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Poetic Wanderings

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Since brass, nor stone, nor earth, nor boundless sea,
But sad mortality o'ersways their power,
How with this rage shall beauty hold a plea,
Whose action is no stronger than a flower?
O, how shall summer's honey breath hold out
Against the wrackful siege of batt'ring days,
When rocks impregnable are not so stout,
Nor gates of steel so strong but Time decays?
O, fearful meditation! Where, alack,
Shall Time's best jewel from Time's chest lie hid?
Or what strong hand can hold his swift foot back?
Or who his spoil of beauty can forbid?
O, none, unless this miracle have might,
That in black ink my love may still shine bright.


Sonnet 65 - William Shakespeare


[Pretty proud of getting brass and stone in here :lol:]

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I met a traveller from an antique land,
Who said—“Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. . . . Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed;
And on the pedestal, these words appear:
My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings;
Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal Wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.”


Ozymandias by Percy Bysshe Shelley

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I have a weakness for Victorian 'Parlour Poetry', so I offer you:


The boy stood on the burning deck,

Whence all but he had fled;

The flame that lit the battle’s wreck,

Shone round him o’er the dead.


Yet beautiful and bright he stood,

As born to rule the storm;

A creature of heroic blood,

A proud, though childlike form.


The flames rolled on – he would not go,

Without his father’s word;

That father, faint in death below,

His voice no longer heard.


He called aloud – ‘Say, father, say

If yet my task is done?’

He knew not that the chieftain lay

Unconscious of his son.


‘Speak, father!’ once again he cried,

‘If I may yet be gone!’

– And but the booming shots replied,

And fast the flames rolled on.


Upon his brow he felt their breath

And in his waving hair;

And look’d from that lone post of death,

In still yet brave despair.


And shouted but once more aloud,

‘My father! must I stay?’

While o’er him fast, through sail and shroud,

The wreathing fires made way.


They wrapped the ship in splendour wild,

They caught the flag on high,

And streamed above the gallant child,

Like banners in the sky.


There came a burst of thunder sound –

The boy – oh! where was he?

Ask of the winds that far around

With fragments strewed the sea!


With mast, and helm and pennon fair,

That well had borne their part,

But the noblest thing which perished there,

Was that young faithful heart.


Casabianca - Felicia Hemans (1793 - 1835)

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Restless and hot two children lay
Plagued with uneasy dreams,
Each wandered lonely through false day
A twilight torn with screams.

True to the bed-time story, Ben
Pursued his wounded bear,
Ann dreamed of chattering monkey men,
Of snakes twined in her hair...

Now high aloft above the town
The thick clouds gather and break,
A flash, a roar, and rain drives down:
Aghast the young things wake.

Trembling for what their terror was,
Surprised by instant doom,
With lightning in the looking glass,
Thunder that rocks the room.

The monkeys' paws patter again,
Snakes hiss and flash their eyes:
The bear roars out in hideous pain:
Ann prays: her brother cries.

They cannot guess, could not be told
How soon comes careless day,
With birds and dandelion gold,
Wet grass, cool scents of May. 


Thunder At Night, Robert Graves 

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Furry Bear


If I were a bear,
And a big bear too,
I shouldn't much care
If it froze or snew;
I shouldn't much mind
If it snowed or friz--
I'd be all fur-lined
With a coat like his!


For I'd have fur boots and a brown fur wrap,
And brown fur knickers and a big fur cap.
I'd have a fur muffle-ruff to cover my jaws.
And brown fur mittens on my big brown paws.
With a big brown furry-down up to my head,
I'd sleep all the winter in a big fur bed.


A.A. Milne

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  • 2 weeks later...

My mother groand! my father wept.

Into the dangerous world I leapt:

Helpless, naked, piping loud;

Like a fiend hid in a cloud.


Struggling in my fathers hands:

Striving against my swaddling bands:

Bound and weary I thought best

To sulk upon my mothers breast.


Infant Sorrow - William Blake



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I wandered lonely as a cloud

That floats on high o'er vales and hills,

When all at once I saw a crowd,

A host, of golden daffodils;

Beside the lake, beneath the trees,

Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.


Continuous as the stars that shine

And twinkle on the milky way,

They stretched in never-ending line

Along the margin of a bay:

Ten thousand saw I at a glance,

Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.


The waves beside them danced; but they

Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:

A poet could not but be gay,

In such a jocund company:

I gazed—and gazed—but little thought

What wealth the show to me had brought:


For oft, when on my couch I lie

In vacant or in pensive mood,

They flash upon that inward eye

Which is the bliss of solitude;

And then my heart with pleasure fills,

And dances with the daffodils.


I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud - William Wordsworth

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To trace the Kilmansegg pedigree

To the very root of the family tree

Were a task as rash as ridiculous:

Through antediluvian mists as thick

As London fog such a line to pick

Were enough, in truth, to puzzle old Nick,

Not to name Sir Harris Nicolas.



It wouldn't require much verbal strain

To trace the Kill-man, perchance, to Cain;

But, waiving all such digressions,

Suffice it, according to family lore,

A Patriarch Kilmansegg lived of yore,

Who was famed for his great possessions.



Tradition said he feather'd his nest

Through an Agricultural Interest

In the Golden Age of Farming;

When golden eggs were laid by the geese,

And Colehian sheep wore a golden fleece,

And golden pippins - the sterling kind

Of Hesperus - now so hard to find -

Made Horticulture quite charming!


 Opening stanzas of Miss Killmansegg and Her Precious Leg - Thomas Hood

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  • 1 month later...

Bolt and bar the shutter, 
For the foul winds blow: 
Our minds are at their best this night, 
And I seem to know 
That everything outside us is 
Mad as the mist and snow. 

Horace there by Homer stands, 
Plato stands below, 
And here is Tully's open page.

How many years ago 
Were you and I unlettered lads 
Mad as the mist and snow? 

You ask what makes me sigh, old friend, 
What makes me shudder so? 
I shudder and I sigh to think 
That even Cicero 
And many-minded Homer were 
Mad as the mist and snow.


Mad as the Mist and Snow, William Butler Yeats

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I found the letter in a cardboard box,

Unfamous history. I read the words.

The ink was frail and brown, the paper dry

After so many years of being kept.

The letter was a soldier's, from the front—

Conveyed his love and disappointed hope

Of getting leave. It's cancelled now, he wrote.

My luck is at the bottom of the sea.


Outside the sun was hot; the world looked bright;

I heard a radio, and someone laughed.

I did not sing, or laugh, or love the sun,

Within the quiet room I thought of him,

My father killed, and all the other men,

Whose luck was at the bottom of the sea.


The Son - Clifford Dyment

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Sundays too my father got up early
And put his clothes on in the blueblack cold,
then with cracked hands that ached
from labor in the weekday weather made
banked fires blaze. No one ever thanked him.


I'd wake and hear the cold splintering, breaking.
When the rooms were warm, he'd call,
and slowly I would rise and dress,
fearing the chronic angers of that house,


Speaking indifferently to him,
who had driven out the cold
and polished my good shoes as well.
What did I know, what did I know
of love's austere and lonely offices?


Those Winter Sundays by Robert Hayden

Edited by poppy
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There is a pleasure in the pathless woods, 
There is a rapture on the lonely shore, 
There is society, where none intrudes, 
By the deep sea, and music in its roar: 
I love not man the less, but Nature more, 
From these our interviews, in which I steal 
From all I may be, or have been before, 
To mingle with the Universe, and feel 
What I can ne'er express, yet cannot all conceal.
From Childe Harold, Canto iv, verse 178 - George Gordon Byron
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Whose woods these are I think I know.   
His house is in the village though;   
He will not see me stopping here   
To watch his woods fill up with snow.   


My little horse must think it queer   
To stop without a farmhouse near   
Between the woods and frozen lake   
The darkest evening of the year.   


He gives his harness bells a shake   
To ask if there is some mistake.   
The only other sound’s the sweep   
Of easy wind and downy flake.   


The woods are lovely, dark and deep,   
But I have promises to keep,   
And miles to go before I sleep,   
And miles to go before I sleep.


Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening by Robert Frost

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  • 3 weeks later...

A bow-shot from her bower-eaves, 

He rode between the barley-sheaves, 

The sun came dazzling thro' the leaves, 

And flamed upon the brazen greaves 

       Of bold Sir Lancelot. 

A red-cross knight for ever kneel'd 

To a lady in his shield, 

That sparkled on the yellow field, 

       Beside remote Shalott. 


The gemmy bridle glitter'd free, 

Like to some branch of stars we see 

Hung in the golden Galaxy. 

The bridle bells rang merrily 

       As he rode down to Camelot: 

And from his blazon'd baldric slung 

A mighty silver bugle hung, 

And as he rode his armour rung, 

       Beside remote Shalott. 


All in the blue unclouded weather 

Thick-jewell'd shone the saddle-leather, 

The helmet and the helmet-feather 

Burn'd like one burning flame together, 

       As he rode down to Camelot. 

As often thro' the purple night, 

Below the starry clusters bright, 

Some bearded meteor, trailing light, 

       Moves over still Shalott. 


His broad clear brow in sunlight glow'd; 

On burnish'd hooves his war-horse trode; 

From underneath his helmet flow'd 

His coal-black curls as on he rode, 

       As he rode down to Camelot. 

From the bank and from the river 

He flash'd into the crystal mirror, 

"Tirra lirra," by the river 

       Sang Sir Lancelot. 


She left the web, she left the loom, 

She made three paces thro' the room, 

She saw the water-lily bloom, 

She saw the helmet and the plume, 

       She look'd down to Camelot. 

Out flew the web and floated wide; 

The mirror crack'd from side to side; 

"The curse is come upon me," cried 

       The Lady of Shalott. 


The Lady of Shalott, part III - Alfred Lord Tennyson

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i thank You God for most this amazing
day:for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky; and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes


(i who have died am alive again today,
and this is the sun’s birthday; this is the birth
day of life and of love and wings: and of the gay
great happening illimitably earth)


how should tasting touching hearing seeing
breathing any–lifted from the no
of all nothing–human merely being
doubt unimaginable You?

(now the ears of my ears awake and
now the eyes of my eyes are opened)


i thank You God for most this amazing

by e.e. cummings

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I'VE watched you now a full half-hour,

Self-poised upon that yellow flower;

And, little Butterfly! indeed

I know not if you sleep or feed.

How motionless!---not frozen seas

More motionless! and then

What joy awaits you, when the breeze

Hath found you out among the trees,

And calls you forth again !


This plot of orchard-ground is ours;

My trees they are, my Sister's flowers;

Here rest your wings when they are weary;

Here lodge as in a sanctuary!

Come often to us, fear no wrong;

Sit near us on the bough!

We'll talk of sunshine and of song,

And summer days, when we were young;

Sweet childish days, that were as long

As twenty days are now. 


To a Butterfly - William Wordsworth

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  • 2 weeks later...

Busy old fool, unruly Sun,
Why dost thou thus,
Through windows, and through curtains, call on us?
Must to thy motions lovers' seasons run?

Saucy pedantic wretch, go chide
 Late school-boys and sour prentices,
 Go tell court-huntsmen that the king will ride,
Call country ants to harvest offices;
Love, all alike, no season knows nor clime,
Nor hours, days, months, which are the rags of time.


(Taken from The Sun Rising by John Donne)

A poem I first encountered, written on the side of Derek Jarman's Prospect Cottage in Dungeness, Kent UK

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  • 1 month later...

If you can't bring yourself to build
a snowman or even to clench
a snowball or two to fling
at the pine tree trunk, at least
find some reason to take you out

of yourself: scrape a patch of grass clear
for the birds maybe; prod at your shrubs
so they shake off the weight, straighten up;
or just stump about leaving prints
of your boots, your breath steaming out.

Promise. Don't let yourself in
for this moment again: the end
of the afternoon, drawing the curtains
on the glare of the garden, a whole
day of snow nobody's trodden.


Nobody by Michael Laskey 

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**The Harvest Moon


It is the Harvest Moon! On gilded vanes

And roofs of villages, on woodland crests

And their aerial neighborhoods of nests

Deserted, on the curtained window-panes

Of rooms where children sleep, on country lanes

And harvest-fields, its mystic splendor rests!

Gone are the birds that were our summer guests,

With the last sheaves return the laboring wains!

All things are symbols: the external shows

Of Nature have their image in the mind,

As flowers and fruits and falling of the leaves;

The song-birds leave us at the summer's close,

Only the empty nests are left behind,

And pipings of the quail among the sheaves.


The Harvest Moon - Henry Wadsworth Longfellow


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The wind was a torrent of darkness among the gusty trees.  The moon was a ghostly galleon tossed upon cloudy seas.  The road was a ribbon of moonlight over the purple moor,   
And the highwayman came riding—
The highwayman came riding, up to the old inn-door.


The Highwayman by Alfred Noyes

Edited by poppy
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(It was reading The Highwayman when I was very young that taught me how alive poetry could be. I found it in 'The Golden Treasury of Poetry'  - selected by Louis Untermeyer, and filled throughout with the wonderful illustrations of Joan Walsh Anglund. A true book treasure. :))


I am fevered with the sunset,

I am fretful with the bay,

For the wander-thirst is on me

And my soul is in Cathay


There's a schooner in the offing,

With her topsails shot with fire,

And my heart has gone aboard her

For the Islands of Desire.


I must forth again to-morrow!

With the sunset I must be

Hull down on the trail of rapture

In the wonder of the sea. 


The Sea Gypsy by Richard Hovey



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