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Poetic Wanderings

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Thanks: I was planning to ask that very thing.
The world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers;—
Little we see in Nature that is ours;
We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!
This Sea that bares her bosom to the moon;
The winds that will be howling at all hours,
And are up-gathered now like sleeping flowers;
For this, for everything, we are out of tune;
It moves us not. Great God! I’d rather be
A Pagan suckled in a creed outworn;
So might I, standing on this pleasant lea,
Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn;
Have sight of Proteus rising from the sea;
Or hear old Triton blow his wreathèd horn.
William Wordsworth - 'The world is too much with us'

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       The winter comes; I walk alone,

              I want no bird to sing;

       To those who keep their hearts their own

              The winter is the spring.

       No flowers to please--no bees to hum--

              The coming spring's already come.


       I never want the Christmas rose

              To come before its time;

       The seasons, each as God bestows,

              Are simple and sublime.

       I love to see the snowstorm hing;

              'Tis but the winter garb of spring.


       I never want the grass to bloom:

              The snowstorm's best in white.

       I love to see the tempest come

              And love its piercing light.

       The dazzled eyes that love to cling

              O'er snow-white meadows sees the spring.


       I love the snow, the crumpling snow

              That hangs on everything,

       It covers everything below

              Like white dove's brooding wing,

       A landscape to the aching sight,

              A vast expanse of dazzling light.


       It is the foliage of the woods

              That winters bring--the dress,

       White Easter of the year in bud,

              That makes the winter Spring.

       The frost and snow his posies bring,

              Nature's white spurts of the spring.


The Winter's Spring, John Clare

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Loveliest of trees, the cherry now
Is hung with bloom along the bough,
And stands about the woodland ride
Wearing white for Eastertide.


Now, of my threescore years and ten,
Twenty will not come again,
And take from seventy springs a score,
It only leaves me fifty more.


And since to look at things in bloom
Fifty springs are little room,
About the woodlands I will go
To see the cherry hung with snow.


A.E. Housman - 'Loveliest of Trees'

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Ah, one of my favourites!

Always reminds me of the huge flowering cherry in the garden of our last house, it brought me such joy every April.

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Let mans Soule be a Spheare, and then, in this,
The intelligence that moves, devotion is,
And as the other Spheares, by being growne
Subject to forraigne motion, lose their owne,
And being by others hurried every day,
Scarce in a yeare their naturall forme obey:
Pleasure or businesse, so, our Soules admit
For their first mover, and are whirld by it.
Hence is’t, that I am carryed towards the West
This day, when my Soules forme bends toward the East.
There I should see a Sunne, by rising set,
And by that setting endlesse day beget;
But that Christ on this Crosse, did rise and fall,
Sinne had eternally benighted all.
Yet dare I’almost be glad, I do not see
That spectacle of too much weight for mee.
Who sees Gods face, that is selfe life, must dye;
What a death were it then to see God dye?
It made his owne Lieutenant Nature shrinke,
It made his footstoole crack, and the Sunne winke.
Could I behold those hands which span the Poles,
And tune all spheares at once peirc’d with those holes?
Could I behold that endlesse height which is
Zenith to us, and our Antipodes,
Humbled below us? or that blood which is
The seat of all our Soules, if not of his,
Made durt of dust, or that flesh which was worne
By God, for his apparell, rag’d, and torne?
If on these things I durst not looke, durst I
Upon his miserable mother cast mine eye,
Who was Gods partner here, and furnish’d thus
Halfe of that Sacrifice, which ransom’d us?
Though these things, as I ride, be from mine eye,
They’are present yet unto my memory,
For that looks towards them; and thou look’st towards mee,
O Saviour, as thou hang’st upon the tree;
I turne my backe to thee, but to receive
Corrections, till thy mercies bid thee leave.
O thinke mee worth thine anger, punish mee,
Burne off my rusts, and my deformity,
Restore thine Image, so much, by thy grace,
That thou may’st know mee, and I’ll turne my face.

Good Friday 1613. Riding Westward, John Donne

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And I couldn’t escape the waking dream
of infected fleas


in the warp and weft of soggy cloth
by the tailor’s hearth


in ye olde Eyam.
Then couldn’t un-see


the Boundary Stone,
that cock-eyed dice with its six dark holes,


thimbles brimming with vinegar wine
purging the plagued coins.


Which brought to mind the sorry story
of Emmott Syddall and Rowland Torre,


star-crossed lovers on either side
of the quarantine line


whose wordless courtship spanned the river
till she came no longer.


But slept again,
and dreamt this time


of the exiled yaksha sending word
to his lost wife on a passing cloud,


a cloud that followed an earthly map
of camel trails and cattle tracks,


streams like necklaces,
fan-tailed peacocks, painted elephants,


embroidered bedspreads
of meadows and hedges,


bamboo forests and snow-hatted peaks,
waterfalls, creeks,


the hieroglyphs of wide-winged cranes
and the glistening lotus flower after rain,


the air
hypnotically see-through, rare,


the journey a ponderous one at times, long and slow
but necessarily so.


Simon Armitage - 'Lockdown'


There is an explanation of this poem on the Guardian website. Eyam is probounced 'Eem'.

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I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

The waves beside them danced; but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
A poet could not but be gay,
In such a jocund company:
I gazed – and gazed – but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:

For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.


I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud, William Wordsworth

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The huge pale sun behind the Braid Hills rising 

glints on the city in wands of slanting light 


The threadbare half-moon hangs above Corstorphine 

where winter branches stretch and silhouette 


With sunrise in her hair the girl Queen Mary 

rode to dying Darnley out at Kirk o' Field 


On such a frosty forenoon Cockburn left the lawcourts 

experienced the New Town, memorised the Old 


Singing a cold cadence Fergusson the poet 

shivered down the Canongate with rhythm in his feet


And citizens of Edinburgh on this very morning 

set to partners, join hands and skip down the street


Anonymous - Winter sunrise in Edinburgh


Note: Cockburn is pronounced to rhyme with go-burn


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I speak of love that comes to mind:

The moon is faithful, although blind;

She moves in thought she cannot speak.

Perfect care has made her bleak.

I never dreamed the sea so deep,

The earth so dark; so long my sleep,

I have become another child.

I wake to see the world go wild.


"An Eastern Ballad" by Allen Ginsberg

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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 do 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 - 'On the seventh day God rested'

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Up from the grave He arose,
With a mighty triumph o’er His foes
He arose a Victor from the dark domain,
And He lives forever with His saints to reign.
He arose! He arose!
  Hallelujah! Christ arose!


From Low in The Grave He Lay - Robert Lowry

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Done is a battell on the dragon blak,
Our campioun Chryst confoundit hes his force,                                       champion
The yettis of hell ar brokin with a crak,                                                               gates
The signe trivmphall rasit is of the croce.                                                        raised
The diuillis trymmillis with hiddous voce,                                            devils tremble
The saulis ar borrowit and to the blis can go.                               souls are rescued
Chryst with his blud our ransonis dois indoce:                     ransoms does endorse
Surrexit dominus de sepulchro.                              The Lord has risen from the grave


From William Dunbar - 'Done is a battell on the dragon blak'


Sorry, I couldn't resist. If any of the other words aren't clear, try reading it aloud. I suggest linking to the English equivalents of the words.

Edited by Heather

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Belinda lived in a little white house,
With a little black kitten and a little gray mouse,
And a little yellow dog and a little red wagon,
And a realio, trulio, little pet dragon.


Now the name of the little black kitten was Ink,
And the little gray mouse, she called her Blink,
And the little yellow dog was sharp as Mustard,
But the dragon was a coward, and she called him Custard.


Custard the dragon had big sharp teeth,
And spikes on top of him and scales underneath,
Mouth like a fireplace, chimney for a nose,
And realio, trulio, daggers on his toes.


Belinda was as brave as a barrel full of bears,
And Ink and Blink chased lions down the stairs,
Mustard was as brave as a tiger in a rage,
But Custard cried for a nice safe cage.


Belinda tickled him, she tickled him unmerciful,
Ink, Blink and Mustard, they rudely called him Percival,
They all sat laughing in the little red wagon
At the realio, trulio, cowardly dragon.


Belinda giggled till she shook the house,
And Blink said Week! , which is giggling for a mouse,
Ink and Mustard rudely asked his age,
When Custard cried for a nice safe cage.


Suddenly, suddenly they heard a nasty sound,
And Mustard growled, and they all looked around.
Meowch! cried Ink, and Ooh! cried Belinda,
For there was a pirate, climbing in the winda.


Pistol in his left hand, pistol in his right,
And he held in his teeth a cutlass bright,
His beard was black, one leg was wood;
It was clear that the pirate meant no good.


Belinda paled, and she cried, Help! Help!
But Mustard fled with a terrified yelp,
Ink trickled down to the bottom of the household,
And little mouse Blink strategically mouseholed.


But up jumped Custard, snorting like an engine,
Clashed his tail like irons in a dungeon,
With a clatter and a clank and a jangling squirm
He went at the pirate like a robin at a worm.


The pirate gaped at Belinda's dragon,
And gulped some grog from his pocket flagon,
He fired two bullets but they didn't hit,
And Custard gobbled him, every bit.


Belinda embraced him, Mustard licked him,
No one mourned for his pirate victim
Ink and Blink in glee did gyrate
Around the dragon that ate the pyrate.


But presently up spoke little dog Mustard,
I'd been twice as brave if I hadn't been flustered.
And up spoke Ink and up spoke Blink,
We'd have been three times as brave, we think,
And Custard said, I quite agree
That everybody is braver than me.


Belinda still lives in her little white house,
With her little black kitten and her little gray mouse,
And her little yellow dog and her little red wagon,
And her realio, trulio, little pet dragon.


Belinda is as brave as a barrel full of bears,
And Ink and Blink chase lions down the stairs,
Mustard is as brave as a tiger in a rage,
But Custard keeps crying for a nice safe cage.


Edited by lunababymoonchild

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“next to of course god america i
love you land of the pilgrims’ and so forth oh
say can you see by the dawn’s early my
country ’tis of centuries come and go
and are no more what of it we should worry
in every language even deafanddumb
thy sons acclaim your glorious name by gorry
by jingo by gee by gosh by gum
why talk of beauty what could be more beaut-
iful than these heroic happy dead
who rushed like lions to the roaring slaughter
they did not stop to think they died instead
then shall the voice of liberty be mute?”

He spoke. And drank rapidly a glass of water


e.e. cummings - 'next to of course god america i'

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Who would true Valour see

Let him come hither;

One here will Constant be,

Come Wind, come Weather.

There's no Discouragement,

Shall make him once Relent,

His first avow'd Intent,

To be a Pilgrim.


Who so beset him round,

With dismal Storys,

Do but themselves Confound;

His Strength the more is.

No Lyon can him fright,

He'l with a Gyant Fight,

But he will have a right,

To be a Pilgrim.


Hobgoblin, nor foul Fiend,

Can daunt his Spirit:

He knows, he at the end,

Shall Life Inherit.

Then Fancies fly away,

He'l fear not what men say,

He'l labour Night and Day,

To be a Pilgrim.


The Pilgrim By John Bunyan

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The chestnut casts his flambeaux, and the flowers
Stream from the hawthorn on the wind away,
The doors clap to, the pane is blind with showers.
Pass me the can, lad; there's an end of May.

There's one spoilt spring to scant our mortal lot,
One season ruined of your little store.
May will be fine next year as like as not:
But ay, but then we shall be twenty-four.

We for a certainty are not the first
Have sat in taverns while the tempest hurled
Their hopeful plans to emptiness, and cursed
Whatever brute and blackguard made the world.

It is in truth iniquity on high
To cheat our sentenced souls of aught they crave,
And mar the merriment as you and I
Fare on our long fool's-errand to the grave.

Iniquity it is; but pass the can.
My lad, no pair of kings our mothers bore;
Our only portion is the estate of man:
We want the moon, but we shall get no more.

If here to-day the cloud of thunder lours
To-morrow it will hie on far behests;
The flesh will grieve on other bones than ours
Soon, and the soul will mourn in other breasts.

The troubles of our proud and angry dust
Are from eternity, and shall not fail.
Bear them we can, and if we can we must.
Shoulder the sky, my lad, and drink your ale.


A.E. Housman - 'The chestnut casts his flambeaux'

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The lightning spun your garment for the night
   Of silver filaments with fire shot thru,
   A broidery of lamps that lit for you
The steadfast splendor of enduring light.
The moon drifts dimly in the heaven’s height,
   Watching with wonder how the earth she knew
   That lay so long wrapped deep in dark and dew,
Should wear upon her breast a star so white.
The festivals of Babylon were dark
   With flaring flambeaux that the wind blew down;
The Saturnalia were a wild boy’s lark
   With rain-quenched torches dripping thru the town—
But you have found a god and filched from him
A fire that neither wind nor rain can dim.


Sara Teasdale

The Lights Of New York


Sorry that took so long!

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Great choice of link word!


Now the bright morning-star, Day’s harbinger,

Comes dancing from the East, and leads with her

The flowery 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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WHAT masque of what old wind-withered New-Year
Honours this Lady? Flora, wanton-eyed
For birth, and with all flowrets prankt and pied:
Aurora, Zephyrus, with mutual cheer
Of clasp and kiss: the Graces circling near,
'Neath bower-linked arch of white arms glorified:
And with those feathered feet which hovering glide
O'er Spring's brief bloom, Hermes the harbinger.
Birth-bare, not death-bare yet, the young stems stand
This Lady's temple-columns: o'er her head
Love wings his shaft. What mystery here is read
Of homage or of hope? But how command
Dead Springs to answer? And how question here
These mummers of that wind-withered New-Year? 

For Spring By Sandro Botticelli, by Dante Gabriel Rossetti

Edited by lunababymoonchild

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My father’s sister started when she caught
My soul agaze in my eyes. She could not say
I had no business with a sort of soul,
But plainly she objected,–and demurred,
That souls were dangerous things to carry straight
Through all the spilt saltpetre of the world.
She said sometimes, ‘Aurora, have you done
Your task this morning?–have you read that book?
And are you ready for the crochet here?’–
As if she said, ‘I know there’s something wrong,
I know I have not ground you down enough
To flatten and bake you to a wholesome crust
For household uses and proprieties,
Before the rain has got into my barn
And set the grains a-sprouting. What, you’re green
With out-door impudence? you almost grow?’
Elizabeth Barrett Browning - from 'Aurora Leigh'

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NOW spring has clad the grove in green,

  And strew’d the lea wi’ flowers;

The furrow’d, waving corn is seen

  Rejoice in fostering showers.

While ilka thing in nature join        

  Their sorrows to forego,

O why thus all alone are mine

  The weary steps o’ woe!


The trout in yonder wimpling burn

  That glides, a silver dart,        

And, safe beneath the shady thorn,

  Defies the angler’s art—

My life was ance that careless stream,

  That wanton trout was I;

But Love, wi’ unrelenting beam,        

  Has scorch’d my fountains dry.


That little floweret’s peaceful lot,

  In yonder cliff that grows,

Which, save the linnet’s flight, I wot,

  Nae ruder visit knows,        

Was mine, till Love has o’er me past,

  And blighted a’ my bloom;

And now, beneath the withering blast,

  My youth and joy consume.


The waken’d lav’rock warbling springs,        

  And climbs the early sky,

Winnowing blythe his dewy wings

  In morning’s rosy eye;

As little reck’d I sorrow’s power,

  Until the flowery snare        

O’witching Love, in luckless hour,

  Made me the thrall o’ care.


O had my fate been Greenland snows,

  Or Afric’s burning zone,

Wi’man and nature leagued my foes,        

  So Peggy ne’er I’d known!

The wretch whose doom is “Hope nae mair”

  What tongue his woes can tell;

Within whase bosom, save Despair,

  Nae kinder spirits dwell.


Now Spring has clad the grove in green, Robert Burns

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Yonder is the knowe; and whan thistles are upon it

Auld Jamie stands there wi' flooers for a bonnet.


Jamie has a cronie; Jamie has three - 

The laverock, the corbie, and the sma' hinny-bee.


The laverock trocks wi' heaven, the corbie wi' hell;

The hinny-bee flees on atween and disna fash itsel'


Jamie whistled at the plew; Jamie won his queyn;

Jamie was a strappan lad - but that was lang-syne.


William Soutar - 'Jamie'

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A corbie sits at the top o'yon tree

An' he's looking doon wi' his black, black ee,

An' he's crying oot wi' his caw caw caw,
If ye try tae sclim up,
ye're share tae fa'

Ma fether says it'll no be lang,
Afore I'm big an' souple an' strang.
An' I'll sclim up,
An' I'll nae fa'
An' we'll see if yon corbie cries caw caw caw!"


"A Corbie Sits At The Top O' Yon Tree" Anonymous (as far as I can gather)

Edited by lunababymoonchild

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Orpheus with his lute made trees
And the mountain tops that freeze, 
Bow themselves when he did sing:
To his music plants and flowers 
Ever sprung; as sun and showers 
There had made a lasting spring. 
Every thing that heard him play, 
Even the billows of the sea, 
Hung their heads, and then lay by. 
In sweet music is such art, 
Killing care and grief of heart 
Fall asleep, or hearing, die.


William Shakespeare - 'Orpheus with his lute '

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The evening is perfect, my sisters.
The loch lies silent, the air is still.
The sun’s last rays linger over the water
and there is a faint smirr, almost a smudge
of summer rain. Sisters, I smell supper,
and what is more perfect than supper?
It is emerging from the wood,
in twos and threes, a dozen in all,
making such a chatter and a clatter
as it reaches the rocky shore,
admiring the arrangements of the light.
See the innocents, my sisters,
the clumsy ones, the laughing ones,
the rolled-up sleeves and the flapping shorts,
there is even a kilt (the god of the midges,
you are good to us!). So gather your forces,
leave your tree trunks, forsake the rushes,
fly up from the sour brown mosses
to seek the flesh of face and forearm.
Think of your eggs. What does the egg need?
Blood, and blood. Blood is what the egg needs.
Our men have done their bit, they’ve gone,
it was all they were good for, poor dears. Now
it is up to us. The egg is quietly screaming
for supper, blood, supper, blood, supper!
Attack, my little Draculas, my Amazons!
Look at those flailing arms and stamping feet.
They’re running, swatting, swearing, oh they’re hopeless.
Keep at them, ladies. This is a feast,
this is a midsummer night’s dream.
Soon we shall all lie down filled and rich,
and lay, and lay, and lay, and lay, and lay.



Edwin Morgan

(from Virtual and Other Realities, Carcanet, 1997)

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