Vintage verse – The Cold Heaven by W. B. Yeats

The Cold Heaven

Suddenly I saw the cold and rook-delighting heaven
That seemed as though ice burned and was but the more ice,
And thereupon imagination and heart were driven
So wild that every casual thought of that and this
Vanished, and left but memories, that should be out of season
With the hot blood of youth, of love crossed long ago;
And I took all the blame out of all sense and reason,
Until I cried and trembled and rocked to and fro,
Riddled with light. Ah! when the ghost begins to quicken,
Confusion of the death-bed over, is it sent
Out naked on the roads, as the books say, and stricken
By the injustice of the skies for punishment?

by W. B. Yeats (1865-1939)

Photo by Christine Klocek-Lim

Vintage verse – Color – Caste – Denomination by Emily Dickinson

Color — Caste — Denomination

Color — Caste — Denomination —
These — are Time’s Affair —
Death’s diviner Classifying
Does not know they are —

As in sleep — all Hue forgotten —
Tenets — put behind —
Death’s large — Democratic fingers
Rub away the Brand —

If Circassian — He is careless —
If He put away
Chrysalis of Blonde — or Umber —
Equal Butterfly —

They emerge from His Obscuring —
What Death – knows so well —
Our minuter intuitions —
Deem unplausible

by Emily Dickinson (1830-1886)

Photo by Christine Klocek-Lim

Vintage verse – It had been long dark, though still an hour before supper-time. by Charles Reznikofft

It had been long dark, though still an hour before supper-time.

It had been long dark, though still an hour before supper-time.
The boy stood at the window behind the curtain.
The street under the black sky was bluish white with snow.
Across the street, where the lot sloped to the pavement,
boys and girls were going down on sleds.
The boys were after him because he was a Jew.

At last his father and mother slept. He got up and dressed.
In the hall he took out his sled and went out on tiptoe.
No one was in the street. The slide was worn smooth and slippery–just right.
He laid himself down on his sled and shot away. He went down only twice.
He stood knee-deep in snow:
no one was in the street, the windows were darkened;
those near the street-lamps were ashine, but the rooms inside were dark;
on the street were long shadows of clods of snow.
He took his sled and went back into the house.

by Charles Reznikoff (1894 -1976)

Photo by Christine Klocek-Lim

Vintage verse – Sonnet 29 by William Shakespeare

(Sonnet 29)

When in disgrace with fortune and men’s eyes,
I all alone beweep my outcast state,
And trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries,
And look upon myself and curse my fate,
wishing me like to one more rich in hope,
Featured like him, like him with friends possessed,
Desiring this man’s art, and that man’s scope,
With what I most enjoy contented least;
Yet in these thoughts myself almost despising,
Haply I think on thee—and then my state,
Like to the lark at break of day arising
From sullen earth sings hymns at heaven’s gate;
For thy sweet love remembered such wealth brings,
That then I scorn to change my state with kings.

by William Shakespeare (1564-1616)

Photo by Christine Klocek-Lim

Vintage verse – The impact of a dollar upon the heart by Stephen Crane

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The impact of a dollar upon the heart

The impact of a dollar upon the heart
Smiles warm red light
Sweeping from the hearth rosily upon the white table,
With the hanging cool velvet shadows
Moving softly upon the door.

The impact of a million dollars
Is a crash of flunkeys
And yawning emblems of Persia
Cheeked against oak, France and a sabre,
The outcry of old beauty
Whored by pimping merchants
To submission before wine and chatter.
Silly rich peasants stamp the carpets of men,
Dead men who dreamed fragrance and light
Into their woof, their lives;
The rug of an honest bear
Under the feet of a cryptic slave
Who speaks always of baubles,
Forgetting state, multitude, work, and state,
Champing and mouthing of hats,
Making ratful squeak of hats,
Hats.

by Stephen Crane (1871-1900)

Photo by Christine Klocek-Lim

Vintage verse – See It Through by Edgar Guest

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See It Through

When you’re up against a trouble,
. . . .Meet it squarely, face to face;
Lift your chin and set your shoulders,
. . . .Plant your feet and take a brace.
When it’s vain to try to dodge it,
. . . .Do the best that you can do;
You may fail, but you may conquer,
. . . .See it through!

Black may be the clouds about you
. . . .And your future may seem grim,
But don’t let your nerve desert you;
. . . .Keep yourself in fighting trim.
If the worst is bound to happen,
. . . .Spite of all that you can do,
Running from it will not save you,
. . . .See it through!

Even hope may seem but futile,
. . . .When with troubles you’re beset,
But remember you are facing
. . . .Just what other men have met.
You may fail, but fall still fighting;
. . . .Don’t give up, whate’er you do;
Eyes front, head high to the finish.
. . . .See it through!

by Edgar Guest (1881-1959)

Photo by Christine Klocek-Lim

Vintage verse – Meeting at Night by Robert Browning

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Meeting at Night

The grey sea and the long black land;
And the yellow half-moon large and low:
And the startled little waves that leap
In fiery ringlets from their sleep,
As I gain the cove with pushing prow,
And quench its speed i’ the slushy sand.

Then a mile of warm sea-scented beach;
Three fields to cross till a farm appears;
A tap at the pane, the quick sharp scratch
And blue spurt of a lighted match,
And a voice less loud, through joys and fears,
Than the two hearts beating each to each!

by Robert Browning (1812-1889)

Photo by Christine Klocek-Lim