Walt Whitman | |
I hear America singing, the varied carols I hear,
Those of mechanics, each one singing his as it should be blithe and strong,
The carpenter singing his as he measures his plank or beam,
The mason singing his as he makes ready for work, or leaves off work,
The boatman singing what belongs to him in his boat, the deckhand
singing on the steamboat deck,
The shoemaker singing as he sits on his bench, the hatter singing as he stands,
The wood-cutter's song, the ploughboy's on his way in the morning, or
at noon intermission or at sundown,
The delicious singing of the mother, or of the young wife at work, or of
the girl sewing or washing,
Each singing what belongs to him or her and to none else,
The day what belongs to the day--at night the party of young fellows,
Singing with open mouths their strong melodious songs.
Edgar Lee Masters | |
I went up and down the streets
Here and there by day and night,
Through all hours of the night caring for the poor who were sick.
Do you know why?
My wife hated me, my son went to the dogs.
And I turned to the people and poured out my love to them.
Sweet it was to see the crowds about the lawns on the day of my funeral,
And hear them murmur their love and sorrow.
But oh, dear God, my soul trembled, scarcely able
To hold to the railing of the new life
When I saw Em Stanton behind the oak tree
At the grave,
Hiding herself, and her grief!
Anna Akhmatova | |
Holy Lot was a-going behind God's angel,
He seemed huge and bright on a hill, huge and black.
But the heart of his wife whispered stronger and stranger:
"It's not very late, you have time to look back
At these rose turrets of your native Sodom,
The square where you sang, and the yard where you span,
The windows looking from your cozy home
Where you bore children for your dear man.
She looked -- and her eyes were instantly bound
By pain -- they couldn't see any more at all:
Her fleet feet grew into the stony ground,
Her body turned into a pillar of salt.
Who'll mourn her as one of Lot's family members?
Doesn't she seem the smallest of losses to us?
But deep in my heart I will always remember
One who gave her life up for one single glance.
More great poems below...
Edward Estlin (E E) Cummings | |
proud of his scientific attitude
and liked the prince of wales wife wants to die
but the doctors won't let her comman considers fr
whom he pronounces young mistaken and
cradles in rubbery one somewhat hand
the paper destinies of nations sic
item a bounceless period unshy
the empty house is full O Yes of guk
rooms daughter item son a woopsing queer
colon hobby photography never has plumbed
the heights of prowst but respects artists if
they are sincere proud of his scientif
ic attitude and liked the king of)hear
ye!the godless are the dull and the dull are the
William Cullen Bryant | |
STAND here by my side and turn, I pray,
On the lake below thy gentle eyes;
The clouds hang over it, heavy and gray,
And dark and silent the water lies;
And out of that frozen mist the snow 5
In wavering flakes begins to flow;
Flake after flake
They sink in the dark and silent lake.
See how in a living swarm they come
From the chambers beyond that misty veil; 10
Some hover awhile in air, and some
Rush prone from the sky like summer hail.
All, dropping swiftly or settling slow,
Meet and are still in the depths below;
Flake after flake 15
Dissolved in the dark and silent lake.
Here delicate snow-stars, out of the cloud,
Come floating downward in airy play,
Like spangles dropped from the glistening crowd
That whiten by night the milky-way; 20
There broader and burlier masses fall;
The sullen water buries them all¡ª
Flake after flake
All drowned in the dark and silent lake.
And some, as on tender wings they glide 25
From their chilly birth-cloud, dim and gray,
Are joined in their fall, and, side by side,
Come clinging along their unsteady way;
As friend with friend, or husband with wife,
Makes hand in hand the passage of life; 30
Each mated flake
Soon sinks in the dark and silent lake.
Lo! while we are gazing, in swifter haste
Stream down the snows, till the air is white,
As, myriads by myriads madly chased, 35
They fling themselves from their shadowy height.
The fair, frail creatures of middle sky,
What speed they make, with their grave so nigh;
Flake after flake,
To lie in the dark and silent lake! 40
I see in thy gentle eyes a tear;
They turn to me in sorrowful thought;
Thou thinkest of friends, the good and dear,
Who were for a time and now are not;
Like these fair children of cloud and frost, 45
That glisten a moment and then are lost,
Flake after flake¡ª
All lost in the dark and silent lake.
Yet look again, for the clouds divide;
A gleam of blue on the water lies; 50
And far away, on the mountain-side,
A sunbeam falls from the opening skies.
But the hurrying host that flew between
The cloud and the water, no more is seen;
Flake after flake, 55
At rest in the dark and silent lake.
Oliver Wendell Holmes | |
OH for one hour of youthful joy!
Give back my twentieth spring!
I'd rather laugh, a bright-haired boy,
Than reign, a gray-beard king.
Off with the spoils of wrinkled age!
Away with Learning's crown!
Tear out life's Wisdom-written page,
And dash its trophies down!
One moment let my life-blood stream
From boyhood's fount of flame!
Give me one giddy, reeling dream
Of life all love and fame!
My listening angel heard the prayer,
And, calmly smiling, said,
"If I but touch thy silvered hair
Thy hasty wish hath sped.
"But is there nothing in thy track,
To bid thee fondly stay,
While the swift seasons hurry back
To find the wished-for day?"
"Ah, truest soul of womankind!
Without thee what were life ?
One bliss I cannot leave behind:
I'll take-- my-- precious-- wife!"
The angel took a sapphire pen
And wrote in rainbow dew,
The man would be a boy again,
And be a husband too!
"And is there nothing yet unsaid,
Before the change appears?
Remember, all their gifts have fled
With those dissolving years.
"Why, yes;" for memory would recall
My fond paternal joys;
"I could not bear to leave them all--
I'll take-- my-- girl-- and-- boys.
The smiling angel dropped his pen,--
"Why, this will never do;
The man would be a boy again,
And be a father too!"
And so I laughed,-- my laughter woke
The household with its noise,--
And wrote my dream, when morning broke,
To please the gray-haired boys.
Oliver Wendell Holmes | |
GRANDMOTHER's mother: her age, I guess,
Thirteen summers, or something less;
Girlish bust, but womanly air;
Smooth, square forehead with uprolled hair;
Lips that lover has never kissed;
Taper fingers and slender wrist;
Hanging sleeves of stiff brocade;
So they painted the little maid.
On her hand a parrot green
Sits unmoving and broods serene.
Hold up the canvas full in view,--
Look! there's a rent the light shines through,
Dark with a century's fringe of dust,--
That was a Red-Coat's rapier-thrust!
Such is the tale the lady old,
Dorothy's daughter's daughter, told.
Who the painter was none may tell,--
One whose best was not over well;
Hard and dry, it must be confessed,
Fist as a rose that has long been pressed;
Yet in her cheek the hues are bright,
Dainty colors of red and white,
And in her slender shape are seen
Hint and promise of stately mien.
Look not on her with eyes of scorn,--
was a lady born!
Ay! since the galloping Normans came,
England's annals have known her name;
And still to the three-hilled rebel town
Dear is that ancient name's renown,
For many a civic wreath they won,
The youthful sire and the gray-haired son.
O Damsel Dorothy! Dorothy Q.
Strange is the gift that I owe to you;
Such a gift as never a king
Save to daughter or son might bring,--
All my tenure of heart and hand,
All my title to house and land;
Mother and sister and child and wife
And joy and sorrow and death and life!
What if a hundred years ago
Those close-shut lips had answered NO,
When forth the tremulous question came
That cost the maiden her Norman name,
And under the folds that look so still
The bodice swelled with the bosom's thrill?
Should I be I, or would it be
One tenth another, to nine tenths me?
Soft is the breath of a maiden's YES:
Not the light gossamer stirs with less;
But never a cable that holds so fast
Through all the battles of wave and blast,
And never an echo of speech or song
That lives in the babbling air so long!
There were tones in the voice that whispered then
You may hear to-day in a hundred men.
O lady and lover, how faint and far
Your images hover,-- and here we are,
Solid and stirring in flesh and bone,--
Edward's and Dorothy's-- all their own,--
A goodly record for Time to show
Of a syllable spoken so long ago!--
Shall I bless you, Dorothy, or forgive
For the tender whisper that bade me live?
It shall be a blessing, my little maid!
I will heal the stab of the Red-Coat's blade,
And freshen the gold of the tarnished frame,
And gild with a rhyme your household name;
So you shall smile on us brave and bright
As first you greeted the morning's light,
And live untroubled by woes and fears
Through a second youth of a hundred years.
Oliver Wendell Holmes | |
THERE was a giant in time of old,
A mighty one was he;
He had a wife, but she was a scold,
So he kept her shut in his mammoth fold;
And he had children three.
It happened to be an election day,
And the giants were choosing a king;
The people were not democrats then,
They did not talk of the rights of men,
And all that sort of thing.
Then the giant took his children three,
And fastened them in the pen;
The children roared; quoth the giant, "Be still!"
And Dorchester Heights and Milton Hill
Rolled back the sound again.
Then he brought them a pudding stuffed with plums,
As big as the State-House dome;
Quoth he, "There's something for you to eat;
So stop your mouths with your 'lection treat,
And wait till your dad comes home.
So the giant pulled him a chestnut stout,
And whittled the boughs away;
The boys and their mother set up a shout.
Said he, "You're in, and you can't get out,
Bellow as loud as you may.
Off he went, and he growled a tune
As he strode the fields along
'Tis said a buffalo fainted away,
And fell as cold as a lump of clay,
When he heard the giant's song.
But whether the story's true or not,
It isn't for me to show;
There's many a thing that's twice as queer
In somebody's lectures that we hear,
And those are true, you know.
What are those lone ones doing now,
The wife and the children sad?
Oh, they are in a terrible rout,
Screaming, and throwing their pudding about,
Acting as they were mad.
They flung it over to Roxbury hills,
They flung it over the plain,
And all over Milton and Dorchester too
Great lumps of pudding the giants threw;
They tumbled as thick as rain.
Giant and mammoth have passed away,
For ages have floated by;
The suet is hard as a marrow-bone,
And every plum is turned to a stone,
But there the puddings lie.
And if, some pleasant afternoon,
You'll ask me out to ride,
The whole of the story I will tell,
And you shall see where the puddings fell,
And pay for the punch beside.
John Greenleaf Whittier | |
Pipes of the misty moorlands,
Voice of the glens and hills;
The droning of the torrents,
The treble of the rills!
Not the braes of bloom and heather,
Nor the mountains dark with rain,
Nor maiden bower, nor border tower,
Have heard your sweetest strain!
Dear to the Lowland reaper,
And plaided mountaineer, -
To the cottage and the castle
The Scottish pipes are dear; -
Sweet sounds the ancient pibroch
O'er mountain, loch, and glade;
But the sweetest of all music
The pipes at Lucknow played.
Day by day the Indian tiger
Louder yelled, and nearer crept;
Round and round the jungle-serpent
Near and nearer circles swept.
'Pray for rescue, wives and mothers, -
Pray to-day!' the soldier said;
'To-morrow, death's between us
And the wrong and shame we dread.
Oh, they listened, looked, and waited,
Till their hope became despair;
And the sobs of low bewailing
Filled the pauses of their prayer.
Then up spake a Scottish maiden.
With her ear unto the ground:
'Dinna ye hear it? - dinna ye hear it?
The pipes o' Havelock sound!'
Hushed the wounded man his groaning;
Hushed the wife her little ones;
Alone they heard the drum-roll
And the roar of Sepoy guns.
But to sounds of home and childhood
The Highland ear was true; -
As her mother's cradle-crooning
The mountain pipes she knew.
Like the march of soundless music
Through the vision of the seer,
More of feeling than of hearing,
Of the heart than of the ear,
She knew the droning pibroch,
She knew the Campbell's call:
'Hark! hear ye no MacGregor's,
The grandest o' them all!'
Oh, they listened, dumb and breathless,
And they caught the sound at last;
Faint and far beyond the Goomtee
Rose and fell the piper's blast!
Then a burst of wild thanksgiving
Mingled woman's voice and man's;
'God be praised! - the march of Havelock!
The piping of the clans!'
Louder, nearer, fierce as vengeance,
Sharp and shrill as swords at strife,
Came the wild MacGregor's clan-call,
Stinging all the air to life.
But when the far-off dust-cloud
To plaided legions grew,
Full tenderly and blithesomely
The pipes of rescue blew!
Round the silver domes of Lucknow.
Moslem mosque and Pagan shrine,
Breathed the air to Britons dearest,
The air of Auld Lang Syne.
O'er the cruel roll of war-drums
Rose that sweet and homelike strain;
And the tartan clove the turban,
As the Goomtee cleaves the plain.
Dear to the corn-land reaper
And plaided mountaineer, -
To the cottage and the castle
The piper's song is dear.
Sweet sounds the Gaelic pibroch
O'er mountain, glen, and glade;
But the sweetest of all music
The pipes at Lucknow played!
Stephen Vincent Benet | |
"But, sir," I said, "they tell me the man is like to die!" The Canon shook his head indulgently.
"Young blood, Cousin," he boomed.
"Young blood! Youth will be served!"
-- D'Hermonville's Fabliaux.
He woke up with a sick taste in his mouth
And lay there heavily, while dancing motes
Whirled through his brain in endless, rippling streams,
And a grey mist weighed down upon his eyes
So that they could not open fully.
After some time his blurred mind stumbled back
To its last ragged memory -- a room;
Air foul with wine; a shouting, reeling crowd
Of friends who dragged him, dazed and blind with drink
Out to the street; a crazy rout of cabs;
The steady mutter of his neighbor's voice,
Mumbling out dull obscenity by rote;
And then .
well, they had brought him home it seemed,
Since he awoke in bed -- oh, damn the business!
He had not wanted it -- the silly jokes,
"One last, great night of freedom ere you're married!"
"You'll get no fun then!" "H-ssh, don't tell that story!
He'll have a wife soon!" -- God! the sitting down
To drink till you were sodden! .
Like great light
She came into his thoughts.
That was the worst.
To wallow in the mud like this because
His friends were fools.
He was not fit to touch,
To see, oh far, far off, that silver place
Where God stood manifest to man in her.
One thing he brought to her,
He had been clean; had taken it
A kind of point of honor from the first .
Others might do it .
but he didn't care
For those things.
Suddenly his vision cleared.
And something seemed to grow within his mind.
Something was wrong -- the color of the wall --
The queer shape of the bedposts -- everything
Was changed, somehow .
Was this his room?
He turned his head -- and saw beside him there
The sagging body's slope, the paint-smeared face,
And the loose, open mouth, lax and awry,
The breasts, the bleached and brittle hair .
As if all Hell were crushed to one bright line
Of lightning for a moment.
Then he sank,
Prone beneath an intolerable weight.
And bitter loathing crept up all his limbs.
Sir Walter Raleigh | |
The Artist and his Luckless Wife
They lead a horrid haunted life,
Surrounded by the things he's made
That are not wanted by the trade.
The world is very fair to see;
The Artist will not let it be;
He fiddles with the works of God,
And makes them look uncommon odd.
The Artist is an awful man,
He does not do the things he can;
He does the things he cannot do,
And we attend the private view.
The Artist uses honest paint
To represent things as they ain't,
He then asks money for the time
It took to perpetrate the crime.
Alec Derwent (A D) Hope | |
A piece of bone, found at Trondhjem in 1901, with the following runic inscription (about A.
1050) cut on it: I loved her as a maiden; I will not trouble Erlend's detestable wife; better she should be a widow.
Words scored upon a bone,
Scratched in despair or rage --
Nine hundred years have gone;
Now, in another age,
They burn with passion on
A scholar's tranquil page.
The scholar takes his pen
And turns the bone about,
And writes those words again.
Once more they seethe and shout
And through a human brain
Undying hate rings out.
"I loved her when a maid;
I loathe and love the wife
That warms another's bed:
Let him beware his life!"
The scholar's hand is stayed;
His pen becomes a knife
To grave in living bone
The fierce archaic cry.
He sits and reads his own
Dull sum of misery.
A thousand years have flown
Before that ink is dry.
And, in a foreign tongue,
A man, who is not he,
Reads and his heart is wrung
This ancient grief to see,
And thinks: When I am dung,
What bone shall speak for me?
Arthur Hugh Clough | |
"There is no God," the wicked saith,
"And truly it's a blessing,
For what He might have done with us
It's better only guessing.
"There is no God," a youngster thinks,
"or really, if there may be,
He surely did not mean a man
Always to be a baby.
"There is no God, or if there is,"
The tradesman thinks, "'twere funny
If He should take it ill in me
To make a little money.
"Whether there be," the rich man says,
"It matters very little,
For I and mine, thank somebody,
Are not in want of victual.
Some others, also, to themselves,
Who scarce so much as doubt it,
Think there is none, when they are well,
And do not think about it.
But country folks who live beneath
The shadow of the steeple;
The parson and the parson's wife,
And mostly married people;
Youths green and happy in first love,
So thankful for illusion;
And men caught out in what the world
Calls guilt, in first confusion;
And almost everyone when age,
Disease, or sorrows strike him,
Inclines to think there is a God,
Or something very like Him.
John Crowe Ransom | |
Captain Carpenter rose up in his prime
Put on his pistols and went riding out
But had got wellnigh nowhere at that time
Till he fell in with ladies in a rout.
It was a pretty lady and all her train
That played with him so sweetly but before
An hour she'd taken a sword with all her main
And twined him of his nose for evermore.
Captain Carpenter mounted up one day
And rode straightway into a stranger rogue
That looked unchristian but be that as may
The Captain did not wait upon prologue.
But drew upon him out of his great heart
The other swung against him with a club
And cracked his two legs at the shinny part
And let him roll and stick like any tub.
Captain Carpenter rode many a time
From male and female took he sundry harms
He met the wife of Satan crying "I'm
The she-wolf bids you shall bear no more arms.
Their strokes and counters whistled in the wind
I wish he had delivered half his blows
But where she should have made off like a hind
The bitch bit off his arms at the elbows.
And Captain Carpenter parted with his ears
To a black devil that used him in this wise
O Jesus ere his threescore and ten years
Another had plucked out his sweet blue eyes.
Captain Carpenter got up on his roan
And sallied from the gate in hell's despite
I heard him asking in the grimmest tone
If any enemy yet there was to fight?
"To any adversary it is fame
If he risk to be wounded by my tongue
Or burnt in two beneath my red heart's flame
Such are the perils he is cast among.
"But if he can he has a pretty choice
From an anatomy with little to lose
Whether he cut my tongue and take my voice
Or whether it be my round red heart he choose.
It was the neatest knave that ever was seen
Stepping in perfume from his lady's bower
Who at this word put in his merry mien
And fell on Captain Carpenter like a tower.
I would not knock old fellows in the dust
But there lay Captain Carpenter on his back
His weapons were the old heart in his bust
And a blade shook between rotten teeth alack.
The rogue in scarlet and grey soon knew his mind.
He wished to get his trophy and depart
With gentle apology and touch refined
He pierced him and produced the Captain's heart.
God's mercy rest on Captain Carpenter now (a,
I thought him Sirs an honest gentleman
Citizen husband soldier and scholar enow
Let jangling kites eat of him if they can.
But God's deep curses follow after those
That shore him of his goodly nose and ears
His legs and strong arms at the two elbows
And eyes that had not watered seventy years.
The curse of hell upon the sleek upstart
That got the Captain finally on his back
And took the red red vitals of his heart
And made the kites to whet their beaks clack clack.
Edgar Albert Guest | |
To wed, or not to wed; that is the question;
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The bills and house rent of a wedded fortune,
Or to say "nit" when she proposes,
And by declining cut her.
To wed; to smoke
No more; And have a wife at home to mend
The holes in socks and shirts
And underwear and so forth.
'Tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wished.
To wed for life;
To wed; perchance to fight; ay, there's the rub;
For in that married life what fights may come,
When we have honeymooning ceased
Must give us pause; there's the respect
That makes the joy of single life.
For who would bear her mother's scornful tongue,
Canned goods for tea, the dying furnace fire;
The pangs of sleepless nights when baby cries;
The pain of barking shins upon a chair and
Closing waists that button down the back,
When he himself might all these troubles shirk
With a bare refusal? Who would bundles bear,
And grunt and sweat under a shopping load?
Who would samples match; buy rats for hair,
Cart cheese and crackers home to serve at night
For lunch to feed your friends; play pedro
After tea; sing rag time songs, amusing
Buy garden tools
To lend unto the same.
Stay home at nights
In smoking coat and slippers and slink to bed
At ten o'clock to save the light bills?
Thus duty does make cowards of us all,
And thus the native hue of matrimony
Is sicklied o'er with the pale cast of chores;
And thus the gloss of marriage fades away,
And loses its attraction.