X. On Dover Cliffs

ON these white cliffs, that calm above the flood
Rear their o'er-shadowing heads, and at their feet
Scarce hear the surge that has for ages beat,
Sure many a lonely wanderer has stood;
And, whilst the lifted murmur met his ear,
And o'er the distant billows the still Eve
Sail'd slow, has thought of all his heart must leave
To-morrow -- of the friends he lov'd most dear, --
Of social scenes, from which he wept to part: --
But if, like me, he knew how fruitless all
The thoughts, that would full fain the past recall,


Written In A Young Lady's Album

Sweet friend, the world, like some fair infant blessed,
Radiant with sportive grace, around thee plays;
Yet 'tis not as depicted in thy breast--
Not as within thy soul's fair glass, its rays
Are mirrored. The respectful fealty
That my heart's nobleness hath won for thee,
The miracles thou workest everywhere,
The charms thy being to this life first lent,--
To it, mere charms to reckon thou'rt content,
To us, they seem humanity so fair.
The witchery sweet of ne'er-polluted youth,
The talisman of innocence and truth--


Wrinkles

For Naomi Lazard

Sometimes I can't wait until I look like Nadezhda Mandelstam.
-- Naomi Lazard

My friends are tired.
The ones who are married are tired
of being married.
The ones who are single are tired
of being single.

They look at their wrinkles.
The ones who are single attribute their wrinkles
to being single.
The ones who are married attribute their wrinkles
to being married.

They have very few wrinkles.
Even taken together,
they have very few wrinkles.


Wot a Pair

I waz walking down Wyefront street
When me trousers ran away,
I waz feeling incomplete
But still me trousers would not stay,
When I found where they had gone
De pair addressed me rather blunt,
And they told me they were sick of being put on
Back to front.

I told dem I would treat dem good
And wear dem back to back,
I promised dem protection
From a friend who is a mac,
Me trousers did not believe a single word I had to say,
And me underpants were laughing
When me trousers ran away.


Womanhood

She must be honest, both in thought and deed,
Of generous impulse, and above all greed;
Not seeking praise, or place, or power, or pelf,
But life’s best blessings for her higher self,
Which means the best for all.
She must have faith,
To make good friends of Trouble, Pain, and Death,
And understand their message.
She should be
As redolent with tender sympathy
As a rose is with fragrance.
Cheerfulness
Should be her mantle, even though her dress


Winter Solstice

When you startle awake in the dark morning
heart pounding breathing fast
sitting bolt upright staring into
dark whirlpool black hole
feeling its suction

Get out of bed
knock at the door of your nearest friend
ask to lie down ask to be held

Listen while whispered words
turn the hole into deep night sky
stars close together
winter moon rising over white fields
nearby wren rustling dry leaves
distant owl echoing
two people walking up the road laughing

Let your soul laugh


Words against Lesbia to Furius and Aurelius

Furius and Aurelius, you friends of Catullus,
whether he penetrates farthest India,
where the Eastern waves strike the shore
with deep resonance,
or among the Hyrcanians and supple Arabs,
or Sacians and Parthian bowmen,
or where the seven-mouthed Nile
colours the waters,
or whether he’ll climb the high Alps,
viewing great Caesar’s monuments,
the waters of Gallic Rhine,
and the furthest fierce Britons,
whatever the will of the heavens
brings, ready now for anything,
tell my girl this in a few


Women

Women have no wilderness in them,
They are provident instead,
Content in the tight hot cell of their hearts
To eat dusty bread.

They do not see cattle cropping red winter grass,
They do not hear
Snow water going down under culverts
Shallow and clear.

They wait, when they should turn to journeys,
They stiffen, when they should bend.
They use against themselves that benevolence
To which no man is friend.

They cannot think of so many crops to a field


Without Looking

Either at my friend's daughter's
sixteen-year-old body dumped
on the morgue slab, T-shirt
stuck fast to one ripped
breast I identified quick, and then
got out of there

or at the old gentleman
with tubes in the living room, spittle
stained in his wispy
beard, out of
the corner of my eye I hardly
notice it, how

could I, drink in hand
at five-thirty, at the least
sign of pain one of us always itches
to turn away, another turns
over in sleep, groans
O, we who are so lucky


With two spoons for two spoons

How trifling shall these gifts appear
Among the splendid many
That loving friends now send to cheer
Harvey and Ellen Jenney.

And yet these baubles symbolize
A certain fond relation
That well beseems, as I surmise,
This festive celebration.

Sweet friends of mine, be spoons once more,
And with your tender cooing
Renew the keen delights of yore--
The rapturous bliss of wooing.

What though that silver in your hair
Tells of the years aflying?
'T is yours to mock at Time and Care


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