My favorite poem

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Saoirse

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3,817
Too many beloved poems to pick one favorite.....
just a poem I read and think about sometimes.


When Great Trees Fall

When great trees fall,
rocks on distant hills shudder,
lions hunker down
in tall grasses,
and even elephants
lumber after safety.

When great trees fall
in forests,
small things recoil into silence,
their senses
eroded beyond fear.

When great souls die,
the air around us becomes
light, rare, sterile.
We breathe, briefly.
Our eyes, briefly,
see with
a hurtful clarity.
Our memory, suddenly sharpened,
examines,
gnaws on kind words
unsaid,
promised walks
never taken.

Great souls die and
our reality, bound to
them, takes leave of us.
Our souls,
dependent upon their
nurture,
now shrink, wizened.
Our minds, formed
and informed by their
radiance,
fall away.
We are not so much maddened
as reduced to the unutterable ignorance
of dark, cold
caves.

And when great souls die,
after a period peace blooms,
slowly and always
irregularly. Spaces fill
with a kind of
soothing electric vibration.
Our senses, restored, never
to be the same, whisper to us.
They existed. They existed.
We can be. Be and be
better. For they existed.”

― Maya Angelou
 

Saoirse

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My grandson loves this.

JABBERWOCKY
by Lewis Carroll
(from Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There, 1872)

`Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.


"Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
The frumious Bandersnatch!"

He took his vorpal sword in hand:
Long time the manxome foe he sought --
So rested he by the Tumtum tree,
And stood awhile in thought.

And, as in uffish thought he stood,
The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,
Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,
And burbled as it came!

One, two! One, two! And through and through
The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!
He left it dead, and with its head
He went galumphing back.

"And, has thou slain the Jabberwock?
Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!'
He chortled in his joy.


`Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.
 

Saoirse

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SARA TEASDALE


"I Thought of You"

I thought of you and how you love this beauty,
And walking up the long beach all alone
I heard the waves breaking in measured thunder
As you and I once heard their monotone.

Around me were the echoing dunes, beyond me
The cold and sparkling silver of the sea --
We two will pass through death and ages lengthen
Before you hear that sound again with me.



"The Dreams of My Heart"

The dreams of my heart and my mind pass,
Nothing stays with me long,
But I have had from a child
The deep solace of song;

If that should ever leave me,
Let me find death and stay
With things whose tunes are played out and forgotten
Like the rain of yesterday.


 
Last edited:

dame

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601
This was quoted in a book I'm reading, and gave me chills ---

Witness

I want to tell what the forests
were like

I will have to speak
in a forgotten language

—W.S. Merwin
 

ping

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241
William Butler Yeats

When You Are Old

When you are old and gray and full of sleep
And nodding by the fire, take down this book,
And slowly read, and dream of the soft look
Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep;


How many loved your moments of glad grace,
And loved your beauty with love false or true,
But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you,
And loved the sorrows of your changing face;


And bending down beside the glowing bars,
Murmur, a little sadly, how love fled
And paced upon the mountains overhead
And hid his face amid a crowd of stars.
 

mongoose

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Not my absolute favorite, but a really good one. It came into my head yesterday during a bike ride when I got a big whiff of jasmine from someone's yard. Had my mother (or God forbid my stepfather) known we were reading things like this and spending hours debating their meaning in AP English in high school, she surely would have pulled me out of school altogether (assuming she was able to understand the imagery). Thankfully, by that time they had no interest in whether we went to school or not, and had no idea what an AP class was or why I would be in it.

Henry Reed - Naming of Parts

Today we have naming of parts. Yesterday,
We had daily cleaning. And tomorrow morning,
We shall have what to do after firing. But today,
Today we have naming of parts. Japonica
Glistens like coral in all the neighboring gardens,
And today we have naming of parts.

This is the lower sling swivel. And this
Is the upper sling swivel, whose use you will see,
When you are given your slings. And this is the piling swivel,
Which in your case you have not got. The branches
Hold in the gardens their silent, eloquent gestures,
Which in our case we have not got.

This is the safety-catch, which is always released
With an easy flick of the thumb. And please do not let me
See anyone using his finger. You can do it quite easy
If you have any strength in your thumb. The blossoms
Are fragile and motionless, never letting anyone see
Any of them using their finger.

And this you can see is the bolt. The purpose of this
Is to open the breech, as you see. We can slide it
Rapidly backwards and forwards: we call this
Easing the spring. And rapidly backwards and forwards
The early bees are assaulting and fumbling the flowers:
They call it easing the Spring.

They call it easing the Spring: it is perfectly easy
If you have any strength in your thumb: like the bolt,
And the breech, the cocking-piece, and the point of balance,
Which in our case we have not got; and the almond blossom
Silent in all of the gardens and the bees going backwards and forwards,
For today we have the naming of parts.
 

TyCobb

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294
The Shut-Eye Sentry
By Rudyard Kipling

Sez the Junior Orderly Sergeant
To the Senior Orderly Man:
"Our Orderly Orf'cer's hokee-mut,
You 'elp 'im all you can.
For the wine was old and the night is cold,
An' the best we may go wrong,
So, 'fore 'e gits to the sentry-box,
You pass the word along."

So it was "Rounds! What Rounds?" at two of a frosty night,
'E's 'oldin' on by the sergeant's sash, but, sentry, shut your eye.
An' it was "Pass! All's well!" Oh, ain't 'e drippin' tight!
'E'll need an affidavit pretty badly by-an'-by.

The moon was white on the barricks,
The road was white an' wide,
An' the Orderly Orf'cer took it all,
An' the ten-foot ditch beside.
An' the corporal pulled an' the sergeant pushed,
An' the three they danced along,
But I'd shut my eyes in the sentry-box,
So I didn't see nothin' wrong.

Though it was "Rounds! What Rounds?" O corporal, 'old 'im up!
'E's usin' 'is cap as it shouldn't be used, but, sentry, shut your eye.
An' it was "Pass! All's well!" Ho, shun the foamin' cup!
'E'll need, etc.

'Twas after four in the mornin';
We 'ad to stop the fun,
An' we sent 'im 'ome on a bullock-cart,
With 'is belt an' stock undone;
But we sluiced 'im down an' we washed 'im out,
An' a first-class job we made,
When we saved 'im, smart as a bombardier,
For six-o'clock parade.

It 'ad been "Rounds! What Rounds?" Oh, shove 'im straight again!
'E's usin' 'is sword for a bicycle, but, sentry, shut your eye.
An' it was "Pass! All's well!" 'E's called me "Darlin' Jane"!
'E'll need, etc.

The drill was long an' 'eavy,
The sky was 'ot an' blue,
An' 'is eye was wild an' 'is 'air was wet,
But 'is sergeant pulled 'im through.
Our men was good old trusties --
They'd done it on their 'ead;
But you ought to 'ave 'eard 'em markin' time
To 'ide the things 'e said!

For it was "Right flank -- wheel!" for "'Alt, an' stand at ease!"
An' "Left extend!" for "Centre close!" O marker, shut your eye!
An' it was, "'Ere, sir, 'ere! before the Colonel sees!"
So he needed affidavits pretty badly by-an'-by.

There was two-an'-thirty sergeants,
There was corp'rals forty-one,
There was just nine 'undred rank an' file
To swear to a touch o' sun.
There was me 'e'd kissed in the sentry-box,
As I 'ave not told in my song,
But I took my oath, which were Bible truth,
I 'adn't seen nothin' wrong.

There's them that's 'ot an' 'aughty,
There's them that's cold an' 'ard,
But there comes a night when the best gets tight,
And then turns out the Guard.
I've seen them 'ide their liquor
In every kind o' way,
But most depends on makin' friends
With Privit Thomas A.!

When it is "Rounds! What Rounds?" 'E's breathin' through 'is nose.
'E's reelin', rollin', roarin' tight, but, sentry, shut your eye.
An' it is "Pass! All's well!" An' that's the way it goes:
We'll 'elp 'im for 'is mother, an' 'e'll 'elp us by-an'-by!
 

ping

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With Rue My Heart Is Laden

With Rue my heart is laden
For golden friends I had,
For many a rose-lipt maiden
And many a lightfoot lad.
By brooks too broad for leaping
The lightfoot boys are laid;
The rose-lipt girls are sleeping
In fields where roses fade.

A.E. Houseman
 

mongoose

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Terence This is Stupid Stuff

‘TERENCE, this is stupid stuff:
You eat your victuals fast enough;
There can’t be much amiss, ’tis clear,
To see the rate you drink your beer.
But oh, good Lord, the verse you make,
It gives a chap the belly-ache.
The cow, the old cow, she is dead;
It sleeps well, the horned head:
We poor lads, ’tis our turn now
To hear such tunes as killed the cow.
Pretty friendship ’tis to rhyme
Your friends to death before their time
Moping melancholy mad:
Come, pipe a tune to dance to, lad.’

Why, if ’tis dancing you would be,
There’s brisker pipes than poetry.
Say, for what were hop-yards meant,
Or why was Burton built on Trent?
Oh many a peer of England brews
Livelier liquor than the Muse,
And malt does more than Milton can
To justify God’s ways to man.
Ale, man, ale’s the stuff to drink
For fellows whom it hurts to think:
Look into the pewter pot
To see the world as the world’s not.
And faith, ’tis pleasant till ’tis past:
The mischief is that ’twill not last.
Oh I have been to Ludlow fair
And left my necktie God knows where,
And carried half way home, or near,
Pints and quarts of Ludlow beer:
Then the world seemed none so bad,
And I myself a sterling lad;
And down in lovely muck I’ve lain,
Happy till I woke again.
Then I saw the morning sky:
Heigho, the tale was all a lie;
The world, it was the old world yet,
I was I, my things were wet,
And nothing now remained to do
But begin the game anew.

Therefore, since the world has still
Much good, but much less good than ill,
And while the sun and moon endure
Luck’s a chance, but trouble’s sure,
I’d face it as a wise man would,
And train for ill and not for good.
’Tis true, the stuff I bring for sale
Is not so brisk a brew as ale:
Out of a stem that scored the hand
I wrung it in a weary land.
But take it: if the smack is sour,
The better for the embittered hour;
It should do good to heart and head
When your soul is in my soul’s stead;
And I will friend you, if I may,
In the dark and cloudy day.

There was a king reigned in the East:
There, when kings will sit to feast,
They get their fill before they think
With poisoned meat and poisoned drink.
He gathered all that springs to birth
From the many-venomed earth;
First a little, thence to more,
He sampled all her killing store;
And easy, smiling, seasoned sound,
Sate the king when healths went round.
They put arsenic in his meat
And stared aghast to watch him eat;
They poured strychnine in his cup
And shook to see him drink it up:
They shook, they stared as white’s their shirt:
Them it was their poison hurt.
—I tell the tale that I heard told.
Mithridates, he died old.

-A. E. Houseman

I am trying to memorize A Shropshire Lad from front to back. I have been able to recite this from memory since high school (although I did copy and paste this). Surprisingly I still can. Houseman is my favorite poet of that era.

Kind regards,

mongoose
 

jasmi3113

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352
An Cuilithionn / The Cuillin, by Sorley Maclean

Far, far distant, far on a horizon,
I see the rocking of the antlered Cuillin,
beyond the seas of sorrow, beyond the morass of agony,
I see the white felicity of the high-
towered mountains.

Who is this, who is this on a bad night,
who is this walking on the moorland?
The steps of a spirit by my side
and the soft steps of my love:

footsteps, footsteps on the mountains,
murmur of footsteps rising,
quiet footsteps, gentle footsteps,
stealthy mild restrained footsteps.

Who is this, who is this on a night of woe
who is this, walking on the summit?
The ghost of a bare naked brain,
cold in the chill of vicissitude.

Who is this, who is this in the night of the spirit?
Is it only the naked ghost of a heart,
a spectre going alone in thought,
a skeleton naked of flesh on the mountain.

Who is this, who is this on the night of the heart?
It is the thing that is not reached,
the ghost seen by the soul
a Cuillin rising over the sea.

Who is this, who is this on the night of the soul,
following the veering of the fugitive light?
It is only, it is only the journeying one
seeking the Cuillin over the ocean.

Who is this, who is this on the night of mankind?
It is only the ghost of the spirit,
a soul alone going on mountains,
longing for the Cuillin that is rising.
 

dame

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Dec 19, 2013
Posts
601
Ozymandias

I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: "Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed:
And on the pedestal these words appear:
'My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!'
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.

--Percy Bysshe Shelley
 

baz

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Posts
235
One of the best.
Max ehrmann 1927

Go placidly amid the noise and the haste,
and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible, without surrender,
be on good terms with all persons.

Speak your truth quietly and clearly, and listen to others,
even to the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons; they are vexatious
to the spirit. If you compare yourself with others,
you may become vain or bitter, for always
there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.

Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.
Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
many persons strive for high ideals,
and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself. Especially do not feign affection.
Neither be cynical about love, for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment;
it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years,
gracefully surrendering the things of youth.

Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself.
You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.

And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.
Therefore, be at peace with God,
whatever you conceive Him to be.

And whatever your labors and aspirations
in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul.
With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy
 

baz

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Apr 11, 2014
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235
Another in remembrance of friends lost.

Do not stand at my grave and weep
I am not there; I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow,
I am the diamond glints on snow,
I am the sun on ripened grain,
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning's hush
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry,
I am not there; I did not die.
 

baz

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235
Never give all the heart
W. B. Yeats, 1865 - 1939

Never give all the heart, for love
Will hardly seem worth thinking of
To passionate women if it seem
Certain, and they never dream
That it fades out from kiss to kiss;
For everything that’s lovely is
But a brief, dreamy, kind delight.
O never give the heart outright,
For they, for all smooth lips can say,
Have given their hearts up to the play.
And who could play it well enough
If deaf and dumb and blind with love?
He that made this knows all the cost,
For he gave all his heart and lost.
 

toby

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My favourite is W.H. Auden's 'The Age of Anxiety', but it's small-book-length, so I can't quote it. Inspired L. Bernstein to write a symphony (with heavy piano solo, almost like a concerto), and Jerome Robbins to make a ballet.
 

notcharlotte

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We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.

T.S. Eliot, The Four Quartets
 

toby

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Oh yeah, I remembered a short poem I love perhaps more than any, and it's used at the end of the poem 'Walkabout'. Paul Theroux quotes it at the beginning of his 'My Secret History', but somehow it doesn't ring so true there (not A.E. Housman's fault). Come to think of it, I am not sure I know the title, but I long ago memorized the poem:

Into my heart an air that kills
From far yon country blows
What are those blue remembered hills
What smiles, what frowns are those?

It is the land of lost content
I see it shining plain:
The happy highways where I walked
And cannot come again.

It's incredibly effective when Jenny Agutter is remembering from suburban Sydney her long, painful and beautiful trek across the Australian outback with her little brother (after their insane father tried to kill them) and an Aborigine boy 'on his walkabout' toward manhood, who helps them get back to safety. The whole movie is a masterwork, by the way.
 

baz

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The Ballad Of Father Gilligan
by William Butler Yeats

The old priest Peter Gilligan
Was weary night and day;
For half his flock were in their beds,
Or under green sods lay.

Once, while he nodded on a chair,
At the moth-hour of eve,
Another poor man sent for him,
And he began to grieve.

"I have no rest, nor joy, nor peace,
For people die and die';
And after cried he, "God forgive!
My body spake, not I!'

He knelt, and leaning on the chair
He prayed and fell asleep;
And the moth-hour went from the fields,
And stars began to peep.

They slowly into millions grew,
And leaves shook in the wind;
And God covered the world with shade,
And whispered to mankind.

Upon the time of sparrow-chirp
When the moths came once more.
The old priest Peter Gilligan
Stood upright on the floor.

"Mavrone, mavrone! the man has died
While I slept on the chair';
He roused his horse out of its sleep,
And rode with little care.

He rode now as he never rode,
By rocky lane and fen;
The sick man's wife opened the door:
"Father! you come again!"

"And is the poor man dead?' he cried.
"He died an hour ago.'
The old priest Peter Gilligan
In grief swayed to and fro.

"When you were gone, he turned and died
As merry as a bird.'
The old priest Peter Gilligan
He knelt him at that word.

"He Who hath made the night of stars
For souls who tire and bleed,
Sent one of His great angels down
To help me in my need.

"He Who is wrapped in purple robes,
With planets in His care,
Had pity on the least of things
Asleep upon a chair.'
 

Trazita89

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I had to memorize this poem in the 7'th grade which was many moons ago.
I'm sure there will be many mistakes, but I want to say it as I remember it before I look it up.

Trees By Joyce Killmer? (Male)

I think I shall never see a poem as lovely as a tree
A tree that looks at God all day
and lifts it's leafy arms to pray
A tree that in summer may wear
A nest of robins in her hair
Upon whose bossom snow has lain
Who intermintently lives with rain
Poems are made by fools like me,
but only God, can make a tree.

We were told that this guy wrote this poem while he was fighting in WWI.
The tree was all that he could outside of the trench he was in.
Don't know if the story is true.
I know I probably forgot some of it.
This was a public school. Imagine if kids had to learn a poem today that mentioned God?
 
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