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.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

An Hymne In Honour Of Love

By Edmund Spenser

Love, that long since hast to thy mighty powre
Perforce subdude my poor captived hart,
And raging now therein with restlesse stowre*,
Doest tyrannize in everie weaker part,
Faine would I seeke to ease my bitter smart 5
By any service I might do to thee,
Or ought that else might to thee pleasing bee.
[* Stowre, commotion.]
And now t'asswage the force of this new flame,
And make thee more propitious in my need,
I meane to sing the praises of thy name, 10
And thy victorious conquests to areed*,
By which thou madest many harts to bleed
Of mighty victors, with wide wounds embrewed,
And by thy cruell darts to thee subdewed.
[* Areed, set forth.]
Onely I fear my wits, enfeebled late 15
Through the sharp sorrowes which thou hast me bred,
Should faint, and words should faile me to relate
The wondrous triumphs of thy great god-hed:
But, if thou wouldst vouchsafe to overspred
Me with the shadow of thy gentle wing, 20
I should enabled be thy actes to sing.
Come, then, O come, thou mightie God of Love!
Out of thy silver bowres and secret blisse,
Where thou dost sit in Venus lap above,
Bathing thy wings in her ambrosial kisse, 25
That sweeter farre than any nectar is,
Come softly, and my feeble breast inspire
With gentle furie, kindled of thy fire.
And ye, sweet Muses! which have often proved
The piercing points of his avengefull darts, 30
And ye, fair Nimphs! which oftentimes have loved
The cruel worker of your kindly smarts,
Prepare yourselves, and open wide your harts
For to receive the triumph of your glorie,
That made you merie oft when ye were sorrie. 35
And ye, faire blossoms of youths wanton breed!
Which in the conquests of your beautie bost,
Wherewith your lovers feeble eyes you feed,
But sterve their harts, that needeth nourture most,
Prepare your selves to march amongst his host, 40
And all the way this sacred hymne do sing,
Made in the honor of your soveraigne king.
Great God of Might, that reignest in the mynd,
And all the bodie to thy hest doest frame,
Victor of gods, subduer of mankynd, 45
That doest the lions and fell tigers tame,
Making their cruell rage thy scornfull game,
And in their roring taking great delight,
Who can expresse the glorie of thy might?
Or who alive can perfectly declare 50
The wondrous cradle of thine infancie,
When thy great mother Venus first thee bare,
Begot of Plenty and of Penurie,
Though elder then thine own nativitie,
And yet a chyld, renewing still thy yeares, 55
And yet the eldest of the heavenly peares?
For ere this worlds still moving mightie masse
Out of great Chaos ugly prison crept,
In which his goodly face long hidden was
From heavens view, and in deep darknesse kept, 60
Love, that had now long time securely slept
In Venus lap, unarmed then and naked,
Gan reare his head, by Clotho being waked:
And taking to him wings of his own heat,
Kindled at first from heavens life-giving fyre, 65
He gan to move out of his idle seat;
Weakly at first, but after with desyre
Lifted aloft, he gan to mount up hyre*,
And, like fresh eagle, made his hardy flight
Thro all that great wide wast, yet wanting light. 70
[* Hyre, higher.]
Yet wanting light to guide his wandring way,
His own faire mother, for all creatures sake,
Did lend him light from her owne goodly ray;
Then through the world his way he gan to take,
The world, that was not till he did it make, 75
Whose sundrie parts he from themselves did sever.
The which before had lyen confused ever.
The earth, the ayre, the water, and the fyre,
Then gan to raunge themselves in huge array,
And with contráry forces to conspyre 80
Each against other by all meanes they may,
Threatning their owne confusion and decay:
Ayre hated earth, and water hated fyre,
Till Love relented their rebellious yre.
He then them tooke, and, tempering goodly well 85
Their contrary dislikes with loved meanes,
Did place them all in order, and compell
To keepe themselves within their sundrie raines*,
Together linkt with adamantine chaines;
Yet so as that in every living wight 90
They mix themselves, and shew their kindly might.
[* Raines, kingdoms.]
So ever since they firmely have remained,
And duly well observed his beheast;
Through which now all these things that are contained
Within this goodly cope, both most and least, 95
Their being have, and daily are increast
Through secret sparks of his infused fyre,
Which in the barraine cold he doth inspyre.
Thereby they all do live, and moved are
To multiply the likenesse of their kynd, 100
Whilest they seeke onely, without further care,
To quench the flame which they in burning fynd;
But man, that breathes a more immortall mynd,
Not for lusts sake, but for eternitie,
Seekes to enlarge his lasting progenie. 105
For having yet in his deducted spright
Some sparks remaining of that heavenly fyre,
He is enlumind with that goodly light,
Unto like goodly semblant to aspyre;
Therefore in choice of love he doth desyre 110
That seemes on earth most heavenly to embrace,
That same is Beautie, borne of heavenly race.
For sure, of all that in this mortall frame
Contained is, nought more divine doth seeme,
Or that resembleth more th'immortall flame 115
Of heavenly light, than Beauties glorious beam.
What wonder then, if with such rage extreme
Frail men, whose eyes seek heavenly things to see,
At sight thereof so much enravisht bee?
Which well perceiving, that imperious boy 120
Doth therewith tip his sharp empoisned darts,
Which glancing thro the eyes with* countenance coy
Kest not till they have pierst the trembling harts,
And kindled flame in all their inner parts,
Which suckes the blood, and drinketh up the lyfe, 125
Of carefull wretches with consuming griefe.
[* Qu. from? WARTON.]
Thenceforth they playne, and make full piteous mone
Unto the author of their balefull bane:
The daies they waste, the nights they grieve and grone,
Their lives they loath, and heavens light disdaine; 130
No light but that whose lampe doth yet remaine
Fresh burning in the image of their eye,
They deigne to see, and seeing it still dye.
The whylst thou, tyrant Love, doest laugh and scorne
At their complaints, making their paine thy play; 135
Whylest they lye languishing like thrals forlorne,
The whyles thou doest triumph in their decay;
And otherwhyles, their dying to delay,
Thou doest emmarble the proud hart of her
Whose love before their life they doe prefer. 140
So hast thou often done (ay me the more!)
To me thy vassall, whose yet bleeding hart
With thousand wounds thou mangled hast so sore,
That whole remaines scarse any little part;
Yet to augment the anguish of my smart, 145
Thou hast enfrosen her disdainefull brest,
That no one drop of pitie there doth rest.
Why then do I this honor unto thee,
Thus to ennoble thy victorious name,
Sith thou doest shew no favour unto mee, 150
Ne once move ruth in that rebellious dame,
Somewhat to slacke the rigour of my flame?
Certes small glory doest thou winne hereby,
To let her live thus free, and me to dy.
But if thou be indeede, as men thee call, 155
The worlds great parent, the most kind preserver
Of living wights, the soveraine lord of all,
How falles it then that with thy furious fervour
Thou doest afflict as well the not-deserver,
As him that doeth thy lovely heasts despize, 160
And on thy subiects most doth tyrannize?
Yet herein eke thy glory seemeth more,
By so hard handling those which best thee serve,
That, ere thou doest them unto grace restore,
Thou mayest well trie if they will ever swerve, 165
And mayest them make it better to deserve,
And, having got it, may it more esteeme;
For things hard gotten men more dearely deeme.
So hard those heavenly beauties be enfyred,
As things divine least passions doe impresse; 170
The more of stedfast mynds to be admyred,
The more they stayed be on stedfastnesse;
But baseborne minds such lamps regard the lesse,
Which at first blowing take not hastie fyre;
Such fancies feele no love, but loose desyre. 175
For Love is lord of truth and loialtie,
Lifting himself out of the lowly dust
On golden plumes up to the purest skie,
Above the reach of loathly sinfull lust,
Whose base affect*, through cowardly distrust 180
Of his weake wings, dare not to heaven fly,
But like a moldwarpe** in the earth doth ly.
[* Affect, affection, passion.]
[** Moldwarpe, mole.]
His dunghill thoughts, which do themselves enure
To dirtie drosse, no higher dare aspyre;
Ne can his feeble earthly eyes endure 185
The flaming light of that celestiall fyre
Which kindleth love in generous desyre,
And makes him mount above the native might
Of heavie earth, up to the heavens hight.
Such is the powre of that sweet passion, 190
That it all sordid basenesse doth expell,
And the refyned mynd doth newly fashion
Unto a fairer forme, which now doth dwell
In his high thought, that would it selfe excell;
Which he beholding still with constant sight, 195
Admires the mirrour of so heavenly light.
Whose image printing in his deepest wit,
He thereon feeds his hungrie fantasy,
Still full, yet never satisfyde with it;
Like Tantale, that in store doth sterved ly, 200
So doth he pine in most satiety;
For nought may quench his infinite desyre,
Once kindled through that first conceived fyre.
Thereon his mynd affixed wholly is,
Ne thinks on ought but how it to attaine; 205
His care, his ioy, his hope, is all on this,
That seemes in it all blisses to containe,
In sight whereof all other blisse seemes vaine:
Thrice happie man, might he the same possesse,
He faines himselfe, and doth his fortune blesse. 210
And though he do not win his wish to end,
Yet thus farre happie he himselfe doth weene,
That heavens such happie grace did to him lend
As thing on earth so heavenly to have seene,
His harts enshrined saint, his heavens queene, 215
Fairer then fairest in his fayning eye,
Whose sole aspect he counts felicitye.
Then forth he casts in his unquiet thought,
What he may do her favour to obtaine;
What brave exploit, what perill hardly wrought, 220
What puissant conquest, what adventurous paine,
May please her best, and grace unto him gaine;
He dreads no danger, nor misfortune feares,
His faith, his fortune, in his breast he beares.
Thou art his god, thou art his mightie guyde, 225
Thou, being blind, letst him not see his feares,
But carriest him to that which he had eyde,
Through seas, through flames, through thousand swords and speares; *
Ne ought so strong that may his force withstand,
With which thou armest his resistlesse hand. 230
[* The fifth verse of this stanza appears to have dropped out. C.]
Witnesse Leander in the Euxine waves,
And stout Aeneas in the Troiane fyre,
Achilles preassing through the Phrygian glaives*,
And Orpheus, daring to provoke the yre
Of damned fiends, to get his love retyre; 235
For both through heaven and hell thou makest way,
To win them worship which to thee obay.
[* Glaives, swords.]
And if by all these perils and these paynes
He may but purchase lyking in her eye,
What heavens of ioy then to himselfe he faynes! 240
Eftsoones he wypes quite out of memory
Whatever ill before he did aby*:
Had it beene death, yet would he die againe,
To live thus happie as her grace to gaine.
[* Aby, abide.]
Yet when he hath found favour to his will, 245
He nathëmore can so contented rest,
But forceth further on, and striveth still
T'approch more neare, till in her inmost brest
He may embosomd bee and loved best;
And yet not best, but to be lov'd alone; 250
For love cannot endure a paragone*.
[* Paragone, competitor.]
The fear whereof, O how doth it torment
His troubled mynd with more then hellish paine!
And to his fayning fansie represent
Sights never seene, and thousand shadowes vaine, 255
To breake his sleepe and waste his ydle braine:
Thou that hast never lov'd canst not beleeve
Least part of th'evils which poore lovers greeve.
The gnawing envie, the hart-fretting feare,
The vaine surmizes, the distrustfull showes, 260
The false reports that flying tales doe beare,
The doubts, the daungers, the delayes, the woes,
The fayned friends, the unassured foes,
With thousands more then any tongue can tell,
Doe make a lovers life a wretches hell. 265
Yet is there one more cursed then they all,
That cancker-worme, that monster, Gelosie,
Which eates the heart and feedes upon the gall,
Turning all Loves delight to miserie,
Through feare of losing his felicitie. 270
Ah, gods! that ever ye that monster placed
In gentle Love, that all his ioyes defaced!
By these, O Love! thou doest thy entrance make
Unto thy heaven, and doest the more endeere
Thy pleasures unto those which them partake, 275
As after stormes, when clouds begin to cleare,
The sunne more bright and glorious doth appeare;
So thou thy folke, through paines of Purgatorie,
Dost beare unto thy blisse, and heavens glorie.
There thou them placest in a paradize 280
Of all delight and ioyous happy rest,
Where they doe feede on nectar heavenly-wize,
With Hercules and Hebe, and the rest
Of Venus dearlings, through her bountie blest;
And lie like gods in yvory beds arayd, 285
With rose and lillies over them displayd.
There with thy daughter Pleasure they doe play
Their hurtlesse sports, without rebuke or blame,
And in her snowy bosome boldly lay
Their quiet heads, devoyd of guilty shame, 290
After full ioyance of their gentle game;
Then her they crowne their goddesse and their queene,
And decke with floures thy altars well beseene.
Ay me! deare Lord, that ever I might hope,
For all the paines and woes that I endure, 295
To come at length unto the wished scope
Of my desire, or might myselfe assure
That happie port for ever to recure*!
Then would I thinke these paines no paines at all,
And all my woes to be but penance small. 300
[* Recure, recover, gain.]
Then would I sing of thine immortal praise
An heavenly hymne such as the angels sing,
And thy triumphant name then would I raise
Bove all the gods, thee only honoring;
My guide, my god, my victor, and my king: 305
Till then, drad Lord! vouchsafe to take of me
This simple song, thus fram'd in praise of thee.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

A Proud Lover's Farewell To His Mistress

By Joanna Baillie

Farewell thou haughty, cruel fair!
Upon thy brow no longer wear
That sombre look of cold disdain,
Thou ne'er shalt see my face again.
Now ev'ry silly wish is o'er,
And fears and doubtings are no more.

All cruel as thou art to me,
Long has my heart been fix'd on thee;
On thee I've mus'd the live-long day,
And thought the weary night away;
I've trac'd thy footsteps o'er the green,
And shar'd thy rambles oft unseen;
I've linger'd near thee night and day,
When thou hast thought me far away;
I've watch'd the turning of thy face,
And fondly mark'd thy moving grace;
And wept thy rising smiles to see;
I've been a fool for love of thee.
Yet do not think I stay the while
Thy weakly pity to beguile:
Let forced favour fruitless prove!
The pity curst, that brings not love!
No woman e'er shall give me pain,
Or ever break my rest again:
Nor aught that comes of woman kind
Have pow'r again to move my mind.
Far on a foreign shore I'll seek
Some lonely island, bare and bleak;
I'll seek some wild and rugged cell,
And with untamed creatures dwell.
To hear their cries is now my choice,
Far more than man's deceitful voice:
To listen to the howling wind,
Than luring tongue of womankind.
They look not beautiful and good,
But ronghsome seem as they are rude.

O Phillis! thou hast wreck'd a heart,
Which proudly bears, but feels the smart.
Adieu! adieu! should'st thou e'er prove
The pang of ill-requited love,
Thou'lt know what I have borne for thee,
And then thou wilt remember me.

From Baillie’s first publication "Poems: Wherein it is Attempted to Describe Certain Views of Nature and of Rustic Manners"

Monday, April 5, 2010

Shakespeare's Sonnets - Sonnet 17

By William Shakespeare

Sonnet 17

Who will believe my verse in time to come,
If it were fill'd with your most high deserts?
Though yet heaven knows it is but as a tomb
Which hides your life, and shows not half your parts.
If I could write the beauty of your eyes,
And in fresh numbers number all your graces,
The age to come would say 'This poet lies;
Such heavenly touches ne'er touch'd earthly faces.'
So should my papers, yellow'd with their age,
Be scorn'd, like old men of less truth than tongue,
And your true rights be term'd a poet's rage
And stretched metre of an antique song:
But were some child of yours alive that time,
You should live twice,—in it, and in my rhyme.

Shakespeare's Sonnets - Sonnet 16

By William Shakespeare

Sonnet 16

But wherefore do not you a mightier way
Make war upon this bloody tyrant, Time?
And fortify your self in your decay
With means more blessed than my barren rhyme?
Now stand you on the top of happy hours,
And many maiden gardens, yet unset,
With virtuous wish would bear you living flowers,
Much liker than your painted counterfeit:
So should the lines of life that life repair,
Which this, Time's pencil, or my pupil pen,
Neither in inward worth nor outward fair,
Can make you live your self in eyes of men.
To give away yourself, keeps yourself still,
And you must live, drawn by your own sweet skill.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Shakespeare's Sonnets - Sonnet 15

By William Shakespeare

Sonnet 15

When I consider every thing that grows
Holds in perfection but a little moment,
That this huge stage presenteth nought but shows
Whereon the stars in secret influence comment;
When I perceive that men as plants increase,
Cheered and checked even by the self-same sky,
Vaunt in their youthful sap, at height decrease,
And wear their brave state out of memory;
Then the conceit of this inconstant stay
Sets you most rich in youth before my sight,
Where wasteful Time debateth with decay
To change your day of youth to sullied night,
And all in war with Time for love of you,
As he takes from you, I engraft you new.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Shakespeare's Sonnets - Sonnet 14

By William Shakespeare

Sonnet 14

Not from the stars do I my judgement pluck;
And yet methinks I have astronomy,
But not to tell of good or evil luck,
Of plagues, of dearths, or seasons' quality;
Nor can I fortune to brief minutes tell,
Pointing to each his thunder, rain and wind,
Or say with princes if it shall go well
By oft predict that I in heaven find:
But from thine eyes my knowledge I derive,
And constant stars in them I read such art
As 'Truth and beauty shall together thrive,
If from thyself, to store thou wouldst convert';
Or else of thee this I prognosticate:
'Thy end is truth's and beauty's doom and date.'