Whoso list to hunt, I know where is an hind, But as for me, helas! I may no more. The vain travail hath worried me so sore, I am of them that furthest come behind. Yet may I by no means, my worried mind Draw from the deer; but as she fleeth afore Fainting I follow. I leave off therefore, Since in a net I seek to hold the wind. Who list her hunt, I put him out of doubt, As well as I, may spend his time in vain; And graven in diamonds in letters plain There is written, her fair neck round about, “Noli me tangere, for Caesar’s I am, And wild to hold, though I seem tame.”
“Without education, we are in a horrible and deadly danger of taking educated people seriously.”
G. K. Chesterton
For A War Memorial
by G. K. Chesterton
The hucksters haggle in the mart The cars and carts go by; Senates and schools go droning on; For dead things cannot die.
A storm stooped on the place of tombs With bolts to blast and rive; But these be names of many men The lightning found alive.
If usurers rule and rights decay And visions view once more Great Carthage like a golden shell Gape hollow on the shore,
Still to the last of crumbling time Upon this stone be read How many men of England died To prove they were not dead.
By G. K. Chesterton
After one moment when I bowed my head And the whole world turned over and came upright, And I came out where the old road shone white. I walked the ways and heard what all men said, Forests of tongues, like autumn leaves unshed, Being not unlovable but strange and light; Old riddles and new creeds, not in despite But softly, as men smile about the dead
The sages have a hundred maps to give That trace their crawling cosmos like a tree, They rattle reason out through many a sieve That stores the sand and lets the gold go free: And all these things are less than dust to me Because my name is Lazarus and I live
One reasons cats are happier than people is they have no newspapers.
Hunchback Girl: She Thinks of Heaven
by Gwendolyn Brooks
My Father, it is surely a blue place, And Straight. Right. Regular. Where I shall find No need for scholarly nonchalance or looks A little to the left or guards upon the Heart to halt love that runs without crookedness Along its crooked corridors. My Father, It is a planned place surely. Out of coils, Unscrewed, released, no more to be marvelous, I shall walk straightly through most proper halls Proper myself, princess of properness.
by Joyce Kilmer
As when in summer-scented days gone by The court-musicians, dressed in velvets gay And golden silks, would on their gitterns play And blend their voices with the strings’ love-cry, So that the princess from her tower on high Might through the rose-framed window hear their lay, And make more splendid the resplendent day By leaning out, her choristers to spy;
So now, with weary voice and violin, Two court-musicians rend the dusty air. Their shrill notes pierce the elevated’s din, And thrill a girl’s heart with a pleasure rare. For her has sweeter music never been; They never saw a princess half so fair.
Ah, Grief, I should not treat you like a homeless dog who comes to the back door for a crust, for a meatless bone. I should trust you. I should coax you into the house and give you your own corner, a worn mat to lie on, your own water dish. You think I don’t know you’ve been living under my porch. You long for your real place to be readied before winter comes. You need your name, your collar and tag. You need the right to warn off intruders, to consider my house your own and me your person and yourself my own dog.
by Denise Levertov
Just when you seem to yourself nothing but a flimsy web of questions, you are given the questions of others to hold in the emptiness of your hands, songbird eggs that can still hatch if you keep them warm, butterflies opening and closing themselves in your cupped palms, trusting you not to injure their scintillant fur, their dust. You are given the questions of others as if they were answers to all you ask. Yes, perhaps this gift is your answer
“I saw the danger, yet I passed along the enchanted way,
And I said, let grief be a fallen leaf at the dawning of the day.”
by Patrick Kavanaugh
A year ago I fell in love with the functional ward Of a chest hospital: square cubicles in a row Plain concrete, wash basins – an art lover’s woe, Not counting how the fellow in the next bed snored. But nothing whatever is by love debarred, The common and banal her heat can know. The corridor led to a stairway and below Was the inexhaustible adventure of a gravelled yard.
This is what love does to things: the Rialto Bridge, The main gate that was bent by a heavy lorry, The seat at the back of a shed that was a suntrap. Naming these things is the love-act and its pledge; For we must record love’s mystery without claptrap, Snatch out of time the passionate transitory.
The Visiting Hour
By Toi Derricotte
he came in his seedy brown jacket smelling of paint. all
thumbs, a man stumbling over his own muscles, unable to
hold some part of himself and rock it, gently. she gave
up, seeing him come in the door, wanting to show him her
flat belly just an hour before, looking at her own corpse
in the mirror. she lay there reduced, neither virgin nor mother.
it had been decided. the winter was too cold in the garage.
they would live with her mother. the old bedroom was
already prepared, cleaned, the door opened. the solitary
twin bed remained; he would sleep on the porch.
she looked at him and tried to feel her way into the body
of a woman, a thing which has to be taken care of, held
safely in his arms.
she lay there, trying to hold on to what she had, knowing
“A simple way to take measure of a country is to look at how many want in.. And how many want out.”
Sonnet for the British-Born
by Hannah Lowe
And suddenly, new language: ‘British-Born’, for kids who grew up on terraces in Leeds or tower blocks in Bow, and at weekends tied their bootlaces for footie on the lawn and went to college to study Sports or Business or Car Mechanics and spoke with accents thick as Yorkshire mud or London bullet-quick – bare good and innit – and were as British as
a pack of salt-and-vinegar, and no, his teacher hadn’t noticed him withdrawing and no, his mother hadn’t wondered who he called at 2am in the blue lit bedroom of their bungalow, though despite her scrubbing, the words still clear on their garden wall: ‘Go Home’
My Tongue is Divided Into Two
By Quique Aviles
My tongue is divided into two
by virtue, coincidence or heaven
words jumping out of my mouth
stepping on each other
enjoying being a voice for the message
My tongue is divided into two
into heavy accent bits of confusion
into miracles and accidents
saying things that hurt the heart
drowning in a language that lives, jumps, translates
Ease after War, Death after Life, does greatly please.”
Edmund Spenser, The Faerie Queene, Book One
Amoretti III: The Sovereign Beauty
By Edmund Spenser
The sovereign beauty which I do admire,
Witness the world how worthy to be praised:
The light whereof hath kindled heavenly fire
In my frail spirit, by her from baseness raised;
That being now with her huge brightness dazed,
Base thing I can no more endure to view;
But looking still on her, I stand amazed
At wondrous sight of so celestial hue.
So when my tongue would speak her praises due,
It stopped is with thought’s astonishment:
And when my pen would write her titles true,
It ravish’d is with fancy’s wonderment:
Yet in my heart I then both speak and write
The wonder that my wit cannot indite.
On being Cautioned against Walking on a Headland Overlooking the Sea, Because It was Frequented by a Lunatic (1797)
by Charlotte Smith (1749 – 1806)
Is there a solitary wretch who hies To the tall cliff, with starting pace or slow, And, measuring, views with wild and hollow eyes Its distance from the waves that chide below; Who, as the sea-born gale with frequent sighs Chills his cold bed upon the mountain turf, With hoarse, half-utter’d lamentation, lies Murmuring responses to the dashing surf? In moody sadness, on the giddy brink, I see him more with envy than with fear; He has no nice felicities that shrink From giant horrors; wildly wandering here, He seems (uncursed with reason) not to know The depth or the duration of his woe.
Now my soul is incarnate in my country. My body has swallowed her soul, And I and my country are one. My name is million, for I love and suffer for millions.
by Taras Shevchenko Translated by E. L. Voynich, London, 1911
Dig my grave and raise my barrow By the Dnieper-side In Ukraina, my own land, A fair land and wide. I will lie and watch the cornfields, Listen through the years To the river voices roaring, Roaring in my ears.
When I hear the call Of the racing flood, Loud with hated blood, I will leave them all, Fields and hills; and force my way Right up to the Throne Where God sits alone; Clasp His feet and pray… But till that day What is God to me?
Bury me, be done with me, Rise and break your chain, Water your new liberty With blood for rain. Then, in the mighty family Of all men that are free, May be sometimes, very softly You will speak of me?
by Adam Mickiewicz
I like to watch leaning on Ajudah’s face How foaming billows pressed in black ranks grow Or at other times like silvery snow Whirl in millions of rainbows with splendid grace. They strike against the shoal, break into wave sprays, Like an army of whales the shore overflow, Seize the land in triumph, in retreat they go, Toss shells, pearls, corals behind in their grace. So it is, o young Poet, in your heart! Passion often gives threatening storms a start, But when you raise your lute, it leaves you unscarred, In the oblivion of deep waters will drown And the immortal songs will scatter down From which on your brow ages will weave the crown.
by Adam Mickiewicz
Lubię poglądać wsparty na Judahu skale, Jak spienione bałwany to w czarne szeregi Ścisnąwszy się buchają, to jak srebrne śniegi W milijonowych tęczach kołują wspaniale. Trącą się o mieliznę, rozbiją na fale, Jak wojsko wielorybów zalegając brzegi, Zdobędą ląd w tryumfie i, na powrót zbiegi, Miecą za sobą muszle, perły i korale. Podobnie na twe serce, o poeto młody! Namiętność często groźne wzburza niepogody; Lecz gdy podniesiesz bardon, ona bez twej szkody Ucieka w zapomnienia pogrążyć się toni I nieśmiertelne pieśni za sobą uroni, Z których wieki uplotą ozdobę twych skroni
The best poetry has its roots in the subconscious to a great degree. Youth, naivety, reliance on instinct more than learning and method, a sense of freedom and play, even trust in randomness, is necessary to the making of a poem.
by May Swenson
Gradual bud and bloom and seedfall speeded up
are these mute explosions in slow motion.
From vertical shoots above the sea, the fire
flowers open, shedding their petals. Black waves,
turned more than moonwhite, pink ice, lightning blue,
echo our gasps of admiration as they crash
and hush. Another bush ablaze snicks straight up.
A gap like heartstop between the last vanished
particle and the thuggish boom. And the thuggish
boom repeats in stutters from sandhill hollows
in the shore. We want more. A twirling sun,
or dismembered chrysanthemum bulleted up, leisurely
bursts, in an instant timestreak is suckswooped
back to its core. And we want more: red giant,
white dwarf, black hole dense, invisible, all in one.
by Henry Allen
July 4th fireworks jar American nights, shells chugging upwards to snap/crackle/pop amid the wistful smoke. Bright sounds! Loud lights! Next day, July starts. Will it ever stop? So very big, so lonely, like high plains beneath a canopy of glare, a herd beneath a tree, first thoughts of hurricanes and Pickett’s “Charge!”—the Lost Cause in one word. July is lilies in a dry, hard shade, a disembodied triumph under superskies, a month of lidlessness and lemonade, of radiant boulevards and empty eyes. July: Augustan mixed with Junoesque, a half-baked poet sleeping at his desk.