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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.
 
  What are the roots that clutch, what branches grow
Out of this stony rubbish? Son of man,
You cannot say, or guess, for you know only
A heap of broken images, where the sun beats,
And the dead tree gives no shelter, the cricket no relief,
And the dry stone no sound of water. Only
There is shadow under this red rock,
(Come in under the shadow of this red rock),
And I will show you something different from either
Your shadow at morning striding behind you
Or your shadow at evening rising to meet you;
I will show you fear in a handful of dust.
 
T.S.Eliot, The Waste Land/1. The Burial of the Dead
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I have met them at close of day   
Coming with vivid faces
From counter or desk among grey   
Eighteenth-century houses.
I have passed with a nod of the head   
Or polite meaningless words,   
Or have lingered awhile and said   
Polite meaningless words,
And thought before I had done   
Of a mocking tale or a gibe   
To please a companion
Around the fire at the club,   
Being certain that they and I   
But lived where motley is worn:   
All changed, changed utterly:   
A terrible beauty is born.
 
That woman's days were spent   
In ignorant good-will,
Her nights in argument
Until her voice grew shrill.
What voice more sweet than hers   
When, young and beautiful,   
She rode to harriers?
This man had kept a school   
And rode our wingèd horse;   
This other his helper and friend   
Was coming into his force;
He might have won fame in the end,   
So sensitive his nature seemed,   
So daring and sweet his thought.
This other man I had dreamed
A drunken, vainglorious lout.
He had done most bitter wrong
To some who are near my heart,   
Yet I number him in the song;
He, too, has resigned his part
In the casual comedy;
He, too, has been changed in his turn,   
Transformed utterly:
A terrible beauty is born.
 
Hearts with one purpose alone   
Through summer and winter seem   
Enchanted to a stone
To trouble the living stream.
The horse that comes from the road,   
The rider, the birds that range   
From cloud to tumbling cloud,   
Minute by minute they change;   
A shadow of cloud on the stream   
Changes minute by minute;   
A horse-hoof slides on the brim,   
And a horse plashes within it;   
The long-legged moor-hens dive,   
And hens to moor-cocks call;   
Minute by minute they live:   
The stone's in the midst of all.
 
Too long a sacrifice
Can make a stone of the heart.   
O when may it suffice?
That is Heaven's part, our part   
To murmur name upon name,   
As a mother names her child   
When sleep at last has come   
On limbs that had run wild.   
What is it but nightfall?
No, no, not night but death;   
Was it needless death after all?
For England may keep faith   
For all that is done and said.   
We know their dream; enough
To know they dreamed and are dead;   
And what if excess of love   
Bewildered them till they died?   
I write it out in a verse—
MacDonagh and MacBride   
And Connolly and Pearse
Now and in time to be,
Wherever green is worn,
Are changed, changed utterly:   
A terrible beauty is born.
 
W.B. Yeats - 'Easter, 1916'
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Harriers ran the roads 
To the shadow-herded peaks 
Of Connemara, by the hillocks lit 
With handfuls of sharp water and they cried 
At every farm: 
" Drive in the herds 
Of Maeve and count them into rows." 
They called 
At every holding: 
" Peel the wattle now 
On the cattle of the king." 
Men came to the stile 
And the busy women, hanging out the clothes 
On the currant bushes, cried 
" Who are they 
That are running?" 
But those heels 
Had gone. 
Landowners at the door 
Whittling the hours, whistled for the men 
That mowed in the river field. 
Down the beaten road 
A band of horsemen galloped in a cloud 
With following mares. 
" Whoa!" 
" Steady!" 
" Whoa!" 
" Where do you go?" 
" To the Fair" 
" To the Fair 
Of Ballinasloe." 
" Then call in all 
The ready neighbours, for the thoroughbreds 
And two-year-olds are counting and the drink 
Runs as we run." 
Along the heatherland, 
The dark red bog, they hurried over fence 
And steeping pool. 
" Dry the turf no more 
But hurry to the spancel." 
Down the glen 
Of kelping where the silver share o' the sea 
Lies idle, barelegged women in young waters, 
Wrenching the sun out of the flannel, chased 
The naughty ganders, hurried in for milk 
Or griddle-bread into the house and called 
The snoozing men. 
In the turn 
Of the glen, where by himself the black ram crops 
A greener ring, mountainy folk came down 
With sharpened pikes. 
" Where is the fighting?" 
" At 
What ford?" 
" O hurry to the cattle." 
In 
A gap of cloud, men, larruping a herd 
Through stumbling silver, came. 
" What hoofs 
Are these?" 
" Milk from the little grass 
Of hunger." 
" Bring them down." 
" Bring them down 
To the green troughs of Inagh." 
They were climbing 
The watery green flights of every glen 
And sheep-men drove the barking lanes 
Of rams into the pen and counted them 
When light began to drizzle from the springs 
Of air. 
And so the word ran west and came 
Footsore upon the third day to the tides 
Of light; men rowed the curraghs for a mile 
And lifting the droppy sails to the islands 
Gathered the sheep and ponies. Womenfolk 
Quitting the patchwork quilts upon the shore 
Had topped the family cauldron on the hook 
With handy meal, gossiping of the far 
Blue country when a king and red-haired queen 
Fell out. 
Storm crowded in the far sea-mountains 
Of Achill, broken into unploughed purple 
Against the thundering herds of cloud driven 
From the waterish hurdles of the west; by darkfall 
Strange voices moved among the desolate peaks 
Of war and the dim running islands gathered 
Their brood of sails for men had seen the Bull 
Of Connaught rage upon the shaken ridge 
Of the world. . . .

 

 

Harriers ran the roads by Austin Clarke

 

 

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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

 

John Clare - 'The Winter's Spring'

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Announced by all the trumpets of the sky, 

Arrives the snow, and, driving o'er the fields, 

Seems nowhere to alight: the whited air 

Hides hills and woods, the river, and the heaven, 

And veils the farm-house at the garden's end. 

The sled and traveller stopped, the courier's feet 

Delayed, all friends shut out, the housemates sit 

Around the radiant fireplace, enclosed 

In a tumultuous privacy of storm. 

 

Come see the north wind's masonry. 

Out of an unseen quarry evermore 

Furnished with tile, the fierce artificer 

Curves his white bastions with projected roof 

Round every windward stake, or tree, or door. 

Speeding, the myriad-handed, his wild work 

So fanciful, so savage, nought cares he 

For number or proportion. Mockingly, 

On coop or kennel he hangs Parian wreaths; 

A swan-like form invests the hidden thorn; 

Fills up the farmer's lane from wall to wall, 

Maugre the farmer's sighs; and, at the gate, 

A tapering turret overtops the work. 

And when his hours are numbered, and the world 

Is all his own, retiring, as he were not, 

Leaves, when the sun appears, astonished Art 

To mimic in slow structures, stone by stone, 

Built in an age, the mad wind's night-work, 

The frolic architecture of the snow
 

The Snow-Storm Ralph Waldo Emerson

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Shine out, fair Sun, with all your heat,
Show all your thousand-coloured light!
Black Winter freezes to his seat;
The grey wolf howls, he does so bite;
Crookt Age on three knees creeps the street;
The boneless fish close quaking lies
And eats for cold his aching feet;
The stars in icicles arise:
Shine out, and make this winter night
Our beauty's Spring, our Prince of Light!

 

George Chapman - 'Shine out, fair Sun'

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  • 2 weeks later...

To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day
To the last syllable of recorded time,
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more: it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.

 

Shakespeare, Macbeth, Act V scene v

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Fury said to a
    mouse, That
             he met in
                 the house,
                       'Let us
                            both go
                                to law: I
                                    will prosecute
                                you. Come,
                            I'll take no
                        denial; we
                    must have a
                trial: for
              really this
         morning
        I've noth-
    ing to do.'
 Said the
    mouse to
          the cur,
             'Such a
                trial, dear 
                     sir, with
                          no jury
                       or judge,
                   would be
                wasting
           our
         breath.'
    'I'll be
judge, I'll
    be jury,'
          said
              cun-
                 ning
                     old
                        Fury;
                         'I'll
                             try
                                 the
                              whole
                          cause,
                       and
                condemn
           you
        to
death.'
 
Lewis Carroll - 'The Mouse's Tail'
Edited by Heather
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Determining that something is not easy
Inspiring yourself to try a new way or change your mindset
Finding parts of yourself that you did not know were missing
Following through using practice, trial, error and tribulation
Imagining a diverse, unfamiliar, or new way of doing something
Creatively calling forth all of our available resources, family and friends
Understanding better what others may have already experienced
Learn to be flexible through necessity, often kicking and screaming
Tenaciously attempting to prove yourself or master something new
You come through and congratulate yourself that you have survived

 

D I F F I C U L T Y, Caren Krutsinger 

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I'm not the first or the last

to stand on a hillock,

watching the man she married

prove to the world

 he's a total, utter, absolute, Grade A pillock.

 

Mrs Icarus - by Carol Ann Duffy, from her collection The World's Wife.

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Went to see my doctor
and he told me to lose weight
I said "you must be joking"
"I'm feeling really great!"
He reached down to my shoes
And he then untied my laces
"Now, Mr. Turner, tie them up"
"And don't make funny faces"
"I want to hear your breathing"
"As you try to tie them up"
"It'll will be quite exhausting"
"And you'll feel like throwing up"
I said "Doc, you must be joking"
"of your test I have no fear"
But as I bent on over
My feet both disappeared
I said "What is that thing there?"
"It's blocking out my view"
He said "that large obstruction"
"is your tummy, that thing's you!"
I stood on up and there it was
My god, that thing was large
I'd bet if I went swimming
I'd be mistaken for a barge!
"Can you do your belt up?'"
"Get it to the second hole?"
I told the doc "No Problem"
"That's a realistic goal"
I undid my belt and gave a tug
I then pulled and I fiddled
But in the end I just looked like
A balloon squeezed in the middle
He said "This isn't safe for you"
"It's not good for your heart"
"So I would say a diet and some exercise"
" is what you need to start"
"It's not  a quick solution"
"You must change the way you live"
"For you won't get any better"
"If you are afraid to give"
He measured me and took my weight
And he did my BMI
He said "You need to make this change"
"or else, you're gonna die!"
There it was in black and white
He didn't sugar coat a thing
I either did what I was told
Or I'd hear the Angels sing.
I said, "OK, you 've got me"
"I'll commit to what you ask"
"You've scared me lots, now tell me when"
"We get started on this task"
"I can give you tools to help get fit"
"But it all is up to you"
"Just eat right and go slowly"
"And soon you'll see your shoes!"
He said there's many plans out
that can help you lose it fast
But, you didn't put in on real  quick
So, the results  will not last
I went home and I researched"
Atkins, Raw Food, Jenny Craig
I knew I could lose 50 pounds
If I just cut off one leg.
I could hobble around on crutches
Until I got a new one made
I'd be right in that fit zone
I would not be afraid,
But a voice way back inside me
Said, 'you pillock...do what's right"
"You didn't put it on quick"
"And you won't lose it overnight"
So, I changed what I was eating
No more fried foods and no bread
For I didn't want to wake up
And find out I was dead
I've exercised a little
I even went out for a jog
And I thought I moved quite swiftly
Till, I was passed by an obese dog
I thought "you need some help boy"
I sympathize with you
I bet you can't see four feet
While I just can't see two!
I did weights  inside the basement
Watched DVDs on my big screen
I've tried yoga and Pilates
I've even danced a bit to Queen
So far there's not much difference
But my energy is good
I keep on eating chocolate
I'm not trying like I could
I went back to the doctor
To follow up with him
And I knew that my achievement
was going to be dim
He said "good news, you're down a pound"
Just keep sticking to the plan
I said that it was difficult
But I'd do what I can
He said it may be just a pound
And I bet that didn't hurt
I didn't tell him I looked thinner
Because I'd worn a bigger shirt
So, here I am still trying
Of weight loss, there's no news
But if I look in the hall closet
At least I see my shoes!

 
Doctor's Visit, Roger Turner
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The Dormouse turned over to shut out the sight

Of the endless chrysanthemums (yellow and white).

"How lovely," he thought, "to be back in a bed

Of delphiniums (blue) and geraniums (red)."

 

The Doctor said, "Tut! It's another attack!"

And ordered him Milk and Massage-of-the-back,

And Freedom-from-worry and Drives-in-a-car,

And murmured, "How sweet your chrysanthemums are!"

 

The Dormouse lay there with his paws to his eyes,

And imagined himself such a pleasant surprise:

"I'll pretend the chrysanthemums turn to a bed

Of delphiniums (blue) and geraniums (red)!"

 

The Doctor next morning was rubbing his hands,

And saying, "There's nobody quite understands

These cases as I do! The cure has begun!

How fresh the chrysanthemums look in the sun!"

 

The Dormouse lay happy, his eyes were so tight

He could see no chrysanthemums, yellow or white.

And all that he felt at the back of his head

Were delphiniums (blue) and geraniums (red).

 

And that is the reason (Aunt Emily said)

If a Dormouse gets in a chrysanthemum bed,

You will find (so Aunt Emily says) that he lies

Fast asleep on his front with his paws to his eyes.

 

Verses from "The Dormouse and The Doctor" by A.A. Milne. Published in "When We Were Very Young".

The whole poem, with illustrations by E.H. Shepard can be read here

 

 

 

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Eyes that last I saw in tears
Through division
Here in death's dream kingdom
The golden vision reappears
I see the eyes but not the tears
This is my affliction

This is my affliction
Eyes I shall not see again
Eyes of decision
Eyes I shall not see unless
At the door of death's other kingdom
Where, as in this,
The eyes outlast a little while
A little while outlast the tears
And hold us in derision.

 

T.S. Eliot - 'Eyes that last I saw in tears'

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I'm holding my son in my arms

sweating after nightmares

small me

fingers in his mouth

his other fist clenched in my hair

small me

sweating after nightmares.

 

Griffin Of The Night by Michael Ondaatje from  "The Cinnamon Peeler, Selected Poems"

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Of the dark past

A child is born;

With joy and grief

My heart is torn.

 

Calm in his cradle

The living lies.

May love and mercy

Unclose his eyes!

 

Young life is breathed

On the glass;

The world that was not

Comes to pass.

 

A child is sleeping:

An old man gone.

O, father forsaken,

Forgive your son!

 

James Joyce - 'Ecce Puer'

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“Let there be light!” said God, and there was light!

”Let there be blood!” says man, and there’s a sea!

 

Lord Byron - Don Juan

 

Edit: Have emboldened "man" to provide a link to Heather's poem

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'O voyagers, O seamen,
You who came to port, and you whose bodies
Will suffer the trial and judgement of the sea,
Or whatever event, this is your real destination.'
So Krishna, as when he admonished Arjuna
On the field of battle.
                                  Not fare well,
But fare forward, voyagers.

 

T.S. Eliot - from 'The Dry Salvages'

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Drona was a great teacher of archery
He taught it to Pandavas and kauravas
Arjuna was his  favourite disciple
He liked him for his pious principle

Drona promised to make him the best
In any form of archery test
One day A tribal came to Drona
And requested him to teach the craft

The master asked him for his caste
The tribal revealed the fact
Drona told him he would teach only the upper-caste
And leave the place in great haste

The Tribal,Ekalavya, Made an idol of his master
And became an invincible archer
Drona and Arjuna came to the forest
The former considered the tribal was the best

Drona asked for the tribal’s  master
And surprised to find the answer
And demanded his right thumb as a gift
Ekalavya offered it as a token of great respect

 

JVL Narasimha Rao

An Outstanding Student and a Bad Teacher,  The story is taken from the Indian classic, THE MAHABHARATHA

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CASSIUS
And why should Caesar be a tyrant then?
Poor man! I know he would not be a wolf,
But that he sees the Romans are but sheep:
He were no lion, were not Romans hinds.
Those that with haste will make a mighty fire
Begin it with weak straws: what trash is Rome,
What rubbish and what offal, when it serves
For the base matter to illuminate
So vile a thing as Caesar! But, O grief,
Where hast thou led me? I perhaps speak this
Before a willing bondman; then I know
My answer must be made. But I am arm'd,
And dangers are to me indifferent.

 

Shakespeare, Julius Cæsar I/iii

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Before the Roman came to Rye or out to Severn strode, 

The rolling English drunkard made the rolling English road. 
A reeling road, a rolling road, that rambles round the shire, 
And after him the parson ran, the sexton and the squire; 
A merry road, a mazy road, and such as we did tread 
The night we went to Birmingham by way of Beachy Head

 
I knew no harm of Bonaparte and plenty of the Squire, 
And for to fight the Frenchman I did not much desire; 
But I did bash their baggonets because they came arrayed 
To straighten out the crooked road an English drunkard made, 
Where you and I went down the lane with ale-mugs in our hands, 
The night we went to Glastonbury by way of Goodwin Sands. 

His sins they were forgiven him; or why do flowers run 
Behind him; and the hedges all strengthening in the sun? 
The wild thing went from left to right and knew not which was which, 
But the wild rose was above him when they found him in the ditch. 
God pardon us, nor harden us; we did not see so clear 
The night we went to Bannockburn by way of Brighton Pier. 

My friends, we will not go again or ape an ancient rage, 
Or stretch the folly of our youth to be the shame of age, 
But walk with clearer eyes and ears this path that wandereth, 
And see undrugged in evening light the decent inn of death; 
For there is good news yet to hear and fine things to be seen, 
Before we go to Paradise by way of Kensal Green.

 

The Rolling English Road by G.K.Chesterton

 

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Some say that Guy of Warwick
The man that killed the Cow,
And brake the mighty Boar alive
Beyond the bridge at Slough;
Went up against a Loathly Worm
That wasted all the Downs,
And so the roads they twist and squirm
(If a may be allowed the term)
From the writhing of the stricken Worm
That died in seven towns.
I see no scientific proof
That this idea is sound,
And I should say they wound about
To find the town of Roundabout,
The merry town of Roundabout,
That makes the world go round.

Some say that Robin Goodfellow,
Whose lantern lights the meads
(To steal a phrase Sir Walter Scott
In heaven no longer needs),
Such dance around the trysting-place
The moonstruck lover leads;
Which superstition I should scout
There is more faith in honest doubt
(As Tennyson has pointed out)
Than in those nasty creeds.
But peace and righteousness (St John)
In Roundabout can kiss,
And since that's all that's found about
The pleasant town of Roundabout,
The roads they simply bound about
To find out where it is.

Some say that when Sir Lancelot
Went forth to find the Grail,
Grey Merlin wrinkled up the roads
For hope that he would fail;
All roads lead back to Lyonesse
And Camelot in the Vale,
I cannot yield assent to this
Extravagant hypothesis,
The plain, shrewd Briton will dismiss
Such rumours (Daily Mail).
But in the streets of Roundabout
Are no such factions found,
Or theories to expound about,
Or roll upon the ground about,
In the happy town of Roundabout,
That makes the world go round.
G.K. Chesterton - 'The Road to Roundabout'
An alternative explanation for the way English roads wind around. Both poems are from 'The Flying Inn'.
 

 

 
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HORATIO

And then it started, like a guilty thing
Upon a fearful summons. I have heard
The cock, that is the trumpet to the morn,
Doth with his lofty and shrill-sounding throat
Awake the god of day; and at his warning,
Whether in sea or fire, in earth or air,
Th' extravagant and erring spirit hies
To his confine; and of the truth herein
This present object made probation.

MARCELLUS

It faded on the crowing of the cock.
Some say that ever, 'gainst that season comes
Wherein our Saviour's birth is celebrated,
The bird of dawning singeth all night long;
And then, they say, no spirit dare stir abroad,
The nights are wholesome, then no planets strike,
No fairy takes, nor witch hath power to charm,
So hallow'd and so gracious is the time.

 

Shakespeare, Hamlet I/i

 

Edited by jfp
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Midwinter spring is its own season
Sempiternal though sodden towards sundown,
Suspended in time, between pole and tropic.
When the short day is brightest, with frost and fire,
The brief sun flames the ice, on pond and ditches,
In windless cold that is the heart's heat,
Reflecting in a watery mirror
A glare that is blindness in the early afternoon.
And glow more intense than blaze of branch, or brazier,
Stirs the dumb spirit: no wind, but pentecostal fire
In the dark time of the year. Between melting and freezing
The soul's sap quivers. There is no earth smell
Or smell of living thing. This is the spring time
But not in time's covenant. Now the hedgerow
Is blanched for an hour with transitory blossom
Of snow, a bloom more sudden
Than that of summer, neither budding nor fading,
Not in the scheme of generation.
Where is the summer, the unimaginable

Zero summer?

 

T.S. Eliot - from 'Little Gidding'

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Out walking in the frozen swamp one gray day,
I paused and said, 'I will turn back from here.
No, I will go on farther—and we shall see.'
The hard snow held me, save where now and then
One foot went through. The view was all in lines
Straight up and down of tall slim trees
Too much alike to mark or name a place by
So as to say for certain I was here
Or somewhere else: I was just far from home.
A small bird flew before me. He was careful
To put a tree between us when he lighted,
And say no word to tell me who he was
Who was so foolish as to think what he thought.
He thought that I was after him for a feather—
The white one in his tail; like one who takes
Everything said as personal to himself.
One flight out sideways would have undeceived him.
And then there was a pile of wood for which
I forgot him and let his little fear
Carry him off the way I might have gone,
Without so much as wishing him good-night.
He went behind it to make his last stand.
It was a cord of maple, cut and split
And piled—and measured, four by four by eight.
And not another like it could I see.
No runner tracks in this year's snow looped near it.
And it was older sure than this year's cutting,
Or even last year's or the year's before.
The wood was gray and the bark warping off it
And the pile somewhat sunken. Clematis
Had wound strings round and round it like a bundle.
What held it though on one side was a tree
Still growing, and on one a stake and prop,
These latter about to fall. I thought that only
Someone who lived in turning to fresh tasks
Could so forget his handiwork on which
He spent himself, the labor of his ax,
And leave it there far from a useful fireplace
To warm the frozen swamp as best it could
With the slow smokeless burning of decay.
 
Robert FROST, "The Wood-Pile"
Edited by jfp
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The free bird leaps

on the back of the wind

and floats downstream

till the current ends

and dips his wings

in the orange sun rays

and dares to claim the sky.

 

But a bird that stalks

down his narrow cage

can seldom see through

his bars of rage

his wings are clipped and

his feet are tied

so he opens his throat to sing.

 

The caged bird sings

with fearful trill

of the things unknown

but longed for still

and his tune is heard

on the distant hill for the caged bird

sings of freedom

 

The free bird thinks of another breeze

and the trade winds soft through the sighing trees

and the fat worms waiting on a dawn-bright lawn

and he names the sky his own.

 

But a caged bird stands on the grave of dreams

his shadow shouts on a nightmare scream

his wings are clipped and his feet are tied

so he opens his throat to sing

 

The caged bird sings

with a fearful trill

of things unknown

but longed for still

and his tune is heard

on the distant hill

for the caged bird

sings of freedom.

 

I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou

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