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Best Famous Open Book Poems

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Written by William Butler Yeats | Create an image from this poem

Vacillation

 I

Between extremities
Man runs his course;
A brand, or flaming breath.
Comes to destroy All those antinomies Of day and night; The body calls it death, The heart remorse.
But if these be right What is joy? II A tree there is that from its topmost bough Is half all glittering flame and half all green Abounding foliage moistened with the dew; And half is half and yet is all the scene; And half and half consume what they renew, And he that Attis' image hangs between That staring fury and the blind lush leaf May know not what he knows, but knows not grief III Get all the gold and silver that you can, Satisfy ambition, animate The trivial days and ram them with the sun, And yet upon these maxims meditate: All women dote upon an idle man Although their children need a rich estate; No man has ever lived that had enough Of children's gratitude or woman's love.
No longer in Lethean foliage caught Begin the preparation for your death And from the fortieth winter by that thought Test every work of intellect or faith, And everything that your own hands have wrought And call those works extravagance of breath That are not suited for such men as come proud, open-eyed and laughing to the tomb.
IV My fiftieth year had come and gone, I sat, a solitary man, In a crowded London shop, An open book and empty cup On the marble table-top.
While on the shop and street I gazed My body of a sudden blazed; And twenty minutes more or less It seemed, so great my happiness, That I was blessed and could bless.
V Although the summer Sunlight gild Cloudy leafage of the sky, Or wintry moonlight sink the field In storm-scattered intricacy, I cannot look thereon, Responsibility so weighs me down.
Things said or done long years ago, Or things I did not do or say But thought that I might say or do, Weigh me down, and not a day But something is recalled, My conscience or my vanity appalled.
VI A rivery field spread out below, An odour of the new-mown hay In his nostrils, the great lord of Chou Cried, casting off the mountain snow, `Let all things pass away.
' Wheels by milk-white asses drawn Where Babylon or Nineveh Rose; some conquer drew rein And cried to battle-weary men, `Let all things pass away.
' From man's blood-sodden heart are sprung Those branches of the night and day Where the gaudy moon is hung.
What's the meaning of all song? `Let all things pass away.
' VII The Soul.
Seek out reality, leave things that seem.
The Heart.
What, be a singer born and lack a theme? The Soul.
Isaiah's coal, what more can man desire? The Heart.
Struck dumb in the simplicity of fire! The Soul.
Look on that fire, salvation walks within.
The Heart.
What theme had Homer but original sin? VIII Must we part, Von Hugel, though much alike, for we Accept the miracles of the saints and honour sanctity? The body of Saint Teresa lies undecayed in tomb, Bathed in miraculous oil, sweet odours from it come, Healing from its lettered slab.
Those self-same hands perchance Eternalised the body of a modern saint that once Had scooped out pharaoh's mummy.
I - though heart might find relief Did I become a Christian man and choose for my belief What seems most welcome in the tomb - play a pre-destined part.
Homer is my example and his unchristened heart.
The lion and the honeycomb, what has Scripture said? So get you gone, Von Hugel, though with blessings on your head.


Written by William Butler Yeats | Create an image from this poem

Supernatural Songs

 I.
Ribh at the Tomb of Baile and Aillinn Because you have found me in the pitch-dark night With open book you ask me what I do.
Mark and digest my tale, carry it afar To those that never saw this tonsured head Nor heard this voice that ninety years have cracked.
Of Baile and Aillinn you need not speak, All know their tale, all know what leaf and twig, What juncture of the apple and the yew, Surmount their bones; but speak what none have heard.
The miracle that gave them such a death Transfigured to pure substance what had once Been bone and sinew; when such bodies join There is no touching here, nor touching there, Nor straining joy, but whole is joined to whole; For the intercourse of angels is a light Where for its moment both seem lost, consumed.
Here in the pitch-dark atmosphere above The trembling of the apple and the yew, Here on the anniversary of their death, The anniversary of their first embrace, Those lovers, purified by tragedy, Hurry into each other's arms; these eyes, By water, herb and solitary prayer Made aquiline, are open to that light.
Though somewhat broken by the leaves, that light Lies in a circle on the grass; therein I turn the pages of my holy book.
II.
Ribh denounces Patrick An abstract Greek absurdity has crazed the man - Recall that masculine Trinity.
Man, woman, child (daughter or son), That's how all natural or supernatural stories run.
Natural and supernatural with the self-same ring are wed.
As man, as beast, as an ephemeral fly begets, Godhead begets Godhead, For things below are copies, the Great Smaragdine Tablet said.
Yet all must copy copies, all increase their kind; When the conflagration of their passion sinks, damped by the body or the mind, That juggling nature mounts, her coil in their embraces twined.
The mirror-scaled serpent is multiplicity, But all that run in couples, on earth, in flood or air, share God that is but three, And could beget or bear themselves could they but love as He.
III.
Ribh in Ecstasy What matter that you understood no word! Doubtless I spoke or sang what I had heard In broken sentences.
My soul had found All happiness in its own cause or ground.
Godhead on Godhead in sexual spasm begot Godhead.
Some shadow fell.
My soul forgot Those amorous cries that out of quiet come And must the common round of day resume.
IV.
There There all the barrel-hoops are knit, There all the serpent-tails are bit, There all the gyres converge in one, There all the planets drop in the Sun.
V.
Ribh considers Christian Love insufficient Why should I seek for love or study it? It is of God and passes human wit.
I study hatred with great diligence, For that's a passion in my own control, A sort of besom that can clear the soul Of everything that is not mind or sense.
Why do I hate man, woman or event? That is a light my jealous soul has sent.
From terror and deception freed it can Discover impurities, can show at last How soul may walk when all such things are past, How soul could walk before such things began.
Then my delivered soul herself shall learn A darker knowledge and in hatred turn From every thought of God mankind has had.
Thought is a garment and the soul's a bride That cannot in that trash and tinsel hide: Hatred of God may bring the soul to God.
At stroke of midnight soul cannot endure A bodily or mental furniture.
What can she take until her Master give! Where can she look until He make the show! What can she know until He bid her know! How can she live till in her blood He live! VI.
He and She As the moon sidles up Must she sidle up, As trips the scared moon Away must she trip: 'His light had struck me blind Dared I stop".
She sings as the moon sings: 'I am I, am I; The greater grows my light The further that I fly.
' All creation shivers With that sweet cry.
VII.
What Magic Drum? He holds him from desire, all but stops his breathing lest primordial Motherhood forsake his limbs, the child no longer rest, Drinking joy as it were milk upon his breast.
Through light-obliterating garden foliage what magic drum? Down limb and breast or down that glimmering belly move his mouth and sinewy tongue.
What from the forest came? What beast has licked its young? VIII.
Whence had they come? Eternity is passion, girl or boy Cry at the onset of their sexual joy 'For ever and for ever'; then awake Ignorant what Dramatis personae spake; A passion-driven exultant man sings out Sentences that he has never thought; The Flagellant lashes those submissive loins Ignorant what that dramatist enjoins, What master made the lash.
Whence had they come, The hand and lash that beat down frigid Rome? What sacred drama through her body heaved When world-transforming Charlemagne was conceived? IX.
The Four Ages of Man He with body waged a fight, But body won; it walks upright.
Then he struggled with the heart; Innocence and peace depart.
Then he struggled with the mind; His proud heart he left behind.
Now his wars on God begin; At stroke of midnight God shall win.
X.
Conjunctions If Jupiter and Saturn meet, What a cop of mummy wheat! The sword's a cross; thereon He died: On breast of Mars the goddess sighed.
XI.
A Needle's Eye All the stream that's roaring by Came out of a needle's eye; Things unborn, things that are gone, From needle's eye still goad it on.
XII.
Meru Civilisation is hooped together, brought Under a mle, under the semblance of peace By manifold illusion; but man's life is thought, And he, despite his terror, cannot cease Ravening through century after century, Ravening, raging, and uprooting that he may come Into the desolation of reality: Egypt and Greece, good-bye, and good-bye, Rome! Hermits upon Mount Meru or Everest, Caverned in night under the drifted snow, Or where that snow and winter's dreadful blast Beat down upon their naked bodies, know That day brings round the night, that before dawn His glory and his monuments are gone.
Written by William Butler Yeats | Create an image from this poem

Ego Dominus Tuus

 Hic.
On the grey sand beside the shallow stream Under your old wind-beaten tower, where still A lamp burns on beside the open book That Michael Robartes left, you walk in the moon, And, though you have passed the best of life, still trace, Enthralled by the unconquerable delusion, Magical shapes.
Ille.
By the help of an image I call to my own opposite, summon all That I have handled least, least looked upon.
Hic.
And I would find myself and not an image.
Ille.
That is our modern hope, and by its light We have lit upon the gentle, sensitive mind And lost the old nonchalance of the hand; Whether we have chosen chisel, pen or brush, We are but critics, or but half create, Timid, entangled, empty and abashed, Lacking the countenance of our friends.
Hic.
And yet The chief imagination of Christendom, Dante Alighieri, so utterly found himself That he has made that hollow face of his More plain to the mind's eye than any face But that of Christ.
Ille.
And did he find himself Or was the hunger that had made it hollow A hunger for the apple on the bough Most out of reach? and is that spectral image The man that Lapo and that Guido knew? I think he fashioned from his opposite An image that might have been a stony face Staring upon a Bedouin's horse-hair roof From doored and windowed cliff, or half upturned Among the coarse grass and the camel-dung.
He set his chisel to the hardest stone.
Being mocked by Guido for his lecherous life, Derided and deriding, driven out To climb that stair and eat that bitter bread, He found the unpersuadable justice, he found The most exalted lady loved by a man.
Hic.
Yet surely there are men who have made their art Out of no tragic war, lovers of life, Impulsive men that look for happiness And sing when t"hey have found it.
Ille.
No, not sing, For those that love the world serve it in action, Grow rich, popular and full of influence, And should they paint or write, still it is action: The struggle of the fly in marmalade.
The rhetorician would deceive his neighbours, The sentimentalist himself; while art Is but a vision of reality.
What portion in the world can the artist have Who has awakened from the common dream But dissipation and despair? Hic.
And yet No one denies to Keats love of the world; Remember his deliberate happiness.
Ille.
His art is happy, but who knows his mind? I see a schoolboy when I think of him, With face and nose pressed to a sweet-shop window, For certainly he sank into his grave His senses and his heart unsatisfied, And made - being poor, ailing and ignorant, Shut out from all the luxury of the world, The coarse-bred son of a livery-stable keeper -- Luxuriant song.
Hic.
Why should you leave the lamp Burning alone beside an open book, And trace these characters upon the sands? A style is found by sedentary toil And by the imitation of great masters.
Ille.
Because I seek an image, not a book.
Those men that in their writings are most wise, Own nothing but their blind, stupefied hearts.
I call to the mysterious one who yet Shall walk the wet sands by the edge of the stream And look most like me, being indeed my double, And prove of all imaginable things The most unlike, being my anti-self, And, standing by these characters, disclose All that I seek; and whisper it as though He were afraid the birds, who cry aloud Their momentary cries before it is dawn, Would carry it away to blasphemous men.
Written by Allen Ginsberg | Create an image from this poem

Psalm IV

 Now I'll record my secret vision, impossible sight of the face of God:
It was no dream, I lay broad waking on a fabulous couch in Harlem
having masturbated for no love, and read half naked an open book of Blake
 on my lap
Lo & behold! I was thoughtless and turned a page and gazed on the living
 Sun-flower
and heard a voice, it was Blake's, reciting in earthen measure:
the voice rose out of the page to my secret ear never heard before-
I lifted my eyes to the window, red walls of buildings flashed outside,
 endless sky sad Eternity
sunlight gazing on the world, apartments of Harlem standing in the 
 universe--
each brick and cornice stained with intelligence like a vast living face--
the great brain unfolding and brooding in wilderness!--Now speaking 
 aloud with Blake's voice--
Love! thou patient presence & bone of the body! Father! thy careful 
 watching and waiting over my soul!
My son! My son! the endless ages have remembered me! My son! My son!
 Time howled in anguish in my ear!
My son! My son! my father wept and held me in his dead arms.
1960
Written by Alfred Lord Tennyson | Create an image from this poem

In Memoriam A. H. H.: 131. O living will that shalt endure

 O living will that shalt endure
When all that seems shall suffer shock,
Rise in the spiritual rock,
Flow thro' our deeds and make them pure,
That we may lift from out of dust
A voice as unto him that hears,
A cry above the conquer'd years
To one that with us works, and trust,
With faith that comes of self-control,
The truths that never can be proved
Until we close with all we loved,
And all we flow from, soul in soul.
------ O true and tried, so well and long, Demand not thou a marriage lay; In that it is thy marriage day Is music more than any song.
Nor have I felt so much of bliss Since first he told me that he loved A daughter of our house; nor proved Since that dark day a day like this; Tho' I since then have number'd o'er Some thrice three years: they went and came, Remade the blood and changed the frame, And yet is love not less, but more; No longer caring to embalm In dying songs a dead regret, But like a statue solid-set, And moulded in colossal calm.
Regret is dead, but love is more Than in the summers that are flown, For I myself with these have grown To something greater than before; Which makes appear the songs I made As echoes out of weaker times, As half but idle brawling rhymes, The sport of random sun and shade.
But where is she, the bridal flower, That must be made a wife ere noon? She enters, glowing like the moon Of Eden on its bridal bower: On me she bends her blissful eyes And then on thee; they meet thy look And brighten like the star that shook Betwixt the palms of paradise.
O when her life was yet in bud, He too foretold the perfect rose.
For thee she grew, for thee she grows For ever, and as fair as good.
And thou art worthy; full of power; As gentle; liberal-minded, great, Consistent; wearing all that weight Of learning lightly like a flower.
But now set out: the noon is near, And I must give away the bride; She fears not, or with thee beside And me behind her, will not fear.
For I that danced her on my knee, That watch'd her on her nurse's arm, That shielded all her life from harm At last must part with her to thee; Now waiting to be made a wife, Her feet, my darling, on the dead; Their pensive tablets round her head, And the most living words of life Breathed in her ear.
The ring is on, The "wilt thou" answer'd, and again The "wilt thou" ask'd, till out of twain Her sweet "I will" has made you one.
Now sign your names, which shall be read, Mute symbols of a joyful morn, By village eyes as yet unborn; The names are sign'd, and overhead Begins the clash and clang that tells The joy to every wandering breeze; The blind wall rocks, and on the trees The dead leaf trembles to the bells.
O happy hour, and happier hours Await them.
Many a merry face Salutes them--maidens of the place, That pelt us in the porch with flowers.
O happy hour, behold the bride With him to whom her hand I gave.
They leave the porch, they pass the grave That has to-day its sunny side.
To-day the grave is bright for me, For them the light of life increased, Who stay to share the morning feast, Who rest to-night beside the sea.
Let all my genial spirits advance To meet and greet a whiter sun; My drooping memory will not shun The foaming grape of eastern France.
It circles round, and fancy plays, And hearts are warm'd and faces bloom, As drinking health to bride and groom We wish them store of happy days.
Nor count me all to blame if I Conjecture of a stiller guest, Perchance, perchance, among the rest, And, tho' in silence, wishing joy.
But they must go, the time draws on, And those white-favour'd horses wait; They rise, but linger; it is late; Farewell, we kiss, and they are gone.
A shade falls on us like the dark From little cloudlets on the grass, But sweeps away as out we pass To range the woods, to roam the park, Discussing how their courtship grew, And talk of others that are wed, And how she look'd, and what he said, And back we come at fall of dew.
Again the feast, the speech, the glee, The shade of passing thought, the wealth Of words and wit, the double health, The crowning cup, the three-times-three, And last the dance,--till I retire: Dumb is that tower which spake so loud, And high in heaven the streaming cloud, And on the downs a rising fire: And rise, O moon, from yonder down, Till over down and over dale All night the shining vapour sail And pass the silent-lighted town, The white-faced halls, the glancing rills, And catch at every mountain head, And o'er the friths that branch and spread Their sleeping silver thro' the hills; And touch with shade the bridal doors, With tender gloom the roof, the wall; And breaking let the splendour fall To spangle all the happy shores By which they rest, and ocean sounds, And, star and system rolling past, A soul shall draw from out the vast And strike his being into bounds, And, moved thro' life of lower phase, Result in man, be born and think, And act and love, a closer link Betwixt us and the crowning race Of those that, eye to eye, shall look On knowledge; under whose command Is Earth and Earth's, and in their hand Is Nature like an open book; No longer half-akin to brute, For all we thought and loved and did, And hoped, and suffer'd, is but seed Of what in them is flower and fruit; Whereof the man, that with me trod This planet, was a noble type Appearing ere the times were ripe, That friend of mine who lives in God, That God, which ever lives and loves, One God, one law, one element, And one far-off divine event, To which the whole creation moves.


Written by Charlotte Bronte | Create an image from this poem

Presentiment

 ' SISTER, you've sat there all the day,
Come to the hearth awhile;
The wind so wildly sweeps away,
The clouds so darkly pile.
That open book has lain, unread, For hours upon your knee; You've never smiled nor turned your head What can you, sister, see ? ' ' Come hither, Jane, look down the field; How dense a mist creeps on ! The path, the hedge, are both concealed, Ev'n the white gate is gone; No landscape through the fog I trace, No hill with pastures green; All featureless is nature's face, All masked in clouds her mien.
' Scarce is the rustle of a leaf Heard in our garden now; The year grows old, its days wax brief, The tresses leave its brow.
The rain drives fast before the wind, The sky is blank and grey; O Jane, what sadness fills the mind On such a dreary day ! ' ' You think too much, my sister dear; You sit too long alone; What though November days be drear ? Full soon will they be gone.
I've swept the hearth, and placed your chair, Come, Emma, sit by me; Our own fireside is never drear, Though late and wintry wane the year, Though rough the night may be.
' ' The peaceful glow of our fireside Imparts no peace to me: My thoughts would rather wander wide Than rest, dear Jane, with thee.
I'm on a distant journey bound, And if, about my heart, Too closely kindred ties were bound, 'T would break when forced to part.
' ' Soon will November days be o'er: ' Well have you spoken, Jane: My own forebodings tell me more, For me, I know by presage sure, They'll ne'er return again.
Ere long, nor sun nor storm to me Will bring or joy or gloom; They reach not that Eternity Which soon will be my home.
' Eight months are gone, the summer sun Sets in a glorious sky; A quiet field, all green and lone, Receives its rosy dye.
Jane sits upon a shaded stile, Alone she sits there now; Her head rests on her hand the while, And thought o'ercasts her brow.
She's thinking of one winter's day, A few short months ago, When Emma's bier was borne away O'er wastes of frozen snow.
She's thinking how that drifted snow Dissolved in spring's first gleam, And how her sister's memory now Fades, even as fades a dream.
The snow will whiten earth again, But Emma comes no more; She left, 'mid winter's sleet and rain, This world for Heaven's far shore.
On Beulah's hills she wanders now, On Eden's tranquil plain; To her shall Jane hereafter go, She ne'er shall come to Jane !
Written by Linda Pastan | Create an image from this poem

What We Want

 What we want
is never simple.
We move among the things we thought we wanted: a face, a room, an open book and these things bear our names-- now they want us.
But what we want appears in dreams, wearing disguises.
We fall past, holding out our arms and in the morning our arms ache.
We don't remember the dream, but the dream remembers us.
It is there all day as an animal is there under the table, as the stars are there even in full sun.
Written by Alfred Lord Tennyson | Create an image from this poem

In Memoriam 131: O Living Will That Shalt Endure

 O living will that shalt endure
When all that seems shall suffer shock,
Rise in the spiritual rock,
Flow thro' our deeds and make them pure, 

That we may lift from out of dust
A voice as unto him that hears,
A cry above the conquer'd years
To one that with us works, and trust, 

With faith that comes of self-control,
The truths that never can be proved
Until we close with all we loved,
And all we flow from, soul in soul.
O true and tried, so well and long, Demand not thou a marriage lay; In that it is thy marriage day Is music more than any song.
Nor have I felt so much of bliss Since first he told me that he loved A daughter of our house; nor proved Since that dark day a day like this; Tho' I since then have number'd o'er Some thrice three years: they went and came, Remade the blood and changed the frame, And yet is love not less, but more; No longer caring to embalm In dying songs a dead regret, But like a statue solid-set, And moulded in colossal calm.
Regret is dead, but love is more Than in the summers that are flown, For I myself with these have grown To something greater than before; Which makes appear the songs I made As echoes out of weaker times, As half but idle brawling rhymes, The sport of random sun and shade.
But where is she, the bridal flower, That must be made a wife ere noon? She enters, glowing like the moon Of Eden on its bridal bower: On me she bends her blissful eyes And then on thee; they meet thy look And brighten like the star that shook Betwixt the palms of paradise.
O when her life was yet in bud, He too foretold the perfect rose.
For thee she grew, for thee she grows For ever, and as fair as good.
And thou art worthy; full of power; As gentle; liberal-minded, great, Consistent; wearing all that weight Of learning lightly like a flower.
But now set out: the noon is near, And I must give away the bride; She fears not, or with thee beside And me behind her, will not fear.
For I that danced her on my knee, That watch'd her on her nurse's arm, That shielded all her life from harm At last must part with her to thee; Now waiting to be made a wife, Her feet, my darling, on the dead; Their pensive tablets round her head, And the most living words of life Breathed in her ear.
The ring is on, The "wilt thou" answer'd, and again The "wilt thou" ask'd, till out of twain Her sweet "I will" has made you one.
Now sign your names, which shall be read, Mute symbols of a joyful morn, By village eyes as yet unborn; The names are sign'd, and overhead Begins the clash and clang that tells The joy to every wandering breeze; The blind wall rocks, and on the trees The dead leaf trembles to the bells.
O happy hour, and happier hours Await them.
Many a merry face Salutes them--maidens of the place, That pelt us in the porch with flowers.
O happy hour, behold the bride With him to whom her hand I gave.
They leave the porch, they pass the grave That has to-day its sunny side.
To-day the grave is bright for me, For them the light of life increased, Who stay to share the morning feast, Who rest to-night beside the sea.
Let all my genial spirits advance To meet and greet a whiter sun; My drooping memory will not shun The foaming grape of eastern France.
It circles round, and fancy plays, And hearts are warm'd and faces bloom, As drinking health to bride and groom We wish them store of happy days.
Nor count me all to blame if I Conjecture of a stiller guest, Perchance, perchance, among the rest, And, tho' in silence, wishing joy.
But they must go, the time draws on, And those white-favour'd horses wait; They rise, but linger; it is late; Farewell, we kiss, and they are gone.
A shade falls on us like the dark From little cloudlets on the grass, But sweeps away as out we pass To range the woods, to roam the park, Discussing how their courtship grew, And talk of others that are wed, And how she look'd, and what he said, And back we come at fall of dew.
Again the feast, the speech, the glee, The shade of passing thought, the wealth Of words and wit, the double health, The crowning cup, the three-times-three, And last the dance,--till I retire: Dumb is that tower which spake so loud, And high in heaven the streaming cloud, And on the downs a rising fire: And rise, O moon, from yonder down, Till over down and over dale All night the shining vapour sail And pass the silent-lighted town, The white-faced halls, the glancing rills, And catch at every mountain head, And o'er the friths that branch and spread Their sleeping silver thro' the hills; And touch with shade the bridal doors, With tender gloom the roof, the wall; And breaking let the splendour fall To spangle all the happy shores By which they rest, and ocean sounds, And, star and system rolling past, A soul shall draw from out the vast And strike his being into bounds, And, moved thro' life of lower phase, Result in man, be born and think, And act and love, a closer link Betwixt us and the crowning race Of those that, eye to eye, shall look On knowledge; under whose command Is Earth and Earth's, and in their hand Is Nature like an open book; No longer half-akin to brute, For all we thought and loved and did, And hoped, and suffer'd, is but seed Of what in them is flower and fruit; Whereof the man, that with me trod This planet, was a noble type Appearing ere the times were ripe, That friend of mine who lives in God, That God, which ever lives and loves, One God, one law, one element, And one far-off divine event, To which the whole creation moves.
Written by Henry Van Dyke | Create an image from this poem

A Legend of Service

 It pleased the Lord of Angels (praise His name!)
To hear, one day, report from those who came
With pitying sorrow, or exultant joy,
To tell of earthly tasks in His employ:
For some were sorry when they saw how slow
The stream of heavenly love on earth must flow;
And some were glad because their eyes had seen,
Along its banks, fresh flowers and living green.
So, at a certain hour, before the throne The youngest angel, Asmiel, stood alone; Nor glad, nor sad, but full of earnest thought, And thus his tidings to the Master brought: "Lord, in the city Lupon I have found "Three servants of thy holy name, renowned "Above their fellows.
One is very wise, "With thoughts that ever range above the skies; "And one is gifted with the golden speech "That makes men glad to hear when he will teach; "And one, with no rare gift or grace endued, "Has won the people's love by doing good.
"With three such saints Lupon is trebly blest; "But, Lord, I fain would know, which loves Thee best?" Then spake the Lord of Angels, to whose look The hearts of all are like an open book: "In every soul the secret thought I read, "And well I know who loves me best indeed.
"But every life has pages vacant still, "Whereon a man may write the thing he will; "Therefore I read in silence, day by day, "And wait for hearts untaught to learn my way.
"But thou shalt go to Lupon, to the three "Who serve me there, and take this word from me: "Tell each of them his Master bids him go "Alone to Spiran's huts, across the snow; "There he shall find a certain task for me: "But what, I do not tell to them nor thee.
"Give thou the message, make my word the test, "And crown for me the one who answers best.
" Silent the angel stood, with folded hands, To take the imprint of his Lord's commands; Then drew one breath, obedient and elate, And passed, the self-same hour, through Lupon's gate.
First to the Temple door he made his way; And there, because it was an holy-day, He saw the folk by thousands thronging, stirred By ardent thirst to hear the preacher's word.
Then, while the echoes murmured Bernol's name, Through aisles that hushed behind him, Bernol came; Strung to the keenest pitch of conscious might, With lips prepared and firm, and eyes alight.
One moment at the pulpit steps he knelt In silent prayer, and on his shoulder felt The angel's hand: --"The Master bids thee go "Alone to Spiran's huts, across the snow, "To serve Him there.
" Then Bernol's hidden face Went white as death, and for about the space Of ten slow heart-beats there was no reply; Till Bernol looked around and whispered, "WHY?" But answer to his question came there none; The angel sighed, and with a sigh was gone.
Within the humble house where Malvin spent His studious years, on holy things intent, Sweet stillness reigned; and there the angel found The saintly sage immersed in thought profound, Weaving with patient toil and willing care A web of wisdom, wonderful and fair: A seamless robe for Truth's great bridal meet, And needing but one thread to be complete.
Then Asmiel touched his hand, and broke the thread Of fine-spun thought, and very gently said, "The One of whom thou thinkest bids thee go "Alone to Spiran's huts, across the snow, "To serve Him there.
" With sorrow and surprise Malvin looked up, reluctance in his eyes.
The broken thought, the strangeness of the call, The perilous passage of the mountain-wall, The solitary journey, and the length Of ways unknown, too great for his frail strength, Appalled him.
With a doubtful brow He scanned the doubtful task, and muttered "HOW?" But Asmiel answered, as he turned to go, With cold, disheartened voice, "I do not know.
" Now as he went, with fading hope, to seek The third and last to whom God bade him speak, Scarce twenty steps away whom should he meet But Fermor, hurrying cheerful down the street, With ready heart that faced his work like play, And joyed to find it greater every day! The angel stopped him with uplifted hand, And gave without delay his Lord's command: "He whom thou servest here would have thee go "Alone to Spiran's huts, across the snow, "To serve Him there.
" Ere Asmiel breathed again The eager answer leaped to meet him, "WHEN?" The angel's face with inward joy grew bright, And all his figure glowed with heavenly light; He took the golden circlet from his brow And gave the crown to Fermor, answering, "Now! "For thou hast met the Master's bidden test, "And I have found the man who loves Him best.
"Not thine, nor mine, to question or reply "When He commands us, asking 'how?' or 'why?' "He knows the cause; His ways are wise and just; "Who serves the King must serve with perfect trust.
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Written by William Cullen Bryant | Create an image from this poem

To A Cloud

 Beautiful cloud! with folds so soft and fair,
Swimming in the pure quiet air!
Thy fleeces bathed in sunlight, while below
Thy shadow o'er the vale moves slow;
Where, midst their labour, pause the reaper train
As cool it comes along the grain.
Beautiful cloud! I would I were with thee In thy calm way o'er land and sea: To rest on thy unrolling skirts, and look On Earth as on an open book; On streams that tie her realms with silver bands, And the long ways that seam her lands; And hear her humming cities, and the sound Of the great ocean breaking round.
Ay--I would sail upon thy air-borne car To blooming regions distant far, To where the sun of Andalusia shines On his own olive-groves and vines, Or the soft lights of Italy's bright sky In smiles upon her ruins lie.
But I would woo the winds to let us rest O'er Greece long fettered and oppressed, Whose sons at length have heard the call that comes From the old battle-fields and tombs, And risen, and drawn the sword, and on the foe Have dealt the swift and desperate blow, And the Othman power is cloven, and the stroke Has touched its chains, and they are broke.
Ay, we would linger till the sunset there Should come, to purple all the air, And thou reflect upon the sacred ground The ruddy radiance streaming round.
Bright meteor! for the summer noontide made! Thy peerless beauty yet shall fade.
The sun, that fills with light each glistening fold, Shall set, and leave thee dark and cold: The blast shall rend thy skirts, or thou may'st frown In the dark heaven when storms come down, And weep in rain, till man's inquiring eye Miss thee, forever from the sky.
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