Two Sonnets


I

SAINTS have adored the lofty soul of you.
Poets have whitened at your high renown.
We stand among the many millions who
Do hourly wait to pass your pathway down.

You, so familiar, once were strange: we tried
To live as of your presence unaware.
But now in every road on every side
We see your straight and steadfast signpost there.

I think it like that signpost in my land
Hoary and tall, which pointed me to go
Upward, into the hills, on the right hand,


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Twa Sisters O' Binnorie

There were twa sisters sat in a bow'r;
(Binnorie, O Binnorie!)
A knight cam' there, a noble wooer,
By the bonny mill-dams o' Binnorie.
He courted the eldest wi' glove and ring,
(Binnorie, O Binnorie!)
But he lo'ed the youngest aboon a' thing,
By the bonny mill-dams o' Binnorie.
The eldest she was vexed sair,
(Binnorie, O Binnorie!)
And sair envìed her sister fair,
By the bonny mill-dams o' Binnorie.

Upon a morning fair and clear,
(Binnorie, O Binnorie !)


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Tornfallet

There is a meadow in Sweden

where I lie smitten,

eyes stained with clouds'

white ins and outs.


And about that meadow

roams my widow

plaiting a clover

wreath for her lover.


I took her in marriage

in a granite parish.

The snow lent her whiteness,

a pine was a witness.


She'd swim in the oval

lake whose opal

mirror, framed by bracken,

felt happy, broken.



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Year Of Meteors, 1859 '60


YEAR of meteors! brooding year!
I would bind in words retrospective, some of your deeds and signs;
I would sing your contest for the 19th Presidentiad;
I would sing how an old man, tall, with white hair, mounted the
scaffold in Virginia;
(I was at hand--silent I stood, with teeth shut close--I watch'd;
I stood very near you, old man, when cool and indifferent, but
trembling with age and your unheal'd wounds, you mounted the
scaffold;)


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XXXVII

Pardon, oh, pardon, that my soul should make,
Of all that strong divineness which I know
For thine and thee, an image only so
Formed of the sand, and fit to shift and break.
It is that distant years which did not take
Thy sovranty, recoiling with a blow,
Have forced my swimming brain to undergo
Their doubt and dread, and blindly to forsake
Thy purity of likeness and distort
Thy worthiest love to a worthless counterfeit:
As if a shipwrecked Pagan, safe in port,
His guardian sea-god to commemorate,


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Written After Swimming from Sestos to Abydos

If, in the month of dark December,
Leander, who was nightly wont
(What maid will not the tale remember?)
To cross thy stream, broad Hellespont!

If, when the wintry tempest roar'd,
He sped to Hero, nothing loth,
And thus of old thy current pour'd,
Fair Venus! how I pity both!

For me, degenerate modern wretch,
Though in the genial month of May,
My dripping limbs I faintly stretch,
And think I've done a feat today.

But since he cross'd the rapid tide,


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Wooing Song

LOVE is the blossom where there blows
Every thing that lives or grows:
Love doth make the Heav'ns to move,
And the Sun doth burn in love:
Love the strong and weak doth yoke,
And makes the ivy climb the oak,
Under whose shadows lions wild,
Soften'd by love, grow tame and mild:
Love no med'cine can appease,
He burns the fishes in the seas:
Not all the skill his wounds can stench,
Not all the sea his fire can quench.
Love did make the bloody spear
Once a leavy coat to wear,


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With Kit, Age 7, at the Beach

We would climb the highest dune,
from there to gaze and come down:
the ocean was performing;
we contributed our climb.

Waves leapfrogged and came
straight out of the storm.
What should our gaze mean?
Kit waited for me to decide.

Standing on such a hill,
what would you tell your child?
That was an absolute vista.
Those waves raced far, and cold.

'How far could you swim, Daddy,
in such a storm?'
'As far as was needed,' I said,
and as I talked, I swam.


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Wilfred

What of these tender feet
   That have never toddled yet?
   What dances shall they beat,
   With what red vintage wet?
In what wild way will they march or stray, by what sly paynims met?

   The toil of it none may share;
   By yourself must the way be won
   Through fervid or frozen air
   Till the overland journey's done;
And I would not take, for your own dear sake, one thorn from your track,
   my son.

   Go forth to your hill and dale,
   Yet take in your hand from me


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Wild Dreams of a New Beginning

There's a breathless hush on the freeway tonight
Beyond the ledges of concrete
restaurants fall into dreams
with candlelight couples
Lost Alexandria still burns
in a billion lightbulbs
Lives cross lives
idling at stoplights
Beyond the cloverleaf turnoffs
'Souls eat souls in the general emptiness'
A piano concerto comes out a kitchen window
A yogi speaks at Ojai
'It's all taking pace in one mind'
On the lawn among the trees
lovers are listening
for the master to tell them they are one


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