Sunday, September 30, 2007

Dawn-Angels by Agnes Mary Frances Darmesteter

All night I watched awake for morning,
At last the East grew all aflame,
The birds for welcome sang, or warning,
And with their singing morning came.

Along the gold-green heavens drifted
Pale wandering souls that shun the light,
Whose cloudy pinions, torn and rifted,
Had beat the bars of Heaven all night.

These clustered round the moon, but higher
A troop of shining spirits went,
Who were not made of wind or fire,
But some divine dream-element.

Some held the Light, while those remaining
Shook out their harvest-colored wings,
A faint unusual music raining,
(Whose sound was Light) on earthly things.

They sang, and as a mighty river
Their voices washed the night away,
From East to West ran one white shiver,
And waxen strong their song was Day.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

A White Rose by John Boyle O'Reilly

The red rose whispers of passion,
And the white rose breathes of love;
O the red rose is a falcon,
And the white rose is a dove.

But I send you a cream-white rosebud
With a flush on its petal tips;
For the love that is purest and sweetest
Has a kiss of desire on the lips.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Autumn Treasure by Richard le Galliene

Who will gather with me the fallen year,
This drift of forgotten forsaken leaves,
Ah! who give ear
To the sigh October heaves
At summer's passing by!
Who will come walk with me
On this Persian carpet of purple and gold
The weary autumn weaves,
And be as sad as I?
Gather the wealth of the fallen rose,
And watch how the memoried south wind blows
Old dreams and old faces upon the air,
And all things fair.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

O spite from A Midsummer Night's Dream by William Shakespeare

O spite! O hell! I see you all are bent
To set against me for your merriment:
If you we re civil and knew courtesy,
You would not do me thus much injury.
Can you not hate me, as I know you do,
But you must join in souls to mock me too?
If you were men, as men you are in show,
You would not use a gentle lady so;
To vow, and swear, and superpraise my parts,
When I am sure you hate me with your hearts.
You both are rivals, and love Hermia;
And now both rivals, to mock Helena:
A trim exploit, a manly enterprise,
To conjure tears up in a poor maid's eyes
With your derision! none of noble sort
Would so offend a virgin, and extort
A poor soul's patience, all to make you sport.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

To Alfred Tennyson by Robert Stephen Hawker

They told me in their shadowy phrase,
Caught from a tale gone by,
That Arthur, King of Cornish praise,
Died not, and would not die.

Dreams had they, that in fairy bowers
Their living warrior lies,
Or wears a garland of the flowers
That grow in Paradise.

I read the rune with deeper ken,
And thus the myth I trace:—
A bard should rise, mid future men,
The mightiest of his race.

He would great Arthur’s deeds rehearse
On gray Dundagel’s shore;
And so the King in laurell’d verse
Shall live, and die no more!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Aloof by Christina Rossetti

The irresponsive silence of the land,
The irresponsive sounding of the sea,
Speak both one message of one sense to me:—
Aloof, aloof, we stand aloof, so stand
Thou too aloof, bound with the flawless band
Of inner solitude; we bind not thee;
But who from thy self-chain shall set thee free?
What heart shall touch thy heart? What hand thy hand?
And I am sometimes proud and sometimes meek,
And sometimes I remember days of old
When fellowship seem'd not so far to seek,
And all the world and I seem'd much less cold,
And at the rainbow's foot lay surely gold,
And hope felt strong, and life itself not weak.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Coleridge by George Sidney Hellman

Thine is the mystic melody,
The far-off murmur of some dreamland sea
Lifting throughout the night,
Up to the moon’s mild light,
Waves silver-lustrous, silvery-white,
That beat in rhythm on the shadowy shore,
And burst in music, and are seen no more.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Under the Harvest Moon by Carl Sandburg

Under the harvest moon,
When the soft silver
Drips shimmering
Over the garden nights,
Death, the gray mocker,
Comes and whispers to you
As a beautiful friend
Who remembers.

Under the summer roses
When the flagrant crimson
Lurks in the dusk
Of the wild red leaves,
Love, with little hands,
Comes and touches you
With a thousand memories,
And asks you
Beautiful, unanswerable questions.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Jabberwocky by Lewis Carroll

'Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

"Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
The frumious Bandersnatch!"

He took his vorpal sword in hand:
Long time the manxome foe he sought–
So rested he by the Tumtum tree,
And stood awhile in thought.

And, as in uffish thought he stood,
The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,
Came wiffling through the tulgey wood,
And burbled as it came!

One, two! One, two! And through and through
The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!
He left it dead, and with its head
He went galumphing back.

"And hast thou slain the Jabberwock?
Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!"
He chortled in his joy.

'Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Sea Fever by John Masefield

I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by,
And the wheel's kick and the wind's song and the white sail's shaking,
And a gray mist on the sea's face, and a gray dawn breaking.

I must go down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide
Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;
And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,
And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the sea-gulls crying.

I must go down to the seas again, to the vagrant gypsy life,
To the gull's way and the whale's way, where the wind's like a whetted knife;
And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow-rover,
And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick's over.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

The Lip and the Heart by John Quincy Adams

One day between the Lip and the Heart
A wordless strife arose,
Which was expertest in the art
His purpose to disclose.

The Lip called forth the vassal Tongue,
And made him vouch—a lie!
The slave his servile anthem sung,
And braved the listening sky.

The Heart to speak in vain essayed,
Nor could his purpose reach—
His will nor voice nor tongue obeyed,
His silence was his speech.

Mark thou their difference, child of earth!
While each performs his part,
Not all the lip can speak is worth
The silence of the heart.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

The Single Hound XLV by Emily Dickinson

I never told the buried gold
Upon the hill that lies,
I saw the sun, his plunder done,
Crouch low to guard his prize.

He stood as near, as stood you here,
A pace had been between—
Did but a snake bisect the brake,
My life had forfeit been.

That was a wondrous booty,
I hope ’t was honest gained—
Those were the finest ingots
That ever kissed the spade.

Whether to keep the secret—
Whether to reveal—
Whether, while I ponder
Kidd may sudden sail—

Could a Shrewd advise me
We might e’en divide—
Should a Shrewd betray me—
“Atropos” decide!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Silence by D. H. Lawrence

Since I lost you I am silence-haunted,
Sounds wave their little wings
A moment, then in weariness settle
On the flood that soundless swings.

Whether the people in the street
Like pattering ripples go by,
Or whether the theatre sighs and sighs
With a loud, hoarse sigh:

Or the wind shakes a ravel of light
Over the dead-black river,
Or night’s last echoing
Makes the daybreak shiver:

I feel the silence waiting
To take them all up again
In its vast completeness, enfolding
The sound of men.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

To Lesbia by Caius Valerius Catullus

Love we (my Lesbia!) and live we our day,
While all stern sayings crabbed sages say,
At one doit's value let us price and prize!
The Suns can westward sink again to rise
But we, extinguished once our tiny light,
Perforce shall slumber through one lasting night!
Kiss me a thousand times, then hundred more,
Then thousand others, then a new five-score,
Still other thousand other hundred store.
Last when the sums to many thousands grow,
The tale let's trouble till no more we know,
Nor envious wight despiteful shall misween us
Knowing how many kisses have been kissed between us.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

The Soul of the World by Ernest Crosby

The soul of the world is abroad to-night—
Not in yon silvery amalgam of moonbeam and ocean, nor in the pink heat-lightning tremulous on the horizon;
Not in the embrace of yonder pair of lovers either, heart beating to heart in the shadow of the fishing-smack drawn up on the beach.
All that—shall I call it illusion? Nay, but at best it is a pale reflection of the truth.
I am not to be put off with symbols, for the soul of the world is itself abroad to-night.

I neither see nor hear nor smell nor taste nor touch it, but faintly I feel it powerfully stirring.
I feel it as the blind heaving sea feels the moon bending over it.
I feel it as the needle feels the serpentine magnetic current coiling itself about the earth.
I open my arms to embrace it as the lovers embrace each other, but my embrace is all inclusive.
My heart beats to heart likewise, but it is to the heart universal, for the soul of the world is abroad to-night.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Susurro by William Sharp

Breath o’ the grass,
Ripple of wandering wind,
Murmur of tremulous leaves:
A moonbeam moving white
Like a ghost across the plain:
A shadow on the road:
And high up, high,
From the cypress-bough,
A long sweet melancholy note.
And the topmost spray
Of the cypress-bough is still
As a wavelet in a pool:
The road lies duskily bare:
The plain is a misty gloom:
Still are the tremulous leaves;
Scarce a last ripple of wind,
Scarce a breath i’ the grass.
Hush: the tired wind sleeps:
Is it the wind’s breath, or
Breath o’ the grass?

Thursday, September 13, 2007

My Madonna by Robert Service

I haled me a woman from the street,
Shameless, but, oh, so fair!
I bade her sit in the model's seat
And painted her sitting there.

I hid all traces of her heart unclean;
I painted a babe at her breast;
I painted her as she might have been
If the Worst had been the Best.

She laughed at my picture and went away.
Then came, with a knowing nod,
A connoisseur, and I heard him say;
"'Tis Mary, the Mother of God."

So, I painted a halo round her hair,
And I sold her and took my fee,
And she hangs in the church of Saint Hillaire,
Where you and all may see.

A Summer Night by George William Russell

Her mist of primroses within her breast
Twilight hath folded up, and o’er the west,
Seeking remoter valleys long hath gone,
Not yet hath come her sister of the dawn.
Silence and coolness now the earth enfold,
Jewels of glittering green, long mists of gold,
Hazes of nebulous silver veil the height,
And shake in tremors through the shadowy night.
Heard through the stillness, as in whispered words,
The wandering God-guided wings of birds
Ruffle the dark. The little lives that lie
Deep hid in grass join in a long-drawn sigh
More softly still; and unheard through the blue
The falling of innumerable dew,
Lifts with grey fingers all the leaves that lay
Burned in the heat of the consuming day.
The lawns and lakes lie in this night of love,
Admitted to the majesty above.
Earth with the starry company hath part;
The waters hold all heaven within their heart,
And glimmer o’er with wave-lips everywhere
Lifted to meet the angel lips of air.
The many homes of men shine near and far,
Peace-laden as the tender evening star,
The late home-coming folk anticipate
Their rest beyond the passing of the gate,
And tread with sleep-filled hearts and drowsy feet.
Oh, far away and wonderful and sweet
All this, all this. But far too many things
Obscuring, as a cloud of seraph wings
Blinding the seeker for the Lord behind,
I fall away in weariness of mind.
And think how far apart are I and you,
Beloved, from those spirit children who
Felt but one single Being long ago,
Whispering in gentleness and leaning low
Out of its majesty, as child to child.
I think upon it all with heart grown wild.
Hearing no voice, howe’er my spirit broods,
No whisper from the dense infinitudes,
This world of myriad things whose distance awes.
Ah me; how innocent our childhood was!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

To You by Walt Whitman

Whoever you are, I fear you are walking the walks of dreams,
I fear these supposed realities are to melt from under your feet and hands;
Even now, your features, joys, speech, house, trade, manners, troubles, follies, costume, crimes, dissipate away from you,
Your true Soul and Body appear before me,
They stand forth out of affairs—out of commerce, shops, law, science, work, forms, clothes, the house, medicine, print, buying, selling, eating, drinking, suffering, dying.

Whoever you are, now I place my hand upon you, that you be my poem;
I whisper with my lips close to your ear,
I have loved many women and men, but I love none better than you.

O I have been dilatory and dumb;
I should have made my way straight to you long ago;
I should have blabb’d nothing but you, I should have chanted nothing but you.

I will leave all, and come and make the hymns of you;
None have understood you, but I understand you;
None have done justice to you—you have not done justice to yourself;
None but have found you imperfect—I only find no imperfection in you;
None but would subordinate you—I only am he who will never consent to subordinate you;
I only am he who places over you no master, owner, better, God, beyond what waits intrinsically in yourself.

Painters have painted their swarming groups, and the centre figure of all;
From the head of the centre figure spreading a nimbus of gold-color’d light;
But I paint myriads of heads, but paint no head without its nimbus of gold-color’d light;
From my hand, from the brain of every man and woman it streams, effulgently flowing forever.

O I could sing such grandeurs and glories about you!
You have not known what you are—you have slumber’d upon yourself all your life;
Your eye-lids have been the same as closed most of the time;
What you have done returns already in mockeries;
(Your thrift, knowledge, prayers, if they do not return in mockeries, what is their return?)

The mockeries are not you;
Underneath them, and within them, I see you lurk;
I pursue you where none else has pursued you;
Silence, the desk, the flippant expression, the night, the accustom’d routine, if these conceal you from others, or from yourself, they do not conceal you from me;
The shaved face, the unsteady eye, the impure complexion, if these balk others, they do not balk me,
The pert apparel, the deform’d attitude, drunkenness, greed, premature death, all these I part aside.

There is no endowment in man or woman that is not tallied in you;
There is no virtue, no beauty, in man or woman, but as good is in you;
No pluck, no endurance in others, but as good is in you;
No pleasure waiting for others, but an equal pleasure waits for you.

As for me, I give nothing to any one, except I give the like carefully to you;
I sing the songs of the glory of none, not God, sooner than I sing the songs of the glory of you.

Whoever you are! claim your own at any hazard!
These shows of the east and west are tame, compared to you;
These immense meadows—these interminable rivers—you are immense and interminable as they;
These furies, elements, storms, motions of Nature, throes of apparent dissolution—you are he or she who is master or mistress over them,
Master or mistress in your own right over Nature, elements, pain, passion, dissolution.

The hopples fall from your ankles—you find an unfailing sufficiency;
Old or young, male or female, rude, low, rejected by the rest, whatever you are promulges itself;
Through birth, life, death, burial, the means are provided, nothing is scanted;
Through angers, losses, ambition, ignorance, ennui, what you are picks its way.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

To a Squirrel at Kyle-na-gno by William Butler Yeats

Come play with me;
Why should you run
Through the shaking tree
As though I’d a gun
To strike you dead?
When all I would do
Is to scratch your head
And let you go.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Summer Magic by Leslie Pinckney Hill

So many cares to vex the day,
So many fears to haunt the night,
My heart was all but weaned away
From every lure of old delight.
Then summer came, announced by June,
With beauty, miracle and mirth.
She hung aloft the rounding moon,
She poured her sunshine on the earth,
She drove the sap and broke the bud,
She set the crimson rose afire.
She stirred again my sullen blood,
And waked in me a new desire.
Before my cottage door she spread
The softest carpet nature weaves,
And deftly arched above my head
A canopy of shady leaves.
Her nights were dreams of jeweled skies,
Her days were bowers rife with song,
And many a scheme did she devise
To heal the hurt and soothe the wrong.
For on the hill or in the dell,
Or where the brook went leaping by
Or where the fields would surge and swell
With golden wheat or bearded rye,
I felt her heart against my own,
I breathed the sweetness of her breath,
Till all the cark of time had flown,
And I was lord of life and death.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

My Delight and Thy Delight by Robert Bridges

My delight and thy delight
Walking, like two angels white,
In the gardens of the night:

My desire and thy desire
Twining to a tongue of fire,
Leaping live, and laughing higher:

Thro' the everlasting strife
In the mystery of life.

Love, from whom the world begun,
Hath the secret of the sun.

Love can tell, and love alone,
Whence the million stars were strewn,
Why each atom knows its own,
How, in spite of woe and death,
Gay is life, and sweet is breath:

This he taught us, this we knew,
Happy in his science true,
Hand in hand as we stood
'Neath the shadows of the wood,
Heart to heart as we lay
In the dawning of the day.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

The Tryst of the Night by Mary C. G. Byron

Out of the uttermost ridge of dusk, where the dark and the day are mingled,
The voice of the Night rose cold and calm—it called through the shadow-swept air;
Through all the valleys and lone hillsides, it pierced, it thrilled, it tingled—
It summoned me forth to the wild seashore, to meet with its mystery there.

Out of the deep ineffable blue, with palpitant swift repeating
Of gleam and glitter and opaline glow, that broke in ripples of light—
In burning glory it came and went,—I heard, I saw it beating,
Pulse by pulse, from star to star,—the passionate heart of the Night!

Out of the thud of the rustling sea—the panting, yearning, throbbing
Waves that stole on the startled shore, with coo and mutter of spray—
The wail of the Night came fitful-faint,—I heard her stifled sobbing:
The cold salt drops fell slowly, slowly, gray into gulfs of gray.

There through the darkness the great world reeled, and the great tides roared, assembling—
Murmuring hidden things that are past, and secret things that shall be;
There at the limits of life we met, and touched with a rapturous trembling—
One with each other, I and the Night, and the skies, and the stars, and sea.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

The Sword of Arthur by John Clair Minot

After this poem, I chat about why I read poetry.

A castle stands in Yorkshire
(Oh, the hill is fair and green!)
And far beneath it lies a cave
No living man has seen.

It is the cave enchanted
(Oh, seek it ere ye die!)
And there King Arthur and his knights
In dreamless slumber lie.

One time a peasant found it
(Oh, the years have hurried well!)
It was the day of fate for him,
And this is what befell:

Upon a couch of crystal
(Oh, heart be pure and strong!)
He saw the King, and, close beside,
The armored knights athrong.

And all of them were sleeping
(Praise God, who sendeth rest!)
The sleep that comes when strife is done
And ended every quest.

Beside the good King Arthur
(How high is your desire?)
His sword within its scabbard lay,
The sword with blade of fire.

Now had the peasant known it
(Oh, if we all could know!)
He should have drawn that wondrous blade
Before he turned to go.

If but his hand had touched it
(The sword still lieth there!)
He would have felt in every vein
A lofty purpose thrill.

If but his hand had drawn it
(The sword still lieth there!)
A kingly way he would have walked,
Wherever he might fare.

But no; he fled affrighted
(Oh, pitiful the cost!)
And then he knew; but lo! the way
Into the cave was lost.

He searched forever after
(All this was long ago!)
But nevermore that crystal cave
His eager eyes could know.

Pray God ye have the vision
(Oh, search in every land!)
To seize the sword that Arthur bore
When it lies at your hand.