How far is it to Heaven?
As far as Death this way --
Of River or of Ridge beyond
Was no discovery.
How far is it to Hell?
As far as Death this way --
How far left hand the Sepulchre
Art thou abroad on this stormy night
on thy journey of love, my friend?
The sky groans like one in despair.
I have no sleep tonight.
Ever and again I open my door and look out on
the darkness, my friend!
I can see nothing before me.
I wonder where lies thy path!
By what dim shore of the ink-black river,
by what far edge of the frowning forest,
through what mazy depth of gloom art thou threading
thy course to come to me, my friend?
I am not jealous
of what came before me.
Come with a man
on your shoulders,
come with a hundred men in your hair,
come with a thousand men between your breasts and your feet,
come like a river
full of drowned men
which flows down to the wild sea,
to the eternal surf, to Time!
Bring them all
to where I am waiting for you;
we shall always be alone,
we shall always be you and I
alone on earth
to start our life!
I ASKED the professors who teach the meaning of life to tell
me what is happiness.
And I went to famous executives who boss the work of
thousands of men.
They all shook their heads and gave me a smile as though
I was trying to fool with them
And then one Sunday afternoon I wandered out along
the Desplaines river
And I saw a crowd of Hungarians under the trees with
their women and children
and a keg of beer and an
Early summer rain--
houses facing the river,
two of them
Walter de la Mare
Stir and shiver
The reeds and rushes
By the river:
As if in dream,
The lone moon's silver
Sleeks the stream.
What old sorrow,
What lost love,
Moon, reeds, rushes,
Dream you of?
The river I have under my tongue,
Unimaginable water, my little boat,
And curtains lowered, let's speak.
Who set, between those rocks like cinder,
to show the honey of dream,
that golden broom,
those blue rosemaries?
Who painted the purple mountains
and the saffron, sunset sky?
The hermitage, the beehives,
the cleft of the river
the endless rolling water deep in rocks,
the pale-green of new fields,
all of it, even the white and pink
under the almond trees!
My sleeping children are still flying dreams
in their goose-down heads.
The lush of the river singing morning songs
Fish watch their ceilings turn sun-white.
The grey-green pike lances upstream
Kale, like mermaid's hair
points the water's drift.
All is morning hush
and bird beautiful.
I didn't have flu.
She is near to my heart as the meadow-flower to the earth; she is
sweet to me as sleep is to tired limbs.
My love for her is my life
flowing in its fullness, like a river in autumn flood, running with
My songs are one with my love, like the murmur
of a stream, that sings with all its waves and current.
Winter is icummen in,
Lhude sing Goddamm.
Raineth drop and staineth slop,
And how the wind doth ramm!
Skiddeth bus and sloppeth us,
An ague hath my ham.
Freezeth river, turneth liver,
Damn you, sing: Goddamm.
Goddamm, Goddamm, 'tis why I am, Goddamm,
So 'gainst the winter's balm.
Sing goddamm, damm, sing Goddamm.
Sing goddamm, sing goddamm, DAMM.
A parody of the Anglo-Saxon poem, Cuckoo Song
In the slant of the sun on the country-side,
Cattle and sheep trail home along the lane;
And a rugged old man in a thatch door
Leans on a staff and thinks of his son, the herdboy.
There are whirring pheasants? full wheat-ears,
Silk-worms asleep, pared mulberry-leaves.
And the farmers, returning with hoes on their shoulders,
Hail one another familiarly.
No wonder I long for the simple life
And am sighing the old song, Oh, to go Back Again!
Hills of silver plate,
grey heights, dark red rocks
through which the Duero bends
its crossbow arc
round Soria, shadowed oaks,
stone dry-lands, naked mountains,
white roads and river poplars,
twilights of Soria, warlike and mystical,
today I feel, for you,
in my hearts depths, sadness,
sadness of love! Fields of Soria,
where it seems the stones have dreams,
you go with me! Hills of silver plate,
grey heights, dark red rocks.
Far up river in Szechuan,
waters rise as spring winds roar.
How can I dare to meet her now,
to brave the dangerous gorge?
The grass grows green in the valley below
where silk worms silently spin.
Her hands work threads that never end,
dawn to dusk when the cuckoo sings.
My feelings are too loud for words
And too shy for the world.
Read the light and have a dream
In your hidden garden.
No need for words.
The words are but shadows
Of stories never said,
Shining from distant kingdoms,
Reminding you of a forgotten home.
Light rays will tell you the story.
There is another alphabet
Whispering from every leaf,
Singing from every river,
Shimmering from every sky.
Broad sun-stoned beaches.
A green river.
scorched yellow palms
from the summer-sleeping house
drowsing through August.
Days I have held,
days I have lost,
days that outgrow, like daughters,
my harbouring arms.
The moon shimmers in green water.
White herons fly through the moonlight.
The young man hears a girl gathering water-chestnuts:
into the night, singing, they paddle home together.
Edgar Lee Masters
My name used to be in the papers daily
As having dined somewhere,
Or traveled somewhere,
Or rented a house in Paris,
Where I entertained the nobility.
I was forever eating or traveling,
Or taking the cure at Baden-Baden.
Now I am here to do honor
To Spoon River, here beside the family whence I sprang.
No one cares now where I dined,
Or lived, or whom I entertained,
Or how often I took the cure at Baden-Baden!
Rainer Maria Rilke
The deep parts of my life pour onward,
as if the river shores were opening out.
It seems that things are more like me now,
That I can see farther into paintings.
I feel closer to what language can't reach.
With my senses, as with birds, I climb
into the windy heaven, out of the oak,
in the ponds broken off from the sky
my falling sinks, as if standing on fishes.
The critical attitude
Strikes many people as unfruitful
That is because they find the state
Impervious to their criticism
But what in this case is an unfruitful attitude
Is merely a feeble attitude.
Give criticism arms
And states can be demolished by it.
Canalising a river
Grafting a fruit tree
Educating a person
Transforming a state
These are instances of fruitful criticism
And at the same time instances of art.
In Kohln, a town of monks and bones,
And pavements fang'd with murderous stones
And rags, and hags, and hideous wenches;
I counted two and seventy stenches,
All well defined, and several stinks!
Ye Nymphs that reign o'er sewers and sinks,
The river Rhine, it is well known,
Doth wash your city of Cologne;
But tell me, Nymphs, what power divine
Shall henceforth wash the river Rhine?
I SHALL never forget you, Broadway
Your golden and calling lights.
I'll remember you long,
Tall-walled river of rush and play.
Hearts that know you hate you
And lips that have given you laughter
Have gone to their ashes of life and its roses,
Cursing the dreams that were lost
In the dust of your harsh and trampled stones.
RED barns and red heifers spot the green
grass circles around Omaha—the farmers
haul tanks of cream and wagon loads of cheese.
Shale hogbacks across the river at Council
Bluffs—and shanties hang by an eyelash to
the hill slants back around Omaha.
A span of steel ties up the kin of Iowa and
Nebraska across the yellow, big-hoofed Missouri River.
Omaha, the roughneck, feeds armies,
Eats and swears from a dirty face.
Omaha works to get the world a breakfast.
Federico García Lorca
The night soaks itself
along the shore of the river
and in Lolita's breasts
the branches die of love.
The branches die of love.
Naked the night sings
above the bridges of March.
Lolita bathes her body
with salt water and roses.
The branches die of love.
The night of anise and silver
shines over the rooftops.
Silver of streams and mirrors
Anise of your white thighs.
The branches die of love.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
FLOW on, ye lays so loved, so fair,
On to Oblivion's ocean flow!
May no rapt boy recall you e'er,
No maiden in her beauty's glow!
My love alone was then your theme,
But now she scorns my passion true.
Ye were but written in the stream;
As it flows on, then, flow ye too!