March 22, 2012

Antony and Cleopatra [Filed under: Lytle, William Haines]

Antony and Cleopatra

I AM dying, Egypt, dying!
  Ebbs the crimson life-tide fast,
And the dark Plutonian shadows
  Gather on the evening blast;
Let thine arm, O Queen, enfold me,
  Hush thy sobs and bow thine ear,
Listen to the great heart secrets
  Thou, and thou alone, must hear.

Though my scarred and veteran legions
  Bear their eagles high no more,
And my wrecked and scattered galleys
  Strew dark Actium’s fatal shore;
Though no glittering guards surround me,
  Prompt to do their master’s will,
I must perish like a Roman,
  Die the great Triumvir still.

Let not Cæsar’s servile minions
  Mock the lion thus laid low;
‘T was no foeman’s arm that felled him,
  ‘T was his own that struck the blow:
His who, pillowed on thy bosom,
  Turned aside from glory’s ray—
His who, drunk with thy caresses,
  Madly threw the world away.

Should the base plebeian rabble
  Dare assail my name at Rome,
Where the noble spouse Octavia
  Weeps within her widowed home,
Seek her; say the gods bear witness,—
  Altars, augurs, circling wings,—
That her blood, with mine commingled,
  Yet shall mount the throne of kings.

And for thee, star-eyed Egyptian—
  Glorious sorceress of the Nile!
Light the path to Stygian horrors,
  With the splendor of thy smile;
Give the Cæsar crowns and arches,
  Let his brow the laurel twine:
I can scorn the senate’s triumphs,
  Triumphing in love like thine.

I am dying, Egypt, dying!
  Hark! the insulting foeman’s cry;
They are coming—quick, my falchion!
  Let me front them ere I die.
Ah, no more amid the battle
  Shall my heart exulting swell;
Isis and Osiris guard thee—
  Cleopatra—Rome—farewell!

October 17, 2009

Autumnal [Filed under: Dowson, Ernest]

Autumnal

Pale amber sunlight falls across
   The reddening October trees,
   That hardly sway before a breeze
As soft as summer: summer’s loss
   Seems little, dear! on days like these.

Let misty autumn be our part!
   The twilight of the year is sweet:
   Where shadow and the darkness meet
Our love, a twilight of the heart
   Eludes a little time’s deceit.

Are we not better and at home
   In dreamful Autumn, we who deem
   No harvest joy is worth a dream?
A little while and night shall come,
   A little while, then, let us dream.

Beyond the pearled horizons lie
   Winter and night: awaiting these
   We garner this poor hour of ease,
Until love turn from us and die
   Beneath the drear November trees.

May 11, 2006

Post title [Filed under: White, Steve]

Limerick (III)

There once was an X from place B
That satisfied predicate P
He or she did thing A
In an adjective way
Resulting in circumstance C

Maybe my brain is not functioning entirely properly, being three days from freedom, but I found this poem to be rather fun. There’s some more good generic stuff at Mr. White’s website.

March 24, 2006

Life, to be sure [Filed under: Houseman, A.E.]

Jon pointed me years ago to this nearly perfect poem by A.E. Houseman:

Here dead lie we because we did not choose
To live and shame the land from which we sprung.

Life, to be sure, is nothing much to lose;
But young men think it is, and we were young.

I have been reflecting on this very deep poem and, last night, composed an essay of sorts:

Life is nothing much to lose. Who says this? Who could say such a thing? The voice of the poem couldn’t be the young man who was the living first person referred to in the first line. The one who lies and the one who did not choose to live. That man believes that life is something much to lose. The voice speaking the lines must be very old. Either old in the old familiar way of years– old enough to be ready to let life go without going to pieces – or old as the universe, so that the extinguishing of life really seems like nothing.

Can one learn to not hate death? Can one come to say that life is nothing much to lose since ‘life’ is what is left of life, not what has been lived? A young man sees the worth of living in the potential of living. Who will I marry? What will my kids be like? What shape will my career take? How will I gain notoriety? What will I learn? What experiences will I live through? What hills will I climb? The life left for a man entering his prime is surely something indeed to lose – from his own perspective at least. Can one live enough to change this perspective?

(Read more…)

January 21, 2006

Kisses [Filed under: Hunt, Leigh]

Jenny Kissed Me

Jenny kissed me when we met,
  Jumping from the chair she sat in;
Time, you thief, who love to get
  Sweets into your list, put that in.
Say I’m weary, say I’m sad,
  Say that health and wealth have missed me;
Say I’m growing old, but add—
  Jenny kissed me!

Dearest Cynara, I have broken faith; come what may, life is beautiful today.