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Poetic Wanderings


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But what, by the fur on your satin sleeves,
The rain that drags at my feather
And the great Mercurius, god of thieves,
Are we thieves doing together?

Last night your blades bit deep for their hire,
And we were the sickled barley.
To-night, atoast by the common fire,
You ask me to join your parley.

Your spears are shining like Iceland spar,
The blood-grapes drip for your drinking;
For you folk follow the rising star,
I follow the star that's sinking!

My queen is old as the frosted whins,
Nay, how could her wrinkles charm me?
And the starving bones are bursting the skins
In the ranks of her ancient army.

You marshal a steel-and-silken troop,
Your cressets are fed with spices,
And you batter the world like a rolling hoop
To the goal of your proud devices.

I have rocked your thrones—but your fight is won.
To-night, as the highest bidder,
You offer a share of your brigand-sun,
Consider, old bull, consider!

Ahead, red Death and the Fear of Death,
Your vultures, stoop to the slaughter.
But I shall fight you, body and breath,
Till my life runs out like water!

My queen is wan as the Polar snows.
Her host is a rout of specters.
But I gave her Youth like a burning rose,
And her age shall not lack protectors!

I would not turn for the thunderclap
Or the face of the woman who bore me,
With her battered badge still scarring my cap,
And the drums of defeat before me.

Roll your hands in the honey of life,
Kneel to your white-necked strumpets!
You came to your crowns with a squealing fife
But I shall go out with trumpets!


Poison the steel of the plunging dart,
Holloa your hounds to their station!
I march to my ruin with such a heart
As a king to his coronation.

Your poets roar of your golden feats—
I have herded the stars like cattle.
And you may die in the perfumed sheets,
But I shall die in battle.


Stephen Vincent Benét - 'The Retort Discourteous'

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What passing-bells for these who die as cattle?
      — Only the monstrous anger of the guns.
      Only the stuttering rifles' rapid rattle
Can patter out their hasty orisons.
No mockeries now for them; no prayers nor bells; 
      Nor any voice of mourning save the choirs,—
The shrill, demented choirs of wailing shells;
      And bugles calling for them from sad shires.
What candles may be held to speed them all?
      Not in the hands of boys, but in their eyes
Shall shine the holy glimmers of goodbyes.
      The pallor of girls' brows shall be their pall;
Their flowers the tenderness of patient minds,
And each slow dusk a drawing-down of blinds.
Wilfred Owen - "Anthem for Doomed Youth"
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15 hours ago, jfp said:

I confess to having unintentionally posted Robert Frost's "The Wood-Pile" twice since the beginning of the year... 😏

Repeating poems is not usually a problem, after all 143 pages is a lot to check through. I have often repeated favouite poems,  sometimes more than once  - but not usually within 24hrs!

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12 hours ago, megustaleer said:

Repeating poems is not usually a problem, after all 143 pages is a lot to check through. I have often repeated favouite poems,  sometimes more than once  - but not usually within 24hrs!

I enjoy reading them and hadn't noticed. Keep them coming and then transfer to Book Club Forum.

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For everything I felt a love,

The weeds below, the birds above;

And weeds that bloomed in summer's hours

I thought they should be reckoned flowers;

They made a garden free for all,

And so I loved them great and small,

And sung of some that pleased my eye,

Nor could I pass the thistle by,

But paused and thought it could not be

A weed in nature's poesy.

No matter for protecting wall,

No matter though they chance to fall

Where sheep and cows and oxen lie,

The kindly rain when they're adry

Falls on them with as plenteous showers

As when it waters garden flowers;

They look up with a blushing eye

Upon a tender watching sky,

And still enjoy the kindling smile

Of sunshine though they live with toil,

As garden flowers with all their care,

For nature's love is ever there.

And so it cheered me while I lay

Among their beautiful array

To think that I in humble dress

Might have a right to happiness

And sing as well as greater men…


John Clare - from 'The Progress of Rhyme'



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The Quiet Life by ALEXANDER POPE


Happy the man whose wish and care

A few paternal acres bound,

Content to breath his native air

In his own ground.

Whose herds with milk, whose fields with bread,

Whose flocks supply him with attire,

Whose trees in summer yield him shade,

In winter fire.

Blest who can unconcern'dly find

Hours, days and years slide soft away,

In health of body, peace of mind,

Quiet by day,

Sound sleep by night; study and ease,

Together mixt; sweet recreation;

And innocence, which most does please

With meditation.

Thus let me live, unseen, unknown,

Thus unlamented let me die,

Steal from the world, and not a stone

Tell where I lie.


The Quiet Life  - Alexander Pope

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     Wisdom and Spirit of the universe!
Thou Soul that art the eternity of thought!
That giv'st to forms and images a breath
And everlasting motion! not in vain,
By day or star-light thus from my first dawn
Of Childhood didst Thou intertwine for me
The passions that build up our human Soul,
Not with the mean and vulgar works of Man,
But with high objects, with enduring things,
With life and nature, purifying thus
The elements of feeling and of thought,
And sanctifying, by such discipline,
Both pain and fear, until we recognize
A grandeur in the beatings of the heart.
       Nor was this fellowship vouchsaf'd to me
With stinted kindness. In November days,
When vapours, rolling down the valleys, made
A lonely scene more lonesome; among woods
At noon, and 'mid the calm of summer nights,
When, by the margin of the trembling Lake,
Beneath the gloomy hills I homeward went
In solitude, such intercourse was mine;
'Twas mine among the fields both day and night,
And by the waters all the summer long.
William Wordsworth - from The Prelude, Book I
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maggie and milly and molly and may
went down to the beach (to play one day)


and maggie discovered a shell that sang
so sweetly she couldn't remember her troubles, and


milly befriended a stranded star
whose rays five languid fingers were;


and molly was chased by a horrible thing
which raced sideways while blowing bubbles: and


may came home with a smooth round stone
as small as a world and as large as alone.


For whatever we lose (like a you or a me)
it's always ourselves we find in the sea


e.e. cummings - 'maggie and milly and molly and may'

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Pensive they sit, and roll their languid eyes,
Nibble their toast and cool their tea with sighs;
Or else forget the purpose of the night,
Forget their tea, forget their appetite.
See, with cross'd arms they sit -- Ah! hapless crew,
The fire is going out and no one rings
For coals, and therefore no coals Betty brings.
A fly is in the milk-pot. Must he die
Circled by a humane Society?
No, no; there, Mr. Werter takes his spoon,

Inverts it, dips the handle, and lo! soon

The little struggler, sav'd from perils dark,

Across the teaboard draws a long wet mark.

    Romeo! Arise! take snuffers by the handle,

There's a large cauliflower in each candle.

A winding sheet -- ah, me! I must away

To No. 7, just beyond the Circus gay.

'Alas, my friend, your coat sits very well;

Where may your Tailor live?' 'I may not tell.

O pardon me -- I'm absent: now and then.

Where might my tailor live? I say again

I cannot tell, let me no more be teas'd;

He lives in Wapping, might live where he pleas'd.'

John KEATS (yes, seriously... it's in the "Trivia" section at the end of my edition of his Complete Works...)
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Breakfast By Mary Lamb


A dinner party, coffee, tea,

Sandwich, or supper, all may be

In their way pleasant. But to me

Not one of these deserves the praise

That welcomer of new-born days,

A breakfast, merits; ever giving

Cheerful notice we are living

Another day refreshed by sleep,

When its festival we keep.

Now although I would not slight

Those kindly words we use ‘Good night’,

Yet parting words are words of sorrow,

And may not vie with sweet ‘Good Morrow’,

With which again our friends we greet,

When in the breakfast-room we meet,

At the social table round,

Listening to the lively sound

Of those notes which never tire,

Of urn, or kettle on the fire.

Sleepy Robert never hears

Or urn, or kettle; he appears

When all have finished, one by one

Dropping off, and breakfast done.

Yet has he too his own pleasure,

His breakfast hour’s his hour of leisure;

And, left alone, he reads or muses,

Or else in idle mood he uses

To sit and watch the venturous fly,

Where the sugar’s piled high,

Clambering o’er the lumps so white,

Rocky cliffs of sweet delight.


Breakfast - Mary Lamb

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There is a willow grows aslant a brook,
That shows his hoar leaves in the glassy stream.
There with fantastic garlands did she come
Of crowflowers, nettles, daisies, and long purples,
That liberal shepherds give a grosser name,
But our cold maids do dead men's fingers call them.
There on the pendant boughs her coronet weeds
Clamb'ring to hang, an envious sliver broke,
When down her weedy trophies and herself
Fell in the weeping brook. Her clothes spread wide
And, mermaid-like, awhile they bore her up;
Which time she chaunted snatches of old tunes,
As one incapable of her own distress,
Or like a creature native and indued
Unto that element; but long it could not be
Till that her garments, heavy with their drink,
Pull'd the poor wretch from her melodious lay
To muddy death.


Shakespeare - Hamlet IV/vii

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And would it have been worth it, after all,
Would it have been worth while,
After the sunsets and the dooryards and the sprinkled streets,
After the novels, after the teacups, after the skirts that trail along the floor—
And this, and so much more?—
It is impossible to say just what I mean!
But as if a magic lantern threw the nerves in patterns on a screen:
Would it have been worth while
If one, settling a pillow or throwing off a shawl,
And turning toward the window, should say:
               “That is not it at all,
               That is not what I meant, at all.”
No! I am not Prince Hamlet, nor was meant to be;
Am an attendant lord, one that will do
To swell a progress, start a scene or two,
Advise the prince; no doubt, an easy tool,
Deferential, glad to be of use,
Politic, cautious, and meticulous;
Full of high sentence, but a bit obtuse;
At times, indeed, almost ridiculous—
Almost, at times, the Fool.
I grow old ... I grow old ...
I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled.
Shall I part my hair behind?   Do I dare to eat a peach?
I shall wear white flannel trousers, and walk upon the beach.
I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each.
I do not think that they will sing to me.
I have seen them riding seaward on the waves
Combing the white hair of the waves blown back
When the wind blows the water white and black.
We have lingered in the chambers of the sea
By sea-girls wreathed with seaweed red and brown
Till human voices wake us, and we drown.
T.S. Eliot - from 'The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock'
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'Tis sweet and commendable in your nature, Hamlet,
To give these mourning duties to your father;
But you must know, your father lost a father;
That father lost, lost his, and the survivor bound
In filial obligation for some term
To do obsequious sorrow. But to persever
In obstinate condolement is a course
Of impious stubbornness. 'Tis unmanly grief;
It shows a will most incorrect to heaven,
A heart unfortified, a mind impatient,
An understanding simple and unschool'd;
For what we know must be, and is as common
As any the most vulgar thing to sense,
Why should we in our peevish opposition
Take it to heart? Fie! 'tis a fault to heaven,
A fault against the dead, a fault to nature,
To reason most absurd, whose common theme
Is death of fathers, and who still hath cried,
From the first corse till he that died to-day,
'This must be so.' We pray you throw to earth
This unprevailing woe, and think of us
As of a father; for let the world take note
You are the most immediate to our throne,
And with no less nobility of love
Than that which dearest father bears his son
Do I impart toward you. For your intent
In going back to school in Wittenberg,
It is most retrograde to our desire;
And we beseech you, bend you to remain
Here in the cheer and comfort of our eye,
Our chiefest courtier, cousin, and our son.


Shakespeare - Hamlet I/ii

Edited by jfp
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Not a drum was heard, not a funeral note,
    As his corse to the rampart we hurried;
Not a soldier discharged his farewell shot
    O'er the grave where our hero was buried.


We buried him darkly at dead of night,
    The sods with our bayonets turning,
By the struggling moonbeam's misty light
    And the lantern dimly burning.


No useless coffin enclosed his breast,
    Not in sheet or in shroud we wound him;
But he lay like a warrior taking his rest
    With his martial cloak around him.


Few and short were the prayers we said,
    And we spoke not a word of sorrow;
But we steadfastly gazed on the face that was dead,
    And we bitterly thought of the morrow.


We thought, as we hollowed his narrow bed
    And smoothed down his lonely pillow,
That the foe and the stranger would tread o'er his head,
    And we far away on the billow!


Lightly they'll talk of the spirit that's gone,
    And o'er his cold ashes upbraid him —
But little he'll reck, if they let him sleep on
    In the grave where a Briton has laid him.


But half of our heavy task was done
    When the clock struck the hour for retiring;
And we heard the distant and random gun
    That the foe was sullenly firing.


Slowly and sadly we laid him down,
    From the field of his fame fresh and gory;
We carved not a line, and we raised not a stone,
    But we left him alone with his glory.


Charles Wolfe - 'The Burial of Sir John Moore after Corunna'


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Alas, what danger will it be to us,
Maids as we are, to travel forth so far!
Beauty provoketh thieves sooner than gold.


I'll put myself in poor and mean attire,
And with a kind of umber smirch my face;
The like do you; so shall we pass along,
And never stir assailants.


Were it not better,
Because that I am more than common tall,
That I did suit me all points like a man?
A gallant curtle-axe upon my thigh,
A boar spear in my hand; and - in my heart
Lie there what hidden woman's fear there will -
We'll have a swashing and a martial outside,
As many other mannish cowards have
That do outface it with their semblances.


Shakespeare - As You Like It - I/iii

Edited by jfp
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Alas! what boots it with incessant care
To tend the homely, slighted shepherd's trade,
And strictly meditate the thankless Muse?
Were it not better done, as others use,
To sport with Amaryllis in the shade,
Or with the tangles of Neæra's hair?
Fame is the spur that the clear spirit doth raise
(That last infirmity of noble mind)
To scorn delights and live laborious days;
But the fair guerdon when we hope to find,
And think to burst out into sudden blaze,
Comes the blind Fury with th'abhorred shears,
And slits the thin-spun life. "But not the praise,"
Phoebus replied, and touch'd my trembling ears;
"Fame is no plant that grows on mortal soil,
Nor in the glistering foil
Set off to th'world, nor in broad rumour lies,
But lives and spreads aloft by those pure eyes
And perfect witness of all-judging Jove;
As he pronounces lastly on each deed,
Of so much fame in Heav'n expect thy meed."
John Milton - from 'Lycidas'
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WE' RE foot—slog—slog—slog—sloggin' over Africa 
Foot—foot—foot—foot—sloggin' over Africa
(Boots—boots—boots—boots—movin' up and down again!) 
There's no discharge in the war ! 

Seven—six—eleven—five—nine—an'—twenty mile to—day—
Four—eleven—seventeen—thirty—two the day before  
(Boots—boots—boots—boots—movin' up and down again !) 
There's no discharge in the war ! 

Don't—don't—don't—don't—look at what's in front of you.
(Boots—boots—boots—boots—movin' up an' down again);
Men—men—men—men—men go mad with watchin' 'em, 
An' there's no discharge in the war ! 

Count—count—count—count—the bullets in the bandoliers. 
If—your—eyes—drop—they will get atop o' you ! 
(Boots—boots—boots—boots—movin' up and down again) 
There's no discharge in the war ! 

Try—try—try—try—to think o' something different— 
Oh—my—God—keep—me from goin' lunatic ! 
(Boots—boots—boots—boots—movin' up an' down again !) 
There's no discharge in the war ! 

We—can—stick—out—'unger, thirst, an' weariness,
But—not—not—not—not the chronic sight of 'em— 
Boots—boots—boots—boots—movin' up an' down again, 
An' there's no discharge in the war ! 

'Tain`t—so—bad—by—day because o' company,
But night—brings—long—strings—o' forty thousand million 
Boots—boots—boots—boots—movin' up an' down again 
There's no discharge in the war ! 

I—'ave—marched—six—weeks in 'Ell an' certify
It—is—not—fire—devils, dark, or anything,
But boots—boots—boots—boots—movin'up an' down again, 
An' there's no discharge in the war ! 


Boots - Rudyard Kipling



Heather & jfp -you might like to take a look at tagesmann's thread on a BGO Rescue

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I keep six honest serving-men
  (They taught me all I knew);
Their names are What and Why and When
  And How and Where and Who.
I send them over land and sea,
  I send them east and west;
But after they have worked for me,
  I give them all a rest.

I let them rest from nine till five,
  For I am busy then,
As well as breakfast, lunch, and tea,
  For they are hungry men.
But different folk have different views;
  I know a person small
She keeps ten million serving-men,
  Who get no rest at all!
She sends em abroad on her own affairs,
  From the second she opens her eyes
One million Hows, Two million Wheres,
  And seven million Whys!


Rudyard Kipling - 'I Keep Six Honest Serving-Men'

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Well, you can't have too muchKipling (IMHO), so here is just one verse from my favourite (I'll save the rest for later )


Our England is a garden, and such gardens are not made
By singing:-" Oh, how beautiful," and sitting in the shade
While better men than we go out and start their working lives
At grubbing weeds from gravel-paths with broken dinner-knives.


The Glory of The Garden  - Rudyard Kipling

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Everyone suddenly burst out singing;
And I was filled with such delight
As prisoned birds must find in freedom,
Winging wildly across the white
Orchards and dark-green fields; on - on - and out of sight.
Everyone's voice was suddenly lifted;
And beauty came like the setting sun:
My heart was shaken with tears; and horror
Drifted away ... O, but Everyone
Was a bird; and the song was wordless; the singing will never be done.
Siegfried Sassoon - 'Everyone Sang'
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