The Parable Of The Old Man And The Young

So Abram rose, and clave the wood, and went,
And took the fire with him, and a knife.
And as they sojourned both of them together,
Isaac the first-born spake and said, My Father,
Behold the preparations, fire and iron,
But where the lamb for this burnt-offering?
Then Abram bound the youth with belts and strops,
And builded parapets and trenches there,
And stretched forth the knife to slay his son.
When lo! an angel called him out of heaven,
Saying, Lay not thy hand upon the lad,
Neither do anything to him. Behold,
A ram, caught in a thicket by its horns;
Offer the Ram of Pride instead of him.

But the old man would not so, but slew his son,
And half the seed of Europe, one by one.

 

–  Wilfred Owen

[Comment – The old man(referring to Europe) and Abram are not the same person]

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Song At Sunset

SPLENDOR of ended day, floating and filling me!
Hour prophetic–hour resuming the past!
Inflating my throat–you, divine average!
You, Earth and Life, till the last ray gleams, I sing.

Open mouth of my Soul, uttering gladness,
Eyes of my Soul, seeing perfection,
Natural life of me, faithfully praising things;
Corroborating forever the triumph of things.

Illustrious every one!
Illustrious what we name space–sphere of unnumber’d spirits;
Illustrious the mystery of motion, in all beings, even the tiniest
insect;
Illustrious the attribute of speech–the senses–the body;
Illustrious the passing light! Illustrious the pale reflection on the
new moon in the western sky!
Illustrious whatever I see, or hear, or touch, to the last.

Good in all,
In the satisfaction and aplomb of animals,
In the annual return of the seasons,
In the hilarity of youth,
In the strength and flush of manhood,
In the grandeur and exquisiteness of old age,
In the superb vistas of Death.

Wonderful to depart;
Wonderful to be here!
The heart, to jet the all-alike and innocent blood!
To breathe the air, how delicious!
To speak! to walk! to seize something by the hand!
To prepare for sleep, for bed–to look on my rose-color’d flesh;
To be conscious of my body, so satisfied, so large;
To be this incredible God I am;
To have gone forth among other Gods–these men and women I love.

Wonderful how I celebrate you and myself!
How my thoughts play subtly at the spectacles around!
How the clouds pass silently overhead!
How the earth darts on and on! and how the sun, moon, stars, dart on
and on!
How the water sports and sings! (Surely it is alive!)
How the trees rise and stand up–with strong trunks–with branches
and leaves!
(Surely there is something more in each of the tree–some living
Soul.)

O amazement of things! even the least particle!
O spirituality of things!
O strain musical, flowing through ages and continents–now reaching
me and America!
I take your strong chords–I intersperse them, and cheerfully pass
them forward.

I too carol the sun, usher’d, or at noon, or, as now, setting,
I too throb to the brain and beauty of the earth, and of all the
growths of the earth,
I too have felt the resistless call of myself.

As I sail’d down the Mississippi,
As I wander’d over the prairies,
As I have lived–As I have look’d through my windows, my eyes,
As I went forth in the morning–As I beheld the light breaking in the
east;
As I bathed on the beach of the Eastern Sea, and again on the beach
of the Western Sea;
As I roam’d the streets of inland Chicago–whatever streets I have
roam’d;
Or cities, or silent woods, or peace, or even amid the sights of war;
Wherever I have been, I have charged myself with contentment and
triumph.

I sing the Equalities, modern or old,
I sing the endless finales of things;
I say Nature continues–Glory continues;
I praise with electric voice;
For I do not see one imperfection in the universe;
And I do not see one cause or result lamentable at last in the
universe.

O setting sun! though the time has come,
I still warble under you, if none else does, unmitigated
adoration.

 

–  Walt Whitman

 

Ode On The Death Of A Favourite Cat Drowned In A Tub Of Goldfishes

‘Twas on a lofty vase’s side,
Where China’s gayest art had dy’d
The azure flow’rs that blow;
Demurest of the tabby kind,
The pensive Selima, reclin’d,
Gazed on the lake below.

Her conscious tail her joy declar’d;
The fair round face, the snowy beard,
The velvet of her paws,
Her coat, that with the tortoise vies,
Her ears of jet, and emerald eyes,
She saw: and purr’d applause.

Still had she gaz’d; but ‘midst the tide
Two angel forms were seen to glide,
The Genii of the stream;
Their scaly armour’s Tyrian hue
Thro’ richest purple to the view
Betray’d a golden gleam.

The hapless Nymph with wonder saw:
A whisker first and then a claw,
With many an ardent wish,
She stretch’d in vain to reach the prize.
What female heart can gold despise?
What cat’s averse to fish?

Presumptuous Maid! with looks intent
Again she stretch’d, again she bent,
Nor knew the gulf between.
(Malignant Fate sat by, and smil’d)
The slipp’ry verge her feet beguil’d,
She tumbled headlong in.

Eight times emerging from the flood
She mew’d to ev’ry wat’ry god,
Some speedy aid to send.
No Dolphin came, no Nereid stirr’d;
Nor cruel Tom, nor Susan heard.
A Fav’rite has no friend!

From hence, ye Beauties, undeceiv’d,
Know, one false step is ne’er retriev’d,
And be with caution bold.
Not all that tempts your wand’ring eyes
And heedless hearts is lawful prize,
Nor all, that glisters, gold.

 

–  Thomas Gray

 

On My Songs

Though unseen Poets, many and many a time,
Have answered me as if they knew my woe,
And it might seem have fashioned so their rime
To be my own soul’s cry; easing the flow
Of my dumb tears with language sweet as sobs,
Yet are there days when all these hoards of thought
Hold nothing for me. Not one verse that throbs
Throbs with my heart, or as my brain is fraught.
‘Tis then I voice mine own weird reveries:
Low croonings of a motherless child, in gloom
Singing his frightened self to sleep, are these.
One night, if thou shouldst lie in this Sick Room,
Dreading the Dark thou darest not illume,
Listen; my voice may haply lend thee ease.

 

–  Wilfred Owen

 

To You

Whoever you are, I fear you are walking the walks of
dreams,
I fear these supposed realities are to melt from under your
feet and hands,
Even now your features, joys, speech, house, trade, manners,
troubles, follies, costume, crimes, dissipate away from you,
Your true soul and body appear before me,
They stand forth out of affairs, out of commerce, shops,
work, farms, clothes, the house, buying, selling, eating,
drinking, suffering, dying.

Whoever you are, now I place my hand upon you, that you
be my poem,
I whisper with my lips close to your ear,
I have loved many women and men, but I love none better
than you.

O I have been dilatory and dumb,
I should have made my way straight to you long ago,
I should have blabb’d nothing but you, I should have chanted
nothing but you.

I will leave all and come and make the hymns of you,
None has understood you, but I understand you,
None has done justice to you, you have not done justice to
yourself,
None but has found you imperfect, I only find no
imperfection in you,
None but would subordinate you, I only am he who will
never consent to subordinate you,
I only am he who places over you no master, owner, better,
God, beyond what waits intrinsically in yourself.

Painters have painted their swarming groups and the centre-
figure of all,
From the head of the centre-figure spreading a nimbus of
gold-color’d light,
But I paint myriads of heads, but paint no head without its
nimbus of gold-color’d light,
From my hand from the brain of every man and woman it
streams, effulgently flowing forever.

O I could sing such grandeurs and glories about you!
You have not known what you are, you have slumber’d upon
yourself all your life,
Your eyelids have been the same as closed most of the time,
What you have done returns already in mockeries,
(Your thrift, knowledge, prayers, if they do not return in
mockeries, what is their return?)

The mockeries are not you,
Underneath them and within them I see you lurk,
I pursue you where none else has pursued you,
Silence, the desk, the flippant expression, the night, the
accustom’d routine, if these conceal you from others or
from yourself, they do not conceal you from me,
The shaved face, the unsteady eye, the impure complexion, if
these balk others they do not balk me,
The pert apparel, the deform’d attitude, drunkenness, greed,
premature death, all these I part aside.

There is no endowment in man or woman that is not tallied
in you,
There is no virtue, no beauty in man or woman, but as good
is in you,
No pluck, no endurance in others, but as good is in you,
No pleasure waiting for others, but an equal pleasure waits
for you.

As for me, I give nothing to any one except I give the like
carefully to you,
I sing the songs of the glory of none, not God, sooner than
I sing the songs of the glory of you.

Whoever you are! claim your own at an hazard!
These shows of the East and West are tame compared to you,
These immense meadows, these interminable rivers, you are
immense and interminable as they,
These furies, elements, storms, motions of Nature, throes of
apparent dissolution, you are he or she who is master or
mistress over them,
Master or mistress in your own right over Nature, elements,
pain, passion, dissolution.

The hopples fall from your ankles, you find an unfailing
sufficiency,
Old or young, male or female, rude, low, rejected by the rest,
whatever you are promulges itself,
Through birth, life, death, burial, the means are provided,
nothing is scanted,
Through angers, losses, ambition, ignorance, ennui, what
you are picks its way.

 

–  Walt Whitman

 

O Captain! My Captain!

O CAPTAIN! my Captain! our fearful trip is done;
The ship has weather’d every rack, the prize we sought is won;
The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting,
While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring:
But O heart! heart! heart!
O the bleeding drops of red,
Where on the deck my Captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead.

O Captain! my Captain! rise up and hear the bells;
Rise up–for you the flag is flung–for you the bugle trills;
For you bouquets and ribbon’d wreaths–for you the shores a-crowding;
For you they call, the swaying mass, their eager faces turning;
Here Captain! dear father!
This arm beneath your head;
It is some dream that on the deck,
You’ve fallen cold and dead.

My Captain does not answer, his lips are pale and still;
My father does not feel my arm, he has no pulse nor will;
The ship is anchor’d safe and sound, its voyage closed and done;
From fearful trip, the victor ship, comes in with object won;
Exult, O shores, and ring, O bells!
But I, with mournful tread,
Walk the deck my Captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead.

 

–  Walt Whitman

 

A Song

COME, I will make the continent indissoluble;
I will make the most splendid race the sun ever yet shone upon;
I will make divine magnetic lands,
With the love of comrades,
With the life-long love of comrades.

I will plant companionship thick as trees along all the rivers of
America, and along the shores of the great lakes, and all over
the prairies;
I will make inseparable cities, with their arms about each other’s
necks;
By the love of comrades,
By the manly love of comrades.

For you these, from me, O Democracy, to serve you, ma femme!
For you! for you, I am trilling these songs,
In the love of comrades,
In the high-towering love of comrades.

 

–  Walt Whitman

 

Happiness

Ever again to breathe pure happiness,
So happy that we gave away our toy?
We smiled at nothings, needing no caress?
Have we not laughed too often since with Joy?
Have we not stolen too strange and sorrowful wrongs
For her hands’ pardoning? The sun may cleanse,
And time, and starlight. Life will sing great songs,
And gods will show us pleasures more than men’s.

Yet heaven looks smaller than the old doll’s-home,
No nestling place is left in bluebell bloom,
And the wide arms of trees have lost their scope.
The former happiness is unreturning:
Boys’ griefs are not so grievous as our yearning,
Boys have no sadness sadder than our hope.

 

–  Wilfred Owen

 

 

Mistletoe

Sitting under the mistletoe
(Pale-green, fairy mistletoe),
One last candle burning low,
All the sleepy dancers gone,
Just one candle burning on,
Shadows lurking everywhere:
Some one came, and kissed me there.

Tired I was; my head would go
Nodding under the mistletoe
(Pale-green, fairy mistletoe),
No footsteps came, no voice, but only,
Just as I sat there, sleepy, lonely,
Stooped in the still and shadowy air
Lips unseen – and kissed me there.

 

–  Walter de la Mare

 

Poems Of Joys

O TO make the most jubilant poem!
Even to set off these, and merge with these, the carols of Death.
O full of music! full of manhood, womanhood, infancy!
Full of common employments! full of grain and trees.

O for the voices of animals! O for the swiftness and balance of
fishes!
O for the dropping of rain-drops in a poem!
O for the sunshine, and motion of waves in a poem.

O the joy of my spirit! it is uncaged! it darts like lightning!
It is not enough to have this globe, or a certain time–I will have
thousands of globes, and all time.

O the engineer’s joys!
To go with a locomotive!
To hear the hiss of steam–the merry shriek–the steam-whistle–the
laughing locomotive!
To push with resistless way, and speed off in the distance.

O the gleesome saunter over fields and hill-sides!
The leaves and flowers of the commonest weeds–the moist fresh
stillness of the woods,
The exquisite smell of the earth at day-break, and all through the
forenoon.

O the horseman’s and horsewoman’s joys!
The saddle–the gallop–the pressure upon the seat–the cool gurgling
by the ears and hair.

O the locomotive joys!
I hear the alarm at dead of night,
I hear bells–shouts!–I pass the crowd–I run!
The sight of the flames maddens me with pleasure.

O the joy of the strong-brawn’d fighter, towering in the arena, in
perfect condition, conscious of power, thirsting to meet his
opponent.

O the joy of that vast elemental sympathy which only the human Soul
is capable of generating and emitting in steady and limitless
floods.

O the mother’s joys!
The watching–the endurance–the precious love–the anguish–the
patiently yielded life.

O the joy of increase, growth, recuperation;
The joy of soothing and pacifying–the joy of concord and harmony.

O to go back to the place where I was born!
To hear the birds sing once more!
To ramble about the house and barn, and over the fields, once more,
And through the orchard and along the old lanes once more.

O male and female!
O the presence of women! (I swear there is nothing more exquisite to
me than the mere presence of women;)
O for the girl, my mate! O for the happiness with my mate!
O the young man as I pass! O I am sick after the friendship of him
who, I fear, is indifferent to me.

O the streets of cities!
The flitting faces–the expressions, eyes, feet, costumes! O I cannot
tell how welcome they are to me.

O to have been brought up on bays, lagoons, creeks, or along the
coast!
O to continue and be employ’d there all my life!
O the briny and damp smell–the shore–the salt weeds exposed at low
water,
The work of fishermen–the work of the eel-fisher and clam-fisher.

O it is I!
I come with my clam-rake and spade! I come with my eel-spear;
Is the tide out? I join the group of clam-diggers on the flats,
I laugh and work with them–I joke at my work, like a mettlesome
young man.

In winter I take my eel-basket and eel-spear and travel out on foot
on the ice–I have a small axe to cut holes in the ice;
Behold me, well-clothed, going gaily, or returning in the afternoon–
my brood of tough boys accompaning me,
My brood of grown and part-grown boys, who love to be with no one
else so well as they love to be with me,
By day to work with me, and by night to sleep with me.

Or, another time, in warm weather, out in a boat, to lift the
lobster-pots, where they are sunk with heavy stones, (I know
the buoys;)
O the sweetness of the Fifth-month morning upon the water, as I row,
just before sunrise, toward the buoys;
I pull the wicker pots up slantingly–the dark-green lobsters are
desperate with their claws, as I take them out–I insert wooden
pegs in the joints of their pincers,
I go to all the places, one after another, and then row back to the
shore,
There, in a huge kettle of boiling water, the lobsters shall be
boil’d till their color becomes scarlet.

Or, another time, mackerel-taking,
Voracious, mad for the hook, near the surface, they seem to fill the
water for miles:
Or, another time, fishing for rock-fish, in Chesapeake Bay–I one of
the brown-faced crew:
Or, another time, trailing for blue-fish off Paumanok, I stand with
braced body,
My left foot is on the gunwale–my right arm throws the coils of
slender rope,
In sight around me the quick veering and darting of fifty skiffs, my
companions.

O boating on the rivers!
The voyage down the Niagara, (the St. Lawrence,)–the superb
scenery–the steamers,
The ships sailing–the Thousand Islands–the occasional timber-raft,
and the raftsmen with long-reaching sweep-oars,
The little huts on the rafts, and the stream of smoke when they cook
their supper at evening.

O something pernicious and dread!
Something far away from a puny and pious life!
Something unproved! Something in a trance!
Something escaped from the anchorage, and driving free.

O to work in mines, or forging iron!
Foundry casting–the foundry itself–the rude high roof–the ample
and shadow’d space,
The furnace–the hot liquid pour’d out and running.

O to resume the joys of the soldier:
To feel the presence of a brave general! to feel his sympathy!
To behold his calmness! to be warm’d in the rays of his smile!
To go to battle! to hear the bugles play, and the drums beat!
To hear the crash of artillery! to see the glittering of the bayonets
and musket-barrels in the sun!
To see men fall and die, and not complain!
To taste the savage taste of blood! to be so devilish!
To gloat so over the wounds and deaths of the enemy.

O the whaleman’s joys! O I cruise my old cruise again!
I feel the ship’s motion under me–I feel the Atlantic breezes
fanning me,
I hear the cry again sent down from the mast-head–There–she blows!
–Again I spring up the rigging, to look with the rest–We see–we
descend, wild with excitement,
I leap in the lower’d boat–We row toward our prey, where he lies,
We approach, stealthy and silent–I see the mountainous mass,
lethargic, basking,
I see the harpooneer standing up–I see the weapon dart from his
vigorous arm:
O swift, again, now, far out in the ocean, the wounded whale,
settling, running to windward, tows me;
–Again I see him rise to breathe–We row close again,
I see a lance driven through his side, press’d deep, turn’d in the
wound,
Again we back off–I see him settle again–the life is leaving him
fast,
As he rises, he spouts blood–I see him swim in circles narrower and
narrower, swiftly cutting the water–I see him die;
He gives one convulsive leap in the centre of the circle, and then
falls flat and still in the bloody foam.

O the old manhood of me, my joy!
My children and grand-children–my white hair and beard,
My largeness, calmness, majesty, out of the long stretch of my life.

O the ripen’d joy of womanhood!
O perfect happiness at last!
I am more than eighty years of age–my hair, too, is pure white–I am
the most venerable mother;
How clear is my mind! how all people draw nigh to me!
What attractions are these, beyond any before? what bloom, more than
the bloom of youth?
What beauty is this that descends upon me, and rises out of me?

O the orator’s joys!
To inflate the chest–to roll the thunder of the voice out from the
ribs and throat,
To make the people rage, weep, hate, desire, with yourself,
To lead America–to quell America with a great tongue.

O the joy of my soul leaning pois’d on itself–receiving identity
through materials, and loving them–observing characters, and
absorbing them;
O my soul, vibrated back to me, from them–from facts, sight,
hearing, touch, my phrenology, reason, articulation,
comparison, memory, and the like;
The real life of my senses and flesh, transcending my senses and
flesh;
My body, done with materials–my sight, done with my material
eyes;
Proved to me this day, beyond cavil, that it is not my material
eyes which finally see,
Nor my material body which finally loves, walks, laughs, shouts,
embraces, procreates.

O the farmer’s joys!
Ohioan’s, Illinoisian’s, Wisconsinese’, Kanadian’s, Iowan’s,
Kansian’s, Missourian’s, Oregonese’ joys;
To rise at peep of day, and pass forth nimbly to work,
To plow land in the fall for winter-sown crops,
To plough land in the spring for maize,
To train orchards–to graft the trees–to gather apples in the fall.

O the pleasure with trees!
The orchard–the forest–the oak, cedar, pine, pekan-tree,
The honey-locust, black-walnut, cottonwood, and magnolia.

O Death! the voyage of Death!
The beautiful touch of Death, soothing and benumbing a few moments,
for reasons;
Myself, discharging my excrementitious body, to be burn’d, or
render’d to powder, or buried,
My real body doubtless left to me for other spheres,
My voided body, nothing more to me, returning to the purifications,
further offices, eternal uses of the earth.

O to bathe in the swimming-bath, or in a good place along shore!
To splash the water! to walk ankle-deep–to race naked along the
shore.

O to realize space!
The plenteousness of all–that there are no bounds;
To emerge, and be of the sky–of the sun and moon, and the flying
clouds, as one with them.

O the joy of a manly self-hood!
Personality–to be servile to none–to defer to none–not to any
tyrant, known or unknown,
To walk with erect carriage, a step springy and elastic,
To look with calm gaze, or with a flashing eye,
To speak with a full and sonorous voice, out of a broad chest,
To confront with your personality all the other personalities of the
earth.

Know’st thou the excellent joys of youth?
Joys of the dear companions, and of the merry word, and laughing
face?
Joys of the glad, light-beaming day–joy of the wide-breath’d
games?
Joy of sweet music–joy of the lighted ball-room, and the dancers?
Joy of the friendly, plenteous dinner–the strong carouse, and
drinking?

Yet, O my soul supreme!
Know’st thou the joys of pensive thought?
Joys of the free and lonesome heart–the tender, gloomy heart?
Joy of the solitary walk–the spirit bowed yet proud–the suffering
and the struggle?
The agonistic throes, the extasies–joys of the solemn musings, day
or night?
Joys of the thought of Death–the great spheres Time and Space?
Prophetic joys of better, loftier love’s ideals–the Divine Wife–the
sweet, eternal, perfect Comrade?
Joys all thine own, undying one–joys worthy thee, O Soul.

O, while I live, to be the ruler of life–not a slave,
To meet life as a powerful conqueror,
No fumes–no ennui–no more complaints, or scornful criticisms.

O me repellent and ugly!
To these proud laws of the air, the water, and the ground, proving my
interior Soul impregnable,
And nothing exterior shall ever take command of me.

O to attract by more than attraction!
How it is I know not–yet behold! the something which obeys none of
the rest,
It is offensive, never defensive–yet how magnetic it draws.

O joy of suffering!
To struggle against great odds! to meet enemies undaunted!
To be entirely alone with them! to find how much one can stand!
To look strife, torture, prison, popular odium, death, face to face!
To mount the scaffold! to advance to the muzzles of guns with perfect
nonchalance!
To be indeed a God!

O, to sail to sea in a ship!
To leave this steady, unendurable land!
To leave the tiresome sameness of the streets, the sidewalks and the
houses;
To leave you, O you solid motionless land, and entering a ship,
To sail, and sail, and sail!

O to have my life henceforth a poem of new joys!
To dance, clap hands, exult, shout, skip, leap, roll on, float on,
To be a sailor of the world, bound for all ports,
A ship itself, (see indeed these sails I spread to the sun and air,)
A swift and swelling ship, full of rich words–full of joys.

 

–  Walt Whitman