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Best Famous Smart Poems

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Written by John Trumbull | Create an image from this poem

The Owl And The Sparrow

 In elder days, in Saturn's prime,
Ere baldness seized the head of Time,
While truant Jove, in infant pride,
Play'd barefoot on Olympus' side,
Each thing on earth had power to chatter,
And spoke the mother tongue of nature.
Each stock or stone could prate and gabble, Worse than ten labourers of Babel.
Along the street, perhaps you'd see A Post disputing with a Tree, And mid their arguments of weight, A Goose sit umpire of debate.
Each Dog you met, though speechless now, Would make his compliments and bow, And every Swine with congees come, To know how did all friends at home.
Each Block sublime could make a speech, In style and eloquence as rich, And could pronounce it and could pen it, As well as Chatham in the senate.
Nor prose alone.
--In these young times, Each field was fruitful too in rhymes; Each feather'd minstrel felt the passion, And every wind breathed inspiration.
Each Bullfrog croak'd in loud bombastic, Each Monkey chatter'd Hudibrastic; Each Cur, endued with yelping nature, Could outbark Churchill's[2] self in satire; Each Crow in prophecy delighted, Each Owl, you saw, was second-sighted, Each Goose a skilful politician, Each *** a gifted met'physician, Could preach in wrath 'gainst laughing rogues, Write Halfway-covenant Dialogues,[3] And wisely judge of all disputes In commonwealths of men or brutes.
'Twas then, in spring a youthful Sparrow Felt the keen force of Cupid's arrow: For Birds, as Æsop's tales avow, Made love then, just as men do now, And talk'd of deaths and flames and darts, And breaking necks and losing hearts; And chose from all th' aerial kind, Not then to tribes, like Jews, confined The story tells, a lovely Thrush Had smit him from a neigh'bring bush, Where oft the young coquette would play, And carol sweet her siren lay: She thrill'd each feather'd heart with love, And reign'd the Toast of all the grove.
He felt the pain, but did not dare Disclose his passion to the fair; For much he fear'd her conscious pride Of race, to noble blood allied.
Her grandsire's nest conspicuous stood, Mid loftiest branches of the wood, In airy height, that scorn'd to know Each flitting wing that waved below.
So doubting, on a point so nice He deem'd it best to take advice.
Hard by there dwelt an aged Owl, Of all his friends the gravest fowl; Who from the cares of business free, Lived, hermit, in a hollow tree; To solid learning bent his mind, In trope and syllogism he shined, 'Gainst reigning follies spent his railing; Too much a Stoic--'twas his failing.
Hither for aid our Sparrow came, And told his errand and his name, With panting breath explain'd his case, Much trembling at the sage's face; And begg'd his Owlship would declare If love were worth a wise one's care.
The grave Owl heard the weighty cause, And humm'd and hah'd at every pause; Then fix'd his looks in sapient plan, Stretch'd forth one foot, and thus began.
"My son, my son, of love beware, And shun the cheat of beauty's snare; That snare more dreadful to be in, Than huntsman's net, or horse-hair gin.
"By others' harms learn to be wise," As ancient proverbs well advise.
Each villany, that nature breeds, From females and from love proceeds.
'Tis love disturbs with fell debate Of man and beast the peaceful state: Men fill the world with war's alarms, When female trumpets sound to arms; The commonwealth of dogs delight For beauties, as for bones, to fight.
Love hath his tens of thousands slain, And heap'd with copious death the plain: Samson, with ***'s jaw to aid, Ne'er peopled thus th'infernal shade.
"Nor this the worst; for he that's dead, With love no more will vex his head.
'Tis in the rolls of fate above, That death's a certain cure for love; A noose can end the cruel smart; The lover's leap is from a cart.
But oft a living death they bear, Scorn'd by the proud, capricious fair.
The fair to sense pay no regard, And beauty is the fop's reward; They slight the generous hearts' esteem, And sigh for those, who fly from them.
Just when your wishes would prevail, Some rival bird with gayer tail, Who sings his strain with sprightlier note, And chatters praise with livelier throat, Shall charm your flutt'ring fair one down, And leave your choice, to hang or drown.
Ev'n I, my son, have felt the smart; A Pheasant won my youthful heart.
For her I tuned the doleful lay,[4] For her I watch'd the night away; In vain I told my piteous case, And smooth'd my dignity of face; In vain I cull'd the studied phrase, And sought hard words in beauty's praise.
Her, not my charms nor sense could move, For folly is the food of love.
Each female scorns our serious make, "Each woman is at heart a rake.
"[5] Thus Owls in every age have said, Since our first parent-owl was made; Thus Pope and Swift, to prove their sense, Shall sing, some twenty ages hence; Then shall a man of little fame, One ** **** sing the same.


Written by T S (Thomas Stearns) Eliot | Create an image from this poem

Gus: The Theatre Cat

 Gus is the Cat at the Theatre Door.
His name, as I ought to have told you before, Is really Asparagus.
That's such a fuss To pronounce, that we usually call him just Gus.
His coat's very shabby, he's thin as a rake, And he suffers from palsy that makes his paw shake.
Yet he was, in his youth, quite the smartest of Cats-- But no longer a terror to mice and to rats.
For he isn't the Cat that he was in his prime; Though his name was quite famous, he says, in its time.
And whenever he joins his friends at their club (Which takes place at the back of the neighbouring pub) He loves to regale them, if someone else pays, With anecdotes drawn from his palmiest days.
For he once was a Star of the highest degree-- He has acted with Irving, he's acted with Tree.
And he likes to relate his success on the Halls, Where the Gallery once gave him seven cat-calls.
But his grandest creation, as he loves to tell, Was Firefrorefiddle, the Fiend of the Fell.
"I have played," so he says, "every possible part, And I used to know seventy speeches by heart.
I'd extemporize back-chat, I knew how to gag, And I knew how to let the cat out of the bag.
I knew how to act with my back and my tail; With an hour of rehearsal, I never could fail.
I'd a voice that would soften the hardest of hearts, Whether I took the lead, or in character parts.
I have sat by the bedside of poor Little Nell; When the Curfew was rung, then I swung on the bell.
In the Pantomime season I never fell flat, And I once understudied Dick Whittington's Cat.
But my grandest creation, as history will tell, Was Firefrorefiddle, the Fiend of the Fell.
" Then, if someone will give him a toothful of gin, He will tell how he once played a part in East Lynne.
At a Shakespeare performance he once walked on pat, When some actor suggested the need for a cat.
He once played a Tiger--could do it again-- Which an Indian Colonel purused down a drain.
And he thinks that he still can, much better than most, Produce blood-curdling noises to bring on the Ghost.
And he once crossed the stage on a telegraph wire, To rescue a child when a house was on fire.
And he says: "Now then kittens, they do not get trained As we did in the days when Victoria reigned.
They never get drilled in a regular troupe, And they think they are smart, just to jump through a hoop.
" And he'll say, as he scratches himself with his claws, "Well, the Theatre's certainly not what it was.
These modern productions are all very well, But there's nothing to equal, from what I hear tell, That moment of mystery When I made history As Firefrorefiddle, the Fiend of the Fell.
"
Written by John Wilmot | Create an image from this poem

A Satyre Against Mankind

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

White

 A New Version: 1980

 What is that little black thing I see there
 in the white?
 Walt Whitman


One

Out of poverty
To begin again: 

With the color of the bride
And that of blindness,

Touch what I can
Of the quick,

Speak and then wait,
As if this light

Will continue to linger
On the threshold.
All that is near, I no longer give it a name.
Once a stone hard of hearing, Once sharpened into a knife.
.
.
Now only a chill Slipping through.
Enough glow to kneel by and ask To be tied to its tail When it goes marrying Its cousins, the stars.
Is it a cloud? If it's a cloud it will move on.
The true shape of this thought, Migrant, waning.
Something seeks someone, It bears him a gift Of himself, a bit Of snow to taste, Glimpse of his own nakedness By which to imagine the face.
On a late afternoon of snow In a dim badly-aired grocery, Where a door has just rung With a short, shrill echo, A little boy hands the old, Hard-faced woman Bending low over the counter, A shiny nickel for a cupcake.
Now only that shine, now Only that lull abides.
That your gaze Be merciful, Sister, bride Of my first hopeless insomnia.
Kind nurse, show me The place of salves.
Teach me the song That makes a man rise His glass at dusk Until a star dances in it.
Who are you? Are you anybody A moonrock would recognize? There are words I need.
They are not near men.
I went searching.
Is this a deathmarch? You bend me, bend me, Oh toward what flower! Little-known vowel, Noose big for us all.
As strange as a shepherd In the Arctic Circle.
Someone like Bo-peep.
All his sheep are white And he can't get any sleep Over lost sheep.
And he's got a flute Which says Bo-peep, Which says Poor boy, Take care of your snow-sheep.
to A.
S.
Hamilton Then all's well and white, And no more than white.
Illinois snowbound.
Indiana with one bare tree.
Michigan a storm-cloud.
Wisconsin empty of men.
There's a trap on the ice Laid there centuries ago.
The bait is still fresh.
The metal glitters as the night descends.
Woe, woe, it sings from the bough.
Our Lady, etc.
.
.
You had me hoodwinked.
I see your brand new claws.
Praying, what do I betray By desiring your purity? There are old men and women, All bandaged up, waiting At the spiked, wrought-iron gate Of the Great Eye and Ear Infirmery.
We haven't gone far.
.
.
Fear lives there too.
Five ears of my fingertips Against the white page.
What do you hear? We hear holy nothing Blindfolding itself.
It touched you once, twice, And tore like a stitch Out of a new wound.
Two What are you up to son of a gun? I roast on my heart's dark side.
What do you use as a skewer sweetheart? I use my own crooked backbone.
What do you salt yourself with loverboy? I grind the words out of my spittle.
And how will you know when you're done chump? When the half-moons on my fingernails set.
With what knife will you carve yourself smartass? The one I hide in my tongue's black boot.
Well, you can't call me a wrestler If my own dead weight has me pinned down.
Well, you can't call me a cook If the pot's got me under its cover.
Well, you can't call me a king if the flies hang their hats in my mouth.
Well, you can't call me smart, When the rain's falling my cup's in the cupboard.
Nor can you call me a saint, If I didn't err, there wouldn't be these smudges.
One has to manage as best as one can.
The poppies ate the sunset for supper.
One has to manage as best as one can.
Who stole my blue thread, the one I tied around my pinky to remember? One has to manage as best as one can.
The flea I was standing on, jumped.
One has to manage as best as one can.
I think my head went out for a walk.
One has to manage as best as one can.
This is breath, only breath, Think it over midnight! A fly weighs twice as much.
The struck match nods as it passes, But when I shout, Its true name sticks in my throat.
It has to be cold So the breath turns white, And then mother, who's fast enough To write his life on it? A song in prison And for prisoners, Made of what the condemned Have hidden from the jailers.
White--let me step aside So that the future may see you, For when this sheet is blown away, What else is left But to set the food on the table, To cut oneself a slice of bread? In an unknown year Of an algebraic century, An obscure widow Wrapped in the colors of widowhood, Met a true-blue orphan On an indeterminate street-corner.
She offered him A tiny sugar cube In the hand so wizened All the lines said: fate.
Do you take this line Stretching to infinity? I take this chipped tooth On which to cut it in half.
Do you take this circle Bounded by a single curved line? I take this breath That it cannot capture.
Then you may kiss the spot Where her bridal train last rustled.
Winter can come now, The earth narrow to a ditch-- And the sky with its castles and stone lions Above the empty plains.
The snow can fall.
.
.
What other perennials would you plant, My prodigals, my explorers Tossing and turning in the dark For those remote, finely honed bees, The December stars? Had to get through me elsewhere.
Woe to bone That stood in their way.
Woe to each morsel of flesh.
White ants In a white anthill.
The rustle of their many feet Scurrying--tiptoing too.
Gravedigger ants.
Village-idiot ants.
This is the last summoning.
Solitude--as in the beginning.
A zero burped by a bigger zero-- It's an awful licking I got.
And fear--that dead letter office.
And doubt--that Chinese shadow play.
Does anyone still say a prayer Before going to bed? White sleeplessness.
No one knows its weight.
What The White Had To Say For how could anything white be distinct from or divided from whiteness? Meister Eckhart Because I am the bullet That has gone through everyone already, I thought of you long before you thought of me.
Each one of you still keeps a blood-stained handkerchief In which to swaddle me, but it stays empty And even the wind won't remain in it long.
Cleverly you've invented name after name for me, Mixed the riddles, garbled the proverbs, Shook you loaded dice in a tin cup, But I do not answer back even to your curses, For I am nearer to you than your breath.
One sun shines on us both through a crack in the roof.
A spoon brings me through the window at dawn.
A plate shows me off to the four walls While with my tail I swing at the flies.
But there's no tail and the flies are your thoughts.
Steadily, patiently I life your arms.
I arrange them in the posture of someone drowning, And yet the sea in which you are sinking, And even this night above it, is myself.
Because I am the bullet That has baptized each one of your senses, Poems are made of our lusty wedding nights.
.
.
The joy of words as they are written.
The ear that got up at four in the morning To hear the grass grow inside a word.
Still, the most beautiful riddle has no answer.
I am the emptiness that tucks you in like a mockingbird's nest, The fingernail that scratched on your sleep's blackboard.
Take a letter: From cloud to onion.
Say: There was never any real choice.
One gaunt shadowy mother wiped our asses, The same old orphanage taught us loneliness.
Street-organ full of blue notes, I am the monkey dancing to your grinding-- And still you are afraid-and so, It's as if we had not budged from the beginning.
Time slopes.
We are falling head over heels At the speed of night.
That milk tooth You left under the pillow, it's grinning.
1970-1980 This currently out-of-print edition: Copyright ©1980 Logbridge-Rhodes, Inc.
An earlier version of White was first published by New Rivers Press in 1972.
Written by Barry Tebb | Create an image from this poem

TO THE SOUND OF VIOLINS

 Give me life at its most garish

Friday night in the Square, pink sequins dazzle

And dance on clubbers bare to the midriff

Young men in crisp shirts and pressed pants

‘Dress code smart’ gyrate to ‘Sex Bomb, Sex Bomb’

And sing along its lyrics to the throng of which I’m one

My shorts, shoulder bag and white beard

Making me stand out in the teeming swarm

Of teens and twenties this foetid Friday night

On my way from the ward where our son paces

And fulminates I throw myself into the drowning

Tide of Friday to be rescued by sheer normality.
The mill girl with her mates asks anxiously "Are you on your own? Come and join us What’s your name?" Age has driven my shyness away As I join the crowd beneath the turning purple screens Bannered ‘****** lasts for ever’ and sip unending Halves of bitter, as I circulate among the crowd, Being complete in itself and out for a good night out, A relief from factory, shop floor and market stall Running from the reality of the ward where my son Pounds the ledge with his fist and seems out to blast My very existence with words like bullets.
The need to anaesthetise the pain resurfaces Again and again.
In Leeds City Square where Pugin’s church, the Black Prince and the Central Post Office In its Edwardian grandeur are startled by the arching spumes Or white water fountains and the steel barricades of Novotel Rise from the ruins of a sixties office block.
I hurry past and join Boar Lane’s Friday crew From Keighley and Dewsbury’s mills, hesitating At the thought of being told I’m past my Sell-by-date and turned away by the West Indian Bouncers, black-suited and city-council badged Who checked my bag but smiled at ‘The Lights of Leeds’ and ‘Poets of Our Time’ tucked away as carefully as condoms- Was it guns or drugs they were after I wondered as I crossed the bare boards to the bar.
I stayed near the fruit machine which no-one played, Where the crowd was thickest, the noise drowned out the pain ‘Sex Bomb, Sex Bomb’ the chorus rang The girls joined in but the young men knew The words no more than me.
Dancing as we knew it In the sixties has gone, you do your own thing And follow the beat, hampered by my bag I just kept going, letting the music and the crowd Hold me, my camera eye moving in search, in search… What I’m searching for I don’t know Searching’s a way of life that has to grow "All of us who are patients here are searchers after truth" My son kept saying, his legs shaking from the side effects Of God-knows- what, pacing the tiny ward kitchen cum smoking room, Denouncing his ‘illegal section’ and ‘poisonous medication’ To an audience of one.
The prospect of TV, Seroxat and Diazepan fazed me: I was beyond unravelling Meltzer on differentiation Of self and object or Rosine Josef Perelberg on ‘Dreaming and Thinking’ Or even the simpler ‘Rise and Crisis of Psychoanalysis in the United States’ So I went out with West Yorkshire on a Friday night.
Nothing dramatic happened; perhaps I’m a little too used To acute wards or worse where chairs fly across rooms, Windows disintegrate and double doors are triple locked And every nurse carries a white panic button and black pager To pinpoint the moment’s crisis.
Normality was a bit of adrenaline, A wild therapy that drew me in, sanity had won the night.
"Are you on your own, love? Come and join us" People kept asking if I was alright and why I had that damned great shoulder bag.
I was introduced To three young men about to tie the knot, a handsome lothario In his midforties winked at me constantly, Dancing with practised ease with sixteen year olds Who all seemed to know him and determined to show him.
Three hours passed in as many minutes and then the crowds Disappeared to catch the last bus home.
The young aren’t As black as they are painted, one I danced with reminded me Of how Margaret would have been at sixteen With straw gold hair Yeats would have immortalised.
People seemed to guess I was haunted by an inner demon I’d tried to leave in the raftered lofts of City Square But failed to.
Girls from sixteen to twenty six kept grabbing me And making me dance and I found my teenage inhibitions Gone at sixty-one and wildly gyrated to ‘Sex Bomb, Sex Bomb’ Egged on by the throng by the fruit machine and continuous Thumbs-up signs from passing men.
I had to forgo A cheerful group of Aussies were intent on taking me clubbing "I’d get killed or turned into a pumpkin If I get home after midnight" I quipped to their delight But being there had somehow put things right.
Written by Christopher Smart | Create an image from this poem

The Pig

 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.
"
Written by Francis Thompson | Create an image from this poem

The Hound of Heaven

 I fled Him down the nights and down the days
I fled Him down the arches of the years
I fled Him down the labyrinthine ways
Of my own mind, and in the midst of tears
I hid from him, and under running laughter.
Up vistaed hopes I sped and shot precipitated Adown titanic glooms of chasme d hears From those strong feet that followed, followed after But with unhurrying chase and unperturbe d pace, Deliberate speed, majestic instancy, They beat, and a Voice beat, More instant than the feet: All things betray thee who betrayest me.
I pleaded, outlaw--wise by many a hearted casement, curtained red, trellised with inter-twining charities, For though I knew His love who followe d, Yet was I sore adread, lest having Him, I should have nought beside.
But if one little casement parted wide, The gust of his approach would clash it to.
Fear wist not to evade as Love wist to pursue.
Across the margent of the world I fled, And troubled the gold gateways of the stars, Smiting for shelter on their clange d bars, Fretted to dulcet jars and silvern chatter The pale ports of the moon.
I said to Dawn --- be sudden, to Eve --- be soon, With thy young skiey blossoms heap me over From this tremendous Lover.
Float thy vague veil about me lest He see.
I tempted all His servitors but to find My own betrayal in their constancy, In faith to Him, their fickleness to me, Their traitorous trueness and their loyal deceit.
To all swift things for swiftness did I sue, Clung to the whistling mane of every wind, But whether they swept, smoothly fleet, The long savannahs of the blue, Or whether, thunder-driven, They clanged His chariot thwart a heaven, Plashy with flying lightnings round the spurn of their feet, Fear wist not to evade as Love wist to pursue.
Still with unhurrying chase and unperturbed pace Deliberate speed, majestic instancy, Came on the following feet, and a Voice above their beat: Nought shelters thee who wilt not shelter Me.
I sought no more that after which I strayed In face of Man or Maid.
But still within the little childrens' eyes Seems something, something that replies, They at least are for me, surely for me.
But just as their young eyes grew sudden fair, With dawning answers there, Their angel plucked them from me by the hair.
Come then, ye other children, Nature's Share with me, said I, your delicate fellowship.
Let me greet you lip to lip, Let me twine with you caresses, Wantoning with our Lady Mother's vagrant tresses, Banqueting with her in her wind walled palace, Underneath her azured dai:s, Quaffing, as your taintless way is, From a chalice, lucent weeping out of the dayspring.
So it was done.
I in their delicate fellowship was one.
Drew the bolt of Nature's secrecies, I knew all the swift importings on the wilful face of skies, I knew how the clouds arise, Spume d of the wild sea-snortings.
All that's born or dies, Rose and drooped with, Made them shapers of mine own moods, or wailful, or Divine.
With them joyed and was bereaven.
I was heavy with the Even, when she lit her glimmering tapers round the day's dead sanctities.
I laughed in the morning's eyes.
I triumphed and I saddened with all weather, Heaven and I wept together, and its sweet tears were salt with mortal mine.
Against the red throb of its sunset heart, I laid my own to beat And share commingling heat.
But not by that, by that was eased my human smart.
In vain my tears were wet on Heaven's grey cheek.
For ah! we know what each other says, these things and I; In sound I speak, Their sound is but their stir, they speak by silences.
Nature, poor step-dame, cannot slake my drouth.
Let her, if she would owe me Drop yon blue-bosomed veil of sky And show me the breasts o' her tenderness.
Never did any milk of hers once bless my thirsting mouth.
Nigh and nigh draws the chase, with unperturbe d pace Deliberate speed, majestic instancy, And past those noise d feet, a Voice comes yet more fleet: Lo, nought contentst thee who content'st nought Me.
Naked, I wait thy Love's uplifted stroke.
My harness, piece by piece, thou'st hewn from me And smitten me to my knee, I am defenceless, utterly.
I slept methinks, and awoke.
And slowly gazing, find me stripped in sleep.
In the rash lustihead of my young powers, I shook the pillaring hours, and pulled my life upon me.
Grimed with smears, I stand amidst the dust o' the mounded years-- My mangled youth lies dead beneath the heap.
My days have crackled and gone up in smoke, Have puffed and burst like sunstarts on a stream.
Yeah, faileth now even dream the dreamer and the lute, the lutanist.
Even the linked fantasies in whose blossomy twist, I swung the Earth, a trinket at my wrist, Have yielded, cords of all too weak account, For Earth, with heavy grief so overplussed.
Ah! is thy Love indeed a weed, albeit an Amaranthine weed, Suffering no flowers except its own to mount? Ah! must, Designer Infinite, Ah! must thou char the wood 'ere thou canst limn with it ? My freshness spent its wavering shower i' the dust.
And now my heart is as a broken fount, Wherein tear-drippings stagnate, spilt down ever From the dank thoughts that shiver upon the sighful branches of my mind.
Such is.
What is to be ? The pulp so bitter, how shall taste the rind ? I dimly guess what Time in mists confounds, Yet ever and anon, a trumpet sounds From the hid battlements of Eternity.
Those shaken mists a space unsettle, Then round the half-glimpse d turrets, slowly wash again.
But not 'ere Him who summoneth I first have seen, enwound With glooming robes purpureal; Cypress crowned.
His name I know, and what his trumpet saith.
Whether Man's Heart or Life it be that yield thee harvest, Must thy harvest fields be dunged with rotten death ? Now of that long pursuit, Comes at hand the bruit.
That Voice is round me like a bursting Sea: And is thy Earth so marred, Shattered in shard on shard? Lo, all things fly thee, for thou fliest me.
Strange, piteous, futile thing; Wherefore should any set thee love apart? Seeing none but I makes much of Naught (He said).
And human love needs human meriting --- How hast thou merited, Of all Man's clotted clay, the dingiest clot.
Alack! Thou knowest not How little worthy of any love thou art.
Whom wilt thou find to love ignoble thee, Save me, save only me? All which I took from thee, I did'st but take, Not for thy harms, But just that thou might'st seek it in my arms.
All which thy childs mistake fancies as lost, I have stored for thee at Home.
Rise, clasp my hand, and come.
Halts by me that Footfall.
Is my gloom, after all, Shade of His hand, outstretched caressingly? Ah, Fondest, Blindest, Weakest, I am He whom thou seekest.
Thou dravest Love from thee who dravest Me.


Written by Anne Sexton | Create an image from this poem

Live

 Live or die, but don't poison everything.
.
.
Well, death's been here for a long time -- it has a hell of a lot to do with hell and suspicion of the eye and the religious objects and how I mourned them when they were made obscene by my dwarf-heart's doodle.
The chief ingredient is mutilation.
And mud, day after day, mud like a ritual, and the baby on the platter, cooked but still human, cooked also with little maggots, sewn onto it maybe by somebody's mother, the damn *****! Even so, I kept right on going on, a sort of human statement, lugging myself as if I were a sawed-off body in the trunk, the steamer trunk.
This became perjury of the soul.
It became an outright lie and even though I dressed the body it was still naked, still killed.
It was caught in the first place at birth, like a fish.
But I play it, dressed it up, dressed it up like somebody's doll.
Is life something you play? And all the time wanting to get rid of it? And further, everyone yelling at you to shut up.
And no wonder! People don't like to be told that you're sick and then be forced to watch you come down with the hammer.
Today life opened inside me like an egg and there inside after considerable digging I found the answer.
What a bargain! There was the sun, her yolk moving feverishly, tumbling her prize -- and you realize she does this daily! I'd known she was a purifier but I hadn't thought she was solid, hadn't known she was an answer.
God! It's a dream, lovers sprouting in the yard like celery stalks and better, a husband straight as a redwood, two daughters, two sea urchings, picking roses off my hackles.
If I'm on fire they dance around it and cook marshmallows.
And if I'm ice they simply skate on me in little ballet costumes.
Here, all along, thinking I was a killer, anointing myself daily with my little poisons.
But no.
I'm an empress.
I wear an apron.
My typewriter writes.
It didn't break the way it warned.
Even crazy, I'm as nice as a chocolate bar.
Even with the witches' gymnastics they trust my incalculable city, my corruptible bed.
O dearest three, I make a soft reply.
The witch comes on and you paint her pink.
I come with kisses in my hood and the sun, the smart one, rolling in my arms.
So I say Live and turn my shadow three times round to feed our puppies as they come, the eight Dalmatians we didn't drown, despite the warnings: The abort! The destroy! Despite the pails of water that waited, to drown them, to pull them down like stones, they came, each one headfirst, blowing bubbles the color of cataract-blue and fumbling for the tiny ****.
Just last week, eight Dalmatians, 3/4 of a lb.
, lined up like cord wood each like a birch tree.
I promise to love more if they come, because in spite of cruelty and the stuffed railroad cars for the ovens, I am not what I expected.
Not an Eichmann.
The poison just didn't take.
So I won't hang around in my hospital shift, repeating The Black Mass and all of it.
I say Live, Live because of the sun, the dream, the excitable gift.
Written by Algernon Charles Swinburne | Create an image from this poem

A Ballad of Dreamland

 I hid my heart in a nest of roses,
Out of the sun's way, hidden apart;
In a softer bed then the soft white snow's is,
Under the roses I hid my heart.
Why would it sleep not? why should it start, When never a leaf of the rose-tree stirred? What made sleep flutter his wings and part? Only the song of a secret bird.
Lie still, I said, for the wind's wing closes, And mild leaves muffle the keen sun's dart; Lie still, for the wind on the warm seas dozes, And the wind is unquieter yet than thou art.
Does a thought in thee still as a thorn's wound smart? Does the fang still fret thee of hope deferred? What bids the lips of thy sleep dispart? Only the song of a secret bird.
The green land's name that a charm encloses, It never was writ in the traveller's chart, And sweet on its trees as the fruit that grows is, It never was sold in the merchant's mart.
The swallows of dreams through its dim fields dart, And sleep's are the tunes in its tree-tops heard; No hound's note wakens the wildwood hart, Only the song of a secret bird.
ENVOI In the world of dreams I have chosen my part, To sleep for a season and hear no word Of true love's truth or of light love's art, Only the song of a secret bird.
Written by Gregory Corso | Create an image from this poem

Gregory Corso

 Budger of history Brake of time You Bomb
 Toy of universe Grandest of all snatched sky I cannot hate you
 Do I hate the mischievous thunderbolt the jawbone of an ***
 The bumpy club of One Million B.
C.
the mace the flail the axe Catapult Da Vinci tomahawk Cochise flintlock Kidd dagger Rathbone Ah and the sad desparate gun of Verlaine Pushkin Dillinger Bogart And hath not St.
Michael a burning sword St.
George a lance David a sling Bomb you are as cruel as man makes you and you're no crueller than cancer All Man hates you they'd rather die by car-crash lightning drowning Falling off a roof electric-chair heart-attack old age old age O Bomb They'd rather die by anything but you Death's finger is free-lance Not up to man whether you boom or not Death has long since distributed its categorical blue I sing thee Bomb Death's extravagance Death's jubilee Gem of Death's supremest blue The flyer will crash his death will differ with the climbor who'll fall to die by cobra is not to die by bad pork Some die by swamp some by sea and some by the bushy-haired man in the night O there are deaths like witches of Arc Scarey deaths like Boris Karloff No-feeling deaths like birth-death sadless deaths like old pain Bowery Abandoned deaths like Capital Punishment stately deaths like senators And unthinkable deaths like Harpo Marx girls on Vogue covers my own I do not know just how horrible Bombdeath is I can only imagine Yet no other death I know has so laughable a preview I scope a city New York City streaming starkeyed subway shelter Scores and scores A fumble of humanity High heels bend Hats whelming away Youth forgetting their combs Ladies not knowing what to do with their shopping bags Unperturbed gum machines Yet dangerous 3rd rail Ritz Brothers from the Bronx caught in the A train The smiling Schenley poster will always smile Impish death Satyr Bomb Bombdeath Turtles exploding over Istanbul The jaguar's flying foot soon to sink in arctic snow Penguins plunged against the Sphinx The top of the Empire state arrowed in a broccoli field in Sicily Eiffel shaped like a C in Magnolia Gardens St.
Sophia peeling over Sudan O athletic Death Sportive Bomb the temples of ancient times their grand ruin ceased Electrons Protons Neutrons gathering Hersperean hair walking the dolorous gulf of Arcady joining marble helmsmen entering the final ampitheater with a hymnody feeling of all Troys heralding cypressean torches racing plumes and banners and yet knowing Homer with a step of grace Lo the visiting team of Present the home team of Past Lyre and tube together joined Hark the hotdog soda olive grape gala galaxy robed and uniformed commissary O the happy stands Ethereal root and cheer and boo The billioned all-time attendance The Zeusian pandemonium Hermes racing Owens The Spitball of Buddha Christ striking out Luther stealing third Planeterium Death Hosannah Bomb Gush the final rose O Spring Bomb Come with thy gown of dynamite green unmenace Nature's inviolate eye Before you the wimpled Past behind you the hallooing Future O Bomb Bound in the grassy clarion air like the fox of the tally-ho thy field the universe thy hedge the geo Leap Bomb bound Bomb frolic zig and zag The stars a swarm of bees in thy binging bag Stick angels on your jubilee feet wheels of rainlight on your bunky seat You are due and behold you are due and the heavens are with you hosanna incalescent glorious liaison BOMB O havoc antiphony molten cleft BOOM Bomb mark infinity a sudden furnace spread thy multitudinous encompassed Sweep set forth awful agenda Carrion stars charnel planets carcass elements Corpse the universe tee-hee finger-in-the-mouth hop over its long long dead Nor From thy nimbled matted spastic eye exhaust deluges of celestial ghouls From thy appellational womb spew birth-gusts of of great worms Rip open your belly Bomb from your belly outflock vulturic salutations Battle forth your spangled hyena finger stumps along the brink of Paradise O Bomb O final Pied Piper both sun and firefly behind your shock waltz God abandoned mock-nude beneath His thin false-talc's apocalypse He cannot hear thy flute's happy-the-day profanations He is spilled deaf into the Silencer's warty ear His Kingdom an eternity of crude wax Clogged clarions untrumpet Him Sealed angels unsing Him A thunderless God A dead God O Bomb thy BOOM His tomb That I lean forward on a desk of science an astrologer dabbling in dragon prose half-smart about wars bombs especially bombs That I am unable to hate what is necessary to love That I can't exist in a world that consents a child in a park a man dying in an electric-chair That I am able to laugh at all things all that I know and do not know thus to conceal my pain That I say I am a poet and therefore love all man knowing my words to be the acquainted prophecy of all men and my unwords no less an acquaintanceship That I am manifold a man pursuing the big lies of gold or a poet roaming in bright ashes or that which I imagine myself to be a shark-toothed sleep a man-eater of dreams I need not then be all-smart about bombs Happily so for if I felt bombs were caterpillars I'd doubt not they'd become butterflies There is a hell for bombs They're there I see them there They sit in bits and sing songs mostly German songs And two very long American songs and they wish there were more songs especially Russian and Chinese songs and some more very long American songs Poor little Bomb that'll never be an Eskimo song I love thee I want to put a lollipop in thy furcal mouth A wig of Goldilocks on thy baldy bean and have you skip with me Hansel and Gretel along the Hollywoodian screen O Bomb in which all lovely things moral and physical anxiously participate O fairylike plucked from the grandest universe tree O piece of heaven which gives both mountain and anthill a sun I am standing before your fantastic lily door I bring you Midgardian roses Arcadian musk Reputed cosmetics from the girls of heaven Welcome me fear not thy opened door nor thy cold ghost's grey memory nor the pimps of indefinite weather their cruel terrestial thaw Oppenheimer is seated in the dark pocket of Light Fermi is dry in Death's Mozambique Einstein his mythmouth a barnacled wreath on the moon-squid's head Let me in Bomb rise from that pregnant-rat corner nor fear the raised-broom nations of the world O Bomb I love you I want to kiss your clank eat your boom You are a paean an acme of scream a lyric hat of Mister Thunder O resound thy tanky knees BOOM BOOM BOOM BOOM BOOM BOOM ye skies and BOOM ye suns BOOM BOOM ye moons ye stars BOOM nights ye BOOM ye days ye BOOM BOOM BOOM ye winds ye clouds ye rains go BANG ye lakes ye oceans BING Barracuda BOOM and cougar BOOM Ubangi BOOM orangutang BING BANG BONG BOOM bee bear baboon ye BANG ye BONG ye BING the tail the fin the wing Yes Yes into our midst a bomb will fall Flowers will leap in joy their roots aching Fields will kneel proud beneath the halleluyahs of the wind Pinkbombs will blossom Elkbombs will perk their ears Ah many a bomb that day will awe the bird a gentle look Yet not enough to say a bomb will fall or even contend celestial fire goes out Know that the earth will madonna the Bomb that in the hearts of men to come more bombs will be born magisterial bombs wrapped in ermine all beautiful and they'll sit plunk on earth's grumpy empires fierce with moustaches of gold
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