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Claire

Poetic Wanderings

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Earth has not anything to show more fair;

Dull would he be of soul who could pass by

A sight so touching in its majesty:

This City now doth, like a garment, wear

The beauty of the morning; silent, bare,

Ships, towers, domes, theatres, and temples lie

Open unto the fields, and to the sky;

All bright and glittering in the smokeless air.

Never did sun more beautifully steep

In his first splendour, valley, rock, or hill;

Ne’er saw I, never felt, a calm so deep!

The river glideth at his own sweet will:

Dear God! the very houses seem asleep;

And all that mighty heart is lying still!

 

William Wordsworth - "Composed upon Westminster Bridge"

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Pried from the fortress walls of time

Unsought, a fragment falls,

Freed from a shard of mortared mime

A lost friend's laughter calls.

 

Here are the days of fearsome youth

Entombed in stone and silt,

Proud towers of what passed for truth

Marooned in moats of guilt.

 

Rewritten mounds of wrecked debris

Hold looted, broken spoil,

While tilled fields men called memory

Revert to virgin soil.

 

The Walls of Time by Felix Dennis

(Having recently purchased Homeless in My Heart, Felix Dennis is my new favourite poet)

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WE meet ’neath the sounding rafter,

And the walls around are bare;

As they shout back our peals of laughter

It seems that the dead are there.

Then stand to your glasses, steady!

We drink in our comrades’ eyes:

One cup to the dead already—

Hurrah for the next that dies!

 

Dunno who wrote it, might look it up later.

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Toward the four winds four speedy Cherubim

Put to their mouths the sounding alchemy,

By harald’s voice explained; the hollow Abyss

Heard far and wide, and all the host of Hell

With deafening shout returned them loud acclaim.

Thence more at ease their minds, and somewhat raised

By false presumptuous hope, the rangèd Powers

Disband; and, wandering, each his several way

Pursues, as inclination or sad choice,

Leads him perplexed, where he may likeliest find

Truce to his restless thoughts, and entertain

The irksome hours, till his great Chief return.

 

from Milton, Paradise Lost, Book II

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Not all things go wrong, and knowing

This, be wary of despair,

As you go through hell - keep going,

Make no brave oasis there.

 

Through the shadowlands of grieving,

Past the giants, Doubt and Fear,

Heartsick, stunned and half believing -

Heed no whisper in your ear.

 

Not all things go wrong - and after

Winter's famine comes the spring,

Kindness, beauty, children's laughter -

Joy is ever on the wing.

 

Not all Things Go Wrong, Felix Dennis

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The trees are in their autumn beauty,

The woodland paths are dry,

Under the October twilight the water

Mirrors a still sky;

Upon the brimming water among the stones

Are nine and fifty swans.

 

The nineteenth autumn has come upon me

Since I first made my count;

I saw, before I had well finished,

All suddenly mount

And scatter wheeling in great broken rings

Upon their clamorous wings.

 

I have looked upon those brilliant creatures,

And now my heart is sore.

All's changed since I, hearing at twilight,

The first time on this shore,

The bell-beat of their wings above my head,

Trod with a lighter tread.

 

Unwearied still, lover by lover,

They paddle in the cold

Companionable streams or climb the air;

Their hearts have not grown old;

Passion or conquest, wander where they will,

Attend upon them still.

 

But now they drift on the still water,

Mysterious, beautiful;

Among what rushes will they build,

By what lake's edge or pool

Delight men's eyes when I awake some day

To find they have flown away?

 

"The Wild Swans at Coole" by W. B. Yeats

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A Barefoot Boy

 

A barefoot boy! I mark him at his play --

For May is here once more, and so is he, --

His dusty trousers, rolled half to the knee,

And his bare ankles grimy, too, as they:

Cross-hatchings of the nettle, in array

Of feverish stripes, hint vividly to me

Of woody pathways winding endlessly

Along the creek, where even yesterday

He plunged his shrinking body -- gasped and shook --

Yet called the water "warm," with never lack

Of joy. And so, half enviously I look

Upon this graceless barefoot and his track, --

His toe stubbed -- ay, his big toe-nail knocked back

Like unto the clasp of an old pocketbook.

 

James Whitcomb Riley

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Rain patters on a sea that tilts and sighs.

Fast-running floors, collapsing into hollows,

Tower suddenly, spray-haired. Contrariwise,

A wave drops like a wall: another follows,

Wilting and scrambling, tirelessly at play

Where there are no ships and no shallows.

 

Above the sea, the yet more shoreless day,

Riddled by wind, trails lit-up galleries:

They shift to giant ribbing, sift away.

 

Such attics cleared of me! Such absences.

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O Attic shape! Fair attitude! with brede

Of marble men and maidens overwrought,

With forest branches and the trodden weed;

Thou, silent form, dost tease us out of thought

As doth eternity: Cold Pastoral!

When old age shall this generation waste,

Thou shalt remain, in midst of other woe

Than ours, a friend to man, to whom thou say’st,

“Beauty is truth, truth beauty,”—that is all

Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.

 

From Keats, "Ode On A Grecian Urn" (another poem about attics...)

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Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,

And sorry I could not travel both

And be one traveler, long I stood

And looked down one as far as I could

To where it bent in the undergrowth;

 

Then took the other, as just as fair,

And having perhaps the better claim

Because it was grassy and wanted wear,

Though as for that the passing there

Had worn them really about the same,

 

And both that morning equally lay

In leaves no step had trodden black.

Oh, I marked the first for another day!

Yet knowing how way leads on to way

I doubted if I should ever come back.

 

I shall be telling this with a sigh

Somewhere ages and ages hence:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.

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I CAUGHT this morning morning’s minion, king-

dom of daylight’s dauphin, dapple-dawn-drawn Falcon, in his riding

Of the rolling level underneath him steady air, and striding

High there, how he rung upon the rein of a wimpling wing

In his ecstasy! then off, off forth on swing,

As a skate’s heel sweeps smooth on a bow-bend: the hurl and gliding

Rebuffed the big wind. My heart in hiding

Stirred for a bird,—the achieve of; the mastery of the thing!

 

Brute beauty and valour and act, oh, air, pride, plume, here

Buckle! AND the fire that breaks from thee then, a billion

Times told lovelier, more dangerous, O my chevalier!

 

No wonder of it: shéer plód makes plough down sillion

Shine, and blue-bleak embers, ah my dear,

Fall, gall themselves, and gash gold-vermillion.

 

Gerard Manley Hopkins, "The Windhover"

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Easily, my dear, you move, easily your head

And easily as through the leaves of a photograph album I'm led

Through the night's delights and the day's impressions,

Past the tall tenements and the trees in the wood;

Though sombre the sixteen skies of Europe

And the Danube flood.

 

Looking and loving our behaviours pass

The stones, the steels and the polished glass;

Lucky to Love the new pansy railway,

The sterile farms where his looks are fed,

And in the policed unlucky city

Lucky his bed

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I was the Dreamer, they the Dream; I roamed

Delighted through the motley spectacle;

Gowns grave, or gaudy, doctors, students, streets,

Courts, cloisters, flocks of churches, gateways, towers:

Migration strange for a stripling of the hills,

A northern villager.

As if the change

Had waited on some Fairy's wand, at once

Behold me rich in monies, and attired

In splendid garb, with hose of silk, and hair

Powdered like rimy trees, when frost is keen.

My lordly dressing-gown, I pass it by,

With other signs of manhood that supplied

The lack of beard. - The weeks went roundly on,

With invitations, suppers, wine and fruit,

Smooth housekeeping within, and all without

Liberal, and suiting gentleman's array.

 

From Wordsworth, "The Prelude", Book Third (Residence at Cambridge)

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There once was a Dormouse who lived in a bed

Of delphiniums (blue) and geraniums (red),

And all the day long he'd a wonderful view

Of geraniums (red) and delphiniums (blue).

 

A Doctor came hurrying round, and he said:

"Tut-tut, I am sorry to find you in bed.

Just say 'Ninety-nine' while I look at your chest....

Don't you find that chrysanthemums answer the best?"

 

The Dormouse looked round at the view and replied

(When he'd said "Ninety-nine") that he'd tried and he'd tried,

And much the most answering things that he knew

Were geraniums (red) and delphiniums (blue).

 

The Doctor stood frowning and shaking his head,

And he took up his shiny silk hat as he said:

"What the patient requires is a change," and he went

To see some chrysanthemum people in Kent.

 

The Dormouse lay there, and he gazed at the view

Of geraniums (red) and delphiniums (blue),

And he knew there was nothing he wanted instead

Of delphiniums (blue) and geraniums (red).

 

About 1/3 of The Dormouse And The Doctor by A.A. Milne

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The railroad track is miles away,

And the day is loud with voices speaking,

Yet there isn't a train goes by all day

But I hear its whistle shrieking.

 

All night there isn't a train goes by,

Though the night is still for sleep and dreaming

But I see its cinders red on the sky,

And hear its engine steaming.

 

My heart is warm with the friends I make,

And better friends I'll not be knowing,

Yet there isn't a train I wouldn't take,

No matter where it's going.

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Clay lies still, but blood's a rover;

Breath's a ware that will not keep.

Up, lad: when the journey's over

There'll be time enough to sleep.

 

From A Shropshire Lad, by A.E. Housman

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When to the sessions of sweet silent thought

I summon up remembrance of things past,

I sigh the lack of many a thing I sought,

And with old woes new wail my dear time's waste:

Then can I drown an eye, unused to flow,

For precious friends hid in death's dateless night,

And weep afresh love's long since cancell'd woe,

And moan the expense of many a vanish'd sight:

Then can I grieve at grievances foregone,

And heavily from woe to woe tell o'er

The sad account of fore-bemoaned moan,

Which I new pay as if not paid before.

But if the while I think on thee, dear friend,

All losses are restored and sorrows end.

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My once dear Love; hapless that I no more

Must call thee so: the rich affections store

That fed our hopes, lies now exhaust and spent,

Like summes of treasure unto Bankrupts lent.

 

We that did nothing study but the way

To love each other, with which thoughts the day

Rose with delight to us, and with them set,

Must learn the hateful Art how to forget.

 

We that did nothing wish that Heav'n could give

Beyond our selves, nor did desire to live

Beyond that wish, all these now cancell must

As if not writ in faith, but words and dust.

 

Yet witness those cleer vowes which Lovers make,

Witness the chast desires that never brake

Into unruly heats; witness that brest

which in thy bosom anchor'd his whole rest,

Tis no default in is, I dare acquite

Thy Maiden faith, thy purpose fair and white

As thy pure self. Cross planets did envie

Us to each other, and Heaven did untie

Faster then vowes could binde. O that the Starres,

When Lovers meet, should stand oppos'd in warres!

 

Since then some higher Destinies command,

Let us not strive, nor labour to withstand

What is past help. The longest date of grief

Can never yield a hope of our relief;

And though we waste our selves in moist laments,

Tears may drown us, but not our discontents.

 

Fold back our arms, take homp our fruitless loves,

That must new fortunes trie, like Turtle Doves

Dislopdged from their haunts. We must in tears

Unwind a love knit up inh many years.

In this last kiss I here surrender thee

Back to thy self, so thou again art free.

Thou in another, sad as that, resend

The truest heart that Lover e'er did lend.

 

Now turn from each. So fare our sever'd hearts

As the divorc't soul from her body parts.

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Rose, thou art sick!

The invisible worm,

That flies in the night,

In the howling storm,

 

Has found out thy bed

Of crimson joy;

And his dark secret love

Does thy life destroy.

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In the black winter morning

No light will be struck near my eyes

While the clock in the stairway is warning

For five, when he used to rise.

Leave the door unbarred,

The clock unwound.

Make my lone bed hard -

Would 'twere underground!

 

When the summer dawns clearly,

And the appletree-tops seem alight,

Who will undraw the curtain and cheerly

Call out that the morning is bright?

 

When I tarry at market

No form will cross Durnover Lea

In the gathering darkness, to hark at

Grey's Bridge for the pit-pat o' me.

 

When the supper crock's steaming,

And the time is the time of his tread,

I shall sit by the fire and wait dreaming

In a silence as of the dead.

Leave the door unbarred,

The clock unwound,

Make my lone bed hard -

Would 'twere underground!

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Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,

Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,

Silence the pianos and with muffled drum

Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.

 

Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead

Scribbling on the sky the message He is Dead.

Put crepe bows round the white necks of the public doves,

Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves.

 

He was my North, my South, my East and West,

My working week and my Sunday rest,

My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;

I thought that love would last forever: I was wrong.

 

The stars are not wanted now; put out every one,

Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun,

Pour away the ocean and sweep up the woods;

For nothing now can ever come to any good.

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Love and Friendship

 

Love is like the wild rose-briar;

Friendship like the holly tree.

The holly is dark when the rose-briar blooms;

But which will bloom most constantly.

 

The wild rose-briar is sweet in spring,

Its summer blossoms scent in the air;

Yet wait til winter comes again,

And who will call the wild-briar fair.

 

Then, scorn the silly rose-wreath now,

And deck thee with the holly's sheen,

That, when December blights thy brow,

He may still leave thy garland green.

 

Emily Bronte

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Let us have winter loving that the heart

May be in peace and ready to partake

Of the slow pleasure spring would wish to hurry

Or that in summer harshly would awake,

And let us fall apart, O gladly weary,

The white skin shaken like a white snowflake.

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Margaret, are you grieving

Over Goldengrove unleaving?

Leaves, like the things of man, you

With your fresh thoughts care for, can you?

Ah! as the heart grows older

It will come to such sights colder

By & by, nor spare a sigh

Though worlds of wanwood leafmeal lie;

And yet you will weep & know why.

Now no matter, child, the name:

Sorrow's springs are the same.

Nor mouth had, no nor mind, expressed

What heart heard of, ghost guessed:

It is the blight man was born for,

It is Margaret you mourn for.

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Hope humbly then; with trembling pinions soar;

Wait the great teacher Death, and God adore.

What future bliss He gives not thee to know,

But gives that hope to be thy blessing now.

Hope springs eternal in the human breast:

Man never is, but always to be, blest.

The soul, uneasy and confin'd from home,

Rests and expatiates in a life to come.

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