The Mad Philosopher

The flabby wine-skin of his brain
Yields to some pathologic strain,
And voids from its unstored abysm
The driblet of an aphorism.

by Ambrose Bierce.

There Was An Old Lady Whose Folly

There was an Old Lady whose folly
Induced her to sit in a holly:
Whereupon by a thorn
Her dress being torn,
She quickly became melancholy.

by Edward Lear.

Epigram—the Raptures Of Folly

THOU greybeard, old Wisdom! may boast of thy treasures;
Give me with young Folly to live;
I grant thee thy calm-blooded, time-settled pleasures,
But Folly has raptures to give.

by Robert Burns.

A little Madness in the Spring

A little Madness in the Spring
Is wholesome even for the King,
But God be with the Clown -
Who ponders this tremendous scene -
This whole Experiment of Green -
As if it were his own!

by Emily Dickinson.

High Over The Battling Street

High over the battling street
I watch the wind blow
In frenzy tearing the plane trees
That are tossing below.

The high balcony's railing
Casts a shadow unstirred:
Of this mad torment of air
The sun has not heard.

by Robert Laurence Binyon.

Much Madness Is Divinest Sense

Much Madness is divinest Sense -
To a discerning Eye -
Much Sense - the starkest Madness -
`Tis the Majority
In this, as All, prevail -
Assent - and you are sane -
Demur - you`re straightaway dangerous -
And handled with a Chain -

by Emily Dickinson.

When Lovely Woman Stoops To Folly

When lovely woman stoops to folly,
And finds too late that men betray,
What charm can soothe her melancholy,
What art can wash her guilt away?

The only art her guilt to cover,
To hide her shame from every eye,
To give repentance to her lover,
And wring his bosom, is—to die.

by Oliver Goldsmith.

A Man Young And Old: V. The Empty Cup

A crazy man that found a cup,
When all but dead of thirst,
Hardly dared to wet his mouth
Imagining, moon-accursed,
That another mouthful
And his beating heart would burst.
October last I found it too
But found it dry as bone,
And for that reason am I crazed
And my sleep is gone.

by William Butler Yeats.

A Charm For A Mad Woman

O heavenly med'cine, panacea high,
Restore this raging woman to her health,
More worth than hugest sums of worldly wealth,
Exceedingly more worth than any wealth.
O light of grace and reason from the sky,
Illuminate her mad-conceited mind,
And melancholy cease her wits to blind,
Cease, fearful melancholy, her wits to blind.

by Gabriel Harvey.

What is your feeling about the revolutionary spirit ofyour age, as expressed, for instance, in such movements as communism, surrealism, anarchism?
  The revolutionary spirit of our age (as expressed by communism, surrealism, anarchism, madness) is a hot firebrand thrust into the dark lantern of the world.
    In Nine Decades
  a Mad Queen shall be born.

by Harry Crosby.

I am the criminal whose chest is tattooed with a poinard above which are graven the words 'mort aux bourgeois'. Let us each tattoo this on our hearts.
I am the soldier with a red mark on my nakedness-when in a frenzy of love the mark expands to spell Mad Queen. Let us each tattoo our Mad Queen on our heart.
I am the prophet from the land of the Sun whose back is tattooed in the design of a rising sun. Let us each tattoo a rising sun on our heart.

by Harry Crosby.

Crazy Jane Reproved

I care not what the sailors say:
All those dreadful thunder-stones,
All that storm that blots the day
Can but show that Heaven yawns;
Great Europa played the fool
That changed a lover for a bull.
Fol de rol, fol de rol.

To round that shell's elaborate whorl,
Adorning every secret track
With the delicate mother-of-pearl,
Made the joints of Heaven crack:
So never hang your heart upon
A roaring, ranting journeyman.
Fol de rol, fol de rol.

by William Butler Yeats.

Crazy Jane On The Day Of Judgment

'Love is all
Unsatisfied
That cannot take the whole
Body and soul';
And that is what Jane said.

'Take the sour
If you take me
I can scoff and lour
And scold for an hour.'
"That's certainly the case,' said he.

'Naked I lay,
The grass my bed;
Naked and hidden away,
That black day';
And that is what Jane said.

'What can be shown?
What true love be?
All could be known or shown
If Time were but gone.'
'That's certainly the case,' said he.

by William Butler Yeats.

Mad As The Mist And Snow

Bolt and bar the shutter,
For the foul winds blow:
Our minds are at their best this night,
And I seem to know
That everything outside us is
Mad as the mist and snow.

Horace there by Homer stands,
Plato stands below,
And here is Tully's open page.
How many years ago
Were you and I unlettered lads
Mad as the mist and snow?

You ask what makes me sigh, old friend,
What makes me shudder so?
I shudder and I sigh to think
That even Cicero
And many-minded Homer were
Mad as the mist and snow.

by William Butler Yeats.

THAT crazed girl improvising her music.
Her poetry, dancing upon the shore,

Her soul in division from itself
Climbing, falling She knew not where,
Hiding amid the cargo of a steamship,
Her knee-cap broken, that girl I declare
A beautiful lofty thing, or a thing
Heroically lost, heroically found.

No matter what disaster occurred
She stood in desperate music wound,
Wound, wound, and she made in her triumph
Where the bales and the baskets lay
No common intelligible sound
But sang, 'O sea-starved, hungry sea.'

by William Butler Yeats.

Invocation To The Mad Queen

I would you were the hollow ship
fashioned to bear the cargo of my love
the unrelenting glove
hurled in defiance at our blackest world
or that great banner mad unfurled
the poet plants upon the hill of time
or else amphora for the gold of life
liquid and naked as a virgin wife.
Yourself the prize
I gird with Fire
The Great White Ruin
Of my Desire.
I burn to gold
fierce and unerring as a conquering sword
I burn to gold
fierce and undaunted as a lion lord
seeking your Bed
and leave to them the
burning of the dead.

by Harry Crosby.

Crazy Jane Talks With The Bishop

I met the Bishop on the road
And much said he and I.
'Those breasts are flat and fallen now,
Those veins must soon be dry;
Live in a heavenly mansion,
Not in some foul sty.'

'Fair and foul are near of kin,
And fair needs foul,' I cried.
'My friends are gone, but that's a truth
Nor grave nor bed denied,
Learned in bodily lowliness
And in the heart's pride.

'A woman can be proud and stiff
When on love intent;
But Love has pitched his mansion in
The place of excrement;
For nothing can be sole or whole
That has not been rent.'

by William Butler Yeats.

A Vision Of Folly

I saw one rushing madly in pursuit
Of Liberty. With frenzied steps he strode.
Old laws and customs with disdainful foot
He spurned beneath him in a mire of blood.
He stood before the wondering world a god,
A king with Freedom for his spouse and queen.
He felt his empire was divine and trod,
As on a footstool, on the necks of men.
Ruin awhile and havoc strewed his path.
He had his day of glory and his fall.
He stood once more upon his father's hearth,
Sated with pride, and there in frenzy worse
Wrought foul dishonour on that honoured hall,
And left its walls forever with a curse.

by Wilfrid Scawen Blunt.

Crazy Jane On The Mountain

I AM tired of cursing the Bishop,
(Said Crazy Jane)
Nine books or nine hats
Would not make him a man.
I have found something worse
To meditate on.
A King had some beautiful cousins.
But where are they gone?
Battered to death in a cellar,
And he stuck to his throne.
Last night I lay on the mountain.
(Said Crazy Jane)
There in a two-horsed carriage
That on two wheels ran
Great-bladdered Emer sat.
Her violent man
Cuchulain sat at her side;
Thereupon'
Propped upon my two knees,
I kissed a stone
I lay stretched out in the dirt
And I cried tears down.

by William Butler Yeats.

The Crazed Moon

CRAZED through much child-bearing
The moon is staggering in the sky;
Moon-struck by the despairing
Glances of her wandering eye
We grope, and grope in vain,
For children born of her pain.
Children dazed or dead!
When she in all her virginal pride
First trod on the mountain's head
What stir ran through the countryside
Where every foot obeyed her glance!
What manhood led the dance!
Fly-catchers of the moon,
Our hands are blenched, our fingers seem
But slender needles of bone;
Blenched by that malicious dream
They are spread wide that each
May rend what comes in reach.

by William Butler Yeats.

Sonnet Lxx: On Being Cautioned Against Walking On An Headland Overlooking The Sea, Because It Was Frequented By A Lunatic

Is there a solitary wretch who hies
To the tall cliff, with starting pace or slow,
And, measuring, views with wild and hollow eyes
Its distance from the waves that chide below;
Who, as the sea-born gale with frequent sighs
Chills his cold bed upon the mountain turf,
With hoarse, half-utter'd lamentation, lies
Murmuring responses to the dashing surf?
In moody sadness, on the giddy brink,
I see him more with envy than with fear;
He has no nice felicities that shrink
From giant horrors; wildly wandering here,
He seems (uncursed with reason) not to know
The depth or the duration of his woe.

by Charlotte Smith.

Thou who sitt'st listening to the midnight wind,
Pale maiden moon! 'tis said, that they who gaze
Too long upon thy melancholy light
Are struck with madness, and that o'er their mind
Thou shedd'st a mildew down, a withering blight.
If this were so, to some thy barren rays
Would be more welcome than the fruitful sun
To those who number none but happy days.
If to be mad were to forget one's grief,
Thy dewy finger-tips touching my brow
Might to my misery bring such relief
As misery such as mine can never know,
Till my distracted thoughts shall cease to run
From what once was—to all that must be now.

by Frances Anne Kemble.

The Folly Of Being Comforted

ONE that is ever kind said yesterday:
'Your well-beloved's hair has threads of grey,
And little shadows come about her eyes;
Time can but make it easier to be wise
Though now it seems impossible, and so
All that you need is patience.'
Heart cries, 'No,
I have not a crumb of comfort, not a grain.
Time can but make her beauty over again:
Because of that great nobleness of hers
The fire that stirs about her, when she stirs,
Burns but more clearly. O she had not these ways
When all the wild Summer was in her gaze.'
Heart! O heart! if she'd but turn her head,
You'd know the folly of being comforted.

by William Butler Yeats.

Tom The Lunatic

Sang old Tom the lunatic
That sleeps under the canopy:
'What change has put my thoughts astray
And eyes that had so keen a sight?
What has turned to smoking wick
Nature's pure unchanging light?

'Huddon and Duddon and Daniel O'Leary.
Holy Joe, the beggar-man,
Wenching, drinking, still remain
Or sing a penance on the road;
Something made these eyeballs weary
That blinked and saw them in a shroud.

'Whatever stands in field or flood,
Bird, beast, fish or man,
Mare or stallion, cock or hen,
Stands in God's unchanging eye
In all the vigour of its blood;
In that faith I live or die.'

by William Butler Yeats.

What Of The Night?

The doom is imminent of unholy hate.
Hail to the light that glimmers where the leaves
Are shaken by winds of dawning, and the sheaves
Of hemlock swirl and scatter in the spate!
Love, that has learned in faith to sorrow and wait,
Sings loud his glorious charm and subtly weaves
The spell subduing madness that receives
The madman at his own mad estimate.

Ah, but the ponderous horror! Nay, not yet
The cloud of sorrow leeward growls and rolls;
The eyes that meet the morn are heavy and wet.
The loss the military mind enscrolls,
Spilt blood and battered bones, we may forget,
But not the wastage of beloved souls

by John Le Gay Brereton.

Sonnet 140: Be Wise As Thou Art Cruel; Do Not Press

Be wise as thou art cruel; do not press
My tongue-tied patience with too much disdain,
Lest sorrow lend me words and words express
The manner of my pity-wanting pain.
If I might teach thee wit, better it were,
Though not to love, yet, love, to tell me so,
As testy sick men, when their deaths be near,
No news but health from their physicians know.
For if I should despair, I should grow mad,
And in my madness might speak ill of thee,
Now this ill-wresting world is grown so bad,
Mad slanderers by mad ears believèd be.
That I may not be so, nor thou belied,
Bear thine eyes straight, though thy proud heart go wide.

by William Shakespeare.

Hold Your Mad Hands

Hold your mad hands! for ever on your plain
Must the gorged vulture clog his beak with blood?
For ever must your Niger's tainted flood,
Roll to the ravenous shark his banquet slain?
Hold your mad hands! and learn at length to know,
And turn your vengeance on the common foe,
Yon treacherous vessel and her godless crew!
Let never traders with false pretext fair
Set on your shores again their wicked feet:
With interdict and indignation meet
Repel them, and with fire and sword pursue!
Avarice, the white cadaverous fiend, is there,
Who spreads his toils accursed wide and far,
And for his purveyor calls the demon War.

by Robert Southey.

The Love Sonnets Of Proteus. Part Ii: To Juliet: Li

THE SAME CONTINUED
We planted love, and lo it bred a brood
Of lusts and vanities and senseless joys.
We planted love, and you have gathered food
Of every bitter herb which fills and cloys.
Your meat is loud excitement and mad noise,
Your wine the unblest ambition of command
O'er hearts of men, of dotards, idiots, boys.
These are the playthings fitted to your hand,
These are your happiness. You weep no more,
But I must weep. My Heaven has been defiled.
My sin has found me out and smites me sore,
And folly, justified of her own child,
Rules all the empire where love reigned of yore,
Folly red--cheeked but rotten to the core.

by Wilfrid Scawen Blunt.

When the hamlet hailed a birth
   Judy used to cry:
When she heard our christening mirth
   She would kneel and sigh.
She was crazed, we knew, and we
Humoured her infirmity.

When the daughters and the sons
   Gathered them to wed,
And we like-intending ones
   Danced till dawn was red,
She would rock and mutter, "More
Comers to this stony shore!"

When old Headsman Death laid hands
   On a babe or twain,
She would feast, and by her brands
   Sing her songs again.
What she liked we let her do,
Judy was insane, we knew.

by Thomas Hardy.

The wild winds weep
And the night is a-cold;
Come hither, Sleep,
And my griefs infold:
But lo! the morning peeps
Over the eastern steeps,
And the rustling birds of dawn
The earth do scorn.

Lo! to the vault
Of paved heaven,
With sorrow fraught
My notes are driven:
They strike the ear of night,
Make weep the eyes of day;
They make mad the roaring winds,
And with tempests play.

Like a fiend in a cloud,
With howling woe,
After night I do crowd,
And with night will go;
I turn my back to the east,
From whence comforts have increas'd;
For light doth seize my brain
With frantic pain.

by William Blake.

Be wise as thou art cruel; do not press
My tongue-tied patience with too much disdain;
Lest sorrow lend me words and words express
The manner of my pity-wanting pain.
If I might teach thee wit, better it were,
Though not to love, yet, love, to tell me so;
As testy sick men, when their deaths be near,
No news but health from their physicians know;
For if I should despair, I should grow mad,
And in my madness might speak ill of thee:
Now this ill-wresting world is grown so bad,
Mad slanderers by mad ears believed be,
That I may not be so, nor thou belied,
Bear thine eyes straight, though thy proud heart go wide.

by William Shakespeare.

(For Sara Teasdale)

The lonely farm, the crowded street,
The palace and the slum,
Give welcome to my silent feet
As, bearing gifts, I come.

Last night a beggar crouched alone,
A ragged helpless thing;
I set him on a moonbeam throne --
Today he is a king.

Last night a king in orb and crown
Held court with splendid cheer;
Today he tears his purple gown
And moans and shrieks in fear.

Not iron bars, nor flashing spears,
Not land, nor sky, nor sea,
Nor love's artillery of tears
Can keep mine own from me.

Serene, unchanging, ever fair,
I smile with secret mirth
And in a net of mine own hair
I swing the captive earth.

by Joyce Kilmer.

The Love Sonnets Of Proteus. Part Iii: Gods And False Gods: Lxxix

AMOUR OBLIGE
I could forgive you, dearest, all the folly
Your heart has dreamed. Alas, as we grow old,
We need more vigorous cures for melancholy,
A stronger nutriment for hearts grown cold.
We need in face of weakness to be bold.
We need our folly to keep fate at bay.
Oh, we need madness in the manifold
Doubts and despairs which herald our decay.
I could forgive you all and more than all.
Yet, dearest, though for us fate waves his hand
And we accept it as the common lot
To meet no more at this life's festival,
It were unseemly you should take your stand,
Now my heart's citadel is laid in siege,
In open field with those who love me not.
Love has a rank which surely should oblige.

by Wilfrid Scawen Blunt.

Why Should Not Old Men Be Mad?

WHY should not old men be mad?
Some have known a likely lad
That had a sound fly-fisher's wrist
Turn to a drunken journalist;
A girl that knew all Dante once
Live to bear children to a dunce;
A Helen of social welfare dream,
Climb on a wagonette to scream.
Some think it a matter of course that chance
Should starve good men and bad advance,
That if their neighbours figured plain,
As though upon a lighted screen,
No single story would they find
Of an unbroken happy mind,
A finish worthy of the start.
Young men know nothing of this sort,
Observant old men know it well;
And when they know what old books tell
And that no better can be had,
Know why an old man should be mad.

by William Butler Yeats.

Crazy Jane Grown Old Looks At The Dancers

I found that ivory image there
Dancing with her chosen youth,
But when he wound her coal-black hair
As though to strangle her, no scream
Or bodily movement did I dare,
Eyes under eyelids did so gleam;
Love is like the lion's tooth.

When She, and though some said she played
I said that she had danced heart's truth,
Drew a knife to strike him dead,
I could but leave him to his fate;
For no matter what is said
They had all that had their hate;
Love is like the lion's tooth.

Did he die or did she die?
Seemed to die or died they both?
God be with the times when I
Cared not a thraneen for what chanced
So that I had the limbs to try
Such a dance as there was danced -
Love is like the lion's tooth.

by William Butler Yeats.

(A Pharaoh Speaks.)

I said, "Why should a pyramid
Stand always dully on its base?
I'll change it! Let the top be hid,
The bottom take the apex-place!"
And as I bade they did.

The people flocked in, scores on scores,
To see it balance on its tip.
They praised me with the praise that bores,
My godlike mind on every lip.
-- Until it fell, of course.

And then they took my body out
From my crushed palace, mad with rage,
-- Well, half the town WAS wrecked, no doubt --
Their crazy anger to assuage
By dragging it about.

The end? Foul birds defile my skull.
The new king's praises fill the land.
He clings to precept, simple, dull;
HIS pyramids on bases stand.
But -- Lord, how usual!

by Stephen Vincent Benet.

Ghosts Of A Lunatic Asylum

Here, where men's eyes were empty and as bright
As the blank windows set in glaring brick,
When the wind strengthens from the sea - and night
Drops like a fog and makes the breath come thick;

By the deserted paths, the vacant halls,
One may see figures, twisted shades and lean,
Like the mad shapes that crawl an Indian screen,
Or paunchy smears you find on prison walls.

Turn the knob gently! There's the Thumbless Man,
Still weaving glass and silk into a dream,
Although the wall shows through him - and the Khan
Journeys Cathay beside a paper stream.

A Rabbit Woman chitters by the door -
- Chilly the grave-smell comes from the turned sod -
Come - lift the curtain - and be cold before
The silence of the eight men who were God!

by Stephen Vincent Benet.

Ghosts Of A Lunatic Asylum

Here, where men's eyes were empty and as bright
As the blank windows set in glaring brick,
When the wind strengthens from the sea -- and night
Drops like a fog and makes the breath come thick;

By the deserted paths, the vacant halls,
One may see figures, twisted shades and lean,
Like the mad shapes that crawl an Indian screen,
Or paunchy smears you find on prison walls.

Turn the knob gently! There's the Thumbless Man,
Still weaving glass and silk into a dream,
Although the wall shows through him -- and the Khan
Journeys Cathay beside a paper stream.

A Rabbit Woman chitters by the door --
-- Chilly the grave-smell comes from the turned sod --
Come -- lift the curtain -- and be cold before
The silence of the eight men who were God!

by Stephen Vincent Benet.

In Memoriam W.M & E.B.J.

Mad are we all, maids, men, young fools alike and old,
All we that wander blind and want the with to dare.
Dark through the world we go, dazed sheep, across life's wold,
Edged from the flowers we loved by our herd's crook of care.
Life? Have we lived it? No. We were not as these were,
Intent, untiring souls who proved time till their death.
Nay we were sluggards, all, how crazed in our despair
Each day of their fame won here nobly witnesseth.
--What is life's wealth? To do. Its loss? To dream and wait.
Years vanish unfulfilled; but work achieved lives on.
Not all Time's beauty died when these two fell asleep.
Dear Madeline, if we grieve our own less strenuous fate,
Heaven send us still this strength, this joy, now they are gone
At least like these to love, even though mad fools we weep.

by Wilfrid Scawen Blunt.

'I am the sun!' the poet yelled,
And danced upon the strand.
'I am the sun!' He tightly held
Some money in his hand;
'I gild the clouds with good red gold
Each evening when I sink!
'Tis better far, so I am told,
Than spending it on drink!'

'I am the moon!' he shouted then,
And leaped with joy insane.
'I spill my silver freely when
I've earned it with my brain;
It floats on water easily
And winks up at the stars;
I'll rather dropp it in the sea
Than in the private bars!'

'Observe me gild the clouds!' (He cast
A gold coin at the blue.)
'Here's moonlight!' (And a shilling passed
And fell the sea into.)
'That's all I've got,' the madman said;
'Now, honest people, mark!
You'd better all go home to bed
The whole world now is dark!'

by Ernest O'Ferrall.

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