828. Not love perhaps, by A. S. J. Tessimond

This is not Love perhaps – Love that lays down
Its life, that many waters cannot quench, nor the floods drown –
But something written in lighter ink, said in a lower tone:
Something perhaps especially our own:
A need at times to be together and talk –
And then the finding we can walk
More firmly through dark narrow places
And meet more easily nightmare faces:
A need to reach out sometimes hand to hand –
And then find Earth less like an alien land:
A need for alliance to defeat
The whisperers at the corner of the street:
A need for inns on roads, islands in seas, halts for discoveries
     to be shared,
Maps checked and notes compared:
A need at times of each for each
Direct as the need of throat and tongue for speech.

Source: Collected Poems

829. Home Village, Harry Martinson

In the gardens of the home village, where earthworms
loosen the soil, the columbine still grows
and grandfather clocks cluck old-fashionedly in each house.
Smoke rises from cottages like sacrificial pillars
and to those who come from afar, from the hard toils
of the world's oceans and the brothel alleys of Barcelona,
this peaceful village is like a silent lie.
A lie one would willingly hang on to, a lie
for which one would trample down all evil truths.

(trans Robin Fulton)

Source: Chickweed Wintergreen: Selected Poems

830. "I Sought the Wood in Winter," by Willa Cather

I sought the wood in summer
       When every twig was green;
The rudest boughs were tender,
       And buds were pink between.
Light-fingered aspens trembled
       In fitful sun and shade,
And daffodils were golden
       In every starry glade.
The brook sang like a robin—
       My hand could check him where
The lissome maiden willows
       Shook out their yellow hair.

"How frail a thing is Beauty,"
       I said, "when every breath
She gives the vagrant summer
       But swifter woos her death.
For this the star dust troubles,
       For this have ages rolled:
To deck the wood for bridal
       And slay her with the cold."

I sought the wood in winter
       When every leaf was dead;
Behind the wind-whipped branches
       The winter sun set red.
The coldest star was rising
       To greet that bitter air,
The oaks were writhen giants;
       Nor bud nor bloom was there.
The birches, white and slender,
       In deathless marble stood,
The brook, a white immortal,
       Slept silent in the wood.

"How sure a thing is Beauty,"
       I cried. "No bolt can slay,
No wave nor shock despoil her,
       No ravishers dismay.
Her warriors are the angels
       That cherish from afar,
Her warders people Heaven
       And watch from every star.
The granite hills are slighter,
       The sea more like to fail;
Behind the rose the planet,
       The Law behind the veil."

Source: Stories, Poems, and Other Writings

831. Returning, We Hear the Larks, by Isaac Rosenberg

Sombre the night is.
And though we have our lives, we know
What sinister threat lurks there.

Dragging these anguished limbs, we only know
This poison-blasted track opens on our camp –
On a little safe sleep.

But hark! joy – joy – strange joy.
Lo! heights of night ringing with unseen larks.
Music showering on our upturned list'ning faces.

Death could drop from the dark
As easily as song –
But song only dropped,
Like a blind man's dreams on the sand
By dangerous tides,
Like a girl's dark hair for she dreams no ruin lies there,
Or her kisses where a serpent hides.

Source: The Penguin Book of First World War Poetry

832. Memory, by Theodore Roethke


           In the slow world of dream,
           We breathe in unison.
           The outside dies within,
           And she knows all I am.


           She turns, as if to go,
           Half-bird, half-animal.
           The wind dies on the hill.
           Love's all. Love's all I know.


           A doe drinks by a stream,
           A doe and its fawn.
           When I follow after them,
           The grass changes to stone.

Source: The Collected Poems of Theodore Roethke

833. Te Deum, by Charles Reznikoff

Not because of victories
I sing,
having none,
but for the common sunshine,
the breeze,
the largess of the spring.

Not for victory
but for the day’s work done
as well as I was able;
not for a seat upon the dais
but at the common table.

Source: The Poems Of Charles Reznikoff: 1918-1975

834. Poem, by Kabir

Why should we two ever want to part?

Just as the leaf of the water rhubarb lives floating on the water,
we live as the great one and little one.

As the owl opens his eyes all night to the moon,
we live as the great one and little one.

This love between us goes back to the first humans;
it cannot be annihilated.

Here is Kabir's idea: as the river gives itself into the ocean,
what is inside me moves inside you.

(trans Robert Bly)

Source: Kabir: Ecstatic Poems

835. A Net to Snare the Moonlight, by Vachel Lindsay

(What the Man of Faith Said)

The dew, the rain and moonlight
All prove our Father's mind.
The dew, the rain and moonlight
Descend to bless mankind.

Come, let us see that all men
Have land to catch the rain,
Have grass to snare the spheres of dew,
And fields spread for the grain.

Yes, we would give to each poor man
Ripe wheat and poppies red,—
A peaceful place at evening
With the stars just overhead:

A net to snare the moonlight,
A sod spread to the sun,
A place of toil by daytime,
Of dreams when toil is done.

Source: Collected Poems

836. Women, by Tran Te Xuong

Tea, wine, and women:
My three perpetual plagues.
I must forebear.
I might be able to give up tea, maybe,
And even wine.

(trans Burton Raffel)

Source: From the Vietnamese: Ten Centuries of Poetry

837. O Pug!, by Stevie Smith

To the Brownes' pug dog, on my lap, in their car, coming home from Norfolk.

O Pug, some people do not like you,
But I like you,
Some people say you do not breathe, you snore,
I don't mind,
One person says he is always conscious of your behind,
Is that your fault?

Your own people love you,
All the people in the family that owns you
Love you: Good pug, they cry, Happy pug,

You are an old dog now
And in all your life
You have never had cause for a moment's anxiety,
In those great eyes of yours,
Those liquid and protuberant orbs,
Lies the shadow of immense insecurity. There
Panic walks.

Yes, yes, I know,
When your mistress is with you,
When your master
Takes you upon his lap,
Just then, for a moment,
Almost you are not frightened.

But at heart you are frightened, you always have been.

O Pug, obstinate old nervous breakdown,
In the midst of so much love,
And such comfort,
Still to feel unsafe and be afraid,

How one's heart goes out to you!

Source: Collected Poems

838. God Is Good. It Is a Beautiful Night, by Wallace Stevens

Look round, brown moon, brown bird, as you rise to fly,
Look round at the head and zither
On the ground.

Look round you as you start to rise, brown moon,
At the book and shoe, the rotted rose
At the door.

This was the place to which you came last night,
Flew close to, flew to without rising away.
Now, again,

In your light, the head is speaking. It reads the book.
It becomes the scholar again, seeking celestial

Picking thin music on the rustiest string,
Squeezing the reddest fragrance from the stump
Of summer.

The venerable song falls from your fiery wings.
The song of the great space of your age pierces
The fresh night.

Source: The Palm at the End of the Mind

839. Ardella, by Langston Hughes

I would liken you
To a night without stars
Were it not for your eyes.
I would liken you
To a sleep without dreams
Were it not for your songs.

Source: The Collected Poems of Langston Hughes

840. The Wind's Prophecy, by Thomas Hardy

I travel on by barren farms,
And gulls glint out like silver flecks
Against a cloud that speaks of wrecks,
And bellies down with black alarms.
I say: 'Thus from my lady's arms
I go; those arms I love the best!'
The wind replies from dip and rise,
'Nay; toward her arms thou journeyest.'

A distant verge morosely gray
Appears, while clots of flying foam
Break from its muddy monochrome,
And a light blinks up far away.
I sigh: 'My eyes now as all day
Behold her ebon loops of hair!'
Like bursting bonds the wind responds,
'Nay, wait for tresses flashing fair!'

From tides the lofty coastlands screen
Come smitings like the slam of doors,
Or hammerings on hollow floors,
As the swell cleaves through caves unseen.
Say I: 'Though broad this wild terrene,
Her city home is matched of none!'
From the hoarse skies the wind replies:
'Thou shouldst have said her sea-bord one.'

The all-prevailing clouds exclude
The one quick timorous transient star;
The waves outside where breakers are
Huzza like a mad multitude.
'Where the sun ups it, mist-imbued,'
I cry, 'there reigns the star for me!'
The wind outshrieks from points and peaks:
'Here, westward, where it downs, mean ye!'

Yonder the headland, vulturine,
Snores like old Skrymer in his sleep,
And every chasm and every steep
Blackens as wakes each pharos-shine.
'I roam, but one is safely mine,'
I say. 'God grant that she stay my own!'
Low laughs the wind as if it grinned:
'Thy Love is one thou'st not yet known.'

Source: The Complete Poems