Anne Kingsmill Finch | |
In such a night, when every louder wind
Is to its distant cavern safe confined;
And only gentle Zephyr fans his wings,
And lonely Philomel, still waking, sings;
Or from some tree, famed for the owl's delight,
She, hollowing clear, directs the wand'rer right:
In such a night, when passing clouds give place,
Or thinly veil the heav'ns' mysterious face;
When in some river, overhung with green,
The waving moon and trembling leaves are seen;
When freshened grass now bears itself upright,
And makes cool banks to pleasing rest invite,
Whence springs the woodbind, and the bramble-rose,
And where the sleepy cowslip sheltered grows;
Whilst now a paler hue the foxglove takes,
Yet checkers still with red the dusky brakes
When scattered glow-worms, but in twilight fine,
Shew trivial beauties watch their hour to shine;
Whilst Salisb'ry stands the test of every light,
In perfect charms, and perfect virtue bright:
When odors, which declined repelling day,
Through temp'rate air uninterrupted stray;
When darkened groves their softest shadows wear,
And falling waters we distinctly hear;
When through the gloom more venerable shows
Some ancient fabric, awful in repose,
While sunburnt hills their swarthy looks conceal,
And swelling haycocks thicken up the vale:
When the loosed horse now, as his pasture leads,
Comes slowly grazing through th' adjoining meads,
Whose stealing pace, and lengthened shade we fear,
Till torn-up forage in his teeth we hear:
When nibbling sheep at large pursue their food,
And unmolested kine rechew the cud;
When curlews cry beneath the village walls,
And to her straggling brood the partridge calls;
Their shortlived jubilee the creatures keep,
Which but endures, whilst tyrant man does sleep;
When a sedate content the spirit feels,
And no fierce light disturbs, whilst it reveals;
But silent musings urge the mind to seek
Something, too high for syllables to speak;
Till the free soul to a composedness charmed,
Finding the elements of rage disarmed,
O'er all below a solemn quiet grown,
Joys in th' inferior world, and thinks it like her own:
In such a night let me abroad remain,
Till morning breaks, and all's confused again;
Our cares, our toils, our clamors are renewed,
Or pleasures, seldom reached, again pursued.
George Herbert | |
My God, I heard this day
That none doth build a stately habitation,
But he that means to dwell therein.
What house more stately hath there been,
Or can be, than is Man? to whose creation
All things are in decay.
For Man is every thing,
And more: he is a tree, yet bears more fruit;
A beast, yet is or should be more:
Reason and speech we only bring.
Parrots may thank us, if they are not mute,
They go upon the score.
Man is all symmetry,
Full of proportions, one limb to another,
And all to all the world besides:
Each part may call the furthest, brother;
For head with foot hath private amity,
And both with moons and tides.
Nothing hath got so far,
But man hath caught and kept it, as his prey.
His eyes dismount the highest star:
He is in little all the sphere.
Herbs gladly cure our flesh, because that they
Find their acquaintance there.
For us the winds do blow,
The earth doth rest, heaven move, and fountains flow.
Nothing we see but means our good,
As our delight or as our treasure:
The whole is either our cupboard of food,
Or cabinet of pleasure.
The stars have us to bed;
Night draws the curtain, which the sun withdraws;
Music and light attend our head.
All things unto our flesh are kind
In their descent and being; to our mind
In their ascent and cause.
Each thing is full of duty:
Waters united are our navigation;
Distinguishèd, our habitation;
Below, our drink; above, our meat;
Both are our cleanliness.
Hath one such beauty?
Then how are all things neat?
More servants wait on Man
Than he'll take notice of: in every path
He treads down that which doth befriend him
When sickness makes him pale and wan.
O mighty love! Man is one world, and hath
Another to attend him.
Since then, my God, thou hast
So brave a palace built, O dwell in it
That it may dwell with thee at last!
Till then, afford us so much wit,
That, as the world serves us, we may serve thee,
And both thy servants be.
A E Housman | |
On the idle hill of summer,
Sleepy with the flow of streams,
Far I hear the steady drummer
Drumming like a noise in dreams.
Far and near and low and louder
On the roads of earth go by,
Dear to friends and food for powder,
Soldiers marching, all to die.
East and west on fields forgotten
Bleach the bones of comrades slain,
Lovely lads and dead and rotten;
None that go return again.
Far the calling bugles hollo,
High the screaming fife replies,
Gay the files of scarlet follow:
Woman bore me, I will rise.
More great poems below...
Edgar Allan Poe | |
Lo! 't is a gala night
Within the lonesome latter years!
An angel throng bewinged bedight
In veils and drowned in tears
Sit in a theatre to see
A play of hopes and fears
While the orchestra breathes fitfully
The music of the spheres.
Mimes in the form of God on high
Mutter and mumble low
And hither and thither fly -
Mere puppets they who come and go
At bidding of vast formless things
That shift the scenery to and fro
Flapping from out their Condor wings
That motley drama! - oh be sure
It shall not be forgot!
With its Phantom chased for evermore
By a crowd that seize it not
Through a circle that ever returneth in
To the self-same spot
And much of Madness and more of Sin
And Horror the soul of the plot.
But see amid the mimic rout
A crawling shape intrude!
A blood-red thing that writhes from out
The scenic solitude!
It writhes! - it writhes! - with mortal pangs
The mimes become its food
And the seraphs sob at vermin fangs
In human gore imbued.
Out - out are the lights - out all!
And over each quivering form
The curtain a funeral pall
Comes down with the rush of a storm
And the angels all pallid and wan
Uprising unveiling affirm
That the play is the tragedy "Man"
And its hero the Conqueror Worm.
Ralph Waldo Emerson | |
BRING me wine but wine which never grew
In the belly of the grape
Or grew on vine whose tap-roots reaching through
Under the Andes to the Cape
Suffer'd no savour of the earth to 'scape.
Let its grapes the morn salute
From a nocturnal root
Which feels the acrid juice
Of Styx and Erebus;
And turns the woe of Night 10
By its own craft to a more rich delight.
We buy ashes for bread;
We buy diluted wine;
Give me of the true
Whose ample leaves and tendrils curl'd 15
Among the silver hills of heaven
Draw everlasting dew;
Wine of wine
Blood of the world
Form of forms and mould of statures 20
That I intoxicated
And by the draught assimilated
May float at pleasure through all natures;
The bird-language rightly spell
And that which roses say so well: 25
Wine that is shed
Like the torrents of the sun
Up the horizon walls
Or like the Atlantic streams which run
When the South Sea calls.
Water and bread
Food which needs no transmuting
Wine which is already man
Food which teach and reason can.
Wine which Music is ¡ª
Music and wine are one ¡ª
That I drinking this
Shall hear far Chaos talk with me;
Kings unborn shall walk with me; 40
And the poor grass shall plot and plan
What it will do when it is man.
Quicken'd so will I unlock
Every crypt of every rock.
I thank the joyful juice 45
For all I know;
Winds of remembering
Of the ancient being blow
And seeming-solid walls of use
Open and flow.
Pour Bacchus! the remembering wine;
Retrieve the loss of me and mine!
Vine for vine be antidote
And the grape requite the lote!
Haste to cure the old despair; 55
Reason in Nature's lotus drench'd¡ª
The memory of ages quench'd¡ª
Give them again to shine;
Let wine repair what this undid;
And where the infection slid 60
A dazzling memory revive;
Refresh the faded tints
Recut the ag¨¨d prints
And write my old adventures with the pen
Which on the first day drew 65
Upon the tablets blue
The dancing Pleiads and eternal men.
Oliver Wendell Holmes | |
"Man wants but little here below.
LITTLE I ask; my wants are few;
I only wish a hut of stone,
(A very plain brown stone will do,)
That I may call my own;
And close at hand is such a one,
In yonder street that fronts the sun.
Plain food is quite enough for me;
Three courses are as good as ten;--
If Nature can subsist on three,
Thank Heaven for three.
I always thought cold victual nice;--
My choice would be vanilla-ice.
I care not much for gold or land;--
Give me a mortgage here and there,--
Some good bank-stock, some note of hand,
Or trifling railroad share,--
I only ask that Fortune send
A little more than I shall spend.
Honors are silly toys, I know,
And titles are but empty names;
I would, perhaps, be Plenipo,--
But only near St.
I'm very sure I should not care
To fill our Gubernator's chair.
Jewels are baubles; 't is a sin
To care for such unfruitful things;--
One good-sized diamond in a pin,--
Some, not so large, in rings,--
A ruby, and a pearl, or so,
Will do for me;--I laugh at show.
My dame should dress in cheap attire;
(Good, heavy silks are never dear;) -
I own perhaps I might desire
Some shawls of true Cashmere,--
Some marrowy crapes of China silk,
Like wrinkled skins on scalded milk.
I would not have the horse I drive
So fast that folks must stop and stare;
An easy gait--two forty-five--
Suits me; I do not care;--
Perhaps, for just a single spurt,
Some seconds less would do no hurt.
Of pictures, I should like to own
Titians aud Raphaels three or four,--
I love so much their style and tone,
One Turner, and no more,
(A landscape,--foreground golden dirt,--
The sunshine painted with a squirt.
Of books but few,--some fifty score
For daily use, and bound for wear;
The rest upon an upper floor;--
Some little luxury there
Of red morocco's gilded gleam
And vellum rich as country cream.
Busts, cameos, gems,--such things as these,
Which others often show for pride,
I value for their power to please,
And selfish churls deride;--
One Stradivarius, I confess,
Two Meerschaums, I would fain possess.
Wealth's wasteful tricks I will not learn,
Nor ape the glittering upstart fool;--
Shall not carved tables serve my turn,
But all must be of buhl?
Give grasping pomp its double share,--
I ask but one recumbent chair.
Thus humble let me live and die,
Nor long for Midas' golden touch;
If Heaven more generous gifts deny,
I shall not miss them much,--
Too grateful for the blessing lent
Of simple tastes and mind content!
Stephen Vincent Benet | |
Soup should be heralded with a mellow horn,
Blowing clear notes of gold against the stars;
Strange entrees with a jangle of glass bars
Fantastically alive with subtle scorn;
Fish, by a plopping, gurgling rush of waters,
Clear, vibrant waters, beautifully austere;
Roast, with a thunder of drums to stun the ear,
A screaming fife, a voice from ancient slaughters!
Over the salad let the woodwinds moan;
Then the green silence of many watercresses;
Dessert, a balalaika, strummed alone;
Coffee, a slow, low singing no passion stresses;
Such are my thoughts as -- clang! crash! bang! -- I brood
And gorge the sticky mess these fools call food!
Sir Walter Raleigh | |
Nature, that washed her hands in milk,
And had forgot to dry them,
Instead of earth took snow and silk,
At love's request to try them,
If she a mistress could compose
To please love's fancy out of those.
Her eyes he would should be of light,
A violet breath, and lips of jelly;
Her hair not black, nor overbright,
And of the softest down her belly;
As for her inside he'd have it
Only of wantonness and wit.
At love's entreaty such a one
Nature made, but with her beauty
She hath framed a heart of stone;
So as Love, by ill destiny,
Must die for her whom nature gave him
Because her darling would not save him.
But time, which nature doth despise
And rudely gives her love the lie,
Makes hope a fool, and sorrow wise,
His hands do neither wash nor dry;
But being made of steel and rust,
Turns snow and silk and milk to dust.
The light, the belly, lips, and breath,
He dims, discolors, and destroys;
With those he feeds but fills not death,
Which sometimes were the food of joys.
Yea, time doth dull each lively wit,
And dries all wantonness with it.
Oh, cruel time, which takes in trust
Our youth, or joys, and all we have,
And pays us but with age and dust;
Who in the dark and silent grave
When we have wandered all our ways
Shuts up the story of our days.
R S Thomas | |
I forgive you my life,
Begotten in a drab town,
The intention was good;
Passing the street now,
I see still the remains of sunlight.
It was not the bone buckled;
You gave me enough food
To renew myself.
It was the mind's weight
Kept me bent, as I grew tall.
It was not your fault.
What should have gone on,
Arrow aimed from a tried bow
At a tried target, has turned back,
With questions you had not asked.
Alec Derwent (A D) Hope | |
Reading the menu at the morning service:
- Iced Venusberg perhaps, or buttered bum -
Orders the usual sex-ersatz, and, nervous,
Glances around - Will she or won't she come?
The congregation dissected into pews
Gulping their strip teas in the luminous cavern
Agape's sacamental berry stews;
The nickel-plated light and clatter of heaven
Receive him, temporary Tantalus
Into the Lookingglassland's firescape.
Suckled on Jungfraumilch his eyes discuss,
The werwolf twins, their mock Sabellian rape.
This is their time to reap the standing scorn,
Blonde Rumina's crop.
Beneath her leafless tree
Ripe-rumped she lolls and clasps the plenteous horn.
Cool customers who defy his Trinity
Feel none the less, and thrill, ur-vater Fear
Caged in the son.
For, though this ghost behave
Experienced daughters recognize King Leer:
Lot also had his daughters in a cave.
Full sail the proud three-decker sandwiches
With the eye-fumbled priestesses repass;
On their swan lake the enchanted icecreams freeze,
The amorous fountain prickles in the glass
And at the introit of this mass emotion
She comes, she comes, a balanced pillar of blood,
Guides through the desert, divides the sterile ocean,
Brings sceptic Didymus his berserk food,
Sits deftly, folding elegant thighs, and takes
She skins her little leather hands,
Conscious that wavering towards her like tame snakes
The polyp eyes converge.
The prophet stands
Dreading the answer from her burning bush:
This unconsuming flame, the outlaw's blow,
Plague, exodus, Sinai, ruptured stones that gush,
God's telegram: Dare Now! Let this people go!
Mary Elizabeth Coleridge | |
As Christ the Lord was passing by,
He came, one night, to a cottage door.
He came, a poor man, to the poor;
He had no bed whereon to lie.
He asked in vain for a crust of bread,
Standing there in the frozen blast.
The door was locked and bolted fast.
‘Only a beggar!’ the poor man said.
Christ the Lord went further on,
Until He came to a palace gate.
There a king was keeping his state,
In every window the candles shone.
The king beheld Him out in the cold.
He left his guests in the banquet-hall.
He bade his servants tend them all.
‘I wait on a Guest I know of old.
‘’Tis only a beggar-man!’ they said.
‘Yes,’ he said; ‘it is Christ the Lord.
He spoke to Him a kindly word,
He gave Him wine and he gave Him bread.
Now Christ is Lord of Heaven and Hell,
And all the words of Christ are true.
He touched the cottage, and it grew;
He touched the palace, and it fell.
The poor man is become a king.
Never was man so sad as he.
Sorrow and Sin on the throne make three,
He has no joy in mortal thing.
But the sun streams in at the cottage door
That stands where once the palace stood.
And the workman, toiling to earn his food,
Was never a king before.
Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi | |
Reason says, “I will beguile him with the tongue;”
Love says, “Be silent.
I will beguile him with the soul.
The soul says to the heart, “Go, do not laugh at me and yourself.
What is there that is not his, that I may beguile him thereby?”
He is not sorrowful and anxious and seeking oblivion
that I may beguile him with wine and a heavy measure.
The arrow of his glance needs not a bow that I should
beguile the shaft of his gaze with a bow.
He is not prisoner of the world, fettered to this world
of earth, that I should beguile him with gold of the kingdom of the world.
He is an angel, though in form he is a man; he is not
lustful that I should beguile him with women.
Angels start away from the house wherein this form
is, so how should I beguile him with such a form and likeness?
He does not take a flock of horses, since he flies on wings;
his food is light, so how should I beguile him with bread?
He is not a merchant and trafficker in the market of the
world that I should beguile him with enchantment of gain and loss.
He is not veiled that I should make myself out sick and
utter sighs, to beguile him with lamentation.
I will bind my head and bow my head, for I have got out
of hand; I will not beguile his compassion with sickness or fluttering.
Hair by hair he sees my crookedness and feigning; what’s
hidden from him that I should beguile him with anything hidden.
He is not a seeker of fame, a prince addicted to poets,
that I should beguile him with verses and lyrics and flowing poetry.
The glory of the unseen form is too great for me to
beguile it with blessing or Paradise.
Translated by A.
‘Mystical Poems of Rumi’ The University of Chicago Press 1991
C S Lewis | |
It's an impudent falsehood.
Men did not
Invariably think the newer way Prosaic
mad, inelegant, or what not.
Was the first pointed arch esteemed a blot
Upon the church? Did anybody say How
modern and how ugly? They did not.
Plate-armour, or windows glazed, or verse fire-hot
With rhymes from France, or spices from Cathay,
Were these at first a horror? They were not.
If, then, our present arts, laws, houses, food
All set us hankering after yesterday,
Need this be only an archaising mood?
Why, any man whose purse has been let blood
By sharpers, when he finds all drained away
Must compare how he stands with how he stood.
If a quack doctor's breezy ineptitude
Has cost me a leg, must I forget straightway
All that I can't do now, all that I could?
So, when our guides unanimously decry
The backward glance, I think we can guess why.
Adam Lindsay Gordon | |
IN Collins Street standeth a statute tall,
A statue tall, on a pillar of stone,
Telling its story, to great and small,
Of the dust reclaimed from the sand waste lone;
Weary and wasted, and worn and wan,
Feeble and faint, and languid and low,
He lay on the desert a dying man;
Who has gone, my friends, where we all must go.
There are perils by land, and perils by water,
Short, I ween, are the obsequies
Of the landsman lost, but they may be shorter
With the mariner lost in the trackless seas;
And well for him, when the timbers start,
And the stout ship reels and settles below,
Who goes to his doom with as bold a heart,
As that dead man gone where we all must go.
Man is stubborn his rights to yield,
And redder than dews at eventide
Are the dews of battle, shed on the field,
By a nation’s wrath or a despot’s pride;
But few who have heard their death-knell roll,
From the cannon’s lips where they faced the foe,
Have fallen as stout and steady of soul,
As that dead man gone where we all must go.
Traverse yon spacious burial ground,
Many are sleeping soundly there,
Who pass’d with mourners standing around,
Kindred, and friends, and children fair;
Did he envy such ending? ’twere hard to say;
Had he cause to envy such ending? no;
Can the spirit feel for the senseless clay,
When it once has gone where we all must go?
What matters the sand or the whitening chalk,
The blighted herbage, the black’ning log,
The crooked beak of the eagle-hawk,
Or the hot red tongue of the native dog?
That couch was rugged, those sextons rude,
Yet, in spite of a leaden shroud, we know
That the bravest and fairest are earth-worms’ food,
When once they’ve gone where we all must go.
With the pistol clenched in his failing hand,
With the death mist spread o’er his fading eyes,
He saw the sun go down on the sand,
And he slept, and never saw it rise;
’Twas well; he toil’d till his task was done,
Constant and calm in his latest throe,
The storm was weathered, the battle was won,
When he went, my friends, where we all must go.
God grant that whenever, soon or late,
Our course is run and our goal is reach’d,
We may meet our fate as steady and straight
As he whose bones in yon desert bleach’d;
No tears are needed—our cheeks are dry,
We have none to waste upon living woe;
Shall we sigh for one who has ceased to sigh,
Having gone, my friends, where we all must go?
We tarry yet, we are toiling still,
He is gone and he fares the best,
He fought against odds, he struggled up hill,
He has fairly earned his season of rest;
No tears are needed—fill our the wine,
Let the goblets clash, and the grape juice flow,
Ho! pledge me a death-drink, comrade mine,
To a brave man gone where we all must go.
James Lee Jobe | |
Charlie, sunrise is a three-legged mongrel dog,
going deaf, already blind in one eye,
answering to the unlikely name, 'Lucky.
The sky, at gray-blue dawn, is a football field painted
by smiling artists.
Each artist has 3 arms, 3 hands, 3 legs.
One leg drags behind, leaving a trail, leaving a mark.
The future resembles a cloudy dream
where the ghosts of all your life
try to tell you something, but what?
Noon is a plate of mashed potatoes and gravy.
Midnight is an ugly chipped plate
that you only use when you are alone.
Sunset is a wise cat who ignores you
even when you are offering food; her conception
of what life is, or isn't, far exceeds our own.
This moment is a desert at midnight,
the hunting moon is full, and owls
fly through a cloudless sky.
The past is a winding, green river valley
deep between pine covered ridges;
what can you make of that?
Night is a secret plant growing inky black against the sky.
When this plant's life is over, then day returns
like a drunken husband who stayed out until breakfast.
A smile is a quick glimpse at the pretty face of hope.
Hope's face is framed by the beautiful night sky.
Hope's face is framed by the gray-blue dawn.
This is your life, these seconds and years
are the music for your only dance.
This is the eternity that you get to know.