Constantine P Cavafy |
As you set out for Ithaka
hope your road is a long one,
full of adventure, full of discovery.
angry Poseidon-don't be afraid of them:
you'll never find things like that on your way
as long as you keep your thoughts raised high,
as long as a rare excitement
stirs your spirit and your body.
wild Poseidon-you won't encounter them
unless you bring them along inside your soul,
unless your soul sets them up in front of you.
Hope your road is a long one.
May there be many summer mornings when,
with what pleasure, what joy,
you enter harbors you're seeing for the first time;
may you stop at Phoenician trading stations
to buy fine things,
mother of pearl and coral, amber and ebony,
sensual perfume of every kind-
as many sensual perfumes as you can;
and may you visit many Egyptian cities
to learn and go on learning from their scholars.
Keep Ithaka always in your mind.
Arriving there is what you're destined for.
But don't hurry the journey at all.
Better if it lasts for years,
so you're old by the time you reach the island,
wealthy with all you've gained on the way,
not expecting Ithaka to make you rich.
Ithaka gave you the marvelous journey.
Without her you wouldn't have set out.
She has nothing left to give you now.
And if you find her poor, Ithaka won't have fooled you.
Wise as you will have become, so full of experience,
you'll have understood by then what these Ithakas mean.
Yehuda Amichai |
Not the peace of a cease-fire
not even the vision of the wolf and the lamb,
as in the heart when the excitement is over
and you can talk only about a great weariness.
I know that I know how to kill, that makes me an adult.
And my son plays with a toy gun that knows
how to open and close its eyes and say Mama.
without the big noise of beating swords into ploughshares,
without words, without
the thud of the heavy rubber stamp: let it be
light, floating, like lazy white foam.
A little rest for the wounds - who speaks of healing?
(And the howl of the orphans is passed from one generation
to the next, as in a relay race:
the baton never falls.
Let it come
suddenly, because the field
must have it: wildpeace.
Walt Whitman |
GIVE me the splendid silent sun, with all his beams full-dazzling;
Give me juicy autumnal fruit, ripe and red from the orchard;
Give me a field where the unmow’d grass grows;
Give me an arbor, give me the trellis’d grape;
Give me fresh corn and wheat—give me serene-moving animals, teaching content;
Give me nights perfectly quiet, as on high plateaus west of the Mississippi, and I looking
Give me odorous at sunrise a garden of beautiful flowers, where I can walk
Give me for marriage a sweet-breath’d woman, of whom I should never tire;
Give me a perfect child—give me, away, aside from the noise of the world, a rural,
Give me to warble spontaneous songs, reliev’d, recluse by myself, for my own ears
Give me solitude—give me Nature—give me again, O Nature, your primal sanities!
—These, demanding to have them, (tired with ceaseless excitement, and rack’d by
These to procure, incessantly asking, rising in cries from my heart,
While yet incessantly asking, still I adhere to my city;
Day upon day, and year upon year, O city, walking your streets,
Where you hold me enchain’d a certain time, refusing to give me up;
Yet giving to make me glutted, enrich’d of soul—you give me forever faces;
(O I see what I sought to escape, confronting, reversing my cries;
I see my own soul trampling down what it ask’d for.
Keep your splendid, silent sun;
Keep your woods, O Nature, and the quiet places by the woods;
Keep your fields of clover and timothy, and your corn-fields and orchards;
Keep the blossoming buckwheat fields, where the Ninth-month bees hum;
Give me faces and streets! give me these phantoms incessant and endless along the
Give me interminable eyes! give me women! give me comrades and lovers by the thousand!
Let me see new ones every day! let me hold new ones by the hand every day!
Give me such shows! give me the streets of Manhattan!
Give me Broadway, with the soldiers marching—give me the sound of the trumpets and
(The soldiers in companies or regiments—some, starting away, flush’d and
Some, their time up, returning, with thinn’d ranks—young, yet very old, worn,
—Give me the shores and the wharves heavy-fringed with the black ships!
O such for me! O an intense life! O full to repletion, and varied!
The life of the theatre, bar-room, huge hotel, for me!
The saloon of the steamer! the crowded excursion for me! the torch-light procession!
The dense brigade, bound for the war, with high piled military wagons following;
People, endless, streaming, with strong voices, passions, pageants;
Manhattan streets, with their powerful throbs, with the beating drums, as now;
The endless and noisy chorus, the rustle and clank of muskets, (even the sight of the
Manhattan crowds, with their turbulent musical chorus—with varied chorus, and light
Manhattan faces and eyes forever for me.
John Betjeman |
The sort of girl I like to see
Smiles down from her great height at me.
She stands in strong, athletic pose
And wrinkles her retrouss? nose.
Is it distaste that makes her frown,
So furious and freckled, down
On an unhealthy worm like me?
Or am I what she likes to see?
I do not know, though much I care,
would I were
(Forgive me, shade of Rupert Brooke)
An object fit to claim her look.
Oh! would I were her racket press'd
With hard excitement to her breast
And swished into the sunlit air
Arm-high above her tousled hair,
And banged against the bounding ball
"Oh! Plung!" my tauten'd strings would call,
"Oh! Plung! my darling, break my strings
For you I will do brilliant things.
And when the match is over, I
Would flop beside you, hear you sigh;
And then with what supreme caress,
You'd tuck me up into my press.
Fair tigress of the tennis courts,
So short in sleeve and strong in shorts,
Little, alas, to you I mean,
For I am bald and old and green.
Amy Lowell |
Now what in the name of the sun and the stars
Is the meaning of this most unholy of wars?
Do men find life so full of humour and joy
That for want of excitement they smash up the toy?
Fifteen millions of soldiers with popguns and horses
All bent upon killing, because their "of courses"
Are not quite the same.
All these men by the ears,
And nine nations of women choking with tears.
It is folly to think that the will of a king
Can force men to make ducks and drakes of a thing
They value, and life is, at least one supposes,
Of some little interest, even if roses
Have not grown up between one foot and the other.
What a marvel bureaucracy is, which can smother
Such quite elementary feelings, and tag
A man with a number, and set him to wag
His legs and his arms at the word of command
Or the blow of a whistle! He's certainly damned,
Fit only for mince-meat, if a little gold lace
And an upturned moustache can set him to face
Bullets, and bayonets, and death, and diseases,
Because some one he calls his Emperor, pleases.
If each man were to lay down his weapon, and say,
With a click of his heels, "I wish you Good-day,"
Now what, may I ask, could the Emperor do?
A king and his minions are really so few.
Angry? Oh, of course, a most furious Emperor!
But the men are so many they need not mind his temper, or
The dire results which could not be inflicted.
With no one to execute sentence, convicted
Is just the weak wind from an old, broken bellows.
What lackeys men are, who might be such fine fellows!
To be killing each other, unmercifully,
At an order, as though one said, "Bring up the tea.
Or is it that tasting the blood on their jaws
They lap at it, drunk with its ferment, and laws
So patiently builded, are nothing to drinking
More blood, any blood.
They don't notice its stinking.
I don't suppose tigers do, fighting cocks, sparrows,
And, as to men -- what are men, when their marrows
Are running with blood they have gulped; it is plain
Such excellent sport does not recollect pain.
Toll the bells in the steeples left standing.
The flags which meant order, for order is past.
Take the dust of the streets and sprinkle your head,
The civilization we've worked for is dead.
Squeeze into this archway, the head of the line
Has just swung round the corner to `Die Wacht am Rhein'.
Marianne Moore |
Writing is exciting
and baseball is like writing.
You can never tell with either
how it will go
or what you will do;
a fever in the victim--
pitcher, catcher, fielder, batter.
Victim in what category?
Owlman watching from the press box?
To whom does it apply?
Who is excited?Might it be I?
It's a pitcher's battle all the way--a duel--
a catcher's, as, with cruel
puma paw, Elston Howard lumbers lightly
back to plate.
de-winged a bat swing.
They have that killer instinct;
yet Elston--whose catching
arm has hurt them all with the bat--
when questioned, says, unenviously,
"I'm very satisfied.
Shorn of the batting crown, says, "We";
robbed by a technicality.
When three players on a side play three positions
and modify conditions,
the massive run need not be everything.
"Going, going .
has it, running fast.
never see a finer catch.
"Mickey, leaping like the devil"--why
gild it, although deer sounds better--
snares what was speeding towards its treetop nest,
one-handing the souvenir-to-be
meant to be caught by you or me.
Assign Yogi Berra to Cape Canaveral;
he could handle any missile.
He is no feather.
You would infer
that the bat had eyes.
He put the wood to that one.
Praised, Skowron says, "Thanks, Mel.
I think I helped a little bit.
All business, each, and modesty.
Blanchard, Richardson, Kubek, Boyer.
In that galaxy of nine, say which
won the pennant?Each.
It was he.
Those two magnificent saves from the knee-throws
by Boyer, finesses in twos--
like Whitey's three kinds of pitch and pre-
with pick-off psychosis.
Pitching is a large subject.
Your arm, too true at first, can learn to
catch your corners--even trouble
("Grazed a Yankee!
My baby pitcher, Montejo!"
With some pedagogy,
you'll be tough, premature prodigy.
They crowd him and curve him and aim for the knees.
indeed!The secret implying:
"I can stand here, bat held steady.
One may suit him;
none has hit him.
Imponderables smite him.
Muscle kinks, infections, spike wounds
require food, rest, respite from ruffians.
Celebrity costs privacy!)
Cow's milk, "tiger's milk," soy milk, carrot juice,
brewer's yeast (high-potency--
concentrates presage victory
sped by Luis Arroyo, Hector Lopez--
deadly in a pinch.
it's work; I want you to bear down,
but enjoy it
while you're doing it.
Houk and Mr.
if you have a rummage sale,
don't sell Roland Sheldon or Tom Tresh.
Studded with stars in belt and crown,
the Stadium is an adastrium.
O flashing Orion,
your stars are muscled like the lion.
Elizabeth Bishop |
Land lies in water; it is shadowed green.
Shadows, or are they shallows, at its edges
showing the line of long sea-weeded ledges
where weeds hang to the simple blue from green.
Or does the land lean down to lift the sea from under,
drawing it unperturbed around itself?
Along the fine tan sandy shelf
is the land tugging at the sea from under?
The shadow of Newfoundland lies flat and still.
Labrador's yellow, where the moony Eskimo
has oiled it.
We can stroke these lovely bays,
under a glass as if they were expected to blossom,
or as if to provide a clean cage for invisible fish.
The names of seashore towns run out to sea,
the names of cities cross the neighboring mountains
--the printer here experiencing the same excitement
as when emotion too far exceeds its cause.
These peninsulas take the water between thumb and finger
like women feeling for the smoothness of yard-goods.
Mapped waters are more quiet than the land is,
lending the land their waves' own conformation:
and Norway's hare runs south in agitation,
profiles investigate the sea, where land is.
Are they assigned, or can the countries pick their colors?
--What suits the character or the native waters best.
Topography displays no favorites; North's as near as West.
More delicate than the historians' are the map-makers' colors.
Rg Gregory |
ban all fires
and places where people congregate
to create comfort
put an end to sleep
and the delectation of wine
tear lovers apart
piss on the sun and moon
degut all heavenly harmony
strike out across the bitter ice
and the poisonous marshes
make (if you dare) a better world
(b) expect poison from standing water
why not as a joke one night
pick up your bed and walk
to washington – sleep
your damned sleep in its streets
so that one bright metallic morning
it can wake up to the stench
and fermentation of flesh
the gutrot of nerves – the blood’s
green effervescence so active
your skin has a job to keep it all in
isn’t that what things with the palsy
are supposed to do – lovely lake
give the world the miracle it waits for
what a laugh that would be
especially if washington lost its temper
and screamed christ lake erie
i don’t even know what to do
with my own garbage
pollution is just one of those things
go on lake erie
do it tonight
(c) drive your cart and your plow over the bones of the dead
isn't the next one
i don't want to live any more in an old way
yes it is
to be a socialist wearing capitalism's cap
a teacher in the shadow of a dead headmaster
a tree using somebody else's old sap
i want to build my future out of new emotions
to seek more than my own in a spring surround
to move amongst people keen to move outwards
putting love and ideas into fresh ground
who will come with me across this border
not anywhere but in the bonds we make
taking the old apart to find new order
living ourselves boldly for each other's sake
then love is
if you ask me today what love is
i should have to name the people i love
and perhaps because it's spring
and i cannot control the knife that's in me
their names would surprise me as much as you
for years i have assumed that love is bloody
a thing locked up in house and a family tree
but suddenly its ache goes out beyond me
and the first love is greater for the new
this year more than any other
the winter has savaged my deepest roots
and the easter sun is banging hard against the window
the arms of my loves are flowering widely
and over the fields a new definition is running
even though the streets we walk cannot be altered
and faces there are that will not understand
we have a sun born of our mutual longings
whose shine is a hard fact - love is a new land
i haven't felt this young for twenty years
yesterday i felt twenty years older
then i had the curtains drawn over recluse fears
today the sun comes in and instantly it's colder
must shave and get dressed - i'm being nagged
to shove my suspicions in a corner and get out
what use the sun if being plagued with new life
i can't throw off this centrally-heated doubt
accept people with ice in their brows
are the new spartans - they wait
shall i go with them
indoor delights that slowly breed into lies
need to be dumped out of doors - and paralysis with them
no leave it
there's still one more
the need now
the need now is to chronicle new times
by their own statutes not as fag-ends of the old
ideas stand out bravely against the surrounding grey
seeking their own order in what themselves proclaim
fortresses no longer belong by right to an older day
i want to gather in my hands things i believe in
not to be told that other rules prevail - there is
a treading forward to be done of great excitement
and people to be found who by the old laws
should be little more than dead
is cutting like spring into a bitter winter
and there is this smashing of many concrete shells
a dream with the cheek to be aggressive has assumed
its own flesh and bone and will not put up with sleep
as its prime condition - life out of death is exhumed
it's the other side
is so disappointing
leave it for now
there follows a brief interlude in honour of mr vasko popa
(the yugoslav poet who in a short visit to this country
has stayed a long time)
and it will not now take place
this game is called x
no one else can play
when the game is over
we have all joined in
those who have not been playing
have to give in an ear
if you don't have an ear
use one of those lying about
left over from the last time
the game wasn't played
this game is not to do with ears
shooting must be done from the heart
x sits in the middle of the ring - he
has gone for a stroll up his left nostril
how can he seize a left-over ear
and drag it under the ground
hands up if you have been shot from the heart
x comes up in the middle of himself
in this way the game is over before
it began and everyone willy-nilly
has had to go home
before he could put a foot outside
(d) enough! – or too much
i let fly
too many words
i bang away
at the seed
but can’t break it
hurt i turn to
castles with cards
if you can’t split
man stop writing
Edward Taylor |
A motorist once said to me,
and this was in the country,
on a county lane, a motorist
slowed his vehicle as I was
walking my dear old collie,
Sithney, by the side of the road,
and the motorist came to a halt
mildly alarming both Sithney and myself,
not yet accustomed to automobiles,
and this particular motorist
sent a little spasm of fright up our spines,
which in turn panicked the driver a bit
and it seemed as if we were off to a bad start,
and that's when Sithney began to bark
and the man could not be heard, that is,
if he was speaking or trying to speak
because I was commanding Sithnewy to be silent,
though, indeed I was sympathetic
to his emotional excitement.
It was, as I recall, a day of prodigious beauty.
April 21, 1932--clouds
like the inside of your head explained.
Bluebirds, too numerous to mention.
The clover calling you by name.
And fields oozing green.
And this motorist from nowhere
moving his lips
like the wings of a butterfly
and nothing coming out,
and Sithney silent now.
He was no longer looking at us,
but straight ahead
where his election was in doubt.
"That's a fine dog," he said.
"Collies are made in heaven.
Well, if I were a voting man I'd vote for you, I said.
"A bedoozling day to be lost in the country, I say.
Leastways, I am a misplaced individual.
We introduced ourselves
and swapped a few stories.
He was a veteran and a salesmen
who didn't believe in his product--
I've forgotten what it was--hair restorer,
parrot feed--and he enjoyed nothing more
then a a day spent meandering the back roads
in his jalopy.
I gave him directions
to the Denton farm, but I doubt
that he followed them, he didn't
seem to be listening, and it was getting late
and Sithney had an idea of his own
and I don't know why I am remembering this now,
just that he summed himself up by saying
"I've missed too many boats"
and all these years later
I keep thinking that was a man
who loved to miss boats,
but he didn't miss them that much.
Craig Raine |
So how is life with your new bloke?
Simpler, I bet.
Just one stroke
of his quivering oar and the skin
of the Thames goes into a spin,
eh? How is life with an oarsman? Better?
More in--out? Athletic? Wetter?
When you hear the moan of the rowlocks,
do you urge him on like a cox?
Tell me, is he bright enough to find
that memo-pad you call a mind?
Or has he contrived to bring you out--
given you an in-tray and an out?
How did I ever fall for a paper-clip?
How could I ever listen to office gossip
even in bed and find it so intelligent?
Was is straight biological bent?
I suppose you go jogging together?
Tackle the Ridgeway in nasty weather?
Face force 55 gales and chat about prep
or how you bested that Birmingham rep?
He must be mad with excitement.
So must you.
What an incitement
to lust all those press-ups must be.
Or is it just the same? PE?
Tell me, I'm curious.
Is it fun
being in love with just anyone?
How do you remember his face
if you meet in a public place?
Perhaps you know him by his shoes?
Or do you sometimes choose
another pinstriped clone
by accident and drag that home
instead? From what you say,
For a Chekhov play.
Tall and dark and brightly dim,
Kulygin's part was made for him.
Imagine your life with a 'beak'.
Week after week after week
like homework or detention;
all that standing to attention
whenever his colleagues drop in
for a spot of what's-your-toxin.
Speech Day, matron, tuck-shop, Christ,
you'll find school fees are over-priced
and leave, but not come back to me.
You've done your bit for poetry.
Words, or deeds? You'll stick to youth.
I'm a stickler for the truth--
which makes me wonder what it was
I loved you for.
Tell me, because
now I feel nothing--except regret.
What is it, love, I need to forget?