Christina Rossetti | |
A fool I was to sleep at noon,
And wake when night is chilly
Beneath the comfortless cold moon;
A fool to pluck my rose too soon,
A fool to snap my lily.
My garden-plot I have not kept;
Faded and all-forsaken,
I weep as I have never wept:
Oh it was summer when I slept,
It's winter now I waken.
Talk what you please of future spring
And sun-warm'd sweet to-morrow:—
Stripp'd bare of hope and everything,
No more to laugh, no more to sing,
I sit alone with sorrow.
Phillis Wheatley | |
To show the lab'ring bosom's deep intent,
And thought in living characters to paint,
When first thy pencil did those beauties give,
And breathing figures learnt from thee to live,
How did those prospects give my soul delight,
A new creation rushing on my sight?
Still, wond'rous youth! each noble path pursue,
On deathless glories fix thine ardent view:
Still may the painter's and the poet's fire
To aid thy pencil, and thy verse conspire!
And may the charms of each seraphic theme
Conduct thy footsteps to immortal fame!
High to the blissful wonders of the skies
Elate thy soul, and raise thy wishful eyes.
Thrice happy, when exalted to survey
That splendid city, crown'd with endless day,
Whose twice six gates on radiant hinges ring:
Celestial Salem blooms in endless spring.
Calm and serene thy moments glide along,
And may the muse inspire each future song!
Still, with the sweets of contemplation bless'd,
May peace with balmy wings your soul invest!
But when these shades of time are chas'd away,
And darkness ends in everlasting day,
On what seraphic pinions shall we move,
And view the landscapes in the realms above?
There shall thy tongue in heav'nly murmurs flow,
And there my muse with heav'nly transport glow:
No more to tell of Damon's tender sighs,
Or rising radiance of Aurora's eyes,
For nobler themes demand a nobler strain,
And purer language on th' ethereal plain.
Cease, gentle muse! the solemn gloom of night
Now seals the fair creation from my sight.
Katherine Philips | |
If honor to an ancient name be due,
Or riches challenge it for one that's new,
The British language claims in either sense
Both for its age, and for its opulence.
But all great things must be from us removed,
To be with higher reverence beloved.
So landskips which in prospects distant lie,
With greater wonder draw the pleasèd eye.
Is not great Troy to one dark ruin hurled?
Once the fam'd scene of all the fighting world.
Where's Athens now, to whom Rome learning owes,
And the safe laurels that adorned her brows?
A strange reverse of fate she did endure,
Never once greater, than she's now obscure.
Even Rome her self can but some footsteps show
Of Scipio's times, or those of Cicero.
And as the Roman and the Grecian state,
The British fell, the spoil of time and fate.
But though the language hath the beauty lost,
Yet she has still some great remains to boast,
For 'twas in that, the sacred bards of old,
In deathless numbers did their thoughts unfold.
In groves, by rivers, and on fertile plains,
They civilized and taught the listening swains;
Whilst with high raptures, and as great success,
Virtue they clothed in music's charming dress.
This Merlin spoke, who in his gloomy cave,
Even Destiny her self seemed to enslave.
For to his sight the future time was known,
Much better than to others is their own;
And with such state, predictions from him fell,
As if he did decree, and not foretell.
This spoke King Arthur, who, if fame be true,
Could have compelled mankind to speak it too.
In this one Boadicca valor taught,
And spoke more nobly than her soldiers fought:
Tell me what hero could be more than she,
Who fell at once for fame and liberty?
Nor could a greater sacrifice belong,
Or to her children's, or her country's wrong.
This spoke Caractacus, who was so brave,
That to the Roman fortune check he gave:
And when their yoke he could decline no more,
He it so decently and nobly wore,
That Rome her self with blushes did believe,
A Britain would the law of honor give;
And hastily his chains away she threw,
Lest her own captive else should her subdue.
More great poems below...
Edgar Allan Poe | |
THOU wast that all to me love
For which my soul did pine --
A green isle in the sea love
A fountain and a shrine
All wreathed with fairy fruits and flowers
And all the flowers were mine.
Ah dream too bright to last!
Ah starry Hope! that didst arise
But to be overcast!
A voice from out the Future cries
"On! on!" -- but o'er the Past
(Dim gulf!) my spirit hovering lies
Mute motionless aghast!
For alas! alas! with me
The light of Life is o'er!
No more -- no more -- no more --
(Such language holds the solemn sea
To the sands upon the shore)
Shall bloom the thunder-blasted tree
Or the stricken eagle soar!
And all my days are trances
And all my nightly dreams
Are where thy grey eye glances
And where thy footstep gleams --
In what ethereal dances
By what eternal streams.
William Blake | |
HEAR the voice of the Bard
Who present past and future sees;
Whose ears have heard
The Holy Word
That walk'd among the ancient trees; 5
Calling the laps¨¨d soul
And weeping in the evening dew;
That might control
The starry pole
And fallen fallen light renew! 10
'O Earth O Earth return!
Arise from out the dewy grass!
Night is worn
And the morn
Rises from the slumbrous mass.
'Turn away no more;
Why wilt thou turn away?
The starry floor
The watery shore
Is given thee till the break of day.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow | |
What the Heart of the Young Man Said to the Psalmist
TELL me not in mournful numbers
Life is but an empty dream!¡ª
For the soul is dead that slumbers
And things are not what they seem.
Life is real! Life is earnest! 5
And the grave is not its goal;
Dust thou art to dust returnest
Was not spoken of the soul.
Not enjoyment and not sorrow
Is our destined end or way; 10
But to act that each to-morrow
Find us farther than to-day.
Art is long and Time is fleeting
And our hearts though stout and brave
Still like muffled drums are beating 15
Funeral marches to the grave.
In the world's broad field of battle
In the bivouac of Life
Be not like dumb driven cattle!
Be a hero in the strife! 20
Trust no Future howe'er pleasant!
Let the dead Past bury its dead!
Act ¡ªact in the living Present!
Heart within and God o'erhead!
Lives of great men all remind us 25
We can make our lives sublime
And departing leave behind us
Footprints on the sands of time;
Footprints that perhaps another
Sailing o'er life's solemn main 30
A forlorn and shipwrecked brother
Seeing shall take heart again.
Let us then be up and doing
With a heart for any fate;
Still achieving still pursuing 35
Learn to labor and to wait.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow | |
THIS is the Arsenal.
From floor to ceiling
Like a huge organ rise the burnished arms;
But from their silent pipes no anthem pealing
Startles the villages with strange alarms.
Ah! what a sound will rise how wild and dreary 5
When the death-angel touches those swift keys!
What loud lament and dismal Miserere
Will mingle with their awful symphonies!
I hear even now the infinite fierce chorus
The cries of agony the endless groan 10
Which through the ages that have gone before us
In long reverberations reach our own.
On helm and harness rings the Saxon hammer
Through Cimbric forest roars the Norseman's song
And loud amid the universal clamor 15
O'er distant deserts sounds the Tartar gong.
I hear the Florentine who from his palace
Wheels out his battle-bell with dreadful din
And Aztec priests upon their teocallis
Beat the wild war-drums made of serpent's skin; 20
The tumult of each sacked and burning village;
The shouts that every prayer for mercy drowns;
The soldiers' revels in the midst of pillage;
The wail of famine in beleaguered towns;
The bursting shell the gateway wrenched asunder 25
The rattling musketry the clashing blade;
And ever and anon in tones of thunder
The diapason of the cannonade.
Is it O man with such discordant noises
With such accursed instruments as these 30
Thou drownest Nature's sweet and kindly voices
And jarrest the celestial harmonies?
Were half the power that fills the world with terror
Were half the wealth bestowed on camps and courts
Given to redeem the human mind from error 35
There were no need of arsenals or forts:
The warrior's name would be a name abhorr¨¨d!
And every nation that should lift again
Its hand against a brother on its forehead
Would wear forevermore the curse of Cain! 40
Down the dark future through long generations
The echoing sounds grow fainter and then cease;
And like a bell with solemn sweet vibrations
I hear once more the voice of Christ say Peace!
Peace! and no longer from its brazen portals 45
The blast of War's great organ shakes the skies!
But beautiful as songs of the immortals
The holy melodies of love arise.
Ralph Waldo Emerson | |
SHINES the last age the next with hope is seen
To-day slinks poorly off unmarked between:
Future or Past no richer secret folds
O friendless Present! than thy bosom holds.
William Cullen Bryant | |
HOW shall I know thee in the sphere which keeps
The disembodied spirits of the dead
When all of thee that time could wither sleeps
And perishes among the dust we tread?
For I shall feel the sting of ceaseless pain 5
If there I meet thy gentle presence not;
Nor hear the voice I love nor read again
In thy serenest eyes the tender thought.
Will not thy own meek heart demand me there?
That heart whose fondest throbs to me were given¡ª 10
My name on earth was ever in thy prayer
And wilt thou never utter it in heaven?
In meadows fanned by heaven's life-breathing wind
In the resplendence of that glorious sphere
And larger movements of the unfettered mind 15
Wilt thou forget the love that joined us here?
The love that lived through all the stormy past
And meekly with my harsher nature bore
And deeper grew and tenderer to the last
Shall it expire with life and be no more? 20
A happier lot than mine and larger light
Await thee there for thou hast bowed thy will
In cheerful homage to the rule of right
And lovest all and renderest good for ill.
For me the sordid cares in which I dwell 25
Shrink and consume my heart as heat the scroll;
And wrath has left its scar¡ªthat fire of hell
Has left its frightful scar upon my soul.
Yet though thou wear'st the glory of the sky
Wilt thou not keep the same belov¨¨d name 30
The same fair thoughtful brow and gentle eye
Lovelier in heaven's sweet climate yet the same?
Shalt thou not teach me in that calmer home
The wisdom that I learned so ill in this¡ª
The wisdom which is love¡ªtill I become 35
Thy fit companion in that land of bliss?
John Greenleaf Whittier | |
O Friends! with whom my feet have trod
The quiet aisles of prayer,
Glad witness to your zeal for God
And love of man I bear.
I trace your lines of argument;
Your logic linked and strong
I weigh as one who dreads dissent,
And fears a doubt as wrong.
But still my human hands are weak
To hold your iron creeds:
Against the words ye bid me speak
My heart within me pleads.
Who fathoms the Eternal Thought?
Who talks of scheme and plan?
The Lord is God! He needeth not
The poor device of man.
I walk with bare, hushed feet the ground
Ye tread with boldness shod;
I dare not fix with mete and bound
The love and power of God.
Ye praise His justice; even such
His pitying love I deem:
Ye seek a king; I fain would touch
The robe that hath no seam.
Ye see the curse which overbroods
A world of pain and loss;
I hear our Lord's beatitudes
And prayer upon the cross.
More than your schoolmen teach, within
Myself, alas! I know:
Too dark ye cannot paint the sin,
Too small the merit show.
I bow my forehead to the dust,
I veil mine eyes for shame,
And urge, in trembling self-distrust,
A prayer without a claim.
I see the wrong that round me lies,
I feel the guilt within;
I hear, with groan and travail-cries,
The world confess its sin.
Yet, in the maddening maze of things,
And tossed by storm and flood,
To one fixed trust my spirit clings;
I know that God is good!
Not mine to look where cherubim
And seraphs may not see,
But nothing can be good in Him
Which evil is in me.
The wrong that pains my soul below
I dare not throne above,
I know not of His hate, - I know
His goodness and His love.
I dimly guess from blessings known
Of greater out of sight,
And, with the chastened Psalmist, own
His judgments too are right.
I long for household voices gone.
For vanished smiles I long,
But God hath led my dear ones on,
And He can do no wrong.
I know not what the future hath
Of marvel or surprise,
Assured alone that life and death
His mercy underlies.
And if my heart and flesh are weak
To bear an untried pain,
The bruised reed He will not break,
But strengthen and sustain.
No offering of my own I have,
Nor works my faith to prove;
I can but give the gifts He gave,
And plead His love for love.
And so beside the Silent Sea
I wait the muffled oar;
No harm from Him can come to me
On ocean or on shore.
I know not where His islands lift
Their fronded palms in air;
I only know I cannot drift
Beyond His love and care.
O brothers! if my faith is vain,
If hopes like these betray,
Pray for me that my feet may gain
The sure and safer way.
And Thou, O Lord! by whom are seen
Thy creatures as they be,
Forgive me if too close I lean
My human heart on Thee!
John Greenleaf Whittier | |
I write my name as one,
On sands by waves o'errun
Or winter's frosted pane,
Traces a record vain.
Oblivion's blankness claims
Wiser and better names,
And well my own may pass
As from the strand or glass.
Wash on, O waves of time!
Melt, noons, the frosty rime!
Welcome the shadow vast,
The silence that shall last!
When I and all who know
And love me vanish so,
What harm to them or me
Will the lost memory be?
If any words of mine,
Through right of life divine,
Remain, what matters it
Whose hand the message writ?
Why should the "crowner's quest"
Sit on my worst or best?
Why should the showman claim
The poor ghost of my name?
Yet, as when dies a sound
Its spectre lingers round,
Haply my spent life will
Leave some faint echo still.
A whisper giving breath
Of praise or blame to death,
Soothing or saddening such
As loved the living much.
Therefore with yearnings vain
And fond I still would fain
A kindly judgment seek,
A tender thought bespeak.
And, while my words are read,
Let this at least be said:
"Whate'er his life's defeatures,
He loved his fellow-creatures.
"If, of the Law's stone table,
To hold he scarce was able
The first great precept fast,
He kept for man the last.
"Through mortal lapse and dulness
What lacks the Eternal Fulness,
If still our weakness can
Love Him in loving man?
"Age brought him no despairing
Of the world's future faring;
In human nature still
He found more good than ill.
"To all who dumbly suffered,
His tongue and pen he offered;
His life was not his own,
Nor lived for self alone.
"Hater of din and riot
He lived in days unquiet;
And, lover of all beauty,
Trod the hard ways of duty.
"He meant no wrong to any
He sought the good of many,
Yet knew both sin and folly, --
May God forgive him wholly!"
William Cullen Bryant | |
Love's worshippers alone can know
The thousand mysteries that are his;
His blazing torch, his twanging bow,
His blooming age are mysteries.
A charming science--but the day
Were all too short to con it o'er;
So take of me this little lay,
A sample of its boundless lore.
As once, beneath the fragrant shade
Of myrtles breathing heaven's own air,
The children, Love and Folly, played--
A quarrel rose betwixt the pair.
Love said the gods should do him right--
But Folly vowed to do it then,
And struck him, o'er the orbs of sight,
So hard, he never saw again.
His lovely mother's grief was deep,
She called for vengeance on the deed;
A beauty does not vainly weep,
Nor coldly does a mother plead.
A shade came o'er the eternal bliss
That fills the dwellers of the skies;
Even stony-hearted Nemesis,
And Rhadamanthus, wiped their eyes.
"Behold," she said, "this lovely boy,"
While streamed afresh her graceful tears,
"Immortal, yet shut out from joy
And sunshine, all his future years.
The child can never take, you see,
A single step without a staff--
The harshest punishment would be
Too lenient for the crime by half.
All said that Love had suffered wrong,
And well that wrong should be repaid;
Then weighed the public interest long,
And long the party's interest weighed.
And thus decreed the court above--
"Since Love is blind from Folly's blow,
Let Folly be the guide of Love,
Where'er the boy may choose to go.
W S Merwin | |
In a dream I returned to the river of bees
Five orange trees by the bridge and
Beside two mills my house
Into whose courtyard a blind man followed
The goats and stood singing
Of what was older
Soon it will be fifteen years
He was old he will have fallen into his eyes
I took my eyes
A long way to the calenders
Room after room asking how shall I live
One of the ends is made of streets
One man processions carry through it
Empty bottles their
Images of hope
It was offered to me by name
Once once and once
In the same city I was born
Asking what shall I say
He will have fallen into his mouth
Men think they are better than grass
I return to his voice rising like a forkful of hay
He was old he is not real nothing is real
Nor the noise of death drawing water
We are the echo of the future
On the door it says what to do to survive
But we were not born to survive
Only to live
W S Merwin | |
Now that we are sinding you to The End
That great god
That we who follow you invented forgiveness
And forgive nothing
I write as though you could understand
And I could say it
One must always pretend something
Among the dying
When you have left the seas nodding on their stalks
Empty of you
Tell him that we were made
On another day
The bewilderment will diminish like an echo
Winding along your inner mountains
Unheard by us
And find its way out
Leaving behind it the future
When you will not see again
The whale calves trying the light
Consider what you will find in the black garden
And its court
The sea cows the Great Auks the gorillas
The irreplaceable hosts ranged countless
And fore-ordaining as stars
Join your work to theirs
That it is we who are important
W S Merwin | |
By this part of the century few are left who believe
in the animals for they are not there in the carved parts
of them served on plates and the pleas from the slatted trucks
are sounds of shadows that possess no future
there is still game for the pleasure of killing
and there are pets for the children but the lives that followed
courses of their own other than ours and older
have been migrating before us some are already
far on the way and yet Peter with his gaunt cheeks
and point of white beard the face of an aged Lawrence
Peter who had lived on from another time and country
and who had seen so many things set out and vanish
still believed in heaven and said he had never once
doubted it since his childhood on the farm in the days
of the horses he had not doubted it in the worst
times of the Great War and afterward and he had come
to what he took to be a kind of earthly
model of it as he wandered south in his sixties
by that time speaking the language well enough
for them to make him out he took the smallest roads
into a world he thought was a thing of the past
with wildflowers he scarcely remembered and neighbors
working together scything the morning meadows
turning the hay before the noon meal bringing it in
by milking time husbandry and abundance
all the virtues he admired and their reward bounteous
in the eyes of a foreigner and there he remained
for the rest of his days seeing what he wanted to see
until the winter when he could no longer fork
the earth in his garden and then he gave away
his house land everything and committed himself
to a home to die in an old chateau where he lingered
for some time surrounded by those who had lost
the use of body or mind and as he lay there he told me
that the wall by his bed opened almost every day
and he saw what was really there and it was eternal life
as he recognized at once when he saw the gardens
he had made and the green fields where he had been
a child and his mother was standing there then the wall would close
and around him again were the last days of the world