A Prayer For My Son –William Butler Yeats

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BID a strong ghost stand at the head
That my Michael may sleep sound,
Nor cry, nor turn in the bed
Till his morning meal come round;
And may departing twilight keep
All dread afar till morning’s back.
That his mother may not lack
Her fill of sleep.
Bid the ghost have sword in fist:
Some there are, for I avow
Such devilish things exist,
Who have planned his murder, for they know
Of some most haughty deed or thought
That waits upon his future days,
And would through hatred of the bays
Bring that to nought.
Though You can fashion everything
From nothing every day, and teach
The morning stats to sing,
You have lacked articulate speech
To tell Your simplest want, and known,
Wailing upon a woman’s knee,
All of that worst ignominy
Of flesh and bone;
And when through all the town there ran
The servants of Your enemy,
A woman and a man,
Unless the Holy Writings lie,
Hurried through the smooth and rough
And through the fertile and waste,
protecting, till the danger past,
With human love.

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Sonnet 25: Let Those Who Are In Favour With Their Stars — William Shakespeare

pexels-photo-573238.jpegLet those who are in favour with their stars
Of public honour and proud titles boast,
Whilst I, whom fortune of such triumph bars,
Unlooked for joy in that I honour most.
Great princes’ favourites their fair leaves spread,
But as the marigold at the sun’s eye,
And in themselves their pride lies burièd,
For at a frown they in their glory die.
The painful warrior famousèd for fight,
After a thousand victories once foiled,
Is from the book of honour razèd quite,
And all the rest forgot for which he toiled.
Then happy I that love and am beloved
Where I may not remove nor be removed.

 

A Promise — Ada Cambridge

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Should’st thou, in grip of dread disease,
Foresee the day when thou must die,
With no more hope of life or ease,
But only, lingering, to lie
While torturing hours go slowly by;
Thy brain awake, thy nerves alive
To thine extremest agony,
And all in vain to rave or strive: —
O my beloved, if this should be,
Call me — and I will set thee free.

2.

Murder! And thou to judgment hurled —
Cut off from some few days of grace —
Thus will it be to that hard world
Which fits one law to every case,
And dooms all rebels to disgrace.
But to us twain, who stand above
Conventioned rules, unbound, unclassed,
A solemn sacrament of love,
More true than kisses in the past —
Love’s costliest tribute, and the last.

3.

Thy grateful hand, unclenched, shall seek
The hand that gave thee thy release;
Thy darkening eyes shall dumbly speak
Of scorching pangs that sink and cease —
Of anguish drowned in rest and peace.
And I that terrible farewell,
Despairing but content, shall take,
Knowing that I have served thee well —
I, that would dare the rack and stake,
The flames of hell, for thy dear sake.

4.

The law may hang me for my crime,
Just or unjust, I’ll not complain.
‘Twere better than to live my time
Bereaved and broken, and to wane,
Slow inch by inch, in useless pain;
Alone, unhelped, uncomforted,
In mine own last extremity;
No faithful lover by my bed
To do what thou would’st do for me.
And I shall want to die with thee.

 

Who Will Believe My Verse In Time To Come — William Shakespeare

Who will believe my verse in time to come
If it were filled with your most high deserts?
Though yet heaven knows it is but as a tomb
Which hides your life, and shows not half your parts:
If I could write the beauty of your eyes,
And in fresh numbers number all your graces,
The age to come would say, “This poet lies,
Such heavenly touches ne’er touched earthly faces.”
So should my papers, yellowed with their age,
Be scorned like old men of less truth than tongue,
And your true rights be termed a poet’s rage,
And stretchèd metre of an antique song.
But were some child of yours alive that time,
You should live twice, in it and in my rhyme.

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Is There A Power That Can Sustain And Cheer — William Wordsworth

Is there a power that can sustain and cheer
The captive chieftain, by a tyrant’s doom,
Forced to descend into his destined tomb–
A dungeon dark! where he must waste the year,
And lie cut off from all his heart holds dear;
What time his injured country is a stage
Whereon deliberate Valour and the rage
Of righteous Vengeance side by side appear,
Filling from morn to night the heroic scene
With deeds of hope and everlasting praise:–
Say can he think of this with mind serene
And silent fetters? Yes, if visions bright
Shine on his soul, reflected from the days
When he himself was tried in open light.

 

A Memory Of Youth — William Butler Yeats

pexels-photo-952539.jpegTHE moments passed as at a play;
I had the wisdom love brings forth;
I had my share of mother-wit,
And yet for all that I could say,
And though I had her praise for it,
A cloud blown from the cut-throat North
Suddenly hid Love’s moon away.
Believing every word I said,
I praised her body and her mind
Till pride had made her eyes grow bright,
And pleasure made her cheeks grow red,
And vanity her footfall light,
Yet we, for all that praise, could find
Nothing but darkness overhead.
We sat as silent as a stone,
We knew, though she’d not said a word,
That even the best of love must die,
And had been savagely undone
Were it not that Love upon the cry
Of a most ridiculous little bird
Tore from the clouds his marvellous moon.
ALTHOUGH crowds gathered once if she but showed her face,
And even old men’s eyes grew dim, this hand alone,
Like some last courtier at a gypsy camping-place
Babbling of fallen majesty, records what’s gone.
These lineaments, a heart that laughter has made sweet,
These, these remain, but I record what-s gone. A crowd
Will gather, and not know it walks the very street
Whereon a thing once walked that seemed a burning cloud

 

A Prayer For My Daughter — William Butler Yeats

ONCE more the storm is howling, and half hid
Under this cradle-hood and coverlid
My child sleeps on. There is no obstacle
But Gregory’s wood and one bare hill
Whereby the haystack- and roof-levelling wind.
Bred on the Atlantic, can be stayed;
And for an hour I have walked and prayed
Because of the great gloom that is in my mind.
I have walked and prayed for this young child an hour
And heard the sea-wind scream upon the tower,
And-under the arches of the bridge, and scream
In the elms above the flooded stream;
Imagining in excited reverie
That the future years had come,
Dancing to a frenzied drum,
Out of the murderous innocence of the sea.
May she be granted beauty and yet not
Beauty to make a stranger’s eye distraught,
Or hers before a looking-glass, for such,
Being made beautiful overmuch,
Consider beauty a sufficient end,
Lose natural kindness and maybe
The heart-revealing intimacy
That chooses right, and never find a friend.
Helen being chosen found life flat and dull
And later had much trouble from a fool,
While that great Queen, that rose out of the spray,
Being fatherless could have her way
Yet chose a bandy-legged smith for man.
It’s certain that fine women eat
A crazy salad with their meat
Whereby the Horn of plenty is undone.
In courtesy I’d have her chiefly learned;
Hearts are not had as a gift but hearts are earned
By those that are not entirely beautiful;
Yet many, that have played the fool
For beauty’s very self, has charm made wisc.
And many a poor man that has roved,
Loved and thought himself beloved,
From a glad kindness cannot take his eyes.
May she become a flourishing hidden tree
That all her thoughts may like the linnet be,
And have no business but dispensing round
Their magnanimities of sound,
Nor but in merriment begin a chase,
Nor but in merriment a quarrel.
O may she live like some green laurel
Rooted in one dear perpetual place.
My mind, because the minds that I have loved,
The sort of beauty that I have approved,
Prosper but little, has dried up of late,
Yet knows that to be choked with hate
May well be of all evil chances chief.
If there’s no hatred in a mind
Assault and battery of the wind
Can never tear the linnet from the leaf.
An intellectual hatred is the worst,
So let her think opinions are accursed.
Have I not seen the loveliest woman born
Out of the mouth of plenty’s horn,
Because of her opinionated mind
Barter that horn and every good
By quiet natures understood
For an old bellows full of angry wind?
Considering that, all hatred driven hence,
The soul recovers radical innocence
And learns at last that it is self-delighting,
Self-appeasing, self-affrighting,
And that its own sweet will is Heaven’s will;
She can, though every face should scowl
And every windy quarter howl
Or every bellows burst, be happy Still.
And may her bridegroom bring her to a house
Where all’s accustomed, ceremonious;
For arrogance and hatred are the wares
Peddled in the thoroughfares.
How but in custom and in ceremony
Are innocence and beauty born?
Ceremony’s a name for the rich horn,
And custom for the spreading laurel tree.

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No Longer Mourn For Me When I Am Dead — William Shakespeare

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No longer mourn for me when I am dead
Than you shall hear the surly sullen bell
Give warning to the world that I am fled
From this vile world with vilest worms to dwell.
Nay if you read this line, remember not
The hand that writ it, for I love you so
That I in your sweet thoughts would be forgot
If thinking on me then should make you woe.
O, if, I say, you look upon this verse,
When I perhaps compounded am with clay,
Do not so much as my poor name rehearse,
But let your love even with my life decay,
Lest the wise world should look into your moan
And mock you with me after I am gone.

 

Fare Well — Walter de la Mare

 

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When I lie where shades of darkness
Shall no more assail mine eyes,
Nor the rain make lamentation

When the wind sighs;
How will fare the world whose wonder
Was the very proof of me?
Memory fades, must the remembered
Perishing be?

Oh, when this my dust surrenders
Hand, foot, lip, to dust again,
May these loved and loving faces
Please other men!
May the rusting harvest hedgerow
Still the traveller’s Joy entwine,
And as happy children gather
Posies once mine.

Look thy last on all things lovely,
Every hour. Let no night

Seal thy sense in deathly slumber
Till to delight
Thou have paid thy utmost blessing;
Since that all things thou wouldst praise
Beauty took from those who loved them
In other days.

 

 

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