Thursday, August 12, 2010



Why did you come, with your enkindled eyes
And mountain-look, across my lower way,
And take the vague dishonour from my day
By luring me from paltry things, to rise
And stand beside you, waiting wistfully
The looming of a larger destiny?

Why did you with strong fingers fling aside
The gates of possibility, and say
With vital voice the words I dream to-day?
Before, I was not much unsatisfied:
But since a god has touched me and departed,
I run through every temple, broken-hearted.



Beloved, once more I take the winter way
Through solitude's dark mountains, purple and cold
As frozen pansies, toward my house of clay
Where winds shall drink my tears, and shadows fold.
I dare not dwell so near to ecstasy
Lest I grow reckless, seeing the dear, the good,
And so, beseeching for it childishly,
Should spoil its beauty and my womanhood.
Yet will the breathless moments when you smiled,
Looking upon me, haunt me. It is not well
Remembering, when winter floods are wild,
Becalmed lilies and the summer's spell.
Farewell, beloved! Since you have grown too dear,
I must be gone. I take my pilgrimage
In haste--so much I love you, so much fear.
Wisdom may grow from tears, peace fall with age.

Touch Wood


Touch wood, be humble, never dare to say
That this is joy lest satisfaction throw
A shade on love which now (while roots still grow)
Stands like the proudest chestnut tree in May
With all its candles burning. Passions sway:
This has no tide nor any ebb and flow;
It has no evening, no red afterglow,
And needs no moon to keep the night at bay.

But since most lovers falter or contend,
And all their promises and all their powers
Drift towards a common grave, what chance have we?
Poets keep the past and priests eternity;
Only the day, the flying day is ours,
But while we hold it fast it cannot end.



I still shall smile and go my careless way;
Dawn shall not see my tears,---nor shall night hear
Through broken murmurings thy name sound clear,
Nor catch old dreams of love that drift and sway---
The wistful ghosts of a forgotten day.
Nor shall the lilt of Spring, nor Autumns sere,
Awake my heart to pain, to pulsing fear,
Nor lure me from my days serene and grey.
Only one place my steps may never go,
One moorland path my feet may never climb.
O heart of mine!---the heather springy---sweet,
The loch a silver shimmer far below---
Forget that day, the haunting scent of thyme;
Forget the love all shattered at my feet.

Silent Noon


Your hands lie open in the long fresh grass,--
...The finger-points look through like rosy blooms:
...Your eyes smile peace. The pasture gleams and glooms
'Neath billowing skies that scatter and amass.
All round our nest, far as the eye can pass,
...Are golden kingcup-fields with silver edge
...Where the cow-parsley skirts the hawthorn-hedge.
'Tis visible silence, still as the hour-glass.
Deep in the sun-searched growths the dragon-fly;
Hangs like a blue thread loosened from the sky:--
...So this wing'd hour is dropt to us from above.
Oh! clasp we to our hearts, for deathless dower,
This close-companioned inarticulate hour
...When twofold silence was the song of love.

Sweet Disorder


A sweet disorder in the dress
Kindles in clothes a wantonness:
A lawn about the shoulders thrown
Into a fine distraction--
An erring lace, which here and there
Enthrals the crimson stomacher--
A cuff neglectful, and thereby
Ribbands to flow confusedly--
A winning wave, deserving note,
In the tempestuous petticoat--
A careless shoe-string, in whose tie
I see a wild civility--
Do more bewitch me than when art
Is too precise in every part.

At 3 A.M.


the room contains no sound
except the ticking of the clock
which has begun to panic
like an insect, trapped
in an enormous box.

Books lie open on the carpet.

Somewhere else
you're sleeping
and beside you there's a woman
who is crying quietly
so you won't wake.



I MUST not think of thee; and, tired yet strong,
    I shun the love that lurks in all delight—
    The love of thee—and in the blue heaven's height,
And in the dearest passage of a song.
Oh, just beyond the sweetest thoughts that throng
    This breast, the thought of thee waits hidden yet bright;
    But it must never, never come in sight;
I must stop short of thee the whole day long.
But when sleep comes to close each difficult day,
    When night gives pause to the long watch I keep,
And all my bonds I needs must loose apart,
Must doff my will as raiment laid away,—
    With the first dream that comes with the first sleep
I run, I run, I am gather'd to thy heart.



You think I give myself to you
Not so, my friend, you do not see
My single purpose and intent--
To make you give my self to me.

Once We Played


Once we played at love together---
...Played it smartly, if you please;
Lightly, as a windblown feather,
...Did we stake a heart apiece.

Oh, it was delicious fooling!
...In the hottest of the game,
Without thought of future cooling,
...All too quickly burned Life's flame.

In this give-and-take of glances,
...Kisses sweet as honey dews,
When we played with equal chances,
...Did you win, or did I lose?

Friday, August 6, 2010

Love Me Not


Love not me for comely grace,
For my pleasing eye or face,
Nor for any outward part:
No, nor for a constant !
For these may fail or turn to ill:
Should and I sever.

Keep, therefore, a true man's eye,
And love me still, but know not why!
So hast the same reason still
To dote upon me ever.

Love's Philosophy


The fountains mingle with the river,
And the rivers with the ocean,
The winds of heaven mix forever
With a sweet emotion;
Nothing in the  is single;
All things by law divine
In one another's being mingle;--
Why not I with thine?

See the mountains kiss high heaven
And the waves clasp one another
No sister flower would be forgiven
If it disdained its brother;
And sunlight clasps the earth,
And the moonbeams kiss the sea;
What are all these kissings worth
If kiss not me?

Evening Song


Look off, dear Love, across the sallow sands,
   And mark yon meeting of the sun and sea;
How long they kiss in sight of all the lands,
      Ah! longer, longer we.

Now, in the sea's red vintage melts the sun
   As Egypt's pearl dissolved in rosy wine
And Cleopatra night drinks all. 'Tis done,
      Love, lay thine hand in mine.

Come forth, sweet stars, and comfort heaven's heart,
   Glimmer, ye waves, 'round else unlighted sands;
Oh night! divorce our sun and sky apart
      Never our lips, our hands.

Women are Different...


You dare not let your eyes meet theirs
for more than fifteen seconds.
Cos if you do,
You know what they're like
Liable to cross right over
to your side of the road,
and talk 'bout
"Daughter" and
"Sister" and
all that incestuous crap
You don't want to hear.
You dare not let your eyes meet theirs.

That's not to say that
Your gaze can't slide over
small, tight bums
Thighs carved so strong and want to
That real dude and stylish swagger,
Or hands that make you wonder
how they'd feel on those parts of your body.
Um hum!

It's just that,
You got to make sure that
they don't catch you out
When it's your turn to look,
They'd know.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

The Art of Coquetry


Ye lovely maids! whose yet unpractis'd hearts
Ne'er felt the force of Love's resistless darts;
Who justly set a value on your charms,
Pow'r all your wish, but beauty all your arms
Who o'er mankind wou'd fain exert your sway
And teach the lordly tyrant to obey;
Attend my rules, to you alone addrest
Deep let them sink in every female breast.
The queen of love herself my bosom fires,
Assists my numbers, and my thoughts in spires
Me she instructed in each secret art,
That first subdues and then enslaves the heart
The sigh that heaves by stealth, the starting tear
The melting languish, the obliging fear;
Half-utter'd wishes, broken, kind replies,
And all the silent eloquence of eyes;
To teach the fair by various wiles to move
The soften'd soul, and bend the heart to love
Proud of her charms, and conscious of her face,
The haughty Beauty calls forth ev'ry grace,
With fierce defiance throws the killing dart;
By force she wins, by force she keeps the heart;
The witty fair a nimbler game pursues
Aims at the head, but the rapt soul subdues,
The languid nymph enslaves with softer art,
With sweet neglect she steals into the heart;
Slowly she moves her swimming eyes around,
Conceals her shaft, but meditates the wound;
Her gentle languishments the gazers move,
Her voice is musick, and her looks are love.
To few tho' nature may these gifts impart,
What she witholds, the wise can win from art
Then let your airs be suited to your face,
Nor to a languish tack a sprightly grace.
The short round face, brisk eyes, and auburn hair
Must smiling joy in every motion wear,
The quick unsettled glance must deal around,
Hide all design, and seem by chance to wound,
Dark rolling eyes a languish may assume,
These the soft looks and melting airs become
The pensive head upon the hand reclin'd,
As of some sweet disorder fill'd the mind;
Let the heav'd breast a struggling sign restrain
And seem to stop the falling tear with pain.
The youth, who all the soft distress believes,
Soon wants the kind compassion which he gives
But beauty, wit, and youth may sometimes fail,
Nor always o'er the stubborn soul prevail;
Then let the fair one have recourse to art,
Who cannot storm, may undermine the heart.
First form your artful looks with studious care,
From mile to grave, from tender to severe.
Oft on the careless youth your glances dart,
A tender meaning let each glance impart.
Whene'er he meets your looks, with modest price
And soft confusion turn your eyes aside,
Let a soft sigh steal out, as if by chance,
Then cautious turn, and steal another glance.
Caught by these arts, with pride and hope elate,
The destined victim rushes on his fate:
Pleased, his imagined victory pursues,
And the kind maid with soft attention views,
Contemplates now her shape, her air, her face,
And thinks each feature wears an added grace;
Till gratitude, which first his bosom proves,
By slow degrees sublimed, at length he loves.
'Tis harder still to fix than gain a heart;
What's won by beauty must be kept by art.
Too kind a treatment the best lover cloys,
And oft despair the growing flame destroys:
Sometimes with smiles receive him, sometimes tears,
Perhaps he mourns his ill-requited pains
Condemns your sway, and strives to break his chains;
Behaves as if he now your scorn defied,
And thinks at least he shall alarm your pride:
But with indifference view the seeming chance,
And let your eyes to seek new conquests range;
While his torn breast with jealous fury burns,
He hopes, despairs, adores and hates by turns;
With anguish now repents the weak deceit,
And powerful passion bears him to your feet.
Strive not the jealous love to perplex,
Ill suits suspicion with that haughty sex;
Rashly they judge, and always think the worst,
And love if often banish'd by distrust.
To these an open free behaviour wear,
Avoid disguise, and seem at least sincere;
Whene'er you meet affect a glad surprize,
And give a melting softness to your eyes;
By some unguarded work your love reveal,
And anxiously the rising blush conceal.
By arts like these the jealous you deceive,
Then most deluded when they most believe.
But while in all you seek to raise desire,
Beware the fatal passion you inspire:
Each soft intruding wish in time reprove,
And guard against the sweet invader love.
Not for the tender were these rules design'd,
Who in their faces show their yielding mind:
Whose eyes a native languishment can wear,
Whose smiles are artless, and whose blush sincere;
But for the nymph who liberty can prize,
And vindicate the triumph of her eyes:
Who o'er mankind a haughty rule maintains,
Whose wit can manage what her beauty gains;
Such by these arts their empire may improve,
And unsubdu'd controul the world by love.

To A Lady Making Love


Good Madam, when ladies are willing,
A man must needs look like a fool;
For me, I would not give a shilling
For one who would love out of rule.

You should leave us to guess by your blushing,
And not speak the matter so plain;
'Tis ours to write and be pushing,
'Tis yours to affect a disdain.

That you're in a terrible taking,
By all these sweet oglings I see;
But the fruit that can fall without shaking,
Indeed is too mellow for me.

Between Your Sheets


Between your sheets you soundly sleep
Nor dreams of vigils that we lovers keep
While all the night, I waking sign your name,
The tender sound does every nerve inflame,
Imagination shows me all your charms,
The plenteous silken hair, and waxen arms,
The well turned neck, and snowy rising breast
And all the beauties that supinely rest
between your sheets.

Ah Lindamira, could you see my heart,
How fond, how true, how free from fraudful art,
The warmest glances poorly do explain
The eager wish, the melting throbbing pain
Which through my very blood and soul I feel,
Which you cannot believe nor I reveal,
Which every metaphor must render less
And yet (methinks) which I could well express
between your sheets.

(From) To Alexis In Answer to His Poem Against Fruition


Since man with that inconstancy was born,
To love the absent, and the present scorn
    Why do we deck, why do we dress
    For such short-lived happiness?
    Why do we put attraction on,
Since either way ’tis we must be undone?

    They fly if honour take our part,
    Our virtue drives ’em o’er the field.
    We love ’em by too much desert,
    And oh! they fly us if we yield.
Ye gods! is there no charm in all the fair
To fix this wild, this faithless wanderer?



Strephon hath Fashion, Wit and Youth,
...With all things else that please;
He nothing wants but Love and Truth
....To ruin me with ease:
But he is flint, and bears the Art
...To kindle fierce desire;
His pow'r inflames another's heart,
...Yet he ne'er feels the fire.

O! how it does my Soul perlex,
...When I his charms recall,
To think he shou'd despise our Sex;
...Or, what's worse, love 'em all!
My wearied Heart, like Noah's Dove,
In vain has sought for rest;
Finding no hope to fix my Love,
returns into my Breast.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

To J.G. On the News of His Marriage


My Love? alas! I must not call you Mine,
But to your envy’d Bride that Name resign:
I must forget your lovely melting Charms,
And be for ever Banisht from your Arms:
For ever? oh! the Horror of that Sound!
It gives my bleeding Heart a deadly wound:
While I might hope, although my Hope was vain,
It gave some Ease to my unpitty’d Pain,
But now your Hymen doth all Hope exclude,
And but to think is Sin; yet you intrude
On every Thought; if I but close my Eyes,
Methinks your pleasing Form besides me lies;
With every Sigh I gently breath your Name,
Yet no ill Thoughts pollute my hallow’d Flame;
’Tis pure and harmless, as a Lambent Fire,
And never mingled with a warm Desire:
All I have now to ask of Bounteous Heaven,
Is, that your Perjuries may be forgiven:
That she who you have with your Nuptials blest,
As She’s the Happiest Wife, may prove the Best:
That all our Joys may light on you alone,
Then I can be contented to have none:
And never wish that you shou’d kinder be,
Than now and then, to cast a Thought on Me:
And, Madam, though the Conquest you have won,
Over my Strephon, has my hopes undone;
I’le daily beg of Heaven, he may be
Kinder to You, than he has been to Me.

Social Note


Lady, lady, should you meet
One whose ways are all discreet,
One who murmurs that his wife
Is the lodestar of his life,
One who keeps assuring you
That he never was untrue,
Never loved another one . . .
Lady, lady, better run!

An Answer to a Love-Letter


Is it to me this sad lamenting strain?
Are Heaven's choicest gifts bestow'd in vain?
A plenteous fortune and a beauteous bride,
Your love rewarded, and content your pride;
Yet, leaving her, 'tis me that you pursue,
Without one single charm -- but being new.
How vile is man! How I detest the ways
Of covert falsehood and designing praise!
As tasteless, easier happiness you slight,
Ruin your joy, and mischief your delight.
Why should poor pug (the mimic of your kind)
Wear a rough chain, and be to box confin'd?
Some cup, perhaps, he breaks, or tears a fan,
While moves, unpunish'd, the destroyer man;
Not bound by vows, and unrestrain'd by shame,
In sport you break the heart, and rend the fame.
Not that your art can be successful here,
Th' already plunder'd need no robber fear.
Nor sighs nor charms, nor flattery, can move,
Too well secur'd against a second love.
Once, and but once, that devil charm'd my mind,
To reason deaf, to observation blind,
I idly hop'd (what cannot Love persuade!)
My fondness equall'd and my truth repaid:
Slow to distrust, and willing to believe;
Long hush'd my doubts, I would myself deceive.

But oh! too soon -- this tale would ever last --
Sleep on my wrongs, and let me think them past.
For you, who mourn with counterfeited grief,
And ask so boldly, like a begging thief,
May soon some other nymph inflict the pain
You know so well with cruel art to feign.
Though long you've sported with Dan Cupid's dart,
You may see eyes, and you may feel a heart.
So the brisk wits who stop the evening coach,
Laugh at the fear that follows their approach;
With idle mirth and haughty scorn despise
The passenger's pale cheek and staring eyes;
But seiz'd by justice, find a fright no jest,
And all the terror doubled in their breast.



Why do we forgive our lovers?
What do we forgive them for?
For whom do we offer our forgiveness?
Do we offer it to them to pacify their hearts?
Or do we offer it to ourselves to calm
Our weary countenance and our restless souls?

Do we forgive them to once more feel
the warmth of their fingertips
to our cold, trembling lips?

Do we give them an understanding soft gaze
for the sake of polite reciprocity?

Do we return their kisses
for them to shower us more
with those, warm smooches?

Do we laugh at the onset of an expected humor
for us to keep them talking,
hoping against hope that they will
trip over a more serious conversation,
one that strikes a chord on us.
Conversations that we need
because they enliven our souls.

Do we allow our womb to be a receptacle
of their bodily fluids
because we believe it is the only way
to counter the drought that consumes us
whenever we shed an ocean of tears
for one graceless action,
for one tactless remark that escapes their lips?
A liter of tears for an ounce of pain…

Do we give our love because
we truly feel love for them?
If that is so,
Then why do we love them?

Is it only for fear of solitude
that we open our hearts for long-staying visitors?
Or is it the visitors themselves who
knocked and walked their way into
our vulnerable passageways
with their gifts and endless promises
of bliss and earthly delights?

For all the concerns of the heart,
the proverbial heart,
do we always question our ways?
Do we need to answer a riddle before
We proceed to the other side of the maze?
Do we always answer our questions
with another heap of questions?

Maybe this is why they say that it is reason
And only reason that separates us from lower animals.
The reason for every tear that we shed,
for every beating of our heart,
for every word that we utter,
for every kiss that we blow,
for every pain that we feel…

How difficult it is to live
inside the human’s territory.
To deal with those creatures
who walk with their two hind legs
and communicate by oddly moving
their tongue and lips.
And how much more difficult it is
to become a woman at the highest order of the animal kingdom
who questions herself these things each day
before she succumbs to the strength
of the ubiquitous sleep.

Journey of the Senses


The scent of wine emanates from your mouth
And the slowly opening pores of your skin.
The faint taste of alcohol, forgotten fruits, and
Other secret ingredients
Created the fermented intoxicating liquid which,
the interior of the mouth
and the entirety of the throat.
Destroys the walls
and barriers
that curtail the freedom
of the
and washes
the inhibitions
of the

It emanates from you.

In my eyes,
You look like the local version of an Irishman,
Who stave off the poverty of their body and spirit
With a glassful of whiskey or
Cheap beer on their lips.

Your Eyes,
misted and dazed by the
growing intoxication,
revealed secrets of your darkest nights.

Your Cheeks,
glowing with tints of red roses
and rains of fireflies,
reflected the blushing innocence
of a youth held captive by love.

Your Voice,
laced with a hint of roughness,
became that of a matador’s
who summons a raging bull
to the bloodied battle ring.

And your Hands,
Oh, your hands!
with fingers smaller than the drops of rain.
They suddenly became travelers
of unchartered forests,
of untamed bushes,
of torrential rivers and seas,
of yielding caves,
of smooth plains and rolling valleys,
of throbbing islands,
of infinitesimal winding roads,
of orchards that grow exotic fruits,
of the land that overflows with milk and honey.

You suddenly became a traveler of the world,
A world more mysterious than fiction.
The senses are your compass,
Your radar, your north star, your guide.
Through these, you always lose your way.

by creations that are as old as time,
perpetual as the sun and the elements,
defiantly standing like stubborn rocks,
repeatedly whipped by wild waves,
and by every hour of every day
grow more beautiful than all the wonders of the seven seas.

The Slighted Lady


There was a man who won a beautiful woman.
Not only was she lovely, and shaped like a woman,
But she had a beautiful mind.
She understood everything the man said to her,
She listened and smiled,
And the man possessed her and grew in ecstasy,
And he talked while the woman listened and smiled.

But there came a day when the woman understood even
more than the man had said ;
Then she spoke, and the man, sated with possession, and
weary with words, slept.
He slept on the threshold of his house.
The woman was within, in a small room.

Then to the window of her room
Came a young lover with his lute,
And thus he sang :

" O, beautiful woman, who can perfect my dreams,
Take my soul into your hands
Like a clear crystal ball.
Warm it to softness at your breast,
And shape it as you will.
We two shall sing together living songs,
And walk our Paradise, in an eternal noon---
Come, my Desire, I wait."

But the woman, remembering the sleeper and her faith,
Shook her good head, to keep the longing from her eyes,
At which the lover sang again, and with such lusty rapture
That the sleeper waked,
And, listening to the song, he said :
" My woman has bewitched this man---
He is seduced.
What folly does he sing ?
This woman is no goddess, but my wife ;
And no perfection, but the keeper of my house.'*

Whereat the woman said within her heart ;
" My husband has not looked at me for many days---
He has forgot that flesh is warm,
And that the spirit hungers.
I have waited long within the house ;
I freeze with dumbness, and I go."

Then she stept down from her high window
And walked with her young lover, singing to his lute.



Those are the features, those the smiles,
That first engag'd my virgin heart:
I feel the pencil'd image true,
I feel the mimic pow'r of art.

For ever on my soul engrav'd
His glowing cheek, his manly mien;
I need not thee, thou painted shade,
To tell me what my Love has been.

O dearer now, tho' bent with age,
Than in the pride of blooming youth!
I knew not then his constant heart,
I knew not then his matchless truth.

Full many a year, at random tost,
The spot of many an adverse gale,
Together, hand in hand, we've stray'd
O'er dreary hill, and lonely vale.

Hope only flattered to betray,
Her keenest shafts misfortune shot:
In spite of prudence, spite of care,
Dependence was our bitter lot.

Ill can'st thou bear the sneer of wealth,
Averted looks, and rustic scorn;
For thou wert born to better hopes,
And bright rose thy vernal morn.

Thy ev'ning hours to want expos'd,
I cannot, cannot bear to see:
Were but thy honest heart at ease,
I care not what becomes of me.

But tho', my Love, the winds of woe
Beat cold upon thy silver hairs,
Thy ANNA'S bosom still is warm;
Affection still shall soothe thy cares.

And Conscience, with clouded ray,
The cottage of our age will cheer;
Friendship will lift our humble latch,
And Pity pour her healing tear.

To my Dear and Loving Husband


If ever two were one, then surely we.
If ever man were lov'd by wife, then thee.
If ever wife was happy in a man,
Compare with me, ye women, if you can.
I prize thy love more than whole mines of gold
Or all the riches that the east doth hold.
My love is such that rivers cannot quench,
Nor ought but love from thee give recompetence.
Thy love is such I can no way repay.
The heavens reward thee manifold, I pray.
Then while we live, in love let's so persever
That when we live no more, we may live ever.

The Wish


Would but indulgent Fortune send
To me a kind, and faithful Friend,
One who to Virtue's Laws is true,
And does her nicest Rules pursue;
One Pious, Lib'ral, Just and Brave,
And to his Passions not a Slave;
Who full of Honour, void of Pride,
Will freely praise, and freely chide;
But not indulge the smallest Fault,
Nor entertain one slighting Thought:
Who still the same will ever prove,
Will still instruct ans still will love:
In whom I safely may confide,
And with him all my Cares divide:
Who has a large capacious Mind,
Join'd with a Knowledge unconfin'd:
A Reason bright, a Judgement true,
A Wit both quick, and solid too:
Who can of all things talk with Ease,
And whose Converse will ever please:
Who charm'd with Wit, and inward Graces,
Despises Fools with tempting Faces;
And still a beauteous Mind does prize
Above the most enchanting Eyes:
I would not envy Queens their State,
Nor once desire a happier Fate.

Auld Robin Gray


When the sheep are in the fauld, and the kye at hame,
And a' the warld to rest are gane,
The waes o' my heart fa' in showers frae my e'e,
While my gudeman lies sound by me.

Young Jamie lo'ed me weel, and sought me for his bride;
But saving a croun he had naething else beside:
To make the croun a pund, young Jamie gaed to sea;
And the croun and the pund were baith for me.

He hadna been awa' a week but only twa,
When my father brak his arm, and the cow was stown awa;
My mother she fell sick,--and my Jamie at the sea--
And auld Robin Gray came a-courtin' me.

My father couldna work, and my mother couldna spin;
I toil'd day and night, but their bread I couldna win;
Auld Rob maintain'd them baith, and wi' tears in his e'e
Said, 'Jennie, for their sakes, O, marry me!'

My heart it said nay; I look'd for Jamie back;
But the wind it blew high, and the ship it was a wrack;
His ship it was a wrack--Why didna Jamie dee?
Or why do I live to cry, Wae 's me?

My father urged me sair: my mother didna speak;
But she look'd in my face till my heart was like to break:
They gi'ed him my hand, tho' my heart was in the sea;
Sae auld Robin Gray he was gudeman to me.

I hadna been a wife a week but only four,
When mournfu' as I sat on the stane at the door,
I saw my Jamie's wraith,--for I couldna think it he,
Till he said, 'I'm come hame to marry thee.'

O sair, sair did we greet, and muckle did we say;
We took but ae kiss, and we tore ourselves away:
I wish that I were dead, but I'm no like to dee;
And why was I born to say, Wae 's me!

I gang like a ghaist, and I carena to spin;
I daurna think on Jamie, for that wad be a sin;
But I'll do my best a gude wife aye to be,
For auld Robin Gray he is kind unto me.

(From) A Prayer for Indifference


I ask no kind return of love,
  No tempting charm to please;
Far from the heart those gifts remove,
  That sighs for peace and ease.

Nor peace nor ease the heart can know,
  That, like the needle true,
Turns at the touch of joy or woe,
  But turning, trembles too.

Far as distress the soul can wound,
  'Tis pain in each degree:
'Tis bliss but to a certain bound,
  Beyond is agony.

On Monsieur's Departure


I grieve and dare not show my discontent;
I love, and yet am forced to seem to hate;
I do, yet dare not say I ever meant;
I seem stark mute, but inwardly do prate.
      I am, and not; I freeze and yet am burned,
      Since from myself another self I turned.

My care is like my shadow in the sun—
Follows me flying, flies when I pursue it,
Stands, and lies by me, doth what I have done;
His too familiar care doth make me rue it.
      No means I find to rid him from my breast,
      Till by the end of things it be supprest.

Some gentler passion slide into my mind,
For I am soft, and made of melting snow;
Or be more cruel, Love, and so be kind.
Let me or float or sink, be high or low;
      Or let me live with some more sweet content,
      Or die, and so forget what love e'er meant.

The Unfortunate Damsel


I sowed the seeds of love
To blossom all the spring,
In April, May, or else in June,
When the small birds do sing:
A gardener standing by,
I desired him to choose for me;
He picked out the lily, the violet, and pink,
But I refused all three.
The lily I refused,
Because it faded so soon;
The violet and pink I overlooked,
Resolved was to tarry till June:
In June the red roses bud,
Oh, that is a lover for me;
But I have often aimed at the red rose-bud,
And I have gained the willow tree.
The gardener standing by,
He prayed me to have a care,
For the thorn that grew on the red rose-bush,
A venomous thorn they were:
A venomous thorn indeed,
For still I feel the smart;
And every time I did it touch,
It pricked my tender heart.
Away you fading flowers,
No more I will you touch,
That all the world may plainly see
I loved one flower too much.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Variations on the Word Love


This is a word we use to plug
holes with. It's the right size for those warm
blanks in speech, for those red heart-
shaped vacancies on the page that look nothing
like real hearts. Add lace
and you can sell
it. We insert it also in the one empty
space on the printed form
that comes with no instructions. There are whole
magazines with not much in them
but the word love, you can
rub it all over your body and you
can cook with it too. How do we know
it isn't what goes on at the cool
debaucheries of slugs under damp
pieces of cardboard? As for the weed-
seedlings nosing their tough snouts up
among the lettuces, they shout it.
Love! Love! sing the soldiers, raising
their glittering knives in salute.

Then there's the two
of us. This word
is far too short for us, it has only
four letters, too sparse
to fill those deep bare
vacuums between the stars
that press on us with their deafness.
It's not love we don't wish
to fall into, but that fear.
this word is not enough but it will
have to do. It's a single
vowel in this metallic
silence, a mouth that says
O again and again in wonder
and pain, a breath, a finger
grip on a cliffside. You can
hold on or let go.

Why Do I Love You, Sir?


"Why do I love" You, Sir?
The Wind does not require the Grass
To answer—Wherefore when He pass
She cannot keep Her place.

Because He knows—and
Do not You—
And We know not—
Enough for Us
The Wisdom it be so—

The Lightning—never asked an Eye
Wherefore it shut—when He was by—
Because He knows it cannot speak—
And reasons not contained—
—Of Talk—
There be—preferred by Daintier Folk—

The Sunrise—Sire—compelleth Me—
Because He's Sunrise—and I see—
I love Thee—

To One That Asked Me Why I Lov’d J.G.


Why do I love? Go, ask the Glorious Sun
Why every day it round the world doth run;
Ask Thames and Tiber, why they Ebb and Flow:
Ask Damask Roses why in June they blow;
Ask Ice and Hail, the reason, why they’re Cold:
Decaying Beauties, why they will grow Old
They’ll tell thee, Fate, that every thing doth move,
Inforces them to this, and me to Love.
There is no Reason for our Love or Hate;
’Tis irresistible, as Death or Fate;
’Tis not his face; I’ve sence enough to see,
That is not good, though doated on by me;
Not is’t his Tongue, that has this Conquest won;
For that at least is equall’d by my own:
His Carriage can to none obliging be,
’Tis Rude, Affected, full of Vanity:
Stragely Ill-natur’d, Peevish and Unkind,
Unconstant, False, to Jealousie inclin’d,
His Temper cou’d not have so great a Pow’r,
’Tis mutable, and changes every hour:
Those vigorous Years that Women so Adore,
Are past in him: he’s twice my Age, and more;
And yet I love this false, this worthless Man
With all the Passion that a Woman can;
Doat on his Imperfections, though I spy
Nothing to Love; I Love, and know not why.
Since ’tis Decreed in the dark Book of Fate
That I shou’d Love, and he shou’d be ingrate.



Our oneness is the wrestlers’, fierce and close,
    Thrusting and thrust;
One life in dual effort for one prize,—
    We fight, and must;
For soul with soul does battle evermore
    Till love be trust.

Our distance is love’s severance; sense divides,
    Each is but each;
Never the very hidden spirit of thee
    My life doth reach;
Twain! Since love athwart the gulf that needs
    Kisses and speech.

Ah! wrestle closelier! we draw nearer so
    Than any bliss
Can bring twain souls who would be whole and one,
    Too near to kiss:
To be one thought, one voice before we die,—
    Wrestle for this.

Love Song


There is a strong wall about me to protect me:
It is built of the words you have said to me.

There are swords about me to keep me safe:
They are the kisses of your lips.

Before me goes a shield to guard me from harm:
It is the shadow of your arms between me and danger.

All the wishes of my mind know your name,
And the white desires of my heart
They are acquainted with you.
The cry of my body for completeness,
That is a cry to you.
My blood beats out your name to me, unceasing, pitiless
Your name, your name.

Midcentury Love Letter


Stay near me. Speak my name. Oh, do not wander
By a thought's span, heart's impulse, from the light
We kindle here. You are my sole defender
(As I am yours) in this precipitous night,
Which over earth, till common landmarks alter,
Is falling, without stars, and bitter cold.
We two have but our burning selves for shelter.
Huddle against me. Give me your hand to hold.
So might two climbers lost in mountain weather
On a high slope and taken by the storm,
Desperate in the darkness, cling together
Under one cloak and breathe each other warm.
Stay near me. Spirit, perishable as bone,
In no such winter can survive alone.



Lad, come kiss me
Whaur the twa burns rin.
Am I no' sweet as honey,
Wild as gouden whin,

Slim as the rowan,
Lips like berries reid,
Fey s siller mune-floo'er
That sprang frae fairy seed?

Luve, come clasp me
Whaut the twa burns rin, ---
A'but the white soul o' me
That ye can never win.

The Courtship


I am curiously stirred
by the landscape
as I wait lazily for
my lover
lazily in the hot sun

no hurry
life goes on
time to admire
my long thin arms
they blend with
the long thin grass
their frailty is deceptive
my lover will not be the first
to know their strength

strange to consider
how small he always is
true, he moves gracefully
but never quick enough

when he is joined to me
too absorbed to notice
my knife-like grip
I will eat him inch by inch
I'll not need another meal for hours

afterwards I will sit quietly
under the exotic leaves
raising my arms again
as if praying.

The Mortal Lease


Yet for one rounded moment I will be
No more to you than what my lips may give,
And in the circles of your kisses live
As in some island of a storm-blown sea,
Where the cold surges of infinity
Upon the outward reefs unheeded grieve,
And the loud murmur of our blood shall weave
Primeval silences round you and me.

If in that moment we are all we are,
We live enough. Let this for all requite.
Do I not know, some winged things from far
Are borne along illimitable night
To dance their lives out in a single flight
Between the moonrise and the setting star?

Song of Obstacles


When my lover touches me, what I feel in my body
is like the first movement of a glacier over the earth,
as the ice shifts, dislodging great boulders, hills
of solemn rock: so, in the forests, the uprooted trees
become a sea of disconnected limbs -
And, where there are cities, these dissolve too,
the sighing gardens, all the young girls
eating chocolates in the courtyard, slowly
scattering the colored foil: then, where the city was,
the ore, the unearthed mysteries: so I see
that ice is more powerful than rock, than mere resistance -

Then for us, in its path, time doesn't pass,
not even an hour.

Perfect Timing


The night I fell in love with you I lost my watch:
stripping off at the sea's edge, it fell into the dark
as I swam out into a night thick with stars,
with fisherman calling from one lit boat to another
of their catches and harbours, leaving for the dawn.
Imagine it now, plunged deep in cool sand, still hidden
years later, grains ticking over it one by one—
as your hands slide into me and I move to their pulse.

At Sixteen


We come now to the space which is boy-shaped.
It has always been there, filled or unfilled.
Come ride with me on my motor-cycle, we'll do
the whole mile-square by moonlight
and we rode,
I clinging to that boy shape with all the girl
shape I was, and the moon made shadows of us
on the corn rows, and we scared ourselves on
the corners, and laughed as loud as we dared
and swung on home before the night could get us.
In the wane of that same moon, he raced the mile alone
and struck an old car parked without its lights
and the night got to him, and the moon had to shine
a great many nights before I was sure it wouldn't
get me too We had been little kids together,
sitting flat out in my sand box, making pies.
We practised kissing in the alley behind his house
and mine. I can still hear the little lights
in his voice that made my nipples stand out straight.



A Scholar first my Love implor’d,
And then an empty, titled Lord;
The Pedant talk’d in lofty Strains;
Alas! his Lordship wanted Brains:
I list’ned not, to one or t’other,
But straight referr’d them to my Mother.

A Poet next my Love assail’d,
A Lawyer hop’d to have prevail’d;
The Bard too much approv’d himself,
The Lawyer thirsted after Pelf:
I list’ned not, to one or t’other,
But still referr’d them to my Mother.

An Officer my Heart wou’d storm,
A Miser, sought me too, in Form;
But Mars was over-free and bold,
The miser’s Heart was in his Gold:
I list’ned not, to one or t’other,
Referring still unto my Mother.

And after them, some twenty more,
Successless were, as those before;
When Damon, lovely Damon came!
Our Hearts strait felt a mutual Flame;
I vow’d I’d have him, and no other,
Without referring, to my Mother.

And On My Eyes Dark Sleep By Night


Come, dark-eyed Sleep, thou child of Night,
Give me thy dreams, thy lies;
Lead through the horny portal white
The pleasure day denies.

O bring the kiss I could not take
From lips that would not give;
Bring me the heart I could not break,
The bliss for which I live.

I care not if I slumber blest
By fond delusion; nay,
Put me on Phaon's lips to rest,
And cheat the cruel day!



Oh, come to me in dreams, my love!
...I will not ask a dearer bliss;
Come with the starry beams, my love,
...And press mine eyelids with thy kiss.

'Twas thus, as ancient fables tell,
...Love visited a Grecian maid,
Till she disturbed the sacred spell,
...And woke to find her hopes betrayed.

But gentle sleep shall veil my sight,
...And Psyche's lamp shall darkling be,
When, in the visions of the night,
...Thou dost renew thy vows to me.

Then come to me in dreams, my love,
...I will not ask a dearer bliss;
Come with the starry beams, my love,
...And press mine eyelids with thy kiss.

Thinking of Love


That desire is quite over
Or seems so as I lie
Using the sky as cover
And thinking of deep
Dreams unknown to a lover.
Being alone is now
Far from loneliness.
I can stretch and allow
Legs, arms, hands
Their complete freedom:
There is no-one to please.
But soon it comes-
Not simply the ache
Of a particular need,
But also the general hunger,
As if the flesh were a house
With too many empty



I wish I could remember that first day,
First hour, first moment of your meeting me,
If bright or dim the season, it might be
Summer or winter for aught I can say;
So unrecorded did it slip away,
So blind was I to see and to foresee,
So dull to mark the budding of my tree
That would not blossom yet for many a May.
If only I could recollect it, such
A day of days! I let it come and go
As traceless as a thaw of bygone snow;
It seem'd to mean so little, meant so much;
If only now I could recall that touch,
First touch of hand in hand--Did one but know!

Love's Witness


Slight unpremeditated Words are borne
    By every common Wind into the Air;
Carelessly utter’d, die as soon as born,
    And in one instant give both Hope and Fear:
Breathing all Contraries with the same Wind
According to the Caprice of the Mind.

But Billetdoux are constant Witnesses,
    Substantial Records to Eternity;
Just Evidences, who the Truth confess,
    On which the Lover safely may rely;
They’re serious Thoughts, digested and resolv’d;
And last, when Words are into Clouds devolv’d.