Andrew Marvell | |
Had we but world enough, and time,
This coyness, lady, were no crime.
We would sit down, and think which way
To walk, and pass our long love's day.
Thou by the Indian Ganges' side
Shouldst rubies find; I by the tide
Of Humber would complain.
Love you ten years before the Flood,
And you should, if you please, refuse
Till the conversion of the Jews.
My vegetable love should grow
Vaster than empires and more slow;
An hundred years should go to praise
Thine eyes, and on thy forehead gaze;
Two hundred to adore each breast,
But thirty thousand to the rest;
An age at least to every part,
And the last age should show your heart.
For, lady, you deserve this state,
Nor would I love at lower rate.
But at my back I always hear
Time's wingèd chariot hurrying near;
And yonder all before us lie
Deserts of vast eternity.
Thy beauty shall no more be found;
Nor, in thy marble vault, shall sound
My echoing song; then worms shall try
That long-preserved virginity,
And your quaint honor turn to dust,
And into ashes all my lust:
The grave's a fine and private place,
But none, I think, do there embrace.
Now therefore, while the youthful hue
Sits on thy skin like morning dew,
And while thy willing soul transpires
At every pore with instant fires,
Now let us sport us while we may,
And now, like amorous birds of prey,
Rather at once our time devour
Than languish in his slow-chapped power.
Let us roll all our strength and all
Our sweetness up into one ball,
And tear our pleasures with rough strife
Thorough the iron gates of life:
Thus, though we cannot make our sun
Stand still, yet we will make him run.
Stephen Vincent Benet | |
"Ah, did you once see Shelley plain?" -- Browning.
"Shelley? Oh, yes, I saw him often then,"
The old man said.
A dry smile creased his face
With many wrinkles.
"That's a great poem, now!
That one of Browning's! Shelley? Shelley plain?
The time that I remember best is this --
A thin mire crept along the rutted ways,
And all the trees were harried by cold rain
That drove a moment fiercely and then ceased,
Falling so slow it hung like a grey mist
Over the school.
The walks were like blurred glass.
The buildings reeked with vapor, black and harsh
Against the deepening darkness of the sky;
And each lamp was a hazy yellow moon,
Filling the space about with golden motes,
And making all things larger than they were.
One yellow halo hung above a door,
That gave on a black passage.
Struggled a howling crowd of boys, pell-mell,
Pushing and jostling like a stormy sea,
With shouting faces, turned a pasty white
By the strange light, for foam.
They all had clods,
Or slimy balls of mud.
A few gripped stones.
And there, his back against the battered door,
His pile of books scattered about his feet,
Stood Shelley while two others held him fast,
And the clods beat upon him.
The high shouts rang through all the corridors,
`Shelley! Mad Shelley! Come along and help!'
And all the crowd dug madly at the earth,
Scratching and clawing at the streaming mud,
And fouled each other and themselves.
Shelley stood up.
His eyes were like a flame
Set in some white, still room; for all his face
Was white, a whiteness like no human color,
But white and dreadful as consuming fire.
His hands shook now and then, like slender cords
Which bear too heavy weights.
He did not speak.
So I saw Shelley plain.
"And you?" I said.
"I? I threw straighter than the most of them,
And had firm clods.
I hit him -- well, at least
Thrice in the face.
He made good sport that night.
William Cullen Bryant | |
Stranger, if thou hast learned a truth which needs
No school of long experience, that the world
Is full of guilt and misery, and hast seen
Enough of all its sorrows, crimes, and cares,
To tire thee of it, enter this wild wood
And view the haunts of nature.
The calm shade
Shall bring a kindred calm, and the sweet breeze
That makes the green leaves dance, shall waft a balm
To thy sick heart.
Thou wilt find nothing here
Of all that pained thee in the haunts of men,
And made thee loathe thy life.
The primal curse
Fell, it is true, upon the unsinning earth,
But not in vengance.
God hath yoked to guilt
Her pale tormentor, Misery.
Hence these shades
Are still the abode of gladness; the thick roof
Of green and stirring branches is alive
And musical with birds, that sing and sport
In wantonness of spirit; while below
The squirrel, with raised paws and form erect,
Throngs of insects in the shade
Try their thin wings and dance in the warm beam.
That waked them into life.
Even the green trees
Partake the deep contentment; as they bend
To the soft winds, the sun from the blue sky
Looks in and sheds a blessing on the scene.
Scarce less the cleft-born wildflower seems to enjoy
Existence, than the winged plunderer
That sucks its sweets.
The mossy rocks themselves,
And the old and ponderous trunks of prostrate trees
That lead from knoll to knoll a causeway rude,
Or bridge the sunken brook, and their dark roots,
With all their roots upon them, twisting high,
Breathe fixed tranquility.
Sends forth glad sounds, and tripping o'er its bed
Of pebbly sands, or leaping down the rocks
Seems, with continuous laughter, to rejoice
In its own being.
Softly tread the marge,
Lest from her midway perch thou scare the wren
That dips her bill in water.
The cool wind,
That stirs the stream in play, shall come to thee,
Like one that loves thee nor will let thee pass
Ungreeted, and shall give its light embrace.
More great poems below...
Robert Seymour Bridges | |
How fares it, friend, since I by Fate annoy'd
Left the old home in need of livelier play
For body and mind? How fare, this many a day,
The stubborn thews and ageless heart of Floyd?
If not too well with country sport employ'd,
Visit my flock, the breezy hill that they
Choose for their fold; and see, for thence you may,
From rising walls all roofless yet and void,
The lovely city, thronging tower and spire,
The mind of the wide landscape, dreaming deep,
Grey-silvery in the vale; a shrine where keep
Memorian hopes their pale celestial fire:
Like man's immortal conscience of desire,
The spirit that watcheth in me ev'n in my sleep.
Thomas Edward Brown | |
Methinks in Him there dwells alway
A sea of laughter very deep,
Where the leviathans leap,
And little children play,
Their white feet twinkling on its crisped edge;
But in the outer bay
The strong man drives the wedge
Of polished limbs,
Yet there is one will say:--
'It is but shallow, neither is it broad'--
And so he frowns; but is he nearer God?
One saith that God is in the note of bird,
And piping wind, and brook,
And all the joyful things that speak no word:
Then if from sunny nook
Or shade a fair child's laugh
Is not God half?
And if a strong man gird
His loins for laughter, stirred
By trick of ape or calf--
Is he no better than a cawing rook?
Nay 'tis a Godlike function; laugh thy fill!
Mirth comes to thee unsought;
Mirth sweeps before it like a flood the mill
Of languaged logic; thought
Hath not its source so high;
Must let it by:
For though the heavens are still,
God sits upon His hill,
And sees the shadows fly;
And if He laughs at fools, why should He not?
'Yet hath a fool a laugh'--Yea, of a sort;
God careth for the fools;
The chemic tools
Of laughter He hath given them, and some toys
Of sense, as 'twere a small retort
Wherein they may collect the joys
Of natural giggling, as becomes their state:
The fool is not inhuman, making sport
For such as would not gladly be without
That old familiar noise:
Since, though he laugh not, he can cachinnate--
This also is of God, we may not doubt.
'Is there an empty laugh?' Best called a shell
From which a laugh has flown,
A mask, a well
That hath no water of its own,
Part echo of a groan,
Which, if it hide a cheat,
Is a base counterfeit;
But if one borrow
A cloak to wrap a sorrow
That it may pass unknown,
Then can it not be empty.
God doth dwell
Behind the feigned gladness,
Inhabiting a sacred core of sadness.
'Yet is there not an evil laugh?' Content--
When Satan fills the hollows
Of his bolt-riven heart
With spasms of unrest,
And calls it laughter; if it give relief
To his great grief,
Grudge not the dreadful jest.
But if the laugh be aimed
At any good thing that it be ashamed,
And blush thereafter,
Then it is evil, and it is not laughter.
There are who laugh, but know not why:
Whether the force
Of simple health and vigour seek a course
Extravagant, as when a wave runs high,
And tips with crest of foam the incontinent curve,
Or if it be reserve
Of power collected for a goal, which had,
Behold! the man is fresh.
So when strung nerve,
Stout heart, pent breath, have brought you to the source
Of a great river, on the topmost stie
Of cliff, then have you bad
All heaven to laugh with you; yet somewhere nigh
A shepherd lad
Has wondering looked, and deemed that you were mad.
Sir Henry Newbolt | |
I was out early to-day, spying about
From the top of a haystack -- such a lovely morning --
And when I mounted again to canter back
I saw across a field in the broad sunlight
A young Gunner Subaltern, stalking along
With a rook-rifle held at the read, and -- would you believe it? --
A domestic cat, soberly marching beside him.
So I laughed, and felt quite well disposed to the youngster,
And shouted out "the top of the morning" to him,
And wished him "Good sport!" -- and then I remembered
My rank, and his, and what I ought to be doing:
And I rode nearer, and added, "I can only suppose
You have not seen the Commander-in-Chief's order
Forbidding English officers to annoy their Allies
By hunting and shooting.
But he stood and saluted
And said earnestly, "I beg your pardon, Sir,
I was only going out to shoot a sparrow
To feed my cat with.
So there was the whole picture,
The lovely early morning, the occasional shell
Screeching and scattering past us, the empty landscape, --
Empty, except for the young Gunner saluting,
And the cat, anxiously watching his every movement.
I may be wrong, or I may have told it badly,
But it struck me as being extremely ludicrous.
Sir John Suckling | |
I prithee spare me gentle boy,
Press me no more for that slight toy,
That foolish trifle of an heart;
I swear it will not do its part,
Though thou dost thine, employ'st thy pow'r and art.
For through long custom it has known
The little secrets, and is grown
Sullen and wise, will have its will,
And like old hawks pursues that still
That makes least sport, flies only where't can kill.
Some youth that has not made his story,
Will think perchance the pain's the glory,
And mannerly sit out love's feast;
I shall be carving of the best,
Rudely call for the last course 'fore the rest.
And oh when once that course is past,
How short a time the feast doth last;
Men rise away and scarce say grace,
Or civilly once thank the face
That did invite, but seek another place.
Sir John Suckling | |
One of her hands one of her cheeks lay under,
Cosening the pillow of a lawful kiss,
Which therefore swell'd, and seem'd to part asunder,
As angry to be robb'd of such a bliss!
The one look'd pale and for revenge did long,
While t'other blush'd, 'cause it had done the wrong.
Out of the bed the other fair hand was
On a green satin quilt, whose perfect white
Look'd like a daisy in a field of grass,
And show'd like unmelt snow unto the sight;
There lay this pretty perdue, safe to keep
The rest o' th' body that lay fast asleep.
Her eyes (and therefore it was night), close laid
Strove to imprison beauty till the morn:
But yet the doors were of such fine stuff made,
That it broke through, and show'd itself in scorn,
Throwing a kind of light about the place,
Which turn'd to smiles still, as't came near her face.
Her beams, which some dull men call'd hair, divided,
Part with her cheeks, part with her lips did sport.
But these, as rude, her breath put by still; some
Wiselier downwards sought, but falling short,
Curled back in rings, and seemed to turn again
To bite the part so unkindly held them in.
Edgar Albert Guest | |
How much grit do you think you've got?
Can you quit a thing that you like a lot?
You may talk of pluck; it's an easy word,
And where'er you go it is often heard;
But can you tell to a jot or guess
Just how much courage you now possess?
You may stand to trouble and keep your grin,
But have you tackled self-discipline?
Have you ever issued commands to you
To quit the things that you like to do,
And then, when tempted and sorely swayed,
Those rigid orders have you obeyed?
Don't boast of your grit till you've tried it out,
Nor prate to men of your courage stout,
For it's easy enough to retain a grin
In the face of a fight there's a chance to win,
But the sort of grit that is good to own
Is the stuff you need when you're all alone.
How much grit do you think you've got?
Can you turn from joys that you like a lot?
Have you ever tested yourself to know
How far with yourself your will can go?
If you want to know if you have grit,
Just pick out a joy that you like, and quit.
It's bully sport and it's open fight;
It will keep you busy both day and night;
For the toughest kind of a game you'll find
Is to make your body obey your mind.
And you never will know what is meant by grit
Unless there's something you've tried to quit.
Petrarch | |
Onde tolse Amor l' oro e di qual vena.
THE CHARMS OF HER COUNTENANCE AND VOICE.
Whence could Love take the gold, and from what vein,
To form those bright twin locks? What thorn could grow
Those roses? And what mead that white bestow
Of the fresh dews, which pulse and breath obtain?
Whence came those pearls that modestly restrain
Accents which courteous, sweet, and rare can flow?
And whence those charms that so divinely show,
Spread o'er a face serene as heaven's blue plain?
Taught by what angel, or what tuneful sphere,
Was that celestial song, which doth dispense
Such potent magic to the ravish'd ear?
What sun illumed those bright commanding eyes,
Which now look peaceful, now in hostile guise;
Now torture me with hope, and now with fear?
Say, from what vein did Love procure the gold
To make those sunny tresses? From what thorn
Stole he the rose, and whence the dew of morn,
Bidding them breathe and live in Beauty's mould?
What depth of ocean gave the pearls that told
Those gentle accents sweet, though rarely born?
Whence came so many graces to adorn
That brow more fair than summer skies unfold?
Oh! say what angels lead, what spheres control
The song divine which wastes my life away?
(Who can with trifles now my senses move?)
What sun gave birth unto the lofty soul
Of those enchanting eyes, whose glances stray
To burn and freeze my heart—the sport of Love?
Petrarch | |
Ite, rime dolenti, al duro sasso.
HE PRAYS THAT SHE WILL BE NEAR HIM AT HIS DEATH, WHICH HE FEELS APPROACHING.
Go, plaintive verse, to the cold marble go,
Which hides in earth my treasure from these eyes;
[Pg 291]There call on her who answers from yon skies,
Although the mortal part dwells dark and low.
Of life how I am wearied make her know,
Of stemming these dread waves that round me rise:
But, copying all her virtues I so prize,
Her track I follow, yet my steps are slow.
I sing of her, living, or dead, alone;
(Dead, did I say? She is immortal made!)
That by the world she should be loved, and known.
Oh! in my passage hence may she be near,
To greet my coming that's not long delay'd;
And may I hold in heaven the rank herself holds there!
Go, melancholy rhymes! your tribute bring
To that cold stone, which holds the dear remains
Of all that earth held precious;—uttering,
If heaven should deign to hear them, earthly strains.
Tell her, that sport of tempests, fit no more
To stem the troublous ocean,—here at last
Her votary treads the solitary shore;
His only pleasure to recall the past.
Tell her, that she who living ruled his fate,
In death still holds her empire: all his care,
So grant the Muse her aid,—to celebrate
Her every word, and thought, and action fair.
Be this my meed, that in the hour of death
Her kindred spirit may hail, and bless my parting breath!
Ben Jonson | |
? TO FINE LADY WOULD-BE.
Fine madam WOULD-BE, wherefore should you fear,
That love to make so well, a child to bear ?
The world reputes you barren : but I know
Your pothecary, and his drug, says no.
Is it the pain affrights ? that's soon forgot.
Or your complexion's loss ? you have a pot,
That can restore that.
Will it hurt your feature ?
To make amends, you are thought a wholesome creature.
What should the cause be ? oh, you live at court ;
And there's both loss of time, and loss of sport,
In a great belly : Write then on thy womb,
? Of the not born, yet buried, here's the tomb.
for Léon Vanier*
(The texts I use for my translations are from: Yves-Alain Favre, Ed.
Paul Verlaine: Œuvres Poétiques Complètes.
Paris: Robert Laffont,1992, XCIX-939p.
Some few in all this Paris:
We live off pride, yet flat broke we’re
Even if with the bottle a bit too free
We drink above all fresh water
Being very sparing when taken with hunger.
With other fine fare and wines of high-estate
Likewise with beauty: sour-tempered never.
We are the writers of good taste.
Phoebé when all the cats gray be
Highly sharpened to a point much harsher
Our bodies nourrished by glory
Hell licks its lips and in ambush does cower
And with his dart Phoebus pierces us ever
The night cradling us through dreamy waste
Strewn with seeds of peach beds over.
We are the writers of good taste.
A good many of the best minds rally
Holding high Man’s standard: toffee-nosed scoffer
And Lemerre* retains with success poetry’s destiny.
More than one poet then helter-skelter
Sought to join the rest through the narrow fissure;
But Vanier at the very end made haste
The only lucky one to assume the rôle of Fisher*.
We are the writers of good taste.
Even if our stock exchange tends to dither
Princes hold sway: gentle folk and the divining caste.
Whatever one might say or pours forth the preacher,
We are the writers of good taste.
*One of Verlaine’s publishers who first published his near-collected works at 19, quai Saint-Michel, Paris-V.
* Alphonse Lemerre (1838-1912) , one of Verlaine’s publishers at 47, Passage Choiseul, Paris, where from 1866 onwards the Parnassians met regularly.
*Vanier first specialised in articles for fishing as a sport.
Wignesan – Paris,2013
Hey, diddle, diddle!
The cat and the fiddle,
The cow jumped over the moon;
The little dog laughed
To see such sport,
And the dish ran away with the spoon.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe | |
IF thou wouldst live unruffled by care,
Let not the past torment thee e'er;
If any loss thou hast to rue,
Act as though thou wert born anew;
Inquire the meaning of each day,
What each day means itself will say;
In thine own actions take thy pleasure,
What others do, thou'lt duly treasure;
Ne'er let thy breast with hate be supplied,
And to God the future confide.
IF wealth is gone--then something is gone!
Quick, make up thy mind,
And fresh wealth find.
If honour is gone--then much is gone!
Seek glory to find,
And people then will alter their mind.
If courage is gone--then all is gone!
'Twere better that thou hadst never been born.
HE who with life makes sport,
Can prosper never;
Who rules himself in nought,
Is a slave ever.
MAY each honest effort be
Crown'd with lasting constancy.
EACH road to the proper end
Runs straight on, without a bend.