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CLASSIC POETRY

· Death be Not Proud, Poem by John Donne · Maud by Alfred Tennyson · Love’s Philosophy by Percy Bysshe Shelley · She Walks in Beauty by Lord Byron · Among the Multitude by Walt Whitman · William Shakespeare: Being your slave, what should I do but tend · Sweetest Love, I do Not Go: Poem by John Donne · Adieu To a Soldier by Walt Whitman · Arthur Henry Adams: Civilization · The Maids Of Elfin-Mere by William Allingham · Doubt by Sara Teasdale · William Shakespeare: Who is Silvia? what is she

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Death be Not Proud, Poem by John Donne

 

Death be Not Proud

Death be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadfull, for, thou art not soe,
For, those, whom thou think’st, thou dost overthrow,
Die not, poore death, nor yet canst thou kill mee.
From rest and sleepe, which but thy pictures bee,
Much pleasure, then from thee, much more must flow,
And soonest our best men with thee doe goe,
Rest of their bones, and soules deliverie.
Thou art slave to Fate, Chance, kings, and desperate men,
And dost with poyson, warre, and sicknesse dwell,
And poppie, or charmes can make us sleepe as well,
And better then thy stroake; why swell’st thou then?
One short sleepe past, wee wake eternally,
And death shall be no more; death, thou shalt die.

John Donne
(1572 – 1631)
Death be Not Proud
(±1618)

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More in: Archive C-D, Archive C-D, Donne, John


Maud by Alfred Tennyson

 

Maud

Come into the garden, Maud,
For the black bat, Night, has flown,
Come into the garden, Maud,
I am here at the gate alone;
And the woodbine spices are wafted abroad,
And the musk of the roses blown.

For a breeze of morning moves,
And the planet of Love is on high,
Beginning to faint in the light that she loves
On a bed of daffodil sky,
To faint in the light of the sun she loves,
To faint in his light, and to die.

All night have the roses heard
The flute, violin, bassoon;
All night has the casement jessamine stirr’d
To the dancers dancing in tune;
Till a silence fell with the waking bird,
And a hush with the setting moon.

I said to the lily, ‘There is but one
With whom she has heart to be gay.
When will the dancers leave her alone?
She is weary of dance and play.’
Now half to the setting moon are gone,
And half to the rising day;
Low on the sand and loud on the stone
The last wheel echoes away.

I said to the rose, ‘The brief night goes
In babble and revel and wine.
O young lord-lover, what sighs are those
For one that will never be thine?
But mine, but mine,’ so I sware to the rose,
‘For ever and ever, mine.’

And the soul of the rose went into my blood,
As the music clash’d in the hall;
And long by the garden lake I stood,
For I heard your rivulet fall
From the lake to the meadow and on to the wood,
Our wood, that is dearer than all;

From the meadow your walks have left so sweet
That whenever a March-wind sighs
He sets the jewel-print of your feet
In violets blue as your eyes,
To the woody hollows in which we meet
And the valleys of Paradise.

The slender acacia would not shake
One long milk-bloom on the tree;
The white lake-blossom fell into the lake,
As the pimpernel dozed on the lea;
But the rose was awake all night for your sake,
Knowing your promise to me;
The lilies and roses were all awake,
They sigh’d for the dawn and thee.

Queen rose of the rosebud garden of girls,
Come hither, the dances are done,
In gloss of satin and glimmer of pearls,
Queen lily and rose in one;
Shine out, little head, sunning over with curls.
To the flowers, and be their sun.

There has fallen a splendid tear
From the passion-flower at the gate.
She is coming, my dove, my dear;
She is coming, my life, my fate;
The red rose cries, ‘She is near, she is near;’
And the white rose weeps, ‘She is late;’
The larkspur listens, ‘I hear, I hear;’
And the lily whispers, ‘I wait.’

She is coming, my own, my sweet;
Were it ever so airy a tread,
My heart would hear her and beat,
Were it earth in an earthy bed;
My dust would hear her and beat,
Had I lain for a century dead;
Would start and tremble under her feet,
And blossom in purple and red.

Alfred Lord Tennyson
(1809 – 1892)
Maud
Published in 1855.

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More in: Archive S-T, Archive S-T, Tennyson, Alfred Lord


Love’s Philosophy by Percy Bysshe Shelley

 

Love’s Philosophy

The fountains mingle with the river
And the rivers with the Ocean,
The winds of Heaven mix for ever
With a sweet emotion;
Nothing in the world is single;
All things by a law divine
in one spirit meet and mingle.
Why not I with thine?-

See the mountains kiss high Heaven
And the waves clasp one another;
No sister-flower would be forgiven
If it disdained its brother;
And the sunlight clasps the earth
And the moonbeams kiss the sea:
What is all this sweet work worth
If thou kiss not me?

Percy Bysshe Shelley
(1792 – 1822)
Love’s Philosophy

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More in: Archive S-T, Archive S-T, Shelley, Percy Byssche


She Walks in Beauty by Lord Byron

 

She Walks in Beauty

She walks in beauty, like the night
Of cloudless climes and starry skies;
And all that’s best of dark and bright
Meet in her aspect and her eyes:
Thus mellow’d to that tender light
Which heaven to gaudy day denies.

One shade the more, one ray the less,
Had half impair’d the nameless grace
Which waves in every raven tress,
Or softly lightens o’er her face;
Where thoughts serenely sweet express
How pure, how dear their dwelling-place.

And on that cheek, and o’er that brow,
So soft, so calm, yet eloquent,
The smiles that win, the tints that glow,
But tell of days in goodness spent,
A mind at peace with all below,
A heart whose love is innocent.

Lord Byron
(1788 – 1824)
She Walks in Beauty

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More in: Archive A-B, Archive A-B, Byron, Lord


Among the Multitude by Walt Whitman

 

Among the Multitude

Among the men and women the multitude,
I perceive one picking me out by secret and divine signs,
Acknowledging none else, not parent, wife, husband, brother, child,
any nearer than I am,
Some are baffled, but that one is not–that one knows me.

Ah lover and perfect equal,
I meant that you should discover me so by faint indirections,
And I when I meet you mean to discover you by the like in you.

Walt Whitman
(1819 – 1892)
Poem: Among the Multitude

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More in: Archive W-X, Archive W-X, Whitman, Walt


William Shakespeare: Being your slave, what should I do but tend

 

Being your slave,
what should I do but tend

Being your slave, what should I do but tend
Upon the hours and times of your desire?
I have no precious time at all to spend,
Nor services to do, till you require.
Nor dare I chide the world-without-end hour
Whilst I, my sovereign, watch the clock for you.
Nor think the bitterness of absence sour
When you have bid your servant once adieu;
Nor dare I question with my jealous thought
Where you may be, or your affairs suppose,
But like a sad slave, stay and think of nought,
Save, where you are how happy you make those.
So true a fool is love that in your will
Though you do anything, he thinks no ill.

William Shakespeare
(1564 – 1616)
Being your slave, what should I do but tend
Sonnet 57

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More in: Archive S-T, Archive S-T, Shakespeare, William


Sweetest Love, I do Not Go: Poem by John Donne

  

Sweetest Love, I do Not Go

Sweetest love, I do not go,
For weariness of thee,
Nor in hope the world can show
A fitter love for me;
But since that I
At the last must part, ’tis best,
Thus to use myself in jest
By feigned deaths to die.

Yesternight the sun went hence,
And yet is here to-day;
He hath no desire nor sense,
Nor half so short a way;
Then fear not me,
But believe that I shall make
Speedier journeys, since I take
More wings and spurs than he.

O how feeble is man’s power,
That if good fortune fall,
Cannot add another hour,
Nor a lost hour recall;
But come bad chance,
And we join to it our strength,
And we teach it art and length,
Itself o’er us to advance.

When thou sigh’st, thou sigh’st not wind,
But sigh’st my soul away;
When thou weep’st, unkindly kind,
My life’s blood doth decay.
It cannot be
That thou lovest me as thou say’st,
If in thine my life thou waste,
That art the best of me.

Let not thy divining heart
Forethink me any ill;
Destiny may take thy part,
And may thy fears fulfil.
But think that we
Are but turn’d aside to sleep.
They who one another keep
Alive, ne’er parted be.

John Donne
(1572 – 1631)
Sweetest Love, I do Not Go

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More in: Archive C-D, Archive C-D, Donne, John


Adieu To a Soldier by Walt Whitman

 

Adieu To a Soldier

Adieu, O soldier!
You of the rude campaigning, (which we shared,)
The rapid march, the life of the camp,
The hot contention of opposing fronts’the long maneuver,
Red battles with their slaughter, ‘the stimulus’the strong, terrific game,
Spell of all brave and manly hearts’the trains of Time through you, and like of you, all fill’d,,
With war, and war’s expression.

Adieu, dear comrade!
Your mission is fulfill’d—but I, more warlike,
Myself, and this contentious soul of mine,
Still on our own campaigning bound,
Through untried roads, with ambushes, opponents lined,
Through many a sharp defeat and many a crisis’often baffled,
Here marching, ever marching on, a war fight out’aye here,
To fiercer, weightier battles give expression.

Walt Whitman
(1819 – 1892)
Poem: Adieu To a Soldier

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More in: Archive W-X, Archive W-X, Whitman, Walt


Arthur Henry Adams: Civilization

 

Civilization

One moment mankind rides the crested wave,
A moment glorious, beyond recall;
And then the wave, with slow and massive fall,
Obliterates the beauty that it gave.
When discrowned king and manumitted slave
Are free and equal to be slaves of all,
Democracies in their wide freedom brawl,
And go down shouting to a common grave.
So one by one the petals of the rose
Shrivel and fade, and all its splendour goes
Back to the earth; and in her arms embraced
Through wintry centuries the dead seeds sleep
Till spring comes troubling them, and they unleap,
Once more their petals on the world to waste.

Arthur Adams
(1872-1936)
Civilization
(from The Sonnet in Australasia)

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More in: Adams, Arthur, Archive A-B, Archive A-B


The Maids Of Elfin-Mere by William Allingham

 

The Maids Of Elfin-Mere

When the spinning-room was here
Came Three Damsels, clothed in white,
With their spindles every night;
One and Two and three fair Maidens,
Spinning to a pulsing cadence,
Singing songs of Elfin-Mere;
Till the eleventh hour was toll’d,
Then departed through the wold.
Years ago, and years ago;
And the tall reeds sigh as the wind doth blow.

Three white Lilies, calm and clear,
And they were loved by every one;
Most of all, the Pastor’s Son,
Listening to their gentle singing,
Felt his heart go from him, clinging
Round these Maids of Elfin-Mere.
Sued each night to make them stay,
Sadden’d when they went away.
Years ago, and years ago;
And the tall reeds sigh as the wind doth blow.

Hands that shook with love and fear
Dared put back the village clock,
Flew the spindle, turn’d the rock,
Flow’d the song with subtle rounding,
Till the false ‘eleven’ was sounding;
Then these Maids of Elfin-Mere
Swiftly, softly, left the room,
Like three doves on snowy plume.
Years ago, and years ago;
And the tall reeds sigh as the wind doth blow.

One that night who wander’d near
Heard lamentings by the shore,
Saw at dawn three stains of gore
In the waters fade and dwindle.
Never more with song and spindle
Saw we Maids of Elfin-Mere,
The Pastor’s Son did pine and die;
Because true love should never lie.
Years ago, and years ago;
And the tall reeds sigh as the wind doth blow.

William Allingham
(1824 – 1889)
The Maids Of Elfin-Mere
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More in: Allingham, William, Archive A-B, Archive A-B


Doubt by Sara Teasdale

Doubt

My soul lives in my body’s house,
And you have both the house and her,
But sometimes she is less your own
Than a wild, gay adventurer;
A restless and an eager wraith,
How can I tell what she will do,
Oh, I am sure of my body’s faith,
But what if my soul broke faith with you?

Sara Teasdale
(1884-1933)
Doubt

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More in: Archive S-T, Archive S-T, Teasdale, Sara


William Shakespeare: Who is Silvia? what is she

 

Who is Silvia?
what is she

Who is Silvia? what is she,
That all our swains commend her?
Holy, fair, and wise is she;
The heaven such grace did lend her,
That she might admirèd be.

Is she kind as she is fair?
For beauty lives with kindness.
Love doth to her eyes repair,
To help him of his blindness;
And, being helped, inhabits there.

Then to Silvia let us sing,
That Silvia is excelling;
She excels each mortal thing
Upon the dull earth dwelling;
To her let us garlands bring

William Shakespeare
(1564 – 1616)
Song: “Who is Silvia? what is she”
(from Two Gentlemen of Verona)

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More in: Archive S-T, Archive S-T, Shakespeare, William


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