Text of UNIT 6- POETRY English II World Literature. TYPES OF POEMS The Sonnet The Acrostic The Ode The...
UNIT 6- POETRYEnglish II World Literature
TYPES OF POEMS • The Sonnet
• The Acrostic
• The Ode
• The Riddle Poem
• The Villanelle
• The Ekphrasis
• The Elegy
• The Narrative Poem
A fixed verse form of Italian origin consisting of 14 lines that are typically 5-foot iambics rhyming according to a prescribed scheme
The first and most common sonnet is the Petrarchan, or Italian. Named after one of its greatest practitioners, the Italian poet Petrarch.
Rhyme Scheme= abba, abba, cdecde or cdcdcd
two stanzas: the octave (the first eight lines) the sestet (the final six lines).
The importance of line 9: Since the Petrarchan presents an argument, observation, question, or some
other answerable charge in the octave, a turn, or volta, occurs between the eighth and ninth lines. This turn marks a shift in the direction of the foregoing argument or narrative, turning the sestet into the vehicle for the counterargument, clarification, or whatever answer the octave demands.
1. Milton! thou shouldst be living at this hour: - A2. England hath need of thee: she is a fen - B3. Of stagnant waters: altar, sword, and pen, - B4. Fireside, the heroic wealth of hall and bower, - A5. Have forfeited their ancient English dower - A6. Of inward happiness. We are selfish men; - B7. Oh! raise us up, return to us again; - B8. And give us manners, virtue, freedom, power. - AOctave - Introduces the theme or problem9. Thy soul was like a Star, and dwelt apart; - C10. Thou hadst a voice whose sound was like the sea: - D11. Pure as the naked heavens, majestic, free, - D12. So didst thou travel on life's common way, - E13. In cheerful godliness; and yet thy heart - C14. The lowliest duties on herself did lay. - ESestet – Addresses or answers the theme or problem
The Shakespearean Sonnet is also popular.
Rhyme Scheme= abab, cdcd, efef, gg.
four stanzas: three quatrains (3 stanzas of 4 lines) and a couplet (1 stanza of 2 lines)
The importance of the couplet: The couplet plays a pivotal role, usually arriving in
the form of a conclusion, amplification, or even refutation of the previous three stanzas, often creating an epiphanic quality to the end.
My mistress' eyes are nothing like the sun;Coral is far more red than her lips' red; If snow be white, why then her breasts are dun; If hairs be wires, black wires grow on her head.
I have seen roses damasked, red and white, But no such roses see I in her cheeks; And in some perfumes is there more delightThan in the breath that from my mistress reeks.
I love to hear her speak, yet well I knowThat music hath a far more pleasing sound; I grant I never saw a goddess go; My mistress when she walks treads on the ground.
And yet, by heaven, I think my love as rareAs any she belied with false compare.
The Modern Sonnet
The old form is used in new ways
Recognize : 14 lines / or some by name only
1.Nothing was ever what it claimed to be,2.the earth, blue egg, in its seeping shell3.dispensing damage like a hollow hell4.inchling weeping for a minor sea
5.ticking its tidelets, x and y and z.6.The blue beneficence we call and spell7.and call blue heaven, the whiteblue well8.of constant water, deepening a thee,
9.a thou and who, touching every what—10.and in the or, a shudder in the cut—11.and that you are, blue mirror, only stare
12.bluest blankness, whether in the where,13.sheen that bleeds blue beauty we are taught14.drowns and booms and vowels. I will not.
Strand and Boland describe the ode: “It elevated the person, the object, to occasion” (240). They continue to relate that the ode is a dynamic art form which in the beginning in ceremonial terms, praised heroic deeds and later, during the Romantic period, in less ceremonial forms, celebrated life. Though not a common form today, its influences are still felt.
A dignified three-part song sung by the chorus in Greek Drama.
The parts are the strophe, the antistrophe, and the epode.
In poetry – The ode is a poem that gives tribute or praise to someone or something.
The Strophe –
The first of the three parts of the verse ode sung by a Greek chorus. While singing the strophe, the chorus moves in a dancelike pattern from right to left.
The second of the three parts of the verse ode sung by the chorus in a Greek drama. During the antistrophe, the chorus moves from left to right – back to the original position.
The third of the three parts of the verse ode sung by the chorus in a Greek drama.
Throughout time, there have been several variations on the form resulting in particular ode types: the Pindaric and the Horation. The Pindaric form has a three tier structure and often employs metaphor to amplify emotion. In 1656, Cowley published Pindarique Odes, and with this publication, ushered in an even newer version that was freer and more irregular in form and it was this more irregular type which became known as Pindarics. William Wordsworth’s Ode: Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood, (1802-1804) is an English example of this form.
No, no, go not to Lethe, neither twist Wolf's-bane, tight-rooted, for its poisonous wine; Nor suffer thy pale forehead to be kiss'd By nightshade, ruby grape of Proserpine; Make not your rosary of yew-berries, Nor let the beetle, nor the death-moth be Your mournful Psyche, nor the downy owl A partner in your sorrow's mysteries; For shade to shade will come too drowsily, And drown the wakeful anguish of the soul.
But when the melancholy fit shall fall Sudden from heaven like a weeping cloud, That fosters the droop-headed flowers all, And hides the green hill in an April shroud; Then glut thy sorrow on a morning rose, Or on the rainbow of the salt sand-wave, Or on the wealth of globed peonies; Or if thy mistress some rich anger shows, Emprison her soft hand, and let her rave, And feed deep, deep upon her peerless eyes.
She dwells with Beauty—Beauty that must die; And Joy, whose hand is ever at his lips Bidding adieu; and aching Pleasure nigh, Turning to poison while the bee-mouth sips: Ay, in the very temple of Delight Veil'd Melancholy has her sovran shrine, Though seen of none save him whose strenuous tongue Can burst Joy's grape against his palate fine; His soul shalt taste the sadness of her might, And be among her cloudy trophies hung.
• A riddle is a type of poetry that describes something without actually naming what it is, leaving the reader to guess.
• A riddle is a light hearted type of poetry which involves the reader.
• Riddles can be about anything, from riddles about animals to riddles about objects. There are no rules on how to structure a riddle poem, a riddle can be funny or it can rhyme, it depends on the person writing the riddle.
Example of a rhyming riddle
I come in different stylesI can help one walk for milesI come in a pairI’m something you wearWith heels I am glamCan you guess what I am …?
This thing all things devours:Birds, trees, beasts, flowers;Gnaws iron, bites steel;Grinds hard stones to meal;Slays kings, ruins town,And beats high mountains down.
• In this form, a word or phrase is coordinated by the first letter of each line.
acrostic poem - history
According to nineteenth century literary historian Charles Vaughan Grinfield, the form originated in ancient times and functioned to “impress the memory, by means of alphabetic associations with the truths or facts contained in the verses” (iv). Acrostics existed in a number of different languages, from Ancient Greek to Hebrew, before arriving in the English language.
January 19, 1809- 1849
A Modern Example
• In more modern times, Edgar Allan Poe adopted the form for his 1829 poem “An Acrostic,” where the name Elizabeth is spelled out by the first letter of each line:
An Acrostica poem by Poe
Elizabeth it is in vain you say“Love not” — thou sayest it in so sweet a way:In vain those words from thee or L.E.L.Zantippe's talents had enforced so well:Ah! if that language from thy heart arise,Breath it less gently forth — and veil thine eyes.Endymion, recollect, when Luna triedTo cure his love — was cured of all beside —His follie — pride — and passion — for he died.
• N ote: In the fourth line, the reader can see how Poe responds to the demands of the acrostic form by writing the name Xantippe with a Z (as in Zantippe) to preserve the integrity of the poem.
Meeting the Demands of the Form Elizabeth it is in vain you say
“Love not” — thou sayest it in so sweet a way:In vain those words from thee or L.E.L.Zantippe's talents had enforced so well:Ah! if that language from thy heart arise,Breath it less gently forth — and veil thine eyes.Endymion, recollect, when Luna triedTo cure his love — was cured of all beside —His follie — pride — and passion — for he died.
In the fourth line, the reader can see how Poe responds to the demands of the acrostic form by writing the name Xantippe with a Z (as in Zantippe) to preserve the integrity of the poem.
“No Sun Shines Today”No sun shines today; it is the blazing eye ofUnholy design that scorches the earth at our feet.Chasing the devil’s tail, were we, when weLet this monstrosity come to be. Nevertheless, toErr is to be human, but to impose is to be more human,And we know that well, for upon that one thoughtRests the fabric of all our decisions and practices.
War is when a gleaming death parcel whistling aboveExplains the irony that a grain of life should becomeA particle of death; the irony that our white-coatPatriot saints should become white-faced in horrorOn hearing the chorus of shrill cries at ground zero.Nevertheless, to impose is to be human, but toSubdue is to be most human, for that is our nature.
And where is the sport of it, when there are noRemaining souls to subdue, values to impose, orErrors to make in the dead vacuum of time and space?
The hubris of man is attained, realized in anEarth-quaking spectacle, a torrent of fiery despairRippling across the dirt. A particle perched in the airReduced by half announces its explosive preambleOver valleys and cities, and the carrion are left toRot as vermin in the hanging malaria of fallout.Its high-yield payload broke records today—So, what? We’re not any more dead, or less.Memento mori is the lecture, but who will listen?
Work CitedGrinfield, Charles Vaughan. A
Century of Acrostics. London: Simpkin, Marshall & Co., 1855.
Stanzas 1-5 = 3 lines each aba rhyme
Stanza 6 = 4lines abaa rhyme
2 REFRAINS: Line 1 of stanza 1 repeats as the last line of stanzas 2 and 4 and line 3 of stanza 6.
Line 3 of stanza 1 repeats as the last lines of stanzas 3 and 5 and the last line in stanza 6
A poem with 19 Lines and 6 stanzas and 2 refrains
“Unlike most other rhymed poems . . . the villanelle repeats one sound thirteen times and other six. And two entire lines are repeated four times” (Strand and Boland 8).
And though many writers use the form to write about loss, the form itself carries the meaning of “retrieval” or rebirth.
This is interesting to me because of the earlier speculation that the poem sparked up along with an agricultural task of “binding sheaves” or “scything” (Strand and Boland 6) which is associated with death and at the same time life.
Writers for Norton suggests that this, “verse form derived from an earlier Italian folk song, retains the circular pattern of a peasant dance” (Ferguson, Salter and Stallworthy 1269). An important example of this complicated form is The Waking by Roethke.
An important example of this complicated form is The Waking by Roethke.
Read the Poem and answer these questions: Villanelle
Title: __________________________ Author: ________________________ # of lines __________________ Number of stanzas _______________ Lines per stanza _____________________
________________________________ Any words stand out? _________________
ReRead the Poem • Mark the Rhyme Scheme• Mark the meter • How many feet per line?
– A poem that responds to a piece of art _
THE EKPHRASIS • The earliest and best known example of ekphrasis is the long description of the shield in Book 18 of the Iliad by Homer.
• This shield was made by Hephaistos and given to Achilles by his mother Thetis.
Homer gives a detailed description of the imagery which decorates the new shield. Starting from the shield's center and moving outward, circle layer by circle layer, the shield is laid out as follows:The Earth, sky and sea, the sun, the moon and the constellations (484–89)"Two beautiful cities full of people": in one a wedding and a law case are taking place (490–508); the other city is besieged by one feuding army and the shield shows an ambush and a battle (509–40).A field being ploughed for the third time (541–49).A king's estate where the harvest is being reaped (550–60).A vineyard with grape pickers (561–72).A "herd of straight-horned cattle"; the lead bull has been attacked by a pair of savage lions which the herdsmen and their dogs are trying to beat off (573–86).A picture of a sheep farm (587–89).A dancing-floor where young men and women are dancing (590–606).The great stream of Ocean (607–609).
THE EKPHRASIS • The earliest and best known example of ekphrasis is the long description
of the shield made by Hephaistos and given to Achilles by his mother Thetis. (The passage is found in Book 18 of the Iliad.) Low-relief sculpture embossed in metal on the surface of the shield is described in elaborate detail. Hephaistos's subjects include constellations, pastures, dancing, and great cities. In fact, visual notation is so extensive that critics have commented that no actual shield in the real world would be able to contain the disparate elements mentioned.
• So then Homer has imagined a work of art that could not, materially, exist. The immaterial nature of verbal art allows him to do this. The effect on the reader of his description is multi-faceted. On one hand, it tends to move the narrative farther away from ordinary plausibility. On the other, it provides a dreamlike expansion of the subject at hand and allows the poet to make oblique comments on the Iliad's main narrative.
• Corn in his article Notes on Ekphrasis points to an early example of a poetic description of art is in Book 18 of Homer’s Iliad. In this passage the art depicted on a shield is described in great detail.
• In this passage, Homer embellishes reality.
• In the twentieth century many poets produced ekphrastic poems, and the vast majority of these concern actual, not imaginary works of art. Consider, for example, Rilke's "Archaic Torso of Apollo" ; Marianne Moore's "No Swan so Fine" and "Nine Peaches"; Wallace Stevens's "Angel Between Two Paysans"; William Carlos Williams's Pictures from Breughel ; John Berryman's "Hunters in the Snow"; Randall Jarrell's "Knight, Death and the Devil"; W. H. Auden's "The Shield of Achilles," and Elizabeth Bishop's "Large Bad Picture" and "Poem." In recent times there have been a large number of examples, in fact, several anthologies of ekphrastic poems have been assembled, sometimes commissioned by museums whose collections are featured.
• In the 1900’s, more and more poets began to describe actual works of art, rather than imagined.
• Some ekphrastic poems describe photographs, and these may be art photographs or else ordinary snapshots, the latter often depicting members of the poet's family.
The Great Wave 神奈川沖浪裏By Amy Craig Beasley Okinami – mighty in the open oceanoff Kanagawa—Two fisherman’s boats climbThe mountain, Fuji. Blue and blue and blue and whiteRowing, reeling, rising roar
Okinami – mighty in the open ocean Centered solid permanentWall of waterThe mountain, Fuji. OminousBeautiful Okinami Capped in whiteAnd a white sprayThe mountain, Fuji. Rising cloud in pinkish skyThe guard whispers,“Closing time.”Okinami – mighty in the open oceanThe mountain, Fuji.
The Narrative Poem
A poem that tells a story
A narrative poem takes the form of a story. Narrative poetry originated in the oral tradition, and its formal meter and rhyme structure made it easier to memorize and deliver orally to a crowd. Thus, it is one of the oldest forms of poetry. Outside of the metered verse, a narrative poem shares many literary attributes with short stories and novels including narrator, characters, setting, plot, conflict and resolution.
A narrative poem is told from the point of view of a narrator. This narrator can be a main character in the story, a character who has witnessed the particular events of the story, or a character who is retelling the story he has heard from someone else. Because this form of poetry originated in the oral tradition, the poet is neither a character in the story nor the narrator of the story.
A narrative poem contains a formal meter and rhyme structure. This structure is not predictable, but instead uses different poetic tools and literary devices, such as symbolism, assonance, consonance, alliteration, and repetition, in different combinations throughout the poem. Furthermore, a narrative poem is typically broken into stanzas that contain a series of cinquains or rhyming couplets.
A narrative poem always tells a story. A story is made up of a setting, characters, events, and a conflict, and, like other forms of narrative, such as novels and short stories, narrative poems typically begin with descriptions of characters and setting. Though most narrative poetry is fictional, it can also be nonfictional and tell the story of a war or a biography of a real person. A narrative poem can also be a combination of these two elements such as the early narrative poem, Homer’s “The Iliad.” This poem is about the 10-year siege of the city of Troy, during the Trojan War. The setting of the poem is considered nonfictional, but story of the quarrel between Achilles and Agamemnon is considered fictional.
Purpose and Examples
The main purpose of narrative poetry is to entertain, and it uses imagery, figurative language and different sound patterns to grab and hold the audience’s attention. Because its main function is to entertain, a narrative poem does have any expressions of the poet’s thoughts or feelings. Early examples of narrative poems are “The Epic of Gilgamesh,” Homer’s “Odyssey” and Virgil’s “Aeneid.” Homer’s work influenced later narrative poems like “Beowulf,” Chaucer’s “The Canterbury Tales” and “The Book of the Duchess,” and Dante’s “Divine Comedy.” Narrative poetry rose in popularity during the 18th and 19th centuries in Britain. Examples include a variety of works by Lord Tennyson, Lord Byron, John Keats, William Wordsworth, Lewis Carroll and Edgar Allan Poe. Though narrative poetry is one of the oldest poetic traditions, it continues to be relevant because of its ability to tell entertaining and informative stories.
The Odyssey is an example of an early narrative poem
A poem in honor of one who has died
As a poetic form, the elegy serves to express pain and sorrow felt at the loss of something or someone, and as it is utilized to express grief it also relates the virtues once held by the one now deceased.
“The elegy … is not associated with any required pattern or cadence or repetition” (Strand and Boland 166).
The elegy is a free form
The elegy captures the ritual of life and death and is public in nature. It is a funeral song, a lament for the dead.
“In all societies, death constitutes a cultural event—with all the superstitions and household gods of such a event—as well as a individual loss” (Strand and Boland 168).
Her Final Summer Was It by Emily Dickinson Her final summer was it, 7And yet we guessed it not;6If tenderer industriousness8Pervaded her, we thought 6 A further force of life 6Developed from within, -- 7When Death lit all the shortness up,8And made the hurry plain.6 We wondered at our blindness, --7When nothing was to see 6But her Carrara guide-post, --8At our stupidity, 6 When, duller than our dulness,7The busy darling lay,6So busy was she, finishing,8So leisurely were we! 6
O Captain! My Captain!By Walt Whitman
O Captain! my Captain! our fearful trip is done, The ship has weather'd every rack, the prize we sought is won, The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting, While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring; But O heart! heart! heart! O the bleeding drops of red, Where on the deck my Captain lies, Fallen cold and dead. O Captain! my Captain! rise up and hear the bells; Rise up- for you the flag is flung- for you the bugle trills, For you bouquets and ribbon'd wreaths- for you the shores a-crowding, For you they call, the swaying mass, their eager faces turning; Here Captain! dear father! This arm beneath your head! It is some dream that on the deck, You've fallen cold and dead.
My Captain does not answer, his lips are pale and still, My father does not feel my arm, he has no pulse nor will, The ship is anchor'd safe and sound, its voyage closed and done, From fearful trip the victor ship comes in with object won; Exult O shores, and ring O bells! But I with mournful tread, Walk the deck my Captain lies, Fallen cold and dead.
When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom’d Walt Whitman (1819–1892)
1 WHEN lilacs last in the
dooryard bloom’d,And the great star early
droop’d in the western sky in the night,
I mourn’d, and yet shall mourn with ever-returning spring.
Ever-returning spring, trinity sure to me you bring,
Lilac blooming perennial and drooping star in the west,
And thought of him I love.
2 O powerful western fallen
star!O shades of night—O
moody, tearful night!O great star disappear’d—O
the black murk that hides the star!
O cruel hands that hold me powerless—O helpless soul of me!
O harsh surrounding cloud that will not free my soul.
3 In the dooryard fronting an old farm-
house near the white-wash’d palings,
Stands the lilac-bush tall-growing with heart-shaped leaves of rich green,
With many a pointed blossom rising delicate, with the perfume strong I love,
With every leaf a miracle—and from this bush in the dooryard, 15
With delicate-color’d blossoms and heart-shaped leaves of rich green,
A sprig with its flower I break.
4 In the swamp in secluded
recesses,A shy and hidden bird is warbling
a song. Solitary the thrush, 20The hermit withdrawn to himself,
avoiding the settlements,Sings by himself a song. Song of the bleeding throat,Death’s outlet song of life (for
well dear brother I know,If thou wast not granted to sing
thou would’st surely die).
5 Over the breast of the spring, the land,
amid cities,Amid lanes and through old woods, where
lately the violets peep’d from the ground, spotting the gray débris,
Amid the grass in the fields each side of the lanes, passing the endless grass,
Passing the yellow-spear’d wheat, every grain from its shroud in the dark-brown fields uprisen,
Passing the apple-tree blows of white and pink in the orchards, 30
Carrying a corpse to where it shall rest in the grave,
Night and day journeys a coffin.
6 Coffin that passes through lanes and streets,Through day and night with the great cloud
darkening the land,With the pomp of the inloop’d flags with the cities
draped in black, 35With the show of the States themselves as of
crape-veil’d women standing,With processions long and winding and the
flambeaus of the night,With the countless torches lit, with the silent sea
of faces and the unbared heads,With the waiting depot, the arriving coffin, and the
sombre faces,With dirges through the night, with the thousand
voices rising strong and solemn, 40With all the mournful voices of the dirges pour’d
around the coffin,The dim-lit churches and the shuddering organs—
where amid these you journey,With the tolling tolling bells’ perpetual clang,Here, coffin that slowly passes,I give you my sprig of lilac. 45
7 (Nor for you, for one alone,Blossoms and branches green to coffins all I
bring,For fresh as the morning, thus would I chant
a song for you O sane and sacred death. All over bouquets of roses, 50O death, I cover you over with roses and
early lilies,But mostly and now the lilac that blooms
the first,Copious I break, I break the sprigs from the
bushes,With loaded arms I come, pouring for you,For you and the coffins all of you O death.)
8 O western orb sailing the heaven,Now I know what you must have meant as a month
since I walk’d,As I walk’d in silence the transparent shadowy night,
As I saw you had something to tell as you bent to me night after night,
As you droop’d from the sky low down as if to my side (while the other stars all look’d on), 60
As we wander’d together the solemn night (for something I know not what kept me from sleep),
As the night advanced, and I saw on the rim of the west how full you were of woe,
As I stood on the rising ground in the breeze in the cool transparent night,
As I watch’d where you pass’d and was lost in the netherward black of the night,
As my soul in its trouble dissatisfied sank, as where you sad orb, 65
Concluded, dropt in the night, and was gone. 9 Sing on there in the swamp,O singer bashful and tender, I hear your notes, I hear
your call,I hear, I come presently, I understand you,But a moment I linger, for the lustrous star has
detain’d me, 70The star my departing comrade holds and detains
10 O how shall I warble myself for the dead one there I loved?And how shall I deck my song for the large sweet soul that has gone?And what shall my perfume be for the grave of him I love? Sea-winds blown from east and west, 75Blown from the Eastern sea and blown from the Western sea, till there on the prairies meeting,
These and with these and the breath of my chant,I’ll perfume the grave of him I love. 11 O what shall I hang on the chamber walls?And what shall the pictures be that I hang on the walls, 80To adorn the burial-house of him I love? Pictures of growing spring and farms and homes,With the Fourth-month eve at sundown, and the gray smoke lucid and bright,With floods of the yellow gold of the gorgeous, indolent, sinking sun, burning, expanding the air,
With the fresh sweet herbage under foot, and the pale green leaves of the trees prolific, 85In the distance the flowing glaze, the breast of the river, with a wind-dapple here and there,With ranging hills on the banks, with many a line against the sky, and shadows,And the city at hand with dwellings so dense, and stacks of chimneys,And all the scenes of life and the workshops, and the workmen homeward returning.
12 Lo, body and soul—this land, 90My own Manhattan with spires, and the sparkling and hurrying tides, and the ships,The varied and ample land, the South and the North in the light, Ohio’s shores and
flashing Missouri,And ever the far-spreading prairies cover’d with grass and corn. Lo, the most excellent sun so calm and haughty,The violet and purple morn with just-felt breezes, 95The gentle soft-born measureless light,The miracle spreading bathing all, the fulfill’d noon,The coming eve delicious, the welcome night and the stars,Over my cities shining all, enveloping man and land.
13 Sing on, sing on you gray-brown bird, 100Sing from the swamps, the recesses, pour your chant from the bushes,Limitless out of the dusk, out of the cedars and pines.Sing on dearest brother, warble your reedy song,Loud human song, with voice of uttermost woe.O liquid and free and tender! 105O wild and loose to my soul—O wondrous singer!You only I hear—yet the star holds me (but will soon depart),Yet the lilac with mastering odor holds me.
14 Now while I sat in the day and look’d forth,In the close of the day with its light and the fields of spring, and the farmers preparing their crops, 110In the large unconscious scenery of my land with its lakes and forests,In the heavenly aerial beauty (after the perturb’d winds and the storms),Under the arching heavens of the afternoon swift passing, and the voices of children and women,The many-moving sea-tides, and I saw the ships how they sail’d,And the summer approaching with richness, and the fields all busy with labor, 115And the infinite separate houses, how they all went on, each with its meals and minutia of daily usages,And the streets how their throbbings throbb’d, and the cities pent—lo, then and there,Falling upon them all and among them all, enveloping me with the rest,Appear’d the cloud, appear’d the long black trail,And I knew death, its thought, and the sacred knowledge of death. 120 Then with the knowledge of death as walking one side of me,And the thought of death close-walking the other side of me,And I in the middle as with companions, and as holding the hands of companions,I fled forth to the hiding receiving night that talks not,Down to the shores of the water, the path by the swamp in the dimness, 125To the solemn shadowy cedars and ghostly pines so still.And the singer so shy to the rest receiv’d me,The gray-brown bird I know receiv’d us comrades three,And he sang the carol of death, and a verse for him I love. From deep secluded recesses, 130From the fragrant cedars and the ghostly pines so still,Came the carol of the bird. And the charm of the carol rapt me,As I held as if by their hands my comrades in the night,And the voice of my spirit tallied the song of the bird. 135 Come lovely and soothing death,Undulate round the world, serenely arriving, arriving,In the day, in the night, to all, to each,Sooner or later delicate death.
Prais’d be the fathomless universe, 140For life and joy, and for objects and knowledge curious,And for love, sweet love—but praise! praise!For the sure-enwinding arms of cool-enfolding death. Dark mother always gliding near with soft feet,Have none chanted for thee a chant of fullest welcome? 145Then I chant it for thee, I glorify thee above all,I bring thee a song that when thou must indeed come, come unfalteringly. Approach strong deliveress,When it is so, when thou hast taken them I joyously sing the dead,Lost in the loving floating ocean of thee, 150Laved in the flood of thy bliss O death. From me to thee glad serenades,Dances for thee I propose saluting thee, adornments and feastings for thee,And the sights of the open landscape and the high-spread sky are fitting,And life and the fields, and the huge and thoughtful night. 155 The night in silence under many a star,The ocean shore and the husky whispering wave whose voice I know,And the soul turning to thee O vast and well-veil’d death,And the body gratefully nestling close to thee. Over the tree-tops I float thee a song, 160Over the rising and sinking waves, over the myriad fields and the prairies wide,Over the dense-pack’d cities all and the teeming wharves and ways,I float this carol with joy, with joy to thee O death.
15 To the tally of my soul,Loud and strong kept up the gray-brown bird, 165With pure deliberate notes spreading filling the night. Loud in the pines and cedars dim,Clear in the freshness moist and the swamp perfume,And I with my comrades there in the night. While my sight that was bound in my eyes unclosed, 170As to long panoramas of visions. And I saw askant the armies,I saw as in noiseless dreams hundreds of battle-flags,Borne through the smoke of the battles and pierc’d with missiles I saw them,And carried hither and you through the smoke, and torn and bloody, 175And at last but a few shreds left on the staffs (and all in silence),And the staffs all splinter’d and broken. I saw battle-corpses, myriads of them,And the white skeletons of young men, I saw them,I saw the débris and débris of all the slain soldiers of the war, 180But I saw they were not as was thought,They themselves were fully at rest, they suffer’d not,The living remain’d and suffer’d, the mother suffer’d,And the wife and the child and the musing comrade suffer’d,And the armies that remain’d suffer’d. 185
16 Passing the visions, passing the night,Passing, unloosing the hold of my comrades’ hands,Passing the song of the hermit bird and the tallying song of my soul,Victorious song, death’s outlet song, yet varying ever-altering song,As low and wailing, yet clear the notes, rising and falling, flooding the night, 190Sadly sinking and fainting, as warning and warning, and yet again bursting with joy,Covering the earth and filling the spread of the heaven,As that powerful psalm in the night I heard from recesses,Passing, I leave thee lilac with heart-shaped leaves,I leave thee there in the door-yard, blooming, returning with spring. 195 I cease from my song for thee,From my gaze on thee in the west, fronting the west, communing with thee, O comrade lustrous with silver face in the night. Yet each to keep and all, retrievements out of the night,The song, the wondrous chant of the gray-brown bird, 200And the tallying chant, the echo arous’d in my soul,With the lustrous and drooping star with the countenance full of woe,With the holders holding my hand nearing the call of the bird,Comrades mine and I in the midst, and their memory ever to keep, for the dead I loved so
well,For the sweetest, wisest soul of all my days and lands—and this for his dear sake, 205Lilac and star and bird twined with the chant of my soul,There in the fragrant pines and the cedars dusk and dim.