Gift For You A Collective gift of poetry for you NEW, ENLARGED SPECIAL EDITION
Omar. S. Brooks
All rights reserved by the author who originated the work herein. All the editing done was completed in such a way to best keep the original poems and or information in tact from the conversion of various media sources. Any information not accurate is not the fault of the Compiler, this goes for work gathered from various sources where the language may have been other than English. All efforts where made to keep the original meaning of the works within this collection true to the original meaning and or idea. Special thanks to The Greater Canonsburg Library for letting us use it’s resource for this project. Information was also gathered from the following online media sources; · originalpoetry.com · poemhunter.com · poets.org · The American Poetry Society Thank you. Editor…Christie Johnson Associate Editing for publication…Omar S. Brooks Book Cover Design…A. Justice Brooks Proof Reading and Source Input…Patricia Reese Photographer…W.B. Photography Promotions…Enertia Global PRINTED IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
Acknowledgments Special thanks to all those who have inspired me to move on and continue in my work, the list is extensive. I appreciate your friendship, guidance, and strength.
Other books by Omar S. Brooks More Than Me (poetry for the mind, body and soul) poems from Iraq 3
Table of Contents Introduction( Because it lives…)
Pablo Neruda…21 And because love battles Song of despair Brown and agile child Cat’s dream Clenched soul Drunk as drunk Fable of the mermaid and the drunks From the book of questions I carve your mouth, your voice, your hair If you forget me I’m explaining a few things In my sky at twilight Leaning into the afternoon Poetry Saddest Poem The question The weary one Tower of Light We are many Your Laughter
Charles Bukowski…54 Big night on the town Blue bird Carson McCullers Cause and Effect Close to greatness Confession Consummation of grief Cow in art class Curtain Cut while shaving 4
Decline Eat your heart out Finish
Elizabeth Barret Browning…71 How do I love thee Grief.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow…73 The tides rise, the tides fall Excelsior
Joe Fazio…77 Life and the sea You are the plain and the joy Goodness of people Yesterday I confess I am man I believe Come September Who will teach the children? The last sunset Bath me in your tears Shadow of you Could I ever leave you? Have I replaced you? I didn’t know How could you not know? You...think about me Weep not from me I miss you The gift of life A tribute to woman A truth revealed A wish for you 5
All I want...Is you An accomplishment of a lifetime An unborn child Another time...Another place Could I have done more? Finding humility
Shel Silverstein…110 Boa Constrictor Danny O’Dare Forgotten Language It’s dark in here One inch tall Rain Sick Smart The Toucan Weird-Bird Where the sidewalk ends
William Shakespear…119 All the worlds a stage A fairy song A lover complaint Aubade Blow, Blow, Thou, winter wind Bridal song Carpe Diem Dirge Dirge of the three queens Fear No More Fidele From Venus and Adonis From you have I been Absent from the spring
Robert Frost…148 6
A boundless moment A brook in the city A cliff dwelling A considerable speck A dream Pang A late walk A line-storm song A minor bird A patch of old snow A prayer in spring A question A servant to servants Soldier A time to talk Acquainted with night After apple picking An old man’s winter night Asking for roses
Emily Dickenson…172 “Archurus” Is his other name “Faith” Is a fine invention “Heaven” Has different signs to me “Heaven” is what I can not reach “Hope” is the thing with feathers “Houses”-so the wise men tell me “I want”-It pleaded-all it’s life “Morning”-means milking to the farmer Because the bee blameless hum Beclouded Bee! I’m expecting you! Before he comes we weight the time Before I got my eye put out Before the ice is in the ponds Before you thought of spring Behind me-dips eternity 7
Edgar Allen Poe…187 A dream A dream within a dream Valentine Alone Annable Lee Bells. The Bridal Ballad City in the sea, The Coliseum, The Conqueror worm, The Dreamland Dreams Eldorado Elizebeth Eulalie Evening star The raven
Percy Bysshe Shelly…219 Ozymandias. I arise from dreams of thee Good-Night Love’s Philosophy
Ted Kooser…223 After years Flying at night In January
William Blake…225 Proverbs from hell Reeds of innocence Auguries of innocense A cradle song 8
Broken Love A little girl lost Eternity
Sylvia Plath…242 Aftermath April 18 Black rock in rainy weather Child Cinderella Contusion
Walt Whitman…250 A child said, what is the grass A farm picture A march in the ranks, hard prest A noiseless spider A riddle song
E. E. Cummings…261 All which isn’t singing is mere talking A man who had fallen among thieves Anyone lived in a pretty how town A clown’s smirk in the mask of a baboon Dying is fine, but death I have found what you are like I like my body when it’s with your.. I, I love you I love you much (most beautiful darling) I carry your heart with me Somewhere I have never traveled
Dylan Thomas…274 Refusal to mourn the death, by fire... Do not go gentle into that good night Light breaks where no sun shines 9
My hero bares his Nerves The force that through green fuse drives the flower
Langston Hughes…282 Dreams I, too sing America Let America be America again Life is fine Madame and her madame Night funeral in Harlem Po’ Boys Blues The weary blues Theme for English B Will V-Day be me day too Dream variations
Gwendolyn Brooks…300 The bean eaters A Bronxeville mother loiters in Mississippi The mother The sonnet-ballad A sunset of the city We real cool
Maya Angelou…312 Alone Still I rise I know why the caged bird sings Insomniac Million man march poem Mama welfare roll Passing time Phenomenal woman Refusal Remembrance The detached 10
The lesson The rock cries out to us today They went home Touched by an angel Weekend glory When you come Woman work
Tupac Amaru Shakur…338 And 2 morrow Fallen star I cry In the depths of solitude Liberty needs glasses The rose that grew from concrete
Nikki Giovanni…343 Knoxville Tennessee
Paul Lawrence Dunbar Common things Confirmation Destination Encourage If I could but forget Life’s tragedy Signs of the times
O. S. Brooks...351 Le villa de Nora Never do less Kissing...heaven In you...my strength Speak easy The city and the river Build me 11
If only for the moment Sleep as though your dreams are wings If not tomorrow...gentle night Our dream of yesterday Radiant grandma, mother, and child
Philip Larkin…370 At grass Aubade Breadfruit days Deception Dublinesque Faith healing For Sidney Bechet Friday night at the Royal Station Hotel He hears that his beloved has become in engaged Home is so sad I remember If hands could free you, heart Ignorance
Ogden Nash…385 A tale of the thirteenth floor Always marry an April girl
Allen Ginsberg…391 Fourth floor… Homework Hospital window
Ted Hughes…395 A woman unconscious Full moon and little Frieda Lovesong Pike 12
The woman and the cold Thrushes
Roald Dahl…409 Mike Teavee Hot and Cold St. Ives The pig
Elizabeth Bishop…418 A miracle for breakfast
Dorothy Parker…423 “Star light, star bright-”
A certain lady A dream lies dead A fairy sad tale Very short story
Adrienne Rich…428 Paula Becker to Clara Westoff Planetarium Prospective immigrants please note Shattered head Snap shots of a daughter Stepping backward
Christina Georgina Rossetti…445 A better resurrection An apple-gathering Beneath thy cross In memory…449
Because it lives, breaths, becomes a part of youâ€Ś oetry is an art form in which human language is used for its aesthetic qualities in addition to, or instead of, its notional and semantic content. It consists largely of oral or literary works in which language is used in a manner that is felt by its user and audience to differ from ordinary prose. It may use condensed or compressed form to convey emotion or ideas to the reader's or listener's mind or ear; it may also use devices such as assonance and repetition to achieve musical or incantatory effects. Poems frequently rely for their effect on imagery, word association, and the musical qualities of the language used. The interactive layering of all these effects to generate meaning is what marks poetry. Because of its nature of emphasizing linguistic form rather than using language purely for its content, poetry is notoriously difficult to translate from one language into another: a possible exception to this might be the Hebrew Psalms, where the beauty is found more in the balance of ideas than in specific vocabulary. Poetry can be differentiated most of the time from prose, which is language meant to convey meaning in a more expansive and less condensed way, frequently using more complete logical or narrative structures than poetry does. This does not necessarily imply that poetry is illogical, but rather that poetry is often created from the need to escape the logical, as well as expressing feelings and other expressions in a tight, condensed manner. English Romantic poet John Keats termed this escape from logic Negative Capability.
What is generally accepted as "great" poetry is debatable in many cases. "Great" poetry usually follows the 15
characteristics listed above, but it is also set apart by its complexity and sophistication. "Great" poetry generally captures images vividly and in an original, refreshing way, while weaving together an intricate combination of elements like theme tension, complex emotion, and profound reflective thought. For examples of what is considered "great" poetry, visit the Pulitzer Prize and Nobel prize sections for poetry. In many instances, the effectiveness of a poem derives from the tension between the use of linguistic and formal units. With the advent of printing, poets gained greater control over the visual presentation of their work. As a result, the use of these formal elements, and of the white space they help create, became an important part of the poet's toolbox. Modernist poetry tends to take this to an extreme, with the placement of individual lines or groups of lines on the page forming an integral part of the poem's composition. In its most extreme form, this leads to the writing of concrete poetry. Poetry as an art form predates literacy. In preliterate societies, poetry was frequently employed as a means of recording oral history, storytelling (epic poetry), genealogy, law and other forms of expression or knowledge that modern societies might expect to be handled in prose. The Ramayana, a Sanskrit epic which includes poetry, was probably written in the 3rd century B.C.E. in a language described by William Jones as "more perfect than Latin, more copious than Greek and more exquisitely refined than either." Poetry is also often closely identified with liturgy in these societies, as the formal nature of poetry makes it easier to remember priestly incantations or prophecies. The greater part of the world's sacred scriptures are made up of poetry rather than prose. 16
The use of verse to transmit cultural information continues today. Many English speakingâ€“Americans know that "in 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue". An alphabet song teaches the names and order of the letters of the alphabet; another jingle states the lengths and names of the months in the Gregorian calendar. Preliterate societies, lacking the means to write down important cultural information, use similar methods to preserve it. Some writers believe that poetry has its origins in song. Most of the characteristics that distinguish it from other forms of utteranceâ€”rhythm, rhyme, compression, intensity of feeling, the use of refrainsâ€”appear to have come about from efforts to fit words to musical forms. In more recent times, the introduction of electronic media and the rise of the poetry reading have led to a resurgence of performance poetry and have resulted in a situation where poetry for the eye and poetry for the ear coexist, sometimes in the same poem. The late 20th-century rise of the singer-songwriter and Rap culture and the increase in popularity of Slam poetry have led to a renewed debate as to the nature of poetry that can be crudely characterized as a split between the academic and popular views. As of 2005, this debate is ongoing with no immediate prospect of a resolution. It captivates audiences. It soothes the soul. The craft of writing great poetry starts with understanding what it is. This collection captures some of the greats at their very best. This collection has been three six in the making. Through research, the works contained inside were brought here to stimulate as well as motivate poetry lovers of all ages and backgrounds world wide. This body of work was collected with care for readers to enjoy for years to come. We honor the great poets of the past and present in sharing this book and also honor our craft 17
Gift For You
A Brooks Family Read
PABLO NERUBA (1904-1973) orn Ricardo Eliecer Neftalí Reyes Basoalto in southern Chile on July 12, 1904, Pablo Neruda led a life charged with poetic and political activity. In 1923 he sold all of his possessions to finance the publication of his first book, Crepusculario ("Twilight"). He published the volume under the pseudonym "Pablo Neruda" to avoid conflict with his family, who disapproved of his occupation. The following year, he found a publisher for Veinte poemas de amor y una cancion desesperada ("Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair"). The book made a celebrity of Neruda, who gave up his studies at the age of twenty to devote himself to his craft. In 1927, Neruda began his long career as a diplomat in the Latin American tradition of honoring poets with diplomatic assignments. After serving as honorary consul in Burma, Neruda was named Chilean consul in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in 1933. While there, he began a friendship with the visiting Spanish poet Federico Garcia Lorca. After transferring to Madrid later that year, Neruda also met Spanish writer Manuel Altolaguirre. Together the two men founded a literary review called Caballo verde para la poesîa in 1935. The outbreak of the Spanish Civil War in 1936 interrupted Neruda's poetic and political development. He chronicled the horrendous years which included the execution of García Lorca in Espana en el corazon (1937), published from the war front. Neruda's outspoken sympathy for the loyalist cause during the
Spanish Civil War led to his recall from Madrid in 1937. He then returned to Europe to help settle republican refugees in the United States. Neruda returned to Chile in 1938 where he renewed his political activity and wrote prolifically. Named Chilean Consul to Mexico in 1939, Neruda left Chile again for four years. Upon returning to Chile in 1943, he was elected to the Senate and joined the Communist Party. When the Chilean government moved to the right, they declared communism illegal and expelled Neruda from the Senate. He went into hiding. During those years he wrote and published Canto general (1950). In 1952 the government withdrew the order to arrest leftist writers and political figures, and Neruda returned to Chile and married Matilde Urrutia, his third wife (his first two marriages, to Maria Antonieta Haagenar Vogelzang and Delia del Carril, both ended in divorce). For the next twenty-one years, he continued a career that integrated private and public concerns and became known as the people's poet. During this time, Neruda received numerous prestigious awards, including the International Peace Prize in 1950, the Lenin Peace Prize and the Stalin Peace Prize in 1953, and the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1971.
"Latin America is very fond of the word "hope." We like to be called the "continent of hope." Candidates for deputy, senator, president, call themselves "candidates of hope." This hope is really something like a promise of heaven, an IOU whose payment is always being put off. It is put off until the next legislative campaign, until next year, until the next century." Pablo Neruda (1904-1973), Chilean poet
And Because Love Battles And because love battles not only in its burning agricultures but also in the mouth of men and women, I will finish off by taking the path away to those who between my chest and your fragrance want to interpose their obscure plant. About me, nothing worse they will tell you, my love, than what I told you. I lived in the prairies before I got to know you and I did not wait love but I was laying in wait for and I jumped on the rose. What more can they tell you? I am neither good nor bad but a man, and they will then associate the danger of my life, which you know 22
and which with your passion you shared. And good, this danger is danger of love, of complete love for all life, for all lives, and if this love brings us the death and the prisons, I am sure that your big eyes, as when I kiss them, will then close with pride, into double pride, love, with your pride and my pride. But to my ears they will come before to wear down the tour of the sweet and hard love which binds us, and they will say: “The one you love, is not a woman for you, Why do you love her? I think you could find one more beautiful, more serious, more deep, more other, you understand me, look how she’s light, and what a head she has, and look at how she dresses, and etcetera and etcetera”. And I in these lines say: Like this I want you, love, love, Like this I love you, as you dress and how your hair lifts up 23
and how your mouth smiles, light as the water of the spring upon the pure stones, Like this I love you, beloved. To bread I do not ask to teach me but only not to lack during every day of life. I donâ€™t know anything about light, from where it comes nor where it goes, I only want the light to light up, I do not ask to the night explanations, I wait for it and it envelops me, And so you, bread and light And shadow are. You came to my life with what you were bringing, made of light and bread and shadow I expected you, and Like this I need you, Like this I love you, and to those who want to hear tomorrow that which I will not tell them, let them read it here, and let them back off today because it is early for these arguments. Tomorrow we will only give them a leaf of the tree of our love, a leaf which will fall on the earth like if it had been made by our lips like a kiss which falls from our invincible heights 24
to show the fire and the tenderness of a true love.
A Song of Despair The memory of you emerges from the night around me. The river mingles its stubborn lament with the sea. Deserted like the dwarves at dawn. It is the hour of departure, oh deserted one! Cold flower heads are raining over my heart. Oh pit of debris, fierce cave of the shipwrecked. In you the wars and the flights accumulated. From you the wings of the song birds rose. You swallowed everything, like distance. Like the sea, like time. In you everything sank! It was the happy hour of assault and the kiss. The hour of the spell that blazed like a lighthouse. Pilot's dread, fury of blind driver, turbulent drunkenness of love, in you everything sank! In the childhood of mist my soul, winged and wounded. Lost discoverer, in you everything sank! You girdled sorrow, you clung to desire, sadness stunned you, in you everything sank! 25
I made the wall of shadow draw back, beyond desire and act, I walked on. Oh flesh, my own flesh, woman whom I loved and lost, I summon you in the moist hour, I raise my song to you. Like a jar you housed infinite tenderness. and the infinite oblivion shattered you like a jar. There was the black solitude of the islands, and there, woman of love, your arms took me in. There was thirst and hunger, and you were the fruit. There were grief and ruins, and you were the miracle. Ah woman, I do not know how you could contain me in the earth of your soul, in the cross of your arms! How terrible and brief my desire was to you! How difficult and drunken, how tensed and avid. Cemetery of kisses, there is still fire in your tombs, still the fruited boughs burn, pecked at by birds. Oh the bitten mouth, oh the kissed limbs, oh the hungering teeth, oh the entwined bodies. Oh the mad coupling of hope and force in which we merged and despaired. And the tenderness, light as water and as flour. And the word scarcely begun on the lips. This was my destiny and in it was my voyage of my 26
longing, and in it my longing fell, in you everything sank! Oh pit of debris, everything fell into you, what sorrow did you not express, in what sorrow are you not drowned! From billow to billow you still called and sang. Standing like a sailor in the prow of a vessel. You still flowered in songs, you still break the currents. Oh pit of debris, open and bitter well. Pale blind diver, luckless slinger, lost discoverer, in you everything sank! It is the hour of departure, the hard cold hour which the night fastens to all the timetables. The rustling belt of the sea girdles the shore. Cold stars heave up, black birds migrate. Deserted like the wharves at dawn. Only tremulous shadow twists in my hands. Oh farther than everything. Oh farther than everything. It is the hour of departure. Oh abandoned one!
Brown And Agile Child Brown and agile child, the sun which forms the fruit And ripens the grain and twists the seaweed Has made your happy body and your luminous eyes And given your mouth the smile of water. A black and anguished sun is entangled in the twigs Of your black mane when you hold out your arms. You play in the sun as in a tidal river And it leaves two dark pools in your eyes. Brown and agile child, nothing draws me to you, Everything pulls away from me here in the noon. You are the delirious youth of bee, The drunkedness of the wave, the power of the heat. My somber heart seeks you always I love your happy body, your rich, soft voice. Dusky butterfly, sweet and sure Like the wheatfiled, the sun, the poppy, and the water.
Catâ€™s Dream How neatly a cat sleeps, sleeps with its paws and its posture, sleeps with its wicked claws, and with its unfeeling blood, sleeps with all the rings-a series of burnt circles-which have formed the odd geology 28
of its sand-colored tail. I should like to sleep like a cat, with all the fur of time, with a tongue rough as flint, with the dry sex of fire; and after speaking to no one, stretch myself over the world, over roofs and landscapes, with a passionate desire to hunt the rats in my dreams. I have seen how the cat asleep would undulate, how the night flowed through it like dark water; and at times, it was going to fall or possibly plunge into the bare deserted snowdrifts. Sometimes it grew so much in sleep like a tiger's great-grandfather, and would leap in the darkness over rooftops, clouds and volcanoes. Sleep, sleep cat of the night, with episcopal ceremony and your stone-carved moustache. Take care of all our dreams; control the obscurity of our slumbering prowess with your relentless heart and the great ruff of your tail.
Clentched Soul We have lost even this twilight. No one saw us this evening hand in hand while the blue night dropped on the world. I have seen from my window the fiesta of sunset in the distant mountain tops. Sometimes a piece of sun burned like a coin in my hand. I remembered you with my soul clenched in that sadness of mine that you know. Where were you then? Who else was there? Saying what? Why will the whole of love come on me suddenly when I am sad and feel you are far away? The book fell that always closed at twilight and my blue sweater rolled like a hurt dog at my feet. Always, always you recede through the evenings toward the twilight erasing statues.
Drunk As Drunk Translated from the Spanish by Christopher Logue Drunk as drunk on turpentine From your open kisses, Your wet body wedged Between my wet body and the strake Of our boat that is made of flowers, Feasted, we guide it - our fingers Like tallows adorned with yellow metal Over the sky's hot rim, The day's last breath in our sails. Pinned by the sun between solstice And equinox, drowsy and tangled together We drifted for months and woke With the bitter taste of land on our lips, Eyelids all sticky, and we longed for lime And the sound of a rope Lowering a bucket down its well. Then, We came by night to the Fortunate Isles, And lay like fish Under the net of our kisses.
Fable of the Mermaid and the Drunks All those men were there inside, when she came in totally naked. They had been drinking: they began to spit. Newly come from the river, she knew nothing. 31
She was a mermaid who had lost her way. The insults flowed down her gleaming flesh. Obscenities drowned her golden breasts. Not knowing tears, she did not weep tears. Not knowing clothes, she did not have clothes. They blackened her with burnt corks and cigarette stubs, and rolled around laughing on the tavern floor. She did not speak because she had no speech. Her eyes were the color of distant love, her twin arms were made of white topaz. Her lips moved, silent, in a coral light, and suddenly she went out by that door. Entering the river she was cleaned, shining like a white stone in the rain, and without looking back she swam again swam towards emptiness, swam towards death.
From- Twenty Poems Of Love I can write the saddest lines tonight. Write for example: â€˜The night is fractured and they shiver, blue, those stars, in the distanceâ€™ The night wind turns in the sky and sings. I can write the saddest lines tonight. I loved her, sometimes she loved me too. On nights like these I held her in my arms. I kissed her greatly under the infinite sky. She loved me, sometimes I loved her too. How could I not have loved her huge, still eyes. 32
I can write the saddest lines tonight. To think I don’t have her, to feel I have lost her. Hear the vast night, vaster without her. Lines fall on the soul like dew on the grass. What does it matter that I couldn’t keep her. The night is fractured and she is not with me. That is all. Someone sings far off. Far off, my soul is not content to have lost her. As though to reach her, my sight looks for her. My heart looks for her: she is not with me The same night whitens, in the same branches. We, from that time, we are not the same. I don’t love her, that’s certain, but how I loved her. My voice tried to find the breeze to reach her. Another’s kisses on her, like my kisses. Her voice, her bright body, infinite eyes. I don’t love her, that’s certain, but perhaps I love her. Love is brief: forgetting lasts so long. Since, on these nights, I held her in my arms, my soul is not content to have lost her. Though this is the last pain she will make me suffer, and these are the last lines I will write for her. 33
From The Book Of Questions Tell me, is the rose naked or is that her only dress? Why do trees conceal the splendor of their roots? Who hears the regrets of the thieving automobile? Is there anything in the world sadder than a train standing in the rain?
I Crave Your Mouth, Your Voice, Your Hair DON'T GO FAR OFF, NOT EVEN FOR A DAY Don't go far off, not even for a day, because -because -- I don't know how to say it: a day is long and I will be waiting for you, as in an empty station when the trains are parked off somewhere else, asleep. Don't leave me, even for an hour, because then the little drops of anguish will all run together, the smoke that roams looking for a home will drift into me, choking my lost heart. Oh, may your silhouette never dissolve on the beach; may your eyelids never flutter into the empty distance. 34
Don't leave me for a second, my dearest, because in that moment you'll have gone so far I'll wander mazily over all the earth, asking, Will you come back? Will you leave me here, dying?
If You Forget Me I want you to know one thing. You know how this is: if I look at the crystal moon, at the red branch of the slow autumn at my window, if I touch near the fire the impalpable ash or the wrinkled body of the log, everything carries me to you, as if everything that exists, aromas, light, metals, were little boats that sail toward those isles of yours that wait for me. Well, now, if little by little you stop loving me I shall stop loving you little by little. 35
If suddenly you forget me do not look for me, for I shall already have forgotten you. If you think it long and mad, the wind of banners that passes through my life, and you decide to leave me at the shore of the heart where I have roots, remember that on that day, at that hour, I shall lift my arms and my roots will set off to seek another land. But if each day, each hour, you feel that you are destined for me with implacable sweetness, if each day a flower climbs up to your lips to seek me, ah my love, ah my own, in me all that fire is repeated, in me nothing is extinguished or forgotten, my love feeds on your love, beloved, and as long as you live it will be in your arms without leaving mine.
Iâ€™m Explaining A Few Things You are going to ask: and where are the lilacs? and the poppy-petalled metaphysics? and the rain repeatedly spattering its words and drilling them full of apertures and birds? I'll tell you all the news. I lived in a suburb, a suburb of Madrid, with bells, and clocks, and trees. From there you could look out over Castille's dry face: a leather ocean. My house was called the house of flowers, because in every cranny geraniums burst: it was a good-looking house with its dogs and children. Remember, Raul? Eh, Rafel? Federico, do you remember from under the ground my balconies on which the light of June drowned flowers in your mouth? Brother, my brother! Everything loud with big voices, the salt of merchandises, pile-ups of palpitating bread, the stalls of my suburb of Arguelles with its statue like a drained inkwell in a swirl of hake: oil flowed into spoons, 37
a deep baying of feet and hands swelled in the streets, metres, litres, the sharp measure of life, stacked-up fish, the texture of roofs with a cold sun in which the weather vane falters, the fine, frenzied ivory of potatoes, wave on wave of tomatoes rolling down the sea. And one morning all that was burning, one morning the bonfires leapt out of the earth devouring human beings -and from then on fire, gunpowder from then on, and from then on blood. Bandits with planes and Moors, bandits with finger-rings and duchesses, bandits with black friars spattering blessings came through the sky to kill children and the blood of children ran through the streets without fuss, like children's blood. Jackals that the jackals would despise, stones that the dry thistle would bite on and spit out, vipers that the vipers would abominate! Face to face with you I have seen the blood of Spain tower like a tide to drown you in one wave of pride and knives! 38
Treacherous generals: see my dead house, look at broken Spain : from every house burning metal flows instead of flowers, from every socket of Spain Spain emerges and from every dead child a rifle with eyes, and from every crime bullets are born which will one day find the bull's eye of your hearts. And you'll ask: why doesn't his poetry speak of dreams and leaves and the great volcanoes of his native land? Come and see the blood in the streets. Come and see The blood in the streets. Come and see the blood In the streets!
In My Sky At Twilight In my sky at twilight you are like a cloud and your form and color are the way I love them. You are mine, mine, woman with sweet lips and in your life my infinite dreams live. The lamp of my soul dyes your feet, the sour wine is sweeter on your lips, oh reaper of my evening song, how solitary dreams believe you to be mine! You are mine, mine, I go shouting it to the afternoon's wind, and the wind hauls on my widowed voice. Huntress of the depth of my eyes, your plunder stills your nocturnal regard as though it were water. You are taken in the net of my music, my love, and my nets of music are wide as the sky. My soul is born on the shore of your eyes of mourning. In your eyes of mourning the land of dreams begin.
Leaning Into the Afternoon Leaning into the afternoons I cast my sad nets towards your oceanic eyes. There in the highest blaze my solitude lengthens and flames, its arms turning like a drowning man's. 40
I send out red signals across your absent eyes that smell like the sea or the beach by a lighthouse. You keep only darkness, my distant female, from your regard sometimes the coast of dread emerges. Leaning into the afternoons I fling my sad nets to that sea that is thrashed by your oceanic eyes. The birds of night peck at the first stars that flash like my soul when I love you. The night gallops on its shadowy mare shedding blue tassels over the land.
Poetry And it was at that age ... Poetry arrived in search of me. I don't know, I don't know where it came from, from winter or a river. I don't know how or when, no they were not voices, they were not words, nor silence, but from a street I was summoned, from the branches of night, abruptly from the others, among violent fires or returning alone, there I was without a face and it touched me. 41
I did not know what to say, my mouth had no way with names, my eyes were blind, and something started in my soul, fever or forgotten wings, and I made my own way, deciphering that fire, and I wrote the first faint line, faint, without substance, pure nonsense, pure wisdom of someone who knows nothing, and suddenly I saw the heavens unfastened and open, planets, palpitating plantations, shadow perforated, riddled with arrows, fire and flowers, the winding night, the universe. And I, infinitesimal being, drunk with the great starry void, likeness, image of mystery, felt myself a pure part of the abyss, I wheeled with the stars, 42
my heart broke loose on the wind.
Saddest Poem I can write the saddest poem of all tonight. Write, for instance: "The night is full of stars, and the stars, blue, shiver in the distance." The night wind whirls in the sky and sings. I can write the saddest poem of all tonight. I loved her, and sometimes she loved me too. On nights like this, I held her in my arms. I kissed her so many times under the infinite sky. She loved me, sometimes I loved her. How could I not have loved her large, still eyes? I can write the saddest poem of all tonight. To think I don't have her. To feel that I've lost her. To hear the immense night, more immense without her. And the poem falls to the soul as dew to grass. What does it matter that my love couldn't keep her. The night is full of stars and she is not with me. That's all. Far away, someone sings. Far away. 43
My soul is lost without her. As if to bring her near, my eyes search for her. My heart searches for her and she is not with me. The same night that whitens the same trees. We, we who were, we are the same no longer. I no longer love her, true, but how much I loved her. My voice searched the wind to touch her ear. Someone else's. She will be someone else's. As she once belonged to my kisses. Her voice, her light body. Her infinite eyes. I no longer love her, true, but perhaps I love her.Love is so short and oblivion so long. Because on nights like this I held her in my arms, my soul is lost without her. Although this may be the last pain she causes me, and this may be the last poem I write for her.
The Question Love, a question has destroyed you. I have come back to you from thorny uncertainty. I want you straight as 44
the sword or the road. But you insist on keeping a nook of shadow that I do not want. My love, understand me, I love all of you, from eyes to feet, to toenails, inside, all the brightness, which you kept. It is I, my love, who knocks at your door. It is not the ghost, it is not the one who once stopped at your window. I knock down the door: I enter your life: I come to live in your soul: you cannot cope with me. You must open door to door, you must obey me, you must open your eyes so that I may search in them, you must see how I walk with heavy steps along all the roads that, blind, were waiting for me. Do not fear, 45
I am yours, butI am not the passenger or the beggar, I am your master, the one you were waiting for, and now I enter your life, no more to leave it, love, love, love, but to stay.
The Weary One The weary one, orphan of the masses, the self, the crushed one, the one made of concrete, the one without a country in crowded restaurants, he who wanted to go far away, always farther away, didn't know what to do there, whether he wanted or didn't want to leave or remain on the island, the hesitant one, the hybrid, entangled in himself, 46
had no place here: the straight-angled stone, the infinite look of the granite prism, the circular solitude all banished him: he went somewhere else with his sorrows, he returned to the agony of his native land, to his indecisions, of winter and summer.
Tower Of Light O tower of light, sad beauty that magnified necklaces and statues in the sea, calcareous eye, insignia of the vast waters, cry of the mourning petrel, tooth of the sea, wife of the Oceanian wind, O separate rose from the long stem of the trampled bush that the depths, converted into archipelago, O natural star, green diadem, alone in your lonesome dynasty, still unattainable, elusive, desolate like one drop, like one grape, like the sea.
We Are Many Of the many men whom I am, whom we are, I cannot settle on a single one. They are lost to me under the cover of clothing They have departed for another city. 47
When everything seems to be set to show me off as a man of intelligence, the fool I keep concealed on my person takes over my talk and occupies my mouth. On other occasions, I am dozing in the midst of people of some distinction, and when I summon my courageous self, a coward completely unknown to me swaddles my poor skeleton in a thousand tiny reservations. When a stately home bursts into flames, instead of the fireman I summon, an arsonist bursts on the scene, and he is I. There is nothing I can do. What must I do to distinguish myself? How can I put myself together? All the books I read lionize dazzling hero figures, brimming with self-assurance. I die with envy of them; and, in films where bullets fly on the wind, I am left in envy of the cowboys, left admiring even the horses. But when I call upon my DASHING BEING, out comes the same OLD LAZY SELF, and so I never know just WHO I AM, nor how many I am, nor WHO WE WILL BE BEING. I would like to be able to touch a bell and call up my real self, the truly me, 48
because if I really need my proper self, I must not allow myself to disappear. While I am writing, I am far away; and when I come back, I have already left. I should like to see if the same thing happens to other people as it does to me, to see if as many people are as I am, and if they seem the same way to themselves. When this problem has been thoroughly explored, I am going to school myself so well in things that, when I try to explain my problems, I shall speak, not of self, but of geography.
Your Laughter Take bread away from me, if you wish, take air away, but do not take from me your laughter. Do not take away the rose, the lance flower that you pluck, the water that suddenly bursts forth in joy, the sudden wave of silver born in you. My struggle is harsh and I come back with eyes tired 49
at times from having seen the unchanging earth, but when your laughter enters it rises to the sky seeking me and it opens for me all the doors of life. My love, in the darkest hour your laughter opens, and if suddenly you see my blood staining the stones of the street, laugh, because your laughter will be for my hands like a fresh sword. Next to the sea in the autumn, your laughter must raise its foamy cascade, and in the spring, love, I want your laughter like the flower I was waiting for, the blue flower, the rose of my echoing country. Laugh at the night, at the day, at the moon, laugh at the twisted streets of the island, laugh at this clumsy boy who loves you, but when I open my eyes and close them, 50
when my steps go, when my steps return, deny me bread, air, light, spring, but never your laughter for I would die.
Charles Bukowski (1920-1994) harles Bukowski was born in Andernach, Germany on August 16, 1920, the only child of an American soldier and a German mother. At the age of three, he came with his family to the United States and grew up in Los Angeles. He attended Los Angeles City College from 1939 to 1941, then left school and moved to New York City to become a writer. His lack of publishing success at this time caused him to give up writing in 1946 and spurred a ten-year stint of heavy drinking. After he developed a bleeding ulcer, he decided to take up writing again. He worked a wide range of jobs to support his writing, including dishwasher, truck driver and loader, mail carrier, guard, gas station attendant, stock boy, warehouse worker, shipping clerk, post office clerk, parking lot attendant, Red Cross orderly, and elevator operator. He also worked in a dog biscuit factory, a slaughterhouse, a cake and cookie factory, and he hung posters in New York City subways. Bukowski published his first story when he was twenty-four and began writing poetry at the age of thirtyfive. His writing often featured a depraved metropolitan environment, downtrodden members of American society, direct language, violence, and sexual imagery, and many of his works center around a roughly autobiographical figure named Henry Chinaski.
His first book of poetry was published in 1959; he went on to publish more than forty-five books of poetry and prose, including Pulp (Black Sparrow, 1994), Screams from the Balcony: Selected Letters 1960-1970 (1993), and The Last Night of the Earth Poems (1992). He died of leukemia in San Pedro on March 9, 1994. His work is studied and read today with admiration from readers of all ages. He is by far one of my favorite poets and deserves a place in this book. I hope you enjoy this collection of just a few poems from a great poet and inspiration to writers world-wide.
You begin saving the world by saving one man at a time; all else is grandiose romanticism or politics.
Charles Bukowski US (German-born) author & poet (1920 - 1994)
Big night in town drunk on the dark streets of some city, it's night, you're lost, where's your room? you enter a bar to find yourself, order scotch and water. damned bar's sloppy wet, it soaks part of one of your shirt 53
sleeves. It's a clip joint-the scotch is weak. you order a bottle of beer. Madame Death walks up to you wearing a dress. she sits down, you buy her a beer, she stinks of swamps, presses a leg against you. the bar tender sneers. you've got him worried, he doesn't know if you're a cop, a killer, a madman or an Idiot. you ask for a vodka. you pour the vodka into the top of the beer bottle. It's one a.m. In a dead cow world. you ask her how much for head, drink everything down, it tastes like machine oil. you leave Madame Death there, you leave the sneering bartender there. you have remembered where your room is. the room with the full bottle of wine on the dresser. the room with the dance of the roaches. Perfection in the Star Turd where love died 54
Bluebird there's a bluebird in my heart that wants to get out but I'm too tough for him, I say, stay in there, I'm not going to let anybody see you.
Carson McCullers she died of alcoholism wrapped in a blanket on a deck chair on an ocean steamer. all her books of terrified loneliness all her books about the cruelty of loveless love were all that was left of her as the strolling vacationer discovered her body notified the captain and she was quickly dispatched to somewhere else on the ship as everything continued just as she had written it
Cause and effect the best often die by their own hand just to get away, and those left behind can never quite understand why anybody would ever want to get away from them
Close to greatness at one stage in my life I met a man who claimed to have visited Pound at St. Elizabethâ€™s . then I met a woman who not only claimed to have visited E. P. but also to have made love to himâ€”she even showed me certain sections in the Cantos where Ezra was supposed to have 57
mentioned her. so there was this man and this woman and the woman told me that Pound had never mentioned a visit from this man and the man claimed that the lady had nothing to do with the master that she was a charlatan and since I wasn't a Poundian scholar I didn't know who to believe but one thing I do know: when a man is living many claim relationships that are hardly so and after he dies, well, then it's everybody's party. My guess is that Pound knew neither the lady or the gentleman or if he knew 58
one or if he knew both it was a shameful waste of madhouse time.
Confession waiting for death like a cat that will jump on the bed I am so very sorry for my wife she will see this stiff white body shake it once, then maybe again 59
"Hank!" Hank won't answer. it's not my death that worries me, it's my wife left with this pile of nothing. I want to let her know though that all the nights sleeping beside her even the useless arguments were things ever splendid and the hard words
Consummation of grief I even hear the mountains the way they laugh up and down their blue sides and down in the water the fish cry and the water is their tears. I listen to the water on nights I drink away and the sadness becomes so great I hear it in my clock it becomes knobs upon my dresser it becomes paper on the floor it becomes a shoehorn a laundry ticket it becomes cigarette smoke climbing a chapel of dark vines. . . it matters little very little love is not so bad or very little life what counts is waiting on walls I was born for this I was born to hustle roses down the avenues of the dead.
Cows in art class good weather is like good womenit doesn't always happen and when it does it doesn't always last. man is more stable: if he's bad there's more chance he'll stay that way, or if he's good he might hang on, but a woman I ever feared to say can now be said: I love you. is changed by children age diet conversation sex the moon 62
the absence or presence of sun or good times. a woman must be nursed into subsistence by love where a man can become stronger by being hated.
Curtain the final curtain on one of the longest running musicals ever, some people claim to have seen it over one hundred times. I saw it on the tv news, that final curtain: flowers, cheers, tears, a thunderous accolade. I have not seen this particular musical but I know if I had that I wouldn't have been able to bear it, it would have sickened me. trust me on this, the world and its peoples and its artful entertainment has done very little for me, only to me. still, let them enjoy one another, it will keep them from my door and for this, my own thunderous accolade.
Cut while shaving It's never quite right, he said, the way people look, the way the music sounds, the way the words are written. It's never quite right, he said, all the things we are taught, all the loves we chase, all the deaths we die, all the lives we live, they are never quite right, they are hardly close to right, these lives we live one after the other, piled there as history, the waste of the species, the crushing of the light and the way, it's not quite right, it's hardly right at all he said. don't I know it? I answered. I walked away from the mirror. it was morning, it was afternoon, it was night nothing changed it was locked in place. something flashed, something broke, something remained. I walked down the stairway and 64
Decline naked along the side of the house, 8 a.m., spreading sesame seed oil over my body, Jesus, have I come to this? I once battled in dark alleys for a laugh. now I'm not laughing. I splash myself with oil and wonder, how many years do you want? how many days? my blood is soiled and a dark angel sits in my brain. things are made of something and go to nothing. I understand the fall of cities, of nations. a small plane passes overhead. I look upward as if it made sense to look upward. it's true, the sky has rotted: it won't be long for any of us.
Eat your heart out I've come by, she says, to tell you that this is it. I'm not kidding, it's over. this is it. I sit on the couch watching her arrange her long red hair before my bedroom mirror. she pulls her hair up and piles it on top of her headshe lets her eyes look at my eyesthen she drops her hair and lets it fall down in front of her face. we go to bed and I hold her speechlessly from the back my arm around her neck I touch her wrists and hands feel up to her elbows no further. she gets up. this is it, she says, this will do. well, I'm going. I get up and walk her to the door just as she leaves she says, I want you to buy me some high-heeled shoes with tall thin spikes, 66
black high-heeled shoes. no, I want them red. I watch her walk down the cement walk under the trees she walks all right and as the poinsettias drip in the sun I close the door.
Finish We are like roses that have never bothered to bloom when we should have bloomed and it is as if the sun has become disgusted with waiting
Elizabeth Barret Browning oet, born in Durham, Co Durham, NE England, UK, the wife of Robert Browning. She seriously injured her spine (c.1821), and was long an invalid. Her first poems were published at 19, and other volumes appeared in 1838 and 1844. In 1845 she met Robert Browning, with whom she eloped in 1846. Her best-known work is Sonnets from the Portuguese (1850), ‘Portuguese’ being Browning's pet name for her. Her major work, the verse novel Aurora Leigh (1857), speculates with wit and force on social responsibilities and the position of women. During her lifetime she was criticized for her progressive social ideas and her audacious metrical experiments. In her later years she developed an interest in spiritualism, and also in Italian politics.
How do I love thee How do I love thee? Let me count the ways. I love thee to the depth and breadth and height My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight For the ends of Being and ideal Grace. I love thee to the level of every day's Most quiet need, by sun and candlelight. I love thee freely, as men strive for Right; I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise. I love with a passion put to use In my old grief’s, and with my childhood's faith. I love thee with a love I seemed to lose 68
With my lost saints, I love thee with the breath, Smiles, tears, of all my life! and, if God choose, I shall but love thee better after death.
Grief I tell you, hopeless grief is passionless; That only men incredulous of despair, Half-taught in anguish, through the midnight air Beat upward to God's throne in loud access Of shrieking and reproach. Full desert ness, In souls as countries, lieth silent-bare Under the blanching, vertical eye-glare Of the absolute Heavens. Deep-hearted man, express Grief for thy Dead in silence like to death-Most like a monumental statue set In everlasting watch and move-less woe Till itself crumble to the dust beneath. Touch it; the marble eyelids are not wet: If it could weep, it could arise and go.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow oet, born in Portland, Maine, USA. After graduation from Bowdoin College (1825), he studied languages in Europe (1826–9) and became professor and librarian at Bowdoin (1829–35). After further study in Europe, he was appointed Smith Professor of French and Spanish at Harvard (1836–54). A collection of poetry, Voices in the Night (1839), contained the poems ‘A Psalm Life’, ‘Hymn to the Night’, and ‘The Light of the Stars’, which soon became widely known. Ballads and Other Poems (1841), including such immensely popular works as ‘The Village Blacksmith’, ‘The Wreck of the Hesperus’, and ‘Excelsior’, and his longer narrative poems, Evangeline (1847), The Song of Hiawatha (1855), and The Courtship of Miles Standish (1858), further served to make him the best-known American poet of the century. His Tales of a Wayside Inn (1863) opens with ‘Paul Revere's Ride’, which has ever since been a national favorite. The widespread knowledge of these works and their inclusion in school curricula throughout the country did much to establish the popular notion of poetry in the USA well into the 20th-c. For spiritual solace after the accidental death of his second wife (1861), he translated The Divine Comedy of Dante Alighieri (1865–7) and produced a series of six sonnets, ‘Divina Commedia’, which are among his finest poems. Although his work later came to be regarded as saccharine and didactic, there is no denying that he long played one of the traditional roles of a poet.
The tides rise, the tides fall The tide rises, the tide falls, The twilight darkens, the curlew calls; Along the sea-sands damp and brown The traveler hastens toward the town, And the tide rises, the tide falls. Darkness settles on roofs and walls, But the sea, the sea in darkness calls; The little waves, with their soft, white hands Efface the footprints in the sands, And the tide rises, the tide falls. The morning breaks; the steeds in their stalls Stamp and neigh, as the hostler calls; The day returns, but nevermore Returns the traveler to the shore. And the tide rises, the tide falls.
Excelsior The shades of night were falling fast, As through an Alpine village passed A youth, who bore, 'mid snow and ice, A banner with the strange device, Excelsior! His brow was sad; his eye beneath, Flashed like a falchion from its sheath, And like a silver clarion rung 71
The accents of that unknown tongue, Excelsior! In happy homes he saw the light Of household fires gleam warm and bright; Above, the spectral glaciers shone, And from his lips escaped a groan, Excelsior! "Try not the Pass!" the old man said: "Dark lowers the tempest overhead, The roaring torrent is deep and wide! And loud that clarion voice replied, Excelsior! "Oh stay," the maiden said, "and rest Thy weary head upon this breast!" A tear stood in his bright blue eye, But still he answered, with a sigh, Excelsior! "Beware the pine-tree's withered branch! Beware the awful avalanche!" This was the peasant's last Good-night, A voice replied, far up the height, Excelsior! At break of day, as heavenward The pious monks of Saint Bernard Uttered the oft-repeated prayer, A voice cried through the startled air, Excelsior! A traveler, by the faithful hound, Half-buried in the snow was found, Still grasping in his hand of ice 72
That banner with the strange device, Excelsior! There in the twilight cold and gray, Lifeless, but beautiful, he lay, And from the sky, serene and far, A voice fell, like a falling star, Excelsior!
Joe Fazio (1929-2007) oe Fazio remains one of my favorite poets in this collection. Life by the sea is one of my favorite works from him. It is short but captures some scope of his work. I enjoy reading his work and comparing his older poems to the ones he wrote later in his life. During such times of great struggle for a more spiritual, religious, or cultural enlightenment, his work helps mend, mold, and mesmerize itâ€™s readers in to better places. Like most poets in this collection, I am able to leave the everyday stresses of work, life at home, and other outside influences when I sit down and engulf my self in all that was the beauty of his lifeâ€™s work. I appreciate and dedicate this section to him.
Life And The Sea Life, is like the coming and going of an oceans tide. At each days end, the tide, life, recedes and only a portion returns the next day. Until finally, the last of life recedes into a foggy mist, that disappears into the light that is hope.
You Are The Pain and The Joy
You are the Pain and the joy on the stage of life. You are the pain hunger and the joy of food on ones table. You are the pain of the homeless, and the joy, of the home, in His heart. You are the pain on a bitter, winter day and the joy, in the warmth of the sun. You are the pain and joy, in the solitude, of those moments alone. You are the pain and joy, that lingers in ones heart. You are the pain in music that is bad, and you are the joy, in my song of life. You are the pain, in the tragedies of the world, and the joy in the goodness of people. You are the pain of the orphans of the street, and the joy, in a 75
mothers love. You are the pain, in a sometime unjust world, and the joy in the spirit of ones heart. You are the pain, in the loss of loved ones, and the joy, when they are seated at His table. You are the pain of self destructive addiction and the joy in redemption. You are the pain, in the sicknesses of this world, and the joy in the hope of recovery. You are the pain in the misery of the poor, and disenfranchise, and the joy, in the parts of society, that attempts to, raise them up. You are the pain and you are the joy, in all things. For you see, in life, there can not be joy...unless there is pain.
I wish of that of use to be's, and yearn of the time that's long gone by; for in the twilight of my life, all seems finally clear, for the nearer death...the clearer life. Now surrounded by 'material things' that I have labored for, I have come to realize that in such things, everything is nothing-for they are only things.
I confess, before I met you, I was on a lonely journey, on a dead end road. 77
I confess, you brought sunlight, to the dark abyss within me. I confess, you awakened my senses, to the beauty that life held. I confess, I can tell you where, what day, and under what willow tree, I fell in love with you. I confess, the first time, I felt the softness of you and the rapture of your body, I felt as man, finally complete. Finally fulfilled. I confess, when I realized that you loved me, it caused me to weep with happiness. I confess you have released me from darkness and replaced the hopeless of my existence, with the joy of life. I confess, your voice, is as a bird in song and your smile, is as the light of night. I confess, when I utter your name, it comes as a symphony, from my heart. I confess, when you are near, you are like a fragrance, from the flowers of a field. I confess, your moist lips, beckon me, as the rippling sea, in a summers sunlight. 78
I confess, from my emotional prison, you have taken me to castles in the air. Where the sun shines always, and the flowers of life, forever bloom. I confess, my past constant companions of loneliness, and anguish, have been replaced by the love, you have showered me with. I confess, I find you beauty, your heart so kind, and your unconditional love, surely more than I deserve. I confess, your gentleness, and purity of heart, is like the pristine, new falling snow. I confess, you are the sunlight in a darkened sky. A delicate crystal goblet and the heavens rain, that fill it. I confess, you are summer days, winter nights, the beauty of fall and the promise of spring. ne I confess, when I found you, I found the other half of who I am. You have completed me. I confess, you are my all, my everything....my life. I confess, I love you...love you...love you.
I Am Man
I am a man of passion, of conviction, of faith. I am a man of love, of laughter and of anger. I am a man of strength, who despairs, who weeps. I am a man enraged by mans inhumanity to man and perplexed by He who seems unable to stop the madness. 80
I feel, touch, smell, taste and I see the good in man. In my deepest despair, somehow I know that all will be right, for I am an eternal optimist. I am compelled to hope for the best in humanity. I weep for those who worship at the alter of ambition, for they shall leave in their wake, their children, their loved ones, millions of orphans of success. I am man and in my failures and in my short comings, I continue my utmost to do His will. I am the most unique animal in the Kingdom. I am the most intelligent and I have many faults. I am all these things and more...for I am man.
Do you believe in your God? Do you believe, that your religion is the right and true religion? What do you believe of the billions of people, who do not believe, as you believe? I believe, it can not be, that one religion, 81
is the true way to worship. I believe, that there is one Supreme Being. I believe this Supreme Being, is by-lingual, multi-colored and of all ethnic races. I believe he loves and blesses us all.
In September, when warm summer days have slipped into faded memories of too few breezes, winter is close at hand, with its visions of leafless trees, blanketed nights and bone chilling days. Ahhhhh, for those scorching day of mid July, when we cursed the heated nights, as we lie sweltering in our beds. 82
It has always be and will forever be; that which we no longer have, is that of which we yearn for most. Is not love cherished more when the time to part has come? Why do we always yearn for the yesterdays that were taken so lightly, when they were our 'todays? ' And, when the flower has wilted on the vine, is it not the memory of its beauty that we so yearn for? Yesterdays...yesterday, oh how I yearn for yesterday. Today, is the tomorrow we thought about yesterday. Today, hold close to you, those who you love, for in the cover of darkness, 'today', will slip quietly and forever, into yesterday. Fill you 'todays' with the goodness within you and your memories of yesterdays, will be your salvation tomorrow.
Who will teach the children? Who will teach our children? Who will teach our children? I speak not of the lessons of school, but those of life, living and those of God. Who will teach our children, that in war no one wins and all humanity loses 83
a part of who we are. Who will teach our children, that God, morality, honesty, love and respect are the corner stones of the civilized world. Without them, mankind will crumble and disappeared forever more. Who will teach our children of compassion for their fellow man and respect for another God, or color or creed? Who will teach our children, all these things and more? The answer is whispered in your love...beating in your heart....and echoed in your soul. Who will teach our children? ...It must be you.
The last sunset The old man said to the youth, 'I know of youth and I know of age, but you who aren't of age, can only know of youth. So you make the music of the strong and the young, and I'll sing the song of the old, that are done. Together we'll walk toward the setting sun, but I'll leave long before you, my youthful one. 84
You're so strong, so young, so bright I'm told. You're my yesterdays, my memories, and now I'm old. 'Oh what I'd give for days gone by' the old man murmured, with a long deep sigh. The youth glimpsed the man with the tired face, and knew in his heart, he bound for that place. That place, the other side of a starlit sky, a place called Heaven, way up on high. The youth was sad, in pain and shed a tear, the old man hugged him, and gone was fear. Longingly, he look at the boy as he whispered... 'I go from here.' The youth protested and cried, and said 'don't leave'. The old man smiled and said 'don't grieve. For every man, comes a time to go, it's now my time, for this I know. I've lived my life and now I wonder, what it is, that's beyond the thunder.' Toward the setting sun, they strode, and boy sadly whispered, 'goodby... till I'm old.' 85
Bath me in your tears No greater comfort can be found, then tears of love and caring. When the love of another, does rise from ones heat, and overflow in tears, know ye well, that greater love, does not exist. Bath me in your tears, oh pure and snow white dove, and you will shower me, with goodness hope and love. Bath me in your tears, my lives an angry sea. Bath me in your tears, bring tranquility to me. Bath me in you tears, and wash away my fear. Hold me close my love, that I might know you care. Bath me in your tears, and mend my lonely heart. Kiss me, love me...tell me... we shall never part. Bath me in your tears, a heavens mist of dew, that I might see the light, with help from only you. And when my life is over, and I am put to rest, I'll take your tears of love and joy... for they're the very best.
Shadow of you Since you have passed on...no, since you died...you remain, in the shadows of my life. When I move, as in life, we still share the same shadow. Our favorite place to dine...you are there. You are the love in the music and the joy in the night. The air I breath, is you, filtered through the sunlight and the darkness. My laughter...my joy...my tears...my pain, are filled with the essence of who you were. Of who you are. The soft glow, of your distant shadow, leads me through the dark corridors of life, and into the joy, that is sunlight. That is you. You are the shadow of children at play and you are the innocence, of who they are. As the mighty Sequoia Trees, cast their shadow, to merge in the shadow of the snow covered mountains...you are there. For you are their strength and you are their beauty. You are the shadow of a flickering fireplace and 87
the warmth, that fills me, with thoughts of you. Forever, I shall seek refuge, in the shadow of your being and the cloak of your love. Until our shadows merge once again... know that I love you.
Could I ever leave you? Could I ever leave you? Never. For you are the air the fills me with the breath of life and the energy that fuels each day. You are my laughter, my joy, my reason for being. You are my hope, my warmth, on a cold winters night, and the flowers that bloom in my heart. You are my friend, my love...my life. You are the liquid of life under a deserts sun; my port in a storm and without you there is but a barren wasteland of nothingness, where laughter has died and darkness and bitter howling winds are forever. Could I ever leave you. Not for all eternity and one day thereafter, if 88
there be such a time.
Have I replaced you? Have I replaced you? Replacing you would be like trying to replace the sun...moon...stars and replacing everything in life that brings a smile to ones face. Replacing you would remove all that is soft... warm and that which represents love and all that is worthwhile in life. Replacing you would be akin to replacing the energy that fuels another day. In the darkest of hours, replacing you would remove the light of hope that spurs one on. Have I replaced you? Never...not for all time to come and one day thereafter... if there be such time.
I didnâ€™t know I didn't know today, you would not be here tomorrow. I didn't know, I would never again hear you speak my name, or say, 'I love you'. I didn't know we would never again make love. Never again, feel as one. Never again experience that total feeling of love and being loved. I didn't know, that most of me, would go where you have gone. That most of who I am, would disappear into that eternal dark and endless abyss. I didn't know...without you, without us... there would be no me. I didn't know, how the cruel silence of our empty house, would make me weep, at the mere thought of you. I didn't know how dark the days would become and how empty and lonely the nights would be. I didn't know, the joy, in the music of life, would forever cease. I didn't know all our well meaning friends, 90
would all paraphrase the same words: 'Life goes on. You must go on.' I didn't know how....If could go on. If I wanted to go on. For without you, life was not life, but merely existence. I do know this. For me...never, for all eternity, will there ever be another you. There are days, I ache so much for you, I find it almost impossible to breath. I send you my heart and my soul, for without you, they are but empty vessels. Where ever you are...you know...I love you now...and I always will.
How could you not know? How could you not know I loved you? For it was always in my eyes, in every touch and in every polite embrace we've ever had. It was in all the hello's and all the goodbye's Iâ€™ve ever spoken, Could you not hear the pounding of my heart and see the soaring of my spirit? How could you not 91
know I love you? I have asked that question a thousand times. If you are ever to love me, it must be now, For it is nearly the end of my time, when the shadow of the trees grow long and then... and then appears no more.
You...think of me Do you think of me...as I have thought of you? A song...a flower...a place...a restaurant and it brings memories of you. I wonder, do you think of me, in the silence of the night? Childrens laughter...a mothers smile...an ocean front at sunrise...all of it...memories of you. As I think of you...do you...have you...thought of me? A rose in bloom...the music of the night...a gentle rain, all of it...you. As the thought of you, touches my soul...I wonder...do you feel me...as I feel you? A bird in flight...the dawning of a new day...the loneliness of night...each and every moment... it's you...you...you. Tell me... do you think of me? Do you love me... as I love you? 92
The gentle words...the music we loved...the places we went...all of it...forever you. The thought returns, again and again...do you feel the same? A starlit night...a moon so bright...the love we knew, I am there...are you? Always...forever...all of it...you. Come...rescue me with your love. Tell me... that you have thought of me...as I have thought of you.
Weep not for me For Christopher George. February 25,1931 - November 29,1983
'It's been more than twenty years, since you have gone. Still...you are often in my thoughts and always in my heart. I miss you my friend.' This one's...for you. Do not weep for me when I no longer dwell among the wonders of the earth; for my larger self is free, and my soul rejoices on the other 93
side of pain...on the other side of darkness. Do not weep for me, for I am a ray of sunshine that touches your skin, a tropical breeze upon your face, the hush of joy within your heart and the innocence of babes in mothers arms. I am the hope in a darkened night. And, in your hour of need, I will be there to comfort you. I will share your tears, your joys, your fears, your disappointments and your triumphs. Do not weep for me, for I am cradled in the arms of God. I walk with the angels, and hear the music beyond the stars. Do not weep for me, for I am within you; I am peace, love, I am a soft wind that caresses the flowers. I am the calm that follows a raging storm. I am an autumns leaf that floats among the garden of God, and I am pure white snow that softly falls upon your hand. Do not weep for me, for I shall never die, as long as you remember me... with a smile and a sigh.
I miss you I miss your quiet caring, your gentleness, the softness of you, and the warm cloak of your love. I miss your smile that was always so tentative, but warm like the sunshine, gentle as the rain, and softer than a rose. I miss your honesty, your caring and your loyalty. I miss your eyes, nose...mouth. I miss the sound, the comfort of your voice. I miss your laughter, your joy-I miss your tears, your kiss, your touch, and I miss our bodies pressed together, entwined as one. I miss falling asleep with you in my arms, and waking up to the warmness of you next to me. I miss...I miss, everything about you.
The gift of life Do the weak revere life any less than do the strong? And, of the wealthy and the poor, who most appreciates the warmth of the sun, the richness of the land, the magic of a starlit sky and the flowers in the field.? Does a wise man love life more than the simplest of man? Then tell me, who has more of a right to their next breath of air, a King or a peasant? It matters not the color, or religion, or cloth of a man, we are all...each and every one of us, His children.
A tribute to woman The history of every country is carved by the hand of man, while the hope and love of humanity, is born of a womenâ€™s soul.
A truth revealed Show me your passions, your convictions, your loves and I will know of who you are and whence you go. If you say nay, I shall not reveal myself to you, then it must be said, how little you think of yourself and therein lies the answer. Beware of those who do not reveal their true selves to you, for if they are untrue to themselves, they shall surely betray you.
A wish for you Let there be peace in you heart. Let those you love, be near. Let your inner voice always be true. Let God, always watch over you. Let you find the path, to all in life you desire.
All I want...is you 97
I search for you, on the pathways of life; teaming with people, scurrying from place to place. I seek something...anything... any part of who you were. In this frenetic world, with billions of people, racing about like ants, seeking a sugar hill...without you, I am alone. Lonely...desperate, is the life I live, as I trudge aimlessly, toward empty days and the dark and lonely nights. Sleep...I long for sleep, where I will find nothingness...peace. In the darkness...in the confines of sleep and life in suspension...there are times, when I find you. Times...when you seem so close...but out of my reach and away from your loving embrace. Then...even then, as you come to me in dreams, of things that use to be...even then...I am lonely. My heart weeps...and my soul wonders aimlessly, amid the lost and empty souls, of the universe. My human shell is devoid, of the most cherished gifts of life...love and happiness. They were taken from me...when you, were taken from me. As my eyes fix on the dew in the grass and the flowers that bloom, thankful I remain, for those brief glimpses of you, I find, in the morning stillness. I find you in the innocence of children...and their laugher, that chimes like sounds from above. 98
I find you in the decency of humanity and the compassion of strangers. You are the blood of a fallen hero and the tears in a mothers eyes. You are the food of life. Your are the hope, in these times of madness, as man continues, their inhumanity and indifference, to their fellow human beings. Yes, I see you in much of this world. I want more. I want to touch you...kiss you.Once again...I want to wake beside you. I want to hold you...and as your eyes slowly open...and that lazy smile appears on your face...I want to taste your lips...and you love. That's all I want. That's all I ever wanted.
An accomplishment of a lifetime A man can walk many roads during the course of his life. He can know many people. However, if he finds one... just one true friend, that is an accomplishment of a lifetime.
An unborn child As women are full with their unborn children, so it is that I am filled with my unborn words. As a mother who loves her child that is yet to be seen, so to, do I yearn for words which are unborn and lie in darkness. I say to myself, 'come to the light, come forth from me, that I might see you...so that I might see my child that is born of thought.
Another time...another place THIS IS NOT FAREWELL...UNTIL ANOTHER TIME...ANOTHER PLACE. So many days...weeks...years, have past, since 100
you traveled that star crossed journey, to the far beyond. Ten thousand times, I've heard the words, 'And now you must go on.' How can I go on, without the other half, of who I am? A man with half of heat, half of mind, half of my very soul...how then, do I go on? Never a fruit, or treat or delight, held the sweetness of your lips, that I hunger now to kiss. When I sleep, from a foggy haze, a light appears, as you come to me, in lands of dreams. When the morning birds, do sing their songs, you slide down a ray of sunshine and touch my wanting lips. In every note, of every song, you voice is heard...like a never ending melody. The flowers, hold your beauty and the haunting scent of who you were. In the magic of a summers night, the moon is all aglow, and everything reminds me, of you...you...you. As the wind plays the violin, through trees and leaves above, that too, reminds 101
me, of you, my one true love. In all the good, in all of life, in every where and everything...bring forth, the thoughts of you. So then, and when the words are spoken, 'You must go on, ' my answer has and always will be...'How? ' Wait for me, behind the stars, and then, I shall go on.
Could I have done more Here in the twilight of my life, I dream of the seeds I have planted and wish there were more. I reflect on the difference I've made and it was never enough. I could have done more. I should have done more. Why did I not? Perhaps the answers came late and the days grew short...and then were not.
Death of love Like an early morning tied, whoâ€™s waves endlessly washed upon a warm sandy beach, so to, do the memories of you, wash over my every waking moment. I remember watching you sleep as the morning sun filtered through the lace curtains you made. I watched in silence, at the way the suns soft rays kissed your sleeping form, never waking you. Your face, so peaceful, and always with a faint hint of a wry smile. I always wondered, what is she seeing? Thinking? That face, that so many times, was smothered with thousands of gentle, caring, loving kisses from me. I remember our being fused together as one. Never wanting to stop. Never wanting to let go. Kissing...hugging...touching places in body and soul we never knew existed. I remember my daily trek to the buildings of the concrete jungle and my calling you several times a day...just to hear your voice. I remember the empty place within me, that only you could fill, with love, joy and that good to be alive feeling. I remember every laugh and every tear we 103
ever shed together. I remember every time and every place you said, 'I love you.' I remember the day I came home and you were not at the door. My heart skipped a beat. You had been ill, and I raced to our bedroom. You lay atop the covered bed. Your eyes, in a blank stare. Open. As I moved to the bed, I knew you were gone, tears scalding my cheeks. I sat beside you, holding your hands, closing your eyes and softly kissing them. I remember that look; 'the light of life...had left your eyes.' Like a drop of water in the desert, my passion for life and living, dried up and left with you. I had traveled the world. From the Alps in Switzerland to the flowers of the field in the mid west. Yes, I saw the Vatican, paintings of the greats and historic places a thousand years old. I saw the Pyramids. I witnessed the beauty and promise of the world. In all these things...you were the best part of who I had become. In all these things... you were the most treasured. And you went away. And I miss you. And I love you. 104
Finding Humility Humility is a place where men of all color and religion can meet in the spirit of peace and love. Humility is a place where brother embraces brother where the common bond, is the common goal. Is there any such place as humility? Yes. However, one has to first find it within themselves, least they not recognize it, when they come upon it.
Boa Constrictor Oh, I'm being eaten By a boa constrictor, A boa constrictor, A boa constrictor, I'm being eaten by a boa constrictor, And I don't like it--one bit. Well, what do you know? It's nibblin' my toe. Oh, gee, It's up to my knee. Oh my, It's up to my thigh. Oh, fiddle, It's up to my middle. Oh, heck, It's up to my neck. Oh, dread, It's upmmmmmmmmmmffffffffff . . .
Danny Oâ€™ Dare Danny O'Dare, the dancin' bear, Ran away from the County Fair, Ran right up to my back stair And thought he'd do some dancin' there. He started jumpin' and skippin' and kickin', He did a dance called the Funky Chicken, He did the Polka, he did the Twist, He bent himself into a pretzel like this. He did the Dog and the Jitterbug, He did the Jerk and the Bunny Hug. He did the Waltz and the Boogaloo, He did the Hokey-Pokey too. He did the Bop and the Mashed Potata, He did the Split and the See Ya Later. And now he's down upon one knee, Bowin' oh so charmingly, And winkin' and smilin'--it's easy to see Danny O'Dare wants to dance with me.
Forgotten Language Once I spoke the language of the flowers, Once I understood each word the caterpillar said, Once I smiled in secret at the gossip of the starlings, And shared a conversation with the housefly in my bed. 107
Once I heard and answered all the questions of the crickets, And joined the crying of each falling dying flake of snow, Once I spoke the language of the flowers. . . . How did it go? How did it go?
Itâ€™s dark in here I am writing these poems From inside a lion, And it's rather dark in here. So please excuse the handwriting Which may not be too clear. But this afternoon by the lion's cage I'm afraid I got too near. And I'm writing these lines From inside a lion, And it's rather dark in here.
One inch tall If you were only one inch tall, you'd ride a worm to school. The teardrop of a crying ant would be your swimming pool. A crumb of cake would be a feast And last you seven days at least, A flea would be a frightening beast If you were one inch tall. If you were only one inch tall, you'd walk beneath the door, And it would take about a month to get down to the store. A bit of fluff would be your bed, You'd swing upon a spider's thread, And wear a thimble on your head If you were one inch tall. You'd surf across the kitchen sink upon a stick of gum. You couldn't hug your mama, you'd just have to hug her thumb. You'd run from people's feet in fright, To move a pen would take all night, (This poem took fourteen years to write-'Cause I'm just one inch tall).
Rain I opened my eyes And looked up at the rain, And it dripped in my head And flowed into my brain, And all that I hear as I lie in my bed Is the slishity-slosh of the rain in my head. I step very softly, I walk very slow, I can't do a handstand-I might overflow, So pardon the wild crazy thing I just said-I'm just not the same since there's rain in my head.
Sick 'I cannot go to school today, ' Said little Peggy Ann McKay. 'I have the measles and the mumps, A gash, a rash and purple bumps. My mouth is wet, my throat is dry, I'm going blind in my right eye. My tonsils are as big as rocks, I've counted sixteen chicken pox And there's one more-that's seventeen, And don't you think my face looks green? My leg is cut-my eyes are blue110
It might be instamatic flu. I cough and sneeze and gasp and choke, I'm sure that my left leg is brokeMy hip hurts when I move my chin, My belly button's caving in, My back is wrenched, my ankle's sprained, My 'pendix pains each time it rains. My nose is cold, my toes are numb. I have a sliver in my thumb. My neck is stiff, my voice is weak, I hardly whisper when I speak. My tongue is filling up my mouth, I think my hair is falling out. My elbow's bent, my spine ain't straight, My temperature is one-o-eight. My brain is shrunk, I cannot hear, There is a hole inside my ear. I have a hangnail, and my heart is-what? What's that? What's that you say? You say today is...Saturday? G' bye, I'm going out to play! '
Smart My dad gave me one dollar bill 'Cause I'm his smartest son, And I swapped it for two shiny quarters 'Cause two is more than one! And then I took the quarters And traded them to Lou For three dimes-I guess he don't know that three is more than two! Just them, along came old blind Bates And just 'cause he can't see He gave me four nickels for my three dimes, And four is more than three! And I took the nickels to Hiram Combs Down at the seed-feed store, and the fool gave me five pennies for them, And five is more than four! And then I went and showed my dad, and he go red in the cheeks And closed his eyes and shook his headToo proud of me to speak!
The toucan Tell me who can Catch a toucan? Lou can. Just how few can Ride the toucan? Two can. What kind of goo can Stick you to the toucan? Glue can. Who can write some More about the toucan? You can!
Weird-Bird Birds are flyin' south for winter. Here's the Weird-Bird headin' north, Wings a-flappin', beak a-chatterin', Cold head bobbin' back 'n' forth. He says, "It's not that I like ice Or freezin' winds and snowy ground. It's just sometimes it's kind of nice To be the only bird in town."
Where the side walks ends 113
There is a place where the sidewalk ends And before the street begins, And there the grass grows soft and white, And there the sun burns crimson bright, And there the moon-bird rests from his flight To cool in the peppermint wind. Let us leave this place where the smoke blows black And the dark street winds and bends. Past the pits where the asphalt flowers grow We shall walk with a walk that is measured and slow, And watch where the chalk-white arrows go To the place where the sidewalk ends. Yes we'll walk with a walk that is measured and slow, And we'll go where the chalk-white arrows go, For the children, they mark, and the children, they know The place where the sidewalk ends.
William Shakespear (1564-1616) illiam Shakespeare was born on April 23, 1564, in Stratford-on-Avon. The son of John Shakespeare and Mary Arden, he was probably educated at the King Edward IV Grammar School in Stratford, where he learned Latin and a little Greek and read the Roman dramatists. At eighteen, he married Anne Hathaway, a woman seven or eight years his senior. Together they raised two daughters: Susanna, who was born in 1583, and Judith (whose twin brother died in boyhood), born in 1585. Little is known about Shakespeare's activities between 1585 and 1592. Robert Greene's A Groatsworth of Wit alludes to him as an actor and playwright. Shakespeare may have taught at school during this period, but it seems more probable that shortly after 1585 he went to London to begin his apprenticeship as an actor. Due to the plague, the London theaters were often closed between June 1592 and April 1594. During that period, Shakespeare probably had some income from his patron, Henry Wriothesley, earl of Southampton, to whom he dedicated his first two poems, Venus and Adonis (1593) and The Rape of Lucrece (1594). The fomer was a long narrative poem depicting the rejection of Venus by Adonis, his death, and the consequent disappearance of beauty from the world. Despite conservative objections to the poem's glorification of sensuality, it was immensely popular and was reprinted six times during the nine years following its publication.
In 1594, Shakespeare joined the Lord Chamberlain's company of actors, the most popular of the companies acting at Court. In 1599 Shakespeare joined a group of Chamberlain's Men that would form a syndicate to build and operate a new playhouse: the Globe, which became the most famous theater of its time. With his share of the income from the Globe, Shakespeare was able to purchase New Place, his home in Stratford. While Shakespeare was regarded as the foremost dramatist of his time, evidence indicates that both he and his world looked to poetry, not play-writing, for enduring fame. Shakespeare's sonnets were composed between 1593 and 1601, though not published until 1609. That edition, The Sonnets of Shakespeare, consists of 154 sonnets, all written in the form of three quatrains and a couplet that is now recognized as Shakespearean. The sonnets fall into two groups: sonnets 1-126, addressed to a beloved friend, a handsome and noble young man, and sonnets 127-152, to a malignant but fascinating "Dark Lady," whom the poet loves in spite of himself. Nearly all of Shakespeare's sonnets examine the inevitable decay of time, and the immortalization of beauty and love in poetry. In his poems and plays, Shakespeare invented thousands of words, often combining or contorting Latin, French and native roots. His impressive expansion of the English language, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, includes such words as: arch-villain, birthplace, bloodsucking, courtship, dewdrop, downstairs, fanged, heartsore, hunchbacked, leapfrog, misquote, pageantry, radiance, schoolboy, stillborn, watchdog, and zany.
Shakespeare wrote more than 30 plays. These are usually divided into four categories: histories, comedies, tragedies, and romances. His earliest plays were primarily comedies and histories such as Henry VI and The Comedy of Errors, but in 1596, Shakespeare wrote Romeo and Juliet, his second tragedy, and over the next dozen years he would return to the form, writing the plays for which he is now best known: Julius Caesar, Hamlet, Othello, King Lear, Macbeth, and Antony and Cleopatra. In his final years, Shakespeare turned to the romantic with Cymbeline, A Winter's Tale, and The Tempest. Only eighteen of Shakespeare's plays were published separately in quarto editions during his lifetime; a complete collection of his works did not appear until the publication of the First Folio in 1623, several years after his death. Nonetheless, his contemporaries recognized Shakespeare's achievements. Francis Meres cited "honeytongued" Shakespeare for his plays and poems in 1598, and the Chamberlain's Men rose to become the leading dramatic company in London, installed as members of the royal household in 1603. Sometime after 1612, Shakespeare retired from the stage and returned to his home in Stratford. He drew up his will in January of 1616, which included his famous bequest to his wife of his "second best bed." He died on April 23, 1616, and was buried two days later at Stratford Church.
All The Worldâ€™s A Stage All the world's a stage, And all the men and women merely players; They have their exits and their entrances, And one man in his time plays many parts, His acts being seven ages. At first, the infant, Mewling and puking in the nurse's arms. Then the whining schoolboy, with his satchel And shining morning face, creeping like snail Unwillingly to school. And then the lover, Sighing like furnace, with a woeful ballad Made to his mistress' eyebrow. Then a soldier, Full of strange oaths and bearded like the pard, Jealous in honor, sudden and quick in quarrel, Seeking the bubble reputation Even in the cannon's mouth. And then the justice, In fair round belly with good capon lined, With eyes severe and beard of formal cut, Full of wise saws and modern instances; And so he plays his part. The sixth age shifts Into the lean and slippered pantaloon, With spectacles on nose and pouch on side; His youthful hose, well saved, a world too wide For his shrunk shank, and his big manly voice, Turning again toward childish treble, pipes And whistles in his sound. Last scene of all, That ends this strange eventful history, Is second childishness and mere oblivion, Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.
A FAIRY SONG Over hill, over dale, Thorough bush, thorough brier, Over park, over pale, Thorough flood, thorough fire! I do wander everywhere, Swifter than the moon's sphere; And I serve the Fairy Queen, To dew her orbs upon the green; The cowslips tall her pensioners be; In their gold coats spots you see; Those be rubies, fairy favours; In those freckles live their savours; I must go seek some dewdrops here, And hang a pearl in every cowslip's ear.
A Loverâ€™s Complaint
FROM off a hill whose concave womb reworded A plaintful story from a sistering vale, My spirits to attend this double voice accorded, And down I laid to list the sad-tuned tale; Ere long espied a fickle maid full pale, Tearing of papers, breaking rings a-twain, Storming her world with sorrow's wind and rain. Upon her head a platted hive of straw, 119
Which fortified her visage from the sun, Whereon the thought might think sometime it saw The carcass of beauty spent and done: Time had not scythed all that youth begun, Nor youth all quit; but, spite of heaven's fell rage, Some beauty peep'd through lattice of sear'd age. Oft did she heave her napkin to her eyne, Which on it had conceited characters, Laundering the silken figures in the brine That season'd woe had pelleted in tears, And often reading what contents it bears; As often shrieking undistinguish'd woe, In clamours of all size, both high and low. Sometimes her levell'd eyes their carriage ride, As they did battery to the spheres intend; Sometime diverted their poor balls are tied To the orbed earth; sometimes they do extend Their view right on; anon their gazes lend To every place at once, and, nowhere fix'd, The mind and sight distractedly commix'd. Her hair, nor loose nor tied in formal plat, Proclaim'd in her a careless hand of pride For some, untuck'd, descended her sheaved hat, Hanging her pale and pined cheek beside; Some in her threaden fillet still did bide, And true to bondage would not break from thence, Though slackly braided in loose negligence. A thousand favours from a maund she drew Of amber, crystal, and of beaded jet, 120
Which one by one she in a river threw, Upon whose weeping margent she was set; Like usury, applying wet to wet, Or monarch's hands that let not bounty fall Where want cries some, but where excess begs all. Of folded schedules had she many a one, Which she perused, sigh'd, tore, and gave the flood; Crack'd many a ring of posied gold and bone Bidding them find their sepulchres in mud; Found yet moe letters sadly penn'd in blood, With sleided silk feat and affectedly Enswathed, and seal'd to curious secrecy. These often bathed she in her fluxive eyes, And often kiss'd, and often 'gan to tear: Cried 'O false blood, thou register of lies, What unapproved witness dost thou bear! Ink would have seem'd more black and damned here!' This said, in top of rage the lines she rents, Big discontent so breaking their contents. A reverend man that grazed his cattle nigh-Sometime a blusterer, that the ruffle knew Of court, of city, and had let go by The swiftest hours, observed as they flew-Towards this afflicted fancy fastly drew, And, privileged by age, desires to know In brief the grounds and motives of her woe. So slides he down upon his grained bat, And comely-distant sits he by her side; When he again desires her, being sat, 121
Her grievance with his hearing to divide: If that from him there may be aught applied Which may her suffering ecstasy assuage, 'Tis promised in the charity of age. 'Father,' she says, 'though in me you behold The injury of many a blasting hour, Let it not tell your judgment I am old; Not age, but sorrow, over me hath power: I might as yet have been a spreading flower, Fresh to myself, If I had self-applied Love to myself and to no love beside. 'But, woe is me! too early I attended A youthful suit--it was to gain my grace-Of one by nature's outwards so commended, That maidens' eyes stuck over all his face: Love lack'd a dwelling, and made him her place; And when in his fair parts she did abide, She was new lodged and newly deified. 'His browny locks did hang in crooked curls; And every light occasion of the wind Upon his lips their silken parcels hurls. What's sweet to do, to do will aptly find: Each eye that saw him did enchant the mind, For on his visage was in little drawn What largeness thinks in Paradise was sawn. 'Small show of man was yet upon his chin; His phoenix down began but to appear Like unshorn velvet on that termless skin Whose bare out-bragg'd the web it seem'd to wear: Yet show'd his visage by that cost more dear; 122
And nice affections wavering stood in doubt If best were as it was, or best without. 'His qualities were beauteous as his form, For maiden-tongued he was, and thereof free; Yet, if men moved him, was he such a storm As oft 'twixt May and April is to see, When winds breathe sweet, untidy though they be. His rudeness so with his authorized youth Did livery falseness in a pride of truth. 'Well could he ride, and often men would say 'That horse his mettle from his rider takes: Proud of subjection, noble by the sway, What rounds, what bounds, what course, what stop he makes!' And controversy hence a question takes, Whether the horse by him became his deed, Or he his manage by the well-doing steed. 'But quickly on this side the verdict went: His real habitude gave life and grace To appertainings and to ornament, Accomplish'd in himself, not in his case: All aids, themselves made fairer by their place, Came for additions; yet their purposed trim Pieced not his grace, but were all graced by him. 'So on the tip of his subduing tongue All kinds of arguments and question deep, All replication prompt, and reason strong, For his advantage still did wake and sleep: To make the weeper laugh, the laugher weep, 123
He had the dialect and different skill, Catching all passions in his craft of will: 'That he did in the general bosom reign Of young, of old; and sexes both enchanted, To dwell with him in thoughts, or to remain In personal duty, following where he haunted: Consents bewitch'd, ere he desire, have granted; And dialogued for him what he would say, Ask'd their own wills, and made their wills obey. 'Many there were that did his picture get, To serve their eyes, and in it put their mind; Like fools that in th' imagination set The goodly objects which abroad they find Of lands and mansions, theirs in thought assign'd; And labouring in moe pleasures to bestow them Than the true gouty landlord which doth owe them: 'So many have, that never touch'd his hand, Sweetly supposed them mistress of his heart. My woeful self, that did in freedom stand, And was my own fee-simple, not in part, What with his art in youth, and youth in art, Threw my affections in his charmed power, Reserved the stalk and gave him all my flower. 'Yet did I not, as some my equals did, Demand of him, nor being desired yielded; Finding myself in honour so forbid, With safest distance I mine honour shielded: Experience for me many bulwarks builded Of proofs new-bleeding, which remain'd the foil 124
Of this false jewel, and his amorous spoil. 'But, ah, who ever shunn'd by precedent The destined ill she must herself assay? Or forced examples, 'gainst her own content, To put the by-past perils in her way? Counsel may stop awhile what will not stay; For when we rage, advice is often seen By blunting us to make our wits more keen. 'Nor gives it satisfaction to our blood, That we must curb it upon others' proof; To be forbod the sweets that seem so good, For fear of harms that preach in our behoof. O appetite, from judgment stand aloof! The one a palate hath that needs will taste, Though Reason weep, and cry, 'It is thy last.' 'For further I could say 'This man's untrue,' And knew the patterns of his foul beguiling; Heard where his plants in others' orchards grew, Saw how deceits were gilded in his smiling; Knew vows were ever brokers to defiling; Thought characters and words merely but art, And bastards of his foul adulterate heart. 'And long upon these terms I held my city, Till thus he gan besiege me: 'Gentle maid, Have of my suffering youth some feeling pity, And be not of my holy vows afraid: That's to ye sworn to none was ever said; For feasts of love I have been call'd unto, Till now did ne'er invite, nor never woo. 125
''All my offences that abroad you see Are errors of the blood, none of the mind; Love made them not: with acture they may be, Where neither party is nor true nor kind: They sought their shame that so their shame did find; And so much less of shame in me remains, By how much of me their reproach contains. ''Among the many that mine eyes have seen, Not one whose flame my heart so much as warm'd, Or my affection put to the smallest teen, Or any of my leisures ever charm'd: Harm have I done to them, but ne'er was harm'd; Kept hearts in liveries, but mine own was free, And reign'd, commanding in his monarchy. ''Look here, what tributes wounded fancies sent me, Of paled pearls and rubies red as blood; Figuring that they their passions likewise lent me Of grief and blushes, aptly understood In bloodless white and the encrimson'd mood; Effects of terror and dear modesty, Encamp'd in hearts, but fighting outwardly. ''And, lo, behold these talents of their hair, With twisted metal amorously impleach'd, I have received from many a several fair, Their kind acceptance weepingly beseech'd, With the annexions of fair gems enrich'd, And deep-brain'd sonnets that did amplify Each stone's dear nature, worth, and quality. ''The diamond,--why, 'twas beautiful and hard, 126
Whereto his invised properties did tend; The deep-green emerald, in whose fresh regard Weak sights their sickly radiance do amend; The heaven-hued sapphire and the opal blend With objects manifold: each several stone, With wit well blazon'd, smiled or made some moan. ''Lo, all these trophies of affections hot, Of pensived and subdued desires the tender, Nature hath charged me that I hoard them not, But yield them up where I myself must render, That is, to you, my origin and ender; For these, of force, must your oblations be, Since I their altar, you enpatron me. ''O, then, advance of yours that phraseless hand, Whose white weighs down the airy scale of praise; Take all these similes to your own command, Hallow'd with sighs that burning lungs did raise; What me your minister, for you obeys, Works under you; and to your audit comes Their distract parcels in combined sums. ''Lo, this device was sent me from a nun, Or sister sanctified, of holiest note; Which late her noble suit in court did shun, Whose rarest havings made the blossoms dote; For she was sought by spirits of richest coat, But kept cold distance, and did thence remove, To spend her living in eternal love. ''But, O my sweet, what labour is't to leave The thing we have not, mastering what not strives, 127
Playing the place which did no form receive, Playing patient sports in unconstrained gyves? She that her fame so to herself contrives, The scars of battle 'scapeth by the flight, And makes her absence valiant, not her might. ''O, pardon me, in that my boast is true: The accident which brought me to her eye Upon the moment did her force subdue, And now she would the caged cloister fly: Religious love put out Religion's eye: Not to be tempted, would she be immured, And now, to tempt, all liberty procured. ''How mighty then you are, O, hear me tell! The broken bosoms that to me belong Have emptied all their fountains in my well, And mine I pour your ocean all among: I strong o'er them, and you o'er me being strong, Must for your victory us all congest, As compound love to physic your cold breast. ''My parts had power to charm a sacred nun, Who, disciplined, ay, dieted in grace, Believed her eyes when they to assail begun, All vows and consecrations giving place: O most potential love! vow, bond, nor space, In thee hath neither sting, knot, nor confine, For thou art all, and all things else are thine. ''When thou impressest, what are precepts worth Of stale example? When thou wilt inflame, How coldly those impediments stand forth 128
Of wealth, of filial fear, law, kindred, fame! Love's arms are peace, 'gainst rule, 'gainst sense, 'gainst shame, And sweetens, in the suffering pangs it bears, The aloes of all forces, shocks, and fears. ''Now all these hearts that do on mine depend, Feeling it break, with bleeding groans they pine; And supplicant their sighs to you extend, To leave the battery that you make 'gainst mine, Lending soft audience to my sweet design, And credent soul to that strong-bonded oath That shall prefer and undertake my troth.' 'This said, his watery eyes he did dismount, Whose sights till then were levell'd on my face; Each cheek a river running from a fount With brinish current downward flow'd apace: O, how the channel to the stream gave grace! Who glazed with crystal gate the glowing roses That flame through water which their hue encloses. 'O father, what a hell of witchcraft lies In the small orb of one particular tear! But with the inundation of the eyes What rocky heart to water will not wear? What breast so cold that is not warmed here? O cleft effect! cold modesty, hot wrath, Both fire from hence and chill extincture hath. 'For, lo, his passion, but an art of craft, Even there resolved my reason into tears; There my white stole of chastity I daff'd, 129
Shook off my sober guards and civil fears; Appear to him, as he to me appears, All melting; though our drops this difference bore, His poison'd me, and mine did him restore. 'In him a plenitude of subtle matter, Applied to cautels, all strange forms receives, Of burning blushes, or of weeping water, Or swooning paleness; and he takes and leaves, In either's aptness, as it best deceives, To blush at speeches rank to weep at woes, Or to turn white and swoon at tragic shows. 'That not a heart which in his level came Could 'scape the hail of his all-hurting aim, Showing fair nature is both kind and tame; And, veil'd in them, did win whom he would maim: Against the thing he sought he would exclaim; When he most burn'd in heart-wish'd luxury, He preach'd pure maid, and praised cold chastity. 'Thus merely with the garment of a Grace The naked and concealed fiend he cover'd; That th' unexperient gave the tempter place, Which like a cherubin above them hover'd. Who, young and simple, would not be so lover'd? Ay me! I fell; and yet do question make What I should do again for such a sake. 'O, that infected moisture of his eye, O, that false fire which in his cheek so glow'd, O, that forced thunder from his heart did fly, O, that sad breath his spongy lungs bestow'd, 130
O, all that borrow'd motion seeming owed, Would yet again betray the fore-betray'd, And new pervert a reconciled maid!'
Aubade HARK! hark! the lark at heaven's gate sings, And Phoebus 'gins arise, His steeds to water at those springs On chaliced flowers that lies; And winking Mary-buds begin To ope their golden eyes: With everything that pretty bin, My lady sweet, arise! Arise, arise!
Blow, Blow, Thou Winter Wind
Blow, blow, thou winter wind Thou art not so unkind As man's ingratitude; Thy tooth is not so keen, Because thou art not seen, 131
Although thy breath be rude. Heigh-ho! sing, heigh-ho! unto the green holly: Most freindship if feigning, most loving mere folly: Then heigh-ho, the holly! This life is most jolly. Freeze, freeze thou bitter sky, That does not bite so nigh As benefits forgot: Though thou the waters warp, Thy sting is not so sharp As a friend remembered not. Heigh-ho! sing, heigh-ho! unto the green holly: Most freindship if feigning, most loving mere folly: Then heigh-ho, the holly! This life is most jolly.
Bridal Song ROSES, their sharp spines being gone, Not royal in their smells alone, But in their hue; Maiden pinks, of odour faint, Daisies smell-less, yet most quaint, And sweet thyme true; Primrose, firstborn child of Ver; Merry springtime's harbinger, 132
With her bells dim; Oxlips in their cradles growing, Marigolds on death-beds blowing, Larks'-heels trim; All dear Nature's children sweet Lie 'fore bride and bridegroom's feet, Blessing their sense! Not an angel of the air, Bird melodious or bird fair, Be absent hence! The crow, the slanderous cuckoo, nor The boding raven, nor chough hoar, Nor chattering pye, May on our bride-house perch or sing, Or with them any discord bring, But from it fly!
Carpe Diem O mistress mine, where are you roaming? O stay and hear! your true-love's coming That can sing both high and low; Trip no further, pretty sweeting, Journey's end in lovers' meeting-Every wise man's son doth know. What is love? 'tis not hereafter; Present mirth hath present laughter; What's to come is still unsure: 133
In delay there lies no plenty,-Then come kiss me, Sweet and twenty, Youth's a stuff will not endure.
Dirge COME away, come away, death, And in sad cypres let me be laid; Fly away, fly away, breath; I am slain by a fair cruel maid. My shroud of white, stuck all with yew, O prepare it! My part of death, no one so true Did share it. Not a flower, not a flower sweet, On my black coffin let there be strown; Not a friend, not a friend greet My poor corse, where my bones shall be thrown:
Dirge Of The Three Queens URNS and odours bring away! Vapours, sighs, darken the day! Our dole more deadly looks than dying; Balms and gums and heavy cheers, Sacred vials fill'd with tears, And clamours through the wild air flying! Come, all sad and solemn shows, That are quick-eyed Pleasure's foes! We convent naught else but woes.
Fear No More Fear no more the heat o' the sun; Nor the furious winter's rages, Thou thy worldly task hast done, Home art gone, and ta'en thy wages; Golden lads and girls all must, As chimney sweepers come to dust. Fear no more the frown of the great, Thou art past the tyrant's stroke: Care no more to clothe and eat; To thee the reed is as the oak: The sceptre, learning, physic, must All follow this, and come to dust. 135
Fear no more the lightning-flash, Nor the all-dread thunder-stone; Fear not slander, censure rash; Thou hast finished joy and moan; All lovers young, all lovers must Consign to thee, and come to dust. No exorciser harm thee! Nor no witchcraft charm thee! Ghost unlaid forbear thee! Nothing ill come near thee! Quiet consummation have; And renowned be thy grave!
Fidele FEAR no more the heat o' the sun, Nor the furious winter's rages; Thou thy worldly task hast done, Home art gone, and ta'en thy wages: Golden lads and girls all must, As chimney-sweepers, come to dust. Fear no more the frown o' the great, Thou art past the tyrant's stroke; Care no more to clothe and eat; To thee the reed is as the oak: The sceptre, learning, physic, must 136
All follow this, and come to dust. Fear no more the lightning-flash, Nor the all-dreaded thunder-stone; Fear not slander, censure rash; Thou hast finish'd joy and moan: All lovers young, all lovers must Consign to thee, and come to dust. No exorciser harm thee! Nor no witchcraft charm thee! Ghost unlaid forbear thee! Nothing ill come near thee! Quiet consummation have; And renowned be thy grave!
From Venus And Adonis But, lo! from forth a copse that neighbours by, A breeding jennet, lusty, young, and proud, Adonis' trampling courser doth espy, And forth she rushes, snorts and neighs aloud; The strong-neck'd steed, being tied unto a tree, Breaketh his rein, and to her straight goes he. Imperiously he leaps, he neighs, he bounds, And now his woven girths he breaks asunder; The bearing earth with his hard hoof he wounds, Whose hollow womb resounds like heaven's thunder; 137
The iron bit he crushes 'tween his teeth Controlling what he was controlled with. His ears up-prick'd; his braided hanging mane Upon his compass'd crest now stand on end; His nostrils drink the air, and forth again, As from a furnace, vapours doth he send: His eye, which scornfully glisters like fire, Shows his hot courage and his high desire. Sometime her trots, as if he told the steps, With gentle majesty and modest pride; Anon he rears upright, curvets and leaps, As who should say, 'Lo! thus my strength is tried; And this I do to captivate the eye Of the fair breeder that is standing by.' What recketh he his rider's angry stir, His flattering 'Holla,' or his 'Stand, I say?' What cares he now for curb of pricking spur? For rich caparisons or trapping gay? He sees his love, and nothing else he sees, Nor nothing else with his proud sight agrees. Look, when a painter would surpass the life, In limning out a well-proportion'd steed, His art with nature's workmanship at strife, As if the dead the living should exceed; So did this horse excel a common one, In shape, in courage, colour, pace and bone Round-hoof'd, short-jointed, fetlocks shag and long, Broad breast, full eye, small head, and nostril wide, High crest, short ears, straight legs and passing strong, 138
Thin mane, thick tail, broad buttock, tender hide: Look, what a horse should have he did not lack, Save a proud rider on so proud a back. Sometimes he scuds far off, and there he stares; Anon he starts at stirring of a feather; To bid the wind a race he now prepares, And whe'r he run or fly they know not whether; For through his mane and tail the high wind sings, Fanning the hairs, who wave like feather'd wings. He looks upon his love, and neighs unto her; She answers him as if she knew his mind; Being proud, as females are, to see him woo her, She puts on outward strangeness, seems unkind, Spurns at his love and scorns the heat he feels, Beating his kind embracements with her heels. Then, like a melancholy malcontent, He vails his tail that, like a falling plume Cool shadow to his melting buttock lent: He stamps, and bites the poor flies in his fume. His love, perceiving how he is enrag'd, Grew kinder, and his fury was assuag'd. His testy master goeth about to take him; When lo! the unback'd breeder, full of fear, Jealous of catching, swiftly doth forsake him, With her the horse, and left Adonis there. As they were mad, unto the wood they hie them, Out-stripping crows that strive to over-fly them. I prophesy they death, my living sorrow, 139
If thou encounter with the boar to-morrow. "But if thou needs wilt hunt, be rul'd by me; Uncouple at the timorous flying hare, Or at the fox which lives by subtlety, Or at the roe which no encounter dare: Pursue these fearful creatures o'er the downs, And on they well-breath'd horse keep with they hounds. "And when thou hast on food the purblind hare, Mark the poor wretch, to overshoot his troubles How he outruns with winds, and with what care He cranks and crosses with a thousand doubles: The many musits through the which he goes Are like a labyrinth to amaze his foes. "Sometime he runs among a flock of sheep, To make the cunning hounds mistake their smell, And sometime where earth-delving conies keep, To stop the loud pursuers in their yell, And sometime sorteth with a herd of deer; Danger deviseth shifts; wit waits on fear: "For there his smell with other being mingled, The hot scent-snuffing hounds are driven to doubt, Ceasing their clamorous cry till they have singled With much ado the cold fault cleanly out; Then do they spend their mouths: Echo replies, As if another chase were in the skies. "By this, poor Wat, far off upon a hill, Stands on his hinder legs with listening ear, To hearken if his foes pursue him still: 140
Anon their loud alarums he doth hear; And now his grief may be compared well To one sore sick that hears the passing-bell. "Then shalt thou see the dew-bedabbled wretch Turn, and return, indenting with the way; Each envious briar his weary legs doth scratch, Each shadow makes him stop, each murmur stay: For misery is trodden on by many, And being low never reliev'd by any. "Lie quietly, and hear a little more; Nay, do not struggle, for thou shalt not rise: To make thee hate the hunting of the boar, Unlike myself thou hear'st me moralize, Applying this to that, and so to so; For love can comment upon every woe."
From You Have I Been Absent From The Spring... (SONNET 98) From you have I been absent in the spring, When proud-pied April, dressed in all his trim, Hath put a spirit of youth in everything, That heavy Saturn laughed and leaped with him, Yet nor the lays of birds, nor the sweet smell Of different flowers in odor and in hue, Could make me any summer's story tell, Or from their proud lap pluck them where they grew. Nor did I wonder at the lily's white, Nor praise the deep vermilion in the rose; 141
They were but sweet, but figures of delight, Drawn after you, you pattern of all those. Yet seemed it winter still, and, you away, As with your shadow I with these did play.
ROBERT FROST (1874-1963) obert Frost was born in San Francisco in 1874. He moved to New England at the age of eleven and became interested in reading and writing poetry during his high school years in Lawrence, Massachusetts. He was enrolled at Dartmouth College in 1892, and later at Harvard, though he never earned a formal degree. Frost drifted through a string of occupations after leaving school, working as a teacher, cobbler, and editor of the Lawrence Sentinel. His first professional poem, "My Butterfly," was published on November 8, 1894, in the New York newspaper The Independent. In 1895, Frost married Elinor Miriam White, who became a major inspiration in his poetry until her death in 1938. The couple moved to England in 1912, after their New Hampshire farm failed, and it was abroad that Frost met and was influenced by such contemporary British poets as Edware Thomas, and Rupert Brooke Graves. While in England, Frost also established a friendship with the poet Erza Pound who helped to promote and publish his work.
By the time Frost returned to the United States in 1915, he had published two full-length collections, A Boy's Will and North of Boston, and his reputation was established. By the nineteen-twenties, he was the most celebrated poet in America, and with each new bookâ€” including New Hampshire (1923), A Further Range (1936), Steeple Bush (1947), and In the Clearing (1962)â€”his fame and honors (including four Pulitzer Prizes) increased. 143
Though his work is principally associated with the life and landscape of New England, and though he was a poet of traditional verse forms and metrics who remained steadfastly aloof from the poetic movements and fashions of his time, Frost is anything but a merely regional or minor poet. The author of searching and often dark meditations on universal themes, he is a quintessentially modern poet in his adherence to language as it is actually spoken, in the psychological complexity of his portraits, and in the degree to which his work is infused with layers of ambiguity and irony. In a 1970 review of The Poetry of Robert Frost, the poet Daniel Hoffman describes Frost's early work as "the Puritan ethic turned astonishingly lyrical and enabled to say out loud the sources of its own delight in the world," and comments on Frost's career as The American Bard: "He became a national celebrity, our nearly official Poet Laureate, and a great performer in the tradition of that earlier master of the literary vernacular, Mark Twain." About Frost, President John F. Kennedy said, "He has bequeathed his nation a body of imperishable verse from which Americans will forever gain joy and understanding." Robert Frost lived and taught for many years in Massachusetts and Vermont, and died in Boston on January 29, 1963.
A Boundless Moment
He halted in the wind, and -- what was that Far in the maples, pale, but not a ghost? He stood there bringing March against his thought, And yet too ready to believe the most. "Oh, that's the Paradise-in-bloom," I said; And truly it was fair enough for flowers had we but in us to assume in march Such white luxuriance of May for ours. We stood a moment so in a strange world, Myself as one his own pretense deceives; And then I said the truth (and we moved on). A young beech clinging to its last yearâ€™s leaves.
A Brook In The City The farmhouse lingers, though averse to square With the new city street it has to wear A number in. But what about the brook That held the house as in an elbow-crook? I ask as one who knew the brook, its strength And impulse, having dipped a finger length And made it leap my knuckle, having tossed A flower to try its currents where they crossed. The meadow grass could be cemented down 145
From growing under pavements of a town; The apple trees be sent to hearth-stone flame. Is water wood to serve a brook the same? How else dispose of an immortal force No longer needed? Staunch it at its source With cinder loads dumped down? The brook was thrown Deep in a sewer dungeon under stone In fetid darkness still to live and run -And all for nothing it had ever done Except forget to go in fear perhaps. No one would know except for ancient maps That such a brook ran water. But I wonder If from its being kept forever under, The thoughts may not have risen that so keep This new-built city from both work and sleep.
A Cliff Dwelling There sandy seems the golden sky And golden seems the sandy plain. No habitation meets the eye Unless in the horizon rim, Some halfway up the limestone wall, That spot of black is not a stain Or shadow, but a cavern hole, Where someone used to climb and crawl To rest from his besetting fears. I see the callus on his soul 146
The disappearing last of him And of his race starvation slim, Oh years ago - ten thousand years.
A Considerable Speck (Microscopic) A speck that would have been beneath my sight On any but a paper sheet so white Set off across what I had written there. And I had idly poised my pen in air To stop it with a period of ink When something strange about it made me think, This was no dust speck by my breathing blown, But unmistakably a living mite With inclinations it could call its own. It paused as with suspicion of my pen, And then came racing wildly on again To where my manuscript was not yet dry; Then paused again and either drank or smelt-With loathing, for again it turned to fly. Plainly with an intelligence I dealt. It seemed too tiny to have room for feet, Yet must have had a set of them complete To express how much it didn't want to die. It ran with terror and with cunning crept. It faltered: I could see it hesitate; Then in the middle of the open sheet 147
Cower down in desperation to accept Whatever I accorded it of fate. I have none of the tenderer-than-thou Collectivistic regimenting love With which the modern world is being swept. But this poor microscopic item now! Since it was nothing I knew evil of I let it lie there till I hope it slept. I have a mind myself and recognize Mind when I meet with it in any guise No one can know how glad I am to find On any sheet the least display of mind.
A Dream Pang I had withdrawn in forest, and my song Was swallowed up in leaves that blew alway; And to the forest edge you came one day (This was my dream) and looked and pondered long, But did not enter, though the wish was strong: You shook your pensive head as who should say, ‘I dare not—too far in his footsteps stray— He must seek me would he undo the wrong. Not far, but near, I stood and saw it all Behind low boughs the trees let down outside; And the sweet pang it cost me not to call And tell you that I saw does still abide. But ’tis not true that thus I dwelt aloof, For the wood wakes, and you are here for proof.
A Late Walk When I go up through the mowing field, The headless aftermath, Smooth-laid like thatch with the heavy dew, Half closes the garden path. And when I come to the garden ground, The whir of sober birds Up from the tangle of withered weeds Is sadder than any words A tree beside the wall stands bare, But a leaf that lingered brown, Disturbed, I doubt not, by my thought, Comes softly rattling down. I end not far from my going forth By picking the faded blue Of the last remaining aster flower To carry again to you.
A Line-Storm Song The line-storm clouds fly tattered and swift, The road is forlorn all day, Where a myriad snowy quartz stones lift, And the hoof-prints vanish away. The roadside flowers, too wet for the bee, Expend their bloom in vain. Come over the hills and far with me, And be my love in the rain. The birds have less to say for themselves In the wood-worldâ€™s torn despair Than now these numberless years the elves, Although they are no less there: All song of the woods is crushed like some Wild, easily shattered rose. Come, be my love in the wet woods; come, Where the boughs rain when it blows. There is the gale to urge behind And bruit our singing down, And the shallow waters aflutter with wind From which to gather your gown. What matter if we go clear to the west, And come not through dry-shod? For wilding brooch shall wet your breast The rain-fresh goldenrod. Oh, never this whelming east wind swells But it seems like the seaâ€™s return To the ancient lands where it left the shells 151
Before the age of the fern; And it seems like the time when after doubt Our love came back amain. Oh, come forth into the storm and rout And be my love in the rain.
A Minor Bird
I have wished a bird would fly away, And not sing by my house all day; Have clapped my hands at him from the door When it seemed as if I could bear no more. The fault must partly have been in me. The bird was not to blame for his key. And of course there must be something wrong In wanting to silence any song.
A Patch Of Old Snow 152
There's a patch of old snow in a corner That I should have guessed Was a blow-away paper the rain Had brought to rest. It is speckled with grime as if Small print overspread it, The news of a day I've forgotten -If I ever read it.
A Prayer In Spring Oh, give us pleasure in the flowers to-day; And give us not to think so far away As the uncertain harvest; keep us here All simply in the springing of the year. Oh, give us pleasure in the orchard white, Like nothing else by day, like ghosts by night; And make us happy in the happy bees, The swarm dilating round the perfect trees. And make us happy in the darting bird That suddenly above the bees is heard, The meteor that thrusts in with needle bill, And off a blossom in mid air stands still. For this is love and nothing else is love, 153
The which it is reserved for God above To sanctify to what far ends He will, But which it only needs that we fulfill.
A voice said, Look me in the stars And tell me truly, men of earth, If all the soul-and-body scars Were not too much to pay for birth.
A Servant To Servants I didn't make you know how glad I was To have you come and camp here on our land. I promised myself to get down some day And see the way you lived, but I don't know! With a houseful of hungry men to feed I guess you'd find.... It seems to me I can't express my feelings any more Than I can raise my voice or want to lift My hand (oh, I can lift it when I have to). Did ever you feel so? I hope you never. It's got so I don't even know for sure Whether I am glad, sorry, or anything. There's nothing but a voice-like left inside That seems to tell me how I ought to feel, And would feel if I wasn't all gone wrong. You take the lake. I look and look at it. I see it's a fair, pretty sheet of water. I stand and make myself repeat out loud The advantages it has, so long and narrow, Like a deep piece of some old running river Cut short off at both ends. It lies five miles Straight away through the mountain notch From the sink window where I wash the plates, And all our storms come up toward the house, Drawing the slow waves whiter and whiter and whiter. It took my mind off doughnuts and soda biscuit To step outdoors and take the water dazzle A sunny morning, or take the rising wind About my face and body and through my wrapper, When a storm threatened from the Dragon's Den, 155
And a cold chill shivered across the lake. I see it's a fair, pretty sheet of water, Our Willoughby! How did you hear of it? I expect, though, everyone's heard of it. In a book about ferns? Listen to that! You let things more like feathers regulate Your going and coming. And you like it here? I can see how you might. But I don't know! It would be different if more people came, For then there would be business. As it is, The cottages Len built, sometimes we rent them, Sometimes we don't. We've a good piece of shore That ought to be worth something, and may yet. But I don't count on it as much as Len. He looks on the bright side of everything, Including me. He thinks I'll be all right With doctoring. But it's not medicine-Lowe is the only doctor's dared to say so-It's rest I want--there, I have said it out-From cooking meals for hungry hired men And washing dishes after them--from doing Things over and over that just won't stay done. By good rights I ought not to have so much Put on me, but there seems no other way. Len says one steady pull more ought to do it. He says the best way out is always through. And I agree to that, or in so far As that I can see no way out but through-Leastways for me--and then they'll be convinced. It's not that Len don't want the best for me. It was his plan our moving over in Beside the lake from where that day I showed you We used to live--ten miles from anywhere. 156
We didn't change without some sacrifice, But Len went at it to make up the loss. His work's a man's, of course, from sun to sun, But he works when he works as hard as I do-Though there's small profit in comparisons. (Women and men will make them all the same.) But work ain't all. Len undertakes too much. He's into everything in town. This year It's highways, and he's got too many men Around him to look after that make waste. They take advantage of him shamefully, And proud, too, of themselves for doing so. We have four here to board, great good-for-nothings, Sprawling about the kitchen with their talk While I fry their bacon. Much they care! No more put out in what they do or say Than if I wasn't in the room at all. Coming and going all the time, they are: I don't learn what their names are, let alone Their characters, or whether they are safe To have inside the house with doors unlocked. I'm not afraid of them, though, if they're not Afraid of me. There's two can play at that. I have my fancies: it runs in the family. My father's brother wasn't right. They kept him Locked up for years back there at the old farm. I've been away once--yes, I've been away. The State Asylum. I was prejudiced; I wouldn't have sent anyone of mine there; You know the old idea--the only asylum Was the poorhouse, and those who could afford, Rather than send their folks to such a place, Kept them at home; and it does seem more human. 157
But it's not so: the place is the asylum. There they have every means proper to do with, And you aren't darkening other people's lives-Worse than no good to them, and they no good To you in your condition; you can't know Affection or the want of it in that state. I've heard too much of the old-fashioned way. My father's brother, he went mad quite young. Some thought he had been bitten by a dog, Because his violence took on the form Of carrying his pillow in his teeth; But it's more likely he was crossed in love, Or so the story goes. It was some girl. Anyway all he talked about was love. They soon saw he would do someone a mischief If he wa'n't kept strict watch of, and it ended In father's building him a sort of cage, Or room within a room, of hickory poles, Like stanchions in the barn, from floor to ceiling,-A narrow passage all the way around. Anything they put in for furniture He'd tear to pieces, even a bed to lie on. So they made the place comfortable with straw, Like a beast's stall, to ease their consciences. Of course they had to feed him without dishes. They tried to keep him clothed, but he paraded With his clothes on his arm--all of his clothes. Cruel--it sounds. I 'spose they did the best They knew. And just when he was at the height, Father and mother married, and mother came, A bride, to help take care of such a creature, And accommodate her young life to his. That was what marrying father meant to her. 158
She had to lie and hear love things made dreadful By his shouts in the night. He'd shout and shout Until the strength was shouted out of him, And his voice died down slowly from exhaustion. He'd pull his bars apart like bow and bow-string, And let them go and make them twang until His hands had worn them smooth as any ox-bow. And then he'd crow as if he thought that child's play-The only fun he had. I've heard them say, though, They found a way to put a stop to it. He was before my time--I never saw him; But the pen stayed exactly as it was There in the upper chamber in the ell, A sort of catch-all full of attic clutter. I often think of the smooth hickory bars. It got so I would say--you know, half fooling-"It's time I took my turn upstairs in jail"-Just as you will till it becomes a habit. No wonder I was glad to get away. Mind you, I waited till Len said the word. I didn't want the blame if things went wrong. I was glad though, no end, when we moved out, And I looked to be happy, and I was, As I said, for a while--but I don't know! Somehow the change wore out like a prescription. And there's more to it than just window-views And living by a lake. I'm past such help-Unless Len took the notion, which he won't, And I won't ask him--it's not sure enough. I 'spose I've got to go the road I'm going: Other folks have to, and why shouldn't I? I almost think if I could do like you, Drop everything and live out on the ground-159
But it might be, come night, I shouldn't like it, Or a long rain. I should soon get enough, And be glad of a good roof overhead. I've lain awake thinking of you, I'll warrant, More than you have yourself, some of these nights. The wonder was the tents weren't snatched away From over you as you lay in your beds. I haven't courage for a risk like that. Bless you, of course, you're keeping me from work, But the thing of it is, I need to be kept. There's work enough to do--there's always that; But behind's behind. The worst that you can do Is set me back a little more behind. I sha'n't catch up in this world, anyway. I'd rather you'd not go unless you must.
Soldier He is that fallen lance that lies as hurled, That lies un lifted now, come dew, come rust, But still lies pointed as it plowed the dust. If we who sight along it round the world, See nothing worthy to have been its mark, It is because like men we look too near, Forgetting that as fitted to the sphere, Our missiles always make too short an arc. They fall, they rip the grass, they intersect The curve of earth, and striking, break their own; They make us cringe for metal-point on stone. But this we know, the obstacle that checked And tripped the body, shot the spirit on Further than target ever showed or shone.
A Time To Talk
When a friend calls to me from the road And slows his horse to a meaning walk, I don't stand still and look around On all the hills I haven't hoed, And shout from where I am, What is it? No, not as there is a time to talk. I thrust my hoe in the mellow ground, Blade-end up and five feet tall, 161
And plod: I go up to the stone wall For a friendly visit.
Acquainted With The Night I have been one acquainted with the night. I have walked out in rain -- and back in rain. I have out walked the furthest city light. I have looked down the saddest city lane. I have passed by the watchman on his beat And dropped my eyes, unwilling to explain. I have stood still and stopped the sound of feet When far away an interrupted cry Came over houses from another street, But not to call me back or say good-bye; And further still at an unearthly height, A luminary clock against the sky Proclaimed the time was neither wrong nor right. I have been one acquainted with the night.
After Apple Picking My long two-pointed ladder's sticking through a tree Toward heaven still. And there's a barrel that I didn't fill Beside it, and there may be two or three Apples I didn't pick upon some bough. But I am done with apple-picking now. Essence of winter sleep is on the night, The scent of apples; I am drowsing off. I cannot shake the shimmer from my sight I got from looking through a pane of glass I skimmed this morning from the water-trough, And held against the world of hoary grass. It melted, and I let it fall and break. But I was well Upon my way to sleep before it fell, And I could tell What form my dreaming was about to take. Magnified apples appear and reappear, Stem end and blossom end, And every fleck of russet showing clear. My instep arch not only keeps the ache, It keeps the pressure of a ladder-round. And I keep hearing from the cellar-bin That rumbling sound Of load on load of apples coming in. For I have had too much Of apple-picking; I am overtired Of the great harvest I myself desired. There were ten thousand thousand fruit to touch, Cherish in hand, lift down, and not let fall, 163
For all That struck the earth, No matter if not bruised, or spiked with stubble, Went surely to the cider-apple heap As of no worth. One can see what will trouble This sleep of mine, whatever sleep it is. Were he not gone, The woodchuck could say whether it's like his Long sleep, as I describe its coming on, Or just some human sleep.
An Old Manâ€™s Winter Night
All out of doors looked darkly in at him Through the thin frost, almost in separate stars, That gathers on the pane in empty rooms. What kept his eyes from giving back the gaze Was the lamp tilted near them in his hand. What kept him from remembering what it was That brought him to that creaking room was age. He stood with barrels round him -- at a loss. And having scared the cellar under him In clomping there, he scared it once again In clomping off; -- and scared the outer night, Which has its sounds, familiar, like the roar Of trees and crack of branches, common things, But nothing so like beating on a box. 164
A light he was to no one but himself Where now he sat, concerned with he knew what, A quiet light, and then not even that. He consigned to the moon, such as she was, So late-arising, to the broken moon As better than the sun in any case For such a charge, his snow upon the roof, His icicles along the wall to keep; And slept. The log that shifted with a jolt Once in the stove, disturbed him and he shifted, And eased his heavy breathing, but still slept. One aged man -- one man -- can't keep a house, A farm, a countryside, or if he can, It's thus he does it of a winter night.
Asking For Roses
A house that lacks, seemingly, mistress and master, With doors that none but the wind ever closes, Its floor all littered with glass and with plaster; It stands in a garden of old-fashioned roses. I pass by that way in the gloaming with Mary; 'I wonder,' I say, 'who the owner of those is.' 'Oh, no one you know,' she answers me airy, 'But one we must ask if we want any roses.' So we must join hands in the dew coming coldly 165
There in the hush of the wood that reposes, And turn and go up to the open door boldly, And knock to the echoes as beggars for roses. 'Pray, are you within there, Mistress Who-were-you?' 'Tis Mary that speaks and our errand discloses. 'Pray, are you within there? Bestir you, bestir you! 'Tis summer again; there's two come for roses. 'A word with you, that of the singer recalling-Old Herrick: a saying that every maid knows is A flower unplucked is but left to the falling, And nothing is gained by not gathering roses.' We do not loosen our hands' intertwining (Not caring so very much what she supposes), There when she comes on us mistily shining And grants us by silence the boon of her roses.
EMILY DICKINSON (1830-1886) mily Dickinson was born in Amherst, Massachusetts, in 1830. She attended Mount Holyoke Female Seminary in South Hadley, but severe homesickness led her to return home after one year. Throughout her life, she seldom left her house and visitors were scarce. The people with whom she did come in contact, however, had an enormous impact on her thoughts and poetry. She was particularly stirred by the Reverend Charles Wadsworth, whom she met on a trip to Philadelphia. He left for the West Coast shortly after a visit to her home in 1860, and some critics believe his departure gave rise to the heartsick flow of verse from Dickinson in the years that followed. While it is certain that he was an important figure in her life, it is not certain that this was in the capacity of romantic love—she called him "my closest earthly friend." Other possibilities for the unrequited love in Dickinson’s poems include Otis P. Lord, a Massachusetts Supreme Court Judge, and Samuel Bowles, editor of the Springfield Republican. By the 1860s, Dickinson lived in almost total physical isolation from the outside world, but actively maintained many correspondences and read widely. She spent a great deal of this time with her family. Her father, Edward Dickinson, was actively involved in state and national politics, serving in Congress for one term. Her brother Austin attended law school and became an attorney, but lived next door once he married Susan Gilbert (one of the speculated—albeit less persuasively—unrequited loves of Emily). Dickinson’s younger sister Lavinia also lived at home for her entire life in similar isolation. Lavinia and 167
Austin were not only family, but intellectual companions during Dickinsonâ€™s lifetime. Dickinson's poetry reflects her loneliness and the speakers of her poems generally live in a state of want, but her poems are also marked by the intimate recollection of inspirational moments which are decidedly life-giving and suggest the possibility of happiness. Her work was heavily influenced by the Metaphysical poets of seventeenthcentury England, as well as her reading of the Book of Revelation and her upbringing in a Puritan New England town which encouraged a Calvinist, orthodox, and conservative approach to Christianity. She admired the poetry of Robert and Elizabeth Barrett Browning, as well as John Keats. Though she was dissuaded from reading the verse of her contemporary Walt Whitman by rumor of its disgracefulness, the two poets are now connected by the distinguished place they hold as the founders of a uniquely American poetic voice. While Dickinson was extremely prolific as a poet and regularly enclosed poems in letters to friends, she was not publicly recognized during her lifetime. The first volume of her work was published posthumously in 1890 and the last in 1955. She died in Amherst in 1886. Upon her death, Dickinson's family discovered 40 hand bound. volumes of more than 800 of her poems, or "fascicles" as they are sometimes called. These booklets were made by folding and sewing five or six sheets of stationery paper and copying what seem to be final versions of poems in an order that many critics believe to be more than chronological. The handwritten poems show a variety of dash-like marks of various sizes and directions (some are even vertical). The poems were initially unbound and 168
published according to the aesthetics of her many early editors, removing her unusual and varied dashes and replacing them with traditional punctuation. The current standard version replaces her dashes with a standard "ndash," which is a closer typographical approximation of her writing. Furthermore, the original order of the works was not restored until 1981, when Ralph W. Franklin used the physical evidence of the paper itself to restore her order, relying on smudge marks, needle punctures and other clues to reassemble the packets. Since then, many critics have argued for thematic unity in these small collections, believing the ordering of the poems to be more than chronological or convenient. The Manuscript Books of Emily Dickinson.
“Archurus” Is His Other Name 70 "Arcturus" is his other name— I'd rather call him "Star." It's very mean of Science To go and interfere! I slew a worm the other day— A "Savant" passing by Murmured "Resurgam"—"Centipede"! "Oh Lord—how frail are we"! I pull a flower from the woods— 169
A monster with a glass Computes the stamens in a breath— And has her in a "class"! Whereas I took the Butterfly Aforetime in my hat— He sits erect in "Cabinets"— The Clover bells forgot. What once was "Heaven" Is "Zenith" now— Where I proposed to go When Time's brief masquerade was done Is mapped and charted too. What if the poles should frisk about And stand upon their heads! I hope I'm ready for "the worst"— Whatever prank betides! Perhaps the "Kingdom of Heaven's" changed— I hope the "Children" there Won't be "new fashioned" when I come— And laugh at me—and stare— I hope the Father in the skies Will lift his little girl— Old fashioned—naught—everything— Over the stile of "Pearl."
“Faith” Is A Fine Invention
"Faith" is a fine invention When Gentlemen can see— But Microscopes are prudent In an Emergency.
“Heaven”Has Different Signs To Me
"Heaven" has different Signs—to me— Sometimes, I think that Noon Is but a symbol of the Place— And when again, at Dawn, A mighty look runs round the World And settles in the Hills— An Awe if it should be like that Upon the Ignorance steals— The Orchard, when the Sun is on— The Triumph of the Birds When they together Victory make— Some Carnivals of Clouds— The Rapture of a finished Day— 171
Returning to the West— All these—remind us of the place That Men call "paradise"— Itself be fairer—we suppose— But how Our self, shall be Adorned, for a Superior Grace— Not yet, our eyes can see—
“Heaven”-Is What I Can Not Reach "Heaven"—is what I cannot reach! The Apple on the Tree— Provided it do hopeless—hang— That—"Heaven" is—to Me! The Color, on the Cruising Cloud— The interdicted Land— Behind the Hill—the House behind— There—Paradise—is found! Her teasing Purples—Afternoons— The credulous—decoy— Enamored—of the Conjuror— That spurned us—Yesterday!
“Hope” Is The Thing With Feathers
Hope" is the thing with feathers— That perches in the soul— And sings the tune without the words— And never stops—at all— And sweetest—in the Gale—is heard— And sore must be the storm— That could abash the little Bird That kept so many warm— I've heard it in the chillest land— And on the strangest Sea— Yet, never, in Extremity, It asked a crumb—of Me.
“Houses”-So The Wise Men Tell Me "Houses"—so the Wise Men tell me— "Mansions"! Mansions must be warm! Mansions cannot let the tears in, Mansions must exclude the storm! "Many Mansions," by "his Father," 173
I don't know him; snugly built! Could the Children find the way there— Some, would even trudge tonight!
“I Want”-It Pleaded-All It’s Life
"I want"—it pleaded—All its life— I want—was chief it said When Skill entreated it—the last— And when so newly dead— I could not deem it late—to hear That single—steadfast sigh— The lips had placed as with a "Please" Toward Eternity—
“Morning”-Means “Milking”-To The Farmer "Morning"—means "Milking"—to the Farmer— Dawn—to the Teneriffe— Dice—to the Maid— Morning means just Risk—to the Lover— Just revelation—to the Beloved— Epicures—date a Breakfast—by it— Brides—an Apocalypse— 174
Worlds—a Flood— Faint-going Lives—Their Lapse from Sighing— Faith—The Experiment of Our Lord
Because The Bee Blameless Hum
Because the Bee may blameless hum For Thee a Bee do I become List even unto Me. Because the Flowers unafraid May lift a look on thine, a Maid Alway a Flower would be. Nor Robins, Robins need not hide When Thou upon their Crypts intrude So Wings bestow on Me Or Petals, or a Dower of Buzz That Bee to ride, or Flower of Furze I that way worship Thee.
The sky is low, the clouds are mean, A traveling flake of snow Across a barn or through a rut Debates if it will go. A narrow wind complains all day How some one treated him; Nature, like us, is sometimes caught Without her diadem.
Bee! Iâ€™m Expecting You! The sky is low, the clouds are mean, A traveling flake of snow Across a barn or through a rut Debates if it will go. A narrow wind complains all day How some one treated him; 176
Nature, like us, is sometimes caught Without her diadem.
Before He Comes We Weight The Time! Before He comes we weigh the Time! 'Tis Heavy and 'tis Light. When He depart, an Emptiness Is the prevailing Freight.
Before I Got My Eye Put Out
Before I got my eye put out I liked as well to see— As other Creatures, that have Eyes And know no other way— But were it told to me—Today— That I might have the sky 177
For mine—I tell you that my Heart Would split, for size of me— The Meadows—mine— The Mountains—mine— All Forests—Stint less Stars— As much of Noon as I could take Between my finite eyes— The Motions of the Dipping Birds— The Morning's Amber Road— For mine—to look at when I liked— The News would strike me dead— So safer—guess—with just my soul Upon the Window pane— Where other Creatures put their eyes— Incautious—of the Sun—
Before The Ice Is In The Pools Before the ice is in the pools— Before the skaters go, Or any check at nightfall Is tarnished by the snow— Before the fields have finished, Before the Christmas tree, Wonder upon wonder 178
Will arrive to me! What we touch the hems of On a summer's day— What is only walking Just a bridge away— That which sings so—speaks so— When there's no one here— Will the frock I wept in Answer me to wear?
Before You Thought Of Spring
Before you thought of spring, Except as a surmise, You see, God bless his suddenness, A fellow in the skies Of independent hues, A little weather-worn, Inspiriting habiliments Of indigo and brown. With specimens of song, As if for you to choose, Discretion in the interval, With gay delays he goes To some superior tree 179
Without a single leaf, And shouts for joy to nobody But his seraphic self!
Behind Me–Dips Eternity Behind Me—dips Eternity— Before Me—Immortality— Myself—the Term between— Death but the Drift of Eastern Gray, Dissolving into Dawn away, Before the West begin— 'Tis Kingdoms—afterward—they say— In perfect—pauseless Monarchy— Whose Prince—is Son of None— Himself—His Dateless Dynasty— Himself—Himself diversify— In Duplicate divine— 'Tis Miracle before Me—then— 'Tis Miracle behind—between— A Crescent in the Sea— With Midnight to the North of Her— And Midnight to the South of Her— And Maelstrom—in the Sky—
EDGAR ALLEN POE (1809-1849) dgar Allan Poe was born in Boston, Massachusetts, on January 19, 1809. Poe's father and mother, both professional actors, died before the poet was three and John and Frances Allan raised him as a foster child in Richmond, Virginia. John Allan, a prosperous tobacco exporter, sent Poe to the best boarding schools and later to the University of Virginia, where Poe excelled academically. After less than one year of school, however, he was forced to leave the University when Allan refused to pay his gambling debts. Poe returned briefly to Richmond, but his relationship with Allan deteriorated. In 1827, he moved to Boston and enlisted in the United States Army. His first collection of poems, Tamerlane, and Other Poems, was published that year. In 1829, he published a second collection entitled Al Aaraaf, Tamerlane, and Minor Poems. Neither volume received significant critical or public attention. Following his Army service, Poe was admitted to the United States Military Academy, but he was again forced to leave for lack of financial support. He then moved into the home of his aunt, Mrs. Maria Clemm and her daughter Virginia, in Baltimore, Maryland. Poe began to sell short stories to magazines at around this time, and, in 1835, he became the editor of the Southern Literary Messenger in Richmond. He brought his aunt and twelve-year-old cousin, Virginia Clemm, with him to Richmond. He married Virginia in 1836. Over the next ten years, Poe would edit a number of literary journals including the Burton's Gentleman's Magazine and
Graham's Magazine in Philadelphia and the Broadway Journal in New York City. It was during these years that he established himself as a poet, a short-story writer, and an editor. He published some of his best-known stories and poems including "The Fall of the House of Usher," "The Tell-Tale Heart," "The Murders in the Rue Morgue," and "The Raven." After Virginia's death from tuberculosis in 1847, Poe's life-long struggle with depression and alcoholism worsened. He returned briefly to Richmond in 1849 and then set out for an editing job in Philadelphia. For unknown reasons, he stopped in Baltimore. On October 3, 1849, he was found in a state of semi-consciousness. Poe died four days later of "acute congestion of the brain." Poe's work as an editor, a poet, and a critic had a profound impact on American and international literature. His stories mark him as one of the originators of both horror and detective fiction. Many anthologies credit him as the "architect" of the modern short story. He was also one of the first critics to focus primarily on the effect of the style and of the structure in a literary work; as such, he has been seen as a forerunner to the "art for art's sake" movement. French Symbolists such as MallarmĂŠ and Rimbaud claimed him as a literary precursor. Baudelaire spent nearly fourteen years translating Poe into French. Today, Poe is remembered as one of the first American writers to become a major figure in world literature.
A Dream In visions of the dark night I have dreamed of joy departedBut a waking dream of life and light Hath left me broken-hearted. Ah! what is not a dream by day To him whose eyes are cast On things around him with a ray Turned back upon the past? That holy dream- that holy dream, While all the world were chiding, Hath cheered me as a lovely beam A lonely spirit guiding. What though that light, thro' storm and night, So trembled from afarWhat could there be more purely bright In Truth's day-star?
A Dream Within A Dream Take this kiss upon the brow! And, in parting from you now, Thus much let me avowYou are not wrong, who deem That my days have been a dream; Yet if hope has flown away In a night, or in a day, In a vision, or in none, Is it therefore the less gone? All that we see or seem Is but a dream within a dream. I stand amid the roar Of a surf-tormented shore, And I hold within my hand Grains of the golden sandHow few! yet how they creep Through my fingers to the deep, While I weep- while I weep! O God! can I not grasp Them with a tighter clasp? O God! can I not save One from the pitiless wave? Is all that we see or seem But a dream within a dream?
Valentine For her this rhyme is penned, whose luminous eyes, Brightly expressive as the twins of Leda, Shall find her own sweet name, that nestling lies Upon the page, enwrapped from every reader. Search narrowly the lines!- they hold a treasure Divine- a talisman- an amulet That must be worn at heart. Search well the measureThe words- the syllables! Do not forget The trivialest point, or you may lose your labor And yet there is in this no Gordian knot Which one might not undo without a sabre, If one could merely comprehend the plot. Enwritten upon the leaf where now are peering Eyes scintillating soul, there lie perdus Three eloquent words oft uttered in the hearing Of poets, by poets- as the name is a poet's, too, Its letters, although naturally lying Like the knight Pinto- Mendez FerdinandoStill form a synonym for Truth- Cease trying! You will not read the riddle, though you do the best you can do.
Alone From childhood's hour I have not been As others were; I have not seen As others saw; I could not bring My passions from a common spring. From the same source I have not taken My sorrow; I could not awaken My heart to joy at the same tone; And all I loved, I loved alone. Then- in my childhood, in the dawn Of a most stormy life- was drawn From every depth of good and ill The mystery which binds me still: From the torrent, or the fountain, From the red cliff of the mountain, From the sun that round me rolled In its autumn tint of gold, From the lightning in the sky As it passed me flying by, From the thunder and the storm, And the cloud that took the form (When the rest of Heaven was blue) Of a demon in my view.
Annable Lee It was many and many a year ago, In a kingdom by the sea, That a maiden there lived whom you may know By the name of ANNABEL LEE; And this maiden she lived with no other thought Than to love and be loved by me. I was a child and she was a child, In this kingdom by the sea; But we loved with a love that was more than loveI and my Annabel Lee; With a love that the winged seraphs of heaven Coveted her and me. And this was the reason that, long ago, In this kingdom by the sea, A wind blew out of a cloud, chilling My beautiful Annabel Lee; So that her highborn kinsman came And bore her away from me, To shut her up in a sepulchre In this kingdom by the sea. The angels, not half so happy in heaven, Went envying her and meYes!- that was the reason (as all men know, In this kingdom by the sea) That the wind came out of the cloud by night, Chilling and killing my Annabel Lee. 187
But our love it was stronger by far than the love Of those who were older than weOf many far wiser than weAnd neither the angels in heaven above, Nor the demons down under the sea, Can ever dissever my soul from the soul Of the beautiful Annabel Lee. For the moon never beams without bringing me dreams Of the beautiful Annabel Lee; And the stars never rise but I feel the bright eyes Of the beautiful Annabel Lee; And so, all the night-tide, I lie down by the side
Hear the sledges with the bellsSilver bells! What a world of merriment their melody foretells! How they tinkle, tinkle, tinkle, In the icy air of night! While the stars that oversprinkle All the heavens, seem to twinkle With a crystalline delight; Keeping time, time, time, In a sort of Runic rhyme, To the tintinnabulation that so musically wells From the bells, bells, bells, bells, 188
Bells, bells, bellsFrom the jingling and the tinkling of the bells. II Hear the mellow wedding bells, Golden bells! What a world of happiness their harmony foretells! Through the balmy air of night How they ring out their delight! From the molten-golden notes, And an in tune, What a liquid ditty floats To the turtle-dove that listens, while she gloats On the moon! Oh, from out the sounding cellsWhat a gush of euphony voluminously wells! How it swells! How it dwells On the Future! how it tells Of the rapture that impels To the swinging and the ringing Of the bells, bells, bells, Of the bells, bells, bells,bells, Bells, bells, bellsTo the rhyming and the chiming of the bells! III Hear the loud alarum bells-Brazen bells! What a tale of terror, now, their turbulency tells! In the startled ear of night How they scream out their affright! 189
Too much horrified to speak, They can only shriek, shriek, Out of tune, In a clamorous appealing to the mercy of the fire, In a mad expostulation with the deaf and frantic fire, Leaping higher, higher, higher, With a desperate desire, And a resolute endeavor, Now- now to sit or never, By the side of the pale-faced moon. Oh, the bells, bells, bells! What a tale their terror tells Of Despair! How they clang, and clash, and roar! What a horror they outpour On the bosom of the palpitating air! Yet the ear it fully knows, By the twanging, And the clanging, How the danger ebbs and flows: Yet the ear distinctly tells, In the jangling, And the wrangling, How the danger sinks and swells, By the sinking or the swelling in the anger of the bellsOf the bellsOf the bells, bells, bells, bells, Bells, bells, bellsIn the clamor and the clangor of the bells! IV Hear the tolling of the bells190
Iron Bells! What a world of solemn thought their monody compels! In the silence of the night, How we shiver with affright At the melancholy menace of their tone! For every sound that floats From the rust within their throats Is a groan.And the people- ah, the peopleThey that dwell up in the steeple, All Alone And who, tolling, tolling, tolling, In that muffled monotone, Feel a glory in so rolling On the human heart a stoneThey are neither man nor womanThey are neither brute nor humanThey are Ghouls: And their king it is who tolls; And he rolls, rolls, rolls, Rolls A paean from the bells! And his merry bosom swells With the paean of the bells! And he dances, and he yells; Keeping time, time, time, In a sort of Runic rhyme, To the paean of the bellsOf the bells: Keeping time, time, time, In a sort of Runic rhyme, To the throbbing of the bellsOf the bells, bells, bellsTo the sobbing of the bells; 191
Keeping time, time, time, As he knells, knells, knells, In a happy Runic rhyme, To the rolling of the bellsOf the bells, bells, bells: To the tolling of the bells, Of the bells, bells, bells, bellsBells, bells, bellsTo the moaning and the groaning of the bells.
Bridal Ballad The ring is on my hand, And the wreath is on my brow; Satin and jewels grand Are all at my command, And I am happy now. And my lord he loves me well; But, when first he breathed his vow, I felt my bosom swellFor the words rang as a knell, And the voice seemed his who fell In the battle down the dell, And who is happy now. But he spoke to re-assure me, And he kissed my pallid brow, While a reverie came o'er me, 192
And to the church-yard bore me, And I sighed to him before me, Thinking him dead D'Elormie, "Oh, I am happy now!" And thus the words were spoken, And this the plighted vow, And, though my faith be broken, And, though my heart be broken, Here is a ring, as token That I am happy now! Would God I could awaken! For I dream I know not how! And my soul is sorely shaken Lest an evil step be taken,Lest the dead who is forsaken May not be happy now.
City In The Sea, The Lo! Death has reared himself a throne In a strange city lying alone Far down within the dim West, Where the good and the bad and the worst and the best Have gone to their eternal rest. There shrines and palaces and towers 193
(Time-eaten towers that tremble not!) Resemble nothing that is ours. Around, by lifting winds forgot, Resignedly beneath the sky The melancholy waters he. No rays from the holy heaven come down On the long night-time of that town; But light from out the lurid sea Streams up the turrets silentlyGleams up the pinnacles far and freeUp domes- up spires- up kingly hallsUp fanes- up Babylon-like wallsUp shadowy long-forgotten bowers Of sculptured ivy and stone flowersUp many and many a marvelous shrine Whose wreathed friezes intertwine The viol, the violet, and the vine. Resignedly beneath the sky The melancholy waters lie. So blend the turrets and shadows there That all seem pendulous in air, While from a proud tower in the town Death looks gigantically down. There open fanes and gaping graves Yawn level with the luminous waves; But not the riches there that lie In each idol's diamond eyeNot the gaily-jeweled dead Tempt the waters from their bed; For no ripples curl, alas! Along that wilderness of glass194
No swellings tell that winds may be Upon some far-off happier seaNo heavings hint that winds have been On seas less hideously serene. But lo, a stir is in the air! The wave- there is a movement there! As if the towers had thrust aside, In slightly sinking, the dull tideAs if their tops had feebly given A void within the filmy Heaven. The waves have now a redder glowThe hours are breathing faint and lowAnd when, amid no earthly moans, Down, down that town shall settle hence, Hell, rising from a thousand thrones, Shall do it reverence.
Coliseum, The Type of the antique Rome! Rich reliquary Of lofty contemplation left to Time By buried centuries of pomp and power! At length- at length- after so many days Of weary pilgrimage and burning thirst, (Thirst for the springs of lore that in thee lie,) I kneel, an altered and an humble man, Amid thy shadows, and so drink within 195
My very soul thy grandeur, gloom, and glory! Vastness! and Age! and Memories of Eld! Silence! and Desolation! and dim Night! I feel ye now- I feel ye in your strengthO spells more sure than e'er Judaean king Taught in the gardens of Gethsemane! O charms more potent than the rapt Chaldee Ever drew down from out the quiet stars! Here, where a hero fell, a column falls! Here, where the mimic eagle glared in gold, A midnight vigil holds the swarthy bat! Here, where the dames of Rome their gilded hair Waved to the wind, now wave the reed and thistle! Here, where on golden throne the monarch lolled, Glides, spectre-like, unto his marble home, Lit by the wan light of the horned moon, The swift and silent lizard of the stones! But stay! these walls- these ivy-clad arcadesThese moldering plinths- these sad and blackened shaftsThese vague entablatures- this crumbling friezeThese shattered cornices- this wreck- this ruinThese stones- alas! these grey stones- are they allAll of the famed, and the colossal left By the corrosive Hours to Fate and me? "Not all"- the Echoes answer me- "not all! Prophetic sounds and loud, arise forever From us, and from all Ruin, unto the wise, As melody from Memnon to the Sun. We rule the hearts of mightiest men- we rule 196
With a despotic sway all giant minds. We are not impotent- we pallid stones. Not all our power is gone- not all our fameNot all the magic of our high renownNot all the wonder that encircles usNot all the mysteries that in us lieNot all the memories that hang upon And cling around about us as a garment, Clothing us in a robe of more than glory."
Conqueror Worm, The Lo! 'tis a gala night Within the lonesome latter years! An angel throng, bewinged, bedight In veils, and drowned in tears, Sit in a theatre, to see A play of hopes and fears, While the orchestra breathes fitfully The music of the spheres. Mimes, in the form of God on high, 197
Mutter and mumble low, And hither and thither flyMere puppets they, who come and go At bidding of vast formless things That shift the scenery to and fro, Flapping from out their Condor wings Invisible Woe! That motley drama- oh, be sure It shall not be forgot! With its Phantom chased for evermore, By a crowd that seize it not, Through a circle that ever returneth in To the self-same spot, And much of Madness, and more of Sin, And Horror the soul of the plot. But see, amid the mimic rout A crawling shape intrude! A blood-red thing that writhes from out The scenic solitude! It writhes!- it writhes!- with mortal pangs The mimes become its food, And seraphs sob at vermin fangs In human gore imbued. Out- out are the lights- out all! And, over each quivering form, The curtain, a funeral pall, Comes down with the rush of a storm, While the angels, all pallid and wan, Uprising, unveiling, affirm That the play is the tragedy, "Man," 198
And its hero the Conqueror Worm.
Dreamland By a route obscure and lonely, Haunted by ill angels only, Where an Eidolon, named NIGHT, On a black throne reigns upright, I have reached these lands but newly From an ultimate dim ThuleFrom a wild clime that lieth, sublime, Out of SPACE- out of TIME. Bottomless vales and boundless floods, And chasms, and caves, and Titan woods, With forms that no man can discover For the tears that drip all over; Mountains toppling evermore Into seas without a shore; Seas that restlessly aspire, Surging, unto skies of fire; Lakes that endlessly outspread Their lone waters- lone and dead,Their still waters- still and chilly With the snows of the lolling lily. By the lakes that thus outspread Their lone waters, lone and dead,Their sad waters, sad and chilly 199
With the snows of the lolling lily,By the mountains- near the river Murmuring lowly, murmuring ever,By the grey woods,- by the swamp Where the toad and the newt encampBy the dismal tarns and pools Where dwell the Ghouls,By each spot the most unholyIn each nook most melancholyThere the traveler meets aghast Sheeted Memories of the PastShrouded forms that start and sigh As they pass the wanderer byWhite-robed forms of friends long given, In agony, to the Earth- and Heaven. For the heart whose woes are legion 'Tis a peaceful, soothing regionFor the spirit that walks in shadow 'Tis- oh, 'tis an Eldorado! But the traveller, travelling through it, May not- dare not openly view it! Never its mysteries are exposed To the weak human eye unclosed; So wills its King, who hath forbid The uplifting of the fringed lid; And thus the sad Soul that here passes Beholds it but through darkened glasses. By a route obscure and lonely, Haunted by ill angels only, Where an Eidolon, named NIGHT, On a black throne reigns upright, 200
I have wandered home but newly From this ultimate dim Thule.
Dreams Oh! that my young life were a lasting dream! My spirit not awakening, till the beam Of an Eternity should bring the morrow. Yes! tho' that long dream were of hopeless sorrow, 'Twere better than the cold reality Of waking life, to him whose heart must be, And hath been still, upon the lovely earth, A chaos of deep passion, from his birth. But should it be- that dream eternally Continuing- as dreams have been to me In my young boyhood- should it thus be given, 'Twere folly still to hope for higher Heaven. For I have revell'd, when the sun was bright I' the summer sky, in dreams of living light And loveliness,- have left my very heart In climes of my imagining, apart From mine own home, with beings that have been Of mine own thought- what more could I have seen? 'Twas once- and only once- and the wild hour From my remembrance shall not pass- some power Or spell had bound me- 'twas the chilly wind Came o'er me in the night, and left behind Its image on my spirit- or the moon Shone on my slumbers in her lofty noon Too coldly- or the stars- howe'er it was That dream was as that night-wind- let it pass. 201
I have been happy, tho' in a dream. I have been happy- and I love the theme: Dreams! in their vivid coloring of life, As in that fleeting, shadowy, misty strife Of semblance with reality, which brings To the delirious eye, more lovely things Of Paradise and Love- and all our own! Than young Hope in his sunniest hour hath known.
Eldorado Gaily bedight, A gallant knight, In sunshine and in shadow, Had journeyed long, Singing a song, In search of Eldorado. But he grew oldThis knight so boldAnd o'er his heart a shadow Fell as he found No spot of ground That looked like Eldorado. And, as his strength Failed him at length, 202
He met a pilgrim shadow"Shadow," said he, "Where can it beThis land of Eldorado?" "Over the Mountains Of the Moon, Down the Valley of the Shadow, Ride, boldly ride," The shade replied"If you seek for Eldorado!"
Elizabeth Elizabeth, it surely is most fit [Logic and common usage so commanding] In thy own book that first thy name be writ, Zeno and other sages notwithstanding; And I have other reasons for so doing Besides my innate love of contradiction; Each poet - if a poet - in pursuing The muses thro' their bowers of Truth or Fiction, Has studied very little of his part, Read nothing, written less - in short's a fool Endued with neither soul, nor sense, nor art, Being ignorant of one important rule, Employed in even the theses of the schoolCalled - I forget the heathenish Greek name [Called anything, its meaning is the same] "Always write first things uppermost in the heart."
Eulalie I dwelt alone In a world of moan, And my soul was a stagnant tide, Till the fair and gentle Eulalie became my blushing brideTill the yellow-haired young Eulalie became my smiling bride. Ah, less- less bright The stars of the night Than the eyes of the radiant girl! That the vapor can make With the moon-tints of purple and pearl, Can vie with the modest Eulalie's most unregarded curlCan compare with the bright-eyed Eulalie's most humble and careless curl. Now Doubt- now Pain Come never again, For her soul gives me sigh for sigh, And all day long Shines, bright and strong, Astarte within the sky, While ever to her dear Eulalie upturns her matron eyeWhile ever to her young Eulalie upturns her violet eye.
Evening Star 'Twas noontide of summer, And mid-time of night; And stars, in their orbits, Shone pale, thro' the light Of the brighter, cold moon, 'Mid planets her slaves, Herself in the Heavens, Her beam on the waves. I gazed awhile On her cold smile; Too cold- too cold for meThere pass'd, as a shroud, A fleecy cloud, And I turned away to thee, Proud Evening Star, In thy glory afar, And dearer thy beam shall be; For joy to my heart Is the proud part Thou bearest in Heaven at night, And more I admire Thy distant fire, Than that colder, lowly light.
The Raven Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary, Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore, While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping, As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door. "'Tis some visitor," I muttered, "tapping at my chamber doorOnly this, and nothing more." Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December, And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor. Eagerly I wished the morrow;- vainly I had sought to borrow From my books surcease of sorrow- sorrow for the lost LenoreFor the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name LenoreNameless here for evermore. And the silken sad uncertain rustling of each purple curtain Thrilled me- filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before; So that now, to still the beating of my heart, I stood repeating, "'Tis some visitor entreating entrance at my chamber doorSome late visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door;This it is, and nothing more." 206
Presently my soul grew stronger; hesitating then no longer, "Sir," said I, "or Madam, truly your forgiveness I implore; But the fact is I was napping, and so gently you came rapping, And so faintly you came tapping, tapping at my chamber door, That I scarce was sure I heard you"- here I opened wide the door;Darkness there, and nothing more. Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing, Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortals ever dared to dream before; But the silence was unbroken, and the stillness gave no token, And the only word there spoken was the whispered word, "Lenore!" This I whispered, and an echo murmured back the word, "Lenore!"Merely this, and nothing more. Back into the chamber turning, all my soul within me burning, Soon again I heard a tapping somewhat louder than before. "Surely," said I, "surely that is something at my window lattice: Let me see, then, what thereat is, and this mystery exploreLet my heart be still a moment and this mystery explore;'Tis the wind and nothing more." Open here I flung the shutter, when, with many a flirt and flutter, 207
In there stepped a stately raven of the saintly days of yore; Not the least obeisance made he; not a minute stopped or stayed he; But, with mien of lord or lady, perched above my chamber doorPerched upon a bust of Pallas just above my chamber doorPerched, and sat, and nothing more. Then this ebony bird beguiling my sad fancy into smiling, By the grave and stern decorum of the countenance it wore. "Though thy crest be shorn and shaven, thou," I said, "art sure no craven, Ghastly grim and ancient raven wandering from the Nightly shoreTell me what thy lordly name is on the Night's Plutonian shore!" Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore." Much I marvelled this ungainly fowl to hear discourse so plainly, Though its answer little meaning- little relevancy bore; For we cannot help agreeing that no living human being Ever yet was blest with seeing bird above his chamber door Bird or beast upon the sculptured bust above his chamber door, With such name as "Nevermore." But the raven, sitting lonely on the placid bust, spoke only That one word, as if his soul in that one word he did outpour. Nothing further then he uttered- not a feather then he fluttered208
Till I scarcely more than muttered, "other friends have flown beforeOn the morrow he will leave me, as my hopes have flown before." Then the bird said, "Nevermore." Startled at the stillness broken by reply so aptly spoken, "Doubtless," said I, "what it utters is its only stock and store, Caught from some unhappy master whom unmerciful Disaster Followed fast and followed faster till his songs one burden boreTill the dirges of his Hope that melancholy burden bore Of 'Never- nevermore'." But the Raven still beguiling all my fancy into smiling, Straight I wheeled a cushioned seat in front of bird, and bust and door; Then upon the velvet sinking, I betook myself to linking Fancy unto fancy, thinking what this ominous bird of yoreWhat this grim, ungainly, ghastly, gaunt and ominous bird of yore Meant in croaking "Nevermore." This I sat engaged in guessing, but no syllable expressing To the fowl whose fiery eyes now burned into my bosom's core; This and more I sat divining, with my head at ease reclining On the cushion's velvet lining that the lamplight gloated o'er, But whose velvet violet lining with the lamplight gloating 209
o'er, She shall press, ah, nevermore! Then methought the air grew denser, perfumed from an unseen censer Swung by Seraphim whose footfalls tinkled on the tufted floor. "Wretch," I cried, "thy God hath lent thee- by these angels he hath sent thee Respite- respite and nepenthe, from thy memories of Lenore! Quaff, oh quaff this kind nepenthe and forget this lost Lenore!" Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore." "Prophet!" said I, "thing of evil!- prophet still, if bird or devil!Whether Tempter sent, or whether tempest tossed thee here ashore, Desolate yet all undaunted, on this desert land enchantedOn this home by horror haunted- tell me truly, I imploreIs there- is there balm in Gilead?- tell me- tell me, I implore!" Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore." "Prophet!" said I, "thing of evil- prophet still, if bird or devil! By that Heaven that bends above us- by that God we both adoreTell this soul with sorrow laden if, within the distant Aidenn, It shall clasp a sainted maiden whom the angels name Lenore 210
Clasp a rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore." Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore." "By that word our sign of parting, bird or fiend!" I shrieked, upstarting "Get thee back into the tempest and the Night's Plutonian shore! Leave no black plume as a token of that lie thy soul hath spoken! Leave my loneliness unbroken!- quit the bust above my door! Take thy beak from out my heart, and take thy form from off my door!" Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore." And the Raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting On the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door; And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon's that is dreaming, And the lamplight o'er him streaming throws his shadow on the floor; And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor Shall be lifted- nevermore!
Percy Bysshe Shelly (1792-1822) Ozymandias I met a traveller from an antique land Who said: `Two vast and trunkless legs of stone Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand, Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown, And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command, Tell that its sculptor well those passions read Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things, The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed. And on the pedestal these words appear -"My name is Ozymandias, king of kings: Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!" Nothing beside remains. Round the decay Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare The lone and level sands stretch far away.'
I Arise From Dreams Of Thee I arise from dreams of thee In the first sweet sleep of night, When the winds are breathing low, And the stars are shining bright I arise from dreams of thee, And a spirit in my feet Has led me -- who knows how? -To thy chamber-window, sweet! The wandering airs they faint On the dark, the silent stream, -The champak odors fall Like sweet thoughts in a dream, The nightingale's complaint, It dies upon her heart, As I must die on thine, O, beloved as thou art! O, lift me from the grass! I die, I faint, I fall! Let thy love in kisses rain On my lips and eyelids pale, My cheek is cold and white, alas! My Heart beats loud and fast Oh! press it close to thine again, Where it will break at last!
Good-night? ah! no; the hour is ill Which severs those it should unite; Let us remain together still, Then it will be good night. How can I call the lone night good, Though thy sweet wishes wing its flight? Be it not said, thought, understood -Then it will be -- good night. To hearts which near each other move From evening close to morning light, The night is good; because, my love, They never say good-night.
Loveâ€™s Philosophy The fountains mingle with the river, And the rivers with the ocean; The winds of heaven mix forever With a sweet emotion; Nothing in the world is single; All things by a law divine In another's being mingle-Why not I with thine? See, the mountains kiss high heaven, And the waves clasp one another; No sister flower could be forgiven If it disdained its brother; 214
And the sunlight clasps the earth, And the moonbeams kiss the sea;-What are all these kissings worth, If thou kiss not me?
TED KOOSER After Years Today, from a distance, I saw you walking away, and without a sound the glittering face of a glacier slid into the sea. An ancient oak fell in the Cumberlands, holding only a handful of leaves, and an old woman scattering corn to her chickens looked up for an instant. At the other side of the galaxy, a star thirty-five times the size of our own sun exploded and vanished, leaving a small green spot on the astronomer's retina as he stood on the great open dome of my heart with no one to tell.
Flying At Night
Above us, stars. Beneath us, constellations. Five billion miles away, a galaxy dies like a snowflake falling on water. Below us, some farmer, feeling the chill of that distant death, snaps on his yard light, drawing his sheds and barn 216
back into the little system of his care. All night, the cities, like shimmering novas, tug with bright streets at lonely lights like his.
In January Only one cell in the frozen hive of night is lit, or so it seems to us: this Vietnamese cafĂŠ, with its oily light, its odors whose colorful shapes are like flowers. Laughter and talking, the tick of chopsticks. Beyond the glass, the wintry city creaks like an ancient wooden bridge. A great wind rushes under all of us. The bigger the window, the more it trembles.
WILLIAM BLAKE (1757-1827) illiam Blake was born in London on November 28, 1757, to James, a hosier, and Catherine Blake. Two of his six siblings died in infancy. From early childhood, Blake spoke of having visionsâ€”at four he saw God "put his head to the window"; around age nine, while walking through the countryside, he saw a tree filled with angels. Although his parents tried to discourage him from "lying," they did observe that he was different from his peers and did not force him to attend conventional school. He learned to read and write at home. At age ten, Blake expressed a wish to become a painter, so his parents sent him to drawing school. Two years later, Blake began writing poetry. When he turned fourteen, he apprenticed with an engraver because art school proved too costly. One of Blake's assignments as apprentice was to sketch the tombs at Westminster Abbey, exposing him to a variety of Gothic styles from which he would draw inspiration throughout his career. After his seven-year term ended, he studied briefly at the Royal Academy.
In 1782, he married an illiterate woman named Catherine Boucher. Blake taught her to read and to write, and also instructed her in draftsmanship. Later, she helped him print the illuminated poetry for which he is remembered today; the couple had no children. In 1784 he set up a print shop with a friend and former fellow apprentice, James Parker, but this venture failed after several years. For the remainder of his life, Blake made a 218
meager living as an engraver and illustrator for books and magazines. In addition to his wife, Blake also began training his younger brother Robert in drawing, painting, and engraving. Robert fell ill during the winter of 1787 and succumbed, probably to consumption. As Robert died, Blake saw his brother's spirit rise up through the ceiling, "clapping its hands for joy." He believed that Robert's spirit continued to visit him and later claimed that in a dream Robert taught him the printing method that he used in Songs of Innocence and other "illuminated" works. Blake's first printed work, Poetical Sketches (1783), is a collection of apprentice verse, mostly imitating classical models. The poems protest against war, tyranny, and King George III's treatment of the American colonies. He published his most popular collection, Songs of Innocence, in 1789 and followed it, in 1794, with Songs of Experience. Some readers interpret Songs of Innocence in a straightforward fashion, considering it primarily a children's book, but others have found hints at parody or critique in its seemingly naive and simple lyrics. Both books of Songs were printed in an illustrated format reminiscent of illuminated manuscripts. The text and illustrations were printed from copper plates, and each picture was finished by hand in watercolors. Blake was a nonconformist who associated with some of the leading radical thinkers of his day, such as Thomas Paine and Mary Wollstonecraft. In defiance of 18th-century neoclassical conventions, he privileged imagination over reason in the creation of both his poetry and images, asserting that ideal forms should be constructed not from observations of nature but from inner visions. He declared in one poem, "I must create a system 219
or be enslaved by another man's." Works such as "The French Revolution" (1791), "America, a Prophecy" (1793), "Visions of the Daughters of Albion" (1793), and "Europe, a Prophecy" (1794) express his opposition to the English monarchy, and to 18th-century political and social tyranny in general. Theological tyranny is the subject of The Book of Urizen (1794). In the prose work The Marriage of Heaven and Hell (1790-93), he satirized oppressive authority in church and state, as well as the works of Emanuel Swedenborg, a Swedish philosopher whose ideas once attracted his interest. In 1800 Blake moved to the seacoast town of Felpham, where he lived and worked until 1803 under the patronage of William Hayley. He taught himself Greek, Latin, Hebrew, and Italian, so that he could read classical works in their original language. In Felpham he experienced profound spiritual insights that prepared him for his mature work, the great visionary epics written and etched between about 1804 and 1820. Milton (1804-08), Vala, or The Four Zoas (1797; rewritten after 1800), and Jerusalem (1804-20) have neither traditional plot, characters, rhyme, nor meter. They envision a new and higher kind of innocence, the human spirit triumphant over reason. Blake believed that his poetry could be read and understood by common people, but he was determined not to sacrifice his vision in order to become popular. In 1808 he exhibited some of his watercolors at the Royal Academy, and in May of 1809 he exhibited his works at his brother James's house. Some of those who saw the exhibit praised Blake's artistry, but others thought the paintings "hideous" and more than a few called him insane. Blake's poetry was not well known by the general public, but he 220
was mentioned in A Biographical Dictionary of the Living Authors of Great Britain and Ireland, published in 1816. Samuel Taylor Coleridge, who had been lent a copy of Songs of Innocence and of Experience, considered Blake a "man of Genius," and Wordsworth made his own copies of several songs. Charles Lamb sent a copy of "The Chimney Sweeper" from Songs of Innocence to James Montgomery for his Chimney-Sweeper's Friend, and Climbing Boys' Album (1824), and Robert Southey (who, like Wordsworth, considered Blake insane) attended Blake's exhibition and included the "Mad Song" from Poetical Sketches in his miscellany, The Doctor (1834-1837). Blake's final years, spent in great poverty, were cheered by the admiring friendship of a group of younger artists who called themselves "the Ancients." In 1818 he met John Linnell, a young artist who helped him financially and also helped to create new interest in his work. It was Linnell who, in 1825, commissioned him to design illustrations for Danteâ€™s Divine Comedy. The cycle of drawings that Blake worked on until his death in 1827.
Proverbs Of Hell In seed time learn, in harvest teach, in winter enjoy. Drive your cart and your plow over the bones of the dead. The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom. 221
Prudence is a rich ugly old maid courted by Incapacity. He who desires but acts not, breeds pestilence. The cut worm forgives the plow. Dip him in the river who loves water. A fool sees not the same tree that a wise man sees. He whose face gives no light, shall never become a star. Eternity is in love with the productions of time. The busy bee has no time for sorrow. The hours of folly are measur'd by the clock, but of wisdom: no clock can measure. All wholsom food is caught without a net or a trap. Bring out number weight & measure in a year of dearth. No bird soars too high, if he soars with his own wings. A dead body, revenges not injuries. The most sublime act is to set another before you. If the fool would persist in his folly he would become wise. Folly is the cloak of knavery. Shame is Prides cloak.
Reeds Of Innocence Piping down the valleys wild, Piping songs of pleasant glee, On a cloud I saw a child, 222
And he laughing said to me: 'Pipe a song about a Lamb!' So I piped with merry cheer. 'Piper, pipe that song again;' So I piped: he wept to hear. 'Drop thy pipe, thy happy pipe; Sing thy songs of happy cheer!' So I sung the same again, While he wept with joy to hear. 'Piper, sit thee down and write In a book that all may read.' So he vanish'd from my sight; And I pluck'd a hollow reed, And I made a rural pen, And I stain'd the water clear, And I wrote my happy songs Every child may joy to hear.
Auguries Of Innocense To see a World in a Grain of Sand And a Heaven in a Wild Flower, Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand And Eternity in an hour. 223
A Robin Red breast in a Cage Puts all Heaven in a Rage. A dove house fill'd with doves & Pigeons Shudders Hell thro' all its regions. A dog starv'd at his Master's Gate Predicts the ruin of the State. A Horse misus'd upon the Road Calls to Heaven for Human blood. Each outcry of the hunted Hare A fibre from the Brain does tear. A Skylark wounded in the wing, A Cherubim does cease to sing. The Game Cock clipp'd and arm'd for fight Does the Rising Sun affright. Every Wolf's & Lion's howl Raises from Hell a Human Soul. The wild deer, wand'ring here & there, Keeps the Human Soul from Care. The Lamb misus'd breeds public strife And yet forgives the Butcher's Knife. The Bat that flits at close of Eve Has left the Brain that won't believe. The Owl that calls upon the Night Speaks the Unbeliever's fright. He who shall hurt the little Wren Shall never be belov'd by Men. He who the Ox to wrath has mov'd Shall never be by Woman lov'd. The wanton Boy that kills the Fly Shall feel the Spider's enmity. He who torments the Chafer's sprite Weaves a Bower in endless Night. The Catterpillar on the Leaf 224
Repeats to thee thy Mother's grief. Kill not the Moth nor Butterfly, For the Last Judgement draweth nigh. He who shall train the Horse to War Shall never pass the Polar Bar. The Beggar's Dog & Widow's Cat, Feed them & thou wilt grow fat. The Gnat that sings his Summer's song Poison gets from Slander's tongue. The poison of the Snake & Newt Is the sweat of Envy's Foot. The poison of the Honey Bee Is the Artist's Jealousy. The Prince's Robes & Beggars' Rags Are Toadstools on the Miser's Bags. A truth that's told with bad intent Beats all the Lies you can invent. It is right it should be so; Man was made for Joy & Woe; And when this we rightly know Thro' the World we safely go. Joy & Woe are woven fine, A Clothing for the Soul divine; Under every grief & pine Runs a joy with silken twine. The Babe is more than swadling Bands; Throughout all these Human Lands Tools were made, & born were hands, Every Farmer Understands. Every Tear from Every Eye Becomes a Babe in Eternity. This is caught by Females bright And return'd to its own delight. 225
The Bleat, the Bark, Bellow & Roar Are Waves that Beat on Heaven's Shore. The Babe that weeps the Rod beneath Writes Revenge in realms of death. The Beggar's Rags, fluttering in Air, Does to Rags the Heavens tear. The Soldier arm'd with Sword & Gun, Palsied strikes the Summer's Sun. The poor Man's Farthing is worth more Than all the Gold on Afric's Shore. One Mite wrung from the Labrer's hands Shall buy & sell the Miser's lands: Or, if protected from on high, Does that whole Nation sell & buy. He who mocks the Infant's Faith Shall be mock'd in Age & Death. He who shall teach the Child to Doubt The rotting Grave shall ne'er get out. He who respects the Infant's faith Triumph's over Hell & Death. The Child's Toys & the Old Man's Reasons Are the Fruits of the Two seasons. The Questioner, who sits so sly, Shall never know how to Reply. He who replies to words of Doubt Doth put the Light of Knowledge out. The Strongest Poison ever known Came from Caesar's Laurel Crown. Nought can deform the Human Race Like the Armour's iron brace. When Gold & Gems adorn the Plow To peaceful Arts shall Envy Bow. A Riddle or the Cricket's Cry 226
Is to Doubt a fit Reply. The Emmet's Inch & Eagle's Mile Make Lame Philosophy to smile. He who Doubts from what he sees Will ne'er believe, do what you Please. If the Sun & Moon should doubt They'd immediately Go out. To be in a Passion you Good may do, But no Good if a Passion is in you. The Whore & Gambler, by the State Licenc'd, build that Nation's Fate. The Harlot's cry from Street to Street Shall weave Old England's winding Sheet. The Winner's Shout, the Loser's Curse, Dance before dead England's Hearse. Every Night & every Morn Some to Misery are Born. Every Morn & every Night Some are Born to sweet Delight. Some ar Born to sweet Delight, Some are born to Endless Night. We are led to Believe a Lie When we see not Thro' the Eye Which was Born in a Night to Perish in a Night When the Soul Slept in Beams of Light. God Appears & God is Light To those poor Souls who dwell in the Night, But does a Human Form Display To those who Dwell in Realms of day.
A Cradle Song Sweet dreams form a shade, O'er my lovely infants head. Sweet dreams of pleasant streams, By happy silent moony beams Sweet sleep with soft down. Weave thy brows an infant crown. Sweet sleep Angel mild, Hover o'er my happy child. Sweet smiles in the night, Hover over my delight. Sweet smiles Mothers smiles, All the livelong night beguiles. Sweet moans, dovelike sighs, Chase not slumber from thy eyes, Sweet moans, sweeter smiles, All the dovelike moans beguiles. Sleep sleep happy child, All creation slept and smil'd. Sleep sleep, happy sleep. While o'er thee thy mother weep Sweet babe in thy face, Holy image I can trace. Sweet babe once like thee. Thy maker lay and wept for me 228
Wept for me for thee for all, When he was an infant small. Thou his image ever see. Heavenly face that smiles on thee, Smiles on thee on me on all, Who became an infant small, Infant smiles are His own smiles, Heaven & earth to peace beguiles.
MY Spectre around me night and day Like a wild beast guards my way; My Emanation far within Weeps incessantly for my sin. â€˜A fathomless and boundless deep, There we wander, there we weep; On the hungry craving wind My Spectre follows thee behind. â€˜He scents thy footsteps in the snow Wheresoever thou dost go, 229
Thro’ the wintry hail and rain. When wilt thou return again? ’Dost thou not in pride and scorn Fill with tempests all my morn, And with jealousies and fears Fill my pleasant nights with tears? ‘Seven of my sweet loves thy knife Has bereavèd of their life. Their marble tombs I built with tears, And with cold and shuddering fears. ‘Seven more loves weep night and day Round the tombs where my loves lay, And seven more loves attend each night Around my couch with torches bright. ‘And seven more loves in my bed Crown with wine my mournful head, Pitying and forgiving all Thy transgressions great and small. ‘When wilt thou return and view My loves, and them to life renew? When wilt thou return and live? When wilt thou pity as I forgive?’ ‘O’er my sins thou sit and moan: Hast thou no sins of thy own? O’er my sins thou sit and weep, And lull thy own sins fast asleep. 230
‘What transgressions I commit Are for thy transgressions fit. They thy harlots, thou their slave; And my bed becomes their grave. ‘Never, never, I return: Still for victory I burn. Living, thee alone I’ll have; And when dead I’ll be thy grave. ‘Thro’ the Heaven and Earth and Hell Thou shalt never, quell: I will fly and thou pursue: Night and morn the flight renew.’ ‘Poor, pale, pitiable form That I follow in a storm; Iron tears and groans of lead Bind around my aching head. ‘Till I turn from Female love And root up the Infernal Grove, I shall never worthy be To step into Eternity. ‘And, to end thy cruel mocks, Annihilate thee on the rocks, And another form create To be subservient to my fate. ‘Let us agree to give up love, And root up the Infernal Grove; Then shall we return and see 231
The worlds of happy Eternity. ‘And throughout all Eternity I forgive you, you forgive me. As our dear Redeemer said: “This the Wine, and this the Bread.”’
A Little Girl Lost Children of the future age, Reading this indignant page, Know that in a former time Love, sweet love, was thought a crime. In the age of gold, Free from winter's cold, Youth and maiden bright, To the holy light, Naked in the sunny beams delight. Once a youthful pair, Filled with softest care, Met in garden bright Where the holy light Had just removed the curtains of the night. 232
Then, in rising day, On the grass they play; Parents were afar, Strangers came not near, And the maiden soon forgot her fear. Tired with kisses sweet, They agree to meet When the silent sleep Waves o'er heaven's deep, And the weary tired wanderers weep. To her father white Came the maiden bright; But his loving look, Like the holy book All her tender limbs with terror shook. 'Ona, pale and weak, To thy father speak! Oh the trembling fear! Oh the dismal care That shakes the blossoms of my hoary hair!'
He who binds to himself a joy Does the winged life destroy; 233
But he who kisses the joy as it flies Lives in eternity's sun rise.
SYLVIA PLATH (1932-1963) ylvia Plath was born in Boston, Massachusetts, on October 27, 1932. Her mother, Aurelia Schober, was a master’s student at Boston University when she met Plath’s father, Otto Plath, who was her professor. They were married in January of 1932. Otto taught both German and biology, with a focus on apiology, the study of bees.
In 1940, when Sylvia was eight years old, her father died as a result of complications from diabetes. He had been a strict father, and both his authoritarian attitudes and his death drastically defined her relationships and her poems—most notably in her elegaic and infamous poem, “Daddy”. Even in her youth, Plath was ambitiously driven to succeed. She kept a journal from the age of 11 and published her poems in regional magazines and newspapers. Her first national publication was in the Christian Science Monitor in 1950, just after graduating from high school. In 1950, Plath matriculated at Smith College. She was an exceptional student, and despite a deep depression she went through in 1953 and a subsequent suicide attempt, she managed to graduate summa cum laude in 1955. After graduation, Plath moved to Cambridge, England, on a Fulbright Scholarship. In early 1956, she attended a party and met the English poet Ted Hughes. 235
Shortly thereafter, Plath and Hughes were married, on June 16, 1956. Plath returned to Massachusetts in 1957, and began studying with Robert Lowell. Her first collection of poems, Colossus, was published in 1960 in England, and two years later in the United States. She returned to England where she gave birth to the couple's two children, Freida and Nicholas Hughes, in 1960 and 1962, respectively. In 1962, Ted Hughes left Plath for Assia Gutmann Wevill. That winter, in a deep depression, Plath wrote most of the poems that would comprise her most famous book, Ariel. In 1963, Plath published a semi-autobiographical novel, The Bell Jar, under the pseudonym Victoria Lucas. Then, on February 11, 1963, during one of the worst English winters on record, Plath wrote a note to her downstairs neighbor instructing him to call the doctor, then she committed suicide using her gas oven. Although only Colossus was published while she was alive, Plath was a prolific poet, and in addition to Ariel, Hughes published three other volumes of her work posthumously, including The Collected Poems, which was the recipient of the 1982 Pulitzer Prize. She was the first poet to win a Pulitzer Prize after death. I wanted change and excitement and to shoot off in all directions myself, like the colored arrows from a Fourth of July rocket. -Sylvia_Plath US novelist & poet (1932 - 1963) 236
Aftermath Compelled by calamity's magnet They loiter and stare as if the house Burnt-out were theirs, or as if they thought Some scandal might any minute ooze From a smoke-choked closet into light; No deaths, no prodigious injuries Glut these hunters after an old meat, Blood-spoor of the austere tragedies. Mother Medea in a green smock Moves humbly as any housewife through Her ruined apartments, taking stock Of charred shoes, the sodden upholstery: Cheated of the pyre and the rack, The crowd sucks her last tear and turns away.
the slime of all my yesterdays rots in the hollow of my skull and if my stomach would contract because of some explicable phenomenon such as pregnancy or constipation 237
I would not remember you or that because of sleep infrequent as a moon of greencheese that because of food nourishing as violet leaves that because of these and in a few fatal yards of grass in a few spaces of sky and treetops a future was lost yesterday as easily and irretrievably as a tennis ball at twilight
Black Rook In Rainy Weather On the stiff twig up there Hunches a wet black rook Arranging and rearranging its feathers in the rainI do not expect a miracle Or an accident To set the sight on fire In my eye, nor seek Any more in the desultory weather some design, 238
But let spotted leaves fall as they fall Without ceremony, or portent. Although, I admit, I desire, Occasionally, some backtalk From the mute sky, I can't honestly complain: A certain minor light may still Lean incandescent Out of kitchen table or chair As if a celestial burning took Possession of the most obtuse objects now and then -Thus hallowing an interval Otherwise inconsequent By bestowing largesse, honor One might say love. At any rate, I now walk Wary (for it could happen Even in this dull, ruinous landscape); sceptical Yet politic, ignorant Of whatever angel any choose to flare Suddenly at my elbow. I only know that a rook Ordering its black feathers can so shine As to seize my senses, haul My eyelids up, and grant A brief respite from fear Of total neutrality. With luck, Trekking stubborn through this season Of fatigue, I shall Patch together a content Of sorts. Miracles occur. 239
If you care to call those spasmodic Tricks of radiance Miracles. The wait's begun again, The long wait for the angel, For that rare, random descent.
Child Your clear eye is the one absolutely beautiful thing. I want to fill it with color and ducks, The zoo of the new Whose name you meditate -April snowdrop, Indian pipe, Little Stalk without wrinkle, Pool in which images Should be grand and classical Not this troublous Wringing of hands, this dark Ceiling without a star.
The prince leans to the girl in scarlet heels, Her green eyes slant, hair flaring in a fan Of silver as the rondo slows; now reels Begin on tilted violins to span The whole revolving tall glass palace hall Where guests slide gliding into light like wine; Rose candles flicker on the lilac wall Reflecting in a million flagons' shine, And glided couples all in whirling trance Follow holiday revel begun long since, Until near twelve the strange girl all at once Guilt-stricken halts, pales, clings to the prince As amid the hectic music and cocktail talk She hears the caustic ticking of the clock.
Contusion Color floods to the spot, dull purple. The rest of the body is all washed-out, The color of pearl. In a pit of a rock The sea sucks obsessively, One hollow thw whole sea's pivot. 241
The size of a fly, The doom mark Crawls down the wall. The heart shuts, The sea slides back, The mirrors are sheeted.
WALT WHITMAN (1819-1892) Walt Whitman was born on May 31, 1819, on the West Hills of Long Island, New York. His mother Louisa Velsor, of Dutch descent and Quaker faith, whom he adored, was barely literate. She never read his poetry, but gave him unconditional love. His father of English lineage, was a carpenter and builder of houses, and a stern disciplinarian. His main claim to fame was his friendship with Tom Paine, whose pamphlet Common Sense (1776), urging the colonists to throw off English domination was in his sparse library. It is doubtful that his father read any of his son's poetry, or would have understood it if he had. The senior Walt was too burdened with the struggle to support his ever-growing family of nine children, four of whom were handicapped. Young Walt, the second of nine, was withdrawn from public school at the age of eleven to help support the family. At the age of twelve he started to learn the printerâ€™s trade, and fell in love with the written and printed word. He was mainly self-taught. He read voraciously, and became acquainted with Homer, Dante, Shakespeare and Scott early in life. He knew the Bible thoroughly, and as a Godintoxicated poet, desired to inaugurate a religion uniting all of humanity in bonds of friendship. In 1836, at the age of 17, he began his career as an innovative teacher in the one-room school houses of Long Island. He permitted his students to call him by his first name, and devised learning games for them in arithmetic and spelling. He continued to teach school until 1841, when 243
he turned to journalism as a full-time career. He soon became editor for a number of and New York papers. From 1846 to 1847 Whitman was the editor of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle. Whitman went to New Orleans in 1848, where he was editor for a brief time of the "New Orleans Crescent". In that city he had become fascinated with the French language. Many of his poems contain words of French derivation. It was in New Orleans that he experienced at first hand the viciousness of slavery in the slave markets of that city. On his return to Brooklyn in the fall of 1848, he founded a "free soil"newspaper the "Brooklyn Freeman". Between 1848 and 1855 he developed the style of poetry that so astonished Ralph Waldo Emerson. When the poet's Leaves Of Grass reached him as a gift in July, 1855, the Dean of American Letters thanked him for "the wonderful gift" and said that he rubbed his eyes a little "to see if the sunbeam was no illusion." Walt Whitman had been unknown to Emerson prior to that occasion. The "sunbeam" that illuminated a great deal of Whitman's poetry was music. It was one of the major sources of his inspiration. Many of his four hundred poems contain musical terms, names of instruments, and names of composers. He insisted that music was "greater than wealth, greater than buildings, ships, religions, paintings" In his final essay written one year before his death in 1891, he sums up his struggles of thirty years to write Leaves of Grass. The opening paragraph of his self-evaluation "A Backward Glance O'er Travel'd Road," begins with his reminiscences of "the best of songs heard." His concluding comments again return to thoughts about music, saying that "the strongest and sweetest songs remain yet to be sung." 244
"When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloomed" and "O Captain! My Captain!" (1866) are two of his more famous poems. A poet who was ardently singing on life and himself, Whitman is today claimed as one of the few truly great American men of letters. ..
"Give me the splendid silent sun with all his beams full-dazzling, Give me juicy autumnal fruit ripe and red from the orchard, Give me a field where the unmow'd grass grows, Give me an arbor, give me the trellis'd grape, Give me fresh corn and wheat, give me serene-moving animals teaching content," Walt Whitman (1819-1892), U.S. poet.
A Child Said, What Is The Grass A child said, What is the grass? fetching it to me with full hands; How could I answer the child?. . . .I do not know what it is any more than he. I guess it must be the flag of my disposition, out of hopeful green stuff woven. Or I guess it is the handkerchief of the Lord, A scented gift and remembrancer designedly dropped, Bearing the owner's name someway in the corners, that we may see and remark, and say Whose? Or I guess the grass is itself a child. . . .the produced babe of the vegetation. Or I guess it is a uniform hieroglyphic, And it means, Sprouting alike in broad zones and narrow zones, Growing among black folks as among white, Kanuck, Tuckahoe, Congressman, Cuff, I give them the same, I receive them the same. And now it seems to me the beautiful uncut hair of graves. Tenderly will I use you curling grass, It may be you transpire from the breasts of young men, It may be if I had known them I would have loved them; It may be you are from old people and from women, and from offspring taken soon out of their mother's laps, 246
And here you are the mother's laps. This grass is very dark to be from the white heads of old mothers, Darker than the colorless beards of old men, Dark to come from under the faint red roofs of mouths. O I perceive after all so many uttering tongues! And I perceive they do not come from the roofs of mouths for nothing. I wish I could translate the hints about the dead young menand women, And the hints about old men and mothers, and the offspring taken soon out of their laps. What do you think has become of the young and old men? What do you think has become of the women and children? They are alive and well somewhere; The smallest sprouts show there is really no death, And if ever there was it led forward life, and does not wait at the end to arrest it, And ceased the moment life appeared. All goes onward and outward. . . .and nothing collapses, And to die is different from what any one supposed, and luckier.
A Farm-Picture Through the ample open door of the peaceful country barn, A sun-lit pasture field, with cattle and horses feeding; And haze, and vista, and the far horizon, fading away.
A March In The Ranks, Hard Prest
A MARCH in the ranks hard-prest, and the road unknown; A route through a heavy wood, with muffled steps in the darkness; Our army foil'd with loss severe, and the sullen remnant retreating; Till after midnight glimmer upon us, the lights of a dimlighted building; We come to an open space in the woods, and halt by the dim-lighted building; 'Tis a large old church at the crossing roads--'tis now an impromptu hospital; --Entering but for a minute, I see a sight beyond all the pictures and poems ever made: Shadows of deepest, deepest black, just lit by moving candles and 248
lamps, And by one great pitchy torch, stationary, with wild red flame, and clouds of smoke; By these, crowds, groups of forms, vaguely I see, on the floor, some in the pews laid down; 10 At my feet more distinctly, a soldier, a mere lad, in danger of bleeding to death, (he is shot in the abdomen;) I staunch the blood temporarily, (the youngster's face is white as a lily;) Then before I depart I sweep my eyes o'er the scene, fain to absorb it all; Faces, varieties, postures beyond description, most in obscurity, some of them dead; Surgeons operating, attendants holding lights, the smell of ether, the odor of blood; The crowd, O the crowd of the bloody forms of soldiers-the yard outside also fill'd; Some on the bare ground, some on planks or stretchers, some in the death-spasm sweating; An occasional scream or cry, the doctor's shouted orders or calls; The glisten of the little steel instruments catching the glint of the torches; 249
These I resume as I chant--I see again the forms, I smell the odor; 20 Then hear outside the orders given, Fall in, my men, Fall in; But first I bend to the dying lad--his eyes open--a halfsmile gives he me; Then the eyes close, calmly close, and I speed forth to the darkness, Resuming, marching, ever in darkness marching, on in the ranks, The unknown road still marching.
A Noiseless Patient Spider A NOISELESS, patient spider, I mark'd, where, on a little promontory, it stood, isolated; Mark'd how, to explore the vacant, vast surrounding, It launch'd forth filament, filament, filament, out of itself; Ever unreeling them--ever tirelessly speeding them. And you, O my Soul, where you stand, Surrounded, surrounded, in measureless oceans of space, Ceaselessly musing, venturing, throwing,--seeking the spheres, to connect them; Till the bridge you will need, be form'd--till the ductile anchor hold; 250
Till the gossamer thread you fling, catch somewhere, O my Soul.
A Riddle Song THAT which eludes this verse and any verse, Unheard by sharpest ear, unform'd in clearest eye or cunningest mind, Nor lore nor fame, nor happiness nor wealth, And yet the pulse of every heart and life throughout the world incessantly, Which you and I and all pursuing ever ever miss, Open but still a secret, the real of the real, an illusion, Costless, vouchsafed to each, yet never man the owner, Which poets vainly seek to put in rhyme, historians in prose, Which sculptor never chisel'd yet, nor painter painted, Which vocalist never sung, nor orator nor actor ever utter'd, 10 Invoking here and now I challenge for my song. Indifferently, 'mid public, private haunts, in solitude, Behind the mountain and the wood, Companion of the city's busiest streets, through the assemblage, It and its radiations constantly glide. In looks of fair unconscious babes, 251
Or strangely in the coffin'd dead, Or show of breaking dawn or stars by night, As some dissolving delicate film of dreams, Hiding yet lingering. 20 Two little breaths of words comprising it. Two words, yet all from first to last comprised in it. How ardently for it! How many ships have sail'd and sunk for it! How many travelers started from their homes and ne'er return'd! How much of genius boldly staked and lost for it! What countless stores of beauty, love, ventur'd for it! How all superbest deeds since Time began are traceable to it--and shall be to the end! How all heroic martyrdoms to it! How, justified by it, the horrors, evils, battles of the earth! 30 How the bright fascinating lambent flames of it, in every age and land, have drawn men's eyes, Rich as a sunset on the Norway coast, the sky, the islands, and the cliffs, Or midnight's silent glowing northern lights unreachable. Haply God's riddle it, so vague and yet so certain, The soul for it, and all the visible universe for it, And heaven at last for it.
dward Estlin Cummings was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, October 14, 1894. He began writing poems as early as 1904 and studied Latin and Greek at the Cambridge Latin High School. He received his B.A. in 1915 and his M.A. in 1916, both from Harvard. His studies there introduced him to avant garde writers, such as Gertrude Stein and Ezra Pound. In 1917, Cummings' first published poems appeared in the anthology Eight Harvard Poets. The same year, Cummings left the United States for France as a volunteer ambulance driver in World War I. Five months after his assignment, however, he and a friend were interned in a prison camp by the French authorities on suspicion of espionage (an experience recounted in his novel, The Enormous Room) for his outspoken anti-war convictions. After the war, he settled into a life divided between houses in rural Connecticut and Greenwich Village, with frequent visits to Paris. He also traveled throughout Europe, meeting poets and artists, including Pablo Picasso, whose work he particularly admired.
In his work, Cummings experimented radically with form, punctuation, spelling and syntax, abandoning traditional techniques and structures to create a new, highly idiosyncratic means of poetic expression. Later in his career, he was often criticized for settling into his signature style and not pressing his work towards further evolution. Nevertheless, he attained great popularity, especially among young readers, for the simplicity of his language, 254
his playful mode and his attention to subjects such as war and sex. During his lifetime, Cummings received a number of honors, including an Academy of American Poets Fellowship, two Guggenheim Fellowships, the Charles Eliot Norton Professorship at Harvard, the Bollingen Prize in Poetry in 1958, and a Ford Foundation grant. At the time of his death, September 3, 1962, he was the second most widely read poet in the United States, after Robert Frost. He is buried in Forest Hills Cemetery in Boston, Massachusetts.
All which isnâ€™t singing is mere talking all which isn't singing is mere talking and all talking's talking to oneself (whether that oneself be sought or seeking master or disciple sheep or wolf) gush to it as diety or devil -toss in sobs and reasons threats and smiles name it cruel fair or blessed evilit is you (ne i)nobody else drive dumb mankind dizzy with haranguing -you are deafened every mother's sonall is merely talk which isn't singing and all talking's to oneself alone 255
but the very song of(as mountains feel and lovers)singing is silence
A Man Who Had Fallen Among Thieves a man who had fallen among thieves lay by the roadside on his back dressed in fifteenth rate ideas wearing a round jeer for a hat fate per a somewhat more than less emancipated evening had in return for consciousness endowed him with a changeless grin whereon a dozen staunch and Meal citizens did graze at pause then fired by hyper civic zeal sought newer pastures or because swaddled with a frozen brook of pinkest vomit out of eyes which noticed nobody he looked as if he did not care to rise one hand did nothing on the vest its wide flung friend clenched weakly dirt while the mute trouser fly confessed a button solemnly inert. Brushing from whom the stiffened puke 256
i put him all into my arms and staggered banged with terror through a million billion trillion stars
Anyone lived in a pretty how town
anyone lived in a pretty how town (with up so floating many bells down) spring summer autumn winter he sang his didn't he danced his did. Women and men (both little and small) cared for anyone not at all they sowed their isn't they reaped their same sun moon stars rain children guessed (but only a few and down they forgot as up they grew autumn winter spring summer) that noone loved him more by more when by now and tree by leaf she laughed his joy she cried his grief bird by snow and stir by still anyone's any was all to her someones married their everyones 257
laughed their cryings and did their dance (sleep wake hope and then)they said their nevers they slept their dream stars rain sun moon (and only the snow can begin to explain how children are apt to forget to remember with up so floating many bells down) one day anyone died i guess (and noone stooped to kiss his face) busy folk buried them side by side little by little and was by was all by all and deep by deep and more by more they dream their sleep noone and anyone earth by april with by spirit and if by yes. Women and men (both dong and ding) summer autumn winter spring reaped their sowing and went their came sun moon stars rain
A Clownâ€™s Smirk In The Mask of A Baboon a clown's smirk in the skull of a baboon (where once good lips stalked or eyes firmly stirred) my mirror gives me,on this afternoon; 258
i am a shape that can but eat and turd ere with the dirt death shall him vastly gird, a coward waiting clumsily to cease whom every perfect thing meanwhile doth miss; a hand's impression in an empty glove, a soon forgotten tune,a house for lease. I have never loved you dear as now i love behold this fool who,in the month of June, having certain stars and planets heard, rose very slowly in a tight balloon until the smallening world became absurd; him did an archer spy(whose aim had erred never)and by that little trick or this he shot the aeronaut down,into the abyss -and wonderfully i fell through the green groove of twilight,striking into many a piece. I have never loved you dear as now i love god's terrible face,brighter than a spoon, collects the image of one fatal word; so that my life(which liked the sun and the moon) resembles something that has not occurred: i am a birdcage without any bird, a collar looking for a dog,a kiss without lips;a prayer lacking any knees but something beats within my shirt to prove he is undead who,living,noone is. I have never loved you dear as now i love. Hell(by most humble me which shall increase) open thy fire!for i have had some bliss of one small lady upon earth above; 259
to whom i cry,remembering her face, i have never loved you dear as now i love
Dying Is Fine) but Death... dying is fine)but Death ?o baby i wouldn't like Death if Death were good: for when(instead of stopping to think)you begin to feel of it, dying 's miraculous why? be cause dying is perfectly natural; perfectly putting it mildly lively(but 260
Death is strictly scientific & artificial & evil & legal) we thank thee god almighty for dying (forgive us, o life! the sin of Death
I Have Found What You Are Like i have found what you are like the rain, (Who feathers frightened fields with the superior dust-of-sleep. wields easily the pale club of the wind and swirled justly souls of flower strike 261
the air in utterable coolness deeds of green thrilling light with thinned new fragile yellows lurch and. press -in the woods which stutter and sing And the coolness of your smile is stirring of birds between my arms; but i should rather than anything have(almost when hugeness will shut quietly)almost, your kiss
I Like My Body When It Is With Your
i like my body when it is with your body. It is so quite a new thing. 262
Muscles better and nerves more. i like your body. i like what it does, i like its hows. i like to feel the spine of your body and its bones, and the trembling -firm-smooth ness and which i will again and again and again kiss, i like kissing this and that of you, i like,, slowly stroking the, shocking fuzz of your electric fur, and what-is-it comes over parting flesh . . . . And eyes big Love-crumbs, and possibly i like the thrill of under me you quite so new
I Love You Much (most beautiful darling)
i love you much(most beautiful darling) more than anyone on the earth and i like you better than everything in the sky -sunlight and singing welcome your coming although winter may be everywhere with such a silence and such a darkness noone can quite begin to guess 263
(except my life)the true time of yearand if what calls itself a world should have the luck to hear such singing(or glimpse such sunlight as will leap higher than high through gayer than gayest someone's heart at your each nearness)everyone certainly would(my most beautiful darling)believe in nothing but love
I Carry Your Heart With Me i carry your heart with me(i carry it in my heart)i am never without it(anywhere i go you go,my dear;and whatever is done by only me is your doing,my darling) i fear no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true) and it's you are whatever a moon has always meant and whatever a sun will always sing is you here is the deepest secret nobody knows (here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud 264
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows higher than soul can hope or mind can hide) and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)
Somewhere I Have Never Traveled somewhere i have never traveled, gladly beyond any experience, your eyes have their silence: in your most frail gesture are things which enclose me, or which i cannot touch because they are too near your slightest look easily will unclose me though i have closed myself as fingers, you open always petal by petal myself as Spring opens (touching skill fully, mysteriously) her first rose or if your wish be to close me, I and my life will shut very beautifully, suddenly, as when the heart of this flower imagines the snow carefully everywhere descending; nothing which we are to perceive in this world equals the power of your intense fragility: whose texture compels me with the color of its countries, rendering death and forever with each breathing (i do not know what it is about you that closes 265
and opens; only something in me understands the voice of your eyes is deeper than all roses) nobody, not even the rain, has such small hands
DYLAN THOMAS (1914-1953) homas was born in Swansea, Wales, on October 27, 1914. After grammar school he moved to London where, in 1934, his first book of poetry, Eighteen Poems, was published. At this early age, he revealed unusual power in the use of poetic diction and imagery; the volume won him immediate critical acclaim. Thematically, these poems and virtually all that followed seem obscure because they contain elements of surrealism and personal fantasy. But the freshness and vitality of Thomas's language draw the reader into the poems and reveal the universality of the experiences with which they are concerned. This introspective tendency is less apparent in Deaths and Entrances (1946) and In Country Sleep (1951), which are generally regarded as containing his finest writing. Thomas's other works include Twenty-five Poems (1936) and The Map of Love (1939), containing both poetry and prose. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Dog (1940) is a group of autobiographical sketches, and Adventures in the Skin Trade (published posthumously, 1954) contains an unfinished novel and other prose pieces. During World War II (1939-1945) Thomas wrote scripts for documentary motion pictures.
After the war Thomas was a literary commentator for BBC radio. Under Milk Wood (published posthumously, 1954), a play for voices, was originally written for radio broadcast; when Thomas read it for its first public performance in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 1953, it was still unfinished. 267
The work became his most famous piece; it evokes the lives of the inhabitants of Llareggub, a small, Welsh seaside town. Noted for his readings of his own verse, Thomas became legendary in the United States, where he gave many lecture tours and gained a wide following. Nevertheless, his last years were shadowed by an increasingly tragic view of his own tempestuous life. His death in New York City on November 9, 1953, was brought on by alcoholism.
"I know we're not saints or virgins or lunatics; we know all the lust and lavatory jokes, and most of the dirty people; we can catch buses and count our change and cross the roads and talk real sentences. But our innocence goes awfully deep, and our discreditable secret is that we don't know anything at all, and our horrid inner secret is that we don't care that we don't." Dylan Thomas (1914-1953), Welsh poet.
A Refusal to Mourn the Death, by Fire, of a Child in London Never until the mankind making Bird beast and flower Fathering and all humbling darkness Tells with silence the last light breaking And the still hour Is come of the sea tumbling in harness And I must enter again the round Zion of the water bead And the synagogue of the ear of corn Shall I let pray the shadow of a sound Or sow my salt seed In the least valley of sackcloth to mourn The majesty and burning of the child's death. I shall not murder The mankind of her going with a grave truth Nor blaspheme down the stations of the breath With any further Elegy of innocence and youth. Deep with the first dead lies London's daughter, Robed in the long friends, The grains beyond age, the dark veins of her mother, Secret by the un mourning water Of the riding Thames. After the first death, there is no other
Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night Do not go gentle into that good night, Old age should burn and rave at close of day; Rage, rage against the dying of the light. Though wise men at their end know dark is right, Because their words had forked no lightning they Do not go gentle into that good night. Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay, Rage, rage against the dying of the light. Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight, And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way, Do not go gentle into that good night. Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay, Rage, rage against the dying of the light. And you, my father, there on the sad height, Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray. Do not go gentle into that good night. Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
Light Breaks Where No Sun Shines Light breaks where no sun shines; Where no sea runs, the waters of the heart Push in their tides; And, broken ghosts with glow-worms in their heads, The things of light File through the flesh where no flesh decks the bones. A candle in the thighs Warms youth and seed and burns the seeds of age; Where no seed stirs, The fruit of man unwrinkles in the stars, Bright as a fig; Where no wax is, the candle shows its hairs. Dawn breaks behind the eyes; From poles of skull and toe the windy blood Slides like a sea; Nor fenced, nor staked, the gushers of the sky Spout to the rod Divining in a smile the oil of tears. Night in the sockets rounds, Like some pitch moon, the limit of the globes; Day lights the bone; Where no cold is, the skinning gales unpin The winter's robes; The film of spring is hanging from the lids. Light breaks on secret lots, On tips of thought where thoughts smell in the rain; 271
When logics dies, The secret of the soil grows through the eye, And blood jumps in the sun; Above the waste allotments the dawn halts.
My Hero Bares His Nerves My hero bares his nerves along my wrist That rules from wrist to shoulder, Unpacks the head that, like a sleepy ghost, Leans on my mortal ruler, The proud spine spurning turn and twist. And these poor nerves so wired to the skull Ache on the lovelorn paper I hug to love with my unruly scrawl That utters all love hunger And tells the page the empty ill. My hero bares my side and sees his heart Tread, like a naked Venus, The beach of flesh, and wind her bloodred plait; Stripping my loin of promise, He promises a secret heat. He holds the wire from the box of nerves Praising the mortal error Of birth and death, the two sad knaves of thieves, And the hunger's emperor; He pulls the chain, the cistern moves. 272
The Force That Through Green Fuse Drives The Flower The force that through the green fuse drives the flower Drives my green age; that blasts the roots of trees Is my destroyer. And I am dumb to tell the crooked rose My youth is bent by the same wintry fever. The force that drives the water through the rocks Drives my red blood; that dries the mouthing streams Turns mine to wax. And I am dumb to mouth unto my veins How at the mountain spring the same mouth sucks. The hand that whirls the water in the pool Stirs the quicksand; that ropes the blowing wind Hauls my shroud sail. And I am dumb to tell the hanging man How of my clay is made the hangman's lime. The lips of time leech to the fountain head; Love drips and gathers, but the fallen blood Shall calm her sores. And I am dumb to tell a weather's wind How time has ticked a heaven round the stars.
And I am dumb to tell the lover's tomb How at my sheet goes the same crooked worm.
LANGSTON HUGHES (1902-1967) ames Langston Hughes was born February 1, 1902, in Joplin, Missouri. His parents divorced when he was a small child, and his father moved to Mexico. He was raised by his grandmother until he was thirteen, when he moved to Lincoln, Illinois, to live with his mother and her husband, before the family eventually settled in Cleveland, Ohio. It was in Lincoln, Illinois, that Hughes began writing poetry. Following graduation, he spent a year in Mexico and a year at Columbia University. During these years, he held odd jobs as an assistant cook, launderer, and a busboy, and traveled to Africa and Europe working as a seaman. In November 1924, he moved to Washington, D.C. Hughes's first book of poetry, The Weary Blues, was published by Alfred A. Knopf in 1926. He finished his college education at Lincoln University in Pennsylvania three years later. In 1930 his first novel, Not Without Laughter, won the Harmon gold medal for literature.
Hughes, who claimed Paul Lawrence Dunbar, Carl Sandburg, and Walt Whitman as his primary influences, is particularly known for his insightful, colorful portrayals of black life in America from the twenties through the sixties. He wrote novels, short stories and plays, as well as poetry, and is also known for his engagement with the world of jazz and the influence it had on his writing, as in "Montage of a Dream Deferred." His life and work were enormously important in shaping the artistic contributions of the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s. Unlike other notable black poets of the periodâ€”Claude McKay, Jean Toomer, and Countee Cullenâ€”Hughes refused to differentiate 275
between his personal experience and the common experience of black America. He wanted to tell the stories of his people in ways that reflected their actual culture, including both their suffering and their love of music, laughter, and language itself. Langston Hughes died of complications from prostate cancer in May 22, 1967, in New York. In his memory, his residence at 20 East 127th Street in Harlem, New York City, has been given landmark status by the New York City Preservation Commission, and East 127th Street has been renamed "Langston Hughes Place." In addition to leaving us a large body of poetic work, Hughes wrote eleven plays and countless works of prose, including the well-known â€œSimpleâ€? books: Simple Speaks His Mind, Simple Stakes a Claim ,Simple Takes a Wife, and Simple's Uncle Sam. He edited the anthologies The Poetry of the Negro and The Book of Negro Folklore, wrote an acclaimed autobiography (The Big Sea) and cowrote the play Mule Bone with Zora Neale Hurston. "Love is a naked shadow On a gnarled and naked tree." Langston Hughes (1902-1967), U.S. poet.
Dreams Hold fast to dreams For if dreams die Life is a broken-winged bird That cannot fly. Hold fast to dreams For when dreams go Life is a barren field Frozen with snow.
I, Too Sing America I, too, sing America. I am the darker brother. They send me to eat in the kitchen When company comes, But I laugh, And eat well, And grow strong. Tomorrow, I'll be at the table When company comes. Nobody'll dare Say to me, "Eat in the kitchen," Then. 277
Besides, They'll see how beautiful I am And be ashamed-I, too, am America.
Let America Be America Again Let America be America again. Let it be the dream it used to be. Let it be the pioneer on the plain Seeking a home where he himself is free. (America never was America to me.) Let America be the dream the dreamers dreamed-Let it be that great strong land of love Where never kings connive nor tyrants scheme That any man be crushed by one above. (It never was America to me.) O, let my land be a land where Liberty Is crowned with no false patriotic wreath, But opportunity is real, and life is free, Equality is in the air we breathe. (There's never been equality for me, 278
Nor freedom in this "homeland of the free.") Say, who are you that mumbles in the dark? And who are you that draws your veil across the stars? I am the poor white, fooled and pushed apart, I am the Negro bearing slavery's scars. I am the red man driven from the land, I am the immigrant clutching the hope I seek-And finding only the same old stupid plan Of dog eat dog, of mighty crush the weak. I am the young man, full of strength and hope, Tangled in that ancient endless chain Of profit, power, gain, of grab the land! Of grab the gold! Of grab the ways of satisfying need! Of work the men! Of take the pay! Of owning everything for one's own greed! I am the farmer, bondsman to the soil. I am the worker sold to the machine. I am the Negro, servant to you all. I am the people, humble, hungry, mean Hungry yet today despite the dream. Beaten yet today--O, Pioneers! I am the man who never got ahead, The poorest worker bartered through the years. Yet I'm the one who dreamt our basic dream In the Old World while still a serf of kings, Who dreamt a dream so strong, so brave, so true, That even yet its mighty daring sings In every brick and stone, in every furrow turned 279
That's made America the land it has become. O, I'm the man who sailed those early seas In search of what I meant to be my home-For I'm the one who left dark Ireland's shore, And Poland's plain, and England's grassy lea, And torn from Black Africa's strand I came To build a "homeland of the free." The free?
Life Is Fine I went down to the river, I set down on the bank. I tried to think but couldn't, So I jumped in and sank. I came up once and hollered! I came up twice and cried! If that water hadn't a-been so cold I might've sunk and died. But it was
Cold in that water!
It was cold!
I took the elevator Sixteen floors above the ground. I thought about my baby And thought I would jump down. 280
I stood there and I hollered! I stood there and I cried! If it hadn't a-been so high I might've jumped and died. But it was
High up there!
It was high!
So since I'm still here livin', I guess I will live on. I could've died for love-But for livin' I was born Though you may hear me holler, And you may see me cry-I'll be dogged, sweet baby, If you gonna see me die. Life is fine!
Fine as wine!
Life is fine!
Madame And Her Madame I worked for a woman, She wasn't mean-But she had a twelve-room House to clean. Had to get breakfast, 281
Dinner, and supper, too-Then take care of her children When I got through. Wash, iron, and scrub, Walk the dog around-It was too much, Nearly broke me down. I said, Madam, Can it be You trying to make a Pack-horse out of me? She opened her mouth. She cried, Oh, no! You know, Alberta, I love you so! I said, Madam, That may be true-But I'll be dogged If I love you!
Night Funeral In Harlem Night funeral In Harlem: Where did they get 282
Them two fine cars? Insurance man, he did not pay-His insurance lapsed the other day-Yet they got a satin box for his head to lay. Night funeral In Harlem: Who was it sent That wreath of flowers? Them flowers came from that poor boy's friends-They'll want flowers, too, When they meet their ends. Night funeral in Harlem: Who preached that Black boy to his grave? Old preacher man Preached that boy away-Charged Five Dollars His girl friend had to pay. Night funeral In Harlem: When it was all over 283
And the lid shut on his head and the organ had done played and the last prayers been said and six pallbearers Carried him out for dead And off down Lenox Avenue That long black hearse done sped, The street light At his corner Shined just like a tear-That boy that they was mournin' Was so dear, so dear To them folks that brought the flowers, To that girl who paid the preacher man-It was all their tears that made That poor boy's Funeral grand. Night funeral In Harlem.
Poâ€™ Boys Blues When I was home de Sunshine seemed like gold. When I was home de Sunshine seemed like gold. Since I come up North de Whole damn world's turned cold. I was a good boy, 284
Never done no wrong. Yes, I was a good boy, Never done no wrong, But this world is weary An' de road is hard an' long. I fell in love with A gal I thought was kind. Fell in love with A gal I thought was kind. She made me lose ma money An' almost lose ma mind. Weary, weary, Weary early in de morn. Weary, weary, Early, early in de morn. I's so weary I wish I'd never been born.
The Weary Blues Droning a drowsy syncopated tune, Rocking back and forth to a mellow croon, I heard a Negro play. Down on Lenox Avenue the other night By the pale dull pallor of an old gas light He did a lazy sway . . . He did a lazy sway . . . To the tune o' those Weary Blues. 285
With his ebony hands on each ivory key He made that poor piano moan with melody. O Blues! Swaying to and fro on his rickety stool He played that sad raggy tune like a musical fool. Sweet Blues! Coming from a black man's soul. O Blues! In a deep song voice with a melancholy tone I heard that Negro sing, that old piano moan-"Ain't got nobody in all this world, Ain't got nobody but ma self. I's gwine to quit ma frownin' And put ma troubles on the shelf." Thump, thump, thump, went his foot on the floor. He played a few chords then he sang some more-"I got the Weary Blues And I can't be satisfied. Got the Weary Blues And can't be satisfied-I ain't happy no mo' And I wish that I had died." And far into the night he crooned that tune. The stars went out and so did the moon. The singer stopped playing and went to bed While the Weary Blues echoed through his head. He slept like a rock or a man that's dead.
Theme For English B The instructor said,
Go home and write a page tonight. And let that page come out of you-Then, it will be true. I wonder if it's that simple? I am twenty-two, colored, born in Winston-Salem. I went to school there, then Durham, then here to this college on the hill above Harlem. I am the only colored student in my class. The steps from the hill lead down into Harlem, through a park, then I cross St. Nicholas, Eighth Avenue, Seventh, and I come to the Y, the Harlem Branch Y, where I take the elevator up to my room, sit down, and write this page: It's not easy to know what is true for you or me at twenty-two, my age. But I guess I'm what I feel and see and hear, Harlem, I hear you: hear you, hear me--we two--you, me, talk on this page. (I hear New York, too.) Me--who? Well, I like to eat, sleep, drink, and be in love. I like to work, read, learn, and understand life. I like a pipe for a Christmas present, or records--Bessie, bop, or Bach. I guess being colored doesn't make me not like the same things other folks like who are other races. So will my page be colored that I write? 287
Being me, it will not be white. But it will be a part of you, instructor. You are white-yet a part of me, as I am a part of you. That's American. Sometimes perhaps you don't want to be a part of me. Nor do I often want to be a part of you. But we are, that's true! As I learn from you, I guess you learn from me-although you're older--and white-and somewhat more free. This is my page for English B.
Will V-Day Be Me-Day Too Over There, World War II. Dear Fellow Americans, I write this letter Hoping times will be better When this war Is through. I'm a Tan-skinned Yank Driving a tank. I ask, WILL V-DAY BE ME-DAY, TOO? 288
I wear a U. S. uniform. I've done the enemy much harm, I've driven back The Germans and the Japs, From Burma to the Rhine. On every battle line, I've dropped defeat Into the Fascists' laps. I am a Negro American Out to defend my land Army, Navy, Air Corps-I am there. I take munitions through, I fight--or stevedore, too. I face death the same as you do Everywhere. I've seen my buddy lying Where he fell. I've watched him dying I promised him that I would try To make our land a land Where his son could be a man-And there'd be no Jim Crow birds Left in our sky. So this is what I want to know: When we see Victory's glow, Will you still let old Jim Crow Hold me back? When all those foreign folks who've waited-289
Italians, Chinese, Danes--are liberated. Will I still be ill-fated Because I'm black? Here in my own, my native land, Will the Jim Crow laws still stand? Will Dixie lynch me still When I return? Or will you comrades in arms From the factories and the farms, Have learned what this war Was fought for us to learn? When I take off my uniform, Will I be safe from harm-Or will you do me As the Germans did the Jews? When I've helped this world to save, Shall I still be color's slave? Or will Victory change Your antiquated views? You can't say I didn't fight To smash the Fascists' might. You can't say I wasn't with you in each battle. As a soldier, and a friend. When this war comes to an end, Will you herd me in a Jim Crow car Like cattle? Or will you stand up like a man At home and take your stand 290
For Democracy? That's all I ask of you. When we lay the guns away To celebrate Our Victory Day WILL V-DAY BE ME-DAY, TOO? That's what I want to know. Sincerely, GI Joe.
Dream Variations To fling my arms wide In some place of the sun, To whirl and to dance Till the white day is done. Then rest at cool evening Beneath a tall tree While night comes on gently, Dark like me-That is my dream! To fling my arms wide In the face of the sun, Dance! Whirl! Whirl! Till the quick day is done. Rest at pale evening . . . A tall, slim tree . . . Night coming tenderly Black like me. 291
GWENDOLYN BROOKS (1917-2000)
wendolyn Brooks was born in Topeka, Kansas, in 1917 and raised in Chicago. She is the author of more than twenty books of poetry, including Children Coming Home (The David Co., 1991); Blacks (1987); To Disembark (1981); The NearJohannesburg Boy and Other Poems (1986); Riot (1969); In the Mecca (1968); The Bean Eaters (1960); Annie Allen (1949), for which she received the Pulitzer Prize; and A Street in Bronzeville (1945). She also wrote numerous other books including a novel, Maud Martha (1953), and Report from Part One: An Autobiography (1972), and edited Jump Bad: A New Chicago Anthology (1971). In 1968 she was named Poet Laureate for the state of Illinois, and from 1985 -86 she was Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress. She also received an American Academy of Arts and Letters award, the Frost Medal, a National Endowment for the Arts award, the Shelley Memorial Award, and fellowships from The Academy of American Poets and the Guggenheim Foundation. She lived in Chicago until her death on December 3, 2000.
"It is brave to be involved, To be not fearful to be unresolved." Gwendolyn Brooks (b. 1917), U.S. poet. 292
The Bean Eaters They eat beans mostly, this old yellow pair. Dinner is a casual affair. Plain chipware on a plain and creaking wood, Tin flatware. Two who are Mostly Good. Two who have lived their day, But keep on putting on their clothes And putting things away. And remembering . . . Remembering, with twinklings and twinges, As they lean over the beans in their rented back room that is full of beads and receipts and dolls and cloths, tobacco crumbs, vases and fringes.
A Bronzeville Mother Loiters in Mississippi... From the first it had been like a Ballad. It had the beat inevitable. It had the blood. A wildness cut up, and tied in little bunches, Like the four-line stanzas of the ballads she had never quite understood--the ballads they had set her to, in school. Herself: the milk-white maid, the "maid mild" Of the ballad. Pursued By the Dark Villain. Rescued by the Fine Prince. The Happiness-Ever-After. 293
That was worth anything. It was good to be a "maid mild." That made the breath go fast. Her bacon burned. She Hastened to hide it in the step-on can, and Drew more strips from the meat case. The eggs and sourmilk biscuits Did well. She set out a jar Of her new quince preserve. . . . But there was something about the matter of the Dark Villain. He should have been older, perhaps. The hacking down of a villain was more fun to think about When his menace possessed undisputed breath, undisputed height, And best of all, when history was cluttered With the bones of many eaten knights and princesses. The fun was disturbed, then all but nullified When the Dark Villain was a blackish child Of Fourteen, with eyes still too young to be dirty, And a mouth too young to have lost every reminder Of its infant softness. That boy must have been surprised! For These were grown-ups. Grown-ups were supposed to be wise. And the Fine Prince--and that other--so tall, so broad, so Grown! Perhaps the boy had never guessed That the trouble with grown-ups was that under the magnificent shell of adulthood, just under, 294
Waited the baby full of tantrums. It occurred to her that there may have been something Ridiculous to the picture of the Fine Prince Rushing (rich with the breadth and height and Mature solidness whose lack, in the Dark Villain, was impressing her, Confronting her more and more as this first day after the trial And acquittal (wore on) rushing With his heavy companion to hack down (unhorsed) That little foe. So much had happened, she could not remember now what that foe had done Against her, or if anything had been done. The breaks were everywhere. That she could think Of no thread capable of the necessary Sew-work. She made the babies sit in their places at the table. Then, before calling HIM, she hurried To the mirror with her comb and lipstick. It was necessary To be more beautiful than ever. The beautiful wife. For sometimes she fancied he looked at her as though Measuring her. As if he considered, Had she been worth it? Had she been worth the blood, the cramped cries, the little stirring bravado, The gradual dulling of those Negro eyes, The sudden, overwhelming little-boyness in that barn? Whatever she might feel or half-feel, the lipstick necessity was something apart. HE must never conclude 295
That she had not been worth it. HE sat down, the Fine Prince, and Began buttering a biscuit. HE looked at HIS hands. More papers were in from the North, HE mumbled. More maddening headlines. With their pepper-words, "bestiality," and "barbarism," and "Shocking." The half-sneers HE had mastered for the trial worked across HIS sweet and pretty face. What HE'd like to do, HE explained, was kill them all. The time lost. The unwanted fame. Still, it had been fun to show those intruders A thing or two. To show that snappy-eyed mother, That sassy, Northern, brown-black-Nothing could stop Mississippi. HE knew that. Big fella Knew that. And, what was so good, Mississippi knew that. They could send in their petitions, and scar Their newspapers with bleeding headlines. Their governors Could appeal to Washington . . . "What I want," the older baby said, "is 'lasses on my jam." Whereupon the younger baby Picked up the molasses pitcher and threw The molasses in his brother's face. Instantly The Fine Prince leaned across the table and slapped The small and smiling criminal. She did not speak. When the HAND Came down and away, and she could look at her child, 296
At her baby-child, She could think only of blood. Surely her baby's cheek Had disappeared, and in its place, surely, Hung a heaviness, a lengthening red, a red that had no end. She shook her had. It was not true, of course. It was not true at all. The Child's face was as always, the Color of the paste in her paste-jar. She left the table, to the tune of the children's lamentations, which were shriller Than ever. She Looked out of a window. She said not a word. That Was one of the new Somethings-The fear, Tying her as with iron. Suddenly she felt his hands upon her. He had followed her To the window. The children were whimpering now. Such bits of tots. And she, their mother, Could not protect them. She looked at her shoulders, still Gripped in the claim of his hands. She tried, but could not resist the idea That a red ooze was seeping, spreading darkly, thickly, slowly, Over her white shoulders, her own shoulders, And over all of Earth and Mars. He whispered something to her, did the Fine Prince, something about love and night and intention. She heard no hoof-beat of the horse and saw no flash of the shining steel. 297
He pulled her face around to meet His, and there it was, close close, For the first time in all the days and nights. His mouth, wet and red, So very, very, very red, Closed over hers. Then a sickness heaved within her. The courtroom CocaCola, The courtroom beer and hate and sweat and drone, Pushed like a wall against her. She wanted to bear it. But his mouth would not go away and neither would the Decapitated exclamation points in that Other Woman's eyes. She did not scream. She stood there. But a hatred for him burst into glorious flower, And its perfume enclasped them--big, Bigger than all magnolias. The last bleak news of the ballad. The rest of the rugged music. The last quatrain.
The Mother Abortions will not let you forget. You remember the children you got that you did not get, The damp small pulps with a little or with no hair, The singers and workers that never handled the air. You will never neglect or beat Them, or silence or buy with a sweet. You will never wind up the sucking-thumb Or scuttle off ghosts that come. You will never leave them, controlling your luscious sigh, Return for a snack of them, with gobbling mother-eye. I have heard in the voices of the wind the voices of my dim killed children. I have contracted. I have eased My dim dears at the breasts they could never suck. I have said, Sweets, if I sinned, if I seized Your luck And your lives from your unfinished reach, If I stole your births and your names, Your straight baby tears and your games, Your stilted or lovely loves, your tumults, your marriages, aches, and your deaths, If I poisoned the beginnings of your breaths, Believe that even in my deliberateness I was not deliberate. Though why should I whine, Whine that the crime was other than mine?-Since anyhow you are dead. 299
Or rather, or instead, You were never made. But that too, I am afraid, Is faulty: oh, what shall I say, how is the truth to be said? You were born, you had body, you died. It is just that you never giggled or planned or cried. Believe me, I loved you all. Believe me, I knew you, though faintly, and I loved, I loved you All.
The Sonnet-Ballad Oh mother, mother, where is happiness? They took my lover's tallness off to war, Left me lamenting. Now I cannot guess What I can use an empty heart-cup for. He won't be coming back here any more. Some day the war will end, but, oh, I knew When he went walking grandly out that door That my sweet love would have to be untrue. Would have to be untrue. Would have to court Coquettish death, whose impudent and strange Possessive arms and beauty (of a sort) Can make a hard man hesitate--and change. And he will be the one to stammer, "Yes." Oh mother, mother, where is happiness?
A Sunset Of The City Already I am no longer looked at with lechery or love. My daughters and sons have put me away with marbles and dolls, Are gone from the house. My husband and lovers are pleasant or somewhat polite And night is night. It is a real chill out, The genuine thing. I am not deceived, I do not think it is still summer Because sun stays and birds continue to sing. It is summer-gone that I see, it is summer-gone. The sweet flowers indrying and dying down, The grasses forgetting their blaze and consenting to brown. It is a real chill out. The fall crisp comes I am aware there is winter to heed. There is no warm house That is fitted with my need. I am cold in this cold house this house Whose washed echoes are tremulous down lost halls. I am a woman, and dusty, standing among new affairs. I am a woman who hurries through her prayers. Tin intimations of a quiet core to be my Desert and my dear relief Come: there shall be such islanding from grief, 301
And small communion with the master shore. Twang they. And I incline this ear to tin, Consult a dual dilemma. Whether to dry In humming pallor or to leap and die. Somebody muffed it?? Somebody wanted to joke.
We Real Cool We real cool. We Left school. We Lurk late. We Strike straight. We Sing sin. We Thin gin. We Jazz June. We Die soon.
MAYA ANGELOU aya Angelou was born Marguerite Johnson in St. Louis, Missouri, on April 4, 1928. She grew up in St. Louis and Stamps, Arkansas. She is an author, poet, historian, songwriter, playwright, dancer, stage and screen producer, director, performer, singer, and civil rights activist. She is best known for her autobiographical books: All God's Children Need Traveling Shoes (1986), The Heart of a Woman (1981), Singin' and Swingin' and Gettin' Merry Like Christmas (1976), Gather Together in My Name (1974), and I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (1969), which was nominated for the National Book Award. Among her volumes of poetry are A Brave and Startling Truth (Random House, 1995), The Complete Collected Poems of Maya Angelou (1994), Wouldn't Take Nothing for My Journey Now (1993), Now Sheba Sings the Song (1987), I Shall Not Be Moved (1990), Shaker, Why Don't You Sing? (1983), Oh Pray My Wings Are Gonna Fit Me Well (1975), and Just Give Me a Cool Drink of Water 'fore I Diiie (1971), which was nominated for the Pulitzer prize. In 1959, at the request of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Maya Angelou became the northern coordinator for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. From 1961 to 1962 she was associate editor of The Arab Observer in Cairo, Egypt, the only English-language news weekly in the Middle East, and from 1964 to 1966 she was feature editor of the African Review in Accra, Ghana. She returned to the U.S. in 1974 and was
appointed by Gerald Ford to the Bicentennial Commission and later by Jimmy Carter to the Commission for International Woman of the Year. She accepted a lifetime appointment in 1981 as Reynolds Professor of American Studies at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. In 1993, Angelou wrote and delivered a poem, "On The Pulse of the Morning," at the inauguration for President Bill Clinton at his request. The first black woman director in Hollywood, Angelou has written, produced, directed, and starred in productions for stage, film, and television. In 1971, she wrote the original screenplay and musical score for the film Georgia, Georgia, and was both author and executive producer of a five-part television miniseries "Three Way Choice." She has also written and produced several prize-winning documentaries, including "AfroAmericans in the Arts," a PBS special for which she received the Golden Eagle Award. Maya Angelou was twice nominated for a Tony award for acting: once for her Broadway debut in Look Away (1973), and again for her performance in Roots (1977).
Alone Lying, thinking, Last night How to find my soul a home Where water is not thirsty And bread loaf is not stone I came up with one thing And I don't believe I'm wrong That nobody, But nobody Can make it out here alone. Alone, all alone Nobody, but nobody Can make it out here alone. There are some millionaires With money they can't use Their wives run round like banshees Their children sing the blues They've got expensive doctors To cure their hearts of stone. But nobody No, nobody Can make it out here alone. Alone, all alone Nobody, but nobody Can make it out here alone. Now if you listen closely I'll tell you what I know Storm clouds are gathering The wind is gonna blow 305
The race of man is suffering And I can hear the moan, 'Cause nobody, But nobody Can make it out here alone. Alone, all alone Nobody, but nobody Can make it out here alone.
Still I Rise You may write me down in history With your bitter, twisted lies, You may trod me in the very dirt But still, like dust, I'll rise. Does my sassiness upset you? Why are you beset with gloom? 'Cause I walk like I've got oil wells Pumping in my living room. Just like moons and like suns, With the certainty of tides, Just like hopes springing high, Still I'll rise. Did you want to see me broken? Bowed head and lowered eyes? 306
Shoulders falling down like teardrops, Weakened by my soulful cries? Does my haughtiness offend you? Don't you take it awful hard 'Cause I laugh like I've got gold mines Diggin' in my own backyard. You may shoot me with your words, You may cut me with your eyes, You may kill me with your hatefulness, But still, like air, I'll rise. Does my sexiness upset you? Does it come as a surprise That I dance like I've got diamonds At the meeting of my thighs? Out of the huts of history's shame I rise Up from a past that's rooted in pain I rise I'm a black ocean, leaping and wide, Welling and swelling I bear in the tide. Leaving behind nights of terror and fearI rise Into a daybreak that's wondrously clear I rise Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave, I am the dream and the hope of the slave. I rise I rise I rise. 307
I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings
The free bird leaps on the back of the win and floats downstream till the current ends and dips his wings in the orange sun rays and dares to claim the sky. But a bird that stalks down his narrow cage can seldom see through his bars of rage his wings are clipped and his feet are tied so he opens his throat to sing. The caged bird sings with fearful trill of the things unknown but longed for still and is tune is heard on the distant hillfor the caged bird sings of freedom The free bird thinks of another breeze an the trade winds soft through the sighing trees and the fat worms waiting on a dawn-bright lawn and he names the sky his own. 308
But a caged bird stands on the grave of dreams his shadow shouts on a nightmare scream his wings are clipped and his feet are tied so he opens his throat to sing The caged bird sings with a fearful trill of things unknown but longed for still and his tune is heard on the distant hill for the caged bird sings of freedom.
Insomniac There are some nights when sleep plays coy, aloof and disdainful. And all the wiles that I employ to win its service to my side are useless as wounded pride, and much more painful. 309
Men When I was young, I used to Watch behind the curtains As men walked up and down the street. Wino men, old men. Young men sharp as mustard. See them. Men are always Going somewhere. They knew I was there. Fifteen Years old and starving for them. Under my window, they would pauses, Their shoulders high like the Breasts of a young girl, Jacket tails slapping over Those behinds, Men. One day they hold you in the Palms of their hands, gentle, as if you Were the last raw egg in the world. Then They tighten up. Just a little. The First squeeze is nice. A quick hug. Soft into your defenselessness. A little More. The hurt begins. Wrench out a Smile that slides around the fear. When the Air disappears, Your mind pops, exploding fiercely, briefly, Like the head of a kitchen match. Shattered. It is your juice That runs down their legs. Staining their shoes. When the earth rights itself again, 310
And taste tries to return to the tongue, Your body has slammed shut. Forever. No keys exist. Then the window draws full upon Your mind. There, just beyond The sway of curtains, men walk. Knowing something. Going someplace. But this time, I will simply Stand and watch.
Million Man March Poem The night has been long, The wound has been deep, The pit has been dark, And the walls have been steep. Under a dead blue sky on a distant beach, I was dragged by my braids just beyond your reach. Your hands were tied, your mouth was bound, You couldn't even call out my name. You were helpless and so was I, But unfortunately throughout history You've worn a badge of shame. I say, the night has been long, The wound has been deep, 311
The pit has been dark And the walls have been steep. But today, voices of old spirit sound Speak to us in words profound, Across the years, across the centuries, Across the oceans, and across the seas. They say, draw near to one another, Save your race. You have been paid for in a distant place, The old ones remind us that slavery's chains Have paid for our freedom again and again. The night has been long, The pit has been deep, The night has been dark, And the walls have been steep. The hells we have lived through and live through still, Have sharpened our senses and toughened our will. The night has been long. This morning I look through your anguish Right down to your soul. I know that with each other we can make ourselves whole. I look through the posture and past your disguise, And see your love for family in your big brown eyes. I say, clap hands and let's come together in this meeting ground, I say, clap hands and let's deal with each other with love, I say, clap hands and let us get from the low road of indifference, 312
Clap hands, let us come together and reveal our hearts, Let us come together and revise our spirits, Let us come together and cleanse our souls, Clap hands, let's leave the preening And stop impostering our own history. Clap hands, call the spirits back from the ledge, Clap hands, let us invite joy into our conversation, Courtesy into our bedrooms, Gentleness into our kitchen, Care into our nursery. The ancestors remind us, despite the history of pain We are a going-on people who will rise again. And still we rise.
Momma Welfare Roll Her arms semaphore fat triangles, Pudgy hands bunched on layered hips Where bones idle under years of fatback And lima beans. Her jowls shiver in accusation Of crimes clichĂŠd by Repetition. Her children, strangers To childhood's toys, play Best the games of darkened doorways, Rooftop tag, and know the slick feel of Other people's property. 313
Too fat to whore, Too mad to work, Searches her dreams for the Lucky sign and walks bare-handed Into a den of bereaucrats for Her portion. 'They don't give me welfare. I take it.'
Passing Time Your skin like dawn Mine like musk One paints the beginning of a certain end. The other, the end of a sure beginning.
Phenomenal Woman Pretty women wonder where my secret lies. I'm not cute or built to suit a fashion model's size But when I start to tell them, 314
They think I'm telling lies. I say, It's in the reach of my arms The span of my hips, The stride of my step, The curl of my lips. I'm a woman Phenomenally. Phenomenal woman, That's me. I walk into a room Just as cool as you please, And to a man, The fellows stand or Fall down on their knees. Then they swarm around me, A hive of honey bees. I say, It's the fire in my eyes, And the flash of my teeth, The swing in my waist, And the joy in my feet. I'm a woman Phenomenally. Phenomenal woman, That's me. Men themselves have wondered What they see in me. They try so much But they can't touch My inner mystery. 315
When I try to show them They say they still can't see. I say, It's in the arch of my back, The sun of my smile, The ride of my breasts, The grace of my style. I'm a woman Phenomenally. Phenomenal woman, That's me. Now you understand Just why my head's not bowed. I don't shout or jump about Or have to talk real loud. When you see me passing It ought to make you proud. I say, It's in the click of my heels, The bend of my hair, the palm of my hand, The need of my care, 'Cause I'm a woman Phenomenally. Phenomenal woman, That's me.
Refusal Beloved, In what other lives or lands Have I known your lips Your Hands Your Laughter brave Irreverent. Those sweet excesses that I do adore. What surety is there That we will meet again, On other worlds some Future time undated. I defy my body's haste. Without the promise Of one more sweet encounter I will not deign to die.
Remembrance Your hands easy weight, teasing the bees hived in my hair, your smile at the slope of my cheek. On the occasion, you press above me, glowing, spouting readiness, mystery rapes my reason 317
When you have withdrawn your self and the magic, when only the smell of your love lingers between my breasts, then, only then, can I greedily consume your presence.
The Detached We die, Welcoming Bluebeards to our darkening closets, Stranglers to our outstretched necks, Stranglers, who neither care nor care to know that DEATH IS INTERNAL. We pray, Savoring sweet the teethed lies, Bellying the grounds before alien gods, Gods, who neither know nor wish to know that HELL IS INTERNAL. We love, Rubbing the nakednesses with gloved hands, Inverting our mouths in tongued kisses, Kisses that neither touch nor 318
care to touch if LOVE IS INTERNAL.
The Lesson I keep on dying again. Veins collapse, opening like the Small fists of sleeping Children. Memory of old tombs, Rotting flesh and worms do Not convince me against The challenge. The years And cold defeat live deep in Lines along my face. They dull my eyes, yet I keep on dying, Because I love to live.
The Rock Cries Out To Us Today A Rock, A River, A Tree Hosts to species long since departed, Mark the mastodon. The dinosaur, who left dry tokens Of their sojourn here On our planet floor, Any broad alarm of their of their hastening doom Is lost in the gloom of dust and ages. But today, the Rock cries out to us, clearly, forcefully, Come, you may stand upon my 320
Back and face your distant destiny, But seek no haven in my shadow. I will give you no hiding place down here. You, created only a little lower than The angels, have crouched too long in The bruising darkness, Have lain too long Face down in ignorance. Your mouths spelling words Armed for slaughter. The rock cries out today, you may stand on me, But do not hide your face. Across the wall of the world, A river sings a beautiful song, Come rest here by my side. Each of you a bordered country, Delicate and strangely made proud, Yet thrusting perpetually under siege. Your armed struggles for profit Have left collars of waste upon My shore, currents of debris upon my breast. Yet, today I call you to my riverside, If you will study war no more. Come, clad in peace and I will sing the songs The Creator gave to me when I And the tree and stone were one. Before cynicism was a bloody sear across your brow And when you yet knew you still knew nothing. The river sings and sings on. There is a true yearning to respond to The singing river and the wise rock. So say the Asian, the Hispanic, the Jew, The African and Native American, the Sioux, 321
The Catholic, the Muslim, the French, the Greek, The Irish, the Rabbi, the Priest, the Sheikh, The Gay, the Straight, the Preacher, The privileged, the homeless, the teacher. They hear. They all hear The speaking of the tree. Today, the first and last of every tree Speaks to humankind. Come to me, here beside the river. Plant yourself beside me, here beside the river. Each of you, descendant of some passed on Traveller, has been paid for. You, who gave me my first name, You Pawnee, Apache and Seneca, You Cherokee Nation, who rested with me, Then forced on bloody feet, Left me to the employment of other seekers-Desperate for gain, starving for gold. You, the Turk, the Swede, the German, the Scot... You the Ashanti, the Yoruba, the Kru, Bought, sold, stolen, arriving on a nightmare Praying for a dream. Here, root yourselves beside me. I am the tree planted by the river, Which will not be moved. I, the rock, I the river, I the tree I am yours--your passages have been paid. Lift up your faces, you have a piercing need For this bright morning dawning for you. History, despite its wrenching pain, Cannot be unlived, and if faced with courage, Need not be lived again. Lift up your eyes upon 322
The day breaking for you. Give birth again To the dream. Women, children, men, Take it into the palms of your hands. Mold it into the shape of your most Private need. Sculpt it into The image of your most public self. Lift up your hearts. Each new hour holds new chances For new beginnings. Do not be wedded forever To fear, yoked eternallyTo brutishness. The horizon leans forward, Offering you space to place new steps of change. Here, on the pulse of this fine day You may have the courage To look up and out upon me, The rock, the river, the tree, your country. No less to Midas than the mendicant. No less to you now than the mastodon then. Here on the pulse of this new day You may have the grace to look up and out And into your sister's eyes, Into your brother's face, your country And say simply Very simply With hope Good morning.
They went home
They went home and told their wives, that never once in all their lives, had they known a girl like me, But... They went home. They said my house was licking clean, no word I spoke was ever mean, I had an air of mystery, But... They went home. My praises were on all men's lips, they liked my smile, my wit, my hips, they'd spend one night, or two or three. But...
Touched By An Angel We, unaccustomed to courage exiles from delight live coiled in shells of loneliness 324
until love leaves its high holy temple and comes into our sight to liberate us into life. Love arrives and in its train come ecstasies old memories of pleasure ancient histories of pain. Yet if we are bold, love strikes away the chains of fear from our souls. We are weaned from our timidity In the flush of love's light we dare be brave And suddenly we see that love costs all we are and will ever be. Yet it is only love which sets us free.
Weekend Glory Some clichty folks don't know the facts, posin' and preenin' and puttin' on acts, stretchin' their backs. 325
They move into condos up over the ranks, pawn their souls to the local banks. Buying big cars they can't afford, ridin' around town actin' bored. If they want to learn how to live life right they ought to study me on Saturday night. My job at the plant ain't the biggest bet, but I pay my bills and stay out of debt. I get my hair done for my own self's sake, so I don't have to pick and I don't have to rake. Take the church money out and head cross town to my friend girl's house where we plan our round. We meet our men and go to a joint where the music is blue and to the point. Folks write about me. They just can't see how I work all week 326
at the factory. Then get spruced up and laugh and dance And turn away from worry with sassy glance. They accuse me of livin' from day to day, but who are they kiddin'? So are they. My life ain't heaven but it sure ain't hell. I'm not on top but I call it swell if I'm able to work and get paid right and have the luck to be Black on a Saturday night.
When you come When you come to me, unbidden, Beckoning me To long-ago rooms, Where memories lie. Offering me, as to a child, an attic, Gatherings of days too few. 327
Baubles of stolen kisses. Trinkets of borrowed loves. Trunks of secret words, I CRY.
Woman Work I've got the children to tend The clothes to mend The floor to mop The food to shop Then the chicken to fry The baby to dry I got company to feed The garden to weed I've got shirts to press The tots to dress The can to be cut I gotta clean up this hut Then see about the sick And the cotton to pick. Shine on me, sunshine Rain on me, rain Fall softly, dewdrops And cool my brow again. Storm, blow me from here 328
With your fiercest wind Let me float across the sky 'Til I can rest again. Fall gently, snowflakes Cover me with white Cold icy kisses and Let me rest tonight. Sun, rain, curving sky Mountain, oceans, leaf and stone Star shine, moon glow You're all that I can call my own.
Tupac Amaru Shakur (1971-1996)
And 2morrow Today is filled with anger fueled with hidden hate scared of being outcast afraid of common fate Today is built on tragedies which no one wants 2 face nightmares 2 humanities and morally disgraced Tonight is filled with rage violence in the air children bred with ruthlessness because no one at home cares Tonight I lay my head down but the pressure never stops knawing at my sanity content when I am dropped But 2morrow I c change a chance 2 build a new Built on spirit intent of Heart and ideals based on truth and tomorrow I wake with second wind and strong because of pride 2 know I fought with all my heart 2 keep my 330
They could never understand what u set out 2 do instead they chose 2 ridicule u when u got weak they loved the sight of your dimming and flickering starlight How could they understand what was so intricate 2 be loved by so many, so intimate they wanted 2 c your lifeless corpse this way u could not alter the course of ignorance that they have set 2 make my people forget what they have done for much 2 long 2 just forget and carry on I had loved u forever because of who u r and now I mourn our fallen star
I Cry Sometimes when I'm alone I Cry, Cause I am on my own. The tears I cry are bitter and warm. They flow with life but take no form I Cry because my heart is torn. I find it difficult to carry on. If I had an ear to confide in, I would cry among my treasured friend, but who do you know that stops that long, to help another carry on. The world moves fast and it would rather pass by. Then to stop and see what makes one cry, so painful and sad. And sometimes... I Cry and no one cares about why.
In The Depths Of Solitude i exist in the depths of solitude pondering my true goal trying 2 find peace of mind and still preserve my soul constantly yearning 2 be accepted and from all receive respect never comprising but sometimes risky and that is my only regret a young heart with an old soul how can there be peace how can i be in the depths of solitude when there r 2 inside of me this duo within me causes the perfect opportunity 2 learn and live twice as fast as those who accept simplicity
Liberty Needs Glasses excuse me but lady liberty needs glasses and so does Mrs justice by her side both the broads r blind as bats stumbling thru the system justice bumbed into Mutulu and trippin on Geronimo Pratt but stepped right over Oliver 333
and his crooked partner Ronnie justice stubbed her big toe on Mandela and liberty was misquoted by the Indians slavery was a learning phase forgotten with out a verdict while justice is on a rampage 4 endangered surviving black males i mean really if anyone really valued life and cared about the masses theyâ€™d take em both 2 pen optical and get 2 pair of glasses
The Rose That Grew From Concrete Did you hear about the rose that grew from a crack in the concrete? Proving nature's law is wrong it learned to walk with out having feet. Funny it seems, but by keeping it's dreams, it learned to breathe fresh air. Long live the rose that grew from concrete when no one else ever cared.
"Writers don't write from experience, although many are hesitant to admit that they don't. ...If you wrote from experience, you'd get maybe one book, maybe three poems. Writers write from empathy." Nikki Giovanni (b. 1943), U.S. poet.
Knoxville Tennessee I always like summer Best you can eat fresh corn From daddy's garden And okra And greens And cabbage And lots of Barbeque And buttermilk And homemade ice-cream At the church picnic And listen to Gospel music 335
Outside At the church Homecoming And go to the mountains with Your grandmother And go barefooted And be warm All the time Not only when you go to bed And sleep
Paul Laurence Dunbar (1872-1904) Common Things I like to hear of wealth and gold, And El Doradoes in their glory; I like for silks and satins bold To sweep and rustle through a story. The nightingale is sweet of song; The rare exotic smells divinely; And knightly men who stride along, The role heroic carry finely. But then, upon the other hand, Our minds have got a way of running To things that aren't quite so grand, Which, maybe, we are best in shunning. For some of us still like to see The poor man in his dwelling narrow, The hollyhock, the bumblebee, The meadow lark, and chirping sparrow. We like the man who soars and sings With high and lofty inspiration; But he who sings of common things Shall always share our admiration.
Confirmation He was a poet who wrote clever verses, And folks said he had a fine poetical taste; But his father, a practical farmer, accused him Of letting the strength of his arm go to waste. He called on his sweetheart each Saturday evening, As pretty a maiden as ever man faced, And there he confirmed the old man's accusation By letting the strength of his arm go to waist.
Distinction "I am but clay," the sinner plead, Who fed each vain desire. "Not only clay," another said, "But worse, for thou art mire."
Encouraged Because you love me I have much achieved, Had you despised me then I must have failed, But since I knew you trusted and believed, I could not disappoint you and so prevailed.
If I Could But Forget If I could but forget The fullness of those first sweet days, When you burst sun-like thro' the haze Of unacquaintance, on my sight, And made the wet, gray day seem bright While clouds themselves grew fair to see. And since, no day is gray or wet But all the scene comes back to me, If I could but forget. If I could but forget How your dusk eyes look into mine, And how I thrilled as with strong wine Beneath your touch; while sped amain The quickened stream thro' ev'ry vein; How near my breath fell to a gasp, When for a space our fingers met In one electric vibrant clasp, If I could but forget. If I could but forget 339
The months of passion and of pain, And all that followed in their train-Rebellious thoughts that would arise, Rebellious tears that dimmed mine eyes, The prayers that I might set love's fire Aflame within your bosom yet-The death at last of that desire-If I could but forget.
Lifeâ€™s Tragedy It may be misery not to sing at all, And to go silent through the brimming day; It may be misery never to be loved, But deeper griefs than these beset the way. To sing the perfect song, And by a half-tone lost the key, There the potent sorrow, there the grief, The pale, sad staring of Life's Tragedy. To have come near to the perfect love, Not the hot passion of untempered youth, But that which lies aside its vanity, And gives, for thy trusting worship, truth. This, this indeed is to be accursed, For if we mortals love, or if we sing, 340
We count our joys not by what we have, But by what kept us from that perfect thing.
Signs Of The Times Air a-gittin' cool an' coolah, Frost a-comin' in de night, Hicka' nuts an' wa'nuts fallin', Possum keepin' out o' sight. Tu'key struttin' in de ba'nya'd, Nary a step so proud ez his; Keep on struttin', Mistah Tu'key, Yo' do' know whut time it is. Cidah press commence a-squeakin' Eatin' apples sto'ed away, Chillun swa'min' 'roun' lak ho'nets, Huntin' aigs ermung de hay. Mistah Tu'key keep on gobblin' At de geese a-flyin' souf, Oomph! dat bird do' know whut's comin'; Ef he did he'd shet his mouf. Pumpkin gittin' good an' yallah Mek me open up my eyes; Seems lak it's a-lookin' at me Jes' a-la'in' dah sayin' "Pies." Tu'key gobbler gwine 'roun' blowin', Gwine 'roun' gibbin' sass an' slack; Keep on talkin', Mistah Tu'key, 341
You ain't seed no almanac. Fa'mer walkin' th'oo de ba'nya'd Seein' how things is comin' on, Sees ef all de fowls is fatt'nin' -Good times comin' sho's you bo'n. Hyeahs dat tu'key gobbler braggin', Den his face break in a smile -Nebbah min', you sassy rascal, He's gwine nab you atter while. Choppin' suet in de kitchen, Stonin' raisins in de hall, Beef a-cookin' fu' de mince meat, Spices groun' -- I smell 'em all. Look hyeah, Tu'key, stop dat gobblin', You ain' luned de sense ob feah, You ol' fool, yo' naik's in dangah, Do' you know Thanksgibbin's hyeah?
Omar S. Brooks (1980-Pres) Poet, war veteran, father, activist, student, Omar was born in Washington, Pennsylvania on 02/29/1980. He started writing when he was seven. His influences are Langston Hughes, Paul Lawrence Dunbar, Gwendolyn Brooks, Edger Allen Poe, Emily Dickenson, Maya Angelou, Charles Bukowski, and Saul Williams. He performs spoken words poetry when time permits and often you'll see that influence in his writing. His styles are various stemming from the influences he has read or encountered ranging from free flowing to aggressive. He writes to help create awareness. He writes for more than himself in hope that one day his worlds will help change how the craft is viewed by readers of all ages. He is a student of poetry, a believer in positive energy, and a creator who loves to inspire and provoke. He writes to make change, motivate, and elevate readers to believe in hope. He is the everlasting dream of poor America. He believes that poetry can help an individual's mind, body, and soul.
â€œSpeak no more of impossible dreams, for we are the gift of impossible dreamers.â€? -O. S. Brooks 02-29-1980 - Pres
Le Villa De Nora In some ways I still see her wide blue eyes reflecting life. She'd call to me as the wind pulls at her sun dress orange in color. We'd walk down a dirt road toward Mt. Olive. She'd sing church songs to God in B minor. I'd hum along skipping flat stones off the water's edge. They'd kiss the adjacent shore with a slide and a plop. I felt important back then. When dandelions needed uprooted, and grapes needed gathered for sacramental wine. The old house aged like Grandma on our hill. We learned how to tempt the clouds into making it rain over her garden. Then walk a dirt road toward our salvation leaving the seedlings on their own. They gathered strength and feed the County. Grandma said God was always nearby, listening, watching, and sometimes partaking in our laughter I’d picture him push my flat stones farther then my throw could carry She’d smile and continue 'His eyes are on the sparrow' I’d hum along and caress the moment after. The summer weather welcomed her and I. I dream of Sundays in Jackson, Mississippi. A field of grapes as far as I could stretch from side to side, the smell of pecans fresh from the oven, the taste of life and how it all seemed so sweet, 344
the wind twisting grandmas bright orange sun dress, and the times I felt like God was walking with us.
Never Do Less She took me from hell to heaven, in less than seven days. I felt complete with her next to me, and couldn't get away. It was perfect how we stood together, facing the stormiest weather, We became love clouds, till, it rained forever. A word to the wise, I found love in her eyes, We didn't have much time. I didn't waste hers, and, she didn't waste mine. She taught me to never do less, a gift of the divine, Her subtle kiss left me a mess. Under her wraps, I felt weak at my best. Those thoughts I learned, where just an echo of hope. A word to the wise, men stood still when she spoke. My heart stood ready to love, and learn, and caress the pain away. 345
That summer, when the sun set day dreams into motion, I grew, becoming more than sun pressed dreams are made of Stronger--I believed more deeply that love existed Is worth the battle and shall return as a lasting memory Or in dreams deferred.
Kissing...Heaven To my star beneath your sky, do not just shine for me, For I believe your light was meant, For all the world to see.. I captivated all your warmth, and held it near my soul. Then told the moon, 'my thoughts are true, I'll never let her go.' I dared to dream, your days with me, and held you in my memories, of time where we stood, standing still, in love with all the simply things.' Like, Life. Like, 346
Love. To my star, your never far, as long as heaven's close.. For saintly prayers keep your love near, and drifting dreams a float. I captivated all you are, and held you with a kiss. Then told the moon, 'my thoughts are true, I'm learning what love is.' I dared to dream, your days with me, and held you in my memories, of time where we stood, standing still, in love with all the simply things.' Like, Life. Like, Love. To my star, as time moves on, it presses you from me, Just recall our morning bliss and precious memories. I captivated hope and found, that hope is not enough. For while I wait for your return, I'm missing you my love. I dared to dream, your days with me, and held you in my memories, 347
of time where we stood, standing still, in love with all the simply things.' Like, Life. Like, Love. To my star beneath your sky, do not just shine for me. For I believe your light was meant, For all the world to see.. But, missing you is so much pain, I try to gain my strength. Yet, what I find down deep inside, 'without you my world breaks' I tried to captivate your glow, and hold it in my palms, but, what I found that time around, 'is I could not hold on' I dared to dream, your days with me, and held you in my memories, of time where we stood standing still, in love with all the simply things. Like, Life. Like, Love
In You...My Strength In you... my bronze sunset life is brilliant once more smiles fill the day like sun rays and I... only a spectacle of light glow shining for you as if love, the reason I suffered has made good once again with my soul and all the past has faded in the distant memory of yesterday I love... till clouds fold still in the corners of my pocket and nights hold time in the gentle moments of our embrace I love... till mountains crumble from the passion of my speech and the morning caresses thoughts of daydreams Where I... a sand grain thus moved fall from grace till morning toward you my everything my more now than ever needed sun rise my strength In you... last night I died 349
Speak Easy Tell the wind I loved you with every breath I owned Let her know how I missed you when you were far from home Tell the wind I loved your soft caress at dawn Tell her how I missed you when ever you were gone Tell the wind I love the simple things you do Tell her how I was changed the day that I met you Tell the wind that I meant well with ever word I spoke Tell her how it all was yours with ever word I wrote If by chance in morning you are somehow here do not say one single word my kiss will show I care Ask the wind for patience for time to slowly heal our mixed interpretations the reason hearts grew ill 350
Speak easy of day dreams where struggle finds us room to cast aside the worst things and let our romance bloom
The City and The River The city and the river were best friends. They grew up as best friends do Summer kept them warm at night Winter kept them icy-blue Fifty years of smiles and tears half their time was spent looking back on childhood days wondering where they went. All was well within their bond until the sun was gone then it began to rain for weeks the river deep moved-on. When the clouds above let up and flood waters could sink the river returned back to her home the city stayed to weep. All her thoughts were foreign plots to stop the rivers rinse. They crept along each others walls and havenâ€™t spoken since.
Build Me Father God I come to you and pray on bended knee, that in my time I've learned to shine, and shared with you my dreams, That Jesus lives and always is, the light in side of me. That in my lack of perfect-ness, I'd act on your decree. That positive not negative will always act out me. That your regard will keep my heart, on track where it should be. Yet, If I fall as angels do, and time takes you from me, I'll struggle till the end of time, to reach the light I seek. -Father build me as if my limbs are made of holy stone, and brick by brick you cast my soul and never let me go. -Father build me as if my life and shining light is in your hands, I'll firmly stand your sculptured man and carry out your plan. -Father build me as if the mortarâ€™s made from heavenâ€™s might, and after life my after light is seen to your delight. I pray as water washes me eliminating sin, 352
and spoken words are thrown above to bless the child within, I'd kiss the night-line sixty times and sing your earthly hymn and always pray my lasting days the same when times are grim. If that will free the soul in me to keep the path you laid, Iâ€™d never walk far from your path or ever go a stray. If Jesus Christ is in my life then how do I repay, the one who woke me up and got me going on my way. I talk as if the words I spit are gift and poetry, is gift along with all I see and love and live, and breath. Yet, on my own I do not want or do not need to be, the person that I thought the world had wanted best to see, Some silly facts are still in tact and look to set love free. I chased away the pain today with memories I keep of mornings were the good was plenty-full inside of me. And all I wished my single star to do was let me lead, a life alone or in my heaven's grace of company, I thank the lord with prayer and leave my faith to destiny, but men can fall as many do and some can rarely dream, of life without the meaning still that placed the sun by sea. If getting back leads them off track than all the world will ease, it's every pain and all the rain will wash like this on me, 353
-Father build me as if my limbs are formed and made of rock, and Jesus Christ is in my life and life will never stop. -Father build me as if the mortarâ€™s made from heavens strength, and all I need is steady words to help me save this place. -Father build me as if the world is ready for a change, and I am there to calm their fear and lead them back to grace. But demons roam when your on top and suck the life from you, and never stop until you rock them off the things you do. In there defense we're weak when sin is all that we pursue, but study fast and you'll get past the test in front of you. -Father build us as if our limbs are formed and framed from rock, and Jesus Christ is in our life and life will never stop. -Father build us as if the mortarâ€™s made from heaven's strength, and all we need to some degree is love, and prayer, and faith. -Father build us as if the world is ready for a change, and day by day the change is made then builds us up again. 354
If only for the moment Dedicated to Nathan O. During times beneath the heavens few are seldom blessed to see angels move away the stone to grant a star its will to be Through belief he made a difference In our hearts to some degree Held thy glory in an instance to become a friend indeed Heaven gave our star its twinkle If only for the moment we'd, kiss the moon goodbye my love in hope to feel more free. So, when the night line stained with darkness casts a brilliant shining star we'll remember God is watching next to you, our love, not far.
Sleep As Though Your Dreams Are Wings
I love the way you move my heart Itâ€™s stronger when your near I'd give up nearly everything To be with you my dear I'd ask a thousand times or more Just to hear your tone If love was on your mind like mine When you are far from home Summer isn't warm enough Without you by my side I miss your smile when you are gone As if my soul has died I long to see your face again For now Iâ€™m left empty So, sleep well love, as if your dreams Will bring you close to me
If Not Tomorrow...Gentle Night If not tomorrow...gentle night, when the snow melts and my struggles return then when, will I learn to make the most of life and let all else go letting forever find itself in my soul
Our dream of yesterday Let's dream until we get there, And carry hope with us, We'll kiss the skyline after, We taught the world to trust. Let's believe until we get there, And play out freedom's song, Till mornings cradle laughter, While faith and love hold strong. Let's rise until we wake the day, With cheers of how we've came, To call this land we've always loved, Our dream of yesterday. Let's reach until we get there, 357
For passionate we've made, A stand as pure as symphonies, As warm as heaven's rays. Let's love until we get there, Holding faith within our hands, We'll reach and teach each other, To help God heal this land. Let's rise until we wake the day, With cheers of how we've came, To call this land we've always loved, Our dream of yesterday. Let's hope until we get there, That time will place with care, A chance to make a difference, A difference while we're here. Let's trust until we get there, Let's together learn to shine, And caress the moment after, We've reached our goals in mind. Let's rise until we wake the day, With cheers of how we've came, To call this land we've always loved. Our dream of yesterday.
Radiant Grandma, Mother, And Child How long has it been since youâ€™ve looked at the stars? For days Iâ€™ve gazed in wonder Questioning life Getting no answers Yet, satisfied I try, with my out stretched arms to grasp divinity Grandma said...divinity is within me I remember her smile like yesterday Eyes yellow with age Skin telling her story Each wrinkle representing a struggle Her church song sung with wisdom She stopped going later in life Yet, always remained close to God Some how, even angels have trouble near Pittsburgh I looked at my aged hands and swayed letting the wind, like grandma, kiss me Hearing her voice amongst the stars they shine for us to remember to keep on with our dreams while, continuing to do right by God, mother, and family And I shine for her I shine for all to see That there is hope for the hungry That the soul feels remarkable once freed So, when the night line stained with darkness dims to an even glow the world will know, 359
that divinity, her mystic wisdom is radiant with in me.
Philip Larkin (1922-1985)
hilip Larkin was born in 1922 in Coventry, England. He attended St. John's College, Oxford.
His first book of poetry, The North Ship, was published in 1945 and, though not particularly strong on its own, is notable insofar as certain passages foreshadow the unique sensibility and maturity that characterizes his later work. In 1946, Larkin discovered the poetry of Thomas Hardy and became a great admirer of his poetry, learning from Hardy how to make the commonplace and often dreary details of his life the basis for extremely tough, unsparing, and memorable poems. With his second volume of poetry, The Less Deceived (1955), Larkin became the preeminent poet of his generation, and a leading voice of what came to be called 'The Movement', a group of young English writers who rejected the prevailing fashion for neo-Romantic writing in the style of Yeats and Dylan Thomas. Like Hardy, Larkin focused on intense personal emotion but strictly avoided sentimentality or self-pity. In 1964, he confirmed his reputation as a major poet with the publication of The Whitsun Weddings, and again in 1974 with High Windows: collections whose searing, often mocking, wit does not conceal the poet's dark vision and underlying obsession with universal themes of mortality, love, and human solitude. Deeply anti-social and a great lover (and published critic) of American jazz, Larkin never married and conducted an 361
uneventful life as a librarian in the provincial city of Hull, where he died in 1985. ..
At Grass The eye can hardly pick them out From the cold shade they shelter in, Till wind distresses tail and mane; Then one crops grass, and moves about - The other seeming to look on And stands anonymous again Yet fifteen years ago, perhaps Two dozen distances sufficed To fable them : faint afternoons Of Cups and Stakes and Handicaps, Whereby their names were artificed To inlay faded, classic Junes Silks at the start : against the sky Numbers and parasols : outside, Squadrons of empty cars, and heat, And littered grass : then the long cry Hanging unhushed till it subside To stop-press columns on the street. Do memories plague their ears like flies? They shake their heads. Dusk brims the shadows. Summer by summer all stole away, 362
The starting-gates, the crowd and cries All but the unmolesting meadows. Almanacked, their names live; they Have slipped their names, and stand at ease, Or gallop for what must be joy, And not a fieldglass sees them home, Or curious stop-watch prophesies : Only the grooms, and the groom's boy, With bridles in the evening come.
Aubade I work all day, and get half-drunk at night. Waking at four to soundless dark, I stare. In time the curtain-edges will grow light. Till then I see what's really always there: Unresting death, a whole day nearer now, Making all thought impossible but how And where and when I shall myself die. Arid interrogation: yet the dread Of dying, and being dead, Flashes afresh to hold and horrify. The mind blanks at the glare. Not in remorse - The good not done, the love not given, time Torn off unused - nor wretchedly because An only life can take so long to climb Clear of its wrong beginnings, and may never; But at the total emptiness for ever, 363
The sure extinction that we travel to And shall be lost in always. Not to be here, Not to be anywhere, And soon; nothing more terrible, nothing more true. This is a special way of being afraid No trick dispels. Religion used to try, That vast, moth-eaten musical brocade Created to pretend we never die, And specious stuff that says No rational being Can fear a thing it will not feel, not seeing That this is what we fear - no sight, no sound, No touch or taste or smell, nothing to think with, Nothing to love or link with, The anasthetic from which none come round. And so it stays just on the edge of vision, A small, unfocused blur, a standing chill That slows each impulse down to indecision. Most things may never happen: this one will, And realization of it rages out In furnace-fear when we are caught without People or drink. Courage is no good: It means not scaring others. Being brave Lets no one off the grave. Death is no different whined at than withstood. Slowly light strengthens, and the room takes shape. It stands plain as a wardrobe, what we know, Have always known, know that we can't escape, Yet can't accept. One side will have to go. Meanwhile telephones crouch, getting ready to ring In locked-up offices, and all the uncaring Intricate rented world begins to rouse. 364
The sky is white as clay, with no sun. Work has to be done. Postmen like doctors go from house to house.
Breadfruit Boys dream of native girls who bring breadfruit, Whatever they are, As bribes to teach them how to execute Sixteen sexual positions on the sand; This makes them join (the boys) the tennis club, Jive at the Mecca, use deodorants, and On Saturdays squire ex-schoolgirls to the pub By private car. Such uncorrected visions end in church Or registrar: A mortgaged semi- with a silver birch; Nippers; the widowed mum; having to scheme With money; illness; age. So absolute Maturity falls, when old men sit and dream Of naked native girls who bring breadfruit Whatever they are.
Days What are days for? Days are where we live. They come, they wake us Time and time over. They are to be happy in: Where can we live but days? Ah, solving that question Brings the priest and the doctor In their long coats Running over the fields.
Deception "Of course I was drugged, and so heavily I did not regain consciousness until the next morning. I was horrified to discover that I had been ruined, and for some days I was inconsolable, and cried like a child to be killed or sent back to my aunt." --Mayhew, London Labour and the London Poor Even so distant, I can taste the grief, 366
Bitter and sharp with stalks, he made you gulp. The sun's occasional print, the brisk brief Worry of wheels along the street outside Where bridal London bows the other way, And light, unanswerable and tall and wide, Forbids the scar to heal, and drives Shame out of hiding. All the unhurried day, Your mind lay open like a drawer of knives. Slums, years, have buried you. I would not dare Console you if I could. What can be said, Except that suffering is exact, but where Desire takes charge, readings will grow erratic? For you would hardly care That you were less deceived, out on that bed, Than he was, stumbling up the breathless stair To burst into fulfillment's desolate attic.
Dublinesque Down stucco side streets, Where light is pewter And afternoon mist Brings lights on in shops Above race-guides and rosaries, A funeral passes. The hearse is ahead, But after there follows 367
A troop of streetwalkers In wide flowered hats, Leg-of-mutton sleeves, And ankle-length dresses. There is an air of great friendliness, As if they were honoring One they were fond of; Some caper a few steps, Skirts held skillfully (Someone claps time), And of great sadness also. As they wend away A voice is heard singing Of Kitty, or Katy, As if the name meant once All love, all beauty.
Faith Healing Slowly the women file to where he stands Upright in rimless glasses, silver hair, Dark suit, white collar. Stewards tirelessly Persuade them onwards to his voice and hands, Within whose warm spring rain of loving care Each dwells some twenty seconds. Now, dear child, What's wrong, the deep American voice demands, And, scarcely pausing, goes into a prayer Directing God about this eye, that knee. Their heads are clasped abruptly; then, exiled 368
Like losing thoughts, they go in silence; some Sheepishly stray, not back into their lives Just yet; but some stay stiff, twitching and loud With deep hoarse tears, as if a kind of dumb And idiot child within them still survives To re-awake at kindness, thinking a voice At last calls them alone, that hands have come To lift and lighten; and such joy arrives Their thick tongues blot, their eyes squeeze grief, a crowd Of huge unheard answers jam and rejoice What's wrong! Moustached in flowered frocks they shake: By now, all's wrong. In everyone there sleeps A sense of life lived according to love. To some it means the difference they could make By loving others, but across most it sweeps As all they might have done had they been loved. That nothing cures. An immense slackening ache, As when, thawing, the rigid landscape weeps, Spreads slowly through them - that, and the voice above Saying Dear child, and all time has disproved.
For Sidney Bechet That note you hold, narrowing and rising, shakes Like New Orleans reflected on the water, 369
And in all ears appropriate falsehood wakes, Building for some a legendary Quarter Of balconies, flower-baskets and quadrilles, Everyone making love and going shares-Oh, play that thing! Mute glorious Storyvilles Others may license, grouping around their chairs Sporting-house girls like circus tigers (priced Far above rubies) to pretend their fads, While scholars manquĂŠs nod around unnoticed Wrapped up in personnels like old plaids. On me your voice falls as they say love should, Like an enormous yes. My Crescent City Is where your speech alone is understood, And greeted as the natural noise of good, Scattering long-haired grief and scored pity.
Friday Night at the Royal Station Hotel Light spreads darkly downwards from the high Clusters of lights over empty chairs That face each other, coloured differently. Through open doors, the dining-room declares 370
A larger loneliness of knives and glass And silence laid like carpet. A porter reads An unsold evening paper. Hours pass, And all the salesmen have gone back to Leeds, Leaving full ashtrays in the Conference Room. In shoeless corridors, the lights burn. How Isolated, like a fort, it is The headed paper, made for writing home (If home existed) letters of exile: Now Night comes on. Waves fold behind villages.
He Hears That His Beloved Has Become Engaged For C. G. B. When she came on, you couldn't keep your seat; Fighting your way up through the orchestra, Tup-heavy bumpkin, you confused your feet, Fell in the drum - how we went ha ha ha! But once you gained her side and started waltzing We all began to cheer; the way she leant Her cheek on yours and laughed was so exalting We thought you were stooging for the management. But no. What you did, any of us might. And saying so I see our difference: Not your aplomb (I used mine to sit tight), But fancying you improve her. Where's the sense 371
In saying love, but meaning indifference ? You'll only change her. Still, I'm sure you're right.
Home Is So Sad Home is so sad. It stays as it was left, Shaped to the comfort of the last to go As if to win them back. Instead, bereft Of anyone to please, it withers so, Having no heart to put aside the theft And turn again to what it started as, A joyous shot at how things ought to be, Long fallen wide. You can see how it was: Look at the pictures and the cutlery. The music in the piano stool. That vase.
I Remember, I Remember
Coming up England by a different line For once, early in the cold new year, We stopped, and, watching men with number plates Sprint down the platform to familiar gates, 'Why, Coventry!' I exclaimed. "I was born here.' 372
I leant far out, and squinnied for a sign That this was still the town that had been 'mine' So long, but found I wasn't even clear Which side was which. From where those cycle-crates Were standing, had we annually departed For all those family hols? . . . A whistle went: Things moved. I sat back, staring at my boots. 'Was that,' my friend smiled, 'where you "have your roots"?' No, only where my childhood was unspent, I wanted to retort, just where I started: By now I've got the whole place clearly charted. Our garden, first: where I did not invent Blinding theologies of flowers and fruits, And wasn't spoken to by an old hat. And here we have that splendid family I never ran to when I got depressed, The boys all biceps and the girls all chest, Their comic Ford, their farm where I could be 'Really myself'. I'll show you, come to that, The bracken where I never trembling sat, Determined to go through with it; where she Lay back, and 'all became a burning mist'. And, in those offices, my doggerel Was not set up in blunt ten-point, nor read By a distinguished cousin of the mayor, Who didn't call and tell my father There Before us, had we the gift to see ahead 373
'You look as though you wished the place in Hell,' My friend said, 'judging from your face.' 'Oh well, I suppose it's not the place's fault,' I said. 'Nothing, like something, happens anywhere.'
If Hands Could Free You, Heart If hands could free you, heart, Where would you fly? Far, beyond every part Of earth this running sky Makes desolate? Would you cross City and hill and sea, If hands could set you free? I would not lift the latch; For I could run Through fields, pit-valleys, catch All beauty under the sun-Still end in loss: I should find no bent arm, no bed To rest my head.
Ignorance Strange to know nothing, never to be sure Of what is true or right or real, But forced to qualify or so I feel, Or Well, it does seem so: Someone must know. Strange to be ignorant of the way things work: Their skill at finding what they need, Their sense of shape, and punctual spread of seed, And willingness to change; Yes, it is strange, Even to wear such knowledge - for our flesh Surrounds us with its own decisions And yet spend all our life on imprecisions, That when we start to die Have no idea why.
Ogden Nash (1902-1972) A Tale Of The Thirteenth Floor The hands of the clock were reaching high In an old midtown hotel; I name no name, but its sordid fame Is table talk in hell. I name no name, but hell's own flame Illumes the lobby garish, A gilded snare just off Times Square For the maidens of the parish. The revolving door swept the grimy floor Like a crinoline grotesque, And a lowly bum from an ancient slum Crept furtively past the desk. His footsteps sift into the lift As a knife in the sheath is slipped, Stealthy and swift into the lift As a vampire into a crypt. Old Maxie, the elevator boy, Was reading an ode by Shelley, But he dropped the ode as it were a toad When the gun jammed into his belly. There came a whisper as soft as mud In the bed of an old canal: "Take me up to the suite of Pinball Pete, The rat who betrayed my gal." 376
The lift doth rise with groans and sighs Like a duchess for the waltz, Then in middle shaft, like a duchess daft, It changes its mind and halts. The bum bites lip as the landlocked ship Doth neither fall nor rise, But Maxie the elevator boy Regards him with burning eyes. "First, to explore the thirteenth floor," Says Maxie, "would be wise." Quoth the bum, "There is moss on your double cross, I have been this way before, I have cased the joint at every point, And there is no thirteenth floor. The architect he skipped direct From twelve unto fourteen, There is twelve below and fourteen above, And nothing in between, For the vermin who dwell in this hotel Could never abide thirteen." Said Max, "Thirteen, that floor obscene, Is hidden from human sight; But once a year it doth appear, On this Walpurgis Night. Ere you peril your soul in murderer's role, Heed those who sinned of yore; The path they trod led away from God, And onto the thirteenth floor, Where those they slew, a grisly crew, Reproach them forevermore. 377
"We are higher than twelve and below fourteen," Said Maxie to the bum, "And the sickening draft that taints the shaft Is a whiff of kingdom come. The sickening draft that taints the shaft Blows through the devil's door!" And he squashed the latch like a fungus patch, And revealed the thirteenth floor. It was cheap cigars like lurid scars That glowed in the rancid gloom, The murk was a-boil with fusel oil And the reek of stale perfume. And round and round there dragged and wound A loathsome conga chain, The square and the hep in slow lock step, The slayer and the slain. (For the souls of the victims ascend on high, But their bodies below remain.) The clean souls fly to their home in the sky, But their bodies remain below To pursue the Cain who each has slain And harry him to and fro. When life is extinct each corpse is linked To its gibbering murderer, As a chicken is bound with wire around The neck of a killer cur. Handcuffed to Hate come Doctor Waite (He tastes the poison now), And Ruth and Judd and a head of blood With horns upon its brow. 378
Up sashays Nan with her feathery fan From Floradora bright; She never hung for Caesar Young But she's dancing with him tonight. Here's the bulging hip and the foam-flecked lip Of the mad dog, Vincent Coll, And over there that ill-met pair, Becker and Rosenthal, Here's Legs and Dutch and a dozen such Of braggart bullies and brutes, And each one bends 'neath the weight of friends Who are wearing concrete suits. Now the damned make way for the double-damned Who emerge with shuffling pace From the nightmare zone of persons unknown, With neither name nor face. And poor Dot King to one doth cling, Joined in a ghastly jig, While Elwell doth jape at a goblin shape And tickle it with his wig. See Rothstein pass like breath on a glass, The original Black Sox kid; He riffles the pack, riding piggyback On the killer whose name he hid. And smeared like brine on a slavering swine, Starr Faithful, once so fair, Drawn from the sea to her debauchee, With the salt sand in her hair. And still they come, and from the bum 379
The icy sweat doth spray; His white lips scream as in a dream, "For God's sake, let's away! If ever I meet with Pinball Pete I will not seek his gore, Lest a treadmill grim I must trudge with him On the hideous thirteenth floor." "For you I rejoice," said Maxie's voice, "And I bid you go in peace, But I am late for a dancing date That nevermore will cease. So remember, friend, as your way you wend, That it would have happened to you, But I turned the heat on Pinball Pete; You see - I had a daughter, too!" The bum reached out and he tried to shout, But the door in his face was slammed, And silent as stone he rode down alone From the floor of the double-damned.
Always Marry An April Girl Praise the spells and bless the charms, I found April in my arms. April golden, April cloudy, 380
Gracious, cruel, tender, rowdy; April soft in flowered languor, April cold with sudden anger, Ever changing, ever true -I love April, I love you.
Allen Ginsberg (1926-1997)
Fourth Floor, Dawn, Up All Night Writing Letters Pigeons shake their wings on the copper church roof out my window across the street, a bird perched on the cross surveys the city's blue-grey clouds. Larry Rivers 'll come at 10 AM and take my picture. I'm taking your picture, pigeons. I'm writing you down, Dawn. I'm immortalizing your exhaust, Avenue A bus. O Thought, now you'll have to think the same thing forever!
Home Work If I were doing my Laundry I'd wash my dirty Iran I'd throw in my United States, and pour on the Ivory Soap, scrub up Africa, put all the birds and elephants back in the jungle, I'd wash the Amazon river and clean the oily Carib & Gulf of Mexico, 382
Rub that smog off the North Pole, wipe up all the pipelines in Alaska, Rub a dub dub for Rocky Flats and Los Alamos, Flush that sparkly Cesium out of Love Canal Rinse down the Acid Rain over the Parthenon & Sphinx, Drain the Sludge out of the Mediterranean basin & make it azure again, Put some blueing back into the sky over the Rhine, bleach the little Clouds so snow return white as snow, Cleanse the Hudson Thames & Neckar, Drain the Suds out of Lake Erie Then I'd throw big Asia in one giant Load & wash out the blood & Agent Orange, Dump the whole mess of Russia and China in the wringer, squeeze out the tattle tail Gray of U.S. Central American police state, & put the planet in the drier & let it sit 20 minutes or an Aeon till it came out clean
Hospital Window At gauzy dusk, thin haze like cigarette smoke ribbons past Chrysler Building's silver fins tapering delicately needletopped, Empire State's taller antenna filmed milky lit amid blocks black and white apartmenting veil'd sky over Manhattan, offices new built dark glassed in blueish heaven--The East 50's & 60's covered with castles & watertowers, seven storied tar-topped house-banks over York Avenue, late maygreen trees surrounding Rockefellers' blue domed medical arbor-Geodesic science at the waters edge--Cars running up East River Drive, & parked at N.Y. Hospital's oval door where perfect tulips flower the health of a thousand sick souls trembling inside hospital rooms. Triboro bridge steelspiked penthouse orange roofs, sunset tinges the river and in a few Bronx windows, some magnesium vapor brilliances're spotted five floors above E 59th St under grey painted bridge trestles. Way downstream along the river, as Monet saw Thames 100 years ago, Con Edison smokestacks 14th street, & Brooklyn Bridge's skeined dim in modern mists-Pipes sticking up to sky nine smokestacks huge visible-U.N. Building hangs under an orange crane, & red lights 384
on vertical avenues below the trees turn green at the nod of a skull with a mild nerve ache. Dim dharma, I return to this spectacle after weeks of poisoned lassitude, my thighs belly chest & arms covered with poxied welts, head pains fading back of the neck, right eyebrow cheek mouth paralyzed--from taking the wrong medicine, sweated too much in the forehead helpless, covered my rage from gorge to prostate with grinding jaw and tightening anus not released the weeping scream of horror at robot Mayaguez World self ton billions metal grief unloaded Pnom Penh to Nakon Thanom, Santiago & Tehran. Fresh warm breeze in the window, day's release >from pain, cars float downside the bridge trestle and uncounted building-wall windows multiplied a mile deep into ash-delicate sky beguile my empty mind. A seagull passes alone wings spread silent over roofs.
ed Hughes is consistently described as one of the twentieth centuryâ€™s greatest English poets. Born August 17th, 1930 in Mytholmroyd, Yorkshire, his family moved to Mexborough when he was seven to run a newspaper and tobacco shop. He attended Mexborough grammar school, and wrote his first poems from the age of fifteen, some of which made their way into the school magazine. Before beginning English studies at Cambridge University (having won a scholarship in 1948), he spent much of his National service time reading and rereading all of Shakespeare. According to report, he could recite it all by heart. At Cambridge, he he 'spent most..time reading folklore and Yeat's poems,' and switched from English to Archaeology and Anthropology in his third year.
His first published poem appeared in 1954, the year he graduated from Cambridge. He used two pseudonyms for the early publications, Daniel Hearing and Peter Crew. From 1955 to 1956, he worked as a rose gardener, night-watchman, zoo attendant, schoolteacher, and reader for J. Arthur Rank, and planned to teach in Spain then emigrate to Australia. February 26 saw the launch of the literary magazine, the St Botolph's Review, for which Hughes was one of six co-producers. It was also the day he met Sylvia Plath; they were married in four months. 386
Hughe's first book of poems, Hawk in the Rain, was published in 1957 to immediate acclaim, winning the Harper publication contest. Over the next 41 years, he would write upwards of 90 books, and win numerous prizes and fellowships including the following (in that order): Harper publication contest, Guiness Poetry Award, Guggenheim fellowship, Somerset Maughan award, city of Florence International Poetry Prize, Premio Internazionale Taormina Prize, Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry, OBE, vote for the best writing in English in the New Poetry Poll, Whitbread Book of the Year, W.H. Smith Literature award, Forward Prize for Poetry, Queen’s Order of Merit, T.S. Eliot Prize for Poetry, South Bank Award for Literature, Whitbread Prize for Poetry, and the Whitbread Book of the Year again. In 1984, he was appointed England’s poet laureate. Hughes is what some have called a nature poet. A keen countryman and hunter from a young age, he viewed writing poems as a continuation of his earlier passion. ‘This is hunting and the poem is a new species of creature, a new specimen of the life outside your own.’ (Poetry in the Making , 1967) Hughes and Plath A strong indirect source of interest in the person of Hughes (aside from his poetry) is his seven-year marriage to the well-known American Poet, Sylvia Plath. Birthday Letters is a sequence of lyrics written by Hughes in the first year of their marriage, cast as a 387
continued conversation with Plath. When Plath committed suicide in 1963 (they had separated in 1962), many held Hughes responsible for her death as a consequence of his adulterous relationship with Assia Wevill; recent biographies such as Elaine Feinstein’s Ted Hughes: The Life of a Poet have attempted to ‘set the record straight and clear the air of rancor and recrimination’ (Brooke Allen, The New York Times ). Though deeply marked by the loss, Hughes was publicly silent on the subject for more than 30 years out of his sense of responsibility to protect the couple's two young children, whose perceptions of their mother would have otherwise been impossibly spoiled by external interference. The publication of Birthday Letters has been seen as a 'retaking' of the histories that had been stolen from the family through the cracks in the armour. Quotes ‘Each image denotates another, so that the whole poem throbs’ – Edward Lucie Smith on Hughes’ poetry, British Poetry since 1945 ‘Imagine what you are writing about. See it and live it.’ –Ted Hughes, Poetry in the Making ‘You write interestingly only about the things that genuinely interest 388
you. This is an infallible rule.. in writing, you have to be able to distinguish between those things about which you are merely curious –things you heard about last week or read about yesterday- and things which are a deep part of your life… So you say, ‘What part of my life would I die to be separated from?’ –Ted Hughes, Poetry in the Making ‘It is occasionally possible, just for brief moments, to find the words that will unlock the doors of all those many mansions in the head and express something – perhaps not much, just something – of the crush of information that presses in on us from the way a crow flies over and the way a man walks and the look of a street and from what we did one day a dozen years ago. Words that will express something of the deep complexity that makes us precisely the way we are.’Ted Hughes, Poetry in the Making ..
A Woman Unconscious Russia and America circle each other; Threats nudge an act that were without doubt A melting of the mould in the mother, Stones melting about the root. The quick of the earth burned out: The toil of all our ages a loss With leaf and insect. Yet flitting thought (Not to be thought ridiculous) Shies from the world-cancelling black Of its playing shadow: it has learned That there's no trusting (trusting to luck) Dates when the world's due to be burned; That the future's no calamitous change But a malingering of now, Histories, towns, faces that no Malice or accident much derange. And though bomb be matched against bomb, Though all mankind wince out and nothing endure -Earth gone in an instant flare -Did a lesser death come Onto the white hospital bed Where one, numb beyond her last of sense, Closed her eyes on the world's evidence And into pillows sunk her head. 390
Full Moon and Little Frieda A cool small evening shrunk to a dog bark and the clank of a bucket And you listening. A spider's web, tense for the dew's touch. A pail lifted, still and brimming - mirror To tempt a first star to a tremor. Cows are going home in the lane there, looping the hedges with their warm wreaths of breath A dark river of blood, many boulders, Balancing unspilled milk. 'Moon!' you cry suddenly, 'Moon! Moon!' The moon has stepped back like an artist gazing amazed at a work That points at him amazed.
Lovesong He loved her and she loved him. His kisses sucked out her whole past and future or tried to He had no other appetite She bit him she gnawed him she sucked She wanted him complete inside her Safe and sure forever and ever Their little cries fluttered into the curtains Her eyes wanted nothing to get away Her looks nailed down his hands his wrists his elbows He gripped her hard so that life Should not drag her from that moment He wanted all future to cease He wanted to topple with his arms round her Off that moment's brink and into nothing Or everlasting or whatever there was Her embrace was an immense press To print him into her bones His smiles were the garrets of a fairy palace Where the real world would never come Her smiles were spider bites So he would lie still till she felt hungry His words were occupying armies Her laughs were an assassin's attempts His looks were bullets daggers of revenge His glances were ghosts in the corner with horrible secrets His whispers were whips and jackboots 392
Her kisses were lawyers steadily writing His caresses were the last hooks of a castaway Her love-tricks were the grinding of locks And their deep cries crawled over the floors Like an animal dragging a great trap His promises were the surgeon's gag Her promises took the top off his skull She would get a brooch made of it His vows pulled out all her sinews He showed her how to make a love-knot Her vows put his eyes in formalin At the back of her secret drawer Their screams stuck in the wall Their heads fell apart into sleep like the two halves Of a lopped melon, but love is hard to stop In their entwined sleep they exchanged arms and legs In their dreams their brains took each other hostage In the morning they wore each other's face
Pike Pike, three inches long, perfect Pike in all parts, green tigering the gold. Killers from the egg: the malevolent aged grin. They dance on the surface among the flies. Or move, stunned by their own grandeur, Over a bed of emerald, silhouette Of submarine delicacy and horror. A hundred feet long in their world. In ponds, under the heat-struck lily padsGloom of their stillness: Logged on last year's black leaves, watching upwards. Or hung in an amber cavern of weeds The jaws' hooked clamp and fangs Not to be changed at this date: A life subdued to its instrument; The gills kneading quietly, and the pectorals. Three we kept behind glass, Jungled in weed: three inches, four, And four and a half: red fry to themSuddenly there were two. Finally one With a sag belly and the grin it was born with. And indeed they spare nobody. Two, six pounds each, over two feet long High and dry and dead in the willow-herb394
One jammed past its gills down the other's gullet: The outside eye stared: as a vice locksThe same iron in this eye Though its film shrank in death. A pond I fished, fifty yards across, Whose lilies and muscular tench Had outlasted every visible stone Of the monastery that planted themStilled legendary depth: It was as deep as England. It held Pike too immense to stir, so immense and oldThat past nightfall I dared not cast But silently cast and fished With the hair frozen on my head For what might move, for what eye might move. The still splashes on the dark pond, Owls hushing the floating woods Frail on my ear against the dream Darkness beneath night's darkness had freed, That rose slowly toward me, watching.
The Warm And The Cold Freezing dusk is closing Like a slow trap of steel On trees and roads and hills and all That can no longer feel. But the carp is in its depth Like a planet in its heaven. And the badger in its bedding Like a loaf in the oven. And the butterfly in its mummy Like a viol in its case. And the owl in its feathers Like a doll in its lace. Freezing dusk has tightened Like a nut screwed tight On the starry aeroplane Of the soaring night. But the trout is in its hole Like a chuckle in a sleeper. The hare strays down the highway Like a root going deeper. The snail is dry in the outhouse Like a seed in a sunflower. The owl is pale on the gatepost Like a clock on its tower. Moonlight freezes the shaggy world Like a mammoth of ice The past and the future Are the jaws of a steel vice. But the cod is in the tide-rip 396
Like a key in a purse. The deer are on the bare-blown hill Like smiles on a nurse. The flies are behind the plaster Like the lost score of a jig. Sparrows are in the ivy-clump Like money in a pig. Such a frost The flimsy moon Has lost her wits. A star falls. The sweating farmers Turn in their sleep Like oxen on spits.
Thrushes Terrifying are the attent sleek thrushes on the lawn, More coiled steel than living - a poised Dark deadly eye, those delicate legs Triggered to stirrings beyond sense - with a start, a bounce, a stab Overtake the instant and drag out some writhing thing. No indolent procrastinations and no yawning states, No sighs or head-scratchings. Nothing but bounce and stab And a ravening second. Is it their single-mind-sized skulls, or a trained Body, or genius, or a nestful of brats Gives their days this bullet and automatic Purpose? Mozart's brain had it, and the shark's mouth That hungers down the blood-smell even to a leak of its own Side and devouring of itself: efficiency which Strikes too streamlined for any doubt to pluck at it Or obstruction deflect. With a man it is otherwise. Heroisms on horseback, Outstripping his desk-diary at a broad desk, Carving at a tiny ivory ornament For years: his act worships itself - while for him, Though he bends to be blent in the prayer, how loud and above what Furious spaces of fire do the distracting devils 398
Orgy and hosannah, under what wilderness Of black silent waters weep.
is parents were from Norway, but he was born in Wales, 1916. The family used to spend the summer holidays on a little Norwegian island, swimming, fishing and going by boat. When Roald was four years old, his father died, so his mother had to organize the trip alone for herself and her six children. At school, he was always homesick. At St. Peter's Prep School, all the letters home were controlled by the headmaster, and afterwards at Repton Public School, he had to wear a horrible school uniform [with braces, waist coat, hat and lots of buttons, all black]. The younger boys were often punished by the headmaster and the older boys called prefects. Roald lays much emphasis on describing the school-beatups in his book. You could get beaten for small mistakes like leaving a football sock on the floor, for burning the prefect's toast at teatime or for forgetting to change into house shoes at six o'clock. The most terrible beatings, however, were given by the headmaster himself, who was also a clergyman. He was so cruel, that he made a pause after each beat to smoke his pipe and talk about sins and wrongdoing, while the boy had to remain kneeling. After ten beats, the victim was told to wash away the blood first, before putting on the trousers. By the way, this headmaster became later the Archbishop of Canterbury. Roald Dahl kept telling himself, that if this was one of God's chosen men, there was something going very 400
wrong about the whole business. After school, Roald Dahl didn't go to university, but applied for a job at the Shell company, because he was sure they would send him abroad. He was sent to East Africa, where he got the adventure he wanted: great heat, crocodiles, snakes and safaries. He lived in the jungle, learned to speak Swahili and suffered from malaria. When the second World War broke out, he went to Nairobi to join the Royal Air Force. He was a fighter pilot and shot down German planes and got shot down himself. After 6 months in hospital he flew again. In 1942, he went to Washington as Assistant Air AttachĂŠ. There, he started writing short stories. In 1943, he published his first childrenâ€™s book "The Gremlins " with Walt Disney and in 1945 his first book of short stories appeared in the US. His marriage with the actress Patricia Neal was unhappy. None of their kids survived, his wife suffered a stroke. When she regained consciousness, she could hardly read, count and talk. But Roald managed to nurse her back to health, so that she could act again. Nevertheless, he got divorced in 1983 and married Felicity Crosland. He received several awards, such as the Edgar Allen Poe Award. His collections of short stories have been translated into many languages and have been best-sellers all over the world. Among them are "Someone Like You ", "Sweet Mystery Of Life ", "Kiss Kiss " and "Roald Dahl's Book of Ghost Stories ". He wrote TV series like "Tales of the Unexpected " and the novel "My Uncle Oswald ". His books are mostly fantasy, and full of imagination. 401
They are always a little cruel, but never without humour - a thrilling mixture of the grotesque and comic. A frequent motif is, that people are not, what they appear to be. Mary Maloney in "Lamb to the Slaughter ", for example, is not a friendly widow, but a clever murderess. In his stories, the background is perfectly worked out: details are very close to reality. Roald Dahl didn't only write books for grown-ups, but also for children, such as "James and the Giant Peach ", "Fantastic Mr. Fox " and "The Gremlins ". About his children's stories he said once: "I make my points by exaggerating wildly. That's the only way to get through to children." Roald Dahl is perhaps the most popular and best-selling children's book author. However, these stories are so sarcastic and humorous, that also adults appreciate reading them. Roald Dahl died in November 1990. The Times called him "one of the most widely read and influential writers of our generation".
â€œMike Teavee...â€? The most important thing we've learned, So far as children are concerned, Is never, NEVER, NEVER let Them near your television set -Or better still, just don't install The idiotic thing at all. 402
In almost every house we've been, We've watched them gaping at the screen. They loll and slop and lounge about, And stare until their eyes pop out. (Last week in someone's place we saw A dozen eyeballs on the floor.) They sit and stare and stare and sit Until they're hypnotized by it, Until they're absolutely drunk With all that shocking ghastly junk. Oh yes, we know it keeps them still, They don't climb out the window sill, They never fight or kick or punch, They leave you free to cook the lunch And wash the dishes in the sink -But did you ever stop to think, To wonder just exactly what This does to your beloved tot? IT ROTS THE SENSE IN THE HEAD! IT KILLS IMAGINATION DEAD! IT CLOGS AND CLUTTERS UP THE MIND! IT MAKES A CHILD SO DULL AND BLIND HE CAN NO LONGER UNDERSTAND A FANTASY, A FAIRYLAND! HIS BRAIN BECOMES AS SOFT AS CHEESE! HIS POWERS OF THINKING RUST AND FREEZE! HE CANNOT THINK -- HE ONLY SEES! 'All right!' you'll cry. 'All right!' you'll say, 'But if we take the set away, What shall we do to entertain Our darling children? Please explain!' We'll answer this by asking you, 'What used the darling ones to do? 403
'How used they keep themselves contented Before this monster was invented?' Have you forgotten? Don't you know? We'll say it very loud and slow: THEY ... USED ... TO ... READ! They'd READ and READ, AND READ and READ, and then proceed To READ some more. Great Scott! Gadzooks! One half their lives was reading books! The nursery shelves held books galore! Books cluttered up the nursery floor! And in the bedroom, by the bed, More books were waiting to be read! Such wondrous, fine, fantastic tales Of dragons, gypsies, queens, and whales And treasure isles, and distant shores Where smugglers rowed with muffled oars, And pirates wearing purple pants, And sailing ships and elephants, And cannibals crouching 'round the pot, Stirring away at something hot. (It smells so good, what can it be? Good gracious, it's Penelope.) The younger ones had Beatrix Potter With Mr. Tod, the dirty rotter, And Squirrel Nutkin, Pigling Bland, And Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle andJust How The Camel Got His Hump, And How the Monkey Lost His Rump, And Mr. Toad, and bless my soul, There's Mr. Rat and Mr. MoleOh, books, what books they used to know, Those children living long ago! So please, oh please, we beg, we pray, 404
Go throw your TV set away, And in its place you can install A lovely bookshelf on the wall. Then fill the shelves with lots of books, Ignoring all the dirty looks, The screams and yells, the bites and kicks, And children hitting you with sticksFear not, because we promise you That, in about a week or two Of having nothing else to do, They'll now begin to feel the need Of having something to read. And once they start -- oh boy, oh boy! You watch the slowly growing joy That fills their hearts. They'll grow so keen They'll wonder what they'd ever seen In that ridiculous machine, That nauseating, foul, unclean, Repulsive television screen! And later, each and every kid Will love you more for what you did.
Hot and Cold A woman who my mother knows Came in and took off all her clothes. Said I, not being very old, 405
'By golly gosh, you must be cold!' 'No, no!' she cried. 'Indeed I'm not! I'm feeling devilishly hot!'
St. Ives As I was going to St Ives I met a man with seven wives Said he, 'I think it's much more fun Than getting stuck with only one.'
The Pig In England once there lived a big And wonderfully clever pig. To everybody it was plain That Piggy had a massive brain. He worked out sums inside his head, There was no book he hadn't read. 406
He knew what made an airplane fly, He knew how engines worked and why. He knew all this, but in the end One question drove him round the bend: He simply couldn't puzzle out What LIFE was really all about. What was the reason for his birth? Why was he placed upon this earth? His giant brain went round and round. Alas, no answer could be found. Till suddenly one wondrous night. All in a flash he saw the light. He jumped up like a ballet dancer And yelled, "By gum, I've got the answer!" "They want my bacon slice by slice "To sell at a tremendous price! "They want my tender juicy chops "To put in all the butcher's shops! "They want my pork to make a roast "And that's the part'll cost the most! "They want my sausages in strings! "They even want my chitterlings! "The butcher's shop! The carving knife! "That is the reason for my life!" Such thoughts as these are not designed To give a pig great piece of mind. Next morning, in comes Farmer Bland, A pail of pigswill in his hand, And piggy with a mighty roar, Bashes the farmer to the floorâ€Ś Now comes the rather grizzly bit So let's not make too much of it, Except that you must understand 407
That Piggy did eat Farmer Bland, He ate him up from head to toe, Chewing the pieces nice and slow. It took an hour to reach the feet, Because there was so much to eat, And when he finished, Pig, of course, Felt absolutely no remorse. Slowly he scratched his brainy head And with a little smile he said, "I had a fairly powerful hunch "That he might have me for his lunch. "And so, because I feared the worst, "I thought I'd better eat him first."
lizabeth Bishop was born in Worcester, Massachusetts in 1911, but spent part of her childhood with her Canadian grandparents after her father's death and mother's hospitalization. Of her childhood she noted, "My relatives all felt so sorry for this child that they tried to do their very best. And I think they did. I lived with my grandparents in Nova Scotia, then with the ones in Worcester, in Massachusetts, very briefly and got terribly sick. This was when I was six and seven.... Then I lived with my mother's older sister in Boston, she was devoted to me -she had no children. My relationship with my relatives -I was always sort of a guest, and I think I've always felt like that."
Miss Bishop attended Vassar where she majored in English although she had originally intended to major in music composition and piano. "You had to perform in public once a month. Well, this terrified me. I really was sick. I played once and then gave up the piano because I couldn't bear it. The next year I switched to English." In addition to working on the school newspaper, The Vassar Miscellany, Bishop founded a literary magazine, Con Spirito, with fellow students Mary McCarthy, Eleanor Clark, and Muriel Rukeyser. It was as a Vassar student that Elizabeth Bishop met Marianne Moore. The two women first met in 1934 when Fanny Borden, 409
the Vassar librarian, arranged an introduction. Miss Bishop described the meeting thus: "I first met Miss Moore by appointment in 1934, in the New York Public Library. I had actually picked out a tall, eagle-nosed, beturbaned lady, distinguished-looking but proud and forbidding, as a possible Miss Moore, when to my great relief, the real one spoke up." In the course of their conversation, the Vassar senior suggested they go to the circus in two weeks and Miss Moore, who had a passion for the circus, agreed. The older poet played at least a tangential role in the following year in Miss Bishop's decision not to enroll in Cornell Medical School. As she explained, "I had all the forms. But then I discovered that I would have to take German and more chemistry. I'd already published a few things and Marianne discouraged me, and I didn't go. I just went off to Europe instead." Miss Bishop traveled extensively in Europe and lived in New York, Key West, Florida, and, for seventeen years, in Brazil. She taught briefly at the University of Washington at Harvard for seven years, at New York University, and just prior to her death in 1979, at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Elizabeth Bishop won virtually every poetry prize in the country although she insisted, "They don't mean too much." Her first book, North & South, won the Houghton Mifflin Poetry Award for 1946. In 1955, she received the Pulitzer Prize for a volume containing North & South and A Cold Spring. Her next book of poetry, Questions of Travel (1965), won the National Book Award and was followed by The Complete Poems 410
in 1969. Geography III (1976) received the National Book Critics Circle Award. In 1976, Miss Bishop became both the first American and the first woman to win the Books Abroad/Neustadt Prize for Literature. In addition to her volumes of poetry, she translated a famous Brazilian diary, The Diary of Helena Morley, edited and partially translated An Anthology of Contemporary Brazilian Poetry (1972), and was a prolific contributor to The New Yorker In 1967, Bishop was the recipient of two Guggenheim fellowships. She received honorary degrees from Adelphi, Brandeis, Brown, Dalhousie, and Princeton Universities, as well as from Smith and Amherst College chancellor of the Academy of American Poets, Bishop was also a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and a consultant in poetry to the Library of Congress in 194950. Elizabeth Bishop died on October 6, 1979. A new edition of her poems, The Complete Poems, 1927-1979, was published in early 1983, and The Collected Prose was published in 1984. Of her work, Robert Lowell remarked, "Elizabeth Bishop is the contemporary poet that I admire most .... There's a beautiful completeness to all of Bishop's poetry. I don't think anyone alive has a better eye than she had: The eye that sees things and the mind behind the eye that remembers."
A Miracle For Breakfast At six o'clock we were waiting for coffee, waiting for coffee and the charitable crumb that was going to be served from a certain balcony --like kings of old, or like a miracle. It was still dark. One foot of the sun steadied itself on a long ripple in the river. The first ferry of the day had just crossed the river. It was so cold we hoped that the coffee would be very hot, seeing that the sun was not going to warm us; and that the crumb would be a loaf each, buttered, by a miracle. At seven a man stepped out on the balcony. He stood for a minute alone on the balcony looking over our heads toward the river. A servant handed him the makings of a miracle, consisting of one lone cup of coffee and one roll, which he proceeded to crumb, his head, so to speak, in the clouds--along with the sun. Was the man crazy? What under the sun was he trying to do, up there on his balcony! Each man received one rather hard crumb, which some flicked scornfully into the river, and, in a cup, one drop of the coffee. Some of us stood around, waiting for the miracle. I can tell what I saw next; it was not a miracle. A beautiful villa stood in the sun 412
and from its doors came the smell of hot coffee. In front, a baroque white plaster balcony added by birds, who nest along the river, --I saw it with one eye close to the crumb-and galleries and marble chambers. My crumb my mansion, made for me by a miracle, through ages, by insects, birds, and the river working the stone. Every day, in the sun, at breakfast time I sit on my balcony with my feet up, and drink gallons of coffee. We licked up the crumb and swallowed the coffee. A window across the river caught the sun as if the miracle were working, on the wrong balcony.
DOROTHY PARKER (1893-1967) Star Light, Star Bright Star, that gives a gracious dole, What am I to choose? Oh, will it be a shriven soul, Or little buckled shoes? Shall I wish a wedding-ring, Bright and thin and round, Or plead you send me coveringA newly spaded mound? Gentle beam, shall I implore Gold, or sailing-ships, Or beg I hate forevermore A pair of lying lips? Swing you low or high away, Burn you hot or dim; My only wish I dare not sayLest you should grant me him.
A Certain Lady Oh, I can smile for you, and tilt my head, And drink your rushing words with eager lips, And paint my mouth for you a fragrant red, And trace your brows with tutored finger-tips. When you rehearse your list of loves to me, Oh, I can laugh and marvel, rapturous-eyed. And you laugh back, nor can you ever see The thousand little deaths my heart has died. And you believe, so well I know my part, That I am gay as morning, light as snow, And all the straining things within my heart You'll never know. Oh, I can laugh and listen, when we meet, And you bring tales of fresh adventurings, -Of ladies delicately indiscreet, Of lingering hands, and gently whispered things. And you are pleased with me, and strive anew To sing me sagas of your late delights. Thus do you want me -- marveling, gay, and true, Nor do you see my staring eyes of nights. And when, in search of novelty, you stray, Oh, I can kiss you blithely as you go ... And what goes on, my love, while you're away, You'll never know.
A Dream Lies Dead
A dream lies dead here. May you softly go Before this place, and turn away your eyes, Nor seek to know the look of that which dies Importuning Life for life. Walk not in woe, But, for a little, let your step be slow. And, of your mercy, be not sweetly wise With words of hope and Spring and tenderer skies. A dream lies dead; and this all mourners know: Whenever one drifted petal leaves the treeThough white of bloom as it had been before And proudly waitful of fecundityOne little loveliness can be no more; And so must Beauty bow her imperfect head Because a dream has joined the wistful dead!
A Fairy Sad Tale
I think that I shall never know Why I am thus, and I am so. Around me, other girls inspire In men the rush and roar of fire, The sweet transparency of glass, The tenderness of April grass, 416
The durability of granite; But me- I don't know how to plan it. The lads I've met in Cupid's deadlock Were- shall we say? born out of wedlock. They broke my heart, they stilled my song, And said they had to run along, Explaining, so to sop my tears, First came their parents or careers. But ever does experience Deny me wisdom, calm, and sense! Though she's a fool who seeks to capture The twenty-first fine, careless rapture, I must go on, till ends my rope, Who from my birth was cursed with hope. A heart in half is chaste, archaic; But mine resembles a mosaicThe thing's become ridiculous! Why am I so? Why am I thus?
Very Short Song Once, when I was young and true, Someone left me sadBroke my brittle heart in two; And that is very bad. Love is for unlucky folk, Love is but a curse. Once there was a heart I broke; And that, I think, is worse.
Adrienne Rich Paula Becker to Clara Westhoff The autumn feels slowed down, summer still holds on here, even the light seems to last longer than it should or maybe I'm using it to the thin edge. The moon rolls in the air. I didn't want this child. You're the only one I've told. I want a child maybe, someday, but not now. Otto has a calm, complacent way of following me with his eyes, as if to say Soon you'll have your hands full! And yes, I will; this child will be mine not his, the failures, if I fail will all be mine. We're not good, Clara, at learning to prevent these things, and once we have a child it is ours. But lately I feel beyond Otto or anyone. I know now the kind of work I have to do. It takes such energy! I have the feeling I'm moving somewhere, patiently, impatiently, in my loneliness. I'm looking everywhere in nature for new forms, old forms in new places, the planes of an antique mouth, let's say, among the leaves. I know and do not know 419
what I am searching for. Remember those months in the studio together, you up to your strong forearms in wet clay, I trying to make something of the strange impressions assailing me--the Japanese flowers and birds on silk, the drunks sheltering in the Louvre, that river-light, those faces...Did we know exactly why we were there? Paris unnerved you, you found it too much, yet you went on with your work...and later we met there again, both married then, and I thought you and Rilke both seemed unnerved. I felt a kind of joylessness between you. Of course he and I have had our difficulties. Maybe I was jealousof him, to begin with, taking you from me, maybe I married Otto to fill up my loneliness for you. Rainer, of course, knows more than Otto knows, he believes in women. But he feeds on us, like all of them. His whole life, his art is protected by women. Which of us could say that? Which of us, Clara, hasn't had to take that leap out beyond our being women to save our work? or is it to save ourselves? Marriage is lonelier than solitude. Do you know: I was dreaming I had died giving birth to the child. I couldn't paint or speak or even move. My child--I think--survived me. But what was funny in the dream was, Rainer had written my requiem-a long, beautiful poem, and calling me his friend. 420
I was your friend but in the dream you didn't say a word. In the dream his poem was like a letter to someone who has no right to be there but must be treated gently, like a guest who comes on the wrong day. Clara, why don't I dream of you? That photo of the two of us--I have it still, you and I looking hard into each other and my painting behind us. How we used to work side by side! And how I've worked since then trying to create according to our plan that we'd bring, against all odds, our full power to every subject. Hold back nothing because we were women. Clara, our strength still lies in the things we used to talk about: how life and death take one another's hands, the struggle for truth, our old pledge against guilt. And now I feel dawn and the coming day. I love waking in my studio, seeing my pictures come alive in the light. Sometimes I feel it is myself that kicks inside me, myself I must give suck to, love... I wish we could have done this for each other all our lives, but we can't... They say a pregnant woman dreams her own death. But life and death take one another's hands. Clara, I feel so full of work, the life I see ahead, and love for you, who of all people however badly I say this will hear all I say and cannot say. 421
Planetarium Thinking of Caroline Herschel, 1750-1848, Astronomer, Sister of William; and Others A woman in the shape of a monster a monster in the shape of a woman the skies are full of them a woman "in the snow among the Clocks and instruments or measuring the ground with poles" in her 98 years to discover 8 comets she whom the moon ruled like us levitating into the night sky riding the polished lenses Galaxies of women, there doing penance for impetuousness ribs chilled in those spaces of the mind An eye, "virile, precise and absolutely certain" from the mad webs of Uranisborg encountering the NOVA every impulse of light exploding 422
from the core as life flies out of us Tycho whispering at last "let me not seem to have lived in vain" What we see, we see and seeing is changing the light that shrivels a mountain and leaves a man alive Heartbeat of the pulsar heart sweating through my body The radio impulse pouring in from Taurus I am bombarded yet I stand I have been standing all my life in the direct path of a battery of signals the most accurately transmitted most untranslatable language of the universe I am a galactic cloud so deep so involuted that a light wave could take 15 years to travel through me And has taken I am an instrument in the shape of a woman trying to translate pulsations into images for the relief of the body and the reconstruction of the mind.
Prospective Immigrants Please Note Either you will go through this door or you will not go through. If you go through there is always risk of remembering your name. Things look at you doubly and you must look back and let them happen. If you do not go through it is possible to live worthily to maintain your attitudes to hold your position to die bravely but much will blind you, much will evade you, at what cost who knows? The door itself makes no promises. It is only a door.
Shattered Head A life hauls itself uphill through hoar-mist steaming the sun's tongue licking leaf upon leaf into stricken liquid When? When? cry the soothseekers but time is a bloodshot eye seeing its last of beauty its own foreclosure a bloodshot mind finding itself unspeakable What is the last thought? Now I will let you know? or, Now I know? (porridge of skull-splinters, brain tissue mouth and throat membrane, cranial fluid) Shattered head on the breast of a wooded hill Laid down there endlessly so tendrils soaked into matted compose became a root torqued over the faint springhead groin whence illegible matter leaches: worm-borings, spurts of silt volumes of sporic changes hair long blown into far follicles blasted into a chosen place Revenge on the head (genitals, breast, untouched) revenge on the mouth 425
packed with its inarticulate confessions revenge on the eyes green-gray and restless revenge on the big and searching lips the tender tongue revenge on the sensual, on the nose the carrier of history revenge on the life devoured in another incineration You can walk by such a place, the earth is made of them where the stretched tissue of a field or woods is humid with beloved matter the sooth seekers have withdrawn you feel no ghost, only a sporic chorus when that place utters its worn sigh let us have peace And the shattered head answers back And I believed I was loved, I believed I loved Who did this to us?
Snapshots Of A Daughter 1 You, once a belle in Shreveport, with henna-colored hair, skin like a peachbud, still have your dresses copied from that time, and play a Chopin prelude called by Cortot: "Delicious recollections float like perfume through the memory." Your mind now, moldering like wedding-cake, heavy with useless experience, rich with suspicion, rumor, fantasy, crumbling to pieces under the knife-edge of mere fact. In the prime of your life. Nervy, glowering, your daughter wipes the teaspoons, grows another way. 2 Banging the coffee-pot into the sink she hears the angels chiding, and looks out past the raked gardens to the sloppy sky. Only a week since They said: Have no patience. The next time it was: Be insatiable. Then: Save yourself; others you cannot save. Sometimes she's let the tapstream scald her arm, a match burn to her thumbnail, 427
or held her hand above the kettle's snout right inthe woolly steam. They are probably angels, since nothing hurts her anymore, except each morning's grit blowing into her eyes. 3 A thinking woman sleeps with monsters. The beak that grips her, she becomes. And Nature, that sprung-lidded, still commodious steamer-trunk of tempora and moresgets stuffed with it all: the mildewed orange-flowers, the female pills, the terrible breasts of Boadicea beneath flat foxes' heads and orchids. Two handsome women, gripped in argument, each proud, acute, subtle, I hear scream across the cut glass and majolica like Furies cornered from their prey: The argument ad feminam, all the old knives that have rusted in my back, I drive in yours, ma semblable, ma soeur! 4 Knowing themselves too well in one another: their gifts no pure fruition, but a thorn, the prick filed sharp against a hint of scorn... Reading while waiting for the iron to heat, writing, My Life had stood--a Loaded Gun-428
in that Amherst pantry while the jellies boil and scum, or, more often, iron-eyed and beaked and purposed as a bird, dusting everything on the whatnot every day of life. 5 Dulce ridens, dulce loquens, she shaves her legs until they gleam like petrified mammoth-tusk. 6 When to her lute Corinna sings neither words nor music are her own; only the long hair dipping over her cheek, only the song of silk against her knees and these adjusted in reflections of an eye. Poised, trembling and unsatisfied, before an unlocked door, that cage of cages,tell us, you bird, you tragical machine-is this fertillisante douleur? Pinned down by love, for you the only natural action, are you edged more keen to prise the secrets of the vault? has Nature shown her household books to you, daughter-in-law, that her sons never saw? 429
7 "To have in this uncertain world some stay which cannot be undermined, is of the utmost consequence." Thus wrote a woman, partly brave and partly good, who fought with what she partly understood. Few men about her would or could do more, hence she was labeled harpy, shrew and whore. 8 "You all die at fifteen," said Diderot, and turn part legend, part convention. Still, eyes inaccurately dream behind closed windows blankening with steam. Deliciously, all that we might have been, all that we were--fire, tears, wit, taste, martyred ambition-stirs like the memory of refused adultery the drained and flagging bosom of our middle years. 9 Not that it is done well, but that it is done at all? Yes, think of the odds! or shrug them off forever. This luxury of the precocious child, Time's precious chronic invalid,-430
would we, darlings, resign it if we could? Our blight has been our sinecure: mere talent was enough for us-glitter in fragments and rough drafts. Sigh no more, ladies. Time is male and in his cups drinks to the fair. Bemused by gallantry, we hear our mediocrities over-praised, indolence read as abnegation, slattern thought styled intuition, every lapse forgiven, our crime only to cast too bold a shadow or smash the mold straight off. For that, solitary confinement, tear gas, attrition shelling. Few applicants for that honor. 10 Well, she's long about her coming, who must be more merciless to herself than history. Her mind full to the wind, I see her plunge breasted and glancing through the currents, taking the light upon her at least as beautiful as any boy or helicopter, poised, still coming, her fine blades making the air wince but her cargo 431
no promise then: delivered palpable ours.
Stepping Backward Good-by to you whom I shall see tomorrow, Next year and when I'm fifty; still good-by. This is the leave we never really take. If you were dead or gone to live in China The event might draw your stature in my mind. I should be forced to look upon you whole The way we look upon the things we lose. We see each other daily and in segments; Parting might make us meet anew, entire. You asked me once, and I could give no answer, How far dare we throw off the daily ruse, Official treacheries of face and name, Have out our true identity? I could hazard An answer now, if you are asking still. We are a small and lonely human race Showing no sign of mastering solitude Out on this stony planet that we farm. The most that we can do for one another Is let our blunders and our blind mischances Argue a certain brusque abrupt compassion. We might as well be truthful. I should say 432
They're luckiest who know they're not unique; But only art or common interchange Can teach that kindest truth. And even art Can only hint at what disturbed a Melville Or calmed a Mahler's frenzy; you and I Still look from separate windows every morning Upon the same white daylight in the square. And when we come into each other's rooms Once in awhile, encumbered and self-conscious, We hover awkwardly about the threshold And usually regret the visit later. Perhaps the harshest fact is, only lovers-And once in a while two with the grace of lovers-Unlearn that clumsiness of rare intrusion And let each other freely come and go. Most of us shut too quickly into cupboards The margin-scribbled books, the dried geranium, The penny horoscope, letters never mailed. The door may open, but the room is altered; Not the same room we look from night and day. It takes a late and slowly blooming wisdom To learn that those we marked infallible Are tragi-comic stumblers like ourselves. The knowledge breeds reserve. We walk on tiptoe, Demanding more than we know how to render. Two-edged discovery hunts us finally down; The human act will make us real again, And then perhaps we come to know each other. Let us return to imperfection's school. No longer wandering after Plato's ghost, Seeking the garden where all fruit is flawless, 433
We must at last renounce that ultimate blue And take a walk in other kinds of weather. The sourest apple makes its wry announcement That imperfection has a certain tang. Maybe we shouldn't turn our pockets out To the last crumb or lingering bit of fluff, But all we can confess of what we are Has in it the defeat of isolation-If not our own, then someone's, anyway. So I come back to saying this good-by, A sort of ceremony of my own, This stepping backward for another glance. Perhaps you'll say we need no ceremony, Because we know each other, crack and flaw, Like two irregular stones that fit together. Yet still good-by, because we live by inches And only sometimes see the full dimension. Your stature's one I want to memorize-Your whole level of being, to impose On any other comers, man or woman. I'd ask them that they carry what they are With your particular bearing, as you wear The flaws that make you both yourself and human.
Christina Georgina Rossetti (1830-1894)
A Better Ressurection I have no wit, no words, no tears; My heart within me like a stone Is numbed too much for hopes or fears. Look right, look left, I dwell alone; I lift mine eyes, but dimmed with grief No everlasting hills I see; My life is in the falling leaf: O Jesus, quicken me. My life is like a faded leaf, My harvest dwindled to a husk: Truly my life is void and brief And tedious in the barren dusk; My life is like a frozen thing, No bud nor greenness can I see: Yet rise it shall--the sap of spring; O Jesus, rise in me. My life is like a broken bowl, A broken bowl that cannot hold One drop of water for my soul Or cordial in the searching cold; Cast in the fire the perished thing; Melt and remould it, till it be 435
A royal cup for Him, my King: O Jesus, drink of me.
An Apple-Gathering I plucked pink blossoms from mine apple tree And wore them all that evening in my hair: Then in due season when I went to see I found no apples there. With dangling basket all along the grass As I had come I went the selfsame track: My neighbours mocked me while they saw me pass So empty-handed back. Lilian and Lilias smiled in trudging by, Their heaped-up basket teazed me like a jeer; Sweet-voiced they sang beneath the sunset sky, Their mother's home was near. Plump Gertrude passed me with her basket full, A stronger hand than hers helped it along; A voice talked with her thro' the shadows cool More sweet to me than song. Ah Willie, Willie, was my love less worth Than apples with their green leaves piled above? I counted rosiest apples on the earth Of far less worth than love. So once it was with me you stooped to talk 436
Laughing and listening in this very lane: To think that by this way we used to walk We shall not walk again! I let my neighbours pass me, ones and twos And groups; the latest said the night grew chill, And hastened: but I loitered, while the dews Fell fast I loitered still.
Beneath Thy Cross
Am I a stone, and not a sheep, That I can stand, O Christ, beneath thy cross, To number drop by drop Thy Blood's slow loss, And yet not weep? Not so those women loved Who with exceeding grief lamented Thee; Not so fallen Peter weeping bitterly; Not so the thief was moved; Not so the Sun and Moon Which hid their faces in a starless sky, A horror of great darkness at broad noon-I, only I. Yet give not o'er, But seek Thy sheep, true Shepherd of the flock; Greater than Moses, turn and look once more 437
And smite a rock.
In Memory "To accomplish great things, we must dream as well as act " Anatole France French novelist (1844 - 1924). In loving memory of Nathan Olosky(1979-2005) and Nick Louk (1979-2007 ). Thanks for your friendship, the memories, and adding light to the world while you were with us. You are missed. “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.” (James 1:2-4 NKJV)
Special thanks to Kylie. J. Brooks. The light of my life, God’s gift to me. 439