Constantine P Cavafy |
Our efforts are those of the unfortunate;
our efforts are like those of the Trojans.
Somewhat we succeed; somewhat
we regain confidence; and we start
to have courage and high hopes.
But something always happens and stops us.
Achilles in the trench before us
emerges and with loud cries terrifies us.
Our efforts are like those of the Trojans.
We believe that with resolution and daring
we will alter the blows of destiny,
and we stand outside to do battle.
But when the great crisis comes,
our daring and our resolution vanish;
our soul is agitated, paralyzed;
and we run around the walls
seeking to save ourselves in flight.
Nevertheless, our fall is certain.
on the walls, the mourning has already begun.
The memories and the sentiments of our days weep.
Bitterly Priam and Hecuba weep for us.
Rudyard Kipling |
What the moral? Who rides may read.
When the night is thick and the tracks are blind
A friend at a pinch is a friend, indeed,
But a fool to wait for the laggard behind.
Down to Gehenna or up to the Throne,
He travels the fastest who travels alone.
White hands cling to the tightened rein,
Slipping the spur from the booted heel,
Tenderest voices cry " Turn again!"
Red lips tarnish the scabbarded steel,
High hopes faint on a warm hearth-stone--
He travels the fastest who travels alone.
One may fall but he falls by himself--
Falls by himself with himself to blame.
One may attain and to him is pelf--
Loot of the city in Gold or Fame.
Plunder of earth shall be all his own
Who travels the fastest and travels alone.
Wherefore the more ye be helpen-.
en and stayed,
Stayed by a friend in the hour of toil,
Sing the heretical song I have made--
His be the labour and yours be the spoil.
Win by his aid and the aid disown--
He travels the fastest who travels alone!
Matthew Prior |
AS doctors give physic by way of prevention,
Mat, alive and in health, of his tombstone took care;
For delays are unsafe, and his pious intention
May haply be never fulfill'd by his heir.
Then take Mat's word for it, the sculptor is paid;
That the figure is fine, pray believe your own eye;
Yet credit but lightly what more may be said,
For we flatter ourselves, and teach marble to lie.
Yet counting as far as to fifty his years,
His virtues and vices were as other men's are;
High hopes he conceived, and he smother'd great fears,
In a life parti-colour'd, half pleasure, half care.
Nor to business a drudge, nor to faction a slave,
He strove to make int'rest and freedom agree;
In public employments industrious and grave,
And alone with his friends, Lord! how merry was he!
Now in equipage stately, now humbly on foot,
Both fortunes he tried, but to neither would trust;
And whirl'd in the round as the wheel turn'd about,
He found riches had wings, and knew man was but dust.
This verse, little polish'd, tho' mighty sincere,
Sets neither his titles nor merit to view;
It says that his relics collected lie here,
And no mortal yet knows too if this may be true.
Fierce robbers there are that infest the highway,
So Mat may be kill'd, and his bones never found;
False witness at court, and fierce tempests at sea,
So Mat may yet chance to be hang'd or be drown'd.
If his bones lie in earth, roll in sea, fly in air,
To Fate we must yield, and the thing is the same;
And if passing thou giv'st him a smile or a tear,
He cares not--yet, prithee, be kind to his fame.
Carl Sandburg |
HATS, where do you belong?
what is under you?
On the rim of a skyscraper’s forehead
I looked down and saw: hats: fifty thousand hats:
Swarming with a noise of bees and sheep, cattle and waterfalls,
Stopping with a silence of sea grass, a silence of prairie corn.
Hats: tell me your high hopes.
Francesco Petrarch |
Siccome eterna vita è veder Dio.
ALL HIS HAPPINESS IS IN GAZING UPON HER.
As life eternal is with God to be,
No void left craving, there of all possess'd,
So, lady mine, to be with you makes blest,
This brief frail span of mortal life to me.
So fair as now ne'er yet was mine to see—
[Pg 174]If truth from eyes to heart be well express'd—
Lovely and blessèd spirit of my breast,
Which levels all high hopes and wishes free.
Nor would I more demand if less of haste
She show'd to part; for if, as legends tell
And credence find, are some who live by smell,
On water some, or fire who touch and taste,
All, things which neither strength nor sweetness give,
Why should not I upon your dear sight live?
Robert Southey |
And I was once like this! that glowing cheek
Was mine, those pleasure-sparkling eyes, that brow
Smooth as the level lake, when not a breeze
Dies o'er the sleeping surface! twenty years
Have wrought strange alteration! Of the friends
Who once so dearly prized this miniature,
And loved it for its likeness, some are gone
To their last home; and some, estranged in heart,
Beholding me with quick-averted glance
Pass on the other side! But still these hues
Remain unalter'd, and these features wear
The look of Infancy and Innocence.
I search myself in vain, and find no trace
Of what I was: those lightly-arching lines
Dark and o'erhanging now; and that mild face
Settled in these strong lineaments!--There were
Who form'd high hopes and flattering ones of thee
Young Robert! for thine eye was quick to speak
Each opening feeling: should they not have known
When the rich rainbow on the morning cloud
Reflects its radiant dies, the husbandman
Beholds the ominous glory sad, and fears
Impending storms? they augur'd happily,
For thou didst love each wild and wonderous tale
Of faery fiction, and thine infant tongue
Lisp'd with delight the godlike deeds of Greece
And rising Rome; therefore they deem'd forsooth
That thou shouldst tread PREFERMENT'S pleasant path.
Ill-judging ones! they let thy little feet
Stray in the pleasant paths of POESY,
And when thou shouldst have prest amid the crowd
There didst thou love to linger out the day
Loitering beneath the laurels barren shade.
SPIRIT of SPENSER! was the wanderer wrong?
This little picture was for ornament
Design'd, to shine amid the motley mob
Of Fashion and of Folly,--is it not
More honour'd by this solitary song?