Johann Wolfgang von Goethe |
THE warder looks down at the mid hour of night,
On the tombs that lie scatter'd below:
The moon fills the place with her silvery light,
And the churchyard like day seems to glow.
When see! first one grave, then another opes wide,
And women and men stepping forth are descried,
In cerements snow-white and trailing.
In haste for the sport soon their ankles they twitch,
And whirl round in dances so gay;
The young and the old, and the poor, and the rich,
But the cerements stand in their way;
And as modesty cannot avail them aught here,
They shake themselves all, and the shrouds soon appear
Scatter'd over the tombs in confusion.
Now waggles the leg, and now wriggles the thigh,
As the troop with strange gestures advance,
And a rattle and clatter anon rises high,
As of one beating time to the dance.
The sight to the warder seems wondrously queer,
When the villainous Tempter speaks thus in his ear:
"Seize one of the shrouds that lie yonder!"
Quick as thought it was done! and for safety he fled
Behind the church-door with all speed;
The moon still continues her clear light to shed
On the dance that they fearfully lead.
But the dancers at length disappear one by one,
And their shrouds, ere they vanish, they carefully don,
And under the turf all is quiet.
But one of them stumbles and shuffles there still,
And gropes at the graves in despair;
Yet 'tis by no comrade he's treated so ill
The shroud he soon scents in the air.
So he rattles the door--for the warder 'tis well
That 'tis bless'd, and so able the foe to repel,
All cover'd with crosses in metal.
The shroud he must have, and no rest will allow,
There remains for reflection no time;
On the ornaments Gothic the wight seizes now,
And from point on to point hastes to climb.
Alas for the warder! his doom is decreed!
Like a long-legged spider, with ne'er-changing speed,
Advances the dreaded pursuer.
The warder he quakes, and the warder turns pale,
The shroud to restore fain had sought;
When the end,--now can nothing to save him avail,--
In a tooth formed of iron is caught.
With vanishing lustre the moon's race is run,
When the bell thunders loudly a powerful One,
And the skeleton fails, crush'd to atoms.
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.
Mark Twain |
And did young Stephen sicken,
And did young Stephen die?
And did the sad hearts thicken,
And did the mourners cry?
No; such was not the fate of
Young Stephen Dowling Bots;
Though sad hearts round him thickened,
'Twas not from sickness' shots.
No whooping-cough did rack his frame,
Nor measles drear, with spots;
Not these impaired the sacred name
Of Stephen Dowling Bots.
Despised love struck not with woe
That head of curly knots,
Nor stomach troubles laid him low,
Young Stephen Dowling Bots.
Then list with tearful eye,
Whilst I his fate do tell.
His soul did from this cold world fly,
By falling down a well.
They got him out and emptied him;
Alas it was too late;
His spirit was gone for to sport aloft
In the realms of the good and great.
More great poems below...
Robert Frost |
A winter garden in an alder swamp,
Where conies now come out to sun and romp,
As near a paradise as it can be
And not melt snow or start a dormant tree.
It lifts existence on a plane of snow
One level higher than the earth below,
One level nearer heaven overhead,
And last year's berries shining scarlet red.
It lifts a gaunt luxuriating beast
Where he can stretch and hold his highest feat
On some wild apple tree's young tender bark,
What well may prove the year's high girdle mark.
So near to paradise all pairing ends:
Here loveless birds now flock as winter friends,
Content with bud-inspecting.
To say which buds are leaf and which are bloom.
A feather-hammer gives a double knock.
This Eden day is done at two o'clock.
An hour of winter day might seem too short
To make it worth life's while to wake and sport.
Vachel Lindsay |
(Note: — Pocahontas is buried at Gravesend, England.
"Pocahontas' body, lovely as a poplar, sweet as a red haw in November or a pawpaw in May — did she wonder? does she remember — in the dust — in the cool tombs?"
Powhatan was conqueror,
Powhatan was emperor.
He was akin to wolf and bee,
Brother of the hickory tree.
Son of the red lightning stroke
And the lightning-shivered oak.
His panther-grace bloomed in the maid
Who laughed among the winds and played
In excellence of savage pride,
Wooing the forest, open-eyed,
In the springtime,
Our Mother, Pocahontas.
Her skin was rosy copper-red.
And high she held her beauteous head.
Her step was like a rustling leaf:
Her heart a nest, untouched of grief.
She dreamed of sons like Powhatan,
And through her blood the lightning ran.
Love-cries with the birds she sung,
In the grape-vine swung.
The Forest, arching low and wide
Gloried in its Indian bride.
Rolfe, that dim adventurer
Had not come a courtier.
John Rolfe is not our ancestor.
We rise from out the soul of her
Held in native wonderland,
While the sun's rays kissed her hand,
In the springtime,
Our Mother, Pocahontas.
She heard the forest talking,
Across the sea came walking,
And traced the paths of Daniel Boone,
Then westward chased the painted moon.
She passed with wild young feet
On to Kansas wheat,
On to the miners' west,
The echoing cañons' guest,
Then the Pacific sand,
The midnight land.
On Adams street and Jefferson —
Flames coming up from the ground!
On Jackson street and Washington —
Flames coming up from the ground!
And why, until the dawning sun
Are flames coming up from the ground?
Because, through drowsy Springfield sped
This red-skin queen, with feathered head,
With winds and stars, that pay her court
And leaping beasts, that make her sport;
Because, gray Europe's rags august
She tramples in the dust;
Because we are her fields of corn;
Because our fires are all reborn
From her bosom's deathless embers,
As she remembers
Our Mother, Pocahontas.
We here renounce our Saxon blood.
Tomorrow's hopes, an April flood
Come roaring in.
The newest race
Is born of her resilient grace.
We here renounce our Teuton pride:
Our Norse and Slavic boasts have died:
Italian dreams are swept away,
And Celtic feuds are lost today.
She sings of lilacs, maples, wheat,
Her own soil sings beneath her feet,
Our Mother, Pocahontas.
William Topaz McGonagall |
Edward Teach was a native of Bristol, and sailed from that port
On board a privateer, in search of sport,
As one of the crew, during the French War in that station,
And for personal courage he soon gained his Captain's approbation.
'Twas in the spring of 1717, Captajn Harnigold and Teach sailed from Providence
For the continent of America, and no further hence;
And in their way captured a vessel laden with flour,
Which they put on board their own vessels in the space of an hour.
They also seized two other vessels snd took some gallons of wine,
Besides plunder to a considerable value, and most of it most costly design;
And after that they made a prize of a large French Guinea-man,
Then to act an independent part Teach now began.
But the news spread throughout America, far and near,
And filled many of the inhabitants' hearts with fear;
But Lieutenant Maynard with his sloops of war directly steered,
And left James River on the 17th November in quest of Black Beard,
And on the evening of the 21st came in sight of the pirate;
And when Black Beard spied his sloops he felt elate.
When he saw the sloops sent to apprehend him,
He didn't lose his courage, but fiendishly did grin;
And told his men to cease from drinking and their tittle-tattle,
Although he had only twenty men on board, and prepare for battle.
In case anything should happen to him during the engagement,
One of his men asked him, who felt rather discontent,
Whether his wife knew where he had buried his pelf,
When he impiously replied that nobody knew but the devil and himself.
In the Morning Maynard weighed and sent his boat to sound,
Which, coming near the pirate, unfortunately ran aground;
But Maynard lightened his vessel of the ballast and water,
Whilst from the pirates' ship small shot loudly did clatter.
But the pirates' small shot or slugs didn't Maynard appal,
He told his men to take their cutlasses and be ready upon his call;
And to conceal themselves every man below,
While he would remain at the helm and face the foe.
Then Black Beard cried, "They're all knocked on the head,"
When he saw no hand upon deck he thought they were dead;
Then Black Beard boarded Maynard'a sloop without dismay,
But Maynard's men rushed upon deck, then began the deadly fray.
Then Black Beard and Maynard engaged sword in hand,
And the pirate fought manfully and made a bold stand;
And Maynard with twelve men, and Black Beard with fourteen,
Made the most desperate and bloody conflict that ever was seen.
At last with shots and wounds the pirate fell down dead,
Then from his body Maynard severed the pirate's head,
And suspended it upon his bowsprit-end,
And thanked God Who so mercifully did him defend.
Black Beard derived his name from his long black beard,
Which terrified America more than any comet that had ever appeared;
But, thanks be to God, in this age we need not be afeared,
Of any such pirates as the inhuman Black Beard.
Amy Lowell |
Now what in the name of the sun and the stars
Is the meaning of this most unholy of wars?
Do men find life so full of humour and joy
That for want of excitement they smash up the toy?
Fifteen millions of soldiers with popguns and horses
All bent upon killing, because their "of courses"
Are not quite the same.
All these men by the ears,
And nine nations of women choking with tears.
It is folly to think that the will of a king
Can force men to make ducks and drakes of a thing
They value, and life is, at least one supposes,
Of some little interest, even if roses
Have not grown up between one foot and the other.
What a marvel bureaucracy is, which can smother
Such quite elementary feelings, and tag
A man with a number, and set him to wag
His legs and his arms at the word of command
Or the blow of a whistle! He's certainly damned,
Fit only for mince-meat, if a little gold lace
And an upturned moustache can set him to face
Bullets, and bayonets, and death, and diseases,
Because some one he calls his Emperor, pleases.
If each man were to lay down his weapon, and say,
With a click of his heels, "I wish you Good-day,"
Now what, may I ask, could the Emperor do?
A king and his minions are really so few.
Angry? Oh, of course, a most furious Emperor!
But the men are so many they need not mind his temper, or
The dire results which could not be inflicted.
With no one to execute sentence, convicted
Is just the weak wind from an old, broken bellows.
What lackeys men are, who might be such fine fellows!
To be killing each other, unmercifully,
At an order, as though one said, "Bring up the tea.
Or is it that tasting the blood on their jaws
They lap at it, drunk with its ferment, and laws
So patiently builded, are nothing to drinking
More blood, any blood.
They don't notice its stinking.
I don't suppose tigers do, fighting cocks, sparrows,
And, as to men -- what are men, when their marrows
Are running with blood they have gulped; it is plain
Such excellent sport does not recollect pain.
Toll the bells in the steeples left standing.
The flags which meant order, for order is past.
Take the dust of the streets and sprinkle your head,
The civilization we've worked for is dead.
Squeeze into this archway, the head of the line
Has just swung round the corner to `Die Wacht am Rhein'.
Hilaire Belloc |
Who Slammed Doors For Fun And Perished Miserably
A trick that everyone abhors
In little girls is slamming doors.
A wealthy banker's little daughter
Who lived in Palace Green, Bayswater
(By name Rebecca Offendort),
Was given to this furious sport.
She would deliberately go
And slam the door like billy-o!
To make her uncle Jacob start.
She was not really bad at heart,
But only rather rude and wild;
She was an aggravating child.
It happened that a marble bust
Of Abraham was standing just
Above the door this little lamb
Had carefully prepared to slam,
And down it came! It knocked her flat!
It laid her out! She looked like that.
Her funeral sermon (which was long
And followed by a sacred song)
Mentioned her virtues, it is true,
But dwelt upon her vices too,
And showed the deadful end of one
Who goes and slams the door for fun.
The children who were brought to hear
The awful tale from far and near
Were much impressed, and inly swore
They never more would slam the door,
-- As often they had done before.
Ralph Waldo Emerson |
Who gave thee, O Beauty!
The keys of this breast,
Too credulous lover
Of blest and unblest?
Say when in lapsed ages
Thee knew I of old;
Or what was the service
For which I was sold?
When first my eyes saw thee,
I found me thy thrall,
By magical drawings,
Sweet tyrant of all!
I drank at thy fountain
False waters of thirst;
Thou intimate stranger,
Thou latest and first!
Thy dangerous glances
Make women of men;
New-born we are melting
Into nature again.
Lavish, lavish promiser,
Nigh persuading gods to err,
Guest of million painted forms
Which in turn thy glory warms,
The frailest leaf, the mossy bark,
The acorn's cup, the raindrop's arc,
The swinging spider's silver line,
The ruby of the drop of wine,
The shining pebble of the pond,
Thou inscribest with a bond
In thy momentary play
Would bankrupt Nature to repay.
Ah! what avails it
To hide or to shun
Whom the Infinite One
Hath granted his throne?
The heaven high over
Is the deep's lover,
The sun and sea
Informed by thee,
Before me run,
And draw me on,
Yet fly me still,
As Fate refuses
To me the heart Fate for me chooses,
Is it that my opulent soul
Was mingled from the generous whole,
Sea valleys and the deep of skies
Furnished several supplies,
And the sands whereof I'm made
Draw me to them self-betrayed?
I turn the proud portfolios
Which hold the grand designs
Of Salvator, of Guercino,
And Piranesi's lines.
I hear the lofty Pæans
Of the masters of the shell,
Who heard the starry music,
And recount the numbers well:
Olympian bards who sung
Divine Ideas below,
Which always find us young,
And always keep us so.
Oft in streets or humblest places
I detect far wandered graces,
Which from Eden wide astray
In lowly homes have lost their way.
Thee gliding through the sea of form,
Like the lightning through the storm,
Somewhat not to be possessed,
Somewhat not to be caressed,
No feet so fleet could ever find,
No perfect form could ever bind.
Thou eternal fugitive
Hovering over all that live,
Quick and skilful to inspire
Sweet extravagant desire,
Starry space and lily bell
Filling with thy roseate smell,
Wilt not give the lips to taste
Of the nectar which thou hast.
All that's good and great with thee
Stands in deep conspiracy.
Thou hast bribed the dark and lonely
To report thy features only,
And the cold and purple morning
Itself with thoughts of thee adorning,
The leafy dell, the city mart,
Equal trophies of thine art,
E'en the flowing azure air
Thou hast touched for my despair,
And if I languish into dreams,
Again I meet the ardent beams.
Queen of things! I dare not die
In Being's deeps past ear and eye,
Lest there I find the same deceiver,
And be the sport of Fate forever.
Dread power, but dear! if God thou be,
Unmake me quite, or give thyself to me.
Marriott Edgar |
Joe Dunn were a bobby for football
He gave all his time to that sport,
He played for the West Wigan Whippets,
On days when they turned out one short.
He’d been member of club for three seasons
And had grumbled again and again,
Cos he found only time that they’d used him,
Were when it were pouring with rain!
He felt as his talents were wasted
When each week his job seemed to be
No but minding the clothes for the others
And chucking clods at referee!
So next time selection committee
Came round to ask him for his sub
He told them if they didn’t play him,
He’d transfer to some other club.
Committee they coaxed and cudgelled him
But found he’d have none of their shifts
So they promised to play him next weekend
In match against Todmorden Swifts.
This match were the plum of the season
An annual fixture it stood,
‘T were reckoned as good as a cup tie
By them as liked plenty of blood!
The day of the match dawned in splendour
A beautiful morning it were
With a fog drifting up from the brick fields
And a drizzle of rain in the air.
The Whippets made Joe their goalkeeper
A thing as weren’t wanted at all
For they knew once battle had started
They’d have no time to mess with the ball!
Joe stood by the goal posts and shivered
While the fog round his legs seemed to creep
'Til feeling neglected and lonely
He leant back and went fast asleep.
He dreamt he were playing at Wembley
And t’roar of a thundering cheer
He were kicking a goal for the Whippets
When he woke with a clout in his ear!
He found 'twere the ball that had struck him
And inside the net there it lay
But as no one had seen this ‘ere ‘appen
He punted it back into play!
'Twere the first ball he’d punted in anger
His feelings he couldn’t restrain
Forgetting as he were goalkeeper
He ran out and kicked it again!
Then after the ball like a rabbit
He rushed down the field full of pride
He reckoned if nobody stopped him
Then ‘appen he’d score for his side.
‘Alf way down he bumped into his captain
Who weren’t going to let him go by
But Joe, like Horatio Nelson
Put a fist to the Captain’s blind eye!
On he went 'til the goal lay before him
Then stopping to get himself set
He steadied the ball, and then kicked it
And landed it right in the net!
The fog seemed to lift at that moment
And all eyes were turned on the lad
The Whippets seemed kind of dumbfounded
While the Swifts started cheering like mad!
'Twere his own goal as he’d kicked the ball through
He’d scored for his foes ‘gainst his friends
For he’d slept through the referee’s whistle
And at half time he hadn’t changed ends!
Joe was transferred from the West Wigan Whippets
To the Todmorden Swifts, where you’ll see
Still minding the clothes for the others
And chucking clods at referee!
Robert Southey |
And they have drown'd thee then at last! poor Phillis!
The burthen of old age was heavy on thee.
And yet thou should'st have lived! what tho' thine eye
Was dim, and watch'd no more with eager joy
The wonted call that on thy dull sense sunk
With fruitless repetition, the warm Sun
Would still have cheer'd thy slumber, thou didst love
To lick the hand that fed thee, and tho' past
Youth's active season, even Life itself
Poor old friend! most earnestly
Would I have pleaded for thee: thou hadst been
Still the companion of my childish sports,
And, as I roam'd o'er Avon's woody clifts,
From many a day-dream has thy short quick bark
Recall'd my wandering soul.
I have beguil'd
Often the melancholy hours at school,
Sour'd by some little tyrant, with the thought
Of distant home, and I remember'd then
Thy faithful fondness: for not mean the joy,
Returning at the pleasant holydays,
I felt from thy dumb welcome.
Sometimes have I remark'd thy slow decay,
Feeling myself changed too, and musing much
On many a sad vicissitude of Life!
Ah poor companion! when thou followedst last
Thy master's parting footsteps to the gate
That clos'd for ever on him, thou didst lose
Thy truest friend, and none was left to plead
For the old age of brute fidelity!
But fare thee well! mine is no narrow creed,
And HE who gave thee being did not frame
The mystery of life to be the sport
Of merciless man! there is another world
For all that live and move--a better one!
Where the proud bipeds, who would fain confine
INFINITE GOODNESS to the little bounds
Of their own charity, may envy thee!
Friedrich von Schiller |
See how, like lightest waves at play, the airy dancers fleet;
And scarcely feels the floor the wings of those harmonious feet.
Ob, are they flying shadows from their native forms set free?
Or phantoms in the fairy ring that summer moonbeams see?
As, by the gentle zephyr blown, some light mist flees in air,
As skiffs that skim adown the tide, when silver waves are fair,
So sports the docile footstep to the heave of that sweet measure,
As music wafts the form aloft at its melodious pleasure,
Now breaking through the woven chain of the entangled dance,
From where the ranks the thickest press, a bolder pair advance,
The path they leave behind them lost--wide open the path beyond,
The way unfolds or closes up as by a magic wand.
See now, they vanish from the gaze in wild confusion blended;
All, in sweet chaos whirled again, that gentle world is ended!
No!--disentangled glides the knot, the gay disorder ranges--
The only system ruling here, a grace that ever changes.
For ay destroyed--for ay renewed, whirls on that fair creation;
And yet one peaceful law can still pervade in each mutation.
And what can to the reeling maze breathe harmony and vigor,
And give an order and repose to every gliding figure?
That each a ruler to himself doth but himself obey,
Yet through the hurrying course still keeps his own appointed way.
What, would'st thou know? It is in truth the mighty power of tune,
A power that every step obeys, as tides obey the moon;
That threadeth with a golden clue the intricate employment,
Curbs bounding strength to tranquil grace, and tames the wild enjoyment.
And comes the world's wide harmony in vain upon thine ears?
The stream of music borne aloft from yonder choral spheres?
And feel'st thou not the measure which eternal Nature keeps?
The whirling dance forever held in yonder azure deeps?
The suns that wheel in varying maze?--That music thou discernest?
No! Thou canst honor that in sport which thou forgettest in earnest.
Ogden Nash |
How pleasant to sit on the beach,
On the beach, on the sand, in the sun,
With ocean galore within reach,
And nothing at all to be done!
No letters to answer,
No bills to be burned,
No work to be shirked,
No cash to be earned,
It is pleasant to sit on the beach
With nothing at all to be done!
How pleasant to look at the ocean,
Democratic and damp; indiscriminate;
It fills me with noble emotion
To think I am able to swim in it.
To lave in the wave,
Majestic and chilly,
Tomorrow I crave;
But today it is silly.
It is pleasant to look at the ocean;
Tomorrow, perhaps, I shall swim in it.
How pleasant to gaze at the sailors
As their sailboats they manfully sail
With the vigor of vikings and whalers
In the days of the vikings and whale.
They sport on the brink
Of the shad and the shark;
If it’s windy, they sink;
If it isn’t, they park.
It is pleasant to gaze at the sailors,
To gaze without having to sail.
How pleasant the salt anesthetic
Of the air and the sand and the sun;
Leave the earth to the strong and athletic,
And the sea to adventure upon.
But the sun and the sand
No contractor can copy;
We lie in the land
Of the lotus and poppy;
We vegetate, calm and aesthetic,
On the beach, on the sand, in the sun.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe |
WHEN the primeval
Sows with a tranquil hand
From clouds, as they roll,
Over the earth,
Then do I kiss the last
Hem of his garment,
While by a childlike awe
Fiil'd is my breast.
For with immortals
Ne'er may a mortal
If he soar upwards
And if he touch
With his forehead the stars,
Nowhere will rest then
His insecure feet,
And with him sport
Tempest and cloud.
Though with firm sinewy
Limbs he may stand
On the enduring
All he is ever
Able to do,
Is to resemble
The oak or the vine.
Wherein do gods
Differ from mortals?
In that the former
See endless billows
Heaving before them;
Us doth the billow
Lift up and swallow,
So that we perish.
Small is the ring
Enclosing our life,
And whole generations
Link themselves firmly
On to existence's
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.