Archive for February 13th, 2008

Thursday Thirteen #12

13 of my favourite short poems.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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!
  6. 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.
  7. 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:
    Praise him.
  8. 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.

  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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
    reflected there.

  12. 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!

  13. The Red Wheelbarrow by William Carlos Williams
    so much depends
    upona red wheel
    barrowglazed with rain
    waterbeside the white

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