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Heather

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  1. When will you ever, Peace, wild wooddove, shy wings shut, Your round me roaming end, and under be my boughs? When, when, Peace, will you, Peace? I’ll not play hypocrite To own my heart: I yield you do come sometimes; but That piecemeal peace is poor peace. What pure peace allows Alarms of wars, the daunting wars, the death of it? O surely, reaving Peace, my Lord should leave in lieu Some good! And so he does leave Patience exquisite, That plumes to Peace thereafter. And when Peace here does house He comes with work to do, he does not come to coo, He comes to brood and sit. Gerard Manley Hopkins - 'Peace'
  2. No, no, go not to Lethe, neither twist Wolf's-bane, tight-rooted, for its poisonous wine; Nor suffer thy pale forehead to be kiss'd By nightshade, ruby grape of Proserpine; Make not your rosary of yew-berries, Nor let the beetle, nor the death-moth be Your mournful Psyche, nor the downy owl A partner in your sorrow's mysteries; For shade to shade will come too drowsily, And drown the wakeful anguish of the soul. But when the melancholy fit shall fall Sudden from heaven like a weeping cloud, That fosters the droop-headed flowers all, And hides the green hill in an April shroud; Then glut thy sorrow on a morning rose, Or on the rainbow of the salt sand-wave, Or on the wealth of globed peonies; Or if thy mistress some rich anger shows, Emprison her soft hand, and let her rave, And feed deep, deep upon her peerless eyes. She dwells with Beauty—Beauty that must die; And Joy, whose hand is ever at his lips Bidding adieu; and aching Pleasure nigh, Turning to poison while the bee-mouth sips: Ay, in the very temple of Delight Veil'd Melancholy has her sovran shrine, Though seen of none save him whose strenuous tongue Can burst Joy's grape against his palate fine; His soul shalt taste the sadness of her might, And be among her cloudy trophies hung. John Keats - 'Ode to Melancholy'
  3. How changed is here each spot man makes or fills! In the two Hinkseys nothing keeps the same; The village street its haunted mansion lacks, And from the sign is gone Sibylla's name, And from the roofs the twisted chimney-stacks— Are ye too changed, ye hills? See, 'tis no foot of unfamiliar men To-night from Oxford up your pathway strays! Here came I often, often, in old days— Thyrsis and I; we still had Thyrsis then. Runs it not here, the track by Childsworth Farm, Past the high wood, to where the elm-tree crowns The hill behind whose ridge the sunset flames? The signal-elm, that looks on Ilsley Downs, The Vale, the three lone weirs, the youthful Thames?— This winter-eve is warm, Humid the air! leafless, yet soft as spring, The tender purple spray on copse and briers! And that sweet city with her dreaming spires, She needs not June for beauty's heightening, Lovely all times she lies, lovely to-night!— Only, methinks, some loss of habit's power Befalls me wandering through this upland dim. Once pass'd I blindfold here, at any hour; Now seldom come I, since I came with him. That single elm-tree bright Against the west—I miss it! is it gone? We prized it dearly; while it stood, we said, Our friend, the Gipsy-Scholar, was not dead; While the tree lived, he in these fields lived on. Matthew Arnold - from 'Thyrsis: a Monody, to Commemorate the Author's Friend, Arthur Hugh Clough'
  4. I kept you in bed with me so many nights, certain I could hold the life into you, certain that the life in you wanted to leap out, hare-like, go bobbing off into some night-field. For want of more eyes, more arms I strapped you to me while I did the dishes, cooked, typed, your little legs frogging against the deflating dune of your first home. Nested you in a car seat while I showered, dressed, and when you breastfed for hours and hours I learned how to manoeuvre the cup and book around you. Time and friends and attitudes, too. We moved breakables a height, no glass tables. Fitted locks to the kitchen cupboards, door jammers, argued about screws and pills someone left within reach. I’ll not tell you how my breath left me, how my heart stopped at your stillness in the cot, and who I became when at last you moved. There is no telling what skins of me have dropped and shed in the fears I’ve entered. What I will say is that the day beyond these blankets, beyond our door is known to me now, fragile as moth-scurf, its long ears twitching, alert, white tail winking across the night-field. Carolyn Jess-Cooke - 'Hare'
  5. Remote and ineffectual Don That dared attack my Chesterton, With that poor weapon, half-impelled, Unlearnt, unsteady, hardly held, Unworthy for a tilt with men— Your quavering and corroded pen; Don poor at Bed and worse at Table, Don pinched, Don starved, Don miserable; Don stuttering, Don with roving eyes, Don nervous, Don of crudities; Don clerical, Don ordinary, Don self-absorbed and solitary; Don here-and-there, Don epileptic; Don puffed and empty, Don dyspeptic; Don middle-class, Don sycophantic, Don dull, Don brutish, Don pedantic; Don hypocritical, Don bad, Don furtive, Don three-quarters mad; Don (since a man must make an end), Don that shall never be my friend. * * * Don different from those regal Dons! With hearts of gold and lungs of bronze, Who shout and bang and roar and bawl The Absolute across the hall, Or sail in amply billowing gown Enormous through the Sacred Town, Bearing from College to their homes Deep cargoes of gigantic tomes; Dons admirable! Dons of Might! Uprising on my inward sight Compact of ancient tales, and port And sleep—and learning of a sort. Dons English, worthy of the land; Dons rooted; Dons that understand. Good Dons perpetual that remain A landmark, walling in the plain— The horizon of my memories— Like large and comfortable trees. * * * Don very much apart from these, Thou scapegoat Don, thou Don devoted, Don to thine own damnation quoted, Perplexed to find thy trivial name Reared in my verse to lasting shame. Don dreadful, rasping Don and wearing, Repulsive Don—Don past all bearing. Don of the cold and doubtful breath, Don despicable, Don of death; Don nasty, skimpy, silent, level; Don evil; Don that serves the devil. Don ugly—that makes fifty lines. There is a Canon which confines A Rhymed Octosyllabic Curse If written in Iambic Verse To fifty lines. I never cut; I far prefer to end it—but Believe me I shall soon return. My fires are banked, but still they burn To write some more about the Don That dared attack my Chesterton. Hilaire Belloc - 'Lines to a Don'
  6. Why should I let the toad work Squat on my life? Can't I use my wit as a pitchfork And drive the brute off? Six days of the week it soils With its sickening poison - Just for paying a few bills! That's out of proportion. Lots of folk live on their wits: Lecturers, lispers, Losels, loblolly-men, louts- They don't end as paupers; Lots of folk live up lanes With fires in a bucket, Eat windfalls and tinned sardines- They seem to like it. Their nippers have got bare feet, Their unspeakable wives Are skinny as whippets - and yet No one actually starves. Ah, were I courageous enough To shout Stuff your pension! But I know, all too well, that's the stuff That dreams are made on: For something sufficiently toad-like Squats in me, too; Its hunkers are heavy as hard luck, And cold as snow, And will never allow me to blarney My way of getting The fame and the girl and the money All at one sitting. I don't say, one bodies the other One's spiritual truth; But I do say it's hard to lose either, When you have both. Philip Larkin - 'Toads'
  7. ’Tis mute, the word they went to hear on high Dodona mountain   When winds were in the oakenshaws and all the cauldrons tolled, And mute’s the midland navel-stone beside the singing fountain,   And echoes list to silence now where gods told lies of old. I took my question to the shrine that has not ceased from speaking,   The heart within, that tells the truth and tells it twice as plain; And from the cave of oracles I hear the priestess shrieking   That she and I should surely die and never live again. Oh priestess, what you cry is clear, and sound good sense I think it;   But let the screaming echoes rest, and froth your mouth no more. ’Tis true there’s better boose than brine, but he that drowns must drink it;   And oh, my lass, the news is news that men have heard before. The king with half the East at heel is marched from lands of morning;   Their fighters drink the rivers up, their shafts benight the air. And he that stands must die for nought, and home there’s no returning.   The Spartans on the sea-wet rock sat down and combed their hair. A.E.Housman - 'The Oracles'
  8. That time of year thou mayst in me behold When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang Upon those boughs which shake against the cold, Bare ruined choirs, where late the sweet birds sang. In me thou see'st the twilight of such day As after sunset fadeth in the west; Which by and by black night doth take away, Death's second self, that seals up all in rest. In me thou see'st the glowing of such fire, That on the ashes of his youth doth lie, As the death-bed, whereon it must expire, Consumed with that which it was nourish'd by. This thou perceiv'st, which makes thy love more strong, To love that well, which thou must leave ere long. Shakespeare - 'Sonnet LXXIII'
  9. There's a whisper down the line at 11.39 When the Night Mail's ready to depart, Saying "Skimble where is Skimble has he gone to hunt the thimble? We must find him or the train can't start." All the guards and all the porters and the stationmaster's daughters They are searching high and low, Saying "Skimble where is Skimble for unless he's very nimble Then the Night Mail just can't go." At 11.42 then the signal's nearly due And the passengers are frantic to a man— Then Skimble will appear and he'll saunter to the rear: He's been busy in the luggage van! He gives one flash of his glass-green eyes And the signal goes "All Clear!" And we're off at last for the northern part Of the Northern Hemisphere! T.S. Eliot - from 'Skimbleshanks the Railway Cat'
  10. I'm so sorry you're leaving, jfp. We've been swapping poetry on this site for years now! Meg sometimes joins in, but not very often, and nobody else does. Still, I hope you have a very happy and poetry-filled life. Thaw every breast Melt every heart with woe Here's dissolution At the hand of death To dirt, to water turned The fairest Snow Lo, the king's trumpeter Has lost his breath. Supposedly the epitaph for Valentine Snow, who played the solo in 'The Trumpet Shall Sound' in Handel's Messiah: quoted from memory.
  11. 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'
  12. 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'
  13. 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'
  14. 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'
  15. 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'
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