"Courage!" he said, and pointed toward the land, "This mounting wave will roll us shoreward soon." In the afternoon they came unto a land In which it seemed always afternoon. All round the coast the languid air did swoon, Breathing like one that hath a weary dream. Full-faced above the valley stood the moon; And like a downward smoke, the slender stream Along the cliff to fall and pause and fall did seem. A land of streams! some, like a downward smoke, Slow-dropping veils of thinnest lawn, did go; And some thro' wavering lights and shadows broke, Rolling a slumbrous sheet of foam below. They saw the gleaming river seaward flow From the inner land: far off, three mountain-tops, Three silent pinnacles of aged snow, Stood sunset-flush'd: and, dew'd with showery drops, Up-clomb the shadowy pine above the woven copse. The charmed sunset linger'd low adown In the red West: thro' mountain clefts the dale Was seen far inland, and the yellow down Border'd with palm, and many a winding vale And meadow, set with slender galingale; A land where all things always seem'd the same! And round about the keel with faces pale, Dark faces pale against that rosy flame, The mild-eyed melancholy Lotos-eaters came. Branches they bore of that enchanted stem, Laden with flower and fruit, whereof they gave To each, but whoso did receive of them, And taste, to him the gushing of the wave Far far away did seem to mourn and rave On alien shores; and if his fellow spake, His voice was thin, as voices from the grave; And deep-asleep he seem'd, yet all awake, And music in his ears his beating heart did make. They sat them down upon the yellow sand, Between the sun and moon upon the shore; And sweet it was to dream of Fatherland, Of child, and wife, and slave; but evermore Most weary seem'd the sea, weary the oar, Weary the wandering fields of barren foam. Then some one said, "We will return no more"; And all at once they sang, "Our island home Is far beyond the wave; we will no longer roam." CHORIC SONGIThere is sweet music here that softer falls Than petals from blown roses on the grass, Or night-dews on still waters between walls Of shadowy granite, in a gleaming pass; Music that gentlier on the spirit lies, Than tir'd eyelids upon tir'd eyes; Music that brings sweet sleep down from the blissful skies. Here are cool mosses deep, And thro' the moss the ivies creep, And in the stream the long-leaved flowers weep, And from the craggy ledge the poppy hangs in sleep." IIWhy are we weigh'd upon with heaviness, And utterly consumed with sharp distress, While all things else have rest from weariness? All things have rest: why should we toil alone, We only toil, who are the first of things, And make perpetual moan, Still from one sorrow to another thrown: Nor ever fold our wings, And cease from wanderings, Nor steep our brows in slumber's holy balm; Nor harken what the inner spirit sings, "There is no joy but calm!" Why should we only toil, the roof and crown of things? IIILo! in the middle of the wood, The folded leaf is woo'd from out the bud With winds upon the branch, and there Grows green and broad, and takes no care, Sun-steep'd at noon, and in the moon Nightly dew-fed; and turning yellow Falls, and floats adown the air. Lo! sweeten'd with the summer light, The full-juiced apple, waxing over-mellow, Drops in a silent autumn night. All its allotted length of days The flower ripens in its place, Ripens and fades, and falls, and hath no toil, Fast-rooted in the fruitful soil. IVHateful is the dark-blue sky, Vaulted o'er the dark-blue sea. Death is the end of life; ah, why Should life all labour be? Let us alone. Time driveth onward fast, And in a little while our lips are dumb. Let us alone. What is it that will last? All things are taken from us, and become Portions and parcels of the dreadful past. Let us alone. What pleasure can we have To war with evil? Is there any peace In ever climbing up the climbing wave? All things have rest, and ripen toward the grave In silence; ripen, fall and cease: Give us long rest or death, dark death, or dreamful ease. VHow sweet it were, hearing the downward stream, With half-shut eyes ever to seem Falling asleep in a half-dream! To dream and dream, like yonder amber light, Which will not leave the myrrh-bush on the height; To hear each other's whisper'd speech; Eating the Lotos day by day, To watch the crisping ripples on the beach, And tender curving lines of creamy spray; To lend our hearts and spirits wholly To the influence of mild-minded melancholy; To muse and brood and live again in memory, With those old faces of our infancy Heap'd over with a mound of grass, Two handfuls of white dust, shut in an urn of brass! VIDear is the memory of our wedded lives, And dear the last embraces of our wives And their warm tears: but all hath suffer'd change: For surely now our household hearths are cold, Our sons inherit us: our looks are strange: And we should come like ghosts to trouble joy. Or else the island princes over-bold Have eat our substance, and the minstrel sings Before them of the ten years' war in Troy, And our great deeds, as half-forgotten things. Is there confusion in the little isle? Let what is broken so remain. The Gods are hard to reconcile: 'Tis hard to settle order once again. There is confusion worse than death, Trouble on trouble, pain on pain, Long labour unto aged breath, Sore task to hearts worn out by many wars And eyes grown dim with gazing on the pilot-stars. VIIBut, propt on beds of amaranth and moly, How sweet (while warm airs lull us, blowing lowly) With half-dropt eyelid still, Beneath a heaven dark and holy, To watch the long bright river drawing slowly His waters from the purple hill— To hear the dewy echoes calling From cave to cave thro' the thick-twined vine— To watch the emerald-colour'd water falling Thro' many a wov'n acanthus-wreath divine! Only to hear and see the far-off sparkling brine, Only to hear were sweet, stretch'd out beneath the pine. VIIIThe Lotos blooms below the barren peak: The Lotos blows by every winding creek: All day the wind breathes low with mellower tone: Thro' every hollow cave and alley lone Round and round the spicy downs the yellow Lotos-dust is blown. We have had enough of action, and of motion we, Roll'd to starboard, roll'd to larboard, when the surge was seething free, Where the wallowing monster spouted his foam-fountains in the sea. Let us swear an oath, and keep it with an equal mind, In the hollow Lotos-land to live and lie reclined On the hills like Gods together, careless of mankind. For they lie beside their nectar, and the bolts are hurl'd Far below them in the valleys, and the clouds are lightly curl'd Round their golden houses, girdled with the gleaming world: Where they smile in secret, looking over wasted lands, Blight and famine, plague and earthquake, roaring deeps and fiery sands, Clanging fights, and flaming towns, and sinking ships, and praying hands. But they smile, they find a music centred in a doleful song Steaming up, a lamentation and an ancient tale of wrong, Like a tale of little meaning tho' the words are strong; Chanted from an ill-used race of men that cleave the soil, Sow the seed, and reap the harvest with enduring toil, Storing yearly little dues of wheat, and wine and oil; Till they perish and they suffer—some, 'tis whisper'd—down in hell Suffer endless anguish, others in Elysian valleys dwell, Resting weary limbs at last on beds of asphodel. Surely, surely, slumber is more sweet than toil, the shore Than labour in the deep mid-ocean, wind and wave and oar; O, rest ye, brother mariners, we will not wander more.
"Originally an Arabic verse form dealing with loss and romantic love, medieval Persian poets embraced the ghazal, eventually making it their own. Consisting of syntactically and grammatically complete couplets, the form also has an intricate rhyme scheme. Each couplet ends on the same word or phrase (the radif), and is preceded by the couplet’s rhyming word (the qafia, which appears twice in the first couplet). The last couplet includes a proper name, often of the poet’s." - Poetry Foundation
With thick strokes of ink the sky fills with rain.Pretending to run for cover but secretly praying for more rain.Over the echo of the water, I hear a voice saying my name.No one in the city moves under the quick sightless rain.The pages of my notebook soak, then curl. I’ve written:“Yogis opened their mouths for hours to drink the rain.”The sky is a bowl of dark water, rinsing your face.The window trembles; liquid glass could shatter into rain.I am a dark bowl, waiting to be filled.If I open my mouth now, I could drown in the rain.I hurry home as though someone is there waiting for me.The night collapses into your skin. I am the rain.
Seasons on seasons. The spring is signaled by birdsongcoyotes screech and yammer in the moonlightand the first flowers open. I saw two owls todayin the daylight, on silent wings.They landed as one and watched me sleepily.Oh who? they called. Or how, or how who?Then they leaned into the trunkinto the sun that shone through the tight-curled buds,and vanished into dappled shadowsnever waiting for an answer.Like the sapling that buckles the sidewalkand grows until it has reached its heightall of us begin in darkness. Some of us reach maturity. A fewbecome old: we went over time’s waterfall and lived,Time barely cares. We are a pool of knowledge and advicethe wisdom of the tribe, but we have stumbled,fallen face-first into our new uncomfortable roles.Remembering, as if it happened to someone else,the race to breed,or to succeed, the aching need that drove our thoughtsand shaped each deed,those days are through.We do not need to grow, we’re done,we grew.Who speaks? And why?She was killed by her breasts, by tumours in them:A clump of cells that would not listen to orders to disbandno chemical suggestions that they were big enoughthat, sometimes, it’s a fine thing just to die, were heeded.And the trees are leafless and black against the skyand the bats in fatal whiteface sleep and rotand the jellyfish drift and pulse through the warming watersand everything changes. And some things are truly lost.Wild in the weeds, the breeze scatters the seeds,and it lifts the wings of the pine processionary moth,and bears the green glint of the emerald borer,Now the elms go the way of the chestnut trees.Becoming memories and dusty furniture.The ash trees go the way of the elms.And somebody has to say that wenever need to grow forever. Thatwe, like the trees, can reach our full growth,and mature, in wisdom and in time,that we can be enough of us. That therecan be room for other breeds and kinds and lives.Who’ll whisper it:that tumours kill their hosts,and then themselves?We’re done. We grew. Enough.All the gods on the hilltopsand all the gods on the wavesthe gods that became sealsthe voices on the windsthe quiet places, where if we are silentwe can listen, we can learn.Who speaks? And why?Someone could ask the questions, too.Like who?Who knew? What’s true?And how? Or who?How could it work?What happens then?Are consequences consequent?The answers come from the world itselfThe songs are silent,and the spring is long in coming.There’s a voice that rumbles beneath usand after the end the voice still reaches usLike a bird that cries in hungeror a song that pleads for a different future.Because all of us dream of a different future.And somebody needs to listen.To pause. To hold.To inhale, and find the momentbefore the exhale, when everything is in balanceand nothing moves. In balance: here’s life, here’s death,and this is eternity holding its breath.After the world has endedAfter the silent springInto the waiting silenceanother song begins.Nothing is ever overlife breathes life in its turnSometimes the people listenSometimes the people learnWho speaks? And why?
In the long, sleepless watches of the night, A gentle face — the face of one long dead — Looks at me from the wall, where round its head The night-lamp casts a halo of pale light. Here in this room she died; and soul more white Never through martyrdom of fire was led To its repose; nor can in books be read The legend of a life more benedight. There is a mountain in the distant West That, sun-defying, in its deep ravines Displays a cross of snow upon its side. Such is the cross I wear upon my breast These eighteen years, through all the changing scenes And seasons, changeless since the day she died.
I felt a Funeral, in my Brain,And Mourners to and froKept treading - treading - till it seemedThat Sense was breaking through -And when they all were seated,A Service, like a Drum -Kept beating - beating - till I thoughtMy mind was going numb -And then I heard them lift a BoxAnd creak across my SoulWith those same Boots of Lead, again,Then Space - began to toll,As all the Heavens were a Bell,And Being, but an Ear,And I, and Silence, some strange Race,Wrecked, solitary, here -And then a Plank in Reason, broke,And I dropped down, and down -And hit a World, at every plunge,And Finished knowing - then -
IIISpring is like a perhaps hand (which comes carefully out of Nowhere)arranging a window,into which people look(while people starearranging and changing placing carefully there a strange thing and a known thing here)andchanging everything carefullyspring is like a perhaps Hand in a window (carefully to and fro moving New and Old things,while people stare carefully moving a perhaps fraction of flower here placing an inch of air there)andwithout breaking anything.
anyone lived in a pretty how town(with up so floating many bells down)spring summer autumn winterhe sang his didn’t he danced his did.Women and men(both little and small)cared for anyone not at allthey sowed their isn’t they reaped their samesun moon stars rainchildren guessed(but only a fewand down they forgot as up they grewautumn winter spring summer)that noone loved him more by morewhen by now and tree by leafshe laughed his joy she cried his griefbird by snow and stir by stillanyone’s any was all to hersomeones married their everyoneslaughed their cryings and did their dance(sleep wake hope and then)theysaid their nevers they slept their dreamstars rain sun moon(and only the snow can begin to explainhow children are apt to forget to rememberwith up so floating many bells down)one day anyone died i guess(and noone stooped to kiss his face)busy folk buried them side by sidelittle by little and was by wasall by all and deep by deepand more by more they dream their sleepnoone and anyone earth by aprilwish by spirit and if by yes.Women and men(both dong and ding)summer autumn winter springreaped their sowing and went their camesun moon stars rain
Last night on the sports channelI watched the rodeo.Those cowboys have it right;the best and the beauty of it.You cannot win, so you ridefor as long as you can and enjoy it.When you dismount,whether it be on your own or not,it won't look pretty. You'll limp off.But you'll feel good; your heartwill be pounding like it never has, and walking away, one crazy stepafter another, your ears will ringwith the loud approvalof those who never felt so good.
Not that the pines were darker there, nor mid-May dogwood brighter there, nor swifts more swift in summer air; it was my own country,having its thunderclap of spring, its long midsummer ripening, its corn hoar-stiff at harvesting, almost like any country,yet being mine; its face, its speech, its hills bent low within my reach, its river birch and upland beech were mine, of my own country.Now the dark waters at the bowfold back, like earth against the plow; foam brightens like the dogwood now at home, in my own country.
I ask them to take a poemand hold it up to the lightlike a color slideor press an ear against its hive.I say drop a mouse into a poemand watch him probe his way out,or walk inside the poem’s roomand feel the walls for a light switch.I want them to waterskiacross the surface of a poemwaving at the author’s name on the shore.But all they want to dois tie the poem to a chair with ropeand torture a confession out of it.They begin beating it with a hoseto find out what it really means.
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