William Butler Yeats
You say, as I have often given tongue
In praise of what another's said or sung,
'Twere politic to do the like by these;
But was there ever dog that praised his fleas?
The Poets light but Lamps --
Themselves -- go out --
The Wicks they stimulate --
If vital Light
Inhere as do the Suns --
Each Age a Lens
I ask'd thee oft what poets thou hast read,
And lik'st the best? Still thou repli'st, The dead.
--I shall, ere long, with green turfs cover'd be;
Then sure thou'lt like, or thou wilt envy, me.
Lucy Maud Montgomery
It came to him in rainbow dreams,
Blent with the wisdom of the sages,
Of spirit and of passion born;
In words as lucent as the morn
He prisoned it, and now it gleams
A jewel shining through the ages.
"If I could set the moon upon
This table," said my friend,
"Among the standard poets
And brouchures without end,
And noble prints of old Japan,
How empty they would seem,
By that encyclopaedia
Of whim and glittering dream.
Here she lies, in bed of spice,
Fair as Eve in paradise;
For her beauty, it was such,
Poets could not praise too much.
Virgins come, and in a ring
Her supremest REQUIEM sing;
Then depart, but see ye tread
Lightly, lightly o'er the dead.
You ask how I spend my time--
I nestle against a treetrunk
and listen to autumn winds
in the pines all night and day.
Shantung wine can't get me drunk.
The local poets bore me.
My thoughts remain with you,
like the Wen River, endlessly flowing.
William Butler Yeats
O cloud-pale eyelids, dream-dimmed eyes,
The poets labouring all their days
To build a perfect beauty in rhyme
Are overthrown by a woman's gaze
And by the unlabouring brood of the skies:
And therefore my heart will bow, when dew
Is dropping sleep, until God burn time,
Before the unlabouring stars and you.
The Martyr Poets -- did not tell --
But wrought their Pang in syllable --
That when their mortal name be numb --
Their mortal fate -- encourage Some --
The Martyr Painters -- never spoke --
Bequeathing -- rather -- to their Work --
That when their conscious fingers cease --
Some seek in Art -- the Art of Peace --
Though I thy Mithridates were,
Framed to defy the poison-dart,
Yet must thou fold me unaware
To know the rapture of thy heart,
And I but render and confess
The malice of thy tenderness.
For elegant and antique phrase,
Dearest, my lips wax all too wise;
Nor have I known a love whose praise
Our piping poets solemnize,
Neither a love where may not be
Ever so little falsity.
Orpheus he went, as poets tell,
To fetch Eurydice from hell;
And had her, but it was upon
This short, but strict condition;
Backward he should not look, while he
Led her through hell's obscurity.
But ah! it happen'd, as he made
His passage through that dreadful shade,
Revolve he did his loving eye,
For gentle fear or jealousy;
And looking back, that look did sever
Him and Eurydice for ever.
Authors and actors and artists and such
Never know nothing, and never know much.
Sculptors and singers and those of their kidney
Tell their affairs from Seattle to Sydney.
Playwrights and poets and such horses' necks
Start off from anywhere, end up at sex.
Diarists, critics, and similar roe
Never say nothing, and never say no.
People Who Do Things exceed my endurance;
God, for a man that solicits insurance!
Walter Savage Landor
Lately our poets loiter'd in green lanes,
Content to catch the ballads of the plains;
I fancied I had strength enough to climb
A loftier station at no distant time,
And might securely from intrusion doze
Upon the flowers thro' which Ilissus flows.
In those pale olive grounds all voices cease,
And from afar dust fills the paths of Greece.
My sluber broken and my doublet torn,
I find the laurel also bears a thorn.
Percy Bysshe Shelley
ON a Poet's lips I slept
Dreaming like a love-adept
In the sound his breathing kept;
Nor seeks nor finds he mortal blisses
But feeds on the aerial kisses 5
Of shapes that haunt Thought's wildernesses.
He will watch from dawn to gloom
The lake-reflected sun illume
The blue bees in the ivy-bloom
Nor heed nor see what things they be¡ª 10
But from these create he can
Forms more real than living man
Nurslings of Immortality!
A poet can't be in disfavour,
he needs no awards, no fame.
A star has no setting whatever,
no black nor a golden frame.
A star can't be killed with a stone, or
award, or that kind of stuff.
He'll bear the blow of a fawner
lamenting he's not big enough.
What matters is music and fervour,
not fame, nor abuse, anyway.
World powers are out of favour
when poets turn them away.
© Copyright Alec Vagapov's translation
Constantine P Cavafy
He came to read.
Two or three books
are open; historians and poets.
But he only read for ten minutes,
and gave them up.
He is dozing
on the sofa.
He is fully devoted to books --
but he is twenty-three years old, and he's very handsome;
and this afternoon love passed
through his ideal flesh, his lips.
Through his flesh which is full of beauty
the heat of love passed;
without any silly shame for the form of the enjoyment.
In noon-tide hours, O Love, secure and strong,
I need thee not; mad dreams are mine to bind
The world to my desire, and hold the wind
A voiceless captive to my conquering song.
I need thee not, I am content with these:
Keep silence in thy soul, beyond the seas!
But in the desolate hour of midnight, when
An ectasy of starry silence sleeps
And my soul hungers for thy voice, O then,
Love, like the magic of wild melodies,
Let thy soul answer mine across the seas.
Besides the Autumn poets sing
A few prosaic days
A little this side of the snow
And that side of the Haze --
A few incisive Mornings --
A few Ascetic Eves --
Gone -- Mr.
Bryant's "Golden Rod" --
Still, is the bustle in the Brook --
Sealed are the spicy valves --
Mesmeric fingers softly touch
The Eyes of many Elves --
Perhaps a squirrel may remain --
My sentiments to share --
Grant me, Oh Lord, a sunny mind --
Thy windy will to bear!
Robert William Service
I scanned two lines with some surmise
As over Keats I chanced to pore:
'And there I shut her wild, wild eyes
With kisses four.
Says I: 'Why was it only four,
Not five or six or seven?
I think I would have made it more,--
'Gee! If she'd lured a guy like me
Into her gelid grot
I'd make that Belle Dame sans Merci
Sure kiss a lot.
'Them poets have their little tricks;
I think John counted kisses for,
Not two or three or five or six
To rhyme with "sore.