by Rainer Maria Rilke
Translated by Galway Kinnell

And so I see your feet again, Jesus,
which then were the feet of a young man
when shyly I undressed them and washed them;
how they were entangled in my hair,
like white deer in the thornbush. 

And I see your never-loved limbs
for the first time, in this night of love.
We never lay down together
and now we have only adoring and watching over.

But look, your hands are torn--:
beloved, not from me, not from any bites of mine.
your heart is open and anyone can enter:
It should have been the way in for me alone.

Now you are tired, and your tired mouth
has no desire for my aching mouth--.
O Jesus, Jesus, when was our hour?
Now we both wondrously perish.


von Rainer Maria Rilke

So she ich, Jesus, deine Füße wieder,
die damals eines Jünglings Füße waren,
da ich sie bang entkleidete und wusch;
wie standen sie verwirrt in meinen Haaren
und wie ein weißes Wild im Dornbusch.

So she ich deine niegeliebten Glieder
zum erstmal in dieser Liebesnacht.
Wir legten uns noch nie zusammen nieder,
und nun wird nur bewundert und gewacht.

Doch, siehe deine Hände sind zerrissen--:
Geliebter, nicht von mir, von meinen Bissen.
Dein Herz steht offen und man kann hinein:
das hätte dürfen nur mein Eingang sein.

Nun bist du müde, und dein müder Mund
hat keine Lust zu meinem wehen Munde--.
O Jesus, Jesus, wann war unsre Stunde?
Wie gehn wir beide wunderlich zugrund.

Note:  A recitation can be heard here.


Tennemi Amor anni ventuno ardendo

by Francesco Petrarca
Translated by Anthony Mortimer

For twenty-one long years Love made me burn,
glad in the fire, hopeful in my pain;
my lady took my heart to heaven's domain,
and so he gave me ten more years to mourn;

Now I am weary, and my life I spurn
for so much error that has almost slain
the seed of virtue, and what years remain,
high God, to you devoutly I return,

contrite and sad for every misspent year,
for time I should have put to better use
in seeking peace and shunning passions here.

Lord, having pent me in this prison close,
from everlasting torment draw me clear:
I know my fault and offer no excuse.

Note:  A recitation can be heard here.


Sonnet. The Token.

by John Donne

Send me some token, that my hope may live,
  Or that my easelesse thoughts may sleep and rest;
Send me some honey to make sweet my hive,
  That in my passion I may hope the best.
I beg noe ribbond wrought with thine owne hands,
  To knit our loves in the fantastick straine
Of new-toucht youth; nor Ring to shew the stands
  Of our affection, that as that's round and plaine,
So should our loves meet in simplicity;
  No, nor the Coralls which thy wrist infold,
Lac'd up together in congruity,
  To shew our thoughts should rest in the same hold;
No, nor thy picture, though most gracious,
  And most desir'd, because best like the best;
Nor witty Lines, which are most copious,
  Within the Writings which thou hast addrest.

  Send me nor this, nor that, t'increase my store,
  But swear thou thinkst I love thee, and no more.

Note:  A recitation can be heard here.



by Sylvia Plath

Tea leaves thwart those who court catastrophe,
designing futures where nothing will occur:
cross the gypsy’s palm and yawning she
will still predict no perils left to conquer.
Jeopardy is jejune now: naïve knight
finds ogres out-of-date and dragons unheard
of, while blasé princesses indict
tilts at terror as downright absurd.

The beast in Jamesian grove will never jump,
compelling hero’s dull career to crisis;
and when insouciant angels play God’s trump,
while bored arena crowds for once look eager,
hoping toward havoc, neither pleas nor prizes
shall coax from doom’s blank door lady or tiger.

Note:  A recitation can be heard here.



by T.S. Eliot


Because I do not hope to turn again
Because I do not hope
Because I do not hope to turn
Desiring this man's gift and that man's scope
I no longer strive to strive towards such things
(Why should the agèd eagle stretch its wings?)
Why should I mourn
The vanished power of the usual reign?

    Because I do not hope to know again
The infirm glory of the positive hour
Because I do not think
Because I know I shall not know
The one veritable transitory power
Because I cannot drink
There, where trees flower, and springs flow, for there is
       nothing again

    Because I know that time is always time
And place is always and only place
And what is actual is actual only for one time
And only for one place
I rejoice that things are as they are and
I renounce the blessèd face
And renounce the voice
Because I cannot hope to turn again
Consequently I rejoice, having to construct something
Upon which to rejoice

    And pray to God to have mercy upon us
And I pray that I may forget 
These matters that with myself I too much discuss
Too much explain
Because I do not hope to turn again
Let these words answer
For what is done, not to be done again
May the judgement not be too heavy upon us

    Because these wings are no longer wings to fly
But merely vans to beat the air
The air which is now thoroughly small and dry
Smaller and dryer than the will
Teach us to care and not to care
Teach us to sit still.

    Pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death
Pray for us now and at the hour of our death.


Troilus and Criseyde

Book V, Lines 1786-1813

by Geoffrey Chaucer

Go, litel book, go litel myn tragedie,
Ther god thy maker yet, er that he dye,
So sende might to make in som comedie!
But litel book, no making thou nenvye,
But subgit be to alle poesye;
And kis the steppes, wher-as thou seest pace
Virgile, Ovyde, Omer, Lucan, and Stace.

And for ther is so greet diversitee
In English and in wryting of our tonge,
So preye I god that noon miswryte thee,
Ne thee mismetre for defaute of tonge.
And red wher-so thou be, or elles songe,
That thou be understonde I god beseche!
But yet to purpos of my rather speche. --

The wraththe, as I began yow for to seye,
Of Troilus, the Grekes boughten dere;
For thousandes his hondes maden deye,
As he that was with-outen any pere,
Save Ector, in his tyme, as I can here.
But weylawey, save only goddes wille,
Dispitously him slough the fiers Achille.

And whan that he was slayn in this manere,
His lighte goost ful blisfully is went
Up to the holownesse of the seventh spere,
In convers letinge every element;
And ther he saugh, with ful avysement,
The erratik sterres, herkeninge armonye
With sownes fulle of hevenish melody.
Note:  A recitation can be heard here.


No Second Troy

by William Butler Yeats

Why should I blame her that she filled my days
With misery, or that she would of late
Have taught to ignorant men most violent ways,
Or hurled the little streets upon the great,
Had they but courage equal to desire?
What could have made her peaceful with a mind
That nobleness made simple as a fire,
With beauty like a tightened bow, a kind
That is not natural in an age like this,
Being high and solitary and most stern?
Why, what could she have done, being what she is?
Was there another Troy for her to burn?