Sir Walter Raleigh | |
Methought I saw the grave where Laura lay,
Within that temple where the vestal flame
Was wont to burn; and, passing by that way,
To see that buried dust of living fame,
Whose tomb fair Love, and fairer Virtue kept:
All suddenly I saw the Fairy Queen;
At whose approach the soul of Petrarch wept,
And, from thenceforth, those Graces were not seen:
For they this queen attended; in whose stead
Oblivion laid him down on Laura's hearse:
Hereat the hardest stones were seen to bleed,
And groans of buried ghosts the heavens did pierce:
Where Homer's spright did tremble all for grief,
And cursed the access of that celestial thief!
Robert Burns | |
Wee, sleekit, cow'rin, tim'rous beastie,
O, what a panic's in thy breastie!
Thou need na start awa sae hasty,
Wi' bickering brattle!
I wad be laith to rin an' chase thee,
Wi' murd'ring pattle!
I'm truly sorry man's dominion
Has broken Nature's social union,
An' justifies that ill opinion
Which makes thee startle
At me, thy poor, earth-born companion,
An' fellow mortal!
I doubt na, whiles, but thou may thieve;
What then? poor beastie, thou maun live!
A daimen icker in a thrave
'S a sma' request;
I'll get a blessin wi' the lave,
An' never miss't!
Thy wee bit housie, too, in ruin!
Its silly wa's the win's are strewin!
An' naething, now, to big a new ane,
O' foggage green!
An' bleak December's win's ensuin,
Baith snell an' keen!
Thou saw the fields laid bare an waste,
An' weary winter comin fast,
An' cozie here, beneath the blast,
Thou thought to dwell,
Till crash! the cruel coulter past
Out thro' thy cell.
That wee bit heap o' leaves an' stibble
Has cost thee mony a weary nibble!
Now thou's turned out, for a' thy trouble,
But house or hald,
To thole the winter's sleety dribble,
An' cranreuch cauld!
But Mousie, thou art no thy lane,
In proving foresight may be vain:
The best-laid schemes o' mice an' men
Gang aft a-gley,
An' lea'e us nought but grief an' pain
For promised joy!
Still thou art blest, compared wi' me!
The present only toucheth thee:
But och! I backward cast my e'e
On prospects drear!
An' forward, tho I canna see,
I guess an' fear!
Edgar Lee Masters | |
I went up and down the streets
Here and there by day and night,
Through all hours of the night caring for the poor who were sick.
Do you know why?
My wife hated me, my son went to the dogs.
And I turned to the people and poured out my love to them.
Sweet it was to see the crowds about the lawns on the day of my funeral,
And hear them murmur their love and sorrow.
But oh, dear God, my soul trembled, scarcely able
To hold to the railing of the new life
When I saw Em Stanton behind the oak tree
At the grave,
Hiding herself, and her grief!
More great poems below...
Sir Walter Raleigh | |
Farewell false love, the oracle of lies,
A mortal foe and enemy to rest,
An envious boy, from whom all cares arise,
A bastard vile, a beast with rage possessed,
A way of error, a temple full of treason,
In all effects contrary unto reason.
A poisoned serpent covered all with flowers,
Mother of sighs, and murderer of repose,
A sea of sorrows whence are drawn such showers
As moisture lend to every grief that grows;
A school of guile, a net of deep deceit,
A gilded hook that holds a poisoned bait.
A fortress foiled, which reason did defend,
A siren song, a fever of the mind,
A maze wherein affection finds no end,
A raging cloud that runs before the wind,
A substance like the shadow of the sun,
A goal of grief for which the wisest run.
A quenchless fire, a nurse of trembling fear,
A path that leads to peril and mishap,
A true retreat of sorrow and despair,
An idle boy that sleeps in pleasure's lap,
A deep mistrust of that which certain seems,
A hope of that which reason doubtful deems.
Sith* then thy trains my younger years betrayed, [since]
And for my faith ingratitude I find;
And sith repentance hath my wrongs bewrayed*, [revealed]
Whose course was ever contrary to kind*: [nature]
False love, desire, and beauty frail, adieu.
Dead is the root whence all these fancies grew.
Emily Dickinson | |
I measure every grief I meet
With analytic eyes;
I wonder if it weighs like mine,
Or has an easier size.
I wonder if they bore it long,
Or did it just begin?
I could not tell the date of mine,
It feels so old a pain.
I wonder if it hurts to live,
And if they have to try,
And whether, could they choose between,
They would not rather die.
I wonder if when years have piled--
Some thousands--on the cause
Of early hurt, if such a lapse
Could give them any pause;
Or would they go on aching still
Through centuries above,
Enlightened to a larger pain
By contrast with the love.
The grieved are many, I am told;
The reason deeper lies,--
Death is but one and comes but once
And only nails the eyes.
There's grief of want, and grief of cold,--
A sort they call 'despair,'
There's banishment from native eyes,
In sight of native air.
And though I may not guess the kind
Correctly yet to me
A piercing comfort it affords
In passing Calvary,
To note the fashions of the cross
Of those that stand alone
Still fascinated to presume
That some are like my own.
Elizabeth Barrett Browning | |
I TELL you hopeless grief is passionless;
That only men incredulous of despair
Half-taught in anguish through the midnight air
Beat upward to God's throne in loud access
Of shrieking and reproach.
Full desertness 5
In souls as countries lieth silent-bare
Under the blanching vertical eye-glare
Of the absolute Heavens.
Deep-hearted man express
Grief for thy Dead in silence like to death¡ª
Most like a monumental statue set 10
In everlasting watch and moveless woe
Till itself crumble to the dust beneath.
Touch it; the marble eyelids are not wet:
If it could weep it could arise and go.
Edgar Allan Poe | |
In Heaven a spirit doth dwell
"Whose heart-strings are a lute";
None sing so wildly well
As the angel Israfel
And the giddy stars (so legends tell)
Ceasing their hymns attend the spell
Of his voice all mute.
In her highest noon
The enamored moon
Blushes with love
While to listen the red levin
(With the rapid Pleiads even
Which were seven )
Pauses in Heaven.
And they say (the starry choir
And the other listening things)
That Israfeli's fire
Is owing to that lyre
By which he sits and sings-
The trembling living wire
Of those unusual strings.
But the skies that angel trod
Where deep thoughts are a duty-
Where Love's a grown-up God-
Where the Houri glances are
Imbued with all the beauty
Which we worship in a star.
Therefore thou art not wrong
Israfeli who despisest
An unimpassioned song;
To thee the laurels belong
Best bard because the wisest!
Merrily live and long!
The ecstasies above
With thy burning measures suit-
Thy grief thy joy thy hate thy love
With the fervor of thy lute-
Well may the stars be mute!
Yes Heaven is thine; but this
Is a world of sweets and sours;
Our flowers are merely- flowers
And the shadow of thy perfect bliss
Is the sunshine of ours.
If I could dwell
Hath dwelt and he where I
He might not sing so wildly well
A mortal melody
While a bolder note than this might swell
From my lyre within the sky.
Phillis Wheatley | |
While deep you mourn beneath the cypress-shade
The hand of Death, and your dear daughter laid
In dust, whose absence gives your tears to flow,
And racks your bosom with incessant woe,
Let Recollection take a tender part,
Assuage the raging tortures of your heart,
Still the wild tempest of tumultuous grief,
And pour the heav'nly nectar of relief:
Suspend the sigh, dear Sir, and check the groan,
Divinely bright your daughter's Virtues shone:
How free from scornful pride her gentle mind,
Which ne'er its aid to indigence declin'd!
Expanding free, it sought the means to prove
Unfailing charity, unbounded love!
She unreluctant flies to see no more
Her dear-lov'd parents on earth's dusky shore:
Impatient heav'n's resplendent goal to gain,
She with swift progress cuts the azure plain,
Where grief subsides, where changes are no more,
And life's tumultuous billows cease to roar;
She leaves her earthly mansion for the skies,
Where new creations feast her wond'ring eyes.
To heav'n's high mandate cheerfully resign'd
She mounts, and leaves the rolling globe behind;
She, who late wish'd that Leonard might return,
Has ceas'd to languish, and forgot to mourn;
To the same high empyreal mansions come,
She joins her spouse, and smiles upon the tomb:
And thus I hear her from the realms above:
"Lo! this the kingdom of celestial love!
"Could ye, fond parents, see our present bliss,
"How soon would you each sigh, each fear dismiss?
"Amidst unutter'd pleasures whilst I play
"In the fair sunshine of celestial day,
"As far as grief affects an happy soul
"So far doth grief my better mind controul,
"To see on earth my aged parents mourn,
"And secret wish for T-----! to return:
"Let brighter scenes your ev'ning-hours employ:
"Converse with heav'n, and taste the promis'd joy"
Edward Estlin (E E) Cummings | |
anyone lived in a pretty how town
(with up so floating many bells down)
spring summer autumn winter
he sang his didn't he danced his did
Women and men(both little and samll)
cared for anyone not at all
they sowed their isn't they reaped their
sun moon stars rain
children guessed(but only a few
and down they forgot as up they grew
autumn winter spring summer)
that noone loved him more by more
when by now and tree by leaf
she laughed his joy she cried his grief
bird by snow and stir by still
anyone's any was all to her
someones married their everyones
laughed their cryings and did their dance
(sleep wake hope and then)they
said their nevers they slept their dream
stars rain sun moon
(and only the snow can begin to explain
how children are apt to forget to remember
with up so floating many bells down)
one day anyone died i guess
(and noone stooped to kiss his face)
busy folk buried them side by side
little by little and was by was
all by all and deep by deep
and more by moe they dream their sleep
noone and anyone earth by april
wish by spirit and if by yes
Women and men(both dong and ding)
summer sutumn winter spring
reaped their sowing and went their came
sun moon stars rain
Phillis Wheatley | |
From dark abodes to fair etherial light
Th' enraptur'd innocent has wing'd her flight;
On the kind bosom of eternal love
She finds unknown beatitude above.
This known, ye parents, nor her loss deplore,
She feels the iron hand of pain no more;
The dispensations of unerring grace,
Should turn your sorrows into grateful praise;
Let then no tears for her henceforward flow,
No more distress'd in our dark vale below,
Her morning sun, which rose divinely bright,
Was quickly mantled with the gloom of night;
But hear in heav'n's blest bow'rs your Nancy fair,
And learn to imitate her language there.
"Thou, Lord, whom I behold with glory crown'd,
"By what sweet name, and in what tuneful sound
"Wilt thou be prais'd? Seraphic pow'rs are faint
"Infinite love and majesty to paint.
"To thee let all their graceful voices raise,
"And saints and angels join their songs of praise.
Perfect in bliss she from her heav'nly home
Looks down, and smiling beckons you to come;
Why then, fond parents, why these fruitless groans?
Restrain your tears, and cease your plaintive moans.
Freed from a world of sin, and snares, and pain,
Why would you wish your daughter back again?
Let hope your grief control,
And check the rising tumult of the soul.
Calm in the prosperous, and adverse day,
Adore the God who gives and takes away;
Eye him in all, his holy name revere,
Upright your actions, and your hearts sincere,
Till having sail'd through life's tempestuous sea,
And from its rocks, and boist'rous billows free,
Yourselves, safe landed on the blissful shore,
Shall join your happy babe to part no more.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow | |
THERE is no flock however watched and tended
But one dead lamb is there!
There is no fireside howsoe'er defended
But has one vacant chair!
The air is full of farewells to the dying 5
And mournings for the dead;
The heart of Rachel for her children crying
Will not be comforted!
Let us be patient! These severe afflictions
Not from the ground arise 10
But oftentimes celestial benedictions
Assume this dark disguise.
We see but dimly through the mists and vapors;
Amid these earthly damps
What seem to us but sad funereal tapers 15
May be heaven's distant lamps.
There is no Death! What seems so is transition;
This life of mortal breath
Is but a suburb of the life elysian
Whose portal we call Death.
She is not dead ¡ªthe child of our affection ¡ª
But gone unto that school
Where she no longer needs our poor protection
And Christ himself doth rule.
In that great cloister's stillness and seclusion 25
By guardian angels led
Safe from temptation safe from sin's pollution
She lives whom we call dead
Day after day we think what she is doing
In those bright realms of air; 30
Year after year her tender steps pursuing
Behold her grown more fair.
Thus do we walk with her and keep unbroken
The bond which nature gives
Thinking that our remembrance though unspoken 35
May reach her where she lives.
Not as a child shall we again behold her;
For when with raptures wild
In our embraces we again enfold her
She will not be a child; 40
But a fair maiden in her Father's mansion
Clothed with celestial grace;
And beautiful with all the soul's expansion
Shall we behold her face.
And though at times impetuous with emotion 45
And anguish long suppressed
The swelling heart heaves moaning like the ocean
That cannot be at rest ¡ª
We will be patient and assuage the feeling
We may not wholly stay; 50
By silence sanctifying not concealing
The grief that must have way.
Percy Bysshe Shelley | |
O WORLD! O Life! O Time!
On whose last steps I climb
Trembling at that where I had stood before;
When will return the glory of your prime?
No more¡ªoh never more! 5
Out of the day and night
A joy has taken flight:
Fresh spring and summer and winter hoar
Move my faint heart with grief but with delight
No more¡ªoh never more! 10
Ralph Waldo Emerson | |
From the French
SOME of the hurts you have cured
And the sharpest you still have survived
But what torments of grief you endured
From evils which never arrived!
George (Lord) Byron | |
AND thou art dead as young and fair
As aught of mortal birth;
And form so soft and charms so rare
Too soon return'd to Earth!
Though Earth received them in her bed 5
And o'er the spot the crowd may tread
In carelessness or mirth
There is an eye which could not brook
A moment on that grave to look.
I will not ask where thou liest low 10
Nor gaze upon the spot;
There flowers or weeds at will may grow
So I behold them not:
It is enough for me to prove
That what I loved and long must love 15
Like common earth can rot;
To me there needs no stone to tell
'Tis Nothing that I loved so well.
Yet did I love thee to the last
As fervently as thou 20
Who didst not change through all the past
And canst not alter now.
The love where Death has set his seal
Nor age can chill nor rival steal
Nor falsehood disavow; 25
And what were worse thou canst not see
Or wrong or change or fault in me.
The better days of life were ours
The worst can be but mine;
The sun that cheers the storm that lours 30
Shall never more be thine.
The silence of that dreamless sleep
I envy now too much to weep;
Nor need I to repine
That all those charms have pass'd away 35
I might have watch'd through long decay.
The flower in ripen'd bloom unmatch'd
Must fall the earliest prey;
Though by no hand untimely snatch'd.
The leaves must drop away.
And yet it were a greater grief
To watch it withering leaf by leaf
Than see it pluck'd to-day;
Since earthly eye but ill can bear
To trace the change to foul from fair.
I know not if I could have borne
To see thy beauties fade;
The night that follow'd such a morn
Had worn a deeper shade.
Thy day without a cloud hath pass'd 50
And thou wert lovely to the last
Extinguish'd not decay'd;
As stars that shoot along the sky
Shine brightest as they fall from high.
As once I wept if I could weep 55
My tears might well be shed
To think I was not near to keep
One vigil o'er thy bed¡ª
To gaze how fondly! on thy face
To fold thee in a faint embrace 60
Uphold thy drooping head
And show that love however vain
Nor thou nor I can feel again.
Yet how much less it were to gain
Though thou hast left me free 65
The loveliest things that still remain
Than thus remember thee!
The all of thine that cannot die
Through dark and dread eternity
Returns again to me 70
And more thy buried love endears
Than aught except its living years.
Allen Ginsberg | |
At gauzy dusk, thin haze like cigarette smoke
ribbons past Chrysler Building's silver fins
tapering delicately needletopped, Empire State's
taller antenna filmed milky lit amid blocks
black and white apartmenting veil'd sky over Manhattan,
offices new built dark glassed in blueish heaven--The East
50's & 60's covered with castles & watertowers, seven storied
tar-topped house-banks over York Avenue, late may-green trees
surrounding Rockefellers' blue domed medical arbor--
Geodesic science at the waters edge--Cars running up
East River Drive, & parked at N.
Hospital's oval door
where perfect tulips flower the health of a thousand sick souls
trembling inside hospital rooms.
Triboro bridge steel-spiked
penthouse orange roofs, sunset tinges the river and in a few
Bronx windows, some magnesium vapor brilliances're
spotted five floors above E 59th St under grey painted bridge
Way downstream along the river, as Monet saw Thames
100 years ago, Con Edison smokestacks 14th street,
& Brooklyn Bridge's skeined dim in modern mists--
Pipes sticking up to sky nine smokestacks huge visible--
Building hangs under an orange crane, & red lights on
vertical avenues below the trees turn green at the nod
of a skull with a mild nerve ache.
Dim dharma, I return
to this spectacle after weeks of poisoned lassitude, my thighs
belly chest & arms covered with poxied welts,
head pains fading back of the neck, right eyebrow cheek
mouth paralyzed--from taking the wrong medicine, sweated
too much in the forehead helpless, covered my rage from
gorge to prostate with grinding jaw and tightening anus
not released the weeping scream of horror at robot Mayaguez
World self ton billions metal grief unloaded
Pnom Penh to Nakon Thanom, Santiago & Tehran.
Fresh warm breeze in the window, day's release
>from pain, cars float downside the bridge trestle
and uncounted building-wall windows multiplied a mile
deep into ash-delicate sky beguile
my empty mind.
A seagull passes alone wings
spread silent over roofs.
- May 20, 1975 Mayaguez Crisis