Robert Frost |
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
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
“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,
“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.
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
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.
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?”
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.
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.
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
“There’s that we didn’t lose! And these!”—
Some matches he unpocketed.
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.
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!
“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?”
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?”
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.
Wystan Hugh (W H) Auden |
The Ogre does what ogres can,
Deeds quite impossible for Man,
But one prize is beyond his reach,
The Ogre cannot master Speech:
About a subjugated plain,
Among its desperate and slain,
The Ogre stalks with hands on hips,
While drivel gushes from his lips.
Langston Hughes |
Droning a drowsy syncopated tune,
Rocking back and forth to a mellow croon,
I heard a Negro play.
Down on Lenox Avenue the other night
By the pale dull pallor of an old gas light
He did a lazy sway .
He did a lazy sway .
To the tune o' those Weary Blues.
With his ebony hands on each ivory key
He made that poor piano moan with melody.
Swaying to and fro on his rickety stool
He played that sad raggy tune like a musical fool.
Coming from a black man's soul.
In a deep song voice with a melancholy tone
I heard that Negro sing, that old piano moan--
"Ain't got nobody in all this world,
Ain't got nobody but ma self.
I's gwine to quit ma frownin'
And put ma troubles on the shelf.
Thump, thump, thump, went his foot on the floor.
He played a few chords then he sang some more--
"I got the Weary Blues
And I can't be satisfied.
Got the Weary Blues
And can't be satisfied--
I ain't happy no mo'
And I wish that I had died.
And far into the night he crooned that tune.
The stars went out and so did the moon.
The singer stopped playing and went to bed
While the Weary Blues echoed through his head.
He slept like a rock or a man that's dead.
Billy Collins |
Sometimes the notes are ferocious,
skirmishes against the author
raging along the borders of every page
in tiny black script.
If I could just get my hands on you,
Kierkegaard, or Conor Cruise O'Brien,
they seem to say,
I would bolt the door and beat some logic into your head.
Other comments are more offhand, dismissive -
" "Please!" "HA!!" -
that kind of thing.
I remember once looking up from my reading,
my thumb as a bookmark,
trying to imagine what the person must look like
why wrote "Don't be a ninny"
alongside a paragraph in The Life of Emily Dickinson.
Students are more modest
needing to leave only their splayed footprints
along the shore of the page.
One scrawls "Metaphor" next to a stanza of Eliot's.
Another notes the presence of "Irony"
fifty times outside the paragraphs of A Modest Proposal.
Or they are fans who cheer from the empty bleachers,
Hands cupped around their mouths.
"Absolutely," they shout
to Duns Scotus and James Baldwin.
" "My man!"
Check marks, asterisks, and exclamation points
rain down along the sidelines.
And if you have managed to graduate from college
without ever having written "Man vs.
in a margin, perhaps now
is the time to take one step forward.
We have all seized the white perimeter as our own
and reached for a pen if only to show
we did not just laze in an armchair turning pages;
we pressed a thought into the wayside,
planted an impression along the verge.
Even Irish monks in their cold scriptoria
jotted along the borders of the Gospels
brief asides about the pains of copying,
a bird signing near their window,
or the sunlight that illuminated their page-
anonymous men catching a ride into the future
on a vessel more lasting than themselves.
And you have not read Joshua Reynolds,
they say, until you have read him
enwreathed with Blake's furious scribbling.
Yet the one I think of most often,
the one that dangles from me like a locket,
was written in the copy of Catcher in the Rye
I borrowed from the local library
one slow, hot summer.
I was just beginning high school then,
reading books on a davenport in my parents' living room,
and I cannot tell you
how vastly my loneliness was deepened,
how poignant and amplified the world before me seemed,
when I found on one page
A few greasy looking smears
and next to them, written in soft pencil-
by a beautiful girl, I could tell,
whom I would never meet-
"Pardon the egg salad stains, but I'm in love.
Henry Lawson |
Man, is the Sea your master? Sea, and is man your slave? –
This is the song of brave men who never know they are brave:
Ceaselessly watching to save you, stranger from foreign lands,
Soundly asleep in your state room, full sail for the Goodwin Sands!
Life is a dream, they tell us, but life seems very real,
When the lifeboat puts out from Ramsgate, and the buggers put out from Deal!
A gun from the lightship! – a rocket! – a cry of, "Turn out, me lad!"
"Ship on the Sands!" they're shouting, and a rush of the oilskin-clad.
The lifeboat leaping and swooping, in the wake of the fighting tug,
And the luggers afloat in Hell's water – Oh, "tourist", with cushion and rug! –
Think of the freezing fury, without one minute's relief,
When they stood all night in the blackness by the wreck of the Indian Chief!
Lashed to their seats, and crouching, to the spray that froze as it flew,
Twenty-six hours in midwinter! That was the lifeboat's crew.
Twice she was swamped, and she righted, in the rush of the heavy seas,
And her tug was mostly buried; but these were common things, these.
And the luggers go out whenever there's a hope to get them afloat,
And these things they do for nothing, and those fishermen say, "Oh! it's nowt!"
(Enemy, Friend or Stranger! In every sea or land,
And across the lives of most men run stretches of Goodwin Sand;
And across the life of a nation, as across the track of a ship,
Lies the hidden rock, or the iceberg, within the horizon dip.
And wise men know them, and warn us, with lightship, or voice, or pen;
But we strike, and the fool survivors sail on to strike again.
But this is a song of brave men, wherever is aught to save,
Christian or Jew or Wowser – and I knew one who was brave;
British or French or German, Dane or Latin or Dutch:
"Scandies" that ignorant British reckon with "Dagoes and such" –
(Where'er, on a wreck titanic, in a scene of wild despair,
The officers call for assistance, a Swede or a Norse is there.
Tale of a wreck titanic, with the last boat over the side,
And a brave young husband fighting his clinging, hysterical bride;
He strikes her fair on the temple, while the decks are scarce afloat,
And he kisses her once on the forehead, and he drops her into the boat.
So he goes to his death to save her; and she lives to remember and lie –
Or be true to his love and courage.
But that's how brave men die.
(I hate the slander: "Be British" – and I don't believe it, that's flat:
No British sailor and captain would stoop to such cant as that.
What – in the rush of cowards – of the help from before the mast –
Of the two big Swedes and the Norse, who stood by the mate to the last? –
In every mining disaster, in a New-World mining town,
In one of the rescue parties an Olsen or Hans goes down.
Men who fought for their village, away on their country's edge:
The priest with his cross – and a musket, and the blacksmith with his sledge;
The butcher with cleaver and pistols, and the notary with his pike.
And the clerk with what he laid hands on; but all were ready to strike.
And – Tennyson notwithstanding – when the hour of danger was come,
The shopman has struck full often with his "cheating yard-wand" home!
This is a song of brave men, ever, the wide world o'er –
Starved and crippled and murdered by the land they are fighting for.
Left to freeze in the trenches, sent to drown by the Cape,
Throttled by army contractors, and strangled bv old red-tape.
Fighting for "Home" and "Country", or "Glory", or what you choose –
Sacrificed for the Syndicates, and a monarch "in" with the Jews.
Australia! your trial is coming! Down with the party strife:
Send Your cackling, lying women back to the old Home Life.
Brush trom your Parliament benches the legal chaff and dust:
Make Federation perfect, as sooner or later you must.
Scatter your crowded cities, cut up your States – and so
Give your brave sons of the future the ghost of a White Man's show.
Allen Ginsberg |
Please master can I touch your cheeck
please master can I kneel at your feet
please master can I loosen your blue pants
please master can I gaze at your golden haired belly
please master can I have your thighs bare to my eyes
please master can I take off my clothes below your chair
please master can I can I kiss your ankles and soul
please master can I touch lips to your hard muscle hairless thigh
please master can I lay my ear pressed to your stomach
please master can I wrap my arms around your white ***
please master can I lick your groin gurled with blond soft fur
please master can I touch my tongue to your rosy *******
please master may I pass my face to your balls,
please master order me down on the floor,
please master tell me to lick your thick shaft
please master put your rough hands on my bald hairy skull
please master press my mouth to your prick-heart
please master press my face into your belly, pull me slowly strong thumbed
till your dumb hardness fills my throat to the base
till I swallow and taste your delicate flesh-hot prick barrel veined Please
Mater push my shoulders away and stare in my eyes, & make me bend over
please master grab my thighs and lift my *** to your waist
please master your hand's rough stroke on my neck your palm down to my
please master push me, my feet on chairs, till my hole feels the breath of
your spit and your thumb stroke
please master make my say Please Master **** me now Please
Master grease my balls and hairmouth with sweet vaselines
please master stroke your shaft with white creams
please master touch your **** head to my wrinkled self-hole
please master push it in gently, your elbows enwrapped round my breast
your arms passing down to my belly, my ***** you touch w/ your fingers
please master shove it in me a little, a little, a little,
please master sink your droor thing down my behind
& please master make me wiggle my rear to eat up the prick trunk
till my asshalfs cuddle your thighs, my back bent over,
till I'm alone sticking out, your sword stuck throbbing in me
please master pull out and slowly roll onto the bottom
please master lunge it again, and withdraw the tip
please please master **** me again with your self, please **** me Please
Master drive down till it hurts me the softness the
Softness please master make love to my ***, give body to center, & **** me
for good like a girl,
tenderly clasp me please master I take me to thee,
& drive in my belly your selfsame sweet heat-rood
you fingered in solitude Denver or Brooklyn or fucked in a maiden in Paris
please master drive me thy vehicle, body of love drops, sweat ****
body of tenderness, Give me your dogh **** faster
please master make me go moan on the table
Go moan O please master do **** me like that
in your rhythm thrill-plunge & pull-back-bounce & push down
till I loosen my ******* a dog on the table yelping with terror delight to be
Please master call me a dog, an *** beast, a wet *******,
& **** me more violent, my eyes hid with your palms round my skull
& plunge down in a brutal hard lash thru soft drip-fish
& throb thru five seconds to spurt out your semen heat
over & over, bamming it in while I cry out your name I do love you
Laure-Anne Bosselaar |
I watch the man bend over his patch,
a fat gunny sack at his feet.
He combs the earth
with his fingers, picks up pebbles around
tiny heads of sorrel.
Clouds bruise in, clog the sky,
the first fat drops pock-mark the dust.
The man wipes his hands on his chest,
opens the sack, pulls out top halves
of broken bottles, and plants them, firmly,
over each head of sorrel — tilting the necks
toward the rain.
His back is drenched, so am I,
his careful gestures clench my throat,
wrench a hunger out of me I don't understand,
can't turn away from.
The last plant
sheltered, the man straightens his back,
swings the sack over his shouler, looks
at the sky, then at me and — as if to end
a conversation — says: I know they'd survive
without the bottles, I know.
He leaves the garden,
plods downhill, blurs away.
I hear myself
say it to no one: I never had a father.
Oscar Wilde |
Her ivory hands on the ivory keys
Strayed in a fitful fantasy,
Like the silver gleam when the poplar trees
Rustle their pale-leaves listlessly,
Or the drifting foam of a restless sea
When the waves show their teeth in the flying breeze.
Her gold hair fell on the wall of gold
Like the delicate gossamer tangles spun
On the burnished disk of the marigold,
Or the sunflower turning to meet the sun
When the gloom of the dark blue night is done,
And the spear of the lily is aureoled.
And her sweet red lips on these lips of mine
Burned like the ruby fire set
In the swinging lamp of a crimson shrine,
Or the bleeding wounds of the pomegranate,
Or the heart of the lotus drenched and wet
With the spilt-out blood of the rose-red wine.
Walt Whitman |
NOW list to my morning’s romanza—I tell the signs of the Answerer;
To the cities and farms I sing, as they spread in the sunshine before me.
A young man comes to me bearing a message from his brother;
How shall the young man know the whether and when of his brother?
Tell him to send me the signs.
And I stand before the young man face to face, and take his right hand in my left hand,
hand in my right hand,
And I answer for his brother, and for men, and I answer for him that answers for all, and
Him all wait for—him all yield up to—his word is decisive and final,
Him they accept, in him lave, in him perceive themselves, as amid light,
Him they immerse, and he immerses them.
Beautiful women, the haughtiest nations, laws, the landscape, people, animals,
The profound earth and its attributes, and the unquiet ocean, (so tell I my morning’s
All enjoyments and properties, and money, and whatever money will buy,
The best farms—others toiling and planting, and he unavoidably reaps,
The noblest and costliest cities—others grading and building, and he domiciles there;
Nothing for any one, but what is for him—near and far are for him, the ships in the
The perpetual shows and marches on land, are for him, if they are for any body.
He puts things in their attitudes;
He puts to-day out of himself, with plasticity and love;
He places his own city, times, reminiscences, parents, brothers and sisters, associations,
employment, politics, so that the rest never shame them afterward, nor assume to command
He is the answerer:
What can be answer’d he answers—and what cannot be answer’d, he shows how
A man is a summons and challenge;
(It is vain to skulk—Do you hear that mocking and laughter? Do you hear the ironical
Books, friendships, philosophers, priests, action, pleasure, pride, beat up and down,
He indicates the satisfaction, and indicates them that beat up and down also.
Whichever the sex, whatever the season or place, he may go freshly and gently and safely,
He has the pass-key of hearts—to him the response of the prying of hands on the
His welcome is universal—the flow of beauty is not more welcome or universal than he
The person he favors by day, or sleeps with at night, is blessed.
Every existence has its idiom—everything has an idiom and tongue;
He resolves all tongues into his own, and bestows it upon men, and any man translates, and
translates himself also;
One part does not counteract another part—he is the joiner—he sees how they
He says indifferently and alike, How are you, friend? to the President at his
And he says, Good-day, my brother! to Cudge that hoes in the sugar-field,
And both understand him, and know that his speech is right.
He walks with perfect ease in the Capitol,
He walks among the Congress, and one Representative says to another, Here is our equal,
Then the mechanics take him for a mechanic,
And the soldiers suppose him to be a soldier, and the sailors that he has follow’d
And the authors take him for an author, and the artists for an artist,
And the laborers perceive he could labor with them and love them;
No matter what the work is, that he is the one to follow it, or has follow’d it,
No matter what the nation, that he might find his brothers and sisters there.
The English believe he comes of their English stock,
A Jew to the Jew he seems—a Russ to the Russ—usual and near, removed from none.
Whoever he looks at in the traveler’s coffee-house claims him,
The Italian or Frenchman is sure, and the German is sure, and the Spaniard is sure, and
Cuban is sure;
The engineer, the deck-hand on the great lakes, or on the Mississippi, or St.
Sacramento, or Hudson, or Paumanok Sound, claims him.
The gentleman of perfect blood acknowledges his perfect blood;
The insulter, the prostitute, the angry person, the beggar, see themselves in the ways of
him—he strangely transmutes them,
They are not vile any more—they hardly know themselves, they are so grown.
Billy Collins |
The murkiness of the local garage is not so dense
that you cannot make out the calendar of pinup
drawings on the wall above a bench of tools.
Your ears are ringing with the sound of
the mechanic hammering on your exhaust pipe,
and as you look closer you notice that this month's
is not the one pushing the lawn mower, wearing
a straw hat and very short blue shorts,
her shirt tied in a knot just below her breasts.
Nor is it the one in the admiral's cap, bending
forward, resting her hands on a wharf piling,
glancing over the tiny anchors on her shoulders.
No, this is March, the month of great winds,
so appropriately it is the one walking her dog
along a city sidewalk on a very blustery day.
One hand is busy keeping her hat down on her head
and the other is grasping the little dog's leash,
so of course there is no hand left to push down
her dress which is billowing up around her waist
exposing her long stockinged legs and yes the secret
apparatus of her garter belt.
Needless to say,
in the confusion of wind and excited dog
the leash has wrapped itself around her ankles
several times giving her a rather bridled
and helpless appearance which is added to
by the impossibly high heels she is teetering on.
You would like to come to her rescue,
gather up the little dog in your arms,
untangle the leash, lead her to safety,
and receive her bottomless gratitude, but
the mechanic is calling you over to look
at something under your car.
It seems that he has
run into a problem and the job is going
to cost more than he had said and take
much longer than he had thought.
Well, it can't be helped, you hear yourself say
as you return to your place by the workbench,
knowing that as soon as the hammering resumes
you will slowly lift the bottom of the calendar
just enough to reveal a glimpse of what
the future holds in store: ah,
the red polka dot umbrella of April and her
upturned palm extended coyly into the rain.