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Monday, May 23, 2011

Sunday Poetry [30] -- TEXTBOOK POETRY 3.2

I have to remind myself, especially as I’m going through a textbook with which I am surprisingly (so, at least, to me) sympathetic, that the point of this little endeavor (the textbook poetry entries) is to show poems with which I am not familiar, poems that indicate the type of the textbook containing them, and, of course, the first and last poems of the lot.  This is difficult here with this text, because I know and enjoy so much of the poetry; I want to include so much more than I should, and not because it’s new, but because I know it and love it.  Maybe that in and of itself is some indication of the type of the textbook I’m holding right now, or maybe it just bears witness against my overall well-roundedness.  There is, after all, so much out there to read that I haven’t even touched.

An Approach to Literature
Brooks, Purser, Warren

The Eagle (included in section introduction as example)
Alfred, Lord Tennyson
He clasps the crag with crooked hands;
Close to the sun in lonely lands,
Ringed with the azure world, he stands.

The wrinkled sea beneath him crawls;
He watches from his mountain wall,
And like a thunderbolt he falls.

Silver (first of section collection)
Walter De La Mare
Slowly, silently, now the moon
Walks the night in her silver shoon;
Silver fruit upon silver trees;
One by one the casements catch
Her beams beneath the silvery thatch;
Couched in his kennel, like a log,
With paws of silver sleeps the dog;
From their shadowy cote the white breasts peep
Of doves in a silver-feathered sleep’
A harvest mouse goes scampering by,
With silver claws and a silver eye;
And moveless fish in the water gleam,
By silver reeds in a silver stream.

To Daffadills
Robert Herrick
Faire Daffadills, we weep to see
      You haste away so soone:
As yet the early-rising Sun
      Has not attain’d his Noone.
            Stay, stay,
         Until the hasting day
            Has run
         But to the Even-song;
And, having pray’d together, wee
         Will goe with you along.

We have short time to stay, as you,
      We have as short a Spring;
As quick a growth to meet Decay,
      As you, or any thing.
            We die,
      As your hours doe, and drie
      Like to the Summers raine;
Or as the pearles of Mornings dew
         Ne’er to be found againe.

Nulla Fides
Patrick Carey
For God’s sake mark that fly:
See what a poor, weak, little thing it is.
When thou has marked and scorned it, know that this,
This little, poor, weak fly
Has killed a pope; can make an emp’ror die.

Behold you spark of fire;
How little hot!  how near to nothing ‘tis!
When thou hast done despising, know that this,
This contemned spark of fire,
Has burnt whole towns; can burn a world entire.

That crawling worm there see:
Ponder how ugly, filthy, vile it is.
When thou hast seen and loathed it, know that this,
This base worm thou dost see,
Has quite devoured thy parents; shall eat thee.

Honour, the world, and man,
What trifles are they; since most true it is
That this poor fly, this little spark, this
So much abhorred worm, can
Honour destroy; burn worlds; devour up man.

The Mower to the Glow-Worms
Andrew Marvell
Ye living lamps, by whose dear light
The Nightingale does sit so late,
And studying all the Summer-night,
Her matchless Songs does meditate;

Ye Country Comets, that portend
No War, nor Princes funeral,
Shining unto no higher end
Than to presage the Grasses fall;

Ye Glow-worms, whose officious Flame
To wandering Mowers shows the way,
That in the Night have lost their aim,
And after foolish Fires do stray;

Your courteous Lights in vain you waste,
Since Juliana here is come,
For She my Mind hath so displaced
That I shall never find my home.

Ode to the West Wind
Percy Bysshe Shelley
O WILD West Wind, thou breath of Autumn's being,
      Thou, from whose unseen presence the leaves dead
Are driven, like ghosts from an enchanter fleeing,

      Yellow, and black, and pale, and hectic red,
Pestilence-stricken multitudes: O thou,
      Who chariotest to their dark wintry bed

The wingèd seeds, where they lie cold and low,
      Each like a corpse within its grave, until
Thine azure sister of the spring shall blow

      Her clarion o'er the dreaming earth, and fill
(Driving sweet buds like flocks to feed in air)
      With living hues and odors plain and hill:

Wild Spirit, which art moving everywhere;
Destroyer and preserver; hear, oh, hear!

Thou on whose stream, 'mid the steep sky's commotion,
      Loose clouds like earth's decaying leaves are shed,
Shook from the tangled boughs of Heaven and Ocean,

      Angels of rain and lightning: there are spread
On the blue surface of thine airy surge,
      Like the bright hair uplifted from the head

Of some fierce Mænad, even from the dim verge
      Of the horizon to the zenith's height,
The locks of the approaching storm. Thou dirge

      Of the dying year, to which this closing night
Will be the dome of a vast sepulchre,
      Vaulted with all thy congregated might

Of vapors, from whose solid atmosphere
Black rain, and fire, and hail, will burst: oh hear!

Thou who didst waken from his summer dreams
      The blue Mediterranean, where he lay,
Lulled by the coil of his crystalline streams,

      Beside a pumice isle in Baiæ's bay,
And saw in sleep old palaces and towers
      Quivering within the wave's intenser day,

All overgrown with azure moss and flowers
      So sweet, the sense faints picturing them! Thou
For whose path the Atlantic's level powers

      Cleave themselves into chasms, while far below
The sea-blooms and the oozy woods which wear
      The sapless foliage of the ocean, know

Thy voice, and suddenly grow gray with fear,
And tremble and despoil themselves: oh, hear!

If I were a dead leaf thou mightest bear;
      If I were a swift cloud to fly with thee;
A wave to pant beneath thy power, and share

      The impulse of thy strength, only less free
Than thou, O uncontrollable! if even
      I were as in my boyhood, and could be

The comrade of thy wanderings over heaven,
      As then, when to outstrip thy skyey speed
Scarce seemed a vision; I would ne'er have striven

      As thus with thee in prayer in my sore need.
Oh! lift me as a wave, a leaf, a cloud!
      I fall upon the thorns of life! I bleed!

A heavy weight of hours has chained and bowed
One too like thee: tameless, and swift, and proud.

Make me thy lyre, even as the forest is;
      What if my leaves are falling like its own!
The tumult of thy mighty harmonies

      Will take from both a deep, autumnal tone,
Sweet though in sadness. Be thou, Spirit fierce,
      My spirit! Be thou me, impetuous one!

Drive my dead thoughts over the universe
      Like withered leaves to quicken a new birth!
And, by the incantation of this verse,

      Scatter, as from an extinguished hearth
Ashes and sparks, my words among mankind!
      Be through my lips to unwakened earth

The trumpet of a prophecy! O Wind,
If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind?


Other poems in this section:
·         “The Man with the Hoe, Written After Seeing Millet’s World-Famous Painting,” by Edwin Markham
·         “The Woodpile,” by Robert Frost
·         “The Lotos Eaters,” by Alfred, Lord Tennyson
·         “Mariana,” by Alfred, Lord Tennyson
·         Sonnets 18, 73, and 97, by William Shakespeare
·         “Song,” by Edmund Waller
·         “The Bugle Song,” by Alfred, Lord Tennyson
·         “The Tree of Man,” by A.E. Housman
·         “A Passer-By,” by Robert Bridges
·         “The Wild Swans at Coole,” by William Butler Yeats
·         “Hymn to Diana,” by Ben Johnson
·         “The Night-Piece to Julia,” by Robert Herrick
·         “God’s Grandeur,” by Gerard Manley Hopkins
·         “The Lamb” and “The Tiger,” by William Blake (two of my all-time favorite poems—seriously)


  1. The Tennyson one is amazing to me because yesterday, the psalm that we read in church had the word "crag" in it, and my brother and I didn't know what it meant, so we looked it up in the OED when we got home. I remember that one of the quotes was by Tennyson. I bet that this is the poem. What a coincidence.

  2. I remember I read that (and most of the other poems in the section) in one of my three British lit classes in college. Like most stuff I read back then, I didn't really appreciate it, though I believe (and how sad that these two things didn't go together then) I understood it. There's a near-Biblical grandeur and gravitas to Tennyson's stuff, and here, perhaps for reason of the falling eagle, all the more so.

    Of the poems here copied out, though, as I was reading through them, I thought my favorite would certainly be "Nulla Fides" for its newness (to me) and its blatancy; but my favorite ended up coming very soon after in "The Mower to the Glow-Worms" for its emotional division of caste and, well, its simple beauty. As much as I'm awed by Shelley's skill in form and technique, I don't think I'll ever be able to enjoy him.


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