Oscar Wilde |
To drift with every passion till my soul
Is a stringed lute on which all winds can play,
Is it for this that I have given away
Mine ancient wisdom, and austere control?
Methinks my life is a twice-written scroll
Scrawled over on some boyish holiday
With idle songs for pipe and virelay,
Which do but mar the secret of the whole.
Surely there was a time I might have trod
The sunlit heights, and from life's dissonance
Struck one clear chord to reach the ears of God.
Is that time dead? lo! with a little rod
I did but touch the honey of romance—
And must I lose a soul's inheritance?
Rudyard Kipling |
Thy face is far from this our war,
Our call and counter-cry,
I shall not find Thee quick and kind,
Nor know Thee till I die,
Enough for me in dreams to see
And touch Thy garments' hem:
Thy feet have trod so near to God
I may not follow them.
Through wantonness if men profess
They weary of Thy parts,
E'en let them die at blasphemy
And perish with their arts;
But we that love, but we that prove
Thine excellence august,
While we adore discover more
Thee perfect, wise, and just.
Since spoken word Man's Spirit stirred
Beyond his belly-need,
What is is Thine of fair design
In thought and craft and deed;
Each stroke aright of toil and fight,
That was and that shall be,
And hope too high, wherefore we die,
Has birth and worth in Thee.
Who holds by Thee hath Heaven in fee
To gild his dross thereby,
And knowledge sure that he endure
A child until he die --
For to make plain that man's disdain
Is but new Beauty's birth --
For to possess in loneliness
The joy of all the earth.
As Thou didst teach all lovers speech
And Life all mystery,
So shalt Thou rule by every school
Till love and longing die,
Who wast or yet the Lights were set,
A whisper in the Void,
Who shalt be sung through planets young
When this is clean destroyed.
Beyond the bounds our staring rounds,
Across the pressing dark,
The children wise of outer skies
Look hitherward and mark
A light that shifts, a glare that drifts,
Rekindling thus and thus,
Not all forlorn, for Thou hast borne
Strange tales to them of us.
Time hath no tide but must abide
The servant of Thy will;
Tide hath no time, for to Thy rhyme
The ranging stars stand still --
Regent of spheres that lock our fears,
Our hopes invisible,
Oh 'twas certes at Thy decrees
We fashioned Heaven and Hell!
Pure Wisdom hath no certain path
That lacks thy morning-eyne,
And captains bold by Thee controlled
Most like to Gods design;
Thou art the Voice to kingly boys
To lift them through the fight,
And Comfortress of Unsuccess,
To give the dead good-night --
A veil to draw 'twixt God His Law
And Man's infirmity,
A shadow kind to dumb and blind
The shambles where we die;
A rule to trick th' arithmetic
Too base of leaguing odds --
The spur of trust, the curb of lust,
Thou handmaid of the Gods!
O Charity, all patiently
Abiding wrack and scaith!
O Faith, that meets ten thousand cheats
Yet drops no jot of faith!
Devil and brute Thou dost transmute
To higher, lordlier show,
Who art in sooth that lovely Truth
The careless angels know!
Thy face is far from this our war,
Our call and counter-cry,
I may not find Thee quick and kind,
Nor know Thee till I die.
Yet may I look with heart unshook
On blow brought home or missed --
Yet may I hear with equal ear
The clarions down the List;
Yet set my lance above mischance
And ride the barriere --
Oh, hit or miss, how little 'tis,
My Lady is not there!
Alan Seeger |
First, London, for its myriads; for its height,
Manhattan heaped in towering stalagmite;
But Paris for the smoothness of the paths
That lead the heart unto the heart's delight.
Fair loiterer on the threshold of those days
When there's no lovelier prize the world displays
Than, having beauty and your twenty years,
You have the means to conquer and the ways,
And coming where the crossroads separate
And down each vista glories and wonders wait,
Crowning each path with pinnacles so fair
You know not which to choose, and hesitate --
Oh, go to Paris.
In the midday gloom
Of some old quarter take a little room
That looks off over Paris and its towers
From Saint Gervais round to the Emperor's Tomb, --
So high that you can hear a mating dove
Croon down the chimney from the roof above,
See Notre Dame and know how sweet it is
To wake between Our Lady and our love.
And have a little balcony to bring
Fair plants to fill with verdure and blossoming,
That sparrows seek, to feed from pretty hands,
And swallows circle over in the Spring.
There of an evening you shall sit at ease
In the sweet month of flowering chestnut-trees,
There with your little darling in your arms,
Your pretty dark-eyed Manon or Louise.
And looking out over the domes and towers
That chime the fleeting quarters and the hours,
While the bright clouds banked eastward back of them
Blush in the sunset, pink as hawthorn flowers,
You cannot fail to think, as I have done,
Some of life's ends attained, so you be one
Who measures life's attainment by the hours
That Joy has rescued from oblivion.
Come out into the evening streets.
The green light lessens in the west.
The city laughs and liveliest her fervid pulse of pleasure beats.
The belfry on Saint Severin strikes eight across the smoking eaves:
Come out under the lights and leaves
to the Reine Blanche on Saint Germain.
Now crowded diners fill the floor of brasserie and restaurant.
Shrill voices cry "L'Intransigeant," and corners echo "Paris-Sport.
Where rows of tables from the street are screened with shoots of box and bay,
The ragged minstrels sing and play and gather sous from those that eat.
And old men stand with menu-cards, inviting passers-by to dine
On the bright terraces that line the Latin Quarter boulevards.
But, having drunk and eaten well, 'tis pleasant then to stroll along
And mingle with the merry throng that promenades on Saint Michel.
Here saunter types of every sort.
The shoddy jostle with the chic:
Turk and Roumanian and Greek; student and officer and sport;
Slavs with their peasant, Christ-like heads,
and courtezans like powdered moths,
And peddlers from Algiers, with cloths
bright-hued and stitched with golden threads;
And painters with big, serious eyes go rapt in dreams, fantastic shapes
In corduroys and Spanish capes and locks uncut and flowing ties;
And lovers wander two by two, oblivious among the press,
And making one of them no less, all lovers shall be dear to you:
All laughing lips you move among, all happy hearts that, knowing what
Makes life worth while, have wasted not the sweet reprieve of being young.
"Comment ca va!" "Mon vieux!" "Mon cher!"
Friends greet and banter as they pass.
'Tis sweet to see among the mass comrades and lovers everywhere,
A law that's sane, a Love that's free, and men of every birth and blood
Allied in one great brotherhood of Art and Joy and Poverty.
The open cafe-windows frame loungers at their liqueurs and beer,
And walking past them one can hear fragments of Tosca and Boheme.
And in the brilliant-lighted door of cinemas the barker calls,
And lurid posters paint the walls with scenes of Love and crime and war.
But follow past the flaming lights, borne onward with the stream of feet,
Where Bullier's further up the street is marvellous on Thursday nights.
Here all Bohemia flocks apace; you could not often find elsewhere
So many happy heads and fair assembled in one time and place.
Under the glare and noise and heat the galaxy of dancing whirls,
Smokers, with covered heads, and girls dressed in the costume of the street.
From tables packed around the wall the crowds that drink and frolic there
Spin serpentines into the air far out over the reeking hall,
That, settling where the coils unroll, tangle with pink and green and blue
The crowds that rag to "Hitchy-koo" and boston to the "Barcarole".
Here Mimi ventures, at fifteen, to make her debut in romance,
And join her sisters in the dance and see the life that they have seen.
Her hair, a tight hat just allows to brush beneath the narrow brim,
Docked, in the model's present whim, `frise' and banged above the brows.
Uncorseted, her clinging dress with every step and turn betrays,
In pretty and provoking ways her adolescent loveliness,
As guiding Gaby or Lucile she dances, emulating them
In each disturbing stratagem and each lascivious appeal.
Each turn a challenge, every pose an invitation to compete,
Along the maze of whirling feet the grave-eyed little wanton goes,
And, flaunting all the hue that lies in childish cheeks and nubile waist,
She passes, charmingly unchaste, illumining ignoble eyes.
But now the blood from every heart leaps madder through abounding veins
As first the fascinating strains of "El Irresistible" start.
Caught in the spell of pulsing sound, impatient elbows lift and yield
The scented softnesses they shield to arms that catch and close them round,
Surrender, swift to be possessed, the silken supple forms beneath
To all the bliss the measures breathe and all the madness they suggest.
Crowds congregate and make a ring.
Four deep they stand and strain to see
The tango in its ecstasy of glowing lives that clasp and cling.
Lithe limbs relaxed, exalted eyes fastened on vacancy, they seem
To float upon the perfumed stream of some voluptuous Paradise,
Or, rapt in some Arabian Night, to rock there, cradled and subdued,
In a luxurious lassitude of rhythm and sensual delight.
And only when the measures cease and terminate the flowing dance
They waken from their magic trance and join the cries that clamor "Bis!" .
Midnight adjourns the festival.
The couples climb the crowded stair,
And out into the warm night air go singing fragments of the ball.
Close-folded in desire they pass, or stop to drink and talk awhile
In the cafes along the mile from Bullier's back to Montparnasse:
The "Closerie" or "La Rotonde", where smoking, under lamplit trees,
Sit Art's enamored devotees, chatting across their `brune' and `blonde'.
Make one of them and come to know sweet Paris -- not as many do,
Seeing but the folly of the few, the froth, the tinsel, and the show --
But taking some white proffered hand that from Earth's barren every day
Can lead you by the shortest way into Love's florid fairyland.
And that divine enchanted life that lurks under Life's common guise --
That city of romance that lies within the City's toil and strife --
Shall, knocking, open to your hands, for Love is all its golden key,
And one's name murmured tenderly the only magic it demands.
And when all else is gray and void in the vast gulf of memory,
Green islands of delight shall be all blessed moments so enjoyed:
When vaulted with the city skies, on its cathedral floors you stood,
And, priest of a bright brotherhood, performed the mystic sacrifice,
At Love's high altar fit to stand, with fire and incense aureoled,
The celebrant in cloth of gold with Spring and Youth on either hand.
Have ye gazed on its grandeur
Or stood where it stands
With opal and amber
Adorning the lands,
And orcharded domes
Of the hue of all flowers?
Sweet melody roams
Through its blossoming bowers,
Sweet bells usher in from its belfries the train of the honey-sweet hour.
A city resplendent,
Fulfilled of good things,
On its ramparts are pendent
The bucklers of kings.
Broad banners unfurled
Are afloat in its air.
The lords of the world
Look for harborage there.
None finds save he comes as a bridegroom, having roses and vine in his hair.
'Tis the city of Lovers,
There many paths meet.
Blessed he above others,
With faltering feet,
Who past its proud spires
Intends not nor hears
The noise of its lyres
Grow faint in his ears!
Men reach it through portals of triumph, but leave through a postern of tears.
It was thither, ambitious,
We came for Youth's right,
When our lips yearned for kisses
As moths for the light,
When our souls cried for Love
As for life-giving rain
Wan leaves of the grove,
Withered grass of the plain,
And our flesh ached for Love-flesh beside it with bitter, intolerable pain.
Under arbor and trellis,
Full of flutes, full of flowers,
What mad fortunes befell us,
What glad orgies were ours!
In the days of our youth,
In our festal attire,
When the sweet flesh was smooth,
When the swift blood was fire,
And all Earth paid in orange and purple to pavilion the bed of Desire!
Edgar Allan Poe |
Romance, who loves to nod and sing
With drowsy head and folded wing
Among the green leaves as they shake
Far down within some shadowy lake,
To me a painted paroquet
Hath been—most familiar bird—
Taught me my alphabet to say,
To lisp my very earliest word
While in the wild wood I did lie,
A child—with a most knowing eye.
Of late, eternal condor years
So shake the very Heaven on high
With tumult as they thunder by,
I have no time for idle cares
Through gazing on the unquiet sky;
And when an hour with calmer wings
Its down upon my spirit flings,
That little time with lyre and rhyme
To while away—forbidden things—
My heart would feel to be a crime
Unless it trembled with the strings.
Ralph Waldo Emerson |
BURLY dozing humble-bee
Where thou art is clime for me.
Let them sail for Porto Rique
Far-off heats through seas to seek;
I will follow thee alone 5
Thou animated torrid-zone!
Zigzag steerer desert cheerer
Let me chase thy waving lines;
Keep me nearer me thy hearer
Singing over shrubs and vines.
Insect lover of the sun
Joy of thy dominion!
Sailor of the atmosphere;
Swimmer through the waves of air;
Voyager of light and noon; 15
Epicurean of June;
Wait I prithee till I come
Within earshot of thy hum ¡ª
All without is martyrdom.
When the south wind in May days 20
With a net of shining haze
Silvers the horizon wall
And with softness touching all
Tints the human countenance
With a color of romance 25
And infusing subtle heats
Turns the sod to violets
Thou in sunny solitudes
Rover of the underwoods
The green silence dost displace 30
With thy mellow breezy bass.
Hot midsummer's petted crone
Sweet to me thy drowsy tone
Tells of countless sunny hours
Long days and solid banks of flowers; 35
Of gulfs of sweetness without bound
In Indian wildernesses found;
Of Syrian peace immortal leisure
Firmest cheer and bird-like pleasure.
Aught unsavory or unclean 40
Hath my insect never seen;
But violets and bilberry bells
Maple-sap and daffodels
Grass with green flag half-mast high
Succory to match the sky 45
Columbine with horn of honey
Scented fern and agrimony
Clover catchfly adder's-tongue
And brier-roses dwelt among;
All beside was unknown waste 50
All was picture as he passed.
Wiser far than human seer
Seeing only what is fair
Sipping only what is sweet 55
Thou dost mock at fate and care
Leave the chaff and take the wheat.
When the fierce northwestern blast
Cools sea and land so far and fast
Thou already slumberest deep; 60
Woe and want thou canst outsleep;
Want and woe which torture us
Thy sleep makes ridiculous.
Robert William Service |
The same old sprint in the morning, boys, to the same old din and smut;
Chained all day to the same old desk, down in the same old rut;
Posting the same old greasy books, catching the same old train:
Oh, how will I manage to stick it all, if I ever get back again?
We've bidden good-bye to life in a cage, we're finished with pushing a pen;
They're pumping us full of bellicose rage, they're showing us how to be men.
We're only beginning to find ourselves; we're wonders of brawn and thew;
But when we go back to our Sissy jobs, -- oh, what are we going to do?
For shoulders curved with the counter stoop will be carried erect and square;
And faces white from the office light will be bronzed by the open air;
And we'll walk with the stride of a new-born pride, with a new-found joy in our eyes,
Scornful men who have diced with death under the naked skies.
And when we get back to the dreary grind, and the bald-headed boss's call,
Don't you think that the dingy window-blind, and the dingier office wall,
Will suddenly melt to a vision of space, of violent, flame-scarred night?
oh, the joy of the danger-thrill, and oh, the roar of the fight!
Don't you think as we peddle a card of pins the counter will fade away,
And again we'll be seeing the sand-bag rims, and the barb-wire's misty grey?
As a flat voice asks for a pound of tea, don't you fancy we'll hear instead
The night-wind moan and the soothing drone of the packet that's overhead?
Don't you guess that the things we're seeing now will haunt us through all the years;
Heaven and hell rolled into one, glory and blood and tears;
Life's pattern picked with a scarlet thread, where once we wove with a grey
To remind us all how we played our part in the shock of an epic day?
Oh, we're booked for the Great Adventure now, we're pledged to the Real Romance;
We'll find ourselves or we'll lose ourselves somewhere in giddy old France;
We'll know the zest of the fighter's life; the best that we have we'll give;
We'll hunger and thirst; we'll die .
but first -- we'll live; by the gods, we'll live!
We'll breathe free air and we'll bivouac under the starry sky;
We'll march with men and we'll fight with men, and we'll see men laugh and die;
We'll know such joy as we never dreamed; we'll fathom the deeps of pain:
But the hardest bit of it all will be -- when we come back home again.
For some of us smirk in a chiffon shop, and some of us teach in a school;
Some of us help with the seat of our pants to polish an office stool;
The merits of somebody's soap or jam some of us seek to explain,
But all of us wonder what we'll do when we have to go back again.
Denise Duhamel |
At first she was sure it was just a bit of dried strawberry juice,
or a fleck of her mother's red nail polish that had flaked off
when she'd patted her daughter to sleep the night before.
But as she scrubbed, Snow felt a bump, something festering
under the surface, like a tapeworm curled up and living
in her left cheek.
Doc the Dwarf was no dermatologist
and besides Snow doesn't get to meet him in this version
because the mint leaves the tall doctor puts over her face
only make matters worse.
Snow and the Queen hope
against hope for chicken pox, measles, something
that would be gone quickly and not plague Snow's whole
If only freckles were red, she cried, if only
concealer really worked.
Soon came the pus, the yellow dots,
multiplying like pins in a pin cushion.
the greasy hair.
The Queen gave her daughter a razor
for her legs and a stick of underarm deodorant.
doodled through her teenage years—"Snow + ?" in Magic
Markered hearts all over her notebooks.
She was an average
student, a daydreamer who might have been a scholar
if she'd only applied herself.
She liked sappy music
and romance novels.
She liked pies and cake
instead of fruit.
The Queen remained the fairest in the land.
It was hard on Snow, having such a glamorous mom.
She rebelled by wearing torn shawls and baggy gowns.
Her mother would sometimes say, "Snow darling,
why don't you pull back your hair? Show those pretty eyes?"
or "Come on, I'll take you shopping.
staying in her safe room, looking out of her window
at the deer leaping across the lawn.
Or she'd practice
her dance moves with invisible princes.
And the Queen,
busy being Queen, didn't like to push it.
Rupert Brooke |
The Day that Youth had died,
There came to his grave-side,
In decent mourning, from the country’s ends,
Those scatter’d friends
Who had lived the boon companions of his prime,
And laughed with him and sung with him and wasted,
In feast and wine and many-crown’d carouse,
The days and nights and dawnings of the time
When Youth kept open house,
Nor left untasted
Aught of his high emprise and ventures dear,
No quest of his unshar’d—
All these, with loitering feet and sad head bar’d,
Followed their old friend’s bier.
Folly went first,
With muffled bells and coxcomb still revers’d;
And after trod the bearers, hat in hand—
Laughter, most hoarse, and Captain Pride with tanned
And martial face all grim, and fussy Joy
Who had to catch a train, and Lust, poor, snivelling boy;
These bore the dear departed.
Behind them, broken-hearted,
Came Grief, so noisy a widow, that all said,
“Had he but wed
Her elder sister Sorrow, in her stead!”
And by her, trying to soothe her all the time,
The fatherless children, Colour, Tune, and Rhyme
(The sweet lad Rhyme), ran all-uncomprehending.
Then, at the way’s sad ending,
Round the raw grave they stay’d.
Old Wisdom read,
In mumbling tone, the Service for the Dead.
There stood Romance,
The furrowing tears had mark’d her roug?d cheek;
Poor old Conceit, his wonder unassuaged;
Dead Innocency’s daughter, Ignorance;
And shabby, ill-dress’d Generosity;
And Argument, too full of woe to speak;
Passion, grown portly, something middle-aged;
And Friendship—not a minute older, she;
Impatience, ever taking out his watch;
Faith, who was deaf, and had to lean, to catch
Old Wisdom’s endless drone.
Beauty was there,
Pale in her black; dry-eyed; she stood alone.
Poor maz’d Imagination; Fancy wild;
Ardour, the sunlight on his greying hair;
Contentment, who had known Youth as a child
And never seen him since.
And Spring came too,
Dancing over the tombs, and brought him flowers—
She did not stay for long.
And Truth, and Grace, and all the merry crew,
The laughing Winds and Rivers, and lithe Hours;
And Hope, the dewy-eyed; and sorrowing Song;—
Yes, with much woe and mourning general,
At dead Youth’s funeral,
Even these were met once more together, all,
Who erst the fair and living Youth did know;
All, except only Love.
Love had died long ago.
David Lehman |
The woman said yes she would go to Australia with him
Unless he heard wrong and she said Argentina
Where they could learn the tango and pursue the widows
Of Nazi war criminals unrepentant to the end.
But no, she said Australia.
She'd been born in New Zealand.
The difference between the two places was the difference
Between a hamburger and a chocolate malted, she said.
In the candy store across from the elementary school,
They planned their tryst.
She said Australia, which meant
She was willing to go to bed with him, and this
Was before her husband's coronary
At a time when a woman didn't take off her underpants
If she didn't like you.
She said Australia,
And he saw last summer's seashell collection
In a plastic bag on a shelf in the mud room
With last summer's sand.
The cycle of sexual captivity
Beginning in romance and ending in adultery
Was now in the late middle phases, the way America
Had gone from barbarism to amnesia without
A period of high decadence, which meant something,
But what? A raft on the rapids? The violinist
At the gate? Oh, absolute is the law of biology.
For the pornography seminar, what should she wear?
Robert William Service |
In Paris on a morn of May
I sent a radio transalantic
To catch a steamer on the way,
But oh the postal fuss was frantic;
They sent me here, they sent me there,
They were so courteous yet so canny;
Then as I wilted in despair
A Frenchman flipped me on the fanny.
'Twas only juts a gentle pat,
Yet oh what sympathy behind it!
I don't let anyone do that,
But somehow then I didn't mind it.
He seemed my worry to divine,
With kindly smile, that foreign mannie,
And as we stood in waiting line
With tender touch he tapped my fanny.
It brought a ripple of romance
Into that postal bureau dreary;
He gave me such a smiling glance
That somehow I felt gay and cheery.
For information on my case
The postal folk searched nook and cranny;
He gently tapped, with smiling face,
His reassurance on my fanny.
So I'll go back to Tennessee,
And they will ask: "How have you spent your
Brief holiday in gay Paree?"
But I'll not speak of my adventure.
Oh say I'm spectacled and grey,
Oh say I'm sixty and a grannie -
But say that morn of May
A Frenchman flipped me on the fanny!