Jump to content

Poetic Wanderings


Recommended Posts


Half-past three,
The lamp sputtered,
The lamp muttered in the dark.
The lamp hummed:
"Regard the moon,
La lune ne garde aucune rancune,
She winks a feeble eye,
She smiles into corners.
She smoothes the hair of the grass.
The moon has lost her memory.
A washed-out smallpox cracks her face,
Her hand twists a paper rose,
That smells of dust and old Cologne,
She is alone
With all the old nocturnal smells
That cross and cross across her brain."
The reminiscence comes
Of sunless dry geraniums
And dust in crevices,
Smells of chestnuts in the streets,
And female smells in shuttered rooms,
And cigarettes in corridors
And cocktail smells in bars.
The lamp said,
"Four o'clock,
Here is the number on the door.
You have the key,
The little lamp spreads a ring on the stair,
The bed is open; the tooth-brush hangs on the wall,
Put your shoes at the door, sleep, prepare for life."
The last twist of the knife.

From : T.S.Eliot, "Rhapsody on a Windy Night"

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Replies 3.7k
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

Midnight, not a sound from the pavement
Has the moon lost her memory?
She is smiling alone
In the lamplight, the withered leaves collect at my feet
And the wind begins to moan
Memory, all alone in the moonlight
I can dream of the old days
Life was beautiful then
I remember the time I knew what happiness was
Let the memory live again
Every street lamp seems to beat
A fatalistic warning
Someone mutters and the street lamp sputters
And soon it will be morning
Daylight, I must wait for the sunrise
I must think of a new life
And I mustn't give in
When the dawn comes, tonight will be a memory too
And a new day will begin
Burnt out ends of smoky days
The stale, cold smell of morning
A street lamp dies, another night is over
Another day is dawning
Touch me, it's so easy to leave me
All alone with the memory
Of my days in the sun
If you touch me, you'll understand what happiness is
Look, a new day has begun
Trevor Nunn - 'Memory'
I know this is really a song lyric, but it works as a poem. I wanted to point out that Nunn clearly based the second line on the line 'The moon has lost her memory', above.  I never noticed that before. Maybe the whole song is based on this passage, and a description of a woman earlier in the same poem.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Their faces shone under some radiance

Of mingled moonlight and lamplight

That turned the empty kisses into meaning,

The island of such penny love

Into a costly country, the graves

That neighboured them to wells of warmth,

(And skeletons had sap). One minute

Their faces shone; the midnight rain

Hung pointed in the wind,

Before the moon shifted and the sap ran out,

She, in her cheap frock, saying some cheap thing,

And he replying,

Not knowing radicance came and passed.

The suicides parade again, now ripe for dying.


Dylan Thomas

Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 28/10/2021 at 17:53, Heather said:
wanted to point out that Nunn clearly based the second line on the line 'The moon has lost her memory', above.  I never noticed that before. Maybe the whole song is based on this passage, 

And this: 

The lamp sputtered,
The lamp muttered in the dark.
the origin/inspiration of  this?
Someone mutters and the street lamp sputters 
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Lie in the dark and listen,

It’s clear tonight so they are flying high

Hundreds of them, thousand perhaps,

Riding the icy moonlight sky.

Men, materials, bombs and maps

Altimeters and guns and charts

Coffee, sandwiches, fleece-lined boots

Bone and muscles, and minds and hearts

English saplings with English roots

Deep in the earth they’ve left below

Lie in the dark and let them go

Lie in the dark and listen.

Lie in the dark and listen


first stanza of Lie in the Dark and Listen - Noel Coward


Link to comment
Share on other sites

We cleared our camp where the buffalo feed,
Unheard-of streams were our flagons;
And I sowed my sons like the apple-seed
On the trail of the Western wagons.
They were right, tight boys, never sulky or slow,
A fruitful, a goodly muster.
The eldest died at the Alamo.
The youngest fell with Custer.
The letter that told it burned my hand.
Yet we smiled and said, "So be it!"
But I could not live when they fenced the land,
For it broke my heart to see it.
I saddled a red, unbroken colt
And rode him into the day there;
And he threw me down like a thunderbolt
And rolled on my as I lay there.
The hunter's whistle hummed in my ear
As the city-men tried to move me,
And I died in my boots like a pioneer
With the whole wide sky above me.
Now I lie in the heart of the fat, black soil,
Like the seed of the prairie-thistle;
It has washed my bones with honey and oil
And picked them clean as a whistle.
And my youth returns, like the rains of Spring,
And my sons, like the wild-geese flying;
And I lie and hear the meadow-lark sing
And have much content in my dying.
Go play with the towns you have built of blocks,
The towns where you would have bound me!
I sleep in my earth like a tired fox,
And my buffalo have found me.
Stephen Vincent Benét - from 'The Ballad of William Sycamore'
Link to comment
Share on other sites


How oft when men are at the point of death
Have they been merry! which their keepers call
A lightning before death: O, how may I
Call this a lightning? O my love! my wife!
Death, that hath suck'd the honey of thy breath,
Hath had no power yet upon thy beauty:
Thou art not conquer'd; beauty's ensign yet
Is crimson in thy lips and in thy cheeks,
And death's pale flag is not advanced there.
Tybalt, liest thou there in thy bloody sheet?
O, what more favour can I do to thee,
Than with that hand that cut thy youth in twain
To sunder his that was thine enemy?
Forgive me, cousin! Ah, dear Juliet,
Why art thou yet so fair? Shall I believe
That unsubstantial death is amorous,
And that the lean abhorred monster keeps
Thee here in dark to be his paramour?
For fear of that, I still will stay with thee;
And never from this palace of dim night
Depart again: here, here will I remain
With worms that are thy chamber-maids; O, here
Will I set up my everlasting rest,
And shake the yoke of inauspicious stars
From this world-wearied flesh. Eyes, look your last!
Arms, take your last embrace! and, lips, O you
The doors of breath, seal with a righteous kiss
A dateless bargain to engrossing death!
Come, bitter conduct, come, unsavoury guide!
Thou desperate pilot, now at once run on
The dashing rocks thy sea-sick weary bark!
Here's to my love!


Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet V/iii

Link to comment
Share on other sites

21 hours ago, lunababymoonchild said:

Does anybody ever read prose poems?

What is a prose poem? The term makes me think of Wilhelmina Stitch, who wrote sentimental verse which rhymed and scanned, but published it written out as if it were prose. Can you give us an example?


O Earth, lie heavily upon her eyes;
    Seal her sweet eyes weary of watching, Earth;
    Lie close around her; leave no room for mirth
With its harsh laughter, nor for sound of sighs.
She hath no questions, she hath no replies,
    Hush'd in and curtain'd with a blessed dearth
    Of all that irk'd her from the hour of birth;
With stillness that is almost Paradise.
Darkness more clear than noonday holdeth her,
    Silence more musical than any song;
Even her very heart has ceased to stir:
Until the morning of Eternity
Her rest shall not begin nor end, but be;
    And when she wakes she will not think it long.


Christina Rossetti - 'Rest'

Link to comment
Share on other sites

3 minutes ago, Heather said:

What is a prose poem? The term makes me think of Wilhelmina Stitch, who wrote sentimental verse which rhymed and scanned, but published it written out as if it were prose. Can you give us an example?

The Free Dictionary defines it as:  prose′ po`em


a composition written as prose but having the concentrated, rhythmic, figurative language of poetry.


An example of


Paradise Lost: Book 05

by John Milton

Now Morn, her rosy steps in the eastern clime Advancing, sowed the earth with orient pearl, When Adam waked, so customed; for his sleep Was aery-light, from pure digestion bred, And temperate vapours bland, which the only sound Of leaves and fuming rills, Aurora's fan, Lightly dispersed, and the shrill matin song Of birds on every bough; so much the more His wonder was to find unwakened Eve With tresses discomposed, and glowing cheek, As through unquiet rest: He, on his side Leaning half raised, with looks of cordial love Hung over her enamoured, and beheld Beauty, which, whether waking or asleep, Shot forth peculiar graces; then with voice Mild, as when Zephyrus on Flora breathes, Her hand soft touching, whispered thus. Awake, My fairest, my espoused, my latest found, Heaven's last best gift, my ever new delight! Awake: The morning shines, and the fresh field Calls us; we lose the prime, to mark how spring Our tender plants, how blows the citron grove, What drops the myrrh, and what the balmy reed, How nature paints her colours, how the bee Sits on the bloom extracting liquid sweet.

Link to comment
Share on other sites


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  -  Algernon Charles Swinburne

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Betwixt mine eye and heart a league is took,
And each doth good turns now unto the other;
When that mine eye is famish'd for a look,
Or heart in love with sighs himself doth smother,
With my love's picture then my eye doth feast,
And to the painted banquet bids my heart;
Another time mine eye is my heart's guest,
And in his thoughts of love doth share a part.
So either by thy picture or my love,
Thyself away, art present still with me:
For thou not farther than my thoughts canst move,
And I am still with them, and they with thee;
    Or if they sleep, thy picture in my sight
    Awakes my heart to heart's and eye's delight.

Shakespeare, Sonnet 47

Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 05/11/2021 at 18:30, lunababymoonchild said:

The Free Dictionary defines it as:  prose′ po`em


a composition written as prose but having the concentrated, rhythmic, figurative language of poetry.


An example of


Paradise Lost: Book 05

by John Milton

Now Morn, her rosy steps in the eastern clime Advancing, sowed the earth with orient pearl, When Adam waked,


Paradise Lost is not a prose poem, it's a poem in blank verse. The original subtitle was A poem written in ten books. It scans, and it has always been printed in short lines. I have now looked up some examples myself (e.g. Bath by Amy Lowell). No, I have not previously read any.


Who says that fictions only and false hair
Become a verse? Is there in truth no beauty?
Is all good structure in a winding stair?
May no lines pass, except they do their duty
Not to a true, but painted chair?
Is it no verse, except enchanted groves
And sudden arbours shadow coarse-spun lines?
Must purling streams refresh a lover's loves?
Must all be veil'd, while he that reads, divines,
Catching the sense at two removes?
Shepherds are honest people; let them sing;
Riddle who list, for me, and pull for prime;
I envy no man's nightingale or spring;
Nor let them punish me with loss of rhyme,
Who plainly say, my God, my King.
George Herbert - 'Jordan (I)'
Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 07/11/2021 at 12:16, Heather said:


Paradise Lost is not a prose poem, it's a poem in blank verse.



I also was somewhat taken aback to see a chunk of Paradise Lost laid out as prose.


Poetry is traditionally identifiable because of a) its metre/rhythm, which in turns leads to lines of more or less equal length, and b) the use of a rhyme-scheme (with the rhyming words most often at the ends of lines).


A prose poem looks like prose in the way it is laid out on the page, but will still rely, more than prose, on poetic (i.e. creative) effects such as alliteration, assonance, and rhymes that are no longer at the ends of lines.


    Ye elves of hills, brooks, standing lakes and groves,
And ye that on the sands with printless foot
Do chase the ebbing Neptune and do fly him
When he comes back; you demi-puppets that
By moonshine do the green sour ringlets make,
Whereof the ewe not bites, and you whose pastime
Is to make midnight mushrooms, that rejoice
To hear the solemn curfew; by whose aid,
Weak masters though ye be, I have bedimm'd
The noontide sun, call'd forth the mutinous winds,
And 'twixt the green sea and the azured vault
Set roaring war: to the dread rattling thunder
Have I given fire and rifted Jove's stout oak
With his own bolt; the strong-based promontory
Have I made shake and by the spurs pluck'd up
The pine and cedar: graves at my command
Have waked their sleepers, oped, and let 'em forth
By my so potent art. But this rough magic
I here abjure, and, when I have required
Some heavenly music, which even now I do,
To work mine end upon their senses that
This airy charm is for, I'll break my staff,
Bury it certain fathoms in the earth,
And deeper than did ever plummet sound
I'll drown my book.
   Shakespeare, The Tempest V/i
Edited by jfp
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Darkling I listen; and, for many a time
         I have been half in love with easeful Death,
Call'd him soft names in many a mused rhyme,
         To take into the air my quiet breath;
                Now more than ever seems it rich to die,
         To cease upon the midnight with no pain,
                While thou art pouring forth thy soul abroad
                        In such an ecstasy!
         Still wouldst thou sing, and I have ears in vain—
                   To thy high requiem become a sod.
Thou wast not born for death, immortal Bird!
         No hungry generations tread thee down;
The voice I hear this passing night was heard
         In ancient days by emperor and clown:
Perhaps the self-same song that found a path
         Through the sad heart of Ruth, when, sick for home,
                She stood in tears amid the alien corn;
                        The same that oft-times hath
         Charm'd magic casements, opening on the foam
                Of perilous seas, in faery lands forlorn.
Forlorn! the very word is like a bell
         To toll me back from thee to my sole self!
Adieu! the fancy cannot cheat so well
         As she is fam'd to do, deceiving elf.
Adieu! adieu! thy plaintive anthem fades
         Past the near meadows, over the still stream,
                Up the hill-side; and now 'tis buried deep
                        In the next valley-glades:
         Was it a vision, or a waking dream?
                Fled is that music:—Do I wake or sleep?
John Keats - 'Ode to a Nightingale'
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I leant upon a coppice gate 

    When Frost was spectre-gray,

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.


The Darkling Thrush - Thomas Hardy

Link to comment
Share on other sites

A fat fly fuddles for an exit

at the window-pane.

Bluntly, stubbornly, in inspects it,

like a brain

nonplussed by a seemingly simple sentence

in a book,

which the glaze of unduly protracted acquaintance

has turned to gobbledygook.


A few inches above where the fly fizzes

a gap of air

waits, but this has

not yet been vouchsafed to the fly.

Only retreat and a loop or swoop of despair

will give it the sky.


Christopher Reid, "Fly"

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I hid my love when young till I
Couldn't bear the buzzing of a fly;
I hid my love to my despite
Till I could not bear to look at light:
I dare not gaze upon her face
But left her memory in each place;
Where'er I saw a wild flower lie
I kissed and bade my love good-bye.
I met her in the greenest dells,
Where dewdrops pearl the wood bluebells;
The lost breeze kissed her bright blue eye,
The bee kissed and went singing by,
A sunbeam found a passage there,
A gold chain round her neck so fair;
As secret as the wild bee's song
She lay there all the summer long.
I hid my love in field and town
Till e'en the breeze would knock me down;
The bees seemed singing ballads o'er,
The fly's bass turned a lion's roar;
And even silence found a tongue,
To haunt me all the summer long;
The riddle nature could not prove
Was nothing else but secret love.
John Clare - 'I Hid my Love'
Link to comment
Share on other sites

"Love seeketh not itself to please,
Nor for itself hath any care,
But for another gives its ease,
And builds a Heaven in Hell's despair."
So sung a little Clod of Clay
Trodden with the cattle's feet,
But a Pebble of the brook
Warbled out these metres meet:
"Love seeketh only self to please,
To bind another to its delight,
Joys in another's loss of ease,
And builds a Hell in Heaven's despite."
William Blake, "The Clod and the Pebble"
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Never weather-beaten sail more willing bent to shore.
Never tired pilgrim's limbs affected slumber more,
Than my wearied sprite now longs to fly out of my troubled breast:
O come quickly, sweetest Lord, and take my soul to rest.
Ever blooming are the joys of Heaven's high Paradise.
Cold age deafs not there our ears nor vapour dims our eyes:
Glory there the sun outshines whose beams the blessed only see:
O come quickly, glorious Lord, and raise my sprite to thee!
Thomas Campion - 'Never weather-beaten sail'
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Come To Sunny Prestatyn
Laughed the girl on the poster,
Kneeling up on the sand   
In tautened white satin.   
Behind her, a hunk of coast, a
Hotel with palms
Seemed to expand from her thighs and   
Spread breast-lifting arms.
She was slapped up one day in March.   
A couple of weeks, and her face
Was snaggle-toothed and boss-eyed;   
Huge tits and a fissured crotch
Were scored well in, and the space   
Between her legs held scrawls
That set her fairly astride
A tuberous cock and balls
Autographed Titch Thomas, while   
Someone had used a knife
Or something to stab right through   
The moustached lips of her smile.   
She was too good for this life.   
Very soon, a great transverse tear   
Left only a hand and some blue.   
Now Fight Cancer is there.
Philip Larkin, "Come To Sunny Prestatyn"
Edited by jfp
Link to comment
Share on other sites

How can I, that girl standing there,

My attention fix

On Roman or on Russian

Or on Spanish politics,

Yet here's a travelled man that knows

What he talks about,

And there's a politician

That has both read and thought,

And maybe what they say is true

Of war and war's alarms,

But O that I were young again

And held her in my arms.


W.B. Yeats - 'Politics'

Link to comment
Share on other sites

This was the noblest Roman of them all:
All the conspirators save only he
Did that they did in envy of great Caesar;
He only, in a general honest thought
And common good to all, made one of them.
His life was gentle, and the elements
So mix'd in him that Nature might stand up
And say to all the world 'This was a man!'


Shakespeare, Julius Caesar V/v

Link to comment
Share on other sites

A windy night was blowing on Rome,
The cressets guttered on Caesar's home,
The fish-boats, moored at the bridge, were breaking
The rush of the river to yellow foam.

The hinges whined to the shutters shaking,
When clip-clop-clep came a horse-hoof raking
The stones of the road at Caesar's gate;
The spear-butts jarred at the guard's awaking.

" Who goes there? " said the guard at the gate.
" What is the news, that you ride so late? "
" News most pressing, that must be spoken
To Caesar alone, and that cannot wait. "

" The Caesar sleeps; you must show a token
That the news suffice that he be awoken.
What is the news, and whence do you come?
For no light cause may his sleep be broken. "

" Out of the dark of the sands I come,
From the dark of death, with news for Rome.
A word so fell that it must be uttered
Though it strike the soul of the Caesar dumb. "

Caesar turned in his bed and muttered,
With a struggle for breath the lamp-flame guttered;
Calpurnia heard her husband moan:
" The house is falling,
The beaten men come into their own. "

" Speak your word, " said the guard at the gate;
" Yes, but bear it to Caesar straight,
Say, " Your murderer's knives are honing,
Your killer's gang is lying in wait."

" Out of the wind that is blowing and moaning,
Through the city palace and the country loaning,
I cry, " For the world's sake, Caesar, beware,
And take this warning as my atoning.

" Beware of the Court, of the palace stair,
Of the downcast friend who speaks so fair,
Keep from the Senate, for Death is going
On many men's feet to meet you there."

" I, who am dead, have ways of knowing
Of the crop of death that the quick are sowing.
I, who was Pompey, cry it aloud
From the dark of death, from the wind blowing.

" I, who was Pompey, once was proud,
Now I lie in the sand without a shroud;
I cry to Caesar out of my pain,
" Caesar, beware, your death is vowed."

The light grew grey on the window-pane,
The windcocks swung in a burst of rain,
The window of Caesar flung unshuttered,
The horse-hoofs died into wind again.

Caesar turned in his bed and muttered,
With a struggle for breath the lamp-flame guttered;
Calpurnia heard her husband moan:
" The house is falling,
The beaten men come into their own. "


John Masefield - 'The Rider at the Gate'

Link to comment
Share on other sites


I have lived long enough: my way of life

Is fallen into the sere, the yellow leaf,

And that which should accompany old age,

As honor, love, obedience, troops of friends,

I must not look to have; but, in their stead,

Curses, not loud but deep, mouth-honor, breath,

Which the poor heart would fain deny, and dare not.


From Macbeth Act 5 Scene 3 - William Shakespeare

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


  • Create New...