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Archive for the ‘Poems of Other Poets’ Category

I went out to find a friend,
But could not find one there.
I went out to be a friend,
And friends were everywhere!

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If aught of oaten stop, or pastoral song,
May hope, chaste Eve, to soothe thy modest ear,
Like thy own solemn springs,
Thy springs, and dying gales,

O nymph reserv’d, while now the bright-hair’d sun
Sits in yon western tent, whose cloudy skirts,
With brede ethereal wove,
O’er hang his wavy bed:

Now air is hush’d, save where the weak-ey’d bat,
With short shrill shriek flits by on leathern wing,
Or where the beetle winds
His small but sullen horn,

As oft he rises ‘midst the twilight path,
Against the Pilgrim borne in heedless hum:
Now teach me, maid compos’d,
To breathe some soften’d strain,

Whose numbers, stealing thro’ my darkning vale
May not unseemly with its stillness suit,
As, musing slow, I hail
Thy genial lov’d return!

For when thy folding-star arising shews
His play circlet, at his warning lamp
The fragrant Hours, and elves
Who slept in flowers the day,

And many a nymph who wreathes her brows with sedge,
And sheds the fresh’ning dew, and lovelier still,
The pensive Pleasures sweet
Prepare thy shadowy car.

Then lead, calm vot’ress, where some sheety lake
Cheers the lone heath, or some time-hallow’d pile,
Or upland fallows grey
Reflect its last cool gleam.

But when chill blust’ring winds, or driving rain,
Forbid my willing feet, be mine the hut
That from the mountain’s side,
Views wilds, and swelling floods,

And hamlets brown, and dim-discover’d spires,
And hears their simple bell, and marks o’er all
Thy dewy fingers draw
The gradual dusky veil.

While Spring shall pour his show’rs, as oft he wont,
And bathe thy breathing tresses, meekest Eve!
While Summer loves to sport,
Beneath thy ling’ring light;

While sallow Autumn fills thy lap with leaves,
Or Winter yelling thro’ the troublous air,
Affrights thy shrinking train,
And rudely rends thy robes;

So long, sure-found beneath the sylvan shed,
Shall Fancy, Friendship, Science, rose-lip’d Health
Thy gentlest influence own,
And hymn thy fav’rite name!

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You Highlands and you Lowlands.
Oh! where have you been?
They have slain the Earl of Murray,
And have laid him on the green.

Now woe be to thee, Huntly,
And wherefore did you sae?
I bade you bring him with you,
But forbad you him to slay.

He was a brave gallant,
And he rid at the ring;
And the bonnie Earl of Murray,
Oh! he might have been a king.

He was a brave gallant,
And he play’d at the ba’;
And the bonnie Earl of Murray
Was the flower among them a’.

He was a brave gallant,
And he play’d at the glove;
And the bonnie Earl of Murray,
Oh! he was the Queen’s love.

Oh! long will his lady
Look over the castle Down,
Ere she see the Earl of Murray
Come sounding through the town.

——————————-

(I have changed some words, such as “hae” to “have”, etc.)

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In the Orchard-Days, when you
Children look like blossoms, too,
Bessie, with her jaunty ways
And trim poise of head and face,
Must have looked superior
Even to the blossoms, – for
Little Winnie once averred
Bessie looked just like the bird
Tilted on the topmost spray
Of the apple boughs in May.
With the redbreast, and the strong
Clear, sweet warble of his song  –
“I don’t know their name,” Win said –
“I ist maked a name instead.” –
So forever afterwards
We called robins “Bessie-birds.”

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Why should I keep holiday
When other men have none?
Why but because, when these are gay,
I sit and mourn alone?

And why, when mirth unseals all tongues,
Should mine alone be dumb?
Ah! late I spoke to silent throngs,
And now their hour has come.

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And did those feet in ancient time
Walk upon England’s mountains green?
And was the holy Lamb of God
On England’s pleasant pastures seen?

And did the countenance divine
Shine forth upon our clouded hills?
And was Jerusalem builded here
Among these dark Satanic mills?

Bring me my  bow of burning gold!
Bring me my arrows of desire!
Bring me my spear! O clouds, unfold!
Bring me my chariot of fire!

I will not cease from mental fight,
Nor shall my sword sleep in my hand,
Till we have built Jerusalem
In England’s green and pleasant land.

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There is another sky,
Ever serene and fair,
And there is another sunshine,
Though it be darkness there;
Never mind faded forests, Austin,
Never mind silent fields –
Here is a little forest,
Whose leaf is ever green;
Here is a brighter garden,
Where not a frost has been;
In its unfading flowers
I hear the bright bee hum;
Prithee, my brother,
Into my garden come!

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“The wind doth blow today, my love,
And a few small drops of rain;
I never had but one true-love,
In cold grave she was lain.

I’ll do as much for my true-love
As any young man may;
I’ll sit and mourn all at her grave
For a twelvemonth and a day.”

The twelvemonth and a day being up,
The dead began to speak:
“Oh who sits weeping on my grave,
And will not let me sleep?”

“‘Tis, I, my love, sits on your grave,
And I will not let you sleep;
For I crave one kiss of your clay-cold lips,
And that is all I seek.”

“You crave one kiss of my clay-cold lips;
But my breath smells earthy strong;
If you have one kiss of my clay-cold lips,
Your time will not be long.

‘Tis down in yonder garden green,
Love, where we used to walk,
The finest flower that ere was seen
Is withered to a stalk.

The stalk is withered dry, my love,
So will our hearts decay;
So make yourself content, my love,
Till God calls you away.”

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Out through the fields and the woods
And over the walls I have wended;
I have climbed the hills of view
And looked at the world, and descended;
I have come by the highway home,
And lo, it is ended.

The leaves are all dead on the ground,
Save those that the oak is keeping
To ravel them one by one
And let them go scraping and creeping
Out over the crusted snow,
When others are sleeping.

And the dead leaves lie huddled and still,
No longer blown hither and thither;
The last lone aster is gone;
The flowers of the witch hazel wither;
The heart is still aching to seek,
But the feet question “Whither?”

Ah, when to the heart of man
Was it ever less than a treason
To go with the drift of things,
To yield with a grace to reason,
And bow and accept the end
Of a love or a season?

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“Curse thee, Life, I will live with thee no more!
Thou hast mocked me, starved me, beat my body sore!
And all for a pledge that was not pledged by me,
I have kissed thy crust and eaten sparingly
That I might eat again, and met thy sneers
With deprecations, and thy blows with tears, –
Aye, from thy glutted lash, glad, crawled away,
As if spent passion were a holiday!
And now I go.  Nor threat, nor easy vow
Of tardy kindness can avail thee now
With me, whence fear and faith alike are flown;
Lonely I came, and I depart alone.
And know not where nor unto whom I go;
But that thou canst not follow me I know.”

Thus I to Life, and ceased; but through my brain
My thought ran still, until I spake again:

“Ah, but I go not as I came, no trace
Is mine to bear away of that old grace
I brought! I have been heated in thy fires,
Bent by thy hands, fashioned to thy desires,
Thy mark is on me! I am not the same
Nor ever more shall be, as when I came.
Ashes am I of all that once I seemed.
In me all’s sunk that leapt, and all that dreamed
Is wakeful for alarm, – oh, shame to thee,
For the ill change that thou has wrought in me
Who laugh no more not lift my throat to sing!
Ah, Life, I would have been a pleasant thing
To have about the house where I was grown
If thou hadst left my little joys alone!
I asked of thee no favour save this one:
That thou wouldst leave me playing in the sun!
And this thou didst deny, calling my name
Insistently, until I rose and came.
I saw the sun no more. – It were not well
So long on these unpleasant thoughts to dwell,
Need I arise tomorrow and renew
Again my hated tasks, but I am through
With all things save my thoughts and this one night;
So that in truth I seem already quite
Free and remote from thee, – I feel no haste
And no reluctance to depart; I taste
Merely, with thoughtful mien, an unknown draught,
That in a little while I shall have quaffed.”

Thus I to Life, and ceased, and slightly smiled,
Looking at nothing; and my thin dreams filed
Before me one by one till once again
I set new words unto an old refrain:

“Treasures thou hast that never have been mine!
Warm lights in many a secret chamber shine
Of thy gaunt house, and gusts of song have blown
Like blossoms out to me that sat alone!
And I have waited well for thee to show
If any share were mine, – and now I go!
Nothing I leave, and if naught attain
I shall but come into mine own again!”

Thus I to Life, and ceased, and spake no more,
But turning, straightway sought a certain door
In the rear wall.  Heavy it was, and low
And dark, – a way by which none e’er would go
That other exit had, and never knock
Was heard thereat, – bearing a curious lock,
Some chance had shown me fashioned faultily,
Whereof Life held content the useless key:
And great coarse hinges, thick and rough with rust,
Whose sudden voice across a silence must,
I knew, by harsh and horrible to hear, –
A strange door, ugly like a dwarf. – So near
I came I felt upon my feet the chill
Of acid wind creeping across the sill.
So stood longtime, till over me at last
Came weariness, and all things other passed
To make it room; the still night drifted deep
Like snow about me, and I longed for sleep.

But, suddenly, marking the morning hour,
Bayed the deep-throated bell within the tower!
Startled, I raised my head, – and with a shout
Laid hold upon the latch, – and was without.

Ah, long-forgotten, well-remembered road,
Leading me back unto my old abode,
My Father’s house! There in the night I came,
And found them feasting, and all things the same
As they had been before.  A splendour hung
Upon the walls, and such sweet songs were sung
As, echoing out of very long ago,
Had called me from the house of Life, I know.
So fair their raiment shone I looked in shame
On the unlovely garb in which I came;
Then straightway at my hesitancy mocked:
“It is my Father’s house!” I said and knocked;
And the door opened.  To the shining crowd
Tattered and dark I entered, like a cloud,
Seeing no face but His; to Him I crept,
And “father!” I cried, and clasped His knees, and wept.

Ah, days of joy that followed! All alone
I wandered through the house.  My own, my own,
My own to touch, my own to taste and smell,
All I had lacked so long and loved so well!
None shook me out of sleep, nor hushed my song,
Nor called me in from the sunlight all day long.

I know not when the wonder came to me
Of what my Father’s business might be,
And wither fared and on what errands bent
The tall and gracious messengers He sent.
Yet one day with no song from dawn till night
Wondering, I sat, and watched them out of sight.
And the next day I called; and on the third
Asked them if I might go, – but no one heard.
Then, sick with longing, I arose at last
And went unto my Father, – in that vast
Chamber wherein He for so many years
Has sat, surrounded by His charts and spheres.
“Father,” I said, “Father, I cannot play
The harp that Thou didst give me, and all day
I sit in idleness, while to and fro
About me Thy serene, grave servants go;
And I am weary of my lonely ease.
Better a perilous journey overseas
Away from Thee, than this, the life I lead,
To sit in the sunshine like a weed
That grows to naught, – I love Thee more than they
Who serve Thee most; yet serve Thee in now way.
Father, I beg of Thee a little task
To dignify my days, – ’tis all I ask
Forever, but forever, this denied,
I perish.”
……………“Child,” my Father’s voice replied,
“All things thy fancy hath desired of me
Thou hast received.  I have prepared for thee
Within my house a spacious chamber, where
Are delicate things to handle and to wear,
And all these things are thine.  Dost thou love song?
My minstrels shall attend thee all day long.
Or sigh for flowers? My fairest gardens stand
Open as fields to thee on every hand.
And all thy days this word shall hold the same:
No pleasure shalt thou lack that thou shalt name.
But as for tasks -” He smiled, and shook His head;
“Thou hadst thy task, and laidst it by,” He said.

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