Sylvia Plath | |
I have done it again.
One year in every ten
I manage it_____
A sort of walking miracle, my skin
Bright as a Nazi lampshade,
My right foot
My face featureless, fine
Peel off the napkin
O my enemy.
Do I terrify?-------
The nose, the eye pits, the full set of teeth?
The sour breath
Will vanish in a day.
Soon, soon the flesh
The grave cave ate will be
At home on me
And I a smiling woman.
I am only thirty.
And like the cat I have nine times to die.
This is Number Three.
What a trash
To annihilate each decade.
What a million filaments.
The Peanut-crunching crowd
Shoves in to see
Them unwrap me hand in foot ------
The big strip tease.
Gentleman , ladies
These are my hands
I may be skin and bone,
Nevertheless, I am the same, identical woman.
The first time it happened I was ten.
It was an accident.
The second time I meant
To last it out and not come back at all.
I rocked shut
As a seashell.
They had to call and call
And pick the worms off me like sticky pearls.
Is an art, like everything else.
I do it exceptionally well.
I do it so it feels like hell.
I do it so it feels real.
I guess you could say I've a call.
It's easy enough to do it in a cell.
It's easy enough to do it and stay put.
It's the theatrical
Comeback in broad day
To the same place, the same face, the same brute
That knocks me out.
There is a charge
For the eyeing my scars, there is a charge
For the hearing of my heart---
It really goes.
And there is a charge, a very large charge
For a word or a touch
Or a bit of blood
Or a piece of my hair on my clothes.
So, so, Herr Doktor.
So, Herr Enemy.
I am your opus,
I am your valuable,
The pure gold baby
That melts to a shriek.
I turn and burn.
Do not think I underestimate your great concern.
You poke and stir.
Flesh, bone, there is nothing there----
A cake of soap,
A wedding ring,
A gold filling.
Herr God, Herr Lucifer
Out of the ash
I rise with my red hair
And I eat men like air.
William Cullen Bryant | |
Matron! the children of whose love,
Each to his grave, in youth have passed,
And now the mould is heaped above
The dearest and the last!
Bride! who dost wear the widow's veil
Before the wedding flowers are pale!
Ye deem the human heart endures
No deeper, bitterer grief than yours.
Yet there are pangs of keener wo,
Of which the sufferers never speak,
Nor to the world's cold pity show
The tears that scald the cheek,
Wrung from their eyelids by the shame
And guilt of those they shrink to name,
Whom once they loved, with cheerful will,
And love, though fallen and branded, still.
Weep, ye who sorrow for the dead,
Thus breaking hearts their pain relieve;
And graceful are the tears ye shed,
And honoured ye who grieve.
The praise of those who sleep in earth,
The pleasant memory of their worth,
The hope to meet when life is past,
Shall heal the tortured mind at last.
But ye, who for the living lost
That agony in secret bear,
Who shall with soothing words accost
The strength of your despair?
Grief for your sake is scorn for them
Whom ye lament and all condemn;
And o'er the world of spirits lies
A gloom from which ye turn your eyes.
Alec Derwent (A D) Hope | |
Crossing the frontier they were stopped in time,
Told, quite politely, they would have to wait:
Passports in order, nothing to declare
And surely holding hands was not a crime
Until they saw how, ranged across the gate,
All their most formidable friends were there.
Wearing his conscience like a crucifix,
Her father, rampant, nursed the Family Shame;
And, armed wlth their old-fashioned dinner-gong,
His aunt, who even when they both were six,
Had just to glance towards a childish game
To make them feel that they were doing wrong.
And both their mothers, simply weeping floods,
Her head-mistress, his boss, the parish priest,
And the bank manager who cashed their cheques;
The man who sold him his first rubber-goods;
Dog Fido, from whose love-life, shameless beast,
She first observed the basic facts of sex.
They looked as though they had stood there for hours;
For years - perhaps for ever.
In the trees
Two furtive birds stopped courting and flew off;
While in the grass beside the road the flowers
Kept up their guilty traffic with the bees.
Nobody risked a cough.
The minutes ticked away;
The dog scratched idly.
Then, as parson bent
And whispered to a guard who hurried in,
The customs-house loudspeakers with a bray
Of raucous and triumphant argument
Broke out the wedding march from Lohengrin.
He switched the engine off: "We must turn back.
She heard his voice break, though he had to shout
Against a din that made their senses reel,
And felt his hand, so tense in hers, go slack.
But suddenly she laughed and said: "Get out!
Change seatsl Be quickl" and slid behind the wheel.
And drove the car straight at them with a harsh,
Dry crunch that showered both with scraps and chips,
Drove through them; barriers rising let them pass
Drove through and on and on, with Dad's moustache
Beside her twitching still round waxen lips
And Mother's tears still streaming down the glass.
More great poems below...
Mark Van Doren | |
I wake and hearing it raining.
Were I dead, what would I give
Lazily to lie here,
Like this, and live?
Or better yet: birdsong,
Brightening and spreading --
How far would I come then
To be at the world's wedding?
Now that I lie, though,
(Oh, but not forever,
Oh, end arriving)
How shall I praise them:
All the sweet beings
Eternally that outlive
Me and my dying?
Mountains, I mean; wind, water, air;
Grass, and huge trees; clouds, flowers,
And thunder, and night.
Turtles, I mean, and toads; hawks, herons, owls;
Graveyards, and towns, and trout; roads, gardens,
Red berries, and deer.
Lightning, I mean, and eagles; fences; snow;
Sunrise, and ferns; waterfalls, serpents,
Green islands, and sleep.
Horses, I mean; butterflies, whales;
Mosses, and stars and gravelly
Rivers, and fruit.
Oceans, I mean; black valleys; corn;
Brambles, and cliffs; rock, dirt, dust, ice;
And warnings of flood.
How shall I name them?
And in what order?
Each would be first.
Omission is murder.
Maidens, I mean, and apples; needles; leaves;
Worms, and planers, and clover; whirlwinds; dew;
Bulls; geese --
You will never be done.
Leave them all there.
Burnie bee, burnie bee,
Tell me when your wedding be?
If it be to-morrow day,
Take your wings and fly away.
Robert Penn Warren | |
In silence the heart raves.
It utters words
Meaningless, that never had
I was ten, skinny, red-headed,
In a big black Buick,
Driven by a big grown boy, with a necktie, she sat
In front of the drugstore, sipping something
Through a straw.
There is nothing like
It stops your heart.
Thickens your blood.
It stops your breath.
Makes you feel dirty.
You need a hot bath.
I leaned against a telephone pole, and watched.
I thought I would die if she saw me.
How could I exist in the same world with that brightness?
Two years later she smiled at me.
Named my name.
I thought I would wake up dead.
Her grown brothers walked with the bent-knee
Swagger of horsemen.
They were slick-faced.
Told jokes in the barbershop.
Did no work.
Their father was what is called a drunkard.
Whatever he was he stayed on the third floor
Of the big white farmhouse under the maples for twenty-five years.
He never came down.
They brought everything up to him.
I did not know what a mortgage was.
His wife was a good, Christian woman, and prayed.
When the daughter got married, the old man came down wearing
An old tail coat, the pleated shirt yellowing.
The sons propped him.
I saw the wedding.
Engraved invitations, it was so fashionable.
I would cry.
I lay in bed that night
And wondered if she would cry when something was done to her.
The mortgage was foreclosed.
That last word was whispered.
She never came back.
Sort of drifted off.
Nobody wears shiny boots like that now.
But I know she is beautiful forever, and lives
In a beautiful house, far away.
She called my name once.
I didn't even know she knew it.
Carol Ann Duffy | |
Not a red rose or a satin heart.
I give you an onion.
It is a moon wrapped in brown paper.
It promises light
like the careful undressing of love.
It will blind you with tears
like a lover.
It will make your reflection
a wobbling photo of grief.
I am trying to be truthful.
Not a cute card or a kissogram.
I give you an onion.
Its fierce kiss will stay on your lips,
possessive and faithful
as we are,
for as long as we are.
Its platinum loops shrink to a wedding-ring,
if you like.
Its scent will cling to your fingers,
cling to your knife.
Maria Mazziotti Gillan | |
I watch you walk up our front path,
the entire right side of your body,
stiff and unbending, your leg,
dragging on the ground,
your arm not moving.
Six different times you ask me
the date of our daughter's wedding,
seem surprised each time,
forget who called, though you can name
obscure desert animals,
and every detail of events
that took place in 3 B.
You complain now of pain
in your muscles, of swimming at the Y
where a 76 year old man tells you
you swim too slowly.
I imagine a world in which
you cannot move.
Most days, I force myself to look
only into the past;
remember you, singing
and playing your guitar: "Black,
black is the color of my true love's hair,"
you sang, and each time you came into a room
how my love for you caught in my throat,
how handsome you were, how strong
and muscular, how the sun
lit your blond hair.
Now I pretend not to notice
the trouble you have buttoning
your shirt, and yes, I am terrified
and no, I cannot tell you.
The future is a murky lake.
I am afraid of the monsters
who wait just below its surface.
Even in our mahogany bed, I am not safe.
Each day, I swim toward
everything I didn't want to know.
Copyright © 1997 by Maria Mazziotti Gillan, all rights reserved.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe | |
WITH a bridegroom's joyous bearing,
Mounts Sir Curt his noble beast,
To his mistress' home repairing,
There to hold his wedding feast;
When a threatening foe advances
From a desert, rocky spot;
For the fray they couch their lances,
Not delaying, speaking not.
Long the doubtful fight continues,
Victory then for Curt declares;
Conqueror, though with wearied sinews,
Forward on his road he fares.
When he sees, though strange it may be,
Something 'midst the foliage move;
'Tis a mother, with her baby,
Stealing softly through the grove!
And upon the spot she beckons--
"Wherefore, love, this speed so wild?
Of the wealth thy storehouse reckons,
Hast thou nought to give thy child!"
Flames of rapture now dart through him,
And he longs for nothing more,
While the mother seemeth to him
Lovely as the maid of yore.
But he hears his servants blowing,
And bethinks him of his bride;
And ere long, while onward going,
Chances past a fair to ride;
In the booths he forthwith buys him
For his mistress many a pledge;
But, alas! some Jews surprise him,
And long-standing debts allege.
And the courts of justice duly
Send the knight to prison straight.
Oh accursed story, truly!
For a hero, what a fate!
Can my patience such things weather?
Great is my perplexity.
Women, debts, and foes together,--
Ah, no knight escapes scot free!
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe | |
WITHIN the chamber, far away
From the glad feast, sits Love in dread
Lest guests disturb, in wanton play,
The silence of the bridal bed.
His torch's pale flame serves to gild
The scene with mystic sacred glow;
The room with incense-clouds is fil'd,
That ye may perfect rapture know.
How beats thy heart, when thou dost hear
The chime that warns thy guests to fly!
How glow'st thou for those lips so dear,
That soon are mute, and nought deny!
With her into the holy place
Thou hast'nest then, to perfect all;
The fire the warder's hands embrace,
Grows, like a night-light, dim and small.
How heaves her bosom, and how burns
Her face at every fervent kiss!
Her coldness now to trembling turns,
Thy daring now a duty is.
Love helps thee to undress her fast,
But thou art twice as fast as he;
And then he shuts both eye at last,
With sly and roguish modesty.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe | |
A FEAST was in a village spread,--
It was a wedding-day, they said.
The parlour of the inn I found,
And saw the couples whirling round,
Each lass attended by her lad,
And all seem'd loving, blithe, and glad;
But on my asking for the bride,
A fellow with a stare, replied:
"'Tis not the place that point to raise!
We're only dancing in her honour;
We now have danced three nights and days,
And not bestowed one thought upon her.
* * * *
Whoe'er in life employs his eyes
Such cases oft will recognise.
A E Housman | |
In summertime on Bredon
The bells they sound so clear;
Round both the shires they ring them
In steeples far and near,
A happy noise to hear.
Here of a Sunday morning
My love and I would lie,
And see the coloured counties,
And hear the larks so high
About us in the sky.
The bells would ring to call her
In valleys miles away:
'Come all to church, good people;
Good people, come and pray.
But here my love would stay.
And I would turn and answer
Among the springing thyme,
'Oh, peal upon our wedding,
And we will hear the chime,
And come to church in time.
But when the snows at Christmas
On Bredon top were strewn,
My love rose up so early
And stole out unbeknown
And went to church alone.
They tolled the one bell only,
Groom there was none to see,
The mourners followed after,
And so to church went she,
And would not wait for me.
The bells they sound on Bredon,
And still the steeples hum.
'Come all to church, good people,' -
Oh, noisy bells, be dumb;
I hear you, I will come.
Ellis Parker Butler | |
Said Statesman A to Statesman Z:
“What can we tax that is not paying?
We’re taxing every blessed thing—
Here’s what our people are defraying:
“Tariff tax, income tax,
Tax on retail sales,
Club tax, school tax,
Tax on beers and ales,
“City tax, county tax,
Tax on obligations,
Tax on corporations,
“Brewer tax, sewer tax,
Tax on motor cars,
Bond tax, stock tax,
Tax on liquor bars,
“Bridge tax, check tax,
Tax on drugs and pills,
Gas tax, ticket tax,
Tax on gifts in wills,
“Poll tax, dog tax,
Tax on money loaned,
State tax, road tax,
Tax on all things owned,
“Stamp tax, land tax,
Tax on wedding ring,
High tax, low tax,
Tax on everything!”
Said Statesman A to Statesman Z:
“That is the list, a pretty bevy;
No thing or act that is untaxed;
There’s nothing more on which to levy.
Said Statesman Z to Statesman A:
“The deficit each moment waxes;
This is no time for us to fail—
We will decree a tax on taxes.
Ellis Parker Butler | |
When young, in tones quite positive
I said, "The world shall see
That I can keep myself from sin;
A good man I will be.
But when I loved Miss Kate St.
'Twas thus my musing ran:
"I cannot be compared with her;
I'll be a better man.
'Twas at the wedding of a friend
(He married Kate St.
That I became superlative,
For I was "best man" there.
Gerard Manley Hopkins | |
God with honour hang your head,
Groom, and grace you, bride, your bed
With lissome scions, sweet scions,
Out of hallowed bodies bred.
Each be other's comfort kind:
Déep, déeper than divined,
Divine charity, dear charity,
Fast you ever, fast bind.
Then let the March tread our ears:
I to him turn with tears
Who to wedlock, his wonder wedlock,
Déals tríumph and immortal years.