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Specimen of an Induction to a Poem

by John Keats
Lo! I must tell a tale of chivalry;
For large white plumes are dancing in mine eye.
Not like the formal crest of latter days:
But bending in a thousand graceful ways;
So graceful, that it seems no mortal hand,
Or e’en the touch of Archimago’s wand,
Could charm them into such an attitude.
We must think rather, that in playful mood,
Some mountain breeze had turned its chief delight,
To show this wonder of its gentle might.
Lo! I must tell a tale of chivalry;
For while I muse, the lance points slantingly
Athwart the morning air: some lady sweet,
Who cannot feel for cold her tender feet,
From the worn top of some old battlement
Hails it with tears, her stout defender sent:
And from her own pure self no joy dissembling,
Wraps round her ample robe with happy trembling.
Sometimes, when the good Knight his rest would take,
It is reflected, clearly, in a lake,
With the young ashen boughs, ‘gainst which it rests,
And th’ half seen mossiness of linnets’ nests.
Ah! shall I ever tell its cruelty,
When the fire flashes from a warrior’s eye,
And his tremendous hand is grasping it,
And his dark brow for very wrath is knit?
Or when his spirit, with more calm intent,
Leaps to the honors of a tournament,
And makes the gazers round about the ring
Stare at the grandeur of the balancing?
No, no! this is far off:–then how shall I
Revive the dying tones of minstrelsy,
Which linger yet about lone gothic arches,
In dark green ivy, and among wild larches?
How sing the splendour of the revelries,
When buts of wine are drunk off to the lees?
And that bright lance, against the fretted wall,
Beneath the shade of stately banneral,
Is slung with shining cuirass, sword, and shield?
Where ye may see a spur in bloody field.
Light-footed damsels move with gentle paces
Round the wide hall, and show their happy faces;
Or stand in courtly talk by fives and sevens:
Like those fair stars that twinkle in the heavens.
Yet must I tell a tale of chivalry:
Or wherefore comes that knight so proudly by?
Wherefore more proudly does the gentle knight,
Rein in the swelling of his ample might?

Spenser! thy brows are arched, open, kind,
And come like a clear sun-rise to my mind;
And always does my heart with pleasure dance,
When I think on thy noble countenance:
Where never yet was ought more earthly seen
Than the pure freshness of thy laurels green.
Therefore, great bard, I not so fearfully
Call on thy gentle spirit to hover nigh
My daring steps: or if thy tender care,
Thus startled unaware,
Be jealous that the foot of other wight
Should madly follow that bright path of light
Trac’d by thy lov’d Libertas; he will speak,
And tell thee that my prayer is very meek;
That I will follow with due reverence,
And start with awe at mine own strange pretence.
Him thou wilt hear; so I will rest in hope
To see wide plains, fair trees and lawny slope:
The morn, the eve, the light, the shade, the flowers:
Clear streams, smooth lakes, and overlooking towers.

The Problem

by Ralph Waldo Emerson

I like a church; I like a cowl;
I love a prophet of the soul;
And on my heart monastic aisles
Fall like sweet strains, or pensive smiles
Yet not for all his faith can see
Would I that cowled churchman be.

Why should the vest on him allure,
Which I could not on me endure?

Not from a vain or shallow thought
His awful Jove young Phidias brought;
Never from lips of cunning fell
The thrilling Delphic oracle;
Out from the heart of nature rolled
The burdens of the Bible old;
The litanies of nations came,
Like the volcano’s tongue of flame,
Up from the burning core below,–
The canticles of love and woe:
The hand that rounded Peter’s dome
And groined the aisles of Christian Rome
Wrought in a sad sincerity;
Himself from God he could not free;
He builded better than he knew;–
The conscious stone to beauty grew.

Know’st thou what wove yon woodbird’s nest
Of leaves, and feathers from her breast?
Or how the fish outbuilt her shell,
Painting with morn each annual cell?
Or how the sacred pine-tree adds
To her old leaves new myriads?
Such and so grew these holy piles,
Whilst love and terror laid the tiles.
Earth proudly wears the Parthenon,
As the best gem upon her zone,
And Morning opes with haste her lids
To gaze upon the Pyramids;
O’er England’s abbeys bends the sky,
As on its friends, with kindred eye;
For out of Thought’s interior sphere
These wonders rose to upper air;
And Nature gladly gave them place,
Adopted them into her race,
And granted them an equal date
With Andes and with Ararat.

These temples grew as grows the grass;
Art might obey, but not surpass.
The passive Master lent his hand
To the vast soul that o’er him planned;
And the same power that reared the shrine
Bestrode the tribes that knelt within.
Ever the fiery Pentecost
Girds with one flame the countless host,
Trances the heart through chanting choirs,
And through the priest the mind inspires.
The word unto the prophet spoken
Was writ on tables yet unbroken;
The word by seers or sibyls told,
In groves of oak, or fanes of gold,
Still floats upon the morning wind,
Still whispers to the willing mind.
One accent of the Holy Ghost
The heedless world hath never lost.
I know what say the fathers wise,–
The Book itself before me lies,
Old Chrysostom, best Augustine,
And he who blent both in his line,
The younger Golden Lips or mines,
Taylor, the Shakspeare of divines.
His words are music in my ear,
I see his cowled portrait dear;
And yet, for all his faith could see,
I would not the good bishop be.

Hymm to Aristogeiton and Harmodius

by Edgar Allan Poe
  I.      Wreathed in myrtle, my sword I’ll conceal,
            Like those champions devoted and brave,
          When they plunged in the tyrant their steel,
            And to Athens deliverance gave.

  II.     Beloved heroes! your deathless souls roam
            In the joy breathing isles of the blest;
          Where the mighty of old have their home–
            Where Achilles and Diomed rest.

  III.    In fresh myrtle my blade I’ll entwine,
            Like Harmodius, the gallant and good,
          When he made at the tutelar shrine
            A libation of Tyranny’s blood.

  IV.     Ye deliverers of Athens from shame!
            Ye avengers of Liberty’s wrongs!
          Endless ages shall cherish your fame,
            Embalmed in their echoing songs!

Love’s Baptism

by Emily Dickinson
I’m ceded, I’ve stopped being theirs;
The name they dropped upon my face
With water, in the country church,
Is finished using now,
And they can put it with my dolls,
My childhood, and the string of spools
I’ve finished threading too.

Baptized before without the choice,
But this time consciously, of grace
Unto supremest name,
Called to my full, the crescent dropped,
Existence’s whole arc filled up
With one small diadem.

My second rank, too small the first,
Crowned, crowing on my father’s breast,
A half unconscious queen;
But this time, adequate, erect,
With will to choose or to reject.
And I choose — just a throne.

The Nyum-Nyum

by Anonymous

The Nyum-Nyum chortled by the sea,
And sipped the wavelets green:
He wondered how the sky could be
So very nice and clean;

He wondered if the chambermaid
Had swept the dust away,
And if the scrumptious Jabberwock
Had mopped it up that day.

And then in sadness to his love
The Nyum-Nyum weeping said,
I know no reason why the sea
Should not be white or red.

I know no reason why the sea
Should not be red, I say;
And why the slithy Bandersnatch
Has not been round to-day.

He swore he’d call at two o’clock,
And now it’s half-past four.
“Stay,” said the Nyum-Nyum’s love, “I think
I hear him at the door.”

In twenty minutes in there came
A creature black as ink,
Which put its feet upon a chair
And called for beer to drink.

They gave him porter in a tub,
But, “Give me more!” he cried;
And then he drew a heavy sigh,
And laid him down, and died.

He died, and in the Nyum-Nyum’s cave
A cry of mourning rose;
The Nyum-Nyum sobbed a gentle sob,
And slily blew his nose.

The Nyum-Nyum’s love, we need not state,
Was overwhelmed and sad;
She said, “Oh, take the corpse away,
Or you will drive me mad!”

The Nyum-Nyum in his supple arms
Took up the gruesome weight,
And, with a cry of bitter fear,
He threw it at his mate.

And then he wept, and tore his hair,
And threw it in the sea,
And loudly sobbed with streaming eyes
That such a thing could be.

The ox, that mumbled in his stall,
Perspired and gently sighed,
And then, in sympathy, it fell
Upon its back and died.

The hen that sat upon her eggs,
With high ambition fired,
Arose in simple majesty,
And, with a cluck, expired.

The jubejube bird, that carolled there,
Sat down upon a post,
And with a reverential caw,
Gave up its little ghost.

And ere its kind and loving life
Eternally had ceased,
The donkey, in the ancient barn,
In agony deceased.

The raven, perched upon the elm,
Gave forth a scraping note,
And ere the sound had died away,
Had cut its tuneful throat.

The Nyum-Nyum’s love was sorrowful;
And, after she had cried,
She, with a brand-new carving-knife,
Committed suicide.

“Alas!” the Nyum-Nyum said, “alas!
With thee I will not part,”
And straightway seized a rolling-pin
And drove it through his heart.

The mourners came and gathered up
The bits that lay about;
But why the massacre had been,
They could not quite make out.

One said there was a mystery
Connected with the deaths;
But others thought the silent ones
Perhaps had lost their breaths.

The doctor soon arrived, and viewed
The corpses as they lay;
He could not give them life again,
So he was heard to say.

But, oh! it was a horrid sight;
It made the blood run cold,
To see the bodies carried off
And covered up with mould.

The Toves across the briny sea
Wept buckets-full of tears;
They were relations of the dead,
And had been friends for years.

The Jabberwock upon the hill
Gave forth a gloomy wail,
When in his airy seat he sat,
And told the awful tale.

And who can wonder that it made
That loving creature cry?
For he had done the dreadful work
And caused the things to die.

That Jabberwock was passing bad–
That Jabberwock was wrong,
And with this verdict I conclude
One portion of my song.

The Outlet

by Emily Dickinson
My river runs to thee:
Blue sea, wilt welcome me?

My river waits reply.
Oh sea, look graciously!

I’ll fetch thee brooks
From spotted nooks, –

Say, sea,
Take me!

by Emily Dickinson

If you were coming in the fall,
I’d brush the summer by
With half a smile and half a spurn,
As housewives do a fly.

If I could see you in a year,
I’d wind the months in balls,
And put them each in separate drawers,
Until their time befalls.

If only centuries delayed,
I’d count them on my hand,
Subtracting till my fingers dropped
Into Van Diemen’s land.

If certain, when this life was out,
That yours and mine should be,
I’d toss it yonder like a rind,
And taste eternity.

But now, all ignorant of the length
Of time’s uncertain wing,
It goads me, like the goblin bee,
That will not state its sting.

Almost!

by Emily Dickinson

Within my reach!
I could have touched!
I might have chanced that way!
Soft sauntered through the village,
Sauntered as soft away!
So unsuspected violets
Within the fields lie low,
Too late for striving fingers
That passed, an hour ago.

Lenore

by Edgar Allan Poe
  Ah, broken is the golden bowl! the spirit flown forever!
  Let the bell toll!–a saintly soul floats on the Stygian river.
  And, Guy de Vere, hast _thou_ no tear?–weep now or never more!
  See! on yon drear and rigid bier low lies thy love, Lenore!
  Come! let the burial rite be read–the funeral song be sung!–
  An anthem for the queenliest dead that ever died so young–
  A dirge for her, the doubly dead in that she died so young.

  “Wretches! ye loved her for her wealth and hated her for her pride,
  And when she fell in feeble health, ye blessed her–that she died!
  How _shall_ the ritual, then, be read?–the requiem how be sung
  By you–by yours, the evil eye,–by yours, the slanderous tongue
  That did to death the innocence that died, and died so young?”

  _Peccavimus;_ but rave not thus! and let a Sabbath song
  Go up to God so solemnly the dead may feel no wrong!
  The sweet Lenore hath “gone before,” with Hope, that flew beside,
  Leaving thee wild for the dear child that should have been thy bride–
  For her, the fair and _débonnaire_, that now so lowly lies,
  The life upon her yellow hair but not within her eyes–
  The life still there, upon her hair–the death upon her eyes.

  “Avaunt! to-night my heart is light. No dirge will I upraise,
  But waft the angel on her flight with a pæan of old days!
  Let _no_ bell toll!–lest her sweet soul, amid its hallowed mirth,
  Should catch the note, as it doth float up from the damned Earth.
  To friends above, from fiends below, the indignant ghost is riven–
  From Hell unto a high estate far up within the Heaven–
  From grief and groan to a golden throne beside the King of Heaven.”

The Boy in the Red Vest

by Paul Cézanne

Paul Cézanne

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