Erewhile of music, and ethereal mirth,
Wherewith the stage of Air and Earth did ring,
And joyous news of heavenly Infant’s birth,
My muse with Angels did divide to sing;
But headlong joy is ever on the wing,
In wintry solstice like the shortened light
Soon swallowed up in dark and long outliving night.
For now to sorrow must I tune my song,
And set my Harp to notes of saddest woe,
Which on our dearest Lord did seize ere long,
Dangers, and snares, and wrongs, and worse than so,
Which he for us did freely undergo:
Most perfect Hero, tried in heaviest plight
Of labours huge and hard, too hard for human wight!
He, sovran Priest, stooping his regal head,
That dropt with odorous oil down his fair eyes,
Poor fleshly Tabernacle enterèd,
His starry front low-roofed beneath the skies:
Oh, what a mask was there, what a disguise!
Yet more: the stroke of death he must abide;
Then lies him meekly down fast by his Brethren’s side.
These latest scenes confine my roving verse;
To this horizon is my Phœbus bound.
His godlike acts, and his temptations fierce,
And former sufferings, otherwhere are found;
Loud o’er the rest Cremona’s trump doth sound:
Me softer airs befit, and softer strings
Of lute, or viol still, more apt for mournful things.
Befriend me, Night, best Patroness of grief!
Over the pole thy thickest mantle throw,
And work my flattered fancy to belief
That Heaven and Earth are coloured with my woe;
My sorrows are too dark for day to know:
The leaves should all be black whereon I write,
And letters, where my tears have washed, a wannish white.
See, see the chariot, and those rushing wheels,
That whirled the prophet up at Chebar flood;
My spirit some transporting Cherub feels
To bear me where the Towers of Salem stood,
Once glorious towers, now sunk in guiltless blood.
There doth my soul in holy vision sit,
In pensive trance, and anguish, and ecstatic fit.
Mine eye hath found that sad sepulchral rock
That was the casket of Heaven’s richest store,
And here, though grief my feeble hands up-lock,
Yet on the softened quarry would I score
My plaining verse as lively as before;
For sure so well instructed are my tears
That they would fitly fall in ordered characters.
Or, should I thence, hurried on viewless wing,
Take up a weeping on the mountains wild,
The gentle neighbourhood of grove and spring
Would soon unbosom all their Echoes mild;
And I (for grief is easily beguiled)
Might think the infection of my sorrows loud
Had got a race of mourners on some pregnant cloud.
This Subject the Author finding to be above the years he had when he wrote it, and nothing satisfied with what was begun, left it unfinished.
– John Milton
For her this rhyme is penned, whose luminous eyes,
Brightly expressive as the twins of Leda,
Shall find her own sweet name, that nestling lies
Upon the page, enwrapped from every reader.
Search narrowly the lines! – they hold a treasure
Divine- a talisman- an amulet
That must be worn at heart. Search well the measure-
The words- the syllables! Do not forget
The trivialest point, or you may lose your labor
And yet there is in this no Gordian knot
Which one might not undo without a sabre,
If one could merely comprehend the plot.
Enwritten upon the leaf where now are peering
Eyes scintillating soul, there lie perdus
Three eloquent words oft uttered in the hearing
Of poets, by poets- as the name is a poet’s, too,
Its letters, although naturally lying
Like the knight Pinto- Mendez Ferdinando-
Still form a synonym for Truth- Cease trying!
You will not read the riddle, though you do the best you can do.
– Edgar Allan Poe
Romance, who loves to nod and sing,
With drowsy head and folded wing,
Among the green leaves as they shake
Far down within some shadowy lake,
To me a painted paroquet
Hath been- a most familiar bird-
Taught me my alphabet to say-
To lisp my very earliest word
While in the wild wood I did lie,
A child- with a most knowing eye.
Of late, eternal Condor years
So shake the very Heaven on high
With tumult as they thunder by,
I have no time for idle cares
Through gazing on the unquiet sky.
And when an hour with calmer wings
Its down upon my spirit flings-
That little time with lyre and rhyme
To while away- forbidden things!
My heart would feel to be a crime
Unless it trembled with the strings
– Edgar Allan Poe
Hand in hand they wandered
north-eastward across the vales
during the beautiful autumn time
in England’s Yorkshire Dales.
The sun shone over the valleys
nature was never so fair,
on the day he wooed the one he loved,
the girl with the flaxen hair.
The depth of his soul was captured
by a softness, pure as the snow.
His young life he would surrender
because he adored her so.
Voices echoed from a village church
and as he knelt before his love…
he could hear Mendelssohn’s melody:
‘O For the Wings of a Dove’.
Who else within the whole wide world
could feel such ecstasy rare?
At a time when fairy-tales came true,
they both vowed their lives to share.
– Joyce Hemsley
today I went down on your body
while windows were thick white eyes
and hearkened the clogged cavities
in the small darkroom of your chest,
hedging an eternity over the aching voice
from your gorgeous throat,
agony and exaltation flow in one divide
if I may make so bold,
your thighs are a loveword your hair
night’s glittering lining of secret disport:
I aimed for the innermost moon
and rent, moved by the syntax and the slow
of sadness and of joy, so
I love you, love you so
when the blinding comes,
the discomposure of silence,
it must be high up the hills
where hundreds of poor
stamp their feet in the dust, and drums
and woman voices like this ululating skyline
gag the final ecstasy
– Breyten Breytenbach
Reject me not if I should say to you
I do forget the sounding of your voice,
I do forget your eyes that searching through
The mists perceive our marriage, and rejoice.
Yet, when the apple-blossom opens wide
Under the pallid moonlight’s fingering,
I see your blanched face at my breast, and hide
My eyes from diligent work, malingering.
Ah, then, upon my bedroom I do draw
The blind to hide the garden, where the moon
Enjoys the open blossoms as they straw
Their beauty for his taking, boon for boon.
And I do lift my aching arms to you,
And I do lift my anguished, avid breast,
And I do weep for very pain of you,
And fling myself at the doors of sleep, for rest.
And I do toss through the troubled night for you,
Dreaming your yielded mouth is given to mine,
Feeling your strong breast carry me on into
The peace where sleep is stronger even than wine.
– David Herbert Lawrence
You’re the little ray of sunshine
when dark clouds cloud my mind,
that little ray of hope
when my mind is in despair.
When it gets unbearable,
you are always there
with a smile
to chase the gloom away.
You’re the little ray of sunshine
that awakens up my mind
from negative to positive
and makes my world fine.
You’re with me each day
come sunshine or rain
as a little ray of hope
to make things fine again.
That little ray of sunshine
every one of us needs.
– David Harris
I would build a cloudy House
For my thoughts to live in;
When for earth too fancy-loose
And too low for Heaven!
Hush! I talk my dream aloud—
I build it bright to see,—
I build it on the moonlit cloud,
To which I looked with thee.
Cloud-walls of the morning’s grey,
Faced with amber column,—
Crowned with crimson cupola
From a sunset solemn!
May mists, for the casements, fetch,
Pale and glimmering;
With a sunbeam hid in each,
And a smell of spring.
Build the entrance high and proud,
Darkening and then brightening,—
If a riven thunder-cloud,
Veined by the lightning.
Use one with an iris-stain,
For the door within;
Turning to a sound like rain,
As I enter in.
Build a spacious hall thereby:
Boldly, never fearing.
Use the blue place of the sky,
Which the wind is clearing;
Branched with corridors sublime,
Flecked with winding stairs—
Such as children wish to climb,
Following their own prayers.
In the mutest of the house,
I will have my chamber:
Silence at the door shall use
Evening’s light of amber,
Solemnising every mood,
Softemng in degree,—
Turning sadness into good,
As I turn the key.
Be my chamber tapestried
With the showers of summer,
Close, but soundless,—glorified
When the sunbeams come here;
Wandering harpers, harping on
Waters stringed for such,—
Drawing colours, for a tune,
With a vibrant touch.
Bring a shadow green and still
From the chestnut forest,
Bring a purple from the hill,
When the heat is sorest;
Spread them out from wall to wall,
Whereupon the foot shall fall
In light instead of sound.
Bring the fantasque cloudlets home
From the noontide zenith
Ranged, for sculptures, round the room,—
Named as Fancy weeneth:
Some be Junos, without eyes;
Naiads, without sources
Some be birds of paradise,—
Some, Olympian horses.
Bring the dews the birds shake off,
Waking in the hedges,—
Those too, perfumed for a proof,
From the lilies’ edges:
From our England’s field and moor,
Bring them calm and white in;
Whence to form a mirror pure,
For Love’s self-delighting.
Bring a grey cloud from the east,
Where the lark is singing;
Something of the song at least,
Unlost in the bringing:
That shall be a morning chair,
Poet-dream may sit in,
When it leans out on the air,
Unrhymed and unwritten.
Bring the red cloud from the sun
While he sinketh, catch it.
That shall be a couch,—with one
Sidelong star to watch it,—
Fit for poet’s finest Thought,
At the curfew-sounding,— ;
Things unseen being nearer brought
Than the seen, around him.
Poet’s thought,—-not poet’s sigh!
‘Las, they come together!
Cloudy walls divide and fly,
As in April weather!
Cupola and column proud,
Structure bright to see—
Gone—except that moonlit cloud,
To which I looked with thee!
Let them! Wipe such visionings
From the Fancy’s cartel—
Love secures some fairer things
Dowered with his immortal.
The sun may darken,—heaven be bowed—
But still, unchanged shall be,—
Here in my soul,—that moonlit cloud,
To which I looked with THEE!
– Elizabeth Barrett Browning
Indeed this very love which is my boast,
And which, when rising up from breast to brow,
Doth crown me with ruby large enow
To draw men’s eyes and prove the inner cost,–
This love even, all my worth, to the uttermost,
I should not love withal, unless that thou
Hadst set me an example, shown me how,
When first thine earnest eyes with mine were crossed,
And love called love. And thus, I cannot speak
Of love even, as good thing of my own:
Thy soul hath snatched up mine all faint and weak,
And placed it by thee on a golden throne,–
And that I love (O soul, we must be meek–)
Is by thee only, whom I love alone.
– Elizabeth Barrett Browning
A heavy heart, Belovèd, have I borne
From year to year until I saw thy face,
And sorrow after sorrow took the place
Of all those natural joys as lightly worn
As the stringed pearls, each lifted in its turn
By a beating heart at dance-time. Hopes apace
Were changed to long despairs, till God’s own grace
Could scarcely lift above the world forlorn
My heavy heart. Than thou didst bid me bring
And let it drop adown thy calmly great
Deep being! Fast it sinketh, as a thing
Which its own nature doth precipitate,
While thine doth close above it, mediating
Betwixt the stars and the unaccomplished fate.
– Elizabeth Barrett Browning