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Heather

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  1. Now the bright morning star, day's harbinger, Comes dancing from the East, and leads with her The flowry May, who from her green lap throws The yellow cowslip, and the pale primrose. Hail bounteous May that dost inspire Mirth and youth, and warm desire, Woods and groves, are of thy dressing, Hill and dale, doth boast thy blessing. Thus we salute thee with our early Song, And welcome thee, and wish thee long. John Milton - 'Song on May Morning'
  2. On the seventh day God rested in the darkness of the tomb; Having finished on the sixth day all his work of joy and doom. Now the word had fallen silent, and the water had run dry, The bread had all been scattered, and the light had left the sky. The flock had lost its shepherd, and the seed was sadly sown, The courtiers had betrayed their king, and nailed him to his throne. O Sabbath rest by Calvary, O calm of tomb below, Where the grave-clothes and the spices cradle him we did not know! Rest you well, beloved Jesus, Caesar’s Lord and Israel’s King, In the brooding of the Spirit, in the darkness of the spring. N.T. Wright - from 'Easter Oratorio'
  3. Earth, receive an honoured guest: William Yeats is laid to rest. Let the Irish vessel lie Emptied of its poetry. In the nightmare of the dark All the dogs of Europe bark, And the living nations wait, Each sequestered in its hate; Intellectual disgrace Stares from every human face, And the seas of pity lie Locked and frozen in each eye. Follow, poet, follow right To the bottom of the night, With your unconstraining voice Still persuade us to rejoice; With the farming of a verse Make a vineyard of the curse, Sing of human unsuccess In a rapture of distress; In the deserts of the heart Let the healing fountain start, In the prison of his days Teach the free man how to praise. W.H. Auden - from 'In Memory of W.B. Yeats'
  4. Part of a moon was falling down the west, Dragging the whole sky with it to the hills. Its light poured softly in her lap. She saw And spread her apron to it. She put out her hand Among the harp-like morning-glory strings, Taut with the dew from garden bed to eaves, As if she played unheard the tenderness That wrought on him beside her in the night. “Warren,” she said, “he has come home to die: You needn’t be afraid he’ll leave you this time.” “Home,” he mocked gently. “Yes, what else but home? It all depends on what you mean by home. Of course he’s nothing to us, any more Than was the hound that came a stranger to us Out of the woods, worn out upon the trail.” “Home is the place where, when you have to go there, They have to take you in.” “I should have called it Something you somehow haven’t to deserve. Robert Frost - from 'The Death of the Hired Man'
  5. Home is where one starts from. As we grow older The world becomes stranger, the pattern more complicated Of dead and living. Not the intense moment Isolated, with no before and after, But a lifetime burning in every moment And not the lifetime of one man only But of old stones that cannot be deciphered. There is a time for the evening under starlight, A time for the evening under lamplight (The evening with the photograph album). Love is most nearly itself When here and now cease to matter. Old men ought to be explorers Here or there does not matter We must be still and still moving Into another intensity For a further union, a deeper communion Through the dark cold and the empty desolation, The wave cry, the wind cry, the vast waters Of the petrel and the porpoise. In my end is my beginning. T.S. Eliot - from 'East Coker'
  6. For every tiny town or place God made the stars especially; Babies look up with owlish face And see them tangled in a tree; You saw a moon from Sussex Downs, A Sussex moon, untravelled still, I saw a moon that was the town's, The largest lamp on Campden Hill. Yea; Heaven is everywhere at home The big blue cap that always fits, And so it is (be calm; they come To goal at last, my wandering wits), So is it with the heroic thing; This shall not end for the world's end And though the sullen engines swing, Be you not much afraid, my friend. This did not end by Nelson's urn Where an immortal England sits-- Nor where your tall young men in turn Drank death like wine at Austerlitz. And when the pedants bade us mark What cold mechanic happenings Must come; our souls said in the dark, "Belike; but there are likelier things." Likelier across these flats afar These sulky levels smooth and free The drums shall crash a waltz of war And Death shall dance with Liberty; Likelier the barricades shall blare Slaughter below and smoke above, And death and hate and hell declare That men have found a thing to love. Far from your sunny uplands set I saw the dream; the streets I trod The lit straight streets shot out and met The starry streets that point to God. This legend of an epic hour A child I dreamed, and dream it still, Under the great grey water-tower That strikes the stars on Campden Hill. G.K. Chesterton - 'To Hilaire Belloc'
  7. If you are someone who has swallowed the idea that they 'should' read a book a day, and that saying this is impossible won't cut it because they should be speed reading, then this article will be helpful. I really hope most of us aren't in that position! I agree that when I skim-read I'm not taking everything in, but nonetheless I find it very helpful. This is because I belong to a book group, and a lot of the books chosen (at least half) are books I don't particularly enjoy and wouldn't read if it weren't for the group. I usually leave them until the meeting is 48 hours away, at which point urgency persuades me to skim-read the thing and get it over with. We then have an excellent discussion in which I explain exactly why I didn't like it, and those who liked it explain why they did. If by skim-reading I've missed something, they explain this to me. This makes an excellent discussion. In the few cases when we all think the book is wonderful, we often find we have very little to say.
  8. I have fallen in love with American names, The sharp names that never get fat, The snakeskin-titles of mining-claims, The plumed war-bonnet of Medicine Hat, Tucson and Deadwood and Lost Mule Flat. Seine and Piave are silver spoons, But the spoonbowl-metal is thin and worn, There are English counties like hunting-tunes Played on the keys of a postboy's horn, But I will remember where I was born. I will remember Carquinez Straits, Little French Lick and Lundy's Lane, The Yankee ships and the Yankee dates And the bullet-towns of Calamity Jane. I will remember Skunktown Plain. Rue des Martyrs and Bleeding-Heart-Yard, Senlis, Pisa, and Blindman's Oast, It is a magic ghost you guard But I am sick for a newer ghost, Harrisburg, Spartanburg, Painted Post. Henry and John were never so And Henry and John were always right? Granted, but when it was time to go And the tea and the laurels had stood all night, Did they never watch for Nantucket Light? I shall not rest quiet in Montparnasse. I shall not lie easy at Winchelsea. You may bury my body in Sussex grass, You may bury my tongue at Champmedy. I shall not be there. I shall rise and pass. Bury my heart at Wounded Knee. Stephen Vincent Benét - 'American Names'
  9. The American's a hustler, for he says so, And surely the American must know. He will prove to you with figures why it pays so Beginning with his boyhood long ago. When the slow-maturing anecdote is ripest, He'll dictate it like a Board of Trade Report, And because he has no time to call a typist, He calls her a Stenographer for short. He is never known to loiter or malinger, He rushes, for he knows he has 'a date' ; He is always on the spot and full of ginger, Which is why he is invariably late. When he guesses that it's getting even later, His vocabulary's vehement and swift, And he yells for what he calls the Elevator, A slang abbreviation for a lift. Then nothing can be nattier or nicer For those who like a light and rapid style. Than to trifle with a work of Mr Dreiser As it comes along in waggons by the mile. He has taught us what a swift selective art meant By description of his dinners and all that, And his dwelling, which he says is an Apartment, Because he cannot stop to say a flat. We may whisper of his wild precipitation, That it's speed in rather longer than a span, But there really is a definite occasion When he does not use the longest word he can. When he substitutes, I freely make admission, One shorter and much easier to spell ; If you ask him what he thinks of Prohibition, He may tell you quite succinctly it is Hell. G.K. Chesterton - 'A Ballad of Abbreviations'
  10. When once the sun sinks in the west, And dewdrops pearl the evening's breast; Almost as pale as moonbeams are, Or its companionable star, The evening primrose opes anew Its delicate blossoms to the dew; And, hermit-like, shunning the light, Wastes its fair bloom upon the night, Who, blindfold to its fond caresses, Knows not the beauty it possesses; Thus it blooms on while night is by; When day looks out with open eye, Bashed at the gaze it cannot shun, It faints and withers and is gone. John Clare - 'Evening Primrose'
  11. When we went hunting the Dragon In the days when we were young, We tossed the bright world over our shoulder As bugle and baldrick slung; Never was world so wild and fair As what went by on the wind, Never such fields of paradise As the fields we left behind: For this is the best of a rest for men That men should rise and ride Making a flying fairyland Of market and country-side, Wings on the cottage, wings on the wood, Wings upon pot and pan, For the hunting of the Dragon That is the life of a man. For men grow weary of fairyland When the Dragon is a dream, And tire of the talking bird in the tree, The singing fish in the stream; And the wandering stars grow stale, grow stale, And the wonder is stiff with scorn; For this is the honour of fairyland And the following of the horn; Beauty on beauty called us back When we could rise and ride, And a woman looked out of every window As wonderful as a bride: And the tavern-sign as a tabard blazed, And the children cheered and ran, For the love of the hate of the Dragon That is the pride of a man. The sages called him a shadow And the light went out of the sun: And the wise men told us that all was well And all was weary and one: And then, and then, in the quiet garden, With never a weed to kill, We knew that his shining tail had shone In the white road over the hill: We knew that the clouds were flakes of flame, We knew that the sunset fire Was red with the blood of the Dragon Whose death is the world’s desire. For the horn was blown in the heart of the night That men should rise and ride, Keeping the tryst of a terrible jest Never for long untried; Drinking a dreadful blood for wine, Never in cup or can, The death of a deathless Dragon, That is the life of a man. G.K. Chesterton - 'The Hunting of the Dragon'
  12. THISBE Asleep, my love? What, dead, my dove? O Pyramus, arise! Speak, speak. Quite dumb? Dead, dead? A tomb Must cover thy sweet eyes. These lily lips, This cherry nose, These yellow cowslip cheeks Are gone, are gone. Lovers, make moan. His eyes were green as leeks. O Sisters three, Come, come to me With hands as pale as milk. Lay them in gore, Since you have shore With shears his thread of silk. Tongue, not a word. Come, trusty sword. Come, blade, my breast imbrue. (stabs herself) And, farewell, friends. Thus Thisbe ends. Adieu, adieu, adieu. (dies) Shakespeare - A Midsummer Night's Dream V/i
  13. Ash on an old man's sleeve Is all the ash the burnt roses leave. Dust in the air suspended Marks the place where a story ended. Dust inbreathed was a house- The walls, the wainscot and the mouse, The death of hope and despair, This is the death of air. There are flood and drouth Over the eyes and in the mouth, Dead water and dead sand Contending for the upper hand. The parched eviscerate soil Gapes at the vanity of toil, Laughs without mirth. This is the death of earth. Water and fire succeed The town, the pasture and the weed. Water and fire deride The sacrifice that we denied. Water and fire shall rot The marred foundations we forgot, Of sanctuary and choir. This is the death of water and fire. T.S.Eliot - from 'Little Gidding'
  14. Whose woods these are I think I know. His house is in the village though; He will not see me stopping here To watch his woods fill up with snow. My little horse must think it queer To stop without a farmhouse near Between the woods and frozen lake The darkest evening of the year. He gives his harness bells a shake To ask if there is some mistake. The only other sound’s the sweep Of easy wind and downy flake. The woods are lovely, dark and deep, But I have promises to keep, And miles to go before I sleep, And miles to go before I sleep. Robert Frost - 'Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening'
  15. The yellow fog that rubs its back upon the window-panes, The yellow smoke that rubs its muzzle on the window-panes Licked its tongue into the corners of the evening, Lingered upon the pools that stand in drains, Let fall upon its back the soot that falls from chimneys, Slipped by the terrace, made a sudden leap, And seeing that it was a soft October night, Curled once about the house, and fell asleep. And indeed there will be time For the yellow smoke that slides along the street, Rubbing its back upon the window panes; There will be time, there will be time To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet; There will be time to murder and create, And time for all the works and days of hands That lift and drop a question on your plate; Time for you and time for me, And time yet for a hundred indecisions, And for a hundred visions and revisions, Before the taking of a toast and tea. In the room the women come and go Talking of Michelangelo. T.S. Eliot - from 'The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock'
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