In this brief transit where the dreams cross The dreamcrossed twilight between birth and dying (Bless me father) though I do not wish to wish these things From the wide window towards the granite shore The white sails still fly seaward, seaward flying Unbroken wings And the lost heart stiffens and rejoices In the lost lilac and the lost sea voices And the weak spirit quickens to rebel For the bent golden-rod and the lost sea smell Quickens to recover The cry of quail and the whirling plover And the blind eye creates The empty forms between the ivory gates And smell renews the salt savour of the sandy earth This is the time of tension between dying and birth The place of solitude where three dreams cross Between blue rocks But when the voices shaken from the yew-tree drift away Let the other yew be shaken and reply.
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When the Stranger says: 'What is the meaning of this city ? Do you huddle close together because you love each other?' What will you answer? 'We all dwell together To make money from each other'? or 'This is a community'? Oh my soul, be prepared for the coming of the Stranger. Be prepared for him who knows how to ask questions.
Who is the third who walks always beside you? When I count, there are only you and I together But when I look ahead up the white road There is always another one walking beside you Gliding wrapt in a brown mantle, hooded I do not know whether a man or a woman -But who is that on the other side of you?
You do not know how much they mean to me, my friends, And how, how rare and strange it is, to find In a life composed so much, so much of odds and ends, (For indeed I do not love it... you knew? you are not blind! How keen you are!) To find a friend who has these qualities, Who has, and gives Those qualities upon which friendship lives. How much it means that I say this to you- Without these friendships-life, what cauchemar!
You gave me hyacinths first a year ago; They called me the hyacinth girl.' -Yet when we came back, late, from the Hyacinth garden, Your arms full, and your hair wet, I could not Speak, and my eyes failed, I was neither Living nor dead, and I knew nothing, Looking into the heart of light, the silence. Od' und leer das Meer.
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The Pekes and the Pollicles, everyone knows, Are proud and implacable, passionate foes; It is always the same, wherever one goes. And the Pugs and the Poms, although most people say that they do not like fighting, will often display Every symptom of wanting to join in the fray. And they Bark bark bark bark bark bark Until you can hear them all over the park.
April is the cruelest month, breeding Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing Memory and desire, stirring Dull roots with spring rain. Winter kept us warm, covering Earth in forgetful snow, feeding A little life with dried tubers. Summer surprised us, coming over the Starnbergersee With a shower of rain; we stopped in the colonnade, And went on in sunlight, into the Hofgarten, And drank coffee, and talked for an hour. Bin gar keine Russin, stamm' aus Litauen, echt deutsch. And when we were children, staying at the arch-duke's, My cousin's, he took me out on a sled, And I was frightened. He said, Marie, Marie, hold on tight. And down we went. In the mountains, there you feel free. I read, much of the night, and go south in the winter.
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Poetry, if it is not to be a lifeless repetition of forms, must be constantly exploring "the frontiers of the spirit." But these frontiers are not like the surveys of geographical explorers, conquered once for all and settled. The frontiers of the spirit are more like the jungle which, unless continuously kept under control, is always ready to encroach and eventually obliterate the cultivated area.
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Oh my soul, be prepared for the coming of the Stranger. Be prepared for him who knows how to ask questions. There is one who remembers the way to your door: Life you may evade, but Death you shall not. You shall not deny the Stranger. They constantly try to escape From the darkness outside and within By dreaming of systems so perfect that no one will need to be good. But the man that is shall shadow The man that pretends to be.
I am alive to a usual objection to what is clearly part of my programme for the metier of poetry. The objection is that the doctrine requires a ridiculous amount of erudition (pedantry), a claim which can be rejected by appeal to the lives of poets in any pantheon. It will even be affirmed that much learning deadens or perverts poetic sensibility. While, however, we persist in believing that a poet ought to know as much as will not encroach upon his necessary receptivity and necessary laziness, it is not desirable to confine knowledge to whatever can be put into a useful shape for examinations, drawing rooms, or the still more pretentious modes of publicity. Some can absorb knowledge, the more tardy must sweat for it. Shakespeare acquired more essential history from Plutarch than most men could from the whole British Museum. What is to be insisted upon is that the poet must develop this consciousness throughout his career. What happens is a continual surrender of himself as he is at the moment to something which is more valuable. The progress of an artist is a continual self-sacrifice, a continual extinction of personality.
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Before a Cat will condescend To treat you as a trusted friend, Some little token of esteem Is needed, like a dish of cream; And you might now and then supply Some caviare, or Strassburg Pie, Some potted grouse, or salmon paste - He's sure to have his personal taste. (I know a Cat, who makes a habit Of eating nothing else but rabbit, And when he's finished, licks his paws So's not to waste the onion sauce.) A Cat's entitled to expect These evidences of respect. And so in time you reach your aim, And finally call him by his name.
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With Cats, some say, one rule is true: Don't speak till you are spoken to. Myself, I do not hold with that - I say, you should ad-dress a Cat. But always keep in mind that he Resents familiarity. I bow, and taking off my hat, Ad-dress him in this form: O Cat! But if he is the Cat next door, Whom I have often met before (He comes to see me in my flat) I greet him with an oopsa Cat! I think I've heard them call him James - But we've not got so far as names.
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Old Deuteronomy's lived a long time; He's a Cat who has lived many lives in succession. He was famous in proverb and famous in rhyme A long while before Queen Victoria's accession. Old Deuteronomy's buried nine wives And more - I am tempted to say, ninety-nine; And his numerous progeny prospers and thrives And the village is proud of him in his decline. At the sight of that placid and bland physiognomy, When he sits in the sun on the vicarage wall, The Oldest Inhabitant croaks: "Well, of all ... Things ... Can it be ... really! ... No! ... Yes! ... Ho! hi! Oh, my eye! My mind may be wandering, but I confess I believe it is Old Deuteronomy!" Old Deuteronomy sits in the street, He sits in the High Street on market day; The bullocks may bellow, the sheep they may bleat, But the dogs and the herdsman will turn them away. The cars and the lorries run over the kerb, And the villagers put up a notice: ROAD CLOSED - So that nothing untoward may chance to disturb Deuteronomy's rest when he feels so disposed Or when he's engaged in domestic economy: And the Oldest Inhabitant croaks: "Well of all ... Things ... Can it be ... really! ... No! ... Yes! ... Ho! hi! Oh, my eye! My sight's unreliable, but I can guess That the cause of the trouble is Old Deuteronomy!
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Gus is the Cat at the Theatre Door. His name, as I ought to have told you before, Is really Asparagus. That's such a fuss To pronounce, that we usually call him just Gus. His coat's very shabby, he's thin as a rake, And he suffers from palsy that makes his paw shake. Yet he was, in his youth, quite the smartest of Cats - But no longer a terror to mice or to rats. For he isn't the Cat that he was in his prime; Though his name was quite famous, he says, in his time. And whenever he joins his friends at their club (which takes place at the back of the neighbouring pub) He loves to regale them, if someone else pays, With anecdotes drawn from his palmiest days. For he once was a Star of the highest degree - He has acted with Irving, he's acted with Tree. And he likes to relate his success on the Halls, Where the Gallery once gave him seven cat-calls. But his grandest creation, as he loves to tell, Was Firefrorefiddle, the Fiend of the Fell.
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He's outwardly respectable. (They say he cheats at cards.) And his footprints are not found in any file of Scotland Yard's. And when the larder's looted, or the jewel-case is rifled, Or when the milk is missing, or another Peke's been stifled, Or the greenhouse glass is broken, and the trellis past repair - Ay, there's the wonder of the thing! Macavity's not there! And when the Foreign Office find a Treaty's gone astray, Or the Admiralty lose some plans and drawings by the way, There may be a scrap of paper in the hall or on the stair - But it's useless to investigate - Mcavity's not there! And when the loss has been disclosed, the Secret Service say: 'It must have been Macavity!' - but he's a mile away. You'll be sure to find him resting, or a-licking of his thumbs, Or engaged in doing complicated long-division sums. Macavity, Macavity, there's no one like Macavity, There never was a Cat of such deceitfulness and suavity. He always has an alibi, and one or two to spaer: At whatever time the deed took place - MACAVITY WASN'T THERE! And they say that all the Cats whose wicked deeds are widely known (I might mention Mungojerrie, I might mention Griddlebone) Are nothing more than agents for the Cat who all the time Just controls their operations: the Napoleon of Crime!
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Mungojerrie and Rumpleteazer were a very notorious couple of cats. As knockabout clowns, quick-change comedians, Tight-rope walkers and acrobats They had an extensive reputation. [... ] When the family assembled for Sunday dinner, With their minds made up that they wouldn't get thinner On Argentine joint, potatoes and greens, And the cook would appear from behind the scenes And say in a voice that was broken with sorrow "I'm afraid you must wait and have dinner tomorrow! For the joint has gone from the oven like that!" Then the family would say: "It's that horrible cat! It was Mungojerrie - or Rumpleteazer!" - And most of the time they left it at that. Mungojerrie and Rumpleteazer had a wonderful way of working together. And some of the time you would say it was luck And some of the time you would say it was weather. They would go through the house like a hurricane, And no sober person could take his oath Was it Mungojerrie - or Rumpleteazer? Or could you have sworn that it mightn't be both? And when you heard a dining room smash Or up from the pantry there came a loud crash Or down from the library came a loud ping From a vase which was commonly said to be Ming Then the family would say: "Now which was which cat? It was Mungojerrie! And Rumpleteazer!" And there's nothing at all to be done about that!
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The Rum Tum Tugger is a Curious Cat: If you offer him pheasant he would rather have grouse. If you put him in a house he would much prefer a flat, If you put him in a flat then he'd rather have a house. If you set him on a mouse then he only wants a rat, If you set him on a rat then he'd rather chase a mouse. Yes the Rum Tum Tugger is a Curious Cat - And there isn't any call for me to shout it: For he will do As he do do And there's no doing anything about it!
He is quiet and small, he is black From his ears to the tip of his tail; He can creep through the tiniest crack He can walk on the narrowest rail. He can pick any card from a pack, He is equally cunning with dice; He is always deceiving you into believing That he's only hunting for mice. He can play any trick with a cork Or a spoon and a bit of fish-paste; If you look for a knife or a fork And you think it is merely misplaced - You have seen it one moment, and then it is gawn! But you'll find it next week lying out on the lawn. And we all say: OH! Well I never! Was there ever A Cat so clever As Magical Mr. Mistoffelees!
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Bustopher Jones is not skin and bones - In fact, he's remarkably fat. He doesn't haunt pubs - he has eight or nine clubs, For he's the St. James's Street Cat! He's the Cat we all greet as he walks down the street In his coat of fastidious black: No commonplace mousers have such well-cut trousers Or such an impeccable back. In the whole of St. James's the smartest of names is The name of this Brummell of Cats; And we're all of us proud to be nodded or bowed to By Bustopher Jones in white spats!
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But above and beyond there's still one name left over, And that is the name that you never will guess; The name that no human research can discover- But the cat himself knows, and will never confess. When you notice a cat in profound meditation, The reason, I tell you, is always the same: His mind is engaged in a rapt contemplation Of the thought, of the thought, of the thought of his name: His ineffable effable Effanineffable Deep and inscrutable singular Name.
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Will the veiled sister pray for Those who walk in darkness, who chose thee and oppose thee, Those who are torn on the horn between season and season, time and time, between Hour and hour, word and word, power and power, those who wait In darkness? Will the veiled sister pray For children at the gate Who will not go away and cannot pray: Pray for those who chose and oppose
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If the lost word is lost, if the spent word is spent If the unheard, unspoken Word is unspoken, unheard; Still is the spoken word, the Word unheard, The Word without a word, the Word within The world and for the world; And the light shone in the darkness and Against the Word the unstilled world still whirled About the center of the silent Word. Oh my people, what have I done unto thee. Where shall the word be found, where shall the word Resound? Not here, there is not enough silence
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You do not know how much they mean to me, my friends, and how, how rare and strange it is, to find in a life composed so much of odds and ends to find a friend who has these qualities, who has, and gives those qualities upon which friendship lives. How much it means that I say this to you -without these friendships - life, what cauchemar!
Most of us who turn to any subject we love remember some morning or evening hour when we got on a high stool to reach down an untried volume, or sat with parted lips listening to a new talker, or for very lack of books began to listen to the voices within, as the first traceable beginning of our love.
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I said to my soul be still, and wait without hope; for hope would be hope of the wrong thing; wait without love, for love would be love of the wrong thing; there is yet fath. But the faith, and the love, and the hope are all in the waiting. Wait without thought, for you are not ready for thought: so the darkness shall be the light, and the stillness the dancing.
We die to each other daily. What we know of other people is only our memory of the moments during which we knew them. And they have changed since then. To pretend that they and we are the same is a useful and convenient social convention which must sometimes be broken. We must also remember that at every meeting we are meeting a stranger.
Unreal City, Under the brown fog of a winter dawn, A crowd flowed over London Bridge, so many, I had not thought death had undone so many. Sighs, short and infrequent, were exhaled, And each man fixed his eyes before his feet. Flowed up the hill and down King William Street, To where St Mary Woolnoth kept the hours With a dead sound on the final stock of nine. There I saw one I knew, and stopped him crying: 'Stetson! You, who were with me in the ships at Mylae! That corpse you planted last year in your garden, Has it begun to sprout? Will it bloom this year? Or has the sudden frost disturbed its bed? Oh keep the Dog far hence, that's friend to men, Or with his nails he'll dig it up again! You! hypocrite lecteur!-mon semblable, -mon frere!
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When a poet's mind is perfectly equipped for its work, it is constantly amalgamating disparate experience; the ordinary man's experience is chaotic, irregular, fragmentary. The latter falls in love, or reads Spinoza, and these two experiences have nothing to do with each other, or with the noise of the typewriter or the smell of cooking; in the mind of the poet these experiences are always forming new wholes.
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We are the hollow men We are the stuffed men Leaning together Headpiece filled with straw. Alas! Our dried voices, when We whisper together Are quiet and meaningless As wind in dry grass Or rats' feet over broken glass In our dry cellar Shape without form, shade without colour, Paralysed force, gesture without motion; - The Hollow Men
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James's critical genius comes out most tellingly in his mastery over, his baffling escape from, Ideas; a mastery and an escape which are perhaps the last test of a superior intelligence. He had a mind so fine that no idea could violate it. [... ] In England, ideas run wild and pasture on the emotions; instead of thinking with our feelings (a very different thing) we corrupt our feelings with ideas; we produce the public, the political, the emotional idea, evading sensation and thought. [... ] James in his novels is like the best French critics in maintaining a point of view, a view-point untouched by the parasite idea. He is the most intelligent man of his generation." (Little Review, 1918)
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I grow old ... I grow old ... I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled. Shall I part my hair behind? Do I dare to eat a peach? I shall wear white flannel trousers, and walk upon the beach. I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each. I do not think that they will sing to me. I have seen them riding seaward on the waves Combing the white hair of the waves blown back When the wind blows the water white and black. We have lingered in the chambers of the sea By sea-girls wreathed with seaweed red and brown Till human voices wake us, and we drown.
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No I am not Prince Hamlet nor was meant to be Am an attendant lord one that will do To swell a progress start a scene or two Advise the prince no doubt an easy tool Deferential glad to be of use Politic cautious and meticulous Full of high sentence but a bit obtuse At times indeed almost ridiculous- Almost at times the Fool. I grow old ... I grow old ... I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled. Shall I part my hair behind Do I dare to eat a peach I shall wear white flannel trousers and walk upon the beach. I have heard the mermaids singing each to each. I do not think that they will sing to me. I have seen them riding seaward on the waves Combing the white hair of the waves blown back When the wind blows the water white and black. We have lingered in the chambers of the sea By sea-girls wreathed with seaweed red and brown Till human voices wake us and we drown.
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O Light Invisible, we praise Thee! Too bright for mortal vision. O Greater Light, we praise Thee for the less; The eastern light our spires touch at morning, The light that slants upon our western doors at evening, The twilight over stagnant pools at batflight, Moon light and star light, owl and moth light, Glow-worm glowlight on a grassblade. O Light Invisible, we worship Thee! We thank Thee for the light that we have kindled, The light of altar and of sanctuary; Small lights of those who meditate at midnight And lights directed through the coloured panes of windows And light reflected from the polished stone, The gilded carven wood, the coloured fresco. Our gaze is submarine, our eyes look upward And see the light that fractures through unquiet water. We see the light but see not whence it comes. O Light Invisible, we glorify Thee!
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