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Claire

Poetic Wanderings

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Be innocent of the knowledge, dearest chuck,
Till thou applaud the deed. Come, seeling night,
Scarf up the tender eye of pitiful day;
And with thy bloody and invisible hand
Cancel and tear to pieces that great bond
Which keeps me pale! Light thickens; and the crow
Makes wing to the rooky wood:
Good things of day begin to droop and drowse;
While night's black agents to their preys do rouse.
Thou marvell'st at my words: but hold thee still;
Things bad begun make strong themselves by ill.
 

Shakespeare, Macbeth III/ii

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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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       We were a noisy crew, the sun in heaven
Beheld not vales more beautiful than ours,
Nor saw a race in happiness and joy
More worthy of the ground where they were sown.
I would record with no reluctant voice
The woods of autumn and their hazel bowers
With milk-white clusters hung; the rod and line,
True symbol of the foolishness of hope,
Which with its strong enchantment led us on
By rocks and pools, shut out from every star
All the green summer, to forlorn cascades
Among the windings of the mountain brooks.
 
From William Wordsworth, The Prelude, Book I

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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'

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This empty street, this sky to blandness scoured,

This air, a little indistinct with autumn

Like a reflection, constitute the present -

A time traditionally soured,

A time unrecommended by event.

 

But equally they make up something else:

This is the future furthest childhood saw

Between long houses, under travelling skies,

Heard in contending bells -

An air lambent with adult enterprise,

 

And on another day will be the past,

A valley cropped by fat neglected chances

That we insensately forbore to fleece.
On this we blame our last

Threadbare perspectives, seasonal decrease.

 

Philip LARKIN, "Triple time"

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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'

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GERTRUDE

Sweets to the sweet! Farewell.
I hop'd thou shouldst have been my Hamlet's wife;
I thought thy bride-bed to have deck'd, sweet maid,
And not have strew'd thy grave.

LAERTES

O, treble woe
Fall ten times treble on that cursed head
Whose wicked deed thy most ingenious sense
Depriv'd thee of! Hold off the earth awhile,
Till I have caught her once more in mine arms.
[Leaps in the grave.]
Now pile your dust upon the quick and dead
Till of this flat a mountain you have made
T' o'ertop old Pelion or the skyish head
Of blue Olympus.

 

Shakespeare, Hamlet V/i

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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

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I had a dove and the sweet dove died ;

    And I have thought it died of grieving :

O, what could it grieve for? Its feet were tied,

    With a silken thread of my own hand's weaving ;

Sweet little red feet! why should you die -

Shy should you leave me, sweet dove ! why ?

You liv'd alone on the forest-tree,

Why, pretty thing ! could you not live with me ?

I kiss'd you oft and gave you white peas ;

Why not live sweetly, as in the green trees ?

 

John KEATS, "Song"

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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'

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Come into the garden, Maud,

  For the black bat, night, has flown,

Come into the garden, Maud,

  I am here at the gate alone;

And the woodbine spices are wafted abroad,      

  And the musk of the rose is blown.

 

For a breeze of morning moves,

  And the planet of Love is on high,

Beginning to faint in the light that she loves

  On a bed of daffodil sky,       

To faint in the light of the sun she loves,

  To faint in his light, and to die.

 

All night have the roses heard

  The flute, violin, bassoon;

All night has the casement jessamine stirr’d       

  To the dancers dancing in tune;

Till silence fell with the waking bird,

  And a hush with the setting moon.

 

[...]

 

Alfred, Lord Tennyson, "Come into the Garden Maud"

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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'

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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 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'

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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'
Edited by Heather

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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'

Edited by Heather

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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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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'

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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'

Edited by Heather

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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'

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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'

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MACBETH

I am sick at heart,
When I behold—Seyton, I say!—This push
Will cheer me ever, or disseat me now.
I have lived long enough: my way of life
Is fall'n into the sear, the yellow leaf;
And that which should accompany old age,
As honour, love, obedience, troops of friends,
I must not look to have; but, in their stead,
Curses, not loud but deep, mouth-honour, breath,
Which the poor heart would fain deny, and dare not.

 

Shakespeare, Macbeth V/iii

 

(This will be my last post on BGO. In this increasingly uncertain world, I wish you all well.)

Edited by jfp

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Very sorry to see you go, after all these years, jfp. Is it something we've done?

Please reconsider, but whatever you do, I wish you well.

megustaleer

 

 

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Dear jfp, I'm sorry to hear of your departure, you have been a stalwart member and I have always been curious about you, the mystery man in France, at least I believe that's where you are, you teach, you have a great interest in poetry also music if I'm not mistaken, you are forthright and not shy about correcting something you believe is incorrect, at least this is how I have interpreted some posts.  My apologies if any of this is incorrect.  It is an uncertain world and everything seems to change daily, it certainly has shifted mightily during my many years and it's difficult to get used to changing mores and ideas. So here I ramble on but I guess what I want to say is that I hope you change your mind but if not, best wishes for the future.

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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.

Edited by Heather

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