Joyce Kilmer |
(For Eleanor Rogers Cox)
For blows on the fort of evil
That never shows a breach,
For terrible life-long races
To a goal no foot can reach,
For reckless leaps into darkness
With hands outstretched to a star,
There is jubilation in Heaven
Where the great dead poets are.
There is joy over disappointment
And delight in hopes that were vain.
Each poet is glad there was no cure
To stop his lonely pain.
For nothing keeps a poet
In his high singing mood
Like unappeasable hunger
For unattainable food.
So fools are glad of the folly
That made them weep and sing,
And Keats is thankful for Fanny Brawne
And Drummond for his king.
They know that on flinty sorrow
And failure and desire
The steel of their souls was hammered
To bring forth the lyric fire.
Lord Byron and Shelley and Plunkett,
McDonough and Hunt and Pearse
See now why their hatred of tyrants
Was so insistently fierce.
Is Freedom only a Will-o'-the-wisp
To cheat a poet's eye?
Be it phantom or fact, it's a noble cause
In which to sing and to die!
So not for the Rainbow taken
And the magical White Bird snared
The poets sing grateful carols
In the place to which they have fared;
But for their lifetime's passion,
The quest that was fruitless and long,
They chorus their loud thanksgiving
To the thorn-crowned Master of Song.
Lewis Carroll |
All in the golden afternoon
Full leisurely we glide;
For both our oars, with little skill,
By little arms are plied,
While little hands make vain pretense
Our wanderings to guide.
Ah, cruel Three! In such an hour,
Beneath such dreamy weather,
To beg a tale of breath too weak
To stir the tiniest feather!
Yet what can one poor voice avail
Against three tongues together?
Imperious Prima flashes forth
Her edict to "begin it"--
In gentler tones Secunda hopes
"There will be nonsense in it"--
While Tertia interrupts the tale
Not more than once a minute.
Anon, to sudden silence won,
In fancy they pursue
The dream-child moving through a land
Of wonders wild and new,
In friendly chat with bird or beast--
And half believe it true.
And ever, as the story drained
The wells of fancy dry,
And faintly strove that weary one
To put the subject by,
"The rest next time"--"It is next time!"
The happy voices cry.
Thus grew the tale of Wonderland:
Thus slowly, one by one,
Its quaint events were hammered out--
And now the tale is done,
And home we steer, a merry crew,
Beneath the setting sun.
Alice! a childish story take,
And with a gentle hand
Lay it where Childhood's dreams are twined
In Memory's mystic band,
Like pilgrim's withered wreath of flowers
Plucked in a far-off land.
Philip Larkin |
Like the train's beat
Swift language flutters the lips
Of the Polish airgirl in the corner seat,
The swinging and narrowing sun
Lights her eyelashes, shapes
Her sharp vivacity of bone.
Hair, wild and controlled, runs back:
And gestures like these English oaks
Flash past the windows of her foreign talk.
The train runs on through wilderness
Still the hammered miles
Diversify behind her face.
And all humanity of interest
Before her angled beauty falls,
As whorling notes are pressed
In a bird's throat, issuing meaningless
Through written skies; a voice
Watering a stony place.
Adrienne Rich |
the quality of being complete; unbroken condition; entirety
A wild patience has taken me this far
as if I had to bring to shore
a boat with a spasmodic outboard motor
old sweaters, nets, spray-mottled books
tossed in the prow
some kind of sun burning my shoulder-blades.
Splashing the oarlocks.
Your fore-arms can get scalded, licked with pain
in a sun blotted like unspoken anger
behind a casual mist.
The length of daylight
this far north, in this
forty-ninth year of my life
The light is critical: of me, of this
long-dreamed, involuntary landing
on the arm of an inland sea.
The glitter of the shoal
depleting into shadow
I recognize: the stand of pines
violet-black really, green in the old postcard
but really I have nothing but myself
to go by; nothing
stands in the realm of pure necessity
except what my hands can hold.
Nothing but myself?.
After so long, this answer.
As if I had always known
I steer the boat in, simply.
The motor dying on the pebbles
cicadas taking up the hum
dropped in the silence.
Anger and tenderness: my selves.
And now I can believe they breathe in me
as angels, not polarities.
Anger and tenderness: the spider's genius
to spin and weave in the same action
from her own body, anywhere --
even from a broken web.
The cabin in the stand of pines
is still for sale.
I know this.
Know the print
of the last foot, the hand that slammed and locked the door,
then stopped to wreathe the rain-smashed clematis
back on the trellis
for no one's sake except its own.
I know the chart nailed to the wallboards
the icy kettle squatting on the burner.
The hands that hammered in those nails
emptied that kettle one last time
are these two hands
and they have caught the baby leaping
from between trembling legs
and they have worked the vacuum aspirator
and stroked the sweated temples
and steered the boat there through this hot
misblotted sunlight, critical light
the skin these hands will also salve.
Olu Oguibe |
once i wrote with the irreverence of youth
and the fire of a heart burning to ash
i plucked words like faggots from blazing coal
and on the anvil of exile i hammered sorrow into verse
the burden of your suffering tore poetry from my flesh
and on the night of your hanging there was dust in my lines
i aimed for song and there was not an eye without tears
i marked the fourteen stations of the cross
but your death has killed my verse
each day i wake on the hour to mourn
and i feel like a wanderer in a city without lights
passion flees in the fog and words crumble at my touch
and my throat feels like a concrete floor
the power of tears has deserted me
i walk through the streets of this forbidding town
searching for faces i used to know
and your memory is like a faded picture in the pocket
here and there i hear your name like the distant crack of a whip
and there is a dull pain where the scars remain
i recall your stubbornness and the ring of blood on your wrist
and i embrace this cold that severed you from me
once i howled with the rage of a bard
there was epiphany in the pain
and all because i loved you
now i claw the walls for the naked word
my lines are a hollow sepulchre
ready for the final dust
silence claims us at last
Denise Levertov |
My wedding-ring lies in a basket
as if at the bottom of a well.
Nothing will come to fish it back up
and onto my finger again.
among keys to abandoned houses,
nails waiting to be needed and hammered
into some wall,
telephone numbers with no names attached,
It can't be given away
for fear of bringing ill-luck.
It can't be sold
for the marriage was good in its own
time, though that time is gone.
Could some artificer
beat into it bright stones, transform it
into a dazzling circlet no one could take
for solemn betrothal or to make promises
living will not let them keep? Change it
into a simple gift I could give in friendship?
Rudyard Kipling |
The toad beneath the harrow knows
Exactly where eath tooth-point goes.
The butterfly upon the road
Preaches contentment to that toad.
, was a liar, and a fluent liar therewith --
He spoke of the heat of India as the "Asian Solar Myth";
Came on a four months' visit, to "study the East," in November,
And I got him to sign an agreement vowing to stay till September.
March came in with the koil.
Pagett was cool and gay,
Called me a "bloated Brahmin," talked of my "princely pay.
March went out with the roses.
"Where is your heat?" said he.
"Coming," said I to Pagett, "Skittles!" said Pagett, M.
April began with the punkah, coolies, and prickly-heat, --
Pagett was dear to mosquitoes, sandflies found him a treat.
He grew speckled and mumpy-hammered, I grieve to say,
Aryan brothers who fanned him, in an illiberal way.
May set in with a dust-storm, -- Pagett went down with the sun.
All the delights of the season tickled him one by one.
Imprimis -- ten day's "liver" -- due to his drinking beer;
Later, a dose of fever --slight, but he called it severe.
Dysent'ry touched him in June, after the Chota Bursat --
Lowered his portly person -- made him yearn to depart.
He didn't call me a "Brahmin," or "bloated," or "overpaid,"
But seemed to think it a wonder that any one stayed.
July was a trifle unhealthy, -- Pagett was ill with fear.
'Called it the "Cholera Morbus," hinted that life was dear.
He babbled of "Eastern Exile," and mentioned his home with tears;
But I haven't seen my children for close upon seven years.
We reached a hundred and twenty once in the Court at noon,
(I've mentioned Pagett was portly) Pagett, went off in a swoon.
That was an end to the business; Pagett, the perjured, fled
With a practical, working knowledge of "Solar Myths" in his head.
And I laughed as I drove from the station, but the mirth died out on my lips
As I thought of the fools like Pagett who write of their "Eastern trips,"
And the sneers of the traveled idiots who duly misgovern the land,
And I prayed to the Lord to deliver another one into my hand.
Roger McGough |
So you think its Stephen?
Then I'd best make sure
Be on the safe side as it were.
Ah, theres been a mistake.
you see, its black, now Stephens fair .
Whats that? The explosion?
Of course, burnt black.
Silly of me.
I should have known.
Then lets get on.
The face, is that the face mask?
that mask of charred wood
blistered scarred could
that have been a child's face?
The sweater, where intact, looks
in fact all too familiar.
But one must be sure.
Yes thats his.
I recognise the studs he hammered in
not a week ago.
At the age
when boys get clothes-conscious
now you know.
But one must
Remove all trace of doubt.
Pull out every splinter of hope.
Empty the pockets.
Handkerchief? Could be any schoolboy's.
Oh this can't be Stephen.
I dont allow him to smoke you see.
He wouldn't disobey me.
Not his father.
But that's his penknife.
Thats his alright.
And thats his key on the keyring
Gran gave him just the other night.
Then this must be him.
I think I know what happened
about the cigarettes
No doubt he was minding them
for one of the older boys.
Yes thats it.
Thats our Stephen.
Rudyard Kipling |
"A Centurion of the Thirtieth" -- Puck of Pook's Hill
My father's father saw it not,
And I, belike, shall never come
To look on that so-holly spot--
That very Rome--
Crowned by all Time, all Art, all Might,
The equal work of Gods and Man,
City beneath whose oldest height--
The Race began!
Soon to send forth again a brood,
Unshakable, we pray, that clings
To Rome's thrice-hammered hardihood--
In arduous things.
Strong heart with triple armour bound,
Beat strongly, for thy life-blood runs,
Age after Age, the Empire round--
In us thy Sons
Who, distant from the Seven Hills,
Loving and serving much, require
Thee-thee to guard 'gainst home-born ills
The Imperial Fire!
Vladimir Mayakovsky |
like a wolf
my respect's but the slightest.
To the devil himself
I'd chuck without mercy
every red-taped paper.
But this .
Down the long front
of coupés and cabins
File the officials
They gather up passports
and I give in
My own vermilion booklet.
For one kind of passport -
smiling lips part
For others -
an attitude scornful.
with respect, for instance,
From a sleeping-car
The good fellows eyes
almost slip like pips
bowing as low as men can,
as if they were taking a tip,
from an American.
At the Polish,
they dolefully blink and wheeze
police elephantism -
where are they from,
and what are these
And without a turn
of their cabbage heads,
hidden in lower regions,
they take without blinking,
the passports from Swedes
as if their mouths were
those gentlemen almost
Those very official gentlemen
that red-skinned passport
like a bomb
take - like a hedgehog,
like a razor
like a rattlesnake huge and long
with at least
The porter's eyes
give a significant flick
(I'll carry your baggage
The gendarmes enquiringly
look at the tec,
the tec, -
at the gendarmerie.
With what delight
that gendarme caste
would have me
strung-up and whipped raw
because I hold
in my hands
my red Soviet passport.
like a wolf
my respect's but the slightest.
To the devil himself
every red-taped paper,
But this .
I pull out
of my wide trouser-pockets
of a priceless cargo.
I'm a citizen
of the Soviet Socialist Union!
Transcribed: by Liviu Iacob.