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The Dream

by Lord Byron

                        I.

    Our life is twofold: Sleep hath its own world,
    A boundary between the things misnamed
    Death and existence: Sleep hath its own world,
    And a wide realm of wild reality,
    And dreams in their developement have breath,
    And tears, and tortures, and the touch of Joy;
    They leave a weight upon our waking thoughts,
    They take a weight from off our waking toils,
    They do divide our being;they become
    A portion of ourselves as of our time,     
    And look like heralds of Eternity;
    They pass like spirits of the past,–they speak
    Like Sibyls of the future; they have power–
    The tyranny of pleasure and of pain;
    They make us what we were not–what they will,
    And shake us with the vision that’s gone by,
    The dread of vanished shadows–Are they so?
    Is not the past all shadow?–What are they?
    Creations of the mind?–The mind can make
    Substance, and people planets of its own     
    With beings brighter than have been, and give
    A breath to forms which can outlive all flesh.
    I would recall a vision which I dreamed
    Perchance in sleep–for in itself a thought,
    A slumbering thought, is capable of years,
    And curdles a long life into one hour.

                        II.

    I saw two beings in the hues of youth
    Standing upon a hill, a gentle hill,
    Green and of mild declivity, the last
    As ’twere the cape of a long ridge of such, 
    Save that there was no sea to lave its base,
    But a most living landscape, and the wave
    Of woods and cornfields, and the abodes of men
    Scattered at intervals, and wreathing smoke
    Arising from such rustic roofs;–the hill
    Was crowned with a peculiar diadem
    Of trees, in circular array, so fixed,
    Not by the sport of nature, but of man:
    These two, a maiden and a youth, were there
    Gazing–the one on all that was beneath 
    Fair as herself–but the Boy gazed on her;
    And both were young, and one was beautiful:
    And both were young–yet not alike in youth.
    As the sweet moon on the horizon’s verge,
    The Maid was on the eve of Womanhood;
    The Boy had fewer summers, but his heart
    Had far outgrown his years, and to his eye
    There was but one beloved face on earth,
    And that was shining on him: he had looked
    Upon it till it could not pass away;   
    He had no breath, no being, but in hers;
    She was his voice; he did not speak to her,
    But trembled on her words; she was his sight,     
    For his eye followed hers, and saw with hers,
    Which coloured all his objects:–he had ceased
    To live within himself; she was his life,
    The ocean to the river of his thoughts,
    Which terminated all: upon a tone,
    A touch of hers, his blood would ebb and flow,
    And his cheek change tempestuously–his heart 
    Unknowing of its cause of agony.
    But she in these fond feelings had no share:
    Her sighs were not for him; to her he was
    Even as a brother–but no more; ’twas much,
    For brotherless she was, save in the name
    Her infant friendship had bestowed on him;
    Herself the solitary scion left
    Of a time-honoured race.–It was a name
    Which pleased him, and yet pleased him not–and why?
    Time taught him a deep answer–when she loved 
    Another: even _now_ she loved another,
    And on the summit of that hill she stood
    Looking afar if yet her lover’s steed
    Kept pace with her expectancy, and flew.

                        III.

    A change came o’er the spirit of my dream.
    There was an ancient mansion, and before
    Its walls there was a steed caparisoned:
    Within an antique Oratory stood
    The Boy of whom I spake;–he was alone,
    And pale, and pacing to and fro: anon          
    He sate him down, and seized a pen, and traced
    Words which I could not guess of; then he leaned
    His bowed head on his hands, and shook as ’twere
    With a convulsion–then arose again,
    And with his teeth and quivering hands did tear
    What he had written, but he shed no tears.
    And he did calm himself, and fix his brow
    Into a kind of quiet: as he paused,
    The Lady of his love re-entered there;
    She was serene and smiling then, and yet 
    She knew she was by him beloved–she knew,
    For quickly comes such knowledge, that his heart
    Was darkened with her shadow, and she saw
    That he was wretched, but she saw not all.
    He rose, and with a cold and gentle grasp
    He took her hand; a moment o’er his face
    A tablet of unutterable thoughts
    Was traced, and then it faded, as it came;
    He dropped the hand he held, and with slow steps
    Retired, but not as bidding her adieu, 
    For they did part with mutual smiles; he passed
    From out the massy gate of that old Hall,
    And mounting on his steed he went his way;
    And ne’er repassed that hoary threshold more.

                        IV.

    A change came o’er the spirit of my dream.
    The Boy was sprung to manhood: in the wilds
    Of fiery climes he made himself a home,
    And his Soul drank their sunbeams: he was girt
    With strange and dusky aspects; he was not
    Himself like what he had been; on the sea   
    And on the shore he was a wanderer;
    There was a mass of many images
    Crowded like waves upon me, but he was
    A part of all; and in the last he lay
    Reposing from the noontide sultriness,
    Couched among fallen columns, in the shade
    Of ruined walls that had survived the names
    Of those who reared them; by his sleeping side
    Stood camels grazing, and some goodly steeds
    Were fastened near a fountain; and a man      
    Clad in a flowing garb did watch the while,
    While many of his tribe slumbered around:
    And they were canopied by the blue sky,
    So cloudless, clear, and purely beautiful,
    That God alone was to be seen in Heaven.

                        V.

    A change came o’er the spirit of my dream.
    The Lady of his love was wed with One
    Who did not love her better:–in her home,
    A thousand leagues from his,–her native home,
    She dwelt, begirt with growing Infancy,        
    Daughters and sons of Beauty,–but behold!
    Upon her face there was the tint of grief,
    The settled shadow of an inward strife,
    And an unquiet drooping of the eye,
    As if its lid were charged with unshed tears.
    What could her grief be?–she had all she loved,
    And he who had so loved her was not there
    To trouble with bad hopes, or evil wish,
    Or ill-repressed affliction, her pure thoughts.
    What could her grief be?–she had loved him not,  
    Nor given him cause to deem himself beloved,
    Nor could he be a part of that which preyed
    Upon her mind–a spectre of the past.

                        VI.

    A change came o’er the spirit of my dream.
    The Wanderer was returned.–I saw him stand
    Before an Altar–with a gentle bride;
    Her face was fair, but was not that which made
    The Starlight of his Boyhood;–as he stood
    Even at the altar, o’er his brow there came
    The self-same aspect, and the quivering shock
    That in the antique Oratory shook
    His bosom in its solitude; and then–
    As in that hour–a moment o’er his face
    The tablet of unutterable thoughts
    Was traced,–and then it faded as it came,
    And he stood calm and quiet, and he spoke
    The fitting vows, but heard not his own words,
    And all things reeled around him; he could see
    Not that which was, nor that which should have been–
    But the old mansion, and the accustomed hall,     
    And the remembered chambers, and the place,
    The day, the hour, the sunshine, and the shade,
    All things pertaining to that place and hour
    And her who was his destiny, came back
    And thrust themselves between him and the light:
    What business had they there at such a time?

                        VII.

    A change came o’er the spirit of my dream.
    The Lady of his love;–Oh! she was changed
    As by the sickness of the soul; her mind
    Had wandered from its dwelling, and her eyes
    They had not their own lustre, but the look
    Which is not of the earth; she was become
    The Queen of a fantastic realm; her thoughts
    Were combinations of disjointed things;
    And forms, impalpable and unperceived
    Of others’ sight, familiar were to hers.
    And this the world calls frenzy; but the wise
    Have a far deeper madness–and the glance
    Of melancholy is a fearful gift;
    What is it but the telescope of truth?    
    Which strips the distance of its fantasies,
    And brings life near in utter nakedness,
    Making the cold reality too real!

                        VIII.

    A change came o’er the spirit of my dream.
    The Wanderer was alone as heretofore,
    The beings which surrounded him were gone,
    Or were at war with him; he was a mark
    For blight and desolation, compassed round
    With Hatred and Contention; Pain was mixed
    In all which was served up to him, until, 
    Like to the Pontic monarch of old days,
    He fed on poisons, and they had no power,
    But were a kind of nutriment; he lived
    Through that which had been death to many men,
    And made him friends of mountains: with the stars
    And the quick Spirit of the Universe
    He held his dialogues; and they did teach
    To him the magic of their mysteries;
    To him the book of Night was opened wide,
    And voices from the deep abyss revealed
    A marvel and a secret–Be it so.

                        IX.

    My dream was past; it had no further change.
    It was of a strange order, that the doom
    Of these two creatures should be thus traced out
    Almost like a reality–the one
    To end in madness–both in misery.

The Organ Grinder

by Evaleen Stein

Hark! I hear the organ-grinder
Coming down the street,
And the sudden clatter-patter
Of the children’s feet!

Come, oh, let us run to meet him!
Did you ever hear
Tunes so gay as he is playing,
Or so sweet and clear?

See the brown-faced little monkey,
Impudent and bold,
With his little scarlet jacket
Braided all in gold!

And his tiny cap and tassel
Bobbing to and fro,
Look, oh, look! he plucks it off now,
Bowing very low.

And he’s passing it politely–
Can it be for _pay_?
O dear me! I have no penny!
Let us run away!

Mine

by Emily Dickinson

Mine by the right of the white election!
Mine by the royal seal!
Mine by the sign in the scarlet prison
Bars cannot conceal!

Mine, here in vision and in veto!
Mine, by the grave’s repeal
Titled, confirmed, — delirious charter!
Mine, while the ages steal!

The Raven

by Edgar Allan Poe

Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore,
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
“‘T is some visiter,” I muttered, “tapping at my chamber door–
                                          Only this, and nothing more.”

Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December,
And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor.
Eagerly I wished the morrow:–vainly I had sought to borrow
From my books surcease of sorrow–sorrow for the lost Lenore–
For the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore–
                                          Nameless here for evermore.

And the silken sad uncertain rustling of each purple curtain
Thrilled me–filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before;
So that now, to still the beating of my heart, I stood repeating
“‘T is some visiter entreating entrance at my chamber door
Some late visiter entreating entrance at my chamber door;–
                                          This it is, and nothing more.”

Presently my soul grew stronger; hesitating then no longer,
“Sir,” said I, “or Madam, truly your forgiveness I implore;
But the fact is I was napping, and so gently you came rapping,
And so faintly you came tapping, tapping at my chamber door,
That I scarce was sure I heard you”–here I opened wide the door;–
                                          Darkness there, and nothing more.

Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing,
Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before;
But the silence was unbroken, and the darkness gave no token,
And the only word there spoken was the whispered word, “Lenore!”
This I whispered, and an echo murmured back the word, “Lenore!”
                                          Merely this and nothing more.

Back into the chamber turning, all my soul within me burning,
Soon again I heard a tapping, somewhat louder than before.
“Surely,” said I, “surely that is something at my window lattice;
Let me see, then, what thereat is, and this mystery explore–
Let my heart be still a moment and this mystery explore;–
                                          ‘T is the wind and nothing more!”

Open here I flung the shutter, when, with many a flirt and flutter,
In there stepped a stately Raven of the saintly days of yore.
Not the least obeisance made he; not a minute stopped or stayed he;
But, with mien of lord or lady, perched above my chamber door–
Perched upon a bust of Pallas just above my chamber door–
                                          Perched, and sat, and nothing more.

Then this ebony bird beguiling my sad fancy into smiling,
By the grave and stern decorum of the countenance it wore,
“Though thy crest be shorn and shaven, thou,” I said, “art sure no craven,
Ghastly grim and ancient Raven wandering from the Nightly shore,–
Tell me what thy lordly name is on the Night’s Plutonian shore!”
                                          Quoth the Raven, “Nevermore.”

Much I marvelled this ungainly fowl to hear discourse so plainly,
Though its answer little meaning–little relevancy bore;
For we cannot help agreeing that no living human being
Ever yet was blessed with seeing bird above his chamber door–
Bird or beast upon the sculptured bust above his chamber door,
                                          With such name as “Nevermore.”

But the Raven, sitting lonely on the placid bust, spoke only
That one word, as if his soul in that one word he did outpour.
Nothing further then he uttered–not a feather then he fluttered–
Till I scarcely more than muttered, “Other friends have flown before–
On the morrow _he_ will leave me, as my hopes have flown before.”
                                          Then the bird said, “Nevermore.”

Startled at the stillness broken by reply so aptly spoken,
“Doubtless,” said I, “what it utters is its only stock and store,
Caught from some unhappy master whom unmerciful Disaster
Followed fast and followed faster till his songs one burden bore–
Till the dirges of his Hope that melancholy burden bore
                                          Of ‘Never–nevermore.’”

But the Raven still beguiling all my sad soul into smiling,
Straight I wheeled a cushioned seat in front of bird and bust and door;
Then, upon the velvet sinking, I betook myself to linking
Fancy unto fancy, thinking what this ominous bird of yore–
What this grim, ungainly, ghastly, gaunt and ominous bird of yore
                                          Meant in croaking “Nevermore.”

This I sat engaged in guessing, but no syllable expressing
To the fowl whose fiery eyes now burned into my bosom’s core;
This and more I sat divining, with my head at ease reclining
On the cushion’s velvet lining that the lamplight gloated o’er,
But whose velvet violet lining with the lamplight gloating o’er
                                          _She_ shall press, ah, nevermore!

Then, methought, the air grew denser, perfumed from an unseen censer
Swung by seraphim whose foot-falls tinkled on the tufted floor.
“Wretch,” I cried, “thy God hath lent thee–by these angels he hath sent thee
Respite–respite and nepenthe from thy memories of Lenore!
Quaff, oh quaff this kind nepenthe, and forget this lost Lenore!”
                                          Quoth the Raven, “Nevermore.”

“Prophet!” said I, “thing of evil!–prophet still, if bird or devil!–
Whether Tempter sent, or whether tempest tossed thee here ashore,
Desolate yet all undaunted, on this desert land enchanted–
On this home by Horror haunted–tell me truly, I implore–
Is there–_is_ there balm in Gilead?–tell me–tell me, I implore!”
                                          Quoth the Raven, “Nevermore.”

“Prophet!” said I, “thing of evil–prophet still, if bird or devil!
By that Heaven that bends above, us–by that God we both adore–
Tell this soul with sorrow laden if, within the distant Aidenn,
It shall clasp a sainted maiden whom the angels name Lenore–
Clasp a rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore.”
                                          Quoth the Raven, “Nevermore.”

“Be that word our sign of parting, bird or fiend!” I shrieked, upstarting–
“Get thee back into the tempest and the Night’s Plutonian shore!
Leave no black plume as a token of that lie thy soul hath spoken!
Leave my loneliness unbroken!–quit the bust above my door!
Take thy beak from out my heart, and take thy form from off my door!”
                                          Quoth the Raven, “Nevermore.”

And the Raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting
On the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door;
And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon’s that is dreaming,
And the lamplight o’er him streaming throws his shadow on the floor;
And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor
                                          Shall be lifted–nevermore!

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

Sonnet on Chillon

by Lord Byron

    Eternal Spirit of the chainless Mind!
      Brightest in dungeons, Liberty! thou art:
      For there thy habitation is the heart–
    The heart which love of thee alone can bind;
    And when thy sons to fetters are consigned–
      To fetters, and the damp vault’s dayless gloom,
      Their country conquers with their martyrdom,
    And Freedom’s fame finds wings on every wind.
    Chillon! thy prison is a holy place,
      And thy sad floor an altar–for ’twas trod,
    Until his very steps have left a trace
      Worn, as if thy cold pavement were a sod,
    By Bonnivard!–May none those marks efface!
      For they appeal from tyranny to God.

The Secret

by Emily Dickinson

Some things that fly there be, –
Birds, hours, the bumble-bee:
Of these no elegy.

Some things that stay there be, –
Grief, hills, eternity:
Nor this behooveth me.

There are, that resting, rise.
Can I expound the skies?
How still the riddle lies!

Count Lepic and His Daughters

by Edgar Degas

Edgar Degas

To Helen

by Edgar Allan Poe
  I saw thee once–once only–years ago:
  I must not say how many–but not many.
  It was a July midnight; and from out
  A full-orbed moon, that, like thine own soul, soaring,
  Sought a precipitate pathway up through heaven,
  There fell a silvery-silken veil of light,
  With quietude, and sultriness and slumber,
  Upon the upturn’d faces of a thousand
  Roses that grew in an enchanted garden,
  Where no wind dared to stir, unless on tiptoe–
  Fell on the upturn’d faces of these roses
  That gave out, in return for the love-light,
  Their odorous souls in an ecstatic death–
  Fell on the upturn’d faces of these roses
  That smiled and died in this parterre, enchanted
  By thee, and by the poetry of thy presence.

  Clad all in white, upon a violet bank
  I saw thee half-reclining; while the moon
  Fell on the upturn’d faces of the roses,
  And on thine own, upturn’d–alas, in sorrow!

  Was it not Fate, that, on this July midnight–
  Was it not Fate (whose name is also Sorrow),
  That bade me pause before that garden-gate,
  To breathe the incense of those slumbering roses?
  No footstep stirred: the hated world all slept,
  Save only thee and me–(O Heaven!–O God!
  How my heart beats in coupling those two words!)–
  Save only thee and me. I paused–I looked–
  And in an instant all things disappeared.
  (Ah, bear in mind this garden was enchanted!)
  The pearly lustre of the moon went out:
  The mossy banks and the meandering paths,
  The happy flowers and the repining trees,
  Were seen no more: the very roses’ odors
  Died in the arms of the adoring airs.
  All–all expired save thee–save less than thou:
  Save only the divine light in thine eyes–
  Save but the soul in thine uplifted eyes.
  I saw but them–they were the world to me.
  I saw but them–saw only them for hours–
  Saw only them until the moon went down.
  What wild heart-histories seemed to lie unwritten
  Upon those crystalline, celestial spheres!
  How dark a woe! yet how sublime a hope!
  How silently serene a sea of pride!
  How daring an ambition! yet how deep–
  How fathomless a capacity for love!

  But now, at length, dear Dian sank from sight,
  Into a western couch of thunder-cloud;
  And thou, a ghost, amid the entombing trees
  Didst glide away. Only thine eyes remained.
  They would not go–they never yet have gone.
  Lighting my lonely pathway home that night,
  They have not left me (as my hopes have) since.
  They follow me–they lead me through the years.

  They are my ministers–yet I their slave.
  Their office is to illumine and enkindle–
  My duty, to be saved by their bright light,
  And purified in their electric fire,
  And sanctified in their elysian fire.
  They fill my soul with Beauty (which is Hope),
  And are far up in Heaven–the stars I kneel to
  In the sad, silent watches of my night;
  While even in the meridian glare of day
  I see them still–two sweetly scintillant
  Venuses, unextinguished by the sun!

The Lost Dr. Seuss Poem – I Love My Job!

I Love My Job!

I received this poem one day in my email.  I found copies of it as far back as the year 2000, but was unable to identify it’s origin.

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