Month: December 2005

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…

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