Bertrand Russell Love Poems
WE turned back mad from the mystic mountains,
All foamed with red and with elfin gold:
Up from the heart of the twilight’s fountains
The fires enchanted were starward rolled.
We turned back mad: we thought of the morrow,
The iron clang of the far-away town:
We could not weep in our bitter sorrow,
But joy as an Arctic sun went down.
WHO gave thee such a ruby flaming heart
And such a pure cold spirit? Side by side
I know these must eternally abide
In intimate war, and each to each impart
Life from its pain, in every joy a dart
To wound with grief or death the self allied.
Red life within the spirit crucified,
The eyes eternal pity thee: thou art
Fated with deathless powers at war to be,
Not less the martyr of the world than he
Whose thorn-crowned brow usurps the due of tears
We would pay to thee, ever ruddy life,
Whose passionate peace is still to be at strife,
O’erthrown but in the unconflicting spheres.
ALL the morn a spirit gay
Breathes within my heart a rhyme,
’Tis but hide and seek we play
In and out the courts of time.
Fairy lover, when my feet
Through the tangled woodland go,
’Tis thy sunny fingers fleet
Fleck the fire dews to and fro.
In the moonlight grows a smile
Mid its rays of dusty pearl—
’Tis but hide and seek the while,
As some frolic boy and girl.
When I fade into the deep
Some mysterious radiance showers
From the jewel-heart of sleep
Through the veil of darkened hours.
Where the ring of twilight gleams
Round the sanctuary wrought,
Whispers haunt me—in my dreams
We are one yet know it not.
Some for beauty follow long
Flying traces; some there be
Seek thee only for a song:
I to lose myself in thee.
WE air tired who follow after
Phantasy and truth that flies:
You with only look and laughter
Stain our hearts with richest dyes.
When you break upon our study
Vanish all our frosty cares;
As the diamond deep grows ruddy,
Filled with morning unawares.
With the stuff that dreams are made of
But an empty house we build:
Glooms we are ourselves afraid of,
By the ancient starlight chilled.
All unwise in thought or duty—
Still our wisdom envies you:
We who lack the living beauty
Half our secret knowledge rue.
Thought nor fear in you nor dreaming
Veil the light with mist about;
Joy, as through a crystal gleaming,
Flashes from the gay heart out.
Pain and penitence forsaking,
Hearts like cloisters dim and grey,
By your laughter lured, awaking
Join with you the dance of day.
The Virgin Mother
WHO is that goddess to whom men should pray,
But her from whom their hearts have turned away,
Out of whose virgin being they were born,
Whose mother nature they have named with scorn
Calling its holy substance common clay.
Yet from this so despised earth was made
The milky whiteness of those queens who swayed
Their generations with a light caress,
And from some image of whose loveliness
The heart built up high heaven when it prayed.
Lover, your heart, the heart on which it lies,
Your eyes that gaze and those alluring eyes,
Your lips, the lips they kiss, alike had birth
Within that dark divinity of earth,
Within that mother being you despise.
Ah, when I think this earth on which I tread
Hath borne these blossoms of the lovely dead,
And makes the living heart I love to beat,
I look with sudden awe beneath my feet
As you with erring reverence overhead.
A scientist has a test tube full of sheep. He
wonders if he should try to shrink a pasture
They are like grains of rice.
He wonders if it is possible to shrink something
out of existence.
He wonders if the sheep are aware of their tininess,
if they have any sense of scale. Perhaps they think
the test tube is a glass barn ...
He wonders what he should do with them; they
certainly have less meat and wool than ordinary
sheep. Has he reduced their commercial value?
He wonders if they could be used as a substitute
for rice, a sort of wolly rice . . .
He wonders if he shouldn't rub them into a red paste
between his fingers.
He wonders if they are breeding, or if any of them
He puts them under a microscope, and falls asleep
counting them . . .
THE SWEETEST song was ever sung
May soothe you but a little while:
The gayest music ever rung
Shall yield you but a fleeting smile.
The well I digged you soon shall pass:
You may but rest with me an hour:
Yet drink, I offer you the glass,
A moment of sustaining power,
And give to you, if it be gain,
Whether in pleasure or annoy,
To see one elemental pain,
One light of everlasting joy.
The floor is something we must fight against.
Whilst seemingly mere platform for the human
stance, it is that place that men fall to.
I am not dizzy. I stand as a tower, a lighthouse;
the pale ray of my sentiency flowing from my face.
But should I go dizzy I crash down into the floor;
my face into the floor, my attention bleeding into
the cracks of the floor.
Dear horizontal place, I do not wish to be a rug.
Do not pull at the difficult head, this teetering
bulb of dread and dream . . .
The Nuts of Knowledge
A CABIN on the mountain side hid in a grassy nook
Where door and windows open wide that friendly stars may look.
The rabbit shy can patter in, the winds may enter free,
Who throng around the mountain throne in living ecstasy.
And when the sun sets dimmed in eve and purple fills the air,
I think the sacred Hazel Tree is dropping berries there
From starry fruitage waved aloft where Connla’s Well o’erflows;
For sure the enchanted waters run through every wind that blows.
I think when night towers up aloft and shakes the trembling dew,
How every high and lonely thought that thrills my being through
Is but a ruddy berry dropped down through the purple air,
And from the magic tree of life the fruit falls everywhere.
I was a gulp of high air -
a bird breathing in,
a black dot on blue paper,
a privileged recipient
of finite sacrament
of souls of flying saints.
That all happened the moment
you taught me splendid roundness
as defined by the touch of your lips.
The other mysteries fell, one by one,
cities under siege,
watched by the terrible army of our love,
filling all the horizon, insatiable, made indomitable
by human frailty and sheer force.
WHEN twilight flutters the mountains over,
The faery lights from the earth unfold:
And over the caves enchanted hover
The giant heroes and gods of old.
The bird of æther its flaming pinions
Waves over earth the whole night long:
The stars drop down in their blue dominions
To hymn together their choral song.
The child of earth in his heart grows burning,
Mad for the night and the deep unknown;
His alien flame in a dream returning
Seats itself on the ancient throne.
When twilight over the mountains fluttered,
And night with its starry millions came,
I too had dreams: the songs I have uttered
Come from this heart that was touched by the flame.
WE must pass like smoke or live within the spirit’s fire;
For we can no more than smoke unto the flame return
If our thought has changed to dream, our will unto desire,
As smoke we vanish though the fire may burn.
Lights of infinite pity star the grey dusk of our days:
Surely here is soul: with it we have eternal breath:
In the fire of love we live, or pass by many ways,
By unnumbered ways of dream to death.
Of a Forgetful Sea
Sometimes, I forget the sun
sinking into ocean.
Desert is only a handful of sand
held by my daughter.
In her palm,
she holds small creatures,
tracks an ant, a flea
moving over each grain.
She brings them to places
she thinks are safe:
an island of driftwood,
the knot of a blackberry bush,
a continent of grass.
Fire ants carried on sticks,
potato bugs scooped
into the crease of a newspaper.
She tries to help them
before the patterns of tides
reach their lives.
She knows about families
who fold together like hands,
a horizon of tanks moving forward.
Here war is only newsprint.
How easy it is not to think about it
as we sleep beneath our quiet sky,
slip ourselves into foam, neglectful
waves appearing endless.
WHO are exiles? As for me
Where beneath the diamond dome
Lies the light on hill or tree,
There my palace is and home.
Who are lonely lacking care?
Here the winds are living, press
Close on bosom, lips and hair—
Well I know their soft caress.
Sad or fain no more to live?
I have pressed the lips of pain;
With the kisses lovers give,
Ransomed ancient joys again.
Captive? See what stars give light
In the hidden heart of clay:
At their radiance dark and bright
Fades the dreamy king of day.
Night and day no more eclipse
Friendly eyes that on us shine,
Speech from old familiar lips
Playmates of a youth divine.
Come away, O, come away;
We will quench the heart’s desire
Past the gateways of the day
In the rapture of the fire.
A Woman’s Voice
HIS head within my bosom lay,
But yet his spirit slipped not through:
I only felt the burning clay
That withered for the cooling dew.
It was but pity when I spoke
And called him to my heart for rest,
And half a mother’s love that woke
Feeling his head upon my breast:
And half the lion’s tenderness
To shield her cubs from hurt or death,
Which, when the serried hunters press,
Makes terrible her wounded breath.
But when the lips I breathed upon
Asked for such love as equals claim—
I looked where all the stars were gone
Burned in the day’s immortal flame.
“Come thou like yon great dawn to me
From darkness vanquished, battles done:
Flame unto flame shall flow and be
Within thy heart and mine as one.
I HEARD them in their sadness say,
“The earth rebukes the thought of God;
We are but embers wrapped in clay
A little nobler than the sod.”
But I have touched the lips of clay,
Mother, thy rudest sod to me
Is thrilled with fire of hidden day,
And haunted by all mystery.
DARK head by the fireside brooding,
Where upon your ears
Whirlwinds of the earth intruding
Sound in wrath and tears:
Tender-hearted, in your lonely
Sorrow I would fain
Comfort you, and say that only
Gods could feel such pain.
Only spirits know such longing
For the far away;
And the fiery fancies thronging
Rise not out of clay.
Keep the secret sense celestial
Of the starry birth;
Though about you call the bestial
Voices of the earth.
If a thousand ages since
Hurled us from the throne:
Then a thousand ages wins
Back again our own.
Sad one, dry away your tears:
Mount again anew:
In the great ancestral spheres
Waits the throne for you.
The Golden Age
WHEN the morning breaks above us
And the wild sweet stars have fled,
By the faery hands that love us
Wakened you and I will tread
Where the lilacs on the lawn
Shine with all their silver dews,
In the stillness of a dawn
Wrapped in tender primrose hues.
We will hear the strange old song
That the earth croons in her breast,
Echoed by the feathered throng
Joyous from each leafy nest.
Earth, whose dreams are we and they,
With her heart’s deep gladness fills
All our human lips can say,
Or the dawn-fired singer trills.
She is rapt in dreams divine:
As her clouds of beauty pass,
On our glowing hearts they shine,
Mirrored there as in a glass.
So when all the vapours grey
From our flowery paths shall flit,
And the dawn begin the day,
We will sing that song to it
Ere its yellow fervour flies.—
Oh, we are so glad of youth,
Whose first sweetness never dies
Nourished by eternal truth.
There was a man who didn't know how to sleep; nodding
off every night into a drab, unprofessional sleep. Sleep that
he'd grown so tired of sleeping.
He tried reading The Manual of Sleep, but it just put him
to sleep. That same old sleep that he had grown so tired of
sleeping . . .
He needed a sleeping master, who with a whip and a
chair would discipline the night, and make him jump through
hoops of gasolined fire. Someone who could make a tiger sit
on a tiny pedestal and yawn . . .
A New Being
I KNOW myself no more, my child,
Since thou art come to me,
Pity so tender and so wild
Hath wrapped my thoughts of thee.
These thoughts, a fiery gentle rain,
Are from the Mother shed,
Where many a broken heart hath lain
And many a weeping head.