Anne Kingsmill Finch |
Do you believe, in what you see
do you believe in reality
do you believe in the sun that’s bright
do you believe in the stars in the night
Do you believe in the birds that fly
do you believe in clouds and the sky
do you believe in wind that flows
do you believe in moon that glows
do you believe in light
Do you believe the spoken word
do you believe the things you’ve heard
do you believe in the final answer
do you believe in the swirling dancer
Do you believe in sound and sight
do you believe in moments bright
do you believe in taste and touch
do you believe that much
Do you believe in the soul inside
do you believe in ecstasy and delight
do you believe in glory and god
do you believe in that thought
Do you believe in the sky above
do you believe in love
Do you believe in the heaven and the earth
do you believe in death and birth
do you believe in life
open your eyes with hope within
open the door, let light reach in
if you believe, then you'll win
Denise Levertov |
From the tawny light
from the rainy nights
from the imagination finding
itself and more than itself
alone and more than alone
at the bottom of the well where the moon lives,
can you pull me
into December? a lowland
of space, perception of space
towering of shadows of clouds blown upon
clouds over new ground, new made
under heavy December footsteps? the only
way to live?
The flawed moon acts on the truth, and makes
an autumn of tentative silences.
You lived, but somewhere else,
your presence touched others, ring upon ring,
Did you think I would not change?
The black moon turns away, its work done.
A tenderness, unspoken autumn.
We are faithful only to the imagination.
What the imagination seizes as beauty must be truth.
What holds you to what you see of me is
that grasp alone.
Heather McHugh |
Too volatile, am I?too voluble?too much a word-person?
I blame the soup:I'm a primordially
Two pronouns and a vehicle was Icarus with wings.
The apparatus of his selves made an ab-
The sound I make is sympathy's:sad dogs are tied afar.
But howling I become an ever more un-
I need a hundred more of you to make a likelihood.
The mirror's not convincing-- that at-best in-
As time's revealing gets revolting, I start looking out.
Look in and what you see is one unholy
The only cure for birth one doesn't love to contemplate.
Better to be an unsung song, an unoc-
McHugh, you'll be the death of me -- each self and second studied!
Addressing you like this, I'm halfway to the
Jane Taylor |
"Oh, look at that great ugly spider!" said Ann;
And screaming, she brush'd it away with her fan;
"'Tis a frightful black creature as ever can be,
I wish that it would not come crawling on me.
"Indeed," said her mother, "I'll venture to say,
The poor thing will try to keep out of your way;
For after the fright, and the fall, and the pain,
It has much more occasion than you to complain.
"But why should you dread the poor insect, my dear?
If it hurt you, there'd be some excuse for your fear;
But its little black legs, as it hurried away,
Did but tickle your arm, as they went, I dare say.
"For them to fear us we must grant to be just,
Who in less than a moment can tread them to dust;
But certainly we have no cause for alarm;
For, were they to try, they could do us no harm.
"Now look! it has got to its home; do you see
What a delicate web it has spun in the tree?
Why here, my dear Ann, is a lesson for you:
Come learn from this spider what patience can do!
"And when at your business you're tempted to play,
Recollect what you see in this insect to-day,
Or else, to your shame, it may seem to be true,
That a poor little spider is wiser than you.
Edwin Arlington Robinson |
Though for your sake I would not have you now
So near to me tonight as now you are,
God knows how much a stranger to my heart
Was any cold word that I may have written;
And you, poor woman that I made my wife,
You have had more of loneliness, I fear,
Than I—though I have been the most alone,
Even when the most attended.
So it was
God set the mark of his inscrutable
Necessity on one that was to grope,
And serve, and suffer, and withal be glad
For what was his, and is, and is to be,
When his old bones, that are a burden now,
Are saying what the man who carried them
Had not the power to say.
Bones in a grave,
Cover them as they will with choking earth,
May shout the truth to men who put them there,
More than all orators.
And so, my dear,
Since you have cheated wisdom for the sake
Of sorrow, let your sorrow be for you,
This last of nights before the last of days,
The lying ghost of what there is of me
That is the most alive.
There is no death
For me in what they do.
Their death it is
They should heed most when the sun comes again
To make them solemn.
There are some I know
Whose eyes will hardly see their occupation,
For tears in them—and all for one old man;
For some of them will pity this old man,
Who took upon himself the work of God
Because he pitied millions.
That will be
For them, I fancy, their compassionate
Best way of saying what is best in them
To say; for they can say no more than that,
And they can do no more than what the dawn
Of one more day shall give them light enough
But there are many days to be,
And there are many men to give their blood,
As I gave mine for them.
May they come soon!
May they come soon, I say.
And when they come,
May all that I have said unheard be heard,
Proving at last, or maybe not—no matter—
What sort of madness was the part of me
That made me strike, whether I found the mark
Or missed it.
Meanwhile, I’ve a strange content,
A patience, and a vast indifference
To what men say of me and what men fear
There was a work to be begun,
And when the Voice, that I have heard so long,
Announced as in a thousand silences
An end of preparation, I began
The coming work of death which is to be,
That life may be.
There is no other way
Than the old way of war for a new land
That will not know itself and is tonight
A stranger to itself, and to the world
A more prodigious upstart among states
Than I was among men, and so shall be
Till they are told and told, and told again;
For men are children, waiting to be told,
And most of them are children all their lives.
The good God in his wisdom had them so,
That now and then a madman or a seer
May shake them out of their complacency
And shame them into deeds.
The major file
See only what their fathers may have seen,
Or may have said they saw when they saw nothing.
I do not say it matters what they saw.
Now and again to some lone soul or other
God speaks, and there is hanging to be done,—
As once there was a burning of our bodies
Alive, albeit our souls were sorry fuel.
But now the fires are few, and we are poised
Accordingly, for the state’s benefit,
A few still minutes between heaven and earth.
The purpose is, when they have seen enough
Of what it is that they are not to see,
To pluck me as an unripe fruit of treason,
And then to fling me back to the same earth
Of which they are, as I suppose, the flower—
Not given to know the riper fruit that waits
For a more comprehensive harvesting.
Yes, may they come, and soon.
Again I say,
May they come soon!—before too many of them
Shall be the bloody cost of our defection.
When hell waits on the dawn of a new state,
Better it were that hell should not wait long,—
Or so it is I see it who should see
As far or farther into time tonight
Than they who talk and tremble for me now,
Or wish me to those everlasting fires
That are for me no fear.
Too many fires
Have sought me out and seared me to the bone—
Thereby, for all I know, to temper me
For what was mine to do.
If I did ill
What I did well, let men say I was mad;
Or let my name for ever be a question
That will not sleep in history.
What men say
I was will cool no cannon, dull no sword,
Invalidate no truth.
Meanwhile, I was;
And the long train is lighted that shall burn,
Though floods of wrath may drench it, and hot feet
May stamp it for a slight time into smoke
That shall blaze up again with growing speed,
Until at last a fiery crash will come
To cleanse and shake a wounded hemisphere,
And heal it of a long malignity
That angry time discredits and disowns.
Tonight there are men saying many things;
And some who see life in the last of me
Will answer first the coming call to death;
For death is what is coming, and then life.
I do not say again for the dull sake
Of speech what you have heard me say before,
But rather for the sake of all I am,
And all God made of me.
A man to die
As I do must have done some other work
Than man’s alone.
I was not after glory,
But there was glory with me, like a friend,
Throughout those crippling years when friends were few,
And fearful to be known by their own names
When mine was vilified for their approval.
Yet friends they are, and they did what was given
Their will to do; they could have done no more.
I was the one man mad enough, it seems,
To do my work; and now my work is over.
And you, my dear, are not to mourn for me,
Or for your sons, more than a soul should mourn
In Paradise, done with evil and with earth.
There is not much of earth in what remains
For you; and what there may be left of it
For your endurance you shall have at last
In peace, without the twinge of any fear
For my condition; for I shall be done
With plans and actions that have heretofore
Made your days long and your nights ominous
With darkness and the many distances
That were between us.
When the silence comes,
I shall in faith be nearer to you then
Than I am now in fact.
What you see now
Is only the outside of an old man,
Older than years have made him.
Let him die,
And let him be a thing for little grief.
There was a time for service and he served;
And there is no more time for anything
But a short gratefulness to those who gave
Their scared allegiance to an enterprise
That has the name of treason—which will serve
As well as any other for the present.
There are some deeds of men that have no names,
And mine may like as not be one of them.
I am not looking far for names tonight.
The King of Glory was without a name
Until men gave Him one; yet there He was,
Before we found Him and affronted Him
With numerous ingenuities of evil,
Of which one, with His aid, is to be swept
And washed out of the world with fire and blood.
Once I believed it might have come to pass
With a small cost of blood; but I was dreaming—
Dreaming that I believed.
The Voice I heard
When I left you behind me in the north,—
To wait there and to wonder and grow old
Of loneliness,—told only what was best,
And with a saving vagueness, I should know
Till I knew more.
And had I known even then—
After grim years of search and suffering,
So many of them to end as they began—
After my sickening doubts and estimations
Of plans abandoned and of new plans vain—
After a weary delving everywhere
For men with every virtue but the Vision—
Could I have known, I say, before I left you
That summer morning, all there was to know—
Even unto the last consuming word
That would have blasted every mortal answer
As lightning would annihilate a leaf,
I might have trembled on that summer morning;
I might have wavered; and I might have failed.
And there are many among men today
To say of me that I had best have wavered.
So has it been, so shall it always be,
For those of us who give ourselves to die
Before we are so parcelled and approved
As to be slaughtered by authority.
We do not make so much of what they say
As they of what our folly says of us;
They give us hardly time enough for that,
And thereby we gain much by losing little.
Few are alive to-day with less to lose.
Than I who tell you this, or more to gain;
And whether I speak as one to be destroyed
For no good end outside his own destruction,
Time shall have more to say than men shall hear
Between now and the coming of that harvest
Which is to come.
Before it comes, I go—
By the short road that mystery makes long
For man’s endurance of accomplishment.
I shall have more to say when I am dead.
Edna St Vincent Millay |
This door you might not open, and you did;
So enter now, and see for what slight thing
You are betrayed.
Here is no treasure hid,
No cauldron, no clear crystal mirroring
The sought-for truth, no heads of women slain
For greed like yours, no writhings of distress,
But only what you see.
Look yet again—
An empty room, cobwebbed and comfortless.
Yet this alone out of my life I kept
Unto myself, lest any know me quite;
And you did so profane me when you crept
Unto the threshold of this room to-night
That I must never more behold your face.
This now is yours.
I seek another place.
James Joyce |
They mouth love's language.
The thirteen teeth
Your lean jaws grin with.
Your itch and quailing, nude greed of the flesh.
Love's breath in you is stale, worded or sung,
As sour as cat's breath,
Harsh of tongue.
This grey that stares
Lies not, stark skin and bone.
Leave greasy lips their kissing.
Will choose her what you see to mouth upon.
Dire hunger holds his hour.
Pluck forth your heart, saltblood, a fruit of tears.
Pluck and devour!
Kahlil Gibran |
Part One - The Calling
Let me sleep, for my soul is intoxicated with love and
Let me rest, for my spirit has had its bounty of days and nights;
Light the candles and burn the incense around my bed, and
Scatter leaves of jasmine and roses over my body;
Embalm my hair with frankincense and sprinkle my feet with perfume,
And read what the hand of Death has written on my forehead.
Let me rest in the arms of Slumber, for my open eyes are tired;
Let the silver-stringed lyre quiver and soothe my spirit;
Weave from the harp and lute a veil around my withering heart.
Sing of the past as you behold the dawn of hope in my eyes, for
It's magic meaning is a soft bed upon which my heart rests.
Dry your tears, my friends, and raise your heads as the flowers
Raise their crowns to greet the dawn.
Look at the bride of Death standing like a column of light
Between my bed and the infinite;
Hold your breath and listen with me to the beckoning rustle of
Her white wings.
Come close and bid me farewell; touch my eyes with smiling lips.
Let the children grasp my hands with soft and rosy fingers;
Let the ages place their veined hands upon my head and bless me;
Let the virgins come close and see the shadow of God in my eyes,
And hear the echo of His will racing with my breath.
Part Two - The Ascending
I have passed a mountain peak and my soul is soaring in the
Firmament of complete and unbound freedom;
I am far, far away, my companions, and the clouds are
Hiding the hills from my eyes.
The valleys are becoming flooded with an ocean of silence, and the
Hands of oblivion are engulfing the roads and the houses;
The prairies and fields are disappearing behind a white specter
That looks like the spring cloud, yellow as the candlelight
And red as the twilight.
The songs of the waves and the hymns of the streams
Are scattered, and the voices of the throngs reduced to silence;
And I can hear naught but the music of Eternity
In exact harmony with the spirit's desires.
I am cloaked in full whiteness;
I am in comfort; I am in peace.
Part Three - The Remains
Unwrap me from this white linen shroud and clothe me
With leaves of jasmine and lilies;
Take my body from the ivory casket and let it rest
Upon pillows of orange blossoms.
Lament me not, but sing songs of youth and joy;
Shed not tears upon me, but sing of harvest and the winepress;
Utter no sigh of agony, but draw upon my face with your
Finger the symbol of Love and Joy.
Disturb not the air's tranquility with chanting and requiems,
But let your hearts sing with me the song of Eternal Life;
Mourn me not with apparel of black,
But dress in color and rejoice with me;
Talk not of my departure with sighs in your hearts; close
Your eyes and you will see me with you forevermore.
Place me upon clusters of leaves and
Carry my upon your friendly shoulders and
Walk slowly to the deserted forest.
Take me not to the crowded burying ground lest my slumber
Be disrupted by the rattling of bones and skulls.
Carry me to the cypress woods and dig my grave where violets
And poppies grow not in the other's shadow;
Let my grave be deep so that the flood will not
Carry my bones to the open valley;
Let my grace be wide, so that the twilight shadows
Will come and sit by me.
Take from me all earthly raiment and place me deep in my
Mother Earth; and place me with care upon my mother's breast.
Cover me with soft earth, and let each handful be mixed
With seeds of jasmine, lilies and myrtle; and when they
Grow above me, and thrive on my body's element they will
Breathe the fragrance of my heart into space;
And reveal even to the sun the secret of my peace;
And sail with the breeze and comfort the wayfarer.
Leave me then, friends - leave me and depart on mute feet,
As the silence walks in the deserted valley;
Leave me to God and disperse yourselves slowly, as the almond
And apple blossoms disperse under the vibration of Nisan's breeze.
Go back to the joy of your dwellings and you will find there
That which Death cannot remove from you and me.
Leave with place, for what you see here is far away in meaning
From the earthly world.
Edwin Arlington Robinson |
Since you remember Nimmo, and arrive
At such a false and florid and far drawn
Confusion of odd nonsense, I connive
No longer, though I may have led you on.
So much is told and heard and told again,
So many with his legend are engrossed,
That I, more sorry now than I was then,
May live on to be sorry for his ghost.
You knew him, and you must have known his eyes,—
How deep they were, and what a velvet light
Came out of them when anger or surprise,
Or laughter, or Francesca, made them bright.
No, you will not forget such eyes, I think,—
And you say nothing of them.
I wonder if all history’s worth a wink,
Sometimes, or if my tale be one to tell.
For they began to lose their velvet light;
Their fire grew dead without and small within;
And many of you deplored the needless fight
That somewhere in the dark there must have been.
All fights are needless, when they’re not our own,
But Nimmo and Francesca never fought.
Remember that; and when you are alone,
Remember me—and think what I have thought.
Now, mind you, I say nothing of what was,
Or never was, or could or could not be:
Bring not suspicion’s candle to the glass
That mirrors a friend’s face to memory.
Of what you see, see all,—but see no more;
For what I show you here will not be there.
The devil has had his way with paint before,
And he’s an artist,—and you needn’t stare.
There was a painter and he painted well:
He’d paint you Daniel in the lion’s den,
Beelzebub, Elaine, or William Tell.
I’m coming back to Nimmo’s eyes again.
The painter put the devil in those eyes,
Unless the devil did, and there he stayed;
And then the lady fled from paradise,
And there’s your fact.
The lady was afraid.
She must have been afraid, or may have been,
Of evil in their velvet all the while;
But sure as I’m a sinner with a skin,
I’ll trust the man as long as he can smile.
I trust him who can smile and then may live
In my heart’s house, where Nimmo is today.
God knows if I have more than men forgive
To tell him; but I played, and I shall pay.
I knew him then, and if I know him yet,
I know in him, defeated and estranged,
The calm of men forbidden to forget
The calm of women who have loved and changed.
But there are ways that are beyond our ways,
Or he would not be calm and she be mute,
As one by one their lost and empty days
Pass without even the warmth of a dispute.
God help us all when women think they see;
God save us when they do.
I’m fair; but though
I know him only as he looks to me,
I know him,—and I tell Francesca so.
And what of Nimmo? Little would you ask
Of him, could you but see him as I can,
At his bewildered and unfruitful task
Of being what he was born to be—a man.
Better forget that I said anything
Of what your tortured memory may disclose;
I know him, and your worst remembering
Would count as much as nothing, I suppose.
Meanwhile, I trust him; and I know his way
Of trusting me, and always in his youth.
I’m painting here a better man, you say,
Than I, the painter; and you say the truth.
Edwin Arlington Robinson |
You Eyes, you large and all-inquiring Eyes.
That look so dubiously into me,
And are not satisfied with what you see,
Tell me the worst and let us have no lies:
Tell me the meaning of your scrutinies.
And of myself.
Am I a Mystery?
Am I a Boojum--or just Company?
What do you say? What do you think, You Eyes?
You say not; but you think, without a doubt;
And you have the whole world to think about,
With very little time for little things.
So let it be; and let it all be fair--
For you, and for the rest who cannot share
Your gold of unrevealed awakenings.