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The Bells

by Edgar Allan Poe
I.

Hear the sledges with the bells–
Silver bells!
What a world of merriment their melody foretells!
How they tinkle, tinkle, tinkle,
In their icy air of night!
While the stars, that oversprinkle
All the heavens, seem to twinkle
With a crystalline delight;
Keeping time, time, time,
In a sort of Runic rhyme,
To the tintinnabulation that so musically wells
From the bells, bells, bells, bells,
Bells, bells, bells–
From the jingling and the tinkling of the bells.
II.

Hear the mellow wedding bells,
Golden bells!
What a world of happiness their harmony foretells!
Through the balmy air of night
How they ring out their delight!
From the molten golden-notes,
And all in tune,
What a liquid ditty floats
To the turtle-dove that listens, while she gloats
On the moon!
Oh, from out the sounding cells,
What a gush of euphony voluminously wells!
How it swells!
How it dwells
On the future! how it tells
Of the rapture that impels
To the swinging and the ringing
Of the bells, bells, bells,
Of the bells, bells, bells, bells,
Bells, bells, bells–
To the rhyming and the chiming of the bells!
III.

Hear the loud alarum bells–
Brazen bells!
What a tale of terror now their turbulency tells!
In the startled ear of night
How they scream out their affright!
Too much horrified to speak,
They can only shriek, shriek,
Out of tune,
In a clamorous appealing to the mercy of the fire,
In a mad expostulation with the deaf and frantic fire
Leaping higher, higher, higher,
With a desperate desire,
And a resolute endeavor
Now–now to sit or never,
By the side of the pale-faced moon.
Oh, the bells, bells, bells!
What a tale their terror tells
Of Despair!
How they clang, and clash, and roar!
What a horror they outpour
On the bosom of the palpitating air!
Yet the ear it fully knows,
By the twanging,
And the clanging,
How the danger ebbs and flows;
Yet the ear distinctly tells,
In the jangling,
And the wrangling,
How the danger sinks and swells,
By the sinking or the swelling in the anger of the bells–
Of the bells–
Of the bells, bells, bells, bells,
Bells, bells, bells–
In the clamor and the clangor of the bells!
IV.

Hear the tolling of the bells–
Iron bells!
What a world of solemn thought their monody compels!
In the silence of the night,
How we shiver with affright
At the melancholy menace of their tone!
For every sound that floats
From the rust within their throats
Is a groan.
And the people–ah, the people–
They that dwell up in the steeple.
All alone,
And who tolling, tolling, tolling,
In that muffled monotone,
Feel a glory in so rolling
On the human heart a stone–
They are neither man nor woman–
They are neither brute nor human–
They are Ghouls:
And their king it is who tolls;
And he rolls, rolls, rolls,
Rolls
A pæan from the bells!
And his merry bosom swells
With the pæan of the bells!
And he dances, and he yells;
Keeping time, time, time,
In a sort of Runic rhyme,
To the pæan of the bells–
Of the bells:
Keeping time, time, time,
In a sort of Runic rhyme,
To the throbbing of the bells–
Of the bells, bells, bells–
To the sobbing of the bells;
Keeping time, time, time,
As he knells, knells, knells,
In a happy Runic rhyme,
To the rolling of the bells–
Of the bells, bells, bells–
To the tolling of the bells,
Of the bells, bells, bells, bells,
Bells, bells, bells–
To the moaning and the groaning of the bells.

To Zante

by Edgar Allan Poe
  Fair isle, that from the fairest of all flowers,
    Thy gentlest of all gentle names dost take!
  How many memories of what radiant hours
    At sight of thee and thine at once awake!
  How many scenes of what departed bliss!
    How many thoughts of what entombed hopes!
  How many visions of a maiden that is
    No more–no more upon thy verdant slopes!

  _No more!_ alas, that magical sad sound
    Transforming all! Thy charms shall please _no more_–
  Thy memory _no more!_ Accursed ground
    Henceforward I hold thy flower-enamelled shore,
  O hyacinthine isle! O purple Zante!
    “Isola d’oro! Fior di Levante!”

Evening Star

by Edgar Allan Poe
  ‘Twas noontide of summer,
    And midtime of night,
  And stars, in their orbits,
    Shone pale, through the light
  Of the brighter, cold moon.
    ‘Mid planets her slaves,
  Herself in the Heavens,
    Her beam on the waves.

    I gazed awhile
    On her cold smile;
  Too cold–too cold for me–
    There passed, as a shroud,
    A fleecy cloud,
  And I turned away to thee,
    Proud Evening Star,
    In thy glory afar
  And dearer thy beam shall be;
    For joy to my heart
    Is the proud part
  Thou bearest in Heaven at night,
    And more I admire
    Thy distant fire,
  Than that colder, lowly light.

Imitation

by Edgar Allan Poe
  A dark unfathomed tide
  Of interminable pride–
  A mystery, and a dream,
  Should my early life seem;
  I say that dream was fraught
  With a wild and waking thought
  Of beings that have been,
  Which my spirit hath not seen,
  Had I let them pass me by,
  With a dreaming eye!
  Let none of earth inherit
  That vision on my spirit;
  Those thoughts I would control,
  As a spell upon his soul:
  For that bright hope at last
  And that light time have past,
  And my wordly rest hath gone
  With a sigh as it passed on:
  I care not though it perish
  With a thought I then did cherish.

Calidore

by John Keats
Young Calidore is paddling o’er the lake;
His healthful spirit eager and awake
To feel the beauty of a silent eve,
Which seem’d full loath this happy world to leave;
The light dwelt o’er the scene so lingeringly.
He bares his forehead to the cool blue sky,
And smiles at the far clearness all around,
Until his heart is well nigh over wound,
And turns for calmness to the pleasant green
Of easy slopes, and shadowy trees that lean
So elegantly o’er the waters’ brim
And show their blossoms trim.
Scarce can his clear and nimble eye-sight follow
The freaks, and dartings of the black-wing’d swallow,
Delighting much, to see it half at rest,
Dip so refreshingly its wings, and breast
‘Gainst the smooth surface, and to mark anon,
The widening circles into nothing gone.

And now the sharp keel of his little boat
Comes up with ripple, and with easy float,
And glides into a bed of water lillies:
Broad leav’d are they and their white canopies
Are upward turn’d to catch the heavens’ dew.
Near to a little island’s point they grew;
Whence Calidore might have the goodliest view
Of this sweet spot of earth. The bowery shore
Went off in gentle windings to the hoar
And light blue mountains: but no breathing man
With a warm heart, and eye prepared to scan
Nature’s clear beauty, could pass lightly by
Objects that look’d out so invitingly
On either side. These, gentle Calidore
Greeted, as he had known them long before.

The sidelong view of swelling leafiness,
Which the glad setting sun, in gold doth dress;
Whence ever, and anon the jay outsprings,
And scales upon the beauty of its wings.

The lonely turret, shatter’d, and outworn,
Stands venerably proud; too proud to mourn
Its long lost grandeur: fir trees grow around,
Aye dropping their hard fruit upon the ground.

The little chapel with the cross above
Upholding wreaths of ivy; the white dove,
That on the windows spreads his feathers light,
And seems from purple clouds to wing its flight.

Green tufted islands casting their soft shades
Across the lake; sequester’d leafy glades,
That through the dimness of their twilight show
Large dock leaves, spiral foxgloves, or the glow
Of the wild cat’s eyes, or the silvery stems
Of delicate birch trees, or long grass which hems
A little brook. The youth had long been viewing
These pleasant things, and heaven was bedewing
The mountain flowers, when his glad senses caught
A trumpet’s silver voice. Ah! it was fraught
With many joys for him: the warder’s ken
Had found white coursers prancing in the glen:
Friends very dear to him he soon will see;
So pushes off his boat most eagerly,
And soon upon the lake he skims along,
Deaf to the nightingale’s first under-song;
Nor minds he the white swans that dream so sweetly:
His spirit flies before him so completely.

And now he turns a jutting point of land,
Whence may be seen the castle gloomy, and grand:
Nor will a bee buzz round two swelling peaches,
Before the point of his light shallop reaches
Those marble steps that through the water dip:
Now over them he goes with hasty trip,
And scarcely stays to ope the folding doors:
Anon he leaps along the oaken floors
Of halls and corridors.

Delicious sounds! those little bright-eyed things
That float about the air on azure wings,
Had been less heartfelt by him than the clang
Of clattering hoofs; into the court he sprang,
Just as two noble steeds, and palfreys twain,
Were slanting out their necks with loosened rein;
While from beneath the threat’ning portcullis
They brought their happy burthens. What a kiss,
What gentle squeeze he gave each lady’s hand!
How tremblingly their delicate ancles spann’d!
Into how sweet a trance his soul was gone,
While whisperings of affection
Made him delay to let their tender feet
Come to the earth; with an incline so sweet
From their low palfreys o’er his neck they bent:
And whether there were tears of languishment,
Or that the evening dew had pearl’d their tresses,
He feels a moisture on his cheek, and blesses
With lips that tremble, and with glistening eye
All the soft luxury
That nestled in his arms. A dimpled hand,
Fair as some wonder out of fairy land,
Hung from his shoulder like the drooping flowers
Of whitest Cassia, fresh from summer showers:
And this he fondled with his happy cheek
As if for joy he would no further seek;
When the kind voice of good Sir Clerimond
Came to his ear, like something from beyond
His present being: so he gently drew
His warm arms, thrilling now with pulses new,
From their sweet thrall, and forward gently bending,
Thank’d heaven that his joy was never ending;
While ‘gainst his forehead he devoutly press’d
A hand heaven made to succour the distress’d;
A hand that from the world’s bleak promontory
Had lifted Calidore for deeds of glory.

Amid the pages, and the torches’ glare,
There stood a knight, patting the flowing hair
Of his proud horse’s mane: he was withal
A man of elegance, and stature tall:
So that the waving of his plumes would be
High as the berries of a wild ash tree,
Or as the winged cap of Mercury.
His armour was so dexterously wrought
In shape, that sure no living man had thought
It hard, and heavy steel: but that indeed
It was some glorious form, some splendid weed,
In which a spirit new come from the skies
Might live, and show itself to human eyes.
‘Tis the far-fam’d, the brave Sir Gondibert,
Said the good man to Calidore alert;
While the young warrior with a step of grace
Came up,–a courtly smile upon his face,
And mailed hand held out, ready to greet
The large-eyed wonder, and ambitious heat
Of the aspiring boy; who as he led
Those smiling ladies, often turned his head
To admire the visor arched so gracefully
Over a knightly brow; while they went by
The lamps that from the high-roof’d hall were pendent,
And gave the steel a shining quite transcendent.

Soon in a pleasant chamber they are seated;
The sweet-lipp’d ladies have already greeted
All the green leaves that round the window clamber,
To show their purple stars, and bells of amber.
Sir Gondibert has doff’d his shining steel,
Gladdening in the free, and airy feel
Of a light mantle; and while Clerimond
Is looking round about him with a fond,
And placid eye, young Calidore is burning
To hear of knightly deeds, and gallant spurning
Of all unworthiness; and how the strong of arm
Kept off dismay, and terror, and alarm
From lovely woman: while brimful of this,
He gave each damsel’s hand so warm a kiss,
And had such manly ardour in his eye,
That each at other look’d half staringly;
And then their features started into smiles
Sweet as blue heavens o’er enchanted isles.

Softly the breezes from the forest came,
Softly they blew aside the taper’s flame;
Clear was the song from Philomel’s far bower;
Grateful the incense from the lime-tree flower;
Mysterious, wild, the far heard trumpet’s tone;
Lovely the moon in ether, all alone:
Sweet too the converse of these happy mortals,
As that of busy spirits when the portals
Are closing in the west; or that soft humming
We hear around when Hesperus is coming.
Sweet be their sleep.

The Singing Wire

by George Parsons Lathrop

Ethereal, faint that music rang,
As, with the bosom of the breeze,
It rose and fell and murmuring sang
Aeolian harmonies!

I turned; again the mournful chords,
In random rhythm lightly flung
From off the wire, came shaped in words;
And thus meseemed, they sung:

“I, messenger of many fates,
Strung to the tones of woe or weal,
Fine nerve that thrills and palpitates
With all men know or feel,–

“Is it so strange that I should wail?
Leave me my tearless, sad refrain,
When in the pine-top wakes the gale
That breathes of coming rain.

“There is a spirit in the post;
It, too, was once a murmuring tree;
Its withered, sad, imprisoned ghost
Echoes my melody.

“Come close, and lay your listening ear
Against the bare and branchless wood.
Can you not hear it crooning clear,
As though it understood?”

I listened to the branchless pole
That held aloft the singing wire;
I heard its muffled music roll,
And stirred with sweet desire:

“O wire more soft than seasoned lute,
Hast thou no sunlit word for me?
Though long to me so coyly mute,
Her heart may speak through thee!”

I listened, but it was in vain.
At first, the wind’s old wayward will
Drew forth the tearless, sad refrain.
That ceased; and all was still.

But suddenly some kindling shock
Struck flashing through the wire: a bird,
Poised on it, screamed and flew; the flock
Rose with him; wheeled and whirred.

Then to my soul there came this sense:
“Her heart has answered unto thine;
She comes, to-night. Go, speed thee hence:
Meet her; no more repine!”

Perhaps the fancy was far-fetched;
And yet, perhaps, it hinted true.
Ere moonrise, Love, a hand was stretched
In mine, that gave me–you!

And so more dear to me has grown
Than rarest tones swept from the lyre,
The minor movement of that moan
In yonder singing wire.

Nor care I for the will of states,
Or aught beside, that smites that string,
Since then so close it knit our fates,
What time the bird took wing!

Van Gogh

Van Gogh

The Church at Stratford-on-Avon

by Horatio Alger, Jr.

One autumn day, when hedges yet were green,
  And thick-branched trees diffused a leafy gloom,
Hard by where Avon rolls its silvery tide,
  I stood in silent thought by Shakspeare’s tomb.

O happy church, beneath whose marble floor
  His ashes lie who so enriched mankind;
The many-sided Shakespeare, rare of soul,
  And dowered with an all-embracing mind.

Through the stained windows rays of sunshine fall
  In softened glory on the chancel floor;
While I, a pilgrim from across the sea,
  stand with bare head in reverential awe.

Churches there are within whose gloomy vaults
  Repose the bones of those that once were kings;
Their power has passed, and what remains but clay?
  While in his grave our Shakspeare lives and sings.

Kings were his puppets, kingdoms but his stage,–
  Faint shadows they without his plastic art,–
He waves his wand, and lo! they live again,
  And in his world perform their mimic part.                  

Born in the purple, his imperial soul                       
  Sits crowned and sceptred in the realms of mind.
Kingdoms may fall, and crumble to decay,
  Time but confirms his empire o’er mankind.

In Vain

by Emily Dickinson
I CANNOT live with you,
It would be life,
And life is over there
Behind the shelf

The sexton keeps the key to,
Putting up
Our life, his porcelain,
Like a cup

Discarded of the housewife,
Quaint or broken;
A newer Sevres pleases,
Old ones crack.

I could not die with you,
For one must wait
To shut the other’s gaze down, –
You could not.

And I, could I stand by
And see you freeze,
Without my right of frost,
Death’s privilege?

Nor could I rise with you,
Because your face
Would put out Jesus’,
That new grace

Glow plain and foreign
On my homesick eye,
Except that you, than he
Shone closer by.

They’d judge us — how?
For you served Heaven, you know,
Or sought to;
I could not,

Because you saturated sight,
And I had no more eyes
For sordid excellence
As Paradise.

And were you lost, I would be,
Though my name
Rang loudest
On the heavenly fame.

And were you saved,
And I condemned to be
Where you were not,
That self were hell to me.

So we must keep apart,
You there, I here,
With just the door ajar
That oceans are,
And prayer,
And that pale sustenance,
Despair!

A Soldier’s Valentine

by Horatio Alger, Jr.

Just from the sentry’s tramp
  (I must take it again at ten),
I have laid my musket down,
  And seized instead my pen;
For, pacing my lonely round
  In the chilly twilight gray,
The thought, dear Mary, came,
  That this is St. Valentine’s Day.

And with the thought there came
  A glimpse of the happy time
When a school-boy’s first attempt
  I sent you, in borrowed rhyme,
On a gilt-edged sheet, embossed
  With many a quaint design,
And signed, in school-boy hand,
  “Your loving Valentine.”

The years have come and gone,–
  Have flown, I know not where, –
And the school-boy’s merry face
  Is grave with manhood’s care;
But the heart of the man still beats
  At the well-remembered name,
And on this St. Valentine’s Day
  His choice is still the same.

There was a time– ah, well!
  Think not that I repine
When I dreamed this happy day
  Would smile on you as mine;
But I heard my country’s call;
  I knew her need was sore.
Thank God, no selfish thought
  Withheld me from the war.

But when the dear old flag
  Shall float in its ancient pride,
When the twain shall be made one,
  And feuds no more divide,–
I will lay my musket down,
  My martial garb resign,
And turn my joyous feet
  Toward home and Valentine.

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