A Better Answer

Dear Cloe, how blubber'd is that pretty Face?
Thy cheek all on fire, and thy hair all uncurl'd:
Pr'ythee quit this caprice; and (as old Falstaf says)
Let us e'en talk a little like folks of this world.

How can'st thou presume, thou hast leave to destroy
The beauties, which Venus but lent to thy keeping?
Those looks were design'd to inspire love and joy:
More ord'nary eyes may serve people for weeping.

To be vexed at a trifle or two that I writ,
Your judgment at once, and my passion you wrong:


A Ballad of the Last King of Thule

There was a King of Thule
Whom a Witch-wife stole at birth;
In a country known but newly,
All under the dumb, huge Earth.

That King's in a Forest toiling;
And he never the green sward delves
But he sees all his green waves boiling
Over his sands and shelves;

In these sunsets vast and fiery,
In these dawns divine he sees
Hy-Brasil, Mannan and Eire,
And the Isle of Appletrees;

He watches, heart-still and breathless,
The clouds through the deep day trailing,


A Ballad of Hell

'A letter from my love to-day!
Oh, unexpected, dear appeal!'
She struck a happy tear away,
And broke the crimson seal.

'My love, there is no help on earth,
No help in heaven; the dead-man's bell
Must toll our wedding; our first hearth
Must be the well-paved floor of hell.'

The colour died from out her face,
Her eyes like ghostly candles shone;
She cast dread looks about the place,
Then clenched her teeth and read right on.

'I may not pass the prison door;
Here must I rot from day to day,


A Ballad

To that dear nymph, whose pow'rful name
Does every throbbing nerve inflame
(As the soft sound I low repeat,
My pulse unequal measures beat),
Whose eyes I never more shall see,
That once so sweetly shin'd on thee;
Go, gentle wind! and kindly bear
My tender wishes to the fair.
Hoh, ho, ho, &c.

Amidst her pleasures let her know
The secret anguish of my woe,
The midnight pang, the jealous hell,
Does in this tortur'd bosom dwell:
While laughing she, and full of play,


90 North

At home, in my flannel gown, like a bear to its floe,
I clambered to bed; up the globe's impossible sides
I sailed all night—till at last, with my black beard,
My furs and my dogs, I stood at the northern pole.

There in the childish night my companions lay frozen,
The stiff fur knocked at my starveling throat,
And I gave my great sigh: the flakes came huddling,
Were they really my end? In the darkness I turned to my rest.

—Here, the flag snaps in the glare and silence
Of the unbroken ice. I stand here,


4th July 1882, Malines. Midnight

Belgian, with cumbrous tread and iron boots,
Who in the murky middle of the night,
Designing to renew the foul pursuits
In which thy life is passed, ill-favoured wight,
And wishing on the platform to alight
Where thou couldst mingle with thy fellow brutes,
Didst walk the carriage floor (a leprous sight),
As o'er the sky some baleful meteor shoots:
Upon my slippered foot thou didst descend,
Didst rouse me from my slumbers mad with pain,
And laughedst loud for several minutes' space.


1951

Alone at night
in the wet city

the country's wit
is not memorable.

The wind has blown
all the trees down

but these anxieties
remain erect, being

the heart's deliberate
chambers of hurt

and fear whether
from a green apartment

seeming diamonds or
from an airliner

seeming fields. It's
not simple or tidy

though in rows of
rows and numbered;

the literal drifts
colorfully and

the hair is combed


1887

From Clee to heaven the beacon burns,
The shires have seen it plain,
From north and south the sign returns
And beacons burn again.

Look left, look right, the hills are bright,
The dales are light between,
Because 'tis fifty years to-night
That God has saved the Queen.

Now, when the flame they watch not towers
About the soil they trod,
Lads, we'll remember friends of ours
Who shared the work with God.

To skies that knit their heartstrings right,
To fields that bred them brave,


16. Of Gluttony and Feasting

He shows a fool in every wise
Who day and night forever hies
From feast to feat to fill his paunch
And make his figure round and staunch,
As though his mission he were filling
By drinking too much wine and swilling
And bringing hoar-frost o’er the grape.
In to the fool’s ship toss the ape,
He kills all reason, is not sage,
And will regret it in old age.
His head and hands will ever shake,
His life a speedy end may take,
For wine’s a very harmful thing,
And man shows no strong reasoning


He came unto His own, and His own received Him not

As Christ the Lord was passing by,
He came, one night, to a cottage door.
He came, a poor man, to the poor;
He had no bed whereon to lie.

He asked in vain for a crust of bread,
Standing there in the frozen blast.
The door was locked and bolted fast.
‘Only a beggar!’ the poor man said.

Christ the Lord went further on,
Until He came to a palace gate.
There a king was keeping his state,
In every window the candles shone.


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