A Curse for Kings

A curse upon each king who leads his state,
No matter what his plea, to this foul game,
And may it end his wicked dynasty,
And may he die in exile and black shame.

If there is vengeance in the Heaven of Heavens,
What punishment could Heaven devise for these
Who fill the rivers of the world with dead,
And turn their murderers loose on all the seas!

Put back the clock of time a thousand years,
And make our Europe, once the world's proud Queen,
A shrieking strumpet, furious fratricide,


A Cry from South Africa

On building a chapel at Cape Town, for the Negro slaves of the colony, in 1828.


Afric, from her remotest strand,
Lifts to high heaven one fetter'd hand,
And to the utmost of her chain
Stretches the other o'er the main:
Then, kneeling 'midst ten thousand slaves,
Utters a cry across the waves,
Of power to reach to either pole,
And pierce, like conscience, through the soul,
Though dreary, faint, and low the sound,
Like life-blood gurgling from a wound,
As if her heart, before it broke,


A Cross-Road Epitaph

"Am Kreuzweg wird begraben
Wer selber brachte sich um."



When first the world grew dark to me
I call'd on God, yet came not he.
Whereon, as wearier wax'd my lot,
On Love I call'd, but Love came not.
When a worse evil did befall,
Death, on thee only did I call.


A Cradle Song, The Arbor of Amorous Devices, 1593-4

COME little babe, come silly soul,
Thy father's shame, thy mother's grief,
Born as I doubt to all our dole,
And to thyself unhappy chief:
   Sing lullaby, and lap it warm,
   Poor soul that thinks no creature harm.

Thou little think'st and less dost know
The cause of this thy mother's moan;
Thou want'st the wit to wail her woe,
And I myself am all alone:
   Why dost thou weep? why dost thou wail?
   And know'st not yet what thou dost ail.

Come, little wretch--ah, silly heart!


A Contemplation upon Flowers

BRAVE flowers--that I could gallant it like you,
   And be as little vain!
You come abroad, and make a harmless show,
   And to your beds of earth again.
You are not proud: you know your birth:
For your embroider'd garments are from earth.

You do obey your months and times, but I
   Would have it ever Spring:
My fate would know no Winter, never die,
   Nor think of such a thing.
O that I could my bed of earth but view
And smile, and look as cheerfully as you!


A Common Thought

Somewhere on this earthly planet
In the dust of flowers to be,
In the dewdrop, in the sunshine,
Sleeps a solemn day for me.

At this wakeful hour of midnight
I behold it dawn in mist,
And I hear a sound of sobbing
Through the darkness -- hist! oh, hist!

In a dim and murky chamber,
I am breathing life away;
Some one draws a curtain softly,
And I watch the broadening day.

As it purples in the zenith,
As it brightens on the lawn,
There's a hush of death about me,


A Clock Striking Midnight

Hark to the echo of Time’s footsteps; gone
Thise moments are into the unseen grave
Of ages. Thy have vanished nameless. None,
While they are deep under the eddying wave
Of the chaotic past, shall placea stone
Sacred to these, the nurses of the brave,
The mighty, and the good. Futurity
Broods on the ocean, hatching ‘neath her wing
Invisible to man the century,
That on its hundered feet, a sluggish thing
Gnawing away the world, shall totter by
And sweep dead mortals with it. As I sing


A City's Death By Fire

After that hot gospeller has levelled all but the churched sky,
I wrote the tale by tallow of a city's death by fire;
Under a candle's eye, that smoked in tears, I
Wanted to tell, in more than wax, of faiths that were snapped like wire.
All day I walked abroad among the rubbled tales,
Shocked at each wall that stood on the street like a liar;
Loud was the bird-rocked sky, and all the clouds were bales
Torn open by looting, and white, in spite of the fire.
By the smoking sea, where Christ walked, I asked, why


A City Winter

1
I understand the boredom of the clerks
fatigue shifting like dunes within their eyes
a frightful nausea gumming up the works
that once was thought aggression in disguise.
Do you remember? then how lightly dead
seemed the moon when over factories
it languid slid like a barrage of lead
above the heart, the fierce inventories
of desire. Now women wander our dreams
carrying money and to our sleep's shame
our hands twitch not for swift blood-sunk triremes
nor languorous white horses nor ill fame,


A Christmas Eve

GOOD fellows are laughing and drinking
(To-night no heart should grieve),
But I am of old days thinking,
Alone, on Christmas Eve.
Old memories fast are springing
To life again; old rhymes
Once more in my brain are ringing—
Ah, God be with old times!
There never was man so lonely
But ghosts walked him beside,
For Death our spirits can only
By veils of sense divide.
Numberless as the blades of
Grass in the fields that grow,
Around us hover the shades of


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