Category Archives: Poem


T. S. Eliot

If space and time, as sages say,
    Are things which cannot be,
The fly that lives a single day
    Has lived as long as we.
But let us live while yet we may,
    While love and life are free,
For time is time, and runs away,
    Though sages disagree.
 The flowers I sent thee when the dew
    Was trembling on the vine,
Were withered ere the wild bee flew
    To suck the eglantine.
But let us haste to pluck anew
    Nor mourn to see them pine,
And though the flowers of love be few
    Yet let them be divine..

Song-ts-eliot“Song” was published in The Harvard Advocate on June 3, 1907.

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The Hummingbird Never Came

R. S. Thomas
The hummingbird never came back
The Hummingbird Never Came

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by Lavinia Greenlaw

THE SPIRIT OF THE STAIRCASEIn our game of flight, half-way down
was as near mid-air as it got: a point
of no return we’d fling ourselves at
over and over, riding pillows or trays.
We were quick to smooth the edge
of every step, grinding the carpet to glass
on which we’d lose our grip.
The new stairs were our new toy,
the descent to an odd extension,
four new rooms at flood level
in a sunken garden – a wing
dislocated from a hive. Young bees
with soft stripes and borderless nights,
we’d so far been squared away
in a twin-set of bunkbeds, so tight-knit,
my brother and I once woke up finishing
a conversation begun in a dream.
It had been the simplest exchange,
one I’d give much to return to:
the greetings of shadows unsurprised
at having met beneath the trees
and happy to set off again, alone,
back into the dark.

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The Computer is Unable

R. S. Thomas

The Computer is UnableThe computer is unable

to find God: no code

number, no address.

Technology stalls

without the material

we provide it. There must be

some other way. ‘Try

looking,’ says the eye,

‘Try listening’ the ear

answers. I stare into distance:

nothing but the gantries

where art is crucified in

the cause of new art.

I have heard amid uproar

in London the black redstart

singing among the ruins;

so I strain now amid

the times’ hubbub for fear

the still, small voice should

escape me. ‘Is he dumb?’

Wrong language. ‘Am I

impatient?’ I resort once

again to the word processor.

But where a poem in his honour

should emerge, all in bud

like a birch tree, there is only

the machine’s repetitions,

parallel tramlines of prose

never to come together in praise.

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The Old Stoic

by Emily Brontë

The Old StoicRiches I hold in light esteem,
   And Love I laugh to scorn;
And lust of fame was but a dream,
   That vanished with the morn:
And if I pray, the only prayer
   That moves my lips for me
Is, “Leave the heart that now I bear,
   And give me liberty!”
Yes, as my swift days near their goal:
   ‘Tis all that I implore;
In life and death a chainless soul,
   With courage to endure.

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Via Crucis

R. S. Thomas

Via CrucisIt is a perpetual

coming-to from the dream’s

anaesthetic to be brought

face to face with reality’s

mural, where through gaps

in the traffic we perceive

nature mustering its forces

for a last stand. This

is time’s Appian way,

where the skulls of its victims

are ablaze still: a syphilitic

Schubert, a deranged

Van Gogh; Bruno, and Pascal

crackling at the mind’s

stake, and high above

all on mankind’s tree

the would-be redeemer shrivelling

under his radioactive halo.
Listen to Via Crucis by Franz Liszt (1879)
Piano version played by Reinbert de Leeuw

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Today’s Birthday: Amy Clampitt

Amy_ClampittAmy Clampitt was born on June 15, 1920, and brought up in New Providence, Iowa. She wrote poetry in high school, but then ceased and focused her energies on writing fiction instead. She graduated from Grinnell College, and from that time on lived mainly in New York City. To support herself, she worked as a secretary at the Oxford University Press, a reference librarian at the Audubon Society, and a freelance editor. Not until the mid-1960s, when she was in her forties, did she return to writing poetry. Her first poem was published by The New Yorker in 1978. In 1983, at the age of sixty-three, she published her first full-length collection, The Kingfisher (Alfred A. Knopf).
By Amy Clampitt

Orb-weaver shivering

among the filaments: how many

fibers generated from within

transect the air?

How many hirsute, sightless

gropings anchor

these redwood trees, suffuse

the flowery traceries

of the oxalis? The veining

in this hand, these

eyeballs, the circuitous

and scintillating

leap within the brain—

the synapse,

the waterfall, the black-

thread mane of fern

beside it—all, all

suspend, here:

everywhere, existences

hang by a hair
Read “The Hickory Grove” by Amy Clampitt

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“The Flowers”

by Stéphane Mallarmé  (translated by Henry Weinfield)

The Flowers by Stéphane Mallarmé“From golden showers of the ancient skies,

On the first day, and the eternal snow of stars,

You once unfastened giant calyxes

For the young earth still innocent of scars:

Young gladioli with the necks of swans,

Laurels divine, of exiled souls the dream,

Vermilion as the modesty of dawns

Trod by the footsteps of the seraphim;

The hyacinth, the myrtle gleaming bright,

And, like the flesh of woman, the cruel rose,

Hérodiade blooming in the garden light,

She that from wild and radiant blood arose!

And made the sobbing whiteness of the lily

That skims a sea of sighs, and as it wends

Through the blue incense of horizons, palely

Toward the weeping moon in dreams ascends!

Hosanna on the lute and in the censers,

Lady, and of our purgatorial groves!

Through heavenly evenings let the echoes answer,

Sparkling haloes, glances of rapturous love!

Mother, who in your strong and righteous bosom,

Formed calyxes balancing the future flask,

Capacious flowers with the deadly balsam

For the weary poet withering on the husk.”

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While Hearing the Archduke Trio

Robert Lowell

While Hearing the Archduke TrioNone march in the Archduke’s War, or worse lost cause.

Without promise of plunder, murder, gallantry.

Marriage is less remunerative than war –

Two waspheads lying on one pillowship,

Drowning, one toe just skating the sheet for bedrock.

The bright moonlight mackerels heaven in my garden,

Fair flesh of the turtle given shape by shell,

Eve shining like an illuminated rib,

Forsaking this garden for another bondage.

I so pray this pretty sky to stay:

My high blood, fireclouds, the first dew,

Elms black on the moon, our birdhouse on a pipe….

Was the Archduke, the music-patron, childless? Beethoven

Married the single muse, her ear of flint.
Listen to Rubinstein, Heifetz, Feuermann play Beethoven’s Piano Trio No 7 “Archduke.”

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R. S. Thomas

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