Give me hunger, O you gods that sit and give The world its orders. Give me hunger, pain and want, Shut me out with shame and failure From your doors of gold and fame, Give me your shabbiest, weariest hunger! But leave me a little love, A voice to speak to me in the day end, A hand to touch me in the dark room Breaking the long loneliness. In the dusk of day-shapes Blurring the sunset, One little wandering, western star Thrust out from the changing shores of shadow. Let me go to the window, Watch there the day-shapes of dusk And wait and know the coming Of a little love.
Poems Discovered and Rediscovered
if I had two nickels to rub together
I would rub them together
like a kid rubs sticks together
until friction made combustion
and they burned
a hole in my pocket
into which I would put my hand
and then my arm
and eventually my whole self––
I would fold myself
into the hole in my pocket and disappear
into the pocket of myself, or at least my pants
but before I did
like some ancient star
I’d grab your hand
a party. Everybody at home getting ready. Pulling on boots, fixing their hair, planning what to say if she's there, picking a pluckier lipstick, rehearsing a joke with a stickpin in it, doing the last minute fumbling one does before leaving for the night like tying up the dog or turning on the yard light. I like to think of them driving, finding their way in the dark, taking this left, that right, while I light candles, start the music softly seething. Everything waiting. Even the wine barely breathing.
What will suffice for a true-love knot? Even the rain? But he has bought grief's lottery, bought even the rain. "our glosses / wanting in this world" "Can you remember?" Anyone! "when we thought / the poets taught" even the rain? After we died--That was it!--God left us in the dark. And as we forgot the dark, we forgot even the rain. Drought was over. Where was I? Drinks were on the house. For mixers, my love, you'd poured--what?--even the rain. Of this pear-shaped orange's perfumed twist, I will say: Extract Vermouth from the bergamot, even the rain. How did the Enemy love you--with earth? air? and fire? He held just one thing back till he got even: the rain. This is God's site for a new house of executions? You swear by the Bible, Despot, even the rain? After the bones--those flowers--this was found in the urn: The lost river, ashes from the ghat, even the rain. What was I to prophesy if not the end of the world? A salt pillar for the lonely lot, even the rain. How the air raged, desperate, streaming the earth with flames-- to help burn down my house, Fire sought even the rain. He would raze the mountains, he would level the waves, he would, to smooth his epic plot, even the rain. New York belongs at daybreak to only me, just me-- to make this claim Memory's brought even the rain. They've found the knife that killed you, but whose prints are these? No one has such small hands, Shahid, not even the rain.
somewhere i have never travelled,gladly beyond any experience,your eyes have their silence: in your most frail gesture are things which enclose me, or which i cannot touch because they are too near your slightest look easily will unclose me though i have closed myself as fingers, you open always petal by petal myself as Spring opens (touching skilfully,mysteriously)her first rose or if your wish be to close me,i and my life will shut very beautifully,suddenly, as when the heart of this flower imagines the snow carefully everywhere descending; nothing which we are to perceive in this world equals the power of your intense fragility:whose texture compels me with the colour of its countries, rendering death and forever with each breathing (i do not know what it is about you that closes and opens;only something in me understands the voice of your eyes is deeper than all roses) nobody,not even the rain,has such small hands
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|Featuring lines from|
"somewhere i have never travelled,gladly beyond"
by E. E. Cummings
Because I could not stop for Death – He kindly stopped for me – The Carriage held but just Ourselves – And Immortality. We slowly drove – He knew no haste And I had put away My labor and my leisure too, For His Civility – We passed the School, where Children strove At Recess – in the Ring – We passed the Fields of Gazing Grain – We passed the Setting Sun – Or rather – He passed us – The Dews drew quivering and chill – For only Gossamer, my Gown – My Tippet – only Tulle – We paused before a House that seemed A Swelling of the Ground – The Roof was scarcely visible – The Cornice – in the Ground – Since then – 'tis Centuries – and yet Feels shorter than the Day I first surmised the Horses' Heads Were toward Eternity –
I heard a Fly buzz – when I died – The Stillness in the Room Was like the Stillness in the Air – Between the Heaves of Storm – The Eyes around – had wrung them dry – And Breaths were gathering firm For that last Onset – when the King Be witnessed – in the Room – I willed my Keepsakes – Signed away What portions of me be Assignable – and then it was There interposed a Fly – With Blue – uncertain stumbling Buzz – Between the light – and me – And then the Windows failed – and then I could not see to see –
Hope is the thing with feathers That perches in the soul, And sings the tune without the words, And never stops at all, And sweetest in the gale is heard; And sore must be the storm That could abash the little bird That kept so many warm. I've heard it in the chillest land, And on the strangest sea; Yet, never, in extremity, It asked a crumb of me.
9 I broke your heart. Now barefoot I tread on shards. 17 Why is the word yes so brief? It should be the longest, the hardest, so that you could not decide in an instant to say it, so that upon reflection you could stop in the middle of saying it. 18 —Sing me The Song of Songs. —Don't know the words. —Then sing the notes. —Don't know the notes. —Then simply hum. —Forgot the tune. —Then press my ear to your ear and sing what you hear.
How do I love thee? Let me count the ways. I love thee to the depth and breadth and height My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight For the ends of being and ideal grace. I love thee to the level of every day's Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light. I love thee freely, as men strive for right. I love thee purely, as they turn from praise. I love thee with the passion put to use In my old griefs, and with my childhood's faith. I love thee with a love I seemed to lose With my lost saints. I love thee with the breath, Smiles, tears, of all my life; and, if God choose, I shall but love thee better after death.
Five years have past; five summers, with the length Of five long winters! and again I hear These waters, rolling from their mountain-springs With a soft inland murmur.—Once again Do I behold these steep and lofty cliffs, That on a wild secluded scene impress Thoughts of more deep seclusion; and connect The landscape with the quiet of the sky. The day is come when I again repose Here, under this dark sycamore, and view These plots of cottage-ground, these orchard-tufts, Which at this season, with their unripe fruits, Are clad in one green hue, and lose themselves 'Mid groves and copses. Once again I see These hedge-rows, hardly hedge-rows, little lines Of sportive wood run wild: these pastoral farms, Green to the very door; and wreaths of smoke Sent up, in silence, from among the trees! With some uncertain notice, as might seem Of vagrant dwellers in the houseless woods, Or of some Hermit's cave, where by his fire The Hermit sits alone. These beauteous forms, Through a long absence, have not been to me As is a landscape to a blind man's eye: But oft, in lonely rooms, and 'mid the din Of towns and cities, I have owed to them In hours of weariness, sensations sweet, Felt in the blood, and felt along the heart; And passing even into my purer mind, With tranquil restoration:—feelings too Of unremembered pleasure: such, perhaps, As have no slight or trivial influence On that best portion of a good man's life, His little, nameless, unremembered, acts Of kindness and of love. Nor less, I trust, To them I may have owed another gift, Of aspect more sublime; that blessed mood, In which the burthen of the mystery, In which the heavy and the weary weight Of all this unintelligible world, Is lightened:—that serene and blessed mood, In which the affections gently lead us on,— Until, the breath of this corporeal frame And even the motion of our human blood Almost suspended, we are laid asleep In body, and become a living soul: While with an eye made quiet by the power Of harmony, and the deep power of joy, We see into the life of things. If this Be but a vain belief, yet, oh! how oft— In darkness and amid the many shapes Of joyless daylight; when the fretful stir Unprofitable, and the fever of the world, Have hung upon the beatings of my heart— How oft, in spirit, have I turned to thee, O sylvan Wye! thou wanderer thro' the woods, How often has my spirit turned to thee! And now, with gleams of half-extinguished thought, With many recognitions dim and faint, And somewhat of a sad perplexity, The picture of the mind revives again: While here I stand, not only with the sense Of present pleasure, but with pleasing thoughts That in this moment there is life and food For future years. And so I dare to hope, Though changed, no doubt, from what I was when first I came among these hills; when like a roe I bounded o'er the mountains, by the sides Of the deep rivers, and the lonely streams, Wherever nature led: more like a man Flying from something that he dreads, than one Who sought the thing he loved. For nature then (The coarser pleasures of my boyish days, And their glad animal movements all gone by) To me was all in all.—I cannot paint What then I was. The sounding cataract Haunted me like a passion: the tall rock, The mountain, and the deep and gloomy wood, Their colours and their forms, were then to me An appetite; a feeling and a love, That had no need of a remoter charm, By thought supplied, nor any interest Unborrowed from the eye.—That time is past, And all its aching joys are now no more, And all its dizzy raptures. Not for this Faint I, nor mourn nor murmur, other gifts Have followed; for such loss, I would believe, Abundant recompence. For I have learned To look on nature, not as in the hour Of thoughtless youth; but hearing oftentimes The still, sad music of humanity, Nor harsh nor grating, though of ample power To chasten and subdue. And I have felt A presence that disturbs me with the joy Of elevated thoughts; a sense sublime Of something far more deeply interfused, Whose dwelling is the light of setting suns, And the round ocean and the living air, And the blue sky, and in the mind of man; A motion and a spirit, that impels All thinking things, all objects of all thought, And rolls through all things. Therefore am I still A lover of the meadows and the woods, And mountains; and of all that we behold From this green earth; of all the mighty world Of eye, and ear,—both what they half create, And what perceive; well pleased to recognise In nature and the language of the sense, The anchor of my purest thoughts, the nurse, The guide, the guardian of my heart, and soul Of all my moral being. Nor perchance, If I were not thus taught, should I the more Suffer my genial spirits to decay: For thou art with me here upon the banks Of this fair river; thou my dearest Friend, My dear, dear Friend; and in thy voice I catch The language of my former heart, and read My former pleasures in the shooting lights Of thy wild eyes. Oh! yet a little while May I behold in thee what I was once, My dear, dear Sister! and this prayer I make, Knowing that Nature never did betray The heart that loved her; 'tis her privilege, Through all the years of this our life, to lead From joy to joy: for she can so inform The mind that is within us, so impress With quietness and beauty, and so feed With lofty thoughts, that neither evil tongues, Rash judgments, nor the sneers of selfish men, Nor greetings where no kindness is, nor all The dreary intercourse of daily life, Shall e'er prevail against us, or disturb Our cheerful faith, that all which we behold Is full of blessings. Therefore let the moon Shine on thee in thy solitary walk; And let the misty mountain-winds be free To blow against thee: and, in after years, When these wild ecstasies shall be matured Into a sober pleasure; when thy mind Shall be a mansion for all lovely forms, Thy memory be as a dwelling-place For all sweet sounds and harmonies; oh! then, If solitude, or fear, or pain, or grief, Should be thy portion, with what healing thoughts Of tender joy wilt thou remember me, And these my exhortations! Nor, perchance— If I should be where I no more can hear Thy voice, nor catch from thy wild eyes these gleams Of past existence—wilt thou then forget That on the banks of this delightful stream We stood together; and that I, so long A worshipper of Nature, hither came Unwearied in that service: rather say With warmer love—oh! with far deeper zeal Of holier love. Nor wilt thou then forget, That after many wanderings, many years Of absence, these steep woods and lofty cliffs, And this green pastoral landscape, were to me More dear, both for themselves and for thy sake!
The world is too much with us; late and soon, Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers; Little we see in Nature that is ours; We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon! This Sea that bares her bosom to the moon; The winds that will be howling at all hours, And are up-gathered now like sleeping flowers, For this, for everything, we are out of tune; It moves us not.--Great God! I'd rather be A pagan suckled in a creed outworn; So might I, standing on this pleasant lea, Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn; Have sight of Proteus rising from the sea; Or hear old Triton blow his wreathèd horn.
See the kitten on the wall, sporting with the leaves that fall, Withered leaves—one—two—and three, from the lofty elder-tree! Through the calm and frosty air, of this morning bright and fair . . . —But the kitten, how she starts; Crouches, stretches, paws, and darts! First at one, and then its fellow, just as light and just as yellow; There are many now—now one—now they stop and there are none; What intenseness of desire, in her upward eye of fire! With a tiger-leap half way, now she meets the coming prey, Lets it go as fast, and then, has it in her power again: Now she works with three or four, like an Indian Conjuror; Quick as he in feats of art, far beyond in joy of heart.
Earth has not anything to show more fair: Dull would he be of soul who could pass by A sight so touching in its majesty: This City now doth, like a garment, wear The beauty of the morning; silent, bare, Ships, towers, domes, theatres, and temples lie Open unto the fields, and to the sky; All bright and glittering in the smokeless air. Never did sun more beautifully steep In his first splendour, valley, rock, or hill; Ne'er saw I, never felt, a calm so deep! The river glideth at his own sweet will: Dear God! the very houses seem asleep; And all that mighty heart is lying still!
My heart leaps up when I behold A rainbow in the sky: So was it when my life began; So is it now I am a man; So be it when I shall grow old, Or let me die! The Child is father of the Man; And I could wish my days to be Bound each to each by natural piety.
There was a time when meadow, grove, and stream, The earth, and every common sight To me did seem Apparelled in celestial light, The glory and the freshness of a dream. It is not now as it hath been of yore;-- Turn wheresoe'er I may, By night or day, The things which I have seen I now can see no more. The rainbow comes and goes, And lovely is the rose; The moon doth with delight Look round her when the heavens are bare; Waters on a starry night Are beautiful and fair; The sunshine is a glorious birth; But yet I know, where'er I go, That there hath past away a glory from the earth. Now, while the birds thus sing a joyous song, And while the young lambs bound As to the tabor's sound, To me alone there came a thought of grief: A timely utterance gave that thought relief, And I again am strong. The cataracts blow their trumpets from the steep,-- No more shall grief of mine the season wrong: I hear the echoes through the mountains throng. The winds come to me from the fields of sleep, And all the earth is gay; Land and sea Give themselves up to jollity, And with the heart of May Doth every beast keep holiday;-- Thou child of joy, Shout round me, let me hear thy shouts, thou happy Shepherd-boy! Ye blesséd Creatures, I have heard the call Ye to each other make; I see The heavens laugh with you in your jubilee; My heart is at your festival, My head hath its coronal, The fulness of your bliss, I feel--I feel it all. O evil day! if I were sullen While Earth herself is adorning This sweet May-morning; And the children are culling On every side In a thousand valleys far and wide Fresh flowers; while the sun shines warm, And the babe leaps up on his mother's arm:-- I hear, I hear, with joy I hear! --But there's a tree, of many, one, A single field which I have look'd upon, Both of them speak of something that is gone: The pansy at my feet Doth the same tale repeat: Whither is fled the visionary gleam? Where is it now, the glory and the dream? Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting; The Soul that rises with us, our life's Star, Hath had elsewhere its setting And cometh from afar; Not in entire forgetfulness, And not in utter nakedness, But trailing clouds of glory do we come From God, who is our home: Heaven lies about us in our infancy! Shades of the prison-house begin to close Upon the growing Boy, But he beholds the light, and whence it flows, He sees it in his joy; The Youth, who daily farther from the east Must travel, still is Nature's priest, And by the vision splendid Is on his way attended; At length the Man perceives it die away, And fade into the light of common day. Earth fills her lap with pleasures of her own; Yearnings she hath in her own natural kind, And, even with something of a mother's mind, And no unworthy aim, The homely nurse doth all she can To make her foster-child, her inmate, Man, Forget the glories he hath known, And that imperial palace whence he came. Behold the Child among his new-born blisses, A six years' darling of a pigmy size! See, where 'mid work of his own hand he lies, Fretted by sallies of his mother's kisses, With light upon him from his father's eyes! See, at his feet, some little plan or chart, Some fragment from his dream of human life, Shaped by himself with newly-learned art; A wedding or a festival, A mourning or a funeral; And this hath now his heart, And unto this he frames his song: Then will he fit his tongue To dialogues of business, love, or strife; But it will not be long Ere this be thrown aside, And with new joy and pride The little actor cons another part; Filling from time to time his 'humorous stage' With all the Persons, down to palsied Age, That life brings with her in her equipage; As if his whole vocation Were endless imitation. Thou, whose exterior semblance doth belie Thy soul's immensity; Thou best philosopher, who yet dost keep Thy heritage, thou eye among the blind, That, deaf and silent, read'st the eternal deep, Haunted for ever by the eternal Mind,-- Mighty Prophet! Seer blest! On whom those truths rest Which we are toiling all our lives to find, In darkness lost, the darkness of the grave; Thou, over whom thy Immortality Broods like the day, a master o'er a slave, A Presence which is not to be put by; To whom the grave Is but a lonely bed, without the sense of sight Of day or the warm light, A place of thoughts where we in waiting lie; Thou little child, yet glorious in the might Of heaven-born freedom on thy being's height, Why with such earnest pains dost thou provoke The years to bring the inevitable yoke, Thus blindly with thy blessedness at strife? Full soon thy soul shall have her earthly freight, And custom lie upon thee with a weight Heavy as frost, and deep almost as life! 0 joy! that in our embers Is something that doth live, That Nature yet remembers What was so fugitive! The thought of our past years in me doth breed Perpetual benediction: not indeed For that which is most worthy to be blest, Delight and liberty, the simple creed Of Childhood, whether busy or at rest, With new-fledged hope still fluttering in his breast:-- --Not for these I raise The song of thanks and praise; But for those obstinate questionings Of sense and outward things, Fallings from us, vanishings, Blank misgivings of a creature Moving about in worlds not realized, High instincts, before which our mortal nature Did tremble like a guilty thing surprised: But for those first affections, Those shadowy recollections, Which, be they what they may, Are yet the fountain-light of all our day, Are yet a master-light of all our seeing; Uphold us--cherish--and have power to make Our noisy years seem moments in the being Of the eternal Silence: truths that wake, To perish never; Which neither listlessness, nor mad endeavour, Nor man nor boy, Nor all that is at enmity with joy, Can utterly abolish or destroy! Hence, in a season of calm weather Though inland far we be, Our souls have sight of that immortal sea Which brought us hither; Can in a moment travel thither-- And see the children sport upon the shore, And hear the mighty waters rolling evermore. Then, sing, ye birds, sing, sing a joyous song! And let the young lambs bound As to the tabor's sound! We, in thought, will join your throng, Ye that pipe and ye that play, Ye that through your hearts to-day Feel the gladness of the May! What though the radiance which was once so bright Be now for ever taken from my sight, Though nothing can bring back the hour Of splendour in the grass, of glory in the flower; We will grieve not, rather find Strength in what remains behind; In the primal sympathy Which having been must ever be; In the soothing thoughts that spring Out of human suffering; In the faith that looks through death, In years that bring the philosophic mind. And 0, ye Fountains, Meadows, Hills, and Groves, Forebode not any severing of our loves! Yet in my heart of hearts I feel your might; I only have relinquish'd one delight To live beneath your more habitual sway; I love the brooks which down their channels fret Even more than when I tripp'd lightly as they; The innocent brightness of a new-born day Is lovely yet; The clouds that gather round the setting sun Do take a sober colouring from an eye That hath kept watch o'er man's mortality; Another race hath been, and other palms are won. Thanks to the human heart by which we live, Thanks to its tenderness, its joys, and fears, To me the meanest flower that blows can give Thoughts that do often lie too deep for tears.
Surprised by joy—impatient as the Wind I turned to share the transport—Oh! with whom But Thee, deep buried in the silent tomb, That spot which no vicissitude can find? Love, faithful love, recalled thee to my mind— But how could I forget thee? Through what power, Even for the least division of an hour, Have I been so beguiled as to be blind To my most grievous loss?—That thought's return Was the worst pang that sorrow ever bore, Save one, one only, when I stood forlorn, Knowing my heart's best treasure was no more; That neither present time, nor years unborn Could to my sight that heavenly face restore.
I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.
Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the Milky Way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.
The waves beside them danced, but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
A Poet could not but be gay,
In such a jocund company:
I gazed—and gazed—but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:
For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.
The sun has long been set, The stars are out by twos and threes, The little birds are piping yet Among the bushes and trees; There's a cuckoo, and one or two thrushes, And a far-off wind that rushes, And a sound of water that gushes, And the cuckoo's sovereign cry Fills all the hollow of the sky. Who would "go parading" In London, "and masquerading," On such a night of June With that beautiful soft half-moon, And all these innocent blisses? On such a night as this is!
Although she feeds me bread of bitterness, And sinks into my throat her tiger's tooth, Stealing my breath of life, I will confess I love this cultured hell that tests my youth! Her vigor flows like tides into my blood, Giving me strength erect against her hate. Her bigness sweeps my being like a flood. Yet as a rebel fronts a king in state, I stand within her walls with not a shred Of terror, malice, not a word of jeer. Darkly I gaze into the days ahead, And see her might and granite wonders there, Beneath the touch of Time's unerring hand, Like priceless treasures sinking in the sand.
The world is charged with the grandeur of God.
It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;
It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil
Crushed. Why do men then now not reck his rod?
Generations have trod, have trod, have trod;
And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil;
And wears man's smudge and shares man's smell: the soil
Is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod.
And for all this, nature is never spent;
There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;
And though the last lights off the black West went
Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs--
Because the Holy Ghost over the bent
World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.
The art of losing isn't hard to master; so many things seem filled with the intent to be lost that their loss is no disaster. Lose something every day. Accept the fluster of lost door keys, the hour badly spent. The art of losing isn't hard to master. Then practice losing farther, losing faster: places, and names, and where it was you meant to travel. None of these will bring disaster. I lost my mother's watch. And look! my last, or next-to-last, of three loved houses went. The art of losing isn't hard to master. I lost two cities, lovely ones. And, vaster, some realms I owned, two rivers, a continent. I miss them, but it wasn't a disaster. —Even losing you (the joking voice, a gesture I love) I shan't have lied. It's evident the art of losing's not too hard to master though it may look like (Write it!) like disaster.
Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
There may be chaos still around the world, This little world that in my thinking lies; For mine own bosom is the paradise Where all my life’s fair visions are unfurled. Within my nature’s shell I slumber curled, Unmindful of the changing outer skies, Where now, perchance, some new-born Eros flies, Or some old Cronos from his throne is hurled. I heed them not; or if the subtle night Haunt me with deities I never saw, I soon mine eyelid’s drowsy curtain draw To hide their myriad faces from my sight. They threat in vain; the whirlwind cannot awe A happy snow-flake dancing in the flaw.
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, And sorry I could not travel both And be one traveler, long I stood And looked down one as far as I could To where it bent in the undergrowth; Then took the other, as just as fair, And having perhaps the better claim, Because it was grassy and wanted wear; Though as for that the passing there Had worn them really about the same, And both that morning equally lay In leaves no step had trodden black. Oh, I kept the first for another day! Yet knowing how way leads on to way, I doubted if I should ever come back. I shall be telling this with a sigh Somewhere ages and ages hence: Two roads diverged in a wood, and I-- I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference.
On the day the world ends
A bee circles a clover,
A fisherman mends a glimmering net.
Happy porpoises jump in the sea,
By the rainspout young sparrows are playing
And the snake is gold-skinned as it should always be.
On the day the world ends
Women walk through the fields under their umbrellas,
A drunkard grows sleepy at the edge of a lawn,
Vegetable peddlers shout in the street
And a yellow-sailed boat comes nearer the island,
The voice of a violin lasts in the air
And leads into a starry night.
And those who expected lightning and thunder
And those who expected signs and archangels' trumps
Do not believe it is happening now.
As long as the sun and the moon are above,
As long as the bumblebee visits a rose,
As long as rosy infants are born
No one believes it is happening now.
Only a white-haired old man, who would be a prophet
Yet is not a prophet, for he's much too busy,
Repeats while he binds his tomatoes:
No other end of the world will there be,
No other end of the world will there be.
Softly, in the dusk, a woman is singing to me; Taking me back down the vista of years, till I see A child sitting under the piano, in the boom of the tingling strings And pressing the small, poised feet of a mother who smiles as she sings. In spite of myself, the insidious mastery of song Betrays me back, till the heart of me weeps to belong To the old Sunday evenings at home, with winter outside And hymns in the cosy parlour, the tinkling piano our guide. So now it is vain for the singer to burst into clamour With the great black piano appassionato. The glamour Of childish days is upon me, my manhood is cast Down in the flood of remembrance, I weep like a child for the past.
From “Cold Hills” I have lived so long On the cold hills alone … I loved the rock And the lean pine trees, Hated the life in the turfy meadow, Hated the heavy, sensuous bees. I have lived so long Under the high monotony of starry skies, I am so cased about With the clean wind and the cold nights, People will not let me in To their warm gardens Full of bees.
Somewhere between here and Belen,
the Rio Grande will narrow to a muddy bead,
no more than three feet across from shore to shore.
My friend, Nick Markulis, claims
he loves the river's color there, and will bathe
his toes in the water, and will go on and on
about a dry river in Athens that measures its life
in olive groves.
Stratis Thalassinos told me about these peculiar
waters that disappear and turn up again,
and, of course, you know of Arethusa's
fountain in Syracuse.
I do not accuse Markopoulos (do I have
the name right? — Markopoulos, Markulis,
fugitive names, fugitive lives docking in Halifax)
of being too conversant with asphodel meadows,
but one cannot remain composed
when hunters and cultic figures press their claims
upon a sainted afternoon.
Think now of the intimate authority of La Candelaria,
the Sunday morning concert,
the walk through the abandoned streets,
where all was an occasion of Bogotá,
a memory of Mazatlán, a shaping
necessity we might have met at Salamis.
Who can be sure
that this white cloth will be dissolved by death?
And when I take them out of the cherrywood box these beads are the colour of dog-violets in shadow. Then at the well of the throat where tears start they darken. Now I wear at my neck an old stress of crystal: an impression of earthly housekeeping. A mysterious brightness made underground where there is no sun only stories of a strayed child and her mother bargaining with a sullen king. Promising and arguing: what she can keep, what she can let him have. Shadows and the season violets start up in are part of the settlement. Stolen from such a place these beads cannot be anything but wise to the healing arts of compromise, of survival. And when I wear them it is almost as if my skin was taking into itself a medicine of light. Something like the old simples. Rosemary, say, or tansy. Or camomile which they kept to cool fever. Which they once used to soothe a child tossing from side to side, beads of sweat catching and holding a gleam from the vigil lamp. A child crying out in her sleep Wait for me. Don’t leave me here. Who will never remember this. Who will never remember this.
How on earth did it happen, I used to wonder that a whole city—arches, pillars, colonnades, not to mention vehicles and animals—had all one fine day gone under? I mean, I said to myself, the world was small then. Surely a great city must have been missed? I miss our old city — white pepper, white pudding, you and I meeting under fanlights and low skies to go home in it. Maybe what really happened is this: the old fable-makers searched hard for a word to convey that what is gone is gone forever and never found it. And so, in the best traditions of where we come from, they gave their sorrow a name and drowned it.
The only legend I have ever loved is the story of a daughter lost in hell. And found and rescued there. Love and blackmail are the gist of it. Ceres and Persephone the names. And the best thing about the legend is I can enter it anywhere. And have. As a child in exile in a city of fogs and strange consonants, I read it first and at first I was an exiled child in the crackling dusk of the underworld, the stars blighted. Later I walked out in a summer twilight searching for my daughter at bed-time. When she came running I was ready to make any bargain to keep her. I carried her back past whitebeams and wasps and honey-scented buddleias. But I was Ceres then and I knew winter was in store for every leaf on every tree on that road. Was inescapable for each one we passed. And for me. It is winter and the stars are hidden. I climb the stairs and stand where I can see my child asleep beside her teen magazines, her can of Coke, her plate of uncut fruit. The pomegranate! How did I forget it? She could have come home and been safe and ended the story and all our heart-broken searching but she reached out a hand and plucked a pomegranate. She put out her hand and pulled down the French sound for apple and the noise of stone and the proof that even in the place of death, at the heart of legend, in the midst of rocks full of unshed tears ready to be diamonds by the time the story was told, a child can be hungry. I could warn her. There is still a chance. The rain is cold. The road is flint-coloured. The suburb has cars and cable television. The veiled stars are above ground. It is another world. But what else can a mother give her daughter but such beautiful rifts in time? If I defer the grief I will diminish the gift. The legend will be hers as well as mine. She will enter it. As I have. She will wake up. She will hold the papery flushed skin in her hand. And to her lips. I will say nothing.
Evening and the flat land, Rich and sombre and always silent; The miles of fresh-plowed soil, Heavy and black, full of strength and harshness; The growing wheat, the growing weeds, The toiling horses, the tired men; The long empty roads, Sullen fires of sunset, fading, The eternal, unresponsive sky. Against all this, Youth, Flaming like the wild roses, Singing like the larks over the plowed fields, Flashing like a star out of the twilight; Youth with its insupportable sweetness, Its fierce necessity, Its sharp desire, Singing and singing, Out of the lips of silence, Out of the earthy dusk.
It's all I have to bring today—
This, and my heart beside—
This, and my heart, and all the fields—
And all the meadows wide—
Be sure you count—should I forget
Some one the sum could tell—
This, and my heart, and all the Bees
Which in the Clover dwell.
You are as gold as the half-ripe grain that merges to gold again, as white as the white rain that beats through the half-opened flowers of the great flower tufts thick on the black limbs of an Illyrian apple bough. Can honey distill such fragrance As your bright hairó For your face is as fair as rain, yet as rain that lies clear on white honey-comb, lends radiance to the white wax, so your hair on your brow casts light for a shadow.
Stars wheel in purple, yours is not so rare as Hesperus, nor yet so great a star as bright Aldeboran or Sirius, nor yet the stained and brilliant one of War; stars turn in purple, glorious to the sight; yours is not gracious as the Pleiads are nor as Orion's sapphires, luminous; yet disenchanted, cold, imperious face, when all the others blighted, reel and fall, your star, steel-set, keeps lone and frigid tryst to freighted ships, baffled in wind and blast.