The Wild Swans at Coole

W. B. Yeats, 1865 – 1939

The trees are in their autumn beauty,	 
The woodland paths are dry,	 
Under the October twilight the water	 
Mirrors a still sky;	 
Upon the brimming water among the stones	         
Are nine and fifty swans.	 
The nineteenth Autumn has come upon me	 
Since I first made my count;	 
I saw, before I had well finished,	 
All suddenly mount	  
And scatter wheeling in great broken rings	 
Upon their clamorous wings.	 
I have looked upon those brilliant creatures,	 
And now my heart is sore.	 
All’s changed since I, hearing at twilight,	  
The first time on this shore,	 
The bell-beat of their wings above my head,	 
Trod with a lighter tread.	 
Unwearied still, lover by lover,	 
They paddle in the cold,	  
Companionable streams or climb the air;	 
Their hearts have not grown old;	 
Passion or conquest, wander where they will,	 
Attend upon them still.	 
But now they drift on the still water	  
Mysterious, beautiful;	 
Among what rushes will they build,	 
By what lake’s edge or pool	 
Delight men’s eyes, when I awake some day	 
To find they have flown away?

Wild Swans

Edna St. Vincent Millay, 1892 – 1950

I looked in my heart while the wild swans went over.
  And what did I see I had not seen before?
  Only a question less or a question more;
Nothing to match the flight of wild birds flying.
Tiresome heart, forever living and dying,
  House without air, I leave you and lock your door.
Wild swans, come over the town, come over
The town again, trailing your legs and crying!

Ode to a Nightingale

John Keats, 1795 – 1821

My heart aches, and a drowsy numbness pains  
  My sense, as though of hemlock I had drunk,  
Or emptied some dull opiate to the drains  
  One minute past, and Lethe-wards had sunk:  
‘Tis not through envy of thy happy lot,
  But being too happy in thine happiness,—  
    That thou, light-winged Dryad of the trees,  
          In some melodious plot  
  Of beechen green, and shadows numberless,  
    Singest of summer in full-throated ease.

O, for a draught of vintage! that hath been  
  Cool’d a long age in the deep-delved earth,  
Tasting of Flora and the country green,  
  Dance, and Provencal song, and sunburnt mirth!  
O for a beaker full of the warm South,
  Full of the true, the blushful Hippocrene,  
    With beaded bubbles winking at the brim,  
          And purple-stained mouth;  
  That I might drink, and leave the world unseen,  
    And with thee fade away into the forest dim:

Fade far away, dissolve, and quite forget  
  What thou among the leaves hast never known,  
The weariness, the fever, and the fret  
  Here, where men sit and hear each other groan;  
Where palsy shakes a few, sad, last gray hairs,
  Where youth grows pale, and spectre-thin, and dies;  
    Where but to think is to be full of sorrow  
          And leaden-eyed despairs,  
  Where Beauty cannot keep her lustrous eyes,  
    Or new Love pine at them beyond to-morrow.

Away! away! for I will fly to thee,  
  Not charioted by Bacchus and his pards,  
But on the viewless wings of Poesy,  
  Though the dull brain perplexes and retards:  
Already with thee! tender is the night,
  And haply the Queen-Moon is on her throne,  
    Cluster’d around by all her starry Fays;  
          But here there is no light,  
  Save what from heaven is with the breezes blown  
    Through verdurous glooms and winding mossy ways.

I cannot see what flowers are at my feet,  
  Nor what soft incense hangs upon the boughs,  
But, in embalmed darkness, guess each sweet  
  Wherewith the seasonable month endows  
The grass, the thicket, and the fruit-tree wild;
  White hawthorn, and the pastoral eglantine;  
    Fast fading violets cover’d up in leaves;  
          And mid-May’s eldest child,  
  The coming musk-rose, full of dewy wine,  
    The murmurous haunt of flies on summer eves.

Darkling I listen; and, for many a time  
  I have been half in love with easeful Death,  
Call’d him soft names in many a mused rhyme,  
  To take into the air my quiet breath;  
Now more than ever seems it rich to die,
  To cease upon the midnight with no pain,  
    While thou art pouring forth thy soul abroad  
          In such an ecstasy!  
  Still wouldst thou sing, and I have ears in vain—  
    To thy high requiem become a sod.

Thou wast not born for death, immortal Bird!  
  No hungry generations tread thee down;  
The voice I hear this passing night was heard  
  In ancient days by emperor and clown:  
Perhaps the self-same song that found a path 
  Through the sad heart of Ruth, when, sick for home,  
    She stood in tears amid the alien corn;  
          The same that oft-times hath  
  Charm’d magic casements, opening on the foam  
    Of perilous seas, in faery lands forlorn.   

Forlorn! the very word is like a bell  
  To toil me back from thee to my sole self!  
Adieu! the fancy cannot cheat so well  
  As she is fam’d to do, deceiving elf.  
Adieu! adieu! thy plaintive anthem fades
  Past the near meadows, over the still stream,  
    Up the hill-side; and now ‘tis buried deep  
          In the next valley-glades:  
  Was it a vision, or a waking dream?  
    Fled is that music:—Do I wake or sleep?

Sailing to Byzantium

W. B. Yeats, 1865 – 1939

 That is no country for old men. The young
In one another’s arms, birds in the trees
—Those dying generations—at their song,
The salmon-falls, the mackerel-crowded seas,
Fish, flesh, or fowl, commend all summer long
Whatever is begotten, born, and dies.
Caught in that sensual music all neglect
Monuments of unageing intellect.

An aged man is but a paltry thing,
A tattered coat upon a stick, unless
Soul clap its hands and sing, and louder sing
For every tatter in its mortal dress,
Nor is there singing school but studying
Monuments of its own magnificence;
And therefore I have sailed the seas and come
To the holy city of Byzantium.

O sages standing in God’s holy fire
As in the gold mosaic of a wall,
Come from the holy fire, perne in a gyre,
And be the singing-masters of my soul.
Consume my heart away; sick with desire
And fastened to a dying animal
It knows not what it is; and gather me
Into the artifice of eternity.

Once out of nature I shall never take
My bodily form from any natural thing,
But such a form as Grecian goldsmiths make
Of hammered gold and gold enamelling
To keep a drowsy Emperor awake;
Or set upon a golden bough to sing
To lords and ladies of Byzantium
Of what is past, or passing, or to come.

CCLV. Ode to Autumn

J. Keats
CCLV. Ode to Autumn
SEASON of mists and mellow fruitfulness,	 
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;	 
Conspiring with him how to load and bless	 
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eaves run;	 
To bend with apples the moss'd cottage-trees,	         5
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;	 
To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells	 
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,	 
And still more, later flowers for the bees,	 
Until they think warm days will never cease;	  10
For Summer has o'erbrimm'd their clammy cells.	 
Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?	 
Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find	 
Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,	 
Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind;	  15
Or on a half-reap'd furrow sound asleep,	 
Drowsed with the fume of poppies, while thy hook	 
Spares the next swath and all its twinèd flowers:	 
And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep	 
Steady thy laden head across a brook;	  20
Or by a cyder-press, with patient look,	 
Thou watchest the last oozings, hours by hours.	 
Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they?	 
Think not of them, thou hast thy music too,—	 
While barrèd clouds bloom the soft-dying day	  25
And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue;	 
Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn	 
Among the river-sallows, borne aloft	 
Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;	 
And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn;	  30
Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft	 
The redbreast whistles from a garden-croft;	 
And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.

Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood

William Wordsworth. 1770–1850
536. Ode 
Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood
THERE was a time when meadow, grove, and stream,	 
    The earth, and every common sight,	 
            To me did seem	 
    Apparell'd in celestial light,	 
The glory and the freshness of a dream.	         5
It is not now as it hath been of yore;—	 
        Turn wheresoe'er I may,	 
            By night or day,	 
The things which I have seen I now can see no more.	 
        The rainbow comes and goes,	  10
        And lovely is the rose;	 
        The moon doth with delight	 
    Look round her when the heavens are bare;	 
        Waters on a starry night	 
        Are beautiful and fair;	  15
    The sunshine is a glorious birth;	 
    But yet I know, where'er I go,	 
That there hath pass'd away a glory from the earth.	 
Now, while the birds thus sing a joyous song,	 
    And while the young lambs bound	  20
        As to the tabor's sound,	 
To me alone there came a thought of grief:	 
A timely utterance gave that thought relief,	 
        And I again am strong:	 
The cataracts blow their trumpets from the steep;	  25
No more shall grief of mine the season wrong;	 
I hear the echoes through the mountains throng,	 
The winds come to me from the fields of sleep,	 
        And all the earth is gay;	 
            Land and sea	  30
    Give themselves up to jollity,	 
      And with the heart of May	 
    Doth every beast keep holiday;—	 
          Thou Child of Joy,	 
Shout round me, let me hear thy shouts, thou happy	  35
Ye blessèd creatures, I have heard the call	 
    Ye to each other make; I see	 
The heavens laugh with you in your jubilee;	 
    My heart is at your festival,	  40
      My head hath its coronal,	 
The fulness of your bliss, I feel—I feel it all.	 
        O evil day! if I were sullen	 
        While Earth herself is adorning,	 
            This sweet May-morning,	  45
        And the children are culling	 
            On every side,	 
        In a thousand valleys far and wide,	 
        Fresh flowers; while the sun shines warm,	 
And the babe leaps up on his mother's arm:—	  50
        I hear, I hear, with joy I hear!	 
        —But there's a tree, of many, one,	 
A single field which I have look'd upon,	 
Both of them speak of something that is gone:	 
          The pansy at my feet	  55
          Doth the same tale repeat:	 
Whither is fled the visionary gleam?	 
Where is it now, the glory and the dream?	 
Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting:	 
The Soul that rises with us, our life's Star,	  60
        Hath had elsewhere its setting,	 
          And cometh from afar:	 
        Not in entire forgetfulness,	 
        And not in utter nakedness,	 
But trailing clouds of glory do we come	  65
        From God, who is our home:	 
Heaven lies about us in our infancy!	 
Shades of the prison-house begin to close	 
        Upon the growing Boy,	 
But he beholds the light, and whence it flows,	  70
        He sees it in his joy;	 
The Youth, who daily farther from the east	 
    Must travel, still is Nature's priest,	 
      And by the vision splendid	 
      Is on his way attended;	  75
At length the Man perceives it die away,	 
And fade into the light of common day.	 
Earth fills her lap with pleasures of her own;	 
Yearnings she hath in her own natural kind,	 
And, even with something of a mother's mind,	  80
        And no unworthy aim,	 
    The homely nurse doth all she can	 
To make her foster-child, her Inmate Man,	 
    Forget the glories he hath known,	 
And that imperial palace whence he came.	  85
Behold the Child among his new-born blisses,	 
A six years' darling of a pigmy size!	 
See, where 'mid work of his own hand he lies,	 
Fretted by sallies of his mother's kisses,	 
With light upon him from his father's eyes!	  90
See, at his feet, some little plan or chart,	 
Some fragment from his dream of human life,	 
Shaped by himself with newly-learnèd art;	 
    A wedding or a festival,	 
    A mourning or a funeral;	  95
        And this hath now his heart,	 
    And unto this he frames his song:	 
        Then will he fit his tongue	 
To dialogues of business, love, or strife;	 
        But it will not be long	 100
        Ere this be thrown aside,	 
        And with new joy and pride	 
The little actor cons another part;	 
Filling from time to time his 'humorous stage'	 
With all the Persons, down to palsied Age,	 105
That Life brings with her in her equipage;	 
        As if his whole vocation	 
        Were endless imitation.	 
Thou, whose exterior semblance doth belie	 
        Thy soul's immensity;	 110
Thou best philosopher, who yet dost keep	 
Thy heritage, thou eye among the blind,	 
That, deaf and silent, read'st the eternal deep,	 
Haunted for ever by the eternal mind,—	 
        Mighty prophet! Seer blest!	 115
        On whom those truths do rest,	 
Which we are toiling all our lives to find,	 
In darkness lost, the darkness of the grave;	 
Thou, over whom thy Immortality	 
Broods like the Day, a master o'er a slave,	 120
A presence which is not to be put by;	 
          To whom the grave	 
Is but a lonely bed without the sense or sight	 
        Of day or the warm light,	 
A place of thought where we in waiting lie;	 125
Thou little Child, yet glorious in the might	 
Of heaven-born freedom on thy being's height,	 
Why with such earnest pains dost thou provoke	 
The years to bring the inevitable yoke,	 
Thus blindly with thy blessedness at strife?	 130
Full soon thy soul shall have her earthly freight,	 
And custom lie upon thee with a weight,	 
Heavy as frost, and deep almost as life!	 
        O joy! that in our embers	 
        Is something that doth live,	 135
        That nature yet remembers	 
        What was so fugitive!	 
The thought of our past years in me doth breed	 
Perpetual benediction: not indeed	 
For that which is most worthy to be blest—	 140
Delight and liberty, the simple creed	 
Of childhood, whether busy or at rest,	 
With new-fledged hope still fluttering in his breast:—	 
        Not for these I raise	 
        The song of thanks and praise;	 145
    But for those obstinate questionings	 
    Of sense and outward things,	 
    Fallings from us, vanishings;	 
    Blank misgivings of a Creature	 
Moving about in worlds not realized,	 150
High instincts before which our mortal Nature	 
Did tremble like a guilty thing surprised:	 
        But for those first affections,	 
        Those shadowy recollections,	 
      Which, be they what they may,	 155
Are yet the fountain-light of all our day,	 
Are yet a master-light of all our seeing;	 
  Uphold us, cherish, and have power to make	 
Our noisy years seem moments in the being	 
Of the eternal Silence: truths that wake,	 160
            To perish never:	 
Which neither listlessness, nor mad endeavour,	 
            Nor Man nor Boy,	 
Nor all that is at enmity with joy,	 
Can utterly abolish or destroy!	 165
    Hence in a season of calm weather	 
        Though inland far we be,	 
Our souls have sight of that immortal sea	 
        Which brought us hither,	 
    Can in a moment travel thither,	 170
And see the children sport upon the shore,	 
And hear the mighty waters rolling evermore.	 
Then sing, ye birds, sing, sing a joyous song!	 
        And let the young lambs bound	 
        As to the tabor's sound!	 175
We in thought will join your throng,	 
      Ye that pipe and ye that play,	 
      Ye that through your hearts to-day	 
      Feel the gladness of the May!	 
What though the radiance which was once so bright	 180
Be now for ever taken from my sight,	 
    Though nothing can bring back the hour	 
Of splendour in the grass, of glory in the flower;	 
      We will grieve not, rather find	 
      Strength in what remains behind;	 185
      In the primal sympathy	 
      Which having been must ever be;	 
      In the soothing thoughts that spring	 
      Out of human suffering;	 
      In the faith that looks through death,	 190
In years that bring the philosophic mind.	 
And O ye Fountains, Meadows, Hills, and Groves,	 
Forebode not any severing of our loves!	 
Yet in my heart of hearts I feel your might;	 
I only have relinquish'd one delight	 195
To live beneath your more habitual sway.	 
I love the brooks which down their channels fret,	 
Even more than when I tripp'd lightly as they;	 
The innocent brightness of a new-born Day	 
            Is lovely yet;	 200
The clouds that gather round the setting sun	 
Do take a sober colouring from an eye	 
That hath kept watch o'er man's mortality;	 
Another race hath been, and other palms are won.	 
Thanks to the human heart by which we live,	 205
Thanks to its tenderness, its joys, and fears,	 
To me the meanest flower that blows can give	 
Thoughts that do often lie too deep for tears.

Crossing the Bar

"Crossing the Bar" by Lord Alfred Tennyson

Sunset and evening star,  
  And one clear call for me!  
And may there be no moaning of the bar,  
  When I put out to sea,  
But such a tide as moving seems asleep,  
  Too full for sound and foam,  
When that which drew from out the boundless deep  
  Turns again home.  
Twilight and evening bell,  
  And after that the dark!     
And may there be no sadness of farewell,  
  When I embark;  
For tho’ from out our bourne of Time and Place  
  The flood may bear me far,  
I hope to see my Pilot face to face  
  When I have cross’d the bar. 


"Plums" by Catherine Savage Brosman	
They’re Santa Rosas, crimson, touched by blue,
with slightly mottled skin and amber flesh,
transparently proposing by their hue
the splendor of an August morning, fresh

but ruddy, ripening toward fall.—"So sweet,
so cold," the poet said; but this one’s tart,
its sunny glow perfected in deceit,
as emulation of a cunning heart.

I eat it anyway, until the pit
alone remains, with scattered drops of juice,
such sour trophies proving nature's wit:
appearances and real in fragile truce.


"Ozymandias" by Percy Bysshe Shelley	

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,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed:
And on the pedestal these words appear:
'My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!'
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away."