Happiness

H
Happiness by Raymond Carver
Raymond Carver
So early it's still almost dark out.
I'm near the window with coffee,
and the usual early morning stuff
that passes for thought.
When I see the boy and his friend
walking up the road
to deliver the newspaper.
They wear caps and sweaters,
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What is Life? by John Clare
John Clare
And what is Life?—An hour-glass on the run,
A Mist retreating from the morning sun,
A busy, bustling, still repeated dream;
Its length?—A minute's pause, a moment's thought;
And happiness?—A bubble on the stream,
That in the act of seizing shrinks to nought.

What are vain Hopes?—The puffing gale of morn,
That of its charms divests the dewy lawn,
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A Word on Statistics by Wisława Szymborska
Wisława Szymborska
Out of every hundred people

those who always know better:
fifty-two.

Unsure of every step:
almost all the rest.

Ready to help,
if it doesn't take long:
forty-nine.
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The Day by Peter Everwine
Peter Everwine
We walked at the edge of the sea, the dog,
still young then, running ahead of us.

Few people. Gulls. A flock of pelicans
circled beyond the swells, then closed
their wings and dropped head-long
into the dazzle of light and sea. You clapped
your hands; the day grew brilliant.

Later we sat at a small table
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Song by Stephen Spender
Stephen Spender
Stranger, you who hide my love
In the curved cheek of a smile
And sleep with her upon a tongue
Of soft lies that beguile,
Your paradisal ecstasy
Is justified is justified
By hunger of the beasts beneath
The overhanging cloud
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Here Today and Gone Tomorrow by Margaret Fishback
Margaret Fishback
Unfortunately happiness
Depends a little more than less
On undependable, and hence
Absurdly charming elements.

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New Born by Stanley Moss
Stanley Moss
The first thing I did against my will is see light.
Older, in my mother’s belly with a good mind,
I sometimes dreamed different kinds of darkness.
I kicked, had sweet dreams and nightmares
something like death, unborn happiness,
blind hallucinations, memories I can’t name
that still push me to act with unborn hands,
all before breathing.
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The Work of Happiness by May Sarton
May Sarton
I thought of happiness, how it is woven
Out of the silence in the empty house each day
And how it is not sudden and it is not given
But is creation itself like the growth of a tree.
No one has seen it happen, but inside the bark
Another circle is growing in the expanding ring.
No one has heard the root go deeper in the dark,
But the tree is lifted by this inward work
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Football Weather by Paul Carroll
Paul Carroll
As a kid I tried to coax its coming
By sleeping beneath light sheets
Weeks before
The funeral of the summer locusts in the yard;
Then when Granny peeled down the crucifix of
flypaper that dangled from the ceiling of the
kitchen
Magic wasn't needed any longer
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“There is a gold light in certain old paintings” by Donald Justice
Donald Justice
1

There is a gold light in certain old paintings
That represents a diffusion of sunlight.
It is like happiness, when we are happy.
It comes from everywhere and from nowhere at once, this light,
And the poor soldiers sprawled at the foot of the cross
Share in its charity equally with the cross.

2
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After the War by May Wedderburn Cannan
May Wedderburn Cannan
After the war perhaps I'll sit again
Out on the terrace where I sat with you,
And see the changeless sky and hills beat blue
And live an afternoon of summer through.

I shall remember then, and sad at heart
For the lost day of happiness we knew,
Wish only that some other man were you
And spoke my name as once you used to do.
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Sonnet 10: I have sought Happiness, but it has been by Alan Seeger
Alan Seeger
I have sought Happiness, but it has been
A lovely rainbow, baffling all pursuit,
And tasted Pleasure, but it was a fruit
More fair of outward hue than sweet within.
Renouncing both, a flake in the ferment
Of battling hosts that conquer or recoil,
There only, chastened by fatigue and toil,
I knew what came the nearest to content.
For there at least my troubled flesh was free
From the gadfly Desire that plagued it so;
Discord and Strife were what I used to know,
Heartaches, deception, murderous jealousy;
By War transported far from all of these,
Amid the clash of arms I was at peace.
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The Afterlife by Roy Fisher
Roy Fisher
I’ve lived within half a mile of it
for twenty years. West
by the black iron weather-hen
half-strangled with clematis
on the garage roof
I can locate it. Past a low ridge
in the cliff face of a limestone dale
there’s a cave in the bushes.
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Lives by Arthur Rimbaud
Arthur Rimbaud
I Oh! the huge avenues of the holy land, the terraces of the temple! What has happened to the brahmin who taught me the Proverbs? From then and from there I can still see even the old women! I remember silvery hours and sun near rivers, the hand of the country on my shoulder, and our caresses as we stood in the fiery fields. —A flight of red pigeons thunders around my thoughts—In exile here I had a stage on which to perform the dramatic masterpieces of all literatures. I might tell you about unheard-of wealth. I follow the story of the treasures you found. I see the next chapter! My wisdom is as neglected as chaos is. What is my void, compared with the stupefaction awaiting you?II I am a far more deserving inventor than all those who went before me; a musician, in fact, who found something resembling the key of love. At present, a noble from a meager countryside with a dark sky I try to feel emotion over the memory of mendicant childhood, over my apprenticeship when I arrived wearing wooden shoes, polemics, five or six widowings, and a few wild escapades when my strong head kept me from rising to the same pitch as my comrades. I don’t miss what I once possessed of divine happiness: the calm of this despondent countryside gives a new vigor to my terrible scepticism. But since this scepticism can no longer be put into effect, and since I am now given over to a new worry—I expect to become a very wicked fool.III In an attic where at the age of twelve I was locked up, I knew the world and illustrated the human comedy. In a wine cellar I learned history. At some night celebration, in a northern city, I met all the wives of former painters. In an old back street in Paris I was taught the classical sciences. In a magnificent palace, surrounded by all the Orient, I finished my long work and spent my celebrated retirement. I have invigorated my blood. I am released from my duty. I must not even think of that any longer. I am really from beyond the tomb, and without work.
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Moonlight by Paul Verlaine
Paul Verlaine
Your soul is like a landscape fantasy,
Where masks and Bergamasks, in charming wise,
Strum lutes and dance, just a bit sad to be
Hidden beneath their fanciful disguise.

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Afternoon Happiness by Carolyn Kizer
Carolyn Kizer
for John At a party I spy a handsome psychiatrist,
And wish, as we all do, to get her advice for free.
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Poem for Haruko by June Jordan
June Jordan
I never thought I’d keep a record of my pain
or happiness
like candles lighting the entire soft lace
of the air
around the full length of your hair/a shower
organized by God
in brown and auburn
undulations luminous like particles
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The Rain by Robert Creeley
Robert Creeley
All night the sound had
come back again,
and again falls
this quiet, persistent rain.

What am I to myself
that must be remembered,
insisted upon
so often? Is it
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Variations Done for Gerald Van De Wiele by Charles Olson
Charles Olson
I. Le Bonheur

dogwood flakes
what is green

the petals
from the apple
blow on the road

mourning doves
mark the sway
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from The Spring Flowers Own: “This unfinished business of my / childhood” by Etel Adnan
Etel Adnan
This unfinished business of my childhood this emerald lake from my journey’s other side
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In the Jewish Synagogue at Newport by Emma Lazarus
Emma Lazarus

Here, where the noises of the busy town,
The ocean's plunge and roar can enter not,
We stand and gaze around with tearful awe,
And muse upon the consecrated spot.

No signs of life are here: the very prayers
Inscribed around are in a language dead;
The light of the "perpetual lamp" is spent
That an undying radiance was to shed.

What prayers were in this temple offered up,
Wrung from sad hearts that knew no joy on earth,
By these lone exiles of a thousand years,
From the fair sunrise land that gave them birth!
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Pain in the House by Eleanor Ross Taylor
Eleanor Ross Taylor
Feeling her head pick up her body,
question mark,
blurred misstamped question mark
snakes out of   bed,
trying to  jiggle unhappiness
as little as possible,
not to wake pain,
not to raise a shade,
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Leviathan by George Oppen
George Oppen
Truth also is the pursuit of it:
Like happiness, and it will not stand.

Even the verse begins to eat away
In the acid. Pursuit, pursuit;

A wind moves a little,
Moving in a circle, very cold.

How shall we say?
In ordinary discourse—
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Many in the Darkness by Thomas McGrath
Thomas McGrath
November 1941 We sat in the park, but there was a war between us,
A dead moon over us and all around us
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Eating Poetry by Mark Strand
Mark Strand
Ink runs from the corners of my mouth.
There is no happiness like mine.
I have been eating poetry.

The librarian does not believe what she sees.
Her eyes are sad
and she walks with her hands in her dress.

The poems are gone.
The light is dim.
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In Love with You by Kenneth Koch
Kenneth Koch

I

O what a physical effect it has on me
To dive forever into the light blue sea
Of your acquaintance! Ah, but dearest friends,
Like forms, are finished, as life has ends! Still,
It is beautiful, when October
Is over, and February is over,
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vocabulary I by Robin Blaser
Robin Blaser
let me get the vocabulary of this song
right—the curious happiness of poetry—
the word materialism dropped by the way
side—its mereness of the other face of
spiritualism—just two notes to sing—
repetitious dualism—do—do—once in a while
one squawks louder than the other, baby
crows being weaned before the next batch—
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Love Song for Alex, 1979 by Margaret Walker
Margaret Walker
My monkey-wrench man is my sweet patootie;
the lover of my life, my youth and age.
My heart belongs to him and to him only;
the children of my flesh are his and bear his rage
Now grown to years advancing through the dozens
the honeyed kiss, the lips of wine and fire
fade blissfully into the distant years of yonder
but all my days of Happiness and wonder
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If I Had Known by Alice Moore Dunbar-Nelson
Alice Moore Dunbar-Nelson
If I had known
Two years ago how drear this life should be,
And crowd upon itself allstrangely sad,
Mayhap another song would burst from out my lips,
Overflowing with the happiness of future hopes;
Mayhap another throb than that of joy.
Have stirred my soul into its inmost depths,
If I had known.

If I had known,
Two years ago the impotence of love,
The vainness of a kiss, how barren a caress,
Mayhap my soul to higher things have soarn,
Nor clung to earthly loves and tender dreams,
But ever up aloft into the blue empyrean,
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the rites for Cousin Vit by Gwendolyn Brooks
Gwendolyn Brooks
Carried her unprotesting out the door.
Kicked back the casket-stand. But it can't hold her,
That stuff and satin aiming to enfold her,
The lid's contrition nor the bolts before.
Oh oh. Too much. Too much. Even now, surmise,
She rises in the sunshine. There she goes,
Back to the bars she knew and the repose
In love-rooms and the things in people's eyes.
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The Wind at the Door by William Barnes
William Barnes
As day did darken on the dewless grass,
There, still, wi’ nwone a-come by me
To stay a-while at hwome by me
Within the house, all dumb by me,
I zot me sad as the eventide did pass.

An’ there a win’blast shook the rattlèn door,
An’ seemed, as win’ did mwoan without,
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A Toast for Men Yun-Ch’ing by Du Fu
Du Fu
Illimitable happiness,
But grief for our white heads.
We love the long watches of the night, the red candle.
It would be difficult to have too much of meeting,
Let us not be in hurry to talk of separation.
But because the Heaven River will sink,
We had better empty the wine-cups.
To-morrow, at bright dawn, the world’s business will entangle us.
We brush away our tears,
We go—East and West.

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Quest by Georgia Douglas Johnson
Georgia Douglas Johnson
The phantom happiness I sought
O’er every crag and moor;
I paused at every postern gate,
And knocked at every door;

In vain I searched the land and sea,
E’en to the inmost core,
The curtains of eternal night
Descend—my search is o’er.

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1941 by Ruth Stone
Ruth Stone
I wore a large brim hat
like the women in the ads.
How thin I was: such skin.
Yes. It was Indianapolis;
a taste of sin.

You had a natural Afro;
no money for a haircut.
We were in the seedy part;
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Brief reflection on killing the Christmas carp by Miroslav Holub
Miroslav Holub
You take a kitchen-mallet
and a knife
and hit
the right spot, so it doesn’t jerk, for
jerking means only complications and reduces profit.

And the watchers already narrow their eyes, already admire the
dexterity,
already reach for their purses. And paper is ready
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Entirely by Louis MacNeice
Louis MacNeice
If we could get the hang of it entirely
It would take too long;
All we know is the splash of words in passing
And falling twigs of song,
And when we try to eavesdrop on the great
Presences it is rarely
That by a stroke of luck we can appropriate
Even a phrase entirely.
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High Windows by Philip Larkin
Philip Larkin
When I see a couple of kids
And guess he’s fucking her and she’s
Taking pills or wearing a diaphragm,
I know this is paradise

Everyone old has dreamed of all their lives—
Bonds and gestures pushed to one side
Like an outdated combine harvester,
And everyone young going down the long slide
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In Goya’s Greatest Scenes We Seem to See . . . by Lawrence Ferlinghetti
Lawrence Ferlinghetti
In Goya’s greatest scenes we seem to see
the people of the world
exactly at the moment when
they first attained the title of
‘suffering humanity’
They writhe upon the page
in a veritable rage
of adversity
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Love Lives Beyond the Tomb by John Clare
John Clare
Love lives beyond
The tomb, the earth, which fades like dew—
I love the fond,
The faithful, and the true

Love lives in sleep,
'Tis happiness of healthy dreams
Eve’s dews may weep,
But love delightful seems.

'Tis seen in flowers,
And in the even's pearly dew
On earth's green hours,
And in the heaven's eternal blue.

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News by Thomas Traherne
Thomas Traherne
News from a foreign country came,
As if my treasures and my joys lay there;
So much it did my heart inflame,
’Twas wont to call my soul into mine ear;
Which thither went to meet
Th’ approaching sweet,
And on the threshold stood
To entertain the secret good;
It hover’d there
As if ’twould leave mine ear,
And was so eager to embrace
Th’ expected tidings as they came,
That it could change its dwelling place
To meet the voice of fame.

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The Obligation to Be Happy by Linda Pastan
Linda Pastan
It is more onerous
than the rites of beauty
or housework, harder than love.
But you expect it of me casually,
the way you expect the sun
to come up, not in spite of rain
or clouds but because of them.

And so I smile, as if my own fidelity
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Prisoners by Denise Levertov
Denise Levertov
Though the road turn at last
to death’s ordinary door,
and we knock there, ready
to enter and it opens
easily for us,
yet
all the long journey
we shall have gone in chains,
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The Rain by Robert Creeley
Robert Creeley
All night the sound had
come back again,
and again falls
this quiet, persistent rain.

What am I to myself
that must be remembered,
insisted upon
so often? Is it
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Romance by Ruth Stone
Ruth Stone
I went back, as to my relatives.
When I arrived, the elms had been shaved.
But you were all the same.
The buildings, the dry classrooms.
I embraced your eyes, your avenues.
You were fixed in the same expressions.
Your flat voices, your dental work,
like your lips, slipping over words already said.
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A Song by Countess of Winchilsea Anne Finch
Countess of Winchilsea Anne Finch
Love, thou art best of Human Joys,
Our chiefest Happiness below;
All other Pleasures are but Toys,
Musick without Thee is but Noise,
And Beauty but an empty show.

Heav’n , who knew best what Man wou’d move,
And raise his Thoughts above the Brute;
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Song from The Indian Emperor by John Dryden
John Dryden
Ah, fading joy, how quickly art thou past!
Yet we thy ruin haste.
As if the cares of human life were few,
We seek out new:
And follow fate, which would too fast pursue.
See how on every bough the birds express
In their sweet notes their happiness.
They all enjoy and nothing spare;
But on their mother nature lay their care.
Why then should man, the lord of all below,
Such troubles choose to know
As none of all his subjects undergo?

Hark, hark, the waters fall, fall, fall,
And with a murmuring sound
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The Testament of Beauty by Robert Bridges
Robert Bridges
from Book I, Introduction

Man’s Reason is in such deep insolvency to sense,
that tho’ she guide his highest flight heav’nward, and teach him
dignity morals manners and human comfort,
she can delicatly and dangerously bedizen
the rioting joys that fringe the sad pathways of Hell.
Not without alliance of the animal senses
hath she any miracle: Lov’st thou in the blithe hour
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Three Haiku, Two Tanka by Philip Appleman
Philip Appleman
(Kyoto) CONFIDENCE
(after Bashō)

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from To Alexis In Answer to His Poem Against Fruition by Aphra Behn
Aphra Behn
Since man with that inconstancy was born,
To love the absent, and the present scorn
Why do we deck, why do we dress
For such short-lived happiness?
Why do we put attraction on,
Since either way ’tis we must be undone?

They fly if honour take our part,
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Virginity by Anna Swir
Anna Swir
One must be brave to live through
a day. What remains
is nothing but the pleasure of longing—very precious.

Longing
purifies as does flying, strengthens as does an effort,
it fashions the soul
as work
fashions the belly.
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Voices from the Other World by James Merrill
James Merrill
Presently at our touch the teacup stirred,
Then circled lazily about
From A to Z. The first voice heard
(If they are voices, these mute spellers-out)
Was that of an engineer

Originally from Cologne.
Dead in his 22nd year
Of cholera in Cairo, he had KNOWN
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"Why art thou silent! Is thy love a plant" by William Wordsworth
William Wordsworth
Why art thou silent! Is thy love a plant
Of such weak fibre that the treacherous air
Of absence withers what was once so fair?
Is there no debt to pay, no boon to grant?
Yet have my thoughts for thee been vigilant—
Bound to thy service with unceasing care,
The mind’s least generous wish a mendicant
For nought but what thy happiness could spare.
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“After Experience Taught Me ...” by W. D. Snodgrass
W. D. Snodgrass
After experience taught me that all the ordinary
Surroundings of social life are futile and vain;

I’m going to show you something very
Ugly: someday, it might save your life.

Seeing that none of the things I feared contain
In themselves anything either good or bad

What if you get caught without a knife;
Nothing—even a loop of piano wire;
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Bat by D. H. Lawrence
D. H. Lawrence
At evening, sitting on this terrace,
When the sun from the west, beyond Pisa, beyond the mountains of Carrara
Departs, and the world is taken by surprise ...

When the tired flower of Florence is in gloom beneath the glowing
Brown hills surrounding ...

When under the arches of the Ponte Vecchio
A green light enters against stream, flush from the west,
Against the current of obscure Arno ...
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The Bearer by Hayden Carruth
Hayden Carruth
Like all his people he felt at home in the forest.
The silence beneath great trees, the dimness there,
The distant high rustling of foliage, the clumps
Of fern like little green fountains, patches of sunlight,
Patches of moss and lichen, the occasional
Undergrowth of hazel and holly, was he aware
Of all this? On the contrary his unawareness
Was a kind of gratification, a sense of comfort
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Beat! Beat! Drums! by Walt Whitman
Walt Whitman
Beat! beat! drums!—blow! bugles! blow!
Through the windows—through doors—burst like a ruthless force,
Into the solemn church, and scatter the congregation,
Into the school where the scholar is studying,
Leave not the bridegroom quiet—no happiness must he have now with his bride,
Nor the peaceful farmer any peace, ploughing his field or gathering his grain,
So fierce you whirr and pound you drums—so shrill you bugles blow.

Beat! beat! drums!—blow! bugles! blow!
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A Blessing by James Wright
James Wright
Just off the highway to Rochester, Minnesota,
Twilight bounds softly forth on the grass.
And the eyes of those two Indian ponies
Darken with kindness.
They have come gladly out of the willows
To welcome my friend and me.
We step over the barbed wire into the pasture
Where they have been grazing all day, alone.
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Consolation by Matthew Arnold
Matthew Arnold
Mist clogs the sunshine.
Smoky dwarf houses
Hem me round everywhere;
A vague dejection
Weighs down my soul.

Yet, while I languish,
Everywhere countless
Prospects unroll themselves,
And countless beings
Pass countless moods.

Far hence, in Asia,
On the smooth convent-roofs,
On the gilt terraces,
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Elusive Time by James Laughlin
James Laughlin
In love it may be dangerous
to reckon on time to count

on it time’s here and then
it’s goneI’m not thinking

of death or disaster but of
the slippage the unpredictable

disappearance of days on which
we were depending for happiness.
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The French Revolution as It Appeared to Enthusiasts at Its Commencement by William Wordsworth
William Wordsworth
Oh! pleasant exercise of hope and joy!
For mighty were the auxiliars which then stood
Upon our side, we who were strong in love!
Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive,
But to be young was very heaven!—Oh! times,
In which the meagre, stale, forbidding ways
Of custom, law, and statute, took at once
The attraction of a country in romance!
When Reason seemed the most to assert her rights,
When most intent on making of herself
A prime Enchantress—to assist the work
Which then was going forward in her name!
Not favoured spots alone, but the whole earth,
The beauty wore of promise, that which sets
(As at some moment might not be unfelt
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London, 1802 by William Wordsworth
William Wordsworth

Milton! thou shouldst be living at this hour:
England hath need of thee: she is a fen
Of stagnant waters: altar, sword, and pen,
Fireside, the heroic wealth of hall and bower,
Have forfeited their ancient English dower
Of inward happiness. We are selfish men;
Oh! raise us up, return to us again;
And give us manners, virtue, freedom, power.
Thy soul was like a Star, and dwelt apart:
Thou hadst a voice whose sound was like the sea:
Pure as the naked heavens, majestic, free,
So didst thou travel on life's common way,
In cheerful godliness; and yet thy heart
The lowliest duties on herself did lay.
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Love's Alchemy by John Donne
John Donne
Some that have deeper digg'd love's mine than I,
Say, where his centric happiness doth lie;
I have lov'd, and got, and told,
But should I love, get, tell, till I were old,
I should not find that hidden mystery.
Oh, 'tis imposture all!
And as no chemic yet th'elixir got,
But glorifies his pregnant pot
If by the way to him befall
Some odoriferous thing, or medicinal,
So, lovers dream a rich and long delight,
But get a winter-seeming summer's night.

Our ease, our thrift, our honour, and our day,
Shall we for this vain bubble's shadow pay?
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Modern Love: XXXIV by George Meredith
George Meredith
Madam would speak with me. So, now it comes:
The Deluge or else Fire! She's well, she thanks
My husbandship. Our chain on silence clanks.
Time leers between, above his twiddling thumbs.
Am I quite well? Most excellent in health!
The journals, too, I diligently peruse.
Vesuvius is expected to give news:
Niagara is no noisier. By stealth
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Nutting by William Wordsworth
William Wordsworth

—It seems a day
(I speak of one from many singled out)
One of those heavenly days that cannot die;
When, in the eagerness of boyish hope,
I left our cottage-threshold, sallying forth
With a huge wallet o'er my shoulders slung,
A nutting-crook in hand; and turned my steps
Tow'rd some far-distant wood, a Figure quaint,
Tricked out in proud disguise of cast-off weeds
Which for that service had been husbanded,
By exhortation of my frugal Dame—
Motley accoutrement, of power to smile
At thorns, and brakes, and brambles,—and, in truth,
More ragged than need was! O'er pathless rocks,
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from Of Being Numerous by George Oppen
George Oppen
9

‘Whether, as the intensity of seeing increases, one’s distance from Them, the people, does not also increase’
I know, of course I know, I can enter no other place

Yet I am one of those who from nothing but man’s way of thought and one of his dialects and what has happened to me
Have made poetry

To dream of that beach
For the sake of an instant in the eyes,

The absolute singular
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from Queen Mab: Part VI by Percy Bysshe Shelley
Percy Bysshe Shelley
(excerpt) "Throughout these infinite orbs of mingling light,
Of which yon earth is one, is wide diffus'd
A Spirit of activity and life,
That knows no term, cessation, or decay;
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Romance by Claude McKay
Claude McKay
To clasp you now and feel your head close-pressed,
Scented and warm against my beating breast;

To whisper soft and quivering your name,
And drink the passion burning in your frame;

To lie at full length, taut, with cheek to cheek,
And tease your mouth with kisses till you speak

Love words, mad words, dream words, sweet senseless words,
Melodious like notes of mating birds;
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To The Indifferent Women by Charlotte Anna Perkins Gilman
Charlotte Anna Perkins Gilman
A Sestina You who are happy in a thousand homes,
Or overworked therein, to a dumb peace;
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A Way to Make a Living by James Wright
James Wright
From an epigram by Plato When I was a boy, a relative
Asked for me a job
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Un Citadin / A City Dweller by Jacques Réda
Jacques Réda
The street I walk along I often see
As if I'd long since left the moving surface
Of the world for the endless other side that disperses
Us all some day without return but free

Of care. I apply myself so well to this fragile proceeding
That very quickly my gaze ceases to be
Part of the cloudy clump of hope and memory
I'll have given my name to. But for this to succeed,

A feeling of absolute happiness has to make
Itself felt, as if from outside me, so much
That at that moment the very street has a hunch
That it, the entire city, and its uncertain space

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