1)  "Paradoxes And Oxymorons"


This poem is concerned with language on a very plain level.
Look at it talking to you. You look out a window
Or pretend to fidget. You have it but you don't have it.
You miss it, it misses you. You miss each other.

The poem is sad because it wants to be yours, and cannot be.
What's a plain level? It is that and other things,
Bringing a system of them into play. Play?
Well, actually, yes, but I consider play to be

A deeper outside thing, a dreamed role-pattern,
As in the division of grace these long August days
Without proof. Open-ended. And before you know it
It gets lost in the steam and chatter of typewriters.

It has been played once more. I think you exist only
To tease me into doing it, on your level, and then you aren't there
Or have adopted a different attitude. And the poem
Has set me softly down beside you. The poem is you.

                                                                     John Ashbery (1927-   )    

 

 

(2)  “I Wandered Lonely As A Cloud”

 

I wandered lonely as a cloud

That floats on high o’er vales and hills,

When all at once I saw a crowd,

A host, of golden daffodils,

Beside the lake, beneath the trees,

Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

 

Continuous as the stars that shine

And twinkle on the milky way,

They stretched in never-ending line

Along the margin of a bay:

Ten thousand saw I at a glance,

Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

 

The waves beside them danced; but they

Out-did the sparkling waves in glee;

A poet could not but be gay,

In such a jocund company;

I gazed- and gazed- but little thought

What wealth the show to me had brought:

 

For oft, when on my couch I lie

In vacant or in pensive mood,

They flash upon thet inward eye

Which is the bliss of solitude;

And then my heart with pleasure fills,

And dances with the daffodils.

                                                William Wordsworth (1770-1850)

 

 

 

(3)  “My Heart Leaps Up When I Behold”

 

My heart leaps up when I behold

                   A rainbow in the sky:

So was it when my life began;

         So is it now I am a man;

         So be it when I shall grow old,

                   Or let me die!

         The Child is father of the Man;

         And I could wish my days to be

         Bound each to each by natural piety.

                                                        William Wordsworth (1770-1850)

 

 

 

 

*(4)  “Shall I Compare Thee To A Summer’s Day?”

 

Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?

Thou are more lovely and more temperate.

Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,

And summer’s lease hath all too short a date.

Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,

And often is his gold complexion dimmed;

And every fair from fair sometimes declines,

By chance, or nature’s changing course, untrimmed.

But thy eternal summer shall not fade,

Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow’st;

Nor shall death brag thou wand’rest in his shade,

When in eternal lines to time thou grow’st.

         So long as man can breathe or eyes can see,

         So long lives this and this gives life to thee.

 

                             William Shakespeare (1564-1616)

 

 

 

 

(5)  “Shall I Compare Thee To A Summer’s Day?”

 

Who says you’re like one of the dog days?

You’re nicer. And better.

Even in May, the weather can be gray,

And a summer sub-let doesn’t last forever.

Sometimes the sun’s too hot;

Sometimes it is not.

Who can stay young forever?

People break their necks or just drop dead!

But you? Never!

If there’s just one condensed reader left

Who can figure out the abridged alphabet,

         After you’re dead and gone,

         In this poem you’ll live on!

                                                                      Howard Moss (1922-1987)

 

(6)  “Let Me Not To The Marriage Of True Minds”

 

Let me not to the marriage of true minds

Admit impediments. Love is not love

Which alters when it alteration finds,

Or bends with the remover to remove.

O no! It is an ever-fixed mark

That looks on tempests and is never shaken;

It is the star to every wandering bark,

Whose worth’s unknown, although his height be taken.

Love’s not Time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks

Within his bending sickle’s compass come;

Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,

But bears it out even to the edge of doom.

         If this be error and upon me proved,

         I never writ, nor no man ever loved.

                                                       William Shakespeare (1564-1616)

 

(7)  “With Rue My Heart Is Laden”

 

With rue my heart is laden

For golden friends I had,

For many a rose-lipt maiden

And many a lightfoot lad.

 

By brooks too broad for leaping

The lightfoot boys are laid;

The rose-lipt girls are sleeping

In fields where roses fade.

A.    E. Houseman (1859-1936)

 

(8)  “Loveliest Of Trees”

 

Loveliest of trees, the cherry now

Is hung with bloom along the bough,

And stands about the woodland ride

Wearing white for Eastertide.

 

Now, of my threescore years and ten,

Twenty will not come again,

And take from seventy springs a score,

It only leaves me fifty more.

 

And since to look at things in bloom

Fifty springs are little room,

About the woodlands I will go

To see the cherry hung with snow.

A.    E. Houseman (1859-1936)

 

(9)  “To Sleep”

 

O soft embalmer of the still midnight,

         Shutting, with careful fingers and benign,

Our gloom-pleased eyes, embowered from the light,

Enshaded in forgetfulness divine:

O soothest Sleep ! if so it please thee, close,

         In midst of this thine hymn, my willing eyes,

Or wait the Amen, ere thy poppy throws

         Around my bed its lulling charities.

Then save me, or the passed day will shine

         Upon my pillow, breeding many woes:

Save me from curious conscience, that still hoards

         Its strength from darkness, burrowing like the mole;

Turn the key deftly in the oiled wards,

         And seal the hushed casket of my soul.

                                                                           John Keats (1795-1821)

 

(10)  “The Sick Rose”

 

O Rose, thou art sick!

The invisible worm

That flies in the night,

In the howling storm,

 

Has found out thy bed

Of crimson joy,

And his dark secret love

Does thy life destroy.

                                                                       William Blake (1757-1827)

(11)  “To The Virgins, To Make Much Of Time”

 

Gather ye rosebuds while ye may,

         Old Time is still a-flying;

And this same flower that smiles today

         Tomorrow will be dying.

 

The glorious lamp of heaven, the Sun,

         The higher he’s a-getting,

The sooner will his race be run,

         And nearer he’s to setting.

 

That age is best which is the first,

         When youth and blood are warmer;

But being spent, the worse, and worst

         Times still succeed the former.

 

Then be not coy, but use your time;

And while ye may, go marry;

For having lost but once your prime,

         You may forever tarry.

                                                                 Robert Herrick (1591-1674)

 

 

(12)   “My Life Closed Twice”

 

My life closed twice before its close;

It yet remains to see

If immortality unveil

A third event to me,

 

So huge, so hopeless to conceive,

As these that twice befell.

Parting is all we know of heaven,

And all we need of hell.

                                                              Emily Dickinson (1830-1886)

 

 

 

(13)  “The Coming Of Wisdom With Time”

 

         Though leaves are many, the root is one,

         Through all the lying days of my youth

I swayed my leaves and flowers in the sun;

         Now I may wither into the truth.

 

                              William Butler Yeats (1865-1939)

 

 

 

(14)  “Uphill”

 

Does the road wind uphill all the way?

         Yes, to the very end.

Will the day’s journey take the whole long day?

         From morn to night my friend.

 

But is there for the night a resting-place?

         A  roof for when the slow dark hours begin.

May not the darkness hide it from my face?

         You cannot miss that inn.

 

Shall I meet other wayfarers at night?

         Those who have gone before.

Then must I knock, or call when just in sight*

         They will not keep you standing at that door.

 

Shall I find comfort, travel-sore and weak?

         Of labor you shall find the sum.

Will there be beds for me and all who seek?

Yea, beds for all who come.

           

                                                           Christina Rossetti (1830-1894)

 

(15)  “I, Too”

 

I, too, sing America.

 

I am the darker brother.

They send me to eat in the kitchen

When  company  comes,

But I laugh,

And eat well,

And grow strong.

 

Tomorrow,

I’ll be at the table

When company comes.

Nobody’ ll dare

Say to me,

“Eat in the kitchen,”

Then.

 

Besides,

They’ll see how beautiful I am

And be ashamed-

 

I, too, am America.

                                                                 Langston Hughes (1902-1967)

 (16)  “Hero And Leander”

 

         Both robbed of air, we both lie in one ground,

         Both whom one fire had burnt, one water drowned.

 

                                                                          John Donne (1572-1631)

(17)  “One Art”

 

The art of losing isn’t hard to master;

So many things seem filled with the intent

To be lost that their loss is no disaster.

 

Lose something every day. Accept the fluster

Of lost door keys, the hour badly spent.

The art of losing isn’t hard to master.

 

Then practice losing farther, losing faster:

Places, and names, and where it was you meant

To travel.  None of these will bring disaster.

 

I lost my mother’s watch. And look! My last, or

Next-to-last, of three loved houses went.

The art of losing isn’t hard to master.

 

I lost two cities, lovely ones. And, vaster,

Some realms I owned, two rivers, a continent.

I miss them, but it wasn’t a disaster.

 

-Even losing you (the joking voice, a gesture

I love) I shan’t have lied. It’s evident

The art of losing’ s not too hard to master

Though it may look like (Write it !) like disaster.

                                                                               

                                                                   Elizabeth Bishop (1911-1979)

(18)  “Glove”

 

If in this word

Is love itself

Then love is bone

And blood inside

The form that warms

Your lovely hand-

Your hand is love

And mine that takes

Your love in mine

Without your hand

Is nothing but

An empty word.

                                                                       Bruce Guernsey (b. 1944)

 

(19)  “Maiden Name”

 

Marrying left your maiden name disused.

Its five light sounds no longer mean your face,

Your voice, and all your variants of grace;

For since you were so thankfully confused

By law with someone else, you cannot be

Semantically the same as that young beauty:

It was of her that these two words were used.

 

Now it’ s a phrase applicable to no one,

Lying just where you left it, scattered through

Old lists, old programmes, a school prize or two,

Packets of letters tied with tartan ribbon-

Then is it scentless, weightless, strengthless,

Wholly

Untruthful? Try whispering it slowly.

No, it means you. Or, since you’re past and gone,

 

It means what we feel now about you then:

How beautiful you were, and near and young,

So vivid, you might still be there among

Those first few days, unfingermarked again.

So your old name shelters our faithfulness,

Instead of losing shape and meaning less

With your depreciating luggage laden.

                                                                    Philip Larkin (1922-1985)

 

 

(20)  “The Unknown Citizen”

 

(To JS/07/M/378

This Marble Monument

Is Erected By The State)

 

He was found by the Bureau of Statistics to be

One against whom there was no official complaint,

And all the reports on his conduct agree

That, in the modern sense of an old-fashioned word, he was a saint,

For in everything he did he served the Greater Community.

Except for the War till the day he retired

He worked in a factory and never got fired,

But satisfied his employers, Fudge Motors Inc.

Yet he wasn’t a scab or odd in his views,

For his Union reports that he paid his dues,

(Our report on his Union shows it was sound)

And our Social Psychology workers found

That he was popular with his mates and liked a drink.

The Press are convinced that he bought a paper every day

And that his reactions to advertisements were normal in every way.

Policies taken out in his name prove that he was fully insured,

And his Health-card shows he was once in hospital but left it cured.

Both Producers research and High-Grade Living declare

He was fully sensible to the advantages of the Installment  Plan

And had everything necessary to the Modern man,

A phonograph, a radio, a car and a frigidaire.

Our researchers into Public Opinion are content

That he held the proper opinions for the time of year;

When there was peace, he was for peace; when there was war, he

went.

He was married and added five children to the population,

Which our Eugenist says was the right number for a parent of his

         generation,

And our teachers report that he never interfered with their

         education.

Was he free? Was he happy? The question is absurd:

Had anything been wrong, we should certainly have heard.

 

                                                               W. H. Auden (1907-1973)

 

(21)  “The Secret Sits”

 

         We dance around in a ring and suppose,

         But the Secret sits in the middle and knows.

                                                                    Robert Frost (1874-1963)

 

 

(22)  “To His Coy Mistress”

 

Had we but world enough, and time,

This coyness, lady, were no crime.

We would sit down, and think which way

To walk, and pass our long love’s day.

Thou by the Indian Ganges’ side

Shouldst rubies find; I by the tide

Of Humber would complain. I would

Love you ten years before the Flood,

And you should, if you please, refuse

Till the conversion of the Jews.

My vegetable love should grow

Vaster than empires, and more slow;

An hundred years should go to praise

Thine eyes, and on thy forehead gaze;

Two hundred to adore each breast,

But thirty thousand to the rest;

An age at least to every part,

And the last age should show your heart.

For, lady, you deserve this state,

Nor would I love at lower rate.

But at my back I always hear

Time’s winged chariot hurrying near;

And yonder all before us lie

Deserts of vast eternity.

Thy beauty shall no more be found,

Nor, in thy marble vault, shall sound

My echoing song; then worms shall try

That long-preserved virginity,

And your quaint honor turn to dust,

And into ashes all my lust:

The grave’s a fine and private place,

But none, I think, do there embrace.

         Now therefore, while the youthful hue

Sits on thy skin like morning dew,

And while thy willing soul transpires

At every pore with instant fires,

Now let us sport us while we may,

And now, like amorous birds of prey,

Rather at once our time devour

Than languish in his slow-chapped power.

Let us roll all our strength and all

Our sweetness up into one ball,

And tear our pleasures with rough strife

Thorough the iron gates of life.

Thus, though we cannot make our sun

Stand still, yet we will make him run.

                                                               Andrew Marvell (1621-1678)

 

 

 

(23)  “On A Wedding Anniversary”

 

The sky is torn across

This ragged anniversary of two

Who moved for three years in tune

Down the long walks of their vows.

 

Now their love lies a loss

And Love and his patients roar on a chain;

From every true or crater

Carrying cloud, Death strikes their house.

 

Too late in the wrong rain

They come together whom their love parted:

The windows pour into their heart

And the doors burn in their brain.

                                                                  Dylan Thomas (1914-1953)

* (24)  “my sweet old etcetera”

 

my sweet old etcetera

aunt lucy during the recent

 

war could and what

is more did tell you just

what everybody was fighting

 

for,

my sister

 

isabel created hundreds

(and

hundreds) of socks not to

mention shirts fleaproof earwarmers

 

etcetera wristers etcetera, my

mother hoped that

 

i would die etcetera

bravely of course my father used

to become hoarse talking about how it was

a privilege and if only he

could meanwhile my

 

self etcetera lay quietly

in the deep mud et

 

cetera

(dreaming,

et

   cetera, of

Your smile

eyes knees and your Etcetera)

                                                                  e. e. cummings (1894-1962)

 

 

 

*(25)  “O Captain ! My Captain !”

 

O Captain ! my Captain ! our fearful trip is done,

The ship has weather’d every rack, the prize we sought is won,

The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting,

While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring;

         But O heart ! heart ! heart !

            O the bleeding drops of red,

               Where on the deck my Captain lies,

                   Fallen cold and dead.

 

O Captain ! my Captain ! rise up and hear the bells;

Rise up – for you the flag is flung – for you the bugle trills,

For you bouquets and ribbon’d wreaths – for you the shores

         a-crowding,

For you they call, the swaying mass, their eager faces turning;

         Here Captain ! dear father !

            This arm beneath your head !

               It is some dream that on the deck,

                  You’ve fallen cold and dead.

My captain does not answer, his lips are pale and still,

My father does not feel my arm, he has no pulse nor will,

The ship is anchor’d safe and sound, its voyage closed and done,

From fearful trip the victor ship comes in with object won;

         Exult O shores, and ring O bells !

            But I with mournful tread,

               Walk the deck my Captain lies,

                   Fallen cold and dead.

                                                           Walt Whitman (1819-1892)                                                               

 

(26)  “The Road Not Taken”

 

         Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,

And sorry I could not travel them both

And be one traveler, long I stood

And looked down as far as I could;

To where it bent in the undergrowth;

 

Then took the other, as just as fair,

And having perhaps the better claim,

Because it was grassy and wanted wear;

Though as for that the passing there

Had worn them really about the same,

 

And both that morning equally lay

In leaves no step had trodden black.

Oh, I kept the first for another day !

Yet knowing how way leads on to way,

I doubted if I should ever come back.

 

I shall be telling this with a sigh

Somewhere ages and ages hence:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I –

I took the one less travelled by,

And that has made all the difference.

 

                                                            Robert Frost (1874-1963)

 

 

*(27)  “If”

 

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or, being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise;

If you can dream - and not make dreams your master;
If you can think - and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with triumph and disaster
And treat those two imposters just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with wornout tools;

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breath a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on";

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings - nor lose the common touch;
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run -
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And - which is more - you'll be a Man my son!

 

                                                                   Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936)

 

 

 

(28)  “l(a”

 

l(a

 

le

af

fa

 

ll

 

s)

one

l

 

iness

                                                           e.e. cummings (1894-1962)

 

 

(29)   "Wanting the Moon"


Not the moon. A flower
on the other side of the water.

The water sweeps past in flood,
dragging a whole tree by the hair,

a barn, a bridge. The flower
sings on the far bank.

Not a flower, a bird calling
hidden among the darkest trees, music

over the water, making a silence
out of the brown folds of the river's cloak.

The moon. No, a young man walking
under the trees. There are lanterns

among the leaves.
Tender, wise, merry,

his face is awake with its own light,
I see it across the water as if close up.

A jester. The music rings from his bells,
gravely, a tune of sorrow,

I dance to it on my riverbank.
                                                      Denise Levertov (1923-1997)

 

(30)   "The Sad Mother"

Sleep, sleep, my beloved,
without worry, without fear,
although my soul does not sleep,
although I do not rest.

Sleep, sleep, and in the night
may your whispers be softer
than a leaf of grass,
or the silken fleece of lambs.

May my flesh slumber in you,
my worry, my trembling.
In you, may my eyes close
and my heart sleep.

                                                        Gabriela Mistral (1889-1957)

 

 

(31)   “The Sun Rising”

 

Busy old fool, unruly sun,

Why dost thou thus

Through windows and through curtains call on us?

Must to thy motions lovers’ seasons run?

         Saucy pedantic wretch, go chide

Late schoolboys and sour prentices,

   Go tell court-huntsmen that the king will ride,

   Call country ants to harvest offices;

Love, all alike, no season knows, nor clime,

Nor hours, days, months, which are the rags of time.

 

         Thy beams so reverend and strong

         Why shouldst thou think?

I could eclipse and cloud them with a wink,

But that I would not lose her sight so long;

         If her eyes have not blinded thine,

         Look, and tomorrow late tell me

   Whether both th’ Indias of spice and mine

   Be where thou left’ st them, or lie here with me.

Ask for those kings whom thou saw’ st yesterday,

And thou shalt hear, “all here in one bed lay.”

 

         She is all states, and all princes I;

         Nothing else is.

Princes do but play us; compared to this,

All honor’ s mimic, all wealth alchemy.

         Thou, sun, art half as happy as we,

         In that the world’s contracted thus;

   Thine age asks ease, and since thy duties be

   To warm the world, that’s done in warming us.

Shine here to us, and thou art everywhere;

This bed thy center is, these walls thy sphere.

 

                                                                      John Donne (1572-1631)

 

(32)          "Richard Cory"

 

Whenever Richard Cory went down town,

We people on the pavement looked at him:

He was a gentleman from sole to crown,

Clean favored, and imperially slim.

 

And he was always quietly arrayed,

Aned he was always human when he talked;

But still he fluttered pulses, when he said,

"Good-morning," and he glittered when he walked.

 

And he was rich- yes, richer than a king-

And admirably schooled in every grace:

In fine, we thought that he was everything

To make us wish that we were in his place.

 

So on we worked, and waited for the light,

And went without the meat, and cursed the bread;

And Richard Cory, one calm summer night,

Went home and put a bullet through his head.

                                                                 E. A. Robinson (1869-1935)