poetry

Sonnet 23 … John Milton Methought I saw my late espoused saint        Brought to me, like Alcestis, from the grave,        Whom Jove’s great son to her glad husband gave,        Rescu’d from death by force, though pale and faint. Mine, as whom wash’d from spot of child-bed taint        Purification in the old […]

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… before his heart’s curtain? Rilke’s 4th Duino Elegy … O trees of life, O when are you wintering? We are not unified. We have no instincts like those of migratory birds. Useless, and late, we force ourselves, suddenly, onto the wind, and fall down to an indifferent lake. We realise flowering and fading together. […]

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See, we don’t love like flowers, in a single year: when we love, an ancient sap rises in our arms. O, girls, this: that we loved inside us, not one to come, but the immeasurable seething: not a single child, but the fathers: resting on our depths like the rubble of mountains: the dry river-beds […]

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Hope is the thing with feathers That perches in the soul And sings the tune—without the words, And never stops at all, And sweetest in the gale is heard; And sore must be the storm That could abash the little bird That kept so many warm. I’ve heard it in the chilliest land, And on […]

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Elegy I open the first door. It is a large sunlit room. A heavy car passes outside and makes the china quiver. I open door number two. Friends! You drank some darkness and became visible. Door number three. A narrow hotel room. View on an alley. One lamppost shines on the asphalt. Experience, its beautiful […]

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Romanesque Arches Inside the huge romanesque church the tourists jostled in the half darkness. Vault gaped behind vault, no complete view. A few candle-flames flickered. An angel with no face embraced me and whispered through my whole body: “Don’t be ashamed of being human, be proud! Inside you vault opens behind vault endlessly. You will […]

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Weren’t you astonished by the caution of human gestures on Attic gravestones? Wasn’t love and departure placed so gently on shoulders that it seemed to be made of a different substance than in our world? Remember the hands, how weightlessly they rest, though there is power in the torsos. These self-mastered figures know: “We can […]

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It is truly strange to no longer inhabit the earth, to no longer practice customs barely acquired, not to give a meaning of human futurity to roses, and other expressly promising things: no longer to be what one was in endlessly anxious hands, and to set aside even one’s own proper name like a broken […]

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“The quality of mercy is not strain’d, It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven Upon the place beneath. It is twice blest: It blesseth him that gives and him that takes. ‘T is mightiest in the mightiest: it becomes The throned monarch better than his crown; His sceptre shows the force of temporal power, […]

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by Jane Kenyon In the Nursing Home She is like a horse grazing a hill pasture that someone makes smaller by coming every night to pull the fences in and in. She has stopped running wide loops, stopped even the tight circles. She drops her head to feed; grass is dust, and the creekbed’s dry. […]

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