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
Constantine P Cavafy | |
He came to read.
Two or three books
are open; historians and poets.
But he only read for ten minutes,
and gave them up.
He is dozing
on the sofa.
He is fully devoted to books --
but he is twenty-three years old, and he's very handsome;
and this afternoon love passed
through his ideal flesh, his lips.
Through his flesh which is full of beauty
the heat of love passed;
without any silly shame for the form of the enjoyment.
Walter Savage Landor | |
Lately our poets loiter'd in green lanes,
Content to catch the ballads of the plains;
I fancied I had strength enough to climb
A loftier station at no distant time,
And might securely from intrusion doze
Upon the flowers thro' which Ilissus flows.
In those pale olive grounds all voices cease,
And from afar dust fills the paths of Greece.
My sluber broken and my doublet torn,
I find the laurel also bears a thorn.
Edwin Arlington Robinson | |
"Where's the need of singing now?"--
Smooth your brow,
Momus, and be reconciled.
For king Kronos is a child--
Child and father,
Or god rather,
And all gods are wild.
"Who reads Byron any more?"--
Shut the door
Momus, for I feel a draught;
Shut it quick, for some one laughed.
What's become of
Browning? Some of
Wordsworth lumbers like a raft?
"What are poets to find here?"--
Have no fear:
When the stars are shining blue
There will yet be left a few
And these failing,
Momus, there'll be you.
Edwin Arlington Robinson | |
I did not think that I should find them there
When I came back again; but there they stood,
As in the days they dreamed of when young blood
Was in their cheeks and women called them fair.
Be sure, they met me with an ancient air,—
And yes, there was a shop-worn brotherhood
About them; but the men were just as good,
And just as human as they ever were.
And you that ache so much to be sublime,
And you that feed yourselves with your descent,
What comes of all your visions and your fears?
Poets and kings are but the clerks of Time,
Tiering the same dull webs of discontent,
Clipping the same sad alnage of the years.
Edwin Arlington Robinson | |
As long as Fame's imperious music rings
Will poets mock it with crowned words august;
And haggard men will clamber to be kings
As long as Glory weighs itself in dust.
Drink to the splendor of the unfulfilled,
Nor shudder for the revels that are done:
The wines that flushed Lucullus are all spilled,
The strings that Nero fingered are all gone.
We cannot crown ourselves with everything,
Nor can we coax the Fates for us to quarrel:
No matter what we are, or what we sing,
Time finds a withered leaf in every laurel.
Ella Wheeler Wilcox | |
Long have the poets vaunted, in their lays,
Old times, old loves, old friendships, and old wine
Why should the old monopolise all praise?
Then let the new claim mine.
Give me strong new friends, when the old prove weak,
Or fail me in my darkest hour of need;
Why perish with the ship that springs a leak,
Or lean upon a read?
Give me new love, warm, palpitating, sweet,
When all the grace and beauty leaves the old;
When like a rose it withers at my feet,
Or like a hearth grows cold.
Give me new times, bright with a prosperous cheer,
In place of old, tear-blotted, burdened days;
I hold a sunlit present far more dear,
And worthy of my praise.
When the old creeds are threadbare, and worn through,
And all too narrow for the broadening soul,
Give me the fine, firm texture of the new,
Fair, beautiful and whole.
Algernon Charles Swinburne | |
Crowned, girdled, garbed and shod with light and fire,
Son first-born of the morning, sovereign star!
Soul nearest ours of all, that wert most far,
Most far off in the abysm of time, thy lyre
Hung highest above the dawn-enkindled quire
Where all ye sang together, all that are,
And all the starry songs behind thy car
Rang sequence, all our souls acclaim thee sire.
"If all the pens that ever poets held
Had fed the feeling of their masters' thoughts,"
And as with rush of hurtling chariots
The flight of all their spirits were impelled
Toward one great end, thy glory--nay, not then,
Not yet might'st thou be praised enough of men.
Mary Darby Robinson | |
When, in the gloomy mansion of the dead,
This with'ring heart, this faded form shall sleep;
When these fond eyes, at length shall cease to weep,
And earth's cold lap receive this fev'rish head;
Envy shall turn away, a tear to shed,
And Time's obliterating pinions sweep
The spot, where poets shall their vigils keep,
To mourn and wander near my freezing bed!
Then, my pale ghost, upon th' Elysian shore,
Shall smile, releas'd from ev'ry mortal care;
Whil, doom'd love's victim to repine no more,
My breast shall bathe in endless rapture there!
Ah! no!my restless shade would still deplore,
Nor taste that bliss, which Phaon did not share.
Henry Van Dyke | |
On his "Book of Joyous Children"
Yours is a garden of old-fashioned flowers;
Joyous children delight to play there;
Weary men find rest in its bowers,
Watching the lingering light of day there.
Old-time tunes and young love's laughter
Ripple and run among the roses;
Memory's echoes, murmuring after,
Fill the dusk when the long day closes.
Simple songs with a cadence olden--
These you learned in the Forest of Arden:
Friendly flowers with hearts all golden--
These you borrowed from Eden's garden.
This is the reason why all men love you;
Truth to life is the charm of art:
Other poets may soar above you--
You keep close to the human heart.
Henry Van Dyke | |
How blind the toil that burrows like the mole,
In winding graveyard pathways underground,
For Browning's lineage! What if men have found
Poor footmen or rich merchants on the roll
Of his forbears? Did they beget his soul?
Nay, for he came of ancestry renowned
Through all the world, -- the poets laurel-crowned
With wreaths from which the autumn takes no toll.
The blazons on his coat-of-arms are these:
The flaming sign of Shelley's heart on fire,
The golden globe of Shakespeare's human stage,
The staff and scrip of Chaucer's pilgrimage,
The rose of Dante's deep, divine desire,
The tragic mask of wise Euripides.
Rainer Maria Rilke | |
I am always going from door to door,
whether in rain or heat,
and sometimes I will lay my right ear in
the palm of my right hand.
And as I speak my voice seems strange as if
it were alien to me,
for I'm not certain whose voice is crying:
mine or someone else's.
I cry for a pittance to sustain me.
The poets cry for more.
In the end I conceal my entire face
and cover both my eyes;
there it lies in my hands with all its weight
and looks as if at rest,
so no one may think I had no place where-
upon to lay my head.
Lucy Maud Montgomery | |
It came to him in rainbow dreams,
Blent with the wisdom of the sages,
Of spirit and of passion born;
In words as lucent as the morn
He prisoned it, and now it gleams
A jewel shining through the ages.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe | |
[The strong resemblance of this fine poem to
Cowley's Ode bearing the same name, and beginning "Happy insect!
what can be," will be at once seen.
HAPPY art thou, darling insect,
Who, upon the trees' tall branches,
By a modest draught inspired,
Singing, like a monarch livest!
Thou possessest as thy portion
All that on the plains thou seest,
All that by the hours is brought thee
'Mongst the husbandmen thou livest,
As a friend, uninjured by them,
Thou whom mortals love to honour,
Herald sweet of sweet Spring's advent!
Yes, thou'rt loved by all the Muses,
Phoebus' self, too, needs must love thee;
They their silver voices gave thee,
Age can never steal upon thee.
Wise and gentle friend of poets,
Born a creature fleshless, bloodless,
Though Earth's daughter, free from suff'ring,
To the gods e'en almost equal.
Ellis Parker Butler | |
Ho, ye lovers, list to me;
Warning words have I for thee:
Give ye heed, hefore ye wed,
To this thing Sir Chaucer said:
“Love wol not be constrained by maistrie,
When maistrie cometh, the god of love anon
Beteth his winges, and farewel, he is gon.
Other poets knew as well,
And the same sad story tell,
Hark ye, heed ye, while ye may,
What the worldly Pope doth say:
“Love, free as air, at sight of human ties
Spreads his light wings and in a moment flies.
This, Sir Hudibras, brave knight,
Faithful lover, constant wight,
From his lady’s lips did hear;
Mark ye, eke, the warning clear:
“Love is too generous t’abide
To be against its nature ty’d,
For where ’tis of itself inclin’d,
It breaks loose when it is confin’d.
Ho, ye lovers, shall I tell
How through life with Love to dwell,
Spite of all the poets say?
Harken to the easy way:—
Strive to bind him not, but see
That the little god binds thee.
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.
Laura Riding Jackson | |
Here where the end of bone is no end of song
And the earth is bedecked with immortality
In what was poetry
And now is pride beside
Here is a battle with no bravery
But if the coward's tongue has gone
Swording his own lusty lung.
Listen if there is victory
Written into a library
Waving the books in banners
Soldierly at last, for the lines
Go marching on, delivered of the soul.
And happily may they rest beyond
Suspicion now, the incomprehensibles
Traitorous in such talking
As chattered over their countries' boundaries.
The graves are gardened and the whispering
Stops at the hedges, there is singing
Of it in the ranks, there is a hush
Where the ground has limits
And the rest is loveliness.
Death has an understanding of it
Loyal to many flags
And is a silent ally of any country
Beset in its mortal heart
With immortal poetry.