Sylvia Plath |
'Perspective betrays with its dichotomy:
train tracks always meet, not here, but only
in the impossible mind's eye;
horizons beat a retreat as we embark
on sophist seas to overtake that mark
where wave pretends to drench real sky.
'Well then, if we agree, it is not odd
that one man's devil is another's god
or that the solar spectrum is
a multitude of shaded grays; suspense
on the quicksands of ambivalence
is our life's whole nemesis.
So we could rave on, darling, you and I,
until the stars tick out a lullaby
about each cosmic pro and con;
nothing changes, for all the blazing of
our drastic jargon, but clock hands that move
implacably from twelve to one.
We raise our arguments like sitting ducks
to knock them down with logic or with luck
and contradict ourselves for fun;
the waitress holds our coats and we put on
the raw wind like a scarf; love is a faun
who insists his playmates run.
Now you, my intellectual leprechaun,
would have me swallow the entire sun
like an enormous oyster, down
the ocean in one gulp: you say a mark
of comet hara-kiri through the dark
should inflame the sleeping town.
So kiss: the drunks upon the curb and dames
in dubious doorways forget their monday names,
caper with candles in their heads;
the leaves applaud, and santa claus flies in
scattering candy from a zeppelin,
playing his prodigal charades.
The moon leans down to took; the tilting fish
in the rare river wink and laugh; we lavish
blessings right and left and cry
hello, and then hello again in deaf
churchyard ears until the starlit stiff
graves all carol in reply.
Now kiss again: till our strict father leans
to call for curtain on our thousand scenes;
brazen actors mock at him,
multiply pink harlequins and sing
in gay ventriloquy from wing to wing
while footlights flare and houselights dim.
Tell now, we taunq where black or white begins
and separate the flutes from violins:
the algebra of absolutes
explodes in a kaleidoscope of shapes
that jar, while each polemic jackanapes
joins his enemies' recruits.
The paradox is that 'the play's the thing':
though prima donna pouts and critic stings,
there burns throughout the line of words,
the cultivated act, a fierce brief fusion
which dreamers call real, and realists, illusion:
an insight like the flight of birds:
Arrows that lacerate the sky, while knowing
the secret of their ecstasy's in going;
some day, moving, one will drop,
and, dropping, die, to trace a wound that heals
only to reopen as flesh congeals:
cycling phoenix never stops.
So we shall walk barefoot on walnut shells
of withered worlds, and stamp out puny hells
and heavens till the spirits squeak
surrender: to build our bed as high as jack's
bold beanstalk; lie and love till sharp scythe hacks
away our rationed days and weeks.
Then jet the blue tent topple, stars rain down,
and god or void appall us till we drown
in our own tears: today we start
to pay the piper with each breath, yet love
knows not of death nor calculus above
the simple sum of heart plus heart.
John Wilmot |
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;
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.
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.
John Donne |
No Lover saith, I love, nor any other
Can judge a perfect Lover;
Hee thinkes that else none can, nor will agree
That any loves but hee;
I cannot say I'lov'd.
for who can say
Hee was kill'd yesterday?
Lover withh excesse of heat, more yong than old,
Death kills with too much cold;
Wee dye but once, and who lov'd last did die,
Hee that saith twice, doth lye:
For though hee seeme to move, and stirre a while,
It doth the sense beguile.
Such life is like the light which bideth yet
When the lights life is set,
Or like the heat, which fire in solid matter
Leave behinde, two houres after.
Once I lov's and dy'd; and am now become
Mine Epitaph and Tombe.
Here dead men speake their last, and so do I;
Love-slaine, loe, here I lye.
Edwin Arlington Robinson |
Aunt Imogen was coming, and therefore
The children—Jane, Sylvester, and Young George—
Were eyes and ears; for there was only one
Aunt Imogen to them in the whole world,
And she was in it only for four weeks
But those great bites of time
Made all September a Queen’s Festival;
And they would strive, informally, to make
The most of them.
—The mother understood,
And wisely stepped away.
Was there for only one month in the year,
While she, the mother,—she was always there;
And that was what made all the difference.
She knew it must be so, for Jane had once
Expounded it to her so learnedly
That she had looked away from the child’s eyes
And thought; and she had thought of many things.
There was a demonstration every time
Aunt Imogen appeared, and there was more
Than one this time.
And she was at a loss
Just how to name the meaning of it all:
It puzzled her to think that she could be
So much to any crazy thing alive—
Even to her sister’s little savages
Who knew no better than to be themselves;
But in the midst of her glad wonderment
She found herself besieged and overcome
By two tight arms and one tumultuous head,
And therewith half bewildered and half pained
By the joy she felt and by the sudden love
That proved itself in childhood’s honest noise.
Jane, by the wings of sex, had reached her first;
And while she strangled her, approvingly,
Sylvester thumped his drum and Young George howled.
But finally, when all was rectified,
And she had stilled the clamor of Young George
By giving him a long ride on her shoulders,
They went together into the old room
That looked across the fields; and Imogen
Gazed out with a girl’s gladness in her eyes,
Happy to know that she was back once more
Where there were those who knew her, and at last
Had gloriously got away again
From cabs and clattered asphalt for a while;
And there she sat and talked and looked and laughed
And made the mother and the children laugh.
Aunt Imogen made everybody laugh.
There was the feminine paradox—that she
Who had so little sunshine for herself
Should have so much for others.
How it was
That she could make, and feel for making it,
So much of joy for them, and all along
Be covering, like a scar, and while she smiled,
That hungering incompleteness and regret—
That passionate ache for something of her own,
For something of herself—she never knew.
She knew that she could seem to make them all
Believe there was no other part of her
Than her persistent happiness; but the why
And how she did not know.
Still none of them
Could have a thought that she was living down—
Almost as if regret were criminal,
So proud it was and yet so profitless—
The penance of a dream, and that was good.
Her sister Jane—the mother of little Jane,
Sylvester, and Young George—might make herself
Believe she knew, for she—well, she was Jane.
Young George, however, did not yield himself
To nourish the false hunger of a ghost
That made no good return.
He saw too much:
The accumulated wisdom of his years
Had so conclusively made plain to him
The permanent profusion of a world
Where everybody might have everything
To do, and almost everything to eat,
That he was jubilantly satisfied
And all unthwarted by adversity.
Young George knew things.
The world, he had found out,
Was a good place, and life was a good game—
Particularly when Aunt Imogen
Was in it.
And one day it came to pass—
One rainy day when she was holding him
And rocking him—that he, in his own right,
Took it upon himself to tell her so;
And something in his way of telling it—
The language, or the tone, or something else—
Gripped like insidious fingers on her throat,
And then went foraging as if to make
A plaything of her heart.
And unsophisticated confidence
Went mercilessly home; and had she sat
Before a looking glass, the deeps of it
Could not have shown more clearly to her then
Than one thought-mirrored little glimpse had shown,
The pang that wrenched her face and filled her eyes
With anguish and intolerable mist.
The blow that she had vaguely thrust aside
Like fright so many times had found her now:
Clean-thrust and final it had come to her
From a child’s lips at last, as it had come
Never before, and as it might be felt
Some grief, like some delight,
Stings hard but once: to custom after that
The rapture or the pain submits itself,
And we are wiser than we were before.
And Imogen was wiser; though at first
Her dream-defeating wisdom was indeed
A thankless heritage: there was no sweet,
No bitter now; nor was there anything
To make a daily meaning for her life—
Till truth, like Harlequin, leapt out somehow
From ambush and threw sudden savor to it—
But the blank taste of time.
There were no dreams,
No phantoms in her future any more:
One clinching revelation of what was
One by-flash of irrevocable chance,
Had acridly but honestly foretold
The mystical fulfilment of a life
That might have once … But that was all gone by:
There was no need of reaching back for that:
The triumph was not hers: there was no love
Save borrowed love: there was no might have been.
But there was yet Young George—and he had gone
Conveniently to sleep, like a good boy;
And there was yet Sylvester with his drum,
And there was frowzle-headed little Jane;
And there was Jane the sister, and the mother,—
Her sister, and the mother of them all.
They were not hers, not even one of them:
She was not born to be so much as that,
For she was born to be Aunt Imogen.
Now she could see the truth and look at it;
Now she could make stars out where once had palled
A future’s emptiness; now she could share
With others—ah, the others!—to the end
The largess of a woman who could smile;
Now it was hers to dance the folly down,
And all the murmuring; now it was hers
To be Aunt Imogen.
—So, when Young George
Woke up and blinked at her with his big eyes,
And smiled to see the way she blinked at him,
’T was only in old concord with the stars
That she took hold of him and held him close,
Close to herself, and crushed him till he laughed.
Rg Gregory |
they say in the local sanctuary
owls are the stupidest creatures
all this wisdom business is
the mythological media at work
but the shortest nosing into books
tells you even the mythic world
is bamboozled by the creature - no
two cultures being able to agree
the bird was cherished by minerva
hebrews loathed it as unclean
buddhists treasure its seclusion
elsewhere night-hag evil omen
the baker's daughter's silly cry
ungrateful chinese children
the precious life of genghis khan
sweet fodder to the owl's blink
in the end it's the paradox
i'll be what you want romantic fool
that scares elates about the owl
sitting in the dark and seeing all
not true not true the cynics say
the bloody fraudster's almost blind
dead lazy till its stomach rattles
its skill is seeing with its ears
(transmogrified to wisdom)
make the perfect pitch for power
so proofed - why give a hoot for gods
Robert Browning |
Grow old along with me!
The best is yet to be,
The last of life, for which the first was made:
Our times are in His hand
Who saith 'A whole I planned,
Youth shows but half; trust God: see all, nor be afraid!'
Not that, amassing flowers,
Youth sighed 'Which rose make ours,
Which lily leave and then as best recall?'
Not that, admiring stars,
It yearned 'Nor Jove, nor Mars;
Mine be some figured flame which blends, transcends them all!'
Not for such hopes and fears
Annulling youth's brief years,
Do I remonstrate: folly wide the mark!
Rather I prize the doubt
Low kinds exist without,
Finished and finite clods, untroubled by a spark.
Poor vaunt of life indeed,
Were man but formed to feed
On joy, to solely seek and find and feast:
Such feasting ended, then
As sure an end to men;
Irks care the crop-full bird? Frets doubt the maw-crammed beast?
Rejoice we are allied
To That which doth provide
And not partake, effect and not receive!
A spark disturbs our clod;
Nearer we hold of God
Who gives, than of His tribes that take, I must believe.
Then, welcome each rebuff
That turns earth's smoothness rough,
Each sting that bids nor sit nor stand but go!
Be our joys three-parts pain!
Strive, and hold cheap the strain;
Learn, nor account the pang; dare, never grudge the throe!
For thence,--a paradox
Which comforts while it mocks,--
Shall life succeed in that it seems to fail:
What I aspired to be,
And was not, comforts me:
A brute I might have been, but would not sink i' the scale.
What is he but a brute
Whose flesh has soul to suit,
Whose spirit works lest arms and legs want play?
To man, propose this test--
Thy body at its best,
How far can that project thy soul on its lone way?
Yet gifts should prove their use:
I own the Past profuse
Of power each side, perfection every turn:
Eyes, ears took in their dole,
Brain treasured up the whole;
Should not the heart beat once 'How good to live and learn?'
Not once beat 'Praise be Thine!
I see the whole design,
I, who saw power, see now love perfect too:
Perfect I call Thy plan:
Thanks that I was a man!
Maker, remake, complete,--I trust what Thou shalt do!'
For pleasant is this flesh;
Our soul, in its rose-mesh
Pulled ever to the earth, still yearns for rest;
Would we some prize might hold
To match those manifold
Possessions of the brute,--gain most, as we did best!
Let us not always say,
'Spite of this flesh to-day
I strove, made head, gained ground upon the whole!'
As the bird wings and sings,
Let us cry 'All good things
Are ours, nor soul helps flesh more, now, than flesh helps soul!'
Therefore I summon age
To grant youth's heritage,
Life's struggle having so far reached its term:
Thence shall I pass, approved
A man, for aye removed
From the developed brute; a god though in the germ.
And I shall thereupon
Take rest, ere I be gone
Once more on my adventure brave and new:
Fearless and unperplexed,
When I wage battle next,
What weapons to select, what armour to indue.
Youth ended, I shall try
My gain or loss thereby;
Leave the fire ashes, what survives is gold:
And I shall weigh the same,
Give life its praise or blame:
Young, all lay in dispute; I shall know, being old.
For note, when evening shuts,
A certain moment cuts
The deed off, calls the glory from the grey:
A whisper from the west
Shoots--'Add this to the rest,
Take it and try its worth: here dies another day.
So, still within this life,
Though lifted o'er its strife,
Let me discern, compare, pronounce at last,
This rage was right i' the main,
That acquiescence vain:
The Future I may face now I have proved the Past.
For more is not reserved
To man, with soul just nerved
To act to-morrow what he learns to-day:
Here, work enough to watch
The Master work, and catch
Hints of the proper craft, tricks of the tool's true play.
As it was better, youth
Should strive, through acts uncouth,
Toward making, than repose on aught found made:
So, better, age, exempt
From strife, should know, than tempt
Thou waitedst age: wait death nor be afraid!
Enough now, if the Right
And Good and Infinite
Be named here, as thou callest thy hand thine own
With knowledge absolute,
Subject to no dispute
From fools that crowded youth, nor let thee feel alone.
Be there, for once and all,
Severed great minds from small,
Announced to each his station in the Past!
Was I, the world arraigned,
Were they, my soul disdained,
Right? Let age speak the truth and give us peace at last!
Now, who shall arbitrate?
Ten men love what I hate,
Shun what I follow, slight what I receive;
Ten, who in ears and eyes
Match me: we all surmise,
They this thing, and I that: whom shall my soul believe?
Not on the vulgar mass
Called 'work,' must sentence pass,
Things done, that took the eye and had the price;
O'er which, from level stand,
The low world laid its hand,
Found straightway to its mind, could value in a trice:
But all, the world's coarse thumb
And finger failed to plumb,
So passed in making up the main account;
All instincts immature,
All purposes unsure,
That weighed not as his work, yet swelled the man's amount:
Thoughts hardly to be packed
Into a narrow act,
Fancies that broke through language and escaped;
All I could never be,
All, men ignored in me,
This, I was worth to God, whose wheel the pitcher shaped.
Ay, note that Potter's wheel,
That metaphor! and feel
Why time spins fast, why passive lies our clay,--
Thou, to whom fools propound,
When the wine makes its round,
'Since life fleets, all is change; the Past gone, seize to-day!'
Fool! All that is, at all,
Lasts ever, past recall;
Earth changes, but thy soul and God stand sure:
What entered into thee,
That was, is, and shall be:
Time's wheel runs back or stops: Potter and clay endure.
He fixed thee mid this dance
Of plastic circumstance,
This Present, thou, forsooth, wouldst fain arrest:
Machinery just meant
To give thy soul its bent,
Try thee and turn thee forth, sufficiently impressed.
What though the earlier grooves,
Which ran the laughing loves
Around thy base, no longer pause and press?
What though, about thy rim,
Skull-things in order grim
Grow out, in graver mood, obey the sterner stress?
Look not thou down but up!
To uses of a cup,
The festal board, lamp's flash and trumpet's peal,
The new wine's foaming flow,
The Master's lips a-glow!
Thou, heaven's consummate cup, what need'st thou with earth's wheel?
But I need, now as then,
Thee, God, who mouldest men;
And since, not even while the whirl was worst,
Did I,--to the wheel of life
With shapes and colours rife,
Bound dizzily,--mistake my end, to slake Thy thirst:
So, take and use Thy work:
Amend what flaws may lurk,
What strain o' the stuff, what warpings past the aim!
My times be in Thy hand!
Perfect the cup as planned!
Let age approve of youth, and death complete the same!
Paul Laurence Dunbar |
I am the mother of sorrows,
I am the ender of grief;
I am the bud and the blossom,
I am the late-falling leaf.
I am thy priest and thy poet,
I am thy serf and thy king;
I cure the tears of the heartsick,
When I come near they shall sing.
White are my hands as the snowdrop;
Swart are my fingers as clay;
Dark is my frown as the midnight,
Fair is my brow as the day.
Battle and war are my minions,
Doing my will as divine;
I am the calmer of passions,
Peace is a nursling of mine.
Speak to me gently or curse me,
Seek me or fly from my sight;
I am thy fool in the morning,
Thou art my slave in the night.
Down to the grave I will take thee,
Out from the noise of the strife,
Then shalt thou see me and know me--
Death, then, no longer, but life.
Then shalt thou sing at my coming,
Kiss me with passionate breath,
Clasp me and smile to have thought me
Aught save the foeman of death.
Come to me, brother, when weary,
Come when thy lonely heart swells;
I'll guide thy footsteps and lead thee
Down where the Dream Woman dwells.
Emily Dickinson |
Experience is the Angled Road
Preferred against the Mind
By -- Paradox -- the Mind itself --
Presuming it to lead
Quite Opposite -- How Complicate
The Discipline of Man --
Compelling Him to Choose Himself
His Preappointed Pain --
Walt Whitman |
HOW they are provided for upon the earth, (appearing at intervals;)
How dear and dreadful they are to the earth;
How they inure to themselves as much as to any—What a paradox appears their age;
How people respond to them, yet know them not;
How there is something relentless in their fate, all times;
How all times mischoose the objects of their adulation and reward,
And how the same inexorable price must still be paid for the same great purchase.
George (Lord) Byron |
My sister! my sweet sister! if a name
Dearer and purer were, it should be thine;
Mountains and seas divide us, but I claim
No tears, but tenderness to answer mine:
Go where I will, to me thou art the same—
A loved regret which I would not resign.
There yet are two things in my destiny,—
A world to roam through, and a home with thee.
The first were nothing—had I still the last,
It were the haven of my happiness;
But other claims and other ties thou hast,
And mine is not the wish to make them less.
A strange doom is thy father's sons's, and past
Recalling, as it lies beyond redress;
Reversed for him our grandsire's fate of yore,—
He had no rest at sea, nor I on shore.
If my inheritance of storms hath been
In other elements, and on the rocks
Of perils, overlooked or unforeseen,
I have sustained my share of worldly shocks,
The fault was mine; nor do I seek to screen
My errors with defensive paradox;
I have been cunning in mine overthrow,
The careful pilot of my proper woe.
Mine were my faults, and mine be their reward,
My whole life was a contest, since the day
That gave me being, gave me that which marred
The gift,—a fate, or will, that walked astray;
And I at times have found the struggle hard,
And thought of shaking off my bonds of clay:
But now I fain would for a time survive,
If but to see what next can well arrive.
Kingdoms and empires in my little day
I have outlived, and yet I am not old;
And when I look on this, the petty spray
Of my own years of trouble, which have rolled
Like a wild bay of breakers, melts away:
Something—I know not what—does still uphold
A spirit of slight patience;—not in vain,
Even for its own sake, do we purchase pain.
Perhaps the workings of defiance stir
Within me,—or perhaps of cold despair,
Brought on when ills habitually recur,—
Perhaps a kinder clime, or purer air,
(For even to this may change of soul refer,
And with light armour we may learn to bear,)
Have taught me a strange quiet, which was not
The chief companion of a calmer lot.
I feel almost at times as I have felt
In happy childhood; trees, and flowers, and brooks,
Which do remember me of where I dwelt,
Ere my young mind was sacrificed to books,
Come as of yore upon me, and can melt
My heart with recognition of their looks;
And even at moments I could think I see
Some living thing to love—but none like thee.
Here are the Alpine landscapes which create
A fund for contemplation;—to admire
Is a brief feeling of a trivial date;
But something worthier do such scenes inspire.
Here to be lonely is not desolate,
For much I view which I could most desire,
And, above all, a lake I can behold
Lovelier, not dearer, than our own of old.
Oh that thou wert but with me!—but I grow
The fool of my own wishes, and forget
The solitude which I have vaunted so
Has lost its praise is this but one regret;
There may be others which I less may show,—
I am not of the plaintive mood, and yet
I feel an ebb in my philosophy,
And the tide rising in my altered eye.
I did remind thee of our own dear Lake,
By the old Hall which may be mine no more.
Leman's is fair; but think not I forsake
The sweet remembrance of a dearer shore;
Sad havoc Time must with my memory make,
Ere that or thou can fade these eyes before;
Though, like all things which I have loved, they are
Resigned for ever, or divided far.
The world is all before me; I but ask
Of Nature that with which she will comply—
It is but in her summer's sun to bask,
To mingle with the quiet of her sky,
To see her gentle face without a mask
And never gaze on it with apathy.
She was my early friend, and now shall be
My sister—till I look again on thee.
I can reduce all feelings but this one;
And that I would not;—for at length I see
Such scenes as those wherein my life begun.
The earliest—even the only paths for me—
Had I but sooner learnt the crowd to shun,
I had been better than I now can be;
The passions which have torn me would have slept:
I had not suffered, and thou hadst not wept.
With false Ambition what had I to do?
Little with Love, and least of all with Fame!
And yet they came unsought, and with me grew,
And made me all which they can make—a name.
Yet this was not the end I did pursue;
Surely I once beheld a nobler aim.
But all is over—I am one the more
To baffled millions which have gone before.
And for the future, this world's future may
From me demand but little of my care;
I have outlived myself by many a day:
Having survived so many things that were;
My years have been no slumber, but the prey
Of ceaseless vigils; for I had the share
Of life which might have filled a century,
Before its fourth in time had passed me by.
And for the remnant which may be to come,
I am content; and for the past I feel
Not thankless,—for within the crowded sum
Of struggles, happiness at times would steal,
And for the present, I would not benumb
My feelings farther.
—Nor shall I conceal
That with all this I still can look around,
And worship Nature with a thought profound.
For thee, my own sweet sister, in thy heart
I know myself secure, as thou in mine;
We were and are—I am, even as thou art—
Beings who ne'er each other can resign;
It is the same, together or apart,
From life's commencement to its slow decline
We are entwined—let death come slow or fast,
The tie which bound the first endures the last!