Tuesday, December 26, 2006

One Inexpensive Desert

Desert Town
By Anne Carson

When the sage came back in.
From the desert.
He propped up the disciples again like sparrows.
On a clothesline.
Some had fallen in to despair this puzzled him.
In the desert.
Where he baked his heart.
Were no shadows no up and down to remind him.
How they depended on him a boy died.
In his arms.
It is very expensive he thought.
To come back.
He began to conform.
To the cutting away ways.
Of this world a fire was roaring up.
Inside him his bones by now liquid and he saw.
Ahead of him.
Waiting nothing else.
Waiting itself.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

One Shrieking Heaven

By Louise Bogan

To me, one silly task is like another.
I bare the shambling tricks of lust and pride.
This flesh will never give a child its mother,—
Song, like a wing, tears through my breast, my side,
And madness chooses out my voice again,
Again. I am the chosen no hand saves:
The shrieking heaven lifted over men,
Not the dumb earth, wherein they set their graves.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

One Happy City

By Yehuda Amichai

On a roof in the Old City
laundry hangs in the afternoon sunlight.
The white sheet of a woman who is my enemy,
the towel of a man who is my enemy,
to wipe the sweat of his brow.

In the sky of the Old City
a kite.
At the other end of the string,
a child
I can't see
because of the wall.

They are waving many bright flags.
We are waving many bright flags.
Bright flags to show how happy they are.
Bright flags to show how happy we are.

One Afflicted Vein

from State of Seige
By Mahmoud Darwish

...ten are wounded.
Twenty homes are gone.
Forty olive groves destroyed,
in addition to the structural damage
afflicting the veins of the poem, the play,
and the unfinished painting.

--Translated by Ramsis Amun

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

One Unsatisfied Stone

The Magi
By W.B. Yeats

Now as at all times I can see in the mind's eye,
In their stiff, painted clothes, the pale unsatisfied ones
Appear and disappear in the blue depth of the sky
With all their ancient faces like rainbeaten stones,
And all their helms of silver hovering side by side,
And all their eyes still fixed, hoping to find once more,
Being by Calvary's turbulence unsatisfied,
The uncontrollable mystery on the bestial floor.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

One Puzzling Newborn

Birth of a New Poem
By Tadeusz Rosewicz

Two poems
rush through the night
at each other

the shapes of these poems
are modern
the interiors lit up
comfortable and experimental

they fall upon each other

expiring forms
break the line
stifle breaths
wrench away words
dissolve features

a collision
a new poem
a third poem
born in agony
flows through
the fetal waters
of humanity

the newborn
with a puzzling smile

poised for sudden

~Translated by Magnus Krynski and Robert Maguire

Monday, November 27, 2006

One Unstable Pyramid

Lime Light
By Kay Ryan

One can't work
by lime light.

A bowlful
right at
one's elbow

produces no
more than
a baleful
glow against
the kitchen table.

The fruit purveyor's
whole unstable

doesn't equal
what daylight did.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

One Transparent Church

By W.S. Merwin

The church in the forest
was built of wood

the faithful carved their names by the doors
same names as ours

soldiers burned it down

the next church where the first had stood
was built of wood

with charcoal floors
names were written in black by the doors
same names as ours

soldiers burned it down

we have a church where the others stood
it’s made of ash

no roof no doors

nothing on earth
says it’s ours

One Deaf Chamber

from Astrophel and Stella
By Sir Philip Sidney

Come Sleep! O Sleep, the certain knot of peace,
The baiting place of wit, the balm of woe,
The poor man's wealth, the prisoner's release,
Th' indifferent judge between the high and low;
With shield of proof, shield me from out the prease
Of those fierce darts Despair at me doth throw;
O make in me those civil wars to cease;
I will good tribute pay, if thou do so.
Take thou of me smooth pillows, sweetest bed,
A chamber deaf to noise and blind to light,
A rosy garland and a weary head:
And if these things, as being thine by right,
Move not thy heavy grace, thou shalt in me,
Livelier than elsewhere, Stella's image see.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

One Cramped Sheep

Laser Palmistry: The Early Days
By Sarah Lindsay

Determined not to ask too much,
the chiromantic surgeon's very first client
passed up the lottery-winning star along the Apollo line,
the peacock's eye on the Mercury finger for
luck and protection.

But, given the discount for scientific advancement,
she made four choices: erase the ring of Saturn
that circled her left middle finger and kept
her melancholy;
build up her mount of Apollo, to make her
lively and creative; lengthen her heart line --
she would be discriminating and faithful in love;
and draw her a good strong fate line, because
she had none.
What kind? "Surprise me," she said,
and opened her hands, and felt so naked
she had to close her eyes.

Who knew that while his meticulous lasers worked,
the tea leaves in her mug in the kitchen sink
shifted before they dried? or that three counties over,
a sheep suffered cramps as its entrails readjusted?

Meanwhile, no fewer than nine unrelated people
felt tickles like ants in their palms as their
own lines moved.
That night, while the patient's unexpected headache
accompanied minor changes in the protuberances
of her skull,
a few widely scattered astronomers frowned
at anomalies in their data,
and on Floreana, in the Galápagos Islands,
an as yet undiscovered vein
of perfectly aligned crystals disappeared.
And that was just the beginning.

One True Gaze

from Requiem
By Rainer Maria Rilke

And at last, you saw yourself as a fruit, you stepped
out of your clothes and brought your naked body
before the mirror, you left yourself inside
down to your gaze; which stayed in front, immense,
and didn't say: I am that; no: this is.
So free of curiosity your gaze
had become, so unpossessive, of such true
poverty, it had no desire even
for you yourself; it wanted nothing: holy.

--Translated by Stephen Mitchell ~ Book

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

One Crafty Burglar

from Be Melting Snow
By Jelaluddin Rumi

My friends and I go running out into the street.
I'm in here, comes a voice from the house, but we aren't listening.
We're looking up at the sky.
My pet nightingale sobs like a drunk in the garden.
Ringdoves scatter with small cries, Where, Where.
It's midnight. The whole neighborhood is up and out
in the street thinking, The cat burglar has come back.
The actual thief is there too, saying out loud,
Yes, the cat burglar is somewhere in this crowd.
No one pays attention.

Lo, I am with you always means when you look for God,
God is in the look of your eyes,
in the thought of looking, nearer to you than your self,
or things that have happened to you
There's no need to go outside.     ...more

--Translated by Coleman Barks

One Deep Hell

from Paradise Lost
By John Milton

Me miserable! Which way shall I fly
Infinite wrath and infinite despair?
Which way I fly is Hell; myself am Hell;
And in the lowest deep, a lower deep
Still threatening to devour me opens wide,
To which the Hell I suffer seems a Heaven.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

One Strange Button

from The Rain
By Zbigniew Herbert

When my older brother
came back from war
he had on his forehead a little silver star
and under the star
an abyss

a splinter of shrapnel
hit him at Verdun
or perhaps at Grünwald
(he'd forgotten the details)

...we looked at him
getting paler and paler
abandoned by his senses
he turned slowly into a monument

into musical shells of ears
entered a stone forest
and the skin of his face
was secured
with the blind dry
buttons of eyes

nothing was left him
but touch

what stories
he told with his hands
in the right he had romances
in the left soldier's memories

they took my brother
and carried him out of town
he returns every fall
slim and very quiet
(he does not want to come in)
he knocks at the window for me

we walk together in the streets
and he recites to me
improbable tales
touching my face
with blind fingers of rain

--Translated by Czeslaw Milosz

One Dizzy Fire

...When I look at you
Brochea, not a part of my
voice comes out,
but my tongue breaks,
and right away
a delicate fire runs just beneath
my skin,

I see a dizzy nothing,
my ears ring with noise,
the sweat runs down
upon me, and a trembling
that I cannot stop
seizes me limb and loin,
I am greener than grass, and
death seems so near...

--Sappho, translated by Edward Sanders

One Bad Wax

from Waiting for Icarus
By Muriel Rukeyser

He said he would be back and we'd drink wine together
He said that everything would be better than before
He said we were on the edge of a new relation
He said he would never again cringe before his father
He said that he was going to invent full-time
He said he loved me that going into me
He said was going into the world and the sky
He said all the buckles were very firm
He said the wax was the best wax
He said Wait for me here on the beach
He said Just don't cry ...more

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

One Scary Wristwatch

By Mario Susko

I came upon a man in black who sat on a tank,
tending his sheep that grazed impassively
around the craters and among dead bodies.

I am looking for my son, I said squinting.
The bullets in his cartridge belt slung
over his shoulder shone in the sun like teeth.

He smiled, chewing a cigarette to the other
corner of his mouth, and motioned with his hand
to the field. Plenty to choose from, he said.

The sheep were moving away towards the shade
of a big oak tree, the bodies following
on all fours. I strained my ears to hear the bell

I knew. He slid down and stared at me.
Is that your stomach growling, he asked.
I am just trying to find my son, I whispered.

You want me to shoot one? He spat out the butt
and stomped it with his boot that was like my son’s.
We are talking about some good meat, he grinned.

The shirt looked familiar, but I couldn’t tell.
My sheep started to fan out and I suddenly heard
a dog yelp behind me. He whistled, the sound

thin and piercing, making the bodies stop.
I felt the sweat run down my buttocks and legs,
as if someone punctured holes in my ribs.

Have you seen my son, I uttered, not knowing
whether any sound left my mouth. You never had
a son, he yelled and cocked his submachine gun.

The boots were the same, and so was the shirt.
And the Mickey Mouse watch on his hand was the same.
Tell you what, he said and laughed. I’ll be your son.

One Gallant Foe

Ballad for Gloom
By Ezra Pound

For God, our God is a gallant foe
That playeth behind the veil.

I have loved my God as a child at heart
That seeketh deep bosoms for rest,
I have loved my God as a maid to man—
But lo, this thing is best:

To love your God as a gallant foe
that plays behind the veil;
To meet your God as the night winds meet
beyond Arcturus' pale.

I have played with God for a woman,
I have staked with my God for truth,
I have lost to my God as a man, clear-eyed—
His dice be not of ruth.

For I am made as a naked blade,
But hear ye this thing in sooth:

Who loseth to God as man to man
Shall win at the turn of the game.
I have drawn my blade where the lightnings meet
But the ending is the same:
Who loseth to God as the sword blades lose
Shall win at the end of the game.

For God, our God is a gallant foe
that playeth behind the veil.
Whom God deigns not to overthrow
hath need of triple mail.

One Chubby Mosaic

A Byzantine Mosaic
By Wislawa Szymborska

"O Theotropia, my empress consort."

"O Theodendron, my consort emperor."

"How fair thou art, my hollow-cheeked beloved."

"How fine art thou, blue-lipped spouse."

"Thou art so wondrous frail
beneath thy bell-like gown,
the alarum of which, if but removed,
would waken all my kingdom."

"How excellently mortified thou art,
my lord and master,
to mine own shadow a twinned shade."

"Oh how it pleaseth me
to see my lady's palms,
like unto palm leaves verily,
clasped to her mantle's throat."

"Wherewith, raised heavenward,
I would pray thee mercy for our son,
for he is not such as we, O Theodendron."

"Heaven forfend, O Theotropia.
Pray, what might he be,
begotten and brought forth
in godly dignity?"

"I will confess anon, and thou shalt hear me.
Not a princeling but a sinner have I borne thee.
Pink and shameless as a piglet,
plump and merry, verily,
all chubby wrists and ringlets came he
rolling unto us."

"He is roly-poly?"

"That he is."

"He is voracious?"

"Yea, in truth."

"His skin is milk and roses?"

"As thou sayest."

"What, pray, does our archimandrite say,
a man of most penetrating gnosis?
What say our consecrated eremites,
most holy skeletesses?
How should they strip the fiendish infant
of his swaddling silks?"

"Metamorphosis miraculous
still lies within our Savior's power.
Yet thou, on spying
the babe's unsightliness,
shalt not cry out
and rouse the sleeping demon from his rest?"

"I am thy twin in horror.
Lead on, Theotropia."

--Translated by Clare Cavanaugh

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

One Good Flute

To a Traitor

The traitor’s skull, we shall drink out of it,
His teeth we shall wear as a necklace,
From his bones we shall make flutes,
Of his skin we shall make a drum,
Then we shall dance.

--Translated by Willard Trask after Richard Pietschmann

One Strange Talk

from The Silence Afterwards
By Rolf Jacobsen

it is way too late...
...words don't exist any longer,
there are no more words,
from now on all the talk will take place
with the voices stones and trees have.

--Translated by Robert Bly

One Smart Beggar

Some--Work for Immortality--
The Chiefer part, for Time--
The former--Checks--on Fame--

Slow Gold--but Everlasting--
The Bullion of Today--
Contrasted with the Currency
Of Immortality--

A Beggar--Here and There--
Is gifted to discern
Beyond the Broker's insight--
One's--Money--One's--the Mine--

--Emily Dickinson

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

One Drenched River

The Lotus
By Li Po

Lotus flowers blossomed,
and the river was drenched in red.
Sir, you said the lotuses were more beautiful than me.
Yesterday, when I passed by the flowers,
why, then, didn't people look at the lotus?

--Translated by Arthur Sze

One Glaring Light

into the blinding sun
the funeral procession's
glaring headlights

--By Nicholas Virgilio

One Contrary Wave

from West-Running Brook
By Robert Frost

'Speaking of contraries, see how the brook
In that white wave runs counter to itself.
It is from that in water we were from
Long, long before we were from any creature.
Here we, in our impatience of the steps,
Get back to the beginning of beginnings,
The stream of everything that runs away.
Some say existence like a Pirouot
And Pirouette, forever in one place,
Stands still and dances, but it runs away,
It seriously, sadly, runs away
To fill the abyss' void with emptiness.
It flows beside us in this water brook,
But it flows over us. It flows between us
To separate us for a panic moment.
It flows between us, over us, and with us.
And it is time, strength, tone, light, life and love-
And even substance lapsing unsubstantial;
The universal cataract of death
That spends to nothingness--and unresisted,
Save by some strange resistance in itself,
Not just a swerving, but a throwing back,
As if regret were in it and were sacred.
It has this throwing backward on itself
So that the fall of most of it is always
Raising a little, sending up a little.
Our life runs down in sending up the clock.
The brook runs down in sending up our life.
The sun runs down in sending up the brook.
And there is something sending up the sun.
It is this backward motion toward the source,
Against the stream, that most we see ourselves in,
The tribute of the current to the source.
It is from this in nature we are from.
It is most us.'

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

One Smart Orphan

from The Orphan Reformed
By Stevie Smith

Orphan, the people who will not be your parents are not evil,
Not the devil.
But still she cries Father, Mother
Must I be alone forever?
Yes you must. Oh wicked orphan, oh rebellion
Must an orphan not be alone is that your opinion?
At last the orphan is reformed. Now quite
Alone she goes; now she is right.
Now when she cries, Father, Mother, it is only to please.
Now the people do not mind, now they say she is a mild tease.

One Soundless Snow

Without a sound
resin buried underground is turning into amber
while above the first snow is falling

Ko Un, translated by Brother Anthony ~ Book

One Good Blessing

from The Rime of the Ancient Mariner
By Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Beyond the shadow of the ship,
I watched the water-snakes:
They moved in tracks of shining white,
And when they reared, the elfish light
Fell off in hoary flakes.

Within the shadow of the ship,
I watched their rich attire:
Blue, glossy green, and velvet black,
They coiled and swam; and every track
Was a flash of golden fire.

O happy living things! no tongue
Their beauty might declare:
A spring of love gushed from my heart,
And I blessed them unaware:
Sure my kind saint took pity on me,
And I blessed them unaware.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

One Good Dye

from The Channel Boat
By Yosano Akiko

What shall I wear to sleep in alone?
An under-kimono of silk crepe
dyed the hushed red of dawn.
It touches the skin
like heavy mist falls on flowers.


My husband traveler
are you sleeping now in France?
If a bird of paradise comes into your dreams
it is me.

--Translated by Janine Beichman ~ Book

One Lucky Ant

from What the Gypsies Told My Grandmother While She Was Still a Young Girl
By Charles Simic

War, illness and famine will make you their favorite grandchild.
You'll be like a blind person watching a silent movie.
You'll chop onions and pieces of your heart into the same hot skillet...

...You'll envy every ant you meet in your life and every roadside weed.
Your body and soul will sit on separate stoops chewing the same piece of gum.

Little cutie, are you for sale? the devil will say.
The undertaker will buy a toy for your grandson.
Your mind will be a hornet's nest even on your deathbed.
You will pray to God but God will have a sign that He's not to be disturbed.
Question no further, that's all I know.


One Thin Rift

from Vivien's Song
By Alfred Lord Tennyson

...It is the little rift within the lute
That by and by will make the music mute,
And ever widening slowly silence all...

One Dangerous Art

Letter on Van Gogh
By Rainer Maria Rilke

...works of art are always the result of one's having been in danger, of having gone through an experience all the way to the end, to where no one can go any further.

--Translated by Joel Agee ~ Book

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

One Cold Beam

Sun of the Sleepless
By George Gordon, Lord Byron

Sun of the sleepless! melancholy star!
Whose tearful beam glows tremulously far,
That show'st the darkness thou canst not dispel,
How like art thou to joy remember'd well!

So gleams the past, the light of other days,
Which shines, but warms not with its powerless rays;
A night-beam Sorrow watcheth to behold,
Distinct, but distant--clear--but oh, how cold!

One Good Nail

Mildew Flowers
By Tudor Arghezi

I wrote them with my nail on the plaster
On a wall of empty cracks,
In the dark, in my solitude,
Unaided by the bull lion vulture
Of Luke Mark and John,
Verses for all seasons,
Verses of the pit
Of thirst for water
And of hunger for ashes,
Verses of today.
When my angel nail was blunted
I let it grow again,
But it didn't,
Or else I knew nothing of it.

Dark. Rain beat down far off, outside.
My hand hurt me, like a claw
That can't be clenched.
I forced myself to write with my left-hand nails.

--Translated by Michael Impey and Brian Swann ~ Book

One Burnt Dollar

from Perhaps
By Wen I-To

...Perhaps you hear earthworms digging in the mud,
or listen to the root hairs of small grasses sucking up water.
Perhaps this music you are listening to is lovelier
than the swearing and cursing noises of men.

Then close your eyelids, and shut them tight.
I will let you sleep; I will let you sleep.
I will cover you lightly, lightly with yellow earth.
I will slowly, slowly let the ashes of paper money fly.

--Translated by Arthur Sze ~ Book

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

One Missing Crumb

The Folly Of Being Comforted
By William Butler Yeats

One that is ever kind said yesterday:
"Your well-beloved's hair has threads of grey,
And little shadows come about her eyes;
Time can but make it easier to be wise
Though now it seems impossible, and so
All that you need is patience."

Heart cries, "No,
I have not a crumb of comfort, not a grain.
Time can but make her beauty over again:
Because of that great nobleness of hers
The fire that stirs about her, when she stirs,
Burns but more clearly. O she had not these ways
When all the wild summer was in her gaze."

Heart! O heart! if she'd but turn her head,
You'd know the folly of being comforted.

One Pointy Turnip

The turnip farmer
pointed my road to me
with a turnip


One Snowy TV

from After a Death
By Tomas Tranströmer

Once there was a shock
that left behind a long, shimmering comet tail.
It keeps us inside. It makes the TV pictures snowy.
It settles in cold drops on the telephone wires... more

--Translated by Robert Bly ~ Book

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

One Good Day

By Czeslaw Milosz


--Translated by Czeslaw Milosz ~ Book

One Sick Zeus

On Marcus the Physician

Yesterday Dr Marcus went to see the statue of Zeus.

Though Zeus,
        &though marble,

We're burying the statue today.

--Translated by Dudley Fitts ~ Book

One Sweet Viper

She Was Beautiful and Wicked
By Nina Cassian

She was beautiful and wicked.
He was wicked and beautiful.
From head to toe
they were smeared with viper honey.

She was afraid of goodness.
Of goodness he was afraid.
Shields of sin
guarded him, guarded her.

They lived in ignorance.
They died in ignorance.
The saints still sorrow
in the silver icon.

--Translated by Laura Schiff ~ Book

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

One Good Sun

Brief Reflection on the Sun
By Miroslav Holub

Thanks to the systematic work of our meteorologists,
and altogether thanks to the general labor effort,
we have all been witnesses of many solstices,
solar eclipses and even

But we have never seen the sun... more

--Translated by Ewald Osers ~ Book

One Sad Duck

from Instructions on How to Cry
By Julio Cortazar

...In order to cry, steer the imagination toward yourself, and if this proves impossible owing to having contracted the habit of believing in the exterior world, think of a duck covered with ants or of those gulfs in the Straits of Magellan into which no one sails ever. ...more

--Translated by Paul Blackburn

One Good Sonnet

My Galley Chargèd with Forgetfulness
By Thomas Wyatt

My galley chargèd with forgetfulness
Through sharp seas in winter nights doth pass
'Tween rock and rock; and eke mine enemy, alas,
That is my lord, steereth with cruelness;
And every oar a thought in readiness
As though that death were light in such a case.
An endless wind doth tear the sail apace
Of forcèd sighs and trusty fearfulness.
A rain of tears, a cloud of dark disdain,
Hath done the wearied cords great hindrance,
Wreathèd with error and eke with ignorance.
The stars be hid that led me to this pain,
Drownèd is Reason that should me comfort,
And I remain despairing of the port.

Sunday, August 27, 2006


Laura Sheahen lives in Rome.

OGP is updated most Tuesdays.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

One Good Letter

Ezra Pound to Harriet Monroe
London, 22 October 1912

Dear Harriet Monroe:

…Can't you see that until someone is honest we get nothing clear. The good work is obscured, hidden in the bad. I go about this London hunting for the real. I find paper after paper, person after person, mildly affirming the opinion of someone who hasn't cared enough about the art to tell what they actually believe.

…It isn't as if I were set in a groove. I read any number of masters and I recognize any number of kinds of excellence. But I'm sick to loathing of people who don't care for master work. Who set out as artists with no intention of producing it. Who make no effort toward the best. Who are content with publicity and the praise of reviewers.

I think the worst betrayal you could make of American poetry is to pretend for a moment that you are content with a parochial standard.

…Good art can't possibly be palatable all at once. You can't possibly pat all the semi-defunct on the head & be sincere....When I say a thing is good I mean I can read it and enjoy it & do so without fear that it will harm my style (god knows I have none in prose), sap my energies or blunt my perception of to Kalon [the beautiful]. I can find little contemporary work (some in france) which does not seem to me the worst possible stuff for a young poet to fill his or her mind with.

Great god. If a man writes six GOOD lines he is immortal, isn't that worth trying for. Isn't it worth while having one critic left who won't say a thing is good until he is ready to stake his whole position on the decision.


Ten Good Poets

William Butler Yeats
Rainer Maria Rilke
Emily Dickinson
George Herbert
Yehuda Amichai
Robert Frost
Wislawa Szymborska
Gerard Manley Hopkins
Czeslaw Milosz

One Good Senryu

her husband's
becoming a little too kind
weighs on her mind

--Translated by Makoto Ueda

One Good Tear

"You from Heaven--
Why do you deny me him? For just one tear
You carry off his deathless part..."

--Buonconte da Montefeltro via Dante. Translated by Allen Mandelbaum

One Good Poem

Ode to the Nightingale
By John Keats

My heart aches, and a drowsy numbness pains
My sense, as though of hemlock I had drunk,
Or emptied some dull opiate to the drains
One minute past, and Lethe-wards had sunk:
’Tis not through envy of thy happy lot,
But being too happy in thine happiness,
That thou, light-winged dryad of the trees,
In some melodious plot
Of beechen green, and shadows numberless,
Singest of summer in full-throated ease.

O, for a draught of vintage! that hath been
Cool’d a long age in the deep-delved earth,
Tasting of Flora and the country green,
Dance, and Provencal song, and sunburnt mirth!
O for a beaker full of the warm South,
Full of the true, the blushful Hippocrene,
With beaded bubbles winking at the brim,
And purple-stained mouth;
That I might drink, and leave the world unseen,
And with thee fade away into the forest dim:

Fade far away, dissolve, and quite forget
What thou among the leaves hast never known,
The weariness, the fever, and the fret
Here, where men sit and hear each other groan;
Where palsy shakes a few, sad, last gray hairs,
Where youth grows pale, and spectre-thin, and dies;
Where but to think is to be full of sorrow
And leaden-eyed despairs,
Where Beauty cannot keep her lustrous eyes,
Or new Love pine at them beyond to-morrow.

Away! away! for I will fly to thee,
Not charioted by Bacchus and his pards,
But on the viewless wings of Poesy,
Though the dull brain perplexes and retards:
Already with thee! tender is the night,
And haply the Queen-Moon is on her throne,
Cluster’d around by all her starry fays;
But here there is no light,
Save what from heaven is with the breezes blown
Through verdurous glooms and winding mossy ways.

I cannot see what flowers are at my feet,
Nor what soft incense hangs upon the boughs,
But, in embalmed darkness, guess each sweet
Wherewith the seasonable month endows
The grass, the thicket, and the fruit-tree wild;
White hawthorn, and the pastoral eglantine;
Fast-fading violets cover’d up in leaves;
And mid-May’s eldest child,
The coming musk-rose, full of dewy wine,
The murmurous haunt of flies on summer eves.

Darkling I listen; and, for many a time,
I have been half in love with easeful Death,
Call'd him soft names in many a mused rhyme,
To take into the air my quiet breath;
Now more than ever seems it rich to die,
To cease upon the midnight with no pain,
While thou art pouring forth thy soul abroad
In such an ecstasy!
Still wouldst thou sing, and I have ears in vain—
To thy high requiem become a sod.

Thou wast not born for death, immortal Bird!
No hungry generations tread thee down;
The voice I hear this passing night was heard
In ancient days by emperor and clown:
Perhaps the self-same song that found a path
Through the sad heart of Ruth, when, sick for home,
She stood in tears amid the alien corn;
The same that oft-times hath
Charm’d magic casements, opening on the foam
Of perilous seas, in faery lands forlorn.

Forlorn! the very word is like a bell
To toll me back from thee to my sole self!
Adieu! the fancy cannot cheat so well
As she is famed to do, deceiving elf.
Adieu! adieu! thy plaintive anthem fades
Past the near meadows, over the still stream,
Up the hill-side; and now ’tis buried deep
In the next valley-glades:
Was it a vision, or a waking dream?
Fled is that music: —Do I wake or sleep?