Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.
My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.
He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound’s the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.
The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.
The art of losing isn’t hard to master;
so many things seem filled with the intent
to be lost that their loss is no disaster.
Lose something every day. Accept the fluster
of lost door keys, the hour badly spent.
The art of losing isn’t hard to master.
Then practice losing farther, losing faster:
places, and names, and where it was you meant
to travel. None of these will bring disaster.
I lost my mother’s watch. And look! my last, or
next-to-last, of three loved houses went.
The art of losing isn’t hard to master.
I lost two cities, lovely ones. And, vaster,
some realms I owned, two rivers, a continent.
I miss them, but it wasn’t a disaster.
– Even losing you (the joking voice, a gesture
I love) I shan’t have lied. It’s evident
the art of losing’s not too hard to master
though it may look like (Write it!) like disaster.
I work all day, and get half-drunk at night.
Waking at four to soundless dark, I stare.
In time the curtain-edges will grow light.
Till then I see what’s really always there:
Unresting death, a whole day nearer now,
Making all thought impossible but how
And where and when I shall myself die.
Arid interrogation: yet the dread
Of dying, and being dead,
Flashes afresh to hold and horrify.
Along the field as we came by
A year ago, my love and I,
The aspen over stile and stone
Was talking to itself alone.
“Oh who are these that kiss and pass?
A country lover and his lass;
Two lovers looking to be wed;
And time shall put them both to bed,
But she shall lie with earth above,
And he beside another love.”
And sure enough beneath the tree
There walks another love with me,
And overhead the aspen heaves
Its rainy-sounding silver leaves;
And I spell nothing in their stir,
But now perhaps they speak to her,
And plain for her to understand
They talk about a time at hand
When I shall sleep with clover clad,
And she beside another lad.
Alfred Edward Housman
A Shropshire Lad
Nothing remained: Nothing, the wanton name
That nightly I rehearsed till led away
To a dark sleep, or sleep that held one dream.
In this a huge contagious absence lay,
More space than space, over the cloud and slime,
Defined but by the encroachments of its sway.
Stripped to indifference at the turns of time,
Whose end I knew, I woke without desire,
And welcomed zero as a paradigm.
But now it breaks – images burst with fire
Into the quiet sphere where I have bided,
Showing the landscape holding yet entire:
The power that I envisaged, that presided
Ultimate in its abstract devastations,
Is merely change, the atoms it divided
Complete, in ignorance, new combinations.
Only an infinite finitude I see
In those peculiar lovely variations.
It is despair that nothing cannot be
Flares in the mind and leaves a smoky mark
Look upward. Neither firm nor free,
Purposeless matter hovers in the dark.
The world was young, the mountains green,
No stain yet on the Moon was seen,
No words were laid on stream or stone,
When Durin woke and walked along.
He named the nameless hills and delles;
He drank from yet untasted wells;
He stopped and looked in Mirrormere,
And saw a crown of stars appear,
As gems upon a silver thread,
Above the shadow of his head.
The world was fair, the mountains tall,
In Elder Days before the fall
Of mighty kings in Nargothrond
And Gondolin, who now beyond
The Western Seas have passed away.
The world was fair in Durin’s Day.
Shall earth no more inspire thee,
Thou lonely dreamer now?
Since passion may not fire thee
Shall Nature cease to bow?
Thy mind is ever moving
In regions dark to thee;
Recall its useless roving –
Come back and dwell with me.
I know my mountain breezes
Enchant and soothe thee still –
I know my sunshine pleases
Despite thy wayward will.
When day with evening blending
Sinks from the summer sky,
I’ve seen thy spirit bending
In fond idolatry.
I’ve watched thee every hour;
I know my mighty sway,
I know my magic power
To drive thy griefs away.
Few hearts to mortals given
On earth so wildly pine;
Yet none would ask a heaven
More like this earth than thine.
Then let my winds caress thee;
Thy comrade let me be –
Since nought beside can bless thee,
Return and dwell with me.
The most important thing we’ve learned,
So far as children are concerned,
Is never, NEVER, NEVER let
Them near your television set –
Or better still, just don’t install
The idiotic thing at all.
Why hast thou nothing in thy face?
Thou idol of the human race,
Thou tyrant of the human heart,
The flower of lovely youth that art;
Yea, and that standest in thy youth
An image of eternal Truth,
With thy exuberant flesh so fair,
That only Pheidias might compare,
Ere from his chaste marmoreal form
Time had decayed the colours warm;
Like to his gods in thy proud dress,
Thy starry sheen of nakedness.
Surely thy body is thy mind,
For in thy face is nought to find,
Only thy soft unchristen’d smile,
That shadows neither love nor guile,
But shameless will and power immense,
In secret sensuous innocence.
O king of joy, what is thy thought?
I dream thou knowest it is nought,
And wouldst in darkness come, but thou
Makest the light where’er thou go.
Ah yet no victim of thy grace,
None who e’er long’d for thy embrace,
Hath cared to look upon thy face.
This poem might be obscure and controversial in its meaning, but it is precious in rhyme and melody.
I have come to the borders of sleep,
The unfathomable deep
Forest where all must lose
Their way, however straight,
Or winding, soon or late;
They cannot choose.
Many a road and track
That, since the dawn’s first crack,
Up to the forest brink,
Deceived the travellers,
Suddenly now blurs,
And in they sink.
Here love ends,
Despair, ambition ends;
All pleasure and all trouble,
Although most sweet or bitter,
Here ends in sleep that is sweeter
Than tasks most noble.
There is not any book
Or face of dearest look
That I would not turn from now
To go into the unknown
I must enter, and leave, alone,
I know not how.
The tall forest towers;
Its cloudy foliage lowers
Ahead, shelf above shelf;
Its silence I hear and obey
That I may lose my way