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Best Famous Live And Learn Poems

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Written by Robert Browning | Create an image from this poem

A Lovers Quarrel

 I.
Oh, what a dawn of day! How the March sun feels like May! All is blue again After last night's rain, And the South dries the hawthorn-spray.
Only, my Love's away! I'd as lief that the blue were grey, II.
Runnels, which rillets swell, Must be dancing down the dell, With a foaming head On the beryl bed Paven smooth as a hermit's cell; Each with a tale to tell, Could my Love but attend as well.
III.
Dearest, three months ago! When we lived blocked-up with snow,--- When the wind would edge In and in his wedge, In, as far as the point could go--- Not to our ingle, though, Where we loved each the other so! IV.
Laughs with so little cause! We devised games out of straws.
We would try and trace One another's face In the ash, as an artist draws; Free on each other's flaws, How we chattered like two church daws! V.
What's in the `Times''?---a scold At the Emperor deep and cold; He has taken a bride To his gruesome side, That's as fair as himself is bold: There they sit ermine-stoled, And she powders her hair with gold.
VI.
Fancy the Pampas' sheen! Miles and miles of gold and green Where the sunflowers blow In a solid glow, And---to break now and then the screen--- Black neck and eyeballs keen, Up a wild horse leaps between! VII.
Try, will our table turn? Lay your hands there light, and yearn Till the yearning slips Thro' the finger-tips In a fire which a few discern, And a very few feel burn, And the rest, they may live and learn! VIII.
Then we would up and pace, For a change, about the place, Each with arm o'er neck: 'Tis our quarter-deck, We are seamen in woeful case.
Help in the ocean-space! Or, if no help, we'll embrace.
IX.
See, how she looks now, dressed In a sledging-cap and vest! 'Tis a huge fur cloak--- Like a reindeer's yoke Falls the lappet along the breast: Sleeves for her arms to rest, Or to hang, as my Love likes best.
X.
Teach me to flirt a fan As the Spanish ladies can, Or I tint your lip With a burnt stick's tip And you turn into such a man! Just the two spots that span Half the bill of the young male swan.
XI.
Dearest, three months ago When the mesmerizer Snow With his hand's first sweep Put the earth to sleep: 'Twas a time when the heart could show All---how was earth to know, 'Neath the mute hand's to-and-fro? XII.
Dearest, three months ago When we loved each other so, Lived and loved the same Till an evening came When a shaft from the devil's bow Pierced to our ingle-glow, And the friends were friend and foe! XIII.
Not from the heart beneath--- 'Twas a bubble born of breath, Neither sneer nor vaunt, Nor reproach nor taunt.
See a word, how it severeth! Oh, power of life and death In the tongue, as the Preacher saith! XIV.
Woman, and will you cast For a word, quite off at last Me, your own, your You,--- Since, as truth is true, I was You all the happy past--- Me do you leave aghast With the memories We amassed? XV.
Love, if you knew the light That your soul casts in my sight, How I look to you For the pure and true And the beauteous and the right,--- Bear with a moment's spite When a mere mote threats the white! XVI.
What of a hasty word? Is the fleshly heart not stirred By a worm's pin-prick Where its roots are quick? See the eye, by a fly's foot blurred--- Ear, when a straw is heard Scratch the brain's coat of curd! XVII.
Foul be the world or fair More or less, how can I care? 'Tis the world the same For my praise or blame, And endurance is easy there.
Wrong in the one thing rare--- Oh, it is hard to bear! XVIII.
Here's the spring back or close, When the almond-blossom blows: We shall have the word In a minor third There is none but the cuckoo knows: Heaps of the guelder-rose! I must bear with it, I suppose.
XIX.
Could but November come, Were the noisy birds struck dumb At the warning slash Of his driver's-lash--- I would laugh like the valiant Thumb Facing the castle glum And the giant's fee-faw-fum! XX.
Then, were the world well stripped Of the gear wherein equipped We can stand apart, Heart dispense with heart In the sun, with the flowers unnipped,--- Oh, the world's hangings ripped, We were both in a bare-walled crypt! XXI.
Each in the crypt would cry ``But one freezes here! and why? ``When a heart, as chill, ``At my own would thrill ``Back to life, and its fires out-fly? ``Heart, shall we live or die? ``The rest.
.
.
.
settle by-and-by!'' XXII.
So, she'd efface the score, And forgive me as before.
It is twelve o'clock: I shall hear her knock In the worst of a storm's uproar, I shall pull her through the door, I shall have her for evermore!


Written by Robert Browning | Create an image from this poem

Rabbi Ben Ezra

 Grow old along with me!
The best is yet to be,
The last of life, for which the first was made:
Our times are in His hand
Who saith 'A whole I planned,
Youth shows but half; trust God: see all, nor be afraid!'

Not that, amassing flowers,
Youth sighed 'Which rose make ours,
Which lily leave and then as best recall?'
Not that, admiring stars,
It yearned 'Nor Jove, nor Mars;
Mine be some figured flame which blends, transcends them all!'

Not for such hopes and fears
Annulling youth's brief years,
Do I remonstrate: folly wide the mark!
Rather I prize the doubt
Low kinds exist without,
Finished and finite clods, untroubled by a spark.
Poor vaunt of life indeed, Were man but formed to feed On joy, to solely seek and find and feast: Such feasting ended, then As sure an end to men; Irks care the crop-full bird? Frets doubt the maw-crammed beast? Rejoice we are allied To That which doth provide And not partake, effect and not receive! A spark disturbs our clod; Nearer we hold of God Who gives, than of His tribes that take, I must believe.
Then, welcome each rebuff That turns earth's smoothness rough, Each sting that bids nor sit nor stand but go! Be our joys three-parts pain! Strive, and hold cheap the strain; Learn, nor account the pang; dare, never grudge the throe! For thence,--a paradox Which comforts while it mocks,-- Shall life succeed in that it seems to fail: What I aspired to be, And was not, comforts me: A brute I might have been, but would not sink i' the scale.
What is he but a brute Whose flesh has soul to suit, Whose spirit works lest arms and legs want play? To man, propose this test-- Thy body at its best, How far can that project thy soul on its lone way? Yet gifts should prove their use: I own the Past profuse Of power each side, perfection every turn: Eyes, ears took in their dole, Brain treasured up the whole; Should not the heart beat once 'How good to live and learn?' Not once beat 'Praise be Thine! I see the whole design, I, who saw power, see now love perfect too: Perfect I call Thy plan: Thanks that I was a man! Maker, remake, complete,--I trust what Thou shalt do!' For pleasant is this flesh; Our soul, in its rose-mesh Pulled ever to the earth, still yearns for rest; Would we some prize might hold To match those manifold Possessions of the brute,--gain most, as we did best! Let us not always say, 'Spite of this flesh to-day I strove, made head, gained ground upon the whole!' As the bird wings and sings, Let us cry 'All good things Are ours, nor soul helps flesh more, now, than flesh helps soul!' Therefore I summon age To grant youth's heritage, Life's struggle having so far reached its term: Thence shall I pass, approved A man, for aye removed From the developed brute; a god though in the germ.
And I shall thereupon Take rest, ere I be gone Once more on my adventure brave and new: Fearless and unperplexed, When I wage battle next, What weapons to select, what armour to indue.
Youth ended, I shall try My gain or loss thereby; Leave the fire ashes, what survives is gold: And I shall weigh the same, Give life its praise or blame: Young, all lay in dispute; I shall know, being old.
For note, when evening shuts, A certain moment cuts The deed off, calls the glory from the grey: A whisper from the west Shoots--'Add this to the rest, Take it and try its worth: here dies another day.
' So, still within this life, Though lifted o'er its strife, Let me discern, compare, pronounce at last, This rage was right i' the main, That acquiescence vain: The Future I may face now I have proved the Past.
' For more is not reserved To man, with soul just nerved To act to-morrow what he learns to-day: Here, work enough to watch The Master work, and catch Hints of the proper craft, tricks of the tool's true play.
As it was better, youth Should strive, through acts uncouth, Toward making, than repose on aught found made: So, better, age, exempt From strife, should know, than tempt Further.
Thou waitedst age: wait death nor be afraid! Enough now, if the Right And Good and Infinite Be named here, as thou callest thy hand thine own With knowledge absolute, Subject to no dispute From fools that crowded youth, nor let thee feel alone.
Be there, for once and all, Severed great minds from small, Announced to each his station in the Past! Was I, the world arraigned, Were they, my soul disdained, Right? Let age speak the truth and give us peace at last! Now, who shall arbitrate? Ten men love what I hate, Shun what I follow, slight what I receive; Ten, who in ears and eyes Match me: we all surmise, They this thing, and I that: whom shall my soul believe? Not on the vulgar mass Called 'work,' must sentence pass, Things done, that took the eye and had the price; O'er which, from level stand, The low world laid its hand, Found straightway to its mind, could value in a trice: But all, the world's coarse thumb And finger failed to plumb, So passed in making up the main account; All instincts immature, All purposes unsure, That weighed not as his work, yet swelled the man's amount: Thoughts hardly to be packed Into a narrow act, Fancies that broke through language and escaped; All I could never be, All, men ignored in me, This, I was worth to God, whose wheel the pitcher shaped.
Ay, note that Potter's wheel, That metaphor! and feel Why time spins fast, why passive lies our clay,-- Thou, to whom fools propound, When the wine makes its round, 'Since life fleets, all is change; the Past gone, seize to-day!' Fool! All that is, at all, Lasts ever, past recall; Earth changes, but thy soul and God stand sure: What entered into thee, That was, is, and shall be: Time's wheel runs back or stops: Potter and clay endure.
He fixed thee mid this dance Of plastic circumstance, This Present, thou, forsooth, wouldst fain arrest: Machinery just meant To give thy soul its bent, Try thee and turn thee forth, sufficiently impressed.
What though the earlier grooves, Which ran the laughing loves Around thy base, no longer pause and press? What though, about thy rim, Skull-things in order grim Grow out, in graver mood, obey the sterner stress? Look not thou down but up! To uses of a cup, The festal board, lamp's flash and trumpet's peal, The new wine's foaming flow, The Master's lips a-glow! Thou, heaven's consummate cup, what need'st thou with earth's wheel? But I need, now as then, Thee, God, who mouldest men; And since, not even while the whirl was worst, Did I,--to the wheel of life With shapes and colours rife, Bound dizzily,--mistake my end, to slake Thy thirst: So, take and use Thy work: Amend what flaws may lurk, What strain o' the stuff, what warpings past the aim! My times be in Thy hand! Perfect the cup as planned! Let age approve of youth, and death complete the same!
Written by Ralph Waldo Emerson | Create an image from this poem

Alphonso Of Castile

 I Alphonso live and learn,
Seeing nature go astern.
Things deteriorate in kind, Lemons run to leaves and rind, Meagre crop of figs and limes, Shorter days and harder times.
Flowering April cools and dies In the insufficient skies; Imps at high Midsummer blot Half the sun's disk with a spot; 'Twill not now avail to tan Orange cheek, or skin of man: Roses bleach, the goats are dry, Lisbon quakes, the people cry.
Yon pale scrawny fisher fools, Gaunt as bitterns in the pools, Are no brothers of my blood,— They discredit Adamhood.
Eyes of gods! ye must have seen, O'er your ramparts as ye lean, The general debility, Of genius the sterility, Mighty projects countermanded, Rash ambition broken-handed, Puny man and scentless rose Tormenting Pan to double the dose.
Rebuild or ruin: either fill Of vital force the wasted rill, Or, tumble all again in heap To weltering chaos, and to sleep.
Say, Seigneurs, are the old Niles dry, Which fed the veins of earth and sky, That mortals miss the loyal heats Which drove them erst to social feats, Now to a savage selfness grown, Think nature barely serves for one; With.
science poorly mask their hurt, And vex the gods with question pert, Immensely curious whether you Still are rulers, or Mildew.
Masters, I'm in pain with you; Masters, I'll be plain with you.
In my palace of Castile, I, a king, for kings can feel; There my thoughts the matter roll, And solve and oft resolve the whole, And, for I'm styled Alphonse the Wise, Ye shall not fail for sound advice, Before ye want a drop of rain, Hear the sentiment of Spain.
You have tried famine: no more try it; Ply us now with a full diet; Teach your pupils now with plenty, For one sun supply us twenty: I have thought it thoroughly over, State of hermit, state of lover; We must have society, We cannot spare variety.
Hear you, then, celestial fellows! Fits not to be over zealous; Steads not to work on the clean jump, Nor wine nor brains perpetual pump; Men and gods are too extense,— Could you slacken and condense? Your rank overgrowths reduce, Till your kinds abound with juice; Earth crowded cries, "Too many men,"— My counsel is, Kill nine in ten, And bestow the shares of all On the remnant decimal.
Add their nine lives to this cat; Stuff their nine brains in his hat; Make his frame and forces square With the labors he must dare; Thatch his flesh, and even his years With the marble which he rears; There growing slowly old at ease, No faster than his planted trees, He may, by warrant of his age, In schemes of broader scope engage: So shall ye have a man of the sphere, Fit to grace the solar year.
Written by Edwin Muir | Create an image from this poem

Circle and Square

 ‘I give you half of me; 
No more, lest I should make 
A ground for perjury.
For your sake, for my sake, Half will you take?’ ‘Half I’ll not take nor give, For he who gives gives all.
By halves you cannot live; Then let the barrier fall, In one circle have all.
’ “A wise and ancient scorner Said to me once: Beware The road that has no corner Where you can linger and stare.
Choose the square.
‘And let the circle run Its dull and fevered race.
You, my dear, are one; Show your soul in your face; Maintain your place.
‘Give, but have something to give.
No man can want you all.
Live, and learn to live.
When all the barriers fall You are nothing at all.