What’s not to like?
by Philip Sidney (1554-1586)
Come Sleep, O Sleep, the certain knot of peace,
The baiting place of wit, the balm of woe,
The poor man’s wealth, the prisoner’s release,
The indifferent judge between the high and low;
With shield of proof shield me from out the prease
Of those fierce darts, Despair at me doth throw:
Oh make in me those civil wars to cease;
I will good tribute pay, if thou do so.
Take thou of me smooth pillows, sweetest bed,
A chamber deaf to noise and blind to light,
A rosy garland, and a weary head;
And if these things, as being thine by right,
Move not thy heavy Grace, thou shalt in me,
Livelier than elsewhere, Stella’s image see.
Our Little Ghost
by Louisa May Alcott (1832-1888)
Oft, in the silence of the night,
When the lonely moon rides high,
When wintry winds are whistling,
And we hear the owl’s shrill cry,
In the quiet, dusky chamber,
By the flickering firelight,
Rising up between two sleepers,
Comes a spirit all in white.
A winsome little ghost it is,
Rosy-cheeked, and bright of eye;
With yellow curls all breaking loose
From the small cap pushed awry.
Up it climbs among the pillows,
For the “big dark” brings no dread,
And a baby’s boundless fancy
Makes a kingdom of a bed.
A fearless little ghost it is;
Safe the night seems as the day;
The moon is but a gentle face,
And the sighing winds are gay.
The solitude is full of friends,
And the hour brings no regrets;
For, in this happy little soul,
Shines a sun that never sets.
A merry little ghost it is,
Dancing gayly by itself,
On the flowery counterpane,
Like a tricksy household elf;
Nodding to the fitful shadows,
As they flicker on the wall;
Talking to familiar pictures,
Mimicking the owl’s shrill call.
A thoughtful little ghost if is;
And, when lonely gambols tire,
With chubby hands on chubby knees,
It sits winking at the fire.
Fancies innocent and lovely
Shine before those baby-eyes, —
Endless fields of dandelions,
Brooks, and birds, and butterflies.
A loving little ghost it is:
When crept into its nest,
Its hand on father’s shoulder laid,
Its head on mother’s breast,
It watches each familiar face,
With a tranquil, trusting eye;
And, like a sleepy little bird,
Sings its own soft lullaby.
Then those who feigned to sleep before,
Lest baby play till dawn,
Wake and watch their folded flower —
Little rose without a thorn.
And, in the silence of the night,
The hearts that love it most
Pray tenderly above its sleep,
“God bless our little ghost!”
Introduction to the Songs of Innocence
by William Blake (1757-1827)
Piping down the valleys wild,
Piping songs of pleasant glee,
On a cloud I saw a child,
And he laughing said to me:
‘Pipe a song about a Lamb!’
So I piped with merry cheer.
‘Piper, pipe that song again.’
So I piped: he wept to hear.
‘Drop thy pipe, thy happy pipe;
Sing thy songs of happy cheer:’
So I sung the same again,
While he wept with joy to hear.
‘Piper, sit thee down and write
In a book, that all may read.’
So he vanish’d from my sight;
And I pluck’d a hollow reed,
And I made a rural pen,
And I stained the water clear,
And I wrote my happy songs
Every child may joy to hear.
“Non omnis moriar” (Odes, III, 30)
by Quintus Horatius Flaccus (“Horace”) (65 B.C.E.-8 B.C.E.)
Exegi monumentum aere perennius
regalique situ pyramidum altius,
quod non imber edax, non Aquilo inpotens
possit diruere aut innumerabilis
annorum series et fuga temporum.
Non omnis moriar multaque pars mei
vitabit Libitinam; usque ego postera
crescam laude recens, dum Capitolium
scandet cum tacita virgine pontifex.
Dicar, qua violens obstrepit Aufidus
et qua pauper aquae Daunus agrestium
regnavit populorum, ex humili potens
princeps Aeolium carmen ad Italos
deduxisse modos. Sume superbiam
quaesitam meritis et mihi Delphica
lauro cinge volens, Melpomene, comam.
Light Shining Out of Darkness
by William Cowper (1731-1800)
God moves in a mysterious way
His wonders to perform;
He plants His footsteps in the sea
And rides upon the storm.
Deep in unfathomable mines
Of never failing skill
He treasures up His bright designs
And works His sov’reign will.
Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take;
The clouds ye so much dread
Are big with mercy and shall break
In blessings on your head.
Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
But trust Him for His grace;
Behind a frowning providence
He hides a smiling face.
His purposes will ripen fast,
Unfolding every hour;
The bud may have a bitter taste,
But sweet will be the flow’r.
Blind unbelief is sure to err
And scan His work in vain;
God is His own interpreter,
And He will make it plain.
Break of Day in the Trenches
by Isaac Rosenberg (1890-1918)
The darkness crumbles away.
It is the same old druid Time as ever,
Only a live thing leaps my hand,
A queer sardonic rat,
As I pull the parapet’s poppy
To stick behind my ear.
Droll rat, they would shoot you if they knew
Your cosmopolitan sympathies.
Now you have touched this English hand
You will do the same to a German
Soon, no doubt, if it be your pleasure
To cross the sleeping green between.
It seems you inwardly grin as you pass
Strong eyes, fine limbs, haughty athletes,
Less chanced than you for life,
Bonds to the whims of murder,
Sprawled in the bowels of the earth,
The torn fields of France.
What do you see in our eyes
At the shrieking iron and flame
Hurled through still heavens?
What quaver—what heart aghast?
Poppies whose roots are in man’s veins
Drop, and are ever dropping;
But mine in my ear is safe—
Just a little white with the dust.
“We are all agreed that your theory is crazy. The question that divides us is whether it is crazy enough to have a chance of being correct.” — Niels Bohr