Oliver Wendell Holmes | |
Life is real, life is earnest,
And the shell is not its pen –
“Egg thou art, and egg remainest”
Was not spoken of the hen.
Art is long and Time is fleeting,
Be our bills then sharpened well,
And not like muffled drums be beating
On the inside of the shell.
In the world’s broad field of battle,
In the great barnyard of life,
Be not like those lazy cattle!
Be a rooster in the strife!
Lives of roosters all remind us,
We can make our lives sublime,
And when roasted, leave behind us,
Hen tracks on the sands of time.
Hen tracks that perhaps another
Chicken drooping in the rain,
Some forlorn and henpecked brother,
When he sees, shall crow again.
A E Housman | |
O why do you walk through the fields in boots,
Missing so much and so much?
O fat white woman whom nobody shoots,
Why do you walk through the fields in boots,
When the grass is soft as the breast of coots
And shivering-sweet to the touch?
G K Chesterton | |
When forests walked and fishes flew
And figs grew upon thorn,
Some moment when the moon was blood,
Then, surely, I was born.
With monstrous head and sickening bray
And ears like errant wings—
The devil's walking parody
Of all four-footed things:
The battered outlaw of the earth
Of ancient crooked will;
Scourge, beat, deride me—I am dumb—
I keep my secret still.
Fools! For I also had my hour—
One far fierce hour and sweet:
There was a shout around my head
And palms about my feet.
More great poems below...
Friedrich von Schiller | |
I, too, at length discerned great Hercules' energy mighty,--
Saw his shade.
He himself was not, alas, to be seen.
Round him were heard, like the screaming of birds,
the screams of tragedians,
And, with the baying of dogs, barked dramaturgists around.
There stood the giant in all his terrors; his bow was extended,
And the bolt, fixed on the string, steadily aimed at the heart.
"What still hardier action, unhappy one, dost thou now venture,
Thus to descend to the grave of the departed souls here?"--
"'Tis to see Tiresias I come, to ask of the prophet
Where I the buskin of old, that now has vanished, may find?"
"If they believe not in Nature, nor the old Grecian, but vainly
Wilt thou convey up from hence that dramaturgy to them.
"Oh, as for Nature, once more to tread our stage she has ventured,
Ay, and stark-naked beside, so that each rib we count.
"What? Is the buskin of old to be seen in truth on your stage, then,
Which even I came to fetch, out of mid-Tartarus' gloom?"--
"There is now no more of that tragic bustle, for scarcely
Once in a year on the boards moves thy great soul, harness-clad.
"Doubtless 'tis well! Philosophy now has refined your sensations,
And from the humor so bright fly the affections so black.
"Ay, there is nothing that beats a jest that is stolid and barren,
But then e'en sorrow can please, if 'tis sufficiently moist.
"But do ye also exhibit the graceful dance of Thalia,
Joined to the solemn step with which Melpomene moves?"--
"Neither! For naught we love but what is Christian and moral;
And what is popular, too, homely, domestic, and plain.
"What? Does no Caesar, does no Achilles, appear on your stage now,
Not an Andromache e'en, not an Orestes, my friend?"
"No! there is naught to be seen there but parsons,
and syndics of commerce,
Secretaries perchance, ensigns, and majors of horse.
"But, my good friend, pray tell me, what can such people e'er meet with
That can be truly called great?--what that is great can they do?"
"What? Why they form cabals, they lend upon mortgage, they pocket
Silver spoons, and fear not e'en in the stocks to be placed.
"Whence do ye, then, derive the destiny, great and gigantic,
Which raises man up on high, e'en when it grinds him to dust?"--
"All mere nonsense! Ourselves, our worthy acquaintances also,
And our sorrows and wants, seek we, and find we, too, here.
"But all this ye possess at home both apter and better,--
Wherefore, then, fly from yourselves, if 'tis yourselves that ye seek?"
"Be not offended, great hero, for that is a different question;
Ever is destiny blind,--ever is righteous the bard.
"Then one meets on your stage your own contemptible nature,
While 'tis in vain one seeks there nature enduring and great?"
"There the poet is host, and act the fifth is the reckoning;
And, when crime becomes sick, virtue sits down to the feast!"
Kenneth Patchen | |
when we were here together in a place we did not know, nor one
A bit of grass held between the teeth for a moment, bright hair on the
What we were we did not know, nor even the grass or the flame of
hair turning to ash on the wind.
But they lied about that.
From the beginning they lied.
To the child,
telling him that there was somewhere anger against him, and a
hatred against him, and the only reason for his being in the
But never did they tell him that the only evil and danger was in
themselves; that they alone were the prisoners and the betrayers;
that they - they alone - were responsible for what was being done
in the world.
And they told the child to starve and to kill the child that was within
him; for only by doing this could he become a useful and adjusted
member of the community which they had prepared for him.
And this time, alas, they did not lie.
And with the death of the child was born a thing that had neither
the character of a man nor the character of a child, but was a
horrible and monstrous parody of the two; and it is in this world
now that the flesh of man’s spirit lies twisted and despoiled under
the indifferent stars.
When we were here together in a place we did not know, nor one
O green the bit of warm grass between our teeth.
O beautiful the hair
of our mortal goddess on the indifferent wind.
Ezra Pound | |
Winter is icummen in,
Lhude sing Goddamm.
Raineth drop and staineth slop,
And how the wind doth ramm!
Skiddeth bus and sloppeth us,
An ague hath my ham.
Freezeth river, turneth liver,
Damn you, sing: Goddamm.
Goddamm, Goddamm, 'tis why I am, Goddamm,
So 'gainst the winter's balm.
Sing goddamm, damm, sing Goddamm.
Sing goddamm, sing goddamm, DAMM.
A parody of the Anglo-Saxon poem, Cuckoo Song
Philip Levine | |
Earth and water without form,
change, or pause: as if the third
day had not come, this calm norm
of chaos denies the Word.
One sees only a surface
pocked with rushes, the starved clumps
pressed between water and space --
rootless, perennial stumps
fixed in position, entombed
in nothing; it is too late
to bring forth branches, to bloom
or die, only the long wait
lies ahead, a parody
this is creation, this sea
constant before the stunned eye's
insatiable gaze, shall find
nothing he can comprehend.
Here the mind beholds the mind
as it shall be in the end.
Maggie Estep | |
I am THE SEX GODDESS OF THE WESTERN HEMISPHERE
so don't mess with me
I've got a big bag full of SEX TOYS
and you can't have any
'cause they're all mine
the SEX GODDESS OF THE WESTERN HEMISPHERE.
"Hey," you may say to yourself,
"who the hell's she tryin' to kid,
she's no sex goddess,"
But trust me,
if only for the fact that I have
the unabashed gall
myself a SEX GODDESS,
I mean, after all,
it's what so many of us have at some point thought,
we've all had someone
who worshipped our filthy socks
and barked like a dog when we were near
giving us cause
to pause and think: You know, I may not look like much
but deep inside, I am a SEX GODDESS.
we'd never come out and admit it publicly
well, you wouldn't admit it publicly
but I will
because I am
THE SEX GODDESS OF THE WESTERN HEMISPHERE.
I haven't always been
a SEX GODDESS
I used to be just a mere mortal woman
but I grew tired of sexuality being repressed
in late night 900 number ads
where 3 bodacious bimbettes
heave cleavage into the camera's winking lens and sigh:
"Big Girls oooh, Bad Girls oooh, Blonde Girls oooh,
you know what to do, call 1-900-UNMITIGATED BIMBO ooooh.
I got fed up with the oooh oooh oooh oooh oooh
I got fed up with it all
so I put on my combat boots
and hit the road with my bag full of SEX TOYS
that were a vital part of my SEX GODDESS image
even though I would never actually use
my SEX TOYS
'cause my being a SEX GODDESS
it isn't a SEXUAL thing
it's a POLITICAL thing
I don't actually have SEX, no
I'm too busy taking care of
important SEX GODDESS BUSINESS,
I gotta go on The Charlie Rose Show
and MTV and become a parody
of myself and make
buckets full of money off my own inane brand
of self-righteous POP PSYCHOLOGY
because my pain is different
because I am a SEX GODDESS
and when I talk,
Because, you guessed it,
I AM THE SEX GODDESS OF THE WESTERN HEMISPHERE
and you're not.
Sylvia Plath | |
How this tart fable instructs
And mocks! Here's the parody of that moral mousetrap
Set in the proverbs stitched on samplers
Approving chased girls who get them to a tree
And put on bark's nun-black
Habit which deflects
All amorous arrows.
For to sheathe the virgin shape
In a scabbard of wood baffles pursuers,
Whether goat-thighed or god-haloed.
Ever since that first Daphne
Switched her incomparable back
For a bay-tree hide, respect's
Twined to her hard limbs like ivy: the puritan lip
Cries: 'Celebrate Syrinx whose demurs
Won her the frog-colored skin, pale pith and watery
Bed of a reed.
Pine-needle armor protects
Pitys from Pan's assault! And though age drop
Their leafy crowns, their fame soars,
Eclipsing Eva, Cleo and Helen of Troy:
For which of those would speak
For a fashion that constricts
White bodies in a wooden girdle, root to top
Unfaced, unformed, the nipple-flowers
Shrouded to suckle darkness? Only they
Who keep cool and holy make
A sanctum to attract
Green virgins, consecrating limb and lip
To chastity's service: like prophets, like preachers,
They descant on the serene and seraphic beauty
Of virgins for virginity's sake.
Be certain some such pact's
Been struck to keep all glory in the grip
Of ugly spinsters and barren sirs
As you etch on the inner window of your eye
This virgin on her rack:
She, ripe and unplucked, 's
Lain splayed too long in the tortuous boughs: overripe
Now, dour-faced, her fingers
Stiff as twigs, her body woodenly
Askew, she'll ache and wake
Though doomsday bud.
Given her lips that lemon-tasting droop:
Untongued, all beauty's bright juice sours.
Tree-twist will ape this gross anatomy
Till irony's bough break.