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.
John Keats | |
SEASON of mists and mellow fruitfulness!
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eaves run;
To bend with apples the moss'd cottage-trees 5
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
To swell the gourd and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more
And still more later flowers for the bees
Until they think warm days will never cease 10
For Summer has o'er-brimm'd their clammy cells.
Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?
Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find
Thee sitting careless on a granary floor
Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind; 15
Or on a half-reap'd furrow sound asleep
Drowsed with the fume of poppies while thy hook
Spares the next swath and all its twin¨¨d flowers;
And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep
Steady thy laden head across a brook; 20
Or by a cider-press with patient look
Thou watchest the last oozings hours by hours.
Where are the songs of Spring? Ay where are they?
Think not of them thou hast thy music too ¡ª
While barr¨¨d clouds bloom the soft-dying day 25
And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue;
Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn
Among the river sallows borne aloft
Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;
And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn; 30
Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft
The redbreast whistles from a garden-croft;
And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.
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.
More great poems below...
Ralph Waldo Emerson | |
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.
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.
'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.
Allen Ginsberg | |
What thoughts I have of you tonight, Walt Whit-
man, for I walked down the sidestreets under the trees
with a headache self-conscious looking at the full moon.
In my hungry fatigue, and shopping for images,
I went into the neon fruit supermarket, dreaming of
What peaches and what penumbras! Whole fam-
ilies shopping at night! Aisles full of husbands! Wives
in the avocados, babies in the tomatoes!--and you,
Garcia Lorca, what were you doing down by the
I saw you, Walt Whitman, childless, lonely old
grubber, poking among the meats in the refrigerator
and eyeing the grocery boys.
I heard you asking questions of each: Who killed
the pork chops? What price bananas? Are you my
I wandered in and out of the brilliant stacks of
cans following you, and followed in my imagination
by the store detective.
We strode down the open corridors together in
our solitary fancy tasting artichokes, possessing every
frozen delicacy, and never passing the cashier.
Where are we going, Walt Whitman? The doors
close in an hour.
Which way does your beard point
(I touch your book and dream of our odyssey in the
supermarket and feel absurd.
Will we walk all night through solitary streets?
The trees add shade to shade, lights out in the houses,
we'll both be lonely.
Will we stroll dreaming ofthe lost America of love
past blue automobiles in driveways, home to our silent
Ah, dear father, graybeard, lonely old courage-
teacher, what America did you have when Charon quit
poling his ferry and you got out on a smoking bank
and stood watching the boat disappear on the black
waters of Lethe?
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow | |
WHEN descends on the Atlantic
Storm-wind of the equinox
Landward in his wrath he scourges
The toiling surges 5
Laden with seaweed from the rocks:
From Bermuda's reefs; from edges
Of sunken ledges
In some far-off bright Azore;
From Bahama and the dashing 10
Surges of San Salvador;
From the tumbling surf that buries
The Orkneyan skerries
Answering the hoarse Hebrides; 15
And from wrecks of ships and drifting
On the desolate rainy seas;¡ª
Ever drifting drifting drifting
On the shifting 20
Currents of the restless main;
Till in sheltered coves and reaches
Of sandy beaches
All have found repose again.
So when storms of wild emotion 25
Strike the ocean
Of the poet's soul erelong
From each cave and rocky fastness
In its vastness
Floats some fragment of a song: 30
From the far-off isles enchanted
Heaven has planted
With the golden fruit of Truth;
From the flashing surf whose vision
Gleams Elysian 35
In the tropic clime of Youth;
From the strong Will and the Endeavor
Wrestle with the tides of Fate;
From the wreck of Hopes far-scattered 40
Floating waste and desolate;¡ª
Ever drifting drifting drifting
On the shifting
Currents of the restless heart; 45
Till at length in books recorded
They like hoarded
Household words no more depart.
Wallace Stevens | |
A sunny day's complete Poussiniana
Divide it from itself.
It is this or that
And it is not.
By metaphor you paint
Thus, the pineapple was a leather fruit,
A fruit for pewter, thorned and palmed and blue,
To be served by men of ice.
The senses paint
The juice was fragranter
Than wettest cinnamon.
It was cribled pears
Dripping a morning sap.
The truth must be
That you do not see, you experience, you feel,
That the buxom eye brings merely its element
To the total thing, a shapeless giant forced
Green were the curls upon that head.
Wallace Stevens | |
Twenty men crossing a bridge,
Into a village,
Are twenty men crossing twenty bridges,
Into twenty villages,
Or one man
Crossing a single bridge into a village.
This is old song
That will not declare itself .
Twenty men crossing a bridge,
Into a village,
Twenty men crossing a bridge
Into a village.
That will not declare itself
Yet is certain as meaning .
The boots of the men clump
On the boards of the bridge.
The first white wall of the village
Rises through fruit-trees.
Of what was it I was thinking?
So the meaning escapes.
The first white wall of the village .
The fruit-trees .
Edmund Spenser | |
SHE fell away in her first ages spring,
Whil'st yet her leafe was greene, and fresh her rinde,
And whil'st her braunch faire blossomes foorth did bring,
She fell away against all course of kinde.
For age to dye is right, but youth is wrong; 5
She fel away like fruit blowne downe with winde.
Weepe, Shepheard! weepe, to make my undersong.
Yet fell she not as one enforst to dye,
Ne dyde with dread and grudging discontent,
But as one toyld with travaile downe doth lye, 10
So lay she downe, as if to sleepe she went,
And closde her eyes with carelesse quietnesse;
The whiles soft death away her spirit hent,
And soule assoyld from sinfull fleshlinesse.
How happie was I when I saw her leade 15
The Shepheards daughters dauncing in a rownd!
How trimly would she trace and softly tread
The tender grasse, with rosie garland crownd!
And when she list advance her heavenly voyce,
Both Nymphes and Muses nigh she made astownd, 20
And flocks and shepheards caus¨¨d to rejoyce.
But now, ye Shepheard lasses! who shall lead
Your wandring troupes, or sing your virelayes?
Or who shall dight your bowres, sith she is dead
That was the Lady of your holy-dayes? 25
Let now your blisse be turn¨¨d into bale,
And into plaints convert your joyous playes,
And with the same fill every hill and dale.
For I will walke this wandring pilgrimage,
Throughout the world from one to other end, 30
And in affliction wast my better age:
My bread shall be the anguish of my mind,
My drink the teares which fro mine eyed do raine,
My bed the ground that hardest I may finde;
So will I wilfully increase my paine.
Ne sleepe (the harbenger of wearie wights)
Shall ever lodge upon mine ey-lids more;
Ne shall with rest refresh my fainting sprights,
Nor failing force to former strength restore:
But I will wake and sorrow all the night 40
With Philumene, my fortune to deplore;
With Philumene, the partner of my plight.
And ever as I see the starres to fall,
And under ground to goe to give them light
Which dwell in darknes, I to minde will call 45
How my fair Starre (that shinde on me so bright)
Fell sodainly and faded under ground;
Since whose departure, day is turnd to night,
And night without a Venus starre is found.
And she, my love that was, my Saint that is, 50
When she beholds from her celestiall throne
(In which shee joyeth in eternall blis)
My bitter penance, will my case bemone,
And pitie me that living thus doo die;
For heavenly spirits have compassion 55
On mortall men, and rue their miserie.
So when I have with sorowe satisfide
Th' importune fates, which vengeance on me seeke,
And th' heavens with long languor pacifide,
She, for pure pitie of my sufferance meeke, 60
Will send for me; for which I daylie long:
And will till then my painful penance eeke.
Weep, Shepheard! weep, to make my undersong!
Sir Thomas Wyatt | |
Avising the bright beams of these fair eyes
Where he is that mine oft moisteth and washeth,
The wearied mind straight from the heart departeth
For to rest in his worldly paradise
And find the sweet bitter under this guise.
What webs he hath wrought well he perceiveth
Whereby with himself on love he plaineth
That spurreth with fire and bridleth with ice.
Thus is it in such extremity brought,
In frozen thought, now and now it standeth in flame.
Twixt misery and wealth, twixt earnest and game,
But few glad, and many diverse thought
With sore repentance of his hardiness.
Of such a root cometh fruit fruitless.
John Greenleaf Whittier | |
Oh, greenly and fair in the lands of the sun,
The vines of the gourd and the rich melon run,
And the rock and the tree and the cottage enfold,
With broad leaves all greenness and blossoms all gold,
Like that which o'er Nineveh's prophet once grew,
While he waited to know that his warning was true,
And longed for the storm-cloud, and listened in vain
For the rush of the whirlwind and red fire-rain.
On the banks of the Xenil the dark Spanish maiden
Comes up with the fruit of the tangled vine laden;
And the Creole of Cuba laughs out to behold
Through orange-leaves shining the broad spheres of gold;
Yet with dearer delight from his home in the North,
On the fields of his harvest the Yankee looks forth,
Where crook-necks are coiling and yellow fruit shines,
And the sun of September melts down on his vines.
Ah! on Thanksgiving day, when from East and from West,
From North and from South comes the pilgrim and guest;
When the gray-haired New Englander sees round his board
The old broken links of affection restored;
When the care-wearied man seeks his mother once more,
And the worn matron smiles where the girl smiled before;
What moistens the lip and what brightens the eye,
What calls back the past, like the rich Pumpkin pie?
Oh, fruit loved of boyhood! the old days recalling,
When wood-grapes were purpling and brown nuts were falling!
When wild, ugly faces we carved in its skin,
Glaring out through the dark with a candle within!
When we laughed round the corn-heap, with hearts all in tune,
Our chair a broad pumpkin, -- our lantern the moon,
Telling tales of the fairy who travelled like steam
In a pumpkin-shell coach, with two rats for her team!
Then thanks for thy present! none sweeter or better
E'er smoked from an oven or circled a platter!
Fairer hands never wrought at a pastry more fine,
Brighter eyes never watched o'er its baking, than thine!
And the prayer, which my mouth is too full to express,
Swells my heart that thy shadow may never be less,
That the days of thy lot may be lengthened below,
And the fame of thy worth like a pumpkin-vine grow,
And thy life be as sweet, and its last sunset sky
Golden-tinted and fair as thy own Pumpkin pie!
Stephen Vincent Benet | |
Next, then, the peacock, gilt
With all its feathers.
Look, what gorgeous dyes
Flow in the eyes!
And how deep, lustrous greens are splashed and spilt
Along the back, that like a sea-wave's crest
Scatters soft beauty o'er th' emblazoned breast!
A strange fowl! But most fit
For feasts like this, whereby I honor one
Pure as the sun!
Yet glowing with the fiery zeal of it!
Some wine? Your goblet's empty? Let it foam!
It is not often that you come to Rome!
You like the Venice glass?
Rippled with lines that float like women's curls,
Neck like a girl's,
Fierce-glowing as a chalice in the Mass?
You start -- 'twas artist then, not Pope who spoke!
Ave Maria stella! -- ah, it broke!
'Tis said they break alone
When poison writhes within.
A foolish tale!
What, you look pale?
Caraffa, fetch a silver cup! .
A Birth of Venus, now -- or so I've heard,
Lovely as the breast-plumage of a bird.
Also a Dancing Faun,
Hewn with the lithe grace of Praxiteles;
Globed pearls to please
A sultan; golden veils that drop like lawn --
How happy I could be with but a tithe
Of your possessions, fortunate one! Don't writhe
But take these cushions here!
Now for the fruit! Great peaches, satin-skinned,
Pomegranates red as lips -- oh they come dear!
But men like you we feast at any price --
A plum perhaps? They're looking rather nice!
I'll cut the thing in half.
There's yours! Now, with a one-side-poisoned knife
One might snuff life
And leave one's friend with -- "fool" for epitaph!
An old trick? Truth! But when one has the itch
For pretty things and isn't very rich.
There, eat it all or I'll
Be angry! You feel giddy? Well, it's hot!
Take home and smell -- it purges blood of bile!
And when you kiss Bianca's dimpled knee,
Think of the poor Pope in his misery!
Now you may kiss my ring!
Ho there, the Cardinal's litter! -- You must dine
When the new wine
Is in, again with me -- hear Bice sing,
Even admire my frescoes -- though they're nought
Beside the calm Greek glories you have bought!
Godspeed, Sir Cardinal!
And take a weak man's blessing! Help him there
To the cool air! .
Lucrezia here? You're ready for the ball?
-- He'll die within ten hours, I suppose --
Mhm! Kiss your poor old father, little rose!
William Cullen Bryant | |
Is this a time to be cloudy and sad,
When our mother Nature laughs around;
When even the deep blue heavens look glad,
And gladness breathes from the blossoming ground?
There are notes of joy from the hang-bird and wren,
And the gossip of swallows through all the sky;
The ground-squirrel gaily chirps by his den,
And the wilding bee hums merrily by.
The clouds are at play in the azure space,
And their shadows at play on the bright green vale,
And here they stretch to the frolic chase,
And there they roll on the easy gale.
There's a dance of leaves in that aspen bower,
There's a titter of winds in that beechen tree,
There's a smile on the fruit, and a smile on the flower,
And a laugh from the brook that runs to the sea.
And look at the broad-faced sun, how he smiles
On the dewy earth that smiles in his ray,
On the leaping waters and gay young isles;
Ay, look, and he'll smile thy gloom away.
William Cullen Bryant | |
The summer morn is bright and fresh, the birds are darting by,
As if they loved to breast the breeze that sweeps the cool dear sky;
Young Albert, in the forest's edge, has heard a rustling sound
An arrow slightly strikes his hand and falls upon the ground.
A lovely woman from the wood comes suddenly in sight;
Her merry eye is full and black, her cheek is brown and bright;
She wears a tunic of the blue, her belt with beads is strung,
And yet she speaks in gentle tones, and in the English tongue.
"It was an idle bolt I sent, against the villain crow;
Fair sir, I fear it harmed thy hand; beshrew my erring bow!"
"Ah! would that bolt had not been spent, then, lady, might I wear
A lasting token on my hand of one so passing fair!"
"Thou art a flatterer like the rest, but wouldst thou take with me
A day of hunting in the wilds, beneath the greenwood tree,
I know where most the pheasants feed, and where the red-deer herd,
And thou shouldst chase the nobler game, and I bring down the bird.
Now Albert in her quiver lays the arrow in its place,
And wonders as he gazes on the beauty of her face:
`Those hunting-grounds are far away, and, lady, 'twere not meet
That night, amid the wilderness, should overtake thy feet.
"Heed not the night, a summer lodge amid the wild is mine,
'Tis shadowed by the tulip-tree, 'tis mantled by the vine;
The wild plum sheds its yellow fruit from fragrant thickets nigh,
And flowery prairies from the door stretch till they meet the sky.
"There in the boughs that hide the roof the mock-bird sits and sings,
And there the hang-bird's brood within its little hammock swings;
A pebbly brook, where rustling winds among the hopples sweep,
Shall lull thee till the morning sun looks in upon thy sleep.
Away, into the forest depths by pleasant paths they go,
He with his rifle on his arm, the lady with her bow,
Where cornels arch their cool dark boughs o'er beds of wintergreen,
And never at his father's door again was Albert seen.
That night upon the woods came down a furious hurricane,
With howl of winds and roar of streams and beating of the rain;
The mighty thunder broke and drowned the noises in its crash;
The old trees seemed to fight like fiends beneath the lightning-flash.
Next day, within a mossy glen, mid mouldering trunks were found
The fragments of a human form, upon the bloody ground;
White bones from which the flesh was torn, and locks of glossy hair;
They laid them in the place of graves, yet wist not whose they were.
And whether famished evening wolves had mangled Albert so,
Or that strange dame so gay and fair were some mysterious foe,
Or whether to that forest lodge, beyond the mountains blue,
He went to dwell with her, the friends who mourned him never knew.
James A Emanuel | |
In town to sell his fruit, he saw her—
Françoise in her summer slacks—
turning to him, coming back
to feel the swelling plums,
one held in each soft hand, breast-high,
above them her eyes enclosing him
in quietness brushed up to colors,
urgings green, thrustings yellow.
A vine-like touch, her promise seemed all profit,
surplus to lay aside and store,
quick harvest if he collapsed his stand,
pulled down his crates, rolled away his canvas:
full bounty if he washed his hands and followed,
trailing her fragrances
of melons in their prime, of berries bursting.
She turned to go, her scent adrift
as if from glistenings in soil turned off a spade.
His yearning had no time
to plant and cultivate
and wait for rain,
yet he was quick to catch a peach about to fall—
that brightness of his wrist
costing the moment that concealed her in the crowd;
and yet a perfect peach lay in his hand,
his only means to feel the way good seasons end.
A lucky day, he thought,
begins with plums.