“‘She can’t be unhappy,’ you said,
‘The smiles are like stars in her eyes,
And her laugh is thistledown
Around her low replies.’
‘Is she unhappy?’ you said—
But who has ever known
Another’s heartbreak—
All he can know is his own;
And she seems hushed to me,
As hushed as though
Her heart were a hunter’s fire
Smothered in snow.”
— Sara Teasdale, “Snowfall,” from Flame and Shadow.

William Blake, plate 100 of Jerusalem, the Emanation of the Giant Albion.

Let it be forgotten, as a flower is forgotten,
Forgotten as a fire that once was singing gold,
Let it be forgotten for ever and ever,
Time is a kind friend, he will make us old.

If anyone asks, say it was forgotten
Long and long ago,
As a flower, as a fire, as a hushed footfall
In a long forgotten snow.

— Sara Teasdale, “Let It Be Forgotten,” from Flame and Shadow.

There will come soft rains and the smell of the ground,
And swallows circling with their shimmering sound;

And frogs in the pools, singing at night,
And wild plum trees in tremulous white,

Robins will wear their feathery fire,
Whistling their whims on a low fence-wire;

And not one will know of the war, not one
Will care at last when it is done.

Not one would mind, neither bird nor tree,
If mankind perished utterly;

And Spring herself, when she woke at dawn,
Would scarcely know that we were gone.

— Sara Teasdale, “There Will Come Soft Rains,” from Flame and Shadow.
“…Who, if he rise to station of command,
Rises by open means; and there will stand
On honourable terms, or else retire,
And in himself possess his own desire;
Who comprehends his trust, and to the same
Keeps faithful with a singleness of aim;
And therefore does not stoop, nor lie in wait
For wealth, or honours, or for worldly state…”
— William Wordsworth, “Character of the Happy Warrior.”
“Green, how I want you green.
Green wind. Green branches.
The ship out on the sea
and the horse on the mountain.”
Federico García Lorca, ”Romance Sonámbulo,” from Romancero Gitano, 1989 Logan translation.
“One, two and many: flesh had made him blind,
Flesh had one pleasure only in the act,
Flesh set one purpose only in the mind—
Triumph of flesh and afterwards to find
Still those same terrors wherewith flesh was racked.”
— Robert Graves, “Ulysses.”
“Music of Japan. Drops of slow honey
Or of invisible gold are dispersed
In a miserly way from a water clock,
And repeat in time a weaving that is
Eternal, fragile, mysterious, and clear.
I fear that each one may be the last.
It’s a past coming back. From what temple,
From what fresh garden in the mountain,
From what vigil before an unknown sea,
From what shyness of melancholy,
From what lost and ransomed afternoon
Does its remote future come to me?
I cannot know. No matter. I am
In that music. I want to be. I bleed.”
— Jorge Luis Borges, “The Music Box,” from The Sonnets.

Oh look, somebody decided to read his poem aloud for the Internet, because God knows they’re clamoring for that. What follows is “Last thoughts before the revolution,” one of the very few poems I’ve written as an adult. Here is the text.

My father the king was god, my father
the king is dead; he and his chariot
lost on twilit shores of unhappy isles.
When I was young, I walked the wind-graven
standing stones that point out the swordbelt of
Orion, the dusky unwinking eye
of Mars; into the lith, a dagger carved,
the sign of dead druids, long laid in the
barrow. What shall mark my grave? Not a word.
They will pry the garnets from my dagger,
they will melt the silver from my cloak-clasp,
they will make mock of my body. Even
the bull—I remember his hot blood in
the red dust of the sacrificial pit!—
his bones and fat were burnt on the temple
pyre, with proper rites, among mourning girls.
They may make a goblet of my skull. They
may make a flute of my thigh’s bone. How can
they? I ran on these legs with the children
of thanes, with these fingers I cracked the white
pulp of pomegranates, painted, poured wine.
My eye, the astrologers said, full of
the blue wisdom of the sea. No statue
for this face, but an axe. No red-gold torc
for this neck, but a gibbet. Where is it
written, that fifteen springs can be enough?
In my sixth I climbed the garden cedar
fetching a clutch of speckled songbirds’ eggs;
I stumbled, I cried out, I fell headlong:
the undreaming stuff of them spilled on the
flagstones. I am that wan yolk now—this arm
could have raised a scepter, while that arm spread
its feathers, and I’d become that new thing
that lays a shadow across the sunrise.
My eye shall be full of the red wisdom
of ruin. But no one has seen a bird
that never flew or will; my god is dead.

I think if I recorded this again I’d try to slip more into my natural vocal pattern, which is a little lower and quicker, but being a novice and using the shoddy equipment I can afford, I don’t think it’s half bad. Comments, criticism?

I sometimes hold it half a sin
To put in words the grief I feel;
For words, like Nature, half reveal
And half conceal the Soul within.

But, for the unquiet heart and brain,
A use in measured language lies;
The sad mechanic exercise,
Like dull narcotics, numbing pain.

In words, like weeds, I’ll wrap me o’er,
Like coarsest clothes against the cold:
But that large grief which these enfold
Is given in outline and no more.

— Alfred, Lord Tennyson, fifth canto of In Memoriam A.H.H.