Oscar Wilde |
Is it thy will that I should wax and wane,
Barter my cloth of gold for hodden grey,
And at thy pleasure weave that web of pain
Whose brightest threads are each a wasted day?
Is it thy will - Love that I love so well -
That my Soul's House should be a tortured spot
Wherein, like evil paramours, must dwell
The quenchless flame, the worm that dieth not?
Nay, if it be thy will I shall endure,
And sell ambition at the common mart,
And let dull failure be my vestiture,
And sorrow dig its grave within my heart.
Perchance it may be better so - at least
I have not made my heart a heart of stone,
Nor starved my boyhood of its goodly feast,
Nor walked where Beauty is a thing unknown.
Many a man hath done so; sought to fence
In straitened bonds the soul that should be free,
Trodden the dusty road of common sense,
While all the forest sang of liberty,
Not marking how the spotted hawk in flight
Passed on wide pinion through the lofty air,
To where some steep untrodden mountain height
Caught the last tresses of the Sun God's hair.
Or how the little flower he trod upon,
The daisy, that white-feathered shield of gold,
Followed with wistful eyes the wandering sun
Content if once its leaves were aureoled.
But surely it is something to have been
The best beloved for a little while,
To have walked hand in hand with Love, and seen
His purple wings flit once across thy smile.
Ay! though the gorged asp of passion feed
On my boy's heart, yet have I burst the bars,
Stood face to face with Beauty, known indeed
The Love which moves the Sun and all the stars!
William Butler Yeats |
Though nurtured like the sailing moon
In beauty's murderous brood,
She walked awhile and blushed awhile
And on my pathway stood
Until I thought her body bore
A heart of flesh and blood.
But since I laid a hand thereon
And found a heart of stone
I have attempted many things
And not a thing is done,
For every hand is lunatic
That travels on the moon.
She smiled and that transfigured me
And left me but a lout,
Maundering here, and maundering there,
Emptier of thought
Than the heavenly circuit of its stars
When the moon sails out.
Christina Rossetti |
What would I give for a heart of flesh to warm me through,
Instead of this heart of stone ice-cold whatever I do!
Hard and cold and small, of all hearts the worst of all.
What would I give for words, if only words would come!
But now in its misery my spirit has fallen dumb.
O merry friends, go your own way, I have never a word to say.
What would I give for tears! Not smiles but scalding tears,
To wash the black mark clean, and to thaw the frost of years,
To wash the stain ingrain, and to make me clean again.
Oscar Wilde |
The Thames nocturne of blue and gold
Changed to a Harmony in grey:
A barge with ochre-coloured hay
Dropt from the wharf: and chill and cold
The yellow fog came creeping down
The bridges, till the houses' walls
Seemed changed to shadows and St.
Loomed like a bubble o'er the town.
Then suddenly arose the clang
Of waking life; the streets were stirred
With country waggons: and a bird
Flew to the glistening roofs and sang.
But one pale woman all alone,
The daylight kissing her wan hair,
Loitered beneath the gas lamps' flare,
With lips of flame and heart of stone.
Sir Walter Raleigh |
Nature, that washed her hands in milk,
And had forgot to dry them,
Instead of earth took snow and silk,
At love's request to try them,
If she a mistress could compose
To please love's fancy out of those.
Her eyes he would should be of light,
A violet breath, and lips of jelly;
Her hair not black, nor overbright,
And of the softest down her belly;
As for her inside he'd have it
Only of wantonness and wit.
At love's entreaty such a one
Nature made, but with her beauty
She hath framed a heart of stone;
So as Love, by ill destiny,
Must die for her whom nature gave him
Because her darling would not save him.
But time, which nature doth despise
And rudely gives her love the lie,
Makes hope a fool, and sorrow wise,
His hands do neither wash nor dry;
But being made of steel and rust,
Turns snow and silk and milk to dust.
The light, the belly, lips, and breath,
He dims, discolors, and destroys;
With those he feeds but fills not death,
Which sometimes were the food of joys.
Yea, time doth dull each lively wit,
And dries all wantonness with it.
Oh, cruel time, which takes in trust
Our youth, or joys, and all we have,
And pays us but with age and dust;
Who in the dark and silent grave
When we have wandered all our ways
Shuts up the story of our days.
Amy Levy |
All things I can endure, save one.
The bare, blank room where is no sun;
The parcelled hours; the pallet hard;
The dreary faces here within;
The outer women's cold regard;
The Pastor's iterated "sin";--
These things could I endure, and count
No overstrain'd, unjust amount;
No undue payment for such bliss--
Yea, all things bear, save only this:
That you, who knew what thing would be,
Have wrought this evil unto me.
It is so strange to think on still--
That you, that you should do me ill!
Not as one ignorant or blind,
But seeing clearly in your mind
How this must be which now has been,
Nothing aghast at what was seen.
Now that the tale is told and done,
It is so strange to think upon.
You were so tender with me, too!
One summer's night a cold blast blew,
Closer about my throat you drew
That half-slipt shawl of dusky blue.
And once my hand, on summer's morn,
I stretched to pluck a rose; a thorn
Struck through the flesh and made it bleed
(A little drop of blood indeed!)
Pale grew your cheek you stoopt and bound
Your handkerchief about the wound;
Your voice came with a broken sound;
With the deep breath your breast was riven;
I wonder, did God laugh in Heaven?
How strange, that you should work my woe!
How strange! I wonder, do you know
How gladly, gladly I had died
(And life was very sweet that tide)
To save you from the least, light ill?
How gladly I had borne your pain.
With one great pulse we seem'd to thrill,--
Nay, but we thrill'd with pulses twain.
Even if one had told me this,
"A poison lurks within your kiss,
Gall that shall turn to night his day:"
Thereon I straight had turned away--
Ay, tho' my heart had crack'd with pain--
And never kiss'd your lips again.
At night, or when the daylight nears,
I hear the other women weep;
My own heart's anguish lies too deep
For the soft rain and pain of tears.
I think my heart has turn'd to stone,
A dull, dead weight that hurts my breast;
Here, on my pallet-bed alone,
I keep apart from all the rest.
Wide-eyed I lie upon my bed,
I often cannot sleep all night;
The future and the past are dead,
There is no thought can bring delight.
All night I lie and think and think;
If my heart were not made of stone,
But flesh and blood, it needs must shrink
Before such thoughts.
Was ever known
A woman with a heart of stone?
The doctor says that I shall die.
It may be so, yet what care I?
Endless reposing from the strife?
Death do I trust no more than life.
For one thing is like one arrayed,
And there is neither false nor true;
But in a hideous masquerade
All things dance on, the ages through.
And good is evil, evil good;
Nothing is known or understood
Save only Pain.
I have no faith
In God, or Devil, Life or Death.
The doctor says that I shall die.
You, that I knew in days gone by,
I fain would see your face once more,
Con well its features o'er and o'er;
And touch your hand and feel your kiss,
Look in your eyes and tell you this:
That all is done, that I am free;
That you, through all eternity,
Have neither part nor lot in me.
Robert William Service |
Two men I saw reel from a bar
And stumble down the street;
Coarse and uncouth as workmen are,
They walked with wobbly feet.
I watched them, thinking sadly as
I heard their hobnails clink,
The only joy a toiler has
Is to get drowned in drink.
A kitten on a wall,
A skinny, starving stray;
It looked so pitifully small,
A fluff of silver grey.
One of the men came to a stand,
A kindly chap was he,
For with a huge and horny hand
He stroked it tenderly.
With wistful hope it gazed at him
And arched a spine of fur;
It licked his hand so grimy grim
And feebly tried to purr.
And then it climbed upon his chest,
And to his drunken glee,
Upon his shoulder came to rest,
Contented as could be.
The other fellow with a jeer
Made feint to dash it down,
but as it shrank with sudden fear
I saw the first one frown;
And then I heard him coarsely cry:
"Have care for what you do;
Just harm a hair of it and I
Will twist my knife in you.
So there they stood like brutes at bay,
Their blood at fighting heat;
And snarling at each other they
Went weaving down the street,
Leaving the kitten all alone
Upon its stony shelf .
And as I haven't heart of stone
I took it home myself.
Walter de la Mare |
In sea-cold Lyonesse,
When the Sabbath eve shafts down
On the roofs, walls, belfries
Of the foundered town,
The Nereids pluck their lyres
Where the green translucency beats,
And with motionless eyes at gaze
Make ministrely in the streets.
And the ocean water stirs
In salt-worn casement and porch.
Plies the blunt-nosed fish
With fire in his skull for torch.
And the ringing wires resound;
And the unearthly lovely weep,
In lament of the music they make
In the sullen courts of sleep:
Whose marble flowers bloom for aye:
And - lapped by the moon-guiled tide -
Mock their carver with heart of stone,
Caged in his stone-ribbed side.
Francesco Petrarch |
Soleasi nel mio cor star bella e viva.
SINCE HER DEATH, NOTHING IS LEFT TO HIM BUT GRIEF.
She stood within my heart, warm, young, alone,
As in a humble home a lady bright;
By her last flight not merely am I grown
Mortal, but dead, and she an angel quite.
A soul whence every bliss and hope is flown,
Love shorn and naked of its own glad light,
Might melt with pity e'en a heart of stone:
But none there is to tell their grief or write;
These plead within, where deaf is every ear
Except mine own, whose power its griefs so mar
That nought is left me save to suffer here.
Verily we but dust and shadows are!
Verily blind and evil is our will!
Verily human hopes deceive us still!
'Mid life's bright glow she dwelt within my soul,
The sovereign tenant of a humble cell,
But when for heaven she bade the world farewell,
Death seem'd to grasp me in his fierce control:
My wither'd love torn from its brightening goal—
My soul without its treasure doom'd to dwell—
Could I but trace their grief, their sorrow tell,
A stone might wake, and fain with them condole.
[Pg 256]They inly mourn, where none can hear their woe
Save I alone, who too with grief oppress'd,
Can only soothe my anguish by my sighs:
Life is indeed a shadowy dream below;
Our blind desires by Reason's chain unbless'd,
Whilst Hope in treacherous wither'd fragments lies.