Category Archives: Poetry

Sonnet of the Moon

Look how the pale Queen of the silent night
doth cause the ocean to attend upon her,
and he, as long as she is in sight,
with his full tide is ready here to honor;

But when the silver waggon of the Moon
is mounted up so high he cannot follow,
the sea calls home his crystal waves to morn,
and with low ebb doth manifest his sorrow.

So you that are sovereign of my heart
have all my joys attending on your will,
when you return, their tide my heart doth fill.
So as you come and as you depart,
joys ebb and flow within my tender heart.

Charles Best 1608

(For the image at the top, click here.)

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Ah! Sunflower

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Eclipse of a Sun-flower, by Paul Nash

Ah Sun-flower! weary of time,
Who countest the steps of the Sun:
Seeking after that sweet golden clime
Where the travellers journey is done.

Where the Youth pined away with desire,
And the pale Virgin shrouded in snow:
Arise from their graves and aspire,
Where my Sun-flower wishes to go.

Songs_of_Innocence_and_of_Experience,_copy_AA,_1826_(The_Fitzwilliam_Museum)_object_43_My_Pretty_Rose_Tree

Copy AA of Blake’s engraving of the poem in “Songs of Experience”. This copy is currently held by the Fitzwilliam Museum

Follow thy fair sun

Follow thy fair sun, unhappy shadow;
Though thou be black as night,
And she made all of light,
Yet follow thy fair sun, unhappy shadow.

Follow her, whose light thy light depriveth;
Though here thou liv’st disgrac’d,
And she in heaven is plac’d,
Yet follow her whose light the world reviveth.

Follow those pure beams, whose beauty burneth;
That so have scorched thee,
As thou still black must be,
Till her kind beams thy black to brightness turneth.

Follow her, while yet her glory shineth;
There comes a luckless night
That will dim all her light;
And this the black unhappy shade divineth.

Follow still, since so thy fates ordained;
The sun must have his shade,
Till both at once do fade,
The sun still proud, the shadow still disdained.

Thomas Campion

PS – The image is of curls of light in the shade of a tree during the solar eclipse,  by Thomas Baer, from Wikimedia.

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Star Chamber

Once, the Doctor spoke to me at length
of stars and prognostications, how,
when we observe the waxing of the Moon,
everything cognate to her nature–marrow
in bones and in trees, flesh of the river
mussel–increases also. He told of tides
and how the ocean is affixed as with a chain
to moonlight. I think it must be different
in the Cave, where no light penetrates.
There, I have lost hours, whole cycles of the Sun.
At Star Chamber, I control the spheres–
a lantern hung just-so will produce the night sky
as if seen from a gorge; wobble it, and a comet,
smoky, pestilent, streaks across the Ether.

Davis McCombs

(For the image above, click here.)

Stars – Robert Frost

How countlessly they congregate
O’er our tumultuous snow,
Which flows in shapes as tall as trees
When wintry winds do blow!–

As if with keenness for our fate,
Our faltering few steps on
To white rest, and a place of rest
Invisible at dawn,–

And yet with neither love nor hate,
Those stars like some snow-white
Minerva’s snow-white marble eyes
Without the gift of sight.

-Robert Frost

(For the image at the top, click here.)

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When the Shy Star

When the shy star goes forth in heaven
All maidenly, disconsolate,
Hear you amid the drowsy even
One who is singing by your gate.
His song is softer than the dew
And he is come to visit you.

O bend no more in revery
When he at eventide is calling.
Nor muse: Who may this singer be
Whose song about my heart is falling?
Know you by this, the lover’s chant,
‘Tis I that am your visitant.

James Joyce

(For the image above, click here.)

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My Star

All, that I know
Of a certain star
Is, it can throw
(Like the angled spar)
Now a dart of red,
Now a dart of blue
Till my friends have said
They would fain see, too,
My star that dartles the red and the blue!
Then it stops like a bird; like a flower, hangs furled:
They must solace themselves with the Saturn above it.
What matter to me if their star is a world?
Mine has opened its soul to me; therefore I love it.

Robert Browning

(For the image at the top, click here.)

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Sonnet 25 – Shakespeare

Let those who are in favour with their stars
Of public honour and proud titles boast,
Whilst I, whom fortune of such triumph bars,
Unlooked for joy in that I honour most.
Great princes’ favourites their fair leaves spread,
But as the marigold at the sun’s eye,
And in themselves their pride lies burièd,
For at a frown they in their glory die.
The painful warrior famousèd for fight,
After a thousand victories once foiled,
Is from the book of honour razèd quite,
And all the rest forgot for which he toiled.
Then happy I that love and am beloved
Where I may not remove nor be removed.

(For the marigold image, click here.)

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The Sun Rising

Busy old fool, unruly Sun,
Why dost thou thus,
Through windows, and through curtains, call on us?
Must to thy motions lovers’ seasons run?
Saucy pedantic wretch, go chide
Late school-boys and sour prentices,
Go tell court-huntsmen that the king will ride,
Call country ants to harvest offices;
Love, all alike, no season knows nor clime,
Nor hours, days, months, which are the rags of time.

Thy beams so reverend, and strong
Why shouldst thou think?
I could eclipse and cloud them with a wink,
But that I would not lose her sight so long.
If her eyes have not blinded thine,
Look, and to-morrow late tell me,
Whether both th’ Indias of spice and mine
Be where thou left’st them, or lie here with me.
Ask for those kings whom thou saw’st yesterday,
And thou shalt hear, “All here in one bed lay.”

She’s all states, and all princes I;
Nothing else is;
Princes do but play us; compared to this,
All honour’s mimic, all wealth alchemy.
Thou, Sun, art half as happy as we,
In that the world’s contracted thus;
Thine age asks ease, and since thy duties be
To warm the world, that’s done in warming us.
Shine here to us, and thou art everywhere;
This bed thy center is, these walls thy sphere.

John Donne

(For the image at the top, click here.)

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Crossing the Bar

This poem is a bit different from most – I put it in because my mom and my best friend like it. So this is for them.

Sunset and evening star,
And one clear call for me!
And may there be no moaning of the bar,
When I put out to sea,

But such a tide as moving seems asleep,
Too full for sound and foam,
When that which drew from out the boundless deep
Turns again home.

Twilight and evening bell,
And after that the dark!
And may there be no sadness of farewell,
When I embark;

For tho’ from out our bourne of Time and Place
The flood may bear me far,
I hope to see my Pilot face to face
When I have crost the bar.

Alfred Lord Tennyson

(For the image at the top, click here.)

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