Pablo Neruda |
I do not love you except because I love you;
I go from loving to not loving you,
From waiting to not waiting for you
My heart moves from cold to fire.
I love you only because it's you the one I love;
I hate you deeply, and hating you
Bend to you, and the measure of my changing love for you
Is that I do not see you but love you blindly.
Maybe January light will consume
My heart with its cruel
Ray, stealing my key to true calm.
In this part of the story I am the one who
Dies, the only one, and I will die of love because I love you,
Because I love you, Love, in fire and blood.
Robert William Service |
(16th January 1949)
I thank whatever gods may be
For all the happiness that's mine;
That I am festive, fit and free
To savour women, wit and wine;
That I may game of golf enjoy,
And have a formidable drive:
In short, that I'm a gay old boy
Though I be
My daughter thinks.
because I'm old
(I'm not a crock, when all is said),
I mustn't let my feet get cold,
And should wear woollen socks in bed;
A worsted night-cap too, forsooth!
To humour her I won't contrive:
A man is in his second youth
When he is
At four-score years old age begins,
And not till then, I warn my wife;
At eighty I'll recant my sins,
And live a staid and sober life.
But meantime let me whoop it up,
And tell the world that I'm alive:
Fill to the brim the bubbly cup -
Here's health to
Robert Frost |
Brown lived at such a lofty farm
That everyone for miles could see
His lantern when he did his chores
In winter after half-past three.
And many must have seen him make
His wild descent from there one night,
’Cross lots, ’cross walls, ’cross everything,
Describing rings of lantern light.
Between the house and barn the gale
Got him by something he had on
And blew him out on the icy crust
That cased the world, and he was gone!
Walls were all buried, trees were few:
He saw no stay unless he stove
A hole in somewhere with his heel.
But though repeatedly he strove
And stamped and said things to himself,
And sometimes something seemed to yield,
He gained no foothold, but pursued
His journey down from field to field.
Sometimes he came with arms outspread
Like wings, revolving in the scene
Upon his longer axis, and
With no small dignity of mien.
Faster or slower as he chanced,
Sitting or standing as he chose,
According as he feared to risk
His neck, or thought to spare his clothes,
He never let the lantern drop.
And some exclaimed who saw afar
The figures he described with it,
”I wonder what those signals are
Brown makes at such an hour of night!
He’s celebrating something strange.
I wonder if he’s sold his farm,
Or been made Master of the Grange.
He reeled, he lurched, he bobbed, he checked;
He fell and made the lantern rattle
(But saved the light from going out.
So half-way down he fought the battle
Incredulous of his own bad luck.
And then becoming reconciled
To everything, he gave it up
And came down like a coasting child.
“Well—I—be—” that was all he said,
As standing in the river road,
He looked back up the slippery slope
(Two miles it was) to his abode.
Sometimes as an authority
On motor-cars, I’m asked if I
Should say our stock was petered out,
And this is my sincere reply:
Yankees are what they always were.
Don’t think Brown ever gave up hope
Of getting home again because
He couldn’t climb that slippery slope;
Or even thought of standing there
Until the January thaw
Should take the polish off the crust.
He bowed with grace to natural law,
And then went round it on his feet,
After the manner of our stock;
Not much concerned for those to whom,
At that particular time o’clock,
It must have looked as if the course
He steered was really straight away
From that which he was headed for—
Not much concerned for them, I say:
No more so than became a man—
And politician at odd seasons.
I’ve kept Brown standing in the cold
While I invested him with reasons;
But now he snapped his eyes three times;
Then shook his lantern, saying, “Ile’s
’Bout out!” and took the long way home
By road, a matter of several miles.
More great poems below...
Wallace Stevens |
One must have a mind of winter
To regard the frost and the boughs
Of the pine-trees crusted with snow;
And have been cold a long time
To behold the junipers shagged with ice,
The spruces rough in the distant glitter
Of the January sun; and not to think
Of any misery in the sound of the wind,
In the sound of a few leaves,
Which is the sound of the land
Full of the same wind
That is blowing in the same bare place
For the listener, who listens in the snow,
And, nothing himself, beholds
Nothing that is not there and the nothing that is.
William Carlos (WCW) Williams |
A middle-northern March, now as always—
gusts from the South broken against cold winds—
but from under, as if a slow hand lifted a tide,
it moves—not into April—into a second March,
the old skin of wind-clear scales dropping
upon the mold: this is the shadow projects the tree
upward causing the sun to shine in his sphere.
So we will put on our pink felt hat—new last year!
—newer this by virtue of brown eyes turning back
the seasons—and let us walk to the orchid-house,
see the flowers will take the prize tomorrow
at the Palace.
Stop here, these are our oleanders.
When they are in bloom—
You would waste words
It is clearer to me than if the pink
were on the branch.
It would be a searching in
a colored cloud to reveal that which now, huskless,
shows the very reason for their being.
And these the orange-trees, in blossom—no need
to tell with this weight of perfume in the air.
If it were not so dark in this shed one could better
see the white.
It is that very perfume
has drawn the darkness down among the leaves.
Do I speak clearly enough?
It is this darkness reveals that which darkness alone
loosens and sets spinning on waxen wings—
not the touch of a finger-tip, not the motion
of a sigh.
A too heavy sweetness proves
its own caretaker.
And here are the orchids!
Never having seen
such gaiety I will read these flowers for you:
This is an odd January, died—in Villon's time.
Snow, this is and this the stain of a violet
grew in that place the spring that foresaw its own doom.
And this, a certain July from Iceland:
a young woman of that place
breathed it toward the South.
It took root there.
The color ran true but the plant is small.
This falling spray of snow-flakes is
a handful of dead Februaries
prayed into flower by Rafael Arevalo Martinez
Here's that old friend who
went by my side so many years: this full, fragile
head of veined lavender.
Oh that April
that we first went with our stiff lusts
leaving the city behind, out to the green hill—
May, they said she was.
A hand for all of us:
this branch of blue butterflies tied to this stem.
June is a yellow cup I'll not name; August
the over-heavy one.
And here are—
russet and shiny, all but March.
Flowers are a tiresome pastime.
One has a wish to shake them from their pots
root and stem, for the sun to gnaw.
Walk out again into the cold and saunter home
to the fire.
This day has blossomed long enough.
I have wiped out the red night and lit a blaze
instead which will at least warm our hands
and stir up the talk.
I think we have kept fair time.
Time is a green orchard.
Patrick Kavanagh |
We have tested and tasted too much, lover-
Through a chink too wide there comes in no wonder.
But here in the Advent-darkened room
Where the dry black bread and the sugarless tea
Of penance will charm back the luxury
Of a child's soul, we'll return to Doom
The knowledge we stole but could not use.
And the newness that was in every stale thing
When we looked at it as children: the spirit-shocking
Wonder in a black slanting Ulster hill
Or the prophetic astonishment in the tedious talking
Of an old fool will awake for us and bring
You and me to the yard gate to watch the whins
And the bog-holes, cart-tracks, old stables where Time begins.
O after Christmas we'll have no need to go searching
For the difference that sets an old phrase burning-
We'll hear it in the whispered argument of a churning
Or in the streets where the village boys are lurching.
And we'll hear it among decent men too
Who barrow dung in gardens under trees,
Wherever life pours ordinary plenty.
Won't we be rich, my love and I, and
God we shall not ask for reason's payment,
The why of heart-breaking strangeness in dreeping hedges
Nor analyse God's breath in common statement.
We have thrown into the dust-bin the clay-minted wages
Of pleasure, knowledge and the conscious hour-
And Christ comes with a January flower.
Richard Brautigan |
I don't care how God-damn smart
these guys are: I'm bored.
It's been raining like hell all day long
and there's nothing to do.
Written January 24, 1967
while poet-in-residence at
the California Institute of
Eavan Boland |
These are outsiders, always.
these iron inklings of an Irish January,
whose light happened
thousands of years before
our pain did; they are, they have always been
They keep their distance.
Under them remains
a place where you found
you were human, and
a landscape in which you know you are mortal.
And a time to choose between them.
I have chosen:
out of myth in history I move to be
part of that ordeal
who darkness is
only now reaching me from those fields,
those rivers, those roads clotted as
firmaments with the dead.
How slowly they die
as we kneel beside them, whisper in their ear.
And we are too late.
We are always too late.
Edwin Morgan |
My shadow --
I woke to a wind swirling the curtains light and dark
and the birds twittering on the roofs, I lay cold
in the early light in my room high over London.
What fear was it that made the wind sound like a fire
so that I got up and looked out half-asleep
at the calm rows of street-lights fading far below?
Only the wind blew.
But in the dream I woke from, you
came running through the traffic, tugging me, clinging
to my elbow, your eyes spoke
what I could not grasp --
Nothing, if you were here!
The wind of the early quiet
merges slowly now with a thousand rolling wheels.
The lights are out, the air is loud.
It is an ordinary January day.
My shadow, do you hear the streets?
Are you at my heels? Are you here?
And I throw back the sheets.
Emily Dickinson |
A Drunkard cannot meet a Cork
Without a Revery --
And so encountering a Fly
This January Day
Jamaicas of Remembrance stir
That send me reeling in --
The moderate drinker of Delight
Does not deserve the spring --
Of juleps, part are the Jug
And more are in the joy --
Your connoisseur in Liquours
Consults the Bumble Bee --
Ted Kooser |
Only one cell in the frozen hive of night
is lit, or so it seems to us:
this Vietnamese café, with its oily light,
its odors whose colorful shapes are like flowers.
Laughter and talking, the tick of chopsticks.
Beyond the glass, the wintry city
creaks like an ancient wooden bridge.
A great wind rushes under all of us.
The bigger the window, the more it trembles.
Sylvia Plath |
Perfection is terrible, it cannot have children.
Cold as snow breath, it tamps the womb
Where the yew trees blow like hydras,
The tree of life and the tree of life
Unloosing their moons, month after month, to no purpose.
The blood flood is the flood of love,
The absolute sacrifice.
It means: no more idols but me,
Me and you.
So, in their sulfur loveliness, in their smiles
These mannequins lean tonight
In Munich, morgue between Paris and Rome,
Naked and bald in their furs,
Orange lollies on silver sticks,
Intolerable, without mind.
The snow drops its pieces of darkness,
In the hotels
Hands will be opening doors and setting
Down shoes for a polish of carbon
Into which broad toes will go tomorrow.
O the domesticity of these windows,
The baby lace, the green-leaved confectionery,
The thick Germans slumbering in their bottomless Stolz.
And the black phones on hooks
Glittering and digesting
The snow has no voice.
28 January 1963
Robert Burns |
FOR lords or kings I dinna mourn,
E’en let them die-for that they’re born:
But oh! prodigious to reflec’!
A Towmont, sirs, is gane to wreck!
O Eighty-eight, in thy sma’ space,
What dire events hae taken place!
Of what enjoyments thou hast reft us!
In what a pickle thou has left us!
The Spanish empire’s tint a head,
And my auld teethless, Bawtie’s dead:
The tulyie’s teugh ’tween Pitt and Fox,
And ’tween our Maggie’s twa wee cocks;
The tane is game, a bluidy devil,
But to the hen-birds unco civil;
The tither’s something dour o’ treadin,
But better stuff ne’er claw’d a middin.
Ye ministers, come mount the poupit,
An’ cry till ye be hearse an’ roupit,
For Eighty-eight, he wished you weel,
An’ gied ye a’ baith gear an’ meal;
E’en monc a plack, and mony a peck,
Ye ken yoursels, for little feck!
Ye bonie lasses, dight your e’en,
For some o’ you hae tint a frien’;
In Eighty-eight, ye ken, was taen,
What ye’ll ne’er hae to gie again.
Observe the very nowt an’ sheep,
How dowff an’ daviely they creep;
Nay, even the yirth itsel’ does cry,
For E’nburgh wells are grutten dry.
O Eighty-nine, thou’s but a bairn,
An’ no owre auld, I hope, to learn!
Thou beardless boy, I pray tak care,
Thou now hast got thy Daddy’s chair;
Nae handcuff’d, mizl’d, hap-shackl’d Regent,
But, like himsel, a full free agent,
Be sure ye follow out the plan
Nae waur than he did, honest man!
As muckle better as you can.
January, 1, 1789.
Carl Sandburg |
TWO Swede families live downstairs and an Irish policeman upstairs, and an old soldier, Uncle Joe.
Two Swede boys go upstairs and see Joe.
His wife is dead, his only son is dead, and his two daughters in Missouri and Texas don’t want him around.
The boys and Uncle Joe crack walnuts with a hammer on the bottom of a flatiron while the January wind howls and the zero air weaves laces on the window glass.
Joe tells the Swede boys all about Chickamauga and Chattanooga, how the Union soldiers crept in rain somewhere a dark night and ran forward and killed many Rebels, took flags, held a hill, and won a victory told about in the histories in school.
Joe takes a piece of carpenter’s chalk, draws lines on the floor and piles stove wood to show where six regiments were slaughtered climbing a slope.
“Here they went” and “Here they went,” says Joe, and the January wind howls and the zero air weaves laces on the window glass.
The two Swede boys go downstairs with a big blur of guns, men, and hills in their heads.
They eat herring and potatoes and tell the family war is a wonder and soldiers are a wonder.
One breaks out with a cry at supper: I wish we had a war now and I could be a soldier.
Thomas Carew |
Now that the winter's gone, the earth hath lost
Her snow-white robes, and now no more the frost
Candies the grass, or casts an icy cream
Upon the silver lake or crystal stream;
But the warm sun thaws the benumbed earth,
And makes it tender; gives a sacred birth
To the dead swallow; wakes in hollow tree
The drowsy cuckoo and the humble-bee.
Now do a choir of chirping minstrels bring
In triumph to the world the youthful spring.
The valleys, hills, and woods in rich array
Welcome the coming of the long'd-for May.
Now all things smile; only my love doth lour;
Nor hath the scalding noonday sun the power
To melt that marble ice, which still doth hold
Her heart congeal'd, and makes her pity cold.
The ox, which lately did for shelter fly
Into the stall, doth now securely lie
In open fields; and love no more is made
By the fireside, but in the cooler shade
Amyntas now doth with his Chloris sleep
Under a sycamore, and all things keep
Time with the season; only she doth carry
June in her eyes, in her heart January.