Talking in Bed

Talking in bed ought to be easiest,
Lying together there goes back so far,
An emblem of two people being honest.

Yet more and more time passes silently.
Outside, the wind’s incomplete unrest
Builds and disperses clouds about the sky,

And dark towns heap up on the horizon.
None of this cares for us. Nothing shows why
At this unique distance from isolation

It becomes still more difficult to find
Words at once true and kind,
Or not untrue and not unkind.

— Philip Larkin


Sea Fever

I must go down to the seas again, to the
          lonely sea and the sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer
          her by;
And the wheel’s kick and the wind’s song and
          the white sail’s shaking,
And a grey mist on the sea’s face, and a grey
          dawn breaking.

I must go down to the seas again, for the call
          of the running tide
Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be
And all I ask is a windy day with the white
          clouds flying,
And the flung spray and the blown spume, and
          the sea-gulls crying.

I must go down to the seas again, to the
          vagrant gypsy life,
To the gull’s way and the whale’s way, where
          the wind’s like a whetted knife;
And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing
And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the
          long trick’s over.

— John Masefield


Do not go gentle into that good night

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

— Dylan Thomas


Mary Bly

I sit here, doing nothing, alone, worn out by long winter.
I feel the light breath of the newborn child.
Her face is smooth as the side of an apricot,
Eyes quick as her blond mother’s hands.
She has full, soft, red hair, and as she lies quiet
In her tall mother’s arms, her delicate hands
Weave back and forth.
I feel the seasons changing beneath me,
Under the floor.
She is braiding the waters of air into the plaited manes
Of happy colts.
They canter, without making a sound, along the shores
Of melting snow.

— James Wright


Camomile Tea

Outside the sky is light with stars;
There’s a hollow roaring from the sea.
And, alas! for the little almond flowers,
The wind is shaking the almond tree.

How little I thought, a year ago,
In that horrible cottage upon the Lee
That he and I should be sitting so
And sipping a cup of camomile tea!

Light as feathers the witches fly,
The horn of the moon is plain to see;
By a firefly under a jonquil flower
A goblin toasts a bumble-bee.

We might be fifty, we might be five,
So snug, so compact, so wise are we!
Under the kitchen-table leg
My knee is pressing against his knee.

Our shutters are shut, the fire is low,
The tap is dripping peacefully;
The saucepan shadows on the wall
Are black and round and plain to see.

— Katherine Mansfield



Have you forgotten what we were like then
when we were still first rate
and the day came fat with an apple in its mouth

it’s no use worrying about Time
but we did have a few tricks up our sleeves
and turned some sharp corners

the whole pasture looked like our meal
we didn’t need speedometers
we could manage cocktails out of ice and water

I wouldn’t want to be faster
or greener than now if you were with me O you
were the best of all my days

— Frank O’Hara


The Hunkering

In October the red leaves going brown heap and
over hayfield and dirt road, over garden and circular

and rise in a curl of wind dishevelled as
at recess, school just starting and summer done,

white quiet beginning in ice on the windshield, in
        hard frost
that only blue asters survive, and in the long houses
        that once

more tighten themselves for darkness and
        hunker down.

— Donald Hall


A Work of Artifice

The bonsai tree
in the attractive pot
could have grown eighty feet tall
on the side of a mountain
till split by lightning.
But a gardener
carefully pruned it.
It is nine inches high.
Every day as he
whittles back the branches
the gardener croons,
It is your nature
to be small and cozy,
domestic and weak;
how lucky, little tree,
to have a pot to grow in.
With living creatures
one must begin very early
to dwarf their growth:
the bound feet,
the crippled brain,
the hair in curlers,
the hands you
love to touch.

— Marge Piercy