CreationEarth Nature Photos
Submit Poems
Get Your Premium Membership

Best Famous Irony Poems

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

Search for the best famous Irony poems, articles about Irony poems, poetry blogs, or anything else Irony poem related using the PoetrySoup search engine at the top of the page.

See also:

Written by Charles Baudelaire |

THE DANCE OF DEATH

 CARRYING bouquet, and handkerchief, and gloves, 
Proud of her height as when she lived, she moves 
With all the careless and high-stepping grace, 
And the extravagant courtesan's thin face.
Was slimmer waist e'er in a ball-room wooed? Her floating robe, in royal amplitude, Falls in deep folds around a dry foot, shod With a bright flower-like shoe that gems the sod.
The swarms that hum about her collar-bones As the lascivious streams caress the stones, Conceal from every scornful jest that flies, Her gloomy beauty; and her fathomless eyes Are made of shade and void; with flowery sprays Her skull is wreathed artistically, and sways, Feeble and weak, on her frail vertebrae.
O charm of nothing decked in folly! they Who laugh and name you a Caricature, They see not, they whom flesh and blood allure, The nameless grace of every bleached, bare bone, That is most dear to me, tall skeleton! Come you to trouble with your potent sneer The feast of Life! or are you driven here, To Pleasure's Sabbath, by dead lusts that stir And goad your moving corpse on with a spur? Or do you hope, when sing the violins, And the pale candle-flame lights up our sins, To drive some mocking nightmare far apart, And cool the flame hell lighted in your heart? Fathomless well of fault and foolishness! Eternal alembic of antique distress! Still o'er the curved, white trellis of your sides The sateless, wandering serpent curls and glides.
And truth to tell, I fear lest you should find, Among us here, no lover to your mind; Which of these hearts beat for the smile you gave? The charms of horror please none but the brave.
Your eyes' black gulf, where awful broodings stir, Brings giddiness; the prudent reveller Sees, while a horror grips him from beneath, The eternal smile of thirty-two white teeth.
For he who has not folded in his arms A skeleton, nor fed on graveyard charms, Recks not of furbelow, or paint, or scent, When Horror comes the way that Beauty went.
O irresistible, with fleshless face, Say to these dancers in their dazzled race: "Proud lovers with the paint above your bones, Ye shall taste death, musk scented skeletons! Withered Antino?s, dandies with plump faces, Ye varnished cadavers, and grey Lovelaces, Ye go to lands unknown and void of breath, Drawn by the rumour of the Dance of Death.
From Seine's cold quays to Ganges' burning stream, The mortal troupes dance onward in a dream; They do not see, within the opened sky, The Angel's sinister trumpet raised on high.
In every clime and under every sun, Death laughs at ye, mad mortals, as ye run; And oft perfumes herself with myrrh, like ye And mingles with your madness, irony!"

Written by Marianne Moore |

Marriage

 This institution,
perhaps one should say enterprise
out of respect for which
one says one need not change one's mind
about a thing one has believed in,
requiring public promises
of one's intention
to fulfill a private obligation:
I wonder what Adam and Eve
think of it by this time,
this firegilt steel
alive with goldenness;
how bright it shows --
"of circular traditions and impostures,
committing many spoils,"
requiring all one's criminal ingenuity
to avoid!
Psychology which explains everything
explains nothing
and we are still in doubt.
Eve: beautiful woman -- I have seen her when she was so handsome she gave me a start, able to write simultaneously in three languages -- English, German and French and talk in the meantime; equally positive in demanding a commotion and in stipulating quiet: "I should like to be alone;" to which the visitor replies, "I should like to be alone; why not be alone together?" Below the incandescent stars below the incandescent fruit, the strange experience of beauty; its existence is too much; it tears one to pieces and each fresh wave of consciousness is poison.
"See her, see her in this common world," the central flaw in that first crystal-fine experiment, this amalgamation which can never be more than an interesting possibility, describing it as "that strange paradise unlike flesh, gold, or stately buildings, the choicest piece of my life: the heart rising in its estate of peace as a boat rises with the rising of the water;" constrained in speaking of the serpent -- that shed snakeskin in the history of politeness not to be returned to again -- that invaluable accident exonerating Adam.
And he has beauty also; it's distressing -- the O thou to whom, from whom, without whom nothing -- Adam; "something feline, something colubrine" -- how true! a crouching mythological monster in that Persian miniature of emerald mines, raw silk -- ivory white, snow white, oyster white and six others -- that paddock full of leopards and giraffes -- long lemonyellow bodies sown with trapezoids of blue.
Alive with words, vibrating like a cymbal touched before it has been struck, he has prophesied correctly -- the industrious waterfall, "the speedy stream which violently bears all before it, at one time silent as the air and now as powerful as the wind.
" "Treading chasms on the uncertain footing of a spear," forgetting that there is in woman a quality of mind which is an instinctive manifestation is unsafe, he goes on speaking in a formal, customary strain of "past states," the present state, seals, promises, the evil one suffered, the good one enjoys, hell, heaven, everything convenient to promote one's joy.
" There is in him a state of mind by force of which, perceiving what it was not intended that he should, "he experiences a solemn joy in seeing that he has become an idol.
" Plagued by the nightingale in the new leaves, with its silence -- not its silence but its silences, he says of it: "It clothes me with a shirt of fire.
" "He dares not clap his hands to make it go on lest it should fly off; if he does nothing, it will sleep; if he cries out, it will not understand.
" Unnerved by the nightingale and dazzled by the apple, impelled by "the illusion of a fire effectual to extinguish fire," compared with which the shining of the earth is but deformity -- a fire "as high as deep as bright as broad as long as life itself," he stumbles over marriage, "a very trivial object indeed" to have destroyed the attitude in which he stood -- the ease of the philosopher unfathered by a woman.
Unhelpful Hymen! "a kind of overgrown cupid" reduced to insignificance by the mechanical advertising parading as involuntary comment, by that experiment of Adam's with ways out but no way in -- the ritual of marriage, augmenting all its lavishness; its fiddle-head ferns, lotus flowers, opuntias, white dromedaries, its hippopotamus -- nose and mouth combined in one magnificent hopper, "the crested screamer -- that huge bird almost a lizard," its snake and the potent apple.
He tells us that "for love that will gaze an eagle blind, that is like a Hercules climbing the trees in the garden of the Hesperides, from forty-five to seventy is the best age," commending it as a fine art, as an experiment, a duty or as merely recreation.
One must not call him ruffian nor friction a calamity -- the fight to be affectionate: "no truth can be fully known until it has been tried by the tooth of disputation.
" The blue panther with black eyes, the basalt panther with blue eyes, entirely graceful -- one must give them the path -- the black obsidian Diana who "darkeneth her countenance as a bear doth, causing her husband to sigh," the spiked hand that has an affection for one and proves it to the bone, impatient to assure you that impatience is the mark of independence not of bondage.
"Married people often look that way" -- "seldom and cold, up and down, mixed and malarial with a good day and bad.
" "When do we feed?" We occidentals are so unemotional, we quarrel as we feed; one's self is quite lost, the irony preserved in "the Ahasuerus t?te ? t?te banquet" with its "good monster, lead the way," with little laughter and munificence of humor in that quixotic atmosphere of frankness in which "Four o'clock does not exist but at five o'clock the ladies in their imperious humility are ready to receive you"; in which experience attests that men have power and sometimes one is made to feel it.
He says, "what monarch would not blush to have a wife with hair like a shaving-brush? The fact of woman is not `the sound of the flute but every poison.
'" She says, "`Men are monopolists of stars, garters, buttons and other shining baubles' -- unfit to be the guardians of another person's happiness.
" He says, "These mummies must be handled carefully -- `the crumbs from a lion's meal, a couple of shins and the bit of an ear'; turn to the letter M and you will find that `a wife is a coffin,' that severe object with the pleasing geometry stipulating space and not people, refusing to be buried and uniquely disappointing, revengefully wrought in the attitude of an adoring child to a distinguished parent.
" She says, "This butterfly, this waterfly, this nomad that has `proposed to settle on my hand for life.
' -- What can one do with it? There must have been more time in Shakespeare's day to sit and watch a play.
You know so many artists are fools.
" He says, "You know so many fools who are not artists.
" The fact forgot that "some have merely rights while some have obligations," he loves himself so much, he can permit himself no rival in that love.
She loves herself so much, she cannot see herself enough -- a statuette of ivory on ivory, the logical last touch to an expansive splendor earned as wages for work done: one is not rich but poor when one can always seem so right.
What can one do for them -- these savages condemned to disaffect all those who are not visionaries alert to undertake the silly task of making people noble? This model of petrine fidelity who "leaves her peaceful husband only because she has seen enough of him" -- that orator reminding you, "I am yours to command.
" "Everything to do with love is mystery; it is more than a day's work to investigate this science.
" One sees that it is rare -- that striking grasp of opposites opposed each to the other, not to unity, which in cycloid inclusiveness has dwarfed the demonstration of Columbus with the egg -- a triumph of simplicity -- that charitive Euroclydon of frightening disinterestedness which the world hates, admitting: "I am such a cow, if I had a sorrow, I should feel it a long time; I am not one of those who have a great sorrow in the morning and a great joy at noon;" which says: "I have encountered it among those unpretentious proteg?s of wisdom, where seeming to parade as the debater and the Roman, the statesmanship of an archaic Daniel Webster persists to their simplicity of temper as the essence of the matter: `Liberty and union now and forever;' the book on the writing-table; the hand in the breast-pocket.
"

Written by Philip Levine |

The Negatives

 On March 1, 1958, four deserters from the French Army of North Africa, 
August Rein, Henri Bruette, Jack Dauville, & Thomas Delain, robbed a 
government pay station at Orleansville.
Because of the subsequent confession of Dauville the other three were captured or shot.
Dauville was given his freedom and returned to the land of his birth, the U.
S.
A.
AUGUST REIN: from a last camp near St.
Remy I dig in the soft earth all afternoon, spacing the holes a foot or so from the wall.
Tonight we eat potatoes, tomorrow rice and carrots.
The earth here is like the earth nowhere, ancient with wood rot.
How can anything come forth, I wonder; and the days are all alike, if there is more than one day.
If there is more of this I will not endure.
I have grown so used to being watched I can no longer sleep without my watcher.
The thing I fought against, the dark cape, crimsoned with terror that I so hated comforts me now.
Thomas is dead; insanity, prison, cowardice, or slow inner capitulation has found us all, and all men turn from us, knowing our pain is not theirs or caused by them.
HENRI BRUETTE: from a hospital in Algiers Dear Suzanne: this letter will not reach you because I can't write it; I have no pencil, no paper, only the blunt end of my anger.
My dear, if I had words how could I report the imperfect failure for which I began to die? I might begin by saying that it was for clarity, though I did not find it in terror: dubiously entered each act, unsure of who I was and what I did, touching my face for fear I was another inside my head I played back pictures of my childhood, of my wife even, for it was in her I found myself beaten, safe, and furthest from the present.
It is her face I see now though all I say is meant for you, her face in the slow agony of sexual release.
I cannot see you.
The dark wall ribbed with spittle on which I play my childhood brings me to this bed, mastered by what I was, betrayed by those I trusted.
The one word my mouth must open to is why.
JACK DAUVILLE: from a hotel in Tampa, Florida From Orleansville we drove south until we reached the hills, then east until the road stopped.
I was nervous and couldn't eat.
Thomas took over, told us when to think and when to shit.
We turned north and reached Blida by first dawn and the City by morning, having dumped our weapons beside an empty road.
We were free.
We parted, and to this hour I haven't seen them, except in photographs: the black hair and torn features of Thomas Delain captured a moment before his death on the pages of the world, smeared in the act.
I tortured myself with their betrayal: alone I hurled them into freedom, inner freedom which I can't find nor ever will until they are dead.
In my mind Delain stands against the wall precise in detail, steadied for the betrayal.
"La France C'Est Moi," he cried, but the irony was lost.
Since I returned to the U.
S.
nothing goes well.
I stay up too late, don't sleep, and am losing weight.
Thomas, I say, is dead, but what use telling myself what I won't believe.
The hotel quiets early at night, the aged brace themselves for another sleep, and offshore the sea quickens its pace.
I am suddenly old, caught in a strange country for which no man would die.
THOMAS DELAIN: from a journal found on his person At night wakened by the freight trains boring through the suburbs of Lyon, I watched first light corrode the darkness, disturb what little wildlife was left in the alleys: birds moved from branch to branch, and the dogs leapt at the garbage.
Winter numbed even the hearts of the young who had only their hearts.
We heard the war coming; the long wait was over, and we moved along the crowded roads south not looking for what lost loves fell by the roadsides.
To flee at all cost, that was my youth.
Here in the African night wakened by what I do not know and shivering in the heat, listen as the men fight with sleep.
Loosed from their weapons they cry out, frightened and young, who have never been children.
Once merely to be strong, to live, was moral.
Within these uniforms we accept the evil we were chosen to deliver, and no act human or benign can free us from ourselves.
Wait, sleep, blind soldiers of a blind will, and listen for that old command dreaming of authority.

Written by Robert William Service |

The Living Dead

 Since I have come to years sedate
I see with more and more acumen
The bitter irony of Fate,
The vanity of all things human.
Why, just to-day some fellow said, As I surveyed Fame's outer portal: "By gad! I thought that you were dead.
" Poor me, who dreamed to be immortal! But that's the way with many men Whose name one fancied time-defying; We thought that they were dust and then We found them living by their dying.
Like dogs we penmen have our day, To brief best-sellerdom elected; And then, "thumbs down," we slink away And die forgotten and neglected.
Ah well, my lyric fling I've had; A thousand bits of verse I've minted; And some, alas! were very bad, And some, alack! were best unprinted.
But if I've made my muse a bawd (Since I am earthy as a ditch is), I'll answer humbly to my God: Most men at times have toyed with bitches.
Yes, I have played with Lady Rhyme, And had a long and lovely innings; And when the Umpire calls my time I'll blandly quit and take my winnings.
I'll hie me to some Sleepydale, And feed the ducks and pat the poodles, And prime my paunch with cakes and ale, And blether with the village noodles.
And then some day you'll idly scan The Times obituary column, And say: "Dear me, the poor old man!" And for a moment you'll look solemn.
"So all this time he's been alive - In realms of rhyme a second-rater .
.
.
But gad! to live to ninety-five: Let's toast his ghost - a sherry, waiter!"

Written by Vachel Lindsay |

The Tale of the Tiger-Tree

 A Fantasy, dedicated to the little poet Alice Oliver Henderson, ten years old.
The Fantasy shows how tiger-hearts are the cause of war in all ages.
It shows how the mammoth forces may be either friends or enemies of the struggle for peace.
It shows how the dream of peace is unconquerable and eternal.
I Peace-of-the-Heart, my own for long, Whose shining hair the May-winds fan, Making it tangled as they can, A mystery still, star-shining yet, Through ancient ages known to me And now once more reborn with me: — This is the tale of the Tiger Tree A hundred times the height of a man, Lord of the race since the world began.
This is my city Springfield, My home on the breast of the plain.
The state house towers to heaven, By an arsenal gray as the rain.
.
.
And suddenly all is mist, And I walk in a world apart, In the forest-age when I first knelt down At your feet, O Peace-of-the-Heart.
This is the wonder of twilight: Three times as high as the dome Tiger-striped trees encircle the town, Golden geysers of foam.
While giant white parrots sail past in their pride.
The roofs now are clouds and storms that they ride.
And there with the huntsmen of mound-builder days Through jungle and meadow I stride.
And the Tiger Tree leaf is falling around As it fell when the world began: Like a monstrous tiger-skin, stretched on the ground, Or the cloak of a medicine man.
A deep-crumpled gossamer web, Fringed with the fangs of a snake.
The wind swirls it down from the leperous boughs.
It shimmers on clay-hill and lake, With the gleam of great bubbles of blood, Or coiled like a rainbow shell.
.
.
.
I feast on the stem of the Leaf as I march.
I am burning with Heaven and Hell.
II The gray king died in his hour.
Then we crowned you, the prophetess wise: Peace-of-the-Heart we deeply adored For the witchcraft hid in your eyes.
Gift from the sky, overmastering all, You sent forth your magical parrots to call The plot-hatching prince of the tigers, To your throne by the red-clay wall.
Thus came that genius insane: Spitting and slinking, Sneering and vain, He sprawled to your grassy throne, drunk on The Leaf, The drug that was cunning and splendor and grief.
He had fled from the mammoth by day, He had blasted the mammoth by night, War was his drunkenness, War was his dreaming, War was his love and his play.
And he hissed at your heavenly glory While his councillors snarled in delight, Asking in irony: "What shall we learn From this whisperer, fragile and white?" And had you not been an enchantress They would not have loitered to mock Nor spared your white parrots who walked by their paws With bantering venturesome talk.
You made a white fire of The Leaf.
You sang while the tiger-chiefs hissed.
You chanted of "Peace to the wonderful world.
" And they saw you in dazzling mist.
And their steps were no longer insane, Kindness came down like the rain, They dreamed that like fleet young ponies they feasted On succulent grasses and grain.
Then came the black-mammoth chief: Long-haired and shaggy and great, Proud and sagacious he marshalled his court: (You had sent him your parrots of state.
) His trunk in rebellion upcurled, A curse at the tiger he hurled.
Huge elephants trumpeted there by his side, And mastodon-chiefs of the world.
But higher magic began.
For the turbulent vassals of man.
You harnessed their fever, you conquered their ire, Their hearts turned to flowers through holy desire, For their darling and star you were crowned, And their raging demons were bound.
You rode on the back of the yellow-streaked king, His loose neck was wreathed with a mistletoe ring.
Primordial elephants loomed by your side, And our clay-painted children danced by your path, Chanting the death of the kingdoms of wrath.
You wrought until night with us all.
The fierce brutes fawned at your call, Then slipped to their lairs, song-chained.
And thus you sang sweetly, and reigned: "Immortal is the inner peace, free to beasts and men.
Beginning in the darkness, the mystery will conquer, And now it comforts every heart that seeks for love again.
And now the mammoth bows the knee, We hew down every Tiger Tree, We send each tiger bound in love and glory to his den, Bound in love.
.
.
and wisdom.
.
.
and glory,.
.
.
to his den.
" III "Beware of the trumpeting swine," Came the howl from the northward that night.
Twice-rebel tigers warning was still If we held not beside them it boded us ill.
From the parrots translating the cry, And the apes in the trees came the whine: "Beware of the trumpeting swine.
Beware of the faith of a mammoth.
" "Beware of the faith of a tiger," Came the roar from the southward that night.
Trumpeting mammoths warning us still If we held not beside them it boded us ill.
The frail apes wailed to us all, The parrots reëchoed the call: "Beware of the faith of a tiger.
" From the heights of the forest the watchers could see The tiger-cats crunching the Leaf of the Tree Lashing themselves, and scattering foam, Killing our huntsmen, hurrying home.
The chiefs of the mammoths our mastery spurned, And eastward restlessly fumed and burned.
The peacocks squalled out the news of their drilling And told how they trampled, maneuvered, and turned.
Ten thousand man-hating tigers Whirling down from the north, like a flood! Ten thousand mammoths oncoming From the south as avengers of blood! Our child-queen was mourning, her magic was dead, The roots of the Tiger Tree reeking with red.
IV This is the tale of the Tiger Tree A hundred times the height of a man, Lord of the race since the world began.
We marched to the mammoths, We pledged them our steel, And scorning you, sang: — "We are men, We are men.
" We mounted their necks, And they stamped a wide reel.
We sang: "We are fighting the hell-cats again, We are mound-builder men, We are elephant men.
" We left you there, lonely, Beauty your power, Wisdom your watchman, To hold the clay tower.
While the black-mammoths boomed — "You are elephant men, Men, Men, Elephant men.
" The dawn-winds prophesied battles untold.
While the Tiger Trees roared of the glories of old, Of the masterful spirits and hard.
The drunken cats came in their joy In the sunrise, a glittering wave.
"We are tigers, are tigers," they yowled.
"Down, Down, Go the swine to the grave.
" But we tramp Tramp Trampled them there, Then charged with our sabres and spears.
The swish of the sabre, The swish of the sabre, Was a marvellous tune in our ears.
We yelled "We are men, We are men.
" As we bled to death in the sun.
.
.
.
Then staunched our horrible wounds With the cry that the battle was won.
.
.
.
And at last, When the black-mammoth legion Split the night with their song: — "Right is braver than wrong, Right is stronger than wrong," The buzzards came taunting: "Down from the north Tiger-nations are sweeping along.
" Then we ate of the ravening Leaf As our savage fathers of old.
No longer our wounds made us weak, No longer our pulses were cold.
Though half of my troops were afoot, (For the great who had borne them were slain) We dreamed we were tigers, and leaped And foamed with that vision insane.
We cried "We are soldiers of doom, Doom, Sabres of glory and doom.
" We wreathed the king of the mammoths In the tiger-leaves' terrible bloom.
We flattered the king of the mammoths, Loud-rattling sabres and spears.
The swish of the sabre, The swish of the sabre, Was a marvellous tune in his ears.
V This was the end of the battle.
The tigers poured by in a tide Over us all with their caterwaul call, "We are the tigers," They cried.
"We are the sabres," They cried.
But we laughed while our blades swept wide, While the dawn-rays stabbed through the gloom.
"We are suns on fire" was our yell — "Suns on fire.
".
.
.
But man-child and mastodon fell, Mammoth and elephant fell.
The fangs of the devil-cats closed on the world, Plunged it to blackness and doom.
The desolate red-clay wall Echoed the parrots' call: — "Immortal is the inner peace, free to beasts and men.
Beginning in the darkness, the mystery will conquer, And now it comforts every heart that seeks for love again.
And now the mammoth bows the knee, We hew down every Tiger Tree, We send each tiger bound in love and glory to his den, Bound in love.
.
.
and wisdom.
.
.
and glory,.
.
.
to his den.
" A peacock screamed of his beauty On that broken wall by the trees, Chiding his little mate, Spreading his fans in the breeze.
.
.
And you, with eyes of a bride, Knelt on the wall at my side, The deathless song in your mouth.
.
.
A million new tigers swept south.
.
.
As we laughed at the peacock, and died.
This is my vision in Springfield: Three times as high as the dome, Tiger-striped trees encircle the town, Golden geysers of foam; — Though giant white parrots sail past, giving voice, Though I walk with Peace-of-the-Heart and rejoice.

Written by Edwin Arlington Robinson |

Late Summer

 (ALCAICS)


Confused, he found her lavishing feminine 
Gold upon clay, and found her inscrutable; 
And yet she smiled.
Why, then, should horrors Be as they were, without end, her playthings? And why were dead years hungrily telling her Lies of the dead, who told them again to her? If now she knew, there might be kindness Clamoring yet where a faith lay stifled.
A little faith in him, and the ruinous Past would be for time to annihilate, And wash out, like a tide that washes Out of the sand what a child has drawn there.
God, what a shining handful of happiness, Made out of days and out of eternities, Were now the pulsing end of patience— Could he but have what a ghost had stolen! What was a man before him, or ten of them, While he was here alive who could answer them, And in their teeth fling confirmations Harder than agates against an egg-shell? But now the man was dead, and would come again Never, though she might honor ineffably The flimsy wraith of him she conjured Out of a dream with his wand of absence.
And if the truth were now but a mummery, Meriting pride’s implacable irony, So much the worse for pride.
Moreover, Save her or fail, there was conscience always.
Meanwhile, a few misgivings of innocence, Imploring to be sheltered and credited, Were not amiss when she revealed them.
Whether she struggled or not, he saw them.
Also, he saw that while she was hearing him Her eyes had more and more of the past in them; And while he told what cautious honor Told him was all he had best be sure of, He wondered once or twice, inadvertently, Where shifting winds were driving his argosies, Long anchored and as long unladen, Over the foam for the golden chances.
“If men were not for killing so carelessly, And women were for wiser endurances,” He said, “we might have yet a world here Fitter for Truth to be seen abroad in; “If Truth were not so strange in her nakedness, And we were less forbidden to look at it, We might not have to look.
” He stared then Down at the sand where the tide threw forward Its cold, unconquered lines, that unceasingly Foamed against hope, and fell.
He was calm enough, Although he knew he might be silenced Out of all calm; and the night was coming.
“I climb for you the peak of his infamy That you may choose your fall if you cling to it.
No more for me unless you say more.
All you have left of a dream defends you: “The truth may be as evil an augury As it was needful now for the two of us.
We cannot have the dead between us.
Tell me to go, and I go.
”—She pondered: “What you believe is right for the two of us Makes it as right that you are not one of us.
If this be needful truth you tell me, Spare me, and let me have lies hereafter.
” She gazed away where shadows were covering The whole cold ocean’s healing indifference.
No ship was coming.
When the darkness Fell, she was there, and alone, still gazing.

Written by Billy Collins |

Marginalia

 Sometimes the notes are ferocious,
skirmishes against the author
raging along the borders of every page
in tiny black script.
If I could just get my hands on you, Kierkegaard, or Conor Cruise O'Brien, they seem to say, I would bolt the door and beat some logic into your head.
Other comments are more offhand, dismissive - "Nonsense.
" "Please!" "HA!!" - that kind of thing.
I remember once looking up from my reading, my thumb as a bookmark, trying to imagine what the person must look like why wrote "Don't be a ninny" alongside a paragraph in The Life of Emily Dickinson.
Students are more modest needing to leave only their splayed footprints along the shore of the page.
One scrawls "Metaphor" next to a stanza of Eliot's.
Another notes the presence of "Irony" fifty times outside the paragraphs of A Modest Proposal.
Or they are fans who cheer from the empty bleachers, Hands cupped around their mouths.
"Absolutely," they shout to Duns Scotus and James Baldwin.
"Yes.
" "Bull's-eye.
" "My man!" Check marks, asterisks, and exclamation points rain down along the sidelines.
And if you have managed to graduate from college without ever having written "Man vs.
Nature" in a margin, perhaps now is the time to take one step forward.
We have all seized the white perimeter as our own and reached for a pen if only to show we did not just laze in an armchair turning pages; we pressed a thought into the wayside, planted an impression along the verge.
Even Irish monks in their cold scriptoria jotted along the borders of the Gospels brief asides about the pains of copying, a bird signing near their window, or the sunlight that illuminated their page- anonymous men catching a ride into the future on a vessel more lasting than themselves.
And you have not read Joshua Reynolds, they say, until you have read him enwreathed with Blake's furious scribbling.
Yet the one I think of most often, the one that dangles from me like a locket, was written in the copy of Catcher in the Rye I borrowed from the local library one slow, hot summer.
I was just beginning high school then, reading books on a davenport in my parents' living room, and I cannot tell you how vastly my loneliness was deepened, how poignant and amplified the world before me seemed, when I found on one page A few greasy looking smears and next to them, written in soft pencil- by a beautiful girl, I could tell, whom I would never meet- "Pardon the egg salad stains, but I'm in love.
"

Written by Ellis Parker Butler |

The Ballad Of A Bachelor

 Listen, ladies, while I sing
The ballad of John Henry King.
John Henry was a bachelor, His age was thirty-three or four.
Two maids for his affection vied, And each desired to be his bride, And bravely did they strive to bring Unto their feet John Henry King.
John Henry liked them both so well, To save his life he could not tell Which he most wished to be his bride, Nor was he able to decide.
Fair Kate was jolly, bright, and gay, And sunny as a summer day; Marie was kind, sedate, and sweet, With gentle ways and manners neat.
Each was so dear that John confessed He could not tell which he liked best.
He studied them for quite a year, And still found no solution near, And might have studied two years more Had he not, walking on the shore, Conceived a very simple way Of ending his prolonged delay-- A way in which he might decide Which of the maids should be his bride.
He said, "I'll toss into the air A dollar, and I'll toss it fair; If heads come up, I'll wed Marie; If tails, fair Kate my bride shall be.
" Then from his leather pocket-book A dollar bright and new he took; He kissed one side for fair Marie, The other side for Kate kissed he.
Then in a manner free and fair He tossed the dollar in the air.
"Ye fates," he cried, "pray let this be A lucky throw indeed for me!" The dollar rose, the dollar fell; He watched its whirling transit well, And off some twenty yards or more The dollar fell upon the shore.
John Henry ran to where it struck To see which maiden was in luck.
But, oh, the irony of fate! Upon its edge the coin stood straight! And there, embedded in the sand, John Henry let the dollar stand! And he will tempt his fate no more, But live and die a bachelor.
Thus, ladies, you have heard me sing The ballad of John Henry King.

Written by Rudyard Kipling |

The Man Who Could Write

 Boanerges Blitzen, servant of the Queen,
Is a dismal failure -- is a Might-have-been.
In a luckless moment he discovered men Rise to high position through a ready pen.
Boanerges Blitzen argued therefore -- "I, With the selfsame weapon, can attain as high.
" Only he did not possess when he made the trial, Wicked wit of C-lv-n, irony of L--l.
[Men who spar with Government need, to back their blows, Something more than ordinary journalistic prose.
] Never young Civilian's prospects were so bright, Till an Indian paper found that he could write: Never young Civilian's prospects were so dark, When the wretched Blitzen wrote to make his mark.
Certainly he scored it, bold, and black, and firm, In that Indian paper -- made his seniors squirm, Quated office scandals, wrote the tactless truth -- Was there ever known a more misguided youth? When the Rag he wrote for praised his plucky game, Boanerges Blitzen felt that this was Fame; When the men he wrote of shook their heads and swore, Boanerges Blitzen only wrote the more: Posed as Young Ithuriel, resolute and grim, Till he found promotion didn't come to him; Till he found that reprimands weekly were his lot, And his many Districts curiously hot.
Till he found his furlough strangely hard to win, Boanerges Blitzen didn't care to pin: Then it seemed to dawn on him something wasn't right -- Boanerges Blitzen put it down to "spite"; Languished in a District desolate and dry; Watched the Local Government yearly pass him by; Wondered where the hitch was; called it most unfair.
.
.
.
.
.
That was seven years ago -- and he still is there!

Written by Emily Dickinson |

That this should feel the need of Death

 That this should feel the need of Death
The same as those that lived
Is such a Feat of Irony
As never was -- achieved --

Not satisfied to ape the Great
In his simplicity
The small must die, as well as He --
Oh the Audacity --

Written by Barry Tebb |

TO MY WIFE

 I

You buy my freedom with your love.
With every book you catalogue or stamp My imagination hacks a strand from the hawser That for three years has held it In the grubbing estuary of mud and time.
Your early waking with tired eyes And late return at evening, all Contribute to the store of images I love you for: the irony being Your job is worse than mine Your talent more.
II I do not understand myself, the time, or you.
I cannot comprehend our love, shot through Like flying silk with flashes of gold light And the tattered backcloth of suffering.
Each night I remember our meeting; My hair ‘like iron wire’, the grey dust In the air of my house, the exact place On the carpet where I kissed you And how we talked on and on, Too much in love for love, Until the night was gone.
III We acted out our love By nearly going mad, Gave up the jobs we had To take a cottage on the moors At less than garage rent.
For food we learned to pledge our dreams And found, too late, the world redeems What it had lent.
By night the world unpicked The dream we wove by day, Each dawn we woke to find The stitching come away.
IV Two creatures from a bestiary Besieged our dream: A neighbour’s one-eyed cat That prowled outside to bring Its witch-like owner With her tapping stick.
Was the Bach we played too loud for her deaf ears, Or was it our love that howled her silence home? V We have re-built that house With blood.
We have sculptured that dream In stone.

Written by Amy Lowell |

Irony

 An arid daylight shines along the beach
Dried to a grey monotony of tone,
And stranded jelly-fish melt soft upon
The sun-baked pebbles, far beyond their reach
Sparkles a wet, reviving sea.
Here bleach The skeletons of fishes, every bone Polished and stark, like traceries of stone, The joints and knuckles hardened each to each.
And they are dead while waiting for the sea, The moon-pursuing sea, to come again.
Their hearts are blown away on the hot breeze.
Only the shells and stones can wait to be Washed bright.
For living things, who suffer pain, May not endure till time can bring them ease.

Written by David Herbert Lawrence |

Irony

 Always, sweetheart,
Carry into your room the blossoming boughs of cherry,
Almond and apple and pear diffuse with light, that very
Soon strews itself on the floor; and keep the radiance of spring
Fresh quivering; keep the sunny-swift March-days waiting
In a little throng at your door, and admit the one who is plaiting
Her hair for womanhood, and play awhile with her, then bid her depart.
A come and go of March-day loves Through the flower-vine, trailing screen; A fluttering in of doves.
Then a launch abroad of shrinking doves Over the waste where no hope is seen Of open hands: Dance in and out Small-bosomed girls of the spring of love, With a bubble of laughter, and shrilly shout Of mirth; then the dripping of tears on your glove.

Written by John Crowe Ransom |

Painted Head

 By dark severance the apparition head 
Smiles from the air a capital on no 
Column or a Platonic perhaps head 
On a canvas sky depending from nothing; 

Stirs up an old illusion of grandeur 
By tickling the instinct of heads to be 
Absolute and to try decapitation 
And to play truant from the body bush; 

But too happy and beautiful for those sorts 
Of head (homekeeping heads are happiest) 
Discovers maybe thirty unwidowed years 
Of not dishonoring the faithful stem; 

Is nameless and has authored for the evil 
Historian headhunters neither book 
Nor state and is therefore distinct from tart 
Heads with crowns and guilty gallery heads; 

Wherefore the extravagant device of art 
Unhousing by abstraction this once head 
Was capital irony by a loving hand 
That knew the no treason of a head like this; 

Makes repentance in an unlovely head 
For having vinegarly traduced the flesh 
Till, the hurt flesh recusing, the hard egg 
Is shrunken to its own deathlike surface; 

And an image thus.
The body bears the head (So hardly one they terribly are two) Feeds and obeys and unto please what end? Not to the glory of tyrant head but to The estate of body.
Beauty is of body.
The flesh contouring shallowly on a head Is a rock-garden needing body's love And best bodiness to colorify The big blue birds sitting and sea-shell cats And caves, and on the iron acropolis To spread the hyacinthine hair and rear The olive garden for the nightingales.

Written by Robert William Service |

My Husbands

 My first I wed when just sixteen
And he was sixty-five.
He treated me like any queen The years he was alive.
Oh I betrayed him on the sly, Like any other bitch, and how I longed for him to die And leave me young and rich! My second is a gigolo I took when I was old; That he deceives me well I know, And hungers for my gold.
When I adore each silken hair That crowns his handsome head, I'm everlastingly aware He wishes I were dead.
How I would love my vieux if he Today were by my side; My gig would have been daft for me When I was first a bride.
But for his mother I can pass, Although I am his wife; Like father was my first - alas! The irony of life.