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.
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!
Jerome Rothenberg | |
I have tried an altenstil
& dropped it.
My skin is blazing,
the way I see your faces
in the glass.
With the circle of the sun
I exceed my limits.
My garments are
from the beginning
& my dwelling place
is in my self(J.
It makes me want
to fly the stars
below the paradise of poets
lost in space.
I am the father of a lie
I can make my mind
then paw at you
my fingers in
I think of God
Is it wrong to pray
without a hat
to reject the call
to grace? I long to flatter
presidents & kings.
I long for manna.
I will be the first
to sail for home
the last to flaunt
I will undo my garments
& stand before you
I will curse their god
Charles Sorley | |
Saints have adored the lofty soul of you.
Poets have whitened at your high renown.
We stand among the many millions who
Do hourly wait to pass your pathway down.
You, so familiar, once were strange: we tried
To live as of your presence unaware.
But now in every road on every side
We see your straight and steadfast signpost there.
I think it like that signpost in my land
Hoary and tall, which pointed me to go
Upward, into the hills, on the right hand,
Where the mists swim and the winds shriek and blow,
A homeless land and friendless, but a land
I did not know and that I wished to know.
Ezra Pound | |
These tales of old disguisings, are they not
Strange myths of souls that found themselves among
Unwonted folk that spake an hostile tongue,
Some soul from all the rest who'd not forgot
The star-span acres of a former lot
Where boundless mid the clouds his course he swung,
Or carnate with his elder brothers sung
Ere ballad-makers lisped of Camelot?
Old singers half-forgetful of their tunes,
Old painters color-blind come back once more,
Old poets skill-less in the wind-heart runes,
Old wizards lacking in their wonder-lore:
All they that with strange sadness in their eyes
Ponder in silence o'er earth's queynt devyse?
George Meredith | |
This golden head has wit in it.
Again, and a far higher life, near her.
Some women like a young philosopher;
Perchance because he is diminutive.
For woman's manly god must not exceed
Proportions of the natural nursing size.
Great poets and great sages draw no prize
With women: but the little lap-dog breed,
Who can be hugged, or on a mantel-piece
Perched up for adoration, these obtain
And of this we men are vain?
Of this! 'Tis ordered for the world's increase
Small flattery! Yet she has that rare gift
To beauty, Common Sense.
I am approved.
It is not half so nice as being loved,
And yet I do prefer it.
What's my drift?
William Strode | |
Dawson the Butler's dead: Although I think
Poets were ne'er infusde with single drinke
Ile spend a farthing muse; some watry verse
Will serve the turne to cast upon his hearse;
If any cannot weepe amongst us here
Take off his pott, and so squeeze out a tear:
Weepe, O his cheeses, weepe till yee bee good,
Yee that are dry or in the sun have stood;
In mossy coats und rusty liveries mourne,
Untill like him to ashes you shall turne:
Weep, O ye barrells, lett your drippings fall
In trickling streams: make waste more prodigal
Than when our drinke is badde, that John may flote
To Styx in beere, and lift upp Charon's boate
With wholesome waves.
And as our conduits run
With clarett at a Coronation,
So lett our channells flow with single tiffe,
For John, I hope, is crownde: take off your whiffe,
Yee men of Rosemary: Now drinke off all,
Remembring 'tis a Butler's funeral:
Had he bin master of good double beere,
My life for his, John Dawson had beene here.
Jonathan Swift | |
All folks who pretend to religion and grace,
Allow there's a HELL, but dispute of the place:
But, if HELL may by logical rules be defined
The place of the damned -I'll tell you my mind.
Wherever the damned do chiefly abound,
Most certainly there is HELL to be found:
Damned poets, damned critics, damned blockheads, damned knaves,
Damned senators bribed, damned prostitute slaves;
Damned lawyers and judges, damned lords and damned squires;
Damned spies and informers, damned friends and damned liars;
Damned villains, corrupted in every station;
Damned time-serving priests all over the nation;
And into the bargain I'll readily give you
Damned ignorant prelates, and counsellors privy.
Then let us no longer by parsons be flammed,
For we know by these marks the place of the damned:
And HELL to be sure is at Paris or Rome.
How happy for us that it is not at home!
Jonathan Swift | |
Ye poets ragged and forlorn,
Down from your garrets haste;
Ye rhymers, dead as soon as born,
Not yet consign'd to paste;
I know a trick to make you thrive;
O, 'tis a quaint device:
Your still-born poems shall revive,
And scorn to wrap up spice.
Get all your verses printed fair,
Then let them well be dried;
And Curll must have a special care
To leave the margin wide.
Lend these to paper-sparing Pope;
And when he sets to write,
No letter with an envelope
Could give him more delight.
When Pope has fill'd the margins round,
Why then recall your loan;
Sell them to Curll for fifty pound,
And swear they are your own.
Rabindranath Tagore | |
O woman, you are not merely the
handiwork of God, but also of men;
these are ever endowing you with
beauty from their hearts.
Poets are weaving for you a web
with threads of golden imagery;
painters are giving your form ever
The sea gives its pearls, the mines
their gold, the summer gardens their
flowers to deck you, to cover you, to
make you more precious.
The desire of men's hearts has shed
its glory over your youth.
You are one half woman and one
Rabindranath Tagore | |
Things throng and laugh loud in the sky; the sands and dust dance
and whirl like children.
Man's mind is aroused by their shouts; his
thoughts long to be the playmates of things.
Our dreams, drifting in the stream of the vague, stretch their
arms to clutch the earth, -their efforts stiffen into bricks and
stones, and thus the city of man is built.
Voices come swarming from the past,-seeking answers from the
Beats of their wings fill the air with tremulous
shadows, and sleepless thoughts in our minds leave their nests to
take flight across the desert of dimness, in the passionate thirst
They are lampless pilgrims, seeking the shore of light,
to find themselves in things.
They will be lured into poets's
rhymes, they will be housed in the towers of the town not yet
planned, they have their call to arms from the battle fields of the
future, they are bidden to join hands in the strife of peace yet
Barry Tebb | |
It is time after thirty years
We had our Poetry Renaissance
Rise, Children of Albion, rise!
It is time after nightmares of sleep
When we walked the streets of inner cities
Our poems among the burnt-out houses
And cars, whispering compassion
To the addicts shaking and the homeless
Waking and those who have come apart
In the nowhere of today
Begging in stations
Sleeping in boxes.
It is time to find
Our lost, those children
I taught three decades ago
To paint on ceilings
With sticks of incense
Rainbows of silence
For John Cage
To write on walls
In luminous paint
For Allen Ginsberg.
It is time to awaken and emblazon the sky
With symphonies of sorrow,
To draft the articles of war.
Poets of the Underground
The doors have opened
The ghost of Walt Whitman
Grey-bearded, in lonely anguish
Walks with us.
Barry Tebb | |
To Simon Jenner
NO ARMITAGE (I’d like to see his rage)
NO DUHIG (one dig long overdue)
NO GREENLAW (M & S might sue)
NO IMLAH (ditto the TLS)
NO CRICHTON SMITH or JAMIE
(Tuma’s not haggis-crazy)
NO CONSTANTINE (who’ll miss his donnish whine?)
NO LONGLEY (the QMP tick didn’t do the trick)
NO PORTER (long overdue for slaughter)
NO MAXWELL, MORRISON or MOTION
(to miss that lot I’d swim an ocean)
NO PATERSON, NO BURNSIDE,
NO SWEENEY or O’BRIEN
(triumphs of criticism by omission),
BUT WHY DID PRYNNE REFUSE TO BE IN?
-wilful obscurity, hidden grandiosity-
-what is this Prynne idolatry?
All those New Gen poets
Thwacked by omission
NOT EVEN PAULIN IS IN
NO DUNMORE OR DURCAN
O’DONOGHUE or BHATT
-you can hardly do better than that!
It really made my day
Pity it was too late for you
To review in ERATICA TWO
Note: QMP- Queen’s Medal for Poetry
Barry Tebb | |
The women are all wearing imitation silk scarves,
Blackpool or Biarritz, sipping Woman, masticating
The morning’s post, new babies and bathrooms, going
To file, snip, fiddle and smile through fish-eyes,
Crinkly green gloss, store it in stocking-tops
For next year abroad, that Pill, so perfect!
Flashing smiles from shiny domes and polished eye-lenses,
The men are glossy all over, snapping mortgages and scores
They slap fellow-souls at a distance, gun down the abusive
Clacking conductress, apologise over-loudly for their too
Plump fingers stroke smooth cheeks - bounce
Bounce, bouncing baby- faces, so manly to wet-shave!
Head heavy from dreams of bronze-fleshed centaurs
Tense with ‘The New Poets’ - no rhythm, failure of connection,
Who slept with who to get in.
Forty rose-bearing ten-year old faces are waiting
And behind them in the staff-room corpses are coffined
In eternal celluloid faces.
Marina Tsvetaeva | |
The demon in me's not dead,
He's living, and well.
In the body as in a hold,
In the self as in a cell.
The world is but walls.
The exit's the axe.
("All the world's a stage,"
The actor prates.
And that hobbling buffoon
Is no joker;
In the body as in glory,
In the body as in a toga.
May you live forever!
Cherish your life,
Only poets in bone
Are as in a lie.
No, my eloquent brothers,
We'll not have much fun,
In the body as with Father's
We deserve something better.
We wilt in the warm.
In the body as in a byre.
In the self as in a cauldron.
Marvels that perish
We don't collect.
In the body as in a marsh,
In the body as in a crypt.
In the body as in furthest
In the body as in a secret,
In the body as in the vice
Of an iron mask.
Andrei Voznesensky | |
A poet can't be in disfavour,
he needs no awards, no fame.
A star has no setting whatever,
no black nor a golden frame.
A star can't be killed with a stone, or
award, or that kind of stuff.
He'll bear the blow of a fawner
lamenting he's not big enough.
What matters is music and fervour,
not fame, nor abuse, anyway.
World powers are out of favour
when poets turn them away.
© Copyright Alec Vagapov's translation
Elinor Wylie | |
Poets make pets of pretty, docile words:
I love smooth words, like gold-enamelled fish
Which circle slowly with a silken swish,
And tender ones, like downy-feathred birds:
Words shy and dappled, deep-eyed deer in herds,
Come to my hand, and playful if I wish,
Or purring softly at a silver dish,
Blue Persian kittens fed on cream and curds.
I love bright words, words up and singing early;
Words that are luminous in the dark, and sing;
Warm lazy words, white cattle under trees;
I love words opalescent, cool, and pearly,
Like midsummer moths, and honied words like bees,
Gilded and sticky, with a little sting.
Robert William Service | |
Let poets piece prismatic words,
Give me the jewelled joy of birds!
What ecstasy moves them to sing?
Is it the lyric glee of Spring,
The dewy rapture of the rose?
Is it the worship born in those
Who are of Nature's self a part,
The adoration of the heart?
Is it the mating mood in them
That makes each crystal note a gem?
Oh mocking bird and nightingale,
Oh mavis, lark and robin - hail!
Tell me what perfect passion glows
In your inspired arpeggios?
A thrush is thrilling as I write
Its obligato of delight;
And in its fervour, as in mine,
I fathom tenderness divine,
And pity those of earthy ear
Who cannot hear .
who cannot hear.
Let poets pattern pretty words:
For lovely largesse - bless you, Birds!
Robert William Service | |
I think I'll buy a little field,
Though scant am I of pelf,
And hold the hope that it may yield
A living for myself;
For I have toiled ten thousand days
With ledger and with pen,
And I am sick of city ways
And soured with city men.
So I will plant my little plot
With lettuce, beans and peas;
Potatoes too - oh quite a lot,
An pear and apple trees.
My carrots will be coral pink,
My turnips ivory;
And I'll forget my pen and ink,
And office slavery.
My hut shall have a single room
A faggot fire for the winter gloom,
A table and a chair.
A Frugalist I call myself,
My needs are oh so small;
My luxury a classic shelf
Of poets on the wall.
Here as I dream, how grey and cold
The City seems to me;
Another world of green and gold
Incessantly I see.
So I will fling my pen away,
And learn a how to wield;
A cashbook and a stool today .
Soon, soon a Little Field.
Robert William Service | |
I scanned two lines with some surmise
As over Keats I chanced to pore:
'And there I shut her wild, wild eyes
With kisses four.
Says I: 'Why was it only four,
Not five or six or seven?
I think I would have made it more,--
'Gee! If she'd lured a guy like me
Into her gelid grot
I'd make that Belle Dame sans Merci
Sure kiss a lot.
'Them poets have their little tricks;
I think John counted kisses for,
Not two or three or five or six
To rhyme with "sore.