"I do not love you as if you were salt-rose, or topaz,
or the arrow of the carnations the fire shoots off.
I love you as certain dark things are to be loved,
in secret, between the shadow and the soul.
I love you as the plant that never blooms
But carries in itself the light of hidden flowers;
thanks to your love a certain solid fragrance,
risen from the earth, lives darkly in my body.
I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where;
I love you straightforwardly, without complexities or pride.
So I love you because I know no other way
than this: where I does not exist, nor you,
so close that your hand on my chest is my hand,
so close that your eyes close as I fall asleep."
-Sonnet XVII, by Pablo Neruda
Share your favorite passages, and get discussing !
Rabid, I've never read that one before, but it's gorgeous.
How To Build an Owl, by Kathleen Lynch
"1. Decide you must.
2. Develop deep respect
for feather, bone, claw.
3. Place your trembling thumb
where the heart will be:
for one hundred hours watch
so you will know
where to put the first feather.
4. Stay awake forever.
When the bird takes shape
gently pry open its beak
and whisper into it: mouse
5. Let it go."
One of my favourite "modern" poems, I love the rich imagery and the way it conveys what an owl is (particularly "step four")
"Down by the salley gardens my love and I did meet;
She passed the salley gardens with little snow-white feet.
She bid me take love easy, as the leaves grow on the tree;
But I, being young and foolish, with her would not agree.
In a field by the river my love and I did stand,
And on my leaning shoulder she laid her snow-white hand.
She bid me take life easy, as the grass grows on the weirs;
But I was young and foolish, and now am full of tears."
Down By the Salley Gardens, W.B. Yeats.
This is still one of my favourite poems
I Am Not Dead
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 diamond glints of snow;
I am the sunlight on ripened grain;
I am the gentle autumn's rain.
When you awaken in the morning's hush;
I am the swift uplifting rush
of quiet birds encircled flight.
I am the soft star that shines at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry;
I am not there, I did not die.
There's this old Celtic hymn called St. Patricks' Breastplate and most of it is all about going to batle and God and chivalry, but there's one verse that is absolutely beautiful, the first time I read it it made me shiver.
I bind unto myself today
The virtues of the star lit heaven,
The glorious sun’s life giving ray,
The whiteness of the moon at even,
The flashing of the lightning free,
The whirling wind’s tempestuous shocks,
The stable earth, the deep salt sea
Around the old eternal rocks.
I have eaten
that were in
you were probably
they were delicious
and so cold
I love this poem
"Holy Shift! Check out the asymptotes on that mother function!"
Darkness by Lord Byron
"I had a dream, which was not all a dream.
The bright sun was extinguished, and the stars
Did wander darkling in the eternal space,
Rayless, and pathless, and the icy Earth
Swung blind and blackening in the moonless air;
Morn came and went—and came, and brought no day,
And men forgot their passions in the dread
Of this their desolation; and all hearts
Were chilled into a selfish prayer for light:..."
The full poem is much longer, and here's one passage that actually made me a bit teary-eyed:
"The meagre by the meagre were devoured,
Even dogs assailed their masters, all save one,
And he was faithful to a corse, and kept
The birds and beasts and famished men at bay,
Till hunger clung them, or the dropping dead
Lured their lank jaws; himself sought out no food,
But with a piteous and perpetual moan,
And a quick desolate cry, licking the hand
Which answered not with a caress—he died."
Not a cheerful poem by any means, but extremely moving. Interestingly, it's vaguely based on a historical event. Not as apocalyptic as all that, but 1816 (the year it was written) was popularly described as "the year without a summer". Ash from the eruption of Mount Tambora caused global cold, gloom and doom. Nasty stuff!
I've never understood the literary merit of William Carlos Williams, daluved. I feel like the majority of his poems are futile. Then again, the same has been said of E. E. Cummings, who I believe to be an incredible visionary (my second favorite poet, with Pablo Neruda being the first).
"I knew a woman, lovely in her bones,
When small birds sighed, she would sigh back at them;
Ah, when she moved, she moved in more ways than one:
The shapes a bright container can contain!
Of her choice virtues only gods should speak,
Or English poets who grew up on Greek
(I'd have them sing in chorus, cheek to cheek).
How well her wishes went! She stroked my chin,
She taught me Turn, and counter-Turn, and Stand;
She taught me Touch, that undulant white skin:
I nibbled meekly from her proffered hand;
She was the sickle; I, poor I, the rake,
Coming behind her for her pretty sake
(But what prodigious mowing did we make).
Loves like a gander, and adores a goose;
Her full lips pursed, the errant note to seize;
She played it quick, she played it light and loose;
My eyes, they dazzled at her flowing knees;
Her several parts could keep a pure repose,
Or one hip quiver with a mobile nose
(She moved in circles, and those circles moved).
Let seed be grass, and grass turn into hay;
I'm martyr to a motion not my own;
What's freedom for? To know eternity.
I swear she cast a shadow white as stone
But who would count eternity in days?
Those old bones learn to live in her wanton ways
(I measure time by how a body sways)."
-I knew a woman, by Theodore Roethke.
"It’s hard being left behind. I wait for Henry, not knowing where he is, wondering if he’s okay. It’s hard to be the one who stays.
I keep myself busy. Time goes faster that way. I go to sleep alone, and wake up alone. I take walks. I work until I’m tired. I watch the wind play with the trash that’s been under the snow all winter. Everything seems simple. Why is love intensified by absence?
Long ago, men went to sea and women waited for them, standing on the edge of the water, scanning the horizon for the tiny ship. Now I wait for Henry. He vanishes unwillingly, without warning. I wait for him. Each moment that I wait feels like a year, an eternity. Each moment is slow and transparent as glass. Through each moment I can see infinite moments lined up, waiting.
Why has he gone where I cannot follow?"
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-Red Earth & Pouring Rain, by Vikram Chandra
I actually didn't like this book (or this author, really)...at all. But I love this passage. <3
"If a kid asks where rain comes from, I think a cute thing to tell him is ‘God is crying’. And if he asks why God is crying, another cute thing to tell him is ‘Probably because of something you did’."
- Jack Handey, Deep Thoughts
"But more than that, no unloving words were ever spoken, and everything was held up as another small piece of proof that it can be this way: if there is no love in the world, then we will make a new world, and we will give it walls, and we will furnish it with soft, red interiors, from the inside out, and give it a knocker that resonates like a diamond falling to a jeweler's felt so that we should never hear it. Love me, because love doesn't exist, and I have tried everything that does."
"One day you will do awful things for me that you hate. This is what it means to be family."
"When I looked at you, my life made sense. Even the bad things made sense. They were all necessary to make you possible."
"It's the tragedy of loving; you can't love anything more than something you miss."
"When I was a girl, my life was music always getting louder. Everything moved me. A dog following a stranger. That made me feel so much. A calendar showing the wrong month. I could have cried over it. I did. Where the smoke from the chimney ended. How an overturned bottle rested at the edge of the table. I spent my life learning to feel less. Every day I felt less. Is that growing old, or is it something worse? You cannot protect yourself from sadness without protecting yourself from happiness."
And a few from his wife, Nicole Krauss...
"Once upon a time there was a boy who loved a girl, and her laughter was a question he wanted to spend his whole life answering."
"Holding hands is a way to remember how it feels to say nothing together."
"Maybe the first time you saw her you were ten. She was standing in the sun scratching her legs. Or tracing letters in the dirt with a stick. Her hair was being pulled, or she was pulling someone else's hair. And a part of you was drawn to her, and a part of you resisted- wanting to ride off on your bicycle, kick a stone, remain uncomplicated. In the same breath you felt the strength of a man, and a self-pity that made you feel small and hurt. Part of you thought: Please don't look at me. If you don't, I can still turn away. And part of you thought: Look at me."
"Leopold Gursky started dying on August 18th, 1920. He died learning to walk. He died standing at the blackboard. And once, also, carrying a heavy tray. He died practicing a new way to sign his name. Opening a window. Washing his genitals in the bath. He died alone, because he was too embarrassed to phone anyone. Or her died thinking about Alma. Or when he chose not to. Really, there isn't much to say. He was a great writer. He fell in love. It was his life."
"Words... They're innocent, neutral, precise, standing for this, describing that, meaning the other, so if you look after them you can build bridges across incomprehension and chaos. But when they get their corners knocked off, they're no good any more... I don't think writers are sacred, but words are. They deserve respect. If you get the right ones in the right order, you can nudge the world a little or make a poem which children will speak for you when you're dead." –The Real Thing, by Tom Stoppard
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I'll rise.
Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
'Cause I walk like I've got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.
Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I'll rise.
Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops.
Weakened by my soulful cries.
Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don't you take it awful hard
'Cause I laugh like I've got gold mines
Diggin' in my own back yard.
You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I'll rise.
Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I've got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?
Out of the huts of history's shame
Up from a past that's rooted in pain
I'm a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.
Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
Into a daybreak that's wondrously clear
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
-Still I Rise, by Maya Angelou
"I shall have poetry in my life. And adventure. And love, love, love, above all. Love as there has never been in a play. Unbiddable, ungovernable, like a riot in the heart and nothing to be done, come ruin or rapture."
"Whatever became of the moment when one first knew about death? There must have been one, a moment, in childhood, when it first occurred to you that you don't go on forever. It must have been shattering, stamped into one's memory. And yet I can't remember it. It never occurred to me at all. We must be born with an intuition of mortality. Before we know the word for it, before we know that there are words, out we come, bloodied and squalling...with the knowledge that for all the points of the compass, there's only one direction and time is its only measure."
Both from Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead.
Terry Pratchett, Hat Full of Sky.
Not in lone splendour hung aloft the night
And watching, with eternal lids apart,
Like nature's patient, sleepless Eremite,
The moving waters at their priestlike task
Of pure ablution round earth's human shores,
Or gazing on the new soft-fallen mask
Of snow upon the mountains and the moors--
No--yet still stedfast, still unchangeable,
Pillow'd upon my fair love's ripening breast,
To feel for ever its soft fall and swell,
Awake for ever in a sweet unrest,
Still, still to hear her tender-taken breath,
And so live ever--or else swoon to death.
-Bright Star, by John Keats
"Hail to thee, blithe spirit!
Bird thou never wert,
That from Heaven, or near it,
Pourest thy full heart
In profuse strains of unpremeditated art.
Higher still and higher
From the earth thou springest
Like a cloud of fire;
The blue deep thou wingest,
And singing still dost soar, and soaring ever singest.
In the golden lightning
Of the sunken sun,
O'er which clouds are bright'ning,
Thou dost float and run,
Like an unembodied joy whose race is just begun."
-To a Skylark, Percy Bysshe Shelley
I painted my desk based on "To a Skylark"
"I have been one acquainted with the night.
I have walked out in rain - and back in rain.
I have outwalked the furthest city light.
I have looked down the saddest city lane.
I have passed by the watchman on his beat
And dropped my eyes, unwilling to explain.
I have stood still and stopped the sound of feet
When far away an interrupted cry
Came over houses from another street,
But not to call me back or say good-bye;
And further still at an unearthly height,
One luminary clock against the sky
Proclaimed the time was neither wrong nor right.
I have been one acquainted with the night."
-Acquainted with the Night, Robert Frost
My dad's a huge fan of Frost, and he had me to a collage for this poem (he's retired teaching now, so he gives me assignments instead )
"I had too much to write: too many fine and miserable buildings to construct and streets to name and clock towers to set chiming, too many characters to raise up from the dirt like flowers whose petals I peeled down to the intricate frail organs within, too many terrible genetic and fiduciary secrets to dig up and bury and dig up again, too many divorces to grant, heirs to disinherit, trysts to arrange, letters to misdirect into evil hands, innocent children to slay with rheumatic fever, women to leave unfulfilled and hopeless, men to drive to adultery and theft, fires to ignite at the hearts of ancient houses." -Wonder Boys, by Michael Chabon
"If we are to be such nomads with the truth, why do we not make the story more premium than life? It seems to me that we are making the story even inferior… we could give your grandfather two arms, and could make him high-fidelity… it could be perfect and beautiful and funny, and usefully said, as you say… I do not think there are any limits to how excellent we could make life seem." -Everything is Illuminated, by Jonathan Safran Foer
i carry your heart with me, e.e. cummings
i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go,my dear; and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)
no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it's you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you
here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than the soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart
i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)
"Sometimes, I feel the past and the future pressing so hard on either side that there's no room for the present at all." -Brideshead Revisited
"That was the change in her from ten years ago; that, indeed, was her reward, this haunting, magical sadness which spoke straight to the heart and struck silence; it was the completion of her beauty." -Brideshead Revisited
spring when the world is mud-
luscious the little
whistles far and wee
and eddieandbill come
running from marbles and
piracies and it's
when the world is puddle-wonderful
old balloonman whistles
far and wee
and bettyandisbel come dancing
from hop-scotch and jump-rope and
I love the weird spacing and the language that he uses. This poem is actually a lot darker than it seems at first glance, once you get into the analysis- but I personally prefer it when taken at face value, because it conjures up such welcoming imagery.
-Markus Zusak, The Book Thief
"We die containing a richness of lovers and tribes, tastes we have swallowed, bodies we have plunged into and swum up from as if rivers of wisdom, characters we have climbed into as if trees, fears we have hidden in as if caves. I wish for all this to be marked on my body when I am dead. I believe in such cartography- to be marked by nature, not just to label ourselves on a map like the names of rich men and women on buildings. We are communal histories, communal books. We are not owned or monogamous in our taste or experience."
"Her life with others no longer interests him. He wants only her stalking beauty, her theater of expressions. He wants the minute secret reflection between them, the depth of field minimal, their foreignness intimate like two pages of a closed book."
"I want all this marked on my body. Where the real countries are, not boundaries drawn on maps by men. I know you'll come carry me out to the Palace of Winds. That's what I've wanted: to walk in such a place with you. With friends, on an earth without maps. All I've ever wanted was a world without maps."
MOURN not the dead that in the cool earth lie
Dust unto dust
The calm, sweet earth that mothers all who die
As all men must ;
Mourn not your captive comrades who must dwell-
Too strong to strive
Within each steel-bound coffin of a cell,
Buried alive ;
But rather mourn the apathetic throng
The cowed and the meek
Who see the world s great anguish and its wrong
And dare not speak !
“If I never met you, I wouldn't like you. If I didn't like you, I wouldn't love you. If I didn't love you, I wouldn't miss you. But I did, I do, and I will.”
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"My father gave me three pounds last night. He said 'Get your mother something decent, son, it could be the last time'. I certainly wasn't going all the way to town for her, so I went to Mr Cherry's and bought a box of Black Magic, and a card saying 'To a wonderful mother'.
Card manufacturers must think all mothers are wonderful because every single card has 'wonderful' written on it somewhere. I felt like crossing out 'wonderful' and putting 'wanton' in its place, but I didn't. I signed it 'from your son, Adrian'. I gave it to her this morning. She said, 'Adrian, you shouldn't have'. She was right, I shouldn't have."
That's from The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Age 13 3/4. I have all of them. :3
It's really up there with my favourite books ever.
Be THERE or be SQUARE.
Those Images - W.B. Yeats
What if I bade you leave
The cavern of the mind?
There's better exercise
In the sunlight and wind.
I never bade you go
To Moscow or to Rome.
Renounce that drudgery,
Call the Muses home.
Seek those images
That constitute the wild,
The lion and the virgin,
The harlot and the child.
Find in middle air
An eagle on the wing,
Recognise the five
That make the Muses sing.
Love the imagery, and the lyric nature of it.
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