Friedrich von Schiller |
Friend!--the Great Ruler, easily content,
Needs not the laws it has laborious been
The task of small professors to invent;
A single wheel impels the whole machine
Matter and spirit;--yea, that simple law,
Pervading nature, which our Newton saw.
This taught the spheres, slaves to one golden rein,
Their radiant labyrinths to weave around
Creation's mighty hearts: this made the chain,
Which into interwoven systems bound
All spirits streaming to the spiritual sun
As brooks that ever into ocean run!
Did not the same strong mainspring urge and guide
Our hearts to meet in love's eternal bond?
Linked to thine arm, O Raphael, by thy side
Might I aspire to reach to souls beyond
Our earth, and bid the bright ambition go
To that perfection which the angels know!
Happy, O happy--I have found thee--I
Have out of millions found thee, and embraced;
Thou, out of millions, mine!--Let earth and sky
Return to darkness, and the antique waste--
To chaos shocked, let warring atoms be,
Still shall each heart unto the other flee!
Do I not find within thy radiant eyes
Fairer reflections of all joys most fair?
In thee I marvel at myself--the dyes
Of lovely earth seem lovelier painted there,
And in the bright looks of the friend is given
A heavenlier mirror even of the heaven!
Sadness casts off its load, and gayly goes
From the intolerant storm to rest awhile,
In love's true heart, sure haven of repose;
Does not pain's veriest transports learn to smile
From that bright eloquence affection gave
To friendly looks?--there, finds not pain a grave?
In all creation did I stand alone,
Still to the rocks my dreams a soul should find,
Mine arms should wreathe themselves around the stone,
My griefs should feel a listener in the wind;
My joy--its echo in the caves should be!
Fool, if ye will--Fool, for sweet sympathy!
We are dead groups of matter when we hate;
But when we love we are as gods!--Unto
The gentle fetters yearning, through each state
And shade of being multiform, and through
All countless spirits (save of all the sire)--
Moves, breathes, and blends, the one divine desire.
Lo! arm in arm, through every upward grade,
From the rude mongrel to the starry Greek,
Who the fine link between the mortal made,
And heaven's last seraph--everywhere we seek
Union and bond--till in one sea sublime
Of love be merged all measure and all time!
Friendless ruled God His solitary sky;
He felt the want, and therefore souls were made,
The blessed mirrors of his bliss!--His eye
No equal in His loftiest works surveyed;
And from the source whence souls are quickened, He
Called His companion forth--ETERNITY!
Robert William Service |
Have you gazed on naked grandeur where there's nothing else to gaze on,
Set pieces and drop-curtain scenes galore,
Big mountains heaved to heaven, which the blinding sunsets blazon,
Black canyons where the rapids rip and roar?
Have you swept the visioned valley with the green stream streaking through it,
Searched the Vastness for a something you have lost?
Have you strung your soul to silence? Then for God's sake go and do it;
Hear the challenge, learn the lesson, pay the cost.
Have you wandered in the wilderness, the sagebrush desolation,
The bunch-grass levels where the cattle graze?
Have you whistled bits of rag-time at the end of all creation,
And learned to know the desert's little ways?
Have you camped upon the foothills, have you galloped o'er the ranges,
Have you roamed the arid sun-lands through and through?
Have you chummed up with the mesa? Do you know its moods and changes?
Then listen to the Wild -- it's calling you.
Have you known the Great White Silence, not a snow-gemmed twig aquiver?
(Eternal truths that shame our soothing lies.
Have you broken trail on snowshoes? mushed your huskies up the river,
Dared the unknown, led the way, and clutched the prize?
Have you marked the map's void spaces, mingled with the mongrel races,
Felt the savage strength of brute in every thew?
And though grim as hell the worst is, can you round it off with curses?
Then hearken to the Wild -- it's wanting you.
Have you suffered, starved and triumphed, groveled down, yet grasped at glory,
Grown bigger in the bigness of the whole?
"Done things" just for the doing, letting babblers tell the story,
Seeing through the nice veneer the naked soul?
Have you seen God in His splendors, heard the text that nature renders?
(You'll never hear it in the family pew.
The simple things, the true things, the silent men who do things --
Then listen to the Wild -- it's calling you.
They have cradled you in custom, they have primed you with their preaching,
They have soaked you in convention through and through;
They have put you in a showcase; you're a credit to their teaching --
But can't you hear the Wild? -- it's calling you.
Let us probe the silent places, let us seek what luck betide us;
Let us journey to a lonely land I know.
There's a whisper on the night-wind, there's a star agleam to guide us,
And the Wild is calling, calling .
let us go.
James Lee Jobe |
Charlie, sunrise is a three-legged mongrel dog,
going deaf, already blind in one eye,
answering to the unlikely name, 'Lucky.
The sky, at gray-blue dawn, is a football field painted
by smiling artists.
Each artist has 3 arms, 3 hands, 3 legs.
One leg drags behind, leaving a trail, leaving a mark.
The future resembles a cloudy dream
where the ghosts of all your life
try to tell you something, but what?
Noon is a plate of mashed potatoes and gravy.
Midnight is an ugly chipped plate
that you only use when you are alone.
Sunset is a wise cat who ignores you
even when you are offering food; her conception
of what life is, or isn't, far exceeds our own.
This moment is a desert at midnight,
the hunting moon is full, and owls
fly through a cloudless sky.
The past is a winding, green river valley
deep between pine covered ridges;
what can you make of that?
Night is a secret plant growing inky black against the sky.
When this plant's life is over, then day returns
like a drunken husband who stayed out until breakfast.
A smile is a quick glimpse at the pretty face of hope.
Hope's face is framed by the beautiful night sky.
Hope's face is framed by the gray-blue dawn.
This is your life, these seconds and years
are the music for your only dance.
This is the eternity that you get to know.
Robert William Service |
'Twas in the bleary middle of the hard-boiled Arctic night,
I was lonesome as a loon, so if you can,
Imagine my emotions of amazement and delight
When I bumped into that Missionary Man.
He was lying lost and dying in the moon's unholy leer,
And frozen from his toes to finger-tips'
The famished wolf-pack ringed him; but he didn't seem to fear,
As he pressed his ice-bond Bible to his lips.
'Twas the limit of my trap-line, with the cabin miles away,
And every step was like a stab of pain;
But I packed him like a baby, and I nursed him night and day,
Till I got him back to health and strength again.
So there we were, benighted in the shadow of the Pole,
And he might have proved a priceless little pard,
If he hadn't got to worrying about my blessed soul,
And a-quotin' me his Bible by the yard.
Now there was I, a husky guy, whose god was Nicotine,
With a "coffin-nail" a fixture in my mug;
I rolled them in the pages of a pulpwood magazine,
And hacked them with my jack-knife from the plug.
For, Oh to know the bliss and glow that good tobacco means,
Just live among the everlasting ice .
So judge my horror when I found my stock of magazines
Was chewed into a chowder by the mice.
A woeful week went by and not a single pill I had,
Me that would smoke my forty in a day;
I sighed, I swore, I strode the floor; I felt I would go mad:
The gospel-plugger watched me with dismay.
My brow was wet, my teeth were set, my nerves were rasping raw;
And yet that preacher couldn't understand:
So with despair I wrestled there - when suddenly I saw
The volume he was holding in his hand.
Then something snapped inside my brain, and with an evil start
The wolf-man in me woke to rabid rage.
"I saved your lousy life," says I; "so show you have a heart,
And tear me out a solitary page.
He shrank and shrivelled at my words; his face went pewter white;
'Twas just as if I'd handed him a blow:
And then .
and then he seemed to swell, and grow to Heaven's height,
And in a voice that rang he answered: "No!"
I grabbed my loaded rifle and I jabbed it to his chest:
"Come on, you shrimp, give me that Book," says I.
Well sir, he was a parson, but he stacked up with the best,
And for grit I got to hand it to the guy.
"If I should let you desecrate this Holy Word," he said,
"My soul would be eternally accurst;
So go on, Bill, I'm ready.
You can pump me full of lead
And take it, but - you've got to kill me first.
Now I'm no foul assassin, though I'm full of sinful ways,
And I knew right there the fellow had me beat;
For I felt a yellow mongrel in the glory of his gaze,
And I flung my foolish firearm at his feet,
Then wearily I turned away, and dropped upon my bunk,
And there I lay and blubbered like a kid.
"Forgive me, pard," says I at last, "for acting like a skunk,
But hide the blasted rifle.
" Which he did.
And he also hid his Bible, which was maybe just as well,
For the sight of all that paper gave me pain;
And there were crimson moments when I felt I'd o to hell
To have a single cigarette again.
And so I lay day after day, and brooded dark and deep,
Until one night I thought I'd end it all;
Then rough I roused the preacher, where he stretched pretending sleep,
With his map of horror turned towards the wall.
"See here, my pious pal," says I, "I've stood it long enough.
Behold! I've mixed some strychnine in a cup;
Enough to kill a dozen men - believe me it's no bluff;
Now watch me, for I'm gonna drink it up.
You've seen me bludgeoned by despair through bitter days and nights,
And now you'll see me squirming as I die.
You're not to blame, you've played the game according to your lights.
But how would Christ have played it? - Well, good-bye.
With that I raised the deadly drink and laid it to my lips,
But he was on me with a tiger-bound;
And as we locked and reeled and rocked with wild and wicked grips,
The poison cup went crashing to the ground.
"Don't do it, Bill," he madly shrieked.
"Maybe I acted wrong.
See, here's my Bible - use it as you will;
But promise me - you'll read a little as you go along.
You do! Then take it, Brother; smoke your fill.
And so I did.
I smoked and smoked from Genesis to Job,
And as I smoked I read each blessed word;
While in the shadow of his bunk I heard him sigh and sob,
And then .
a most peculiar thing occurred.
I got to reading more and more, and smoking less and less,
Till just about the day his heart was broke,
Says I: "Here, take it back, me lad.
I've had enough I guess.
Your paper makes a mighty rotten smoke.
So then and there with plea and prayer he wrestled for my soul,
And I was racked and ravaged by regrets.
But God was good, for lo! next day there came the police patrol,
With paper for a thousand cigarettes.
So now I'm called Salvation Bill; I teach the Living Law,
And Bally-hoo the Bible with the best;
And if a guy won't listen - why, I sock him on the jaw,
And preach the Gospel sitting on his chest.
Aleksandr Blok |
Our sons have gone
to serve the Reds
to serve the Reds
to risk their heads!
O bitter,bitter pain,
A torn overcoat
an Austrian gun!
-To get the bourgeosie
We'll start a fire
a worldwide fire, and drench it
The good Lord bless us!
-O you bitter bitterness,
This is how I will
spend my time.
This is how I will
scratch my head,
munch on seeds,
some sunflower seeds,
play with my knife
play with my knife.
You bourgeosie, fly as a sparrow!
I'll drink your blood,
your warm blood, for love,
for dark-eyed love.
God, let this soul, your servant,
rest in peace.
On they march with sovereign tread.
‘Who else goes there? Come out! I said
come out!’ It is the wind and the red
flag plunging gaily at their head.
The frozen snow-drift looms in front.
‘Who’s in the drift! Come out! Come here!’
There’s only the homeless mongrel runt
limping wretchedly in the rear .
‘You mangy beast, out of the way
before you taste my bayonet.
Old mongrel world, clear off I say!
I’ll have your hide to sole my boot!
The shivering cur, the mongrel cur
bares his teeth like a hungry wolf,
droops his tail, but does not stir .
‘Hey answer, you there, show yourself.
‘Who’s that waving the red flag?’
‘Try and see! It’s as dark as the tomb!’
‘Who’s that moving at a jog
trot, keeping to the back-street gloom?’
‘Don’t you worry ~ I’ll catch you yet;
better surrender to me alive!’
‘Come out, comrade, or you’ll regret
it ~ we’ll fire when I’ve counted five!’
Crack ~ crack ~ crack! But only the echo
answers from among the eaves .
The blizzard splits his seams, the snow
laughs wildly up the wirlwind’s sleeve .
Crack ~ crack ~ crack!
Crack ~ crack ~ crack!
So they march with sovereign tread .
Behind them limps the hungry dog,
and wrapped in wild snow at their head
carrying a blood-red flag ~
soft-footed where the blizzard swirls,
invulnerable where bullets crossed ~
crowned with a crown of snowflake pearls,
a flowery diadem of frost,
ahead of them goes Jesus Christ.
Philip Levine |
This has nothing to do with war
or the end of the world.
dreams there are gray starlings
on the winter lawn and the buds
of next year's oranges alongside
this year's oranges, and the sun
is still up, a watery circle
of fire settling into the sky
at dinner time, but there's no
flame racing through the house
or threatening the bed.
wakens the phone is ringing
in a distant room, but she
doesn't go to answer it.
one is home with her, and the cars
passing before the house hiss
in the rain.
"My children!" she
almost says, but there are no
longer children at home, there
are no longer those who would
turn to her, their faces running
with tears, and ask her forgiveness.
The Michigan Central Terminal
the day after victory.
home from Europe after years
of her mother's terror, and he still
so young but now with the dark
shadow of a beard, holding her
tightly among all the others
calling for their wives or girls.
That night in the front room
crowded with family and neighbors --
he was first back on the block --
he sat cross-legged on the floor
still in his wool uniform, smoking
and drinking as he spoke of passing
high over the dark cities she'd
only read about.
He'd wanted to
go back again and again.
to do this for the country,
for this -- a small house with upstairs
bedrooms -- so he'd asked to go
on raid after raid as though
he hungered to kill or be killed.
Today on television men
will enter space and return,
men she cannot imagine.
Lost in gigantic paper suits,
they move like sea creatures.
A voice will crackle from out
there where no voices are
speaking of the great theater
of conquest, of advancing
beyond the simple miracles
of flight, the small ventures
of birds and beasts.
will answer with words she
cannot remember having
spoken ever to anyone.
THE PHONE CALL
She calls Chicago, but no one
The operator asks
for another number but still
no one answers.
they try twenty-one numbers,
and at each no one is ever home.
"Can I call Baltimore?" she asks.
She can, but she knows no one
in Baltimore, no one in
Louis, Boston, Washington.
She imagines herself standing
before the glass wall high
over Lake Shore Drive, the cars
below fanning into the city.
East she can see all the way
to Gary and the great gray clouds
of exhaustion rolling over
the lake where her vision ends.
This is where her brother lives.
At such height there's nothing,
no birds, no growing, no noise.
She leans her sweating forehead
against the cold glass, shudders,
and puts down the receiver.
Wherever she turns her garden
is alive and growing.
spears of wild asparagus, shaft
of tulip and flag, green stain
of berry buds along the vines,
even in the eaten leaf of
pepper plants and clipped stalk
of snap bean.
and already the grass is dry
under the low sun.
and dark capped juncos hidden
in dense foliage waiting
the sun's early fall, when she
returns alone to hear them
call and call back, and finally
in the long shadows settle
down to rest and to silence
in the sudden rising chill.
Two boys are playing ball
in the backyard, throwing it
back and forth in the afternoon's
bright sunshine as a black mongrel
big as a shepherd races
from one to the other.
hides behind the heavy drapes
in her dining room and listens,
but they're too far.
they? They move about her yard
as though it were theirs.
the sons of her sons? They've
taken off their shirts, and she
sees they're not boys at all --
a dark smudge of hair rises
along the belly of one --, and now
they have the dog down thrashing
on his back, snarling and flashing
his teeth, and they're laughing.
She's eaten dinner talking
back to the television, she's
had coffee and brandy, done
the dishes and drifted into
and out of sleep over a book
she found beside the couch.
time for bed, but she goes
instead to the front door, unlocks
it, and steps onto the porch.
Behind her she can hear only
the silence of the house.
throw her shadow down the stairs
and onto the lawn, and she walks
carefully to meet it.
standing in the huge, whispering
arena of night, hearing her
own breath tearing out of her
like the cries of an animal.
She could keep going into
whatever the darkness brings,
she could find a presence there
her shaking hands could hold
instead of each other.
A dark sister lies beside her
all night, whispering
that it's not a dream, that fire
has entered the spaces between
one face and another.
There will be no wakening.
When she wakens, she can't
catch her own breath, so she yells
It comes in the form
back and forth, using new words
that have no meaning
The aspen shreds
itself against her window.
The oranges she saw that day
in her yard explode
in circles of oil, the few stars
quiet and darken.
They go on,
two little girls up long past
their hour, playing in bed.
Robert William Service |
This is the yarn he told me
As we sat in Casey's Bar,
That Rooshun mug who scammed from the jug
In the Land of the Crimson Star;
That Soviet guy with the single eye,
And the face like a flaming scar.
Where Lenin lies the red flag flies, and the rat-grey workers wait
To tread the gloom of Lenin's Tomb, where the Comrade lies in state.
With lagging pace they scan his face, so weary yet so firm;
For years a score they've laboured sore to save him from the worm.
The Kremlin walls are grimly grey, but Lenin's Tomb is red,
And pilgrims from the Sour Lands say: "He sleeps and is not dead.
Before their eyes in peace he lies, a symbol and a sign,
And as they pass that dome of glass they see - a God Divine.
So Doctors plug him full of dope, for if he drops to dust,
So will collapse their faith and hope, the whole combine will bust.
But say, Tovarich; hark to me .
a secret I'll disclose,
For I did see what none did see; I know what no one knows.
I was a Cheko terrorist - Oh I served the Soviets well,
Till they put me down on the bone-yard list, for the fear that I might tell;
That I might tell the thing I saw, and that only I did see,
They held me in quod with a firing squad to make a corpse of me.
But I got away, and here today I'm telling my tale to you;
Though it may sound weird, by Lenin's beard, so help me God it's true.
I slouched across that great Red Square, and watched the waiting line.
The mongrel sons of Marx were there, convened to Lenin's shrine;
Ten thousand men of Muscovy, Mongol and Turkoman,
Black-bonnets of the Aral Sea and Tatars of Kazan.
Kalmuck and Bashkir, Lett and Finn, Georgian, Jew and Lapp,
Kirghiz and Kazakh, crowding in to gaze at Lenin's map.
Aye, though a score of years had run I saw them pause and pray,
As mourners at the Tomb of one who died but yesterday.
I watched them in a bleary daze of bitterness and pain,
For oh, I missed the cheery blaze of vodka in my brain.
I stared, my eyes were hypnotized by that saturnine host,
When with a start that shook my heart I saw - I saw a ghost.
As in foggèd glass I saw him pass, and peer at me and grin -
A man I knew, a man I slew, Prince Boris Mazarin.
Now do not think because I drink I love the flowing bowl;
But liquor kills remorse and stills the anguish of the soul.
And there's so much I would forget, stark horrors I have seen,
Faces and forms that haunt me yet, like shadows on a screen.
And of these sights that mar my nights the ghastliest by far
Is the death of Boris Mazarin, that soldier of the Czar.
A mighty nobleman was he; we took him by surprise;
His mother, son and daughters three we slew before his eyes.
We tortured him, with jibes and threats; then mad for glut of gore,
Upon our reeking bayonets we nailed him to the door.
But he defied us to the last, crying: "O carrion crew!
I'd die with joy could I destroy a hundred dogs like you.
I thrust my sword into his throat; the blade was gay with blood;
We flung him to his castle moat, and stamped him in its mud.
That mighty Cossack of the Don was dead with all his race.
And now I saw him coming on, dire vengeance in his face.
(Or was it some fantastic dream of my besotted brain?)
He looked at me with eyes a-gleam, the man whom I had slain.
He looked and bade me follow him; I could not help but go;
I joined the throng that passed along, so sorrowful and slow.
I followed with a sense of doom that shadow gaunt and grim;
Into the bowels of the Tomb I followed, followed him.
The light within was weird and dim, and icy cold the air;
My brow was wet with bitter sweat, I stumbled on the stair.
I tried to cry; my throat was dry; I sought to grip his arm;
For well I knew this man I slew was there to do us harm.
Lo! he was walking by my side, his fingers clutched my own,
This man I knew so well had died, his hand was naked bone.
His face was like a skull, his eyes were caverns of decay .
And so we came to the crystal frame where lonely Lenin lay.
Without a sound we shuffled round> I sought to make a sign,
But like a vice his hand of ice was biting into mine.
With leaden pace around the place where Lenin lies at rest,
We slouched, I saw his bony claw go fumbling to his breast.
With ghastly grin he groped within, and tore his robe apart,
And from the hollow of his ribs he drew his blackened heart.
Ah no! Oh God! A bomb, a BOMB! And as I shrieked with dread,
With fiendish cry he raised it high, and .
swung at Lenin's head.
Oh I was blinded by the flash and deafened by the roar,
And in a mess of bloody mash I wallowed on the floor.
Then Alps of darkness on me fell, and when I saw again
The leprous light 'twas in a cell, and I was racked with pain;
And ringèd around by shapes of gloom, who hoped that I would die;
For of the crowd that crammed the Tomb the sole to live was I.
They told me I had dreamed a dream that must not be revealed,
But by their eyes of evil gleam I knew my doom was sealed.
I need not tell how from my cell in Lubianka gaol,
I broke away, but listen, here's the point of all my tale.
Outside the "Gay Pay Oo" none knew of that grim scene of gore;
They closed the Tomb, and then they threw it open as before.
And there was Lenin, stiff and still, a symbol and a sign,
And rancid races come to thrill and wonder at his Shrine;
And hold the thought: if Lenin rot the Soviets will decay;
And there he sleeps and calm he keeps his watch and ward for aye.
Yet if you pass that frame of glass, peer closely at his phiz,
So stern and firm it mocks the worm, it looks like wax .
They tell you he's a mummy - don't you make that bright mistake:
I tell you - he's a dummy; aye, a fiction and a fake.
This eye beheld the bloody bomb that bashed him on the bean.
I heard the crash, I saw the flash, yet .
there he lies serene.
And by the roar that rocked the Tomb I ask: how could that be?
But if you doubt that deed of doom, just go yourself and see.
You think I'm mad, or drunk, or both .
Well, I don't care a damn:
I tell you this: their Lenin is a waxen, show-case SHAM.
Such was the yarn he handed me,
Down there in Casey's Bar,
That Rooshun bug with the scrambled mug
From the land of the Commissar.
It may be true, I leave it you
To figger out how far.
Andrew Barton Paterson |
He had drifted in among us as a straw drifts with the tide,
He was just a wand'ring mongrel from the weary world outside;
He was not aristocratic, being mostly ribs and hair,
With a hint of spaniel parents and a touch of native bear.
He was very poor and humble and content with what he got,
So we fed him bones and biscuits, till he heartened up a lot;
Then he growled and grew aggressive, treating orders with disdain,
Till at last he bit the butcher, which would argue want of brain.
Now the butcher, noble fellow, was a sport beyond belief,
And instead of bringing actions he brought half a shin of beef,
Which he handed on to Fido, who received it as a right
And removed it to the garden, where he buried it at night.
'Twas the means of his undoing, for my wife, who'd stood his friend,
To adopt a slang expression, "went in off the deepest end",
For among the pinks and pansies, the gloxinias and the gorse
He had made an excavation like a graveyard for a horse.
Then we held a consultation which decided on his fate:
'Twas in anger more than sorrow that we led him to the gate,
And we handed him the beef-bone as provision for the day,
Then we opened wide the portal and we told him, "On your way.
John Betjeman |
The sea runs back against itself
With scarcely time for breaking wave
To cannonade a slatey shelf
And thunder under in a cave.
Before the next can fully burst
The headwind, blowing harder still,
Smooths it to what it was at first -
A slowly rolling water-hill.
Against the breeze the breakers haste,
Against the tide their ridges run
And all the sea's a dappled waste
Criss-crossing underneath the sun.
Far down the beach the ripples drag
Blown backward, rearing from the shore,
And wailing gull and shrieking shag
Alone can pierce the ocean roar.
Unheard, a mongrel hound gives tongue,
Unheard are shouts of little boys;
What chance has any inland lung
Against this multi-water noise?
Here where the cliffs alone prevail
I stand exultant, neutral, free,
And from the cushion of the gale
Behold a huge consoling sea.
Oliver Goldsmith |
Good people all, of every sort,
Give ear unto my song;
And if you find it wondrous short,
It cannot hold you long.
In Islington there was a man
Of whom the world might say,
That still a godly race he ran—
Whene'er he went to pray.
A kind and gentle heart he had,
To comfort friends and foes;
The naked every day he clad—
When he put on his clothes.
And in that town a dog was found,
As many dogs there be,
Both mongrel, puppy, whelp, and hound,
And curs of low degree.
This dog and man at first were friends;
But when a pique began,
The dog, to gain some private ends,
Went mad, and bit the man.
Around from all the neighbouring streets
The wond'ring neighbours ran,
And swore the dog had lost its wits
To bite so good a man.
The wound it seemed both sore and sad
To every Christian eye;
And while they swore the dog was mad,
They swore the man would die.
But soon a wonder came to light
That showed the rogues they lied,—
The man recovered of the bite,
The dog it was that died!