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Best Famous Society Poems

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Written by Aleister Crowley | Create an image from this poem

A Birthday

 "Aug.
" 10, 1911.
Full moon to-night; and six and twenty years Since my full moon first broke from angel spheres! A year of infinite love unwearying --- No circling seasons, but perennial spring! A year of triumph trampling through defeat, The first made holy and the last made sweet By this same love; a year of wealth and woe, Joy, poverty, health, sickness --- all one glow In the pure light that filled our firmament Of supreme silence and unbarred extent, Wherein one sacrament was ours, one Lord, One resurrection, one recurrent chord, One incarnation, one descending dove, All these being one, and that one being Love! You sent your spirit into tunes; my soul Yearned in a thousand melodies to enscroll Its happiness: I left no flower unplucked That might have graced your garland.
I induct Tragedy, comedy, farce, fable, song, Each longing a little, each a little long, But each aspiring only to express Your excellence and my unworthiness --- Nay! but my worthiness, since I was sense And spirit too of that same excellence.
So thus we solved the earth's revolving riddle: I could write verse, and you could play the fiddle, While, as for love, the sun went through the signs, And not a star but told him how love twines A wreath for every decanate, degree, Minute and second, linked eternally In chains of flowers that never fading are, Each one as sempiternal as a star.
Let me go back to your last birthday.
Then I was already your one man of men Appointed to complete you, and fulfil From everlasting the eternal will.
We lay within the flood of crimson light In my own balcony that August night, And conjuring the aright and the averse Created yet another universe.
We worked together; dance and rite and spell Arousing heaven and constraining hell.
We lived together; every hour of rest Was honied from your tiger-lily breast.
We --- oh what lingering doubt or fear betrayed My life to fate! --- we parted.
Was I afraid? I was afraid, afraid to live my love, Afraid you played the serpent, I the dove, Afraid of what I know not.
I am glad Of all the shame and wretchedness I had, Since those six weeks have taught me not to doubt you, And also that I cannot live without you.
Then I came back to you; black treasons rear Their heads, blind hates, deaf agonies of fear, Cruelty, cowardice, falsehood, broken pledges, The temple soiled with senseless sacrileges, Sickness and poverty, a thousand evils, Concerted malice of a million devils; --- You never swerved; your high-pooped galleon Went marvellously, majestically on Full-sailed, while every other braver bark Drove on the rocks, or foundered in the dark.
Then Easter, and the days of all delight! God's sun lit noontide and his moon midnight, While above all, true centre of our world, True source of light, our great love passion-pearled Gave all its life and splendour to the sea Above whose tides stood our stability.
Then sudden and fierce, no monitory moan, Smote the mad mischief of the great cyclone.
How far below us all its fury rolled! How vainly sulphur tries to tarnish gold! We lived together: all its malice meant Nothing but freedom of a continent! It was the forest and the river that knew The fact that one and one do not make two.
We worked, we walked, we slept, we were at ease, We cried, we quarrelled; all the rocks and trees For twenty miles could tell how lovers played, And we could count a kiss for every glade.
Worry, starvation, illness and distress? Each moment was a mine of happiness.
Then we grew tired of being country mice, Came up to Paris, lived our sacrifice There, giving holy berries to the moon, July's thanksgiving for the joys of June.
And you are gone away --- and how shall I Make August sing the raptures of July? And you are gone away --- what evil star Makes you so competent and popular? How have I raised this harpy-hag of Hell's Malice --- that you are wanted somewhere else? I wish you were like me a man forbid, Banned, outcast, nice society well rid Of the pair of us --- then who would interfere With us? --- my darling, you would now be here! But no! we must fight on, win through, succeed, Earn the grudged praise that never comes to meed, Lash dogs to kennel, trample snakes, put bit In the mule-mouths that have such need of it, Until the world there's so much to forgive in Becomes a little possible to live in.
God alone knows if battle or surrender Be the true courage; either has its splendour.
But since we chose the first, God aid the right, And damn me if I fail you in the fight! God join again the ways that lie apart, And bless the love of loyal heart to heart! God keep us every hour in every thought, And bring the vessel of our love to port! These are my birthday wishes.
Dawn's at hand, And you're an exile in a lonely land.
But what were magic if it could not give My thought enough vitality to live? Do not then dream this night has been a loss! All night I have hung, a god, upon the cross; All night I have offered incense at the shrine; All night you have been unutterably mine, Miner in the memory of the first wild hour When my rough grasp tore the unwilling flower From your closed garden, mine in every mood, In every tense, in every attitude, In every possibility, still mine While the sun's pomp and pageant, sign to sign, Stately proceeded, mine not only so In the glamour of memory and austral glow Of ardour, but by image of my brow Stronger than sense, you are even here and now Miner, utterly mine, my sister and my wife, Mother of my children, mistress of my life! O wild swan winging through the morning mist! The thousand thousand kisses that we kissed, The infinite device our love devised If by some chance its truth might be surprised, Are these all past? Are these to come? Believe me, There is no parting; they can never leave me.
I have built you up into my heart and brain So fast that we can never part again.
Why should I sing you these fantastic psalms When all the time I have you in my arms? Why? 'tis the murmur of our love that swells Earth's dithyrambs and ocean's oracles.
But this is dawn; my soul shall make its nest Where your sighs swing from rapture into rest Love's thurible, your tiger-lily breast.


Written by Emily Dickinson | Create an image from this poem

Never for Society

 Never for Society
He shall seek in vain --
Who His own acquaintance
Cultivate -- Of Men
Wiser Men may weary --
But the Man within

Never knew Satiety --
Better entertain
Than could Border Ballad --
Or Biscayan Hymn --
Neither introduction
Need You -- unto Him --
Written by Walt Whitman | Create an image from this poem

Thoughts

 1
OF these years I sing, 
How they pass and have pass’d, through convuls’d pains as through parturitions; 
How America illustrates birth, muscular youth, the promise, the sure fulfillment, the
 Absolute
 Success, despite of people—Illustrates evil as well as good; 
How many hold despairingly yet to the models departed, caste, myths, obedience,
 compulsion, and
 to infidelity; 
How few see the arrived models, the Athletes, the Western States—or see freedom or
 spirituality—or hold any faith in results,
(But I see the Athletes—and I see the results of the war glorious and
 inevitable—and
 they again leading to other results;) 
How the great cities appear—How the Democratic masses, turbulent, wilful, as I love
 them; 
How the whirl, the contest, the wrestle of evil with good, the sounding and resounding,
 keep on
 and on; 
How society waits unform’d, and is for awhile between things ended and things begun; 
How America is the continent of glories, and of the triumph of freedom, and of the
 Democracies,
 and of the fruits of society, and of all that is begun;
And how The States are complete in themselves—And how all triumphs and glories are
 complete in themselves, to lead onward, 
And how these of mine, and of The States, will in their turn be convuls’d, and serve
 other
 parturitions and transitions, 
And how all people, sights, combinations, the Democratic masses, too, serve—and how
 every
 fact, and war itself, with all its horrors, serves, 
And how now, or at any time, each serves the exquisite transition of death.
2 OF seeds dropping into the ground—of birth, Of the steady concentration of America, inland, upward, to impregnable and swarming places, Of what Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio and the rest, are to be, Of what a few years will show there in Nebraska, Colorado, Nevada, and the rest; (Or afar, mounting the Northern Pacific to Sitka or Aliaska;) Of what the feuillage of America is the preparation for—and of what all sights, North, South, East and West, are; Of This Union, soak’d, welded in blood—of the solemn price paid—of the unnamed lost, ever present in my mind; —Of the temporary use of materials, for identity’s sake, Of the present, passing, departing—of the growth of completer men than any yet, Of myself, soon, perhaps, closing up my songs by these shores, Of California, of Oregon—and of me journeying to live and sing there; Of the Western Sea—of the spread inland between it and the spinal river, Of the great pastoral area, athletic and feminine, of all sloping down there where the fresh free giver, the mother, the Mississippi flows, Of future women there—of happiness in those high plateaus, ranging three thousand miles, warm and cold; Of mighty inland cities yet unsurvey’d and unsuspected, (as I am also, and as it must be;) Of the new and good names—of the modern developments—of inalienable homesteads; Of a free and original life there—of simple diet and clean and sweet blood; Of litheness, majestic faces, clear eyes, and perfect physique there; Of immense spiritual results, future years, far west, each side of the Anahuacs; Of these leaves, well understood there, (being made for that area;) Of the native scorn of grossness and gain there; (O it lurks in me night and day—What is gain, after all, to savageness and freedom?)
Written by Elizabeth Bishop | Create an image from this poem

Questions of Travel

 There are too many waterfalls here; the crowded streams 
hurry too rapidly down to the sea, 
and the pressure of so many clouds on the mountaintops 
makes them spill over the sides in soft slow-motion, 
turning to waterfalls under our very eyes.
--For if those streaks, those mile-long, shiny, tearstains, aren't waterfalls yet, in a quick age or so, as ages go here, they probably will be.
But if the streams and clouds keep travelling, travelling, the mountains look like the hulls of capsized ships, slime-hung and barnacled.
Think of the long trip home.
Should we have stayed at home and thought of here? Where should we be today? Is it right to be watching strangers in a play in this strangest of theatres? What childishness is it that while there's a breath of life in our bodies, we are determined to rush to see the sun the other way around? The tiniest green hummingbird in the world? To stare at some inexplicable old stonework, inexplicable and impenetrable, at any view, instantly seen and always, always delightful? Oh, must we dream our dreams and have them, too? And have we room for one more folded sunset, still quite warm? But surely it would have been a pity not to have seen the trees along this road, really exaggerated in their beauty, not to have seen them gesturing like noble pantomimists, robed in pink.
--Not to have had to stop for gas and heard the sad, two-noted, wooden tune of disparate wooden clogs carelessly clacking over a grease-stained filling-station floor.
(In another country the clogs would all be tested.
Each pair there would have identical pitch.
) --A pity not to have heard the other, less primitive music of the fat brown bird who sings above the broken gasoline pump in a bamboo church of Jesuit baroque: three towers, five silver crosses.
--Yes, a pity not to have pondered, blurr'dly and inconclusively, on what connection can exist for centuries between the crudest wooden footwear and, careful and finicky, the whittled fantasies of wooden footwear and, careful and finicky, the whittled fantasies of wooden cages.
--Never to have studied history in the weak calligraphy of songbirds' cages.
--And never to have had to listen to rain so much like politicians' speeches: two hours of unrelenting oratory and then a sudden golden silence in which the traveller takes a notebook, writes: "Is it lack of imagination that makes us come to imagined places, not just stay at home? Or could Pascal have been not entirely right about just sitting quietly in one's room? Continent, city, country, society: the choice is never wide and never free.
And here, or there .
.
.
No.
Should we have stayed at home, wherever that may be?"
Written by Charles Baudelaire | Create an image from this poem

The Ghost

 Down the street as I was drifting with the city's human tide, 
Came a ghost, and for a moment walked in silence by my side -- 
Now my heart was hard and bitter, and a bitter spirit he, 
So I felt no great aversion to his ghostly company.
Said the Shade: `At finer feelings let your lip in scorn be curled, `Self and Pelf', my friend, has ever been the motto for the world.
' And he said: `If you'd be happy, you must clip your fancy's wings, Stretch your conscience at the edges to the size of earthly things; Never fight another's battle, for a friend can never know When he'll gladly fly for succour to the bosom of the foe.
At the power of truth and friendship let your lip in scorn be curled -- `Self and Pelf', my friend, remember, is the motto of the world.
`Where Society is mighty, always truckle to her rule; Never send an `i' undotted to the teacher of a school; Only fight a wrong or falsehood when the crowd is at your back, And, till Charity repay you, shut the purse, and let her pack; At the fools who would do other let your lip in scorn be curled, `Self and Pelf', my friend, remember, that's the motto of the world.
`Ne'er assail the shaky ladders Fame has from her niches hung, Lest unfriendly heels above you grind your fingers from the rung; Or the fools who idle under, envious of your fair renown, Heedless of the pain you suffer, do their worst to shake you down.
At the praise of men, or censure, let your lip in scorn be curled, `Self and Pelf', my friend, remember, is the motto of the world.
`Flowing founts of inspiration leave their sources parched and dry, Scalding tears of indignation sear the hearts that beat too high; Chilly waters thrown upon it drown the fire that's in the bard; And the banter of the critic hurts his heart till it grows hard.
At the fame your muse may offer let your lip in scorn be curled, `Self and Pelf', my friend, remember, that's the motto of the world.
`Shun the fields of love, where lightly, to a low and mocking tune, Strong and useful lives are ruined, and the broken hearts are strewn.
Not a farthing is the value of the honest love you hold; Call it lust, and make it serve you! Set your heart on nought but gold.
At the bliss of purer passions let your lip in scorn be curled -- `Self and Pelf', my friend, shall ever be the motto of the world.
' Then he ceased and looked intently in my face, and nearer drew; But a sudden deep repugnance to his presence thrilled me through; Then I saw his face was cruel, by the look that o'er it stole, Then I felt his breath was poison, by the shuddering of my soul, Then I guessed his purpose evil, by his lip in sneering curled, And I knew he slandered mankind, by my knowledge of the world.
But he vanished as a purer brighter presence gained my side -- `Heed him not! there's truth and friendship in this wondrous world,' she cried, And of those who cleave to virtue in their climbing for renown, Only they who faint or falter from the height are shaken down.
At a cynic's baneful teaching let your lip in scorn be curled! `Brotherhood and Love and Honour!' is the motto for the world.
'
Written by Walt Whitman | Create an image from this poem

Song of the Redwood-Tree

 1
A CALIFORNIA song! 
A prophecy and indirection—a thought impalpable, to breathe, as air; 
A chorus of dryads, fading, departing—or hamadryads departing; 
A murmuring, fateful, giant voice, out of the earth and sky, 
Voice of a mighty dying tree in the Redwood forest dense.
Farewell, my brethren, Farewell, O earth and sky—farewell, ye neighboring waters; My time has ended, my term has come.
2 Along the northern coast, Just back from the rock-bound shore, and the caves, In the saline air from the sea, in the Mendocino country, With the surge for bass and accompaniment low and hoarse, With crackling blows of axes, sounding musically, driven by strong arms, Riven deep by the sharp tongues of the axes—there in the Redwood forest dense, I heard the mighty tree its death-chant chanting.
The choppers heard not—the camp shanties echoed not; The quick-ear’d teamsters, and chain and jack-screw men, heard not, As the wood-spirits came from their haunts of a thousand years, to join the refrain; But in my soul I plainly heard.
Murmuring out of its myriad leaves, Down from its lofty top, rising two hundred feet high, Out of its stalwart trunk and limbs—out of its foot-thick bark, That chant of the seasons and time—chant, not of the past only, but the future.
3 You untold life of me, And all you venerable and innocent joys, Perennial, hardy life of me, with joys, ’mid rain, and many a summer sun, And the white snows, and night, and the wild winds; O the great patient, rugged joys! my soul’s strong joys, unreck’d by man; (For know I bear the soul befitting me—I too have consciousness, identity, And all the rocks and mountains have—and all the earth;) Joys of the life befitting me and brothers mine, Our time, our term has come.
Nor yield we mournfully, majestic brothers, We who have grandly fill’d our time; With Nature’s calm content, and tacit, huge delight, We welcome what we wrought for through the past, And leave the field for them.
For them predicted long, For a superber Race—they too to grandly fill their time, For them we abdicate—in them ourselves, ye forest kings! In them these skies and airs—these mountain peaks—Shasta—Nevadas, These huge, precipitous cliffs—this amplitude—these valleys grand—Yosemite, To be in them absorb’d, assimilated.
4 Then to a loftier strain, Still prouder, more ecstatic, rose the chant, As if the heirs, the Deities of the West, Joining, with master-tongue, bore part.
Not wan from Asia’s fetishes, Nor red from Europe’s old dynastic slaughter-house, (Area of murder-plots of thrones, with scent left yet of wars and scaffolds every where,) But come from Nature’s long and harmless throes—peacefully builded thence, These virgin lands—Lands of the Western Shore, To the new Culminating Man—to you, the Empire New, You, promis’d long, we pledge, we dedicate.
You occult, deep volitions, You average Spiritual Manhood, purpose of all, pois’d on yourself—giving, not taking law, You Womanhood divine, mistress and source of all, whence life and love, and aught that comes from life and love, You unseen Moral Essence of all the vast materials of America, (age upon age, working in Death the same as Life,) You that, sometimes known, oftener unknown, really shape and mould the New World, adjusting it to Time and Space, You hidden National Will, lying in your abysms, conceal’d, but ever alert, You past and present purposes, tenaciously pursued, may-be unconscious of yourselves, Unswerv’d by all the passing errors, perturbations of the surface; You vital, universal, deathless germs, beneath all creeds, arts, statutes, literatures, Here build your homes for good—establish here—These areas entire, Lands of the Western Shore, We pledge, we dedicate to you.
For man of you—your characteristic Race, Here may be hardy, sweet, gigantic grow—here tower, proportionate to Nature, Here climb the vast, pure spaces, unconfined, uncheck’d by wall or roof, Here laugh with storm or sun—here joy—here patiently inure, Here heed himself, unfold himself (not others’ formulas heed)—here fill his time, To duly fall, to aid, unreck’d at last, To disappear, to serve.
Thus, on the northern coast, In the echo of teamsters’ calls, and the clinking chains, and the music of choppers’ axes, The falling trunk and limbs, the crash, the muffled shriek, the groan, Such words combined from the Redwood-tree—as of wood-spirits’ voices ecstatic, ancient and rustling, The century-lasting, unseen dryads, singing, withdrawing, All their recesses of forests and mountains leaving, From the Cascade range to the Wasatch—or Idaho far, or Utah, To the deities of the Modern henceforth yielding, The chorus and indications, the vistas of coming humanity—the settlements, features all, In the Mendocino woods I caught.
5 The flashing and golden pageant of California! The sudden and gorgeous drama—the sunny and ample lands; The long and varied stretch from Puget Sound to Colorado south; Lands bathed in sweeter, rarer, healthier air—valleys and mountain cliffs; The fields of Nature long prepared and fallow—the silent, cyclic chemistry; The slow and steady ages plodding—the unoccupied surface ripening—the rich ores forming beneath; At last the New arriving, assuming, taking possession, A swarming and busy race settling and organizing every where; Ships coming in from the whole round world, and going out to the whole world, To India and China and Australia, and the thousand island paradises of the Pacific; Populous cities—the latest inventions—the steamers on the rivers—the railroads—with many a thrifty farm, with machinery, And wool, and wheat, and the grape—and diggings of yellow gold.
6 But more in you than these, Lands of the Western Shore! (These but the means, the implements, the standing-ground,) I see in you, certain to come, the promise of thousands of years, till now deferr’d, Promis’d, to be fulfill’d, our common kind, the Race.
The New Society at last, proportionate to Nature, In Man of you, more than your mountain peaks, or stalwart trees imperial, In Woman more, far more, than all your gold, or vines, or even vital air.
Fresh come, to a New World indeed, yet long prepared, I see the Genius of the Modern, child of the Real and Ideal, Clearing the ground for broad humanity, the true America, heir of the past so grand, To build a grander future.
Written by Emily Dickinson | Create an image from this poem

Society for me my misery

 Society for me my misery
Since Gift of Thee --


Written by Marge Piercy | Create an image from this poem

Visiting a Dead Man on a Summer Day

 In flat America, in Chicago, 
Graceland cemetery on the German North Side.
Forty feet of Corinthian candle celebrate Pullman embedded lonely raisin in a cake of concrete.
The Potter Palmers float in an island parthenon.
Barons of hogfat, railroads and wheat are postmarked with angels and lambs.
But the Getty tomb: white, snow patterned in a triangle of trees swims dappled with leaf shadow, sketched light arch within arch delicate as fingernail moons.
The green doors should not be locked.
Doors of fern and flower should not be shut.
Louis Sullivan, I sit on your grave.
It is not now good weather for prophets.
Sun eddies on the steelsmoke air like sinking honey.
On the inner green door of the Getty tomb (a thighbone's throw from your stone) a marvel of growing, blooming, thrusting into seed: how all living wreathe and insinuate in the circlet of repetition that never repeats: ever new birth never rebirth.
Each tide pool microcosm spiraling from your hand.
Sullivan, you had another five years when your society would give you work.
Thirty years with want crackling in your hands.
Thirty after years with cities flowering and turning grey in your beard.
All poets are unemployed nowadays.
My country marches in its sleep.
The past structures a heavy mausoleum hiding its iron frame in masonry.
Men burn like grass while armies grow.
Thirty years in the vast rumbling gut of this society you stormed to be used, screamed no louder than any other breaking voice.
The waste of a good man bleeds the future that's come in Chicago, in flat America, where the poor still bleed from the teeth, housed in sewers and filing cabinets, where prophets may spit into the wind till anger sleets their eyes shut, where this house that dances the seasons and the braid of all living and the joy of a man making his new good thing is strange, irrelevant as a meteor, in Chicago, in flat America in this year of our burning.
Written by Stephen Dunn | Create an image from this poem

The Sudden Light And The Trees

 My neighbor was a biker, a pusher, a dog
and wife beater.
In bad dreams I killed him and once, in the consequential light of day, I called the Humane Society about Blue, his dog.
They took her away and I readied myself, a baseball bat inside my door.
That night I hear his wife scream and I couldn't help it, that pathetic relief; her again, not me.
It would be years before I'd understand why victims cling and forgive.
I plugged in the Sleep-Sound and it crashed like the ocean all the way to sleep.
One afternoon I found him on the stoop, a pistol in his hand, waiting, he said, for me.
A sparrow had gotten in to our common basement.
Could he have permission to shoot it? The bullets, he explained, might go through the floor.
I said I'd catch it, wait, give me a few minutes and, clear-eyed, brilliantly afraid, I trapped it with a pillow.
I remember how it felt when I got my hand, and how it burst that hand open when I took it outside, a strength that must have come out of hopelessness and the sudden light and the trees.
And I remember the way he slapped the gun against his open palm, kept slapping it, and wouldn't speak.
Written by Langston Hughes | Create an image from this poem

Advertisement For The Waldorf-Astoria

 Fine living .
.
.
a la carte? Come to the Waldorf-Astoria! LISTEN HUNGRY ONES! Look! See what Vanity Fair says about the new Waldorf-Astoria: "All the luxuries of private home.
.
.
.
" Now, won't that be charming when the last flop-house has turned you down this winter? Furthermore: "It is far beyond anything hitherto attempted in the hotel world.
.
.
.
" It cost twenty-eight million dollars.
The fa- mous Oscar Tschirky is in charge of banqueting.
Alexandre Gastaud is chef.
It will be a distinguished background for society.
So when you've no place else to go, homeless and hungry ones, choose the Waldorf as a background for your rags-- (Or do you still consider the subway after midnight good enough?) ROOMERS Take a room at the new Waldorf, you down-and-outers-- sleepers in charity's flop-houses where God pulls a long face, and you have to pray to get a bed.
They serve swell board at the Waldorf-Astoria.
Look at the menu, will you: GUMBO CREOLE CRABMEAT IN CASSOLETTE BOILED BRISKET OF BEEF SMALL ONIONS IN CREAM WATERCRESS SALAD PEACH MELBA Have luncheon there this afternoon, all you jobless.
Why not? Dine with some of the men and women who got rich off of your labor, who clip coupons with clean white fingers because your hands dug coal, drilled stone, sewed gar- ments, poured steel to let other people draw dividends and live easy.
(Or haven't you had enough yet of the soup-lines and the bit- ter bread of charity?) Walk through Peacock Alley tonight before dinner, and get warm, anyway.
You've got nothing else to do.
12

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