!
A tear stood in his bright blue eye
But still he answered with a sigh
Beware the pine-tree's withered branch!
Beware the awful avalanche!
This was the peasant's last Good-night
A voice replied far up the height
At break of day as heavenward
The pious monks of Saint Bernard
Uttered the oft-repeated prayer
A voice cried through the startled air
A traveller by the faithful hound
Half-buried in the snow was found
Still grasping in his hand of ice
That banner with the strange device
There in the twilight cold and gray
Lifeless but beautiful he lay
And from the sky serene and far
A voice fell like a falling star
Sylvia Plath | |
Stasis in darkness.
Then the substanceless blue
Pour of tor and distances.
How one we grow,
Pivot of heels and knees! ---The furrow
Splits and passes, sister to
The brown arc
Of the neck I cannot catch,
Berries cast dark
Black sweet blood mouthfuls,
Hauls me through air ---
Flakes from my heels.
Godiva, I unpeel ---
Dead hands, dead stringencies.
And now I
Foam to wheat, a glitter of seas.
The child's cry
Melts in the wall.
Am the arrow,
The dew that flies,
Suicidal, at one with the drive
Into the red
Eye, the cauldron of morning.
Percy Bysshe Shelley | |
AWAY! the moor is dark beneath the moon
Rapid clouds have drunk the last pale beam of even:
Away! the gathering winds will call the darkness soon
And profoundest midnight shroud the serene lights of heaven.
Pause not! the time is past! Every voice cries 'Away!' 5
Tempt not with one last tear thy friend's ungentle mood:
Thy lover's eye so glazed and cold dares not entreat thy stay:
Duty and dereliction guide thee back to solitude.
Away away! to thy sad and silent home;
Pour bitter tears on its desolated hearth; 10
Watch the dim shades as like ghosts they go and come
And complicate strange webs of melancholy mirth.
The leaves of wasted autumn woods shall float around thine head
The blooms of dewy Spring shall gleam beneath thy feet:
But thy soul or this world must fade in the frost that binds the dead 15
Ere midnight's frown and morning's smile ere thou and peace may meet.
The cloud shadows of midnight possess their own repose
For the weary winds are silent or the moon is in the deep;
Some respite to its turbulence unresting ocean knows;
Whatever moves or toils or grieves hath its appointed sleep.
Thou in the grave shalt rest:¡ªyet till the phantoms flee
Which that house and heath and garden made dear to thee erewhile
Thy remembrance and repentance and deep musings are not free
From the music of two voices and the light of one sweet smile.