The woes of men beyond my ken
Mean nothing more to me.
Behold my world, an Eden hurled
From Heaven to the Sea;
A jeweled home, in fending foam
A virgin isle none dare defile,
Far-flung, forgotten, lost.
And here I dwell, where none may tell
Me tales of mortal strife;
Let millions die, immune am I,
And radiant with life.
No echo comes of evil drums,
To vex my dawns divine;
Aloof, alone I hold my throne,
And Majesty is mine.
Ghost ships pass by, and glad am I
They make no sign to me.
The green corn springs, the gilt vine clings,
The net is in the sea.
My paradise around me lies,
Remote from wrath and wrong;
My isle is clean, unsought, unseen,
And innocent with song.
Here let me dwell in beauty’s spell,
As tranquil as a tree;
Here let me bide, where wind and tide
Bourdon that I am free;
Here let me know from human woe
The rapture of release:
The rich caress of Loveliness,
The plenitude of Peace.
Robert Service (1874 – 1958)
What happens to a dream deferred?
Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore—
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over—
like a syrupy sweet?
Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.
Or does it explode?
Langston Hughes (1902-1967)
Dryden, by John Michael Wright, 1668
How blessed is he, who leads a Country Life,
Unvex’d with anxious Cares, and void of Strife!
Who studying Peace, and shunning Civil Rage,
Enjoy’d his Youth, and now enjoys his Age.
John Dryden (1631-1700)
For ev’n when Death dissolves our Humane Frame,
The Soul returns to Heav’n, from whence it came;
Earth keeps the Body, Verse preserves the Fame.
John Dryden (1631-1700)
God made the country, and man made the town.
What wonder then that health and virtue, gifts
That can alone make sweet the bitter draught
That life holds out to all, should most abound
And least be threaten’d in the fields and groves?
Possess ye, therefore, ye, who, borne about
In chariots and sedans, know no fatigue
But that of idleness, and taste no scenes
But such as art contrives, possess ye still
Your element; there only can ye shine;
There only mind’s like yours can do no harm.
Our groves were planted to console at noon
The pensive wanderer in their shades. At eve
The moonbeam, sliding softly in between
The sleeping leaves, is all the light they wish,
Birds warbling all the music. We can spare
The splendour of your lamps; they but eclipse
Our softer satellite. Your songs confound
Our more harmonious notes: the thrush departs
Scar’d, and th’ offended nightingale is mute.
There is a public mischief in your mirth;
It plagues your country. Folly such as yours,
Grac’d with a sword, and worthier of a fan,
Has made, which enemies could ne’er have done,
Our arch of empire, steadfast but for you,
A mutilated structure, soon to fall.
William Cowper (1731-1800)
MY life closed twice before its close;
It yet remains to see
If Immortality unveil
A third event to me,
So huge, so hopeless to conceive,
As these that twice befell.
Parting is all we know of heaven,
And all we need of hell.
Emily Dickinson (1830–86)
My heart leaps up when I behold
A rainbow in the sky:
So was it when my life began;
So is it now I am a man;
So be it when I shall grow old,
Or let me die!
The Child is father of the Man;
And I could wish my days to be
Bound each to each by natural piety.
(William Wordsworth, 1770 – 1850)
You sullen pig of a man
you force me into the mud
with your stinking ash-cart!
–if we were rich
we’d stick our chests out
and hold our heads high!
It is dreams that have destroyed us.
There is no more pride
in horses or in rein holding.
We sit hunched together brooding
all things turn bitter in the end
whether you choose the right or
the left way
dreams are not a bad thing.
William Carlos Williams
Bells for William Wordsworth
by Dom Moraes (1938-2004)
Today they brought me a message. Wordsworth was
‘My God, ‘I said. ‘My God. I can hardly believe it.’
‘Just as you like,’ they answered. ‘Take it or leave it,
He has sunk into April as into the depths of a lake,
Leaving his eyes ajar in the house of his head.’
‘Are you sure,’ I said, ‘ that you haven’t made a mistake?’
‘Oh no, ‘ they said, ‘not a hope. We knew him too well,
A ‘gloomy considering bloke with the nose of a preacher:
A poet in fact, with a charming affection for Nature:
Milkmaids (you know) and the shadows of clouds on the
His work is carefully studied in colleges still.
We shall not forget not forgo it, while colleges stand.’
And I said, ‘I grant you that Wordsworth lies chilly in
And his bones are absolved and dissolved in the tears of
I grant he is one with the plant and the fossil again,’
His flesh has gone back into soil and his eyes into stones
And the roots and shoots of a new life push each year
Through the sad rotten fragments of his bones.
‘But although each spring brings a newer death to those
I have seen him risen again with the crocus in Spring.
I have seen turned my ear to the wind, I have heard him
I shrank from the bony sorrow in his face.
Yet still I hear those pedagogic tones
Droning away the snow, our old disgrace.’
What had he done
to crush glass in his fist
one middle-aged morning, known
only as morning by clocks without the sun?
At seven, his slingshot had not hit
the frosted childhood’s streetlight:
he was no looting horseback Hun
out of his history books. On
evenings full of bats’ wings
he had scarcely seen a sister raped by dead father’s sin
but only shaped by a mother’s word. In
the swirl of his teens he had perhaps thrilled
to raisin-thefts and one kiss under the stairs. Once he ran
from a body-house without windows
looking for the wombs of faceless women
he never filled
with sons. But now he has glass in his fist
and several rows
of futures that could not reach a past.
(A.K. Ramanujan: The Striders, 1966)
An excellent article published on the 10th death anniversary of A.K Ramanujan in The Telegraph India can be read here.