Tuesday, December 30, 2008

from Ulalume

These were days when my heart was volcanic

As the scoriac rivers that roll –
As the lavas that restlessly roll
Their sulphurous currents down Yaanek
In the ultimate climes of the pole - ...

Well I know, now, this dim lake of Auber –
This misty region of Weir –
Well I know, now, this dank tarn of Auber...
...Ah, what demon has tempted me here?


The rain when it falls doesn’t vex me,
Let me stumble and fall into graves;
The mists make me blind, it can’t trouble my mind
For I’m just walking on, walking on.

from Auguries of Innocence

To see a World in a Grain of Sand

And a Heaven in a Wild Flower,
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an hour.

from To The Lighthouse

The words seemed to be dropped into a well,

where, if the waters were clear, they were
also so extraordinarily distorting that, even
as they descended, one saw them twisting
about to make Heaven knows what
pattern on the floor of the child's mind.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Talking in Bed

Talking in bed ought to be easiest
Lying together there goes back so far
An emblem of two people being honest.

Yet more and more time passes silently.
Outside the wind's incomplete unrest
builds and disperses clouds about the sky.

And dark towns heap up on the horizon.
None of this cares for us. Nothing shows why
At this unique distance from isolation

It becomes still more difficult to find
Words at once true and kind
Or not untrue and not unkind.

Under Sirius

Yes, these are the dog days, Fortunatus:
The heather lies limp and dead
On the mountain, the baltering torrent
Shrunk to a soodling thread;
Rusty the spears of the legion, unshaven its captain,
Vacant the scholar’s brain
Under his great hat,
Drug though She may, the Sybil utters
A gush of table-chat.

And you yourself with a head-cold and upset stomach,
Lying in bed till noon,
Your bills unpaid, your much advertised
Epic not yet begun,
Are a sufferer too. All day, you tell us, you wish
Some earthquake would astonish,
Or the wind of the Comforter’s wing
Unlock the prisons and translate
The slipshod gathering.

And last night, you say, you dreamed of that bright blue morning,
The hawthorn hedges in bloom,
When, serene in their ivory vessels,
The three wise Maries come,
Sossing through seamless waters, piloted in
By sea-horse and fluent dolphin:
Ah! how the cannons roar,
How jocular the bells as They
Indulge the peccant shore.

It is natural to hope and pious, of course, to believe
That all in the end shall be well,
But first of all, remember,
So the Sacred Books foretell,
The rotten fruit shall be shaken. Would your hope make sense
If today were that moment of silence,
Before it break and drown,
When the insurrected eagre hangs
Over the sleeping town?

How will you look and what will you do when the basalt
Tombs of the sorcerers shatter
And their guardian megalopods
Come after you pitter-patter?
How will you answer when from their qualming spring

The immortal nymphs fly shrieking,
And out of the open sky
The pantocratic riddle breaks -
‘Who are you and why?’

For when in a carol under the apple-trees
The reborn featly dance,
There will also, Fortunatus,
Be those who refused their chance,
Now pottering shades, querulous beside the salt-pits,
And mawkish in their wits,
To whom these dull dog-days
Between event seemed crowned with olive
And golden with self-praise.

In Memory of W. B. Yeats


You were silly like us; your gift survived it all:
The parish of rich women, physical decay,
Yourself. Mad Ireland hurt you into poetry.
Now Ireland has her madness and her weather still,
For poetry makes nothing happen: it survives
In the valley of its making where executives
Would never want to tamper, flows on south
From ranches of isolation and the busy griefs,
Raw towns that we believe and die in; it survives,
A way of happening, a mouth.

The More Loving One

Looking up at the stars, I know quite well
That, for all they care, I can go to hell,
But on earth indifference is the least
We have to dread from man or beast.

How should we like it were stars to burn
With a passion for us we could not return?
If equal affection cannot be,
Let the more loving one be me.

Admirer as I think I am
Of stars that do not give a damn,
I cannot, now I see them, say
I missed one terribly all day.

Were all stars to disappear or die,
I should learn to look at an empty sky
And feel its total dark sublime,
Though this might take me a little time.

En Gallop

This place is damp and ghostly
I am already gone
And the halls were lined
With the disembodied
And the dustly wings
Which fell from flesh

And I go
Where the trees go
And I walk
From a higher education
For now and for hire

It beats me
But I do not know
And it beats me
But I do not know
It beats me
But I do not know
I do not know

Palaces and stormclouds
And the rought, straggly sage, and the smoke
And the way it will all come together
In quietness and in time
And you laws of property
oh you free economy
And you unending afterthoughts
You could've told me before

Never get so attached to a poem
You forget truth that lacks lyricism
And never draw so close to the heat
That you forget that you must eat

Sunday, December 14, 2008


What are days for?
Days are where we live.
They come, they wake us
Time and time over.
They are to be happy in:
Where can we live but days?

Ah, solving that question
Brings the priest and the doctor
In their long coats
Running over the fields.

Love Song in Age

She kept her songs, they kept so little space, 
The covers pleased her:
One bleached from lying in a sunny place,
One marked in circles by a vase of water,
One mended, when a tidy fit had seized her,
And coloured, by her daughter --
So they had waited, till, in widowhood
She found them, looking for something else, and stood

Relearning how each frank submissive chord
Had ushered in
Word after sprawling hyphenated word,
And the unfailing sense of being young
Spread out like a spring-woken tree, wherein
That hidden freshness sung,
That certainty of time laid up in store
As when she played them first. But, even more,

The glare of that much-mentioned brilliance, love,
Broke out, to show
Its bright incipience sailing above,
Still promising to solve, and satisfy,
And set unchangeably in order. So
To pile them back, to cry,
Was hard, without lamely admitting how
It had not done so then, and could not now.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

The Wild Swans at Coole

he 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 those 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
Mysterious, beautiful;
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?

The Second Coming

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: a waste of desert sand;
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Wind shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

The Lake Isle of Innisfree

I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,

And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made:

Nine bean rows will I have there, a hive for the honey-bee,

And live alone in the bee-loud glade.

And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow,

Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings;

There midnight’s all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow,

And evening full of the linnet’s wings.

I will arise and go now, for always night and day

I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;

While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements grey,

I hear it in the deep heart’s core.

The Stolen Child

Where dips the rocky highland
Of Sleuth Wood in the lake,
There lies a leafy island
Where flapping herons wake
The drowsy water-rats;
There we've hid out faery vats,
Full of berries
And the reddest stolen cherries.
Come away, O human child!
To the waters and the wild
With a faery hand in hand,
For the world's more full of weeping than you can understand.

Where the wave of moonlight glosses
The dim grey sands with light,
Far off by furthest Rosses
We foot it all the night,
Weaving olden dances,
Mingling hands and mingling glances
Till the moon has taken flight;
To and fro we leap
And chase the frothy bubbles,
While the world is full of troubles
And is anxious in its sleep.
Come away, O human child!
To the waters of the wild
With a faery hand in hand,
For the world's more full of weeping than you can understand.

Where the wandering water gushes
From the hills above Glen-Car,
In pools among the rushes
That scarce could bathe a star,
We seek for slumbering trout
And whispering in their ears
Give them unquiet dreams;
Leaning softly out
From ferns that drop their tears
Over the young streams.
Come away, O human child!
To the waters and the wild
With a faery hand in hand,
For the world's more full of weeping than you can understand.

Away with us he's going,
The solemn-eyed:
He'll hear no more the lowing
Of the calves on the warm hillside
Or the kettle on the hob
Sing peace into his breast,
Or see the brown mice bob
Round and round the oatmeal-chest.
For he comes, the human child,
To the waters and the wild
With a faery hand in hand,
From a world more full of weeping than he can understand.

from Alexandria

So we, learning to suffer and not condemn
Can only wish you this great pure wind
Condemned by Greece, and turning like a helm
Inland where it smokes the fires of men,
Spins weathercocks on farms or catches
The lovers at their quarrels in the sheets;
Or as a walker in the darkness might,
Knocks and disturbs the artist at his papers
Up there alone, upon the alps of night.


On charts they fall like lace,
Islands consuming in a sea
Born dense with its own blue:
And like repairing mirrors holding up
Small towns and trees and rivers
To the still air, the lovely air:
From the clear side of springing Time,
In clement places where the windmills ride,
Turning over grey springs in Mykonos,
In shadows with a gesture of content.

The statues of the dead here
Embark on sunlight, sealed
Each in her model with the sightless eyes:
The modest stones of Greeks,
Who gravely interrupted death by pleasure.
And in harbours softly fallen
The liver-coloured sails -
Sharp-featured brigantines with eyes -
Ride in reception so like women:
The pathetic faculty of girls
To register and utter desire
In the arms of men upon the new-mown waters,
Follow the wind, with their long shining keels
Aimed across Delos at a star.

The Lost Heifer

When the black herds of the rain were grazing,
In the gap of the pure cold wind
And the watery hazes of the hazel
Brought her into my mind,
I thought of the last honey by the water
That no hive can find.

Brightness was drenching through the branches
When she wandered again,
Turning sliver out of dark grasses
Where the skylark had lain,
And her voice coming softly over the meadow
Was the mist becoming rain.

Friday, December 12, 2008

The Dong with a Luminous Nose

When awful darkness and silence reign
Over the great Gromboolian plain,
Through the long, long wintry nights;--
When the angry breakers roar
As they beat on the rocky shore;--
When Storm-clouds brood on the towering heights
Of the Hills of the Chankly Bore:--

Then, through the vast and gloomy dark,
There moves what seems a fiery spark,
A lonely spark with silvery rays
Piercing the coal-black night,--
A Meteor strange and bright:--
Hither and thither the vision strays,
A single lurid light.

Slowly it wanders,--pauses,--creeeps,--
Anon it sparkles,--flashes and leaps;
And ever as onward it gleaming goes
A light on the Bong-tree stems it throws.
And those who watch at that midnight hour
From Hall or Terrace, or lofty Tower,
Cry, as the wild light passes along,--
'The Dong!--the Dong!
'The wandering Dong through the forest goes!
'The Dong! the Dong!
'The Dong with a luminous Nose!'

Long years ago
The Dong was happy and gay,
Till he fell in love with a Jumbly Girl
Who came to those shores one day,
For the Jumblies came in a sieve, they did,--
Landing at eve near the Zemmery Fidd
Where the Oblong Oysters grow,
And the rocks are smooth and gray.
And all the woods and the valleys rang
With the Chorus they daily and nightly sang,--
'Far and few, far and few,
Are the lands where the Jumblies live;
Their heads are green, and their hands are blue
And they went to sea in a sieve.'

Happily, happily passed those days!
While the cheerful Jumblies staid;
They danced in circlets all night long,
To the plaintive pipe of the lively Dong,
In moonlight, shine, or shade.
For day and night he was always there
By the side of the Jumbly Girl so fair,
With her sky-blue hands, and her sea-green hair.
Till the morning came of that hateful day
When the Jumblies sailed in their sieve away,
And the Dong was left on the cruel shore
Gazing--gazing for evermore,--
Ever keeping his weary eyes on
That pea-green sail on the far horizon,--
Singing the Jumbly Chorus still
As he sate all day on the grassy hill,--
'Far and few, far and few,
Are the lands where the Jumblies live;
Their heads are green, and their hands are blue
And they went to sea in a sieve.'

But when the sun was low in the West,
The Dong arose and said;--
--'What little sense I once possessed
'Has quite gone out of my head!'--
And since that day he wanders still
By lake or forest, marsh and hill,
Singing--'O somewhere, in valley or plain
'Might I find my Jumbly Girl again!
'For ever I'll seek by lake and shore
'Till I find my Jumbly Girl once more!'

Playing a pipe with silvery squeaks,
Since then his Jumbly Girl he seeks,
And because by night he could not see,
He gathered the bark of the Twangum Tree
On the flowery plain that grows.
And he wove him a wondrous Nose,--
A Nose as strange as a Nose could be!
Of vast proportions and painted red,
And tied with cords to the back of his head.
--In a hollow rounded space it ended
With a luminous Lamp within suspended,
All fenced about
With a bandage stout
To prevent the wind from blowing it out;--
And with holes all round to send the light,
In gleaming rays on the dismal night.

And now each night, and all night long,
Over those plains still roams the Dong;
And above the wall of the Chimp and Snipe
You may hear the sqeak of his plaintive pipe
While ever he seeks, but seeks in vain
To meet with his Jumbly Girl again;
Lonely and wild--all night he goes,--
The Dong with a luminous Nose!
And all who watch at the midnight hour,
From Hall or Terrace, or lofty Tower,
Cry, as they trace the Meteor bright,
Moving along through the dreary night,--
'This is the hour when forth he goes,
'The Dong with a luminous Nose!
'Yonder--over the plain he goes,
'He goes!
'He goes;
'The Dong with a luminous Nose!'

Untitled ~ (translation)

In each breast there is only one heart beat

And there´s only one road you can go

And if you´re afraid to walk down it

You will never arrive at your goal.

Love´s map is erratic and lawless

Its ways rose-coloured and wild -

If you wish for a future that´s certain

Be not by love´s vision beguiled.

If you don´t know the weight of earth´s burden

When the bell tolls its knell in the gloom,

Then your life is a tissue of fancy

And as dry as the dust of the tomb

Epistle To Be Left In The Earth

...It is colder now,
there are many stars,
we are drifting
North by the Great Bear,
the leaves are falling,
The water is stone in the scooped rocks,
to southward
Red sun grey air:
the crows are
Slow on their crooked wings,
the jays have left us:
Long since we passed the flares of Orion.
Each man believes in his heart he will die.
Many have written last thoughts and last letters.
None know if our deaths are now or forever:
None know if this wandering earth will be found.

We lie down and the snow covers our garments.
I pray you,
you (if any open this writing),
Make in your mouths the words that were our names.
I will tell you all we have learned,
I will tell you everything:
The earth is round,
there are springs under the orchards,
The loam cuts with a blunt knife,
beware of
Elms in thunder,
the lights in the sky are stars——
We think they do not see,
we think also
The trees do not know nor the leaves of the grasses hear us:
The birds too are ignorant.
Do not listen.
Do not stand at dark in the open windows.
We before you have heard this:
they are voices:
They are not words at all but the wind rising.
Also none among us has seen God.
(...We have thought often
The flaws of sun in the late and driving weather
Pointed to one tree but it was not so.)
As for the nights I warn you the nights are dangerous:
The wind changes at night and the dreams come.

It is very cold,
there are strange stars near Arcturus,

Voices are crying an unknown name in the sky.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

from Preludes for Memnon

What shall we do-what shall we think-what shall we say-?
Why, as the crocus does, on a March morning,
With just such shape and brightness; such fragility;
Such white and gold, and out of just such earth.
Or as the cloud does on the northeast wind-
Fluent and formless; or as the tree that withers.
What are we made of, strumpet, but of these?
Nothing. We are the sum of all these accidents-
Compounded all our days of idiot trifles,-
The this, the that, the other, and the next;
What x or y said, or old uncle thought;
Whether it rained or not, and at what hour;
Whether the pudding had two eggs or three,
And those we loved were ladies....Were they ladies?
And did they read the proper books, and simper
With proper persons, at the proper teas?
O Christ and God and all deciduous things-
Let us void out this nonsense and be healed.

There is no doubt that we shall do, as always,
Just what the crocus does. There is no doubt
Your Helen of Troy is all that she has seen,-
All filth, all beauty, all honor and deceit.
The spider's web will hang in her bright mind,-
The dead fly die there doubly; and the rat
Find sewers to his liking. She will walk
In such a world as this alone could give-
This of the moment, this mad world of mirrors
And of corrosive memory. She will know
The lecheries of the cockroach and the worm,
The chemistry of the sunset, the foul seeds
Laid by the intellect in the simple heart...
And knowing all these things, she will be she.

She will be also the sunrise on the grassblade-
But pay no heed to that. She will be also
The infinite tenderness of the voice of morning-
But pay no heed to that. She will be also
The grain of elmwood, and the ply of water,
Whirlings in sand and smoke, wind in the ferns,
the fixed bright eyes of dolls.... And this is all.