Selected Poetry

This page (a work in progress) is filled with the songs of poets that express the substance of life. True insights on the Good, the True, and the Beautiful.  This poetry, and all like it are the wellspring of knowledge upon which the shallow remarks and quaint references of contemporary popular culture draw, though a greater, more essential Wellspring exists. Feel free to comment, and I’d love your suggestions.


Mock on, Mock on, Voltaire, Rousseau – William Blake

Mock on, Mock on, Voltaire, Rousseau;
Mock on, Mock on, ’tis all in vain.
You throw the sand against the wind,
And the wind blows it back again.

And every sand becomes a Gem
Reflected in the beams divine;
Blown back, they blind the mocking Eye,
But still in Israel’s paths they shine.

The Atoms of Democritus
And Newton’s Particles of light
Are sands upon the Red sea shore,
Where Israel’s tents do shine so bright.


Sonnet 116 – William Shakespeare

Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O no! it is an ever-fixed mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth’s unknown, although his height be taken.
Love’s not Time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle’s compass come:
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.


When I heard the Learn’d Astronomer – Walt Whitman

When I heard the learn’d astronomer,
When the proofs, the figures, were ranged incolumns before me,
When I was shown the charts and diagrams, to add, divide, and measure them,
When I sitting heard the astronomer where he lectured with much applause in the lecture-room,
How soon unaccountable I became tired and sick,
Till rising and gliding out I wander’d off by myself,
In the mystical moist night-air, and from time to time,
Look’d up in perfect silence at the stars.


Annabel Lee – Edgar Allen Poe

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 winged seraphs of 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 highborn kinsman 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 the sepulchre there by the sea,
In her tomb by the sounding sea.


“If” – Rudyard Kipling

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or, being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise;

If you can dream – and not make dreams your master;
If you can think – and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with triumph and disaster
And treat those two imposters just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with wornout tools;

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breath a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: “Hold on”;

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings – nor lose the common touch;
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run –
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And – which is more – you’ll be a Man my son!


He Can Write Only of Her – Samuel Daniel

Let others sing of knights and paladins

In aged accents and untimely words;

Paint shadows in imaginary lines

Which well the reach of their high wits records

But I must sing of thee and thy fair eyes

Authentic shall my verse in time to come

When yet th’unborn shall say “Lo! Where she lies

Whose beauty made him speak that else was dumb.”

These are the arks, the trophies I erect,

That fortify thy name against old age;

And these thy sacred virtues must protect,

Against the dark and Time’s consuming rage.

Though th’error of my youth they shall discover

Suffice they show I lived, and was thy lover.


“The Song of Solomon”  7:10-13

I am my lover’s, and he desires me.
Come, my darling,
let us go out into the fields
and spend the night in villages.
Let us wake early and go to the vineyards
and see if the vine is in blossom.
There I will give you my love.
The mandrakes will spray aroma
and over our door will be precious fruit,
new and old,
which I have saved for you, my darling.
 I adjure you, O daughters of Jerusalem, by the gazelles or the does of the field,
that you not stir up or awaken love until it pleases. (2:7)

Aug. 5th 2011 – my brother
I’ve heard sadness in the abstract whisper of trees,
tired, shifting monoliths that tell their life stories
in rings without being married to the idea
of staying with this forest forever.
When you’re far away in the silence of night
they rustle and dance by the river’s bed,
but between their wet husks and
brittle limbs I imagine your body
is made of flowers
and your fingers are islands that wait for me.

Yet I’ve seen shadow pour through the
convex windows of your eyes,
and a darkness swallow you
in the apertures of constellations
when the sky of your heart is clouded with sorrow.

And I’ve known these trees apart from
the torsional behemoths leaving the beauty of your soils,
and when you’re away they climb through
the nothingness of sky reaching for heaven.

But I’ve heard joy in the abstract whisper of trees,
and when the grey passes like some
leviathan moving between islands
your nature is perfect
and your eyes are lovely and hum of mystery.


Repaying a Debt – Samuel Daniel

Unto the boundless ocean of thy beauty

Runs this poor river, charged with streams of zeal,

Returning thee the tribute of my duty

Which here my love, my youth, my plaints, reveal.

Here I unclasp the book of my charged soul

Where I have cast th’accounts of all my care;

Here I have summed my sighs, here I enroll

How they were spent for thee: Look what they are.

Look on the dear expenses of my youth

And see how just I reckon with thine eyes:

Examine well thy beauty with my truth,

And cross my cares ere greater sums arise.

Read it sweet maid, though it be done but slightly:

Who can show all his love, doth love but lightly.


XXII – A.E. Housman


The street sounds to the soldiers’ tread,

And out we troop to see:

A single redcoat turns his head,

He turns and looks at me.


My man, from sky to sky’s so far,

We never crossed before;

Such leagues apart the world’s ends are,

We’re like to meet no more;


What thoughts at heart have you and I

We cannot stop to tell;

But dead or living, drunk or dry,

Soldier, I wish you well.


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