Alice Walker |
We alone can devalue gold
by not caring
if it falls or rises
in the marketplace.
Wherever there is gold
there is a chain, you know,
and if your chain
so much the worse
and sea-shaped stones
are all as rare.
This could be our revolution:
to love what is plentiful
as much as
Lucy Maud Montgomery |
Come, for the dusk is our own; let us fare forth together,
With a quiet delight in our hearts for the ripe, still, autumn weather,
Through the rustling valley and wood and over the crisping meadow,
Under a high-sprung sky, winnowed of mist and shadow.
Sharp is the frosty air, and through the far hill-gaps showing
Lucent sunset lakes of crocus and green are glowing;
'Tis the hour to walk at will in a wayward, unfettered roaming,
Caring for naught save the charm, elusive and swift, of the gloaming.
Watchful and stirless the fields as if not unkindly holding
Harvested joys in their clasp, and to their broad bosoms folding
Baby hopes of a Spring, trusted to motherly keeping,
Thus to be cherished and happed through the long months of their sleeping.
Silent the woods are and gray; but the firs than ever are greener,
Nipped by the frost till the tang of their loosened balsam is keener;
And one little wind in their boughs, eerily swaying and swinging,
Very soft and low, like a wandering minstrel is singing.
Beautiful is the year, but not as the springlike maiden
Garlanded with her hopesrather the woman laden
With wealth of joy and grief, worthily won through living,
Wearing her sorrow now like a garment of praise and thanksgiving.
Gently the dark comes down over the wild, fair places,
The whispering glens in the hills, the open, starry spaces;
Rich with the gifts of the night, sated with questing and dreaming,
We turn to the dearest of paths where the star of the homelight is gleaming.
Edgar Lee Masters |
I went up and down the streets
Here and there by day and night,
Through all hours of the night caring for the poor who were sick.
Do you know why?
My wife hated me, my son went to the dogs.
And I turned to the people and poured out my love to them.
Sweet it was to see the crowds about the lawns on the day of my funeral,
And hear them murmur their love and sorrow.
But oh, dear God, my soul trembled, scarcely able
To hold to the railing of the new life
When I saw Em Stanton behind the oak tree
At the grave,
Hiding herself, and her grief!
Robert Frost |
A lantern light from deeper in the barn
Shone on a man and woman in the door
And threw their lurching shadows on a house
Near by, all dark in every glossy window.
A horse's hoof pawed once the hollow floor,
And the back of the gig they stood beside
Moved in a little.
The man grasped a wheel,
The woman spoke out sharply, "Whoa, stand still!"
"I saw it just as plain as a white plate,"
She said, "as the light on the dashboard ran
Along the bushes at the roadside--a man's face.
You must have seen it too.
"I didn't see it.
Are you sure----"
"Yes, I'm sure!"
"--it was a face?"
"Joel, I'll have to look.
I can't go in,
I can't, and leave a thing like that unsettled.
Doors locked and curtains drawn will make no difference.
I always have felt strange when we came home
To the dark house after so long an absence,
And the key rattled loudly into place
Seemed to warn someone to be getting out
At one door as we entered at another.
What if I'm right, and someone all the time--
Don't hold my arm!"
"I say it's someone passing.
"You speak as if this were a travelled road.
You forget where we are.
What is beyond
That he'd be going to or coming from
At such an hour of night, and on foot too.
What was he standing still for in the bushes?"
"It's not so very late--it's only dark.
There's more in it than you're inclined to say.
Did he look like----?"
"He looked like anyone.
I'll never rest to-night unless I know.
Give me the lantern.
"You don't want the lantern.
She pushed past him and got it for herself.
"You're not to come," she said.
"This is my business.
If the time's come to face it, I'm the one
To put it the right way.
He'd never dare--
Listen! He kicked a stone.
Hear that, hear that!
He's coming towards us.
Joel, go in--please.
Hark!--I don't hear him now.
But please go in.
"In the first place you can't make me believe it's----"
"It is--or someone else he's sent to watch.
And now's the time to have it out with him
While we know definitely where he is.
Let him get off and he'll be everywhere
Around us, looking out of trees and bushes
Till I sha'n't dare to set a foot outdoors.
And I can't stand it.
Joel, let me go!"
"But it's nonsense to think he'd care enough.
"You mean you couldn't understand his caring.
Oh, but you see he hadn't had enough--
Joel, I won't--I won't--I promise you.
We mustn't say hard things.
You mustn't either.
"I'll be the one, if anybody goes!
But you give him the advantage with this light.
What couldn't he do to us standing here!
And if to see was what he wanted, why
He has seen all there was to see and gone.
He appeared to forget to keep his hold,
But advanced with her as she crossed the grass.
"What do you want?" she cried to all the dark.
She stretched up tall to overlook the light
That hung in both hands hot against her skirt.
"There's no one; so you're wrong," he said.
What do you want?" she cried, and then herself
Was startled when an answer really came.
" It came from well along the road.
She reached a hand to Joel for support:
The smell of scorching woollen made her faint.
"What are you doing round this house at night?"
" A pause: there seemed no more to say.
And then the voice again: "You seem afraid.
I saw by the way you whipped up the horse.
I'll just come forward in the lantern light
And let you see.
--Joel, go back!"
She stood her ground against the noisy steps
That came on, but her body rocked a little.
"You see," the voice said.
" She looked and looked.
"You don't see--I've a child here by the hand.
"What's a child doing at this time of night----?"
Every child should have the memory
Of at least one long-after-bedtime walk.
"Then I should think you'd try to find
Somewhere to walk----"
"The highway as it happens--
We're stopping for the fortnight down at Dean's.
"But if that's all--Joel--you realize--
You won't think anything.
You understand that we have to be careful.
This is a very, very lonely place.
Joel!" She spoke as if she couldn't turn.
The swinging lantern lengthened to the ground,
It touched, it struck it, clattered and went out.
Rudyard Kipling |
We've sent our little Cupids all ashore --
They were frightened, they were tired, they were cold:
Our sails of silk and purple go to store,
And we've cut away our mast of beaten gold
Oh 'tis hemp and singing pine for to stand against the brine,
But Love he is our master as of old!
The sea has shorn our galleries away,
The salt has soiled our gilding past remede;
Our paint is flaked and blistered by the spray,
Our sides are half a fathom furred in weed
And the Doves of Venus fled and the petrels came instead,
But Love he was our master at our need!
'Was Youth would keep no vigil at the bow,
'Was Pleasure at the helm too drunk to steer --
We've shipped three able quartermasters now.
Men call them Custom, Reverence, and Fear
They are old and scarred and plain, but we'll run no risk again
From any Port o' Paphos mutineer!
We seek no more the tempest for delight,
We skirt no more the indraught and the shoal --
We ask no more of any day or night
Than to come with least adventure to our goal
What we find we needs must brook, but we do not go to look,
Nor tempt the Lord our God that saved us whole.
Yet, caring so, not overmuch we care
To brace and trim for every foolish blast,
If the squall be pleased to seep us unaware,
He may bellow off to leeward like the last
We will blame it on the deep (for the watch must have their sleep),
And Love can come and wake us when 'tis past.
Oh launch them down with music from the beach,
Oh warp them out with garlands from the quays --
Most resolute -- a damsel unto each --
New prows that seek the old Hesperides!
Though we know their voyage is vain, yet we see our path again
In the saffroned bridesails scenting all the seas!
Robert Frost |
A house that lacks, seemingly, mistress and master,
With doors that none but the wind ever closes,
Its floor all littered with glass and with plaster;
It stands in a garden of old-fashioned roses.
I pass by that way in the gloaming with Mary;
'I wonder,' I say, 'who the owner of those is.
'Oh, no one you know,' she answers me airy,
'But one we must ask if we want any roses.
So we must join hands in the dew coming coldly
There in the hush of the wood that reposes,
And turn and go up to the open door boldly,
And knock to the echoes as beggars for roses.
'Pray, are you within there, Mistress Who-were-you?'
'Tis Mary that speaks and our errand discloses.
'Pray, are you within there? Bestir you, bestir you!
'Tis summer again; there's two come for roses.
'A word with you, that of the singer recalling--
Old Herrick: a saying that every maid knows is
A flower unplucked is but left to the falling,
And nothing is gained by not gathering roses.
We do not loosen our hands' intertwining
(Not caring so very much what she supposes),
There when she comes on us mistily shining
And grants us by silence the boon of her roses.
Stanley Kunitz |
When his boat snapped loose
from its mooring, under
the screaking of the gulls,
he tried at first to wave
to his dear ones on shore,
but in the rolling fog
they had already lost their faces.
Too tired even to choose
between jumping and calling,
somehow he felt absolved and free
of his burdens, those mottoes
stamped on his name-tag:
conscience, ambition, and all
He was content to lie down
with the family ghosts
in the slop of his cradle,
buffeted by the storm,
To be rocked by the Infinite!
As if it didn't matter
which way was home;
as if he didn't know
he loved the earth so much
he wanted to stay forever.
Robert Frost |
Having a wheel and four legs of its own
Has never availed the cumbersome grindstone
To get it anywhere that I can see.
These hands have helped it go, and even race;
Not all the motion, though, they ever lent,
Not all tke miles it may have thought it went,
Have got it one step from the starting place.
It stands beside the same old apple tree.
The shadow of the apple tree is thin
Upon it now its feet as fast in snow.
All other farm machinery's gone in,
And some of it on no more legs and wheel
Than the grindstone can boast to stand or go.
(I'm thinking chiefly of the wheelbarrow.
For months it hasn't known the taste of steel
Washed down with rusty water in a tin.
But standing outdoors hungry, in the cold,
Except in towns at night is not a sin.
And> anyway, it's standing in the yard
Under a ruinous live apple tree
Has nothing any more to do with me,
Except that I remember how of old
One summer day, all day I drove it hard,
And someone mounted on it rode it hard
And he and I between us ground a blade.
I gave it the preliminary spin
And poured on water (tears it might have been);
And when it almost gaily jumped and flowed,
A Father-Time-like man got on and rode,
Armed with a scythe and spectacles that glowed.
He turned on will-power to increase the load
And slow me down -- and I abruptly slowed,
Like coming to a sudden railroad station.
I changed from hand to hand in desperation.
I wondered what machine of ages gone
This represented an improvement on.
For all I knew it may have sharpened spears
And arrowheads itself.
Had gradually worn it an oblate
Spheroid that kicked and struggled in its gait,
Appearing to return me hate for hate;
(But I forgive it now as easily
As any other boyhood enemy
Whose pride has failed to get him anywhere).
I wondered who it was the man thought ground
-The one who held the wheel back or the one
Who gave his life to keep it going round?
· I wondered if he really thought it fair
For him to have the say when we were done.
Such were the bitter thoughts to which I turned.
Not for myself was I so much concerned
Oh no --Although, of course, I could have found
A better way to pass the afternoon
Than grinding discord out of a grindstone,
And beating insects at their gritty tune.
Nor was I for the man so much concerned.
Once when the grindstone almost jumped its bearing
It looked as if he might be badly thrown
And wounded on his blade.
So far from caring,
I laughed inside, and only cranked the faster
(It ran as if it wasn't greased but glued);
I'd welcome any moderate disaster
That might be calculated to postpone
What evidently nothing could conclude.
The thing that made me more and more afraid
Was that we'd ground it sharp and hadn't known,
And now were only wasting precious blade.
And when he raised it dripping once and tried
The creepy edge of it with wary touch
And viewed it over his glasses funny-eyed,
Only disinterestedly to decide
It needed a turn more, I could have cried
Wasn't there a danger of a turn too much?
Mightn't we make it worse instead of better?
I was for leaving something to the whettot.
What if it wasn't all it should be? I'd
Be satisfied if he'd be satisfied.
Edwin Arlington Robinson |
He turned aside to see the carcase of the lion: and behold, there was a swarm of bees and honey in the carcase of the lion … And the men of the city said unto him, What is sweeter than honey? and what is stronger than a lion?—Judges, 14.
The palms of Mammon have disowned
The gift of our complacency;
The bells of ages have intoned
Again their rhythmic irony;
And from the shadow, suddenly,
’Mid echoes of decrepit rage,
The seer of our necessity
Confronts a Tyrian heritage.
Equipped with unobscured intent
He smiles with lions at the gate,
Acknowledging the compliment
Like one familiar with his fate;
The lions, having time to wait,
Perceive a small cloud in the skies,
Whereon they look, disconsolate,
With scared, reactionary eyes.
A shadow falls upon the land,—
They sniff, and they are like to roar;
For they will never understand
What they have never seen before.
They march in order to the door,
Not knowing the best thing to seek,
Nor caring if the gods restore
The lost composite of the Greek.
The shadow fades, the light arrives,
And ills that were concealed are seen;
The combs of long-defended hives
Now drip dishonored and unclean;
No Nazarite or Nazarene
Compels our questioning to prove
The difference that is between
Dead lions—or the sweet thereof.
But not for lions, live or dead,
Except as we are all as one,
Is he the world’s accredited
Revealer of what we have done;
What You and I and Anderson
Are still to do is his reward;
If we go back when he is gone—
There is an Angel with a Sword.
He cannot close again the doors
That now are shattered for our sake;
He cannot answer for the floors
We crowd on, or for walls that shake;
He cannot wholly undertake
The cure of our immunity;
He cannot hold the stars, or make
Of seven years a century.
So Time will give us what we earn
Who flaunt the handful for the whole,
And leave us all that we may learn
Who read the surface for the soul;
And we’ll be steering to the goal,
For we have said so to our sons:
When we who ride can pay the toll,
Time humors the far-seeing ones.
Down to our nose’s very end
We see, and are invincible,—
Too vigilant to comprehend
The scope of what we cannot sell;
But while we seem to know as well
As we know dollars, or our skins,
The Titan may not always tell
Just where the boundary begins.
Philip Larkin |
Those long uneven lines
Standing as patiently
As if they were stretched outside
The Oval or Villa Park
The crowns of hats the sun
On moustached archaic faces
Grinning as if it were all
An August bank Holiday lark;
And the shut shops the bleached
Established names on the sunblinds
The farthings and sovereigns
Adn dark-clothed children at play
Called after kings and queens
The tin advertisements
For cocoa and twist and the pubs
Wide open all day;
And the countryside ont caring:
The place-names all hazed over
With flowering grasses and fields
Shadowing Domesday lines
Under wheat's restless silence;
The differently-dressed servants
With tiny rooms in huge houses
The dust behind limousines;
Never such innocence
Never before or since
As changed itself to past
Without a word--the men
Leaving the gardens tidy
The thousands of marriages
Lasting a littlewhile longer:
Never such innocence again.