Category Archives: Poetry

The Mock Song

The Mock Song

BY JOHN WILMOT, EARL OF ROCHESTER

I swive as well as others do,

I’m young, not yet deformed,

My tender heart, sincere, and true,

Deserves not to be scorned.

Why Phyllis then, why will you swive,

With forty lovers more?

Can I (said she) with Nature strive,

Alas I am, alas I am a whore.

Were all my body larded o’er,

With darts of love, so thick,

That you might find in ev’ry pore,

A well stuck standing prick;

Whilst yet my eyes alone were free,

My heart, would never doubt,

In am’rous rage, and ecstasy,

To wish those eyes, to wish those eyes fucked out.

John Wilmot (1 April 1647 – 26 July 1680) was an English poet and courtier of King Charles II‘s Restoration court. The Restoration reacted against the “spiritual authoritarianism” of the Puritan era. Rochester was the embodiment of the new era, and he is as well known for his rakish lifestyle as his poetry, although the two were often interlinked. He died at the age of 33 from venereal disease.


By the Stream

By the Stream
by Paul Laurence Dunbar

By the stream I dream in calm delight, and watch as in a glass,
How the clouds like crowds of snowy-hued and white-robed maidens
pass,
And the water into ripples breaks and sparkles as it spreads,
Like a host of armored knights with silver helmets on their heads.
And I deem the stream an emblem fit of human life may go,
For I find a mind may sparkle much and yet but shallows show,
And a soul may glow with myriad lights and wondrous mysteries,
When it only lies a dormant thing and mirrors what it sees.


From you have I been absent in the spring (Sonnet 98)

From you have I been absent in the spring (Sonnet 98)
William Shakespeare, 1564 – 1616

From you have I been absent in the spring,
When proud-pied April, dressed in all his trim,
Hath put a spirit of youth in everything,
That heavy Saturn laughed and leaped with him,
Yet nor the lays of birds, nor the sweet smell
Of different flowers in odor and in hue,
Could make me any summer’s story tell,
Or from their proud lap pluck them where they grew.
Nor did I wonder at the lily’s white,
Nor praise the deep vermilion in the rose;
They were but sweet, but figures of delight,
Drawn after you, you pattern of all those.
Yet seemed it winter still, and, you away,
As with your shadow I with these did play.


Homosexuality

Homosexuality
Henri Cole, 1956

First I saw the round bill, like a bud;
then the sooty crested head, with avernal eyes
flickering, distressed, then the peculiar
long neck wrapping and unwrapping itself,
like pity or love, when I removed the stovepipe
cover of the bedroom chimney to free
what was there and a duck crashed into the room
(I am here in this fallen state), hitting her face,
bending her throat back (my love, my inborn
turbid wanting, at large all night), backing away,
gnawing at her own wing linings (the poison of my life,
the beast, the wolf), leaping out the window,
which I held open (now clear, sane, serene),
before climbing back naked into bed with you.


Vernal Equinox

Vernal Equinox
Amy Lowell, 1874 – 1925

The scent of hyacinths, like a pale mist, lies

between me and my book;
And the South Wind, washing through the room,
Makes the candles quiver.
My nerves sting at a spatter of rain on the shutter,
And I am uneasy with the thrusting of green shoots
Outside, in the night.

Why are you not here to overpower me with your

tense and urgent love?

Happy Vernal Equinox! (March 20th 12:15pm)


Don’t Quit

Don’t Quit

by John Greenleaf Whittier

When things go wrong as they sometimes will,
When the road you’re trudging seems all up hill,
When the funds are low and the debts are high
And you want to smile, but you have to sigh,
When care is pressing you down a bit,
Rest if you must, but don’t you quit.
Life is strange with its twists and turns
As every one of us sometimes learns
And many a failure comes about
When he might have won had he stuck it out;
Don’t give up though the pace seems slow—
You may succeed with another blow.
Success is failure turned inside out—
The silver tint of the clouds of doubt,
And you never can tell just how close you are,
It may be near when it seems so far;
So stick to the fight when you’re hardest hit—
It’s when things seem worst that you must not quit.


Circe

Circe
by H. D.

It was easy enough
to bend them to my wish,
it was easy enough
to alter them with a touch,
but you
adrift on the great sea,
how shall I call you back?

Cedar and white ash,
rock-cedar and sand plants
and tamarisk
red cedar and white cedar
and black cedar from the inmost forest,
fragrance upon fragrance
and all of my sea-magic is for nought.

It was easy enough—
a thought called them
from the sharp edges of the earth;
they prayed for a touch,
they cried for the sight of my face,
they entreated me
till in pity
I turned each to his own self.

Panther and panther,
then a black leopard
follows close—
black panther and red
and a great hound,
a god-like beast,
cut the sand in a clear ring
and shut me from the earth,
and cover the sea-sound
with their throats,
and the sea-roar with their own barks
and bellowing and snarls,
and the sea-stars
and the swirl of the sand,
and the rock-tamarisk
and the wind resonance—
but not your voice.

It is easy enough to call men
from the edges of the earth.
It is easy enough to summon them to my feet
with a thought—
it is beautiful to see the tall panther
and the sleek deer-hounds
circle in the dark.

It is easy enough
to make cedar and white ash fumes
into palaces
and to cover the sea-caves
with ivory and onyx.

But I would give up
rock-fringes of coral
and the inmost chamber
of my island palace
and my own gifts
and the whole region
of my power and magic
for your glance.


The Master’s Garden

The Master’s Garden
By Marguerite McCreary

The Master came to the garden
To pluck the fairest rose.
He passed thru the paths in the garden
The fairest flower he chose.

There low hung the head of the blossoms
That grew within that wall,
For the Master had passed and had taken
The fairest flower of all.

But the Master had use for that flower
So perfect, fragrant, rare
To bloom in his own fairest mansion
And live forever there.


In the Evening

In the Evening

Fenton Johnson
I
In the evening, love returns,
Like a wand’rer ’cross the sea;
In the evening, love returns
With a violet for me;
In the evening, life’s a song,
And the fields are full of green;
All the stars are golden crowns,
And the eye of God is keen.

II
In the evening, sorrow dies
With the setting of the sun;
In the evening, joy begins,
When the course of mirth is done;
In the evening, kisses sweet
Droop upon the passion vine;
In the evening comes your voice:
“I am yours, and you are mine.”


How Do I Love Thee

How Do I Love Thee? (Sonnet 43)
Elizabeth Barrett Browning

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of being and ideal grace.
I love thee to the level of every day’s
Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.
I love thee freely, as men strive for right.
I love thee purely, as they turn from praise.
I love thee with the passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood’s faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints. I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life; and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.

What is more appropriate for the day before Valentine’s Day than this beautiful love sonnet. It’s one of my favorite poems and was first published by Elizabeth Barrett Browning in her book Sonnets from the Portuguese (1850). Most critics agree that Barrett Browning wrote the sonnets, not as an abstract literary exercise, but as a personal declaration of love to her husband, Robert Browning (who was also an important Victorian poet). Perhaps the intimate origin of the sonnets is what led Barrett Browning to create an imaginary foreign origin for them. But whatever the original motives behind their composition and presentation, many of the sonnets immediately became famous, establishing Barrett Browning as an important poet through the 19th and 20th centuries. Phrases from Barrett Browning’s sonnets, especially “How do I love thee?,” have entered everyday conversation, becoming standard figures of speech even for people who have never read her poetry.

I wanted to post this poem for all those I love, including my wonderful readers. I think my favorite part of this poem is “if God choose, I shall but love thee better after death.” How wonderful is that line. We know all things will be greater in heaven than on earth, so to be able to love better after death implies to me that the love in life is as great a love as can be imagined. Only in heaven could it be greater. That’s a powerful statement of love. I have family and friends whom I love with all of my heart, and I hope one day I will find love in a romantic way. If you have found that kind of love, I admire you and am jealous. If you haven’t, then I hope you too will find it someday.

For those like me who are single on Valentine’s Day, it can seem so lonely, but there is one thing I have learned over the years: you must love yourself. Before you can truly love someone else, you have to first love yourself. If there are things about yourself you don’t love, you will never allow yourself to be loved in the way we all deserve to be loved. So love yourself, and allow yourself to be loved, too. To ultimately answer Browning’s question, “How do I love thee?” I must love myself first so I can love you more.


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