Poem of the day

The Land of Lost Content
by Alfred Edward Housman (1859-1936)

Into my heart an air that kills
   From yon far country blows:
What are those blue remembered hills,
   What spires, what farms are those?

That is the land of lost content,
   I see it shining plain,
The happy highways where I went
   And cannot come again.

Poem of the day

For All Blasphemers
by Stephen Vincent Benét (1898-1943)

Adam was my grandfather,
A tall, spoiled child,
A red, clay tower
In Eden, green and mild.
He ripped the Sinful Pippin
From its sanctimonious limb.
Adam was my grandfather—
And I take after him.

Noah was my uncle
And he got dead drunk.
There were planets in his liquor-can
And lizards in his bunk.
He fell into the Bottomless
Past Hell’s most shrinking star.
Old Aunt Fate has often said
How much alike we are.

Lilith, she’s my sweetheart
Till my heartstrings break,
Most of her is honey-pale
And all of her is snake.
Sweet as secret thievery,
I kiss her all I can,
While Somebody Above remarks
“That’s not a nice young man!”

Bacchus was my brother,
Nimrod is my friend.
All of them have talked to me
On how such courses end.
But when His Worship takes me up
How can I fare but well?
For who in gaudy Hell will care?
And I shall be in Hell.

Poem of the day

by Paul Gerhardt (1607-1676)

Nun ruhen alle Wälder,
Vieh, Menschen, Städt’ und Felder;
Es schläft die ganze Welt.
Ihr aber, meine Sinnen,
Auf, auf! ihr sollt beginnen,
Was eurem Schöpfer wohlgefällt.

Wo bist du, Sonne, blieben?
Die Nacht hat dich vertrieben,
Die Nacht, des Tages Feind.
Fahr hin, ein’ andre Sonne,
Mein Jesus, meine Wonne,
Gar hell in meinem Herzen scheint.

Der Tag ist nun vergangen,
Die güldnen Sternlein prangen
Am blauen Himmels Saal.
Also werd’ ich auch stehen,
Wenn mich wird heißen gehen
Mein Gott aus diesem Jammertal.

Der Leib eilt nun zur Ruhe,
Legt ab das Kleid und Schuhe,
Das Bild der Sterblichkeit.
Die zieh’ ich aus: dagegen
Wird Christus mir anlegen
Den Rock der Ehr’ und Herrlichkeit.

Das Haupt, die Füß’ und Hände
Sind froh, daß nun zum Ende
Die Arbeit kommen sei.
Herz, freu dich, du sollst werden
Vom Elend dieser Erden
Und von der Sünden Arbeit frei.

Nun geht, ihr matten Glieder,
Geht hin und legt euch nieder,
Der Betten ihr begehrt.
Es kommen Stund’ und Zeiten,
Da man euch wird bereiten
Zur Ruh’ ein Bettlein in der Erd’.

Mein’ Augen stehn verdrossen,
Im Hui sind sie geschlossen;
Wo bleibt dann Leib und Seel?
Nimm sie zu deinen Gnaden,
Sei gut für allen Schaden,
Du Aug’ und Wächter Israel!

Breit’ aus die Flügel beide,
O Jesu, meine Freude,
Und nimm dein Küchlein ein!
Will Satan mich verschlingen,
So laß die Englein singen:
Dies Kind soll unverletzet sein.

Auch euch, ihr meine Lieben,
Soll heute nicht betrüben
Ein Unfall noch Gefahr!
Gott laß’ euch selig schlafen,
Stell’ euch die güldnen Waffen
Ums Bett und seiner Engel Schar.

Poem of the day

A Musical Instrument
by Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806-1861)

What was he doing, the great god Pan,
      Down in the reeds by the river?
Spreading ruin and scattering ban,
Splashing and paddling with hoofs of a goat,
And breaking the golden lilies afloat
      With the dragon-fly on the river?

He tore out a reed, the great god Pan,
      From the deep cool bed of the river.
The limpid water turbidly ran,
And the broken lilies a-dying lay,
And the dragon-fly had fled away,
      Ere he brought it out of the river.

High on the shore sate the great god Pan,
      While turbidly flowed the river,
And hacked and hewed as a great god can,
With his hard bleak steel at the patient reed,
Till there was not a sign of a leaf indeed
      To prove it fresh from the river.

He cut it short, did the great god Pan,
      (How tall it stood in the river!)
Then drew the pith, like the heart of a man,
Steadily from the outside ring,
Then notched the poor dry empty thing
      In holes as he sate by the river.

“This is the way,” laughed the great god Pan,
      (Laughed while he sate by the river!)
“The only way since gods began
To make sweet music they could succeed.”
Then, dropping his mouth to a hole in the reed,
      He blew in power by the river.

Sweet, sweet, sweet, O Pan,
      Piercing sweet by the river!
Blinding sweet, O great god Pan!
The sun on the hill forgot to die,
And the lilies revived, and the dragon-fly
      Came back to dream on the river.

half a beast is the great god Pan
      To laugh, as he sits by the river,
Making a poet out of a man.
The true gods sigh for the cost and pain,
For the reed that grows nevermore again
      As a reed with the reeds in the river.

Poem of the day

by Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862)

Light-winged Smoke, Icarian bird,
Melting thy pinions in thy upward flight;
Lark without song, and messenger of dawn,
Circling above the hamlets as thy nest;
Or else, departing dream, and shadowy form
Of midnight vision, gathering up thy skirts;
By night star-veiling, and by day
Darkening the light and blotting out the sun;
Go thou, my incense, upward from this hearth,
And ask the gods to pardon this clear flame.

Poem of the day

Who Ever Loved That Loved Not at First Sight
from Hero and Leander
by Christopher Marlowe (c. 1564-1593))

It lies not in our power to love or hate,
For will in us is overruled by fate.
When two are stripped, long ere the course begin,
We wish that one should love, the other win;
And one especially do we affect
Of two gold ingots, like in each respect:
The reason no man knows, let it suffice,
What we behold is censured by our eyes.
Where both deliberate, the love is slight:
Who ever loved, that loved not at first sight?

Poem of the day

This has been often recorded. Here are examples by John McCormack and Richard Dyer-Bennet.

Oft in the Stilly Night
by Thomas Moore (1779-1852)

Oft, in the stilly night,
Ere slumber’s chain has bound me,
Fond memory brings the light
Of other days around me;
The smiles, the tears,
Of boyhood’s years,
The words of love then spoken;
The eyes that shone,
Now dimm’d and gone,
The cheerful hearts now broken!
Thus, in the stilly night,
Ere slumber’s chain hath bound me,
Sad memory brings the light
Of other days around me.

When I remember all
The friends, so link’d together,
I’ve seen around me fall,
Like leaves in wintry weather;
I feel like one
Who treads alone
Some banquet-hall deserted,
Whose lights are fled,
Whose garlands dead,
And all but he departed!
Thus, in the stilly night,
Ere slumber’s chain has bound me,
Sad memory brings the light
Of other days around me.

Poem of the day

Sonnet I from Modern Love
by George Meredith (1828-1909)

By this he knew she wept with waking eyes;
   That, at his hand’s light quiver by her head,
   The strange low sobs that shook their common bed
Were called into her with a sharp surprise,
And strangled mute, like little gaping snakes,
   Dreadfully venomous to him. She lay
   Stone-still, and the long darkness flowed away
With muffled pulses. Then, as midnight makes
Her giant heart of Memory and Tears
   Drink the pale drug of silence, and so beat
   Sleep’s heavy measure, they from head to feet
Were moveless, looking through their dead black years,
By vain regret scrawled over the blank wall.
   Like sculptured effigies they might be seen
   Upon their marriage-tomb, the sword between;
Each wishing for the sword that severs all.

Poem of the day

Cantilena a Lesbia
by Esteban Manuel de Villegas (1589-1669)

Al son de las castañas
que saltan en el fuego,
echa vino, muchacho,
beba Lesbia y juguemos,
siquiera el Capricornio
tiré lanzas de hielo,
mal agüero á casados,
buen auspicio á solteros;
enemigo de Baco
cuando estaba en el suelo,
destrozándole vides,
rumiándole sarmientos,
y agora no tan dócil,
que no procure vernos
aguados con mil aguas
y helados con mil hielos.
Yo apostaré, mi Lesbia,
que si le diese el cielo
poder en causa propia,
que nos hiciese yermos.
¡Oh, cómo el insolente
diera fin al viñedo,
y juntamente en Darro
con todos los sedientos!
porque daños mayores
se le siguen al cuerpo,
beber tus aguas, Tajo,
que echarse en las del Ebro.;
pero ya que los astros
mejor que esto lo hicieron,
echa vino, muchacho,
beba Lesbia y juguemos.

Poem of the day

Men Improve With the Years
by William Butler Yeats (1865-1939)

I am worn out with dreams;
A weather-worn, marble triton
Among the streams;
And all day long I look
Upon this lady’s beauty
As though I had found in book
A pictured beauty,
Pleased to have filled the eyes
Or the discerning ears,
Delighted to be but wise,
For men improve with the years;
And yet and yet
Is this my dream, or the truth?
O would that we had met
When I had my burning youth;
But I grow old among dreams,
A weather-worn, marble triton
Among the streams.