Sunday, June 15, 2008

One from India, One from Britain, One from Russia

I Am Restless

by: Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941)

I am restless. I am athirst for far-away things.

My soul goes out in a longing to touch the skirt of the dim distance.

O Great Beyond, O the keen call of thy flute!

I forget, I ever forget, that I have no wings to fly, that I am bound in this spot evermore.


I am eager and wakeful, I am a stranger in a strange land.

Thy breath comes to me whispering an impossible hope.

Thy tongue is known to my heart as its very own.

O Far-to-seek, O the keen call of thy flute!

I forget, I ever forget, that I know not the way, that I have not the winged horse.


I am listless, I am a wanderer in my heart.

In the sunny haze of the languid hours, what vast vision of thine takes shape in the blue of the sky!

O Farthest end, O the keen call of thy flute!

I forget, I ever forget, that the gates are shut everywhere in the house where I dwell alone!

"I am restless" is reprinted from The Gardener. Rabindranath Tagore. New York: The Macmillan Company, 1913.
From the poetry archive accessed 6/15/08.


Ulysses

by: Alfred Tennyson (1809 - 1892)

It little profits that an idle king,
By this still hearth, among these barren crags,

Match'd with an aged wife, I mete and dole
Unequal laws unto a savage race,
That hoard, and sleep, and feed, and know not me.
I cannot rest from travel; I will drink
Life to the lees. All times I have enjoy'd
Greatly, have suffer'd greatly, both with those
That loved me, and alone; on shore, and when
Thro' scudding drifts the rainy Hyades
Vext the dim sea. I am become a name;
For always roaming with a hungry heart
Much have I seen and known,-- cities of men

And manners, climates, councils, governments,
Myself not least, but honor'd of them all,--
And drunk delight of battle with my peers,
Far on the ringing plains of windy Troy.
I am a part of all that I have met;
Yet all experience is an arch wherethro'

Gleams that untravell'd world whose margin fades
For ever and for ever when I move.
How dull it is to pause, to make an end,
To rust unburnish'd, not to shine in use!
As tho' to breathe were life! Life piled on life
Were all too little, and of one to me
Little remains; but every hour is saved
From that eternal silence, something more,
A bringer of new things; and vile it were
For some three suns to store and hoard myself,
And this gray spirit yearning in desire
To follow knowledge like a sinking star,
Beyond the utmost bound of human thought.

This is my son, mine own Telemachus,
to whom I leave the sceptre and the isle,--
Well-loved of me, discerning to fulfill
This labor, by slow prudence to make mild
A rugged people, and thro' soft degrees
Subdue them to the useful and the good.
Most blameless is he, centred in the sphere
Of common duties, decent not to fail
In offices of tenderness, and pay
Meet adoration to my household gods,
When I am gone. He works his work, I mine.

There lies the port; the vessel puffs her sail;

There gloom the dark, broad seas. My mariners,

Souls that have toil'd, and wrought, and thought with me,--

That ever with a frolic welcome took

The thunder and the sunshine, and opposed

Free hearts, free foreheads,-- you and I are old;

Old age hath yet his honor and his toil.

Death closes all; but something ere the end,

Some work of noble note, may yet be done,

Not unbecoming men that strove with Gods.

The lights begin to twinkle from the rocks;

The long day wanes; the slow moon climbs; the deep

Moans round with many voices. Come, my friends.

'T is not too late to seek a newer world.

Push off, and sitting well in order smite

The sounding furrows; for my purpose holds

To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths

Of all the western stars, until I die.

It may be that the gulfs will wash us down;

It may be we shall touch the Happy Isles,

And see the great Achilles, whom we knew.

Tho' much is taken, much abides; and tho'

We are not now that strength which in old days

Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are,--

One equal temper of heroic hearts,

Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will

To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.

From the elite skills website accessed 6/15/08.

Brothers, Let Us Glorify Freedom's Twilight

by: Osip Mandelshtam (1891 - 1938)

Brothers, let us glorify freedom's twilight -
the great, darkening year.
Into the seething waters of the night
heavy forests of nets disappear.

O Sun, judge, people, your light
is rising over sombre years

Let us glorify the deadly weight
the people's leader lifts with tears.

Let us glorify the dark burden of fate,
power's unbearable yoke of fears.

How your ship is sinking, straight,

he who has a heart, Time, hears.


We have bound swallows
into battle legions - and we,
we cannot see the sun: nature's boughs

are living, twittering, moving, totally:

through the nets -the thick twilight - now
we cannot see the sun, and Earth floats free.

Let's try: a huge, clumsy, turn then
of the creaking helm, and, see -

Earth floats free. Take heart, O men.

Slicing like a plough through the sea,

Earth, to us, we know, even in Lethe's icy fen,
has been worth a dozen heavens' eternity.

From Poems MD accessed 6/15/08.

Where today is poetry with such a tone as these men had in theirs? Where today is the healthy poet with type A personality? Where today is poetry that includes the notions of eternity, God and striving? When will we have had our fill of the elegy? Can we expect ever to find such things as joy, love, hope, and faith in poetry?




-- "It is our goal to appreciate and improve our talents, to share our own work and to communicate the joys of poetry with others. Everyone's poetry is valued."
River Junction Poets Mission Statement

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