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Poetic Wanderings

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With that, I saw two swans of goodly hue
Come softly swimming down along the Lee;
Two fairer birds I yet did never see.
The snow which doth the top of Pindus strew,
Did never whiter shew,
Nor Jove himself, when he a swan would be
For love of Leda, whiter did appear:
Yet Leda was they say as white as he,
Yet not so white as these, nor nothing near.
So purely white they were,
That even the gentle stream, the which them bare,
Seemed foul to them, and bade his billows spare
To wet their silken feathers, lest they might
Soil their fair plumes with water not so fair,
And mar their beauties bright,
That shone as heaven's light,
Against their bridal day, which was not long:
      Sweet Thames, run softly, till I end my song.
Edmund Spenser - from 'Prothalamion'

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OH, where are you going to, all you Big Steamers, 
With England's own coal, up and down the salt seas? "
"We are going to fetch you your bread and your butter,
Your beef, pork, and mutton, eggs, apples, and cheese."


"And where will you fetch it from, all you Big Steamers,
And where shall I write you when you are away? "
"We fetch it from Melbourne, Quebec, and Vancouver.
Address us at Hobart, Hong Kong, and Bombay."


"But if anything happened to all you Big Steamers, 
And suppose you were wrecked up and down the salt sea?"
"Why, you'd have no coffee or bacon for breakfast,
And you'd have no muffins or toast for your tea."


"Then I'll pray for fine weather for all you Big Steamers 
For little blue billows and breezes so soft." 
"Oh, billows and breezes don't bother Big Steamers: 
We're iron below and steel-rigging aloft." 


"Then I'll build a new lighthouse for all you Big Steamers,
With plenty wise pilots to pilot you through."
"Oh, the Channel's as bright as a ball-room already,
And pilots are thicker than pilchards at Looe." 


"Then what can I do for you, all you Big Steamers,
Oh, what can I do for your comfort and good?"
"Send out your big warships to watch your big waters,
That no one may stop us from bringing you food."


For the bread that you eat and the biscuits you nibble,
The sweets that you suck and the joints that you carve,
They are brought to you daily by All Us Big Steamers
And if any one hinders our coming you'll starve!"


Big Steamers by Rudyard Kipling


This poem has often been associated with WWI, indeed my "Wordsworth Poetry Library" edition of the Works of RK has the dates 1914-18 below the poem's title, although Big Steamers was written 3 years earlier.



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If by your art, my dearest father, you have
Put the wild waters in this roar, allay them.
The sky, it seems, would pour down stinking pitch,
But that the sea, mounting to the welkin's cheek,
Dashes the fire out. O, I have suffered
With those that I saw suffer: a brave vessel,
Who had, no doubt, some noble creature in her,
Dash'd all to pieces. O, the cry did knock
Against my very heart. Poor souls, they perish'd.
Had I been any god of power, I would
Have sunk the sea within the earth or ere
It should the good ship so have swallow'd and
The fraughting souls within her.


Shakespeare, The Tempest I/ii

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 Have you read in the Talmud of old,

In the Legends the Rabbins have told

  Of the limitless realms of the air,--

Have you read it,--the marvellous story

Of Sandalphon, the Angel of Glory,

  Sandalphon, the Angel of Prayer? 


How, erect, at the outermost gates

Of the City Celestial he waits,

  With his feet on the ladder of light,

That, crowded with angels unnumbered,

By Jacob was seen, as he slumbered

  Alone in the desert at night? 


The Angels of Wind and of Fire

Chant only one hymn, and expire

  With the song's irresistible stress;

Expire in their rapture and wonder,

As harp-strings are broken asunder

  By music they throb to express. 


But serene in the rapturous throng,

Unmoved by the rush of the song,

  With eyes unimpassioned and slow,

Among the dead angels, the deathless

Sandalphon stands listening breathless

  To sounds that ascend from below;-- 


From the spirits on earth that adore,

From the souls that entreat and implore

  In the fervor and passion of prayer;

From the hearts that are broken with losses,

And weary with dragging the crosses

  Too heavy for mortals to bear. 


And he gathers the prayers as he stands,

And they change into flowers in his hands,

  Into garlands of purple and red;

And beneath the great arch of the portal,

Through the streets of the City Immortal

  Is wafted the fragrance they shed. 


It is but a legend, I know,--

A fable, a phantom, a show,

  Of the ancient Rabbinical lore;

Yet the old mediaeval tradition,

The beautiful, strange superstition,

  But haunts me and holds me the more. 


When I look from my window at night,

And the welkin above is all white,

  All throbbing and panting with stars,

Among them majestic is standing

Sandalphon the angel, expanding

  His pinions in nebulous bars. 


And the legend, I feel, is a part

Of the hunger and thirst of the heart,

  The frenzy and fire of the brain,

That grasps at the fruitage forbidden,

The golden pomegranates of Eden,

  To quiet its fever and pain.


Sandalphon by  Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

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For the feast of TRUMPETS should be kept up, that being the most direct and acceptable of all instruments.

For the TRUMPET of God is a blessed intelligence and so are all the instruments in HEAVEN.

For GOD the father Almighty plays upon the HARP of stupendous magnitude and melody.

For innumerable Angels fly out at every touch and his tune is a work of creation.

For at that time malignity ceases and the devils themselves are at peace.

For this time is perceptible to man by a remarkable stillness and serenity of soul.


Christopher Smart - from 'Jubilate Agno'

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FATHER, Mother, and Me 
Sister and Auntie say
All the people like us are We,
And every one else is They.

And They live over the sea,
While We live over the way, 
But - would you believe it? - They look upon We 
As only a sort of They !


We eat pork and beef 
With cow-horn-handled knives.
They who gobble Their rice off a leaf, 
Are horrified out of Their lives;
And They who live up a tree,
And feast on grubs and clay,
(Isn't it scandalous?) look upon We
As a simply disgusting They!


We shoot birds with a gun.
They stick lions with spears.
Their full-dress is un-.
We dress up to Our ears.
They like Their friends for tea.
We like Our friends to stay;
And, after all that, They look upon We 
As an utterly ignorant They!


We eat kitcheny food.
We have doors that latch.
They drink milk or blood,
Under an open thatch.
We have Doctors to fee.
They have Wizards to pay. 
And (impudent heathen!) They look upon We 
As a quite impossible They! 


All good people agree, 
And all good people say,
All nice people, like Us, are We
And every one else is They:

But if you cross over the sea,
Instead of over the way,
You may end by (think of it!) looking on We
As only a sort of They !


We and They by Rudyard kipling

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Good people all, of every sort,
Give ear unto my song;
And if you find it wondrous short,
It cannot hold you long.


In Islington there was a man,
Of whom the world might say
That still a godly race he ran,
Whene'er he went to pray.


A kind and gentle heart he had,
To comfort friends and foes;
The naked every day he clad,
When he put on his clothes.


And in that town a dog was found,
As many dogs there be,
Both mongrel, puppy, whelp and hound,
And curs of low degree.


This dog and man at first were friends;
But when a pique began,
The dog, to gain some private ends,
Went mad and bit the man.


Around from all the neighbouring streets
The wondering neighbours ran,
And swore the dog had lost his wits,
To bite so good a man.


The wound it seemed both sore and sad
To every Christian eye;
And while they swore the dog was mad,
They swore the man would die.


But soon a wonder came to light,
That showed the rogues they lied:
The man recovered of the bite,
The dog it was that died.


Oliver Goldsmith - 'An Elegy on the Death of a Mad Dog'

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Ay, in the catalogue ye go for men;
As hounds and greyhounds, mongrels, spaniels, curs,
Shoughs, water-rugs and demi-wolves, are clept
All by the name of dogs: the valued file
Distinguishes the swift, the slow, the subtle,
The housekeeper, the hunter, every one
According to the gift which bounteous nature
Hath in him closed; whereby he does receive
Particular addition. from the bill
That writes them all alike: and so of men.
Now, if you have a station in the file,
Not i' the worst rank of manhood, say 't;
And I will put that business in your bosoms,
Whose execution takes your enemy off,
Grapples you to the heart and love of us,
Who wear our health but sickly in his life,
Which in his death were perfect.


Shakespeare, Macbeth III/i

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Sweet blackbird is silenced with chaffinch and thrush’

Only waistcoated robin still chirps in the bush:

Soft sun-loving swallows have mustered in force.

And winged to the spice-teeming southland their course


Plump housekeeper dormouse has tucked himself neat,
Just a brown ball in moss with a morsel to eat:
Armed hedgehog has huddled him into the hedge,
While frogs scarce miss freezing deep down in the sedge.


Soft swallows have left us alone in the lurch,

But robin sits whistling to us from his perch:

If I were red robin, I'd pipe you a tune,

Would make you despise all the beauties of June.


But, since that cannot be, let us draw round the fire,

Munch chestnuts, tell stories, and stir the blaze higher:

We'll comfort pinched robin with crumbs, little man,

Till he'll sing us the very best song that he can.


Winter by Christina Georgina Rossetti


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I went into a house, and it wasn't a house,
It has big steps and a great big hall;
But it hasn't got a garden,
A garden,
A garden,
It isn't like a house at all.

I went into a house, and it wasn't a house,
It has a big garden and great high wall;
But it hasn't got a may-tree,
A may-tree,
A may-tree,
It isn't like a house at all.

I went into a house, and it wasn't a house -
Slow white petals from the may-tree fall;
But it hasn't got a blackbird,
A blackbird,
A blackbird,
It isn't like a house at all.

I went into a house, and I thought it was a house,
I could hear from the may-tree the blackbird call...
But nobody listened to it,
Liked it,
Nobody wanted it at all.


A.A. Milne - 'The Wrong House'

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I went to the Garden of Love,
And saw what I never had seen:
A Chapel was built in the midst,
Where I used to play on the green.
And the gates of this Chapel were shut,
And Thou shalt not. writ over the door;
So I turn'd to the Garden of Love,
That so many sweet flowers bore. 
And I saw it was filled with graves,
And tomb-stones where flowers should be:
And Priests in black gowns, were walking their rounds,
And binding with briars, my joys & desires.
William Blake, "The Garden of Love"

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Love is like the wild rose-briar
Friendship like the holly-tree— 
The holly is dark when the rose-briar blooms 
But which will bloom most constantly? 
The wild rose-briar is sweet in spring, 
Its summer blossoms scent the air; 
Yet wait till winter comes again 
And who will call the wild-briar fair? 
Then scorn the silly rose-wreath now 
And deck thee with the holly’s sheen, 
That when December blights thy brow 
He still may leave thy garland green.
Love and Friendship by Emily Bronte

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They say that in the unchanging place,

Where all we loved is always dear,

We meet our morning face to face

And find at last our twentieth year...


They say (and I am glad they say)

It is so ; and it may be so:

It may be just the other way,

I cannot tell. But this I know:


From quiet homes and first beginning,

Out to the undiscovered ends,

There's nothing worth the wear of winning,

But laughter and the love of friends.


              .              .             .


But something dwindles, oh! my peers,

And something cheats the heart and passes,

And Tom that meant to shake the years

Has come to merely rattling glasses.


And He, the Father of the Flock,

Is keeping Burmesans in order,

An exile on a lonely rock

That overlooks the Chinese border.


And One (Myself I mean no less),

Ah! will Posterity believe it

Not only don't deserve success,

But hasn't managed to achieve it.


Not even this peculiar town

Has ever fixed a friendship firmer,

But - one is married, one's gone down,

And one's a Don, and one's in Burmah.


Hilaire Belloc - from 'Dedicatory Ode'

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I thought of Chatterton, the marvellous Boy, 
The sleepless Soul that perished in his pride; 
Of Him who walked in glory and in joy 
Following his plough, along the mountain-side: 
By our own spirits are we deified: 
We Poets in our youth begin in gladness; 
But thereof come in the end despondency and madness. 
Now, whether it were by peculiar grace, 
A leading from above, a something given, 
Yet it befell that, in this lonely place, 
When I with these untoward thoughts had striven, 
Beside a pool bare to the eye of heaven 
I saw a Man before me unawares: 
The oldest man he seemed that ever wore grey hairs. 
As a huge stone is sometimes seen to lie 
Couched on the bald top of an eminence; 
Wonder to all who do the same espy, 
By what means it could thither come, and whence; 
So that it seems a thing endued with sense: 
Like a sea-beast crawled forth, that on a shelf 
Of rock or sand reposeth, there to sun itself; 
Such seemed this Man, not all alive nor dead, 
Nor all asleep—in his extreme old age: 
His body was bent double, feet and head 
Coming together in life's pilgrimage; 
As if some dire constraint of pain, or rage 
Of sickness felt by him in times long past, 
A more than human weight upon his frame had cast. 
A snippet from Resolution and Independence by William Wordsworth


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Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs,
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots,
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of gas-shells dropping softly behind.
Gas! GAS! Quick, boys!—An ecstasy of fumbling
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time,
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling
And flound’ring like a man in fire or lime.—
Dim through the misty panes and thick green light,
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.
In all my dreams before my helpless sight,
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.
If in some smothering dreams, you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil’s sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,—
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori.
Wilfred OWEN, "Dulce et decorum est"

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Note to Meg: if your copied-and-pasted poem comes out oddly formatted, double spaced, centred on the page or whatever: try clicking 'Paste as plain text' at the foot of the page.
Nobody heard him, the dead man,   
But still he lay moaning:
I was much further out than you thought   
And not waving but drowning.
Poor chap, he always loved larking
And now he’s dead
It must have been too cold for him his heart gave way,   
They said.
Oh, no no no, it was too cold always   
(Still the dead one lay moaning)   
I was much too far out all my life   
And not waving but drowning.
Stevie Smith - 'Not Waving but Drowning'

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2 hours ago, Heather said:
Note to Meg:...  ...: try clicking 'Paste as plain text' at the foot of the page.





the sun did not shine.

it was too wet to play.

so we sat in the house

all that cold, cold, wet day.


I sat there with sally.

we sat there, we two.

and i said, ‘how i wish

we had something to do!’


too wet to go out

and too cold to play ball.

so we sat in the house.

we did nothing at all.


The Cat In The Hat - by  Dr Seuss

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It is too late; I cannot send them now:
This expedition was by York and Talbot
Too rashly plotted: all our general force
Might with a sally of the very town
Be buckled with: the over-daring Talbot
Hath sullied all his gloss of former honour
By this unheedful, desperate, wild adventure:
York set him on to fight and die in shame,
That, Talbot dead, great York might bear the name.


Shakespeare, Henry VI Part I - IV/iv

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On 19/06/2018 at 23:24, megustaleer said:



After you have pasted the poem, and before you click 'submit reply', it is at the bottom of the reply box.  It disappears after that.


Tell me not (Sweet) I am unkind,
         That from the nunnery
Of thy chaste breast and quiet mind
         To war and arms I fly.
True, a new mistress now I chase,
         The first foe in the field;
And with a stronger faith embrace
         A sword, a horse, a shield.
Yet this inconstancy is such
         As you too shall adore;
I could not love thee (Dear) so much,
         Lov’d I not Honour more.
Richard Lovelace - 'To Lucasta, Going to the Wars'

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The sands of Westmoreland, the Creeks and Bays
Of Cumbria's rocky limits, they can tell
How, when the Sea threw off his evening shade,
And to the Shepherd's hut beneath the crags
Did send sweet notice of the rising moon,
How I have stood, to fancies such as these,

Engrafted in the tenderness of thought,

A stranger, linking with the spectacle
No conscious memory of a kindred sight,
And bringing with me no peculiar sense
Of quietness or peace; yet I have stood,
Even while mine eye hath mov'd o'er three long leagues
Of shining water, gathering, as it seem'd
Through every hair-breadth of that field of light
New pleasure, like a bee among the flowers.


William Wordsworth, from The Prelude, Book I

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By the shore of Gitchie Gumee,
By the shining Big-Sea-Water,
At the doorway of his wigwam,
In the pleasant Summer morning,
Hiawatha stood and waited.
All the air was full of freshness,
All the earth was bright and joyous,
And before him through the sunshine,
Westward toward the neighboring forest
Passed in golden swarms the Ahmo,
Passed the bees, the honey-makers,
Burning, singing in the sunshine.
Bright above him shown the heavens,
Level spread the lake before him;
From its bosom leaped the sturgeon,
Aparkling, flashing in the sunshine;
On its margin the great forest
Stood reflected in the water,
Every tree-top had its shadow,
Motionless beneath the water.
From the brow of Hiawatha
Gone was every trace of sorrow,
As the fog from off the water,
And the mist from off the meadow.
With a smile of joy and triumph,
With a look of exultation,
As of one who in a vision
Sees what is to be, but is not,
Stood and waited Hiawatha.


From The Song f Hiawatha XXII - Hiawatha's Departure by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

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I, like most U.S. children of a certain age (not sure about my own children), learned this poem as a child and still remember the first 5 lines.    "Gitchee Gumee" is Lake Superior, one of the great lakes up on the U.S./Canadian border.  Thank you for posting this, meg.

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I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,

And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made:

Nine bean-rows will I have there, a hive for the honey-bee;

And live alone in the bee-loud glade.


And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow,

Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings;

There midnight’s all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow,

And evening full of the linnet’s wings.


I will arise and go now, for always night and day

I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;

While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements grey,

I hear it in the deep heart’s core.


W.B. Yeats - 'The Lake Isle of Innisfree'

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WE like March, his shoes are purple,

  He is new and high;

Makes he mud for dog and peddler,

  Makes he forest dry;

Knows the adder’s tongue his coming,       

  And begets her spot.

Stands the sun so close and mighty

  That our minds are hot.

News is he of all the others;

  Bold it were to die       

With the blue-birds buccaneering

  On his British sky.


Emily Dickinson

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There is sorrow enough in the natural way
From men and women to fill our day;
And when we are certain of sorrow in store,
Why do we always arrange for more?
Brothers and Sisters, I bid you beware
Of giving your heart to a dog to tear.

Buy a pup and your money will buy
Love unflinching that cannot lie--
Perfect passion and worship fed
By a kick in the ribs or a pat on the head.
Nevertheless it is hardly fair
To risk your heart for a dog to tear.

When the fourteen years which Nature permits
Are closing in asthma, or tumour, or fits,
And the vet's unspoken prescription runs
To lethal chambers or loaded guns,
Then you will find--it's your own affair--
But...you've given your heart for a dog to tear.


When the body that lived at your single will,
With its whimper of welcome, is stilled (how still!);
When the spirit that answered your every mood
Is gone--wherever it goes--for good,
You will discover how much you care,
And will give your heart for the dog to tear.

We've sorrow enough in the natural way,
When it comes to burying Christian clay.
Our loves are not given, but only lent,
At compound interest of cent per cent.
Though it is not always the case, I believe,
That the longer we've kept 'em, the more do we grieve:
For, when debts are payable, right or wrong,
A short-time loan is as bad as a long--
So why in Heaven (before we are there)
Should we give our hearts to a dog to tear?


Rudyard Kipling - 'The Power of the Dog'

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