John Trumbull |
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 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,
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,
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.
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.
Allen Ginsberg |
Drinking my tea
The sparrow shits
--ah! my brain & eggs
Mayan head in a
Pacific driftwood bole
--Someday I'll live in N.
Looking over my shoulder
my behind was covered
with cherry blossoms.
I didn't know the names
of the flowers--now
my garden is gone.
I slapped the mosquito
What made me do that?
I am unhappy,
longing for the Nameless.
A frog floating
in the drugstore jar:
summer rain on grey pavements.
On the porch
in my shorts;
auto lights in the rain.
has past-the world
is no different.
The first thing I looked for
in my old garden was
The Cherry Tree.
My old desk:
the first thing I looked for
in my house.
My early journal:
the first thing I found
in my old desk.
My mother's ghost:
the first thing I found
in the living room.
I quit shaving
but the eyes that glanced at me
remained in the mirror.
emerges from the movies:
the street at lunchtime.
Cities of boys
are in their graves,
and in this town.
Lying on my side
in the void:
the breath in my nose.
On the fifteenth floor
the dog chews a bone-
Screech of taxicabs.
A hardon in New York,
in San Fransisco.
The moon over the roof,
worms in the garden.
I rent this house.
[Haiku composed in the backyard cottage at 1624
Milvia Street, Berkeley 1955, while reading R.
Blyth's 4 volumes, "Haiku.
David Herbert Lawrence |
I wish it were spring in the world.
Let it be spring!
Come, bubbling, surging tide of sap!
Come, rush of creation!
Come, life! surge through this mass of mortification!
Come, sweep away these exquisite, ghastly first-flowers,
which are rather last-flowers!
Come, thaw down their cool portentousness, dissolve them:
snowdrops, straight, death-veined exhalations of white and purple crocuses,
flowers of the penumbra, issue of corruption, nourished in mortification,
jets of exquisite finality;
Come, spring, make havoc of them!
I trample on the snowdrops, it gives me pleasure to tread down the jonquils,
to destroy the chill Lent lilies;
for I am sick of them, their faint-bloodedness,
slow-blooded, icy-fleshed, portentous.
I want the fine, kindling wine-sap of spring,
gold, and of inconceivably fine, quintessential brightness,
rare almost as beams, yet overwhelmingly potent,
strong like the greatest force of world-balancing.
This is the same that picks up the harvest of wheat
and rocks it, tons of grain, on the ripening wind;
the same that dangles the globe-shaped pleiads of fruit
temptingly in mid-air, between a playful thumb and finger;
oh, and suddenly, from out of nowhere, whirls the pear-bloom,
upon us, and apple- and almond- and apricot- and quince-blossom,
storms and cumulus clouds of all imaginable blossom
about our bewildered faces,
though we do not worship.
I wish it were spring
cunningly blowing on the fallen sparks, odds and ends of the old, scattered fire,
and kindling shapely little conflagrations
curious long-legged foals, and wide-eared calves, and naked sparrow-bubs.
I wish that spring
would start the thundering traffic of feet
new feet on the earth, beating with impatience.
I wish it were spring, thundering
delicate, tender spring.
I wish these brittle, frost-lovely flowers of passionate, mysterious corruption
were not yet to come still more from the still-flickering discontent.
Oh, in the spring, the bluebell bows him down for very exuberance,
exulting with secret warm excess,
bowed down with his inner magnificence!
Oh, yes, the gush of spring is strong enough
to toss the globe of earth like a ball on a water-jet
as you see a tiny celluloid ball tossing on a squirt of water
for men to shoot at, penny-a-time, in a booth at a fair.
The gush of spring is strong enough
to play with the globe of earth like a ball on a fountain;
At the same time it opens the tiny hands of the hazel
with such infinite patience.
The power of the rising, golden, all-creative sap could take the earth
and heave it off among the stars, into the invisible;
the same sets the throstle at sunset on a bough
singing against the blackbird;
comes out in the hesitating tremor of the primrose,
and betrays its candour in the round white strawberry flower,
is dignified in the foxglove, like a Red-Indian brave.
Ah come, come quickly, spring!
come and lift us towards our culmination, we myriads;
we who have never flowered, like patient cactuses.
Come and lift us to our end, to blossom, bring us to our summer
we who are winter-weary in the winter of the of the world.
Come making the chaffinch nests hollow and cosy,
come and soften the willow buds till they are puffed and furred,
then blow them over with gold.
Coma and cajole the gawky colt’s-foot flowers.
Come quickly, and vindicate us.
against too much death.
Come quickly, and stir the rotten globe of the world from within,
burst it with germination, with world anew.
Come now, to us, your adherents, who cannot flower from the ice.
All the world gleams with the lilies of death the Unconquerable,
but come, give us our turn.
Enough of the virgins and lilies, of passionate, suffocating perfume of corruption,
no more narcissus perfume, lily harlots, the blades of sensation
piercing the flesh to blossom of death.
Have done, have done with this shuddering, delicious business
of thrilling ruin in the flesh, of pungent passion, of rare, death-edged ecstasy.
Give us our turn, give us a chance, let our hour strike,
O soon, soon!
Let the darkness turn violet with rich dawn.
Let the darkness be warmed, warmed through to a ruddy violet,
incipient purpling towards summer in the world of the heart of man.
Are the violets already here!
Show me! I tremble so much to hear it, that even now
on the threshold of spring, I fear I shall die.
Show me the violets that are out.
Oh, if it be true, and the living darkness of the blood of man is purpling with violets,
if the violets are coming out from under the rack of men, winter-rotten and fallen,
we shall have spring.
Pray not to die on this Pisgah blossoming with violets.
Pray to live through.
If you catch a whiff of violets from the darkness of the shadow of man
it will be spring in the world,
it will be spring in the world of the living;
wonderment organising itself, heralding itself with the violets,
stirring of new seasons.
Ah, do not let me die on the brink of such anticipation!
Worse, let me not deceive myself.
Yosa Buson |
its tiny mouth
Kobayashi Issa |
out of the way,
Horse is coming.
Stephen Dunn |
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.
Stephen Dunn |
To hold a damaged sparrow
under water until you feel it die
is to know a small something
about the mind; how, for example,
it blames the cat for the original crime,
how it wants praise for its better side.
And yet it's as human
as pulling the plug on your Dad
whose world has turned
to feces and fog, human as--
Well, let's admit, it's a mild thing
as human things go.
But I felt the one good wing
flutter in my palm--
the smallest protest, if that's what it was,
I ever felt or heard.
Reminded me of how my eyelid has twitched,
the need to account for it.
Hard to believe no one notices.
Nazim Hikmet |
You're like a scorpion, my brother,
you live in cowardly darkness
like a scorpion.
You're like a sparrow, my brother,
always in a sparrow's flutter.
You're like a clam, my brother,
closed like a clam, content,
And you're frightening, my brother,
like the mouth of an extinct volcano.
unfortunately, you number millions.
You're like a sheep, my brother:
when the cloaked drover raises his stick,
you quickly join the flock
and run, almost proudly, to the slaughterhouse.
I mean you're strangest creature on earth--
even stranger than the fish
that couldn't see the ocean for the water.
And the oppression in this world
is thanks to you.
And if we're hungry, tired, covered with blood,
and still being crushed like grapes for our wine,
the fault is yours--
I can hardly bring myself to say it,
but most of the fault, my dear brother, is yours.
Charles Bukowski |
To give life you must take life,
and as our grief falls flat and hollow
upon the billion-blooded sea
I pass upon serious inward-breaking shoals rimmed
with white-legged, white-bellied rotting creatures
lengthily dead and rioting against surrounding scenes.
Dear child, I only did to you what the sparrow
did to you; I am old when it is fashionable to be
young; I cry when it is fashionable to laugh.
I hated you when it would have taken less courage
Du Fu |
Towering red cloud west
Sun base down level ground
Wicker gate bird sparrow chirp
Return traveller thousand li to
Wife children surprised I be present
Shock calm more wipe tears
Life disorder meet float swing
Return alive chance succeed
Neighbour satisfied top of wall
Sigh also sob
Night late more grasp candle
Opposite like dream
Red clouds tower in the west,
The sun is sinking on the plain.
A sparrow chirps on the wicker gate,
I return from a thousand li away.
My wife and children are shocked to see me,
Then calm themselves and wipe their tears.
I floated through this disordered life,
By chance I have managed to return alive.
The neighbours all lean over the wall,
And they as well are sighing and sobbing.
Late at night we bring out candles,
And face each other as in a dream.