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Best Famous Muse Poems

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12
Written by Lewis Carroll | Create an image from this poem

Four Riddles

 I 

There was an ancient City, stricken down
With a strange frenzy, and for many a day
They paced from morn to eve the crowded town,
And danced the night away.
I asked the cause: the aged man grew sad: They pointed to a building gray and tall, And hoarsely answered "Step inside, my lad, And then you'll see it all.
" Yet what are all such gaieties to me Whose thoughts are full of indices and surds? x*x + 7x + 53 = 11/3 But something whispered "It will soon be done: Bands cannot always play, nor ladies smile: Endure with patience the distasteful fun For just a little while!" A change came o'er my Vision - it was night: We clove a pathway through a frantic throng: The steeds, wild-plunging, filled us with affright: The chariots whirled along.
Within a marble hall a river ran - A living tide, half muslin and half cloth: And here one mourned a broken wreath or fan, Yet swallowed down her wrath; And here one offered to a thirsty fair (His words half-drowned amid those thunders tuneful) Some frozen viand (there were many there), A tooth-ache in each spoonful.
There comes a happy pause, for human strength Will not endure to dance without cessation; And every one must reach the point at length Of absolute prostration.
At such a moment ladies learn to give, To partners who would urge them over-much, A flat and yet decided negative - Photographers love such.
There comes a welcome summons - hope revives, And fading eyes grow bright, and pulses quicken: Incessant pop the corks, and busy knives Dispense the tongue and chicken.
Flushed with new life, the crowd flows back again: And all is tangled talk and mazy motion - Much like a waving field of golden grain, Or a tempestuous ocean.
And thus they give the time, that Nature meant For peaceful sleep and meditative snores, To ceaseless din and mindless merriment And waste of shoes and floors.
And One (we name him not) that flies the flowers, That dreads the dances, and that shuns the salads, They doom to pass in solitude the hours, Writing acrostic-ballads.
How late it grows! The hour is surely past That should have warned us with its double knock? The twilight wanes, and morning comes at last - "Oh, Uncle, what's o'clock?" The Uncle gravely nods, and wisely winks.
It MAY mean much, but how is one to know? He opens his mouth - yet out of it, methinks, No words of wisdom flow.
II Empress of Art, for thee I twine This wreath with all too slender skill.
Forgive my Muse each halting line, And for the deed accept the will! O day of tears! Whence comes this spectre grim, Parting, like Death's cold river, souls that love? Is not he bound to thee, as thou to him, By vows, unwhispered here, yet heard above? And still it lives, that keen and heavenward flame, Lives in his eye, and trembles in his tone: And these wild words of fury but proclaim A heart that beats for thee, for thee alone! But all is lost: that mighty mind o'erthrown, Like sweet bells jangled, piteous sight to see! "Doubt that the stars are fire," so runs his moan, "Doubt Truth herself, but not my love for thee!" A sadder vision yet: thine aged sire Shaming his hoary locks with treacherous wile! And dost thou now doubt Truth to be a liar? And wilt thou die, that hast forgot to smile? Nay, get thee hence! Leave all thy winsome ways And the faint fragrance of thy scattered flowers: In holy silence wait the appointed days, And weep away the leaden-footed hours.
III.
The air is bright with hues of light And rich with laughter and with singing: Young hearts beat high in ecstasy, And banners wave, and bells are ringing: But silence falls with fading day, And there's an end to mirth and play.
Ah, well-a-day Rest your old bones, ye wrinkled crones! The kettle sings, the firelight dances.
Deep be it quaffed, the magic draught That fills the soul with golden fancies! For Youth and Pleasance will not stay, And ye are withered, worn, and gray.
Ah, well-a-day! O fair cold face! O form of grace, For human passion madly yearning! O weary air of dumb despair, From marble won, to marble turning! "Leave us not thus!" we fondly pray.
"We cannot let thee pass away!" Ah, well-a-day! IV.
My First is singular at best: More plural is my Second: My Third is far the pluralest - So plural-plural, I protest It scarcely can be reckoned! My First is followed by a bird: My Second by believers In magic art: my simple Third Follows, too often, hopes absurd And plausible deceivers.
My First to get at wisdom tries - A failure melancholy! My Second men revered as wise: My Third from heights of wisdom flies To depths of frantic folly.
My First is ageing day by day: My Second's age is ended: My Third enjoys an age, they say, That never seems to fade away, Through centuries extended.
My Whole? I need a poet's pen To paint her myriad phases: The monarch, and the slave, of men - A mountain-summit, and a den Of dark and deadly mazes - A flashing light - a fleeting shade - Beginning, end, and middle Of all that human art hath made Or wit devised! Go, seek HER aid, If you would read my riddle!
Written by Ralph Waldo Emerson | Create an image from this poem

Give All to Love

GIVE all to love; 
Obey thy heart; 
Friends kindred days  
Estate good fame  
Plans credit and the Muse¡ª 5 
Nothing refuse.
'Tis a brave master; Let it have scope: Follow it utterly Hope beyond hope: 10 High and more high It dives into noon With wing unspent Untold intent; But it is a god 15 Knows its own path And the outlets of the sky.
It was never for the mean; It requireth courage stout Souls above doubt 20 Valour unbending: Such 'twill reward;¡ª They shall return More than they were And ever ascending.
25 Leave all for love; Yet hear me yet One word more thy heart behoved One pulse more of firm endeavour¡ª Keep thee to-day 30 To-morrow for ever Free as an Arab Of thy beloved.
Cling with life to the maid; But when the surprise 35 First vague shadow of surmise Flits across her bosom young Of a joy apart from thee Free be she fancy-free; Nor thou detain her vesture's hem 40 Nor the palest rose she flung From her summer diadem.
Though thou loved her as thyself As a self of purer clay; Though her parting dims the day 45 Stealing grace from all alive; Heartily know When half-gods go The gods arrive.
Written by Homer | Create an image from this poem

THE ILIAD (excerpt)

  Achilles' wrath, to Greece the direful spring
  Of woes unnumber'd, heavenly goddess, sing!
  That wrath which hurl'd to Pluto's gloomy reign
  The souls of mighty chiefs untimely slain;
  Whose limbs unburied on the naked shore,
  Devouring dogs and hungry vultures tore.
(41) Since great Achilles and Atrides strove, Such was the sovereign doom, and such the will of Jove!(42) Declare, O Muse! in what ill-fated hour(43) Sprung the fierce strife, from what offended power Latona's son a dire contagion spread,(44) And heap'd the camp with mountains of the dead; The king of men his reverent priest defied,(45) And for the king's offence the people died.
For Chryses sought with costly gifts to gain His captive daughter from the victor's chain.
Suppliant the venerable father stands; Apollo's awful ensigns grace his hands By these he begs; and lowly bending down, Extends the sceptre and the laurel crown He sued to all, but chief implored for grace The brother-kings, of Atreus' royal race(46) "Ye kings and warriors! may your vows be crown'd, And Troy's proud walls lie level with the ground.
May Jove restore you when your toils are o'er Safe to the pleasures of your native shore.
But, oh! relieve a wretched parent's pain, And give Chryseis to these arms again; If mercy fail, yet let my presents move, And dread avenging Phoebus, son of Jove.
" The Greeks in shouts their joint assent declare, The priest to reverence, and release the fair.
Not so Atrides; he, with kingly pride, Repulsed the sacred sire, and thus replied: "Hence on thy life, and fly these hostile plains, Nor ask, presumptuous, what the king detains Hence, with thy laurel crown, and golden rod, Nor trust too far those ensigns of thy god.
Mine is thy daughter, priest, and shall remain; And prayers, and tears, and bribes, shall plead in vain; Till time shall rifle every youthful grace, And age dismiss her from my cold embrace, In daily labours of the loom employ'd, Or doom'd to deck the bed she once enjoy'd Hence then; to Argos shall the maid retire, Far from her native soil and weeping sire.
"
Written by Robert William Service | Create an image from this poem

The Living Dead

 Since I have come to years sedate
I see with more and more acumen
The bitter irony of Fate,
The vanity of all things human.
Why, just to-day some fellow said, As I surveyed Fame's outer portal: "By gad! I thought that you were dead.
" Poor me, who dreamed to be immortal! But that's the way with many men Whose name one fancied time-defying; We thought that they were dust and then We found them living by their dying.
Like dogs we penmen have our day, To brief best-sellerdom elected; And then, "thumbs down," we slink away And die forgotten and neglected.
Ah well, my lyric fling I've had; A thousand bits of verse I've minted; And some, alas! were very bad, And some, alack! were best unprinted.
But if I've made my muse a bawd (Since I am earthy as a ditch is), I'll answer humbly to my God: Most men at times have toyed with bitches.
Yes, I have played with Lady Rhyme, And had a long and lovely innings; And when the Umpire calls my time I'll blandly quit and take my winnings.
I'll hie me to some Sleepydale, And feed the ducks and pat the poodles, And prime my paunch with cakes and ale, And blether with the village noodles.
And then some day you'll idly scan The Times obituary column, And say: "Dear me, the poor old man!" And for a moment you'll look solemn.
"So all this time he's been alive - In realms of rhyme a second-rater .
.
.
But gad! to live to ninety-five: Let's toast his ghost - a sherry, waiter!"
Written by Robert Seymour Bridges | Create an image from this poem

From The Testament of Beauty

 'Twas at that hour of beauty when the setting sun
squandereth his cloudy bed with rosy hues, to flood
his lov'd works as in turn he biddeth them Good-night;
and all the towers and temples and mansions of men
face him in bright farewell, ere they creep from their pomp
naked beneath the darkness;- while to mortal eyes
'tis given, ifso they close not of fatigue, nor strain
at lamplit tasks-'tis given, as for a royal boon
to beggarly outcasts in homeless vigil, to watch
where uncurtain's behind the great windows of space
Heav'n's jewel'd company circleth unapproachably-
'Twas at sunset that I, fleeing to hide my soul
in refuge of beauty from a mortal distress,
walk'd alone with the Muse in her garden of thought,
discoursing at liberty with the mazy dreams
that came wavering pertinaciously about me; as when
the small bats, issued from their hangings, flitter o'erhead
thru' the summer twilight, with thin cries to and fro
hunting in muffled flight atween the stars and flowers.
Then fell I in strange delusion, illusion strange to tell; for as a man who lyeth fast asleep in his bed may dream he waketh, and that he walketh upright pursuing some endeavour in full conscience-so 'twas with me; but contrawise; for being in truth awake methought I slept and dreamt; and in thatt dream methought I was telling a dream; nor telling was I as one who, truly awaked from a true sleep, thinketh to tell his dream to a friend, but for his scant remembrances findeth no token of speech-it was not so with me; for my tale was my dream and my dream the telling, and I remember wondring the while I told it how I told it so tellingly.
And yet now 'twould seem that Reason inveighed me with her old orderings; as once when she took thought to adjust theology, peopling the inane that vex'd her between God and man with a hierarchy of angels; like those asteroids wherewith she later fill'd the gap 'twixt Jove and Mars.
Verily by Beauty it is that we come as WISDOM, yet not by Reason at Beauty; and now with many words pleasing myself betimes I am fearing lest in the end I play the tedious orator who maundereth on for lack of heart to make an end of his nothings.
Wherefor as when a runner who hath run his round handeth his staff away, and is glad of his rest, here break I off, knowing the goal was not for me the while I ran on telling of what cannot be told.
For not the Muse herself can tell of Goddes love; which cometh to the child from the Mother's embrace, an Idea spacious as the starry firmament's inescapable infinity of radiant gaze, that fadeth only as it outpasseth mortal sight: and this direct contact is 't with eternities, this springtide miracle of the soul's nativity that oft hath set philosophers adrift in dream; which thing Christ taught, when he set up a little child to teach his first Apostles and to accuse their pride, saying, 'Unless ye shall receive it as a child, ye cannot enter into the kingdom of heaven.
' So thru'out all his young mental apprenticehood the child of very simplicity, and in the grace and beauteous attitude of infantine wonder, is apt to absorb Ideas in primal purity, and by the assimilation of thatt immortal food may build immortal life; but ever with the growth of understanding, as the sensible images are more and more corrupt, troubled by questioning thought, or with vainglory alloy'd, 'tis like enought the boy in prospect of his manhood wil hav cast to th' winds his Baptism with his Babyhood; nor might he escape the fall of Ev'ryman, did not a second call of nature's Love await him to confirm his Faith or to revoke him if he is whollylapsed therefrom.
And so mighty is this second vision, which cometh in puberty of body and adolescence of mind that, forgetting his Mother, he calleth it 'first Love'; for it mocketh at suasion or stubbornness of heart, as the oceantide of the omnipotent Pleasur of God, flushing all avenues of life, and unawares by thousandfold approach forestalling its full flood with divination of the secret contacts of Love,-- of faintest ecstasies aslumber in Nature's calm, like thought in a closed book, where some poet long since sang his throbbing passion to immortal sleep-with coy tenderness delicat as the shifting hues that sanctify the silent dawn with wonder-gleams, whose evanescence is the seal of their glory, consumed in self-becoming of eternity; til every moment as it flyeth, cryeth 'Seize! Seize me ere I die! I am the Life of Life.
' 'Tis thus by near approach to an eternal presence man's heart with divine furor kindled and possess'd falleth in blind surrender; and finding therewithal in fullest devotion the full reconcilement betwixt his animal and spiritual desires, such welcome hour of bliss standeth for certain pledge of happiness perdurable: and coud he sustain this great enthusiasm, then the unbounded promise would keep fulfilment; since the marriage of true minds is thatt once fabled garden, amidst of which was set the single Tree that bore such med'cinable fruit that if man ate thereof he should liv for ever.
Friendship is in loving rather than in being lov'd, which is its mutual benediction and recompense; and tho' this be, and tho' love is from lovers learn'd, it springeth none the less from the old essence of self.
No friendless man ('twas well said) can be truly himself; what a man looketh for in his friend and findeth, and loving self best, loveth better than himself, is his own better self, his live lovable idea, flowering by expansion in the loves of his life.
And in the nobility of our earthly friendships we hav al grades of attainment, and the best may claim perfection of kind; and so, since ther be many bonds other than breed (friendships of lesser motiv, found even in the brutes) and since our politick is based on actual association of living men, 'twil come that the spiritual idea of Friendship, the huge vastidity of its essence, is fritter'd away in observation of the usual habits of men; as happ'd with the great moralist, where his book saith that ther can be no friendship betwixt God and man because of their unlimited disparity.
From this dilemma of pagan thought, this poison of faith, Man-soul made glad escape in the worship of Christ; for his humanity is God's Personality, and communion with him is the life of the soul.
Of which living ideas (when in the struggle of thought harden'd by language they became symbols of faith) Reason builded her maze, wherefrom none should escape, wandering intent to map and learn her tortuous clews, chanting their clerkly creed to the high-echoing stones of their hand-fashion'd temple: but the Wind of heav'n bloweth where it listeth, and Christ yet walketh the earth, and talketh still as with those two disciples once on the road to Emmaus-where they walk and are sad; whose vision of him then was his victory over death, thatt resurrection which all his lovers should share, who in loving him had learn'd the Ethick of happiness; whereby they too should come where he was ascended to reign over men's hearts in the Kingdom of God.
Our happiest earthly comradeships hold a foretaste of the feast of salvation and by thatt virtue in them provoke desire beyond them to out-reach and surmount their humanity in some superhumanity and ultimat perfection: which, howe'ever 'tis found or strangeley imagin'd, answereth to the need of each and pulleth him instinctivly as to a final cause.
Thus unto all who hav found their high ideal in Christ, Christ is to them the essence discern'd or undeiscern'd of all their human friendships; and each lover of him and of his beauty must be as a bud on the Vine and hav participation in him; for Goddes love is unescapable as nature's environment, which if a man ignore or think to thrust it off he is the ill-natured fool that runneth blindly on death.
This Individualism is man's true Socialism.
This is the rife Idea whose spiritual beauty multiplieth in communion to transcendant might.
This is thatt excelent way whereon if we wil walk all things shall be added unto us-thatt Love which inspired the wayward Visionary in his doctrinal ode to the three christian Graces, the Church's first hymn and only deathless athanasian creed,--the which 'except a man believe he cannot be saved.
' This is the endearing bond whereby Christ's company yet holdeth together on the truth of his promise that he spake of his grat pity and trust in man's love, 'Lo, I am with you always ev'n to the end of the world.
' Truly the Soul returneth the body's loving where it hath won it.
.
.
and God so loveth the world.
.
.
and in the fellowship of the friendship of Christ God is seen as the very self-essence of love, Creator and mover of all as activ Lover of all, self-express'd in not-self, mind and body, mother and child, 'twixt lover and loved, God and man: but ONE ETERNAL in the love of Beauty and in the selfhood of Love.
Written by Phillis Wheatley | Create an image from this poem

On Imagination

 Thy various works, imperial queen, we see,
 How bright their forms! how deck'd with pomp by thee!
Thy wond'rous acts in beauteous order stand,
And all attest how potent is thine hand.
From Helicon's refulgent heights attend, Ye sacred choir, and my attempts befriend: To tell her glories with a faithful tongue, Ye blooming graces, triumph in my song.
Now here, now there, the roving Fancy flies, Till some lov'd object strikes her wand'ring eyes, Whose silken fetters all the senses bind, And soft captivity involves the mind.
Imagination! who can sing thy force? Or who describe the swiftness of thy course? Soaring through air to find the bright abode, Th' empyreal palace of the thund'ring God, We on thy pinions can surpass the wind, And leave the rolling universe behind: >From star to star the mental optics rove, Measure the skies, and range the realms above.
There in one view we grasp the mighty whole, Or with new worlds amaze th' unbounded soul.
Though Winter frowns to Fancy's raptur'd eyes The fields may flourish, and gay scenes arise; The frozen deeps may break their iron bands, And bid their waters murmur o'er the sands.
Fair Flora may resume her fragrant reign, And with her flow'ry riches deck the plain; Sylvanus may diffuse his honours round, And all the forest may with leaves be crown'd: Show'rs may descend, and dews their gems disclose, And nectar sparkle on the blooming rose.
Such is thy pow'r, nor are thine orders vain, O thou the leader of the mental train: In full perfection all thy works are wrought, And thine the sceptre o'er the realms of thought.
Before thy throne the subject-passions bow, Of subject-passions sov'reign ruler thou; At thy command joy rushes on the heart, And through the glowing veins the spirits dart.
Fancy might now her silken pinions try To rise from earth, and sweep th' expanse on high: >From Tithon's bed now might Aurora rise, Her cheeks all glowing with celestial dies, While a pure stream of light o'erflows the skies.
The monarch of the day I might behold, And all the mountains tipt with radiant gold, But I reluctant leave the pleasing views, Which Fancy dresses to delight the Muse; Winter austere forbids me to aspire, And northern tempests damp the rising fire; They chill the tides of Fancy's flowing sea, Cease then, my song, cease the unequal lay.
Written by John Wilmot | Create an image from this poem

A Satyre Against Mankind

 Were I - who to my cost already am
One of those strange, prodigious creatures, man -
A spirit free to choose for my own share
What sort of flesh and blood I pleased to wear,
I'd be a dog, a monkey, or a bear,
Or anything but that vain animal,
Who is so proud of being rational.
His senses are too gross; and he'll contrive A sixth, to contradict the other five; And before certain instinct will prefer Reason, which fifty times for one does err.
Reason, an ignis fatuus of the mind, Which leaving light of nature, sense, behind, Pathless and dangerous wand'ring ways it takes, Through Error's fenny bogs and thorny brakes; Whilst the misguided follower climbs with pain Mountains of whimsey's, heaped in his own brain; Stumbling from thought to thought, falls headlong down, Into Doubt's boundless sea where, like to drown, Books bear him up awhile, and make him try To swim with bladders of Philosophy; In hopes still to o'ertake the escaping light; The vapour dances, in his dancing sight, Till spent, it leaves him to eternal night.
Then old age and experience, hand in hand, Lead him to death, make him to understand, After a search so painful, and so long, That all his life he has been in the wrong: Huddled In dirt the reasoning engine lies, Who was so proud, so witty, and so wise.
Pride drew him in, as cheats their bubbles catch, And made him venture; to be made a wretch.
His wisdom did has happiness destroy, Aiming to know that world he should enjoy; And Wit was his vain, frivolous pretence Of pleasing others, at his own expense.
For wits are treated just like common whores, First they're enjoyed, and then kicked out of doors; The pleasure past, a threatening doubt remains, That frights th' enjoyer with succeeding pains: Women and men of wit are dangerous tools, And ever fatal to admiring fools.
Pleasure allures, and when the fops escape, 'Tis not that they're beloved, but fortunate, And therefore what they fear, at heart they hate: But now, methinks some formal band and beard Takes me to task; come on sir, I'm prepared: "Then by your Favour, anything that's writ Against this jibing, jingling knack called Wit Likes me abundantly: but you take care Upon this point not to be too severe.
Perhaps my Muse were fitter for this part, For I profess I can be very smart On Wit, which I abhor with all my heart; I long to lash it in some sharp essay, But your grand indiscretion bids me stay, And turns my tide of ink another way.
What rage Torments in your degenerate mind, To make you rail at reason, and mankind Blessed glorious man! To whom alone kind heaven An everlasting soul hath freely given; Whom his great maker took such care to make, That from himself he did the image take; And this fair frame in shining reason dressed, To dignify his nature above beast.
Reason, by whose aspiring influence We take a flight beyond material sense, Dive into mysteries, then soaring pierce The flaming limits of the universe, Search heaven and hell, Find out what's acted there, And give the world true grounds of hope and fear.
" Hold mighty man, I cry, all this we know, From the pathetic pen of Ingelo; From Patrlck's Pilgrim, Sibbes' Soliloquies, And 'tis this very reason I despise, This supernatural gift that makes a mite Think he's an image of the infinite; Comparing his short life, void of all rest, To the eternal, and the ever-blessed.
This busy, pushing stirrer-up of doubt, That frames deep mysteries, then finds them out; Filling with frantic crowds of thinking fools The reverend bedlam's, colleges and schools; Borne on whose wings each heavy sot can pierce The limits of the boundless universe; So charming ointments make an old witch fly, And bear a crippled carcass through the sky.
'Tis the exalted power whose business lies In nonsense and impossibilities.
This made a whimsical philosopher Before the spacious world his tub prefer, And we have modern cloistered coxcombs, who Retire to think 'cause they have nought to do.
But thoughts are given for action's government; Where action ceases, thought's impertinent: Our sphere of action is life's happiness, And he that thinks beyond thinks like an ***.
Thus, whilst against false reasoning I inveigh.
I own right reason, which I would obey: That reason which distinguishes by sense, And gives us rules of good and ill from thence; That bounds desires.
with a reforming will To keep 'em more in vigour, not to kill.
- Your reason hinders, mine helps to enjoy, Renewing appetites yours would destroy.
My reason is my friend, yours is a cheat, Hunger calls out, my reason bids me eat; Perversely.
yours your appetite does mock: This asks for food, that answers, 'what's o'clock' This plain distinction, sir, your doubt secures, 'Tis not true reason I despise, but yours.
Thus I think reason righted, but for man, I'll ne'er recant, defend him if you can: For all his pride, and his philosophy, 'Tis evident: beasts are in their own degree As wise at least, and better far than he.
Those creatures are the wisest who attain.
- By surest means.
the ends at which they aim.
If therefore Jowler finds and kills the hares, Better than Meres supplies committee chairs; Though one's a statesman, th' other but a hound, Jowler in justice would be wiser found.
You see how far man's wisdom here extends.
Look next if human nature makes amends; Whose principles are most generous and just, - And to whose morals you would sooner trust: Be judge yourself, I'll bring it to the test, Which is the basest creature, man or beast Birds feed on birds, beasts on each other prey, But savage man alone does man betray: Pressed by necessity; they kill for food, Man undoes man, to do himself no good.
With teeth and claws, by nature armed, they hunt Nature's allowance, to supply their want.
But man, with smiles, embraces.
friendships.
Praise, Inhumanely his fellow's life betrays; With voluntary pains works his distress, Not through necessity, but wantonness.
For hunger or for love they bite, or tear, Whilst wretched man is still in arms for fear.
For fear he arms, and is of arms afraid: From fear, to fear, successively betrayed.
Base fear, the source whence his best passions came.
His boasted honour, and his dear-bought fame.
The lust of power, to whom he's such a slave, And for the which alone he dares be brave; To which his various projects are designed, Which makes him generous, affable, and kind.
For which he takes such pains to be thought wise, And screws his actions, in a forced disguise; Leads a most tedious life in misery, Under laborious, mean hypocrisy.
Look to the bottom of his vast design, Wherein man's wisdom, power, and glory join: The good he acts.
the ill he does endure.
'Tis all from fear, to make himself secure.
Merely for safety after fame they thirst, For all men would be cowards if they durst.
And honesty's against all common sense, Men must be knaves, 'tis in their own defence.
Mankind's dishonest: if you think it fair Among known cheats to play upon the square, You'll be undone.
Nor can weak truth your reputation save, The knaves will all agree to call you knave.
Wronged shall he live, insulted o'er, oppressed, Who dares be less a villain than the rest.
Thus sir, you see what human nature craves, Most men are cowards, all men should be knaves; The difference lies, as far as I can see.
Not in the thing itself, but the degree; And all the subject matter of debate Is only, who's a knave of the first rate All this with indignation have I hurled At the pretending part of the proud world, Who, swollen with selfish vanity, devise, False freedoms, holy cheats, and formal lies, Over their fellow slaves to tyrannise.
But if in Court so just a man there be, (In Court, a just man - yet unknown to me) Who does his needful flattery direct Not to oppress and ruin, but protect: Since flattery, which way soever laid, Is still a tax: on that unhappy trade.
If so upright a statesman you can find, Whose passions bend to his unbiased mind, Who does his arts and policies apply To raise his country, not his family; Nor while his pride owned avarice withstands, Receives close bribes, from friends corrupted hands.
Is there a churchman who on God relies Whose life, his faith and doctrine justifies Not one blown up, with vain prelatic pride, Who for reproofs of sins does man deride; Whose envious heart makes preaching a pretence With his obstreperous, saucy eloquence, To chide at kings, and rail at men of sense; Who from his pulpit vents more peevlsh lies, More bitter railings, scandals, calumnies, Than at a gossiping are thrown about When the good wives get drunk, and then fall out.
None of that sensual tribe, whose talents lie In avarice, pride, sloth, and gluttony.
Who hunt good livings; but abhor good lives, Whose lust exalted, to that height arrives, They act adultery with their own wives.
And ere a score of years completed be, Can from the loftiest pulpit proudly see, Half a large parish their own progeny.
Nor doting bishop, who would be adored For domineering at the Council board; A greater fop, in business at fourscore, Fonder of serious toys, affected more, Than the gay, glittering fool at twenty proves, With all his noise, his tawdry clothes and loves.
But a meek, humble man, of honest sense, Who preaching peace does practise continence; Whose pious life's a proof he does believe Mysterious truths which no man can conceive.
If upon Earth there dwell such god-like men, I'll here recant my paradox to them, Adores those shrines of virtue, homage pay, And with the rabble world their laws obey.
If such there are, yet grant me this at least, Man differs more from man than man from beast.
Written by Alice Walker | Create an image from this poem

I Said to Poetry

I said to Poetry: "I'm finished
with you.
" Having to almost die before some wierd light comes creeping through is no fun.
"No thank you, Creation, no muse need apply.
Im out for good times-- at the very least, some painless convention.
" Poetry laid back and played dead until this morning.
I wasn't sad or anything, only restless.
Poetry said: "You remember the desert, and how glad you were that you have an eye to see it with? You remember that, if ever so slightly?" I said: "I didn't hear that.
Besides, it's five o'clock in the a.
m.
I'm not getting up in the dark to talk to you.
" Poetry said: "But think about the time you saw the moon over that small canyon that you liked so much better than the grand one--and how suprised you were that the moonlight was green and you still had one good eye to see it with Think of that!" "I'll join the church!" I said, huffily, turning my face to the wall.
"I'll learn how to pray again!" "Let me ask you," said Poetry.
"When you pray, what do you think you'll see?" Poetry had me.
"There's no paper in this room," I said.
"And that new pen I bought makes a funny noise.
" "Bullshit," said Poetry.
"Bullshit," said I.
Written by Erica Jong | Create an image from this poem

LoveSpell: Against Endings

 All the endings in my life
rise up against me
like that sea of troubles
Shakespeare mixed
with metaphors;
like Vikings in their boats
singing Wagner,
like witches
burning at
the stake--
I submit
to my fate.
I know beginnings, their sweetnesses, and endings, their bitternesses-- but I do not know continuance-- I do not know the sweet demi-boredom of life as it lingers, of man and wife regarding each other across a table of shared witnesses, of the hand-in-hand dreams of those who have slept a half-century together in a bed so used and familiar it is rutted with love.
I would know that before this life closes, a soulmate to share my roses-- I would make a spell with long grey beard hairs and powdered rosemary and rue, with the jacket of a tux for a tall man with broad shoulders, who loves to dance; with one blue contact lens for his bluest eyes; with honey in a jar for his love of me; with salt in a dish for his love of sex and skin; with crushed rose petals for our bed; with tubes of cerulean blue and vermilion and rose madder for his artist's eye; with a dented Land-Rover fender for his love of travel; with a poem by Blake for his love of innocence revealed by experience; with soft rain and a bare head; with hand-in-hand dreams on Mondays and the land of **** on Sundays; with mangoes, papayas and limes, and a house towering above the sea.
Muse, I surrender to thee.
Thy will be done, not mine.
If this love spell pleases you, send me this lover, this husband, this dancing partner for my empty bed and let him fill me from now until I die.
I offer my bones, my poems, my luck with roses, and the secret garden I have found walled in my center, and the sunflower who raises her head despite her heavy seeds.
I am ready now, Muse, to serve you faithfully even with a graceful dancing partner-- for I have learned to stand alone.
Give me your blessing.
Let the next epithalamion I write be my own.
And let it last more than the years of my life-- and without the least strain-- two lovers bareheaded in a summer rain.
Written by Henry David Thoreau | Create an image from this poem

Inspiration

 Whate'er we leave to God, God does, 
And blesses us; 
The work we choose should be our own, 
God leaves alone.
If with light head erect I sing, Though all the Muses lend their force, From my poor love of anything, The verse is weak and shallow as its source.
But if with bended neck I grope Listening behind me for my wit, With faith superior to hope, More anxious to keep back than forward it; Making my soul accomplice there Unto the flame my heart hath lit, Then will the verse forever wear-- Time cannot bend the line which God hath writ.
Always the general show of things Floats in review before my mind, And such true love and reverence brings, That sometimes I forget that I am blind.
But now there comes unsought, unseen, Some clear divine electuary, And I, who had but sensual been, Grow sensible, and as God is, am wary.
I hearing get, who had but ears, And sight, who had but eyes before, I moments live, who lived but years, And truth discern, who knew but learning's lore.
I hear beyond the range of sound, I see beyond the range of sight, New earths and skies and seas around, And in my day the sun doth pale his light.
A clear and ancient harmony Pierces my soul through all its din, As through its utmost melody-- Farther behind than they, farther within.
More swift its bolt than lightning is, Its voice than thunder is more loud, It doth expand my privacies To all, and leave me single in the crowd.
It speaks with such authority, With so serene and lofty tone, That idle Time runs gadding by, And leaves me with Eternity alone.
Now chiefly is my natal hour, And only now my prime of life; Of manhood's strength it is the flower, 'Tis peace's end and war's beginning strife.
It comes in summer's broadest noon, By a grey wall or some chance place, Unseasoning Time, insulting June, And vexing day with its presuming face.
Such fragrance round my couch it makes, More rich than are Arabian drugs, That my soul scents its life and wakes The body up beneath its perfumed rugs.
Such is the Muse, the heavenly maid, The star that guides our mortal course, Which shows where life's true kernel's laid, Its wheat's fine flour, and its undying force.
She with one breath attunes the spheres, And also my poor human heart, With one impulse propels the years Around, and gives my throbbing pulse its start.
I will not doubt for evermore, Nor falter from a steadfast faith, For thought the system be turned o'er, God takes not back the word which once He saith.
I will not doubt the love untold Which not my worth nor want has bought, Which wooed me young, and woos me old, And to this evening hath me brought.
My memory I'll educate To know the one historic truth, Remembering to the latest date The only true and sole immortal youth.
Be but thy inspiration given, No matter through what danger sought, I'll fathom hell or climb to heaven, And yet esteem that cheap which love has bought.
___________________ Fame cannot tempt the bard Who's famous with his God, Nor laurel him reward Who has his Maker's nod.
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