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Friday, November 30, 2007

Invocation by Clara Shanafelt

O glass-blower of time,
Hast blown all shapes at thy fire?
Canst thou no lovelier bell,
No clearer bubble, clear as delight, inflate me—
Worthy to hold such wine
As was never yet trod from the grape,
Since the stars shed their light, since the moon
Troubled the night with her beauty?

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Bath by Carl Sandburg

A man saw the whole world as a grinning skull and cross-bones. The rose flesh of life shriveled from all faces. Nothing counts. Everything is a fake. Dust to dust and ashes to ashes and then an old darkness and a useless silence. So he saw it all. Then he went to a Mischa Elman concert. Two hours waves of sound beat on his eardrums. Music washed something or other inside him. Music broke down and rebuilt something or other in his head and heart. He joined in five encores for the young Russian Jew with the fiddle. When he got outside his heels hit the sidewalk a new way. He was the same man in the same world as before. Only there was a singing fire and a climb of roses everlastingly over the world he looked on.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Sweet and Low by Alfred Tennyson

Sweet and low, sweet and low,
Wind of the western sea,
Low, low, breathe and blow,
Wind of the western sea!
Over the rolling waters go,
Come from the dying moon, and blow,
Blow him again to me;
While my little one, while my pretty one, sleeps.

Sleep and rest, sleep and rest,
Father will come to thee soon;
Rest, rest, on mother’s breast,
Father will come to thee soon;
Father will come to his babe in the nest,
Silver sails all out of the west
Under the silver moon:
Sleep, my little one, sleep, my pretty one, sleep.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Dance Figure by Ezra Pound

Dark-eyed,
O woman of my dreams,
Ivory sandaled,
There is none like thee among the dancers,
None with swift feet.

I have not found thee in the tents,
In the broken darkness.
I have not found thee at the well-head
Among the women with pitchers.

Thine arms are as a young sapling under the bark;
Thy face as a river with lights.

White as an almond are thy shoulders;
As new almonds stripped from the husk.

They guard thee not with eunuchs;
Not with bars of copper.
Gilt turquoise and silver are in the place of thy rest.
A brown robe, with threads of gold woven in patterns, hast thou gathered about thee,
O Nathat-Ikanaie, “Tree-at-the-river.”

As a rillet among the sedge are thy hands upon me;
Thy fingers a frosted stream.

Thy maidens are white like pebbles;
Their music about thee!

There is none like thee among the dancers;
None with swift feet.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Red-headed Restaurant Cashier by Carl Sandburg

Shake back your hair, O red-headed girl.
Let go your laughter and keep your two proud freckles on your chin.
Somewhere is a man looking for a red-headed girl and some day maybe he will look into your eyes for a restaurant cashier and find a lover, maybe.
Around and around go ten thousand men hunting a red headed girl with two freckles on her chin.
I have seen them hunting, hunting.
Shake back your hair; let go your laughter.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Dedication to his Golden Treasury by Francis T. Palgrave

TO
ALFRED TENNYSON
POET LAUREATE

This book in its progress has recalled often to my memory a man with whose friendship we were once honoured, to whom no region of English Literature was unfamiliar, and who, whilst rich in all the noble gifts of Nature, was most eminently distinguished by the noblest and the rarest,—just judgment and high-hearted patriotism. It would have been hence a peculiar pleasure and pride to dedicate what I have endeavoured to make a true national Anthology of three centuries to Henry Hallam. But he is beyond the reach of any human tokens of love and reverence; and I desire therefore to place before it a name united with his by associations which, whilst Poetry retains her hold on the minds of Englishmen, are not likely to be forgotten.

Your encouragement, given while traversing the wild scenery of Treryn Dinas, led me to begin the work; and it has been completed under your advice and assistance. For the favour now asked I have thus a second reason: and to this I may add, the homage which is your right as Poet, and the gratitude due to a Friend, whose regard I rate at no common value.

Permit me, then, to inscribe to yourself a book which, I hope, may be found by many a lifelong fountain of innocent and exalted pleasure; a source of animation to friends when they meet; and able to sweeten solitude itself with best society,—with the companionship of the wise and the good, with the beauty which the eye cannot see, and the music only heard in silence. If this collection proves a storehouse of delight to Labour and to Poverty,—if it teaches those indifferent to the Poets to love them, and those who love them to love them more, the aim and the desire entertained in framing it will be fully accomplished.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock by T.S. Eliot

S’io credesse che mia risposta fosse
A persona che mai tornasse al mondo,
Questa fiamma staria senza piu scosse.
Ma perciocche giammai di questo fondo
Non torno vivo alcun, s’i’odo il vero,
Senza tema d’infamia ti rispondo.


Let us go then, you and I,
When the evening is spread out against the sky
Like a patient etherised upon a table;
Let us go, through certain half-deserted streets,
The muttering retreats
Of restless nights in one-night cheap hotels
And sawdust restaurants with oyster-shells:
Streets that follow like a tedious argument
Of insidious intent
To lead you to an overwhelming question …
Oh, do not ask, “What is it?”
Let us go and make our visit.

In the room the women come and go
Talking of Michelangelo.

The yellow fog that rubs its back upon the window-panes,
The yellow smoke that rubs its muzzle on the window-panes
Licked its tongue into the corners of the evening,
Lingered upon the pools that stand in drains,
Let fall upon its back the soot that falls from chimneys,
Slipped by the terrace, made a sudden leap,
And seeing that it was a soft October night,
Curled once about the house, and fell asleep.

And indeed there will be time
For the yellow smoke that slides along the street,
Rubbing its back upon the window-panes;
There will be time, there will be time
To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet;
There will be time to murder and create,
And time for all the works and days of hands
That lift and drop a question on your plate;
Time for you and time for me,
And time yet for a hundred indecisions,
And for a hundred visions and revisions,
Before the taking of a toast and tea.

In the room the women come and go
Talking of Michelangelo.

And indeed there will be time
To wonder, “Do I dare?” and, “Do I dare?”
Time to turn back and descend the stair,
With a bald spot in the middle of my hair—
[They will say: “How his hair is growing thin!”]
My morning coat, my collar mounting firmly to the chin,
My necktie rich and modest, but asserted by a simple pin—
[They will say: “But how his arms and legs are thin!”]
Do I dare
Disturb the universe?
In a minute there is time
For decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse.

For I have known them all already, known them all:—
Have known the evenings, mornings, afternoons,
I have measured out my life with coffee spoons;
I know the voices dying with a dying fall
Beneath the music from a farther room.
So how should I presume?

And I have known the eyes already, known them all—
The eyes that fix you in a formulated phrase,
And when I am formulated, sprawling on a pin,
When I am pinned and wriggling on the wall,
Then how should I begin
To spit out all the butt-ends of my days and ways?
And how should I presume?

And I have known the arms already, known them all—
Arms that are braceleted and white and bare
[But in the lamplight, downed with light brown hair!]
It is perfume from a dress
That makes me so digress?
Arms that lie along a table, or wrap about a shawl.
And should I then presume?
And how should I begin?
. . . . .
Shall I say, I have gone at dusk through narrow streets
And watched the smoke that rises from the pipes
Of lonely men in shirt-sleeves, leaning out of windows?…

I should have been a pair of ragged claws
Scuttling across the floors of silent seas.
. . . . .
And the afternoon, the evening, sleeps so peacefully!
Smoothed by long fingers,
Asleep … tired … or it malingers,
Stretched on the floor, here beside you and me.
Should I, after tea and cakes and ices,
Have the strength to force the moment to its crisis?
But though I have wept and fasted, wept and prayed,
Though I have seen my head [grown slightly bald] brought in upon a platter,
I am no prophet—and here’s no great matter;
I have seen the moment of my greatness flicker,
And I have seen the eternal Footman hold my coat, and snicker,
And in short, I was afraid.

And would it have been worth it, after all,
After the cups, the marmalade, the tea,
Among the porcelain, among some talk of you and me,
Would it have been worth while,
To have bitten off the matter with a smile,
To have squeezed the universe into a ball
To roll it toward some overwhelming question,
To say: “I am Lazarus, come from the dead,
Come back to tell you all, I shall tell you all”—
If one, settling a pillow by her head,
Should say: “That is not what I meant at all.
That is not it, at all.”

And would it have been worth it, after all,
Would it have been worth while,
After the sunsets and the dooryards and the sprinkled streets,
After the novels, after the teacups, after the skirts that trail along the floor—
And this, and so much more?—
It is impossible to say just what I mean!
But as if a magic lantern threw the nerves in patterns on a screen:
Would it have been worth while
If one, settling a pillow or throwing off a shawl,
And turning toward the window, should say:
“That is not it at all,
That is not what I meant, at all.”
. . . . .
No! I am not Prince Hamlet, nor was meant to be;
Am an attendant lord, one that will do
To swell a progress, start a scene or two,
Advise the prince; no doubt, an easy tool,
Deferential, glad to be of use,
Politic, cautious, and meticulous;
Full of high sentence, but a bit obtuse;
At times, indeed, almost ridiculous—
Almost, at times, the Fool.

I grow old … I grow old …
I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled.

Shall I part my hair behind? Do I dare to eat a peach?
I shall wear white flannel trousers, and walk upon the beach.
I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each.

I do not think that they will sing to me.

I have seen them riding seaward on the waves
Combing the white hair of the waves blown back
When the wind blows the water white and black.

We have lingered in the chambers of the sea
By sea-girls wreathed with seaweed red and brown
Till human voices wake us, and we drown.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Silence by Thomas Hood

There is a silence where hath been no sound,
There is a silence where no sound may be,
In the cold grave—under the deep, deep sea,
Or in wide desert where no life is found,
Which hath been mute, and still must sleep profound;
No voice is hush'd—no life treads silently,
But clouds and cloudy shadows wander free,
That never spoke, over the idle ground:
But in green ruins, in the desolate walls
Of antique palaces, where Man hath been,
Though the dun fox or wild hy├Žna calls,
And owls, that flit continually between,
Shriek to the echo, and the low winds moan—
There the true Silence is, self-conscious and alone.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Song by Aphra Behn

Love in fantastic triumph sate
Whilst bleeding hearts around him flow'd,
For whom fresh pains he did create
And strange tyrannic power he show'd:
From thy bright eyes he took his fires,
Which round about in sport he hurl'd;
But 'twas from mine he took desires
Enough t' undo the amorous world.

From me he took his sighs and tears,
From thee his pride and cruelty;
From me his languishments and fears,
And every killing dart from thee.
Thus thou and I the god have arm'd
And set him up a deity;
But my poor heart alone is harm'd,
Whilst thine the victor is, and free!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

An Old Story by Edwin Arlington Robinson

Strange that I did not know him then,
That friend of mine!
I did not even show him then
One friendly sign;

But cursed him for the ways he had
To make me see
My envy of the praise he had
For praising me.

I would have rid the earth of him
Once, in my pride!...
I never knew the worth of him
Until he died.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

The Tropics by Douglas B. W. Sladen

Love we the warmth and light of tropic lands,
The strange bright fruit, the feathery fanspread leaves,
The glowing mornings and the mellow eves,
The strange shells scattered on the golden sands,
The curious handiwork of Eastern hands,
The little carts ambled by humpbacked beeves,
The narrow outrigged native boat which cleaves,
Unscathed, the surf outside the coral strands.
Love we the blaze of color, the rich red
Of broad tiled-roof and turban, the bright green
Of plantain-frond and paddy-field, nor dread
The fierceness of the noon. The sky serene,
The chill-less air, quaint sights, and tropic trees,
Seem like a dream fulfilled of lotus-ease.

Friday, November 9, 2007

A Silent Mouth by Cathal O'Bryne

O little green leaf on the bough, you hear the lark in morn,
You hear the grey feet of the wind stir in the shimmering corn,
You hear, low down in the grass,
The Singing Sidhe as they pass,
Do you ever hear, O little green flame,
My loved one calling, whispering my name?

O little green leaf on the bough, like my lips you must ever be dumb,
For a maiden may never speak until love to her heart says “Come.”
A mouth in its silence is sweet
But my heart cries loud when we meet,
And I turn my head with a bitter sigh
When the boy who has stolen my love, unheeding, goes by.

I have made my heart as the stones in the street for his tread,
I have made my love as the shadow that falls from his dear gold head,
But the stones with his footsteps ring,
And the shadow keeps following,
And just as the quiet shadow goes ever beside or before,
So must I go silent and lonely and loveless for evermore.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Recuerdo by Edna St.Vincent Millay

We were very tired, we were very merry--
We had gone back and forth all night on the ferry.
It was bare and bright, and smelled like a stable--
But we looked into a fire, we leaned across a table,
We lay on a hilltop underneath the moon;
And the whistles kept blowing, and the dawn came soon.

We were very tired, we were very merry--
We had gone back and forth all night on the ferry,
And you ate an apple, and I ate a pear,
From a dozen of each we had bought somewhere;
And the sky went wan, and the wind came cold,
And the sun rose dripping, a bucketful of gold.

We were very tired, we were very merry,
We had gone back and forth all night on the ferry,
We hailed "Good morrow, mother!" to a shawl-covered head,
And bought a morning paper, which neither of us read;
And she wept, "God bless you!" for the apples and pears,
And we gave her all our money but our subway fares.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Sonnet by Arthur Davison Ficke

There are strange shadows fostered of the moon,
More numerous than the clear-cut shade of day....
Go forth, when all the leaves whisper of June,
Into the dusk of swooping bats at play;
Or go into that late November dusk
When hills take on the noble lines of death,
And on the air the faint, astringent musk
Of rotting leaves pours vaguely troubling breath.
Then shall you see shadows whereof the sun,
Knows nothing—aye, a thousand shadows there
Shall leap and flicker and stir and stay and run,
Like petrels of the changing foul or fair;
Like ghosts of twilight, of the moon, of him
Whose homeland lies past each horizon's rim....

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

The Secret by Cosmo Monkhouse

She passes in her beauty bright
Amongst the mean, amongst the gay,
And all are brighter for the sight,
And bless her as she goes her way.

And now a gleam of pity pours,
And now a spark of spirit flies,
Uncounted, from the unlock’d stores
Of her rich lips and precious eyes.

And all men look, and all men smile,
But no man looks on her as I:
They mark her for a little while,
But I will watch her till I die.

And if I wonder now and then
Why this so strange a thing should be—
That she be seen by wiser men
And only duly lov’d by me:

I only wait a little longer,
And watch her radiance in the room;
Here making light a little stronger,
And there obliterating gloom,

(Like one who, in a tangled way,
Watches the broken sun fall through,
Turning to gold the faded spray,
And making diamonds of dew).

Until at last, as my heart burns,
She gathers all her scatter’d light,
And undivided radiance turns
Upon me like a sea of light.

And then I know they see in part
That which God lets me worship whole:
He gives them glances of her heart,
But me, the sunshine of her soul.

Monday, November 5, 2007

She Hears the Storm by Thomas Hardy

There was a time in former years—
While my roof-tree was his—
When I should have been distressed by fears
At such a night as this.

I should have murmured anxiously,
“The pricking rain strikes cold;
His road is bare of hedge or tree,
And he is getting old.”

But now the fitful chimney-roar,
The drone of Thorncombe trees,
The Froom in flood upon the moor,
The mud of Mellstock Leaze,

The candle slanting sooty wick’d,
The thuds upon the thatch,
The eaves-drops on the window flicked,
The clacking garden-hatch,

And what they mean to wayfarers,
I scarcely heed or mind;
He has won that storm-tight roof of hers
Which Earth grants all her kind.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

O White Wind, numbing the World by Christopher J. Brennan

O white wind, numbing the world
to a mask of suffering hate!
and thy goblin pipes have skirl’d
all night, at my broken gate.

O heart, be hidden and kept
in a half-light colour’d and warm,
and call on thy dreams that have slept
to charm thee from hate and harm.

They are gone, for I might not keep;
my sense is beaten and dinn’d;
there is no peace but a grey sleep
in the pause of the wind.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Where My Books go by William Butler Yeats

All the words that I utter,
And all the words that I write,
Must spread out their wings untiring,
And never rest in their flight,
Till they come where your sad, sad heart is,
And sing to you in the night,
Beyond where the waters are moving,
Storm-darken'd or starry bright.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Parted by Siegfried Sassoon

Sleepless I listen to the surge and drone
And drifting roar of the town’s undertone;
Till through quiet falling rain I hear the bells
Tolling and chiming their brief tune that tells
Day’s midnight end. And from the day that’s over
No flashes of delight I can recover;
But only dreary winter streets, and faces
Of people moving in loud clanging places:
And I in my loneliness, longing for you...

For all I did to-day, and all I’ll do
To-morrow, in this city of intense
Arteried activities that throb and strive,
Is but a beating down of that suspense
Which holds me from your arms.
I am alive
Only that I may find you at the end
Of these slow-striking hours I toil to spend,
Putting each one behind me, knowing but this—
That all my days are turning toward your kiss;
That all expectancy awaits the deep
Consoling passion of your eyes, that keep
Their radiance for my coming, and their peace
For when I find in you my love’s release.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Sonnet by Charles Harpur

She loves me! From her own bliss-breathing lips
The live confession came, like rich perfume
From crimson petals bursting into bloom!
And still my heart at the remembrance skips
Like a young lion, and my tongue too trips
As drunk with joy! while every object seen
In life’s diurnal round wears in its mien
A clear assurance that no doubts eclipse.
And if the common things of nature now
Are like old faces flushed with new delight,
Much more the consciousness of that rich vow
Deepens the beauteous, and refines the bright,
While throned I seem on love’s divinest height
’Mid all the glories glowing round its brow.