To-Day, This Insect – Dylan Thomas

To-day, this insect, and the world I breathe,
Now that my symbols have outelbowed space,
Time at the city spectacles, and half
The dear, daft time I take to nudge the sentence,
In trust and tale I have divided sense,
Slapped down the guillotine, the blood-red double
Of head and tail made witnesses to this
Murder of Eden and green genesis.

The insect certain is the plague of fables.

This story’s monster has a serpent caul,
Blind in the coil scrams round the blazing outline,
Measures his own length on the garden wall
And breaks his shell in the last shocked beginning;
A crocodile before the chrysalis,
Before the fall from love the flying heartbone,
Winged like a sabbath ass this children’s piece
Uncredited blows Jericho on Eden.

The insect fable is the certain promise.

Death: death of Hamlet and the nightmare madmen,
An air-drawn windmill on a wooden horse,
John’s beast, Job’s patience, and the fibs of vision,
Greek in the Irish sea the ageless voice:
‘Adam I love, my madmen’s love is endless,
No tell-tale lover has an end more certain,
All legends’ sweethearts on a tree of stories,
My cross of tales behind the fabulous curtain.’

Comfort – Elizabeth Barrett Browning

SPEAK low to me, my Saviour, low and sweet
From out the hallelujahs, sweet and low
Lest I should fear and fall, and miss Thee so
Who art not missed by any that entreat.
Speak to mo as to Mary at thy feet !
And if no precious gums my hands bestow,
Let my tears drop like amber while I go
In reach of thy divinest voice complete
In humanest affection — thus, in sooth,
To lose the sense of losing. As a child,
Whose song-bird seeks the wood for evermore
Is sung to in its stead by mother’s mouth
Till, sinking on her breast, love-reconciled,
He sleeps the faster that he wept before.

The Choice – Dante Gabriel Rossetti

Think thou and act; to-morrow thou shalt die.
Outstretch’d in the sun’s warmth upon the shore,
Thou say’st: ‘Man’s measured path is all gone o’er:
Up all his years, steeply, with strain and sigh,
Man clomb until he touch’d the truth; and I,
Even I, am he whom it was destined for.’
How should this be? Art thou then so much more
Than they who sow’d, that thou shouldst reap thereby?

Nay, come up hither. From this wave-wash’d mound
Unto the furthest flood-brim look with me;
Then reach on with thy thought till it be drown’d.
Miles and miles distant though the last line be,
And though thy soul sail leagues and leagues beyond,—
Still, leagues beyond those leagues, there is more sea.

California Winter – Karl Shapiro

It is winter in California, and outside
Is like the interior of a florist shop: 
A chilled and moisture-laden crop
Of pink camellias lines the path; and what
Rare roses for a banquet or a bride, 
So multitudinous that they seem a glut! 

A line of snails crosses the golf-green lawn
From the rosebushes to the ivy bed; 
An arsenic compound is distributed
For them. The gardener will rake up the shells
And leave in a corner of the patio
The little mound of empty shells, like skulls.

By noon the fog is burnt off by the sun
And the world’s immensest sky opens a page
For the exercise of a future age; 
Now jet planes draw straight lines, parabolas, 
And x’s, which the wind, before they’re done, 
Erases leisurely or pulls to fuzz.

It is winter in the valley of the vine.
The vineyards crucified on stakes suggest
War cemeteries, but the fruit is pressed, 
The redwood vats are brimming in the shed, 
And on the sidings stand tank cars of wine, 
For which bright juice a billion grapes have bled.

And skiers from the snow line driving home
Descend through almond orchards, olive farms.
Fig tree and palm tree – everything that warms
The imagination of the wintertime.
If the walls were older one would think of Rome: 
If the land were stonier one would think of Spain.

But this land grows the oldest living things, 
Trees that were young when Pharoahs ruled the world, 
Trees whose new leaves are only just unfurled.
Beautiful they are not; they oppress the heart
With gigantism and with immortal wings; 
And yet one feels the sumptuousness of this dirt.

It is raining in California, a straight rain
Cleaning the heavy oranges on the bough, 
Filling the gardens till the gardens flow, 
Shining the olives, tiling the gleaming tile, 
Waxing the dark camellia leaves more green, 
Flooding the daylong valleys like the Nile. 

On Time – John Milton

Fly, envious Time, till thou run out thy race,
Call on the lazy leaden-stepping hours,
Whose speed is but the heavy plummet’s pace;
And glut thyself with what thy womb devours,
Which is no more than what is false and vain,
And merely mortal dross;
So little is our loss,
So little is thy gain.
For when as each thing bad thou hast intombed,
And last of all thy greedy self consumed,
Then long Eternity shall greet our bliss
With an individual kiss,
And Joy shall overtake us like a flood;
When everything that is sincerely good
And perfectly divine,
With truth and peace, and love, shall ever shine
About the supreme throne
Of Him, t’ whose happy-making sight alone
When once our heav’nly-guided soul shall climb,
Then, all this earthly grossness quit,
Attired with stars, we shall forever sit,
Triumphing over Death, and Chance, and thee, O Time. 

The Final Painting – Lee Harwood

The white cloud passed over the land
there is sea always round the land
the sky is blue always above the cloud
the cloud in the blue continues to move
– nothing is limited by the canvas or frame –
the white cloud can be pictured like any
other clouds or like a fist of wool
or a white fur rose
The white cloud passes a shadow across
the landscape and so there is a passing greyness
The grey and the white both envelop
the watcher until he too is drawn into the picture
It is all a journey from a room through a door
down stairs and out into the street
The cloud could possess the house
The watchers have a mutual confidence
with the approaching string of white clouds
It is beyond spoken words what they are
silently mouthing to the sky
There was no mystery in this – only the firm
outline of people in overcoats on a hillside
and the line of clouds above them
The sky is blue The cloud white with touches
of grey – the rest – the landscape below –
can be left to the imagination
The whole painting quietly dissolved itself
into its surrounding clouds 

Depression – Amy Louise Kerswell

Oh, horrid ways of emotions.
All actions tried are of no use.
All actions acted are useless.
No matter the action it is all in vain.

I can’t go anywhere
Running is useless and of no point.
I can’t go nowhere.
Even if the option were open.

Oh depression horrible depression
Hold me back ever more
Pin me down with the force of your grace.
Depression my one true friend.

A sad dark and lonely place.
Sit on the walls.
It is so sad and vacant.
Vacant like my happy days.

Depression takes me
More and more each day.
Feeding on my sadness.

This is an everlasting scar
A scar not to heal
A scar not to mend.
It will bring me to my end

She Sung Of Love – Thomas Moore

She sung of Love, while o’er her lyre 
The rosy rays of evening fell, 
As if to feed with their soft fire 
The soul within that trembling shell. 
The same rich light hung o’er her cheek, 
And play’d around those lips that sung 
And spoke, as flowers would sing and speak, 
If Love could lend their leaves a tongue. 

But soon the West no longer burn’d, 
Each rosy ray from heaven withdrew; 
And, when to gaze again I turn’d, 
The minstrel’s form seem’d fading too. 
As if her light and heaven’s were one, 
The glory all had left that frame; 
And from her glimmering lips the tone, 
As from a parting spirit, came.

Who ever loved, but had the thought 
That he and all he loved must part? 
Fill’d with this fear, I flew and caught 
The fading image to my heart — 
And cried, “Oh Love! is this thy doom? 
Oh light of youth’s resplendent day! 
Must ye then lose your golden bloom, 
And thus, like sunshine die away?” 

Winter Poem – Laurie Lee

Tonight the wind gnaws with teeth of glass
The jackdaw shivers in caged branches of iron
The stars have talons
There is hunger in the mouth of vole and badger
Silver agonies of breath in the nostril of the fox
Ice on the rabbit’s paw
Tonight has no moon, no food for the pilgrim
The fruit tree is bare, the rose bush a thorn
And the ground is bitter with stones
But the mole sleeps and the hedgehog lies curled in a womb of leaves
And the bean and the wheat seed hug their germs in the earth
And a stream moves under the ice
Tonight there is no moon
But a star opens like a trumpet over the dead
And tonight in a nest of ruins the blessed babe is laid
And the fir tree warms to a bloom of candles
And the child lights his lantern and stares at his tinsel toy
And our hearts and hearths smoulder with live ashes
In the blood of our grief the cold earth is suckled
In our agony the womb convulses its seed
And in the last cry of anguish
The child’s first breath is born

Poem – Why Does It Happen To Me

Why does it happen to me

What’s that on your…..

Face you’ve got white all round,
Your mouth said the RAC guy,
Looking in the rear view mirror,
Oh no it’s toothpaste said I.

What’s that in your….

Hair it’s white and sticky said,
My boyfriend while we did sit,
By the beach at the seaside,
On my head a Seagull had shit.

What’s that on your….

Shoe said my friends as I,
Walked past and behind me,
Followed a trail of toilet paper,
For the whole pub to see.

What’s wrong with your….

Skirt just turn around it looks,
Like its ruffled at the back,
Rushing to the mirror to check,
It was tucked in my bum crack.

What’s that on your….

Are you cold said a colleague,
Yes it is here where I’m sat,
Staring at my chest he said,
On those could hang your hat.

Nicky you need to….

Tie your straps tighter look,
On your costume mum did shout,
Bouncing in the pool at aqautone,
As my boobs decided to pop out.

As they turned up their noses….

The yoga instructor had us tied,
Up like a rubber band in pose,
She said relax and that’s when,
I farted so loud as I rose.

County Guy – Sir Walter Scott

Ah! County Guy, the hour is nigh,
The sun has left the lea,
The orange flower perfumes the bower,
The breeze is on the sea.
The lark his lay who thrill’d all day
Sits hush’d his partner nigh:
Breeze, bird, and flower confess the hour,
But where is County Guy?

The village maid steals through the shade,
Her shepherd’s suit to hear;
To beauty shy, by lattice high,
Sings high-born Cavalier.
The star of Love, all stars above
Now reigns o’er earth and sky;
And high and low the influence know–
But where is County Guy?

Nursing Home Blues – Angelo Ventresco

Oh how I miss those walks in the park,
where birds would sing and dogs did bark.
Nuts for the pigeons and some for the squiriels,
swan boats dfift by leaving watery swirls.
Happy laughter of children floated by as on wings,
playing with friends and soaring on swings.
People walked by, some nodded or smiled,
young folk gave agreeting, others chatted awhile.
Remembering all this fills me with joy.
Now it’s, here take your pills, oh that’s a good boy.

man alone – louise bogan

It is yourself you seek
In a long rage,
Scanning through light and darkness
Mirrors, the page,

Where should reflected be
Those eyes and that thick hair,
That passionate look, that laughter.
You should appear

Within the book, or doubled,
Freed, in the silvered glass;
Into all other bodies
Yourself should pass.

The glass does not dissolve;
Like walls the mirrors stand;
The printed page gives back
Words by another hand.

And your infatuate eye
Meets not itself below;
Strangers lie in your arms
As I lie now.

Poem – Consolation

How agreeable it is not to be touring Italy this summer,
wandering her cities and ascending her torrid hill towns.
How much better to cruise these local, familiar streets,
fully grasping the meaning of every roadsign and billboard
and all the sudden hand gestures of my compatriots.

There are no abbeys here, no crumbling frescoes or famous
domes and there is no need to memorize a succession
of kings or tour the dripping corners of a dungeon.
No need to stand around a sarcophagus, see Napoleon’s
little bed on Elba, or view the bones of a saint under glass.

How much better to command the simple precinct of home
than be dwarfed by pillar, arch, and basilica.
Why hide my head in phrase books and wrinkled maps?
Why feed scenery into a hungry, one-eyes camera
eager to eat the world one monument at a time?

Instead of slouching in a café ignorant of the word for ice,
I will head down to the coffee shop and the waitress
known as Dot. I will slide into the flow of the morning
paper, all language barriers down,
rivers of idiom running freely, eggs over easy on the way.

And after breakfast, I will not have to find someone
willing to photograph me with my arm around the owner.
I will not puzzle over the bill or record in a journal
what I had to eat and how the sun came in the window.
It is enough to climb back into the car

as if it were the great car of English itself
and sounding my loud vernacular horn, speed off
down a road that will never lead to Rome, not even Bologna.

Poem – Embrace

You know the parlor trick.
wrap your arms around your own body
and from the back it looks like
someone is embracing you
her hands grasping your shirt
her fingernails teasing your neck
from the front it is another story
you never looked so alone
your crossed elbows and screwy grin
you could be waiting for a tailor
to fit you with a straight jacket
one that would hold you really tight.

Poem – The Patriots

at the edge of the city in
the garbage dump where the
trucks never stop unloading
a crazy congregation stumbles
from trashmound to trashheap
they smash their fists down on
whatever’s intact they tear
to bits the pitifew items
that have remained whole they
rip everything old clothes
papers cans bones to nothing
with their glazed teeth
the enlightened the faithful
every few meters one of them
falls and is torn to shreds by
the others at the edge of
the city where there’s a line
waiting to join

Poem – Face in the Window

I am a modest house, a house solely
notable for the fact I lived here once.
Its brass plaque depicts an oxygen eye
in which two pupils of hydrogen dance.

Downstairs is where I lit fires whose insights
with approach-velocity froze me, then
singed off into flame. This always happened when
I came close to a truth. Months passed. Years. Nights.

Shall I accommodate myself again,
a humble aquarium of lordly
thumbs, some fin de species? Of course each word

the blackout-moth mutters to my keyboard
shows the snowiest letter on this page is “I”—

Poem – Space

From the trees the leaves came down
until we joined hands with a wand
and that act enabled them
somehow then to reach the ground

where they scuttered round our feet
urging the latter to unite
with a baton as if that act
together with the hands can clasp

a dowsing-stick cut from the same
branch from which we launched
converging on gravity’s purge-point

at which point we merged to remove
all consonants from our star-maps.
The infinite consists of vowels alone.

Poem – To Posterity

1.

Indeed I live in the dark ages!
A guileless word is an absurdity. A smooth forehead betokens
A hard heart. He who laughs
Has not yet heard
The terrible tidings.

Ah, what an age it is
When to speak of trees is almost a crime
For it is a kind of silence about injustice!
And he who walks calmly across the street,
Is he not out of reach of his friends
In trouble?

It is true: I earn my living
But, believe me, it is only an accident.
Nothing that I do entitles me to eat my fill.
By chance I was spared. (If my luck leaves me
I am lost.)

They tell me: eat and drink. Be glad you have it!
But how can I eat and drink
When my food is snatched from the hungry
And my glass of water belongs to the thirsty?
And yet I eat and drink.

I would gladly be wise.
The old books tell us what wisdom is:
Avoid the strife of the world
Live out your little time
Fearing no one
Using no violence
Returning good for evil —
Not fulfillment of desire but forgetfulness
Passes for wisdom.
I can do none of this:
Indeed I live in the dark ages!

2.

I came to the cities in a time of disorder
When hunger ruled.
I came among men in a time of uprising
And I revolted with them.
So the time passed away
Which on earth was given me.

I ate my food between massacres.
The shadow of murder lay upon my sleep.
And when I loved, I loved with indifference.
I looked upon nature with impatience.
So the time passed away
Which on earth was given me.

In my time streets led to the quicksand.
Speech betrayed me to the slaughterer.
There was little I could do. But without me
The rulers would have been more secure. This was my hope.
So the time passed away
Which on earth was given me.

3.

You, who shall emerge from the flood
In which we are sinking,
Think —
When you speak of our weaknesses,
Also of the dark time
That brought them forth.

For we went,changing our country more often than our shoes.
In the class war, despairing
When there was only injustice and no resistance.

For we knew only too well:
Even the hatred of squalor
Makes the brow grow stern.
Even anger against injustice
Makes the voice grow harsh. Alas, we
Who wished to lay the foundations of kindness
Could not ourselves be kind.

But you, when at last it comes to pass
That man can help his fellow man,
Do no judge us
Too harshly.

Poem – Newlywed’s Departure

Chinese vines climb up low hemp plants;
the tendrils cannot stretch very far.
To marry a daughter to a drafted man
is worse than abandoning her by roadside.
“I just did my hair up as a married woman,
haven’t even had time to warm the bed for you.
Marry in the evening and depart in the morning,
isn’t that too hurried!
You are not going very far,
just to guard the borders at Heyang,
but my status in the family is not yet official.
How can I greet my parents-in-laws?
When my parents brought me up,
they kept me in my room day and night.
When a daughter is married,
she has to stay even if she’s wed to a chicken or dog.
Now you are going to the place of death.
A heavy pain cramps my stomach.
I was determined to follow you wherever you went,
then realized that was not proper.
Please don’t be hampered by our new marriage;
try to be a good soldier.
When women get mixed up in an army,
I fear, the soldiers’ morale will falter.
I sigh, since I’m from a poor family
and it took so long to sew this silk dress.
I will never put this dress on again,
and I’m going to wash off my make-up while you watch.
Look at those birds flying up in the sky,
Big or small they stay in pairs,
but human life is full of mistakes and setbacks.
I will forever wait for your return.”

Poem – The Mocking Bird

What! Is the mocking bird come?
The Spring, he comes to say,
The Spring is here today.
All sounds, all words he knows.
His feathers preen how he will,
He is the same bird still.

Where flowers most thickly screen,
Difficult to be seen,
His varying notes deride
The topmost boughs between.
If out of time he chide.
Lo! slander at your side!

Poem – View From A Height

Sharp wind, towering sky, apes howling mournfully;
untouched island, white sand, birds flying in circles.
Infinite forest, bleakly shedding leaf after leaf;
inexhaustible river, rolling on wave after wave.
Through a thousand miles of melancholy autumn, I travel;
carrying a hundred years of sickness, I climb to this terrace.
Hardship and bitter regret have frosted my temples–
and what torments me most? Giving up wine!

Poem – Razors and Nightmares

I stare at my ceiling,
I start to wonder, why am I not healing?
Then it dawns on me,
The nightmare clip starts to roll.
I shake and shiver and wince at every little thing.
I’m scared to death,
What does this all mean?
I start to cry,
I feel as if I might die.
Then I grab my blade,
The tears come quicker.
My breath starts to quicken,
My grip on the blade makes my knuckles turn white.
In the mirror is where I see that my ivory skin is now blotchy and red.
I tell myself, ‘This may be the last time, if you finally cut deep enough.’
So I try my best not to make a sound
As I sit up in bed and hold my wrist out in front of me.
I count to three,
One,
I put the blade to my wrist.
Two,
I start to add pressure.
Three,
I yank the blade across my skin,
It pierces and then I start to bleed.
I suddenly want it to stop,
But there’s no going back now.
I wonder why it came to this,
I know nobody cares about me,
I know nobody is going to forget me.
Quietly I say, ‘I’m sorry.’
But nobody is there,
No one will ever be.
I start to fade out of this world,
My addiction would finally be gone,
And so would I.
I was lost,
Lost and angry.
Suddenly, it was gone,
I woke up screaming.
The pain was oh-so real.

Poem – My Father

The memory of my father is wrapped up in
white paper, like sandwiches taken for a day at work.

Just as a magician takes towers and rabbits
out of his hat, he drew love from his small body,

and the rivers of his hands
overflowed with good deeds.

Poem – Macbreath

A Tragedy as Played at Ryde**
Macbreath Mr Henley
Macpuff Mr Terry
The Ghost

ACT I

TIME: The day before the election
SCENE: A Drummoyne tram running past a lunatic asylum.
All present are Reform Leaguers and supporters of Macbreath.
They seat themselves in the compartment.

MACBREATH: Here, I’ll sit in the midst.
Be large in mirth. Anon we’ll all be fitted
With Parliamentary seats.
(Voter approaches the door.)
There’s blood upon thy face.

VOTER: ‘Tis Thompsons’s, then.

MACBREATH: Is he thrown out? How neatly we beguiled
The guileless Thompson. Did he sign a pledge agreeing to retire?

VOTER: Aye, that he did.

MACBREATH: Not so did I!
Not on the doubtful hazard of a vote
By Ryde electors, cherry-pickers, oafs,
That drive their market carts at dread of night
And sleep all day. Not on the jaundiced choice
Of folks who daily run their half a mile
Just after breakfast, when the steamer hoots
Her warning to the laggard, not on these
Relied Macbreath, for if these rustics’ choice
Had fall’n on Thompson, I should still have claimed
A conference. But hold! Is Thompson out?

VOTER: My lord, his name is mud. That I did for him
I paid my shilling and I cast my vote.

MACBREATH: Thou art the best of all the shilling voters.
Prithee, be near me on election day
To see me smite Macpuff, and now we shan’t
Be long,
(Ghost of Thompson appears.)
What’s this? A vision!
Thou canst not say I did it! Never shake
Thy gory locks at me. Run for some other seat,
Let the woods hide thee. Prithee, chase thyself!
(The ghost of Thompson disappears, and Macbreath revives himself
with a great effort.)
Leaguers all,
Mine own especial comrades of Reform,
All amateurs and no professionals,
So many worthy candidates I see,
Alas that there are only ninety seats.
Still, let us take them all, and Joe Carruthers,
Ashton, and Jimmy Hogue, and all the rest,
Will have to look for work! Oh, joyous day,
To-morrow’s poll will make me M.L.A.

ACT II

TIME: Election day.
SCENE: Macbreath’s committee rooms.

MACBREATH: Bring me no more reports: let them all fly;
Till Labour’s platform to Kyabram come
I cannot taint with fear. How go the votes?

Enter first voter

FIRST VOTER: May it please my Lord,
The cherry-pickers’ vote is two to one
Towards Macpuff: and all our voters say
The ghost of Thompson sits in every booth,
And talks of pledges.

MACBREATH: What a polished liar!
And yet the dead can vote! (Strikes him.)
What if it should be!
(Ghost of Thompson appears to him suddenly.)

GHOST: The Pledge! The Pledge!

MACBREATH: I say I never signed the gory pledge.
(Ghost disappears. Enter a Messenger.)
Thou com’st to use thy tongue. Thy story quickly!

MESSENGER: Gracious, my Lord,
I should report that which I know I saw,
But know not how to do it.

MACBREATH: Well! say, on!

MESSENGER: As I did stand my watch in Parliament
I saw the Labour platform come across
And join Kyabram, Loans were overthrown,
The numbers were reduced, extravagance
Is put an end to by McGowan’s vote.

MACBREATH: The devil damn thee black, thou cream-faced loon!
Where got’st thou this fish yarn?

MESSENGER: There’s nearly forty,

MACBREATH: Thieves, fool?

MESSENGER: No, members, will be frozen out of work!

MACBREATH: Aye, runs the story so! Well, well, ’tis sudden!
These are the uses of the politician,
A few brief sittings and another contest;
He hardly gets to know th’ billiard tables
Before he’s out . . .

(Alarums and Harbour excursions; enter Macpuff
at the head of a Picnic Party.)

MACPUFF: Now, yield thee, tyrant!
By that fourth party which I once did form,
I’ll take thee to a picnic, there to live
On windfall oranges!

MACBREATH: . . . Nay, rather death!
Death before picnic! Lay on Macpuff,
And damned be he who first cries Hold, enough!
(They fight. Macbreath is struck on the back of the head
by some blue metal from Pennant Hills Quarry. He falls. The referee
counts, ‘One, two, three, eight, nine, ten, out!’)

MACPUFF: Kind voters all, and worthy gentlemen,
Who rallied to my flag today, and made me
Member for Thompson, from my soul I thank you.
There needs no trumpet blast, for I can blow
Like any trombone. Prithee, let us go!
Thanks to you all who shared this glorious day,
Whom I invite to dance at Chowder Bay!

Poem – Any Other Time

ALL of us play our very best game—
Any other time.
Golf or billiards, it’s all the same—
Any other time.
Lose a match and you always say,
“Just my luck! I was ‘off’ to-day!
I could have beaten him quite half-way—
Any other time!”

After a fiver you ought to go—
Any other time.
Every man that you ask says “Oh,
Any other time.
Lend you a fiver! I’d lend you two,
But I’m overdrawn and my bills are due,
Wish you’d ask me—now, mind you do—
Any other time!”

Fellows will ask you out to dine—
Any other time.
“Not to-night, for we’re twenty-nine —
Any other time.
Not to-morrow, for cook’s on strike,
Not next day, I’ll be out on the bike —
Just drop in whenever you like —
Any other time!”

Seasick passengers like the sea—
Any other time.
“Something . . I ate . . disagreed . . with me!
Any other time
Ocean-trav’lling is . . simply bliss,
Must be my . . liver . . has gone amiss . .
Why, I would . . laugh . . at a sea . . like this—
Any other time.”

Most of us mean to be better men—
Any other time:
Regular upright characters then—
Any other time.
Yet somehow as the years go by
Still we gamble and drink and lie,
When it comes to the last we’ll want to die—
Any other time!

Poem – Menstruation At Forty

 

I was thinking of a son.
The womb is not a clock
nor a bell tolling,
but in the eleventh month of its life
I feel the November
of the body as well as of the calendar.
In two days it will be my birthday
and as always the earth is done with its harvest.
This time I hunt for death,
the night I lean toward,
the night I want.
Well then—
speak of it!
It was in the womb all along.

I was thinking of a son …
You! The never acquired,
the never seeded or unfastened,
you of the genitals I feared,
the stalk and the puppy’s breath.
Will I give you my eyes or his?
Will you be the David or the Susan?
(Those two names I picked and listened for.)
Can you be the man your fathers are—
the leg muscles from Michelangelo,
hands from Yugoslavia
somewhere the peasant, Slavic and determined,
somewhere the survivor bulging with life—
and could it still be possible,
all this with Susan’s eyes?

All this without you—
two days gone in blood.
I myself will die without baptism,
a third daughter they didn’t bother.
My death will come on my name day.
What’s wrong with the name day?
It’s only an angel of the sun.
Woman,
weaving a web over your own,
a thin and tangled poison.
Scorpio,
bad spider—
die!

My death from the wrists,
two name tags,
blood worn like a corsage
to bloom
one on the left and one on the right—
It’s a warm room,
the place of the blood.
Leave the door open on its hinges!

Two days for your death
and two days until mine.

Love! That red disease—
year after year, David, you would make me wild!
David! Susan! David! David!
full and disheveled, hissing into the night,
never growing old,
waiting always for you on the porch …
year after year,
my carrot, my cabbage,
I would have possessed you before all women,
calling your name,
calling you mine.

Poem – The Frog Prince

Frau Doktor,
Mama Brundig,
take out your contacts,
remove your wig.
I write for you.
I entertain.
But frogs come out
of the sky like rain.

Frogs arrive
With an ugly fury.
You are my judge.
You are my jury.

My guilts are what
we catalogue.
I’ll take a knife
and chop up frog.

Frog has not nerves.
Frog is as old as a cockroach.
Frog is my father’s genitals.
Frog is a malformed doorknob.
Frog is a soft bag of green.

The moon will not have him.
The sun wants to shut off
like a light bulb.
At the sight of him
the stone washes itself in a tub.
The crow thinks he’s an apple
and drops a worm in.
At the feel of frog
the touch-me-nots explode
like electric slugs.
Slime will have him.
Slime has made him a house.

Mr. Poison
is at my bed.
He wants my sausage.
He wants my bread.

Mama Brundig,
he wants my beer.
He wants my Christ
for a souvenir.

Frog has boil disease
and a bellyful of parasites.
He says: Kiss me. Kiss me.
And the ground soils itself.

Why
should a certain
quite adorable princess
be walking in her garden
at such a time
and toss her golden ball
up like a bubble
and drop it into the well?
It was ordained.
Just as the fates deal out
the plague with a tarot card.
Just as the Supreme Being drills
holes in our skulls to let
the Boston Symphony through.

But I digress.
A loss has taken place.
The ball has sunk like a cast-iron pot
into the bottom of the well.

Lost, she said,
my moon, my butter calf,
my yellow moth, my Hindu hare.
Obviously it was more than a ball.
Balls such as these are not
for sale in Au Bon Marché.
I took the moon, she said,
between my teeth
and now it is gone
and I am lost forever.
A thief had robbed by day.

Suddenly the well grew
thick and boiling
and a frog appeared.
His eyes bulged like two peas
and his body was trussed into place.
Do not be afraid, Princess,
he said, I am not a vagabond,
a cattle farmer, a shepherd,
a doorkeeper, a postman
or a laborer.
I come to you as a tradesman.
I have something to sell.
Your ball, he said,
for just three things.
Let me eat from your plate.
Let me drink from your cup.
Let me sleep in your bed.
She thought, Old Waddler,
those three you will never do,
but she made the promises
with hopes for her ball once more.
He brought it up in his mouth
like a tricky old dog
and she ran back to the castle
leaving the frog quite alone.

That evening at dinner time
a knock was heard on the castle door
and a voice demanded:
King’s youngest daughter,
let me in. You promised;
now open to me.
I have left the skunk cabbage
and the eels to live with you.
The kind then heard her promise
and forced her to comply.

The frog first sat on her lap.
He was as awful as an undertaker.
Next he was at her plate
looking over her bacon
and calves’ liver.
We will eat in tandem,
he said gleefully.
Her fork trembled
as if a small machine
had entered her.
He sat upon the liver
and partook like a gourmet.
The princess choked
as if she were eating a puppy.
From her cup he drank.
It wasn’t exactly hygienic.
From her cup she drank
as if it were Socrates’ hemlock.

Next came the bed.
The silky royal bed.
Ah! The penultimate hour!
There was the pillow
with the princess breathing
and there was the sinuous frog
riding up and down beside her.
I have been lost in a river
of shut doors, he said,
and I have made my way over
the wet stones to live with you.
She woke up aghast.
I suffer for birds and fireflies
but not frogs, she said,
and threw him across the room.
Kaboom!

Like a genie coming out of a samovar,
a handsome prince arose in the
corner of her bedroom.
He had kind eyes and hands
and was a friend of sorrow.
Thus they were married.
After all he had compromised her.

He hired a night watchman
so that no one could enter the chamber
and he had the well
boarded over so that
never again would she lose her ball,
that moon, that Krishna hair,
that blind poppy, that innocent globe,
that madonna womb.

Poem – Flee on your Donkey

Because there was no other place
to flee to,
I came back to the scene of the disordered senses,
came back last night at midnight,
arriving in the thick June night
without luggage or defenses,
giving up my car keys and my cash,
keeping only a pack of Salem cigarettes
the way a child holds on to a toy.
I signed myself in where a stranger
puts the inked-in X’s—
for this is a mental hospital,
not a child’s game.

Today an intern knocks my knees,
testing for reflexes.
Once I would have winked and begged for dope.
Today I am terribly patient.
Today crows play black-jack
on the stethoscope.

Everyone has left me
except my muse,
that good nurse.
She stays in my hand,
a mild white mouse.

The curtains, lazy and delicate,
billow and flutter and drop
like the Victorian skirts
of my two maiden aunts
who kept an antique shop.

Hornets have been sent.
They cluster like floral arrangements on the screen.
Hornets, dragging their thin stingers,
hover outside, all knowing,
hissing: the hornet knows.
I heard it as a child
but what was it that he meant?
The hornet knows!
What happened to Jack and Doc and Reggy?
Who remembers what lurks in the heart of man?
What did The Green Hornet mean, he knows?
Or have I got it wrong?
Is it The Shadow who had seen
me from my bedside radio?

Now it’s Dinn, Dinn, Dinn!
while the ladies in the next room argue
and pick their teeth.
Upstairs a girl curls like a snail;
in another room someone tries to eat a shoe;
meanwhile an adolescent pads up and down
the hall in his white tennis socks.
A new doctor makes rounds
advertising tranquilizers, insulin, or shock
to the uninitiated.

Six years of such small preoccupations!
Six years of shuttling in and out of this place!
O my hunger! My hunger!
I could have gone around the world twice
or had new children – all boys.
It was a long trip with little days in it
and no new places.

In here,
it’s the same old crowd,
the same ruined scene.
The alcoholic arrives with his gold clubs.
The suicide arrives with extra pills sewn
into the lining of her dress.
The permanent guests have done nothing new.
Their faces are still small
like babies with jaundice.

Meanwhile,
they carried out my mother,
wrapped like somebody’s doll, in sheets,
bandaged her jaw and stuffed up her holes.
My father, too. He went out on the rotten blood
he used up on other women in the Middle West.
He went out, a cured old alcoholic
on crooked feet and useless hands.
He went out calling for his father
who died all by himself long ago –
that fat banker who got locked up,
his genes suspended like dollars,
wrapped up in his secret,
tied up securely in a straitjacket.

But you, my doctor, my enthusiast,
were better than Christ;
you promised me another world
to tell me who
I was.

I spent most of my time,
a stranger,
damned and in trance—that little hut,
that naked blue-veined place,
my eyes shut on the confusing office,
eyes circling into my childhood,
eyes newly cut.
Years of hints
strung out—a serialized case history—
thirty-three years of the same dull incest
that sustained us both.
You, my bachelor analyst,
who sat on Marlborough Street,
sharing your office with your mother
and giving up cigarettes each New Year,
were the new God,
the manager of the Gideon Bible.

I was your third-grader
with a blue star on my forehead.
In trance I could be any age,
voice, gesture—all turned backward
like a drugstore clock.
Awake, I memorized dreams.
Dreams came into the ring
like third string fighters,
each one a bad bet
who might win
because there was no other.

I stared at them,
concentrating on the abyss
the way one looks down into a rock quarry,
uncountable miles down,
my hands swinging down like hooks
to pull dreams up out of their cage.
O my hunger! My hunger!

Once, outside your office,
I collapsed in the old-fashioned swoon
between the illegally parked cars.
I threw myself down,
pretending dead for eight hours.
I thought I had died
into a snowstorm.
Above my head
chains cracked along like teeth
digging their way through the snowy street.
I lay there
like an overcoat
that someone had thrown away.
You carried me back in,
awkwardly, tenderly,
with help of the red-haired secretary
who was built like a lifeguard.
My shoes,
I remember,
were lost in the snowbank
as if I planned never to walk again.

That was the winter
that my mother died,
half mad on morphine,
blown up, at last,
like a pregnant pig.
I was her dreamy evil eye.
In fact,
I carried a knife in my pocketbook—
my husband’s good L. L. Bean hunting knife.
I wasn’t sure if I should slash a tire
or scrape the guts out of some dream.

You taught me
to believe in dreams;
thus I was the dredger.
I held them like an old woman with arthritic fingers,
carefully straining the water out—
sweet dark playthings,
and above all, mysterious
until they grew mournful and weak.
O my hunger! My hunger!
I was the one
who opened the warm eyelid
like a surgeon
and brought forth young girls
to grunt like fish.

I told you,
I said—
but I was lying—
that the knife was for my mother . . .
and then I delivered her.

The curtains flutter out
and slump against the bars.
They are my two thin ladies
named Blanche and Rose.
The grounds outside
are pruned like an estate at Newport.
Far off, in the field,
something yellow grows.

Was it last month or last year
that the ambulance ran like a hearse
with its siren blowing on suicide—
Dinn, dinn, dinn!—
a noon whistle that kept insisting on life
all the way through the traffic lights?

I have come back
but disorder is not what it was.
I have lost the trick of it!
The innocence of it!
That fellow-patient in his stovepipe hat
with his fiery joke, his manic smile—
even he seems blurred, small and pale.
I have come back,
recommitted,
fastened to the wall like a bathroom plunger,
held like a prisoner
who was so poor
he fell in love with jail.

I stand at this old window
complaining of the soup,
examining the grounds,
allowing myself the wasted life.
Soon I will raise my face for a white flag,
and when God enters the fort,
I won’t spit or gag on his finger.
I will eat it like a white flower.
Is this the old trick, the wasting away,
the skull that waits for its dose
of electric power?

This is madness
but a kind of hunger.
What good are my questions
in this hierarchy of death
where the earth and the stones go
Dinn! Dinn! Dinn!
It is hardly a feast.
It is my stomach that makes me suffer.

Turn, my hungers!
For once make a deliberate decision.
There are brains that rot here
like black bananas.
Hearts have grown as flat as dinner plates.

Anne, Anne,
flee on your donkey,
flee this sad hotel,
ride out on some hairy beast,
gallop backward pressing
your buttocks to his withers,
sit to his clumsy gait somehow.
Ride out
any old way you please!
In this place everyone talks to his own mouth.
That’s what it means to be crazy.
Those I loved best died of it—
the fool’s disease.

Poem – Lessons in Hunger

‘Do you like me?’
I asked the blue blazer.
No answer.
Silence bounced out of his books.
Silence fell off his tongue
and sat between us
and clogged my throat.
It slaughtered my trust.
It tore cigarettes out of my mouth.
We exchanged blind words,
and I did not cry,
and I did not beg,
blackness lunged in my heart,
and something that had been good,
a sort of kindly oxygen,
turned into a gas oven.
Do you like me?
How absurd!
What’s a question like that?
What’s a silence like that?
And what am I hanging around for,
riddled with what his silence said?

Poem – The Lost Drink

I had spent the night in the watch-house —
My head was the size of three —
So I went and asked the chemist
To fix up a drink for me;
And he brewed it from various bottles
With soda and plenty of ice,
With something that smelt like lemon,
And something that seemed like spice.
It fell on my parching palate
Like the dew on a sunbaked plain,
And my system began to flourish
Like the grass in the soft spring rain;
It wandered throughout my being,
Suffusing my soul with rest,
And I felt as I “scoffed” that liquid
That life had a new-found zest.

I have been on the razzle-dazzle
Full many a time since then
But I never could get the chemist
To brew me that drink again.
He says he’s forgotten the notion —
‘Twas only by chance it came —
He’s tried me with various liquids
But oh! they are not the same.

We have sought, but we sought it vainly,
That one lost drink divine;
We have sampled his various bottles,
But somehow they don’t combine:
Yet I know when I cross the River
And stand on the Golden Shore
I shall meet with an angel chemist
To brew me that drink once more.

Poem – Our Mat

It came from the prison this morning,
Close-twisted, neat-lettered, and flat;
It lies the hall doorway adorning,
A very good style of a mat.

Prison-made! how the spirit is moven
As we think of its story of dread —
What wiles of the wicked are woven
And spun in its intricate thread!

The letters are new, neat and nobby,
Suggesting a masterly hand —
Was it Sikes, who half-murdered the bobby,
That put the neat D on the “and”?

Some banker found guilty of laches —
It’s always called laches, you know —
Had Holt any hand in those Hs?
Did Bertrand illumine that O?

That T has a look of the gallows,
That A’s a triangle, I guess;
Was it one of the Mount Rennie fellows
Who twisted the strands of the S?

Was it made by some “highly connected”,
Who is doing his spell “on his head”,
Or some wretched woman detected
In stealing her children some bread?

Does it speak of a bitter repentance
For the crime that so easily came?
Of the wearisome length of the sentence,
Of the sin, and the sorrow, and shame?

A mat! I should call it a sermon
On sin, to all sinners addressed;
It would take a keen judge to determine
Whether writer or reader is best.

Though the doorway be hard as a pavestone,
I rather would use it than that —
I’d as soon wipe my boots on a gravestone,
As I would on that Darlinghurst mat!

A Birthday Poem – Ted Kooser

Just past dawn, the sun stands
with its heavy red head

in a black stanchion of trees,

waiting for someone to come

with his bucket

for the foamy white light,

and then a long day in the pasture.

I too spend my days grazing,

feasting on every green moment

till darkness calls,

and with the others

I walk away into the night,

swinging the little tin bell

of my name. 

Poem – Sonnet 

The way the world is not
Astonished at you

It doesn’t blink a leaf

When we step from the house

Leads me to think

That beauty is natural, unremarkable

And not to be spoken of

Except in the course of things

The course of singing and worksharing

The course of squeezes and neighbors

The course of you tying back your raving hair to go out

And the course of course of me

Astonished at you

The way the world is not 

Poem – In a Hopeless Desert

You must love in any case,
find somebody or something in this desert –
close or far from you – to attract them
and revive himself.
That is vitally urgent for you.
If you lost any hope
let love ancient stature or crumbled idols
for the stretching yours wings,
and capturing wind
moving away from desert
waterles and lifeles for you.

Poem – There is no River

A river once flew.
with all it’s majesty.
Giving life and love,
to a single tree.

And the tree grew,
Tall and strong,
But one day,
The river stopped.

And the tree did not grow.
It needed the river.
And it’s roots shriveled.
And it’s branches drooped

The water left.
And the tree stood dying.
Wishing, hoping.
That the water would come back.

Poem – From The Ashes

Black soil engulfs
the shine of his skin.
His moans for help are weak,
though undeterred.

Stumbling forward, back
the blinding sun watching
guiltily.

It could have been him.
Or them. He didn’t know.
Who did he die for?
Selfishness or Selflessness?

Neither did him well.

His hand brushes the
dirt and soot from his eyes
and cheeks,

And brushes the
tears from his eyes,
and cheeks.

He returns to the grave,
where he rose,
valiant over Death,
victorious over Fate.

Standing over,
he looks down
into the broken coffin

He laid back down.
Closed his eyes.

And called for Death
to come once more.

Poem – Garadh 

FOR the poor body that I own

I could weep many a tear:

The days have stolen flesh and bone,

And left a changeling here.
Four feeble bones are left to me,

And the basket of my breast,

And I am mean and ugly now

As the scald flung from the nest.
The briars drag me at the knee,

The brambles go within,

And often do I feel him turn,

The old man in my skin.
The strength is carded from my bones,

The swiftness drained from me,

And all the living thoughts I had

Are like far ships at sea! 

Poem – When Klopstock England Defied

William Blake 28 November 1757 – 12 August 1827  London

William Blake
28 November 1757 – 12 August 1827 London


When Klopstock England defied,
Uprose William Blake in his pride;
For old Nobodaddy aloft
. . . and belch’d and cough’d;
Then swore a great oath that made Heaven quake,
And call’d aloud to English Blake.
Blake was giving his body ease,
At Lambeth beneath the poplar trees.
From his seat then started he
And turn’d him round three times three.
The moon at that sight blush’d scarlet red,
The stars threw down their cups and fled,
And all the devils that were in hell,

Answerèd with a ninefold yell.
Klopstock felt the intripled turn,
And all his bowels began to churn,
And his bowels turn’d round three times three,
And lock’d in his soul with a ninefold key; . . .
Then again old Nobodaddy swore
He ne’er had seen such a thing before,
Since Noah was shut in the ark,
Since Eve first chose her hellfire spark,
Since ’twas the fashion to go naked,
Since the old Anything was created . . .

Poem – A Woman Waits For Me – Walt Whitman

A WOMAN waits for me–she contains all, nothing is lacking,
Yet all were lacking, if sex were lacking, or if the moisture of the
right man were lacking.

Sex contains all,
Bodies, Souls, meanings, proofs, purities, delicacies, results,
promulgations,
Songs, commands, health, pride, the maternal mystery, the seminal
milk;
All hopes, benefactions, bestowals,
All the passions, loves, beauties, delights of the earth,
All the governments, judges, gods, follow’d persons of the earth,
These are contain’d in sex, as parts of itself, and justifications of
itself.

Without shame the man I like knows and avows the deliciousness of his
sex, 10
Without shame the woman I like knows and avows hers.

Now I will dismiss myself from impassive women,
I will go stay with her who waits for me, and with those women that
are warm-blooded and sufficient for me;
I see that they understand me, and do not deny me;
I see that they are worthy of me–I will be the robust husband of
those women.

They are not one jot less than I am,
They are tann’d in the face by shining suns and blowing winds,
Their flesh has the old divine suppleness and strength,
They know how to swim, row, ride, wrestle, shoot, run, strike,
retreat, advance, resist, defend themselves,
They are ultimate in their own right–they are calm, clear, well-
possess’d of themselves. 20

I draw you close to me, you women!
I cannot let you go, I would do you good,
I am for you, and you are for me, not only for our own sake, but for
others’ sakes;
Envelop’d in you sleep greater heroes and bards,
They refuse to awake at the touch of any man but me.

It is I, you women–I make my way,
I am stern, acrid, large, undissuadable–but I love you,
I do not hurt you any more than is necessary for you,
I pour the stuff to start sons and daughters fit for These States–I
press with slow rude muscle,
I brace myself effectually–I listen to no entreaties, 30
I dare not withdraw till I deposit what has so long accumulated
within me.

Through you I drain the pent-up rivers of myself,
In you I wrap a thousand onward years,
On you I graft the grafts of the best-beloved of me and America,
The drops I distil upon you shall grow fierce and athletic girls, new
artists, musicians, and singers,
The babes I beget upon you are to beget babes in their turn,
I shall demand perfect men and women out of my love-spendings,
I shall expect them to interpenetrate with others, as I and you
interpenetrate now,
I shall count on the fruits of the gushing showers of them, as I
count on the fruits of the gushing showers I give now,
I shall look for loving crops from the birth, life, death,
immortality, I plant so lovingly now. 40

Poem – Translation Of Part Of The First Book Of The Aeneid

William Wordsworth 1770 - 1850  Cumberland / England

William Wordsworth
1770 – 1850
Cumberland / England


BUT Cytherea, studious to invent
Arts yet untried, upon new counsels bent,
Resolves that Cupid, changed in form and face
To young Ascanius, should assume his place;
Present the maddening gifts, and kindle heat
Of passion at the bosom’s inmost seat.
She dreads the treacherous house, the double tongue;
She burns, she frets–by Juno’s rancour stung;
The calm of night is powerless to remove
These cares, and thus she speaks to winged Love:

‘O son, my strength, my power! who dost despise
(What, save thyself, none dares through earth and skies)
The giant-quelling bolts of Jove, I flee,
O son, a suppliant to thy deity!
What perils meet Aeneas in his course,
How Juno’s hate with unrelenting force
Pursues thy brother–this to thee is known;
And oft-times hast thou made my griefs thine own.
Him now the generous Dido by soft chains
Of bland entreaty at her court detains;
Junonian hospitalities prepare
Such apt occasion that I dread a snare.
Hence, ere some hostile God can intervene,
Would I, by previous wiles, inflame the queen
With passion for Aeneas, such strong love
That at my beck, mine only, she shall move.
Hear, and assist;–the father’s mandate calls
His young Ascanius to the Tyrian walls;
He comes, my dear delight,–and costliest things
Preserved from fire and flood for presents brings.
Him will I take, and in close covert keep,
‘Mid groves Idalian, lulled to gentle sleep,
Or on Cythera’s far-sequestered steep,
That he may neither know what hope is mine,
Nor by his presence traverse the design.
Do thou, but for a single night’s brief space,
Dissemble; be that boy in form and face!
And when enraptured Dido shall receive
Thee to her arms, and kisses interweave
With many a fond embrace, while joy runs high,
And goblets crown the proud festivity,
Instil thy subtle poison, and inspire,
At every touch, an unsuspected fire.’

Love, at the word, before his mother’s sight
Puts off his wings, and walks, with proud delight,
Like young Iulus; but the gentlest dews
Of slumber Venus sheds, to circumfuse
The true Ascanius steeped in placid rest;
Then wafts him, cherished on her careful breast,
Through upper air to an Idalian glade,
Where he on soft ‘amaracus’ is laid,
With breathing flowers embraced, and fragrant shade.
But Cupid, following cheerily his guide
Achates, with the gifts to Carthage hied;
And, as the hall he entered, there, between
The sharers of her golden couch, was seen
Reclined in festal pomp the Tyrian queen.
The Trojans, too (Aeneas at their head),
On conches lie, with purple overspread:
Meantime in canisters is heaped the bread,
Pellucid water for the hands is borne,
And napkins of smooth texture, finely shorn.
Within are fifty handmaids, who prepare,
As they in order stand, the dainty fare;
And fume the household deities with store
Of odorous incense; while a hundred more
Matched with an equal number of like age,
But each of manly sex, a docile page,
Marshal the banquet, giving with due grace
To cup or viand its appointed place.
The Tyrians rushing in, an eager band,
Their painted couches seek, obedient to command.
They look with wonder on the gifts–they gaze
Upon Iulus, dazzled with the rays
That from his ardent countenance are flung,
And charmed to hear his simulating tongue;
Nor pass unpraised the robe and veil divine,
Round which the yellow flowers and wandering foliage twine.

But chiefly Dido, to the coming ill
Devoted, strives in vain her vast desires to fill;
She views the gifts; upon the child then turns
Insatiable looks, and gazing burns.
To ease a father’s cheated love he hung
Upon Aeneas, and around him clung;
Then seeks the queen; with her his arts he tries;
She fastens on the boy enamoured eyes,
Clasps in her arms, nor weens (O lot unblest!)
How great a God, incumbent o’er her breast,
Would fill it with his spirit. He, to please
His Acidalian mother, by degrees
Blots out Sichaeus, studious to remove
The dead, by influx of a living love,
By stealthy entrance of a perilous guest.
Troubling a heart that had been long at rest.

Now when the viands were withdrawn, and ceased
The first division of the splendid feast,
While round a vacant board the chiefs recline,
Huge goblets are brought forth; they crown the wine;
Voices of gladness roll the walls around;
Those gladsome voices from the courts rebound;
From gilded rafters many a blazing light
Depends, and torches overcome the night.
The minutes fly–till, at the queen’s command,
A bowl of state is offered to her hand:
Then she, as Belus wont, and all the line
From Belus, filled it to the brim with wine;
Silence ensued. ‘O Jupiter, whose care
Is hospitable dealing, grant my prayer!
Productive day be this of lasting joy
To Tyrians, and these exiles driven from Troy;
A day to future generations dear!
Let Bacchus, donor of soul-quick’ning cheer,
Be present; kindly Juno, be thou near!
And, Tyrians, may your choicest favours wait
Upon this hour, the bond to celebrate!’
She spake and shed an offering on the board;
Then sipped the bowl whence she the wine had poured
And gave to Bitias, urging the prompt lord;
He raised the bowl, and took a long deep draught;
Then every chief in turn the beverage quaffed.

Graced with redundant hair, Iopas sings
The lore of Atlas, to resounding strings,
The labours of the Sun, the lunar wanderings;
When human kind, and brute; what natural powers
Engender lightning, whence are falling showers.
He haunts Arcturus,–that fraternal twain
The glittering Bears,–the Pleiads fraught with rain;
–Why suns in winter, shunning heaven’s steep heights
Post seaward,–what impedes the tardy nights.
The learned song from Tyrian hearers draws
Loud shouts,–the Trojans echo the applause.
–But, lengthening out the night with converse new,
Large draughts of love unhappy Dido drew;
Of Priam asked, of Hector–o’er and o’er–
What arms the son of bright Aurora wore;–
What steeds the car of Diomed could boast;
Among the leaders of the Grecian host.
How looked Achilles, their dread paramount–
‘But nay–the fatal wiles, O guest, recount,
Retrace the Grecian cunning from its source,
Your own grief and your friends?–your wandering course;
For now, till this seventh summer have ye ranged
The sea, or trod the earth, to peace estranged.’

English Poem – To Isadore – Edgar Allan Poe

Edgar Allan Poe 19 January 1809 - 7 October 1849   Boston

Edgar Allan Poe
19 January 1809 – 7 October 1849
Boston


I. Beneath the vine-clad eaves,
Whose shadows fall before
Thy lowly cottage door–
Under the lilac’s tremulous leaves–
Within thy snowy clasped hand
The purple flowers it bore.
Last eve in dreams, I saw thee stand,
Like queenly nymph from Fairy-land–
Enchantress of the flowery wand,
Most beauteous Isadore!

II. And when I bade the dream
Upon thy spirit flee,
Thy violet eyes to me
Upturned, did overflowing seem
With the deep, untold delight
Of Love’s serenity;
Thy classic brow, like lilies white
And pale as the Imperial Night
Upon her throne, with stars bedight,
Enthralled my soul to thee!

III. Ah! ever I behold
Thy dreamy, passionate eyes,
Blue as the languid skies
Hung with the sunset’s fringe of gold;
Now strangely clear thine image grows,
And olden memories
Are startled from their long repose
Like shadows on the silent snows
When suddenly the night-wind blows
Where quiet moonlight lies.

IV. Like music heard in dreams,
Like strains of harps unknown,
Of birds for ever flown,–
Audible as the voice of streams
That murmur in some leafy dell,
I hear thy gentlest tone,
And Silence cometh with her spell
Like that which on my tongue doth dwell,
When tremulous in dreams I tell
My love to thee alone!

V. In every valley heard,
Floating from tree to tree,
Less beautiful to me,
The music of the radiant bird,
Than artless accents such as thine
Whose echoes never flee!
Ah! how for thy sweet voice I pine:–
For uttered in thy tones benign
(Enchantress!) this rude name of mine
Doth seem a melody!

English Poem – Collaring the Elephant – Terry Dawson

Entranquiled by a darted potion
Upon his bushheld range,
The elephant’s world is in slow motion
It seems almighty strange.

Presently he falls down in slumbers;
People rush to his side
For they would track him as he wanders
His range in easy stride.

And when his paraplegia clears,
He is enhanced by tech
For a transmitter now he wears
In collar round his neck.

And by the means of this device,
As all will surely guess
The bearings, when they’re measured twice,
His whereabouts express.

A Lover’s Complaint – William Shakespeare

William Shakespeare 1

FROM off a hill whose concave womb reworded
A plaintful story from a sistering vale,
My spirits to attend this double voice accorded,
And down I laid to list the sad-tuned tale;
Ere long espied a fickle maid full pale,
Tearing of papers, breaking rings a-twain,
Storming her world with sorrow’s wind and rain.

Upon her head a platted hive of straw,
Which fortified her visage from the sun,
Whereon the thought might think sometime it saw
The carcass of beauty spent and done:
Time had not scythed all that youth begun,
Nor youth all quit; but, spite of heaven’s fell rage,
Some beauty peep’d through lattice of sear’d age.

Oft did she heave her napkin to her eyne,
Which on it had conceited characters,
Laundering the silken figures in the brine
That season’d woe had pelleted in tears,
And often reading what contents it bears;
As often shrieking undistinguish’d woe,
In clamours of all size, both high and low.

Sometimes her levell’d eyes their carriage ride,
As they did battery to the spheres intend;
Sometime diverted their poor balls are tied
To the orbed earth; sometimes they do extend
Their view right on; anon their gazes lend
To every place at once, and, nowhere fix’d,
The mind and sight distractedly commix’d.

Her hair, nor loose nor tied in formal plat,
Proclaim’d in her a careless hand of pride
For some, untuck’d, descended her sheaved hat,
Hanging her pale and pined cheek beside;
Some in her threaden fillet still did bide,
And true to bondage would not break from thence,
Though slackly braided in loose negligence.

A thousand favours from a maund she drew
Of amber, crystal, and of beaded jet,
Which one by one she in a river threw,
Upon whose weeping margent she was set;
Like usury, applying wet to wet,
Or monarch’s hands that let not bounty fall
Where want cries some, but where excess begs all.

Of folded schedules had she many a one,
Which she perused, sigh’d, tore, and gave the flood;
Crack’d many a ring of posied gold and bone
Bidding them find their sepulchres in mud;
Found yet moe letters sadly penn’d in blood,
With sleided silk feat and affectedly
Enswathed, and seal’d to curious secrecy.

These often bathed she in her fluxive eyes,
And often kiss’d, and often ‘gan to tear:
Cried ‘O false blood, thou register of lies,
What unapproved witness dost thou bear!
Ink would have seem’d more black and damned here!’
This said, in top of rage the lines she rents,
Big discontent so breaking their contents.

A reverend man that grazed his cattle nigh–
Sometime a blusterer, that the ruffle knew
Of court, of city, and had let go by
The swiftest hours, observed as they flew–
Towards this afflicted fancy fastly drew,
And, privileged by age, desires to know
In brief the grounds and motives of her woe.

So slides he down upon his grained bat,
And comely-distant sits he by her side;
When he again desires her, being sat,
Her grievance with his hearing to divide:
If that from him there may be aught applied
Which may her suffering ecstasy assuage,
‘Tis promised in the charity of age.

‘Father,’ she says, ‘though in me you behold
The injury of many a blasting hour,
Let it not tell your judgment I am old;
Not age, but sorrow, over me hath power:
I might as yet have been a spreading flower,
Fresh to myself, If I had self-applied
Love to myself and to no love beside.

‘But, woe is me! too early I attended
A youthful suit–it was to gain my grace–
Of one by nature’s outwards so commended,
That maidens’ eyes stuck over all his face:
Love lack’d a dwelling, and made him her place;
And when in his fair parts she did abide,
She was new lodged and newly deified.

‘His browny locks did hang in crooked curls;
And every light occasion of the wind
Upon his lips their silken parcels hurls.
What’s sweet to do, to do will aptly find:
Each eye that saw him did enchant the mind,
For on his visage was in little drawn
What largeness thinks in Paradise was sawn.

‘Small show of man was yet upon his chin;
His phoenix down began but to appear
Like unshorn velvet on that termless skin
Whose bare out-bragg’d the web it seem’d to wear:
Yet show’d his visage by that cost more dear;
And nice affections wavering stood in doubt
If best were as it was, or best without.

‘His qualities were beauteous as his form,
For maiden-tongued he was, and thereof free;
Yet, if men moved him, was he such a storm
As oft ‘twixt May and April is to see,
When winds breathe sweet, untidy though they be.
His rudeness so with his authorized youth
Did livery falseness in a pride of truth.

‘Well could he ride, and often men would say
‘That horse his mettle from his rider takes:
Proud of subjection, noble by the sway,
What rounds, what bounds, what course, what stop
he makes!’
And controversy hence a question takes,
Whether the horse by him became his deed,
Or he his manage by the well-doing steed.

‘But quickly on this side the verdict went:
His real habitude gave life and grace
To appertainings and to ornament,
Accomplish’d in himself, not in his case:
All aids, themselves made fairer by their place,
Came for additions; yet their purposed trim
Pieced not his grace, but were all graced by him.

‘So on the tip of his subduing tongue
All kinds of arguments and question deep,
All replication prompt, and reason strong,
For his advantage still did wake and sleep:
To make the weeper laugh, the laugher weep,
He had the dialect and different skill,
Catching all passions in his craft of will:

‘That he did in the general bosom reign
Of young, of old; and sexes both enchanted,
To dwell with him in thoughts, or to remain
In personal duty, following where he haunted:
Consents bewitch’d, ere he desire, have granted;
And dialogued for him what he would say,
Ask’d their own wills, and made their wills obey.

‘Many there were that did his picture get,
To serve their eyes, and in it put their mind;
Like fools that in th’ imagination set
The goodly objects which abroad they find
Of lands and mansions, theirs in thought assign’d;
And labouring in moe pleasures to bestow them
Than the true gouty landlord which doth owe them:

‘So many have, that never touch’d his hand,
Sweetly supposed them mistress of his heart.
My woeful self, that did in freedom stand,
And was my own fee-simple, not in part,
What with his art in youth, and youth in art,
Threw my affections in his charmed power,
Reserved the stalk and gave him all my flower.

‘Yet did I not, as some my equals did,
Demand of him, nor being desired yielded;
Finding myself in honour so forbid,
With safest distance I mine honour shielded:
Experience for me many bulwarks builded
Of proofs new-bleeding, which remain’d the foil
Of this false jewel, and his amorous spoil.

‘But, ah, who ever shunn’d by precedent
The destined ill she must herself assay?
Or forced examples, ‘gainst her own content,
To put the by-past perils in her way?
Counsel may stop awhile what will not stay;
For when we rage, advice is often seen
By blunting us to make our wits more keen.

‘Nor gives it satisfaction to our blood,
That we must curb it upon others’ proof;
To be forbod the sweets that seem so good,
For fear of harms that preach in our behoof.
O appetite, from judgment stand aloof!
The one a palate hath that needs will taste,
Though Reason weep, and cry, ‘It is thy last.’

‘For further I could say ‘This man’s untrue,’
And knew the patterns of his foul beguiling;
Heard where his plants in others’ orchards grew,
Saw how deceits were gilded in his smiling;
Knew vows were ever brokers to defiling;
Thought characters and words merely but art,
And bastards of his foul adulterate heart.

‘And long upon these terms I held my city,
Till thus he gan besiege me: ‘Gentle maid,
Have of my suffering youth some feeling pity,
And be not of my holy vows afraid:
That’s to ye sworn to none was ever said;
For feasts of love I have been call’d unto,
Till now did ne’er invite, nor never woo.

”All my offences that abroad you see
Are errors of the blood, none of the mind;
Love made them not: with acture they may be,
Where neither party is nor true nor kind:
They sought their shame that so their shame did find;
And so much less of shame in me remains,
By how much of me their reproach contains.

”Among the many that mine eyes have seen,
Not one whose flame my heart so much as warm’d,
Or my affection put to the smallest teen,
Or any of my leisures ever charm’d:
Harm have I done to them, but ne’er was harm’d;
Kept hearts in liveries, but mine own was free,
And reign’d, commanding in his monarchy.

”Look here, what tributes wounded fancies sent me,
Of paled pearls and rubies red as blood;
Figuring that they their passions likewise lent me
Of grief and blushes, aptly understood
In bloodless white and the encrimson’d mood;
Effects of terror and dear modesty,
Encamp’d in hearts, but fighting outwardly.

”And, lo, behold these talents of their hair,
With twisted metal amorously impleach’d,
I have received from many a several fair,
Their kind acceptance weepingly beseech’d,
With the annexions of fair gems enrich’d,
And deep-brain’d sonnets that did amplify
Each stone’s dear nature, worth, and quality.

”The diamond,–why, ’twas beautiful and hard,
Whereto his invised properties did tend;
The deep-green emerald, in whose fresh regard
Weak sights their sickly radiance do amend;
The heaven-hued sapphire and the opal blend
With objects manifold: each several stone,
With wit well blazon’d, smiled or made some moan.

”Lo, all these trophies of affections hot,
Of pensived and subdued desires the tender,
Nature hath charged me that I hoard them not,
But yield them up where I myself must render,
That is, to you, my origin and ender;
For these, of force, must your oblations be,
Since I their altar, you enpatron me.

”O, then, advance of yours that phraseless hand,
Whose white weighs down the airy scale of praise;
Take all these similes to your own command,
Hallow’d with sighs that burning lungs did raise;
What me your minister, for you obeys,
Works under you; and to your audit comes
Their distract parcels in combined sums.

”Lo, this device was sent me from a nun,
Or sister sanctified, of holiest note;
Which late her noble suit in court did shun,
Whose rarest havings made the blossoms dote;
For she was sought by spirits of richest coat,
But kept cold distance, and did thence remove,
To spend her living in eternal love.

”But, O my sweet, what labour is’t to leave
The thing we have not, mastering what not strives,
Playing the place which did no form receive,
Playing patient sports in unconstrained gyves?
She that her fame so to herself contrives,
The scars of battle ‘scapeth by the flight,
And makes her absence valiant, not her might.

”O, pardon me, in that my boast is true:
The accident which brought me to her eye
Upon the moment did her force subdue,
And now she would the caged cloister fly:
Religious love put out Religion’s eye:
Not to be tempted, would she be immured,
And now, to tempt, all liberty procured.

”How mighty then you are, O, hear me tell!
The broken bosoms that to me belong
Have emptied all their fountains in my well,
And mine I pour your ocean all among:
I strong o’er them, and you o’er me being strong,
Must for your victory us all congest,
As compound love to physic your cold breast.

”My parts had power to charm a sacred nun,
Who, disciplined, ay, dieted in grace,
Believed her eyes when they to assail begun,
All vows and consecrations giving place:
O most potential love! vow, bond, nor space,
In thee hath neither sting, knot, nor confine,
For thou art all, and all things else are thine.

”When thou impressest, what are precepts worth
Of stale example? When thou wilt inflame,
How coldly those impediments stand forth
Of wealth, of filial fear, law, kindred, fame!
Love’s arms are peace, ‘gainst rule, ‘gainst sense,
‘gainst shame,
And sweetens, in the suffering pangs it bears,
The aloes of all forces, shocks, and fears.

”Now all these hearts that do on mine depend,
Feeling it break, with bleeding groans they pine;
And supplicant their sighs to you extend,
To leave the battery that you make ‘gainst mine,
Lending soft audience to my sweet design,
And credent soul to that strong-bonded oath
That shall prefer and undertake my troth.’

‘This said, his watery eyes he did dismount,
Whose sights till then were levell’d on my face;
Each cheek a river running from a fount
With brinish current downward flow’d apace:
O, how the channel to the stream gave grace!
Who glazed with crystal gate the glowing roses
That flame through water which their hue encloses.

‘O father, what a hell of witchcraft lies
In the small orb of one particular tear!
But with the inundation of the eyes
What rocky heart to water will not wear?
What breast so cold that is not warmed here?
O cleft effect! cold modesty, hot wrath,
Both fire from hence and chill extincture hath.

‘For, lo, his passion, but an art of craft,
Even there resolved my reason into tears;
There my white stole of chastity I daff’d,
Shook off my sober guards and civil fears;
Appear to him, as he to me appears,
All melting; though our drops this difference bore,
His poison’d me, and mine did him restore.

‘In him a plenitude of subtle matter,
Applied to cautels, all strange forms receives,
Of burning blushes, or of weeping water,
Or swooning paleness; and he takes and leaves,
In either’s aptness, as it best deceives,
To blush at speeches rank to weep at woes,
Or to turn white and swoon at tragic shows.

‘That not a heart which in his level came
Could ‘scape the hail of his all-hurting aim,
Showing fair nature is both kind and tame;
And, veil’d in them, did win whom he would maim:
Against the thing he sought he would exclaim;
When he most burn’d in heart-wish’d luxury,
He preach’d pure maid, and praised cold chastity.

‘Thus merely with the garment of a Grace
The naked and concealed fiend he cover’d;
That th’ unexperient gave the tempter place,
Which like a cherubin above them hover’d.
Who, young and simple, would not be so lover’d?
Ay me! I fell; and yet do question make
What I should do again for such a sake.

‘O, that infected moisture of his eye,
O, that false fire which in his cheek so glow’d,
O, that forced thunder from his heart did fly,
O, that sad breath his spongy lungs bestow’d,
O, all that borrow’d motion seeming owed,
Would yet again betray the fore-betray’d,
And new pervert a reconciled maid!’

O Never Say That I Was False of Heart – William Shakespeare

O never say that I was false of heart,
Though absence seem’d my flame to qualify:
As easy might I from myself depart
As from my soul, which in thy breast doth lie;

That is my home of love; if I have ranged,
Like him that travels, I return again,
Just to the time, not with the time exchanged,
So that myself bring water for my stain.

Never believe, though in my nature reign’d
All frailties that besiege all kinds of blood,
That it could so preposterously be stain’d
To leave for nothing all thy sum of good:

For nothing this wide universe I call,
Save thou, my rose: in it thou art my all.