Saturday, 16 November 2013

Thursday, 7 November 2013

Become Becoming by Li-Young Lee

Wait for evening.
Then you’ll be alone.

Wait for the playground to empty.
Then call out those companions from childhood:

The one who closed his eyes
and pretended to be invisible.
The one to whom you told every secret.
The one who made a world of any hiding place.

And don’t forget the one who listened in silence
while you wondered out lout:

Is the universe an empty mirror? A flowering tree?
Is the universe the sleep of a woman?

Wait for the sky’s last blue
(the color of your homesickness).
Then you’ll know the answer.

Wait for the air’s first gold (that color of Amen).
Then you’ll spy the wind’ barefoot steps.

Then you’ll recall that story beginning
with a child who strays in the woods.

The search for him goes on in the growing
shadow of the clock.

And the face behind the clock’s face
is not his father’s face.

And the hands behind the clock’s hands
are not his mother’s hands.

All of Time began when you first answered
to the names your mother and father gave you.

Soon, those names will travel with the leaves.
Then, you can trade places with the wind.

Then you’ll remember your life
as a book of candles,
each page read by the light of its own burning.

Monday, 4 November 2013

from Oracles for Youth by Caroline Gilman

Let some one hold the book, and ask one of the questions. The answers being all numbered, the girl or boy who is questioned chooses a number, and the person who holds the book reads the answer to which that number belongs, aloud. 
For instance: 
Question. What is your character? 
Answer. I choose No. 3 
Questioner reads aloud: 
No. 3. Gentle tempered, sweet and kind, 
To no angry word inclined. 
What Will Be Your Destiny? 
1. Just as you think you've gained great wealth, 
Something will make you lose your health. 
2. Your hair will be white in a single night, 
From having an unexpected fright. 
3. You will enjoy a sweet old age
So kind and pure, so long and sage. 
4. You will fall down at eighty-four, 
And break a dozen ribs or more. 
5. You will finish your days with God for your friend
Who would not be glad of so blissful an end? 
6. You will be ever absorbed in books
And never give a thought to looks. 
7. In peace and plenty you will lie, 
And in the arms of friendship die. 
8. You will have cause for many tears
To cloud the beauty of your years. 
9. Ah, is it so? when you are old, 
you will be very poor, I'm told. 
10. In the night-time you will weep
And your painful vigils keep. 
11. Nothing dreadful, nothing sad, 
Comes to you; for this I'm glad. 
12. You always will have an excellent table
And full of horses will keep your stable. 
13. The Sibyl says you'll die in Rome
Which for a time will be your home. 
14. Your plenty and peace 
Will never cease. 
15. You will suddenly die in the crowded street, 
If the age of a hundred years you meet. 
16. You will ride in your carriage-and-four, 
And be very kind to the suffering poor. 
17. Never murmur, never care, 
You will be a millionaire. 
18. Sick at heart, and sick at head, 
You will wish that you were dead. 
19. As the might of God you see, 
Religious you will ever be. 
20. To California you will go 
To get the shining gold, you know. 
21. Brightest pleasures you will see, 
And happiness your portion be. 
22. Love will gild your joyous life, 
Free from pain and care and strife. 
23. Don't despond, and do not care, 
You will be a nabob's heir. 
24. To California you will be sent, 
But will return as poor as you went. 
25. A missionary you will be, 
Far o'er the billows of the sea. 
26. It is your destiny to rule, 
And you will keep a village school. 
27. Ball and parties you will find 
Alone are suited to your mind. 
28. Through the vista of the years 
I see you mourning and in tears. 
29. A country life at length you'll lead, 
Rejoicing in your ambling steed. 
30. Fair in the wild and prairied west, 
Your tired frame at length you'll rest. 
31. A public singer's place you'll take, 
And a sensation you will make. 
32. You'll only love your native home, 
From which you will not care to roam. 
33. A great pianist, you will gain 
Bright laurels from the admiring train. 
34. A kitchen garden you will keep, 
And sell fresh vegetables cheap. 
35. To higher virtues you will rise, 
Until you're ready for the skies. 
36. To the city's crowded street 
You'll direct your willing feet. 
37. In digging in a worn-out field 
You'll see a box, securely sealed, 
Half buried in the ground; 
And therein jewels bright, and gold, 
And bank-notes, in large bundles rolled, 
Will joyfully be found. 
38. A music teacher you will be, 
This is your tuneful destiny. 
39. You will travel in your prime, 
And view the works of art sublime. 
40. You will journey the whole world o'er, 
And gather relics from every shore. 
41. The most of your time will be passed on the sea, 
But wherever you are, you will happy be. 
42. On an island will you live, 
And nice pleasure-parties give. 
43. You will spend your leisure hours, 
In a garden tending flowers.

November by William Cullen Bryant

Yet one smile more, departing, distant sun! 
One mellow smile through the soft vapory air, 
Ere, o'er the frozen earth, the loud winds run, 
Or snows are sifted o'er the meadows bare. 
One smile on the brown hills and naked trees, 
And the dark rocks whose summer wreaths are cast, 
And the blue gentian flower, that, in the breeze, 
Nods lonely, of her beauteous race the last. 
Yet a few sunny days, in which the bee 
Shall murmur by the hedge that skirts the way, 
The cricket chirp upon the russet lea, 
And man delight to linger in thy ray. 
Yet one rich smile, and we will try to bear 
The piercing winter frost, and winds, and darkened air. 

Saturday, 19 October 2013

Be Drunk by Charles Baudelaire

One must be for ever drunken: that is the sole question of importance. If you would not feel the horrible burden of Time that bruises your shoulders and bends you to the earth, you must be drunken without cease. But how? With wine, with poetry, with virtue, with what you please. But be drunken. And if sometimes, on the steps of a palace, on the green grass by a moat, or in the dull loneliness of your chamber, you should waken up, your intoxication already lessened or gone, ask of the wind, of the wave, of the star, of the bird, of the timepiece; ask of all that flees, all that sighs, all that revolves, all that sings, all that speaks, ask of these the hour; and wind and wave and star and bird and timepiece will answer you:
“It is the hour to be drunken! Lest you be the martyred slaves of Time, intoxicate yourselves, be drunken without cease!
With wine, with poetry, with virtue, or with what you will.”
(from Petits Poèmes en Prose, 1869, translated by James Huneker, 1919)

Thursday, 22 August 2013

Excelsior by Walt Whitman

Who has gone farthest? for I would go farther,

And who has been just? for I would be the most just person of the


And who most cautious? for I would be more cautious,

And who has been happiest? O I think it is I--I think no one was ever

happier than I,

And who has lavish'd all? for I lavish constantly the best I have,

And who proudest? for I think I have reason to be the proudest son

alive--for I am the son of the brawny and tall-topt city,

And who has been bold and true? for I would be the boldest and truest

being of the universe,

And who benevolent? for I would show more benevolence than all the


And who has receiv'd the love of the most friends? for I know what it is to receive the 

passionate love of many friends,

And who possesses a perfect and enamour'd body? for I do not believe

any one possesses a more perfect or enamour'd body than mine,

And who thinks the amplest thoughts? for I would surround those


And who has made hymns fit for the earth? for I am mad with 

devouring ecstasy to make joyous hymns for the whole earth. 

Sunday, 18 August 2013

Mother Night by James Weldon Johnson

Eternities before the first-born day, 
Or ere the first sun fledged his wings of flame, 
Calm Night, the everlasting and the same, 
A brooding mother over chaos lay. 
And whirling suns shall blaze and then decay, 
Shall run their fiery courses and then claim 
The haven of the darkness whence they came; 
Back to Nirvanic peace shall grope their way. 
So when my feeble sun of life burns out, 
And sounded is the hour for my long sleep, 
I shall, full weary of the feverish light, 
Welcome the darkness without fear or doubt, 
And heavy-lidded, I shall softly creep 
Into the quiet bosom of the Night. 
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