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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.

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!

Picasso

by Emily Dickinson

I taste a liquor never brewed,
From tankards scooped in pearl;
Not all the vats upon the Rhine
Yield such an alcohol!

Inebriate of air am I,
And debauchee of dew,
Reeling, through endless summer days,
From inns of molten blue.

When landlords turn the drunken bee
Out of the foxglove’s door,
When butterflies renounce their drams,
I shall but drink the more!

Till seraphs swing their snowy hats,
And saints to windows run,
To see the little tippler
Leaning against the sun!

El Dorado

by Edgar Allan Poe
    Gaily bedight,
    A gallant knight,
  In sunshine and in shadow,
    Had journeyed long,
    Singing a song,
  In search of Eldorado.
    But he grew old–
    This knight so bold–
  And o’er his heart a shadow
    Fell as he found
    No spot of ground
  That looked like Eldorado.

  And, as his strength
    Failed him at length,
  He met a pilgrim shadow–
    “Shadow,” said he,
    “Where can it be–
  This land of Eldorado?”

    “Over the Mountains
    Of the Moon,
  Down the Valley of the Shadow,
    Ride, boldly ride,”
    The shade replied,
  “If you seek for Eldorado!”

by Emily Dickinson

Whether my bark went down at sea,
Whether she met with gales,
Whether to isles enchanted
She bent her docile sails;

By what mystic mooring
She is held to-day, –
This is the errand of the eye
Out upon the bay.

A Dream within a Dream

by Edgar Allan Poe
  Take this kiss upon the brow!
  And, in parting from you now,
  Thus much let me avow–
  You are not wrong, who deem
  That my days have been a dream:
  Yet if hope has flown away
  In a night, or in a day,
  In a vision or in none,
  Is it therefore the less _gone_?
  _All_ that we see or seem
  Is but a dream within a dream.

  I stand amid the roar
  Of a surf-tormented shore,
  And I hold within my hand
  Grains of the golden sand–
  How few! yet how they creep
  Through my fingers to the deep
  While I weep–while I weep!
  O God! can I not grasp
  Them with a tighter clasp?
  O God! can I not save
  _One_ from the pitiless wave?
  Is _all_ that we see or seem
  But a dream within a dream?

Blossoming Chestnut Branches

by Vincent van Gogh

Vincent van Gogh

Count Lepic and His Daughters

by Edgar Degas

Edgar Degas

by Emily Dickinson

Much madness is divinest sense
To a discerning eye;
Much sense the starkest madness.
‘T is the majority
In this, as all, prevails.
Assent, and you are sane;
Demur, — you’re straightway dangerous,
And handled with a chain.

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