Emily Dickinson

Great Emily Dickinson.

Art & Poetry

 

“Nature” is what we see—
The Hill—the Afternoon—
Squirrel—Eclipse— the Bumble bee—
Nay—Nature is Heaven—
Nature is what we hear—
The Bobolink—the Sea—
Thunder—the Cricket—
Nay—Nature is Harmony—
Nature is what we know—
Yet have no art to say—
So impotent Our Wisdom is
To her Simplicity.

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John Keats – Bright Star

Charles Brown, Portrait of John Keats, 1819.

Portrait of John Keats by Charles Brown, 1819

Bright Star

Bright star, would I were stedfast as thou art–
Not in lone splendour hung aloft the night
And watching, with eternal lids apart,
Like nature’s patient, sleepless Eremite,
The moving waters at their priestlike task
Of pure ablution round earth’s human shores,
Or gazing on the new soft-fallen mask
Of snow upon the mountains and the moors–
No–yet still stedfast, still unchangeable,
Pillow’d upon my fair love’s ripening breast,
To feel for ever its soft fall and swell,
Awake for ever in a sweet unrest,
Still, still to hear her tender-taken breath,
And so live ever–or else swoon to death.

 

–John Keats (1795 – 1821) was one of the principal poets of the English Romantic movement.

There Is Pleasure In The Pathless Woods

By Lord George Gordon Byron (1788–1824)

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.



File:George Gordon Byron2.jpg
Lord George Gordon Byron



T. S. Eliot — Portrait of a Lady

Thou hast committed —
Fornication: but that was in another country,
And besides, the wench is dead.
(The Jew of Malta)

I

Among the smoke and fog of a December afternoon
You have the scene arrange itself — as it will seem to do—
With “I have saved this afternoon for you”;
And four wax candles in the darkened room,
Four rings of light upon the ceiling overhead,
An atmosphere of Juliet’s tomb
Prepared for all the things to be said, or left unsaid.
We have been, let us say, to hear the latest Pole
Transmit the Preludes, through his hair and finger-tips.
“So intimate, this Chopin, that I think his soul
Should be resurrected only among friends
Some two or three, who will not touch the bloom
That is rubbed and questioned in the concert room.”
—And so the conversation slips
Among velleities and carefully caught regrets
Through attenuated tones of violins
Mingled with remote cornets
And begins.
“You do not know how much they mean to me, my friends,
And how, how rare and strange it is, to find
In a life composed so much, so much of odds and ends,
(For indeed I do not love it … you knew? you are not blind!
How keen you are!)
To find a friend who has these qualities,
Who has, and gives
Those qualities upon which friendship lives.
How much it means that I say this to you —
Without these friendships — life, what cauchemar!”
Among the winding of the violins
And the ariettes
Of cracked cornets
Inside my brain a dull tom-tom begins
Absurdly hammering a prelude of its own,
Capricious monotone
That is at least one definite “false note.”
— Let us take the air, in a tobacco trance,
Admire the monuments,
Discuss the late events,
Correct our watches by the public clocks.
Then sit for half an hour and drink our bocks.

II

Now that lilacs are in bloom
She has a bowl of lilacs in her room
And twists one in her fingers while she talks.
“Ah, my friend, you do not know, you do not know
What life is, you who hold it in your hands”;
(Slowly twisting the lilac stalks)
“You let it flow from you, you let it flow,
And youth is cruel, and has no remorse
And smiles at situations which it cannot see.”
I smile, of course,
And go on drinking tea.
“Yet with these April sunsets, that somehow recall
My buried life, and Paris in the Spring,
I feel immeasurably at peace, and find the world
To be wonderful and youthful, after all.”
The voice returns like the insistent out-of-tune
Of a broken violin on an August afternoon:
“I am always sure that you understand
My feelings, always sure that you feel,
Sure that across the gulf you reach your hand.
You are invulnerable, you have no Achilles’ heel.
You will go on, and when you have prevailed
You can say: at this point many a one has failed.
But what have I, but what have I, my friend,
To give you, what can you receive from me?
Only the friendship and the sympathy
Of one about to reach her journey’s end.
I shall sit here, serving tea to friends ….”
I take my hat: how can I make a cowardly amends
For what she has said to me?
You will see me any morning in the park
Reading the comics and the sporting page.
Particularly I remark.
An English countess goes upon the stage.
A Greek was murdered at a Polish dance,
Another bank defaulter has confessed.
I keep my countenance,
I remain self-possessed
Except when a street-piano, mechanical and tired
Reiterates some worn-out common song
With the smell of hyacinths across the garden
Recalling things that other people have desired.
Are these ideas right or wrong?

III

The October night comes down; returning as before
Except for a slight sensation of being ill at ease
I mount the stairs and turn the handle of the door
And feel as if I had mounted on my hands and knees.
“And so you are going abroad; and when do you return?
But that’s a useless question.
You hardly know when you are coming back,
You will find so much to learn.”
My smile falls heavily among the bric-à-brac.
“Perhaps you can write to me.”
My self-possession flares up for a second;
This is as I had reckoned.
“I have been wondering frequently of late
(But our beginnings never know our ends!)
Why we have not developed into friends.”
I feel like one who smiles, and turning shall remark
Suddenly, his expression in a glass.
My self-possession gutters; we are really in the dark.
“For everybody said so, all our friends,
They all were sure our feelings would relate
So closely! I myself can hardly understand.
We must leave it now to fate.
You will write, at any rate.
Perhaps it is not too late.
I shall sit here, serving tea to friends.”
And I must borrow every changing shape
To find expression … dance, dance
Like a dancing bear,
Cry like a parrot, chatter like an ape.
Let us take the air, in a tobacco trance—
Well! and what if she should die some afternoon,
Afternoon grey and smoky, evening yellow and rose;
Should die and leave me sitting pen in hand
With the smoke coming down above the housetops;
Doubtful, for quite a while
Not knowing what to feel or if I understand
Or whether wise or foolish, tardy or too soon …
Would she not have the advantage, after all?
This music is successful with a “dying fall”
Now that we talk of dying—
And should I have the right to smile?

The House Was Quiet and the World Was Calm

By Wallace Stevens

The house was quiet and the worldwas calm.
The reader became the book; and summer night

Was like the conscious being ofthe book.
The house was quiet and the world was calm.

The words were spoken as if therewas no book,
Except that the reader leaned above the page,

Wanted to lean, wanted much mostto be
The scholar to whom his book is true, to whom

The summer night is like aperfection of thought.
The house was quiet because it had to be.

The quiet was part of the meaning,part of the mind:
The access of perfection to the page.

And the world was calm. The truthin a calm world,
In which there is no other meaning, itself

Is calm, itself is summer andnight, itself
Is the reader leaning late and reading there.

Wallace Stevens


Among School Children by W. B. Yeats

 I
  I walk through the long schoolroom questioning; 
  A kind old nun in a white hood replies; 
  The children learn to cipher and to sing, 
  To study reading-books and history,  
  To cut and sew, be neat in everything 
  In the best modern way — the children’s eyes 
  In momentary wonder stare upon 
  A sixty-year-old smiling public man.  

 II 
  I dream of a Ledaean body, bent  
  Above a sinking fire, a tale that she 
  Told of a harsh reproof, or trivial event 
  That changed some childish day to tragedy — 
  Told, and it seemed that our two natures blent 
  Into a sphere from youthful sympathy,  
  Or else, to alter Plato’s parable, 
  Into the yolk and white of the one shell.      

III 
  And thinking of that fit of grief or rage 
  I look upon one child or t’other there 
  And wonder if she stood so at that age —  
  For even daughters of the swan can share 
  Something of every paddler’s heritage — 
  And had that colour upon cheek or hair, 
  And thereupon my heart is driven wild: 
  She stands before me as a living child.      

IV  
  Her present image floats into the mind — 
  Did Quattrocento finger fashion it 
  Hollow of cheek as though it drank the wind 
  And took a mess of shadows for its meat? 
  And I though never of Ledaean kind  
  Had pretty plumage once — enough of that, 
  Better to smile on all that smile, and show 
  There is a comfortable kind of old scarecrow.      


  What youthful mother, a shape upon her lap 
  Honey of generation had betrayed,  
  And that must sleep, shriek, struggle to escape 
  As recollection or the drug decide, 
  Would think her son, did she but see that shape 
  With sixty or more winters on its head, 
  A compensation for the pang of his birth,  
  Or the uncertainty of his setting forth?    
 
VI 
  Plato thought nature but a spume that plays 
  Upon a ghostly paradigm of things; 
  Solider Aristotle played the taws 
  Upon the bottom of a king of kings;  
  World-famous golden-thighed Pythagoras 
  Fingered upon a fiddle-stick or strings 
  What a star sang and careless Muses heard: 
  Old clothes upon old sticks to scare a bird.      

VII 
  Both nuns and mothers worship images,  
  But those the candles light are not as those 
  That animate a mother’s reveries, 
  But keep a marble or a bronze repose. 
  And yet they too break hearts — O Presences 
  That passion, piety or affection knows,  
  And that all heavenly glory symbolise — 
  O self-born mockers of man’s enterprise;    

VIII 
  Labour is blossoming or dancing where 
  The body is not bruised to pleasure soul, 
  Nor beauty born out of its own despair,  
  Nor blear-eyed wisdom out of midnight oil. 
  O chestnut tree, great rooted blossomer, 
  Are you the leaf, the blossom or the bole? 
  O body swayed to music, O brightening glance, 
  How can we know the dancer from the dance? 

W. B. Yeats
Yeats2
W. B. Yeats

A Crazed Girl by W. B. Yeats

THAT crazed girl improvising her music.
Her poetry, dancing upon the shore,

Her soul in division from itself
Climbing, falling She knew not where,
Hiding amid the cargo of a steamship,
Her knee-cap broken, that girl I declare
A beautiful lofty thing, or a thing
Heroically lost, heroically found.

No matter what disaster occurred
She stood in desperate music wound,
Wound, wound, and she made in her triumph
Where the bales and the baskets lay
No common intelligible sound
But sang, “O sea-starved, hungry sea.’

 

 
William Butler Yeats