Sunday Poem: William Ernest Henley – Invictus

William Ernest Henley. 1849–1903

OUT of the night that covers me,
  Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
  For my unconquerable soul.
In the fell clutch of circumstance          5
  I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
  My head is bloody, but unbow’d.
Beyond this place of wrath and tears
  Looms but the Horror of the shade,   10
And yet the menace of the years
  Finds and shall find me unafraid.
It matters not how strait the gate,
  How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:   15
  I am the captain of my soul.

Sunday Poem: Christina Georgina Rossetti – A Birthday

Christina Georgina Rossetti. 1830–1894
A Birthday
MY heart is like a singing bird
  Whose nest is in a water’d shoot;
My heart is like an apple-tree
  Whose boughs are bent with thick-set fruit;
My heart is like a rainbow shell          5
  That paddles in a halcyon sea;
My heart is gladder than all these,
  Because my love is come to me.
Raise me a daïs of silk and down;
  Hang it with vair and purple dyes;   10
Carve it in doves and pomegranates,
  And peacocks with a hundred eyes;
Work it in gold and silver grapes,
  In leaves and silver fleurs-de-lys;
Because the birthday of my life   15
  Is come, my love is come to me.

Sunday Poem: Lord Tennyson – Summer Night

Alfred Tennyson, Lord Tennyson. 1809–1892
Summer Night
NOW sleeps the crimson petal, now the white;  
Nor waves the cypress in the palace walk;  
Nor winks the gold fin in the porphyry font:  
The firefly wakens: waken thou with me.  
  Now droops the milk-white peacock like a ghost,          5
And like a ghost she glimmers on to me.  
  Now lies the Earth all Danaë to the stars,  
And all thy heart lies open unto me.  
  Now slides the silent meteor on, and leaves  
A shining furrow, as thy thoughts in me.   10
  Now folds the lily all her sweetness up,  
And slips into the bosom of the lake:  
So fold thyself, my dearest, thou, and slip  
Into my bosom and be lost in me.

Sunday Poem: Walter Savage Landor – The Maid’s Lament

Walter Savage Landor. 1775–1864
The Maid’s Lament
LOVED him not; and yet now he is gone,  
        I feel I am alone.  
I check’d him while he spoke; yet, could he speak,  
        Alas! I would not check.  
For reasons not to love him once I sought,          5
        And wearied all my thought  
To vex myself and him; I now would give  
        My love, could he but live  
Who lately lived for me, and when he found  
        ‘Twas vain, in holy ground   10
He hid his face amid the shades of death.  
        I waste for him my breath  
Who wasted his for me; but mine returns,  
        And this lorn bosom burns  
With stifling heat, heaving it up in sleep,   15
        And waking me to weep  
Tears that had melted his soft heart: for years  
        Wept he as bitter tears.  
‘Merciful God!’ such was his latest prayer,  
        ‘These may she never share!’   20
Quieter is his breath, his breast more cold  
        Than daisies in the mould,  
Where children spell, athwart the churchyard gate,  
        His name and life’s brief date.  
Pray for him, gentle souls, whoe’er you be,   25
        And, O, pray too for me!

Sunday Poem: Samuel Taylor Coleridge – Work without Hope

Samuel Taylor Coleridge. 1772–1834
Work without Hope
ALL Nature seems at work. Slugs leave their lair—  
The bees are stirring—birds are on the wing—  
And Winter, slumbering in the open air,  
Wears on his smiling face a dream of Spring!  
And I, the while, the sole unbusy thing,          5
Nor honey make, nor pair, nor build, nor sing.  
Yet well I ken the banks where amaranths blow,  
Have traced the fount whence streams of nectar flow.  
Bloom, O ye amaranths! bloom for whom ye may,  
For me ye bloom not! Glide, rich streams, away!   10
With lips unbrighten’d, wreathless brow, I stroll:  
And would you learn the spells that drowse my soul?  
Work without Hope draws nectar in a sieve,  
And Hope without an object cannot live.

Sunday Poem: Sir Walter Scott – Proud Maisie

Sir Walter Scott. 1771–1832
Proud Maisie
PROUD Maisie is in the wood,  
  Walking so early;  
Sweet Robin sits on the bush,  
  Singing so rarely.  
‘Tell me, thou bonny bird,          5
  When shall I marry me?’  
—’When six braw gentlemen  
  Kirkward shall carry ye.’  
‘Who makes the bridal bed,  
  Birdie, say truly?’   10
—’The grey-headed sexton  
  That delves the grave duly.  
‘The glow-worm o’er grave and stone  
  Shall light thee steady;  
The owl from the steeple sing   15
  Welcome, proud lady!’

Sunday Poem: William Wordsworth – Daffodils

William Wordsworth. 1770–1850
WANDER’D lonely as a cloud  
  That floats on high o’er vales and hills,  
When all at once I saw a crowd,  
  A host, of golden daffodils;  
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,          5
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.  
Continuous as the stars that shine  
  And twinkle on the Milky Way,  
They stretch’d in never-ending line  
  Along the margin of a bay:   10
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,  
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.  
The waves beside them danced; but they  
  Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:  
A poet could not but be gay,   15
  In such a jocund company:  
I gazed—and gazed—but little thought  
What wealth the show to me had brought:  
For oft, when on my couch I lie  
  In vacant or in pensive mood,   20
They flash upon that inward eye  
  Which is the bliss of solitude;  
And then my heart with pleasure fills,  
And dances with the daffodils.

Sunday Poem: Andrew Marvell – To His Coy Mistress

Andrew Marvell. 1621–1678
To His Coy Mistress
HAD we but world enough, and time,  
This coyness, Lady, were no crime  
We would sit down and think which way  
To walk and pass our long love’s day.  
Thou by the Indian Ganges’ side          5
Shouldst rubies find: I by the tide  
Of Humber would complain. I would  
Love you ten years before the Flood,  
And you should, if you please, refuse  
Till the conversion of the Jews.   10
My vegetable love should grow  
Vaster than empires, and more slow;  
An hundred years should go to praise  
Thine eyes and on thy forehead gaze;  
Two hundred to adore each breast,   15
But thirty thousand to the rest;  
An age at least to every part,  
And the last age should show your heart.  
For, Lady, you deserve this state,  
Nor would I love at lower rate.   20
  But at my back I always hear  
Time’s wingèd chariot hurrying near;  
And yonder all before us lie  
Deserts of vast eternity.  
Thy beauty shall no more be found,   25
Nor, in thy marble vault, shall sound  
My echoing song: then worms shall try  
That long preserved virginity,  
And your quaint honour turn to dust,  
And into ashes all my lust:   30
The grave ‘s a fine and private place,  
But none, I think, do there embrace.  
  Now therefore, while the youthful hue  
Sits on thy skin like morning dew,  
And while thy willing soul transpires   35
At every pore with instant fires,  
Now let us sport us while we may,  
And now, like amorous birds of prey,  
Rather at once our time devour  
Than languish in his slow-chapt power.   40
Let us roll all our strength and all  
Our sweetness up into one ball,  
And tear our pleasures with rough strife  
Thorough the iron gates of life:  
Thus, though we cannot make our sun   45
Stand still, yet we will make him run.

Sunday Poem: William Watson – Ode in May

William Watson. b. 1858
Ode in May
LET me go forth, and share  
  The overflowing Sun  
  With one wise friend, or one  
Better than wise, being fair,  
Where the pewit wheels and dips          5
  On heights of bracken and ling,  
And Earth, unto her leaflet tips,  
  Tingles with the Spring.  
What is so sweet and dear  
  As a prosperous morn in May,   10
  The confident prime of the day,  
And the dauntless youth of the year,  
When nothing that asks for bliss,  
  Asking aright, is denied,  
And half of the world a bridegroom is,   15
  And half of the world a bride?  
The Song of Mingling flows,  
  Grave, ceremonial, pure,  
  As once, from lips that endure,  
The cosmic descant rose,   20
When the temporal lord of life,  
  Going his golden way,  
Had taken a wondrous maid to wife  
  That long had said him nay.  
For of old the Sun, our sire,   25
  Came wooing the mother of men,  
  Earth, that was virginal then,  
Vestal fire to his fire.  
Silent her bosom and coy,  
  But the strong god sued and press’d;   30
And born of their starry nuptial joy  
  Are all that drink of her breast.  
And the triumph of him that begot,  
  And the travail of her that bore,  
  Behold they are evermore   35
As warp and weft in our lot.  
We are children of splendour and flame,  
  Of shuddering, also, and tears.  
Magnificent out of the dust we came,  
  And abject from the Spheres.   40
O bright irresistible lord!  
  We are fruit of Earth’s womb, each one,  
  And fruit of thy loins, O Sun,  
Whence first was the seed outpour’d.  
To thee as our Father we bow,   45
  Forbidden thy Father to see,  
Who is older and greater than thou, as thou  
  Art greater and older than we.  
Thou art but as a word of his speech;  
  Thou art but as a wave of his hand;   50
  Thou art brief as a glitter of sand  
‘Twixt tide and tide on his beach;  
Thou art less than a spark of his fire,  
  Or a moment’s mood of his soul:  
Thou art lost in the notes on the lips of his choir   55
  That chant the chant of the Whole.