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When You Are Lost You Are Not Alone

the tension lies in isolation
when you take things all alone
and there is no knowing that out there
when you are lost
and so preoccupied with the fear of being lost

with a little light
even a flicker
you could have seen a hundred or more
faces looking for themselves
you could have known
that there are too many of us

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The Reason Why The Stars Are Too Many

the stars are too many
each of us shall have one
there shall be no regret
the sky is too wide
the stars glitter and each
hand must take the share
i have mine and you shall have
yours too, well, maybe,
not at the same time, but
at the right season for the
right person, soon, soon, soon.

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Since You Are Too Human....

there are always choices
we are born to these oceans of choices
wave upon wave
we travel to choose
then we land and take feet
upon the sands
into the gardens
on rocks
and rivers
to the heavens we take the shape of clouds
and rain
for we have learned
this art to evolve

now tell me who owns us?
tell yourself that, we cannot hear you
you are too human
and earthbound
you are stuck on the chains of your
self-defined treasures
that finally bury all your bones

soon we shall turn back at you
dusts, all dusts that we blow and scatter
to all the rivers

if you remember leaves,
you shall remember us...

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The Fear Of Being Alone

(walt aldridge, bruce miller)
We ordered up one more bottle of wine
You told me your story and I thought about mine
You said when you lost her you lost everything
It all started having a familiar ring
So I asked you to take me some place quiet
We wound up at the river for the rest of the night
Somewhere around the break of day
I could hear it coming from a mile away
Chorus:
So dont say that word
Not the one we both heard too much
You may think you do but you dont
Its just the fear of being alone
Reckless hearts can clear a path
Wider than a hurricanes aftermath
Weve both traveled down that road
Where in the name of love anything goes
Like a child in the night
With no one to hold you
And tell you everythings gonna be all right
I must admit its been fun
But thats no reason to jump the gun
If this is real time will tell
So let me bite my tongue and remind myself

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The Answers Are Too Many To Be Said

i must tell you
about this trip

do not ask about
what's next

look behind us
they already burned the bridge

look over there
the house where we
live
cannot be seen anymore

do not ask where
is next

i am not sad
there are so many reasons
for excitement

you see
we have no more of that past

it is the bridge and the house
we do not need them

you see
we have so many places to go

the mind is our own
companion
creator

and imagination is
infinite

do not ask me
where we are going

the answers are too many
to be said

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You Are Too Smart For Me

You are too smart for me
Lady
When you shop
Because when you shop you shop for the bargains
And
I can see that you love bargains

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Patrick White

Firefly, What Are You Looking For?

Firefly, what are you looking for
in every corner of the third eye of the world?
Are you looking for the missing children
of another realm who fell into this one
through the trapdoor of a lullaby
enigmatically enciphered in totemistic code?
Are you the star someone was following
like a spark plug that leaked out of their dreams,
a swan in an oilspill? Were you unhappy
with the constellation you fell from
like one of the crown jewels from Corona Borealis,
or are you just a vagrant like me, one
of those aligned to wandering as the next place
to shine a little light on, your life like a lantern in hand,
wondering what's been written under the leaves,
or under a bridge, that it takes a madman to understand
or it takes a whole tree to play the mystery of its cards
so far from its chest, when they'll all be scattered to the wind
like ancient starmaps and waterlilies soon.

Insight, synteretic spark, semaphoric lighthouse,
blackout and ignition, which phase of you
shines more intensely, the light or the dark?
Do you just have the one good eye, or two?
It would take someone just as lost at sea in their awareness
to get their bearings from you, as it would
to consult the compass of a flower like a waterclock
because time, when it's free, like light,
expands in all directions at once like tree rings
dilating the apples of their eyes in the rain,
surrounding the lore of their heartwood with growing pains.

Metaphor, glow worm, do you find what you seek,
are you a chandelier burning in the palace
of a mason jar after the last waltz has packed away its cellos,
a tear of the sun that shines at midnight
like a canary in an underground diamond mine
or do we share the same mind, one neuron in the net
reflecting the other, an effect of the optics of thought?
Intimate familiar, little prophet, rogue planet,
singularity at the bottom of a black hole,
are you looking at me, as I am you
like a thought on the outside, an underwater welder
trying to heal the damage done to the hull of the moon
crossing the Great Barrier Reef of the brain?

Wavelengths of water and light sway the river reeds,
silver the fallen limbs of the statuesque birch
that leaned out too far over the edge of the lake
to pluck the moon from the sky like an apricot.
I watch the cults and spiritual congregations of the fireflies
gather, shape and dissolve, each with its own flight path,
and I wonder if there's a shape-shifting constellation
that would cover us all under the roof of the same sign
like a zodiac of homeless exiles we all had the keys to
but didn't know where the locks were hidden
until we took off our starmaps like blindfolds.

No extinctions in the gentle meteor showers
of the fireflies, nor any discernible radiant,
for them or me or the universe, given
everyone embodies the whole of the Big Bang
in and of themselves, just as the New England asters do,
everyone shining for all their worth
through the translucency of their own space,
even when they're trying to hide from their own eyes,
like daylilies at night, or the gold of full moons
under eyelids of ore, under the overturned lifeboats
of their beached hope chests that have nothing
to look forward to anymore that isn't any further away
than the telescope they use on top of a cold mountain
to measure the wingspan of their dreams.

The light will out as if it couldn't keep itself a secret
from the darkness it illuminates with its own flowering.

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I Suspect You Are Free of Them

You wish to mention,
My flaws are faulted?
Yet somehow that motivates me...
To expose them even more!
Since I do not waste my time,
To find yours.
I suspect you are free of them?
Or you are too aware.
Hoping the degrading of others...
Impresses someone,
To believe you have none!
None you would dare to self examine.

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You Are Unforgettable

You remember the wedding?
And I was quick to say I do?
You remember the divorce?
And you were quick to say,
We were through.
I remember the heartbreak.
And you with someone new!
Now that you have been dumped...
You think of me as a garbage man too?
I have been a fool too many times!
Half of those times for you!
I suggest you forget about me.
But believe this...
You are unforgettable!

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Too Many Of You In One Body

there are too many of you in one body
in one truth
too many faces
jibing with different names in different places
at first you may deceive
and even create surprises
but there is a time for discoveries
islands have been given
their names
marked with specific numbers like some specimens
of stuffed cats and dogs
and preserved amphibians
in the bottles

and here you are again
enticing me with a

wow

on another assumed name
i know it is you
and for what reason you wear so many faces
and have taken so many hands and feet
and so many pairs of eyes

i cannot guess anymore
but this i can say
from the deepest chambers of my heart
i care
i also know how to love
and it does not matter even
if you are one of the thousand illusions in my life
despite

there is only one you in my life
and i know
you also care
you also love
and that is all enough

my dear

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When You Are Too Tired

the mind does not complain
if the socks and the shoes are still stuck
your toes without air keeps on breathing
in the darkness of your
early dreams

sleeps takes you with your clothes on
someone beside you
keeps company and in the middle of your
conversation
you do not remember if a kiss is planted
on your forehead or your hair
or your neck

or was it on your lips?
your eyes close
you do not mind if the lights are still waking

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Sometimes We Are Too Busy Despite The Free Time

along the white sands
on a sunny morning by the sea
i collect shells and
pebbles

there are too many of them
but only few are chosen
the only standard is that
'i like this' and there is no other more

and then you put all those few ones
in my pocket
and when i arrive at the cottage
i view them all atop the table

it is the viewing that keeps the mind busy
and so busy that it cannot listen
to each story that the pebble wants to tell
that the mouth of the shell wants
to say beautifully in a song

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The fear of being lowered

I don’t share my ignorance
With the people under me,
Like that I do with close friends.
I don’t praise the quality
Of the people under me
As I do to my well wishers.
I don’t share any secrets
With the people under me
As I do with my superiors.
Oh, what stands in between me
And the people under me
Other than the fear of
Losing the control of them?
03.02.2008

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I am looking for the Little Boy

I am looking for the Little Boy
Who liked to visit his grandparents at age 5

I am looking for the Little Boy
Who liked to go fishing with his father at age 15

I am looking for the Little Boy
Who became a Mortician at age 21

I am looking for the Little Boy
Who had 54 years of a happy marriage

I am looking for the Little Boy
Who is happily living at the Edgewood Vista

Who is the Little Boy
The Little Boy is me

January 12,2007, Clarence A. Graham, Jr.

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If That's the Path You Are Waiting to Have Cleared

Why have you chosen to climb over those boulders?
And walk your way through the forest,
Instead of following along a trail that has been paved? !

'I chose this as 'my' path!
I wanted to experience...
Those obstacles at my own expense.
To learn and observe as much as I could see.
Without taking it for granted,
I could take advantage of an easier way for me.

And I have no regrets.
How about you? '

I've been waiting now for awhile.
They have discovered an enormous amount of debris,
On my path.

Are you coming 'back' from distances?
Or are you moving along on a journey?

'Well...
I am moving forward,
Hopefully.
There was once a clear path.
I saw some folks on it.
If that's the path you are waiting to have cleared...
To visit or stay...
Or fellowship near.
Best wishes, my 'brutha'.
You got a long wait!

Back there...
Folks like to stay in debate,
As to who should do what...
To get things done!
You should go.

You'll be welcomed and caught up in it,
Before you know it!
That's why I long decided to do my own 'thing'!

Stopping to discuss what action to take...
Is not on my agenda!

Go! Or wait...
Or whatever it is you do!
They will love you!
And they will not believe,
Just how naïve you are! '

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Patrick White

I Wish Everyone In The World Were As Mad As You Are

I wish everyone in the world were as mad as you are.
I wish everyone in the world talked the same nonsense you do
and meant as much.
Stop crying.
I wish everyone in the world were as good as you are
and didn't lie to anyone else
other than themselves
about what the truth is.
You shape chaos to your mind
like light to space
to make a habitable planet you can live on
and if it isn't round sometimes
and O doesn't always cast the same shadow
that the others mimic with theirs
I wish everyone could put on your kind of airs
and be as good to life as the kind of atmosphere you are.
Come on now.
Here.
Dry your tears with this.
All those constellations you made up
out of the stars in your eyes
are your own private myths and mandalas
and you're free to change them as you will
and I wish everyone made as much
of the light they were given to go by
as you have.
I'm too much of a thorn
to paint the delicate iridescent watercolours
I see smeared on your tender bubbles
like original pictures of the universe
from a thousand spaced-out Hubbles
but I wish everyone in the world
had your kind of genius for vulnerability.
You hold up a single feather of light
like a candle among stars
like a green leaf in the middle of winter
and the world that is inured to three dimensions
for infinitely tedious reasons
would rather put its eyes out
and gape like blackholes
than see as you do
that there are countless seasons to the soul
that burn like a phoenix
and there's nowhere you can point to in the darkness
that isn't an equinox of love and understanding
when the sun shines at midnight
and spring harvests what the autumn sows.
Having a deep cosmic insight
like a stranger beyond lucidity
into the windows of the houses of your own zodiac
might make you look like a maniac to the neighbours
who keep watch in their asylum
against any kind of freedom
that might release them from their lighthouse
like a geni from a lamp
that doesn't conform to anyone's wishs but her own
but I wish everyone had the courage
you have not to be them.
Life isn't fair or unfair.
Life isn't kind or cruel.
It isn't half-Buddha and half-fool.
Neither impersonal
nor sentimental
life isn't a kind of obedience
to its own rules
as if it were bound like God to keep its word.
Or what?
Who else is there to answer to?
All the taboos want to be thresholds
and all the thresholds
want to run away from home.
Could be a curse.
Could be a blessing.
Could be just more idle words.
But you're not like that.
You're not a fountain mouth
that mistakes alphabets for birds
and holds them to the letter of the law
in a world full of music.
It's enlightenment to sing to a window.
It's ignorance to sing to a mirror.
But you don't sing to either
and your song is clear as running water
all the way down the mountain.
The picture-music
of your eyes and your ears
can already hear the ocean from here
that gathers to receive the flowing
like the heart receives blood
like the mind receives your thoughts.
Look out at the world.
You're the host.
Look inward.
You're the guest.
You can break bread with the dead
without being a ghost.
You can drink wine with the living
and it's the wine that gets high on you
flowing into a seabed of shadows on the moon
that hasn't touched a dropp for years.
Don't believe what the cynics say about innocence.
They have the sensibilities of blackflies
trying to draw blood from the Mona Lisa.
Don't grieve if you're a butterfly
that can't follow the flightplans of the maggots.
There's only a slight difference in wingspan
between a waterbird and a phoenix
but it would take lightyears
to measure a single feather of yours.
There's no cult of the rose
that insists it fall upon its own thorns first
or the moon draw first blood
on the blades of its own crescents.
You don't have to scar
your own deathmask with experience
just to prove you knew
how to eat the pain and bleed.
You don't have to wear your face in public
as if it were something you kept up your sleeve.
Dice might be the foundation-stones of the lost
but that doesn't mean
you have to go pearl-diving
for the moon in quicksand
or change your song like a jukebox
playing the slots
when you're a mermaid on the rocks.
I wish everyone had the same chance
to risk it all as you do
and win back their lives
like eleven come of seven
insteading of seeing everything
as if they were jinxed by inasuspicious birds
turning the wrong way on a prayer-wheel
that keeps coming up snake-eyes
with every roll of their skulls.
You can't heal the luck
of a wounded Nazi
by turning his swastika the other way.
You can't teach snakes to bite other people.
And you don't know enough
if there's anything left to say or understand
and even then there's a silence
that still longs to be heard
like a humming bird sipping honey from your ears
or deep in a telescopic wishing well of stars
burning in a dream of mirrors
they walk across
like fire on the water
or the distant blue notes
of the hidden nightbird
that echoes your tears
as if it were crying out in the darkness
from the safety of a secret place
for the same reasons you are.
As if it were trying to befriend its own sorrow
and weep for tomorrow as you do
for all the things of the past
it won't even know it's missing.
I wish everyone in the world
could live the future as you do
as something that is already happening now.
Even when you're crying
because you don't think you're brave enough
not to.
You're not a lame princess
that anyone needs to rescue.
You're a dragon bringing rain.
And if the snakepit hisses at you
like a social structure
and calls you insane sometimes
because you have wings
and they still hug the earth
all tied up in knots
taking their poisons out on each other
to keep from feeling anything
it's just their way of defining sanity
by the standards of the numbest.
It's not you that's crazy.
It's not you that's the dumbest.
I wish everyone in the world
were as warm-blooded and wise as you are.
When the serpent fire at the base of your spine
has passed through the doors
of all your chakras like vertebrae
and you're already a circumpolar constellation j
just a little off true north
shining like Draco
why worry if you're no good
at the game of snakes and ladders
they play like politics and religion back here on earth
to see who gets to be the pillar
and who the quicksand.
You understand way more than that.
I can tell by the fire in your eyes
that you're a phoenix among stars
and you've transcended the eagles and the houseflies
that can't even begin to imagine
the kind of heights you can reach to
or the depth of the view below you
when you're riding your own thermals
like beautiful helices in the mindstream
for the sheer joy of being only you.
Even now.
These tears
that run all the way down to your lips
as if water had fingertips
what are they
but the way you cry for things
that everyone else didn't?
I wish everyone in the world could be like you.
I wish you could teach us all
to stop living a spiritual lie
on the deathbed of an earthly truth
as if that were the only way
to foolproof ourselves
against reality
like a stranger looking through our windows at night
who doesn't recognize herself in us
because most of us aren't as brave and free as you are
to leave the door ajar
and let whatever wants to come in
come in.
Some track in mud.
Some.
Stars.
And the mud flowers in light.
And the stars bloom in fire.
And one looks up
and the other looks down
on each other's likeness
reflected in the other
as if they were engendered by the same being.
Sight is a kind of love
and I wish everyone in the world
were inspired by the mystic dimensions
and intimate clarity of your kind of seeing
that even through these tears
that I'm not having much luck in wiping away
can comprehend a world
that's more wonderful than it thinks it is.

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The Princess (part 1)

A prince I was, blue-eyed, and fair in face,
Of temper amorous, as the first of May,
With lengths of yellow ringlet, like a girl,
For on my cradle shone the Northern star.

There lived an ancient legend in our house.
Some sorcerer, whom a far-off grandsire burnt
Because he cast no shadow, had foretold,
Dying, that none of all our blood should know
The shadow from the substance, and that one
Should come to fight with shadows and to fall.
For so, my mother said, the story ran.
And, truly, waking dreams were, more or less,
An old and strange affection of the house.
Myself too had weird seizures, Heaven knows what:
On a sudden in the midst of men and day,
And while I walked and talked as heretofore,
I seemed to move among a world of ghosts,
And feel myself the shadow of a dream.
Our great court-Galen poised his gilt-head cane,
And pawed his beard, and muttered 'catalepsy'.
My mother pitying made a thousand prayers;
My mother was as mild as any saint,
Half-canonized by all that looked on her,
So gracious was her tact and tenderness:
But my good father thought a king a king;
He cared not for the affection of the house;
He held his sceptre like a pedant's wand
To lash offence, and with long arms and hands
Reached out, and picked offenders from the mass
For judgment.
Now it chanced that I had been,
While life was yet in bud and blade, bethrothed
To one, a neighbouring Princess: she to me
Was proxy-wedded with a bootless calf
At eight years old; and still from time to time
Came murmurs of her beauty from the South,
And of her brethren, youths of puissance;
And still I wore her picture by my heart,
And one dark tress; and all around them both
Sweet thoughts would swarm as bees about their queen.

But when the days drew nigh that I should wed,
My father sent ambassadors with furs
And jewels, gifts, to fetch her: these brought back
A present, a great labour of the loom;
And therewithal an answer vague as wind:
Besides, they saw the king; he took the gifts;
He said there was a compact; that was true:
But then she had a will; was he to blame?
And maiden fancies; loved to live alone
Among her women; certain, would not wed.

That morning in the presence room I stood
With Cyril and with Florian, my two friends:
The first, a gentleman of broken means
(His father's fault) but given to starts and bursts
Of revel; and the last, my other heart,
And almost my half-self, for still we moved
Together, twinned as horse's ear and eye.

Now, while they spake, I saw my father's face
Grow long and troubled like a rising moon,
Inflamed with wrath: he started on his feet,
Tore the king's letter, snowed it down, and rent
The wonder of the loom through warp and woof
From skirt to skirt; and at the last he sware
That he would send a hundred thousand men,
And bring her in a whirlwind: then he chewed
The thrice-turned cud of wrath, and cooked his spleen,
Communing with his captains of the war.

At last I spoke. 'My father, let me go.
It cannot be but some gross error lies
In this report, this answer of a king,
Whom all men rate as kind and hospitable:
Or, maybe, I myself, my bride once seen,
Whate'er my grief to find her less than fame,
May rue the bargain made.' And Florian said:
'I have a sister at the foreign court,
Who moves about the Princess; she, you know,
Who wedded with a nobleman from thence:
He, dying lately, left her, as I hear,
The lady of three castles in that land:
Through her this matter might be sifted clean.'
And Cyril whispered: 'Take me with you too.'
Then laughing 'what, if these weird seizures come
Upon you in those lands, and no one near
To point you out the shadow from the truth!
Take me: I'll serve you better in a strait;
I grate on rusty hinges here:' but 'No!'
Roared the rough king, 'you shall not; we ourself
Will crush her pretty maiden fancies dead
In iron gauntlets: break the council up.'

But when the council broke, I rose and past
Through the wild woods that hung about the town;
Found a still place, and plucked her likeness out;
Laid it on flowers, and watched it lying bathed
In the green gleam of dewy-tasselled trees:
What were those fancies? wherefore break her troth?
Proud looked the lips: but while I meditated
A wind arose and rushed upon the South,
And shook the songs, the whispers, and the shrieks
Of the wild woods together; and a Voice
Went with it, 'Follow, follow, thou shalt win.'

Then, ere the silver sickle of that month
Became her golden shield, I stole from court
With Cyril and with Florian, unperceived,
Cat-footed through the town and half in dread
To hear my father's clamour at our backs
With Ho! from some bay-window shake the night;
But all was quiet: from the bastioned walls
Like threaded spiders, one by one, we dropt,
And flying reached the frontier: then we crost
To a livelier land; and so by tilth and grange,
And vines, and blowing bosks of wilderness,
We gained the mother city thick with towers,
And in the imperial palace found the king.

His name was Gama; cracked and small his voice,
But bland the smile that like a wrinkling wind
On glassy water drove his cheek in lines;
A little dry old man, without a star,
Not like a king: three days he feasted us,
And on the fourth I spake of why we came,
And my bethrothed. 'You do us, Prince,' he said,
Airing a snowy hand and signet gem,
'All honour. We remember love ourselves
In our sweet youth: there did a compact pass
Long summers back, a kind of ceremony--
I think the year in which our olives failed.
I would you had her, Prince, with all my heart,
With my full heart: but there were widows here,
Two widows, Lady Psyche, Lady Blanche;
They fed her theories, in and out of place
Maintaining that with equal husbandry
The woman were an equal to the man.
They harped on this; with this our banquets rang;
Our dances broke and buzzed in knots of talk;
Nothing but this; my very ears were hot
To hear them: knowledge, so my daughter held,
Was all in all: they had but been, she thought,
As children; they must lose the child, assume
The woman: then, Sir, awful odes she wrote,
Too awful, sure, for what they treated of,
But all she is and does is awful; odes
About this losing of the child; and rhymes
And dismal lyrics, prophesying change
Beyond all reason: these the women sang;
And they that know such things--I sought but peace;
No critic I--would call them masterpieces:
They mastered ~me~. At last she begged a boon,
A certain summer-palace which I have
Hard by your father's frontier: I said no,
Yet being an easy man, gave it: and there,
All wild to found an University
For maidens, on the spur she fled; and more
We know not,--only this: they see no men,
Not even her brother Arac, nor the twins
Her brethren, though they love her, look upon her
As on a kind of paragon; and I
(Pardon me saying it) were much loth to breed
Dispute betwixt myself and mine: but since
(And I confess with right) you think me bound
In some sort, I can give you letters to her;
And yet, to speak the truth, I rate your chance
Almost at naked nothing.'
Thus the king;
And I, though nettled that he seemed to slur
With garrulous ease and oily courtesies
Our formal compact, yet, not less (all frets
But chafing me on fire to find my bride)
Went forth again with both my friends. We rode
Many a long league back to the North. At last
From hills, that looked across a land of hope,
We dropt with evening on a rustic town
Set in a gleaming river's crescent-curve,
Close at the boundary of the liberties;
There, entered an old hostel, called mine host
To council, plied him with his richest wines,
And showed the late-writ letters of the king.

He with a long low sibilation, stared
As blank as death in marble; then exclaimed
Averring it was clear against all rules
For any man to go: but as his brain
Began to mellow, 'If the king,' he said,
'Had given us letters, was he bound to speak?
The king would bear him out;' and at the last--
The summer of the vine in all his veins--
'No doubt that we might make it worth his while.
She once had past that way; he heard her speak;
She scared him; life! he never saw the like;
She looked as grand as doomsday and as grave:
And he, he reverenced his liege-lady there;
He always made a point to post with mares;
His daughter and his housemaid were the boys:
The land, he understood, for miles about
Was tilled by women; all the swine were sows,
And all the dogs'--
But while he jested thus,
A thought flashed through me which I clothed in act,
Remembering how we three presented Maid
Or Nymph, or Goddess, at high tide of feast,
In masque or pageant at my father's court.
We sent mine host to purchase female gear;
He brought it, and himself, a sight to shake
The midriff of despair with laughter, holp
To lace us up, till, each, in maiden plumes
We rustled: him we gave a costly bribe
To guerdon silence, mounted our good steeds,
And boldly ventured on the liberties.

We followed up the river as we rode,
And rode till midnight when the college lights
Began to glitter firefly-like in copse
And linden alley: then we past an arch,
Whereon a woman-statue rose with wings
From four winged horses dark against the stars;
And some inscription ran along the front,
But deep in shadow: further on we gained
A little street half garden and half house;
But scarce could hear each other speak for noise
Of clocks and chimes, like silver hammers falling
On silver anvils, and the splash and stir
Of fountains spouted up and showering down
In meshes of the jasmine and the rose:
And all about us pealed the nightingale,
Rapt in her song, and careless of the snare.

There stood a bust of Pallas for a sign,
By two sphere lamps blazoned like Heaven and Earth
With constellation and with continent,
Above an entry: riding in, we called;
A plump-armed Ostleress and a stable wench
Came running at the call, and helped us down.
Then stept a buxom hostess forth, and sailed,
Full-blown, before us into rooms which gave
Upon a pillared porch, the bases lost
In laurel: her we asked of that and this,
And who were tutors. 'Lady Blanche' she said,
'And Lady Psyche.' 'Which was prettiest,
Best-natured?' 'Lady Psyche.' 'Hers are we,'
One voice, we cried; and I sat down and wrote,
In such a hand as when a field of corn
Bows all its ears before the roaring East;

'Three ladies of the Northern empire pray
Your Highness would enroll them with your own,
As Lady Psyche's pupils.'
This I sealed:
The seal was Cupid bent above a scroll,
And o'er his head Uranian Venus hung,
And raised the blinding bandage from his eyes:
I gave the letter to be sent with dawn;
And then to bed, where half in doze I seemed
To float about a glimmering night, and watch
A full sea glazed with muffled moonlight, swell
On some dark shore just seen that it was rich.


As through the land at eve we went,
And plucked the ripened ears,
We fell out, my wife and I,
O we fell out I know not why,
And kissed again with tears.
And blessings on the falling out
That all the more endears,
When we fall out with those we love
And kiss again with tears!
For when we came where lies the child
We lost in other years,
There above the little grave,
O there above the little grave,
We kissed again with tears.

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If You can Keep your Cheese - after Rudyard Kipling

If you can keep your cheese while few about you
are holding onto theirs', all envy ease.
If none can get your goat nor cow could doubt you
your scent which, heaven sent, can tell true bries
from gorgonzola, parmesan without you
planning for house mouse contingencies,
or short supply where larder rats may scout to
grind, compromise the tasty rind most please.

If by a whisker cheshire follows trout to
provide fit end for sweet delicacies,
or cheddar meat meal follows leaves no gout to
blur enjoyment, taste buds' harmonies.
If desert heat no threat presents, no pout too
in winter's cold where lizard's blood would freeze,
If neither flood nor drought can mar, throughout you
may triumph over blue mould colonies.

If all kowtow, if none would ever flout you
remembering to bow before ‘big cheese'...
if hole in one you score in club you clout to
take golden trophy - competition flees.
If all above's accomplished taste devout, true,
while others fail to prove their expertise,
your's is the world, which elsewhere's up the spout, few
can make their time your rhyme's real_I_tease!

IF - A Writers' Guild Gild Guile Guide
If you can form and not make norms your master,
conformity, performance formal, flame.
If you inform, share, [fl]airing, flow far faster,
yet let not copyright bind tight to shame.
If you treat critic's inconstructive blaster
with humour, beat him at his game's lame claim,
take not to hea[r]t his tumour, bandage, plaster
half-heartedly, pretend [s]he never came.

If you can couple energy creative
well in advance of others in your field,
without confusing nominative, dative,
rei[g]n arguments through cogency revealed
in context, in a manner innovative,
code palimpsests from all but s[t]age concealed,
If trust in self is never compensative
reaction used when you refused to yield.

If you can link great ends with small beginnings,
and yet not brag, nor tag each copy sold,
If dialogue's more vital than piled winnings,
to trim the quill where will won't be short-sold,
If, ignorance ignored, your story's spinnings
creates a pot no Potter has outsold,
yet you can fi[e]nd the flaw, to fresh beginnings
return to steer towards horizons bold.

If you can write without cash motivation,
self-righteousness avoiding like the plague,
create consensus round an innovation
embraced by all without appearing vague,
If you can span from logic to emotion
set constant course from vested interests clear,
If you can ban all untoward commotion,
while conscience clings to all that it holds dear,

If you can set the good within you flowing
without the itch to pitch beyond kitsch brink,
If you can give the nod and wink while knowing
that mental states aren't always in the pink,
If you use inner kinks to keep on growing
without denying others' right to think,
If you continue for tomorrow sowing
refusing using methods now that stink.

If you can lead lead soldiers Caxton crafted
without kowtow before cold compromise,
If neither editor nor public shafted
the output that your inner soul supplies,
If you can improvise, provide redrafted
communication keyed to catalyze,
you'll find to your surprise that you have rafted
alone on conscious stream your just dream buys.

Writers' Real Mirror Reflection Reel
With inside out, and out, surprised, inside,
When penning verse whose end may, too, begin it,
When rhyming reel with real can coincide
Your's is the world and everything that's in it.
If you can write without cash motivation,
Self-righteousness avoiding like the plague,
Create consensus round an innovation
Embraced by all without appearing vague.
If you can scan, span logic to emotion
Set constant course from vested interests clear,
If you can ban all untoward commotion,
While conscience clings to all that it holds dear,
If rhymes may improvise, spurn prose redrafted,
Communication key to catalyze,
You'll find to your surprise that you have rafted
On stream it seems when wit reverse dream tries.

On stream it seems when wit reverse dream tries
You'll find to your surprise that you have rafted
Communication key to catalyze.
If rhyme may improvise, spurn prose redrafted
While conscience clings to all that it holds dear,
If you can ban all untoward commotion,
Set constant course from vested interests clear.
If you can scan span logic to emotion
Embraced by all without appearing vague,
Create consensus round an innovation,
Self-righteousness avoiding like the plague,
If you can write without cash motivation,
Your's is the world and everything that's in it
When rhyming reel with real can coincide
When penning verse whose end may, too, begin it,
With inside out, and out, surprised, inside!

Cropped Apologies to Rudyard Kipling
If you can keep your crops when all the nation
rails, vain assailing creepy crawly bugs,
If you can thrive when most lives' reputation
is knocked for skittles, stumped by snails and slugs,
If you can sow, show though you stay surrounded
by failing harvests sere upon the stem,
where hopes unfounded, speculations grounded,
face farmers who through jealousy condemn.

If greenhouse gases can't delay your planting,
with fallow Brussels' edicts all ignored,
If CO² you compensate by chanting
an incantation to the heavens poured.
If snail trails slip upon your sensor networks,
if nano tech protects your fields' high yield
which on the Futures markets harvests net perks
that from the tax collector stay concealed.

If you can fight Monsanto's sterile sowing,
deny blight warnings, nor fear climate change,
if cash in hand exceeds debts most's greed's owing,
if you're the early bird with worms in range,
If you free farm through seasons, thank your maker
from man's pollution, safe solution find,
yours is the race, you, ace, may need pacemaker
for luck can turn, earn bridges burned behind.

Advice to an Applicant
If you can back your boss and keep on smiling,
while toning down his brash absurdities,
if, having watched the man manhandle filing,
you rearrange the folders pretty please,
if coy and charming, beautiful, beguiling,
anticipating all contingencies,
you manage new accounts, contacts redialling,
correct crass spelling, cover vagaries...

If you can keep your head while he's resiling,
evolve successful counter-strategies,
if ‘mum's the word', discrete, ignoring tyling,
from busy-bodies safe when he agrees.
If you can spend your time in reconciling
his intellectual inanities,
never upset his fragile ego, heiling
whene'er he feels the need, or profits sneeze...

If Windows easy comes, while modem dialing
to DSL migration's not a tease,
if firewall free from viruses hostiling
you clean can keep, recalling password keys,
if the above you show him recompiling
the data lost when he lacks expertise, -
yet know your place as cypher, never riling,
remembering to bow before ‘big cheese'...

If you can stand him publicly reviling
your good ideas, then claim them his with ease,
can watch while rival's ruin he's compiling
so coldly that a lizard's blood would freeze.
If when betrayed by his ambitious wiling
you triumph through innate abilities,
ignoring basic scheming, baser guiling,
you seize the precious point he never sees! ...

If you won't blush when, rash, he'll rush, exiling
your intuitions as freak fantasies,
but confidently while free-time he's whiling,
circumvent his incapacities.
Surpassing him in brains, tact, versatiling,
you never strive to swap your salaries,
but both feet on the ground, still patient, smiling,
can counteract his incoherencies...

If you are sure his image needs restyling,
select the suits that suit down to the tees,
if you are ever ready camomiling,
or sprinkling sugar, creaming, coffee, teas,
if you can trick his wayward infantiling
and censure not his immaturities,
ignore his clumsy tries at fond defling,
yet fondled, tactful, rise from off his knees...

If you take three degrees while reconciling
your private life to further Ph.D.'s,
if you can children bear without work piling
and keep them free from trouble and disease,
if you can spring his quick promotion - vile thing -
and play the game of happy families...
Your's is the job, the rest's cosmetic styling,
Oh prized princess and pride of... secret'ries!

A l'assistante de l'Indirection
Si tu peux supporter de voir tes dossiers
démolis sans souffler mot et puis reclasser,
si tu sais appuyer partout ton PDG
sans sceptique rester quant à ses qualités...

Si tu souris, beauté, sans être emmerdante,
si vive mais jamais surprise, impatiente,
le soutenant quand des contresens fous l'enchantent,
ses lubies supporter sans paroles tranchantes...

Si tu sais sans délais t'adapter au progrès,
les autres anticiper, sans jamais hésiter,
bien le préparer avec de bons conseils,
des envieux protéger ton patron hébété...

Très expérimentée, mais sans prendre de l'age,
compréhensive aider avec ses rattrapages
sans pourtant mériter accéder aux voyages
‘d'études' et aux congrès, - ces minables volages!

Si tu sais lui montrer se servir du clavier,
aux réseaux si primés vite se connecter,
de l'Internet cliquer sur l'intranet branché,
son PC débugger sans jamais se broncher...

Si sa peur du souris, du clic-clic, du mulot
tu peux sans interdits dépasser au boulot,
à ses flagrants délits trouver tout ce qu'il faut,
si tu ses buts poursuis en soufflant le bon mot...

Si tu sais compenser l'orthographe qu'il perd,
scanner, penser, noter, téléphoner, tout faire,
son planning programmer, sans être trop mémère,
le soutenir, si gaie, quand son coeur désespère...

Si tu peux accoucher à l'heure du dîner,
tes enfants élever tous en bonne santé,
ton patron remplacer - ronronnant au soleil -
sans pour autant rêver qu'on t'accorde sa paye.

Si tu sors d'H.E.C. sans prétendre à la gloire,
Sciences Po, c'est fait, sans en faire une histoire,
ou Enarque tu es, faisant dans ton pouvoir
le tout pour manier les re(i) nes du Pouvoir.

Lors mieux qu'homme d'affaires, ou chef de cabinet
mieux que tous ces experts si souvent égarés,
tu seras à tout faire une bonne rêvée,
mieux que mère, sacrée ASSISTANTE tu es!

If
If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or, being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise;

If you can dream - and not make dreams your master;
If you can think - and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with triumph and disaster
And treat those two imposters just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with wornout tools;

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breath a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: 'Hold on';

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings - nor lose the common touch;
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run -
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And - which is more - you'll be a Man my son!
Rudyard Kipling 1865_1936


Biff! The same father to the same son, now grown up.

If you can keep your job when all about you
Are losing theirs (by cutting down of screw) :
If you can keep yourself - for, make no doubt you
Won't get allowance, just for you to blue.
If you can make a heap by all your winnings
Risked on outsiders backed at Kempton Park,
Don't think that you will always get your innings
And kiss your boss's daughter in the dark.

If you should risk promotion, aught should tempt ye,
Eyeing the safe when all the staff have gone,
And, jemmying it open, find it empty,
And hear the watchman growl to you, ‘Hold on! '
If you should fill the unforgiving ‘minutes'
With names of all the people you have ‘done, '
Yours is the gaol, and everything that's in ti,
And, what is more, you'll get six months, my son.
Rachel Ferguson Nymphs and Satires 1932

A London Sparrow's IF
If you c'n keep alive when li'l bleeders
Come arter t' wi' catapults an' stones;
If you c'n grow up unpertickler feeders,
An' live on rugidge, crumbs, an' ‘addock bones;
If you c'n nest up in the bloomin' gutters,
An' dodge the blinkin' tabby on the tiles;
Nip under wheels an' never git the flutters,
Wear brahn an' no bright-coloured fevver-styles;
If you ain't blown b'nippers (Cor, I'd skin ‘me!) :
Stop y'r shells nah, warm-like, under me;
Yous is the eggs an' everyfink ‘at's in ‘em -
An' when they ‘atch, yor be cock-sparrers, see?
J A LINDON

If You can Keep Your Man
If You can Keep Your Man when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
Avert a break-up when he starts to doubt you,
Without behaving like a tart or shrew;

If you can bake a cake or change a nappy,
Although you've got a good Redbrick degree,
And yet can say you're reasonably happy
When other graduate wives dropp in for tea;

If you can lose yourself in ‘To the Lighthouse',
Yet, changing books, seek first the Thriller shelf,
If you can laugh at Mrs. Mary Whitehouse,
But sometimes wince at Wednesday Plays yourself;

If you stand up for Women's Liberation,
Think sex equality long overdue,
Yet purr when men evince consideration
And in a bus or train stand up for you;

If you can be a protest march frequenter,
But sometimes think the marchers a bit queer,
Yet, spite of everything, stay left of centre,
Oh, well, who knows? You may be right, my dear.
Stanley Sharpless

If You Can Crush
If you can crush, when all your chums are cribbing,
The urge that beckons you to do the same;
Can keep your tongue from telling tales or fibbing,
And can, when others err, take all the blame.

If you can nurse a crush on dear Miss Withers,
Yet bully off with just one silent tear;
Be resolute when even Matron dithers,
And weld the House together with a cheer.

If you can foil the fiendish Russian spy-ring,
Who've ‘got a hold' upon the Head (the swine!)
And by example selfless and inspiring,
Can make those ghastly Juniors toe the line.

If you while staying virgo quite intacta,
Can scoff at those who label you a prude;
And, when you leave, can know you've never slacked or
(Except to Ma'moiselle) been flip or rude.

If you can scale such pinnacles of virtue
And earn your teachers' praises as ‘a brick',
The truth, dear girl, (I do so hate to hurt you) -
The simple truth, dear Daphne, is you're thick!
Martin Fagg

IF
If you can stand the Quest and all her antics
When all around you turn somersaults upon her deck;
And go aloft when no one has told you
And not fall down and break your blooming neck;

If you can work like Wild and also like Wuzzles
Spend a convivial night with some old bean,
And then come down and meet the Boss at breakfast
And never breathe a word of where you've been.

If you can fill the port and starboard bunkers
With fourteen tons of coal; and call it fun;
Yours is the ship and everything that's in it
And you're a marvel; not a man my son.
Ernest H Shackleton

(28 July 2007)

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A Postscript unto the Reader

And now good Reader, I return again
To talk with thee, who hast been at the pain
To read throughout, and heed what went before;
And unto thee I'le speak a little more.
Give ear, I pray thee, unto what I say,
That God may hear thy voice another day.
Thou hast a Soul, my friend, and so have I,
To save or lose; a Soul that cannot die,
A soul of greater price than God and Gems;
A Soul more worth than Crowns and Diadems;
A Soul at first created like its Maker,
And of Gods Image made to be partaker:
Upon the wings of Noblest faculties,
Taught for to soar above the Starry Skies,
And not to rest, until it understood
It self possessed of the chiefest good.
And since the Fall, thy Soul retaineth still
Those Faculties of Reason and of Will,
But Oh, how much deprav'd, and out of frame,
As if they were some others, not the same.
Thine Understanding dismally benighted,
And Reason'd eye in Sp'ritual things dim-sighted,
Or else stark blind: Thy Will inclin'd to evil,
And nothing else, a Slave unto the Devil;
That loves to live, and liveth to transgress,
But shuns the way of God and Holiness.
All thin Affections are disordered;
And thou by head-strong Passions are misled.
What need I tell thee of thy crooked way,
And many wicked wand'rings every day?
Or that thine own transgressions are more
In number, than the sands upon the Shore:
Thou art a lump of wickedness become,
And may'st with horrour think upon thy Doom,
Until thy Soul be washed in the flood
Of Christ's most dear, soul-cleansing precious blood.
That, that alone can do away thy sin
Which thou wert born, and hast long lived in.
That, only that, can pacifie Gods wrath,
If apprehended by a lively Faith,
Now whilst the day and means of Grace do last,
Before the opportunity be past.
But if O man, thou liv'st a Christless creature,
And Death surprize thee in a state of nature,
(As who can tell but that may be thy case)
How wilt thou stand before the Judge's face?
When he shall be reveal'd in faming fire,
And come to pay ungodly men their hire:
To execute due vengeance upon those
That knew him not, or that have been his foes?
What wilt thou answer unto his demands,
When he requires a reason at thy hands
Of all the things that thou hast said, or done,
Or left undone, or set thine heart upon?
When he shall thus with thee expostulate,
What cause hadst thou thy Maker for to hate,
To take up Arms against thy Soveraign,
And Enmity against him to maintain?
What injury hath God Almighty done thee?
What good hath he with-held that might have won thee?
What evil, or injustice, hast thou found
In him, that might unto thine hurt redound?
If neither felt, nor feared injury
Hath moved thee to such hostility;
What made thee then the Fountain to forsake,
And unto broken Pits thy self betake?
What reason hadst thou to dishonour God,
Who thee with Mercies never cease to load?
Because the Lord was good, hast thou been evil,
And taken part against him with the Devil?
For all his cost to pay him with despite,
And all his love with hatred to requite?
Is this the fruit of Gods great patience,
To wax more bold in disobedience?
To kick against the bowels of his Love,
Is this aright his Bounty to improve?
Stand still, ye Heav'ns and be astonished,
That God by man should thus be injured!
Give ear, O Earth, and tremble at the sin
Of those that thine Inhabitants have bin.
But thou, vile Wretch, hast added unto all
Thine other faults, and facts so criminal,
The damning sin of wilful unbelief,
Of all Transgressors hadst thou been the chief;
Yet when time was, thou might'st have been set free
From Sin, and Wrath, and punishment by mee.
But thou wouldst not accept of Gospel Grace,
Nor on my terms Eternal Life embrace.
As if that all thy breaches of Gods Law
Were not enough upon thy head to draw
Eternal Wrath: Thou hast despis'd a Saviour,
Rejected me, and trampled on my favour.
How oft have I stood Knocking at thy door,
And been denied entrance evermore?
How often hath my Spirit been withstood,
When as I sent him to have done thee good?
Thou hast no need of any one to plead
Thy Cause, or for thy Soul to intercede:
Plead for thy self, it thou hast ought to say,
And pay thy forfeiture without delay.
Behold thou dost ten thousand Talents owe,
Or pay thy Debt, or else to Prison go.
Think, think, O Man, when Christ shall thus unfold
Thy secret guilt, and make thee to behold
The ugly face of all thy sinful errours,
And fill thy Soul with his amazing terrours,
And let thee see the flaming Pit of Hell
(Where all that have no part in him shall dwell)
When he shall thus expostulate the case,
How canst thou bear to look him in the face?
What wilt thou do without an Advocate?
Or plead, when as thy state is desparate?
Dost think to put him off with fair pretences?
Or wilt thou hide and cover thine offences?
Can any thing from him concealed be,
Who doth the hidden things of darkness see?
Art thou of force his Power to withstand?
Canst thou by might escape out of his hand?
Dost thou intend to run out of his sight,
And save thy self from punishment by flight?
Or wilt thou be eternally accurst,
And bide his Vengeance, let him do his worst?
Oh, who can bear his indignation heat?
Or bide the pains of Hell, which are so great?
If then thou neither canst his Wrath endure,
Nor any Ransom after death procure:
If neither Cryes nor Tears can move his heart
To pardon thee, or mittigate thy smart,
But unto Hell thou must perforce be sent
With dismal horrour and astonishment:
Consider, O my Friends, what cause thou hast
With fear and trembling (while as yet thou may'st)
To lay to heart thy sin and misery,
And to make out after the Remedy.
Consider well the greatness of thy danger,
O Child of wrath, and object of Gods anger,
Thou hangest over the Infernal Pit
By one small thread, and car'st thou not a whit?
There's but a step between thy Soul and Death,
Nothing remains but stopping of thy breath,
(Which may be done to morrow, or before)
And then thou art undone for evermore.
Let this awaken thy Security,
And make thee look about thee speedily,
How canst thou rest an hour or sleep a night,
Or in thy Creature-comforts take delight;
Or with vain Toyes thy self forgetfull make
How near thou art unto the burning Lake?
How canst thou live without tormenting fears?
How canst thou hold from weeping floods of tears,
Yea, tears of blood, I might almost have sed,
If such like tears could from thine eyes be shed?
To gain the world what will it profit thee,
And loose thy Soul and self eternallie?
Eternity on one small point dependeth:
The man is lost that this short life mispendeth,
For as the Tree doth fall, right so it lies;
And man continues in what state he dies.
Who happy die, shall happy rise again;
Who cursed die, shall cursed still remain,
If under Sin, and Wrath, Death leaves thee bound,
At Judgment under Wrath thou shalt be found:
And then wo, wo that ever thou wert born,
O wretched man, of Heav'n and Earth forlorn!
Consider this, all ye that God forget,
Who all his threatenings at nought do set,
Lest into pieces he begin to tear
Your Souls, and there be no deliverer.
O you that now sing care and fear away,
Think often of the formidable Day,
Wherein the Heavens with a mighty noise,
And with a hideous, heart-confounding voice,
Shall pass away together, being roll'd
As men are wont their garments for to fold;
When th' Elements with fervent heat shall melt,
And living Creatures in the same shall swelt,
And altogether in those Flames expire,
Which set the Earths Foundations on fire.
Oh, what amazement will your hearts be in,
And how will you to curse your selves begin
For all your damned sloth, and negligence,
And unbelief, and gross Impenitence,
When you shall hear that dreadful Sentence past,
That all the wicked into Hell be cast?
What horrour will your Consciences surprise,
When you shall hear the fruitless doleful cries
Of such as are compelled to depart
Unto the place of everlasting smart?
What, when you see the sparks fly out of Hell,
And view the Dungeon where you are to dwell,
Wherein you must eternally remain
In anguish, and intolerable pain?
What, when your hands and feet are bound together,
And you are cast into the Lake for ever?
Then shall you feel the truth of what you hear,
That hellish pains are more than you can bear,
And that those Torments are an hundred fold
More terrible than ever you were told.
Nor speak I this, good Reader, to torment thee
Before the time, but rather to prevent thee
From running head-long to thine own decay,
In such a perillous and deadly way.
We, who have known and felt Jehovah's terrours,
Perswade men to repent them of their errours,
And turn to God in time, e're his Decree
Bring forth, and then there be no Remedee!
If in the night, when thou art fast asleep,
Some friend of thine, that better watch doth keep,
Should see thy house all on a burning flame,
And thee almost inclosed with the same:
If such a friend should break thy door and wake thee,
Or else by force out of the peril take thee:
What? wouldst thou take his kindness in ill part?
Or frown upon him for his good desert?
Such, O my friend, such is thy present state,
And danger, being unregenerate.
Awake, awake, and then thou shalt perceive
Thy peril greater than thou wilt believe.
Lift up thine eyes, and see Gods wrathful ire,
Preparing unextinguishable fire
For all that live and die impenitent.
Awake, awake, O Sinner, and repent,
And quarrel not, because I thus alarm
Thy Soul, to save it from eternal harm.
Perhaps thou harbourest such thoughts as these:
I hope I may enjoy my carnal ease
A little longer, and my self refresh
With those delights that gratifie the flesh,
And yet repent before it be too late,
And get into the comfortable state;
I hope I have yet many years to spend,
And time enough those matters to attend.
Presumptuous heart! Is God engag'd to give
A longer time to such as love to live
Like Rebels still, who think to stain his Glory
By wickedness, and after to be sory?
Unto thy lust shall he be made a drudge,
Who thee, and all ungodly men, shall judge?
Canst thou account sin sweet, and yet confess,
That first, or last, it ends in bitterness?
Is sin a thing that must procure thee sorrow?
And woulst thou dally with't another morrow?
O foolish man, who lovest to enjoy
That which will thee distress, or else destroy!
What gained Sampson by his Delilah?
What gained David by his Bathsheba?
The one became a Slave, lost both his eyes,
And made them sport that were his Enemies;
The other penneth, as a certain token
Of Gods displeasure, that his bones were broken,
Besides the woes he after met withal,
To chasten him for that his grievious Fall:
His own Son Ammon using crafty wiles,
His Daughter Thamar wickedly defiles;
His second Son more beautiful than good,
His hands embreweth in his Brothers Bolld:
And by and by aspiring to the Crown,
He strives to pull his gentle Father down:
With hellish rage, him fiercely persecuting,
And bruitishly his Concubines polluting.
Read whoso list, and ponder what he reads,
And he shall find small joy in evil deeds.
Moreover this consider, that the longer
Thou liv'st in sin, thy sin will grow the stronger,
And then it will an harder matter prove,
To leave those wicked haunts that thou dost love.
The Black-moor may as eas'ly change his skin,
As old transgressors leave their wonted sin.
And who can tell what may become of thee,
Or where thy Soul in one days time may be?
We see that Death ner old nor young men spares,
But one and other takes at unawares.
For in a moment, whil'st men Peace do cry,
Destruction seizeth on them suddenly.
Thou who this morning art a lively wight,
May'st be a Corps and damned Ghost ere night.
Oh, dream not then, that it will serve the turn,
Upon thy death bed for thy sins to mourn,
But think how many have been snatcht away,
And had no time for mercy once to pray.
It's just with God Repentance to deny
To such as put it off until they dy,
And late Repentance seldom proveth true,
Which if it fail, thou know'st what must ensue;
For after this short life is at an end,
What is amiss thou never canst amend.
Believe, O man, that to procrastinate,
And put it off until it be too late,
As 'tis thy sin, so is it Satans wile,
Whereby he doth great multitudes beguile.
How many thousands hath this strong delusion
Already brought to ruine and confusion,
Whose Souls are now reserv'd in Iron Chains,
Under thick darkness to eternal pains?
They thought of many years, as thou dost now,
But were deceived quite, and so may'st thou.
Oh, then my friend, while not away thy time,
Nor by rebellion aggravate thy Crime.
Oh put not off Repentance till to morrow,
Adventure not without Gods leave to borrow
Another day to spend upon thy lust,
Lest God (that is most holy, wise, and just)
Denounce in wrath, and to thy terrour say:
This night shall Devils fetch thy Soul away.
Now seek the face of God with all thy heart;
Acknowledge unto him how vile thou art;
Tell him thy sins deserve eternal wrath,
And that it is a wonder that he hath
Permitted thee so long to draw thy breath,
Who might have cut thee off by sudden death,
And sent thy Soul into the lowest Pit,
From whence no price should ever ransom it,
And that he may most justly do it still
(Because thou hast deserv'd it) if he will.
Yet also tell him that, if he shall please,
He can forgive thy Sins, and thee release,
And that in Christ his Son he may be just,
And justifie all those what on him trust:
That though thy sins are of a crimson dy,
Yet Christ his Blood can cleanse thee thorowly.
Tell him, that he may make his glorious Name
More wonderful by covering thy shame;
That Mercy may be greatly magnify'd,
And Justice also fully satisfy'd,
If he shall please to own thee in his Son,
Who hath paid dear for Men's Redemption.
Tell him thou hast an unbelieving heart,
Which hindereth thee from coming for a part
In Christ: and that although his terrours aw thee,
Thou canst not come till he be pleas'd to draw thee.
Tell him thou know'st thine heart to be so bad,
And thy condition so exceeding sad,
That though Salvation may be had for nought
Thou canst not come and take, till thou be brought.
Oh beg of him to bow thy stubborn Will
To come to Christ, that he thy lusts may kill.
Look up to Christ for his attractive pow'r,
Which he exerteth in a needful hour;
Who saith, whenas I lifted up shall be,
Then will I draw all sorts of men to me.
O wait upon him with true diligence,
And trembling fear in every Ordinance;
Unto his call earnest attention give,
Whose voice makes deaf men hear, and dead men live.
Thus weep, and mourn, thus hearken, pray and wait,
Till he behold, and pitty thine estate,
Who is more ready to bestow his Grace,
Then thou the same art willing to imbrace;
Yea, he hath Might enough to bring thee home,
Though thou hast neither strength nor will to come.
If he delay to answer thy request,
Know that oft-times he doth it for the best:
Not with intent to drive us from his door,
But for to make us importune him more;
Or else to bring us duly to confess,
And be convinc'd of our unworthiness.
Oh, be not weary then, but persevere
To beg his Grace till he thy suit shall hear:
And leave him not, nor from his foot-stool go,
Till over thee Compassions skirt he throw.
Eternal Life will recompence thy pains,
If found at last, with everlasting gains.
For if the Lord be pleas'd to hear thy cryes,
And to forgive thy great iniquities,
Thou wilt have cause for ever to admire,
And laud his Grace, that granted thy desire.
Then shalt thou find thy labour is not lost:
But that the good obtain'd surmounts the cost.
Nor shalt thou grieve for loss of sinful pleasures,
Exchang'd for heavenly joyes and lasting treasures.
The yoke of Christ, which once thou didst esteem
A tedious yoke, shall then most easie seem.
For why? The love of Christ shall thee constrain
To take delight in that which was thy pain;
The wayes of Wisdom shall be pleasant wayes,
And thou shalt chuse therein to spend thy dayes.
If once thy Soul be brought to such a pass,
O'bless the Lord, and magnifie his Grace.
Thou, that of late hadst reason to be sad,
May'st now rejoyce, and be exceeding glad,
For thy condition is as happy now,
As erst it was disconsolate and low;
Thou art become as rich as whilome poor,
As blessed now, as cursed heretofore;
For being cleansed with Christs precious Blood,
Thou hast an int'rest in the chiefest good:
Gods anger is towards thy Soul appeased,
And in his Christ he is with thee well pleased.
Yea, he doth look upon thee with a mild
And gracious aspect as upon his child;
He is become thy Father and thy Friend,
And will defend thee from the cursed Fiend.
Thou need'st not fear the roaring Lyon's rage,
Since God Almighty doth himself engage
To bear thy Soul in Everlasting Armes,
Above the reach of all destructive harms.
What ever here thy sufferings may be,
Yet from them all the Lord shall rescue thee.
He will preserve thee by his wond'rous might
Unto that rich Inheritance in light.
Oh, sing for you, all ye regenerate,
Whom Christ hath brought into this blessed state!
O love the Lord, all ye his Saints, who hath
Redeemed you from everlasting wrath:
Who hath by dying made your Souls to live,
And what he dearly bought doth freely give:
Give up you selves to walk in all his wayes,
And study how to live unto his praise.
The time is short you have to serve him here:
The day of your deliv'rance draweth near.
Lift up your heads, ye upright ones in heart,
Who in Christ's purchase have obtain'd a part.
Behold, he rides upon a shining Cloud,
With Angels voice, and Trumpet sounding loud;
He comes to save his folk from all their foes,
And plague the men that Holiness oppose.
So come, Lord Jesus, quickly come we pray:
Yea come, and hasten our Redemption day.

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The Lady Of La Garaye - Part II

A FIRST walk after sickness: the sweet breeze
That murmurs welcome in the bending trees,
When the cold shadowy foe of life departs,
And the warm blood flows freely through our hearts:
The smell of roses,--sound of trickling streams,
The elastic turf cross-barred with golden gleams,
That seems to lift, and meet our faltering tread;
The happy birds, loud singing overhead;
The glorious range of distant shade and light,
In blue perspective, rapturous to our sight,
Weary of draperied curtains folding round,
And the monotonous chamber's narrow bound;
With,--best of all,--the consciousness at length,
In every nerve of sure returning strength:--

Long the dream stayed to cheer that darkened room,
That this should be the end of all that gloom!

Long, as the vacant life trained idly by,
She pressed her pillow with a restless sigh,--
'To-morrow, surely, I shall stronger feel!'
To-morrow! but the slow days onward steal,
And find her still with feverish aching head,
Still cramped with pain; still lingering in her bed;
Still sighing out the tedium of the time;
Still listening to the clock's recurring chime,
As though the very hours that struck were foes,
And might, but would not, grant complete respose.
Until the skilled physician,--sadly bold
From frequent questioning,--her sentence told!
That no good end could come to her faint yearning,--
That no bright hour should see her health returning,--
That changeful seasons,--not for one dark year,
But on through life,--must teach her how to bear:
For through all Springs, with rainbow-tinted showers,
And through all Summers, with their wealth of flowers,
And every Autumn, with its harvest-home,
And all white Winters of the time to come,--
Crooked and sick for ever she must be:
Her life of wild activity and glee
Was with the past, the future was a life
Dismal and feeble; full of suffering; rife
With chill denials of accustomed joy,
Continual torment, and obscure annoy.
Blighted in all her bloom,--her withered frame
Must now inherit age; young but in name.
Never could she, at close of some long day
Of pain that strove with hope, exulting lay
A tiny new-born infant on her breast,
And, in the soft lamp's glimmer, sink to rest,
The strange corporeal weakness sweetly blent
With a delicious dream of full content;
With pride of motherhood, and thankful prayers,
And a confused glad sense of novel cares,
And peeps into the future brightly given,
As though her babe's blue eyes turned earth to heaven!
Never again could she, when Claud returned
After brief absence, and her fond heart yearned
To see his earnest eyes, with upward glancing,
Greet her known windows, even while yet advancing,--
Fly with light footsteps down the great hall-stair,
And give him welcome in the open air
As though she were too glad to see him come,
To wait till he should enter happy home,
And there, quick-breathing, glowing, sparkling stand,
His arm round her slim waist; hand locked in hand;
The mutual kiss exchanged of happy greeting,
That needs no secrecy of lovers' meeting;
While, giving welcome also in their way,
Her dogs barked rustling round him, wild with play;
And voices called, and hasty steps replied,
And the sleek fiery steed was led aside,
And the grey seneschal came forth and smiled,
Who held him in his arms while yet a child;
And cheery jinglings from unfastened doors,
And vaulted echoes through long corridors,
And distant bells that thrill along the wires,
And stir of logs that heap up autumn fires,
Crowned the glad eager bustle that makes known
The Master's step is on his threshold-stone!

Never again those rides so gladly shared,
So much enjoyed,--in which so much was dared
To prove no peril from the gate or brook,--
Need bring the shadow of an anxious look,
To mar the pleasant ray of proud surprise
That shone from out those dear protecting eyes.
No more swift hurrying through the summer rain,
That showered light silver on the freshened plain,
Hung on the tassels of the hazel bough,
And plashed the azure of the river's flow.
No more glad climbing of the mountain height,
From whence a map, drawn out in lines of light,
Showed dotting villages, and distant spires,
And the red rows of metal-burning fires,
And purple covering woods, within which stand
White mansions of the nobles of the land.

No more sweet wanderings far from tread of men,
In the deep thickets of the sunny glen,
To see the vanished Spring bud forth again;
Its well remembered tufts of primrose set
Among the sheltered banks of violet;
Or in thatched summer-houses sit and dream,
Through gurgling gushes of the woodland stream;
Then, rested rise, and by the sunset ray
Saunter at will along the homeward way;
Pausing at each delight,--the singing loud
Of some sweet thrush, e'er lingering eve be done;
Or the pink shining of some casual cloud
That blushes deeper as it nears the sun.

The rough woodpath; the little rocky burn;
Nothing of this can ever now return.
The life of joy is over: what is left
Is a half life; a life of strength bereft;
The body broken from the yearning soul,
Never again to make a perfect whole!
Helpless desires, and cravings unfulfilled;
Bitter regret, in stormy weepings stilled;
Strivings whose easy effort used to bless,
Grown full of danger and sharp weariness;
This is the life whose dreadful dawn must rise
When the night lifts, within whose gloom she lies:
Hope, on whose lingering help she leaned so late,
Struck from her clinging by the sword of fate--
That wild word NEVER, to her shrinking gaze,
Seems written on the wall in fiery rays.

Never!--our helpless changeful natures shrink
Before that word as from the grave's cold brink!
Set us a term whereto we must endure,
And you shall find our crown of patience sure;
But the irrevocable smites us down;--
Helpless we lie before the eternal frown;
Waters of Marah whelm the blinded soul,
Stifle the heart, and drown our self-control.
So, when she heard the grave physician speak,
Horror crept through her veins, who, faint and weak,
And tortured by all motion, yet had lain
With a meek cheerfulness that conquered pain,
Hoping,--till that dark hour. Give back the hope,
Though years rise sad with intervening scope!
Scarce can those radiant eyes with sickly stare
Yet comprehend that sentence of despair:
Crooked and sick for ever! Crooked and sick!
She, in whose veins the passionate blood ran quick
As leaps the rivulet from the mountain height,
That dances rippling into Summer light;
She, in whose cheek the rich bloom always stayed,
And only deepened to a lovelier shade;
She, whose fleet limbs no exercise could tire,
When wild hill-climbing wooed her spirit higher!
Knell not above her bed this funeral chime;
Bid her be prisoner for a certain time;
Tell her blank years must waste in that changed home,
But not for ever,--not for life to come;
Let infinite torture be her daily guest,
But set a term beyond which shall be rest.

In vain! she sees that trembling fountain rise,
Tears of compassion in an old man's eyes;
And in low pitying tones, again he tells
The doom that sounds to her like funeral bells.
Long on his face her wistful gaze she kept;
Then dropped her head, and wildly moaned and wept;
Shivering through every limb, as lightning thought
Smote her with all the endless ruin wrought.
Never to be a mother! Never give
Another life beyond her own to live,
Never to see her husband bless their child,
Thinking (dear blessèd thought!) like him it smiled:
Never again with Claud to walk or ride,
Partake his pleasures with a playful pride,
But cease from all companionship so shared,
And only have the hours his pity spared.
His pity--ah! his pity, would it prove
As warm and lasting as admiring love?
Or would her petty joys' late-spoken doom
Carry the great joy with them to joy's tomb?
Would all the hopes of life at once take wing?
The thought went through her with a secret sting,
And she repeated, with a moaning cry,
'Better to die, O God! 'Twere best to die!'
But we die not by wishing; in God's hour,
And not our own, do we yield up the power
To suffer or enjoy. The broken heart
Creeps through the world, encumbered by its clay;
While dearly loved and cherished ones depart,
Though prayer and sore lamenting clog their way.

She lived: she left that sick room, and was brought
Into the scenes of customary thought:
The banquet-room, where lonely sunshine slept,
Saw her sweet eyes look round before she wept;
The garden heard the slow wheels of her chair,
When noon-day heat had warmed the untried air;
The pictures she had smiled upon for years,
Met her gaze trembling through a mist of tears;
Her favourite dog, his long unspoken name
Hearing once more, with timid fawning came;
It seemed as if all things partook her blight,
And sank in shadow like a spell of night.

And she saw Claud,--Claud in the open day,
Who through dim sunsets, curtained half away,
And by the dawn, and by the lamp's pale ray
So long had watched her!
And Claud also saw,
That beauty which was once without a flaw;
And flushed,--but strove to hide the sense of shock,--
The feelings that some witchcraft seemed to mock.
Are those her eyes, those eyes so full of pain?
Her restless looks that hunt for ease in vain?
Is that her step, that halt uneven tread?
Is that her blooming cheek, so pale and dead?
Is that,--the querulous anxious mind that tells
Its little ills, and on each ailment dwells,--
The spirit alert which early morning stirred
Even as it rouses every gladsome bird,
Whose chorus of irregular music goes
Up with the dew that leaves the sun-touched rose?

Oh! altered, altered; even the smile is gone,
Which, like a sunbeam, once exulting shone!
Smiles have returned; but not the smiles of yore;
The joy, the youth, the triumph, are no more.
An anxious smile remains, that disconnects
Smiling from gladness; one that more dejects,
Than floods of passionate weeping, for it tries
To contradict the question of our eyes:
We say, 'Thou'rt pained, poor heart, and full of woe?'
It drops that shining veil, and answers 'No;'
Shrinks from the touch of unaccepted hands,
And while it grieves, a show of joy commands.
Wan shine such smiles;--as evening sunlight falls
On a deserted house whose empty walls
No longer echo to the children's play
Or voice of ruined inmates fled away;
Where wintry winds alone, with idle state,
Move the slow swinging of its rusty gate.

But something sadder even than her pain
Torments her now; and thrills each languid vein.
Love's tender instinct feels through every nerve
When love's desires, or love itself doth swerve.
All the world's praise re-echoed to the sky
Cancels not blame that shades a lover's eye;
All the world's blame, which scorn for scorn repays,
Fails to disturb the joy of lover's praise.
Ah! think not vanity alone doth deck
Wtih rounded pearls the young girl's innocent neck,
Who in her duller days contented tries
The homely robe that with no rival vies,
But on the happy night she hopes to meet
The one to whom she comes with trembling feet,
With crimson roses decks her bosom fair,
Warm as the thoughts of love all glowing there,
Because she must his favourite colours wear;
And all the bloom and beauty of her youth
Can scarce repay, she thinks, her lover's truth.

Vain is the argument so often moved,
'Who feels no jealousy hath never loved;'
She whose quick fading comes before her tomb,
Is jealous even of her former bloom.
Restless she pines; because, to her distress,
One charm the more is now one claim the less
On his regard whose words are her chief treasures,
And by whose love alone her worth she measures.

Gertrude of La Garaye, thy heart is sore;
A worm is gnawing at the rose's core,
A doubt corrodeth all thy tender trust,
The freshness of thy day is choked in dust.
Not for the pain--although the pain be great,
Not for the change--though changed be all thy state;
But for a sorrow dumb and unrevealed,
Most from its cause with mournful care concealed--
From Claud--who goes and who returns with sighs
And gazes on his wife with wistful eyes,
And muses in his brief and cheerless rides
If her dull mood will mend; and inly chides
His own sad spirit, that sinks down so low,
Instead of lifting her from all her woe;
And thinks if he but loved her less, that he
Could cheer her drooping soul with gaiety--
But wonders evermore that Beauty's loss
To such a soul should seem so sore a cross.

Until one evening in that quiet hush
That lulls the falling day, when all the gush
Of various sounds seem buried with the sun,
He told his thought.
As winter streamlets run,
Freed by some sudden thaw, and swift make way
Into the natural channels where they play,
So leaped her young heart to his tender tone,
So, answering to his warmth, resumed her own;
And all her doubt and all her grief confest,
Leaning her faint head on his faithful breast.

'Not always, Claud, did I my beauty prize;
Thy words first made it precious in my eyes,
And till thy fond voice made the gift seem rare,
Nor tongue nor mirror taught me I was fair.
I recked no more of beauty in that day
Of happy girlishness and childlike play,
Than some poor woodland bird who stays his flight
On some low bough when summer days are bright,
And in that pleasant sunshine sits and sings,
And breaks the plumage of his glistening wings,
Recks of the passer-by who stands to praise
His feathered smoothness and his thrilling lays.
But now, I make my moan--I make my moan--
I weep the brightness lost, the beauty gone;
Because, now, fading is to fall from thee,
As the dead fruit falls blighted from the tree;
For thee,--not vanished loveliness,--I weep;
My beauty was a spell, thy love to keep;
For I have heard and read how men forsake
When time and tears that gift of beauty take,
Nor care although the heart they leave may break!'

A husband's love was there--a husband's love,--
Strong, comforting, all other loves above;
On her bowed neck he laid his tender hand,
And his voice steadied to his soul's command:
'Oh! thou mistaken and unhappy child,
Still thy complainings, for thy words are wild.
Thy beauty, though so perfect, was but one
Of the bright ripples dancing to the sun,
Which, from the hour I hoped to call thee wife,
Glanced down the silver stream of happy life.
Whatever change Time's heavy clouds may make,
Those are the waters which my thirst shall slake;
River of all my hopes thou wert and art;
The current of thy being bears my heart;
Whether it sweep along in shine or shade,
By barren rocks, or banks in flowers arrayed,
Foam with the storm, or glide in soft repose,--
In that deep channel, love unswerving flows!
How canst thou dream of beauty as a thing
On which depends the heart's own withering?
Lips budding red wth tints of vernal years,
And delicate lids of eyes that shed no tears,
And light that falls upon the shining hair
As though it found a second sunbeam there,--
These must go by, my Gertrude, must go by;
The leaf must wither and the flower must die;
The rose can only have a rose's bloom;
Age would have wrought thy wondrous beauty's doom;
A little sooner did that beauty go--
A little sooner--Darling, take it so;
Nor add a strange despair to all this woe;
And take my faith, by changes unremoved,
To thy last hour of age and blight, beloved!'

But she again,--'Alas! not from distrust
I mourn, dear Claud, nor yet to thee unjust.
I love thee: I believe thee: yea, I know
Thy very soul is wrung to see my woe;
The earthquake of compassion trembles still
Within its depths, and conquers natural will.
But after,--after,--when the shock is past,--
When cruel Time, who flies to change so fast,
Hath made my suffering an accustomed thing,
And only left me slowly withering;
Then will the empty days rise chill and lorn,
The lonely evening, the unwelcome morn,
Until thy path at length be brightly crost
By some one holding all that I have lost;
Some one with youthful eyes, enchanting, bright,
Full as the morning of a liquid light;
And while my pale lip stiff and sad remains,
Her smiles shall thrill like sunbeams through thy veins:
I shall fade down, and she, with simple art,
All bloom and beauty, dance into thy heart!
Then, then, my Claud, shall I--at length alone--
Recede from thee with an unnoticed moan,
Sink where none heed me, and be seen no more,
Like waves that fringe the Netherlandish shore,
Which roll unmurmuring to the flat low land,
And sigh to death in that monotonous sand.'

Again his earnest hand on hers he lays,
With love and pain and wonder in his gaze.

'Oh, darling! bitter word and bitter thought
What dæmon to thy trusting heart hath brought?
It may be thus within some sensual breast,
By passion's fire, not true love's power possest;
The creature love, that never lingers late,
A springtide thirst for some chance-chosen mate.
Oh! my companion, 'twas not so with me;
Not in the days long past, nor now shall be.
The drunken dissolute hour of Love's sweet cup,
When eyes are wild, and mantling blood is up,
Even in my youth to me was all unknown:
Until I truly loved, I was alone.
I asked too much of intellect and grace,
To pine, though young, for every pretty face,
Whose passing brightness to quick fancies made
A sort of sunshine in the idle shade;
Beauties who starred the earth like common flowers,
The careless eglantines of wayside bowers.
I lingered till some blossom rich and rare
Hung like a glory on the scented air,
Enamouring at once the heart and eye,
So that I paused, and could not pass it by.
Then woke the passionate love within my heart,
And only with my life shall that depart;
'Twas not so sensual strong, so loving weak,
To ebb when ebbs the rose-tinge on thy cheek;
Fade with thy fading, weakening day by day
Till thy locks silver with a dawning grey:
No, Gertrude, trust me, for thou may'st believe,
A better faith is that which I receive;
Sacred I'll hold the sacred name of wife,
And love thee to the sunset verge of life!
Yea, shall so much of empire o'er man's soul
Live in a wanton's smile, and no control
Bind down his heart to keep a steadier faith,
For links that are to last from life to death?
Let those who can, in transient love rejoice,--
Still to new hopes breathe forth successive sighs,--
Give me the music of the accustomed voice,
And the sweet light of long familiar eyes!'

He ceased. But she, for all her fervent speech,
Sighed as she listened. 'Claud, I cannot reach
The summit of the hope where thou wouldst set me,
And all I crave is never to forget me!
Wedded I am to pain and not to thee,
Thy life's companion I no more can be,
For thou remainest all thou wert--but I
Am a fit bride for Death, and long to die.
Yea, long for death; for thou wouldst miss me then
More even than now, in mountain and in glen;
And musing by the white tomb where I lay,
Think of the happier time and earlier day,
And wonder if the love another gave
Equalled the passion buried in that grave.'

Then with a patient tenderness he took
That pale wife in his arms, with yearning look:
'Oh! dearer now than when thy girlish tongue
Faltered consent to love while both were young,
Weep no more foolish tears, but lift thy head;
Those drops fall on my heart like molten lead;
And all my soul is full of vain remorse,
Because I let thee take that dangerous course,
Share in the chase, pursue with horn and hound,
And follow madly o'er the roughened ground.
Not lightly did I love, nor lightly choose;
Whate'er thou losest I will also lose;
If bride of Death,--being first my chosen bride,--
I will await death, lingering by thy side;
And God, He knows, who reads all human thought,
And by whose will this bitter hour was brought,
How eagerly, could human pain be shifted,
I would lie low, and thou once more be lifted
To walk in beauty as thou didst before,
And smile upon the welcome world once more.
Oh! loved even to the brim of love's full fount,
Wilt thou set nothing to firm faith's account?
Choke back thy tears which are thy bitter smart,
Lean thy dear head upon my aching heart;
It may be God, who saw our careless life,
Not sinful, yet not blameless, my sweet wife,
(Since all we thought of, in our youth's bright May,
Was but the coming joy from day to day
Hath blotted out all joy to bid us learn
That this is not our home; and make us turn
From the enchanted earth, where much was given,
To higher aims, and a forgotten heaven.'

So spoke her love--and wept in spite of words;
While her heart echoed all his heart's accords,
And leaning down, she said with whispering sigh,
'I sinned, my Claud, in wishing so to die.'
Then they, who oft in Love's delicious bowers
Had fondly wasted glad and passionate hours,
Kissed with a mutual moan:--but o'er their lips
Love's light passed clear, from under Life's eclipse.

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Homer

The Odyssey: Book 1

Tell me, o muse, of that ingenious hero who travelled far and wide
after he had sacked the famous town of Troy. Many cities did he visit,
and many were the nations with whose manners and customs he was
acquainted; moreover he suffered much by sea while trying to save
his own life and bring his men safely home; but do what he might he
could not save his men, for they perished through their own sheer
folly in eating the cattle of the Sun-god Hyperion; so the god
prevented them from ever reaching home. Tell me, too, about all
these things, O daughter of Jove, from whatsoever source you may
know them.
So now all who escaped death in battle or by shipwreck had got
safely home except Ulysses, and he, though he was longing to return to
his wife and country, was detained by the goddess Calypso, who had got
him into a large cave and wanted to marry him. But as years went by,
there came a time when the gods settled that he should go back to
Ithaca; even then, however, when he was among his own people, his
troubles were not yet over; nevertheless all the gods had now begun to
pity him except Neptune, who still persecuted him without ceasing
and would not let him get home.
Now Neptune had gone off to the Ethiopians, who are at the world's
end, and lie in two halves, the one looking West and the other East.
He had gone there to accept a hecatomb of sheep and oxen, and was
enjoying himself at his festival; but the other gods met in the
house of Olympian Jove, and the sire of gods and men spoke first. At
that moment he was thinking of Aegisthus, who had been killed by
Agamemnon's son Orestes; so he said to the other gods:
"See now, how men lay blame upon us gods for what is after all
nothing but their own folly. Look at Aegisthus; he must needs make
love to Agamemnon's wife unrighteously and then kill Agamemnon, though
he knew it would be the death of him; for I sent Mercury to warn him
not to do either of these things, inasmuch as Orestes would be sure to
take his revenge when he grew up and wanted to return home. Mercury
told him this in all good will but he would not listen, and now he has
paid for everything in full."
Then Minerva said, "Father, son of Saturn, King of kings, it
served Aegisthus right, and so it would any one else who does as he
did; but Aegisthus is neither here nor there; it is for Ulysses that
my heart bleeds, when I think of his sufferings in that lonely
sea-girt island, far away, poor man, from all his friends. It is an
island covered with forest, in the very middle of the sea, and a
goddess lives there, daughter of the magician Atlas, who looks after
the bottom of the ocean, and carries the great columns that keep
heaven and earth asunder. This daughter of Atlas has got hold of
poor unhappy Ulysses, and keeps trying by every kind of blandishment
to make him forget his home, so that he is tired of life, and thinks
of nothing but how he may once more see the smoke of his own chimneys.
You, sir, take no heed of this, and yet when Ulysses was before Troy
did he not propitiate you with many a burnt sacrifice? Why then should
you keep on being so angry with him?"
And Jove said, "My child, what are you talking about? How can I
forget Ulysses than whom there is no more capable man on earth, nor
more liberal in his offerings to the immortal gods that live in
heaven? Bear in mind, however, that Neptune is still furious with
Ulysses for having blinded an eye of Polyphemus king of the
Cyclopes. Polyphemus is son to Neptune by the nymph Thoosa, daughter
to the sea-king Phorcys; therefore though he will not kill Ulysses
outright, he torments him by preventing him from getting home.
Still, let us lay our heads together and see how we can help him to
return; Neptune will then be pacified, for if we are all of a mind
he can hardly stand out against us."
And Minerva said, "Father, son of Saturn, King of kings, if, then,
the gods now mean that Ulysses should get home, we should first send
Mercury to the Ogygian island to tell Calypso that we have made up our
minds and that he is to return. In the meantime I will go to Ithaca,
to put heart into Ulysses' son Telemachus; I will embolden him to call
the Achaeans in assembly, and speak out to the suitors of his mother
Penelope, who persist in eating up any number of his sheep and oxen; I
will also conduct him to Sparta and to Pylos, to see if he can hear
anything about the return of his dear father- for this will make
people speak well of him."
So saying she bound on her glittering golden sandals,
imperishable, with which she can fly like the wind over land or sea;
she grasped the redoubtable bronze-shod spear, so stout and sturdy and
strong, wherewith she quells the ranks of heroes who have displeased
her, and down she darted from the topmost summits of Olympus,
whereon forthwith she was in Ithaca, at the gateway of Ulysses' house,
disguised as a visitor, Mentes, chief of the Taphians, and she held
a bronze spear in her hand. There she found the lordly suitors
seated on hides of the oxen which they had killed and eaten, and
playing draughts in front of the house. Men-servants and pages were
bustling about to wait upon them, some mixing wine with water in the
mixing-bowls, some cleaning down the tables with wet sponges and
laying them out again, and some cutting up great quantities of meat.
Telemachus saw her long before any one else did. He was sitting
moodily among the suitors thinking about his brave father, and how
he would send them flying out of the house, if he were to come to
his own again and be honoured as in days gone by. Thus brooding as
he sat among them, he caught sight of Minerva and went straight to the
gate, for he was vexed that a stranger should be kept waiting for
admittance. He took her right hand in his own, and bade her give him
her spear. "Welcome," said he, "to our house, and when you have
partaken of food you shall tell us what you have come for."
He led the way as he spoke, and Minerva followed him. When they were
within he took her spear and set it in the spear- stand against a
strong bearing-post along with the many other spears of his unhappy
father, and he conducted her to a richly decorated seat under which he
threw a cloth of damask. There was a footstool also for her feet,
and he set another seat near her for himself, away from the suitors,
that she might not be annoyed while eating by their noise and
insolence, and that he might ask her more freely about his father.
A maid servant then brought them water in a beautiful golden ewer
and poured it into a silver basin for them to wash their hands, and
she drew a clean table beside them. An upper servant brought them
bread, and offered them many good things of what there was in the
house, the carver fetched them plates of all manner of meats and set
cups of gold by their side, and a man-servant brought them wine and
poured it out for them.
Then the suitors came in and took their places on the benches and
seats. Forthwith men servants poured water over their hands, maids
went round with the bread-baskets, pages filled the mixing-bowls
with wine and water, and they laid their hands upon the good things
that were before them. As soon as they had had enough to eat and drink
they wanted music and dancing, which are the crowning embellishments
of a banquet, so a servant brought a lyre to Phemius, whom they
compelled perforce to sing to them. As soon as he touched his lyre and
began to sing Telemachus spoke low to Minerva, with his head close
to hers that no man might hear.
"I hope, sir," said he, "that you will not be offended with what I
am going to say. Singing comes cheap to those who do not pay for it,
and all this is done at the cost of one whose bones lie rotting in
some wilderness or grinding to powder in the surf. If these men were
to see my father come back to Ithaca they would pray for longer legs
rather than a longer purse, for money would not serve them; but he,
alas, has fallen on an ill fate, and even when people do sometimes say
that he is coming, we no longer heed them; we shall never see him
again. And now, sir, tell me and tell me true, who you are and where
you come from. Tell me of your town and parents, what manner of ship
you came in, how your crew brought you to Ithaca, and of what nation
they declared themselves to be- for you cannot have come by land. Tell
me also truly, for I want to know, are you a stranger to this house,
or have you been here in my father's time? In the old days we had many
visitors for my father went about much himself."
And Minerva answered, "I will tell you truly and particularly all
about it. I am Mentes, son of Anchialus, and I am King of the
Taphians. I have come here with my ship and crew, on a voyage to men
of a foreign tongue being bound for Temesa with a cargo of iron, and I
shall bring back copper. As for my ship, it lies over yonder off the
open country away from the town, in the harbour Rheithron under the
wooded mountain Neritum. Our fathers were friends before us, as old
Laertes will tell you, if you will go and ask him. They say,
however, that he never comes to town now, and lives by himself in
the country, faring hardly, with an old woman to look after him and
get his dinner for him, when he comes in tired from pottering about
his vineyard. They told me your father was at home again, and that was
why I came, but it seems the gods are still keeping him back, for he
is not dead yet not on the mainland. It is more likely he is on some
sea-girt island in mid ocean, or a prisoner among savages who are
detaining him against his will I am no prophet, and know very little
about omens, but I speak as it is borne in upon me from heaven, and
assure you that he will not be away much longer; for he is a man of
such resource that even though he were in chains of iron he would find
some means of getting home again. But tell me, and tell me true, can
Ulysses really have such a fine looking fellow for a son? You are
indeed wonderfully like him about the head and eyes, for we were close
friends before he set sail for Troy where the flower of all the
Argives went also. Since that time we have never either of us seen the
other."
"My mother," answered Telemachus, tells me I am son to Ulysses,
but it is a wise child that knows his own father. Would that I were
son to one who had grown old upon his own estates, for, since you
ask me, there is no more ill-starred man under heaven than he who they
tell me is my father."
And Minerva said, "There is no fear of your race dying out yet,
while Penelope has such a fine son as you are. But tell me, and tell
me true, what is the meaning of all this feasting, and who are these
people? What is it all about? Have you some banquet, or is there a
wedding in the family- for no one seems to be bringing any
provisions of his own? And the guests- how atrociously they are
behaving; what riot they make over the whole house; it is enough to
disgust any respectable person who comes near them."
"Sir," said Telemachus, "as regards your question, so long as my
father was here it was well with us and with the house, but the gods
in their displeasure have willed it otherwise, and have hidden him
away more closely than mortal man was ever yet hidden. I could have
borne it better even though he were dead, if he had fallen with his
men before Troy, or had died with friends around him when the days
of his fighting were done; for then the Achaeans would have built a
mound over his ashes, and I should myself have been heir to his
renown; but now the storm-winds have spirited him away we know not
wither; he is gone without leaving so much as a trace behind him,
and I inherit nothing but dismay. Nor does the matter end simply
with grief for the loss of my father; heaven has laid sorrows upon
me of yet another kind; for the chiefs from all our islands,
Dulichium, Same, and the woodland island of Zacynthus, as also all the
principal men of Ithaca itself, are eating up my house under the
pretext of paying their court to my mother, who will neither point
blank say that she will not marry, nor yet bring matters to an end; so
they are making havoc of my estate, and before long will do so also
with myself."
"Is that so?" exclaimed Minerva, "then you do indeed want Ulysses
home again. Give him his helmet, shield, and a couple lances, and if
he is the man he was when I first knew him in our house, drinking
and making merry, he would soon lay his hands about these rascally
suitors, were he to stand once more upon his own threshold. He was
then coming from Ephyra, where he had been to beg poison for his
arrows from Ilus, son of Mermerus. Ilus feared the ever-living gods
and would not give him any, but my father let him have some, for he
was very fond of him. If Ulysses is the man he then was these
suitors will have a short shrift and a sorry wedding.
"But there! It rests with heaven to determine whether he is to
return, and take his revenge in his own house or no; I would, however,
urge you to set about trying to get rid of these suitors at once. Take
my advice, call the Achaean heroes in assembly to-morrow -lay your
case before them, and call heaven to bear you witness. Bid the suitors
take themselves off, each to his own place, and if your mother's
mind is set on marrying again, let her go back to her father, who will
find her a husband and provide her with all the marriage gifts that so
dear a daughter may expect. As for yourself, let me prevail upon you
to take the best ship you can get, with a crew of twenty men, and go
in quest of your father who has so long been missing. Some one may
tell you something, or (and people often hear things in this way) some
heaven-sent message may direct you. First go to Pylos and ask
Nestor; thence go on to Sparta and visit Menelaus, for he got home
last of all the Achaeans; if you hear that your father is alive and on
his way home, you can put up with the waste these suitors will make
for yet another twelve months. If on the other hand you hear of his
death, come home at once, celebrate his funeral rites with all due
pomp, build a barrow to his memory, and make your mother marry
again. Then, having done all this, think it well over in your mind
how, by fair means or foul, you may kill these suitors in your own
house. You are too old to plead infancy any longer; have you not heard
how people are singing Orestes' praises for having killed his father's
murderer Aegisthus? You are a fine, smart looking fellow; show your
mettle, then, and make yourself a name in story. Now, however, I
must go back to my ship and to my crew, who will be impatient if I
keep them waiting longer; think the matter over for yourself, and
remember what I have said to you."
"Sir," answered Telemachus, "it has been very kind of you to talk to
me in this way, as though I were your own son, and I will do all you
tell me; I know you want to be getting on with your voyage, but stay a
little longer till you have taken a bath and refreshed yourself. I
will then give you a present, and you shall go on your way
rejoicing; I will give you one of great beauty and value- a keepsake
such as only dear friends give to one another."
Minerva answered, "Do not try to keep me, for I would be on my way
at once. As for any present you may be disposed to make me, keep it
till I come again, and I will take it home with me. You shall give
me a very good one, and I will give you one of no less value in
return."
With these words she flew away like a bird into the air, but she had
given Telemachus courage, and had made him think more than ever
about his father. He felt the change, wondered at it, and knew that
the stranger had been a god, so he went straight to where the
suitors were sitting.
Phemius was still singing, and his hearers sat rapt in silence as he
told the sad tale of the return from Troy, and the ills Minerva had
laid upon the Achaeans. Penelope, daughter of Icarius, heard his
song from her room upstairs, and came down by the great staircase, not
alone, but attended by two of her handmaids. When she reached the
suitors she stood by one of the bearing posts that supported the
roof of the cloisters with a staid maiden on either side of her. She
held a veil, moreover, before her face, and was weeping bitterly.
"Phemius," she cried, "you know many another feat of gods and
heroes, such as poets love to celebrate. Sing the suitors some one
of these, and let them drink their wine in silence, but cease this sad
tale, for it breaks my sorrowful heart, and reminds me of my lost
husband whom I mourn ever without ceasing, and whose name was great
over all Hellas and middle Argos."
"Mother," answered Telemachus, "let the bard sing what he has a mind
to; bards do not make the ills they sing of; it is Jove, not they, who
makes them, and who sends weal or woe upon mankind according to his
own good pleasure. This fellow means no harm by singing the
ill-fated return of the Danaans, for people always applaud the
latest songs most warmly. Make up your mind to it and bear it; Ulysses
is not the only man who never came back from Troy, but many another
went down as well as he. Go, then, within the house and busy
yourself with your daily duties, your loom, your distaff, and the
ordering of your servants; for speech is man's matter, and mine
above all others- for it is I who am master here."
She went wondering back into the house, and laid her son's saying in
her heart. Then, going upstairs with her handmaids into her room,
she mourned her dear husband till Minerva shed sweet sleep over her
eyes. But the suitors were clamorous throughout the covered cloisters,
and prayed each one that he might be her bed fellow.
Then Telemachus spoke, "Shameless," he cried, "and insolent suitors,
let us feast at our pleasure now, and let there be no brawling, for it
is a rare thing to hear a man with such a divine voice as Phemius has;
but in the morning meet me in full assembly that I may give you formal
notice to depart, and feast at one another's houses, turn and turn
about, at your own cost. If on the other hand you choose to persist in
spunging upon one man, heaven help me, but Jove shall reckon with
you in full, and when you fall in my father's house there shall be
no man to avenge you."
The suitors bit their lips as they heard him, and marvelled at the
boldness of his speech. Then, Antinous, son of Eupeithes, said, "The
gods seem to have given you lessons in bluster and tall talking; may
Jove never grant you to be chief in Ithaca as your father was before
you."
Telemachus answered, "Antinous, do not chide with me, but, god
willing, I will be chief too if I can. Is this the worst fate you
can think of for me? It is no bad thing to be a chief, for it brings
both riches and honour. Still, now that Ulysses is dead there are many
great men in Ithaca both old and young, and some other may take the
lead among them; nevertheless I will be chief in my own house, and
will rule those whom Ulysses has won for me."
Then Eurymachus, son of Polybus, answered, "It rests with heaven
to decide who shall be chief among us, but you shall be master in your
own house and over your own possessions; no one while there is a man
in Ithaca shall do you violence nor rob you. And now, my good
fellow, I want to know about this stranger. What country does he
come from? Of what family is he, and where is his estate? Has he
brought you news about the return of your father, or was he on
business of his own? He seemed a well-to-do man, but he hurried off so
suddenly that he was gone in a moment before we could get to know
him."
"My father is dead and gone," answered Telemachus, "and even if some
rumour reaches me I put no more faith in it now. My mother does indeed
sometimes send for a soothsayer and question him, but I give his
prophecyings no heed. As for the stranger, he was Mentes, son of
Anchialus, chief of the Taphians, an old friend of my father's." But
in his heart he knew that it had been the goddess.
The suitors then returned to their singing and dancing until the
evening; but when night fell upon their pleasuring they went home to
bed each in his own abode. Telemachus's room was high up in a tower
that looked on to the outer court; hither, then, he hied, brooding and
full of thought. A good old woman, Euryclea, daughter of Ops, the
son of Pisenor, went before him with a couple of blazing torches.
Laertes had bought her with his own money when she was quite young; he
gave the worth of twenty oxen for her, and shewed as much respect to
her in his household as he did to his own wedded wife, but he did
not take her to his bed for he feared his wife's resentment. She it
was who now lighted Telemachus to his room, and she loved him better
than any of the other women in the house did, for she had nursed him
when he was a baby. He opened the door of his bed room and sat down
upon the bed; as he took off his shirt he gave it to the good old
woman, who folded it tidily up, and hung it for him over a peg by
his bed side, after which she went out, pulled the door to by a silver
catch, and drew the bolt home by means of the strap. But Telemachus as
he lay covered with a woollen fleece kept thinking all night through
of his intended voyage of the counsel that Minerva had given him.

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