Richard Lovelace

To Althea, from Prison

WHEN Love with unconfined wings
Hovers within my gates,
And my divine Althea brings
To whisper at the grates;
When I lie tangled in her hair
And fetter’d to her eye,
The birds that wanton in the air
Know no such liberty.

When flowing cups run swiftly round
With no allaying Thames,
Our careless heads with roses bound,
Our hearts with loyal flames;
When thirsty grief in wine we steep,
When healths and draughts go free-
Fishes that tipple in the deep
Know no such liberty.

When, like committed linnets, I
With shriller throat shall sing
The sweetness, mercy, majesty,
And glories of my King;
When I shall voice aloud how good
He is, how great should be,
Enlarged winds, that curl the flood,
Know no such liberty.

Stone walls do not a prison make,
Nor iron bars a cage;
Minds innocent and quiet take
That for an hermitage;
If I have freedom in my love
And in my soul am free,
Angels alone, that soar above,
Enjoy such liberty.

Don Paterson

In my adult life, the time I have actually lived inside the present moment would amount to no more than a single day. If only I could have lived it as a single day; it would have thrown its light into all the others, like a brazier in a dark arcade. Instead I find my way by sparks, and what they briefly make visible.

John Shea

She was five and sure of the facts, and recited them with slow solemnity, convinced that every word was revelation.

She said, “they were so poor, they only had one peanut butter and jelly sandwich to eat, and they went a long way from home, without getting lost.

The lady rode on a donkey and the man walked, and the baby was inside the lady.

They had to stay in a stable with an ox and an ass (hee-hee), but the three Rich Men found them because a star lifted the roof.
Shepherds came and you could pet the sheep but not feed them.

Then the baby was borned. And do you know who it was? With that her quarter eyes inflated to silver dollars. She said, “The baby was God.”

And then Sharon jumped into the air, whirled around, dove into the sofa and buried her head under the cushion, which is the only proper response to the Good news of the Incarnation.

T S Elliot

The Hollow Men

I

We are the hollow men
We are the stuffed men
Leaning together
Headpiece filled with straw. Alas!
Our dried voices, when
We whisper together
Are quiet and meaningless
As wind in dry grass
Or rats’ feet over broken glass
In our dry cellar

Shape without form, shade without colour,
Paralysed force, gesture without motion;

Those who have crossed
With direct eyes, to death’s other Kingdom
Remember us — if at all — not as lost
Violent souls, but only
As the hollow men
The stuffed men.

II

Eyes I dare not meet in dreams
In death’s dream kingdom
These do not appear:
There, the eyes are
Sunlight on a broken column
There, is a tree swinging
And voices are
In the wind’s singing
More distant and more solemn
Than a fading star.

Let me be no nearer
In death’s dream kingdom
Let me also wear
Such deliberate disguises
Rat’s coat, crowskin, crossed staves
In a field
Behaving as the wind behaves
No nearer —

Not that final meeting
In the twilight kingdom

III

This is the dead land
This is cactus land
Here the stone images
Are raised, here they receive
The supplication of a dead man’s hand
Under the twinkle of a fading star.

Is it like this
In death’s other kingdom
Waking alone
At the hour when we are
Trembling with tenderness
Lips that would kiss
Form prayers to broken stone.

IV

The eyes are not here
There are no eyes here
In this valley of dying stars
In this hollow valley
This broken jaw of our lost kingdoms

In this last of meeting places
We grope together
And avoid speech
Gathered on this beach of the tumid river

Sightless, unless
The eyes reappear
As the perpetual star
Multifoliate rose
Of death’s twilight kingdom
The hope only
Of empty men.

V

Here we go round the prickly pear
Prickly pear prickly pear
Here we go round the prickly pear
At five o’clock in the morning.

Between the idea
And the reality
Between the motion
And the act
Falls the Shadow

For Thine is the Kingdom

Between the conception
And the creation
Between the emotion
And the response
Falls the Shadow

Life is very long

Between the desire
And the spasm
Between the potency
And the existence
Between the essence
And the descent
Falls the Shadow
For Thine is the Kingdom

For Thine is
Life is
For Thine is the

This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper.

Wang Tai-Hai

The Monkey of the Inkpot

This animal, common in the north, is four or five inches long; its eyes are scarlet and its fur is jet black, silky, and soft as a pillow. It is marked by a curious instinct – the taste for India ink. When a person sits down to write, the monkey squats cross-legged near by with one forepaw folded over the other, waiting until the task is over. Then it drinks what is left of the ink, and afterwards sits back on its haunches, quiet and satisfied.

From George Luis Borges “A Book of Imaginary Beings”.

Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Kubla Khan

In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
A stately pleasure-dome decree :
Where Alph, the sacred river, ran
Through caverns measureless to man
Down to a sunless sea.
So twice five miles of fertile ground
With walls and towers were girdled round :
And there were gardens bright with sinuous rills,
Where blossomed many an incense-bearing tree ;
And here were forests ancient as the hills,
Enfolding sunny spots of greenery.

But oh ! that deep romantic chasm which slanted
Down the green hill athwart a cedarn cover !
A savage place ! as holy and enchanted
As e’er beneath a waning moon was haunted
By woman wailing for her demon-lover !
And from this chasm, with ceaseless turmoil seething,
As if this earth in fast thick pants were breathing,
A mighty fountain momently was forced :
Amid whose swift half-intermitted burst
Huge fragments vaulted like rebounding hail,
Or chaffy grain beneath the thresher’s flail :
And ‘mid these dancing rocks at once and ever
It flung up momently the sacred river.
Five miles meandering with a mazy motion
Through wood and dale the sacred river ran,
Then reached the caverns measureless to man,
And sank in tumult to a lifeless ocean :
And ‘mid this tumult Kubla heard from far
Ancestral voices prophesying war !
The shadow of the dome of pleasure
Floated midway on the waves ;
Where was heard the mingled measure
From the fountain and the caves.
It was a miracle of rare device,
A sunny pleasure-dome with caves of ice !

A damsel with a dulcimer
In a vision once I saw :
It was an Abyssinian maid,
And on her dulcimer she played,
Singing of Mount Abora.
Could I revive within me
Her symphony and song,
To such a deep delight ‘twould win me,
That with music loud and long,
I would build that dome in air,
That sunny dome ! those caves of ice !
And all who heard should see them there,
And all should cry, Beware ! Beware !
His flashing eyes, his floating hair !
Weave a circle round him thrice,
And close your eyes with holy dread,
For he on honey-dew hath fed,
And drunk the milk of Paradise.

William Temple

Spelling is one of the decencies of life, like the proper use of knives and forks. But intellectually, spelling – English spelling – does not matter. Intellectually, stops matter a great deal. If you’re getting your commas, semi-colons and full-stops wrong, it means you’re not getting your thoughts right and your mind is muddled.

Roger McGough

Cabbage

John Wayne died of it
People are terrified of it
cancer
I hate that stuff

Groucho was laid low with it
One in five of us will go with it
heart attack
I hate that stuff

Monroe’s life turned sour on it
Hancock spent his last half hour on it
sleeping pills
I hate that stuff

Mama Cass choked on it
Blankets get soaked in it
vomit
I hate that stuff

Hendrix died from it
Chemists stay open late for it
Heroin
I hate that stuff

Women learn to live with it
No one can live without it
blood
I hate that stuff

Hospitals are packed with it
Saw my mother racked with it
pain
I hate that stuff

Few like to face the truth of it
We’re living proof of it
death
I hate that stuff

Schoolboys are force-fed with it
Cattle are served dead with it
cabbage
I hate that stuff