Spike Milligan |
Born screaming small into this world-
Living I am.
Occupational therapy twixt birth and death-
What was I before?
What will I be next?
What am I now?
Cruel answer carried in the jesting mind
of a careless God
I will not bend and grovel
When I die.
If He says my sins are myriad
I will ask why He made me so imperfect
And he will say 'My chisels were blunt'
I will say 'Then why did you make so
many of me'.
Christina Rossetti |
There's blood between us, love, my love,
There's father's blood, there's brother's blood,
And blood's a bar I cannot pass.
I choose the stairs that mount above,
Stair after golden sky-ward stair,
To city and to sea of glass.
My lily feet are soiled with mud,
With scarlet mud which tells a tale
Of hope that was, of guilt that was,
Of love that shall not yet avail;
Alas, my heart, if I could bare
My heart, this selfsame stain is there:
I seek the sea of glass and fire
To wash the spot, to burn the snare;
Lo, stairs are meant to lift us higher--
Mount with me, mount the kindled stair.
Your eyes look earthward, mine look up.
I see the far-off city grand,
Beyond the hills a watered land,
Beyond the gulf a gleaming strand
Of mansions where the righteous sup;
Who sleep at ease among their trees,
Or wake to sing a cadenced hymn
With Cherubim and Seraphim;
They bore the Cross, they drained the cup,
Racked, roasted, crushed, wrenched limb from limb,
They the offscouring of the world.
The heaven of starry heavens unfurled,
The sun before their face is dim.
You looking earthward, what see you?
Milk-white, wine-flushed among the vines,
Up and down leaping, to and fro,
Most glad, most full, made strong with wines,
Blooming as peaches pearled with dew,
Their golden windy hair afloat,
Love-music warbling in their throat,
Young men and women come and go.
You linger, yet the time is short:
Flee for your life, gird up your strength
To flee; the shadows stretched at length
Show that day wanes, that night draws nigh;
Flee to the mountain, tarry not.
Is this a time for smile and sigh,
For songs among the secret trees
Where sudden blue birds nest and sport?
The time is short and yet you stay:
To-day, while it is called to-day,
Kneel, wrestle, knock, do violence, pray;
To-day is short, to-morrow nigh:
Why will you die? why will you die?
You sinned with me a pleasant sin:
Repent with me, for I repent.
Woe's me the lore I must unlearn!
Woe's me that easy way we went,
So rugged when I would return!
How long until my sleep begin
How long shall stretch these nights and days?
Surely, clean Angels cry, she prays;
She laves her soul with tedious tears:
How long must stretch these years and years?
I turn from you my cheeks and eyes,
My hair which you shall see no more--
Alas for joy that went before,
For joy that dies, for love that dies.
Only my lips still turn to you,
My livid lips that cry, Repent.
O weary life, O weary Lent,
O weary time whose stars are few.
How shall I rest in Paradise,
Or sit on steps of heaven alone
If Saints and Angels spoke of love
Should I not answer from my throne:
Have pity upon me, ye my friends,
For I have heard the sound thereof:
Should I not turn with yearning eyes,
Turn earthwards with a pitiful pang?
Oh save me from a pang in heaven.
By all the gifts we took and gave,
Repent, repent, and be forgiven:
This life is long, but yet it ends;
Repent and purge your soul and save:
No gladder song the morning stars
Upon their birthday morning sang
Than Angels sing when one repents.
I tell you what I dreamed last night:
A spirit with transfigured face
Fire-footed clomb an infinite space.
I heard his hundred pinions clang,
Heaven-bells rejoicing rang and rang,
Heaven-air was thrilled with subtle scents,
Worlds spun upon their rushing cars.
He mounted, shrieking, "Give me light!"
Still light was poured on him, more light;
Angels, Archangels he outstripped,
Exulting in exceeding might,
And trod the skirts of Cherubim.
Still "Give me light," he shrieked; and dipped
His thirsty face, and drank a sea,
Athirst with thirst it could not slake.
I saw him, drunk with knowledge, take
From aching brows the aureole crown--
His locks writhe like a cloven snake--
He left his throne to grovel down
And lick the dust of Seraphs' feet;
For what is knowledge duly weighed?
Knowledge is strong, but love is sweet;
Yea, all the progress he had made
Was but to learn that all is small
Save love, for love is all in all.
I tell you what I dreamed last night:
It was not dark, it was not light,
Cold dews had drenched my plenteous hair
Through clay; you came to seek me there.
And "Do you dream of me?" you said.
My heart was dust that used to leap
To you; I answered half asleep:
"My pillow is damp, my sheets are red,
There's a leaden tester to my bed;
Find you a warmer playfellow,
A warmer pillow for your head,
A kinder love to love than mine.
You wrung your hands, while I, like lead,
Crushed downwards through the sodden earth;
You smote your hands but not in mirth,
And reeled but were not drunk with wine.
For all night long I dreamed of you;
I woke and prayed against my will,
Then slept to dream of you again.
At length I rose and knelt and prayed.
I cannot write the words I said,
My words were slow, my tears were few;
But through the dark my silence spoke
When this morning broke,
My face was pinched, my hair was grey,
And frozen blood was on the sill
Where stifling in my struggle I lay.
If now you saw me you would say:
Where is the face I used to love?
And I would answer: Gone before;
It tarries veiled in paradise.
When once the morning star shall rise,
When earth with shadow flees away
And we stand safe within the door,
Then you shall lift the veil thereof.
Look up, rise up: for far above
Our palms are grown, our place is set;
There we shall meet as once we met,
And love with old familiar love.
Rudyard Kipling |
I go to concert, party, ball --
What profit is in these?
I sit alone against the wall
And strive to look at ease.
The incense that is mine by right
They burn before her shrine;
And that's because I'm seventeen
And She is forty-nine.
I cannot check my girlish blush,
My color comes and goes;
I redden to my finger-tips,
And sometimes to my nose.
But She is white where white should be,
And red where red should shine.
The blush that flies at seventeen
Is fixed at forty-nine.
I wish I had Her constant cheek;
I wish that I could sing
All sorts of funny little songs,
Not quite the proper thing.
I'm very gauche and very shy,
Her jokes aren't in my line;
And, worst of all, I'm seventeen
While She is forty-nine.
The young men come, the young men go
Each pink and white and neat,
She's older than their mothers, but
They grovel at Her feet.
They walk beside Her 'rickshaw wheels --
None ever walk by mine;
And that's because I'm seventeen
And She is foty-nine.
She rides with half a dozen men,
(She calls them "boys" and "mashers")
I trot along the Mall alone;
My prettiest frocks and sashes
Don't help to fill my programme-card,
And vainly I repine
From ten to two A.
Would I were forty-nine!
She calls me "darling," "pet," and "dear,"
And "sweet retiring maid.
I'm always at the back, I know,
She puts me in the shade.
She introduces me to men,
"Cast" lovers, I opine,
For sixty takes to seventeen,
Nineteen to foty-nine.
But even She must older grow
And end Her dancing days,
She can't go on forever so
At concerts, balls and plays.
One ray of priceless hope I see
Before my footsteps shine;
Just think, that She'll be eighty-one
When I am forty-nine.
Stephen Crane |
A man went before a strange God --
The God of many men, sadly wise.
And the deity thundered loudly,
Fat with rage, and puffing.
"Kneel, mortal, and cringe
And grovel and do homage
To My Particularly Sublime Majesty.
The man fled.
Then the man went to another God --
The God of his inner thoughts.
And this one looked at him
With soft eyes
Lit with infinite comprehension,
And said, "My poor child!"
Robert Browning |
Gr-r-r---there go, my heart's abhorrence!
Water your damned flower-pots, do!
If hate killed men, Brother Lawrence,
God's blood, would not mine kill you!
What? your myrtle-bush wants trimming?
Oh, that rose has prior claims---
Needs its leaden vase filled brimming?
Hell dry you up with its flames!
At the meal we sit together:
_Salve tibi!_ I must hear
Wise talk of the kind of weather,
Sort of season, time of year:
_Not a plenteous cork-crop: scarcely
Dare we hope oak-galls, I doubt:
What's the Latin name for ``parsley''?_
What's the Greek name for Swine's Snout?
Whew! We'll have our platter burnished,
Laid with care on our own shelf!
With a fire-new spoon we're furnished,
And a goblet for ourself,
Rinsed like something sacrificial
Ere 'tis fit to touch our chaps---
Marked with L.
for our initial!
(He-he! There his lily snaps!)
_Saint_, forsooth! While brown Dolores
Squats outside the Convent bank
With Sanchicha, telling stories,
Steeping tresses in the tank,
Blue-black, lustrous, thick like horsehairs,
---Can't I see his dead eye glow,
Bright as 'twere a Barbary corsair's?
(That is, if he'd let it show!)
When he finishes refection,
Knife and fork he never lays
Cross-wise, to my recollection,
As do I, in Jesu's praise.
I the Trinity illustrate,
Drinking watered orange-pulp---
In three sips the Arian frustrate;
While he drains his at one gulp.
Oh, those melons? If he's able
We're to have a feast! so nice!
One goes to the Abbot's table,
All of us get each a slice.
How go on your flowers? None double
Not one fruit-sort can you spy?
Strange!---And I, too, at such trouble,
Keep them close-nipped on the sly!
There's a great text in Galatians,
Once you trip on it, entails
Twenty-nine distinct damnations,
One sure, if another fails:
If I trip him just a-dying,
Sure of heaven as sure can be,
Spin him round and send him flying
Off to hell, a Manichee?
Or, my scrofulous French novel
On grey paper with blunt type!
Simply glance at it, you grovel
Hand and foot in Belial's gripe:
If I double down its pages
At the woeful sixteenth print,
When he gathers his greengages,
Ope a sieve and slip it in't?
Or, there's Satan!---one might venture
Pledge one's soul to him, yet leave
Such a flaw in the indenture
As he'd miss till, past retrieve,
Blasted lay that rose-acacia
We're so proud of! _Hy, Zy, Hine .
'St, there's Vespers! _Plena grati
Ave, Virgo!_ Gr-r-r---you swine!
William Ernest Henley |
The big teetotum twirls,
And epochs wax and wane
As chance subsides or swirls;
But of the loss and gain
The sum is always plain.
Read on the mighty pall,
The weed of funeral
That covers praise and blame,
The -isms and the -anities,
Magnificence and shame:--
"O Vanity of Vanities!"
The Fates are subtle girls!
They give us chaff for grain.
And Time, the Thunderer, hurls,
Like bolted death, disdain
At all that heart and brain
Conceive, or great or small,
Upon this earthly ball.
Would you be knight and dame?
Or woo the sweet humanities?
Or illustrate a name?
O Vanity of Vanities!
We sound the sea for pearls,
Or drown them in a drain;
We flute it with the merles,
Or tug and sweat and strain;
We grovel, or we reign;
We saunter, or we brawl;
We search the stars for Fame,
Or sink her subterranities;
The legend's still the same:--
"O Vanity of Vanities!"
Here at the wine one birls,
There some one clanks a chain.
The flag that this man furls
That man to float is fain.
Pleasure gives place to pain:
These in the kennel crawl,
While others take the wall.
She has a glorious aim,
He lives for the inanities.
What come of every claim?
O Vanity of Vanities!
Alike are clods and earls.
For sot, and seer, and swain,
For emperors and for churls,
For antidote and bane,
There is but one refrain:
But one for king and thrall,
For David and for Saul,
For fleet of foot and lame,
For pieties and profanities,
The picture and the frame:--
"O Vanity of Vanities!"
Life is a smoke that curls--
Curls in a flickering skein,
That winds and whisks and whirls,
A figment thin and vain,
Into the vast Inane.
One end for hut and hall!
One end for cell and stall!
Burned in one common flame
Are wisdoms and insanities.
For this alone we came:--
"O Vanity of Vanities!"
Prince, pride must have a fall.
What is the worth of all
Your state's supreme urbanities?
Bad at the best's the game.
Well might the Sage exclaim:--
"O Vanity of Vanities!"
Robert William Service |
He's the man from Eldorado, and he's just arrived in town,
In moccasins and oily buckskin shirt.
He's gaunt as any Indian, and pretty nigh as brown;
He's greasy, and he smells of sweat and dirt.
He sports a crop of whiskers that would shame a healthy hog;
Hard work has racked his joints and stooped his back;
He slops along the sidewalk followed by his yellow dog,
But he's got a bunch of gold-dust in his sack.
He seems a little wistful as he blinks at all the lights,
And maybe he is thinking of his claim
And the dark and dwarfish cabin where he lay and dreamed at nights,
(Thank God, he'll never see the place again!)
Where he lived on tinned tomatoes, beef embalmed and sourdough bread,
On rusty beans and bacon furred with mould;
His stomach's out of kilter and his system full of lead,
But it's over, and his poke is full of gold.
He has panted at the windlass, he has loaded in the drift,
He has pounded at the face of oozy clay;
He has taxed himself to sickness, dark and damp and double shift,
He has labored like a demon night and day.
And now, praise God, it's over, and he seems to breathe again
Of new-mown hay, the warm, wet, friendly loam;
He sees a snowy orchard in a green and dimpling plain,
And a little vine-clad cottage, and it's--Home.
He's the man from Eldorado, and he's had a bite and sup,
And he's met in with a drouthy friend or two;
He's cached away his gold-dust, but he's sort of bucking up,
So he's kept enough to-night to see him through.
His eye is bright and genial, his tongue no longer lags;
`His heart is brimming o'er with joy and mirth;
He may be far from savory, he may be clad in rags,
`But to-night he feels as if he owns the earth.
Says he: "Boys, here is where the shaggy North and I will shake;
I thought I'd never manage to get free.
I kept on making misses; but at last I've got my stake;
There's no more thawing frozen muck for me.
I am going to God's Country, where I'll live the simple life;
I'll buy a bit of land and make a start;
I'll carve a little homestead, and I'll win a little wife,
And raise ten little kids to cheer my heart.
They signified their sympathy by crowding to the bar;
They bellied up three deep and drank his health.
He shed a radiant smile around and smoked a rank cigar;
They wished him honor, happiness and wealth.
They drank unto his wife to be--that unsuspecting maid;
They drank unto his children half a score;
And when they got through drinking very tenderly they laid
The man from Eldorado on the floor.
He's the man from Eldorado, and he's only starting in
To cultivate a thousand-dollar jag.
His poke is full of gold-dust and his heart is full of sin,
And he's dancing with a girl called Muckluck Mag.
She's as light as any fairy; she's as pretty as a peach;
She's mistress of the witchcraft to beguile;
There's sunshine in her manner, there is music in her speech,
And there's concentrated honey in her smile.
Oh, the fever of the dance-hall and the glitter and the shine,
The beauty, and the jewels, and the whirl,
The madness of the music, the rapture of the wine,
The languorous allurement of a girl!
She is like a lost madonna; he is gaunt, unkempt and grim;
But she fondles him and gazes in his eyes;
Her kisses seek his heavy lips, and soon it seems to him
He has staked a little claim in Paradise.
"Who's for a juicy two-step?" cries the master of the floor;
The music throbs with soft, seductive beat.
There's glitter, gilt and gladness; there are pretty girls galore;
There's a woolly man with moccasins on feet.
They know they've got him going; he is buying wine for all;
They crowd around as buzzards at a feast,
Then when his poke is empty they boost him from the hall,
And spurn him in the gutter like a beast.
He's the man from Eldorado, and he's painting red the town;
Behind he leaves a trail of yellow dust;
In a whirl of senseless riot he is ramping up and down;
There's nothing checks his madness and his lust.
And soon the word is passed around--it travels like a flame;
They fight to clutch his hand and call him friend,
The chevaliers of lost repute, the dames of sorry fame;
Then comes the grim awakening--the end.
He's the man from Eldorado, and he gives a grand affair;
There's feasting, dancing, wine without restraint.
The smooth Beau Brummels of the bar, the faro men, are there;
The tinhorns and purveyors of red paint;
The sleek and painted women, their predacious eyes aglow--
Sure Klondike City never saw the like;
Then Muckluck Mag proposed the toast, "The giver of the show,
The livest sport that ever hit the pike.
The "live one" rises to his feet; he stammers to reply--
And then there comes before his muddled brain
A vision of green vastitudes beneath an April sky,
And clover pastures drenched with silver rain.
He knows that it can never be, that he is down and out;
Life leers at him with foul and fetid breath;
And then amid the revelry, the song and cheer and shout,
He suddenly grows grim and cold as death.
He grips the table tensely, and he says: "Dear friends of mine,
I've let you dip your fingers in my purse;
I've crammed you at my table, and I've drowned you in my wine,
And I've little left to give you but--my curse.
I've failed supremely in my plans; it's rather late to whine;
My poke is mighty weasened up and small.
I thank you each for coming here; the happiness is mine--
And now, you thieves and harlots, take it all.
He twists the thong from off his poke; he swings it o'er his head;
The nuggets fall around their feet like grain.
They rattle over roof and wall; they scatter, roll and spread;
The dust is like a shower of golden rain.
The guests a moment stand aghast, then grovel on the floor;
They fight, and snarl, and claw, like beasts of prey;
And then, as everybody grabbed and everybody swore,
The man from Eldorado slipped away.
He's the man from Eldorado, and they found him stiff and dead,
Half covered by the freezing ooze and dirt.
A clotted Colt was in his hand, a hole was in his head,
And he wore an old and oily buckskin shirt.
His eyes were fixed and horrible, as one who hails the end;
The frost had set him rigid as a log;
And there, half lying on his breast, his last and only friend,
There crouched and whined a mangy yellow dog.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe |
"Incense is hut a tribute for the gods,--
To mortals 'tis but poison.
THE smoke that from thine altar blows,
Can it the gods offend?
For I observe thou hold'st thy nose--
Pray what does this portend?
Mankind deem incense to excel
Each other earthly thing,
So he that cannot bear its smell,
No incense e'er should bring.
With unmoved face by thee at least
To dolls is homage given;
If not obstructed by the priest,
The scent mounts up to heaven.
CONFLICT OF WIT AND BEAUTY.
SIR Wit, who is so much esteem'd,
And who is worthy of all honour,
Saw Beauty his superior deem'd
By folks who loved to gaze upon her;
At this he was most sorely vex'd.
Then came Sir Breath (long known as fit
To represent the cause of wit),
Beginning, rudely, I admit,
To treat the lady with a text.
To this she hearken'd not at all,
But hasten'd to his principal:
"None are so wise, they say, as you,--
Is not the world enough for two?
If you are obstinate, good-bye!
If wise, to love me you will try,
For be assured the world can ne'er
Give birth to a more handsome pair.
FAIR daughters were by Beauty rear'd,
Wit had but dull sons for his lot;
So for a season it appear'd
Beauty was constant, Wit was not.
But Wit's a native of the soil,
So he return'd, work'd, strove amain,
And found--sweet guerdon for his toil!--
Beauty to quicken him again.
RAIN AND RAINBOW.
DURING a heavy storm it chanced
That from his room a cockney glanced
At the fierce tempest as it broke,
While to his neighbour thus he spoke:
"The thunder has our awe inspired,
Our barns by lightning have been fired,--
Our sins to punish, I suppose;
But in return, to soothe our woes,
See how the rain in torrents fell,
Making the harvest promise well!
But is't a rainbow that I spy
Extending o'er the dark-grey sky?
With it I'm sure we may dispense,
The colour'd cheat! The vain pretence!"
Dame Iris straightway thus replied:
"Dost dare my beauty to deride?
In realms of space God station'd me
A type of better worlds to be
To eyes that from life's sorrows rove
In cheerful hope to Heav'n above,
And, through the mists that hover here
God and his precepts blest revere.
Do thou, then, grovel like the swine,
And to the ground thy snout confine,
But suffer the enlighten'd eye
To feast upon my majesty.
Ella Wheeler Wilcox |
My soul is like a poor caged bird to-night,
Beating its wings against the prison bars,
Longing to reach the outer world of light,
And, all untrammelled, soar among the stars.
Wild, mighty thoughts struggle within my soul
Great waves of passion roll
Through all my being.
As the lightnings play
Through thunder clouds, so beams of blinding light
Flash for a moment on my darkened brain -
Quick, sudden, glaring beams, that fade wawy
And leave me in a darker, deeper night.
Oh, poet sould! that struggle all in vain
To live in peace and harmony with earth,
It cannot be! They must endure the pain
Of conscience and unacknoeledged worth,
Moving and dwelling with the common herd,
Whose highest thought has never strayed as far,
Or never strayed beyond the horizon's bar;
Whose narrow hearts and souls are never stirred
With keenest pleasures, or with sharpest pain;
Who rise and eat and sleep, and rise again,
Nor question why or wherefore.
Men whose minds
Are never shaken by wild passion winds;
Women whose broadest, deepeat realm of thought
The bridal veil will cover.
Who see not
God's mighty work lying undone to-day, -
Work that a woman's hands can do as well,
Oh, soul of mine; better to live alway
In this tumultuous inward pain and strife,
Doing the work that in thy reach doth fall,
Weeping because thou canst not do it all;
Oh, better, my soul, in this unrest to dwell,
Than grovel as they grovel on through life.
Isaac Watts |
Characters of the children of God.
From several scriptures.
So new-born babes desire the breast,
To feed, and grow, and thrive;
So saints with joy the gospel taste,
And by the gospel live.
[With inward gust their heart approves
All that the word relates;
They love the men their Father loves,
And hate the works he hates.
[Not all the flatt'ring baits on earth
Can make them slaves to lust;
They can't forget their heav'nly birth,
Nor grovel in the dust.
Not all the chains that tyrants use
Shall bind their souls to vice;
Faith, like a conqueror, can produce
A thousand victories.
[Grace, like an uncorrupting seed,
Abides and reigns within;
Immortal principles forbid
The sons of God to sin.
[Not by the terrors of a slave
Do they perform his will,
But with the noblest powers they have
His sweet commands fulfil.
They find access at every hour
To God within the veil;
Hence they derive a quick'ning power,
And joys that never fail.
O happy souls! O glorious state
Of overflowing grace!
To dwell so near their Father's seat,
And see his lovely face!
Lord, I address thy heav'nly throne;
Call me a child of thine;
Send down the Spirit of thy Son
To form my heart divine.
There shed thy choicest loves abroad,
And make my comforts strong:
Then shall I say, "My Father God!"
With an unwav'ring tongue.