Christopher Smart |
In ev'ry age, and each profession,
Men err the most by prepossession;
But when the thing is clearly shown,
And fairly stated, fully known,
We soon applaud what we deride,
And penitence succeeds to pride.
A certain Baron on a day
Having a mind to show away,
Invited all the wits and wags,
Foot, Massey, Shuter, Yates, and Skeggs,
And built a large commodious stage,
For the Choice Spirits of the age;
But above all, among the rest,
There came a Genius who profess'd
To have a curious trick in store,
Which never was perform'd before.
Thro' all the town this soon got air,
And the whole house was like a fair;
But soon his entry as he made,
Without a prompter, or parade,
'Twas all expectance, all suspense,
And silence gagg'd the audience.
He hid his head behind his wig,
With with such truth took off* a Pig, [imitated]
All swore 'twas serious, and no joke,
For doubtless underneath his cloak,
He had conceal'd some grunting elf,
Or was a real hog himself.
A search was made, no pig was found--
With thund'ring claps the seats resound,
And pit and box and galleries roar,
With--"O rare! bravo!" and "Encore!"
Old Roger Grouse, a country clown,
Who yet knew something of the town,
Beheld the mimic and his whim,
And on the morrow challeng'd him.
Declaring to each beau and bunter
That he'd out-grunt th'egregious grunter.
The morrow came--the crowd was greater--
But prejudice and rank ill-nature
Usurp'd the minds of men and wenches,
Who came to hiss, and break the benches.
The mimic took his usual station,
And squeak'd with general approbation.
"Again, encore! encore!" they cry--
'Twas quite the thing--'twas very high;
Old Grouse conceal'd, amidst the racket,
A real Pig berneath his jacket--
Then forth he came--and with his nail
He pinch'd the urchin by the tail.
The tortur'd Pig from out his throat,
Produc'd the genuine nat'ral note.
All bellow'd out--"'Twas very sad!
Sure never stuff was half so bad!
That like a Pig!"--each cry'd in scoff,
"Pshaw! Nonsense! Blockhead! Off! Off! Off!"
The mimic was extoll'd, and Grouse
Was hiss'd and catcall'd from the house.
"Soft ye, a word before I go,"
Quoth honest Hodge--and stooping low
Produc'd the Pig, and thus aloud
Bespoke the stupid, partial crowd:
"Behold, and learn from this poor creature,
How much you Critics know of Nature.
Robert Frost |
As I went down the hill along the wall
There was a gate I had leaned at for the view
And had just turned from when I first saw you
As you came up the hill.
We did that day was mingle great and small
Footprints in summer dust as if we drew
The figure of our being less that two
But more than one as yet.
Pointed the decimal off with one deep thrust.
And all the time we talked you seemed to see
Something down there to smile at in the dust.
(Oh, it was without prejudice to me!)
Afterward I went past what you had passed
Before we met and you what I had passed.
Claude McKay |
No more for you the city's thorny ways,
The ugly corners of the Negro belt;
The miseries and pains of these harsh days
By you will never, never again be felt.
No more, if still you wander, will you meet
With nights of unabating bitterness;
They cannot reach you in your safe retreat,
The city's hate, the city's prejudice!
'Twas sudden--but your menial task is done,
The dawn now breaks on you, the dark is over,
The sea is crossed, the longed-for port is won;
Farewell, oh, fare you well! my friend and lover.
Anthony Hecht |
On the summer road that ran by our front porch
Lizards and snakes came out to sun.
It was hot as a stove out there, enough to scorch
A buzzard's foot.
Still, it was fun
To lie in the dust and spy on them.
Near but remote,
They snoozed in the carriage ruts, a smile
In the set of the jaw, a fierce pulse in the throat
Working away like Jack Doyle's after he'd run the mile.
Aunt Martha had an unfair prejudice
Against them (as well as being cold
) She was pretty inflexible in this,
Being a spinster and all, and old.
So we used to slip them into her knitting box.
In the evening she'd bring in things to mend
And a nice surprise would slide out from under the socks.
It broadened her life, as Joe said.
Joe was my friend.
But we never did it again after the day
Of the big wind when you could hear the trees
Creak like rocking chairs.
She was looking away
Off, and kept saying, "Sweet Jesus, please
Don't let him near me.
He's as like as twins.
He can crack us like lice with his fingernail.
I can see him plain as a pikestaff.
Look how he grins
And swings the scaly horror of his folded tail.
Sir Walter Scott |
TO mute and to material things
New life revolving summer brings;
The genial call dead Nature hears,
And in her glory reappears.
But oh, my Country's wintry state
What second spring shall renovate?
What powerful call shall bid arise
The buried warlike and the wise;
The mind that thought for Britain's weal,
The hand that grasp'd the victor steel?
The vernal sun new life bestows
Even on the meanest flower that blows;
But vainly, vainly may he shine
Where glory weeps o'er NELSON'S shrine;
And vainly pierce the solemn gloom
That shrouds, O PITT, thy hallow'd tomb!
Deep graved in every British heart,
O never let those names depart!
Say to your sons,--Lo, here his grave,
Who victor died on Gadite wave!
To him, as to the burning levin,
Short, bright, resistless course was given.
Where'er his country's foes were found
Was heard the fated thunder's sound,
Till burst the bolt on yonder shore,
Roll'd, blazed, destroy'd--and was no more.
Nor mourn ye less his perish'd worth,
Who bade the conqueror go forth,
And launch'd that thunderbolt of war
On Egypt, Hafnia, Trafalgar;
Who, born to guide such high emprise,
For Britain's weal was early wise;
Alas! to whom the Almighty gave,
For Britain's sins, an early grave!
--His worth, who in his mightiest hour
A bauble held the pride of power,
Spurn'd at the sordid lust of pelf,
And served his Albion for herself;
Who, when the frantic crowd amain
Strain'd at subjection's bursting rein,
O'er their wild mood full conquest gain'd,
The pride he would not crush, restrain'd,
Show'd their fierce zeal a worthier cause,
And brought the freeman's arm to aid the freeman's laws.
Hadst thou but lived, though stripp'd of power,
A watchman on the lonely tower,
Thy thrilling trump had roused the land,
When fraud or danger were at hand;
By thee, as by the beacon-light,
Our pilots had kept course aright;
As some proud column, though alone,
Thy strength had propp'd the tottering throne.
Now is the stately column broke,
The beacon-light is quench'd in smoke,
The trumpet's silver voice is still,
The warder silent on the hill!
O think, how to his latest day,
When Death, just hovering, claim'd his prey,
With Palinure's unalter'd mood
Firm at his dangerous post he stood;
Each call for needful rest repell'd,
With dying hand the rudder held,
Till in his fall with fateful sway
The steerage of the realm gave way.
Then--while on Britain's thousand plains
One polluted church remains,
Whose peaceful bells ne'er sent around
The bloody tocsin's maddening sound,
But still upon the hallow'd day
Convoke the swains to praise and pray;
While faith and civil peace are dear,
Grace this cold marble with a tear:--
He who preserved them, PITT, lies here!
Nor yet suppress the generous sigh,
Because his rival slumbers nigh;
Nor be thy Requiescat dumb
Lest it be said o'er Fox's tomb.
For talents mourn, untimely lost,
When best employ'd, and wanted most;
Mourn genius high, and lore profound,
And wit that loved to play, not wound;
And all the reasoning powers divine
To penetrate, resolve, combine;
And feelings keen, and fancy's glow--
They sleep with him who sleeps below:
And, if thou mourn'st they could not save
From error him who owns this grave,
Be every harsher thought suppress'd,
And sacred be the last long rest.
Here, where the end of earthly things
Lays heroes, patriots, bards, and kings;
Where stiff the hand, and still the tongue,
Of those who fought, and spoke, and sung;
Here, where the fretted vaults prolong
The distant notes of holy song,
As if some angel spoke agen,
'All peace on earth, good-will to men';
If ever from an English heart,
O, here let prejudice depart,
And, partial feeling cast aside,
Record that Fox a Briton died!
When Europe crouch'd to France's yoke,
And Austria bent, and Prussia broke,
And the firm Russian's purpose brave
Was barter'd by a timorous slave--
Even then dishonour's peace he spurn'd,
The sullied olive-branch return'd,
Stood for his country's glory fast,
And nail'd her colours to the mast!
Heaven, to reward his firmness, gave
A portion in this honour'd grave;
And ne'er held marble in its trust
Of two such wondrous men the dust.
With more than mortal powers endow'd,
How high they soar'd above the crowd!
Theirs was no common party race,
Jostling by dark intrigue for place;
Like fabled gods, their mighty war
Shook realms and nations in its jar;
Beneath each banner proud to stand,
Look'd up the noblest of the land,
Till through the British world were known
The names of PITT and Fox alone.
Spells of such force no wizard grave
E'er framed in dark Thessalian cave,
Though his could drain the ocean dry,
And force the planets from the sky.
These spells are spent, and, spent with these,
The wine of life is on the lees.
Genius, and taste, and talent gone,
For ever tomb'd beneath the stone,
Where--taming thought to human pride!--
The mighty chiefs sleep side by side.
Drop upon Fox's grave the tear,
'Twill trickle to his rival's bier;
O'er PITT'S the mournful requiem sound,
And Fox's shall the notes rebound.
The solemn echo seems to cry,
'Here let their discord with them die.
Speak not for those a separate doom
Whom fate made Brothers in the tomb;
But search the land of living men,
Where wilt thou find their like agen?'
Robert Browning |
"Why?" Because all I haply can and do,
All that I am now, all I hope to be,--
Whence comes it save from fortune setting free
Body and soul the purpose to pursue,
God traced for both? If fetters, not a few,
Of prejudice, convention, fall from me,
These shall I bid men--each in his degree
Also God-guided--bear, and gayly, too?
But little do or can the best of us:
That little is achieved through Liberty.
Who, then, dares hold, emancipated thus,
His fellow shall continue bound? Not I,
Who live, love, labour freely, nor discuss
A brother's right to freedom.
That is "Why.
Edwin Arlington Robinson |
She fears him, and will always ask
What fated her to choose him;
She meets in his engaging mask
All reason to refuse him.
But what she meets and what she fears
Are less than are the downward years,
Drawn slowly to the foamless weirs
Of age, were she to lose him.
Between a blurred sagacity
That once had power to sound him,
And Love, that will not let him be
The Judas that she found him,
Her pride assuages her almost
As if it were alone the cost--
He sees that he will not be lost,
And waits, and looks around him.
A sense of ocean and old trees
Envelops and allures him;
Tradition, touching all he sees,
Beguiles and reassures him.
And all her doubts of what he says
Are dimmed by what she knows of days,
Till even Prejudice delays
And fades, and she secures him.
The falling leaf inaugurates
The reign of her confusion;
The pounding wave reverberates
The dirge of her illusion.
And Home, where passion lived and died,
Becomes a place where she can hide,
While all the town and harbor side
Vibrate with her seclusion.
We tell you, tapping on our brows,
The story as it should be,
As if the story of a house
Were told, or ever could be.
We'll have no kindly veil between
Her visions and those we have seen--
As if we guessed what hers have been,
Or what they are or would be.
Meanwhile we do no harm, for they
That with a god have striven,
Not hearing much of what we say,
Take what the god has given.
Though like waves breaking it may be,
Or like a changed familiar tree,
Or like a stairway to the sea,
Where down the blind are driven.
Gerard Manley Hopkins |
Wild air, world-mothering air,
Nestling me everywhere,
That each eyelash or hair
Girdles; goes home betwixt
The fleeciest, frailest-flixed
Snowflake; that 's fairly mixed
With, riddles, and is rife
In every least thing's life;
This needful, never spent,
And nursing element;
My more than meat and drink,
My meal at every wink;
This air, which, by life's law,
My lung must draw and draw
Now but to breathe its praise,
Minds me in many ways
Of her who not only
Gave God's infinity
Dwindled to infancy
Welcome in womb and breast,
Birth, milk, and all the rest
But mothers each new grace
That does now reach our race—
Merely a woman, yet
Whose presence, power is
Great as no goddess's
Was deemèd, dreamèd; who
This one work has to do—
Let all God's glory through,
God's glory which would go
Through her and from her flow
Off, and no way but so.
I say that we are wound
With mercy round and round
As if with air: the same
Is Mary, more by name.
She, wild web, wondrous robe,
Mantles the guilty globe,
Since God has let dispense
Her prayers his providence:
Nay, more than almoner,
The sweet alms' self is her
And men are meant to share
Her life as life does air.
If I have understood,
She holds high motherhood
Towards all our ghostly good
And plays in grace her part
About man's beating heart,
Laying, like air's fine flood,
The deathdance in his blood;
Yet no part but what will
Be Christ our Saviour still.
Of her flesh he took flesh:
He does take fresh and fresh,
Though much the mystery how,
Not flesh but spirit now
And makes, O marvellous!
New Nazareths in us,
Where she shall yet conceive
Him, morning, noon, and eve;
New Bethlems, and he born
There, evening, noon, and morn—
Bethlem or Nazareth,
Men here may draw like breath
More Christ and baffle death;
Who, born so, comes to be
New self and nobler me
In each one and each one
More makes, when all is done,
Both God's and Mary's Son.
Again, look overhead
How air is azurèd;
O how! nay do but stand
Where you can lift your hand
Skywards: rich, rich it laps
Round the four fingergaps.
Yet such a sapphire-shot,
Charged, steepèd sky will not
Yea, mark you this:
It does no prejudice.
The glass-blue days are those
When every colour glows,
Each shape and shadow shows.
Blue be it: this blue heaven
The seven or seven times seven
Hued sunbeam will transmit
Perfect, not alter it.
Or if there does some soft,
On things aloof, aloft,
Bloom breathe, that one breath more
Earth is the fairer for.
Whereas did air not make
This bath of blue and slake
His fire, the sun would shake,
A blear and blinding ball
With blackness bound, and all
The thick stars round him roll
Flashing like flecks of coal,
Quartz-fret, or sparks of salt,
In grimy vasty vault.
So God was god of old:
A mother came to mould
Those limbs like ours which are
What must make our daystar
Much dearer to mankind;
Whose glory bare would blind
Or less would win man's mind.
Through her we may see him
Made sweeter, not made dim,
And her hand leaves his light
Sifted to suit our sight.
Be thou then, O thou dear
Mother, my atmosphere;
My happier world, wherein
To wend and meet no sin;
Above me, round me lie
Fronting my froward eye
With sweet and scarless sky;
Stir in my ears, speak there
Of God's love, O live air,
Of patience, penance, prayer:
World-mothering air, air wild,
Wound with thee, in thee isled,
Fold home, fast fold thy child.
Ben Jonson |
— TO COURTLING.
I grieve not, COURTLING, thou art started up
A chamber-critic, and doth dine, and sup
At madam's table, where thou mak'st all wit
Go high, or low, as thou wilt value it.
'Tis not thy judgment breeds thy prejudice,
Thy person only, Courtling, is the vice.
William Cowper |
Thus heav'nward all things tend.
For all were once
Perfect, and all must be at length restor'd.
So God has greatly purpos'd; who would else
In his dishonour'd works himself endure
Dishonour, and be wrong'd without redress.
Haste then, and wheel away a shatter'd world,
Ye slow-revolving seasons! We would see
(A sight to which our eyes are strangers yet)
A world that does not dread and hate his laws,
And suffer for its crime: would learn how fair
The creature is that God pronounces good,
How pleasant in itself what pleases him.
Here ev'ry drop of honey hides a sting;
Worms wind themselves into our sweetest flow'rs,
And ev'n the joy, that haply some poor heart
Derives from heav'n, pure as the fountain is,
Is sully'd in the stream; taking a taint
From touch of human lips, at best impure.
Oh for a world in principle as chaste
As this is gross and selfish! over which
Custom and prejudice shall bear no sway,
That govern all things here, should'ring aside
The meek and modest truth, and forcing her
To seek a refuge from the tongue of strife
In nooks obscure, far from the ways of men;
Where violence shall never lift the sword,
Nor cunning justify the proud man's wrong,
Leaving the poor no remedy but tears;
Where he that fills an office shall esteem
The occasion it presents of doing good
More than the perquisite; where law shall speak
Seldom, and never but as wisdom prompts,
And equity; not jealous more to guard
A worthless form, than to decide aright;
Where fashion shall not sanctify abuse,
Nor smooth good-breeding (supplemental grace)
With lean performance ape the work of love.
He is the happy man, whose life ev'n now
Shows somewhat of that happier life to come:
Who, doom'd to an obscure but tranquil state,
Is pleas'd with it, and, were he free to choose,
Would make his fate his choice; whom peace, the fruit
Of virtue, and whom virtue, fruit of faith,
Prepare for happiness; bespeak him one
Content indeed to sojourn while he must
Below the skies, but having there his home.
The world o'eriooks him in her busy search
Of objects more illustrious in her view;
And occupied as earnestly as she,
Though more sublimely, he o'erlooks the world.
She scorns his pleasures, for she knows them not;
He seeks not hers, for he has prov'd them vain.
He cannot skim the ground like summer birds
Pursuing gilded flies, and such he deems
Her honours, her emoluments, her joys.
Therefore in contemplation is his bliss,
Whose pow'r is such, that whom she lifts from earth
She makes familiar with a heav'n unseen,
And shows him glories yet to be reveal'd.
So life glides smoothly and by stealth away,
More golden than that age of fabled gold
Renown'd in ancient song; not vex'd with care
Or stain'd with guilt, beneficent, approv'd
Of God and man, and peaceful in its end.
So glide my life away! and so at last
My share of duties decently fulfill'd,
May some disease, not tardy to perform
Its destin'd office, yet with gentle stroke,
Dismiss me weary to a safe retreat,
Beneath a turf that I have often trod.
It shall not grieve me, then, that once, when call'd
To dress a sofa with the flow'rs of verse,
I play'd awhile, obedient to the fair,
With that light task; but soon, to please her more,
Whom flow'rs alone I knew would little please,
Let fall th' unfinish'd wreath, and rov'd for fruit;
Rov'd far, and gather'd much: some harsh, 'tis true,
Pick'd from the thorns and briars of reproof,
But wholesome, well digested; grateful some
To palates that can taste immortal truth,
Insipid else, and sure to be despis'd.
But all is in his hand whose praise I seek.
In vain the poet sings, and the world hears,
If he regard not, though divine the theme.
'Tis not in artful measures, in the chime
And idle tinkling of a minstrel's lyre,
To charm his ear whose eye is on the heart;
Whose frown can disappoint the proudest strain,
Whose approbation--prosper ev'n mine.