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Best Famous Vanity Poems

Here is a collection of the all-time best famous Vanity poems. This is a select list of the best famous Vanity poetry. Reading, writing, and enjoying famous Vanity poetry (as well as classical and contemporary poems) is a great past time. These top poems are the best examples of vanity poems.

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Written by Alexander Pushkin | Create an image from this poem

Friendship

 What's friendship? The hangover's faction,
The gratis talk of outrage,
Exchange by vanity, inaction,
Or bitter shame of patronage.


Written by Ralph Waldo Emerson | Create an image from this poem

Ode to Beauty

 EXULTING BEAUTY,­phantom of an hour, 
Whose magic spells enchain the heart, 
Ah ! what avails thy fascinating pow'r, 
Thy thrilling smile, thy witching art ? 
Thy lip, where balmy nectar glows; 
Thy cheek, where round the damask rose 
A thousand nameless Graces move, 
Thy mildly speaking azure eyes, 
Thy golden hair, where cunning Love 
In many a mazy ringlet lies? 
Soon as thy radiant form is seen, 
Thy native blush, thy timid mien, 
Thy hour is past ! thy charms are vain! 
ILL-NATURE haunts thee with her sallow train, 
Mean JEALOUSY deceives thy list'ning ear, 
And SLANDER stains thy cheek with many a bitter tear.
In calm retirement form'd to dwell, NATURE, thy handmaid fair and kind, For thee, a beauteous garland twin'd; The vale-nurs'd Lily's downcast bell Thy modest mien display'd, The snow-drop, April's meekest child, With myrtle blossoms undefil'd, Thy mild and spotless mind pourtray'd; Dear blushing maid, of cottage birth, 'Twas thine, o'er dewy meads to stray, While sparkling health, and frolic mirth Led on thy laughing Day.
Lur'd by the babbling tongue of FAME, Too soon, insidious FLATT'RY came; Flush'd VANITY her footsteps led, To charm thee from thy blest repose, While Fashion twin'd about thy head A wreath of wounding woes; See Dissipation smoothly glide, Cold Apathy, and puny Pride, Capricious Fortune, dull, and blind, O'er splendid Folly throws her veil, While Envy's meagre tribe assail Thy gentle form, and spotless mind.
Their spells prevail! no more those eyes Shoot undulating fires; On thy wan cheek, the young rose dies, Thy lip's deep tint expires; Dark Melancholy chills thy mind; Thy silent tear reveals thy woe; TIME strews with thorns thy mazy way, Where'er thy giddy footsteps stray, Thy thoughtless heart is doom'd to find An unrelenting foe.
'Tis thus, the infant Forest flow'r Bespangled o'er with glitt'ring dew, At breezy morn's refreshing hour, Glows with pure tints of varying hue, Beneath an aged oak's wide spreading shade, Where no rude winds, or beating storms invade.
Transplanted from its lonely bed, No more it scatters perfumes round, No more it rears its gentle head, Or brightly paints the mossy ground; For ah! the beauteous bud, too soon, Scorch'd by the burning eye of day; Shrinks from the sultry glare of noon, Droops its enamell'd brow, and blushing, dies away.
Written by Robert William Service | Create an image from this poem

The Living Dead

 Since I have come to years sedate
I see with more and more acumen
The bitter irony of Fate,
The vanity of all things human.
Why, just to-day some fellow said, As I surveyed Fame's outer portal: "By gad! I thought that you were dead.
" Poor me, who dreamed to be immortal! But that's the way with many men Whose name one fancied time-defying; We thought that they were dust and then We found them living by their dying.
Like dogs we penmen have our day, To brief best-sellerdom elected; And then, "thumbs down," we slink away And die forgotten and neglected.
Ah well, my lyric fling I've had; A thousand bits of verse I've minted; And some, alas! were very bad, And some, alack! were best unprinted.
But if I've made my muse a bawd (Since I am earthy as a ditch is), I'll answer humbly to my God: Most men at times have toyed with bitches.
Yes, I have played with Lady Rhyme, And had a long and lovely innings; And when the Umpire calls my time I'll blandly quit and take my winnings.
I'll hie me to some Sleepydale, And feed the ducks and pat the poodles, And prime my paunch with cakes and ale, And blether with the village noodles.
And then some day you'll idly scan The Times obituary column, And say: "Dear me, the poor old man!" And for a moment you'll look solemn.
"So all this time he's been alive - In realms of rhyme a second-rater .
.
.
But gad! to live to ninety-five: Let's toast his ghost - a sherry, waiter!"
Written by Allen Ginsberg | Create an image from this poem

Plutonian Ode

 I

What new element before us unborn in nature? Is there
 a new thing under the Sun?
At last inquisitive Whitman a modern epic, detonative,
 Scientific theme
First penned unmindful by Doctor Seaborg with poison-
 ous hand, named for Death's planet through the 
 sea beyond Uranus
whose chthonic ore fathers this magma-teared Lord of 
 Hades, Sire of avenging Furies, billionaire Hell-
 King worshipped once
with black sheep throats cut, priests's face averted from
 underground mysteries in single temple at Eleusis,
Spring-green Persephone nuptialed to his inevitable
 Shade, Demeter mother of asphodel weeping dew,
her daughter stored in salty caverns under white snow, 
 black hail, grey winter rain or Polar ice, immemor-
 able seasons before
Fish flew in Heaven, before a Ram died by the starry
 bush, before the Bull stamped sky and earth
or Twins inscribed their memories in clay or Crab'd
 flood
washed memory from the skull, or Lion sniffed the
 lilac breeze in Eden--
Before the Great Year began turning its twelve signs,
 ere constellations wheeled for twenty-four thousand
 sunny years
slowly round their axis in Sagittarius, one hundred 
 sixty-seven thousand times returning to this night

Radioactive Nemesis were you there at the beginning 
 black dumb tongueless unsmelling blast of Disil-
 lusion?
I manifest your Baptismal Word after four billion years
I guess your birthday in Earthling Night, I salute your
 dreadful presence last majestic as the Gods,
Sabaot, Jehova, Astapheus, Adonaeus, Elohim, Iao, 
 Ialdabaoth, Aeon from Aeon born ignorant in an
 Abyss of Light,
Sophia's reflections glittering thoughtful galaxies, whirl-
 pools of starspume silver-thin as hairs of Einstein!
Father Whitman I celebrate a matter that renders Self
 oblivion!
Grand Subject that annihilates inky hands & pages'
 prayers, old orators' inspired Immortalities,
I begin your chant, openmouthed exhaling into spacious
 sky over silent mills at Hanford, Savannah River,
 Rocky Flats, Pantex, Burlington, Albuquerque
I yell thru Washington, South Carolina, Colorado, 
 Texas, Iowa, New Mexico,
Where nuclear reactors creat a new Thing under the 
 Sun, where Rockwell war-plants fabricate this death
 stuff trigger in nitrogen baths,
Hanger-Silas Mason assembles the terrified weapon
 secret by ten thousands, & where Manzano Moun-
 tain boasts to store
its dreadful decay through two hundred forty millenia
 while our Galaxy spirals around its nebulous core.
I enter your secret places with my mind, I speak with your presence, I roar your Lion Roar with mortal mouth.
One microgram inspired to one lung, ten pounds of heavy metal dust adrift slow motion over grey Alps the breadth of the planet, how long before your radiance speeds blight and death to sentient beings? Enter my body or not I carol my spirit inside you, Unnaproachable Weight, O heavy heavy Element awakened I vocalize your con- sciousness to six worlds I chant your absolute Vanity.
Yeah monster of Anger birthed in fear O most Ignorant matter ever created unnatural to Earth! Delusion of metal empires! Destroyer of lying Scientists! Devourer of covetous Generals, Incinerator of Armies & Melter of Wars! Judgement of judgements, Divine Wind over vengeful nations, Molester of Presidents, Death-Scandal of Capital politics! Ah civilizations stupidly indus- trious! Canker-Hex on multitudes learned or illiterate! Manu- factured Spectre of human reason! O solidified imago of practicioner in Black Arts I dare your reality, I challenge your very being! I publish your cause and effect! I turn the wheel of Mind on your three hundred tons! Your name enters mankind's ear! I embody your ultimate powers! My oratory advances on your vaunted Mystery! This breath dispels your braggart fears! I sing your form at last behind your concrete & iron walls inside your fortress of rubber & translucent silicon shields in filtered cabinets and baths of lathe oil, My voice resounds through robot glove boxes & ignot cans and echoes in electric vaults inert of atmo- sphere, I enter with spirit out loud into your fuel rod drums underground on soundless thrones and beds of lead O density! This weightless anthem trumpets transcendent through hidden chambers and breaks through iron doors into the Infernal Room! Over your dreadful vibration this measured harmony floats audible, these jubilant tones are honey and milk and wine-sweet water Poured on the stone black floor, these syllables are barley groats I scatter on the Reactor's core, I call your name with hollow vowels, I psalm your Fate close by, my breath near deathless ever at your side to Spell your destiny, I set this verse prophetic on your mausoleum walls to seal you up Eternally with Diamond Truth! O doomed Plutonium.
II The Bar surveys Plutonian history from midnight lit with Mercury Vapor streetlamps till in dawn's early light he contemplates a tranquil politic spaced out between Nations' thought-forms proliferating bureaucratic & horrific arm'd, Satanic industries projected sudden with Five Hundred Billion Dollar Strength around the world same time this text is set in Boulder, Colorado before front range of Rocky Mountains twelve miles north of Rocky Flats Nuclear Facility in United States of North America, Western Hemi- sphere of planet Earth six months and fourteen days around our Solar System in a Spiral Galaxy the local year after Dominion of the last God nineteen hundred seventy eight Completed as yellow hazed dawn clouds brighten East, Denver city white below Blue sky transparent rising empty deep & spacious to a morning star high over the balcony above some autos sat with wheels to curb downhill from Flatiron's jagged pine ridge, sunlit mountain meadows sloped to rust-red sandstone cliffs above brick townhouse roofs as sparrows waked whistling through Marine Street's summer green leafed trees.
III This ode to you O Poets and Orators to come, you father Whitman as I join your side, you Congress and American people, you present meditators, spiritual friends & teachers, you O Master of the Diamond Arts, Take this wheel of syllables in hand, these vowels and consonants to breath's end take this inhalation of black poison to your heart, breath out this blessing from your breast on our creation forests cities oceans deserts rocky flats and mountains in the Ten Directions pacify with exhalation, enrich this Plutonian Ode to explode its empty thunder through earthen thought-worlds Magnetize this howl with heartless compassion, destroy this mountain of Plutonium with ordinary mind and body speech, thus empower this Mind-guard spirit gone out, gone out, gone beyond, gone beyond me, Wake space, so Ah! July 14, 1978
Written by Robert Browning | Create an image from this poem

The Glove

 (PETER RONSARD _loquitur_.
) ``Heigho!'' yawned one day King Francis, ``Distance all value enhances! ``When a man's busy, why, leisure ``Strikes him as wonderful pleasure: `` 'Faith, and at leisure once is he? ``Straightway he wants to be busy.
``Here we've got peace; and aghast I'm ``Caught thinking war the true pastime.
``Is there a reason in metre? ``Give us your speech, master Peter!'' I who, if mortal dare say so, Ne'er am at loss with my Naso, ``Sire,'' I replied, ``joys prove cloudlets: ``Men are the merest Ixions''--- Here the King whistled aloud, ``Let's ``---Heigho---go look at our lions!'' Such are the sorrowful chances If you talk fine to King Francis.
And so, to the courtyard proceeding, Our company, Francis was leading, Increased by new followers tenfold Before be arrived at the penfold; Lords, ladies, like clouds which bedizen At sunset the western horizon.
And Sir De Lorge pressed 'mid the foremost With the dame he professed to adore most.
Oh, what a face! One by fits eyed Her, and the horrible pitside; For the penfold surrounded a hollow Which led where the eye scarce dared follow, And shelved to the chamber secluded Where Bluebeard, the great lion, brooded.
The King bailed his keeper, an Arab As glossy and black as a scarab,*1 And bade him make sport and at once stir Up and out of his den the old monster.
They opened a hole in the wire-work Across it, and dropped there a firework, And fled: one's heart's beating redoubled; A pause, while the pit's mouth was troubled, The blackness and silence so utter, By the firework's slow sparkling and sputter; Then earth in a sudden contortion Gave out to our gaze her abortion.
Such a brute! Were I friend Clement Marot (Whose experience of nature's but narrow, And whose faculties move in no small mist When he versifies David the Psalmist) I should study that brute to describe you _Illim Juda Leonem de Tribu_.
One's whole blood grew curdling and creepy To see the black mane, vast and heapy, The tail in the air stiff and straining, The wide eyes, nor waxing nor waning, As over the barrier which bounded His platform, and us who surrounded The barrier, they reached and they rested On space that might stand him in best stead: For who knew, he thought, what the amazement, The eruption of clatter and blaze meant, And if, in this minute of wonder, No outlet, 'mid lightning and thunder, Lay broad, and, his shackles all shivered, The lion at last was delivered? Ay, that was the open sky o'erhead! And you saw by the flash on his forehead, By the hope in those eyes wide and steady, He was leagues in the desert already, Driving the flocks up the mountain, Or catlike couched hard by the fountain To waylay the date-gathering negress: So guarded he entrance or egress.
``How he stands!'' quoth the King: ``we may well swear, (``No novice, we've won our spurs elsewhere ``And so can afford the confession,) ``We exercise wholesome discretion ``In keeping aloof from his threshold; ``Once hold you, those jaws want no fresh hold, ``Their first would too pleasantly purloin ``The visitor's brisket or surloin: ``But who's he would prove so fool-hardy? ``Not the best man of Marignan, pardie!'' The sentence no sooner was uttered, Than over the rails a glove flattered, Fell close to the lion, and rested: The dame 'twas, who flung it and jested With life so, De Lorge had been wooing For months past; he sat there pursuing His suit, weighing out with nonchalance Fine speeches like gold from a balance.
Sound the trumpet, no true knight's a tarrier! De Lorge made one leap at the barrier, Walked straight to the glove,---while the lion Neer moved, kept his far-reaching eye on The palm-tree-edged desert-spring's sapphire, And the musky oiled skin of the Kaffir,--- Picked it up, and as calmly retreated, Leaped back where the lady was seated, And full in the face of its owner Flung the glove.
``Your heart's queen, you dethrone her? ``So should I!''---cried the King---``'twas mere vanity, ``Not love, set that task to humanity!'' Lords and ladies alike turned with loathing From such a proved wolf in sheep's clothing.
Not so, I; for I caught an expression In her brow's undisturbed self-possession Amid the Court's scoffing and merriment,--- As if from no pleasing experiment She rose, yet of pain not much heedful So long as the process was needful,--- As if she had tried in a crucible, To what ``speeches like gold'' were reducible, And, finding the finest prove copper, Felt the smoke in her face was but proper; To know what she had _not_ to trust to, Was worth all the ashes and dust too.
She went out 'mid hooting and laughter; Clement Marot stayed; I followed after, And asked, as a grace, what it all meant? If she wished not the rash deed's recalment? ``For I''---so I spoke---``am a poet: ``Human nature,---behoves that I know it!'' She told me, ``Too long had I heard ``Of the deed proved alone by the word: ``For my love---what De Lorge would not dare! ``With my scorn---what De Lorge could compare! ``And the endless descriptions of death ``He would brave when my lip formed a breath, ``I must reckon as braved, or, of course, ``Doubt his word---and moreover, perforce, ``For such gifts as no lady could spurn, ``Must offer my love in return.
``When I looked on your lion, it brought ``All the dangers at once to my thought, ``Encountered by all sorts of men, ``Before he was lodged in his den,--- ``From the poor slave whose club or bare hands ``Dug the trap, set the snare on the sands, ``With no King and no Court to applaud, ``By no shame, should he shrink, overawed, ``Yet to capture the creature made shift, ``That his rude boys might laugh at the gift, ``---To the page who last leaped o'er the fence ``Of the pit, on no greater pretence ``Than to get back the bonnet he dropped, ``Lest his pay for a week should be stopped.
``So, wiser I judged it to make ``One trial what `death for my sake' ``Really meant, while the power was yet mine, ``Than to wait until time should define ``Such a phrase not so simply as I, ``Who took it to mean just `to die.
' ``The blow a glove gives is but weak: ``Does the mark yet discolour my cheek? ``But when the heart suffers a blow, ``Will the pain pass so soon, do you know?'' I looked, as away she was sweeping, And saw a youth eagerly keeping As close as he dared to the doorway.
No doubt that a noble should more weigh His life than befits a plebeian; And yet, had our brute been Nemean--- (I judge by a certain calm fervour The youth stepped with, forward to serve her) ---He'd have scarce thought you did him the worst turn If you whispered ``Friend, what you'd get, first earn!'' And when, shortly after, she carried Her shame from the Court, and they married, To that marriage some happiness, maugre The voice of the Court, I dared augur.
For De Lorge, he made women with men vie, Those in wonder and praise, these in envy; And in short stood so plain a head taller That he wooed and won .
.
.
how do you call her? The beauty, that rose in the sequel To the King's love, who loved her a week well.
And 'twas noticed he never would honour De Lorge (who looked daggers upon her) With the easy commission of stretching His legs in the service, and fetching His wife, from her chamber, those straying Sad gloves she was always mislaying, While the King took the closet to chat in,--- But of course this adventure came pat in.
And never the King told the story, How bringing a glove brought such glory, But the wife smiled---``His nerves are grown firmer: ``Mine he brings now and utters no murmur.
'' _Venienti occurrite morbo!_ With which moral I drop my theorbo.
*1 A beetle.
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 Jonathan Swift | Create an image from this poem

The Beasts Confession

 To the Priest, on Observing how most Men mistake their own Talents
When beasts could speak (the learned say, 
They still can do so ev'ry day),
It seems, they had religion then,
As much as now we find in men.
It happen'd, when a plague broke out (Which therefore made them more devout), The king of brutes (to make it plain, Of quadrupeds I only mean) By proclamation gave command, That ev'ry subject in the land Should to the priest confess their sins; And thus the pious wolf begins: "Good father, I must own with shame, That often I have been to blame: I must confess, on Friday last, Wretch that I was! I broke my fast: But I defy the basest tongue To prove I did my neighbour wrong; Or ever went to seek my food By rapine, theft, or thirst of blood.
" The ***, approaching next, confess'd That in his heart he lov'd a jest: A wag he was, he needs must own, And could not let a dunce alone: Sometimes his friend he would not spare, And might perhaps be too severe: But yet, the worst that could be said, He was a wit both born and bred; And, if it be a sin or shame, Nature alone must bear the blame: One fault he hath, is sorry for't, His ears are half a foot too short; Which could he to the standard bring, He'd show his face before the King: Then for his voice, there's none disputes That he's the nightingale of brutes.
The swine with contrite heart allow'd, His shape and beauty made him proud: In diet was perhaps too nice, But gluttony was ne'er his vice: In ev'ry turn of life content, And meekly took what fortune sent: Inquire through all the parish round, A better neighbour ne'er was found: His vigilance might some displease; 'Tis true he hated sloth like peas.
The mimic ape began his chatter, How evil tongues his life bespatter: Much of the cens'ring world complain'd, Who said, his gravity was feign'd: Indeed, the strictness of his morals Engag'd him in a hundred quarrels: He saw, and he was griev'd to see't, His zeal was sometimes indiscreet: He found his virtues too severe For our corrupted times to bear: Yet, such a lewd licentious age Might well excuse a Stoic's rage.
The goat advanc'd with decent pace; And first excus'd his youthful face; Forgiveness begg'd that he appear'd ('Twas nature's fault) without a beard.
'Tis true, he was not much inclin'd To fondness for the female kind; Not, as his enemies object, From chance, or natural defect; Not by his frigid constitution, But through a pious resolution; For he had made a holy vow Of chastity as monks do now; Which he resolv'd to keep for ever hence, As strictly too, as doth his Reverence.
Apply the tale, and you shall find, How just it suits with human kind.
Some faults we own: but, can you guess? Why?--virtues carried to excess, Wherewith our vanity endows us, Though neither foe nor friend allows us.
The lawyer swears, you may rely on't, He never squeez'd a needy client; And this he makes his constant rule, For which his brethren call him fool: His conscience always was so nice, He freely gave the poor advice; By which he lost, he may affirm, A hundred fees last Easter term.
While others of the learned robe Would break the patience of a Job; No pleader at the bar could match His diligence and quick dispatch; Ne'er kept a cause, he well may boast, Above a term or two at most.
The cringing knave, who seeks a place Without success, thus tells his case: Why should he longer mince the matter? He fail'd because he could not flatter; He had not learn'd to turn his coat, Nor for a party give his vote: His crime he quickly understood; Too zealous for the nation's good: He found the ministers resent it, Yet could not for his heart repent it.
The chaplain vows he cannot fawn, Though it would raise him to the lawn: He pass'd his hours among his books; You find it in his meagre looks: He might, if he were worldly wise, Preferment get and spare his eyes: But own'd he had a stubborn spirit, That made him trust alone in merit: Would rise by merit to promotion; Alas! a mere chimeric notion.
The doctor, if you will believe him, Confess'd a sin; and God forgive him! Call'd up at midnight, ran to save A blind old beggar from the grave: But see how Satan spreads his snares; He quite forgot to say his prayers.
He cannot help it for his heart Sometimes to act the parson's part: Quotes from the Bible many a sentence, That moves his patients to repentance: And, when his med'cines do no good, Supports their minds with heav'nly food, At which, however well intended, He hears the clergy are offended; And grown so bold behind his back, To call him hypocrite and quack.
In his own church he keeps a seat; Says grace before and after meat; And calls, without affecting airs, His household twice a day to prayers.
He shuns apothecaries' shops; And hates to cram the sick with slops: He scorns to make his art a trade; Nor bribes my lady's fav'rite maid.
Old nurse-keepers would never hire To recommend him to the squire; Which others, whom he will not name, Have often practis'd to their shame.
The statesman tells you with a sneer, His fault is to be too sincere; And, having no sinister ends, Is apt to disoblige his friends.
The nation's good, his master's glory, Without regard to Whig or Tory, Were all the schemes he had in view; Yet he was seconded by few: Though some had spread a hundred lies, 'Twas he defeated the Excise.
'Twas known, though he had borne aspersion, That standing troops were his aversion: His practice was, in ev'ry station, To serve the King, and please the nation.
Though hard to find in ev'ry case The fittest man to fill a place: His promises he ne'er forgot, But took memorials on the spot: His enemies, for want of charity, Said he affected popularity: 'Tis true, the people understood, That all he did was for their good; Their kind affections he has tried; No love is lost on either side.
He came to Court with fortune clear, Which now he runs out ev'ry year: Must, at the rate that he goes on, Inevitably be undone: Oh! if his Majesty would please To give him but a writ of ease, Would grant him licence to retire, As it hath long been his desire, By fair accounts it would be found, He's poorer by ten thousand pound.
He owns, and hopes it is no sin, He ne'er was partial to his kin; He thought it base for men in stations To crowd the Court with their relations; His country was his dearest mother, And ev'ry virtuous man his brother; Through modesty or awkward shame (For which he owns himself to blame), He found the wisest man he could, Without respect to friends or blood; Nor ever acts on private views, When he hath liberty to choose.
The sharper swore he hated play, Except to pass an hour away: And well he might; for, to his cost, By want of skill he always lost; He heard there was a club of cheats, Who had contriv'd a thousand feats; Could change the stock, or cog a die, And thus deceive the sharpest eye: Nor wonder how his fortune sunk, His brothers fleece him when he's drunk.
I own the moral not exact; Besides, the tale is false in fact; And so absurd, that could I raise up From fields Elysian fabling Aesop; I would accuse him to his face For libelling the four-foot race.
Creatures of ev'ry kind but ours Well comprehend their natural pow'rs; While we, whom reason ought to sway, Mistake our talents ev'ry day.
The *** was never known so stupid To act the part of Tray or Cupid; Nor leaps upon his master's lap, There to be strok'd, and fed with pap, As Aesop would the world persuade; He better understands his trade: Nor comes, whene'er his lady whistles; But carries loads, and feeds on thistles.
Our author's meaning, I presume, is A creature bipes et implumis; Wherein the moralist design'd A compliment on human kind: For here he owns, that now and then Beasts may degenerate into men.


Written by Robert Hayden | Create an image from this poem

Middle Passage

 I 

Jesús, Estrella, Esperanza, Mercy: 

Sails flashing to the wind like weapons, 
sharks following the moans the fever and the dying; 
horror the corposant and compass rose.
Middle Passage: voyage through death to life upon these shores.
"10 April 1800-- Blacks rebellious.
Crew uneasy.
Our linguist says their moaning is a prayer for death, our and their own.
Some try to starve themselves.
Lost three this morning leaped with crazy laughter to the waiting sharks, sang as they went under.
" Desire, Adventure, Tartar, Ann: Standing to America, bringing home black gold, black ivory, black seed.
Deep in the festering hold thy father lies, of his bones New England pews are made, those are altar lights that were his eyes.
Jesus Saviour Pilot Me Over Life's Tempestuous Sea We pray that Thou wilt grant, O Lord, safe passage to our vessels bringing heathen souls unto Thy chastening.
Jesus Saviour "8 bells.
I cannot sleep, for I am sick with fear, but writing eases fear a little since still my eyes can see these words take shape upon the page & so I write, as one would turn to exorcism.
4 days scudding, but now the sea is calm again.
Misfortune follows in our wake like sharks (our grinning tutelary gods).
Which one of us has killed an albatross? A plague among our blacks--Ophthalmia: blindness--& we have jettisoned the blind to no avail.
It spreads, the terrifying sickness spreads.
Its claws have scratched sight from the Capt.
's eyes & there is blindness in the fo'c'sle & we must sail 3 weeks before we come to port.
" What port awaits us, Davy Jones' or home? I've heard of slavers drifting, drifting, playthings of wind and storm and chance, their crews gone blind, the jungle hatred crawling up on deck.
Thou Who Walked On Galilee "Deponent further sayeth The Bella J left the Guinea Coast with cargo of five hundred blacks and odd for the barracoons of Florida: "That there was hardly room 'tween-decks for half the sweltering cattle stowed spoon-fashion there; that some went mad of thirst and tore their flesh and sucked the blood: "That Crew and Captain lusted with the comeliest of the savage girls kept naked in the cabins; that there was one they called The Guinea Rose and they cast lots and fought to lie with her: "That when the Bo's'n piped all hands, the flames spreading from starboard already were beyond control, the negroes howling and their chains entangled with the flames: "That the burning blacks could not be reached, that the Crew abandoned ship, leaving their shrieking negresses behind, that the Captain perished drunken with the wenches: "Further Deponent sayeth not.
" Pilot Oh Pilot Me II Aye, lad, and I have seen those factories, Gambia, Rio Pongo, Calabar; have watched the artful mongos baiting traps of war wherein the victor and the vanquished Were caught as prizes for our barracoons.
Have seen the ****** kings whose vanity and greed turned wild black hides of Fellatah, Mandingo, Ibo, Kru to gold for us.
And there was one--King Anthracite we named him-- fetish face beneath French parasols of brass and orange velvet, impudent mouth whose cups were carven skulls of enemies: He'd honor us with drum and feast and conjo and palm-oil-glistening wenches deft in love, and for tin crowns that shone with paste, red calico and German-silver trinkets Would have the drums talk war and send his warriors to burn the sleeping villages and kill the sick and old and lead the young in coffles to our factories.
Twenty years a trader, twenty years, for there was wealth aplenty to be harvested from those black fields, and I'd be trading still but for the fevers melting down my bones.
III Shuttles in the rocking loom of history, the dark ships move, the dark ships move, their bright ironical names like jests of kindness on a murderer's mouth; plough through thrashing glister toward fata morgana's lucent melting shore, weave toward New World littorals that are mirage and myth and actual shore.
Voyage through death, voyage whose chartings are unlove.
A charnel stench, effluvium of living death spreads outward from the hold, where the living and the dead, the horribly dying, lie interlocked, lie foul with blood and excrement.
Deep in the festering hold thy father lies, the corpse of mercy rots with him, rats eat love's rotten gelid eyes.
But, oh, the living look at you with human eyes whose suffering accuses you, whose hatred reaches through the swill of dark to strike you like a leper's claw.
You cannot stare that hatred down or chain the fear that stalks the watches and breathes on you its fetid scorching breath; cannot kill the deep immortal human wish, the timeless will.
"But for the storm that flung up barriers of wind and wave, The Amistad, señores, would have reached the port of Príncipe in two, three days at most; but for the storm we should have been prepared for what befell.
Swift as a puma's leap it came.
There was that interval of moonless calm filled only with the water's and the rigging's usual sounds, then sudden movement, blows and snarling cries and they had fallen on us with machete and marlinspike.
It was as though the very air, the night itself were striking us.
Exhausted by the rigors of the storm, we were no match for them.
Our men went down before the murderous Africans.
Our loyal Celestino ran from below with gun and lantern and I saw, before the cane- knife's wounding flash, Cinquez, that surly brute who calls himself a prince, directing, urging on the ghastly work.
He hacked the poor mulatto down, and then he turned on me.
The decks were slippery when daylight finally came.
It sickens me to think of what I saw, of how these apes threw overboard the butchered bodies of our men, true Christians all, like so much jetsam.
Enough, enough.
The rest is quickly told: Cinquez was forced to spare the two of us you see to steer the ship to Africa, and we like phantoms doomed to rove the sea voyaged east by day and west by night, deceiving them, hoping for rescue, prisoners on our own vessel, till at length we drifted to the shores of this your land, America, where we were freed from our unspeakable misery.
Now we demand, good sirs, the extradition of Cinquez and his accomplices to La Havana.
And it distresses us to know there are so many here who seem inclined to justify the mutiny of these blacks.
We find it paradoxical indeed that you whose wealth, whose tree of liberty are rooted in the labor of your slaves should suffer the august John Quincey Adams to speak with so much passion of the right of chattel slaves to kill their lawful masters and with his Roman rhetoric weave a hero's garland for Cinquez.
I tell you that we are determined to return to Cuba with our slaves and there see justice done.
Cinquez-- or let us say 'the Prince'--Cinquez shall die.
" The deep immortal human wish, the timeless will: Cinquez its deathless primaveral image, life that transfigures many lives.
Voyage through death to life upon these shores.
Written by Alfred Lord Tennyson | Create an image from this poem

All Things Will Die

 Clearly the blue river chimes in its flowing

 Under my eye;
Warmly and broadly the south winds are blowing

 Over the sky.
One after another the white clouds are fleeting; Every heart this May morning in joyance is beating Full merrily; Yet all things must die.
The stream will cease to flow; The wind will cease to blow; The clouds will cease to fleet; The heart will cease to beat; For all things must die.
All things must die.
Spring will come never more.
O, vanity! Death waits at the door.
See! our friends are all forsaking The wine and the merrymaking.
We are call'd—we must go.
Laid low, very low, In the dark we must lie.
The merry glees are still; The voice of the bird Shall no more be heard, Nor the wind on the hill.
O, misery! Hark! death is calling While I speak to ye, The jaw is falling, The red cheek paling, The strong limbs failing; Ice with the warm blood mixing; The eyeballs fixing.
Nine times goes the passing bell: Ye merry souls, farewell.
The old earth Had a birth, As all men know, Long ago.
And the old earth must die.
So let the warm winds range, And the blue wave beat the shore; For even and morn Ye will never see Thro' eternity.
All things were born.
Ye will come never more, For all things must die.
Written by Dylan Thomas | Create an image from this poem

I In My Intricate Image

 I

I, in my intricate image, stride on two levels,
Forged in man's minerals, the brassy orator
Laying my ghost in metal,
The scales of this twin world tread on the double,
My half ghost in armour hold hard in death's corridor,
To my man-iron sidle.
Beginning with doom in the bulb, the spring unravels, Bright as her spinning-wheels, the colic season Worked on a world of petals; She threads off the sap and needles, blood and bubble Casts to the pine roots, raising man like a mountain Out of the naked entrail.
Beginning with doom in the ghost, and the springing marvels, Image of images, my metal phantom Forcing forth through the harebell, My man of leaves and the bronze root, mortal, unmortal, I, in my fusion of rose and male motion, Create this twin miracle.
This is the fortune of manhood: the natural peril, A steeplejack tower, bonerailed and masterless, No death more natural; Thus the shadowless man or ox, and the pictured devil, In seizure of silence commit the dead nuisance.
The natural parallel.
My images stalk the trees and the slant sap's tunnel, No tread more perilous, the green steps and spire Mount on man's footfall, I with the wooden insect in the tree of nettles, In the glass bed of grapes with snail and flower, Hearing the weather fall.
Intricate manhood of ending, the invalid rivals, Voyaging clockwise off the symboled harbour, Finding the water final, On the consumptives' terrace taking their two farewells, Sail on the level, the departing adventure, To the sea-blown arrival.
II They climb the country pinnacle, Twelve winds encounter by the white host at pasture, Corner the mounted meadows in the hill corral; They see the squirrel stumble, The haring snail go giddily round the flower, A quarrel of weathers and trees in the windy spiral.
As they dive, the dust settles, The cadaverous gravels, falls thick and steadily, The highroad of water where the seabear and mackerel Turn the long sea arterial Turning a petrol face blind to the enemy Turning the riderless dead by the channel wall.
(Death instrumental, Splitting the long eye open, and the spiral turnkey, Your corkscrew grave centred in navel and nipple, The neck of the nostril, Under the mask and the ether, they making bloody The tray of knives, the antiseptic funeral; Bring out the black patrol, Your monstrous officers and the decaying army, The sexton sentinel, garrisoned under thistles, A cock-on-a-dunghill Crowing to Lazarus the morning is vanity, Dust be your saviour under the conjured soil.
) As they drown, the chime travels, Sweetly the diver's bell in the steeple of spindrift Rings out the Dead Sea scale; And, clapped in water till the triton dangles, Strung by the flaxen whale-weed, from the hangman's raft, Hear they the salt glass breakers and the tongues of burial.
(Turn the sea-spindle lateral, The grooved land rotating, that the stylus of lightning Dazzle this face of voices on the moon-turned table, Let the wax disk babble Shames and the damp dishonours, the relic scraping.
These are your years' recorders.
The circular world stands still.
) III They suffer the undead water where the turtle nibbles, Come unto sea-stuck towers, at the fibre scaling, The flight of the carnal skull And the cell-stepped thimble; Suffer, my topsy-turvies, that a double angel Sprout from the stony lockers like a tree on Aran.
Be by your one ghost pierced, his pointed ferrule, Brass and the bodiless image, on a stick of folly Star-set at Jacob's angle, Smoke hill and hophead's valley, And the five-fathomed Hamlet on his father's coral Thrusting the tom-thumb vision up the iron mile.
Suffer the slash of vision by the fin-green stubble, Be by the ships' sea broken at the manstring anchored The stoved bones' voyage downward In the shipwreck of muscle; Give over, lovers, locking, and the seawax struggle, Love like a mist or fire through the bed of eels.
And in the pincers of the boiling circle, The sea and instrument, nicked in the locks of time, My great blood's iron single In the pouring town, I, in a wind on fire, from green Adam's cradle, No man more magical, clawed out the crocodile.
Man was the scales, the death birds on enamel, Tail, Nile, and snout, a saddler of the rushes, Time in the hourless houses Shaking the sea-hatched skull, And, as for oils and ointments on the flying grail, All-hollowed man wept for his white apparel.
Man was Cadaver's masker, the harnessing mantle, Windily master of man was the rotten fathom, My ghost in his metal neptune Forged in man's mineral.
This was the god of beginning in the intricate seawhirl, And my images roared and rose on heaven's hill.
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