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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