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Tell Me How I Die

Cast: Nathan Kress, Virginia Gardner, Kirby Bliss Blanton, Ryan Higa, Mark Furze, Ethan Peck, William Mapother, Mark Rolston

trailer for Tell Me How I Die, directed by D.J. Viola, screenplay, inspired by James Hibberd (2016)Report problemRelated quotes
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Twin State

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Veterinary Camps

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The Disgarded Garden

Their once was a young man who wanted to become a Gardner. There once was a young Rose Tree that wanted a Gardener. They met each other one summer day and began what seemed to be a beautiful relationship. The Gardner was attentive of his garden along with his Rose Tree and the Rose Tree was so happy that its tender branches grew and it bloomed continuously for the Gardner so he’d always be happy.

As time went by the Rose Tree noticed that Gardner wouldn’t tend to her as much as he once did. And when he did he would cut away harshly at the Rose Tree. The Rose Tree being a simple plant who did not need much attention still bloomed for the Gardner. It seemed the more she tried, the more the Gardner would cut away and the tree was now nestled in the ground. Why could this be? He had a bountiful garden that any Gardner would have loved to have. What more could anyone want thought the Rose Tree.

Now in an abandoned garden the Rose Tree grows back its branches, with very thick thorn’s to protect it self. As time goes by one day, out of nowhere appears a Gardener who has silently admired the Rose Tree from outside the garden gates and begins to nurture the Rose Tree in her garden. He tenderly and sympathetically pulls away all the weeds and brush from the Rose Tree so the air, rain & sunshine can reach her again. Allowing her the opportunity to grow back as she once was; vibrant, strong, colorful and to be simply, herself.

This is something the Rose Tree had long forgotten and is very grateful for the loving words of encouragement and kindness that her new Gardner has shown. She longingly awaits for his visits and when the Gardner comes to see her she bloom’s for him and relaxes underneath his beautifully kind smile. My darling Gardner, I am glad fate has brought you to walk along the path leading to the once lost garden and Rose Tree.

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In Pursuit of the Poetic Soul of Ryan Adams

In Pursuit of the Poetic Soul of Ryan Adams

By Uriah Lee Hamilton

Last day of summer, football Saturday afternoon. A Warm breeze was pushing me toward Ann Arbor like a happy autumn leaf in pursuit of the beautiful poetic soul of Ryan Adams. Lovely charming mood all the way playing Easy Tiger and Demolition and feeling like the universe was kind and smiling.
Exit off 94 West onto State Street and all excited to make my way to Liberty Street and the heart of the College town I love. Kids were milling around everywhere in their gold and blue, gleeful and happy that Michigan is now playing 500 football after a discouraging start. Parking spaces across the street from Michigan Theater in the parking structure are all taken, I have to drive to the roof and still wait for a football fan to leave.
Me and my friend Cassandra start walking around and dig everything and everyone we see. Ann Arbor brings out your gentle Jack Kerouac nature, the part of you that wants to praise everything for it’s sad but beautiful, integral purpose to this existence.
We enter an Eastern clothing and folk art store that is positively charming and enlightening. I can’t remember the name of the store. Perhaps, it is called the Enchanted Sarong. It almost felt like George Harrison was there with us, beautiful carved statues of Buddha and Krishna and Ganesha were everywhere. The sales lady was friendly and helpful and said sweetly, “we’re Om friendly” as we asked about carved symbols for the breath-word Om. The serene incense Nag Champa drifted through the room but it was now time to leave and make our way to the Ryan Adams concert at Michigan Theater.
I purchased my tickets the very minute they went on sale and prayed I had front row despite my tickets saying double A. No Such luck, but I was still happy to be in row 27. As I was waiting for the show to begin, I saw my concert friend Jeremy and got his attention. He looked as happy and as excited as myself and said he had spent a fortune at some cool record store. Jeremy then handed me a beautiful soundboard copy of Ryan Adams at the Gem Theater in downtown Detroit June 20th 2007. Man, how I’ve been longing for that show! I then gave Jeremy a copy of Ryan’s punk rock band the Finger.
Now the lights go out and the music begins. Ryan Opens with Goodnight Rose and closes with Goodnight Hollywood Boulevard. Everything in-between is just magical. The first auspicious sign was that Ryan came out playing guitar! ! In June, he only sang, he didn’t play any instruments, some injury sidelined him. The June Show as a result was more subtle, almost like MTV Unplugged. Subtle but amazing. Last night was more rocking and adventurous with reworked extended arrangements, ala the Grateful Dead. In particular was a long and lovely version of Off Broadway from Easy Tiger. At the completion of Off Broadway, I shouted, “That was gorgeous! ” Of course, I may have added an expletive, all in the interest of ecstatic joy for music.
Ryan told a story during the show about running into a girl on her way to the concert that didn’t recognize him because he dresses like a plumber. My friend after the show said she thought she saw Ryan Adams on the street near the theater. I asked, “Really? ” She said, “I saw someone that looked like a plumber.” I can say, I didn’t see Ryan on the streets anywhere in Ann Arbor yesterday, but I have been known to miss a plumber or two in my day.
The first two songs in the encore made the whole show for me. Ryan came out by himself with an acoustic guitar and sang Call Me On Your Way Back Home. Toward the end of the song, Ryan played harmonica and I screamed like a schoolgirl, pretty much the way I do whenever Bobby Dylan plays harmonica! And if that wasn’t enough to make the end of summer completely magical, Ryan then sat down at the piano and sang Sylvia Plath: Oh my God, the point of tears! I’ve waited six years to hear him sing that song live from the Album Gold. As I told my friend, that was the song that sealed the deal making Ryan Adams my modern hero! If you want to get my attention and loyalty, sing about one of the tragic poets I love.

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Carmen Seculare. For the Year 1700. To The King

Thy elder Look, Great Janus, cast
Into the long Records of Ages past:
Review the Years in fairest Action drest
With noted White, Superior to the rest;
Aera's deriv'd, and Chronicles begun
From Empires founded, and from Battels won:
Show all the Spoils by valiant Kings achiev'd,
And groaning Nations by Their Arms reliev'd;
The Wounds of Patriots in their Country's Cause,
And happy Pow'r sustain'd by wholesom Laws:
In comely Rank call ev'ry Merit forth:
Imprint on ev'ry Act it's Standard Worth:
The glorious Parallels then downward bring
To Modern Wonders, and to Britain's King:
With equal Justice and Historic Care
Their Laws, Their Toils, Their Arms with His compare:
Confess the various Attributes of Fame
Collected and compleat in William's Name:
To all the list'ning World relate
(As Thou dost His Story read)
That nothing went before so Great,
And nothing Greater can succeed.
Thy Native Latium was Thy darling Care,
Prudent in Peace, and terrible in War:
The boldest Virtues that have govern'd Earth
From Latium's fruitful Womb derive their Birth.
Then turn to Her fair-written Page:
From dawning Childhood to establish'd Age,
The Glories of Her Empire trace:
Confront the Heroes of Thy Roman Race:
And let the justest Palm the Victor's Temples grace.
The Son of Mars reduc'd the trembling Swains,
And spread His Empire o'er the distant Plains:
But yet the Sabins violated Charms
Obscur'd the Glory of His rising Arms.
Numa the Rights of strict Religion knew;
On ev'ry Altar laid the Incense due;
Unskill'd to dart the pointed Spear,
Or lead the forward Youth to noble War.
Stern Brutus was with too much Horror good,
Holding his Fasces stain'd with Filial Blood.
Fabius was Wise, but with Excess of Care;
He sav'd his Country; but prolonged the War:
While Decius, Paulus, Curius greatly fought;
And by Their strict Examples taught,
How wild Desires should be controll'd;
And how much brighter Virtue was, than Gold;
They scarce Their swelling Thirst of Fame could hide;
And boasted Poverty with too much Pride.
Excess in Youth made Scipio less rever'd:

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Lord William

No eye beheld when William plunged
Young Edmund in the stream,
No human ear but William's heard
Young Edmund's drowning scream.

Submissive all the vassals own'd
The murderer for their Lord,
And he, the rightful heir, possessed
The house of Erlingford.

The ancient house of Erlingford
Stood midst a fair domain,
And Severn's ample waters near
Roll'd through the fertile plain.

And often the way-faring man
Would love to linger there,
Forgetful of his onward road
To gaze on scenes so fair.

But never could Lord William dare
To gaze on Severn's stream;
In every wind that swept its waves
He heard young Edmund scream.

In vain at midnight's silent hour
Sleep closed the murderer's eyes,
In every dream the murderer saw
Young Edmund's form arise.

In vain by restless conscience driven
Lord William left his home,
Far from the scenes that saw his guilt,
In pilgrimage to roam.

To other climes the pilgrim fled,
But could not fly despair,
He sought his home again, but peace
Was still a stranger there.

Each hour was tedious long, yet swift
The months appear'd to roll;
And now the day return'd that shook
With terror William's soul.

A day that William never felt
Return without dismay,
For well had conscience kalendered
Young Edmund's dying day.

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XI. Guido

You are the Cardinal Acciaiuoli, and you,
Abate Panciatichi—two good Tuscan names:
Acciaiuoli—ah, your ancestor it was
Built the huge battlemented convent-block
Over the little forky flashing Greve
That takes the quick turn at the foot o' the hill
Just as one first sees Florence: oh those days!
'T is Ema, though, the other rivulet,
The one-arched brown brick bridge yawns over,—yes,
Gallop and go five minutes, and you gain
The Roman Gate from where the Ema's bridged:
Kingfishers fly there: how I see the bend
O'erturreted by Certosa which he built,
That Senescal (we styled him) of your House!
I do adjure you, help me, Sirs! My blood
Comes from as far a source: ought it to end
This way, by leakage through their scaffold-planks
Into Rome's sink where her red refuse runs?
Sirs, I beseech you by blood-sympathy,
If there be any vile experiment
In the air,—if this your visit simply prove,
When all's done, just a well-intentioned trick,
That tries for truth truer than truth itself,
By startling up a man, ere break of day,
To tell him he must die at sunset,—pshaw!
That man's a Franceschini; feel his pulse,
Laugh at your folly, and let's all go sleep!
You have my last word,—innocent am I
As Innocent my Pope and murderer,
Innocent as a babe, as Mary's own,
As Mary's self,—I said, say and repeat,—
And why, then, should I die twelve hours hence? I—
Whom, not twelve hours ago, the gaoler bade
Turn to my straw-truss, settle and sleep sound
That I might wake the sooner, promptlier pay
His due of meat-and-drink-indulgence, cross
His palm with fee of the good-hand, beside,
As gallants use who go at large again!
For why? All honest Rome approved my part;
Whoever owned wife, sister, daughter,—nay,
Mistress,—had any shadow of any right
That looks like right, and, all the more resolved,
Held it with tooth and nail,—these manly men
Approved! I being for Rome, Rome was for me.
Then, there's the point reserved, the subterfuge
My lawyers held by, kept for last resource,
Firm should all else,—the impossible fancy!—fail,
And sneaking burgess-spirit win the day.
The knaves! One plea at least would hold,—they laughed,—
One grappling-iron scratch the bottom-rock

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Conroy's Gap

This was the way of it, don't you know --
Ryan was "wanted" for stealing sheep,
And never a trooper, high or low,
Could find him -- catch a weasel asleep!
Till Trooper Scott, from the Stockman's Ford --
A bushman, too, as I've heard them tell --
Chanced to find him drunk as a lord
Round at the Shadow of Death Hotel.
D'you know the place? It's a wayside inn,
A low grog-shanty -- a bushman trap,
Hiding away in its shame and sin
Under the shelter of Conroy's Gap --
Under the shade of that frowning range
The roughest crowd that ever drew breath --
Thieves and rowdies, uncouth and strange,
Were mustered round at the "Shadow of Death".

The trooper knew that his man would slide
Like a dingo pup, if he saw the chance;
And with half a start on the mountain side
Ryan would lead him a merry dance.
Drunk as he was when the trooper came,
to him that did not matter a rap --
Drunk or sober, he was the same,
The boldest rider in Conroy's Gap.

"I want you, Ryan," the trooper said,
"And listen to me, if you dare resist,
So help me heaven, I'll shoot you dead!"
He snapped the steel on his prisoner's wrist,
And Ryan, hearing the handcuffs click,
Recovered his wits as they turned to go,
For fright will sober a man as quick
As all the drugs that the doctors know.

There was a girl in that shanty bar
Went by the name of Kate Carew,
Quiet and shy as the bush girls are,
But ready-witted and plucky, too.
She loved this Ryan, or so they say,
And passing by, while her eyes were dim
With tears, she said in a careless way,
"The Swagman's round in the stable, Jim."

Spoken too low for the trooper's ear,
Why should she care if he heard or not?
Plenty of swagmen far and near --
And yet to Ryan it meant a lot.
That was the name of the grandest horse
In all the district from east to west;

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An Ode - In Imitation of Horace, Book III. Ode II.

How long, deluded Albion, wilt thou lie
In the lethargic sleep, the sad repose
By which thy close thy constant enemy
Has softly lull'd thee to thy woes?
Or wake, degenerate isle, or cease to own
What thy old kings in Gallic camps have done,
The spoils they brought thee back, the crowns they won,
William (so Fate requires) again is arm'd,
Thy father to the field is gone,
Again Maria weeps her absent lord,
For thy repose content to rule alone.
Are thy enervate sons not yet alarm'd?
When William fights dare they look tamely on,
So slow to get their ancient fame restored,
As not to melt at Beauty's tears nor follow Valour's sword?

See the repenting isle awakes,
Her vicious chains the generous goddess breaks;
The fogs around her temples are dispell'd;
Abroad she looks, and sees arm'd Belgia stand
Prepared to meet heir common lord's command,
Her lions roaring by her side, her arrows in her hand,
And blushing to have been so long withheld,
Weeps off her crime, and hastens to the field:
Henceforth her youth shall be inured to bear
Hazardous toil and active war:
To march beneath the dogstar's raging heat,
Patient of summer's drought and martial sweat,
And only grieve in winter's camp to find
Its days too short for labours they design'd:
All night beneath hard heavy arms to watch,
All day to mount the trench, to storm the breach,
And all the rugged paths to tread
Where William and his virtue led.

Silence is the soul of war;
Deliberate counsel must prepare
The mighty work which valour must complete:
Thus William rescued, thus preserves the state,
Thus teaches us to think and dare:
As, whilst his cannon just prepared to breathe
Avenging anger and swift death,
In the tried metal the close dangers glow,
And now, too late, the dying foe
Perceives the flame, yet cannot ward the blow;
So whilst in William's breast ripe counsels lie,
Secret and sure as brooding Fate,
No more of his design appears
Than what awakens Gallia's fears,
And (though Guilt's eye can sharply penetrate)

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Haunted By Tigers

NATHAN BEANS and William Lambert were two wild New England boys,
Known from infancy to revel only in forbidden joys.
Many a mother of Nantucket bristled when she heard them come,
With a horrid skulking whistle, tempting her good lad from home.
But for all maternal bristling little did they seem to care,
And they loved each other dearly, did this good-for-nothing pair.

So they lived till eighteen summers found them in the same repute,—
They had well-developed muscles, and loose characters to boot.
Then they did what wild Nantucket boys have never failed to do,—
Went and filled two oily bunks among a whaler's oily crew.
And the mothers,—ah! they raised their hands and blessed the lucky day,
While Nantucket waved its handkerchief to see them sail away.

On a four years' cruise they started in the brave old 'Patience Parr,'
And were soon initiated in the mysteries of tar.
There they found the truth that whalers' tales are unsubstantial wiles,—
They were sick and sore and sorry ere they passed the Western Isles;
And their captain, old-man Sculpin, gave their fancies little scope,
For he argued with a marlinspike and reasoned with a rope.
But they stuck together bravely, they were Ishmaels with the crew:
Nathan's voice was never raised but Bill's support was uttered too;
And whenever Beans was floored by Sculpin's cruel marlinspike,
Down beside him went poor Lambert, for his hand was clenched to strike.
So they passed two years in cruising, till one breathless burning day
The old 'Patience Parr' in Sunda Straits with flapping canvas lay.
On her starboard side Sumatra's woods were dark beneath the glare,
And on her port stretched Java, slumbering in the yellow air,—
Slumbering as the jaguar slumbers, as the tropic ocean sleeps,
Smooth and smiling on its surface with a devil in its deeps.
So swooned Java's moveless forest, but the jungle round its root
Knew the rustling anaconda and the tiger's padded foot.
There in Nature's rankest garden, Nature's worst alone is rife,
And a glorious land is wild-beast ruled for want of human life.
Scarce a harmless thing moved on it, not a living soul was near
From the frowning rocks of Java Head right northward to Anjier.
Crestless swells, like wind-raised canvas, made the whaler rise and dip,
Else she lay upon the water like a paralytic ship;

And beneath a topsail awning lay the lazy, languid crew,
Drinking in the precious coolness of the shadow,—all save two:
Two poor Ishmaels,—they were absent, Heaven help them!— roughly tied
'Neath the blistering cruel sun-glare in the fore-chains, side by side.
Side by side as it was always, each one with a word of cheer
For the other, and for his sake bravely choking back the tear.
Side by side, their pain or pastime never yet seemed good for one;
But whenever pain came, each in secret wished the other gone.

You who stop at home and saunter o'er your flower scattered path,
With life's corners velvet cushioned, have you seen a tyrant's wrath? —

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Jonathan Nathan Go Do Your Homework

JONATHAN NATHAN GO DO YOUR HOMEWORK!

Little Jonathan Nathan looked at his mama.
“Juan wasn’t at school today.
His family are illegal immigrants. They’re being deported.”
“Good, they have no business being here.”

“He was looking through the fence at school,
And he was crying. Why was he sad? ”
“He’s being sent back to Mexico where he belongs.
You know he and his family are here illegally.”

“Are we here legally? ”
“Why Jonathan Nathan, of course we are! ”
And, I am a Daughter of the Revolution.
This country was built on such as we.”

“Were we here before anyone else? ”
“Well, no, there were some Indians and Mexicans.
But they don’t count. We count.”
“Why do we count and they don’t? ”

“JONATHAN NATHAN GO DO YOUR HOMEWORK! ”

“I can’t. I keep seeing Juan crying at the fence, ”
“We had a right to this land by the Doctrine of Manifest Destiny.
That means from sea to sea, we have a right to this land.
God gave us that right.” “MAMA! Did you hear God say so? ”

“JONATHAN NATHAN GO DO YOUR HOMEWORK! ”

“Mama, where did we come from? ”
“Well, they took us out of jails in England, mostly,
because we had to steal food for our families,
And they sent us to America.”

“Mama, that’s almost like Juan’s Mama and Daddy!
They came here to earn money to feed their family!
And they do work no one else wants to do.
They’re like we were long ago! ”

“JONATHAN NATHAN GO DO YOUR HOMEWORK! ”

“But Mama…” “We fought a war for this land and won.”
“Didn’t it belong to the Mexican people first? ”
“Well, yes, and we offered them money for the land,
But they refused to be reasonable about it.”

“Our teacher says our Constitution is the hope of the world.
I was just wondering, since they were here first,

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Epitaph on an Unread Verse after William Carlos Williams' Red Wheelbarrow

This is just to play on plum phrases
hibernating in your brainbox,
which your neurones were probably waiting for
to break free fast.

Forgive me their taste is delicious,
so neat and so bold.

An agèd poet with hollow laughter
swiftly sprayed her incisive syllables
in consonant activity and, yearning,
paid [s]lip service:

so much depends
upon lifelong learning's expectations,
an unread verse [s]pokes for comments,
reigns above lily-livered chicken-hearted critics
before a blank screen.

so much more depends
upon monochromatic ash clouds
glazed with silicates
beside Icelandic
eruptions.

Life is verse role-reversing uninclined ignorance
shadowing dis...inclined ink lined page.

(Revised 3 October 2009 and19 Aptil 2010)

This is Just to Say

I have eaten
the plums
that were in
the icebox

and which
you were probably
saving
for breakfast

Forgive me
they were delicious
so sweet
and so cold
William Carlos Williams 1883_1963

Variation on a Theme by William Carlos Williams
1 I chopped down the house that you had been saving to live in next summer. I am sorry, but it was morning, and I had nothing to do and its wooden beams were so inviting.

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William and Helen

I.
From heavy dreams fair Helen rose,
And eyed the dawning red:
'Alas, my love, thou tarriest long!
O art thou false or dead?'-

II.
With gallant Fred'rick's princely power
He sought the bold Crusade;
But not a word from Judah's wars
Told Helen how he sped.

III.
With Paynim and with Saracen
At length a truce was made,
And every knight return'd to dry
The tears his love had shed.

IV.
Our gallant host was homeward bound
With many a song of joy;
Green waved the laurel in each plume,
The badge of victory.

V.
And old and young, and sire and son,
To meet them crowd the way,
With shouts, and mirth, and melody,
The debt of love to pay.

VI.
Full many a maid her true-love met,
And sobb'd in his embrace,
And flutt'ring joy in tears and smiles
Array'd full many a face.

VII.
Nor joy nor smile for Helen sad
She sought the host in vain;
For none could tell her William's fate,
In faithless, or if slain.

VIII.
The martial band is past and gone;
She rends her raven hair,
And in distraction's bitter mood
She weeps with wild despair.

IX.
'O rise, my child,' her mother said,

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Thurso’s Landing

I
The coast-road was being straightened and repaired again,
A group of men labored at the steep curve
Where it falls from the north to Mill Creek. They scattered and hid
Behind cut banks, except one blond young man
Who stooped over the rock and strolled away smiling
As if he shared a secret joke with the dynamite;
It waited until he had passed back of a boulder,
Then split its rock cage; a yellowish torrent
Of fragments rose up the air and the echoes bumped
From mountain to mountain. The men returned slowly
And took up their dropped tools, while a banner of dust
Waved over the gorge on the northwest wind, very high
Above the heads of the forest.
Some distance west of the road,
On the promontory above the triangle
Of glittering ocean that fills the gorge-mouth,
A woman and a lame man from the farm below
Had been watching, and turned to go down the hill. The young
woman looked back,
Widening her violet eyes under the shade of her hand. 'I think
they'll blast again in a minute.'
And the man: 'I wish they'd let the poor old road be. I don't
like improvements.' 'Why not?' 'They bring in the world;
We're well without it.' His lameness gave him some look of age
but he was young too; tall and thin-faced,
With a high wavering nose. 'Isn't he amusing,' she said, 'that
boy Rick Armstrong, the dynamite man,
How slowly he walks away after he lights the fuse. He loves to
show off. Reave likes him, too,'
She added; and they clambered down the path in the rock-face,
little dark specks
Between the great headland rock and the bright blue sea.

II
The road-workers had made their camp
North of this headland, where the sea-cliff was broken down and
sloped to a cove. The violet-eyed woman's husband,
Reave Thurso, rode down the slope to the camp in the gorgeous
autumn sundown, his hired man Johnny Luna
Riding behind him. The road-men had just quit work and four
or five were bathing in the purple surf-edge,
The others talked by the tents; blue smoke fragrant with food
and oak-wood drifted from the cabin stove-pipe
And slowly went fainting up the vast hill.
Thurso drew rein by
a group of men at a tent door
And frowned at them without speaking, square-shouldered and
heavy-jawed, too heavy with strength for so young a man,
He chose one of the men with his eyes. 'You're Danny Woodruff,

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Pearl

Pearl of delight that a prince doth please
To grace in gold enclosed so clear,
I vow that from over orient seas
Never proved I any in price her peer.
So round, so radiant ranged by these,
So fine, so smooth did her sides appear
That ever in judging gems that please
Her only alone I deemed as dear.
Alas! I lost her in garden near:
Through grass to the ground from me it shot;
I pine now oppressed by love-wound drear
For that pearl, mine own, without a spot.

2
Since in that spot it sped from me,
I have looked and longed for that precious thing
That me once was wont from woe to free,
To uplift my lot and healing bring,
But my heart doth hurt now cruelly,
My breast with burning torment sting.
Yet in secret hour came soft to me
The sweetest song I e'er heard sing;
Yea, many a thought in mind did spring
To think that her radiance in clay should rot.
O mould! Thou marrest a lovely thing,
My pearl, mine own, without a spot.

3
In that spot must needs be spices spread
Where away such wealth to waste hath run;
Blossoms pale and blue and red
There shimmer shining in the sun;
No flower nor fruit their hue may shed
Where it down into darkling earth was done,
For all grass must grow from grains that are dead,
No wheat would else to barn be won.
From good all good is ever begun,
And fail so fair a seed could not,
So that sprang and sprouted spices none
From that precious pearl without a spot.

4
That spot whereof I speak I found
When I entered in that garden green,
As August's season high came round
When corn is cut with sickles keen.
There, where that pearl rolled down, a mound
With herbs was shadowed fair and sheen,
With gillyflower, ginger, and gromwell crowned,
And peonies powdered all between.

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Blighted Trees

Like flowers in the spring, youth proves
that winter’s ended, and its bloom
can’t sense the distant horses’ hooves
that come to trample its perfume.

Like blighted trees, we’re doomed to die,
first at the top, although our roots
help us, when falling from the sky,
to greet the gloom without our boots.

Sexless, we lose all respect
from those we love, though we still cast
a shadow which they can’t dissect
till our life, like a day, has passed.

James Wood reviews “Exit Ghost” by Philip Roth in The New Yorker, October 15,2007:

Before his death, Jonathan Swift pointed to a blighted tree and said to a friend, “I shall be like that tree; I shall die first at the top.” Philip Roth’s dying animals, at loose in the twilit carnival of his late work, reverse Swift’s prophecy: they fear they will die from the bottom up. Their minds are ripe with sexual energy, with transgressive vitality, but their bodies are sour with decline. The aging David Kepesh, in “The Dying Animal, ” makes the mistake of growing infatuated with one of his many young conquests, and becomes the toy of her youthful sexual mastery. The elderly nameless protagonist of “Everyman, ” Roth’s previous novel, weakened by heart surgery, watches young women jogging along a New Jersey boardwalk, aware of the absurd disparity between his waxing mind and his waning body. He starts a foolishly flirtatious conversation with one of them, who then changes her route and never returns, “thereby thwarting his longing for the last great outburst of everything.”…
Suddenly, isolation in the Berkshires has given way to a “crazed hope of rejuvenation.” (The novel is set during the week of the election of 2004, and the bitter madness of those days is a kind of Forest of Arden in which Nathan’s antic moment can be played out.) Now Amy is pulled into the swirl, too, since Nathan must seek her out to hear her account of Lonoff’s “great secret.” He finds her in a grim walkup on First Avenue. Movingly, grotesquely, the dying woman who was once the object of Nathan’s desire has ceded her power to the thirty-year-old Jamie, and is now good only for the sexless respect of posterity. She will have a little place in literary history as Lonoff’s final partner, but there is no erotic gravitational pull on the seventy-one-year-old Nathan. Amy confirms Kliman’s hunch, but Nathan rejects the fact and, more important, the premise of the fact, which is that fiction can be read confessionally. If Lonoff was writing a novel about incestuous relations, Nathan argues, then that was the fiction he was making. A fiction, not a report. “Fiction for him was never representation, ” he tells Amy. “It was rumination in narrative form. He thought, I’ll make this my reality.”

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Idylls of the King: The Last Tournament (excerpt)

Dagonet, the fool, whom Gawain in his mood
Had made mock-knight of Arthur's Table Round,
At Camelot, high above the yellowing woods,
Danced like a wither'd leaf before the hall.
And toward him from the hall, with harp in hand,
And from the crown thereof a carcanet
Of ruby swaying to and fro, the prize
Of Tristram in the jousts of yesterday,
Came Tristram, saying, "Why skip ye so, Sir Fool?"

For Arthur and Sir Lancelot riding once
Far down beneath a winding wall of rock
Heard a child wail. A stump of oak half-dead.
From roots like some black coil of carven snakes,
Clutch'd at the crag, and started thro' mid air
Bearing an eagle's nest: and thro' the tree
Rush'd ever a rainy wind, and thro' the wind
Pierced ever a child's cry: and crag and tree
Scaling, Sir Lancelot from the perilous nest,
This ruby necklace thrice around her neck,
And all unscarr'd from beak or talon, brought
A maiden babe; which Arthur pitying took,
Then gave it to his Queen to rear: the Queen
But coldly acquiescing, in her white arms
Received, and after loved it tenderly,
And named it Nestling; so forgot herself
A moment, and her cares; till that young life
Being smitten in mid heaven with mortal cold
Past from her; and in time the carcanet
Vext her with plaintive memories of the child:
So she, delivering it to Arthur, said,
"Take thou the jewels of this dead innocence,
And make them, an thou wilt, a tourney-prize."

To whom the King, "Peace to thine eagle-borne
Dead nestling, and this honour after death,
Following thy will! but, O my Queen, I muse
Why ye not wear on arm, or neck, or zone
Those diamonds that I rescued from the tarn,
And Lancelot won, methought, for thee to wear."

"Would rather you had let them fall," she cried,
"Plunge and be lost--ill-fated as they were,
A bitterness to me!--ye look amazed,
Not knowing they were lost as soon as given--
Slid from my hands, when I was leaning out
Above the river--that unhappy child
Past in her barge: but rosier luck will go
With these rich jewels, seeing that they came
Not from the skeleton of a brother-slayer,

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The Last Tournament

Dagonet, the fool, whom Gawain in his mood
Had made mock-knight of Arthur's Table Round,
At Camelot, high above the yellowing woods,
Danced like a withered leaf before the hall.
And toward him from the hall, with harp in hand,
And from the crown thereof a carcanet
Of ruby swaying to and fro, the prize
Of Tristram in the jousts of yesterday,
Came Tristram, saying, `Why skip ye so, Sir Fool?'

For Arthur and Sir Lancelot riding once
Far down beneath a winding wall of rock
Heard a child wail. A stump of oak half-dead,
From roots like some black coil of carven snakes,
Clutched at the crag, and started through mid air
Bearing an eagle's nest: and through the tree
Rushed ever a rainy wind, and through the wind
Pierced ever a child's cry: and crag and tree
Scaling, Sir Lancelot from the perilous nest,
This ruby necklace thrice around her neck,
And all unscarred from beak or talon, brought
A maiden babe; which Arthur pitying took,
Then gave it to his Queen to rear: the Queen
But coldly acquiescing, in her white arms
Received, and after loved it tenderly,
And named it Nestling; so forgot herself
A moment, and her cares; till that young life
Being smitten in mid heaven with mortal cold
Past from her; and in time the carcanet
Vext her with plaintive memories of the child:
So she, delivering it to Arthur, said,
`Take thou the jewels of this dead innocence,
And make them, an thou wilt, a tourney-prize.'

To whom the King, `Peace to thine eagle-borne
Dead nestling, and this honour after death,
Following thy will! but, O my Queen, I muse
Why ye not wear on arm, or neck, or zone
Those diamonds that I rescued from the tarn,
And Lancelot won, methought, for thee to wear.'

`Would rather you had let them fall,' she cried,
`Plunge and be lost-ill-fated as they were,
A bitterness to me!-ye look amazed,
Not knowing they were lost as soon as given-
Slid from my hands, when I was leaning out
Above the river-that unhappy child
Past in her barge: but rosier luck will go
With these rich jewels, seeing that they came
Not from the skeleton of a brother-slayer,

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The Forest Boy

THE trees have now hid at the edge of the hurst
The spot where the ruins decay
Of the cottage, where Will of the Woodland was nursed,
And lived so beloved, till the moment accursed
When he went from the woodland away.
Among all the lads of the plough or the fold;
Best esteem'd by the sober and good,
Was Will of the Woodlands; and often the old
Would tell of his frolics, for active and bold
Was William the boy of the wood.
Yet gentle was he, as the breath of the May,
And when sick and declining was laid
The woodman his father, young William away
Would go to the forest to labour all day,
And perform his hard task in his stead.
And when his poor father the forester died,
And his mother was sad, and alone,
He toil'd from the dawn, and at evening he hied
In storm or in snow, or whate'er might betide,
To supply all her wants from the town.

One neighbour they had on the heath to the west,
And no other the cottage was near,
But she would send Phoebe, the child she loved best,
To stay with the widow, thus sad and distress'd,
Her hours of dejection to cheer.
As the buds of wild roses, the cheeks of the maid
Were just tinted with youth's lovely hue,
Her form, like the aspen, wild graces display'd,
And the eyes, over which her luxuriant locks stray'd,
As the skies of the summer were blue.
Still labouring to live, yet reflecting the while,
Young William consider'd his lot;
'Twas hard, yet 'twas honest; and one tender smile
From Phoebe at night overpaid ev'ry toil,
And then all his fatigues were forgot.
By the brook where it glides through the copse of Arbeal,
When to eat his cold fare he reclined,
Then soft from her home his sweet Phoebe would steal,
And bring him wood-strawberries to finish his meal,
And would sit by his side while he dined.
And though when employed in the deep forest glade,
His days have seem'd slowly to move,
Yet Phoebe going home, through the wood-walk has stray'd
To bid him good night!--and whatever she said
Was more sweet than the voice of the dove.
Fair Hope, that the lover so fondly believes,
Then repeated each soul-soothing speech,
And touch'd with illusion, that often deceives
The future with light; as the sun through the leaves

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William Street

’Tis William Street, the link street,
That seems to stand alone;
’Tis William Street, the vague street,
With terraces of stone:
That starts with clean, cool pockets,
And ancient stable ways,
And built by solid landlords
And in more solid days.
Beginning where the shadow streets
Of vacant wealth begin,
Street William runs down sadly
Across the vale of sin.
’Tis William Street, the haggard,
Where all the streets are mean
That’s trying to be honest,
That’s trying to keep clean.

’Tis William Street with method,
And nought of show or pride,
That tries to keep its business
Upon the right-hand side.
No pavement exhibition
Of carcases and slops;
But old-established principles
In old-established shops.

’Tis William Street the highway—
Whichever way it be—
To business and the theatres,
Or empty luxury.
’Tis William Street (the East-end)—
The world-wise and exempt—
That sells Potts Point its purgatives
With something of contempt.

With fronts that hint of England,
As England used to be,
Old houses once in gardens,
And signs of Italy.
With hints of the forgotten,
Strange Sydney of the past,
When bricks were burnt for all time,
And walls were built to last.

’Tis William Street that rises
From stagnant dust and heat,
(Old trees by the Museum
Hold back with hands and feet)—
And where the blind are plying
Deft fingers, supple wrists—

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