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To Helen

by Edgar Allan Poe
  Helen, thy beauty is to me
    Like those Nicean barks of yore,
  That gently, o’er a perfumed sea,
    The weary, wayworn wanderer bore
    To his own native shore.

  On desperate seas long wont to roam,
    Thy hyacinth hair, thy classic face,
  Thy Naiad airs have brought me home
    To the glory that was Greece,
  To the grandeur that was Rome.

  Lo! in yon brilliant window niche,
    How statue-like I see thee stand,
    The agate lamp within thy hand!
  Ah, Psyche, from the regions which
    Are Holy Land!

Bed in Summer

by Robert Louis Stevenson

In winter I get up at night,
And dress by yellow candle light.
In summer quite the other way,
I have to go to bed by day.

I have to go to bed and see
The birds still hopping on the tree,
Or hear the grown-up people’s feet,
Still going past me in the street.

And does it not seem hard to you,
When all the sky is clear and blue,
And I should like so much to play,
To have to go to bed by day?

by Emily Dickinson

If I can stop one heart from breaking,
I shall not live in vain;
If I can ease one life the aching,
Or cool one pain,
Or help one fainting robin
Unto his nest again,
I shall not live in vain.

The Wife

by Emily Dickinson

She rose to his requirement, dropped
The playthings of her life
To take the honorable work
Of woman and of wife.

If aught she missed in her new day
Of amplitude, or awe,
Or first prospective, or the gold
In using wore away,

It lay unmentioned, as the sea
Develops pearl and weed,
But only to himself is known
The fathoms they abide.

Gon to the War

by Horatio Alger, Jr.

My Charlie has gone to the war,
  My Charlie so brave and tall;
He left his plough in the furrow,
  And flew at his country’s call.
May God in safety keep him,–
  My precious boy–my all!

My heart is pining to see him;
  I miss him every day;
My heart is weary with waiting,
  And sick of the long delay,–
But I know his country needs him,
  And I could not bid him stay.

I remember how his face flushed,
  And how his color came,
When the flash from the guns of Sumter
  Lit the whole land with flame,
And darkened our country’s banner
  With the crimson hue of shame.

“Mother,” he said, then faltered,–
  I felt his mute appeal;
I paused– if you are a mother,
  You know what mothers feel,
When called to yield their dear ones
  To the cruel bullet and steel.

My heart stood still for a moment,
  Struck with a mighty woe;
A faint as of death came o’er me,
  I am a mother, you know,
But I sternly checked my weakness,
  And firmly bade him “Go.”

Wherever the fight is fiercest
  I know that my boy will be;
Wherever the need is sorest
  Of the stout arms of the free.
May he prove as true to his country
  As he has been true to me.

My home is lonely without him,
  My hearth bereft of joy,
The thought of him who has left me
  My constant sad employ;
But God has been good to the mother,–
  She shall not blush for her boy.

“The Happiest Day”

by Edgar Allan Poe
     I.       The happiest day–the happiest hour
                My seared and blighted heart hath known,
              The highest hope of pride and power,
                I feel hath flown.
     II.      Of power! said I? Yes! such I ween
                But they have vanished long, alas!
              The visions of my youth have been–
                But let them pass.
     III.     And pride, what have I now with thee?
                Another brow may ev’n inherit
              The venom thou hast poured on me–
                Be still my spirit!
     IV.      The happiest day–the happiest hour
                Mine eyes shall see–have ever seen
              The brightest glance of pride and power
                I feel have been:
     V.       But were that hope of pride and power
                Now offered with the pain
              Ev’n _then_ I felt–that brightest hour
                I would not live again:

     VI.      For on its wing was dark alloy
                And as it fluttered–fell
              An essence–powerful to destroy
                A soul that knew it well.

Fare Well

by Walter de la Mare

When I lie where shades of darkness
Shall no more assail mine eyes,
Nor the rain make lamentation
When the wind sighs;
How will fare the world whose wonder
Was the very proof of me?
Memory fades, must the remembered
Perishing be?

Oh, when this my dust surrenders
Hand, foot, lip, to dust again,
May these loved and loving faces
Please other men!
May the rustling harvest hedgerow
Still the Traveller’s Joy entwine,
And as happy children gather
Posies once mine.

Look thy last on all things lovely,
Every hour. Let no night
Seal thy sense in deathly slumber
Till to delight
Thou have paid thy utmost blessing;
Since that all things thou wouldst praise
Beauty took from those who loved them
In other days.

Exclusion

by Emily Dickinson

The soul selects her own society,
Then shuts the door;
On her divine majority
Obtrude no more.

Unmoved, she notes the chariot’s pausing
At her low gate;
Unmoved, an emperor is kneeling
Upon her mat.

I’ve known her from an ample nation
Choose one;
Then close the valves of her attention
Like stone.

Fairyland

by Edgar Allan Poe
  Dim vales–and shadowy floods–
  And cloudy-looking woods,
  Whose forms we can’t discover
  For the tears that drip all over
  Huge moons there wax and wane–
  Again–again–again–
  Every moment of the night–
  Forever changing places–
  And they put out the star-light
  With the breath from their pale faces.
  About twelve by the moon-dial
  One more filmy than the rest
  (A kind which, upon trial,
  They have found to be the best)
  Comes down–still down–and down
  With its centre on the crown
  Of a mountain’s eminence,
  While its wide circumference
  In easy drapery falls
  Over hamlets, over halls,
  Wherever they may be–
  O’er the strange woods–o’er the sea–
  Over spirits on the wing–
  Over every drowsy thing–
  And buries them up quite
  In a labyrinth of light–
  And then, how deep!–O, deep!
  Is the passion of their sleep.
  In the morning they arise,
  And their moony covering
  Is soaring in the skies,
  With the tempests as they toss,
  Like–almost any thing–
  Or a yellow Albatross.
  They use that moon no more
  For the same end as before–
  Videlicet a tent–
  Which I think extravagant:
  Its atomies, however,
  Into a shower dissever,
  Of which those butterflies,
  Of Earth, who seek the skies,
  And so come down again
  (Never-contented thing!)
  Have brought a specimen
  Upon their quivering wings.

Silence. A Fable

by Edgar Allan Poe
The mountain pinnacles slumber; valleys, crags, and caves _are silent_.

“LISTEN to _me_,” said the Demon, as he placed his hand upon my head.
“The region of which I speak is a dreary region in Libya, by the borders
of the river Zäire. And there is no quiet there, nor silence.

“The waters of the river have a saffron and sickly hue; and they flow
not onward to the sea, but palpitate forever and forever beneath the red
eye of the sun with a tumultuous and convulsive motion. For many miles
on either side of the river’s oozy bed is a pale desert of gigantic
water-lilies. They sigh one unto the other in that solitude, and stretch
towards the heaven their long and ghastly necks, and nod to and fro
their everlasting heads. And there is an indistinct murmur which cometh
out from among them like the rushing of subterrene water. And they sigh
one unto the other.

“But there is a boundary to their realm–the boundary of the dark,
horrible, lofty forest. There, like the waves about the Hebrides, the
low underwood is agitated continually. But there is no wind throughout
the heaven. And the tall primeval trees rock eternally hither and
thither with a crashing and mighty sound. And from their high summits,
one by one, drop everlasting dews. And at the roots, strange poisonous
flowers lie writhing in perturbed slumber. And overhead, with a rustling
and loud noise, the gray clouds rush westwardly forever until they roll,
a cataract, over the fiery wall of the horizon. But there is no wind
throughout the heaven. And by the shores of the river Zäire there is
neither quiet nor silence.

“It was night, and the rain fell; and, falling, it was rain, but, having
fallen, it was blood. And I stood in the morass among the tall lilies,
and the rain fell upon my head–and the lilies sighed one unto the other
in the solemnity of their desolation.

“And, all at once, the moon arose through the thin ghastly mist, and was
crimson in color. And mine eyes fell upon a huge gray rock which stood
by the shore of the river and was lighted by the light of the moon. And
the rock was gray and ghastly, and tall,–and the rock was gray. Upon
its front were characters engraven in the stones; and I walked through
the morass of water-lilies, until I came close unto the shore, that I
might read the characters upon the stone. But I could not decipher them.
And I was going back into the morass when the moon shone with a fuller
red, and I turned and looked again upon the rock and upon the
characters;–and the characters were DESOLATION.

“And I looked upwards, and there stood a man upon the summit of the
rock; and I hid myself among the water-lilies that I might discover the
action of the man. And the man was tall and stately in form, and wrapped
up from his shoulders to his feet in the toga of old Rome. And the
outlines of his figure were indistinct–but his features were the
features of a deity; for the mantle of the night, and of the mist, and
of the moon, and of the dew, had left uncovered the features of his
face. And his brow was lofty with thought, and his eye wild with care;
and in the few furrows upon his cheek, I read the fables of sorrow, and
weariness, and disgust with mankind, and a longing after solitude.

“And the man sat upon the rock, and leaned his head upon his hand, and
looked out upon the desolation. He looked down into the low unquiet
shrubbery, and up into the tall primeval trees, and up higher at the
rustling heaven, and into the crimson moon. And I lay close within
shelter of the lilies, and observed the actions of the man. And the man
trembled in the solitude;–but the night waned, and he sat upon the
rock.

“And the man turned his attention from the heaven, and looked out upon
the dreary river Zäire, and upon the yellow ghastly waters, and upon the
pale legions of the water-lilies. And the man listened to the sighs of
the water-lilies, and to the murmur that came up from among them. And I
lay close within my covert and observed the actions of the man. And the
man trembled in the solitude;–but the night waned, and he sat upon the
rock.

“Then I went down into the recesses of the morass, and waded afar in
among the wilderness of the lilies, and called unto the hippopotami
which dwelt among the fens in the recesses of the morass. And the
hippopotami heard my call, and came, with the behemoth, unto the foot of
the rock, and roared loudly and fearfully beneath the moon. And I lay
close within my covert and observed the actions of the man. And the man
trembled in the solitude;–but the night waned, and he sat upon the
rock.

“Then I cursed the elements with the curse of tumult; and a frightful
tempest gathered in the heaven, where before there had been no wind. And
the heaven became livid with the violence of the tempest–and the rain
beat upon the head of the man–and the floods of the river came
down–and the river was tormented into foam–and the water-lilies
shrieked within their beds–and the forest crumbled before the wind–and
the thunder rolled–and the lightning fell–and the rock rocked to its
foundation. And I lay close within my covert and observed the actions of
the man. And the man trembled in the solitude;–but the night waned, and
he sat upon the rock.

“Then I grew angry and cursed, with the curse of silence, the river, and
the lilies, and the wind, and the forest, and the heaven, and the
thunder, and the sighs of the water-lilies. And they became accursed,
and _were still._ And the moon ceased to totter up its pathway to
heaven–and the thunder died away–and the lightning did not flash–and
the clouds hung motionless–and the waters sunk to their level and
remained–and the trees ceased to rock–and the water-lilies sighed no
more–and the murmur was heard no longer from among them, nor any shadow
of sound throughout the vast illimitable desert. And I looked upon the
characters of the rock, and they were changed;–and the characters were
SILENCE.

“And mine eyes fell upon the countenance of the man, and his countenance
was wan with terror. And, hurriedly, he raised his head from his hand,
and stood forth upon the rock and listened. But there was no voice
throughout the vast illimitable desert, and the characters upon the rock
were SILENCE. And the man shuddered, and turned his face away, and fled
afar off, in haste, so that I beheld him no more.”

Now there are fine tales in the volumes of the Magi–in the iron-bound,
melancholy volumes of the Magi. Therein, I say, are glorious histories
of the Heaven, and of the Earth, and of the mighty Sea–and of the Genii
that overruled the sea, and the earth, and the lofty heaven. There was
much lore, too, in the sayings which were said by the sybils; and holy,
holy things were heard of old by the dim leaves that trembled around
Dodona–but, as Allah liveth, that fable which the demon told me as he
sat by my side in the shadow of the tomb, I hold to be the most
wonderful of all! And as the Demon made an end of his story, he fell
back within the cavity of the tomb and laughed. And I could not laugh
with the Demon, and he cursed me because I could not laugh. And the lynx
which dwelleth forever in the tomb, came out therefrom, and lay down at
the feet of the Demon, and looked at him steadily in the face.
 

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