Ben Jonson | |
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.
Anne Bradstreet | |
To sing of wars, of captains, and of kings,
Of cities founded, commonwealths begun,
For my mean pen, are too superior things,
And how they all, or each, their dates have run
Let poets, and historians set these forth,
My obscure verse shall not so dim their worth.
But when my wond'ring eyes, and envious heart,
Great Bartas' sugared lines do but read o'er,
Fool, I do grudge the Muses did not part
'Twixt him and me that overfluent store;
A Bartas can do what a Bartas will,
But simple I, according to my skill.
From schoolboy's tongue, no rhetoric we expect,
Nor yet a sweet consort, from broken strings,
Nor perfect beauty, where's a main defect;
My foolish, broken, blemished Muse so sings;
And this to mend, alas, no art is able,
'Cause nature made it so irreparable.
Nor can I, like that fluent sweet-tongued Greek
Who lisped at first, speak afterwards more plain.
By art, he gladly found what he did seek,
A full requital of his striving pain:
Art can do much, but this maxim's most sure.
A weak or wounded brain admits no cure.
I am obnoxious to each carping tongue,
Who says my hand a needle better fits;
A poet's pen all scorn I should thus wrong;
For such despite they cast on female wits:
If what I do prove well, it won't advance,
They'll say it's stolen, or else it was by chance.
But sure the antique Greeks were far more mild,
Else of our sex, why feigned they those nine,
And poesy made Calliope's own child?
So 'mongst the rest they placed the arts divine:
But this weak knot they will full soon untie,
The Greeks did nought, but play the fool and lie.
Let Greeks be Greeks, and women what they are,
Men have precedency, and still excel;
It is but vain, unjustly to wage war;
Men can do best, and women know it well;
Preeminence in each and all is yours,
Yet grant some small acknowledgement of ours.
And oh, ye high flown quills that soar the skies,
And ever with your prey, still catch your praise,
If e'er you deign these lowly lines your eyes,
Give wholesome parsley wreath, I ask no bays:
This mean and unrefinèd stuff of mine,
Will make your glistering gold but more to shine.
John Dryden | |
Farewell, too little, and too lately known,
Whom I began to think and call my own:
For sure our souls were near allied, and thine
Cast in the same poetic mold with mine.
One common note on either lyre did strike,
And knaves and fools we both abhorred alike.
To the same goal did both our studies drive;
The last set out the soonest did arrive.
Thus Nisus fell upon the slippery place,
While his young friend performed and won the race.
O early ripe! to thy abundant store
What could advancing age have added more?
It might (what nature never gives the young)
Have taught the numbers of thy native tongue.
But satire needs not those, and wit will shine
Through the harsh cadence of a rugged line:
A noble error, and but seldom made,
When poets are by too much force betrayed.
Thy generous fruits, though gathered ere their prime,
Still showed a quickness, and maturing time
But mellows what we write to the dull sweets of rhyme.
Once more, hail and farewell; farewell, thou young,
But ah too short, Marcellus of our tongue;
Thy brows with ivy, and with laurels bound;
But fate and gloomy night encompass thee around.
More great poems below...
Percy Bysshe Shelley | |
ON a Poet's lips I slept
Dreaming like a love-adept
In the sound his breathing kept;
Nor seeks nor finds he mortal blisses
But feeds on the aerial kisses 5
Of shapes that haunt Thought's wildernesses.
He will watch from dawn to gloom
The lake-reflected sun illume
The blue bees in the ivy-bloom
Nor heed nor see what things they be¡ª 10
But from these create he can
Forms more real than living man
Nurslings of Immortality!
A Part of an Ode to the Immortal Memory and Friendship of that noble pair Sir Lucius Cary and Sir H.
IT is not growing like a tree
In bulk doth make man better be;
Or standing long an oak three hundred year
To fall a log at last dry bald and sere:
A lily of a day 5
Is fairer far in May
Although it fall and die that night;
It was the plant and flower of light.
In small proportions we just beauties see;
And in short measures life may perfect be.
Call noble Lucius then for wine
And let thy looks with gladness shine:
Accept this garland plant it on thy head
And think¡ªnay know¡ªthy Morison 's not dead.
He leap'd the present age 15
Possest with holy rage
To see that bright eternal Day
Of which we Priests and Poets say
Such truths as we expect for happy men;
And there he lives with memory¡ªand Ben 20
Jonson: who sung this of him ere he went
Himself to rest
Or tast a part of that full joy he meant
To have exprest
In this bright Asterism 25
Where it were friendship's schism¡ª
Were not his Lucius long with us to tarry¡ª
To separate these twy
Lights the Dioscuri
And keep the one half from his Harry.
But fate doth so alternate the design
Whilst that in Heav'n this light on earth must shine.
And shine as you exalted are!
Two names of friendship but one star:
Of hearts the union: and those not by chance 35
Made or indenture or leased out to advance
The profits for a time.
No pleasures vain did chime
Of rimes or riots at your feasts
Orgies of drink or feign'd protests; 40
But simple love of greatness and of good
That knits brave minds and manners more than blood.
This made you first to know the Why
You liked then after to apply
That liking and approach so one the t'other 45
Till either grew a portion of the other:
Each styl¨¨d by his end
The copy of his friend.
You lived to be the great surnames
And titles by which all made claims 50
Unto the Virtue¡ªnothing perfect done
But as a CARY or a MORISON.
And such the force the fair example had
As they that saw
The good and durst not practise it were glad 55
That such a law
Was left yet to mankind
Where they might read and find
FRIENDSHIP indeed was written not in words
And with the heart not pen 60
Of two so early men
Whose lines her rules were and records:
Who ere the first down bloom¨¨d on the chin
Had sow'd these fruits and got the harvest in.
Oliver Wendell Holmes | |
THIS is the ship of pearl, which, poets feign,
Sails the unshadowed main,--
The venturous bark that flings
On the sweet summer wind its purpled wings
In gulfs enchanted, where the Siren sings,
And coral reefs lie bare,
Where the cold sea-maids rise to sun their streaming hair.
Its webs of living gauze no more unfurl;
Wrecked is the ship of pearl!
And every chambered cell,
Where its dim dreaming life was wont to dwell,
As the frail tenant shaped his growing shell,
Before thee lies revealed,--
Its irised ceiling rent, its sunless crypt unsealed!
Year after year beheld the silent toil
That spread his lustrous coil;
Still, as the spiral grew,
He left the past year's dwelling for the new,
Stole with soft step its shining archway through,
Built up its idle door,
Stretched in his last-found home, and knew the old no more.
Thanks for the heavenly message brought by thee,
Child of the wandering sea,
Cast from her lap, forlorn!
From thy dead lips a clearer note is born
Than ever Triton blew from wreathèd horn!
While on mine ear it rings,
Through the deep caves of thought I hear a voice that sings:--
Build thee more stately mansions, O my soul,
As the swift seasons roll!
Leave thy low-vaulted past!
Let each new temple, nobler than the last,
Shut thee from heaven with a dome more vast,
Till thou at length art free,
Leaving thine outgrown shell by life's unresting sea!
Robert Seymour Bridges | |
Since now from woodland mist and flooded clay
I am fled beside the steep Devonian shore,
Nor stand for welcome at your gothic door,
'Neath the fair tower of Magdalen and May,
Such tribute, Warren, as fond poets pay
For generous esteem, I write, not more
Enhearten'd than my need is, reckoning o'er
My life-long wanderings on the heavenly way:
But well-befriended we become good friends,
Well-honour'd honourable; and all attain
Somewhat by fathering what fortune sends.
I bid your presidency a long reign,
True friend; and may your praise to greater ends
Aid better men than I, nor me in vain.
Sir Walter Raleigh | |
I was a Poet!
But I did not know it,
Neither did my Mother,
Nor my Sister nor my Brother.
The Rich were not aware of it;
The Poor took no care of it.
The Reverend Mr.
Never knew it.
The High did not suspect it;
The Low could not detect it.
Said it was obviously untrue.
Said I was off my head:
(This from a Colonial
Was really a good testimonial.
Still everybody seemed to think
That genius owes a good deal to drink.
So that is how
I am not a poet now,
My inspiration has run dry.
It is no sort of use
To cultivate the Muse
If vulgar people
Can't tell a village pump from a church steeple.
I am merely apologizing
For the lack of the surprising
In what I write
I am quite well-meaning,
But a lot of things are always intervening
What I mean
And what it is said
I had in my head.
It is all very puzzling.
Says Poets need muzzling.
R S Thomas | |
'Listen, now, verse should be as natural
As the small tuber that feeds on muck
And grows slowly from obtuse soil
To the white flower of immortal beauty.
'Natural, hell! What was it Chaucer
Said once about the long toil
That goes like blood to the poem's making?
Leave it to nature and the verse sprawls,
Limp as bindweed, if it break at all
Life's iron crust.
Man, you must sweat
And rhyme your guts taut, if you'd build
Your verse a ladder.
'You speak as though
No sunlight ever surprised the mind
Groping on its cloudy path.
'Sunlight's a thing that needs a window
Before it enter a dark room.
Windows don't happen.
So two old poets,
Hunched at their beer in the low haze
Of an inn parlour, while the talk ran
Noisily by them, glib with prose.
Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi | |
our children do in the morning?
Will they wake with their hearts wanting to play,
the way wings
Will they have dreamed the needed flights and gathered
the strength from the planets that all
men and women need to balance
the wonderful charms of
so that her power and beauty does not make us forget our own?
I know all about the ways of the heart – how it wants to be alive.
Love so needs to love
that it will endure almost anything, even abuse,
just to flicker for a moment.
But the sky’s mouth is kind,
its song will never hurt you, for I sing those words.
What will our children do in the morning
if they do not see us
From Love Poems from God, by Daniel Ladinsky.
Copyright © 2002 by Daniel Ladinsky.
Reprinted by permission of the author.
Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi | |
Reason says, “I will beguile him with the tongue;”
Love says, “Be silent.
I will beguile him with the soul.
The soul says to the heart, “Go, do not laugh at me and yourself.
What is there that is not his, that I may beguile him thereby?”
He is not sorrowful and anxious and seeking oblivion
that I may beguile him with wine and a heavy measure.
The arrow of his glance needs not a bow that I should
beguile the shaft of his gaze with a bow.
He is not prisoner of the world, fettered to this world
of earth, that I should beguile him with gold of the kingdom of the world.
He is an angel, though in form he is a man; he is not
lustful that I should beguile him with women.
Angels start away from the house wherein this form
is, so how should I beguile him with such a form and likeness?
He does not take a flock of horses, since he flies on wings;
his food is light, so how should I beguile him with bread?
He is not a merchant and trafficker in the market of the
world that I should beguile him with enchantment of gain and loss.
He is not veiled that I should make myself out sick and
utter sighs, to beguile him with lamentation.
I will bind my head and bow my head, for I have got out
of hand; I will not beguile his compassion with sickness or fluttering.
Hair by hair he sees my crookedness and feigning; what’s
hidden from him that I should beguile him with anything hidden.
He is not a seeker of fame, a prince addicted to poets,
that I should beguile him with verses and lyrics and flowing poetry.
The glory of the unseen form is too great for me to
beguile it with blessing or Paradise.
Translated by A.
‘Mystical Poems of Rumi’ The University of Chicago Press 1991
Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi | |
There is a candle in your heart,
ready to be kindled.
There is a void in your soul,
ready to be filled.
You feel it, don’t you?
You feel the separation
from the Beloved.
Invite Him to fill you up,
embrace the fire.
Remind those who tell you otherwise that
comes to you of its own accord,
and the yearning for it
cannot be learned in any school.
From: ‘Hush Don’t Say Anything to God: Passionate Poems of Rumi’
Translated by Sharam Shiva
Mystical Poems of Rumi
Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi | |
We are as the flute, and the music in us is from thee;
we are as the mountain and the echo in us is from thee.
We are as pieces of chess engaged in victory and defeat:
our victory and defeat is from thee,
O thou whose qualities are comely!
Who are we, O Thou soul of our souls,
that we should remain in being beside thee?
We and our existences are really non-existence;
thou art the absolute Being which manifests the perishable.
We all are lions, but lions on a banner:
because of the wind they are rushing
onward from moment to moment.
Their onward rush is visible,
and the wind is unseen:
may that which is unseen not fail from us!
Our wind whereby we are moved and our being are of thy gift;
our whole existence is from thy bringing into being.
Mystical Poems of Rumi
Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi | |
All day I think about it, then at night I say it.
Where did I come from, and what am I supposed to be doing?
I have no idea.
My soul is from elsewhere, I’m sure of that,
and I intend to end up there.
This drunkenness began in some other tavern.
When I get back around to that place,
I’ll be completely sober.
I’m like a bird from another continent, sitting in this aviary.
The day is coming when I fly off,
but who is it now in my ear who hears my voice?
Who says words with my mouth?
Who looks out with my eyes? What is the soul?
I cannot stop asking.
If I could taste one sip of an answer,
I could break out of this prison for drunks.
I didn’t come here of my own accord, and I can’t leave that way.
Whoever brought me here, will have to take me home.
I never know what I’m going to say.
I don’t plan it.
When I’m outside the saying of it,
I get very quiet and rarely speak at all.
Mystical Poems of Rumi
Sir John Suckling | |
If you refuse me once, and think again,
I will complain.
You are deceiv'd, love is no work of art,
It must be got and born,
Not made and worn,
By every one that hath a heart.
Or do you think they more than once can die,
Whom you deny?
Who tell you of a thousand deaths a day,
Like the old poets feign
And tell the pain
They met, but in the common way?
Or do you think 't too soon to yield,
And quit the field?
Nor is that right, they yield that first entreat;
Once one may crave for love,
But more would prove
This heart too little, that too great.
Oh that I were all soul, that I might prove
For you as fit a love
As you are for an angel; for I know,
None but pure spirits are fit loves for you.
You are all ethereal; there's in you no dross,
Nor any part that's gross.
Your coarsest part is like a curious lawn,
The vestal relics for a covering drawn.
Your other parts, part of the purest fire
That e'er Heav'n did inspire,
Makes every thought that is refin'd by it
A quintessence of goodness and of wit.
Thus have your raptures reach'd to that degree
In love's philosophy,
That you can figure to yourself a fire
Void of all heat, a love without desire.
Nor in divinity do you go less;
You think, and you profess,
That souls may have a plenitude of joy,
Although their bodies meet not to employ.
But I must needs confess, I do not find
The motions of my mind
So purified as yet, but at the best
My body claims in them an interest.
I hold that perfect joy makes all our parts
As joyful as our hearts.
Our senses tell us, if we please not them,
Our love is but a dotage or a dream.
How shall we then agree? you may descend,
But will not, to my end.
I fain would tune my fancy to your key,
But cannot reach to that obstructed way.
There rests but this, that whilst we sorrow here,
Our bodies may draw near;
And, when no more their joys they can extend,
Then let our souls begin where they did end.