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Claire

Poetic Wanderings

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When I do count the clock that tells the time,
And see the brave day sunk in hideous night;
When I behold the violet past prime,
And sable curls all silver'd o'er with white:
When lofty trees I see barren of leaves
Which erst from heat did canopy the herd,
And summer's green all girded up in sheaves
Borne on the bier with white and bristly beard:
Then of thy beauty do I question make,
That thou among the wastes of time must go,
Since sweets and beauties do themselves forsake,
And die as fast as they see others grow,
And nothing 'gainst time's scythe can make defence
Save breed to brave him, when he takes thee hence.

 

Shakespeare, Sonnet XII

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I know a bank where the wild thyme blows,
Where oxlips and the nodding violet grows,
Quite over-canopied with luscious woodbine,
With sweet musk-roses and with eglantine:
There sleeps Titania sometime of the night,
Lull’d in these flowers with dances and delight;
And there the snake throws her enamell’d skin,
Weed wide enough to wrap a fairy in.

 

Shakespeare - A Midsummer Night's Dream, II/i

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[...]

                                                   And when the spring
Looks out, and all the pastures dance with lambs,
And when the flock, with warmer weather, climbs
Higher and higher, him his office leads
To watch their goings, whatsoever track
The wanderers choose. For this he quits his home
At day-spring, and no sooner doth the sun
Begin to strike him with a fire-like heat,
Than he lies down upon some shining rock,
And breakfasts with his dog. When they have stolen,
As is their wont, a pittance from strict time,
For rest not needed or exchange of love,
Then from his couch he starts; and now his feet
Crush out a livelier fragrance from the flowers
Of lowly thyme, by Nature's skill enwrought
In the wild turf: the lingering dews of morn
Smoke round him, as from hill to hill he hies,
His staff protending like a hunter's spear,
Or by its aid leaping from crag to crag,
And o'er the brawling beds of unbridged streams.

[...]

 

William Wordsworth, The Prelude (1850), Book VIII

Edited by jfp

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  Busy old fool, unruly sun,
               Why dost thou thus,
Through windows, and through curtains call on us?
Must to thy motions lovers' seasons run?
               Saucy pedantic wretch, go chide
               Late school boys and sour prentices,
         Go tell court huntsmen that the king will ride,
         Call country ants to harvest offices,
Love, all alike, no season knows nor clime,
Nor hours, days, months, which are the rags of time.
 
               Thy beams, so reverend and strong
               Why shouldst thou think?
I could eclipse and cloud them with a wink,
But that I would not lose her sight so long;
               If her eyes have not blinded thine,
               Look, and tomorrow late, tell me,
         Whether both th' Indias of spice and mine
         Be where thou leftst them, or lie here with me.
Ask for those kings whom thou saw'st yesterday,
And thou shalt hear, All here in one bed lay.

 

 She's all states, and all princes, I,
               Nothing else is.
Princes do but play us; compared to this,
All honor's mimic, all wealth alchemy.
               Thou, sun, art half as happy as we,
               In that the world's contracted thus.
         Thine age asks ease, and since thy duties be
         To warm the world, that's done in warming us.
Shine here to us, and thou art everywhere;
This bed thy center is, these walls, thy sphere.
 
John Donne - 'The Sun Rising'
 

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I.
Moonbeam, leave the shadowy vale,
To bathe this burning brow.
Moonbeam, why art thou so pale,
As thou walkest o'er the dewy dale,
Where humble wild-flowers grow?
Is it to mimic me?
But that can never be;
For thine orb is bright,
And the clouds are light,
That at intervals shadow the star-studded night.

II.
Now all is deathy still on earth;
Nature’s tired frame reposes;
And, ere the golden morning’s birth
Its radiant hues discloses,
Flies forth its balmy breath.
But mine is the midnight of Death,
And Nature's morn
To my bosom forlorn
Brings but a gloomier night, implants a deadlier thorn.

III.
Wretch! Suppress the glare of madness
Struggling in thine haggard eye,
For the keenest throb of sadness,
Pale Despair's most sickening sigh,
Is but to mimic me;
And this must ever be,
When the twilight of care,
And the night of despair,
Seem in my breast but joys to the pangs that rankle there.

 

Shelley, "To the Moonbeam"

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Not, I’ll not, carrion comfort, Despair, not feast on thee;

Not untwist—slack they may be—these last strands of man

In me ór, most weary, cry I can no more. I can;

Can something, hope, wish day come, not choose not to be.

But ah, but O thou terrible, why wouldst thou rude on me       

Thy wring-world right foot rock? lay a lionlimb against me? scan

With darksome devouring eyes my bruisèd bones? and fan,

O in turns of tempest, me heaped there; me frantic to avoid thee and flee?

 

  Why? That my chaff might fly; my grain lie, sheer and clear.

Nay in all that toil, that coil, since (seems) I kissed the rod,       

Hand rather, my heart lo! lapped strength, stole joy, would laugh, chéer.

Cheer whom though? the hero whose heaven-handling flung me, fóot tród

Me? or me that fought him? O which one? is it each one? That night, that year

Of now done darkness I wretch lay wrestling with (my God!) my God.

 

Gerard Manley Hopkins - 'Carrion Comfort'

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[...]
Into the chamber wickedly he stalks,
And gazeth on her yet unstained bed.
The curtains being close, about he walks,
Rolling his greedy eyeballs in his head:
By their high treason is his heart misled;
Which gives the watch-word to his hand full soon
To draw the cloud that hides the silver moon.
Look, as the fair and fiery-pointed sun,
Rushing from forth a cloud, bereaves our sight;
Even so, the curtain drawn, his eyes begun
To wink, being blinded with a greater light:
Whether it is that she reflects so bright,
That dazzleth them, or else some shame supposed;
But blind they are, and keep themselves enclosed.
O, had they in that darksome prison died!
Then had they seen the period of their ill;
Then Collatine again, by Lucrece' side,
In his clear bed might have reposed still:
But they must ope, this blessed league to kill;
And holy-thoughted Lucrece to their sight
Must sell her joy, her life, her world's delight.
[...]
Shakespeare, The Rape of Lucrece

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Oenone:        Fair and fair, and twice so fair, 

                      As fair as any may be; 

                      The fairest shepherd on our green, 

                       A love for any lady. 

Paris:             Fair and fair, and twice so fair,        

                       As fair as any may be; 

                       Thy love is fair for thee alone 

                       And for no other lady. 

Oenone:         My love is fair, my love is gay, 

                        As fresh as bin the flowers in May 

                        And of my love my roundelay, 

                        My merry, merry, merry roundelay, 

                        Concludes with Cupid's curse,— 

                        'They that do change old love for new 

                        Pray gods they change for worse!' 

Ambo Simul: They that do change old love for new, 

                        Pray gods they change for worse! 

 

George Peele - from 'Fair and Fair'

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The Shepherd, looking eastward, softly said,
"Bright is thy veil, O Moon, as thou art bright!"
Forthwith, that little cloud, in ether spread
And penetrated all with tender light,
She cast away, and showed her fulgent head
Uncovered; dazzling the Beholder's sight
As if to vindicate her beauty's right
Her beauty thoughtlessly disparaged.
Meanwhile that veil, removed or thrown aside,
Went floating from her, darkening as it went;
And a huge mass, to bury or to hide,
Approached this glory of the firmament;
Who meekly yields, and is obscured--content
With one calm triumph of a modest pride.

 

William Wordsworth

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Thus, thus begin the yearly rites

Are due to Pan on these bright nights;

His morn now riseth and invites

To sports, to dances, and delights:

All envious and profane, away.

This is the shepherds' holyday.

 

Strew, strew the glad and smiling ground

With every flower, yet not confound:

The primrose drop, the spring's own spouse.

Bright day's-eyes and the lips of cows;

The garden-star, the queen of May,

The rose, to crown the holyday.

 

Drop, drop, you violets; change your hues

Now red, now pale, as lovers use;

And in your death go out as well

As when you lived unto the smell:

That from your odour all may say,

This is the shepherds' holyday.

 

Ben Jonson - 'The Shepherd's Holyday'

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OTHELLO

Soft you; a word or two before you go.
I have done the state some service, and they know't.
No more of that. I pray you, in your letters,
When you shall these unlucky deeds relate,
Speak of me as I am; nothing extenuate,
Nor set down aught in malice: then must you speak
Of one that loved not wisely but too well;
Of one not easily jealous, but being wrought
Perplex'd in the extreme; of one whose hand,
Like the base Indian, threw a pearl away
Richer than all his tribe; of one whose subdued eyes,
Albeit unused to the melting mood,
Drop tears as fast as the Arabian trees
Their medicinal gum. Set you down this;
And say besides, that in Aleppo once,
Where a malignant and a turban'd Turk
Beat a Venetian and traduced the state,
I took by the throat the circumcised dog,
And smote him, thus.

 

Shakespeare, Othello V/ii

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The king doth keep his revels here tonight.
Take heed the queen come not within his sight.
For Oberon is passing fell and wrath
Because that she, as her attendant hath
A lovely boy stolen from an Indian king.
She never had so sweet a changeling.
And jealous Oberon would have the child
Knight of his train, to trace the forests wild.
But she perforce withholds the lovèd boy,
Crowns him with flowers, and makes him all her joy.
And now they never meet in grove or green,
By fountain clear or spangled starlight sheen.
But they do square, that all their elves for fear
Creep into acorn cups and hide them there.

 

Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night's Dream, II/i

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LXII

She woke at length, but not as sleepers wake,
Rather the dead, for life seemed something new,
A strange sensation which she must partake
Perforce, since whatsoever met her view
Struck not on memory, though a heavy ache
Lay at her heart, whose earliest beat still true
Brought back the sense of pain without the cause,
For, for a while, the furies made a pause.

 

LXIII
She look'd on many a face with vacant eye,
On many a token without knowing what;
She saw them watch her without asking why,
And reck'd not who around her pillow sat.
Not speechless, though she spoke not; not a sigh
Relieved her thoughts. Dull silence and quick chat
Were tried in vain by those who served; she gave
No sign, save breath, of having left the grave.

 

Lord BYRON, Don Juan, canto IV

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The wind doth blow today, my love,

And a few small drops of rain;

I never had but one true-love,

In cold grave she was lain.

 

‘I’ll do as much for my true-love

As any young man may;

I’ll sit and mourn all at her grave

For a twelvemonth and a day.’

 

The twelvemonth and a day being up,

The dead began to speak:

‘Oh who sits weeping on my grave,

And will not let me sleep?’

 

‘’Tis I, my love, sits on your grave,

And will not let you sleep;

For I crave one kiss of your clay-cold lips,

And that is all I seek.’

 

‘You crave one kiss of my clay-cold lips;

But my breath smells earthy strong;

If you have one kiss of my clay-cold lips,

Your time will not be long.

 

‘’Tis down in yonder garden green,

Love, where we used to walk,

The finest flower that ere was seen

Is withered to a stalk.

 

‘The stalk is withered dry, my love,

So will our hearts decay;

So make yourself content, my love,

Till God calls you away.’

 

Anonymous - 'The Unquiet Grave'

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That Whitsun, I was late getting away:
    Not till about
One-twenty on the sunlit Saturday
Did my three-quarters-empty train pull out,
All windows down, all cushions hot, all sense   
Of being in a hurry gone. We ran
Behind the backs of houses, crossed a street
Of blinding windscreens, smelt the fish-dock; thence   
The river’s level drifting breadth began,
Where sky and Lincolnshire and water meet.
 
All afternoon, through the tall heat that slept   
    For miles inland,
A slow and stopping curve southwards we kept.   
Wide farms went by, short-shadowed cattle, and   
Canals with floatings of industrial froth;   
A hothouse flashed uniquely: hedges dipped   
And rose: and now and then a smell of grass   
Displaced the reek of buttoned carriage-cloth   
Until the next town, new and nondescript,   
Approached with acres of dismantled cars.
 
At first, I didn’t notice what a noise
    The weddings made
Each station that we stopped at: sun destroys   
The interest of what’s happening in the shade,
And down the long cool platforms whoops and skirls   
I took for porters larking with the mails,   
And went on reading. Once we started, though,   
We passed them, grinning and pomaded, girls   
In parodies of fashion, heels and veils,   
All posed irresolutely, watching us go,
 
As if out on the end of an event
    Waving goodbye
To something that survived it. Struck, I leant   
More promptly out next time, more curiously,   
And saw it all again in different terms:   
The fathers with broad belts under their suits   
And seamy foreheads; mothers loud and fat;   
An uncle shouting smut; and then the perms,   
The nylon gloves and jewellery-substitutes,   
The lemons, mauves, and olive-ochres that
 
Marked off the girls unreally from the rest.   
    Yes, from cafés
And banquet-halls up yards, and bunting-dressed   
Coach-party annexes, the wedding-days   
Were coming to an end. All down the line
Fresh couples climbed aboard: the rest stood round;
The last confetti and advice were thrown,
And, as we moved, each face seemed to define   
Just what it saw departing: children frowned   
At something dull; fathers had never known
 
Success so huge and wholly farcical;
    The women shared
The secret like a happy funeral;
While girls, gripping their handbags tighter, stared   
At a religious wounding. Free at last,
And loaded with the sum of all they saw,
We hurried towards London, shuffling gouts of steam.   
Now fields were building-plots, and poplars cast   
Long shadows over major roads, and for
Some fifty minutes, that in time would seem
 
Just long enough to settle hats and say
    I nearly died,
A dozen marriages got under way.
They watched the landscape, sitting side by side
—An Odeon went past, a cooling tower,   
And someone running up to bowl—and none   
Thought of the others they would never meet   
Or how their lives would all contain this hour.   
I thought of London spread out in the sun,   
Its postal districts packed like squares of wheat:
 
There we were aimed. And as we raced across   
    Bright knots of rail
Past standing Pullmans, walls of blackened moss   
Came close, and it was nearly done, this frail   
Travelling coincidence; and what it held   
Stood ready to be loosed with all the power   
That being changed can give. We slowed again,
And as the tightened brakes took hold, there swelled
A sense of falling, like an arrow-shower   
Sent out of sight, somewhere becoming rain.
 
Philip LARKIN, "The Whitsun Weddings"

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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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Spot of my youth! whose hoary branches sigh,

Swept by the breeze that fans thy cloudless sky;

Where now alone I muse, who oft have trod,

With those I lov'd, thy soft and verdant sod;

With those who, scatter'd far, perchance deplore,

Like me, the happy scenes they knew before:

Oh! as I trace again thy winding hill,

Mine eyes admire, my heart adores thee still,

Thou drooping Elm! beneath whose bows I lay,

And frequent mus'd the twilight hours away;

Where, as they once were wont, my limbs recline,

But, ah! without the thoughts which then were mine:

How do thy branches, moaning to the blast,

Invite the bosom to recall the past,

And seem to whisper, as they gently swell,

"Take, while thou canst, a lingering last farewell!"

 

Lord BYRON, "Lines Written Beneath an Elm in the Churchyard of Harrow", stanza I

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Sweet, lovely Elm, who here dost grow
Companion of unsocial care,
Lo! thy dejected branches die
Amidst this torrid air —
Smit by the sun or blasting moon,
Like fainting flowers, their verdure gone.

 

Thy withering leaves, that drooping hang,
Presage thine end approaching nigh;
And lo! thy amber tears distill,
Attended with that parting sigh —
O charming tree! no more decline,
But be thy shades and love-sick whispers mine.

 

Forbear to die — this weeping eve
Shall shed her little drops on you,
Shall o'er thy sad disaster grieve,
And wash thy wounds with pearly dew,
Shall pity you, and pity me,
And heal the languor of my tree!

 

Short is thy life, if thou so soon must fade,
Like angry Jonah's gourd at Nineveh,
That, in a night, its bloomy branches spread,
And perish'd with the day. —
Come, then, revive, sweet lovely Elm, lest I,
Thro' vehemence of heat, like Jonah, wish to die.

 

The Dying Elm by Philip Freneau

 

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So, we'll go no more a roving
   So late into the night,
Though the heart be still as loving,
   And the moon be still as bright.
 
For the sword outwears its sheath,
   And the soul wears out the breast,
And the heart must pause to breathe,
   And love itself have rest.
 
Though the night was made for loving,
   And the day returns too soon,
Yet we'll go no more a roving
   By the light of the moon.
 
George Gordon, Lord Byron - 'So, We'll Go No More a Roving'

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She walks in beauty, like the night 

Of cloudless climes and starry skies; 

And all that’s best of dark and bright 

Meet in her aspect and her eyes; 

Thus mellowed to that tender light 

Which heaven to gaudy day denies. 

 

One shade the more, one ray the less, 

Had half impaired the nameless grace 

Which waves in every raven tress, 

Or softly lightens o’er her face; 

Where thoughts serenely sweet express, 

How pure, how dear their dwelling-place. 

 

And on that cheek, and o’er that brow, 

So soft, so calm, yet eloquent, 

The smiles that win, the tints that glow, 

But tell of days in goodness spent, 

A mind at peace with all below, 

A heart whose love is innocent!

 

She Walks in BeautyGeorge Gordon, Lord Byron

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In the old age black was not counted fair,
Or if it were, it bore not beauty's name;
But now is black beauty's successive heir,
And beauty slandered with a bastard shame:
For since each hand hath put on nature's power,
Fairing the foul with art's false borrowed face,
Sweet beauty hath no name, no holy bower,
But is profaned, if not lives in disgrace.
Therefore my mistress' brows are raven black,
Her eyes so suited, and they mourners seem
At such who, not born fair, no beauty lack,
Sland'ring creation with a false esteem;
      Yet so they mourn, becoming of their woe,
      That every tongue says beauty should look so.

 

Shakespeare, Sonnet 127

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My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun;

Coral is far more red than her lips’ red;

If snow be white, why then her breasts are dun;

If hairs be wires, black wires grow on her head.

I have seen roses damasked, red and white,

But no such roses see I in her cheeks;

And in some perfumes is there more delight

Than in the breath that from my mistress reeks.

I love to hear her speak, yet well I know

That music hath a far more pleasing sound;

I grant I never saw a goddess go;

My mistress when she walks treads on the ground.

   And yet, by heaven, I think my love as rare

   As any she belied with false compare.

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36 minutes ago, Heather said:

My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun;

Coral is far more red than her lips’ red;

If snow be white, why then her breasts are dun;

If hairs be wires, black wires grow on her head.

I have seen roses damasked, red and white,

But no such roses see I in her cheeks;

And in some perfumes is there more delight

Than in the breath that from my mistress reeks.

I love to hear her speak, yet well I know

That music hath a far more pleasing sound;

I grant I never saw a goddess go;

My mistress when she walks treads on the ground.

   And yet, by heaven, I think my love as rare

   As any she belied with false compare.

 

Shakespeare, Sonnet 130

Edited by lunababymoonchild

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Return we to Don Juan. He begun
       To hear new words, and to repeat them; but
     Some feelings, universal as the sun,
       Were such as could not in his breast be shut
     More than within the bosom of a nun.
       He was in love, as you would be no doubt,
     With a young benefactress; so was she,
     Just in the way we very often see.

     And every day by daybreak, rather early
       For Juan, who was somewhat fond of rest,
     She came into the cave, but it was merely
       To see her bird reposing in his nest.
     And she would softly stir his locks so curly,
       Without disturbing her yet slumbering guest,
     Breathing all gently o'er his cheek and mouth,
     As o'er a bed of roses the sweet south.

     And every morn his colour freshlier came,
       And every day help'd on his convalescence.
     'Twas well, because health in the human frame
       Is pleasant, besides being true love's essence,
     For health and idleness to passion's flame
       Are oil and gunpowder; and some good lessons
     Are also learnt from Ceres and from Bacchus,
     Without whom Venus will not long attack us.

 

Lord BYRON, Don Juan, canto II, stanzas 167 - 169

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Within a thick and spreading awthorn bush
That overhung a molehill large and round,
I heard from morn to morn a merry thrush
Sing hymns to sunrise while I drank the sound
With joy and often, an intruding guest,
I watched her secret toils from day to day
How true she warped the moss to form her nest
And modelled it within with wood and clay
And bye and bye like heath bells gilt with dew
There lay her shining eggs as bright as flowers
Ink-spotted over shells of greeny blue
And there I witnessed in the sunny hours
A brood of nature's minstrels chirp and fly
Glad as the sunshine and the laughing sky.

 

John Clare - 'The Thrushes Nest'

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