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Best Famous Memorial Poems

Here is a collection of the all-time best famous Memorial poems. This is a select list of the best famous Memorial poetry. Reading, writing, and enjoying famous Memorial poetry (as well as classical and contemporary poems) is a great past time. These top poems are the best examples of memorial poems.

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Written by Anna Akhmatova | Create an image from this poem

Requiem

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


Written by Frank Bidart | Create an image from this poem

California Plush

 The only thing I miss about Los Angeles

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

--pimps, surplus stores, footprints of the stars

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

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

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

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

Elegy Written In A Country Churchyard

 The curfew tolls the knell of parting day,
The lowing herd wind slowly o'er the lea,
The ploughman homeward plods his weary way,
And leaves the world to darkness and to me.
Now fades the glimmering landscape on the sight, And all the air a solemn stillness holds, Save where the beetle wheels his droning flight, And drowsy tinklings lull the distant folds; Save that from yonder ivy-mantled tower The moping owl does to the moon complain Of such as, wandering near her secret bower, Molest her ancient solitary reign.
Beneath those rugged elms, that yew-tree's shade, Where heaves the turf in many a mould'ring heap, Each in his narrow cell for ever laid, The rude forefathers of the hamlet sleep.
The breezy call of incense-breathing morn, The swallow twittering from the straw-built shed, The cock's shrill clarion, or the echoing horn, No more shall rouse them from their lowly bed.
For them no more the blazing hearth shall burn, Or busy housewife ply her evening-care; No children run to lisp their sire's return, Or climb his knees the envied kiss to share.
Oft did the harvest to their sickle yield, Their furrow oft the stubborn glebe has broke: How jocund did they drive their team afield! How bowed the woods beneath their sturdy stroke! Let not Ambition mock their useful toil, Their homely joys and destiny obscure; Nor Grandeur hear with a disdainful smile The short and simple annals of the poor.
The boast of heraldry, the pomp of pow'r, And all that beauty, all that wealth e'er gave, Awaits alike th' inevitable hour.
The paths of glory lead but to the grave.
Nor you, ye proud, impute to these the fault, If Memory o'er their tomb no trophies raise, Where through the long-drawn aisle, and fretted vault, The pealing anthem swells the note of praise.
Can storied urn, or animated bust, Back to its mansion call the fleeting breath? Can Honour's voice provoke the silent dust, Or Flattery soothe the dull cold ear of Death? Perhaps in this neglected spot is laid Some heart once pregnant with celestial fire; Hands, that the rod of empire might have swayed, Or waked to ecstasy the living lyre; But Knowledge to their eyes her ample page, Rich with the spoils of Time, did ne'er unroll; Chill Penury repressed their noble rage, And froze the genial current of the soul.
Full many a gem of purest ray serene The dark unfathomed caves of ocean bear; Full many a flower is born to blush unseen, And waste its sweetness on the desert air.
Some village-Hampden that with dauntless breast The little tyrant of his fields withstood, Some mute inglorious Milton here may rest, Some Cromwell, guiltless of his country's blood.
Th' applause of list'ning senates to command, The threats of pain and ruin to despise, To scatter plenty o'er a smiling land, And read their history in a nation's eyes, Their lot forbad: nor circumscribed alone Their growing virtues, but their crimes confined; Forbad to wade through slaughter to a throne, And shut the Gates of Mercy on mankind, The struggling pangs of conscious truth to hide, To quench the blushes of ingenuous shame, Or heap the shrine of Luxury and Pride With incense kindled at the Muse's flame.
Far from the madding crowd's ignoble strife Their sober wishes never learned to stray; Along the cool sequestered vale of life They kept the noiseless tenor of their way.
Yet ev'n these bones from insult to protect Some frail memorial still erected nigh, With uncouth rhymes and shapeless sculpture decked, Implores the passing tribute of a sigh.
Their name, their years, spelt by th' unlettered Muse, The place of fame and elegy supply: And many a holy text around she strews, That teach the rustic moralist to die.
For who, to dumb Forgetfulness a prey, This pleasing anxious being e'er resigned, Left the warm precincts of the cheerful day, Nor cast one longing ling'ring look behind? On some fond breast the parting soul relies, Some pious drops the closing eye requires; Ev'n from the tomb the voice of Nature cries, Ev'n in our ashes live their wonted fires.
For thee, who, mindful of th' unhonoured dead, Dost in these lines their artless tale relate; If chance, by lonely Contemplation led, Some kindred spirit shall enquire thy fate,— Haply some hoary-headed swain may say "Oft have we seen him at the peep of dawn Brushing with hasty steps the dews away To meet the sun upon the upland lawn; "There at the foot of yonder nodding beech, That wreathes its old fantastic roots so high, His listless length at noon-tide would he stretch, And pore upon the brook that babbles by.
"Hard by yon wood, now smiling as in scorn, Mutt'ring his wayward fancies would he rove; Now drooping, woeful-wan, like one forlorn, Or crazed with care, or crossed in hopeless love.
"One morn I missed him from the customed hill, Along the heath, and near his fav'rite tree; Another came; nor yet beside the rill, Nor up the lawn, nor at the wood was he: "The next, with dirges due in sad array Slow through the church-way path we saw him borne,— Approach and read, for thou can'st read, the lay Graved on the stone beneath yon aged thorn.
" THE EPITAPH Here rests his head upon the lap of earth A Youth, to Fortune and to Fame unknown: Fair Science frowned not on his humble birth, And Melancholy marked him for her own.
Large was his bounty, and his soul sincere, Heaven did a recompense as largely send: He gave to Misery (all he had) a tear, He gained from Heaven ('twas all he wished) a friend.
No farther seek his merits to disclose, Or draw his frailties from their dread abode, (There they alike in trembling hope repose,) The bosom of his Father and his God.
Written by Yehuda Amichai | Create an image from this poem

Memorial Day For The War Dead

 Memorial day for the war dead.
Add now the grief of all your losses to their grief, even of a woman that has left you.
Mix sorrow with sorrow, like time-saving history, which stacks holiday and sacrifice and mourning on one day for easy, convenient memory.
Oh, sweet world soaked, like bread, in sweet milk for the terrible toothless God.
"Behind all this some great happiness is hiding.
" No use to weep inside and to scream outside.
Behind all this perhaps some great happiness is hiding.
Memorial day.
Bitter salt is dressed up as a little girl with flowers.
The streets are cordoned off with ropes, for the marching together of the living and the dead.
Children with a grief not their own march slowly, like stepping over broken glass.
The flautist's mouth will stay like that for many days.
A dead soldier swims above little heads with the swimming movements of the dead, with the ancient error the dead have about the place of the living water.
A flag loses contact with reality and flies off.
A shopwindow is decorated with dresses of beautiful women, in blue and white.
And everything in three languages: Hebrew, Arabic, and Death.
A great and royal animal is dying all through the night under the jasmine tree with a constant stare at the world.
A man whose son died in the war walks in the street like a woman with a dead embryo in her womb.
"Behind all this some great happiness is hiding.
"
Written by Yehuda Amichai | Create an image from this poem

Tourists

 Visits of condolence is all we get from them.
They squat at the Holocaust Memorial, They put on grave faces at the Wailing Wall And they laugh behind heavy curtains In their hotels.
They have their pictures taken Together with our famous dead At Rachel's Tomb and Herzl's Tomb And on Ammunition Hill.
They weep over our sweet boys And lust after our tough girls And hang up their underwear To dry quickly In cool, blue bathrooms.
Once I sat on the steps by agate at David's Tower, I placed my two heavy baskets at my side.
A group of tourists was standing around their guide and I became their target marker.
"You see that man with the baskets? Just right of his head there's an arch from the Roman period.
Just right of his head.
" "But he's moving, he's moving!" I said to myself: redemption will come only if their guide tells them, "You see that arch from the Roman period? It's not important: but next to it, left and down a bit, there sits a man who's bought fruit and vegetables for his family.
"
Written by Paul Laurence Dunbar | Create an image from this poem

ODE FOR MEMORIAL DAY

Done are the toils and the wearisome marches,
Done is the summons of bugle and drum.
Softly and sweetly the sky over-arches,
Shelt'ring a land where Rebellion is dumb.
Dark were the days of the country's derangement,
Sad were the hours when the conflict was on,
But through the gloom of fraternal estrangement
God sent his light, and we welcome the dawn.
O'er the expanse of our mighty dominions,
Sweeping away to the uttermost parts,
Peace, the wide-flying, on untiring pinions,
Bringeth her message of joy to our hearts.
Ah, but this joy which our minds cannot measure,
What did it cost for our fathers to gain!
Bought at the price of the heart's dearest treasure,
[Pg 23]Born out of travail and sorrow and pain;
Born in the battle where fleet Death was flying,
Slaying with sabre-stroke bloody and fell;
Born where the heroes and martyrs were dying,
Torn by the fury of bullet and shell.
Ah, but the day is past: silent the rattle,
And the confusion that followed the fight.
Peace to the heroes who died in the battle,
Martyrs to truth and the crowning of Right!
Out of the blood of a conflict fraternal,
Out of the dust and the dimness of death,
Burst into blossoms of glory eternal
Flowers that sweeten the world with their breath.
Flowers of charity, peace, and devotion
Bloom in the hearts that are empty of strife;
Love that is boundless and broad as the ocean
Leaps into beauty and fulness of life.
So, with the singing of paeans and chorals,
And with the flag flashing high in the sun,
Place on the graves of our heroes the laurels
Which their unfaltering valor has won!
Written by Joyce Kilmer | Create an image from this poem

Memorial Day

 "Dulce et decorum est"

The bugle echoes shrill and sweet,
But not of war it sings to-day.
The road is rhythmic with the feet Of men-at-arms who come to pray.
The roses blossom white and red On tombs where weary soldiers lie; Flags wave above the honored dead And martial music cleaves the sky.
Above their wreath-strewn graves we kneel, They kept the faith and fought the fight.
Through flying lead and crimson steel They plunged for Freedom and the Right.
May we, their grateful children, learn Their strength, who lie beneath this sod, Who went through fire and death to earn At last the accolade of God.
In shining rank on rank arrayed They march, the legions of the Lord; He is their Captain unafraid, The Prince of Peace .
.
.
Who brought a sword.


Written by G K Chesterton | Create an image from this poem

The Shakespeare Memorial

 Lord Lilac thought it rather rotten 
That Shakespeare should be quite forgotten, 
And therefore got on a Committee 
With several chaps out of the City, 
And Shorter and Sir Herbert Tree, 
Lord Rothschild and Lord Rosebery, 
And F.
C.
G.
and Comyn Carr Two dukes and a dramatic star, Also a clergy man now dead; And while the vain world careless sped Unheeding the heroic name -- The souls most fed with Shakespeare's flame Still sat unconquered in a ring, Remembering him like anything.
Lord Lilac did not long remain, Lord Lilac did not some again.
He softly lit a cigarette And sought some other social set Where, in some other knots or rings, People were doing cultured things.
-- Miss Zwilt's Humane Vivarium -- The little men that paint on gum -- The exquisite Gorilla Girl .
.
.
He sometimes, in this giddy whirl (Not being really bad at heart), Remembered Shakespeare with a start -- But not with that grand constancy Of Clement Shorter, Herbert Tree, Lord Rosebery and Comyn Carr And all the other names there are; Who stuck like limpets to the spot, Lest they forgot, lest they forgot.
Lord Lilac was of slighter stuff; Lord Lilac had had quite enough.
Written by Algernon Charles Swinburne | Create an image from this poem

Ave atque Vale (In memory of Charles Baudelaire)

 SHALL I strew on thee rose or rue or laurel, 
 Brother, on this that was the veil of thee? 
 Or quiet sea-flower moulded by the sea, 
Or simplest growth of meadow-sweet or sorrel, 
 Such as the summer-sleepy Dryads weave, 
 Waked up by snow-soft sudden rains at eve? 
Or wilt thou rather, as on earth before, 
 Half-faded fiery blossoms, pale with heat 
 And full of bitter summer, but more sweet 
To thee than gleanings of a northern shore 
 Trod by no tropic feet? 

For always thee the fervid languid glories 
 Allured of heavier suns in mightier skies; 
 Thine ears knew all the wandering watery sighs 
Where the sea sobs round Lesbian promontories, 
 The barren kiss of piteous wave to wave 
 That knows not where is that Leucadian grave 
Which hides too deep the supreme head of song.
Ah, salt and sterile as her kisses were, The wild sea winds her and the green gulfs bear Hither and thither, and vex and work her wrong, Blind gods that cannot spare.
Thou sawest, in thine old singing season, brother, Secrets and sorrows unbeheld of us: Fierce loves, and lovely leaf-buds poisonous, Bare to thy subtler eye, but for none other Blowing by night in some unbreathed-in clime; The hidden harvest of luxurious time, Sin without shape, and pleasure without speech; And where strange dreams in a tumultuous sleep Make the shut eyes of stricken spirits weep; And with each face thou sawest the shadow on each, Seeing as men sow men reap.
O sleepless heart and sombre soul unsleeping, That were athirst for sleep and no more life And no more love, for peace and no more strife! Now the dim gods of death have in their keeping Spirit and body and all the springs of song, Is it well now where love can do no wrong, Where stingless pleasure has no foam or fang Behind the unopening closure of her lips? Is it not well where soul from body slips And flesh from bone divides without a pang As dew from flower-bell drips? It is enough; the end and the beginning Are one thing to thee, who art past the end.
O hand unclasp'd of unbeholden friend, For thee no fruits to pluck, no palms for winning, No triumph and no labour and no lust, Only dead yew-leaves and a little dust.
O quiet eyes wherein the light saith naught, Whereto the day is dumb, nor any night With obscure finger silences your sight, Nor in your speech the sudden soul speaks thought, Sleep, and have sleep for light.
Now all strange hours and all strange loves are over, Dreams and desires and sombre songs and sweet, Hast thou found place at the great knees and feet Of some pale Titan-woman like a lover, Such as thy vision here solicited, Under the shadow of her fair vast head, The deep division of prodigious breasts, The solemn slope of mighty limbs asleep, The weight of awful tresses that still keep The savour and shade of old-world pine-forests Where the wet hill-winds weep? Hast thou found any likeness for thy vision? O gardener of strange flowers, what bud, what bloom, Hast thou found sown, what gather'd in the gloom? What of despair, of rapture, of derision, What of life is there, what of ill or good? Are the fruits gray like dust or bright like blood? Does the dim ground grow any seed of ours, The faint fields quicken any terrene root, In low lands where the sun and moon are mute And all the stars keep silence? Are there flowers At all, or any fruit? Alas, but though my flying song flies after, O sweet strange elder singer, thy more fleet Singing, and footprints of thy fleeter feet, Some dim derision of mysterious laughter From the blind tongueless warders of the dead, Some gainless glimpse of Proserpine's veil'd head, Some little sound of unregarded tears Wept by effaced unprofitable eyes, And from pale mouths some cadence of dead sighs-- These only, these the hearkening spirit hears, Sees only such things rise.
Thou art far too far for wings of words to follow, Far too far off for thought or any prayer.
What ails us with thee, who art wind and air? What ails us gazing where all seen is hollow? Yet with some fancy, yet with some desire, Dreams pursue death as winds a flying fire, Our dreams pursue our dead and do not find.
Still, and more swift than they, the thin flame flies, The low light fails us in elusive skies, Still the foil'd earnest ear is deaf, and blind Are still the eluded eyes.
Not thee, O never thee, in all time's changes, Not thee, but this the sound of thy sad soul, The shadow of thy swift spirit, this shut scroll I lay my hand on, and not death estranges My spirit from communion of thy song-- These memories and these melodies that throng Veil'd porches of a Muse funereal-- These I salute, these touch, these clasp and fold As though a hand were in my hand to hold, Or through mine ears a mourning musical Of many mourners roll'd.
I among these, I also, in such station As when the pyre was charr'd, and piled the sods.
And offering to the dead made, and their gods, The old mourners had, standing to make libation, I stand, and to the Gods and to the dead Do reverence without prayer or praise, and shed Offering to these unknown, the gods of gloom, And what of honey and spice my seed-lands bear, And what I may of fruits in this chill'd air, And lay, Orestes-like, across the tomb A curl of sever'd hair.
But by no hand nor any treason stricken, Not like the low-lying head of Him, the King, The flame that made of Troy a ruinous thing, Thou liest and on this dust no tears could quicken.
There fall no tears like theirs that all men hear Fall tear by sweet imperishable tear Down the opening leaves of holy poets' pages.
Thee not Orestes, not Electra mourns; But bending us-ward with memorial urns The most high Muses that fulfil all ages Weep, and our God's heart yearns.
For, sparing of his sacred strength, not often Among us darkling here the lord of light Makes manifest his music and his might In hearts that open and in lips that soften With the soft flame and heat of songs that shine.
Thy lips indeed he touch'd with bitter wine, And nourish'd them indeed with bitter bread; Yet surely from his hand thy soul's food came, The fire that scarr'd thy spirit at his flame Was lighted, and thine hungering heart he fed Who feeds our hearts with fame.
Therefore he too now at thy soul's sunsetting, God of all suns and songs, he too bends down To mix his laurel with thy cypress crown, And save thy dust from blame and from forgetting.
Therefore he too, seeing all thou wert and art, Compassionate, with sad and sacred heart, Mourns thee of many his children the last dead, And hollows with strange tears and alien sighs Thine unmelodious mouth and sunless eyes, And over thine irrevocable head Sheds light from the under skies.
And one weeps with him in the ways Lethean, And stains with tears her changing bosom chill; That obscure Venus of the hollow hill, That thing transform'd which was the Cytherean, With lips that lost their Grecian laugh divine Long since, and face no more call'd Erycine-- A ghost, a bitter and luxurious god.
Thee also with fair flesh and singing spell Did she, a sad and second prey, compel Into the footless places once more trod, And shadows hot from hell.
And now no sacred staff shall break in blossom, No choral salutation lure to light A spirit sick with perfume and sweet night And love's tired eyes and hands and barren bosom.
There is no help for these things; none to mend, And none to mar; not all our songs, O friend, Will make death clear or make life durable.
Howbeit with rose and ivy and wild vine And with wild notes about this dust of thine At least I fill the place where white dreams dwell And wreathe an unseen shrine.
Sleep; and if life was bitter to thee, pardon, If sweet, give thanks; thou hast no more to live; And to give thanks is good, and to forgive.
Out of the mystic and the mournful garden Where all day through thine hands in barren braid Wove the sick flowers of secrecy and shade, Green buds of sorrow and sin, and remnants gray, Sweet-smelling, pale with poison, sanguine-hearted, Passions that sprang from sleep and thoughts that started, Shall death not bring us all as thee one day Among the days departed? For thee, O now a silent soul, my brother, Take at my hands this garland, and farewell.
Thin is the leaf, and chill the wintry smell, And chill the solemn earth, a fatal mother, With sadder than the Niobean womb, And in the hollow of her breasts a tomb.
Content thee, howsoe'er, whose days are done; There lies not any troublous thing before, Nor sight nor sound to war against thee more, For whom all winds are quiet as the sun, All waters as the shore.
Written by Henry David Thoreau | Create an image from this poem

Within the Circuit of This Plodding Life

 Within the circuit of this plodding life
There enter moments of an azure hue,
Untarnished fair as is the violet
Or anemone, when the spring strews them
By some meandering rivulet, which make
The best philosophy untrue that aims
But to console man for his grievances
I have remembered when the winter came,
High in my chamber in the frosty nights,
When in the still light of the cheerful moon,
On every twig and rail and jutting spout,
The icy spears were adding to their length
Against the arrows of the coming sun,
How in the shimmering noon of summer past
Some unrecorded beam slanted across
The upland pastures where the Johnswort grew;
Or heard, amid the verdure of my mind,
The bee's long smothered hum, on the blue flag
Loitering amidst the mead; or busy rill,
Which now through all its course stands still and dumb
Its own memorial,—purling at its play
Along the slopes, and through the meadows next,
Until its youthful sound was hushed at last
In the staid current of the lowland stream;
Or seen the furrows shine but late upturned,
And where the fieldfare followed in the rear, 
When all the fields around lay bound and hoar
Beneath a thick integument of snow.
So by God's cheap economy made rich To go upon my winter's task again.
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