BOARD TALK
The fastest growing tennis discussion forum on the planet.


Post Reply 
Poems that have moved you
Author Message
shawnbm Offline
Up On Cripple Creek
******

Posts: 1,645
Likes Given: 1,738
Likes Received: 884 in 532 posts
Joined: Apr 2013
RE: Poems that have moved you
Yes, Kieran, more Shelley.

Virgil Cane is the name ...
09-Jan-2015 09:51 AM
Find all posts by this user Like Post Quote this message in a reply
1972Murat Offline
Multiple Slam Winner
********

Posts: 8,562
Likes Given: 2,175
Likes Received: 3,197 in 1,871 posts
Joined: Apr 2013
RE: Poems that have moved you
When my father was just wasting away before my eyes with liver disease a couple years back, I had this going in my head almost constantly. He was one of the best and wisest men I have ever known, although I never told him that.


Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on that sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.


Dylan Thomas

11-Jan-2015 12:48 PM
Find all posts by this user Like Post Quote this message in a reply
[-] The following 3 users Like 1972Murat's post:
Kieran (01-11-2015), shawnbm (01-12-2015), tented (01-11-2015)
Kieran Offline
Running around the backhand...
*********

Posts: 11,667
Likes Given: 7,076
Likes Received: 4,634 in 3,059 posts
Joined: Apr 2013
RE: Poems that have moved you
Powerful stuff, Murat, more so with the tragic personal tale. It shows that words have a unique potency...

Approved
11-Jan-2015 01:09 PM
Find all posts by this user Like Post Quote this message in a reply
shawnbm Offline
Up On Cripple Creek
******

Posts: 1,645
Likes Given: 1,738
Likes Received: 884 in 532 posts
Joined: Apr 2013
RE: Poems that have moved you
I woke last night and could not get out of my head Rudyard Kipling's "If-" It was going over and over in my mind (the parts I could recall)

So, I got up this morning and read it through a couple of times. I think I shall frame it for my son for his next birthday. I very much like it and, as many here know, it is quoted in part and on a beam under which the players walk towards Centre Court at the All England Club. I can't type it all here, but surely somebody can do what they do and reproduce it in full on this thread. It is a good one.

Virgil Cane is the name ...
14-Jan-2015 09:46 AM
Find all posts by this user Like Post Quote this message in a reply
shawnbm Offline
Up On Cripple Creek
******

Posts: 1,645
Likes Given: 1,738
Likes Received: 884 in 532 posts
Joined: Apr 2013
RE: Poems that have moved you
Okay, here we go--let's see if Kipling's "If-" is pasted below.

If-

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or, being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise;

If you can dream - and not make dreams your master;
If you can think - and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with triumph and disaster
And treat those two imposters just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with wornout tools;

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breath a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on";

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings - nor lose the common touch;
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run -
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And - which is more - you'll be a Man my son!


YES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I hope you enjoy one of my favorites.

Virgil Cane is the name ...
15-Jan-2015 10:11 AM
Find all posts by this user Like Post Quote this message in a reply
[-] The following 1 user Likes shawnbm's post:
Kieran (01-15-2015)
shawnbm Offline
Up On Cripple Creek
******

Posts: 1,645
Likes Given: 1,738
Likes Received: 884 in 532 posts
Joined: Apr 2013
RE: Poems that have moved you
The poem below is quite renowned in the USA. It is by Robert Frost, and I shared it with my daughter on her 14th birthday a couple of days ago. I hope she re-reads it many times as I have done over the years. It is a superb reflection on one's life and choices made.


The Road Not Taken
By Robert Frost
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Virgil Cane is the name ...
15-Jan-2015 12:32 PM
Find all posts by this user Like Post Quote this message in a reply
[-] The following 1 user Likes shawnbm's post:
Kieran (01-15-2015)
shawnbm Offline
Up On Cripple Creek
******

Posts: 1,645
Likes Given: 1,738
Likes Received: 884 in 532 posts
Joined: Apr 2013
RE: Poems that have moved you
Oh boy--I must stop after unloading the second Robert Frost poem of the day on y'all ("The Tuft of Flowers"). Have to return to my work, whether together or apart! :-) Here it is:


I went to turn the grass once after one
Who mowed it in the dew before the sun.

The dew was gone that made his blade so keen
Before I came to view the levelled scene.

I looked for him behind an isle of trees;
I listened for his whetstone on the breeze.

But he had gone his way, the grass all mown,
And I must be, as he had been,—alone,

As all must be,' I said within my heart,
Whether they work together or apart.'

But as I said it, swift there passed me by
On noiseless wing a 'wildered butterfly,

Seeking with memories grown dim o'er night
Some resting flower of yesterday's delight.

And once I marked his flight go round and round,
As where some flower lay withering on the ground.

And then he flew as far as eye could see,
And then on tremulous wing came back to me.

I thought of questions that have no reply,
And would have turned to toss the grass to dry;

But he turned first, and led my eye to look
At a tall tuft of flowers beside a brook,

A leaping tongue of bloom the scythe had spared
Beside a reedy brook the scythe had bared.

I left my place to know them by their name,
Finding them butterfly weed when I came.

The mower in the dew had loved them thus,
By leaving them to flourish, not for us,

Nor yet to draw one thought of ours to him.
But from sheer morning gladness at the brim.

The butterfly and I had lit upon,
Nevertheless, a message from the dawn,

That made me hear the wakening birds around,
And hear his long scythe whispering to the ground,

And feel a spirit kindred to my own;
So that henceforth I worked no more alone;

But glad with him, I worked as with his aid,
And weary, sought at noon with him the shade;

And dreaming, as it were, held brotherly speech
With one whose thought I had not hoped to reach.

Men work together,' I told him from the heart,
Whether they work together or apart.'

Virgil Cane is the name ...
15-Jan-2015 12:39 PM
Find all posts by this user Like Post Quote this message in a reply
[-] The following 1 user Likes shawnbm's post:
Kieran (01-15-2015)
Kieran Offline
Running around the backhand...
*********

Posts: 11,667
Likes Given: 7,076
Likes Received: 4,634 in 3,059 posts
Joined: Apr 2013
RE: Poems that have moved you
They're beauties, Shawn, and another American poet I'm unfamiliar with. I know his name, but that's all. The American poet I would be most familiar with is Emily Dickinson. And like your poems above, there's a strong sense of narrative and mood in her poems...

Approved
15-Jan-2015 06:24 PM
Find all posts by this user Like Post Quote this message in a reply
shawnbm Offline
Up On Cripple Creek
******

Posts: 1,645
Likes Given: 1,738
Likes Received: 884 in 532 posts
Joined: Apr 2013
RE: Poems that have moved you
Well, Kieran, I can send more Robert Frost tomorrow morning, and it's worth the wait--trust me

Virgil Cane is the name ...
15-Jan-2015 09:28 PM
Find all posts by this user Like Post Quote this message in a reply
[-] The following 1 user Likes shawnbm's post:
Kieran (01-16-2015)
TsarMatt Offline
Major Winner
******

Posts: 1,081
Likes Given: 544
Likes Received: 623 in 353 posts
Joined: Jan 2014
RE: Poems that have moved you
Far from a moving poem, but definitely a dark and dejecting one from Sylvia Plath:

You do not do, you do not do
Any more, black shoe
In which I have lived like a foot
For thirty years, poor and white,
Barely daring to breathe or Achoo.

Daddy, I have had to kill you.
You died before I had time——
Marble-heavy, a bag full of God,
Ghastly statue with one gray toe
Big as a Frisco seal

And a head in the freakish Atlantic
Where it pours bean green over blue
In the waters off beautiful Nauset.
I used to pray to recover you.
Ach, du.

In the German tongue, in the Polish town
Scraped flat by the roller
Of wars, wars, wars.
But the name of the town is common.
My Polack friend

Says there are a dozen or two.
So I never could tell where you
Put your foot, your root,
I never could talk to you.
The tongue stuck in my jaw.

It stuck in a barb wire snare.
Ich, ich, ich, ich,
I could hardly speak.
I thought every German was you.
And the language obscene

An engine, an engine
Chuffing me off like a Jew.
A Jew to Dachau, Auschwitz, Belsen.
I began to talk like a Jew.
I think I may well be a Jew.

The snows of the Tyrol, the clear beer of Vienna
Are not very pure or true.
With my gipsy ancestress and my weird luck
And my Taroc pack and my Taroc pack
I may be a bit of a Jew.

I have always been scared of you,
With your Luftwaffe, your gobbledygoo.
And your neat mustache
And your Aryan eye, bright blue.
Panzer-man, panzer-man, O You——

Not God but a swastika
So black no sky could squeak through.
Every woman adores a Fascist,
The boot in the face, the brute
Brute heart of a brute like you.

You stand at the blackboard, daddy,
In the picture I have of you,
A cleft in your chin instead of your foot
But no less a devil for that, no not
Any less the black man who

Bit my pretty red heart in two.
I was ten when they buried you.
At twenty I tried to die
And get back, back, back to you.
I thought even the bones would do.

But they pulled me out of the sack,
And they stuck me together with glue.
And then I knew what to do.
I made a model of you,
A man in black with a Meinkampf look

And a love of the rack and the screw.
And I said I do, I do.
So daddy, Iâ€m finally through.
The black telephoneâ€s off at the root,
The voices just canâ€t worm through.

If Iâ€ve killed one man, Iâ€ve killed two——
The vampire who said he was you
And drank my blood for a year,
Seven years, if you want to know.
Daddy, you can lie back now.

Thereâ€s a stake in your fat black heart
And the villagers never liked you.
They are dancing and stamping on you.
They always knew it was you.
Daddy, daddy, you bastard, Iâ€m through.
16-Jan-2015 07:40 AM
Find all posts by this user Like Post Quote this message in a reply
[-] The following 1 user Likes TsarMatt's post:
Kieran (01-16-2015)
Kieran Offline
Running around the backhand...
*********

Posts: 11,667
Likes Given: 7,076
Likes Received: 4,634 in 3,059 posts
Joined: Apr 2013
RE: Poems that have moved you
Strong stuff, Matt. It would make a great song too, in the right hands...

Approved
16-Jan-2015 07:53 AM
Find all posts by this user Like Post Quote this message in a reply
[-] The following 1 user Likes Kieran's post:
TsarMatt (01-16-2015)
shawnbm Offline
Up On Cripple Creek
******

Posts: 1,645
Likes Given: 1,738
Likes Received: 884 in 532 posts
Joined: Apr 2013
RE: Poems that have moved you
Sylvia wrote like few ever have--vicious and biting with her pen at times.

Virgil Cane is the name ...
16-Jan-2015 10:11 AM
Find all posts by this user Like Post Quote this message in a reply
[-] The following 2 users Like shawnbm's post:
Kieran (01-16-2015), TsarMatt (01-16-2015)
Kieran Offline
Running around the backhand...
*********

Posts: 11,667
Likes Given: 7,076
Likes Received: 4,634 in 3,059 posts
Joined: Apr 2013
RE: Poems that have moved you
One poem that knocked me over in my calf years wasThe Ballad of Reading Gaol by Oscar Wilde. You can read it in the link, unfortunately I'm unable to copy it whole into the thread, but it's worth a glance.

He deepened and darkened in jail, and both this poem and the letter to his lover Bosie - De Profundis - are my favourite works of Wilde. I read somewhere that he based this on the structure of the Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner. Not sure how that works. It was the only major work he completed after being released from prison. That whole part of his life is a scandal and tragedy, and the poem is a marvel...

Approved
16-Jan-2015 10:53 AM
Find all posts by this user Like Post Quote this message in a reply
tented Offline
Potential GOAT
*********

Posts: 11,618
Likes Given: 4,705
Likes Received: 3,392 in 2,108 posts
Joined: Apr 2013
RE: Poems that have moved you
Here you go, Kieran:



The Ballad of Reading Gaol
Oscar Wilde

I

He did not wear his scarlet coat,
For blood and wine are red,
And blood and wine were on his hands
When they found him with the dead,
The poor dead woman whom he loved,
And murdered in her bed.

He walked amongst the Trial Men
In a suit of shabby grey;
A cricket cap was on his head,
And his step seemed light and gay;
But I never saw a man who looked
So wistfully at the day.

I never saw a man who looked
With such a wistful eye
Upon that little tent of blue
Which prisoners call the sky,
And at every drifting cloud that went
With sails of silver by.

I walked, with other souls in pain,
Within another ring,
And was wondering if the man had done
A great or little thing,
When a voice behind me whispered low,
“That fellows got to swing.”

Dear Christ! the very prison walls
Suddenly seemed to reel,
And the sky above my head became
Like a casque of scorching steel;
And, though I was a soul in pain,
My pain I could not feel.

I only knew what hunted thought
Quickened his step, and why
He looked upon the garish day
With such a wistful eye;
The man had killed the thing he loved
And so he had to die.

Yet each man kills the thing he loves
By each let this be heard,
Some do it with a bitter look,
Some with a flattering word,
The coward does it with a kiss,
The brave man with a sword!

Some kill their love when they are young,
And some when they are old;
Some strangle with the hands of Lust,
Some with the hands of Gold:
The kindest use a knife, because
The dead so soon grow cold.

Some love too little, some too long,
Some sell, and others buy;
Some do the deed with many tears,
And some without a sigh:
For each man kills the thing he loves,
Yet each man does not die.

He does not die a death of shame
On a day of dark disgrace,
Nor have a noose about his neck,
Nor a cloth upon his face,
Nor drop feet foremost through the floor
Into an empty place

He does not sit with silent men
Who watch him night and day;
Who watch him when he tries to weep,
And when he tries to pray;
Who watch him lest himself should rob
The prison of its prey.

He does not wake at dawn to see
Dread figures throng his room,
The shivering Chaplain robed in white,
The Sheriff stern with gloom,
And the Governor all in shiny black,
With the yellow face of Doom.

He does not rise in piteous haste
To put on convict-clothes,
While some coarse-mouthed Doctor gloats, and notes
Each new and nerve-twitched pose,
Fingering a watch whose little ticks
Are like horrible hammer-blows.

He does not know that sickening thirst
That sands oneâ€s throat, before
The hangman with his gardenerâ€s gloves
Slips through the padded door,
And binds one with three leathern thongs,
That the throat may thirst no more.

He does not bend his head to hear
The Burial Office read,
Nor, while the terror of his soul
Tells him he is not dead,
Cross his own coffin, as he moves
Into the hideous shed.

He does not stare upon the air
Through a little roof of glass;
He does not pray with lips of clay
For his agony to pass;
Nor feel upon his shuddering cheek
The kiss of Caiaphas.


II

Six weeks our guardsman walked the yard,
In a suit of shabby grey:
His cricket cap was on his head,
And his step seemed light and gay,
But I never saw a man who looked
So wistfully at the day.

I never saw a man who looked
With such a wistful eye
Upon that little tent of blue
Which prisoners call the sky,
And at every wandering cloud that trailed
Its raveled fleeces by.

He did not wring his hands, as do
Those witless men who dare
To try to rear the changeling Hope
In the cave of black Despair:
He only looked upon the sun,
And drank the morning air.

He did not wring his hands nor weep,
Nor did he peek or pine,
But he drank the air as though it held
Some healthful anodyne;
With open mouth he drank the sun
As though it had been wine!

And I and all the souls in pain,
Who tramped the other ring,
Forgot if we ourselves had done
A great or little thing,
And watched with gaze of dull amaze
The man who had to swing.

And strange it was to see him pass
With a step so light and gay,
And strange it was to see him look
So wistfully at the day,
And strange it was to think that he
Had such a debt to pay.

For oak and elm have pleasant leaves
That in the spring-time shoot:
But grim to see is the gallows-tree,
With its adder-bitten root,
And, green or dry, a man must die
Before it bears its fruit!

The loftiest place is that seat of grace
For which all worldlings try:
But who would stand in hempen band
Upon a scaffold high,
And through a murdererâ€s collar take
His last look at the sky?

It is sweet to dance to violins
When Love and Life are fair:
To dance to flutes, to dance to lutes
Is delicate and rare:
But it is not sweet with nimble feet
To dance upon the air!

So with curious eyes and sick surmise
We watched him day by day,
And wondered if each one of us
Would end the self-same way,
For none can tell to what red Hell
His sightless soul may stray.

At last the dead man walked no more
Amongst the Trial Men,
And I knew that he was standing up
In the black dockâ€s dreadful pen,
And that never would I see his face
In Godâ€s sweet world again.

Like two doomed ships that pass in storm
We had crossed each otherâ€s way:
But we made no sign, we said no word,
We had no word to say;
For we did not meet in the holy night,
But in the shameful day.

A prison wall was round us both,
Two outcast men were we:
The world had thrust us from its heart,
And God from out His care:
And the iron gin that waits for Sin
Had caught us in its snare.


III

In Debtors†Yard the stones are hard,
And the dripping wall is high,
So it was there he took the air
Beneath the leaden sky,
And by each side a Warder walked,
For fear the man might die.

Or else he sat with those who watched
His anguish night and day;
Who watched him when he rose to weep,
And when he crouched to pray;
Who watched him lest himself should rob
Their scaffold of its prey.

The Governor was strong upon
The Regulations Act:
The Doctor said that Death was but
A scientific fact:
And twice a day the Chaplain called
And left a little tract.

And twice a day he smoked his pipe,
And drank his quart of beer:
His soul was resolute, and held
No hiding-place for fear;
He often said that he was glad
The hangmanâ€s hands were near.

But why he said so strange a thing
No Warder dared to ask:
For he to whom a watcherâ€s doom
Is given as his task,
Must set a lock upon his lips,
And make his face a mask.

Or else he might be moved, and try
To comfort or console:
And what should Human Pity do
Pent up in Murderers†Hole?
What word of grace in such a place
Could help a brotherâ€s soul?

With slouch and swing around the ring
We trod the Foolâ€s Parade!
We did not care: we knew we were
The Devilâ€s Own Brigade:
And shaven head and feet of lead
Make a merry masquerade.

We tore the tarry rope to shreds
With blunt and bleeding nails;
We rubbed the doors, and scrubbed the floors,
And cleaned the shining rails:
And, rank by rank, we soaped the plank,
And clattered with the pails.

We sewed the sacks, we broke the stones,
We turned the dusty drill:
We banged the tins, and bawled the hymns,
And sweated on the mill:
But in the heart of every man
Terror was lying still.

So still it lay that every day
Crawled like a weed-clogged wave:
And we forgot the bitter lot
That waits for fool and knave,
Till once, as we tramped in from work,
We passed an open grave.

With yawning mouth the yellow hole
Gaped for a living thing;
The very mud cried out for blood
To the thirsty asphalte ring:
And we knew that ere one dawn grew fair
Some prisoner had to swing.

Right in we went, with soul intent
On Death and Dread and Doom:
The hangman, with his little bag,
Went shuffling through the gloom
And each man trembled as he crept
Into his numbered tomb.

That night the empty corridors
Were full of forms of Fear,
And up and down the iron town
Stole feet we could not hear,
And through the bars that hide the stars
White faces seemed to peer.

He lay as one who lies and dreams
In a pleasant meadow-land,
The watcher watched him as he slept,
And could not understand
How one could sleep so sweet a sleep
With a hangman close at hand?

But there is no sleep when men must weep
Who never yet have wept:
So we—the fool, the fraud, the knave—
That endless vigil kept,
And through each brain on hands of pain
Anotherâ€s terror crept.

Alas! it is a fearful thing
To feel anotherâ€s guilt!
For, right within, the sword of Sin
Pierced to its poisoned hilt,
And as molten lead were the tears we shed
For the blood we had not spilt.

The Warders with their shoes of felt
Crept by each padlocked door,
And peeped and saw, with eyes of awe,
Grey figures on the floor,
And wondered why men knelt to pray
Who never prayed before.

All through the night we knelt and prayed,
Mad mourners of a corpse!
The troubled plumes of midnight were
The plumes upon a hearse:
And bitter wine upon a sponge
Was the savior of Remorse.

The cock crew, the red cock crew,
But never came the day:
And crooked shape of Terror crouched,
In the corners where we lay:
And each evil sprite that walks by night
Before us seemed to play.

They glided past, they glided fast,
Like travelers through a mist:
They mocked the moon in a rigadoon
Of delicate turn and twist,
And with formal pace and loathsome grace
The phantoms kept their tryst.

With mop and mow, we saw them go,
Slim shadows hand in hand:
About, about, in ghostly rout
They trod a saraband:
And the damned grotesques made arabesques,
Like the wind upon the sand!

With the pirouettes of marionettes,
They tripped on pointed tread:
But with flutes of Fear they filled the ear,
As their grisly masque they led,
And loud they sang, and loud they sang,
For they sang to wake the dead.

“Oho!” they cried, “The world is wide,
But fettered limbs go lame!
And once, or twice, to throw the dice
Is a gentlemanly game,
But he does not win who plays with Sin
In the secret House of Shame.”

No things of air these antics were
That frolicked with such glee:
To men whose lives were held in gyves,
And whose feet might not go free,
Ah! wounds of Christ! they were living things,
Most terrible to see.

Around, around, they waltzed and wound;
Some wheeled in smirking pairs:
With the mincing step of demirep
Some sidled up the stairs:
And with subtle sneer, and fawning leer,
Each helped us at our prayers.

The morning wind began to moan,
But still the night went on:
Through its giant loom the web of gloom
Crept till each thread was spun:
And, as we prayed, we grew afraid
Of the Justice of the Sun.

The moaning wind went wandering round
The weeping prison-wall:
Till like a wheel of turning-steel
We felt the minutes crawl:
O moaning wind! what had we done
To have such a seneschal?

At last I saw the shadowed bars
Like a lattice wrought in lead,
Move right across the whitewashed wall
That faced my three-plank bed,
And I knew that somewhere in the world
Godâ€s dreadful dawn was red.

At six oâ€clock we cleaned our cells,
At seven all was still,
But the sough and swing of a mighty wing
The prison seemed to fill,
For the Lord of Death with icy breath
Had entered in to kill.

He did not pass in purple pomp,
Nor ride a moon-white steed.
Three yards of cord and a sliding board
Are all the gallows†need:
So with rope of shame the Herald came
To do the secret deed.

We were as men who through a fen
Of filthy darkness grope:
We did not dare to breathe a prayer,
Or give our anguish scope:
Something was dead in each of us,
And what was dead was Hope.

For Manâ€s grim Justice goes its way,
And will not swerve aside:
It slays the weak, it slays the strong,
It has a deadly stride:
With iron heel it slays the strong,
The monstrous parricide!

We waited for the stroke of eight:
Each tongue was thick with thirst:
For the stroke of eight is the stroke of Fate
That makes a man accursed,
And Fate will use a running noose
For the best man and the worst.

We had no other thing to do,
Save to wait for the sign to come:
So, like things of stone in a valley lone,
Quiet we sat and dumb:
But each manâ€s heart beat thick and quick
Like a madman on a drum!

With sudden shock the prison-clock
Smote on the shivering air,
And from all the gaol rose up a wail
Of impotent despair,
Like the sound that frightened marshes hear
From a leper in his lair.

And as one sees most fearful things
In the crystal of a dream,
We saw the greasy hempen rope
Hooked to the blackened beam,
And heard the prayer the hangmanâ€s snare
Strangled into a scream.

And all the woe that moved him so
That he gave that bitter cry,
And the wild regrets, and the bloody sweats,
None knew so well as I:
For he who lives more lives than one
More deaths than one must die.


IV

There is no chapel on the day
On which they hang a man:
The Chaplainâ€s heart is far too sick,
Or his face is far too wan,
Or there is that written in his eyes
Which none should look upon.

So they kept us close till nigh on noon,
And then they rang the bell,
And the Warders with their jingling keys
Opened each listening cell,
And down the iron stair we tramped,
Each from his separate Hell.

Out into Godâ€s sweet air we went,
But not in wonted way,
For this manâ€s face was white with fear,
And that manâ€s face was grey,
And I never saw sad men who looked
So wistfully at the day.

I never saw sad men who looked
With such a wistful eye
Upon that little tent of blue
We prisoners called the sky,
And at every careless cloud that passed
In happy freedom by.

But there were those amongst us all
Who walked with downcast head,
And knew that, had each got his due,
They should have died instead:
He had but killed a thing that lived
Whilst they had killed the dead.

For he who sins a second time
Wakes a dead soul to pain,
And draws it from its spotted shroud,
And makes it bleed again,
And makes it bleed great gouts of blood
And makes it bleed in vain!

Like ape or clown, in monstrous garb
With crooked arrows starred,
Silently we went round and round
The slippery asphalte yard;
Silently we went round and round,
And no man spoke a word.

Silently we went round and round,
And through each hollow mind
The memory of dreadful things
Rushed like a dreadful wind,
And Horror stalked before each man,
And terror crept behind.

The Warders strutted up and down,
And kept their herd of brutes,
Their uniforms were spick and span,
And they wore their Sunday suits,
But we knew the work they had been at
By the quicklime on their boots.

For where a grave had opened wide,
There was no grave at all:
Only a stretch of mud and sand
By the hideous prison-wall,
And a little heap of burning lime,
That the man should have his pall.

For he has a pall, this wretched man,
Such as few men can claim:
Deep down below a prison-yard,
Naked for greater shame,
He lies, with fetters on each foot,
Wrapt in a sheet of flame!

And all the while the burning lime
Eats flesh and bone away,
It eats the brittle bone by night,
And the soft flesh by the day,
It eats the flesh and bones by turns,
But it eats the heart alway.

For three long years they will not sow
Or root or seedling there:
For three long years the unblessed spot
Will sterile be and bare,
And look upon the wondering sky
With unreproachful stare.

They think a murdererâ€s heart would taint
Each simple seed they sow.
It is not true! Godâ€s kindly earth
Is kindlier than men know,
And the red rose would but blow more red,
The white rose whiter blow.

Out of his mouth a red, red rose!
Out of his heart a white!
For who can say by what strange way,
Christ brings his will to light,
Since the barren staff the pilgrim bore
Bloomed in the great Popeâ€s sight?

But neither milk-white rose nor red
May bloom in prison air;
The shard, the pebble, and the flint,
Are what they give us there:
For flowers have been known to heal
A common manâ€s despair.

So never will wine-red rose or white,
Petal by petal, fall
On that stretch of mud and sand that lies
By the hideous prison-wall,
To tell the men who tramp the yard
That Godâ€s Son died for all.

Yet though the hideous prison-wall
Still hems him round and round,
And a spirit man not walk by night
That is with fetters bound,
And a spirit may not weep that lies
In such unholy ground,

He is at peace—this wretched man—
At peace, or will be soon:
There is no thing to make him mad,
Nor does Terror walk at noon,
For the lampless Earth in which he lies
Has neither Sun nor Moon.

They hanged him as a beast is hanged:
They did not even toll
A reguiem that might have brought
Rest to his startled soul,
But hurriedly they took him out,
And hid him in a hole.

They stripped him of his canvas clothes,
And gave him to the flies;
They mocked the swollen purple throat
And the stark and staring eyes:
And with laughter loud they heaped the shroud
In which their convict lies.

The Chaplain would not kneel to pray
By his dishonored grave:
Nor mark it with that blessed Cross
That Christ for sinners gave,
Because the man was one of those
Whom Christ came down to save.

Yet all is well; he has but passed
To Lifeâ€s appointed bourne:
And alien tears will fill for him
Pityâ€s long-broken urn,
For his mourner will be outcast men,
And outcasts always mourn.


V

I know not whether Laws be right,
Or whether Laws be wrong;
All that we know who lie in gaol
Is that the wall is strong;
And that each day is like a year,
A year whose days are long.

But this I know, that every Law
That men have made for Man,
Since first Man took his brotherâ€s life,
And the sad world began,
But straws the wheat and saves the chaff
With a most evil fan.

This too I know—and wise it were
If each could know the same—
That every prison that men build
Is built with bricks of shame,
And bound with bars lest Christ should see
How men their brothers maim.

With bars they blur the gracious moon,
And blind the goodly sun:
And they do well to hide their Hell,
For in it things are done
That Son of God nor son of Man
Ever should look upon!

The vilest deeds like poison weeds
Bloom well in prison-air:
It is only what is good in Man
That wastes and withers there:
Pale Anguish keeps the heavy gate,
And the Warder is Despair

For they starve the little frightened child
Till it weeps both night and day:
And they scourge the weak, and flog the fool,
And gibe the old and grey,
And some grow mad, and all grow bad,
And none a word may say.

Each narrow cell in which we dwell
Is foul and dark latrine,
And the fetid breath of living Death
Chokes up each grated screen,
And all, but Lust, is turned to dust
In Humanityâ€s machine.

The brackish water that we drink
Creeps with a loathsome slime,
And the bitter bread they weigh in scales
Is full of chalk and lime,
And Sleep will not lie down, but walks
Wild-eyed and cries to Time.

But though lean Hunger and green Thirst
Like asp with adder fight,
We have little care of prison fare,
For what chills and kills outright
Is that every stone one lifts by day
Becomes oneâ€s heart by night.

With midnight always in oneâ€s heart,
And twilight in oneâ€s cell,
We turn the crank, or tear the rope,
Each in his separate Hell,
And the silence is more awful far
Than the sound of a brazen bell.

And never a human voice comes near
To speak a gentle word:
And the eye that watches through the door
Is pitiless and hard:
And by all forgot, we rot and rot,
With soul and body marred.

And thus we rust Lifeâ€s iron chain
Degraded and alone:
And some men curse, and some men weep,
And some men make no moan:
But Godâ€s eternal Laws are kind
And break the heart of stone.

And every human heart that breaks,
In prison-cell or yard,
Is as that broken box that gave
Its treasure to the Lord,
And filled the unclean leperâ€s house
With the scent of costliest nard.

Ah! happy day they whose hearts can break
And peace of pardon win!
How else may man make straight his plan
And cleanse his soul from Sin?
How else but through a broken heart
May Lord Christ enter in?

And he of the swollen purple throat.
And the stark and staring eyes,
Waits for the holy hands that took
The Thief to Paradise;
And a broken and a contrite heart
The Lord will not despise.

The man in red who reads the Law
Gave him three weeks of life,
Three little weeks in which to heal
His soul of his soulâ€s strife,
And cleanse from every blot of blood
The hand that held the knife.

And with tears of blood he cleansed the hand,
The hand that held the steel:
For only blood can wipe out blood,
And only tears can heal:
And the crimson stain that was of Cain
Became Christâ€s snow-white seal.


VI

In Reading gaol by Reading town
There is a pit of shame,
And in it lies a wretched man
Eaten by teeth of flame,
In burning winding-sheet he lies,
And his grave has got no name.

And there, till Christ call forth the dead,
In silence let him lie:
No need to waste the foolish tear,
Or heave the windy sigh:
The man had killed the thing he loved,
And so he had to die.

And all men kill the thing they love,
By all let this be heard,
Some do it with a bitter look,
Some with a flattering word,
The coward does it with a kiss,
The brave man with a sword!
16-Jan-2015 04:39 PM
Find all posts by this user Like Post Quote this message in a reply
Kieran Offline
Running around the backhand...
*********

Posts: 11,667
Likes Given: 7,076
Likes Received: 4,634 in 3,059 posts
Joined: Apr 2013
RE: Poems that have moved you
Cheers, T! Isn't it wonderful? It's long, but it flows. It has a killer shape in the verse, and it's a sorry tale, but one that's true. I love his style, the erudition, compassion, the scope of it. I would have copied it in earlier but was on the phone, so thanks!

Approved
16-Jan-2015 05:52 PM
Find all posts by this user Like Post Quote this message in a reply
Kieran Offline
Running around the backhand...
*********

Posts: 11,667
Likes Given: 7,076
Likes Received: 4,634 in 3,059 posts
Joined: Apr 2013
RE: Poems that have moved you
I read this one - The Scribes - by Seamus Heaney, the other day. It's from one of his poetry books, Sweeney Redevivus. I'm not sure what the poem is about, exactly, but I like its strength and its defiance, as well as its tinge of swagger:

The Scribes

I never warmed to them.
If they were excellent they were petulant
and jaggy as the holly tree
they rendered down for ink.
And if I never belonged among them,
they could never deny me my place.

In the hush of the scriptorium
a black pearl kept gathering in them
like the old dry glut inside their quills.
In the margin of the text of praise
they scratched and clawed.
They snarled if the day was dark
or too much chalk had made their vellum bland
or too little left it oily.

Under the rumps of lettering
they herded myopic angers.
Resentment seeded in the uncurling
fernheads of their capitals.

Now and again I started up
miles away and saw in my absence
the sloped cursive of each back and felt them
perfect themselves against me page by page.

Let them remember this not inconsiderable
contribution to their jealous art.

Approved
30-Jan-2015 02:09 PM
Find all posts by this user Like Post Quote this message in a reply
Moxie629 Offline
Multiple Slam Winner
********

Posts: 9,429
Likes Given: 3,414
Likes Received: 2,277 in 1,599 posts
Joined: Apr 2013
RE: Poems that have moved you
This one by Billy Collins is working for me, of late:

The Dead

The dead are always looking down on us, they say.
while we are putting on our shoes or making a sandwich,
they are looking down through the glass bottom boats of heaven
as they row themselves slowly through eternity.


They watch the tops of our heads moving below on earth,
and when we lie down in a field or on a couch,
drugged perhaps by the hum of a long afternoon,
they think we are looking back at them,
which makes them lift their oars and fall silent
and wait, like parents, for us to close our eyes.
16-Apr-2015 11:49 PM
Find all posts by this user Like Post Quote this message in a reply
[-] The following 2 users Like Moxie629's post:
Kieran (04-17-2015), shawnbm (04-17-2015)
Moxie629 Offline
Multiple Slam Winner
********

Posts: 9,429
Likes Given: 3,414
Likes Received: 2,277 in 1,599 posts
Joined: Apr 2013
RE: Poems that have moved you
And this one, probably more:

The Wires of the Night
BY BILLY COLLINS
I thought about his death for so many hours,
tangled there in the wires of the night,
that it came to have a body and dimensions,
more than a voice shaking over the telephone
or the black obituary boldface of name and dates.

His death now had an entrance and an exit,
doors and stairs,
windows and shutters which are the motionless wings
of windows. His death had a head and clothes,
the white shirt and baggy trousers of death.

His death had pages, a dark leather cover, an index,
and the print was too minuscule for anyone to read.
His death had hinges and bolts that were oiled
and locked,
had a loud motor, four tires, an antenna that listened
to the wind, and a mirror in which you could see the past.

His death had sockets and keys, it had walls and beams.
It had a handle which you could not hold and a floor
you could not lie down on in the middle of the night.

In the freakish pink and gray of dawn I took
his death to bed with me and his death was my bed
and in every corner of the room it hid from the light,

and then it was the light of day and the next day
and all the days to follow, and it moved into the future
like the sharp tip of a pen moving across an empty page.
17-Apr-2015 12:41 AM
Find all posts by this user Like Post Quote this message in a reply
[-] The following 2 users Like Moxie629's post:
Kieran (04-17-2015), shawnbm (04-17-2015)
Kieran Offline
Running around the backhand...
*********

Posts: 11,667
Likes Given: 7,076
Likes Received: 4,634 in 3,059 posts
Joined: Apr 2013
RE: Poems that have moved you
Unbelievable poems, Moxie, very moving...

Approved
17-Apr-2015 09:17 AM
Find all posts by this user Like Post Quote this message in a reply
[-] The following 1 user Likes Kieran's post:
Moxie629 (04-17-2015)
shawnbm Offline
Up On Cripple Creek
******

Posts: 1,645
Likes Given: 1,738
Likes Received: 884 in 532 posts
Joined: Apr 2013
RE: Poems that have moved you
I agree with Kieran--love the last three lines of The Wires of the Night. Exquisite stuff--"Like the sharp tip of a pen moving across an empty page."

Virgil Cane is the name ...
17-Apr-2015 11:09 AM
Find all posts by this user Like Post Quote this message in a reply
[-] The following 2 users Like shawnbm's post:
Kieran (04-17-2015), Moxie629 (04-17-2015)
Post Reply 




User(s) browsing this thread: 1 Guest(s)