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Best Famous Religious Poems

Here is a collection of the all-time best famous Religious poems. This is a select list of the best famous Religious poetry. Reading, writing, and enjoying famous Religious poetry (as well as classical and contemporary poems) is a great past time. These top poems are the best examples of religious poems.

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Written by Robert Pinsky | Create an image from this poem

Impossible To Tell

 to Robert Hass and in memory of Elliot Gilbert


Slow dulcimer, gavotte and bow, in autumn,
Bashõ and his friends go out to view the moon;
In summer, gasoline rainbow in the gutter,

The secret courtesy that courses like ichor
Through the old form of the rude, full-scale joke,
Impossible to tell in writing.
"Bashõ" He named himself, "Banana Tree": banana After the plant some grateful students gave him, Maybe in appreciation of his guidance Threading a long night through the rules and channels Of their collaborative linking-poem Scored in their teacher's heart: live, rigid, fluid Like passages etched in a microscopic cicuit.
Elliot had in his memory so many jokes They seemed to breed like microbes in a culture Inside his brain, one so much making another It was impossible to tell them all: In the court-culture of jokes, a top banana.
Imagine a court of one: the queen a young mother, Unhappy, alone all day with her firstborn child And her new baby in a squalid apartment Of too few rooms, a different race from her neighbors.
She tells the child she's going to kill herself.
She broods, she rages.
Hoping to distract her, The child cuts capers, he sings, he does imitations Of different people in the building, he jokes, He feels if he keeps her alive until the father Gets home from work, they'll be okay till morning.
It's laughter versus the bedroom and the pills.
What is he in his efforts but a courtier? Impossible to tell his whole delusion.
In the first months when I had moved back East From California and had to leave a message On Bob's machine, I used to make a habit Of telling the tape a joke; and part-way through, I would pretend that I forgot the punchline, Or make believe that I was interrupted-- As though he'd be so eager to hear the end He'd have to call me back.
The joke was Elliot's, More often than not.
The doctors made the blunder That killed him some time later that same year.
One day when I got home I found a message On my machine from Bob.
He had a story About two rabbis, one of them tall, one short, One day while walking along the street together They see the corpse of a Chinese man before them, And Bob said, sorry, he forgot the rest.
Of course he thought that his joke was a dummy, Impossible to tell--a dead-end challenge.
But here it is, as Elliot told it to me: The dead man's widow came to the rabbis weeping, Begging them, if they could, to resurrect him.
Shocked, the tall rabbi said absolutely not.
But the short rabbi told her to bring the body Into the study house, and ordered the shutters Closed so the room was night-dark.
Then he prayed Over the body, chanting a secret blessing Out of Kabala.
"Arise and breathe," he shouted; But nothing happened.
The body lay still.
So then The little rabbi called for hundreds of candles And danced around the body, chanting and praying In Hebrew, then Yiddish, then Aramaic.
He prayed In Turkish and Egyptian and Old Galician For nearly three hours, leaping about the coffin In the candlelight so that his tiny black shoes Seemed not to touch the floor.
With one last prayer Sobbed in the Spanish of before the Inquisition He stopped, exhausted, and looked in the dead man's face.
Panting, he raised both arms in a mystic gesture And said, "Arise and breathe!" And still the body Lay as before.
Impossible to tell In words how Elliot's eyebrows flailed and snorted Like shaggy mammoths as--the Chinese widow Granting permission--the little rabbi sang The blessing for performing a circumcision And removed the dead man's foreskin, chanting blessings In Finnish and Swahili, and bathed the corpse From head to foot, and with a final prayer In Babylonian, gasping with exhaustion, He seized the dead man's head and kissed the lips And dropped it again and leaping back commanded, "Arise and breathe!" The corpse lay still as ever.
At this, as when Bashõ's disciples wind Along the curving spine that links the renga Across the different voices, each one adding A transformation according to the rules Of stasis and repetition, all in order And yet impossible to tell beforehand, Elliot changes for the punchline: the wee Rabbi, still panting, like a startled boxer, Looks at the dead one, then up at all those watching, A kind of Mel Brooks gesture: "Hoo boy!" he says, "Now that's what I call really dead.
" O mortal Powers and princes of earth, and you immortal Lords of the underground and afterlife, Jehovah, Raa, Bol-Morah, Hecate, Pluto, What has a brilliant, living soul to do with Your harps and fires and boats, your bric-a-brac And troughs of smoking blood? Provincial stinkers, Our languages don't touch you, you're like that mother Whose small child entertained her to beg her life.
Possibly he grew up to be the tall rabbi, The one who washed his hands of all those capers Right at the outset.
Or maybe he became The author of these lines, a one-man renga The one for whom it seems to be impossible To tell a story straight.
It was a routine Procedure.
When it was finished the physicians Told Sandra and the kids it had succeeded, But Elliot wouldn't wake up for maybe an hour, They should go eat.
The two of them loved to bicker In a way that on his side went back to Yiddish, On Sandra's to some Sicilian dialect.
He used to scold her endlessly for smoking.
When she got back from dinner with their children The doctors had to tell them about the mistake.
Oh swirling petals, falling leaves! The movement Of linking renga coursing from moment to moment Is meaning, Bob says in his Haiku book.
Oh swirling petals, all living things are contingent, Falling leaves, and transient, and they suffer.
But the Universal is the goal of jokes, Especially certain ethnic jokes, which taper Down through the swirling funnel of tongues and gestures Toward their preposterous Ithaca.
There's one A journalist told me.
He heard it while a hero Of the South African freedom movement was speaking To elderly Jews.
The speaker's own right arm Had been blown off by right-wing letter-bombers.
He told his listeners they had to cast their ballots For the ANC--a group the old Jews feared As "in with the Arabs.
" But they started weeping As the old one-armed fighter told them their country Needed them to vote for what was right, their vote Could make a country their children could return to From London and Chicago.
The moved old people Applauded wildly, and the speaker's friend Whispered to the journalist, "It's the Belgian Army Joke come to life.
" I wish I could tell it To Elliot.
In the Belgian Army, the feud Between the Flemings and Walloons grew vicious, So out of hand the army could barely function.
Finally one commander assembled his men In one great room, to deal with things directly.
They stood before him at attention.
"All Flemings," He ordered, "to the left wall.
" Half the men Clustered to the left.
"Now all Walloons," he ordered, "Move to the right.
" An equal number crowded Against the right wall.
Only one man remained At attention in the middle: "What are you, soldier?" Saluting, the man said, "Sir, I am a Belgian.
" "Why, that's astonishing, Corporal--what's your name?" Saluting again, "Rabinowitz," he answered: A joke that seems at first to be a story About the Jews.
But as the renga describes Religious meaning by moving in drifting petals And brittle leaves that touch and die and suffer The changing winds that riffle the gutter swirl, So in the joke, just under the raucous music Of Fleming, Jew, Walloon, a courtly allegiance Moves to the dulcimer, gavotte and bow, Over the banana tree the moon in autumn-- Allegiance to a state impossible to tell.
Written by David Berman | Create an image from this poem

Self-Portrait At 28

 I know it's a bad title
but I'm giving it to myself as a gift
on a day nearly canceled by sunlight
when the entire hill is approaching
the ideal of Virginia
brochured with goldenrod and loblolly
and I think "at least I have not woken up
with a bloody knife in my hand"
by then having absently wandered
one hundred yards from the house
while still seated in this chair
with my eyes closed.
It is a certain hill the one I imagine when I hear the word "hill" and if the apocalypse turns out to be a world-wide nervous breakdown if our five billion minds collapse at once well I'd call that a surprise ending and this hill would still be beautiful a place I wouldn't mind dying alone or with you.
I am trying to get at something and I want to talk very plainly to you so that we are both comforted by the honesty.
You see there is a window by my desk I stare out when I am stuck though the outdoors has rarely inspired me to write and I don't know why I keep staring at it.
My childhood hasn't made good material either mostly being a mulch of white minutes with a few stand out moments, popping tar bubbles on the driveway in the summer a certain amount of pride at school everytime they called it "our sun" and playing football when the only play was "go out long" are what stand out now.
If squeezed for more information I can remember old clock radios with flipping metal numbers and an entree called Surf and Turf.
As a way of getting in touch with my origins every night I set the alarm clock for the time I was born so that waking up becomes a historical reenactment and the first thing I do is take a reading of the day and try to flow with it like when you're riding a mechanical bull and you strain to learn the pattern quickly so you don't inadverantly resist it.
II two I can't remember being born and no one else can remember it either even the doctor who I met years later at a cocktail party.
It's one of the little disappointments that makes you think about getting away going to Holly Springs or Coral Gables and taking a room on the square with a landlady whose hands are scored by disinfectant, telling the people you meet that you are from Alaska, and listen to what they have to say about Alaska until you have learned much more about Alaska than you ever will about Holly Springs or Coral Gables.
Sometimes I am buying a newspaper in a strange city and think "I am about to learn what it's like to live here.
" Oftentimes there is a news item about the complaints of homeowners who live beside the airport and I realize that I read an article on this subject nearly once a year and always receive the same image.
I am in bed late at night in my house near the airport listening to the jets fly overhead a strange wife sleeping beside me.
In my mind, the bedroom is an amalgamation of various cold medicine commercial sets (there is always a box of tissue on the nightstand).
I know these recurring news articles are clues, flaws in the design though I haven't figured out how to string them together yet, but I've begun to notice that the same people are dying over and over again, for instance Minnie Pearl who died this year for the fourth time in four years.
III three Today is the first day of Lent and once again I'm not really sure what it is.
How many more years will I let pass before I take the trouble to ask someone? It reminds of this morning when you were getting ready for work.
I was sitting by the space heater numbly watching you dress and when you asked why I never wear a robe I had so many good reasons I didn't know where to begin.
If you were cool in high school you didn't ask too many questions.
You could tell who'd been to last night's big metal concert by the new t-shirts in the hallway.
You didn't have to ask and that's what cool was: the ability to deduct to know without asking.
And the pressure to simulate coolness means not asking when you don't know, which is why kids grow ever more stupid.
A yearbook's endpages, filled with promises to stay in touch, stand as proof of the uselessness of a teenager's promise.
Not like I'm dying for a letter from the class stoner ten years on but.
.
.
Do you remember the way the girls would call out "love you!" conveniently leaving out the "I" as if they didn't want to commit to their own declarations.
I agree that the "I" is a pretty heavy concept and hope you won't get uncomfortable if I should go into some deeper stuff here.
IV four There are things I've given up on like recording funny answering machine messages.
It's part of growing older and the human race as a group has matured along the same lines.
It seems our comedy dates the quickest.
If you laugh out loud at Shakespeare's jokes I hope you won't be insulted if I say you're trying too hard.
Even sketches from the original Saturday Night Live seem slow-witted and obvious now.
It's just that our advances are irrepressible.
Nowadays little kids can't even set up lemonade stands.
It makes people too self-conscious about the past, though try explaining that to a kid.
I'm not saying it should be this way.
All this new technology will eventually give us new feelings that will never completely displace the old ones leaving everyone feeling quite nervous and split in two.
We will travel to Mars even as folks on Earth are still ripping open potato chip bags with their teeth.
Why? I don't have the time or intelligence to make all the connections like my friend Gordon (this is a true story) who grew up in Braintree Massachusetts and had never pictured a brain snagged in a tree until I brought it up.
He'd never broken the name down to its parts.
By then it was too late.
He had moved to Coral Gables.
V five The hill out my window is still looking beautiful suffused in a kind of gold national park light and it seems to say, I'm sorry the world could not possibly use another poem about Orpheus but I'm available if you're not working on a self-portrait or anything.
I'm watching my dog have nightmares, twitching and whining on the office floor and I try to imagine what beast has cornered him in the meadow where his dreams are set.
I'm just letting the day be what it is: a place for a large number of things to gather and interact -- not even a place but an occasion a reality for real things.
Friends warned me not to get too psychedelic or religious with this piece: "They won't accept it if it's too psychedelic or religious," but these are valid topics and I'm the one with the dog twitching on the floor possibly dreaming of me that part of me that would beat a dog for no good reason no reason that a dog could see.
I am trying to get at something so simple that I have to talk plainly so the words don't disfigure it and if it turns out that what I say is untrue then at least let it be harmless like a leaky boat in the reeds that is bothering no one.
VI six I can't trust the accuracy of my own memories, many of them having blended with sentimental telephone and margarine commercials plainly ruined by Madison Avenue though no one seems to call the advertising world "Madison Avenue" anymore.
Have they moved? Let's get an update on this.
But first I have some business to take care of.
I walked out to the hill behind our house which looks positively Alaskan today and it would be easier to explain this if I had a picture to show you but I was with our young dog and he was running through the tall grass like running through the tall grass is all of life together until a bird calls or he finds a beer can and that thing fills all the space in his head.
You see, his mind can only hold one thought at a time and when he finally hears me call his name he looks up and cocks his head and for a single moment my voice is everything: Self-portrait at 28.
Written by Ted Hughes | Create an image from this poem

The Harvest Moon

The flame-red moon, the harvest moon,
Rolls along the hills, gently bouncing,
A vast balloon,
Till it takes off, and sinks upward
To lie on the bottom of the sky, like a gold doubloon.
The harvest moon has come, Booming softly through heaven, like a bassoon.
And the earth replies all night, like a deep drum.
So people can't sleep, So they go out where elms and oak trees keep A kneeling vigil, in a religious hush.
The harvest moon has come! And all the moonlit cows and all the sheep Stare up at her petrified, while she swells Filling heaven, as if red hot, and sailing Closer and closer like the end of the world.
Till the gold fields of stiff wheat Cry `We are ripe, reap us!' and the rivers Sweat from the melting hills.
Written by William Wordsworth | Create an image from this poem

Resolution And Independence

 I 

There was a roaring in the wind all night; 
The rain came heavily and fell in floods; 
But now the sun is rising calm and bright; 
The birds are singing in the distant woods; 
Over his own sweet voice the Stock-dove broods; 
The Jay makes answer as the Magpie chatters; 
And all the air is filled with pleasant noise of waters.
II All things that love the sun are out of doors; The sky rejoices in the morning's birth; The grass is bright with rain-drops;--on the moors The hare is running races in her mirth; And with her feet she from the plashy earth Raises a mist, that, glittering in the sun, Runs with her all the way, wherever she doth run.
III I was a Traveller then upon the moor, I saw the hare that raced about with joy; I heard the woods and distant waters roar; Or heard them not, as happy as a boy: The pleasant season did my heart employ: My old remembrances went from me wholly; And all the ways of men, so vain and melancholy.
IV But, as it sometimes chanceth, from the might Of joy in minds that can no further go, As high as we have mounted in delight In our dejection do we sink as low; To me that morning did it happen so; And fears and fancies thick upon me came; Dim sadness--and blind thoughts, I knew not, nor could name.
V I heard the sky-lark warbling in the sky; And I bethought me of the playful hare: Even such a happy Child of earth am I; Even as these blissful creatures do I fare; Far from the world I walk, and from all care; But there may come another day to me-- Solitude, pain of heart, distress, and poverty.
VI My whole life I have lived in pleasant thought, As if life's business were a summer mood; As if all needful things would come unsought To genial faith, still rich in genial good; But how can He expect that others should Build for him, sow for him, and at his call Love him, who for himself will take no heed at all? VII I thought of Chatterton, the marvellous Boy, The sleepless Soul that perished in his pride; Of Him who walked in glory and in joy Following his plough, along the mountain-side: By our own spirits are we deified: We Poets in our youth begin in gladness; But thereof come in the end despondency and madness.
VIII Now, whether it were by peculiar grace, A leading from above, a something given, Yet it befell, that, in this lonely place, When I with these untoward thoughts had striven, Beside a pool bare to the eye of heaven I saw a Man before me unawares: The oldest man he seemed that ever wore grey hairs.
IX As a huge stone is sometimes seen to lie Couched on the bald top of an eminence; Wonder to all who do the same espy, By what means it could thither come, and whence; So that it seems a thing endued with sense: Like a sea-beast crawled forth, that on a shelf Of rock or sand reposeth, there to sun itself; X Such seemed this Man, not all alive nor dead, Nor all asleep--in his extreme old age: His body was bent double, feet and head Coming together in life's pilgrimage; As if some dire constraint of pain, or rage Of sickness felt by him in times long past, A more than human weight upon his frame had cast.
XI Himself he propped, limbs, body, and pale face, Upon a long grey staff of shaven wood: And, still as I drew near with gentle pace, Upon the margin of that moorish flood Motionless as a cloud the old Man stood, That heareth not the loud winds when they call And moveth all together, if it move at all.
XII At length, himself unsettling, he the pond Stirred with his staff, and fixedly did look Upon the muddy water, which he conned, As if he had been reading in a book: And now a stranger's privilege I took; And, drawing to his side, to him did say, "This morning gives us promise of a glorious day.
" XIII A gentle answer did the old Man make, In courteous speech which forth he slowly drew: And him with further words I thus bespake, "What occupation do you there pursue? This is a lonesome place for one like you.
" Ere he replied, a flash of mild surprise Broke from the sable orbs of his yet-vivid eyes, XIV His words came feebly, from a feeble chest, But each in solemn order followed each, With something of a lofty utterance drest-- Choice word and measured phrase, above the reach Of ordinary men; a stately speech; Such as grave Livers do in Scotland use, Religious men, who give to God and man their dues.
XV He told, that to these waters he had come To gather leeches, being old and poor: Employment hazardous and wearisome! And he had many hardships to endure: From pond to pond he roamed, from moor to moor; Housing, with God's good help, by choice or chance, And in this way he gained an honest maintenance.
XVI The old Man still stood talking by my side; But now his voice to me was like a stream Scarce heard; nor word from word could I divide; And the whole body of the Man did seem Like one whom I had met with in a dream; Or like a man from some far region sent, To give me human strength, by apt admonishment.
XVII My former thoughts returned: the fear that kills; And hope that is unwilling to be fed; Cold, pain, and labour, and all fleshly ills; And mighty Poets in their misery dead.
--Perplexed, and longing to be comforted, My question eagerly did I renew, "How is it that you live, and what is it you do?" XVIII He with a smile did then his words repeat; And said, that, gathering leeches, far and wide He travelled; stirring thus about his feet The waters of the pools where they abide.
"Once I could meet with them on every side; But they have dwindled long by slow decay; Yet still I persevere, and find them where I may.
" XIX While he was talking thus, the lonely place, The old Man's shape, and speech--all troubled me: In my mind's eye I seemed to see him pace About the weary moors continually, Wandering about alone and silently.
While I these thoughts within myself pursued, He, having made a pause, the same discourse renewed.
XX And soon with this he other matter blended, Cheerfully uttered, with demeanour kind, But stately in the main; and when he ended, I could have laughed myself to scorn to find In that decrepit Man so firm a mind.
"God," said I, "be my help and stay secure; I'll think of the Leech-gatherer on the lonely moor!"
Written by Ogden Nash | Create an image from this poem

I Do I Will I Have

 How wise I am to have instructed the butler
to instruct the first footman to instruct the second
footman to instruct the doorman to order my carriage;
I am about to volunteer a definition of marriage.
Just as I know that there are two Hagens, Walter and Copen, I know that marriage is a legal and religious alliance entered into by a man who can't sleep with the window shut and a woman who can't sleep with the window open.
Moreover, just as I am unsure of the difference between flora and fauna and flotsam and jetsam, I am quite sure that marriage is the alliance of two people one of whom never remembers birthdays and the other never forgetsam, And he refuses to believe there is a leak in the water pipe or the gas pipe and she is convinced she is about to asphyxiate or drown, And she says Quick get up and get my hairbrushes off the windowsill, it's raining in, and he replies Oh they're all right, it's only raining straight down.
That is why marriage is so much more interesting than divorce, Because it's the only known example of the happy meeting of the immovable object and the irresistible force.
So I hope husbands and wives will continue to debate and combat over everything debatable and combatable, Because I believe a little incompatibility is the spice of life, particularly if he has income and she is pattable.
Written by Walt Whitman | Create an image from this poem

Proud Music of The Storm

 1
PROUD music of the storm! 
Blast that careers so free, whistling across the prairies! 
Strong hum of forest tree-tops! Wind of the mountains! 
Personified dim shapes! you hidden orchestras! 
You serenades of phantoms, with instruments alert,
Blending, with Nature’s rhythmus, all the tongues of nations; 
You chords left us by vast composers! you choruses! 
You formless, free, religious dances! you from the Orient! 
You undertone of rivers, roar of pouring cataracts; 
You sounds from distant guns, with galloping cavalry!
Echoes of camps, with all the different bugle-calls! 
Trooping tumultuous, filling the midnight late, bending me powerless, 
Entering my lonesome slumber-chamber—Why have you seiz’d me? 

2
Come forward, O my Soul, and let the rest retire; 
Listen—lose not—it is toward thee they tend;
Parting the midnight, entering my slumber-chamber, 
For thee they sing and dance, O Soul.
A festival song! The duet of the bridegroom and the bride—a marriage-march, With lips of love, and hearts of lovers, fill’d to the brim with love; The red-flush’d cheeks, and perfumes—the cortege swarming, full of friendly faces, young and old, To flutes’ clear notes, and sounding harps’ cantabile.
3 Now loud approaching drums! Victoria! see’st thou in powder-smoke the banners torn but flying? the rout of the baffled? Hearest those shouts of a conquering army? (Ah, Soul, the sobs of women—the wounded groaning in agony, The hiss and crackle of flames—the blacken’d ruins—the embers of cities, The dirge and desolation of mankind.
) 4 Now airs antique and medieval fill me! I see and hear old harpers with their harps, at Welsh festivals: I hear the minnesingers, singing their lays of love, I hear the minstrels, gleemen, troubadours, of the feudal ages.
5 Now the great organ sounds, Tremulous—while underneath, (as the hid footholds of the earth, On which arising, rest, and leaping forth, depend, All shapes of beauty, grace and strength—all hues we know, Green blades of grass, and warbling birds—children that gambol and play—the clouds of heaven above,) The strong base stands, and its pulsations intermits not, Bathing, supporting, merging all the rest—maternity of all the rest; And with it every instrument in multitudes, The players playing—all the world’s musicians, The solemn hymns and masses, rousing adoration, All passionate heart-chants, sorrowful appeals, The measureless sweet vocalists of ages, And for their solvent setting, Earth’s own diapason, Of winds and woods and mighty ocean waves; A new composite orchestra—binder of years and climes—ten-fold renewer, As of the far-back days the poets tell—the Paradiso, The straying thence, the separation long, but now the wandering done, The journey done, the Journeyman come home, And Man and Art, with Nature fused again.
6 Tutti! for Earth and Heaven! The Almighty Leader now for me, for once has signal’d with his wand.
The manly strophe of the husbands of the world, And all the wives responding.
The tongues of violins! (I think, O tongues, ye tell this heart, that cannot tell itself; This brooding, yearning heart, that cannot tell itself.
) 7 Ah, from a little child, Thou knowest, Soul, how to me all sounds became music; My mother’s voice, in lullaby or hymn; (The voice—O tender voices—memory’s loving voices! Last miracle of all—O dearest mother’s, sister’s, voices;) The rain, the growing corn, the breeze among the long-leav’d corn, The measur’d sea-surf, beating on the sand, The twittering bird, the hawk’s sharp scream, The wild-fowl’s notes at night, as flying low, migrating north or south, The psalm in the country church, or mid the clustering trees, the open air camp-meeting, The fiddler in the tavern—the glee, the long-strung sailor-song, The lowing cattle, bleating sheep—the crowing cock at dawn.
8 All songs of current lands come sounding ’round me, The German airs of friendship, wine and love, Irish ballads, merry jigs and dances—English warbles, Chansons of France, Scotch tunes—and o’er the rest, Italia’s peerless compositions.
Across the stage, with pallor on her face, yet lurid passion, Stalks Norma, brandishing the dagger in her hand.
I see poor crazed Lucia’s eyes’ unnatural gleam; Her hair down her back falls loose and dishevell’d.
I see where Ernani, walking the bridal garden, Amid the scent of night-roses, radiant, holding his bride by the hand, Hears the infernal call, the death-pledge of the horn.
To crossing swords, and grey hairs bared to heaven, The clear, electric base and baritone of the world, The trombone duo—Libertad forever! From Spanish chestnut trees’ dense shade, By old and heavy convent walls, a wailing song, Song of lost love—the torch of youth and life quench’d in despair, Song of the dying swan—Fernando’s heart is breaking.
Awaking from her woes at last, retriev’d Amina sings; Copious as stars, and glad as morning light, the torrents of her joy.
(The teeming lady comes! The lustrious orb—Venus contralto—the blooming mother, Sister of loftiest gods—Alboni’s self I hear.
) 9 I hear those odes, symphonies, operas; I hear in the William Tell, the music of an arous’d and angry people; I hear Meyerbeer’s Huguenots, the Prophet, or Robert; Gounod’s Faust, or Mozart’s Don Juan.
10 I hear the dance-music of all nations, The waltz, (some delicious measure, lapsing, bathing me in bliss;) The bolero, to tinkling guitars and clattering castanets.
I see religious dances old and new, I hear the sound of the Hebrew lyre, I see the Crusaders marching, bearing the cross on high, to the martial clang of cymbals; I hear dervishes monotonously chanting, interspers’d with frantic shouts, as they spin around, turning always towards Mecca; I see the rapt religious dances of the Persians and the Arabs; Again, at Eleusis, home of Ceres, I see the modern Greeks dancing, I hear them clapping their hands, as they bend their bodies, I hear the metrical shuffling of their feet.
I see again the wild old Corybantian dance, the performers wounding each other; I see the Roman youth, to the shrill sound of flageolets, throwing and catching their weapons, As they fall on their knees, and rise again.
I hear from the Mussulman mosque the muezzin calling; I see the worshippers within, (nor form, nor sermon, argument, nor word, But silent, strange, devout—rais’d, glowing heads—extatic faces.
) 11 I hear the Egyptian harp of many strings, The primitive chants of the Nile boatmen; The sacred imperial hymns of China, To the delicate sounds of the king, (the stricken wood and stone;) Or to Hindu flutes, and the fretting twang of the vina, A band of bayaderes.
12 Now Asia, Africa leave me—Europe, seizing, inflates me; To organs huge, and bands, I hear as from vast concourses of voices, Luther’s strong hymn, Eine feste Burg ist unser Gott; Rossini’s Stabat Mater dolorosa; Or, floating in some high cathedral dim, with gorgeous color’d windows, The passionate Agnus Dei, or Gloria in Excelsis.
13 Composers! mighty maestros! And you, sweet singers of old lands—Soprani! Tenori! Bassi! To you a new bard, carolling free in the west, Obeisant, sends his love.
(Such led to thee, O Soul! All senses, shows and objects, lead to thee, But now, it seems to me, sound leads o’er all the rest.
) 14 I hear the annual singing of the children in St.
Paul’s Cathedral; Or, under the high roof of some colossal hall, the symphonies, oratorios of Beethoven, Handel, or Haydn; The Creation, in billows of godhood laves me.
Give me to hold all sounds, (I, madly struggling, cry,) Fill me with all the voices of the universe, Endow me with their throbbings—Nature’s also, The tempests, waters, winds—operas and chants—marches and dances, Utter—pour in—for I would take them all.
15 Then I woke softly, And pausing, questioning awhile the music of my dream, And questioning all those reminiscences—the tempest in its fury, And all the songs of sopranos and tenors, And those rapt oriental dances, of religious fervor, And the sweet varied instruments, and the diapason of organs, And all the artless plaints of love, and grief and death, I said to my silent, curious Soul, out of the bed of the slumber-chamber, Come, for I have found the clue I sought so long, Let us go forth refresh’d amid the day, Cheerfully tallying life, walking the world, the real, Nourish’d henceforth by our celestial dream.
And I said, moreover, Haply, what thou hast heard, O Soul, was not the sound of winds, Nor dream of raging storm, nor sea-hawk’s flapping wings, nor harsh scream, Nor vocalism of sun-bright Italy, Nor German organ majestic—nor vast concourse of voices—nor layers of harmonies; Nor strophes of husbands and wives—nor sound of marching soldiers, Nor flutes, nor harps, nor the bugle-calls of camps; But, to a new rhythmus fitted for thee, Poems, bridging the way from Life to Death, vaguely wafted in night air, uncaught, unwritten, Which, let us go forth in the bold day, and write.
Written by Anne Sexton | Create an image from this poem

Live

 Live or die, but don't poison everything.
.
.
Well, death's been here for a long time -- it has a hell of a lot to do with hell and suspicion of the eye and the religious objects and how I mourned them when they were made obscene by my dwarf-heart's doodle.
The chief ingredient is mutilation.
And mud, day after day, mud like a ritual, and the baby on the platter, cooked but still human, cooked also with little maggots, sewn onto it maybe by somebody's mother, the damn bitch! Even so, I kept right on going on, a sort of human statement, lugging myself as if I were a sawed-off body in the trunk, the steamer trunk.
This became perjury of the soul.
It became an outright lie and even though I dressed the body it was still naked, still killed.
It was caught in the first place at birth, like a fish.
But I play it, dressed it up, dressed it up like somebody's doll.
Is life something you play? And all the time wanting to get rid of it? And further, everyone yelling at you to shut up.
And no wonder! People don't like to be told that you're sick and then be forced to watch you come down with the hammer.
Today life opened inside me like an egg and there inside after considerable digging I found the answer.
What a bargain! There was the sun, her yolk moving feverishly, tumbling her prize -- and you realize she does this daily! I'd known she was a purifier but I hadn't thought she was solid, hadn't known she was an answer.
God! It's a dream, lovers sprouting in the yard like celery stalks and better, a husband straight as a redwood, two daughters, two sea urchings, picking roses off my hackles.
If I'm on fire they dance around it and cook marshmallows.
And if I'm ice they simply skate on me in little ballet costumes.
Here, all along, thinking I was a killer, anointing myself daily with my little poisons.
But no.
I'm an empress.
I wear an apron.
My typewriter writes.
It didn't break the way it warned.
Even crazy, I'm as nice as a chocolate bar.
Even with the witches' gymnastics they trust my incalculable city, my corruptible bed.
O dearest three, I make a soft reply.
The witch comes on and you paint her pink.
I come with kisses in my hood and the sun, the smart one, rolling in my arms.
So I say Live and turn my shadow three times round to feed our puppies as they come, the eight Dalmatians we didn't drown, despite the warnings: The abort! The destroy! Despite the pails of water that waited, to drown them, to pull them down like stones, they came, each one headfirst, blowing bubbles the color of cataract-blue and fumbling for the tiny tits.
Just last week, eight Dalmatians, 3/4 of a lb.
, lined up like cord wood each like a birch tree.
I promise to love more if they come, because in spite of cruelty and the stuffed railroad cars for the ovens, I am not what I expected.
Not an Eichmann.
The poison just didn't take.
So I won't hang around in my hospital shift, repeating The Black Mass and all of it.
I say Live, Live because of the sun, the dream, the excitable gift.
Written by Sharon Olds | Create an image from this poem

Sex Without Love

 How do they do it, the ones who make love
without love? Beautiful as dancers,
gliding over each other like ice-skaters
over the ice, fingers hooked
inside each other's bodies, faces
red as steak, wine, wet as the
children at birth whose mothers are going to
give them away.
How do they come to the come to the come to the God come to the still waters, and not love the one who came there with them, light rising slowly as steam off their joined skin? These are the true religious, the purists, the pros, the ones who will not accept a false Messiah, love the priest instead of the God.
They do not mistake the lover for their own pleasure, they are like great runners: they know they are alone with the road surface, the cold, the wind, the fit of their shoes, their over-all cardio- vascular health--just factors, like the partner in the bed, and not the truth, which is the single body alone in the universe against its own best time.
Written by Raymond Carver | Create an image from this poem

What The Doctor Said

 He said it doesn't look good
he said it looks bad in fact real bad
he said I counted thirty-two of them on one lung before
I quit counting them
I said I'm glad I wouldn't want to know
about any more being there than that
he said are you a religious man do you kneel down
in forest groves and let yourself ask for help
when you come to a waterfall
mist blowing against your face and arms
do you stop and ask for understanding at those moments
I said not yet but I intend to start today
he said I'm real sorry he said
I wish I had some other kind of news to give you
I said Amen and he said something else
I didn't catch and not knowing what else to do
and not wanting him to have to repeat it
and me to have to fully digest it
I just looked at him
for a minute and he looked back it was then
I jumped up and shook hands with this man who'd just given me
something no one else on earth had ever given me
I may have even thanked him habit being so strong
Written by James Joyce | Create an image from this poem

The Ballad of Persse OReilly

 Have you heard of one Humpty Dumpty
How he fell with a roll and a rumble
And curled up like Lord Olofa Crumple
By the butt of the Magazine Wall,
 (Chorus) Of the Magazine Wall,
 Hump, helmet and all?

He was one time our King of the Castle
Now he's kicked about like a rotten old parsnip.
And from Green street he'll be sent by order of His Worship To the penal jail of Mountjoy (Chorus) To the jail of Mountjoy! Jail him and joy.
He was fafafather of all schemes for to bother us Slow coaches and immaculate contraceptives for the populace, Mare's milk for the sick, seven dry Sundays a week, Openair love and religion's reform, (Chorus) And religious reform, Hideous in form.
Arrah, why, says you, couldn't he manage it? I'll go bail, my fine dairyman darling, Like the bumping bull of the Cassidys All your butter is in your horns.
(Chorus) His butter is in his horns.
Butter his horns! (Repeat) Hurrah there, Hosty, frosty Hosty, change that shirt on ye, Rhyme the rann, the king of all ranns! Balbaccio, balbuccio! We had chaw chaw chops, chairs, chewing gum, the chicken-pox and china chambers Universally provided by this soffsoaping salesman.
Small wonder He'll Cheat E'erawan our local lads nicknamed him.
When Chimpden first took the floor (Chorus) With his bucketshop store Down Bargainweg, Lower.
So snug he was in his hotel premises sumptuous But soon we'll bonfire all his trash, tricks and trumpery And 'tis short till sheriff Clancy'll be winding up his unlimited company With the bailiff's bom at the door, (Chorus) Bimbam at the door.
Then he'll bum no more.
Sweet bad luck on the waves washed to our island The hooker of that hammerfast viking And Gall's curse on the day when Eblana bay Saw his black and tan man-o'-war.
(Chorus) Saw his man-o'-war On the harbour bar.
Where from? roars Poolbeg.
Cookingha'pence, he bawls Donnez-moi scampitle, wick an wipin'fampiny Fingal Mac Oscar Onesine Bargearse Boniface Thok's min gammelhole Norveegickers moniker Og as ay are at gammelhore Norveegickers cod.
(Chorus) A Norwegian camel old cod.
He is, begod.
Lift it, Hosty, lift it, ye devil, ye! up with the rann, the rhyming rann! It was during some fresh water garden pumping Or, according to the Nursing Mirror, while admiring the monkeys That our heavyweight heathen Humpharey Made bold a maid to woo (Chorus) Woohoo, what'll she doo! The general lost her maidenloo! He ought to blush for himself, the old hayheaded philosopher, For to go and shove himself that way on top of her.
Begob, he's the crux of the catalogue Of our antediluvial zoo, (Chorus) Messrs Billing and Coo.
Noah's larks, good as noo.
He was joulting by Wellinton's monument Our rotorious hippopopotamuns When some bugger let down the backtrap of the omnibus And he caught his death of fusiliers, (Chorus) With his rent in his rears.
Give him six years.
'Tis sore pity for his innocent poor children But look out for his missus legitimate! When that frew gets a grip of old Earwicker Won't there be earwigs on the green? (Chorus) Big earwigs on the green, The largest ever you seen.
Suffoclose! Shikespower! Seudodanto! Anonymoses! Then we'll have a free trade Gael's band and mass meeting For to sod him the brave son of Scandiknavery.
And we'll bury him down in Oxmanstown Along with the devil and the Danes, (Chorus) With the deaf and dumb Danes, And all their remains.
And not all the king's men nor his horses Will resurrect his corpus For there's no true spell in Connacht or hell (bis) That's able to raise a Cain.
Written by Robert William Service | Create an image from this poem

The Ballad Of Soulful Sam

 You want me to tell you a story, a yarn of the firin' line,
Of our thin red kharki 'eroes, out there where the bullets whine;
Out there where the bombs are bustin',
and the cannons like 'ell-doors slam --
Just order another drink, boys, and I'll tell you of Soulful Sam.
Oh, Sam, he was never 'ilarious, though I've 'ad some mates as was wus; He 'adn't C.
B.
on his programme, he never was known to cuss.
For a card or a skirt or a beer-mug he 'adn't a friendly word; But when it came down to Scriptures, say! Wasn't he just a bird! He always 'ad tracts in his pocket, the which he would haste to present, And though the fellers would use them in ways that they never was meant, I used to read 'em religious, and frequent I've been impressed By some of them bundles of 'oly dope he carried around in his vest.
For I -- and oh, 'ow I shudder at the 'orror the word conveys! 'Ave been -- let me whisper it 'oarsely -- a gambler 'alf of me days; A gambler, you 'ear -- a gambler.
It makes me wishful to weep, And yet 'ow it's true, my brethren! -- I'd rather gamble than sleep.
I've gambled the 'ole world over, from Monte Carlo to Maine; From Dawson City to Dover, from San Francisco to Spain.
Cards! They 'ave been me ruin.
They've taken me pride and me pelf, And when I'd no one to play with -- why, I'd go and I'd play by meself.
And Sam 'e would sit and watch me, as I shuffled a greasy deck, And 'e'd say: "You're bound to Perdition," And I'd answer: "Git off me neck!" And that's 'ow we came to get friendly, though built on a different plan, Me wot's a desprite gambler, 'im sich a good young man.
But on to me tale.
Just imagine .
.
.
Darkness! The battle-front! The furious 'Uns attackin'! Us ones a-bearin' the brunt! Me crouchin' be'ind a sandbag, tryin' 'ard to keep calm, When I 'ears someone singin' a 'ymn toon; be'old! it is Soulful Sam.
Yes; right in the crash of the combat, in the fury of flash and flame, 'E was shootin' and singin' serenely as if 'e enjoyed the same.
And there in the 'eat of the battle, as the 'ordes of demons attacked, He dipped down into 'is tunic, and 'e 'anded me out a tract.
Then a star-shell flared, and I read it: Oh, Flee From the Wrath to Come! Nice cheerful subject, I tell yer, when you're 'earin' the bullets 'um.
And before I 'ad time to thank 'im, just one of them bits of lead Comes slingin' along in a 'urry, and it 'its my partner.
.
.
.
Dead? No, siree! not by a long sight! For it plugged 'im 'ard on the chest, Just where 'e'd tracts for a army corps stowed away in 'is vest.
On its mission of death that bullet 'ustled along, and it caved A 'ole in them tracts to 'is 'ide, boys -- but the life o' me pal was saved.
And there as 'e showed me in triumph, and 'orror was chokin' me breath, On came another bullet on its 'orrible mission of death; On through the night it cavorted, seekin' its 'aven of rest, And it zipped through a crack in the sandbags, and it wolloped me bang on the breast.
Was I killed, do you ask? Oh no, boys.
Why am I sittin' 'ere Gazin' with mournful vision at a mug long empty of beer? With a throat as dry as a -- oh, thanky! I don't much mind if I do.
Beer with a dash of 'ollands, that's my particular brew.
Yes, that was a terrible moment.
It 'ammered me 'ard o'er the 'eart; It bowled me down like a nine-pin, and I looked for the gore to start; And I saw in the flash of a moment, in that thunder of hate and strife, Me wretched past like a pitchur -- the sins of a gambler's life.
For I 'ad no tracts to save me, to thwart that mad missile's doom; I 'ad no pious pamphlets to 'elp me to cheat the tomb; I 'ad no 'oly leaflets to baffle a bullet's aim; I'd only -- a deck of cards, boys, but .
.
.
it seemed to do just the same.
Written by Bob Kaufman | Create an image from this poem

On

 On yardbird corners of embryonic hopes, drowned in a heroin tear.
On yardbird corners of parkerflights to sound filled pockets in space.
On neuro-corners of striped brains & desperate electro-surgeons.
On alcohol corners of pointless discussion & historical hangovers.
On television corners of cornflakes & rockwells impotent America.
On university corners of tailored intellect & greek letter openers.
On military corners of megathon deaths & universal anesthesia.
On religious corners of theological limericks and On radio corners of century-long records & static events.
On advertising corners of filter-tipped ice-cream & instant instants On teen-age corners of comic book seduction and corrupted guitars, On political corners of wamted candidates & ritual lies.
On motion picture corners of lassie & other symbols.
On intellectual corners of conversational therapy & analyzed fear.
On newspaper corners of sexy headlines & scholarly comics.
On love divided corners of die now pay later mortuaries.
On philosophical corners of semantic desperadoes & idea-mongers.
On middle class corners of private school puberty & anatomical revolts On ultra-real corners of love on abandoned roller-coasters On lonely poet corners of low lying leaves & moist prophet eyes.
Written by William Wordsworth | Create an image from this poem

Resolution And Independence

 I 

There was a roaring in the wind all night; 
The rain came heavily and fell in floods; 
But now the sun is rising calm and bright; 
The birds are singing in the distant woods; 
Over his own sweet voice the Stock-dove broods; 
The Jay makes answer as the Magpie chatters; 
And all the air is filled with pleasant noise of waters.
II All things that love the sun are out of doors; The sky rejoices in the morning's birth; The grass is bright with rain-drops;--on the moors The hare is running races in her mirth; And with her feet she from the plashy earth Raises a mist, that, glittering in the sun, Runs with her all the way, wherever she doth run.
III I was a Traveller then upon the moor, I saw the hare that raced about with joy; I heard the woods and distant waters roar; Or heard them not, as happy as a boy: The pleasant season did my heart employ: My old remembrances went from me wholly; And all the ways of men, so vain and melancholy.
IV But, as it sometimes chanceth, from the might Of joy in minds that can no further go, As high as we have mounted in delight In our dejection do we sink as low; To me that morning did it happen so; And fears and fancies thick upon me came; Dim sadness--and blind thoughts, I knew not, nor could name.
V I heard the sky-lark warbling in the sky; And I bethought me of the playful hare: Even such a happy Child of earth am I; Even as these blissful creatures do I fare; Far from the world I walk, and from all care; But there may come another day to me-- Solitude, pain of heart, distress, and poverty.
VI My whole life I have lived in pleasant thought, As if life's business were a summer mood; As if all needful things would come unsought To genial faith, still rich in genial good; But how can He expect that others should Build for him, sow for him, and at his call Love him, who for himself will take no heed at all? VII I thought of Chatterton, the marvellous Boy, The sleepless Soul that perished in his pride; Of Him who walked in glory and in joy Following his plough, along the mountain-side: By our own spirits are we deified: We Poets in our youth begin in gladness; But thereof come in the end despondency and madness.
VIII Now, whether it were by peculiar grace, A leading from above, a something given, Yet it befell, that, in this lonely place, When I with these untoward thoughts had striven, Beside a pool bare to the eye of heaven I saw a Man before me unawares: The oldest man he seemed that ever wore grey hairs.
IX As a huge stone is sometimes seen to lie Couched on the bald top of an eminence; Wonder to all who do the same espy, By what means it could thither come, and whence; So that it seems a thing endued with sense: Like a sea-beast crawled forth, that on a shelf Of rock or sand reposeth, there to sun itself; X Such seemed this Man, not all alive nor dead, Nor all asleep--in his extreme old age: His body was bent double, feet and head Coming together in life's pilgrimage; As if some dire constraint of pain, or rage Of sickness felt by him in times long past, A more than human weight upon his frame had cast.
XI Himself he propped, limbs, body, and pale face, Upon a long grey staff of shaven wood: And, still as I drew near with gentle pace, Upon the margin of that moorish flood Motionless as a cloud the old Man stood, That heareth not the loud winds when they call And moveth all together, if it move at all.
XII At length, himself unsettling, he the pond Stirred with his staff, and fixedly did look Upon the muddy water, which he conned, As if he had been reading in a book: And now a stranger's privilege I took; And, drawing to his side, to him did say, "This morning gives us promise of a glorious day.
" XIII A gentle answer did the old Man make, In courteous speech which forth he slowly drew: And him with further words I thus bespake, "What occupation do you there pursue? This is a lonesome place for one like you.
" Ere he replied, a flash of mild surprise Broke from the sable orbs of his yet-vivid eyes, XIV His words came feebly, from a feeble chest, But each in solemn order followed each, With something of a lofty utterance drest-- Choice word and measured phrase, above the reach Of ordinary men; a stately speech; Such as grave Livers do in Scotland use, Religious men, who give to God and man their dues.
XV He told, that to these waters he had come To gather leeches, being old and poor: Employment hazardous and wearisome! And he had many hardships to endure: From pond to pond he roamed, from moor to moor; Housing, with God's good help, by choice or chance, And in this way he gained an honest maintenance.
XVI The old Man still stood talking by my side; But now his voice to me was like a stream Scarce heard; nor word from word could I divide; And the whole body of the Man did seem Like one whom I had met with in a dream; Or like a man from some far region sent, To give me human strength, by apt admonishment.
XVII My former thoughts returned: the fear that kills; And hope that is unwilling to be fed; Cold, pain, and labour, and all fleshly ills; And mighty Poets in their misery dead.
--Perplexed, and longing to be comforted, My question eagerly did I renew, "How is it that you live, and what is it you do?" XVIII He with a smile did then his words repeat; And said, that, gathering leeches, far and wide He travelled; stirring thus about his feet The waters of the pools where they abide.
"Once I could meet with them on every side; But they have dwindled long by slow decay; Yet still I persevere, and find them where I may.
" XIX While he was talking thus, the lonely place, The old Man's shape, and speech--all troubled me: In my mind's eye I seemed to see him pace About the weary moors continually, Wandering about alone and silently.
While I these thoughts within myself pursued, He, having made a pause, the same discourse renewed.
XX And soon with this he other matter blended, Cheerfully uttered, with demeanour kind, But stately in the main; and when he ended, I could have laughed myself to scorn to find In that decrepit Man so firm a mind.
"God," said I, "be my help and stay secure; I'll think of the Leech-gatherer on the lonely moor!"
Written by Sylvia Plath | Create an image from this poem

Getting There

 How far is it?
How far is it now?
The gigantic gorilla interior
Of the wheels move, they appall me ---
The terrible brains
Of Krupp, black muzzles
Revolving, the sound
Punching out Absence! Like cannon.
It is Russia I have to get across, it is some was or other.
I am dragging my body Quietly through the straw of the boxcars.
Now is the time for bribery.
What do wheels eat, these wheels Fixed to their arcs like gods, The silver leash of the will ---- Inexorable.
And their pride! All the gods know destinations.
I am a letter in this slot! I fly to a name, two eyes.
Will there be fire, will there be bread? Here there is such mud.
It is a trainstop, the nurses Undergoing the faucet water, its veils, veils in a nunnery, Touching their wounded, The men the blood still pumps forward, Legs, arms piled outside The tent of unending cries ---- A hospital of dolls.
And the men, what is left of the men Pumped ahead by these pistons, this blood Into the next mile, The next hour ---- Dynasty of broken arrows! How far is it? There is mud on my feet, Thick, red and slipping.
It is Adam's side, This earth I rise from, and I in agony.
I cannot undo myself, and the train is steaming.
Steaming and breathing, its teeth Ready to roll, like a devil's.
There is a minute at the end of it A minute, a dewdrop.
How far is it? It is so small The place I am getting to, why are there these obstacles ---- The body of this woman, Charred skirts and deathmask Mourned by religious figures, by garlanded children.
And now detonations ---- Thunder and guns.
The fire's between us.
Is there no place Turning and turning in the middle air, Untouchable and untouchable.
The train is dragging itself, it is screaming ---- An animal Insane for the destination, The bloodspot, The face at the end of the flare.
I shall bury the wounded like pupas, I shall count and bury the dead.
Let their souls writhe in like dew, Incense in my track.
The carriages rock, they are cradles.
And I, stepping from this skin Of old bandages, boredoms, old faces Step up to you from the black car of Lethe, Pure as a baby.
Written by David Lehman | Create an image from this poem

Twelfth Night

 His first infidelity was a mistake, but not as big
As her false pregnancy.
Later, the boy found out He was born three months earlier than the date On his birth certificate, which had turned into A marriage license in his hands.
Had he been trapped In a net, like a moth mistaken for a butterfly? And why did she--what was in it for her? It took him all this time to figure it out.
The barroom boast, "I never had to pay for it," Is bogus if marriage is a religious institution On the operating model of a nineteenth-century factory.
On the other hand, women's lot was no worse then Than it is now.
The division of labor made sense In theories developed by college boys in jeans Who grasped the logic their fathers had used To seduce women and deceive themselves.
The pattern repeats itself, the same events In a different order obeying the conventions of A popular genre.
Winter on a desolate beach.
Spring While there's snow still on the balcony and, In the window, a plane flies over the warehouse.
The panic is gone.
But the pain remains.
And the apple, The knife, and the honey are months away.