The trees are in their autumn beauty,
The woodland paths are dry,
Under the October twilight the water
Mirrors a still sky;
Upon the brimming water among the stones
Are nine-and-fifty swans.
The nineteenth autumn has come upon me
Since I first made my count;
I saw, before I had well finished,
All suddenly mount
And scatter wheeling in great broken rings
Upon their clamorous wings.
I have looked upon these brilliant creatures,
And now my heart is sore.
All’s changed since I, hearing at twilight,
The first time on this shore,
The bell-beat of their wings above my head,
Trod with a lighter tread.
Unwearied still, lover by lover,
They paddle in the cold
Companionable streams or climb the air;
Their hearts have not grown old;
Passion or conquest, wander where they will,
Attend upon them still.
But now they drift on the still water,
Among what rushes will they build,
By what lake’s edge or pool
Delight men’s eyes when I awake some day
To find they have flown away?
William Butler Yeats, 1919
If there were dreams to sell,
What would you buy?
Some cost a passing bell;
Some a light sigh,
That shakes from Life’s fresh crown
Only a rose-leaf down.
If there were dreams to sell,
Merry and sad to tell,
And the carrier rang that bell,
What would you buy?
A cottage lone and still,
With bowers nigh,
Shadowy, my woes to still,
Until I die.
Such pearls from Life’s fresh crown
Fain would I shake me down.
Were dreams to have at will,
This would best heal my ill,
This would I buy.
But there were dreams to sell
Ill didst thou buy;
Life is a dream, they tell,
Waking, to die.
Dreaming a dream to prize,
Is wishing ghosts to rise;
And if I had the spell
To call the buried well,
Which one would I?
If there are ghosts to raise,
What shall I call,
Out of hell’s murky haze,
Heaven’s blue pall?
Raise my loved long-lost boy,
To lead me to his joy.—
There are no ghosts to raise;
Out of death lead no ways;
Vain is the call.
Know’st thou not ghosts to sue,
No love thou hast.
Else lie, as I will do,
And breathe thy last.
So out of Life’s fresh crown
Fall like a rose-leaf down.
Thus are the ghosts to woo;
Thus are all dreams made true,
Ever to last!
Thomas Lovell Beddoes, sometime 1829-1844
Sleep, sleep for this winter of death is but short
And the springtime of salvation will soon arise
Your soul will awake in a new-made world
And look upon it with be-wondered, all-seeing eyes
24 July 2009
His change that I change and break the chains that bind me
Disdain the mortal-making sins and leave the world behind me
Transfiguration eve, about 9 pm
I grieve, yet dare not show my discontent;
I love, and yet am forced to seem to hate;
I dote, but dare not what I ever meant,
I seem stark mute, yet inwardly doe prate;
I am, and am not—freeze, and yet I burn;
Since from myself my other self I turn.
My care is like a shadow in the sun—
Follows me flying—flies when I pursue it,
Stands and lives by me—does what I have done;
This too familiar care doth make me rue it.
No means I find to rid him from my breast,
Till by the end of things it be suppressed.
Some gentler passion steal into my mind,
(For I am soft and made of melting snow),
Or be more cruel, Love, or be more kind,
Or let me float or sink, be high or low;
Or let me live with some more sweet content,
Or die, and forget what love e’er meant.
Queen Elizabeth I, 1581
There is a very catchy tune based upon excerpts from this poem, performed by The Medieval Baebes, written by Michael Phipps and part of the soundtrack to The Virgin Queen.
By day she woos me, soft, exceeding fair :
But all night as the moon so changeth she ;
Loathsome and foul with hideous leprosy,
And subtle serpents gliding in her hair.
By day she woos me to the outer air,
Ripe fruits, sweet flowers, and full satiety :
But thro’ the night a beast she grins at me,
A very monster void of love and prayer.
By day she stands a lie : by night she stands
In the naked horror of the truth,
With pushing horns and clawed and clutching hands.
Is this a friend indeed, that I should sell
My soul to her, give her my life and youth,
Till my feet, cloven too, take hold on hell?
Christina Georgina Rossetti, 27 June 1854
Let me powre forth
My teares before thy face, whil’st I stay here,
For thy face coines them, and thy stampe they beare,
And by this Mintage they are something worth,
For thus they bee
Pregnant of thee;
Fruits of much grief they are, emblemes of more,
When a teare falls, that thou falls which it bore,
So thou and I are nothing then, when on a divers shore.
On a round ball
A workeman that hath copies by, can lay
An Europe, Afrique, and an Asia,
And quickly make that, which was nothing, All:
So doth each teare,
Which thee doth weare.
A globe, yea world by that impression grow,
Till thy teares mixt with mine doe overflow
This world, by waters sent from thee, my heaven dissolved so.
O more than Moone,
Draw not up seas to drowne me in thy spheare,
Weepe me not dead, in thine armes, but forbeare
To teache the sea, what it may doe too soone;
Let not the winde
To doe me more harme, than it purposeth;
Since thou and I sigh one anothers breath,
Who e’r sighes most, is cruellest, and hastes the others death.
John Donne, 1633
A moon impoverished amid stars curtailed,
A sun of its exuberant lustre shorn,
A transient morning that is scarcely morn,
A lingering night in double dimness veiled.—
Our hands are slackened and our strength has failed;
We born to darkness, wherefore were we born?
No ripening more for olive, grape, or corn ;
Faith faints, hope faints, even love himself has paled.
Nay ! love lifts up a face like any rose
Flushing and sweet above a thorny stem,
Softly protesting that the way he knows;
And as for faith and hope, will carry them
Safe to the gate of New Jerusalem,
Where light shines full and where the palm-tree blows.
Christina Georgina Rossetti. Before 1893.