Ben Jonson | |
Let it not your wonder move,
Less your laughter, that I love.
Though I now write fifty years,
I have had, and have, my peers.
Poets, though divine, are men;
Some have loved as old again.
And it is not always face,
Clothes, or fortune gives the grace,
Or the feature, or the youth;
But the language and the truth,
With the ardor and the passion,
Gives the lover weight and fashion.
If you then would hear the story,
First, prepare you to be sorry
That you never knew till now
Either whom to love or how;
But be glad as soon with me
When you hear that this is she
Of whose beauty it was sung,
She shall make the old man young,
Keep the middle age at stay,
And let nothing hide decay,
Till she be the reason why
All the world for love may die.
Emily Dickinson | |
"Going to him! Happy letter! Tell him--
Tell him the page I didn't write;
Tell him I only said the syntax,
And left the verb and the pronoun out.
Tell him just how the fingers hurried
Then how they waded, slow, slow, slow-
And then you wished you had eyes in your pages,
So you could see what moved them so.
"Tell him it wasn't a practised writer,
You guessed, from the way the sentence toiled;
You could hear the bodice tug, behind you,
As if it held but the might of a child;
You almost pitied it, you, it worked so.
Tell him--No, you may quibble there,
For it would split his heart to know it,
And then you and I were silenter.
"Tell him night finished before we finished
And the old clock kept neighing 'day!'
And you got sleepy and begged to be ended--
What could it hinder so, to say?
Tell him just how she sealed you, cautious
But if he ask where you are hid
Until to-morrow,--happy letter!
Gesture, coquette, and shake your head!"
William Blake | |
PIPING down the valleys wild
Piping songs of pleasant glee
On a cloud I saw a child
And he laughing said to me:
'Pipe a song about a Lamb!' 5
So I piped with merry cheer.
'Piper pipe that song again;'
So I piped: he wept to hear.
'Drop thy pipe thy happy pipe;
Sing thy songs of happy cheer!' 10
So I sung the same again
While he wept with joy to hear.
'Piper sit thee down and write
In a book that all may read.
So he vanish'd from my sight; 15
And I pluck'd a hollow reed
And I made a rural pen
And I stain'd the water clear
And I wrote my happy songs
Every child may joy to hear.
Elizabeth Bishop | |
The art of losing isn't hard to master;
so many things seem filled with the intent
to be lost that their loss is no disaster.
Lose something every day.
Accept the fluster
of lost door keys the hour badly spent.
The art of losing isn't hard to master.
Then practice losing farther losing faster:
places and names and where it was your meant
None of these will bring disaster.
I lost my mother's watch.
And look! my last or
next-to-last of three loved housed went.
The art of losing isn't hard to master.
I lose two cities lovely ones.
some realms I owned two rivers a continent.
I miss them but it wasn't a disaster.
--Even losing you (the joking voice a gesture
I love) I shan't have lied.
the art of losing's not too hard to master
though it may look like (Write it!) like disaster.
John Donne | |
GO and catch a falling star,
Get with child a mandrake root,
Tell me where all past years are,
Or who cleft the Devil's foot;
Teach me to hear mermaids singing, 5
Or to keep off envy's stinging,
Serves to advance an honest mind.
If thou be'st born to strange sights, 10
Things invisible to see,
Ride ten thousand days and nights
Till Age snow white hairs on thee;
Thou, when thou return'st, wilt tell me
All strange wonders that befell thee, 15
Lives a woman true and fair.
If thou find'st one, let me know;
Such a pilgrimage were sweet.
Yet do not; I would not go,
Though at next door we might meet.
Though she were true when you met her,
And last till you write your letter,
Yet she 25
False, ere I come, to two or three.
Lew Welch | |
Not yet 40, my beard is already white.
Not yet awake, my eyes are puffy and red,
like a child who has cried too much.
What is more disagreeable
than last night's wine?
I'll stick my head in the cold spring and
look around at the pebbles.
Maybe I can eat a can of peaches.
Then I can finish the rest of the wine,
write poems 'til I'm drunk again,
and when the afternoon breeze comes up
I'll sleep until I see the moon
and the dark trees
and the nibbling deer
the quarreling coons
Gerard Manley Hopkins | |
'The child is father to the man.
How can he be? The words are wild.
Suck any sense from that who can:
'The child is father to the man.
No; what the poet did write ran,
'The man is father to the child.
'The child is father to the man!'
How can he be? The words are wild.
Anne Kingsmill Finch | |
'Tis true I write and tell me by what Rule
I am alone forbid to play the fool
To follow through the Groves a wand'ring Muse
And fain'd Idea's for my pleasures chuse
Why shou'd it in my Pen be held a fault
Whilst Mira paints her face, to paint a thought
Whilst Lamia to the manly Bumper flys
And borrow'd Spiritts sparkle in her Eyes
Why shou'd itt be in me a thing so vain
To heat with Poetry my colder Brain?
But I write ill and there-fore shou'd forbear
Does Flavia cease now at her fortieth year
In ev'ry Place to lett that face be seen
Which all the Town rejected at fifteen
Each Woman has her weaknesse; mind [sic] indeed
Is still to write tho' hopelesse to succeed
Nor to the Men is this so easy found
Ev'n in most Works with which the Witts abound
(So weak are all since our first breach with Heav'n)
Ther's lesse to be Applauded than forgiven.
Walter Savage Landor | |
Well I remember how you smiled
To see me write your name upon
The soft sea-sand .
"O! what a child!
You think you're writing upon stone!"
I have since written what no tide
Shall ever wash away, what men
Unborn shall read o'er ocean wide
And find Ianthe's name again.
Oliver Wendell Holmes | |
If all the trees in all the woods were men;
And each and every blade of grass a pen;
If every leaf on every shrub and tree
Turned to a sheet of foolscap; every sea
Were changed to ink, and all earth's living tribes
Had nothing else to do but act as scribes,
And for ten thousand ages, day and night,
The human race should write, and write, and write,
Till all the pens and paper were used up,
And the huge inkstand was an empty cup,
Still would the scribblers clustered round its brink
Call for more pens, more paper, and more ink.
Edwin Arlington Robinson | |
The master-songs are ended, and the man
That sang them is a name.
And so is God
A name; and so is love, and life, and death,
But we, who are too blind
To read what we have written, or what faith
Has written for us, do not understand:
We only blink, and wonder.
Last night it was the song that was the man,
But now it is the man that is the song.
We do not hear him very much to-day:
His piercing and eternal cadence rings
Too pure for us --- too powerfully pure,
Too lovingly triumphant, and too large;
But there are some that hear him, and they know
That he shall sing to-morrow for all men,
And that all time shall listen.
The master-songs are ended? Rather say
No songs are ended that are ever sung,
And that no names are dead names.
When we write
Men's letters on proud marble or on sand,
We write them there forever.
David Herbert Lawrence | |
A big bud of moon hangs out of the twilight,
Star-spiders spinning their thread
Hang high suspended, withouten respite
Watching us overhead.
Come then under the trees, where the leaf-cloths
Curtain us in so dark
That here we’re safe from even the ermin-moth’s
Here in this swarthy, secret tent,
Where black boughs flap the ground,
You shall draw the thorn from my discontent,
Surgeon me sound.
This rare, rich night! For in here
Under the yew-tree tent
The darkness is loveliest where I could sear
You like frankincense into scent.
Here not even the stars can spy us,
Not even the white moths write
With their little pale signs on the wall, to try us
And set us affright.
Kiss but then the dust from off my lips,
But draw the turgid pain
From my breast to your bosom, eclipse
My soul again.
Waste me not, I beg you, waste
Not the inner night:
Taste, oh taste and let me taste
The core of delight.
Rainer Maria Rilke | |
MY first gift and my last, to you
I dedicate this fascicle of songs -
The only wealth I have:
Just as they are, to you.
I speak the truth in soberness, and say
I had rather bring a light to your clear eyes,
Had rather hear you praise
This bosomful of songs
Than that the whole, hard world with one consent,
In one continuous chorus of applause
Poured forth for me and mine
The homage of ripe praise.
I write the finis here against my love,
This is my love's last epitaph and tomb.
Here the road forks, and I
Go my way, far from yours.
Godfrey Mutiso Gorry | |
And then they pretend like owls
With marble eyes and wizened stupidity
I do not know why they cannot perceive
But I will write
Until sand evaporates
And the moon consumes the sun
I will write
Even for the sake of art
For myself and for those who feel
Reading could lift them
Into other spheres of fancy
Where thoughts are much clearer
And deeds best described
As a vintage of the self
Maria Mazziotti Gillan | |
Panic in your face, you write questions
to ask him.
When he arrives,
you are serene, your fear
How unlike me you are.
After the dance,
I see your happiness; he holds
Though you barely speak,
your body pulses messages I can read
all too well.
He kisses you goodnight,
his body moving toward yours, and yours
I am frightened, guard my
tongue for fear my mother will pop out
of my mouth.
"He is not shy," I say.
a little girl again, but you tell me he
kissed you on the dance floor.
"No, a lot.
We ride through rain-shining 1 a.
I bite back words which long
to be said, knowing I must not shatter your
moment, fragile as a spun-glass bird,
you, the moment, poised on the edge of
flight, and I, on the ground, afraid.
Maria Mazziotti Gillan
Copyright © 1995
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe | |
YE love, and sonnets write! Fate's strange behest!
The heart, its hidden meaning to declare,
Must seek for rhymes, uniting pair with pair:
Learn, children, that the will is weak, at best.
Scarcely with freedom the o'erflowing breast
As yet can speak, and well may it beware;
Tempestuous passions sweep each chord that's there,
Then once more sink to night and gentle rest.
Why vex yourselves and us, the heavy stone
Up the steep path but step by step to roll?
It falls again, and ye ne'er cease to strive.
But we are on the proper road alone!
If gladly is to thaw the frozen soul,
The fire of love must aye be kept alive.
James Henry Leigh Hunt | |
Abou Ben Adhem (may his tribe increase!)
Awoke one night from a deep dream of peace,
And saw, within the moonlight in his room,
Making it rich, and like a lily in bloom,
An angel writing in a book of gold:—
Exceeding peace had made Ben Adhem bold,
And to the Presence in the room he said
"What writest thou?"—The vision raised its head,
And with a look made of all sweet accord,
Answered "The names of those who love the Lord.
"And is mine one?" said Abou.
"Nay, not so,"
Replied the angel.
Abou spoke more low,
But cheerly still, and said "I pray thee, then,
Write me as one that loves his fellow men.
The angel wrote, and vanished.
The next night
It came again with a great wakening light,
And showed the names whom love of God had blessed,
And lo! Ben Adhem's name led all the rest.
Walter de la Mare | |
What lovely things
Thy hand hath made:
The smooth-plumed bird
In its emerald shade,
The seed of the grass,
The speck of the stone
Which the wayfaring ant
Stirs -- and hastes on!
Though I should sit
By some tarn in thy hills,
Using its ink
As the spirit wills
To write of Earth's wonders,
Its live, willed things,
Flit would the ages
On soundless wings
Ere unto Z
My pen drew nigh
And the honey-fly:
And still would remain
My wit to try --
My worn reeds broken,
The dark tarn dry,
All words forgotten --
Thou, Lord, and I.
A S J Tessimond | |
Architects plant their imagination, weld their poems on rock,
Clamp them to the skidding rim of the world and anchor them down to its core;
Leave more than the painter's or poet's snail-bright trail on a friable leaf;
Can build their chrysalis round them - stand in their sculpture's belly.
They see through stone, they cage and partition air, they cross-rig space
With footholds, planks for a dance; yet their maze, their flying trapeze
Is pinned to the centre.
They write their euclidean music standing
With a hand on a cornice of cloud, themselves set fast, earth-square.
Sir Philip Sidney | |
ASTROPHEL AND STELLA: I
Loving in truth, and fain in verse my love to show,
That she, dear she, might take some pleasure of my pain,--
Pleasure might cause her read, reading might make her know,
Knowledge might pity win, and pity grace obtain,--
I sought fit words to paint the blackest face of woe;
Studying inventions fine her wits to entertain,
Oft turning others' leaves, to see if thence would flow
Some fresh and fruitful showers upon my sunburn'd brain.
But words came halting forth, wanting invention's stay;
Invention, Nature's child, fled step-dame Study's blows;
And others' feet still seem'd but strangers in my way.
Thus great with child to speak and helpless in my throes,
Biting my truant pen, beating myself for spite,
"Fool," said my Muse to me, "look in thy heart, and write.