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Best Famous Bat Poems

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12
Written by William Butler Yeats | Create an image from this poem

The Phases Of The Moon

 An old man cocked his car upon a bridge;
 He and his friend, their faces to the South,
 Had trod the uneven road.
Their hoots were soiled, Their Connemara cloth worn out of shape; They had kept a steady pace as though their beds, Despite a dwindling and late-risen moon, Were distant still.
An old man cocked his ear.
Aherne.
What made that Sound? Robartes.
A rat or water-hen Splashed, or an otter slid into the stream.
We are on the bridge; that shadow is the tower, And the light proves that he is reading still.
He has found, after the manner of his kind, Mere images; chosen this place to live in Because, it may be, of the candle-light From the far tower where Milton's Platonist Sat late, or Shelley's visionary prince: The lonely light that Samuel Palmer engraved, An image of mysterious wisdom won by toil; And now he seeks in book or manuscript What he shall never find.
Ahernc.
Why should not you Who know it all ring at his door, and speak Just truth enough to show that his whole life Will scarcely find for him a broken crust Of all those truths that are your daily bread; And when you have spoken take the roads again? Robartes.
He wrote of me in that extravagant style He had learnt from pater, and to round his tale Said I was dead; and dead I choose to be.
Aherne.
Sing me the changes of the moon once more; True song, though speech: "mine author sung it me.
' Robartes.
Twenty-and-eight the phases of the moon, The full and the moon's dark and all the crescents, Twenty-and-eight, and yet but six-and-twenty The cradles that a man must needs be rocked in: For there's no human life at the full or the dark.
From the first crescent to the half, the dream But summons to adventure and the man Is always happy like a bird or a beast; But while the moon is rounding towards the full He follows whatever whim's most difficult Among whims not impossible, and though scarred.
As with the cat-o'-nine-tails of the mind, His body moulded from within his body Grows comelier.
Eleven pass, and then Athene takes Achilles by the hair, Hector is in the dust, Nietzsche is born, Because the hero's crescent is the twelfth.
And yet, twice born, twice buried, grow he must, Before the full moon, helpless as a worm.
The thirteenth moon but sets the soul at war In its own being, and when that war's begun There is no muscle in the arm; and after, Under the frenzy of the fourteenth moon, The soul begins to tremble into stillness, To die into the labyrinth of itself! Aherne.
Sing out the song; sing to the end, and sing The strange reward of all that discipline.
Robartes.
All thought becomes an image and the soul Becomes a body: that body and that soul Too perfect at the full to lie in a cradle, Too lonely for the traffic of the world: Body and soul cast out and cast away Beyond the visible world.
Aherne.
All dreams of the soul End in a beautiful man's or woman's body.
Robartes, Have you not always known it? Aherne.
The song will have it That those that we have loved got their long fingers From death, and wounds, or on Sinai's top, Or from some bloody whip in their own hands.
They ran from cradle to cradle till at last Their beauty dropped out of the loneliness Of body and soul.
Robartes.
The lover's heart knows that.
Aherne.
It must be that the terror in their eyes Is memory or foreknowledge of the hour When all is fed with light and heaven is bare.
Robartes.
When the moon's full those creatures of the full Are met on the waste hills by countrymen Who shudder and hurry by: body and soul Estranged amid the strangeness of themselves, Caught up in contemplation, the mind's eye Fixed upon images that once were thought; For separate, perfect, and immovable Images can break the solitude Of lovely, satisfied, indifferent eyes.
And thereupon with aged, high-pitched voice Aherne laughed, thinking of the man within, His sleepless candle and lahorious pen.
Robartes.
And after that the crumbling of the moon.
The soul remembering its loneliness Shudders in many cradles; all is changed, It would be the world's servant, and as it serves, Choosing whatever task's most difficult Among tasks not impossible, it takes Upon the body and upon the soul The coarseness of the drudge.
Aherne.
Before the full It sought itself and afterwards the world.
Robartes.
Because you are forgotten, half out of life, And never wrote a book, your thought is clear.
Reformer, merchant, statesman, learned man, Dutiful husband, honest wife by turn, Cradle upon cradle, and all in flight and all Deformed because there is no deformity But saves us from a dream.
Aherne.
And what of those That the last servile crescent has set free? Robartes.
Because all dark, like those that are all light, They are cast beyond the verge, and in a cloud, Crying to one another like the bats; And having no desire they cannot tell What's good or bad, or what it is to triumph At the perfection of one's own obedience; And yet they speak what's blown into the mind; Deformed beyond deformity, unformed, Insipid as the dough before it is baked, They change their bodies at a word.
Aherne.
And then? Rohartes.
When all the dough has been so kneaded up That it can take what form cook Nature fancies, The first thin crescent is wheeled round once more.
Aherne.
But the escape; the song's not finished yet.
Robartes.
Hunchback and Saint and Fool are the last crescents.
The burning bow that once could shoot an arrow Out of the up and down, the wagon-wheel Of beauty's cruelty and wisdom's chatter - Out of that raving tide - is drawn betwixt Deformity of body and of mind.
Aherne.
Were not our beds far off I'd ring the bell, Stand under the rough roof-timbers of the hall Beside the castle door, where all is stark Austerity, a place set out for wisdom That he will never find; I'd play a part; He would never know me after all these years But take me for some drunken countryman: I'd stand and mutter there until he caught "Hunchback and Sant and Fool,' and that they came Under the three last crescents of the moon.
And then I'd stagger out.
He'd crack his wits Day after day, yet never find the meaning.
And then he laughed to think that what seemed hard Should be so simple - a bat rose from the hazels And circled round him with its squeaky cry, The light in the tower window was put out.
Written by William Blake | Create an image from this poem

Auguries Of Innocence

 To see a world in a grain of sand
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand
And eternity in an hour.
A robin redbreast in a cage Puts all heaven in a rage.
A dove-house filled with doves and pigeons Shudders hell through all its regions.
A dog starved at his master's gate Predicts the ruin of the state.
A horse misused upon the road Calls to heaven for human blood.
Each outcry of the hunted hare A fibre from the brain does tear.
A skylark wounded in the wing, A cherubim does cease to sing.
The game-cock clipped and armed for fight Does the rising sun affright.
Every wolf's and lion's howl Raises from hell a human soul.
The wild deer wandering here and there Keeps the human soul from care.
The lamb misused breeds public strife, And yet forgives the butcher's knife.
The bat that flits at close of eve Has left the brain that won't believe.
The owl that calls upon the night Speaks the unbeliever's fright.
He who shall hurt the little wren Shall never be beloved by men.
He who the ox to wrath has moved Shall never be by woman loved.
The wanton boy that kills the fly Shall feel the spider's enmity.
He who torments the chafer's sprite Weaves a bower in endless night.
The caterpillar on the leaf Repeats to thee thy mother's grief.
Kill not the moth nor butterfly, For the Last Judgment draweth nigh.
He who shall train the horse to war Shall never pass the polar bar.
The beggar's dog and widow's cat, Feed them, and thou wilt grow fat.
The gnat that sings his summer's song Poison gets from Slander's tongue.
The poison of the snake and newt Is the sweat of Envy's foot.
The poison of the honey-bee Is the artist's jealousy.
The prince's robes and beggar's rags Are toadstools on the miser's bags.
A truth that's told with bad intent Beats all the lies you can invent.
It is right it should be so: Man was made for joy and woe; And when this we rightly know Through the world we safely go.
Joy and woe are woven fine, A clothing for the soul divine.
Under every grief and pine Runs a joy with silken twine.
The babe is more than swaddling bands, Throughout all these human lands; Tools were made and born were hands, Every farmer understands.
Every tear from every eye Becomes a babe in eternity; This is caught by females bright And returned to its own delight.
The bleat, the bark, bellow, and roar Are waves that beat on heaven's shore.
The babe that weeps the rod beneath Writes Revenge! in realms of death.
The beggar's rags fluttering in air Does to rags the heavens tear.
The soldier armed with sword and gun Palsied strikes the summer's sun.
The poor man's farthing is worth more Than all the gold on Afric's shore.
One mite wrung from the labourer's hands Shall buy and sell the miser's lands, Or if protected from on high Does that whole nation sell and buy.
He who mocks the infant's faith Shall be mocked in age and death.
He who shall teach the child to doubt The rotting grave shall ne'er get out.
He who respects the infant's faith Triumphs over hell and death.
The child's toys and the old man's reasons Are the fruits of the two seasons.
The questioner who sits so sly Shall never know how to reply.
He who replies to words of doubt Doth put the light of knowledge out.
The strongest poison ever known Came from Caesar's laurel crown.
Nought can deform the human race Like to the armour's iron brace.
When gold and gems adorn the plough To peaceful arts shall Envy bow.
A riddle or the cricket's cry Is to doubt a fit reply.
The emmet's inch and eagle's mile Make lame philosophy to smile.
He who doubts from what he sees Will ne'er believe, do what you please.
If the sun and moon should doubt, They'd immediately go out.
To be in a passion you good may do, But no good if a passion is in you.
The whore and gambler, by the state Licensed, build that nation's fate.
The harlot's cry from street to street Shall weave old England's winding sheet.
The winner's shout, the loser's curse, Dance before dead England's hearse.
Every night and every morn Some to misery are born.
Every morn and every night Some are born to sweet delight.
Some are born to sweet delight, Some are born to endless night.
We are led to believe a lie When we see not through the eye Which was born in a night to perish in a night, When the soul slept in beams of light.
God appears, and God is light To those poor souls who dwell in night, But does a human form display To those who dwell in realms of day.
Written by Ernest Lawrence Thayer | Create an image from this poem

Casey At The Bat

The outlook wasn't brilliant for the Mudville nine that day, 
The score stood four to two, with but one inning more to play.
And then when Cooney died at first, and Barrows did the same, A pall-like silence fell upon the patrons of the game.
A straggling few got up to go in deep despair.
The rest clung to that hope which springs eternal in the human breast.
They thought, "if only Casey could but get a whack at that.
We'd put up even money now, with Casey at the bat.
" But Flynn preceded Casey, as did also Jimmy Blake; and the former was a hoodoo, while the latter was a cake.
So upon that stricken multitude, grim melancholy sat; for there seemed but little chance of Casey getting to the bat.
But Flynn let drive a single, to the wonderment of all.
And Blake, the much despised, tore the cover off the ball.
And when the dust had lifted, and men saw what had occurred, there was Jimmy safe at second and Flynn a-hugging third.
Then from five thousand throats and more there rose a lusty yell; it rumbled through the valley, it rattled in the dell; it pounded through on the mountain and recoiled upon the flat; for Casey, mighty Casey, was advancing to the bat.
There was ease in Casey's manner as he stepped into his place, there was pride in Casey's bearing and a smile lit Casey's face.
And when, responding to the cheers, he lightly doffed his hat, no stranger in the crowd could doubt t'was Casey at the bat.
Ten thousand eyes were on him as he rubbed his hands with dirt.
Five thousand tongues applauded when he wiped them on his shirt.
Then, while the writhing pitcher ground the ball into his hip, defiance flashed in Casey's eye, a sneer curled Casey's lip.
And now the leather-covered sphere came hurtling through the air, and Casey stood a-watching it in haughty grandeur there.
Close by the sturdy batsman the ball unheeded sped -- "That ain't my style," said Casey.
"Strike one!" the umpire said.
From the benches, black with people, there went up a muffled roar, like the beating of the storm waves on a stern and distant shore.
"Kill him! Kill the umpire!" shouted someone on the stand, and it's likely they'd have killed him had not Casey raised his hand.
With a smile of Christian charity, great Casey's visage shone, he stilled the rising tumult, he bade the game go on.
He signaled to the pitcher, and once more the dun sphere flew, but Casey still ignored it, and the umpire said, "Strike two!" "Fraud!" cried the maddened thousands, and echo answered "Fraud!" But one scornful look from Casey and the audience was awed.
They saw his face grow stern and cold, they saw his muscles strain, and they knew that Casey wouldn't let that ball go by again.
The sneer has fled from Casey's lip, the teeth are clenched in hate.
He pounds, with cruel violence, his bat upon the plate.
And now the pitcher holds the ball, and now he lets it go, and now the air is shattered by the force of Casey's blow.
Oh, somewhere in this favored land the sun is shining bright.
The band is playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light.
And, somewhere men are laughing, and little children shout, but there is no joy in Mudville mighty Casey has struck out.
Written by William Vaughn Moody | Create an image from this poem

An Ode in Time of Hesitation

 After seeing at Boston the statue of Robert Gould Shaw, killed while storming Fort Wagner, July 18, 1863, at the head of the first enlisted negro regiment, the Fifty-fourth Massachusetts.
I Before the solemn bronze Saint Gaudens made To thrill the heedless passer's heart with awe, And set here in the city's talk and trade To the good memory of Robert Shaw, This bright March morn I stand, And hear the distant spring come up the land; Knowing that what I hear is not unheard Of this boy soldier and his negro band, For all their gaze is fixed so stern ahead, For all the fatal rhythm of their tread.
The land they died to save from death and shame Trembles and waits, hearing the spring's great name, And by her pangs these resolute ghosts are stirred.
II Through street and mall the tides of people go Heedless; the trees upon the Common show No hint of green; but to my listening heart The still earth doth impart Assurance of her jubilant emprise, And it is clear to my long-searching eyes That love at last has might upon the skies.
The ice is runneled on the little pond; A telltale patter drips from off the trees; The air is touched with southland spiceries, As if but yesterday it tossed the frond Of pendant mosses where the live-oaks grow Beyond Virginia and the Carolines, Or had its will among the fruits and vines Of aromatic isles asleep beyond Florida and the Gulf of Mexico.
III Soon shall the Cape Ann children shout in glee, Spying the arbutus, spring's dear recluse; Hill lads at dawn shall hearken the wild goose Go honking northward over Tennessee; West from Oswego to Sault Sainte-Marie, And on to where the Pictured Rocks are hung, And yonder where, gigantic, wilful, young, Chicago sitteth at the northwest gates, With restless violent hands and casual tongue Moulding her mighty fates, The Lakes shall robe them in ethereal sheen; And like a larger sea, the vital green Of springing wheat shall vastly be outflung Over Dakota and the prairie states.
By desert people immemorial On Arizonan mesas shall be done Dim rites unto the thunder and the sun; Nor shall the primal gods lack sacrifice More splendid, when the white Sierras call Unto the Rockies straightway to arise And dance before the unveiled ark of the year, Sounding their windy cedars as for shawms, Unrolling rivers clear For flutter of broad phylacteries; While Shasta signals to Alaskan seas That watch old sluggish glaciers downward creep To fling their icebergs thundering from the steep, And Mariposa through the purple calms Gazes at far Hawaii crowned with palms Where East and West are met, -- A rich seal on the ocean's bosom set To say that East and West are twain, With different loss and gain: The Lord hath sundered them; let them be sundered yet.
IV Alas! what sounds are these that come Sullenly over the Pacific seas, -- Sounds of ignoble battle, striking dumb The season's half-awakened ecstasies? Must I be humble, then, Now when my heart hath need of pride? Wild love falls on me from these sculptured men; By loving much the land for which they died I would be justified.
My spirit was away on pinions wide To soothe in praise of her its passionate mood And ease it of its ache of gratitude.
Too sorely heavy is the debt they lay On me and the companions of my day.
I would remember now My country's goodliness, make sweet her name.
Alas! what shade art thou Of sorrow or of blame Liftest the lyric leafage from her brow, And pointest a slow finger at her shame? V Lies! lies! It cannot be! The wars we wage Are noble, and our battles still are won By justice for us, ere we lift the gage.
We have not sold our loftiest heritage.
The proud republic hath not stooped to cheat And scramble in the market-place of war; Her forehead weareth yet its solemn star.
Here is her witness: this, her perfect son, This delicate and proud New England soul Who leads despisèd men, with just-unshackled feet, Up the large ways where death and glory meet, To show all peoples that our shame is done, That once more we are clean and spirit-whole.
VI Crouched in the sea fog on the moaning sand All night he lay, speaking some simple word From hour to hour to the slow minds that heard, Holding each poor life gently in his hand And breathing on the base rejected clay Till each dark face shone mystical and grand Against the breaking day; And lo, the shard the potter cast away Was grown a fiery chalice crystal-fine Fulfilled of the divine Great wine of battle wrath by God's ring-finger stirred.
Then upward, where the shadowy bastion loomed Huge on the mountain in the wet sea light, Whence now, and now, infernal flowerage bloomed, Bloomed, burst, and scattered down its deadly seed, -- They swept, and died like freemen on the height, Like freemen, and like men of noble breed; And when the battle fell away at night By hasty and contemptuous hands were thrust Obscurely in a common grave with him The fair-haired keeper of their love and trust.
Now limb doth mingle with dissolvèd limb In nature's busy old democracy To flush the mountain laurel when she blows Sweet by the southern sea, And heart with crumbled heart climbs in the rose: -- The untaught hearts with the high heart that knew This mountain fortress for no earthly hold Of temporal quarrel, but the bastion old Of spiritual wrong, Built by an unjust nation sheer and strong, Expugnable but by a nation's rue And bowing down before that equal shrine By all men held divine, Whereof his band and he were the most holy sign.
VII O bitter, bitter shade! Wilt thou not put the scorn And instant tragic question from thine eye? Do thy dark brows yet crave That swift and angry stave -- Unmeet for this desirous morn -- That I have striven, striven to evade? Gazing on him, must I not deem they err Whose careless lips in street and shop aver As common tidings, deeds to make his cheek Flush from the bronze, and his dead throat to speak? Surely some elder singer would arise, Whose harp hath leave to threaten and to mourn Above this people when they go astray.
Is Whitman, the strong spirit, overworn? Has Whittier put his yearning wrath away? I will not and I dare not yet believe! Though furtively the sunlight seems to grieve, And the spring-laden breeze Out of the gladdening west is sinister With sounds of nameless battle overseas; Though when we turn and question in suspense If these things be indeed after these ways, And what things are to follow after these, Our fluent men of place and consequence Fumble and fill their mouths with hollow phrase, Or for the end-all of deep arguments Intone their dull commercial liturgies -- I dare not yet believe! My ears are shut! I will not hear the thin satiric praise And muffled laughter of our enemies, Bidding us never sheathe our valiant sword Till we have changed our birthright for a gourd Of wild pulse stolen from a barbarian's hut; Showing how wise it is to cast away The symbols of our spiritual sway, That so our hands with better ease May wield the driver's whip and grasp the jailer's keys.
VIII Was it for this our fathers kept the law? This crown shall crown their struggle and their ruth? Are we the eagle nation Milton saw Mewing its mighty youth, Soon to possess the mountain winds of truth, And be a swift familiar of the sun Where aye before God's face his trumpets run? Or have we but the talons and the maw, And for the abject likeness of our heart Shall some less lordly bird be set apart? -- Some gross-billed wader where the swamps are fat? Some gorger in the sun? Some prowler with the bat? IX Ah no! We have not fallen so.
We are our fathers' sons: let those who lead us know! 'T was only yesterday sick Cuba's cry Came up the tropic wind, "Now help us, for we die!" Then Alabama heard, And rising, pale, to Maine and Idaho Shouted a burning word.
Proud state with proud impassioned state conferred, And at the lifting of a hand sprang forth, East, west, and south, and north, Beautiful armies.
Oh, by the sweet blood and young Shed on the awful hill slope at San Juan, By the unforgotten names of eager boys Who might have tasted girls' love and been stung With the old mystic joys And starry griefs, now the spring nights come on, But that the heart of youth is generous, -- We charge you, ye who lead us, Breathe on their chivalry no hint of stain! Turn not their new-world victories to gain! One least leaf plucked for chaffer from the bays Of their dear praise, One jot of their pure conquest put to hire, The implacable republic will require; With clamor, in the glare and gaze of noon, Or subtly, coming as a thief at night, But surely, very surely, slow or soon That insult deep we deeply will requite.
Tempt not our weakness, our cupidity! For save we let the island men go free, Those baffled and dislaureled ghosts Will curse us from the lamentable coasts Where walk the frustrate dead.
The cup of trembling shall be drainèd quite, Eaten the sour bread of astonishment, With ashes of the hearth shall be made white Our hair, and wailing shall be in the tent; Then on your guiltier head Shall our intolerable self-disdain Wreak suddenly its anger and its pain; For manifest in that disastrous light We shall discern the right And do it, tardily.
-- O ye who lead, Take heed! Blindness we may forgive, but baseness we will smite.
Written by Derek Walcott | Create an image from this poem

The Star-Apple Kingdom

 There were still shards of an ancient pastoral 
in those shires of the island where the cattle drank 
their pools of shadow from an older sky, 
surviving from when the landscape copied such objects as 
"Herefords at Sunset in the valley of the Wye.
" The mountain water that fell white from the mill wheel sprinkling like petals from the star-apple trees, and all of the windmills and sugar mills moved by mules on the treadmill of Monday to Monday, would repeat in tongues of water and wind and fire, in tongues of Mission School pickaninnies, like rivers remembering their source, Parish Trelawny, Parish St David, Parish St Andrew, the names afflicting the pastures, the lime groves and fences of marl stone and the cattle with a docile longing, an epochal content.
And there were, like old wedding lace in an attic, among the boas and parasols and the tea-colored daguerreotypes, hints of an epochal happiness as ordered and infinite to the child as the great house road to the Great House down a perspective of casuarinas plunging green manes in time to the horses, an orderly life reduced by lorgnettes day and night, one disc the sun, the other the moon, reduced into a pier glass: nannies diminished to dolls, mahogany stairways no larger than those of an album in which the flash of cutlery yellows, as gamboge as the piled cakes of teatime on that latticed bougainvillea verandah that looked down toward a prospect of Cuyp-like Herefords under a sky lurid as a porcelain souvenir with these words: "Herefords at Sunset in the Valley of the Wye.
" Strange, that the rancor of hatred hid in that dream of slow rivers and lily-like parasols, in snaps of fine old colonial families, curled at the edge not from age of from fire or the chemicals, no, not at all, but because, off at its edges, innocently excluded stood the groom, the cattle boy, the housemaid, the gardeners, the tenants, the good Negroes down in the village, their mouth in the locked jaw of a silent scream.
A scream which would open the doors to swing wildly all night, that was bringing in heavier clouds, more black smoke than cloud, frightening the cattle in whose bulging eyes the Great House diminished; a scorching wind of a scream that began to extinguish the fireflies, that dried the water mill creaking to a stop as it was about to pronounce Parish Trelawny all over, in the ancient pastoral voice, a wind that blew all without bending anything, neither the leaves of the album nor the lime groves; blew Nanny floating back in white from a feather to a chimerical, chemical pin speck that shrank the drinking Herefords to brown porcelain cows on a mantelpiece, Trelawny trembling with dusk, the scorched pastures of the old benign Custos; blew far the decent servants and the lifelong cook, and shriveled to a shard that ancient pastoral of dusk in a gilt-edged frame now catching the evening sun in Jamaica, making both epochs one.
He looked out from the Great House windows on clouds that still held the fragrance of fire, he saw the Botanical Gardens officially drown in a formal dusk, where governors had strolled and black gardeners had smiled over glinting shears at the lilies of parasols on the floating lawns, the flame trees obeyed his will and lowered their wicks, the flowers tightened their fists in the name of thrift, the porcelain lamps of ripe cocoa, the magnolia's jet dimmed on the one circuit with the ginger lilies and left a lonely bulb on the verandah, and, had his mandate extended to that ceiling of star-apple candelabra, he would have ordered the sky to sleep, saying, I'm tired, save the starlight for victories, we can't afford it, leave the moon on for one more hour,and that's it.
But though his power, the given mandate, extended from tangerine daybreaks to star-apple dusks, his hand could not dam that ceaseless torrent of dust that carried the shacks of the poor, to their root-rock music, down the gullies of Yallahs and August Town, to lodge them on thorns of maca, with their rags crucified by cactus, tins, old tires, cartons; from the black Warieka Hills the sky glowed fierce as the dials of a million radios, a throbbing sunset that glowed like a grid where the dread beat rose from the jukebox of Kingston.
He saw the fountains dried of quadrilles, the water-music of the country dancers, the fiddlers like fifes put aside.
He had to heal this malarial island in its bath of bay leaves, its forests tossing with fever, the dry cattle groaning like winches, the grass that kept shaking its head to remember its name.
No vowels left in the mill wheel, the river.
Rock stone.
Rock stone.
The mountains rolled like whales through phosphorous stars, as he swayed like a stone down fathoms into sleep, drawn by that magnet which pulls down half the world between a star and a star, by that black power that has the assassin dreaming of snow, that poleaxes the tyrant to a sleeping child.
The house is rocking at anchor, but as he falls his mind is a mill wheel in moonlight, and he hears, in the sleep of his moonlight, the drowned bell of Port Royal's cathedral, sees the copper pennies of bubbles rising from the empty eye-pockets of green buccaneers, the parrot fish floating from the frayed shoulders of pirates, sea horses drawing gowned ladies in their liquid promenade across the moss-green meadows of the sea; he heard the drowned choirs under Palisadoes, a hymn ascending to earth from a heaven inverted by water, a crab climbing the steeple, and he climbed from that submarine kingdom as the evening lights came on in the institute, the scholars lamplit in their own aquarium, he saw them mouthing like parrot fish, as he passed upward from that baptism, their history lessons, the bubbles like ideas which he could not break: Jamaica was captured by Penn and Venables, Port Royal perished in a cataclysmic earthquake.
Before the coruscating façades of cathedrals from Santiago to Caracas, where penitential archbishops washed the feet of paupers (a parenthetical moment that made the Caribbean a baptismal font, turned butterflies to stone, and whitened like doves the buzzards circling municipal garbage), the Caribbean was borne like an elliptical basin in the hands of acolytes, and a people were absolved of a history which they did not commit; the slave pardoned his whip, and the dispossessed said the rosary of islands for three hundred years, a hymn that resounded like the hum of the sea inside a sea cave, as their knees turned to stone, while the bodies of patriots were melting down walls still crusted with mute outcries of La Revolucion! "San Salvador, pray for us,St.
Thomas, San Domingo, ora pro nobis, intercede for us, Sancta Lucia of no eyes," and when the circular chaplet reached the last black bead of Sancta Trinidad they began again, their knees drilled into stone, where Colon had begun, with San Salvador's bead, beads of black colonies round the necks of Indians.
And while they prayed for an economic miracle, ulcers formed on the municipal portraits, the hotels went up, and the casinos and brothels, and the empires of tobacco, sugar, and bananas, until a black woman, shawled like a buzzard, climbed up the stairs and knocked at the door of his dream, whispering in the ear of the keyhole: "Let me in, I'm finished with praying, I'm the Revolution.
I am the darker, the older America.
" She was as beautiful as a stone in the sunrise, her voice had the gutturals of machine guns across khaki deserts where the cactus flower detonates like grenades, her sex was the slit throat of an Indian, her hair had the blue-black sheen of the crow.
She was a black umbrella blown inside out by the wind of revolution, La Madre Dolorosa, a black rose of sorrow, a black mine of silence, raped wife, empty mother, Aztec virgin transfixed by arrows from a thousand guitars, a stone full of silence, which, if it gave tongue to the tortures done in the name of the Father, would curdle the blood of the marauding wolf, the fountain of generals, poets, and cripples who danced without moving over their graves with each revolution; her Caesarean was stitched by the teeth of machine guns,and every sunset she carried the Caribbean's elliptical basin as she had once carried the penitential napkins to be the footbath of dictators, Trujillo, Machado, and those whose faces had yellowed like posters on municipal walls.
Now she stroked his hair until it turned white, but she would not understand that he wanted no other power but peace, that he wanted a revolution without any bloodshed, he wanted a history without any memory, streets without statues, and a geography without myth.
He wanted no armies but those regiments of bananas, thick lances of cane, and he sobbed,"I am powerless, except for love.
" She faded from him, because he could not kill; she shrunk to a bat that hung day and night in the back of his brain.
He rose in his dream.
(to be continued)
Written by Sylvia Plath | Create an image from this poem

Lesbos

 Viciousness in the kitchen!
The potatoes hiss.
It is all Hollywood, windowless, The fluorescent light wincing on and off like a terrible migraine, Coy paper strips for doors -- Stage curtains, a widow's frizz.
And I, love, am a pathological liar, And my child -- look at her, face down on the floor, Little unstrung puppet, kicking to disappear -- Why she is schizophrenic, Her face is red and white, a panic, You have stuck her kittens outside your window In a sort of cement well Where they crap and puke and cry and she can't hear.
You say you can't stand her, The bastard's a girl.
You who have blown your tubes like a bad radio Clear of voices and history, the staticky Noise of the new.
You say I should drown the kittens.
Their smell! You say I should drown my girl.
She'll cut her throat at ten if she's mad at two.
The baby smiles, fat snail, From the polished lozenges of orange linoleum.
You could eat him.
He's a boy.
You say your husband is just no good to you.
His Jew-Mama guards his sweet sex like a pearl.
You have one baby, I have two.
I should sit on a rock off Cornwall and comb my hair.
I should wear tiger pants, I should have an affair.
We should meet in another life, we should meet in air, Me and you.
Meanwhile there's a stink of fat and baby crap.
I'm doped and thick from my last sleeping pill.
The smog of cooking, the smog of hell Floats our heads, two venemous opposites, Our bones, our hair.
I call you Orphan, orphan.
You are ill.
The sun gives you ulcers, the wind gives you T.
B.
Once you were beautiful.
In New York, in Hollywood, the men said: 'Through? Gee baby, you are rare.
' You acted, acted for the thrill.
The impotent husband slumps out for a coffee.
I try to keep him in, An old pole for the lightning, The acid baths, the skyfuls off of you.
He lumps it down the plastic cobbled hill, Flogged trolley.
The sparks are blue.
The blue sparks spill, Splitting like quartz into a million bits.
O jewel! O valuable! That night the moon Dragged its blood bag, sick Animal Up over the harbor lights.
And then grew normal, Hard and apart and white.
The scale-sheen on the sand scared me to death.
We kept picking up handfuls, loving it, Working it like dough, a mulatto body, The silk grits.
A dog picked up your doggy husband.
He went on.
Now I am silent, hate Up to my neck, Thick, thick.
I do not speak.
I am packing the hard potatoes like good clothes, I am packing the babies, I am packing the sick cats.
O vase of acid, It is love you are full of.
You know who you hate.
He is hugging his ball and chain down by the gate That opens to the sea Where it drives in, white and black, Then spews it back.
Every day you fill him with soul-stuff, like a pitcher.
You are so exhausted.
Your voice my ear-ring, Flapping and sucking, blood-loving bat.
That is that.
That is that.
You peer from the door, Sad hag.
'Every woman's a whore.
I can't communicate.
' I see your cute décor Close on you like the fist of a baby Or an anemone, that sea Sweetheart, that kleptomaniac.
I am still raw.
I say I may be back.
You know what lies are for.
Even in your Zen heaven we shan't meet.
Written by Carolyn Kizer | Create an image from this poem

The Intruder

 My mother-- preferring the strange to the tame:
Dove-note, bone marrow, deer dung,
Frog's belly distended with finny young,
Leaf-mould wilderness, hare-bell, toadstool,
Odd, small snakes loving through the leaves,
Metallic beetles rambling over stones: all
Wild and natural -flashed out her instinctive love,
and quick, she
Picked up the fluttering.
bleeding bat the cat laid at her feet, And held the little horror to the mirror, where He gazed on himself and shrieked like an old screen door far off.
Depended from her pinched thumb, each wing Came clattering down like a small black shutter.
Still tranquil, she began, "It's rather sweet.
.
.
" The soft mouse body, the hard feral glint In the caught eyes.
Then we saw And recoiled: lice, pallid, yellow, Nested within the wing-pits, cozily sucked and snoozed, The thing dropped from her hands, and with its thud, Swiftly, the cat with a clean careful mouth Closed on the soiled webs, growling, took them out to the back stoop.
But still, dark blood, a sticky puddle on the floor Remained, of all my my mother's tender, wounding passion For a whole wild, lost, betrayed and secret life Among its dens and burrows, its clean stones, Whose denizens can turn upon the world With spitting tongue, an odor, talon, claw To sting or soil benevolence, alien As our clumsy traps, our random scatter of shot, She swept to the kitchen.
Turning on the tap, She washed and washed the pity from her hands.
Written by Robert William Service | Create an image from this poem

The Ballad Of Caseys Billy-Goat

 You've heard of "Casey at The Bat,"
 And "Casey's Tabble Dote";
 But now it's time
 To write a rhyme
 Of "Casey's Billy-goat.
" Pat Casey had a billy-goat he gave the name of Shamus, Because it was (the neighbours said) a national disgrace.
And sure enough that animal was eminently famous For masticating every rag of laundry round the place.
For shirts to skirts prodigiously it proved its powers of chewing; The question of digestion seemed to matter not at all; But you'll agree, I think with me, its limit of misdoing Was reached the day it swallowed Missis Rooney's ould red shawl.
Now Missis Annie Rooney was a winsome widow women, And many a bouncing boy had sought to make her change her name; And living just across the way 'twas surely only human A lonesome man like Casey should be wishfully the same.
So every Sunday, shaved and shined, he'd make the fine occasion To call upon the lady, and she'd take his and coat; And supping tea it seemed that she might yield to his persuasion, But alas! he hadn't counted on that devastating goat.
For Shamus loved his master with a deep and dumb devotion, And everywhere that Casey went that goat would want to go; And though I cannot analyze a quadruped's emotion, They said the baste was jealous, and I reckon it was so.
For every time that Casey went to call on Missis Rooney, Beside the gate the goat would wait with woefulness intense; Until one day it chanced that they were fast becoming spooney, When Shamus spied that ould red shawl a-flutter on the fence.
Now Missis Rooney loved that shawl beyond all rhyme or reason, And maybe 'twas an heirloom or a cherished souvenir; For judging by the way she wore it season after season, I might have been as precious as a product of Cashmere.
So Shamus strolled towards it, and no doubt the colour pleased him, For he biffed it and he sniffed it, as most any goat might do; Then his melancholy vanished as a sense of hunger seized him, And he wagged his tail with rapture as he started in to chew.
"Begorrah! you're a daisy," said the doting Mister Casey to the blushing Widow Rooney as they parted at the door.
"Wid yer tinderness an' tazin' sure ye've set me heart a-blazin', And I dread the day I'll nivver see me Anniw anny more.
" "Go on now wid yer blarney," said the widow softly sighing; And she went to pull his whiskers, when dismay her bosom smote.
.
.
.
Her ould red shawl! 'Twas missin' where she'd left it bravely drying - Then she saw it disappearing - down the neck of Casey's goat.
Fiercely flamed her Irish temper, "Look!" says she, "The thavin' divvle! Sure he's made me shawl his supper.
Well, I hope it's to his taste; But excuse me, Mister Casey, if I seem to be oncivil, For I'll nivver wed a man wid such a misbegotten baste.
" So she slammed the door and left him in a state of consternation, And he couldn't understand it, till he saw that grinning goat: Then with eloquence he cussed it, and his final fulmination Was a poem of profanity impossible to quote.
So blasting goats and petticoats and feeling downright sinful, Despairfully he wandered in to Shinnigan's shebeen; And straightway he proceeded to absorb a might skinful Of the deadliest variety of Shinnigan's potheen.
And when he started homeward it was in the early morning, But Shamus followed faithfully, a yard behind his back; Then Casey slipped and stumbled, and without the slightest warning like a lump of lead he tumbled - right across the railroad track.
And there he lay, serenely, and defied the powers to budge him, Reposing like a baby, with his head upon the rail; But Shamus seemed unhappy, and from time to time would nudge him, Though his prods to protestation were without the least avail.
Then to that goatish mind, maybe, a sense of fell disaster Came stealing like a spectre in the dim and dreary dawn; For his bleat of warning blended with the snoring of his master In a chorus of calamity - but Casey slumbered on.
Yet oh, that goat was troubled, for his efforts were redoubled; Now he tugged at Casey's whisker, now he nibbled at his ear; Now he shook him by the shoulder, and with fear become bolder, He bellowed like a fog-horn, but the sleeper did not hear.
Then up and down the railway line he scampered for assistance; But anxiously he hurried back and sought with tug and strain To pull his master off the track .
.
.
when sudden! in the distance He heard the roar and rumble of the fast approaching train.
Did Shamus faint and falter? No, he stood there stark and splendid.
True, his tummy was distended, but he gave his horns a toss.
By them his goathood's honour would be gallantly defended, And if their valour failed him - he would perish with his boss So dauntlessly he lowered his head, and ever clearer, clearer, He heard the throb and thunder of the Continental Mail.
He would face the mighty monster.
It was coming nearer, nearer; He would fight it, he would smite it, but he'd never show his tail.
Can you see that hirsute hero, standing there in tragic glory? Can you hear the Pullman porters shrieking horror to the sky? No, you can't; because my story has no end so grim and gory, For Shamus did not perish and his master did not die.
At this very present moment Casey swaggers hale and hearty, And Shamus strolls beside him with a bright bell at his throat; While recent Missis Rooney is the gayest of the party, For now she's Missis Casey and she's crazy for that goat.
You're wondering what happened? Well, you know that truth is stranger Than the wildest brand of fiction, so Ill tell you without shame.
.
.
.
There was Shamus and his master in the face of awful danger, And the giant locomotive dashing down in smoke and flame.
.
.
.
What power on earth could save them? Yet a golden inspiration To gods and goats alike may come, so in that brutish brain A thought was born - the ould red shawl.
.
.
.
Then rearing with elation, Like lightning Shamus threw it up - AND FLAGGED AND STOPPED THE TRAIN.
Written by Stephen Dunn | Create an image from this poem

The Sudden Light And The Trees

 My neighbor was a biker, a pusher, a dog
and wife beater.
In bad dreams I killed him and once, in the consequential light of day, I called the Humane Society about Blue, his dog.
They took her away and I readied myself, a baseball bat inside my door.
That night I hear his wife scream and I couldn't help it, that pathetic relief; her again, not me.
It would be years before I'd understand why victims cling and forgive.
I plugged in the Sleep-Sound and it crashed like the ocean all the way to sleep.
One afternoon I found him on the stoop, a pistol in his hand, waiting, he said, for me.
A sparrow had gotten in to our common basement.
Could he have permission to shoot it? The bullets, he explained, might go through the floor.
I said I'd catch it, wait, give me a few minutes and, clear-eyed, brilliantly afraid, I trapped it with a pillow.
I remember how it felt when I got my hand, and how it burst that hand open when I took it outside, a strength that must have come out of hopelessness and the sudden light and the trees.
And I remember the way he slapped the gun against his open palm, kept slapping it, and wouldn't speak.
Written by A R Ammons | Create an image from this poem

Shit List; Or Omnium-gatherum Of Diversity Into Unity

 You'll rejoice at how many kinds of **** there are:
gosling **** (which J.
Williams said something was as green as), fish **** (the generality), trout ****, rainbow trout **** (for the nice), mullet ****, sand dab ****, casual sloth ****, elephant **** (awesome as process or payload), wildebeest ****, horse **** (a favorite), caterpillar **** (so many dark kinds, neatly pelleted as mint seed), baby rhinoceros ****, splashy jaybird ****, mockingbird **** (dive-bombed with the aim of song), robin **** that oozes white down lawnchairs or down roots under roosts, chicken **** and chicken mite ****, pelican ****, gannet **** (wholesome guano), fly **** (periodic), cockatoo ****, dog **** (past catalog or assimilation), cricket ****, elk (high plains) ****, and tiny scribbled little shrew ****, whale **** (what a sight, deep assumption), mandril **** (blazing blast off), weasel **** (wiles' waste), gazelle ****, magpie **** (total protein), tiger **** (too acid to contemplate), moral eel and manta ray ****, eerie shark ****, earthworm **** (a soilure), crab ****, wolf **** upon the germicidal ice, snake ****, giraffe **** that accelerates, secretary bird ****, turtle **** suspension invites, remora **** slightly in advance of the shark ****, hornet **** (difficult to assess), camel **** that slaps the ghastly dry siliceous, frog ****, beetle ****, bat **** (the marmoreal), contemptible cat ****, penguin ****, hermit crab ****, prairie hen ****, cougar ****, eagle **** (high totem stuff), buffalo **** (hardly less lofty), otter ****, beaver **** (from the animal of alluvial dreams)—a vast ordure is a broken down cloaca—macaw ****, alligator **** (that floats the Nile along), louse ****, macaque, koala, and coati ****, antelope ****, chuck-will's-widow ****, alpaca **** (very high stuff), gooney bird ****, chigger ****, bull **** (the classic), caribou ****, rasbora, python, and razorbill ****, scorpion ****, man ****, laswing fly larva ****, chipmunk ****, other-worldly wallaby ****, gopher **** (or broke), platypus ****, aardvark ****, spider ****, kangaroo and peccary ****, guanaco ****, dolphin ****, aphid ****, baboon **** (that leopards induce), albatross ****, red-headed woodpecker (nine inches long) ****, tern ****, hedgehog ****, panda ****, seahorse ****, and the **** of the wasteful gallinule.
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