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A Year of Poetry – Day 310

When the hours of Day are numbered,
And the voices of the Night
Wake the better soul, that slumbered,
To a holy, calm delight;

Ere the evening lamps are lighted,
And, like phantoms grim and tall,
Shadows from the fitful firelight
Dance upon the parlor wall;

Then the forms of the departed
Enter at the open door;
The beloved, the true-hearted,
Come to visit me once more;

He, the young and strong, who cherished
Noble longings for the strife,
By the roadside fell and perished,
Weary with the march of life!

They, the holy ones and weakly,
Who the cross of suffering bore,
Folded their pale hands so meekly,
Spake with us on earth no more!

And with them the Being Beauteous,
Who unto my youth was given,
More than all things else to love me,
And is now a saint in heaven.

With a slow and noiseless footstep
Comes that messenger divine,
Takes the vacant chair beside me,
Lays her gentle hand in mine.

And she sits and gazes at me
With those deep and tender eyes,
Like the stars, so still and saint-like,
Looking downward from the skies.

Uttered not, yet comprehended,
Is the spirit’s voiceless prayer,
Soft rebukes, in blessings ended,
Breathing from her lips of air.

Oh, though oft depressed and lonely,
All my fears are laid aside,
If I but remember only
Such as these have lived and died!

— Henry Wadsworth Longellow, Footsteps of Angels

A Year of Poetry – Day 309

Since I have set my lips to your full cup, my sweet,
Since I my pallid face between your hands have laid,
Since I have known your soul, and all the bloom of it,
And all the perfume rare, now buried in the shade;

Since it was given to me to hear on happy while,
The words wherein your heart spoke all its mysteries,
Since I have seen you weep, and since I have seen you smile,
Your lips upon my lips, and your eyes upon my eyes;

Since I have known above my forehead glance and gleam,
A ray, a single ray, of your star, veiled always,
Since I have felt the fall, upon my lifetime’s stream,
Of one rose petal plucked from the roses of your days;

I now am bold to say to the swift changing hours,
Pass, pass upon your way, for I grow never old,
Fleet to the dark abysm with all your fading flowers,
One rose that none may pluck, within my heart I hold.

Your flying wings may smite, but they can never spill
The cup fulfilled of love, from which my lips are wet;
My heart has far more fire than you can frost to chill,
My soul more love than you can make my soul forget

— Victor Marie Hugo, More Strong Than Time

A Year of Poetry – Day 308

Here’s a wonderful thing,
A humming-bird’s wing
In hammered gold,
And store well chosen
Of snowflakes frozen
In crystal cold.

Black onyx cherries
And mistletoe berries
Of chrysoprase,
Jade buds, tight shut,
All carven and cut
In intricate ways.

Here, if you please
Are little gilt bees
In amber drops
Which look like honey,
Translucent and sunny,
From clover-tops.

Here’s an elfin girl
Of mother-of-pearl
And moonshine made,
With tortise-shell hair
Both dusky and fair
In its light and shade.

Here’s lacquer laid thin,
Like a scarlet skin
On an ivory fruit;
And a filigree frost
Of frail notes lost
From a fairy lute.

Here’s a turquoise chain
Of sun-shower rain
To wear if you wish;
And glittering green
With aquamarine,
A silvery fish.

Here are pearls all strung
On a thread among
Pretty pink shells;
And bubbles blown
From the opal stone
Which ring like bells.

Touch them and take them,
But do not break them!
Beneath your hand
They will wither like foam
If you carry them home
Out of fairy-lannd.

O, they never can last
Though you hide them fast
From moth and from rust;
In your monstrous day
They will crumble away
Into quicksilver dust.

— Elinor Wylie, The Fairy Goldsmith

A Year of Poetry – Day 307

A Well there is in the west country,
    And a clearer one never was seen;
There is not a wife in the west country
    But has heard of the Well of St. Keyne.
An oak and an elm-tree stand beside,
    And behind doth an ash-tree grow,
And a willow from the bank above
    Droops to the water below.
A traveller came to the Well of St. Keyne;
    Joyfully he drew nigh,
For from the cock-crow he had been travelling,
    And there was not a cloud in the sky.
He drank of the water so cool and clear,
    For thirsty and hot was he,
And he sat down upon the bank
    Under the willow-tree.
There came a man from the house hard by
    At the Well to fill his pail;
On the Well-side he rested it,
    And he bade the Stranger hail.
“Now art thou a bachelor, Stranger?” quoth he,
    “For an if thou hast a wife,
The happiest draught thou hast drank this day
    That ever thou didst in thy life.
“Or has thy good woman, if one thou hast,
    Ever here in Cornwall been?
For an if she have, I’ll venture my life
    She has drank of the Well of St. Keyne.”
“I have left a good woman who never was here.”
    The Stranger he made reply,
“But that my draught should be the better for that,
    I pray you answer me why?”
“St. Keyne,” quoth the Cornish-man, “many a time
    Drank of this crystal Well,
And before the Angel summon’d her,
    She laid on the water a spell.
“If the Husband of this gifted Well
    Shall drink before his Wife,
A happy man thenceforth is he,
    For he shall be Master for life.
“But if the Wife should drink of it first,—
    God help the Husband then!”
The Stranger stoopt to the Well of St. Keyne,
    And drank of the water again.
“You drank of the Well I warrant betimes?”
    He to the Cornish-man said:
But the Cornish-man smiled as the Stranger spake,
    And sheepishly shook his head.
“I hasten’d as soon as the wedding was done,
    And left my Wife in the porch;
But i’ faith she had been wiser than me,
    For she took a bottle to Church.”
— Robert Southey, The Well of St. Keyne

A Year of Poetry – Day 306

To love these books, and harmless tea,
Has always been my foible,
Yet will I ne’er forgetful be
To read my Psalms and Bible.

Travels I like, and history too,
Or entertaining fiction;
Novels and plays I’d have a few,
If sense and proper diction.

I love a natural harmless song,
But I cannot sing like Handel;
Deprived of such resource, the tongue
Is sure employed — in scandal.

— Christian Milne, To A Lady Who Said It Was Sinful To Read Novels

A Year of Poetry – Day 305

Just a rainy day or two
In a windy tower,
That was all I had of you—
Saving half an hour.

Marred by greeting passing groups
In a cinder walk,
Near some naked blackberry hoops
Dim with purple chalk.
I remember three or four
Things you said in spite,
And an ugly coat you wore,
Plaided black and white.

Just a rainy day or two
And a bitter word.
Why do I remember you
As a singing bird?

Edna St. Vincent Millay – Souvenir

A Year of Poetry – Day 304

That we’ve broken their statues,
that we’ve driven them out of their temples,
doesn’t mean at all that the gods are dead.
O land of Ionia, they’re still in love with you,
their souls still keep your memory.
When an August dawn wakes over you,
your atmosphere is potent with their life,
and sometimes a young ethereal figure
indistinct, in rapid flight,
wings across your hills.

— Gaius Valerius Catullus, Ionic

A Year of Poetry – Day 303

Avising the bright beams of these fair eyes
Where he is that mine oft moisteth and washeth,
The wearied mind straight from the heart departeth
For to rest in his worldly paradise
And find the sweet bitter under this guise.
What webs he hath wrought well he perceiveth
Whereby with himself on love he plaineth
That spurreth with fire and bridleth with ice.
Thus is it in such extremity brought,
In frozen thought, now and now it standeth in flame.
Twixt misery and wealth, twixt earnest and game,
But few glad, and many diverse thought
With sore repentance of his hardiness.
Of such a root cometh fruit fruitless.
— Sir  Thomas Wyatt, Avising the Bright Beams

A Year of Poetry – Day 302

When I was one-and-twenty
       I heard a wise man say,
“Give crowns and pounds and guineas
       But not your heart away;
Give pearls away and rubies
       But keep your fancy free.”
But I was one-and-twenty,
       No use to talk to me.
When I was one-and-twenty
       I heard him say again,
“The heart out of the bosom
       Was never given in vain;
’Tis paid with sighs a plenty
       And sold for endless rue.”
And I am two-and-twenty,
       And oh, ’tis true, ’tis true.
— A. E. Housman, When I Was One-And-Twenty

A Year of Poetry – Day 301

Joy, thou goddess, fair, immortal,
Offspring of Elysium,
Mad with rapture, to the portal
Of thy holy fame we come!
Fashion’s laws, indeed, may sever,
But thy magic joins again;
All mankind are brethren ever
‘Neath thy mild and gentle reign.

CHORUS.
Welcome, all ye myriad creatures!
Brethren, take the kiss of love!
Yes, the starry realms above
Hide a Father’s smiling features!

He, that noble prize possessing–
He that boasts a friend that’s true,
He whom woman’s love is blessing,
Let him join the chorus too!
Aye, and he who but one spirit
On this earth can call his own!
He who no such bliss can merit,
Let him mourn his fate alone!

CHORUS.
All who Nature’s tribes are swelling
Homage pay to sympathy;
For she guides us up on high,
Where the unknown has his dwelling.

From the breasts of kindly Nature
All of joy imbibe the dew;
Good and bad alike, each creature
Would her roseate path pursue.
‘Tis through her the wine-cup maddens,
Love and friends to man she gives!
Bliss the meanest reptile gladdens,–
Near God’s throne the cherub lives!

CHORUS.
Bow before him, all creation!
Mortals, own the God of love!
Seek him high the stars above,–
Yonder is his habitation!

Joy, in Nature’s wide dominion,
Mightiest cause of all is found;
And ’tis joy that moves the pinion,
When the wheel of time goes round;
From the bud she lures the flower–
Suns from out their orbs of light;
Distant spheres obey her power,
Far beyond all mortal sight.

CHORUS.
As through heaven’s expanse so glorious
In their orbits suns roll on,
Brethren, thus your proud race run,
Glad as warriors all-victorious!

Joy from truth’s own glass of fire
Sweetly on the searcher smiles;
Lest on virtue’s steeps he tire,
Joy the tedious path beguiles.
High on faith’s bright hill before us,
See her banner proudly wave!
Joy, too, swells the angels’ chorus,–
Bursts the bondage of the grave!

CHORUS.
Mortals, meekly wait for heaven
Suffer on in patient love!
In the starry realms above,
Bright rewards by God are given.

To the Gods we ne’er can render
Praise for every good they grant;
Let us, with devotion tender,
Minister to grief and want.
Quenched be hate and wrath forever,
Pardoned be our mortal foe–
May our tears upbraid him never,
No repentance bring him low!

CHORUS.
Sense of wrongs forget to treasure–
Brethren, live in perfect love!
In the starry realms above,
God will mete as we may measure.

Joy within the goblet flushes,
For the golden nectar, wine,
Every fierce emotion hushes,–
Fills the breast with fire divine.
Brethren, thus in rapture meeting,
Send ye round the brimming cup,–
Yonder kindly spirit greeting,
While the foam to heaven mounts up!

CHORUS.
He whom seraphs worship ever;
Whom the stars praise as they roll,
Yes to him now drain the bowl
Mortal eye can see him never!

Courage, ne’er by sorrow broken!
Aid where tears of virtue flow;
Faith to keep each promise spoken!
Truth alike to friend and foe!
‘Neath kings’ frowns a manly spirit!–
Brethren, noble is the prize–
Honor due to every merit!
Death to all the brood of lies!

CHORUS.
Draw the sacred circle closer!
By this bright wine plight your troth
To be faithful to your oath!
Swear it by the Star-Disposer!

Safety from the tyrant’s power!
Mercy e’en to traitors base!
Hope in death’s last solemn hour!
Pardon when before His face!
Lo, the dead shall rise to heaven!
Brethren hail the blest decree;
Every sin shall be forgiven,
Hell forever cease to be!

CHORUS.
When the golden bowl is broken,
Gentle sleep within the tomb!
Brethren, may a gracious doom
By the Judge of man be spoken!

— Friedrich Schiller, Hymn to Joy

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