The Secret People

Smile at us, pay us, pass us; but do not quite forget;
For we are the people of England, that never have spoken yet.
There is many a fat farmer that drinks less cheerfully,
There is many a free French peasant who is richer and sadder than we.
There are no folk in the whole world so helpless or so wise.
There is hunger in our bellies, there is laughter in our eyes;
You laugh at us and love us, both mugs and eyes are wet:
Only you do not know us. For we have not spoken yet.


The Sea to the Shore

Lo, I have loved thee long, long have I yearned and entreated!
Tell me how I may win thee, tell me how I must woo.
Shall I creep to thy white feet, in guise of a humble lover ?
Shall I croon in mild petition, murmuring vows anew ?

Shall I stretch my arms unto thee, biding thy maiden coyness,
Under the silver of morning, under the purple of night ?
Taming my ancient rudeness, checking my heady clamor­
Thus, is it thus I must woo thee, oh, my delight?

Nay, 'tis no way of the sea thus to be meekly suitor­


The Sea And The Man

You will not tame this sea
either by humility or rapture.
But you can laugh
in its face.

Laughter
was invented by those
who live briefly
as a burst of laughter.

The eternal sea
will never learn to laugh.


Translated from the Polish by Czeslaw Milosz and Leonard Nathan

Anonymous Submission


The Royal Tombs Of Golconda

I MUSE among these silent fanes
Whose spacious darkness guards your dust;
Around me sleep the hoary plains
That hold your ancient wars in trust.

I pause, my dreaming spirit hears,
Across the wind's unquiet tides,
The glimmering music of your spears,
The laughter of your royal brides.

In vain, O Kings, doth time aspire
To make your names oblivion's sport,
While yonder hill wears like a tier
The ruined grandeur of your fort.

Though centuries falter and decline,


The Rovers

Over the fields we go, through the sweets of the purple clover,
That letters a message for us as for every vagrant rover;
Before us the dells are abloom, and a leaping brook calls after,
Feeling its kinship with us in lore of dreams and laughter.

Out of the valleys of moonlight elfin voices are calling;
Down from the misty hills faint, far greetings are falling;
Whisper the grasses to us, murmuring gleeful and airy,
Knowing us pixy-led, seeking the haunts of faery.


The rock-a-by lady

The Rock-a-By Lady from Hushaby street
Comes stealing; comes creeping;
The poppies they hang from her head to her feet,
And each hath a dream that is tiny and fleet -
She bringeth her poppies to you, my sweet,
When she findeth you sleeping!

There is one little dream of a beautiful drum -
"Rub-a-dub!" it goeth;
There is one little dream of a big sugar-plum,
And lo! thick and fast the other dreams come
Of popguns that bang, and tin tops that hum,
And a trumpet that bloweth!


The River Maiden

Her gown was simple woven wool,
But, in repayment,
Her body sweet made beautiful
The simplest raiment:
For all its fine, melodious curves
With life a-quiver
Were graceful as the bends and swerves
Of her own river.

Her round arms, from the shoulders down
To sweet hands slender,
The sun had kissed them amber-brown
With kisses tender.

For though she loved the secret shades
Where ferns grow stilly,
And wild vines droop their glossy braids,
And gleams the lily,


The Requital

Loud roared the tempest,
Fast fell the sleet;
A little Child Angel
Passed down the street,
With trailing pinions
And weary feet.

The moon was hidden;
No stars were bright;
So she could not shelter
In heaven that night,
For the Angels’ ladders
Are rays of light.

She beat her wings
At each windowpane,
And pleaded for shelter,
But all in vain;—
“Listen,” they said,
“To the pelting rain!”

She sobb’d, as the laughter
And mirth grew higher,
“Give me rest and shelter


The Raft

The whole world on a raft! A King is here,
The record of his grandeur but a smear.
Is it his deacon-beard, or old bald pate
That makes the band upon his whims to wait?
Loot and mud-honey have his soul defiled.
Quack, pig, and priest, he drives camp-meetings wild
Until they shower their pennies like spring rain
That he may preach upon the Spanish main.
What landlord, lawyer, voodoo-man has yet
A better native right to make men sweat?

The whole world on a raft! A Duke is here


The Quality of Courage

Black trees against an orange sky,
Trees that the wind shook terribly,
Like a harsh spume along the road,
Quavering up like withered arms,
Writhing like streams, like twisted charms
Of hot lead flung in snow. Below
The iron ice stung like a goad,
Slashing the torn shoes from my feet,
And all the air was bitter sleet.

And all the land was cramped with snow,
Steel-strong and fierce and glimmering wan,
Like pale plains of obsidian.
-- And yet I strove -- and I was fire


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