George (Lord) Byron |
THERE'S not a joy the world can give like that it takes away
When the glow of early thought declines in feeling's dull decay;
'Tis not on youth's smooth cheek the blush alone which fades so fast
But the tender bloom of heart is gone ere youth itself be past.
Then the few whose spirits float above the wreck of happiness 5
Are driven o'er the shoals of guilt or ocean of excess:
The magnet of their course is gone or only points in vain
The shore to which their shiver'd sail shall never stretch again.
Then the mortal coldness of the soul like death itself comes down;
It cannot feel for others' woes it dare not dream its own; 10
That heavy chill has frozen o'er the fountain of our tears
And though the eye may sparkle still 'tis where the ice appears.
Though wit may flash from fluent lips and mirth distract the breast
Through midnight hours that yield no more their former hope of rest
'Tis but as ivy-leaves around the ruin'd turret wreathe 15
All green and wildly fresh without but worn and gray beneath.
Oh could I feel as I have felt or be what I have been
Or weep as I could once have wept o'er many a vanish'd scene ¡ª
As springs in deserts found seem sweet all brackish though they be
So midst the wither'd waste of life those tears would flow to me! 20
Raymond Carver |
So early it's still almost dark out.
I'm near the window with coffee,
and the usual early morning stuff
that passes for thought.
When I see the boy and his friend
walking up the road
to deliver the newspaper.
They wear caps and sweaters,
and one boy has a bag over his shoulder.
They are so happy
they aren't saying anything, these boys.
I think if they could, they would take
each other's arm.
It's early in the morning,
and they are doing this thing together.
They come on, slowly.
The sky is taking on light,
though the moon still hangs pale over the water.
Such beauty that for a minute
death and ambition, even love,
doesn't enter into this.
It comes on
And goes beyond, really,
any early morning talk about it.
Henry David Thoreau |
I think awhile of Love, and while I think,
Love is to me a world,
Sole meat and sweetest drink,
And close connecting link
Tween heaven and earth.
I only know it is, not how or why,
My greatest happiness;
However hard I try,
Not if I were to die,
Can I explain.
I fain would ask my friend how it can be,
But when the time arrives,
Then Love is more lovely
Than anything to me,
And so I'm dumb.
For if the truth were known, Love cannot speak,
But only thinks and does;
Though surely out 'twill leak
Without the help of Greek,
Or any tongue.
A man may love the truth and practise it,
Beauty he may admire,
And goodness not omit,
As much as may befit
But only when these three together meet,
As they always incline,
And make one soul the seat,
And favorite retreat,
When under kindred shape, like loves and hates
And a kindred nature,
Proclaim us to be mates,
Exposed to equal fates
And each may other help, and service do,
Drawing Love's bands more tight,
Service he ne'er shall rue
While one and one make two,
And two are one;
In such case only doth man fully prove
Fully as man can do,
What power there is in Love
His inmost soul to move
Two sturdy oaks I mean, which side by side,
Withstand the winter's storm,
And spite of wind and tide,
Grow up the meadow's pride,
For both are strong
Above they barely touch, but undermined
Down to their deepest source,
Admiring you shall find
Their roots are intertwined
More great poems below...
Randall Jarrell |
Moving from Cheer to Joy, from Joy to All,
I take a box
And add it to my wild rice, my Cornish game hens.
The slacked or shorted, basketed, identical
Are selves I overlook.
Wisdom, said William James,
Is learning what to overlook.
And I am wise
If that is wisdom.
Yet somehow, as I buy All from these shelves
And the boy takes it to my station wagon,
What I've become
Troubles me even if I shut my eyes.
When I was young and miserable and pretty
And poor, I'd wish
What all girls wish: to have a husband,
A house and children.
Now that I'm old, my wish
That the boy putting groceries in my car
It bewilders me he doesn't see me.
For so many years
I was good enough to eat: the world looked at me
And its mouth watered.
How often they have undressed me,
The eyes of strangers!
And, holding their flesh within my flesh, their vile
Imaginings within my imagining,
I too have taken
The chance of life.
Now the boy pats my dog
And we start home.
Now I am good.
The last mistaken,
Ecstatic, accidental bliss, the blind
Happiness that, bursting, leaves upon the palm
Some soap and water--
It was so long ago, back in some Gay
Twenties, Nineties, I don't know .
Today I miss
My lovely daughter
Away at school, my sons away at school,
My husband away at work--I wish for them.
The dog, the maid,
And I go through the sure unvarying days
At home in them.
As I look at my life,
I am afraid
Only that it will change, as I am changing:
I am afraid, this morning, of my face.
It looks at me
From the rear-view mirror, with the eyes I hate,
The smile I hate.
Its plain, lined look
Of gray discovery
Repeats to me: "You're old.
" That's all, I'm old.
And yet I'm afraid, as I was at the funeral
I went to yesterday.
My friend's cold made-up face, granite among its flowers,
Her undressed, operated-on, dressed body
Were my face and body.
As I think of her and I hear her telling me
How young I seem; I am exceptional;
I think of all I have.
But really no one is exceptional,
No one has anything, I'm anybody,
I stand beside my grave
Confused with my life, that is commonplace and solitary.
Robert William Service |
No man can be a failure if he thinks he's a success;
he may not own his roof-tree overhead,
He may be on his uppers and have hocked his evening dress -
(Financially speaking - in the red)
He may have chronic shortage to repay the old home mortgage,
And almost be a bankrupt in his biz.
But though he skips his dinner,
And each day he's growing thinner,
If he thinks he is a winner,
Then he is.
But when I say Success I mean the sublimated kind;
A man may gain it yet be on the dole.
To me it's music of the heart and sunshine of the mind,
Serenity and sweetness of the soul.
You may not have a brace of bucks to jingle in your jeans,
Far less the dough to buy a motor car;
But though the row you're hoeing
May be grim, ungodly going,
If you think the skies are glowing -
Then they are.
For a poor man may be wealthy and a millionaire may fail,
It all depends upon the point of view.
It's the sterling of your spirit tips the balance of the scale,
It's optimism, and it's up to you.
For what I figure as success is simple Happiness,
The consummate contentment of your mood:
You may toil with brain and sinew,
And though little wealth is win you,
If there's health and hope within you -
You've made good.
Nikki Giovanni |
You Came, Too
I came to the crowd seeking friends
I came to the crowd seeking love
I came to the crowd for understanding
I found you
I came to the crowd to weep
I came to the crowd to laugh
You dried my tears
You shared my happiness
I went from the crowd seeking you
I went from the crowd seeking me
I went from the crowd forever
You came, too
Mark Doty |
You weren't well or really ill yet either;
just a little tired, your handsomeness
tinged by grief or anticipation, which brought
to your face a thoughtful, deepening grace.
I didn't for a moment doubt you were dead.
I knew that to be true still, even in the dream.
You'd been out—at work maybe?—
having a good day, almost energetic.
We seemed to be moving from some old house
where we'd lived, boxes everywhere, things
in disarray: that was the story of my dream,
but even asleep I was shocked out of narrative
by your face, the physical fact of your face:
inches from mine, smooth-shaven, loving, alert.
Why so difficult, remembering the actual look
of you? Without a photograph, without strain?
So when I saw your unguarded, reliable face,
your unmistakable gaze opening all the warmth
and clarity of you—warm brown tea—we held
each other for the time the dream allowed.
You came back so I could see you
once more, plainly, so I could rest against you
without thinking this happiness lessened anything,
without thinking you were alive again.
Carl Sandburg |
I ASKED the professors who teach the meaning of life to tell
me what is happiness.
And I went to famous executives who boss the work of
thousands of men.
They all shook their heads and gave me a smile as though
I was trying to fool with them
And then one Sunday afternoon I wandered out along
the Desplaines river
And I saw a crowd of Hungarians under the trees with
their women and children
and a keg of beer and an
William Wordsworth |
Milton! thou should'st be living at this hour:
England hath need of thee: she is a fen
Of stagnant waters: altar, sword, and pen,
Fireside, the heroic wealth of hall and bower,
Have forfeited their ancient English dower
Of inward happiness.
We are selfish men;
Oh! raise us up, return to us again;
And give us manners, virtue, freedom, power.
Thy soul was like a Star, and dwelt apart:
Thou hadst a voice whose sound was like the sea:
Pure as the naked heavens, majestic, free,
So didst thou travel on life's common way,
In cheerful godliness; and yet thy heart
The lowliest duties on herself did lay.
Delmira Agustini |
I live, I die, I burn, I drown
I endure at once chill and cold
Life is at once too soft and too hard
I have sore troubles mingled with joys
Suddenly I laugh and at the same time cry
And in pleasure many a grief endure
My happiness wanes and yet it lasts unchanged
All at once I dry up and grow green
Thus I suffer love's inconstancies
And when I think the pain is most intense
Without thinking, it is gone again.
Then when I feel my joys certain
And my hour of greatest delight arrived
I find my pain beginning all over once again.
Anne Bronte |
While on my lonely couch I lie,
I seldom feel myself alone,
For fancy fills my dreaming eye
With scenes and pleasures of its own.
Then I may cherish at my breast
An infant's form beloved and fair,
May smile and soothe it into rest
With all a Mother's fondest care.
How sweet to feel its helpless form
Depending thus on me alone!
And while I hold it safe and warm
What bliss to think it is my own!
And glances then may meet my eyes
That daylight never showed to me;
What raptures in my bosom rise,
Those earnest looks of love to see,
To feel my hand so kindly prest,
To know myself beloved at last,
To think my heart has found a rest,
My life of solitude is past!
But then to wake and find it flown,
The dream of happiness destroyed,
To find myself unloved, alone,
What tongue can speak the dreary void?
A heart whence warm affections flow,
Creator, thou hast given to me,
And am I only thus to know
How sweet the joys of love would be?
Alan Seeger |
The need to love that all the stars obey
Entered my heart and banished all beside.
Bare were the gardens where I used to stray;
Faded the flowers that one time satisfied.
Before the beauty of the west on fire,
The moonlit hills from cloister-casements viewed
Cloud-like arose the image of desire,
And cast out peace and maddened solitude.
I sought the City and the hopes it held:
With smoke and brooding vapors intercurled,
As the thick roofs and walls close-paralleled
Shut out the fair horizons of the world---
A truant from the fields and rustic joy,
In my changed thought that image even so
Shut out the gods I worshipped as a boy
And all the pure delights I used to know.
Often the veil has trembled at some tide
Of lovely reminiscence and revealed
How much of beauty Nature holds beside
Sweet lips that sacrifice and arms that yield:
Clouds, window-framed, beyond the huddled eaves
When summer cumulates their golden chains,
Or from the parks the smell of burning leaves,
Fragrant of childhood in the country lanes,
An organ-grinder's melancholy tune
In rainy streets, or from an attic sill
The blue skies of a windy afternoon
Where our kites climbed once from some grassy hill:
And my soul once more would be wrapped entire
In the pure peace and blessing of those years.
Before the fierce infection of Desire
Had ravaged all the flesh.
Through starting tears
Shone that lost Paradise; but, if it did,
Again ere long the prison-shades would fall
That Youth condemns itself to walk amid,
So narrow, but so beautiful withal.
And I have followed Fame with less devotion,
And kept no real ambition but to see
Rise from the foam of Nature's sunlit ocean
My dream of palpable divinity;
And aught the world contends for to mine eye
Seemed not so real a meaning of success
As only once to clasp before I die
My vision of embodied happiness.
Robert William Service |
I've made my Will.
I don't believe
In luxury and wealth;
And to those loving ones who grieve
My age and frailing health
I give the meed to soothe their ways
That they may happy be,
And pass serenely all their days
In snug security.
That duty done, I leave behind
The all I have to give
To crippled children and the blind
Who lamentably live;
Hoping my withered hand may freight
To happiness a few
Poor innocents whom cruel fate
Has cheated of their due.
A am no grey philanthropist,
Too humble is my lot
Yet how I'm glad to give the grist
My singing mill has brought.
For I have had such lyric days,
So rich, so full, so sweet,
That I with gratitude and praise
Would make my life complete.
I'VE MADE MY WILL: now near the end,
At peace with all mankind,
To children lame I would be friend,
And brother to the blind .
And if there be a God, I pray
He bless my last bequest,
And in His love and pity say:
Alexander Pushkin |
Not long ago, in a charming dream,
I saw myself -- a king with crown's treasure;
I was in love with you, it seemed,
And heart was beating with a pleasure.
I sang my passion's song by your enchanting knees.
Why, dreams, you didn't prolong my happiness forever?
But gods deprived me not of whole their favor:
I only lost the kingdom of my dreams.
Jane Kenyon |
There's just no accounting for happiness,
or the way it turns up like a prodigal
who comes back to the dust at your feet
having squandered a fortune far away.
And how can you not forgive?
You make a feast in honor of what
was lost, and take from its place the finest
garment, which you saved for an occasion
you could not imagine, and you weep night and day
to know that you were not abandoned,
that happiness saved its most extreme form
for you alone.
No, happiness is the uncle you never
knew about, who flies a single-engine plane
onto the grassy landing strip, hitchhikes
into town, and inquires at every door
until he finds you asleep midafternoon
as you so often are during the unmerciful
hours of your despair.
It comes to the monk in his cell.
It comes to the woman sweeping the street
with a birch broom, to the child
whose mother has passed out from drink.
It comes to the lover, to the dog chewing
a sock, to the pusher, to the basket maker,
and to the clerk stacking cans of carrots
in the night.
It even comes to the boulder
in the perpetual shade of pine barrens,
to rain falling on the open sea,
to the wineglass, weary of holding wine.