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Poetic Wanderings


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All right, it's a song, but it's a poetic song... I've added some punctuation.

Merry Christmas to all: eight days to go...!
They said there'll be snow at Christmas,
They said there'll be peace on earth;
But instead it just kept on raining,
A veil of tears for the virgin birth;
I remember one Christmas morning,
A winter's light and a distant choir,
And the peal of a bell, and that Christmas tree smell,
And eyes full of tinsel and fire
They sold me a dream of Christmas,
They sold me a silent night,
And they told me a fairy story,
'Till I believed in the Israelite.
And I believed in Father Christmas,
And I looked to the sky with excited eyes,
Till I woke with a yawn in the first light of dawn,
And I saw him and through his disguise
I wish you a hopeful Christmas,
I wish you a brave New Year;
All anguish, pain and sadness
Leave your heart, and let your road be clear.
They said there'll be snow at Christmas,
They said there'll be peace on earth;
Hallelujah, Noel, be it heaven or hell,
The Christmas we get we deserve
Peter Sinfield & Greg Lake; set to music by Greg Lake


Edited by jfp
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All my undone actions wander

naked across the calendar,


a band of skinny hunter-gatherers,

blown snow scattered here and there,


stumbling toward a future

folded in the New Year I secure


with a pushpin: January’s picture

a painting from the 17th century,


a still life: Skull and mirror,

spilled coin purse and a flower.


December 31st - Richard Hoffman

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Ring out, wild bells, to the wild sky,
   The flying cloud, the frosty light:
   The year is dying in the night;
Ring out, wild bells, and let him die.


Ring out the old, ring in the new,
   Ring, happy bells, across the snow:
   The year is going, let him go;
Ring out the false, ring in the true.


Ring out the grief that saps the mind
   For those that here we see no more;
   Ring out the feud of rich and poor,
Ring in redress to all mankind.


Ring out a slowly dying cause,
   And ancient forms of party strife;
   Ring in the nobler modes of life,
With sweeter manners, purer laws.


Ring out the want, the care, the sin,
   The faithless coldness of the times;
   Ring out, ring out my mournful rhymes
But ring the fuller minstrel in.


Ring out false pride in place and blood,
   The civic slander and the spite;
   Ring in the love of truth and right,
Ring in the common love of good.


Ring out old shapes of foul disease;
   Ring out the narrowing lust of gold;
   Ring out the thousand wars of old,
Ring in the thousand years of peace.


Ring in the valiant man and free,
   The larger heart, the kindlier hand;
   Ring out the darkness of the land,
Ring in the Christ that is to be.


Alfred, Lord Tennyson - 'Ring Out, Wild Bells'

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Here we bring new water from the well so clear,

For to worship God with, this happy New Year.

Sing levy-dew, sing levy-dew, the water and the wine,

The seven bright gold wires and the bugles that do shine.


Sing reign of Fair Maid, with gold upon her toe;

Open you the West Door and turn the Old Year go.

Sing levy-dew, sing levy-dew, the water and the wine,

The seven bright gold wires and the bugles that do shine.


Sing reign of Fair Maid, with gold upon her chin;

Open you the East Door and let the New Year in.

Sing levy-dew, sing levy-dew, the water and the wine,

The seven bright gold wires and the bugles that do shine.


Levy-Dew - Welsh traditional, this version by Walter de la Mare

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What can be said in New Year rhymes,
That's not been said a thousand times?

The new years come, the old years go,
We know we dream, we dream we know.

We rise up laughing with the light,
We lie down weeping with the night.

We hug the world until it stings,
We curse it then and sigh for wings.

We live, we love, we woo, we wed,
We wreathe our brides, we sheet our dead.

We laugh, we weep, we hope, we fear,
And that's the burden of the year.


The Year Ella Wheeler Wilcox - 1850-1919

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Bachelor of the Inns of Court,

Evade the rules that you are taught,

Nibelung's laws that stifle thought.


New Year chimes the Bellman rings,

Icicles at the heart of things,

Christmas brings us tinselled cheer,

Hope (and forks) for another year.

Only a few will find a friend,

Looking for love at the rainbow's end;

Laugh, little dog, to see such fun,

Smile, Bachelor, for the year is done.


Charlotte Farmer - 'New Year Thoughts for a Friend'

Edited by Heather
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The food I simply love the most

Is toast, it’s toast, it’s toast, it’s toast!


I love it with butter, I love it with jam,

I love it with cheese, I love it with ham!


I’d eat it for breakfast, for lunch and for tea,

You don’t need to pay me: I’ll eat it for free!


I’d eat it with fingers, or with knife and fork,

I’d eat it in Gloucester, Oxford, and York.


I’d eat it in April, I’d eat it in June.

Give me a rocket and I’ll eat on the moon!


White bread or brown, nutty or plain,

I’d eat it all, again and again!


Toast sitting down, or out on the move,

There’s no toastly type which I can’t approve.


Toast with some friends, or solo as a snack,

Give me a plate and I’ll attack, attack, ATTACK!


Toast in the sun or toast in the rain

(It’s been said before I’ve got toast on the brain)


Toast with chocolate spread as a weekend treat.

A day without toast is just incomplete.


I love toast, I love toast, do I need to repeat?


The food I simply adore the most

Is toast, it’s toast, it’s toast, it’s toast!


I nibble, I chomp, I gulp and I chew.

For a steaming plate, what wouldn’t I do!


So if I come to your house and you offer me food,

You know exactly what I’ll say.

“I’ve given it some thought and, just for a change,

I think I’ll try toast today!”


A Toast To Toast - Alistair Lane

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She wore a 'terra-cotta' dress,
And we stayed, because of the pelting storm,
Within the hansom's dry recess,
Though the horse had stopped; yea, motionless
We sat on, snug and warm.

Then the downpour ceased, to my sharp sad pain,
And the glass that had screened our forms before
Flew up, and out she sprang to her door:
I should have kissed her if the rain
Had lasted a minute more.


Thomas Hardy - 'A Thunderstorm in Town'

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"Whenever I plunge my arm, like this,
In a basin of water, I never miss
The sweet sharp sense of a fugitive day
Fetched back from the thickening shroud of grey.
    Hence the only prime
    And real love-rhyme
    That I know by heart
    And that leaves no smart,
Is the purl of a little valley fall
About three spans wide and two spans tall
Over a table of solid rock
And into a scoop of the self-same block;
The purl of a runlet that never ceases
In stir of kingdoms, in wars, in peaces;
With a hollow, boiling voice it speaks
And has spoken since hills were turfless peaks."

"And why gives this the only prime
Idea to you of a real love-rhyme?
And why does plunging your arm in a bowl
Full of spring water, bring throbs to your soul?"
"Well, under the fall, in a crease of the stone,
Though where precisely none ever has known,
Jammed darkly, nothing to show how prized,
And by now with its smoothness opalised,
    Is a drinking-glass:
    For, down that pass,
    My love and I
    Walked under a sky
Of blue with a leaf-wove awning of green,
In the burn of August, to paint the scene,
And we placed our basket of fruit and wine
By the runlet's rim, where we sat to dine;
And when we had drunk from the glass together,
Arched by the oak-copse from the weather,
I held the vessel to rinse in the fall,
Where it slipped, and sank, and was past recall,
Though we stooped and plumbed the little abyss
With long bared arms. There the glass still is.
And, as said, if I thrust my arm below
Cold water in basin or bowl, a throe
From the past awakens a sense of that time,
And the glass we used, and the cascade's rhyme.
The basin seems the pool, and its edge
The hard smooth face of the brook-side ledge,
And the leafy pattern of china-ware
The hanging plants that were bathing there.

"By night, by day, when it shines or lours,
There lies intact that chalice of ours,
And its presence adds to the rhyme of love
Persistently sung by the fall above.
No lip has touched it since his and mine
In turn therefrom sipped lovers' wine."


Thomas Hardy - "Under The Waterfall"

Edited by jfp
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As I walked out one evening,
   Walking down Bristol Street,
The crowds upon the pavement
   Were fields of harvest wheat.


And down by the brimming river
   I heard a lover sing
Under an arch of the railway:
   'Love has no ending.


'I'll love you, dear, I'll love you
   Till China and Africa meet,
And the river jumps over the mountain
   And the salmon sing in the street,


'I'll love you till the ocean
   Is folded and hung up to dry
And the seven stars go squawking
   Like geese about the sky.


'The years shall run like rabbits,
   For in my arms I hold
The Flower of the Ages,
   And the first love of the world.'


But all the clocks in the city
   Began to whirr and chime:
'O let not Time deceive you,
   You cannot conquer Time.


'In the burrows of the Nightmare
   Where Justice naked is,
Time watches from the shadow
   And coughs when you would kiss.


'In headaches and in worry
   Vaguely life leaks away,
And Time will have his fancy
   To-morrow or to-day.


'Into many a green valley
   Drifts the appalling snow;
Time breaks the threaded dances
   And the diver's brilliant bow.


'O plunge your hands in water,
   Plunge them in up to the wrist;
Stare, stare in the basin
   And wonder what you've missed.


'The glacier knocks in the cupboard,
   The desert sighs in the bed,
And the crack in the tea-cup opens
   A lane to the land of the dead.


'Where the beggars raffle the banknotes
   And the Giant is enchanting to Jack,
And the Lily-white Boy is a Roarer,
   And Jill goes down on her back.


'O look, look in the mirror,
   O look in your distress:
Life remains a blessing
   Although you cannot bless.


'O stand, stand at the window
   As the tears scald and start;
You shall love your crooked neighbour
   With your crooked heart.'


It was late, late in the evening,
   The lovers they were gone;
The clocks had ceased their chiming,
   And the deep river ran on.


W.H. Auden - 'As I walked out one evening


Edited by lunababymoonchild
Remove spoiler as requested by Heather
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Saw you never in the twilight,

When the sun had left the skies,

Up in heaven the clear stars shining,

Through the gloom like silver eyes?

So of old the wise men watching,

Saw a little stranger star,

And they knew the King was given,

And they follow'd it from far.


Heard you never of the story,

How they cross'd the desert wild,

Journey'd on by plain and mountain,

Till they found the Holy Child?

How they open'd all their treasure,

Kneeling to that Infant King,

Gave the gold and fragrant incense,

Gave the myrrh in offering?


Know ye not that lowly Baby

Was the bright and morning star,

He who came to light the Gentiles,

And the darken'd isles afar?

And we too may seek His cradle,

There our heart's best treasures bring,

Love, and Faith, and true devotion,

For our Saviour, God, and King.


The Adoration Of The Wise Men - Cecil Frances Alexander


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“A cold coming we had of it,
Just the worst time of the year
For a journey, and such a long journey:
The ways deep and the weather sharp,
The very dead of winter.”
And the camels galled, sore-footed, refractory,
Lying down in the melting snow.
There were times we regretted
The summer palaces on slopes, the terraces,
And the silken girls bringing sherbet.
Then the camel men cursing and grumbling
And running away, and wanting their liquor and women,
And the night-fires going out, and the lack of shelters,
And the cities hostile and the towns unfriendly
And the villages dirty and charging high prices:
A hard time we had of it.
At the end we preferred to travel all night,
Sleeping in snatches,
With the voices singing in our ears, saying
That this was all folly.

Then at dawn we came down to a temperate valley,
Wet, below the snow line, smelling of vegetation;
With a running stream and a water-mill beating the darkness,
And three trees on the low sky,
And an old white horse galloped away in the meadow.
Then we came to a tavern with vine-leaves over the lintel,
Six hands at an open door dicing for pieces of silver,
And feet kicking the empty wine-skins.
But there was no information, and so we continued
And arriving at evening, not a moment too soon
Finding the place; it was (you may say) satisfactory.

All this was a long time ago, I remember,
And I would do it again, but set down
This set down
This: were we led all that way for
Birth or Death? There was a birth, certainly,
We had evidence and no doubt. I had seen birth and death,
But had thought they were different; this Birth was
Hard and bitter agony for us, like Death, our death.
We returned to our places, these Kingdoms,
But no longer at ease here, in the old dispensation,
With an alien people clutching their gods.
I should be glad of another death.


T.S.Eliot, "The Journey of the Magi"

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Snow falling and night falling fast, oh, fast
In a field I looked into going past,
And the ground almost covered smooth in snow,
But a few weeds and stubble showing last.

The woods around it have it - it is theirs.
All animals are smothered in their lairs.
I am too absent-spirited to count;
The loneliness includes me unawares.

And lonely as it is, that loneliness
Will be more lonely ere it will be less -
A blanker whiteness of benighted snow
WIth no expression, nothing to express.

They cannot scare me with their empty spaces
Between stars - on stars where no human race is.
I have it in me so much nearer home
To scare myself with my own desert places.


Robert Frost Desert Places

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"It's queer," she said; "I see the light

As plain as I beheld it then,

All silver-like and calm and bright-

We've not had stars like that again!


"And she was such a gentle thing

To birth a baby in the cold.

The barn was dark and frightening-

This new one's better than the old.


"I mind my eyes were full of tears,

For I was young, and quick distressed,

But she was less than me in years

That held a son against her breast.


"I never saw a sweeter child-

The little one, the darling one!-

I mind I told her, when he smiled

You'd know he was his mother's son.


"It's queer that I should see them so-

The time they came to Bethlehem

Was more than thirty years ago;

I've prayed that all is well with them."


The Maid-servant At The Inn - Dorothy Parker

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The fire is ash: the early morning sun
Outlines the patterns on the curtains, drawn
The night before. The milk's been on the step,
The Guardian in the letter-box, since dawn.


Upstairs, the beds have not been touched, and thence
Builders' estates and the main road are seen,
With labourers, petrol-pumps, a Green Line bus,
And plots of cabbages set in between.


But the living-room is ruby: there upon
Cushions from Harrods, strewn in tumbled heaps
Around the floor, smelling of smoke and wine,
Rosemary sits. Her hands are clasped. She weeps.


She stares about her: round the decent walls
(The ribbon lost, her pale gold hair falls down)
Sees books and photos: 'Dance'; 'The Rhythmic Life';
Miss Rachel Wilson in a cap and gown.


Stretched out before her, Rachel curls and curves,
Eyelids and lips apart, her glances filled
With satisfied ferocity; she smiles,
As beasts smile on the prey they have just killed.


The marble clock has stopped. The curtained sun
Burns on: the room grows hot. There, it appears,
A vase of flowers has spilt, and soaked away.
The only sound heard is the sound of tears.


Philip Larkin - "Femmes Damnées"

Edited by jfp
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It seemed that out of battle I escaped
Down some profound dull tunnel, long since scooped
Through granites which titanic wars had groined.
Yet also there encumbered sleepers groaned,
Too fast in thought or death to be bestirred.
Then, as I probed them, one sprang up, and stared
With piteous recognition in fixed eyes,
Lifting distressful hands, as if to bless.
And by his smile, I knew that sullen hall,— 
By his dead smile I knew we stood in Hell.
With a thousand fears that vision's face was grained;
Yet no blood reached there from the upper ground,
And no guns thumped, or down the flues made moan.
“Strange friend,” I said, “here is no cause to mourn.” 
“None,” said that other, “save the undone years,
The hopelessness. Whatever hope is yours,
Was my life also; I went hunting wild
After the wildest beauty in the world,
Which lies not calm in eyes, or braided hair,
But mocks the steady running of the hour,
And if it grieves, grieves richlier than here.
For by my glee might many men have laughed,
And of my weeping something had been left,
Which must die now. I mean the truth untold,
The pity of war, the pity war distilled.
Now men will go content with what we spoiled.
Or, discontent, boil bloody, and be spilled.
They will be swift with swiftness of the tigress. 
None will break ranks, though nations trek from progress.
Courage was mine, and I had mystery;
Wisdom was mine, and I had mastery: 
To miss the march of this retreating world
Into vain citadels that are not walled.
Then, when much blood had clogged their chariot-wheels, 
I would go up and wash them from sweet wells,
Even with truths that lie too deep for taint.
I would have poured my spirit without stint
But not through wounds; not on the cess of war.
Foreheads of men have bled where no wounds were.
“I am the enemy you killed, my friend.
I knew you in this dark: for so you frowned
Yesterday through me as you jabbed and killed.
I parried; but my hands were loath and cold.
Let us sleep now. . . .”
Wilfred Owen - 'Strange Meeting'
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Hadst thou groan'd for him
As I have done, thou wouldst be more pitiful.
But now I know thy mind; thou dost suspect
That I have been disloyal to thy bed,
And that he is a bastard, not thy son:
Sweet York, sweet husband, be not of that mind:
He is as like thee as a man may be,
Not like to me, or any of my kin,
And yet I love him.


Shakespeare - Richard II - V/ii

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My story being done,

She gave me for my pains a world of sighs:
She swore, in faith, 'twas strange, 'twas passing strange,
'Twas pitiful, 'twas wondrous pitiful:
She wish'd she had not heard it, yet she wish'd
That heaven had made her such a man: she thank'd me,

And bade me, if I had a friend that loved her,
I should but teach him how to tell my story.
And that would woo her. Upon this hint I spake:

She loved me for the dangers I had pass'd,
And I loved her that she did pity them.
This only is the witchcraft I have used:
Here comes the lady; let her witness it.


Shakespeare - Othello - I/iii

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Betwixt mine eye and heart a league is took,
And each doth good turns now unto the other;
When that mine eye is famished 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 no further 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

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When men were all asleep the snow came flying,

In large white flakes falling on the city brown,

Stealthily and perpetually settling and loosely lying,

      Hushing the latest traffic of the drowsy town;

Deadening, muffling, stifling its murmurs failing;

Lazily and incessantly floating down and down:

      Silently sifting and veiling road, roof and railing;

Hiding difference, making unevenness even,

Into angles and crevices softly drifting and sailing.

      All night it fell, and when full inches seven

It lay in the depth of its uncompacted lightness,

The clouds blew off from a high and frosty heaven;

      And all woke earlier for the unaccustomed brightness

Of the winter dawning, the strange unheavenly glare:

The eye marvelled—marvelled at the dazzling whiteness;

      The ear hearkened to the stillness of the solemn air;

No sound of wheel rumbling nor of foot falling,

And the busy morning cries came thin and spare.

      Then boys I heard, as they went to school, calling,

They gathered up the crystal manna to freeze

Their tongues with tasting, their hands with snowballing;

      Or rioted in a drift, plunging up to the knees;

Or peering up from under the white-mossed wonder,

‘O look at the trees!’ they cried, ‘O look at the trees!’

      With lessened load a few carts creak and blunder,

Following along the white deserted way,

A country company long dispersed asunder:

      When now already the sun, in pale display

Standing by Paul’s high dome, spread forth below

His sparkling beams, and awoke the stir of the day.

      For now doors open, and war is waged with the snow;

And trains of sombre men, past tale of number,

Tread long brown paths, as toward their toil they go:

      But even for them awhile no cares encumber

Their minds diverted; the daily word is unspoken,

The daily thoughts of labour and sorrow slumber

At the sight of the beauty that greets them, for the charm they have broken.


London Snow - Robert Bridges

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The curfew tolls the knell of parting day,
         The lowing herd wind slowly o'er the lea,
The plowman homeward plods his weary way,
         And leaves the world to darkness and to me.
Now fades the glimm'ring landscape on the sight,
         And all the air a solemn stillness holds,                                
Save where the beetle wheels his droning flight,
         And drowsy tinklings lull the distant folds;
Save that from yonder ivy-mantled tow'r
         The moping owl does to the moon complain
Of such, as wand'ring near her secret bow'r,
         Molest her ancient solitary reign.
Thomas GRAY - "Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard" (first three stanzas)
   [And stillness... but I don't want to appear over-zealous... when I read Meg's poem I instantly thought of the complete sixth line... solemn is a favourite word of mine. I don't know why...]
Edited by jfp
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When winter winds are piercing chill,

And through the hawthorn blows the gale,

With solemn feet I tread the hill,

That overbrows the lonely vale.


O'er the bare upland, and away

Through the long reach of desert woods,

The embracing sunbeams chastely play,

And gladden these deep solitudes.


Where, twisted round the barren oak,

The summer vine in beauty clung,

And summer winds the stillness broke,

The crystal icicle is hung.


Where, from their frozen urns, mute springs

Pour out the river's gradual tide,

Shrilly the skater's iron rings,

And voices fill the woodland side.


Alas! how changed from the fair scene,

When birds sang out their mellow lay,

And winds were soft, and woods were green,

And the song ceased not with the day!


But still wild music is abroad,

Pale, desert woods! within your crowd;

And gathering winds, in hoarse accord,

Amid the vocal reeds pipe loud.


Chill airs and wintry winds! my ear

Has grown familiar with your song;

I hear it in the opening year,

I listen, and it cheers me long.


Woods In Winter - Henry Wadsworth Longfellow


[There you go, jfp, and solemn is in there too!]


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My love is strengthend, though more weak in seeming;
I love not less, though less the show appear.
That love is merchandised, whose rich esteeming
The owner's tongue doth publish everywhere.
Our love was new and then but in the spring,
When I was wont to greet it with my lays,
As Philomel in summer's front doth sing,
And stops her pipe in growth of riper days.
Not that the summer is less pleasant now
Than when her mournful hymns did hush the night;
But that wild music burthens every bough
And sweets grown common lose their dear delight:
     Therefore, like her, I sometime hold my tongue,
     Because I would not dull you with my song.


Shakespeare - Sonnet 102

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Above the antique mantel was displayed
As though a window gave upon the sylvan scene
The change of Philomel, by the barbarous king
So rudely forced; yet there the nightingale
Filled all the desert with inviolable voice
And still she cried, and still the world pursues,
“Jug Jug” to dirty ears.
And other withered stumps of time
Were told upon the walls; staring forms
Leaned out, leaning, hushing the room enclosed.
Footsteps shuffled on the stair.
Under the firelight, under the brush, her hair
Spread out in fiery points
Glowed into words, then would be savagely still.
T.S. Eliot - from 'The Waste Land'
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Come with rain. O loud Southwester!

Bring the singer, bring the nester;

Give the buried flower a dream;

Make the settled snowbank steam;

Find the brown beneath the white;

But whate'er you do tonight,

Bath my window, make it flow,

Melt it as the ice will go;

Melt the glass and leave the sticks

Like a hermit's crucifix;

Burst into my narrow stall;

Swing the picture on the wall;

Run the rattling pages o'er;

Scatter poems on the floor;

Turn the poet out of door.


To The Thawing Wind - Robert Frost

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