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Best Famous Miracle Poems

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Written by Anne Sexton | Create an image from this poem

The Break Away

 Your daisies have come
on the day of my divorce:
the courtroom a cement box,
a gas chamber for the infectious Jew in me
and a perhaps land, a possibly promised land
for the Jew in me,
but still a betrayal room for the till-death-do-us—
and yet a death, as in the unlocking of scissors
that makes the now separate parts useless,
even to cut each other up as we did yearly
under the crayoned-in sun.
The courtroom keeps squashing our lives as they break into two cans ready for recycling, flattened tin humans and a tin law, even for my twenty-five years of hanging on by my teeth as I once saw at Ringling Brothers.
The gray room: Judge, lawyer, witness and me and invisible Skeezix, and all the other torn enduring the bewilderments of their division.
Your daisies have come on the day of my divorce.
They arrive like round yellow fish, sucking with love at the coral of our love.
Yet they wait, in their short time, like little utero half-borns, half killed, thin and bone soft.
They breathe the air that stands for twenty-five illicit days, the sun crawling inside the sheets, the moon spinning like a tornado in the washbowl, and we orchestrated them both, calling ourselves TWO CAMP DIRECTORS.
There was a song, our song on your cassette, that played over and over and baptised the prodigals.
It spoke the unspeakable, as the rain will on an attic roof, letting the animal join its soul as we kneeled before a miracle-- forgetting its knife.
The daisies confer in the old-married kitchen papered with blue and green chefs who call out pies, cookies, yummy, at the charcoal and cigarette smoke they wear like a yellowy salve.
The daisies absorb it all-- the twenty-five-year-old sanctioned love (If one could call such handfuls of fists and immobile arms that!) and on this day my world rips itself up while the country unfastens along with its perjuring king and his court.
It unfastens into an abortion of belief, as in me-- the legal rift-- as on might do with the daisies but does not for they stand for a love undergoihng open heart surgery that might take if one prayed tough enough.
And yet I demand, even in prayer, that I am not a thief, a mugger of need, and that your heart survive on its own, belonging only to itself, whole, entirely whole, and workable in its dark cavern under your ribs.
I pray it will know truth, if truth catches in its cup and yet I pray, as a child would, that the surgery take.
I dream it is taking.
Next I dream the love is swallowing itself.
Next I dream the love is made of glass, glass coming through the telephone that is breaking slowly, day by day, into my ear.
Next I dream that I put on the love like a lifejacket and we float, jacket and I, we bounce on that priest-blue.
We are as light as a cat's ear and it is safe, safe far too long! And I awaken quickly and go to the opposite window and peer down at the moon in the pond and know that beauty has walked over my head, into this bedroom and out, flowing out through the window screen, dropping deep into the water to hide.
I will observe the daisies fade and dry up wuntil they become flour, snowing themselves onto the table beside the drone of the refrigerator, beside the radio playing Frankie (as often as FM will allow) snowing lightly, a tremor sinking from the ceiling-- as twenty-five years split from my side like a growth that I sliced off like a melanoma.
It is six P.
M.
as I water these tiny weeds and their little half-life, their numbered days that raged like a secret radio, recalling love that I picked up innocently, yet guiltily, as my five-year-old daughter picked gum off the sidewalk and it became suddenly an elastic miracle.
For me it was love found like a diamond where carrots grow-- the glint of diamond on a plane wing, meaning: DANGER! THICK ICE! but the good crunch of that orange, the diamond, the carrot, both with four million years of resurrecting dirt, and the love, although Adam did not know the word, the love of Adam obeying his sudden gift.
You, who sought me for nine years, in stories made up in front of your naked mirror or walking through rooms of fog women, you trying to forget the mother who built guilt with the lumber of a locked door as she sobbed her soured mild and fed you loss through the keyhole, you who wrote out your own birth and built it with your own poems, your own lumber, your own keyhole, into the trunk and leaves of your manhood, you, who fell into my words, years before you fell into me (the other, both the Camp Director and the camper), you who baited your hook with wide-awake dreams, and calls and letters and once a luncheon, and twice a reading by me for you.
But I wouldn't! Yet this year, yanking off all past years, I took the bait and was pulled upward, upward, into the sky and was held by the sun-- the quick wonder of its yellow lap-- and became a woman who learned her own shin and dug into her soul and found it full, and you became a man who learned his won skin and dug into his manhood, his humanhood and found you were as real as a baker or a seer and we became a home, up into the elbows of each other's soul, without knowing-- an invisible purchase-- that inhabits our house forever.
We were blessed by the House-Die by the altar of the color T.
V.
and somehow managed to make a tiny marriage, a tiny marriage called belief, as in the child's belief in the tooth fairy, so close to absolute, so daft within a year or two.
The daisies have come for the last time.
And I who have, each year of my life, spoken to the tooth fairy, believing in her, even when I was her, am helpless to stop your daisies from dying, although your voice cries into the telephone: Marry me! Marry me! and my voice speaks onto these keys tonight: The love is in dark trouble! The love is starting to die, right now-- we are in the process of it.
The empty process of it.
I see two deaths, and the two men plod toward the mortuary of my heart, and though I willed one away in court today and I whisper dreams and birthdays into the other, they both die like waves breaking over me and I am drowning a little, but always swimming among the pillows and stones of the breakwater.
And though your daisies are an unwanted death, I wade through the smell of their cancer and recognize the prognosis, its cartful of loss-- I say now, you gave what you could.
It was quite a ferris wheel to spin on! and the dead city of my marriage seems less important than the fact that the daisies came weekly, over and over, likes kisses that can't stop themselves.
There sit two deaths on November 5th, 1973.
Let one be forgotten-- Bury it! Wall it up! But let me not forget the man of my child-like flowers though he sinks into the fog of Lake Superior, he remains, his fingers the marvel of fourth of July sparklers, his furious ice cream cones of licking, remains to cool my forehead with a washcloth when I sweat into the bathtub of his being.
For the rest that is left: name it gentle, as gentle as radishes inhabiting their short life in the earth, name it gentle, gentle as old friends waving so long at the window, or in the drive, name it gentle as maple wings singing themselves upon the pond outside, as sensuous as the mother-yellow in the pond, that night that it was ours, when our bodies floated and bumped in moon water and the cicadas called out like tongues.
Let such as this be resurrected in all men whenever they mold their days and nights as when for twenty-five days and nights you molded mine and planted the seed that dives into my God and will do so forever no matter how often I sweep the floor.
Written by Pablo Neruda | Create an image from this poem

A Song Of Despair

 The memory of you emerges from the night around me.
The river mingles its stubborn lament with the sea.
Deserted like the dwarves at dawn.
It is the hour of departure, oh deserted one! Cold flower heads are raining over my heart.
Oh pit of debris, fierce cave of the shipwrecked.
In you the wars and the flights accumulated.
From you the wings of the song birds rose.
You swallowed everything, like distance.
Like the sea, like time.
In you everything sank! It was the happy hour of assault and the kiss.
The hour of the spell that blazed like a lighthouse.
Pilot's dread, fury of blind driver, turbulent drunkenness of love, in you everything sank! In the childhood of mist my soul, winged and wounded.
Lost discoverer, in you everything sank! You girdled sorrow, you clung to desire, sadness stunned you, in you everything sank! I made the wall of shadow draw back, beyond desire and act, I walked on.
Oh flesh, my own flesh, woman whom I loved and lost, I summon you in the moist hour, I raise my song to you.
Like a jar you housed infinite tenderness.
and the infinite oblivion shattered you like a jar.
There was the black solitude of the islands, and there, woman of love, your arms took me in.
There was thirst and hunger, and you were the fruit.
There were grief and ruins, and you were the miracle.
Ah woman, I do not know how you could contain me in the earth of your soul, in the cross of your arms! How terrible and brief my desire was to you! How difficult and drunken, how tensed and avid.
Cemetery of kisses, there is still fire in your tombs, still the fruited boughs burn, pecked at by birds.
Oh the bitten mouth, oh the kissed limbs, oh the hungering teeth, oh the entwined bodies.
Oh the mad coupling of hope and force in which we merged and despaired.
And the tenderness, light as water and as flour.
And the word scarcely begun on the lips.
This was my destiny and in it was my voyage of my longing, and in it my longing fell, in you everything sank! Oh pit of debris, everything fell into you, what sorrow did you not express, in what sorrow are you not drowned! From billow to billow you still called and sang.
Standing like a sailor in the prow of a vessel.
You still flowered in songs, you still brike the currents.
Oh pit of debris, open and bitter well.
Pale blind diver, luckless slinger, lost discoverer, in you everything sank! It is the hour of departure, the hard cold hour which the night fastens to all the timetables.
The rustling belt of the sea girdles the shore.
Cold stars heave up, black birds migrate.
Deserted like the wharves at dawn.
Only tremulous shadow twists in my hands.
Oh farther than everything.
Oh farther than everything.
It is the hour of departure.
Oh abandoned one!
Written by William Cullen Bryant | Create an image from this poem

A Forest Hymn

The groves were God's first temples.
Ere man learned To hew the shaft, and lay the architrave, And spread the roof above them,---ere he framed The lofty vault, to gather and roll back The sound of anthems; in the darkling wood, Amidst the cool and silence, he knelt down, And offered to the Mightiest solemn thanks And supplication.
For his simple heart Might not resist the sacred influences, Which, from the stilly twilight of the place, And from the gray old trunks that high in heaven Mingled their mossy boughs, and from the sound Of the invisible breath that swayed at once All their green tops, stole over him, and bowed His spirit with the thought of boundless power And inaccessible majesty.
Ah, why Should we, in the world's riper years, neglect God's ancient sanctuaries, and adore Only among the crowd, and under roofs, That our frail hands have raised? Let me, at least, Here, in the shadow of this aged wood, Offer one hymn---thrice happy, if it find Acceptance in His ear.
Father, thy hand Hath reared these venerable columns, thou Didst weave this verdant roof.
Thou didst look down Upon the naked earth, and, forthwith, rose All these fair ranks of trees.
They, in thy sun, Budded, and shook their green leaves in the breeze, And shot towards heaven.
The century-living crow, Whose birth was in their tops, grew old and died Among their branches, till, at last, they stood, As now they stand, massy, and tall, and dark, Fit shrine for humble worshipper to hold Communion with his Maker.
These dim vaults, These winding aisles, of human pomp and pride Report not.
No fantastic carvings show The boast of our vain race to change the form Of thy fair works.
But thou art here---thou fill'st The solitude.
Thou art in the soft winds That run along the summit of these trees In music; thou art in the cooler breath That from the inmost darkness of the place Comes, scarcely felt; the barky trunks, the ground, The fresh moist ground, are all instinct with thee.
Here is continual worship;---Nature, here, In the tranquility that thou dost love, Enjoys thy presence.
Noiselessly, around, From perch to perch, the solitary bird Passes; and yon clear spring, that, midst its herbs, Wells softly forth and wandering steeps the roots Of half the mighty forest, tells no tale Of all the good it does.
Thou hast not left Thyself without a witness, in these shades, Of thy perfections.
Grandeur, strength, and grace Are here to speak of thee.
This mighty oak--- By whose immovable stem I stand and seem Almost annihilated---not a prince, In all that proud old world beyond the deep, E'er wore his crown as lofty as he Wears the green coronal of leaves with which Thy hand has graced him.
Nestled at his root Is beauty, such as blooms not in the glare Of the broad sun.
That delicate forest flower With scented breath, and look so like a smile, Seems, as it issues from the shapeless mould, An emanation of the indwelling Life, A visible token of the upholding Love, That are the soul of this wide universe.
My heart is awed within me when I think Of the great miracle that still goes on, In silence, round me---the perpetual work Of thy creation, finished, yet renewed Forever.
Written on thy works I read The lesson of thy own eternity.
Lo! all grow old and die---but see again, How on the faltering footsteps of decay Youth presses----ever gay and beautiful youth In all its beautiful forms.
These lofty trees Wave not less proudly that their ancestors Moulder beneath them.
Oh, there is not lost One of earth's charms: upon her bosom yet, After the flight of untold centuries, The freshness of her far beginning lies And yet shall lie.
Life mocks the idle hate Of his arch enemy Death---yea, seats himself Upon the tyrant's throne---the sepulchre, And of the triumphs of his ghastly foe Makes his own nourishment.
For he came forth From thine own bosom, and shall have no end.
There have been holy men who hid themselves Deep in the woody wilderness, and gave Their lives to thought and prayer, till they outlived The generation born with them, nor seemed Less aged than the hoary trees and rocks Around them;---and there have been holy men Who deemed it were not well to pass life thus.
But let me often to these solitudes Retire, and in thy presence reassure My feeble virtue.
Here its enemies, The passions, at thy plainer footsteps shrink And tremble and are still.
Oh, God! when thou Dost scare the world with falling thunderbolts, or fill, With all the waters of the firmament, The swift dark whirlwind that uproots the woods And drowns the village; when, at thy call, Uprises the great deep and throws himself Upon the continent, and overwhelms Its cities---who forgets not, at the sight Of these tremendous tokens of thy power, His pride, and lays his strifes and follies by? Oh, from these sterner aspects of thy face Spare me and mine, nor let us need the wrath Of the mad unchained elements to teach Who rules them.
Be it ours to meditate, In these calm shades, thy milder majesty, And to the beautiful order of the works Learn to conform the order of our lives.
Written by Anna Akhmatova | Create an image from this poem

Requiem

 Not under foreign skies
 Nor under foreign wings protected -
 I shared all this with my own people
 There, where misfortune had abandoned us.
[1961] INSTEAD OF A PREFACE During the frightening years of the Yezhov terror, I spent seventeen months waiting in prison queues in Leningrad.
One day, somehow, someone 'picked me out'.
On that occasion there was a woman standing behind me, her lips blue with cold, who, of course, had never in her life heard my name.
Jolted out of the torpor characteristic of all of us, she said into my ear (everyone whispered there) - 'Could one ever describe this?' And I answered - 'I can.
' It was then that something like a smile slid across what had previously been just a face.
[The 1st of April in the year 1957.
Leningrad] DEDICATION Mountains fall before this grief, A mighty river stops its flow, But prison doors stay firmly bolted Shutting off the convict burrows And an anguish close to death.
Fresh winds softly blow for someone, Gentle sunsets warm them through; we don't know this, We are everywhere the same, listening To the scrape and turn of hateful keys And the heavy tread of marching soldiers.
Waking early, as if for early mass, Walking through the capital run wild, gone to seed, We'd meet - the dead, lifeless; the sun, Lower every day; the Neva, mistier: But hope still sings forever in the distance.
The verdict.
Immediately a flood of tears, Followed by a total isolation, As if a beating heart is painfully ripped out, or, Thumped, she lies there brutally laid out, But she still manages to walk, hesitantly, alone.
Where are you, my unwilling friends, Captives of my two satanic years? What miracle do you see in a Siberian blizzard? What shimmering mirage around the circle of the moon? I send each one of you my salutation, and farewell.
[March 1940] INTRODUCTION [PRELUDE] It happened like this when only the dead Were smiling, glad of their release, That Leningrad hung around its prisons Like a worthless emblem, flapping its piece.
Shrill and sharp, the steam-whistles sang Short songs of farewell To the ranks of convicted, demented by suffering, As they, in regiments, walked along - Stars of death stood over us As innocent Russia squirmed Under the blood-spattered boots and tyres Of the black marias.
I You were taken away at dawn.
I followed you As one does when a corpse is being removed.
Children were crying in the darkened house.
A candle flared, illuminating the Mother of God.
.
.
The cold of an icon was on your lips, a death-cold sweat On your brow - I will never forget this; I will gather To wail with the wives of the murdered streltsy (1) Inconsolably, beneath the Kremlin towers.
[1935.
Autumn.
Moscow] II Silent flows the river Don A yellow moon looks quietly on Swanking about, with cap askew It sees through the window a shadow of you Gravely ill, all alone The moon sees a woman lying at home Her son is in jail, her husband is dead Say a prayer for her instead.
III It isn't me, someone else is suffering.
I couldn't.
Not like this.
Everything that has happened, Cover it with a black cloth, Then let the torches be removed.
.
.
Night.
IV Giggling, poking fun, everyone's darling, The carefree sinner of Tsarskoye Selo (2) If only you could have foreseen What life would do with you - That you would stand, parcel in hand, Beneath the Crosses (3), three hundredth in line, Burning the new year's ice With your hot tears.
Back and forth the prison poplar sways With not a sound - how many innocent Blameless lives are being taken away.
.
.
[1938] V For seventeen months I have been screaming, Calling you home.
I've thrown myself at the feet of butchers For you, my son and my horror.
Everything has become muddled forever - I can no longer distinguish Who is an animal, who a person, and how long The wait can be for an execution.
There are now only dusty flowers, The chinking of the thurible, Tracks from somewhere into nowhere And, staring me in the face And threatening me with swift annihilation, An enormous star.
[1939] VI Weeks fly lightly by.
Even so, I cannot understand what has arisen, How, my son, into your prison White nights stare so brilliantly.
Now once more they burn, Eyes that focus like a hawk, And, upon your cross, the talk Is again of death.
[1939.
Spring] VII THE VERDICT The word landed with a stony thud Onto my still-beating breast.
Nevermind, I was prepared, I will manage with the rest.
I have a lot of work to do today; I need to slaughter memory, Turn my living soul to stone Then teach myself to live again.
.
.
But how.
The hot summer rustles Like a carnival outside my window; I have long had this premonition Of a bright day and a deserted house.
[22 June 1939.
Summer.
Fontannyi Dom (4)] VIII TO DEATH You will come anyway - so why not now? I wait for you; things have become too hard.
I have turned out the lights and opened the door For you, so simple and so wonderful.
Assume whatever shape you wish.
Burst in Like a shell of noxious gas.
Creep up on me Like a practised bandit with a heavy weapon.
Poison me, if you want, with a typhoid exhalation, Or, with a simple tale prepared by you (And known by all to the point of nausea), take me Before the commander of the blue caps and let me glimpse The house administrator's terrified white face.
I don't care anymore.
The river Yenisey Swirls on.
The Pole star blazes.
The blue sparks of those much-loved eyes Close over and cover the final horror.
[19 August 1939.
Fontannyi Dom] IX Madness with its wings Has covered half my soul It feeds me fiery wine And lures me into the abyss.
That's when I understood While listening to my alien delirium That I must hand the victory To it.
However much I nag However much I beg It will not let me take One single thing away: Not my son's frightening eyes - A suffering set in stone, Or prison visiting hours Or days that end in storms Nor the sweet coolness of a hand The anxious shade of lime trees Nor the light distant sound Of final comforting words.
[14 May 1940.
Fontannyi Dom] X CRUCIFIXION Weep not for me, mother.
I am alive in my grave.
1.
A choir of angels glorified the greatest hour, The heavens melted into flames.
To his father he said, 'Why hast thou forsaken me!' But to his mother, 'Weep not for me.
.
.
' [1940.
Fontannyi Dom] 2.
Magdalena smote herself and wept, The favourite disciple turned to stone, But there, where the mother stood silent, Not one person dared to look.
[1943.
Tashkent] EPILOGUE 1.
I have learned how faces fall, How terror can escape from lowered eyes, How suffering can etch cruel pages Of cuneiform-like marks upon the cheeks.
I know how dark or ash-blond strands of hair Can suddenly turn white.
I've learned to recognise The fading smiles upon submissive lips, The trembling fear inside a hollow laugh.
That's why I pray not for myself But all of you who stood there with me Through fiercest cold and scorching July heat Under a towering, completely blind red wall.
2.
The hour has come to remember the dead.
I see you, I hear you, I feel you: The one who resisted the long drag to the open window; The one who could no longer feel the kick of familiar soil beneath her feet; The one who, with a sudden flick of her head, replied, 'I arrive here as if I've come home!' I'd like to name you all by name, but the list Has been removed and there is nowhere else to look.
So, I have woven you this wide shroud out of the humble words I overheard you use.
Everywhere, forever and always, I will never forget one single thing.
Even in new grief.
Even if they clamp shut my tormented mouth Through which one hundred million people scream; That's how I wish them to remember me when I am dead On the eve of my remembrance day.
If someone someday in this country Decides to raise a memorial to me, I give my consent to this festivity But only on this condition - do not build it By the sea where I was born, I have severed my last ties with the sea; Nor in the Tsar's Park by the hallowed stump Where an inconsolable shadow looks for me; Build it here where I stood for three hundred hours And no-one slid open the bolt.
Listen, even in blissful death I fear That I will forget the Black Marias, Forget how hatefully the door slammed and an old woman Howled like a wounded beast.
Let the thawing ice flow like tears From my immovable bronze eyelids And let the prison dove coo in the distance While ships sail quietly along the river.
[March 1940.
Fontannyi Dom] FOOTNOTES 1 An elite guard which rose up in rebellion against Peter the Great in 1698.
Most were either executed or exiled.
2 The imperial summer residence outside St Petersburg where Ahmatova spent her early years.
3 A prison complex in central Leningrad near the Finland Station, called The Crosses because of the shape of two of the buildings.
4 The Leningrad house in which Ahmatova lived.
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.
.
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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 William Cullen Bryant | Create an image from this poem

A Forest Hymn

THE GROVES were God's first temples.
Ere man learned To hew the shaft and lay the architrave And spread the roof above them¡ªere he framed The lofty vault to gather and roll back The sound of anthems; in the darkling wood 5 Amidst the cool and silence he knelt down And offered to the Mightiest solemn thanks And supplication.
For his simple heart Might not resist the sacred influences Which from the stilly twilight of the place 10 And from the gray old trunks that high in heaven Mingled their mossy boughs and from the sound Of the invisible breath that swayed at once All their green tops stole over him and bowed His spirit with the thought of boundless power 15 And inaccessible majesty.
Ah why Should we in the world's riper years neglect God's ancient sanctuaries and adore Only among the crowd and under roofs That our frail hands have raised? Let me at least 20 Here in the shadow of this aged wood Offer one hymn¡ªthrice happy if it find Acceptance in His ear.
Father thy hand Hath reared these venerable columns thou 25 Didst weave this verdant roof.
Thou didst look down Upon the naked earth and forthwith rose All these fair ranks of trees.
They in thy sun Budded and shook their green leaves in thy breeze And shot towards heaven.
The century-living crow 30 Whose birth was in their tops grew old and died Among their branches till at last they stood As now they stand massy and tall and dark Fit shrine for humble worshipper to hold Communion with his Maker.
These dim vaults 35 These winding aisles of human pomp or pride Report not.
No fantastic carvings show The boast of our vain race to change the form Of thy fair works.
But thou art here¡ªthou fill'st The solitude.
Thou art in the soft winds 40 That run along the summit of these trees In music; thou art in the cooler breath That from the inmost darkness of the place Comes scarcely felt; the barky trunks the ground The fresh moist ground are all instinct with thee.
45 Here is continual worship;¡ªNature here In the tranquillity that thou dost love Enjoys thy presence.
Noiselessly around From perch to perch the solitary bird Passes; and yon clear spring that midst its herbs 50 Wells softly forth and wandering steeps the roots Of half the mighty forest tells no tale Of all the good it does.
Thou hast not left Thyself without a witness in these shades Of thy perfections.
Grandeur strength and grace 55 Are here to speak of thee.
This mighty oak ¡ª By whose immovable stem I stand and seem Almost annihilated¡ªnot a prince In all that proud old world beyond the deep E'er wore his crown as loftily as he 60 Wears the green coronal of leaves with which Thy hand has graced him.
Nestled at his root Is beauty such as blooms not in the glare Of the broad sun.
That delicate forest flower With scented breath and look so like a smile 65 Seems as it issues from the shapeless mould An emanation of the indwelling Life A visible token of the upholding Love That are the soul of this great universe.
My heart is awed within me when I think 70 Of the great miracle that still goes on In silence round me¡ªthe perpetual work Of thy creation finished yet renewed Forever.
Written on thy works I read The lesson of thy own eternity.
75 Lo! all grow old and die¡ªbut see again How on the faltering footsteps of decay Youth presses ¡ªever-gay and beautiful youth In all its beautiful forms.
These lofty trees Wave not less proudly that their ancestors 80 Moulder beneath them.
O there is not lost One of earth's charms: upon her bosom yet After the flight of untold centuries The freshness of her far beginning lies And yet shall lie.
Life mocks the idle hate 85 Of his arch-enemy Death¡ªyea seats himself Upon the tyrant's throne¡ªthe sepulchre And of the triumphs of his ghastly foe Makes his own nourishment.
For he came forth From thine own bosom and shall have no end.
90 There have been holy men who hid themselves Deep in the woody wilderness and gave Their lives to thought and prayer till they outlived The generation born with them nor seemed Less aged than the hoary trees and rocks 95 Around them;¡ªand there have been holy men Who deemed it were not well to pass life thus.
But let me often to these solitudes Retire and in thy presence reassure My feeble virtue.
Here its enemies 100 The passions at thy plainer footsteps shrink And tremble and are still.
O God! when thou Dost scare the world with tempests set on fire The heavens with falling thunderbolts or fill With all the waters of the firmament 105 The swift dark whirlwind that uproots the woods And drowns the villages; when at thy call Uprises the great deep and throws himself Upon the continent and overwhelms Its cities¡ªwho forgets not at the sight 110 Of these tremendous tokens of thy power His pride and lays his strifes and follies by? O from these sterner aspects of thy face Spare me and mine nor let us need the wrath Of the mad unchain¨¨d elements to teach 115 Who rules them.
Be it ours to meditate In these calm shades thy milder majesty And to the beautiful order of thy works Learn to conform the order of our lives.
Written by Louisa May Alcott | Create an image from this poem

Transfiguration

 Mysterious death! who in a single hour 
Life's gold can so refine 
And by thy art divine 
Change mortal weakness to immortal power! 

Bending beneath the weight of eighty years 
Spent with the noble strife 
of a victorious life 
We watched her fading heavenward, through our tears.
But ere the sense of loss our hearts had wrung A miracle was wrought; And swift as happy thought She lived again -- brave, beautiful, and young.
Age, pain, and sorrow dropped the veils they wore And showed the tender eyes Of angels in disguise, Whose discipline so patiently she bore.
The past years brought their harvest rich and fair; While memory and love, Together, fondly wove A golden garland for the silver hair.
How could we mourn like those who are bereft, When every pang of grief found balm for its relief In counting up the treasures she had left?-- Faith that withstood the shocks of toil and time; Hope that defied despair; Patience that conquered care; And loyalty, whose courage was sublime; The great deep heart that was a home for all-- Just, eloquent, and strong In protest against wrong; Wide charity, that knew no sin, no fall; The spartan spirit that made life so grand, Mating poor daily needs With high, heroic deeds, That wrested happiness from Fate's hard hand.
We thought to weep, but sing for joy instead, Full of the grateful peace That follows her release; For nothing but the weary dust lies dead.
Oh, noble woman! never more a queen Than in the laying down Of sceptre and of crown To win a greater kingdom, yet unseen; Teaching us how to seek the highest goal, To earn the true success -- To live, to love, to bless -- And make death proud to take a royal soul.
Written by Sylvia Plath | Create an image from this poem

Lady Lazarus

I have done it again.
One year in every ten I manage it_____ A sort of walking miracle, my skin Bright as a Nazi lampshade, My right foot A paperweight, My face featureless, fine Jew linen.
Peel off the napkin O my enemy.
Do I terrify?------- The nose, the eye pits, the full set of teeth? The sour breath Will vanish in a day.
Soon, soon the flesh The grave cave ate will be At home on me And I a smiling woman.
I am only thirty.
And like the cat I have nine times to die.
This is Number Three.
What a trash To annihilate each decade.
What a million filaments.
The Peanut-crunching crowd Shoves in to see Them unwrap me hand in foot ------ The big strip tease.
Gentleman , ladies These are my hands My knees.
I may be skin and bone, Nevertheless, I am the same, identical woman.
The first time it happened I was ten.
It was an accident.
The second time I meant To last it out and not come back at all.
I rocked shut As a seashell.
They had to call and call And pick the worms off me like sticky pearls.
Dying Is an art, like everything else.
I do it exceptionally well.
I do it so it feels like hell.
I do it so it feels real.
I guess you could say I've a call.
It's easy enough to do it in a cell.
It's easy enough to do it and stay put.
It's the theatrical Comeback in broad day To the same place, the same face, the same brute Amused shout: 'A miracle!' That knocks me out.
There is a charge For the eyeing my scars, there is a charge For the hearing of my heart--- It really goes.
And there is a charge, a very large charge For a word or a touch Or a bit of blood Or a piece of my hair on my clothes.
So, so, Herr Doktor.
So, Herr Enemy.
I am your opus, I am your valuable, The pure gold baby That melts to a shriek.
I turn and burn.
Do not think I underestimate your great concern.
Ash, ash--- You poke and stir.
Flesh, bone, there is nothing there---- A cake of soap, A wedding ring, A gold filling.
Herr God, Herr Lucifer Beware Beware.
Out of the ash I rise with my red hair And I eat men like air.
(1962)
Written by Joy Harjo | Create an image from this poem

Deer Dancer

 Nearly everyone had left that bar in the middle of winter except the
hardcore.
It was the coldest night of the year, every place shut down, but not us.
Of course we noticed when she came in.
We were Indian ruins.
She was the end of beauty.
No one knew her, the stranger whose tribe we recognized, her family related to deer, if that's who she was, a people accustomed to hearing songs in pine trees, and making them hearts.
The woman inside the woman who was to dance naked in the bar of misfits blew deer magic.
Henry jack, who could not survive a sober day, thought she was Buffalo Calf Woman come back, passed out, his head by the toilet.
All night he dreamed a dream he could not say.
The next day he borrowed money, went home, and sent back the money I lent.
Now that's a miracle.
Some people see vision in a burned tortilla, some in the face of a woman.
This is the bar of broken survivors, the club of the shotgun, knife wound, of poison by culture.
We who were taught not to stare drank our beer.
The players gossiped down their cues.
Someone put a quarter in the jukebox to relive despair.
Richard's wife dove to kill her.
We had to keep her still, while Richard secretly bought the beauty a drink.
How do I say it?In this language there are no words for how the real world collapses.
I could say it in my own and the sacred mounds would come into focus, but I couldn't take it in this dingy envelope.
So I look at the stars in this strange city, frozen to the back of the sky, the only promises that ever make sense.
My brother-in-law hung out with white people, went to law school with a perfect record, quit.
Says you can keep your laws, your words.
And practiced law on the street with his hands.
He jimmied to the proverbial dream girl, the face of the moon, while the players racked a new game.
He bragged to us, he told her magic words and that when she broke, became human.
But we all heard his voice crack: What's a girl like you doing in a place like this? That's what I'd like to know, what are we all doing in a place like this? You would know she could hear only what she wanted to; don't we all?Left the drink of betrayal Richard bought her, at the bar.
What was she on?We all wanted some.
Put a quarter in the juke.
We all take risks stepping into thin air.
Our ceremonies didn't predict this.
or we expected more.
I had to tell you this, for the baby inside the girl sealed up with a lick of hope and swimming into the praise of nations.
This is not a rooming house, but a dream of winter falls and the deer who portrayed the relatives of strangers.
The way back is deer breath on icy windows.
The next dance none of us predicted.
She borrowed a chair for the stairway to heaven and stood on a table of names.
And danced in the room of children without shoes.
You picked a fine time to leave me, Lucille With four hungry children and a crop in the field.
And then she took off her clothes.
She shook loose memory, waltzed with the empty lover we'd all become.
She was the myth slipped down through dreamtime.
The promise of feast we all knew was coming.
The deer who crossed through knots of a curse to find us.
She was no slouch, and neither were we, watching.
The music ended.
And so does the story.
I wasn't there.
But I imagined her like this, not a stained red dress with tape on her heels but the deer who entered our dream in white dawn, breathed mist into pine trees, her fawn a blessing of meat, the ancestors who never left.
Written by Michael Ondaatje | Create an image from this poem

To A Sad Daughter

 All night long the hockey pictures
gaze down at you
sleeping in your tracksuit.
Belligerent goalies are your ideal.
Threats of being traded cuts and wounds --all this pleases you.
O my god! you say at breakfast reading the sports page over the Alpen as another player breaks his ankle or assaults the coach.
When I thought of daughters I wasn't expecting this but I like this more.
I like all your faults even your purple moods when you retreat from everyone to sit in bed under a quilt.
And when I say 'like' I mean of course 'love' but that embarrasses you.
You who feel superior to black and white movies (coaxed for hours to see Casablanca) though you were moved by Creature from the Black Lagoon.
One day I'll come swimming beside your ship or someone will and if you hear the siren listen to it.
For if you close your ears only nothing happens.
You will never change.
I don't care if you risk your life to angry goalies creatures with webbed feet.
You can enter their caves and castles their glass laboratories.
Just don't be fooled by anyone but yourself.
This is the first lecture I've given you.
You're 'sweet sixteen' you said.
I'd rather be your closest friend than your father.
I'm not good at advice you know that, but ride the ceremonies until they grow dark.
Sometimes you are so busy discovering your friends I ache with loss --but that is greed.
And sometimes I've gone into my purple world and lost you.
One afternoon I stepped into your room.
You were sitting at the desk where I now write this.
Forsythia outside the window and sun spilled over you like a thick yellow miracle as if another planet was coaxing you out of the house --all those possible worlds!-- and you, meanwhile, busy with mathematics.
I cannot look at forsythia now without loss, or joy for you.
You step delicately into the wild world and your real prize will be the frantic search.
Want everything.
If you break break going out not in.
How you live your life I don't care but I'll sell my arms for you, hold your secrets forever.
If I speak of death which you fear now, greatly, it is without answers.
except that each one we know is in our blood.
Don't recall graves.
Memory is permanent.
Remember the afternoon's yellow suburban annunciation.
Your goalie in his frightening mask dreams perhaps of gentleness.
Written by Walt Whitman | Create an image from this poem

Miracles

 WHY! who makes much of a miracle? 
As to me, I know of nothing else but miracles, 
Whether I walk the streets of Manhattan, 
Or dart my sight over the roofs of houses toward the sky, 
Or wade with naked feet along the beach, just in the edge of the water,
Or stand under trees in the woods, 
Or talk by day with any one I love—or sleep in the bed at night with any one I love, 
Or sit at table at dinner with my mother, 
Or look at strangers opposite me riding in the car, 
Or watch honey-bees busy around the hive, of a summer forenoon,
Or animals feeding in the fields, 
Or birds—or the wonderfulness of insects in the air, 
Or the wonderfulness of the sun-down—or of stars shining so quiet and bright, 
Or the exquisite, delicate, thin curve of the new moon in spring; 
Or whether I go among those I like best, and that like me best—mechanics, boatmen,
 farmers,
Or among the savans—or to the soiree—or to the opera, 
Or stand a long while looking at the movements of machinery, 
Or behold children at their sports, 
Or the admirable sight of the perfect old man, or the perfect old woman, 
Or the sick in hospitals, or the dead carried to burial,
Or my own eyes and figure in the glass; 
These, with the rest, one and all, are to me miracles, 
The whole referring—yet each distinct, and in its place.
To me, every hour of the light and dark is a miracle, Every cubic inch of space is a miracle, Every square yard of the surface of the earth is spread with the same, Every foot of the interior swarms with the same; Every spear of grass—the frames, limbs, organs, of men and women, and all that concerns them, All these to me are unspeakably perfect miracles.
To me the sea is a continual miracle; The fishes that swim—the rocks—the motion of the waves—the ships, with men in them, What stranger miracles are there?
Written by Anne Sexton | Create an image from this poem

The Ballad Of The Lonely Masturbator

 The end of the affair is always death.
She's my workshop.
Slippery eye, out of the tribe of myself my breath finds you gone.
I horrify those who stand by.
I am fed.
At night, alone, I marry the bed.
Finger to finger, now she's mine.
She's not too far.
She's my encounter.
I beat her like a bell.
I recline in the bower where you used to mount her.
You borrowed me on the flowered spread.
At night, alone, I marry the bed.
Take for instance this night, my love, that every single couple puts together with a joint overturning, beneath, above, the abundant two on sponge and feather, kneeling and pushing, head to head.
At night, alone, I marry the bed.
I break out of my body this way, an annoying miracle.
Could I put the dream market on display? I am spread out.
I crucify.
My little plum is what you said.
At night, alone, I marry the bed.
Then my black-eyed rival came.
The lady of water, rising on the beach, a piano at her fingertips, shame on her lips and a flute's speech.
And I was the knock-kneed broom instead.
At night, alone, I marry the bed.
She took you the way a women takes a bargain dress off the rack and I broke the way a stone breaks.
I give back your books and fishing tack.
Today's paper says that you are wed.
At night, alone, I marry the bed.
The boys and girls are one tonight.
They unbutton blouses.
They unzip flies.
They take off shoes.
They turn off the light.
The glimmering creatures are full of lies.
They are eating each other.
They are overfed.
At night, alone, I marry the bed.
Written by Andrew Barton Paterson | Create an image from this poem

Song of the Future

 'Tis strange that in a land so strong 
So strong and bold in mighty youth, 
We have no poet's voice of truth 
To sing for us a wondrous song.
Our chiefest singer yet has sung In wild, sweet notes a passing strain, All carelessly and sadly flung To that dull world he thought so vain.
"I care for nothing, good nor bad, My hopes are gone, my pleasures fled, I am but sifting sand," he said: What wonder Gordon's songs were sad! And yet, not always sad and hard; In cheerful mood and light of heart He told the tale of Britomarte, And wrote the Rhyme of Joyous Garde.
And some have said that Nature's face To us is always sad; but these Have never felt the smiling grace Of waving grass and forest trees On sunlit plains as wide as seas.
"A land where dull Despair is king O'er scentless flowers and songless bird!" But we have heard the bell-birds ring Their silver bells at eventide, Like fairies on the mountain side, The sweetest note man ever heard.
The wild thrush lifts a note of mirth; The bronzewing pigeons call and coo Beside their nests the long day through; The magpie warbles clear and strong A joyous, glad, thanksgiving song, For all God's mercies upon earth.
And many voices such as these Are joyful sounds for those to tell, Who know the Bush and love it well, With all its hidden mysteries.
We cannot love the restless sea, That rolls and tosses to and fro Like some fierce creature in its glee; For human weal or human woe It has no touch of sympathy.
For us the bush is never sad: Its myriad voices whisper low, In tones the bushmen only know, Its sympathy and welcome glad.
For us the roving breezes bring From many a blossum-tufted tree -- Where wild bees murmur dreamily -- The honey-laden breath of Spring.
* * * * We have our tales of other days, Good tales the northern wanderers tell When bushmen meet and camp-fires blaze, And round the ring of dancing light The great, dark bush with arms of night Folds every hearer in its spell.
We have our songs -- not songs of strife And hot blood spilt on sea and land; But lilts that link achievement grand To honest toil and valiant life.
Lift ye your faces to the sky Ye barrier mountains in the west Who lie so peacefully at rest Enshrouded in a haze of blue; 'Tis hard to feel that years went by Before the pioneers broke through Your rocky heights and walls of stone, And made your secrets all their own.
For years the fertile Western plains Were hid behind your sullen walls, Your cliffs and crags and waterfalls All weatherworn with tropic rains.
Between the mountains and the sea Like Israelites with staff in hand, The people waited restlessly: They looked towards the mountains old And saw the sunsets come and go With gorgeous golden afterglow, That made the West a fairyland, And marvelled what that West might be Of which such wondrous tales were told.
For tales were told of inland seas Like sullen oceans, salt and dead, And sandy deserts, white and wan, Where never trod the foot of man, Nor bird went winging overhead, Nor ever stirred a gracious breeze To wake the silence with its breath -- A land of loneliness and death.
At length the hardy pioneers By rock and crag found out the way, And woke with voices of today A silence kept for years and tears.
Upon the Western slope they stood And saw -- a wide expanse of plain As far as eye could stretch or see Go rolling westward endlessly.
The native grasses, tall as grain, Bowed, waved and rippled in the breeze; From boughs of blossom-laden trees The parrots answered back again.
They saw the land that it was good, A land of fatness all untrod, And gave their silent thanks to God.
The way is won! The way is won! And straightway from the barren coast There came a westward-marching host, That aye and ever onward prest With eager faces to the West, Along the pathway of the sun.
The mountains saw them marching by: They faced the all-consuming drought, They would not rest in settled land: But, taking each his life in hand, Their faces ever westward bent Beyond the farthest settlement, Responding to the challenge cry of "better country farther out".
And lo, a miracle! the land But yesterday was all unknown, The wild man's boomerang was thrown Where now great busy cities stand.
It was not much, you say, that these Should win their way where none withstood; In sooth there was not much of blood -- No war was fought between the seas.
It was not much! but we who know The strange capricious land they trod -- At times a stricken, parching sod, At times with raging floods beset -- Through which they found their lonely way Are quite content that you should say It was not much, while we can feel That nothing in the ages old, In song or story written yet On Grecian urn or Roman arch, Though it should ring with clash of steel, Could braver histories unfold Than this bush story, yet untold -- The story of their westward march.
* * * * But times are changed, and changes rung From old to new -- the olden days, The old bush life and all its ways, Are passing from us all unsung.
The freedom, and the hopeful sense Of toil that brought due recompense, Of room for all, has passed away, And lies forgotten with the dead.
Within our streets men cry for bread In cities built but yesterday.
About us stretches wealth of land, A boundless wealth of virgin soil As yet unfruitful and untilled! Our willing workmen, strong and skilled, Within our cities idle stand, And cry aloud for leave to toil.
The stunted children come and go In squalid lanes and alleys black: We follow but the beaten track Of other nations, and we grow In wealth for some -- for many, woe.
And it may be that we who live In this new land apart, beyond The hard old world grown fierce and fond And bound by precedent and bond, May read the riddle right, and give New hope to those who dimly see That all things yet shall be for good, And teach the world at length to be One vast united brotherhood.
* * * * So may it be! and he who sings In accents hopeful, clear, and strong, The glories which that future brings Shall sing, indeed, a wondrous song.
Written by Walt Whitman | Create an image from this poem

A Carol of Harvest for 1867

 1
A SONG of the good green grass! 
A song no more of the city streets; 
A song of farms—a song of the soil of fields.
A song with the smell of sun-dried hay, where the nimble pitchers handle the pitch-fork; A song tasting of new wheat, and of fresh-husk’d maize.
2 For the lands, and for these passionate days, and for myself, Now I awhile return to thee, O soil of Autumn fields, Reclining on thy breast, giving myself to thee, Answering the pulses of thy sane and equable heart, Tuning a verse for thee.
O Earth, that hast no voice, confide to me a voice! O harvest of my lands! O boundless summer growths! O lavish, brown, parturient earth! O infinite, teeming womb! A verse to seek, to see, to narrate thee.
3 Ever upon this stage, Is acted God’s calm, annual drama, Gorgeous processions, songs of birds, Sunrise, that fullest feeds and freshens most the soul, The heaving sea, the waves upon the shore, the musical, strong waves, The woods, the stalwart trees, the slender, tapering trees, The flowers, the grass, the lilliput, countless armies of the grass, The heat, the showers, the measureless pasturages, The scenery of the snows, the winds’ free orchestra, The stretching, light-hung roof of clouds—the clear cerulean, and the bulging, silvery fringes, The high dilating stars, the placid, beckoning stars, The moving flocks and herds, the plains and emerald meadows, The shows of all the varied lands, and all the growths and products.
4 Fecund America! To-day, Thou art all over set in births and joys! Thou groan’st with riches! thy wealth clothes thee as with a swathing garment! Thou laughest loud with ache of great possessions! A myriad-twining life, like interlacing vines, binds all thy vast demesne! As some huge ship, freighted to water’s edge, thou ridest into port! As rain falls from the heaven, and vapors rise from earth, so have the precious values fallen upon thee, and risen out of thee! Thou envy of the globe! thou miracle! Thou, bathed, choked, swimming in plenty! Thou lucky Mistress of the tranquil barns! Thou Prairie Dame that sittest in the middle, and lookest out upon thy world, and lookest East, and lookest West! Dispensatress, that by a word givest a thousand miles—that giv’st a million farms, and missest nothing! Thou All-Acceptress—thou Hospitable—(thou only art hospitable, as God is hospitable.
) 5 When late I sang, sad was my voice; Sad were the shows around me, with deafening noises of hatred, and smoke of conflict; In the midst of the armies, the Heroes, I stood, Or pass’d with slow step through the wounded and dying.
But now I sing not War, Nor the measur’d march of soldiers, nor the tents of camps, Nor the regiments hastily coming up, deploying in line of battle.
No more the dead and wounded; No more the sad, unnatural shows of War.
Ask’d room those flush’d immortal ranks? the first forth-stepping armies? Ask room, alas, the ghastly ranks—the armies dread that follow’d.
6 (Pass—pass, ye proud brigades! So handsome, dress’d in blue—with your tramping, sinewy legs; With your shoulders young and strong—with your knapsacks and your muskets; —How elate I stood and watch’d you, where, starting off, you march’d! Pass;—then rattle, drums, again! Scream, you steamers on the river, out of whistles loud and shrill, your salutes! For an army heaves in sight—O another gathering army! Swarming, trailing on the rear—O you dread, accruing army! O you regiments so piteous, with your mortal diarrhoea! with your fever! O my land’s maimed darlings! with the plenteous bloody bandage and the crutch! Lo! your pallid army follow’d!) 7 But on these days of brightness, On the far-stretching beauteous landscape, the roads and lanes, the high-piled farm-wagons, and the fruits and barns, Shall the dead intrude? Ah, the dead to me mar not—they fit well in Nature; They fit very well in the landscape, under the trees and grass, And along the edge of the sky, in the horizon’s far margin.
Nor do I forget you, departed; Nor in winter or summer, my lost ones; But most, in the open air, as now, when my soul is rapt and at peace—like pleasing phantoms, Your dear memories, rising, glide silently by me.
8 I saw the day, the return of the Heroes; (Yet the Heroes never surpass’d, shall never return; Them, that day, I saw not.
) I saw the interminable Corps—I saw the processions of armies, I saw them approaching, defiling by, with divisions, Streaming northward, their work done, camping awhile in clusters of mighty camps.
No holiday soldiers!—youthful, yet veterans; Worn, swart, handsome, strong, of the stock of homestead and workshop, Harden’d of many a long campaign and sweaty march, Inured on many a hard-fought, bloody field.
9 A pause—the armies wait; A million flush’d, embattled conquerors wait; The world, too, waits—then, soft as breaking night, and sure as dawn, They melt—they disappear.
Exult, indeed, O lands! victorious lands! Not there your victory, on those red, shuddering fields; But here and hence your victory.
Melt, melt away, ye armies! disperse, ye blue-clad soldiers! Resolve ye back again—give up, for good, your deadly arms; Other the arms, the fields henceforth for you, or South or North, or East or West, With saner wars—sweet wars—life-giving wars.
10 Loud, O my throat, and clear, O soul! The season of thanks, and the voice of full-yielding; The chant of joy and power for boundless fertility.
All till’d and untill’d fields expand before me; I see the true arenas of my race—or first, or last, Man’s innocent and strong arenas.
I see the Heroes at other toils; I see, well-wielded in their hands, the better weapons.
11 I see where America, Mother of All, Well-pleased, with full-spanning eye, gazes forth, dwells long, And counts the varied gathering of the products.
Busy the far, the sunlit panorama; Prairie, orchard, and yellow grain of the North, Cotton and rice of the South, and Louisianian cane; Open, unseeded fallows, rich fields of clover and timothy, Kine and horses feeding, and droves of sheep and swine, And many a stately river flowing, and many a jocund brook, And healthy uplands with their herby-perfumed breezes, And the good green grass—that delicate miracle, the ever-recurring grass.
12 Toil on, Heroes! harvest the products! Not alone on those warlike fields, the Mother of All, With dilated form and lambent eyes, watch’d you.
Toil on, Heroes! toil well! Handle the weapons well! The Mother of All—yet here, as ever, she watches you.
Well-pleased, America, thou beholdest, Over the fields of the West, those crawling monsters, The human-divine inventions, the labor-saving implements: Beholdest, moving in every direction, imbued as with life, the revolving hay-rakes, The steam-power reaping-machines, and the horse-power machines, The engines, thrashers of grain, and cleaners of grain, well separating the straw—the nimble work of the patent pitch-fork; Beholdest the newer saw-mill, the southern cotton-gin, and the rice-cleanser.
Beneath thy look, O Maternal, With these, and else, and with their own strong hands, the Heroes harvest.
All gather, and all harvest; (Yet but for thee, O Powerful! not a scythe might swing, as now, in security; Not a maize-stalk dangle, as now, its silken tassels in peace.
) 13 Under Thee only they harvest—even but a wisp of hay, under thy great face, only; Harvest the wheat of Ohio, Illinois, Wisconsin—every barbed spear, under thee; Harvest the maize of Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee—each ear in its light-green sheath, Gather the hay to its myriad mows, in the odorous, tranquil barns, Oats to their bins—the white potato, the buckwheat of Michigan, to theirs; Gather the cotton in Mississippi or Alabama—dig and hoard the golden, the sweet potato of Georgia and the Carolinas, Clip the wool of California or Pennsylvania, Cut the flax in the Middle States, or hemp, or tobacco in the Borders, Pick the pea and the bean, or pull apples from the trees, or bunches of grapes from the vines, Or aught that ripens in all These States, or North or South, Under the beaming sun, and under Thee.
Written by Robert Pinsky | Create an image from this poem

Ode To Meaning

 Dire one and desired one,
Savior, sentencer--

In an old allegory you would carry
A chained alphabet of tokens:

Ankh Badge Cross.
Dragon, Engraved figure guarding a hallowed intaglio, Jasper kinema of legendary Mind, Naked omphalos pierced By quills of rhyme or sense, torah-like: unborn Vein of will, xenophile Yearning out of Zero.
Untrusting I court you.
Wavering I seek your face, I read That Crusoe's knife Reeked of you, that to defile you The soldier makes the rabbi spit on the torah.
"I'll drown my book" says Shakespeare.
Drowned walker, revenant.
After my mother fell on her head, she became More than ever your sworn enemy.
She spoke Sometimes like a poet or critic of forty years later.
Or she spoke of the world as Thersites spoke of the heroes, "I think they have swallowed one another.
I Would laugh at that miracle.
" You also in the laughter, warrior angel: Your helmet the zodiac, rocket-plumed Your spear the beggar's finger pointing to the mouth Your heel planted on the serpent Formulation Your face a vapor, the wreath of cigarette smoke crowning Bogart as he winces through it.
You not in the words, not even Between the words, but a torsion, A cleavage, a stirring.
You stirring even in the arctic ice, Even at the dark ocean floor, even In the cellular flesh of a stone.
Gas.
Gossamer.
My poker friends Question your presence In a poem by me, passing the magazine One to another.
Not the stone and not the words, you Like a veil over Arthur's headstone, The passage from Proverbs he chose While he was too ill to teach And still well enough to read, I was Beside the master craftsman Delighting him day after day, ever At play in his presence--you A soothing veil of distraction playing over Dying Arthur playing in the hospital, Thumbing the Bible, fuzzy from medication, Ever courting your presence, And you the prognosis, You in the cough.
Gesturer, when is your spur, your cloud? You in the airport rituals of greeting and parting.
Indicter, who is your claimant? Bell at the gate.
Spiderweb iron bridge.
Cloak, video, aroma, rue, what is your Elected silence, where was your seed? What is Imagination But your lost child born to give birth to you? Dire one.
Desired one.
Savior, sentencer-- Absence, Or presence ever at play: Let those scorn you who never Starved in your dearth.
If I Dare to disparage Your harp of shadows I taste Wormwood and motor oil, I pour Ashes on my head.
You are the wound.
You Be the medicine.