You are still on the highway and the great light of
noon comes over the asphalt, the gravelled
shoulders. You are on the highway, there is a kind of
You are still on the highway and the great light of
noon comes over the asphalt, the gravelled
shoulders. You are on the highway, there is a kind of
A boat, beneath a sunny sky,
Lingering onward dreamily
In an evening of July —
my friends, my sweet barbarians,
there is that hunger which is not for food —
but an eye at the navel turns the appetite
Take this kiss upon the brow!
And, in parting from you now,
Thus much let me avow —
What torture lurks within a single thought
When grown too constant, and however kind,
However welcome still, the weary mind
For Hugo Ball
a glass tube
for my leg says Hugo Ball
Wilt thou forgive that sin where I begun,
Which was my sin, though it were done before?
Wilt thou forgive that sin, through which I run,
A march in the ranks hard-prest, and the road unknown,
A route through a heavy wood with muffled steps in the darkness,
Our army foil’d with loss severe, and the sullen remnant retreating,
A noiseless patient spider,
I mark’d where on a little promontory it stood isolated,
Mark’d how to explore the vacant vast surrounding,
What the Heart of the Young Man Said to the Psalmist.
Tell me not, in mournful numbers,
Life is but an empty dream!
O my Luve is like a red, red rose
That’s newly sprung in June;
O my Luve is like the melody
His Grace! impossible! what dead!
Of old age too, and in his bed!
And could that mighty warrior fall?
At the beginning I noticed
the huge stones on my path
I knew instinctively
What thoughts I have of you tonight, Walt Whitman, for I walked
down the sidestreets under the trees with a headache self-conscious looking
at the full moon.
A moment the wild swallows like a flight
Of withered gust-caught leaves, serenely high,
Toss in the windrack up the muttering sky.
No, no! Go from me. I have left her lately.
I will not spoil my sheath with lesser brightness,
For my surrounding air hath a new lightness;
Could our first father, at his toilsome plow,
Thorns in his path, and labor on his brow,
Clothed only in a rude, unpolished skin,
My long two-pointed ladder’s sticking through a tree
Toward heaven still,
And there’s a barrel that I didn’t fill
Ah! why, because the dazzling sun
Restored my earth to joy
Have you departed, every one,
“Oh where are you going with your love-locks flowing
On the west wind blowing along this valley track?”
“The downhill path is easy, come with me an it please ye,
I know that I shall meet my fate
Somewhere among the clouds above;
Those that I fight I do not hate,
It was many and many a year ago,
In a kingdom by the sea,
That a maiden there lived whom you may know
As kingfishers catch fire, dragonflies draw flame;
As tumbled over rim in roundy wells
Stones ring; like each tucked string tells, each hung bell’s
Often beneath the wave, wide from this ledge
The dice of drowned men’s bones he saw bequeath
An embassy. Their numbers as he watched,
Today doves flew from my head
and my hair grew
the longing is gone from my body
Life has loveliness to sell,
All beautiful and splendid things,
Blue waves whitened on a cliff,
Beat! beat! drums! — blow! bugles! blow!
Through the windows — through doors — burst like a ruthless force,
Into the solemn church, and scatter the congregation,
All things within this fading world hath end,
Adversity doth still our joyes attend;
No ties so strong, no friends so dear and sweet,
The air smells of rhubarb, occasional
Roses, or first birth of blossoms, a fresh,
Undulant hurt, so body snaps and curls
Blow, blow, thou winter wind,
Thou art not so unkind
As man’s ingratitude;
What if the sun comes out
And the new furrows do not look smeared?
This is April, and the sumach candles
’Tis true, ’tis day, what though it be?
O wilt thou therefore rise from me?
Why should we rise because ’tis light?
Break, break, break,
On thy cold gray stones, O Sea!
And I would that my tongue could utter
Bright star, would I were stedfast as thou art —
Not in lone splendour hung aloft the night
And watching, with eternal lids apart,
That night your great guns, unawares,
Shook all our coffins as we lay,
And broke the chancel window-squares,
Hog Butcher for the World,
Tool Maker, Stacker of Wheat,
Player with Railroads and the Nation’s Freight Handler;
you are unaware of your obscure sources
but you are explicitly sure of the vast sea
as your final destination
Come up from the fields father, here’s a letter from our Pete,
And come to the front door mother, here’s a letter from thy dear son.
Lo, ’tis autumn
Earth has not anything to show more fair:
Dull would he be of soul who could pass by
A sight so touching in its majesty:
What is he buzzing in my ears?
“Now that I come to die,
Do I view the world as a vale of tears?”
Constantly risking absurdity
whenever he performs
Sunset and evening star,
And one clear call for me!
And may there be no moaning of the bar,
If I when my wife is sleeping
and the baby and Kathleen
I dreaded those future aeons when I would not be present —
an endless succession of days I would miss, with their own
news and songs and styles of machine.
He, who navigated with success
the dangerous river of his own birth
once more set forth
Late at night in Oklahoma, a very small, an extremely small man ran across the road in front of my friend’s car. He does not doubt this is real, though the rest of us do, and it doesn’t bother him.
dont worry yr eyes
dont worry yr brain man th snow is
cummin th bright burds flyin highr, th
The sea is calm tonight.
The tide is full, the moon lies fair
Upon the straits; on the French coast the light
Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs,
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots,
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of gas-shells dropping softly behind.
Gas! GAS! Quick, boys! — An ecstasy of fumbling
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time,
Once one gets what one wants
one no longer wants it.
One no longer wants what?
The train has stopped for no apparent reason
In the wilds;
A frozen lake is level and fretted over
An old, mad, blind, despised, and dying King;
Princes, the dregs of their dull race, who flow
Through public scorn, — mud from a muddy spring;
On her Son H.P. at St. Syth’s Church where her body also lies interred
What on Earth deserves our trust?
Youth and Beauty both are dust.
Difficult to believe what hurts so much
when the cement truck bounces you
off a tree trunk
The lords of life, the lords of life, —
I saw them pass,
In their own guise,
The snake can separate itself
from its shadow, move on ribbons of light,
taste the air, the morning and the evening,
Hello, listen, I’m on a field phone, do not speak until I say “over.”
Repeat, don’t talk until I say “over.” Over. Do you understand,
or was your silence intentional? Over.
We deemed the secret lost, the spirit gone,
Which spake in Greek simplicity of thought,
And in the forms of gods and heroes wrought
arsenic in calculators, mercury in felt
hats, mad as a poisoned hatter
pyrophoric undercurrent in mundane
Follow thy fair sun, unhappy shadow,
Though thou be black as night
And she made all of light,
for Dick Higgins
Writing is inhibiting. Sighing, I sit, scribbling in ink
this pidgin script. I sing with nihilistic witticism,
The willows are thinking again about thickness,
slowness, lizard skin on hot rock,
and day by day this imaging transforms them
Calved from a glacier near Godhaven coast,
It left the fiord for the sea — a host
Of white flotillas gathering in its wake,
My bands of silk and miniver
Momently grew heavier;
The black gauze was beggarly thin;
Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high;
Where knowledge is free;
Where the world has not been broken up into fragments by narrow domestic walls;
Give all to love;
Obey thy heart;
Friends, kindred, days,
I tell you, hopeless grief is passionless;
That only men incredulous of despair,
Half-taught in anguish, through the midnight air
like the beginnings — o odales o adagios — of islands
from under the clouds where I write the first poem
its brown warmth now that we recognize them
To Kristin Lems
We miss something now
as we think about it
If but some vengeful god would call to me
From up the sky, and laugh: “Thou suffering thing,
Know that thy sorrow is my ecstasy,
From plains that reel to southward, dim,
The road runs by me white and bare;
Up the steep hill it seems to swim
My father bequeathed me no wide estates;
No keys and ledgers were my heritage;
Only some holy books with yahrzeit dates
All Greece hates
the still eyes in the white face,
the lustre as of olives
Death, be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so;
For those whom thou think’st thou dost overthrow
In the onion, there’s
something of fire. That fire known as
Fog. The onion is the way
For weeks and weeks the autumn world stood still,
Clothed in the shadow of a smoky haze;
The fields were dead, the wind had lost its will,
I am — yet what I am none cares or knows;
My friends forsake me like a memory lost:
I am the self-consumer of my woes —
I am the people — the mob — the crowd — the mass.
Do you know that all the great work of the world is done through me?
I am the workingman, the inventor, the maker of the world’s food and clothes.
I felt a Funeral, in my Brain,
And Mourners to and fro
Kept treading — treading — till it seemed
I have not lingered in European monasteries
and discovered among the tall grasses tombs of knights
who fell as beautifully as their ballads tell;
I think I should have loved you presently,
And given in earnest words I flung in jest;
And lifted honest eyes for you to see,
I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
wandering to the other, wandering
the spiritual realities, skilled in all
ways of contending, he did not search
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
Thin are the night-skirts left behind
By daybreak hours that onward creep,
And thin, alas! the shred of sleep
If I were to sleep, it would be on an iron bed,
bolted to the floor in a bomb-proof concrete room
with twelve locks on the door.
Newfoundland is, or was, full of interesting people.
Like Larry, who would make a fool of himself on street corners
for a nickel. There was the Russian who called himself
I ask them to take a poem
and hold it up to the light
like a color slide
Piping down the valleys wild,
Piping songs of pleasant glee,
On a cloud I saw a child,
Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
So I’m an alcoholic Catholic mother-lover
yet there is no sweetish nectar no fuzzed-peach
thing no song sing but in the word
Pavement slipp’ry, people sneezing,
Lords in ermine, beggars freezing;
Titled gluttons dainties carving,
“A cold coming we had of it,
Just the worst time of the year
For a journey, and such a long journey:
Or, a vision in a dream. A Fragment.
In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
A stately pleasure-dome decree:
O what can ail thee, knight-at-arms,
Alone and palely loitering?
The sedge has withered from the lake,
O quam te memorem virgo...
Stand on the highest pavement of the stair —
Lean on a garden urn —
before the sun’s liquid
spilled gradually, flooding
Hidden in wonder and snow, or sudden with summer,
This land stares at the sun in a huge silence
Endlessly repeating something we cannot hear.
God moves in a mysterious way,
His wonders to perform;
He plants his footsteps in the sea,
Lord of my heart’s elation,
Spirit of things unseen,
Be thou my aspiration
Love bade me welcome, yet my soul drew back,
Guilty of dust and sin.
But quick-ey’d Love, observing me grow slack
Love in Fantastic Triumph sat,
Whilst Bleeding Hearts around him flowed,
For whom Fresh pains he did Create,
The sun goes down, and over all
These barren reaches by the tide
Such unelusive glories fall,
A thin wet sky, that yellows at the rim,
And meets with sun-lost lip the marsh’s brim.
The pools low lying, dank with moss and mould,
Backward & down into inbetween as Vicki says. Or as Robin teaches
the gap, from which all things emerge. A left
handed compliment. Bats, houses of parliament, giants, stones.
Miniver Cheevy, child of scorn,
Grew lean while he assailed the seasons;
He wept that he was ever born,
Mr. Kessler, you know, was in the army,
And he drew six dollars a month as a pension,
And stood on the corner talking politics,
There are no stars tonight
But those of memory.
Yet how much room for memory there is
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
Sent to the ice after white coats,
rough outfit slung on coiled rope belts,
they stooped to the slaughter: gaffed pups,
No coward soul is mine
No trembler in the world’s storm-troubled sphere
I see Heaven’s glories shine
Nobody heard him, the dead man,
But still he lay moaning:
I was much further out than you thought
O Captain! my Captain! our fearful trip is done,
The ship has weather’d every rack, the prize we sought is won,
The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting,
Happy the man, whose wish and care
A few paternal acres bound,
Content to breathe his native air,
’Twas on a lofty vase’s side,
Where China’s gayest art had dyed
The azure flowers that blow;
Oh, Hope! thou soother sweet of human woes!
How shall I lure thee to my haunts forlorn!
For me wilt thou renew the withered rose,
Ay, tear her tattered ensign down!
Long has it waved on high,
And many an eye has danced to see
I grieve and dare not show my discontent,
I love and yet am forced to seem to hate,
I do, yet dare not say I ever meant,
What needs my Shakespeare for his honoured bones,
The labor of an age in pilèd stones,
Or that his hallowed relics should be hid
The art of losing isn’t hard to master;
so many things seem filled with the intent
to be lost that their loss is no disaster.
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,
In the middle of the night Matt would fly to Vancouver so he could take a walk on the sea wall the next day, then go home.
Wouldnt tell anyone, no telephone call, just run a scene through his peculiar Ontario head, no snow on that beach.
No one can imagine Matt teaching religion at McMaster, Matt eyeing math in a Bay Street shop window.
I lift the Lord on high,
Under the murmuring hemlock boughs, and see
The small birds of the forest lingering by
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;
It was powdered blood
in heavy brown paper bags
supposed to be strong enough
The sky, lit up like a question or
an applause meter, is beautiful
like everything else today: the leaves
I too, dislike it: there are things that are important
beyond all this fiddle.
Reading it, however, with a perfect contempt for it, one
The winter evening settles down
With smell of steaks in passageways.
It is 2005, just before landfall.
Here I am, a labyrinth, and I am a mess.
I am located at the corner of Waterway
Out through the fields and the woods
And over the walls I have wended;
I have climbed the hills of view
Ay, gaze upon her rose-wreathed hair,
And gaze upon her smile;
Seem as you drank the very air
Whenever Richard Cory went down town,
We people on the pavement looked at him:
He was a gentleman from sole to crown,
Lay down these words
Before your mind like rocks.
placed solid, by hands
Jenny kissed me when we met,
Jumping from the chair she sat in;
Time, you thief, who love to get
Often visitors there, saddened
by lack of trees, go out
to a promontory.
He wants to be
a brutal old man,
an aggressive old man,
Shall earth no more inspire thee,
Thou lonely dreamer now?
Since passion may not fire thee
She walks in beauty, like the night
Of cloudless climes and starry skies;
And all that’s best of dark and bright
So, we’ll go no more a roving
So late into the night,
Though the heart be still as loving,
Laugh, and the world laughs with you;
Weep, and you weep alone;
For the sad old earth must borrow its mirth,
Sometimes a voice — have you heard this? —
wants not to be voice any longer, wants something
whispering between the words, some
sometimes I find myself
at the oddest moment
Go, lovely rose!
Tell her that wastes her time and me,
That now she knows,
Drink to me only with thine eyes,
And I will pledge with mine;
Or leave a kiss but in the cup,
Come, my Celia, let us prove,
While we can, the sports of love;
Time will not be ours forever;
Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Not marble nor the gilded monuments
Of princes shall outlive this powerful rhyme,
But you shall shine more bright in these contents
Our life is like a forest, where the sun
Glints down upon us through the throbbing leaves;
The full light rarely find us. One by one,
When I consider everything that grows
Holds in perfection but a little moment,
That this huge stage presenteth nought but shows
Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
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,
When, in disgrace with fortune and men’s eyes,
I all alone beweep my outcast state,
And trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries,
How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
When daisies pied and violets blue
And lady-smocks all silver-white
And cuckoo-buds of yellow hue
Nothing is so beautiful as Spring —
When weeds, in wheels, shoot long and lovely and lush;
Thrush’s eggs look little low heavens, and thrush
Sweet sweet sweet sweet sweet tea.
Sweet sweet sweet sweet sweet tea.
For Hetti Corea, 8 years old
‘The Sinhalese are beyond a doubt one of the least musical
people in the world. It would be quite impossible to have
Thou ill-form’d offspring of my feeble brain,
Who after birth didst by my side remain,
Till snatched from thence by friends, less wise than true,
They said, ‘You have a blue guitar,
You do not play things as they are.’
The man replied, ‘Things as they are
Down from the purple mist of trees on the mountain,
lurching through forests of white spruce and cedar,
stumbling through tamarack swamps,
At 100 Mile House the cowboys ride in rolling
stagey cigarettes with one hand reining
half-tame bronco rebels on a morning grey as stone
Half a league, half a league,
Half a league onward,
A little black thing among the snow,
Crying “weep! ‘weep!” in notes of woe!
“Where are thy father and mother? say?”
When my mother died I was very young,
And my father sold me while yet my tongue
Could scarcely cry “‘weep! ‘weep! ‘weep! ‘weep!”
If I were a cinnamon peeler
I would ride your bed
and leave the yellow bark dust
A startled stag, the blue-grey Night,
Leaps down beyond black pines.
Behind — a length of yellow light —
It is 12:20 in New York a Friday
three days after Bastille day, yes
it is 1959 and I go get a shoeshine
How great unto the living seem the dead!
How sacred, solemn; how heroic grown;
How vast and vague, as they obscurely tread
through black jade.
Of the crow-blue mussel shells, one keeps
Mark but this flea, and mark in this,
How little that which thou deniest me is;
Me it sucked first, and now sucks thee,
I wonder, by my troth, what thou and I
Did, till we loved? Were we not weaned till then?
But sucked on country pleasures, childishly?
They are all gone away,
The House is shut and still,
There is nothing more to say.
I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made;
Nine bean-rows will I have there, a hive for the honey-bee,
‘O Jesus Christ! I’m hit,’ he said; and died.
Whether he vainly cursed, or prayed indeed,
The Bullets chirped — In vain! vain! vain!
‘Is there anybody there?’ said the Traveller,
Knocking on the moonlit door;
And his horse in the silence champed the grasses
When I put my finger to the hole they’ve cut for a dimmer switch
in a wall of plaster stiffened with horsehair
it seems I’ve scratched a two-hundred-year-old itch
Cedar and jagged fir
uplift sharp barbs
against the gray
About the Shark, phlegmatical one,
Pale sot of the Maldive sea,
The sleek little pilot-fish, azure and slim,
“Had he and I but met
By some old ancient inn,
We should have sat us down to wet
I was ready for a new experience.
All the old ones had burned out.
They lay in little ashy heaps along the roadside
If all the world and love were young,
And truth in every Shepherd’s tongue,
These pretty pleasures might me move,
The Owl and the Pussy-Cat went to sea
In a beautiful pea-green boat,
Come live with me and be my love,
And we will all the pleasures prove,
That Valleys, groves, hills, and fields,
Out of the deep and the dark,
A sparkling mystery, a shape,
A high bare field, brown from the plough, and borne
Aslant from sunset; amber wastes of sky
Washing the ridge; a clamour of crows that fly
I am told by many of you that I must forgive and so I shall
after an Indian woman puts her shoulder to the Grand Coulee Dam
and topples it. I am told by many of you that I must forgive
Now sleeps the crimson petal, now the white;
Nor waves the cypress in the palace walk;
Nor winks the gold fin in the porphyry font.
When God at first made man,
Having a glass of blessings standing by,
“Let us,” said he, “pour on him all we can.
After Li Po
While my hair was still cut straight across my forehead
I played about the front gate, pulling flowers.
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Announced by all the trumpets of the sky,
Arrives the snow, and, driving o’er the fields,
Seems nowhere to alight: the whited air
If I should die, think only this of me:
That there’s some corner of a foreign field
That is for ever England. There shall be
The swimmer's moment at the whirlpool comes,
But many at that moment will not say
The tide rises, the tide falls,
The twilight darkens, the curlew calls;
Along the sea-sands damp and brown
Fair tree! for thy delightful shade
’Tis just that some return be made;
Sure some return is due from me
Tyger! Tyger! burning bright
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Living, I had no might
To make you hear,
Now, in the inmost night,
I caught this morning morning’s minion, king-
dom of daylight’s dauphin, dapple-dawn-drawn Falcon, in his riding
Of the rolling level underneath him steady air, and striding
The world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers; —
Little we see in Nature that is ours;
These poems, these poems,
these poems, she said, are poems
with no love in them. These are the poems of a man
In view of the fading animals
the proliferation of sewers and fears
They flee from me that sometime did me seek
With naked foot, stalking in my chamber.
I have seen them gentle, tame, and meek,
Thou poem of lost attention and half try,
do you fear more the inner world or outer?
I do not love the self less than the others,
There, Robert, you have kill’d that fly — ,
And should you thousand ages try
The life you’ve taken to supply,
On Turning up in Her Nest with the Plough, November, 1785
Wee, sleeket, cowran, tim’rous beastie,
O, what a panic’s in thy breastie!
When Love with unconfinèd wings
Hovers within my Gates,
And my divine Althea brings
The time you won your town the race
We chaired you through the market-place;
Man and boy stood cheering by,
Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
Helen, thy beauty is to me
Like those Nicéan barks of yore,
That gently, o’er a perfumed sea,
Had we but world enough and time,
This coyness, lady, were no crime.
We would sit down, and think which way
If ever two were one, then surely we.
If ever man were loved by wife, then thee.
If ever wife was happy in a man,
Wife and servant are the same,
But only differ in the name:
For when that fatal knot is tied,
Gather ye rose-buds while ye may,
Old Time is still a-flying;
And this same flower that smiles today
More than a storey high and twice that long,
it looks igneous, the Buhler Versatile 2360,
possessed of the ecology of some hellacious
There are things you have words for, things you do not
have words for. There are words that encompass all your
feelings & words that encompass none. There are feelings
Does the road wind up-hill all the way?
Yes, to the very end.
Will the day’s journey take the whole long day?
About me the night moonless wimples the mountains
wraps ocean land air and mounting
sucks at the stars The city throbbing below
In my body flows the blood of Gallic
Bastille stormers and the soft, gentle
ways of Salish/Cree womanhood.
We wear the mask that grins and lies,
It hides our cheeks and shades our eyes, —
This debt we pay to human guile;
What horror to awake at night
and in the dimness see the light.
Time is white
When I consider how my light is spent,
Ere half my days, in this dark world and wide,
And that one Talent which is death to hide
When I have fears that I may cease to be
Before my pen has gleaned my teeming brain,
Before high-pilèd books, in charactery,
When I was fair and young, then favor graced me.
Of many was I sought their mistress for to be.
But I did scorn them all and answered them therefore:
Rain at Muchalat, rain at Sooke,
And rain, they say, from Yale to Skeena,
And the skid-roads blind, and never a look
When you are old and grey and full of sleep,
And nodding by the fire, take down this book,
And slowly read, and dream of the soft look
Where there’s a wall
there’s a way through a
gate or door. There’s even
Wild Nights — Wild Nights!
Were I with thee
Wild Nights should be
It was down that road he brought me, still
in the trunk of his car. I won’t say it felt right,
but it did feel expected. The way you know
The simple contact with a wooden spoon and the word
recovered itself, began to spread as grass, forced
as it lay sprawling to consider the monument where
You charm’d me not with that fair face
Though it was all divine:
To be another’s is the grace,
From childhood’s hour I have not been
As others were — I have not seen
As others saw — I could not bring
Breathe dust like you breathe wind so strong in your face
little grains of dirt which pock around the cheeks peddling
against a dust-storm coming down a street to the edge of
“Hope” is the thing with feathers —
That perches in the soul —
And sings the tune without the words —