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.

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.

O incomparable Giver of life, cut reason loose at last!
Let it wander grey-eyed from vanity to vanity.
Shatter open my skull, pour in it the wine of madness!
Let me be mad, as You; mad with You, with us.
Beyond the sanity of fools is a burning desert
Where Your sun is whirling in every atom:
Beloved, drag me there, let me roast in Perfection!

by Mewlana Jalaluddin Rumi.

Madness Of Love Is No More

mohabbat ka junuu.N baaqii nahii.n hai
musalamaano.n me.n Khuun baaqii nahii.n hai


safe.n kaj, dil pareshan, sajdaa bezuuk
ke jazabaa-e-a.ndruun baaqii nahii.n hai


rago.n me.n lahuu baaqii nahii.n hai
wo dil, wo aawaaz baaqii nahii.n hai


namaaz-o-rozaa-o-qurbaanii-o-haj
ye sab baaqii hai tuu baaqii nahii.n hai

by Allama Muhammad Iqbal.

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.

I Am Mad With Love

I am mad with love
And no one understands my plight.
Only the wounded
Understand the agonies of the wounded,
When the fire rages in the heart.
Only the jeweller knows the value of the jewel,
Not the one who lets it go.
In pain I wander from door to door,
But could not find a doctor.
Says Mira: Harken, my Master,
Mira's pain will subside
When Shyam comes as the doctor.




by Mirabai.

The Snowy Spring Is Raging Mad

The snowy spring is raging mad,
I look away from the saga;
O, dreadful hour, when she read
The palm extended by Tsouniga.

Into his eyes she aimed her gaze,
There was mockery in her dark eyes,
The row of pearly teeth had blazed,
And I forgot all the days and midnights.

The heart got overflowed with blood,
My homeland memories erasing.
A voice would sing, 'With all your being
have to pay me back for love.'

by Aleksandr Aleksandrovich Blok.

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.

The Folly Of Useless Effort

The weeds will but the ranker grow,
If fields too large you seek to till.
To try to gain men far away
With grief your toiling heart will fill,

If fields too large you seek to till,
The weeds will only rise more strong.
To try to gain men far away
Will but your heart's distress prolong.

Things grow the best when to themselves
Left, and to nature's vigor rare.
How young and tender is the child,
With his twin tufts of falling hair!
But when you him ere long behold,
That child shall cap of manhood wear!

by Confucius.

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.

This Mad Carnival Of Loving

This mad carnival of loving,
This wild orgy of the flesh,
Ends at last and we two, sobered,
Look at one another, yawning.

Emptied the inflaming cup
That was filled with sensuous potions,
Foaming, almost running over--
Emptied is the flaming cup.

All the violins are silent
That impelled our feet to dancing,
To the giddy dance of passion--
Silent are the violins.

All the lanterns now are darkened
That once poured their streaming brilliance
On the masquerades and murmurs--
Darkened now are all the lanterns.

by Heinrich Heine.

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.

I Slow Was Losing

I slow was losing my poor mind
By doors of her, with whom I'm crazy.
A day was followed by a night,
Just making my great thirst more blazing.

And I was crying, tired with
My love, was deafening my moans;
And it was doubling in a mist -
The mad thought with its low goals

It was invading the dead lull
Of my poor heart, creasy, already,
And flooded my spring with the dull
Wave, that is soundless and blackened

A day was followed by a night,
Was cooling o'er a grave my soul.
I slow was losing my poor mind
At thinking coldly of my sole.

by Aleksandr Aleksandrovich Blok.

The darkness of the night bewildering
Falls on a world of chaos, and alone
I lie, and listen for the single string
Of Hope, with strainèd ears, but hear no moan
Nor any sound, save only the dull beat
Of my starved heart, that totters on the brink
Of abjectness, reason dethroned, her seat
Usurped by folly. Dear God! let me sink
Forever out of sight in nothingness,
As crazed stars fall from heaven. Woe is me!
Is death too merciful for my distress?
Or does my pain mean nothing unto Thee?
Life's stony road I've suffered passing well,
Now its lone sign-post points to my soul's hell.

by Marian Osborne.

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.

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.

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.

No One Knows My Invisible Life

No one knows my invisible life.
Pain
and madness for Rama.
Our wedding bed is high up
in the gallows.
Meet him?
If the dark healer comes,
we'll negotiate the hurt.
I love the man who takes care
of cows. The cowherd.
Cowherd and dancer.
My eyes are drunk,
worn out from making love
with him. We are one.
I am now his dark color.
People notice me, point fingers at me.
They see my desire,
since I'm walking about like a lunatic.
I'm wiped out, gone.
Yet no one knows I live with my prince,
the cowherd.
The palace can't contain me.
I leave it behind.
I couldn't care less about gossip
or my royal name.
I'll be with him
in all his gardens.

[Translated by Willis Barnstone]

by Mirabai.

The Nuts Of Knowledge

A CABIN on the mountain side hid in a grassy nook
Where door and windows open wide that friendly stars may look.
The rabbit shy can patter in, the winds may enter free,
Who throng around the mountain throne in living ecstasy.

And when the sun sets dimmed in eve and purple fills the air,
I think the sacred Hazel Tree is dropping berries there
From starry fruitage waved aloft where Connla’s Well o’erflows;
For sure the enchanted waters run through every wind that blows.

I think when night towers up aloft and shakes the trembling dew,
How every high and lonely thought that thrills my being through
Is but a ruddy berry dropped down through the purple air,
And from the magic tree of life the fruit falls everywhere.

by George William Russell.

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.

'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.