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Archive for the ‘I-L’ Category

The night is full of stars, full of magnificence:
Nightingales hold the wood, and fragrance loads the dark.
Behold, what fires august, what lights eternal! Hark,
What passionate music poured in passionate love’s defence!
Breathe but the wafting wind’s nocturnal frankincense!
Only to feel this night’s great heart, only to mark
The splendours and the glooms, brings back the patriarch,
Who on Chaldean wastes found God through reverence.

Could we but live at will upon this perfect height,
Could we but always keep the passion of this peace,
Could we but face unshamed the look of this pure light,
Could we but win earth’s heart, and give desire release:
Then were we all divine, and then were ours by right
These stars, these nightingales, these scents: then shame would cease.

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Borgia, thou once wert almost too august
And high for adoration; now thou’rt dust;
All that remains of thee these plaits unfold,
Calm hair, meandering in pellucid gold.

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A stranger came one night to Yussouf’s tent,
Saying, “Behold one outcast and in dread,
Against whose life the bow of power is bent,
Who flies, and hath not where to lay his head;
I come to thee for shelter and for food,
To Yussouf, called through all our tribes “The Good.'”

“This tent is mine,” said Yussouf, “but no more
Than it is God’s ; come in, and be at peace;
Freely shalt thou partake of all my store
As I of His who buildeth over these
Our tents his glorious roof of night and day,
And at whose door none ever yet heard Nay.”

So Yussouf entertained his guest that night,
And, waking him ere day, said: “Here is gold;
My swiftest horse is saddled for thy flight;
Depart before the prying day grow bold.”
As one lamp lights another, nor grows less,
So nobleness enkindleth nobleness.

That inward light the stranger’s face made grand,
Which shines from all self-conquest; kneeling low,
He bowed his forehead upon Yussouf’s hand,
Sobbing: “O Sheik, I cannot leave thee so;
I will repay thee; all this thou hast done
Unto that Ibrahim who slew thy son!”

“Take thrice the gold,” said Yussouf, “for with thee
Into the desert, never to return,
My one black thought shall ride away from me;
First-born, for whom by day and night I yearn,
Balanced and just are all of God’s decrees;
Thee art avenged my first-born, sleep in peace!”

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No, no, go not to Lethe, neither twist
Wolf’s-bane, tight-rooted, for its poisonous wine;
Nor suffer thy pale forehead to be kissed
By nightshade, ruby grape of Proserpine;
Make not your rosary of yew-berries,
Nor let the beetle, nor the death-moth be
Your mournful Psyche, nor the downy owl
A partner in your sorrow’s mysteries;
For shade to shade will come too drowsily,
And drown the wakeful anguish of the soul.

But when the melancholy fit shall fall
Sudden from heaven like a sweeping cloud,
That fosters the droop-headed flowers all,
And hides the green hill in an April shroud;
Then glut thy sorrow on a morning rose,
Or on the rainbow of the salt sand-wave,
Or on the wealth of globed peonies;
Of if thy mistress some rich anger shows,
Emprison her soft hand, and let her rave,
And feed deep, deep upon her peerless eyes.

She dwells with Beauty – Beauty that must die;
And Joy, whose hand is ever at is lips
Bidding adieu; and aching Pleasure sigh,
Turning to poison while the bee-mouth sips;
Ay, in the very temple of Delight
Veiled Melancholy has her sovran shrine,
Though seen of none save him whose strenuous tongue
Can burst Joy’s grape against his palate fine;
His soul shall taste the sadness of her might,
And be among her cloudy trophies hung.

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Why did I laugh tonight?  No voice will tell:
No god, nor demon of severe response,
Deigns to reply from heaven or from hell.
Then to my human heart I turn at once –
Heart! thou and I are here sad and alone;
Say, wherefore did I laugh? O mortal pain!
O darkness! darkness! ever must I moan,
To question heaven and hell and heart in vain!
Why did I laugh? I know this being’s lease –
My fancy to its utmost blisses spreads:
Yet could I on this very midnight cease,
And the world’s gaudy ensigns see in shreds.
Verse, fame, and beauty are intense indeed,
But death intenser – death is life’s high meed.

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Bright Star, would I were steadfast as thou art –
Not in lone splendour hung aloft the night,
And watching, with eternal lids apart,
Like Nature’s patient sleepless Eremite,
The moving waters at their priest-like task
Of pure ablution round earth’s human shores,
Or gazing on the new soft-fallen mask
Of snow upon the mountains and the moors –
No – yet still steadfast, still unchangeable,
Pillow’d upon my fair love’s ripening breast,
To feel for ever its soft fall and swell,
Awake for ever in a sweet unrest,
Still, still to hear her tender-taken breath,
And so live ever – or else swoon to death.

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If you should go before me, dear, walk slowly
Down the ways of death, well-worn and wide,
For I would want to overtake you quickly
And seek the journey’s ending by your side.

I would be so forlorn not to descry you
Down some shining highroad when I came;
Walk slowly, dear, and often look behind you
And pause to hear if someone calls your name.

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Ah, what avails the sceptred race,
Ah, what the form divine!
What every virtue, every grace!
Rose Aylmer, all were thine.
Rose Aylmer, whom these wakeful eyes
May weep, but never see,
A night of memories and of sighs
I consecrate to thee.

——————————–

This quote is in An Anthology of Famous English and American Poetry
about the poem: “It was inspired by news of the death in India of Rose,
the daughter of Henry, Baron Aylmer, who had been Landor’s devoted
friend during the poet’s early years in Wales.”

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Hast thou from the caves of Golconda, a gem
Pure as the ice-drop that froze on the mountain?
Bright as the humming-bird’s green diadem,
When it flutters in sun-beams that shine through a fountain?

Hast thou a goblet for dark sparkling wine?
…That goblet right heavy, and massy, and gold?
And splendidly mark’d with the story divine
Of Armida the fair, and Rinaldo the bold?

Hat thou a steed with a mane richly flowing?
Hast thou a sword that thine enemy’s smart is?
Hast thou a trumpet rich melodies blowing?
And wear’st thou the shield of the fam’d Britonmartis?

What is that hangs from thy shoulder, so brave,
Embroidered with many a spring peering flower?
Is it a scarf that thy fair lady gave?
And hastest thou now to that fair lady’s bower?

Ah! courteous Sir Knight, with large joy thou art crown’d;
Full many the glories that brighten thy youth!
I will tell the my blisses, which richly abound
In magical powers to bless, and to sooth.

On this scroll thou seest written in characters fair
A sun-beamy tale of a wreath, and a chain;
And, warrior, it nurtures the property rare
Of charming my mind from the trammels of pain.

This canopy mark: ’tis the work of a fay;
Beneath its rich shade did King Oberon languish,
When lovely Titania was far, far away,
And cruelly left him to sorrow, and anguish.

There, oft would he bring from his soft sighing lute
Wild strains to which, spell-bound, the nightingales listened;
The wondering spirits of heaven were mute,
And tears ‘mong the dewdrops of morning oft glistened.

In this little dome, all those melodies strange,
Soft, plaintive, and melting, for ever will sigh;
No e’er will the notes from their tenderness change;
Nor e’er will the music of Oberon die.

So, when I am in a voluptuous vein,
I pillow my head on the sweets of the rose,
And list to the tale of the wreath, and the chain,
Till its echoes depart; then I sink to repose.

Adieu, valiant Eric! with joy thou art crown’d;
Full many the glories that brighten thy youth,
I too have my blisses, which richly abound
In magical powers, to bless and to sooth.

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What through while the wonders of nature exploring,
I cannot your light, many footsteps attend;
Nor listen to accents, that almost adoring,
Bless Cynthia’s face, the enthusiast’s friend:

Yet over the steep, whence the mountain stream rushes,
With you, kindest friends, in idea I muse;
Mark the clear tumbling crystal, its passionate gushes,
In spray that the wild flower kindly bedews.

Why linger you so, the wild labyrinth strolling?
Why breathless, unable your bliss to declare?
Ah! you list to the nightingale’s tender condoling,
Responsive to sylphs, in the moon-beamy air.

‘Tis morn, and the flowers with dew are yet drooping.
I see you are treading the verge of the sea:
And now! ah, I see it – you just now are stooping
To pick up the keep-sake intended for me.

If a cherub, on pinions of silver descending,
Had brought me a gem from the fret-work of heaven;
And smiles, with his star-cheering voice sweetly blending,
The blessings of Tighe had melodiously given;

It had not created a warmer emotion
Than the present, fair nymphs, I was blest with from you,
Than the shell from the bright golden sands of the ocean
Which the emerald waves at your feet gladly threw.

For, indeed, ’tis a sweet and peculiar pleasure,
(And blissful is he who such happiness finds,)
To possess but a span of the hour of leisure,
….In elegant, pure, and aerial minds.

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