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Poetic Wanderings

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Immortal Robert Burns of Ayr,

There's but few poets can with you compare;

Some of your poems and songs are very fine:

To “Mary in Heaven” is most sublime;

And then again in your “Cottar's Saturday Night,”

Your genius there does shine most bright,

As pure as the dewdrops of night.


Your “Tam o' Shanter' is very fine,

Both funny, racy, and divine,

From John o' Groats to Dumfries

All critics consider it to be a masterpiece,

And, also, you have said the same,

Therefore they are not to blame.


And in my own opinion both you and they are right,

For your genius there does sparkle bright,

Which I most solemnly declare

To thee, Immortal Bard of Ayr!


Your “Banks and Braes of Bonnie Doon”

Is sweet and melodious in its tune,

And the poetry is moral and sublime,

And in my opinion nothing can be more fine.


Your “Scots wha hae wi' Wallace bled”

Is most beautiful to hear sung or read;

For your genius there does shine as bright,

Like unto the stars of night....


Immortal Bard of Ayr! I must conclude my muse

To speak in praise of thee does not refuse,

For you were a mighty poet, few could with you compare,

And also an honour to Scotland, for your genius it is rare.


William McGonagal  - 'Robert Burns'

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Stars that seem so close and bright,
Watched by lovers through the night,
Swim in emptiness, men say,
Many a mile and year away.

And yonder star that burns so white,
May have died to dust and night
Ten, or maybe, fifteen year,
Before it shines upon my dear.

Oh! often among men below,
Heart cries out to heart, I know,
And one is dust a many years,
Child, before the other hears.

Heart from heart is all as far,
Fafaia, as star from star.


Fafaia by Rupert Brooke


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When you are old and grey and full of sleep,

And nodding by the fire, take down this book,

And slowly read, and dream of the soft look

Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep;


How many loved your moments of glad grace,

And loved your beauty with love false or true,

But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you,

And loved the sorrows of your changing face;


And bending down beside the glowing bars,

Murmur, a little sadly, how Love fled

And paced upon the mountains overhead

And hid his face amid a crowd of stars.



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The burning fire shakes in the night,
    On high her silver candles gleam,
With far-flung arms enflamed with light,
    The trees are lost in dream.

Come in thy beauty! 'tis my love,
    Lost in far-wandering desire,
Hath in the darkling deep above
    Set stars and kindled fire.


Walter de la Mare - 'Invocation'

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I leant upon a coppice gate
When Frost was spectre-gray,
And Winter's dregs made desolate
The weakening eye of day.
The tangled bine-stems scored the sky
Like strings of broken lyres,
And all mankind that haunted nigh
Had sought their household fires.

The land's sharp features seemed to be
The Century's corpse outleant,
His crypt the cloudy canopy,
The wind his death-lament.
The ancient pulse of germ and birth
Was shrunken hard and dry,
And every spirit upon earth
Seemed fervourless as I.

At once a voice arose among
The bleak twigs overhead
In full-hearted evensong
Of joy illimited;
An aged thrush, frail, gaunt, and small,
In blast-beruffled plume,
Had chosen thus to fling his soul
Upon the growing gloom.

So little cause for carolings
Of such ecstatic sound
Was written on terrestrial things
Afar or nigh around,
That I could think there trembled through
His happy good-night air
Some blessed Hope, whereof he knew
And I was unaware.

The Darkling Thrush, by Thomas Hardy

Is this cheating, I wonder?

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11 hours ago, megustaleer said:

Is this cheating, I wonder?

No, I think not. I think the title is part of the poem, no?



Thus do I ever make my fool my purse:
For I mine own gain'd knowledge should profane,
If I would time expend with such a snipe.
But for my sport and profit. I hate the Moor:
And it is thought abroad, that 'twixt my sheets
He has done my office: I know not if't be true;
But I, for mere suspicion in that kind,
Will do as if for surety. He holds me well;
The better shall my purpose work on him.
Cassio's a proper man: let me see now:
To get his place and to plume up my will
In double knavery—How, how? Let's see:—
After some time, to abuse Othello's ear
That he is too familiar with his wife.
He hath a person and a smooth dispose
To be suspected, framed to make women false.
The Moor is of a free and open nature,
That thinks men honest that but seem to be so,
And will as tenderly be led by the nose
As asses are.
I have't. It is engender'd. Hell and night
Must bring this monstrous birth to the world's light.


Shakespeare, Othello I/iii

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You spotted snakes with double tongue,

  Thorny hedge-hogs, be not seen;

Newts, and blind-worms, do no wrong;

  Come not near our fairy queen.


    Philomel, with melody,

    Sing in our sweet lullaby;

Lulla, lulla, lullaby; lulla, lulla, lullaby:

    Never harm,

    Nor spell, nor charm,

    Come our lovely lady nigh;

    So, good night, with lullaby.


Weaving spiders come not here;

  Hence, you long-legg’d spinners, hence!

Beetles black, approach not near;

  Worm nor snail, do no offence.


 Philomel, with melody,

    Sing in our sweet lullaby;

Lulla, lulla, lullaby; lulla, lulla, lullaby:

    Never harm,

    Nor spell, nor charm,

    Come our lovely lady nigh;

    So, good night, with lullaby.


Shakespeare - A Midsummer Night's Dream II/ii

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The morning was, a memorable pomp,
More glorious than I ever had beheld.
The sea was laughing at a distance; all
The solid montains were as bright as clouds,
Grain-tinctured, drenched in empyrean light;
And in the meadows and the lower grounds
Was all the sweetness of a common dawn—
Dews, vapours, and the melody of birds,
And labourers going forth into the fields.
Ah, need I say, dear friend, that to the brim
My heart was full? I made no vows, but vows
Were then made for me; bond unknown to me
Was given, that I should be—else sinning greatly—
A dedicated spirit. On I walked
In blessedness, which even yet remains.
William Wordsworth, The Prelude (1805 edition), Book IV

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Remember when

in the winter

we came to the island?

The sea raised

an ice-cold drink towards us.

The vines on the wall

rustled, dropping

dark leaves

at our footsteps.


You were also a small leaf

that trembled on my chest.

The wind of life put you there.

I didn't see you at first: I didn't know

that you were walking with me,

until your roots

pierced my chest,

they merged with the strands of my blood,

they spoke through my mouth,

they flourised with me.


That was your unseen presence,

an invisible leaf or branch,

and suddenly my heart was full

of fruits and sounds.

You occupied the house

that waited for you in the darkness

and then you turned on the lights.


From Epithalamium by Pablo Neruda


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April is the cruellest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.
Winter kept us warm, covering
Earth in forgetful snow, feeding
A little life with dried tubers.
Summer surprised us, coming over the Starnbergersee
With a shower of rain; we stopped in the colonnade,
And went on in sunlight, into the Hofgarten,
And drank coffee, and talked for an hour.
Bin gar keine Russin, stamm’ aus Litauen, echt deutsch.
And when we were children, staying at the arch-duke’s,
My cousin’s, he took me out on a sled,
And I was frightened. He said, Marie,
Marie, hold on tight. And down we went.
In the mountains, there you feel free.
I read, much of the night, and go south in the winter.
T.S.Eliot, The Waste Land

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From Clee to heaven the beacon burns,
      The shires have seen it plain,
From north and south the sign returns
      And beacons burn again.
Look left, look right, the hills are bright,
      The dales are light between,
Because 'tis fifty years to-night
      That God has saved the Queen.
Now, when the flame they watch not towers
      About the soil they trod,
Lads, we'll remember friends of ours
      Who shared the work with God.
To skies that knit their heartstrings right,
      To fields that bred them brave,
The saviours come not home to-night:
      Themselves they could not save.


It dawns in Asia, tombstones show
      And Shropshire names are read;
And the Nile spills his overflow
      Beside the Severn's dead.
We pledge in peace by farm and town
      The Queen they served in war,
And fire the beacons up and down
      The land they perished for.
"God save the Queen" we living sing,
      From height to height 'tis heard;
And with the rest your voices ring,
      Lads of the Fifty-third.
Oh, God will save her, fear you not:
      Be you the men you've been,
Get you the sons your fathers got,
      And God will save the Queen.
A.E. Housman - 'From Clee to heaven the beacon burns'

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We shall not spend a large expense of time
Before we reckon with your several loves,
And make us even with you. My thanes and kinsmen,
Henceforth be earls, the first that ever Scotland
In such an honour named. What's more to do,
Which would be planted newly with the time,
As calling home our exiled friends abroad
That fled the snares of watchful tyranny;
Producing forth the cruel ministers
Of this dead butcher and his fiend-like queen,
Who, as 'tis thought, by self and violent hands
Took off her life; this, and what needful else
That calls upon us, by the grace of Grace,
We will perform in measure, time and place:
So, thanks to all at once and to each one,
Whom we invite to see us crown'd at Scone.


Shakespeare, Macbeth V/viii

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Harry, our King in England, from London town is gone,

And comen to Hamull on the Hoke in the Countie of Suthampton.

For there lay the Mary of the Tower, his ship of war so strong,

And he would discover, certaynely, if his shipwrights did him wrong.


He told not none of his setting forth, nor yet where he would go,       

(But only my Lord of Arundel) and meanly did he show,

In an old jerkin and patched hose that no man might him mark.

With his frieze hood and cloak above, he looked like any clerk.


He was at Hamull on the Hoke about the hour of the tide,

And saw the Mary haled into dock, the winter to abide,       

With all her tackle and habilaments which are the King his own;

But then ran on his false shipwrights and stripped her to the bone.


They heaved the main-mast overboard, that was of a trusty tree,

And they wrote down it was spent and lost by force of weather at sea.

But they sawen it into planks and strakes as far as it might go,       

To maken beds for their own wives and little children also.


There was a knave called Slingawai, he crope beneath the deck,

Crying: “Good felawes, come and see! The ship is nigh a wreck!

For the storm that took our tall main-mast, it blew so fierce and fell,

Alack! it hath taken the kettles and pans, and this brass pott as well!”       


With that he set the pott on his head and hied him up the hatch,

While all the shipwrights ran below to find what they might snatch;

All except Bob Brygandyne and he was a yeoman good,

He caught Slingawai round the waist and threw him on to the mud.


“I have taken plank and rope and nail, without the King his leave,       

After the custom of Portesmouth, but I will not suffer a thief.

Nay, never lift up thy hand at me—there’s no clean hands in the trade.

Steal in measure,” quo’ Brygandyne. “There’s measure in all things made!”


“Gramercy, yeoman!” said our King. “Thy council liketh me.”

And he pulled a whistle out of his neck and whistled whistles three.       

Then came my Lord of Arundel pricking across the down,

And behind him the Mayor and Burgesses of merry Suthampton town.


They drew the naughty shipwrights up, with the kettles in their hands,

And bound them round the forecastle to wait the King’s commands.

But “Sith ye have made your beds,” said the King, “ye needs must lie thereon.       

For the sake of your wives and little ones—felawes, get you gone!”


When they had beaten Slingawai, out of his own lips

Our King appointed Brygandyne to be Clerk of all his ships.

“Nay, never lift up thy hands to me—there’s no clean hands in the trade.

But steal in measure,” said Harry our King. “There’s measure in all things made!”       


God speed the Mary of the Tower, the Sovereign, and Grace Dieu,

The Sweepstakes and the Mary Fortune, and the Henry of Bristol too!

All tall ships that sail on the sea, or in our harbours stand,

That they may keep measure with Harry our King and peace in Engeland!


Rudyard Kipling - from 'King Henry VII and the Shipwrights'

Edited by Heather

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For this new-married man approaching here,
Whose salt imagination yet hath wrong'd
Your well defended honour, you must pardon
For Mariana's sake: but as he adjudged your brother,—
Being criminal, in double violation
Of sacred chastity and of promise-breach
Thereon dependent, for your brother's life,—
The very mercy of the law cries out
Most audible, even from his proper tongue,
'An Angelo for Claudio, death for death!'
Haste still pays haste, and leisure answers leisure;
Like doth quit like, and measure still for measure.
Then, Angelo, thy fault's thus manifested;
Which, though thou wouldst deny, denies thee vantage.
We do condemn thee to the very block
Where Claudio stoop'd to death, and with like haste.
Away with him!


Shakespeare, Measure for Measure V/i

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Shouldn't each link word be different from the previous one?


Stars, I have seen them fall,
    But when they drop and die
No star is lost at all
    From all the star-sown sky.
The toil of all that be
    Helps not the primal fault;
It rains into the sea,
    And still the sea is salt.

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18 hours ago, Heather said:

Shouldn't each link word be different from the previous one?


Oops, yes, sorry (and I've done this before... and been upbraided for it... I'm a repeat offender...)


O, my offence is rank, it smells to heaven;
It hath the primal eldest curse upon't,
A brother's murther! Pray can I not,
Though inclination be as sharp as will.
My stronger guilt defeats my strong intent,
And, like a man to double business bound,
I stand in pause where I shall first begin,
And both neglect. What if this cursed hand
Were thicker than itself with brother's blood,
Is there not rain enough in the sweet heavens
To wash it white as snow? Whereto serves mercy
But to confront the visage of offence?
And what's in prayer but this twofold force,
To be forestalled ere we come to fall,
Or pardon'd being down? Then I'll look up;
My fault is past. But, O, what form of prayer
Can serve my turn? 'Forgive me my foul murther'?
That cannot be; since I am still possess'd
Of those effects for which I did the murther-
My crown, mine own ambition, and my queen.
May one be pardon'd and retain th' offence?


Shakespeare, Hamlet III/iii

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    Look, stranger, on this island now
    The leaping light for your delight discovers,
    Stand stable here
    And silent be,
    That through the channels of the ear
    May wander like a river
    The swaying sound of the sea.

    Here at a small field's ending pause
    Where the chalk wall falls to the foam and its tall ledges
    Oppose the pluck
    And knock of the tide,
    And the shingle scrambles after the suck-
    -ing surf,

    And a gull lodges
    A moment on its sheer side.

    Far off like floating seeds the ships
    Diverge on urgent voluntary errands,
    And this full view
    Indeed may enter
    And move in memory as now these clouds do,
    That pass the harbour mirror
    And all the summer through the water saunter.


W.H. Auden - 'On this Island'

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A pen--to register; a key-- 
That winds through secret wards 
Are well assigned to Memory 
By allegoric Bards. 

As aptly, also, might be given 
A Pencil to her hand; 
That, softening objects, sometimes even 
Outstrips the heart's demand; 

That smooths foregone distress, the lines 
Of lingering care subdues, 
Long-vanished happiness refines, 
And clothes in brighter hues; 

Yet, like a tool of Fancy, works 
Those Spectres to dilate 
That startle Conscience, as she lurks 
Within her lonely seat. 

Oh! that our lives, which flee so fast, 
In purity were such, 
That not an image of the past 
Should fear that pencil's touch! 

Retirement then might hourly look 
Upon a soothing scene, 
Age steal to his allotted nook 
Contented and serene; 

With heart as calm as lakes that sleep, 
In frosty moonlight glistening; 
Or mountain rivers, where they creep 
Along a channel smooth and deep, 
To their own far-off murmurs listening.


Memory by William Wordsworth

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Turn, turn, my wheel!  Turn round and round
Without a pause, without a sound:
  So spins the flying world away!
This clay, well mixed with marl and sand,
Follows the motion of my hand;
Far some must follow, and some command,
  Though all are made of clay!

Thus sang the Potter at his task
Beneath the blossoming hawthorn-tree,
While o'er his features, like a mask,
The quilted sunshine and leaf-shade
Moved, as the boughs above him swayed,
And clothed him, till he seemed to be
A figure woven in tapestry,
So sumptuously was he arrayed
In that magnificent attire
Of sable tissue flaked with fire.
Like a magician he appeared,
A conjurer without book or beard;
And while he plied his magic art--
For it was magical to me--
I stood in silence and apart,
And wondered more and more to see
That shapeless, lifeless mass of clay
Rise up to meet the master's hand,
And now contract and now expand,
And even his slightest touch obey;
While ever in a thoughtful mood
He sang his ditty, and at times
Whistled a tune between the rhymes,
As a melodious interlude.


From Kéramos by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

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The butterfly, the cabbage white,
(His honest idiocy of flight)
Will never now, it is too late,
Master the art of flying straight,
Yet has — who knows so well as I? —
A just sense of how not to fly:
He lurches here and here by guess
And God and hope and hopelessness.
Even the aerobatic swift
Has not his flying-crooked gift.


Robert Graves - 'Flying Crooked'

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And what's he then that says I play the villain?
When this advice is free I give and honest,
Probal to thinking and indeed the course
To win the Moor again? For 'tis most easy
The inclining Desdemona to subdue
In any honest suit: she's framed as fruitful
As the free elements. And then for her
To win the Moor—were't to renounce his baptism,
All seals and symbols of redeemed sin,
His soul is so enfetter'd to her love,
That she may make, unmake, do what she list,
Even as her appetite shall play the god
With his weak function. How am I then a villain
To counsel Cassio to this parallel course,
Directly to his good? Divinity of hell!
When devils will the blackest sins put on,
They do suggest at first with heavenly shows,
As I do now: for whiles this honest fool
Plies Desdemona to repair his fortunes
And she for him pleads strongly to the Moor,
I'll pour this pestilence into his ear,
That she repeals him for her body's lust;
And by how much she strives to do him good,
She shall undo her credit with the Moor.
So will I turn her virtue into pitch,
And out of her own goodness make the net
That shall enmesh them all.


Shakespeare, Othello II/iii

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Now's the time when children's noses

All become as red as roses

And the colour of their faces

Makes me think of orchard places

Where the juicy apples grow,

And tomatoes in a row.


And to-day the hardened sinner

Never could be late for dinner,

But will jump up to the table

Just as soon as he is able,

Ask for three times hot roast mutton--

Oh! the shocking little glutton.


Come then, find your ball and racket,

Pop into your winter jacket,

With the lovely bear-skin lining.

While the sun is brightly shining,

Let us run and play together

And just love the autumn weather.


Autumn Song by Katherine Masefield

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The nicest child I ever knew
Was Charles Augustus Fortescue.
He never lost his cap, or tore
His stockings or his pinafore:
   In eating Bread he made no Crumbs,
   He was extremely fond of sums,
To which, however, he preferred
The Parsing of a Latin Word—
He sought, when it was within his power,
For information twice an hour,
And as for finding Mutton-Fat
Unappatising, far from that!
He often, at his Father’s Board,
Would beg them, of his own accord,
To give him, if they did not mind,
The Greasiest Morsels they could find—
His Later Years did not belie
The Promise of his Infancy.
   In Public Life he always tried
   To take a judgement Broad and Wide;
In Private, none was more than he
Renowned for quiet courtesy.
He rose at once in his Career,
And long before his Fortieth Year
Had wedded Fifi, Only Child
Of Bunyan, First Lord Aberfylde.
He thus became immensely Rich,
And built the Splendid Mansion which
Is called The Cedars, Muswell Hill,
Where he resides in affluence still,
To show what everybody might
Hilaire Belloc - 'Charles Augustus Fortescue'

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She knew the Latin—that is, "the Lord's prayer,"
     And Greek—the alphabet—I'm nearly sure;
She read some French romances here and there,
     Although her mode of speaking was not pure;
For native Spanish she had no great care,
     At least her conversation was obscure;
Her thoughts were theorems, her words a problem,
As if she deem'd that mystery would ennoble 'em.


Lord Byron, Don Juan, canto I, stanza XII

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The government of integers will wait

While our researcher searches for his cat,


The stars be patient, God donates his time —

A theorem is for Christmas, but a cat


is forever. Come home, Maximus,

The magnets on the fridge are slipping down.


from Max Is Missing by Peter Porter

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