Walt Whitman |
SPLENDOR of ended day, floating and filling me!
Hour prophetic—hour resuming the past!
Inflating my throat—you, divine average!
You, Earth and Life, till the last ray gleams, I sing.
Open mouth of my Soul, uttering gladness,
Eyes of my Soul, seeing perfection,
Natural life of me, faithfully praising things;
Corroborating forever the triumph of things.
Illustrious every one!
Illustrious what we name space—sphere of unnumber’d spirits;
Illustrious the mystery of motion, in all beings, even the tiniest insect;
Illustrious the attribute of speech—the senses—the body;
Illustrious the passing light! Illustrious the pale reflection on the new moon in the
Illustrious whatever I see, or hear, or touch, to the last.
Good in all,
In the satisfaction and aplomb of animals,
In the annual return of the seasons,
In the hilarity of youth,
In the strength and flush of manhood,
In the grandeur and exquisiteness of old age,
In the superb vistas of Death.
Wonderful to depart;
Wonderful to be here!
The heart, to jet the all-alike and innocent blood!
To breathe the air, how delicious!
To speak! to walk! to seize something by the hand!
To prepare for sleep, for bed—to look on my rose-color’d flesh;
To be conscious of my body, so satisfied, so large;
To be this incredible God I am;
To have gone forth among other Gods—these men and women I love.
Wonderful how I celebrate you and myself!
How my thoughts play subtly at the spectacles around!
How the clouds pass silently overhead!
How the earth darts on and on! and how the sun, moon, stars, dart on and on!
How the water sports and sings! (Surely it is alive!)
How the trees rise and stand up—with strong trunks—with branches and leaves!
(Surely there is something more in each of the tree—some living Soul.
O amazement of things! even the least particle!
O spirituality of things!
O strain musical, flowing through ages and continents—now reaching me and America!
I take your strong chords—I intersperse them, and cheerfully pass them forward.
I too carol the sun, usher’d, or at noon, or, as now, setting,
I too throb to the brain and beauty of the earth, and of all the growths of the earth,
I too have felt the resistless call of myself.
As I sail’d down the Mississippi,
As I wander’d over the prairies,
As I have lived—As I have look’d through my windows, my eyes,
As I went forth in the morning—As I beheld the light breaking in the east;
As I bathed on the beach of the Eastern Sea, and again on the beach of the Western Sea;
As I roam’d the streets of inland Chicago—whatever streets I have roam’d;
Or cities, or silent woods, or peace, or even amid the sights of war;
Wherever I have been, I have charged myself with contentment and triumph.
I sing the Equalities, modern or old,
I sing the endless finales of things;
I say Nature continues—Glory continues;
I praise with electric voice;
For I do not see one imperfection in the universe;
And I do not see one cause or result lamentable at last in the universe.
O setting sun! though the time has come,
I still warble under you, if none else does, unmitigated adoration.
William Blake |
Love and harmony combine,
And round our souls entwine
While thy branches mix with mine,
And our roots together join.
Joys upon our branches sit,
Chirping loud and singing sweet;
Like gentle streams beneath our feet
Innocence and virtue meet.
Thou the golden fruit dost bear,
I am clad in flowers fair;
Thy sweet boughs perfume the air,
And the turtle buildeth there.
There she sits and feeds her young,
Sweet I hear her mournful song;
And thy lovely leaves among,
There is love, I hear his tongue.
There his charming nest doth lay,
There he sleeps the night away;
There he sports along the day,
And doth among our branches play.
Michael Ondaatje |
All night long the hockey pictures
gaze down at you
sleeping in your tracksuit.
Belligerent goalies are your ideal.
Threats of being traded
cuts and wounds
--all this pleases you.
O my god! you say at breakfast
reading the sports page over the Alpen
as another player breaks his ankle
or assaults the coach.
When I thought of daughters
I wasn't expecting this
but I like this more.
I like all your faults
even your purple moods
when you retreat from everyone
to sit in bed under a quilt.
And when I say 'like'
I mean of course 'love'
but that embarrasses you.
You who feel superior to black and white movies
(coaxed for hours to see Casablanca)
though you were moved
by Creature from the Black Lagoon.
One day I'll come swimming
beside your ship or someone will
and if you hear the siren
listen to it.
For if you close your ears
only nothing happens.
You will never change.
I don't care if you risk
your life to angry goalies
creatures with webbed feet.
You can enter their caves and castles
their glass laboratories.
don't be fooled by anyone but yourself.
This is the first lecture I've given you.
You're 'sweet sixteen' you said.
I'd rather be your closest friend
than your father.
I'm not good at advice
you know that, but ride
until they grow dark.
Sometimes you are so busy
discovering your friends
I ache with loss
--but that is greed.
And sometimes I've gone
into my purple world
and lost you.
One afternoon I stepped
into your room.
You were sitting
at the desk where I now write this.
Forsythia outside the window
and sun spilled over you
like a thick yellow miracle
as if another planet
was coaxing you out of the house
--all those possible worlds!--
and you, meanwhile, busy with mathematics.
I cannot look at forsythia now
without loss, or joy for you.
You step delicately
into the wild world
and your real prize will be
the frantic search.
If you break
break going out not in.
How you live your life I don't care
but I'll sell my arms for you,
hold your secrets forever.
If I speak of death
which you fear now, greatly,
it is without answers.
except that each
one we know is
in our blood.
Don't recall graves.
Memory is permanent.
Remember the afternoon's
yellow suburban annunciation.
in his frightening mask
Marge Piercy |
The construction of a woman:
a woman is not made of flesh
of bone and sinew
belly and breasts, elbows and liver and toe.
She is manufactured like a sports sedan.
She is retooled, refitted and redesigned
Cecile had been seduction itself in college.
She wriggled through bars like a satin eel,
her hips and ass promising, her mouth pursed
in the dark red lipstick of desire.
She visited in '68 still wearing skirts
tight to the knees, dark red lipstick,
while I danced through Manhattan in mini skirt,
lipstick pale as apricot milk,
hair loose as a horse's mane.
I thought in my superiority of the moment,
whatever has happened to poor Cecile?
She was out of fashion, out of the game,
disqualified, disdained, dis-
membered from the club of desire.
Look at pictures in French fashion
magazines of the 18th century:
century of the ultimate lady
fantasy wrought of silk and corseting.
Paniers bring her hips out three feet
each way, while the waist is pinched
and the belly flattened under wood.
The breasts are stuffed up and out
offered like apples in a bowl.
The tiny foot is encased in a slipper
never meant for walking.
On top is a grandiose headache:
hair like a museum piece, daily
ornamented with ribbons, vases,
grottoes, mountains, frigates in full
sail, balloons, baboons, the fancy
of a hairdresser turned loose.
The hats were rococo wedding cakes
that would dim the Las Vegas strip.
Here is a woman forced into shape
rigid exoskeleton torturing flesh:
a woman made of pain.
How superior we are now: see the modern woman
thin as a blade of scissors.
She runs on a treadmill every morning,
fits herself into machines of weights
and pulleys to heave and grunt,
an image in her mind she can never
approximate, a body of rosy
glass that never wrinkles,
never grows, never fades.
sits at the table closing her eyes to food
hungry, always hungry:
a woman made of pain.
A cat or dog approaches another,
they sniff noses.
They sniff asses.
They bristle or lick.
in love as often as we do,
But they fall
in love or lust with furry flesh,
not hoop skirts or push up bras
rib removal or liposuction.
It is not for male or female dogs
that poodles are clipped
to topiary hedges.
If only we could like each other raw.
If only we could love ourselves
like healthy babies burbling in our arms.
If only we were not programmed and reprogrammed
to need what is sold us.
Why should we want to live inside ads?
Why should we want to scourge our softness
to straight lines like a Mondrian painting?
Why should we punish each other with scorn
as if to have a large ass
were worse than being greedy or mean?
When will women not be compelled
to view their bodies as science projects,
gardens to be weeded,
dogs to be trained?
When will a woman cease
to be made of pain?
Walt Whitman |
WHY! who makes much of a miracle?
As to me, I know of nothing else but miracles,
Whether I walk the streets of Manhattan,
Or dart my sight over the roofs of houses toward the sky,
Or wade with naked feet along the beach, just in the edge of the water,
Or stand under trees in the woods,
Or talk by day with any one I love—or sleep in the bed at night with any one I love,
Or sit at table at dinner with my mother,
Or look at strangers opposite me riding in the car,
Or watch honey-bees busy around the hive, of a summer forenoon,
Or animals feeding in the fields,
Or birds—or the wonderfulness of insects in the air,
Or the wonderfulness of the sun-down—or of stars shining so quiet and bright,
Or the exquisite, delicate, thin curve of the new moon in spring;
Or whether I go among those I like best, and that like me best—mechanics, boatmen,
Or among the savans—or to the soiree—or to the opera,
Or stand a long while looking at the movements of machinery,
Or behold children at their sports,
Or the admirable sight of the perfect old man, or the perfect old woman,
Or the sick in hospitals, or the dead carried to burial,
Or my own eyes and figure in the glass;
These, with the rest, one and all, are to me miracles,
The whole referring—yet each distinct, and in its place.
To me, every hour of the light and dark is a miracle,
Every cubic inch of space is a miracle,
Every square yard of the surface of the earth is spread with the same,
Every foot of the interior swarms with the same;
Every spear of grass—the frames, limbs, organs, of men and women, and all that
All these to me are unspeakably perfect miracles.
To me the sea is a continual miracle;
The fishes that swim—the rocks—the motion of the waves—the ships, with men
What stranger miracles are there?
Robert Herrick |
TO THE HONOURED MR ENDYMION PORTER, GROOM OF
THE BED-CHAMBER TO HIS MAJESTY
Sweet country life, to such unknown,
Whose lives are others', not their own!
But serving courts and cities, be
Less happy, less enjoying thee.
Thou never plough'st the ocean's foam
To seek and bring rough pepper home:
Nor to the Eastern Ind dost rove
To bring from thence the scorched clove:
Nor, with the loss of thy loved rest,
Bring'st home the ingot from the West.
No, thy ambition's master-piece
Flies no thought higher than a fleece:
Or how to pay thy hinds, and clear
All scores: and so to end the year:
But walk'st about thine own dear bounds,
Not envying others' larger grounds:
For well thou know'st, 'tis not th' extent
Of land makes life, but sweet content.
When now the cock (the ploughman's horn)
Calls forth the lily-wristed morn;
Then to thy corn-fields thou dost go,
Which though well soil'd, yet thou dost know
That the best compost for the lands
Is the wise master's feet, and hands.
There at the plough thou find'st thy team,
With a hind whistling there to them:
And cheer'st them up, by singing how
The kingdom's portion is the plough.
This done, then to th' enamell'd meads
Thou go'st; and as thy foot there treads,
Thou seest a present God-like power
Imprinted in each herb and flower:
And smell'st the breath of great-eyed kine,
Sweet as the blossoms of the vine.
Here thou behold'st thy large sleek neat
Unto the dew-laps up in meat:
And, as thou look'st, the wanton steer,
The heifer, cow, and ox draw near,
To make a pleasing pastime there.
These seen, thou go'st to view thy flocks
Of sheep, safe from the wolf and fox,
And find'st their bellies there as full
Of short sweet grass, as backs with wool:
And leav'st them, as they feed and fill,
A shepherd piping on a hill.
For sports, for pageantry, and plays,
Thou hast thy eves, and holydays:
On which the young men and maids meet,
To exercise their dancing feet:
Tripping the comely country Round,
With daffadils and daisies crown'd.
Thy wakes, thy quintels, here thou hast,
Thy May-poles too with garlands graced;
Thy Morris-dance; thy Whitsun-ale;
Thy shearing-feast, which never fail.
Thy harvest home; thy wassail bowl,
That's toss'd up after Fox i' th' hole:
Thy mummeries; thy Twelve-tide kings
And queens; thy Christmas revellings:
Thy nut-brown mirth, thy russet wit,
And no man pays too dear for it.
To these, thou hast thy times to go
And trace the hare i' th' treacherous snow:
Thy witty wiles to draw, and get
The lark into the trammel net:
Thou hast thy cockrood, and thy glade
To take the precious pheasant made:
Thy lime-twigs, snares, and pit-falls then
To catch the pilfering birds, not men.
--O happy life! if that their good
The husbandmen but understood!
Who all the day themselves do please,
And younglings, with such sports as these:
And lying down, have nought t' affright
Sweet Sleep, that makes more short the night.
Roger McGough |
Let me die a youngman's death
not a clean and inbetween
the sheets holywater death
not a famous-last-words
peaceful out of breath death
When I'm 73
and in constant good tumour
may I be mown down at dawn
by a bright red sports car
on my way home
from an allnight party
Or when I'm 91
with silver hair
and sitting in a barber's chair
may rival gangsters
with hamfisted tommyguns burst in
and give me a short back and insides
Or when I'm 104
and banned from the Cavern
may my mistress
catching me in bed with her daughter
and fearing for her son
cut me up into little pieces
and throw away every piece but one
Let me die a youngman's death
not a free from sin tiptoe in
candle wax and waning death
not a curtains drawn by angels borne
'what a nice way to go' death
Friedrich von Schiller |
Ye in the age gone by,
Who ruled the world--a world how lovely then!--
And guided still the steps of happy men
In the light leading-strings of careless joy!
Ah, flourished then your service of delight!
How different, oh, how different, in the day
When thy sweet fanes with many a wreath were bright,
O Venus Amathusia!
Then, through a veil of dreams
Woven by song, truth's youthful beauty glowed,
And life's redundant and rejoicing streams
Gave to the soulless, soul--where'r they flowed
Man gifted nature with divinity
To lift and link her to the breast of love;
All things betrayed to the initiate eye
The track of gods above!
Where lifeless--fixed afar,
A flaming ball to our dull sense is given,
Phoebus Apollo, in his golden car,
In silent glory swept the fields of heaven!
On yonder hill the Oread was adored,
In yonder tree the Dryad held her home;
And from her urn the gentle Naiad poured
The wavelet's silver foam.
Yon bay, chaste Daphne wreathed,
Yon stone was mournful Niobe's mute cell,
Low through yon sedges pastoral Syrinx breathed,
And through those groves wailed the sweet Philomel,
The tears of Ceres swelled in yonder rill--
Tears shed for Proserpine to Hades borne;
And, for her lost Adonis, yonder hill
Heard Cytherea mourn!--
Heaven's shapes were charmed unto
The mortal race of old Deucalion;
Pyrrha's fair daughter, humanly to woo,
Came down, in shepherd-guise, Latona's son
Between men, heroes, gods, harmonious then
Love wove sweet links and sympathies divine;
Blest Amathusia, heroes, gods, and men,
Equals before thy shrine!
Not to that culture gay,
Stern self-denial, or sharp penance wan!
Well might each heart be happy in that day--
For gods, the happy ones, were kin to man!
The beautiful alone the holy there!
No pleasure shamed the gods of that young race;
So that the chaste Camoenae favoring were,
And the subduing grace!
A palace every shrine;
Your sports heroic;--yours the crown
Of contests hallowed to a power divine,
As rushed the chariots thundering to renown.
Fair round the altar where the incense breathed,
Moved your melodious dance inspired; and fair
Above victorious brows, the garland wreathed
Sweet leaves round odorous hair!
The lively Thyrsus-swinger,
And the wild car the exulting panthers bore,
Announced the presence of the rapture-bringer--
Bounded the Satyr and blithe Faun before;
And Maenads, as the frenzy stung the soul,
Hymned in their maddening dance, the glorious wine--
As ever beckoned to the lusty bowl
The ruddy host divine!
Before the bed of death
No ghastly spectre stood--but from the porch
Of life, the lip--one kiss inhaled the breath,
And the mute graceful genius lowered a torch.
The judgment-balance of the realms below,
A judge, himself of mortal lineage, held;
The very furies at the Thracian's woe,
Were moved and music-spelled.
In the Elysian grove
The shades renewed the pleasures life held dear:
The faithful spouse rejoined remembered love,
And rushed along the meads the charioteer;
There Linus poured the old accustomed strain;
Admetus there Alcestis still could greet; his
Friend there once more Orestes could regain,
More glorious than the meeds
That in their strife with labor nerved the brave,
To the great doer of renowned deeds
The Hebe and the heaven the Thunderer gave.
Before the rescued rescuer  of the dead,
Bowed down the silent and immortal host;
And the twain stars  their guiding lustre shed,
On the bark tempest-tossed!
Art thou, fair world, no more?
Return, thou virgin-bloom on Nature's face;
Ah, only on the minstrel's magic shore,
Can we the footstep of sweet fable trace!
The meadows mourn for the old hallowing life;
Vainly we search the earth of gods bereft;
Where once the warm and living shapes were rife,
Shadows alone are left!
Cold, from the north, has gone
Over the flowers the blast that killed their May;
And, to enrich the worship of the one,
A universe of gods must pass away!
Mourning, I search on yonder starry steeps,
But thee no more, Selene, there I see!
And through the woods I call, and o'er the deeps,
And--Echo answers me!
Deaf to the joys she gives--
Blind to the pomp of which she is possessed--
Unconscious of the spiritual power that lives
Around, and rules her--by our bliss unblessed--
Dull to the art that colors or creates,
Like the dead timepiece, godless nature creeps
Her plodding round, and, by the leaden weights,
The slavish motion keeps.
To-morrow to receive
New life, she digs her proper grave to-day;
And icy moons with weary sameness weave
From their own light their fulness and decay.
Home to the poet's land the gods are flown,
Light use in them that later world discerns,
Which, the diviner leading-strings outgrown,
On its own axle turns.
Home! and with them are gone
The hues they gazed on and the tones they heard;
Life's beauty and life's melody:--alone
Broods o'er the desolate void, the lifeless word;
Yet rescued from time's deluge, still they throng
Unseen the Pindus they were wont to cherish:
All, that which gains immortal life in song,
To mortal life must perish!
Robert Frost |
There were three in the meadow by the brook
Gathering up windrows, piling cocks of hay,
With an eye always lifted toward the west
Where an irregular sun-bordered cloud
Darkly advanced with a perpetual dagger
Flickering across its bosom.
One helper, thrusting pitchfork in the ground,
Marched himself off the field and home.
The town-bred farmer failed to understand.
"What is there wrong?"
"Something you just now said.
"What did I say?"
"About our taking pains.
"To cock the hay?--because it's going to shower?
I said that more than half an hour ago.
I said it to myself as much as you.
"You didn't know.
But James is one big fool.
He thought you meant to find fault with his work.
That's what the average farmer would have meant.
James would take time, of course, to chew it over
Before he acted: he's just got round to act.
"He is a fool if that's the way he takes me.
"Don't let it bother you.
You've found out something.
The hand that knows his business won't be told
To do work better or faster--those two things.
I'm as particular as anyone:
Most likely I'd have served you just the same.
But I know you don't understand our ways.
You were just talking what was in your mind,
What was in all our minds, and you weren't hinting.
Tell you a story of what happened once:
I was up here in Salem at a man's
Named Sanders with a gang of four or five
Doing the haying.
No one liked the boss.
He was one of the kind sports call a spider,
All wiry arms and legs that spread out wavy
From a humped body nigh as big's a biscuit.
But work! that man could work, especially
If by so doing he could get more work
Out of his hired help.
I'm not denying
He was hard on himself.
I couldn't find
That he kept any hours--not for himself.
Daylight and lantern-light were one to him:
I've heard him pounding in the barn all night.
But what he liked was someone to encourage.
Them that he couldn't lead he'd get behind
And drive, the way you can, you know, in mowing--
Keep at their heels and threaten to mow their legs off.
I'd seen about enough of his bulling tricks
(We call that bulling).
I'd been watching him.
So when he paired off with me in the hayfield
To load the load, thinks I, Look out for trouble.
I built the load and topped it off; old Sanders
Combed it down with a rake and says, 'O.
Everything went well till we reached the barn
With a big catch to empty in a bay.
You understand that meant the easy job
For the man up on top of throwing down
The hay and rolling it off wholesale,
Where on a mow it would have been slow lifting.
You wouldn't think a fellow'd need much urging
Under these circumstances, would you now?
But the old fool seizes his fork in both hands,
And looking up bewhiskered out of the pit,
Shouts like an army captain, 'Let her come!'
Thinks I, D'ye mean it? 'What was that you said?'
I asked out loud, so's there'd be no mistake,
'Did you say, Let her come?' 'Yes, let her come.
He said it over, but he said it softer.
Never you say a thing like that to a man,
Not if he values what he is.
God, I'd as soon
Murdered him as left out his middle name.
I'd built the load and knew right where to find it.
Two or three forkfuls I picked lightly round for
Like meditating, and then I just dug in
And dumped the rackful on him in ten lots.
I looked over the side once in the dust
And caught sight of him treading-water-like,
Keeping his head above.
'Damn ye,' I says,
'That gets ye!' He squeaked like a squeezed rat.
That was the last I saw or heard of him.
I cleaned the rack and drove out to cool off.
As I sat mopping hayseed from my neck,
And sort of waiting to be asked about it,
One of the boys sings out, 'Where's the old man?'
'I left him in the barn under the hay.
If ye want him, ye can go and dig him out.
They realized from the way I swobbed my neck
More than was needed something must be up.
They headed for the barn; I stayed where I was.
They told me afterward.
First they forked hay,
A lot of it, out into the barn floor.
Nothing! They listened for him.
Not a rustle.
I guess they thought I'd spiked him in the temple
Before I buried him, or I couldn't have managed.
They excavated more.
'Go keep his wife
Out of the barn.
' Someone looked in a window,
And curse me if he wasn't in the kitchen
Slumped way down in a chair, with both his feet
Stuck in the oven, the hottest day that summer.
He looked so clean disgusted from behind
There was no one that dared to stir him up,
Or let him know that he was being looked at.
Apparently I hadn't buried him
(I may have knocked him down); but my just trying
To bury him had hurt his dignity.
He had gone to the house so's not to meet me.
He kept away from us all afternoon.
We tended to his hay.
We saw him out
After a while picking peas in his garden:
He couldn't keep away from doing something.
"Weren't you relieved to find he wasn't dead?"
"No! and yet I don't know--it's hard to say.
I went about to kill him fair enough.
"You took an awkward way.
Did he discharge you?"
"Discharge me? No! He knew I did just right.
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.
Philip Levine |
A good man is seized by the police
and spirited away.
someone brags that he shot him once
through the back of the head
with a Walther 7.
65, and his life
ended just there.
Those who loved
him go on searching the cafés
in the Barrio Chino or the bars
near the harbor.
A comrade swears
he saw him at a distance buying
two kilos of oranges in the market
of San José and called out, "Andrés,
Andrés," but instead of turning
to a man he'd known since child-
hood and opening his great arms
wide, he scurried off, the oranges
tumbling out of the damp sack, one
after another, a short bright trail
left on the sidewalk to say,
Farewell! Farewell to what? I ask.
I asked then and I ask now.
heard the story fifty years ago;
it became part of the mythology I
hauled with me from one graveyard
to another, this belief in the power
of my yearning.
The dead are every-
where, crowding the narrow streets
that jut out from the wide boulevard
on which we take our morning walk.
They stand in the cold shadows
of men and women come to sell
themselves to anyone, they stride
along beside me and stop when I
stop to admire the bright garlands
or the little pyramids of fruit,
they reach a hand out to give
money or to take change, they say
"Good morning" or "Thank you," they
turn with me and retrace my steps
back to the bare little room I've
come to call home.
they stand beside me staring out
over the soiled roofs of the world
until the light fades and we are
all one or no one.
They ask for
so little, a prayer now and then,
a toast to their health which is
our health, a few lies no one reads
incised on a dull plaque between
a pharmacy and a sports store,
the least little daily miracle.
Mary Darby Robinson |
A farmer's wife, both young and gay,
And fresh as op'ning buds of May;
Had taken to herself, a Spouse,
And plighted many solemn vows,
That she a faithful mate would prove,
In meekness, duty, and in love!
That she, despising joy and wealth,
Would be, in sickness and in health,
His only comfort and his Friend--
But, mark the sequel,--and attend!
This Farmer, as the tale is told--
Was somewhat cross, and somewhat old!
His, was the wintry hour of life,
While summer smiled before his wife;
A contrast, rather form'd to cloy
The zest of matrimonial joy!
'Twas Christmas time, the peasant throng
Assembled gay, with dance and Song:
The Farmer's Kitchen long had been
Of annual sports the busy scene;
The wood-fire blaz'd, the chimney wide
Presented seats, on either side;
Long rows of wooden Trenchers, clean,
Bedeck'd with holly-boughs, were seen;
The shining Tankard's foamy ale
Gave spirits to the Goblin tale,
And many a rosy cheek--grew pale.
It happen'd, that some sport to shew
The ceiling held a MISTLETOE.
A magic bough, and well design'd
To prove the coyest Maiden, kind.
A magic bough, which DRUIDS old
Its sacred mysteries enroll'd;
And which, or gossip Fame's a liar,
Still warms the soul with vivid fire;
Still promises a store of bliss
While bigots snatch their Idol's kiss.
This MISTLETOE was doom'd to be
The talisman of Destiny;
Beneath its ample boughs we're told
Full many a timid Swain grew bold;
Full many a roguish eye askance
Beheld it with impatient glance,
And many a ruddy cheek confest,
The triumphs of the beating breast;
And many a rustic rover sigh'd
Who ask'd the kiss, and was denied.
First MARG'RY smil'd and gave her Lover
A Kiss; then thank'd her stars, 'twas over!
Next, KATE, with a reluctant pace,
Was tempted to the mystic place;
Then SUE, a merry laughing jade
A dimpled yielding blush betray'd;
While JOAN her chastity to shew
Wish'd "the bold knaves would serve her so,"
She'd "teach the rogues such wanton play!"
And well she could, she knew the way.
The FARMER, mute with jealous care,
Sat sullen, in his wicker chair;
Hating the noisy gamesome host
Yet, fearful to resign his post;
He envied all their sportive strife
But most he watch'd his blooming wife,
And trembled, lest her steps should go,
Incautious, near the MISTLETOE.
Now HODGE, a youth of rustic grace
With form athletic; manly face;
On MISTRESS HOMESPUN turn'd his eye
And breath'd a soul-declaring sigh!
Old HOMESPUN, mark'd his list'ning Fair
And nestled in his wicker chair;
HODGE swore, she might his heart command--
The pipe was dropp'd from HOMESPUN'S hand!
HODGE prest her slender waist around;
The FARMER check'd his draught, and frown'd!
And now beneath the MISTLETOE
'Twas MISTRESS HOMESPUN'S turn to go;
Old Surly shook his wicker chair,
And sternly utter'd--"Let her dare!"
HODGE, to the FARMER'S wife declar'd
Such husbands never should be spar'd;
Swore, they deserv'd the worst disgrace,
That lights upon the wedded race;
And vow'd--that night he would not go
Unblest, beneath the MISTLETOE.
The merry group all recommend
An harmless Kiss, the strife to end:
"Why not ?" says MARG'RY, "who would fear,
"A dang'rous moment, once a year?"
SUSAN observ'd, that "ancient folks
"Were seldom pleas'd with youthful jokes;"
But KATE, who, till that fatal hour,
Had held, o'er HODGE, unrivall'd pow'r,
With curving lip and head aside
Look'd down and smil'd in conscious pride,
Then, anxious to conceal her care,
She humm'd--"what fools some women are!"
Now, MISTRESS HOMESPUN, sorely vex'd,
By pride and jealous rage perplex'd,
And angry, that her peevish spouse
Should doubt her matrimonial vows,
But, most of all, resolved to make
An envious rival's bosom ache;
Commanded Hodge to let her go,
Nor lead her to the Mistletoe;
"Why should you ask it o'er and o'er?"
Cried she, "we've been there twice before!"
'Tis thus, to check a rival's sway,
That Women oft themselves betray;
While VANITY, alone, pursuing,
They rashly prove, their own undoing.
Mary Darby Robinson |
Ah! wherefore by the Church-yard side,
Poor little LORN ONE, dost thou stray?
Thy wavy locks but thinly hide
The tears that dim thy blue-eye's ray;
And wherefore dost thou sigh, and moan,
And weep, that thou art left alone?
Thou art not left alone, poor boy,
The Trav'ller stops to hear thy tale;
No heart, so hard, would thee annoy!
For tho' thy mother's cheek is pale
And withers under yon grave stone,
Thou art not, Urchin, left alone.
I know thee well ! thy yellow hair
In silky waves I oft have seen;
Thy dimpled face, so fresh and fair,
Thy roguish smile, thy playful mien
Were all to me, poor Orphan, known,
Ere Fate had left thee--all alone!
Thy russet coat is scant, and torn,
Thy cheek is now grown deathly pale!
Thy eyes are dim, thy looks forlorn,
And bare thy bosom meets the gale;
And oft I hear thee deeply groan,
That thou, poor boy, art left alone.
Thy naked feet are wounded sore
With thorns, that cross thy daily road;
The winter winds around thee roar,
The church-yard is thy bleak abode;
Thy pillow now, a cold grave stone--
And there thou lov'st to grieve--alone!
The rain has drench'd thee, all night long;
The nipping frost thy bosom froze;
And still, the yewtree-shades among,
I heard thee sigh thy artless woes;
I heard thee, till the day-star shone
In darkness weep--and weep alone!
Oft have I seen thee, little boy,
Upon thy lovely mother's knee;
For when she liv'd--thou wert her joy,
Though now a mourner thou must be!
For she lies low, where yon grave-stone
Proclaims, that thou art left alone.
Weep, weep no more; on yonder hill
The village bells are ringing, gay;
The merry reed, and brawling rill
Call thee to rustic sports away.
Then wherefore weep, and sigh, and moan,
A truant from the throng--alone?
"I cannot the green hill ascend,
"I cannot pace the upland mead;
"I cannot in the vale attend,
"To hear the merry-sounding reed:
"For all is still, beneath yon stone,
"Where my poor mother's left alone!
"I cannot gather gaudy flowers
"To dress the scene of revels loud--
"I cannot pass the ev'ning hours
"Among the noisy village croud--
"For, all in darkness, and alone
"My mother sleeps, beneath yon stone.
"See how the stars begin to gleam
"The sheep-dog barks, 'tis time to go;--
"The night-fly hums, the moonlight beam
"Peeps through the yew-tree's shadowy row--
"It falls upon the white grave-stone,
"Where my dear mother sleeps alone.
"O stay me not, for I must go
"The upland path in haste to tread;
"For there the pale primroses grow
"They grow to dress my mother's bed.
"They must, ere peep of day, be strown,
"Where she lies mould'ring all alone.
"My father o'er the stormy sea
"To distant lands was borne away,
"And still my mother stay'd with me
"And wept by night and toil'd by day.
"And shall I ever quit the stone
"Where she is, left, to sleep alone.
"My father died; and still I found
"My mother fond and kind to me;
"I felt her breast with rapture bound
"When first I prattled on her knee--
"And then she blest my infant tone
"And little thought of yon grave-stone.
"No more her gentle voice I hear,
"No more her smile of fondness see;
"Then wonder not I shed the tear
"She would have DIED, to follow me!
"And yet she sleeps beneath yon stone
"And I STILL LIVE--to weep alone.
"The playful kid, she lov'd so well
"From yon high clift was seen to fall;
"I heard, afar, his tink'ling bell--
"Which seem'd in vain for aid to call--
"I heard the harmless suff'rer moan,
"And grieved that he was left alone.
"Our faithful dog grew mad, and died,
"The lightning smote our cottage low--
"We had no resting-place beside
"And knew not whither we should go,--
"For we were poor,--and hearts of stone
"Will never throb at mis'ry's groan.
"My mother still surviv'd for me,
"She led me to the mountain's brow,
"She watch'd me, while at yonder tree
"I sat, and wove the ozier bough;
"And oft she cried, "fear not, MINE OWN!
"Thou shalt not, BOY, be left ALONE.
"The blast blew strong, the torrent rose
"And bore our shatter'd cot away;
"And, where the clear brook swiftly flows--
"Upon the turf at dawn of day,
"When bright the sun's full lustre shone,
"I wander'd, FRIENDLESS--and ALONE!"
Thou art not, boy, for I have seen
Thy tiny footsteps print the dew,
And while the morning sky serene
Spread o'er the hill a yellow hue,
I heard thy sad and plaintive moan,
Beside the cold sepulchral stone.
And when the summer noontide hours
With scorching rays the landscape spread,
I mark'd thee, weaving fragrant flow'rs
To deck thy mother's silent bed!
Nor, at the church-yard's simple stone,
Wert, thou, poor Urchin, left alone.
I follow'd thee, along the dale
And up the woodland's shad'wy way:
I heard thee tell thy mournful tale
As slowly sunk the star of day:
Nor, when its twinkling light had flown,
Wert thou a wand'rer, all alone.
"O! yes, I was! and still shall be
"A wand'rer, mourning and forlorn;
"For what is all the world to me--
"What are the dews and buds of morn?
"Since she, who left me sad, alone
"In darkness sleeps, beneath yon stone!
"No brother's tear shall fall for me,
"For I no brother ever knew;
"No friend shall weep my destiny
"For friends are scarce, and tears are few;
"None do I see, save on this stone
"Where I will stay, and weep alone!
"My Father never will return,
"He rests beneath the sea-green wave;
"I have no kindred left, to mourn
"When I am hid in yonder grave!
"Not one ! to dress with flow'rs the stone;--
"Then--surely , I AM LEFT ALONE!"
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!
Anne Killigrew |
STay gentle Nymph, nor so solic'tous be,
To fly his sight that still would gaze on thee.
With other Swaines I see thee oft converse,
Content to speak, and hear what they rehearse:
But I unhappy, when I e're draw nigh,
Thou streight do'st leave both Place, and Company.
If this thy Flight, from fear of Harm doth flow,
Ah, sure thou little of my Heart dost know.
What wonder, Swain, if the Pursu'd by Flight,
Seeks to avoid the close Pursuers Sight ?
And if no Cause I have to fly from thee,
Then thou hast none, why thou dost follow me.
If to the Cause thou wilt propitious prove,
Take it at once, fair Nymph, and know 'tis Love.
To my just Pray'r, ye favouring Gods attend,
These Vows to Heaven with equal Zeal I send,
My flocks from Wolves, my Heart from Love, defend.
The Gods which did on thee such Charms bestow,
Ne're meant thou shouldst to Love have prov'd a Foe,
That so Divine a Power thou shouldst defy.
Could there a Reason be, I'd ask thee, why ?
Why does Licoris, once so bright and gay,
Pale as a Lilly pine her self away ?
Why does Elvira, ever sad, frequent
The lonely shades ? Why does yon Monument
Which we upon our Left Hand do behold,
Hapless Amintas youthful Limbs enfold ?
Say Shepherd, say: But if thou wilt not tell,
Damon, Philisides, and Strephon well
Can speak the Cause, whose Falshood each upbraids,
And justly me from Cruel Love disswades.
Hear me ye Gods.
Me and my Flocks forsake,
If e're like them my promis'd Faith I brake.
By others sad Experience wise I'le be.
But such thy Wisdom highly injures me:
And nought but Death can give a Remedy.
Yet Learn'd in Physick, what does it avail,
That you by Art (wherein ye never fail)
Present Relief have for the Mad-dogs Bite ?
The Serpents sting ? The poisonous Achonite ?
While helpless Love upbraids your baffl'd skill,
And far more certain, than the rest, doth kill.
Fond Swain, go dote upon the new blown Rose,
Whose Beauty with the Morning did disclose,
And e're Days King forsakes th'enlightened Earth,
Wither'd, returns from whence it took its Birth.
As much Excuse will there thy Love attend,
As what thou dost on Womens Beauty spend.
Ah Nymph, those Charms which I in thee admire,
Can, nor before, nor with thy Life expire.
From Heaven they are, and such as ne're can dye,
But with thy Soul they will ascend the Sky !
For though my ravisht Eye beholds in Thee,
Such beauty as I can in none else see;
That Nature there alone is without blame,
Yet did not this my faithful Heart enflame:
Nor when in Dance thou mov'st upon the Plaine,
Or other Sports pursu'st among the Train
Of choicest Nymphs, where thy attractive Grace
Shews thee alone, though thousands be in place !
Yet not for these do I Alinda love,
Hear then what 'tis, that does my Passion move.
That Thou still Earliest at the Temple art,
And still the last that does from thence depart;
Pans Altar is by thee the oftnest prest,
Thine's still the fairest Offering and the Best;
And all thy other Actions seem to be,
The true Result of Unfeign'd Piety;
Strict in thy self, to others Just and Mild;
Careful, nor to Deceive, nor be Beguil'd;
Wary, without the least Offence, to live,
Yet none than thee more ready to forgive !
Even on thy Beauty thou dost Fetters lay,
Least, unawares, it any should betray.
Far unlike, sure, to many of thy Sex,
Whose Pride it is, the doting World to vex;
Spreading their Universal Nets to take
Who e're their artifice can captive make.
But thou command'st thy Sweet, but Modest Eye,
That no Inviting Glance from thence should fly.
Beholding with a Gen'rous Disdain,
The lighter Courtships of each amorous Swain;
Knowing, true Fame, Vertue alone can give:
Nor dost thou greedily even that receive.
And what 'bove this thy Character can raise ?
Thirsty of Merit, yet neglecting Praise !
While daily these Perfections I discry,
Matchless Alinda makes me daily dy.
Thou absent, Flow'rs to me no Odours yield,
Nor find I freshness in the dewy Field;
Not Thyrsis Voice, nor Melibeus Lire,
Can my Sad Heart with one Gay Thought inspire;
My thriving Flock ('mong Shepherds Vows the Chief)
I unconcern'd behold, as they my Grief.
This I profess, if this thou not believe,
A further proof I ready am to give,
Command: there's nothing I'le not undertake,
And, thy Injunctions, Love will easie make.
Ah, if thou couldst incline a gentle Ear,
Of plighted Faith, and hated Hymen hear;
Thou hourly then my spotless Love should'st see,
That all my Study, how to please, should be;
How to protect thee from disturbing Care,
And in thy Griefs to bear the greatest share;
Nor should a Joy, my Warie Heart surprize,
That first I read not in thy charming Eyes.
If ever I to any do impart,
My, till this present hour, well-guarded Heart,
That Passion I have fear'd, I'le surely prove,
For one that does, like to Amintor love.
Ye Gods –
Shepherd, no more: enough it is that I,
Thus long to Love, have listn'd patiently.
Farewel: Pan keep thee, Swain.
And Blessings Thee,
Rare as thy Vertues, still accompany.