William Carlos (WCW) Williams |
A middle-northern March, now as always—
gusts from the South broken against cold winds—
but from under, as if a slow hand lifted a tide,
it moves—not into April—into a second March,
the old skin of wind-clear scales dropping
upon the mold: this is the shadow projects the tree
upward causing the sun to shine in his sphere.
So we will put on our pink felt hat—new last year!
—newer this by virtue of brown eyes turning back
the seasons—and let us walk to the orchid-house,
see the flowers will take the prize tomorrow
at the Palace.
Stop here, these are our oleanders.
When they are in bloom—
You would waste words
It is clearer to me than if the pink
were on the branch.
It would be a searching in
a colored cloud to reveal that which now, huskless,
shows the very reason for their being.
And these the orange-trees, in blossom—no need
to tell with this weight of perfume in the air.
If it were not so dark in this shed one could better
see the white.
It is that very perfume
has drawn the darkness down among the leaves.
Do I speak clearly enough?
It is this darkness reveals that which darkness alone
loosens and sets spinning on waxen wings—
not the touch of a finger-tip, not the motion
of a sigh.
A too heavy sweetness proves
its own caretaker.
And here are the orchids!
Never having seen
such gaiety I will read these flowers for you:
This is an odd January, died—in Villon's time.
Snow, this is and this the stain of a violet
grew in that place the spring that foresaw its own doom.
And this, a certain July from Iceland:
a young woman of that place
breathed it toward the South.
It took root there.
The color ran true but the plant is small.
This falling spray of snow-flakes is
a handful of dead Februaries
prayed into flower by Rafael Arevalo Martinez
Here's that old friend who
went by my side so many years: this full, fragile
head of veined lavender.
Oh that April
that we first went with our stiff lusts
leaving the city behind, out to the green hill—
May, they said she was.
A hand for all of us:
this branch of blue butterflies tied to this stem.
June is a yellow cup I'll not name; August
the over-heavy one.
And here are—
russet and shiny, all but March.
Flowers are a tiresome pastime.
One has a wish to shake them from their pots
root and stem, for the sun to gnaw.
Walk out again into the cold and saunter home
to the fire.
This day has blossomed long enough.
I have wiped out the red night and lit a blaze
instead which will at least warm our hands
and stir up the talk.
I think we have kept fair time.
Time is a green orchard.
Alexander Pushkin |
In alien lands I keep the body
Of ancient native rites and things:
I gladly free a little birdie
At celebration of the spring.
I'm now free for consolation,
And thankful to almighty Lord:
At least, to one of his creations
I've given freedom in this world!
Sylvia Plath |
for Susan O'Neill Roe
What a thrill ----
My thumb instead of an onion.
The top quite gone
Except for a sort of hinge
A flap like a hat,
Then that red plush.
The Indian's axed your scalp.
Your turkey wattle
Straight from the heart.
I step on it,
Clutching my bottle
Of pink fizz.
A celebration, this is.
Out of a gap
A million soldiers run,
Redcoats, every one.
Whose side are they one?
Homunculus, I am ill.
I have taken a pill to kill
Kamikaze man ----
The stain on your
Gauze Ku Klux Klan
Darkens and tarnishes and when
Pulp of your heart
Confronts its small
Mill of silence
How you jump ----
Denise Levertov |
Brilliant, this day – a young virtuoso of a day.
Morning shadow cut by sharpest scissors,
And every prodigy of green –
whether it's ferns or lichens or needles
or impatient points of buds on spindly bushes –
greener than ever before.
And the way the conifers
hold new cones to the light for the blessing,
a festive right, and sing the oceanic chant the wind
transcribes for them!
A day that shines in the cold
like a first-prize brass band swinging along
of a coal-dusty village, wholly at odds
with the claims of reasonable gloom.
John Dryden |
Consecrated to the Glorious Memory of His
Most Serene and Renowned Highness, Oliver,
Late Lord Protector of This Commonwealth, etc.
Written After the Celebration of his Funeral
And now 'tis time; for their officious haste,
Who would before have borne him to the sky,
Like eager Romans ere all rites were past
Did let too soon the sacred eagle fly.
Though our best notes are treason to his fame
Join'd with the loud applause of public voice;
Since Heav'n, what praise we offer to his name,
Hath render'd too authentic by its choice;
Though in his praise no arts can liberal be,
Since they whose Muses have the highest flown
Add not to his immortal memory,
But do an act of friendship to their own;
Yet 'tis our duty and our interest too
Such monuments as we can build to raise,
Lest all the world prevent what we should do
And claim a title in him by their praise.
How shall I then begin, or where conclude
To draw a fame so truly circular?
For in a round what order can be shew'd,
Where all the parts so equal perfect are?
His grandeur he deriv'd from Heav'n alone,
For he was great ere fortune made him so,
And wars like mists that rise against the sun
Made him but greater seem, not greater grown.
No borrow'd bays his temples did adorn,
But to our crown he did fresh jewels bring.
Nor was his virtue poison'd soon as born
With the too early thoughts of being king.
Fortune (that easy mistress of the young
But to her ancient servant coy and hard)
Him at that age her favorites rank'd among
When she her best-lov'd Pompey did discard.
He, private, mark'd the faults of others' sway,
And set as sea-marks for himself to shun,
Not like rash monarchs who their youth betray
By acts their age too late would wish undone.
And yet dominion was not his design;
We owe that blessing not to him but Heaven,
Which to fair acts unsought rewards did join,
Rewards that less to him than us were given.
Our former chiefs like sticklers of the war
First sought t'inflame the parties, then to poise,
The quarrel lov'd, but did the cause abhor,
And did not strike to hurt but make a noise.
War, our consumption, was their gainfull trade;
We inward bled whilst they prolong'd our pain;
He fought to end our fighting and assay'd
To stanch the blood by breathing of the vein.
Swift and resistless through the land he pass'd
Like that bold Greek who did the east subdue,
And made to battles such heroic haste
As if on wings of victory he flew.
He fought secure of fortune as of fame,
Till by new maps the island might be shown,
Of conquests which he strew'd where'er he came
Thick as a galaxy with stars is sown.
His palms, though under weights they did not stand,
Still thriv'd; no winter could his laurels fade;
Heav'n in his portrait shew'd a workman's hand
And drew it perfect yet without a shade.
Peace was the prize of all his toils and care,
Which war had banish'd and did now restore;
Bologna's walls thus mounted in the air
To seat themselves more surely than before.
Her safety rescu'd Ireland to him owes,
And treacherous Scotland, to no int'rest true,
Yet bless'd that fate which did his arms dispose
Her land to civilize as to subdue.
Nor was he like those stars which only shine
When to pale mariners they storms portend;
He had his calmer influence, and his mien
Did love and majesty together blend.
'Tis true, his count'nance did imprint an awe,
And naturally all souls to his did bow,
As wands of divination downward draw
And points to beds where sov'reign gold doth grow.
When past all offerings to Feretrian Jove,
He Mars depos'd and arms to gowns made yield;
Successful councils did him soon approve
As fit for close intrigues as open field.
To suppliant Holland he vouchsaf'd a peace,
Our once bold rival in the British main,
Now tamely glad her unjust claim to cease
And buy our friendship with her idol, gain.
Fame of th' asserted sea through Europe blown
Made France and Spain ambitious of his love;
Each knew that side must conquer he would own,
And for him fiercely as for empire strove.
No sooner was the Frenchman's cause embrac'd
Than the light monsieur the grave don outweigh'd;
His fortune turn'd the scale where it was cast,
Though Indian mines were in the other laid.
When absent, yet we conquer'd in his right,
For though some meaner artist's skill were shown
In mingling colours, or in placing light,
Yet still the fair designment was his own.
For from all tempers he could service draw;
The worth of each with its alloy he knew,
And as the confidant of Nature saw
How she complexions did divide and brew.
Or he their single virtues did survey
By intuition in his own large breast,
Where all the rich ideas of them lay,
That were the rule and measure to the rest.
When such heroic virtue Heav'n sets out,
The stars like Commons sullenly obey,
Because it drains them when it comes about,
And therefore is a tax they seldom pay.
From this high spring our foreign conquests flow,
Which yet more glorious triumphs do portend,
Since their commencement to his arms they owe,
If springs as high as fountains may ascend.
He made us freemen of the continent
Whom Nature did like captives treat before,
To nobler preys the English lion sent,
And taught him first in Belgian walks to roar.
That old unquestion'd pirate of the land,
Proud Rome, with dread the fate of Dunkirk heard,
And trembling wish'd behind more Alps to stand,
Although an Alexander were here guard.
By his command we boldly cross'd the line
And bravely fought where southern stars arise,
We trac'd the far-fetch'd gold unto the mine
And that which brib'd our fathers made our prize.
Such was our prince; yet own'd a soul above
The highest acts it could produce to show:
Thus poor mechanic arts in public move
Whilst the deep secrets beyond practice go.
Nor di'd he when his ebbing fame went less,
But when fresh laurels courted him to live;
He seem'd but to prevent some new success,
As if above what triumphs earth could give.
His latest victories still thickest came,
As near the center motion does increase,
Till he, press'd down by his own weighty name,
Did, like the vestal, under spoils decrease.
But first the ocean as a tribute sent
That giant prince of all her watery herd,
And th' isle when her protecting genius went
Upon his obsequies loud sighs conferr'd.
No civil broils have since his death arose,
But faction now by habit does obey,
And wars have that respect for his repose,
As winds for halycons when they breed at sea.
His ashes in a peaceful urn shall rest;
His name a great example stands to show
How strangely high endeavours may be blest,
Where piety and valour jointly go.
Thomas Lux |
A man risked his life to write the words.
A man hung upside down (an idiot friend
holding his legs?) with spray paint
to write the words on a girder fifty feet above
And his beloved,
the next morning driving to work.
His words are not (meant to be) so unique.
Does she recognize his handwriting?
Did he hint to her at her doorstep the night before
of "something special, darling, tomorrow"?
And did he call her at work
expecting her to faint with delight
at his celebration of her, his passion, his risk?
She will know I love her now,
the world will know my love for her!
A man risked his life to write the world.
Love is like this at the bone, we hope, love
is like this, Sweatheart, all sore and dumb
and dangerous, ignited, blessed--always,
regardless, no exceptions,
always in blazing matters like these: blessed.
T S (Thomas Stearns) Eliot |
GROWLTIGER was a Bravo Cat, who lived upon a barge;
In fact he was the roughest cat that ever roamed at large.
From Gravesend up to Oxford he pursued his evil aims,
Rejoicing in his title of "The Terror of the Thames.
His manners and appearance did not calculate to please;
His coat was torn and seedy, he was baggy at the knees;
One ear was somewhat missing, no need to tell you why,
And he scowled upon a hostile world from one forbidding eye.
The cottagers of Rotherhithe knew something of his fame,
At Hammersmith and Putney people shuddered at his name.
They would fortify the hen-house, lock up the silly goose,
When the rumour ran along the shore: GROWLTIGER'S ON THE LOOSE!
Woe to the weak canary, that fluttered from its cage;
Woe to the pampered Pekinese, that faced Growltiger's rage.
Woe to the bristly Bandicoot, that lurks on foreign ships,
And woe to any Cat with whom Growltiger came to grips!
But most to Cats of foreign race his hatred had been vowed;
To Cats of foreign name and race no quarter was allowed.
The Persian and the Siamese regarded him with fear--
Because it was a Siamese had mauled his missing ear.
Now on a peaceful summer night, all nature seemed at play,
The tender moon was shining bright, the barge at Molesey lay.
All in the balmy moonlight it lay rocking on the tide--
And Growltiger was disposed to show his sentimental side.
His bucko mate, GRUMBUSKIN, long since had disappeared,
For to the Bell at Hampton he had gone to wet his beard;
And his bosun, TUMBLEBRUTUS, he too had stol'n away-
In the yard behind the Lion he was prowling for his prey.
In the forepeak of the vessel Growltiger sate alone,
Concentrating his attention on the Lady GRIDDLEBONE.
And his raffish crew were sleeping in their barrels and their bunks--
As the Siamese came creeping in their sampans and their junks.
Growltiger had no eye or ear for aught but Griddlebone,
And the Lady seemed enraptured by his manly baritone,
Disposed to relaxation, and awaiting no surprise--
But the moonlight shone reflected from a thousand bright blue eyes.
And closer still and closer the sampans circled round,
And yet from all the enemy there was not heard a sound.
The lovers sang their last duet, in danger of their lives--
For the foe was armed with toasting forks and cruel carving knives.
Then GILBERT gave the signal to his fierce Mongolian horde;
With a frightful burst of fireworks the Chinks they swarmed aboard.
Abandoning their sampans, and their pullaways and junks,
They battened down the hatches on the crew within their bunks.
Then Griddlebone she gave a screech, for she was badly skeered;
I am sorry to admit it, but she quickly disappeared.
She probably escaped with ease, I'm sure she was not drowned--
But a serried ring of flashing steel Growltiger did surround.
The ruthless foe pressed forward, in stubborn rank on rank;
Growltiger to his vast surprise was forced to walk the plank.
He who a hundred victims had driven to that drop,
At the end of all his crimes was forced to go ker-flip, ker-flop.
Oh there was joy in Wapping when the news flew through the land;
At Maidenhead and Henley there was dancing on the strand.
Rats were roasted whole at Brentford, and at Victoria Dock,
And a day of celebration was commanded in Bangkok.
Barry Tebb |
As soon as we crossed into Yorkshire
Hughes’ voice assailed me, unmistakable
Gravel and honey, a raw celebration of rain
Like a tattered lacework window;
Black glisten on roof slates,
Tarmac turned to shining ice,
Blusters of naked wind whipping
The wavelets of shifting water
To imaginary floating islets
On the turbulent river
Glumly he asked, "Where are the mills?"
Knowing their goneness in his lonely heart.
"Where are the mines with their turning spokes,
Lurking slag heaps, bolts of coal split with
Shimmering fools’ gold tumbling into waiting wagons?
Mostly what I came for was a last glimpse
Of the rock hanging over my cot, that towering
Sheerness fifty fathoms high screed with ferns
And failing tree roots, crumbling footholds
And dour smile.
A monument needs to be known
For what it is, not a tourist slot or geological stratum
But the dark mentor loosing wolf’s bane
At my sleeping head.
When the coach lurches over the county boundary,
If not Hughes’ voice then Heaney’s or Hill’s
Ringing like miners’ boots flinging sparks
From the flagstones, piercing the lens of winter,
Jutting like tongues of crooked rock
Lapping a mossed slab, an altar outgrown,
Dumped when the trumpeting hosannas
Had finally riven the air of the valley.
And I, myself, what did I make of it?
The voices coming into my head
Welcoming kin, alive or dead, my eyes
Jerking to the roadside magpie,
Its white tail-bar doing a hop, skip and jump.
Anne Sexton |
Watch out for power,
for its avalanche can bury you,
snow, snow, snow, smothering your mountain.
Watch out for hate,
it can open its mouth and you'll fling yourself out
to eat off your leg, an instant leper.
Watch out for friends,
because when you betray them,
as you will,
they will bury their heads in the toilet
and flush themselves away.
Watch out for intellect,
because it knows so much it knows nothing
and leaves you hanging upside down,
mouthing knowledge as your heart
falls out of your mouth.
Watch out for games, the actor's part,
the speech planned, known, given,
for they will give you away
and you will stand like a naked little boy,
pissing on your own child-bed.
Watch out for love
(unless it is true,
and every part of you says yes including the toes),
it will wrap you up like a mummy,
and your scream won't be heard
and none of your running will end.
Love? Be it man.
Be it woman.
It must be a wave you want to glide in on,
give your body to it, give your laugh to it,
give, when the gravelly sand takes you,
your tears to the land.
To love another is something
like prayer and can't be planned, you just fall
into its arms because your belief undoes your disbelief.
if I were you I'd pay no attention
to admonitions from me,
made somewhat out of your words
and somewhat out of mine.
I do not believe a word I have said,
except some, except I think of you like a young tree
with pasted-on leaves and know you'll root
and the real green thing will come.
Oh special person,
this typewriter likes you on the way to them,
but wants to break crystal glasses
when the dark crust is thrown off
and you float all around
like a happened balloon.
Anna Akhmatova |
I pray to the sunbeam from the window -
It is pale, thin, straight.
Since morning I have been silent,
And my heart - is split.
The copper on my washstand
Has turned green,
But the sunbeam plays on it
How innocent it is, and simple,
In the evening calm,
But to me in this deserted temple
It's like a golden celebration,
And a consolation.