Alfred Lord Tennyson | |
Sunset and evening star,
And one clear call for me!
And may there be no moaning of the bar,
When I put out to sea,
But such a tide as moving seems asleep,
Too full for sound and foam,
When that which drew from out the boundless deep
Turns again home.
Twilight and evening bell,
And after that the dark!
And may there be no sadness of farewell,
When I embark;
For though from out our bourne of Time and Place
The flood may bear me far,
I hope to see my Pilot face to face
When I have crossed the bar.
Homer | |
Edwin Arlington Robinson | |
Whenever Richard Cory went down town,
We people on the pavement looked at him:
He was a gentleman from sole to crown,
Clean favored and imperially slim.
And he was always quietly arrayed,
And he was always human when he talked,
But still he fluttered pulses when he said,
"Good-morning," and he glittered when he walked.
And he was rich--yes, richer than a king--
And admirably schooled in every grace:
In fine, we thought that he was everything
To make us wish that we were in his place.
So on we worked, and waited for the light,
And went without the meat and cursed the bread;
And Richard Cory, one calm summer night,
Went home and put a bullet through his head.
More great poems below...
Emily Dickinson | |
A bird came down the walk:
He did not know I saw;
He bit an angle-worm in halves
And ate the fellow, raw.
And then he drank a dew
From a convenient grass,
And then hopped sidewise to the wall
To let a beetle pass.
He glanced with rapid eyes
That hurried all abroad,--
They looked like frightened beads, I thought;
He stirred his velvet head
Like one in danger; cautious,
I offered him a crumb,
And he unrolled his feathers
And rowed him softer home
Than oars divide the ocean,
Too silver for a seam,
Or butterflies, off banks of noon,
Leap, splashless, as they swim.
Edgar Allan Poe | |
Helen thy beauty is to me
Like those Nicean barks of yore
That gently o'er a perfumed sea
The weary wayworn wanderer bore
To his own native shore.
On desperate seas long wont to roam
Thy hyacinth hair thy classic face
Thy Naiad airs have brought me home
To the glory that was Greece
And the grandeur that was Rome.
Lo! in yon brilliant window-niche
How statue-like I see thee stand
The agate lamp within thy hand!
Ah Psyche from the regions which
Are Holy Land!
Anna Akhmatova | |
Holy Lot was a-going behind God's angel,
He seemed huge and bright on a hill, huge and black.
But the heart of his wife whispered stronger and stranger:
"It's not very late, you have time to look back
At these rose turrets of your native Sodom,
The square where you sang, and the yard where you span,
The windows looking from your cozy home
Where you bore children for your dear man.
She looked -- and her eyes were instantly bound
By pain -- they couldn't see any more at all:
Her fleet feet grew into the stony ground,
Her body turned into a pillar of salt.
Who'll mourn her as one of Lot's family members?
Doesn't she seem the smallest of losses to us?
But deep in my heart I will always remember
One who gave her life up for one single glance.
Thomas Hardy | |
"O 'Melia, my dear, this does everything crown!
Who could have supposed I should meet you in Town?
And whence such fair garments, such prosperi-ty?"--
"O didn't you know I'd been ruined?" said she.
--"You left us in tatters, without shoes or socks,
Tired of digging potatoes, and spudding up docks;
And now you've gay bracelets and bright feathers three!"--
"Yes: that's how we dress when we're ruined," said she.
--"At home in the barton you said 'thee' and 'thou,'
And 'thik oon,' and 'theäs oon,' and 't'other'; but now
Your talking quite fits 'ee for high compa-ny!"--
"Some polish is gained with one's ruin," said she.
--"Your hands were like paws then, your face blue and bleak
But now I'm bewitched by your delicate cheek,
And your little gloves fit as on any la-dy!"--
"We never do work when we're ruined," said she.
--"You used to call home-life a hag-ridden dream,
And you'd sigh, and you'd sock; but at present you seem
To know not of megrims or melancho-ly!"--
One's pretty lively when ruined," said she.
"--I wish I had feathers, a fine sweeping gown,
And a delicate face, and could strut about Town!"--
"My dear--a raw country girl, such as you be,
Cannot quite expect that.
You ain't ruined," said she.
Emily Dickinson | |
God permit industrious angels
Afternoons to play.
I met one, -- forgot my school-mates,
All, for him, straightaway.
God calls home the angels promptly
At the setting sun;
I missed mine.
How dreary marbles,
After playing the Crown!
Edward Estlin (E E) Cummings | |
Humanity i love you
because you would rather black the boots of
success than enquire whose soul dangles from his
watch-chain which would be embarrassing for both
parties and because you
unflinchingly applaud all
songs containing the words country home and
mother when sung at the old howard
Humanity i love you because
when you're hard up you pawn your
intelligence to buy a drink and when
you're flush pride keeps
you from the pawn shops and
because you are continually committing
nuisances but more
especially in your own house
Humanity i love you because you
are perpetually putting the secret of
life in your pants and forgetting
it's there and sitting down
and because you are
forever making poems in the lap
of death Humanity
i hate you
Anna Akhmatova | |
Hail! Hail to thee, o, immovable pain!
The young grey-eyed king had been yesterday slain.
This autumnal evening was stuffy and red.
My husband, returning, had quietly said,
"He'd left for his hunting; they carried him home;
They'd found him under the old oak's dome.
I pity the queen.
He, so young, past away!.
During one night her black hair turned to grey.
He found his pipe on a warm fire-place,
And quietly left for his usual race.
Now my daughter will wake up and rise --
Mother will look in her dear grey eyes.
And poplars by windows rustle as sing,
"Never again will you see your young king.
Siegfried Sassoon | |
EVENING was in the wood, louring with storm.
A time of drought had sucked the weedy pool
And baked the channels; birds had done with song.
Thirst was a dream of fountains in the moon,
Or willow-music blown across the water 5
Leisurely sliding on by weir and mill.
Uneasy was the man who wandered, brooding,
His face a little whiter than the dusk.
A drone of sultry wings flicker¡¯d in his head.
The end of sunset burning thro¡¯ the boughs 10
Died in a smear of red; exhausted hours
Cumber¡¯d, and ugly sorrows hemmed him in.
He thought: ¡®Somewhere there¡¯s thunder,¡¯ as he strove
To shake off dread; he dared not look behind him,
But stood, the sweat of horror on his face.
He blunder¡¯d down a path, trampling on thistles,
In sudden race to leave the ghostly trees.
And: ¡®Soon I¡¯ll be in open fields,¡¯ he thought,
And half remembered starlight on the meadows,
Scent of mown grass and voices of tired men, 20
Fading along the field-paths; home and sleep
And cool-swept upland spaces, whispering leaves,
And far off the long churring night-jar¡¯s note.
But something in the wood, trying to daunt him,
Led him confused in circles through the thicket.
He was forgetting his old wretched folly,
And freedom was his need; his throat was choking.
Barbed brambles gripped and clawed him round his legs,
And he floundered over snags and hidden stumps.
Mumbling: ¡®I will get out! I must get out!¡¯ 30
Butting and thrusting up the baffling gloom,
Pausing to listen in a space ¡¯twixt thorns,
He peers around with peering, frantic eyes.
An evil creature in the twilight looping,
Flapped blindly in his face.
Beating it off, 35
He screeched in terror, and straightway something clambered
Heavily from an oak, and dropped, bent double,
To shamble at him zigzag, squat and bestial.
Headlong he charges down the wood, and falls
With roaring brain¡ªagony¡ªthe snap¡¯t spark¡ª 40
And blots of green and purple in his eyes.
Then the slow fingers groping on his neck,
And at his heart the strangling clasp of death.
Galway Kinnell | |
As this plane dragged
its track of used ozone half the world long
thrusts some four hundred of us
toward places where actual known people
live and may wait,
we diminish down in our seats,
disappeared into novels of lives clearer than ours,
and yet we do not forget for a moment
the life down there, the doorway each will soon enter:
where I will meet her again
and know her again,
dark radiance with, and then mostly without, the stars.
Very likely she has always understood
what I have slowly learned,
and which only now, after being away, almost as far away
as one can get on this globe, almost
as far as thoughts can carry - yet still in her presence,
still surrounded not so much by reminders of her
as by things she had already reminded me of,
shadows of her
cast forward and waiting - can I try to express:
that love is hard,
that while many good things are easy, true love is not,
because love is first of all a power,
its own power,
which continually must make its way forward, from night
into day, from transcending union always forward into difficult day.
And as the plane descends, it comes to me
in the space
where tears stream down across the stars,
tears fallen on the actual earth
where their shining is what we call spirit,
that once the lover
recognizes the other, knows for the first time
what is most to be valued in another,
from then on, love is very much like courage,
perhaps it is courage, and even
out of old selves, smearing the darkness
of expectation across experience, all of us little
thinkers it brings home having similar thoughts
of landing to the imponderable world,
the transoceanic airliner,
resting its huge weight down, comes in almost lightly,
with sudden, tiny, white puffs and long, black, rubberish smears
all its tires know the home ground.
Percy Bysshe Shelley | |
WHEN the lamp is shatter'd
The light in the dust lies dead¡ª
When the cloud is scatter'd
The rainbow's glory is shed.
When the lute is broken 5
Sweet tones are remember'd not;
When the lips have spoken
Lov'd accents are soon forgot.
As music and splendour
Survive not the lamp and the lute 10
The heart's echoes render
No song when the spirit is mute¡ª
No song but sad dirges
Like the wind through a ruin'd cell
Or the mournful surges 15
That ring the dead seaman's knell.
When hearts have once mingl'd
Love first leaves the well-built nest;
The weak one is singl'd
To endure what it once possesst.
O Love! who bewailest
The frailty of all things here
Why choose you the frailest
For your cradle your home and your bier?
Its passions will rock thee 25
As the storms rock the ravens on high;
Bright reason will mock thee
Like the sun from a wintry sky.
From thy nest every rafter
Will rot and thine eagle home 30
Leave thee naked to laughter
When leaves fall and cold winds come.
Sylvia Plath | |
I have done it again.
One year in every ten
I manage it_____
A sort of walking miracle, my skin
Bright as a Nazi lampshade,
My right foot
My face featureless, fine
Peel off the napkin
O my enemy.
Do I terrify?-------
The nose, the eye pits, the full set of teeth?
The sour breath
Will vanish in a day.
Soon, soon the flesh
The grave cave ate will be
At home on me
And I a smiling woman.
I am only thirty.
And like the cat I have nine times to die.
This is Number Three.
What a trash
To annihilate each decade.
What a million filaments.
The Peanut-crunching crowd
Shoves in to see
Them unwrap me hand in foot ------
The big strip tease.
Gentleman , ladies
These are my hands
I may be skin and bone,
Nevertheless, I am the same, identical woman.
The first time it happened I was ten.
It was an accident.
The second time I meant
To last it out and not come back at all.
I rocked shut
As a seashell.
They had to call and call
And pick the worms off me like sticky pearls.
Is an art, like everything else.
I do it exceptionally well.
I do it so it feels like hell.
I do it so it feels real.
I guess you could say I've a call.
It's easy enough to do it in a cell.
It's easy enough to do it and stay put.
It's the theatrical
Comeback in broad day
To the same place, the same face, the same brute
That knocks me out.
There is a charge
For the eyeing my scars, there is a charge
For the hearing of my heart---
It really goes.
And there is a charge, a very large charge
For a word or a touch
Or a bit of blood
Or a piece of my hair on my clothes.
So, so, Herr Doktor.
So, Herr Enemy.
I am your opus,
I am your valuable,
The pure gold baby
That melts to a shriek.
I turn and burn.
Do not think I underestimate your great concern.
You poke and stir.
Flesh, bone, there is nothing there----
A cake of soap,
A wedding ring,
A gold filling.
Herr God, Herr Lucifer
Out of the ash
I rise with my red hair
And I eat men like air.
Percy Bysshe Shelley | |
NOW the last day of many days,
All beautiful and bright as thou,
The loveliest and the last, is dead:
Rise, Memory, and write its praise!
Up¡ªto thy wonted work! come, trace 5
The epitaph of glory fled,
For now the earth has changed its face,
A frown is on the heaven's brow.
We wander'd to the Pine Forest
That skirts the ocean's foam.
The lightest wind was in its nest,
The tempest in its home;
The whispering waves were half asleep,
The clouds were gone to play,
And on the bosom of the deep 15
The smile of heaven lay:
It seem'd as if the hour were one
Sent from beyond the skies
Which scatter'd from above the sun
A light of Paradise! 20
We paused amid the pines that stood
The giants of the waste,
Tortured by storms to shapes as rude
As serpents interlaced,¡ª
And soothed by every azure breath 25
That under heaven is blown,
To harmonies and hues beneath,
As tender as its own.
Now all the tree-tops lay asleep
Like green waves on the sea, 30
As still as in the silent deep
The ocean-woods may be.
How calm it was!¡ªThe silence there
By such a chain was bound,
That even the busy woodpecker 35
Made stiller by her sound
The inviolable quietness;
The breath of peace we drew
With its soft motion made not less
The calm that round us grew.
There seem'd, from the remotest seat
Of the wide mountain waste
To the soft flower beneath our feet,
A magic circle traced,¡ª
A spirit interfused around 45
A thrilling silent life;
To momentary peace it bound
Our mortal nature's strife;¡ª
And still I felt the centre of
The magic circle there 50
Was one fair form that fill'd with love
The lifeless atmosphere.
We paused beside the pools that lie
Under the forest bough;
Each seem'd as 'twere a little sky 55
Gulf'd in a world below¡ª
A firmament of purple light
Which in the dark earth lay,
More boundless than the depth of night
And purer than the day¡ª 60
In which the lovely forests grew
As in the upper air,
More perfect both in shape and hue
Than any spreading there.
There lay the glade and neighbouring lawn, 65
And through the dark-green wood
The white sun twinkling like the dawn
Out of a speckled cloud.
Sweet views which in our world above
Can never well be seen 70
Were imaged in the water's love
Of that fair forest green;
And all was interfused beneath
With an Elysian glow,
An atmosphere without a breath, 75
A softer day below.
Like one beloved, the scene had lent
To the dark water's breast
Its every leaf and lineament
With more than truth exprest; 80
Until an envious wind crept by,
Like an unwelcome thought
Which from the mind's too faithful eye
Blots one dear image out.
¡ªThough thou art ever fair and kind, 85
The forests ever green,
Less oft is peace in Shelley's mind
Than calm in waters seen!