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ODE by Arthur O'Shaughnessy 



1   We are the music makers,
2   And we are the dreamers of dreams,
3   Wandering by lone sea-breakers,
4   And sitting by desolate streams; --
5   World-losers and world-forsakers,
6   On whom the pale moon gleams:
7   Yet we are the movers and shakers
8   Of the world for ever, it seems.

9    With wonderful deathless ditties
10   We build up the world's great cities,
11   And out of a fabulous story
12   We fashion an empire's glory:
13   One man with a dream, at pleasure,
14   Shall go forth and conquer a crown;
15   And three with a new song's measure
16   Can trample a kingdom down.

17   We, in the ages lying,
18   In the buried past of the earth,
19   Built Nineveh with our sighing,
20   And Babel itself in our mirth;
21   And o'erthrew them with prophesying
22   To the old of the new world's worth;
23   For each age is a dream that is dying,
24   Or one that is coming to birth.

25  A breath of our inspiration
26  Is the life of each generation;
27   A wondrous thing of our dreaming
28   Unearthly, impossible seeming --
29   The soldier, the king, and the peasant
30   Are working together in one,
31   Till our dream shall become their present,
32   And their work in the world be done.

33   They had no vision amazing
34   Of the goodly house they are raising;
35   They had no divine foreshowing
36   Of the land to which they are going:
37   But on one man's soul it hath broken,
38   A light that doth not depart;
39   And his look, or a word he hath spoken,
40   Wrought flame in another man's heart.

41   And therefore to-day is thrilling
42   With a past day's late fulfilling;
43   And the multitudes are enlisted
44   In the faith that their fathers resisted,
45   And, scorning the dream of to-morrow,
46   Are bringing to pass, as they may,
47   In the world, for its joy or its sorrow,
48   The dream that was scorned yesterday.

49   But we, with our dreaming and singing,
50   Ceaseless and sorrowless we!
51   The glory about us clinging
52   Of the glorious futures we see,
53   Our souls with high music ringing:
54   O men! it must ever be
55   That we dwell, in our dreaming and singing,
56   A little apart from ye.

57   For we are afar with the dawning
58   And the suns that are not yet high,
59   And out of the infinite morning
60   Intrepid you hear us cry --
61   How, spite of your human scorning,
62   Once more God's future draws nigh,
63   And already goes forth the warning
64   That ye of the past must die.

65   Great hail! we cry to the comers
66   From the dazzling unknown shore;
67   Bring us hither your sun and your summers;
68   And renew our world as of yore;
69   You shall teach us your song's new numbers,
70   And things that we dreamed not before:
71   Yea, in spite of a dreamer who slumbers,
72   And a singer who sings no more.

HALF MOON, SMALL CLOUD by John Updike 



Caught out in daylight, a rabbit’s
transparent pallor, the moon
is paired with a cloud of equal weight:

the heavenly congruence startles.

For what is the moon, that it haunts us,

this impudent companion immigrated
from the system’s less fortunate margins,
the realm of dust collected in orbs?

We grow up as children with it, a nursemaid

of a bonneted sort, round-faced and kind,

not burning too close like parents, or too far

to spare even a glance, like movie stars.

No star but in the zodiac of stars,

a stranger there, too big, it begs for love
(the man in it) and yet is diaphanous,
its thereness as mysterious as ours.



RESTRAINT 



"There are people in this world who go about demanding to be killed. You must have noticed them. They quarrel in gambling games. They jump out of their automobiles in a rage. They humiliate and bully people whose capabilities they do not know. These are people who wander through the world shouting, kill me. And there's always someone ready to oblige to them." ~Vito Corleone
, The Godfather

RENASCENCE by Edna St. Vincent Millay 



All I could see from where I stood
Was three long mountains and a wood;
I turned and looked another way,
And saw three islands in a bay.
So with my eyes I traced the line
Of the horizon, thin and fine,
Straight around till I was come
Back to where I'd started from;
And all I saw from where I stood
Was three long mountains and a wood.

Over these things I could not see;
These were the things that bounded me;
And I could touch them with my hand,
Almost, I thought, from where I stand.
And all at once things seemed so small
My breath came short, and scarce at all.

But, sure, the sky is big, I said;
Miles and miles above my head;
So here upon my back I'll lie
And look my fill into the sky.
And so I looked, and, after all,
The sky was not so very tall.
The sky, I said, must somewhere stop,
And -- sure enough! -- I see the top!
The sky, I thought, is not so grand;
I 'most could touch it with my hand!
And reaching up my hand to try,
I screamed to feel it touch the sky.

I screamed, and -- lo! -- Infinity
Came down and settled over me;
Forced back my scream into my chest,
Bent back my arm upon my breast,
And, pressing of the Undefined
The definition on my mind,
Held up before my eyes a glass
Through which my shrinking sight did pass
Until it seemed I must behold
Immensity made manifold;
Whispered to me a word whose sound
Deafened the air for worlds around,
And brought unmuffled to my ears
The gossiping of friendly spheres,
The creaking of the tented sky,
The ticking of Eternity.

I saw and heard, and knew at last
The How and Why of all things, past,
And present, and forevermore.
The Universe, cleft to the core,
Lay open to my probing sense
That, sick'ning, I would fain pluck thence
But could not, -- nay! But needs must suck
At the great wound, and could not pluck
My lips away till I had drawn
All venom out. -- Ah, fearful pawn!
For my omniscience paid I toll
In infinite remorse of soul.

All sin was of my sinning, all
Atoning mine, and mine the gall
Of all regret. Mine was the weight
Of every brooded wrong, the hate
That stood behind each envious thrust,
Mine every greed, mine every lust.

And all the while for every grief,
Each suffering, I craved relief
With individual desire, --
Craved all in vain! And felt fierce fire
About a thousand people crawl;
Perished with each, -- then mourned for all!

A man was starving in Capri;
He moved his eyes and looked at me;
I felt his gaze, I heard his moan,
And knew his hunger as my own.
I saw at sea a great fog bank
Between two ships that struck and sank;
A thousand screams the heavens smote;
And every scream tore through my throat.

No hurt I did not feel, no death
That was not mine; mine each last breath
That, crying, met an answering cry
From the compassion that was I.
All suffering mine, and mine its rod;
Mine, pity like the pity of God.

Ah, awful weight! Infinity
Pressed down upon the finite Me!
My anguished spirit, like a bird,
Beating against my lips I heard;
Yet lay the weight so close about
There was no room for it without.
And so beneath the weight lay I
And suffered death, but could not die.

Long had I lain thus, craving death,
When quietly the earth beneath
Gave way, and inch by inch, so great
At last had grown the crushing weight,
Into the earth I sank till I
Full six feet under ground did lie,
And sank no more, -- there is no weight
Can follow here, however great.
From off my breast I felt it roll,
And as it went my tortured soul
Burst forth and fled in such a gust
That all about me swirled the dust.

Deep in the earth I rested now;
Cool is its hand upon the brow
And soft its breast beneath the head
Of one who is so gladly dead.
And all at once, and over all
The pitying rain began to fall;
I lay and heard each pattering hoof
Upon my lowly, thatched roof,
And seemed to love the sound far more
Than ever I had done before.
For rain it hath a friendly sound
To one who's six feet underground;
And scarce the friendly voice or face:
A grave is such a quiet place.

The rain, I said, is kind to come
And speak to me in my new home.
I would I were alive again
To kiss the fingers of the rain,
To drink into my eyes the shine
Of every slanting silver line,
To catch the freshened, fragrant breeze
From drenched and dripping apple-trees.
For soon the shower will be done,
And then the broad face of the sun
Will laugh above the rain-soaked earth
Until the world with answering mirth
Shakes joyously, and each round drop
Rolls, twinkling, from its grass-blade top.

How can I bear it; buried here,
While overhead the sky grows clear
And blue again after the storm?
O, multi-colored, multiform,
Beloved beauty over me,
That I shall never, never see
Again! Spring-silver, autumn-gold,
That I shall never more behold!
Sleeping your myriad magics through,
Close-sepulchred away from you!
O God, I cried, give me new birth,
And put me back upon the earth!
Upset each cloud's gigantic gourd
And let the heavy rain, down-poured
In one big torrent, set me free,
Washing my grave away from me!

I ceased; and through the breathless hush
That answered me, the far-off rush
Of herald wings came whispering
Like music down the vibrant string
Of my ascending prayer, and -- crash!
Before the wild wind's whistling lash
The startled storm-clouds reared on high
And plunged in terror down the sky,
And the big rain in one black wave
Fell from the sky and struck my grave.

I know not how such things can be;
I only know there came to me
A fragrance such as never clings
To aught save happy living things;
A sound as of some joyous elf
Singing sweet songs to please himself,
And, through and over everything,
A sense of glad awakening.
The grass, a-tiptoe at my ear,
Whispering to me I could hear;
I felt the rain's cool finger-tips
Brushed tenderly across my lips,
Laid gently on my sealed sight,
And all at once the heavy night
Fell from my eyes and I could see, --
A drenched and dripping apple-tree,
A last long line of silver rain,
A sky grown clear and blue again.
And as I looked a quickening gust
Of wind blew up to me and thrust
Into my face a miracle
Of orchard-breath, and with the smell, --
I know not how such things can be! --
I breathed my soul back into me.

Ah! Up then from the ground sprang I
And hailed the earth with such a cry
As is not heard save from a man
Who has been dead, and lives again.
About the trees my arms I wound;

Like one gone mad I hugged the ground;
I raised my quivering arms on high;
I laughed and laughed into the sky,
Till at my throat a strangling sob
Caught fiercely, and a great heart-throb
Sent instant tears into my eyes;
O God, I cried, no dark disguise
Can e'er hereafter hide from me
Thy radiant identity!

Thou canst not move across the grass
But my quick eyes will see Thee pass,
Nor speak, however silently,
But my hushed voice will answer Thee.
I know the path that tells Thy way
Through the cool eve of every day;
God, I can push the grass apart
And lay my finger on Thy heart!

The world stands out on either side
No wider than the heart is wide;
Above the world is stretched the sky, --
No higher than the soul is high.
The heart can push the sea and land
Farther away on either hand;
The soul can split the sky in two,
And let the face of God shine through.
But East and West will pinch the heart
That can not keep them pushed apart;
And he whose soul is flat -- the sky
Will cave in on him by and by.

CAREFUL WHAT WE DREAM 



"Optimism, I've always thought, is the best strategy. Who but the most cynical of us would want to be right about the end of the world? No, I think we make the world every day. Collectively, individually, by intention or accident, we dream our world into being. We just have to be careful what we dream."
~Sting
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