Wang Wei |
I have sailed the River of Yellow Flowers,
Borne by the channel of a green stream,
Rounding ten thousand turns through the mountains
On a journey of less than thirty miles.
Rapids hum over heaped rocks;
But where light grows dim in the thick pines,
The surface of an inlet sways with nut-horns
And weeds are lush along the banks.
Down in my heart I have always been as pure
As this limpid water is.
Oh, to remain on a broad flat rock
And to cast a fishing-line forever!
Amy Lowell |
I know a country laced with roads,
They join the hills and they span the brooks,
They weave like a shuttle between broad fields,
And slide discreetly through hidden nooks.
They are canopied like a Persian dome
And carpeted with orient dyes.
They are myriad-voiced, and musical,
And scented with happiest memories.
O Winding roads that I know so well,
Every twist and turn, every hollow and hill!
They are set in my heart to a pulsing tune
Gay as a honey-bee humming in June.
'T is the rhythmic beat of a horse's feet
And the pattering paws of a sheep-dog bitch;
'T is the creaking trees, and the singing breeze,
And the rustle of leaves in the road-side ditch.
A cow in a meadow shakes her bell
And the notes cut sharp through the autumn air,
Each chattering brook bears a fleet of leaves
Their cargo the rainbow, and just now where
The sun splashed bright on the road ahead
A startled rabbit quivered and fled.
O Uphill roads and roads that dip down!
You curl your sun-spattered length along,
And your march is beaten into a song
By the softly ringing hoofs of a horse
And the panting breath of the dogs I love.
The pageant of Autumn follows its course
And the blue sky of Autumn laughs above.
And the song and the country become as one,
I see it as music, I hear it as light;
Prismatic and shimmering, trembling to tone,
The land of desire, my soul's delight.
And always it beats in my listening ears
With the gentle thud of a horse's stride,
With the swift-falling steps of many dogs,
Following, following at my side.
O Roads that journey to fairyland!
Radiant highways whose vistas gleam,
Leading me on, under crimson leaves,
To the opaline gates of the Castles of Dream.
Lucy Maud Montgomery |
Let those who will of friendship sing,
And to its guerdon grateful be,
But I a lyric garland bring
To crown thee, O, mine enemy!
Thanks, endless thanks, to thee I owe
For that my lifelong journey through
Thine honest hate has done for me
What love perchance had failed to do.
I had not scaled such weary heights
But that I held thy scorn in fear,
And never keenest lure might match
The subtle goading of thy sneer.
Thine anger struck from me a fire
That purged all dull content away,
Our mortal strife to me has been
Unflagging spur from day to day.
And thus, while all the world may laud
The gifts of love and loyalty,
I lay my meed of gratitude
Before thy feet, mine enemy!
More great poems below...
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.
Mary Darby Robinson |
PALE GODDESS of the witching hour;
Blest Contemplation's placid friend;
Oft in my solitary bow'r,
I mark thy lucid beam
From thy crystal car descend,
Whitening the spangled heath, and limpid sapphire stream.
And oft, amidst the shades of night
I court thy undulating light;
When Fairies dance around the verdant ring,
Or frisk beside the bubbling spring,
When the thoughtless SHEPHERD'S song
Echoes thro' the silent air,
As he pens his fleecy care,
Or plods with saunt'ring gait, the dewy meads along.
CHASTE ORB! as thro' the vaulted sky
Feath'ry clouds transparent sail;
When thy languid, weeping eye,
Sheds its soft tears upon the painted vale;
As I ponder o'er the floods,
Or tread with listless step, th'embow'ring woods,
O, let thy transitory beam,
Soothe my sad mind, with FANCY'S aëry dream.
Wrapt in REFLECTION, let me trace
O'er the vast ethereal space,
Stars, whose twinkling fires illume
Dark-brow'd NIGHT'S obtrusive gloom;
Where across the concave wide;
Flaming METEORS swiftly glide;
Or along the milky way,
Vapours shoot a silvery ray;
And as I mark, thy faint reclining head,
Sinking on Ocean's pearly bed;
Let REASON tell my soul, thus all things fade.
The Seasons change, the "garish SUN"
When Day's burning car hath run
Its fiery course, no more we view,
While o'er the mountain's golden head,
Streak'd with tints of crimson hue,
Twilight's filmy curtains spread,
Stealing o'er Nature's face, a desolating shade.
Yon musky FLOW'R, that scents the earth;
The SOD, that gave its odours birth;
The ROCK, that breaks the torrent's force;
The VALE, that owns its wand'ring course;
The woodlands where the vocal throng
Trill the wild melodious song;
Thirsty desarts, sands that glow,
Mountains, cap'd with flaky snow;
Luxuriant groves, enamell'd fields,
All, all, prolific Nature yields,
Alike shall end; the sensate HEART,
With all its passions, all its fire,
Touch'd by FATE'S unerring dart,
Shall feel its vital strength expire;
Those eyes, that beam with FRIENDSHIP'S ray,
And glance ineffable delight,
Shall shrink from LIFE'S translucid day,
And close their fainting orbs, in DEATH'S impervious night.
Then what remains for mortal pow'r;
But TIME'S dull journey to beguile;
To deck with joy, the winged hour,
To meet its sorrows with a patient smile;
And when the toilsome pilgrimage shall end,
To greet the tyrant, as a welcome friend.
Charles Kingsley |
With all my will, but much against my heart,
We two now part.
My Very Dear,
Our solace is, the sad road lies so clear.
It needs no art,
With faint, averted feet
And many a tear,
In our opposèd paths to persevere.
Go thou to East, I West.
We will not say
There 's any hope, it is so far away.
But, O, my Best,
When the one darling of our widowhead,
The nursling Grief,
And no dews blur our eyes
To see the peach-bloom come in evening skies,
Perchance we may,
Where now this night is day,
And even through faith of still averted feet,
Making full circle of our banishment,
The bitter journey to the bourne so sweet
Seasoning the termless feast of our content
With tears of recognition never dry.
Christina Rossetti |
DOES the road wind uphill all the way?
Yes, to the very end.
Will the day's journey take the whole long day?
From morn to night, my friend.
But is there for the night a resting-place?
A roof for when the slow, dark hours begin.
May not the darkness hide it from my face?
You cannot miss that inn.
Shall I meet other wayfarers at night?
Those who have gone before.
Then must I knock, or call when just in sight?
They will not keep you waiting at that door.
Shall I find comfort, travel-sore and weak?
Of labour you shall find the sum.
Will there be beds for me and all who seek?
Yea, beds for all who come.
Movesi 'l vecchierel canuto e bianco.
HE COMPARES HIMSELF TO A PILGRIM.
The palmer bent, with locks of silver gray,
Quits the sweet spot where he has pass'd his years,
Quits his poor family, whose anxious fears
Paint the loved father fainting on his way;
And trembling, on his aged limbs slow borne,
In these last days that close his earthly course,
He, in his soul's strong purpose, finds new force,
Though weak with age, though by long travel worn:
Thus reaching Rome, led on by pious love,
He seeks the image of that Saviour Lord
Whom soon he hopes to meet in bliss above:
[Pg 14]So, oft in other forms I seek to trace
Some charm, that to my heart may yet afford
A faint resemblance of thy matchless grace.
As parts the aged pilgrim, worn and gray,
From the dear spot his life where he had spent,
From his poor family by sorrow rent,
Whose love still fears him fainting in decay:
Thence dragging heavily, in life's last day,
His suffering frame, on pious journey bent,
Pricking with earnest prayers his good intent,
Though bow'd with years, and weary with the way,
He reaches Rome, still following his desire
The likeness of his Lord on earth to see,
Whom yet he hopes in heaven above to meet;
So I, too, seek, nor in the fond quest tire,
Lady, in other fair if aught there be
That faintly may recall thy beauties sweet.
Sennuccio mio, benchè doglioso e solo.
ON THE DEATH OF HIS FRIEND SENNUCCIO.
O friend! though left a wretched pilgrim here,
By thee though left in solitude to roam,
Yet can I mourn that thou hast found thy home,
On angel pinions borne, in bright career?
Now thou behold'st the ever-turning sphere,
And stars that journey round the concave dome;
Now thou behold'st how short of truth we come,
How blind our judgment, and thine own how clear!
That thou art happy soothes my soul oppress'd.
O friend! salute from me the laurell'd band,
Guitton and Cino, Dante, and the rest:
And tell my Laura, friend, that here I stand,
Wasting in tears, scarce of myself possess'd,
While her blest beauties all my thoughts command.
Sennuccio mine! I yet myself console,
Though thou hast left me, mournful and alone,
For eagerly to heaven thy spirit has flown,
[Pg 250]Free from the flesh which did so late enrol;
Thence, at one view, commands it either pole,
The planets and their wondrous courses known,
And human sight how brief and doubtful shown;
Thus with thy bliss my sorrow I control.
One favour—in the third of those bright spheres.
Guido and Dante, Cino, too, salute,
With Franceschin and all that tuneful train,
And tell my lady how I live, in tears,
(Savage and lonely as some forest brute)
Her sweet face and fair works when memory brings again.
Robert Burns |
CONTENTED wi’ little, and cantie wi’ mair,
Whene’er I forgather wi’ Sorrow and Care,
I gie them a skelp as they’re creeping alang,
Wi’ a cog o’ gude swats and an auld Scottish sang.
—Contented wi’ little, &c.
I whiles claw the elbow o’ troublesome thought;
But Man is a soger, and Life is a faught;
My mirth and gude humour are coin in my pouch,
And my Freedom’s my Lairdship nae monarch dare touch.
Contented wi’ little, &c.
A townmond o’ trouble, should that be may fa’,
A night o’ gude fellowship sowthers it a’:
When at the blythe end o’ our journey at last,
Wha the deil ever thinks o’ the road he has past?
Contented wi’ little, &c.
Blind Chance, let her snapper and stoyte on her way;
Be’t to me, be’t frae me, e’en let the jade gae:
Come Ease, or come Travail, come Pleasure or Pain,
My warst word is: “Welcome, and welcome again!”
Contented wi’ little, &c.
Pablo Neruda |
America, from a grain
of maize you grew
with spacious lands
the ocean foam.
A grain of maize was your geography.
From the grain
a green lance rose,
was covered with gold,
to grace the heights
of Peru with its yellow tassels.
But, poet, let
history rest in its shroud;
praise with your lyre
the grain in its granaries:
sing to the simple maize in the kitchen.
First, a fine beard
fluttered in the field
above the tender teeth
of the young ear.
Then the husks parted
and fruitfulness burst its veils
of pale papyrus
that grains of laughter
might fall upon the earth.
To the stone,
in your journey,
Not to the terrible stone,
triangle of Mexican death,
but to the grinding stone,
stone of your kitchens.
There, milk and matter,
you were worked and patted
by the wondrous hands
of dark-skinned women.
Wherever you fall, maize,
whether into the
splendid pot of partridge, or among
country beans, you light up
the meal and lend it
your virginal flavor.
Oh, to bite into
the steaming ear beside the sea
of distant song and deepest waltz.
To boil you
as your aroma
But is there
to your treasure?
In chalky, barren lands
by the sea, along
the rocky Chilean coast,
only your radiance
reaches the empty
table of the miner.
Your light, your cornmeal, your hope
pervades America's solitudes,
and to hunger
are enemy legions.
Within your husks,
like gentle kernels,
our sober provincial
children's hearts were nurtured,
until life began
to shuck us from the ear.
Rabindranath Tagore |
Art thou abroad on this stormy night
on thy journey of love, my friend?
The sky groans like one in despair.
I have no sleep tonight.
Ever and again I open my door and look out on
the darkness, my friend!
I can see nothing before me.
I wonder where lies thy path!
By what dim shore of the ink-black river,
by what far edge of the frowning forest,
through what mazy depth of gloom art thou threading
thy course to come to me, my friend?
Rg Gregory |
(for matt – 15)
in the first seven years you choose your howdah
having by then bare inklings of a journey
but where or why - confusion there to cloud a
judgement no more ready than a sore knee
to enter the lists of a whole life’s tourney -
but after this howdah-do (this introduction)
what’s to carry you where - from muddy fluxion
and glimpsing that a howdah does for two
(from seven years on the stirrings can be frantic)
you start to map the high ride (define the view)
and long for gilt and pomp (a touch of tantric)
relationships at best quite sycophantic
you dream of elephants clad in rich brocades
ideas to match your own fanfaronades
at fifteen then you’re really setting out
the sun’s dressed up to let you think life’s bright
your flag’s up front to give you extra clout
the chores are borne below (and out of sight)
you’ve made a noon of every slinking midnight
the continent is yours (let no one mock it)
yours the wheel to which all else a sprocket
in sri lanka in the kandy perahera
every august in a festival procession
an elephant richly dressed (the stately bearer)
carries on its back in howdah-fashion
a casket (such the grandeur of its mission))
in which the buddha’s sacred tooth’s enshrined
an image that your journey brings to mind
that tooth’s the root of all deep human struggle
and life for each proceeds by that shrined truth
which (clearly seen) yet causes thought to boggle
in what dimension lies the total proof
that that enamelled shard is all-wise tooth
and not a figment of the brain’s rash wish
to puff dull want as in a cloud of hashish
old tooth (your truth) life’s slow (but rushing) voyage
that lonely cavalcade that buzzing dreams spell out
towards elusive man but keep you in your boy-age
a noble sense of self impugned by doubt
and yet (inside you caged) a regal shout
pomp should be there to honour your advancement
and you are right to sip from that entrancement
then be that casket the buddha’s tooth ennobles
have that howdah’s view of how dah world grows
choose your elephant well to ride your troubles
(let flag and rich brocade shine through such woes)
what others think can’t hurt what your heart knows
it’s a bumpy business this festive spirit’s trek
a well-sprung joy best cushion for your neck
Chris Abani |
Africans in the hold fold themselves
to make room for hope.
In the afternoon’s
ferocity, tar, grouting the planks like the glue
of family, melts to the run of a child’s licorice stick.
Wet decks crack, testing the wood’s mettle.
Distilled from evaporating brine, salt
dusts the floor, tickling with the measure
into time and the thirst trapped below.
The captain’s new cargo of Igbos disturbs him.
They stand, computing the swim back to land.
Haitians still say: Igbo pend’c or’ a ya!
But we do not hang ourselves in cowardice.
Sold six times on the journey to the coast,
once for a gun, then cloth, then iron
manilas, her pride was masticated like husks
of chewing sticks, spat from morning-rank mouths.
Breaking loose, edge of handcuffs held high
like the blade of a vengeful axe, she runs
across the salt scratch of deck,
pain deeper than the blue inside a flame.
The sound, like the break of bone
could have been the Captain’s skull
or the musket shot dropping her
over the side, her chains wrapped
around his neck in dance.
Hermann Hesse |
Don't be downcast, soon the night will come,
When we can see the cool moon laughing in secret
Over the faint countryside,
And we rest, hand in hand.
Don't be downcast, the time will soon come
When we can have rest.
Our small crosses will stand
On the bright edge of the road together,
And rain fall, and snow fall,
And the winds come and go.