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Updated, all links working: April 27th 2010 (56 poems)

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Futility


Move him into the sun -
Gently its touch awoke him once,
At home, whispering of fields unsown.
Always it woke him, even in France,
Until this morning and this snow.
If anything might rouse him now
The kind old sun will know.

Think how it wakes the seeds, -
Woke, once, the clays of a cold star.
Are limbs, so dear-achieved, are sides,
Full-nerved - still warm, - too hard to stir?
Was it for this the clay grew tall?
- O what made fatuous sunbeams toil
To break earth's sleep at all?

Wilfred Owen

The Meeting


The hawk slipt out of the pine, and rose in the sunlit air:
Steady and still he poised; his shadow slept on the grass:
And the bird's song sickened and sank: she cowered with furtive stare,
Dumb, till the quivering dimness should flicker and shift and pass.
Suddenly down he dropped: she heard the hiss of his wing,
Fled with a scream of terror: oh, would she had dared to rest!
For the hawk at eve was full, and there was no bird to sing,
And over the heather drifted the down from a bleeding breast.

A.C.Benson

Symphony in Yellow


An omnibus across the bridge
Crawls like a yellow butterfly
And, here and there, a passer-by
Shows like a little restless midge.

Big barges full of yellow hay
Are moored against the shadowy wharf
And. like a yellow silken scarf
The thick fog hangs along the quay

The yellow leaves begin to fade
And flutter from the Temple elms,
And at my feet the pale green Thames
Lies like a rod of rippled jade.

Oscar Wilde

Meeting At Night

1
The grey sea and the long black land;
And the yellow half-moon large and low;
And the startled little waves that leap
In fiery ringlets from their sleep,
As I gain the cove with pushing prow,
And quench its speed in the slushy sand.

2

Then a mile of warm sea-scented beach;
Three fields to cross till a farm appears;
A tap at the pane, the quick sharp scratch
And blue spurt of a lighted match,
And a voice less loud, thro' its joys and fears,
Than the two hearts beating each to each!

Parting At Morning

Round the cape of a sudden came the sea,
And the sun looked over the mountain's rim -
And straight was a path of gold for him,
And the need of a world of men for me.

Robert Browning

Remember

Remember me when I am gone away,

Gone far away into the silent land;
When you can no more hold me by the hand,
Nor I half turn to go yet turning stay.
Remember me when no more day by day
You tell me of our future that you planned:
Only remember me; you understand
It will be late to counsel then or pray.
Yet if you should forget me for a while
And afterwards remember, do not grieve:
For if the darkness and corruption leave
A vestige of the thoughts that once I had,
Better by far you should forget and smile
Than that you should remember and be sad.

Christina Rossetti

vii


Dark house, by which once more I stand
Here in the long unlovely street
Doors, where my heart was used to beat
So quickly, waiting for a hand,

A hand that can be clasp'd no more -
Behold me, for I cannot sleep,
And like a guilty thing I creep
At earliest morning to the door.

He is not here; but far away
The noise of life begins again,
And ghastly thro' the drizzling rain
On the bald street breaks the blank day.


from "In Memoriam A.H.H."
Tennyson

Heaven-Haven


I have desired to go
Where springs not fail,
To fields where flies no sharp and sided hail
And a few lilies blow.

And I have asked to be
Where no storms come,
Where the green swell is in the havens dumb
And out of the swing of the sea.

G.M. Hopkins

The Wild Swans at Coole


The trees are in their autumn beauty,
The woodland paths are dry,
Under the October twilight the water
Mirrors a still sky;
Upon the brimming water among the stones
Are nine-and-fifty Swans.
The nineteenth autumn has come upon me
Since I first made my count;
I saw, before I had well finished,
All suddenly mount
And scatter wheeling in great broken rings
Upon their clamorous wings.
I have looked upon those brilliant creatures,
And now my heart is sore.
All's changed since I, hearing at twilight,
The first time on this shore,
The bell-beat of their wings above my head,
Trod with a lighter tread.
Unwearied still, lover by lover,
They paddle in the cold
Companionable streams or climb the air;
Their hearts have not grown old;
Passion or conquest, wander where they will,
Attend upon them still.
But now they drift on the still water,
Mysterious, beautiful;
Among what rushes will they build,
By what lake's edge or pool
Delight men's eyes when I awake some day
To find they have flown away?

W.B. Yeats

The Listeners


Is there anybody there?' said the Traveller,
Knocking on the moonlit door;
And his horse in the silence champed the grasses
Of the forest's ferny floor.
And a bird flew up out of the turret,
Above the Traveller's head:
And he smote upon the door again a second time;
'Is there anybody there?' he said.
But no one descended to the Traveller;
No head from the leaf-fringed sill
Leaned over and looked into his grey eyes,
Where he stood perplexed and still.
But only a host of phantom listeners
That dwelt in the lone house then
Stood listening in the quiet of the moonlight
To that voice from the world of men:
Stood thronging the faint moonbeams on the dark stair,
That goes down to the empty hall,
Hearkening in an air stirred and shaken
By the lonely Traveller's call.
And he felt in his heart their strangeness,
Their stillness answering his cry,
While his horse moved, cropping the dark turf,
'Neath the starred and leafy sky;
For he suddenly smote on the door, even
Louder, and lifted his head:--
'Tell them I came, and no one answered,
That I kept my word,' he said.
Never the least stir made the listeners,
Though every word he spake
Fell echoing through the shadowiness of the still house
From the one man left awake:
Ay, they heard his foot upon the stirrup,
And the sound of iron on stone,
And how the silence surged softly backward,
When the plunging hoofs were gone.

Walter de la Mare

How do I Love Thee?


How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of Being and ideal Grace.
I love thee to the level of everyday's
Most quiet need, by sun and candlelight.
I love thee freely, as men strive for Right;
I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise.
I love thee with the passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood's faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints,--I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life! - and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.

Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Ozymandias of Africa


I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said:Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them on the sand,
Half sunk, a shatter'd visage lies, whose frown
And wrinkled lip and sneer of cold command
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamp'd on these lifeless things,
The hand that mock'd them and the heart that fed.
And on the pedestal these words appear:
'My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!'
Nothing beside remains: round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,
The lone and level sands stretch far away.

Percy Bysshe Shelley

The Snare


I hear a sudden cry of pain!
There is a rabbit in a snare:
Now I hear the cry again,
But I cannot tell from where.

But I cannot tell from where
He is calling out for aid!
Crying on the frightened air,
Making everything afraid!

Making everything afraid!
Wrinkling up his little face!
And he cries again for aid;
- and I cannot find the place!

And I cannot find the place
Where his paw is in the snare!
Little One! Oh, Little One!
I am searching everywhere!

James Stephens

Pisces


Who said to the trout
You shall die on Good Friday
To be food for a man
And his pretty lady?

It was I, said God,
Who formed the roses
In the delicate flesh
And the tooth that bruises.

R.S. Thomas

The Three Fishers


Three fishers went sailing away to the west,
Away to the west as the sun went down;
Each thought on the woman who loved him the best,
And the children stood watching them out of the town;
For men must work, and women must weep,
And there's little to earn, and many to keep,
Though the harbour bar be moaning.

Three wives sat up in the lighthouse tower,
And they trimmed the lamps as the sun went down;
They looked at the squall, and they looked at the shower,
And the night-rack came rolling up ragged and brown.
But men must work, and women must weep,
Though storms be sudden, and waters deep,
And the harbour bar be moaning.

Three corpses lay out on the shining sands
In the morning gleam as the tide went down,
And the women are weeping and wringing their hands
For those who will never come home to the town;
For men must work, and women must weep,
And the sooner it's over, the sooner to sleep;
And good-bye to the bar and its moaning.


Charles Kingsley

In Time of "The Breaking of Nations"


Only a man harrowing clods
In a slow silent walk
With an old horse that stumbles and nods
Half asleep as they stalk.

Only thin smoke without flame
From the heaps of couch-grass;
Yet this will go onward the same
Though Dynasties pass.

Yonder a maid and her wight
Come whispering by:
War's annals will cloud into night
Ere their story die.

Thomas Hardy

Breakfast


We ate our breakfast lying on our backs,
Because the shells were screeching overhead.
I bet a rasher to a loaf of bread
That Hull United would beat Halifax
When Jimmy Strainthorpe played full-back instead
Of Billy Bradford. Ginger raised his head
And cursed, and took the bet; and dropt back dead.
We ate our breakfast lying on our backs,
Because the shells were screeching overhead.

Wilfred Wilson Gibson

The Oxen

Christmas Eve, and twelve of the clock. 'Now they are all on their knees, An elder said as we sat in a flock By the embers in hearthside ease. We pictured the meek mild creatures where They dwelt in their strawy pen, Nor did it occur to one of us there To doubt they were kneeling then. So fair a fancy few would weave In these years! Yet, I feel, If someone said on Christmas Eve, 'Come; see the oxen kneel, 'In the lonely barton by yonder coomb Our childhood used to know, I should go with him in the gloom, Hoping it might be so.
Thomas Hardy

Cynddylan on a Tractor

Ah, you should see Cynddylan on a tractor.
Gone the old look that yoked him to the soil,
He's a new man now, part of the machine,
His nerves of metal and his blood oil.
The clutch curses, but the gears obey
His least bidding, and lo, he's away
Out of the farmyard, scattering hens.
Riding to work now as a great man should,
He is the knight at arms breaking the fields'
Mirror of silence, emptying the wood
Of foxes and squirrels and bright jays.
The sun comes over the tall trees
Kindling all the hedges, but not for him
Who runs his engine on a different fuel.
And all the birds are singing, bills wide in vain,
As Cynddylan passes proudly up the lane.

R.S. Thomas

Dover Beach


The sea is calm to-night.
The tide is full, the moon lies fair
Upon the straits;--on the French coast the light
Gleams and is gone; the cliffs of England stand,
Glimmering and vast, out in the tranquil bay.
Come to the window, sweet is the night-air!
Only, from the long line of spray
Where the sea meets the moon-blanch'd land,
Listen! you hear the grating roar
Of pebbles which the waves draw back, and fling,
At their return, up the high strand,
Begin, and cease, and then again begin,
With tremulous cadence slow, and bring
The eternal note of sadness in.

Sophocles long ago
Heard it on the Aegean, and it brought
Into his mind the turbid ebb and flow
Of human misery; we
Find also in the sound a thought,
Hearing it by this distant northern sea.

The Sea of Faith
Was once, too, at the full, and round earth's shore
Lay like the folds of a bright girdle furl'd.
But now I only hear
Its melancholy, long, withdrawing roar,
Retreating, to the breath
Of the night-wind, down the vast edges drear

And naked shingles of the world. Ah, love, let us be true
To one another! for the world, which seems
To lie before us like a land of dreams,
So various, so beautiful, so new,
Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light,
Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain;
And we are here as on a darkling plain
Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight,
Where ignorant armies clash by night.

Matthew Arnold

Requiem


Under the wide and starry sky,
Dig the grave and let me lie.
Glad did I live and gladly die,
And I laid me down with a will.

This be the verse you grave for me:
Here he lies where he longed to be;
Home is the sailor, home from sea,
And the hunter home from the hill

Robert Louis Stevenson

The Old Woman of the Roads


O, to have a little house!
To own the hearth and stool and all!
The heaped up sods upon the fire,
The pile of turf against the wall!

To have a clock with weights and chains
And pendulum swinging up and down!
A dresser filled with shining delph,
Speckled and white and blue and brown!

I could be busy all the day
Clearing and sweeping hearth and floor,
And fixing on their shelf again
My white and blue and speckled store!

I could be quiet there at night
Beside the fire and by myself,
Sure of a bed and loth to leave
The ticking clock and the shining delph!

Och! but I'm weary of mist and dark,
And roads where there's never a house nor bush,
And tired I am of bog and road,
And the crying wind and the lonesome hush!

And I am praying to God on high,
And I am praying Him night and day,
For a little house a house of my own
Out of the wind's and the rain's way.

Padraic Colum


Dejeuner du matin
Il a mis le café
Dans la tasse
Il a mis le lait
Dans la tasse de café
Il a mis le sucre
Dans le café au lait
Avec la petite cuiller
Il a tourné
Il a bu le café au lait
Et il a reposé la tasse
Sans me parler
Il a allumé
Une cigarette
Il a fait des ronds
Avec la fumée
Il a mis les cendres
Dans le cendrier
Sans me parler
Sans me regarder
Il s'est levé
Il a mis
Son chapeau sur sa tête
Il a mis
Son manteau de pluie
Parce qu'il pleuvait
Et il est parti
Sous la pluie
Sans une parole
Sans me regarder
Et moi j'ai pris
Ma tête dans ma main
Et j'ai pleuré.
He put the coffee
In the cup
He put the milk
In the cup of coffee
He put the sugar
In the café au lait
With the little spoon
He stirred
He drank the cafe au lait
And he set down the cup
Without speaking to me
He lit
A cigarette
He blew rings
With the smoke
He put the ashes
In the ashtray
Without speaking to me
Without looking at me
He stood up
He put
His hat on his head
He put on
His raincoat
Because it was raining
And he left
In the rain
Without a word
Without looking at me
And I, I took
My head in my hands
And I cried.

Jacques Prevert

Ye banks and braes o' bonnie Doon


Ye banks and braes o' bonnie Doon,
How can ye bloom sae fair?
How can ye chant, ye little birds,
And I sae fu' o' care?

Thou'll break my heart, thou bonnie bird
That sings upon the bough;
Thou minds me o' the happy days
When my fause Luve was true.

Thou'll break my heart, thou bonnie bird
That sings beside thy mate;
For sae I sat, and sae I sang,
And wist na o' my fate.

Aft hae I roved by bonnie Doon
To see the woodbine twine:
And ilka bird sang o' its Luve,
And sae did I o' mine.

Wi' lightsome heart I pu'd a rose,
Frae aff its thorny tree;
And my fause Luver staw the rose
But left the thorn wi' me.

Robert Burns


I am!


I am! yet what I am none cares or knows,
My friends forsake me like a memory lost;
I am the self-consumer of my woes,
They rise and vanish in oblivious host,
Like shades in love and death's oblivion lost;
And yet I am! and live with shadows tost
Into the nothingness of scorn and noise,
Into the living sea of waking dreams,
Where there is neither sense of life nor joys,
But the vast shipwreck of my life's esteems;
And e'en the dearest--that I loved the best -
Are strange--nay, rather stranger than the rest.

I long for scenes where man has never trod;
A place where woman never smil'd or wept;
There to abide with my creator, God,
And sleep as I in childhood sweetly slept:
Untroubling and untroubled where I lie;
The grass below--above the vaulted sky

John Clare

Ecce Puer


Of the dark past
A child is born;
With joy and grief
My heart is torn.

Calm in his cradle
The living lies.
May love and mercy
Unclose his eyes!

Young life is breathed
On the glass;
The world that was not
Comes to pass.

A child is sleeping:
An old man gone.
O, father forsaken,
Forgive your son!

James Joyce

Mid-Term Break


I sat all morning in the college sick bay
Counting bells knelling classes to a close.
At ten o'clock our neighbours drove me home.

In the porch I met my father crying -
He had always taken funerals in his stride -
And Big Jim Evans saying it was a hard blow.

The baby cooed and laughed and rocked the pram
When I came in, and I was embarrassed
By old men standing up to shake my hand

And tell me they were 'sorry for my trouble'
Whispers informed strangers that I was the eldest,
Away at school, as my mother held my hand

In hers and coughed out angry tearless sighs.
At ten o'clock the ambulance arrived
With the corpse, stanched and bandaged by the nurses.

Next morning I went up into the room. Snowdrops
And candles soothed the bedside I saw him
For the first time in six weeks. Paler now,

Wearing a poppy bruise on his left temple.
He lay in a four foot box, as in his cot.
No gaudy scars, the bumper knocked him clear.

A four foot box, a foot for every year

Seamus Heaney

We'll go no more a-roving


So, we'll go no more a-roving
So late into the night,
Though the heart be still as loving,
And the moon be still as bright.

For the sword outwears its sheath,
And the soul wears out the breast,
And the heart must pause to breathe,
And love itself have rest.

Though the night was made for loving,
And the day returns too soon,
Yet we'll go no more a-roving
By the light of the moon.

Lord Byron


The Red Wheelbarrow


so much depends
upon

a red wheel
barrow

glazed with rain
water

beside the white
chickens.

William Carlos Williams


Buffalo Bill's


Buffalo Bill's
defunct
  who used to
 ride a watersmooth-silver
     stallion
and break onetwothreefourfive pigeonsjustlikethat
           Jesus

he was a handsome man
           and what i want to know is
how do you like your blueeyed boy
Mister Death

e e cummings


Il la prend dans ses bras
Il la prend dans ses bras
Lueurs brillantes un instant entrevues
Aux omoplates aux épaules aux seins
Puis cachées par un nuage.

Elle porte la main sur son coeur
Elle pâlit elle frissonne
Qui donc a crié?

Mais l'autre s'il est encore vivant
On le retrouvera
Dans une ville inconnue
He takes her into his arms.
Bright lights are glimpsed for an instant
on her upper back, shoulders and breasts,
then hidden by a cloud.

She lifts her hand to her heart.
She pales, she quivers.
So who cried out?

But the other man, if he's still alive
will be found
in an unknown city.

Paul Eluard

Not waving but drowning


Nobody heard him, the dead man,
But still he lay moaning:
I was much further out than you thought
And not waving but drowning.

Poor chap, he always loved larking
And now he's dead
It must have been too cold for him his heart gave way,
They said.

Oh, no no no, it was too cold always
(Still the dead one lay moaning)
I was much too far out all my life
And not waving but drowning.

Stevie Smith

Conquerors


By sundown we came to a hidden village
Where all the air was still
And no sound met our tired ears, save
For the sorry drip of rain from blackened trees
And the melancholy song of swinging gates.
Then through a broken pane some of us saw
A dead bird in a rusting cage, still
Pressing his thin tattered breast against the bars,
His beak wide open. And
As we hurried through the weed-grown street,
A gaunt dog started up from some dark place
And shambled off on legs as thin as sticks
Into the wood, to die at least in peace.
No one had told us victory was like this;
Not one amongst us would have eaten bread
Before he'd filled the mouth of the grey child
That sprawled, stiff as stone, before the shattered door.
There was not one who did not think of home.

Henry Treece



NAMING OF PARTS


To-day we have naming of parts. Yesterday,
We had daily cleaning. And to-morrow morning,
We shall have what to do after firing. But to-day,
To-day we have naming of parts. Japonica
Glistens like coral in all of the neighboring gardens,
          And to-day we have naming of parts.
This is the lower sling swivel. And this Is the upper sling swivel, whose use you will see, When you are given your slings. And this is the piling swivel, Which in your case you have not got. The branches Hold in the gardens their silent, eloquent gestures, Which in our case we have not got.
This is the safety-catch, which is always released With an easy flick of the thumb. And please do not let me See anyone using his finger. You can do it quite easy If you have any strength in your thumb. The blossoms Are fragile and motionless, never letting anyone see Any of them using their finger.
And this you can see is the bolt. The purpose of this Is to open the breech, as you see. We can slide it Rapidly backwards and forwards: we call this Easing the spring. And rapidly backwards and forwards The early bees are assaulting and fumbling the flowers They call it easing the Spring.
They call it easing the Spring: it is perfectly easy If you have any strength in your thumb: like the bolt, And the breech, and the cocking-piece, and the point of balance, Which in our case we have not got; and the almond-blossom Silent in all of the gardens and the bees going backwards and forwards, For to-day we have naming of parts.

Henry Reed

Adlestrop


Yes, I remember Adlestrop --
The name, because one afternoon
Of heat the express-train drew up there
Unwontedly. It was late June.

The steam hissed. Someone cleared his throat.
No one left and no one came
On the bare platform. What I saw
Was Adlestrop -- only the name

And willows, willow-herb, and grass,
And meadowsweet, and haycocks dry,
No whit less still and lonely fair
Than the high cloudlets in the sky.

And for that minute a blackbird sang
Close by, and round him, mistier,
Farther and farther, all the birds
Of Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire.

Edward Thomas



For Annie

With Annie gone
whose eyes to compare
with the morning sun.
Not that I did compare,
but I do compare
now that she's gone.

Leonard Cohen



She dwelt among the untrodden ways


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!

William Wordsworth

Evening on Calais Beach

It is a beauteous evening, calm and free,
   The holy time is quiet as a Nun
   Breathless with adoration; the broad sun
Is sinking down in its tranquillity;
The gentleness of heaven broods o'er the sea:
   Listen! the mighty Being is awake,
   And doth with his eternal motion make
A sound like thunder - everlastingly.

Dear Child! dear Girl! that walkest with me here,
   If thou appear untouch'd by solemn thought,
   Thy nature is not therefore less divine:
Thou liest in Abraham's bosom all the year;
   And worshipp'st at the Temple's inner shrine,
   God being with thee when we know it not.

William Wordsworth


Caliban:
Be not afeard; the isle is full of noises,
Sounds and sweet airs, that give delight and hurt not.
Sometimes a thousand twangling instruments
Will hum about mine ears, and sometime voices
That, if I then had waked after long sleep,
Will make me sleep again: and then, in dreaming,
The clouds methought would open and show riches
Ready to drop upon me that, when I waked,
I cried to dream again.

from The Tempest
William Shakespeare

Duke of York:
As in a theatre, the eyes of men,
After a well-graced actor leaves the stage,
Are idly bent on him that enters next,
Thinking his prattle to be tedious;
Even so, or with much more contempt, men's eyes
Did scowl on gentle Richard; no man cried 'God save him!'
No joyful tongue gave him his welcome home:
But dust was thrown upon his sacred head:
Which with such gentle sorrow he shook off,
His face still combating with tears and smiles,
The badges of his grief and patience,
That had not God, for some strong purpose, steel'd
The hearts of men, they must perforce have melted
And barbarism itself have pitied him.
But heaven hath a hand in these events,
To whose high will we bound our calm contents.
To Bolingbroke are we sworn subjects now,
Whose state and honour I for aye allow.

from Richard II
William Shakespeare



Never give all the Heart

Never give all the heart, for love Will hardly seem worth thinking of To passionate women if it seem Certain, and they never dream That it fades out from kiss to kiss; For everything that's lovely is But a brief, dreamy, kind delight. O never give the heart outright, For they, for all smooth lips can say, Have given their hearts up to the play. And who could play it well enough If deaf and dumb and blind with love? He that made this knows all the cost, For he gave all his heart and lost.
W.B. Yeats


Belfast Confetti


Suddenly as the riot squad moved in, it was raining exclamation marks, Nuts, bolts, nails, car-keys. A fount of broken type. And the explosion. Itself - an askerisk on the map. This hyphenated line, a burst of rapid fire... I was trying to complete a sentence in my head but it kept stuttering, All the alleyways and side streets blocked with stops and colons. I know this labyrinth so well - Balaclava, Raglan, Inkerman, Odessa Street - Why can't I escape? Every move is punctuated. Crimea Street. Dead end again. A Saracen, Kremlin-2 mesh. Makrolon face-shields. Walkie- talkies. What is My name? Where am I coming from? Where am I going? A fusillade of question- marks.
Ciaron Carson


III The Fire Sermon

THE river's tent is broken: the last fingers of leaf Clutch and sink into the wet bank. The wind Crosses the brown land, unheard. The nymphs are departed. Sweet Thames, run softly, till I end my song. The river bears no empty bottles, sandwich papers, Silk handkerchiefs, cardboard boxes, cigarette ends Or other testimony of summer nights. The nymphs are departed. And their friends, the loitering heirs of city directors; Departed, have left no addresses. By the waters of Leman I sat down and wept... Sweet Thames, run softly till I end my song, Sweet Thames, run softly, for I speak not loud or long. But at my back in a cold blast I hear The rattle of the bones, and chuckle spread from ear to ear.

from 'The Waste Land'
T.S. Eliot

The coming of Wisdom with Time

Though leaves are many, the root is one; Through all the lying days of my youth I swayed my leaves and flowers in the sun; Now I may wither into the truth.
W.B. Yeats

Afterwards

When the Present has latched its postern behind my tremulous stay, And the May month flaps its glad green leaves like wings, Delicate-filmed as new-spun silk, will the neighbours say, "He was a man who used to notice such things"? If it be in the dusk when, like an eyelid's soundless blink, The dewfall-hawk comes crossing the shades to alight Upon the wind-warped upland thorn, a gazer may think, "To him this must have been a familiar sight." If I pass during some nocturnal blackness, mothy and warm, When the hedgehog travels furtively over the lawn, One may say, "He strove that such innocent creatures should come to no harm, But he could do little for them; and now he is gone." If, when hearing that I have been stilled at last, they stand at the door, Watching the full-starred heavens that winter sees, Will this thought rise on those who will meet my face no more, "He was one who had an eye for such mysteries"? And will any say when my bell of quittance is heard in the gloom, And a crossing breeze cuts a pause in its outrollings, Till they rise again, as they were a new bell's boom, "He hears it not now, but used to notice such things"? Thomas Hardy

The Fly

She sat on the willow bark watching part of the battle of Crecy, the shrieks the moans, the wails, the trampling and tumbling. During the fourteenth charge of the French cavalry she mated with a brown-eyed male fly from Vadincourt. She rubbed her legs together sitting on a disembowled horse meditating on the immortality of flies. Relieved she alighted on the blue tongue of the Duke of Clervaux. When silence settled and the whisper of decay softly circled the bodies and just a few arms and legs twitched under the trees, she began to lay her eggs on the single eye of Johann Uhr, the Royal Armorer. And so it came to pass - she was eaten by a swift fleeing from the fires of Estres.
Miroslav Holub

Spring & Fall: To A Young Child

Margaret, are you grieving Over Goldengrove unleaving? Leaves, like the things of man, you With your fresh thoughts care for, can you? Ah! as the heart grows older It will come to such sights colder By & by, nor spare a sigh Though worlds of wanwood leafmeal lie; And yet you wíll weep & know why. Now no matter, child, the name: Sorrow's springs are the same. Nor mouth had, no nor mind, expressed What héart héard of, ghóst guéssed: It is the blight man was born for, It is Margaret you mourn for.
G.M. Hopkins

That Don't Make It Junk

I fought against the bottle, But I had to do it drunk - Took my diamond to the pawnshop - But that don't make it junk. I know that I'm forgiven, But I don't know how I know. I don't trust my inner feelings - Inner feelings come and go. How come you called me here tonight? How come you bother With my heart at all? You raise me up in grace, Then you put me in a place, Where I must fall. Too late to fix another drink - The lights are going out - I'll listen to the darkness sing - I know what that's about. I tried to love you my way, But I couldn't make it hold. So I closed the Book of Longing And I do what I am told. How come you called me here tonight? How come you bother with my heart at all? You raise me up in grace, Then you put me in a place, Where I must fall. I fought against the bottle, But I had to do it drunk - Took my diamond to the pawnshop - But that don't make it junk.
Leonard Cohen

Mid-August at Sourdough Mountain Lookout

Down valley a smoke haze Three days heat, after five days rain Pitch glows on the fir-cones Across rocks and meadows Swarms of new flies. I cannot remember things I once read A few friends, but they are in cities. Drinking cold snow-water from a tin cup Looking down for miles Through high still air.
Don't ask why - couldn't answer - but this is the one poem I would take to a desert island if I
could have no other. I first read it in "The Critical Quarterly" in England, and used it in poetry
lessons for years.
Gary Snyder
 

Hay for the Horses

He had driven half the night From far down San Joaquin Through Mariposa, up the Dangerous Mountain roads, And pulled in at eight a.m. With his big truckload of hay behind the barn. With winch and ropes and hooks We stacked the bales up clean To splintery redwood rafters High in the dark, flecks of alfalfa Whirling through shingle-cracks of light, Itch of haydust in the sweaty shirt and shoes. At lunchtime under Black oak Out in the hot corral, ---The old mare nosing lunchpails, Grasshoppers crackling in the weeds--- "I'm sixty-eight" he said, "I first bucked hay when I was seventeen. I thought, that day I started, I sure would hate to do this all my life. And dammit, that's just what I've gone and done."
Gary Snyder

As kingfishers catch fire, dragonflies dráw fláme;

As kingfishers catch fire, dragonflies dráw fláme; As tumbled over rim in roundy wells Stones ring; like each tucked string tells, each hung bell's Bow swung finds tongue to fling out broad its name; Each mortal thing does one thing and the same: Deals out that being indoors each one dwells; Selves-goes itself; myself it speaks and spells, Crying Whát I do is me: for that I came. Í say móre: the just man justices; Kéeps gráce: thát keeps all his goings graces; Acts in God's eye what in God's eye he is - Chríst - for Christ plays in ten thousand places, Lovely in limbs, and lovely in eyes not his To the Father through the features of men's faces.
G.M. Hopkins

Mr Bleaney


'This was Mr Bleaney's room. He stayed The whole time he was at the Bodies, till They moved him.' Flowered curtains, thin and frayed, Fall to within five inches of the sill, Whose window shows a strip of building land, Tussocky, littered. 'Mr Bleaney took My bit of garden properly in hand.' Bed, upright chair, sixty-watt bulb, no hook Behind the door, no room for books or bags - 'I'll take it.' So it happens that I lie Where Mr Bleaney lay, and stub my fags On the same saucer-souvenir, and try Stuffing my ears with cotton-wool, to drown The jabbering set he egged her on to buy. I know his habits - what time he came down, His preference for sauce to gravy, why He kept on plugging at the four aways - Likewise their yearly frame: the Frinton folk Who put him up for summer holidays, And Christmas at his sister's house in Stoke. But if he stood and watched the frigid wind Tousling the clouds, lay on the fusty bed Telling himself that this was home, and grinned, And shivered, without shaking off the dread That how we live measures our own nature, And at his age having no more to show Than one hired box should make him pretty sure He warranted no better, I don't know.
Philip Larkin

A Valediction: forbidding mourning

AS virtuous men passe mildly away, And whisper to their soules, to goe, Whilst some of their sad friends doe say, The breath goes now, and some say, no: So let us melt, and make no noise, No teare-floods, nor sigh-tempests move, T'were prophanation of our joyes To tell the layetie our love. Moving of th'earth brings harmes and feares, Men reckon what it did and meant, But trepidation of the spheares, Though greater farre, is innocent. Dull sublunary lovers love (Whose soule is sense) cannot admit Absence, because it doth remove Those things which elemented it. But we by a love, so much refin'd, That our selves know not what it is, Inter-assured of the mind, Care lesse, eyes, lips, and hands to misse. Our two soules therefore, which are one, Though I must goe, endure not yet A breach, but an expansion, Like gold to ayery thinnesse beate. If they be two, they are two so As stiffe twin compasses are two, Thy soule the fixt foot, makes no show To move, but doth, if the'other doe. And though it in the center sit, Yet when the other far doth rome, It leanes, and hearkens after it, And growes erect, as that comes home. Such wilt thou be to mee, who must Like th'other foot, obliquely runne; Thy firmnes makes my circle just, And makes me end, where I begunne.
John Donne

Love Itself

The light came through the window, Straight from the sun above, And so inside my little room There plunged the rays of Love. In streams of light I clearly saw The dust you seldom see, Out of which the Nameless makes A Name for one like me. I'll try to say a little more: Love went on and on Until it reached an open door - Then Love Itself Love Itself was gone. All busy in the sunlight The flecks did float and dance, And I was tumbled up with them In formless circumstance. I'll try to say a little more: Love went on and on Until it reached an open door - Then Love Itself Love Itself was gone. Then I came back from where I'd been. My room, it looked the same - But there was nothing left between The Nameless and the Name. All busy in the sunlight The flecks did float and dance, And I was tumbled up with them In formless circumstance. I'll try to say a little more: Love went on and on Until it reached an open door - Then Love itself, Love Itself was gone. Love Itself was gone.
Leonard Cohen
 

Flannan Isle

Though three men dwell on Flannan Isle To keep the lamp alight, As we steered under the lee, we caught No glimmer through the night. A passing ship at dawn had brought The news; and quickly we set sail, To find out what strange thing might ail The keepers of the deep-sea light. The Winter day broke blue and bright, With glancing sun and glancing spray, As o'er the swell our boat made way, As gallant as a gull in flight. But, as we neared the lonely Isle; And looked up at the naked height; And saw the lighthouse towering white, With blinded lantern, that all night Had never shot a spark Of comfort through the dark, So ghostly in the cold sunlight It seemed, that we were struck the while With wonder all too dread for words. And, as into the tiny creek We stole beneath the hanging crag, We saw three queer, black, ugly birds Too big, by far, in my belief, For guillemot or shag Like seamen sitting bolt-upright Upon a half-tide reef: But, as we neared, they plunged from sight, Without a sound, or spurt of white. And still to mazed to speak, We landed; and made fast the boat; And climbed the track in single file, Each wishing he was safe afloat, On any sea, however far, So it be far from Flannan Isle: And still we seemed to climb, and climb, As though we'd lost all count of time, And so must climb for evermore. Yet, all too soon, we reached the door The black, sun-blistered lighthouse-door, That gaped for us ajar. As, on the threshold, for a spell, We paused, we seemed to breathe the smell Of limewash and of tar, Familiar as our daily breath, As though 't were some strange scent of death: And so, yet wondering, side by side, We stood a moment, still tongue-tied: And each with black foreboding eyed The door, ere we should fling it wide, To leave the sunlight for the gloom: Till, plucking courage up, at last, Hard on each other's heels we passed, Into the living-room. Yet, as we crowded through the door, We only saw a table, spread For dinner, meat and cheese and bread; But, all untouched; and no one there: As though, when they sat down to eat, Ere they could even taste, Alarm had come; and they in haste Had risen and left the bread and meat: For at the table-head a chair Lay tumbled on the floor. We listened; but we only heard The feeble cheeping of a bird That starved upon its perch: And, listening still, without a word, We set about our hopeless search. We hunted high, we hunted low; And soon ransacked the empty house; Then o'er the Island, to and fro, We ranged, to listen and to look In every cranny, cleft or nook That might have hid a bird or mouse: But, though we searched from shore to shore, We found no sign in any place: And soon again stood face to face Before the gaping door: And stole into the room once more As frightened children steal. Aye: though we hunted high and low, And hunted everywhere, Of the three men's fate we found no trace Of any kind in any place, But a door ajar, and an untouched meal, And an overtoppled chair. And, as we listened in the gloom Of that forsaken living-room A chill clutch on our breath We thought how ill-chance came to all Who kept the Flannan Light: And how the rock had been the death Of many a likely lad: How six had come to a sudden end, And three had gone stark mad: And one whom we'd all known as friend Had leapt from the lantern one still night, And fallen dead by the lighthouse wall: And long we thought On the three we sought, And of what might yet befall. Like curs, a glance has brought to heel, We listened, flinching there: And looked, and looked, on the untouched meal, And the overtoppled chair. We seemed to stand for an endless while, Though still no word was said, Three men alive on Flannan Isle, Who thought, on three men dead.
The 15th of December 2000 marked the 100th anniversary of the disappearance of the lighthouse keepers of Flannan Isle. A primary 6 class in St Ninians Primary School, Stirling, Scotland, did a class project on the
Flannan Isle mystery.
Wilfred Wilson Gibson

Love's Secret

Never seek to tell thy love, Love that never told can be; For the gentle wind does move Silently, invisibly. I told my love, I told my love, I told her all my heart; Trembling, cold, in ghastly fears, Ah! she did depart! Soon as she was gone from me, A traveller came by, Silently, invisibly He took her with a sigh.
William Blake

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