“TITHONUS” BY TENNYSON (@PRECIOUS_POETRY)

“Aurora’s Take Off” by Louis Jean Francois Lagrenée

Tithonus
BY ALFRED, LORD TENNYSON

The woods decay, the woods decay and fall,
The vapours weep their burthen to the ground,
Man comes and tills the field and lies beneath,
And after many a summer dies the swan.
Me only cruel immortality
Consumes: I wither slowly in thine arms,
Here at the quiet limit of the world,
A white-hair’d shadow roaming like a dream
The ever-silent spaces of the East,
Far-folded mists, and gleaming halls of morn.

Alas! for this gray shadow, once a man—
So glorious in his beauty and thy choice,
Who madest him thy chosen, that he seem’d
To his great heart none other than a God!
I ask’d thee, ‘Give me immortality.’
Then didst thou grant mine asking with a smile,
Like wealthy men, who care not how they give.
But thy strong Hours indignant work’d their wills,
And beat me down and marr’d and wasted me,
And tho’ they could not end me, left me maim’d
To dwell in presence of immortal youth,
Immortal age beside immortal youth,
And all I was, in ashes. Can thy love,
Thy beauty, make amends, tho’ even now,
Close over us, the silver star, thy guide,
Shines in those tremulous eyes that fill with tears
To hear me? Let me go: take back thy gift:
Why should a man desire in any way
To vary from the kindly race of men
Or pass beyond the goal of ordinance
Where all should pause, as is most meet for all?

A soft air fans the cloud apart; there comes
A glimpse of that dark world where I was born.
Once more the old mysterious glimmer steals
From thy pure brows, and from thy shoulders pure,
And bosom beating with a heart renew’d.
Thy cheek begins to redden thro’ the gloom,
Thy sweet eyes brighten slowly close to mine,
Ere yet they blind the stars, and the wild team
Which love thee, yearning for thy yoke, arise,
And shake the darkness from their loosen’d manes,
And beat the twilight into flakes of fire.

Lo! ever thus thou growest beautiful
In silence, then before thine answer given
Departest, and thy tears are on my cheek.

Why wilt thou ever scare me with thy tears,
And make me tremble lest a saying learnt,
In days far-off, on that dark earth, be true?
‘The Gods themselves cannot recall their gifts.’

Ay me! ay me! with what another heart
In days far-off, and with what other eyes
I used to watch—if I be he that watch’d—
The lucid outline forming round thee; saw
The dim curls kindle into sunny rings;
Changed with thy mystic change, and felt my blood
Glow with the glow that slowly crimson’d all
Thy presence and thy portals, while I lay,
Mouth, forehead, eyelids, growing dewy-warm
With kisses balmier than half-opening buds
Of April, and could hear the lips that kiss’d
Whispering I knew not what of wild and sweet,
Like that strange song I heard Apollo sing,
While Ilion like a mist rose into towers.

Yet hold me not for ever in thine East:
How can my nature longer mix with thine?
Coldly thy rosy shadows bathe me, cold
Are all thy lights, and cold my wrinkled feet
Upon thy glimmering thresholds, when the steam
Floats up from those dim fields about the homes
Of happy men that have the power to die,
And grassy barrows of the happier dead.
Release me, and restore me to the ground;
Thou seëst all things, thou wilt see my grave:
Thou wilt renew thy beauty morn by morn;
I earth in earth forget these empty courts,
And thee returning on thy silver wheels.

PRECIOUS POETRY: “The Song of Hiawatha” by Henry Wadsworth LONGFELLOW (1807 – 1882)

“The Song of Hiawatha”
by Henry Wadsworth LONGFELLOW (1807 – 1882)

Photogaph by Julia Margaret Cameron (1815-1879) in Public Domain

Longfellow’s photo by Julia Margaret Cameron (1815-1879) in Public Domain

WIKIPEDIA – “The Song of Hiawatha is an 1855 epic poem, in trochaic tetrameter, by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, featuring a Native American hero. In sentiment, scope, overall conception, and many particulars, Longfellow’s poem is a work of American Romantic literature, not a representation of Native American oral tradition. Longfellow insisted, “I can give chapter and verse for these legends. Their chief value is that they are Indian legends.”

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Song_of_Hiawatha

THE SONG OF HIAWATHA (Longfellow)

Should you ask me, whence these stories?
Whence these legends and traditions,
With the odors of the forest
With the dew and damp of meadows,
With the curling smoke of wigwams,
With the rushing of great rivers,
With their frequent repetitions,
And their wild reverberations
As of thunder in the mountains?
I should answer, I should tell you,
“From the forests and the prairies,
From the great lakes of the Northland,
From the land of the Ojibways,
From the land of the Dacotahs,
From the mountains, moors, and fen-lands
Where the heron, the Shuh-shuh-gah,
Feeds among the reeds and rushes.
I repeat them as I heard them
From the lips of Nawadaha,
The musician, the sweet singer.”
Should you ask where Nawadaha
Found these songs so wild and wayward,
Found these legends and traditions,
I should answer, I should tell you,
“In the bird’s-nests of the forest,
In the lodges of the beaver,
In the hoof-prints of the bison,
In the eyry of the eagle!
“All the wild-fowl sang them to him,
In the moorlands and the fen-lands,
In the melancholy marshes;
Chetowaik, the plover, sang them,
Mahng, the loon, the wild-goose, Wawa,
The blue heron, the Shuh-shuh-gah,
And the grouse, the Mushkodasa!”
If still further you should ask me,
Saying, “Who was Nawadaha?
Tell us of this Nawadaha,”
I should answer your inquiries
Straightway in such words as follow.
“In the vale of Tawasentha,
In the green and silent valley,
By the pleasant water-courses,
Dwelt the singer Nawadaha.
Round about the Indian village
Spread the meadows and the corn-fields,
And beyond them stood the forest,
Stood the groves of singing pine-trees,
Green in Summer, white in Winter,
Ever sighing, ever singing.
“And the pleasant water-courses,
You could trace them through the valley,
By the rushing in the Spring-time,
By the alders in the Summer,
By the white fog in the Autumn,
By the black line in the Winter;
And beside them dwelt the singer,
In the vale of Tawasentha,
In the green and silent valley.
“There he sang of Hiawatha,
Sang the Song of Hiawatha,
Sang his wondrous birth and being,
How he prayed and how be fasted,
How he lived, and toiled, and suffered,
That the tribes of men might prosper,
That he might advance his people!”
Ye who love the haunts of Nature,
Love the sunshine of the meadow,
Love the shadow of the forest,
Love the wind among the branches,
And the rain-shower and the snow-storm,
And the rushing of great rivers
Through their palisades of pine-trees,
And the thunder in the mountains,
Whose innumerable echoes
Flap like eagles in their eyries;–
Listen to these wild traditions,
To this Song of Hiawatha!
Ye who love a nation’s legends,
Love the ballads of a people,
That like voices from afar off
Call to us to pause and listen,
Speak in tones so plain and childlike,
Scarcely can the ear distinguish
Whether they are sung or spoken;–
Listen to this Indian Legend,
To this Song of Hiawatha!
Ye whose hearts are fresh and simple,
Who have faith in God and Nature,
Who believe that in all ages
Every human heart is human,
That in even savage bosoms
There are longings, yearnings, strivings
For the good they comprehend not,
That the feeble hands and helpless,
Groping blindly in the darkness,
Touch God’s right hand in that darkness
And are lifted up and strengthened;–
Listen to this simple story,
To this Song of Hiawatha!
Ye, who sometimes, in your rambles
Through the green lanes of the country,
Where the tangled barberry-bushes
Hang their tufts of crimson berries
Over stone walls gray with mosses,
Pause by some neglected graveyard,
For a while to muse, and ponder
On a half-effaced inscription,
Written with little skill of song-craft,
Homely phrases, but each letter
Full of hope and yet of heart-break,
Full of all the tender pathos
Of the Here and the Hereafter;–
Stay and read this rude inscription,
Read this Song of Hiawatha!

[READ IT ALL!] [ANOTHER OPTION]

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AUDIOBOOK:

DOWNLOAD: The Complete Poetical Works of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

OPEN PDF: Longfellow’s Poems 

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“GITANJALI – SONG OFFERINGS” by Rabindranath TAGORE (1861-1941) [Nobel Prize for Literature, 1913]

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Rabindranath TAGORE (1861-1941) [Nobel Prize for Literature, 1913]

“GITANJALI – SONG OFFERINGS” 

DOWNLOAD EBOOK (PDF)

Thou hast made me endless, such is thy
pleasure. This frail vessel thou emptiest
again and again, and fillest it ever with
fresh life.

This little flute of a reed thou hast carried
over hills and dales, and hast breathed
through it melodies eternally new.

At the immortal touch of thy hands my little
heart loses its limits in joy and gives birth
to utterance ineffable.

Thy infinite gifts come to me only on these
very small hands of mine. Ages pass, and
still thou pourest, and still there is room to fill.

When thou commandest me to sing it
seems that my heart would break with
pride; and I look to thy face, and tears
come to my eyes.

All that is harsh and dissonant in my life
melts into one sweet harmony–and my
adoration spreads wings like a glad bird
on its flight across the sea.

I know thou takest pleasure in my singing.
I know that only as a singer I come before
thy presence.

I touch by the edge of the far-spreading
wing of my song thy feet which I could
never aspire to reach.

Drunk with the joy of singing I forget
myself and call thee friend who art my lord.

I know not how thou singest, my master!
ever listen in silent amazement.
The light of thy music illumines the world.

The life breath of thy music runs from sky
to sky. The holy stream of thy music
breaks through all stony obstacles and
rushes on.

My heart longs to join in thy song, but
vainly struggles for a voice. I would
speak, but speech breaks not into song,

and I cry out baffled. Ah, thou hast made
my heart captive in the endless meshes of
thy music, my master!

Life of my life, I shall ever try to keep my
body pure, knowing that thy living touch is
upon all my limbs.

I shall ever try to keep all untruths out from
my thoughts, knowing that thou art that
truth which has kindled the light of reason
in my mind.

I shall ever try to drive all evils away from
my heart and keep my love in flower,
knowing that thou hast thy seat in the
inmost shrine of my heart.

And it shall be my endeavour to reveal
thee in my actions, knowing it is thy power
gives me strength to act.

I ask for a moment’s indulgence to sit by
thy side. The works that I have in hand I
will finish afterwards.

Away from the sight of thy face my heart
knows no rest nor respite, and my work
becomes an endless toil in a shoreless sea
of toil.

Today the summer has come at my window
with its sighs and murmurs; and the bees
are plying their minstrelsy at the court of
the flowering grove.

Now it is time to sit quite, face to face with
thee, and to sing dedication of live in this
silent and overflowing leisure.

Pluck this little flower and take it, delay
not! I fear lest it droop and drop into the
dust.

I may not find a place in thy garland, but
honour it with a touch of pain from thy
hand and pluck it. I fear lest the day end
before I am aware, and the time of offering
go by.

Though its colour be not deep and its smell
be faint, use this flower in thy service and
pluck it while there is time.

My song has put off her adornments. She
has no pride of dress and decoration.
Ornaments would mar our union; they
would come between thee and me; their
jingling would drown thy whispers.

My poet’s vanity dies in shame before thy
sight. O master poet, I have sat down at
thy feet. Only let me make my life simple
and straight, like a flute of reed for thee to
fill with music.

The child who is decked with prince’s
robes and who has jewelled chains round
his neck loses all pleasure in his play; his
dress hampers him at every step.

In fear that it may be frayed, or stained
with dust he keeps himself from the world,
and is afraid even to move.

Mother, it is no gain, thy bondage of
finery, if it keep one shut off from the
healthful dust of the earth, if it rob one of
the right of entrance to the great fair of
common human life.

* * * *

READ ON:
DOWNLOAD EBOOK (PDF)

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On Being: He bestowed the title “Mahatma” on Gandhi. He debated the deepest nature of reality with Einstein. He was championed by Yeats and Pound to become the first non-European to win the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1913. Rabindranath Tagore was a polymath — a writer and a painter, a philosopher and a musician, and a social innovator — but much of his poetry and prose is virtually untranslatable (or inaccessibly translated) for modern minds. We pull back the “dusty veils” that have hidden his memory from history.

Listen to the podcast: https://soundcloud.com/onbeing/anita-desai-and-andrew-robinson-the-modern-resonance-of-rabindranath-tagore

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Sadhana: The Realisation of Life Download e-book (McMillan, 1913, English) or Listen to audiobook:

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HOW TO START A POETRY EPIDEMIC – by Joseph Brodsky (1940-1996)


Cheers, fellow cosmic wanderers! For all of you who thirst for beauty and crave for poetry, I’ve selected some precious words from Joseph Brodsky’s essay “An Immodest Proposal” which might just nourish and enchant ya’. It’s filled with funny and imaginative ideas on how to kickstart an Epidemic of Poetry in our often grayish urban landscapes, pumping up our expressive skills, creative faculties and overall rate of epiphanies. Brodsky jokes around with the plan of widespread production and consumption of condensed human creativity as a means to plant the seeds of collective evolution and linguistic metamorphosis. These excerpts were extracted from On Grief and Reason (New York, 1995, Farrar Straus Giroux), which is truly a pet-book in my personal library and one of the most cherished treasures I brought with me as souvenirs from Toronto’s BMV Books, a place which deserves a ton of heartfelt “bravos!”. Voilá:

 Brodsky“Poetry must be available to the public in far greater volume than it is. It should be as ubiquitous as the nature that surrounds us, and from which poetry derives many of its similes; or as ubiquitous as gas stations, if not as cars themselves. Bookstores should be located not only on campuses or main drags but at the assembly plant’s gates also. Paperbacks of those we deem classics should be cheap and sold at supermarkets. This is, after all, a country of mass production, and I don’t see why what’s done for cars can’t be done for books of poetry, which take you quite a bit further…”

* * * * *

“Moreover, if the government would recognize that the construction of your library is as essential to your inner vocation as business lunches are to the outer, tax breaks could be made available to those who read, write or publish poetry. The main loser, of course, would be the Brazilian rain forest. But I believe that a tree facing the choice between becoming a book of poems or a bunch of memos may well opt for the former.”

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“In my view, books shoud be brought to the doorstep like electricity, or like milk in England: they should be considered utilities, and their cost should be appropriately minimal. Barring that, poetry could be sold in drugstores (not least because it might reduce the bill from your shrink). At the very least, an anthology of American poetry should be found in every room in every motal in the land, next to the Bible, which will surely not object to this proximity, since it does not object to the proximity of the phone book.”

* * * * *

“Poetry is the supreme form of human locution in any culture. By failing to read or listen to poets, a society dooms itself to inferior modes of articulation – of the politician, or the salesman, or the charlatan – in short, to its own. It forfeits, in other worlds, its own evolutionary potential, for what distinguishes us from the rest of the animal kingdom is precisely the gift of speech. The charge frequently leveled against poetry – that it is difficult, obscure, hermetic, and whatnot – indicates not the state of poetry but, frankly, the rung of the evolutionary ladder on which society is stuck.”

* * * * *

“If nothing else, reading poetry is a process of terrific linguistic osmosis. It is also a highly economical form of mental acceleration. Within a very short space a good poem covers enormous mental ground, and often, toward its finale, provides one with an epiphany or a revelation. That happens because in the process of composition a poet employs – by and large unwittingly – the two main modes of cognition available to our species: Occidental and Oriental.  (…) In other words, a poem offers you a sample of complete, not slanted, human intelligence at work.”

JOSEPH BRODSKY
(1940-1996)
Winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature

Read also some of his poems:
Song of Welcome and Verses in April

bRODSKY

Percy Shelley’s poem Ozymandias as illustrated by Zen Pencils

Ozy0 oZy1 Ozy2 Ozy3 Ozy4 Ozy5 Ozy6 Ozy7 Ozy8 Ozy9

 

I met a traveller from an antique land,
Who said— “two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert…near them, on the sand,
Half sunk a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lips, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed;
And on the pedestal, these words appear:
My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings,
Look on my Works ye Mighty, and despair!
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal Wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.

PERCY SHELLEY
(1792-1822)

Reblogged from Zen Pencils.
Read also: The Economist’s article about this poem.

Mr. Walter White, king of meth dealers, has done a marvelous recitation of Ozymandias in Breaking Bad’s final season. Here it comes, dudes, in Bryan Cranston’s gritty voice:

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Poets previously published @ Awestruck Wanderer:

DAYS LIKE RAZORS, NIGHTS FULL OF RATS – by Charles Bukowski

Buk

DAYS LIKE RAZORS, NIGHTS FULL OF RATS

as a very young man I divided an equal amount of time between
the bars and the libraries; how I managed to provide for
my other ordinary needs is the puzzle; well, I simply didn’t
bother too much with that –
if I had a book or a drink then I didn’t think too much of
other things – fools create their own
paradise.

in the bars, I thought I was a tough, I broke things, fought
other men, etc.

in the libraries it was another matter: I was quiet, went
from room to room, didn’t so much read entire books
as parts of them: medicine, geology, literature and
philosophy. psychology, math, history, other things, put me
off. with music I was more interested in the music and in the
lives of the composers than in the technical aspects …

however, it was with the philosophers that I felt a brotherhood:
Schopenhauer and Nietzsche, even old hard-to-read Kant;
I found Santayana, who was very popular at the time, to be
limp and a bore; Hegel you really had to dig for, especially
with a hangover; there are many I read who I have forgotten,
perhaps properly so, but I remember one fellow who wrote an
entire book in which he proved that the moon was not there
and he did it so well that afterwards you thought, he’s
absolutely right, the moon is not there.

how the hell is a young man going to deign to work an
8 hour day when the moon isn’t even there?
what else
might be missing?

and
I didn’t like literature so much as I did the literary
critics; they were real pricks, those guys; they used
fine language, beautiful in its way, to call other
critics, other writers, assholes. they
perked me up.

but it was the philosophers who satisfied
that need
that lurked somewhere within my confused skull: wading
through their excesses and their
clotted vocabulary
they still often
stunned
leaped out
with a flaming gambling statement that appeared to be
absolute truth or damned near
absolute truth,
and this certainty was what I was searching for in a daily
life that seemed more like a piece of
cardboard.

what great fellows those old dogs were, they got me past
days like razors and nights full of rats; and women
bargaining like auctioneers from hell.

my brothers, the philosophers, they spoke to me unlike
anybody on the streets or anywhere else; they
filled an immense void.
such good boys, ah, such good
boys!

yes, the libraries helped; in my other temple, the
bars, it was another matter, more simplistic, the
language and the way was
different…

library days, bar nights.
the nights were alike,
there’s some fellow sitting nearby, maybe not a
bad sort, but for me he doesn’t shine right,
there’s a gruesome deadness there-I think of my father,
of schoolteachers, of faces on coins and bills, of dreams
about murderers with dull eyes; well,
somehow this fellow and I get to exchanging glances,
a fury slowly begins to gather: we are enemies, cat and
dog, priest and atheist, fire and water; tension builds,
block piled upon block, waiting for the crash; our hands
fold and unfold, we drink, now, finally with a
purpose:

his face turns to me:
sumpin‘ ya don’t like, buddy?”

“yeah. you.”

“wanna do sumpin‘ about it?”

“certainly.”

we finish our drinks, rise, move to the back of the
bar, out into the alley; we
turn, face each other

I say to him, “there’s nothing but space between us. you
care to close that
space?”

he rushes toward me and somehow it’s a part of the part of the part.

CHARLES BUKOWSKI

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“Questions From a Worker Who Reads”, a poem by Bertolt Brecht (1898 – 1953)

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Questions From a Worker Who Reads
by Bertolt Brecht (1898 – 1953)

Who built Thebes of the 7 gates ?
In the books you will read the names of kings.
Did the kings haul up the lumps of rock ?

And Babylon, many times demolished,
Who raised it up so many times ?

In what houses of gold glittering Lima did its builders live ?
Where, the evening that the Great Wall of China was finished, did the masons go?

Great Rome is full of triumphal arches.
Who erected them ?

Over whom did the Caesars triumph ?
Had Byzantium, much praised in song, only palaces for its inhabitants ?

Even in fabled Atlantis, the night that the ocean engulfed it,
The drowning still cried out for their slaves.

The young Alexander conquered India.
Was he alone ?

Caesar defeated the Gauls.
Did he not even have a cook with him ?

Philip of Spain wept when his armada went down.
Was he the only one to weep ?

Frederick the 2nd won the 7 Years War.
Who else won it ?

Every page a victory.
Who cooked the feast for the victors ?

Every 10 years a great man.
Who paid the bill ?

So many reports.

So many questions.

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A documentary about Brecht’s play Mother Courage DOWNLOAD [IMDB]

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