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Sunday, June 5, 2011

Sunday Poetry XXXII -- TEXTBOOK POETRY 3.4

An Approach to Literature
Brooks, Purser, Warren

Neutral Tones
Thomas Hardy
We stood by a pond that winter day,
And the sun was white, as though chidden of God,
And a few leaves lay on the starving sod;
         – They had fallen from an ash, and were gray.

Your eyes on me were as eyes that rove
Over tedious riddles of years ago;
And some words played between us to and fro
         On which lost the more by our love.

The smile on your mouth was the deadest thing
Alive enough to have strength to die;
And a grin of bitterness swept thereby
         Like an ominous bird a-wing….

Since then, keen lessons that love deceives,
And wrings with wrong, have shaped to me
Your face, and the God curst sun, and a tree,
         And a pond edged with grayish leaves.

To a Mouse
Robert Burns
Wee, sleekit, cowrin ,tim’rous beastie,
Oh, what a panic’s in thy breastie!
Thou need na start awa saw hasty
     Wi’ bickerin’ brattle!
O was be laith to rn an’ chase thee
     Wi’ murdering prattle!

I’m truly sorry man’s dominion
Has broken Nature’s social union,
An’ justifies that ill opinion
     Which makes thee startle
At me, thy poor earth-born companion,
     An’ fellow-mortal!

I doubt na, whyles, but thou may thieve:
What then? Poor beastie, thou maun live!
A daimen icker in a thrave
      ‘S a sma’ request;
I’ll get a blessin’ wi’ the lave,
     An’ never miss ‘t!

Thy wee bit housie, too, in ruin!
It’s silly wa’s the win’s are strewin!
An’ naething, now, to big a new ane,
     O’ foggage green!
An’ bleak December’s winds ensuin,
     Baith snell an’ keen!

Thou saw the fields laid bare an’ waste,
An’ weary winter comin fast,
An’ cozie here, beneath the blast,
     Thou thought to dwell,
Till crash! the cruel coulter past
     Out thro’ thy cell.

That wee bit heap o’ leaves an’ stibble,
Has cost thee monie a weary nibble!
Now thou’s turn’d out, for a’ thy trouble,
     But house or hald,
To thole the winter’s sleety dribble,
     An’ cranreuch cauld!

But Mousie, thou art no thy lane,
In proving foresight may be vain;
The best-laid schemes o’ mice an’ men
     Gang aft agley,
An’ lea’e us nought but grief an’ pain,
     For promis’d joy!

Still thou art blest, compar’d wi’ me!
The present only toucheth thee:
But, och! I backward cast my e’e,
     On prospects drear!
An’ forward, tho’ I canna see,
     I guess an’ fear!

His Books
Robert Southey
My days among the Dead are past; 
     Around me I behold, 
Where'er these casual eyes are cast, 
     The mighty minds of old: 
My never-failing friends are they, 
With whom I converse day by day. 

With them I take delight in weal 
     And seek relief in woe; 
And while I understand and feel 
    How much to them I owe, 
My cheeks have often been bedew'd 
With tears of thoughtful gratitude. 

My thoughts are with the Dead; with them 
     I live in long-past years, 
Their virtues love, their faults condemn, 
     Partake their hopes and fears; 
And from their lessons seek and find 
Instruction with an humble mind. 

My hopes are with the Dead; anon 
     My place with them will be, 
And I with them shall travel on 
     Through all Futurity; 
Yet leaving here a name, I trust, 
That will not perish in the dust.

Fidele’s Dirge
William Shakespeare
Come away, come away, death, 
     And in sad cypres let me be laid; 
Fly away, fly away, breath; 
     I am slain by a fair cruel maid. 
My shroud of white, stuck all with yew, 
     O prepare it! 
My part of death, no one so true 
     Did share it. 

Not a flower, not a flower sweet, 
     On my black coffin let there be strown; 
Not a friend, not a friend greet 
     My poor corse, where my bones shall be thrown: 
A thousand thousand sighs to save, 
     Lay me, O, where 
Sad true lover never find my grave 
     To weep there!

Commemorative of a Naval Victory
Herman Melville
Sailors there are of the gentlest breed,
     Yet strong, like every goodly thing;
The discipline of arms refines,
     And the wave gives tempering.
     The damasked blade its beam can fling;
It lends the last grave grace:
The hawk, the hound, and sworded nobleman
     In Titian’s picture for a king,
Are of hunter or warrior race.

In social halls a favored guest
     In years that follow victory won,
How sweet to feel your festal fame
     In woman’s glance instinctive thrown:
     Repose is yours—your deed is known,
It musks the amber wine;
It lives, and sheds a light from storied days
     Rich as October sunsets brown,
Which make the barren place to shine.

But seldom the laurel wreath is seen
     Unmixed with pensive pansies dark;
There's a light and a shadow on every man
     Who at last attains his lifted mark—
     Nursing through night the ethereal spark.
Elate he never can be;
He feels that spirit which glad had hailed his worth,
     Sleep in oblivion.—The shark
Glides white through the phosphorus sea.

They Flee from Me
Sir Thomas Wyatt
They flee from me that sometime did me seek
     With naked foot, stalking in my chamber.
I have seen them gentle, tame, and meek,
     That now are wild and do not remember
     That sometime they put themself in danger
To take bread at my hand; and now they range,
Busily seeking with a continual change.

Thanked be fortune it hath been otherwise
     Twenty times better; but once in special,
In thin array after a pleasant guise,
     When her loose gown from her shoulders did fall,
     And she me caught in her arms long and small;
Therewithall sweetly did me kiss
And softly said, “Dear heart, how like you this?”

It was no dream: I lay broad waking.
     But all is turned thorough my gentleness
Into a strange fashion of forsaking;
     And I have leave to go of her goodness,
     And she also, to use newfangleness.
But since that I so kindly am served
I would fain know what she hath deserved.


  1. I think that I like "To a Mouse" best. Interesting thought and interesting-er way of writing it.

  2. I figured you'd like it. It's my favorite as well.


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