922. On the Balcony, by D.H. Lawrence

In front of the sombre mountains, a faint, lost ribbon of rainbow;
And between us and it, the thunder;
And down below in the green wheat, the labourers
Stand like dark stumps, still in the green wheat.

You are near to me, and your naked feet in their sandals,
And through the scent of the balcony's naked timber
I distinguish the scent of your hair: so now the limber
Lightning falls from heaven.

Adown the pale-green glacier river floats
A dark boat through the gloom—and whither?
The thunder roars. But still we have each other!
The naked lightnings in the heavens dither
And disappear—what have we but each other?
The boat has gone.

Source: Complete Poems

923. Autumn Day, by Rainer Maria Rilke

Lord: it is time. The huge summer has gone by.
Now overlap the sundials with your shadows,
and on the meadows let the wind go free.

Command the fruits to swell on tree and vine;
grant them a few more warm transparent days,
urge them on to fulfillment then, and press
the final sweetness into the heavy wine.

Whoever has no house now, will never have one.
Whoever is alone will stay alone,
will sit, read, write long letters through the evening,
and wander on the boulevards, up and down,
restlessly, while the dry leaves are blowing.

(trans Stephen Mitchell)

Source: The Selected Poetry of Rainer Maria Rilke

924. May 31, 1961, by Charles Olson

the lilac moon of the earth's backyard
which gives silence to the whole house
falls down
out of the sky
over the fence

                                 poor planet
                    now reduced
                    to disuse

who looks so big
and alive
I am talking to you

                    The shades
                    on the windows
                    of the Centers'
                    half down
                    like nobody else's
                    lets the glass lower halves
                    make quiet mouths at you

lilac moon

                    old backyard bloom

Source: Selected Poems

925. Envoi to The Earthly Paradise, by William Morris

Of Heaven or Hell I have no power to sing,
I cannot ease the burden of your fears,
Or make quick-coming death a little thing,
Or bring again the pleasure of past years,
Nor for my words shall ye forget your tears,
Or hope again for aught that I can say,
The idle singer of an empty day.

    But rather, when aweary of your mirth,
From full hearts still unsatisfied ye sigh,
And, feeling kindly unto all the earth,
Grudge every minute as it passes by,
Made the more mindful that the sweet days die —
Remember me a little then I pray,
The idle singer of an empty day.

    The heavy trouble, the bewildering care
That weighs us down who live and earn our bread,
These idle verses have no power to bear;
So let me sing of names remembered,
Because they, living not, can ne'er be dead,
Or long time take their memory quite away
From us poor singers of an empty day.

    Dreamer of dreams, born out of my due time,
Why should I strive to set the crooked straight?
Let it suffice me that my murmuring rhyme
Beats with light wing against the ivory gate,
Telling a tale not too importunate
To those who in the sleepy region stay,
Lulled by the singer of an empty day.

    Folk say, a wizard to a northern king
At Christmas-tide such wondrous things did show,
That through one window men beheld the spring,
And through another saw the summer glow,
And through a third the fruited vines a-row,
While still, unheard, but in its wonted way,
Piped the drear wind of that December day.

    So with this Earthly Paradise it is,
If ye will read aright, and pardon me,
Who strive to build a shadowy isle of bliss
Midmost the beating of the steely sea,
Where tossed about all hearts of men must be;
Whose ravening monsters mighty men shall slay,
Not the poor singer of an empty day.

Source: News from Nowhere and Other Writings

926. My Grandmother's Love Letters, by Hart Crane

There are no stars tonight
But those of memory.
Yet how much room for memory there is
In the loose girdle of soft rain.

There is even room enough
For the letters of my mother's mother,
That have been pressed so long
Into a corner of the roof
That they are brown and soft,
And liable to melt as snow.

Over the greatness of such space
Steps must be gentle.
It is all hung by an invisible white hair.
It trembles as birch limbs webbing the air.

And I ask myself:

"Are your fingers long enough to play
Old keys that are but echoes:
Is the silence strong enough
To carry back the music to its source
And back to you again
As though to her?"

Yet I would lead my grandmother by the hand
Through much of what she would not understand;
And so I stumble. And the rain continues on the roof
With such a sound of gently pitying laughter.

Source: The Complete Poems of Hart Crane

927. To a Dry Elm, by Antonio Machado

The old elm, split by lightning
and half rotted
with April rain and May sun,
has sprouted a few green leaves.

The hundred-year-old elm on a hill
lapped by the Duero! A yellowish moss
stains the bleached bark
of the crumbling, worm-eaten trunk.

Unlike the singing poplars
that guard roads and riverbanks,
it won't be a home to nightingales.

An army of ants in a single line
climbs up its side and spiders weave
their gray webs in its hollowed core.

Elm by the Duero, before you are felled
by the woodman's ax and the carpenter
transforms you into a bell tower,
a wagon axle or cart's yoke;
before you are a red flame on
tomorrow's hearth in some poor cottage
along the side of the road;
before a whirlwind uproots you,
and the wind from the white sierras snaps you;
before the river pushes you to the sea
through valleys and ravines,
elm, I want to note
the grace of your greening branch.
My heart also waits in hope,
turned toward light and life,
for another miracle of spring.

(trans Mary G. Berg and Dennis Maloney)

Source: The Landscape of Castile

928. Living Together, by Edgar Bowers

Of you I have no memory, keep no promise.
But, as I read, drink, wait, and watch the surf,
Faithful, almost forgotten, your demand
Becomes all others, and this loneliness
The need that is your presence. In the dark,
Beneath the lamp, attentive, like a sound
I listen for, you draw near — closer, surer
Than speech, or sight, or love, or love returned.

Source: Collected Poems

929. Watching You, by James Schuyler

Watching you sleep
a thing you do so well
no shove no push
on the sliding face
of sleep as on
the deep a sea bird
of a grand wingspread
trusts what it knows
and I who rumple crumple
and mash (snore) amble
and ankle about wide
awake, wanting to fold,
loving to watch sleep
embodied in you my
warm machine that draws
me back to bed
and you who turn
all toward me
to love and seduce
me back to sleep "You
said 9:30, now it's
10:" you
don't seem to care
cold coffee (sugar,
no milk) about time:
you never do, never
get roiled the way
I do "Should I nag
you or shut up? If
you say, I will"
always be
glad to return to
that warm turning
to me in that
tenderest moment
of my nights,
and more, my days.

Source: Selected Poems

930. Metamorphoses, by Roy Fisher

She sleeps, in the day, in the silence. Where there is light, but little else: the white covers, the pillow, her head with its ordinary hair, her forearm dark over the sheet.

She sleeps and it is hardly a mark on the stillness; that she should have moved to be there, that she should be moving now across her sleep as the window where the light comes in passes across the day.

Her warmth is in the shadows of the bed, and the bed has few shadows, the sky is smoked with a little cloud, there are fish-trails high in the air. Her sleep rides on the silence, it is an open mouth travelling backward on moving waves.

Mouth open across the water, the knees loosened in sleep; dusks of the body shadowed around the room. In the light from the windows there is the thought of a beat, a flicker, an alternation of aspect from the outside to the inside of the glass. The light is going deep under her.

Source: The Long and The Short of It: Poems 1955-2005

931. Experience, by C.K. Williams

After a string of failed romances and intensely remarked sexual
        adventures she'd finally married.
The husband was a very formal man, handsome, elegant ... perhaps
       to my taste too much so;
I sensed too much commitment in him to a life entailing ...
       handsomeness and elegance, I suppose,
but he was generous with her and even their frequent arguments
       had a manageable vehemence.
She smiled often in those days, but behind her face an edge
       of animation seemed nailed shut.
You wouldn't really worry for her, by now you knew she'd be
       all right, but there were moments
when for no reason you could put your finger on you'd feel
       something in yourself too rigidly attentive:
it was as though some soft herd-alarm, a warning signal from
       the species, had been permanently tripped.

Source: Collected Poems

932. The Spinner, by Paul Valéry

The garden rocks in a melodious swell.
Beside the open sash a woman spins
And grows bewildered by her snoring wheel.

Tired, having drunk the azure, she begins
To dream, guiding the evasive, wheedling hair
With feeble hands; her little head inclines.

By falling flowers formed, and the pure air,
A living spring suspended to the day
Waters her garden while she idles there.

A stem the restless wind lingers to sway
Inclines a vain salute of starry grace —
Its rose before the ancient wheel to lay.

The sleeper spins a single thread. The lace
Of fragile shadow strangely interweaves,
Spun with the thread her sleeping fingers trace.

The gentle spindle endlessly receives
The lazy-winding dream with a caress
That stirs the credulous skein which it relieves.

Beyond so many flowers the blue is less
Than blue, spinner bound by leaves and light:
The last tree burns. The green sky perishes.

The rose, your sister, where a saint delights,
Perfumes your vague brow with her innocent breath;
You languish ... you are an extinguished light

At the blue window, where you spun the thread.

(trans Barbara Gibbs)

Source: Selected Writings of Paul Valery

933. Poem 1.45 from the Sattasai, by Anonymous

Your girlhood
sweeps past like a torrent
days are fast travelers
not a single night's ever returned
And still you
cleave to this untenable
of chastity.

(trans Andrew Schelling)

Source: Columbia, Issue 41

934. To His Mistris Going to Bed, by John Donne

Come, Madam, come, all rest my powers defie,
Until I labour, I in labour lie.
The foe oft-times having the foe in sight,
Is tir'd with standing though he never fight.
Off with that girdle, like heavens Zone glistening,
But a far fairer world incompassing.
Unpin that spangled breastplate which you wear,
That th'eyes of busie fooles may be stopt there.
Unlace your self, for that harmonious chyme,
Tells me from you, that now it is bed time.
Off with that happy busk, which I envie,
That still can be, and still can stand so nigh.
Your gown going off, such beautious state reveals,
As when from flowry meads th'hills shadow steales.
Off with that wyerie Coronet and shew
The haiery Diademe which on you doth grow:
Now off with those shooes, and then safely tread
In this loves hallow'd temple, this soft bed.
In such white robes, heaven's Angels us'd to be
Receavd by men; Thou Angel bringst with thee
A heaven like Mahomets Paradice; and though
Ill spirits walk in white, we easly know,
By this these Angels from an evil sprite,
Those set our hairs, but these our flesh upright.
    Licence my roaving hands, and let them go,
Before, behind, between, above, below.
O my America! my new-found-land,
My kingdome, safeliest when with one man man'd,
My Myne of precious stones, My Emperie,
How blest am I in this discovering thee!
To enter in these bonds, is to be free;
Then where my hand is set, my seal shall be.
    Full nakedness! All joyes are due to thee,
As souls unbodied, bodies uncloth'd must be
To taste whole joyes. Gems which you women use
Are like Atlanta's balls, cast in mens views,
That when a fools eye lighteth on a Gem,
His earthly soul may covet theirs, not them.
Like pictures, or like books gay coverings made
For lay-men, are all women thus array'd;
Themselves are mystick books, which only wee
(Whom their imputed grace will dignifie)
Must see reveal'd. Then since that I may know;
As liberally, as to a Midwife, shew
Thy self: cast all, yea, this white lynnen hence,
Here is no pennance, much less innocence.
    To teach thee, I am naked first; why then
What needst thou have more covering than a man.

Source: The Complete Poetry and Selected Prose

935. A Character, by Alfred Lord Tennyson

With a half-glance upon the sky
At night he said, 'The wanderings
Of this most intricate Universe
Teach me the nothingness of things.'
Yet could not all creation pierce
Beyond the bottom of his eye.

He spake of beauty: that the dull
Saw no divinity in grass,
Life in dead stones, or spirit in air;
Then looking as 'twere in a glass,
He smooth'd his chin and sleek'd his hair,
And said the earth was beautiful.

He spake of virtue: not the gods
More purely, when they wish to charm
Pallas and Juno sitting by:
And with a sweeping of the arm,
And a lack-lustre dead-blue eye,
Devolved his rounded periods.

Most delicately hour by hour
He canvass'd human mysteries
And trod on silk, as if the winds
Blew his own praises in his eyes,
And stood aloof from other minds
In impotence of fancied power.

With lips depress'd as he were meek,
Himself unto himself he sold:
Upon himself himself did feed:
Quite, dispassionate, and cold,
And other than his form of creed,
With chisell'd features clear and sleek.

Source: The Works of Alfred Lord Tennyson

936. Saturday Evening in the Village, by Giacomo Leopardi

The young girl now comes back from the open fields,
About the set of sun,
Bearing her swathe of grass, and in her hand
A bunch of roses and of violets,
As is her custom, for
Tomorrow's holiday,
To make more beautiful her breast and hair.
And the old woman sits
Upon the steps among her neighbors, spinning,
Turning herself to where the day goes down,
And telling tales how she, in better times,
Decked herself out against the holiday,
And graceful still, and fresh,
Would dance the evening through among the rest,
Who were companions of her lovely prime.
Darkens the air, the sky
Takes on a deeper blue, and shadows fall
Cast by the roofs and hills
Beneath the whiteness of the rising moon.
And now the bell proclaims
The holy day's approach,
And at that sound, it seems,
Each heart is cheered once more.
The small boys shouting in troops
About the village square
Go leaping hither and thither
And make a cheerful noise;
Meanwhile the laborer goes whistling home,
Back to his frugal meal,
And thinks about the coming day of rest.

When every other light around is out,
All other sound is mute,
Hark to the hammer knocking, and the saw —
The carpenter is up,
Working by lamplight in his shuttered shop,
And labors on, in haste
To get all finished before morning comes.

This is the best-loved day of all the week,
Most full of hope and joy;
The morrow will bring back
Sadness and tedium, and each within his thought
Returns once more to find his usual labor.

You little playful boy,
Even this your flowering time
Is like a day filled up with grace and joy —
A clear, calm day that comes
As a precursor to life's festival.
Be happy, little boy;
A joyful time is this.
More I'd not tell you; but if your holiday
Seems somewhat tardy yet, let not that grieve you.

(trans John Heath-Stubbs)

Source: Selected Prose and Poetry

937. The Flood, by James Richardson (from "Under Water")

So even having heard the news, I stayed
by the bay window, page unturning,
as the water rose, as it was growing
unsuddenly out of the air, like evening,
wetless, exactly body temperature,
and with such slight adjustment, breathable,
that only my slowing hands showed it was there.

Like your Listen! as it branches up a stairwell,
or your voice at a question's end, it rose.
With a faint jangle of hangers, closets were emptied,
with a soft shuddering, the drawers,
and the walls subsiding and the lapse of doors
were an old song played back too slowly,
the I and love now moaning youuu and ohhh.

And I heard (because sound travels under water)
the dinner mutter of my neighbors,
untroubled, nothing about the water,
though there passed from left to right across my window
what must have been their furniture,
and to the glass loomed momentarily
and open-mouthed one or the other of their daughters.

Swallows, without a wingbeat, pour through evening
slowly as floaters dimly behind my gaze,
the phone rings, ember-slow, and streetlamps,
slowly as dragged-on cigarettes, grow strong.
The luster of eyes is an hour rising or draining,
and lightning of revelation, when it comes,
is a hand passing slowly down my face.

A glass of daffodils (for spring is floodtime)
at these depths is a blowless yellow gale,
the piano, in a haze of keys, faint savor.
Reach of my arms for reachlessness,
bay of my gaze now lessening in blue,
and all I have called my body: held notes failing,
as if I were being remembered, but vaguely.

Source: Interglacial: New and Selected Poems & Aphorisms