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Best Famous Evil Poems

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12
Written by George (Lord) Byron | Create an image from this poem

The Dream

 I

Our life is twofold; Sleep hath its own world,
A boundary between the things misnamed
Death and existence: Sleep hath its own world,
And a wide realm of wild reality,
And dreams in their development have breath,
And tears, and tortures, and the touch of joy;
They leave a weight upon our waking thoughts,
They take a weight from off waking toils,
They do divide our being; they become
A portion of ourselves as of our time,
And look like heralds of eternity;
They pass like spirits of the past—they speak
Like sibyls of the future; they have power— 
The tyranny of pleasure and of pain;
They make us what we were not—what they will,
And shake us with the vision that's gone by,
The dread of vanished shadows—Are they so?
Is not the past all shadow?—What are they?
Creations of the mind?—The mind can make
Substances, and people planets of its own
With beings brighter than have been, and give
A breath to forms which can outlive all flesh.
I would recall a vision which I dreamed Perchance in sleep—for in itself a thought, A slumbering thought, is capable of years, And curdles a long life into one hour.
II I saw two beings in the hues of youth Standing upon a hill, a gentle hill, Green and of mild declivity, the last As 'twere the cape of a long ridge of such, Save that there was no sea to lave its base, But a most living landscape, and the wave Of woods and corn-fields, and the abodes of men Scattered at intervals, and wreathing smoke Arising from such rustic roofs: the hill Was crowned with a peculiar diadem Of trees, in circular array, so fixed, Not by the sport of nature, but of man: These two, a maiden and a youth, were there Gazing—the one on all that was beneath Fair as herself—but the boy gazed on her; And both were young, and one was beautiful: And both were young—yet not alike in youth.
As the sweet moon on the horizon's verge, The maid was on the eve of womanhood; The boy had fewer summers, but his heart Had far outgrown his years, and to his eye There was but one beloved face on earth, And that was shining on him; he had looked Upon it till it could not pass away; He had no breath, no being, but in hers: She was his voice; he did not speak to her, But trembled on her words; she was his sight, For his eye followed hers, and saw with hers, Which coloured all his objects;—he had ceased To live within himself: she was his life, The ocean to the river of his thoughts, Which terminated all; upon a tone, A touch of hers, his blood would ebb and flow, And his cheek change tempestuously—his heart Unknowing of its cause of agony.
But she in these fond feelings had no share: Her sighs were not for him; to her he was Even as a brother—but no more; 'twas much, For brotherless she was, save in the name Her infant friendship had bestowed on him; Herself the solitary scion left Of a time-honoured race.
—It was a name Which pleased him, and yet pleased him not—and why? Time taught him a deep answer—when she loved Another; even now she loved another, And on the summit of that hill she stood Looking afar if yet her lover's steed Kept pace with her expectancy, and flew.
III A change came o'er the spirit of my dream.
There was an ancient mansion, and before Its walls there was a steed caparisoned: Within an antique Oratory stood The Boy of whom I spake;—he was alone, And pale, and pacing to and fro: anon He sate him down, and seized a pen, and traced Words which I could not guess of; then he leaned His bowed head on his hands and shook, as 'twere With a convulsion—then rose again, And with his teeth and quivering hands did tear What he had written, but he shed no tears.
And he did calm himself, and fix his brow Into a kind of quiet: as he paused, The Lady of his love re-entered there; She was serene and smiling then, and yet She knew she was by him beloved; she knew— For quickly comes such knowledge—that his heart Was darkened with her shadow, and she saw That he was wretched, but she saw not all.
He rose, and with a cold and gentle grasp He took her hand; a moment o'er his face A tablet of unutterable thoughts Was traced, and then it faded, as it came; He dropped the hand he held, and with slow steps Retired, but not as bidding her adieu, For they did part with mutual smiles; he passed From out the massy gate of that old Hall, And mounting on his steed he went his way; And ne'er repassed that hoary threshold more.
IV A change came o'er the spirit of my dream.
The Boy was sprung to manhood: in the wilds Of fiery climes he made himself a home, And his Soul drank their sunbeams; he was girt With strange and dusky aspects; he was not Himself like what he had been; on the sea And on the shore he was a wanderer; There was a mass of many images Crowded like waves upon me, but he was A part of all; and in the last he lay Reposing from the noontide sultriness, Couched among fallen columns, in the shade Of ruined walls that had survived the names Of those who reared them; by his sleeping side Stood camels grazing, and some goodly steeds Were fastened near a fountain; and a man, Glad in a flowing garb, did watch the while, While many of his tribe slumbered around: And they were canopied by the blue sky, So cloudless, clear, and purely beautiful, That God alone was to be seen in heaven.
V A change came o'er the spirit of my dream.
The Lady of his love was wed with One Who did not love her better: in her home, A thousand leagues from his,—her native home, She dwelt, begirt with growing Infancy, Daughters and sons of Beauty,—but behold! Upon her face there was a tint of grief, The settled shadow of an inward strife, And an unquiet drooping of the eye, As if its lid were charged with unshed tears.
What could her grief be?—she had all she loved, And he who had so loved her was not there To trouble with bad hopes, or evil wish, Or ill-repressed affliction, her pure thoughts.
What could her grief be?—she had loved him not, Nor given him cause to deem himself beloved, Nor could he be a part of that which preyed Upon her mind—a spectre of the past.
VI A change came o'er the spirit of my dream.
The Wanderer was returned.
—I saw him stand Before an altar—with a gentle bride; Her face was fair, but was not that which made The Starlight of his Boyhood;—as he stood Even at the altar, o'er his brow there came The selfsame aspect and the quivering shock That in the antique Oratory shook His bosom in its solitude; and then— As in that hour—a moment o'er his face The tablet of unutterable thoughts Was traced—and then it faded as it came, And he stood calm and quiet, and he spoke The fitting vows, but heard not his own words, And all things reeled around him; he could see Not that which was, nor that which should have been— But the old mansion, and the accustomed hall, And the remembered chambers, and the place, The day, the hour, the sunshine, and the shade, All things pertaining to that place and hour, And her who was his destiny, came back And thrust themselves between him and the light; What business had they there at such a time? VII A change came o'er the spirit of my dream.
The Lady of his love;—Oh! she was changed, As by the sickness of the soul; her mind Had wandered from its dwelling, and her eyes, They had not their own lustre, but the look Which is not of the earth; she was become The queen of a fantastic realm; her thoughts Were combinations of disjointed things; And forms impalpable and unperceived Of others' sight familiar were to hers.
And this the world calls frenzy; but the wise Have a far deeper madness, and the glance Of melancholy is a fearful gift; What is it but the telescope of truth? Which strips the distance of its fantasies, And brings life near in utter nakedness, Making the cold reality too real! VIII A change came o'er the spirit of my dream.
The Wanderer was alone as heretofore, The beings which surrounded him were gone, Or were at war with him; he was a mark For blight and desolation, compassed round With Hatred and Contention; Pain was mixed In all which was served up to him, until, Like to the Pontic monarch of old days, He fed on poisons, and they had no power, But were a kind of nutriment; he lived Through that which had been death to many men, And made him friends of mountains; with the stars And the quick Spirit of the Universe He held his dialogues: and they did teach To him the magic of their mysteries; To him the book of Night was opened wide, And voices from the deep abyss revealed A marvel and a secret.
—Be it so.
IX My dream is past; it had no further change.
It was of a strange order, that the doom Of these two creatures should be thus traced out Almost like a reality—the one To end in madness—both in misery.
Written by Edgar Allan Poe | Create an image from this poem

The Raven

ONCE upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary, 
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore,¡ª 
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping, 
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
"'T is some visitor," I muttered, "tapping at my chamber door; 5 Only this and nothing more.
" Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor.
Eagerly I wished the morrow;¡ªvainly I had sought to borrow From my books surcease of sorrow¡ªsorrow for the lost Lenore, 10 For the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore: Nameless here for evermore.
And the silken sad uncertain rustling of each purple curtain Thrilled me¡ªfilled me with fantastic terrors never felt before; So that now, to still the beating of my heart, I stood repeating 15 "'T is some visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door, Some late visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door: This it is and nothing more.
" Presently my soul grew stronger; hesitating then no longer, "Sir," said I, "or Madam, truly your forgiveness I implore; 20 But the fact is I was napping, and so gently you came rapping, And so faintly you came tapping, tapping at my chamber door, That I scarce was sure I heard you"¡ªhere I opened wide the door:¡ª Darkness there and nothing more.
Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing, 25 Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortals ever dared to dream before; But the silence was unbroken, and the stillness gave no token, And the only word there spoken was the whispered word, "Lenore?" This I whispered, and an echo murmured back the word, "Lenore:" Merely this and nothing more.
30 Back into the chamber turning, all my soul within me burning, Soon again I heard a tapping somewhat louder than before.
"Surely," said I, "surely that is something at my window lattice; Let me see, then, what thereat is, and this mystery explore; Let my heart be still a moment and this mystery explore: 35 'T is the wind and nothing more.
" Open here I flung the shutter, when, with many a flirt and flutter, In there stepped a stately Raven of the saintly days of yore.
Not the least obeisance made he; not a minute stopped or stayed he; But, with mien of lord or lady, perched above my chamber door, 40 Perched upon a bust of Pallas just above my chamber door: Perched, and sat, and nothing more.
Then this ebony bird beguiling my sad fancy into smiling By the grave and stern decorum of the countenance it wore,¡ª "Though thy crest be shorn and shaven, thou," I said, "art sure no craven, 45 Ghastly grim and ancient Raven wandering from the Nightly shore: Tell me what thy lordly name is on the Night's Plutonian shore!" Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore.
" Much I marvelled this ungainly fowl to hear discourse so plainly, Though its answer little meaning¡ªlittle relevancy bore; 50 For we cannot help agreeing that no living human being Ever yet was blessed with seeing bird above his chamber door, Bird or beast upon the sculptured bust above his chamber door, With such name as "Nevermore.
" But the Raven, sitting lonely on the placid bust, spoke only 55 That one word, as if his soul in that one word he did outpour.
Nothing further then he uttered, not a feather then he fluttered, Till I scarcely more than muttered,¡ª"Other friends have flown before; On the morrow he will leave me, as my Hopes have flown before.
" Then the bird said, "Nevermore.
" 60 Startled at the stillness broken by reply so aptly spoken, "Doubtless," said I, "what it utters is its only stock and store, Caught from some unhappy master whom unmerciful Disaster Followed fast and followed faster till his songs one burden bore: Till the dirges of his Hope that melancholy burden bore 65 Of 'Never¡ªnevermore.
' But the Raven still beguiling all my fancy into smiling, Straight I wheeled a cushioned seat in front of bird and bust and door; Then, upon the velvet sinking, I betook myself to linking Fancy unto fancy, thinking what this ominous bird of yore, 70 What this grim, ungainly, ghastly, gaunt, and ominous bird of yore Meant in croaking "Nevermore.
" This I sat engaged in guessing, but no syllable expressing To the fowl whose fiery eyes now burned into my bosom's core; This and more I sat divining, with my head at ease reclining 75 On the cushion's velvet lining that the lamplight gloated o'er, But whose velvet violet lining with the lamp-light gloating o'er She shall press, ah, nevermore! Then, methought, the air grew denser, perfumed from an unseen censer Swung by seraphim whose foot-falls tinkled on the tufted floor.
80 "Wretch," I cried, "thy God hath lent thee¡ªby these angels he hath sent thee Respite¡ªrespite and nepenthe from thy memories of Lenore!" Quaff, oh quaff this kind nepenthe, and forget this lost Lenore.
" Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore.
" "Prophet!" said I, "thing of evil! prophet still, if bird or devil! 85 Whether Tempter sent, or whether tempest tossed thee here ashore, Desolate yet all undaunted, on this desert land enchanted¡ª On this home by Horror haunted¡ªtell me truly, I implore: Is there¡ªis there balm in Gilead?¡ªtell me¡ªtell me, I implore!" Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore.
" 90 "Prophet!" said I, "thing of evil¡ªprophet still, if bird or devil! By that Heaven that bends above us, by that God we both adore, Tell this soul with sorrow laden if, within the distant Aidenn, It shall clasp a sainted maiden whom the angels name Lenore: Clasp a rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore!" 95 Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore.
" "Be that word our sign of parting, bird or fiend!" I shrieked, upstarting: "Get thee back into the tempest and the Night's Plutonian shore! Leave no black plume as a token of that lie thy soul hath spoken! Leave my loneliness unbroken! quit the bust above my door! 100 Take thy beak from out my heart, and take thy form from off my door!" Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore.
" And the Raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting On the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door; And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon's that is dreaming, 105 And the lamp-light o'er him streaming throws his shadow on the floor: And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor Shall be lifted¡ªnevermore!
Written by William Wordsworth | Create an image from this poem

The Tables Turned

An Evening Scene on the Same Subject

Up! up! my Friend, and quit your books;
Or surely you'll grow double:
Up! up! my Friend, and clear your looks;
Why all this toil and trouble?

The sun, above the mountain's head,
A freshening lustre mellow
Through all the long green fields has spread,
His first sweet evening yellow.
Books! 'tis a dull and endless strife: Come, hear the woodland linnet, How sweet his music! on my life, There's more of wisdom in it.
And hark! how blithe the throstle sings! He, too, is no mean preacher: Come forth into the light of things, Let Nature be your Teacher.
She has a world of ready wealth, Our minds and hearts to bless— Spontaneous wisdom breathed by health, Truth breathed by cheerfulness.
One impulse from a vernal wood May teach you more of man, Of moral evil and of good, Than all the sages can.
Sweet is the lore which Nature brings; Our meddling intellect Mis-shapes the beauteous forms of things:— We murder to dissect.
Enough of Science and of Art; Close up those barren leaves; Come forth, and bring with you a heart That watches and receives.
Written by Aleister Crowley | Create an image from this poem

A Birthday

 "Aug.
" 10, 1911.
Full moon to-night; and six and twenty years Since my full moon first broke from angel spheres! A year of infinite love unwearying --- No circling seasons, but perennial spring! A year of triumph trampling through defeat, The first made holy and the last made sweet By this same love; a year of wealth and woe, Joy, poverty, health, sickness --- all one glow In the pure light that filled our firmament Of supreme silence and unbarred extent, Wherein one sacrament was ours, one Lord, One resurrection, one recurrent chord, One incarnation, one descending dove, All these being one, and that one being Love! You sent your spirit into tunes; my soul Yearned in a thousand melodies to enscroll Its happiness: I left no flower unplucked That might have graced your garland.
I induct Tragedy, comedy, farce, fable, song, Each longing a little, each a little long, But each aspiring only to express Your excellence and my unworthiness --- Nay! but my worthiness, since I was sense And spirit too of that same excellence.
So thus we solved the earth's revolving riddle: I could write verse, and you could play the fiddle, While, as for love, the sun went through the signs, And not a star but told him how love twines A wreath for every decanate, degree, Minute and second, linked eternally In chains of flowers that never fading are, Each one as sempiternal as a star.
Let me go back to your last birthday.
Then I was already your one man of men Appointed to complete you, and fulfil From everlasting the eternal will.
We lay within the flood of crimson light In my own balcony that August night, And conjuring the aright and the averse Created yet another universe.
We worked together; dance and rite and spell Arousing heaven and constraining hell.
We lived together; every hour of rest Was honied from your tiger-lily breast.
We --- oh what lingering doubt or fear betrayed My life to fate! --- we parted.
Was I afraid? I was afraid, afraid to live my love, Afraid you played the serpent, I the dove, Afraid of what I know not.
I am glad Of all the shame and wretchedness I had, Since those six weeks have taught me not to doubt you, And also that I cannot live without you.
Then I came back to you; black treasons rear Their heads, blind hates, deaf agonies of fear, Cruelty, cowardice, falsehood, broken pledges, The temple soiled with senseless sacrileges, Sickness and poverty, a thousand evils, Concerted malice of a million devils; --- You never swerved; your high-pooped galleon Went marvellously, majestically on Full-sailed, while every other braver bark Drove on the rocks, or foundered in the dark.
Then Easter, and the days of all delight! God's sun lit noontide and his moon midnight, While above all, true centre of our world, True source of light, our great love passion-pearled Gave all its life and splendour to the sea Above whose tides stood our stability.
Then sudden and fierce, no monitory moan, Smote the mad mischief of the great cyclone.
How far below us all its fury rolled! How vainly sulphur tries to tarnish gold! We lived together: all its malice meant Nothing but freedom of a continent! It was the forest and the river that knew The fact that one and one do not make two.
We worked, we walked, we slept, we were at ease, We cried, we quarrelled; all the rocks and trees For twenty miles could tell how lovers played, And we could count a kiss for every glade.
Worry, starvation, illness and distress? Each moment was a mine of happiness.
Then we grew tired of being country mice, Came up to Paris, lived our sacrifice There, giving holy berries to the moon, July's thanksgiving for the joys of June.
And you are gone away --- and how shall I Make August sing the raptures of July? And you are gone away --- what evil star Makes you so competent and popular? How have I raised this harpy-hag of Hell's Malice --- that you are wanted somewhere else? I wish you were like me a man forbid, Banned, outcast, nice society well rid Of the pair of us --- then who would interfere With us? --- my darling, you would now be here! But no! we must fight on, win through, succeed, Earn the grudged praise that never comes to meed, Lash dogs to kennel, trample snakes, put bit In the mule-mouths that have such need of it, Until the world there's so much to forgive in Becomes a little possible to live in.
God alone knows if battle or surrender Be the true courage; either has its splendour.
But since we chose the first, God aid the right, And damn me if I fail you in the fight! God join again the ways that lie apart, And bless the love of loyal heart to heart! God keep us every hour in every thought, And bring the vessel of our love to port! These are my birthday wishes.
Dawn's at hand, And you're an exile in a lonely land.
But what were magic if it could not give My thought enough vitality to live? Do not then dream this night has been a loss! All night I have hung, a god, upon the cross; All night I have offered incense at the shrine; All night you have been unutterably mine, Miner in the memory of the first wild hour When my rough grasp tore the unwilling flower From your closed garden, mine in every mood, In every tense, in every attitude, In every possibility, still mine While the sun's pomp and pageant, sign to sign, Stately proceeded, mine not only so In the glamour of memory and austral glow Of ardour, but by image of my brow Stronger than sense, you are even here and now Miner, utterly mine, my sister and my wife, Mother of my children, mistress of my life! O wild swan winging through the morning mist! The thousand thousand kisses that we kissed, The infinite device our love devised If by some chance its truth might be surprised, Are these all past? Are these to come? Believe me, There is no parting; they can never leave me.
I have built you up into my heart and brain So fast that we can never part again.
Why should I sing you these fantastic psalms When all the time I have you in my arms? Why? 'tis the murmur of our love that swells Earth's dithyrambs and ocean's oracles.
But this is dawn; my soul shall make its nest Where your sighs swing from rapture into rest Love's thurible, your tiger-lily breast.
Written by William Wordsworth | Create an image from this poem

Lines Composed a Few Miles above Tintern Abbey

Five years have passed; five summers, with the length 
Of five long winters! and again I hear
These waters, rolling from their mountain-springs
With a soft inland murmur.
Once again Do I behold these steep and lofty cliffs, That on a wild secluded scene impress Thoughts of more deep seclusion; and connect The landscape with the quiet of the sky.
The day is come when I again repose Here, under this dark sycamore, and view These plots of cottage-ground, these orchard-tufts, Which at this season, with their unripe fruits, Are clad in one green hue, and lose themselves 'Mid groves and copses.
Once again I see These hedgerows, hardly hedgerows, little lines Of sportive wood run wild; these pastoral farms, Green to the very door; and wreaths of smoke Sent up, in silence, from among the trees! With some uncertain notice, as might seem Of vagrant dwellers in the houseless woods, Or of some Hermit's cave, where by his fire The Hermit sits alone.
These beauteous forms, Through a long absence, have not been to me As is a landscape to a blind man's eye; But oft, in lonely rooms, and 'mid the din Of towns and cities, I have owed to them, In hours of weariness, sensations sweet, Felt in the blood, and felt along the heart; And passing even into my purer mind With tranquil restoration—feelings too Of unremembered pleasure; such, perhaps, As have no slight or trivial influence On that best portion of a good man's life, His little, nameless, unremembered, acts Of kindness and of love.
Nor less, I trust, To them I may have owed another gift, Of aspect more sublime; that blessed mood, In which the burthen of the mystery, In which the heavy and the weary weight Of all this unintelligible world, Is lightened—that serene and blessed mood, In which the affections gently lead us on— Until, the breath of this corporeal frame And even the motion of our human blood Almost suspended, we are laid asleep In body, and become a living soul; While with an eye made quiet by the power Of harmony, and the deep power of joy, We see into the life of things.
If this Be but a vain belief, yet, oh! how oft— In darkness and amid the many shapes Of joyless daylight; when the fretful stir Unprofitable, and the fever of the world, Have hung upon the beatings of my heart— How oft, in spirit, have I turned to thee, O sylvan Wye! thou wanderer through the woods, How often has my spirit turned to thee! And now, with gleams of half-extinguished thought, With many recognitions dim and faint, And somewhat of a sad perplexity, The picture of the mind revives again; While here I stand, not only with the sense Of present pleasure, but with pleasing thoughts That in this moment there is life and food For future years.
And so I dare to hope, Though changed, no doubt, from what I was when first I came among these hills; when like a roe I bounded o'er the mountains, by the sides Of the deep rivers, and the lonely streams, Wherever nature led—more like a man Flying from something that he dreads than one Who sought the thing he loved.
For nature then (The coarser pleasures of my boyish days And their glad animal movements all gone by) To me was all in all.
—I cannot paint What then I was.
The sounding cataract Haunted me like a passion; the tall rock, The mountain, and the deep and gloomy wood, Their colors and their forms, were then to me An appetite; a feeling and a love, That had no need of a remoter charm, By thought supplied, not any interest Unborrowed from the eye.
—That time is past, And all its aching joys are now no more, And all its dizzy raptures.
Not for this Faint I, nor mourn nor murmur; other gifts Have followed; for such loss, I would believe, Abundant recompense.
For I have learned To look on nature, not as in the hour Of thoughtless youth; but hearing oftentimes The still sad music of humanity, Nor harsh nor grating, though of ample power To chasten and subdue.
And I have felt A presence that disturbs me with the joy Of elevated thoughts; a sense sublime Of something far more deeply interfused, Whose dwelling is the light of setting suns, And the round ocean and the living air, And the blue sky, and in the mind of man: A motion and a spirit, that impels All thinking things, all objects of all thought, And rolls through all things.
Therefore am I still A lover of the meadows and the woods, And mountains; and of all that we behold From this green earth; of all the mighty world Of eye, and ear—both what they half create, And what perceive; well pleased to recognize In nature and the language of the sense The anchor of my purest thoughts, the nurse, The guide, the guardian of my heart, and soul Of all my moral being.
Nor perchance, If I were not thus taught, should I the more Suffer my genial spirits to decay: For thou art with me here upon the banks Of this fair river; thou my dearest Friend, My dear, dear Friend; and in thy voice I catch The language of my former heart, and read My former pleasures in the shooting lights Of thy wild eyes.
Oh! yet a little while May I behold in thee what I was once, My dear, dear Sister! and this prayer I make, Knowing that Nature never did betray The heart that loved her; 'tis her privilege, Through all the years of this our life, to lead From joy to joy: for she can so inform The mind that is within us, so impress With quietness and beauty, and so feed With lofty thoughts, that neither evil tongues, Rash judgments, nor the sneers of selfish men, Nor greetings where no kindness is, nor all The dreary intercourse of daily life, Shall e'er prevail against us, or disturb Our cheerful faith, that all which we behold Is full of blessings.
Therefore let the moon Shine on thee in thy solitary walk; And let the misty mountain winds be free To blow against thee: and, in after years, When these wild ecstasies shall be matured Into a sober pleasure; when thy mind Shall be a mansion for all lovely forms, Thy memory be as a dwelling place For all sweet sounds and harmonies; oh! then, If solitude, or fear, or pain, or grief, Should be thy portion, with what healing thoughts Of tender joy wilt thou remember me, And these my exhortations! Nor, perchance— If I should be where I no more can hear Thy voice, nor catch from thy wild eyes these gleams Of past existence—wilt thou then forget That on the banks of this delightful stream We stood together; and that I, so long A worshipper of Nature, hither came Unwearied in that service; rather say With warmer love—oh! with far deeper zeal Of holier love.
Nor wilt thou then forget, That after many wanderings, many years Of absence, these steep woods and lofty cliffs, And this green pastoral landscape, were to me More dear, both for themselves and for thy sake!
Written by Marianne Moore | Create an image from this poem

Marriage

 This institution,
perhaps one should say enterprise
out of respect for which
one says one need not change one's mind
about a thing one has believed in,
requiring public promises
of one's intention
to fulfill a private obligation:
I wonder what Adam and Eve
think of it by this time,
this firegilt steel
alive with goldenness;
how bright it shows --
"of circular traditions and impostures,
committing many spoils,"
requiring all one's criminal ingenuity
to avoid!
Psychology which explains everything
explains nothing
and we are still in doubt.
Eve: beautiful woman -- I have seen her when she was so handsome she gave me a start, able to write simultaneously in three languages -- English, German and French and talk in the meantime; equally positive in demanding a commotion and in stipulating quiet: "I should like to be alone;" to which the visitor replies, "I should like to be alone; why not be alone together?" Below the incandescent stars below the incandescent fruit, the strange experience of beauty; its existence is too much; it tears one to pieces and each fresh wave of consciousness is poison.
"See her, see her in this common world," the central flaw in that first crystal-fine experiment, this amalgamation which can never be more than an interesting possibility, describing it as "that strange paradise unlike flesh, gold, or stately buildings, the choicest piece of my life: the heart rising in its estate of peace as a boat rises with the rising of the water;" constrained in speaking of the serpent -- that shed snakeskin in the history of politeness not to be returned to again -- that invaluable accident exonerating Adam.
And he has beauty also; it's distressing -- the O thou to whom, from whom, without whom nothing -- Adam; "something feline, something colubrine" -- how true! a crouching mythological monster in that Persian miniature of emerald mines, raw silk -- ivory white, snow white, oyster white and six others -- that paddock full of leopards and giraffes -- long lemonyellow bodies sown with trapezoids of blue.
Alive with words, vibrating like a cymbal touched before it has been struck, he has prophesied correctly -- the industrious waterfall, "the speedy stream which violently bears all before it, at one time silent as the air and now as powerful as the wind.
" "Treading chasms on the uncertain footing of a spear," forgetting that there is in woman a quality of mind which is an instinctive manifestation is unsafe, he goes on speaking in a formal, customary strain of "past states," the present state, seals, promises, the evil one suffered, the good one enjoys, hell, heaven, everything convenient to promote one's joy.
" There is in him a state of mind by force of which, perceiving what it was not intended that he should, "he experiences a solemn joy in seeing that he has become an idol.
" Plagued by the nightingale in the new leaves, with its silence -- not its silence but its silences, he says of it: "It clothes me with a shirt of fire.
" "He dares not clap his hands to make it go on lest it should fly off; if he does nothing, it will sleep; if he cries out, it will not understand.
" Unnerved by the nightingale and dazzled by the apple, impelled by "the illusion of a fire effectual to extinguish fire," compared with which the shining of the earth is but deformity -- a fire "as high as deep as bright as broad as long as life itself," he stumbles over marriage, "a very trivial object indeed" to have destroyed the attitude in which he stood -- the ease of the philosopher unfathered by a woman.
Unhelpful Hymen! "a kind of overgrown cupid" reduced to insignificance by the mechanical advertising parading as involuntary comment, by that experiment of Adam's with ways out but no way in -- the ritual of marriage, augmenting all its lavishness; its fiddle-head ferns, lotus flowers, opuntias, white dromedaries, its hippopotamus -- nose and mouth combined in one magnificent hopper, "the crested screamer -- that huge bird almost a lizard," its snake and the potent apple.
He tells us that "for love that will gaze an eagle blind, that is like a Hercules climbing the trees in the garden of the Hesperides, from forty-five to seventy is the best age," commending it as a fine art, as an experiment, a duty or as merely recreation.
One must not call him ruffian nor friction a calamity -- the fight to be affectionate: "no truth can be fully known until it has been tried by the tooth of disputation.
" The blue panther with black eyes, the basalt panther with blue eyes, entirely graceful -- one must give them the path -- the black obsidian Diana who "darkeneth her countenance as a bear doth, causing her husband to sigh," the spiked hand that has an affection for one and proves it to the bone, impatient to assure you that impatience is the mark of independence not of bondage.
"Married people often look that way" -- "seldom and cold, up and down, mixed and malarial with a good day and bad.
" "When do we feed?" We occidentals are so unemotional, we quarrel as we feed; one's self is quite lost, the irony preserved in "the Ahasuerus t?te ? t?te banquet" with its "good monster, lead the way," with little laughter and munificence of humor in that quixotic atmosphere of frankness in which "Four o'clock does not exist but at five o'clock the ladies in their imperious humility are ready to receive you"; in which experience attests that men have power and sometimes one is made to feel it.
He says, "what monarch would not blush to have a wife with hair like a shaving-brush? The fact of woman is not `the sound of the flute but every poison.
'" She says, "`Men are monopolists of stars, garters, buttons and other shining baubles' -- unfit to be the guardians of another person's happiness.
" He says, "These mummies must be handled carefully -- `the crumbs from a lion's meal, a couple of shins and the bit of an ear'; turn to the letter M and you will find that `a wife is a coffin,' that severe object with the pleasing geometry stipulating space and not people, refusing to be buried and uniquely disappointing, revengefully wrought in the attitude of an adoring child to a distinguished parent.
" She says, "This butterfly, this waterfly, this nomad that has `proposed to settle on my hand for life.
' -- What can one do with it? There must have been more time in Shakespeare's day to sit and watch a play.
You know so many artists are fools.
" He says, "You know so many fools who are not artists.
" The fact forgot that "some have merely rights while some have obligations," he loves himself so much, he can permit himself no rival in that love.
She loves herself so much, she cannot see herself enough -- a statuette of ivory on ivory, the logical last touch to an expansive splendor earned as wages for work done: one is not rich but poor when one can always seem so right.
What can one do for them -- these savages condemned to disaffect all those who are not visionaries alert to undertake the silly task of making people noble? This model of petrine fidelity who "leaves her peaceful husband only because she has seen enough of him" -- that orator reminding you, "I am yours to command.
" "Everything to do with love is mystery; it is more than a day's work to investigate this science.
" One sees that it is rare -- that striking grasp of opposites opposed each to the other, not to unity, which in cycloid inclusiveness has dwarfed the demonstration of Columbus with the egg -- a triumph of simplicity -- that charitive Euroclydon of frightening disinterestedness which the world hates, admitting: "I am such a cow, if I had a sorrow, I should feel it a long time; I am not one of those who have a great sorrow in the morning and a great joy at noon;" which says: "I have encountered it among those unpretentious proteg?s of wisdom, where seeming to parade as the debater and the Roman, the statesmanship of an archaic Daniel Webster persists to their simplicity of temper as the essence of the matter: `Liberty and union now and forever;' the book on the writing-table; the hand in the breast-pocket.
"
Written by Philip Levine | Create an image from this poem

The Negatives

 On March 1, 1958, four deserters from the French Army of North Africa, 
August Rein, Henri Bruette, Jack Dauville, & Thomas Delain, robbed a 
government pay station at Orleansville.
Because of the subsequent confession of Dauville the other three were captured or shot.
Dauville was given his freedom and returned to the land of his birth, the U.
S.
A.
AUGUST REIN: from a last camp near St.
Remy I dig in the soft earth all afternoon, spacing the holes a foot or so from the wall.
Tonight we eat potatoes, tomorrow rice and carrots.
The earth here is like the earth nowhere, ancient with wood rot.
How can anything come forth, I wonder; and the days are all alike, if there is more than one day.
If there is more of this I will not endure.
I have grown so used to being watched I can no longer sleep without my watcher.
The thing I fought against, the dark cape, crimsoned with terror that I so hated comforts me now.
Thomas is dead; insanity, prison, cowardice, or slow inner capitulation has found us all, and all men turn from us, knowing our pain is not theirs or caused by them.
HENRI BRUETTE: from a hospital in Algiers Dear Suzanne: this letter will not reach you because I can't write it; I have no pencil, no paper, only the blunt end of my anger.
My dear, if I had words how could I report the imperfect failure for which I began to die? I might begin by saying that it was for clarity, though I did not find it in terror: dubiously entered each act, unsure of who I was and what I did, touching my face for fear I was another inside my head I played back pictures of my childhood, of my wife even, for it was in her I found myself beaten, safe, and furthest from the present.
It is her face I see now though all I say is meant for you, her face in the slow agony of sexual release.
I cannot see you.
The dark wall ribbed with spittle on which I play my childhood brings me to this bed, mastered by what I was, betrayed by those I trusted.
The one word my mouth must open to is why.
JACK DAUVILLE: from a hotel in Tampa, Florida From Orleansville we drove south until we reached the hills, then east until the road stopped.
I was nervous and couldn't eat.
Thomas took over, told us when to think and when to ****.
We turned north and reached Blida by first dawn and the City by morning, having dumped our weapons beside an empty road.
We were free.
We parted, and to this hour I haven't seen them, except in photographs: the black hair and torn features of Thomas Delain captured a moment before his death on the pages of the world, smeared in the act.
I tortured myself with their betrayal: alone I hurled them into freedom, inner freedom which I can't find nor ever will until they are dead.
In my mind Delain stands against the wall precise in detail, steadied for the betrayal.
"La France C'Est Moi," he cried, but the irony was lost.
Since I returned to the U.
S.
nothing goes well.
I stay up too late, don't sleep, and am losing weight.
Thomas, I say, is dead, but what use telling myself what I won't believe.
The hotel quiets early at night, the aged brace themselves for another sleep, and offshore the sea quickens its pace.
I am suddenly old, caught in a strange country for which no man would die.
THOMAS DELAIN: from a journal found on his person At night wakened by the freight trains boring through the suburbs of Lyon, I watched first light corrode the darkness, disturb what little wildlife was left in the alleys: birds moved from branch to branch, and the dogs leapt at the garbage.
Winter numbed even the hearts of the young who had only their hearts.
We heard the war coming; the long wait was over, and we moved along the crowded roads south not looking for what lost loves fell by the roadsides.
To flee at all cost, that was my youth.
Here in the African night wakened by what I do not know and shivering in the heat, listen as the men fight with sleep.
Loosed from their weapons they cry out, frightened and young, who have never been children.
Once merely to be strong, to live, was moral.
Within these uniforms we accept the evil we were chosen to deliver, and no act human or benign can free us from ourselves.
Wait, sleep, blind soldiers of a blind will, and listen for that old command dreaming of authority.
Written by Robinson Jeffers | Create an image from this poem

The Broken Balance

 I.
Reference to a Passage in Plutarch's Life of Sulla The people buying and selling, consuming pleasures, talking in the archways, Were all suddenly struck quiet And ran from under stone to look up at the sky: so shrill and mournful, So fierce and final, a brazen Pealing of trumpets high up in the air, in the summer blue over Tuscany.
They marvelled; the soothsayers answered: "Although the Gods are little troubled toward men, at the end of each period A sign is declared in heaven Indicating new times, new customs, a changed people; the Romans Rule, and Etruria is finished; A wise mariner will trim the sails to the wind.
" I heard yesterday So shrill and mournful a trumpet-blast, It was hard to be wise.
.
.
.
You must eat change and endure; not be much troubled For the people; they will have their happiness.
When the republic grows too heavy to endure, then Caesar will carry It; When life grows hateful, there's power .
.
.
II.
To the Children Power's good; life is not always good but power's good.
So you must think when abundance Makes pawns of people and all the loaves are one dough.
The steep singleness of passion Dies; they will say, "What was that?" but the power triumphs.
Loveliness will live under glass And beauty will go savage in the secret mountains.
There is beauty in power also.
You children must widen your minds' eyes to take mountains Instead of faces, and millions Instead of persons; not to hate life; and massed power After the lone hawk's dead.
III That light blood-loving weasel, a tongue of yellow Fire licking the sides of the gray stones, Has a more passionate and more pure heart In the snake-slender flanks than man can imagine; But he is betrayed by his own courage, The man who kills him is like a cloud hiding a star.
Then praise the jewel-eyed hawk and the tall blue heron; The black cormorants that fatten their sea-rock With shining slime; even that ruiner of anthills The red-shafted woodpecker flying, A white star between blood-color wing-clouds, Across the glades of the wood and the green lakes of shade.
These live their felt natures; they know their norm And live it to the brim; they understand life.
While men moulding themselves to the anthill have choked Their natures until the souls the in them; They have sold themselves for toys and protection: No, but consider awhile: what else? Men sold for toys.
Uneasy and fractional people, having no center But in the eyes and mouths that surround them, Having no function but to serve and support Civilization, the enemy of man, No wonder they live insanely, and desire With their tongues, progress; with their eyes, pleasure; with their hearts, death.
Their ancestors were good hunters, good herdsmen and swordsman, But now the world is turned upside down; The good do evil, the hope's in criminals; in vice That dissolves the cities and war to destroy them.
Through wars and corruptions the house will fall.
Mourn whom it falls on.
Be glad: the house is mined, it will fall.
IV Rain, hail and brutal sun, the plow in the roots, The pitiless pruning-iron in the branches, Strengthen the vines, they are all feeding friends Or powerless foes until the grapes purple.
But when you have ripened your berries it is time to begin to perish.
The world sickens with change, rain becomes poison, The earth is a pit, it Is time to perish.
The vines are fey, the very kindness of nature Corrupts what her cruelty before strengthened.
When you stand on the peak of time it is time to begin to perish.
Reach down the long morbid roots that forget the plow, Discover the depths; let the long pale tendrils Spend all to discover the sky, now nothing is good But only the steel mirrors of discovery .
.
.
And the beautiful enormous dawns of time, after we perish.
V Mourning the broken balance, the hopeless prostration of the earth Under men's hands and their minds, The beautiful places killed like rabbits to make a city, The spreading fungus, the slime-threads And spores; my own coast's obscene future: I remember the farther Future, and the last man dying Without succession under the confident eyes of the stars.
It was only a moment's accident, The race that plagued us; the world resumes the old lonely immortal Splendor; from here I can even Perceive that that snuffed candle had something .
.
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a fantastic virtue, A faint and unshapely pathos .
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So death will flatter them at last: what, even the bald ape's by-shot Was moderately admirable? VI.
Palinode All summer neither rain nor wave washes the cormorants' Perch, and their droppings have painted it shining white.
If the excrement of fish-eaters makes the brown rock a snow-mountain At noon, a rose in the morning, a beacon at moonrise On the black water: it is barely possible that even men's present Lives are something; their arts and sciences (by moonlight) Not wholly ridiculous, nor their cities merely an offense.
VII Under my windows, between the road and the sea-cliff, bitter wild grass Stands narrowed between the people and the storm.
The ocean winter after winter gnaws at its earth, the wheels and the feet Summer after summer encroach and destroy.
Stubborn green life, for the cliff-eater I cannot comfort you, ignorant which color, Gray-blue or pale-green, will please the late stars; But laugh at the other, your seed shall enjoy wonderful vengeances and suck The arteries and walk in triumph on the faces.
Written by Edgar Allan Poe | Create an image from this poem

Bridal Ballad

 The ring is on my hand, 
And the wreath is on my brow; 
Satin and jewels grand 
Are all at my command, 
And I am happy now.
And my lord he loves me well; But, when first he breathed his vow, I felt my bosom swell- For the words rang as a knell, And the voice seemed his who fell In the battle down the dell, And who is happy now.
But he spoke to re-assure me, And he kissed my pallid brow, While a reverie came o'er me, And to the church-yard bore me, And I sighed to him before me, Thinking him dead D'Elormie, "Oh, I am happy now!" And thus the words were spoken, And this the plighted vow, And, though my faith be broken, And, though my heart be broken, Here is a ring, as token That I am happy now! Would God I could awaken! For I dream I know not how! And my soul is sorely shaken Lest an evil step be taken,- Lest the dead who is forsaken May not be happy now.
Written by Siegfried Sassoon | Create an image from this poem

Haunted

EVENING was in the wood, louring with storm.
A time of drought had sucked the weedy pool And baked the channels; birds had done with song.
Thirst was a dream of fountains in the moon, Or willow-music blown across the water 5 Leisurely sliding on by weir and mill.
Uneasy was the man who wandered, brooding, His face a little whiter than the dusk.
A drone of sultry wings flicker¡¯d in his head.
The end of sunset burning thro¡¯ the boughs 10 Died in a smear of red; exhausted hours Cumber¡¯d, and ugly sorrows hemmed him in.
He thought: ¡®Somewhere there¡¯s thunder,¡¯ as he strove To shake off dread; he dared not look behind him, But stood, the sweat of horror on his face.
15 He blunder¡¯d down a path, trampling on thistles, In sudden race to leave the ghostly trees.
And: ¡®Soon I¡¯ll be in open fields,¡¯ he thought, And half remembered starlight on the meadows, Scent of mown grass and voices of tired men, 20 Fading along the field-paths; home and sleep And cool-swept upland spaces, whispering leaves, And far off the long churring night-jar¡¯s note.
But something in the wood, trying to daunt him, Led him confused in circles through the thicket.
25 He was forgetting his old wretched folly, And freedom was his need; his throat was choking.
Barbed brambles gripped and clawed him round his legs, And he floundered over snags and hidden stumps.
Mumbling: ¡®I will get out! I must get out!¡¯ 30 Butting and thrusting up the baffling gloom, Pausing to listen in a space ¡¯twixt thorns, He peers around with peering, frantic eyes.
An evil creature in the twilight looping, Flapped blindly in his face.
Beating it off, 35 He screeched in terror, and straightway something clambered Heavily from an oak, and dropped, bent double, To shamble at him zigzag, squat and bestial.
Headlong he charges down the wood, and falls With roaring brain¡ªagony¡ªthe snap¡¯t spark¡ª 40 And blots of green and purple in his eyes.
Then the slow fingers groping on his neck, And at his heart the strangling clasp of death.
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