Edwin Arlington Robinson |
Miniver Cheevy, child of scorn,
Grew lean while he assailed the seasons;
He wept that he was ever born,
And he had reasons.
Miniver loved the days of old
When swords were bright and steeds were prancing;
The vision of a warrior bold
Would set him dancing.
Miniver sighed for what was not,
And dreamed, and rested from his labors;
He dreamed of Thebes and Camelot,
And Priam's neighbors.
Miniver mourned the ripe renown
That made so many a name so fragrant;
He mourned Romance, now on the town,
And Art, a vagrant.
Miniver loved the Medici,
Albeit he had never seen one;
He would have sinned incessantly
Could he have been one.
Miniver cursed the commonplace
And eyed a khaki suit with loathing;
He missed the mediæval grace
Of iron clothing.
Miniver scorned the gold he sought
But sore annoyed was he without it;
Miniver thought, and thought, and thought,
And thought about it.
Miniver Cheevy, born too late,
Scratched his head and kept on thinking;
Miniver coughed, and called it fate,
And kept on drinking.
Wallace Stevens |
There is a great river this side of Stygia
Before one comes to the first black cataracts
And trees that lack the intelligence of trees.
In that river, far this side of Stygia,
The mere flowing of the water is a gayety,
Flashing and flashing in the sun.
On its banks,
No shadow walks.
The river is fateful,
Like the last one.
But there is no ferryman.
He could not bend against its propelling force.
It is not to be seen beneath the appearances
That tell of it.
The steeple at Farmington
Stands glistening and Haddam shines and sways.
It is the third commonness with light and air,
A curriculum, a vigor, a local abstraction .
Call it, one more, a river, an unnamed flowing,
Space-filled, reflecting the seasons, the folk-lore
Of each of the senses; call it, again and again,
The river that flows nowhere, like a sea.
Jane Taylor |
In tears to her mother poor Harriet came,
Let us listen to hear what she says:
"O see, dear mamma, it is pouring with rain,
We cannot go out in the chaise.
"All the week I have long'd for this holiday so,
And fancied the minutes were hours;
And now that I'm dress'd and all ready to go,
Do look at those terrible showers! "
"I'm sorry, my dear, " her kind mother replied,
The rain disappoints us to-day;
But sorrow still more that you fret for a ride,
In such an extravagant way.
"These slight disappointments are sent to prepare
For what may hereafter befall;
For seasons of real disappointment and care,
Which commonly happen to all.
"For just like to-day with its holiday lost,
Is life and its comforts at best:
Our pleasures are blighted, our purposes cross'd,
To teach us it is not our rest.
"And when those distresses and crosses appear,
With which you may shortly be tried,
You'll wonder that ever you wasted a tear
On merely the loss of a ride.
"But though the world's pleasures are fleeting and vain,
Religion is lasting and true;
Real pleasure and peace in her paths you may gain,
Nor will disappointment ensue.
More great poems below...
Yehuda Amichai |
A man doesn't have time in his life
to have time for everything.
He doesn't have seasons enough to have
a season for every purpose.
Was wrong about that.
A man needs to love and to hate at the same moment,
to laugh and cry with the same eyes,
with the same hands to throw stones and to gather them,
to make love in war and war in love.
And to hate and forgive and remember and forget,
to arrange and confuse, to eat and to digest
takes years and years to do.
A man doesn't have time.
When he loses he seeks, when he finds
he forgets, when he forgets he loves, when he loves
he begins to forget.
And his soul is seasoned, his soul
is very professional.
Only his body remains forever
It tries and it misses,
gets muddled, doesn't learn a thing,
drunk and blind in its pleasures
and its pains.
He will die as figs die in autumn,
Shriveled and full of himself and sweet,
the leaves growing dry on the ground,
the bare branches pointing to the place
where there's time for everything.
William Shakespeare |
Devouring Time, blunt thou the lion's paws,
And make the earth devour her own sweet brood;
Pluck the keen teeth from the fierce tiger's jaws,
And burn the long-lived phoenix in her blood;
Make glad and sorry seasons as thou fleets,
And do whate'er thou wilt, swift-footed Time,
To the wide world and all her fading sweets;
But I forbid thee one most heinous crime:
O, carve not with thy hours my love's fair brow,
Nor draw no lines there with thine antique pen;
Him in thy course untainted do allow
For beauty's pattern to succeeding men.
Yet, do thy worst, old Time: despite thy wrong,
My love shall in my verse ever live young.
Kahlil Gibran |
And an astronomer said, "Master, what of Time?"
And he answered:
You would measure time the measureless and the immeasurable.
You would adjust your conduct and even direct the course of your spirit according to hours and seasons.
Of time you would make a stream upon whose bank you would sit and watch its flowing.
Yet the timeless in you is aware of life's timelessness,
And knows that yesterday is but today's memory and tomorrow is today's dream.
And that that which sings and contemplates in you is still dwelling within the bounds of that first moment which scattered the stars into space.
Who among you does not feel that his power to love is boundless?
And yet who does not feel that very love, though boundless, encompassed within the centre of his being, and moving not form love thought to love thought, nor from love deeds to other love deeds?
And is not time even as love is, undivided and paceless?
But if in you thought you must measure time into seasons, let each season encircle all the other seasons,
And let today embrace the past with remembrance and the future with longing.
Robert Frost |
Brown lived at such a lofty farm
That everyone for miles could see
His lantern when he did his chores
In winter after half-past three.
And many must have seen him make
His wild descent from there one night,
’Cross lots, ’cross walls, ’cross everything,
Describing rings of lantern light.
Between the house and barn the gale
Got him by something he had on
And blew him out on the icy crust
That cased the world, and he was gone!
Walls were all buried, trees were few:
He saw no stay unless he stove
A hole in somewhere with his heel.
But though repeatedly he strove
And stamped and said things to himself,
And sometimes something seemed to yield,
He gained no foothold, but pursued
His journey down from field to field.
Sometimes he came with arms outspread
Like wings, revolving in the scene
Upon his longer axis, and
With no small dignity of mien.
Faster or slower as he chanced,
Sitting or standing as he chose,
According as he feared to risk
His neck, or thought to spare his clothes,
He never let the lantern drop.
And some exclaimed who saw afar
The figures he described with it,
”I wonder what those signals are
Brown makes at such an hour of night!
He’s celebrating something strange.
I wonder if he’s sold his farm,
Or been made Master of the Grange.
He reeled, he lurched, he bobbed, he checked;
He fell and made the lantern rattle
(But saved the light from going out.
So half-way down he fought the battle
Incredulous of his own bad luck.
And then becoming reconciled
To everything, he gave it up
And came down like a coasting child.
“Well—I—be—” that was all he said,
As standing in the river road,
He looked back up the slippery slope
(Two miles it was) to his abode.
Sometimes as an authority
On motor-cars, I’m asked if I
Should say our stock was petered out,
And this is my sincere reply:
Yankees are what they always were.
Don’t think Brown ever gave up hope
Of getting home again because
He couldn’t climb that slippery slope;
Or even thought of standing there
Until the January thaw
Should take the polish off the crust.
He bowed with grace to natural law,
And then went round it on his feet,
After the manner of our stock;
Not much concerned for those to whom,
At that particular time o’clock,
It must have looked as if the course
He steered was really straight away
From that which he was headed for—
Not much concerned for them, I say:
No more so than became a man—
And politician at odd seasons.
I’ve kept Brown standing in the cold
While I invested him with reasons;
But now he snapped his eyes three times;
Then shook his lantern, saying, “Ile’s
’Bout out!” and took the long way home
By road, a matter of several miles.
John Keats |
Four Seasons fill the measure of the year;
There are four seasons in the mind of man:
He has his lusty Spring, when fancy clear
Takes in all beauty with an easy span:
He has his Summer, when luxuriously
Spring's honied cud of youthful thought he loves
To ruminate, and by such dreaming high
Is nearest unto heaven: quiet coves
His soul has in its Autumn, when his wings
He furleth close; contented so to look
On mists in idleness--to let fair things
Pass by unheeded as a threshold brook.
He has his Winter too of pale misfeature,
Or else he would forego his mortal nature.
Thomas Campbell |
When first the fiery-mantled sun
His heavenly race begun to run;
Round the earth and ocean blue,
His children four the Seasons flew.
First, in green apparel dancing,
The young Spring smiled with angel grace;
Rosy summer next advancing,
Rushed into her sire's embrace:-
Her blue-haired sire, who bade her keep
For ever nearest to his smile,
On Calpe's olive-shaded steep,
On India's citron-covered isles:
More remote and buxom-brown,
The Queen of vintage bowed before his throne,
A rich pomegranate gemmed her gown,
A ripe sheaf bound her zone.
But howling Winter fled afar,
To hills that prop the polar star,
And lives on deer-borne car to ride
With barren darkness at his side,
Round the shore where loud Lofoden
Whirls to death the roaring whale,
Round the hall where runic Odin
Howls his war-song to the gale;
Save when adown the ravaged globe
He travels on his native storm,
Deflowering Nature's grassy robe,
And trampling on her faded form:-
Till light's returning lord assume
The shaft the drives him to his polar field,
Of power to pierce his raven plume
And crystal-covered shield.
Oh, sire of storms! whose savage ear
The Lapland drum delights to hear,
When frenzy with her blood-shot eye
Implores thy dreadful deity,
Archangel! power of desolation!
Fast descending as thou art,
Say, hath mortal invocation
Spells to touch thy stony heart?
Then, sullen Winter, hear my prayer,
And gently rule the ruined year;
Nor chill the wanders bosom bare,
Nor freeze the wretch's falling tear;-
To shuddering Want's unmantled bed
Thy horror-breathing agues cease to lead,
And gently on the orphan head
Of innocence descend.
But chiefly spare, O king of clouds!
The sailor on his airy shrouds;
When wrecks and beacons strew the steep,
And specters walk along the deep.
Milder yet thy snowy breezes
Pour on yonder tented shores,
Where the Rhine's broad billow freezes,
Or the Dark-brown Danube roars.
Oh, winds of winter! List ye there
To many a deep and dying groan;
Or start, ye demons of the midnight air,
At shrieks and thunders louder than your own.
Alas! Even unhallowed breath
May spare the victim fallen low;
But man will ask no truce of death,-
No bounds to human woe.
Robert Graves |
I’ve watched the Seasons passing slow, so slow,
In the fields between La Bass?e and Bethune;
Primroses and the first warm day of Spring,
Red poppy floods of June,
August, and yellowing Autumn, so
To Winter nights knee-deep in mud or snow,
And you’ve been everything.
Dear, you’ve been everything that I most lack
In these soul-deadening trenches—pictures, books,
Music, the quiet of an English wood,
The narrow, bouldered mountain-track,
The broad, full-bosomed ocean, green and black,
And Peace, and all that’s good.
Christina Rossetti |
The irresponsive silence of the land,
The irresponsive sounding of the sea,
Speak both one message of one sense to me:--
Aloof, aloof, we stand aloof, so stand
Thou too aloof bound with the flawless band
Of inner solitude; we bind not thee;
But who from thy self-chain shall set thee free?
What heart shall touch thy heart? what hand thy hand?--
And I am sometimes proud and sometimes meek,
And sometimes I remember days of old
When fellowship seemed not so far to seek
And all the world and I seemed much less cold,
And at the rainbow's foot lay surely gold,
And hope felt strong and life itself not weak.
Thus am I mine own prison.
Around me free and sunny and at ease:
Or if in shadow, in a shade of trees
Which the sun kisses, where the gay birds sing
And where all winds make various murmuring;
Where bees are found, with honey for the bees;
Where sounds are music, and where silences
Are music of an unlike fashioning.
Then gaze I at the merrymaking crew,
And smile a moment and a moment sigh
Thinking: Why can I not rejoice with you?
But soon I put the foolish fancy by:
I am not what I have nor what I do;
But what I was I am, I am even I.
Therefore myself is that one only thing
I hold to use or waste, to keep or give;
My sole possession every day I live,
And still mine own despite Time's winnowing.
Ever mine own, while moons and seasons bring
From crudeness ripeness mellow and sanitive;
Ever mine own, till Death shall ply his sieve;
And still mine own, when saints break grave and sing.
And this myself as king unto my King
I give, to Him Who gave Himself for me;
Who gives Himself to me, and bids me sing
A sweet new song of His redeemed set free;
he bids me sing: O death, where is thy sting?
And sing: O grave, where is thy victory?
Mary Darby Robinson |
PALE GODDESS of the witching hour;
Blest Contemplation's placid friend;
Oft in my solitary bow'r,
I mark thy lucid beam
From thy crystal car descend,
Whitening the spangled heath, and limpid sapphire stream.
And oft, amidst the shades of night
I court thy undulating light;
When Fairies dance around the verdant ring,
Or frisk beside the bubbling spring,
When the thoughtless SHEPHERD'S song
Echoes thro' the silent air,
As he pens his fleecy care,
Or plods with saunt'ring gait, the dewy meads along.
CHASTE ORB! as thro' the vaulted sky
Feath'ry clouds transparent sail;
When thy languid, weeping eye,
Sheds its soft tears upon the painted vale;
As I ponder o'er the floods,
Or tread with listless step, th'embow'ring woods,
O, let thy transitory beam,
Soothe my sad mind, with FANCY'S aëry dream.
Wrapt in REFLECTION, let me trace
O'er the vast ethereal space,
Stars, whose twinkling fires illume
Dark-brow'd NIGHT'S obtrusive gloom;
Where across the concave wide;
Flaming METEORS swiftly glide;
Or along the milky way,
Vapours shoot a silvery ray;
And as I mark, thy faint reclining head,
Sinking on Ocean's pearly bed;
Let REASON tell my soul, thus all things fade.
The Seasons change, the "garish SUN"
When Day's burning car hath run
Its fiery course, no more we view,
While o'er the mountain's golden head,
Streak'd with tints of crimson hue,
Twilight's filmy curtains spread,
Stealing o'er Nature's face, a desolating shade.
Yon musky FLOW'R, that scents the earth;
The SOD, that gave its odours birth;
The ROCK, that breaks the torrent's force;
The VALE, that owns its wand'ring course;
The woodlands where the vocal throng
Trill the wild melodious song;
Thirsty desarts, sands that glow,
Mountains, cap'd with flaky snow;
Luxuriant groves, enamell'd fields,
All, all, prolific Nature yields,
Alike shall end; the sensate HEART,
With all its passions, all its fire,
Touch'd by FATE'S unerring dart,
Shall feel its vital strength expire;
Those eyes, that beam with FRIENDSHIP'S ray,
And glance ineffable delight,
Shall shrink from LIFE'S translucid day,
And close their fainting orbs, in DEATH'S impervious night.
Then what remains for mortal pow'r;
But TIME'S dull journey to beguile;
To deck with joy, the winged hour,
To meet its sorrows with a patient smile;
And when the toilsome pilgrimage shall end,
To greet the tyrant, as a welcome friend.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe |
What we sing in company
Soon from heart to heart will fly.
THE Gesellige Lieder, which I have angicisled
as above, as several of them cannot be called convivial songs, are
separated by Goethe from his other songs, and I have adhered to
the same arrangement.
The Ergo bibamus is a well-known drinking
song in Germany, where it enjoys vast popularity.
ON THE NEW YEAR.
[Composed for a merry party that used to meet,
in 1802, at Goethe's house.
FATE now allows us,
'Twixt the departing
And the upstarting,
Happy to be;
And at the call of
Future and perish'd
Moments we see.
Seasons of anguish,--
Ah, they must ever
Truth from woe sever,
Love and joy part;
Days still more worthy
Soon will unite us,
Fairer songs light us,
Strength'ning the heart.
We, thus united,
Think of, with gladness,
Rapture and sadness,
Sorrow now flies.
Oh, how mysterious
Old the connection,
New-born the prize!
Thank, for this, Fortune,
Thank all that kindly
Fate may bestow!
Revel in change's
Love far sincerer,
More heartfelt glow!
Over the old one,
Sad and dejected,
Others may view;
But, on us gently
Shineth a true one,
And to the new one
We, too, are new.
As a fond couple
'Midst the dance veering,
So let affection
Guide thro' life's mazy
Pathways so hazy
Into the year!
Obi Nwakanma |
ICICLES fall from trees, molten with age,
without memory - they stand aloof in their
nakedness - they limber;
like the gods terrified into silence,
like tall brooding deities looming out of the
The forest hugs them
carves them into stones,
Etches them into the slow
eastern landscape: rivers, hills
the slow running water,
times broken inscapes…
The willows are burdened with ice
the white shrouds of burial spread
upon the earth's ravaged face; the eyes
unseeing, the mouth unspeaking,
a gust of wind proclaims the anger of
immemorial ages; the cycle, the
eternal ritual of mystical returns -
The cypress - whitening -
boneless; wearing her best habit,
a pale green in the forest of ghosts -
And so I walk through this windless night
through the narrow imponderable road
through the silence - the silence of trees -
I hear not even the gust of wind
I hear only the quiet earth, thawing underneath;
I hear the slow silent death of winter -
where the sun is yellowest.
But above, Monadnock looms
like some angry Moloch, her
white nipple seizing the space
drained of all milk.
A she-devil beckoning to worshippers
seductive - her arm stretching outwards -
to this lonely pilgrim
lost in the mist:
Behold the school of wild bucks
Behold the meeting of incarnate
Behold the lost souls bearing tapers
in rags of rich damask,
Down Thomas - the saint of
unbelievers - down the road to bliss
Down to the red house, uncertain
like a beggar's bowl hanging unto the cliff
of withdrawn pledges, where the well is
I have dared to live
beneath the great untamed.
To every good, to every
flicker of stars along the pine
To every tussle with lucid dusk,
To every moonlit pledge, to
every turn made to outleap
I have desired to listen - to listen -
to the ripening of seasons.
This is ONE of a continuing sequence.
I' vo piangendo i miei passati tempi.
HE HUMBLY CONFESSES THE ERRORS OF HIS PAST LIFE, AND PRAYS FOR DIVINE GRACE.
Weeping, I still revolve the seasons flown
In vain idolatry of mortal things;
Not soaring heavenward; though my soul had wings
[Pg 315]Which might, perchance, a glorious flight have shown.
O Thou, discerner of the guilt I own,
Giver of life immortal, King of Kings,
Heal Thou the wounded heart which conscience stings:
It looks for refuge only to thy throne.
Thus, although life was warfare and unrest,
Be death the haven of peace; and if my day
Was vain—yet make the parting moment blest!
Through this brief remnant of my earthly way,
And in death's billows, be thy hand confess'd;
Full well Thou know'st, this hope is all my stay!
Still do I mourn the years for aye gone by,
Which on a mortal love I lavishèd,
Nor e'er to soar my pinions balancèd,
Though wing'd perchance no humble height to fly.
Thou, Dread Invisible, who from on high
Look'st down upon this suffering erring head,
Oh, be thy succour to my frailty sped,
And with thy grace my indigence supply!
My life in storms and warfare doom'd to spend,
Harbour'd in peace that life may I resign:
It's course though idle, pious be its end!
Oh, for the few brief days, which yet are mine,
And for their close, thy guiding hand extend!
Thou know'st on Thee alone my heart's firm hopes recline.