Duncan Campbell Scott |
Sun on the mountain,
Shade in the valley,
Ripple and lightness
Leaping along the world,
Sun, like a gold sword
Plucked from the scabbard,
Striking the wheat-fields,
Splendid and lusty,
Toppling with plenty;
Shade, like a buckler
Kindly and ample,
Sweeping the wheat-fields
Darkening and tossing;
There on the world-rim
Winds break and gather
Heaping the mist
For the pyre of the sunset;
And still as a shadow,
In the dim westward,
A cloud sloop of amethyst
Moored to the world
With cables of rain.
Acres of gold wheat
Stir in the sunshine,
Rounding the hill-top,
Crested with plenty,
Filling the valley,
Brimmed with abundance,
Wind in the wheat-field
Eddying and settling,
Swaying it, sweeping it,
Lifting the rich heads,
Tossing them soothingly
Twinkle and shimmer
The lights and the shadowings,
Nimble as moonlight
Astir in the mere.
Laden with odors
Of peace and of plenty,
Soft comes the wind
From the ranks of the wheat-field,
Bearing a promise
Of harvest and sickle-time,
Dusty and dim
With the whirl of the flail,
And wagons of bread,
Sown-laden and lumbering
Through the gateways of cities.
When will the reapers
Strike in their sickles,
Bending and grasping,
Shearing and spreading;
When will the gleaners
Searching the stubble
Take the last wheat-heads
Home in their arms ?
Ask not the question! -
Moves to the answer.
Hunger and poverty
Heaped like the ocean
Welters and mutters,
Hold back the sickles!
Millions of children
Born to their mothers' womb,
Starved at the nipple, cry,--
Ours is the harvest!
Millions of women
Learned in the tragical
Secrets of poverty,
Sweated and beaten, cry,--
Hold back the sickles!
Millions of men
With a vestige of manhood,
Wild-eyed and gaunt-throated,
Shout with a leonine
Accent of anger,
Leaves us the wheat-fields!
When will the reapers
Strike in their sickles?
Ask not the question;
Moves to the answer.
Long have they sharpened
Their fiery, impetuous
Sickles of carnage,
Welded them aeons
Ago in the mountains
Of suffering and anguish;
Hearts were their hammers
Blood was their fire,
Sorrow their anvil,
(Trusty the sickle
Tempered with tears;)
Time they had plenty-
Harvests and harvests
Passed them in agony,
Only a half-filled
Ear for their lot;
Man that has taken
God for a master
Made him a law,
Mocked him and cursed him,
Set up this hunger,
Called it necessity,
Put in the blameless mouth
The poor ye have with you
But up from the impotent
Anguish of children,
Up from the labor
Of millions of mothers,
Grew by a just law
Stern and implacable,
Art born of poverty,
The making of sickles
Meet for the harvest.
And now to the wheat-fields
Come the weird reapers
Armed with their sickles,
Whipping them keenly
In the fresh-air fields,
Wild with the joy of them,
Finding them trusty,
Hilted with teen.
Swarming like ants,
The Idea for captain,
No banners, no bugles,
Only a terrible
Ground-bass of gathering
Tempest and fury,
Only a tossing
Of arms and of garments;
Sexless and featureless,
(Only the children
Different among them,
Crawling between their feet,
Borne on their shoulders;)
Rolling their shaggy heads
Wild with the unheard-of
Drug of the sunshine;
Tears that had eaten
The half of their eyelids
Dry on their cheeks;
Blood in their stiffened hair
Clouted and darkened;
Down in their cavern hearts
Hunger the tiger,
Sighs that had choked them
Burst into triumphing;
On they come, Victory!
Up to the wheat-fields,
Dreamed of in visions
Bred by the hunger,
Seen for the first time
Splendid and golden;
On they come fluctuant,
Seething and breaking,
Weltering like fire
In the pit of the earthquake,
Bursting in heaps
With the sudden intractable
Lust of the hunger:
Then when they see them-
The miles of the harvest
White in the sunshine,
Rushing and stumbling,
With the mighty and clamorous
Cry of a people
Starved from creation,
Hurl themselves onward,
Deep in the wheat-fields,
Weeping like children,
After ages and ages,
Back at the mother the earth.
Night in the valley,
Gloom on the mountain,
Wind in the wheat,
Far to the southward
The flutter of lightning,
The shudder of thunder;
But high at the zenith,
A cluster of stars
Glimmers and throbs
In the gasp of the midnight,
Steady and absolute,
Ancient and sure
Howard Nemerov |
He didn't want to do it with skill,
He'd had enough of skill.
If he never saw
Another villanelle, it would be too soon;
And the same went for sonnets.
If it had been
Hard work learning to rime, it would be much
Harder learning not to.
The time came
He had to ask himself, what did he want?
What did he want when he began
That idiot fiddling with the sounds of things.
He asked himself, poor moron, because he had
Nobody else to ask.
The others went right on
Talking about form, talking about myth
And the (so help us) need for a modern idiom;
The verseballs among them kept counting syllables.
So there he was, this forty-year-old teen-ager
Dreaming preposterous mergers and divisions
Of vowels like water, consonants like rock
(While everybody kept discussing values
And the need for values), for words that would
Enter the silence and be there as a light.
So much coffee and so many cigarettes
Gone down the drain, gone up in smoke,
Just for the sake of getting something right
Once in a while, something that could stand
On its own flat feet to keep out windy time
And the worm, something that might simply be,
Not as the monument in the smoky rain
Grimly endures, but that would be
Only a moment's inviolable presence,
The moment before disaster, before the storm,
In its peculiar silence, an integer
Fixed in the middle of the fall of things,
Perfected and casual as to a child's eye
Soap bubbles are, and skipping stones.
Bob Kaufman |
On yardbird corners of embryonic hopes, drowned in a heroin tear.
On yardbird corners of parkerflights to sound filled pockets in space.
On neuro-corners of striped brains & desperate electro-surgeons.
On alcohol corners of pointless discussion & historical hangovers.
On television corners of cornflakes & rockwells impotent America.
On university corners of tailored intellect & greek letter openers.
On military corners of megathon deaths & universal anesthesia.
On religious corners of theological limericks and
On radio corners of century-long records & static events.
On advertising corners of filter-tipped ice-cream & instant instants
On teen-age corners of comic book seduction and corrupted guitars,
On political corners of wamted candidates & ritual lies.
On motion picture corners of lassie & other symbols.
On intellectual corners of conversational therapy & analyzed fear.
On newspaper corners of sexy headlines & scholarly comics.
On love divided corners of die now pay later mortuaries.
On philosophical corners of semantic desperadoes & idea-mongers.
On middle class corners of private school puberty & anatomical revolts
On ultra-real corners of love on abandoned roller-coasters
On lonely poet corners of low lying leaves & moist prophet eyes.
Anne Sexton |
Jean, death comes close to us all,
flapping its awful wings at us
and the gluey wings crawl up our nose.
Our children tremble in their teen-age cribs,
whirling off on a thumb or a motorcycle,
mine pushed into gnawing a stilbestrol cancer
I passed on like hemophilia,
or yours in the seventh grade, with her spleen
smacked in by the balance beam.
And we, mothers, crumpled, and flyspotted
with bringing them this far
can do nothing now but pray.
Let us put your three children
and my two children,
ages ranging from eleven to twenty-one,
and send them in a large air net up to God,
with many stamps, real air mail,
and huge signs attached:
DO NOT STAPLE, FOLD OR MUTILATE!
And perhaps He will notice
and pass a psalm over them
for keeping safe for a whole,
for a whole God-damned life-span.
And not even a muddled angel will
peek down at us in our foxhole.
And He will not have time
to send down an eyedropper of prayer for us,
the mothering thing of us,
as we drip into the soup
in the worry festering inside us,
lest our children
go so fast
Rudyard Kipling |
"You must choose between me and your cigar.
-- BREACH OF PROMISE CASE, CIRCA 1885.
Open the old cigar-box, get me a Cuba stout,
For things are running crossways, and Maggie and I are out.
We quarrelled about Havanas -- we fought o'er a good cheroot,
And I knew she is exacting, and she says I am a brute.
Open the old cigar-box -- let me consider a space;
In the soft blue veil of the vapour musing on Maggie's face.
Maggie is pretty to look at -- Maggie's a loving lass,
But the prettiest cheeks must wrinkle, the truest of loves must pass.
There's peace in a Larranaga, there's calm in a Henry Clay;
But the best cigar in an hour is finished and thrown away --
Thrown away for another as perfect and ripe and brown --
But I could not throw away Maggie for fear o' the talk o' the town!
Maggie, my wife at fifty -- grey and dour and old --
With never another Maggie to purchase for love or gold!
And the light of Days that have Been the dark of the Days that Are,
And Love's torch stinking and stale, like the butt of a dead cigar --
The butt of a dead cigar you are bound to keep in your pocket --
With never a new one to light tho' it's charred and black to the socket!
Open the old cigar-box -- let me consider a while.
Here is a mild Manila -- there is a wifely smile.
Which is the better portion -- bondage bought with a ring,
Or a harem of dusky beauties, fifty tied in a string?
Counsellors cunning and silent -- comforters true and tried,
And never a one of the fifty to sneer at a rival bride?
Thought in the early morning, solace in time of woes,
Peace in the hush of the twilight, balm ere my eyelids close,
This will the fifty give me, asking nought in return,
With only a Suttee's passion -- to do their duty and burn.
This will the fifty give me.
When they are spent and dead,
Five times other fifties shall be my servants instead.
The furrows of far-off Java, the isles of the Spanish Main,
When they hear my harem is empty will send me my brides again.
I will take no heed to their raiment, nor food for their mouths withal,
So long as the gulls are nesting, so long as the showers fall.
I will scent 'em with best vanilla, with tea will I temper their hides,
And the Moor and the Mormon shall envy who read of the tale of my brides.
For Maggie has written a letter to give me my choice between
The wee little whimpering Love and the great god Nick o' Teen.
And I have been servant of Love for barely a twelvemonth clear,
But I have been Priest of Cabanas a matter of seven year;
And the gloom of my bachelor days is flecked with the cheery light
Of stums that I burned to Friendship and Pleasure and Work and Fight.
And I turn my eyes to the future that Maggie and I must prove,
But the only light on the marshes is the Will-o'-the-Wisp of Love.
Will it see me safe through my journey or leave me bogged in the mire?
Since a puff of tobacco can cloud it, shall I follow the fitful fire?
Open the old cigar-box -- let me consider anew --
Old friends, and who is Maggie that I should abandon you?
A million surplus Maggies are willing to bear the yoke;
And a woman is only a woman, but a good Cigar is a Smoke.
Light me another Cuba -- I hold to my first-sworn vows.
If Maggie will have no rival, I'll have no Maggie for Spouse!
Thomas Hardy |
"Soul! Shall I see thy face," she said,
"In one brief hour?
And away with thee from a loveless bed
To a far-off sun, to a vine-wrapt bower,
And be thine own unseparated,
And challenge the world's white glower?
She quickened her feet, and met him where
They had predesigned:
And they clasped, and mounted, and cleft the air
Upon whirling wheels; till the will to bind
Her life with his made the moments there
Efface the years behind.
Miles slid, and the sight of the port upgrew
As they sped on;
When slipping its bond the bracelet flew
From her fondled arm.
Its cameo of the abjured one drew
Her musings thereupon.
The gaud with his image once had been
A gift from him:
And so it was that its carving keen
Refurbished memories wearing dim,
Which set in her soul a throe of teen,
And a tear on her lashes' brim.
"I may not go!" she at length upspake,
"Thoughts call me back -
I would still lose all for your dear, dear sake;
My heart is thine, friend! But my track
I home to Athelhall must take
To hinder household wrack!"
But they parted, weak and wan:
And he left the shore;
His ship diminished, was low, was gone;
And she heard in the waves as the daytide wore,
And read in the leer of the sun that shone,
That they parted for evermore.
She homed as she came, at the dip of eve
On Athel Coomb
Regaining the Hall she had sworn to leave .
The house was soundless as a tomb,
And she entered her chamber, there to grieve
Lone, kneeling, in the gloom.
From the lawn without rose her husband's voice
To one his friend:
"Another her Love, another my choice,
Her going is good.
Our conditions mend;
In a change of mates we shall both rejoice;
I hoped that it thus might end!
"A quick divorce; she will make him hers,
And I wed mine.
So Time rights all things in long, long years -
Or rather she, by her bold design!
I admire a woman no balk deters:
She has blessed my life, in fine.
"I shall build new rooms for my new true bride,
Let the bygone be:
By now, no doubt, she has crossed the tide
With the man to her mind.
Far happier she
In some warm vineland by his side
Than ever she was with me.
Robert Burns |
MY lord, I know your noble ear
Woe ne’er assails in vain;
Embolden’d thus, I beg you’ll hear
Your humble slave complain,
How saucy Phoebus’ scorching beams,
In flaming summer-pride,
Dry-withering, waste my foamy streams,
And drink my crystal tide.
The lightly-jumping, glowrin’ trouts,
That thro’ my waters play,
If, in their random, wanton spouts,
They near the margin stray;
If, hapless chance! they linger lang,
I’m scorching up so shallow,
They’re left the whitening stanes amang,
In gasping death to wallow.
Last day I grat wi’ spite and teen,
As poet Burns came by.
That, to a bard, I should be seen
Wi’ half my channel dry;
A panegyric rhyme, I ween,
Ev’n as I was, he shor’d me;
But had I in my glory been,
He, kneeling, wad ador’d me.
Here, foaming down the skelvy rocks,
In twisting strength I rin;
There, high my boiling torrent smokes,
Wild-roaring o’er a linn:
Enjoying each large spring and well,
As Nature gave them me,
I am, altho’ I say’t mysel’,
Worth gaun a mile to see.
Would then my noble master please
To grant my highest wishes,
He’ll shade my banks wi’ tow’ring trees,
And bonie spreading bushes.
Delighted doubly then, my lord,
You’ll wander on my banks,
And listen mony a grateful bird
Return you tuneful thanks.
The sober lav’rock, warbling wild,
Shall to the skies aspire;
The gowdspink, Music’s gayest child,
Shall sweetly join the choir;
The blackbird strong, the lintwhite clear,
The mavis mild and mellow;
The robin pensive Autumn cheer,
In all her locks of yellow.
This, too, a covert shall ensure,
To shield them from the storm;
And coward maukin sleep secure,
Low in her grassy form:
Here shall the shepherd make his seat,
To weave his crown of flow’rs;
Or find a shelt’ring, safe retreat,
From prone-descending show’rs.
And here, by sweet, endearing stealth,
Shall meet the loving pair,
Despising worlds, with all their wealth,
As empty idle care;
The flow’rs shall vie in all their charms,
The hour of heav’n to grace;
And birks extend their fragrant arms
To screen the dear embrace.
Here haply too, at vernal dawn,
Some musing bard may stray,
And eye the smoking, dewy lawn,
And misty mountain grey;
Or, by the reaper’s nightly beam,
Mild-chequering thro’ the trees,
Rave to my darkly dashing stream,
Hoarse-swelling on the breeze.
Let lofty firs, and ashes cool,
My lowly banks o’erspread,
And view, deep-bending in the pool,
Their shadow’s wat’ry bed:
Let fragrant birks, in woodbines drest,
My craggy cliffs adorn;
And, for the little songster’s nest,
The close embow’ring thorn.
So may old Scotia’s darling hope,
Your little angel band
Spring, like their fathers, up to prop
Their honour’d native land!
So may, thro’ Albion’s farthest ken,
To social-flowing glasses,
The grace be—“Athole’s honest men,
And Athole’s bonie lasses!”
Bruar Falls, in Athole, are exceedingly picturesque and beautiful; but their effect is much impaired by the want of trees and shrubs.