Saturday, May 31, 2008

Solitude by Frederick Peterson

It is the bittern’s solemn cry
Far out upon the lonely moors,
Where steel-gray pools reflect the sky,
And mists arise in dim contours.

Save this, no murmur on their verge
Doth stir the stillness of the reeds;
Silent the water-snakes emerge
From writhing depths of water-weeds.

Through sedge or gorse of that morass
There shines no light of moon or star;
Only the fen-fires gleam and pass
Along the low horizon bar.

It is the bittern’s solemn cry,
As if it voiced, with mournful stress
The strange hereditary sigh
Of age on age of loneliness.

Friday, May 30, 2008

If I But Knew by Amy E. Leigh

If I but knew what the tree-tops say,
Whispering secrets night and day,
I ’d make a song, my love, for you,
If I but knew—if I but knew.

If I but knew how the lilies brew
Nectar rare from a drop of dew,
A crystal glass I ’d fill for you,
If I but knew—if I but knew.

Love, if I knew but one tender word,
Sweet as the note of a wooing bird,
I ’d tell my ardent love to you,
If I but knew—if I but knew.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Song from Ben Hur by Lew Wallace

Wake not, but hear me, love!
Adrift, adrift on slumber’s sea,
Thy spirit call to list to me.
Wake not, but hear me, love!
A gift from Sleep, the restful king,
All happy, happy dreams I bring.

Wake not, but hear me, love!
Of all the world of dreams ’t is thine
This once to choose the most divine.
So choose, and sleep, my love!
But ne’er again in choice be free,
Unless, unless—thou dream’st of me.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Recrimination by Ella Wheeler Wilcox

Said Life to Death: “Methinks, if I were you,
I would not carry such an awesome face
To terrify the helpless human race;
And if indeed those wondrous tales be true
Of happiness beyond, and if I knew
About the boasted blessings of that place,
I would not hide so miserly all trace
Of my vast knowledge, Death, if I were you:
But, like a glorious angel, I would lean
Above the pathway of each sorrowing soul,
Hope in my eyes, and comfort in my breath,
And strong conviction in my radiant mien,
The while I whispered of that beauteous goal.
This would I do if I were you, O Death.”

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Love's Change by Anne Reeve Aldrich

I went to dig a grave for Love,
But the earth was so stiff and cold
That, though I strove through the bitter night,
I could not break the mould.

And I said: “Must he lie in my house in state,
And stay in his wonted place?
Must I have him with me another day,
With that awful change in his face?”

Saturday, May 24, 2008

A Mood by Winifred Howells

The wind exultant swept
Through the new leaves overhead,
Till at once my pulses leapt
With a life I thought long dead,
And I woke, as one who has slept,
To my childhood,—that had not fled,
On the wind my spirit flew;
Its freedom was mine as well.
For a moment the world was new;
What came there to break the spell?
The wind still freshly blew;
My spirit it was that fell.

Friday, May 23, 2008

A Song of Riches by Katharine Lee Bates

What will you give to a barefoot lass,
Morning with breath like wine?
Wade, bare feet! In my wide morass
Starry marigolds shine.

Alms, sweet Noon, for a barefoot lass,
With her laughing looks aglow!
Run, bare feet! In my fragrant grass
Golden buttercups blow.

Gift, a gift for a barefoot lass,
O twilight hour of dreams!
Rest, bare feet, by my lake of glass,
Where the mirrored sunset gleams.

Homeward the weary merchants pass,
With the gold bedimmed by care.
Little they wis that the barefoot lass
Is the only millionaire.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Sent with a Rose to a Young Lady by Margaret Deland

Deep in a Rose’s glowing heart
I dropped a single kiss,
And then I bade it quick depart,
And tell my Lady this:
“The love thy Lover tried to send
O’erflows my fragrant bowl,
But my soft leaves would break and bend,
Should he send half the whole!”

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The Way the Baby Woke by James Whitcomb Riley

And this is the way the baby woke:
As when in deepest drops of dew
The shine and shadows sink and soak,
The sweet eyes glimmered through and through;
And eddyings and dimples broke
About the lips, and no one knew
Or could divine the words they spoke,—
And this is the way the baby woke.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The Departed by John Banister Tabb

They cannot wholly pass away,
How far soe’er above;
Nor we, the lingerers, wholly stay
Apart from those we love:
For spirits in eternity,
As shadows in the sun,
Reach backward into Time, as we,
Like lifted clouds, reach on.

Monday, May 19, 2008

To a Withered Rose by John Kendrick Bangs

Thy span of life was all too short—
A week or two at best—
From budding-time, through blossoming,
To withering and rest.

Yet compensation hast thou—aye!—
For all thy little woes;
For was it not thy happy lot
To live and die a rose?

Sunday, May 18, 2008

An Autograph by James Russell Lowell

O’er the wet sands an insect crept
Ages ere man on earth was known—
And patient Time, while Nature slept,
The slender tracing turned to stone.

’T was the first autograph: and ours?
Prithee, how much of prose or song,
In league with the creative powers,
Shall ’scape Oblivion’s broom so long

Saturday, May 17, 2008

The Lamp in the West by Ella Higginson

Venus has lit her silver lamp
Low in the purple West,
Casting a soft and mellow light
Upon the sea’s full breast;
In one clear path—as if to guide
Some pale, wayfaring guest.

Far out, far out the restless bar
Starts from a troubled sleep,
Where, roaring through the narrow straits,
The meeting waters leap;
But still that shining pathway leads
Across the lonely deep.

When I sail out the narrow straits
Where unknown dangers be,
And cross the troubled, moaning bar
To the mysterious sea,
Dear God, wilt thou not set a lamp
Low in the West for me?

Friday, May 16, 2008

The Winged Worshippers by Charles Sprague

Gay, guiltless pair,
What seek ye from the fields of heaven?
Ye have no need of prayer,
Ye have no sins to be forgiven.

Why perch ye here,
Where mortals to their Maker bend?
Can your pure spirits fear
The God ye never could offend?

Ye never knew
The crimes for which we come to weep.
Penance is not for you,
Blessed wanderers of the upper deep.

To you ’t is given
To wake sweet Nature’s untaught lays,
Beneath the arch of heaven
To chirp away a life of praise.

Then spread each wing,
Far, far above, o’er lakes and lands,
And join the choirs that sing
In yon blue dome not reared with hands

Or, if ye stay
To note the consecrated hour,
Teach me the airy way,
And let me try your envied power.

Above the crowd,
On upward wings could I but fly,
I ’d bathe in yon bright cloud,
And seek the stars that gem the sky.

’T were Heaven indeed
Through fields of trackless light to soar,
On nature’s charms to feed,
And Nature’s own great God adore.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Reveillé by A. E. Housman

Wake: the silver dusk returning
Up the beach of darkness brims,
And the ship of sunrise burning
Strands upon the eastern rims.

Wake: the vaulted shadow shatters,
Trampled to the floor it spanned,
And the tent of night in tatters
Straws the sky-pavilioned land.

Up, lad, up, 'tis late for lying:
Hear the drums of morning play;
Hark, the empty highways crying
"Who'll beyond the hills away?"

Towns and countries woo together,
Forelands beacon, belfries call;
Never lad that trod on leather
Lived to feast his heart with all.

Up, lad: thews that lie and cumber
Sunlit pallets never thrive;
Morns abed and daylight slumber
Were not meant for man alive.

Clay lies still, but blood's a rover;
Breath's a ware that will not keep.
Up, lad: when the journey's over
There'll be time enough to sleep.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

At the Aquarium by Max Eastman

Serene the silver fishes glide,
Stern-lipped, and pale, and wonder-eyed!
As through the aged deeps of ocean,
They glide with wan and wavy motion.
They have no pathway where they go,
They flow like water to and fro,
They watch with never-winking eyes,
They watch with staring, cold surprise,
The level people in the air,
The people peering, peering there:
Who wander also to and fro,
And know not why or where they go,
Yet have a wonder in their eyes,
Sometimes a pale and cold surprise.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Sonnet 18, Shall I Compare Thee to a Summer's Day by William Shakespeare

Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate.
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer's lease hath all too short a date.
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often is his gold complexion dimmed;
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance, or nature's changing course, untrimmed;
But thy eternal summer shall not fade,
Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow'st,
Nor shall death brag thou wand'rest in his shade,
When in eternal lines to Time thou grow'st.
So long as men can breathe, or eyes can see,
So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Suddenly by Leonora Speyer

Suddenly flickered a flame,
Suddenly fluttered a wing:
What, can a dead bird sing?
Somebody spoke your name.

Suddenly fluttered a wing,
Sounded a voice, the same,
Somebody spoke your name:
Oh, the remembering!

Sounded a voice, the same,
Song of the heart’s green spring,
Oh, the remembering:
Which of us was to blame?

Song of the heart’s green spring,
Wings that still flutter, lame,
Which of us was to blame?—
God, the slow withering!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Lucy by William Wordsworth

She dwelt among the untrodden ways
Beside the springs of Dove,
A Maid whom there were none to praise
And very few to love:

A violet by a mossy stone
Half hidden from the eye!
--Fair as a star, when only one
Is shining in the sky.

She lived unknown, and few could know
When Lucy ceased to be;
But she is in her grave, and, oh,
The difference to me!

Friday, May 9, 2008

Soft Is Thy Rest by William Drummond Baker

Soft is thy rest, O silent sea,
To thy farthest moonlit rim
There comes no sign nor sound to me
Save that eternal hymn

Which in the dim age of thy birth
God taught thee how to sing
O'er watching night and the sleeping earth,
As through their course they swing.

Sweet is thy light, O silver sea,
Under the cold cloud-bars
The moon's broad glory seems to me
The pathway to the stars.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

When She Comes Home by James Whitcomb Riley

When she comes home again! A thousand ways
I fashion, to myself, the tenderness
Of my glad welcome: I shall tremble—yes;
And touch her, as when first in the old days
I touched her girlish hand, nor dared upraise
Mine eyes, such was my faint heart’s sweet distress.
Then silence: and the perfume of her dress:
The room will sway a little, and a haze
Cloy eyesight—soulsight, even—for a space;
And tears—yes; and the ache here in the throat,
To know that I so ill deserve the place
Her arms make for me; and the sobbing note
I stay with kisses, ere the tearful face
Again is hidden in the old embrace.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

The Tiger by William Blake

Tiger, tiger, burning bright
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?

In what distant deeps or skies
Burnt the fire of thine eyes?
On what wings dare he aspire?
What the hand dare seize the fire?

And what shoulder and what art
Could twist the sinews of thy heart?
And when thy heart began to beat,
What dread hand and what dread feet?

What the hammer? what the chain?
In what furnace was thy brain?
What the anvil? What dread grasp
Dare its deadly terrors clasp?

When the stars threw down their spears,
And water'd heaven with their tears,
Did He smile His work to see?
Did He who made the lamb make thee?

Tiger, tiger, burning bright
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

On His Blindness by John Milton

When I consider how my light is spent
E're half my days, in this dark world and wide,
And that one Talent which is death to hide,
Lodg'd with me useless, though my Soul more bent
To serve therewith my Maker, and present
My true account, least he returning chide,
Doth God exact day-labour, light deny'd,
I fondly ask; But patience to prevent
That murmur, soon replies, God doth not need
Either man's work or his own gifts, who best
Bear his milde yoak, they serve him best, his State
Is Kingly. Thousands at his bidding speed
And post o're Land and Ocean without rest:
They also serve who only stand and waite.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Brahma by Ralph Waldo Emerson

If the red slayer think he slays,
Or if the slain think he is slain,
They know not well the subtle ways
I keep, and pass, and turn again.

Far or forgot to me is near;
Shadow and sunlight are the same;
The vanished gods to me appear;
And one to me are shame and fame.

They reckon ill who leave me out;
When me they fly, I am the wings;
I am the doubter and the doubt;
And I the hymn the Brahmin sings.

The strong gods pine for my abode,
And pine in vain the sacred Seven,
But thou, meek lover of the good!
Find me, and turn thy back on heaven.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

They Flee From Me by Thomas Wyatt

They flee from me, that sometime did me seek,
With naked foot stalking in my chamber.
I have seen them, gentle, tame, and meek,
That now are wild, and do not remember
That sometime they put themselves in danger
To take bread at my hand; and now they range,
Busily seeking with a continual change.

Thanked be Fortune it hath been otherwise,
Twenty times better; but once in special,
In thin array, after a pleasant guise,
When her loose gown from her shoulders did fall,
And she me caught in her arms long and small,
And therewith all sweetly did me kiss
And softly said, "Dear heart, how like you this?"

It was no dream, I lay broad waking.
But all is turned, thorough my gentleness,
Into a strange fashion of forsaking;
And I have leave to go, of her goodness,
And she also to use newfangleness.
But since that I so kindely am served,
I fain sould know what she hath deserved.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

A Noiseless Patient Spider by Walt Whitman

A noiseless patient spider,
I mark'd where on a little promontory it stood isolated,
Mark'd how to explore the vacant vast surrounding,
It launch'd forth filament, filament, filament, out of itself,
Ever unreeling them, ever tirelessly speeding them.

And you O my soul where you stand,
Surrounded, detached, in measureless oceans of space,
Ceaselessly musing, venturing, throwing, seeking the spheres to connect them,
Till the bridge you will need be form'd, till the ductile anchor hold,
Till the gossamer thread you fling catch somewhere, O my soul.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Death's Epitaph by Philip Freneau

Death in this tomb his weary bones hath laid,
Sick of dominion o’er the human kind;
Behold what devastations he hath made,
Survey the millions by his arm confined.

“Six thousand years has sovereign sway been mine,
None but myself can real glory claim;
Great Regent of the world I reigned alone,
And princes trembled when my mandate came.

“Vast and unmatched throughout the world, my fame
Takes place of gods, and asks no mortal date—
No: by myself, and by the heavens, I swear
Not Alexander’s name is half so great.

“Nor swords nor darts my prowess could withstand,
All quit their arms, and bowed to my decree,—
Even mighty Julius died beneath my hand,
For slaves and Cæsars were the same to me!”

Traveller, wouldst thou his noblest trophies seek,
Search in no narrow spot obscure for those;
The sea profound, the surface of all land,
Is moulded with the myriads of his foes.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Strange Meetings by Harold Munro

If suddenly a clod of earth should rise,
And walk about, and breathe, and speak, and love,
How one would tremble, and in what surprise
Gasp: "Can you move?"

I see men walking, and I always feel:
"Earth! How have you done this? What can you be?"
I can't learn how to know men, or conceal
How strange they are to me.