Thomas Campbell |
Hark ! from the battlements of yonder tower
The solemn bell has tolled the midnight hour !
Roused from drear visions of distempered sleep,
Poor Broderick wakes—in solitude to weep !
"Cease, Memory; cease (the friendless mourner cried)
To probe the bosom too severely tried !
Oh ! ever cease, my pensive thoughts, to stray
Through tie bright fields of Fortune's better day,
When youthful Hope, the music of the mind,
Tuned all its charms, and Errington was kind !
Yet, can I cease, while glows this trembling frame,
In sighs to speak thy melancholy name !
I hear thy spirit wail in every storm !
In midniglit shades I view thy passing form !
Pale as in that sad hour when doomed to feel !
Deep in thy perjured heart, the bloody steel !
Demons of Vengeance ! ye, at whose command
I grasped the sword with more than woman's hand
Say ye, did Pity's trembling voice control,
Or horror damp the purpose of my soul ?
No ! my wild heart sat smiling o'er the plan,
'Till Hate fulfilled what baffled love began !
Yes ; let the clay-cold breast that never knew
One tender pang to generous nature true,
Half-mingling pity with the gall of scorn,
Condemn this heart, that bled in love forlorn !
And ye, proud fair, whose soul no gladness warms,
Save Rapture's homage to your conscious charms !
Delighted idols of a gaudy train,
Ill can your blunter feelings guess the pain,
When the fond, faithful heart, inspired to prove
Friendship refined, the calm delight of Love,
Feels all its tender strings with anguish torn,
And bleeds at perjured Pride's inhuman scorn.
Say, then, did pitying Heaven condemn the deed,
When Vengeance bade thee, faithless lover! bleed ?
Long had I watched thy dark foreboding brow,
What time thy bosom scorned its dearest vow !
Sad, though I wept the friend, the lover changed,
Still thy cold look was scornful and estranged,
Till from thy pity, love, and shelter thrown,
I wandered hopeless, friendless, and alone !
Oh ! righteous Heaven ! 't was then my tortured soul
First gave to wrath unlimited control !
Adieu the silent look ! the streaming eye !
The murmured plaint ! the deep heart-heaving sigh !
Long-slumbering Vengeance wakes to better deeds ;
He shrieks, he falls, the perjured lover bleeds !
Now the last laugh of agony is o'er,
And pale in blood he sleeps, to wake no more !
'T is done ! the flame of hate no longer burns :
Nature relents, but, ah! too late returns!
Why does my soul this gush of fondness feel ?
Trembling and faint, I drop the guilty steel !
Cold on my heart the hand of terror lies,
And shades of horror close my languid eyes !
Oh ! 't was a deed of Murder's deepest grain !
Could Broderick's soul so true to wrath remain ?
A friend long true, a once fond lover fell ?
Where Love was fostered could not Pity dwell ?
Unhappy youth ! while you pale cresscent glows
To watch on silent Nature's deep repose,
Thy sleepless spirit, breathing from the tomb ,
Foretells my fate, and summons me to come !
Once more I see thy sheeted spectre stand ,
Roll the dim eye, and wave the paly hand !
Soon may this fluttering spark of vital flame
Forsake its languid melancholy frame !
Soon may these eyes their trembling lustre close,
Welcome the dreamless night of long repose !
Soon may this woe-worn spirit seek the bourne
Where, lulled to slumber, Grief forgets to mourn !"
Walt Whitman |
OVER the western sea, hither from Niphon come,
Courteous, the swart-cheek’d two-sworded envoys,
Leaning back in their open barouches, bare-headed, impassive,
Ride to-day through Manhattan.
I do not know whether others behold what I behold,
In the procession, along with the nobles of Asia, the errand-bearers,
Bringing up the rear, hovering above, around, or in the ranks marching;
But I will sing you a song of what I behold, Libertad.
When million-footed Manhattan, unpent, descends to her pavements;
When the thunder-cracking guns arouse me with the proud roar I love;
When the round-mouth’d guns, out of the smoke and smell I love, spit their salutes;
When the fire-flashing guns have fully alerted me—when heaven-clouds canopy my city with a
delicate thin haze;
When, gorgeous, the countless straight stems, the forests at the wharves, thicken with
When every ship, richly drest, carries her flag at the peak;
When pennants trail, and street-festoons hang from the windows;
When Broadway is entirely given up to foot-passengers and foot-standers—when the mass is
When the faÃ§ades of the houses are alive with people—when eyes gaze, riveted, tens of
at a time;
When the guests from the islands advance—when the pageant moves forward, visible;
When the summons is made—when the answer that waited thousands of years, answers;
I too, arising, answering, descend to the pavements, merge with the crowd, and gaze with
Comrade Americanos!—to us, then, at last, the Orient comes.
To us, my city,
Where our tall-topt marble and iron beauties range on opposite sides—to walk in the space
To-day our Antipodes comes.
The Originatress comes,
The nest of languages, the bequeather of poems, the race of eld,
Florid with blood, pensive, rapt with musings, hot with passion,
Sultry with perfume, with ample and flowing garments,
With sunburnt visage, with intense soul and glittering eyes,
The race of Brahma comes!
See, my cantabile! these, and more, are flashing to us from the procession;
As it moves, changing, a kaleidoscope divine it moves, changing, before us.
For not the envoys, nor the tann’d Japanee from his island only;
Lithe and silent, the Hindoo appears—the Asiatic continent itself appears—the Past, the
The murky night morning of wonder and fable, inscrutable,
The envelop’d mysteries, the old and unknown hive-bees,
The North—the sweltering South—eastern Assyria—the Hebrews—the Ancient of Ancients,
Vast desolated cities—the gliding Present—all of these, and more, are in the
Geography, the world, is in it;
The Great Sea, the brood of islands, Polynesia, the coast beyond;
The coast you, henceforth, are facing—you Libertad! from your Western golden shores
The countries there, with their populations—the millions en-masse, are curiously here;
The swarming market places—the temples, with idols ranged along the sides, or at the
brahmin, and lama;
The mandarin, farmer, merchant, mechanic, and fisherman;
The singing-girl and the dancing-girl—the ecstatic person—the secluded Emperors,
Confucius himself—the great poets and heroes—the warriors, the castes, all,
Trooping up, crowding from all directions—from the Altay mountains,
From Thibet—from the four winding and far-flowing rivers of China,
From the Southern peninsulas, and the demi-continental islands—from Malaysia;
These, and whatever belongs to them, palpable, show forth to me, and are seiz’d by me,
And I am seiz’d by them, and friendlily held by them,
Till, as here, them all I chant, Libertad! for themselves and for you.
For I too, raising my voice, join the ranks of this pageant;
I am the chanter—I chant aloud over the pageant;
I chant the world on my Western Sea;
I chant, copious, the islands beyond, thick as stars in the sky;
I chant the new empire, grander than any before—As in a vision it comes to me;
I chant America, the Mistress—I chant a greater supremacy;
I chant, projected, a thousand blooming cities yet, in time, on those groups of
I chant my sail-ships and steam-ships threading the archipelagoes;
I chant my stars and stripes fluttering in the wind;
I chant commerce opening, the sleep of ages having done its work—races, reborn, refresh’d;
Lives, works, resumed—The object I know not—but the old, the Asiatic, renew’d, as it must
Commencing from this day, surrounded by the world.
And you, Libertad of the world!
You shall sit in the middle, well-pois’d, thousands of years;
As to-day, from one side, the nobles of Asia come to you;
As to-morrow, from the other side, the Queen of England sends her eldest son to you.
The sign is reversing, the orb is enclosed,
The ring is circled, the journey is done;
The box-lid is but perceptibly open’d—nevertheless the perfume pours copiously out of the
With the venerable Asia, the all-mother,
Be considerate with her, now and ever, hot Libertad—for you are all;
Bend your proud neck to the long-off mother, now sending messages over the archipelagoes
Bend your proud neck low for once, young Libertad.
Were the children straying westward so long? so wide the tramping?
Were the precedent dim ages debouching westward from Paradise so long?
Were the centuries steadily footing it that way, all the while unknown, for you, for
They are justified—they are accomplish’d—they shall now be turn’d the other way also, to
travel toward you thence;
They shall now also march obediently eastward, for your sake, Libertad.
Audre Lorde |
My face resembles your face
less and less each day.
When I was young
no one mistook whose child I was.
Features build coloring
alone among my creamy fine-boned sisters
marked me Byron's daughter.
No sun set when you died, but a door
opened onto my mother.
After you left
she grieved her crumpled world aloft
an iron fist sweated with business symbols
a printed blotter dwell in the house of Lord's
your hollow voice changing down a hospital corridor
yea, though I walk through the valley
of the shadow of death
I will fear no evil.
I rummage through the deaths you lived
swaying on a bridge of question.
At seven in Barbados
dropped into your unknown father's life
your courage vault from his tailor's table
back to the sea.
Did the Grenada treeferns sing
your 15th summer as you jumped ship
to seek your mother
finding her too late
surrounded with new sons?
Who did you bury to become the enforcer of the law
the handsome legend
before whose raised arm even trees wept
a man of deep and wordless passion
who wanted sons and got five girls?
You left the first two scratching in a treefern's shade
the youngest is a renegade poet
searching for your answer in my blood.
My mother's Grenville tales
spin through early summer evenings.
But you refused to speak of home
of stepping proud Black and penniless
into this land where only white men
ruled by money.
How you labored
in the docks of the Hotel Astor
your bright wife a chambermaid upstairs
welded love and survival to ambition
as the land of promise withered
crashed the hotel closed
and you peddle dawn-bought apples
from a push-cart on Broadway.
Does an image of return
wealthy and triumphant
warm your chilblained fingers
as you count coins in the Manhattan snow
or is it only Linda
who dreams of home?
When my mother's first-born cries for milk
in the brutal city winter
do the faces of your other daughters dim
like the image of the treeferned yard
where a dark girl first cooked for you
and her ash heap still smells of curry?
Did the secret of my sisters steal your tongue
like I stole money from your midnight pockets
stubborn and quaking
as you threaten to shoot me if I am the one?
The naked lightbulbs in our kitchen ceiling
glint off your service revolver
as you load whispering.
Did two little dark girls in Grenada
dart like flying fish
between your averted eyes
and my pajamaless body
our last adolescent summer?
to your shaving mirror
our most intense conversations
were you practicing how to tell me
of my twin sisters abandoned
as you had been abandoned
by another Black woman seeking
her fortune Grenada Barbados
New York City.
You bought old books at auctions
for my unlanguaged world
gave me your idols Marcus Garvey Citizen Kane
and morsels from your dinner plate
when I was seven.
I owe you my Dahomeyan jaw
the free high school for gifted girls
no one else thought I should attend
and the darkness that we share.
Our deepest bonds remain
the mirror and the gun.
An elderly Black judge
known for his way with women
visits this island where I live
shakes my hand, smiling.
"I knew your father," he says
"quite a man!" Smiles again.
I flinch at his raised eyebrow.
A long-gone woman's voice
lashes out at me in parting
"You will never be satisfied
until you have the whole world
in your bed!"
Now I am older than you were when you died
overwork and silence exploding your brain.
You are gradually receding from my face.
Who were you outside the 23rd Psalm?
Knowing so little
how did I become so much
Your hunger for rectitude
blossoms into rage
the hot tears of mourning
never shed for you before
your twisted measurements
the agony of denial
the power of unshared secrets.
Belinda Subraman |
I remember India:
palm trees, monkey families,
fresh lime juice in the streets,
the sensual inundation
of sights and smells
and excess in everything.
I was exotic and believable there.
I was walking through dirt
in my sari,
to temples of the deities
following the lead
of my Indian in-laws.
I was scooping up fire with my hands,
glancing at idols that held no meaning for me,
being marked by the ash.
They smiled at the Western woman,
acting religious, knowing
it was my way of showing respect.
It was an adventure for me
but an arm around their culture for them.
To me it was living a dream
I knew I could wake up from.
To them it was the willingness
to be Indian that pleased.
We were holding hands
across a cultural cosmos,
knowing there were no differences
hearts could not soothe.
They accepted me
as I accepted them,
baffled but in love
with our wedded mystery.
Nazim Hikmet |
I was born in 1902
I never once went back to my birthplace
I don't like to turn back
at three I served as a pasha's grandson in Aleppo
at nineteen as a student at Moscow Communist University
at forty-nine I was back in Moscow as the Tcheka Party's guest
and I've been a poet since I was fourteen
some people know all about plants some about fish
I know separation
some people know the names of the stars by heart
I recite absences
I've slept in prisons and in grand hotels
I've known hunger even a hunger strike and there's almost no food
I haven't tasted
at thirty they wanted to hang me
at forty-eight to give me the Peace Prize
which they did
at thirty-six I covered four square meters of concrete in half a year
at fifty-nine I flew from Prague to Havana in eighteen hours
I never saw Lenin I stood watch at his coffin in '24
in '61 the tomb I visit is his books
they tried to tear me away from my party
it didn't work
nor was I crushed under the falling idols
in '51 I sailed with a young friend into the teeth of death
in '52 I spent four months flat on my back with a broken heart
waiting to die
I was jealous of the women I loved
I didn't envy Charlie Chaplin one bit
I deceived my women
I never talked my friends' backs
I drank but not every day
I earned my bread money honestly what happiness
out of embarrassment for others I lied
I lied so as not to hurt someone else
but I also lied for no reason at all
I've ridden in trains planes and cars
most people don't get the chance
I went to opera
most people haven't even heard of the opera
and since '21 I haven't gone to the places most people visit
mosques churches temples synagogues sorcerers
but I've had my coffee grounds read
my writings are published in thirty or forty languages
in my Turkey in my Turkish they're banned
cancer hasn't caught up with me yet
and nothing says it will
I'll never be a prime minister or anything like that
and I wouldn't want such a life
nor did I go to war
or burrow in bomb shelters in the bottom of the night
and I never had to take to the road under diving planes
but I fell in love at almost sixty
in short comrades
even if today in Berlin I'm croaking of grief
I can say I've lived like a human being
and who knows
how much longer I'll live
what else will happen to me
This autobiography was written
in east Berlin on 11 September 1961
Charles Baudelaire |
When, by decree of the supreme power,
The Poet appears in this annoyed world,
His mother, blasphemous out of horror
At God's pity, cries out with fists curled:
"Ah! I'd rather You'd will me a snake's skin
Than to keep feeding this monstrous slur!
I curse that night's ephemera are sins
To make my womb atone for pleasure.
"Since You have chosen me from all the brides
To bear the disgust of my dolorous groom
And since I can't throw back into the fires
Like an old love letter this gaunt buffoon
"I'll replace Your hate that overwhelms me
On the instrument of Your wicked gloom
And torture so well this miserable tree
Its pestiferous buds will never bloom!"
She chokes down the eucharist of venom,
Not comprehending eternal designs,
She prepares a Gehenna of her own,
And consecrates a pyre of maternal crimes.
Yet, watched by an invisible seraph,
The disinherited child is drunk on the sun
And in all he devours and in all he quaffs
Receives ambrosia, nectar and honey.
He plays with the wind, chats with the vapors,
Deliriously sings the stations of the cross;
And the Spirit who follows him in his capers
Cries at his joy like a bird in the forest.
Those whom he longs to love look with disdain
And dread, strengthened by his tranquillity,
They seek to make him complain of his pain
So they may try out their ferocity.
In the bread and wine destined for his lips,
They mix in cinders and spit with their wrath,
And throw out all he touches as he grasps it,
And accuse him of putting his feet in their path.
His wife cries out so that everyone hears:
"Since he finds me good enough to adore
I'll weave as the idols of ancient years
A corona of gold as a cover.
"I'll get drunk on nard, incense and myrrh,
Get down on bent knee with meats and wines
To see if in a heart that admires,
My smile denies deference to the divine.
"And, when I tire of these impious farces,
I'll arrange for him my frail and hard nails
Sharpened just like the claws of a harpy
That out of his heart will carve a trail.
"Like a baby bird trembling in the nest
I'll dig out his heart all red from my breast
To slake the thirst of my favorite pet,
And will throw it on the ground with contempt!"
Toward the sky, where he sees a great host,
The poet, serene, lifts his pious arms high
And the vast lightning of his lucid ghost
Blinds him to the furious people nearby:
"Glory to God, who leaves us to suffer
To cure us of all our impurities
And like the best, most rarefied buffer
Prepares the strong for a saint's ecstasies!
"I know that You hold a place for the Poet
In the ranks of the blessed and the saint's legions,
That You invite him to an eternal fete
Of thrones, of virtues, of dominations.
"I know only sorrow is unequaled,
It cannot be encroached on from Hell or Earth
And if I am to braid my mystic wreath,
May I impose it on the universe.
"But the ancient jewels of lost Palmyra,
The unknown metals, pearls from the ocean
By Your hand mounted, they do not suffice,
They cannot dazzle as clearly as this crown
"For it will not be made except from halos
Drawn of pure light in a holy portal
Whose entire splendor, in the eyes of mortals
Is only a mirror, obscure and mournful.
Rudyard Kipling |
By the old Moulmein Pagoda, lookin' eastward to the sea,
There's a Burma girl a-settin', and I know she thinks o' me;
For the wind is in the palm-trees, and the temple-bells they say:
"Come you back, you British soldier; come you back to Mandalay!"
Come you back to Mandalay,
Where the old Flotilla lay:
Can't you 'ear their paddles chunkin' from Rangoon to Mandalay?
On the road to Mandalay,
Where the flyin'-fishes play,
An' the dawn comes up like thunder outer China 'crost the Bay!
'Er petticoat was yaller an' 'er little cap was green,
An' 'er name was Supi-yaw-lat -- jes' the same as Theebaw's Queen,
An' I seed her first a-smokin' of a whackin' white cheroot,
An' a-wastin' Christian kisses on an 'eathen idol's foot:
Bloomin' idol made o'mud --
Wot they called the Great Gawd Budd --
Plucky lot she cared for idols when I kissed 'er where she stud!
On the road to Mandalay .
When the mist was on the rice-fields an' the sun was droppin' slow,
She'd git 'er little banjo an' she'd sing "Kulla-lo-lo!"
With 'er arm upon my shoulder an' 'er cheek agin' my cheek
We useter watch the steamers an' the hathis pilin' teak.
Elephints a-pilin' teak
In the sludgy, squdgy creek,
Where the silence 'ung that 'eavy you was 'arf afraid to speak!
On the road to Mandalay .
But that's all shove be'ind me -- long ago an' fur away,
An' there ain't no 'busses runnin' from the Bank to Mandalay;
An' I'm learnin' 'ere in London what the ten-year soldier tells:
"If you've 'eard the East a-callin', you won't never 'eed naught else.
No! you won't 'eed nothin' else
But them spicy garlic smells,
An' the sunshine an' the palm-trees an' the tinkly temple-bells;
On the road to Mandalay .
I am sick o' wastin' leather on these gritty pavin'-stones,
An' the blasted Henglish drizzle wakes the fever in my bones;
Tho' I walks with fifty 'ousemaids outer Chelsea to the Strand,
An' they talks a lot o' lovin', but wot do they understand?
Beefy face an' grubby 'and --
Law! wot do they understand?
I've a neater, sweeter maiden in a cleaner, greener land!
On the road to Mandalay .
Ship me somewheres east of Suez, where the best is like the worst,
Where there aren't no Ten Commandments an' a man can raise a thirst;
For the temple-bells are callin', an' it's there that I would be --
By the old Moulmein Pagoda, looking lazy at the sea;
On the road to Mandalay,
Where the old Flotilla lay,
With our sick beneath the awnings when we went to Mandalay!
On the road to Mandalay,
Where the flyin'-fishes play,
An' the dawn comes up like thunder outer China 'crost the Bay!
Thomas Carew |
Can we not force from widow'd poetry,
Now thou art dead (great Donne) one elegy
To crown thy hearse? Why yet dare we not trust,
Though with unkneaded dough-bak'd prose, thy dust,
Such as th' unscissor'd churchman from the flower
Of fading rhetoric, short-liv'd as his hour,
Dry as the sand that measures it, should lay
Upon thy ashes, on the funeral day?
Have we no voice, no tune? Didst thou dispense
Through all our language, both the words and sense?
'Tis a sad truth.
The pulpit may her plain
And sober Christian precepts still retain,
Doctrines it may, and wholesome uses, frame,
Grave homilies and lectures, but the flame
Of thy brave soul (that shot such heat and light
As burnt our earth and made our darkness bright,
Committed holy rapes upon our will,
Did through the eye the melting heart distil,
And the deep knowledge of dark truths so teach
As sense might judge what fancy could not reach)
Must be desir'd forever.
So the fire
That fills with spirit and heat the Delphic quire,
Which, kindled first by thy Promethean breath,
Glow'd here a while, lies quench'd now in thy death.
The Muses' garden, with pedantic weeds
O'erspread, was purg'd by thee; the lazy seeds
Of servile imitation thrown away,
And fresh invention planted; thou didst pay
The debts of our penurious bankrupt age;
Licentious thefts, that make poetic rage
A mimic fury, when our souls must be
Possess'd, or with Anacreon's ecstasy,
Or Pindar's, not their own; the subtle cheat
Of sly exchanges, and the juggling feat
Of two-edg'd words, or whatsoever wrong
By ours was done the Greek or Latin tongue,
Thou hast redeem'd, and open'd us a mine
Of rich and pregnant fancy; drawn a line
Of masculine expression, which had good
Old Orpheus seen, or all the ancient brood
Our superstitious fools admire, and hold
Their lead more precious than thy burnish'd gold,
Thou hadst been their exchequer, and no more
They each in other's dust had rak'd for ore.
Thou shalt yield no precedence, but of time,
And the blind fate of language, whose tun'd chime
More charms the outward sense; yet thou mayst claim
From so great disadvantage greater fame,
Since to the awe of thy imperious wit
Our stubborn language bends, made only fit
With her tough thick-ribb'd hoops to gird about
Thy giant fancy, which had prov'd too stout
For their soft melting phrases.
As in time
They had the start, so did they cull the prime
Buds of invention many a hundred year,
And left the rifled fields, besides the fear
To touch their harvest; yet from those bare lands
Of what is purely thine, thy only hands,
(And that thy smallest work) have gleaned more
Than all those times and tongues could reap before.
But thou art gone, and thy strict laws will be
Too hard for libertines in poetry;
They will repeal the goodly exil'd train
Of gods and goddesses, which in thy just reign
Were banish'd nobler poems; now with these,
The silenc'd tales o' th' Metamorphoses
Shall stuff their lines, and swell the windy page,
Till verse, refin'd by thee, in this last age
Turn ballad rhyme, or those old idols be
Ador'd again, with new apostasy.
Oh, pardon me, that break with untun'd verse
The reverend silence that attends thy hearse,
Whose awful solemn murmurs were to thee,
More than these faint lines, a loud elegy,
That did proclaim in a dumb eloquence
The death of all the arts; whose influence,
Grown feeble, in these panting numbers lies,
Gasping short-winded accents, and so dies.
So doth the swiftly turning wheel not stand
In th' instant we withdraw the moving hand,
But some small time maintain a faint weak course,
By virtue of the first impulsive force;
And so, whilst I cast on thy funeral pile
Thy crown of bays, oh, let it crack awhile,
And spit disdain, till the devouring flashes
Suck all the moisture up, then turn to ashes.
I will not draw the envy to engross
All thy perfections, or weep all our loss;
Those are too numerous for an elegy,
And this too great to be express'd by me.
Though every pen should share a distinct part,
Yet art thou theme enough to tire all art;
Let others carve the rest, it shall suffice
I on thy tomb this epitaph incise:
Here lies a king, that rul'd as he thought fit
The universal monarchy of wit;
Here lie two flamens, and both those, the best,
Apollo's first, at last, the true God's priest.
Henry Lawson |
I am back from up the country -- very sorry that I went --
Seeking for the Southern poets' land whereon to pitch my tent;
I have lost a lot of idols, which were broken on the track --
Burnt a lot of fancy verses, and I'm glad that I am back.
Further out may be the pleasant scenes of which our poets boast,
But I think the country's rather more inviting round the coast --
Anyway, I'll stay at present at a boarding-house in town
Drinking beer and lemon-squashes, taking baths and cooling down.
Sunny plains! Great Scot! -- those burning wastes of barren soil and sand
With their everlasting fences stretching out across the land!
Desolation where the crow is! Desert! where the eagle flies,
Paddocks where the luny bullock starts and stares with reddened eyes;
Where, in clouds of dust enveloped, roasted bullock-drivers creep
Slowly past the sun-dried shepherd dragged behind his crawling sheep.
Stunted "peak" of granite gleaming, glaring! like a molten mass
Turned, from some infernal furnace, on a plain devoid of grass.
Miles and miles of thirsty gutters -- strings of muddy waterholes
In the place of "shining rivers" (walled by cliffs and forest boles).
"Range!" of ridgs, gullies, ridges, barren! where the madden'd flies --
Fiercer than the plagues of Egypt -- swarm about your blighted eyes!
Bush! where there is no horizon! where the buried bushman sees
Nothing! but the maddening sameness of the stunted trees!
Lonely hut where drought's eternal -- suffocating atmosphere --
Where the God forgottcn hatter dreams of city-life and beer.
Treacherous tracks that trap the stranger, endless roads that gleam and glare,
Dark and evil-looking gullies -- hiding secrets here and there!
Dull, dumb flats and stony "rises," where the bullocks sweat and bake,
And the sinister "gohanna," and the lizard, and the snake.
Land of day and night -- no morning freshness, and no afternoon,
For the great, white sun in rising brings with him the heat of noon.
Dismal country for the exile, when the shades begin to fall
From the sad, heart-breaking sunset, to the new-chum, worst of all.
Dreary land in rainy weather, with the endless clouds that drift
O'er the bushman like a blanket that the Lord will never lift --
Dismal land when it is raining -- growl of floods and oh! the "woosh"
Of the rain and wind together on the dark bed of the bush --
Ghastly fires in lonely humpies where the granite rocks are pil'd
On the rain-swept wildernesses that are wildest of the wild.
Land where gaunt and haggard women live alone and work like men,
Till their husbands, gone a-droving, will return to them again --
Homes of men! if homes had ever such a God-forgotten place,
Where the wild selector's children fly before a stranger's face.
Home of tragedy applauded by the dingoes' dismal yell,
Heaven of the shanty-keeper -- fitting fiend for such a hell --
And the wallaroos and wombats, and, of course, the "curlew's call" --
And the lone sundowner tramping ever onward thro' it all!
I am back from up the country -- up the country where I went
Seeking for the Southern poets' land whereon to pitch my tent;
I have left a lot of broken idols out along the track,
Burnt a lot of fancy verses -- and I'm glad that I am back --
I believe the Southern poet's dream will not be realised
Till the plains are irrigated and the land is humanised.
I intend to stay at present -- as I said before -- in town
Drinking beer and lemon-squashes -- taking baths and cooling down.
Sylvia Plath |
Perfection is terrible, it cannot have children.
Cold as snow breath, it tamps the womb
Where the yew trees blow like hydras,
The tree of life and the tree of life
Unloosing their moons, month after month, to no purpose.
The blood flood is the flood of love,
The absolute sacrifice.
It means: no more idols but me,
Me and you.
So, in their sulfur loveliness, in their smiles
These mannequins lean tonight
In Munich, morgue between Paris and Rome,
Naked and bald in their furs,
Orange lollies on silver sticks,
Intolerable, without mind.
The snow drops its pieces of darkness,
In the hotels
Hands will be opening doors and setting
Down shoes for a polish of carbon
Into which broad toes will go tomorrow.
O the domesticity of these windows,
The baby lace, the green-leaved confectionery,
The thick Germans slumbering in their bottomless Stolz.
And the black phones on hooks
Glittering and digesting
The snow has no voice.
28 January 1963