|13 of my favourite short poems.
My True Love Hath My Heart, And I Have His by Sir Philip Sidney
My true-love hath my heart, and I have his,
By just exchange, one for the other giv’n.
I hold his dear, and mine he cannot miss;
There never was a better bargain driv’n.
His heart in me keeps me and him in one,
My heart in him his thoughts and senses guides;
He loves my heart, for once it was his own;
I cherish his, because in me it bides.
His heart his wound received from my sight:
My heart was wounded with his wounded heart;
For as from me, on him his hurt did light,
So still me thought in me his hurt did smart:
Both equal hurt, in this change sought our bliss:
My true love hath my heart and I have his.
XXXIV (You are the daughter of the sea) by Pablo Neruda
You are the daughter of the sea, oregano’s first cousin.
Swimmer, your body is pure as the water;
cook, your blood is quick as the soil.
Everything you do is full of flowers, rich with the earth.Your eyes go out toward the water, and the waves rise;
your hands go out to the earth and the seeds swell;
you know the deep essence of water and the earth,
conjoined in you like a formula for clay.Naiad: cut your body into turquoise pieces,
they will bloom resurrected in the kitchen.
This is how you become everything that lives.And so at last, you sleep, in the circle of my arms
that push back the shadows so that you can rest–
vegetables, seaweed, herbs: the foam of your dreams.
Woman’s Constancy by John Donne
Now thou hast loved me one whole day,
Tomorrow when thou leav’st, what wilt thou say?
Wilt thou then antedate some new made vow?
Or say that now
We are not just those persons, which we were?
Or, that oaths made in reverential fear
Of Love, and his wrath, any may forswear?
Or, as true deaths, true marriages untie,
So lovers’ contracts, images of those,
Bind but till sleep, death’s image, them unloose?
Or, your own end to justify,
For having purposed change, and falsehood, you
Can have no way but falsehood to be true?
Vain lunatic, against these ‘scapes I could
Dispute, and conquer, if I would,
Which I abstain to do,
For by tomorrow, I may think so too.
Several Questions Answered by William Blake
What is it men in women do require?
The lineaments of Gratified Desire.
What is it women do in men require?
The lineaments of Gratified Desire.The look of love alarms
Because ’tis fill’d with fire;
But the look of soft deceit
Shall Win the lover’s hire.Soft Deceit & Idleness,
These are Beauty’s sweetest dress.He who binds to himself a joy
Doth the winged life destroy;
But he who kisses the joy as it flies
Lives in Eternity’s sunrise.
My Last Duchess by Robert Browning
That’s my last duchess painted on the wall,
Looking as if she were alive. I call
That piece a wonder, now: Frà Pandolf’s hands
Worked busily a day, and there she stands.
Will’t please you sit and look at her? I said
“Frà Pandolf” by design, for never read
Strangers like you that pictured countenance,
The depth and passion of its earnest glance,
But to myself they turned (since none puts by
The curtain I have drawn for you, but I)
And seemed as they would ask me, if they durst,
How such a glance came there; so, not the first
Are you to turn and ask thus. Sir, ’twas not
Her husband’s presence only, called that spot
Of joy into the Duchess’ cheek: perhaps
Frà Pandolf chanced to say “Her mantle laps
“Over my lady’s wrist too much,” or “Paint
“Must never hope to reproduce the faint
“Half-flush that dies along her throat”: such stuff
Was courtesy, she thought, and cause enough
For calling up that spot of joy. She had
A heart–how shall I say?–too soon made glad,
Too easily impressed; she liked whate’er
She looked on, and her looks went everywhere.
Sir, ’twas all one! My favor at her breast,
The dropping of the daylight in the West,
The bough of cherries some officious fool
Broke in the orchard for her, the white mule
She rode with round the terrace–all and each
Would draw from her alike the approving speech,
Or blush, at least. She thanked men–good! but thanked
Somehow–I know not how–as if she ranked
My gift of a nine-hundred-years-old name
With anybody’s gift. Who’d stoop to blame
This sort of trifling? Even had you skill
In speech–which I have not–to make your will
Quite clear to such an one, and say, “Just this
“Or that in you disgusts me; here you miss,
“Or there exceed the mark”–and if she let
Herself be lessoned so, nor plainly set
Her wits to yours, forsooth, and make excuse,
–E’en then would be some stooping; and I choose
Never to stoop. Oh sir, she smiled, no doubt,
Whene’er I passed her; but who passed without
Much the same smile? This grew; I gave commands;
Then all smiles stopped together. There she stands
As if alive. Will’t please you rise? We’ll meet
The company below, then. I repeat,
The Count your master’s known munificence
Is ample warrant that no just pretense
Of mine for dowry will be disallowed;
Though his fair daughter’s self, as I avowed
At starting, is my object. Nay we’ll go
Together down, sir. Notice Neptune, though,
Taming a sea-horse, thought a rarity,
Which Claus of Innsbruck cast in bronze for me!
Saturday’s Child by Countee Cullen
Some are teethed on a silver spoon,
With the stars strung for a rattle;
I cut my teeth as the black racoon–
For implements of battle.
Some are swaddled in silk and down,
And heralded by a star;
They swathed my limbs in a sackcloth gown
On a night that was black as tar.
For some, godfather and goddame
The opulent fairies be;
Dame Poverty gave me my name,
And Pain godfathered me.
For I was born on Saturday–
“Bad time for planting a seed,”
Was all my father had to say,
And, “One mouth more to feed.”
Death cut the strings that gave me life,
And handed me to Sorrow,
The only kind of middle wife
My folks could beg or borrow.
Pied Beauty by Gerard Manley Hopkins
Glory be to God for dappled things—
For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow;
For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;
Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches’ wings;
Landscape plotted and pieced—fold, fallow, and plough;
And áll trádes, their gear and tackle and trim.All things counter, original, spare, strange;
Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)
With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim;
He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change:
Novel by Arthur Rimbaud
I.No one’s serious at seventeen.
–On beautiful nights when beer and lemonade
And loud, blinding cafés are the last thing you need
–You stroll beneath green lindens on the promenade.Lindens smell fine on fine June nights!
Sometimes the air is so sweet that you close your eyes;
The wind brings sounds–the town is near–
And carries scents of vineyards and beer. . .II.–Over there, framed by a branch
You can see a little patch of dark blue
Stung by a sinister star that fades
With faint quiverings, so small and white. . .June nights! Seventeen!–Drink it in.
Sap is champagne, it goes to your head. . .
The mind wanders, you feel a kiss
On your lips, quivering like a living thing. . .III.
The wild heart Crusoes through a thousand novels
–And when a young girl walks alluringly
Through a streetlamp’s pale light, beneath the ominous shadow
Of her father’s starched collar. . .
Because as she passes by, boot heels tapping,
She turns on a dime, eyes wide,
Finding you too sweet to resist. . .
–And cavatinas die on your lips.
You’re in love. Off the market till August.
You’re in love.–Your sonnets make Her laugh.
Your friends are gone, you’re bad news.
–Then, one night, your beloved, writes. . .!
That night. . .you return to the blinding cafés;
You order beer or lemonade. . .
–No one’s serious at seventeen
When lindens line the promenade.
O Make Me A Mask by Dylan Thomas
O make me a mask and a wall to shut from your spies
Of the sharp, enamelled eyes and the spectacled claws
Rape and rebellion in the nurseries of my face,
Gag of dumbstruck tree to block from bare enemies
The bayonet tongue in this undefended prayerpiece,
The present mouth, and the sweetly blown trumpet of lies,
Shaped in old armour and oak the countenance of a dunce
To shield the glistening brain and blunt the examiners,
And a tear-stained widower grief drooped from the lashes
To veil belladonna and let the dry eyes perceive
Others betray the lamenting lies of their losses
By the curve of the nude mouth or the laugh up the sleeve.
Confused and distraught by Rumi
Again I am raging, I am in such a state by your soul that every
bond you bind, I break, by your soul.
I am like heaven, like the moon, like a candle by your glow; I am all
reason, all love, all soul, by your soul.
My joy is of your doing, my hangover of your thorn; whatever
side you turn your face, I turn mine, by your soul.
I spoke in error; it is not surprising to speak in error in this
state, for this moment I cannot tell cup from wine, by your soul.
I am that madman in bonds who binds the “divs”; I, the madman,
am a Solomon with the “divs”, by your soul.
Whatever form other than love raises up its head from my
heart, forthwith I drive it out of the court of my heart, by your soul.
Come, you who have departed, for the thing that departs
comes back; neither you are that, by my soul, nor I am that, by your soul.
Disbeliever, do not conceal disbelief in your soul, for I will recite
the secret of your destiny, by your soul.
Out of love of Sham-e Tabrizi, through wakefulness or
nightrising, like a spinning mote I am distraught, by your soul.
On Looking Into The Eyes Of A Demon Lover by Sylvia Plath
Here are two pupils
whose moons of black
transform to cripples
all who look:each lovely lady
who peers inside
take on the body
of a toad.Within these mirrors
the world inverts:
the fond admirer’s
burning dartsturn back to injure
the thrusting hand
and inflame to danger
the scarlet wound.I sought my image
in the scorching glass,
for what fire could damage
a witch’s face?So I stared in that furnace
where beauties char
but found radiant Venus
The Lover in Winter Plaineth for the Spring by Anonymous
|O WESTERN wind, when wilt thou blow
| That the small rain down can rain?
|Christ, that my love were in my arms
| And I in my bed again!
The Red Wheelbarrow by William Carlos Williams
so much depends
upona red wheel
barrowglazed with rain
waterbeside the white