Vladimir Mayakovsky |
Thoughts, go your way home.
depths of the soul and the sea.
In my view,
My cabin is the worst
of all cabins -
All night above me
Thuds a smithy of feet.
stirring the ceiling’s calm,
to a moaning motif:
Marquita my darling,
why won’t you,
why won’t you love me …”
Should marquita love me?!
no francs to spare.
(at the slightest wink!)
for a hundred francs
she’d be brought to your room.
The sum’s not large -
just live for show -
ruffling your matted hair,
you would thrust upon her
a sewing machine,
the silk of verse.
arrive at communism
from below -
by the low way of mines,
and pitchforks -
from poetry’s skies,
plunge into communism,
I feel no love.
or sent to mamma -
the steel of words corrodes,
the brass of the brass tarnishes.
beneath foreign rains,
must I soak,
Here I recline,
having gone oversea,
in my idleness
my machine parts.
feel like a Soviet
to being torn up,
like a flower of the fields,
after a long day’s work.
the Gosplan to sweat
goals a year ahead.
with a decree
to lean over the thought of the age.
the heart to earn
its love wage
at a specialist’s rate.
the factory committee
when the work is done.
the pen to be on a par
with the bayonet;
to deliver his Politbureau
about verse in the making
as he would about pig iron
and the smelting of steel.
“That’s how it is,
the way it goes …
the topmost level,
climbing from the workers’ bunks:
in the Union
the understanding of verse
the prewar norm …”
Transcribed: by Mitch Abidor.
Robert William Service |
Now wouldn't you expect to find a man an awful crank
That's staked out nigh three hundred claims, and every one a blank;
That's followed every fool stampede, and seen the rise and fall
Of camps where men got gold in chunks and he got none at all;
That's prospected a bit of ground and sold it for a song
To see it yield a fortune to some fool that came along;
That's sunk a dozen bed-rock holes, and not a speck in sight,
Yet sees them take a million from the claims to left and right?
Now aren't things like that enough to drive a man to booze?
But Hard-Luck Smith was hoodoo-proof--he knew the way to lose.
'Twas in the fall of nineteen four--leap-year I've heard them say--
When Hard-Luck came to Hunker Creek and took a hillside lay.
And lo! as if to make amends for all the futile past,
Late in the year he struck it rich, the real pay-streak at last.
The riffles of his sluicing-box were choked with speckled earth,
And night and day he worked that lay for all that he was worth.
And when in chill December's gloom his lucky lease expired,
He found that he had made a stake as big as he desired.
One day while meditating on the waywardness of fate,
He felt the ache of lonely man to find a fitting mate;
A petticoated pard to cheer his solitary life,
A woman with soft, soothing ways, a confidant, a wife.
And while he cooked his supper on his little Yukon stove,
He wished that he had staked a claim in Love's rich treasure-trove;
When suddenly he paused and held aloft a Yukon egg,
For there in pencilled letters was the magic name of Peg.
You know these Yukon eggs of ours--some pink, some green, some blue--
A dollar per, assorted tints, assorted flavors too.
The supercilious cheechako might designate them high,
But one acquires a taste for them and likes them by-and-by.
Well, Hard-Luck Henry took this egg and held it to the light,
And there was more faint pencilling that sorely taxed his sight.
At last he made it out, and then the legend ran like this--
"Will Klondike miner write to Peg, Plumhollow, Squashville, Wis.
That night he got to thinking of this far-off, unknown fair;
It seemed so sort of opportune, an answer to his prayer.
She flitted sweetly through his dreams, she haunted him by day,
She smiled through clouds of nicotine, she cheered his weary way.
At last he yielded to the spell; his course of love he set--
Wisconsin his objective point; his object, Margaret.
With every mile of sea and land his longing grew and grew.
He practised all his pretty words, and these, I fear, were few.
At last, one frosty evening, with a cold chill down his spine,
He found himself before her house, the threshold of the shrine.
His courage flickered to a spark, then glowed with sudden flame--
He knocked; he heard a welcome word; she came--his goddess came.
Oh, she was fair as any flower, and huskily he spoke:
"I'm all the way from Klondike, with a mighty heavy poke.
I'm looking for a lassie, one whose Christian name is Peg,
Who sought a Klondike miner, and who wrote it on an egg.
The lassie gazed at him a space, her cheeks grew rosy red;
She gazed at him with tear-bright eyes, then tenderly she said:
"Yes, lonely Klondike miner, it is true my name is Peg.
It's also true I longed for you and wrote it on an egg.
My heart went out to someone in that land of night and cold;
But oh, I fear that Yukon egg must have been mighty old.
I waited long, I hoped and feared; you should have come before;
I've been a wedded woman now for eighteen months or more.
I'm sorry, since you've come so far, you ain't the one that wins;
But won't you take a step inside--I'll let you see the twins.
Robert Frost |
To think to know the country and now know
The hillside on the day the sun lets go
Ten million silver lizards out of snow!
As often as I've seen it done before
I can't pretend to tell the way it's done.
It looks as if some magic of the sun
Lifted the rug that bred them on the floor
And the light breaking on them made them run.
But if I though to stop the wet stampede,
And caught one silver lizard by the tail,
And put my foot on one without avail,
And threw myself wet-elbowed and wet-kneed
In front of twenty others' wriggling speed,--
In the confusion of them all aglitter,
And birds that joined in the excited fun
By doubling and redoubling song and twitter,
I have no doubt I'd end by holding none.
It takes the moon for this.
The sun's a wizard
By all I tell; but so's the moon a witch.
From the high west she makes a gentle cast
And suddenly, without a jerk or twitch,
She has her speel on every single lizard.
I fancied when I looked at six o'clock
The swarm still ran and scuttled just as fast.
The moon was waiting for her chill effect.
I looked at nine: the swarm was turned to rock
In every lifelike posture of the swarm,
Transfixed on mountain slopes almost erect.
Across each other and side by side they lay.
The spell that so could hold them as they were
Was wrought through trees without a breath of storm
To make a leaf, if there had been one, stir.
One lizard at the end of every ray.
The thought of my attempting such a stray!
Henry Van Dyke |
O Music hast thou only heard
The laughing river, the singing bird,
The murmuring wind in the poplar-trees,--
Nothing but Nature's melodies?
Nay, thou hearest all her tones,
As a Queen must hear!
Sounds of wrath and fear,
Mutterings, shouts, and moans,
Madness, tumult, and despair,
All she has that shakes the air
With voices fierce and wild!
Thou art a Queen and not a dreaming child,--
Put on thy crown and let us hear thee reign
Triumphant in a world of storm and strain!
Echo the long-drawn sighs
Of the mounting wind in the pines;
And the sobs of the mounting waves that rise
In the dark of the troubled deep
To break on the beach in fiery lines.
Echo the far-off roll of thunder,
And ever louder, under
The blue-black curtain of cloud,
Where the lightning serpents gleam.
Echo the moaning
Of the forest in its sleep
Like a giant groaning
In the torment of a dream.
Now an interval of quiet
For a moment holds the air
In the breathless hush
Of a silent prayer.
Then the sudden rush
Of the rain, and the riot
Of the shrieking, tearing gale
Breaks loose in the night,
With a fusillade of hail!
Hear the forest fight,
With its tossing arms that crack and clash
In the thunder's cannonade,
While the lightning's forked flash
Brings the old hero-trees to the ground with a crash!
Hear the breakers' deepening roar,
Driven like a herd of cattle
In the wild stampede of battle,
Trampling, trampling, trampling, to overwhelm the shore!
Is it the end of all?
Will the land crumble and fall?
Nay, for a voice replies
Out of the hidden skies,
"Thus far, O sea, shalt thou go,
So long, O wind, shalt thou blow:
Return to your bounds and cease,
And let the earth have peace!"
O Music, lead the way--
The stormy night is past,
Lift up our hearts to greet the day,
And the joy of things that last.
The dissonance and pain
That mortals must endure,
Are changed in thine immortal strain
To something great and pure.
True love will conquer strife,
And strength from conflict flows,
For discord is the thorn of life
And harmony the rose.
Elizabeth Bishop |
Out on the high "bird islands," Ciboux and Hertford,
the razorbill auks and the silly-looking puffins all stand
with their backs to the mainland
in solemn, uneven lines along the cliff's brown grass-frayed edge,
while the few sheep pastured there go "Baaa, baaa.
(Sometimes, frightened by aeroplanes, they stampede
and fall over into the sea or onto the rocks.
The silken water is weaving and weaving,
disappearing under the mist equally in all directions,
lifted and penetrated now and then
by one shag's dripping serpent-neck,
and somewhere the mist incorporates the pulse,
rapid but unurgent, of a motor boat.
The same mist hangs in thin layers
among the valleys and gorges of the mainland
like rotting snow-ice sucked away
almost to spirit; the ghosts of glaciers drift
among those folds and folds of fir: spruce and hackmatack--
dull, dead, deep pea-cock colors,
each riser distinguished from the next
by an irregular nervous saw-tooth edge,
alike, but certain as a stereoscopic view.
The wild road clambers along the brink of the coast.
On it stand occasional small yellow bulldozers,
but without their drivers, because today is Sunday.
The little white churches have been dropped into the matted hills
like lost quartz arrowheads.
The road appears to have been abandoned.
Whatever the landscape had of meaning appears to have been abandoned,
unless the road is holding it back, in the interior,
where we cannot see,
where deep lakes are reputed to be,
and disused trails and mountains of rock
and miles of burnt forests, standing in gray scratches
like the admirable scriptures made on stones by stones--
and these regions now have little to say for themselves
except in thousands of light song-sparrow songs floating upward
freely, dispassionately, through the mist, and meshing
in brown-wet, fine torn fish-nets.
A small bus comes along, in up-and-down rushes,
packed with people, even to its step.
(On weekdays with groceries, spare automobile parts, and pump parts,
but today only two preachers extra, one carrying his frock coat on a
It passes the closed roadside stand, the closed schoolhouse,
where today no flag is flying
from the rough-adzed pole topped with a white china doorknob.
It stops, and a man carrying a bay gets off,
climbs over a stile, and goes down through a small steep meadow,
which establishes its poverty in a snowfall of daisies,
to his invisible house beside the water.
The birds keep on singing, a calf bawls, the bus starts.
The thin mist follows
the white mutations of its dream;
an ancient chill is rippling the dark brooks.
Robert William Service |
He was an old prospector with a vision bleared and dim.
He asked me for a grubstake, and the same I gave to him.
He hinted of a hidden trove, and when I made so bold
To question his veracity, this is the tale he told.
"I do not seek the copper streak, nor yet the yellow dust;
I am not fain for sake of gain to irk the frozen crust;
Let fellows gross find gilded dross, far other is my mark;
Oh, gentle youth, this is the truth--I go to seek the Ark.
"I prospected the Pelly bed, I prospected the White;
The Nordenscold for love of gold I piked from morn till night;
Afar and near for many a year I led the wild stampede,
Until I guessed that all my quest was vanity and greed.
"Then came I to a land I knew no man had ever seen,
A haggard land, forlornly spanned by mountains lank and lean;
The nitchies said 'twas full of dread, of smoke and fiery breath,
And no man dare put foot in there for fear of pain and death.
"But I was made all unafraid, so, careless and alone,
Day after day I made my way into that land unknown;
Night after night by camp-fire light I crouched in lonely thought;
Oh, gentle youth, this is the truth--I knew not what I sought.
"I rose at dawn; I wandered on.
'Tis somewhat fine and grand
To be alone and hold your own in God's vast awesome land;
Come woe or weal, 'tis fine to feel a hundred miles between
The trails you dare and pathways where the feet of men have been.
"And so it fell on me a spell of wander-lust was cast.
The land was still and strange and chill, and cavernous and vast;
And sad and dead, and dull as lead, the valleys sought the snows;
And far and wide on every side the ashen peaks arose.
"The moon was like a silent spike that pierced the sky right through;
The small stars popped and winked and hopped in vastitudes of blue;
And unto me for company came creatures of the shade,
And formed in rings and whispered things that made me half afraid.
"And strange though be, 'twas borne on me that land had lived of old,
And men had crept and slain and slept where now they toiled for gold;
Through jungles dim the mammoth grim had sought the oozy fen,
And on his track, all bent of back, had crawled the hairy men.
"And furthermore, strange deeds of yore in this dead place were done.
They haunted me, as wild and free I roamed from sun to sun;
Until I came where sudden flame uplit a terraced height,
A regnant peak that seemed to seek the coronal of night.
"I scaled the peak; my heart was weak, yet on and on I pressed.
Skyward I strained until I gained its dazzling silver crest;
And there I found, with all around a world supine and stark,
Swept clean of snow, a flat plateau, and on it lay--the Ark.
"Yes, there, I knew, by two and two the beasts did disembark,
And so in haste I ran and traced in letters on the Ark
My human name--Ben Smith's the same.
And now I want to float
A syndicate to haul and freight to town that noble boat.
I met him later in a bar and made a gay remark
Anent an ancient miner and an option on the Ark.
He gazed at me reproachfully, as only topers can;
But what he said I can't repeat--he was a bad old man.
Robert William Service |
When I was boxing in the ring
In 'Frisco back in ninety-seven,
I used to make five bucks a fling
To give as good as I was given.
But when I felt too fighting gay,
And tried to be a dinger-donger,
My second, Mike Muldoon.
"Go easy, kid; you'll stay the longer.
When I was on the Yukon trail
The boys would warn, when things were bleakest,
The weakest link's the one to fail -
Said I: "by Gosh! I won't be weakest.
So I would strain with might and main,
Striving to prove I was the stronger,
Till Sourdough Sam would snap: "Goddam!
Go easy, son; you'' last the longer.
So all you lads of eighty odd
Take my advice - you'll never rue it:
Be quite prepared to meet your God,
But don't stampede yourselves to do it.
Just cultivate a sober gait;
Don't emulate the lively conger;
No need to race, slow down the pace,
Go easy, Pals - you'll linger longer.
William Topaz McGonagall |
'Twas in the year of 1896, and on the 30th of September,
Which many people in Aberdeen will long remember;
The burning of the People's Variety Theatre, in Bridge Place
Because the fire spread like lightning at a rapid pace.
The fire broke out on the stage, about eight o'clock,
Which gave to the audience a very fearful shock;
Then a stampede ensued, and a rush was made pell-mell,
And in the crush, trying to get out, many people fell.
The stage flies took fire owing to the gas
Not having room enough by them to pass;
And with his jacket Mr.
Macaulay tried to put out the flame,
But oh! horrible to relate, it was all in vain.
Detective Innes, who was passing at the time of the fire,
Rendered help in every way the audience could desire,
By helping many of them for to get out,
Which was a heroic action, without any doubt.
Oh! it was a pitiful and fearful sight,
To see both old and young struggling with all their might,
For to escape from that merciless fire,
While it roared and mounted higher and higher.
Oh! it was horrible to hear the cries of that surging crowd,
Yelling and crying for "Help! help!" aloud;
While one old woman did fret and frown
Because her clothes were torn off when knocked down.
A lady and gentleman of the Music Hall company, Monti & Spry,
Managed to make their escape by climbing up very high
To an advertisement board, and smashing the glass of the fanlight,
And squeezed themselves through with a great fight.
But accidents will happen both on sea and land,
And the works of the Almighty is hard to understand;
And thank God there's only a few has fallen victims to the fire,
But I hope they are now in Heaven, amongst the Heavenly choir.
Seamus Heaney |
The pockets of our greatcoats full of barley.
No kitchens on the run, no striking camp.
We moved quick and sudden in our own country.
The priest lay behind ditches with the tramp.
A people hardly marching.
on the hike.
We found new tactics happening each day:
We'd cut through reins and rider with the pike
And stampede cattle into infantry,
Then retreat through hedges where cavalry must be thrown.
on Vinegar Hill.
the final conclave.
Terraced thousands died, shaking scythes at cannon.
The hillside blushed, soaked in our broken wave.
They buried us without shroud or coffin
And in August.
the barley grew up out of our grave.
Robert William Service |
Sez I: My Country calls? Well, let it call.
I grins perlitely and declines wiv thanks.
Go, let 'em plaster every blighted wall,
'Ere's ONE they don't stampede into the ranks.
Them politicians with their greasy ways;
Them empire-grabbers -- fight for 'em? No fear!
I've seen this mess a-comin' from the days
Of Algyserious and Aggydear:
I've felt me passion rise and swell,
wot the 'ell, Bill? Wot the 'ell?
Sez I: My Country? Mine? I likes their cheek.
Me mud-bespattered by the cars they drive,
Wot makes my measly thirty bob a week,
And sweats red blood to keep meself alive!
Fight for the right to slave that they may spend,
Them in their mansions, me 'ere in my slum?
No, let 'em fight wot's something to defend:
But me, I've nothin' -- let the Kaiser come.
And so I cusses 'ard and well,
wot the 'ell, Bill? Wot the 'ell?
Sez I: If they would do the decent thing,
And shield the missis and the little 'uns,
Why, even _I_ might shout "God save the King",
And face the chances of them 'ungry guns.
But we've got three, another on the way;
It's that wot makes me snarl and set me jor:
The wife and nippers, wot of 'em, I say,
If I gets knocked out in this blasted war?
Gets proper busted by a shell,
wot the 'ell, Bill? Wot the 'ell?
Ay, wot the 'ell's the use of all this talk?
To-day some boys in blue was passin' me,
And some of 'em they 'ad no legs to walk,
And some of 'em they 'ad no eyes to see.
And -- well, I couldn't look 'em in the face,
And so I'm goin', goin' to declare
I'm under forty-one and take me place
To face the music with the bunch out there.
A fool, you say! Maybe you're right.
I'll 'ave no peace unless I fight.
I've ceased to think; I only know
I've gotta go, Bill, gotta go.