Month: May 2015
Today is Walt Whitman’s birthday.
So this week, it’s Walt Whitman poems!
Longings For Home
O Magnet – South! O glistening, perfumed South! My South!
O quick mettle, rich blood, impulse, and love! Good and evil! O all dear to me!
O dear to me my birth-things—All moving things, and the trees where I was
Dear to me my own slow sluggish rivers where they flow, distant, over flats of silvery
Dear to me the Roanoke, the Savannah, the Altamahaw, the Pedee, the Tombigbee, the Santee,
Coosa, and the Sabine;
O pensive, far away wandering, I return with my Soul to haunt their banks again;
Again in Florida I float on transparent lakes—I float on the Okeechobee—I cross
hummock land, or through pleasant openings, or dense forests;
I see the parrots in the woods—I see the papaw tree and the blossoming titi;
Again, sailing in my coaster, on deck, I coast off Georgia—I coast up the Carolinas,
I see where the live-oak is growing—I see where the yellow-pine, the scented
lemon and orange, the cypress, the graceful palmetto;
I pass rude sea-headlands and enter Pamlico Sound through an inlet, and dart my vision
O the cotton plant! the growing fields of rice, sugar, hemp!
The cactus, guarded with thorns—the laurel-tree, with large white flowers;
The range afar—the richness and barrenness—the old woods charged with mistletoe
The piney odor and the gloom—the awful natural stillness, (Here in these dense swamps
freebooter carries his gun, and the fugitive slave has his conceal’d hut;)
O the strange fascination of these half-known, half-impassable swamps, infested by
resounding with the bellow of the alligator, the sad noises of the night-owl and the
the whirr of the rattlesnake;
The mocking-bird, the American mimic, singing all the forenoon—singing through the
The humming-bird, the wild turkey, the raccoon, the opossum;
A Tennessee corn-field—the tall, graceful, long-leav’d corn—slender,
green with tassels—with beautiful ears, each well-sheath’d in its husk;
An Arkansas prairie—a sleeping lake, or still bayou;
O my heart! O tender and fierce pangs—I can stand them not—I will depart;
O to be a Virginian, where I grew up! O to be a Carolinian!
O longings irrepressible! O I will go back to old Tennessee, and never wander more!
– Walt Whitman
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 kept 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.
– Robert Frost
All faintly through my soul to-day,
As from a bell that far away
Is tinkled by some frolic fay,
Floateth a lovely chiming.
Thou magic bell, to many a fell
And many a winter-saddened dell
Thy tongue a tale of Spring doth tell,
Too passionate-sweet for rhyming.
Chime out, thou little song of Spring,
Float in the blue skies ravishing.
Thy song-of-life a joy doth bring
That’s sweet, albeit fleeting.
Float on the Spring-winds e’en to my home:
And when thou to a rose shalt come
That hath begun to show her bloom,
Say, I send her greeting!
– Sidney Lanier
Moonlight silvers the tops of trees,
Moonlight whitens the lilac shadowed wall
And through the evening fall,
Clearly, as if through enchanted seas,
Footsteps passing, an infinite distance away,
In another world and another day.
Moonlight turns the purple lilacs blue,
Moonlight leaves the fountain hoar and old,
And the boughs of elms grow green and cold,
Our footsteps echo on gleaming stones,
The leaves are stirred to a jargon of muted tones.
This is the night we have kept, you say:
This is the moonlit night that will never die.
Through the grey streets our memories retain
Let us go back again.
Mist goes up from the river to dim the stars,
The river is black and cold; so let us dance
To flare of horns, and clang of cymbals and drums;
And strew the glimmering floor with roses,
And remember, while the rich music yawns and closes,
With a luxury of pain, how silence comes.
Yes, we loved each other, long ago;
We moved like wind to a music’s ebb and flow.
At a phrase from violins you closed your eyes,
And smiled, and let me lead you how young we were!
Your hair, upon that music, seemed to stir.
Let us return there, let us return, you and I;
Through changeless streets our memories retain
Let us go back again.
Mist goes up from the rain steeped earth, and clings
Ghostly with lamplight among drenched maple trees.
We walk in silence and see how the lamplight flings
Fans of shadow upon it the music’s mournful pleas
Die out behind us, the door is closed at last,
A net of silver silence is softly cast
Over our thought slowly we walk,
Quietly with delicious pause, we talk,
Of foolish trivial things; of life and death,
Time, and forgetfulness, and dust and truth;
Lilacs and youth.
You laugh, I hear the after taken breath,
You darken your eyes and turn away your head
At something I have said
Some intuition that flew too deep,
And struck a plageant chord.
Tonight, tonight you will remember it as you fall asleep,
Your dream will suddenly blossom with sharp delight,
Goodnight! You say.
The leaves of the lilac dip and sway;
The purple spikes of bloom
Nod their sweetness upon us, lift again,
Your white face turns, I am caught with pain
And silence descends, and dripping of dew from eaves,
And jeweled points of leaves.
I walk in a pleasure of sorrow along the street
And try to remember you; slow drops patter;
Water upon the lilacs has made them sweet;
I brush them with my sleeve, the cool drops scatter;
And suddenly I laugh and stand and listen
As if another had laughed a gust
Rustles the leaves, the wet spikes glisten;
And it seems as though it were you who had shaken the bough,
And spilled the fragrance I pursue your face again,
It grows more vague and lovely, it eludes me now.
I remember that you are gone, and drown in pain.
Something there was I said to you I recall,
Something just as the music seemed to fall
That made you laugh, and burns me still with pleasure.
What were those words the words like dripping fire?
I remember them now, and in sweet leisure
Rehearse the scene, more exquisite than before,
And you more beautiful, and I more wise.
Lilacs and spring, and night, and your clear eyes,
And you, in white, by the darkness of a door:
These things, like voices weaving to richest music,
Flow and fall in the cool night of my mind,
I pursue your ghost among green leaves that are ghostly,
I pursue you, but cannot find.
And suddenly, with a pang that is sweetest of all,
I become aware that I cannot remember you;
The ghost I knew
Has silently plunged in shadows, shadows that stream and fall.
Let us go in and dance once more
On the dream’s glimmering floor,
Beneath the balcony festooned with roses.
Let us go in and dance once more.
The door behind us closes
Against an evening purple with stars and mist.
Let us go in and keep our tryst
With music and white roses, and spin around
In swirls of sound.
Do you foresee me, married and grown old?
And you, who smile about you at this room,
Is it foretold
That you must step from tumult into gloom,
Forget me, love another?
No, you are Cleopatra, fiercely young,
Laughing upon the topmost stair of night;
Roses upon the desert must be flung;
Above us, light by light,
Weaves the delirious darkness, petal fall,
And music breaks in waves on the pillared wall;
And you are Cleopatra, and do not care.
And so, in memory, you will always be
Young and foolish, a thing of dream and mist;
And so, perhaps when all is disillusioned,
And eternal spring returns once more,
Bringing a ghost of lovelier springs remembered,
You will remember me.
Yet when we meet we seem in silence to say,
Pretending serene forgetfulness of our youth,
“Do you remember but then why should you remember!
Do you remember a certain day,
Or evening rather, spring evening long ago,
We talked of death, and love, and time, and truth,
And said such wise things, things that amused us so
How foolish we were, who thought ourselves so wise!”
And then we laugh, with shadows in our eyes.
– Conrad Potter Aiken
In the green and gallant Spring,
Love and the lyre I thought to sing,
And kisses sweet to give and take
By the flowery hawthorn brake.
Now is russet Autumn here,
Death and the grave and winter drear,
And I must ponder here aloof
While the rain is on the roof.
– Robert Louis Stevenson