To the Reader

T
Pray thee, take care, that tak’st my book in hand,
To read it well: that is, to understand.

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The Blessed City by Kahlil Gibran
Kahlil Gibran
In my youth I was told that in a certain city every one lived
according to the Scriptures.

And I said, “I will seek that city and the blessedness thereof.”
And it was far. And I made great provision for my journey. And
after forty days I beheld the city and on the forty-first day I
entered into it.

And lo! the whole company of the inhabitants had each but a single
eye and but one hand. And I was astonished and said to myself,
“Shall they of this so holy city have but one eye and one hand?”

Then I saw that they too were astonished, for they were marveling
greatly at my two hands and my two eyes. And as they were speaking
together I inquired of them saying, “Is this indeed the Blessed
City, where each man lives according to the Scriptures?” And they
said, “Yes, this is that city.”

“And what,” said I, “hath befallen you, and where are your right
eyes and your right hands?”

And all the people were moved. And they said, “Come thou and see.”

And they took me to the temple in the midst of the city. And in
the temple I saw a heap of hands and eyes. All withered. Then said
I, “Alas! what conqueror hath committed this cruelty upon you?”

And there went a murmur amongst them. And one of their elders
stood forth and said, “This doing is of ourselves. God hath made
us conquerors over the evil that was in us.”

And he led me to a high altar, and all the people followed. And
he showed me above the altar an inscription graven, and I read:


“If thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out and cast it from thee;
for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish,
and not that the whole body should be cast into hell. And if thy
right hand offend thee, cut it off and cast it from thee; for it
is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and
not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.”


Then I understood. And I turned about to all the people and cried,
“Hath no man or woman among you two eyes or two hands?”

And they answered me saying, “No, not one. There is none whole save
such as are yet too young to read the Scripture and to understand
its commandment.”

And when we had come out of the temple, I straightway left that
Blessed City; for I was not too young, and I could read the scripture.
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86
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My Friend by Kahlil Gibran
Kahlil Gibran
My friend, I am not what I seem. Seeming is but a garment I wear—a
care-woven garment that protects me from thy questionings and thee
from my negligence.

The “I” in me, my friend, dwells in the house of silence, and
therein it shall remain for ever more, unperceived, unapproachable.

I would not have thee believe in what I say nor trust in what I
do—for my words are naught but thy own thoughts in sound and my
deeds thy own hopes in action.

When thou sayest, “The wind bloweth eastward,” I say, “Aye it doth
blow eastward”; for I would not have thee know that my mind doth
not dwell upon the wind but upon the sea.

Thou canst not understand my seafaring thoughts, nor would I have
thee understand. I would be at sea alone.

When it is day with thee, my friend, it is night with me; yet even
then I speak of the noontide that dances upon the hills and of
the purple shadow that steals its way across the valley; for thou
canst not hear the songs of my darkness nor see my wings beating
against the stars—and I fain would not have thee hear or see. I
would be with night alone.

When thou ascendest to thy Heaven I descend to my Hell—even then
thou callest to me across the unbridgeable gulf, “My companion, my
comrade,” and I call back to thee, “My comrade, my companion”—for
I would not have thee see my Hell. The flame would burn thy eyesight
and the smoke would crowd thy nostrils. And I love my Hell too
well to have thee visit it. I would be in Hell alone.

Thou lovest Truth and Beauty and Righteousness; and I for thy sake
say it is well and seemly to love these things. But in my heart
I laught at thy love. Yet I would not have thee see my laughter.
I would laugh alone.

My friend, thou art good and cautious and wise; nay, thou art
perfect—and I, too, speak with thee wisely and cautiously. And
yet I am mad. But I mask my madness. I would be mad alone.

My friend, thou art not my friend, but how shall I make thee
understand? My path is not thy path, yet together we walk, hand
in hand.
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58
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Book 1, Epigram 39: Ad librum suum. by Thomas Bastard
Thomas Bastard
My little book: who will thou please, tell me?
All which shall read thee? No that cannot be.
Whom then, the best? But few of these are known.
How shall thou know to please, thou know'st not whom?
The meaner sort commend not poetry;
And sure the worst should please themselves for thee:
But let them pass, and set by most no store,
Please thou one well, thou shall not need please more.

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49
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Six Prayers by Ralph Salisbury
Ralph Salisbury
Thunderer God of the turbulent sky may
my turbulent mind shape
for my people
rain clouds
beans
pumpkins
and yams.

East Spirit
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50
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Introductory to Second Edition by Alfred Islay Walden
Alfred Islay Walden
My book is largely growing;
Its leaves are multiplied;
Its pages are much longer,
And nearly twice as wide.

At first I thought the reader
Had not the time to spare,
To hail my little volume
As it floated in the air.

I thought perhaps while floating
Away through empty space,
Perchance would there discover
Some long forgotten race.

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Looking Around by Charles Wright
Charles Wright
I sit where I always sit, in back of the Buddha,
Red leather wing chair, pony skin trunk
under my feet,
Sky light above me, Chinese and Indian rugs on the floor.
1 March, 1998, where to begin again?

Over there's the ur-photograph,
Giorgio Morandi, glasses pushed up on his forehead,
Looking hard at four objects—
Two olive oil tins, one wine bottle, one flower vase,
A universe of form and structure,

The universe constricting in front of his eyes,
angelic orders
And applications scraped down
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Delia 1: Unto the boundless Ocean of thy beauty by Samuel Daniel
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 have I 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 sum arise.
Read it sweet maid, though it be done but slightly;
Who can show all his love, doth love but lightly.
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The Complaint of Lisa by Algernon Charles Swinburne
Algernon Charles Swinburne
(Double Sestina)

DECAMERON, x. 7 There is no woman living that draws breath
So sad as I, though all things sadden her.
There is not one upon life's weariest way
Who is weary as I am weary of all but death.
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76
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Upon Wedlock, and Death of Children by Edward Taylor
Edward Taylor
A Curious Knot God made in Paradise,
And drew it out inamled neatly Fresh.
It was the True-Love Knot, more sweet than spice
And set with all the flowres of Graces dress.
Its Weddens Knot, that ne're can be unti'de.
No Alexanders Sword can it divide.

The slips here planted, gay and glorious grow:
Unless an Hellish breath do sindge their Plumes.
Here Primrose, Cowslips, Roses, Lilies blow
With Violets and Pinkes that voide perfumes.
Whose beautious leaves ore laid with Hony Dew.
And Chanting birds Cherp out sweet Musick true.

When in this Knot I planted was, my Stock
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