20150303

Idea

XX

by Michael Drayton


An evil Spirit (your Beauty) haunts me still,
Wherewith, alas, I have been long possesst;
Which ceaseth not to attempt me to each ill,
Nor give me once, but one poor minute’s rest.
  In me it speaks, whether I sleep or wake:       
And when by means to drive it out I try,
With greater torments then it me doth take,
And tortures me in most extremity.
  Before my face, it lays down my despairs,
And hastes me on unto a sudden death:        
Now tempting me, to drown myself in tears;
And then in sighing to give up my breath.
  Thus am I still provoked to every evil,
  By this good-wicked Spirit, sweet Angel-Devil.

Note:  A recitation can be heard here.

Idea

VI

by Michael Drayton

How many paltry foolish painted Things,
That now in coaches trouble every street,
Shall be forgotten (whom no Poet sings)
Ere they be well wrapped in their winding sheet!
  Where I, to thee Eternity shall give!       
When nothing else remaineth of these days.
And Queens hereafter shall be glad to live
Upon the alms of thy superfluous praise.
  Virgins and matrons, reading these my rhymes,
Shall be so much delighted with thy Story,        
That they shall grieve they lived not in these Times,
To have seen Thee, their sex’s only glory!
  So shalt thou fly above the vulgar throng,
  Still to survive in my immortal Song.

20150301

Afterthoughts

by Edwin Arlington Robinson

We parted where the old gas-lamp still burned
Under the wayside maple and walked on,
Into the dark, as we had always done;
And I, no doubt, if he had not returned,
Might yet be unaware that he had earned
More than earth gives to many who have won
More than it has to give when they are gone--
As duly and indelibly I learned.

The sum of all that he came back to say
Was little then, and would be less to-day:
With him there were no Delphic heights to climb,
Yet his were somehow nearer the sublime.
He spoke, and went again by the old way
Not knowing it would be for the last time.

Note:  A recitation can be heard here.

20150228

Song of Myself

by Walt Whitman

14


The wild gander leads his flock through the cool night, 
Ya-honk he says, and sounds it down to me like an invitation, 
The pert may suppose it meaningless, but I listening close, 
Find its purpose and place up there toward the wintry sky. 


The sharp-hoof’d moose of the north, the cat on the house-sill, the chickadee, the prairie-dog, 
The litter of the grunting sow as they tug at her teats, 
The brood of the turkey-hen and she with her half-spread wings, 
I see in them and myself the same old law. 


The press of my foot to the earth springs a hundred affections, 
They scorn the best I can do to relate them. 


I am enamour’d of growing out-doors, 
Of men that live among cattle or taste of the ocean or woods, 
Of the builders and steerers of ships and the wielders of axes and mauls, and the drivers of horses, 
I can eat and sleep with them week in and week out. 


What is commonest, cheapest, nearest, easiest, is Me, 
Me going in for my chances, spending for vast returns, 
Adorning myself to bestow myself on the first that will take me, 
Not asking the sky to come down to my good will, 
Scattering it freely forever.

Note:  A recitation can be heard here.

20150226

Song of Myself

by Walt Whitman

13


The negro holds firmly the reins of his four horses, the block swags underneath on its tied-over chain, 
The negro that drives the long dray of the stone-yard, steady and tall he stands pois’d on one leg on the string-piece, 
His blue shirt exposes his ample neck and breast and loosens over his hip-band, 
His glance is calm and commanding, he tosses the slouch of his hat away from his forehead, 
The sun falls on his crispy hair and mustache, falls on the black of his polish’d and perfect limbs. 


I behold the picturesque giant and love him, and I do not stop there, 
I go with the team also. 


In me the caresser of life wherever moving, backward as well as forward sluing, 
To niches aside and junior bending, not a person or object missing, 
Absorbing all to myself and for this song. 


Oxen that rattle the yoke and chain or halt in the leafy shade, what is that you express in your eyes? 
It seems to me more than all the print I have read in my life. 


My tread scares the wood-drake and wood-duck on my distant and day-long ramble, 
They rise together, they slowly circle around. 


I believe in those wing’d purposes, 
And acknowledge red, yellow, white, playing within me, 
And consider green and violet and the tufted crown intentional, 
And do not call the tortoise unworthy because she is not something else, 
And the jay in the woods never studied the gamut, yet trills pretty well to me, 
And the look of the bay mare shames silliness out of me.

Note:  A recitation can be heard here.

20150225

As It Looked Then

by Edwin Arlington Robinson

In a sick shade of spruce, moss-webbed, rock-fed,
Where, long unfollowed by sagacious man,
A scrub that once had been a pathway ran
Blindly from nowhere and to nowhere led,
One might as well have been among the dead
As half way there alive; so I began
Like a malingering pioneer to plan
A vain return--with one last look ahead.

And it was then that like a spoken word
Where there was none to speak, insensibly
A flash of blue that might have been a bird
Grew soon to the calm wonder of the sea--
Calm as a quiet sky that looked to be
Arching a world where nothing had occurred.

She Walks in Beauty

by Lord Byron

She walks in beauty, like the night
  Of cloudless climes and starry skies;
And all that’s best of dark and bright
  Meet in her aspect and her eyes:
Thus mellow’d to that tender light        
  Which heaven to gaudy day denies.

One shade the more, one ray the less,
  Had half impair’d the nameless grace
Which waves in every raven tress,
  Or softly lightens o’er her face;        
Where thoughts serenely sweet express
  How pure, how dear their dwelling-place.

And on that cheek, and o’er that brow,
  So soft, so calm, yet eloquent,
The smiles that win, the tints that glow,        
  But tell of days in goodness spent,
A mind at peace with all below,
  A heart whose love is innocent!

Note:  A recitation can be heard here.