M A L L

OF THE

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

 

The Sixty

The Sixty is a short entertainment and meditation of sixty poetry pieces that evoke feelings of happy reminiscent times, humor, normal love and passion, purpose, sadness, and sense (from authors who had it in a world filled with situations which time and time again make none).  The Sixty is also a quick read, one allowing you to go about your day to day activities and Mall of the United States of America in record time efficiently and joyfully without developing a poem-reading addiction or spending too much time on poems.  Reflect upon your own personal experiences while enjoying the unique special enchantment of each selection, and come back frequently to relive the beauty, comedy, extraordinary burning and genuine love, power, and wisdom your favorite poems make nicely imaginable – never forgetting the way they each make you feel every time.

 

 

 

 

 

1918

BORIS PASTERNAK

 

Stars were racing; waves were washing headlands.

Salt went blind, and tears were slowly drying.

Darkened were the bedrooms; thoughts were racing,

And the Sphinx was listening to the desert.

 

 

Candles swam.  It seemed that the Colossus’

Blood grew cold; upon his lips was spreading

The blue shadow smile of the Sahara.

With the turning tide the night was waning.

 

 

Sea-breeze from Morocco touched the water.

Simooms blew.  In snowdrifts snored Archangel.

Candles swam; the rough draft of ‘The Prophet’

Slowly dried, and dawn broke on the Ganges

 

 

 

 

 

A Lecture upon the Shadow

JOHN DONNE

 

Stand still, and I will read to thee

A lecture, love, in love’s philosophy.

These three hours that we have spent,

Walking here, two shadows went

Along with us, which we ourselves produc’d.

But, now the sun is just above our head,

We do those shadows tread,

And to brave clearness all things are reduc’d.

So whilst our infant loves did grow,

Disguises did, and shadows, flow

From us, and our cares; but now ’tis not so.

That love has not attain’d the high’st degree,

Which is still diligent lest others see.

 

 

Except our loves at this noon stay,

We shall new shadows make the other way.

As the first were made to blind

Others, these which come behind

Will work upon ourselves, and blind our eyes.

If our loves faint, and westwardly decline,

To me thou, falsely, thine,

And I to thee mine actions shall disguise.

The morning shadows wear away,

But these grow longer all the day;

But oh, love’s day is short, if love decay.

Love is a growing, or full constant light,

And his first minute, after noon, is night.

 

 

 

 

 

As the Ruin Falls

CLIVE STAPLES LEWIS

 

All this is flashy rhetoric about loving you.

I never had a selfless thought since I was born.

I am mercenary and self-seeking through and through:

I want God, you, all friends, merely to serve my turn.

 

 

Peace, re-assurance, pleasure, are the goals I seek,

I cannot crawl one inch outside my proper skin:

I talk of love—a scholar’s parrot may talk Greek—

But, self-imprisoned, always end where I begin.

 

 

Only that now you have taught me (but how late) my lack.

I see the chasm.  And everything you are was making

My heart into a bridge by which I might get back

From exile, and grow man.  And now the bridge is breaking.

 

 

For this I bless you as the ruin falls.  The pains

You give me are more precious than all other gains.

 

 

 

 

 

At the Un-National Monument along the Canadian Border

WILLIAM STAFFORD

 

This is the field where the battle did not happen,
where the unknown soldier did not die.
This is the field where grass joined hands,
where no monument stands,
and the only heroic thing is the sky.

 

 

Birds fly here without any sound,
unfolding their wings across the open.
No people killed—or were killed—on this ground
hallowed by neglect and an air so tame
that people celebrate it by forgetting its name.

 

 

 

 

 

Barbra Allen

(Author is unknown.)

 

In London City where I once did dwell, there’s where I got my learning,

I fell in love with a pretty young girl, her name was Barbra Allen.

I courted her for seven long years, she said she would not have me;

Then straightaway home as I could go and liken to a dying.

 

 

I wrote her a letter on my death bed, I wrote it slow and moving;

‘Go take this letter to my old true love and tell her I am dying.’

She took the letter in her lily-white hand, she read it slow and moving;

‘Go take this letter back to him, and tell him I am coming.’

 

 

As she passed by his dying bed she saw his pale lips quivering;

“No better, no better I’ll ever be until I get Barbra Allen.”

As she passed by his dying bed; “You’re very sick and almost dying,

No better, no better you will ever be, for you can’t get Barbra Allen.”

 

 

As she went down the long stair steps she heard the death bell toning,

And every bell appeared to say, ‘Hard-hearted Barbra Allen!’

As she went down the long piney walk she heard some small birds singing,

And every bird appeared to say, ‘Hard-hearted Barbra Allen!’

 

 

She looked to the East, she looked to the West, she saw the pale corpse coming,

“Go bring them pale corpse unto me, and let me gaze upon them.

Oh, mama, mama, go make my bed, go make it soft and narrow!

Sweet Willie died today for me, I’ll die for him tomorrow!”

 

 

They buried Sweet Willie in the old church yard, they buried Miss Barbra beside him;

And out of his grave there sprang a red rose, and out of hers a briar.

They grew to the top of the old church tower, they could not grow any higher,

They hooked, they tied in a true love’s knot, red rose around the briar.

 

 

 

 

 

Birdsong

(Author is unknown.)

 

He doesn’t know the world at all
Who stays in his nest and doesn’t go out.
He doesn’t know what birds know best
Nor what I want to sing about,
That the world is full of loveliness.

 

 

When dewdrops sparkle in the grass

And earth’s aflood with morning light,
A blackbird sings upon a bush

To greet the dawning after night.
Then I know how fine it is to live.

Hey, try to open up your heart

To beauty; go to the woods someday

And weave a wreath of memory there.
Then if the tears obscure your way

You’ll know how wonderful it is
To be alive.

 

 

 

 

 

Bitter-Sweet

GEORGE HERBERT

 

Ah, my dear angry Lord,

Since Thou dost love, yet strike;

Cast down, yet help afford;

Sure I will do the like.

 

 

I will complain, yet praise;

I will bewail, approve:

And all my sour-sweet days

I will lament, and love.

 

 

 

 

 

The Dream

JOHN DONNE

 

Dear Love, for nothing less than thee

Would I have broke this happy dream;

It was a theme

For reason, much too strong for fantasy,

Therefore thou wak’d’st me wisely; yet

My dream thou brok’st not, but continued’st it.

Thou art so true that thoughts of thee suffice

To make dreams truths, and fables histories;

Enter these arms, for since thou thought’st it best,

Not to dream all my dream, let’s act the rest.

 

 

   As lightning, or a taper’s light,

Thine eyes, and not thy noise wak’d me;

Yet I thought thee

(For thou lovest truth) an angel, at first sight;

But when I saw thou sawest my heart,

And knew’st my thoughts, beyond an angel’s art,

When thou knew’st what I dreamt, when thou knew’st when

Excess of joy would wake me, and cam’st then,

I must confess, it could not choose but be

Profane, to think thee any thing but thee.

 

 

   Coming and staying show’d thee, thee,

But rising makes me doubt, that now

Thou art not thou.

That love is weak where fear’s as strong as he;

’Tis not all spirit, pure and brave,

If mixture it of fear, shame, honour have;

Perchance as torches, which must ready be,

Men light and put out, so thou deal’st with me;

Thou cam’st so kindle, goest to come; then I

Will dream that hope again, but else would die.

 

 

 

 

 

Enticer

RICHARD WILLARD ARMOUR

 

A married man who begs his friend,

A bachelor, to wed and end

     His lonesome, sorry state,

Is like a bather in the sea,

Goose-pimpled, blue from neck to knee,

     Who cries, “The water’s great!”

 

 

 

 

 

Eve

RALPH HODGSON

 

Eve, with her basket, was

Deep in the bells and grass

Wading in bells and grass

Up to her knees,

Picking a dish of sweet

Berries and plums to eat,

Down in the bells and grass

Under the trees.

 

 

Mute as a mouse in a

Corner the cobra lay,

Curled round a bough of the

Cinnamon tall . . .

Now to get even and

Humble proud heaven and

Now was the moment or

Never at all.

 

 

‘Eva!’ Each syllable

Light as a flower fell,

‘Eva!’ he whispered the

Wondering maid,

Soft as a bubble sung

Out of a linnet’s lung,

Soft and most silverly

‘Eva!’ he said.

 

 

Picture that orchard sprite,

Eve, with her body white,

Supple and smooth to her

Slim finger tips,

Wondering, listening,

Listening, wondering,

Eve with a berry

Half-way to her lips.

 

 

Oh had our simple Eve

Seen through the make-believe!

Had she but known the

Pretender he was!

Out of the boughs he came,

Whispering still her name,

Tumbling in twenty rings

Into the grass.

 

 

Here was the strangest pair

In the world anywhere,

Eve in the bells and grass

Kneeling, and he

Telling his story low . . .

Singing birds saw them go

Down the dark path to

The Blasphemous Tree.

 

 

Oh, what a clatter when

Titmouse and Jenny Wren

Saw him successful and

Taking his leave!

How the birds rated him,

How they all hated him!

How they all pitied

Poor motherless Eve!

 

 

Picture her crying

Outside in the lane,

Eve, with no dish of sweet

Berries and plums to eat,

Haunting the gate of the

Orchard in vain . . .

Picture the lewd delight

Under the hill tonight—

‘Eva!’ the toast goes round,

‘Eva!’ again.

 

 

 

 

 

Fear

RAYMOND CARVER

 

Fear of seeing a police car pull into the drive.

Fear of falling asleep at night.

Fear of not falling asleep.

Fear of the past rising up.

Fear of the present taking flight.

Fear of the telephone that rings in the dead of night.

Fear of electrical storms.

Fear of the cleaning woman who has a spot on her cheek!

Fear of dogs I’ve been told won’t bite.

Fear of anxiety!

Fear of having to identify the body of a dead friend.

Fear of running out of money.

Fear of having too much, though people will not believe this.

Fear of psychological profiles.

Fear of being late and fear of arriving before anyone else.

Fear of my children’s handwriting on envelopes.

Fear they’ll die before I do, and I’ll feel guilty.

Fear of having to live with my mother in her old age, and mine.

Fear of confusion.

Fear this day will end on an unhappy note.

Fear of waking up to find you gone.

Fear of not loving and fear of not loving enough.

Fear that what I love will prove lethal to those I love.

Fear of death.

Fear of living too long.

Fear of death.

 

 

I’ve said that.

 

 

 

 

 

Hawks

CHARLES TOMLINSON

 

Hawks hovering, calling to each other

     Across the air, seem swung

Too high on the risen wind

     For the earth-clung contact of our world:

And yet we share with them that sense

     The season is bringing in, of all

The lengthening light is promising to exact

     From the obduracy of March.  The pair

After their kind are lovers and their cries

     Such as lovers alone exchange, and we

Though we cannot tell what it is they say,

     Caught up into their calling, are in their sway,

And ride where we cannot climb the steep

     And altering air, breathing the sweetness

Of our own excess, till we are kinned

     By space we never thought to enter

On capable wings to such reaches of desire.

 

 

 

 

 

He Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven

WILLIAM BUTLER YEATS

 

Had I the heavens’ embroidered cloths,

Enwrought with golden and silver light,

The blue and the dim and the dark cloths

Of night and light and the half-light,

I would spread the cloths under your feet:

But I, being poor, have only my dreams;

I have spread my dreams under your feet;

Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.

 

 

 

 

 

The Highwayman

ALFRED NOYES

 

PART I

 

The wind was a torrent of darkness among the gusty trees.

The moon was a ghostly galleon tossed upon cloudy seas.

The road was a ribbon of moonlight over the purple moor,

And the highwayman came riding–

          Riding–riding–

The highwayman came riding, up to the old inn-door.

 

 

He’d a French cocked-hat on his forehead, a bunch of lace at his chin,

A coat of the claret velvet, and breeches of brown doe-skin.

They fitted with never a wrinkle.  His boots were up to the thigh.

And he rode with a jewelled twinkle,

          His pistol butts a-twinkle,

His rapier hilt a-twinkle, under the jewelled sky.

 

 

Over the cobbles he clattered and clashed in the dark inn-yard.

He tapped with his whip on the shutters, but all was locked and barred.

He whistled a tune to the window, and who should be waiting there

But the landlord’s black-eyed daughter,

          Bess, the landlord’s daughter,

Plaiting a dark red love-knot into her long black hair.

 

 

And dark in the dark old inn-yard a stable-wicket creaked

Where Tim the ostler listened.  His face was white and peaked.

His eyes were hollows of madness, his hair like mouldy hay,

But he loved the landlord’s daughter,

          The landlord’s red-lipped daughter.

Dumb as a dog he listened, and he heard the robber say–

 

 

‘One kiss, my bonny sweetheart, I’m after a prize to-night,

But I shall be back with the yellow gold before the morning light;

Yet, if they press me sharply, and harry me through the day,

Then look for me by moonlight,

          Watch for me by moonlight,

I’ll come to thee by moonlight, though hell should bar the way.’

 

 

He rose upright in the stirrups.  He scarce could reach her hand,

But she loosened her hair in the casement.  His face burnt like a brand

As the black cascade of perfume came tumbling over his breast;

And he kissed its waves in the moonlight,

          (O, sweet black waves in the moonlight!)

Then he tugged at his rein in the moonlight, and galloped away to the west.

 

 

PART II

 

He did not come in the dawning.  He did not come at noon;

And out of the tawny sunset, before the rise of the moon,

When the road was a gypsy’s ribbon, looping the purple moor,

A red-coat troop came marching–

          Marching–marching–

King George’s men came marching, up to the old inn-door.

 

 

They said no word to the landlord.  They drank his ale instead.

But they gagged his daughter, and bound her, to the foot of her narrow bed.

Two of them knelt at her casement, with muskets at their side!

There was death at every window;

          And hell at one dark window;

For Bess could see, through her casement, the road that he would ride.

 

 

They had tied her up to attention, with many a sniggering jest.

They had bound a musket beside her, with the muzzle beneath her breast!

‘Now, keep good watch!’ and they kissed her.  She heard the doomed man say–

Look for me by moonlight;

          Watch for me by moonlight;

I’ll come to thee by moonlight, though hell should bar the way!

 

 

She twisted her hands behind her; but all the knots held good!

She writhed her hands till her fingers were wet with sweat or blood!

They stretched and strained in the darkness, and the hours crawled by like years

Till, now, on the stroke of midnight,

          Cold, on the stroke of midnight,

The tip of one finger touched it!  The trigger at least was hers!

 

 

The tip of one finger touched it.  She strove no more for the rest.

Up, she stood up to attention, with the muzzle beneath her breast.

She would not risk their hearing; she would not strive again;

For the road lay bare in the moonlight;

          Blank and bare in the moonlight;

And the blood of her veins, in the moonlight, throbbed to her love’s refrain.

 

 

Tlot-tlot; tlot-tlot!  Had they heard it?  The horsehoofs ringing clear;

Tlot-tlot; tlot-tlot, in the distance?  Were they deaf that they did not hear?

Down the ribbon of moonlight, over the brow of the hill,

The highwayman came riding–

          Riding–riding–

The red coats looked to their priming!  She stood up, straight and still.

 

 

Tlot-tlot, in the frosty silence!  Tlot-tlot, in the echoing night!

Nearer he came and nearer.  His face was like a light.

Her eyes grew wide for moment; she drew one last deep breath,

Then her finger moved in the moonlight,

          Her musket shattered the moonlight,

Shattered her breast in the moonlight and warned him–with her death.

 

 

He turned.  He spurred to the west; he did not know who stood

Bowed, with her head o’er the musket, drenched with her own blood!

Not till the dawn he heard it, and his face grew grey to hear

How Bess, the landlord’s daughter,

          The landlord’s black-eyed daughter,

Had watched for her love in the moonlight, and died in the darkness there.

 

 

Back, he spurred like a madman, shrieking a curse to the sky,

With the white road smoking behind him and his rapier brandished high.

Blood red were his spurs in the golden noon; wine-red was his velvet coat;

When they shot him down on the highway,

          Down like a dog on the highway,

And he lay in his blood on the highway, with a bunch of lace at his throat.

 

 

*  *  *  *  *

 

 

And still of a winter’s night, they say, when the wind is in the trees,

When the moon is a ghostly galleon tossed upon cloudy seas,

When the road is a ribbon of moonlight over the purple moor,

A highwayman comes riding–

          Riding–riding–

A highwayman comes riding, up to the old inn-door.

 

 

Over the cobbles he clatters and clangs in the dark inn-yard.

He taps with his whip on the shutters, but all is locked and barred.

He whistles a tune to the window, and who should be waiting there

But the landlord’s black-eyed daughter,

          Bess, the landlord’s daughter,

Plaiting a dark red love-knot into her long black hair.

 

 

 

 

 

Hymn to the Night

HENRY WADSWORTH LONGFELLOW

 

'Ασπασίη, τρίλλιστος

 

I heard the trailing garments of the Night

     Sweep through her marble halls!

I saw her sable skirts all fringed with light

     From the celestial walls!

 

 

I felt her presence, by its spell of might,

     Stoop o’er me from above;

The calm, majestic presence of the Night,

     As of the one I love.

 

 

I heard the sounds of sorrow and delight,

     The manifold, soft chimes,

That fill the haunted chambers of the Night

     Like some old poet’s rhymes.

 

 

From the cool cisterns of the midnight air

     My spirit drank repose;

The fountain of perpetual peace flows there,—

     From those deep cisterns flows.

 

 

O holy Night! from thee I learn to bear

     What man has borne before!

Thou layest thy finger on the lips of Care,

     And they complain no more.

 

 

Peace!  Peace!  Orestes-like I breathe this prayer!

     Descend with broad-winged flight,

The welcome, the thrice-prayed for, the most fair,

     The best-beloved Night!

 

 

 

 

 

Internal Harmony

GEORGE MEREDITH

 

Assured of worthiness we do not dread

Competitors; we rather give them hail

And greeting in the lists where we may fail:

Must, if we bear an aim beyond the head!

My betters are my masters:  purely fed

By their sustainment I likewise shall scale

Some rocky steps between the mount and vale;

Meanwhile the mark I have and I will wed.

So that I draw the breath of finer air,

Station is nought, nor footways laurel-strewn,

Nor rivals tightly belted for the race,

Good speed to them!  My place is here or there;

My pride is that among them I have place:

And thus I keep this instrument in tune.

 

 

 

 

 

Intoxication

BORIS PASTERNAK

 

Under osiers with ivy ingrown

We are trying to hide from bad weather.

I am clasping your arms in my own,

In one cloak we are huddled together.

 

 

I was wrong.  Not with ivy-leaves bound,

But with hops overgrown is the willow.

Well then, let us spread out on the ground

This our cloak as a sheet and a pillow.

 

 

 

 

 

It Is a Beauteous Evening

WILLIAM WORDSWORTH

 

It is a beauteous evening, calm and free;

The holy time is quiet as a nun

Breathless with adoration; the broad sun

Is sinking down in its tranquillity;

The gentleness of heaven broods o’er the sea:

Listen!  the mighty Being is awake,

And doth with his eternal motion make

A sound like thunder—everlastingly.

Dear child!  dear girl!  that walkest with me here,

If thou appear untouched by solemn thought,

Thy nature is not therefore less divine:

Thou liest in Abraham’s bosom all the year,

And worship’st at the Temple’s inner shrine,

God being with thee when we know it not.

 

 

 

 

 

The Junior God

ROBERT WILLIAM SERVICE

 

The Junior God looked from his place

     In the conning towers of heaven,

And he saw the world through the span of space

     Like a giant golf-ball driven.

And because he was bored, as some gods are,

     With high celestial mirth,

He clutched the reins of a shooting star,

     And he steered it down to earth.

 

 

The Junior God, ’mid leaf and bud,

     Passed on with a weary air,

Till lo! he came to a pool of mud,

     And some hogs were rolling there.

Then in he plunged with gleeful cries,

     And down he lay supine;

For they had no mud in paradise,

     And they likewise had no swine.

 

 

The Junior God forgot himself;

     He squelched mud through his toes;

With the careless joy of a wanton boy

     His reckless laughter rose.

Till, tired at last, in a brook close by,

     He washed off every stain;

Then softly up to the radiant sky

     He rose, a god again.

 

 

The Junior God now heads the roll

     In the list of heaven’s peers;

He sits in the House of High Control,

     And he regulates the spheres.

Yet does he wonder, do you suppose,

     If, even in gods divine,

The best and wisest may not be those

     Who have wallowed awhile with the swine?

 

 

 

 

 

The Last Leaf

OLIVER WENDELL HOLMES

 

I saw him once before,

As he passed by the door,

          And again

The pavement stones resound

As he totters o’er the ground

          With his cane.

 

 

They say that in his prime,

Ere the pruning knife of Time

          Cut him down,

Not a better man was found

By the crier on his round

          Through the town.

 

 

But now he walks the streets,

And he looks at all he meets

          Sad and wan,

And he shakes his feeble head,

That it seems as if he said,

          ‘They are gone.’

 

 

The mossy marbles rest

On the lips that he has prest

          In their bloom,

And the names he loved to hear

Have been carved for many a year

          On the tomb.

 

 

My grandmamma has said—

Poor old lady, she is dead

          Long ago—

That he had a Roman nose,

And his cheek was like a rose

          In the snow.

 

 

But now his nose is thin,

And it rests upon his chin

          Like a staff,

And a crook is in his back,

And a melancholy crack

          In his laugh.

 

 

I know it is a sin

For me to sit and grin

          At him here;

But the old three-cornered hat,

And the breeches, and all that,

          Are so queer!

 

 

And if I should live to be

The last leaf upon the tree

          In the spring,

Let them smile, as I do now,

At the old forsaken bough

          Where I cling.

 

 

 

 

 

Lazybones

PABLO NERUDA

 

In Chile now, cherries are dancing,

the dark, secretive girls are singing,

and in guitars, water is shining.

 

 

The sun is touching every door

and making wonder of the wheat.

 

 

The first wine is pink in colour,

is sweet with the sweetness of a child,

the second wine is able-bodied,

strong like the voice of a sailor,

the third wine is a topaz, is

a poppy and a fire in one.

 

 

My house has both the sea and the earth,

my woman has great eyes

the colour of wild hazelnut,

when night comes down, the sea

puts on a dress of white and green,
and later the moon in the spindrift foam

dreams like a sea-green girl.

 

 

I have no wish to change my planet.

 

 

 

 

 

Love

(Author is unknown.)

 

There’s the wonderful love of a beautiful maid,

     And the love of a staunch true man,

And the love of a baby that’s unafraid—

     All have existed since time began.

But the most wonderful love, the Love of all loves,

     Even greater than the love for Mother,

Is the infinite, tenderest, passionate love

     Of one dead drunk for another.

 

 

 

 

 

Love (III)

GEORGE HERBERT

 

Love bade me welcome:  yet my soul drew back,

                       Guilty of dust and sin.

But quick-eyed Love, observing me grow slack

                       From my first entrance in,

Drew nearer to me, sweetly questioning

                       If I lacked anything.

 

 

‘A guest,’ I answered, ‘worthy to be here’:

                       Love said, ‘You shall be he.’

‘I, the unkind, ungrateful?  Ah, my dear,

                       I cannot look on thee.’

Love took my hand, and smiling did reply,

                       ‘Who made the eyes but I?’

 

 

‘Truth, Lord; but I have marred them; let my shame

                       Go where it doth deserve.’

‘And know you not,’ says Love, ‘who bore the blame?’

                       ‘My dear, then I will serve.’

‘You must sit down,’ says Love, ‘and taste my meat.’

                       So I did sit and eat.

 

 

 

 

 

Love in Twilight

STEPHEN VINCENT BENÉT

 

THERE is darkness behind the light—and the pale light drips

Cold on vague shapes and figures, that, half-seen loom

Like the carven prows of proud, far-triumphing ships—

And the firelight wavers and changes about the room,

 

 

As the three logs crackle and burn with a small still sound;

Half-blotting with dark the deeper dark of her hair,

Where she lies, head pillowed on arm, and one hand curved round

To shield the white face and neck from the faint thin glare.

 

 

Gently she breathes—and the long limbs lie at ease,

And the rise and fall of the young, slim, virginal breast

Is as certain-sweet as the march of slow wind through trees,

Or the great soft passage of clouds in a sky at rest.

 

 

I kneel, and our arms enlace, and we kiss long, long.

I am drowned in her as in sleep.  There is no more pain.

Only the rustle of flames like a broken song

That rings half-heard through the dusty halls of the brain.

 

 

One shaking and fragile moment of ecstasy,

While the grey gloom flutters and beats like an owl above.

And I would not move or speak for the sea or the sky

Or the flame-bright wings of the miraculous Dove!

 

 

 

 

 

Love Song:  I and Thou

ALAN DUGAN

 

Nothing is plumb, level or square:

     the studs are bowed, the joists

are shaky by nature, no piece fits

     any other piece without a gap

or pinch, and bent nails

     dance all over the surfacing

like maggots.  By Christ

     I am no carpenter.  I built

the roof for myself, the walls

     for myself, the floors

for myself, and got

     hung up in it myself.  I

danced with a purple thumb

     at this house-warming, drunk

with my prime whiskey:  rage.

     Oh I spat rage’s nails

into the frame-up of my work:

     it held.  It settled plumb,

level, solid, square and true

     for that one moment.  Then

it screamed and went on through

     skewing as wrong the other way.

God damned it.  This is hell,

     but I planned it, I sawed it,

I nailed it, and I

     will live in it until it kills me.

I can nail my left palm

     to the left-hand cross-piece but

I can’t do everything myself.

     I need a hand to nail the right,

a help, a love, a you, a wife.

 

 

 

 

 

Love-Hate1

GAIUS VALERIUS CATULLUS

 

I hate and I love.  And why, perhaps you’ll ask.

I don’t know:  but I feel, and I’m tormented.

 

 

1Alternate more contemporary translation is later poem ‘LXXXV’.  ‘Love-Hate’ is Catullus’ eighty-fifth poetry piece.

 

 

 

 

 

Lucifer in Starlight

GEORGE MEREDITH

 

On a starred night Prince Lucifer uprose.

Tired of his dark dominion, swung the fiend

Above the rolling ball, in cloud part screened,

Where sinners hugged their specter of repose.

Poor prey to his hot fit of pride were those.

And now upon his western wing he leaned,

Now his huge bulk o’er Afric’s sands careened,

Now the black planet shadowed Arctic snows.

Soaring through wider zones that pricked his scars

With memory of the old revolt from Awe,

He reached a middle height, and at the stars,

Which are the brain of heaven, he looked, and sank.

Around the ancient track marched, rank on rank,

The army of unalterable law.

 

 

 

 

 

LXXXV2

GAIUS VALERIUS CATULLUS

 

I hate and I love.  Why? you might ask

but I can’t tell.  The feeling seizes me

and riddles me with pain.

 

 

2Literal translation is earlier poem ‘Love-Hate’.

 

 

 

 

 

May He Lose His Way on the Cold Sea

ARCHILOCHUS

 

May he lose his way on the cold sea

And swim to the heathen Salmydessos,

May the ungodly Thracians with their hair

Done up in a fright on the top of their heads

Grab him, that he may know what it is to be alone

Without friend or family.  May he eat slave’s bread

And suffer the plague and freeze naked,

Laced about with the nasty trash of the sea.

May his teeth knock the top on the bottom

As he lies on his face, spitting brine,

At the edge of the cold sea, like a dog.

And all this it would be a privilege to watch,

Giving me great satisfaction as it would,

For he took back the word he gave in honor,

Over the salt and table at a friendly meal.

 

 

 

 

 

The Men that Don’t Fit In

ROBERT WILLIAM SERVICE

 

There’s a race of men that don’t fit in,

     A race that can’t stay still;

So they break the hearts of kith and kin,

    And they roam the world at will.

They range the field and they rove the flood,

     And they climb the mountain’s crest;

Theirs is the curse of the gypsy blood,

     And they don’t know how to rest.

 

 

If they just went straight they might go far;

     They are strong and brave and true;

But they’re always tired of the things that are,

     And they want the strange and new.

They say:  ‘Could I find my proper groove,

     What a deep mark I would make!’

So they chop and change, and each fresh move

     Is only a fresh mistake.

 

 

And each forgets, as he strips and runs

     With a brilliant, fitful pace,

It’s the steady, quiet, plodding ones

     Who win the lifelong race.

And each forgets that his youth has fled,

     Forgets that his prime is past,

Till he stands one day, with a hope that’s dead,

     In the glare of the truth at last.

 

 

He has failed, he has failed; he has missed his chance;

     He has just done things by half.

Life’s been a jolly good joke on him,

     And now is the time to laugh.

Ha, ha!  He is one of the Legion Lost;

     He was never meant to win;

He’s a rolling stone, and it’s bred in the bone;

     He’s a man who won’t fit in.






The Mortgage:  to Furius3

GAIUS VALERIUS CATULLUS

 

Furius, your little villa’s not exposed

to the southerlies, or the westerlies,

the savage north-wind, or the easterly breeze,

but truly to fifteen thousand two hundred cash.

O terrifying and destructive wind!

 

 

3’The Mortgage:  to Furius’ is Catullus’ twenty-sixth poetic work; translation is literal.

 

 

 

 

 

My Star

ROBERT BROWNING

 

All that I know

     Of a certain star

Is, it can throw

     (Like the angled spar)

Now a dart of red,

     Now a dart of blue;

Till my friends have said

     They would fain see, too,

My star that dartles the red and the blue!

 

 

Then it stops like a bird; like a flower, hangs furled:

     They must solace themselves with the Saturn above it.

What matter to me if their star is a world?

     Mine has opened its soul to me; therefore I love it.

 

 

 

 

 

Oh terrible, beloved!  A poet’s loving

BORIS PASTERNAK

 

Oh terrible, beloved!  A poet’s loving

Is a restless god’s passionate rage,

And chaos out into the world comes creeping,

As in the ancient fossil age.

 

 

His eyes weep him mist by the ton,

Enveloped in tears he is mammoth-like,

Out of fashion.  He knows it must not be done.

Ages have passed-he does not know why.

 

 

He sees wedding parties all around,

Drunken unions celebrated unaware,

Common frogspawn found in every pond

Ritually adorned as precious caviare.

 

 

Like some Watteau pearl, how cleverly

A snuffbox embraces all life’s matter,

And vengeance is wreaked on him, probably

Because, where they distort and flatter,

 

 

Where simpering comfort lies and fawns,

Where they rub idle shoulders, crawl like drones,

He will raise your sister from the ground,

Use her like a bacchante from the Grecian urns,

 

 

And pour into his kiss the Andes’ melting,

And morning in the steppe, under the sway

Of dusted stars, as night’s pallid bleating

Bustles about the village on its way.

 

 

And the botanical vestry’s dense blackness,

And all the ravine’s age-old breath,

Waft over the ennui of the stuffed mattress,

And the forest’s ancient chaos spurts forth

 

 

 

 

 

On a Clergyman’s Horse Biting Him

(Author is unknown.)

 

The steed bit his master;

     How came this to pass?

He heard the good pastor

     Cry, ‘All flesh is grass.’

 

 

 

 

 

On Looking for Models

ALAN DUGAN

 

The trees in time

have something else to do

besides their treeing.  What is it.

I’m a starving to death

man myself, and thirsty, thirsty

by their fountains but I cannot drink

their mud and sunlight to be whole.

I do not understand these presences

that drink for months

in the dirt, eat light,

and then fast dry in the cold.

They stand it out somehow,

and how, the Botanists will tell me.

It is the ‘something else’ that bothers

me, so I often go back to the forests.

 

 

 

 

 

Parental Pride

RICHARD WILLARD ARMOUR

 

My day-old son is plenty scrawny,

his mouth is wide with screams, or yawny;

His ears seem larger than he’s needing,

His nose is flat, his chin’s receding.

His skin is very, very red,

He has no hair upon his head,

and yet I’m proud as can be,

To hear you say he looks like me.

 

 

 

 

 

Poetry Is a Destructive Force

WALLACE STEVENS

 

That’s what misery is,

Nothing to have at heart.

It is to have or nothing.

It is a thing to have,

A lion, an ox in his breast,

To feel it breathing there.

 

 

Corazon, stout dog,

Young ox, bow-legged bear,

He tastes its blood, not spit.

 

 

He is like a man

In the body of a violent beast

Its muscles are his own . . .

 

 

The lion sleeps in the sun.

Its nose is on its paws.

It can kill a man.

 

 

 

 

 

Portrait of the Artist as a Prematurely Old Man

OGDEN NASH

 

It is common knowledge to every schoolboy and even every Bachelor of Arts,

That all sin is divided into two parts.

One kind of sin is called a sin of commission, and that is very important,

And it is what you are doing when you are doing something you ortant,

And the other kind of sin is just the opposite and is called a sin of omission and is equally bad in the eyes of all right-thinking people, from Billy Sunday to Buddha,

And it consists of not having done something you shuddha.

I might as well give you my opinion of these two kinds of sin as long as, in a way, against each other we are pitting them,

And that is, don’t bother your head about sins of commission because however sinful, they must at least be fun or else you wouldn’t be committing them.

It is the sin of omission, the second kind of sin,

That lays eggs under your skin.

The way you get really painfully bitten

Is by the insurance you haven’t taken out and the checks you haven’t added up the stubs of and the appointments you haven’t kept and the bills you haven’t paid and the letters you haven’t written.

Also, about sins of omission there is one particularly painful lack of beauty,

Namely, it isn’t as though it had been a riotous red-letter day or night every time you neglected to do your duty;

You didn’t get a wicked forbidden thrill

Every time you let a policy lapse or forgot to pay a bill;

You didn’t slap the lads in the tavern on the back and loudly cry Whee,

Let’s all fail to write just one more letter before we go home, and this round of unwritten letters is on me.

No, you never get any fun

Out of things you haven’t done,

But they are the things that I do not like to be amid,

Because the suitable things you didn’t do give you a lot more trouble than the unsuitable things you did.

The moral is that it is probably better not to sin at all, but if some kind of sin you must be pursuing,

Well, remember to do it by doing rather than by not doing.

 

 

 

 

 

Psalm 121:  A song of degrees

KING DAVID

 

I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help.

My help cometh from the LORD, which made heaven and earth.

He will not suffer thy foot to be moved:  he that keepeth thee will not slumber.

Behold, he that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep.

The LORD is thy keeper:  the LORD is thy shade upon thy right hand.

The sun shall not smite thee by day, nor the moon by night.

The LORD shall preserve thee from all evil:  he shall preserve thy soul.

The LORD shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth, and even for evermore.

 

 

 

 

 

Psalm 133:  A song of degrees of David

KING DAVID

 

Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!

It is like the precious ointment upon the head, that ran down upon the beard, even Aaron’s beard:  that went down to the skirts of his garments;

As the dew of Herˊ-mon, and as the dew that descended upon the mountains of Zion:  for there the LORD commanded the blessing, even life for evermore.

 

 

 

 

 

Relativity and the ‘Physics’ of Love

ALBERT EINSTEIN

 

Sit next to a pretty girl for an hour,
it seems like a minute.
Sit on a red-hot stove for a minute,
it seems like an hour.
That's relativity!

 

 

Oh, it should be possible
to explain the laws of physics
to a barmaid! . . .
but how could she ever,
in a million years,
explain love to an Einstein?

 

 

All these primary impulses,
not easily described in words,
are the springboards
of man's actions—because
any man who can drive safely
while kissing a pretty girl
is simply not giving the kiss
the attention it deserves!

 

 

 

 

 

Remembrance

EMILY BRONTË

 

Cold in the earth—and the deep snow piled above thee,

Far, far removed, cold in the dreary grave!

Have I forgot, my only Love, to love thee,

Severed at last by Time’s all-severing wave?

 

 

Now, when alone, do my thoughts no longer hover

Over the mountains, on that northern shore,

Resting their wings where heath and fern leaves cover

Thy noble heart forever, ever more?

 

 

Cold in the earth—and fifteen wild Decembers,

From those brown hills, have melted into spring;

Faithful, indeed, is the spirit that remembers

After such years of change and suffering!

 

 

Sweet Love of youth, forgive, if I forget thee,

While the world’s tide is bearing me along;

Other desires and other hopes beset me,

Hopes which obscure, but cannot do thee wrong!

 

 

No later light has lightened up my heaven,

No second morn has ever shone for me;

All my life’s bliss from thy dear life was given,

All my life’s bliss is in the grave with thee.

 

 

But, when the days of golden dreams had perished,

And even Despair was powerless to destroy,

Then did I learn how existence could be cherished,

Strengthened, and fed without the aid of joy.

 

 

Then did I check the tears of useless passion—

Weaned my young soul from yearning after thine;

Sternly denied its burning wish to hasten

Down to that tomb already more than mine.

 

 

And, even yet, I dare not let it languish,

Dare not indulge in memory’s rapturous pain;

Once drinking deep of that divinest anguish,

How could I seek the empty world again?

 

 

 

 

 

Rhyme 21

GUSTAVO ADOLFO BÉCQUER

 

What is poetry? you ask, while fixing

your blue pupil on mine.

What is poetry!  And you are asking me?

Poetry . . . is you.

 

 

¿Qué es poesía?, dices mientras clavas

en mi pupila tu pupila azul.

¡Qué es poesía!  ¿Y tú me lo preguntas?

Poesía . . . eres tú.

 

 

 

 

 

Rose Aylmer

WALTER SAVAGE LANDOR

 

Ah, what avails the sceptered race,

     Ah, what the form divine!

What every virtue, every grace!

     Rose Aylmer, all were thine.

 

 

Rose Aylmer, whom these wakeful eyes

     May weep, but never see,

A night of memories and of sighs

     I consecrate to thee.

 

 

 

 

 

The Seven Spiritual Ages of Mrs. Marmaduke Moore

OGDEN NASH

 

Mrs. Marmaduke Moore, at the age of ten

(Her name was Jemima Jevons then),

Was the quaintest of little country maids.

Her pigtails slapped on her shoulderblades;

She fed the chickens, and told the truth

And could spit like a boy through a broken tooth.

She could climb a tree to the topmost perch,

And she used to pray in the Methodist church.

 

 

At the age of twenty her heart was pure,

And she caught the fancy of Mr. Moore.

He broke his troth (to a girl named Alice),

And carried her off to his city palace,

Where she soon forgot her childhood piety

And joined the orgies of high society.

Her voice grew English, or, say, Australian,

And she studied to be an Episcopalian.

 

 

At thirty our lives are still before us,

But Mr. Moore had a friend in the chorus.

Connubial bliss was overthrown

And Mrs. Moore now slumbered alone.

Hers was a nature that craved affection;

She gave herself up to introspection;

Then finding theosophy rather dry

Found peace in the sweet Bahai and Bahai.

 

 

Forty! and still an abandoned wife,

She felt old urges stirring to life,

She dipped her locks in a bowl of henna

And booked a passage through to Vienna.

She paid a professor a huge emolument

To demonstrate what his ponderous volumes meant.

Returning she preached to the unemployed

The gospel according to St. Freud.

 

 

Fifty! she haunted museums and galleries,

And pleased young men by augmenting their salaries.

Oh, it shouldn’t occur, but it does occur,

That poets are made by fools like her.

Her salon was full of frangipani,

Roumanian, Russian and Hindustani

And she conquered par as well as bogey

By reading a book and going Yogi.

 

 

Sixty! and time was on her hands—

Maybe remorse and maybe glands.

She felt a need for free confession

To publish each youthful indiscretion,

And before she was gathered to her mothers,

To compare her sinlets with those of others,

Mrs. Moore gave a joyous whoop,

And immersed herself in the Oxford group.

 

 

That is the story of Mrs. Moore,

As far as it goes.  But of this I’m sure—

When seventy stares her in the face

She’ll have found some other state of grace.

Mohammed may be her lord and master,

Or Zeus, or Mithros, or Zoroaster,

For when a lady is badly sexed

God knows what God is coming next.

 

 

 

 

 

Song:  When I Am Dead, My Dearest

CHRISTINA GEORGINA ROSSETTI

 

When I am dead, my dearest,

     Sing no sad songs for me;

Plant thou no roses at my head,

     Nor shady cypress tree.

Be the green grass above me

     With showers and dewdrops wet;

And if thou wilt, remember,

     And if thou wilt, forget.

 

 

I shall not see the shadows,

     I shall not feel the rain;

I shall not hear the nightingale

     Sing on as if in pain.

And dreaming through the twilight

     That doth not rise nor set,

Haply I may remember,

     And haply may forget.

 

 

 

 

 

Sonnet 43:  From the Portuguese

(How Do I Love Thee?  Let Me Count the Ways)

ELIZABETH BARRETT BROWNING

 

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 everyday's
Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.
I love thee freely, as men strive for Right;
I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise.
I love thee with the passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood's faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
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.

 

 

 

 

 

Sonnet 116:  Shakespeare’s Sonnets/

SHAKE-SPEARES SONNETS.

(Let Me Not to the Marriage of True Minds)

WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE

 

Let me not to the marriage of true minds

Admit impediments.  Love is not love

Which alters when it alteration finds,

Or bends with the remover to remove,

O, no! it is an ever-fixèd mark

That looks on tempests and is never shaken;

It is the star to every wand’ring bark,

Whose worth’s unknown, although his height be taken.

Love’s not Time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks

Within his bending sickle’s compass come;

Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,

But bears it out even to the edge of doom.

     If this be error and upon me proved,

     I never writ, nor no man ever loved.

 

 

 

 

 

Sunday Mornin’ Comin’ Down

KRIS KRISTOFFERSON

 

Well, I woke up Sunday mornin’

     with no way to hold my head that didn’t hurt;

And the beer I had for breakfast wasn’t bad,

     so I had one more for dessert;

Then I fumbled in my closet

     through my clothes and found my cleanest dirty shirt;

Then I washed my face, and combed my hair,

     and stumbled down the stairs to meet the day.

 

 

I’d smoked my mind the night before

     with cigarettes and songs I’d been pickin’;

But I lit my first and watched a small kid

     playing with a can that he was kickin’;

Then I walked across the empty street and caught

     the Sunday smell of someone fryin’ chicken;

And it took me back to somethin’ that

     I’d lost somewhere somehow along the way.

 

 

On the Sunday mornin’ sidewalk, I’m wishin, Lord, that I was stoned,

     ‘Cause there’s something in a Sunday that makes a body feel alone;

     And there’s nothing short of dyin’ that’s half as lonesome as the sound

          On the sleeping city sidewalk; and Sunday mornin’ comin’ down.

 

 

In the park I saw a daddy

     with a laughing little girl that he was swingin’;

And I stopped beside a Sunday school

     and listened to the song they were singin’;

Then I headed down the street,

     and somewhere far away a lonely bell was ringin’;

And it echoed thru the canyon

     like a disappearing dream of yesterday.

 

 

On the Sunday mornin’ sidewalk, I’m wishin’, Lord, that I was stoned,

     ‘Cause there’s something in a Sunday that make a body feel alone;

     And there’s nothing short of dyin’ that’s half as lonesome as the sound

          On the sleeping city sidewalk; and Sunday mornin’ comin’ down.

 

 

 

 

 

Thirty Days Hath September

(Author is unknown.)

 

Thirty days hath September,

ApriI, June, and November.

All the rest have thirty-one,

Except February alone,

To which we twenty-eight assign,

Till leap year makes it twenty-nine.

 

 

 

 

 

This Heart that Flutters Near My Heart

JAMES JOYCE

 

This heart that flutters near my heart
My hope and all my riches is,
Unhappy when we draw apart

And happy between kiss and kiss;

My hope and all my riches—yes!—

And all my happiness.

 

 

For there, as in some mossy nest
The wrens will divers treasures keep,
I laid those treasures I possessed

Ere that mine eyes had learned to weep.

Shall we not be as wise as they

Though love live but a day?

 

 

 

 

 

The Three Roses4

WALTER SAVAGE LANDOR

 

When the buds began to burst,

Long ago, with Rose the First

I was walking; joyous then

Far above all other men,

Till before us up there stood

Britonferry’s oaken wood,

Whispering, ‘Happy as thou art,

Happiness and thou must part.’

Many summers have gone by

Since a Second Rose and I

(Rose from that same stem) have told

This and other tales of old.

She upon her wedding day

Carried home my tenderest lay:

From her lap I now have heard

Gleeful, chirping, Rose the Third.

Not for her this hand of mine

Rhyme with nuptial wreath shall twine;

Cold and torpid it must lie,

Mute the tongue, and closed the eye.

 

 

4This sequel to the poem, Rose Aylmer, is a romanticized biography of the Rose Aylmer daughters’ line with the first Rose being Rose Aylmer herself, the second her niece, and third her grandniece.

 

 

 

 

 

To a Young Girl

WILLIAM BUTLER YEATS

 

My dear, my dear, I know

More than another

What makes your heart beat so;

Not even your own mother

Can know it as I know,

Who broke my heart for her

When the wild thought,

That she denies

And has forgot,

Set all her blood astir

And glittered in her eyes.

 

 

 

 

 

To My Dear and Loving Husband5

ANNE DUDLEY BRADSTREET

 

If ever two were one, then surely we.

If ever man were lov’d by wife, then thee;

If ever wife was happy in a man,

Compare with me ye women if you can.

I prize thy love more than whole Mines of gold,

Or all the riches that the East doth hold.

My love is such that Rivers cannot quench,

Nor ought but love from thee, give recompence.

Thy love is such I can no way repay,

The heavens reward thee manifold I pray.

Then while we live, in love lets so persever,

That when we live no more, we may live ever.

 

 

5‘To My Dear and Loving Husband’ was first published in 1678.

 

 

 

 

 

To Myself

PAUL FLEMING

 

Let nothing make thee sad or fretful,

   Or too regretful;

       Be still;

What God hath ordered must be right;

Then find in it thine own delight,

       My will.

 

 

Why shouldst thou fill to-day with sorrow

   About to-morrow.

       My heart?

_One_watches all with care most true;

Doubt not that he will give thee too

       Thy part.

 

 

Only be steadfast; never waver,

   Nor seek earth’s favor,

       But rest:

Thou knowest what God wills must be

For all his creatures, so for thee,

       The best.

 

 

 

 

 

Truth

JAMES HEARST

 

How the devil do I know
if there are rocks in your field,
plow it and find out.
If the plow strikes something
harder than earth, the point
shatters at a sudden blow
and the tractor jerks sidewise
and dumps you off the seat—
because the spring hitch
isn’t set to trip quickly enough
and it never is—probably
you hit a rock.  That means

the glacier emptied his pocket
in your field as well as mine,
but the connection with a thing

is the only truth that I know of,

so plow it.

 

 

 

 

 

The Two Rivers6

HENRY WADSWORTH LONGFELLOW

 

Slowly the hour-hand of the clock moves round;

So slowly that no human eye hath power

To see it move!  Slowly in shine or shower

The painted ship above it homeward bound,

Sails but seems motionless as if aground;

Yet both arrive at last; and in his tower

The slumberous watchman wakes and strikes the hour,

A mellow, measured, melancholy sound.

 

 

Midnight! the outpost of advancing day!

The frontier town and citadel of night!

The watershed of Time, from which the streams

Of Yesterday and Tomorrow take their way,

One to the land of promise and of light,

One to the land of darkness and of dreams.

 

 

6The object in this work is the classic grandfather clock, one with a miniature picture of a ship riding waves of the sea to the beat of the clock pendulum (the picture is located above the dial of the clock).  A miniature watchman emerges from his tower every hour to sound the new hour by his strike.

 

 

 

 

 

Village Don Juan

ROBERT WILLIAM SERVICE

 

Lord, I’m grey, my face is run,

But by old Harry, I’ve had my fun;

And all about, I seem to see

Lads and lassies that look like me;

Ice-blue eyes on every hand,

Handsomest youngsters in the land.

 

 

‘Old Stud Horse’ they say of me,

But back of my beard I laugh with glee.

Far and wide have I sown my seed,

Yet by the gods I’ve improved the breed:

From byre and stable to joiner’s bench,

From landlord’s daughter to serving wench.

 

 

Ice-blue eyes and blade-straight nose,

Stamp of my virile youth are those;

Now you’ll see them on every side,

Proof of my powers, far and wide:

Even the parson’ handsome scamp,

And the Doctor’s daughter have my stamp.

 

 

Many a matron cocks an eye

Of secret knowledge as I pass by;

As for the hubbies, what they don’t know

Will never hurt them, so let them go:

The offspring most they seem to prize

Have blade-straight noses and ice-blue byes.

 

 

Yet oh, I have a haunting dread

Brother and sister lust the bed;

The Parson’s and the Doctor’s lass,

Yestreen in the moon I saw them pass;

The thought of them wed is like a knife. . . .

Brother and sister – man and wife.

 

 

 

 

 

What Makes a Dad

(Author is unknown.)

 

God took the strength of a mountain,

The majesty of a tree,

The warmth of a summer sun,

The calm of a quiet sea,

The generous soul of nature,

The comforting arm of night,

The wisdom of the ages,

The power of the eagle’s flight,

The joy of a morning in spring,

The faith of a mustard seed,

The patience of eternity,

The depth of a family need,

Then God combined these qualities,

When there was nothing more to add,

He knew His masterpiece was complete,

And so, He called it . . . Dad

 

 

 

 

 

Women and Roses

ROBERT BROWNING

 

1

I dream of a red-rose tree.
And which of its roses three
Is the dearest rose to me?

 

 

2

Round and round, like a dance of snow
In a dazzling drift, as its guardians, go
Floating the women faded for ages,
Sculptured in stone, on the poet’s pages.
Then follow women fresh and gay,
Living and loving and loved today.
Last, in the rear, flee the multitude of maidens,
Beauties yet unborn.  And all, to one cadence,
They circle their rose on my rose tree.

 

 

3

Dear rose, thy term is reached,
Thy leaf hangs loose and bleached:
Bees pass it unimpeached.

 

 

4

Stay then, stoop, since I cannot climb,
You, great shapes of the antique time!
How shall I fix you, fire you, freeze you,
Break my heart at your feet to please you?
Oh, to possess and be possessed!
Hearts that beat 'neath each pallid breast!
Once but of love, the poesy, the passion,
Drink but once and die!—In vain, the same fashion,
They circle their rose on my rose tree.

 

 

5

Dear rose, thy joy’s undimmed,
Thy cup is ruby-rimmed,
Thy cup’s heart nectar-brimmed.

 

 

6

Deep, as drops from a statue’s plinth
The bee sucked in by the hyacinth,
So will I bury me while burning,
Quench like him at a plunge my yearning,
Eyes in your eyes, lips on your lips!
Fold me fast where the cincture slips,
Prison all my soul in eternities of pleasure,
Girdle me for once!  But no—the old measure,
They circle their rose on my rose tree.

 

 

7

Dear rose without a thorn,
Thy bud’s the babe unborn:
First streak of a new morn.

 

 

8

Wings, lend wings for the cold, the clear!
What is far conquers what is near.
Roses will bloom nor want beholders,
Sprung from the dust where our flesh molders.
What shall arrive with the cycle’s change?
A novel grace and a beauty strange.
I will make an Eve, be the artist that began her,
Shaped her to his mind!—Alas! in like manner
They circle their rose on my rose tree.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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