How Agleam, How Garnished the Spring

We present this work in honor of the poet’s 150th birthday.

Ivan Bunin
Russian
1870 – 1953

 

How agleam, how garnished the spring!
Turn your eyes in the old way upon me:
Say, wherefore this sorrowing?
Why lavish this tenderness on me?

You are mute, as a blossom so frail,
Say naught! — No confession is needed:
The flight of your love I have heeded, —
Lone again is my trail!

Limitations of Benevolence

We present this work in honor of the 110th anniversary of the poet’s death.

Julia Ward Howe
American
1819 – 1910

 

‘The beggar boy is none of mine,’
The reverend doctor strangely said;
‘I do not walk the streets to pour
Chance benedictions on his head.

‘And heaven I thank who made me so.
That toying with my own dear child,
I think not on his shivering limbs,
His manners vagabond and wild.’

Good friend, unsay that graceless word!
I am a mother crowned with joy,
And yet I feel a bosom pang
To pass the little starveling boy.

His aching flesh, his fevered eyes
His piteous stomach, craving meat;
His features, nipt of tenderness,
And most, his little frozen feet.

Oft, by my fireside’s ruddy glow,
I think, how in some noisome den,
Bred up with curses and with blows,
He lives unblest of gods or men.

I cannot snatch him from his fate,
The tribute of my doubting mind
Drops, torch-like, in the abyss of ill,
That skirts the ways of humankind.

But, as my heart’s desire would leap
To help him, recognized of none,
I thank the God who left him this,
For many a precious right foregone.

My mother, whom I scarcely knew,
Bequeathed this bond of love to me;
The heart parental thrills for all
The children of humanity.

Friends Are Knocking at the Door

Tahirih
Persian
1814 – 1852

 

Gatekeeper! Friends are knocking at the door.
Open the door! Why not open the door?

What is so wrong with letting them come in?
Why must they wait in the dark corridor?

How long do you think they can be patient?
How long should they stay there and pace the floor?

At least, why don’t you raise the window curtain?
Just peak out for once to show your face.

They want nothing from you, except yourself.
The only thing they beg for is your grace.

Outside they got drunk on love — then sober.
They didn’t care. They’re longing for your place.

They dropped their veils, forgot their desires,
gave up this search, and stripped to nudity.

Burn off the clouds now and show us the sun.
Pull off the veil. Let us see your beauty:

So then the wise would be struck dumb,
And the fools will find their wisdom:

The selfish know their true Self then,
the saints will all get drunk with them:

No servant and no Lord will be,
master and slave as one will be.

Beauty’s a Flower

Moira O’Neill
Irish
1864 – 1955

 

Youth’s for an hour,
Beauty’s a flower,
But love is the jewel that wins the world.

Youth’s for an hour, an’ the taste o’ life is sweet,
Ailes was a girl that stepped on two bare feet;
In all my days I never seen the one as fair as she,
I’d have lost my life for Ailes, an’ she never cared for me.

Beauty’s a flower, an’ the days o’ life are long,
There’s little knowin’ who may live to sing another song;
For Ailes was the fairest, but another is my wife,
An’ Mary—God be good to her!—is all I love in life.

Youth’s for an hour,
Beauty’s a flower,
But love is the jewel that wins the world.

The Child of Promise

Evan MacColl
Canadian
1808 – 1898

 

She died — as die the roses
On the ruddy clouds of dawn,
When the envious sun discloses
His flame and morning’s gone.
She died—like waves of sun-glow
By fleeting shadows chased;
She died— like heaven’s rainbow
By gushing showers effaced.
She died—like snow glad-gracing
Some sea-marge fair, when lo!
Rude waves each other chasing,
Quick hide it ‘neath their flow.
She died— as dies the glory
Of music’s sweetest swell:

She died—as dies the story
When the best is still to tell
She died— as dies moon-beaming.
When scowls the rayless main:
She died— like sweetest dreaming
Quick changed to waking pain.
She died— and died she early;
Heaven wearied for its own.
As the dipping sun, my Mary,
Thy morning ray went down!

Helplessness

We present this work in honor of the 75th anniversary of the poet’s death.

Zinaïda Gippius
Russian
1869 – 1945

 

I look at a sea – the greedy one and fervent,
Chained to the earth, on the depleted shore…
Stand by a gulf – over the endless heavens,
And could not fly to azure, as before.

I didn’t decide to join or slaves, or rebels,
Have no a courage nor to live, nor – die…
I feel my God – but cannot say my prayers,
I want my love – but can’t find love of mine.

I send to sun my worship and my groan,
I see a sheet of clouds, pale and cold…
What is a truth? It seems to me, I know, –
But for the truth I have not the right world.

To Genius

We present this work in honor of the poet’s 225th birthday.

Frances Wright
Scots
1795 – 1852

 

Yes! it is quench’d — the spark of heavenly fire,
That Genius kindled in my infant mind:
Fled is my fancy: damp’d the fond desire
Of fame immortal; — all my dreams resign’d.
All, all are gone: yet turn I ne’er behind
Like pilgrim wending from his native land?
Shall I in other path such beauties find,
As spring beneath imagination’s hand,
As bloom on wild enthusiasm’s visionary strand?

Celestial Genius! dangerous gift of Heaven!
How many a heart and mind hast thou o’erthrown!
Broken the first, the last to frenzy driven,
Or jarr’d of both for aye the even tone!
Once, once I thought such fate would be my own,
And only look’d to find an early grave;
To die, as I had liv’d — my powers unknown;
Content, so reason might her empire save,
Unseen to sink beneath oblivion’s rayless wave.

But oh! with all thy pains, thou hast a charm
That nought may match within this vale below;
E’en for the pangs thou giv’st, thou hast a balm,
And renderest sweet the bitterness of wo.
Thy breath ethereal — thy kindling glow—
Thy visions bright — thy raptures, wild and high;
He that hath felt — Oh! would he e’er forego?
No! — in thy glistening tear thy bursting sigh,
Though fraught with wo, there is a thrill of ecstasy!

And art thou flown, thou high celestial power?
For ever flown? — Ah! turn thee yet again!
Ah! yet be with me in the lonely hour,
Yet stoop to guide my wilder’d fancy’s rein!
Turn thee once more, and wake thy ancient strain;
No joys that earth can yield I love like thine:
Nay, more than earth’s best joys I love thy pain.
And could I say, I would thy smile resign?
No, while this bosom beats, oh still great gift be mine!

After All

Henry Lawson
Australian
1867 – 1922

 

The brooding ghosts of Australian night have gone from the bush and town;
My spirit revives in the morning breeze,
though it died when the sun went down;
The river is high and the stream is strong,
and the grass is green and tall,
And I fain would think that this world of ours is a good world after all.

The light of passion in dreamy eyes, and a page of truth well read,
The glorious thrill in a heart grown cold of the spirit I thought was dead,
A song that goes to a comrade’s heart, and a tear of pride let fall —
And my soul is strong! and the world to me is a grand world after all!

Let our enemies go by their old dull tracks,
and theirs be the fault or shame
(The man is bitter against the world who has only himself to blame);
Let the darkest side of the past be dark, and only the good recall;
For I must believe that the world, my dear, is a kind world after all.

It well may be that I saw too plain, and it may be I was blind;
But I’ll keep my face to the dawning light,
though the devil may stand behind!
Though the devil may stand behind my back, I’ll not see his shadow fall,
But read the signs in the morning stars of a good world after all.

Rest, for your eyes are weary, girl — you have driven the worst away —
The ghost of the man that I might have been is gone from my heart to-day;
We’ll live for life and the best it brings till our twilight shadows fall;
My heart grows brave, and the world, my girl, is a good world after all.

The Shadow of the Orange-Leaves

We present this work in honor of the poet’s 175th birthday.

Judith Gautier
French
1845 – 1917

 

The young girl who works
all day in her solitary chamber
is moved to tenderness if she
hears of a sudden the sound of
a jade flute.
And she imagines that she
hears the voice of a young boy.

Through the paper of the
windows the shadow of the
orange-leaves enters and sits
on her knees;

And she imagines that some-
body has torn her silken dress.

Richard Cory

Edward Arlington Robinson
American
1869 – 1935

 

Whenever Richard Cory went down town,
We people on the pavement looked at him:
He was a gentleman from sole to crown,
Clean favored, and imperially slim.

And he was always quietly arrayed,
And he was always human when he talked;
But still he fluttered pulses when he said,
‘Good-morning,’ and he glittered when he walked.

And he was rich – yes, richer than a king –
And admirably schooled in every grace:
In fine, we thought that he was everything
To make us wish that we were in his place.

So on we worked, and waited for the light,
And went without the meat, and cursed the bread;
And Richard Cory, one calm summer night,
Went home and put a bullet through his head.