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Do not deign to achieve.
Do not strive to suffer.
Aspiration is naive.
Forget the stars, leave the gutter.

Hope's a hopeless hobby.
Nihilistic mother
taught steely melancholy.
Forget the stars, leave the gutter.

Wisdom dashes all wishes.
In egodeath, discover
how free a nebbish is.
Forget the stars, leave the gutter.
  
We are not indebted
to Indian givers stellar:
stardust smarts our fetish.
Forget the stars, leave the gutter.

The stars eat their young.
Orion universe, hunters,
whose lotus lights stun slums.
Forget the stars, leave the gutter.

Do not deign to achieve.
Do not strive to suffer.
Aspiration is naive.
Forget the stars, leave the gutter.
Terry O'Leary Jan 2014
as the PROPHETS of profits, WE lead and WE’re fair
while WE’re living the life of the poor BILLIONAIRE
– silver yachts, pearly castles, cash (plenty to spare) –
with the world on OUR backs... ah! the burdens WE bear!

being HAVES (not the have-nots) as nature decrees
means WE’re certainly the better (they’re vermin on ******).
if they pray for a lift in their dark fantasies,
WE just kick ’em downstairs, get ’em off of their knees.

yes, WE offer great jobs (much too busy OURSELVES!)
for maintaining the toilets, restacking the shelves,
and WE teach ’em to fear god and play with the elves,
thus dispelling ideas where the dark demon delves.

though they build mighty bridges, twin towers and more,
peddle pizzas and popcorn, sell guns door-to-door,
still they gotta have BOSSES to tell ’em the score
else WE’d never be needed, WE’d thrive nevermore.

when OUR profits are plunging, they do their part too
for they dine on the dole! yes, no hullabaloo!
soon OUR fortunes  redouble, rebound and accrue –
since WE fare well without ’em, WE bid ’em adieu.

’stead of wishing for welfare and standing in queues
or parading with pickets (look! holes in their shoes!),
they’d be better off scabbing to save union dues.
while WE whistle and warble, they’re singing the blues.

whether heroes or hoboes, like spiders and lice
they just crawl all around us in life’s paradise,
but WE’re patient, big hearted and oft sacrifice,
spewing charity, kindness (though each has its price).

if they’re beaten or punctured or suffer assault,
are unhealthy or crippled or walk with a halt,
or ******* or helpless, it’s all their own fault –
just like US they should worship the DOLLAR exalt’!

protesters and loud mouths, you’ll find ’em aplenty
some older, some younger, the worst not yet twenty.
they’re shameless and brazen (unwashed, soiled and scenty)
impugning the prestige of brave COGNOSCENTI.

if they’ve got clashing colors (or shades in between)
or opposing beliefs in the hidden unseen,
well, WE’ll always exploit it, deflecting their spleen,
for with god on each side, would WE dare intervene?

WE maintain many methods to keep ’em in chains –
daily rags and the tube spin OUR circus campaigns:
“to pretend you’ve a voice”, an announcement explains,
“you can vote and decide on which ONE of US reigns”.

OUR policemen protect US, they stay on the ball
(they arrest ’em, no questions per law’s protocol,
and then jam ’em in jail with their backs to the wall) –
if you’ve lucre for lawyers there’s justice for all.

down the ROYAL road of justice WE march all alone
– WE condemn their defiance, set ways to atone –
since WE’re sinless, unsullied, WE cast the first stone
(while WE cloak REGAL fetor with eau de cologne).

politicians, bald bankers, grand idols galore,
attend meetings, fete banquets in which they explore
how to rid US of rodents (the weak and the poor) –
well, just round up the riff-raff, dispatch ’em to war!

ah! OUR wars are, well, just...... just a thing of the past
........... and the present............... and future... WE sure make them last!
if they frown as they gaze (Armageddon!) aghast,
then WE smile back with pleasure, OUR treasures amassed.

useless ranting and raving (in rags, when they’re clad),
leads to losing their teeth (my! their gums are... egad!).
WE’re unselfish, indulgent, WE’d never be mad
if they drowned in the sounds of themselves feeling sad.

as the paupers are princes in midnight’s domain,
they have pipe dreams to lose, certainly nothing to gain
if they’re hoping OUR fortunes will wither and wane –
for “WE’re here by god’s will” as WE often explain.

yes, they wish to be US, with OUR wisdom and grace,
keeping up with ol’ CROESUS, maintaining the pace.  
but perverseness or rancor? they’ll see not a trace –
for WE hold ’em at bay with a fist in the face.

WE’re la CRÈME de la CRÈME, yes! the proud UPPER CRUST,
and OUR clothes are the finest, OUR hair never mussed –
WE imbue ’em with piety, duty and trust
and they’re fed bread and water (if feed ’em WE must).

but they’re thieving, aggrieved, want a piece of OUR PIE
and request WE endure ’em, see EYE to black eye.
since they live in OUR land where OUR strict rules apply,
they must feast on the crumbs that We cast to the sty.

though OUR largesse and bounty WE don’t mean to flaunt,
yet the pittance WE pay ’em they surely can vaunt –
salty peanuts and pretzels (what more could they want?)
thereby keeping their kiddies so healthily gaunt.

yes, there’s room for the rabble (the back of the bus)
’cause WE treat ’em like equals, so what’s all the fuss?
all can rise to the top (yes! it’s always been thus),
to the suites in OUR penthouse (to sweep up and dust).

while OUR CHILDREN have tutors, the finest of schools
(being bred for the forefront, THEY’re nobody’s fools),
their own school of hard knocks teaches: “follow the rules”,
building brawn ’stead of brains and broad backs strong as mules’.

and to keep ’em in line (to ensure WE prevail)
WE now monitor phone calls and read all their mail
(civil rights? what a notion! at best a detail!)
and if worse comes to worst...... well...... guantanamo jail!

WE’ve OUR quandaries and questions and headaches full blown
(like deciding design and decor of OUR throne...
whether diamonds or rubies... to gemstones WE’re prone) .
when WE deign to appease ’em, WE chuck ’em a bone.

now you know all OUR problems, OUR pains and travails
– like preparing foreclosures, evictions  and sales –
but WE’ve no need for worries or gnawed fingernails,
’cause WE’re sailing OUR yachts through tempestuous gales
(with them bailing OUR banks when OUR stock market fails)
sipping daiquiri sours, champagnes, ****** ales.
:-)
Louis Verata Apr 22
Fallen One that fell from grace
Destiny engulfed you in flames
No other recourse but to change
You who tempted that Nazarene
The One some confuse with Seth or Baʿal
Venus is your place.

Your abode among the archangels
No one could take but Yahweh
The forbidden name
You loved Him more than your beautiful face
When ordered to love us feeble mortals more than the Lord of Hosts
Deign was not in your plate
Your phalangeal joints against the archangel Michael
General of the Heavenly Chariots
Lucifer, you of the Order of Music
The One they say buys souls
Michael took what was rightfully yours
On the Earthly plains your fallen angels
Only thought of empires to make.

Purson you probably do not know
Of the Order of Honor and Virtue once upon a time
Sunday stories that are told
God got old
Rest easy Prince don't sweat Judgement Day
Most of us are bound to Hades anyway.
prosaic promises plastered to foggy windows

years pressed into my callow countenance,

wrinkled with a web of washed-out wonders

i am

submerged in your scintillating charisma

my vision clouds with utopian dreams

amidst admonitions i don't deign to heed,

i don't descry that precipitous *****:

i float above such abstractions

like gravity, friction,

and perhaps my own humanity.
James LR Aug 2018
Above the wind plains roaring white
With lightning crack's climaxing light
In the prepubescent gloom
Of fear, excitement, unrealized doom
The moon appears in cloudy skies
With blissful sighs as knowledge dies

****** grasses ripped from home
As breeze embraces seed and blows
To new beginnings and new ends
Where e'er the Fates may deign to send
A rose's bud seeps from below
Mixed with sticking undertones

When innocence concedes the stage
To reside in maturation's cage
And foolish fancy takes to flight
The sun forever fades to night
Started out as a normal poem, and uh...I have no idea how it got here
allanbrunmier Jul 14
What right have you
To presume to cry
While you are you
And I am I

In every Autumn
Dies a leaf
Was not our love
Just as brief

Nothing lasts but
Stone and fire
Don't believe the
Pulpit’s choir

You must know that
The void's so vast
And time's so free
There is no past

Stone is common
And life's so rare
Why should we ever
Deign to care

There's no order
Just random chance
There's no border
Round happenstance

And yet you cry
And declare your union
Just let me die
Without communion

Please don’t waste
A tear or sigh
While you are you
And I am I
One of my teenage poems, many moons ago.
Donall Dempsey Dec 2018
"... IN THE UNENDING AFTERNOON OF HER EYES..."

We drift from
Parisian museum to

Parisian museum
as if calling upon

some grand home
and the paintings deign

to see us
we the tourist class.

We are caught
in a deluge.

The unrelenting rain
tears time off

the present moment
revealing the past underneath

an older century
bleeding through.

How fragile are
les temps perdu.

I  whistle a motif
from César Franck.

"What's that ?" you say
"...the National Anthem of our love!"

I gaze up at Proust's
cork-lined room

102 boulevard Haussmann
now become a bank.

Imagine him there
glancing down at us

glancing up  at him
the slight movement of  blue satin drapes.

Or have I imagined him
as he imagines us

hurrying figures
from another time

the rain obscuring us
each from the other.

"Love..." Marcel reminds me
“...is space and time.."

his voice almost lost
in the rain's din

"...measured by the heart.”

"Allons Madeline....allons!"
A French mum scolds her sulky child.

The rain reigns
supreme.
***

By 1906, Proust’s parents had died, his brother had married, and he felt the family residence was too big. He moved to 102 Boulevard Haussmann(in the Ian Fleming novel Thunderball, it is described as "the solidest street in Paris" and the site of the headquarters of SPECTRE.) a building owned by his Uncle Louis, where he wrote the bulk of his work, mostly in bed.

Today the building belongs to the CIC bank, which has restored the bedroom, famously lined in cork for soundproofing, but the room’s contents are in the Musée Carnavalet, leaving the solitary chamber soulless..the silence listening to us not making a sound.
SPECTRE in some fictional alternative world still has its headquarters on Boulevard Haussmannn...a fact of which I was totally unaware being pulverised by rain and time....the moment coming apart at the seams.

A reconstruction, with original furniture, of the room where Marcel Proust wrote In search of lost time can be seen in Musée Carnavalet.

Off in a cramped corner were the reassembled pieces of furniture from Proust’s bedroom, including a five-paneled Chinese screen, a velvet armchair that belonged to his father and a writing desk, used mostly for piling books. He kept his notebooks and writing materials on an old rosewood end table beside the bed. Two other tables are adrift in this cramped tableau, one of which was used for his morning coffee tray, usually served with milk and croissants.

The original Boulevard Haussmann apartment was spacious but crammed with furniture, with double windows always covered by padded blue satin drapes. The bedspread was blue satin as well and there was a chandelier, which was never lit when Proust was working. The only light was from a long-stemmed, green-shaded lamp on the bedside table.

We were headed for the Musée Jacquemart-André, at 158 Boulevard Haussmann, the former home of banker and art collector Edouard André and his artist wife Nélie Jacquemart, recaptures the interior decor and lifestyle of respectable society. Proust was never a guest there, but he rotated in the same social circles, We were mere tourists...awed by the past.

As Beckett puts it in his essay on Proust...

"Life is habit. Or rather life is a succession of habits, since the individual is a succession of individuals; the world being a projection of the individual’s consciousness (an objectivation of the individual’s will, Schopenhauer would say), the pact must be continually renewed, the letter of safe-conduct brought up to date. The creation of the world did not take place once and for all time, but takes place every day. Habit then is the generic term for the countless treaties concluded between the countless subjects that constitute the individual and their countless correlative objects."

This poem is one of the countless treaties various individuals of me made with the moment in time that was mine being shared with Proust.

The enigma of the “little phrase” that “swept over and enveloped” Swann “like a perfume or a caress..." still lingers on as maybe Frack or as Proust admitted in a letter to Camille Saint-Saëns. I rather prefer Franck's Sonata in A major for Violin and Piano for its perfect cyclic beauty and its gentle reflectiveness.

But it was Franck's gorgeous Symphony in D minor( and the transformations of its four-bar theme )that I was lost in that day and became for me the "...national anthem of our love."

“It is only through art that we can escape from ourselves and know how another person sees a universe which is not the same as our own and whose landscapes would otherwise have remained as unknown as any there may be on the moon.”

The title comes from a lovely phrase that has always haunted me...

"...calmly imprisoned in the unending afternoon of her eyes..."

THE GUERMANTES WAY - MARCEL PROUST.
It is true
When they say
You're not you
When you're hungry
It ruins your day
When your belly is empty
Of plentiful joy
Then the slightest disturbance
Can leave you annoyed
And in dealing with others
Be flippant and curt
And in making progress,
Listless and inert
It reverts you to primacy,
Primitive need
And converts sharing, caring
To hording and greed
And will lead you to do
What you wouldn't dare deign
To consider permissible
Ways to attain
Your next meal
When you hear
Only your stomach rumbles
Succumbing to them
Just as the
Cookie crumbles
Until irrepressible
Monsters emerge
To devour whatever in sight
Can encourage
You to
Once again
Crack a mollified smile
Until the resurgence
Beguiles the bile
And after a while
Elapses, redaction
For while it grasps
At your brief satisfaction
You think only of
What remains
You can ration
As later-on's pangs
Boomerang
Right back atch'ya
The moment the flavor
Can no more be savored
And cravings enslave you again
To the anger
To sell the body is seen a sin
when the skin is currency
while the buyers flock around
with payment held close at hand

once the exchange has occurred
away realms of chastity
the supplicants deign to condemn
the very source of ecstasy

to decry the pleasures gained
saves the face of holy men
when due fairness is applied
between the partners of the act

their honor clutched is a sham
like the masks devoutly worn
when the imp comes to call
evoking lust in high and low

the urge is fed for a time
few may last when it returns
ask yourself why dogmas lie
when suggesting otherwise

to sell the body is a boon
stooping low to holy plans
only asking for respect
while others wear their saintliness.

© 2019. Sean Green. All Rights Reserved. 20190201.
The poem “To Sell the Body” was inspired by a Tumblr article about how mining “takes advantages” of its workers' bodies as much as the *** trade does.   The resulting work deviated from this source material.
Captured at last. My quiverful
did shake your ransom loose—vain price
of novel circumstance, rebounding
up the mudhills of the past,
up mires that swallow shoes and grief
us for a thimbleful of how
it really felt. You dealt your doings'
deal, wound up a scattered reel
of torments: roses on the vine
that fell on thorny wrists to leech
the somedays from your spreading wings.
Bare respite in the hands of kings
who deign to manage what good things
go wrong: one laughed and out went song.
Two stood and shook out lies. Three spoke
and gouged out others' views of yours
as empty summer eyes. Recapped
in major ways to generally fawn,
yet flip a nonsense-script
to hammer bad words home and sire
a signal-damning tome to scratch
ancestors' heads (as we would do
if we could meet them)—Mysteries
to greet them, burdens on the sleeve
of he who dared dig mud: I linger.  
What I free will sting or sear
or singe, but noise is what one makes
when stranded on the fringe.
Eric W May 3
Little, petulant, lying boy
do not trifle in my life -
you know not of where I come,
and I have seen many of your kind.
I have faced your insecurities
where you cannot even bear to think of them.
I have seen your delusional ways,
walked your own path before you.
Do not test me, little boy.
You know nothing of what it means to be a man,
you know nothing of what it takes
to love and to protect those you love.
I would give my life for many people,
who do you care about that much?
Do not deign to consider yourself my equal,
you are outmatched in every possible way.
You take advantage, you lie, you spin deceptions,
how much of your own ******* do you swallow?
You let your darkness consume you,
you are ruled by your own falsified beliefs,
know that I have harnessed mine
and that many parts of me would revel
in the decayed and rotting flesh
of a despicable human being
six feet below.
Take heed, you ****** of the night,
this will be your only warning.
It wears the mask of kindness;
about equalizing things
it knows a thing or two.
Any superiority of skill
amounts to ill will,
amounts to arrogance on the other's part.
It's almost as though excellence alone
must apologize or atone,
must show a benighted heart.

It has slithered into
many, many universities...
There it shows another face:
excellence or what is best
has been shunned, swept aside
in favor of a group long oppressed.
The forgettable has swept aside
Homer, Virgil, Dante, Shakespeare.
The long oppressed won't be denied...

Yet nature, too, can't be denied.
Superiority of strength is clear.
The cheetah is swiftest, and the lion
is much stronger than the deer.
I guess nature can but appall;
it doesn't even deign to reply
nor cares for the hurt feelings
that we may voice, you and I...

Brothers and sisters we are, yes:
there's something within us that unites us all.
But diversity that's celebrated
for its own sake and above all
is perversity, it is envy's knife
directed to putting an end
to the wonders of the world, to all
all that's beautiful, excellent in life.
Excellence alone is the wine and ice;
it is the beloved alone that will do
or its own country that will suffice.

Brothers and sisters, we are one - and yet
it's not presumptuousness or conceit
to say that skillwise or talentwise,
Shakespeare or Mozart we'll never meet,
that not all children of the source are gold,
that many are silver or bronze (or less),
that this wave of diversity, equality,
this multiculturalism is nothingness.

What's the maturity out of this mess?
It's to know that while there are a few -
maybe more - who are much better than you
at their particular passion or what they do,
they needn't be the source of your unhappiness...
(You, probably, are the source of your unhappiness.)
You can try something different: allow
yourself, in looking toward your superiors,
allow yourself the space to learn, to trace the arcs
of those lofty heights secretly admired.
Your life can be changed by being inspired.
ConnectHook Feb 2016
by John Greenleaf Whittier  (1807 – 1892)

“As the Spirits of Darkness be stronger in the dark, so Good Spirits which be Angels of Light are augmented not only by the Divine Light of the Sun, but also by our common Wood fire: and as the celestial Fire drives away dark spirits, so also this our Fire of Wood doth the same.”

COR. AGRIPPA, Occult Philosophy, Book I. chap. v.

“Announced by all the trumpets of the sky,
Arrives the snow; and, driving o’er the fields,
Seems nowhere to alight; the whited air
Hides hills and woods, the river and the heaven,
And veils the farm-house at the garden’s end.
The sled and traveller stopped, the courier’s feet
Delayed, all friends shut out, the housemates sit
Around the radiant fireplace, enclosed
In a tumultuous privacy of storm.”


EMERSON

The sun that brief December day
Rose cheerless over hills of gray,
And, darkly circled, gave at noon
A sadder light than waning moon.
Slow tracing down the thickening sky
Its mute and ominous prophecy,
A portent seeming less than threat,
It sank from sight before it set.
A chill no coat, however stout,
Of homespun stuff could quite shut out,
A hard, dull bitterness of cold,
That checked, mid-vein, the circling race
Of life-blood in the sharpened face,
The coming of the snow-storm told.
The wind blew east; we heard the roar
Of Ocean on his wintry shore,
And felt the strong pulse throbbing there
Beat with low rhythm our inland air.

Meanwhile we did our nightly chores, —
Brought in the wood from out of doors,
Littered the stalls, and from the mows
Raked down the herd’s-grass for the cows;
Heard the horse whinnying for his corn;
And, sharply clashing horn on horn,
Impatient down the stanchion rows
The cattle shake their walnut bows;
While, peering from his early perch
Upon the scaffold’s pole of birch,
The **** his crested helmet bent
And down his querulous challenge sent.

Unwarmed by any sunset light
The gray day darkened into night,
A night made hoary with the swarm
And whirl-dance of the blinding storm,
As zigzag, wavering to and fro,
Crossed and recrossed the wingàd snow:
And ere the early bedtime came
The white drift piled the window-frame,
And through the glass the clothes-line posts
Looked in like tall and sheeted ghosts.

So all night long the storm roared on:
The morning broke without a sun;
In tiny spherule traced with lines
Of Nature’s geometric signs,
And, when the second morning shone,
We looked upon a world unknown,
On nothing we could call our own.
Around the glistening wonder bent
The blue walls of the firmament,
No cloud above, no earth below, —
A universe of sky and snow!
The old familiar sights of ours
Took marvellous shapes; strange domes and towers
Rose up where sty or corn-crib stood,
Or garden-wall, or belt of wood;
A smooth white mound the brush-pile showed,
A fenceless drift what once was road;
The bridle-post an old man sat
With loose-flung coat and high cocked hat;
The well-curb had a Chinese roof;
And even the long sweep, high aloof,
In its slant spendor, seemed to tell
Of Pisa’s leaning miracle.

A prompt, decisive man, no breath
Our father wasted: “Boys, a path!”
Well pleased, (for when did farmer boy
Count such a summons less than joy?)
Our buskins on our feet we drew;
With mittened hands, and caps drawn low,
To guard our necks and ears from snow,
We cut the solid whiteness through.
And, where the drift was deepest, made
A tunnel walled and overlaid
With dazzling crystal: we had read
Of rare Aladdin’s wondrous cave,
And to our own his name we gave,
With many a wish the luck were ours
To test his lamp’s supernal powers.
We reached the barn with merry din,
And roused the prisoned brutes within.
The old horse ****** his long head out,
And grave with wonder gazed about;
The **** his ***** greeting said,
And forth his speckled harem led;
The oxen lashed their tails, and hooked,
And mild reproach of hunger looked;
The hornëd patriarch of the sheep,
Like Egypt’s Amun roused from sleep,
Shook his sage head with gesture mute,
And emphasized with stamp of foot.

All day the gusty north-wind bore
The loosening drift its breath before;
Low circling round its southern zone,
The sun through dazzling snow-mist shone.
No church-bell lent its Christian tone
To the savage air, no social smoke
Curled over woods of snow-hung oak.
A solitude made more intense
By dreary-voicëd elements,
The shrieking of the mindless wind,
The moaning tree-boughs swaying blind,
And on the glass the unmeaning beat
Of ghostly finger-tips of sleet.
Beyond the circle of our hearth
No welcome sound of toil or mirth
Unbound the spell, and testified
Of human life and thought outside.
We minded that the sharpest ear
The buried brooklet could not hear,
The music of whose liquid lip
Had been to us companionship,
And, in our lonely life, had grown
To have an almost human tone.

As night drew on, and, from the crest
Of wooded knolls that ridged the west,
The sun, a snow-blown traveller, sank
From sight beneath the smothering bank,
We piled, with care, our nightly stack
Of wood against the chimney-back, —
The oaken log, green, huge, and thick,
And on its top the stout back-stick;
The knotty forestick laid apart,
And filled between with curious art

The ragged brush; then, hovering near,
We watched the first red blaze appear,
Heard the sharp crackle, caught the gleam
On whitewashed wall and sagging beam,
Until the old, rude-furnished room
Burst, flower-like, into rosy bloom;
While radiant with a mimic flame
Outside the sparkling drift became,
And through the bare-boughed lilac-tree
Our own warm hearth seemed blazing free.
The crane and pendent trammels showed,
The Turks’ heads on the andirons glowed;
While childish fancy, prompt to tell
The meaning of the miracle,
Whispered the old rhyme: “Under the tree,
When fire outdoors burns merrily,
There the witches are making tea.”

The moon above the eastern wood
Shone at its full; the hill-range stood
Transfigured in the silver flood,
Its blown snows flashing cold and keen,
Dead white, save where some sharp ravine
Took shadow, or the sombre green
Of hemlocks turned to pitchy black
Against the whiteness at their back.
For such a world and such a night
Most fitting that unwarming light,
Which only seemed where’er it fell
To make the coldness visible.

Shut in from all the world without,
We sat the clean-winged hearth about,
Content to let the north-wind roar
In baffled rage at pane and door,
While the red logs before us beat
The frost-line back with tropic heat;
And ever, when a louder blast
Shook beam and rafter as it passed,
The merrier up its roaring draught
The great throat of the chimney laughed;
The house-dog on his paws outspread
Laid to the fire his drowsy head,
The cat’s dark silhouette on the wall
A couchant tiger’s seemed to fall;
And, for the winter fireside meet,
Between the andirons’ straddling feet,
The mug of cider simmered slow,
The apples sputtered in a row,
And, close at hand, the basket stood
With nuts from brown October’s wood.

What matter how the night behaved?
What matter how the north-wind raved?
Blow high, blow low, not all its snow
Could quench our hearth-fire’s ruddy glow.
O Time and Change! — with hair as gray
As was my sire’s that winter day,
How strange it seems, with so much gone
Of life and love, to still live on!
Ah, brother! only I and thou
Are left of all that circle now, —
The dear home faces whereupon
That fitful firelight paled and shone.
Henceforward, listen as we will,
The voices of that hearth are still;
Look where we may, the wide earth o’er,
Those lighted faces smile no more.

We tread the paths their feet have worn,
We sit beneath their orchard trees,
We hear, like them, the hum of bees
And rustle of the bladed corn;
We turn the pages that they read,
Their written words we linger o’er,
But in the sun they cast no shade,
No voice is heard, no sign is made,
No step is on the conscious floor!
Yet Love will dream, and Faith will trust,
(Since He who knows our need is just,)
That somehow, somewhere, meet we must.
Alas for him who never sees
The stars shine through his cypress-trees!
Who, hopeless, lays his dead away,
Nor looks to see the breaking day
Across the mournful marbles play!
Who hath not learned, in hours of faith,
The truth to flesh and sense unknown,
That Life is ever lord of Death,
And Love can never lose its own!

We sped the time with stories old,
Wrought puzzles out, and riddles told,
Or stammered from our school-book lore
“The Chief of Gambia’s golden shore.”
How often since, when all the land
Was clay in Slavery’s shaping hand,
As if a far-blown trumpet stirred
Dame Mercy Warren’s rousing word:
“Does not the voice of reason cry,
Claim the first right which Nature gave,
From the red scourge of ******* to fly,
Nor deign to live a burdened slave!”
Our father rode again his ride
On Memphremagog’s wooded side;
Sat down again to moose and samp
In trapper’s hut and Indian camp;
Lived o’er the old idyllic ease
Beneath St. François’ hemlock-trees;
Again for him the moonlight shone
On Norman cap and bodiced zone;
Again he heard the violin play
Which led the village dance away.
And mingled in its merry whirl
The grandam and the laughing girl.
Or, nearer home, our steps he led
Where Salisbury’s level marshes spread
Mile-wide as flies the laden bee;
Where merry mowers, hale and strong,
Swept, scythe on scythe, their swaths along
The low green prairies of the sea.
We shared the fishing off Boar’s Head,
And round the rocky Isles of Shoals
The hake-broil on the drift-wood coals;
The chowder on the sand-beach made,
Dipped by the hungry, steaming hot,
With spoons of clam-shell from the ***.
We heard the tales of witchcraft old,
And dream and sign and marvel told
To sleepy listeners as they lay
Stretched idly on the salted hay,
Adrift along the winding shores,
When favoring breezes deigned to blow
The square sail of the gundelow
And idle lay the useless oars.

Our mother, while she turned her wheel
Or run the new-knit stocking-heel,
Told how the Indian hordes came down
At midnight on Concheco town,
And how her own great-uncle bore
His cruel scalp-mark to fourscore.
Recalling, in her fitting phrase,
So rich and picturesque and free
(The common unrhymed poetry
Of simple life and country ways,)
The story of her early days, —
She made us welcome to her home;
Old hearths grew wide to give us room;
We stole with her a frightened look
At the gray wizard’s conjuring-book,
The fame whereof went far and wide
Through all the simple country side;
We heard the hawks at twilight play,
The boat-horn on Piscataqua,
The loon’s weird laughter far away;
We fished her little trout-brook, knew
What flowers in wood and meadow grew,
What sunny hillsides autumn-brown
She climbed to shake the ripe nuts down,
Saw where in sheltered cove and bay,
The ducks’ black squadron anchored lay,
And heard the wild-geese calling loud
Beneath the gray November cloud.
Then, haply, with a look more grave,
And soberer tone, some tale she gave
From painful Sewel’s ancient tome,
Beloved in every Quaker home,
Of faith fire-winged by martyrdom,
Or Chalkley’s Journal, old and quaint, —
Gentlest of skippers, rare sea-saint! —
Who, when the dreary calms prevailed,
And water-**** and bread-cask failed,
And cruel, hungry eyes pursued
His portly presence mad for food,
With dark hints muttered under breath
Of casting lots for life or death,

Offered, if Heaven withheld supplies,
To be himself the sacrifice.
Then, suddenly, as if to save
The good man from his living grave,
A ripple on the water grew,
A school of porpoise flashed in view.
“Take, eat,” he said, “and be content;
These fishes in my stead are sent
By Him who gave the tangled ram
To spare the child of Abraham.”
Our uncle, innocent of books,
Was rich in lore of fields and brooks,
The ancient teachers never dumb
Of Nature’s unhoused lyceum.
In moons and tides and weather wise,
He read the clouds as prophecies,
And foul or fair could well divine,
By many an occult hint and sign,
Holding the cunning-warded keys
To all the woodcraft mysteries;
Himself to Nature’s heart so near
v That all her voices in his ear
Of beast or bird had meanings clear,
Like Apollonius of old,
Who knew the tales the sparrows told,
Or Hermes, who interpreted
What the sage cranes of Nilus said;
A simple, guileless, childlike man,
Content to live where life began;
Strong only on his native grounds,
The little world of sights and sounds
Whose girdle was the parish bounds,
Whereof his fondly partial pride
The common features magnified,
As Surrey hills to mountains grew
In White of Selborne’s loving view, —
He told how teal and loon he shot,
And how the eagle’s eggs he got,
The feats on pond and river done,
The prodigies of rod and gun;
Till, warming with the tales he told,
Forgotten was the outside cold,
The bitter wind unheeded blew,
From ripening corn the pigeons flew,
The partridge drummed i’ the wood, the mink
Went fishing down the river-brink.
In fields with bean or clover ***,
The woodchuck, like a hermit gray,
Peered from the doorway of his cell;
The muskrat plied the mason’s trade,
And tier by tier his mud-walls laid;
And from the shagbark overhead
The grizzled squirrel dropped his shell.

Next, the dear aunt, whose smile of cheer
And voice in dreams I see and hear, —
The sweetest woman ever Fate
Perverse denied a household mate,
Who, lonely, homeless, not the less
Found peace in love’s unselfishness,
And welcome wheresoe’er she went,
A calm and gracious element,
Whose presence seemed the sweet income
And womanly atmosphere of home, —
Called up her girlhood memories,
The huskings and the apple-bees,
The sleigh-rides and the summer sails,
Weaving through all the poor details
And homespun warp of circumstance
A golden woof-thread of romance.
For well she kept her genial mood
And simple faith of maidenhood;
Before her still a cloud-land lay,
The mirage loomed across her way;
The morning dew, that dries so soon
With others, glistened at her noon;
Through years of toil and soil and care,
From glossy tress to thin gray hair,
All unprofaned she held apart
The ****** fancies of the heart.
Be shame to him of woman born
Who hath for such but thought of scorn.
There, too, our elder sister plied
Her evening task the stand beside;
A full, rich nature, free to trust,
Truthful and almost sternly just,
Impulsive, earnest, prompt to act,
And make her generous thought a fact,
Keeping with many a light disguise
The secret of self-sacrifice.

O heart sore-tried! thou hast the best
That Heaven itself could give thee, — rest,
Rest from all bitter thoughts and things!
How many a poor one’s blessing went
With thee beneath the low green tent
Whose curtain never outward swings!

As one who held herself a part
Of all she saw, and let her heart
Against the household ***** lean,
Upon the motley-braided mat
Our youngest and our dearest sat,
Lifting her large, sweet, asking eyes,
Now bathed in the unfading green
And holy peace of Paradise.
Oh, looking from some heavenly hill,
Or from the shade of saintly palms,
Or silver reach of river calms,
Do those large eyes behold me still?
With me one little year ago: —
The chill weight of the winter snow
For months upon her grave has lain;
And now, when summer south-winds blow
And brier and harebell bloom again,
I tread the pleasant paths we trod,
I see the violet-sprinkled sod
Whereon she leaned, too frail and weak
The hillside flowers she loved to seek,
Yet following me where’er I went
With dark eyes full of love’s content.
The birds are glad; the brier-rose fills
The air with sweetness; all the hills
Stretch green to June’s unclouded sky;
But still I wait with ear and eye
For something gone which should be nigh,
A loss in all familiar things,
In flower that blooms, and bird that sings.
And yet, dear heart! remembering thee,
Am I not richer than of old?
Safe in thy immortality,
What change can reach the wealth I hold?
What chance can mar the pearl and gold
Thy love hath left in trust with me?
And while in life’s late afternoon,
Where cool and long the shadows grow,
I walk to meet the night that soon
Shall shape and shadow overflow,
I cannot feel that thou art far,
Since near at need the angels are;
And when the sunset gates unbar,
Shall I not see thee waiting stand,
And, white against the evening star,
The welcome of thy beckoning hand?

Brisk wielder of the birch and rule,
The master of the district school
Held at the fire his favored place,
Its warm glow lit a laughing face
Fresh-hued and fair, where scarce appeared
The uncertain prophecy of beard.
He teased the mitten-blinded cat,
Played cross-pins on my uncle’s hat,
Sang songs, and told us what befalls
In classic Dartmouth’s college halls.
Born the wild Northern hills among,
From whence his yeoman father wrung
By patient toil subsistence scant,
Not competence and yet not want,
He early gained the power to pay
His cheerful, self-reliant way;
Could doff at ease his scholar’s gown
To peddle wares from town to town;
Or through the long vacation’s reach
In lonely lowland districts teach,
Where all the droll experience found
At stranger hearths in boarding round,
The moonlit skater’s keen delight,
The sleigh-drive through the frosty night,
The rustic party, with its rough
Accompaniment of blind-man’s-buff,
And whirling-plate, and forfeits paid,
His winter task a pastime made.
Happy the snow-locked homes wherein
He tuned his merry violin,

Or played the athlete in the barn,
Or held the good dame’s winding-yarn,
Or mirth-provoking versions told
Of classic legends rare and old,
Wherein the scenes of Greece and Rome
Had all the commonplace of home,
And little seemed at best the odds
‘Twixt Yankee pedlers and old gods;
Where Pindus-born Arachthus took
The guise of any grist-mill brook,
And dread Olympus at his will
Became a huckleberry hill.

A careless boy that night he seemed;
But at his desk he had the look
And air of one who wisely schemed,
And hostage from the future took
In trainëd thought and lore of book.
Large-brained, clear-eyed, of such as he
Shall Freedom’s young apostles be,
Who, following in War’s ****** trail,
Shall every lingering wrong assail;
All chains from limb and spirit strike,
Uplift the black and white alike;
Scatter before their swift advance
The darkness and the ignorance,
The pride, the lust, the squalid sloth,
Which nurtured Treason’s monstrous growth,
Made ****** pastime, and the hell
Of prison-torture possible;
The cruel lie of caste refute,
Old forms remould, and substitute
For Slavery’s lash the freeman’s will,
For blind routine, wise-handed skill;
A school-house plant on every hill,
Stretching in radiate nerve-lines thence
The quick wires of intelligence;
Till North and South together brought
Shall own the same electric thought,
In peace a common flag salute,
And, side by side in labor’s free
And unresentful rivalry,
Harvest the fields wherein they fought.

Another guest that winter night
Flashed back from lustrous eyes the light.
Unmarked by time, and yet not young,
The honeyed music of her tongue
And words of meekness scarcely told
A nature passionate and bold,

Strong, self-concentred, spurning guide,
Its milder features dwarfed beside
Her unbent will’s majestic pride.
She sat among us, at the best,
A not unfeared, half-welcome guest,
Rebuking with her cultured phrase
Our homeliness of words and ways.
A certain pard-like, treacherous grace
Swayed the lithe limbs and drooped the lash,
Lent the white teeth their dazzling flash;
And under low brows, black with night,
Rayed out at times a dangerous light;
The sharp heat-lightnings of her face
Presaging ill to him whom Fate
Condemned to share her love or hate.
A woman tropical, intense
In thought and act, in soul and sense,
She blended in a like degree
The ***** and the devotee,
Revealing with each freak or feint
The temper of Petruchio’s Kate,
The raptures of Siena’s saint.
Her tapering hand and rounded wrist
Had facile power to form a fist;
The warm, dark languish of her eyes
Was never safe from wrath’s surprise.
Brows saintly calm and lips devout
Knew every change of scowl and pout;
And the sweet voice had notes more high
And shrill for social battle-cry.

Since then what old cathedral town
Has missed her pilgrim staff and gown,
What convent-gate has held its lock
Against the challenge of her knock!
Through Smyrna’s plague-hushed thoroughfares,
Up sea-set Malta’s rocky stairs,
Gray olive slopes of hills that hem
Thy tombs and shrines, Jerusalem,
Or startling on her desert throne
The crazy Queen of Lebanon
With claims fantastic as her own,
Her tireless feet have held their way;
And still, unrestful, bowed, and gray,
She watches under Eastern skies,
With hope each day renewed and fresh,
The Lord’s quick coming in the flesh,
Whereof she dreams and prophesies!
Where’er her troubled path may be,
The Lord’s sweet pity with her go!
The outward wayward life we see,
The hidden springs we may not know.
Nor is it given us to discern
What threads the fatal sisters spun,
Through what ancestral years has run
The sorrow with the woman born,
What forged her cruel chain of moods,
What set her feet in solitudes,
And held the love within her mute,
What mingled madness in the blood,
A life-long discord and annoy,
Water of tears with oil of joy,
And hid within the folded bud
Perversities of flower and fruit.
It is not ours to separate
The tangled skein of will and fate,
To show what metes and bounds should stand
Upon the soul’s debatable land,
And between choice and Providence
Divide the circle of events;
But He who knows our frame is just,
Merciful and compassionate,
And full of sweet assurances
And hope for all the language is,
That He remembereth we are dust!

At last the great logs, crumbling low,
Sent out a dull and duller glow,
The bull’s-eye watch that hung in view,
Ticking its weary circuit through,
Pointed with mutely warning sign
Its black hand to the hour of nine.
That sign the pleasant circle broke:
My uncle ceased his pipe to smoke,
Knocked from its bowl the refuse gray,
And laid it tenderly away;
Then roused himself to safely cover
The dull red brands with ashes over.
And while, with care, our mother laid
The work aside, her steps she stayed
One moment, seeking to express
Her grateful sense of happiness
For food and shelter, warmth and health,
And love’s contentment more than wealth,
With simple wishes (not the weak,
Vain prayers which no fulfilment seek,
But such as warm the generous heart,
O’er-prompt to do with Heaven its part)
That none might lack, that bitter night,
For bread and clothing, warmth and light.

Within our beds awhile we heard
The wind that round the gables roared,
With now and then a ruder shock,
Which made our very bedsteads rock.
We heard the loosened clapboards tost,
The board-nails snapping in the frost;
And on us, through the unplastered wall,
Felt the light sifted snow-flakes fall.
But sleep stole on, as sleep will do
When hearts are light and life is new;
Faint and more faint the murmurs grew,
Till in the summer-land of dreams
They softened to the sound of streams,
Low stir of leaves, and dip of oars,
And lapsing waves on quiet shores.
Of merry voices high and clear;
And saw the teamsters drawing near
To break the drifted highways out.
Down the long hillside treading slow
We saw the half-buried oxen go,
Shaking the snow from heads uptost,
Their straining nostrils white with frost.
Before our door the straggling train
Drew up, an added team to gain.
The elders threshed their hands a-cold,
Passed, with the cider-mug, their jokes
From lip to lip; the younger folks
Down the loose snow-banks, wrestling, rolled,
Then toiled again the cavalcade
O’er windy hill, through clogged ravine,
And woodland paths that wound between
Low drooping pine-boughs winter-weighed.
From every barn a team afoot,
At every house a new recruit,
Where, drawn by Nature’s subtlest law,
Haply the watchful young men saw
Sweet doorway pictures of the curls
And curious eyes of merry girls,
Lifting their hands in mock defence
Against the snow-ball’s compliments,
And reading in each missive tost
The charm with Eden never lost.
We heard once more the sleigh-bells’ sound;
And, following where the teamsters led,
The wise old Doctor went his round,
Just pausing at our door to say,
In the brief autocratic way
Of one who, prompt at Duty’s call,
Was free to urge her claim on all,
That some poor neighbor sick abed
At night our mother’s aid would need.
For, one in generous thought and deed,
What mattered in the sufferer’s sight
The Quaker matron’s inward light,
The Doctor’s mail of Calvin’s creed?
All hearts confess the saints elect
Who, twain in faith, in love agree,
And melt not in an acid sect
The Christian pearl of charity!

So days went on: a week had passed
Since the great world was heard from last.
The Almanac we studied o’er,
Read and reread our little store
Of books and pamphlets, scarce a score;
One harmless novel, mostly hid
From younger eyes, a book forbid,
And poetry, (or good or bad,
A single book was all we had,)
Where Ellwood’s meek, drab-skirted Muse,
A stranger to the heathen Nine,
Sang, with a somewhat nasal whine,
The wars of David and the Jews.
At last the floundering carrier bore
The village paper to our door.
Lo! broadening outward as we read,
To warmer zones the horizon spread
In panoramic length unrolled
We saw the marvels that it told.
Before us passed the painted Creeks,
A   nd daft McGregor on his raids
In Costa Rica’s everglades.
And up Taygetos winding slow
Rode Ypsilanti’s Mainote Greeks,
A Turk’s head at each saddle-bow!
Welcome to us its week-old news,
Its corner for the rustic Muse,
Its monthly gauge of snow and rain,
Its record, mingling in a breath
The wedding bell and dirge of death:
Jest, anecdote, and love-lorn tale,
The latest culprit sent to jail;
Its hue and cry of stolen and lost,
Its vendue sales and goods at cost,
And traffic calling loud for gain.
We felt the stir of hall and street,
The pulse of life that round us beat;
The chill embargo of the snow
Was melted in the genial glow;
Wide swung again our ice-locked door,
And all the world was ours once more!

Clasp, Angel of the backword look
And folded wings of ashen gray
And voice of echoes far away,
The brazen covers of thy book;
The weird palimpsest old and vast,
Wherein thou hid’st the spectral past;
Where, closely mingling, pale and glow
The characters of joy and woe;
The monographs of outlived years,
Or smile-illumed or dim with tears,
Green hills of life that ***** to death,
And haunts of home, whose vistaed trees
Shade off to mournful cypresses
With the white amaranths underneath.
Even while I look, I can but heed
The restless sands’ incessant fall,
Importunate hours that hours succeed,
Each clamorous with its own sharp need,
And duty keeping pace with all.
Shut down and clasp with heavy lids;
I hear again the voice that bids
The dreamer leave his dream midway
For larger hopes and graver fears:
Life greatens in these later years,
The century’s aloe flowers to-day!

Yet, haply, in some lull of life,
Some Truce of God which breaks its strife,
The worldling’s eyes shall gather dew,
Dreaming in throngful city ways
Of winter joys his boyhood knew;
And dear and early friends — the few
Who yet remain — shall pause to view
These Flemish pictures of old days;
Sit with me by the homestead hearth,
And stretch the hands of memory forth
To warm them at the wood-fire’s blaze!
And thanks untraced to lips unknown
Shall greet me like the odors blown
From unseen meadows newly mown,
Wood-fringed, the wayside gaze beyond;
The traveller owns the grateful sense
Of sweetness near, he knows not whence,
And, pausing, takes with forehead bare
The benediction of the air.

Written in  1865
In its day, 'twas a best-seller and earned significant income for Whittier
SJG Aug 15
I'll stay until my face is chalk-white,
Through an arcade on fire, two sets of stilts, a paper trail threading
The thought to the sun to the sun to the sun to the singing
Girls dangling from the balcony to the sad
Creeps in the basement to the sun to the gospel
And the goslings and the bestiaries of blood to the hearts
Of stone, eyes of jelly, and the spinal
Columns of wood.

And they still deal in illusions and they still deign
To hire the crew and arrange the set and decide that the voice
Of the collective is still one without depth.
And everybody got dumber and everybody missed the point.
And each of us was an unlit lantern swinging in the wind.
And each of us was an unlit lantern whistling to the night.

Take the dog out day-to-day.
Call your mother while you have the chance.
Burn the church-house then sit upon the steps.
Be patient. In a stand-off, god always buckles.
The sun peers out. Eventually.

The bell that cracked is ringing back.
A hundred chimes for each face.

True love takes a lot.
It takes a face to a face to a face.

Here, honey, all we have is money.
All we have discovered is how little money can do.
We still have fun, but there's no-one.

It's either or the other:
A spirit that drags our art into the light,
Or a cell in the guise of a hand.

Soap-star in distress, now's the time to rest.
The world and its plans are carved into marble,
Where "once was" isn't, and "what is" wasn't,
And your career has nosedived
like a shopping trolley down a steep incline
And your audience are the youths stood at the peak,
Enthralled by themselves and high-fiving.

Bambi, little queen,
You forgot what it takes to be free.
Don't leave the house, the house hasn't left you.
Don't be scared of the doorframe or the cold
Or the heat or the bursting of blood-vessels.
Just dig a hole and think there
Just dig a hole and think there
Just dig a hole and think.

And, Caroline. Caroline.
Don't see the world or yourself as a mountain
That you have to climb. There's nothing to climb.
Just do the things that you want to.
Don't die. Let in some air. Don't die inside.
Just do the things that you want to.

(And the cold dark moon
And the cold candlelight
And the phantom spinning as a web
Through the sunlight.

And the wrinkled hands
And the glassy eyes
And the room that becomes another room
As your memory's fading.

And the hill on fire
And the hotel on that hill
And the air-ambulance flying through the sky
Until it was another speckle of starlight.)

I want to see you there.
I want to see you there.
I don't want to die before I see you
There on the far-off side.
Michael Mar 13
When your muscles are starting to let you down,
When your hearing what is not being said,
When the staircase at home turns your smile to a frown
When the shopping fills you with dread;
When kids use words that you don’t understand,
When on trains and buses you’re offered a seat,
When you feel that your life’s getting quite out of hand
When you fear the dark in the street;
When people ignore the advice that you give,
When the young deign not to notice you,
When every thought sours the way that you live,
When you can’t see the point of the things that you do;
When it’s all too hard to comprehend,
When there seems no point to even try,
When all you want is to grasp that end
When its finally time for you to die.

— The End —