Sympathy

S
Erinna by Letitia Elizabeth Landon
Letitia Elizabeth Landon
Was she of spirit race, or was she one
Of earth's least earthly daughters, one to whom
A gift of loveliness and soul is given,
Only to make them wretched?There is an antique gem, on which her brow
Retains its graven beauty even now.
Her hair is braided, but one curl behind
Floats as enamour'd of the summer wind;
The rest is simple. Is she not too fair
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Lines of Life by Letitia Elizabeth Landon
Letitia Elizabeth Landon

Orphan in my first years, I early learnt
To make my heart suffice itself, and seek
Support and sympathy in its own depths.
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Käthe Kollwitz by Muriel Rukeyser
Muriel Rukeyser
1
Held between wars
my lifetime
among wars, the big hands of the world of death
my lifetime
listens to yours.

The faces of the sufferers
in the street, in dailiness,
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My Nodebook for December by Keith Waldrop
Keith Waldrop
for Ihab Hassan 1

Closing the door is supposed to open some
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Among School Children by William Butler Yeats
William Butler Yeats
I

I walk through the long schoolroom questioning;
A kind old nun in a white hood replies;
The children learn to cipher and to sing,
To study reading-books and history,
To cut and sew, be neat in everything
In the best modern way—the children's eyes
In momentary wonder stare upon
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Venus and Adonis by William Shakespeare
William Shakespeare
Even as the sun with purple-colour’d face
Had ta’en his last leave of the weeping morn,
Rose-cheek’d Adonis tried him to the chase;
Hunting he lov’d, but love he laugh’d to scorn;
Sick-thoughted Venus makes amain unto him,
And like a bold-fac’d suitor ‘gins to woo him.

‘Thrice fairer than myself,’ thus she began,
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“Majesty” by Keith Waldrop
Keith Waldrop
Among other economies, I’m of two
minds, one possessed, the other
a deep peace. Violent trembling
seizes me, launched in the interval.

Enemy of children, of quaint little
things, of jokes and pictures. Enemy
of comic papers and caricatures, of
water-drinking. Too short for tragedy.
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from The Botanic Garden, “The Economy of Vegetation”: Canto I by Erasmus Darwin
Erasmus Darwin
Argument

The Genius of the place invites the Goddess of Botany, 1. She descends, is received by Spring, and the Elements, 59. Addresses the Nymphs of Fire. Star-light Night seen in the Camera Obscura, 81. I. Love created the Universe. Chaos explodes. All the Stars revolve. God, 97. II. Shooting Stars. Lightning. Rainbow. Colours of the Morning and Evening Skies. Exterior Atmosphere of inflammable Air. Twilight. Fire-balls. Aurora Borealis. Planets. Comets. Fixed Stars. Sun’s Orb, 115. III. 1. Fires of the Earth’s Centre. Animal Incubation, 137. 2. Volcanic Mountains. Venus visits the Cyclops, 149. IV. Heat confined on the Earth by the Air. Phosphoric lights in the Evening. Bolognian Stone. Calcined Shells. Memnon’s Harp, 173. Ignis fatuus. Luminous Flowers. Glow-worm. Fire-fly. Luminous Sea-insects. Electric Eel. Eagle armed with Lightning, 189. V. 1. Discovery of Fire. Medusa, 209. 2. The chemical Properties of Fire. Phosphorus. Lady in Love, 223. 3. Gunpowder, 237. VI. Steam-engine applied to Pumps, Bellows, Water-engines, Corn-mills, Coining, Barges, Waggons, Flying-chariots, 253. Labours of Hercules. Abyla and Calpe, 297. VII. 1. Electric Machine. Hesperian Dragon. Electric Kiss. Halo round the heads of Saints. Electric Shock. Fairy-rings, 335. 2. Death of Professor Richman, 371. 3. Franklin draws Lightning from the Clouds. Cupid snatches the Thunderbolt from Jupiter, 383. VIII. Phosphoric Acid and Vital Heat produced in the Blood. The great Egg of Night, 399. IX. Western Wind unfettered. Naiad released. Frost assailed. Whale attacked, 421. X. Buds and Flowers expanded by Warmth, Electricity, and Light. Drawings with colourless sympathetic Inks; which appear when warmed by the Fire, 457. XI. Sirius. Jupiter and Semele. Nothern Constellations. Ice-Islands navigated into the Tropic Seas. Rainy Monsoons, 497. XII. Points erected to procure Rain. Elijah on Mount Carmel, 549. Departure of the Nymphs of Fire like Sparks from artificial Fireworks, 587.

“Stay your rude steps; whose throbbing breasts infold
The legion-fiends of Glory, or of Gold!
Stay! whose false lips seductive simpers part,
While Cunning nestles in the harlot-heart!—
For you no Dryads dress the roseate bower,
For you no Nymphs their sparkling vases pour;
Unmark’d by you, light Graces swim the green,
And hovering Cupids aim their shafts, unseen.

“But Thou! whose mind the well-attemper’d ray
Of Taste and Virtue lights with purer day;
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‘One morn I left him in his bed’ by Elizabeth Drew Barstow Stoddard
Elizabeth Drew Barstow Stoddard
One morn I left him in his bed;
A moment after some one said,
‘Your child is dying – he is dead.’

We made him ready for his rest,
Flowers in his hair, and on his breast
His little hands together prest.

We sailed by night across the sea;
So, floating from the world were we,
Apart from sympathy, we Three.

The wild sea moaned, the black clouds spread
Moving shadows on its bed,
But one of us lay midship dead.
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Meditations by Margaret Fuller
Margaret Fuller
Sunday, 12 May 1833 The clouds are marshalling across the sky,
Leaving their deepest tints upon yon range
Of soul-alluring hills. The breeze comes softly,
Laden with tribute that a hundred orchards
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A Mother to Her Waking Infant by Joanna Baillie
Joanna Baillie
Now in thy dazzling half-oped eye,
Thy curled nose and lip awry,
Uphoisted arms and noddling head,
And little chin with crystal spread,
Poor helpless thing! what do I see,
That I should sing of thee?

From thy poor tongue no accents come,
Which can but rub thy toothless gum:
Small understanding boasts thy face,
Thy shapeless limbs nor step nor grace:
A few short words thy feats may tell,
And yet I love thee well.

When wakes the sudden bitter shriek,
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Rain by Edward Thomas
Edward Thomas
Rain, midnight rain, nothing but the wild rain
On this bleak hut, and solitude, and me
Remembering again that I shall die
And neither hear the rain nor give it thanks
For washing me cleaner than I have been
Since I was born into this solitude.
Blessed are the dead that the rain rains upon:
But here I pray that none whom once I loved
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The Misanthropist by James Monroe Whitfield
James Monroe Whitfield
In vain thou bid’st me strike the lyre,
And sing a song of mirth and glee,
Or, kindling with poetic fire,
Attempt some higher minstrelsy;
In vain, in vain! for every thought
That issues from this throbbing brain,
Is from its first conception fraught
With gloom and darkness, woe and pain.
From earliest youth my path has been
Cast in life’s darkest, deepest shade,
Where no bright ray did intervene,
Nor e’er a passing sunbeam strayed;
But all was dark and cheerless night,
Without one ray of hopeful light.
From childhood, then, through many a shock,
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The Mother’s Return by Dorothy Wordsworth
Dorothy Wordsworth
A month, sweet Little-ones, is past
Since your dear Mother went away,
And she tomorrow will return;
Tomorrow is the happy day.

O blessed tidings! thoughts of joy!
The eldest heard with steady glee;
Silent he stood; then laughed amain,
And shouted, ‘Mother, come to me!’

Louder and louder did he shout,
With witless hope to bring her near!
‘Nay, patience! patience, little boy;
Your tender mother cannot hear.’

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from The Prelude: Book 1: Childhood and School-time by William Wordsworth
William Wordsworth
—Was it for this
That one, the fairest of all Rivers, lov'd
To blend his murmurs with my Nurse's song,
And from his alder shades and rocky falls,
And from his fords and shallows, sent a voice
That flow'd along my dreams? For this, didst Thou,
O Derwent! travelling over the green Plains
Near my 'sweet Birthplace', didst thou, beauteous Stream
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from The Prelude: Book 2: School-time (Continued) by William Wordsworth
William Wordsworth
Thus far, O Friend! have we, though leaving much
Unvisited, endeavour'd to retrace
My life through its first years, and measured back
The way I travell'd when I first began
To love the woods and fields; the passion yet
Was in its birth, sustain'd, as might befal,
By nourishment that came unsought, for still,
From week to week, from month to month, we liv'd
A round of tumult: duly were our games
Prolong'd in summer till the day-light fail'd;
No chair remain'd before the doors, the bench
And threshold steps were empty; fast asleep
The Labourer, and the old Man who had sate,
A later lingerer, yet the revelry
Continued, and the loud uproar: at last,
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Collision by Miroslav Holub
Miroslav Holub
To think I might have been dead,
he said to himself, ashamed, as if this were
a curse of the heart, raising a bundle of bones
to a man’s height. As if it were suddenly
forbidden to touch even words that had dropped to the ground.
Besides, he was afraid of finding
his body in a metal press. Embarrassing
down to the capillaries.
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Goose by Richard Emil Braun
Richard Emil Braun
Trailing her father, bearing his hand axe,
the girl thought she had never
guessed what earthly majesty
was before

then, as he strode unconcernedly
holding a vicious gander
by the horny mitts and let
the big wings
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Hymn to Life by James Schuyler
James Schuyler
The wind rests its cheek upon the ground and feels the cool damp
And lifts its head with twigs and small dead blades of grass
Pressed into it as you might at the beach rise up and brush away
The sand. The day is cool and says, “I’m just staying overnight.”
The world is filled with music, and in between the music, silence
And varying the silence all sorts of sounds, natural and man made:
There goes a plane, some cars, geese that honk and, not here, but
Not so far away, a scream so rending that to hear it is to be
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Thanatopsis by William Cullen Bryant
William Cullen Bryant
To him who in the love of Nature holds
Communion with her visible forms, she speaks
A various language; for his gayer hours
She has a voice of gladness, and a smile
And eloquence of beauty, and she glides
Into his darker musings, with a mild
And healing sympathy, that steals away
Their sharpness, ere he is aware. When thoughts
Of the last bitter hour come like a blight
Over thy spirit, and sad images
Of the stern agony, and shroud, and pall,
And breathless darkness, and the narrow house,
Make thee to shudder, and grow sick at heart;—
Go forth, under the open sky, and list
To Nature’s teachings, while from all around—
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A Vision of Poesy by Henry Timrod
Henry Timrod
PART I

I
In a far country, and a distant age,
Ere sprites and fays had bade farewell to earth,
A boy was born of humble parentage;
The stars that shone upon his lonely birth
Did seem to promise sovereignty and fame—
Yet no tradition hath preserved his name.

II
’T is said that on the night when he was born,
A beauteous shape swept slowly through the room;
Its eyes broke on the infant like a morn,
And his cheek brightened like a rose in bloom;
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Alastor; or, The Spirit of Solitude by Percy Bysshe Shelley
Percy Bysshe Shelley
Nondum amabam, et amare amabam, quaerebam quid amarem, amans amare.—
Confess. St. August. Earth, ocean, air, belovèd brotherhood!
If our great Mother has imbued my soul
With aught of natural piety to feel
Your love, and recompense the boon with mine;
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Christabel by Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Samuel Taylor Coleridge
PART I
'Tis the middle of night by the castle clock,
And the owls have awakened the crowing cock;
Tu—whit! Tu—whoo!
And hark, again! the crowing cock,
How drowsily it crew.
Sir Leoline, the Baron rich,
Hath a toothless mastiff bitch;
From her kennel beneath the rock
She maketh answer to the clock,
Four for the quarters, and twelve for the hour;
Ever and aye, by shine and shower,
Sixteen short howls, not over loud;
Some say, she sees my lady's shroud.

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Cleon by Robert Browning
Robert Browning
"As certain also of your own poets have said"—
(Acts 17.28)
Cleon the poet (from the sprinkled isles,
Lily on lily, that o'erlace the sea
And laugh their pride when the light wave lisps "Greece")—
To Protus in his Tyranny: much health!
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Deep South by Thomas McGrath
Thomas McGrath
Baton Rouge, 1940 These are savannas bluer than your dreams
Where other loves are fashioned to older music,
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Heart’s Needle by W. D. Snodgrass
W. D. Snodgrass
For Cynthia

When he would not return to fine garments and good food, to his houses and his people, Loingseachan told him, “Your father is dead.” “I’m sorry to hear it,” he said. “Your mother is dead,” said the lad. “All pity for me has gone out of the world.” “Your sister, too, is dead.” “The mild sun rests on every ditch,” he said; “a sister loves even though not loved.” “Suibhne, your daughter is dead.” “And an only daughter is the needle of the heart.” “And Suibhne, your little boy, who used to call you “Daddy”—he is dead.” “Aye,” said Suibhne, “that’s the drop that brings a man to the ground.”
He fell out of the yew tree; Loingseachan closed his arms around him and placed him in manacles.—AFTER THE MIDDLE-IRISH ROMANCE, THE MADNESS OF SUIBHNE
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I Sing the Body Electric by Walt Whitman
Walt Whitman
1
I sing the body electric,
The armies of those I love engirth me and I engirth them,
They will not let me off till I go with them, respond to them,
And discorrupt them, and charge them full with the charge of the soul.

Was it doubted that those who corrupt their own bodies conceal themselves?
And if those who defile the living are as bad as they who defile the dead?
And if the body does not do fully as much as the soul?
And if the body were not the soul, what is the soul?

2
The love of the body of man or woman balks account, the body itself balks account,
That of the male is perfect, and that of the female is perfect.

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In Memoriam A. H. H. OBIIT MDCCCXXXIII: 30 by Alfred, Lord Tennyson
Alfred, Lord Tennyson
With trembling fingers did we weave
The holly round the Christmas hearth;
A rainy cloud possess'd the earth,
And sadly fell our Christmas-eve.

At our old pastimes in the hall
We gambol'd, making vain pretence
Of gladness, with an awful sense
Of one mute Shadow watching all.

We paused: the winds were in the beech:
We heard them sweep the winter land;
And in a circle hand-in-hand
Sat silent, looking each at each.

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The Life of Lincoln West by Gwendolyn Brooks
Gwendolyn Brooks
Ugliest little boy
that everyone ever saw.
That is what everyone said.

Even to his mother it was apparent—
when the blue-aproned nurse came into the
northeast end of the maternity ward
bearing his squeals and plump bottom
looped up in a scant receiving blanket,
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Ode: Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood by William Wordsworth
William Wordsworth
The child is father of the man;
And I could wish my days to be
Bound each to each by natural piety.
(Wordsworth, "My Heart Leaps Up")
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Portrait of a Lady by T. S. Eliot
T. S. Eliot
Thou hast committed—
Fornication: but that was in another country,
And besides, the wench is dead.
The Jew of Malta I
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Self-Dependence by Matthew Arnold
Matthew Arnold
Weary of myself, and sick of asking
What I am, and what I ought to be,
At this vessel's prow I stand, which bears me
Forwards, forwards, o'er the starlit sea.

And a look of passionate desire
O'er the sea and to the stars I send:
"Ye who from my childhood up have calm'd me,
Calm me, ah, compose me to the end!

"Ah, once more," I cried, "ye stars, ye waters,
On my heart your mighty charm renew;
Still, still let me, as I gaze upon you,
Feel my soul becoming vast like you!"

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Song at the Feast of Brougham Castle upon the Restoration of Lord Clifford, the Shepherd, to the Estates and Honours of his Ancestors by William Wordsworth
William Wordsworth
High in the breathless Hall the Minstrel sate,
And Emont's murmur mingled with the Song.—
The words of ancient time I thus translate,
A festal strain that hath been silent long:—

"From town to town, from tower to tower,
The red rose is a gladsome flower.
Her thirty years of winter past,
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The Star-splitter by Robert Frost
Robert Frost
"You know Orion always comes up sideways.
Throwing a leg up over our fence of mountains,
And rising on his hands, he looks in on me
Busy outdoors by lantern-light with something
I should have done by daylight, and indeed,
After the ground is frozen, I should have done
Before it froze, and a gust flings a handful
Of waste leaves at my smoky lantern chimney
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To a Skylark by Percy Bysshe Shelley
Percy Bysshe Shelley
Hail to thee, blithe Spirit!
Bird thou never wert,
That from Heaven, or near it,
Pourest thy full heart
In profuse strains of unpremeditated art.

Higher still and higher
From the earth thou springest
Like a cloud of fire;
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