Best Famous Husband Poems

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12
Written by Robert William Service | Create an image from this poem

The Ghosts

 Smith, great writer of stories, drank; found it immortalized his pen;
Fused in his brain-pan, else a blank, heavens of glory now and then;
Gave him the magical genius touch; God-given power to gouge out, fling
Flat in your face a soul-thought -- Bing!
Twiddle your heart-strings in his clutch.
"Bah!" said Smith, "let my body lie stripped to the buff in swinish shame, If I can blaze in the radiant sky out of adoring stars my name.
Sober am I nonentitized; drunk am I more than half a god.
Well, let the flesh be sacrificed; spirit shall speak and shame the clod.
Who would not gladly, gladly give Life to do one thing that will live?" Smith had a friend, we'll call him Brown; dearer than brothers were those two.
When in the wassail Smith would drown, Brown would rescue and pull him through.
When Brown was needful Smith would lend; so it fell as the years went by, Each on the other would depend: then at the last Smith came to die.
There Brown sat in the sick man's room, still as a stone in his despair; Smith bent on him his eyes of doom, shook back his lion mane of hair; Said: "Is there one in my chosen line, writer of forthright tales my peer? Look in that little desk of mine; there is a package, bring it here.
Story of stories, gem of all; essence and triumph, key and clue; Tale of a loving woman's fall; soul swept hell-ward, and God! it's true.
I was the man -- Oh, yes, I've paid, paid with mighty and mordant pain.
Look! here's the masterpiece I've made out of my sin, my manhood slain.
Art supreme! yet the world would stare, know my mistress and blaze my shame.
I have a wife and daughter -- there! take it and thrust it in the flame.
" Brown answered: "Master, you have dipped pen in your heart, your phrases sear.
Ruthless, unflinching, you have stripped naked your soul and set it here.
Have I not loved you well and true? See! between us the shadows drift; This bit of blood and tears means You -- oh, let me have it, a parting gift.
Sacred I'll hold it, a trust divine; sacred your honour, her dark despair; Never shall it see printed line: here, by the living God I swear.
" Brown on a Bible laid his hand; Smith, great writer of stories, sighed: "Comrade, I trust you, and understand.
Keep my secret!" And so he died.
Smith was buried -- up soared his sales; lured you his books in every store; Exquisite, whimsy, heart-wrung tales; men devoured them and craved for more.
So when it slyly got about Brown had a posthumous manuscript, Jones, the publisher, sought him out, into his pocket deep he dipped.
"A thousand dollars?" Brown shook his head.
"The story is not for sale, " he said.
Jones went away, then others came.
Tempted and taunted, Brown was true.
Guarded at friendship's shrine the fame of the unpublished story grew and grew.
It's a long, long lane that has no end, but some lanes end in the Potter's field; Smith to Brown had been more than friend: patron, protector, spur and shield.
Poor, loving-wistful, dreamy Brown, long and lean, with a smile askew, Friendless he wandered up and down, gaunt as a wolf, as hungry too.
Brown with his lilt of saucy rhyme, Brown with his tilt of tender mirth Garretless in the gloom and grime, singing his glad, mad songs of earth: So at last with a faith divine, down and down to the Hunger-line.
There as he stood in a woeful plight, tears a-freeze on his sharp cheek-bones, Who should chance to behold his plight, but the publisher, the plethoric Jones; Peered at him for a little while, held out a bill: "NOW, will you sell?" Brown scanned it with his twisted smile: "A thousand dollars! you go to hell!" Brown enrolled in the homeless host, sleeping anywhere, anywhen; Suffered, strove, became a ghost, slave of the lamp for other men; For What's-his-name and So-and-so in the abyss his soul he stripped, Yet in his want, his worst of woe, held he fast to the manuscript.
Then one day as he chewed his pen, half in hunger and half despair, Creaked the door of his garret den; Dick, his brother, was standing there.
Down on the pallet bed he sank, ashen his face, his voice a wail: "Save me, brother! I've robbed the bank; to-morrow it's ruin, capture, gaol.
Yet there's a chance: I could to-day pay back the money, save our name; You have a manuscript, they say, worth a thousand -- think, man! the shame.
.
.
.
" Brown with his heart pain-pierced the while, with his stern, starved face, and his lips stone-pale, Shuddered and smiled his twisted smile: "Brother, I guess you go to gaol.
" While poor Brown in the leer of dawn wrestled with God for the sacred fire, Came there a woman weak and wan, out of the mob, the murk, the mire; Frail as a reed, a fellow ghost, weary with woe, with sorrowing; Two pale souls in the legion lost; lo! Love bent with a tender wing, Taught them a joy so deep, so true, it seemed that the whole-world fabric shook, Thrilled and dissolved in radiant dew; then Brown made him a golden book, Full of the faith that Life is good, that the earth is a dream divinely fair, Lauding his gem of womanhood in many a lyric rich and rare; Took it to Jones, who shook his head: "I will consider it," he said.
While he considered, Brown's wife lay clutched in the tentacles of pain; Then came the doctor, grave and grey; spoke of decline, of nervous strain; Hinted Egypt, the South of France -- Brown with terror was tiger-gripped.
Where was the money? What the chance? Pitiful God! .
.
.
the manuscript! A thousand dollars! his only hope! he gazed and gazed at the garret wall.
.
.
.
Reached at last for the envelope, turned to his wife and told her all.
Told of his friend, his promise true; told like his very heart would break: "Oh, my dearest! what shall I do? shall I not sell it for your sake?" Ghostlike she lay, as still as doom; turned to the wall her weary head; Icy-cold in the pallid gloom, silent as death .
.
.
at last she said: "Do! my husband? Keep your vow! Guard his secret and let me die.
.
.
.
Oh, my dear, I must tell you now -- the women he loved and wronged was I; Darling! I haven't long to live: I never told you -- forgive, forgive!" For a long, long time Brown did not speak; sat bleak-browed in the wretched room; Slowly a tear stole down his cheek, and he kissed her hand in the dismal gloom.
To break his oath, to brand her shame; his well-loved friend, his worshipped wife; To keep his vow, to save her name, yet at the cost of what? Her life! A moment's space did he hesitate, a moment of pain and dread and doubt, Then he broke the seals, and, stern as fate, unfolded the sheets and spread them out.
.
.
.
On his knees by her side he limply sank, peering amazed -- each page was blank.
(For oh, the supremest of our art are the stories we do not dare to tell, Locked in the silence of the heart, for the awful records of Heav'n and Hell.
) Yet those two in the silence there, seemed less weariful than before.
Hark! a step on the garret stair, a postman knocks at the flimsy door.
"Registered letter!" Brown thrills with fear; opens, and reads, then bends above: "Glorious tidings! Egypt, dear! The book is accepted -- life and love.
"
Written by Marianne Moore | Create an image from this poem

Marriage

 This institution,
perhaps one should say enterprise
out of respect for which
one says one need not change one's mind
about a thing one has believed in,
requiring public promises
of one's intention
to fulfill a private obligation:
I wonder what Adam and Eve
think of it by this time,
this firegilt steel
alive with goldenness;
how bright it shows --
"of circular traditions and impostures,
committing many spoils,"
requiring all one's criminal ingenuity
to avoid!
Psychology which explains everything
explains nothing
and we are still in doubt.
Eve: beautiful woman -- I have seen her when she was so handsome she gave me a start, able to write simultaneously in three languages -- English, German and French and talk in the meantime; equally positive in demanding a commotion and in stipulating quiet: "I should like to be alone;" to which the visitor replies, "I should like to be alone; why not be alone together?" Below the incandescent stars below the incandescent fruit, the strange experience of beauty; its existence is too much; it tears one to pieces and each fresh wave of consciousness is poison.
"See her, see her in this common world," the central flaw in that first crystal-fine experiment, this amalgamation which can never be more than an interesting possibility, describing it as "that strange paradise unlike flesh, gold, or stately buildings, the choicest piece of my life: the heart rising in its estate of peace as a boat rises with the rising of the water;" constrained in speaking of the serpent -- that shed snakeskin in the history of politeness not to be returned to again -- that invaluable accident exonerating Adam.
And he has beauty also; it's distressing -- the O thou to whom, from whom, without whom nothing -- Adam; "something feline, something colubrine" -- how true! a crouching mythological monster in that Persian miniature of emerald mines, raw silk -- ivory white, snow white, oyster white and six others -- that paddock full of leopards and giraffes -- long lemonyellow bodies sown with trapezoids of blue.
Alive with words, vibrating like a cymbal touched before it has been struck, he has prophesied correctly -- the industrious waterfall, "the speedy stream which violently bears all before it, at one time silent as the air and now as powerful as the wind.
" "Treading chasms on the uncertain footing of a spear," forgetting that there is in woman a quality of mind which is an instinctive manifestation is unsafe, he goes on speaking in a formal, customary strain of "past states," the present state, seals, promises, the evil one suffered, the good one enjoys, hell, heaven, everything convenient to promote one's joy.
" There is in him a state of mind by force of which, perceiving what it was not intended that he should, "he experiences a solemn joy in seeing that he has become an idol.
" Plagued by the nightingale in the new leaves, with its silence -- not its silence but its silences, he says of it: "It clothes me with a shirt of fire.
" "He dares not clap his hands to make it go on lest it should fly off; if he does nothing, it will sleep; if he cries out, it will not understand.
" Unnerved by the nightingale and dazzled by the apple, impelled by "the illusion of a fire effectual to extinguish fire," compared with which the shining of the earth is but deformity -- a fire "as high as deep as bright as broad as long as life itself," he stumbles over marriage, "a very trivial object indeed" to have destroyed the attitude in which he stood -- the ease of the philosopher unfathered by a woman.
Unhelpful Hymen! "a kind of overgrown cupid" reduced to insignificance by the mechanical advertising parading as involuntary comment, by that experiment of Adam's with ways out but no way in -- the ritual of marriage, augmenting all its lavishness; its fiddle-head ferns, lotus flowers, opuntias, white dromedaries, its hippopotamus -- nose and mouth combined in one magnificent hopper, "the crested screamer -- that huge bird almost a lizard," its snake and the potent apple.
He tells us that "for love that will gaze an eagle blind, that is like a Hercules climbing the trees in the garden of the Hesperides, from forty-five to seventy is the best age," commending it as a fine art, as an experiment, a duty or as merely recreation.
One must not call him ruffian nor friction a calamity -- the fight to be affectionate: "no truth can be fully known until it has been tried by the tooth of disputation.
" The blue panther with black eyes, the basalt panther with blue eyes, entirely graceful -- one must give them the path -- the black obsidian Diana who "darkeneth her countenance as a bear doth, causing her husband to sigh," the spiked hand that has an affection for one and proves it to the bone, impatient to assure you that impatience is the mark of independence not of bondage.
"Married people often look that way" -- "seldom and cold, up and down, mixed and malarial with a good day and bad.
" "When do we feed?" We occidentals are so unemotional, we quarrel as we feed; one's self is quite lost, the irony preserved in "the Ahasuerus t?te ? t?te banquet" with its "good monster, lead the way," with little laughter and munificence of humor in that quixotic atmosphere of frankness in which "Four o'clock does not exist but at five o'clock the ladies in their imperious humility are ready to receive you"; in which experience attests that men have power and sometimes one is made to feel it.
He says, "what monarch would not blush to have a wife with hair like a shaving-brush? The fact of woman is not `the sound of the flute but every poison.
'" She says, "`Men are monopolists of stars, garters, buttons and other shining baubles' -- unfit to be the guardians of another person's happiness.
" He says, "These mummies must be handled carefully -- `the crumbs from a lion's meal, a couple of shins and the bit of an ear'; turn to the letter M and you will find that `a wife is a coffin,' that severe object with the pleasing geometry stipulating space and not people, refusing to be buried and uniquely disappointing, revengefully wrought in the attitude of an adoring child to a distinguished parent.
" She says, "This butterfly, this waterfly, this nomad that has `proposed to settle on my hand for life.
' -- What can one do with it? There must have been more time in Shakespeare's day to sit and watch a play.
You know so many artists are fools.
" He says, "You know so many fools who are not artists.
" The fact forgot that "some have merely rights while some have obligations," he loves himself so much, he can permit himself no rival in that love.
She loves herself so much, she cannot see herself enough -- a statuette of ivory on ivory, the logical last touch to an expansive splendor earned as wages for work done: one is not rich but poor when one can always seem so right.
What can one do for them -- these savages condemned to disaffect all those who are not visionaries alert to undertake the silly task of making people noble? This model of petrine fidelity who "leaves her peaceful husband only because she has seen enough of him" -- that orator reminding you, "I am yours to command.
" "Everything to do with love is mystery; it is more than a day's work to investigate this science.
" One sees that it is rare -- that striking grasp of opposites opposed each to the other, not to unity, which in cycloid inclusiveness has dwarfed the demonstration of Columbus with the egg -- a triumph of simplicity -- that charitive Euroclydon of frightening disinterestedness which the world hates, admitting: "I am such a cow, if I had a sorrow, I should feel it a long time; I am not one of those who have a great sorrow in the morning and a great joy at noon;" which says: "I have encountered it among those unpretentious proteg?s of wisdom, where seeming to parade as the debater and the Roman, the statesmanship of an archaic Daniel Webster persists to their simplicity of temper as the essence of the matter: `Liberty and union now and forever;' the book on the writing-table; the hand in the breast-pocket.
"
Written by Anna Akhmatova | Create an image from this poem

Requiem

 Not under foreign skies
 Nor under foreign wings protected -
 I shared all this with my own people
 There, where misfortune had abandoned us.
[1961] INSTEAD OF A PREFACE During the frightening years of the Yezhov terror, I spent seventeen months waiting in prison queues in Leningrad.
One day, somehow, someone 'picked me out'.
On that occasion there was a woman standing behind me, her lips blue with cold, who, of course, had never in her life heard my name.
Jolted out of the torpor characteristic of all of us, she said into my ear (everyone whispered there) - 'Could one ever describe this?' And I answered - 'I can.
' It was then that something like a smile slid across what had previously been just a face.
[The 1st of April in the year 1957.
Leningrad] DEDICATION Mountains fall before this grief, A mighty river stops its flow, But prison doors stay firmly bolted Shutting off the convict burrows And an anguish close to death.
Fresh winds softly blow for someone, Gentle sunsets warm them through; we don't know this, We are everywhere the same, listening To the scrape and turn of hateful keys And the heavy tread of marching soldiers.
Waking early, as if for early mass, Walking through the capital run wild, gone to seed, We'd meet - the dead, lifeless; the sun, Lower every day; the Neva, mistier: But hope still sings forever in the distance.
The verdict.
Immediately a flood of tears, Followed by a total isolation, As if a beating heart is painfully ripped out, or, Thumped, she lies there brutally laid out, But she still manages to walk, hesitantly, alone.
Where are you, my unwilling friends, Captives of my two satanic years? What miracle do you see in a Siberian blizzard? What shimmering mirage around the circle of the moon? I send each one of you my salutation, and farewell.
[March 1940] INTRODUCTION [PRELUDE] It happened like this when only the dead Were smiling, glad of their release, That Leningrad hung around its prisons Like a worthless emblem, flapping its piece.
Shrill and sharp, the steam-whistles sang Short songs of farewell To the ranks of convicted, demented by suffering, As they, in regiments, walked along - Stars of death stood over us As innocent Russia squirmed Under the blood-spattered boots and tyres Of the black marias.
I You were taken away at dawn.
I followed you As one does when a corpse is being removed.
Children were crying in the darkened house.
A candle flared, illuminating the Mother of God.
.
.
The cold of an icon was on your lips, a death-cold sweat On your brow - I will never forget this; I will gather To wail with the wives of the murdered streltsy (1) Inconsolably, beneath the Kremlin towers.
[1935.
Autumn.
Moscow] II Silent flows the river Don A yellow moon looks quietly on Swanking about, with cap askew It sees through the window a shadow of you Gravely ill, all alone The moon sees a woman lying at home Her son is in jail, her husband is dead Say a prayer for her instead.
III It isn't me, someone else is suffering.
I couldn't.
Not like this.
Everything that has happened, Cover it with a black cloth, Then let the torches be removed.
.
.
Night.
IV Giggling, poking fun, everyone's darling, The carefree sinner of Tsarskoye Selo (2) If only you could have foreseen What life would do with you - That you would stand, parcel in hand, Beneath the Crosses (3), three hundredth in line, Burning the new year's ice With your hot tears.
Back and forth the prison poplar sways With not a sound - how many innocent Blameless lives are being taken away.
.
.
[1938] V For seventeen months I have been screaming, Calling you home.
I've thrown myself at the feet of butchers For you, my son and my horror.
Everything has become muddled forever - I can no longer distinguish Who is an animal, who a person, and how long The wait can be for an execution.
There are now only dusty flowers, The chinking of the thurible, Tracks from somewhere into nowhere And, staring me in the face And threatening me with swift annihilation, An enormous star.
[1939] VI Weeks fly lightly by.
Even so, I cannot understand what has arisen, How, my son, into your prison White nights stare so brilliantly.
Now once more they burn, Eyes that focus like a hawk, And, upon your cross, the talk Is again of death.
[1939.
Spring] VII THE VERDICT The word landed with a stony thud Onto my still-beating breast.
Nevermind, I was prepared, I will manage with the rest.
I have a lot of work to do today; I need to slaughter memory, Turn my living soul to stone Then teach myself to live again.
.
.
But how.
The hot summer rustles Like a carnival outside my window; I have long had this premonition Of a bright day and a deserted house.
[22 June 1939.
Summer.
Fontannyi Dom (4)] VIII TO DEATH You will come anyway - so why not now? I wait for you; things have become too hard.
I have turned out the lights and opened the door For you, so simple and so wonderful.
Assume whatever shape you wish.
Burst in Like a shell of noxious gas.
Creep up on me Like a practised bandit with a heavy weapon.
Poison me, if you want, with a typhoid exhalation, Or, with a simple tale prepared by you (And known by all to the point of nausea), take me Before the commander of the blue caps and let me glimpse The house administrator's terrified white face.
I don't care anymore.
The river Yenisey Swirls on.
The Pole star blazes.
The blue sparks of those much-loved eyes Close over and cover the final horror.
[19 August 1939.
Fontannyi Dom] IX Madness with its wings Has covered half my soul It feeds me fiery wine And lures me into the abyss.
That's when I understood While listening to my alien delirium That I must hand the victory To it.
However much I nag However much I beg It will not let me take One single thing away: Not my son's frightening eyes - A suffering set in stone, Or prison visiting hours Or days that end in storms Nor the sweet coolness of a hand The anxious shade of lime trees Nor the light distant sound Of final comforting words.
[14 May 1940.
Fontannyi Dom] X CRUCIFIXION Weep not for me, mother.
I am alive in my grave.
1.
A choir of angels glorified the greatest hour, The heavens melted into flames.
To his father he said, 'Why hast thou forsaken me!' But to his mother, 'Weep not for me.
.
.
' [1940.
Fontannyi Dom] 2.
Magdalena smote herself and wept, The favourite disciple turned to stone, But there, where the mother stood silent, Not one person dared to look.
[1943.
Tashkent] EPILOGUE 1.
I have learned how faces fall, How terror can escape from lowered eyes, How suffering can etch cruel pages Of cuneiform-like marks upon the cheeks.
I know how dark or ash-blond strands of hair Can suddenly turn white.
I've learned to recognise The fading smiles upon submissive lips, The trembling fear inside a hollow laugh.
That's why I pray not for myself But all of you who stood there with me Through fiercest cold and scorching July heat Under a towering, completely blind red wall.
2.
The hour has come to remember the dead.
I see you, I hear you, I feel you: The one who resisted the long drag to the open window; The one who could no longer feel the kick of familiar soil beneath her feet; The one who, with a sudden flick of her head, replied, 'I arrive here as if I've come home!' I'd like to name you all by name, but the list Has been removed and there is nowhere else to look.
So, I have woven you this wide shroud out of the humble words I overheard you use.
Everywhere, forever and always, I will never forget one single thing.
Even in new grief.
Even if they clamp shut my tormented mouth Through which one hundred million people scream; That's how I wish them to remember me when I am dead On the eve of my remembrance day.
If someone someday in this country Decides to raise a memorial to me, I give my consent to this festivity But only on this condition - do not build it By the sea where I was born, I have severed my last ties with the sea; Nor in the Tsar's Park by the hallowed stump Where an inconsolable shadow looks for me; Build it here where I stood for three hundred hours And no-one slid open the bolt.
Listen, even in blissful death I fear That I will forget the Black Marias, Forget how hatefully the door slammed and an old woman Howled like a wounded beast.
Let the thawing ice flow like tears From my immovable bronze eyelids And let the prison dove coo in the distance While ships sail quietly along the river.
[March 1940.
Fontannyi Dom] FOOTNOTES 1 An elite guard which rose up in rebellion against Peter the Great in 1698.
Most were either executed or exiled.
2 The imperial summer residence outside St Petersburg where Ahmatova spent her early years.
3 A prison complex in central Leningrad near the Finland Station, called The Crosses because of the shape of two of the buildings.
4 The Leningrad house in which Ahmatova lived.
Written by Randall Jarrell | Create an image from this poem

Next Day

 Moving from Cheer to Joy, from Joy to All,
I take a box
And add it to my wild rice, my Cornish game hens.
The slacked or shorted, basketed, identical Food-gathering flocks Are selves I overlook.
Wisdom, said William James, Is learning what to overlook.
And I am wise If that is wisdom.
Yet somehow, as I buy All from these shelves And the boy takes it to my station wagon, What I've become Troubles me even if I shut my eyes.
When I was young and miserable and pretty And poor, I'd wish What all girls wish: to have a husband, A house and children.
Now that I'm old, my wish Is womanish: That the boy putting groceries in my car See me.
It bewilders me he doesn't see me.
For so many years I was good enough to eat: the world looked at me And its mouth watered.
How often they have undressed me, The eyes of strangers! And, holding their flesh within my flesh, their vile Imaginings within my imagining, I too have taken The chance of life.
Now the boy pats my dog And we start home.
Now I am good.
The last mistaken, Ecstatic, accidental bliss, the blind Happiness that, bursting, leaves upon the palm Some soap and water-- It was so long ago, back in some Gay Twenties, Nineties, I don't know .
.
.
Today I miss My lovely daughter Away at school, my sons away at school, My husband away at work--I wish for them.
The dog, the maid, And I go through the sure unvarying days At home in them.
As I look at my life, I am afraid Only that it will change, as I am changing: I am afraid, this morning, of my face.
It looks at me From the rear-view mirror, with the eyes I hate, The smile I hate.
Its plain, lined look Of gray discovery Repeats to me: "You're old.
" That's all, I'm old.
And yet I'm afraid, as I was at the funeral I went to yesterday.
My friend's cold made-up face, granite among its flowers, Her undressed, operated-on, dressed body Were my face and body.
As I think of her and I hear her telling me How young I seem; I am exceptional; I think of all I have.
But really no one is exceptional, No one has anything, I'm anybody, I stand beside my grave Confused with my life, that is commonplace and solitary.
Written by William Butler Yeats | Create an image from this poem

The Phases Of The Moon

 An old man cocked his car upon a bridge;
 He and his friend, their faces to the South,
 Had trod the uneven road.
Their hoots were soiled, Their Connemara cloth worn out of shape; They had kept a steady pace as though their beds, Despite a dwindling and late-risen moon, Were distant still.
An old man cocked his ear.
Aherne.
What made that Sound? Robartes.
A rat or water-hen Splashed, or an otter slid into the stream.
We are on the bridge; that shadow is the tower, And the light proves that he is reading still.
He has found, after the manner of his kind, Mere images; chosen this place to live in Because, it may be, of the candle-light From the far tower where Milton's Platonist Sat late, or Shelley's visionary prince: The lonely light that Samuel Palmer engraved, An image of mysterious wisdom won by toil; And now he seeks in book or manuscript What he shall never find.
Ahernc.
Why should not you Who know it all ring at his door, and speak Just truth enough to show that his whole life Will scarcely find for him a broken crust Of all those truths that are your daily bread; And when you have spoken take the roads again? Robartes.
He wrote of me in that extravagant style He had learnt from pater, and to round his tale Said I was dead; and dead I choose to be.
Aherne.
Sing me the changes of the moon once more; True song, though speech: "mine author sung it me.
' Robartes.
Twenty-and-eight the phases of the moon, The full and the moon's dark and all the crescents, Twenty-and-eight, and yet but six-and-twenty The cradles that a man must needs be rocked in: For there's no human life at the full or the dark.
From the first crescent to the half, the dream But summons to adventure and the man Is always happy like a bird or a beast; But while the moon is rounding towards the full He follows whatever whim's most difficult Among whims not impossible, and though scarred.
As with the cat-o'-nine-tails of the mind, His body moulded from within his body Grows comelier.
Eleven pass, and then Athene takes Achilles by the hair, Hector is in the dust, Nietzsche is born, Because the hero's crescent is the twelfth.
And yet, twice born, twice buried, grow he must, Before the full moon, helpless as a worm.
The thirteenth moon but sets the soul at war In its own being, and when that war's begun There is no muscle in the arm; and after, Under the frenzy of the fourteenth moon, The soul begins to tremble into stillness, To die into the labyrinth of itself! Aherne.
Sing out the song; sing to the end, and sing The strange reward of all that discipline.
Robartes.
All thought becomes an image and the soul Becomes a body: that body and that soul Too perfect at the full to lie in a cradle, Too lonely for the traffic of the world: Body and soul cast out and cast away Beyond the visible world.
Aherne.
All dreams of the soul End in a beautiful man's or woman's body.
Robartes, Have you not always known it? Aherne.
The song will have it That those that we have loved got their long fingers From death, and wounds, or on Sinai's top, Or from some bloody whip in their own hands.
They ran from cradle to cradle till at last Their beauty dropped out of the loneliness Of body and soul.
Robartes.
The lover's heart knows that.
Aherne.
It must be that the terror in their eyes Is memory or foreknowledge of the hour When all is fed with light and heaven is bare.
Robartes.
When the moon's full those creatures of the full Are met on the waste hills by countrymen Who shudder and hurry by: body and soul Estranged amid the strangeness of themselves, Caught up in contemplation, the mind's eye Fixed upon images that once were thought; For separate, perfect, and immovable Images can break the solitude Of lovely, satisfied, indifferent eyes.
And thereupon with aged, high-pitched voice Aherne laughed, thinking of the man within, His sleepless candle and lahorious pen.
Robartes.
And after that the crumbling of the moon.
The soul remembering its loneliness Shudders in many cradles; all is changed, It would be the world's servant, and as it serves, Choosing whatever task's most difficult Among tasks not impossible, it takes Upon the body and upon the soul The coarseness of the drudge.
Aherne.
Before the full It sought itself and afterwards the world.
Robartes.
Because you are forgotten, half out of life, And never wrote a book, your thought is clear.
Reformer, merchant, statesman, learned man, Dutiful husband, honest wife by turn, Cradle upon cradle, and all in flight and all Deformed because there is no deformity But saves us from a dream.
Aherne.
And what of those That the last servile crescent has set free? Robartes.
Because all dark, like those that are all light, They are cast beyond the verge, and in a cloud, Crying to one another like the bats; And having no desire they cannot tell What's good or bad, or what it is to triumph At the perfection of one's own obedience; And yet they speak what's blown into the mind; Deformed beyond deformity, unformed, Insipid as the dough before it is baked, They change their bodies at a word.
Aherne.
And then? Rohartes.
When all the dough has been so kneaded up That it can take what form cook Nature fancies, The first thin crescent is wheeled round once more.
Aherne.
But the escape; the song's not finished yet.
Robartes.
Hunchback and Saint and Fool are the last crescents.
The burning bow that once could shoot an arrow Out of the up and down, the wagon-wheel Of beauty's cruelty and wisdom's chatter - Out of that raving tide - is drawn betwixt Deformity of body and of mind.
Aherne.
Were not our beds far off I'd ring the bell, Stand under the rough roof-timbers of the hall Beside the castle door, where all is stark Austerity, a place set out for wisdom That he will never find; I'd play a part; He would never know me after all these years But take me for some drunken countryman: I'd stand and mutter there until he caught "Hunchback and Sant and Fool,' and that they came Under the three last crescents of the moon.
And then I'd stagger out.
He'd crack his wits Day after day, yet never find the meaning.
And then he laughed to think that what seemed hard Should be so simple - a bat rose from the hazels And circled round him with its squeaky cry, The light in the tower window was put out.
Written by Langston Hughes | Create an image from this poem

The Negro Mother

 Children, I come back today 
To tell you a story of the long dark way 
That I had to climb, that I had to know 
In order that the race might live and grow.
Look at my face -- dark as the night -- Yet shining like the sun with love's true light.
I am the dark girl who crossed the red sea Carrying in my body the seed of the free.
I am the woman who worked in the field Bringing the cotton and the corn to yield.
I am the one who labored as a slave, Beaten and mistreated for the work that I gave -- Children sold away from me, I'm husband sold, too.
No safety , no love, no respect was I due.
Three hundred years in the deepest South: But God put a song and a prayer in my mouth .
God put a dream like steel in my soul.
Now, through my children, I'm reaching the goal.
Now, through my children, young and free, I realized the blessing deed to me.
I couldn't read then.
I couldn't write.
I had nothing, back there in the night.
Sometimes, the valley was filled with tears, But I kept trudging on through the lonely years.
Sometimes, the road was hot with the sun, But I had to keep on till my work was done: I had to keep on! No stopping for me -- I was the seed of the coming Free.
I nourished the dream that nothing could smother Deep in my breast -- the Negro mother.
I had only hope then , but now through you, Dark ones of today, my dreams must come true: All you dark children in the world out there, Remember my sweat, my pain, my despair.
Remember my years, heavy with sorrow -- And make of those years a torch for tomorrow.
Make of my pass a road to the light Out of the darkness, the ignorance, the night.
Lift high my banner out of the dust.
Stand like free men supporting my trust.
Believe in the right, let none push you back.
Remember the whip and the slaver's track.
Remember how the strong in struggle and strife Still bar you the way, and deny you life -- But march ever forward, breaking down bars.
Look ever upward at the sun and the stars.
Oh, my dark children, may my dreams and my prayers Impel you forever up the great stairs -- For I will be with you till no white brother Dares keep down the children of the Negro Mother.
Written by Frank Bidart | Create an image from this poem

California Plush

 The only thing I miss about Los Angeles

is the Hollywood Freeway at midnight, windows down and
radio blaring
bearing right into the center of the city, the Capitol Tower
on the right, and beyond it, Hollywood Boulevard
blazing

--pimps, surplus stores, footprints of the stars

--descending through the city
 fast as the law would allow

through the lights, then rising to the stack
out of the city
to the stack where lanes are stacked six deep

 and you on top; the air
 now clean, for a moment weightless

 without memories, or
 need for a past.
The need for the past is so much at the center of my life I write this poem to record my discovery of it, my reconciliation.
It was in Bishop, the room was done in California plush: we had gone into the coffee shop, were told you could only get a steak in the bar: I hesitated, not wanting to be an occasion of temptation for my father but he wanted to, so we entered a dark room, with amber water glasses, walnut tables, captain's chairs, plastic doilies, papier-mâché bas-relief wall ballerinas, German memorial plates "bought on a trip to Europe," Puritan crosshatch green-yellow wallpaper, frilly shades, cowhide booths-- I thought of Cambridge: the lovely congruent elegance of Revolutionary architecture, even of ersatz thirties Georgian seemed alien, a threat, sign of all I was not-- to bode order and lucidity as an ideal, if not reality-- not this California plush, which also I was not.
And so I made myself an Easterner, finding it, after all, more like me than I had let myself hope.
And now, staring into the embittered face of my father, again, for two weeks, as twice a year, I was back.
The waitress asked us if we wanted a drink.
Grimly, I waited until he said no.
.
.
Before the tribunal of the world I submit the following document: Nancy showed it to us, in her apartment at the model, as she waited month by month for the property settlement, her children grown and working for their father, at fifty-three now alone, a drink in her hand: as my father said, "They keep a drink in her hand": Name Wallace du Bois Box No 128 Chino, Calif.
Date July 25 ,19 54 Mr Howard Arturian I am writing a letter to you this afternoon while I'm in the mood of writing.
How is everything getting along with you these fine days, as for me everything is just fine and I feel great except for the heat I think its lot warmer then it is up there but I don't mind it so much.
I work at the dairy half day and I go to trade school the other half day Body & Fender, now I am learning how to spray paint cars I've already painted one and now I got another car to paint.
So now I think I've learned all I want after I have learned all this.
I know how to straighten metals and all that.
I forgot to say "Hello" to you.
The reason why I am writing to you is about a job, my Parole Officer told me that he got letter from and that you want me to go to work for you.
So I wanted to know if its truth.
When I go to the Board in Feb.
I'll tell them what I want to do and where I would like to go, so if you want me to work for you I'd rather have you sent me to your brother John in Tonapah and place to stay for my family.
The Old Lady says the same thing in her last letter that she would be some place else then in Bishop, thats the way I feel too.
and another thing is my drinking problem.
I made up my mind to quit my drinking, after all what it did to me and what happen.
This is one thing I'll never forget as longs as I live I never want to go through all this mess again.
This sure did teach me lot of things that I never knew before.
So Howard you can let me know soon as possible.
I sure would appreciate it.
P.
S From Your Friend I hope you can read my Wally Du Bois writing.
I am a little nervous yet --He and his wife had given a party, and one of the guests was walking away just as Wallace started backing up his car.
He hit him, so put the body in the back seat and drove to a deserted road.
There he put it before the tires, and ran back and forth over it several times.
When he got out of Chino, he did, indeed, never do that again: but one child was dead, his only son, found with the rest of the family immobile in their beds with typhoid, next to the mother, the child having been dead two days: he continued to drink, and as if it were the Old West shot up the town a couple of Saturday nights.
"So now I think I've learned all I want after I have learned all this: this sure did teach me a lot of things that I never knew before.
I am a little nervous yet.
" It seems to me an emblem of Bishop-- For watching the room, as the waitresses in their back-combed, Parisian, peroxided, bouffant hairdos, and plastic belts, moved back and forth I thought of Wallace, and the room suddenly seemed to me not uninteresting at all: they were the same.
Every plate and chair had its congruence with all the choices creating these people, created by them--by me, for this is my father's chosen country, my origin.
Before, I had merely been anxious, bored; now, I began to ask a thousand questions.
.
.
He was, of course, mistrustful, knowing I was bored, knowing he had dragged me up here from Bakersfield after five years of almost managing to forget Bishop existed.
But he soon became loquacious, ordered a drink, and settled down for an afternoon of talk.
.
.
He liked Bishop: somehow, it was to his taste, this hard-drinking, loud, visited-by-movie-stars town.
"Better to be a big fish in a little pond.
" And he was: when they came to shoot a film, he entertained them; Miss A--, who wore nothing at all under her mink coat; Mr.
M--, good horseman, good shot.
"But when your mother let me down" (for alcoholism and infidelity, she divorced him) "and Los Angeles wouldn't give us water any more, I had to leave.
We were the first people to grow potatoes in this valley.
" When he began to tell me that he lost control of the business because of the settlement he gave my mother, because I had heard it many times, in revenge, I asked why people up here drank so much.
He hesitated.
"Bored, I guess.
--Not much to do.
" And why had Nancy's husband left her? In bitterness, all he said was: "People up here drink too damn much.
" And that was how experience had informed his life.
"So now I think I've learned all I want after I have learned all this: this sure did teach me a lot of things that I never knew before.
I am a little nervous yet.
" Yet, as my mother said, returning, as always, to the past, "I wouldn't change any of it.
It taught me so much.
Gladys is such an innocent creature: you look into her face and somehow it's empty, all she worries about are sales and the baby.
her husband's too good!" It's quite pointless to call this rationalization: my mother, for uncertain reasons, has had her bout with insanity, but she's right: the past in maiming us, makes us, fruition is also destruction: I think of Proust, dying in a cork-linked room, because he refuses to eat because he thinks that he cannot write if he eats because he wills to write, to finish his novel --his novel which recaptures the past, and with a kind of joy, because in the debris of the past, he has found the sources of the necessities which have led him to this room, writing --in this strange harmony, does he will for it to have been different? And I can't not think of the remorse of Oedipus, who tries to escape, to expiate the past by blinding himself, and then, when he is dying, sees that he has become a Daimon --does he, discovering, at last, this cruel coherence created by "the order of the universe" --does he will anything reversed? I look at my father: as he drinks his way into garrulous, shaky defensiveness, the debris of the past is just debris--; whatever I reason, it is a desolation to watch.
.
.
must I watch? He will not change; he does not want to change; every defeated gesture implies the past is useless, irretrievable.
.
.
--I want to change: I want to stop fear's subtle guidance of my life--; but, how can I do that if I am still afraid of its source?
Written by Walt Whitman | Create an image from this poem

I Sit and Look Out

 I SIT and look out upon all the sorrows of the world, and upon all oppression and shame; 
I hear secret convulsive sobs from young men, at anguish with themselves, remorseful after
 deeds
 done; 
I see, in low life, the mother misused by her children, dying, neglected, gaunt,
 desperate; 
I see the wife misused by her husband—I see the treacherous seducer of young women; 
I mark the ranklings of jealousy and unrequited love, attempted to be hid—I see these
 sights on
 the earth;
I see the workings of battle, pestilence, tyranny—I see martyrs and prisoners; 
I observe a famine at sea—I observe the sailors casting lots who shall be
 kill’d, to
 preserve the lives of the rest; 
I observe the slights and degradations cast by arrogant persons upon laborers, the poor,
 and
 upon
 negroes, and the like; 
All these—All the meanness and agony without end, I sitting, look out upon, 
See, hear, and am silent.
Written by Michael Ondaatje | Create an image from this poem

The Time Around Scars

 A girl whom I've not spoken to
or shared coffee with for several years
writes of an old scar.
On her wrist it sleeps, smooth and white, the size of a leech.
I gave it to her brandishing a new Italian penknife.
Look, I said turning, and blood spat onto her shirt.
My wife has scars like spread raindrops on knees and ankles, she talks of broken greenhouse panes and yet, apart from imagining red feet, (a nymph out of Chagall) I bring little to that scene.
We remember the time around scars, they freeze irrelevant emotions and divide us from present friends.
I remember this girl's face, the widening rise of surprise.
And would she moving with lover or husband conceal or flaunt it, or keep it at her wrist a mysterious watch.
And this scar I then remember is a medallion of no emotion.
I would meet you now and I would wish this scar to have been given with all the love that never occurred between us.
Written by Erica Jong | Create an image from this poem

LoveSpell: Against Endings

 All the endings in my life
rise up against me
like that sea of troubles
Shakespeare mixed
with metaphors;
like Vikings in their boats
singing Wagner,
like witches
burning at
the stake--
I submit
to my fate.
I know beginnings, their sweetnesses, and endings, their bitternesses-- but I do not know continuance-- I do not know the sweet demi-boredom of life as it lingers, of man and wife regarding each other across a table of shared witnesses, of the hand-in-hand dreams of those who have slept a half-century together in a bed so used and familiar it is rutted with love.
I would know that before this life closes, a soulmate to share my roses-- I would make a spell with long grey beard hairs and powdered rosemary and rue, with the jacket of a tux for a tall man with broad shoulders, who loves to dance; with one blue contact lens for his bluest eyes; with honey in a jar for his love of me; with salt in a dish for his love of sex and skin; with crushed rose petals for our bed; with tubes of cerulean blue and vermilion and rose madder for his artist's eye; with a dented Land-Rover fender for his love of travel; with a poem by Blake for his love of innocence revealed by experience; with soft rain and a bare head; with hand-in-hand dreams on Mondays and the land of fuck on Sundays; with mangoes, papayas and limes, and a house towering above the sea.
Muse, I surrender to thee.
Thy will be done, not mine.
If this love spell pleases you, send me this lover, this husband, this dancing partner for my empty bed and let him fill me from now until I die.
I offer my bones, my poems, my luck with roses, and the secret garden I have found walled in my center, and the sunflower who raises her head despite her heavy seeds.
I am ready now, Muse, to serve you faithfully even with a graceful dancing partner-- for I have learned to stand alone.
Give me your blessing.
Let the next epithalamion I write be my own.
And let it last more than the years of my life-- and without the least strain-- two lovers bareheaded in a summer rain.
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