Under Siege

Here on the slopes of hills, facing the dusk and the cannon of time
Close to the gardens of broken shadows,
We do what prisoners do,
And what the jobless do:
We cultivate hope.

***
A country preparing for dawn. We grow less intelligent
For we closely watch the hour of victory:
No night in our night lit up by the shelling
Our enemies are watchful and light the light for us
In the darkness of cellars.

***
Here there is no "I".
Here Adam remembers the dust of his clay.

***


To My Brothers Sisters Adrift in Troubled Times This Poem of the Moon

Since the disorders in Henan and the famine in Guannei, my brothers and sisters have been scattered. Looking at the moon, I express my thoughts in this poem, which I send to my eldest brother at Fuliang, my seventh brother at Yuqian, My fifteen brother at Wujiang and my younger brothers and sisters at Fuli and Xiagui.

My heritage lost through disorder and famine,
My brothers and sisters flung eastward and westward,
My fields and gardens wrecked by the war,
My own flesh and blood become scum of the street,


To My Wife

With a Copy of My Poems

I can write no stately proem
As a prelude to my lay;
From a poet to a poem
I would dare to say.

For if of these fallen petals
One to you seem fair,
Love will waft it till it settles
On your hair.

And when wind and winter harden
All the loveless land,
It will whisper of the garden,
You will understand.


To My Noble Kinsman Thomas Stanley, Esq. On His Lyrick Poem

I.
What means this stately tablature,
The ballance of thy streins,
Which seems, in stead of sifting pure,
T' extend and rack thy veins?
Thy Odes first their own harmony did break:
For singing, troth, is but in tune to speak.

II.
Nor trus thy golden feet and wings.
It may be thought false melody
T' ascend to heav'n by silver strings;
This is Urania's heraldry.
Thy royal poem now we may extol,
As truly Luna blazon'd upon Sol.

III.


To My Brothers

O BROTHERS, who must ache and stoop
O’er wordy tasks in London town,
How scantly Laura trips for you—
A poem in a gown!
How rare if Grub-street grew a lawn!
How sweet if Nature’s lap could spare
A dandelion for the Strand,
A cowslip for Mayfair!

But here, from immaterial lyres,
There rings in easy confidence
The blackbird’s bright philosophy
On apple-spray or fence:
For ploughmen wending home from toil
Some patriot thrush outpours his lay,


To My Brother Poet, Seeking Peace

People wish to be settled. Only as long as they are unsettled is there any hope for them.
-- Thoreau

My life has been
the instrument
for a mouth
I have never seen,
breathing wind
which comes
from I know not
where,
arranging and changing
my moods,
so as to make
an opening
for his voice.

Or hers.
Muse, White Goddess
mother with invisible
milk,
androgynous god
in whose grip
I struggle,
turning this way and that,


To Mr. Edward Howard, on his Incomparable, Incomprehensible Poem Called The British Princes

Come on, ye critics! Find one fault who dare,
For, read it backward like a witch's prayer,
'Twill do as well; throw not away your jests
On solid nonsense that abides all tests.
Wit, like tierce claret, when 't begins to pall,
Neglected lies and's of no use at all;
But in its full perfection of decay,
Turns vinegar and comes again in play.
This simile shall stand in thy defence
'Gainst such dull rogues as now and then write sense.
He lies, dear Ned, who says thy brain is barren,


To Make A Dadist Poem

Take a newspaper.
Take some scissors.
Choose from this paper an article the length you want to make your poem.
Cut out the article.
Next carefully cut out each of the words that make up this article and put them all in a bag.
Shake gently.
Next take out each cutting one after the other.
Copy conscientiously in the order in which they left the bag.
The poem will resemble you.
And there you are--an infinitely original author of charming sensibility, even though unappreciated by the vulgar herd.


To Lucy, Countess of Bedford, with John Donne's Satires

Lucy, you brightness of our sphere, who are
Life of the Muses' day, their morning star!
If works, not th' author's, their own grace should look,
Whose poems would not wish to be your book?
But these, desir'd by you, the maker's ends
Crown with their own. Rare poems ask rare friends.
Yet satires, since the most of mankind be
Their unavoided subject, fewest see;
For none e'er took that pleasure in sin's sense
But, when they heard it tax'd, took more offence.


To E.T.

I slumbered with your poems on my breast
Spread open as I dropped them half-read through
Like dove wings on a figure on a tomb
To see, if in a dream they brought of you,

I might not have the chance I missed in life
Through some delay, and call you to your face
First soldier, and then poet, and then both,
Who died a soldier-poet of your race.

I meant, you meant, that nothing should remain
Unsaid between us, brother, and this remained--
And one thing more that was not then to say:


Pages

Subscribe to RSS - poem