Words of good luck

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The Words Of Error

Three errors there are, that forever are found
On the lips of the good, on the lips of the best;
But empty their meaning and hollow their sound--
And slight is the comfort they bring to the breast.
The fruits of existence escape from the clasp
Of the seeker who strives but those shadows to grasp--

So long as man dreams of some age in this life
When the right and the good will all evil subdue;
For the right and the good lead us ever to strife,
And wherever they lead us the fiend will pursue.
And (till from the earth borne, and stifled at length)
The earth that he touches still gifts him with strength!

So long as man fancies that fortune will live,
Like a bride with her lover, united with worth;
For her favors, alas! to the mean she will give--
And virtue possesses no title to earth!
That foreigner wanders to regions afar,
Where the lands of her birthright immortally are!

So long as man dreams that, to mortals a gift,
The truth in her fulness of splendor will shine;
The veil of the goddess no earth-born may lift,
And all we can learn is--to guess and divine!
Dost thou seek, in a dogma, to prison her form?
The spirit flies forth on the wings of the storm!

O, noble soul! fly from delusions like these,
More heavenly belief be it thine to adore;
Where the ear never hearkens, the eye never sees,
Meet the rivers of beauty and truth evermore!
Not without thee the streams--there the dull seek them;--No!
Look within thee--behold both the fount and the flow!

Friedrich von Schiller

Astrophel and Stella: XCII

Be your words made, good sir, of Indian ware,
That you allow me them by so small rate?
Or do you cutted Spartans imitate?
Or do you mean my tender ears to spare,
That to my questions you so total are?
When I demand of Phúnix Stella's state,
You say, forsooth, you left her well of late:
O God, think you that satisfies my care?
I would know whether she did sit or walk;
How cloth'd, how waited on; sigh'd she, or smil'd;
Whereof, with whom, how often did she talk;
With what pastime time's journey she beguiled;
If her lips deign'd to sweeten my poor name.
Say all; and all well said, still say the same.

Sir Philip Sidney

Sonnet CXLVIII

O me, what eyes hath Love put in my head,
Which have no correspondence with true sight!
Or, if they have, where is my judgment fled,
That censures falsely what they see aright?
If that be fair whereon my false eyes dote,
What means the world to say it is not so?
If it be not, then love doth well denote
Love's eye is not so true as all men's 'No.'
How can it? O, how can Love's eye be true,
That is so vex'd with watching and with tears?
No marvel then, though I mistake my view;
The sun itself sees not till heaven clears.
O cunning Love! with tears thou keep'st me blind,
Lest eyes well-seeing thy foul faults should find.

William Shakespeare

Stand-To: Good Friday Morning

Iíd been on duty from two till four.
I went and stared at the dug-out door.
Down in the frowst I heard them snore.
ĎStand to!í Somebody grunted and swore.
Dawn was misty; the skies were still;
Larks were singing, discordant, shrill;
They seemed happy; but I felt ill.
Deep in water I splashed my way
Up the trench to our bogged front line.
Rain had fallen the whole damned night.
O Jesus, send me a wound to-day,
And Iíll believe in Your bread and wine,
And get my bloody old sins washed white!

Siegfried Sassoon

Lines in Praise of Mr. J. Graham Henderson, Hawick

Success to Mr J. Graham Henderson, who is a good man,
And to gainsay it there's few people can,
I say so from my own experience,
And experience is a great defence.

He is a good man, I venture to say,
Which I declare to the world without dismay,
Because he's given me a suit of Tweeds, magnificent to see,
So good that it cannot be surpassed in Dundee.

The suit is the best of Tweed cloth in every way,
And will last me for many a long day;
It's really good, and in no way bad,
And will help to make my heart feel glad.

He's going to send some goods to the World's Fair,
And I hope of patronage he will get the biggest share;
Because his Tweed cloth is the best I ever did see,
In the year of our Lord eighteen hundred and ninety-three.

At the International Exhibition, and the Isle of Man Exhibition,
He got a gold medal from each, in recognition
Of his Scotch Tweeds, so good and grand,
Which cannot be surpassed in fair Scotland.

Therefore, good people, his goods are really grand,
And manufactured at Weensforth Mill, Hawick, Scotland;
Where there's always plenty of Tweeds on hand,
For the ready cash at the people's command.

Mr Tocher measured me for the suit,
And it is very elegant, which no one will dispute,
And I hope Mr Henry in Reform Street
Will gain customers by it, the suit is so complete.

William Topaz McGonagall

the good soldier

on someone else's place
it seems to him the land
slings distance way out
the dirt is dead and
the sky seems twisted
the beat of the stones is wrong
he doesn't know how to say it
there are no words no opportunity
and anyway
what would you say
that you're a stranger
and this doesn't say it at all

he walks with his weapon through the town
and from time to time he sees the luscious curl
of intimacy the uncommon common life
it's dressed differently he can't understand
the language rasping and gargling
another time he'd be an interested tourist
now he's a hunter and the hunted

soon they say
he'll be freed to retreat home
where the earth is vein deep
and when he puts his hand on the ground
he'll feel it beating but now
he can't remember home
though he knows the words well enough
back paddock Steve's paddock the yard
it's just words but now the imam calls
and winds a veil around his senses
and sometimes he thinks he'll never
get back to where he belonged

Chris Mansell

Good Friday

O my chief good,
How shall I measure out thy blood?
How shall I count what thee befell,
And each grief tell?

Shall I thy woes
Number according to thy foes?
Or, since one star show'd thy first breath,
Shall all thy death?

Or shall each leaf,
Which falls in Autumn, score a grief?
Or cannot leaves, but fruit be sign
Of the true vine?

Then let each hour
Of my whole life one grief devour:
That thy distress through all may run,
And be my sun.

Or rather let
My several sins their sorrows get;
That as each beast his cure doth know,
Each sin may so.

Since blood is fittest, Lord to write
Thy sorrows in, and bloody fight;
My heart hath store, write there, where in
One box doth lie both ink and sin:

That when sin spies so many foes,
Thy whips, thy nails, thy wounds, thy woes
All come to lodge there, sin may say,
'No room for me', and fly away.

Sin being gone, oh fill the place,
And keep possession with thy grace;
Lest sin take courage and return,
And all the writings blot or burn.

George Herbert

Good-night

MANY ways to spell good night.

Fireworks at a pier on the Fourth of July spell it with red wheels and yellow spokes.

They fizz in the air, touch the water and quit.
Rockets make a trajectory of gold-and-blue and then go out.

Railroad trains at night spell with a smokestack mushrooming a white pillar.

Steamboats turn a curve in the Mississippi crying in a baritone that crosses lowland cottonfields to a razorback hill.
It is easy to spell good night.

Many ways to spell good night.

Carl Sandburg

Addressed To Haydon

High-mindedness, a jealousy for good,
A loving-kindness for the great man's fame,
Dwells here and there with people of no name,
In noisome alley, and in pathless wood:
And where we think the truth least understood,
Oft may be found a "singleness of aim,"
That ought to frighten into hooded shame
A money-mongering, pitiable brood.
How glorious this affection for the cause
Of steadfast genius, toiling gallantly!
What when a stout unbending champion awes
Envy and malice to their native sty?
Unnumbered souls breathe out a still applause,
Proud to behold him in his country's eye.

John Keats

Oh, It Is Good

Oh, it is good to drink and sup,
And then beside the kindly fire
To smoke and heap the faggots up,
And rest and dream to heart's desire.

Oh, it is good to ride and run,
To roam the greenwood wild and free;
To hunt, to idle in the sun,
To leap into the laughing sea.

Oh, it is good with hand and brain
To gladly till the chosen soil,
And after honest sweat and strain
To see the harvest of one's toil.

Oh, it is good afar to roam,
And seek adventure in strange lands;
Yet oh, so good the coming home,
The velvet love of little hands.

So much is good. . . . We thank Thee, God,
For all the tokens Thou hast given,
That here on earth our feet have trod
Thy little shining trails of Heaven.

Robert W. Service

Two Husbands

Unpenitent, I grieve to state,
Two good men stood by heaven's gate,
Saint Peter coming to await.
The stopped the Keeper of the Keys,
Saying: "What suppliants are these,
Who wait me not on bended knees?

"To get my heavenly Okay
A man should have been used to pray,
Or suffered in some grievous way."

"Oh I have suffered," cried the first.
"Of wives I had the wicked worst,
Who made my life a plague accurst.

"Such martyrdom no tongue can tell;
In mercy's name it is not well
To doom me to another hell."

Saint Peter said: "I comprehend;
But tribulations have their end.
The gate is open, - go my friend."

Then said the second: "What of me?
More I deserve to pass than he,
For I've been wedded twice, you see."

Saint Peter looked at him a while,
And then he answered with a smile:
"Your application I will file.

"Yet twice in double yoke you've driven . . .
Though sinners with our Saints we leaven,
We don't take IMBECILES in heaven."

Robert W. Service

We dream -- it is good we are dreaming --
It would hurt us -- were we awake --
But since it is playing -- kill us,
And we are playing -- shriek --

What harm? Men die -- externally --
It is a truth -- of Blood --
But we -- are dying in Drama --
And Drama -- is never dead --

Cautious -- We jar each other --
And either -- open the eyes --
Lest the Phantasm -- prove the Mistake --
And the livid Surprise

Cool us to Shafts of Granite --
With just an Age -- and Name --
And perhaps a phrase in Egyptian --
It's prudenter -- to dream --

Emily Dickinson

Salve!

TO live within a cave--it is most good;
But, if God make a day,
And some one come, and say,
'Lo! I have gather'd faggots in the wood!'
E'en let him stay,
And light a fire, and fan a temporal mood!

So sit till morning! when the light is grown
That he the path can read,
Then bid the man God-speed!
His morning is not thine: yet must thou own
They have a cheerful warmth--those ashes on the stone.

Thomas Edward Brown

A Pity, We Were Such A Good Invention

They amputated
Your thighs off my hips.
As far as I'm concerned
They are all surgeons. All of them.

They dismantled us
Each from the other.
As far as I'm concerned
They are all engineers. All of them.

A pity. We were such a good
And loving invention.
An aeroplane made from a man and wife.
Wings and everything.
We hovered a little above the earth.

We even flew a little.

Yehuda Amichai

Fighting Words

Say my love is easy had,
Say I'm bitten raw with pride,
Say I am too often sad-
Still behold me at your side.

Say I'm neither brave nor young,
Say I woo and coddle care,
Say the devil touched my tongue-
Still you have my heart to wear.

But say my verses do not scan,
And I get me another man!

Dorothy Parker

A few kind words

A few kind words, what can be bought with that?
In essence just a clique of tidy prose,
a verb, a noun, perhaps an adjectival phrase
offered in the form of venal praise
Ė and be surprised at what it buys.
Like a fleeting smile itís currency outweighs
the simple form, a hint of urbane compliment,
a subtle implement to sway discursive
dissertation, stun a lengthy recitation,
steal the centre ground; oh, so was that smile
for me? Profound congratulations are implied,
and truth denied, we always need a dose of that!
Iíll put it in my hat, my ego is well fed enough
and poets with a fat, indulgent ego are a nuisance
to the trade. Thank you for your words;
these words are yours in kind to muse,
I hope youíll find some joy in that.
© I.D. Carswell
June 2006

Ivan Donn Carswell

Sonnet III: Taking My Pen

Taking my pen, with words to cast my woe,
Duly to count the sum of all my cares,
I find my griefs innumerable grow,
The reckonings rise to millions of despairs;
And thus dividing of my fatal hours,
The payments of my love I read and cross,
Subtracting, set my sweets unto my sours,
My joy's arrearage leads me to my loss;
And thus mine eye's a debtor to thine eye,
Which by extortion gaineth all their looks;
My heart hath paid such grievous usury
That all their wealth lies in thy beauty's books,
And all is thine which hath been due to me,
And I a bankrupt, quite undone by thee.

Michael Drayton

Lines in Defence of the Stage

Good people of high and low degree,
I pray ye all be advised by me,
And don't believe what the clergy doth say,
That by going to the theatre you will be led astray.

No, in the theatre we see vice punished and virtue rewarded,
The villain either hanged or shot, and his career retarded;
Therefore the theatre is useful in every way,
And has no inducement to lead the people astray.

Because therein we see the end of the bad men,
Which must appall the audience - deny it who can
Which will help to retard them from going astray,
While witnessing in a theatre a moral play.

The theatre ought to be encouraged in every respect,
Because example is better than precept,
And is bound to have a greater effect
On the minds of theatre-goers in every respect.

Sometimes in theatres, guilty creatures there have been
Struck to the soul by the cunning of the scene;
By witnessing a play wherein murder is enacted,
They were proven to be murderers, they felt so distracted,

And left the theatre, they felt so much fear,
Such has been the case, so says Shakespeare.
And such is my opinion, I will venture to say,
That murderers will quake with fear on seeing murder in a play.

Hamlet discovered his father's murderer by a play
That he composed for the purpose, without dismay,
And the king, his uncle, couldn't endure to see that play,
And he withdrew from the scene without delay.

And by that play the murder was found out,
And clearly proven, without any doubt;
Therefore, stage representation has a greater effect
On the minds of the people than religious precept.

We see in Shakespeare's tragedy of Othello, which is sublime,
Cassio losing his lieutenancy through drinking wine;
And, in delirium and grief, he exclaims -
"Oh, that men should put an enemy in their mouths to steal away their brains!"

A young man in London went to the theatre one night
To see the play of George Barnwell, and he got a great fright;
He saw George Barnwell murder his uncle in the play,
And he had resolved to murder his uncle, but was stricken with dismay.

But when he saw George Barnwell was to be hung
The dread of murdering his uncle tenaciously to him clung,
That he couldn't murder and rob his uncle dear,
Because the play he saw enacted filled his heart with fear.

And, in conclusion, I will say without dismay,
Visit the theatre without delay,
Because the theatre is a school of morality,
And hasn't the least tendency to lead to prodigality.

William Topaz McGonagall

What the Captain Said at the Point-to-Point

Iíve had a good bump round; my little horse
Refused the brook first time,
Then jumped it prime;
And ran out at the double,
But of course
Thereís always trouble at a double:
And thenóI donít know how
It wasóhe turned it up
At that big, hairy fence before the plough;
And some young silly pup
(I donít know which),
Near as a toucher knocked me into the ditch;
But we finished full of running, and quite sound:
And anyhow Iíve had a good bump round.

Siegfried Sassoon

Good Friday in my Heart

GOOD FRIDAY in my heart! Fear and affright!
My thoughts are the Disciples when they fled,
My words the words that priest and soldier said,
My deed the spear to desecrate the dead.
And day, Thy death therein, is changed to night.

Then Easter in my heart sends up the sun.
My thoughts are Mary, when she turned to see.
My words are Peter, answering, ĎLovíst thou Me?í
My deeds are all Thine own drawn close to Thee,
And night and day, since Thou dost rise, are one.

Mary Elizabeth Coleridge
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