William Shakespeare |
When, in disgrace with fortune and men's eyes,
I all alone beweep my outcast state,
And trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries,
And look upon myself, and curse my fate,
Wishing me like to one more rich in hope,
Featured like him, like him with friends possessed,
Desiring this man's art and that man's scope,
With what I most enjoy contented least;
Yet in these thoughts myself almost despising,
Haply I think on thee—and then my state,
Like to the lark at break of day arising
From sullen earth, sings hymns at heaven's gate;
For thy sweet love rememb'red such wealth brings
That then I scorn to change my state with kings.
Walt Whitman |
MANHATTAN’S streets I saunter’d, pondering,
On time, space, reality—on such as these, and abreast with them, prudence.
After all, the last explanation remains to be made about prudence;
Little and large alike drop quietly aside from the prudence that suits immortality.
The Soul is of itself;
All verges to it—all has reference to what ensues;
All that a person does, says, thinks, is of consequence;
Not a move can a man or woman make, that affects him or her in a day, month, any part of
life-time, or the hour of death, but the same affects him or her onward afterward through
The indirect is just as much as the direct,
The spirit receives from the body just as much as it gives to the body, if not more.
Not one word or deed—not venereal sore, discoloration, privacy of the onanist,
gluttons or rum-drinkers, peculation, cunning, betrayal, murder, seduction, prostitution,
results beyond death, as really as before death.
Charity and personal force are the only investments worth anything.
No specification is necessary—all that a male or female does, that is vigorous,
clean, is so much profit to him or her, in the unshakable order of the universe, and
whole scope of it forever.
Who has been wise, receives interest,
Savage, felon, President, judge, farmer, sailor, mechanic, literat, young, old, it is the
The interest will come round—all will come round.
Singly, wholly, to affect now, affected their time, will forever affect all of the past,
the present, and all of the future,
All the brave actions of war and peace,
All help given to relatives, strangers, the poor, old, sorrowful, young children, widows,
and to shunn’d persons,
All furtherance of fugitives, and of the escape of slaves,
All self-denial that stood steady and aloof on wrecks, and saw others fill the seats of
All offering of substance or life for the good old cause, or for a friend’s sake, or
All pains of enthusiasts, scoff’d at by their neighbors,
All the limitless sweet love and precious suffering of mothers,
All honest men baffled in strifes recorded or unrecorded,
All the grandeur and good of ancient nations whose fragments we inherit,
All the good of the dozens of ancient nations unknown to us by name, date, location,
All that was ever manfully begun, whether it succeeded or no,
All suggestions of the divine mind of man, or the divinity of his mouth, or the shaping of
All that is well thought or said this day on any part of the globe—or on any of the
stars, or on any of the fix’d stars, by those there as we are here;
All that is henceforth to be thought or done by you, whoever you are, or by any one;
These inure, have inured, shall inure, to the identities from which they sprang, or shall
Did you guess anything lived only its moment?
The world does not so exist—no parts palpable or impalpable so exist;
No consummation exists without being from some long previous consummation—and that
Without the farthest conceivable one coming a bit nearer the beginning than any.
Whatever satisfies Souls is true;
Prudence entirely satisfies the craving and glut of Souls;
Itself only finally satisfies the Soul;
The Soul has that measureless pride which revolts from every lesson but its own.
Now I give you an inkling;
Now I breathe the word of the prudence that walks abreast with time, space, reality,
That answers the pride which refuses every lesson but its own.
What is prudence, is indivisible,
Declines to separate one part of life from every part,
Divides not the righteous from the unrighteous, or the living from the dead,
Matches every thought or act by its correlative,
Knows no possible forgiveness, or deputed atonement,
Knows that the young man who composedly peril’d his life and lost it, has done
for himself without doubt,
That he who never peril’d his life, but retains it to old age in riches and ease, has
achiev’d nothing for himself worth mentioning;
Knows that only that person has really learn’d, who has learn’d to prefer
Who favors Body and Soul the same,
Who perceives the indirect assuredly following the direct,
Who in his spirit in any emergency whatever neither hurries or, avoids death.
John Keats |
Physician Nature! Let my spirit blood!
O ease my heart of verse and let me rest;
Throw me upon thy Tripod, till the flood
Of stifling numbers ebbs from my full breast.
A theme! a theme! great nature! give a theme;
Let me begin my dream.
I come -- I see thee, as thou standest there,
Beckon me not into the wintry air.
Ah! dearest love, sweet home of all my fears,
And hopes, and joys, and panting miseries, --
To-night, if I may guess, thy beauty wears
A smile of such delight,
As brilliant and as bright,
As when with ravished, aching, vassal eyes,
Lost in soft amaze,
I gaze, I gaze!
Who now, with greedy looks, eats up my feast?
What stare outfaces now my silver moon!
Ah! keep that hand unravished at the least;
Let, let, the amorous burn --
But pr'ythee, do not turn
The current of your heart from me so soon.
O! save, in charity,
The quickest pulse for me.
Save it for me, sweet love! though music breathe
Voluptuous visions into the warm air;
Though swimming through the dance's dangerous wreath,
Be like an April day,
Smiling and cold and gay,
A temperate lilly, temperate as fair;
Then, Heaven! there will be
A warmer June for me.
Why, this, you'll say, my Fanny! is not true:
Put your soft hand upon your snowy side,
Where the heart beats: confess -- 'tis nothing new --
Must not a woman be
A feather on the sea,
Sway'd to and fro by every wind and tide?
Of as uncertain speed
As blow-ball from the mead?
I know it -- and to know it is despair
To one who loves you as I love, sweet Fanny!
Whose heart goes fluttering for you every where,
Nor, when away you roam,
Dare keep its wretched home,
Love, love alone, his pains severe and many:
Then, loveliest! keep me free,
From torturing jealousy.
Ah! if you prize my subdued soul above
The poor, the fading, brief, pride of an hour;
Let none profane my Holy See of love,
Or with a rude hand break
The sacramental cake:
Let none else touch the just new-budded flower;
If not -- may my eyes close,
Love! on their lost repose.
Emily Bronte |
Cold in the earth—and the deep snow piled above thee,
Far, far removed, cold in the dreary grave!
Have I forgot, my only Love, to love thee,
Severed at last by Time's all-severing wave?
Now, when alone, do my thoughts no longer hover
Over the mountains, on that northern shore,
Resting their wings where heath and fern-leaves cover
That noble heart for ever, ever more?
Cold in the earth, and fifteen wild Decembers
From those brown hills have melted into spring:
Faithful indeed is the spirit that remembers
After such years of change and suffering!
Sweet Love of youth, forgive if I forget thee,
While the world's tide is bearing me along:
Sterner desires and other hopes beset me,
Hopes which obscure, but cannot do thee wrong!
No later light has lightened up my heaven;
No second morn has ever shone for me:
All my life's bliss from thy dear life was given,
All my life's bliss is in the grave with thee.
But when the days of golden dreams had perished,
And even Despair was powerless to destroy,
Then did I learn how existence could be cherished,
Strengthened, and fed without the aid of joy;
Then did I check the tears of useless passion,
Weaned my young soul from yearning after thine;
Sternly denied its burning wish to hasten
Down to that tomb already more than mine.
And even yet I dare not let it languish,
Dare not indulge in Memory's rapturous pain;
Once drinking deep of that divinest anguish,
How could I seek the empty world again?
William Allingham |
A sunset's mounded cloud;
A diamond evening-star;
Sad blue hills afar;
Love in his shroud.
Scarcely a tear to shed;
Hardly a word to say;
The end of a summer day;
Sweet Love dead.
James Joyce |
In the dark pine-wood
I would we lay,
In deep cool shadow
At noon of day.
How sweet to lie there,
Sweet to kiss,
Where the great pine-forest
Thy kiss descending
With a soft tumult
Of thy hair.
O unto the pine-wood
At noon of day
Come with me now,
Sweet love, away.
Edna St Vincent Millay |
Sweet love, sweet thorn, when lightly to my heart
I took your thrust, whereby I since am slain,
And lie disheveled in the grass apart,
A sodden thing bedrenched by tears and rain,
While rainy evening drips to misty night,
And misty night to cloudy morning clears,
And clouds disperse across the gathering light,
And birds grow noisy, and the sun appears
Had I bethought me then, sweet love, sweet thorn,
How sharp an anguish even at the best,
When all's requited and the future sworn,
The happy Hour can leave within the breast,
I had not so come running at the call
Of one whoe loves me little, if at all.
Jean Ingelow |
A Scholar is musing on his want of success.)
To strive—and fail. Yes, I did strive and fail;
I set mine eyes upon a certain night
To find a certain star—and could not hail
With them its deep-set light.
Fool that I was! I will rehearse my fault:
I, wingless, thought myself on high to lift
Among the winged—I set these feet that halt
To run against the swift.
And yet this man, that loved me so, can write—
That loves me, I would say, can let me see;
Or fain would have me think he counts but light
These Honors lost to me.
(The letter of his friend.)
"What are they? that old house of yours which gave
Such welcome oft to me, the sunbeams fall
Yet, down the squares of blue and white which pave
Its hospitable hall.
"A brave old house! a garden full of bees,
Large dropping poppies, and Queen hollyhocks,
With butterflies for crowns—tree peonies
And pinks and goldilocks.
"Go, when the shadow of your house is long
Upon the garden—when some new-waked bird.
Pecking and fluttering, chirps a sudden song,
And not a leaf is stirred;
"But every one drops dew from either edge
Upon its fellow, while an amber ray
Slants up among the tree-tops like a wedge
Of liquid gold—to play
"Over and under them, and so to fall
Upon that lane of water lying below—
That piece of sky let in, that you do call
A pond, but which I know
"To be a deep and wondrous world; for I
Have seen the trees within it—marvellous things
So thick no bird betwixt their leaves could fly
But she would smite her wings;—
"Go there, I say; stand at the water's brink,
And shoals of spotted barbel you shall see
Basking between the shadows—look, and think
'This beauty is for me;
"'For me this freshness in the morning hours,
For me the water's clear tranquillity;
For me the soft descent of chestnut flowers;
The cushat's cry for me.
"'The lovely laughter of the wind-swayed wheat
The easy slope of yonder pastoral hill;
The sedgy brook whereby the red kine meet
And wade and drink their fill.'
"Then saunter down that terrace whence the sea
All fair with wing-like sails you may discern;
Be glad, and say 'This beauty is for me—
A thing to love and learn.
"'For me the bounding in of tides; for me
The laying bare of sands when they retreat;
The purple flush of calms, the sparkling glee
When waves and sunshine meet.'
"So, after gazing, homeward turn, and mount
To that long chamber in the roof; there tell
Your heart the laid-up lore it holds to count
And prize and ponder well.
"The lookings onward of the race before
It had a past to make it look behind;
Its reverent wonder, and its doubting sore,
Its adoration blind.
"The thunder of its war-songs, and the glow
Of chants to freedom by the old world sung;
The sweet love cadences that long ago
Dropped from the old-world tongue.
"And then this new-world lore that takes account
Of tangled star-dust; maps the triple whirl
Of blue and red and argent worlds that mount
And greet the IRISH EARL;
"Or float across the tube that HERSCHEL sways,
Like pale-rose chaplets, or like sapphire mist;
Or hang or droop along the heavenly ways,
Like scarves of amethyst.
"O strange it is and wide the new-world lore,
For next it treateth of our native dust!
Must dig out buried monsters, and explore
The green earth's fruitful crust;
"Must write the story of her seething youth—
How lizards paddled in her lukewarm seas;
Must show the cones she ripened, and forsooth
Count seasons on her trees;
"Must know her weight, and pry into her age,
Count her old beach lines by their tidal swell;
Her sunken mountains name, her craters gauge,
Her cold volcanoes tell;
"And treat her as a ball, that one might pass
From this hand to the other—such a ball
As he could measure with a blade of grass,
And say it was but small!
"Honors! O friend, I pray you bear with me:
The grass hath time to grow in meadow lands,
And leisurely the opal murmuring sea
Breaks on her yellow sands;
"And leisurely the ring-dove on her nest
Broods till her tender chick will peck the shell
And leisurely down fall from ferny crest
The dew-drops on the well;
"And leisurely your life and spirit grew,
With yet the time to grow and ripen free:
No judgment past withdraws that boon from you,
Nor granteth it to me.
"Still must I plod, and still in cities moil;
From precious leisure, learned leisure far,
Dull my best self with handling common soil;
Yet mine those honors are.
"Mine they are called; they are a name which means,
'This man had steady pulses, tranquil nerves:
Here, as in other fields, the most he gleans
Who works and never swerves.
"We measure not his mind; we cannot tell
What lieth under, over, or beside
The test we put him to; he doth excel,
We know, where he is tried;
"But, if he boast some farther excellence—
Mind to create as well as to attain;
To sway his peers by golden eloquence,
As wind doth shift a fane;
"'To sing among the poets—we are nought:
We cannot drop a line into that sea
And read its fathoms off, nor gauge a thought,
Nor map a simile.
"'It may be of all voices sublunar
The only one he echoes we did try;
We may have come upon the only star
That twinkles in his sky,'
"And so it was with me."
O false my friend!
False, false, a random charge, a blame undue;
Wrest not fair reasoning to a crooked end:
False, false, as you are true!
But I read on: "And so it was with me;
Your golden constellations lying apart
They neither hailed nor greeted heartily,
Nor noted on their chart.
"And yet to you and not to me belong
Those finer instincts that, like second sight
And hearing, catch creation's undersong,
And see by inner light.
"You are a well, whereon I, gazing, see
Reflections of the upper heavens—a well
From whence come deep, deep echoes up to me—
Some underwave's low swell.
"I cannot soar into the heights you show,
Nor dive among the deeps that you reveal;
But it is much that high things ARE to know,
That deep things ARE to feel.
"'Tis yours, not mine, to pluck out of your breast
Some human truth, whose workings recondite
Were unattired in words, and manifest
And hold it forth to light
"And cry, 'Behold this thing that I have found,'
And though they knew not of it till that day,
Nor should have done with no man to expound
Its meaning, yet they say,
"'We do accept it: lower than the shoals
We skim, this diver went, nor did create,
But find it for us deeper in our souls
Than we can penetrate.'
"You were to me the world's interpreter,
The man that taught me Nature's unknown tongue,
And to the notes of her wild dulcimer
First set sweet words, and sung.
"And what am I to you? A steady hand
To hold, a steadfast heart to trust withal;
Merely a man that loves you, and will stand
By you, whatever befall.
"But need we praise his tendance tutelar
Who feeds a flame that warms him? Yet 'tis true
I love you for the sake of what you are,
And not of what you do:—
"As heaven's high twins, whereof in Tyrian blue
The one revolveth: through his course immense
Might love his fellow of the damask hue,
For like, and difference.
"For different pathways evermore decreed
To intersect, but not to interfere;
For common goal, two aspects, and one speed,
One centre and one year;
"For deep affinities, for drawings strong,
That by their nature each must needs exert;
For loved alliance, and for union long,
That stands before desert.
"And yet desert makes brighter not the less,
For nearest his own star he shall not fail
To think those rays unmatched for nobleness,
That distance counts but pale.
"Be pale afar, since still to me you shine,
And must while Nature's eldest law shall hold;"—
Ah, there's the thought which makes his random line
Dear as refinèd gold!
Then shall I drink this draft of oxymel,
Part sweet, part sharp? Myself o'erprized to know
Is sharp; the cause is sweet, and truth to tell
Few would that cause forego,
Which is, that this of all the men on earth
Doth love me well enough to count me great—
To think my soul and his of equal girth—
O liberal estimate!
And yet it is so; he is bound to me,
For human love makes aliens near of kin;
By it I rise, there is equality:
I rise to thee, my twin.
"Take courage"—courage! ay, my purple peer
I will take courage; for thy Tyrian rays
Refresh me to the heart, and strangely dear
And healing is thy praise.
"Take courage," quoth he, "and respect the mind
Your Maker gave, for good your fate fulfil;
The fate round many hearts your own to wind."
Twin soul, I will! I will!
William Ernest Henley |
If I were king, my pipe should be premier.
The skies of time and chance are seldom clear,
We would inform them all with bland blue weather.
Delight alone would need to shed a tear,
For dream and deed should war no more together.
Art should aspire, yet ugliness be dear;
Beauty, the shaft, should speed with wit for feather;
And love, sweet love, should never fall to sere,
If I were king.
But politics should find no harbour near;
The Philistine should fear to slip his tether;
Tobacco should be duty free, and beer;
In fact, in room of this, the age of leather,
An age of gold all radiant should appear,
If I were king.
Vachel Lindsay |
Star of my heart, I follow from afar.
Sweet Love on high, lead on where shepherds are,
Where Time is not, and only dreamers are.
Star from of old, the Magi-Kings are dead
And a foolish Saxon seeks the manger-bed.
O lead me to Jehovah's child
Across this dreamland lone and wild,
Then will I speak this prayer unsaid,
And kiss his little haloed head —
"My star and I, we love thee, little child.
Except the Christ be born again to-night
In dreams of all men, saints and sons of shame,
The world will never see his kingdom bright.
Stars of all hearts, lead onward thro' the night
Past death-black deserts, doubts without a name,
Past hills of pain and mountains of new sin
To that far sky where mystic births begin,
Where dreaming ears the angel-song shall win.
Our Christmas shall be rare at dawning there,
And each shall find his brother fair,
Like a little child within:
All hearts of the earth shall find new birth
And wake, no more to sin.