19th Century Poets-2




Percy Shelley’s “Ozymandias” read by Brian Cranston:

Another interpretation by Mairin O Hagan :

Text of the above poem:


I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: `Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed.
And on the pedestal these words appear —
“My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!”
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.’

by Percy Bysshe Shelley, 1792–1822


An old, mad, blind, despised, and dying King; 
Princes, the dregs of their dull race, who flow 
Through public scorn,—-mud from a muddy spring; 
Rulers who neither see nor feel nor know, 
But leechlike to their fainting country cling 
Till they drop, blind in blood, without a blow. 
A people starved and stabbed in th' untilled field; 
An army, whom liberticide and prey 
Makes as a two-edged sword to all who wield; 
Golden and sanguine laws which tempt and slay; 
Religion Christless, Godless—-a book sealed; 
A senate, Time’s worst statute, unrepealed—- 
Are graves from which a glorious Phantom may 
Burst, to illumine our tempestuous day.

by Percy Bysshe Shelley, 1792–1822

Source: The Norton Anthology of English Literature: Volume Two Seventh Edition (2000)

Shelley’s “Ode to the West Wind” as read by Tom O’Bedlam:




Art thou pale for weariness 
Of climbing heaven and gazing on the earth, 
Wandering companionless 
Among the stars that have a different birth,— 
And ever changing, like a joyless eye 
That finds no object worth its constancy?

by Percy Bysshe Shelley, 1792–1822



Behold her, single in the field,
Yon solitary Highland Lass!
Reaping and singing by herself;
Stop here, or gently pass!
Alone she cuts and binds the grain,
And sings a melancholy strain;
O listen! for the Vale profound
Is overflowing with the sound.

No Nightingale did ever chaunt
More welcome notes to weary bands
Of travellers in some shady haunt,
Among Arabian sands:
A voice so thrilling ne'er was heard
In spring-time from the Cuckoo-bird,
Breaking the silence of the seas
Among the farthest Hebrides.

Will no one tell me what she sings?—
Perhaps the plaintive numbers flow
For old, unhappy, far-off things,
And battles long ago:
Or is it some more humble lay,
Familiar matter of to-day?
Some natural sorrow, loss, or pain,
That has been, and may be again?

Whate'er the theme, the Maiden sang
As if her song could have no ending;
I saw her singing at her work,
And o'er the sickle bending;—
I listened, motionless and still;
And, as I mounted up the hill,
The music in my heart I bore,
Long after it was heard no more.

by William Wordsworth, 1770–1850

The poem below is addressed to Wordsworth’s dead daughter:


Surprised by joy—impatient as the Wind
I turned to share the transport—Oh! with whom
But Thee, long buried in the silent Tomb,
That spot which no vicissitude can find?
Love, faithful love, recalled thee to my mind—
But how could I forget thee?—Through what power,
Even for the least division of an hour,
Have I been so beguiled as to be blind
To my most grievous loss!—That thought’s return
Was the worst pang that sorrow ever bore,
Save one, one only, when I stood forlorn,
Knowing my heart’s best treasure was no more;
That neither present time, nor years unborn
Could to my sight that heavenly face restore.

by William Wordsworth, 1770–1850

Tom O’Bedlam reads Wordsworth’s “Lines Composed a Few Miles Above Tintern Abbey”:





Does the road wind up-hill all the way?
Yes, to the very end.
Will the day's journey take the whole long day?
From morn to night, my friend.

But is there for the night a resting-place?
A roof for when the slow dark hours begin.
May not the darkness hide it from my face?
You cannot miss that inn.

Shall I meet other wayfarers at night?
Those who have gone before.
Then must I knock, or call when just in sight?
They will not keep you standing at that door.

Shall I find comfort, travel-sore and weak?
Of labour you shall find the sum.
Will there be beds for me and all who seek?
Yea, beds for all who come.

by Christina Rossetti, 1830 – 1894

Performed by Poornima Kirby:

An Apple Gathering

I plucked pink blossoms from mine apple-tree
    And wore them all that evening in my hair:
Then in due season when I went to see
        I found no apples there.

With dangling basket all along the grass
    As I had come I went the selfsame track:
My neighbours mocked me while they saw me pass
        So empty-handed back.

Lilian and Lilias smiled in trudging by,
    Their heaped-up basket teased me like a jeer;
Sweet-voiced they sang beneath the sunset sky,
        Their mother's home was near.

Plump Gertrude passed me with her basket full,
    A stronger hand than hers helped it along;
A voice talked with her through the shadows cool
        More sweet to me than song.

Ah Willie, Willie, was my love less worth
    Than apples with their green leaves piled above?
I counted rosiest apples on the earth
        Of far less worth than love.

So once it was with me you stooped to talk
    Laughing and listening in this very lane:
To think that by this way we used to walk
        We shall not walk again!

I let my neighbours pass me, ones and twos
    And groups; the latest said the night grew chill,
And hastened: but I loitered, while the dews
        Fell fast I loitered still.

Christina Rosetti’s “A Christmas Carol” (aka “In the Bleak Mid-Winter”) as sung by the San Francisco men’s chorus, Chanticleer, with music by Gustav Holst:

A Christmas Carol  [a.k.a. “In The Bleak Mid-Winter”]

In the bleak mid-winter
Frosty wind made moan,
Earth stood hard as iron,
Water like a stone;
Snow had fallen, snow on snow,
Snow on snow,
In the bleak mid-winter
Long ago.

Our God, Heaven cannot hold Him
Nor earth sustain;
Heaven and earth shall flee away
When He comes to reign:
In the bleak midwinter
A stable-place sufficed
The Lord God Almighty
Jesus Christ.

Enough for Him, whom cherubim
Worship night and day,
A breastful of milk
And a mangerful of hay;
Enough for Him, whom angels
Fall down before,
The ox and ass and camel
Which adore.

Angels and archangels
May have gathered there,
Cherubim and seraphim
Thronged the air;
But only His mother
In her maiden bliss
Worshipped the Beloved
With a kiss.

What can I give Him,
Poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd
I would bring a lamb,
If I were a Wise Man
I would do my part,—
Yet what I can I give Him,
Give my heart.

by Christina Rossetti, 1830 – 1894

The poem above is in the public domain.

Mairin O’Hagan performs Christina Rossetti’s Remember:


Remember me when I am gone away, 
         Gone far away into the silent land; 
         When you can no more hold me by the hand, 
Nor I half turn to go yet turning stay.

Remember me when no more day by day 
         You tell me of our future that you plann'd: 
         Only remember me; you understand 
It will be late to counsel then or pray. 
Yet if you should forget me for a while 
         And afterwards remember, do not grieve: 
         For if the darkness and corruption leave 
         A vestige of the thoughts that once I had, 
Better by far you should forget and smile 
         Than that you should remember and be sad.

by Christina Rossetti, 1830 – 1894

In an Artist’s Studio

One face looks out from all his canvases,
One selfsame figure sits or walks or leans:
We found her hidden just behind those screens,
That mirror gave back all her loveliness.
A queen in opal or in ruby dress,
A nameless girl in freshest summer-greens,
A saint, an angel — every canvas means
The same one meaning, neither more or less.
He feeds upon her face by day and night,
And she with true kind eyes looks back on him,
Fair as the moon and joyful as the light:
Not wan with waiting, not with sorrow dim;
Not as she is, but was when hope shone bright;
Not as she is, but as she fills his dream.

by Christina Rossetti, 1830 – 1894


A hundred thousand birds salute the day: — 
  One solitary bird salutes the night: 
Its mellow grieving wiles our grief away, 
  And tunes our weary watches to delight; 
It seems to sing the thoughts we cannot say, 
  To know and sing them, and to set them right; 
Until we feel once more that May is May, 
  And hope some buds may bloom without a blight. 
This solitary bird outweighs, outvies, 
  The hundred thousand merry-making birds 
Whose innocent warblings yet might make us wise 
Would we but follow when they bid us rise, 
  Would we but set their notes of praise to words 
And launch our hearts up with them to the skies.

by Christina Rossetti, 1830 – 1894

Mairin O’Hagan performs Christina Rossetti’s When I Am Dead My Dearest:


When I am dead, my dearest,
Sing no sad songs for me;
Plant thou no roses at my head,
Nor shady cypress tree:
Be the green grass above me
With showers and dewdrops wet;
And if thou wilt, remember,
And if thou wilt, forget.

I shall not see the shadows,
I shall not feel the rain;
I shall not hear the nightingale
Sing on, as if in pain:
And dreaming through the twilight
That doth not rise nor set,
Haply I may remember,
And haply may forget.

by Christina Rossetti, 1830 – 1894

Read by David Conlon. The paintings are by Kinuko Craft. They are overtly sexual. The poem itself is more ambiguous.

To see the full text to Christiana Rosetti’s poem “Goblin Market” click [here]


from War is Kind [“Do not weep, maiden, for war is kind”]

Do not weep, maiden, for war is kind.

Because your lover threw wild hands toward the sky

And the affrighted steed ran on alone,

Do not weep.

War is kind.

      Hoarse, booming drums of the regiment,

      Little souls who thirst for fight,

      These men were born to drill and die.

      The unexplained glory flies above them,

      Great is the battle-god, great, and his kingdom—

      A field where a thousand corpses lie.

Do not weep, babe, for war is kind.

Because your father tumbled in the yellow trenches,

Raged at his breast, gulped and died,

Do not weep.

War is kind.

      Swift, blazing flag of the regiment,

      Eagle with crest of red and gold,

      These men were born to drill and die.

      Point for them the virtue of slaughter,

      Make plain to them the excellence of killing

      And a field where a thousand corpses lie.

Mother whose heart hung humble as a button

On the bright splendid shroud of your son,

Do not weep.

War is kind.

by Stephen Crane, 1871–1900

“I saw a man pursuing the horizon”

I saw a man pursuing the horizon;
Round and round they sped.
I was disturbed at this;   
I accosted the man.
“It is futile,” I said,
“You can never —”
“You lie,” he cried,   
And ran on.

by Stephen Crane, 1871–1900

A Man Said to the Universe

A man said to the universe:
“Sir, I exist!”
“However,” replied the universe,
“The fact has not created in me
A sense of obligation.”

by Stephen Crane, 1871–1900

Edgar Allan Poe’s “Annabelle Lee” with music and singing by Sarah Jarosz:


It was many and many a year ago,
In a kingdom by the sea,
That a maiden there lived whom you may know
By the name of Annabel Lee; —
And this maiden she lived with no other thought
Than to love and be loved by me.

I was a child and she was a child,
In this kingdom by the sea;
But we loved with a love that was more than love —
I and my Annabel Lee —
With a love that the wingéd seraphs in Heaven
Coveted her and me.

And this was the reason that, long ago,
In this kingdom by the sea,
A wind blew out of a cloud, chilling
My beautiful Annabel Lee;
So that her high-born kinsmen came
And bore her away from me,
To shut her up in a sepulchre,
In this kingdom by the sea.

The angels, not half so happy in Heaven,
Went envying her and me —
Yes! — that was the reason (as all men know,
In this kingdom by the sea)
That the wind came out of the cloud by night,
Chilling and killing my Annabel Lee.

But our love it was stronger by far than the love
Of those who were older than we —
Of many far wiser than we —
And neither the angels in Heaven above,
Nor the demons down under the sea,
Can ever dissever my soul from the soul
Of the beautiful Annabel Lee: —

For the moon never beams, without bringing me dreams
Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;
And the stars never rise, but I feel the bright eyes
Of the beautiful Annabel Lee: —
And so, all the night-tide, I lie down by the side
Of my darling — my darling — my life and my bride,
In her sepulchre there by the sea —
In her tomb by the sounding sea.

by Edgar Allan Poe, 1809–1849


From childhood’s hour I have not been 
As others were-—I have not seen 
As others saw—-I could not bring 
My passions from a common spring-— 
From the same source I have not taken 
My sorrow—-I could not awaken 
My heart to joy at the same tone—- 
And all I lov’d—-I lov’d alone-— 
Then—-in my childhood—-in the dawn 
Of a most stormy life—-was drawn 
From ev’ry depth of good and ill 
The mystery which binds me still-— 
From the torrent, or the fountain-— 
From the red cliff of the mountain-— 
From the sun that ’round me roll’d 
In its autumn tint of gold—- 
From the lightning in the sky 
As it pass’d me flying by—- 
From the thunder, and the storm-— 
And the cloud that took the form 
(When the rest of Heaven was blue) 
Of a demon in my view—-

by Edgar Allan Poe, 1809–1849

To see Poe’s “The Haunted Palace” click here

To see the text of Poe’s “The Raven” [click here]


This is a panel discussion about musical settings of John Clare's poetry-- 
covering historic settings from around 1820, along with contemporary 
composition. The panel features discussion, performances of song and 
readings of poems. Kate Romano chairs the panel of Simon Kövesi, Julian 
Philips and Toby Jones, while Julian on piano performs songs with tenor 
William Searle, and Toby reads Clare's verse.

Tom Hiddleston reads John Clare’s “I Am”:

Another version by Joey Akubeze:

I Am!

I am—-yet what I am none cares or knows; 
My friends forsake me like a memory lost: 
I am the self-consumer of my woes-— 
They rise and vanish in oblivious host, 
Like shadows in love’s frenzied stifled throes 
And yet I am, and live-—like vapours tossed 

Into the nothingness of scorn and noise, 
Into the living sea of waking dreams, 
Where there is neither sense of life or joys, 
But the vast shipwreck of my life’s esteems; 
Even the dearest that I loved the best 
Are strange—-nay, rather, stranger than the rest. 

I long for scenes where man hath never trod 
A place where woman never smiled or wept 
There to abide with my Creator, God, 
And sleep as I in childhood sweetly slept, 
Untroubling and untroubled where I lie 
The grass below-—above the vaulted sky.

 by John Clare, 1793-1864


The birds are gone to bed, the cows are still,
And sheep lie panting on each old mole-hill;
And underneath the willow's grey-green bough,
Like toil a-resting, lies the fallow plough
And timid hares throw daylight fears away
On the lane's road to dust and dance and play,
Then dabble in the grain by naught deterred
To lick the dew-fall from the barley's beard;
Then out they sturt* again and round the hill                  *startle
Like happy thoughts dance, squat, and loiter still,
Till milking maidens in the early morn
Jingle their yokes and sturt them in the corn;
Though well-known beaten paths each nimbling hare
Sturts quick as fear, and seeks its hidden lair.

by John Clare, 1793-1864


I found a ball of grass among the hay
And progged it as I passed and went away;
And when I looked I fancied something stirred,
And turned again and hoped to catch the bird—
When out an old mouse bolted in the wheats
With all her young ones hanging at her teats;
She looked so odd and so grotesque to me,
I ran and wondered what the thing could be,
And pushed the knapweed bunches where I stood;
Then the mouse hurried from the craking brood.
The young ones squeaked, and as I went away
She found her nest again among the hay.
The water o’er the pebbles scarce could run
And broad old cesspools glittered in the sun.

by John Clare, 1793-1864


The sheep get up and make their many tracks
And bear a load of snow upon their backs
And gnaw the frozen turnip to the ground
With sharp quick bite, and then go noising round
The boy that pecks the turnips all the day
And knocks his hands to keep the cold away
And laps his legs in straw to keep them warm
And hides behind the hedges from the storm
The sheep as tame as dogs go where he goes
And try to shake their fleeces from the snows
Then leave their frozen meal and wander round
The stubble stack that stands beside the ground
And lye* all night and face the drizzling storm       *lie
And shun the hovel where they might be warm

by John Clare, 1793-1864

Read by Brad Craft:


When midnight comes a host of dogs and men
Go out and track the badger to his den,
And put a sack within the hole, and lie
Till the old grunting badger passes by.
He comes an hears - they let the strongest loose.
The old fox gears the noise and drops the goose.
The poacher shoots and hurries from the cry,
And the old hare half wounded buzzes by.
They get a forked stick to bear him down
And clap the dogs and take him to the town,
And bait him all the day with many dogs,
And laugh and shout and fright the scampering hogs.
He runs along and bites at all he meets:
They shout and hollo down the noisy streets.

He turns about to face the loud uproar 
And drives the rebels to their very door.
The frequent stone is hurled where'er they go;
When badgers fight, then everyone's a foe.
The dogs are clapped and urged to join the fray'
The badger turns and drives them all away.
Though scarcely half as big, demure and small,
He fights with dogs for hours and beats them all.
The heavy mastiff, savage in the fray,
Lies down and licks his feet and turns away.
The bulldog knows his match and waxes cold,
The badger grins and never leaves his hold.
He drives the crowd and follows at their heels
And bites them through—-the drunkard swears and reels.

The frighted women take the boys away,
The blackguard laughs and hurries on the fray.
He tries to reach the woods, and awkward race,
But sticks and cudgels quickly stop the chase.
He turns again and drives the noisy crowd 
And beats the many dogs in noises loud.
He drives away and beats them every one,
And then they loose them all and set them on.
He falls as dead and kicked by boys and men,
Then starts and grins and drives the crowd again;
Till kicked and torn and beaten out he lies
And leaves his hold and cackles, groans, and dies.

 by John Clare, 1793-1864


Wilt thou go with me sweet maid
Say maiden wilt thou go with me
Through the valley depths of shade
Of night and dark obscurity
Where the path hath lost its way
Where the sun forgets the day
Where there’s nor life nor light to see
Sweet maiden wilt thou go with me

Where stones will turn to flooding streams,
Where plains will rise like ocean waves,
Where life will fade like visioned dreams
And mountains darken into caves.
Say maiden wilt thou go with me
Through this sad non-identity
Where parents live and are forgot
And sisters live and know us not

Say maiden wilt thou go with me
In this strange death of life to be
To live in death and be the same
Without this life, or home, or name
At once to be, and not to be
That was, and is not – yet to see
Things pass like shadows – and the sky
Above, below, around us lie

The land of shadows wilt thou trace
And look – nor know each other’s face
The present mixed with reasons gone
And past, and present all as one
Say maiden can thy life be led
To join the living to the dead
Then trace thy footsteps on with me
We’re wed to one eternity

by John Clare, 1793-1864

Music composed by Tim Martin. Performed with vocals & 6 string baritone ukelele by Tim Martin:


I lost the love of heaven above,
I spurned the lust of earth below,
I felt the sweets of fancied love--
And hell itself my only foe.

I lost earth's joys, but felt the glow
Of heaven's flame abound in me
Till loveliness and I did grow
The bard of immortality.

I loved, but woman fell away
I hid me from her faded fame,
I snatched the sun's eternal ray--
And wrote till earth was but a name.

In every language upon earth,
On every shore, o'er every sea,
I give my name immortal birth
And kept my spirit with the free.

 by John Clare, 1793-1864

Lord, Hear My Prayer

(A Paraphrase of Psalm 102)

Lord, hear my prayer when trouble glooms,
Let sorrow find a way,
And when the day of trouble comes,
Turn not thy face away:
My bones like hearthstones burn away,
My life like vapoury smoke decays.

My heart is smitten like the grass,
That withered lies and dead,
And I, so lost to what I was,
Forget to eat my bread.
My voice is groaning all the day,
My bones prick through this skin of clay.

The wilderness’s pelican,
The desert’s lonely owl—-
I am their like, a desert man
In ways as lone and foul.
As sparrows on the cottage top
I wait till I with fainting drop.

I hear my enemies reproach,
All silently I mourn;
They on my private peace encroach,
Against me they are sworn.
Ashes as bred my trouble shares,
And mix my food with weeping cares.

Yet not for them is sorrow’s toil,
I fear no mortal’s frowns—-
But thou hast held me up awhile
And thou has cast me down.
My days like shadows waste from view,
I mourn like withered grass in dew.

But thou, Lord, shalt endure for ever,
All generations through;
Thou shalt to Zion be the giver
Of joy and mercy too.
Her very stones are in thy trust,
Thy servants reverence her dust.

Heathens shall hear and fear thy name,
All kings of earth thy glory know
When thou shalt build up Zion’s fame
And live in glory there below.
He’ll not despise their prayers, though mute,
But still regard the destitute.

by John Clare, 1793-1864

God’s Grandeur

The world is charged with the grandeur of God.
It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;
It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil
Crushed. Why do men then now not reck his rod?
Generations have trod, have trod, have trod;
And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil;
And wears man's smudge and shares man's smell: the soil
Is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod.

And for all this, nature is never spent;
There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;
And though the last lights off the black West went
Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs —
Because the Holy Ghost over the bent
World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.

by Gerard Manley Hopkins, 1844–1889

Source: Gerard Manley Hopkins: Poems and Prose (Penguin Classics, 1985)

Pied Beauty

Glory be to God for dappled things – 
   For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow; 
      For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim; 
Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches’ wings; 
   Landscape plotted and pieced – fold, fallow, and plough; 
      And áll trádes, their gear and tackle and trim. 

All things counter, original, spare, strange; 
   Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?) 
      With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim; 
He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change: 
                                Praise him.

by Gerard Manley Hopkins, 1844–1889

Natalie Merchant sings the poem below:

Spring and Fall

                                      to a young child
Márgarét, áre you gríeving
Over Goldengrove unleaving?
Leáves like the things of man, you
With your fresh thoughts care for, can you?
Ah! ás the heart grows older
It will come to such sights colder
By and by, nor spare a sigh
Though worlds of wanwood leafmeal lie;
And yet you wíll weep and know why.
Now no matter, child, the name:
Sórrow’s spríngs áre the same.
Nor mouth had, no nor mind, expressed
What heart heard of, ghost guessed:
It ís the blight man was born for,
It is Margaret you mourn for.

by Gerard Manley Hopkins, 1844–1889

Source: Gerard Manley Hopkins: Poems and Prose (Penguin Classics, 1985)


Margaret Are You Drug

Cool it Mag.
Sure it’s a drag
With all that green flaked out.
Next thing you know they’ll be changing the color of bread.

But look, Chick,   
Why panic?
Sevennyeighty years, we’ll all be dead.

Roll with it, Kid.   
I did.
Give it the old benefit of the doubt.

I mean leaves   
You sure you aint just feeling sorry for yourself?

by George Starbuck, 1931–1996

A section of his poem Translations from the English

Another version of Byron’s poem by Marianne Faithfull:

Tom Hiddleston reads Byron’s ‘So We’ll Go No More A-Roving’:

An excerpt (“There Is a Pleasure in the Pathless Woods”) from Byron‘s long poem “Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage”:

[Read by Jean Aked.  Music: “Black-Crowned Night-Heron” by Andrew Bird]

There is a pleasure in the pathless woods,
There is a rapture on the lonely shore,
There is society, where none intrudes,
By the deep sea, and music in its roar:
I love not man the less, but Nature more,
From these our interviews, in which I steal
From all I may be, or have been before,
To mingle with the Universe, and feel
What I can ne'er express, yet cannot all conceal.

by George Gordon, Lord Byron



Poems by Thomas Lovell Beddoes–an English Poe?

Old Adam, The Carrion Crow

Old Adam, the carrion crow,
The old crow of Cairo;
He sat in the shower, and let it flow
Under his tail and over his crest;
    And through every feather
    Leaked the wet weather;
And the bough swung under his nest;
For his beak it was heavy with marrow.
    Is that the wind dying? O no;
    It's only two devils, that blow
    Through a murderer's bones, to and fro,
       In the ghosts' moonshine.
Ho! Eve, my gray carrion wife,
When we have supped on kings' marrow,
Where shall we drink and make merry our life?
Our nest is queen Cleopatra's skull,
    'Tis cloven and cracked,
    And battered and hacked,
But with tears of blue eyes it is full:
Let us drink then, my raven of Cairo.
    Is that the wind dying? O no;
    It's only two devils, that blow
    Through a murderer's bones, to and fro,
       In the ghosts' moonshine.

by Thomas Lovell Beddoes, 1803 – 1849


Hard by the lilied Nile I saw
A duskish river-dragon stretched along,
The brown habergeon of his limbs enamelled
With sanguine almandines and rainy pearl:
And on his back there lay a young one sleeping,
No bigger than a mouse; with eyes like beads,
And a small fragment of its speckled egg
Remaining on its harmless, pulpy snout;
A thing to laugh at, as it gaped to catch
The baulking merry flies. In the iron jaws
Of the great devil-beast, like a pale soul
Fluttering in rocky hell, lightsomely flew
A snowy trochilus, with roseate beak
Tearing the hairy leeches from his throat.

by Thomas Lovell Beddoes, 1803 – 1849



Who tames the lion now?
Who smoothes Jove’s wrinkles now?
Who is the reckless wight
   That in the horrid middle
Of the deserted night
Doth play upon man’s brain,
   As on a wanton fiddle,
The mad and magic strain,
The reeling, tripping sound,
To which the world goes round?
   Sing heigh! ho! diddle!
           And then say—
Love, quotha, Love? Nay, nay!
It is a spirit fine
Of ale or ancient wine,
   Lord Alcohol, the drunken fay,
           Lord Alcohol alway!

Who maketh the pipe-clay man
Think all that nature can?
Who dares the gods to flout,
   Lay fate beneath the table,
And maketh him stammer out
A thousand monstrous things,
   For history a fable,
Dish-clouts for kings?
And sends the world along
Singing a ribald song
   Of heigho! Babel?
            Who, I pray—
Love, quotha, Love? Nay, nay!
It is a spirit fine
Of ale or ancient wine,
   Lord Alcohol, the drunken fay,
            Lord Alcohol alway!

by Thomas Lovell Beddoes, 1803 – 1849


HOW many times do I love thee, dear? 
   Tell me how many thoughts there be 
   In the atmosphere 
   Of a new-fall'n year, 
Whose white and sable hours appear 
   The latest flake of Eternity: 
So many times do I love thee, dear. 

How many times do I love again? 
   Tell me how many beads there are 
   In a silver chain 
   Of evening rain, 
Unravell'd from the tumbling main, 
   And threading the eye of a yellow star: 
So many times do I love again.

by Thomas Lovell Beddoes, 1803 – 1849

The Maldive Shark

About the Shark, phlegmatical one,
Pale sot of the Maldive sea,
The sleek little pilot-fish, azure and slim,
How alert in attendance be.
From his saw-pit of mouth, from his charnel of maw
They have nothing of harm to dread,
But liquidly glide on his ghastly flank
Or before his Gorgonian head;
Or lurk in the port of serrated teeth
In white triple tiers of glittering gates,
And there find a haven when peril’s abroad,
An asylum in jaws of the Fates!
They are friends; and friendly they guide him to prey,
Yet never partake of the treat—
Eyes and brains to the dotard lethargic and dull,
Pale ravener of horrible meat.

 by Herman Melville, 1819–1891

Shiloh: A Requiem (April, 1862)

Skimming lightly, wheeling still,
      The swallows fly low
Over the field in clouded days,
      The forest-field of Shiloh—
Over the field where April rain
Solaced the parched ones stretched in pain
Through the pause of night
That followed the Sunday fight
      Around the church of Shiloh—
The church so lone, the log-built one,
That echoed to many a parting groan
            And natural prayer
      Of dying foemen mingled there—
Foemen at morn, but friends at eve—
      Fame or country least their care:
(What like a bullet can undeceive!)
      But now they lie low,
While over them the swallows skim,
      And all is hushed at Shiloh.

by Herman Melville, 1819–1891

To see a video of Melville’s “Shiloh” click here

In a Church of Padua

In vaulted place where shadows flit, 
An upright sombre box you see: 
A door, but fast, and lattice none.
But punctured holes minutely small 
In lateral silver panel square 
Above a kneeling-board without, 
Suggest an aim if not declare. 

Who bendeth here the tremulous knee 
No glimpse may get of him within, 
And he immured may hardly see 
The soul confessing there the sin; 
Nor yields the low-sieved voice a tone 
Whereby the murmurer may be known. 

Dread diving-bell! In thee inurned 
What hollows the priest must sound, 
Descending into consciences 
Where more is hid than found.

by Herman Melville, 1819-1891

Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s poem “Silent Noon” set to music by Ralph Vaughn Williams and sung by Thomas Allen:


Your hands lie open in the long fresh grass--
The finger-points look through like rosy blooms;
Your eyes smile peace. The pasture gleams and glooms
'Neath billowing skies that scatter and amass.
All round our nest, far as the eye can pass,
Are golden kingcup-fields with silver edge
Where the cow-parsley skirts the hawthorn-hedge.
'Tis visible silence, still as the hour-glass.

Deep in the sun-searched growths the dragon-fly
Hangs like a blue thread loosened from the sky--
So this wing'd hour is dropt to us from above.
Oh! clasp we to our hearts, for deathless dower,
This close-companioned inarticulate hour
When two-fold silence was the song of love.

by Dante Gabriel Rossetti, 1828-1882

Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s “Sudden Light”:


 I HAVE been here before,
 But when or how I cannot tell:
 I know the grass beyond the door, 
 The sweet keen smell, 
 The sighing sound, the lights around the shore.

 You have been mine before,
 How long ago I may not know; 
 But just when at that swallow's soar
 Your neck turned so,
 Some veil did fall--I knew it all of yore.

 Has this been thus before? 
 And shall not thus time's eddying flight 
 Still with our lives our love restore
 In death's despite, 
 And day and night yield one delight once more? 

by Dante Gabriel Rossetti, 1828-1882


The Harlot’s House

We caught the tread of dancing feet,
We loitered down the moonlit street,
And stopped beneath the harlot's house.

Inside, above the din and fray,
We heard the loud musicians play
The "Treues Liebes Herz" of Strauss.

Like strange mechanical grotesques,
Making fantastic arabesques,
The shadows raced across the blind.

We watched the ghostly dancers spin
To sound of horn and violin,
Like black leaves wheeling in the wind.

Like wire-pulled automatons,
Slim silhouetted skeletons
Went sidling through the slow quadrille.

They took each other by the hand,
And danced a stately saraband;
Their laughter echoed thin and shrill.

Sometimes a clockwork puppet pressed
A phantom lover to her breast,
Sometimes they seemed to try to sing.

Sometimes a horrible marionette
Came out, and smoked its cigarette
Upon the steps like a live thing.

Then, turning to my love, I said,
"The dead are dancing with the dead,
The dust is whirling with the dust."

But she—she heard the violin,
And left my side, and entered in:
Love passed into the house of lust.

Then suddenly the tune went false,
The shadows wearied of the waltz,
The shadows ceased to wheel and whirl.

And down the long and silent street,
The dawn, with silver-sandalled feet,
Crept like a frightened girl.



Tread lightly, she is near    
    Under the snow,
Speak gently, she can hear
    The daisies grow.

All her bright golden hair
     Tarnished with rust,
She that was young and fair
    Fallen to dust.

Lily-like, white as snow,
    She hardly knew
She was a woman, so
    Sweetly she grew.

Coffin-board, heavy stone,
    Lie on her breast,
I vex my heart alone
    She is at rest.

Peace, Peace, she cannot hear
    Lyre or sonnet,
All my life’s buried here,
    Heap earth upon it.

by Oscar Wilde, 1854-1900

The sonnet below refers to the portrait of Longfellow's wife Fanny by 
Samuel Rowse in 1859. It hung in the poet's bedroom at Craigie House in 
Cambridge, Mass. where, 18 years previously, "On July 9, 1861, a hot 
day, his wife was putting locks of her children's hair into an envelope 
and attempting to seal it with hot sealing wax while Longfellow took a 
nap. Her dress suddenly caught fire... Longfellow, awakened from his 
nap, rushed to help her ... He stifled the flames with his body as best 
he could, but she was already badly burned... Fanny was taken to her 
room to recover and a doctor was called. ... The next morning, July 10, 
1861, she died shortly after 10 o'clock after requesting a cup of 
coffee. Longfellow, in trying to save her, had burned himself badly 
enough for him to be unable to attend her funeral."-- wiki

The Cross of Snow

In the long, sleepless watches of the night, 
   A gentle face — the face of one long dead — 
   Looks at me from the wall, where round its head 
   The night-lamp casts a halo of pale light. 
Here in this room she died; and soul more white 
   Never through martyrdom of fire was led 
   To its repose; nor can in books be read 
   The legend of a life more benedight. 
There is a mountain in the distant West 
   That, sun-defying, in its deep ravines 
   Displays a cross of snow upon its side. 
Such is the cross I wear upon my breast 
   These eighteen years, through all the changing scenes 
   And seasons, changeless since the day she died.

by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, 1807–1882

At the beginning and end of this video are pictures of the two houses Longfellow lived in. The other pictures are interiors of these houses. He lived for 35 years in the first house and the rest of his life in the second. It seems that the video ends with three different houses but actually they are same house at different times in history:


All houses wherein men have lived and died
Are haunted houses. Through the open doors
The harmless phantoms on their errands glide,
With feet that make no sound upon the floors.

We meet them at the door-way, on the stair,
Along the passages they come and go,
Impalpable impressions on the air,
A sense of something moving to and fro.

There are more guests at table than the hosts
Invited; the illuminated hall
Is thronged with quiet, inoffensive ghosts,
As silent as the pictures on the wall.

The stranger at my fireside cannot see
The forms I see, nor hear the sounds I hear;
He but perceives what is; while unto me
All that has been is visible and clear.

We have no title-deeds to house or lands;
Owners and occupants of earlier dates
From graves forgotten stretch their dusty hands,
And hold in mortmain still their old estates.

The spirit-world around this world of sense
Floats like an atmosphere, and everywhere
Wafts through these earthly mists and vapours dense
A vital breath of more ethereal air.

Our little lives are kept in equipoise
By opposite attractions and desires;
The struggle of the instinct that enjoys,
And the more noble instinct that aspires.

These perturbations, this perpetual jar
Of earthly wants and aspirations high,
Come from the influence of an unseen star
An undiscovered planet in our sky.

And as the moon from some dark gate of cloud
Throws o'er the sea a floating bridge of light,
Across whose trembling planks our fancies crowd
Into the realm of mystery and night,—-

So from the world of spirits there descends
A bridge of light, connecting it with this,
O'er whose unsteady floor, that sways and bends,
Wander our thoughts above the dark abyss.

by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, 1807–1882

This poem is in the public domain.

The song in the above video is loosely based on this poem:

Christmas Bells

I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old, familiar carols play,
    And wild and sweet
    The words repeat 
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
    Had rolled along
    The unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Till ringing, singing on its way,
The world revolved from night to day,
    A voice, a chime,
    A chant sublime 
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Then from each black, accursed mouth
The cannon thundered in the South,
    And with the sound 
    The carols drowned
Of peace on earth, good-will to men! 

It was as if an earthquake rent
The hearth-stones of a continent,
    And made forlorn
    The households born
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And in despair I bowed my head;
"There is no peace on earth," I said;
    "For hate is strong,
    And mocks the song 
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!"

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
"God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
    The Wrong shall fail,
    The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men."