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Best Famous Goodbye Poems

Here is a collection of the all-time best famous Goodbye poems. This is a select list of the best famous Goodbye poetry. Reading, writing, and enjoying famous Goodbye poetry (as well as classical and contemporary poems) is a great past time. These top poems are the best examples of goodbye poems.

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by Sylvia Plath | |



This is the sea, then, this great abeyance.
How the sun's poultice draws on my inflammation.
Electrifyingly-colored sherbets, scooped from the freeze By pale girls, travel the air in scorched hands.
Why is it so quiet, what are they hiding? I have two legs, and I move smilingly.
A sandy damper kills the vibrations; It stretches for miles, the shrunk voices Waving and crutchless, half their old size.
The lines of the eye, scalded by these bald surfaces, Boomerang like anchored elastics, hurting the owner.
Is it any wonder he puts on dark glasses? Is it any wonder he affects a black cassock? Here he comes now, among the mackerel gatherers Who wall up their backs against him.
They are handling the black and green lozenges like the parts of a body.
The sea, that crystallized these, Creeps away, many-snaked, with a long hiss of distress.
(2) This black boot has no mercy for anybody.
Why should it, it is the hearse of a dad foot, The high, dead, toeless foot of this priest Who plumbs the well of his book, The bent print bulging before him like scenery.
Obscene bikinis hid in the dunes, Breasts and hips a confectioner's sugar Of little crystals, titillating the light, While a green pool opens its eye, Sick with what it has swallowed---- Limbs, images, shrieks.
Behind the concrete bunkers Two lovers unstick themselves.
O white sea-crockery, What cupped sighs, what salt in the throat.
And the onlooker, trembling, Drawn like a long material Through a still virulence, And a weed, hairy as privates.
(3) On the balconies of the hotel, things are glittering.
Things, things---- Tubular steel wheelchairs, aluminum crutches.
Such salt-sweetness.
Why should I walk Beyond the breakwater, spotty with barnacles? I am not a nurse, white and attendant, I am not a smile.
These children are after something, with hooks and cries, And my heart too small to bandage their terrible faults.
This is the side of a man: his red ribs, The nerves bursting like trees, and this is the surgeon: One mirrory eye---- A facet of knowledge.
On a striped mattress in one room An old man is vanishing.
There is no help in his weeping wife.
Where are the eye-stones, yellow and vvaluable, And the tongue, sapphire of ash.
(4) A wedding-cake face in a paper frill.
How superior he is now.
It is like possessing a saint.
The nurses in their wing-caps are no longer so beautiful; They are browning, like touched gardenias.
The bed is rolled from the wall.
This is what it is to be complete.
It is horrible.
Is he wearing pajamas or an evening suit Under the glued sheet from which his powdery beak Rises so whitely unbuffeted? They propped his jaw with a book until it stiffened And folded his hands, that were shaking: goodbye, goodbye.
Now the washed sheets fly in the sun, The pillow cases are sweetening.
It is a blessing, it is a blessing: The long coffin of soap-colored oak, The curious bearers and the raw date Engraving itself in silver with marvelous calm.
(5) The gray sky lowers, the hills like a green sea Run fold upon fold far off, concealing their hollows, The hollows in which rock the thoughts of the wife---- Blunt, practical boats Full of dresses and hats and china and married daughters.
In the parlor of the stone house One curtain is flickering from the open window, Flickering and pouring, a pitiful candle.
This is the tongue of the dead man: remember, remember.
How far he is now, his actions Around him like livingroom furniture, like a décor.
As the pallors gather---- The pallors of hands and neighborly faces, The elate pallors of flying iris.
They are flying off into nothing: remember us.
The empty benches of memory look over stones, Marble facades with blue veins, and jelly-glassfuls of daffodils.
It is so beautiful up here: it is a stopping place.
(6) The natural fatness of these lime leaves!---- Pollarded green balls, the trees march to church.
The voice of the priest, in thin air, Meets the corpse at the gate, Addressing it, while the hills roll the notes of the dead bell; A glittler of wheat and crude earth.
What is the name of that color?---- Old blood of caked walls the sun heals, Old blood of limb stumps, burnt hearts.
The widow with her black pocketbook and three daughters, Necessary among the flowers, Enfolds her lace like fine linen, Not to be spread again.
While a sky, wormy with put-by smiles, Passes cloud after cloud.
And the bride flowers expend a fershness, And the soul is a bride In a still place, and the groom is red and forgetful, he is featureless.
(7) Behind the glass of this car The world purrs, shut-off and gentle.
And I am dark-suited and stil, a member of the party, Gliding up in low gear behind the cart.
And the priest is a vessel, A tarred fabric,sorry and dull, Following the coffin on its flowery cart like a beautiful woman, A crest of breasts, eyelids and lips Storming the hilltop.
Then, from the barred yard, the children Smell the melt of shoe-blacking, Their faces turning, wordless and slow, Their eyes opening On a wonderful thing---- Six round black hats in the grass and a lozenge of wood, And a naked mouth, red and awkward.
For a minute the sky pours into the hole like plasma.
There is no hope, it is given up.

by Anna Akhmatova | |


 There will be thunder then.
Remember me.
Say ‘ She asked for storms.
’ The entire world will turn the colour of crimson stone, and your heart, as then, will turn to fire.
That day, in Moscow, a true prophecy, when for the last time I say goodbye, soaring to the heavens that I longed to see, leaving my shadow here in the sky.

by Anna Akhmatova | |

White Night

 There will be thunder then.
Remember me.
Say ‘ She asked for storms.
’ The entire world will turn the colour of crimson stone, and your heart, as then, will turn to fire.
That day, in Moscow, a true prophecy, when for the last time I say goodbye, soaring to the heavens that I longed to see, leaving mI haven't locked the door, Nor lit the candles, You don't know, don't care, That tired I haven't the strength To decide to go to bed.
Seeing the fields fade in The sunset murk of pine-needles, And to know all is lost, That life is a cursed hell: I've got drunk On your voice in the doorway.
I was sure you'd come back.

by Anna Akhmatova | |

White Flock

Copyright Anna Akhmatova
Copyright English translation by Ilya Shambat (ilya_shambat@yahoo.
com) Origin: http://www.
html  * I *  We thought we were beggars, we thought we had nothing at all But then when we started to lose one thing after another, Each day became A memorial day -- And then we made songs Of great divine generosity And of our former riches.
Unification I'll leave your quiet yard and your white house - Let life be empty and with light complete.
I'll sing the glory to you in my verse Like not one woman has sung glory yet.
And that dear girlfriend you remember In heaven you created for her sight, I'm trading product that is very rare - I sell your tenderness and loving light.
Song about Song So many stones have been thrown at me That I don't fear them any longer Like elegant tower the westerner stands free Among tall towers, the taller.
I'm grateful to their builders -- so be gone Their sadness and their worry, go away, Early from here I can see the dawn And here triumphant lives the sun's last ray.
And frequently into my room's window The winds from northern seas begin to blow And pigeon from my palms eats wheat.
The pages that I did not complete Divinely light she is and calm, Will finish Muse's suntanned arm.
x x x Just like a cold noreaster At first she'll sting, And then a single salty tear The heart will wring.
The evil heart will pity Something and then regret.
But this light-headed sadness It will not forget.
I only sow.
To harvest.
Others will come.
And yes! The lovely group of harvesters May true God bless.
And that more perfectly I could Give to you gratitude, Allow me to give the world Love incorruptible.
x x x My voice is weak, but will does not get weaker.
It has become still better without love, The sky is tall, the mountain wind is blowing My thoughts are sinless to true God above.
The sleeplessness has gone to other places, I do not on grey ashes count my sorrow, And the skewed arrow of the clock face Does not look to me like a deadly arrow.
How past over the heart is losing power! Freedom is near.
I will forgive all yet, Watching, as ray of sun runs up and down The springtime vine that with spring rain is wet.
x x x He was jealous, fearful and tender, He loved me like God's only light, And that she not sing of the past times He killed my bird colored white.
He said, in the lighthouse at sundown: "Love me, laugh and write poetry!" And I buried the joyous songbird Behind a round well near a tree.
I promised that I would not mourn her.
But my heart turned to stone without choice, And it seems to me that everywhere And always I'll hear her sweet voice.
x x x True love's memory, You are heavy! In your smoke I sing and burn, And the rest -- is only fire To keep the chilled soul warm.
To keep warm the sated body, They need my tears for this Did I for this sing your song, God? Did I take part of love for this? Let me drink of such a poison, That I would be deaf and dumb, And my unglorious glory Wash away to the final crumb.
x x x The blue lacquer dims of heaven, And the song is better heard.
It's the little trumpet made of dirt, There's no reason for her to complain.
Why does she forgive me, And whoever told her of my sins? Or is that this voice that now repeats The last poems that you wrote for me? x x x Instead of wisdom -- experience, bare, That does not slake thirst, is not wet.
Youth's gone -- like a Sunday prayer.
Is it mine to forget? On how many desert roads have searched I With him who wasn't dear for me, How many bows gave in church I For him, who had well loved me.
I've become more oblivious than inviting, Quietly years swim.
Lips unkissed, eyes unsmiling -- Nothing will give me back him.
x x x Ah! It is you again.
You enter in this house Not as a kid in love, but as a husband Courageous, harsh and in control.
The calm before the storm is fearful to my soul.
You ask me what it is that I have done of late With given unto me forever love and fate.
I have betrayed you.
And this to repeat -- Oh, if you could one moment tire of it! The killer's sleep is haunted, dead man said, Death's angel thus awaits me at deathbed.
Forgive me now.
Lord teaches to forgive.
In burning agony my flesh does live, And already the spirit gently sleeps, A garden I recall, tender with autumn leaves And cries of cranes, and the black fields around.
How sweet it would be with you underground! x x x The muse has left along narrow And winding street, And with large drops of dew Were sprinkled her feet.
For long did I ask of her To wait for winter with me, But she said, "The grave is here, How can you breathe, you see?" I wanted to give her a dove That is whiter than all the rest But the bird herself flew above After my graceful guest.
Looking at her I was silent, I loved her alone And like gates into her country In the sky stood the dawn.
x x x I have ceased and desisted from smiling The frosty wind chills lips - say so long To one hope of which will be lesser, Instead there will be one more song.
And this song, without my volition, I will give out for laughter and parable, For this that the silence of love Is to me simply unbearable.
x x x They're on the way, the words of love and freedom, They're flying faster than the moment flies And I am in stage fright before singing - My lips have grown colder than ice.
But soon that place, where, leaning to the windows The tender birches make dry rustling sound, The voices will be ringing of the shadows And roses will in blackened wreaths be wound.
And further onward still -- the light is generous Unbearably as though ¡®t were red hot wine.
And now the wind, all redolent and heated, In perfect vigor has enflamed my mind.
x x x Oh, this was a cold day In Peter's wonderful town! The shadow grew dense, and the sundown Like purple fire lay.
Let him not want my eyes fair Prophetic and never-changing All life long verse he'll be catching - My conceited lips' empty prayer.
x x x This way I prayed: "Slake the dumb thirst Of singing with a sweet libation!" But to the earthling of the earth There can be no liberation.
Like smoke from sacrifice, that it could not Fly Strength- and Glory-ward -- alas - But only clouded at the feet And, as if praying, kissed the grass.
Thus I, O Lord, before thee bow: Will reach the fire of the sky My lashes that are closed for now And muteness utter and divine? x x x In intimacy there exists a line That can't be crossed by passion or love's art -- In awful silence lips melt into one And out of love to pieces bursts the heart.
And friendship here is impotent, and years Of happiness sublime in fire aglow, When soul is free and does not hear The dulling of sweet passion, long and slow.
Those who are striving toward it are in fever, But those that reach it struck with woe that lingers.
Now you have understood, why forever My heart does not beat underneath your fingers.
x x x All has been taken: strength as well as love.
Into the unloved town the corpse is thrown.
It does not love the sun.
I fear, that blood Inside of me already cold has grown.
I do not recognize sweet Muse's loving taste: She looks ahead and does not let a word pass, And bows a head in the dark garland dressed Onto my chest, exhausted from the haste.
And only conscience, scarier with each day, Wants a great ransom and for this abuses.
Closing the face, I answer her this way.
But there remain no tears and no excuses.
x x x To lose the freshness of the words and sense, for us, Is it same as for an artist to lose vision, Or for an actor -- voice and motion, Or for a gorgeous woman -- her finesse? But do not seek now for yourself to keep What heaven has given to you below: We have been judged -- and we ourselves both know -- To give away, and not to keep.
Or else alone you go to heal the blind, To know yourself in heavy hour of doubt The students' smug shaudenfreude And the uncaring of mankind.
Answer The quiet April day has sent me What a strange missive.
You knew that passionately in me The scary week is still alive.
I did not hear those ringing bells That swam along in glazier clear.
For seven days sounded copper laugh Or poured from eyes a silver tear.
And I, then having closed my face As for eternal parting's moment, Lay down and waited for her grace That was not known yet as torment.
x x x This city by the fearsome river Was my crib blessed and dear And a solemn wedding bed Which the garlands for the head Your young cherubs held above - A city loved with bitter love.
The subject of my prayers Were you, moody, calm, and austere.
There first the groom came to me Having shown me the pathway holy, And that sad muse of mine Led me like one blind.
 * II *  December 9, 1913 The darkest days of the year Must become the most clear.
I can't find words to compare - Your lips are so tender and dear.
Only to raise your eyes do not dare, Keeping the life of me.
They're lighter than vials premier, And deadlier for me.
I understand now, that we need no words, The snowed branches are light, and more, The birdcatcher, to catch birds, Has laid nets on the rivershore.
x x x How can you look at Nieva, How can on the bridges you rise? With a reason I'm sad since the time You appeared before my eyes.
Sharp are black angels' wings, The last judgment is coming soon, And raspberry fires, like roses, In the white snow bloom.
x x x I do not count mortal days Under the roof of a chilled empty building, I'm reading the Apostles' words, Words of Psalm-singer I am reading.
Sleet is fluffy, and stars turn blue, And more marvelous is each meeting -- And in the Bible a leaf On Song of Songs is sitting.
x x x All year long you are close to me And, like formerly, happy and young! Aren't you tortured already By the traumatized strings' dark song? Those now only lightly moan That once, taut, loudly rang And aimlessly they are torn By my dry, waxen hand.
Little is necessary to make happy One who is tender and loving yet, The young forehead is not touched yet By jealousy, rage or regret.
He is quiet, does not ask to be tender, Only stares and stares at me And with blissful smile does he bear My oblivion's dreadful insanity.
x x x Black road wove ahead of me, Drizzling rain fell, To accompany me Someone asked for a spell.
I agreed, but I forgot To see him in light of day, And then it was strange To remember the way.
Like incense of thousand censers Flowed the fog And the companion bothered The heart with a song.
Ancient gates I remember And the end of the way -- There the man who went with me "Forgive," did say.
He gave me a copper cross Like my brother very own And everywhere I hear the sound Of the steppe song.
Here I am at home like home -- I cry and I am in rue Answer to me, my stranger, I am looking for you! x x x How I love, how I loved to stare At the ironclad shores, On the balcony, where forever No foot stepped, not mine, not yours.
And in truth you are -- a capital For the mad and luminous us; But when over Nieva sail Those special, pure hours And the winds of May fly over You past the iron beams You are like a dying sinner Seeing heavenly dreams x x x Ancient city is as if dead, Strange's my coming here.
Vladimir has raised a black cross Over the river.
Noisy elm trees, noisy lindens In the gardens dark, Raised to God, the needle-bearing Stars' bright diamond sparks.
Sacrificial and glorious Way, I am ending here, With me is but you, my equal, And my love so dear.
x x x It seems as though the voice of man Will never sound in this place, But only wind from age of stone Is knocking on black gates.
It seems to me that I alone Have kept good health under this sky, Because of this, that first I sought To drink the deadly wine.
Parting Evening and slanting, Downward goes my way.
Yesterday in love still, "Don't forget" you prayed.
Now there's only shepherds' Cry, and glancing winds, And the worried cedars Stand by clear springs.
x x x Yellow and fresh are the lanterns, Black is the road of the garden at sea.
I am very calm.
Only please, do not Talk about him with me.
You're tender and loyal, we'll be friends.
Have fun, kiss, together grow old.
And light months above us will fly like feathers, Like stars made of snow and as cold.
x x x We aren't in the forest, there is no need for calling -- You know your jokes do not shine.
Why don't you come to lull into quiet This wounded conscience of mine? You possess other worries You have another wife And, looking into my dry eyes, St.
Petersburg spring has arrived.
With harsh cough and with evening fever She will punish and she will kill.
Under the smoke on the river Nieva's ice is no longer still.
x x x God is unkind to gardeners and reapers.
Slanted rain coils and falls from up high And the wide raincoats catch water, That once had reflected the sky.
In underwater realm are fields and meadows And the free currents sing a lot, Plums rupture on bloated branches And grass strands, lying down, rot.
And through the dense and watery net I see your darling face, A quiet park, a round porch And a Chinese arbour-place.
x x x All promised him to me: The heaven's edge, dark and kind, And lovely Christmas sleep And multi-ringing Easter wind, And the red branches of a twig, And waterfalls inside a park, And two dragonflies On rusty iron of a bulwark.
And I could not disbelieve, That he'll befriend me all alone When on the mountain slopes I went Along hot pathway made of stone.
x x x Every evening I receive A letter like a bride To my friend I give Response late at night.
"I'll be guest of the white death On my journey down.
You, my tender one, don't do Harm to anyone.
" And there stands a giant star Between two wood beams, With such calmness promising To fulfil your dreams.
x x x Divine angel, who betrothed us Secretly on winter morn, From our sadness-free existence Does not take his darkened eyes.
For this reason we love sky, And fresh wind, and air so thin, And the dark tree branches Behind fence of iron.
For this reason we love the strict, Many-watered, and dark city, And we love the parting, And brief meetings' hour.
x x x Somewhere is light and happy, in elation, Transparent, warm and simple life there is.
A man across the fence has conversation With girl before the evening, and the bees Hear only the tenderest of conversation.
And we are living pompously and hard And follow bitter rituals like sun When, flight past us, the unreasoned wind Interrupts speech that's barely begun.
But not for anything will we change the pompous Granite city of glory, pain and lies, The glistening wide rivers' ice Sunless and murky gardens, and the voice, Though barely audible, of the Muse.
x x x I remember you only rarely And your fate I do not view But the mark won't be stripped from my soul Of the meaningless meeting with you.
Your red house I avoid on purpose, Your red house murky river beside, But I know, that I am disturbing Gravely your heart-pierced respite.
Would it weren't you that, on to my lips pressing, Prayed of love, and for love did wish, Would it weren't you that with golden verses Immortalized my anguish Over future I do secret magic If the evening is truly blue, And I divine a second meeting, Unavoidable meeting with you.
x x x How spacious are these squares, How resonant bridges and stark! Heavy, peaceful, and starless Is the covering of the dark.
And we walk on the fresh snow As if we were mortal people.
That we are together this hour Unseparable -- is it not a miracle? The knees go unwittingly weaker It seems there's no air -- so long! You are my life's only blessing, You are the sun of my song.
Now the dark buildings are stirring And I'll fall on earth as they shake -- Inside of my village garden I do not fear to awake.
Escape "My dear, if we could only Reach all the way to the seas" "Be quiet" and descended the stairs Losing breath and looking for keys.
Past the buildings, where sometime We danced and had fun and drank wine Past the white columns of Senate Where it's dark, dark again.
"What are you doing, you madman!" "No, I am only in love with thee! This evening is wide and noisy, Ship will have lots of fun at the sea!" Horror tightly clutches the throat, Shuttle took us at dusk on our turn.
The tough smell of ocean tightrope Inside trembling nostrils did burn.
"Say, you most probably know: I don't sleep? Thus in sleep it can be" Only oars splashed in measured manner Over Nieva's waves heavy.
And the black sky began to get lighter, Someone called from the bridge to us, As with both hands I was clutching On my chest the rim of the cross.
On your arms, as I lost all my power, Like a little girl you carried me, That on deck of a yacht alabaster Incorruptible day's light we'd meet.
x x x When with a strong but tired hand In dreary capital of nation Upon the whiteness of the page I did record my recantations, And wind into the window round Poured in a wet and silent stream The sky was burning, burning bright With smoky dawn, it so did seem.
I did not look at the Nieva, The dawn-drenched granite did not view, And it appeared that that I, awake, my Unforgettable, saw you.
But then the unexpected night Covered the before-autumn town, That, so as to assist my flight, The ashen shadows melted down.
I only took with me the cross, That you had given on day of treason That wormwood steppe should be in bloom And winds, like sirens, sing in season.
And here upon an empty wall He keeps me from the broodings dour And I don't fear to recall Anything - even the final hour.
Village of the Tsar Statue Upon the swan pond maple leaves Are gathered already, you see, And bloodied are the branches dark Of slowly blooming quicken-tree.
Blindingly elegant is she, Crossing her legs that don't feel cold Upon the northern stone sits she And calmly looks upon the road.
I felt the gloomy, dusky fear Before this woman of delight As on her shoulders played alone The rays of miserable light.
And how could I forgive her yet Your shining praise by love deluded Look, she is happily in sorrow, And in such elegance denuded.
x x x In the sleep to me is given Our last eden of stars up high City of clean water towers, Golden Bakchisarai There behind a colored fencing By the pensive water stalled Village of the Tsar's gardens With rejoicing we recalled.
And the eagles of Catherine Suddenly recognized - it's that! He had flown to valley bottom From the ornate bronze-clad gate.
That the song of parting heartache In the memory longer lives, The dark-bodied mother autumn Brought to me the redding leaves And she sprinkled on her soles Where we parted in the sun And from where for land of shadows You had left, my soothing one.
x x x I have visions of hilly Pavlovsk, Meadow circular, water dead, With most heavy and most shady, All of this I will never forget.
In the cast-iron gates you will enter, Blissful tremor the flesh does rile, You don't live, but you're screaming and ranting Or you live in another style.
In late autumn fresh and biting Wanders wind, for its loneliness glad.
In white gowns dressed the black fir trees On the molten snow stand.
And, filled up with a burning fever, Dear voice sounds like song without word, And on copper shoulder of Cytharus Sits the red-chested bird.
x x x Immortelle's dry and pink.
On the fresh heaven The clouds are roughly pasted, almost dark.
The leaves of only oak within the park Are still colorless and thin.
The rays of dusk are burning until midnight.
How nice it is inside my cramped abode! Today with me converse many-a-bird About the most tender, in delight.
I'm happy.
But the way, Forest and smooth, is to me most dear, The crippled bridge, curved a bit here, And that remain only several days.
x x x She came up.
I did not show my worry, Calmly looking outside the windows.
She sat down, like ceramic idol In a long-ago-chosen pose.
To be happy -- is well-accustomed, But attentive -- is harder just might.
Or the dark shadow has been overpowered After many a jasmine March night? Tiring din of the conversations, Yellow chandelier's lifeless light And the glimmer of crafty gadgets Underneath the arm raised and light.
My companion looks at her with hope And to her flashes a smile.
O my happy and wealthy heir, Read from my will.
 * III *  May Snow Upon fresh ground falls and melts At once unnoticed a thin film.
The harsh and chilly spring The ripened buds does kill.
Sight of early death is so horrid That I can't look at God's creation, and am riven With sadness, to which king David Millenia of life has given.
x x x Why do you pretend to be A wind, a bird, or a stone? Why do you smile at me From the sky with a sudden dawn? Do not torment me, do not touch! Leave me to wise cares, away! The inebriated flame sways Over dried-up marshes gray.
And Muse in a torn kerchief Sings disconsolate and at length.
In harsh and youthful anguish Is her miraculous strength.
x x x Transparent glass of empty sky The bleached-out bulky prison building And churchgoers' solemn singing Over Volkhov, growing blue with light.
September wind tore leaves birch off Through branches tossed and screamed with hate And city recollects its fate: Here ruled Martha and Arackcheyev.
July 1914 I Smells like burning.
For four weeks now The dry ground on the swamplands bakes.
Today even birds did not sing songs And the aspen-tree does not shake.
Sun has stopped in divine displeasure Easter rain did not pelt fields hard.
A one-legged passerby came here And alone said in the yard: "Awful times near.
For freshly dug graves There will be not be enough place soon.
Expect pest, expect plague, expect coward, And eclipses of Sun and Moon.
But the enemy won't get to divide Our lands for his fun: Holy Mary will spread on her own Over great sorrows a white gown" II From the burning forests is flying Sweet smell of the evergreens.
Over children soldiers' wives are moaning Cry of widows through village rings.
Not in vain were the prayers rendered, The earth was thirsty for rain: The stomped-over fields with red dampness Were covered and covered remain.
Low, low is the empty heaven, And quiet is the praying one's voice: "They will wound your most holy body And cast dice about your acts of choice.
" x x x That voice, with great quietude arguing, Had a victory over her.
In me still, like song or woe, Is last winter before the war.
She was whiter than Smolny Cathedral More mysterious than summer garden festooned We didn't know that in parting sadness We'd be looking back soon.
x x x To say goodbye we don't know - It's already nearing night, We are walking shoulder to shoulder, You are pensive and I am quiet We'll walk into church, we'll witness The singing, the wedding, the cross, Not seeing each other, we'll exit.
Why are things not working for us? Or we'll sit on the pressed-down snow In a cemetery, lightly sigh, And you with your stick paint the palace Where together we'll be for all time.
Consolation You won't hear about him any longer, You won't hear about him in the wind, In the mournful fire-consumed Poland His grave you will not find.
May your spirit be still an peaceful, There will be no losses now: He is new warrior of God's army, Do not be about him in sorrow.
In the dear, beloved home It's sinful to cry and feel blue.
Think, now you can make prayer To the man who stood up for you.
x x x Did for this, and for this only, In my arms I carry you, Did for this the strength flash In your gorgeous eyes of blue? Tall and elegant you have grown, You sang songs, Madeira drank, To the far-off Anatolia You have driven your mine tank.
On the Malahov's kurgan They shot an officer with a gun.
Less than a week for 20 years He saw God's light with eyes so dear.
Prayer Give me bitter years in malady Breathlessness, sleeplessness, fever, Both a friend and a child and mysterious Gift take away forever -- Thus I pray after your liturgy After many exhausting days, That the cloud over dark Russia Become cloud in the glory of rays.
x x x "Where is your gypsy boy, tall one, That over black kerchief did weep, Where is your small first child What memory of him do you keep?" "Mother's role is a sweet torture, I was not worthy of it.
The gate dissolved into white heaven, Magdalene took the kid.
"Each day for me is happy and jolly, I got lost in a too-long spring, Only arms pine away for a burden Only his cries in my sleep ring.
"The heart will be restless and weary And no memory cross my mind, I still wander in rooms dark and bleary And his crib still attempt to find.
" x x x How often did I curse This sky, this earth as well, The slowly waving arms Of this ancient windmill.
In a wing there lies a dead man, Straight and grayhaired, on a bench, As he did three years ago.
Thus the mice whet with their teeth Books, thus the stearine candle Leans its flame to the left.
And the odious tambourine From the Nizhny Novgorod Sings an uningenious song Of my bitter happiness.
And the brightly painted Dahlias stood straight Along silver road.
Where are snails and wormwood.
Thus it was: Incarceration Became second country, And the first I cannot dare Recollect even in prayer.
x x x In boat or in horsecart This way you cannot go Deep water stands and lingers In the decrepit snow Surrounding the mansion From every side by now.
Ah! Closely wails it over The same Robinson Crusoe.
The sled, the skies, the horse He will come by to see, And later on the couch He sits and waits for me And with a short spore He tears the rug in two.
Now the brief smile of mine The mirror will not view.
x x x Bow of moon I see, I see Through dense canopy of groves, Level sound I hear, I hear Of the free horse's hooves.
What? And you don't want to sleep, In a year could you forget Me, nor are you used to find Empty and unmade your bed? Not with you then do I speak Through sharp cries of hunting birds, Not in your eyes do I look From white pages full of words? Why you circle, like a thief At the quiet habitat? Or recall the verdict and Wait for me alive like that? I'm asleep.
In dense dark, moon Threw a blade just like a dart.
There is knocking.
In this way Beats my warm and precious heart.
x x x We noiselessly walked through the house, Not waiting for anything.
They showed me way to the sick man, And I did not recognize him.
He said, "Now let God have the glory" And became more thoughtful and blue.
"It's long time that I hit the road, I've only been waiting for you.
So you bother me in my fever, I keep those words from you.
Tell me: can you not forgive me?" And I said, "I can do.
" It seemed, that the walls were shining From floor to the ceiling that day.
Upon the silken blanket A withered arm lay.
And the thrown-over predatory profile Became horribly heavy and stark, And one could not hear the breathing Through the bitten-up lips turned dark.
But suddenly the last bit of strength Came alive in the eyes of blue: "It is good that you released me, Not always kind were you.
" And then the face became younger, And I recognized him once more.
And then I said, "Holy Father, Accept a slave of yours.
" x x x I came over to the pine forest.
It is hot, and the road is not short.
He pushed back the door and came out Greyhaired, luminous, short.
He looked at me, insolent bastard, And muttered at once, "Christ's bride! Do not envy success of the happy, A place for you there does hide.
Do forget your parents' abode, Get accustomed to open heaven You will sleep on the straw and dirty, And will meet a blissful end.
" Truly, the priest must have heard On the way back my singing voice As I of untold happiness Marveled and rejoiced.
x x x The other cranes shout "Cour-lee" Calling a wounded one When autumn fields around Are fallow and warm.
And I, being sick, hear calling, The noise of golden wings From dense and low clouds And thick underbrush.
"It's time to fly, it's time to fly, Over the field and river.
For you already cannot sing And wipe a tear from a cheek With a weakened arm.
" x x x I will quietly in the churchyard Sleep on wooden boards in the sun, On the Sunday as guest to mother You will come, my dear one -- Through the river over the mountain Can't catch up to grown ones From afar, the sharp-eyed fellow, This my cross you'll recognize.
I know, dear one, very little Can you now recall of me: Did not scold you, did not fawn you, Did not hold the cup to thee.
x x x With pride your spirit is darkened For this you won't know world at all.
You say that this faith is a dream And mirage is this capital.
You say that my country is sinful, Your country is godless, I scream.
May the guilt still lie upon us -- We can correct and redeem.
Around you are water and flowers Why seek a beggar and sinner, my dear? I know that you're sick very badly: You seek death and the end you fear.
x x x The early chills are most pleasant to me.
Torment releases me when I come there.
Mysterious, dark places of habitation -- Are storehouses of labor and prayer.
The calm and confident loving I can't surmount in this side of mine: A drop of Novgorod blood inside me Is like a piece of ice in foamy wine.
And this can not in any way be corrected, She has not been melted by great heat, And what ever I began to glory -- You, quiet one, shine before me yet.
x x x I dream less of him, dear God be gloried, Does not shimmer everywhere any more.
Fog has fallen on the whitened road, Shadows run over water to the shore.
And all day the ringing did not quiet Over the expanse of ploughed up soil, Here most powerfully from Jonah Distant Laurel belltowers do recoil.
I am trimming on the lilac bushes Branches, that are now in full flower; Ramparts of the ancient fortifying Two old monks are slowly walking over.
Dear world, understood and corporeal, For me, one unseeing, set alive.
Heal this soul of mine, the King of Heaven, With the icy comfort of not love.
x x x We'll be with each other, dear, All now know we are together, And the wily laughs and putdowns Like a distant tambourine Can't insult us any longer And can't give us injury.
Where we married -- we don't know, But this church at once did glimmer With that furious beaming light That only the angels know How to bring upon white wings.
And the time is now such, Fearful city, fearful year.
How can now be parted Me from you and you from me? In Memory of June 19, 1914 We have grown old by hundred years, and this Happened to us in one hour then: The brief summer was already ending, Steamed the body of ploughed-up plain.
Suddenly glistened the quiet road, Cry flew, ringing silverly.
Closing my face, I was praying to God Before first battle to murder me.
From mind the shades of songs and passions Disappeared like load from misuse.
To her -- descended -- the Almighty ordered To be the fearful book of menacing news.
 * IV *  x x x Before the spring arrives there are such days: Under the thick snow cover rests the lawn, The dry-and-jolly trees are making noise, Tender and strong, the wind is warm.
And body is amazed at its own lightness, And your own home is alien to you, And song that had just previously been tiring With worry you are singing just like new.
x x x The fifth time of the year, Only the praise of his.
Breathe with the final freedom, Because love is this.
The sky has flown up high, The objects' contours are light, And the body does not celebrate any longer The anniversary of its plight.
x x x I myself have freely chosen Fate of the friend of my heart: To the freedom under gospel I allowed him to depart.
And the pigeon came back, beating On the window with all might Like from shine of divine restments, In the room it became light.
Sleep I know that you dreamed of me, That's why I could not sleep.
The muddy light had turned blue And showed me the path to keep.
You saw the queen's garden, White palace, luxurious one, And the black patterned fence Before resounding stone perron.
You went, not knowing the way, And thinking, "Faster, faster! If only to find her now, Not wake before meeting her.
" And the janitor at the red gate Shouted at you, "Where to, alack!" The ice crackled and broke, Underfoot, water went black.
"This is the lake, and inside There's an island," thus thought you.
And then suddenly from the dark Appeared a fire hot-blue.
Awakening, you did moan In harsh light of a nasty day, And then at once you called For me loudly by my name.
White House Sun is frosty.
In parade Soldiers march with all their might.
I am glad at the January noon, And my fear is very light.
Here they remember each branch And every silhouette.
The raspberry light is dripping Through a snow-whitened net.
Almost white was the house, Made of glass was the wing.
How many times with numb arm Did I hold the doorbell's ring.
How many times.
play, soldiers, I'll make my house, I'll espy You from a roof that's inclined, From the ivy that does not die.
But who at last did remove it, Took away into foreign lands Or took out from the memory Forever the road thence.
Snow flies, like a cherry blossom, Distant bagpipes desist.
And, it seems like, nobody knows That the white house does not exist.
x x x He walked over fields and over village, And asked people from afar: "Where is she, where is the happy glimmer Of her eyes that are gray stars? Here the final days of spring Come along, in turbid fire.
Still more frequent, still more tender Are the dreams I have of her.
" And he came in the dark city In the quiet evening time He was thinking then of Venice And of London all the same.
At the church both tall and dark Stepped on shining stairs' granite And he prayed then of the coming Meeting with his first delight.
And above the altar made of gold Flamed away the garden of God's rays: "Here she is, here is the happy glimmer Of gray joyous stars that are her eyes.
" x x x Wide and yellow's evening light, Tender is the April chill, You are late by many years But I am glad of you still.
Come and sit right next to me, With the happy eyes come look: Here, my childhood poetry Is in this blue notebook.
That I lived sorrowful and little Was I glad of the sun, forgive.
And forgive, that in your stead I Many others did receive.
x x x Whether to look for you on earth -- I don't know if you're dead or you live -- Or about you in the evening I should for you, departed, grieve.
All is for you: and the daily prayer And the sleeplessness' swooning flame And the white flock of my poems And my eyes' blue violent flame.
No one was dearer to me, no one, No one left me this bereft, Not even he who betrayed me to torment, Not even he who caressed, then left.
x x x No, my prince, I am not the one On whom you'd rather lay your eyes, And for long these lips of mine Do not kiss, but prophesize.
Do not think I'm in delirium Or with boredom I do whine Loudly I speak of pain: It's the very trade of mine.
And I know how to teach, That the unexpected happened, How to tame for centuries Her, whose love is so rapid.
You want glory? Ask from me For advice for this your plight, Only it is but a trap, There's no joy here and no light.
Well, go home, and forget This our meeting, I implore, And for your sin, my dear one, I'll respond before the Lord.
x x x From memory of you I will remove that day, So that your helpless-foggy look will ask this: Where did I see the Persian lilac bush, The swallows and the wooden house? Oh, how often will you recollect The sudden angst of the uncalled desires And in the pensive cities you did seek That street which was not on the map entire! Upon the sound of voice behind an open door, Upon the sight of every accidental letter, You will remember: "Here has she herself Come to assist my disbelief unfettered.
" x x x Did not scold me, did not praise me, Like friends and like enemies.
Only left his soul to me And then said, "Now keep in peace.
" And one thing worries me so: If this moment he will die, God's archangel will come to me For his soul from the sky.
How then will I hide her so, How to hide it from God's eyes? She, the soul, that cries and sings so Must be in His paradise.
x x x My shadow has remained there and is angstful, In that blue room she still to this day lives, She waits for guests from city beyond midnight And to enamel image gives a kiss.
And things are not quite well around the house: It still is dark, although they lit the flame.
Not from all this the hostess is in boredom, Not from all this the host drinks all the same And hears how on the other side of the thin wall The guest arrived talks to me at all? x x x I see capital through the flurry On this Monday night twenty-first.
Some do-nothing has made up the story That love exists on the earth.
And from laziness or from boredom All believed, and thus they live: Wait for meeting, fear the parting, And sing songs of love.
But to others opens a secret And upon them descends a still.
I by accident came upon this And since then am as if I'm ill.
x x x On the blooming lilac bushes Sky is sowing the light rain.
Beats with wings upon the window The white, the white Spirits' day.
For a friend to be returning From the sea - especial hour.
I am dreaming of the far shore, Of the stone, sand and tower.
I will enter, meeting light, On the top of one of these towers.
In the land of swamps and fields There are in memory no towers.
Only I will sit on the porch, There, where dense shadows lay.
Help me in my fright, at last, The white, the white Spirits' day.
x x x I know, that you are my reward For years of labor and of pain, For that unto the earthly pleasures I never did myself betray, For that I never ever told Unto my loved one, "You are loved.
" For that I did forgive all people You'll be my angel from above.
x x x Yes, I had loved them, those meetings of the nights - Upon small table a glass filled with ice, Above black coffee thick and smelly steam, From the red heater heavy winter heat, The stinging mirth of literary parable And first look of the friend, helpless and terrible.
x x x Not mystery and not sadness, Not the wise will of fate - These meetings have always given Impression of fight and hate.
And I, having guessed your coming's Minute and circumstance, In the bent arms the slightly Tingling feeling did sense.
And with dry fingers I mangled The colorful tablecloth.
I understood even then How small was this earth.
To my dear one Do not send a dove in my direction, Do not write tumultuous notes at all, Do not fan my face with the March breeze.
I have now entered a green heaven, Where there's calm for body and for soul Underneath the shady maple trees.
And from here I can see a town, Booths and barracks of a palace made of stone Chinese yellow bridge over the ice.
For three hours now you wait for me -- you're frozen, But you cannot move from the perron, At the stars you marvel with your eyes.
Like a gray squirrel you'll jump on the alder, Like a frightful swallow I will go, I will then call for you like a swan, So that the bridegroom would not fear In the blue and swirling falling snow To await his deceased bride alone.
x x x Has my fate really been so altered, Or is this game truly truly over? Where are winters, when I fell asleep In the morning in the sixth hour? In a new way, severely and calmly, I now live on the wild shore.
I can no longer pronounce The tender or idle word.
I can't believe that Christmas-tide is coming.
Touchingly green is this the steppe before The beaming sun.
Like a warm Wave, licks the tender shore.
When from happiness languid and tired I was, then of such quiet With trembling inexpressible I dreamed And this in my imagining I deemed The after-mortal wandering of the soul.
x x x Like a white stone at the bottom of the well, One memory lies in me.
I cannot and I do not want to struggle, It is both joy and suffering.
I think that anyone who looks into my Eyes will all at once see him.
More sad and pensive he'll become That heard the story of this suffering.
I know that the gods had turned People to objects, without killing mind, That divine sadness lived eternally.
You're turned into my memory, I find.
x x x The first ray -- as the blessing of the Lord -- Across the face of the beloved did creep, Who, sleeping, went a little pale, And then again more tightly went to sleep.
It seemed that warmth of ray of sun Appeared to him just like a kiss.
And long with these my lips I have not touched The tan strong shoulder or the dear lips.
And now, the deceased spirits in my long Disconsolate wandering along the way, I am now flying toward him as a song And I caress him with a morning ray.
x x x Not thus, from cursed lightness having disembarked, I look with worry on the chambers dark? Already used to ringing high and raw, Already judged not by the earthly law, I, like a criminal, am being drawn along To place of shame and execution long.
I see the glorious city, and the voice most dear, As though there is no secret grave to fear, Where day and night, in heat and in cold bent, I must await the Final Judgment.
x x x I was born not late and not early, This time is blessed and meet, Only God did not allow a heart To live long without deceit.
And from this it is dark in the light room, And from this do the friends I've sought, Like the sorrowful birds of evening, Sing of love that was not.
x x x Best for me loudly the gaming-poems to say, And for you the hoarse harmonica to play! And having left, hugging, for the night of late, Lose a band from a stiff, tight plait.
Best for me your child to rock and sway, And for you to make fifty rubles in a day, And to go on memory day to cemetery There to look upon the white God's lilac tree.
x x x I will lead a man to dear one -- I don't want the little joy -- And I'll quietly lay to sleep The glad, tired little boy.
In a chilly room once more I will pray to Mother of God, It is hard to be a hermit, To be happy is also hard.
Only fiery sleep will come to me, I'll enter a temple on the hill, Five-domed, white, and stone-hewn, On the paths remembered well.
x x x The spring was still mysteriously swooning, Across the hills wandered transparent wind And the deep lake was growing blue among us -- A temple forged and kept not by mankind.
You were affrighted of our first encounter, And prayed already for the second one, And now today once more is the hot evening -- How low over the mountain dropped the sun.
You aren't with me, but this is not a parting: For me triumphant news is in each moment.
I know that you can't even pronounce a word For so complete within you is the torment.
x x x In Kievan temple of the divine wisdom Falling to my knees, I did before thee vow That your way will be my way Wherever it will go.
Thus heard Yaroslav in a white coffin And angels made of gold in his stead.
Like pigeons, weave the simple words And now near the sunny heads.
And if I get weak, I dream of an icon And there are ten steps on it, all are blessed.
In menacing voice of the Sofian ringing I hear the sound of your unrest.
x x x City vanished, the last house's window Stared like one living and stark.
This place is totally unfamiliar, Smells of burning, and field is dark.
But when the curtain of thunder Moon had cut, indecisive and wan, We could see: On the hill, to the forest, Hobbled a handicapped man.
It was frightening, that he's overcoming The three horses, sated and glad, He stood up and then again waddled Under his heavy load.
We had almost failed to notice him Before the nomad-tent taking his place.
Just like stars the blue eyes were shining, Lighting the tormented face.
And I proffered to him the child, Raising arms with the trace of a chain He pronounced with joy and with ringing: "May your son live and healthy remain.
" x x x Oh, there are unrepeated words, Who ever said wasted more than he should.
Inexhaustible only is the blue Of sky and generosity of God.

by Billy Collins | |


 The name of the author is the first to go
followed obediently by the title, the plot,
the heartbreaking conclusion, the entire novel
which suddenly becomes one you have never read,
never even heard of,

as if, one by one, the memories you used to harbor
decided to retire to the southern hemisphere of the brain,
to a little fishing village where there are no phones.
Long ago you kissed the names of the nine Muses goodbye and watched the quadratic equation pack its bag, and even now as you memorize the order of the planets, something else is slipping away, a state flower perhaps, the address of an uncle, the capital of Paraguay.
Whatever it is you are struggling to remember, it is not poised on the tip of your tongue, not even lurking in some obscure corner of your spleen.
It has floated away down a dark mythological river whose name begins with an L as far as you can recall, well on your own way to oblivion where you will join those who have even forgotten how to swim and how to ride a bicycle.
No wonder you rise in the middle of the night to look up the date of a famous battle in a book on war.
No wonder the moon in the window seems to have drifted out of a love poem that you used to know by heart.

by Elizabeth Bishop | |

The Moose

 From narrow provinces
of fish and bread and tea,
home of the long tides
where the bay leaves the sea
twice a day and takes
the herrings long rides,

where if the river
enters or retreats 
in a wall of brown foam
depends on if it meets
the bay coming in,
the bay not at home;

where, silted red,
sometimes the sun sets
facing a red sea,
and others, veins the flats'
lavender, rich mud
in burning rivulets;

on red, gravelly roads,
down rows of sugar maples,
past clapboard farmhouses
and neat, clapboard churches,
bleached, ridged as clamshells,
past twin silver birches,

through late afternoon
a bus journeys west,
the windshield flashing pink,
pink glancing off of metal,
brushing the dented flank
of blue, beat-up enamel;

down hollows, up rises,
and waits, patient, while
a lone traveller gives
kisses and embraces
to seven relatives
and a collie supervises.
Goodbye to the elms, to the farm, to the dog.
The bus starts.
The light grows richer; the fog, shifting, salty, thin, comes closing in.
Its cold, round crystals form and slide and settle in the white hens' feathers, in gray glazed cabbages, on the cabbage roses and lupins like apostles; the sweet peas cling to their wet white string on the whitewashed fences; bumblebees creep inside the foxgloves, and evening commences.
One stop at Bass River.
Then the Economies Lower, Middle, Upper; Five Islands, Five Houses, where a woman shakes a tablecloth out after supper.
A pale flickering.
The Tantramar marshes and the smell of salt hay.
An iron bridge trembles and a loose plank rattles but doesn't give way.
On the left, a red light swims through the dark: a ship's port lantern.
Two rubber boots show, illuminated, solemn.
A dog gives one bark.
A woman climbs in with two market bags, brisk, freckled, elderly.
"A grand night.
Yes, sir, all the way to Boston.
" She regards us amicably.
Moonlight as we enter the New Brunswick woods, hairy, scratchy, splintery; moonlight and mist caught in them like lamb's wool on bushes in a pasture.
The passengers lie back.
Some long sighs.
A dreamy divagation begins in the night, a gentle, auditory, slow hallucination.
In the creakings and noises, an old conversation --not concerning us, but recognizable, somewhere, back in the bus: Grandparents' voices uninterruptedly talking, in Eternity: names being mentioned, things cleared up finally; what he said, what she said, who got pensioned; deaths, deaths and sicknesses; the year he remarried; the year (something) happened.
She died in childbirth.
That was the son lost when the schooner foundered.
He took to drink.
She went to the bad.
When Amos began to pray even in the store and finally the family had to put him away.
"Yes .
" that peculiar affirmative.
"Yes .
" A sharp, indrawn breath, half groan, half acceptance, that means "Life's like that.
We know it (also death).
" Talking the way they talked in the old featherbed, peacefully, on and on, dim lamplight in the hall, down in the kitchen, the dog tucked in her shawl.
Now, it's all right now even to fall asleep just as on all those nights.
--Suddenly the bus driver stops with a jolt, turns off his lights.
A moose has come out of the impenetrable wood and stands there, looms, rather, in the middle of the road.
It approaches; it sniffs at the bus's hot hood.
Towering, antlerless, high as a church, homely as a house (or, safe as houses).
A man's voice assures us "Perfectly harmless.
" Some of the passengers exclaim in whispers, childishly, softly, "Sure are big creatures.
" "It's awful plain.
" "Look! It's a she!" Taking her time, she looks the bus over, grand, otherworldly.
Why, why do we feel (we all feel) this sweet sensation of joy? "Curious creatures," says our quiet driver, rolling his r's.
"Look at that, would you.
" Then he shifts gears.
For a moment longer, by craning backward, the moose can be seen on the moonlit macadam; then there's a dim smell of moose, an acrid smell of gasoline.

by Sylvia Plath | |

Three Women

 A Poem for Three Voices

Setting: A Maternity Ward and round about

I am slow as the world.
I am very patient, Turning through my time, the suns and stars Regarding me with attention.
The moon's concern is more personal: She passes and repasses, luminous as a nurse.
Is she sorry for what will happen? I do not think so.
She is simply astonished at fertility.
When I walk out, I am a great event.
I do not have to think, or even rehearse.
What happens in me will happen without attention.
The pheasant stands on the hill; He is arranging his brown feathers.
I cannot help smiling at what it is I know.
Leaves and petals attend me.
I am ready.
SECOND VOICE: When I first saw it, the small red seep, I did not believe it.
I watched the men walk about me in the office.
They were so flat! There was something about them like cardboard, and now I had caught it, That flat, flat, flatness from which ideas, destructions, Bulldozers, guillotines, white chambers of shrieks proceed, Endlessly proceed--and the cold angels, the abstractions.
I sat at my desk in my stockings, my high heels, And the man I work for laughed: 'Have you seen something awful? You are so white, suddenly.
' And I said nothing.
I saw death in the bare trees, a deprivation.
I could not believe it.
Is it so difficult For the spirit to conceive a face, a mouth? The letters proceed from these black keys, and these black keys proceed From my alphabetical fingers, ordering parts, Parts, bits, cogs, the shining multiples.
I am dying as I sit.
I lose a dimension.
Trains roar in my ears, departures, departures! The silver track of time empties into the distance, The white sky empties of its promise, like a cup.
These are my feet, these mechanical echoes.
Tap, tap, tap, steel pegs.
I am found wanting.
This is a disease I carry home, this is a death.
Again, this is a death.
Is it the air, The particles of destruction I suck up? Am I a pulse That wanes and wanes, facing the cold angel? Is this my lover then? This death, this death? As a child I loved a lichen-bitten name.
Is this the one sin then, this old dead love of death? THIRD VOICE: I remember the minute when I knew for sure.
The willows were chilling, The face in the pool was beautiful, but not mine-- It had a consequential look, like everything else, And all I could see was dangers: doves and words, Stars and showers of gold--conceptions, conceptions! I remember a white, cold wing And the great swan, with its terrible look, Coming at me, like a castle, from the top of the river.
There is a snake in swans.
He glided by; his eye had a black meaning.
I saw the world in it--small, mean and black, Every little word hooked to every little word, and act to act.
A hot blue day had budded into something.
I wasn't ready.
The white clouds rearing Aside were dragging me in four directions.
I wasn't ready.
I had no reverence.
I thought I could deny the consequence-- But it was too late for that.
It was too late, and the face Went on shaping itself with love, as if I was ready.
SECOND VOICE: It is a world of snow now.
I am not at home.
How white these sheets are.
The faces have no features.
They are bald and impossible, like the faces of my children, Those little sick ones that elude my arms.
Other children do not touch me: they are terrible.
They have too many colors, too much life.
They are not quiet, Quiet, like the little emptinesses I carry.
I have had my chances.
I have tried and tried.
I have stitched life into me like a rare organ, And walked carefully, precariously, like something rare.
I have tried not to think too hard.
I have tried to be natural.
I have tried to be blind in love, like other women, Blind in my bed, with my dear blind sweet one, Not looking, through the thick dark, for the face of another.
I did not look.
But still the face was there, The face of the unborn one that loved its perfections, The face of the dead one that could only be perfect In its easy peace, could only keep holy so.
And then there were other faces.
The faces of nations, Governments, parliaments, societies, The faceless faces of important men.
It is these men I mind: They are so jealous of anything that is not flat! They are jealous gods That would have the whole world flat because they are.
I see the Father conversing with the Son.
Such flatness cannot but be holy.
'Let us make a heaven,' they say.
'Let us flatten and launder the grossness from these souls.
' FIRST VOICE: I am calm.
I am calm.
It is the calm before something awful: The yellow minute before the wind walks, when the leaves Turn up their hands, their pallors.
It is so quiet here.
The sheets, the faces, are white and stopped, like clocks.
Voices stand back and flatten.
Their visible hieroglyphs Flatten to parchment screens to keep the wind off.
They paint such secrets in Arabic, Chinese! I am dumb and brown.
I am a seed about to break.
The brownness is my dead self, and it is sullen: It does not wish to be more, or different.
Dusk hoods me in blue now, like a Mary.
O color of distance and forgetfulness!-- When will it be, the second when Time breaks And eternity engulfs it, and I drown utterly? I talk to myself, myself only, set apart-- Swabbed and lurid with disinfectants, sacrificial.
Waiting lies heavy on my lids.
It lies like sleep, Like a big sea.
Far off, far off, I feel the first wave tug Its cargo of agony toward me, inescapable, tidal.
And I, a shell, echoing on this white beach Face the voices that overwhelm, the terrible element.
THIRD VOICE: I am a mountain now, among mountainy women.
The doctors move among us as if our bigness Frightened the mind.
They smile like fools.
They are to blame for what I am, and they know it.
They hug their flatness like a kind of health.
And what if they found themselves surprised, as I did? They would go mad with it.
And what if two lives leaked between my thighs? I have seen the white clean chamber with its instruments.
It is a place of shrieks.
It is not happy.
'This is where you will come when you are ready.
' The night lights are flat red moons.
They are dull with blood.
I am not ready for anything to happen.
I should have murdered this, that murders me.
FIRST VOICE: There is no miracle more cruel than this.
I am dragged by the horses, the iron hooves.
I last.
I last it out.
I accomplish a work.
Dark tunnel, through which hurtle the visitations, The visitations, the manifestations, the startled faces.
I am the center of an atrocity.
What pains, what sorrows must I be mothering? Can such innocence kill and kill? It milks my life.
The trees wither in the street.
The rain is corrosive.
I taste it on my tongue, and the workable horrors, The horrors that stand and idle, the slighted godmothers With their hearts that tick and tick, with their satchels of instruments.
I shall be a wall and a roof, protecting.
I shall be a sky and a hill of good: O let me be! A power is growing on me, an old tenacity.
I am breaking apart like the world.
There is this blackness, This ram of blackness.
I fold my hands on a mountain.
The air is thick.
It is thick with this working.
I am used.
I am drummed into use.
My eyes are squeezed by this blackness.
I see nothing.
SECOND VOICE: I am accused.
I dream of massacres.
I am a garden of black and red agonies.
I drink them, Hating myself, hating and fearing.
And now the world conceives Its end and runs toward it, arms held out in love.
It is a love of death that sickens everything.
A dead sun stains the newsprint.
It is red.
I lose life after life.
The dark earth drinks them.
She is the vampire of us all.
So she supports us, Fattens us, is kind.
Her mouth is red.
I know her.
I know her intimately-- Old winter-face, old barren one, old time bomb.
Men have used her meanly.
She will eat them.
Eat them, eat them, eat them in the end.
The sun is down.
I die.
I make a death.
FIRST VOICE: Who is he, this blue, furious boy, Shiny and strange, as if he had hurtled from a star? He is looking so angrily! He flew into the room, a shriek at his heel.
The blue color pales.
He is human after all.
A red lotus opens in its bowl of blood; They are stitching me up with silk, as if I were a material.
What did my fingers do before they held him? What did my heart do, with its love? I have never seen a thing so clear.
His lids are like the lilac-flower And soft as a moth, his breath.
I shall not let go.
There is no guile or warp in him.
May he keep so.
SECOND VOICE: There is the moon in the high window.
It is over.
How winter fills my soul! And that chalk light Laying its scales on the windows, the windows of empty offices, Empty schoolrooms, empty churches.
O so much emptiness! There is this cessation.
This terrible cessation of everything.
These bodies mounded around me now, these polar sleepers-- What blue, moony ray ices their dreams? I feel it enter me, cold, alien, like an instrument.
And that mad, hard face at the end of it, that O-mouth Open in its gape of perpetual grieving.
It is she that drags the blood-black sea around Month after month, with its voices of failure.
I am helpless as the sea at the end of her string.
I am restless.
Restless and useless.
I, too, create corpses.
I shall move north.
I shall move into a long blackness.
I see myself as a shadow, neither man nor woman, Neither a woman, happy to be like a man, nor a man Blunt and flat enough to feel no lack.
I feel a lack.
I hold my fingers up, ten white pickets.
See, the darkness is leaking from the cracks.
I cannot contain it.
I cannot contain my life.
I shall be a heroine of the peripheral.
I shall not be accused by isolate buttons, Holes in the heels of socks, the white mute faces Of unanswered letters, coffined in a letter case.
I shall not be accused, I shall not be accused.
The clock shall not find me wanting, nor these stars That rivet in place abyss after abyss.
THIRD VOICE: I see her in my sleep, my red, terrible girl.
She is crying through the glass that separates us.
She is crying, and she is furious.
Her cries are hooks that catch and grate like cats.
It is by these hooks she climbs to my notice.
She is crying at the dark, or at the stars That at such a distance from us shine and whirl.
I think her little head is carved in wood, A red, hard wood, eyes shut and mouth wide open.
And from the open mouth issue sharp cries Scratching at my sleep like arrows, Scratching at my sleep, and entering my side.
My daughter has no teeth.
Her mouth is wide.
It utters such dark sounds it cannot be good.
FIRST VOICE: What is it that flings these innocent souls at us? Look, they are so exhausted, they are all flat out In their canvas-sided cots, names tied to their wrists, The little silver trophies they've come so far for.
There are some with thick black hair, there are some bald.
Their skin tints are pink or sallow, brown or red; They are beginning to remember their differences.
I think they are made of water; they have no expression.
Their features are sleeping, like light on quiet water.
They are the real monks and nuns in their identical garments.
I see them showering like stars on to the world-- On India, Africa, America, these miraculous ones, These pure, small images.
They smell of milk.
Their footsoles are untouched.
They are walkers of air.
Can nothingness be so prodigal? Here is my son.
His wide eye is that general, flat blue.
He is turning to me like a little, blind, bright plant.
One cry.
It is the hook I hang on.
And I am a river of milk.
I am a warm hill.
SECOND VOICE: I am not ugly.
I am even beautiful.
The mirror gives back a woman without deformity.
The nurses give back my clothes, and an identity.
It is usual, they say, for such a thing to happen.
It is usual in my life, and the lives of others.
I am one in five, something like that.
I am not hopeless.
I am beautiful as a statistic.
Here is my lipstick.
I draw on the old mouth.
The red mouth I put by with my identity A day ago, two days, three days ago.
It was a Friday.
I do not even need a holiday; I can go to work today.
I can love my husband, who will understand.
Who will love me through the blur of my deformity As if I had lost an eye, a leg, a tongue.
And so I stand, a little sightless.
So I walk Away on wheels, instead of legs, they serve as well.
And learn to speak with fingers, not a tongue.
The body is resourceful.
The body of a starfish can grow back its arms And newts are prodigal in legs.
And may I be As prodigal in what lacks me.
THIRD VOICE: She is a small island, asleep and peaceful, And I am a white ship hooting: Goodbye, goodbye.
The day is blazing.
It is very mournful.
The flowers in this room are red and tropical.
They have lived behind glass all their lives, they have been cared for tenderly.
Now they face a winter of white sheets, white faces.
There is very little to go into my suitcase.
There are the clothes of a fat woman I do not know.
There is my comb and brush.
There is an emptiness.
I am so vulnerable suddenly.
I am a wound walking out of hospital.
I am a wound that they are letting go.
I leave my health behind.
I leave someone Who would adhere to me: I undo her fingers like bandages: I go.
SECOND VOICE: I am myself again.
There are no loose ends.
I am bled white as wax, I have no attachments.
I am flat and virginal, which means nothing has happened, Nothing that cannot be erased, ripped up and scrapped, begun again.
There little black twigs do not think to bud, Nor do these dry, dry gutters dream of rain.
This woman who meets me in windows--she is neat.
So neat she is transparent, like a spirit.
how shyly she superimposes her neat self On the inferno of African oranges, the heel-hung pigs.
She is deferring to reality.
It is I.
It is I-- Tasting the bitterness between my teeth.
The incalculable malice of the everyday.
FIRST VOICE: How long can I be a wall, keeping the wind off? How long can I be Gentling the sun with the shade of my hand, Intercepting the blue bolts of a cold moon? The voices of loneliness, the voices of sorrow Lap at my back ineluctably.
How shall it soften them, this little lullaby? How long can I be a wall around my green property? How long can my hands Be a bandage to his hurt, and my words Bright birds in the sky, consoling, consoling? It is a terrible thing To be so open: it is as if my heart Put on a face and walked into the world.
THIRD VOICE: Today the colleges are drunk with spring.
My black gown is a little funeral: It shows I am serious.
The books I carry wedge into my side.
I had an old wound once, but it is healing.
I had a dream of an island, red with cries.
It was a dream, and did not mean a thing.
FIRST VOICE: Dawn flowers in the great elm outside the house.
The swifts are back.
They are shrieking like paper rockets.
I hear the sound of the hours Widen and die in the hedgerows.
I hear the moo of cows.
The colors replenish themselves, and the wet Thatch smokes in the sun.
The narcissi open white faces in the orchard.
I am reassured.
I am reassured.
These are the clear bright colors of the nursery, The talking ducks, the happy lambs.
I am simple again.
I believe in miracles.
I do not believe in those terrible children Who injure my sleep with their white eyes, their fingerless hands.
They are not mine.
They do not belong to me.
I shall meditate upon normality.
I shall meditate upon my little son.
He does not walk.
He does not speak a word.
He is still swaddled in white bands.
But he is pink and perfect.
He smiles so frequently.
I have papered his room with big roses, I have painted little hearts on everything.
I do not will him to be exceptional.
It is the exception that interests the devil.
It is the exception that climbs the sorrowful hill Or sits in the desert and hurts his mother's heart.
I will him to be common, To love me as I love him, And to marry what he wants and where he will.
THIRD VOICE: Hot noon in the meadows.
The buttercups Swelter and melt, and the lovers Pass by, pass by.
They are black and flat as shadows.
It is so beautiful to have no attachments! I am solitary as grass.
What is it I miss? Shall I ever find it, whatever it is? The swans are gone.
Still the river Remembers how white they were.
It strives after them with its lights.
It finds their shapes in a cloud.
What is that bird that cries With such sorrow in its voice? I am young as ever, it says.
What is it I miss? SECOND VOICE: I am at home in the lamplight.
The evenings are lengthening.
I am mending a silk slip: my husband is reading.
How beautifully the light includes these things.
There is a kind of smoke in the spring air, A smoke that takes the parks, the little statues With pinkness, as if a tenderness awoke, A tenderness that did not tire, something healing.
I wait and ache.
I think I have been healing.
There is a great deal else to do.
My hands Can stitch lace neatly on to this material.
My husband Can turn and turn the pages of a book.
And so we are at home together, after hours.
It is only time that weighs upon our hands.
It is only time, and that is not material.
The streets may turn to paper suddenly, but I recover From the long fall, and find myself in bed, Safe on the mattress, hands braced, as for a fall.
I find myself again.
I am no shadow Though there is a shadow starting from my feet.
I am a wife.
The city waits and aches.
The little grasses Crack through stone, and they are green with life.

by Shel Silverstein | |

A Boy Named Sue

 Well, my daddy left home when I was three,
and he didn't leave much to Ma and me,
just this old guitar and a bottle of booze.
Now I don't blame him because he run and hid, but the meanest thing that he ever did was before he left he went and named me Sue.
Well, he must have thought it was quite a joke, and it got lots of laughs from a lot of folks, it seems I had to fight my whole life through.
Some gal would giggle and I'd get red and some guy would laugh and I'd bust his head, I tell you, life ain't easy for a boy named Sue.
Well, I grew up quick and I grew up mean.
My fist got hard and my wits got keen.
Roamed from town to town to hide my shame, but I made me a vow to the moon and the stars, I'd search the honky tonks and bars and kill that man that gave me that awful name.
But it was Gatlinburg in mid July and I had just hit town and my throat was dry.
I'd thought i'd stop and have myself a brew.
At an old saloon in a street of mud and at a table dealing stud sat the dirty, mangy dog that named me Sue.
Well, I knew that snake was my own sweet dad from a worn-out picture that my mother had and I knew the scar on his cheek and his evil eye.
He was big and bent and gray and old and I looked at him and my blood ran cold, and I said, "My name is Sue.
How do you do? Now you're gonna die.
" Yeah, that's what I told him.
Well, I hit him right between the eyes and he went down but to my surprise he came up with a knife and cut off a piece of my ear.
But I busted a chair right across his teeth.
And we crashed through the wall and into the street kicking and a-gouging in the mud and the blood and the beer.
I tell you I've fought tougher men but I really can't remember when.
He kicked like a mule and bit like a crocodile.
I heard him laughin' and then I heard him cussin', he went for his gun and I pulled mine first.
He stood there looking at me and I saw him smile.
And he said, "Son, this world is rough and if a man's gonna make it, he's gotta be tough and I knew I wouldn't be there to help you along.
So I gave you that name and I said 'Goodbye'.
I knew you'd have to get tough or die.
And it's that name that helped to make you strong.
" Yeah, he said, "Now you have just fought one helluva fight, and I know you hate me and you've got the right to kill me now and I wouldn't blame you if you do.
But you ought to thank me before I die for the gravel in your guts and the spit in your eye because I'm the nut that named you Sue.
" Yeah, what could I do? What could I do? I got all choked up and I threw down my gun, called him pa and he called me a son, and I came away with a different point of view and I think about him now and then.
Every time I tried, every time I win and if I ever have a son I think I am gonna name him Bill or George - anything but Sue.

by Sir Walter Scott | |

On Leaving Mrs. Browns Lodgings

 So goodbye, Mrs.
Brown, I am going out of town, Over dale, over down, Where bugs bite not, Where lodgers fight not, Where below your chairmen drink not, Where beside your gutters stink not; But all is fresh and clean and gay, And merry lambkins sport and play, And they toss with rakes uncommonly short hay, Which looks as if it had been sown only the other day, And where oats are twenty-five shillings a boll, they say; But all's one for that, since I must and will away.

by Emily Dickinson | |

Tie the Strings to my Life My Lord

 Tie the Strings to my Life, My Lord,
Then, I am ready to go!
Just a look at the Horses --
Rapid! That will do!

Put me in on the firmest side --
So I shall never fall --
For we must ride to the Judgment --
And it's partly, down Hill --

But never I mind the steeper --
And never I mind the Sea --
Held fast in Everlasting Race --
By my own Choice, and Thee --

Goodbye to the Life I used to live --
And the World I used to know --
And kiss the Hills, for me, just once --
Then -- I am ready to go!