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.
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.
More great poems below...
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.
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!
Francis Thompson |
Too wearily had we and song
Been left to look and left to long,
Yea, song and we to long and look,
Since thine acquainted feet forsook
The mountain where the Muses hymn
For Sinai and the Seraphim.
Now in both the mountains' shine
Dress thy countenance, twice divine!
From Moses and the Muses draw
The Tables of thy double Law!
His rod-born fount and Castaly
Let the one rock bring forth for thee,
Renewing so from either spring
The songs which both thy countries sing:
Or we shall fear lest, heavened thus long,
Thou should'st forget thy native song,
And mar thy mortal melodies
With broken stammer of the skies.
Ah! let the sweet birds of the Lord
With earth's waters make accord;
Teach how the crucifix may be
Carven from the laurel-tree,
Fruit of the Hesperides
Burnish take on Eden-trees,
The Muses' sacred grove be wet
With the red dew of Olivet,
And Sappho lay her burning brows
In white Cecilia's lap of snows!
Thy childhood must have felt the stings
Of too divine o'ershadowings;
Its odorous heart have been a blossom
That in darkness did unbosom,
Those fire-flies of God to invite,
Burning spirits, which by night
Bear upon their laden wing
To such hearts impregnating.
For flowers that night-wings fertilize
Mock down the stars' unsteady eyes,
And with a happy, sleepless glance
Gaze the moon out of countenance.
I think thy girlhood's watchers must
Have took thy folded songs on trust,
And felt them, as one feels the stir
Of still lightnings in the hair,
When conscious hush expects the cloud
To speak the golden secret loud
Which tacit air is privy to;
Flasked in the grape the wine they knew,
Ere thy poet-mouth was able
For its first young starry babble.
Keep'st thou not yet that subtle grace?
Yea, in this silent interspace,
God sets His poems in thy face!
The loom which mortal verse affords,
Out of weak and mortal words,
Wovest thou thy singing-weed in,
To a rune of thy far Eden.
Vain are all disguises! Ah,
Thy mien bewrayeth through that wrong
The great Uranian House of Song!
As the vintages of earth
Taste of the sun that riped their birth,
We know what never cadent Sun
Thy lamped clusters throbbed upon,
What plumed feet the winepress trod;
Thy wine is flavorous of God.
Whatever singing-robe thou wear
Has the Paradisal air;
And some gold feather it has kept
Shows what Floor it lately swept!
Pablo Neruda |
The light wraps you in its mortal flame.
Abstracted pale mourner, standing that way
against the old propellers of the twighlight
that revolves around you.
Speechless, my friend,
alone in the loneliness of this hour of the dead
and filled with the lives of fire,
pure heir of the ruined day.
A bough of fruit falls from the sun on your dark garment.
The great roots of night
grow suddenly from your soul,
and the things that hide in you come out again
so that a blue and palled people
your newly born, takes nourishment.
Oh magnificent and fecund and magnetic slave
of the circle that moves in turn through black and gold:
rise, lead and possess a creation
so rich in life that its flowers perish
and it is full of sadness.
Charles Baudelaire |
I love the naked ages long ago
When statues were gilded by Apollo,
When men and women of agility
Could play without lies and anxiety,
And the sky lovingly caressed their spines,
As it exercised its noble machine.
Fertile Cybele, mother of nature, then,
Would not place on her daughters a burden,
But, she-wolf sharing her heart with the people,
Would feed creation from her brown nipples.
Men, elegant and strong, would have the right
To be proud to have beauty named their king;
Virgin fruit free of blemish and cracking,
Whose flesh smooth and firm would summon a bite!
The Poet today, when he would convey
This native grandeur, would not be swept away
By man free and woman natural,
But would feel darkness envelop his soul
Before this black tableau full of loathing.
O malformed monsters crying for clothing!
O ludicrous heads! Torsos needing disguise!
O poor writhing bodies of every wrong size,
Children that the god of the Useful swaths
In the language of bronze and brass!
And women, alas! You shadow your heredity,
You gnaw nourishment from debauchery,
A virgin holds maternal lechery
And all the horrors of fecundity!
We have, it is true, corrupt nations,
Beauty unknown to the radiant ancients:
Faces that gnaw through the heart's cankers,
And talk with the cool beauty of languor;
But these inventions of our backward muses
Are never hindered in their morbid uses
Of the old for profound homage to youth,
—To the young saint, the sweet air, the simple truth,
To the eye as limpid as the water current,
To spread out over all, insouciant
Like the blue sky, the birds and the flowers,
Its perfumes, its songs and its sweet fervors.
Robert Burns |
THOU’S 1 welcome, wean; mishanter fa’ me,
If thoughts o’ thee, or yet thy mamie,
Shall ever daunton me or awe me,
My bonie lady,
Or if I blush when thou shalt ca’ me
Tyta or daddie.
Tho’ now they ca’ me fornicator,
An’ tease my name in kintry clatter,
The mair they talk, I’m kent the better,
E’en let them clash;
An auld wife’s tongue’s a feckless matter
To gie ane fash.
Welcome! my bonie, sweet, wee dochter,
Tho’ ye come here a wee unsought for,
And tho’ your comin’ I hae fought for,
Baith kirk and queir;
Yet, by my faith, ye’re no unwrought for,
That I shall swear!
Wee image o’ my bonie Betty,
As fatherly I kiss and daut thee,
As dear, and near my heart I set thee
Wi’ as gude will
As a’ the priests had seen me get thee
That’s out o’ h—ll.
Sweet fruit o’ mony a merry dint,
My funny toil is now a’ tint,
Sin’ thou came to the warl’ asklent,
Which fools may scoff at;
In my last plack thy part’s be in’t
The better ha’f o’t.
Tho’ I should be the waur bestead,
Thou’s be as braw and bienly clad,
And thy young years as nicely bred
As ony brat o’ wedlock’s bed,
In a’ thy station.
Lord grant that thou may aye inherit
Thy mither’s person, grace, an’ merit,
An’ thy poor, worthless daddy’s spirit,
Without his failins,
’Twill please me mair to see thee heir it,
Than stockit mailens.
For if thou be what I wad hae thee,
And tak the counsel I shall gie thee,
I’ll never rue my trouble wi’ thee,
The cost nor shame o’t,
But be a loving father to thee,
And brag the name o’t.
Burns never published this poem.
Ralph Waldo Emerson |
The bush that has most briers and bitter fruit,
Wait till the frost has turned its green leaves red,
Its sweetened berries will thy palate suit,
And thou may'st find e'en there a homely bread.
Upon the hills of Salem scattered wide,
Their yellow blossoms gain the eye in Spring;
And straggling e'en upon the turnpike's side,
Their ripened branches to your hand they bring,
I 've plucked them oft in boyhood's early hour,
That then I gave such name, and thought it true;
But now I know that other fruit as sour
Grows on what now thou callest Me and You;
Yet, wilt thou wait the autumn that I see,
Will sweeter taste than these red berries be.
Robert Frost |
My long two-pointed ladder's sticking through a tree
Toward heaven still,
And there's a barrel that I didn't fill
Beside it, and there may be two or three
Apples I didn't pick upon some bough.
But I am done with apple-picking now.
Essence of winter sleep is on the night,
The scent of apples: I am drowsing off.
I cannot rub the strangeness from my sight
I got from looking through a pane of glass
I skimmed this morning from the drinking trough
And held against the world of hoary grass.
It melted, and I let it fall and break.
But I was well
Upon my way to sleep before it fell,
And I could tell
What form my dreaming was about to take.
Magnified apples appear and disappear,
Stem end and blossom end,
And every fleck of russet showing dear.
My instep arch not only keeps the ache,
It keeps the pressure of a ladder-round.
I feel the ladder sway as the boughs bend.
And I keep hearing from the cellar bin
The rumbling sound
Of load on load of apples coming in.
For I have had too much
Of apple-picking: I am overtired
Of the great harvest I myself desired.
There were ten thousand thousand fruit to touch,
Cherish in hand, lift down, and not let fall.
That struck the earth,
No matter if not bruised or spiked with stubble,
Went surely to the cider-apple heap
As of no worth.
One can see what will trouble
This sleep of mine, whatever sleep it is.
Were he not gone,
The woodchuck could say whether it's like his
Long sleep, as I describe its coming on,
Or just some human sleep.