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Best Famous Wasted Poems

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Written by Robert Frost | Create an image from this poem

Maple

 Her teacher's certainty it must be Mabel
Made Maple first take notice of her name.
She asked her father and he told her, "Maple— Maple is right.
" "But teacher told the school There's no such name.
" "Teachers don't know as much As fathers about children, you tell teacher.
You tell her that it's M-A-P-L-E.
You ask her if she knows a maple tree.
Well, you were named after a maple tree.
Your mother named you.
You and she just saw Each other in passing in the room upstairs, One coming this way into life, and one Going the other out of life—you know? So you can't have much recollection of her.
She had been having a long look at you.
She put her finger in your cheek so hard It must have made your dimple there, and said, 'Maple.
' I said it too: 'Yes, for her name.
' She nodded.
So we're sure there's no mistake.
I don't know what she wanted it to mean, But it seems like some word she left to bid you Be a good girl—be like a maple tree.
How like a maple tree's for us to guess.
Or for a little girl to guess sometime.
Not now—at least I shouldn't try too hard now.
By and by I will tell you all I know About the different trees, and something, too, About your mother that perhaps may help.
" Dangerous self-arousing words to sow.
Luckily all she wanted of her name then Was to rebuke her teacher with it next day, And give the teacher a scare as from her father.
Anything further had been wasted on her, Or so he tried to think to avoid blame.
She would forget it.
She all but forgot it.
What he sowed with her slept so long a sleep, And came so near death in the dark of years, That when it woke and came to life again The flower was different from the parent seed.
It carne back vaguely at the glass one day, As she stood saying her name over aloud, Striking it gently across her lowered eyes To make it go well with the way she looked.
What was it about her name? Its strangeness lay In having too much meaning.
Other names, As Lesley, Carol, Irma, Marjorie, Signified nothing.
Rose could have a meaning, But hadn't as it went.
(She knew a Rose.
) This difference from other names it was Made people notice it—and notice her.
(They either noticed it, or got it wrong.
) Her problem was to find out what it asked In dress or manner of the girl who bore it.
If she could form some notion of her mother— What she bad thought was lovely, and what good.
This was her mother's childhood home; The house one story high in front, three stories On the end it presented to the road.
(The arrangement made a pleasant sunny cellar.
) Her mother's bedroom was her father's still, Where she could watch her mother's picture fading.
Once she found for a bookmark in the Bible A maple leaf she thought must have been laid In wait for her there.
She read every word Of the two pages it was pressed between, As if it was her mother speaking to her.
But forgot to put the leaf back in closing And lost the place never to read again.
She was sure, though, there had been nothing in it.
So she looked for herself, as everyone Looks for himself, more or less outwardly.
And her self-seeking, fitful though it was, May still have been what led her on to read, And think a little, and get some city schooling.
She learned shorthand, whatever shorthand may Have had to do with it--she sometimes wondered.
So, till she found herself in a strange place For the name Maple to have brought her to, Taking dictation on a paper pad And, in the pauses when she raised her eyes, Watching out of a nineteenth story window An airship laboring with unshiplike motion And a vague all-disturbing roar above the river Beyond the highest city built with hands.
Someone was saying in such natural tones She almost wrote the words down on her knee, "Do you know you remind me of a tree-- A maple tree?" "Because my name is Maple?" "Isn't it Mabel? I thought it was Mabel.
" "No doubt you've heard the office call me Mabel.
I have to let them call me what they like.
" They were both stirred that he should have divined Without the name her personal mystery.
It made it seem as if there must be something She must have missed herself.
So they were married, And took the fancy home with them to live by.
They went on pilgrimage once to her father's (The house one story high in front, three stories On the side it presented to the road) To see if there was not some special tree She might have overlooked.
They could find none, Not so much as a single tree for shade, Let alone grove of trees for sugar orchard.
She told him of the bookmark maple leaf In the big Bible, and all she remembered of the place marked with it—"Wave offering, Something about wave offering, it said.
" "You've never asked your father outright, have you?" "I have, and been Put off sometime, I think.
" (This was her faded memory of the way Once long ago her father had put himself off.
) "Because no telling but it may have been Something between your father and your mother Not meant for us at all.
" "Not meant for me? Where would the fairness be in giving me A name to carry for life and never know The secret of?" "And then it may have been Something a father couldn't tell a daughter As well as could a mother.
And again It may have been their one lapse into fancy 'Twould be too bad to make him sorry for By bringing it up to him when be was too old.
Your father feels us round him with our questing, And holds us off unnecessarily, As if he didn't know what little thing Might lead us on to a discovery.
It was as personal as be could be About the way he saw it was with you To say your mother, bad she lived, would be As far again as from being born to bearing.
" "Just one look more with what you say in mind, And I give up"; which last look came to nothing.
But though they now gave up the search forever, They clung to what one had seen in the other By inspiration.
It proved there was something.
They kept their thoughts away from when the maples Stood uniform in buckets, and the steam Of sap and snow rolled off the sugarhouse.
When they made her related to the maples, It was the tree the autumn fire ran through And swept of leathern leaves, but left the bark Unscorched, unblackened, even, by any smoke.
They always took their holidays in autumn.
Once they came on a maple in a glade, Standing alone with smooth arms lifted up, And every leaf of foliage she'd worn Laid scarlet and pale pink about her feet.
But its age kept them from considering this one.
Twenty-five years ago at Maple's naming It hardly could have been a two-leaved seedling The next cow might have licked up out at pasture.
Could it have been another maple like it? They hovered for a moment near discovery, Figurative enough to see the symbol, But lacking faith in anything to mean The same at different times to different people.
Perhaps a filial diffidence partly kept them From thinking it could be a thing so bridal.
And anyway it came too late for Maple.
She used her hands to cover up her eyes.
"We would not see the secret if we could now: We are not looking for it any more.
" Thus had a name with meaning, given in death, Made a girl's marriage, and ruled in her life.
No matter that the meaning was not clear.
A name with meaning could bring up a child, Taking the child out of the parents' hands.
Better a meaningless name, I should say, As leaving more to nature and happy chance.
Name children some names and see what you do.


Written by William Butler Yeats | Create an image from this poem

All Souls Night

 Epilogue to "A Vision'

MIDNIGHT has come, and the great Christ Church Bell
And may a lesser bell sound through the room;
And it is All Souls' Night,
And two long glasses brimmed with muscatel
Bubble upon the table.
A ghost may come; For it is a ghost's right, His element is so fine Being sharpened by his death, To drink from the wine-breath While our gross palates drink from the whole wine.
I need some mind that, if the cannon sound From every quarter of the world, can stay Wound in mind's pondering As mummies in the mummy-cloth are wound; Because I have a marvellous thing to say, A certain marvellous thing None but the living mock, Though not for sober ear; It may be all that hear Should laugh and weep an hour upon the clock.
Horton's the first I call.
He loved strange thought And knew that sweet extremity of pride That's called platonic love, And that to such a pitch of passion wrought Nothing could bring him, when his lady died, Anodyne for his love.
Words were but wasted breath; One dear hope had he: The inclemency Of that or the next winter would be death.
Two thoughts were so mixed up I could not tell Whether of her or God he thought the most, But think that his mind's eye, When upward turned, on one sole image fell; And that a slight companionable ghost, Wild with divinity, Had so lit up the whole Immense miraculous house The Bible promised us, It seemed a gold-fish swimming in a bowl.
On Florence Emery I call the next, Who finding the first wrinkles on a face Admired and beautiful, And knowing that the future would be vexed With 'minished beauty, multiplied commonplace, preferred to teach a school Away from neighbour or friend, Among dark skins, and there permit foul years to wear Hidden from eyesight to the unnoticed end.
Before that end much had she ravelled out From a discourse in figurative speech By some learned Indian On the soul's journey.
How it is whirled about, Wherever the orbit of the moon can reach, Until it plunge into the sun; And there, free and yet fast, Being both Chance and Choice, Forget its broken toys And sink into its own delight at last.
And I call up MacGregor from the grave, For in my first hard springtime we were friends.
Although of late estranged.
I thought him half a lunatic, half knave, And told him so, but friendship never ends; And what if mind seem changed, And it seem changed with the mind, When thoughts rise up unbid On generous things that he did And I grow half contented to be blind! He had much industry at setting out, Much boisterous courage, before loneliness Had driven him crazed; For meditations upon unknown thought Make human intercourse grow less and less; They are neither paid nor praised.
but he d object to the host, The glass because my glass; A ghost-lover he was And may have grown more arrogant being a ghost.
But names are nothing.
What matter who it be, So that his elements have grown so fine The fume of muscatel Can give his sharpened palate ecstasy No living man can drink from the whole wine.
I have mummy truths to tell Whereat the living mock, Though not for sober ear, For maybe all that hear Should laugh and weep an hour upon the clock.
Such thought -- such thought have I that hold it tight Till meditation master all its parts, Nothing can stay my glance Until that glance run in the world's despite To where the damned have howled away their hearts, And where the blessed dance; Such thought, that in it bound I need no other thing, Wound in mind's wandering As mummies in the mummy-cloth are wound.
Oxford, Autumn 1920
Written by T S (Thomas Stearns) Eliot | Create an image from this poem

Four Quartets 2: East Coker

 I

In my beginning is my end.
In succession Houses rise and fall, crumble, are extended, Are removed, destroyed, restored, or in their place Is an open field, or a factory, or a by-pass.
Old stone to new building, old timber to new fires, Old fires to ashes, and ashes to the earth Which is already flesh, fur and faeces, Bone of man and beast, cornstalk and leaf.
Houses live and die: there is a time for building And a time for living and for generation And a time for the wind to break the loosened pane And to shake the wainscot where the field-mouse trots And to shake the tattered arras woven with a silent motto.
In my beginning is my end.
Now the light falls Across the open field, leaving the deep lane Shuttered with branches, dark in the afternoon, Where you lean against a bank while a van passes, And the deep lane insists on the direction Into the village, in the electric heat Hypnotised.
In a warm haze the sultry light Is absorbed, not refracted, by grey stone.
The dahlias sleep in the empty silence.
Wait for the early owl.
In that open field If you do not come too close, if you do not come too close, On a summer midnight, you can hear the music Of the weak pipe and the little drum And see them dancing around the bonfire The association of man and woman In daunsinge, signifying matrimonie— A dignified and commodiois sacrament.
Two and two, necessarye coniunction, Holding eche other by the hand or the arm Whiche betokeneth concorde.
Round and round the fire Leaping through the flames, or joined in circles, Rustically solemn or in rustic laughter Lifting heavy feet in clumsy shoes, Earth feet, loam feet, lifted in country mirth Mirth of those long since under earth Nourishing the corn.
Keeping time, Keeping the rhythm in their dancing As in their living in the living seasons The time of the seasons and the constellations The time of milking and the time of harvest The time of the coupling of man and woman And that of beasts.
Feet rising and falling.
Eating and drinking.
Dung and death.
Dawn points, and another day Prepares for heat and silence.
Out at sea the dawn wind Wrinkles and slides.
I am here Or there, or elsewhere.
In my beginning.
II What is the late November doing With the disturbance of the spring And creatures of the summer heat, And snowdrops writhing under feet And hollyhocks that aim too high Red into grey and tumble down Late roses filled with early snow? Thunder rolled by the rolling stars Simulates triumphal cars Deployed in constellated wars Scorpion fights against the Sun Until the Sun and Moon go down Comets weep and Leonids fly Hunt the heavens and the plains Whirled in a vortex that shall bring The world to that destructive fire Which burns before the ice-cap reigns.
That was a way of putting it—not very satisfactory: A periphrastic study in a worn-out poetical fashion, Leaving one still with the intolerable wrestle With words and meanings.
The poetry does not matter.
It was not (to start again) what one had expected.
What was to be the value of the long looked forward to, Long hoped for calm, the autumnal serenity And the wisdom of age? Had they deceived us Or deceived themselves, the quiet-voiced elders, Bequeathing us merely a receipt for deceit? The serenity only a deliberate hebetude, The wisdom only the knowledge of dead secrets Useless in the darkness into which they peered Or from which they turned their eyes.
There is, it seems to us, At best, only a limited value In the knowledge derived from experience.
The knowledge imposes a pattern, and falsifies, For the pattern is new in every moment And every moment is a new and shocking Valuation of all we have been.
We are only undeceived Of that which, deceiving, could no longer harm.
In the middle, not only in the middle of the way But all the way, in a dark wood, in a bramble, On the edge of a grimpen, where is no secure foothold, And menaced by monsters, fancy lights, Risking enchantment.
Do not let me hear Of the wisdom of old men, but rather of their folly, Their fear of fear and frenzy, their fear of possession, Of belonging to another, or to others, or to God.
The only wisdom we can hope to acquire Is the wisdom of humility: humility is endless.
The houses are all gone under the sea.
The dancers are all gone under the hill.
III O dark dark dark.
They all go into the dark, The vacant interstellar spaces, the vacant into the vacant, The captains, merchant bankers, eminent men of letters, The generous patrons of art, the statesmen and the rulers, Distinguished civil servants, chairmen of many committees, Industrial lords and petty contractors, all go into the dark, And dark the Sun and Moon, and the Almanach de Gotha And the Stock Exchange Gazette, the Directory of Directors, And cold the sense and lost the motive of action.
And we all go with them, into the silent funeral, Nobody's funeral, for there is no one to bury.
I said to my soul, be still, and let the dark come upon you Which shall be the darkness of God.
As, in a theatre, The lights are extinguished, for the scene to be changed With a hollow rumble of wings, with a movement of darkness on darkness, And we know that the hills and the trees, the distant panorama And the bold imposing façade are all being rolled away— Or as, when an underground train, in the tube, stops too long between stations And the conversation rises and slowly fades into silence And you see behind every face the mental emptiness deepen Leaving only the growing terror of nothing to think about; Or when, under ether, the mind is conscious but conscious of nothing— I said to my soul, be still, and wait without hope For hope would be hope for the wrong thing; wait without love, For love would be love of the wrong thing; there is yet faith But the faith and the love and the hope are all in the waiting.
Wait without thought, for you are not ready for thought: So the darkness shall be the light, and the stillness the dancing.
Whisper of running streams, and winter lightning.
The wild thyme unseen and the wild strawberry, The laughter in the garden, echoed ecstasy Not lost, but requiring, pointing to the agony Of death and birth.
You say I am repeating Something I have said before.
I shall say it again.
Shall I say it again? In order to arrive there, To arrive where you are, to get from where you are not, You must go by a way wherein there is no ecstasy.
In order to arrive at what you do not know You must go by a way which is the way of ignorance.
In order to possess what you do not possess You must go by the way of dispossession.
In order to arrive at what you are not You must go through the way in which you are not.
And what you do not know is the only thing you know And what you own is what you do not own And where you are is where you are not.
IV The wounded surgeon plies the steel That questions the distempered part; Beneath the bleeding hands we feel The sharp compassion of the healer's art Resolving the enigma of the fever chart.
Our only health is the disease If we obey the dying nurse Whose constant care is not to please But to remind of our, and Adam's curse, And that, to be restored, our sickness must grow worse.
The whole earth is our hospital Endowed by the ruined millionaire, Wherein, if we do well, we shall Die of the absolute paternal care That will not leave us, but prevents us everywhere.
The chill ascends from feet to knees, The fever sings in mental wires.
If to be warmed, then I must freeze And quake in frigid purgatorial fires Of which the flame is roses, and the smoke is briars.
The dripping blood our only drink, The bloody flesh our only food: In spite of which we like to think That we are sound, substantial flesh and blood— Again, in spite of that, we call this Friday good.
V So here I am, in the middle way, having had twenty years— Twenty years largely wasted, the years of l'entre deux guerres Trying to use words, and every attempt Is a wholly new start, and a different kind of failure Because one has only learnt to get the better of words For the thing one no longer has to say, or the way in which One is no longer disposed to say it.
And so each venture Is a new beginning, a raid on the inarticulate With shabby equipment always deteriorating In the general mess of imprecision of feeling, Undisciplined squads of emotion.
And what there is to conquer By strength and submission, has already been discovered Once or twice, or several times, by men whom one cannot hope To emulate—but there is no competition— There is only the fight to recover what has been lost And found and lost again and again: and now, under conditions That seem unpropitious.
But perhaps neither gain nor loss.
For us, there is only the trying.
The rest is not our business.
Home is where one starts from.
As we grow older The world becomes stranger, the pattern more complicated Of dead and living.
Not the intense moment Isolated, with no before and after, But a lifetime burning in every moment And not the lifetime of one man only But of old stones that cannot be deciphered.
There is a time for the evening under starlight, A time for the evening under lamplight (The evening with the photograph album).
Love is most nearly itself When here and now cease to matter.
Old men ought to be explorers Here or there does not matter We must be still and still moving Into another intensity For a further union, a deeper communion Through the dark cold and the empty desolation, The wave cry, the wind cry, the vast waters Of the petrel and the porpoise.
In my end is my beginning.
Written by Charlotte Bronte | Create an image from this poem

Mementos

 ARRANGING long-locked drawers and shelves 
Of cabinets, shut up for years, 
What a strange task we've set ourselves ! 
How still the lonely room appears ! 
How strange this mass of ancient treasures, 
Mementos of past pains and pleasures; 
These volumes, clasped with costly stone, 
With print all faded, gilding gone; 

These fans of leaves, from Indian trees­ 
These crimson shells, from Indian seas­ 
These tiny portraits, set in rings­ 
Once, doubtless, deemed such precious things; 
Keepsakes bestowed by Love on Faith, 
And worn till the receiver's death, 
Now stored with cameos, china, shells, 
In this old closet's dusty cells.
I scarcely think, for ten long years, A hand has touched these relics old; And, coating each, slow-formed, appears, The growth of green and antique mould.
All in this house is mossing over; All is unused, and dim, and damp; Nor light, nor warmth, the rooms discover­ Bereft for years of fire and lamp.
The sun, sometimes in summer, enters The casements, with reviving ray; But the long rains of many winters Moulder the very walls away.
And outside all is ivy, clinging To chimney, lattice, gable grey; Scarcely one little red rose springing Through the green moss can force its way.
Unscared, the daw, and starling nestle, Where the tall turret rises high, And winds alone come near to rustle The thick leaves where their cradles lie.
I sometimes think, when late at even I climb the stair reluctantly, Some shape that should be well in heaven, Or ill elsewhere, will pass by me.
I fear to see the very faces, Familiar thirty years ago, Even in the old accustomed places Which look so cold and gloomy now.
I've come, to close the window, hither, At twilight, when the sun was down, And Fear, my very soul would wither, Lest something should be dimly shown.
Too much the buried form resembling, Of her who once was mistress here; Lest doubtful shade, or moonbeam trembling, Might take her aspect, once so dear.
Hers was this chamber; in her time It seemed to me a pleasant room, For then no cloud of grief or crime Had cursed it with a settled gloom; I had not seen death's image laid In shroud and sheet, on yonder bed.
Before she married, she was blest­ Blest in her youth, blest in her worth; Her mind was calm, its sunny rest Shone in her eyes more clear than mirth.
And when attired in rich array, Light, lustrous hair about her brow, She yonder sat­a kind of day Lit up­what seems so gloomy now.
These grim oak walls, even then were grim; That old carved chair, was then antique; But what around looked dusk and dim Served as a foil to her fresh cheek; Her neck, and arms, of hue so fair, Eyes of unclouded, smiling, light; Her soft, and curled, and floating hair, Gems and attire, as rainbow bright.
Reclined in yonder deep recess, Ofttimes she would, at evening, lie Watching the sun; she seemed to bless With happy glance the glorious sky.
She loved such scenes, and as she gazed, Her face evinced her spirit's mood; Beauty or grandeur ever raised In her, a deep-felt gratitude.
But of all lovely things, she loved A cloudless moon, on summer night; Full oft have I impatience proved To see how long, her still delight Would find a theme in reverie.
Out on the lawn, or where the trees Let in the lustre fitfully, As their boughs parted momently, To the soft, languid, summer breeze.
Alas ! that she should e'er have flung Those pure, though lonely joys away­ Deceived by false and guileful tongue, She gave her hand, then suffered wrong; Oppressed, ill-used, she faded young, And died of grief by slow decay.
Open that casket­look how bright Those jewels flash upon the sight; The brilliants have not lost a ray Of lustre, since her wedding day.
But see­upon that pearly chain­ How dim lies time's discolouring stain ! I've seen that by her daughter worn: For, e'er she died, a child was born; A child that ne'er its mother knew, That lone, and almost friendless grew; For, ever, when its step drew nigh, Averted was the father's eye; And then, a life impure and wild Made him a stranger to his child; Absorbed in vice, he little cared On what she did, or how she fared.
The love withheld, she never sought, She grew uncherished­learnt untaught; To her the inward life of thought Full soon was open laid.
I know not if her friendlessness Did sometimes on her spirit press, But plaint she never made.
The book-shelves were her darling treasure, She rarely seemed the time to measure While she could read alone.
And she too loved the twilight wood, And often, in her mother's mood, Away to yonder hill would hie, Like her, to watch the setting sun, Or see the stars born, one by one, Out of the darkening sky.
Nor would she leave that hill till night Trembled from pole to pole with light; Even then, upon her homeward way, Long­long her wandering steps delayed To quit the sombre forest shade, Through which her eerie pathway lay.
You ask if she had beauty's grace ? I know not­but a nobler face My eyes have seldom seen; A keen and fine intelligence, And, better still, the truest sense Were in her speaking mien.
But bloom or lustre was there none, Only at moments, fitful shone An ardour in her eye, That kindled on her cheek a flush, Warm as a red sky's passing blush And quick with energy.
Her speech, too, was not common speech, No wish to shine, or aim to teach, Was in her words displayed: She still began with quiet sense, But oft the force of eloquence Came to her lips in aid; Language and voice unconscious changed, And thoughts, in other words arranged, Her fervid soul transfused Into the hearts of those who heard, And transient strength and ardour stirred, In minds to strength unused.
Yet in gay crowd or festal glare, Grave and retiring was her air; 'Twas seldom, save with me alone, That fire of feeling freely shone; She loved not awe's nor wonder's gaze, Nor even exaggerated praise, Nor even notice, if too keen The curious gazer searched her mien.
Nature's own green expanse revealed The world, the pleasures, she could prize; On free hill-side, in sunny field, In quiet spots by woods concealed, Grew wild and fresh her chosen joys, Yet Nature's feelings deeply lay In that endowed and youthful frame; Shrined in her heart and hid from day, They burned unseen with silent flame; In youth's first search for mental light, She lived but to reflect and learn, But soon her mind's maturer might For stronger task did pant and yearn; And stronger task did fate assign, Task that a giant's strength might strain; To suffer long and ne'er repine, Be calm in frenzy, smile at pain.
Pale with the secret war of feeling, Sustained with courage, mute, yet high; The wounds at which she bled, revealing Only by altered cheek and eye; She bore in silence­but when passion Surged in her soul with ceaseless foam, The storm at last brought desolation, And drove her exiled from her home.
And silent still, she straight assembled The wrecks of strength her soul retained; For though the wasted body trembled, The unconquered mind, to quail, disdained.
She crossed the sea­now lone she wanders By Seine's, or Rhine's, or Arno's flow; Fain would I know if distance renders Relief or comfort to her woe.
Fain would I know if, henceforth, ever, These eyes shall read in hers again, That light of love which faded never, Though dimmed so long with secret pain.
She will return, but cold and altered, Like all whose hopes too soon depart; Like all on whom have beat, unsheltered, The bitter blasts that blight the heart.
No more shall I behold her lying Calm on a pillow, smoothed by me; No more that spirit, worn with sighing, Will know the rest of infancy.
If still the paths of lore she follow, 'Twill be with tired and goaded will; She'll only toil, the aching hollow, The joyless blank of life to fill.
And oh ! full oft, quite spent and weary, Her hand will pause, her head decline; That labour seems so hard and dreary, On which no ray of hope may shine.
Thus the pale blight of time and sorrow Will shade with grey her soft, dark hair Then comes the day that knows no morrow, And death succeeds to long despair.
So speaks experience, sage and hoary; I see it plainly, know it well, Like one who, having read a story, Each incident therein can tell.
Touch not that ring, 'twas his, the sire Of that forsaken child; And nought his relics can inspire Save memories, sin-defiled.
I, who sat by his wife's death-bed, I, who his daughter loved, Could almost curse the guilty dead, For woes, the guiltless proved.
And heaven did curse­they found him laid, When crime for wrath was rife, Cold­with the suicidal blade Clutched in his desperate gripe.
'Twas near that long deserted hut, Which in the wood decays, Death's axe, self-wielded, struck his root, And lopped his desperate days.
You know the spot, where three black trees, Lift up their branches fell, And moaning, ceaseless as the seas, Still seem, in every passing breeze, The deed of blood to tell.
They named him mad, and laid his bones Where holier ashes lie; Yet doubt not that his spirit groans, In hell's eternity.
But, lo ! night, closing o'er the earth, Infects our thoughts with gloom; Come, let us strive to rally mirth, Where glows a clear and tranquil hearth In some more cheerful room.
Written by Oscar Wilde | Create an image from this poem

Panthea

 Nay, let us walk from fire unto fire,
From passionate pain to deadlier delight, -
I am too young to live without desire,
Too young art thou to waste this summer night
Asking those idle questions which of old
Man sought of seer and oracle, and no reply was told.
For, sweet, to feel is better than to know, And wisdom is a childless heritage, One pulse of passion - youth's first fiery glow, - Are worth the hoarded proverbs of the sage: Vex not thy soul with dead philosophy, Have we not lips to kiss with, hearts to love and eyes to see! Dost thou not hear the murmuring nightingale, Like water bubbling from a silver jar, So soft she sings the envious moon is pale, That high in heaven she is hung so far She cannot hear that love-enraptured tune, - Mark how she wreathes each horn with mist, yon late and labouring moon.
White lilies, in whose cups the gold bees dream, The fallen snow of petals where the breeze Scatters the chestnut blossom, or the gleam Of boyish limbs in water, - are not these Enough for thee, dost thou desire more? Alas! the Gods will give nought else from their eternal store.
For our high Gods have sick and wearied grown Of all our endless sins, our vain endeavour For wasted days of youth to make atone By pain or prayer or priest, and never, never, Hearken they now to either good or ill, But send their rain upon the just and the unjust at will.
They sit at ease, our Gods they sit at ease, Strewing with leaves of rose their scented wine, They sleep, they sleep, beneath the rocking trees Where asphodel and yellow lotus twine, Mourning the old glad days before they knew What evil things the heart of man could dream, and dreaming do.
And far beneath the brazen floor they see Like swarming flies the crowd of little men, The bustle of small lives, then wearily Back to their lotus-haunts they turn again Kissing each others' mouths, and mix more deep The poppy-seeded draught which brings soft purple-lidded sleep.
There all day long the golden-vestured sun, Their torch-bearer, stands with his torch ablaze, And, when the gaudy web of noon is spun By its twelve maidens, through the crimson haze Fresh from Endymion's arms comes forth the moon, And the immortal Gods in toils of mortal passions swoon.
There walks Queen Juno through some dewy mead, Her grand white feet flecked with the saffron dust Of wind-stirred lilies, while young Ganymede Leaps in the hot and amber-foaming must, His curls all tossed, as when the eagle bare The frightened boy from Ida through the blue Ionian air.
There in the green heart of some garden close Queen Venus with the shepherd at her side, Her warm soft body like the briar rose Which would be white yet blushes at its pride, Laughs low for love, till jealous Salmacis Peers through the myrtle-leaves and sighs for pain of lonely bliss.
There never does that dreary north-wind blow Which leaves our English forests bleak and bare, Nor ever falls the swift white-feathered snow, Nor ever doth the red-toothed lightning dare To wake them in the silver-fretted night When we lie weeping for some sweet sad sin, some dead delight.
Alas! they know the far Lethaean spring, The violet-hidden waters well they know, Where one whose feet with tired wandering Are faint and broken may take heart and go, And from those dark depths cool and crystalline Drink, and draw balm, and sleep for sleepless souls, and anodyne.
But we oppress our natures, God or Fate Is our enemy, we starve and feed On vain repentance - O we are born too late! What balm for us in bruised poppy seed Who crowd into one finite pulse of time The joy of infinite love and the fierce pain of infinite crime.
O we are wearied of this sense of guilt, Wearied of pleasure's paramour despair, Wearied of every temple we have built, Wearied of every right, unanswered prayer, For man is weak; God sleeps: and heaven is high: One fiery-coloured moment: one great love; and lo! we die.
Ah! but no ferry-man with labouring pole Nears his black shallop to the flowerless strand, No little coin of bronze can bring the soul Over Death's river to the sunless land, Victim and wine and vow are all in vain, The tomb is sealed; the soldiers watch; the dead rise not again.
We are resolved into the supreme air, We are made one with what we touch and see, With our heart's blood each crimson sun is fair, With our young lives each spring-impassioned tree Flames into green, the wildest beasts that range The moor our kinsmen are, all life is one, and all is change.
With beat of systole and of diastole One grand great life throbs through earth's giant heart, And mighty waves of single Being roll From nerveless germ to man, for we are part Of every rock and bird and beast and hill, One with the things that prey on us, and one with what we kill.
From lower cells of waking life we pass To full perfection; thus the world grows old: We who are godlike now were once a mass Of quivering purple flecked with bars of gold, Unsentient or of joy or misery, And tossed in terrible tangles of some wild and wind-swept sea.
This hot hard flame with which our bodies burn Will make some meadow blaze with daffodil, Ay! and those argent breasts of thine will turn To water-lilies; the brown fields men till Will be more fruitful for our love to-night, Nothing is lost in nature, all things live in Death's despite.
The boy's first kiss, the hyacinth's first bell, The man's last passion, and the last red spear That from the lily leaps, the asphodel Which will not let its blossoms blow for fear Of too much beauty, and the timid shame Of the young bridegroom at his lover's eyes, - these with the same One sacrament are consecrate, the earth Not we alone hath passions hymeneal, The yellow buttercups that shake for mirth At daybreak know a pleasure not less real Than we do, when in some fresh-blossoming wood, We draw the spring into our hearts, and feel that life is good.
So when men bury us beneath the yew Thy crimson-stained mouth a rose will be, And thy soft eyes lush bluebells dimmed with dew, And when the white narcissus wantonly Kisses the wind its playmate some faint joy Will thrill our dust, and we will be again fond maid and boy.
And thus without life's conscious torturing pain In some sweet flower we will feel the sun, And from the linnet's throat will sing again, And as two gorgeous-mailed snakes will run Over our graves, or as two tigers creep Through the hot jungle where the yellow-eyed huge lions sleep And give them battle! How my heart leaps up To think of that grand living after death In beast and bird and flower, when this cup, Being filled too full of spirit, bursts for breath, And with the pale leaves of some autumn day The soul earth's earliest conqueror becomes earth's last great prey.
O think of it! We shall inform ourselves Into all sensuous life, the goat-foot Faun, The Centaur, or the merry bright-eyed Elves That leave their dancing rings to spite the dawn Upon the meadows, shall not be more near Than you and I to nature's mysteries, for we shall hear The thrush's heart beat, and the daisies grow, And the wan snowdrop sighing for the sun On sunless days in winter, we shall know By whom the silver gossamer is spun, Who paints the diapered fritillaries, On what wide wings from shivering pine to pine the eagle flies.
Ay! had we never loved at all, who knows If yonder daffodil had lured the bee Into its gilded womb, or any rose Had hung with crimson lamps its little tree! Methinks no leaf would ever bud in spring, But for the lovers' lips that kiss, the poets' lips that sing.
Is the light vanished from our golden sun, Or is this daedal-fashioned earth less fair, That we are nature's heritors, and one With every pulse of life that beats the air? Rather new suns across the sky shall pass, New splendour come unto the flower, new glory to the grass.
And we two lovers shall not sit afar, Critics of nature, but the joyous sea Shall be our raiment, and the bearded star Shoot arrows at our pleasure! We shall be Part of the mighty universal whole, And through all aeons mix and mingle with the Kosmic Soul! We shall be notes in that great Symphony Whose cadence circles through the rhythmic spheres, And all the live World's throbbing heart shall be One with our heart; the stealthy creeping years Have lost their terrors now, we shall not die, The Universe itself shall be our Immortality.


Written by Robert Frost | Create an image from this poem

The Star-Splitter

 `You know Orion always comes up sideways.
Throwing a leg up over our fence of mountains, And rising on his hands, he looks in on me Busy outdoors by lantern-light with something I should have done by daylight, and indeed, After the ground is frozen, I should have done Before it froze, and a gust flings a handful Of waste leaves at my smoky lantern chimney To make fun of my way of doing things, Or else fun of Orion's having caught me.
Has a man, I should like to ask, no rights These forces are obliged to pay respect to?' So Brad McLaughlin mingled reckless talk Of heavenly stars with hugger-mugger farming, Till having failed at hugger-mugger farming He burned his house down for the fire insurance And spent the proceeds on a telescope To satisfy a lifelong curiosity About our place among the infinities.
`What do you want with one of those blame things?' I asked him well beforehand.
`Don't you get one!' `Don't call it blamed; there isn't anything More blameless in the sense of being less A weapon in our human fight,' he said.
`I'll have one if I sell my farm to buy it.
' There where he moved the rocks to plow the ground And plowed between the rocks he couldn't move, Few farms changed hands; so rather than spend years Trying to sell his farm and then not selling, He burned his house down for the fire insurance And bought the telescope with what it came to.
He had been heard to say by several: `The best thing that we're put here for's to see; The strongest thing that's given us to see with's A telescope.
Someone in every town Seems to me owes it to the town to keep one.
In Littleton it might as well be me.
' After such loose talk it was no surprise When he did what he did and burned his house down.
Mean laughter went about the town that day To let him know we weren't the least imposed on, And he could wait---we'd see to him tomorrow.
But the first thing next morning we reflected If one by one we counted people out For the least sin, it wouldn't take us long To get so we had no one left to live with.
For to be social is to be forgiving.
Our thief, the one who does our stealing from us, We don't cut off from coming to church suppers, But what we miss we go to him and ask for.
He promptly gives it back, that is if still Uneaten, unworn out, or undisposed of.
It wouldn't do to be too hard on Brad About his telescope.
Beyond the age Of being given one for Christmas gift, He had to take the best way he knew how To find himself in one.
Well, all we said was He took a strange thing to be roguish over.
Some sympathy was wasted on the house, A good old-timer dating back along; But a house isn't sentient; the house Didn't feel anything.
And if it did, Why not regard it as a sacrifice, And an old-fashioned sacrifice by fire, Instead of a new-fashioned one at auction? Out of a house and so out of a farm At one stroke (of a match), Brad had to turn To earn a living on the Concord railroad, As under-ticket-agent at a station Where his job, when he wasn't selling tickets, Was setting out, up track and down, not plants As on a farm, but planets, evening stars That varied in their hue from red to green.
He got a good glass for six hundred dollars.
His new job gave him leisure for stargazing.
Often he bid me come and have a look Up the brass barrel, velvet black inside, At a star quaking in the other end.
I recollect a night of broken clouds And underfoot snow melted down to ice, And melting further in the wind to mud.
Bradford and I had out the telescope.
We spread our two legs as we spread its three, Pointed our thoughts the way we pointed it, And standing at our leisure till the day broke, Said some of the best things we ever said.
That telescope was christened the Star-Splitter, Because it didn't do a thing but split A star in two or three, the way you split A globule of quicksilver in your hand With one stroke of your finger in the middle.
It's a star-splitter if there ever was one, And ought to do some good if splitting stars 'Sa thing to be compared with splitting wood.
We've looked and looked, but after all where are we? Do we know any better where we are, And how it stands between the night tonight And a man with a smoky lantern chimney? How different from the way it ever stood?
Written by Alan Seeger | Create an image from this poem

Paris

 First, London, for its myriads; for its height, 
Manhattan heaped in towering stalagmite; 
But Paris for the smoothness of the paths 
That lead the heart unto the heart's delight.
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Fair loiterer on the threshold of those days When there's no lovelier prize the world displays Than, having beauty and your twenty years, You have the means to conquer and the ways, And coming where the crossroads separate And down each vista glories and wonders wait, Crowning each path with pinnacles so fair You know not which to choose, and hesitate -- Oh, go to Paris.
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In the midday gloom Of some old quarter take a little room That looks off over Paris and its towers From Saint Gervais round to the Emperor's Tomb, -- So high that you can hear a mating dove Croon down the chimney from the roof above, See Notre Dame and know how sweet it is To wake between Our Lady and our love.
And have a little balcony to bring Fair plants to fill with verdure and blossoming, That sparrows seek, to feed from pretty hands, And swallows circle over in the Spring.
There of an evening you shall sit at ease In the sweet month of flowering chestnut-trees, There with your little darling in your arms, Your pretty dark-eyed Manon or Louise.
And looking out over the domes and towers That chime the fleeting quarters and the hours, While the bright clouds banked eastward back of them Blush in the sunset, pink as hawthorn flowers, You cannot fail to think, as I have done, Some of life's ends attained, so you be one Who measures life's attainment by the hours That Joy has rescued from oblivion.
II Come out into the evening streets.
The green light lessens in the west.
The city laughs and liveliest her fervid pulse of pleasure beats.
The belfry on Saint Severin strikes eight across the smoking eaves: Come out under the lights and leaves to the Reine Blanche on Saint Germain.
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Now crowded diners fill the floor of brasserie and restaurant.
Shrill voices cry "L'Intransigeant," and corners echo "Paris-Sport.
" Where rows of tables from the street are screened with shoots of box and bay, The ragged minstrels sing and play and gather sous from those that eat.
And old men stand with menu-cards, inviting passers-by to dine On the bright terraces that line the Latin Quarter boulevards.
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But, having drunk and eaten well, 'tis pleasant then to stroll along And mingle with the merry throng that promenades on Saint Michel.
Here saunter types of every sort.
The shoddy jostle with the chic: Turk and Roumanian and Greek; student and officer and sport; Slavs with their peasant, Christ-like heads, and courtezans like powdered moths, And peddlers from Algiers, with cloths bright-hued and stitched with golden threads; And painters with big, serious eyes go rapt in dreams, fantastic shapes In corduroys and Spanish capes and locks uncut and flowing ties; And lovers wander two by two, oblivious among the press, And making one of them no less, all lovers shall be dear to you: All laughing lips you move among, all happy hearts that, knowing what Makes life worth while, have wasted not the sweet reprieve of being young.
"Comment ca va!" "Mon vieux!" "Mon cher!" Friends greet and banter as they pass.
'Tis sweet to see among the mass comrades and lovers everywhere, A law that's sane, a Love that's free, and men of every birth and blood Allied in one great brotherhood of Art and Joy and Poverty.
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The open cafe-windows frame loungers at their liqueurs and beer, And walking past them one can hear fragments of Tosca and Boheme.
And in the brilliant-lighted door of cinemas the barker calls, And lurid posters paint the walls with scenes of Love and crime and war.
But follow past the flaming lights, borne onward with the stream of feet, Where Bullier's further up the street is marvellous on Thursday nights.
Here all Bohemia flocks apace; you could not often find elsewhere So many happy heads and fair assembled in one time and place.
Under the glare and noise and heat the galaxy of dancing whirls, Smokers, with covered heads, and girls dressed in the costume of the street.
From tables packed around the wall the crowds that drink and frolic there Spin serpentines into the air far out over the reeking hall, That, settling where the coils unroll, tangle with pink and green and blue The crowds that rag to "Hitchy-koo" and boston to the "Barcarole".
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Here Mimi ventures, at fifteen, to make her debut in romance, And join her sisters in the dance and see the life that they have seen.
Her hair, a tight hat just allows to brush beneath the narrow brim, Docked, in the model's present whim, `frise' and banged above the brows.
Uncorseted, her clinging dress with every step and turn betrays, In pretty and provoking ways her adolescent loveliness, As guiding Gaby or Lucile she dances, emulating them In each disturbing stratagem and each lascivious appeal.
Each turn a challenge, every pose an invitation to compete, Along the maze of whirling feet the grave-eyed little wanton goes, And, flaunting all the hue that lies in childish cheeks and nubile waist, She passes, charmingly unchaste, illumining ignoble eyes.
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But now the blood from every heart leaps madder through abounding veins As first the fascinating strains of "El Irresistible" start.
Caught in the spell of pulsing sound, impatient elbows lift and yield The scented softnesses they shield to arms that catch and close them round, Surrender, swift to be possessed, the silken supple forms beneath To all the bliss the measures breathe and all the madness they suggest.
Crowds congregate and make a ring.
Four deep they stand and strain to see The tango in its ecstasy of glowing lives that clasp and cling.
Lithe limbs relaxed, exalted eyes fastened on vacancy, they seem To float upon the perfumed stream of some voluptuous Paradise, Or, rapt in some Arabian Night, to rock there, cradled and subdued, In a luxurious lassitude of rhythm and sensual delight.
And only when the measures cease and terminate the flowing dance They waken from their magic trance and join the cries that clamor "Bis!" .
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Midnight adjourns the festival.
The couples climb the crowded stair, And out into the warm night air go singing fragments of the ball.
Close-folded in desire they pass, or stop to drink and talk awhile In the cafes along the mile from Bullier's back to Montparnasse: The "Closerie" or "La Rotonde", where smoking, under lamplit trees, Sit Art's enamored devotees, chatting across their `brune' and `blonde'.
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Make one of them and come to know sweet Paris -- not as many do, Seeing but the folly of the few, the froth, the tinsel, and the show -- But taking some white proffered hand that from Earth's barren every day Can lead you by the shortest way into Love's florid fairyland.
And that divine enchanted life that lurks under Life's common guise -- That city of romance that lies within the City's toil and strife -- Shall, knocking, open to your hands, for Love is all its golden key, And one's name murmured tenderly the only magic it demands.
And when all else is gray and void in the vast gulf of memory, Green islands of delight shall be all blessed moments so enjoyed: When vaulted with the city skies, on its cathedral floors you stood, And, priest of a bright brotherhood, performed the mystic sacrifice, At Love's high altar fit to stand, with fire and incense aureoled, The celebrant in cloth of gold with Spring and Youth on either hand.
III Choral Song Have ye gazed on its grandeur Or stood where it stands With opal and amber Adorning the lands, And orcharded domes Of the hue of all flowers? Sweet melody roams Through its blossoming bowers, Sweet bells usher in from its belfries the train of the honey-sweet hour.
A city resplendent, Fulfilled of good things, On its ramparts are pendent The bucklers of kings.
Broad banners unfurled Are afloat in its air.
The lords of the world Look for harborage there.
None finds save he comes as a bridegroom, having roses and vine in his hair.
'Tis the city of Lovers, There many paths meet.
Blessed he above others, With faltering feet, Who past its proud spires Intends not nor hears The noise of its lyres Grow faint in his ears! Men reach it through portals of triumph, but leave through a postern of tears.
It was thither, ambitious, We came for Youth's right, When our lips yearned for kisses As moths for the light, When our souls cried for Love As for life-giving rain Wan leaves of the grove, Withered grass of the plain, And our flesh ached for Love-flesh beside it with bitter, intolerable pain.
Under arbor and trellis, Full of flutes, full of flowers, What mad fortunes befell us, What glad orgies were ours! In the days of our youth, In our festal attire, When the sweet flesh was smooth, When the swift blood was fire, And all Earth paid in orange and purple to pavilion the bed of Desire!
Written by Rudyard Kipling | Create an image from this poem

The Rhyme of the Three Captains

 This ballad appears to refer to one of the exploits of the notorious
Paul Jones, the American pirate.
It is founded on fact.
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At the close of a winter day, Their anchors down, by London town, the Three Great Captains lay; And one was Admiral of the North from Solway Firth to Skye, And one was Lord of the Wessex coast and all the lands thereby, And one was Master of the Thames from Limehouse to Blackwall, And he was Captain of the Fleet -- the bravest of them all.
Their good guns guarded their great gray sides that were thirty foot in the sheer, When there came a certain trading-brig with news of a privateer.
Her rigging was rough with the clotted drift that drives in a Northern breeze, Her sides were clogged with the lazy weed that spawns in the Eastern seas.
Light she rode in the rude tide-rip, to left and right she rolled, And the skipper sat on the scuttle-butt and stared at an empty hold.
"I ha' paid Port dues for your Law," quoth he, "and where is the Law ye boast If I sail unscathed from a heathen port to be robbed on a Christian coast? Ye have smoked the hives of the Laccadives as we burn the lice in a bunk, We tack not now to a Gallang prow or a plunging Pei-ho junk; I had no fear but the seas were clear as far as a sail might fare Till I met with a lime-washed Yankee brig that rode off Finisterre.
There were canvas blinds to his bow-gun ports to screen the weight he bore, And the signals ran for a merchantman from Sandy Hook to the Nore.
He would not fly the Rovers' flag -- the bloody or the black, But now he floated the Gridiron and now he flaunted the Jack.
He spoke of the Law as he crimped my crew -- he swore it was only a loan; But when I would ask for my own again, he swore it was none of my own.
He has taken my little parrakeets that nest beneath the Line, He has stripped my rails of the shaddock-frails and the green unripened pine; He has taken my bale of dammer and spice I won beyond the seas, He has taken my grinning heathen gods -- and what should he want o' these? My foremast would not mend his boom, my deckhouse patch his boats; He has whittled the two, this Yank Yahoo, to peddle for shoe-peg oats.
I could not fight for the failing light and a rough beam-sea beside, But I hulled him once for a clumsy crimp and twice because he lied.
Had I had guns (as I had goods) to work my Christian harm, I had run him up from his quarter-deck to trade with his own yard-arm; I had nailed his ears to my capstan-head, and ripped them off with a saw, And soused them in the bilgewater, and served them to him raw; I had flung him blind in a rudderless boat to rot in the rocking dark, I had towed him aft of his own craft, a bait for his brother shark; I had lapped him round with cocoa husk, and drenched him with the oil, And lashed him fast to his own mast to blaze above my spoil; I had stripped his hide for my hammock-side, and tasselled his beard i' the mesh, And spitted his crew on the live bamboo that grows through the gangrened flesh; I had hove him down by the mangroves brown, where the mud-reef sucks and draws, Moored by the heel to his own keel to wait for the land-crab's claws! He is lazar within and lime without, ye can nose him far enow, For he carries the taint of a musky ship -- the reek of the slaver's dhow!" The skipper looked at the tiering guns and the bulwarks tall and cold, And the Captains Three full courteously peered down at the gutted hold, And the Captains Three called courteously from deck to scuttle-butt: -- "Good Sir, we ha' dealt with that merchantman or ever your teeth were cut.
Your words be words of a lawless race, and the Law it standeth thus: He comes of a race that have never a Law, and he never has boarded us.
We ha' sold him canvas and rope and spar -- we know that his price is fair, And we know that he weeps for the lack of a Law as he rides off Finisterre.
And since he is damned for a gallows-thief by you and better than you, We hold it meet that the English fleet should know that we hold him true.
" The skipper called to the tall taffrail: -- "And what is that to me? Did ever you hear of a Yankee brig that rifled a Seventy-three? Do I loom so large from your quarter-deck that I lift like a ship o' the Line? He has learned to run from a shotted gun and harry such craft as mine.
There is never a Law on the Cocos Keys to hold a white man in, But we do not steal the niggers' meal, for that is a ******'s sin.
Must he have his Law as a quid to chaw, or laid in brass on his wheel? Does he steal with tears when he buccaneers? 'Fore Gad, then, why does he steal?" The skipper bit on a deep-sea word, and the word it was not sweet, For he could see the Captains Three had signalled to the Fleet.
But three and two, in white and blue, the whimpering flags began: -- "We have heard a tale of a -- foreign sail, but he is a merchantman.
" The skipper peered beneath his palm and swore by the Great Horn Spoon: -- "'Fore Gad, the Chaplain of the Fleet would bless my picaroon!" By two and three the flags blew free to lash the laughing air: -- "We have sold our spars to the merchantman -- we know that his price is fair.
" The skipper winked his Western eye, and swore by a China storm: -- "They ha' rigged him a Joseph's jury-coat to keep his honour warm.
" The halliards twanged against the tops, the bunting bellied broad, The skipper spat in the empty hold and mourned for a wasted cord.
Masthead -- masthead, the signal sped by the line o' the British craft; The skipper called to his Lascar crew, and put her about and laughed: -- "It's mainsail haul, my bully boys all -- we'll out to the seas again -- Ere they set us to paint their pirate saint, or scrub at his grapnel-chain.
It's fore-sheet free, with her head to the sea, and the swing of the unbought brine -- We'll make no sport in an English court till we come as a ship o' the Line: Till we come as a ship o' the Line, my lads, of thirty foot in the sheer, Lifting again from the outer main with news of a privateer; Flying his pluck at our mizzen-truck for weft of Admiralty, Heaving his head for our dipsey-lead in sign that we keep the sea.
Then fore-sheet home as she lifts to the foam -- we stand on the outward tack, We are paid in the coin of the white man's trade -- the bezant is hard, ay, and black.
The frigate-bird shall carry my word to the Kling and the Orang-Laut How a man may sail from a heathen coast to be robbed in a Christian port; How a man may be robbed in Christian port while Three Great Captains there Shall dip their flag to a slaver's rag -- to show that his trade is fair!"
Written by Allen Ginsberg | Create an image from this poem

The Lion For Real

 "Soyez muette pour moi, Idole contemplative.
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" I came home and found a lion in my living room Rushed out on the fire escape screaming Lion! Lion! Two stenographers pulled their brunnette hair and banged the window shut I hurried home to Patterson and stayed two days Called up old Reichian analyst who'd kicked me out of therapy for smoking marijuana 'It's happened' I panted 'There's a Lion in my living room' 'I'm afraid any discussion would have no value' he hung up I went to my old boyfriend we got drunk with his girlfriend I kissed him and announced I had a lion with a mad gleam in my eye We wound up fighting on the floor I bit his eyebrow he kicked me out I ended up masturbating in his jeep parked in the street moaning 'Lion.
' Found Joey my novelist friend and roared at him 'Lion!' He looked at me interested and read me his spontaneous ignu high poetries I listened for lions all I heard was Elephant Tiglon Hippogriff Unicorn Ants But figured he really understood me when we made it in Ignaz Wisdom's bathroom.
But next day he sent me a leaf from his Smoky Mountain retreat 'I love you little Bo-Bo with your delicate golden lions But there being no Self and No Bars therefore the Zoo of your dear Father hath no lion You said your mother was mad don't expect me to produce the Monster for your Bridegroom.
' Confused dazed and exalted bethought me of real lion starved in his stink in Harlem Opened the door the room was filled with the bomb blast of his anger He roaring hungrily at the plaster walls but nobody could hear outside thru the window My eye caught the edge of the red neighbor apartment building standing in deafening stillness We gazed at each other his implacable yellow eye in the red halo of fur Waxed rhuemy on my own but he stopped roaring and bared a fang greeting.
I turned my back and cooked broccoli for supper on an iron gas stove boilt water and took a hot bath in the old tup under the sink board.
He didn't eat me, tho I regretted him starving in my presence.
Next week he wasted away a sick rug full of bones wheaten hair falling out enraged and reddening eye as he lay aching huge hairy head on his paws by the egg-crate bookcase filled up with thin volumes of Plato, & Buddha.
Sat by his side every night averting my eyes from his hungry motheaten face stopped eating myself he got weaker and roared at night while I had nightmares Eaten by lion in bookstore on Cosmic Campus, a lion myself starved by Professor Kandisky, dying in a lion's flophouse circus, I woke up mornings the lion still added dying on the floor--'Terrible Presence!'I cried'Eat me or die!' It got up that afternoon--walked to the door with its paw on the south wall to steady its trembling body Let out a soul-rending creak from the bottomless roof of his mouth thundering from my floor to heaven heavier than a volcano at night in Mexico Pushed the door open and said in a gravelly voice "Not this time Baby-- but I will be back again.
" Lion that eats my mind now for a decade knowing only your hunger Not the bliss of your satisfaction O roar of the universe how am I chosen In this life I have heard your promise I am ready to die I have served Your starved and ancient Presence O Lord I wait in my room at your Mercy.
Paris, March 1958
Written by Anne Sexton | Create an image from this poem

Flee On Your Donkey

 Because there was no other place
to flee to,
I came back to the scene of the disordered senses,
came back last night at midnight,
arriving in the thick June night
without luggage or defenses,
giving up my car keys and my cash,
keeping only a pack of Salem cigarettes
the way a child holds on to a toy.
I signed myself in where a stranger puts the inked-in X's— for this is a mental hospital, not a child's game.
Today an intern knocks my knees, testing for reflexes.
Once I would have winked and begged for dope.
Today I am terribly patient.
Today crows play black-jack on the stethoscope.
Everyone has left me except my muse, that good nurse.
She stays in my hand, a mild white mouse.
The curtains, lazy and delicate, billow and flutter and drop like the Victorian skirts of my two maiden aunts who kept an antique shop.
Hornets have been sent.
They cluster like floral arrangements on the screen.
Hornets, dragging their thin stingers, hover outside, all knowing, hissing: the hornet knows.
I heard it as a child but what was it that he meant? The hornet knows! What happened to Jack and Doc and Reggy? Who remembers what lurks in the heart of man? What did The Green Hornet mean, he knows? Or have I got it wrong? Is it The Shadow who had seen me from my bedside radio? Now it's Dinn, Dinn, Dinn! while the ladies in the next room argue and pick their teeth.
Upstairs a girl curls like a snail; in another room someone tries to eat a shoe; meanwhile an adolescent pads up and down the hall in his white tennis socks.
A new doctor makes rounds advertising tranquilizers, insulin, or shock to the uninitiated.
Six years of such small preoccupations! Six years of shuttling in and out of this place! O my hunger! My hunger! I could have gone around the world twice or had new children - all boys.
It was a long trip with little days in it and no new places.
In here, it's the same old crowd, the same ruined scene.
The alcoholic arrives with his gold culbs.
The suicide arrives with extra pills sewn into the lining of her dress.
The permanent guests have done nothing new.
Their faces are still small like babies with jaundice.
Meanwhile, they carried out my mother, wrapped like somebody's doll, in sheets, bandaged her jaw and stuffed up her holes.
My father, too.
He went out on the rotten blood he used up on other women in the Middle West.
He went out, a cured old alcoholic on crooked feet and useless hands.
He went out calling for his father who died all by himself long ago - that fat banker who got locked up, his genes suspened like dollars, wrapped up in his secret, tied up securely in a straitjacket.
But you, my doctor, my enthusiast, were better than Christ; you promised me another world to tell me who I was.
I spent most of my time, a stranger, damned and in trance—that little hut, that naked blue-veined place, my eyes shut on the confusing office, eyes circling into my childhood, eyes newly cut.
Years of hints strung out—a serialized case history— thirty-three years of the same dull incest that sustained us both.
You, my bachelor analyst, who sat on Marlborough Street, sharing your office with your mother and giving up cigarettes each New Year, were the new God, the manager of the Gideon Bible.
I was your third-grader with a blue star on my forehead.
In trance I could be any age, voice, gesture—all turned backward like a drugstore clock.
Awake, I memorized dreams.
Dreams came into the ring like third string fighters, each one a bad bet who might win because there was no other.
I stared at them, concentrating on the abyss the way one looks down into a rock quarry, uncountable miles down, my hands swinging down like hooks to pull dreams up out of their cage.
O my hunger! My hunger! Once, outside your office, I collapsed in the old-fashioned swoon between the illegally parked cars.
I threw myself down, pretending dead for eight hours.
I thought I had died into a snowstorm.
Above my head chains cracked along like teeth digging their way through the snowy street.
I lay there like an overcoat that someone had thrown away.
You carried me back in, awkwardly, tenderly, with help of the red-haired secretary who was built like a lifeguard.
My shoes, I remember, were lost in the snowbank as if I planned never to walk again.
That was the winter that my mother died, half mad on morphine, blown up, at last, like a pregnant pig.
I was her dreamy evil eye.
In fact, I carried a knife in my pocketbook— my husband's good L.
L.
Bean hunting knife.
I wasn't sure if I should slash a tire or scrape the guts out of some dream.
You taught me to believe in dreams; thus I was the dredger.
I held them like an old woman with arthritic fingers, carefully straining the water out— sweet dark playthings, and above all, mysterious until they grew mournful and weak.
O my hunger! My hunger! I was the one who opened the warm eyelid like a surgeon and brought forth young girls to grunt like fish.
I told you, I said— but I was lying— that the kife was for my mother .
.
.
and then I delivered her.
The curtains flutter out and slump against the bars.
They are my two thin ladies named Blanche and Rose.
The grounds outside are pruned like an estate at Newport.
Far off, in the field, something yellow grows.
Was it last month or last year that the ambulance ran like a hearse with its siren blowing on suicide— Dinn, dinn, dinn!— a noon whistle that kept insisting on life all the way through the traffic lights? I have come back but disorder is not what it was.
I have lost the trick of it! The innocence of it! That fellow-patient in his stovepipe hat with his fiery joke, his manic smile— even he seems blurred, small and pale.
I have come back, recommitted, fastened to the wall like a bathroom plunger, held like a prisoner who was so poor he fell in love with jail.
I stand at this old window complaining of the soup, examining the grounds, allowing myself the wasted life.
Soon I will raise my face for a white flag, and when God enters the fort, I won't spit or gag on his finger.
I will eat it like a white flower.
Is this the old trick, the wasting away, the skull that waits for its dose of electric power? This is madness but a kind of hunger.
What good are my questions in this hierarchy of death where the earth and the stones go Dinn! Dinn! Dinn! It is hardly a feast.
It is my stomach that makes me suffer.
Turn, my hungers! For once make a deliberate decision.
There are brains that rot here like black bananas.
Hearts have grown as flat as dinner plates.
Anne, Anne, flee on your donkey, flee this sad hotel, ride out on some hairy beast, gallop backward pressing your buttocks to his withers, sit to his clumsy gait somehow.
Ride out any old way you please! In this place everyone talks to his own mouth.
That's what it means to be crazy.
Those I loved best died of it— the fool's disease.
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