Vintage verse – Sonnet 105 by William Shakespeare

Let not my love be called idolatry,
Nor my beloved as an idol show,
Since all alike my songs and praises be
To one, of one, still such, and ever so.
Kind is my love to-day, to-morrow kind,
Still constant in a wondrous excellence;
Therefore my verse to constancy confin’d,
One thing expressing, leaves out difference.
Fair, kind, and true, is all my argument,
Fair, kind, and true, varying to other words;
And in this change is my invention spent,
Three themes in one, which wondrous scope affords.
Fair, kind, and true, have often liv’d alone,
Which three, till now, never kept seat in one.

by William Shakespeare (1564-1616)

Vintage verse – Sonnet 127 by William Shakespeare

In the old age black was not counted fair,
Or if it were, it bore not beauty’s name;
But now is black beauty’s successive heir,
And beauty slander’d with a bastard shame:
For since each hand hath put on nature’s power,
Fairing the foul with art’s false borrow’d face,
Sweet beauty hath no name, no holy bower,
But is profan’d, if not lives in disgrace.
Therefore my mistress’ brows are raven black,
Her eyes so suited; and they mourners seem
At such who, not born fair, no beauty lack,
Slandering creation with a false esteem:
Yet so they mourn, becoming of their woe,
That every tongue says, beauty should look so.

by William Shakespeare (1564-1616)

Vintage verse – Sonnet 132 by William Shakespeare

Thine eyes I love, and they, as pitying me,
Knowing thy heart torments me with disdain,
Have put on black and loving mourners be,
Looking with pretty ruth upon my pain.
And truly not the morning sun of heaven
Better becomes the grey cheeks of the east,
Nor that full star that ushers in the even,
Doth half that glory to the sober west,
As those two mourning eyes become thy face:
O, let it then as well beseem thy heart
To mourn for me, since mourning doth thee grace,
And suit thy pity like in every part.
Then will I swear beauty herself is black
And all they foul that thy complexion lack.

by William Shakespeare (1564-1616)

Vintage verse – Mountain Pines by Robinson Jeffers

Mountain Pines

In scornful upright loneliness they stand,
. . . .Counting themselves no kin of anything
. . . .Whether of earth or sky. Their gnarled roots cling
Like wasted fingers of a clutching hand
In the grim rock. A silent spectral band
. . . .They watch the old sky, but hold no communing
. . . .With aught. Only, when some lone eagle’s wing
Flaps past above their grey and desolate land,
Or when the wind pants up a rough-hewn glen,
. . . .Bending them down as with an age of thought,
. . . .Or when, ‘mid flying clouds that can not dull
Her constant light, the moon shines silver, then
. . . .They find a soul, and their dim moan is wrought
. . . .Into a singing sad and beautiful.

by Robinson Jeffers (1887-1962)

Photo by Christine Klocek-Lim

Vintage verse – I Hear America Singing by Walt Whitman

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I Hear America Singing

I hear America singing, the varied carols I hear,
Those of mechanics, each one singing his as it should be blithe
. . . .and strong,
The carpenter singing his as he measures his plank or beam,
The mason singing his as he makes ready for work, or leaves off work,
The boatman singing what belongs to him in his boat, the
. . . .deckhand singing on the steamboat deck,
The shoemaker singing as he sits on his bench, the hatter singing
. . . .as he stands,
The wood-cutter’s song, the ploughboy’s on his way in the
. . . .morning, or at noon intermission or at sundown,
The delicious singing of the mother, or of the young wife at
. . . .work, or of the girl sewing or washing,
Each singing what belongs to him or her and to none else,
The day what belongs to the day—at night the party of young
. . . .fellows, robust, friendly,
Singing with open mouths their strong melodious songs.

by Walt Whitman (1819-1892)

Photo by Christine Klocek-Lim

Vintage verse – Hysteria by T. S. Eliot

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Hysteria

As she laughed I was aware of becoming involved in her laughter and being part of it, until her teeth were only accidental stars with a talent for squad-drill. I was drawn in by short gasps, inhaled at each momentary recovery, lost finally in the dark caverns of her throat, bruised by the ripple of unseen muscles. An elderly waiter with trembling hands was hurriedly spreading a pink and white checked cloth over the rusty green iron table, saying: “If the lady and gentleman wish to take their tea in the garden, if the lady and gentleman wish to take their tea in the garden…” I decided that if the shaking of her breasts could be stopped, some of the fragments of the afternoon might be collected, and I concentrated my attention with careful subtlety to this end.

by T. S. Eliot (1888-1965)

Photo by Christine Klocek-Lim

Vintage verse – A Violin at Dusk by Lizette Woodworth Reese

A Violin at Dusk

Stumble to silence, all you uneasy things,
That pack the day with bluster and with fret.
For here is music at each window set;
Here is a cup which drips with all the springs
That ever bud a cowslip flower; a roof
To shelter till the argent weathers break;
A candle with enough of light to make
My courage bright against each dark reproof.
A hand’s width of clear gold, unraveled out
The rosy sky, the little moon appears;
As they were splashed upon the paling red,
Vast, blurred, the village poplars lift about.
I think of young, lost things: of lilacs; tears;
I think of an old neighbor, long since dead.

by Lizette Woodworth Reese (1856-1935)

Photo by Christine Klocek-Lim