Anne Sexton |
(from a song)
Perhaps I was born kneeling,
born coughing on the long winter,
born expecting the kiss of mercy,
born with a passion for quickness
and yet, as things progressed,
I learned early about the stockade
or taken out, the fume of the enema.
By two or three I learned not to kneel,
not to expect, to plant my fires underground
where none but the dolls, perfect and awful,
could be whispered to or laid down to die.
Now that I have written many words,
and let out so many loves, for so many,
and been altogether what I always was—
a woman of excess, of zeal and greed,
I find the effort useless.
Do I not look in the mirror,
and see a drunken rat avert her eyes?
Do I not feel the hunger so acutely
that I would rather die than look
into its face?
I kneel once more,
in case mercy should come
in the nick of time.
Walt Whitman |
AN old man bending, I come, among new faces,
Years looking backward, resuming, in answer to children,
Come tell us, old man, as from young men and maidens that love me;
Years hence of these scenes, of these furious passions, these chances,
Of unsurpass’d heroes, (was one side so brave? the other was equally brave;)
Now be witness again—paint the mightiest armies of earth;
Of those armies so rapid, so wondrous, what saw you to tell us?
What stays with you latest and deepest? of curious panics,
Of hard-fought engagements, or sieges tremendous, what deepest remains?
O maidens and young men I love, and that love me,
What you ask of my days, those the strangest and sudden your talking recalls;
Soldier alert I arrive, after a long march, cover’d with sweat and dust;
In the nick of time I come, plunge in the fight, loudly shout in the rush of successful
Enter the captur’d works.
yet lo! like a swift-running river, they fade;
Pass and are gone, they fade—I dwell not on soldiers’ perils or soldiers’
(Both I remember well—many the hardships, few the joys, yet I was content.
But in silence, in dreams’ projections,
While the world of gain and appearance and mirth goes on,
So soon what is over forgotten, and waves wash the imprints off the sand,
In nature’s reverie sad, with hinged knees returning, I enter the doors—(while
Whoever you are, follow me without noise, and be of strong heart.
Bearing the bandages, water and sponge,
Straight and swift to my wounded I go,
Where they lie on the ground, after the battle brought in;
Where their priceless blood reddens the grass, the ground;
Or to the rows of the hospital tent, or under the roof’d hospital;
To the long rows of cots, up and down, each side, I return;
To each and all, one after another, I draw near—not one do I miss;
An attendant follows, holding a tray—he carries a refuse pail,
Soon to be fill’d with clotted rags and blood, emptied and fill’d again.
I onward go, I stop,
With hinged knees and steady hand, to dress wounds;
I am firm with each—the pangs are sharp, yet unavoidable;
One turns to me his appealing eyes—(poor boy! I never knew you,
Yet I think I could not refuse this moment to die for you, if that would save you.
On, on I go!—(open doors of time! open hospital doors!)
The crush’d head I dress, (poor crazed hand, tear not the bandage away;)
The neck of the cavalry-man, with the bullet through and through, I examine;
Hard the breathing rattles, quite glazed already the eye, yet life struggles hard;
(Come, sweet death! be persuaded, O beautiful death!
In mercy come quickly.
From the stump of the arm, the amputated hand,
I undo the clotted lint, remove the slough, wash off the matter and blood;
Back on his pillow the soldier bends, with curv’d neck, and side-falling head;
His eyes are closed, his face is pale, (he dares not look on the bloody stump,
And has not yet look’d on it.
I dress a wound in the side, deep, deep;
But a day or two more—for see, the frame all wasted already, and sinking,
And the yellow-blue countenance see.
I dress the perforated shoulder, the foot with the bullet wound,
Cleanse the one with a gnawing and putrid gangrene, so sickening, so offensive,
While the attendant stands behind aside me, holding the tray and pail.
I am faithful, I do not give out;
The fractur’d thigh, the knee, the wound in the abdomen,
These and more I dress with impassive hand—(yet deep in my breast a fire, a burning
Thus in silence, in dreams’ projections,
Returning, resuming, I thread my way through the hospitals;
The hurt and wounded I pacify with soothing hand,
I sit by the restless all the dark night—some are so young;
Some suffer so much—I recall the experience sweet and sad;
(Many a soldier’s loving arms about this neck have cross’d and rested,
Many a soldier’s kiss dwells on these bearded lips.
William Topaz McGonagall |
Good people of high and low degree,
I pray ye all to list to me,
And I'll relate a harrowing tale of the sea
Concerning the burning of the ship "Kent" in the Bay of Biscay,
Which is the most appalling tale of the present century.
She carried a crew, including officers, of 148 men,
And twenty lady passengers along with them;
Besides 344 men of the 31st Regiment,
And twenty officers with them, all seemingly content.
Also fhe soldiers' wives, which numbered forty-three,
And sixty-six children, a most beautiful sight to see;
And in the year of 1825, and on the 19th of February,
The ship "Kent" sailed from the Downs right speedily,
While the passengers' hearts felt light with glee.
And the beautiful ship proceeded on her way to Bengal,
While the passengers were cheerful one and all;
And the sun shone out in brilliant array,
And on the evening of the 28th they entered the Bay of Biscay.
But a gale from the south-west sprang up that night,
Which filled the passengers' hearts with fright;
And it continued to increase in violence as the night wore on,
Whilst the lady passengers looked very woe-begone.
Part of the cargo in the hold consisted of shot and shell,
And the vessel rolled heavily as the big billows rose and fell;
Then two sailors descended the forehold carrying a light,
To see if all below was safe and right.
And they discovered a spirit cask and the contents oozing rapidly,
And the man with the light stooped to examine it immediately;
And in doing so he dropped fhe lamp while in a state of amaze,
And, oh horror! in a minute the forehold was in a blaze.
It was two o'clock in the morning when the accident took place,
And, alas! horror and fear was depicted in each face;
And the sailors tried hard to extinguish the flame,
But, oh Heaven! all their exertions proved in vain.
The inflammable matter rendered their efforts of no avail,
And the brave sailors with over-exertion looked very pale;
And for hours in the darkness they tried to check the fire,
But the flames still mounted higher and higher.
But Captain Cobb resolved on a last desperate experiment,
Because he saw the ship was doomed, and he felt discontent;
Then he raised the alarm that the ship was on fire,
Then the paesengers quickly from their beds did retire.
And women and children rushed to the deck in wild despair,
And, paralyeed with terror, many women tore theu hair;
And some prayed to God for help, and wildly did screech,
But, alas! poor souls, help was not within their reach.
Still the gale blew hard, and the waves ran mountains high,
While men, women, and children bitterly did cry
To God to save them from the merciless fire;
But the flames rose higher and higher.
And when the passengers had lost all hope, and in great dismay,
The look-out man shouted, "Ho! a sail coming this way";
Then every heart felt light and gay,
And signals of distress were hoisted without delay.
Then the vessel came to their rescue, commanded by Captain Cook,
And he gazed upon the burning ship with a pitiful look;
She proved to be the brig "Cambria," bound for Vera Cruz,
Then the captain cried, "Men, save all ye can, there's no time to lose.
Then the sailors of the "Cambria" wrought with might and main,
While the sea spray fell on them like heavy rain;
First the women and children were transferred from the "Kent"
By boats, ropes, and tackle without a single accident.
But, alas! the fire had reached the powder magszine,
Then followed an explosion, oh! what a fesrful scene;
But the exploslon was witnessed by Captain Babby of the ship "Carline,"
Who most fortunately arrived in the nick of time.
And fourteen additional human beings were saved from the "Kent,"
And they thanked Captain Babby and God, who to them succour sent,
And had saved them from being burnt, and drowned in the briny deep;
And they felt so overjoyed that some of them did weep;
And in the first port in England they landed without delay,
And when their feet touched English soil their hearts felt gay.