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'Tis spring; come out to ramble
  The hilly brakes around,
For under thorn and bramble
  About the hollow ground
  The primroses are found.

And there's the windflower chilly
  With all the winds at play,
And there's the Lenten lily
  That has not long to stay
  And dies on Easter day.

And since till girls go maying
  You find the primrose still,
And find the windflower playing
  With every wind at will,
  But not the daffodil,

Bring baskets now, and sally
  Upon the spring's array,
And bear from hill and valley
  The daffodil away
  That dies on Easter day.

 

A.E. Housman - 'The Lent Lily'

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I heard a thousand blended notes,
While in a grove I sate reclined,
In that sweet mood when pleasant thoughts
Bring sad thoughts to the mind.
 
To her fair works did Nature link
The human soul that through me ran;
And much it grieved my heart to think
What man has made of man.
 
Through primrose tufts, in that green bower,
The periwinkle trailed its wreaths;
And ’tis my faith that every flower
Enjoys the air it breathes.
 
The birds around me hopped and played,
Their thoughts I cannot measure:—
But the least motion which they made
It seemed a thrill of pleasure.
 
The budding twigs spread out their fan,
To catch the breezy air;
And I must think, do all I can,
That there was pleasure there.
 
If this belief from heaven be sent,
If such be Nature’s holy plan,
Have I not reason to lament
What man has made of man?
 
William Wordsworth - "Lines Written in Early Spring"
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I leant upon a coppice gate

      When Frost was spectre-grey,

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 a 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.

 

Thomas Hardy - 'The Darkling Thrush'

 

 

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In the bleak midwinter, frosty wind made moan,
Earth stood hard as iron, water like a stone;
Snow had fallen, snow on snow, snow on snow,
In the bleak midwinter, long ago.
 
Our God, Heaven cannot hold Him, nor earth sustain;
Heaven and earth shall flee away when He comes to reign.
In the bleak midwinter a stable place sufficed
The Lord God Almighty, Jesus Christ.
 
Enough for Him, whom cherubim worship night and day,
Breastful of milk, and a mangerful of hay;
Enough for Him, whom angels fall before,
The ox and ass and camel which adore.
 
Angels and archangels may have gathered there,
Cherubim and seraphim thronged the air;
But His mother only, in her maiden bliss,
Worshipped the beloved with a kiss.
 
What can I give Him, poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb;
If I were a Wise Man, I would do my part;
Yet what I can I give Him: give my heart.
 
Christina ROSSETTI - "In the Bleak Midwinter"
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O CHANTRY of the Cherubim
Down-looking on the stream! 
Beneath thy boughs the day grows dim; 
Through windows comes the gleam; 
A thousand raptures fill the air, 
Beyond delight, beyond despair. 

I will not name one flower that clings 
In cluster at my feet! 
I will not hail one bird that sings 
Its anthem loud or sweet! 
This is the floor of Heaven, and these 
The angels that God’s ear do please. 

I walk as one unclothed of flesh, 
I wash my spirit clean; 
I see old miracles afresh, 
And wonders yet unseen. 
I will not leave Thee till Thou give 
Some word whereby my soul may live! 

I listened—but no voice I heard; 
I looked—no likeness saw; 
Slowly the joy of flower and bird 
Did like a tide withdraw; 
And in the heaven a silent star 
Smiled on me, infinitely far. 

I buoyed me on the wings of dream, 
Above the world of sense; 
I set my thought to sound the scheme, 
And fathom the Immense; 
I tuned my spirit as a lute 
To catch wind-music wandering mute. 

Yet came there never voice nor sign; 
But through my being stole 
Sense of a Universe divine, 
And knowledge of a soul 
Perfected in the joy of things, 
The star, the flower, the bird that sings. 

Nor I am more, nor less, than these; 
All are one brotherhood; 
I and all creatures, plants, and trees, 
The living limbs of God; 
And in an hour, as this, divine, 
I feel the vast pulse throb in mine. 
 

The Chantry Of The Cherubim

Francis William Bourdillon 1852

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Full fathom five thy father lies;
Of his bones are coral made;
Those are pearls that were his eyes:
Nothing of him that doth fade
But doth suffer a sea-change
Into something rich and strange.
Sea-nymphs hourly ring his knell
Hark! now I hear them,—Ding-dong, bell.

 

Shakespeare - The Tempest I/ii

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Today we have naming of parts. Yesterday,
We had daily cleaning. And tomorrow morning,
We shall have what to do after firing. But today,
Today we have naming of parts. Japonica
Glistens like coral in all of the neighboring gardens,
And today we have naming of parts.

This is the lower sling swivel. And this
Is the upper sling swivel, whose use you will see,
When you are given your slings. And this is the piling swivel,
Which in your case you have not got. The branches
Hold in the gardens their silent, eloquent gestures,
Which in our case we have not got.

This is the safety-catch, which is always released
With an easy flick of the thumb. And please do not let me
See anyone using his finger. You can do it quite easy
If you have any strength in your thumb. The blossoms
Are fragile and motionless, never letting anyone see
Any of them using their finger.

And this you can see is the bolt. The purpose of this
Is to open the breech, as you see. We can slide it
Rapidly backwards and forwards: we call this
Easing the spring. And rapidly backwards and forwards
The early bees are assaulting and fumbling the flowers:
They call it easing the Spring.

They call it easing the Spring: it is perfectly easy
If you have any strength in your thumb: like the bolt,
And the breech, and the cocking-piece, and the point of balance,
Which in our case we have not got; and the almond-blossom
Silent in all of the gardens and the bees going backwards and forwards,
For today we have naming of parts.

 

Henry Reed - 'Naming of Parts'

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Come down, O maid, from yonder mountain height:
What pleasure lives in height (the shepherd sang)
In height and cold, the splendour of the hills?
But cease to move so near the Heavens, and cease
To glide a sunbeam by the blasted Pine,
To sit a star upon the sparkling spire;
And come, for Love is of the valley, come,
For Love is of the valley, come thou down
And find him; by the happy threshold, he,
Or hand in hand with Plenty in the maize,
Or red with spirted purple of the vats,
Or foxlike in the vine; nor cares to walk
With Death and Morning on the silver horns,
Nor wilt thou snare him in the white ravine,
Nor find him dropt upon the firths of ice,
That huddling slant in furrow-cloven falls
To roll the torrent out of dusky doors:
But follow; let the torrent dance thee down
To find him in the valley; let the wild
Lean-headed Eagles yelp alone, and leave
The monstrous ledges there to slope, and spill
Their thousand wreaths of dangling water-smoke,
That like a broken purpose waste in air:
So waste not thou; but come; for all the vales
Await thee; azure pillars of the hearth
Arise to thee; the children call, and I
Thy shepherd pipe, and sweet is every sound,
Sweeter thy voice, but every sound is sweet;
Myriads of rivulets hurrying thro' the lawn,
The moan of doves in immemorial elms,
And murmuring of innumerable bees.
 
Alfred, Lord Tennyson - from "The Princess"
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When we two parted
In silence and tears,
Half broken-hearted
To sever for years,
Pale grew thy cheek and cold,
Colder thy kiss;
Truly that hour foretold
Sorrow to this.

 

The dew of the morning
Sank chill on my brow –
It felt like the warning
Of what I feel now.
Thy vows are all broken,
And light is thy fame;
I hear thy name spoken,
And share in its shame.

 

They name thee before me,
A knell in mine ear;
A shudder come o’er me –
Why wert thou so dear?
They know not I knew thee,
Who knew thee too well –
Long, long shall I rue thee,
Too deeply to tell.

 

In secret we met –
In silence I grieve,
That thy heart could forget,
Thy spirit deceive.
If I should meet thee
After long years,
How should I greet thee? –
With silence and tears.

 

‘When We Two Parted’ by Lord Byron

 

*this made me shiver, I can tell you*

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St. Agnes' Eve—Ah, bitter chill it was!
       The owl, for all his feathers, was a-cold;
       The hare limp'd trembling through the frozen grass,
       And silent was the flock in woolly fold:
       Numb were the Beadsman's fingers, while he told
       His rosary, and while his frosted breath,
       Like pious incense from a censer old,
       Seem'd taking flight for heaven, without a death,
Past the sweet Virgin's picture, while his prayer he saith.
[...]
 
John Keats, "The Eve of St. Agnes" (first stanza)
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When icicles hang by the wall
   And Dick the shepherd blows his nail
And Tom bears logs into the hall
   And milk comes frozen home in pail,
When blood is nipp'd and ways be foul,
Then nightly sings the staring owl,
                        Tu-whit;
Tu-who, a merry note,
While greasy Joan doth keel the pot.

When all aloud the wind doth blow
   And coughing drowns the parson's saw
And birds sit brooding in the snow
   And Marian's nose looks red and raw,
When roasted crabs hiss in the bowl,
Then nightly sings the staring owl,
                        Tu-whit;
Tu-who, a merry note,
While greasy Joan doth keel the pot.

 

Shakespeare - Love's Labour's Lost V/ii

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OTHELLO

It is the cause, it is the cause, my soul,—
Let me not name it to you, you chaste stars!—
It is the cause. Yet I'll not shed her blood;
Nor scar that whiter skin of hers than snow,
And smooth as monumental alabaster.
Yet she must die, else she'll betray more men.
Put out the light, and then put out the light:
If I quench thee, thou flaming minister,
I can again thy former light restore,
Should I repent me: but once put out thy light,
Thou cunning'st pattern of excelling nature,
I know not where is that Promethean heat
That can thy light relume. When I have pluck'd the rose,
I cannot give it vital growth again.
It must needs wither: I'll smell it on the tree.
Ah balmy breath, that dost almost persuade
Justice to break her sword! One more, one more.
Be thus when thou art dead, and I will kill thee,
And love thee after. One more, and this the last:
So sweet was ne'er so fatal. I must weep,
But they are cruel tears: this sorrow's heavenly;
It strikes where it doth love. She wakes.

 

Shakespeare - Othello V/ii

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Red Rose, proud Rose, sad Rose of all my days!
Come near me, while I sing the ancient ways:
Cuchulain battling with the bitter tide;
The Druid, grey, wood-nurtured, quiet-eyed,
Who cast round Fergus dreams, and ruin untold;
And thine own sadness, whereof stars, grown old
In dancing silver-sandalled on the sea,
Sing in their high and lonely melody.
Come near, that no more blinded by man's fate,
I find under the boughs of love and hate,
In all poor foolish things that live a day,
Eternal beauty wandering on her way.
 
Come near, come near, come near—Ah, leave me still
A little space for the rose-breath to fill!
Lest I no more hear common things that crave;
The weak worm hiding down in its small cave,
The field-mouse running by me in the grass,
And heavy mortal hopes that toil and pass;
But seek alone to hear the strange things said
By God to the bright hearts of those long dead,
And learn to chaunt a tongue men do not know.
Come near; I would, before my time to go,
Sing of old Eire and the ancient ways:
Red Rose, proud Rose, sad Rose of all my days.
 
W.B. Yeats - 'To the Rose upon the Rood of Time'
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Where the acorn tumbles down,
Where the ash tree sheds its berry,
With your fur so soft and brown,
With your eye so round and merry,

Scarcely moving the long grass,

Fieldmouse, I can see you pass.
Little thing, in what dark den,
Lie you all the winter sleeping?
Till warm weather comes again,
Then once more I see you peeping
Round about the tall tree roots,
Nibbling at their fallen fruits.
Fieldmouse, fieldmouse, do not go,
Where the farmer stacks his treasure,
Find the nut that falls below,
Eat the acorn at your pleasure,
But you must not steal the grain
He has stacked with so much pain.
Make your hole where mosses spring,
Underneath the tall oak's shadow,
Pretty, quiet harmless thing,
Play about the sunny meadow.
Keep away from corn and house,
None will harm you, little mouse.

 

Cecil Frances Alexander - "The Fieldmouse"

(Author of "All Things Bright and Beautiful", "There is a Green Hill Far Away" & "Once in Royal David's City")

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Wee, sleekit, cowran, tim'rous beastie,
O, what a panic's in thy breastie!
Thou need na start awa sae hasty,
Wi' bickering brattle!
I wad be laith to rin an' chase thee,
Wi' murd'ring pattle!

 

I'm truly sorry Man's dominion
Has broken Nature's social union,
An' justifies that ill opinion,
Which makes thee startle,
At me, thy poor, earth-born companion,
An' fellow-mortal!

 

I doubt na, whyles, but thou may thieve;
What then? poor beastie, thou maun live!
A daimen-icker in a thrave

'S a sma' request:
I'll get a blessin wi' the lave,
An' never miss't!

 

Thy wee-bit housie, too, in ruin!
It's silly wa's the win's are strewin!
An' naething, now, to big a new ane,
O' foggage green!
An' bleak December's winds ensuin,
Baith snell an' keen!

 

Thou saw the fields laid bare an' wast,
An' weary Winter comin fast,
An' cozie here, beneath the blast,
Thou thought to dwell,
Till crash! the cruel coulter past
Out thro' thy cell.

 

That wee-bit heap o' leaves an' stibble,
Has cost thee monie a weary nibble!
Now thou's turn'd out, for a' thy trouble,
But house or hald.
To thole the Winter's sleety dribble,
An' cranreuch cauld!

 

But Mousie, thou are no thy-lane,
In proving foresight may be vain:
The best laid schemes o' Mice an' Men,
Gang aft agley,
An' lea'e us nought but grief an' pain,
For promis'd joy!

 

Still, thou art blest, compar'd wi' me!
The present only toucheth thee:
But Och! I backward cast my e'e,
On prospects drear!
An' forward, tho' I canna see,
I guess an' fear!

 

Robert Burns - 'To a Mouse'

 

A translation of the Scots words can be found here: http://www.rampantscotland.com/poetry/blpoems_mouse.htm

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How like a winter hath my absence been
From thee, the pleasure of the fleeting year!
What freezings have I felt, what dark days seen!
What old December's bareness every where!
And yet this time removed was summer's time,
The teeming autumn, big with rich increase,
Bearing the wanton burden of the prime,
Like widow'd wombs after their lords' decease:
Yet this abundant issue seem'd to me
But hope of orphans and unfather'd fruit;
For summer and his pleasures wait on thee,
And, thou away, the very birds are mute;
    Or, if they sing, 'tis with so dull a cheer
    That leaves look pale, dreading the winter's near.

 

Shakespeare - Sonnet 97

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You must prepare your bosom for his knife,

said Portia to Antonio in which

of Shakespeare's Comedies? Who killed his wife,

insane with jealousy? And which Scots witch

knew Something wicked this way comes? Who said

Is this a dagger which I see? Which Tragedy?

Whose blade was drawn which led to Tybalt's death?

To whom did dying Caesar say Et tu? And why?

Something is rotten in the state of Denmark - do you

know what this means? Explain how poetry

pursues the human like the smitten moon

above the weeping, laughing earth; how we

make prayers of it. Nothing will come of nothing:

speak again. Said by which King? You may begin.

 

Mrs Schofield's GCSE by Carol Ann Duffy, penned in response to her work being removed from a GCSE curriculum.

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The moon on the east oriel shone

Through slender shafts of shapely stone,

  By foliaged tracery combined;      

Thou wouldst have thought some fairy’s hand

’Twixt poplars straight the osier wand

  In many a freakish knot had twined,

Then framed a spell, when the work was done,

And changed the willow wreaths to stone.      

The silver light, so pale and faint,

Showed many a prophet, and many a saint,

  Whose image on the glass was dyed;

Full in the midst, his Cross of Red

Triumphant Michael brandished,      

  And trampled the Apostate’s pride.

The moonbeam kissed the holy pane,

And threw on the pavement a bloody stain.

 

Sir Walter Scott - from 'The Lay of the Last Minstrel'

(a description of Melrose Abbey)

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At one the wind rose,
And with it the noise
Of the black poplars.

 

 Long since had the living
 By a thin twine
 Been led into their dreams
 Where lanterns shine
 Under a still veil
 Of falling streams;
 Long since had the dead
 Become untroubled
 In the light soil.
 There were no mouths
 To drink of the wind,
 Nor any eyes
 To sharpen on the stars'
 Wide heaven-holding,
 Only the sound
 Long sibilant-muscled trees
 Were lifting up, the black poplars.

 And in their blazing solitude
 The stars sang in their sockets through the night:
 'Blow bright, blow bright
 The coal of this unquickened world.'

 

Philip LARKIN - "Night-Music"

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Birth and death, twin-sister and twin-brother,

Night and day, on all things that draw breath,

Reign, while time keeps friends with one another

Birth and death.

 

Each brow-bound with flowers diverse of wreath,

Heaven they hail as father, earth as mother,

Faithful found above them and beneath.

 

Smiles may lighten tears, and tears may smother

Smiles, for all that joy or sorrow saith:

Joy nor sorrow knows not from each other

Birth and death.

 

  Birth and Death a  roundel by Algernon Charles Swinburne

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Stopping the diary
Was a stun to memory,
Was a blank starting,

One no longer cicatrized
By such words, such actions
As bleakened waking.

I wanted them over,
Hurried to burial
And looked back on

Like the wars and winters
Missing behind the windows
Of an opaque childhood.

And the empty pages?
Should they ever be filled
Let it be with observed

 

Celestial recurrences,
The day the flowers come,
And when the birds go.

 

Philip LARKIN - "Forget What Did"

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TELL me not, Sweet, I am unkind

  That from the nunnery

Of thy chaste breast and quiet mind,

  To war and arms I fly.

  

True, a new mistress now I chase,         5

  The first foe in the field;

And with a stronger faith embrace

  A sword, a horse, a shield.

  

Yet this inconstancy is such

  As you too shall adore;   10

I could not love thee, Dear, so much,

  Loved I not Honour more

 

 

 

To Lucasta, on Going to the Wars  - Colonel Richard Lovelace

 

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It is the cause, it is the cause, my soul,—
Let me not name it to you, you chaste stars!—
It is the cause. Yet I'll not shed her blood;
Nor scar that whiter skin of hers than snow,
And smooth as monumental alabaster.
Yet she must die, else she'll betray more men.
Put out the light, and then put out the light:
If I quench thee, thou flaming minister,
I can again thy former light restore,
Should I repent me: but once put out thy light,
Thou cunning'st pattern of excelling nature,
I know not where is that Promethean heat
That can thy light relume. When I have pluck'd the rose,
I cannot give it vital growth again.
It must needs wither: I'll smell it on the tree.

 

Shakespeare - Othello V/ii

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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.

 

A.E. Housman - 'Stars, I have seen them fall'

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No apologies for posting this again - a favourite of mine for nearly 60 years

 

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, maybe, or 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 start from star.

 

Fafaia - Rupert Brooke

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