916. Long-Legged Fly, by W. B. Yeats

That civilisation may not sink,
Its great battle lost,
Quiet the dog, tether the pony
To a distant post;
Our master Caesar is in the tent
Where the maps are spread,
His eyes fixed upon nothing,
A hand under his head.
Like a long-legged fly upon the stream
His mind moves upon silence.

That the topless towers be burnt
And men recall that face,
Move most gently if move you must
In this lonely place.
She thinks, part woman, three parts a child,
That nobody looks; her feet
Practise a tinker shuffle
Picked up on a street.
Like a long-legged fly upon the stream
Her mind moves upon silence.

That girls at puberty may find
The first Adam in their thought,
Shut the door of the Pope's chapel,
Keep those children out.
There on that scaffolding reclines
Michael Angelo.
With no more sound than the mice make
His hand moves to and fro.
Like a long-legged fly upon the stream
His mind moves upon silence.

Source: The Collected Poems of W.B. Yeats

917. Sonnet, by John Keats

After dark vapours have oppress'd our plains
    For a long dreary season, comes a day
    Born of the gentle South, and clears away
From the sick heavens all unseemly stains.
The anxious month, relieved of its pains,
    Takes as a long-lost right the feel of May;
    The eyelids with the passing coolness play
Like rose leaves with the drip of Summer rains.
The calmest thoughts come round us; as of leaves
    Budding—fruit ripening in stillness—Autumn suns
Smiling at eve upon the quiet sheaves—
Sweet Sappho's cheek—a smiling infant's breath—
    The gradual sand that through an hour-glass runs—
A woodland rivulet—a Poet's death.

Source: Complete Poems of Keats and Shelley

918. The Lion in Love, by La Fontaine

To Mademoiselle de Sévigné

Mademoiselle—goddess instead—
In whom the Graces find a school
Although you are more beautiful,
Even if with averted head,
Might you not be entertained
By a tale that is unadorned—
Hearing with no more than a quiver
Of a lion whom Love knew how to conquer.
Love is a curious mastery,
In name alone a felicity.
Better know of than know the thing.
If too personal and thus trespassing,
I'm saying what may seem to you an offense,
A fable could not offend your ear.
This one, assured of your lenience,
Attests its devotion embodied here,
And kneels in sworn obedience.

Before their speech was obstructed,
Lions or such as were attracted
To young girls, sought an alliance.
Why not? since as paragons of puissance,
They were at that time knightly fellows
Of mettle and intelligence
Adorned by manes like haloes.

The point of the preamble follows.
A lion—one in a multitude—
Met in a meadow as he fared,
A shepherdess for whom he cared.
He sought to win her if he could,
Though the father would have preferred
A less ferocious son-in-law.
To consent undoubtedly was hard;
Fear meant that the alternate was barred.
Moreover, refuse and he foresaw
That some fine day the two might explain
Clandestine marriage as the chain
That fettered the lass, bewitched beyond cure,
By fashions conducive to hauteur,
And a fancy that shaggy shoulder fur
Made her willful lover handsomer.
The father with despair choked down,
Said though at heart constrained to frown,
"The child is a dainty one; better wait;
You might let your claw points scratch her
When your heavy forepaws touch her.
You could if not too importunate,
Have your claws clipped. And there in front,
See that your teeth are filed blunt,
Because a kiss might be enjoyed
By you the more, I should think,
If my daughter were not forced to shrink
Because improvidently annoyed."
The enthralled animal mellowed,
His mind's eye having been shuttered.
Without teeth or claws it followed
That the fortress was shattered.
Dogs were loosed; defenses were gone:
The consequence was slight resistance.

Love, ah Love, when your slipknot's drawn,
One can but say, "Farewell, good sense."

(trans Marianne Moore)

Source: Complete Poems

919. Negative Indicative, by Philip Larkin

Never to walk from the station's lamps and laurels
Carrying my father's lean old leather case
Crumbling like the register at the hotel;
Never to be shown upstairs

To a plain room smelling of soap, a towel
Neatly hung on the back of a rush chair,
The floor uneven, the grate choked with a frill,
Muslin curtains hiding the market square;

Never to visit the lame girl who lives three doors
Down Meeting-House Lane — 'This pile is ready; these
I shall finish tonight, with luck' — to watch, as she pours
Tea from a gold-lined jubilee pot, her eyes,

Her intelligent face; never, walking away
As light fails, to notice the first star
Pulsing alone in a long shell-coloured sky,
And remember the year has turned, and feel the air

Alive with the emblematic sound of water —

Source: Collected Poems

920. Winter (from Love's Labour Lost), by William Shakespeare

When icicles hang by the wall,
    And Dick the shepherd blows his nail,
And Tom bears logs into the hall,
    And milk comes frozen home in pail;
When blood is nipped, and ways be foul,
Then nightly sings the staring owl:
Tu-whit, tu-whoo! ―a merry note,
While greasy Joan doth keel the pot.

When all aloud the wind doth blow,
    And coughing drowns the parson's saw,
And birds sit brooding in the snow,
    And Marian's nose looks red and raw;
When roasted crabs hiss in the bowl,
Then nightly sings the staring owl:
Tu-whit, tu-whoo! ―a merry note,
While greasy Joan doth keel the pot.

Source: The Norton Shakespeare

921. Journey, by Tomas Transtromer

On the subway platform.
A crowd among billboards
in a staring dead light.

The train comes and fetches
faces and briefcases.

Darkness next. We sit
like statues in the cars
hauled into the tunnels.
Strain, dreams, strain.

At stations below sea level
the news of darkness is sold.
People moving melancholy,
mum, beneath clockfaces.

The train carries a load
of street clothes and souls.

Looks in all directions,
passing through the mountain.
Nothing changing yet.

But near the surface begins
the hum of freedom's bees.
We emerge from the earth.

The countryside flaps its wings
once, and then subsides
under us, wide and greenish.

Shucks of corn blow in
across the platforms.

End of the line! I ride
beyond the end of the line.

How many aboard? Four,
five, hardly more.

Houses, roads, skies,
fjords, mountains
have opened their windows.

(trans May Swenson)

Source: Selected Poems, 1954-1986