Monday, December 27, 2010

On Revisiting The Place Of My Nativity

By Robert Bloomfield

Though Winter's frowns had damp'd the beaming eye,
Through Twelve successive Summers heav'd the sigh,
The unaccomplish'd wish was still the same;
Till May in new and sudden glories came!
My heart was rous'd; and Fancy on the wing,
Thus heard the language of enchanting Spring:—

'Come to thy native groves and fruitful fields!
Thou know'st the fragrance that the wild-flow'r yields;
Inhale the Breeze that bends the purple bud,
And plays along the margin of the Wood.
I've cloth'd them all; the very Woods where thou
In infancy learn'd'st praise from every bough.
Would'st thou behold again the vernal day?
My reign is short;—this instant come away:
Ere Philomel shall silent meet the morn;
She hails the green, but not the rip'ning corn.
Come, ere the pastures lose their yellow flow'rs:
Come now; with heart as jocund as the hours.'

Who could resist the call?—that, Giles had done,
Nor heard the Birds, nor seen the rising Sun;
Had not Benevolence, with cheering ray,
And Greatness stoop'd, indulgent to display
Praise which does surely not to Giles belong,
But to the objects that inspir'd his song.
Immediate pleasure from those praises flow'd:
Remoter bliss within his bosom glow'd!
Now tasted all:—for I have heard and seen
The long-remember'd voice, the church, the green;—
And oft by Friendship's gentle hand been led
Where many an hospitable board was spread.
These would I name,… but each, and all can feel
What the full heart would willingly reveal:
Nor needs be told; that at each season's birth,
Still the enamell'd, or the scorching Earth
Gave, as each morn or weary night would come,
Ideal sweetness to my distant home:—
Ideal now no more;—for, to my view
Spring's promise rose, how admirably true!!
The early chorus of the cheerful Grove,
Gave point to Gratitude; and fire to Love.
O Memory! shield me from the World's poor strife;
And give those scenes thine everlasting life!

Written At London, May 30, 1800.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

For Deliverance From A Fever

By Anne Bradstreet

When sorrows had begirt me round,
And pains within and out,
When in my flesh no part was found,
Then didst Thou rid me out.
My burning flesh in sweat did boil,
My aching head did break,
From side to side for ease I toil,
So faint I could not speak.
Beclouded was my soul with fear
Of Thy displeasure sore,
Nor could I read my evidence
Which oft I read before.
"Hide not Thy face from me!" I cried,
"From burnings keep my soul.
Thou know'st my heart, and hast me tried;
I on Thy mercies roll."
"O heal my soul," Thou know'st I said,
"Though flesh consume to nought,
What though in dust it shall be laid,
To glory t' shall be brought."
Thou heard'st, Thy rod Thou didst remove
And spared my body frail
Thou show'st to me Thy tender love,
My heart no more might quail.
O, praises to my mighty God,
Praise to my Lord, I say,
Who hath redeemed my soul from pit,
Praises to Him for aye.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

The Divine Image

By William Blake

To Mercy, Pity, Peace, and Love,
All pray in their distress,
And to these virtues of delight
Return their thankfulness.

For Mercy, Pity, Peace, and Love,
Is God our Father dear;
And Mercy, Pity, Peace, and Love,
Is man, His child and care.

For Mercy has a human heart;
Pity, a human face;
And Love, the human form divine:
And Peace, the human dress.

Then every man, of every clime,
That prays in his distress,
Prays to the human form divine:
Love, Mercy, Pity, Peace.

And all must love the human form,
In heathen, Turk, or Jew.
Where Mercy, Love, and Pity dwell,
There God is dwelling too.

The Divine Image is a poem by William Blake published in Songs of Innocence in 1789. In this poem Blake pictures his view of an ideal world in which the four traditionally Christian virtues -Mercy, Pity, Peace and Love- are found in the human's heart and stand for God's support and comfort. Joy and gratitude are sentiments expressed through prayer for the caring and blessing of an infallible almighty God and are shared by all men on Earth encompassing a sense of equality and mutual respect.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

A Winter Piece

By William Cullen Bryant

The time has been that these wild solitudes,
Yet beautiful as wild, were trod by me
Oftener than now; and when the ills of life
Had chafed my spirit—when the unsteady pulse
Beat with strange flutterings—I would wander forth
And seek the woods. The sunshine on my path
Was to me as a friend. The swelling hills,
The quiet dells retiring far between,
With gentle invitation to explore
Their windings, were a calm society
That talked with me and soothed me. Then the chant
Of birds, and chime of brooks, and soft caress
Of the fresh sylvan air, made me forget
The thoughts that broke my peace, and I began
To gather simples by the fountain's brink,
And lose myself in day-dreams. While I stood
In nature's loneliness, I was with one
With whom I early grew familiar, one
Who never had a frown for me, whose voice
Never rebuked me for the hours I stole
From cares I loved not, but of which the world
Deems highest, to converse with her. When shrieked
The bleak November winds, and smote the woods,
And the brown fields were herbless, and the shades,
That met above the merry rivulet,
Were spoiled, I sought, I loved them still,—they seemed
Like old companions in adversity.
Still there was beauty in my walks; the brook,
Bordered with sparkling frost-work, was as gay
As with its fringe of summer flowers. Afar,
The village with its spires, the path of streams,
And dim receding valleys, hid before
By interposing trees, lay visible
Through the bare grove, and my familiar haunts
Seemed new to me. Nor was I slow to come
Among them, when the clouds, from their still skirts,
Had shaken down on earth the feathery snow,
And all was white. The pure keen air abroad,
Albeit it breathed no scent of herb, nor heard
Love-call of bird, nor merry hum of bee,
Was not the air of death. Bright mosses crept
Over the spotted trunks, and the close buds,
That lay along the boughs, instinct with life,
Patient, and waiting the soft breath of Spring,
Feared not the piercing spirit of the North.
The snow-bird twittered on the beechen bough,
And 'neath the hemlock, whose thick branches bent
Beneath its bright cold burden, and kept dry
A circle, on the earth, of withered leaves,
The partridge found a shelter. Through the snow
The rabbit sprang away. The lighter track
Of fox, and the racoon's broad path, were there,
Crossing each other. From his hollow tree,
The squirrel was abroad, gathering the nuts
Just fallen, that asked the winter cold and sway
Of winter blast, to shake them from their hold.

But Winter has yet brighter scenes,—he boasts
Splendours beyond what gorgeous Summer knows;
Or Autumn with his many fruits, and woods
All flushed with many hues. Come when the rains
Have glazed the snow, and clothed the trees with ice;
While the slant sun of February pours
Into the bowers a flood of light. Approach!
The incrusted surface shall upbear thy steps,
And the broad arching portals of the grove
Welcome thy entering. Look! the massy trunks
Are cased in the pure crystal; each light spray,
Nodding and tinkling in the breath of heaven,
Is studded with its trembling water-drops,
That stream with rainbow radiance as they move.
But round the parent stem the long low boughs
Bend, in a glittering ring, and arbours hide
The glassy floor. Oh! you might deem the spot
The spacious cavern of some virgin mine,
Deep in the womb of earth—where the gems grow,
And diamonds put forth radiant rods and bud
With amethyst and topaz—and the place
Lit up, most royally, with the pure beam
That dwells in them. Or haply the vast hall
Of fairy palace, that outlasts the night,
And fades not in the glory of the sun;—
Where crystal columns send forth slender shafts
And crossing arches; and fantastic aisles
Wind from the sight in brightness, and are lost
Among the crowded pillars. Raise thine eye,—
Thou seest no cavern roof, no palace vault;
There the blue sky and the white drifting cloud
Look in. Again the wildered fancy dreams
Of spouting fountains, frozen as they rose,
And fixed, with all their branching jets, in air,
And all their sluices sealed. All, all is light;
Light without shade. But all shall pass away
With the next sun. From numberless vast trunks,
Loosened, the crashing ice shall make a sound
Like the far roar of rivers, and the eve
Shall close o'er the brown woods as it was wont.

And it is pleasant, when the noisy streams
Are just set free, and milder suns melt off
The plashy snow, save only the firm drift
In the deep glen or the close shade of pines,—
'Tis pleasant to behold the wreaths of smoke
Roll up among the maples of the hill,
Where the shrill sound of youthful voices wakes
The shriller echo, as the clear pure lymph,
That from the wounded trees, in twinkling drops,
Falls, mid the golden brightness of the morn,
Is gathered in with brimming pails, and oft,
Wielded by sturdy hands, the stroke of axe
Makes the woods ring. Along the quiet air,
Come and float calmly off the soft light clouds,
Such as you see in summer, and the winds
Scarce stir the branches. Lodged in sunny cleft,
Where the cold breezes come not, blooms alone
The little wind-flower, whose just opened eye
Is blue as the spring heaven it gazes at—
Startling the loiterer in the naked groves
With unexpected beauty, for the time
Of blossoms and green leaves is yet afar.
And ere it comes, the encountering winds shall oft
Muster their wrath again, and rapid clouds
Shade heaven, and bounding on the frozen earth
Shall fall their volleyed stores rounded like hail,
And white like snow, and the loud North again
Shall buffet the vexed forest in his rage.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

A Poet To His Beloved

By William Butler Yeats

I bring you with reverent hands
The books of my numberless dreams;
White woman that passion has worn
As the tide wears the dove-gray sands,
And with heart more old than the horn
That is brimmed from the pale fire of time:
White woman with numberless dreams
I bring you my passionate rhyme.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

To My Brother George

By John Keats

Many the wonders I this day have seen:
The sun, when first he kist away the tears
That fill'd the eyes of morn;—the laurel'd peers
Who from the feathery gold of evening lean:—
The ocean with its vastness, its blue green,
Its ships, its rocks, its caves, its hopes, its fears,—
Its voice mysterious, which whoso hears
Must think on what will be, and what has been.
E'en now, dear George, while this for you I write,
Cynthia is from her silken curtains peeping
So scantly, that it seems her bridal night,
And she her half-discover'd revels keeping.
But what, without the social thought of thee,
Would be the wonders of the sky and sea?

Monday, October 4, 2010

Rippling Water

By Adam Lindsay Gordon

The maiden sat by the river side
(The rippling water murmurs by),
And sadly into the clear blue tide
The salt tear fell from her clear blue eye.
"'Tis fixed for better, for worse," she cried,
"And to-morrow the bridegroom claims the bride.
Oh! wealth and power and rank and pride
Can surely peace and happiness buy.
I was merry, nathless, in my girlhood's hours,
'Mid the waving grass when the bright sun shone,
Shall I be as merry in Marmaduke's towers?"
(The rippling water murmurs on).

Stephen works for his daily bread
(The rippling water murmurs low).
Through the crazy thatch that covers his head
The rain-drops fall and the wind-gusts blow.
"I'll mend the old roof-tree," so he said,
"And repair the cottage when we are wed."
And my pulses throbb'd, and my cheek grew red,
When he kiss'd me—that was long ago.
Stephen and I, should we meet again,
Not as we've met in days that are gone,
Will my pulses throb with pleasure or pain?
(The rippling water murmurs on).

Old Giles, the gardener, strok'd my curls
(The rippling water murmurs past),
Quoth he, "In laces and silks and pearls
My child will see her reflection cast;
Now I trust in my heart that your lord will be
Kinder to you than he was to me,
When I lay in the gaol, and my children three,
With their sickly mother, kept bitter fast."
With Marmaduke now my will is law,
Marmaduke's will may be law anon;
Does the sheath of velvet cover the claw?
(The rippling water murmurs on).

Dame Martha patted me on the cheek
(The rippling water murmurs low),
Saying, "There are words that I fain would speak—
Perhaps they were best unspoken though;
I can't persuade you to change your mind,
And useless warnings are scarcely kind,
And I may be foolish as well as blind,
But take my blessing whether or no."
Dame Martha's wise, though her hair is white,
Her sense is good, though her sight is gone—
Can she really be gifted with second sight?
(The rippling water murmurs on).

Brian of Hawksmede came to our cot
(The rippling water murmurs by),
Scatter'd the sods of our garden plot,
Riding his roan horse recklessly;
Trinket and token and tress of hair,
He flung them down at the door-step there,
Said, "Elsie! ask your lord, if you dare,
Who gave him the blow as well as the lie."
That evening I mentioned Brian's name,
And Marmaduke's face grew white and wan,
Am I pledged to one of a spirit so tame?
(The rippling water murmurs on).

Brian is headstrong, rash, and vain
(The rippling water murmurs still),
Stephen is somewhat duller of brain,
Slower of speech, and milder of will;
Stephen must toil a living to gain,
Plough and harrow and gather the grain;
Brian has little enough to maintain
The station in life which he needs must fill;
Both are fearless and kind and frank,
But we can't win all gifts under the sun—
What have I won save riches and rank?
(The rippling water murmurs on).

Riches and rank, and what beside?
(The rippling water murmurs yet),
The mansion is stately, the manor is wide,
Their lord for a while may pamper and pet;
Liveried lackeys may jeer aside,
Though the peasant girl is their master's bride,
At her shyness, mingled with awkward pride,—
'Twere folly for trifles like these to fret;
But the love of one that I cannot love,
Will it last when the gloss of his toy is gone?
Is there naught beyond, below, or above?
(The rippling water murmurs on).

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

A Mother To Her Waking Infant

By Joanna Baillie

Now in thy dazzling half-op'd eye,
Thy curled nose, and lip awry,
Thy up-hoist arms, and noddling head,
And little chin with crystal spread,
Poor helpless thing! what do I see,
That I should sing of thee?

From thy poor tongue no accents come,
Which can but rub thy toothless gum:
Small understanding boast thy face,
Thy shapeless limbs nor step, nor grace:
A few short words thy feats may tell,
And yet I love thee well.

When sudden wakes the bitter shriek,
And redder swells thy little cheek;
When rattled keys thy woe beguile,
And thro' the wet eye gleams the smile,
Still for thy weakly self is spent
Thy little silly plaint.

But when thy friends are in distress,
Thou'lt laugh and chuckle ne'er the less;
Nor e'en with sympathy be smitten,
Tho' all are sad but thee and kitten;
Yet little varlet that thou art,
Thou twitchest at the heart.

Thy rosy cheek so soft and warm;
Thy pinky hand, and dimpled arm;
Thy silken locks that scantly peep,
With gold-tip'd ends, where circle deep
Around thy neck in harmless grace
So soft and sleekly hold their place,
Might harder hearts with kindness fill,
And gain our right good will.

Each passing clown bestows his blessing,
Thy mouth is worn with old wives' kissing:
E'en lighter looks the gloomy eye
Of surly sense, when thou art by;
And yet I think whoe'er they be,
They love thee not like me.

Perhaps when time shall add a few
Short years to thee, thou'lt love me too.
Then wilt thou thro' life's weary way
Become my sure and cheering stay:
Wilt care, for me, and be my hold,
When I am weak and old.

Thou'lt listen to my lengthen'd tale,
And pity me when I am frail—
But see, the sweepy spinning fly
Upon the window takes thine eye.
Go to thy little senseless play—
Thou doest not heed my lay.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

On Seeing A Bust Of Mrs Montague

By Samuel Johnson

Had this fair figure which this frame displays,
Adorn'd in Roman time the brightest days,
In every dome, in every sacred place,
Her statue would have breathed an added grace,
And on its basis would have been enroll'd,
'This is Minerva, cast in Virtue's mould.'

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Love Of The Country

By Robert Bloomfield

Welcome silence! welcome peace!
O most welcome, holy shade!
Thus I prove as years increase,
My heart and soul for quiet made.
Thus I fix my firm belief
While rapture's gushing tears descend;
That every flower and every leaf
Is moral Truth's unerring friend.

I would not for a world of gold
That Nature's lovely face should tire;
Fountain of blessings yet untold;
Pure source of intellectual fire!
Fancy's fair buds, the germs of song,
Unquicken'd midst the world's rude strife,
Shall sweet retirement render strong,
And morning silence bring to life.

Then tell me not that I shall grow
Forlorn, that fields and woods will cloy;
From Nature and her changes flow
An everlasting tide of joy.
I grant that summer heats will burn,
That keen will come the frosty night;
But both shall please: and each in turn
Yield Reason's most supreme delight.

Build me a shrine, and I could kneel
To Rural Gods, or prostrate fall;
Did I not see, did I not feel,
That one GREAT SPIRIT governs all.
O heav'n permit that I may lie
Where o'er my corse green branches ware;
And those who from life's tumult fly
With kindred feelings press my grave.

Written At Clare-Hall, Herts. June 1804.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Visions Of The Worlds Vanitie

By Edmund Spenser


One day, whiles that my daylie cares did sleepe,
My spirit, shaking off her earthly prison,
Began to enter into meditation deepe
Of things exceeding reach of common reason;
Such as this age, in which all good is geason [1],
And all that humble is and meane [2] debaced,
Hath brought forth in her last declining season,
Griefe of good mindes, to see goodnesse disgraced!
On which when as my thought was throghly [3] placed,
Unto my eyes strange showes presented were,
Picturing that which I in minde embraced,
That yet those sights empassion [4] me full nere.
Such as they were, faire Ladie [5], take in worth,
That when time serves may bring things better forth.

[1 Geason, rare.] [2 Meane, lowly.] [3 Throghly, thoroughly.] [4 Empassion, move.]


In summers day, when Phoebus fairly shone,
I saw a Bull as white as driven snowe,
With gilden homes embowed like the moone,
In a fresh flowring meadow lying lowe:
Up to his eares the verdant grasse did growe,
And the gay floures did offer to be eaten;
But he with fatnes so did overflows,
That he all wallowed in the weedes downe beaten,
Ne car'd with them his daintie lips to sweeten:
Till that a Brize [1], a scorned little creature,
Through his faire hide his angrie sting did threaten,
And vext so sore, that all his goodly feature
And all his plenteous pasture nought him pleased:
So by the small the great is oft diseased [2].

[1 Brize, a gadfly.] [2 Diseased, deprived of ease.]


Beside the fruitfull shore of muddie Nile,
Upon a sunnie banke outstretched lay,
In monstrous length, a mightie Crocodile,
That, cram'd with guiltles blood and greedie pray
Of wretched people travailing that way,
Thought all things lesse than his disdainfull pride.
I saw a little Bird, cal'd Tedula,
The least of thousands which on earth abide,
That forst this hideous beast to open wide
The greisly gates of his devouring hell,
And let him feede, as Nature doth provide,
Upon his iawes, that with blacke venime swell.
Why then should greatest things the least disdaine,
Sith that so small so mightie can constraine?


The kingly bird that beares Ioves thunder-clap
One day did scorne the simple Scarabee [1],
Proud of his highest service and good hap,
That made all other foules his thralls to bee.
The silly flie, that no redresse did see,
Spide where the Eagle built his towring nest,
And, kindling fire within the hollow tree,
Burnt up his yong ones, and himselfe distrest;
Ne suffred him in anie place to rest,
But drove in Ioves owne lap his egs to lay;
Where gathering also filth him to infest,
Forst with the filth his egs to fling away:
For which, when as the foule was wroth, said Iove,
"Lo! how the least the greatest may reprove."

[1 Scarabee, beetle.]


Toward the sea turning my troubled eye,
I saw the fish (if fish I may it cleepe [1])
That makes the sea before his face to flye,
And with his flaggie finnes doth seeme to sweepe
The fomie waves out of the dreadfull deep;
The huge Leviathan, dame Natures wonder,
Making his sport, that manie makes to weep.
A Sword-fish small him from the rest did sunder
That, in his throat him pricking softly under,
His wide abysse him forced forth to spewe,
That all the sea did roare like heavens thunder,
And all the waves were stain'd with filthie hewe.
Hereby I learned have not to despise
Whatever thing seemes small in common eyes.

[1 Cleepe, call.]


An hideous Dragon, dreadfull to behold,
Whose backe was arm'd against the dint of speare
With shields of brasse that shone like burnisht golde,
And forkhed sting that death in it did beare,
Strove with a Spider, his unequall peare,
And bad defiance to his enemie.
The subtill vermin, creeping closely [1] neare,
Did in his drinke shed poyson privilie;
Which, through his entrailes spredding diversly,
Made him to swell, that nigh his bowells brust,
And him enforst to yeeld the victorie,
That did so much in his owne greatnesse trust.
O, how great vainnesse is it then to scorne
The weake, that hath the strong so oft forlorne! [2]

[1 Closely, secretly.] [2 Forlorne, ruined.]


High on a hill a goodly Cedar grewe,
Of wondrous length and straight proportion,
That farre abroad her daintie odours threwe;
Mongst all the daughters of proud Libanon,
Her match in beautie was not anie one.
Shortly within her inmost pith there bred
A litle wicked worme, perceiv'd of none,
That on her sap and vitall moysture fed:
Thenceforth her garland so much honoured
Began to die, O great ruth [1] for the same!
And her faire lockes fell from her loftie head,
That shortly balde and bared she became.
I, which this sight beheld, was much dismayed,
To see so goodly thing so soone decayed.

[1 Ruth, pity.]


Soone after this I saw an Elephant,
Adorn'd with bells and bosses gorgeouslie,
That on his backe did beare, as batteilant [1],
A gilden towre, which shone exceedinglie;
That he himselfe through foolish vanitie,
Both for his rich attire and goodly forme,
Was puffed up with passing surquedrie [2],
And shortly gan all other beasts to scorne,
Till that a little Ant, a silly worme,
Into his nosthrils creeping, so him pained,
That, casting downe his towres, he did deforme
Both borrowed pride, and native beautie stained.
Let therefore nought that great is therein glorie,
Sith so small thing his happines may varie.

[1 As batteilant, as if equipped for battle.] [2 Surquedrie, presumption.]


Looking far foorth into the ocean wide,
A goodly Ship with banners bravely dight,
And flag in her top-gallant, I espide
Through the maine sea making her merry flight.
Faire blewe the wind into her bosome right,
And th'heavens looked lovely all the while,
That she did seeme to daunce, as in delight,
And at her owne felicitie did smile.
All sodainely there clove unto her keele
A little fish that men call Remora,
Which stopt her course, and held her by the heele,
That winde nor tide could move her thence away.
Straunge thing me seemeth, that so small a thing
Should able be so great an one to wring.


A mighty Lyon, lord of all the wood,
Having his hunger throughly satisfide
With pray of beasts and spoyle of living blood,
Safe in his dreadles den him thought to hide:
His sternesse was his prayse, his strength his pride,
And all his glory in his cruell clawes.
I saw a Wasp, that fiercely him defide,
And bad him battaile even to his iawes;
Sore he him stong, that it the blood forth drawes,
And his proude heart is fild with fretting ire:
In vaine he threats his teeth, his tayle, his pawes,
And from his bloodie eyes doth sparkle fire;
That dead himselfe he wisheth for despight.
So weakest may anoy the most of might!


What time the Romaine Empire bore the raine
Of all the world, and florisht most in might,
The nations gan their soveraigntie disdaine,
And cast to quitt them from their bondage quight.
So, when all shrouded were in silent night,
The Galles were, by corrupting of a mayde,
Possest nigh of the Capitol through slight,
Had not a Goose the treachery bewrayde.
If then a goose great Rome from ruine stayde,
And Iove himselfe, the patron of the place,
Preservd from being to his foes betrayde,
Why do vaine men mean things so much deface [1],
And in their might repose their most assurance,
Sith nought on earth can chalenge long endurance?

[1 Deface, disparage, despise.]


When these sad sights were overpast and gone,
My spright was greatly moved in her rest,
With inward ruth and deare affection,
To see so great things by so small distrest.
Thenceforth I gan in my engrieved brest
To scorne all difference of great and small,
Sith that the greatest often are opprest,
And unawares doe into daunger fall.
And ye, that read these ruines tragicall,
Learne, by their losse, to love the low degree;
And if that Fortune chaunce you up to call
To honours seat, forget not what you be:
For he that of himselfe is most secure
Shall finde his state most fickle and unsure.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Mutation (A Sonnet)

By William Cullen Bryant

They talk of short-lived pleasure—be it so—
Pain dies as quickly: stern, hard-featured pain
Expires, and lets her weary prisoner go.
The fiercest agonies have shortest reign;
And after dreams of horror, comes again
The welcome morning with its rays of peace;
Oblivion, softly wiping out the stain,
Makes the strong secret pangs of shame to cease:
Remorse is virtue's root; its fair increase
Are fruits of innocence and blessedness:
Thus joy, o'erborne and bound, doth still release
His young limbs from the chains that round him press.
Weep not that the world changes—did it keep
A stable, changeless state, 'twere cause indeed to weep.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Hymn Of Dead Soldiers

By Walt Whitman


One breath, O my silent soul!
A perfumed thought—no more I ask, for the sake of all dead soldiers.


Buglers off in my armies! At present I ask not you to sound; Not at the head of my cavalry, all on their spirited horses, With their sabres drawn and glistening, and carbines clanking by their thighs—(ah, my brave horsemen! My handsome, tan-faced horsemen! what life, what joy and pride, With all the perils, were yours!)

Nor you drummers—neither at reveillé, at dawn,
Nor the long roll alarming the camp—nor even the muffled beat for a
Nothing from you, this time, O drummers, bearing my warlike drums.


But aside from these, and the crowd's hurrahs, and the land's
Admitting around me comrades close, unseen by the rest, and voiceless,
I chant this chant of my silent soul, in the name of all dead soldiers.


Faces so pale, with wondrous eyes, very dear, gather closer yet;
Draw close, but speak not.
Phantoms, welcome, divine and tender!
Invisible to the rest, henceforth become my companions;
Follow me ever! desert me not, while I live!

Sweet are the blooming cheeks of the living, sweet are the musical voices
But sweet, ah sweet, are the dead, with their silent eyes.

Dearest comrades! all now is over;
But love is not over—and what love, O comrades!
Perfume from battlefields rising—up from foetor arising.

Perfume therefore my chant, O love! immortal love!
Give me to bathe the memories of all dead soldiers.

Perfume all! make all wholesome!
O love! O chant! solve all with the last chemistry.

Give me exhaustless—make me a fountain,
That I exhale love from me wherever I go,
For the sake of all dead soldiers.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

On The Use Of Poetry

By Mark Akenside

1 Not for themselves did human kind
Contrive the parts by heaven assign'd
On life's wide scene to play:
Not Scipio's force nor Caesar's skill
Can conquer Glory's arduous hill,
If Fortune close the way.

2 Yet still the self-depending soul,
Though last and least in Fortune's roll,
His proper sphere commands;
And knows what Nature's seal bestow'd,
And sees, before the throne of God,
The rank in which he stands.

3 Who train'd by laws the future age,
Who rescued nations from the rage
Of partial, factious power,
My heart with distant homage views;
Content, if thou, celestial Muse,
Didst rule my natal hour.

4 Not far beneath the hero's feet,
Nor from the legislator's seat
Stands far remote the bard.
Though not with public terrors crown'd.
Yet wider shall his rule be found,
More lasting his award.

5 Lycurgus fashion'd Sparta's fame,
And Pompey to the Roman name
Gave universal sway:
Where are they?—Homer's reverend page
Holds empire to the thirtieth age,
And tongues and climes obey.

6 And thus when William's acts divine
No longer shall from Bourbon's line
Draw one vindictive vow;
When Sydney shall with Cato rest,
And Russel move the patriot's breast
No more than Brutus now;

7 Yet then shall Shakspeare's powerful art
O'er every passion, every heart,
Confirm his awful throne:
Tyrants shall bow before his laws;
And Freedom's, Glory's, Virtue's cause,
Their dread assertor own.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

To My Dear and Loving Husband

By Anne Bradstreet

If ever two were one, then surely we.
If ever man were lov'd by wife, then thee;
If ever wife was happy in a man,
Compare with me ye women if you can.

I prize thy love more than whole Mines of Gold,
Or all the riches that the East doth hold.
My love is such that Rivers cannot quench,
Nor ought but love from thee, give recompence.

Thy love is such I can no way repay,
The heavens reward thee manifold I pray.
Then while we live, in love lets so persevere,
That when we live no more, we may live ever.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

A Summer Day

By Joanna Baillie

The dark-blue clouds of night in dusky lines,
Drawn wide and streaky o'er the purer sky,
Wear faint the morning purple on their skirts.
The stars that full and bright shone in the west,
But dimly twinkle to the stedfast eye;
And seen, and vanishing, and seen again,
Like dying tapers smoth'ring in their sockets,
Appear at last shut from the face of heav'n;
Whilst every lesser flame which shone by night,
The flashy meteor from the op'ning cloud,
That shoots full oft' across the dusky sky;
Or wand'ring fire which looks across the marsh,
Beaming like candle in a lonely cot,
To cheer the hopes of the benighted trav'ller,
Till swifter than the very change of thought,
It shifts from place to place, escapes his glance,
And makes him wond'ring rub his doubtful eyes;
Or humble glow-worm, or the silver moth,
Which cast a feeble glimm'ring o'er the green,
All die away.——
For now the sun, slow moving in his grandeur,
Above the eastern mountains lifts his head.
The webs of dew spread o'er the hoary lawn,
The smooth clear bosom of the settled pool,
The polish'd ploughshare on the distant field,
Catch fire from him, and dart their new got beams
Upon die dazzled eye.

The new-wak'd birds upon the branches hop,
Peck their loft down, and bristle out their feathers;
Then stretch their throats and tune their morning song;
Whilst stately crows, high swinging o'er their heads.
Upon the topmost boughs, in lordly pride,
Mix their hoarse croaking with the linnet's note;
Till gather'd closer in a sable band,
They take their flight to leek their daily food.
The village labourer, with careful mind,
As soon as doth the morning light appear,
Opens his eyes with the first darting ray
That pierces thro' the window of his cot,
And quits his easy bed; then o'er the field,
With lengthen'd swinging strides, betakes his way,
Bearing his spade and hoe across his moulder,
Seen from afar clear glancing in the sun,
And with good will begins his daily work.
The sturdy sun-burnt boy drives forth the cattle,
And vain of power, bawls to the lagging kine,
Who fain would stay to crop the tender shoots
Of the green tempting hedges as they pass;
Or beats the glist'ning bushes with his club,
To please his fancy with a shower of dew,
And frighten the poor birds who lurk within.
At ev'ry open door, thro' all the village,
Half naked children, half awake, are seen
Scratching their heads, and blinking to the light;
Till roused by degrees, they run about,
Or rolling in the sun, amongst the sand
Build many a little house, with heedful art.
The housewife tends within, her morning care;
And stooping 'midst her tubs of curdled milk,
With busy patience, draws the clear green whey
From the press'd sides of the pure snowy curd;
Whilst her brown dimpled maid, with tuck'd-up sleeve,
And swelling arm, assists her in her toil.
Pots smoke, pails rattle, and the warm confusion
Still thickens on them, till within its mould,
With careful hands, they press the well-wrought curd.

So goes the morning, till the pow'rful sun
High in the heav'ns sends forth his strengthen'd beams,
And all the freshness of the morn is fled.
The sweating trav'ller throws his burden down,
And leans his weary shoulder 'gainst a tree.
The idle horse upon the grassy field
Rolls on his back, nor heeds the tempting clover.
The swain leaves off his labour, and returns
Slow to his house with heavy sober steps,
Where on the board his ready breakfast plac'd,
Invites the eye, and his right cheerful wife
Doth kindly serve him with unfeign'd good will.
No sparkling dew-drops hang upon the grass;
Forth steps the mower with his glitt'ring scythe,
In snowy shirt, and doublet all unbrac'd,
White moves he o'er the ridge, with sideling bend,
And lays the waving grass in many a heap.
In ev'ry field, in ev'ry swampy mead,
The cheerful voice of industry is heard;
The hay-cock rises, and the frequent rake
Sweeps on the yellow hay, in heavy wreaths,
Leaving the smooth green meadow bare behind.
The old and young, the weak and strong are there,
And, as they can, help on the cheerful work.
The father jeers his awkward half-grown lad,
Who trails his tawdry armful o'er the field,
Nor does he fear the jeering to repay.
The village oracle, and simple maid,
Jest in their turns, and raise the ready laugh;
For there authority, hard favour'd, frowns not;
All are companions in the gen'ral glee,
And cheerful complaisance still thro' their roughness,
With placid look enlightens ev'ery face.
Some more advanced raise the tow'ring rick,
Whilst on its top doth stand the parish toast
In loose attire, and swelling ruddy cheek;
With taunts and harmless mock'ry she receives
The toss'd-up heaps from the brown gaping youth,
Who flaring at her, takes his aim awry,
Whilst half the load comes tumbling on himself.
Loud is her laugh, her voice is heard afar;
Each mower, busied in the distant field,
The carter, trudging on his distant way,
The shrill found know, cad up their hats in air,
And roar across the fields to catch her notice:
She waves her arm, and shakes her head at them,
And then renews her work with double spirit.
Thus do they jest, and laugh away their toil,
Till the bright sun, full in his middle course,
Shoots down his fiercest beams, which none may brave.
The stoutest arm hangs listless by its side,
And the broad shoulder'd youth begins to fail.
But to the weary, lo! there comes relief!
A troop of welcome children, o'er the lawn,
With slow and wary steps, their burthens bring.
Some bear upon their heads large baskets, heap'd
With piles of barley bread, and gusty cheese,
And some full pots of milk and cooling whey.
Beneath the branches of a spreading tree,
Or by the shad'wy side of the tall rick,
They spread their homely fare, and seated round,
Taste all the pleasure that a feast can give.

A drowzy indolence now hangs on all,
And ev'ry creature seeks some place of rest,
Screen'd from the violence of the oppressive heat.
No scatter'd flocks are seen upon the lawn,
Nor chirping birds among the bushes heard.
Within the narrow shadow of the cot
The sleepy dog lies stretched on his side,
Nor heeds the heavy-footed passenger;
At noise of feet but half his eye-lid lifts,
Then gives a feeble growl, and sleeps again:
Whilst puss, less nice, e'en in the scorching window,
On t'other side, sits winking to the sun.
No sound is heard but humming of the bee,
For she alone retires not from her labour,
Nor leaves a meadow flower unsought for gain.

Heavy and slow so pass the mid-day hours,
Till gently bending on the ridge's top,
The heavy seeded grass begins to wave,
And the high branches of the slender poplar
Shiver aloft in air their rustling leaves.
Cool breaths the rising breeze, and with it wakes
The worn out spirit from its state of stupor.
The lazy boy springs from his mossy bed,
To chace the gaudy tempting butterfly,
Who spreading on the grass its mealy wings,
Oft lights within his reach, e'en at his seer,
Yet still eludes his grasp, and o'er his head
Light hov'ring round, or mounted high in air
Temps his young eye, and wearies out his limbs.
The drouzy dog, who feels the kindly breeze
That passing o'er him, lifts his shaggy ear,
Begins to stretch him, on his legs half-rais'd,
Till fully wak'd, with bristling cock'd-up tail,
He makes the village echo to his bark.

But let us not forget the busy maid
Who, by the side of the clear pebly stream,
Spreads out her snowy linens to the sun,
And sheds with lib'ral hand the chrystal show'r
O'er many a fav'rite piece of fair attire,
Revolving in her mind her gay appearance
In all this dress, at some approaching fair.
The dimpling half-check'd smile, and mutt'ring lip
Betray the secret workings of her fancy,
And flattering thoughts of the complacent mind.
There little vagrant bands of truant boys
Amongst the bushes try their harmless tricks;
Whilst some a sporting in the shallow stream
Toss up the lashing water round their heads,
Or strive with wily art to catch the trout,
Or 'twixt their fingers grasp the slipp'ry eel.
The shepherd-boy sits singing on the bank,
To pass away the weary lonely hours,
Weaving with art his little crown of rushes,
A guiltless easy crown that brings no care,
Which having made he places on his head,
And leaps and skips about, and bawls full loud
To some companion, lonely as himself,
Far in the distant field; or else delighted
To hear the echo'd sound of his own voice
Returning answer from the neighboring rock,
Holds no unpleasing converse with himself.

Now weary labourers perceive, well-pleas'd,
The shadows lengthen, and th' oppressive day
With all its toil fast wearing to an end.
The sun, far in the west, with side-long beam
Plays on the yellow head of the round hay-cock,
And fields are checker'd with fantastic shapes
Or tree, or shrub, or gate, or rugged stone,
All lengthen'd out, in antic disproportion,
Upon the darken'd grass.——
They finish out their long and toilsome talk.
Then, gathering up their rakes and scatter'd coats,
With the less cumb'rous fragments of their feast,
Return right gladly to their peaceful homes.

The village, lone and silent thro' the day,
Receiving from the fields its merry bands,
Sends forth its ev'ning sound, confus'd but cheerful;
Whilst dogs and children, eager housewives' tongues,
And true love ditties, in no plaintive strain,
By shrill voic'd maid, at open window sung;
The lowing of the home-returning kine,
The herd's low droning trump, and tinkling bell
Tied to the collar of his fav'rite sheep,
Make no contemptible variety
To ears not over nice.——
With careless lounging gait, the saunt'ring youth
Upon his sweetheart's open window leans,
And as she turns about her buzzing wheel
Diverts her with his jokes and harmless taunts.
Close by the cottage door, with placid mien,
The old man sits upon his seat of turf,
His staff with crooked head laid by his side,
Which oft the younger race in wanton sport,
Gambolling round him, slyly steal away,
And straddling o'er it, shew their horsemanship
By raising round the clouds of summer sand,
While still he smiles, yet chides them for the trick.
His silver locks upon his shoulders spread,
And not ungraceful is his stoop of age.
No stranger passes him without regard;
And ev'ry neighbour stops to wish him well,
And ask him his opinion of the weather.
They fret not at the length of his discourse,
But listen with respect to his remarks
Upon the various seasons he remembers;
For well he knows the many divers signs
Which do fortell high winds, or rain, or drought,
Or ought that may affect the rising crop.
The silken clad, who courtly breeding boast,
Their own discourse still sweetest to their ears,
May grumble at the old man's lengthened story,
But here it is not so.——

From ev'ry chimney mounts the curling smoke,
Muddy and gray, of the new ev'ning fire;
On ev'ry window smokes the fam'ly supper,
Set out to cool by the attentive housewife,
While cheerful groups at every door conven'd
Bawl cross the narrow lane the parish news,
And oft the bursting laugh disturbs the air.
But see who comes to set them all agag!
The weary-footed pedlar with his pack.
How stiff he bends beneath his bulky load!
Cover'd with dust, slip-shod, and out at elbows;
His greasy hat sits backward on his head;
His thin straight hair divided on his brow
Hangs lank on either side his glist'ning cheeks,
And woe-begone, yet vacant is his face.
His box he opens and displays his ware.
Full many a varied row of precious stones
Cast forth their dazzling lustre to the light.
To the desiring maiden's wishful eye
The ruby necklace shews its tempting blaze:
The china buttons, stamp'd with love device,
Attract the notice of the gaping youth;
Whilst streaming garters, fasten'd to a pole,
Aloft in air their gaudy stripes display,
And from afar the distant stragglers lure.
The children leave their play and round him flock;
E'en sober aged grand-dame quits her seat,
Where by the door she twines her lengthen'd threads,
Her spindle stops, and lays her distaff by,
Then joins with step sedate the curious throng.
She praises much the fashions of her youth,
And scorns each gaudy nonsense of the day;
Yet not ill-pleas'd the glossy ribband views,
Uproll'd, and changing hues with ev'ry fold,
New measur'd out to deck her daughter's head.

Now red, but languid, the last weakly beams
Of the departing sun, across the lawn
Deep gild the top of the long sweepy ridge,
And shed a scatter'd brightness, bright but cheerless,
Between the op'nings of the rifted hills;
Which like the farewell looks of some dear friend,
That speaks him kind, yet sadden as they smile,
But only serve to deepen the low vale,
And make the shadows of the night more gloomy.
The varied noises of the cheerful village
By slow degrees now faintly die away,
And more distinct each feeble sound is heard
That gently steals ad own the river's bed,
Or thro' the wood comes with the ruffling breeze.
The white mist rises from the swampy glens,
And from the dappled flatting of the heav'ns
Looks out the ev'ning star.——
The lover skulking in the neighb'ring copse,
(Whose half-seen form shewn thro' the thicken'd air,
Large and majestic, makes the tray'ller start,
And spreads the story of the haunted grove,)
Curses the owl, whose loud ill-omen'd scream,
With ceaseless spite, robes from his watchful ear
The well known footsteps of his darling maid;
And fretful, chaces from his face the night-fly,
Who buzzing round his head doth often skim,
With flutt'ring wing, across his glowing cheek:
For all but him in deep and balmy sleep
Forget the toils of the oppressive day;
Shut is the door of ev'ry scatter'd cot,
And silence dwells within.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

The Echoing Green

By William Blake

The sun does arise,
And make happy the skies;
The merry bells ring
To welcome the Spring;
The skylark and thrush,
The birds of the bush,
Sing louder around
To the bells' cheerful sound;
While our sports shall be seen
On the echoing Green.

Old John, with white hair,
Does laugh away care,
Sitting under the oak,
Among the old folk.
They laugh at our play,
And soon they all say,
"Such, such were the joys
When we all—girls and boys—
In our youth-time were seen
On the echoing Green."

Till the little ones, weary,
No more can be merry:
The sun does descend,
And our sports have an end.
Round the laps of their mothers
Many sisters and brothers,
Like birds in their nest,
Are ready for rest,
And sport no more seen
On the darkening green.

The Echoing Green was published in Songs of Innocence in 1789. The poem talks about merry sounds and images which accompany the children playing outdoors.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Stella In Mourning

By Samuel Johnson

When lately Stella's form display'd
The beauties of the gay brocade,
The nymphs, who found their power decline,
Proclaim'd her not so fair as fine.
'Fate! snatch away the bright disguise,
And let the goddess trust her eyes.'
Thus blindly pray'd the fretful fair,
And Fate, malicious, heard the prayer;
But brighten'd by the sable dress,
As Virtue rises in distress,
Since Stella still extends her reign,
Ah! how shall Envy soothe her pain?
The adoring Youth and envious Fair,
Henceforth shall form one common prayer;
And Love and Hate alike implore
The skies—that Stella mourn no more.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Sir Philip Sidney's Sonnet In Reply To A Sonnet By Sir Edward Dyer

By Sir Philip Sidney

A satyr once did run away for dread,
With sound of horn which he himself did blow:
Fearing and feared, thus from himself he fled,
Deeming strange evil in that he did not know.

Such causeless fears when coward minds do take,
It makes them fly that which they fain would have;
As this poor beast, who did his rest forsake,
Thinking not why, but how, himself to save.

Ev'n thus might I, for doubts which I conceive
Of mine own words, my own good hap betray;
And thus might I, for fear of may be, leave
The sweet pursuit of my desired prey.
Better like I thy satyr, dearest Dyer,
Who burnt his lips to kiss fair shining fire.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

The Shepherd's Conceit Of Prometheus

A sonnet by Sir Edward Dyer

Prometheus, when first from heaven high
He brought down fire, till then on earth not seen;
Fond of delight, a satyr, standing by,
Gave it a kiss, as it like sweet had been.

Feeling forthwith the other burning power,
Wood with the smart, with shouts and shrieking shrill,
He sought his ease in river, field, and bower;
But, for the time, his grief went with him still.

So silly I, with that unwonted sight,
In human shape an angel from above,
Feeding mine eyes, th' impression there did light;
That since I run and rest as pleaseth love:
The difference is, the satyr's lips, my heart,
He for a while, I evermore, have smart.

Friday, June 11, 2010

An Hymne In Honour Of Beautie

By Edmund Spenser

Ah! whither, Love! wilt thou now carry mee?
What wontlesse fury dost thou now inspire
Into my feeble breast, too full of thee?
Whylest seeking to aslake thy raging fyre,
Thou in me kindlest much more great desyre, 5
And up aloft above my strength doth rayse
The wondrous matter of my fire to praise.

That as I earst in praise of thine owne name,
So now in honour of thy mother deare
An honourable hymne I eke should frame, 10
And, with the brightnesse of her beautie cleare,
The ravisht hearts of gazefull men might reare
To admiration of that heavenly light,
From whence proceeds such soule-enchanting might.

Therto do thou, great Goddesse! Queene of Beauty,
Mother of Love and of all worlds delight, 16
Without whose soverayne grace and kindly dewty
Nothing on earth seems fayre to fleshly sight,
Doe thou vouchsafe with thy love-kindling light
T'illuminate my dim and dulled eyne, 20
And beautifie this sacred hymne of thyne:

That both to thee, to whom I meane it most,
And eke to her whose faire immortall beame
Hath darted fyre into my feeble ghost,
That now it wasted is with woes extreame, 25
It may so please, that she at length will streame
Some deaw of grace into my withered hart,
After long sorrow and consuming smart.

To make al things such as we now behold, 30
It seems that he before his eyes had plast
A goodly paterne, to whose perfect mould
He fashiond them as comely as he could,
That now so faire and seemely they appeare
As nought may be amended any wheare. 35

That wondrous paterne, wheresoere it bee,
Whether in earth layd up in secret store,
Or else in heaven, that no man may it see
With sinfull eyes, for feare it do deflore,
Is perfect Beautie, which all men adore; 40
Whose face and feature doth so much excell
All mortal sence, that none the same may tell.

Thereof as every earthly thing partakes
Or more or lesse, by influence divine,
So it more faire accordingly it makes, 45
And the grosse matter of this earthly myne
Which closeth it thereafter doth refyne,
Doing away the drosse which dims the light
Of that faire beame which therein is empight*.
[* Empight, placed.]

For, through infusion of celestiall powre, 50
The duller earth it quickneth with delight,
And life-full spirits privily doth powre
Through all the parts, that to the lookers sight
They seeme to please; that is thy soveraine might,
O Cyprian queene! which, flowing from the beame 55
Of thy bright starre, thou into them doest streame.

That is the thing which giveth pleasant grace
To all things faire, that kindleth lively fyre;
Light of thy lampe; which, shyning in the face,
Thence to the soule darts amorous desyre, 60
And robs the harts of those which it admyre;
Therewith thou pointest thy sons poysned arrow,
That wounds the life and wastes the inmost marrow.

How vainely then do ydle wits invent
That Beautie is nought else but mixture made 65
Of colours faire, and goodly temp'rament
Of pure complexions, that shall quickly fade
And passe away, like to a sommers shade;
Or that it is but comely composition
Of parts well measurd, with meet disposition! 70

Hath white and red in it such wondrous powre,
That it can pierce through th'eyes unto the hart,
And therein stirre such rage and restlesse stowre*,
As nought but death can stint his dolours smart?
Or can proportion of the outward part 75
Move such affection in the inward mynd,
That it can rob both sense, and reason blynd?
[* Stowre, commotion.]

Why doe not then the blossomes of the field,
Which are arayd with much more orient hew,
And to the sense most daintie odours yield, 80
Worke like impression in the lookers vew?
Or why doe not faire pictures like powre shew,
In which oft-times we Nature see of Art
Exceld, in perfect limming every part?

But ah! beleeve me there is more then so, 85
That workes such wonders in the minds of men;
I, that have often prov'd, too well it know,
And who so list the like assayes to ken
Shall find by trial, and confesse it then,
That Beautie is not, as fond men misdeeme, 90
An outward shew of things that onely seeme.

For that same goodly hew of white and red
With which the cheekes are sprinckled, shall decay,
And those sweete rosy leaves, so fairly spred
Upon the lips, shall fade and fall away 95
To that they were, even to corrupted clay:
That golden wyre, those sparckling stars so bright,
Shall turne to dust, and lose their goodly light.

But that faire lampe, from whose celestiall ray
That light proceedes which kindleth lovers fire, 100
Shall never be extinguisht nor decay;
But, when the vitall spirits doe espyre,
Unto her native planet shall retyre;
For it is heavenly borne, and cannot die,
Being a parcell of the purest skie. 105

For when the soule, the which derived was,
At first, out of that great immortall Spright,
By whom all live to love, whilome did pas
Down from the top of purest heavens hight
To be embodied here, it then tooke light 110
And lively spirits from that fayrest starre
Which lights the world forth from his firie carre.

Which powre retayning still, or more or lesse,
When she in fleshly seede is eft* enraced**,
Through every part she doth the same impresse, 115
According as the heavens have her graced,
And frames her house, in which she will be placed,
Fit for her selfe, adorning it with spoyle
Of th'heavenly riches which she robd erewhyle.
[* Eft, afterwards.]
[** Enraced, implanted.]

Thereof it comes that these faire soules which have
The most resemblance of that heavenly light 121
Frame to themselves most beautifull and brave
Their fleshly bowre, most fit for their delight,
And the grosse matter by a soveraine might
Temper so trim, that it may well be seene 125
A pallace fit for such a virgin queene.

So every spirit, as it is most pure,
And hath in it the more of heavenly light,
So it the fairer bodie doth procure
To habit in, and it more fairely dight* 130
With chearfull grace and amiable sight:
For of the soule the bodie forme doth take;
For soule is forme, and doth the bodie make.
[* Dight, adorn.]

Therefore, where-ever that thou doest behold
A comely corpse*, with beautie faire endewed, 135
Know this for certaine, that the same doth hold
A beauteous soule with fair conditions thewed**,
Fit to receive the seede of vertue strewed;
For all that faire is, is by nature good;
That is a sign to know the gentle blood. 140
[* Corpse, body.]
[** i.e. endowed with fair qualities.]

Yet oft it falles that many a gentle mynd
Dwels in deformed tabernacle drownd,
Either by chaunce, against the course of kynd*,
Or through unaptnesse in the substance fownd,
Which it assumed of some stubborne grownd, 145
That will not yield unto her formes direction,
But is deform'd with some foule imperfection.
[* Kynd, nature.]

And oft it falles, (ay me, the more to rew!)
That goodly Beautie, albe heavenly borne,
Is foule abusd, and that celestiall hew, 150
Which doth the world with her delight adorne,
Made but the bait of sinne, and sinners scorne,
Whilest every one doth seeke and sew to have it,
But every one doth seeke but to deprave it.

Yet nathëmore is that faire Beauties blame, 155
But theirs that do abuse it unto ill:
Nothing so good, but that through guilty shame
May be corrupt*, and wrested unto will.
Nathelesse the soule is faire and beauteous still,
However fleshes fault it filthy make; 160
For things immortall no corruption take.
[* Corrupt, corrupted.]

But ye, faire Dames! the worlds deare ornaments,
And lively images of heavens light,
Let not your beames with such disparagements
Be dimd, and your bright glorie darkned quight; l65
But mindfull still of your first countries sight,
Doe still preserve your first informed grace,
Whose shadow yet shynes in your beauteous face.

Loath that foule blot, that hellish fiërbrand,
Disloiall lust, fair Beauties foulest blame, 170
That base affections, which your eares would bland*,
Commend to you by loves abused name,
But is indeede the bondslave of defame;
Which will the garland of your glorie marre,
And quench the light of your brightshyning starre. 175
[* Bland, blandish.]

But gentle Love, that loiall is and trew,
Wil more illumine your resplendent ray,
And add more brightnesse to your goodly hew
From light of his pure fire; which, by like way
Kindled of yours, your likenesse doth display; 180
Like as two mirrours, by opposd reflection,
Doe both expresse the faces first impression.

Therefore, to make your beautie more appeare,
It you behoves to love, and forth to lay
That heavenly riches which in you ye beare, 185
That men the more admyre their fountaine may;
For else what booteth that celestiall ray,
If it in darknesse be enshrined ever,
That it of loving eyes be vewed never?

But, in your choice of loves, this well advize, 190
That likest to your selves ye them select,
The which your forms first sourse may sympathize,
And with like beauties parts be inly deckt;
For if you loosely love without respect,
It is not love, but a discordant warre, 195
Whose unlike parts amongst themselves do iarre.

For love is a celestiall harmonie
Of likely* harts composd of** starres concent,
Which ioyne together in sweete sympathie,
To work each others ioy and true content, 200
Which they have harbourd since their first descent
Out of their heavenly bowres, where they did see
And know ech other here belov'd to bee.
[* Likely, similar.]
[** Composd of, combined by.]

Then wrong it were that any other twaine
Should in Loves gentle band combyned bee, 205
But those whom Heaven did at first ordaine,
And made out of one mould the more t'agree;
For all that like the beautie which they see
Straight do not love; for Love is not so light
As straight to burne at first beholders sight. 210

But they which love indeede looke otherwise,
With pure regard and spotlesse true intent,
Drawing out of the obiect of their eyes
A more refyned form, which they present
Unto their mind, voide of all blemishment; 215
Which it reducing to her first perfection,
Beholdeth free from fleshes frayle infection.

And then conforming it unto the light
Which in it selfe it hath remaining still,
Of that first sunne, yet sparckling in his sight, 220
Thereof he fashions in his higher skill
An heavenly beautie to his fancies will;
And it embracing in his mind entyre,
The mirrour of his owne thought doth admyre.

Which seeing now so inly faire to be, 225
As outward it appeareth to the eye,
And with his spirits proportion to agree,
He thereon fixeth all his fantasie,
And fully setteth his felicitie;
Counting it fairer then it is indeede, 230
And yet indeede her fairnesse doth exeede.

For lovers eyes more sharply sighted bee
Then other mens, and in deare loves delight
See more then any other eyes can see,
Through mutuall receipt of beamës bright, 235
Which carrie privie message to the spright,
And to their eyes that inmost faire display,
As plaine as light discovers dawning day.

Therein they see, through amorous eye-glaunces,
Annies of Loves still flying too and fro, 240
Which dart at them their litle fierie launces;
Whom having wounded, back againe they go,
Carrying compassion to their lovely foe;
Who, seeing her faire eyes so sharp effect,
Cures all their sorrowes with one sweete aspect. 245

In which how many wonders doe they reede
To their conceipt, that others never see!
Now of her smiles, with which their soules they feede,
Like gods with nectar in their bankets free;
Now of her lookes, which like to cordials bee; 250
But when her words embássade* forth she sends,
Lord, how sweete musicke that unto them lends!
[* Embássade, embassy.]

Sometimes upon her forhead they behold
A thousand graces masking in delight;
Sometimes within her eye-lids they unfold 255
Ten thousand sweet belgards*, which to their sight
Doe seeme like twinckling starres in frostie night;
But on her lips, like rosy buds in May,
So many millions of chaste pleasures play.
[* Belgards, fair looks.]

All those, O Cytherea! and thousands more, 260
Thy handmaides be, which do on thee attend,
To decke thy beautie with their dainties store,
That may it more to mortall eyes commend,
And make it more admyr'd of foe and frend;
That in mans harts thou mayst thy throne enstall, 265
And spred thy lovely kingdome over all.

Then Iö, tryumph! O great Beauties Queene,
Advance the banner of thy conquest hie,
That all this world, the which thy vassels beene,
May draw to thee, and with dew fëaltie 270
Adore the powre of thy great maiestie,
Singing this hymne in honour of thy name,
Compyld by me, which thy poor liegeman am!

In lieu whereof graunt, O great soveraine!
That she whose conquering beauty doth captíve 275
My trembling hart in her eternall chaine,
One drop of grace at length will to me give,
That I her bounden thrall by her may live,
And this same life, which first fro me she reaved,
May owe to her, of whom I it receaved. 280

And you, faire Venus dearling, my dear dread!
Fresh flowre of grace, great goddesse of my life,
When your faire eyes these fearfull lines shall read,
Deigne to let fall one drop of dew reliefe,
That may recure my harts long pyning griefe, 285
And shew what wondrous powre your beauty hath,
That can restore a damned wight from death.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

A Melancholy Lover's Farewell To His Mistress

By Joanna Baillie

My Phillis, all my hopes are o'er,
And I shall see thy face no more.
Since ev'ry secret wish is vain,
I will not stay to give thee pain.
Then do not hang thy low'ring brow,
But let me bless thee ere I go:
Nor, O, despise my last adieu!
I've lov'd thee long, and lov'd thee true.

The prospects of my youth are crost,
My health is flown, my vigour lost;
My soothing friends augment my pain,
And cheerless is my native plain;
Dark o'er my spirit hangs the gloom,
And thy disdain has fix'd my doom.
But light gales ruffle o'er the sea,
Which soon shall bear me far from thee;
And wherefoe'er our course is cast,
I know will bear me to my rest.
Full deep beneath the briny wave,
Where rest the venturous and brave,
A place may be decreed for me;
And should no tempest raise the sea,
Far hence upon a foreign land,
Whose sons, perhaps, with friendly hand
The stranger's lowly tomb may raise;
A broken heart will end my days.

But Heaven's blessing on thee rest!
And may no troubles vex thy breast!
Perhaps, when pensive and alone,
You'll think of me when I am gone;
And gentle tears of pity shed,
When I am in my narrow bed.
Yet softly let thy sorrow flow!
And greater may'st thou never know!
All free from worldly care and strife,
Long may'ft thou live a happy life!
And ev'ry earthly blessing find,
Thou loveliest of womankind:
And blest thy secret wishes be!
Tho' cruel thou hast been to me.

And do'st thou then thine arm extend
And may I take thy lovely hand?
And do thine eyes thus gently look,
As tho' some kindly wish they spoke?
My gentle Phillis, tho' severe,
I do not grudge the ills I bear;
But still my greatest grief will be,
To think my love has troubled thee.
O, do not scorn this swelling grief!
The laden bosom seeks relief:
Nor yet this infant weakness blame,
For thou hast made me what I am.
But hark! the sailors call away,
No longer may I ling'ring stay;
May peace within thy mansion dwell!
O, gentle Phillis, fare thee well!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Cuchulain The Girl And The Fool

By William Butler Yeats


I am jealous of the looks men turn on you

For all men love your worth; and I must rage

At my own image in the looking-glass

That’s so unlike myself that when you praise it

It is as though you praise another, or even

Mock me with praise of my mere opposite;

And when I wake towards morn I dread myself

For the heart cries that what deception wins

My cruelty must keep; and so begone

If you have seen that image and not my worth.


All men have praised my strength but not my worth.


If you are no more strength than I am beauty

I will find out some cavern in the hills

And live among the ancient holy men,

For they at least have all men’s reverence

And have no need of cruelty to keep

What no deception won.


I have heard them say

That men have reverence for their holiness

And not their worth.


God loves us for our worth;

But what care I that long for a man’s love.


When my days that have

From cradle run to grave

From grave to cradle run instead;

When thoughts that a fool

Has wound upon a spool

Are but loose thread, are but loose thread;

When cradle and spool are past

And I mere shade at last

Coagulate of stuff

Transparent like the wind,

I think that I may find

A faithful love, a faithful love.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Beat! Beat! Drums!

By Walt Whitman


Beat! beat! drums!—Blow! bugles! blow!
Through the windows—through doors—burst like a force of ruthless men,
Into the solemn church, and scatter the congregation;
Into the school where the scholar is studying:
Leave not the bridegroom quiet—no happiness must he have now with his
Nor the peaceful farmer any peace, ploughing his field or gathering his
So fierce you whirr and pound, you drums—so shrill you bugles blow.


Beat! beat! drums!—Blow! bugles! blow!
Over the traffic of cities—over the rumble of wheels in the streets:
Are beds prepared, for sleepers at night in the houses? No sleepers must
sleep in those beds;
No bargainers' bargains by day—no brokers or speculators—Would they
Would the talkers be talking? would the singer attempt to sing?
Would the lawyer rise in the court to state his case before the judge?
Then rattle quicker, heavier, drums—you bugles wilder blow.


Beat! beat! drums!—Blow! bugles! blow!
Make no parley—stop for no expostulation;
Mind not the timid—mind not the weeper or prayer;
Mind not the old man beseeching the young man;
Let not the child's voice be heard, nor the mother's entreaties;
Make even the trestles to shake the dead, where they lie awaiting the
So strong you thump, O terrible drums—so loud you bugles blow.

Monday, May 24, 2010

A Remedy For Love

By Sir Philip Sidney

Philoclea and Pamela sweet,
By chance, in one great house did meet;
And meeting, did so join in heart,
That th' one from th' other could not part:
And who indeed (not made of stones)
Would separate such lovely ones?
The one is beautiful, and fair
As orient pearls and rubies are;
And sweet as, after gentle showers,
The breath is of some thousand flowers:
For due proportion, such an air
Circles the other, and so fair,
That it her brownness beautifies,
And doth enchant the wisest eyes.

Have you not seen, on some great day,
Two goodly horses, white and bay,
Which were so beauteous in their pride,
You knew not which to choose or ride?
Such are these two; you scarce can tell,
Which is the daintier bonny belle;
And they are such, as, by my troth,
I had been sick with love of both,
And might have sadly said, 'Good-night
Discretion and good fortune quite;'
But that young Cupid, my old master,
Presented me a sovereign plaster:
Mopsa! ev'n Mopsa! (precious pet)
Whose lips of marble, teeth of jet,
Are spells and charms of strong defence,
To conjure down concupiscence.

How oft have I been reft of sense,
By gazing on their excellence,
But meeting Mopsa in my way,
And looking on her face of clay,
Been healed, and cured, and made as sound,
As though I ne'er had had a wound?
And when in tables of my heart,
Love wrought such things as bred my smart,
Mopsa would come, with face of clout,
And in an instant wipe them out.
And when their faces made me sick,
Mopsa would come, with face of brick,
A little heated in the fire,
And break the neck of my desire.
Now from their face I turn mine eyes,
But (cruel panthers!) they surprise
Me with their breath, that incense sweet,
Which only for the gods is meet,
And jointly from them doth respire,
Like both the Indies set on fire:

Which so o'ercomes man's ravished sense,
That souls, to follow it, fly hence.
No such-like smell you if you range
To th' Stocks, or Cornhill's square Exchange;
There stood I still as any stock,
Till Mopsa, with her puddle dock,
Her compound or electuary,
Made of old ling and young canary,
Bloat-herring, cheese, and voided physic,
Being somewhat troubled with a phthisic,
Did cough, and fetch a sigh so deep,
As did her very bottom sweep:
Whereby to all she did impart,
How love lay rankling at her heart:
Which, when I smelt, desire was slain,
And they breathed forth perfumes in vain.
Their angel voice surprised me now;
But Mopsa, her Too-whit, Too-whoo,
Descending through her oboe nose,
Did that distemper soon compose.

And, therefore, O thou precious owl,
The wise Minerva's only fowl;
What, at thy shrine, shall I devise
To offer up a sacrifice?
Hang AEsculapius, and Apollo,
And Ovid, with his precious shallow.
Mopsa is love's best medicine,
True water to a lover's wine.
Nay, she's the yellow antidote,
Both bred and born to cut Love's throat:
Be but my second, and stand by,
Mopsa, and I'll them both defy;
And all else of those gallant races,
Who wear infection in their faces;
For thy face (that Medusa's shield!)
Will bring me safe out of the field.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

To A Young Lady, On Her Birthday

By Samuel Johnson

This tributary verse receive, my fair,
Warm with an ardent lover's fondest prayer.
May this returning day for ever find
Thy form more lovely, more adorn'd thy mind;
All pains, all cares, may favouring Heaven remove,
All but the sweet solicitudes of love!
May powerful Nature join with grateful Art,
To point each glance, and force it to the heart!
Oh then, when conquer'd crowds confess thy sway,
When even proud Wealth and prouder Wit obey, 10
My fair, be mindful of the mighty trust,
Alas! 'tis hard for beauty to be just!
Those sovereign charms with strictest care employ;
Nor give the generous pain, the worthless joy:
With his own form acquaint the forward fool,
Shown in the faithful glass of Ridicule;
Teach mimic Censure her own faults to find,
No more let coquettes to themselves be blind,
So shall Belinda's charms improve mankind.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Laughing Song

By William Blake

When the green woods laugh with the voice of joy,
And the dimpling stream runs laughing by;
When the air does laugh with our merry wit,
And the green hill laughs with the noise of it;

when the meadows laugh with lively green,
And the grasshopper laughs in the merry scene,
When Mary and Susan and Emily
With their sweet round mouths sing "Ha, ha he!"

When the painted birds laugh in the shade,
Where our table with cherries and nuts is spread:
Come live, and be merry, and join with me,
To sing the sweet chorus of "Ha, ha, he!"

Laughing Song is from Songs of Innocence which was first printed in 1789.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

To The Evening Star

By Mark Akenside

1 To-night retired, the queen of heaven
With young Endymion stays:
And now to Hesper it is given
A while to rule the vacant sky,
Till she shall to her lamp supply
A stream of brighter rays.

2 O Hesper, while the starry throng
With awe thy path surrounds,
Oh, listen to my suppliant song,
If haply now the vocal sphere
Can suffer thy delighted ear
To stoop to mortal sounds.

3 So may the bridegroom's genial strain
Thee still invoke to shine:
So may the bride's unmarried train
To Hymen chant their flattering vow,
Still that his lucky torch may glow
With lustre pure as thine.

4 Far other vows must I prefer
To thy indulgent power.
Alas, but now I paid my tear
On fair Olympia's virgin tomb:
And lo, from thence, in quest I roam
Of Philomela's bower.

5 Propitious send thy golden ray,
Thou purest light above:
Let no false flame seduce to stray
Where gulf or steep lie hid for harm:
But lead where music's healing charm
May soothe afflicted love.

6 To them, by many a grateful song
In happier seasons vow'd,
These lawns, Olympia's haunt, belong:
Oft by yon silver stream we walk'd,
Or fix'd, while Philomela talk'd,
Beneath yon copses stood.

7 Nor seldom, where the beechen boughs
That roofless tower invade,
We came while her enchanting Muse
The radiant moon above us held:
Till by a clamorous owl compell'd
She fled the solemn shade.

8 But hark; I hear her liquid tone.
Now, Hesper, guide my feet
Down the red marl with moss o'ergrown,
Through yon wild thicket next the plain,
Whose hawthorns choke the winding lane,
Which leads to her retreat.

9 See the green space; on either hand
Enlarged it spreads around:
See, in the midst she takes her stand,
Where one old oak his awful shade
Extends o'er half the level mead
Enclosed in woods profound.

10 Hark, through many a melting note
She now prolongs her lays:
How sweetly down the void they float!
The breeze their magic path attends,
The stars shine out, the forest bends,
The wakeful heifers gaze.

11 Whoe'er thou art whom chance may bring
To this sequester'd spot,
If then the plaintive Syren sing,
Oh! softly tread beneath her bower,
And think of heaven's disposing power,
Of man's uncertain lot.

12 Oh! think, o'er all this mortal stage,
What mournful scenes arise:
What ruin waits on kingly rage,
How often virtue dwells with woe,
How many griefs from knowledge flow,
How swiftly pleasure flies.

13 O sacred bird, let me at eve,
Thus wandering all alone,
Thy tender counsel oft receive,
Bear witness to thy pensive airs,
And pity Nature's common cares,
Till I forget my own.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

William Blake

William Blake was an English poet, painter and engraver. He is recognized as one of the most original of the Romantic poets, although his work, was largely ignored during his own lifetime.

William BlakeBlake was born in 28 Broad Street, London, England on November 28, 1757, to a middle-class family. William did not attend school, and was educated at home by his mother Catherine Wright Armitage Blake.

On August 4, 1772, William became apprenticed to engraver James Basire of Great Queen Street, for the term of seven years.

On October 8, 1779, Blake became a student at the Royal Academy in Old Somerset House, near the Strand. While the terms of his study required no payment, he was expected to supply his own materials throughout the six-year period.

In June 1780, Blake was walking towards Basire's shop in Great Queen Street, when he was swept up by a rampaging mob that attacked Newgate Prison in London during the Gordon Riots of 1780. Although Alexander Gilchrist reported that Blake was forced to accompany the crowd, some biographers argued that he accompanied it impulsively, or supported it as a revolutionary act.

William Blake married Catherine Boucher on August 18, 1782 in St. Mary's Church, Battersea. Throughout his life she would prove an invaluable aid to him, helping to print his illuminated works and maintaining his spirits throughout numerous misfortunes.

Blake's first collection of poems, Poetical Sketches, was published circa 1783. After his father's death, William and his brother Robert opened a print shop in 1784, and began working with radical publisher Joseph Johnson. In 1784 Blake also composed his unfinished manuscript An Island in the Moon.

In 1793's Visions of the Daughters of Albion, Blake condemned the cruel absurdity of enforced chastity and marriage without love and defended the right of women to complete self-fulfillment.

In 1800, Blake moved to a cottage at Felpham in Sussex to take up a job illustrating the works of William Hayley, a minor poet. It was in this cottage that Blake began Milton: a Poem. Over time, Blake came to resent his new patron, coming to believe that Hayley was uninterested in true artistry.

Blake's trouble with authority came to a head in August 1803, when he was involved in a physical altercation with a soldier called John Schofield. Blake was charged not only with assault, but also with uttering seditious and treasonable expressions against the King. Schofield claimed that Blake had exclaimed, "Damn the king. The soldiers are all slaves." Blake would be cleared in the Chichester assizes of the charges.

Blake returned to London in 1804 and began to write and illustrate Jerusalem (1804–1820), his most ambitious work. He set up an independent exhibition in his brother's haberdashery shop at 27 Broad Street in the Soho district of London. The exhibition was designed to market his own version of the Canterbury illustration (titled The Canterbury Pilgrims), along with other works. As a result he wrote his Descriptive Catalogue (1809), which contains what Anthony Blunt has called a "brilliant analysis" of Chaucer. The exhibition itself, however, was very poorly attended, selling none of the temperas or watercolours.

At the age of 65 Blake began work on illustrations for the Book of Job. Later in his life Blake began to sell a great number of his works, particularly his Bible illustrations, to Thomas Butts, a patron who saw Blake more as a friend than a man whose work held artistic merit; this was typical of the opinions held of Blake throughout his life.

The commission for Dante's Divine Comedy came to Blake in 1826 through Linnell, with the ultimate aim of producing a series of engravings. Blake's death in 1827 would cut short the enterprise, and only a handful of the watercolours were completed, with only seven of the engravings arriving at proof form. Blake's illustrations of the poem are not merely accompanying works, but rather seem to critically revise, or furnish commentary on, certain spiritual or moral aspects of the text.

On the day of his death (August 12, 1827), Blake worked relentlessly on his Dante series. Eventually, he ceased working and turned to his wife, who was in tears by his bedside. Beholding her, Blake is said to have cried, "Stay Kate! Keep just as you are – I will draw your portrait – for you have ever been an angel to me." Having completed this portrait (now lost), Blake laid down his tools and began to sing hymns and verses. At six that evening, after promising his wife that he would be with her always, Blake died.

He was buried five days after his death – on the eve of his forty-fifth wedding anniversary – at the Dissenter's burial ground in Bunhill Fields, where his parents were also interred.

While Blake had a significant role to play in the art and poetry of figures such as Rossetti, it was during the Modernist period that this work began to influence a wider set of writers and artists. His poetry also came into use by a number of British classical composers such as Benjamin Britten and Ralph Vaughan Williams, who set his works.

Blake had an enormous influence on the beat poets of the 1950s and the counterculture of the 1960s, frequently being cited by such seminal figures as beat poet Allen Ginsberg and songwriters Bob Dylan, Jim Morrison, and Van Morrison.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

An Address To The Muses

By Joanna Baillie

Ye tuneful Sifters of the lyre,
Who dreams and fantasies inspire;
Who over poesy preside,
And on a lofty hill abide
Above the ken of mortal fight,
Fain would I sing of you, could I address ye right.

Thus known, your pow'r of old was sung,
And temples with your praises rung;
And when the song of battle rose,
Or kindling wine, or lovers' woes,
The poet's spirit inly burn'd,
And still to you his upcast eyes were turn'd.

The youth all wrapp'd in vision bright,
Beheld your robes of flowing white:
And knew your forms benignly grand,
An awful, but a lovely band;
And felt your inspiration strong,
And warmly pour'd his rapid lay along.

The aged bard all heav'n-ward glow'd,
And hail'd you daughters of a god:
Tho' to his dimmer eyes were seen
Nor graceful form, nor heav'nly mien,
Full well he felt that ye were near,
And heard you in the blast that shook his hoary hair.

Ye lighten'd up the valley's bloom,
And deeper spread the forest's gloom;
The lofty hill sublimer flood,
And grander rose the mighty flood;
For then Religion lent her aid,
And o'er the mind of man your sacred empire spread.

Tho' rolling ages now are past,
And altars low, and temples wade;
Tho' rites and oracles are o'er,
And gods and heros rule no more;
Your fading honours still remain,
And still your vot'ries call, a long and motley train.

They seek you not on hill and plain,
Nor court you in the sacred sane;
Nor meet you in the mid-day dream,
Upon the bank of hallowed stream;
Yet still for inspiration sue,
And still each lifts his fervent prayer to you.

He knows ye not in woodland gloom,
But wooes ye in the shelfed room;
And seeks you in the dusty nook,
And meets you in the letter'd book;
Full well he knows you by your names,
And still with poets faith your presence claims.

The youthful poet, pen in hand,
All by the side of blotted stand,
In rev'rie deep, which none may break,
Sits rubbing of his beardless cheek;
And well his inspiration knows,
E'en by the dewy drops that trickle o'er his nose.

The tuneful sage of riper fame,
Perceives you not in heated frame;
But at conclusion of his verse,
Which still his mutt'ring lips rehearse,
Oft' waves his hand in grateful pride,
And owns the heav'nly pow'r that did his fancy guide.

O lovely sisters! is it true,
That they are all inspir'd by you?
And while they write, with magic charm'd,
And high enthusiasm warm'd,
We may not question heav'nly lays,
For well I wot, they give you all the praise.

O lovely sisters! well it shews
How wide and far your bounty flows:
Then why from me withhold your beams?
Unvisited of heav'nly dreams,
Whene'er I aim at heights sublime,
Still downward am I call'd to seek some stubborn rhyme.

No hasty lightning breaks the gloom,
Nor flashing thoughts unsought for come,
Nor fancies wake in time of need;
I labour much with little speed;
And when my studied task is done,
Too well, alas! I mark it for my own.

Yet should you never smile on me,
And rugged still my verses be;
Unpleasing to the tuneful train,
Who only prize a slowing strain;
And still the learned scorn my lays,
I'll lift my heart to you, and sing your praise.

Your varied ministry to trace,
Your honour'd names, and godlike race;
And lofty bow'rs where fountains flow,
They'll better sing who better know;
I praise ye not with Grecian lyre,
Nor will I hail ye daughters of a heathen fire.

Ye are the spirits who preside
In earth, and air, and ocean wide;
In hissing flood, and crackling fire;
In horror dread, and tumult dire;
In stilly calm, and stormy wind,
And rule the answ'ring changes in the human mind.

High on the tempest-beaten hill,
Your misty shapes ye shift at will;
The wild fantastic clouds ye form;
Your voice is in the midnight storm;
Whilst in the dark and lonely hour,
Oft' starts the boldest heart, and owns your secret pow'r.

From you, when growling storms are past,
And light'ning ceases on the wade,
And when the scene of blood is o'er,
And groans of death are heard no more,
Still holds the mind each parted form,
Like after echoing of the o'erpassed storm.

When closing glooms o'erspread the day,
And what we love has pass'd away,
Ye kindly bid each pleasing scene
Within the bosom still remain,
Like moons who doth their watches run
With the reflected brightness of the parted sun.

The shining day, and nightly shade,
The cheerful plain and gloomy glade,
The homeward flocks, and shepherds play,
The busy hamlet's closing day,
Full many a breast with pleasures swell,
Who ne'er shall have the gift of words to tell,

Oft' when the moon looks from on high,
And black around the shadows lie;
And bright the sparkling waters gleam,
And rushes rustle by the stream,
Shrill sounds, and fairy forms are known
By simple 'nighted swains, who wander late alone.

Ye kindle up the inward glow,
Ye strengthen ev'ry outward show;
Ye overleap the strongest bar,
And join what Nature sunders far:
And visit oft' in fancies wild,
The bread of learned sage, and simple child.

From him who wears a monarch's crown,
To the unletter'd artless clown,
All in some strange and lonely hour
Have felt, unsought, your secret pow'r,
And lov'd your roving fancies well,
You add but to the bard the art to tell.

Ye mighty spirits of the song,
To whom the poets' pray'rs belong,
My lowly bosom to inspire,
And kindle with your sacred fire,
Your wild obscuring heights to brave,
Is boon, alas! too great for me to crave.

But O, such sense of matter bring!
As they who feel and never sing
Wear on their hearts, it will avail
With simple words to tell my tale;
And still contented will I be,
Tho' greater inspirations never fall to me.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Song Of The Broad-Axe

By Walt Whitman


Weapon, shapely, naked, wan;
Head from the mother's bowels drawn!
Wooded flesh and metal bone! limb only one, and lip only one!
Grey-blue leaf by red-heat grown! helve produced from a little seed sown!
Resting the grass amid and upon,
To be leaned, and to lean on.

Strong shapes, and attributes of strong shapes—masculine trades, sights
and sounds;
Long varied train of an emblem, dabs of music;
Fingers of the organist skipping staccato over the keys of the great organ.


Welcome are all earth's lands, each for its kind;
Welcome are lands of pine and oak;
Welcome are lands of the lemon and fig;
Welcome are lands of gold;
Welcome are lands of wheat and maize—welcome those of the grape;
Welcome are lands of sugar and rice;
Welcome are cotton-lands—welcome those of the white potato and sweet
Welcome are mountains, flats, sands, forests, prairies;
Welcome the rich borders of rivers, table-lands, openings,
Welcome the measureless grazing-lands—welcome the teeming soil of
orchards, flax, honey, hemp;
Welcome just as much the other more hard-faced lands;
Lands rich as lands of gold, or wheat and fruit lands;
Lands of mines, lands of the manly and rugged ores;
Lands of coal, copper, lead, tin, zinc;
LANDS OF IRON! lands of the make of the axe!


The log at the wood-pile, the axe supported by it;
The sylvan hut, the vine over the doorway, the space cleared for a garden,
The irregular tapping of rain down on the leaves, after the storm is
The wailing and moaning at intervals, the thought of the sea,
The thought of ships struck in the storm, and put on their beam-ends, and
the cutting away of masts;
The sentiment of the huge timbers of old-fashioned houses and barns;
The remembered print or narrative, the voyage at a venture of men,
families, goods,
The disembarkation, the founding of a new city,
The voyage of those who sought a New England and found it—the outset
The settlements of the Arkansas, Colorado, Ottawa, Willamette,
The slow progress, the scant fare, the axe, rifle, saddle-bags;
The beauty of all adventurous and daring persons,
The beauty of wood-boys and wood-men, with their clear untrimmed faces,
The beauty of independence, departure, actions that rely on themselves,
The American contempt for statutes and ceremonies, the boundless impatience
of restraint,
The loose drift of character, the inkling through random types, the
The butcher in the slaughter-house, the hands aboard schooners and sloops,
the raftsman, the pioneer,
Lumbermen in their winter camp, daybreak in the woods, stripes of snow on
the limbs of trees, the occasional snapping,
The glad clear sound of one's own voice, the merry song, the natural life
of the woods, the strong day's work,
The blazing fire at night, the sweet taste of supper, the talk, the bed of
hemlock boughs, and the bearskin;
—The house-builder at work in cities or anywhere,
The preparatory jointing, squaring, sawing, mortising,
The hoist-up of beams, the push of them in their places, laying them
regular, Setting the studs by their tenons in the mortises,
according as they were prepared,
The blows of mallets and hammers, the attitudes of the men, their curved
Bending, standing, astride the beams, driving in pins, holding on by posts
and braces,
The hooked arm over the plate, the other arm wielding the axe,
The floor-men forcing the planks close, to be nailed,
Their postures bringing their weapons downward on the bearers,
The echoes resounding through the vacant building;
The huge store-house carried up in the city, well under way,
The six framing men, two in the middle, and two at each end, carefully
bearing on their shoulders a heavy stick for a cross-beam,
The crowded line of masons with trowels in their right hands, rapidly
laying the long side-wall, two hundred feet from front to rear,
The flexible rise and fall of backs, the continual click of the trowels
striking the bricks,
The bricks, one after another, each laid so workmanlike in its place, and
set with a knock of the trowel-handle,
The piles of materials, the mortar on the mortar-boards, and the steady
replenishing by the hod-men;
—Spar-makers in the spar-yard, the swarming row of well-grown apprentices,
The swing of their axes on the square-hewed log, shaping it toward the
shape of a mast,
The brisk short crackle of the steel driven slantingly into the pine,
The butter-coloured chips flying off in great flakes and slivers,
The limber motion of brawny young arms and hips in easy costumes;
The constructor of wharves, bridges, piers, bulk-heads, floats, stays
against the sea;
—The city fireman—the fire that suddenly bursts forth in the close-packed
The arriving engines, the hoarse shouts, the nimble stepping and daring,
The strong command through the fire-trumpets, the falling in line, the rise
and fall of the arms forcing the water,
The slender, spasmic blue-white jets—the bringing to bear of the hooks and
ladders, and their execution,
The crash and cut-away of connecting woodwork, or through floors, if the
fire smoulders under them,
The crowd with their lit faces, watching—the glare and dense shadows;
—The forger at his forge-furnace, and the user of iron after him,
The maker of the axe large and small, and the welder and temperer,
The chooser breathing his breath on the cold steel, and trying the edge
with his thumb,
The one who clean-shapes the handle and sets it firmly in the socket;
The shadowy processions of the portraits of the past users also,
The primal patient mechanics, the architects and engineers,
The far-off Assyrian edifice and Mizra edifice,
The Roman lictors preceding the consuls,
The antique European warrior with his axe in combat,
The uplifted arm, the clatter of blows on the helmeted head,
The death-howl, the limpsey tumbling body, the rush of friend and foe
The siege of revolted lieges determined for liberty,
The summons to surrender, the battering at castle-gates, the truce and
The sack of an old city in its time,
The bursting in of mercenaries and bigots tumultuously and disorderly,
Roar, flames, blood, drunkenness, madness,
Goods freely rifled from houses and temples, screams of women in the gripe
of brigands,
Craft and thievery of camp-followers, men running, old persons despairing,
The hell of war, the cruelties of creeds,
The list of all executive deeds and words, just or unjust,
The power of personality, just or unjust.


Muscle and pluck for ever!
What invigorates life invigorates death,
And the dead advance as much as the living advance,
And the future is no more uncertain than the present,
And the roughness of the earth and of man encloses as
much as the delicatesse of the earth and of man,
And nothing endures but personal qualities.

What do you think endures? Do you think the great city endures? Or a teeming manufacturing state? or a prepared constitution? or the best- built steamships? Or hotels of granite and iron? or any chefs-d'oeuvre of engineering, forts, armaments?

Away! These are not to be cherished for themselves;
They fill their hour, the dancers dance, the musicians play
for them;
The show passes, all does well enough of course,
All does very well till one flash of defiance.

The great city is that which has the greatest man or woman; If it be a few ragged huts, it is still the greatest city in the whole world.


The place where the great city stands is not the place of stretched wharves, docks, manufactures, deposits of produce, Nor the place of ceaseless salutes of new-comers, or the anchor-lifters of the departing, Nor the place of the tallest and costliest buildings, or shops selling goods from the rest of the earth, Nor the place of the best libraries and schools—nor the place where money is plentiest, Nor the place of the most numerous population.

Where the city stands with the brawniest breed of orators and bards;
Where the city stands that is beloved by these, and loves them in return,
and understands them;
Where no monuments exist to heroes but in the common words and deeds;
Where thrift is in its place, and prudence is in its place;
Where the men and women think lightly of the laws;
Where the slave ceases, and the master of slaves ceases;
Where the populace rise at once against the never-ending audacity of
elected persons;
Where fierce men and women pour forth, as the sea to the whistle of death
pours its sweeping and unripped waves;
Where outside authority enters always after the precedence of inside
Where the citizen is always the head and ideal—and President, Mayor,
Governor, and what not, are agents for pay;
Where children are taught to be laws to themselves, and to depend on
Where equanimity is illustrated in affairs;
Where speculations on the Soul are encouraged;
Where women walk in public processions in the streets, the same as the men;
Where they enter the public assembly and take places the same as the men;
Where the city of the faithfullest friends stands;
Where the city of the cleanliness of the sexes stands;
Where the city of the healthiest fathers stands;
Where the city of the best-bodied mothers stands,—
There the great city stands.


How beggarly appear arguments before a defiant deed! How the floridness of the materials of cities shrivels before a man's or woman's look!

All waits, or goes by default, till a strong being appears;
A strong being is the proof of the race, and of the ability of the
When he or she appears, materials are overawed,
The dispute on the Soul stops,
The old customs and phrases are confronted, turned back, or laid away.

What is your money-making now? What can it do now?
What is your respectability now?
What are your theology, tuition, society, traditions, statute-books, now?
Where are your jibes of being now?
Where are your cavils about the Soul now?

Was that your best? Were those your vast and solid? Riches, opinions, politics, institutions, to part obediently from the path of one man or woman! The centuries, and all authority, to be trod under the foot-soles of one man or woman!


A sterile landscape covers the ore—there is as good as the best, for all the forbidding appearance; There is the mine, there are the miners; The forge-furnace is there, the melt is accomplished; the hammersmen are at hand with their tongs and hammers; What always served and always serves is at hand.

Than this nothing has better served—it has served all:
Served the fluent-tongued and subtle-sensed Greek, and long ere the Greek;
Served in building the buildings that last longer than any;
Served the Hebrew, the Persian, the most ancient Hindostanee;
Served the mound-raiser on the Mississippi—served those whose relics
remain in Central America;
Served Albic temples in woods or on plains, with unhewn pillars, and the
Served the artificial clefts, vast, high, silent, on the snow-covered hills
of Scandinavia;
Served those who, time out of mind, made on the granite walls rough
sketches of the sun, moon, stars, ships, ocean-waves;
Served the paths of the irruptions of the Goths—served the pastoral tribes
and nomads;
Served the long long distant Kelt—served the hardy pirates of the Baltic;
Served, before any of those, the venerable and harmless men of Ethiopia;
Served the making of helms for the galleys of pleasure, and the making of
those for war;
Served all great works on land, and all great works on the sea;
For the mediaeval ages, and before the mediaeval ages;
Served not the living only, then as now, but served the dead.


I see the European headsman;
He stands masked, clothed in red, with huge legs and strong naked arms,
And leans on a ponderous axe.

Whom have you slaughtered lately, European headsman?
Whose is that blood upon you, so wet and sticky?

I see the clear sunsets of the martyrs;
I see from the scaffolds the descending ghosts,
Ghosts of dead lords, uncrowned ladies, impeached ministers, rejected
Rivals, traitors, poisoners, disgraced chieftains, and the rest.

I see those who in any land have died for the good cause;
The seed is spare, nevertheless the crop shall never run out;
(Mind you, O foreign kings, O priests, the crop shall never run out.)

I see the blood washed entirely away from the axe;
Both blade and helve are clean;
They spirt no more the blood of European nobles—they clasp no more the
necks of queens.

I see the headsman withdraw and become useless;
I see the scaffold untrodden and mouldy—I see no longer any axe upon it;
I see the mighty and friendly emblem of the power of my own race—the
newest, largest race.


America! I do not vaunt my love for you;
I have what I have.

The axe leaps!
The solid forest gives fluid utterances;
They tumble forth, they rise and form,
Hut, tent, landing, survey,
Flail, plough, pick, crowbar, spade,
Shingle, rail, prop, wainscot, jamb, lath, panel, gable,
Citadel, ceiling, saloon, academy, organ, exhibition house, library,
Cornice, trellis, pilaster, balcony, window, shutter, turret, porch,
Hoe, rake, pitchfork, pencil, waggon, staff, saw, jack-plane, mallet,
wedge, rounce,
Chair, tub, hoop, table, wicket, vane, sash, floor,
Work-box, chest, stringed instrument, boat, frame, and what not,
Capitols of States, and capitol of the nation of States,
Long stately rows in avenues, hospitals for orphans, or for the poor or
Manhattan steamboats and clippers, taking the measure of all seas.

The shapes arise! Shapes of the using of axes anyhow, and the users, and all that neighbours them, Cutters-down of wood, and haulers of it to the Penobscot or Kennebec, Dwellers in cabins among the Californian mountains, or by the little lakes, or on the Columbia, Dwellers south on the banks of the Gila or Rio Grande—friendly gatherings, the characters and fun, Dwellers up north in Minnesota and by the Yellowstone river—dwellers on coasts and off coasts, Seal-fishers, whalers, arctic seamen breaking passages through the ice.

The shapes arise!
Shapes of factories, arsenals, foundries, markets;
Shapes of the two-threaded tracks of railroads;
Shapes of the sleepers of bridges, vast frameworks, girders, arches;
Shapes of the fleets of barges, tows, lake craft, river craft.

The shapes arise! Shipyards and dry-docks along the Eastern and Western Seas, and in many a bay and by-place, The live-oak kelsons, the pine-planks, the spars, the hackmatack-roots for knees, The ships themselves on their ways, the tiers of scaffolds, the workmen busy outside and inside, The tools lying around, the great auger and little auger, the adze, bolt, line, square, gouge, and bead-plane.


The shapes arise! The shape measured, sawed, jacked, joined, stained, The coffin-shape for the dead to lie within in his shroud; The shape got out in posts, in the bedstead posts, in the posts of the bride's bed; The shape of the little trough, the shape of the rockers beneath, the shape of the babe's cradle; The shape of the floor-planks, the floor-planks for dancers' feet; The shape of the planks of the family home, the home of the friendly parents and children, The shape of the roof of the home of the happy young man and woman, the roof over the well-married young man and woman, The roof over the supper joyously cooked by the chaste wife, and joyously eaten by the chaste husband, content after his day's work.

The shapes arise!
The shape of the prisoner's place in the court-room, and of him or her
seated in the place;
The shape of the liquor-bar leaned against by the young rum-drinker and the
old rum-drinker;
The shape of the shamed and angry stairs, trod, by sneaking footsteps;
The shape of the sly settee, and the adulterous unwholesome couple;
The shape of the gambling-board with its devilish winnings and losings;
The shape of the step-ladder for the convicted and sentenced murderer, the
murderer with haggard face and pinioned arms,
The sheriff at hand with his deputies, the silent and white-lipped crowd,
the sickening dangling of the rope.

The shapes arise!
Shapes of doors giving many exits and entrances;
The door passing the dissevered friend, flushed and in haste;
The door that admits good news and bad news;
The door whence the son left home, confident and puffed up;
The door he entered again from a long and scandalous absence, diseased,
broken down, without innocence, without means.


Her shape arises,
She less guarded than ever, yet more guarded than ever;
The gross and soiled she moves among do not make her gross and soiled;
She knows the thoughts as she passes—nothing is concealed from her;
She is none the less considerate or friendly therefor;
She is the best beloved—it is without exception—she has no reason to
fear, and she does not fear;
Oaths, quarrels, hiccupped songs, smutty expressions, are idle to her as
she passes;
She is silent—she is possessed of herself—they do not offend her;
She receives them as the laws of nature receive them—she is strong,
She too is a law of nature—there is no law stronger than she is.


The main shapes arise!
Shapes of Democracy, total result of centuries;
Shapes, ever projecting other shapes;
Shapes of a hundred Free States, begetting another hundred;
Shapes of turbulent manly cities;
Shapes of the women fit for these States,
Shapes of the friends and home-givers of the whole earth,
Shapes bracing the earth, and braced with the whole earth.