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Verbal Expression
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Dawn

by Emily Dickinson

When night is almost done,
And sunrise grows so near
That we can touch the spaces,
It ‘s time to smooth the hair

And get the dimples ready,
And wonder we could care
For that old faded midnight
That frightened but an hour.

Where is My Boy Tonight?

by Horatio Alger, Jr.

When the clouds in the Western sky
  Flush red with the setting sun,–
When the veil of twilight falls,
  And the busy day is done,–
I sit and watch the clouds,
  With their crimson hues alight,
And ponder with anxious heart,
  Oh, where is my boy to-night?

It is just a year to-day
  Since he bade me a gay good-by,
To march where banners float,
  And the deadly missiles fly.
As I marked his martial step
  I felt my color rise
With all a mother’s pride,
  And my heart was in my eyes.

There’s a little room close by,
  Where I often used to creep
In the hush of the summer night
  To watch my boy asleep.
But he who used to rest
  Beneath the spread so white
Is far away from me now,–
  Oh, where is my boy to-night?

Perchance in the gathering night,
  With slow and weary feet,
By the light of Southern stars,
  He paces his lonely beat.
Does he think of the mother’s heart
  That will never cease to yearn,
As only a mother’s can,
  For her absent boy’s return?

Oh, where is my boy to-night?
  I cannot answer where,
But I know, wherever he is,
  He is under our Father’s care.
May He guard, and guide, and bless
  My boy, wherever he be,
And bring him back at length
  To bless and to comfort me.

May God bless all our boys
  By the camp-fire’s ruddy glow,
Or when in the deadly fight
  They front the embattled foe;
And comfort each mother’s heart,
  As she sits in the fading light,
And ponders with anxious heart–
  Oh, where is my boy to-night?

Sonnet to Lake Leman

by Lord Byron

    Rousseau–Voltaire–our Gibbon–and De Stael–
      Leman! these names are worthy of thy shore,
      Thy shore of names like these! wert thou no more,
    Their memory thy remembrance would recall:
    To them thy banks were lovely as to all,
      But they have made them lovelier, for the lore
      Of mighty minds doth hallow in the core
    Of human hearts the ruin of a wall
      Where dwelt the wise and wondrous; but by thee
    How much more, Lake of Beauty! do we feel,
      In sweetly gliding o’er thy crystal sea,
    The wild glow of that not ungentle zeal,
      Which of the Heirs of Immortality
    Is proud, and makes the breath of Glory real!

Places of Nestling Green for Poets Made

by John Keats

I stood tip-toe upon a little hill,
The air was cooling, and so very still.
That the sweet buds which with a modest pride
Pull droopingly, in slanting curve aside,
Their scantly leaved, and finely tapering stems,
Had not yet lost those starry diadems
Caught from the early sobbing of the morn.
The clouds were pure and white as flocks new shorn,
And fresh from the clear brook; sweetly they slept
On the blue fields of heaven, and then there crept
A little noiseless noise among the leaves,
Born of the very sigh that silence heaves:
For not the faintest motion could be seen
Of all the shades that slanted o’er the green.
There was wide wand’ring for the greediest eye,
To peer about upon variety;
Far round the horizon’s crystal air to skim,
And trace the dwindled edgings of its brim;
To picture out the quaint, and curious bending
Of a fresh woodland alley, never ending;
Or by the bowery clefts, and leafy shelves,
Guess were the jaunty streams refresh themselves.
I gazed awhile, and felt as light, and free
As though the fanning wings of Mercury
Had played upon my heels: I was light-hearted,
And many pleasures to my vision started;
So I straightway began to pluck a posey
Of luxuries bright, milky, soft and rosy.

A bush of May flowers with the bees about them;
Ah, sure no tasteful nook would be without them;
And let a lush laburnum oversweep them,
And let long grass grow round the roots to keep them
Moist, cool and green; and shade the violets,
That they may bind the moss in leafy nets.

A filbert hedge with wild briar overtwined,
And clumps of woodbine taking the soft wind
Upon their summer thrones; there too should be
The frequent chequer of a youngling tree,
That with a score of light green brethen shoots
From the quaint mossiness of aged roots:
Round which is heard a spring-head of clear waters
Babbling so wildly of its lovely daughters
The spreading blue bells: it may haply mourn
That such fair clusters should be rudely torn
From their fresh beds, and scattered thoughtlessly
By infant hands, left on the path to die.

Open afresh your round of starry folds,
Ye ardent marigolds!
Dry up the moisture from your golden lids,
For great Apollo bids
That in these days your praises should be sung
On many harps, which he has lately strung;
And when again your dewiness he kisses,
Tell him, I have you in my world of blisses:
So haply when I rove in some far vale,
His mighty voice may come upon the gale.

Here are sweet peas, on tip-toe for a flight:
With wings of gentle flush o’er delicate white,
And taper fulgent catching at all things,
To bind them all about with tiny rings.

Linger awhile upon some bending planks
That lean against a streamlet’s rushy banks,
And watch intently Nature’s gentle doings:
They will be found softer than ring-dove’s cooings.
How silent comes the water round that bend;
Not the minutest whisper does it send
To the o’erhanging sallows: blades of grass
Slowly across the chequer’d shadows pass.
Why, you might read two sonnets, ere they reach
To where the hurrying freshnesses aye preach
A natural sermon o’er their pebbly beds;
Where swarms of minnows show their little heads,
Staying their wavy bodies ‘gainst the streams,
To taste the luxury of sunny beams
Temper’d with coolness. How they ever wrestle
With their own sweet delight, and ever nestle
Their silver bellies on the pebbly sand.
If you but scantily hold out the hand,
That very instant not one will remain;
But turn your eye, and they are there again.
The ripples seem right glad to reach those cresses,
And cool themselves among the em’rald tresses;
The while they cool themselves, they freshness give,
And moisture, that the bowery green may live:
So keeping up an interchange of favours,
Like good men in the truth of their behaviours
Sometimes goldfinches one by one will drop
From low hung branches; little space they stop;
But sip, and twitter, and their feathers sleek;
Then off at once, as in a wanton freak:
Or perhaps, to show their black, and golden wings,
Pausing upon their yellow flutterings.
Were I in such a place, I sure should pray
That nought less sweet, might call my thoughts away,
Than the soft rustle of a maiden’s gown
Fanning away the dandelion’s down;
Than the light music of her nimble toes
Patting against the sorrel as she goes.
How she would start, and blush, thus to be caught
Playing in all her innocence of thought.
O let me lead her gently o’er the brook,
Watch her half-smiling lips, and downward look;
O let me for one moment touch her wrist;
Let me one moment to her breathing list;
And as she leaves me may she often turn
Her fair eyes looking through her locks auburne.
What next? A tuft of evening primroses,
O’er which the mind may hover till it dozes;
O’er which it well might take a pleasant sleep,
But that ’tis ever startled by the leap
Of buds into ripe flowers; or by the flitting
Of diverse moths, that aye their rest are quitting;
Or by the moon lifting her silver rim
Above a cloud, and with a gradual swim
Coming into the blue with all her light.
O Maker of sweet poets, dear delight
Of this fair world, and all its gentle livers;
Spangler of clouds, halo of crystal rivers,
Mingler with leaves, and dew and tumbling streams,
Closer of lovely eyes to lovely dreams,
Lover of loneliness, and wandering,
Of upcast eye, and tender pondering!
Thee must I praise above all other glories
That smile us on to tell delightful stories.
For what has made the sage or poet write
But the fair paradise of Nature’s light?
In the calm grandeur of a sober line,
We see the waving of the mountain pine;
And when a tale is beautifully staid,
We feel the safety of a hawthorn glade:
When it is moving on luxurious wings,
The soul is lost in pleasant smotherings:
Fair dewy roses brush against our faces,
And flowering laurels spring from diamond vases;
O’er head we see the jasmine and sweet briar,
And bloomy grapes laughing from green attire;
While at our feet, the voice of crystal bubbles
Charms us at once away from all our troubles:
So that we feel uplifted from the world,
Walking upon the white clouds wreath’d and curl’d.
So felt he, who first told, how Psyche went
On the smooth wind to realms of wonderment;
What Psyche felt, and Love, when their full lips
First touch’d; what amorous, and fondling nips
They gave each other’s cheeks; with all their sighs,
And how they kist each other’s tremulous eyes:
The silver lamp,–the ravishment,–the wonder–
The darkness,–loneliness,–the fearful thunder;
Their woes gone by, and both to heaven upflown,
To bow for gratitude before Jove’s throne.
So did he feel, who pull’d the boughs aside,
That we might look into a forest wide,
To catch a glimpse of Fawns, and Dryades
Coming with softest rustle through the trees;
And garlands woven of flowers wild, and sweet,
Upheld on ivory wrists, or sporting feet:
Telling us how fair, trembling Syrinx fled
Arcadian Pan, with such a fearful dread.
Poor nymph,–poor Pan,–how he did weep to find,
Nought but a lovely sighing of the wind
Along the reedy stream; a half heard strain,
Full of sweet desolation–balmy pain.

What first inspired a bard of old to sing
Narcissus pining o’er the untainted spring?
In some delicious ramble, he had found
A little space, with boughs all woven round;
And in the midst of all, a clearer pool
Than e’er reflected in its pleasant cool,
The blue sky here, and there, serenely peeping
Through tendril wreaths fantastically creeping.
And on the bank a lonely flower he spied,
A meek and forlorn flower, with naught of pride,
Drooping its beauty o’er the watery clearness,
To woo its own sad image into nearness:
Deaf to light Zephyrus it would not move;
But still would seem to droop, to pine, to love.
So while the Poet stood in this sweet spot,
Some fainter gleamings o’er his fancy shot;
Nor was it long ere he had told the tale
Of young Narcissus, and sad Echo’s bale.

Where had he been, from whose warm head out-flew
That sweetest of all songs, that ever new,
That aye refreshing, pure deliciousness,
Coming ever to bless
The wanderer by moonlight? to him bringing
Shapes from the invisible world, unearthly singing
From out the middle air, from flowery nests,
And from the pillowy silkiness that rests
Full in the speculation of the stars.
Ah! surely he had burst our mortal bars;
Into some wond’rous region he had gone,
To search for thee, divine Endymion!

He was a Poet, sure a lover too,
Who stood on Latmus’ top, what time there blew
Soft breezes from the myrtle vale below;
And brought in faintness solemn, sweet, and slow
A hymn from Dian’s temple; while upswelling,
The incense went to her own starry dwelling.
But though her face was clear as infant’s eyes,
Though she stood smiling o’er the sacrifice,
The Poet wept at her so piteous fate,
Wept that such beauty should be desolate:
So in fine wrath some golden sounds he won,
And gave meek Cynthia her Endymion.

Queen of the wide air; thou most lovely queen
Of all the brightness that mine eyes have seen!
As thou exceedest all things in thy shine,
So every tale, does this sweet tale of thine.
O for three words of honey, that I might
Tell but one wonder of thy bridal night!

Where distant ships do seem to show their keels,
Phoebus awhile delayed his mighty wheels,
And turned to smile upon thy bashful eyes,
Ere he his unseen pomp would solemnize.
The evening weather was so bright, and clear,
That men of health were of unusual cheer;
Stepping like Homer at the trumpet’s call,
Or young Apollo on the pedestal:
And lovely women were as fair and warm,
As Venus looking sideways in alarm.
The breezes were ethereal, and pure,
And crept through half closed lattices to cure
The languid sick; it cool’d their fever’d sleep,
And soothed them into slumbers full and deep.
Soon they awoke clear eyed: nor burnt with thirsting,
Nor with hot fingers, nor with temples bursting:
And springing up, they met the wond’ring sight
Of their dear friends, nigh foolish with delight;
Who feel their arms, and breasts, and kiss and stare,
And on their placid foreheads part the hair.
Young men, and maidens at each other gaz’d
With hands held back, and motionless, amaz’d
To see the brightness in each others’ eyes;
And so they stood, fill’d with a sweet surprise,
Until their tongues were loos’d in poesy.
Therefore no lover did of anguish die:
But the soft numbers, in that moment spoken,
Made silken ties, that never may be broken.
Cynthia! I cannot tell the greater blisses,
That follow’d thine, and thy dear shepherd’s kisses:
Was there a Poet born?–but now no more,
My wand’ring spirit must no further soar.–

Bequest

by Emily Dickinson 

You left me, sweet, two legacies, –
A legacy of love
A Heavenly Father would content,
Had He the offer of;

You left me boundaries of pain
Capacious as the sea,
Between eternity and time,
Your consciousness and me.

by Edgar Allan Poe

I heed not that my earthly lot
    Hath–little of Earth in it–
  That years of love have been forgot
    In the hatred of a minute:–
  I mourn not that the desolate
    Are happier, sweet, than I,
  But that you sorrow for my fate
    Who am a passer-by.

Wild Beasts

by Evaleen Stein

I will be a lion
And you shall be a bear,
And each of us will have a den
Beneath a nursery chair;
And you must growl and growl and growl,
And I will roar and roar,
And then–why, then–you’ll growl again,
And I will roar some more!

Carving a Name

by Horatio Alger, Jr.

I wrote my name upon the sand,
  And trusted it would stand for aye;
But, soon, alas! the refluent sea
  Had washed my feeble lines away.

I carved my name upon the wood,
  And, after years, returned again;
I missed the shadow of the tree
  That stretched of old upon the plain.

To solid marble next, my name
  I gave as a perpetual trust;
An earthquake rent it to its base,
  And now it lies, o’erlaid with dust.

All these have failed. In wiser mood
  I turn and ask myself, “What then?”
If I would have my name endure,
  I’ll write it on the hearts of men,

In characters of living light,
  Of kindly deeds and actions wrought.
And these, beyond the touch of time,
  Shall live immortal as my thought.

Welcome to Verbal Expression!

Verbal Expression is ready to launch on February 14, 2008! Valentine’s Day!  VE will feature poetry, prose, art, and short stories from our previously defunct print magazine Verbal Expression as well as some great public domain stuff.  Look for us soon.

Image:Venus de Milo Louvre Ma399 n4.jpg

To Isadore

by Edgar Allan Poe
I.       Beneath the vine-clad eaves,
             Whose shadows fall before
             Thy lowly cottage door–
         Under the lilac’s tremulous leaves–
         Within thy snowy clasped hand
             The purple flowers it bore.
         Last eve in dreams, I saw thee stand,
         Like queenly nymph from Fairy-land–
         Enchantress of the flowery wand,
             Most beauteous Isadore!
II.      And when I bade the dream
             Upon thy spirit flee,
             Thy violet eyes to me
         Upturned, did overflowing seem
         With the deep, untold delight
             Of Love’s serenity;
         Thy classic brow, like lilies white
         And pale as the Imperial Night
         Upon her throne, with stars bedight,
             Enthralled my soul to thee!
III.     Ah! ever I behold
             Thy dreamy, passionate eyes,
             Blue as the languid skies
         Hung with the sunset’s fringe of gold;
         Now strangely clear thine image grows,
             And olden memories
         Are startled from their long repose
         Like shadows on the silent snows
         When suddenly the night-wind blows
             Where quiet moonlight lies.
IV.      Like music heard in dreams,
             Like strains of harps unknown,
             Of birds for ever flown,–
         Audible as the voice of streams
         That murmur in some leafy dell,
             I hear thy gentlest tone,
         And Silence cometh with her spell
         Like that which on my tongue doth dwell,
         When tremulous in dreams I tell
             My love to thee alone!

V.       In every valley heard,
             Floating from tree to tree,
             Less beautiful to me,
         The music of the radiant bird,
         Than artless accents such as thine
             Whose echoes never flee!
         Ah! how for thy sweet voice I pine:–
         For uttered in thy tones benign
         (Enchantress!) this rude name of mine
             Doth seem a melody!

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