Wednesday, June 29, 2011

A Ballad



To that dear nymph, whose pow'rful name
Does every throbbing nerve inflame
(As the soft sound I low repeat,
My pulse unequal measures beat),
Whose eyes I never more shall see,
That once so sweetly shin'd on thee;
Go, gentle wind! and kindly bear
My tender wishes to the fair.
Hoh, ho, ho, &c.

Amidst her pleasures let her know
The secret anguish of my woe,
The midnight pang, the jealous hell,
Does in this tortur'd bosom dwell:
While laughing she, and full of play,
Is with her young companions gay;
Or hearing in some fragrant bower
Her lover's sigh, and beauty's power.
Hoh, ho, ho, &c.

Lost and forgotten may I be!
Oh may no pitying thought of me
Disturb the joy that she may find,
When love is crown'd and fortune kind:
May that bless'd swain (whom yet I hate)
Be proud of his distinguish'd fate:
Each happy night be like the first;
And he be bless'd as I am curs'd.
Hoh, ho, ho, &c.

While in these pathless woods I stray,
And lose my solitary way;
Talk to the stars, to trees complain,
And tell the senseless words my pain:
But madness spares the sacred name,
Nor dares the hidden wound proclaim;
Which, secret rankling, sure and slow,
Shall close in endless peace my woe.
Hoh, ho, ho, &c.

When this fond heart shall ache no more,
And all the ills of life are o'er
(If gods by lovers' prayers are mov'd,
As ev'ry god in heaven has lov'd);
Instead of bright Elysian joys,
That unknown something in the skies,
In recompense of all my pain,
The only heaven I'd obtain,
May I, the guardian of her charms,
Preserve that paradise from harms.
Hoh, ho, ho, &c.

Lady Mary Wortley Montagu

A Song From The Italian



By a dismal cypress lying,
Damon cried, all pale and dying,
Kind is death that ends my pain,
But cruel she I lov'd in vain.
The mossy fountains
Murmur my trouble,
And hollow mountains
My groans redouble:
Ev'ry nymph mourns me,
Thus while I languish;
She only scorns me,
Who caus'd my anguish.
No love returning me, but all hope denying;
By a dismal cypress lying,
Like a swan, so sung he dying:
Kind is death that ends my pain,
But cruel she I lov'd in vain.

John Dryden

A word is dead



A word is dead
When it is said,
Some say.
I say it just
Begins to live
That day.

Emily Dickinson

To a Lady Making Love



Good madam, when ladies are willing,
...A man must needs look like a fool;
For me I would not give a shilling
...For one who would love out of rule.

You should leave us to guess by your blushing,
...And not speak the matter so plain;
'Tis our's to write and be pushing,
...'Tis yours to affect disdain.

That you're in a terrible taking,
...By all these sweet oglings I see,
But the fruit that can fall without shaking,
...Indeed is too mellow for me.

Lady Mary Wortley Montagu

Esther, A Sonnet Sequence: XVII



I touched that knee. She did not show surprise,
And the earth had not opened at our feet.
She did not even laugh. Her foolish eyes
Twinkled a moment in her cheeks, then set
Like fog--bound stars for ever from my sight.
And at a signal from the little woman,
Who clung to me still, a chorus left and right
Of laughter rose Homeric and inhuman,
Drowning all further sense in one wild roar.
I heard the spotted girl with leopard lips
Complain that she was hungry as before,
And all the world was merged in an eclipse,
Darkening the air around and overhead,
And then I broke away and turned and fled.

Wilfrid Scawen Blunt

Self-Love



HE that cannot choose but love,
And strives against it still,
Never shall my fancy move,
For he loves against his will ;
Nor he which is all his own,
And cannot pleasure choose ;
When I am caught he can be gone,
And when he list refuse ;
Nor he that loves none but fair,
For such by all are sought ;
Nor he that can for foul ones care,
For his judgement then is nought ;
Nor he that hath wit, for he
Will make me his jest or slave ;
Nor a fool when others —
He can neither —
Nor he that still his mistress prays,
For she is thrall'd therefore ;
Nor he that pays, not, for he says
Within, she's worth no more.
Is there then no kind of men
Whom I may freely prove?
I will vent that humour then
In mine own self-love.

John Donne

Illicit



Of what she said to me that night—no matter.
The strange thing came next day.
My brain was full of music—something she played me—;
I couldn't remember it all, but phrases of it
Wreathed and wreathed among faint memories,
Seeking for something, trying to tell me something,
Urging to restlessness: verging on grief.
I tried to play the tune, from memory,—
But memory failed: the chords and discords climbed
And found no resolution—only hung there,
And left me morbid . . . Where, then, had I heard it? . . .
What secret dusty chamber was it hinting?
'Dust', it said, 'dust . . . and dust . . . and sunlight . .
A cold clear April evening . . . snow, bedraggled,
Rain-worn snow, dappling the hideous grass . . .
And someone walking alone; and someone saying
That all must end, for the time had come to go . . . '
These were the phrases . . . but behind, beneath them
A greater shadow moved: and in this shadow
I stood and guessed . . . Was it the blue-eyed lady?
The one who always danced in golden slippers—
And had I danced with her,—upon this music?
Or was it further back—the unplumbed twilight
Of childhood?—No—much recenter than that.

You know, without my telling you, how sometimes
A word or name eludes you, and you seek it
Through running ghosts of shadow,—leaping at it,
Lying in wait for it to spring upon it,
Spreading faint snares for it of sense or sound:
Until, of a sudden, as if in a phantom forest,
You hear it, see it flash among the branches,
And scarcely knowing how, suddenly have it—
Well, it was so I followed down this music,
Glimpsing a face in darkness, hearing a cry,
Remembering days forgotten, moods exhausted,
Corners in sunlight, puddles reflecting stars—;
Until, of a sudden, and least of all suspected,
The thing resolved itself: and I remembered
An April afternoon, eight years ago—
Or was it nine?—no matter—call it nine—
A room in which the last of sunlight faded;
A vase of violets, fragrance in white curtains;
And, she who played the same thing later, playing.

She played this tune. And in the middle of it
Abruptly broke it off, letting her hands
Fall in her lap. She sat there so a moment,
With shoulders drooped, then lifted up a rose,
One great white rose, wide opened like a lotos,
And pressed it to her cheek, and closed her eyes.

'You know—we've got to end this—Miriam loves you . . .
If she should ever know, or even guess it,—
What would she do?—Listen!—I'm not absurd . . .
I'm sure of it. If you had eyes, for women—
To understand them—which you've never had—
You'd know it too . . . ' So went this colloquy,
Half humorous, with undertones of pathos,
Half grave, half flippant . . . while her fingers, softly,
Felt for this tune, played it and let it fall,
Now note by singing note, now chord by chord,
Repeating phrases with a kind of pleasure . . .
Was it symbolic of the woman's weakness
That she could neither break it—nor conclude?
It paused . . . and wandered . . . paused again; while she,
Perplexed and tired, half told me I must go,—
Half asked me if I thought I ought to go . . .

Well, April passed with many other evenings,
Evenings like this, with later suns and warmer,
With violets always there, and fragrant curtains . . .
And she was right: and Miriam found it out . . .
And after that, when eight deep years had passed—
Or nine—we met once more,—by accident . . .
But was it just by accident, I wonder,
She played this tune?—Or what, then, was intended? . . .

Conrad Potter Aiken

The Castaway



Obscurest night involv'd the sky,
Th' Atlantic billows roar'd,
When such a destin'd wretch as I,
Wash'd headlong from on board,
Of friends, of hope, of all bereft,
His floating home for ever left.

No braver chief could Albion boast
Than he with whom he went,
Nor ever ship left Albion's coast,
With warmer wishes sent.
He lov'd them both, but both in vain,
Nor him beheld, nor her again.

Not long beneath the whelming brine,
Expert to swim, he lay;
Nor soon he felt his strength decline,
Or courage die away;
But wag'd with death a lasting strife,
Supported by despair of life.

He shouted: nor his friends had fail'd
To check the vessel's course,
But so the furious blast prevail'd,
That, pitiless perforce,
They left their outcast mate behind,
And scudded still before the wind.

Some succour yet they could afford;
And, such as storms allow,
The cask, the coop, the floated cord,
Delay'd not to bestow.
But he (they knew) nor ship, nor shore,
Whate'er they gave, should visit more.

Nor, cruel as it seem'd, could he
Their haste himself condemn,
Aware that flight, in such a sea,
Alone could rescue them;
Yet bitter felt it still to die
Deserted, and his friends so nigh.

He long survives, who lives an hour
In ocean, self-upheld;
And so long he, with unspent pow'r,
His destiny repell'd;
And ever, as the minutes flew,
Entreated help, or cried-Adieu!

At length, his transient respite past,
His comrades, who before
Had heard his voice in ev'ry blast,
Could catch the sound no more.
For then, by toil subdued, he drank
The stifling wave, and then he sank.

No poet wept him: but the page
Of narrative sincere;
That tells his name, his worth, his age,
Is wet with Anson's tear.
And tears by bards or heroes shed
Alike immortalize the dead.

I therefore purpose not, or dream,
Descanting on his fate,
To give the melancholy theme
A more enduring date:
But misery still delights to trace
Its semblance in another's case.

No voice divine the storm allay'd,
No light propitious shone;
When, snatch'd from all effectual aid,
We perish'd, each alone:
But I beneath a rougher sea,
And whelm'd in deeper gulfs than he.

William Cowper

A throe upon the features



A throe upon the features—
A hurry in the breath—
An ecstasy of parting
Denominated "Death"—

An anguish at the mention
Which when to patience grown,
I've known permission given
To rejoin its own.

Emily Dickinson

The King and the Sea



After His Realms and States were moved
To bare their hearts to the King they loved,
Tendering themselves in homage and devotion,
The Tide Wave up the Channel spoke
To all those eager, exultant folk:-
'Hear now what Man was given you by the Ocean!

'There was no thought of Orb or Crown
When the single wooden chest went down
To the steering-flat, and the careless Gunroom haled him
To learn by ancient and bitter use,
How neither Favour nor Excuse,
Nor aught save his sheer self henceforth availed him.

'There was no talk of birth or rank
By the slung hammock or scrubbed plank
In the steel-grated prisons where 1 cast him;
But niggard hours and a narrow space
For rest-and the naked light on his face-
While the ship's traffic flowed, unceasing, past him.

'Thus I schooled him to go and come-
To speak at the word-at a sign be dumb;
To stand to his task, not seeking others to aid him;
To share in honour what praise might fall
For the task accomplished, and-over all-
To swallow rebuke in silence. Thus I made him.

'I loosened every mood of the deep
On him, a child and sick for sleep,
Through the long watches that no time can measure,
When I drove him, deafened and choked and blind,
At the wave-tops cut and spun by the wind;
Lashing him, face and eyes, with my displeasure.

'I opened him all the guile of the seas-
Their sullen, swift-sprung treacheries,
To be fought, or forestalled, or dared, or dismissed with laughter.
I showed him Worth by Folly concealed,
And the flaw in the soul that a chance revealed
(Lessons remembered-to bear fruit thereafter).
'I dealt him Power beneath his hand,
For trial and proof, with his first Command-
Himself alone, and no man to gainsay him.
On him the End, the Means, and the Word,
And the harsher judgment if he erred,
And-outboard-Ocean waiting to betray him.

'Wherefore, when he came to be crowned,
Strength in Duty held him bound,
So that not Power misled nor ease ensnared him
Who had spared himself no more than his seas had spared him!'

After His Lieges, in all His Lands,
Had laid their hands between His hands,
And His ships thundered service and devotion,
The Tide Wave, ranging the Planet, spoke
On all Our foreshores as it broke:-
'Know now what Man 1 gave you-I, the Ocean!'

Rudyard Kipling

The Temple of Fame



In that soft season, when descending show'rs
Call forth the greens, and wake the rising flow'rs;
When op'ning buds salute the welcome day,
And earth relenting feels the genial day,
As balmy sleep had charm'd my cares to rest,
And love itself was banish'd from my breast,
(What time the morn mysterious visions brings,
While purer slumbers spread their golden wings)
A train of phantoms in wild order rose,
And, join'd, this intellectual sense compose.
I stood, methought, betwixt earth, seas, and skies;
The whole creation open to my eyes:
In air self-balanc'd hung the globe below,
Where mountains rise and circling oceans flow;
Here naked rocks, and empty wastes were seen,
There tow'ry cities, and the forests green:
Here sailing ships delight the wand'ring eyes:
There trees, and intermingled temples rise;
Now a clear sun the shining scene displays,
The transient landscape now in clouds decays.
O'er the wide Prospect as I gaz'd around,
Sudden I heard a wild promiscuous sound,
Like broken thunders that at distance roar,
Then gazing up, a glorious pile beheld,
Whose tow'ring summit ambient clouds conceal'd.
High on a rock of Ice the structure lay,
Steep its ascent, and slipp'ry was the way;
The wond'rous rock like Parian marble shone,
And seem'd, to distant sight, of solid stone.
Inscriptions here of various Names I view'd,
The greater part by hostile time subdu'd;
Yet wide was spread their fame in ages past,
And Poets once had promis'd they should last.
Some fresh engrav'd appear'd of Wits renown'd;
I look'd again, nor could their trace be found.
Critics I saw, that other names deface,
And fix their own, with labour, in their place:
Their own, like others, soon their place resign'd,
Or disappear'd, and left the first behind.
Nor was the work impair'd by storms alone,
But felt th' approaches of too warm a sun;
For Fame, impatient of extremes, decays
Not more by Envy than excess of Praise.
Yet part no injuries of heav'n could feel,
Like crystal faithful to th' graving steel:
The rock's high summit, in the temple's shade,
Nor heat could melt, nor beating storm invade.
Their names inscrib'd, unnumber'd ages past
From time's first birth, with time itself shall last;
These ever new, nor subject to decays,
Spread, and grow brighter with the length of days.
So Zembla's rocks (the beauteous work of frost)
Rise white in air, and glitter o'er the coast;
Pale suns, unfelt, at distance roll away,
And on th' impassive ice the light'nings play;
Eternal snows the growing mass supply,
Till the bright mountains prop th' incumbent sky:
As Atlas fix'd, each hoary pile appears,
The gather'd winter of a thousand years.
On this foundation Fame's high temple stands;
Stupendous pile! not rear'd by mortal hands.
Whate'er proud Rome or artful Greece beheld,
Or elder Babylon, its frame excell'd.
Four faces had the dome, and ev'ry face
Of various structure, but of equal grace:
Four brazen gates, on columns lifted high,
Salute the diff'rent quarters of the sky.
Here fabled Chiefs in darker ages born,
Or Worthies old, whom arms or arts adorn,
Who cities rais'd, or tam'd a monstrous race;
The walls in venerable order grace:
Heroes in animated marble frown,
And Legislators seem to think in stone.
Westward, a sumptuous frontispiece appear'd,
On Doric pillars of white marble rear'd,
Crown'd with an architrave of antique mold,
And sculpture rising on the roughen'd mold,
In shaggy spoils here Theseus was beheld,
And Perseus dreadful with Minerva's shield:
There great Alcides stooping with his toil,
Rests on his club, and holds th' Hesperian spoil.
Here Orpheus sings; trees moving to the sound
Start from their roots, and form a shade around:
Amphion there the loud creating lyre
Strikes, and beholds a sudden Thebes aspire!
Cithaeron's echoes answer to his call,
And half the mountain rolls into a wall:
There might you see the length'ning spires ascend,
The domes swell up, the wid'ning arches bend,
The growing tow'rs, like exhalations rise,
And the huge columns heave into the skies.
The Eastern front was glorious to behold,
With di'mond flaming, and Barbaric gold.
There Ninus shone, who spread th' Assyrian fame,
And the great founder of the Persian name:
There in long robes the royal Magi stand,
Grave Zoroaster waves the circling wand,
The sage Chaldaeans rob'd in white appear'd,
And Brahmans, deep in desert woods rever'd.
These stop'd the moon, and call'd th' unbody'd shades
To midnight banquets in the glimm'ring glades;
Made visionary fabrics round them rise,
And airy spectres skim before their eyes;
Of Talismans and Sigils knew the pow'r,
And careful watch'd the Planetary hour.
Superior, and alone, Confucius stood,
Who taught that useful science, to be good.
But on the South, a long majestic race
Of AEgypt's Priests the gilded niches grace,
Who measur'd earth, describ'd the starry spheres,
And trac'd the long records of lunar years.
High on his car Sesostris struck my view,
Whom scepter'd slaves in golden harness drew:
His hands a bow and pointed javelin hold;
His giant limbs are arm'd in scales of gold.
Between the statues Obelisks were plac'd,
And the learn'd walls with Hieroglyphics grac'd.
Of Gothic structure was the Northern side,
O'erwrought with ornaments of barb'rous pride.
There huge Colosses rose, with trophies crown'd,
And Runic characters were grav'd around.
There sate Zamolxis with erected eyes,
And Odin here in mimic trances dies.
There on rude iron columns, smear'd with blood,
The horrid forms of Scythian heroes stood,
Druids and Bards (their once loud harps unstrung)
And youths that died to be by Poets sung.
These and a thousand more of doubtful fame,
To whom old fables gave a lasting name,
In ranks adorn'd the Temple's outward face;
The wall in lustre and effect like Glass,
Which o'er each object casting various dyes,
Enlarges some, and others multiplies:
Nor void of emblem was the mystic wall,
For thus romantic Fame increases all.
The Temple shakes, the sounding gates unfold,
Wide vaults appear, and roofs of fretted gold:
Rais'd on a thousand pillars, wreath'd around
With laurel-foliage, and with eagles crown'd:
Of bright, transparent beryl were the walls,
The friezes gold, an gold the capitals:
As heav'n with stars, the roof with jewels glows,
And ever-living lamps depend in rows.
Full in the passage of each spacious gate,
The sage Historians in white garments wait;
Grav'd o'er their seats the form of Time was found,
His scythe revers'd, and both his pinions bound.
Within stood Heroes, who thro' loud alarms
In bloody fields pursu'd renown in arms.
High on a throne with trophies charg'd, I view'd
The Youth that all things but himself subdu'd;
His feet on sceptres and tiara's trod,
And his horn'd head bely'd the Libyan God.
There Caesar, grac'd with both Minerva's, shone;
Unmov'd, superior still in ev'ry state,
And scarce detested in his Country's fate.
But chief were those, who not for empire fought,
But with their toils their people's safety bought:
High o'er the rest Epaminondas stood;
Timoleon, glorious in his brother's blood;
Bold Scipio, saviour of the Roman state;
Great in his triumphs, in retirement great;
And wise Aurelius, in whose well-taught mind
With boundless pow'r unbounded virtue join'd,
His own strict judge, and patron of mankind.
Much-suff'ring heroes next their honours claim,
Those of less noisy, and less guilty fame,
Fair Virtue's silent train: supreme of these
Here ever shines the godlike Socrates:
He whom ungrateful Athens could expell,
At all times just, but when he sign'd the Shell:
Here his abode the martyr'd Phocion claims,
With Agis, not the last of Spartan names:
Unconquered Cato shews the wound he tore,
And Brutus his ill Genius meets no more.
But in the centre of the hallow'd choir,
Six pompous columns o'er the rest aspire;
Around the shrine itself of Fame they stand,
Hold the chief honours, and the fane command.
High on the first, the mighty Homer shone;
Eternal Adamant compos'd his throne;
Father of verse! in holy fillets drest,
His silver beard wav'd gently o'er his breast;
Tho' blind, a boldness in his looks appears;
In years he seem'd, but not impair'd by years.
The wars of Troy were round the Pillar seen:
Here fierce Tydides wounds the Cyprian Queen;
Here Hector glorious from Patroclus' fall,
Here dragg'd in triumph round the Trojan wall,
Motion and life did ev'ry part inspire,
Bold was the work, and prov'd the master's fire;
A strong expression most he seem'd t' affect,
And here and there disclos'd a brave neglect.

A golden column next in rank appear'd,
On which a shrine of purest gold was rear'd;
Finish'd the whole, and labour'd ev'ry part,
With patient touches of unweary'd art:
The Mantuan there in sober triumph sate,
Compos'd his posture, and his look sedate;
On Homer still he fix'd a rev'rend eye,
Great without pride, in modest majesty.
In living sculpture on the sides were spread
The Latian Wars, and haughty Turnus dead;
Eliza stretch'd upon the fun'ral pyre,
AEneas ending with his aged sire:
Troy flam'd in burning gold, and o'er the throne
Arms of the Man in golden cyphers shone.
Four swans sustain a car of silver bright,
With heads advanc'd, and pinions stretch'd for flight:
Here, like some furious prophet, Pindar rode,
And seem'd to labour with th' inspiring God.
Across the harp a careless hand he flings,
And boldly sinks into the sounding strings.
The figur'd games of Greece the column grace,
Neptune and Jove survey the rapid race.
The youths hand o'er their chariots as they run;
The fiery steeds seem starting from the stone;
The champions in distorted postures threat;
And all appear'd irregularly great.
Here happy Horace tun'd th' Ausonian lyre
To sweeter sounds, and temper'd Pindar's fire:
Pleas'd with Alcaeus' manly rage t' infuse
The softer spirit of the Sapphic Muse.
The polish'd pillar diff'rent sculptures grace;
A work outlasting monumental brass.
Here smiling Loves and Bacchanals appear,
The Julian star, and great Augustus here,
The Doves that round the infant poet spread
Myrtles and bays, hung hov'ring o'er his head.
Here in a shrine that cast a dazzling light,
Sate fix'd in thought the mighty Stagirite;
His sacred head a radiant Zodiac crown'd,
And various Animals his sides surround;
His piercing eyes, erect, appear to view
Superior worlds, and look all Nature through.
With equal rays immortal Tully shone,
The Roman Rostra deck'd the Consul's throne:
Gath'ring his flowing robe, he seem'd to stand
In act to speak, and graceful stretch'd his hand.
Behind, Rome's Genius waits with Civic crowns,
And the great Father of his country owns.
These massy columns in a circle rise,
O'er which a pompous dome invades the skies:
Scarce to the top I stretch'd my aching sight,
So large it spread, and swell'd to such a height.
Full in the midst proud Fame's imperial seat,
With jewels blaz'd, magnificently great;
The vivid em'ralds there revive the eye,
The flaming rubies shew their sanguine dye,
Bright azure rays from lively sapphrys stream,
And lucid amber casts a golden gleam.
With various-colour'd light the pavement shone,
And all on fire appear'd the glowing throne;
The dome's high arch reflects the mingled blaze,
And forms a rainbow of alternate rays.
When on the Goddess first I cast my sight,
Scarce seem'd her stature of a cubit's height;
But swell'd to larger size, the more I gaz'd,
Till to the roof her tow'ring front she rais'd.
With her, the Temple ev'ry moment grew,
And ampler Vista's open'd to my view:
Upward the columns shoot, the roofs ascend,
And arches widen, and long aisles extend.
Such was her form as ancient bards have told,
Wings raise her arms, and wings her feet infold;
A thousand busy tongues the Goddess bears,
And thousand open eyes, and thousand list'ning ears.
Beneath, in order rang'd, the tuneful Nine
(Her virgin handmaids) still attend the shrine:
With eyes on Fame for ever fix'd, they sing;
For Fame they raise the voice, and tune the string;
With time's first birth began the heav'nly lays,
And last, eternal, thro' the length of days.

Around these wonders as I cast a look,
The trumpet sounded, and the temple shoo,
And all the nations, summon'd at the call,
From diff'rent quarters fill the crowded hall:
Of various tongues the mingled sounds were heard;
In various garbs promiscuous throngs appear'd;
Thick as the bees, that with the spring renew
Their flow'ry toils, and sip the fragrant dew,
When the wing'd colonies first tempt the sky,
O'er dusky fields and shaded waters fly,
Or settling, seize the sweets the blossoms yield,
And a low murmur runs along the field.
Millions of suppliant crowds the shrine attend,
And all degrees before the Goddess bend;
The poor, the rich, the valiant and the sage,
And boasting youth, and narrative old-age.
Their pleas were diff'rent, their request the same:
For good and bad alike are fond of Fame.
Some she disgrac'd, and some with honours crown'd;
Unlike successes equal merits found.
Thus her blind sister, fickle Fortune, reigns,
And, undiscerning, scatters crowns and chains.
First at the shrine the Learned world appear,
And to the Goddess thus prefer their play'r.
'Long have we sought t' instruct and please mankind,
With studies pale, with midnight vigils blind;
But thank'd by few, rewarded yet by none,
We here appeal to thy superior throne:
On wit and learning the just prize bestow,
For fame is all we must expect below.'
The Goddess heard, and bade the Muses raise
The golden Trumpet of eternal Praise:
From pole to pole the winds diffuse the sound,
That fills the circuit of the world around;
Not all at once, as thunder breaks the cloud;
The notes at first were rather sweet than loud:
By just degrees they ev'ry moment rise,
Fill the wide earth, and gain upon the skies.
At ev'ry breath were balmy odours shed,
Which still grew sweeter as they wider spread;
Less fragrant scents th' unfolding rose exhales,
Or spices breathing in Arabian gales.
Next these the good and just, an awful train,
Thus on their knees address the sacred fane.
'Since living virtue is with envy curs'd,
And the best men are treated like the worst,
Do thou, just Goddess, call our merits forth,
And give each deed th' exact intrinsic worth.'
'Not with bare justice shall your act be crown'd'
(Said Fame) 'but high above desert renown'd:
Let fuller notes th' applauding world amaze,
And the full loud clarion labour in your praise.'
This band dismiss'd, behold another croud
The constant tenour of whose well-spent days
No less deserv'd a just return of praise.
But strait the direful Trump of Slander sounds;
Thro' the big dome the doubling thunder bounds;
Loud as the burst of cannon rends the skies,
The dire report thro' ev'ry region flies,
In ev'ry ear incessant rumours rung,
And gath'ring scandals grew on ev'ry tongue.
From the black trumpet's rusty concave broke
Sulphureous flames, and clouds of rolling smoke:
The pois'nous vapour blots the purple skies,
And withers all before it as it flies.
A troop came next, who crowns and armour wore,
And proud defiance in their looks they bore:
'For thee' (they cry'd) 'amidst alarms and strife,
We sail'd in tempests down the stream of life;
For thee whole nations fill'd with flames and blood,
And swam to empire thro' the purple flood.
Those ills we dar'd, thy inspiration own,
What virtue seem'd, was done for thee alone.'
'Ambitious fools!' (the Queen reply'd, and frown'd)
'Be all your acts in dark oblivion drown'd;
There sleep forgot, with mighty tyrants gone,
Your statues moulder'd, and your names unknown!'
A sudden cloud straight snatch'd them from my sight,
And each majestic phantom sunk in night.
Then came the smallest tribe I yet had seen;
Plain was their dress, and modest was their mien.
'Great idol of mankind! we neither claim
The praise of merit, nor aspire to fame!
But safe in deserts from th' applause of men,
Would die unheard of, as we liv'd unseen,
'Tis all we beg thee, to conceal from sight
Those acts of goodness, which themselves requite.
To follow virtue ev'n for virtue's sake.'
'And live there men, who slight immortal fame?
Who then with incense shall adore our name?
But mortals! know, 'tis still our greatest pride
To blaze those virtues, which the good would hide.
Rise! Muses, rise; add all your tuneful breath,
These must not sleep in darkness and in death.'
She said: in air the trembling music floats,
And on the winds triumphant swell the notes;
So soft, tho' high, so loud, and yet so clear,
Ev'n list'ning Angels lean'd from heav'n to hear:
To farthest shores th' Ambrosial spirit flies,
Sweet to the world, and grateful to the skies.
Next these a youthful train their vows express'd,
With feathers crown'd, with gay embroid'ry dress'd:
'Hither,' they cry'd, 'direct your eyes, and see
The men of pleasure, dress, and gallantry;
Ours is the place at banquets, balls, and plays,
Sprightly our nights, polite are all our days;
Courts we frequent, where 'tis our pleasing care
To pay due visits, and address the fair:
In fact, 'tis true, no nymph we could persuade,
But still in fancy vanquish'd ev'ry maid;
Of unknown Duchesses lewd tales we tell,
Yet, would the world believe us, all were well.
The joy let others have, and we the name,
And what we want in pleasure, grant in fame.'
The Queen assents, the trumpet rends the skies,
And at each blast a Lady's honour dies.
Pleas'd with the strange success, vast numbers prest
Around the shrine, and made the same request:
'What? you,' (she cry'd) 'unlearn'd in arts to please,
Slaves to yourselves, and ev'n fatigu'd with ease,
Who lose a length of undeserving days,
Would you usurp the lover's dear-bought praise?
To just contempt, ye vain pretenders, fall,
The people's fable, and the scorn of all.'
Straight the black clarion sends a horrid sound,
Loud laughs burst out, and bitter scoffs fly round,
Whispers are heard, with taunts reviling loud,
And scornful hisses run thro' the crowd.
Last, those who boast of mighty mischiefs done,
Enslave their country, or usurp a throne;
Or who their glory's dire foundation lay'd
On Sov'reigns ruin'd, or on friends betray'd;
Calm, thinking villains, whom no faith could fix,
Of crooked counsels and dark politics;
Of these a gloomy tribe surround the throne,
And beg to make th' immortal treasons known.
The trumpet roars, long flaky flames expire,
With sparks, that seem'd to set the world on fire.
At the dread sound, pale mortals stood aghast,
And startled nature trembled with the blast.
This having heard and seen, and snatch'd me from the throne.
Before my view appear'd a structure fair,
Its site uncertain, if in earth or air;
With rapid motion turn'd the mansion round;
With ceaseless noise the ringing walls resound;
Not less in number were the spacious doors,
Than leaves on trees, or sand upon the shores;
Which still unfolded stand, by night, by day,
Pervious to winds, and open ev'ry way.
As flames by nature to the skies ascend,
As weighty bodies to the centre tend,
As to the sea returning rivers toll,
And the touch'd needle trembles to the pole;
Hither, as to their proper place, arise
All various sounds from earth, and seas, and skies,
Or spoke aloud, or whisper'd in the ear;
Nor ever silence, rest, or peace is here.
As on the smooth expanse of crystal lakes
The sinking stone at first a circle makes;
The trembling surface by the motion stir'd,
Spreads in a second circle, then a third;
Wide, and more wide, the floating rings advance,
Fill all the wat'ry plain, and to the margin dance:
Thus ev'ry voice and sound, when first they break,
On neighb'ring air a soft impression make;
Another ambient circle then they move;
That, in its turn, impels the next above;
Thro' undulating air the sounds are sent,
And spread o'er all the fluid element.
There various news I heard of love and strife,
Of peace and war, health, sickness, death, and life,
Of loss and gain, of famine and of store,
Of storms at sea, and travels on the shore,
Of prodigies, and portents seen in air,
Of fires and plagues, and stars with blazing hair,
Of turns of fortune, changes in the state,
The falls of fav'rites, projects of the great,
Of old mismanagements, taxations new:
All neither wholly false, nor wholly true.
Above, below, without, within, around.
Confus'd, unnumber'd multitudes are found,
Who pass, repass, advance, and glide away;
Hosts rais'd by fear, and phantoms of a day:
Astrologers, that future fates foreshew,
Projectors, quacks, and lawyers not a few;
And priests, and party-zealots, num'rous bands
With home-born lies, or tales from foreign lands;
Each talk'd aloud, or in some secret place,
And wild impatience star'd in ev'ry face.
The flying rumours gather'd as they roll'd,
Scarce any tale was sooner heard than told;
And all who told it added something new,
And all who heard it, made enlargements too,
In ev'ry ear it spread, on ev'ry tongue it grew.
Thus flying east and west, and north and south,
News travel'd with increase from mouth to mouth.
So from a spark, that kindled first by chance,
With gath'ring force the quick'ning flames advance;
Till to the clouds their curling heads aspire,
And tow'rs and temples sink in floods of fire.
When thus ripe lies are to perfection sprung,
Full grown, and fit to grace a mortal tongue,
Thro' thousand vents, impatient, forth they flow,
And rush in millions on the world below.
Fame sits aloft, and points them out their course,
Their date determines, and prescribes their force:
Some to remain, and some to perish soon;
Or wane and wax alternate like the moon.
Around, a thousand winged wonders fly,
Borne by the trumpet's blast, and scatter'd thro' the sky.
There, at one passage, oft you might survey
A lie and truth contending for the way;
And long 'twas doubtful, both so closely pent,
Which first should issue thro' the narrow vent:
At last agreed, together out they fly,
Inseparable now, the truth and lie;
The strict companions are for ever join'd,
And this or that unmix'd, no mortal e'er shall find.
While thus I stood, intent to see and hear,
One came, methought, and whisper'd in my ear:
What could thus high thy rash ambition raise?
Art thou, fond youth, a candidate for praise?
'Tis true, said I, not void of hopes I came,
For who so fond as youthful bards of Fame?
But few, alas! the casual blessing boast,
So hard to gain, so easy to be lost.
How vain that second life in others breath,
Th' estate which wits inherit after death!
Ease, health, and life, for this they must resign,
(Unsure the tenure, but how vast the fine!)
The great man's curse, without the gains endure,
Be envy'd, wretched, and be flatter'd, poor;
All luckless wits their enemies profest,
And all successful, jealous friends at best.
Nor Fame I slight, nor for her favours call;
She comes unlook'd for, if she comes at all.
But if the purchase costs so dear a price,
As soothing Folly, or exalting Vice:
Oh! if the Muse must flatter lawless sway,
And follow still where fortune leads the way;
Or if no basis bear my rising name,
But the fall'n ruin of another's fame;
Then teach me, heav'n! to scorn the guilty bays,
Drive from my breast that wretched lust of praise,
Unblemish'd let me live, or die unknown;
Oh grant an honest fame, or grant me none!

Alexander Pope

Where's the Poet?



Where's the Poet? show him! show him,
Muses nine! that I may know him.
'Tis the man who with a man
Is an equal, be he King,
Or poorest of the beggar-clan
Or any other wonderous thing
A man may be 'twixt ape and Plato;
'Tis the man who with a bird,
Wren or Eagle, finds his way to
All its instincts; he hath heard
The Lion's roaring, and can tell
What his horny throat expresseth,
And to him the Tiger's yell
Come articulate and presseth
Or his ear like mother-tongue.

John Keats

I can

"I can, therefore I am."

Simone Weil

Dangerous

"Nothing is more dangerous than an idea, when you have only one idea."

Alain

How books work

My friend said,'You have to read this book. It's a real page-turner.' I said, 'I know how books work.'

Jimmy Carr

Treasure

Your treasure house is within; it contains all you'll ever need.

Hui-Hai

Nightmare

All evil is like a nightmare; the instant you stir under it, the evil is gone.

Carlyle, Thomas

Brave

No one can be brave who considers pain to be the greatest evil in life, or can they be temperate who considers pleasure to be the highest good.

Cicero, Marcus T.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

from Dover Beach



Ah, love, let us be true
To one another! for the world, which seems
To lie before us like a land of dreams,
So various, so beautiful, so new,
Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light,
Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain;
And we are here as on a darkling plain
Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight,
Where ignorant armies clash by night.

Matthew Arnold

Change should breed Change



NEW doth the sun appear,
The mountains' snows decay,
Crown'd with frail flowers forth comes the baby year.
My soul, time posts away;
And thou yet in that frost
Which flower and fruit hath lost,
As if all here immortal were, dost stay.
For shame! thy powers awake,
Look to that Heaven which never night makes black,
And there at that immortal sun's bright rays,
Deck thee with flowers which fear not rage of days!

William Henry Drummond