Scottsboro, Too, Is Worth Its Song
(A poem to American poets)
by Countee Cullen
I said: Now will the poets sing,- Their cries go thundering Like blood and tears Into the nation's ears, Like lightning dart Into the nation's heart. Against disease and death and all things fell, And war, Their strophes rise and swell To jar The foe smug in his citadel. Remembering their sharp and pretty Tunes for Sacco and Vanzetti, I said: Here too's a cause divinely spun For those whose eyes are on the sun, Here in epitome Is all disgrace And epic wrong, Like wine to brace The minstrel heart, and blare it into song. Surely, I said, Now will the poets sing. But they have raised no cry. I wonder why
Any Human to Another
by Countee Cullen
The ills I sorrow at
Not me alone
Like an arrow,
Pierce to the marrow,
Through the fat,
And past the bone.
Your grief and mine
Like sea and river,
Be fused and mingle,
Diverse yet single,
Forever and forever.
Let no man be so proud
To think he is allowed
A little tent
Pitched in a meadow
Of sun and shadow
All his little own.
Joy may be shy, unique,
Friendly to a few,
Sorrow never scorned to speak
To any who
Were false or true.
Your every grief
Like a blade
Shining and unsheathed
Must strike me down.
Of bitter aloes wreathed,
My sorrow must be laid
On your head like a crown.
by Countee Cullen
The straight, the swift, the debonair,
Are targets on the thoroughfare
For every kind appraising eye;
Sweet words are said as they pass by.
But such a strange contrary thing
My heart is, it will never cling
To any bright unblemished thing.
Such have their own security,
And little need to lean on me.
The limb that falters on its course,
And cries, "Not yet!" to waning force;
The orb that may not brave the sun;
The bitter mouth, its kissing done;
The loving heart that must deny
The very love it travels by;
What most has need to bend and pray,
These magnets draw my heart their way.
by Countee Cullen
Not even love,
Though the warm heart purrs
Of the length thereof.
Though beauty wax,
Yet it shall wane;
Time lays a tax
On the subtlest brain.
Let blood riot,
Give it its will;
It shall grow quiet,
It shall grow still.
For all things given;
Love not even.
A Song of Sour Grapes
by Countee Cullen
I wish your body were in the grave,
Deep down as a grave may be,
Or rotting under the deepest wave
That ever ploughed the sea.
I wish I never had seen your face,
Or the sinuous curve of your mouth,
Dear as a straw to a man who drowns
Or rain to a land in drouth.
I would that your mother had never borne
Your father's seed to fruit,
That meadow rats had gnawed his corn
Before it gathered root.
Thou Art Not False, But Thou Art Fickle
by Lord Byron
Thou art not false, but thou art fickle, To those thyself so fondly sought; The tears that thou hast forced to trickle Are doubly bitter from that thought: 'Tis this which breaks the heart thou grievest, Too well thou lov'st - too soon thou leavest. The wholly false the heart despises, And spurns deceiver and deceit; But she who not a thought disguises, Whose love is as sincere as sweet,-- When she can change who loved so truly, It feels what mine has felt so newly. To dream of joy and wake to sorrow Is doomed to all who love or live; And if, when conscious on the morrow, We scarce our Fancy can forgive, That cheated us in slumber only, To leave the waking soul more lonely, What must they feel whom no false vision But truest, tenderest Passion warmed? Sincere, but swift in sad transition: As if a dream alone had charmed? Ah! sure such grief is Fancy's scheming, And all thy Change can be but dreaming!
La Belle Dame Sans Merci
by John Keats
Ah, what can ail thee, wretched wight, Alone and palely loitering? The sedge is wither'd from the lake, And no birds sing. Ah, what can ail thee, wretched wight, So haggard and so woe-begone? The squirrel's granary is full, And the harvest's done. I see a lily on thy brow, With anguish moist and fever dew; And on thy cheeks a fading rose Fast withereth too. I met a lady in the meads, Full beautiful -- a faery's child; Her hair was long, her foot was light, And her eyes were wild. I set her on my pacing steed, And nothing else saw all day long, For sideways would she lean, and sing A faery's song. I made a garland for her head, And bracelets too, and fragrant zone; She look'd at me as she did love, And made sweet moan. She found me roots of relish sweet, And honey wild, and manna dew; And sure in language strange she said-- "I love thee true." She took me to her elfin grot, And there she gazed, and sighed deep, And there I shut her wild wild eyes So kiss'd to sleep. And there we slumber'd on the moss, And there I dream'd - Ah! woe betide! The latest dream I ever dream'd On the cold hill side. I saw pale kings, and princes too, Pale warriors, death-pale were they all; They cried -- "La Belle Dame sans Merci Hath thee in thrall!" I saw their starved lips in the gloam, With horrid warning gaped awide, And I awoke, and found me here On the cold hill side. And this is why I sojourn here, Alone and palely loitering, Though the sedge is wither'd from the lake, And no birds sing.
from Lines Written Among the Euganean Hills
by Percy Bysshe Shelley
Noon descends around me now.
'Tis the noon of autumn's glow;
When a soft and purple mist,
Like a vaporous amethyst,
Or an air-dissolvéd star
Mingling light and fragrance, far
From the curved horizon's bound
To the point of Heaven's profound
Fills the overflowing sky.
And the plains that silent lie
Underneath; the leaves unsodden
Where the infant Frost has trodden
With his morning-wingéd feet
Whose bright print is gleaming yet;
And the red and golden vines,
Piercing with their trellised lines
The rough dark-skirted wilderness;
The dun and bladed grass no less,
Pointing from this hoary tower
In the windless air; the flower
Glimmering at my feet; the line
Of the olive-sandalled Apennine
In the south dimly islanded;
And the Alps, whose snows are spread
High between the clouds and sun;
And of living things each one;
And my spirit, which so long
Darkened this swift stream of long, -
By the glory of the sky;
Be it love, light, harmony,
Odour, or the soul of all
Which from Heaven like dew doth fall,
Or the mind which feeds this verse
Peopling the lone universe.
Noon descends; and after noon
Autumn's evening meets me soon,
Leading the infantine moon,
And that one star which to her
Almost seems to minister
Half the crimson light she brings
From the sunset's radiant springs.
And the soft dreams of the morn
(Which like wingéd winds had borne,
To that silent isle which lies
'Mid remembered agonies,
The frail bark of this lone being)
Pass, to other sufferers fleeing;
And its ancient pilot, Pain,
Sits besides the helm again.
When, in disgrace with fortune and men's eyes,
I all alone beweep my outcast state,
And trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries,
And look upon myself and curse my fate,
Wishing me like to one more rich in hope,
Featured like him, like him with friends possessed,
Desiring this man's art, and that man's scope,
With what I most enjoy contented least;
Yet in these thoughts myself almost despising,
Haply I think on thee, and then my state,
Like to the lark at break of day arising
From sullen earth, sings hymns at heaven's gate;
For thy sweet love remembered such wealth brings
That then I scorn to change my state with kings.
You should look up what the Scottsboro case was if you don't know.
Everything is reprinted from various books without permission. Does anyone mind?