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Written by Billy Collins | Create an image from this poem

Nostalgia

 Remember the 1340's? We were doing a dance called the Catapult.
You always wore brown, the color craze of the decade, and I was draped in one of those capes that were popular, the ones with unicorns and pomegranates in needlework.
Everyone would pause for beer and onions in the afternoon, and at night we would play a game called "Find the Cow.
" Everything was hand-lettered then, not like today.
Where has the summer of 1572 gone? Brocade and sonnet marathons were the rage.
We used to dress up in the flags of rival baronies and conquer one another in cold rooms of stone.
Out on the dance floor we were all doing the Struggle while your sister practiced the Daphne all alone in her room.
We borrowed the jargon of farriers for our slang.
These days language seems transparent a badly broken code.
The 1790's will never come again.
Childhood was big.
People would take walks to the very tops of hills and write down what they saw in their journals without speaking.
Our collars were high and our hats were extremely soft.
We would surprise each other with alphabets made of twigs.
It was a wonderful time to be alive, or even dead.
I am very fond of the period between 1815 and 1821.
Europe trembled while we sat still for our portraits.
And I would love to return to 1901 if only for a moment, time enough to wind up a music box and do a few dance steps, or shoot me back to 1922 or 1941, or at least let me recapture the serenity of last month when we picked berries and glided through afternoons in a canoe.
Even this morning would be an improvement over the present.
I was in the garden then, surrounded by the hum of bees and the Latin names of flowers, watching the early light flash off the slanted windows of the greenhouse and silver the limbs on the rows of dark hemlocks.
As usual, I was thinking about the moments of the past, letting my memory rush over them like water rushing over the stones on the bottom of a stream.
I was even thinking a little about the future, that place where people are doing a dance we cannot imagine, a dance whose name we can only guess.
Written by Margaret Atwood | Create an image from this poem

The Moment

 The moment when, after many years
of hard work and a long voyage
you stand in the centre of your room,
house, half-acre, square mile, island, country,
knowing at last how you got there,
and say, I own this,

is the same moment when the trees unloose
their soft arms from around you,
the birds take back their language,
the cliffs fissure and collapse,
the air moves back from you like a wave
and you can't breathe.
No, they whisper.
You own nothing.
You were a visitor, time after time climbing the hill, planting the flag, proclaiming.
We never belonged to you.
You never found us.
It was always the other way round.
Written by William Wordsworth | Create an image from this poem

Lines Composed a Few Miles above Tintern Abbey

Five years have passed; five summers, with the length 
Of five long winters! and again I hear
These waters, rolling from their mountain-springs
With a soft inland murmur.
Once again Do I behold these steep and lofty cliffs, That on a wild secluded scene impress Thoughts of more deep seclusion; and connect The landscape with the quiet of the sky.
The day is come when I again repose Here, under this dark sycamore, and view These plots of cottage-ground, these orchard-tufts, Which at this season, with their unripe fruits, Are clad in one green hue, and lose themselves 'Mid groves and copses.
Once again I see These hedgerows, hardly hedgerows, little lines Of sportive wood run wild; these pastoral farms, Green to the very door; and wreaths of smoke Sent up, in silence, from among the trees! With some uncertain notice, as might seem Of vagrant dwellers in the houseless woods, Or of some Hermit's cave, where by his fire The Hermit sits alone.
These beauteous forms, Through a long absence, have not been to me As is a landscape to a blind man's eye; But oft, in lonely rooms, and 'mid the din Of towns and cities, I have owed to them, In hours of weariness, sensations sweet, Felt in the blood, and felt along the heart; And passing even into my purer mind With tranquil restoration—feelings too Of unremembered pleasure; such, perhaps, As have no slight or trivial influence On that best portion of a good man's life, His little, nameless, unremembered, acts Of kindness and of love.
Nor less, I trust, To them I may have owed another gift, Of aspect more sublime; that blessed mood, In which the burthen of the mystery, In which the heavy and the weary weight Of all this unintelligible world, Is lightened—that serene and blessed mood, In which the affections gently lead us on— Until, the breath of this corporeal frame And even the motion of our human blood Almost suspended, we are laid asleep In body, and become a living soul; While with an eye made quiet by the power Of harmony, and the deep power of joy, We see into the life of things.
If this Be but a vain belief, yet, oh! how oft— In darkness and amid the many shapes Of joyless daylight; when the fretful stir Unprofitable, and the fever of the world, Have hung upon the beatings of my heart— How oft, in spirit, have I turned to thee, O sylvan Wye! thou wanderer through the woods, How often has my spirit turned to thee! And now, with gleams of half-extinguished thought, With many recognitions dim and faint, And somewhat of a sad perplexity, The picture of the mind revives again; While here I stand, not only with the sense Of present pleasure, but with pleasing thoughts That in this moment there is life and food For future years.
And so I dare to hope, Though changed, no doubt, from what I was when first I came among these hills; when like a roe I bounded o'er the mountains, by the sides Of the deep rivers, and the lonely streams, Wherever nature led—more like a man Flying from something that he dreads than one Who sought the thing he loved.
For nature then (The coarser pleasures of my boyish days And their glad animal movements all gone by) To me was all in all.
—I cannot paint What then I was.
The sounding cataract Haunted me like a passion; the tall rock, The mountain, and the deep and gloomy wood, Their colors and their forms, were then to me An appetite; a feeling and a love, That had no need of a remoter charm, By thought supplied, not any interest Unborrowed from the eye.
—That time is past, And all its aching joys are now no more, And all its dizzy raptures.
Not for this Faint I, nor mourn nor murmur; other gifts Have followed; for such loss, I would believe, Abundant recompense.
For I have learned To look on nature, not as in the hour Of thoughtless youth; but hearing oftentimes The still sad music of humanity, Nor harsh nor grating, though of ample power To chasten and subdue.
And I have felt A presence that disturbs me with the joy Of elevated thoughts; a sense sublime Of something far more deeply interfused, Whose dwelling is the light of setting suns, And the round ocean and the living air, And the blue sky, and in the mind of man: A motion and a spirit, that impels All thinking things, all objects of all thought, And rolls through all things.
Therefore am I still A lover of the meadows and the woods, And mountains; and of all that we behold From this green earth; of all the mighty world Of eye, and ear—both what they half create, And what perceive; well pleased to recognize In nature and the language of the sense The anchor of my purest thoughts, the nurse, The guide, the guardian of my heart, and soul Of all my moral being.
Nor perchance, If I were not thus taught, should I the more Suffer my genial spirits to decay: For thou art with me here upon the banks Of this fair river; thou my dearest Friend, My dear, dear Friend; and in thy voice I catch The language of my former heart, and read My former pleasures in the shooting lights Of thy wild eyes.
Oh! yet a little while May I behold in thee what I was once, My dear, dear Sister! and this prayer I make, Knowing that Nature never did betray The heart that loved her; 'tis her privilege, Through all the years of this our life, to lead From joy to joy: for she can so inform The mind that is within us, so impress With quietness and beauty, and so feed With lofty thoughts, that neither evil tongues, Rash judgments, nor the sneers of selfish men, Nor greetings where no kindness is, nor all The dreary intercourse of daily life, Shall e'er prevail against us, or disturb Our cheerful faith, that all which we behold Is full of blessings.
Therefore let the moon Shine on thee in thy solitary walk; And let the misty mountain winds be free To blow against thee: and, in after years, When these wild ecstasies shall be matured Into a sober pleasure; when thy mind Shall be a mansion for all lovely forms, Thy memory be as a dwelling place For all sweet sounds and harmonies; oh! then, If solitude, or fear, or pain, or grief, Should be thy portion, with what healing thoughts Of tender joy wilt thou remember me, And these my exhortations! Nor, perchance— If I should be where I no more can hear Thy voice, nor catch from thy wild eyes these gleams Of past existence—wilt thou then forget That on the banks of this delightful stream We stood together; and that I, so long A worshipper of Nature, hither came Unwearied in that service; rather say With warmer love—oh! with far deeper zeal Of holier love.
Nor wilt thou then forget, That after many wanderings, many years Of absence, these steep woods and lofty cliffs, And this green pastoral landscape, were to me More dear, both for themselves and for thy sake!
Written by Shel Silverstein | Create an image from this poem

Forgotten Language

 Once I spoke the language of the flowers,
Once I understood each word the caterpillar said,
Once I smiled in secret at the gossip of the starlings,
And shared a conversation with the housefly
in my bed.
Once I heard and answered all the questions of the crickets, And joined the crying of each falling dying flake of snow, Once I spoke the language of the flowers.
.
.
.
How did it go? How did it go?
Written by Henry Kendall | Create an image from this poem

Mountains

RIFTED mountains, clad with forests, girded round by gleaming pines, 
Where the morning, like an angel, robed in golden splendour shines; 
Shimmering mountains, throwing downward on the slopes a mazy glare 
Where the noonday glory sails through gulfs of calm and glittering air; 
Stately mountains, high and hoary, piled with blocks of amber cloud, 
Where the fading twilight lingers, when the winds are wailing loud; 

Grand old mountains, overbeetling brawling brooks and deep ravines, 
Where the moonshine, pale and mournful, flows on rocks and evergreens. 

Underneath these regal ridges - underneath the gnarly trees, 
I am sitting, lonely-hearted, listening to a lonely breeze! 
Sitting by an ancient casement, casting many a longing look 
Out across the hazy gloaming - out beyond the brawling brook! 
Over pathways leading skyward - over crag and swelling cone, 

Past long hillocks looking like to waves of ocean turned to stone; 
Yearning for a bliss unworldly, yearning for a brighter change, 
Yearning for the mystic Aidenn, built beyond this mountain range. 


Happy years, amongst these valleys, happy years have come and gone, 
And my youthful hopes and friendships withered with them one by one; 
Days and moments bearing onward many a bright and beauteous dream, 
All have passed me like to sunstreaks flying down a distant stream. 

Oh, the love returned by loved ones! Oh, the faces that I knew! 
Oh, the wrecks of fond affection! Oh, the hearts so warm and true! 
But their voices I remember, and a something lingers still, 
Like a dying echo roaming sadly round a far off hill. 


I would sojourn here contented, tranquil as I was of yore, 
And would never wish to clamber, seeking for an unknown shore; 
I have dwelt within this cottage twenty summers, and mine eyes 

Never wandered erewhile round in search of undiscovered skies; 
But a spirit sits beside me, veiled in robes of dazzling white, 
And a dear one's whisper wakens with the symphonies of night; 
And a low sad music cometh, borne along on windy wings, 
Like a strain familiar rising from a maze of slumbering springs. 


And the Spirit, by my window, speaketh to my restless soul, 
Telling of the clime she came from, where the silent moments roll; 

Telling of the bourne mysterious, where the sunny summers flee 
Cliffs and coasts, by man untrodden, ridging round a shipless sea. 

There the years of yore are blooming - there departed life-dreams dwell, 
There the faces beam with gladness that I loved in youth so well; 
There the songs of childhood travel, over wave-worn steep and strand - 
Over dale and upland stretching out behind this mountain land. 


``Lovely Being, can a mortal, weary of this changeless scene, 

Cross these cloudy summits to the land where man hath never been? 
Can he find a pathway leading through that wildering mass of pines, 
So that he shall reach the country where ethereal glory shines; 
So that he may glance at waters never dark with coming ships; 
Hearing round him gentle language floating from angelic lips; 
Casting off his earthly fetters, living there for evermore; 
All the blooms of Beauty near him, gleaming on that quiet shore? 


``Ere you quit this ancient casement, tell me, is it well to yearn 
For the evanescent visions, vanished never to return? 
Is it well that I should with to leave this dreary world behind, 
Seeking for your fair Utopia, which perchance I may not find? 
Passing through a gloomy forest, scaling steeps like prison walls, 
Where the scanty sunshine wavers and the moonlight seldom falls? 
Oh, the feelings re-awakened! Oh, the hopes of loftier range! 

Is it well, thou friendly Being, well to wish for such a change?'' 


But the Spirit answers nothing! and the dazzling mantle fades; 
And a wailing whisper wanders out from dismal seaside shades! 
``Lo, the trees are moaning loudly, underneath their hood-like shrouds, 
And the arch above us darkens, scarred with ragged thunder clouds!'' 
But the spirit answers nothing, and I linger all alone, 
Gazing through the moony vapours where the lovely Dream has flown; 

And my heart is beating sadly, and the music waxeth faint, 
Sailing up to holy Heaven, like the anthems of a Saint.
Written by Ben Jonson | Create an image from this poem

His Excuse for Loving

Let it not your wonder move, 
Less your laughter, that I love.
Though I now write fifty years, I have had, and have, my peers.
Poets, though divine, are men; Some have loved as old again.
And it is not always face, Clothes, or fortune gives the grace, Or the feature, or the youth; But the language and the truth, With the ardor and the passion, Gives the lover weight and fashion.
If you then would hear the story, First, prepare you to be sorry That you never knew till now Either whom to love or how; But be glad as soon with me When you hear that this is she Of whose beauty it was sung, She shall make the old man young, Keep the middle age at stay, And let nothing hide decay, Till she be the reason why All the world for love may die.
Written by Samuel Taylor Coleridge | Create an image from this poem

Frost at Midnight

The Frost performs its secret ministry,
Unhelped by any wind.
The owlet's cry Came loud---and hark, again! loud as before.
The inmates of my cottage, all at rest, Have left me to that solitude, which suits Abstruser musings: save that at my side My cradled infant slumbers peacefully.
`Tis calm indeed! so calm, that it disturbs And vexes meditation with its strange And extreme silentness.
Sea, hill, and wood, This populous village! Sea, and hill, and wood, With all the numberless goings-on of life, Inaudible as dreams! the thin blue flame Lies on my low-burnt fire, and quivers not; Only that film, which fluttered on the grate, Still flutters there, the sole unquiet thing.
Methinks, its motion in this hush of nature Gives it dim sympathies with me who live, Making it a companionable form, Whose puny flaps and freaks the idling Spirit By its own moods interprets, every where Echo or mirror seeking of itself, And makes a toy of Thought.
But O! how oft, How oft, at school, with most believing mind, Presageful, have I gazed upon the bars, To watch that fluttering stranger! and as oft With unclosed lids, already had I dreamt Of my sweet birth-place, and the old church-tower, Whose bells, the poor man's only music, rang >From morn to evening, all the hot Fair-day, So sweetly, that they stirred and haunted me With a wild pleasure, falling on mine ear Most like articulate sounds of things to come! So gazed I, till the soothing things, I dreamt, Lulled me to sleep, and sleep prolonged my dreams! And so I brooded all the following morn, Awed by the stern preceptor's face, mine eye Fixed with mock study on my swimming book: Save if the door half opened, and I snatched A hasty glance, and still my heart leaped up, For still I hoped to see the stranger's face, Townsman, or aunt, or sister more beloved, My play-mate when we both were clothed alike! Dear Babe, that sleepest cradled by my side, Whose gentle breathings, heard in this deep calm, Fill up the interspersed vacancies And momentary pauses of the thought! My babe so beautiful! it thrills my heart With tender gladness, thus to look at thee, And think that thou shall learn far other lore, And in far other scenes! For I was reared In the great city, pent 'mid cloisters dim, And saw nought lovely but the sky and stars.
But thou, my babe! shalt wander like a breeze By lakes and sandy shores, beneath the crags Of ancient mountain, and beneath the clouds, Which image in their bulk both lakes and shores And mountain crags: so shalt thou see and hear The lovely shapes and sounds intelligible Of that eternal language, which thy God Utters, who from eternity doth teach Himself in all, and all things in himself.
Great universal Teacher! he shall mould Thy spirit, and by giving make it ask.
Therefore all seasons shall be sweet to thee, Whether the summer clothe the general earth With greenness, or the redbreast sit and sing Betwixt the tufts of snow on the bare branch Of mossy apple-tree, while the nigh thatch Smokes in the sun-thaw; whether the eave-drops fall Heard only in the trances of the blast, Or if the secret ministry of frost Shall hang them up in silent icicles, Quietly shining to the quiet Moon.
Written by Percy Bysshe Shelley | Create an image from this poem

To a Lady with a Guitar

ARIEL to Miranda:¡ªTake 
This slave of music for the sake 
Of him who is the slave of thee; 
And teach it all the harmony 
In which thou canst and only thou 5 
Make the delighted spirit glow  
Till joy denies itself again 
And too intense is turn'd to pain.
For by permission and command Of thine own Prince Ferdinand 10 Poor Ariel sends this silent token Of more than ever can be spoken; Your guardian spirit Ariel who From life to life must still pursue Your happiness for thus alone 15 Can Ariel ever find his own.
From Prospero's enchanted cell As the mighty verses tell To the throne of Naples he Lit you o'er the trackless sea 20 Flitting on your prow before Like a living meteor.
When you die the silent Moon In her interlunar swoon Is not sadder in her cell 25 Than deserted Ariel:¡ª When you live again on earth Like an unseen Star of birth Ariel guides you o'er the sea Of life from your nativity:¡ª 30 Many changes have been run Since Ferdinand and you begun Your course of love and Ariel still Has track'd your steps and served your will.
Now in humbler happier lot 35 This is all remember'd not; And now alas the poor Sprite is Imprison'd for some fault of his In a body like a grave¡ª From you he only dares to crave 40 For his service and his sorrow A smile to-day a song to-morrow.
The artist who this viol wrought To echo all harmonious thought Fell'd a tree while on the steep 45 The woods were in their winter sleep Rock'd in that repose divine On the wind-swept Apennine; And dreaming some of autumn past And some of spring approaching fast 50 And some of April buds and showers And some of songs in July bowers And all of love; and so this tree ¡ª Oh that such our death may be!¡ª Died in sleep and felt no pain 55 To live in happier form again: From which beneath heaven's fairest star The artist wrought this loved guitar; And taught it justly to reply To all who question skilfully 60 In language gentle as thine own; Whispering in enamour'd tone Sweet oracles of woods and dells And summer winds in sylvan cells.
For it had learnt all harmonies 65 Of the plains and of the skies Of the forests and the mountains And the many-voic¨¨d fountains; The clearest echoes of the hills The softest notes of falling rills 70 The melodies of birds and bees The murmuring of summer seas And pattering rain and breathing dew And airs of evening; and it knew That seldom-heard mysterious sound 75 Which driven on its diurnal round As it floats through boundless day Our world enkindles on its way:¡ª All this it knows but will not tell To those who cannot question well 80 The spirit that inhabits it: It talks according to the wit Of its companions; and no more Is heard than has been felt before By those who tempt it to betray 85 These secrets of an elder day.
But sweetly as its answers will Flatter hands of perfect skill It keeps its highest holiest tone For one beloved Friend alone.
90
Written by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow | Create an image from this poem

Flowers

 Spake full well, in language quaint and olden,
One who dwelleth by the castled Rhine,
When he called the flowers, so blue and golden,
Stars, that in earth's firmament do shine.
Stars they are, wherein we read our history, As astrologers and seers of eld; Yet not wrapped about with awful mystery, Like the burning stars, which they beheld.
Wondrous truths, and manifold as wondrous, God hath written in those stars above; But not less in the bright flowerets under us Stands the revelation of his love.
Bright and glorious is that revelation, Written all over this great world of ours; Making evident our own creation, In these stars of earth, these golden flowers.
And the Poet, faithful and far-seeing, Sees, alike in stars and flowers, a part Of the self-same, universal being, Which is throbbing in his brain and heart.
Gorgeous flowerets in the sunlight shining, Blossoms flaunting in the eye of day, Tremulous leaves, with soft and silver lining, Buds that open only to decay; Brilliant hopes, all woven in gorgeous tissues, Flaunting gayly in the golden light; Large desires, with most uncertain issues, Tender wishes, blossoming at night! These in flowers and men are more than seeming; Workings are they of the self-same powers, Which the Poet, in no idle dreaming, Seeth in himself and in the flowers.
Everywhere about us are they glowing, Some like stars, to tell us Spring is born; Others, their blue eyes with tears o'er-flowing, Stand like Ruth amid the golden corn; Not alone in Spring's armorial bearing, And in Summer's green-emblazoned field, But in arms of brave old Autumn's wearing, In the centre of his brazen shield; Not alone in meadows and green alleys, On the mountain-top, and by the brink Of sequestered pools in woodland valleys, Where the slaves of nature stoop to drink; Not alone in her vast dome of glory, Not on graves of bird and beast alone, But in old cathedrals, high and hoary, On the tombs of heroes, carved in stone; In the cottage of the rudest peasant, In ancestral homes, whose crumbling towers, Speaking of the Past unto the Present, Tell us of the ancient Games of Flowers; In all places, then, and in all seasons, Flowers expand their light and soul-like wings, Teaching us, by most persuasive reasons, How akin they are to human things.
And with childlike, credulous affection We behold their tender buds expand; Emblems of our own great resurrection, Emblems of the bright and better land.
Written by Sylvia Plath | Create an image from this poem

Daddy

You do not do, you do not do
Any more, black shoe
In which I have lived like a foot
For thirty years, poor and white,
Barely daring to breathe or Achoo.
Daddy, I have had to kill you.
You died before I had time--- Marble-heavy, a bag full of God, Ghastly statue with one gray toe Big as a Frisco seal And a head in the freakish Atlantic Where it pours bean green over blue In the waters off the beautiful Nauset.
I used to pray to recover you.
Ach, du.
In the German tongue, in the Polish town Scraped flat by the roller Of wars, wars, wars.
But the name of the town is common.
My Polack friend Says there are a dozen or two.
So I never could tell where you Put your foot, your root, I never could talk to you.
The tongue stuck in my jaw.
It stuck in a barb wire snare.
Ich, ich, ich, ich, I could hardly speak.
I thought every German was you.
And the language obscene An engine, an engine, Chuffing me off like a Jew.
A Jew to Dachau, Auschwitz, Belsen.
I began to talk like a Jew.
I think I may well be a Jew.
The snows of the Tyrol, the clear beer of Vienna Are not very pure or true.
With my gypsy ancestress and my weird luck And my Taroc pack and my Taroc pack I may be a bit of a Jew.
I have always been sacred of you, With your Luftwaffe, your gobbledygoo.
And your neat mustache And your Aryan eye, bright blue.
Panzer-man, panzer-man, O You---- Not God but a swastika So black no sky could squeak through.
Every woman adores a Fascist, The boot in the face, the brute Brute heart of a brute like you.
You stand at the blackboard, daddy, In the picture I have of you, A cleft in your chin instead of your foot But no less a devil for that, no not Any less the black man who Bit my pretty red heart in two.
I was ten when they buried you.
At twenty I tried to die And get back, back, back to you.
I thought even the bones would do.
But they pulled me out of the sack, And they stuck me together with glue.
And then I knew what to do.
I made a model of you, A man in black with a Meinkampf look And a love of the rack and the screw.
And I said I do, I do.
So daddy, I'm finally through.
The black telephone's off at the root, The voices just can't worm through.
If I've killed one man, I've killed two--- The vampire who said he was you And drank my blood for a year, Seven years, if you want to know.
Daddy, you can lie back now.
There's a stake in your fat black heart And the villagers never liked you.
They are dancing and stamping on you.
They always knew it was you.
Daddy, daddy, you bastard, I'm through.
(1962)
Written by Charlotte Bronte | Create an image from this poem

Mementos

 ARRANGING long-locked drawers and shelves 
Of cabinets, shut up for years, 
What a strange task we've set ourselves ! 
How still the lonely room appears ! 
How strange this mass of ancient treasures, 
Mementos of past pains and pleasures; 
These volumes, clasped with costly stone, 
With print all faded, gilding gone; 

These fans of leaves, from Indian trees­ 
These crimson shells, from Indian seas­ 
These tiny portraits, set in rings­ 
Once, doubtless, deemed such precious things; 
Keepsakes bestowed by Love on Faith, 
And worn till the receiver's death, 
Now stored with cameos, china, shells, 
In this old closet's dusty cells.
I scarcely think, for ten long years, A hand has touched these relics old; And, coating each, slow-formed, appears, The growth of green and antique mould.
All in this house is mossing over; All is unused, and dim, and damp; Nor light, nor warmth, the rooms discover­ Bereft for years of fire and lamp.
The sun, sometimes in summer, enters The casements, with reviving ray; But the long rains of many winters Moulder the very walls away.
And outside all is ivy, clinging To chimney, lattice, gable grey; Scarcely one little red rose springing Through the green moss can force its way.
Unscared, the daw, and starling nestle, Where the tall turret rises high, And winds alone come near to rustle The thick leaves where their cradles lie.
I sometimes think, when late at even I climb the stair reluctantly, Some shape that should be well in heaven, Or ill elsewhere, will pass by me.
I fear to see the very faces, Familiar thirty years ago, Even in the old accustomed places Which look so cold and gloomy now.
I've come, to close the window, hither, At twilight, when the sun was down, And Fear, my very soul would wither, Lest something should be dimly shown.
Too much the buried form resembling, Of her who once was mistress here; Lest doubtful shade, or moonbeam trembling, Might take her aspect, once so dear.
Hers was this chamber; in her time It seemed to me a pleasant room, For then no cloud of grief or crime Had cursed it with a settled gloom; I had not seen death's image laid In shroud and sheet, on yonder bed.
Before she married, she was blest­ Blest in her youth, blest in her worth; Her mind was calm, its sunny rest Shone in her eyes more clear than mirth.
And when attired in rich array, Light, lustrous hair about her brow, She yonder sat­a kind of day Lit up­what seems so gloomy now.
These grim oak walls, even then were grim; That old carved chair, was then antique; But what around looked dusk and dim Served as a foil to her fresh cheek; Her neck, and arms, of hue so fair, Eyes of unclouded, smiling, light; Her soft, and curled, and floating hair, Gems and attire, as rainbow bright.
Reclined in yonder deep recess, Ofttimes she would, at evening, lie Watching the sun; she seemed to bless With happy glance the glorious sky.
She loved such scenes, and as she gazed, Her face evinced her spirit's mood; Beauty or grandeur ever raised In her, a deep-felt gratitude.
But of all lovely things, she loved A cloudless moon, on summer night; Full oft have I impatience proved To see how long, her still delight Would find a theme in reverie.
Out on the lawn, or where the trees Let in the lustre fitfully, As their boughs parted momently, To the soft, languid, summer breeze.
Alas ! that she should e'er have flung Those pure, though lonely joys away­ Deceived by false and guileful tongue, She gave her hand, then suffered wrong; Oppressed, ill-used, she faded young, And died of grief by slow decay.
Open that casket­look how bright Those jewels flash upon the sight; The brilliants have not lost a ray Of lustre, since her wedding day.
But see­upon that pearly chain­ How dim lies time's discolouring stain ! I've seen that by her daughter worn: For, e'er she died, a child was born; A child that ne'er its mother knew, That lone, and almost friendless grew; For, ever, when its step drew nigh, Averted was the father's eye; And then, a life impure and wild Made him a stranger to his child; Absorbed in vice, he little cared On what she did, or how she fared.
The love withheld, she never sought, She grew uncherished­learnt untaught; To her the inward life of thought Full soon was open laid.
I know not if her friendlessness Did sometimes on her spirit press, But plaint she never made.
The book-shelves were her darling treasure, She rarely seemed the time to measure While she could read alone.
And she too loved the twilight wood, And often, in her mother's mood, Away to yonder hill would hie, Like her, to watch the setting sun, Or see the stars born, one by one, Out of the darkening sky.
Nor would she leave that hill till night Trembled from pole to pole with light; Even then, upon her homeward way, Long­long her wandering steps delayed To quit the sombre forest shade, Through which her eerie pathway lay.
You ask if she had beauty's grace ? I know not­but a nobler face My eyes have seldom seen; A keen and fine intelligence, And, better still, the truest sense Were in her speaking mien.
But bloom or lustre was there none, Only at moments, fitful shone An ardour in her eye, That kindled on her cheek a flush, Warm as a red sky's passing blush And quick with energy.
Her speech, too, was not common speech, No wish to shine, or aim to teach, Was in her words displayed: She still began with quiet sense, But oft the force of eloquence Came to her lips in aid; Language and voice unconscious changed, And thoughts, in other words arranged, Her fervid soul transfused Into the hearts of those who heard, And transient strength and ardour stirred, In minds to strength unused.
Yet in gay crowd or festal glare, Grave and retiring was her air; 'Twas seldom, save with me alone, That fire of feeling freely shone; She loved not awe's nor wonder's gaze, Nor even exaggerated praise, Nor even notice, if too keen The curious gazer searched her mien.
Nature's own green expanse revealed The world, the pleasures, she could prize; On free hill-side, in sunny field, In quiet spots by woods concealed, Grew wild and fresh her chosen joys, Yet Nature's feelings deeply lay In that endowed and youthful frame; Shrined in her heart and hid from day, They burned unseen with silent flame; In youth's first search for mental light, She lived but to reflect and learn, But soon her mind's maturer might For stronger task did pant and yearn; And stronger task did fate assign, Task that a giant's strength might strain; To suffer long and ne'er repine, Be calm in frenzy, smile at pain.
Pale with the secret war of feeling, Sustained with courage, mute, yet high; The wounds at which she bled, revealing Only by altered cheek and eye; She bore in silence­but when passion Surged in her soul with ceaseless foam, The storm at last brought desolation, And drove her exiled from her home.
And silent still, she straight assembled The wrecks of strength her soul retained; For though the wasted body trembled, The unconquered mind, to quail, disdained.
She crossed the sea­now lone she wanders By Seine's, or Rhine's, or Arno's flow; Fain would I know if distance renders Relief or comfort to her woe.
Fain would I know if, henceforth, ever, These eyes shall read in hers again, That light of love which faded never, Though dimmed so long with secret pain.
She will return, but cold and altered, Like all whose hopes too soon depart; Like all on whom have beat, unsheltered, The bitter blasts that blight the heart.
No more shall I behold her lying Calm on a pillow, smoothed by me; No more that spirit, worn with sighing, Will know the rest of infancy.
If still the paths of lore she follow, 'Twill be with tired and goaded will; She'll only toil, the aching hollow, The joyless blank of life to fill.
And oh ! full oft, quite spent and weary, Her hand will pause, her head decline; That labour seems so hard and dreary, On which no ray of hope may shine.
Thus the pale blight of time and sorrow Will shade with grey her soft, dark hair Then comes the day that knows no morrow, And death succeeds to long despair.
So speaks experience, sage and hoary; I see it plainly, know it well, Like one who, having read a story, Each incident therein can tell.
Touch not that ring, 'twas his, the sire Of that forsaken child; And nought his relics can inspire Save memories, sin-defiled.
I, who sat by his wife's death-bed, I, who his daughter loved, Could almost curse the guilty dead, For woes, the guiltless proved.
And heaven did curse­they found him laid, When crime for wrath was rife, Cold­with the suicidal blade Clutched in his desperate gripe.
'Twas near that long deserted hut, Which in the wood decays, Death's axe, self-wielded, struck his root, And lopped his desperate days.
You know the spot, where three black trees, Lift up their branches fell, And moaning, ceaseless as the seas, Still seem, in every passing breeze, The deed of blood to tell.
They named him mad, and laid his bones Where holier ashes lie; Yet doubt not that his spirit groans, In hell's eternity.
But, lo ! night, closing o'er the earth, Infects our thoughts with gloom; Come, let us strive to rally mirth, Where glows a clear and tranquil hearth In some more cheerful room.
Written by Adrienne Rich | Create an image from this poem

Cartographies of Silence

 1.
A conversation begins with a lie.
and each speaker of the so-called common language feels the ice-floe split, the drift apart as if powerless, as if up against a force of nature A poem can being with a lie.
And be torn up.
A conversation has other laws recharges itself with its own false energy, Cannot be torn up.
Infiltrates our blood.
Repeats itself.
Inscribes with its unreturning stylus the isolation it denies.
2.
The classical music station playing hour upon hour in the apartment the picking up and picking up and again picking up the telephone The syllables uttering the old script over and over The loneliness of the liar living in the formal network of the lie twisting the dials to drown the terror beneath the unsaid word 3.
The technology of silence The rituals, etiquette the blurring of terms silence not absence of words or music or even raw sounds Silence can be a plan rigorously executed the blueprint of a life It is a presence it has a history a form Do not confuse it with any kind of absence 4.
How calm, how inoffensive these words begin to seem to me though begun in grief and anger Can I break through this film of the abstract without wounding myself or you there is enough pain here This is why the classical of the jazz music station plays? to give a ground of meaning to our pain? 5.
The silence strips bare: In Dreyer's Passion of Joan Falconetti's face, hair shorn, a great geography mutely surveyed by the camera If there were a poetry where this could happen not as blank space or as words stretched like skin over meaningsof a night through which two people have talked till dawn.
6.
The scream of an illegitimate voice It has ceased to hear itself, therefore it asks itself How do I exist? This was the silence I wanted to break in you I had questions but you would not answer I had answers but you could not use them The is useless to you and perhaps to others 7.
It was an old theme even for me: Language cannot do everything- chalk it on the walls where the dead poets lie in their mausoleums If at the will of the poet the poem could turn into a thing a granite flank laid bare, a lifted head alight with dew If it could simply look you in the face with naked eyeballs, not letting you turn till you, and I who long to make this thing, were finally clarified together in its stare 8.
No.
Let me have this dust, these pale clouds dourly lingering, these words moving with ferocious accuracy like the blind child's fingers or the newborn infant's mouth violent with hunger No one can give me, I have long ago taken this method whether of bran pouring from the loose-woven sack or of the bunsen-flame turned low and blue If from time to time I envy the pure annunciation to the eye the visio beatifica if from time to time I long to turn like the Eleusinian hierophant holding up a single ear of grain for the return to the concrete and everlasting world what in fact I keep choosing are these words, these whispers, conversations from which time after time the truth breaks moist and green.
Written by Robert Seymour Bridges | Create an image from this poem

From The Testament of Beauty

 'Twas at that hour of beauty when the setting sun
squandereth his cloudy bed with rosy hues, to flood
his lov'd works as in turn he biddeth them Good-night;
and all the towers and temples and mansions of men
face him in bright farewell, ere they creep from their pomp
naked beneath the darkness;- while to mortal eyes
'tis given, ifso they close not of fatigue, nor strain
at lamplit tasks-'tis given, as for a royal boon
to beggarly outcasts in homeless vigil, to watch
where uncurtain's behind the great windows of space
Heav'n's jewel'd company circleth unapproachably-
'Twas at sunset that I, fleeing to hide my soul
in refuge of beauty from a mortal distress,
walk'd alone with the Muse in her garden of thought,
discoursing at liberty with the mazy dreams
that came wavering pertinaciously about me; as when
the small bats, issued from their hangings, flitter o'erhead
thru' the summer twilight, with thin cries to and fro
hunting in muffled flight atween the stars and flowers.
Then fell I in strange delusion, illusion strange to tell; for as a man who lyeth fast asleep in his bed may dream he waketh, and that he walketh upright pursuing some endeavour in full conscience-so 'twas with me; but contrawise; for being in truth awake methought I slept and dreamt; and in thatt dream methought I was telling a dream; nor telling was I as one who, truly awaked from a true sleep, thinketh to tell his dream to a friend, but for his scant remembrances findeth no token of speech-it was not so with me; for my tale was my dream and my dream the telling, and I remember wondring the while I told it how I told it so tellingly.
And yet now 'twould seem that Reason inveighed me with her old orderings; as once when she took thought to adjust theology, peopling the inane that vex'd her between God and man with a hierarchy of angels; like those asteroids wherewith she later fill'd the gap 'twixt Jove and Mars.
Verily by Beauty it is that we come as WISDOM, yet not by Reason at Beauty; and now with many words pleasing myself betimes I am fearing lest in the end I play the tedious orator who maundereth on for lack of heart to make an end of his nothings.
Wherefor as when a runner who hath run his round handeth his staff away, and is glad of his rest, here break I off, knowing the goal was not for me the while I ran on telling of what cannot be told.
For not the Muse herself can tell of Goddes love; which cometh to the child from the Mother's embrace, an Idea spacious as the starry firmament's inescapable infinity of radiant gaze, that fadeth only as it outpasseth mortal sight: and this direct contact is 't with eternities, this springtide miracle of the soul's nativity that oft hath set philosophers adrift in dream; which thing Christ taught, when he set up a little child to teach his first Apostles and to accuse their pride, saying, 'Unless ye shall receive it as a child, ye cannot enter into the kingdom of heaven.
' So thru'out all his young mental apprenticehood the child of very simplicity, and in the grace and beauteous attitude of infantine wonder, is apt to absorb Ideas in primal purity, and by the assimilation of thatt immortal food may build immortal life; but ever with the growth of understanding, as the sensible images are more and more corrupt, troubled by questioning thought, or with vainglory alloy'd, 'tis like enought the boy in prospect of his manhood wil hav cast to th' winds his Baptism with his Babyhood; nor might he escape the fall of Ev'ryman, did not a second call of nature's Love await him to confirm his Faith or to revoke him if he is whollylapsed therefrom.
And so mighty is this second vision, which cometh in puberty of body and adolescence of mind that, forgetting his Mother, he calleth it 'first Love'; for it mocketh at suasion or stubbornness of heart, as the oceantide of the omnipotent Pleasur of God, flushing all avenues of life, and unawares by thousandfold approach forestalling its full flood with divination of the secret contacts of Love,-- of faintest ecstasies aslumber in Nature's calm, like thought in a closed book, where some poet long since sang his throbbing passion to immortal sleep-with coy tenderness delicat as the shifting hues that sanctify the silent dawn with wonder-gleams, whose evanescence is the seal of their glory, consumed in self-becoming of eternity; til every moment as it flyeth, cryeth 'Seize! Seize me ere I die! I am the Life of Life.
' 'Tis thus by near approach to an eternal presence man's heart with divine furor kindled and possess'd falleth in blind surrender; and finding therewithal in fullest devotion the full reconcilement betwixt his animal and spiritual desires, such welcome hour of bliss standeth for certain pledge of happiness perdurable: and coud he sustain this great enthusiasm, then the unbounded promise would keep fulfilment; since the marriage of true minds is thatt once fabled garden, amidst of which was set the single Tree that bore such med'cinable fruit that if man ate thereof he should liv for ever.
Friendship is in loving rather than in being lov'd, which is its mutual benediction and recompense; and tho' this be, and tho' love is from lovers learn'd, it springeth none the less from the old essence of self.
No friendless man ('twas well said) can be truly himself; what a man looketh for in his friend and findeth, and loving self best, loveth better than himself, is his own better self, his live lovable idea, flowering by expansion in the loves of his life.
And in the nobility of our earthly friendships we hav al grades of attainment, and the best may claim perfection of kind; and so, since ther be many bonds other than breed (friendships of lesser motiv, found even in the brutes) and since our politick is based on actual association of living men, 'twil come that the spiritual idea of Friendship, the huge vastidity of its essence, is fritter'd away in observation of the usual habits of men; as happ'd with the great moralist, where his book saith that ther can be no friendship betwixt God and man because of their unlimited disparity.
From this dilemma of pagan thought, this poison of faith, Man-soul made glad escape in the worship of Christ; for his humanity is God's Personality, and communion with him is the life of the soul.
Of which living ideas (when in the struggle of thought harden'd by language they became symbols of faith) Reason builded her maze, wherefrom none should escape, wandering intent to map and learn her tortuous clews, chanting their clerkly creed to the high-echoing stones of their hand-fashion'd temple: but the Wind of heav'n bloweth where it listeth, and Christ yet walketh the earth, and talketh still as with those two disciples once on the road to Emmaus-where they walk and are sad; whose vision of him then was his victory over death, thatt resurrection which all his lovers should share, who in loving him had learn'd the Ethick of happiness; whereby they too should come where he was ascended to reign over men's hearts in the Kingdom of God.
Our happiest earthly comradeships hold a foretaste of the feast of salvation and by thatt virtue in them provoke desire beyond them to out-reach and surmount their humanity in some superhumanity and ultimat perfection: which, howe'ever 'tis found or strangeley imagin'd, answereth to the need of each and pulleth him instinctivly as to a final cause.
Thus unto all who hav found their high ideal in Christ, Christ is to them the essence discern'd or undeiscern'd of all their human friendships; and each lover of him and of his beauty must be as a bud on the Vine and hav participation in him; for Goddes love is unescapable as nature's environment, which if a man ignore or think to thrust it off he is the ill-natured fool that runneth blindly on death.
This Individualism is man's true Socialism.
This is the rife Idea whose spiritual beauty multiplieth in communion to transcendant might.
This is thatt excelent way whereon if we wil walk all things shall be added unto us-thatt Love which inspired the wayward Visionary in his doctrinal ode to the three christian Graces, the Church's first hymn and only deathless athanasian creed,--the which 'except a man believe he cannot be saved.
' This is the endearing bond whereby Christ's company yet holdeth together on the truth of his promise that he spake of his grat pity and trust in man's love, 'Lo, I am with you always ev'n to the end of the world.
' Truly the Soul returneth the body's loving where it hath won it.
.
.
and God so loveth the world.
.
.
and in the fellowship of the friendship of Christ God is seen as the very self-essence of love, Creator and mover of all as activ Lover of all, self-express'd in not-self, mind and body, mother and child, 'twixt lover and loved, God and man: but ONE ETERNAL in the love of Beauty and in the selfhood of Love.
Written by Margaret Atwood | Create an image from this poem

Spelling

 My daughter plays on the floor
with plastic letters,
red, blue & hard yellow,
learning how to spell,
spelling,
how to make spells.
* I wonder how many women denied themselves daughters, closed themselves in rooms, drew the curtains so they could mainline words.
* A child is not a poem, a poem is not a child.
There is no either / or.
However.
* I return to the story of the woman caught in the war & in labour, her thighs tied together by the enemy so she could not give birth.
Ancestress: the burning witch, her mouth covered by leather to strangle words.
A word after a word after a word is power.
* At the point where language falls away from the hot bones, at the point where the rock breaks open and darkness flows out of it like blood, at the melting point of granite when the bones know they are hollow & the word splits & doubles & speaks the truth & the body itself becomes a mouth.
This is a metaphor.
* How do you learn to spell? Blood, sky & the sun, your own name first, your first naming, your first name, your first word.
Written by James Whitcomb Riley | Create an image from this poem

Liberty

 New Castle, July 4, 1878

or a hundred years the pulse of time
Has throbbed for Liberty;
For a hundred years the grand old clime
Columbia has been free;
For a hundred years our country's love,
The Stars and Stripes, has waved above.
Away far out on the gulf of years-- Misty and faint and white Through the fogs of wrong--a sail appears, And the Mayflower heaves in sight, And drifts again, with its little flock Of a hundred souls, on Plymouth Rock.
Do you see them there--as long, long since-- Through the lens of History; Do you see them there as their chieftain prints In the snow his bended knee, And lifts his voice through the wintry blast In thanks for a peaceful home at last? Though the skies are dark and the coast is bleak, And the storm is wild and fierce, Its frozen flake on the upturned cheek Of the Pilgrim melts in tears, And the dawn that springs from the darkness there Is the morning light of an answered prayer.
The morning light of the day of Peace That gladdens the aching eyes, And gives to the soul that sweet release That the present verifies,-- Nor a snow so deep, nor a wind so chill To quench the flame of a freeman's will! II Days of toil when the bleeding hand Of the pioneer grew numb, When the untilled tracts of the barren land Where the weary ones had come Could offer nought from a fruitful soil To stay the strength of the stranger's toil.
Days of pain, when the heart beat low, And the empty hours went by Pitiless, with the wail of woe And the moan of Hunger's cry-- When the trembling hands upraised in prayer Had only the strength to hold them there.
Days when the voice of hope had fled-- Days when the eyes grown weak Were folded to, and the tears they shed Were frost on a frozen cheek-- When the storm bent down from the skies and gave A shroud of snow for the Pilgrim's grave.
Days at last when the smiling sun Glanced down from a summer sky, And a music rang where the rivers run, And the waves went laughing by; And the rose peeped over the mossy bank While the wild deer stood in the stream and drank.
And the birds sang out so loud and good, In a symphony so clear And pure and sweet that the woodman stood With his ax upraised to hear, And to shape the words of the tongue unknown Into a language all his own-- 1 'Sing! every bird, to-day! Sing for the sky so clear, And the gracious breath of the atmosphere Shall waft our cares away.
Sing! sing! for the sunshine free; Sing through the land from sea to sea; Lift each voice in the highest key And sing for Liberty!' 2 'Sing for the arms that fling Their fetters in the dust And lift their hands in higher trust Unto the one Great King; Sing for the patriot heart and hand; Sing for the country they have planned; Sing that the world may understand This is Freedom's land!' 3 'Sing in the tones of prayer, Sing till the soaring soul Shall float above the world's control In freedom everywhere! Sing for the good that is to be, Sing for the eyes that are to see The land where man at last is free, O sing for liberty!' III A holy quiet reigned, save where the hand Of labor sent a murmur through the land, And happy voices in a harmony Taught every lisping breeze a melody.
A nest of cabins, where the smoke upcurled A breathing incense to the other world.
A land of languor from the sun of noon, That fainted slowly to the pallid moon, Till stars, thick-scattered in the garden-land Of Heaven by the great Jehovah's hand, Had blossomed into light to look upon The dusky warrior with his arrow drawn, As skulking from the covert of the night With serpent cunning and a fiend's delight, With murderous spirit, and a yell of hate The voice of Hell might tremble to translate: When the fond mother's tender lullaby Went quavering in shrieks all suddenly, And baby-lips were dabbled with the stain Of crimson at the bosom of the slain, And peaceful homes and fortunes ruined--lost In smoldering embers of the holocaust.
Yet on and on, through years of gloom and strife, Our country struggled into stronger life; Till colonies, like footprints in the sand, Marked Freedom's pathway winding through the land-- And not the footprints to be swept away Before the storm we hatched in Boston Bay,-- But footprints where the path of war begun That led to Bunker Hill and Lexington,-- For he who "dared to lead where others dared To follow" found the promise there declared Of Liberty, in blood of Freedom's host Baptized to Father, Son, and Holy Ghost! Oh, there were times when every patriot breast Was riotous with sentiments expressed In tones that swelled in volume till the sound Of lusty war itself was well-nigh drowned.
Oh, those were times when happy eyes with tears Brimmed o'er as all the misty doubts and fears Were washed away, and Hope with gracious mien, Reigned from her throne again a sovereign queen.
Until at last, upon a day like this When flowers were blushing at the summer's kiss, And when the sky was cloudless as the face Of some sweet infant in its angel grace,-- There came a sound of music, thrown afloat Upon the balmy air--a clanging note Reiterated from the brazen throat Of Independence Bell: A sound so sweet, The clamoring throngs of people in the streets Were stilled as at the solemn voice of prayer, And heads were bowed, and lips were moving there That made no sound--until the spell had passed, And then, as when all sudden comes the blast Of some tornado, came the cheer on cheer Of every eager voice, while far and near The echoing bells upon the atmosphere Set glorious rumors floating, till the ear Of every listening patriot tingled clear, And thrilled with joy and jubilee to hear.
I 'Stir all your echoes up, O Independence Bell, And pour from your inverted cup The song we love so well.
'Lift high your happy voice, And swing your iron tongue Till syllables of praise rejoice That never yet were sung.
'Ring in the gleaming dawn Of Freedom--Toll the knell Of Tyranny, and then ring on, O Independence Bell.
-- 'Ring on, and drown the moan, Above the patriot slain, Till sorrow's voice shall catch the tone And join the glad refrain.
'Ring out the wounds of wrong And rankle in the breast; Your music like a slumber-song Will lull revenge to rest.
'Ring out from Occident To Orient, and peal From continent to continent The mighty joy you feel.
'Ring! Independence Bell! Ring on till worlds to be Shall listen to the tale you tell Of love and Liberty!' IV O Liberty--the dearest word A bleeding country ever heard,-- We lay our hopes upon thy shrine And offer up our lives for thine.
You gave us many happy years Of peace and plenty ere the tears A mourning country wept were dried Above the graves of those who died Upon thy threshold.
And again When newer wars were bred, and men Went marching in the cannon's breath And died for thee and loved the death, While, high above them, gleaming bright, The dear old flag remained in sight, And lighted up their dying eyes With smiles that brightened paradise.
O Liberty, it is thy power To gladden us in every hour Of gloom, and lead us by thy hand As little children through a land Of bud and blossom; while the days Are filled with sunshine, and thy praise Is warbled in the roundelays Of joyous birds, and in the song Of waters, murmuring along The paths of peace, whose flowery fringe Has roses finding deeper tinge Of crimson, looking on themselves Reflected--leaning from the shelves Of cliff and crag and mossy mound Of emerald splendor shadow-drowned.
-- We hail thy presence, as you come With bugle blast and rolling drum, And booming guns and shouts of glee Commingled in a symphony That thrills the worlds that throng to see The glory of thy pageantry.
0And with thy praise, we breathe a prayer That God who leaves you in our care May favor us from this day on With thy dear presence--till the dawn Of Heaven, breaking on thy face, Lights up thy first abiding place.