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Best Famous I Do Not Know Poems

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12
Written by Pablo Neruda | Create an image from this poem

A Song Of Despair

 The memory of you emerges from the night around me.
The river mingles its stubborn lament with the sea.
Deserted like the dwarves at dawn.
It is the hour of departure, oh deserted one! Cold flower heads are raining over my heart.
Oh pit of debris, fierce cave of the shipwrecked.
In you the wars and the flights accumulated.
From you the wings of the song birds rose.
You swallowed everything, like distance.
Like the sea, like time.
In you everything sank! It was the happy hour of assault and the kiss.
The hour of the spell that blazed like a lighthouse.
Pilot's dread, fury of blind driver, turbulent drunkenness of love, in you everything sank! In the childhood of mist my soul, winged and wounded.
Lost discoverer, in you everything sank! You girdled sorrow, you clung to desire, sadness stunned you, in you everything sank! I made the wall of shadow draw back, beyond desire and act, I walked on.
Oh flesh, my own flesh, woman whom I loved and lost, I summon you in the moist hour, I raise my song to you.
Like a jar you housed infinite tenderness.
and the infinite oblivion shattered you like a jar.
There was the black solitude of the islands, and there, woman of love, your arms took me in.
There was thirst and hunger, and you were the fruit.
There were grief and ruins, and you were the miracle.
Ah woman, I do not know how you could contain me in the earth of your soul, in the cross of your arms! How terrible and brief my desire was to you! How difficult and drunken, how tensed and avid.
Cemetery of kisses, there is still fire in your tombs, still the fruited boughs burn, pecked at by birds.
Oh the bitten mouth, oh the kissed limbs, oh the hungering teeth, oh the entwined bodies.
Oh the mad coupling of hope and force in which we merged and despaired.
And the tenderness, light as water and as flour.
And the word scarcely begun on the lips.
This was my destiny and in it was my voyage of my longing, and in it my longing fell, in you everything sank! Oh pit of debris, everything fell into you, what sorrow did you not express, in what sorrow are you not drowned! From billow to billow you still called and sang.
Standing like a sailor in the prow of a vessel.
You still flowered in songs, you still brike the currents.
Oh pit of debris, open and bitter well.
Pale blind diver, luckless slinger, lost discoverer, in you everything sank! It is the hour of departure, the hard cold hour which the night fastens to all the timetables.
The rustling belt of the sea girdles the shore.
Cold stars heave up, black birds migrate.
Deserted like the wharves at dawn.
Only tremulous shadow twists in my hands.
Oh farther than everything.
Oh farther than everything.
It is the hour of departure.
Oh abandoned one!


Written by William Wordsworth | Create an image from this poem

WE ARE SEVEN

  A simple child, dear brother Jim,
  That lightly draws its breath,
  And feels its life in every limb,
  What should it know of death?

  I met a little cottage girl,
  She was eight years old, she said;
  Her hair was thick with many a curl
  That cluster'd round her head.

  She had a rustic, woodland air,
  And she was wildly clad;
  Her eyes were fair, and very fair,
  —Her beauty made me glad.

  "Sisters and brothers, little maid,
  How many may you be?"
  "How many? seven in all," she said,
  And wondering looked at me.

  "And where are they, I pray you tell?"
  She answered, "Seven are we,
  And two of us at Conway dwell,
  And two are gone to sea.
"

  "Two of us in the church-yard lie,
  My sister and my brother,
  And in the church-yard cottage, I
  Dwell near them with my mother.
"

  "You say that two at Conway dwell,
  And two are gone to sea,
  Yet you are seven; I pray you tell
  Sweet Maid, how this may be?"

  Then did the little Maid reply,
  "Seven boys and girls are we;
  Two of us in the church-yard lie,
  Beneath the church-yard tree.
"

  "You run about, my little maid,
  Your limbs they are alive;
  If two are in the church-yard laid,
  Then ye are only five.
"

  "Their graves are green, they may be seen,"
  The little Maid replied,
  "Twelve steps or more from my mother's door,
  And they are side by side.
"

  "My stockings there I often knit,
  My 'kerchief there I hem;
  And there upon the ground I sit—
  I sit and sing to them.
"

  "And often after sunset, Sir,
  When it is light and fair,
  I take my little porringer,
  And eat my supper there.
"

  "The first that died was little Jane;
  In bed she moaning lay,
  Till God released her of her pain,
  And then she went away.
"

  "So in the church-yard she was laid,
  And all the summer dry,
  Together round her grave we played,
  My brother John and I.
"

  "And when the ground was white with snow,
  And I could run and slide,
  My brother John was forced to go,
  And he lies by her side.
"

  "How many are you then," said I,
  "If they two are in Heaven?"
  The little Maiden did reply,
  "O Master! we are seven.
"

  "But they are dead; those two are dead!
  Their spirits are in heaven!"
  'Twas throwing words away; for still
  The little Maid would have her will,
  And said, "Nay, we are seven!"

ANECDOTE for FATHERS,
   Shewing how the practice of Lying may be taught.

  I have a boy of five years old,
  His face is fair and fresh to see;
  His limbs are cast in beauty's mould,
  And dearly he loves me.

  One morn we stroll'd on our dry walk,
  Our quiet house all full in view,
  And held such intermitted talk
  As we are wont to do.

  My thoughts on former pleasures ran;
  I thought of Kilve's delightful shore,
  My pleasant home, when Spring began,
  A long, long year before.

  A day it was when I could bear
  To think, and think, and think again;
  With so much happiness to spare,
  I could not feel a pain.

  My boy was by my side, so slim
  And graceful in his rustic dress!
  And oftentimes I talked to him
  In very idleness.

  The young lambs ran a pretty race;
  The morning sun shone bright and warm;
  "Kilve," said I, "was a pleasant place,
  And so is Liswyn farm.
"

  "My little boy, which like you more,"
  I said and took him by the arm—
  "Our home by Kilve's delightful shore,
  Or here at Liswyn farm?"

  "And tell me, had you rather be,"
  I said and held-him by the arm,
  "At Kilve's smooth shore by the green sea,
  Or here at Liswyn farm?"

  In careless mood he looked at me,
  While still I held him by the arm,
  And said, "At Kilve I'd rather be
  Than here at Liswyn farm.
"

  "Now, little Edward, say why so;
  My little Edward, tell me why;"
  "I cannot tell, I do not know.
"
  "Why this is strange," said I.

  "For, here are woods and green hills warm:
  There surely must some reason be
  Why you would change sweet Liswyn farm,
  For Kilve by the green sea.
"

  At this, my boy hung down his head,
  He blush'd with shame, nor made reply;
  And five times to the child I said,
  "Why, Edward, tell me, why?"

  His head he raised—there was in sight,
  It caught his eye, he saw it plain—
  Upon the house-top, glittering bright,
  A broad and gilded vane.

  Then did the boy his tongue unlock,
  And thus to me he made reply;
  "At Kilve there was no weather-cock,
  And that's the reason why.
"

  Oh dearest, dearest boy! my heart
  For better lore would seldom yearn
  Could I but teach the hundredth part
  Of what from thee I learn.

LINES
  Written at a small distance from my House, and sent by
  my little boy to the person to whom they are addressed.

  It is the first mild day of March:
  Each minute sweeter than before,
  The red-breast sings from the tall larch
  That stands beside our door.

  There is a blessing in the air,
  Which seems a sense of joy to yield
  To the bare trees, and mountains bare,
  And grass in the green field.

  My Sister! ('tis a wish of mine)
  Now that our morning meal is done,
  Make haste, your morning task resign;
  Come forth and feel the sun.

  Edward will come with you, and pray,
  Put on with speed your woodland dress,
  And bring no book, for this one day
  We'll give to idleness.

  No joyless forms shall regulate
  Our living Calendar:
  We from to-day, my friend, will date
  The opening of the year.

  Love, now an universal birth,
  From heart to heart is stealing,
  From earth to man, from man to earth,
  —It is the hour of feeling.

  One moment now may give us more
  Than fifty years of reason;
  Our minds shall drink at every pore
  The spirit of the season.

  Some silent laws our hearts may make,
  Which they shall long obey;
  We for the year to come may take
  Our temper from to-day.

  And from the blessed power that rolls
  About, below, above;
  We'll frame the measure of our souls,
  They shall be tuned to love.

  Then come, my sister I come, I pray,
  With speed put on your woodland dress,
  And bring no book; for this one day
  We'll give to idleness.

Written by Alice Walker | Create an image from this poem

Gray

I have a friend
who is turning gray,
not just her hair,
and I do not know
why this is so.
Is it a lack of vitamin E pantothenic acid, or B-12? Or is it from being frantic and alone? 'How long does it take you to love someone?' I ask her.
'A hot second,' she replies.
'And how long do you love them?' 'Oh, anywhere up to several months.
' 'And how long does it take you to get over loving them?' 'Three weeks,' she said, 'tops.
' Did I mention I am also turning gray? It is because I *adore* this woman who thinks of love in this way.
Written by Anne Sexton | Create an image from this poem

Briar Rose (Sleeping Beauty)

 Consider
a girl who keeps slipping off,
arms limp as old carrots,
into the hypnotist's trance,
into a spirit world
speaking with the gift of tongues.
She is stuck in the time machine, suddenly two years old sucking her thumb, as inward as a snail, learning to talk again.
She's on a voyage.
She is swimming further and further back, up like a salmon, struggling into her mother's pocketbook.
Little doll child, come here to Papa.
Sit on my knee.
I have kisses for the back of your neck.
A penny for your thoughts, Princess.
I will hunt them like an emerald.
Come be my snooky and I will give you a root.
That kind of voyage, rank as a honeysuckle.
Once a king had a christening for his daughter Briar Rose and because he had only twelve gold plates he asked only twelve fairies to the grand event.
The thirteenth fairy, her fingers as long and thing as straws, her eyes burnt by cigarettes, her uterus an empty teacup, arrived with an evil gift.
She made this prophecy: The princess shall prick herself on a spinning wheel in her fifteenth year and then fall down dead.
Kaputt! The court fell silent.
The king looked like Munch's Scream Fairies' prophecies, in times like those, held water.
However the twelfth fairy had a certain kind of eraser and thus she mitigated the curse changing that death into a hundred-year sleep.
The king ordered every spinning wheel exterminated and exorcised.
Briar Rose grew to be a goddess and each night the king bit the hem of her gown to keep her safe.
He fastened the moon up with a safety pin to give her perpetual light He forced every male in the court to scour his tongue with Bab-o lest they poison the air she dwelt in.
Thus she dwelt in his odor.
Rank as honeysuckle.
On her fifteenth birthday she pricked her finger on a charred spinning wheel and the clocks stopped.
Yes indeed.
She went to sleep.
The king and queen went to sleep, the courtiers, the flies on the wall.
The fire in the hearth grew still and the roast meat stopped crackling.
The trees turned into metal and the dog became china.
They all lay in a trance, each a catatonic stuck in a time machine.
Even the frogs were zombies.
Only a bunch of briar roses grew forming a great wall of tacks around the castle.
Many princes tried to get through the brambles for they had heard much of Briar Rose but they had not scoured their tongues so they were held by the thorns and thus were crucified.
In due time a hundred years passed and a prince got through.
The briars parted as if for Moses and the prince found the tableau intact.
He kissed Briar Rose and she woke up crying: Daddy! Daddy! Presto! She's out of prison! She married the prince and all went well except for the fear -- the fear of sleep.
Briar Rose was an insomniac.
.
.
She could not nap or lie in sleep without the court chemist mixing her some knock-out drops and never in the prince's presence.
If if is to come, she said, sleep must take me unawares while I am laughing or dancing so that I do not know that brutal place where I lie down with cattle prods, the hole in my cheek open.
Further, I must not dream for when I do I see the table set and a faltering crone at my place, her eyes burnt by cigarettes as she eats betrayal like a slice of meat.
I must not sleep for while I'm asleep I'm ninety and think I'm dying.
Death rattles in my throat like a marble.
I wear tubes like earrings.
I lie as still as a bar of iron.
You can stick a needle through my kneecap and I won't flinch.
I'm all shot up with Novocain.
This trance girl is yours to do with.
You could lay her in a grave, an awful package, and shovel dirt on her face and she'd never call back: Hello there! But if you kissed her on the mouth her eyes would spring open and she'd call out: Daddy! Daddy! Presto! She's out of prison.
There was a theft.
That much I am told.
I was abandoned.
That much I know.
I was forced backward.
I was forced forward.
I was passed hand to hand like a bowl of fruit.
Each night I am nailed into place and forget who I am.
Daddy? That's another kind of prison.
It's not the prince at all, but my father drunkeningly bends over my bed, circling the abyss like a shark, my father thick upon me like some sleeping jellyfish.
What voyage is this, little girl? This coming out of prison? God help -- this life after death?
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 **** 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.


Written by Anne Sexton | Create an image from this poem

The Division Of Parts

 1.
Mother, my Mary Gray, once resident of Gloucester and Essex County, a photostat of your will arrived in the mail today.
This is the division of money.
I am one third of your daughters counting my bounty or I am a queen alone in the parlor still, eating the bread and honey.
It is Good Friday.
Black birds pick at my window sill.
Your coat in my closet, your bright stones on my hand, the gaudy fur animals I do not know how to use, settle on me like a debt.
A week ago, while the hard March gales beat on your house, we sorted your things: obstacles of letters, family silver, eyeglasses and shoes.
Like some unseasoned Christmas, its scales rigged and reset, I bundled out gifts I did not choose.
Now the houts of The Cross rewind.
In Boston, the devout work their cold knees toward that sweet martyrdom that Christ planned.
My timely loss is too customary to note; and yet I planned to suffer and I cannot.
It does not please my yankee bones to watch where the dying is done in its usly hours.
Black birds peck at my window glass and Easter will take its ragged son.
The clutter of worship that you taught me, Mary Gray, is old.
I imitate a memory of belief that I do not own.
I trip on your death and jesus, my stranger floats up over my Christian home, wearing his straight thorn tree.
I have cast my lot and am one third thief of you.
Time, that rearranger of estates, equips me with your garments, but not with grief.
2.
This winter when cancer began its ugliness I grieved with you each day for three months and found you in your private nook of the medicinal palace for New England Women and never once forgot how long it took.
I read to you from The New Yorker, ate suppers you wouldn't eat, fussed with your flowers, joked with your nurses, as if I were the balm among lepers, as if I could undo a life in hours if I never said goodbye.
But you turned old, all your fifty-eight years sliding like masks from your skull; and at the end I packed your nightgowns in suitcases, paid the nurses, came riding home as if I'd been told I could pretend people live in places.
3.
Since then I have pretended ease, loved with the trickeries of need, but not enough to shed my daughterhood or sweeten him as a man.
I drink the five o' clock martinis and poke at this dry page like a rough goat.
Fool! I fumble my lost childhood for a mother and lounge in sad stuff with love to catch and catch as catch can.
And Christ still waits.
I have tried to exorcise the memory of each event and remain still, a mixed child, heavy with cloths of you.
Sweet witch, you are my worried guide.
Such dangerous angels walk through Lent.
Their walls creak Anne! Convert! Convert! My desk moves.
Its cavr murmurs Boo and I am taken and beguiled.
Or wrong.
For all the way I've come I'll have to go again.
Instead, I must convert to love as reasonable as Latin, as sold as earthenware: an equilibrium I never knew.
And Lent will keep its hurt for someone else.
Christ knows enough staunch guys have hitched him in trouble.
thinking his sticks were badges to wear.
4.
Spring rusts on its skinny branch and last summer's lawn is soggy and brown.
Yesterday is just a number.
All of its winters avalanche out of sight.
What was, is gone.
Mother, last night I slept in your Bonwit Teller nightgown.
Divided, you climbed into my head.
There in my jabbering dream I heard my own angry cries and I cursed you, Dame keep out of my slumber.
My good Dame, you are dead.
And Mother, three stones slipped from your glittering eyes.
Now it's Friday's noon and I would still curse you with my rhyming words and bring you flapping back, old love, old circus knitting, god-in-her-moon, all fairest in my lang syne verse, the gauzy bride among the children, the fancy amid the absurd and awkward, that horn for hounds that skipper homeward, that museum keeper of stiff starfish, that blaze within the pilgrim woman, a clown mender, a dove's cheek among the stones, my Lady of first words, this is the division of ways.
And now, while Christ stays fastened to his Crucifix so that love may praise his sacrifice and not the grotesque metaphor, you come, a brave ghost, to fix in my mind without praise or paradise to make me your inheritor.
Written by T S (Thomas Stearns) Eliot | Create an image from this poem

Four Quartets 1: Burnt Norton

 I

Time present and time past
Are both perhaps present in time future,
And time future contained in time past.
If all time is eternally present All time is unredeemable.
What might have been is an abstraction Remaining a perpetual possibility Only in a world of speculation.
What might have been and what has been Point to one end, which is always present.
Footfalls echo in the memory Down the passage which we did not take Towards the door we never opened Into the rose-garden.
My words echo Thus, in your mind.
But to what purpose Disturbing the dust on a bowl of rose-leaves I do not know.
Other echoes Inhabit the garden.
Shall we follow? Quick, said the bird, find them, find them, Round the corner.
Through the first gate, Into our first world, shall we follow The deception of the thrush? Into our first world.
There they were, dignified, invisible, Moving without pressure, over the dead leaves, In the autumn heat, through the vibrant air, And the bird called, in response to The unheard music hidden in the shrubbery, And the unseen eyebeam crossed, for the roses Had the look of flowers that are looked at.
There they were as our guests, accepted and accepting.
So we moved, and they, in a formal pattern, Along the empty alley, into the box circle, To look down into the drained pool.
Dry the pool, dry concrete, brown edged, And the pool was filled with water out of sunlight, And the lotos rose, quietly, quietly, The surface glittered out of heart of light, And they were behind us, reflected in the pool.
Then a cloud passed, and the pool was empty.
Go, said the bird, for the leaves were full of children, Hidden excitedly, containing laughter.
Go, go, go, said the bird: human kind Cannot bear very much reality.
Time past and time future What might have been and what has been Point to one end, which is always present.
II Garlic and sapphires in the mud Clot the bedded axle-tree.
The trilling wire in the blood Sings below inveterate scars Appeasing long forgotten wars.
The dance along the artery The circulation of the lymph Are figured in the drift of stars Ascend to summer in the tree We move above the moving tree In light upon the figured leaf And hear upon the sodden floor Below, the boarhound and the boar Pursue their pattern as before But reconciled among the stars.
At the still point of the turning world.
Neither flesh nor fleshless; Neither from nor towards; at the still point, there the dance is, But neither arrest nor movement.
And do not call it fixity, Where past and future are gathered.
Neither movement from nor towards, Neither ascent nor decline.
Except for the point, the still point, There would be no dance, and there is only the dance.
I can only say, there we have been: but I cannot say where.
And I cannot say, how long, for that is to place it in time.
The inner freedom from the practical desire, The release from action and suffering, release from the inner And the outer compulsion, yet surrounded By a grace of sense, a white light still and moving, Erhebung without motion, concentration Without elimination, both a new world And the old made explicit, understood In the completion of its partial ecstasy, The resolution of its partial horror.
Yet the enchainment of past and future Woven in the weakness of the changing body, Protects mankind from heaven and damnation Which flesh cannot endure.
Time past and time future Allow but a little consciousness.
To be conscious is not to be in time But only in time can the moment in the rose-garden, The moment in the arbour where the rain beat, The moment in the draughty church at smokefall Be remembered; involved with past and future.
Only through time time is conquered.
III Here is a place of disaffection Time before and time after In a dim light: neither daylight Investing form with lucid stillness Turning shadow into transient beauty With slow rotation suggesting permanence Nor darkness to purify the soul Emptying the sensual with deprivation Cleansing affection from the temporal.
Neither plenitude nor vacancy.
Only a flicker Over the strained time-ridden faces Distracted from distraction by distraction Filled with fancies and empty of meaning Tumid apathy with no concentration Men and bits of paper, whirled by the cold wind That blows before and after time, Wind in and out of unwholesome lungs Time before and time after.
Eructation of unhealthy souls Into the faded air, the torpid Driven on the wind that sweeps the gloomy hills of London, Hampstead and Clerkenwell, Campden and Putney, Highgate, Primrose and Ludgate.
Not here Not here the darkness, in this twittering world.
Descend lower, descend only Into the world of perpetual solitude, World not world, but that which is not world, Internal darkness, deprivation And destitution of all property, Desiccation of the world of sense, Evacuation of the world of fancy, Inoperancy of the world of spirit; This is the one way, and the other Is the same, not in movement But abstention from movement; while the world moves In appetency, on its metalled ways Of time past and time future.
IV Time and the bell have buried the day, The black cloud carries the sun away.
Will the sunflower turn to us, will the clematis Stray down, bend to us; tendril and spray Clutch and cling? Chill Fingers of yew be curled Down on us? After the kingfisher's wing Has answered light to light, and is silent, the light is still At the still point of the turning world.
V Words move, music moves Only in time; but that which is only living Can only die.
Words, after speech, reach Into the silence.
Only by the form, the pattern, Can words or music reach The stillness, as a Chinese jar still Moves perpetually in its stillness.
Not the stillness of the violin, while the note lasts, Not that only, but the co-existence, Or say that the end precedes the beginning, And the end and the beginning were always there Before the beginning and after the end.
And all is always now.
Words strain, Crack and sometimes break, under the burden, Under the tension, slip, slide, perish, Decay with imprecision, will not stay in place, Will not stay still.
Shrieking voices Scolding, mocking, or merely chattering, Always assail them.
The Word in the desert Is most attacked by voices of temptation, The crying shadow in the funeral dance, The loud lament of the disconsolate chimera.
The detail of the pattern is movement, As in the figure of the ten stairs.
Desire itself is movement Not in itself desirable; Love is itself unmoving, Only the cause and end of movement, Timeless, and undesiring Except in the aspect of time Caught in the form of limitation Between un-being and being.
Sudden in a shaft of sunlight Even while the dust moves There rises the hidden laughter Of children in the foliage Quick now, here, now, always— Ridiculous the waste sad time Stretching before and after.
Written by Anne Sexton | Create an image from this poem

All My Pretty Ones

 Father, this year's jinx rides us apart 
where you followed our mother to her cold slumber; 
a second shock boiling its stone to your heart,
leaving me here to shuffle and disencumber
you from the residence you could not afford:
a gold key, your half of a woolen mill,
twenty suits from Dunne's, an English Ford,
the love and legal verbiage of another will, 
boxes of pictures of people I do not know.
I touch their cardboard faces.
They must go.
But the eyes, as thick as wood in this album, hold me.
I stop here, where a small boy waits in a ruffled dress for someone to come.
.
.
for this soldier who holds his bugle like a toy or for this velvet lady who cannot smile.
Is this your father's father, this Commodore in a mailman suit? My father, time meanwhile has made it unimportant who you are looking for.
I'll never know what these faces are all about.
I lock them into their book and throw them out.
Tlis is the yellow scrapbook that you began the year I was born; as crackling now and wrinkly as tobacco leaves: clippings where Hoover outran the Democrats, wiggling his dry finger at me and Prohibition; news where the Hindenburg went down and recent years where you went flush on war.
This year, solvent but sick, you meant to marry that pretty widow in a one-month rush.
But before you had that second chance, I cried on your fat shoulder.
Three days later you died.
These are the snapshots of marriage, stopped in places.
Side by side at the rail toward Nassau now; here, with the winner's cup at the speedboat races, here, in tails at the Cotillion, you take a bow, here, by our kennel of dogs with their pink eyes, running like show-bred pigs in their chain-link pen; here, at the horseshow where my sister wins a prize; Now I fold you down, my drunkard, my navigator, my first lost keeper, to love or look at later.
I hold a five-year diary that my mother kept for three years, telling all she does not say of your alcoholic tendency.
You overslept, she writes.
My God, father, each Christmas Day with your blood, will I drink down your glass of wine? The diary of your hurly-burly years goes to my shelf to wait for my age to pass.
Only in this hoarded span will love persevere.
Whether you are pretty or not, I outlive you, bend down my strange face to yours and forgive you.
Written by Edna St Vincent Millay | Create an image from this poem

Interim

 The room is full of you!—As I came in
And closed the door behind me, all at once
A something in the air, intangible,
Yet stiff with meaning, struck my senses sick!—

Sharp, unfamiliar odors have destroyed
Each other room's dear personality.
The heavy scent of damp, funereal flowers,— The very essence, hush-distilled, of Death— Has strangled that habitual breath of home Whose expiration leaves all houses dead; And wheresoe'er I look is hideous change.
Save here.
Here 'twas as if a weed-choked gate Had opened at my touch, and I had stepped Into some long-forgot, enchanted, strange, Sweet garden of a thousand years ago And suddenly thought, "I have been here before!" You are not here.
I know that you are gone, And will not ever enter here again.
And yet it seems to me, if I should speak, Your silent step must wake across the hall; If I should turn my head, that your sweet eyes Would kiss me from the door.
—So short a time To teach my life its transposition to This difficult and unaccustomed key!— The room is as you left it; your last touch— A thoughtless pressure, knowing not itself As saintly—hallows now each simple thing; Hallows and glorifies, and glows between The dust's grey fingers like a shielded light.
There is your book, just as you laid it down, Face to the table,—I cannot believe That you are gone!—Just then it seemed to me You must be here.
I almost laughed to think How like reality the dream had been; Yet knew before I laughed, and so was still.
That book, outspread, just as you laid it down! Perhaps you thought, "I wonder what comes next, And whether this or this will be the end"; So rose, and left it, thinking to return.
Perhaps that chair, when you arose and passed Out of the room, rocked silently a while Ere it again was still.
When you were gone Forever from the room, perhaps that chair, Stirred by your movement, rocked a little while, Silently, to and fro.
.
.
And here are the last words your fingers wrote, Scrawled in broad characters across a page In this brown book I gave you.
Here your hand, Guiding your rapid pen, moved up and down.
Here with a looping knot you crossed a "t," And here another like it, just beyond These two eccentric "e's.
" You were so small, And wrote so brave a hand! How strange it seems That of all words these are the words you chose! And yet a simple choice; you did not know You would not write again.
If you had known— But then, it does not matter,—and indeed If you had known there was so little time You would have dropped your pen and come to me And this page would be empty, and some phrase Other than this would hold my wonder now.
Yet, since you could not know, and it befell That these are the last words your fingers wrote, There is a dignity some might not see In this, "I picked the first sweet-pea to-day.
" To-day! Was there an opening bud beside it You left until to-morrow?—O my love, The things that withered,—and you came not back That day you filled this circle of my arms That now is empty.
(O my empty life!) That day—that day you picked the first sweet-pea,— And brought it in to show me! I recall With terrible distinctness how the smell Of your cool gardens drifted in with you.
I know, you held it up for me to see And flushed because I looked not at the flower, But at your face; and when behind my look You saw such unmistakable intent You laughed and brushed your flower against my lips.
(You were the fairest thing God ever made, I think.
) And then your hands above my heart Drew down its stem into a fastening, And while your head was bent I kissed your hair.
I wonder if you knew.
(Beloved hands! Somehow I cannot seem to see them still.
Somehow I cannot seem to see the dust In your bright hair.
) What is the need of Heaven When earth can be so sweet?—If only God Had let us love,—and show the world the way! Strange cancellings must ink th' eternal books When love-crossed-out will bring the answer right! That first sweet-pea! I wonder where it is.
It seems to me I laid it down somewhere, And yet,—I am not sure.
I am not sure, Even, if it was white or pink; for then 'Twas much like any other flower to me Save that it was the first.
I did not know Then, that it was the last.
If I had known— But then, it does not matter.
Strange how few, After all's said and done, the things that are Of moment.
Few indeed! When I can make Of ten small words a rope to hang the world! "I had you and I have you now no more.
" There, there it dangles,—where's the little truth That can for long keep footing under that When its slack syllables tighten to a thought? Here, let me write it down! I wish to see Just how a thing like that will look on paper! "I had you and I have you now no more.
" O little words, how can you run so straight Across the page, beneath the weight you bear? How can you fall apart, whom such a theme Has bound together, and hereafter aid In trivial expression, that have been So hideously dignified?—Would God That tearing you apart would tear the thread I strung you on! Would God—O God, my mind Stretches asunder on this merciless rack Of imagery! O, let me sleep a while! Would I could sleep, and wake to find me back In that sweet summer afternoon with you.
Summer? Tis summer still by the calendar! How easily could God, if He so willed, Set back the world a little turn or two! Correct its griefs, and bring its joys again! We were so wholly one I had not thought That we could die apart.
I had not thought That I could move,—and you be stiff and still! That I could speak,—and you perforce be dumb! I think our heart-strings were, like warp and woof In some firm fabric, woven in and out; Your golden filaments in fair design Across my duller fibre.
And to-day The shining strip is rent; the exquisite Fine pattern is destroyed; part of your heart Aches in my breast; part of my heart lies chilled In the damp earth with you.
I have been tom In two, and suffer for the rest of me.
What is my life to me? And what am I To life,—a ship whose star has guttered out? A Fear that in the deep night starts awake Perpetually, to find its senses strained Against the taut strings of the quivering air, Awaiting the return of some dread chord? Dark, Dark, is all I find for metaphor; All else were contrast,—save that contrast's wall Is down, and all opposed things flow together Into a vast monotony, where night And day, and frost and thaw, and death and life, Are synonyms.
What now—what now to me Are all the jabbering birds and foolish flowers That clutter up the world? You were my song! Now, let discord scream! You were my flower! Now let the world grow weeds! For I shall not Plant things above your grave—(the common balm Of the conventional woe for its own wound!) Amid sensations rendered negative By your elimination stands to-day, Certain, unmixed, the element of grief; I sorrow; and I shall not mock my truth With travesties of suffering, nor seek To effigy its incorporeal bulk In little wry-faced images of woe.
I cannot call you back; and I desire No utterance of my immaterial voice.
I cannot even turn my face this way Or that, and say, "My face is turned to you"; I know not where you are, I do not know If Heaven hold you or if earth transmute, Body and soul, you into earth again; But this I know:—not for one second's space Shall I insult my sight with visionings Such as the credulous crowd so eager-eyed Beholds, self-conjured, in the empty air.
Let the world wail! Let drip its easy tears! My sorrow shall be dumb! —What do I say? God! God!—God pity me! Am I gone mad That I should spit upon a rosary? Am I become so shrunken? Would to God I too might feel that frenzied faith whose touch Makes temporal the most enduring grief; Though it must walk a while, as is its wont, With wild lamenting! Would I too might weep Where weeps the world and hangs its piteous wreaths For its new dead! Not Truth, but Faith, it is That keeps the world alive.
If all at once Faith were to slacken,—that unconscious faith Which must, I know, yet be the corner-stone Of all believing,—birds now flying fearless Across would drop in terror to the earth; Fishes would drown; and the all-governing reins Would tangle in the frantic hands of God And the worlds gallop headlong to destruction! O God, I see it now, and my sick brain Staggers and swoons! How often over me Flashes this breathlessness of sudden sight In which I see the universe unrolled Before me like a scroll and read thereon Chaos and Doom, where helpless planets whirl Dizzily round and round and round and round, Like tops across a table, gathering speed With every spin, to waver on the edge One instant—looking over—and the next To shudder and lurch forward out of sight— * * * * * * * Ah, I am worn out—I am wearied out— It is too much—I am but flesh and blood, And I must sleep.
Though you were dead again, I am but flesh and blood and I must sleep.
Written by Robert William Service | Create an image from this poem

The Cremation Of Sam McGee

 There are strange things done in the midnight sun
 By the men who moil for gold;
The Arctic trails have their secret tales
 That would make your blood run cold;
The Northern Lights have seen ***** sights,
 But the queerest they ever did see
Was that night on the marge of Lake Lebarge
 I cremated Sam McGee.
Now Sam McGee was from Tennessee, where the cotton blooms and blows.
Why he left his home in the South to roam 'round the Pole, God only knows.
He was always cold, but the land of gold seemed to hold him like a spell; Though he'd often say in his homely way that he'd "sooner live in hell".
On a Christmas Day we were mushing our way over the Dawson trail.
Talk of your cold! through the parka's fold it stabbed like a driven nail.
If our eyes we'd close, then the lashes froze till sometimes we couldn't see; It wasn't much fun, but the only one to whimper was Sam McGee.
And that very night, as we lay packed tight in our robes beneath the snow, And the dogs were fed, and the stars o'erhead were dancing heel and toe, He turned to me, and "Cap," says he, "I'll cash in this trip, I guess; And if I do, I'm asking that you won't refuse my last request.
" Well, he seemed so low that I couldn't say no; then he says with a sort of moan: "It's the cursed cold, and it's got right hold till I'm chilled clean through to the bone.
Yet 'tain't being dead -- it's my awful dread of the icy grave that pains; So I want you to swear that, foul or fair, you'll cremate my last remains.
" A pal's last need is a thing to heed, so I swore I would not fail; And we started on at the streak of dawn; but God! he looked ghastly pale.
He crouched on the sleigh, and he raved all day of his home in Tennessee; And before nightfall a corpse was all that was left of Sam McGee.
There wasn't a breath in that land of death, and I hurried, horror-driven, With a corpse half hid that I couldn't get rid, because of a promise given; It was lashed to the sleigh, and it seemed to say: "You may tax your brawn and brains, But you promised true, and it's up to you to cremate those last remains.
" Now a promise made is a debt unpaid, and the trail has its own stern code.
In the days to come, though my lips were dumb, in my heart how I cursed that load.
In the long, long night, by the lone firelight, while the huskies, round in a ring, Howled out their woes to the homeless snows -- O God! how I loathed the thing.
And every day that quiet clay seemed to heavy and heavier grow; And on I went, though the dogs were spent and the grub was getting low; The trail was bad, and I felt half mad, but I swore I would not give in; And I'd often sing to the hateful thing, and it hearkened with a grin.
Till I came to the marge of Lake Lebarge, and a derelict there lay; It was jammed in the ice, but I saw in a trice it was called the "Alice May".
And I looked at it, and I thought a bit, and I looked at my frozen chum; Then "Here," said I, with a sudden cry, "is my cre-ma-tor-eum.
" Some planks I tore from the cabin floor, and I lit the boiler fire; Some coal I found that was lying around, and I heaped the fuel higher; The flames just soared, and the furnace roared -- such a blaze you seldom see; And I burrowed a hole in the glowing coal, and I stuffed in Sam McGee.
Then I made a hike, for I didn't like to hear him sizzle so; And the heavens scowled, and the huskies howled, and the wind began to blow.
It was icy cold, but the hot sweat rolled down my cheeks, and I don't know why; And the greasy smoke in an inky cloak went streaking down the sky.
I do not know how long in the snow I wrestled with grisly fear; But the stars came out and they danced about ere again I ventured near; I was sick with dread, but I bravely said: "I'll just take a peep inside.
I guess he's cooked, and it's time I looked"; .
.
.
then the door I opened wide.
And there sat Sam, looking cool and calm, in the heart of the furnace roar; And he wore a smile you could see a mile, and he said: "Please close that door.
It's fine in here, but I greatly fear you'll let in the cold and storm -- Since I left Plumtree, down in Tennessee, it's the first time I've been warm.
" There are strange things done in the midnight sun By the men who moil for gold; The Arctic trails have their secret tales That would make your blood run cold; The Northern Lights have seen ***** sights, But the queerest they ever did see Was that night on the marge of Lake Lebarge I cremated Sam McGee.
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