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Best Famous Homer Poems

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12
Written by Ogden Nash | Create an image from this poem

Very Like a Whale

 One thing that literature would be greatly the better for
Would be a more restricted employment by the authors of simile and
metaphor.
Authors of all races, be they Greeks, Romans, Teutons or Celts, Can't seem just to say that anything is the thing it is but have to go out of their way to say that it is like something else.
What does it mean when we are told That that Assyrian came down like a wolf on the fold? In the first place, George Gordon Byron had enough experience To know that it probably wasn't just one Assyrian, it was a lot of Assyrians.
However, as too many arguments are apt to induce apoplexy and thus hinder longevity.
We'll let it pass as one Assyrian for the sake of brevity.
Now then, this particular Assyrian, the one whose cohorts were gleaming in purple and gold, Just what does the poet mean when he says he came down like a wold on the fold? In heaven and earth more than is dreamed of in our philosophy there are great many things.
But I don't imagine that among them there is a wolf with purple and gold cohorts or purple and gold anythings.
No, no, Lord Byron, before I'll believe that this Assyrian was actually like a wolf I must have some kind of proof; Did he run on all fours and did he have a hairy tail and a big red mouth and big white teeth and did he say Woof Woof? Frankly I think it is very unlikely, and all you were entitled to say, at the very most, Was that the Assyrian cohorts came down like a lot of Assyrian cohorts about to destroy the Hebrew host.
But that wasn't fancy enough for Lord Byron, oh dear me no, he had to invent a lot of figures of speech and then interpolate them, With the result that whenever you mention Old Testament soldiers to people they say Oh yes, they're the ones that a lot of wolves dressed up in gold and purple ate them.
That's the kind of thing that's being done all the time by poets, from Homer to Tennyson; They're always comparing ladies to lilies and veal to venison, And they always say things like that the snow is a white blanket after a winter storm.
Oh it is, is it, all right then, you sleep under a six-inch blanket of snow and I'll sleep under a half-inch blanket of unpoetical blanket material and we'll see which one keeps warm, And after that maybe you'll begin to comprehend dimly What I mean by too much metaphor and simile.
Written by Homer | Create an image from this poem

THE ILIAD (excerpt)

  Achilles' wrath, to Greece the direful spring
  Of woes unnumber'd, heavenly goddess, sing!
  That wrath which hurl'd to Pluto's gloomy reign
  The souls of mighty chiefs untimely slain;
  Whose limbs unburied on the naked shore,
  Devouring dogs and hungry vultures tore.
(41) Since great Achilles and Atrides strove, Such was the sovereign doom, and such the will of Jove!(42) Declare, O Muse! in what ill-fated hour(43) Sprung the fierce strife, from what offended power Latona's son a dire contagion spread,(44) And heap'd the camp with mountains of the dead; The king of men his reverent priest defied,(45) And for the king's offence the people died.
For Chryses sought with costly gifts to gain His captive daughter from the victor's chain.
Suppliant the venerable father stands; Apollo's awful ensigns grace his hands By these he begs; and lowly bending down, Extends the sceptre and the laurel crown He sued to all, but chief implored for grace The brother-kings, of Atreus' royal race(46) "Ye kings and warriors! may your vows be crown'd, And Troy's proud walls lie level with the ground.
May Jove restore you when your toils are o'er Safe to the pleasures of your native shore.
But, oh! relieve a wretched parent's pain, And give Chryseis to these arms again; If mercy fail, yet let my presents move, And dread avenging Phoebus, son of Jove.
" The Greeks in shouts their joint assent declare, The priest to reverence, and release the fair.
Not so Atrides; he, with kingly pride, Repulsed the sacred sire, and thus replied: "Hence on thy life, and fly these hostile plains, Nor ask, presumptuous, what the king detains Hence, with thy laurel crown, and golden rod, Nor trust too far those ensigns of thy god.
Mine is thy daughter, priest, and shall remain; And prayers, and tears, and bribes, shall plead in vain; Till time shall rifle every youthful grace, And age dismiss her from my cold embrace, In daily labours of the loom employ'd, Or doom'd to deck the bed she once enjoy'd Hence then; to Argos shall the maid retire, Far from her native soil and weeping sire.
"
Written by Victor Hugo | Create an image from this poem

TO SOME BIRDS FLOWN AWAY

 ("Enfants! Oh! revenez!") 
 
 {XXII, April, 1837} 


 Children, come back—come back, I say— 
 You whom my folly chased away 
 A moment since, from this my room, 
 With bristling wrath and words of doom! 
 What had you done, you bandits small, 
 With lips as red as roses all? 
 What crime?—what wild and hapless deed? 
 What porcelain vase by you was split 
 To thousand pieces? Did you need 
 For pastime, as you handled it, 
 Some Gothic missal to enrich 
 With your designs fantastical? 
 Or did your tearing fingers fall 
 On some old picture? Which, oh, which 
 Your dreadful fault? Not one of these; 
 Only when left yourselves to please 
 This morning but a moment here 
 'Mid papers tinted by my mind 
 You took some embryo verses near— 
 Half formed, but fully well designed 
 To open out. Your hearts desire 
 Was but to throw them on the fire, 
 Then watch the tinder, for the sight 
 Of shining sparks that twinkle bright 
 As little boats that sail at night, 
 Or like the window lights that spring 
 From out the dark at evening. 
 
 'Twas all, and you were well content. 
 Fine loss was this for anger's vent— 
 A strophe ill made midst your play, 
 Sweet sound that chased the words away 
 In stormy flight. An ode quite new, 
 With rhymes inflated—stanzas, too, 
 That panted, moving lazily, 
 And heavy Alexandrine lines 
 That seemed to jostle bodily, 
 Like children full of play designs 
 That spring at once from schoolroom's form. 
 Instead of all this angry storm, 
 Another might have thanked you well 
 For saving prey from that grim cell, 
 That hollowed den 'neath journals great, 
 Where editors who poets flout 
 With their demoniac laughter shout. 
 And I have scolded you! What fate 
 For charming dwarfs who never meant 
 To anger Hercules! And I 
 Have frightened you!—My chair I sent 
 Back to the wall, and then let fly 
 A shower of words the envious use— 
 "Get out," I said, with hard abuse, 
 "Leave me alone—alone I say." 
 Poor man alone! Ah, well-a-day, 
 What fine result—what triumph rare! 
 As one turns from the coffin'd dead 
 So left you me:—I could but stare 
 Upon the door through which you fled— 
 I proud and grave—but punished quite. 
 And what care you for this my plight!— 
 You have recovered liberty, 
 Fresh air and lovely scenery, 
 The spacious park and wished-for grass; 
lights 
 And gratefully to sing. 
 
 E'e 
 A blade to watch what comes to pass; 
 Blue sky, and all the spring can show; 
 Nature, serenely fair to see; 
 The book of birds and spirits free, 
 God's poem, worth much more than mine, 
 Where flowers for perfect stanzas shine— 
 Flowers that a child may pluck in play, 
 No harsh voice frightening it away. 
 And I'm alone—all pleasure o'er— 
 Alone with pedant called "Ennui," 
 For since the morning at my door 
 Ennui has waited patiently. 
 That docto-r-London born, you mark, 
 One Sunday in December dark, 
 Poor little ones—he loved you not, 
 And waited till the chance he got 
 To enter as you passed away, 
 And in the very corner where 
 You played with frolic laughter gay, 
 He sighs and yawns with weary air. 
 
 What can I do? Shall I read books, 
 Or write more verse—or turn fond looks 
 Upon enamels blue, sea-green, 
 And white—on insects rare as seen 
 Upon my Dresden china ware? 
 Or shall I touch the globe, and care 
 To make the heavens turn upon 
 Its axis? No, not one—not one 
 Of all these things care I to do; 
 All wearies me—I think of you. 
 In truth with you my sunshine fled, 
 And gayety with your light tread— 
 Glad noise that set me dreaming still. 
 'Twas my delight to watch your will, 
 And mark you point with finger-tips 
 To help your spelling out a word; 
 To see the pearls between your lips 
 When I your joyous laughter heard; 
 Your honest brows that looked so true, 
 And said "Oh, yes!" to each intent; 
 Your great bright eyes, that loved to view 
 With admiration innocent 
 My fine old Sèvres; the eager thought 
 That every kind of knowledge sought; 
 The elbow push with "Come and see!" 
 
 Oh, certes! spirits, sylphs, there be, 
 And fays the wind blows often here; 
 The gnomes that squat the ceiling near, 
 In corners made by old books dim; 
 The long-backed dwarfs, those goblins grim 
 That seem at home 'mong vases rare, 
 And chat to them with friendly air— 
 Oh, how the joyous demon throng 
 Must all have laughed with laughter long 
 To see you on my rough drafts fall, 
 My bald hexameters, and all 
 The mournful, miserable band, 
 And drag them with relentless hand 
 From out their box, with true delight 
 To set them each and all a-light, 
 And then with clapping hands to lean 
 Above the stove and watch the scene, 
 How to the mass deformed there came 
 A soul that showed itself in flame! 
 
 Bright tricksy children—oh, I pray 
 Come back and sing and dance away, 
 And chatter too—sometimes you may, 
 A giddy group, a big book seize— 
 Or sometimes, if it so you please, 
 With nimble step you'll run to me 
 And push the arm that holds the pen, 
 Till on my finished verse will be 
 A stroke that's like a steeple when 
 Seen suddenly upon a plain. 
 My soul longs for your breath again 
 To warm it. Oh, return—come here 
 With laugh and babble—and no fear 
 When with your shadow you obscure 
 The book I read, for I am sure, 
 Oh, madcaps terrible and dear, 
 That you were right and I was wrong. 
 But who has ne'er with scolding tongue 
 Blamed out of season. Pardon me! 
 You must forgive—for sad are we. 
 
 The young should not be hard and cold 
 And unforgiving to the old. 
 Children each morn your souls ope out 
 Like windows to the shining day, 
 Oh, miracle that comes about, 
 The miracle that children gay 
 Have happiness and goodness too, 
 Caressed by destiny are you, 
 Charming you are, if you but play. 
 But we with living overwrought, 
 And full of grave and sombre thought, 
 Are snappish oft: dear little men, 
 We have ill-tempered days, and then, 
 Are quite unjust and full of care; 
 It rained this morning and the air 
 Was chill; but clouds that dimm'd the sky 
 Have passed. Things spited me, and why? 
 But now my heart repents. Behold 
 What 'twas that made me cross, and scold! 
 All by-and-by you'll understand, 
 When brows are mark'd by Time's stern hand; 
 Then you will comprehend, be sure, 
 When older—that's to say, less pure. 
 
 The fault I freely own was mine. 
 But oh, for pardon now I pine! 
 Enough my punishment to meet, 
 You must forgive, I do entreat 
 With clasped hands praying—oh, come back, 
 Make peace, and you shall nothing lack. 
 See now my pencils—paper—here, 
 And pointless compasses, and dear 
 Old lacquer-work; and stoneware clear 
 Through glass protecting; all man's toys 
 So coveted by girls and boys. 
 Great China monsters—bodies much 
 Like cucumbers—you all shall touch. 
 I yield up all! my picture rare 
 Found beneath antique rubbish heap, 
 My great and tapestried oak chair 
 I will from you no longer keep. 
 You shall about my table climb, 
 And dance, or drag, without a cry 
 From me as if it were a crime. 
 Even I'll look on patiently 
 If you your jagged toys all throw 
 Upon my carved bench, till it show 
 The wood is torn; and freely too, 
 I'll leave in your own hands to view, 
 My pictured Bible—oft desired— 
 But which to touch your fear inspired— 
 With God in emperor's robes attired. 
 
 Then if to see my verses burn, 
 Should seem to you a pleasant turn, 
 Take them to freely tear away 
 Or burn. But, oh! not so I'd say, 
 If this were Méry's room to-day. 
 That noble poet! Happy town, 
 Marseilles the Greek, that him doth own! 
 Daughter of Homer, fair to see, 
 Of Virgil's son the mother she. 
 To you I'd say, Hold, children all, 
 Let but your eyes on his work fall; 
 These papers are the sacred nest 
 In which his crooning fancies rest; 
 To-morrow winged to Heaven they'll soar, 
 For new-born verse imprisoned still 
 In manuscript may suffer sore 
 At your small hands and childish will, 
 Without a thought of bad intent, 
 Of cruelty quite innocent. 
 You wound their feet, and bruise their wings, 
 And make them suffer those ill things 
 That children's play to young birds brings. 
 
 But mine! no matter what you do, 
 My poetry is all in you; 
 You are my inspiration bright 
 That gives my verse its purest light. 
 Children whose life is made of hope, 
 Whose joy, within its mystic scope, 
 Owes all to ignorance of ill, 
 You have not suffered, and you still 
 Know not what gloomy thoughts weigh down 
 The poet-writer weary grown. 
 What warmth is shed by your sweet smile! 
 How much he needs to gaze awhile 
 Upon your shining placid brow, 
 When his own brow its ache doth know; 
 With what delight he loves to hear 
 Your frolic play 'neath tree that's near, 
 Your joyous voices mixing well 
 With his own song's all-mournful swell! 
 Come back then, children! come to me, 
 If you wish not that I should be 
 As lonely now that you're afar 
 As fisherman of Etrétat, 
 Who listless on his elbow leans 
 Through all the weary winter scenes, 
 As tired of thought—as on Time flies— 
 And watching only rainy skies! 
 
 MRS. NEWTON CROSLAND. 


 




Written by Robinson Jeffers | Create an image from this poem

The Epic Stars

 The heroic stars spending themselves,
Coining their very flesh into bullets for the lost battle,
They must burn out at length like used candles;
And Mother Night will weep in her triumph, taking home her heroes.
There is the stuff for an epic poem-- This magnificent raid at the heart of darkness, this lost battle-- We don't know enough, we'll never know.
Oh happy Homer, taking the stars and the Gods for granted.
Written by William Butler Yeats | Create an image from this poem

Meditations In Time Of Civil War

 I.
Ancestral Houses Surely among a rich man's flowering lawns, Amid the rustle of his planted hills, Life overflows without ambitious pains; And rains down life until the basin spills, And mounts more dizzy high the more it rains As though to choose whatever shape it wills And never stoop to a mechanical Or servile shape, at others' beck and call.
Mere dreams, mere dreams! Yet Homer had not Sung Had he not found it certain beyond dreams That out of life's own self-delight had sprung The abounding glittering jet; though now it seems As if some marvellous empty sea-shell flung Out of the obscure dark of the rich streams, And not a fountain, were the symbol which Shadows the inherited glory of the rich.
Some violent bitter man, some powerful man Called architect and artist in, that they, Bitter and violent men, might rear in stone The sweetness that all longed for night and day, The gentleness none there had ever known; But when the master's buried mice can play.
And maybe the great-grandson of that house, For all its bronze and marble, 's but a mouse.
O what if gardens where the peacock strays With delicate feet upon old terraces, Or else all Juno from an urn displays Before the indifferent garden deities; O what if levelled lawns and gravelled ways Where slippered Contemplation finds his ease And Childhood a delight for every sense, But take our greatness with our violence? What if the glory of escutcheoned doors, And buildings that a haughtier age designed, The pacing to and fro on polished floors Amid great chambers and long galleries, lined With famous portraits of our ancestors; What if those things the greatest of mankind Consider most to magnify, or to bless, But take our greatness with our bitterness? II.
My House An ancient bridge, and a more ancient tower, A farmhouse that is sheltered by its wall, An acre of stony ground, Where the symbolic rose can break in flower, Old ragged elms, old thorns innumerable, The sound of the rain or sound Of every wind that blows; The stilted water-hen Crossing Stream again Scared by the splashing of a dozen cows; A winding stair, a chamber arched with stone, A grey stone fireplace with an open hearth, A candle and written page.
Il Penseroso's Platonist toiled on In some like chamber, shadowing forth How the daemonic rage Imagined everything.
Benighted travellers From markets and from fairs Have seen his midnight candle glimmering.
Two men have founded here.
A man-at-arms Gathered a score of horse and spent his days In this tumultuous spot, Where through long wars and sudden night alarms His dwinding score and he seemed castaways Forgetting and forgot; And I, that after me My bodily heirs may find, To exalt a lonely mind, Befitting emblems of adversity.
III.
My Table Two heavy trestles, and a board Where Sato's gift, a changeless sword, By pen and paper lies, That it may moralise My days out of their aimlessness.
A bit of an embroidered dress Covers its wooden sheath.
Chaucer had not drawn breath When it was forged.
In Sato's house, Curved like new moon, moon-luminous It lay five hundred years.
Yet if no change appears No moon; only an aching heart Conceives a changeless work of art.
Our learned men have urged That when and where 'twas forged A marvellous accomplishment, In painting or in pottery, went From father unto son And through the centuries ran And seemed unchanging like the sword.
Soul's beauty being most adored, Men and their business took Me soul's unchanging look; For the most rich inheritor, Knowing that none could pass Heaven's door, That loved inferior art, Had such an aching heart That he, although a country's talk For silken clothes and stately walk.
Had waking wits; it seemed Juno's peacock screamed.
IV.
My Descendants Having inherited a vigorous mind From my old fathers, I must nourish dreams And leave a woman and a man behind As vigorous of mind, and yet it seems Life scarce can cast a fragrance on the wind, Scarce spread a glory to the morning beams, But the torn petals strew the garden plot; And there's but common greenness after that.
And what if my descendants lose the flower Through natural declension of the soul, Through too much business with the passing hour, Through too much play, or marriage with a fool? May this laborious stair and this stark tower Become a roofless min that the owl May build in the cracked masonry and cry Her desolation to the desolate sky.
The primum Mobile that fashioned us Has made the very owls in circles move; And I, that count myself most prosperous, Seeing that love and friendship are enough, For an old neighbour's friendship chose the house And decked and altered it for a girl's love, And know whatever flourish and decline These stones remain their monument and mine.
V.
The Road at My Door An affable Irregular, A heavily-built Falstaffian man, Comes cracking jokes of civil war As though to die by gunshot were The finest play under the sun.
A brown Lieutenant and his men, Half dressed in national uniform, Stand at my door, and I complain Of the foul weather, hail and rain, A pear-tree broken by the storm.
I count those feathered balls of soot The moor-hen guides upon the stream.
To silence the envy in my thought; And turn towards my chamber, caught In the cold snows of a dream.
VI.
The Stare's Nest by My Window The bees build in the crevices Of loosening masonry, and there The mother birds bring grubs and flies.
My wall is loosening; honey-bees, Come build in the empty house of the state.
We are closed in, and the key is turned On our uncertainty; somewhere A man is killed, or a house burned, Yet no clear fact to be discerned: Come build in he empty house of the stare.
A barricade of stone or of wood; Some fourteen days of civil war; Last night they trundled down the road That dead young soldier in his blood: Come build in the empty house of the stare.
We had fed the heart on fantasies, The heart's grown brutal from the fare; More Substance in our enmities Than in our love; O honey-bees, Come build in the empty house of the stare.
VII.
I see Phantoms of Hatred and of the Heart's Fullness and of the Coming Emptiness I climb to the tower-top and lean upon broken stone, A mist that is like blown snow is sweeping over all, Valley, river, and elms, under the light of a moon That seems unlike itself, that seems unchangeable, A glittering sword out of the east.
A puff of wind And those white glimmering fragments of the mist sweep by.
Frenzies bewilder, reveries perturb the mind; Monstrous familiar images swim to the mind's eye.
'Vengeance upon the murderers,' the cry goes up, 'Vengeance for Jacques Molay.
' In cloud-pale rags, or in lace, The rage-driven, rage-tormented, and rage-hungry troop, Trooper belabouring trooper, biting at arm or at face, Plunges towards nothing, arms and fingers spreading wide For the embrace of nothing; and I, my wits astray Because of all that senseless tumult, all but cried For vengeance on the murderers of Jacques Molay.
Their legs long, delicate and slender, aquamarine their eyes, Magical unicorns bear ladies on their backs.
The ladies close their musing eyes.
No prophecies, Remembered out of Babylonian almanacs, Have closed the ladies' eyes, their minds are but a pool Where even longing drowns under its own excess; Nothing but stillness can remain when hearts are full Of their own sweetness, bodies of their loveliness.
The cloud-pale unicorns, the eyes of aquamarine, The quivering half-closed eyelids, the rags of cloud or of lace, Or eyes that rage has brightened, arms it has made lean, Give place to an indifferent multitude, give place To brazen hawks.
Nor self-delighting reverie, Nor hate of what's to come, nor pity for what's gone, Nothing but grip of claw, and the eye's complacency, The innumerable clanging wings that have put out the moon.
I turn away and shut the door, and on the stair Wonder how many times I could have proved my worth In something that all others understand or share; But O! ambitious heart, had such a proof drawn forth A company of friends, a conscience set at ease, It had but made us pine the more.
The abstract joy, The half-read wisdom of daemonic images, Suffice the ageing man as once the growing boy.
Written by Sidney Lanier | Create an image from this poem

The Crystal

 At midnight, death's and truth's unlocking time,
When far within the spirit's hearing rolls
The great soft rumble of the course of things --
A bulk of silence in a mask of sound, --
When darkness clears our vision that by day
Is sun-blind, and the soul's a ravening owl
For truth and flitteth here and there about
Low-lying woody tracts of time and oft
Is minded for to sit upon a bough,
Dry-dead and sharp, of some long-stricken tree
And muse in that gaunt place, -- 'twas then my heart,
Deep in the meditative dark, cried out:

"Ye companies of governor-spirits grave,
Bards, and old bringers-down of flaming news
From steep-wall'd heavens, holy malcontents,
Sweet seers, and stellar visionaries, all
That brood about the skies of poesy,
Full bright ye shine, insuperable stars;
Yet, if a man look hard upon you, none
With total lustre blazeth, no, not one
But hath some heinous freckle of the flesh
Upon his shining cheek, not one but winks
His ray, opaqued with intermittent mist
Of defect; yea, you masters all must ask
Some sweet forgiveness, which we leap to give,
We lovers of you, heavenly-glad to meet
Your largesse so with love, and interplight
Your geniuses with our mortalities.
Thus unto thee, O sweetest Shakespeare sole, A hundred hurts a day I do forgive ('Tis little, but, enchantment! 'tis for thee): Small curious quibble; Juliet's prurient pun In the poor, pale face of Romeo's fancied death; Cold rant of Richard; Henry's fustian roar Which frights away that sleep he invocates; Wronged Valentine's unnatural haste to yield; Too-silly shifts of maids that mask as men In faint disguises that could ne'er disguise -- Viola, Julia, Portia, Rosalind; Fatigues most drear, and needless overtax Of speech obscure that had as lief be plain; Last I forgive (with more delight, because 'Tis more to do) the labored-lewd discourse That e'en thy young invention's youngest heir Besmirched the world with.
Father Homer, thee, Thee also I forgive thy sandy wastes Of prose and catalogue, thy drear harangues That tease the patience of the centuries, Thy sleazy scrap of story, -- but a rogue's Rape of a light-o'-love, -- too soiled a patch To broider with the gods.
Thee, Socrates, Thou dear and very strong one, I forgive Thy year-worn cloak, thine iron stringencies That were but dandy upside-down, thy words Of truth that, mildlier spoke, had mainlier wrought.
So, Buddha, beautiful! I pardon thee That all the All thou hadst for needy man Was Nothing, and thy Best of being was But not to be.
Worn Dante, I forgive The implacable hates that in thy horrid hells Or burn or freeze thy fellows, never loosed By death, nor time, nor love.
And I forgive Thee, Milton, those thy comic-dreadful wars Where, armed with gross and inconclusive steel, Immortals smite immortals mortalwise And fill all heaven with folly.
Also thee, Brave Aeschylus, thee I forgive, for that Thine eye, by bare bright justice basilisked, Turned not, nor ever learned to look where Love Stands shining.
So, unto thee, Lucretius mine (For oh, what heart hath loved thee like to this That's now complaining?), freely I forgive Thy logic poor, thine error rich, thine earth Whose graves eat souls and all.
Yea, all you hearts Of beauty, and sweet righteous lovers large: Aurelius fine, oft superfine; mild Saint A Kempis, overmild; Epictetus, Whiles low in thought, still with old slavery tinct; Rapt Behmen, rapt too far; high Swedenborg, O'ertoppling; Langley, that with but a touch Of art hadst sung Piers Plowman to the top Of English songs, whereof 'tis dearest, now, And most adorable; Caedmon, in the morn A-calling angels with the cow-herd's call That late brought up the cattle; Emerson, Most wise, that yet, in finding Wisdom, lost Thy Self, sometimes; tense Keats, with angels' nerves Where men's were better; Tennyson, largest voice Since Milton, yet some register of wit Wanting; -- all, all, I pardon, ere 'tis asked, Your more or less, your little mole that marks You brother and your kinship seals to man.
But Thee, but Thee, O sovereign Seer of time, But Thee, O poets' Poet, Wisdom's Tongue, But Thee, O man's best Man, O love's best Love, O perfect life in perfect labor writ, O all men's Comrade, Servant, King, or Priest, -- What `if' or `yet', what mole, what flaw, what lapse, What least defect or shadow of defect, What rumor, tattled by an enemy, Of inference loose, what lack of grace Even in torture's grasp, or sleep's, or death's, -- Oh, what amiss may I forgive in Thee, Jesus, good Paragon, thou Crystal Christ?"
Written by William Butler Yeats | Create an image from this poem

Vacillation

 I

Between extremities
Man runs his course;
A brand, or flaming breath.
Comes to destroy All those antinomies Of day and night; The body calls it death, The heart remorse.
But if these be right What is joy? II A tree there is that from its topmost bough Is half all glittering flame and half all green Abounding foliage moistened with the dew; And half is half and yet is all the scene; And half and half consume what they renew, And he that Attis' image hangs between That staring fury and the blind lush leaf May know not what he knows, but knows not grief III Get all the gold and silver that you can, Satisfy ambition, animate The trivial days and ram them with the sun, And yet upon these maxims meditate: All women dote upon an idle man Although their children need a rich estate; No man has ever lived that had enough Of children's gratitude or woman's love.
No longer in Lethean foliage caught Begin the preparation for your death And from the fortieth winter by that thought Test every work of intellect or faith, And everything that your own hands have wrought And call those works extravagance of breath That are not suited for such men as come proud, open-eyed and laughing to the tomb.
IV My fiftieth year had come and gone, I sat, a solitary man, In a crowded London shop, An open book and empty cup On the marble table-top.
While on the shop and street I gazed My body of a sudden blazed; And twenty minutes more or less It seemed, so great my happiness, That I was blessed and could bless.
V Although the summer Sunlight gild Cloudy leafage of the sky, Or wintry moonlight sink the field In storm-scattered intricacy, I cannot look thereon, Responsibility so weighs me down.
Things said or done long years ago, Or things I did not do or say But thought that I might say or do, Weigh me down, and not a day But something is recalled, My conscience or my vanity appalled.
VI A rivery field spread out below, An odour of the new-mown hay In his nostrils, the great lord of Chou Cried, casting off the mountain snow, `Let all things pass away.
' Wheels by milk-white asses drawn Where Babylon or Nineveh Rose; some conquer drew rein And cried to battle-weary men, `Let all things pass away.
' From man's blood-sodden heart are sprung Those branches of the night and day Where the gaudy moon is hung.
What's the meaning of all song? `Let all things pass away.
' VII The Soul.
Seek out reality, leave things that seem.
The Heart.
What, be a singer born and lack a theme? The Soul.
Isaiah's coal, what more can man desire? The Heart.
Struck dumb in the simplicity of fire! The Soul.
Look on that fire, salvation walks within.
The Heart.
What theme had Homer but original sin? VIII Must we part, Von Hugel, though much alike, for we Accept the miracles of the saints and honour sanctity? The body of Saint Teresa lies undecayed in tomb, Bathed in miraculous oil, sweet odours from it come, Healing from its lettered slab.
Those self-same hands perchance Eternalised the body of a modern saint that once Had scooped out pharaoh's mummy.
I - though heart might find relief Did I become a Christian man and choose for my belief What seems most welcome in the tomb - play a pre-destined part.
Homer is my example and his unchristened heart.
The lion and the honeycomb, what has Scripture said? So get you gone, Von Hugel, though with blessings on your head.
Written by Homer | Create an image from this poem

The Iliad

http://www.gutenberg.org/files/6130/6130-h/6130-h.html
Written by William Butler Yeats | Create an image from this poem

The Tower

 I

What shall I do with this absurdity -
O heart, O troubled heart - this caricature,
Decrepit age that has been tied to me
As to a dog's tail?
 Never had I more
Excited, passionate, fantastical
Imagination, nor an ear and eye
That more expected the impossible -
No, not in boyhood when with rod and fly,
Or the humbler worm, I climbed Ben Bulben's back
And had the livelong summer day to spend.
It seems that I must bid the Muse go pack, Choose Plato and Plotinus for a friend Until imagination, ear and eye, Can be content with argument and deal In abstract things; or be derided by A sort of battered kettle at the heel.
II I pace upon the battlements and stare On the foundations of a house, or where Tree, like a sooty finger, starts from the earth; And send imagination forth Under the day's declining beam, and call Images and memories From ruin or from ancient trees, For I would ask a question of them all.
Beyond that ridge lived Mrs.
French, and once When every silver candlestick or sconce Lit up the dark mahogany and the wine.
A serving-man, that could divine That most respected lady's every wish, Ran and with the garden shears Clipped an insolent farmer's ears And brought them in a little covered dish.
Some few remembered still when I was young A peasant girl commended by a Song, Who'd lived somewhere upon that rocky place, And praised the colour of her face, And had the greater joy in praising her, Remembering that, if walked she there, Farmers jostled at the fair So great a glory did the song confer.
And certain men, being maddened by those rhymes, Or else by toasting her a score of times, Rose from the table and declared it right To test their fancy by their sight; But they mistook the brightness of the moon For the prosaic light of day - Music had driven their wits astray - And one was drowned in the great bog of Cloone.
Strange, but the man who made the song was blind; Yet, now I have considered it, I find That nothing strange; the tragedy began With Homer that was a blind man, And Helen has all living hearts betrayed.
O may the moon and sunlight seem One inextricable beam, For if I triumph I must make men mad.
And I myself created Hanrahan And drove him drunk or sober through the dawn From somewhere in the neighbouring cottages.
Caught by an old man's juggleries He stumbled, tumbled, fumbled to and fro And had but broken knees for hire And horrible splendour of desire; I thought it all out twenty years ago: Good fellows shuffled cards in an old bawn; And when that ancient ruffian's turn was on He so bewitched the cards under his thumb That all but the one card became A pack of hounds and not a pack of cards, And that he changed into a hare.
Hanrahan rose in frenzy there And followed up those baying creatures towards - O towards I have forgotten what - enough! I must recall a man that neither love Nor music nor an enemy's clipped ear Could, he was so harried, cheer; A figure that has grown so fabulous There's not a neighbour left to say When he finished his dog's day: An ancient bankrupt master of this house.
Before that ruin came, for centuries, Rough men-at-arms, cross-gartered to the knees Or shod in iron, climbed the narrow stairs, And certain men-at-arms there were Whose images, in the Great Memory stored, Come with loud cry and panting breast To break upon a sleeper's rest While their great wooden dice beat on the board.
As I would question all, come all who can; Come old, necessitous.
half-mounted man; And bring beauty's blind rambling celebrant; The red man the juggler sent Through God-forsaken meadows; Mrs.
French, Gifted with so fine an ear; The man drowned in a bog's mire, When mocking Muses chose the country wench.
Did all old men and women, rich and poor, Who trod upon these rocks or passed this door, Whether in public or in secret rage As I do now against old age? But I have found an answer in those eyes That are impatient to be gone; Go therefore; but leave Hanrahan, For I need all his mighty memories.
Old lecher with a love on every wind, Bring up out of that deep considering mind All that you have discovered in the grave, For it is certain that you have Reckoned up every unforeknown, unseeing plunge, lured by a softening eye, Or by a touch or a sigh, Into the labyrinth of another's being; Does the imagination dwell the most Upon a woman won or woman lost? If on the lost, admit you turned aside From a great labyrinth out of pride, Cowardice, some silly over-subtle thought Or anything called conscience once; And that if memory recur, the sun's Under eclipse and the day blotted out.
III It is time that I wrote my will; I choose upstanding men That climb the streams until The fountain leap, and at dawn Drop their cast at the side Of dripping stone; I declare They shall inherit my pride, The pride of people that were Bound neither to Cause nor to State.
Neither to slaves that were spat on, Nor to the tyrants that spat, The people of Burke and of Grattan That gave, though free to refuse - pride, like that of the morn, When the headlong light is loose, Or that of the fabulous horn, Or that of the sudden shower When all streams are dry, Or that of the hour When the swan must fix his eye Upon a fading gleam, Float out upon a long Last reach of glittering stream And there sing his last song.
And I declare my faith: I mock plotinus' thought And cry in plato's teeth, Death and life were not Till man made up the whole, Made lock, stock and barrel Out of his bitter soul, Aye, sun and moon and star, all, And further add to that That, being dead, we rise, Dream and so create Translunar paradise.
I have prepared my peace With learned Italian things And the proud stones of Greece, Poet's imaginings And memories of love, Memories of the words of women, All those things whereof Man makes a superhuman, Mirror-resembling dream.
As at the loophole there The daws chatter and scream, And drop twigs layer upon layer.
When they have mounted up, The mother bird will rest On their hollow top, And so warm her wild nest.
I leave both faith and pride To young upstanding men Climbing the mountain-side, That under bursting dawn They may drop a fly; Being of that metal made Till it was broken by This sedentary trade.
Now shall I make my soul, Compelling it to study In a learned school Till the wreck of body, Slow decay of blood, Testy delirium Or dull decrepitude, Or what worse evil come - The death of friends, or death Of every brilliant eye That made a catch in the breath - Seem but the clouds of the sky When the horizon fades; Or a bird's sleepy cry Among the deepening shades.
Written by Joyce Kilmer | Create an image from this poem

The Proud Poet

 (For Shaemas O Sheel)

One winter night a Devil came and sat upon my bed,
His eyes were full of laughter for his heart was full of crime.
"Why don't you take up fancy work, or embroidery?" he said, "For a needle is as manly a tool as a pen that makes a rhyme!" "You little ugly Devil," said I, "go back to Hell For the idea you express I will not listen to: I have trouble enough with poetry and poverty as well, Without having to pay attention to orators like you.
"When you say of the making of ballads and songs that it is woman's work You forget all the fighting poets that have been in every land.
There was Byron who left all his lady-loves to fight against the Turk, And David, the Singing King of the Jews, who was born with a sword in his hand.
It was yesterday that Rupert Brooke went out to the Wars and died, And Sir Philip Sidney's lyric voice was as sweet as his arm was strong; And Sir Walter Raleigh met the axe as a lover meets his bride, Because he carried in his soul the courage of his song.
"And there is no consolation so quickening to the heart As the warmth and whiteness that come from the lines of noble poetry.
It is strong joy to read it when the wounds of the spirit smart, It puts the flame in a lonely breast where only ashes be.
It is strong joy to read it, and to make it is a thing That exalts a man with a sacreder pride than any pride on earth.
For it makes him kneel to a broken slave and set his foot on a king, And it shakes the walls of his little soul with the echo of God's mirth.
"There was the poet Homer had the sorrow to be blind, Yet a hundred people with good eyes would listen to him all night; For they took great enjoyment in the heaven of his mind, And were glad when the old blind poet let them share his powers of sight.
And there was Heine lying on his mattress all day long, He had no wealth, he had no friends, he had no joy at all, Except to pour his sorrow into little cups of song, And the world finds in them the magic wine that his broken heart let fall.
"And these are only a couple of names from a list of a thousand score Who have put their glory on the world in poverty and pain.
And the title of poet's a noble thing, worth living and dying for, Though all the devils on earth and in Hell spit at me their disdain.
It is stern work, it is perilous work, to thrust your hand in the sun And pull out a spark of immortal flame to warm the hearts of men: But Prometheus, torn by the claws and beaks whose task is never done, Would be tortured another eternity to go stealing fire again.
"
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