Favourite poems

147 posts in this topic

Up down Up down Up down

The time that we have left

At night beside me, your breath

Asleep and unaware my dear

These moments precious and


Tomorrow starts another day

The same as any other

Monotony thy enemy

and yet

Your breath desolves in air

Love is all that we have left

of time of time of time


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Between my finger and my thumb

The squat pen rests; as snug as a gun.


Under my window a clean rasping sound

When the spade sinks into gravelly ground:

My father, digging. I look down


Till his straining rump among the flowerbeds

Bends low, comes up twenty years away

Stooping in rhythm through potato drills

Where he was digging.


The coarse boot nestled on the lug, the shaft

Against the inside knee was levered firmly.

He rooted out tall tops, buried the bright edge deep

To scatter new potatoes that we picked

Loving their cool hardness in our hands.


By God, the old man could handle a spade,

Just like his old man.


My grandfather could cut more turf in a day

Than any other man on Toner's bog.

Once I carried him milk in a bottle

Corked sloppily with paper. He straightened up

To drink it, then fell to right away

Nicking and slicing neatly, heaving sods

Over his shoulder, digging down and down

For the good turf. Digging.


The cold smell of potato mold, the squelch and slap

Of soggy peat, the curt cuts of an edge

Through living roots awaken in my head.

But I've no spade to follow men like them.


Between my finger and my thumb

The squat pen rests.

I'll dig with it.


Seamus Heaney


From Death of a Naturalist


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Do not go gentle into that good night,

Old age should burn and rave at close of day;

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.


Though wise men at their end know dark is right,

Because their words had forked no lightning they

Do not go gentle into that good night.


Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright

Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.


Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,

And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,

Do not go gentle into that good night.


Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight

Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.


And you, my father, there on the sad height,

Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.

Do not go gentle into that good night.

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.


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Excellent choice Topcat, Heaney captures the Irish generational change of his time with the same surety and accesibilty as Kavanagh.


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Consolation, The


Though bleak these woods and damp the ground

With fallen leaves so thickly strewn,

And cold the wind that wanders round

With wild and melancholy moan,

There is a friendly roof I know

Might shield me from the wintry blast;

There is a fire whose ruddy glow

Will cheer me for my wanderings past.


And so, though still where'er I roam

Cold stranger glances meet my eye,

Though when my spirit sinks in woe

Unheeded swells the unbidden sigh,


Though solitude endured too long

Bids youthful joys too soon decay,

Makes mirth a stranger to my tongue

And overclouds my noon of day,


When kindly thoughts that would have way

Flow back discouraged to my breast

I know there is, though far away

A home where heart and soul may rest.


Warm hands are there that clasped in mine

The warmer heart will not belie,

While mirth and truth and friendship shine

In smiling lip and earnest eye.


The ice that gathers round my heart

May there be thawed; and sweetly then

The joys of youth that now depart

Will come to cheer my soul again.


Though far I roam, this thought shall be

My hope, my comfort everywhere;

While such a home remains to me

My heart shall never know despair.


Anne Bronte


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Robert Gernhardt


„Materialien zu einer Kritik der bekanntesten

Gedichtform italienischen Ursprungs“


Sonette find ich sowas von beschissen,

so eng, rigide, irgendwie nicht gut;

es macht mich ehrlich richtig krank zu wissen,

dass wer Sonette schreibt. Dass wer noch Mut


hat, heute noch so’n dumpfen Scheiß zu bauen;

allein der Fakt, dass so ein Typ das tut,

kann mir in echt den ganzen Tag versauen.

Ich hab da eine Sperre. Und die Wut


Darüber, dass so’n abgefuckter Kacker

Mich mittels seiner Wichserein blockiert,

schafft in mir Aggressionen auf den Macker.


Ich tick nicht, was das Arschloch motiviert.

Ich tick es echt nicht. Und will’s echt nicht wissen:

Ich find Sonette unheimlich beschissen.


I read this in class a few years ago, somehow it stuck... :lol: The irony ...


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I can write the saddest lines tonight.


Write for example: ‘The night is fractured

and they shiver, blue, those stars, in the distance’


The night wind turns in the sky and sings.

I can write the saddest lines tonight.

I loved her, sometimes she loved me too.


On nights like these I held her in my arms.

I kissed her greatly under the infinite sky.


She loved me, sometimes I loved her too.

How could I not have loved her huge, still eyes.


I can write the saddest lines tonight.

To think I don’t have her, to feel I have lost her.


Hear the vast night, vaster without her.

Lines fall on the soul like dew on the grass.


What does it matter that I couldn’t keep her.

The night is fractured and she is not with me.


That is all. Someone sings far off. Far off,

my soul is not content to have lost her.


As though to reach her, my sight looks for her.

My heart looks for her: she is not with me


The same night whitens, in the same branches.

We, from that time, we are not the same.


I don’t love her, that’s certain, but how I loved her.

My voice tried to find the breeze to reach her.


Another’s kisses on her, like my kisses.

Her voice, her bright body, infinite eyes.


I don’t love her, that’s certain, but perhaps I love her.

Love is brief: forgetting lasts so long.


Since, on these nights, I held her in my arms,

my soul is not content to have lost her.


Though this is the last pain she will make me suffer,

and these are the last lines I will write for her.


Pablo N.


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Okay, now actually two of my favorite poems... Both from "The Prophet" by Khalil Gibran.


About Marriage

Then Almitra spoke again and said, "And what of Marriage, master?"

And he answered saying:

You were born together, and together you shall be forevermore.

You shall be together when white wings of death scatter your days.

Aye, you shall be together even in the silent memory of God.

But let there be spaces in your togetherness,

And let the winds of the heavens dance between you.

Love one another but make not a bond of love:

Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.

Fill each other's cup but drink not from one cup.

Give one another of your bread but eat not from the same loaf.

Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of you be alone,

Even as the strings of a lute are alone though they quiver with the same music.

Give your hearts, but not into each other's keeping.

For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts.

And stand together, yet not too near together:

For the pillars of the temple stand apart,

And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other's shadow.

About Children

And a woman who held a babe against her bosom said, "Speak to us of Children."

And he said:

Your children are not your children.

They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.

They come through you but not from you,

And though they are with you, yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts.

For they have their own thoughts.

You may house their bodies but not their souls,

For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.

You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.

For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.

The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, and He bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far.

Let your bending in the archer's hand be for gladness;

For even as he loves the arrow that flies, so He loves also the bow that is stable.


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The Shadow on the Stone ----------Thomas Hardy


  I went by the Druid stone

  That broods in garden white and lone

  And I stopped and looked at the shifting shadows

  That at some moments fll theron

  From the tree hard by with a rhythmic swing

  And they shaped that a well-known head and shouders

  Threw there when she was gardening


  I thought her behind my back

  yea, her I long had learned to lack

  And I said: I am sure you are standing behind me

  Though how do you get into the old track?

  And there was no sound but the fall of a leaf

  As a sad response, and to keep down my grief


  I would not turn my head to discover

  That there was nothing in my belief

  Yet I wanted to look and see

  That nobody stood at the back of me

  But I thought once more: nay, I'll not unvision

  A shape wich, somehow, there may be

  So I went on softly from the glade

  And left her behind me thowing her shade

  As she were indeed an apparition

  my head turned lest my dream should fade


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O young Lochinvar is come out of the west,

Through all the wide Border his steed was the best;

And save his good broadsword he weapons had none,

He rode all unarm'd, and he rode all alone.

So faithful in love, and so dauntless in war,

There never was knight like the young Lochinvar.


He staid not for brake, and he stopp'd not for stone,

He swam the Eske river where ford there was none;

But ere he alighted at Netherby gate,

The bride had consented, the gallant came late:

For a laggard in love, and a dastard in war,

Was to wed the fair Ellen of brave Lochinvar.


So boldly he enter'd the Netherby Hall,

Among bride's-men, and kinsmen, and brothers and all:

Then spoke the bride's father, his hand on his sword,

(For the poor craven bridegroom said never a word,)

"O come ye in peace here, or come ye in war,

Or to dance at our bridal, young Lord Lochinvar?"


"I long woo'd your daughter, my suit you denied; --

Love swells like the Solway, but ebbs like its tide --

And now I am come, with this lost love of mine,

To lead but one measure, drink one cup of wine.

There are maidens in Scotland more lovely by far,

That would gladly be bride to the young Lochinvar."


The bride kiss'd the goblet: the knight took it up,

He quaff'd off the wine, and he threw down the cup.

She look'd down to blush, and she look'd up to sigh,

With a smile on her lips and a tear in her eye.

He took her soft hand, ere her mother could bar, --

"Now tread we a measure!" said young Lochinvar.


So stately his form, and so lovely her face,

That never a hall such a gailiard did grace;

While her mother did fret, and her father did fume

And the bridegroom stood dangling his bonnet and plume;

And the bride-maidens whisper'd, "'twere better by far

To have match'd our fair cousin with young Lochinvar."


One touch to her hand, and one word in her ear,

When they reach'd the hall-door, and the charger stood near;

So light to the croupe the fair lady he swung,

So light to the saddle before her he sprung!

"She is won! we are gone, over bank, bush, and scaur;

They'll have fleet steeds that follow," quoth young Lochinvar.


There was mounting 'mong Graemes of the Netherby clan;

Forsters, Fenwicks, and Musgraves, they rode and they ran:

There was racing and chasing on Cannobie Lee,

But the lost bride of Netherby ne'er did they see.

So daring in love, and so dauntless in war,

Have ye e'er heard of gallant like young Lochinvar?


Sir Walter Scott


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Well seeing as Dafydd posted Dylan Thomas - Wales' second best poet, I'll top him with RS Thomas - Wales' best.


The Woman


So beautiful--God himself quailed

at her approach: the long body curved

like the horizon. Why had he made

her so? How would it be, she said,

leaning towards him, if instead of

quarreling over it, we divided it

between us? You can have all the credit

for its invention, if you will leave the ordering

of it to me. He looked into her

eyes and saw far down the bones

of the generations that would navigate

by those great stars, but the pull of it

was too much. Yes, he thought, give me their minds'

tribute, and what they do with their bodies

is not my concern. He put his hand in his side

and drew out the thorn for the letting

of the ordained blood and touched her with

it. Go, he said. They shall come to you for ever

with their desire, and you shall bleed for them in return.


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Fuck The Police


Right about now, NWA court is in full effect

Judge Dre presidin'

In the case of NWA versus the police department

The prosecution attorneys are M.C. Ren, Ice Cube, and Eazy

Mothafuckin' E

Order, order order

Ice Cube, take the mothafuckin' stand

Do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothin' but

the truth, so help yo' black ass?

"You're goddamned right!"

why don't you tell everybody what the fuck you gotta say...


Fuck the police commin' straight from the underground

A young nigger got it bad 'cause I'm brown

And not the other color

Some police think

They have the authority to kill a minority

Fuck that shit 'cause I ain't the one

For a punk motherfucker with a badge and a gun

To be beaten on and thrown in jail

We can go toe to toe in the middle of a cell

Fuckin' with me 'cause I'm a teenager

With a little bit of gold and a pager

Searchin' my car, lookin' for the product

Thinkin' every nigger is sellin' narcotics

You'd rather see me in the pen

Than me and Lorenzo rollin' in a Benz-o

Beat up police, out of shape

And when I'm finished, Bring the yellow tape

To tape off the scene of the slaughter

Still gettin' Swoll' off bread and water

I don't know if they fags or what

Search a nigger down and grabbin' his nuts

And on the other hand

Without a gun, they can't get none

But don't let it be a black and a white one

'Cause they'll slam ya down to the street top

Black police showin' out for the white cop

Ice Cube will Swarm

On any motherfucker in a blue uniform

Just 'cause I'm from the CPT

Punk police are afraid of me, huh

A young nigger on the warpath

And when I finish, it's gonna be a bloodbath

Of cops dyin' in L.A.

Yo, Dre, I got something to say ...


Fuck the police!

Fuck the police!

Fuck the police!

Fuck the police!




Pull your goddamn ass over right now

Aw, shit, and what the fuck you pullin' me over for?

'Cause I feel like it, just sit your ass on the curb and shut the

fuck up!

Man, fuck this shit

All right smartass, I'm takin' your black ass to jail


M.C. Ren, will you please give your testimony to the jury about

this fucked up incident?


Fuck the police and Ren said it with authority

Because the niggers on the street is a majority

A gang - that's wit whoever i'm steppin'

And a motherfuckin' weapon is kept in

A stand-by for the so called law

Wishin' Ren was a nigger that they never saw

Lights all flashin' behind me

But they're scared of a nigger so they mace to blind me

But that shit don't work, I just laugh

Because it gives 'em a hint not to step in my path

To police, I'm sayin', "Fuck you punk!"

Readin' my rights and shit - it's all junk

Pullin' out a silly club so you stand

With a fake-assed badge and a gun in your hand

But take off the gun so you can see what's up

And we'll go at it, punk, and I'm a' fuck you up

Make you think I'm a' kick your ass

But drop your gat and Ren's gonna blast

I'm sneaky as fuck when it comes to crime

But I'm a' smoke 'em now and not next time

Smoke any motherfucker that sweats me

And any asshole that threatens me

I'm a sniper with a hell of a scope

Takin' out a cop or two that can't cope with me

The motherfuckin' villain that's mad

With potential to get bad as fuck

So I'm a' turn it around

Put in my clip, yo

And this is the sound

Yeah, Somethin' like that

But it all depends on the size of the gat

Takin' out a police would make my day

But a nigger like Ren don't give a fuck to say...


Fuck the police!

Fuck the police!

Fuck the police!

Fuck the police!




Yo, Man, whatcha need?

Police, open now (oh shit), we have a warrent for Eazy E's arrest

Oh shit

Get down and put your hands up where I can see 'em!

Man, what did I do?

Just shut the fuck up and get yo' motherfuckin' ass on the floor

But I didn't do shit

Man, just shut the fuck up


Eazy E, why don't you step up to the stand and tell the jury how

you feel about this bullshit?


I'm tired of the motherfuckin' jackin'

sweatin' my gang while I'm chillin' in the shack an'

Shinin' the light in my face and for what?

Maybe it's because I kick so much butt

I kick ass, or maybe it's 'cause I blast

Oh a stupid-assed nigger when I'm playing with the trigger

Of an Uzi or an AK

'Cause the police always got somethin' stupid to say

They put up my picture with silence

'Cause my identity by itself causes violence

The E with the criminal behavior

Yeah, I'm a gangster, but still I got flavor

Without a gun and a badge, what do you got?

A sucker in uniform waitin' to get shot

By me or another nigger

And with a gat, it don't matter if he's smaller or bigger

(Size don't mean shit, he's from the old school, fool)

And as you all know, E's here to rule

Whenever I'm rollin', keep lookin' in the mirror

And ears on cue, yo, so I can hear a

Dumb motherfucker with a gun

and if I'm rollin' off the eight, he'll be the one

That I take out and then get away

While I'm driving off laughin', this is what I'll say ...


Fuck the police!

Fuck the police!

Fuck the police!

Fuck the police!


The verdict :


The jury has found you guilty of being a red-neck, white-bread,

Chicken-shit motherfucker

"That's a lie! that's a goddamn lie!"

Get him out of here!

"I want justice!"

Get him the fuck out of my face

"I want justice!"

Out right now!

"Fuck you, you black motherfuckerrrrrrrrrrr!"


Fuck the police!

Fuck the police!

Fuck the police!


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Blue Dress (A Chinese poem, someone translated it into English)

by Xi Murong


I am a clear river,winding the islet you stand.

The sun shines brightly in a summer day and

White clouds drift high

In the afternoon sky.


Your blue dress

Is swaying in the wind,

Reflecting in my heart

Like soft water grass.


I turn round again and again

With sweet sorrow and pain,

I will flow away and won't return.

Never in my life will I meet you again.


I know winter will come and reed catkins wither.

Joys and sorrows on both sides of the STRAIT

Will be vanishing like smoke and cloud

Only stars still remain in the remote space.


I will flow into sea before being iced over.

And on the dark,isolated ocean bottom,

I will think of you and

your and your blue dress.


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The Raven - Edgar Allan Poe


And the raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting

On the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door;

And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon's that is dreaming,

And the lamp-light o'er him streaming throws his shadow on the floor;

And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor

Shall be lifted - nevermore!


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Fun to read out loud to kids.


The Cataract Of Lodore


"How does the water

Come down at Lodore?"

My little boy asked me

Thus, once on a time;

And moreover he tasked me

To tell him in rhyme.

Anon, at the word,

There first came one daughter,

And then came another,

To second and third

The request of their brother,

And to hear how the water

Comes down at Lodore,

With its rush and its roar,

As many a time

They had seen it before.

So I told them in rhyme,

For of rhymes I had store;

And 'twas in my vocation

For their recreation

That so I should sing;

Because I was Laureate

To them and the King.


From its sources which well

In the tarn on the fell;

From its fountains

In the mountains,

Its rills and its gills;

Through moss and through brake,

It runs and it creeps

For a while, till it sleeps

In its own little lake.

And thence at departing,

Awakening and starting,

It runs through the reeds,

And away it proceeds,

Through meadow and glade,

In sun and in shade,

And through the wood-shelter,

Among crags in its flurry,



Here it comes sparkling,

And there it lies darkling;

Now smoking and frothing

Its tumult and wrath in,

Till, in this rapid race

On which it is bent,

It reaches the place

Of its steep descent.


The cataract strong

Then plunges along,

Striking and raging


As if a war raging

Its caverns and rocks among;

Rising and leaping,

Sinking and creeping,

Swelling and sweeping,

Showering and springing,

Flying and flinging,

Writhing and ringing,

Eddying and whisking,

Spouting and frisking,

Turning and twisting,

Around and around

With endless rebound:

Smiting and fighting,

A sight to delight in;

Confounding, astounding,

Dizzying and deafening the ear with its sound.


Collecting, projecting,

Receding and speeding,

And shocking and rocking,

And darting and parting,

And threading and spreading,

And whizzing and hissing,

And dripping and skipping,

And hitting and splitting,

And shining and twining,

And rattling and battling,

And shaking and quaking,

And pouring and roaring,

And waving and raving,

And tossing and crossing,

And flowing and going,

And running and stunning,

And foaming and roaming,

And dinning and spinning,

And dropping and hopping,

And working and jerking,

And guggling and struggling,

And heaving and cleaving,

And moaning and groaning;


And glittering and frittering,

And gathering and feathering,

And whitening and brightening,

And quivering and shivering,

And hurrying and skurrying,

And thundering and floundering;


Dividing and gliding and sliding,

And falling and brawling and sprawling,

And driving and riving and striving,

And sprinkling and twinkling and wrinkling,

And sounding and bounding and rounding,

And bubbling and troubling and doubling,

And grumbling and rumbling and tumbling,

And clattering and battering and shattering;


Retreating and beating and meeting and sheeting,

Delaying and straying and playing and spraying,

Advancing and prancing and glancing and dancing,

Recoiling, turmoiling and toiling and boiling,

And gleaming and streaming and steaming and beaming,

And rushing and flushing and brushing and gushing,

And flapping and rapping and clapping and slapping,

And curling and whirling and purling and twirling,

And thumping and plumping and bumping and jumping,

And dashing and flashing and splashing and clashing;

And so never ending, but always descending,

Sounds and motions for ever and ever are blending

All at once and all o'er, with a mighty uproar, -

And this way the water comes down at Lodore.


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Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came"

(See Edgar's song in "Lear")


My first thought was, he lied in every word,

That hoary cripple, with malicious eye

Askance to watch the working of his lie

On mine, and mouth scarce able to afford

Suppression of the glee that pursed and scored

Its edge, at one more victim gained thereby.


What else should he be set for, with his staff?

What, save to waylay with his lies, ensnare

All travellers who might find him posted there,

And ask the road? I guessed what skull-like laugh

Would break, what crutch 'gin write my epitaph

For pastime in the dusty thoroughfare,


If at his counsel I should turn aside

Into that ominous tract which, all agree,

Hides the Dark Tower. Yet acquiescingly

I did turn as he pointed: neither pride

Nor hope rekindling at the end descried,

So much as gladness that some end might be.


For, what with my whole world-wide wandering,

What with my search drawn out thro' years, my hope

Dwindled into a ghost not fit to cope

With that obstreperous joy success would bring,

I hardly tried now to rebuke the spring

My heart made, finding failure in its scope.


As when a sick man very near to death

Seems dead indeed, and feels begin and end

The tears and takes the farewell of each friend,

And hears one bid the other go, draw breath

Freelier outside ("since all is o'er," he saith,

"And the blow fallen no grieving can amend;")


While some discuss if near the other graves

Be room enough for this, and when a day

Suits best for carrying the corpse away,

With care about the banners, scarves and staves:

And still the man hears all, and only craves

He may not shame such tender love and stay.


Thus, I had so long suffered in this quest,

Heard failure prophesied so oft, been writ

So many times among "The Band" - to wit,

The knights who to the Dark Tower's search addressed

Their steps - that just to fail as they, seemed best,

And all the doubt was now--should I be fit?


So, quiet as despair, I turned from him,

That hateful cripple, out of his highway

Into the path he pointed. All the day

Had been a dreary one at best, and dim

Was settling to its close, yet shot one grim

Red leer to see the plain catch its estray.


For mark! no sooner was I fairly found

Pledged to the plain, after a pace or two,

Than, pausing to throw backward a last view

O'er the safe road, 'twas gone; grey plain all round:

Nothing but plain to the horizon's bound.

I might go on; nought else remained to do.


So, on I went. I think I never saw

Such starved ignoble nature; nothing throve:

For flowers - as well expect a cedar grove!

But cockle, spurge, according to their law

Might propagate their kind, with none to awe,

You'd think; a burr had been a treasure trove.


No! penury, inertness and grimace,

In some strange sort, were the land's portion. "See

Or shut your eyes," said Nature peevishly,

"It nothing skills: I cannot help my case:

'Tis the Last Judgment's fire must cure this place,

Calcine its clods and set my prisoners free."


If there pushed any ragged thistle-stalk

Above its mates, the head was chopped; the bents

Were jealous else. What made those holes and rents

In the dock's harsh swarth leaves, bruised as to baulk

All hope of greenness? 'tis a brute must walk

Pashing their life out, with a brute's intents.


As for the grass, it grew as scant as hair

In leprosy; thin dry blades pricked the mud

Which underneath looked kneaded up with blood.

One stiff blind horse, his every bone a-stare,

Stood stupefied, however he came there:

Thrust out past service from the devil's stud!


Alive? he might be dead for aught I know,

With that red gaunt and colloped neck a-strain,

And shut eyes underneath the rusty mane;

Seldom went such grotesqueness with such woe;

I never saw a brute I hated so;

He must be wicked to deserve such pain.


I shut my eyes and turned them on my heart.

As a man calls for wine before he fights,

I asked one draught of earlier, happier sights,

Ere fitly I could hope to play my part.

Think first, fight afterwards - the soldier's art:

One taste of the old time sets all to rights.


Not it! I fancied Cuthbert's reddening face

Beneath its garniture of curly gold,

Dear fellow, till I almost felt him fold

An arm in mine to fix me to the place

That way he used. Alas, one night's disgrace!

Out went my heart's new fire and left it cold.


Giles then, the soul of honour - there he stands

Frank as ten years ago when knighted first.

What honest men should dare (he said) he durst.

Good - but the scene shifts - faugh! what hangman hands

Pin to his breast a parchment? His own bands

Read it. Poor traitor, spit upon and curst!


Better this present than a past like that;

Back therefore to my darkening path again!

No sound, no sight as far as eye could strain.

Will the night send a howlet or a bat?

I asked: when something on the dismal flat

Came to arrest my thoughts and change their train.


A sudden little river crossed my path

As unexpected as a serpent comes.

No sluggish tide congenial to the glooms;

This, as it frothed by, might have been a bath

For the fiend's glowing hoof - to see the wrath

Of its black eddy bespate with flakes and spumes.


So petty yet so spiteful! All along

Low scrubby alders kneeled down over it;

Drenched willows flung them headlong in a fit

Of mute despair, a suicidal throng:

The river which had done them all the wrong,

Whate'er that was, rolled by, deterred no whit.


Which, while I forded, - good saints, how I feared

To set my foot upon a dead man's cheek,

Each step, or feel the spear I thrust to seek

For hollows, tangled in his hair or beard!

--It may have been a water-rat I speared,

But, ugh! it sounded like a baby's shriek.


Glad was I when I reached the other bank.

Now for a better country. Vain presage!

Who were the strugglers, what war did they wage,

Whose savage trample thus could pad the dank

Soil to a plash? Toads in a poisoned tank,

Or wild cats in a red-hot iron cage--


The fight must so have seemed in that fell cirque.

What penned them there, with all the plain to choose?

No foot-print leading to that horrid mews,

None out of it. Mad brewage set to work

Their brains, no doubt, like galley-slaves the Turk

Pits for his pastime, Christians against Jews.


And more than that - a furlong on - why, there!

What bad use was that engine for, that wheel,

Or brake, not wheel - that harrow fit to reel

Men's bodies out like silk? with all the air

Of Tophet's tool, on earth left unaware,

Or brought to sharpen its rusty teeth of steel.


Then came a bit of stubbed ground, once a wood,

Next a marsh, it would seem, and now mere earth

Desperate and done with; (so a fool finds mirth,

Makes a thing and then mars it, till his mood

Changes and off he goes!) within a rood--

Bog, clay and rubble, sand and stark black dearth.


Now blotches rankling, coloured gay and grim,

Now patches where some leanness of the soil's

Broke into moss or substances like boils;

Then came some palsied oak, a cleft in him

Like a distorted mouth that splits its rim

Gaping at death, and dies while it recoils.


And just as far as ever from the end!

Nought in the distance but the evening, nought

To point my footstep further! At the thought,

A great black bird, Apollyon's bosom-friend,

Sailed past, nor beat his wide wing dragon-penned

That brushed my cap--perchance the guide I sought.


For, looking up, aware I somehow grew,

'Spite of the dusk, the plain had given place

All round to mountains - with such name to grace

Mere ugly heights and heaps now stolen in view.

How thus they had surprised me, - solve it, you!

How to get from them was no clearer case.


Yet half I seemed to recognise some trick

Of mischief happened to me, God knows when--

In a bad dream perhaps. Here ended, then,

Progress this way. When, in the very nick

Of giving up, one time more, came a click

As when a trap shuts - you're inside the den!


Burningly it came on me all at once,

This was the place! those two hills on the right,

Crouched like two bulls locked horn in horn in fight;

While to the left, a tall scalped mountain . . . Dunce,

Dotard, a-dozing at the very nonce,

After a life spent training for the sight!


What in the midst lay but the Tower itself?

The round squat turret, blind as the fool's heart

Built of brown stone, without a counterpart

In the whole world. The tempest's mocking elf

Points to the shipman thus the unseen shelf

He strikes on, only when the timbers start.


Not see? because of night perhaps? - why, day

Came back again for that! before it left,

The dying sunset kindled through a cleft:

The hills, like giants at a hunting, lay

Chin upon hand, to see the game at bay,--

"Now stab and end the creature - to the heft!"


Not hear? when noise was everywhere! it tolled

Increasing like a bell. Names in my ears

Of all the lost adventurers my peers,--

How such a one was strong, and such was bold,

And such was fortunate, yet each of old

Lost, lost! one moment knelled the woe of years.


There they stood, ranged along the hillsides, met

To view the last of me, a living frame

For one more picture! in a sheet of flame

I saw them and I knew them all. And yet

Dauntless the slug-horn to my lips I set,

And blew. "Childe Roland to the Dark Tower came."


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The boy stood on the burning deck

Whence all but he had fled;

The flame that lit the battle's wreck

Shone round him o'er the dead

Yet beautiful and bright he stood,

As born to rule the storm;

A creature of heroic blood,

A proud, though child-like form

The flames rolled on–he would not go

Without his Father's word;

That father, faint in death below,

His voice no longer heard

He called aloud–'say, Father, say

If yet my task is done?'

He knew not that the chieftain lay

Unconscious of his son

'Speak, father!' once again he cried,

'If I may yet be gone!'

And but the booming shots replied,

And fast the flames rolled on

Upon his brow he felt their breath,

And in his waving hair,

And looked from that lone post of death

In still yet brave despair

And shouted but once more aloud,

'My father! must I stay?'

While o'er him fast, through sail and shroud,

The wreathing fires made way

They wrapt the ship in splendour wild,

They caught the flag on high,

And streamed above the gallant child,

Like banners in the sky

There came a burst of thunder sound

The boy–oh! where was he?

Ask of the winds that far around

With fragments strewed the sea

With mast, and helm, and pennon fair,

That well had borne their part

But the noblest thing which perished there

Was that young faithful heart.


RIP Giocante.


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I am as a wellspring

Of the sweetest waters of kindness

That a woman who finds it

May drink her fill

And yet find more...


Me, Hamra Judah, 1999


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Yet each man kills the thing he loves

By each let this be heard,

Some do it with a bitter look,

Some with a flattering word,

The coward does it with a kiss,

The brave man with a sword!


Some kill their love when they are young,

And some when they are old;

Some strangle with the hands of Lust,

Some with the hands of Gold:

The kindest use a knife, because

The dead so soon grow cold.


Some love too little, some too long,

Some sell, and others buy;

Some do the deed with many tears,

And some without a sigh:

For each man kills the thing he loves,

Yet each man does not die.


Excerpt from The Ballad Of Reading Gaol - Oscar Wilde.


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