Words shouting, singing, smiling, frowning--
Sense lacking.
Ah, nothing, more obscure than Browning,
Save blacking.

by Ambrose Bierce.

On Reading The Life Of Haroun Er Reshid

Down all the lanterned Bagdad of our youth
He steals, with golden justice for the poor:
Within his palace you shall know the truth!
A blood-smeared headsman hides behind each door.

by Madison Julius Cawein.

There is no frigate like a book
To take us lands away,
Nor any coursers like a page
Of prancing poetry.
This traverse may the poorest take
Without oppress of toll;
How frugal is the chariot
That bears a human soul!

by Emily Dickinson.

There Is No Frigate Like A Book

There is no frigate like a book
To take us lands away,
Nor any coursers like a page
Of prancing poetry.
This traverse may the poorest take
Without oppress of toll;
How frugal is the chariot
That bears a human soul!

by Emily Dickinson.

Lines For A Scrap-Book

Gay register of harmless mirth,
Record of dear domestic hours;
The votive hand, which gave thee birth,
Now wreathes thy parting page with flowers.
Such mirth is reason's—virtue's treasure—
And they who, ere life's scrap-book closes,
Have filled the leaves with guiltless pleasure,
Shall find the Finis wrought in roses.

by John Kenyon.

Lean Out Of The Window

Lean out of the window,
Goldenhair,
I hear you singing
A merry air.

My book was closed,
I read no more,
Watching the fire dance
On the floor.

I have left my book,
I have left my room,
For I heard you singing
Through the gloom.

Singing and singing
A merry air,
Lean out of the window,
Goldenhair.

by James Joyce.

Spenserian Stanza. Written At The Close Of Canto Ii, Book V, Of

In after-time, a sage of mickle lore
Yclep'd Typographus, the Giant took,
And did refit his limbs as heretofore,
And made him read in many a learned book,
And into many a lively legend look;
Thereby in goodly themes so training him,
That all his brutishness he quite forsook,
When, meeting Artegall and Talus grim,
The one he struck stone-blind, the other's eyes wox dim.

by John Keats.

Not In This World To See His Face

Not in this world to see his face
Sounds long, until I read the place
Where this is said to be
But just the primer to a life
Unopened, rare, upon the shelf,
Clasped yet to him and me.

And yet, my primer suits me so
I would not choose a book to know
Than that, be sweeter wise;
Might some one else so learned be.
And leave me just my A B C,
Himself could have the skies.

by Emily Dickinson.

Read—sweet—how Others—strove

260

Read—Sweet—how others—strove—
Till we—are stouter—
What they—renounced—
Till we—are less afraid—
How many times they—bore the faithful witness—
Till we—are helped—
As if a Kingdom—cared!

Read then—of faith—
That shone above the fagot—
Clear strains of Hymn
The River could not drown—
Brave names of Men—
And Celestial Women—
Passed out—of Record
Into—Renown!

by Emily Dickinson.

A Reading Of Life--The Vital Choice

I.

Or shall we run with Artemis
Or yield the breast to Aphrodite?
Both are mighty;
Both give bliss;
Each can torture if divided;
Each claims worship undivided,
In her wake would have us wallow.

II.

Youth must offer on bent knees
Homage unto one or other;
Earth, the mother,
This decrees;
And unto the pallid Scyther
Either points us shun we either
Shun or too devoutly follow.

by George Meredith.

Fame [he Held A Book In His Knotty Paws]

He held a book in his knotty paws,
And its title grand read he:
'The Chronicles of the Kings' it was,
By the History Companee.
'I'm a monarch,' he said
(But a tear he shed)
'And my picter here you see.

'Great and lasting is my renown,
However the wits may flout
As wide almost as this blessed town'
(But he winced as if with gout).
'I paid 'em like sin
For to put me in,
But it's O, and O, to be out!'

by Ambrose Bierce.

On Reading Lord Dunsany's Book Of Wonder

The hours of night unheeded fly,
And in the grate the embers fade;
Vast shadows one by one pass by
In silent daemon cavalcade.

But still the magic volume holds
The raptur'd eye in realms apart,
And fulgent sorcery enfolds
The willing mind and eager heart.

The lonely room no more is there -
For to the sight in pomp appear
Temples and cities pois'd in air
And blazing glories - sphere on sphere.

by Howard Phillips Lovecraft.

I met a seer.
He held in his hands
The book of wisdom.
"Sir," I addressed him,
"Let me read."
"Child -- " he began.
"Sir," I said,
"Think not that I am a child,
For already I know much
Of that which you hold.
Aye, much."

He smiled.
Then he opened the book
And held it before me. --
Strange that I should have grown so suddenly blind.

by Stephen Crane.

Lines In The Travellers' Book At Orchomenus

In this book a traveller had written:­
'Fair Albion, smiling, sees her son depart
To trace the birth and nursery of art:
Noble his object, glorious is his aim;
He comes to Athens, and he writes his name.'

BENEATH WHICH LORD BYRON INSERTED THE FOLLOWING.

The modest bard, like many a bard unknown,
Rhymes on our names, but wisely hides his own;
But yet, whoe'er he be, to say no worse,
His name would bring more credit than his verse.

by George Gordon Byron.

Little maidens, when you look
On this little story-book,
Reading with attentive eye
Its enticing history,
Never think that hours of play
Are your only HOLIDAY,
And that in a HOUSE of joy
Lessons serve but to annoy:
If in any HOUSE you find
Children of a gentle mind,
Each the others pleasing ever--
Each the others vexing never--
Daily work and pastime daily
In their order taking gaily--
Then be very sure that they
Have a life of HOLIDAY.

by Lewis Carroll.

I Read My Sentence—steadily

412

I read my sentence—steadily—
Reviewed it with my eyes,
To see that I made no mistake
In its extremest clause—
The Date, and manner, of the shame—
And then the Pious Form
That "God have mercy" on the Soul
The Jury voted Him—
I made my soul familiar—with her extremity—
That at the last, it should not be a novel Agony—
But she, and Death, acquainted—
Meet tranquilly, as friends—
Salute, and pass, without a Hint—
And there, the Matter ends—

by Emily Dickinson.

This Is The Sort Of Book We Like

This is the sort of book we like
(For you and I are very small),
With pictures stuck in anyhow,
And hardly any words at all.
. . .
You will not understand a word
Of all the words, including mine;
Never you trouble; you can see,
And all directness is divine—
Stand up and keep your childishness:
Read all the pedants' screeds and strictures;
But don't believe in anything
That can't be told in coloured pictures.

by Gilbert Keith Chesterton.

Thought, I love thought.
But not the juggling and twisting of already existent ideas
I despise that self-important game.
Thought is the welling up of unknown life into consciousness,
Thought is the testing of statements on the touchstone of consciousness,
Thought is gazing onto the face of life, and reading what can be read,
Thought is pondering over experience, and coming to conclusion.
Thought is not a trick, or an exercise, or a set of dodges,
Thought is a man in his wholeness, wholly attending.

by David Herbert Lawrence.

Haroun Al Raschid

One day, Haroun Al Raschid read
A book wherein the poet said:--

"Where are the kings, and where the rest
Of those who once the world possessed?

"They're gone with all their pomp and show,
They're gone the way that thou shalt go.

"O thou who choosest for thy share
The world, and what the world calls fair,

"Take all that it can give or lend,
But know that death is at the end!"

Haroun Al Raschid bowed his head:
Tears fell upon the page he read.

by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

The Way I Read A Letter's—this

636

The Way I read a Letter's—this—
'Tis first—I lock the Door—
And push it with my fingers—next—
For transport it be sure—

And then I go the furthest off
To counteract a knock—
Then draw my little Letter forth
And slowly pick the lock—

Then—glancing narrow, at the Wall—
And narrow at the floor
For firm Conviction of a Mouse
Not exorcised before—

Peruse how infinite I am
To no one that You—know—
And sigh for lack of Heaven—but not
The Heaven God bestow—

by Emily Dickinson.

The Poet's Death

The world is taking little heed
And plods from day to day:
The vulgar flourish like a weed,
The learned pass away.

We miss him on the summer path
The lonely summer day,
Where mowers cut the pleasant swath
And maidens make the hay.

The vulgar take but little heed;
The garden wants his care;
There lies the book he used to read,
There stands the empty chair.

The boat laid up, the voyage oer,
And passed the stormy wave,
The world is going as before,
The poet in his grave.

by John Clare.

GIVE a man a horse he can ride,
   Give a man a boat he can sail;
And his rank and wealth, his strength and health,
   On sea nor shore shall fail.

Give a man a pipe he can smoke,
   Give a man a book he can read:
And his home is bright with a calm delight,
   Though the room be poor indeed.

Give a man a girl he can love,
   As I, O my love, love thee;
And his heart is great with the pulse of Fate,
   At home, on land, on sea.

by James Thomson.

I knew not if to laugh or weep;
They sat and talked of you--
"'Twas here he sat; 'twas this he said!
'Twas that he used to do.

"Here is the book wherein he read,
The room wherein he dwelt;
And he" (they said) "was such a man,
Such things he thought and felt."

I sat and sat, I did not stir;
They talked and talked away.
I was as mute as any stone,
I had no word to say.

They talked and talked; like to a stone
My heart grew in my breast--
I, who had never seen your face
Perhaps I knew you best.

by Amy Levy.

On Re-Reading Certain German Poets

THEY hold their own, they have no peers
In gloom and glow, in hopes and fears,
In love and terror, hovering round
The lore of that enchanted ground! —
That mystic region, where one hears,
By bandit towers, the hunt that nears
Wild through the Hartz; the demon cheers
Of Hackelnberg; his horn and hound —
They hold their own.
Dark Wallenstein; and, down the years,
The Lorelei; and, creased with sneers,
Faust, Margaret; —the Sabboth sound,
Witch-whirling, of the Brocken, drowned
In storm, through which Mephisto leers,—
They hold their own.

by Madison Julius Cawein.

I cannot count the pebbles in the brook.
Well hath He spoken: "Swear not by thy head.
Thou knowest not the hairs," though He, we read,
Writes that wild number in His own strange book.

I cannot count the sands or search the seas,
Death cometh, and I leave so much untrod.
Grant my immortal aureole, O my God,
And I will name the leaves upon the trees,

In heaven I shall stand on gold and glass,
Still brooding earth's arithmetic to spell;
Or see the fading of the fires of hell
Ere I have thanked my God for all the grass.

by Gilbert Keith Chesterton.

To Mary Field French

A dying mother gave to you
Her child a many years ago;
How in your gracious love he grew,
You know, dear, patient heart, you know.

The mother's child you fostered then
Salutes you now and bids you take
These little children of his pen
And love them for the author's sake.

To you I dedicate this book,
And, as you read it line by line,
Upon its faults as kindly look
As you have always looked on mine.

Tardy the offering is and weak;--
Yet were I happy if I knew
These children had the power to speak
My love and gratitude to you.

by Eugene Field.

Written Before Re-Reading King Lear

O golden-tongued Romance with serene lute!
Fair plumed Syren! Queen of far away!
Leave melodizing on this wintry day,
Shut up thine olden pages, and be mute.
Adieu! for once again the fierce dispute
Betwixt damnation and impassioned clay
Must I burn through; once more humbly assay
The bitter-sweet of this Shakespearian fruit.
Chief Poet! and ye clouds of Albion,
Begetters of our deep eternal theme,
When through the old oak Forest I am gone,
Let me not wander in a barren dream,
But when I am consumed in the Fire,
Give me new Phoenix wings to fly at my desire.

by John Keats.

Sonnet. Written Before Re-Read King Lear

O golden-tongued Romance with serene lute!
Fair plumed Syren! Queen of far away!
Leave melodizing on this wintry day,
Shut up thine olden pages, and be mute:
Adieu! for once again the fierce dispute,
Betwixt damnation and impassion'd clay
Must I burn through; once more humbly assay
The bitter-sweet of this Shakespearian fruit.
Chief Poet! and ye clouds of Albion,
Begetters of our deep eternal theme,
When through the old oak forest I am gone,
Let me not wander in a barren dream,
But when I am consumed in the fire,
Give me new Phoenix wings to fly at my desire.

by John Keats.

Sonnet On Sitting Down To Read King Lear Once Again

O GOLDEN tongued Romance, with serene lute!
Fair plumed Syren, Queen of far-away!
Leave melodizing on this wintry day,
Shut up thine olden pages, and be mute:
Adieu! for, once again, the fierce dispute
Betwixt damnation and impassion 'd clay
Must I burn through; once more humbly assay
The bitter-sweet of this Shakespearian fruit:
Chief Poet! and ye clouds of Albion,
Begetters of our deep eternal theme!
When through the old oak Forest I am gone,
Let me not wander in a barren dream,
But, when I am consumed in the fire,
Give me new Phoenix wings to fly at my desire.

by John Keats.

Sonnet. On Mrs. Kemble's Readings From Shakespeare

O precious evenings! all too swiftly sped!
Leaving us heirs to amplest heritages
Of all the best thoughts of the greatest sages,
And giving tongues unto the silent dead!
How our hearts glowed and trembled as she read,
Interpreting by tones the wondrous pages
Of the great poet who foreruns the ages,
Anticipating all that shall be said!
O happy Reader! having for thy text
The magic book, whose Sibylline leaves have caught
The rarest essence of all human thought!
O happy Poet! by no critic vext!
How must thy listening spirit now rejoice
To be interpreted by such a voice!

by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

Once upon Iceland's solitary strand
A poet wandered with his book and pen,
Seeking some final word, some sweet Amen,
Wherewith to close the volume in his hand.
The billows rolled and plunged upon the sand,
The circling sea-gulls swept beyond his ken,
And from the parting cloud-rack now and then
Flashed the red sunset over sea and land.
Then by the billows at his feet was tossed
A broken oar; and carved thereon he read,
'Oft was I weary, when I toiled at thee';
And like a man, who findeth what was lost,
He wrote the words, then lifted up his head,
And flung his useless pen into the sea.

by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

I Know That Thou Wilt Read What Here Is Writ,

I know that thou wilt read what here is writ,
And yet not know that it is writ for thee;
To this cold page I have entrusted it,
Which tells thee all, and yet is true to me.
For oh! this paper is not like my cheek,
To blush, when o'er it thou shalt cast thine eye,
These words can't falter, like the words I speak,
With trembling accents, still when thou art nigh.
Devoid of pity, doth this leaf receive
The story of my sorrow and my love;
Yet while I trace the words, I half believe,
That latent sympathy will in it move,
All I would have thee learn, to teach to thee,
And hold the rest in safest secrecy.

by Frances Anne Kemble.

A Dream, After Reading Dante's Episode Of Paolo And Francesca

As Hermes once took to his feathers light,
When lulled Argus, baffled, swooned and slept,
So on a Delphic reed, my idle spright
So played, so charmed, so conquered, so bereft
The dragon-world of all its hundred eyes;
And seeing it asleep, so fled away,
Not to pure Ida with its snow-cold skies,
Nor unto Tempe, where Jove grieved a day;
But to that second circle of sad Hell,
Where in the gust, the whirlwind, and the flaw
Of rain and hail-stones, lovers need not tell
Their sorrows. Pale were the sweet lips I saw,
Pale were the lips I kissed, and fair the form
I floated with, about that melancholy storm.

by John Keats.

Sonnet. A Dream, After Reading Dante's Episode Of Paulo And Francesca

As Hermes once took to his feathers light,
When lulled Argus, baffled, swooned and slept,
So on a Delphic reed, my idle spright
So played, so charmed, so conquered, so bereft
The dragon-world of all its hundred eyes;
And seeing it asleep, so fled away--
Not to pure Ida with its snow-cold skies,
Nor unto Tempe, where Jove grieved a day;
But to that second circle of sad Hell,
Where in the gust, the whirlwind, and the flaw
Of rain and hail-stones, lovers need not tell
Their sorrows. Pale were the sweet lips I saw,
Pale were the lips I kissed, and fair the form
I floated with, about that melancholy storm.

by John Keats.

Earth holds no sweeter secret anywhere
Than this my brook, that lisps along the green
Of mossy channels, where slim birch trees lean
Like tall pale ladies, whose delicious hair,
Lures and invites the kiss of wanton air.
The smooth soft grasses, delicate between
The rougher stalks, by waifs alone are seen,
Shy things that live in sweet seclusion there.

And is it still the same, and do the eyes
Of every silver ripple meet the trees
That bend above like guarding emerald skies?
I turn, who read the city's beggared book,
And hear across the moan of many seas
The whisper and the laughter of my brook.

by Helen Hay Whitney.

Death Sets A Thing Of Signigicant

Death sets a thing significant
The eye had hurried by,
Except a perished creature
Entreat us tenderly

To ponder little workmanships
In crayon or in wool,
With 'This was last her fingers did,'
Industrious until

The thimble weighed too heavy,
The stitches stopped themselves,
And then 't was put among the dust
Upon the closet shelves.

A book I have, a friend gave,
Whose pencil, here and there,
Had notched the place that pleased him,--
At rest his fingers are.

Now, when I read, I read not,
For interrupting tears
Obliterate the etchings
Too costly for repairs.

by Emily Dickinson.

Sonnet Written After Having Read A. F. Rio’s, Petite Chouaunerie

Call not our Bretons backward. What if rude
Of speech and mien, and rude of fashion—drest;
Yet dwells firm faith beneath each simple vest;
With valiant heart, that scorns all servitude,
But to the Right. When France's fickler blood
Crouch'd to the crownëd pageant of the day,
New-fangled homage These disdained to pay;
But kept old vows in truth and hardihood.
And with no surface-glare, no facet-light,
But the rich inward lustre of the gem,
When tried in shade, were yet more deeply bright.
And therefore, Traveller! call not backward—Them,
Found never yet, in worst extremity,
Backward to bear—nor backward when to die.

by John Kenyon.

Lines Addressed To Lieut. R.W.H. Hardy, R.N.

ON THE PERUSAL OF HIS VOLUME OF TRAVELS IN THE INTERIOR OF MEXICO.


'Tis pleasant, lolling in our elbow-chair,
Secure at home, to read descriptions rare
Of venturous traveller in savage climes;
His hair-breadth 'scapes, toil, hunger-and sometimes
The merrier passages that, like a foil
To set off perils past, sweetened that toil,
And took the edge from danger; and I look
With such fear-mingled pleasure through thy book,
Adventurous Hardy! Thou a diver art,
But of no common form; and, for thy part
Of the adventure, hast brought home to the nation
Pearls of discovery-jewels of observation.

Enfield, January, 1830.

by Charles Lamb.

Prophecy and inspiration.

'Twas by an order from the Lord
The ancient prophets spoke his word;
His Spirit did their tongues inspire,
And warmed their hearts with heav'nly fire.

The works and wonders which they wrought
Confirmed the messages they brought;
The prophet's pen succeeds his breath,
To save the holy words from death.

Great God, mine eyes with pleasure look
On the dear volume of thy book;
There my Redeemer's face I see,
And read his name who died for me.

Let the false raptures of the mind
Be lost, and vanish in the wind;
Here I can fix my hope secure;
This is thy word, and must endure.

by Isaac Watts.

Sonnet On Reading Burns' Mountain Daisy

While soon the "garden's flaunting flowers" decay,
And, scatter'd on the earth, neglected lie,
The "Mountain Daisy," cherish'd by the ray
A poet drew from heav'n, shall never die.
Ah! like that lovely flower the poet rose!
'Mid penury's bare soil and bitter gale;
He felt each storm that on the mountain blows,
Nor ever knew the shelter of the vale.
By Genius in her native vigour nurst,
On Nature with impassion'd look he gazed,
Then through the cloud of adverse fortune burst
Indignant, and in light unborrow'd blaz'd.
Shield from rude sorrow, SCOTIA! shield thy bard:--
His heav'n-taught numbers Fame herself will guard.

by Helen Maria Williams.

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