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Best Famous Farm Poems

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12
Written by Walt Whitman | Create an image from this poem

To Think of Time

 1
TO think of time—of all that retrospection! 
To think of to-day, and the ages continued henceforward! 

Have you guess’d you yourself would not continue? 
Have you dreaded these earth-beetles? 
Have you fear’d the future would be nothing to you?

Is to-day nothing? Is the beginningless past nothing? 
If the future is nothing, they are just as surely nothing.
To think that the sun rose in the east! that men and women were flexible, real, alive! that everything was alive! To think that you and I did not see, feel, think, nor bear our part! To think that we are now here, and bear our part! 2 Not a day passes—not a minute or second, without an accouchement! Not a day passes—not a minute or second, without a corpse! The dull nights go over, and the dull days also, The soreness of lying so much in bed goes over, The physician, after long putting off, gives the silent and terrible look for an answer, The children come hurried and weeping, and the brothers and sisters are sent for, Medicines stand unused on the shelf—(the camphor-smell has long pervaded the rooms,) The faithful hand of the living does not desert the hand of the dying, The twitching lips press lightly on the forehead of the dying, The breath ceases, and the pulse of the heart ceases, The corpse stretches on the bed, and the living look upon it, It is palpable as the living are palpable.
The living look upon the corpse with their eye-sight, But without eye-sight lingers a different living, and looks curiously on the corpse.
3 To think the thought of Death, merged in the thought of materials! To think that the rivers will flow, and the snow fall, and fruits ripen, and act upon others as upon us now—yet not act upon us! To think of all these wonders of city and country, and others taking great interest in them—and we taking no interest in them! To think how eager we are in building our houses! To think others shall be just as eager, and we quite indifferent! (I see one building the house that serves him a few years, or seventy or eighty years at most, I see one building the house that serves him longer than that.
) Slow-moving and black lines creep over the whole earth—they never cease—they are the burial lines, He that was President was buried, and he that is now President shall surely be buried.
4 A reminiscence of the vulgar fate, A frequent sample of the life and death of workmen, Each after his kind: Cold dash of waves at the ferry-wharf—posh and ice in the river, half-frozen mud in the streets, a gray, discouraged sky overhead, the short, last daylight of Twelfth-month, A hearse and stages—other vehicles give place—the funeral of an old Broadway stage-driver, the cortege mostly drivers.
Steady the trot to the cemetery, duly rattles the death-bell, the gate is pass’d, the new-dug grave is halted at, the living alight, the hearse uncloses, The coffin is pass’d out, lower’d and settled, the whip is laid on the coffin, the earth is swiftly shovel’d in, The mound above is flatted with the spades—silence, A minute—no one moves or speaks—it is done, He is decently put away—is there anything more? He was a good fellow, free-mouth’d, quick-temper’d, not bad-looking, able to take his own part, witty, sensitive to a slight, ready with life or death for a friend, fond of women, gambled, ate hearty, drank hearty, had known what it was to be flush, grew low-spirited toward the last, sicken’d, was help’d by a contribution, died, aged forty-one years—and that was his funeral.
Thumb extended, finger uplifted, apron, cape, gloves, strap, wet-weather clothes, whip carefully chosen, boss, spotter, starter, hostler, somebody loafing on you, you loafing on somebody, headway, man before and man behind, good day’s work, bad day’s work, pet stock, mean stock, first out, last out, turning-in at night; To think that these are so much and so nigh to other drivers—and he there takes no interest in them! 5 The markets, the government, the working-man’s wages—to think what account they are through our nights and days! To think that other working-men will make just as great account of them—yet we make little or no account! The vulgar and the refined—what you call sin, and what you call goodness—to think how wide a difference! To think the difference will still continue to others, yet we lie beyond the difference.
To think how much pleasure there is! Have you pleasure from looking at the sky? have you pleasure from poems? Do you enjoy yourself in the city? or engaged in business? or planning a nomination and election? or with your wife and family? Or with your mother and sisters? or in womanly housework? or the beautiful maternal cares? —These also flow onward to others—you and I flow onward, But in due time, you and I shall take less interest in them.
Your farm, profits, crops,—to think how engross’d you are! To think there will still be farms, profits, crops—yet for you, of what avail? 6 What will be, will be well—for what is, is well, To take interest is well, and not to take interest shall be well.
The sky continues beautiful, The pleasure of men with women shall never be sated, nor the pleasure of women with men, nor the pleasure from poems, The domestic joys, the daily housework or business, the building of houses—these are not phantasms—they have weight, form, location; Farms, profits, crops, markets, wages, government, are none of them phantasms, The difference between sin and goodness is no delusion, The earth is not an echo—man and his life, and all the things of his life, are well-consider’d.
You are not thrown to the winds—you gather certainly and safely around yourself; Yourself! Yourself! Yourself, forever and ever! 7 It is not to diffuse you that you were born of your mother and father—it is to identify you; It is not that you should be undecided, but that you should be decided; Something long preparing and formless is arrived and form’d in you, You are henceforth secure, whatever comes or goes.
The threads that were spun are gather’d, the weft crosses the warp, the pattern is systematic.
The preparations have every one been justified, The orchestra have sufficiently tuned their instruments—the baton has given the signal.
The guest that was coming—he waited long, for reasons—he is now housed, He is one of those who are beautiful and happy—he is one of those that to look upon and be with is enough.
The law of the past cannot be eluded, The law of the present and future cannot be eluded, The law of the living cannot be eluded—it is eternal, The law of promotion and transformation cannot be eluded, The law of heroes and good-doers cannot be eluded, The law of drunkards, informers, mean persons—not one iota thereof can be eluded.
8 Slow moving and black lines go ceaselessly over the earth, Northerner goes carried, and Southerner goes carried, and they on the Atlantic side, and they on the Pacific, and they between, and all through the Mississippi country, and all over the earth.
The great masters and kosmos are well as they go—the heroes and good-doers are well, The known leaders and inventors, and the rich owners and pious and distinguish’d, may be well, But there is more account than that—there is strict account of all.
The interminable hordes of the ignorant and wicked are not nothing, The barbarians of Africa and Asia are not nothing, The common people of Europe are not nothing—the American aborigines are not nothing, The infected in the immigrant hospital are not nothing—the murderer or mean person is not nothing, The perpetual successions of shallow people are not nothing as they go, The lowest prostitute is not nothing—the mocker of religion is not nothing as he goes.
9 Of and in all these things, I have dream’d that we are not to be changed so much, nor the law of us changed, I have dream’d that heroes and good-doers shall be under the present and past law, And that murderers, drunkards, liars, shall be under the present and past law, For I have dream’d that the law they are under now is enough.
If otherwise, all came but to ashes of dung, If maggots and rats ended us, then Alarum! for we are betray’d! Then indeed suspicion of death.
Do you suspect death? If I were to suspect death, I should die now, Do you think I could walk pleasantly and well-suited toward annihilation? 10 Pleasantly and well-suited I walk, Whither I walk I cannot define, but I know it is good, The whole universe indicates that it is good, The past and the present indicate that it is good.
How beautiful and perfect are the animals! How perfect the earth, and the minutest thing upon it! What is called good is perfect, and what is called bad is just as perfect, The vegetables and minerals are all perfect, and the imponderable fluids are perfect; Slowly and surely they have pass’d on to this, and slowly and surely they yet pass on.
11 I swear I think now that everything without exception has an eternal Soul! The trees have, rooted in the ground! the weeds of the sea have! the animals! I swear I think there is nothing but immortality! That the exquisite scheme is for it, and the nebulous float is for it, and the cohering is for it; And all preparation is for it! and identity is for it! and life and materials are altogether for it
Written by Charlotte Bronte | Create an image from this poem

The Wood

 BUT two miles more, and then we rest ! 
Well, there is still an hour of day, 
And long the brightness of the West 
Will light us on our devious way; 
Sit then, awhile, here in this wood­ 
So total is the solitude, 
We safely may delay.
These massive roots afford a seat, Which seems for weary travellers made.
There rest.
The air is soft and sweet In this sequestered forest glade, And there are scents of flowers around, The evening dew draws from the ground; How soothingly they spread ! Yes; I was tired, but not at heart; No­that beats full of sweet content, For now I have my natural part Of action with adventure blent; Cast forth on the wide vorld with thee, And all my once waste energy To weighty purpose bent.
Yet­say'st thou, spies around us roam, Our aims are termed conspiracy ? Haply, no more our English home An anchorage for us may be ? That there is risk our mutual blood May redden in some lonely wood The knife of treachery ? Say'st thou­that where we lodge each night, In each lone farm, or lonelier hall Of Norman Peer­ere morning light Suspicion must as duly fall, As day returns­such vigilance Presides and watches over France, Such rigour governs all ? I fear not, William; dost thou fear ? So that the knife does not divide, It may be ever hovering near: I could not tremble at thy side, And strenuous love­like mine for thee­ Is buckler strong, 'gainst treachery, And turns its stab aside.
I am resolved that thou shalt learn To trust my strength as I trust thine; I am resolved our souls shall burn, With equal, steady, mingling shine; Part of the field is conquered now, Our lives in the same channel flow, Along the self-same line; And while no groaning storm is heard, Thou seem'st content it should be so, But soon as comes a warning word Of danger­straight thine anxious brow Bends over me a mournful shade, As doubting if my powers are made To ford the floods of woe.
Know, then it is my spirit swells, And drinks, with eager joy, the air Of freedom­where at last it dwells, Chartered, a common task to share With thee, and then it stirs alert, And pants to learn what menaced hurt Demands for thee its care.
Remember, I have crossed the deep, And stood with thee on deck, to gaze On waves that rose in threatening heap, While stagnant lay a heavy haze, Dimly confusing sea with sky, And baffling, even, the pilot's eye, Intent to thread the maze­ Of rocks, on Bretagne's dangerous coast, And find a way to steer our band To the one point obscure, which lost, Flung us, as victims, on the strand;­ All, elsewhere, gleamed the Gallic sword, And not a wherry could be moored Along the guarded land.
I feared not then­I fear not now; The interest of each stirring scene Wakes a new sense, a welcome glow, In every nerve and bounding vein; Alike on turbid Channel sea, Or in still wood of Normandy, I feel as born again.
The rain descended that wild morn When, anchoring in the cove at last, Our band, all weary and forlorn, Ashore, like wave-worn sailors, cast­ Sought for a sheltering roof in vain, And scarce could scanty food obtain To break their morning fast.
Thou didst thy crust with me divide, Thou didst thy cloak around me fold; And, sitting silent by thy side, I ate the bread in peace untold: Given kindly from thy hand, 'twas sweet As costly fare or princely treat On royal plate of gold.
Sharp blew the sleet upon my face, And, rising wild, the gusty wind Drove on those thundering waves apace, Our crew so late had left behind; But, spite of frozen shower and storm, So close to thee, my heart beat warm, And tranquil slept my mind.
So now­nor foot-sore nor opprest With walking all this August day, I taste a heaven in this brief rest, This gipsy-halt beside the way.
England's wild flowers are fair to view, Like balm is England's summer dew, Like gold her sunset ray.
But the white violets, growing here, Are sweeter than I yet have seen, And ne'er did dew so pure and clear Distil on forest mosses green, As now, called forth by summer heat, Perfumes our cool and fresh retreat­ These fragrant limes between.
That sunset ! Look beneath the boughs, Over the copse­beyond the hills; How soft, yet deep and warm it glows, And heaven with rich suffusion fills; With hues where still the opal's tint, Its gleam of poisoned fire is blent, Where flame through azure thrills ! Depart we now­for fast will fade That solemn splendour of decline, And deep must be the after-shade As stars alone to-night will shine; No moon is destined­pale­to gaze On such a day's vast Phoenix blaze, A day in fires decayed ! There­hand-in-hand we tread again The mazes of this varying wood, And soon, amid a cultured plain, Girt in with fertile solitude, We shall our resting-place descry, Marked by one roof-tree, towering high Above a farm-stead rude.
Refreshed, erelong, with rustic fare, We'll seek a couch of dreamless ease; Courage will guard thy heart from fear, And Love give mine divinest peace: To-morrow brings more dangerous toil, And through its conflict and turmoil We'll pass, as God shall please.
Written by William Wordsworth | Create an image from this poem

WE ARE SEVEN

  A simple child, dear brother Jim,
  That lightly draws its breath,
  And feels its life in every limb,
  What should it know of death?

  I met a little cottage girl,
  She was eight years old, she said;
  Her hair was thick with many a curl
  That cluster'd round her head.

  She had a rustic, woodland air,
  And she was wildly clad;
  Her eyes were fair, and very fair,
  —Her beauty made me glad.

  "Sisters and brothers, little maid,
  How many may you be?"
  "How many? seven in all," she said,
  And wondering looked at me.

  "And where are they, I pray you tell?"
  She answered, "Seven are we,
  And two of us at Conway dwell,
  And two are gone to sea.
"

  "Two of us in the church-yard lie,
  My sister and my brother,
  And in the church-yard cottage, I
  Dwell near them with my mother.
"

  "You say that two at Conway dwell,
  And two are gone to sea,
  Yet you are seven; I pray you tell
  Sweet Maid, how this may be?"

  Then did the little Maid reply,
  "Seven boys and girls are we;
  Two of us in the church-yard lie,
  Beneath the church-yard tree.
"

  "You run about, my little maid,
  Your limbs they are alive;
  If two are in the church-yard laid,
  Then ye are only five.
"

  "Their graves are green, they may be seen,"
  The little Maid replied,
  "Twelve steps or more from my mother's door,
  And they are side by side.
"

  "My stockings there I often knit,
  My 'kerchief there I hem;
  And there upon the ground I sit—
  I sit and sing to them.
"

  "And often after sunset, Sir,
  When it is light and fair,
  I take my little porringer,
  And eat my supper there.
"

  "The first that died was little Jane;
  In bed she moaning lay,
  Till God released her of her pain,
  And then she went away.
"

  "So in the church-yard she was laid,
  And all the summer dry,
  Together round her grave we played,
  My brother John and I.
"

  "And when the ground was white with snow,
  And I could run and slide,
  My brother John was forced to go,
  And he lies by her side.
"

  "How many are you then," said I,
  "If they two are in Heaven?"
  The little Maiden did reply,
  "O Master! we are seven.
"

  "But they are dead; those two are dead!
  Their spirits are in heaven!"
  'Twas throwing words away; for still
  The little Maid would have her will,
  And said, "Nay, we are seven!"

ANECDOTE for FATHERS,
   Shewing how the practice of Lying may be taught.

  I have a boy of five years old,
  His face is fair and fresh to see;
  His limbs are cast in beauty's mould,
  And dearly he loves me.

  One morn we stroll'd on our dry walk,
  Our quiet house all full in view,
  And held such intermitted talk
  As we are wont to do.

  My thoughts on former pleasures ran;
  I thought of Kilve's delightful shore,
  My pleasant home, when Spring began,
  A long, long year before.

  A day it was when I could bear
  To think, and think, and think again;
  With so much happiness to spare,
  I could not feel a pain.

  My boy was by my side, so slim
  And graceful in his rustic dress!
  And oftentimes I talked to him
  In very idleness.

  The young lambs ran a pretty race;
  The morning sun shone bright and warm;
  "Kilve," said I, "was a pleasant place,
  And so is Liswyn farm.
"

  "My little boy, which like you more,"
  I said and took him by the arm—
  "Our home by Kilve's delightful shore,
  Or here at Liswyn farm?"

  "And tell me, had you rather be,"
  I said and held-him by the arm,
  "At Kilve's smooth shore by the green sea,
  Or here at Liswyn farm?"

  In careless mood he looked at me,
  While still I held him by the arm,
  And said, "At Kilve I'd rather be
  Than here at Liswyn farm.
"

  "Now, little Edward, say why so;
  My little Edward, tell me why;"
  "I cannot tell, I do not know.
"
  "Why this is strange," said I.

  "For, here are woods and green hills warm:
  There surely must some reason be
  Why you would change sweet Liswyn farm,
  For Kilve by the green sea.
"

  At this, my boy hung down his head,
  He blush'd with shame, nor made reply;
  And five times to the child I said,
  "Why, Edward, tell me, why?"

  His head he raised—there was in sight,
  It caught his eye, he saw it plain—
  Upon the house-top, glittering bright,
  A broad and gilded vane.

  Then did the boy his tongue unlock,
  And thus to me he made reply;
  "At Kilve there was no weather-cock,
  And that's the reason why.
"

  Oh dearest, dearest boy! my heart
  For better lore would seldom yearn
  Could I but teach the hundredth part
  Of what from thee I learn.

LINES
  Written at a small distance from my House, and sent by
  my little boy to the person to whom they are addressed.

  It is the first mild day of March:
  Each minute sweeter than before,
  The red-breast sings from the tall larch
  That stands beside our door.

  There is a blessing in the air,
  Which seems a sense of joy to yield
  To the bare trees, and mountains bare,
  And grass in the green field.

  My Sister! ('tis a wish of mine)
  Now that our morning meal is done,
  Make haste, your morning task resign;
  Come forth and feel the sun.

  Edward will come with you, and pray,
  Put on with speed your woodland dress,
  And bring no book, for this one day
  We'll give to idleness.

  No joyless forms shall regulate
  Our living Calendar:
  We from to-day, my friend, will date
  The opening of the year.

  Love, now an universal birth,
  From heart to heart is stealing,
  From earth to man, from man to earth,
  —It is the hour of feeling.

  One moment now may give us more
  Than fifty years of reason;
  Our minds shall drink at every pore
  The spirit of the season.

  Some silent laws our hearts may make,
  Which they shall long obey;
  We for the year to come may take
  Our temper from to-day.

  And from the blessed power that rolls
  About, below, above;
  We'll frame the measure of our souls,
  They shall be tuned to love.

  Then come, my sister I come, I pray,
  With speed put on your woodland dress,
  And bring no book; for this one day
  We'll give to idleness.

Written by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow | Create an image from this poem

Paul Reveres Ride

Listen, my children, and you shall hear 
Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere, 
On the eighteenth of April, in Seventy-Five: 
Hardly a man is now alive 
Who remembers that famous day and year.
He said to his friend, "If the British march By land or sea from the town to-night, Hang a lantern aloft in the belfry-arch Of the North-Church-tower, as a signal-light,-- One if by land, and two if by sea; And I on the opposite shore will be, Ready to ride and spread the alarm Through every Middlesex village and farm, For the country-folk to be up and to arm.
" Then he said "Good night!" and with muffled oar Silently rowed to the Charlestown shore, Just as the moon rose over the bay, Where swinging wide at her moorings lay The Somerset, British man-of-war: A phantom ship, with each mast and spar Across the moon, like a prison-bar, And a huge black hulk, that was magnified By its own reflection in the tide.
Meanwhile, his friend, through alley and street Wanders and watches with eager ears, Till in the silence around him he hears The muster of men at the barrack door, The sound of arms, and the tramp of feet, And the measured tread of the grenadiers Marching down to their boats on the shore.
Then he climbed to the tower of the church, Up the wooden stairs, with stealthy tread, To the belfry-chamber overhead, And startled the pigeons from their perch On the sombre rafters, that round him made Masses and moving shapes of shade,-- By the trembling ladder, steep and tall, To the highest window in the wall, Where he paused to listen and look down A moment on the roofs of the town, And the moonlight flowing over all.
Beneath, in the churchyard, lay the dead, In their night-encampment on the hill, Wrapped in silence so deep and still That he could hear, like a sentinel's tread, The watchful night-wind, as it went Creeping along from tent to tent, And seeming to whisper, "All is well!" A moment only he feels the spell Of the place and the hour, and the secret dread Of the lonely belfry and the dead; For suddenly all his thoughts are bent On a shadowy something far away, Where the river widens to meet the bay, -- A line of black, that bends and floats On the rising tide, like a bridge of boats.
Meanwhile, impatient to mount and ride, Booted and spurred, with a heavy stride, On the opposite shore walked Paul Revere.
Now he patted his horse's side, Now gazed on the landscape far and near, Then impetuous stamped the earth, And turned and tightened his saddle-girth; But mostly he watched with eager search The belfry-tower of the old North Church, As it rose above the graves on the hill, Lonely and spectral and sombre and still.
And lo! as he looks, on the belfry's height, A glimmer, and then a gleam of light! He springs to the saddle, the bridle he turns, But lingers and gazes, till full on his sight A second lamp in the belfry burns! A hurry of hoofs in a village-street, A shape in the moonlight, a bulk in the dark, And beneath from the pebbles, in passing, a spark Struck out by a steed that flies fearless and fleet: That was all! And yet, through the gloom and the light, The fate of a nation was riding that night; And the spark struck out by that steed, in his flight, Kindled the land into flame with its heat.
He has left the village and mounted the steep, And beneath him, tranquil and broad and deep, Is the Mystic, meeting the ocean tides; And under the alders, that skirt its edge, Now soft on the sand, now load on the ledge, Is heard the tramp of his steed as he rides.
It was twelve by the village clock When he crossed the bridge into Medford town.
He heard the crowing of the cock, And the barking of the farmer's dog, And felt the damp of the river-fog, That rises when the sun goes down.
It was one by the village clock, When he galloped into Lexington.
He saw the gilded weathercock Swim in the moonlight as he passed, And the meeting-house windows, blank and bare, Gaze at him with a spectral glare, As if they already stood aghast At the bloody work they would look upon.
It was two by the village clock, When be came to the bridge in Concord town.
He heard the bleating of the flock, And the twitter of birds among the trees, And felt the breath of the morning breeze Blowing over the meadows brown.
And one was safe and asleep in his bed Who at the bridge would be first to fall, Who that day would be lying dead, Pierced by a British musket-ball.
You know the rest.
In the books you have read, How the British Regulars fired and fled,-- How the farmers gave them ball for ball, From behind each fence and farmyard-wall, Chasing the red-coats down the lane, Then crossing the fields to emerge again Under the trees at the turn of the road, And only pausing to fire and load.
So through the night rode Paul Revere; And so through the night went his cry of alarm To every Middlesex village and farm,-- A cry of defiance, and not of fear, A voice in the darkness, a knock at the door, And a word that shall echo forevermore! For, borne on the night-wind of the Past, Through all our history, to the last, In the hour of darkness and peril and need, The people will waken and listen to hear The hurrying hoof-beats of that steed, And the midnight message of Paul Revere.
Written by Adrienne Rich | Create an image from this poem

Stepping Backward

 Good-by to you whom I shall see tomorrow,
Next year and when I'm fifty; still good-by.
This is the leave we never really take.
If you were dead or gone to live in China The event might draw your stature in my mind.
I should be forced to look upon you whole The way we look upon the things we lose.
We see each other daily and in segments; Parting might make us meet anew, entire.
You asked me once, and I could give no answer, How far dare we throw off the daily ruse, Official treacheries of face and name, Have out our true identity? I could hazard An answer now, if you are asking still.
We are a small and lonely human race Showing no sign of mastering solitude Out on this stony planet that we farm.
The most that we can do for one another Is let our blunders and our blind mischances Argue a certain brusque abrupt compassion.
We might as well be truthful.
I should say They're luckiest who know they're not unique; But only art or common interchange Can teach that kindest truth.
And even art Can only hint at what disturbed a Melville Or calmed a Mahler's frenzy; you and I Still look from separate windows every morning Upon the same white daylight in the square.
And when we come into each other's rooms Once in awhile, encumbered and self-conscious, We hover awkwardly about the threshold And usually regret the visit later.
Perhaps the harshest fact is, only lovers-- And once in a while two with the grace of lovers-- Unlearn that clumsiness of rare intrusion And let each other freely come and go.
Most of us shut too quickly into cupboards The margin-scribbled books, the dried geranium, The penny horoscope, letters never mailed.
The door may open, but the room is altered; Not the same room we look from night and day.
It takes a late and slowly blooming wisdom To learn that those we marked infallible Are tragi-comic stumblers like ourselves.
The knowledge breeds reserve.
We walk on tiptoe, Demanding more than we know how to render.
Two-edged discovery hunts us finally down; The human act will make us real again, And then perhaps we come to know each other.
Let us return to imperfection's school.
No longer wandering after Plato's ghost, Seeking the garden where all fruit is flawless, We must at last renounce that ultimate blue And take a walk in other kinds of weather.
The sourest apple makes its wry announcement That imperfection has a certain tang.
Maybe we shouldn't turn our pockets out To the last crumb or lingering bit of fluff, But all we can confess of what we are Has in it the defeat of isolation-- If not our own, then someone's, anyway.
So I come back to saying this good-by, A sort of ceremony of my own, This stepping backward for another glance.
Perhaps you'll say we need no ceremony, Because we know each other, crack and flaw, Like two irregular stones that fit together.
Yet still good-by, because we live by inches And only sometimes see the full dimension.
Your stature's one I want to memorize-- Your whole level of being, to impose On any other comers, man or woman.
I'd ask them that they carry what they are With your particular bearing, as you wear The flaws that make you both yourself and human.
Written by Robert Frost | Create an image from this poem

In the Home Stretch

 SHE stood against the kitchen sink, and looked
Over the sink out through a dusty window
At weeds the water from the sink made tall.
She wore her cape; her hat was in her hand.
Behind her was confusion in the room, Of chairs turned upside down to sit like people In other chairs, and something, come to look, For every room a house has—parlor, bed-room, And dining-room—thrown pell-mell in the kitchen.
And now and then a smudged, infernal face Looked in a door behind her and addressed Her back.
She always answered without turning.
“Where will I put this walnut bureau, lady?” “Put it on top of something that’s on top Of something else,” she laughed.
“Oh, put it where You can to-night, and go.
It’s almost dark; You must be getting started back to town.
” Another blackened face thrust in and looked And smiled, and when she did not turn, spoke gently, “What are you seeing out the window, lady?” “Never was I beladied so before.
Would evidence of having been called lady More than so many times make me a lady In common law, I wonder.
” “But I ask, What are you seeing out the window, lady?” “What I’ll be seeing more of in the years To come as here I stand and go the round Of many plates with towels many times.
” “And what is that? You only put me off.
” “Rank weeds that love the water from the dish-pan More than some women like the dish-pan, Joe; A little stretch of mowing-field for you; Not much of that until I come to woods That end all.
And it’s scarce enough to call A view.
” “And yet you think you like it, dear?” “That’s what you’re so concerned to know! You hope I like it.
Bang goes something big away Off there upstairs.
The very tread of men As great as those is shattering to the frame Of such a little house.
Once left alone, You and I, dear, will go with softer steps Up and down stairs and through the rooms, and none But sudden winds that snatch them from our hands Will ever slam the doors.
” “I think you see More than you like to own to out that window.
” “No; for besides the things I tell you of, I only see the years.
They come and go In alternation with the weeds, the field, The wood.
” “What kind of years?” “Why, latter years— Different from early years.
” “I see them, too.
You didn’t count them?” “No, the further off So ran together that I didn’t try to.
It can scarce be that they would be in number We’d care to know, for we are not young now.
And bang goes something else away off there.
It sounds as if it were the men went down, And every crash meant one less to return To lighted city streets we, too, have known, But now are giving up for country darkness.
” “Come from that window where you see too much for me, And take a livelier view of things from here.
They’re going.
Watch this husky swarming up Over the wheel into the sky-high seat, Lighting his pipe now, squinting down his nose At the flame burning downward as he sucks it.
” “See how it makes his nose-side bright, a proof How dark it’s getting.
Can you tell what time It is by that? Or by the moon? The new moon! What shoulder did I see her over? Neither.
A wire she is of silver, as new as we To everything.
Her light won’t last us long.
It’s something, though, to know we’re going to have her Night after night and stronger every night To see us through our first two weeks.
But, Joe, The stove! Before they go! Knock on the window; Ask them to help you get it on its feet.
We stand here dreaming.
Hurry! Call them back!” “They’re not gone yet.
” “We’ve got to have the stove, Whatever else we want for.
And a light.
Have we a piece of candle if the lamp And oil are buried out of reach?” Again The house was full of tramping, and the dark, Door-filling men burst in and seized the stove.
A cannon-mouth-like hole was in the wall, To which they set it true by eye; and then Came up the jointed stovepipe in their hands, So much too light and airy for their strength It almost seemed to come ballooning up, Slipping from clumsy clutches toward the ceiling.
“A fit!” said one, and banged a stovepipe shoulder.
“It’s good luck when you move in to begin With good luck with your stovepipe.
Never mind, It’s not so bad in the country, settled down, When people ’re getting on in life, You’ll like it.
” Joe said: “You big boys ought to find a farm, And make good farmers, and leave other fellows The city work to do.
There’s not enough For everybody as it is in there.
” “God!” one said wildly, and, when no one spoke: “Say that to Jimmy here.
He needs a farm.
” But Jimmy only made his jaw recede Fool-like, and rolled his eyes as if to say He saw himself a farmer.
Then there was a French boy Who said with seriousness that made them laugh, “Ma friend, you ain’t know what it is you’re ask.
” He doffed his cap and held it with both hands Across his chest to make as ’twere a bow: “We’re giving you our chances on de farm.
” And then they all turned to with deafening boots And put each other bodily out of the house.
“Goodby to them! We puzzle them.
They think— I don’t know what they think we see in what They leave us to: that pasture slope that seems The back some farm presents us; and your woods To northward from your window at the sink, Waiting to steal a step on us whenever We drop our eyes or turn to other things, As in the game ‘Ten-step’ the children play.
” “Good boys they seemed, and let them love the city.
All they could say was ‘God!’ when you proposed Their coming out and making useful farmers.
” “Did they make something lonesome go through you? It would take more than them to sicken you— Us of our bargain.
But they left us so As to our fate, like fools past reasoning with.
They almost shook me.
” “It’s all so much What we have always wanted, I confess It’s seeming bad for a moment makes it seem Even worse still, and so on down, down, down.
It’s nothing; it’s their leaving us at dusk.
I never bore it well when people went.
The first night after guests have gone, the house Seems haunted or exposed.
I always take A personal interest in the locking up At bedtime; but the strangeness soon wears off.
” He fetched a dingy lantern from behind A door.
“There’s that we didn’t lose! And these!”— Some matches he unpocketed.
“For food— The meals we’ve had no one can take from us.
I wish that everything on earth were just As certain as the meals we’ve had.
I wish The meals we haven’t had were, anyway.
What have you you know where to lay your hands on?” “The bread we bought in passing at the store.
There’s butter somewhere, too.
” “Let’s rend the bread.
I’ll light the fire for company for you; You’ll not have any other company Till Ed begins to get out on a Sunday To look us over and give us his idea Of what wants pruning, shingling, breaking up.
He’ll know what he would do if he were we, And all at once.
He’ll plan for us and plan To help us, but he’ll take it out in planning.
Well, you can set the table with the loaf.
Let’s see you find your loaf.
I’ll light the fire.
I like chairs occupying other chairs Not offering a lady—” “There again, Joe! You’re tired.
” “I’m drunk-nonsensical tired out; Don’t mind a word I say.
It’s a day’s work To empty one house of all household goods And fill another with ’em fifteen miles away, Although you do no more than dump them down.
” “Dumped down in paradise we are and happy.
” “It’s all so much what I have always wanted, I can’t believe it’s what you wanted, too.
” “Shouldn’t you like to know?” “I’d like to know If it is what you wanted, then how much You wanted it for me.
” “A troubled conscience! You don’t want me to tell if I don’t know.
” “I don’t want to find out what can’t be known.
But who first said the word to come?” “My dear, It’s who first thought the thought.
You’re searching, Joe, For things that don’t exist; I mean beginnings.
Ends and beginnings—there are no such things.
There are only middles.
” “What is this?” “This life? Our sitting here by lantern-light together Amid the wreckage of a former home? You won’t deny the lantern isn’t new.
The stove is not, and you are not to me, Nor I to you.
” “Perhaps you never were?” “It would take me forever to recite All that’s not new in where we find ourselves.
New is a word for fools in towns who think Style upon style in dress and thought at last Must get somewhere.
I’ve heard you say as much.
No, this is no beginning.
” “Then an end?” “End is a gloomy word.
” “Is it too late To drag you out for just a good-night call On the old peach trees on the knoll to grope By starlight in the grass for a last peach The neighbors may not have taken as their right When the house wasn’t lived in? I’ve been looking: I doubt if they have left us many grapes.
Before we set ourselves to right the house, The first thing in the morning, out we go To go the round of apple, cherry, peach, Pine, alder, pasture, mowing, well, and brook.
All of a farm it is.
” “I know this much: I’m going to put you in your bed, if first I have to make you build it.
Come, the light.
” When there was no more lantern in the kitchen, The fire got out through crannies in the stove And danced in yellow wrigglers on the ceiling, As much at home as if they’d always danced there.
Written by Philip Larkin | Create an image from this poem

I Remember I Remember

 Coming up England by a different line
For once, early in the cold new year,
We stopped, and, watching men with number plates
Sprint down the platform to familiar gates,
'Why, Coventry!' I exclaimed.
'I was born here.
' I leant far out, and squinnied for a sign That this was still the town that had been 'mine' So long, but found I wasn't even clear Which side was which.
From where those cycle-crates Were standing, had we annually departed For all those family hols? .
.
.
A whistle went: Things moved.
I sat back, staring at my boots.
'Was that,' my friend smiled, 'where you "have your roots"?' No, only where my childhood was unspent, I wanted to retort, just where I started: By now I've got the whole place clearly charted.
Our garden, first: where I did not invent Blinding theologies of flowers and fruits, And wasn't spoken to by an old hat.
And here we have that splendid family I never ran to when I got depressed, The boys all biceps and the girls all chest, Their comic Ford, their farm where I could be 'Really myself'.
I'll show you, come to that, The bracken where I never trembling sat, Determined to go through with it; where she Lay back, and 'all became a burning mist'.
And, in those offices, my doggerel Was not set up in blunt ten-point, nor read By a distinguished cousin of the mayor, Who didn't call and tell my father There Before us, had we the gift to see ahead - 'You look as though you wished the place in Hell,' My friend said, 'judging from your face.
' 'Oh well, I suppose it's not the place's fault,' I said.
'Nothing, like something, happens anywhere.
'
Written by Robert Frost | Create an image from this poem

A Girls Garden

 A NEIGHBOR of mine in the village
 Likes to tell how one spring
When she was a girl on the farm, she did
 A childlike thing.
One day she asked her father To give her a garden plot To plant and tend and reap herself, And he said, "Why not?" In casting about for a corner He thought of an idle bit Of walled-off ground where a shop had stood, And he said, "Just it.
" And he said, "That ought to make you An ideal one-girl farm, And give you a chance to put some strength On your slim-jim arm.
" It was not enough of a garden, Her father said, to plough; So she had to work it all by hand, But she don't mind now.
She wheeled the dung in the wheelbarrow Along a stretch of road; But she always ran away and left Her not-nice load.
And hid from anyone passing.
And then she begged the seed.
She says she thinks she planted one Of all things but weed.
A hill each of potatoes, Radishes, lettuce, peas, Tomatoes, beets, beans, pumpkins, corn, And even fruit trees And yes, she has long mistrusted That a cider apple tree In bearing there to-day is hers, Or at least may be.
Her crop was a miscellany When all was said and done, A little bit of everything, A great deal of none.
Now when she sees in the village How village things go, Just when it seems to come in right, She says, "I know! It's as when I was a farmer--" Oh, never by way of advice! And she never sins by telling the tale To the same person twice.
Written by Robert Frost | Create an image from this poem

The Star-Splitter

 `You know Orion always comes up sideways.
Throwing a leg up over our fence of mountains, And rising on his hands, he looks in on me Busy outdoors by lantern-light with something I should have done by daylight, and indeed, After the ground is frozen, I should have done Before it froze, and a gust flings a handful Of waste leaves at my smoky lantern chimney To make fun of my way of doing things, Or else fun of Orion's having caught me.
Has a man, I should like to ask, no rights These forces are obliged to pay respect to?' So Brad McLaughlin mingled reckless talk Of heavenly stars with hugger-mugger farming, Till having failed at hugger-mugger farming He burned his house down for the fire insurance And spent the proceeds on a telescope To satisfy a lifelong curiosity About our place among the infinities.
`What do you want with one of those blame things?' I asked him well beforehand.
`Don't you get one!' `Don't call it blamed; there isn't anything More blameless in the sense of being less A weapon in our human fight,' he said.
`I'll have one if I sell my farm to buy it.
' There where he moved the rocks to plow the ground And plowed between the rocks he couldn't move, Few farms changed hands; so rather than spend years Trying to sell his farm and then not selling, He burned his house down for the fire insurance And bought the telescope with what it came to.
He had been heard to say by several: `The best thing that we're put here for's to see; The strongest thing that's given us to see with's A telescope.
Someone in every town Seems to me owes it to the town to keep one.
In Littleton it might as well be me.
' After such loose talk it was no surprise When he did what he did and burned his house down.
Mean laughter went about the town that day To let him know we weren't the least imposed on, And he could wait---we'd see to him tomorrow.
But the first thing next morning we reflected If one by one we counted people out For the least sin, it wouldn't take us long To get so we had no one left to live with.
For to be social is to be forgiving.
Our thief, the one who does our stealing from us, We don't cut off from coming to church suppers, But what we miss we go to him and ask for.
He promptly gives it back, that is if still Uneaten, unworn out, or undisposed of.
It wouldn't do to be too hard on Brad About his telescope.
Beyond the age Of being given one for Christmas gift, He had to take the best way he knew how To find himself in one.
Well, all we said was He took a strange thing to be roguish over.
Some sympathy was wasted on the house, A good old-timer dating back along; But a house isn't sentient; the house Didn't feel anything.
And if it did, Why not regard it as a sacrifice, And an old-fashioned sacrifice by fire, Instead of a new-fashioned one at auction? Out of a house and so out of a farm At one stroke (of a match), Brad had to turn To earn a living on the Concord railroad, As under-ticket-agent at a station Where his job, when he wasn't selling tickets, Was setting out, up track and down, not plants As on a farm, but planets, evening stars That varied in their hue from red to green.
He got a good glass for six hundred dollars.
His new job gave him leisure for stargazing.
Often he bid me come and have a look Up the brass barrel, velvet black inside, At a star quaking in the other end.
I recollect a night of broken clouds And underfoot snow melted down to ice, And melting further in the wind to mud.
Bradford and I had out the telescope.
We spread our two legs as we spread its three, Pointed our thoughts the way we pointed it, And standing at our leisure till the day broke, Said some of the best things we ever said.
That telescope was christened the Star-Splitter, Because it didn't do a thing but split A star in two or three, the way you split A globule of quicksilver in your hand With one stroke of your finger in the middle.
It's a star-splitter if there ever was one, And ought to do some good if splitting stars 'Sa thing to be compared with splitting wood.
We've looked and looked, but after all where are we? Do we know any better where we are, And how it stands between the night tonight And a man with a smoky lantern chimney? How different from the way it ever stood?
Written by Charlotte Bronte | Create an image from this poem

The Wood

 But two miles more, and then we rest ! 
Well, there is still an hour of day, 
And long the brightness of the West 
Will light us on our devious way; 
Sit then, awhile, here in this wood­ 
So total is the solitude, 
We safely may delay.
These massive roots afford a seat, Which seems for weary travellers made.
There rest.
The air is soft and sweet In this sequestered forest glade, And there are scents of flowers around, The evening dew draws from the ground; How soothingly they spread ! Yes; I was tired, but not at heart; No­that beats full of sweet content, For now I have my natural part Of action with adventure blent; Cast forth on the wide vorld with thee, And all my once waste energy To weighty purpose bent.
Yet­say'st thou, spies around us roam, Our aims are termed conspiracy ? Haply, no more our English home An anchorage for us may be ? That there is risk our mutual blood May redden in some lonely wood The knife of treachery ? Say'st thou­that where we lodge each night, In each lone farm, or lonelier hall Of Norman Peer­ere morning light Suspicion must as duly fall, As day returns­such vigilance Presides and watches over France, Such rigour governs all ? I fear not, William; dost thou fear ? So that the knife does not divide, It may be ever hovering near: I could not tremble at thy side, And strenuous love­like mine for thee­ Is buckler strong, 'gainst treachery, And turns its stab aside.
I am resolved that thou shalt learn To trust my strength as I trust thine; I am resolved our souls shall burn, With equal, steady, mingling shine; Part of the field is conquered now, Our lives in the same channel flow, Along the self-same line; And while no groaning storm is heard, Thou seem'st content it should be so, But soon as comes a warning word Of danger­straight thine anxious brow Bends over me a mournful shade, As doubting if my powers are made To ford the floods of woe.
Know, then it is my spirit swells, And drinks, with eager joy, the air Of freedom­where at last it dwells, Chartered, a common task to share With thee, and then it stirs alert, And pants to learn what menaced hurt Demands for thee its care.
Remember, I have crossed the deep, And stood with thee on deck, to gaze On waves that rose in threatening heap, While stagnant lay a heavy haze, Dimly confusing sea with sky, And baffling, even, the pilot's eye, Intent to thread the maze­ Of rocks, on Bretagne's dangerous coast, And find a way to steer our band To the one point obscure, which lost, Flung us, as victims, on the strand;­ All, elsewhere, gleamed the Gallic sword, And not a wherry could be moored Along the guarded land.
I feared not then­I fear not now; The interest of each stirring scene Wakes a new sense, a welcome glow, In every nerve and bounding vein; Alike on turbid Channel sea, Or in still wood of Normandy, I feel as born again.
The rain descended that wild morn When, anchoring in the cove at last, Our band, all weary and forlorn, Ashore, like wave-worn sailors, cast­ Sought for a sheltering roof in vain, And scarce could scanty food obtain To break their morning fast.
Thou didst thy crust with me divide, Thou didst thy cloak around me fold; And, sitting silent by thy side, I ate the bread in peace untold: Given kindly from thy hand, 'twas sweet As costly fare or princely treat On royal plate of gold.
Sharp blew the sleet upon my face, And, rising wild, the gusty wind Drove on those thundering waves apace, Our crew so late had left behind; But, spite of frozen shower and storm, So close to thee, my heart beat warm, And tranquil slept my mind.
So now­nor foot-sore nor opprest With walking all this August day, I taste a heaven in this brief rest, This gipsy-halt beside the way.
England's wild flowers are fair to view, Like balm is England's summer dew, Like gold her sunset ray.
But the white violets, growing here, Are sweeter than I yet have seen, And ne'er did dew so pure and clear Distil on forest mosses green, As now, called forth by summer heat, Perfumes our cool and fresh retreat­ These fragrant limes between.
That sunset ! Look beneath the boughs, Over the copse­beyond the hills; How soft, yet deep and warm it glows, And heaven with rich suffusion fills; With hues where still the opal's tint, Its gleam of poisoned fire is blent, Where flame through azure thrills ! Depart we now­for fast will fade That solemn splendour of decline, And deep must be the after-shade As stars alone to-night will shine; No moon is destined­pale­to gaze On such a day's vast Phoenix blaze, A day in fires decayed ! There­hand-in-hand we tread again The mazes of this varying wood, And soon, amid a cultured plain, Girt in with fertile solitude, We shall our resting-place descry, Marked by one roof-tree, towering high Above a farm-stead rude.
Refreshed, erelong, with rustic fare, We'll seek a couch of dreamless ease; Courage will guard thy heart from fear, And Love give mine divinest peace: To-morrow brings more dangerous toil, And through its conflict and turmoil We'll pass, as God shall please.
[The preceding composition refers, doubtless, to the scenes acted in France during the last year of the Consulate.
]
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