What is that you Express in your Eyes it seems to me more Words

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We Wear the Mask

We wear the mask that grins and lies,
It hides our cheeks and shades our eyes,--
This debt we pay to human guile;
With torn and bleeding hearts we smile,
And mouth with myriad subtleties.

Why should the world be overwise,
In counting all our tears and sighs?
Nay, let them only see us, while
We wear the mask.

We smile, but, O great Christ, our cries
To thee from tortured souls arise.
We sing, but oh the clay is vile
Beneath our feet, and long the mile;
But let the world dream otherwise,
We wear the mask!

Paul Laurence Dunbar

Lullaby

Softly lie down
and close your eyes so blue
worry no more
for tonight I'll watch over you

Gently rest your head
against my soothing chest
for here in my arms
you've found a safe place to rest

Sleep sweet child
in peaceful undisturbed dreams
and don't awake
until the morning beams


June 25, 2006
©2006 Fenny

Fenny Sterenborg

Eyes Fastened With Pins

How much death works,
No one knows what a long
Day he puts in. The little
Wife always alone
Ironing death's laundry.
The beautiful daughters
Setting death's supper table.
The neighbors playing
Pinochle in the backyard
Or just sitting on the steps
Drinking beer. Death,
Meanwhile, in a strange
Part of town looking for
Someone with a bad cough,
But the address somehow wrong,
Even death can't figure it out
Among all the locked doors...
And the rain beginning to fall.
Long windy night ahead.
Death with not even a newspaper
To cover his head, not even
A dime to call the one pining away,
Undressing slowly, sleepily,
And stretching naked
On death's side of the bed.

Charles Simic

Vain Gratuities

Never was there a man much uglier
In eyes of other women, or more grim:
"The Lord has filled her chalice to the brim,
So let us pray she's a philosopher,"
They said; and there was more they said of her--
Deeming it, after twenty years with him,
No wonder that she kept her figure slim
And always made you think of lavender.

But she, demure as ever, and as fair,
Almost, as they remembered her before
She found him, would have laughed had she been there,
And all they said would have been heard no more
Than foam that washes on an island shore
Where there are none to listen or to care.

Edwin Arlington Robinson

Sonnet XLIII: Why Should Your Fair Eyes

Why should your fair eyes with such sovereign grace
Disperse their rays on every vulgar spirit,
Whilst I in darkness, in the self-same place,
Get not one glance to recompense my merit?
So doth the plowman gaze the wand'ring star,
And only rest contented with the light,
That never learn'd what constellations are
Beyond the bent of his unknowing sight.
O why should Beauty, custom to obey,
To their gross sense apply herself so ill?
Would God I were as ignorant as they,
When I am made unhappy by my skill,
Only compell'd on this poor good to boast:
Heav'ns are not kind to them that know them most.

Michael Drayton

Maids In May

Three maids there were in meadow bright,
The eldest less then seven;
Their eyes were dancing with delight,
And innocent as Heaven.

Wild flowers they wound with tender glee,
Their cheeks with rapture rosy;
All radiant they smiled at me,
When I besought a posy.

She gave me a columbine,
And one a poppy brought me;
The tiniest, with eyes ashine,
A simple daisy sought me.

And as I went my sober way,
I heard their careless laughter;
Their hearts too happy with to-day
To care for what comes after.

. . . . . . .

That's long ago; they're gone, all three,
To walk amid the shadows;
Forgotten is their lyric glee
In still and sunny meadows.

For Columbine loved life too well,
And went adventure fairing;
And sank into the pit of hell,
And passed but little caring.
While Poppy was a poor man's wife,
And children had a-plenty;
And went, worn out with toil and strife
When she was five-and-twenty.

And Daisy died while yet a child,
As fragile blossoms perish,
When Winter winds are harsh and wild,
With none to shield and cherish.

Ah me! How fate is dark and dour
To little Children of the Poor.

Robert W. Service

The Pagan World

In his cool hall, with haggard eyes,
The Roman noble lay;
He drove abroad, in furious guise,
Along the Appian way.

He made a feast, drank fierce and fast,
And crowned his hair with flowersó
No easier nor no quicker passed
The impracticable hours.

The brooding East with awe beheld
Her impious younger world.
The Roman tempest swelled and swelled,
And on her head was hurled.

The East bowed low before the blast
In patient, deep disdain;
She let the legions thunder past,
And plunged in thought again.

So well she mused, a morning broke
Across her spirit grey;
A conquering, new-born joy awoke,
And filled her life with day.

"Poor world," she cried, "so deep accurst
That runn'st from pole to pole
To seek a draught to slake thy thirstó
Go, seek it in thy soul!"

She heard it, the victorious West,
In crown and sword arrayed!
She felt the void which mined her breast,
She shivered and obeyed.

She veiled her eagles, snapped her sword,
And laid her sceptre down;
Her stately purple she abhorred,
And her imperial crown.

She broke her flutes, she stopped her sports,
Her artists could not please;
She tore her books, she shut her courts,
She fled her palaces;

Lust of the eye and pride of life
She left it all behind,
And hurried, torn with inward strife,
The wilderness to find.

Tears washed the trouble from her face!
She changed into a child!
Mid weeds and wrecks she stoodóa place
Of ruinóbut she smiled!

Matthew Arnold

TO ORIGINALS.

In these numbers be express'd
Meaning deep, 'neath merry jest.
-----

TO ORIGINALS.

A FELLOW says: "I own no school or college;
No master lives whom I acknowledge;
And pray don't entertain the thought
That from the dead I e'er learnt aught."
This, if I rightly understand,
Means: "I'm a blockhead at first hand."

1815.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Reverence

I saw the Greatest Man on Earth,
Aye, saw him with my proper eyes.
A loin-cloth spanned his proper girth,
But he was naked otherwise,
Excepting for his grey sombrero;
And when his domelike head he bared,
With reverence I stared and stared,
As mummified as any Pharaoh.

He leaned upon a little cane,
A big cigar was in his mouth;
Through spectacles of yellow stain
He gazed and gazed toward the South;
And then he dived into the sea,
As if to Corsica to swim;
His side stroke was so strong and free
I could not help but envy him.

A fitter man than I, I said,
Although his age is more than mine;
And I was strangely comforted
To see him battle in the brine.
Thought I: We have no cause for sorrow;
For one so dynamic to-day
Will gird him for the future fray
And lead us lion-like to-morrow.

The Greatest Man in all the world
Lay lazing like you or me,
Within a flimsy bathrobe curled
Upon a mattress by the sea:
He reached to pat a tou-tou's nose,
And scratched his torso now and then,
And scribbled with a fountain pen
What I assumed was jewelled prose.

And then methought he looked at me,
And hailed me with a gesture grand;
His fingers made the letter "V,"
So I, too, went to raise my hand; -
When nigh to me the barman glided
With liquid gold, and then I knew
He merely called for cock-tails two,
And so abjectly I subsided.

Yet I have had my moment's glory,
A-squatting nigh that Mighty Tory,
Proud Hero of our Island Story.

Robert W. Service

Hymn 108

Christ unseen and beloved.

1 Pet. 1:5.

Now with our mortal eyes
Have we beheld the Lord;
Yet we rejoice to hear his name,
And love him in his word.

On earth we want the sight
Of our Redeemer's face;
Yet, Lord, our inmost thoughts delight
To dwell upon thy grace.

And when we taste thy love,
Our joys divinely grow
Unspeakable, like those above,
And heav'n begins below.

Isaac Watts

Hymn 4 part 1

The nativity of Christ.

Luke 2:10ff

"Shepherds, rejoice! lift up your eyes,
And send your fears away;
News from the regions of the skies,
Salvation's born to-day.

"Jesus, the God whom angels fear,
Comes down to dwell with you;
Today he makes his entrance here,
But not as monarchs do.

"No gold nor purple swaddling bands.
Nor royal shining things;
A manger for his Cradle stands,
And holds the King of kings.

"Go, shepherds, where the infant lies,
And see his humble throne
With tears of joy in all your eyes,
Go, shepherds, kiss the Son."

Thus Gabriel sang, and straight around
The heav'nly armies throng;
They tune their harps to lofty sound,
And thus conclude the song:

"Glory to God that reigns above!
Let peace surround the earth!
Mortals shall know their Maker's love,
At their Redeemer's birth."

Lord, and shall angels have their songs,
And men no tunes to raise?
O may we lose our useless tongues
When they forget to praise.

Glory to God that reigns above,
That pitied us forlorn;
We join to sing our Maker's love,
For there's a Savior born.

Isaac Watts

The Orient Express

One looks from the train
Almost as one looked as a child. In the sunlight
What I see still seems to me plain,
I am safe; but at evening
As the lands darken, a questioning
Precariousness comes over everything.
Once after a day of rain
I lay longing to be cold; after a while
I was cold again, and hunched shivering
Under the quilt's many colors, gray
With the dull ending of the winter day,
Outside me there were a few shapes
Of chairs and tables, things from a primer;
Outside the window
There were the chairs and tables of the world ...
I saw that the world
That had seemed to me the plain
Gray mask of all that was strange
Behind it -- of all that was -- was all.
But it is beyond belief.
One thinks, "Behind everything
An unforced joy, an unwilling
Sadness (a willing sadness, a forced joy)
Moves changelessly"; one looks from the train
And there is something, the same thing
Behind everything: all these little villages,
A passing woman, a field of grain,
The man who says good-bye to his wife --
A path through a wood all full of lives, and the train
Passing, after all unchangeable
And not now ever to stop, like a heart --
It is like any other work of art,
It is and never can be changed.
Behind everything there is always
The unknown unwanted life.

Randall Jarrell

Candle Hat

In most self-portraits it is the face that dominates:
Cezanne is a pair of eyes swimming in brushstrokes,
Van Gogh stares out of a halo of swirling darkness,
Rembrant looks relieved as if he were taking a breather
from painting The Blinding of Sampson.

But in this one Goya stands well back from the mirror
and is seen posed in the clutter of his studio
addressing a canvas tilted back on a tall easel.

He appears to be smiling out at us as if he knew
we would be amused by the extraordinary hat on his head
which is fitted around the brim with candle holders,
a device that allowed him to work into the night.

You can only wonder what it would be like
to be wearing such a chandelier on your head
as if you were a walking dining room or concert hall.

But once you see this hat there is no need to read
any biography of Goya or to memorize his dates.

To understand Goya you only have to imagine him
lighting the candles one by one, then placing
the hat on his head, ready for a night of work.

Imagine him surprising his wife with his new invention,
the laughing like a birthday cake when she saw the glow.

Imagine him flickering through the rooms of his house
with all the shadows flying across the walls.

Imagine a lost traveler knocking on his door
one dark night in the hill country of Spain.
"Come in, " he would say, "I was just painting myself,"
as he stood in the doorway holding up the wand of a brush,
illuminated in the blaze of his famous candle hat.

Billy Collins

THE BLISS OF ABSENCE.

DRINK, oh youth, joy's purest ray
From thy loved one's eyes all day,

And her image paint at night!
Better rule no lover knows,
Yet true rapture greater grows,

When far sever'd from her sight.

Powers eternal, distance, time,
Like the might of stars sublime,

Gently rock the blood to rest,
O'er my senses softness steals,
Yet my bosom lighter feels,

And I daily am more blest.

Though I can forget her ne'er,
Yet my mind is free from care,

I can calmly live and move;
Unperceived infatuation
Longing turns to adoration,

Turns to reverence my love.

Ne'er can cloud, however light,
Float in ether's regions bright,

When drawn upwards by the sun,
As my heart in rapturous calm.
Free from envy and alarm,

Ever love I her alone!

1767-9.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

The Barrier

I must not gaze at them although
Your eyes are dawning day;
I must not watch you as you go
Your sun-illumined way;

I hear but I must never heed
The fascinating note,
Which, fluting like a river reed,
Comes from your trembing throat;

I must not see upon your face
Love's softly glowing spark;
For there's the barrier of race,
You're fair and I am dark.

Claude McKay

THE TABLE IN A RESTAURANT

Bhaskar Roy Barman

The moment I close my eyes

in meditation on the unfathomable

I visualize golden fleeces of cloud

perambulating the skies

and old faces peering down through the fleeces,

their faces writhed into a semblance of smile.

With them I used to sit at a table in a restaurant

by the window overlooking a garden.

The smells of the garden-flowers

Would spatter against the window-pane.

They left me closeted with the ever-changing world.

I feel , whenever I sit at the table, their hanging around the table.

I glory in living in the ever-fresh changeability

of the ever-changing world.

They have stuck at the last words

they had uttered at the table

and at the last glance they had thrown

through the window around the garden.

I can have trees felled. if I like to  I often do,

for it fetches me a good amount of money  I can,

if asked to, stand on a dais to deliver a mellifluous speech

on the necessity of afforestation.

I can attire myself in ultra-modern habiliments

when I go out with my wife to have people think

we are but a happy couple,

and to get ourselves photographed to remind ourselves

we married each other one day.

But they remain clothed in the garments

they had worn at the table.

In meditation I visualize them mocking me,

for I have shut my eyes to the truth of life..

Bhaskar Roy Barman

Ambition and Art

Ambition
I am the maid of the lustrous eyes
Of great fruition,
Whom the sons of men that are over-wise
Have called Ambition.

And the world's success is the only goal
I have within me;
The meanest man with the smallest soul
May woo and win me.

For the lust of power and the pride of place
To all I proffer.
Wilt thou take thy part in the crowded race
For what I offer?

The choice is thine, and the world is wide --
Thy path is lonely.
I may not lead and I may not guide --
I urge thee only.

I am just a whip and a spur that smites
To fierce endeavour.
In the restless days and the sleepless nights
I urge thee ever.

Thou shalt wake from sleep with a startled cry,
In fright unleaping
At a rival's step as it passes by
Whilst thou art sleeping.

Honour and truth shall be overthrown
In fierce desire;
Thou shalt use thy friend as a stepping-stone
To mount thee higher.

When the curtain falls on the sordid strife
That seemed so splendid,
Thou shalt look with pain on the wasted life
That thou hast ended.

Thou hast sold thy life for a guerdon small
In fitful flashes;
There has been reward -- but the end of all
Is dust and ashes.

For the night has come and it brings to naught
Thy projects cherished,
And thine epitaph shall in brass be wrought --
"He lived, and perished."





Art
I wait for thee at the outer gate,
My love, mine only;
Wherefore tarriest thou so late
While I am lonely?

Thou shalt seek my side with a footstep swift;
In thee implanted
Is the love of Art and the greatest gift
That God has granted.

And the world's concerns with its rights and wrongs
Shall seem but small things --
Poet or painter, or singer of songs,
Thine art is all things.

For the wine of life is a woman's love
To keep beside thee;
But the love of Art is a thing above --
A star to guide thee.

As the years go by with the love of Art
All undiminished,
Thou shalt end thy days with a quiet geart --
Thy work is finished.

So the painter fashions a picture strong
That fadeth never,
And the singer singeth a wondrous song
That lives for ever.

Andrew Barton Paterson

Modern Love: I

By this he knew she wept with waking eyes:
That, at his hand's light quiver by her head,
The strange low sobs that shook their common bed
Were called into her with a sharp surprise,
And strangled mute, like little gaping snakes,
Dreadfully venomous to him. She lay
Stone-still, and the long darkness flowed away
With muffled pulses. Then, as midnight makes
Her giant heart of Memory and Tears
Drink the pale drug of silence, and so beat
Sleep's heavy measure, they from head to feet
Were moveless, looking through their dead black years,
By vain regret scrawled over the blank wall.
Like sculptured effigies they might be seen
Upon their marriage-tomb, the sword between;
Each wishing for the sword that severs all.

George Meredith

Gray Eyes

It was April when you came
The first time to me,
And my first look in your eyes
Was like my first look at the sea.

We have been together
Four Aprils now
Watching for the green
On the swaying willow bough;

Yet whenever I turn
To your gray eyes over me,
It is as though I looked
For the first time at the sea.

Sara Teasdale

Modern Love II: It Ended, and the Morrow

It ended, and the morrow brought the task.
Her eyes were guilty gates, that let him in
By shutting all too zealous for their sin:
Each sucked a secret, and each wore a mask.
But, oh, the bitter taste her beauty had!
He sickened as at breath of poison-flowers:
A languid humour stole among the hours,
And if their smiles encountered, he went mad,
And raged deep inward, till the light was brown
Before his vision, and the world, forgot,
Looked wicked as some old dull murder-spot.
A star with lurid beams, she seemed to crown
The pit of infamy: and then again
He fainted on his vengefulness, and strove
To ape the magnanimity of love,
And smote himself, a shuddering heap of pain.

George Meredith
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