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The 1927 Wimbledon finals were almost put off because of the rain, which threatened every moment.

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When The Rain Stops

when the rain stops
life becomes more miserable

for those who are stranded
with you and with whom you

had already established the
art of conversation

soon shall leave you and you
are left with the memory of the

rain which had given you company
and now it stops and you are

stricken with grief and this sense
of being alone again

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Put Off!

Put off!
Concerning your conduct;
But, work with your hands in proper things and live.
Put off!
Putting away lying;
And, learn to speak the truth to your neighbour.
Put off!
A big change! !
Like snow and heavy rain;
Of your story,
Of her story,
Of his story,
Of my story,
But, work with your hands in proper things and live.

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Never Put Off Until Tomorrow

Never put off until tomorrow,
what you can do today.
For when it comes tomorrow,
you will have forgotten
what it was you wanted to say.
Never leave it until tomorrow
or your chance would have gone away.
By leaving it until tomorrow
something could be out of your grasp,
The chance you had for happiness
might have up and flown away.
So never, put off until tomorrow,
what you can do today.

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Put Off Your Old Self

As New Creatures pulled out of darkness, we've been given new sight,
But, many professing Christians continue to live as if in the night.

We have been saved to be a blessing and to give the lost real hope,
And to fulfill our awesome task Christ's likeness must be our cloak.

Believers are not to be conformed to a world that will be condemned,
This also includes avoiding any appearances of evil my dear friend.

Avoiding the appearance of evil in this day is not a new revelation,
For living above this world's standards is The Lord's expectation.

But once you submit to The Lord and give His Word full adherence,
You will be lead by The Holy Spirit, and will avoid evil appearance.

Paul told us 'to put off your old self' with the world's filthiness,
And be clothed in garments that are truly The Lord's Righteousness.

Our appearance as a Christian does more then you can imagine or see,
A Godly appearance draws people to God who presently do not believe.

A choice to be different is a sign that you have some Hope to share,
For who would go to an unbeliever to get Truth in time of despair?

You may fool your family and your friends, but this you can be sure,
The Lord, whom you can not deceive, will one day knock at your door.

Finally Christ's illustration of the Wedding Banquet is quite clear,
Ignore Christ's way for your own and you may have something to fear.

(Copyright © 08/2002)

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A prayer for rain

We prayed rain God to shower freely
We gladly invited and extended willingly
It was now his turn to come down heavily
We wanted to enjoy the rain drops merrily

The earth had dried up and developed big cracks
The surface looked barren with loosing some tracks
It looked as if some had deserted and left behind
No sign of life over vast lands and nothing to find

We had witnessed long dry seasons every year
There used to be rain fall shortage leading to fear
Cattle had no grass to graze with no means to quench the thrust
The good rainfall was desired and needed almost

As the luck would have it, it rained alarmingly
The dark clouds were thundering and rained smilingly
For hours together there will be constant down pour
We were confined indoors and feeling very bore

For few days it was enjoyable and looked pleasant
We may notice free movement of different insects and ants
They had their own needs and wants
We were happy to receive it with thanks

Soon we were to be put in lot of troubles
It was heavily flooding and creating problems
There was no respite and stayed as long spell
It was impacted all over with miseries only to tell

The life is completely paralyzed with complete stand off
No movement of traffic and everything at grinding halt
We had prayed for reasonably good fall
It has resulted in to many deaths by collapsing the walls

We wish to pray again for immediate halt
It is appeal from heart to stop the assault
We want it to stop and come to our rescue
We have received the rain which was due

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Were Almost There

No matter how hard
The task may seem
Dont give up our plans
Dont give up our dreams
No broken bridges
Can turn us around
Cause what were searchin for
Will soon be found
Refrain
Cause were almost there
Just one more step
(cause were almost there)
Just one more step
(just one more step)
Dont give up
cause were almost all almost there
(cause were almost there)
(look at the lovers)
Look at the lonely lovers
That didnt make it
Lifes long hard climb
(lifes long hard climb)
They just couldnt take it
(they just couldnt take it)
Dont let it happen to me and you
Hold on together, darlin
Well make it through
Darlin, keep on reachin out for me
Keep on reachin, do it for me
Do it for me, cause baby
Refrain
(cause were almost there)
(were almost there)
(cause were almost there)
Were so close
I can taste it
A life so sweet
Cant afford to waste it
(cant afford to waste it)
Need to feel your hand
Slippin from mine?
Just hold on tighter now, darlin
Keep on tryin
Refrain
Baby, do it for me, do it do it baby
(cause were almost there)
Just one more step
(were almost there)
Dont give up
(cause were almost there)
Just one more step
Baby baby, dont give up
(cause were almost there)
Keep on, keep on
(were almost there)
Just one more step
(cause were almost there)
Cause were almost there
(instrumental)
Juste one more step
Cause were almost there
Weve come to far
To turn around
Ooh!!
Keep on reachin
For higher ground
Weve had our ups and weve had our downs
Let nothin in the world darlin
Turn us around
Cause were almost there
Were almost there
Were almost there
Everything were lookin for
Were almost there
Keep on reachin out for me
Cause were almost there darlin
Were almost there
Were almost there darlin
Were almost there
Were almost there
Ah were almost there

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Sad Dad In Jail & Soldier In The Rain

SOLDIER IN THE RAIN

I'm just a soldier who stands in the rain
My memories of home are what keep me sane.
Back home is a land of milk and honey
Ruled by lust and love of money.


But, what can I say, when I serve her true
For I volunteered to see this war through.
Now, that I'm here, it's hard to believe
We're just the victims of those who deceive.

As darkness falls on the rice fields of Nam
Scared men with rifles walk the shadows of the calm.
It's thousands of miles to the steps of my church
With its stained glass, steeples and lost souls who search.

Off in the distance I see an arc light,
Bombs being dropped on children at night.
I've seen that evil they call the 'yellow rain'
And how life withers when it's sprayed by a plane.

All of my buddies have been taken away
No more touch football will they ever play.
Zipped in their body bags for the long trip home
Are some of the bravest, I've ever known.

War is a hell, devised by man
There's death in the sea, the sky and the land.
Lord, I can't help but wish I were home
Back with my love, whom I hope is alone?

SAD DAD IN JAIL

They put me in prison for the deed I've done
I killed the drunk driver who crippled you, son.
Your mother, my wife, she died in the wreck
That's the reason I broke that man's neck.

His dad was a rich man, who pulled lots of strings
So well connected he could do many things.
I live in this hellhole with all sorts of men
I'm sure glad most like me and call me their friend.

The food here is so awful, I've lost many pounds
I'd rather feast on the vittles the guards toss the hounds.
At night we play cards and you don't dare cheat
For if you get caught, you'll be stomped on by feet.

Most inmates fashion some sort of knife
To help out their odds in a fight for their life
I took me a padlock and snapped it on a chain
Then hid it in my pant-leg to keep from being slain.

I get to see you on our family day
The worst part about it, is when you cry as you play.
Many times you question, 'Dad, when can you leave'
As the tears from your eyes dropp to my sleeve.

Our visit is now over as they wheel you away
I whisper, 'I love you' and you see what I say.
It's time to go back to my one-room, shared cell
And try to write a song about a sad dad in jail.

By God's Poet Tom Zart
Most Published Poet
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Tom Zart's 467 Poems Are Free To Share To Teach Or Show Support!
Tom Zart www.internetvoicesradio.com/t_zart/
http: //www.veteranstodayforum.com/viewforum.php? f=38

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The Rain that Came to Stay

‘How much longer this drought, ' he said,
The creeks are running dry,
There's not a lot in the reservoir
And not a cloud in the sky,
The farmers, shooting the cattle that
Have nothing out there to drink,
How much longer this drought, ' he cried
In the pub at Innaminck!

The soil had turned to a fine bulldust,
The drought had cracked the clay,
There wasn't a green shoot anywhere
To be seen by the light of day,
The crops had failed, were ploughed back in
In hopes that the rain would come,
But the skies were clear for the rest of the year
From there to Jerusalem!

A tinker called in a beat-up car
And staggered in with his bag,
‘I'm Mickey Malone from County Down
With a thirst that could choke a shag! '
The barman served him a schooner, with
One gulp, he put it away,
But emptied his empty pockets when
The barman asked him to pay.

The tinker started his blarney then,
‘I'll sharpen your knives for free!
Just give me another schooner, chum
And we'll see what we will see!
I'll cut your keys, and I'll wash a dish,
Or I'll give you a hundred pegs.'
The barman reached and he grabbed his throat,
And lifted him off his legs!

‘You'll have to do better than that, my man,
Don't drink my beer for free!
I'm taking the wheels of your beat-up car
‘Til you play it straight with me! '
‘Hang on, hang on, just what do you want,
Whatever will pay my due! '
‘We could do with a shower of rain, my man,
But that's all I'd want from you! '

The tinker nodded, ‘No sooner said!
I'll make it tomorrow noon,
You'll have to give me a room to rent
And I'll whip it up in the gloom.'
The barman sneered, ‘You're having me on,
No way can you make it rain! '
‘You'll see, tomorrow, ' the tinker said,
‘Though you might think I'm insane! '

The barman locked him and his bag in a room,
And took a wheel off his car,
He knew if the tinker tried to escape
He wouldn't be going far,
But come the dawn, was a distant cloud
Spread out, and up from the south,
It tumbled and turned in the atmosphere
And looked like a dragon's mouth.

At noon the cloud was over their heads,
All black, and threatening rain,
A whirly blew up a dust storm there
And swirled at each window pane,
They locked the door of the pub up tight
And waited, tense as a rag,
The rain came down, ‘Aha, ' he said,
And the tinker patted his bag!

The patter of rain was heard on the roof,
The gutters began to fill,
The windows washed of their dust and silt
Right down to the window-sill,
The dust was settled, the ground was wet,
The cattle lowed in the field,
And everyone danced in the yard out there
The tide of their fortunes sealed.

The rain grew heavier by the hour,
The creeks had started to flow,
And even the reservoir burst its banks,
With nowhere else to go,
The water flooded across the plain
They waded up to their knees,
‘Enough, enough! ' But Malone replied:
‘Begorra, you're hard to please! '

It rained all night, and the following day,
It rained and rained for a week,
The pub was flooded from wall to wall
The water burst from the creek,
‘You've got to stop it, ' the barman cried,
But the tinker stood and frowned,
‘If the water rises much higher than this,
I think that we'll all be drowned! '

‘You said you wanted the rain, all right,
I gave it, now for my pay,
I can't go on in these tattered clothes
And my car's a give-away.
I'll need the van that you've parked out front
And a hundred cans of beer,
Not much to ask for your water, chum,
At the drought time of the year! '

The barman collared and kicked him out
With his bag and all beside,
The tinker lay in the water there,
His bag had sunk in the tide,
‘Will you stop it now, ' the barman said,
‘Or you'll wish you'd never been born! '
I can't! ' The tinker sat and he cried,
‘You've drowned my Leprechaun! '

It rains and rains at Innaminck,
It rains both day and night,
The pub sank under the water there
In a lake that's ten miles wide,
The farmers had to desert the land
To leave their sunken homes,
But put out a ‘Wanted', Nation wide
For a tinker, called Malone!

David Lewis Paget

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Patrick White

The Rain Tonight

The rain tonight
a gentle carillon of afterthought
pensively lingering like eyes in the window.
The town unusually quiet
even for two a.m.
Asphalt with the albido of a wet rat snake
or a black bull
and blades of garish light
thrust through its back
like the swords of the streetlamp matadors
poised over its haemorrhaging
like solar daffodils
about to deliver the coup de grace
to the new moon.
The farmlands and the pot patches flourish.
Everything's wearing the mirror of everything else
like skin
and the leaves
pour their hearts out
like spouts without pitchers.
Black beads of rain
falling from the rim of my gangster hat
I might look like a gun
but inside
I feel like a boy
who just shot a bird with a slingshot.
All my life I've carried the bloodguilt
of someone else's crime
without knowing
what was done to whom and why.
It's as if I have always lived
through six decades of this strange life
like a child
trying to make up
for something I didn't do.
If my mother was the Virgin Mary
my father was
forty days alone in the wilderness
of a Vancouver Island logging camp
with the devil.
I never used to think
the sins of the father
were visited upon the sons
because it seems so savagely unfair
to damage their innocence by mere association.
Stalin McCarthy and Paul Pott come to mind
and if this is the work of God
then he's got spiritual rabies
and we've all been bit.
And I've wondered as well
if the sins of the sons are visited upon the fathers
just as cruelly.
For what was done to my mother?
For what was done to me
and my brother and sisters?
For something I did in a previous life
that casts its shadow over this one?
Because consciousness is an agony of atonement
for lifting the veils of faceless gods
and realizing there's no one there but you
for crossing the thresholds of hymeneal taboos
for stealing fire from extraterrestrial life
and feeling like Prometheus with a venereal disease
that keeps attacking his liver
like the moodswings of crackhead deathsquads?
I've always preferred the black holes
of the darkened midnight windows
staring bluntly out into the night
like mirrors in a coma
in an intensive care unit
unaware of what they reflect
to the more self-assured view from the inside
that presumes that it knows what it's looking at.
Heretics pariahs outlaws underdogs screw-ups
flawed beyond all human recognition
the crushed the lost the abandoned
the genocidal poverty
of those who are buried in the mass graves
at the last economic cleansing
they had to dig with their own hands
those who don't know how to do anything
whatever atrocity is perpetrated upon them
but hang on to their innocence
like a doll with one eye that doesn't blink anymore.
Those who eat their own ashes
out of tiny urns
like a junkie at a methadone clinic.
Those who were children until they turned six.
Those who have worked sacrificially all their lives for nothing.
The dead branch on the ground
the wind broke off the tree
still talking and dreaming of blossoms and fruit.
Those whose secret shy plan it is
to survive their lives
by staying out of their way
by taking the long way home from highschool
like a sword-swallower
who got one stuck
in the stone of his heart
he's not strong enough to pull out
to make himself king of the castle.
Parsifal on a grailquest to save the ailing kingdom
mounts his mule backwards
like a court jester
inciting the laughter of Don Quixote
and the bitter tears of King Lear
that fall like the rain tonight
and make the light run like blood
down the street drains
like a miscarriage of the pot of gold
at the end of a rainbow
that had let go like a watercolour
of a sunset at midnight
someone painted in cadmium red carlights.
I embrace all of these
as if we were all the anti-matter of humanity
ghettoized in the new privatized leper colonies
of the twenty-first century.
It's hard to love the whole person
when they're nothing but body parts
but I try.
I get orgiastically drunk on inspiration
in the company of the pagan muses
but when I sober up
I feel the Christian muse of guilt
slip its cosmic cuckoo's egg
in among the others while they're dreaming
and one by one push them out of the nest
like alternative universes.
That's when I write
like a snakepit looking up at the stars
wishing I had great vans of leather
tanned from all the eclipses I've shed like skin
and my words had the wingspan
of the inspired serpentfire
of kundalini dragons
when I see what happens to the flightfeathers
of innocent birds.
And then the rain begins to sing a strange lullaby
to a skull in a danse macabre
and it strikes me sometimes like a black mamba
in the back of the neck
as my hair stands up electromagnetically
that these aren't the lines of a riverine poem
flowing along on its own
but whip marks slashed across my back
like a flagellant on a long dark pilgrimage
of blue bubonic shadows
to the shrines of implacable death.
As if Perseus spurred on his winged horse
with a cat o' nine tails
made out of Medusa's severed head.
As if Hamlet were the wiseguy of a killer ghost
that put a contract out on everyone
including his son
to avenge his death
and wrest his marriage bed
from the hands of his brother
as if they fought over the same toy.
The night wears its darkness
like a hooded figure in a doorway
like a plague-rat behind the arras
like a black Isis in full eclipse
behind these veils of rain
that I am not yet nothing enough to lift.
It's not true the shadow falls
between the conception and the reality
because they're not two
and whether you slash at the river
or dedicate swords to The Lady of the Lake
whether you're burning heretics at the stake
standing up
or kings lying down
at half-mast on a death boat
you can't separate one tiny little tear of a raindropp
from its fathomless watershed.
Thesis antithesis synthesis
two profiles and a frontal
of the same face
the same waltz
dancing alone
with its own shadow
to the picture-music
of mind-bending space
like the rain tonight
that sees more in the spring
that it does when its drenchs the earth in autumn
with the fading hopes
of sad seasoned eyes
that have seen too much.
But I'm not a rootless trees
trying to use my homelessness as a crutch.
I like my spatial relations with the world
just as they are.
And the provisional integrity
of not buffing the clarity
of what I see in the mirror
whether it's fireflies in August
and moist stars hanging low
over the summer hills
just ripe for the picking
or an eyeless death in the void.
I risk the seeing
I expose my eyes to the dark energy
outside the field of vision
to burn the negative into white
so people can see what they feared
in the light.
So what was unknown and evil
could be shown
to be intimately their own karmic nemesis.
That the demons they feared the most
were the ones
they had done the most injury to
by condemning their innocence to exile.
That they are stalked and assassinated
by the shadows they dispossessed
like Tartars and Kalymyks
in a paranoid purge of Stalin
to walk and talk as if they didn't have any
and it were always high noon.
I forego my own righteousness
to defuse the black lightning of my judgement
by taking the thunder out of it
like a detonator.
I'm the first
to walk myself like a road in the morning
to look for improvised explosive devices
my psyche might have buried in the night
getting carried away
by the insurgency of this recurrent dream
that keeps rising up against me
like the mahdi against Kitchener in Khartoum.
Of all the agonies of hell
the worst is
the oxymoronic intensity
of being doomed by an excruciating irony of hate
to abuse the internal discipline
of my infernal nature
to try and do some good
in a godless world
that never stops crying
like the rain tonight
over the Dufferin Road Cemetery
that's gone on dying collectively
long after the last mourner has left.
Those that have power to hurt
but will do none
pay the steepest price for their compassion.
I take my finger off the trigger of the moon
and annul the contract
like a spider-mount
undoing the crosshairs
of its telescopic insight
into the eyes of human nature
when it doesn't think anyone else is watching.
The sins of omission in hell
are the virtues of what was not done on earth
by those for whom dismantling themselves
like a high-powered rifle
focused like a blackhole on the light
is not natural.
There's more empathy
in letting your hunger
transcend your appetite
by turning the light away from yourself
like a dragon that didn't swallow the moon
to make it rain tonight
than there is in exhausting your potential
by indulging it like an eclipse.
Lions don't hunt flies
because you're known
by the quality of your enemies
as much as your friends.
Ultimately there's no distinction
between the means and the ends.
The injustice of slaughtering the innocents
outlives the death-sentences
that pass for the lifespans of the slayers.
I hold the angry dragon within me
like a glacial lava flow
up to the darkness before me like a torch
and then I put it out
like an island in the rain tonight
and leave it to the birds to give it a name.
Compassion
is as close as I'll ever be
to anyone.

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Patrick White

Things I Must Say To You The Crystal Said

Things I must say to you the crystal said.
Jewels I must turn in the light.
Things I have gathered
like wild herbs from the starfields
to make a cool poultice of the moon
to draw the pain out of the wound
like a child that got turned around
when she was born
on the nightside of her blue eyes
to colour outside the lines of her constellation
like one of the original watersheds of Aquarius
that didn't take to the bottle and spoon of lesser wells
that warily sip from themselves
as if they were testing for poison,
but poured herself out
in an elation of so many lifelines
so many rivers vital with beginnings
the world mountain discovered her
like gold in the stone
gold in the mindstream
gold in the ore of its bones
gold that shone even in the darkest of valleys
wherever she flowed
like the white moon
when it wants to be mistaken for a swan
and sheds her eyelids like the petals of a waterlily
that's gone, gone, gone beyond herself
like a waterbird into the undetectable mystery of things
that lifts us up from our own reflections
and calls us to exceed ourselves
by flying beyond our own wings
past the last lake at the end of the universe
we could bask in like a keyhole
in the third eye of an unrelenting sky.

There. That's a breathful.
A dust-devil in a gust of stars.
A precipitous river of my own.
But I like listening to the green mountains
talk about things that are perennially true
that no one ever believes.
There's inspiration in the fires
that inspires their leaves
to burn like old myths
and poems that went up in flames
true to the muse of autumn
that has forgotten their names.

And I'm listening to this little world mountain
this dolmen of a crystal you gave me
this palace of mirrors
that sits above my desk
and tells me things about you
only an older spirit than the road I'm on could know.
It whispers to me at night
like a fragrance of light
from the unseen flowers
behind your eyes
flowing down from the high fields
and unscalable facets
of the mystic mountain you live upon
planting trees.
Abruptly enlightened medieval Rinzai Zen masters
did the same
in the mountains of Japan
as if they were rooting their pupils
like worlds within worlds
within a grain of sand
like the cornerstone of it all.

Trees are the future memories
of a prophetic skull
that stays true to its ancestors
like pines in the fall.
Anyone who plants a tree
raises a temple to the wisdom of birds
who will speak to you
in the native tongue of a new language
in voices older than words.
Anyone who plants a tree
attains what lives beyond them like an afterlife
that's always rooted in now
and even the dead branch
that holds the autumn crow in the rain
when things are bleak with the passage of things
will turn into a strong rafter in the house of life
and the moon will add its blossom to it
and the sun its butterfly
and everything that grows
will greet you as a child of its own.
And life will hold you up
like a candle
like a Douglas fir
like a star
like the tiered pagoda
of a pine-cone
like a mirror
like a bird
like a quiet smile
in the sweetest of solitudes
and well-pleased with what you've sown
hang you like a thousand shining chandeliers of rain
in the sacred groves of the Pleiades
to show you what has grown over the years
from the labours you undertook
from the tears you shed
to green the wounded mountain back to health
by adding your life to its life
is you returning
like a prodigal daughter of water
to the mystic springs
of your own starcrazy source.

Ride the wave.
Ride the snake.
Ride the wind.
Ride the fire.
Ride your own eyebeam
like a sword that delivers
the boon of life
like the first word
of a new universe
that's just heard its name called
like an endless beginning.

You are comet. You are wheat. You are starwheat.
You're a comet in the starwheat
making crop circles.
Aquarius.
Aquarians can take their skin off
and put it on again like water
and pour themselves out forever
like the sea in every dropp
so when the tide returns
it's never empty-handed.
I see a naked watersnake
swimming through the moonlight
like the path of something perpetually true
and inconceivably beautiful
as if time itself had learned to move like that
and every ripple was an era
widening its wingspan in its wake.
Hic sunt dracones.
That's how dragons learned to fly.
The highest and the lowest all in one.
The snake in the claws of the eagle.
Wisdom in the lawlessness of insight.
God.
You.
Me.
The Mysterium.

For those who haven't opened
the eyes in their blood yet
to see the bloodflowers
the bloodstars
talking to each other
like variations of the same light
these visions are the lost dream grammar
of an ancient madness
you can't recover from like a fever.
But to those who know the fireflies
are lamps on the road
the stars are not useless
and everywhere is the clarity and passage
of a river that forever arrives.

And I can see the wounded child
who's brave about her pain
but feels like a ladder in the rain
no one will hold for her
to climb down like the moon from her window.
And those that should have been waiting down below
to catch her if she falls
have scattered like stars
on the insides of her eyelids when she blinks.
Abandonment is that hollow shell
you find washed up somewhere on a beach
and raise to your ear
to hear the sea far off
like a life that's going on without you.
Even the sea can't fill that cup.
Only another emptiness
could feel at home
in the homelessness of that space.
Abandonment is getting up every morning
and putting your face on inside out
and thinking of it as some kind of good luck
you're on the other side of the universe
all on your own.
And though you howl like a wolf on the wind
the moon still cannot hear you.
That's how longing is born
in the fires of separation;
that's how the universe is called
every moment out of the nothingness
like someone to love,
and the deeper and darker the emptiness
the higher and brighter the mountain.
The watershed holds the fountain up
like a bouquet to the rain.
Emptiness doesn't stand like a god
in the shadow of an unknown definition.
It's the selflessness of everything that is.
Unborn it lives without distinction in the heart of things.
Unperishing it dies for everyone
without leaving anyone out.

When insight blossoms
like the moon
on a dead branch
compassion's the fruit
that's always in reach.
Life doesn't practise
what the heartless teach.

This morning
I'm sitting at the feet
of your little crystal buddha
enthroned in full lotus position
as he turns my heart in the light
like a jewel in the eye of a diamond-cutter.
And the sky is generous with tears
as it clarifies the windows of perception
with eyes as old and wise
as the sun at midnight.
And every thought I have of you is a fierce peace.
And every feeling a black mirror
deeper than white
that has extinguished my face
like one of last night's stars
in the bliss of a greater illumination.
The mystic specificity of my mind
pales like the moon
in a blinding abyss
of no-minded indistinction.
And the stars that shone down on nothing for so long
like an indecipherable language
are now looking up at you
like the fountainmouth
high above the treeline
in the mountains
of an Aquarian understanding
of what they've always meant to say.
There are no echoes in the voices of love.
No avalanche of Rosetta Stones.
No scoffing crows.
No genuflections of the dove.
There are no shadows hiding like daggers
under the cloaks of day
to get even at noon
for things that happened at midnight.
Love is a feather
from a passing bird in flight
life puts into the scales
and the earth turns eastward toward the light
and death takes its finger off the measure
of life's most cherished treasure.

And now the buddha turns into
two lovers sitting upright
face to face
in a lotus embrace
of enlightened connubium
in a coincidence of the contradictories
as if two were not the extinction of one.
And when desire opens its flames like petals
and blooms like a phoenix
there are no strangers in the fire.
And love doesn't burn its feet
by making a firewalk
of the nameless constellation
rising from the dark innocence
of its sweet dreamless sleep
like the thirteenth house of the zodiac
with two people home from everywhere
with myths of their own
like Venus and Mars
turning the lights on and off
like lovers and stars
while the neighbours stare in amazement
through closed windows and locked doors
at the bright vacancy of the rumours
the dark abundance of the night
that knows all we are and do
and will and have done
is true to the overproof joy I take
in this lyric of a jewel in the light.
It turns me like your eyes
turning the key in the dark gate
of a mystic moonrise
where fate elaborates the worlds
like pearls from grains of sand
and time refires its last hour
like a master glass blower
to make more space
for stars in the desert at night
by breathing on the flames
that feather the ashes of the moths
in the urns of our names
with the wings
of a dragon
the wings of a phoenix
the wings of a sphinx in the rain
planting trees on the slopes of a pyramid
to watch the dead mountain grow green again
and know all the secret paths down into its afterlife
like a river running through the wilderness
or this theme of stars on the mindstream
beguiled by the mystic wiles
of a cougar caught in the moonlight
like a jewel in the eye of a dreamcatcher.
Or the seasoned seer in a mirror like me
enraptured by the anarchic fireflies
beading themselves
like the mandalic stars
of a new constellation
only the enlightened can see
enflamed like a prophecy
empowered by love
to rise in the night of your name.

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William Cowper

The Task: Book I. -- The Sofa

I sing the Sofa. I who lately sang
Truth, Hope, and Charity, and touched with awe
The solemn chords, and with a trembling hand,
Escaped with pain from that adventurous flight,
Now seek repose upon an humbler theme;
The theme though humble, yet august and proud
The occasion, - for the fair commands the song.

Time was when clothing, sumptuous or for use,
Save their own painted skins, our sires had none.
As yet black breeches were not, satin smooth,
Or velvet soft, or plush with shaggy pile.
The hardy chief upon the rugged rock
Washed by the sea, or on the gravelly bank
Thrown up by wintry torrents roaring loud,
Fearless of wrong, reposed his weary strength.
Those barbarous ages past, succeeded next
The birthday of invention, weak at first,
Dull in design, and clumsy to perform.
Joint-stools were then created; on three legs
Upborne they stood, - three legs upholding firm
A massy slab, in fashion square or round.
On such a stool immortal Alfred sat,
And swayed the sceptre of his infant realms;
And such in ancient halls and mansions drear
May still be seen, but perforated sore
And drilled in holes the solid oak is found,
By worms voracious eating through and through.

At length a generation more refined
Improved the simple plan, made three legs four,
Gave them a twisted form vermicular,
And o'er the seat with plenteous wadding stuffed
Induced a splendid cover green and blue,
Yellow and red, of tapestry richly wrought
And woven close, or needle-work sublime.
There might ye see the peony spread wide,
The full-blown rose, the shepherd and his lass,
Lap-dog and lambkin with black staring eyes,
And parrots with twin cherries in their beak.

Now came the cane from India, smooth and bright
With Nature's varnish; severed into stripes
That interlaced each other, these supplied
Of texture firm a lattice-work, that braced
The new machine, and it became a chair.
But restless was the chair; the back erect
Distressed the weary loins that felt no ease;
The slippery seat betrayed the sliding part
That pressed it, and the feet hung dangling down,
Anxious in vain to find the distant floor.
These for the rich: the rest, whom fate had placed
In modest mediocrity, content
With base materials, sat on well-tanned hides
Obdurate and unyielding, glassy smooth,
With here and there a tuft of crimson yarn,
Or scarlet crewel in the cushion fixed:
If cushion might be called, what harder seemed
Than the firm oak of which the frame was formed.
No want of timber then was felt or feared
In Albion's happy isle. The lumber stood
Ponderous, and fixed by its own massy weight.
But elbows still were wanting; these, some say,
An Alderman of Cripplegate contrived,
And some ascribe the invention to a priest
Burly and big and studious of his ease.
But rude at first, and not with easy slope
Receding wide, they pressed against the ribs,
And bruised the side, and elevated high
Taught the raised shoulders to invade the ears.
Long time elapsed or ere our rugged sires
Complained, though incommodiously pent in,
And ill at ease behind. The ladies first
'Gan murmur, as became the softer sex.
Ingenious fancy, never better pleased
Than when employed to accommodate the fair,
Heard the sweet moan with pity, and devised
The soft settee; one elbow at each end,
And in the midst an elbow, it received
United yet divided, twain at once.
So sit two kings of Brentford on one throne;
And so two citizens who take the air
Close packed and smiling in a chaise and one.
But relaxation of the languid frame
By soft recumbency of outstretched limbs,
Was bliss reserved for happier days; - so slow
The growth of what is excellent, so hard
To attain perfection in this nether world.
Thus first necessity invented stools,
Convenience next suggested elbow chairs,
And luxury the accomplished sofa last.

The nurse sleeps sweetly, hired to watch the sick
Whom snoring she disturbs. As sweetly he
Who quits the coach-box at the midnight hour
To sleep within the carriage more secure,
His legs depending at the open door.
Sweet sleep enjoys the curate in his desk,
The tedious rector drawling o'er his head,
And sweet the clerk below: but neither sleep
Of lazy nurse, who snores the sick man dead,
Nor his who quits the box at midnight hour
To slumber in the carriage more secure,
Nor sleep enjoyed by curate in his desk,
Nor yet the dozings of the clerk are sweet,
Compared with the repose the sofa yields.

Oh may I live exempted (while I live
Guiltless of pampered appetite obscene,)
From pangs arthritic that infest the toe
Of libertine excess. The sofa suits
The gouty limb, 'tis true; but gouty limb,
Though on a sofa, may I never feel:
For I have loved the rural walk through lanes
Of grassy swarth close cropt by nibbling sheep,
And skirted thick with intertexture firm
Of thorny boughs; have loved the rural walk
O'er hills, through valleys, and by river's brink
E'er since a truant boy I passed my bounds
To enjoy a ramble on the banks of Thames.
And still remember, nor without regret
Of hours that sorrow since has much endeared,
How oft, my slice of pocket store consumed,
Still hungering pennyless and far from home,
I fed on scarlet hips and stony haws,
Or blushing crabs, or berries that emboss
The bramble, black as jet, or sloes austere,
Hard fare! but such as boyish appetite
Disdains not, nor the palate undepraved
By culinary arts unsavoury deems.
No sofa then awaited my return,
Nor sofa then I needed. Youth repairs
His wasted spirits quickly, by long toil
Incurring short fatigue; and though our years,
As life declines, speed rapidly away,
And not a year but pilfers as he goes
Some youthful grace that age would gladly keep,
A tooth or auburn lock, and by degrees
Their length and colour from the locks they spare;
The elastic spring of an unwearied foot
That mounts the stile with ease, or leaps the fence,
That play of lungs inhaling and again
Respiring freely the fresh air, that makes
Swift pace or steep ascent no toil to me,
Mine have not pilfered yet; nor yet impaired
My relish of fair prospect: scenes that soothed
Or charmed me young, no longer young, I find
Still soothing and of power to charm me still.
And witness, dear companion of my walks,
Whose arm this twentieth winter I perceive
Fast locked in mine, with pleasure such as love
Confirmed by long experience of thy worth
And well-tried virtues could alone inspire, -
Witness a joy that thou hast doubled long.
Thou know'st my praise of nature most sincere,
And that my raptures are not conjur'd up
To serve occasions of poetic pomp,
But genuine, and art partner of them all.
How oft upon yon eminence our pace
Has slacken'd to a pause, and we have borne
The ruffling wind, scarce conscious that it blew,
While admiration, feeding at the eye,
And still unsated, dwelt upon the scene.
Thence with what pleasure have we just discern'd
The distant plough slow moving, and beside
His lab'ring team, that swerv'd not from the track,
The sturdy swain diminish'd to a boy!
Here Ouse, slow winding through a level
Of spacious meads with cattle sprinkled o'er,
Conducts the eye along its sinuous course
Delighted. There, fast rooted in his bank,
Stand, never overlook'd, our fav'rite elms,
That screen the herdsman's solitary hut;
While far beyond, and overthwart the stream
That, as with molten glass, inlays the vale,
The sloping land recedes into the clouds;
Displaying on its varied side the grace
Of hedge-row beauties numberless, square tow'r,
Tall spire, from which the sound of cheerful bells
Just undulates upon the list'ning ear,
Groves, heaths and smoking villages remote.
Scenes must be beautiful, which, daily view'd,
Please daily, and whose novelty survives
Long knowledge and the scrutiny of years.
Praise justly due to those that I describe.

Nor rural sights alone, but rural sounds
Exhilarate the spirit, and restore
The tone of languid nature. Mighty winds
That sweep the skirt of some far-spreading wood
Of ancient growth, make music not unlike
The dash of ocean on his winding shore,
And lull the spirit while they fill the mind,
Unnumbered branches waving in the blast,
And all their leaves fast fluttering, all at once
Nor less composure waits upon the roar
Of distant floods, or on the softer voice
Of neighbouring fountain, or of rills that slip
Through the cleft rock, and chiming as they fall
Upon loose pebbles, lose themselves at length
In matted grass, that with a livelier green
Betrays the secret of their silent course.
Nature inanimate employs sweet sounds,
But animated nature sweeter still
To soothe and satisfy the human ear.
Ten thousand warblers cheer the day, and one
The livelong night: nor these alone whose notes
Nice-fingered art must emulate in vain,
But cawing rooks, and kites that swim sublime
In still repeated circles, screaming loud,
The jay, the pie, and even the boding owl
That hails the rising moon, have charms for me.
Sounds inharmonious in themselves and harsh,
Yet heard in scenes where peace for ever reigns
And only there, please highly for their sake.

Peace to the artist, whose ingenious thought
Devised the weather-house, that useful toy!
Fearless of humid air and gathering rains
Forth steps the man, an emblem of myself;
More delicate his timorous mate retires.
When winter soaks the fields, and female feet
Too weak to struggle with tenacious clay,
Or ford the the rivulets, are best at home,
The task of new discoveries falls on me.
At such a season and with such a charge
Once went I forth, and found, till then unknown,
A cottage, whither oft we since repair:
'Tis perched upon the green hill-top, but close
Environed with a ring of branching elms
That overhang the thatch, itself unseen,
Peeps at the vale below; so thick beset
With foliage of such dark redundant growth,
I called the low-roofed lodge the
peasant's nest.

And hidden as it is, and far remote
From such unpleasing sounds as haunt the ear
In village or in town, the bay of curs
Incessant, clinking hammers, grinding wheels,
And infants clamorous whether pleased or pained,
Oft have I wished the peaceful covert mine.
Here, I have said, at least I should possess
The poet's treasure, silence, and indulge
The dreams of fancy, tranquil and secure.
Vain thought! the dweller in that still retreat
Dearly obtains the refuge it affords.
Its elevated site forbids the wretch
To drink sweet waters of the crystal well;
He dips his bowl into the weedy ditch,
And heavy-laden brings his beverage home,
Far-fetched and little worth; nor seldom waits,
Dependent on the baker's punctual call,
To hear his creaking panniers at the door,
Angry and sad, and his last crust consumed.
So farewell envy of the
peasant's nest.

If solitude make scant the means of life,
Society for me! Thou seeming sweet,
Be still a pleasing object in my view,
My visit still, but never mine abode.

Not distant far, a length of colonnade
Invites us: Monument of ancient taste,
Now scorned, but worthy of a better fate.
Our fathers knew the value of a screen
From sultry suns, and in their shaded walks
And long-protracted bowers, enjoyed at noon
The gloom and coolness of declining day.
We bear our shades about us; self-deprived
Of other screen, the thin umbrella spread,
And range an Indian waste without a tree.
Thanks to Benevolus; he spares me yet
These chestnuts ranged in corresponding lines,
And though himself so polished, still reprieves
The obsolete prolixity of shade.

Descending now (but cautious, lest too fast,)
A sudden steep, upon a rustic bridge
We pass a gulf in which the willows dip
Their pendent boughs, stooping as if to drink.
Hence ankle-deep in moss and flowery thyme
We mount again, and feel at every step
Our foot half sunk in hillocks green and soft,
Raised by the mole, the miner of the soil.
He not unlike the great ones of mankind,
Disfigures earth, and plotting in the dark
Toils much to earn a monumental pile,
That may record the mischiefs he has done.

The summit gained, behold the proud alcove
That crowns it! yet not all its pride secures
The grant retreat from injuries impressed
By rural carvers, who with knives deface
The panels, leaving an obscure rude name
In characters uncouth, and spelt amiss.
So strong the zeal to immortalise himself
Beats in the breast of man, that even a few
Few transient years won from the abyss abhorred
Of blank oblivion, seem a glorious prize,
And even to a clown. Now roves the eye,
And posted on this speculative height
Exults in its command. The sheep-fold here
Pours out its fleecy tenants o'er the glebe,
At first progressive as a stream, they seek
The middle field; but scattered by degrees
Each to his choice, soon whiten all the land.
There, from the sun-burnt hay-field homeward creeps
The loaded wain, while lightened of its charge
The wain that meets it passes swiftly by,
The boorish driver leaning o'er his team
Vociferous, and impatient of delay.
Nor less attractive is the woodland scene,
Diversified with trees of every growth
Alike yet various. Here the gray smooth trunks
Of ash, or lime, or beech, distinctly shine,
Within the twilight of their distant shades;
There lost behind a rising ground, the wood
Seems sunk, and shortened to its topmost boughs.
No tree in all the grove but has its charms,
Though each its hue peculiar; paler some,
And of a wanish gray; the willow such
And poplar, that with silver lines his leaf,
And ash far-stretching his umbrageous arm;
Of deeper green the elm; and deeper still,
Lord of the woods, the long-surviving oak.
Some glossy-leaved and shining in the sun,
The maple, and the beech of oily nuts
Prolific, and the line at dewy eve
Diffusing odours: nor unnoted pass
The sycamore, capricious in attire,
Now green, now tawny, and ere autumn yet
Have changed the woods, in scarlet honours bright.
O'er these, but far beyond, (a spacious map
Of hill and valley interposed between,)
The Ouse, dividing the well-watered land,
Now glitters in the sun, and now retires,
As bashful, yet impatient to be seen.

Hence the declevity is sharp and short,
And such the re-ascent; between them weeps
A little naiad her impoverished urn
All summer long, which winter fills again.
The folded gates would bar my progress now,
But that the lord of this enclosed demesne,
Communicative of the good he owns,
Admits me to a share: the guiltless eye
Commits no wrong, nor wastes what it enjoys.
Refreshing change! where now the blazing sun?
By short transition we have lost his glare,
And stepped at once into a cooler clime.
Ye fallen avenues! once more I mourn
Your fate unmerited, once more rejoice
That yet a remnant of your race survives.
How airy and how light the graceful arch,
Yet awful as the consecrated roof
Re-echoing pious anthems! while beneath
The chequered earth seems restless as a flood
Brushed by the wind. So sportive is the light
Shot through the boughs, it dances as they dance,
Shadow and sunshine intermingling quick,
And darkening and enlightening, as the leaves
Play wanton, every moment, every spot.

And now with nerves new-braced and spirits cheered
We tread the wilderness, whose well-rolled walks
With curvature of slow and easy sweep, -
Deception innocent, - give ample space
To narrow bounds. The grove receives us next;
Between the upright shafts of whose tall elms
We may discern the thresher at his task.
Thump after thump, resounds the constant flail,
That seems to swing uncertain, and yet falls
Full on the destined ear. Wide flies the chaff,
The rustling straw sends up a frequent mist
Of atoms sparkling in the noonday beam.
Come hither, ye that press your beds of down
And sleep not, - see him sweating o'er his bread
Before he eats it. - 'Tis the primal curse,
But softened into mercy; made the pledge
Of cheerful days, and nights without a groan.

By ceaseless action, all that is subsists.
Constant rotation of the unwearied wheel
That nature rides upon, maintains her health,
Her beauty, her fertility. She dreads
An instant's pause, and lives but while she moves.
Its own resolvency upholds the world.
Winds from all quarters agitate the air,
And fit the limpid elements for use,
Else noxious: oceans, rivers, lakes, and streams
By restless undulation. Even the oak
Thrives by the rude concussion of the storm;
He seems indeed indignant, and to feel
The impression of the blast with proud disdain,
Frowning as if in his unconscious arm
He held the thunder. But the monarch owes
His firm stability to what he scorns,
More fixed below, the more disturbed above.
The law by which all creatures else are bound,
Binds man the lord of all. Himself derives
No mean advantage from a kindred cause,
From strenuous toil his hours of sweetest ease.
The sedentary stretch their lazy length
When custom bids, but no refreshment find,
For none they need: the languid eye, the cheek
Deserted of its bloom, the flaccid, shrunk,
And withered muscle, and the vapid soul,
Reproach their owner with that love of rest
To which he forfeits even the rest he loves.
Not such the alert and active. Measure life
By its true worth, the comforts it affords,
And theirs alone seems worthy of the name
Good health, and its associate in the most,
Good temper; spirits prompt to undertake,
And not soon spent, though in an arduous task;
The powers of fancy and strong thought are theirs;
Even age itself seems privileged in them
With clear exemption from its own defects.
A sparkling eye beneath a wrinkled front
The veteran shows, and gracing a gray beard
With youthful smiles, descends towards the grave
Sprightly, and old almost without decay.

Like a coy maiden, ease, when courted most,
Farthest retires, - an idol, at whose shrine
Who oftenest sacrifice are favoured least.
The love of nature, and the scenes she draws
Is nature's dictate. Strange! there should be found
Who self-imprisoned in their proud saloons,
Renounce the odours of the open field
For the unscented fictions of the loom;
Who satisfied with only pencilled scenes,
Prefer to the performance of a God
The inferior wonders of an artist's hand.
Lovely indeed the mimic works of art,
But nature's works far lovelier. I admire -
None more admires the painter's magic skill,
Who shows me that which I shall never see,
Conveys a distant country into mine,
And throws Italian light on English walls.
But imitative strokes can do no more
Than please the eye, sweet nature every sense.
The air salubrious of her lofty hills,
The cheering fragrance of her dewy vales
And music of her woods, - no works of man
May rival these; these all bespeak a power
Peculiar, and exclusively her own.
Beneath the open sky she spreads the feast;
'Tis free to all, - 'tis every day renewed,
Who scorns it, starves deservedly at home.
He does not scorn it, who imprisoned long
In some unwholesome dungeon, and a prey
To sallow sickness, which the vapours dank
And clammy of his dark abode have bred,
Escapes at last to liberty and light.
His cheek recovers soon its healthful hue,
His eye relumines its extinguished fires,
He walks, he leaps, he runs, - is winged with joy.
And riots in the sweets of every breeze.
He does not scorn it, who has long endured
A fever's agonies, and fed on drugs.
Nor yet the mariner, his blood inflamed
With acrid salts; his very heart athirst
To gaze at nature in her green array.
Upon the ship's tall side he stands, possessed
With visions prompted by intense desire;
Fair fields appear below, such as he left
Far distant, such as he would die to find, -
He seeks them headlong, and is seen no more.

The spleen is seldom felt where Flora reigns;
The lowering eye, the petulance, the frown,
And sullen sadness that o'ershade, distort,
And mar the face of beauty, when no cause
For such immeasurable woe appears,
These Flora banishes, and gives the fair
Sweet smiles and bloom less transient than her own.
It is the constant revolution stale
And tasteless, of the same repeated joys,
That palls and satiates, and makes the languid life
A pedlar's pack, that bows the bearer down.
Health suffers, and the spirits ebb; the heart
Recoils from its own choice, - at the full feast
Is famished, - finds no music in the song,
No smartness in the jest, and wonders why.
Yet thousands still desire to journey on,
Though halt and weary on the path they tread.
The paralytic who can hold her cards
But cannot play them, borrows a friend's hand
To deal and shuffle, to divide and sort
Her mingled suits and sequences, and sits
Spectatress both and spectacle, a sad
And silent cypher, while her proxy plays,
Others are dragged into the crowded room
Between supporters; and once seated, sit
Through downright inability to rise,
Till the stout bearers lift the corpse again.
These speak a loud memento. Yet even these
Themselves love life, and cling to it, as he
That overhangs a torrent to a twig.
They love it, and yet loathe it; fear to die.
Yet scorn the purposes for which they live.
Then wherefore not renounce them? No - the dread,
The slavish dread of solitude that breeds
Reflection and remorse, the fear of shame,
And their inveterate habits, all forbid.

Whom call we gay? That honour has been long
The boast of mere pretenders to the name.
The innocent are gay; - the lark is gay
That dries his feathers saturate with dew
Beneath the rosy cloud, while yet the beams
Of day-spring overshoot his humble nest.
The peasant too, a witness of his song,
Himself a songster, is as gay as he.
But save me from the gaiety of those
Whose headaches nail them to a noon-day bed;
And save me too from theirs whose haggard eyes
Flash desperation, and betray their pangs
For property stripped off by cruel chance;
From gaiety that fills the bones with pain,
The mouth with blasphemy, the heart with woe.

The earth was made so various, that the mind
Of desultory man, studious of change,
And pleased with novelty, might be indulged.
Prospects however lovely may be seen
Till half their beauties fade; the weary sight,
Too well acquainted with their smiles, slides off
Fastidious, seeking less familiar scenes.
Then snug enclosures in the sheltered vale,
Where frequent hedges intercept the eye,
Delight us, happy to renounce a while,
Not senseless of its charms, what still we love,
That such short absence may endear it more.
Then forests, or the savage rock may please,
That hides the sea-mew in his hollow clefts
Above the reach of man: his hoary head
Conspicuous many a league, the marmer
Bound homeward, and in hope already there,
Greets with three cheers exulting. At his waist
A girdle of half-withered shrubs he shows,
And at his feet the baffled billows die.
The common overgrown with fern, and rough
With prickly goss, that shapeless and deform
And dangerous to the touch, has yet its bloom
And decks itself with ornaments of gold,
Yields no unpleasing ramble; there the turf
Smells fresh, and rich in odoriferous herbs
And fungous fruits of earth, regales the sense
With luxury of unexpected sweets.

There often wanders one, whom better days
Saw better clad, in cloak of satin trimmed
With lace, and hat with splendid riband bound.
A serving-maid was she, and fell in love
With one who left her, went to sea and died.
Her fancy followed him through foaming waves
To distant shores, and she would sit and weep
At what a sailor suffers; fancy too,
Delusive most where warmest wishes are,
Would oft anticipate his glad return,
And dream of transports she was not to know.
She heard the doleful tidings of his death,
And never smiled again. And now she roams
The dreary waste; there spends the livelong day.
And there, unless when charity forbids,
The livelong night. A tattered apron hides,
Worn as a cloak, and hardly hides a gown
More tattered still; and both but ill conceal
A bosom heaved with never-ceasing sighs.
She begs an idle pin of all she meets,
And hoards them in her sleeve; but needful food,
Though pressed with hunger oft, or comelier clothes,
Though pinched with cold, asks never. - Kate is crazed.

I see a colemn of slow-rising smoke
O'ertop the lofty wood that skirts the wild.
A vagabond and useless tribe there eat
Their miserable meal. A kettle slung
Between two poles upon a stick transverse,
Receives the morsel; flesh obscene of dog,
Or vermin, or at best, of cock purloined
From his accustomed perch. Hard-faring race!
They pick their fuel out of every hedge,
Which kindled with dry leaves, just saves unquenched
The spark of life. The sportive wind blows wide
Their fluttering rags, and shows a tawny skin,
The vellum of pedigree they claim.
Great skill have they in palmistry, and more
To conjure clean away the gold they touch,
Conveying worthless dross into its place.
Loud when they beg, dumb only when they steal.
Strange! that a creature rational, and cast
In human mould, should brutalize by choice
His nature, and though capable of arts
By which the world might profit and himself,
Self-banished from society, prefer
Such squalid sloth to honourable toil.
Yet even these, though feigning sickness oft
They swathe the forehead, drag the limping limb
And vex their flesh with artificial sores,
Can change their whine into a mirthful note
When safe occasion offers, and with dance
And music of the bladder and the bag
Beguile their woes and make the woods resound.
Such health and gaiety of heart enjoy
The houseless rovers of the sylvan world;
And breathing wholesome air, and wandering much,
Need other physic none to heal the effects
Of loathsome diet, penury, and cold.

Blest he, though undistinguished from the crowd
By wealth or dignity, who dwells secure
Where man, by nature fierce, has laid aside
His fierceness, having learnt, though slow to learn,
The manners and the arts of civil life.
His wants, indeed, are many: but supply
Is obvious; placed within the easy reach
Of temperate wishes and industrious hands.
Here virtue thrives as in her proper soil;
Not rude and surly, and beset with thorns,
And terrible to sight, as when she springs,
(If e'er she springs spontaneous,) in remote
And barbarous climes, where violence prevails
And strength is lord of all; but gentle, kind.
By culture tamed, by liberty refreshed,
And all her fruits by radiant truth matured.
War and the chase engross the savage whole;
War followed for revenge, or to supplant
The envied tenants of some happier spot,
The chase for sustenance, precarious trust!
His hard condition with severe constraint
Binds all his faculties, forbids all growth
Of wisdom, proves a school in which he learns
Sly circumvention, unrelenting hate,
Mean self-attachment, and scarce aught beside.
Thus fare the shivering natives of the north,
And thus the rangers of the western world
Where it advances far into the deep,
Towards the Antarctic. Even the favoured isles
So lately found, although the constant sun
Cheer all their seasons with a grateful smile,
Can boast but little virtue; and inert
Through plenty, lose in morals what they gain
In manners, victims of luxurious ease.
These therefore I can pity, placed remote
From all that science traces, art invents,
Or inspiration teaches; and enclosed
In boundless oceans never to be passed
By navigators uninformed as they,
Or ploughed perhaps by British bark again
But far beyond the rest, and with most cause,
Thee, gentle savage! whom no love thee
Or thine, but curiosity perhaps,
Or else vain-glory, prompted us to draw
Forth from thy native bowers, to show thee here
With what superior skill we can abuse
The gifts of Providence, and squander life.
The dream is past. And thou hast found again
Thy cocoas and bananas, palms and yams,
And homestall thatched with leaves. But hast thou found
Their former charms? And having seen our state,
Our palaces, our ladies, and our pomp
Of equipage, our gardens, and our sports,
And heard our music; are thy simple friends,
Thy simple fair, and all thy plain delights
As dear to thee as once? And have thy joys
Lost nothing by comparison with ours?
Rude as thou art (for we returned thee rude
And ignorant except of outward show,)
I cannot think thee yet so dull of heart
And spiritless, as never to regret
Sweets tasted here, and left as soon as known.
Methinks I see thee straying on the beach,
And asking of the surge that bathes thy foot
If ever it has washed our distant shore.
I see thee weep, and thine are honest tears,
A patriot's for his country. Thou art sad
At though of her forlorn and abject state,
From which no power of thine can raise her up.
Thus fancy paints thee, and though apt to err,
Perhaps errs little, when she paints thee thus.
She tells me too, that duly every morn
Thou climbst the mountain top, with eager eye
Exploring far and wide the watery waste
For sight of ship from England. Every speck
Seen in the dim horizon, turns thee pale
With conflict of contending hopes and fears,
But comes at last the dull and dusky eve,
And sends thee to thy cabin well-prepared
To dream all night of what the day denied.
Alas! expect it not. We found no bait
To tempt us in thy country. Doing good,
Disinterested good, is not our trade.
We travel far, 'tis true, but not for nought;
And must be bribed to compass earth again
By other hopes and richer fruits than yours.

But though true worth and virtue, in the mild
And genial soil of cultivated life,
Thrive most, and may perhaps thrive only there,
Yet not in cities oft, - in proud and gay
And gain-devoted cities. Thither flow,
As to a common and most noisome sewer,
The dregs and feculence of every land.
In cities foul example on most minds
Begets its likeness. Rank abundance breeds
In gross and pamper'd cities sloth and lust,
And wantonness and gluttonous excess.
In cities vice is hidden with most ease,
Or seen with least reproach; and virtue, taught
By frequent lapse, can hope no triumph there
Beyond th' achievement of successful flight.
I do confess them nurseries of the arts,
In which they flourish most; where, in the beams
Of warm encouragement, and in the eye
Of public note, they reach their perfect size.
Such London is, by taste and wealth proclaim'd
The fairest capital of all the world,
By riot and incontinence the worst.
There, touch'd by Reynolds, a dull blank becomes
A lucid mirror, in which Nature sees
All her reflected features. Bacon there
Gives more than female beauty to a stone,
And Chatham's eloquence to marble lips.
Nor does the chisel occupy alone
The powers of sculpture, but the style as much;
Each province of her heart her equal care.
With nice incision of her guided steel
She ploughs a brazen field, and clothes a soil
So sterile with what charms soe'er she will,
The richest scenery and the loveliest forms.
Where finds philosophy her eagle eye
With which she gazes at yon burning disk
Undazzled, and detects and counts his spots?
In London. Where her implements exact
With which she calculates, computes and scans
All distance, motion, magnitude, and now
Measures an atom, and now girds a world?
In London. Where has commerce such a mart,
So rich, so thronged, so drained, and so supplied
As London, opulent, enlarged and still
Increasing London? Babylon of old
Not more the glory of the earth, than she
A more accomplished world's chief glory now.

She has her praise. Now mark a spot or two
That so much beauty would do well to purge;
And show this queen of cities, that so fair
May yet be foul, so witty, yet not wise.
It is not seemly nor of good report
That she is slack in discipline, - more prompt
To avenge than to prevent the breach of law.
That she is rigid in denouncing death
On petty robbers, and indulges life
And liberty, and oft-times honour too
To peculators of the public gold.
That thieves at home must hang; but he that puts
Into his overgorged and bloated purse
The wealth of Indian provinces, escapes,
Nor is it well, nor can it come to good,
That through profane and infidel contempt
Of holy writ, she has presumed to annul
And abrogate, as roundly as she may,
The total ordinance and will of God;
Advancing fashion to the post of truth,
And centring all authority in modes
And customs of her own, till Sabbath rites
Have dwindled into unrespected forms,
And knees and hassocks are well-nigh divorced.

God made the country, and man made the town.
What wonder then that health and virtue, gifts
That can alone make sweet the bitter draught
That life holds out to all, should most abound
And least be threaten'd in the fields and groves?
Possess ye therefore, ye who, borne about
In chariots and sedans, know no fatigue
But that of idleness, and taste no scenes
But such as art contrives, - possess ye still
Your element; there only ye can shine,
There only minds like yours can do no harm.
Our groves were planted to console at noon
The pensive wand'rer in their shades. At eve
The moonbeam, sliding softly in between
The sleeping leaves, is all the light they wish,
Birds warbling all the music. We can spare
The splendour of your lamps, they but eclipse
Our softer satellite. Your songs confound
Our more harmonious notes: the thrush departs
Scared, and th' offended nightingale is mute.
There is a public mischief in your mirth;
It plagues your country. Folly such as yours,
Grac'd with a sword, and worthier of a fan,
Has made, which enemies could ne'er have done,
Our arch of empire, steadfast but for you,
A mutilated structure, soon to fall.

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Easter-Day

HOW very hard it is to be
A Christian! Hard for you and me,
—Not the mere task of making real
That duty up to its ideal,
Effecting thus complete and whole,
A purpose or the human soul—
For that is always hard to do;
But hard, I mean, for me and you
To realise it, more or less,
With even the moderate success
Which commonly repays our strife
To carry out the aims of life.
“This aim is greater,” you may say,
“And so more arduous every way.”
—But the importance of the fruits
Still proves to man, in all pursuits,
Proportional encouragement.
“Then, what if it be God’s intent
“That labour to this one result
“Shall seem unduly difficult?”
—Ah, that’s a question in the dark—
And the sole thing that I remark
Upon the difficulty, this;
We do not see it where it is,
At the beginning of the race:
As we proceed, it shifts its place,
And where we looked for palms to fall,
We find the tug’s to come,—that’s all.

II.
At first you say, “The whole, or chief
Of difficulties, is Belief.
“Could I believe once thoroughly,
The rest were simple. What? Am I
“An idiot, do you think? A beast?
“Prove to me only that the least
“Command of God is God’s indeed,
“And what injunction shall I need
“To pay obedience? Death so nigh
“When time must end, eternity
“Begin,—and cannot I compute?
“Weigh loss and gain together? suit
“My actions to the balance drawn,
“And give my body to be sawn
“Asunder, hacked in pieces, tied
“To horses, stoned, burned, crucified,
“Like any martyr of the list?
“How gladly,—if I made acquist,
“Through the brief minutes’ fierce annoy,
Of God’s eternity of joy.”

III.
—And certainly you name the point
Whereon all turns: for could you joint
This flexile finite life once tight
Into the fixed and infinite,
You, safe inside, would spurn what’s out,
With carelessness enough, no doubt—
Would spurn mere life: but where time brings
To their next stage your reasonings,
Your eyes, late wide, begin to wink
Nor see the path so well, I think.

IV.
You say, “Faith may be, one agrees,
“A touchstone for God’s purposes,
“Even as ourselves conceive of them.
“Could He acquit us or condemn
“For holding what no hand can loose,
“Rejecting when we can’t but choose?
“As well award the victor’s wreath
“To whosoever should take breath
“Duly each minute while he lived—
“Grant Heaven, because a man contrived
“To see the sunlight every day
“He walked forth on the public way.
“You must mix some uncertainty
“With faith, if you would have faith be.
“Why, what but faith, do we abhor
“And idolize each other for—
“—Faith in our evil, or our good,
Which is or is not understood
“Aright by those we love or those
“We hate, thence called our friends or foes?
“Your mistress saw your spirit’s grace,
“When, turning from the ugly face,
“I found belief in it too hard;
“And both of us have our reward.
“—Yet here a doubt peeps: well for us
“Weak beings, to go using thus
“A touchstone for our little ends,
“And try with faith the foes and friends;
“—But God, bethink you! I would fain
“Conceive of the Creator’s reign
“As based upon exacter laws
“Than creatures build by with applause.
“In all God’s acts—(as Plato cries
“He doth)—He should geometrise.
“Whence, I desiderate . . .

V.
I see!
You would grow smoothly as a tree.
Soar heavenward, straightly up like fire—
God bless you—there’s your world entire
Needing no faith, if you think fit;
Go there, walk up and down in it!
The whole creation travails, groans—
Contrive your music from its moans,
Without or let or hindrance, friend!
That’s an old story, and its end
As old—you come back (be sincere)
With every question you put here
(Here where there once was, and is still,
We think, a living oracle,
Whose answers you stood carping at)
This time flung back unanswered flat,—
Besides, perhaps, as many more
As those that drove you out before,
Now added, where was little need!
Questions impossible, indeed,
To us who sate still, all and each
Persuaded that our earth had speech
Of God’s, writ down, no matter if
In cursive type or hieroglyph,—
Which one fact frees us from the yoke
Of guessing why He never spoke.
You come back in no better plight
Than when you left us,—am I right?

VI.
So the old process, I conclude,
Goes on, the reasoning’s pursued
Further. You own. “’Tis well averred,
“A scientific faith’s absurd,
“—Frustrates the very end ’twas meant
“To serve: so I would rest content
“With a mere probability,
“But, probable; the chance must lie
“Clear on one side,—lie all in rough,
“So long as there is just enough
“To pin my faith to, though it hap
“Only at points: from gap to gap
“One hangs up a huge curtain so,
“Grandly, nor seeks to have it go
“Foldless and flat along the wall:
“—What care I that some interval
Of life less plainly might depend
“On God? I’d hang there to the end;
“And thus I should not find it hard
“To be a Christian and debarred
“From trailing on the earth, till furled
“Away by death!—Renounce the world?
Were that a mighty hardship? Plan
“A pleasant life, and straight some man
“Beside you, with, if he thought fit,
“Abundant means to compass it,
“Shall turn deliberate aside
“To try and live as, if you tried
“You clearly might, yet most despise.
“One friend of mine wears out his eyes,
“Slighting the stupid joys of sense,
“In patient hope that, ten years hence,
“Somewhat completer he may see
“His list of lepidopteræ:
“While just the other who most laughs
“At him, above all epitaphs
“Aspires to have his tomb describe
“Himself as Sole among the tribe
Of snuffbox-fanciers, who possessed
“A Grignon with the Regent’s crest.
“So that, subduing as you want,
“Whatever stands predominant
“Among my earthly appetites
“For tastes, and smells, and sounds, and sights,
“I shall be doing that alone,
“To gain a palm-branch and a throne,
Which fifty people undertake
“To do, and gladly, for the sake
Of giving a Semitic guess,
“Or playing pawns at blindfold chess.”

VII.
Good! and the next thing is,—look round
For evidence enough. ’Tis found,
No doubt: as is your sort of mind,
So is your sort of search—you’ll find
What you desire, and that’s to be
A Christian: what says History?
How comforting a point it were
To find some mummy-scrap declare
There lived a Moses! Better still,
Prove Jonah’s whale translatable
Into some quicksand of the seas,
Isle, cavern, rock, or what you please,
That Faith might clap her wings and crow
From such an eminence! Or, no—
The Human Heart’s best; you prefer
Making that prove the minister
To truth; you probe its wants and needs
And hopes and fears, then try what creeds
Meet these most aptly,—resolute
That Faith plucks such substantial fruit
Wherever these two correspond,
She little needs to look beyond,
To puzzle out what Orpheus was,
Or Dionysius Zagrias.
You’ll find sufficient, as I say,
To satisfy you either way.
You wanted to believe; your pains
Are crowned—you do: and what remains?
Renounce the world!—Ah, were it done
By merely cutting one by one
Your limbs off, with your wise head last,
How easy were it!—how soon past,
If once in the believing mood!
Such is man’s usual gratitude,
Such thanks to God do we return,
For not exacting that we spurn
A single gift of life, forego
One real gain,—only taste them so
With gravity and temperance,
That those mild virtues may enhance
Such pleasures, rather than abstract—
Last spice of which, will be the fact
Of love discerned in every gift;
While, when the scene of life shall shift,
And the gay heart be taught to ache,
As sorrows and privations take
The place of joy,—the thing that seems
Mere misery, under human schemes,
Becomes, regarded by the light
Of Love, as very near, or quite
As good a gift as joy before.
So plain is it that all the more
God’s dispensation’s merciful,
More pettishly we try and cull
Briars, thistles, from our private plot,
To mar God’s ground where thorns are not!

VIII.
Do you say this, or I?—Oh, you!
Then, what, my friend,—(so I pursue
Our parley)—you indeed opine
That the Eternal and Divine
Did, eighteen centuries ago,
In very truth . . . Enough! you know
The all-stupendous tale,—that Birth,
That Life, that Death! And all, the earth
Shuddered at,—all, the heavens grew black
Rather than see; all, Nature’s rack
And throe at dissolution’s brink
Attested,—it took place, you think,
Only to give our joys a zest,
And prove our sorrows for the best?
We differ, then! Were I, still pale
And heartstruck at the dreadful tale,
Waiting to hear God’s voice declare
What horror followed for my share,
As implicated in the deed,
Apart from other sins,—concede
That if He blacked out in a blot
My brief life’s pleasantness, ’twere not
So very disproportionate!
Or there might be another fate—
I certainly could understand
(If fancies were the thing in hand)
How God might save, at that Day’s price,
The impure in their impurities,
Leave formal licence and complete
To choose the fair, and pick the sweet.
But there be certain words, broad, plain,
Uttered again and yet again,
Hard to mistake, to overgloss—
Announcing this world’s gain for loss,
And bidding us reject the same:
The whole world lieth (they proclaim)
In wickedness,—come out of it!—
Turn a deaf ear, if you think fit,
But I who thrill through every nerve
At thought of what deaf ears deserve,—
How do you counsel in the case?

IX.
“I’d take, by all means, in your place,
The safe side, since it so appears:
“Deny myself, a few brief years,
The natural pleasure, leave the fruit
“Or cut the plant up by the root.
“Remember what a martyr said
“On the rude tablet overhead—
“‘I was born sickly, poor and mean,
“‘A slave: no misery could screen
“‘The holders of the pearl of price
“‘From Cæsar’s envy; therefore twice
“‘I fought with beasts, and three times saw
“‘My children suffer by his law—
“‘At last my own release was earned:
“‘I was some time in being burned,
“‘But at the close a Hand came through
“‘The fire above my head, and drew
“‘My soul to Christ, whom now I see.
“‘Sergius, a brother, writes for me
“‘This testimony on the wall—
“‘For me, I have forgot it all.’
“You say right; this were not so hard!
“And since one nowise is debarred
“From this, why not escape some sins
“By such a method?”

X.
—Then begins
To the old point, revulsion new—
(For ’tis just this, I bring you to)
If after all we should mistake,
And so renounce life for the sake
Of death and nothing else? You hear
Our friends we jeered at, send the jeer
Back to ourselves with good effect—
‘There were my beetles to collect!’
‘My box—a trifle, I confess,
‘But here I hold it, ne’ertheless!’
Poor idiots, (let us pluck up heart
And answer) we, the better part
Have chosen, though ’twere only hope,—
Nor envy moles like you that grope
Amid your veritable muck,
More than the grasshoppers would truck,
For yours, their passionate life away,
That spends itself in leaps all day
To reach the sun, you want the eyes
To see, as they the wings to rise
And match the noble hearts of them!
So, the contemner we contemn,—
And, when doubt strikes us, so, we ward
Its stroke off, caught upon our guard,
—Not struck enough to overturn
Our faith, but shake it—make us learn
What I began with, and, I wis,
End, having proved,—how hard it is
To be a Christian!

XI.
“Proved, or not,
“Howe’er you wis, small thanks, I wot,
“You get of mine, for taking pains
“To make it hard to me. Who gains
“By that, I wonder? Here I live
“In trusting ease; and do you drive
“At causing me to lose what most
“Yourself would mourn for when ’twas lost?”

XII.
But, do you see, my friend, that thus
You leave St. Paul for Æschylus?—
—Who made his Titan’s arch-device
The giving men blind hopes to spice
The meal of life with, else devoured
In bitter haste, while lo! Death loured
Before them at the platter’s edge!
If faith should be, as we allege,
Quite other than a condiment
To heighten flavors with, or meant
(Like that brave curry of his Grace)
To take at need the victuals’ place?
If having dined you would digest
Besides, and turning to your rest
Should find instead . . .

XIII.
Now, you shall see
And judge if a mere foppery
Pricks on my speaking! I resolve
To utter . . . yes, it shall devolve
On you to hear as solemn, strange
And dread a thing as in the range
Of facts,—or fancies, if God will—
E’er happened to our kind! I still
Stand in the cloud, and while it wraps
My face, ought not to speak, perhaps;
Seeing that as I carry through
My purpose, if my words in you
Find veritable listeners,
My story, reason’s self avers
Must needs be false—the happy chance!
While, if each human countenance
I meet in London streets all day,
Be what I fear,—my warnings fray
No one, and no one they convert,
And no one helps me to assert
How hard it is to really be
A Christian, and in vacancy
I pour this story!

XIV.
I commence
By trying to inform you, whence
It comes that every Easter-night
As now, I sit up, watch, till light
Shall break, those chimney-stacks and roofs
Give, through my window-pane, grey proofs
That Easter-day is breaking slow.
On such a night, three years ago,
It chanced that I had cause to cross
The common, where the chapel was,
Our friend spoke of, the other day—
You’ve not forgotten, I dare say.
I fell to musing of the time
So close, the blessed matin-prime
All hearts leap up at, in some guise—
One could not well do otherwise.
Insensibly my thoughts were bent
Toward the main point; I overwent
Much the same ground of reasoning
As you and I just now: one thing
Remained, however—one that tasked
My soul to answer; and I asked,
Fairly and frankly, what might be
That History, that Faith, to me—
—Me there—not me, in some domain
Built up and peopled by my brain,
Weighing its merits as one weighs
Mere theories for blame or praise,
The Kingcraft of the Lucumons,
Or Fourier’s scheme, its pros and cons,—
But as my faith, or none at all.
‘How were my case, now, should I fall
‘Dead here, this minute—do I lie
‘Faithful or faithless?’—Note that I
Inclined thus ever!—little prone
For instance, when I slept alone
In childhood, to go calm to sleep
And leave a closet where might keep
His watch perdue some murderer
Waiting till twelve o’clock to stir,
As good, authentic legends tell
He might—‘But how improbable!
‘How little likely to deserve
The pains and trial to the nerve
Of thrusting head into the dark,’—
Urged my old nurse, and bade me mark
Besides, that, should the dreadful scout
Really lie hid there, to leap out
At first turn of the rusty key,
It were small gain that she could see
In being killed upon the floor
And losing one night’s sleep the more.
I tell you, I would always burst
The door ope, know my fate at first.—
This time, indeed, the closet penned
No such assassin: but a friend
Rather, peeped out to guard me, fit
For counsel, Common Sense, to-wit,
Who said a good deal that might pass,—
Heartening, impartial too, it was,
Judge else: ‘For, soberly now,—who
‘Should be a Christian if not you?’
(Hear how he smoothed me down). ‘One takes
‘A whole life, sees what course it makes
‘Mainly, and not by fits and starts—
‘In spite of stoppage which imparts
‘Fresh value to the general speed:
‘A life, with none, would fly indeed:
‘Your progressing is slower-right!
‘We deal with progressing, not flight.
‘Through baffling senses passionate,
‘Fancies as restless,—with a freight
Of knowledge cumbersome enough
‘To sink your ship when waves grow rough,
‘Not serve as ballast in the hold,
‘I find, ’mid dangers manifold,
The good bark answers to the helm
‘Where Faith sits, easier to o’erwhelm
‘Than some stout peasant’s heavenly guide,
‘Whose hard head could not, if it tried,
‘Conceive a doubt, or understand
‘How senses hornier than his hand
‘Should ’tice the Christian off, his guard—
‘More happy! But shall we award
‘Less honour to the hull, which, dogged
‘By storms, a mere wreck, waterlogged,
‘Masts by the board, and bulwarks gone,
‘And stanchions going, yet bears on,—
‘Than to mere life-boats, built to save,
‘And triumph o’er the breaking wave?
‘Make perfect your good ship as these,
‘And what were her performances!’
I added—‘Would the ship reached home!
‘I wish indeed “God’s kingdom come—”
The day when I shall see appear
‘His bidding, as my duty, clear
‘From doubt! And it shall dawn, that day,
‘Some future season; Easter may
‘Prove, not impossibly, the time—
‘Yes, that were striking—fates would chime
‘So aptly! Easter-morn, to bring
The Judgment!—deeper in the Spring
‘Than now, however, when there’s snow
‘Capping the hills; for earth must show
‘All signs of meaning to pursue
‘Her tasks as she was wont to do—
‘—The lark, as taken by surprise
‘As we ourselves, shall recognise
‘Sudden the end: for suddenly
‘It comes—the dreadfulness must be
‘In that—all warrants the belief—
‘“At night it cometh like a thief.”
‘I fancy why the trumpet blows;
‘—Plainly, to wake one. From repose
‘We shall start up, at last awake
‘From life, that insane dream we take
‘For waking now, because it seems.
‘And as, when now we wake from dreams,
‘We say, while we recall them, “Fool,
‘“To let the chance slip, linger cool
‘“When such adventure offered! Just
‘“A bridge to cross, a dwarf to thrust
‘“Aside, a wicked mage to stab—
‘“And, lo ye, I had kissed Queen Mab,”—
‘So shall we marvel why we grudged
‘Our labours here, and idly judged
Of Heaven, we might have gained, but lose!
‘Lose? Talk of loss, and I refuse
‘To plead at all! I speak no worse
‘Nor better than my ancient nurse
‘When she would tell me in my youth
‘I well deserved that shapes uncouth
‘Should fright and tease me in my sleep—
‘Why did I not in memory keep
‘Her precept for the evil’s cure?
‘“Pinch your own arm, boy, and be sure
‘“You’ll wake forthwith!”’

XV.
And as I said
This nonsense, throwing back my head
With light complacent laugh, I found
Suddenly all the midnight round
One fire. The dome of Heaven had stood
As made up of a multitude
Of handbreadth cloudlets, one vast rack
Of ripples infinite and black,
From sky to sky. Sudden there went,
Like horror and astonishment,
A fierce vindictive scribble of red
Quick flame across, as if one said
(The angry scribe of Judgment) ‘There—
‘Burn it!’ And straight I was aware
That the whole ribwork round, minute
Cloud touching cloud beyond compute,
Was tinted each with its own spot
Of burning at the core, till clot
Jammed against clot, and spilt its fire
Over all heaven, which ’gan suspire
As fanned to measure equable,—
As when great conflagrations kill
Night overhead, and rise and sink,
Reflected. Now the fire would shrink
And wither oft the blasted face
Of heaven, and I distinct could trace
The sharp black ridgy outlines left
Unburned like network—then, each cleft
The fire had been sucked back into,
Regorged, and out it surging flew
Furiously, and night writhed inflamed,
Till, tolerating to be tamed
No longer, certain rays world-wide
Shot downwardly, on every side,
Caught past escape; the earth was lit;
As if a dragon’s nostril split
And all his famished ire o’erflowed;
Then, as he winced at his Lord’s goad,
Back he inhaled: whereat I found
The clouds into vast pillars bound,
Based on the corners of the earth,
Propping the skies at top: a dearth
Of fire i’ the violet intervals,
Leaving exposed the utmost walls
Of time, about to tumble in
And end the world.

XVI.
I felt begin
The Judgment-Day: to retrocede
Was too late now.—‘In very deed,
(I uttered to myself) ‘that Day!’
The intuition burned away
All darkness from my spirit too—
There, stood I, found and fixed, I knew,
Choosing the world. The choice was made—
And naked and disguiseless stayed,
An unevadeable, the fact.
My brain held ne’ertheless compact
Its senses, nor my heart declined
Its office—rather, both combined
To help me in this juncture—I
Lost not a second,—agony
Gave boldness: there, my life had end
And my choice with it—best defend,
Applaud them! I resolved to say,
So was I framed by Thee, this way
‘I put to use Thy senses here!
‘It was so beautiful, so near,
‘Thy world,—what could I do but choose
‘My part there? Nor did I refuse
‘To look above the transient boon
‘In time—but it was hard so soon
‘As in a short life, to give up
‘Such beauty: I had put the cup
‘Undrained of half its fullness, by;
‘But, to renounce it utterly,
‘—That was too hard! Nor did the Cry
Which bade renounce it, touch my brain
‘Authentically deep and plain
‘Enough, to make my lips let go.
‘But Thou, who knowest all, dost know
‘Whether I was not, life’s brief while,
‘Endeavouring to reconcile
‘Those lips—too tardily, alas!
‘To letting the dear remnant pass,
‘One day,—some drops of earthly good
‘Untasted! Is it for this mood,
‘That Thou, whose earth delights so well,
‘Has made its complement a Hell?

XVII.
A final belch of fire like blood,
Overbroke all, next, in one flood
Of doom. Then fire was sky, and sky
Was fire, and both, one extasy,
Then ashes. But I heard no noise
(Whatever was) because a Voice
Beside me spoke thus, “All is done,
“Time end’s, Eternity’s begun,
“And thou art judged for evermore!”

XVIII.
I looked up; all was as before;
Of that cloud-Tophet overhead,
No trace was left: I saw instead
The common round me, and the sky
Above, stretched drear and emptily
Of life: ’twas the last watch of night,
Except what brings the morning quite,
When the armed angel, conscience-clear
His task nigh done, leans o’er his spear
And gazes on the earth he guards,
Safe one night more through all its wards,
Till God relieve him at his post.
‘A dream—a waking dream at most!’
(I spoke out quick that I might shake
The horrid nightmare off, and wake.)
The world’s gone, yet the world is here?
‘Are not all things as they appear?
‘Is Judgment past for me alone?
‘—And where had place the Great White Throne?
The rising of the Quick and Dead?
‘Where stood they, small and great? Who read
The sentence from the Opened Book?’
So, by degrees, the blood forsook
My heart, and let it beat afresh:
I knew I should break through the mesh
Of horror, and breathe presently—
When, lo, again, the Voice by me!

XIX.
I saw . . . Oh, brother, ’mid far sands
The palm-tree-cinctured city stands,—
Bright-white beneath, as Heaven, bright-blue,
Above it, while the years pursue
Their course, unable to abate
Its paradisal laugh at fate:
One morn,—the Arab staggers blind
O’er a new tract of death, calcined
To ashes, silence, nothingness,—
Striving, with dizzy wits, to guess
Whence fell the blow: what if, ’twixt skies
And prostrate earth, he should surprise
The imaged Vapour, head to foot.
Surveying, motionless and mute,
Its work, ere, in a whirlwind rapt,
It vanish up again?—So hapt
My chance. HE stood there. Like the smoke
Pillared o’er Sodom, when day broke,—
I saw Him. One magnific pall
Mantled in massive fold and fall
His Dread, and coiled in snaky swathes
About His feet: night’s black, that bathes
All else, broke, grizzled with despair,
Against the soul of blackness there.
A gesture told the mood within—
That wrapped right hand which based the chin,—
That intense meditation fixed
On His procedure,—pity mixed
With the fulfilment of decree.
Motionless, thus, He spoke to me,
Who fell before His feet, a mass,
No man now.

XX.
“All is come to pass.
“Such shows are over for each soul
“They had respect to. In the roll
Of Judgment which convinced mankind
Of sin, stood many, bold and blind,
“Terror must burn the truth into:
“Their fate for them!—thou had’st to do
“With absolute omnipotence,
“Able its judgments to dispense
“To the whole race, as every one
Were its sole object: that is done:
“God is, thou art,—the rest is hurled
“To nothingness for thee. This world,
“This finite life, thou hast preferred,
“In disbelief of God’s own word,
“To Heaven and to Infinity.
“Here, the probation was for thee,
“To show thy soul the earthly mixed
“With Heavenly, it must choose betwixt.
The earthly joys lay palpable,—
“A taint, in each, distinct as well;
The Heavenly flitted, faint and rare,
“Above them, but as truly were
“Taintless, so in their nature, best.
“Thy choice was earth: thou didst attest
“Twas fitter spirit should subserve
The flesh, than flesh refine to nerve
“Beneath the spirit’s play. Advance
“No claim to their inheritance
“Who chose the spirit’s fugitive
“Brief gleams, and thought, ‘This were to live
“‘Indeed, if rays, completely pure
“‘From flesh that dulls them, should endure,—
““Not shoot in meteor-light athwart
“‘Our earth, to show how cold and swart
“‘It lies beneath their fire, but stand
“‘As stars should, destined to expand,
“‘Prove veritable worlds, our home!’
“Thou said’st,—‘Let Spirit star the dome
“‘Of sky, that flesh may miss no peak,
“‘No nook of earth,—I shall not seek
“‘Its service further!’ Thou art shut
“Out of the Heaven of Spirit; glut
“Thy sense upon the world: ’tis thine
“For ever—take it!”

XXI.
‘How? Is mine,
The world?’ (I cried, while my soul broke
Out in a transport) ‘Hast thou spoke
‘Plainly in that? Earth’s exquisite
‘Treasures of wonder and delight,
‘For me?’

XXII.
The austere Voice returned,—
“So soon made happy? Hadst thou learned
“What God accounteth happiness,
“Thou wouldst not find it hard to guess
“What Hell may be His punishment
“For those who doubt if God invent
“Better than they. Let such men rest
“Content with what they judged the best.
“Let the Unjust usurp at will:
The Filthy shall be filthy still:
“Miser, there waits the gold for thee!
“Hater, indulge thine enmity!
“And thou, whose heaven, self-ordained,
“Was to enjoy earth unrestrained,
“Do it! Take all the ancient show!
The woods shall wave, the rivers flow,
“And men apparently pursue
“Their works, as they were wont to do,
“While living in probation yet:
“I promise not thou shalt forget
The past, now gone to its account,
“But leave thee with the old amount
Of faculties, nor less nor more,
“Unvisited, as heretofore,
“By God’s free spirit, that makes an end.
“So, once more, take thy world; expend
“Eternity upon its shows,—
“Flung thee as freely as one rose
“Out of a summer’s opulence,
“Over the Eden-barrier whence
“Thou art excluded, Knock in vain!”

XXIII.
I sate up. All was still again.
I breathed free: to my heart, back fled
The warmth. ‘But, all the world!’ (I said)
I stooped and picked a leaf of fern,
And recollected I might learn
From books, how many myriad sorts
Exist, if one may trust reports,
Each as distinct and beautiful
As this, the very first I cull.
Think, from the first leaf to the last!
Conceive, then, earth’s resources! Vast
Exhaustless beauty, endless change
Of wonder! and this foot shall range
Alps, Andes,—and this eye devour
The bee-bird and the aloe-flower?

XXIV.
And the Voice, “Welcome so to rate
The arras-folds that variegate
The earth, God’s antechamber, well!
The wise, who waited there, could tell
“By these, what royalties in store
“Lay one step past the entrance-door.
“For whom, was reckoned, not too much,
“This life’s munificence? For such
“As thou,—a race, whereof not one
“Was able, in a million,
“To feel that any marvel lay
“In objects round his feet all day;
“Nor one, in many millions more,
“Willing, if able, to explore
The secreter, minuter charm!
“—Brave souls, a fern-leaf could disarm
Of power to cope with God’s intent,—
“Or scared if the South Firmament
“With North-fire did its wings refledge!
“All partial beauty was a pledge
Of beauty in its plenitude:
“But since the pledge sufficed thy mood,
“Retain it—plenitude be theirs
“Who looked above!”

XXV.
Though sharp despairs
Shot through me, I held up, bore on.
‘What is it though my trust is gone
‘From natural things? Henceforth my part
‘Be less with Nature than with Art!
‘For Art supplants, gives mainly worth
‘To Nature; ’tis Man stamps the earth—
‘And I will seek his impress, seek
The statuary of the Greek,
‘Italy’s painting—there my choice
‘Shall fix!’

XXVI.
“Obtain it,” said the Voice.
The one form with its single act,
Which sculptors laboured to abstract,
The one face, painters tried to draw,
“With its one look, from throngs they saw!
“And that perfection in their soul,
“These only hinted at? The whole,
“They were but parts of? What each laid
“His claim to glory on?—afraid
“His fellow-men should give him rank
“By the poor tentatives he shrank
“Smitten at heart from, all the more,
“That gazers pressed in to adore!
“‘Shall I be judged by only these?’
“If such his soul’s capacities,
“Even while he trod the earth,—think, now
“What pomp in Buonarotti’s brow,
“With its new palace-brain where dwells
“Superb the soul, unvexed by cells
“That crumbled with the transient clay!
“What visions will his right hand’s sway
“Still turn to form, as still they burst
“Upon him? How will he quench thirst,
“Titanically infantine,
“Laid at the breast of the Divine?
“Does it confound thee,—this first page
“Emblazoning man’s heritage?—
“Can this alone absorb thy sight,
“As if they were not infinite,—
“Like the omnipotence which tasks
“Itself, to furnish all that asks
The soul it means to satiate?
“What was the world, the starry state
Of the broad skies,—what, all displays
Of power and beauty intermixed,
Which now thy soul is chained betwixt,—
“What, else, than needful furniture
“For life’s first stage? God’s work, be sure,
“No more spreads wasted, than falls scant:
“He filled, did not exceed, Man’s want
Of beauty in this life. And pass
“Life’s line,—and what has earth to do,
“Its utmost beauty’s appanage,
“With the requirements of next stage?
“Did God pronounce earth ‘very good’?
“Needs must it be, while understood
“For man’s preparatory state;
“Nothing to heighten nor abate:
“But transfer the completeness here,
“To serve a new state’s use,—and drear
“Deficiency gapes every side!
The good, tried once, were bad, retried.
“See the enwrapping rocky niche,
“Sufficient for the sleep, in which
The lizard breathes for ages safe:
“Split the mould—and as this would chafe
The creature’s new world-widened sense,
“One minute after you dispense
The thousand sounds and sights that broke
“In, on him, at the chisel’s stroke,—
“So, in God’s eyes, the earth’s first stuff
“Was, neither more nor less, enough
“To house man’s soul, man’s need fulfil.
“You reckoned it immeasurable:
“So thinks the lizard of his vault!
“Could God be taken in default,
“Short of contrivances, by you,—
“Or reached, ere ready to pursue
“His progress through eternity?
“That chambered rock, the lizard’s world,
“Your easy mallet’s blow has hurled
“To nothingness for ever; so,
“Has God abolished at a blow
“This world, wherein his saints were pent,—
“Who, though, found grateful and content,
“With the provision there, as thou,
“Yet knew He would not disallow
“Their spirit’s hunger, felt as well,—
“Unsated,—not unsatable,
“As Paradise gives proof. Deride
“Their choice now, thou who sit’st outside!”

XXVII.
I cried in anguish, ‘Mind, the mind,
‘So miserably cast behind,
‘To gain what had been wisely lost!
‘Oh, let me strive to make the most
Of the poor stinted soul, I nipped
Of budding wings, else well equipt
‘For voyage from summer isle to isle!
‘And though she needs must reconcile
‘Ambition to the life on ground,
‘Still, I can profit by late found
‘But precious knowledge. Mind is best—
‘I will seize mind, forego the rest
‘And try how far my tethered strength
‘May crawl in this poor breadth and length.
‘—Let me, since I can fly no more,
‘At least spin dervish-like about
‘(Till giddy rapture almost doubt
‘I fly) through circling sciences,
‘Philosophies and histories!
‘Should the whirl slacken there, then Verse,
‘Fining to music, shall asperse
‘Fresh and fresh fire-dew, till I strain
‘Intoxicate, half-break my chain!
‘Not joyless, though more favoured feet
‘Stand calm, where I want wings to beat
The floor? At least earth’s bond is broke!”

XXVIII.
Then, (sickening even while I spoke
‘Let me alone! No answer, pray,
‘To this! I know what Thou wilt say
‘All still is earth’s,—to Know, as much
‘As Feel its truths, which if we touch
‘With sense or apprehend in soul,
‘What matter? I have reached the goal—
‘“Whereto does Knowledge serve!” will burn
‘My eyes, too sure, at every turn!
‘I cannot look back now, nor stake
‘Bliss on the race, for running’s sake.
The goal’s a ruin like the rest!’—
—“And so much worse thy latter quest,
(Added the Voice) “that even on earth
“Whenever, in man’s soul, had birth
“Those intuitions, grasps of guess,
“That pull the more into the less,
“Making the finite comprehend
“Infinity, the bard would spend
“Such praise alone, upon his craft,
“As, when wind-lyres obey the waft,
“Goes to the craftsman who arranged
The seven strings, changed them and rechanged—
“Knowing it was the South that harped.
“He felt his song, in singing, warped,
“Distinguished his and God’s part: whence
“A world of spirit as of sense
“Was plain to him, yet not too plain,
Which he could traverse, not remain
“A guest in:—else were permanent
“Heaven upon earth, its gleams were meant
“To sting with hunger for the light,—
“Made visible in Verse, despite
The veiling weakness,-truth by means
Of fable, showing while it screens,—
“Since highest truth, man e’er supplied,
“Was ever fable on outside.
“Such gleams made bright the earth an age;
“Now, the whole sum’s his heritage!
“Take up thy world, it is allowed,
“Thou who hast entered in the cloud!

XXIX.
Then I—‘Behold, my spirit bleeds,
‘Catches no more at broken reeds,—
‘But lilies flower those reeds above—
‘I let the world go, and take love!
‘Love survives in me, albeit those
‘I loved are henceforth masks and shows,
‘Not loving men and women: still
‘I mind how love repaired all ill,
‘Cured wrong, soothed grief, made earth amends
‘With parents, brothers, children, friends!
‘Some semblance of a woman yet
‘With eyes to help me to forget,
‘Shall live with me; and I will match
‘Departed love with love, attach
‘Its fragments to my whole, nor scorn
‘Tho poorest of the grains of corn
‘I save from shipwreck on this isle,
‘Trusting its barrenness may smile
‘With happy foodful green one day,
‘More precious for the pains. I pray,
‘For love, then, only!’

XXX.
At the word,
The Form, I looked to have been stirred
With pity and approval, rose
O’er me, as when the headsman throws
Axe over shoulder to make end—
I fell prone, letting Him expend
His wrath, while, thus, the inflicting Voice
Smote me. “Is this thy final choice?
Love is the best? ’Tis somewhat late!
“And all thou dost enumerate
Of power and beauty in the world,
The mightiness of love was curled
“Inextricably round about.
“Love lay within it and without,
“To clasp thee,—but in vain! Thy soul
“Still shrunk from Him who made the whole,
“Still set deliberate aside
“His love!—Now take love! Well betide
“Thy tardy conscience! Haste to take
The show of love for the name’s sake,
“Remembering every moment Who
“Reside creating thee unto
“These ends, and these for thee, was said
“To undergo death in thy stead
“In flesh like thine: so ran the tale.
“What doubt in thee could countervail
“Belief in it? Upon the ground
“‘That in the story had been found
“‘Too much love? How could God love so?’
“He who in all his works below
“Adapted to the needs of man,
“Made love the basis of the plan,—
“Did love, as was demonstrated:
“While man, who was so fit instead,
“To hate, as every day gave proof,—
“You thought man, for his kind’s behoof,
“Both could and would invent that scheme
Of perfect love—’twould well beseem
“Cain’s nature thou wast wont to praise,
“Not tally with God’s usual ways!”

XXXI.
And I cowered deprecatingly—
‘Thou Love of God! Or let me die,
‘Or grant what shall seem Heaven almost!
‘Let me not know that all is lost,
‘Though lost it be—leave me not tied
‘To this despair, this corpse-like bride!
‘Let that old life seem mine—no more—
‘With limitation as before,
‘With darkness, hunger, toil, distress:
‘Be all the earth a wilderness!
‘Only let me go on, go on,
‘Still hoping ever and anon
‘To reach one eve the Better Land!’

XXXII.
Then did the Form expand, expand—
I knew Him through the dread disguise,
As the whole God within his eyes
Embraced me.

XXXIII.
When I lived again,
The day was breaking,—the grey plain
I rose from, silvered thick with dew.
Was this a vision? False or true?
Since then, three varied years are spent,
And commonly my mind is bent
To think it was a dream—be sure
A mere dream and distemperature—
The last day’s watching: then the night,—
The shock of that strange Northern Light
Set my head swimming, bred in me
A dream. And so I live, you see,
Go through the world, try, prove, reject,
Prefer, still struggling to effect
My warfare; happy that I can
Be crossed and thwarted as a man,
Not left in God’s contempt apart,
With ghastly smooth life, dead at heart,
Tame in earth’s paddock as her prize.
Thank God she still each method tries
To catch me, who may yet escape,
She knows, the fiend in angel’s shape!
Thank God, no paradise stands barred
To entry, and I find it hard
To be a Christian, as I said!
Still every now and then my head
Raised glad, sinks mournful—all grows drear
Spite of the sunshine, while I fear
And think, ‘How dreadful to be grudged
‘No ease henceforth, as one that’s judged,
‘Condemned to earth for ever, shut
‘From Heaven’ . .
But Easter-Day breaks! But
Christ rises! Mercy every way
Is infinite,—and who can say?

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Please Put Off Your Clothes

I will memorize
Even all your beauty spots
Please put off your clothes

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How I Wish I Were The Rain

Avoiding me
You get wet
In the rain
Under the tree
At the foot
Of the hill

How I wish
I were the
Rain
The tree
And the foot
Of the hill

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R.K. On Death

Take death for example.
A great deal of our effort goes into avoiding it.
We make extraordinary efforts to delay it,
and often consider its intrusion as
a tragic event. Yet we'd find it hard to
live without it. Death gives meaning
to our lives; it gives importance and
value to time. Time would become
meaningless if there were too much of it.
If death were indefinitely put off, the human
psyche would end up well, like the gambler in
the Twilight Zone episode.

song performed by Our Lady PeaceReport problemRelated quotes
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The rain

Three in the morning
Of the next day
Sleep gave way
To the sounds of rain
The rain makes many sounds

Outside my window
The rained echoed
As it bounced off
The metal down spout
It makes an empty hollow sound
Sweetly permeating in my room

Reminding me of you
The first time we met
My dear lady
We were caught
In a warm down pour
Of the rain

Today I will see you again
I lay here thinking patiently
Seeing the streaks light
Of the early morning hours
When all seems to be at rest
With quietness and solitude
Now Interrupted by the rain

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and the Rain

and the rain came
sprinkled on my window pain
came to touch my heart again
when I met you

You were there babe
clutching at my soul again
hoping you could be my friend
and I love you

Rain, rain
come again another day
go and give your dance a play
but far away from me

Rain, rain
come and see the garden grow
come and dance, put on your show
your two-faced way

She was all I hoped for me
she was all, she made me me
until you came
I’m not the same

Now look and see the flowers grow
through wind and rain and sleet and snow
but this I know, that you will pass
just tell me when, that will you pass

But pass you will, and all will see
the sun will show a brand new me
the rain will stop, and I’ll be free
I’ll start my way, a brand new day

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Shelter From The Rain

When our hearts were young
We put our hands into the flames
Felt the heat from our emotions
We had fire in our veins
All those night wed spend
Alone in your room
Though my silent thoughts
I still remember
We would use the power of love
Free our souls in endless love
We would sacrifice
Our hopes and dreams
Because without love
Our world would surely die
When our hearts were young
We never thought that
Life would change
Now the seasons go on
Oh why do we shelter from the rain
And all those nights wed spend
Alone in your room
Through my silent thoughts
I still remember
When our hearts were young
We had fire in our veins
And each time we touched
Wed melt in the flames
When our hearts were young
We knew pleasure, we knew plain
But each time we kissed
Wed burn in the flames
Feel the fire in our veins
When our hearts were young ...

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Hold Back The Rain

Were miles away from nowhere
And the wind doesnt have a name
So call it what you want to call it
Still blows down the lane
People tell me, I havent changed at all
But I dont feel the same
And I bet youve had that feeling too
You just cant laugh all the time
And if the fires burn out theres only fire to blame
(hold back the rain)
No time for worry cause were on the roam again.
(hold back the rain)
The clouds all scatter and we ride the outside lane
(hold back the rain)
Not on your own so help me please.. hold back the rain
-
So what if the words aint rhyming
Did you think that its just a game
I probably didnt even say that right
And I really dont give a damn
Okay go off and wander
Im guilty just the same
Sometimes youre needed badly
So please come back again
(chorus)
-
And if the stars burn out, theirs only fire to blame
(hold back the rain)
No time for worry cause were on the roam again.
(hold back the rain)
The clouds all scatter and we ride the outside lane
(hold back the rain)
Not on your own so help me please.. hold back the rain
Hold back the rain
Hold back the rain
Hold back the rain
Hold back the rain
Hold back the rain
Hold back the rain
Hold back the rain
Hold back the rain
(repeated..)

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Saddle In The Rain

I wish, I hope, I wonder
Where youre at sometimes
Is your back against the wall?
Or just across the line
Have you been standing in the rain
Reciting nursery rhymes?
Trying to recall
Some long lost kind of peace of mind
Peace of mind
Try spending the night sometime
All alone in a frozen room
Afterneath youve lain
Your saddle in the rain
I dreamed they locked God up
Down in my basement
And he waited there for me
To have this accident
So he could drink my wine
And eat me like a sacrament
And I just stood there like I do
Then I came and went
I came and went
Like a bird in a foreign sky
Couldnt even say good bye
Or come and share the pain
My saddles in the rain
I saw a friend who doesnt know
If Im his friend just yet
His eyes and mouth were widely open
And his jaw was set
Like hed fell off a cliff
And hadnt hit the bottom yet
I wish he wouldnt pull those things on me
Without a net
Without a net
I had him up to the house one time
And we was having a real good time
Then he went and lain
His saddle in the rain
In a laundromat not too far
From the alamo
Sits a girl who stole my records
Very long ago
And she wishes, wants and washes
Out those dirty clothes
As she shuts her eyes and dreams
About her one eyed joe
One eyed joe
Car parked on a dirty road
Heaven knows the load she pulled
Couldnt take the strain
A saddle in the rain

song performed by John PrineReport problemRelated quotes
Added by Lucian Velea
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