At a Dinner Party by Amy Levy

With fruit and flowers the board is deckt,
The wine and laughter flow;
I’ll not complain — could one expect
So dull a world to know?

You look across the fruit and flowers,
My glance your glances find. —
It is our secret, only ours,
Since all the world is blind.

Amy Levy
1861-1889

 

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wysiwyg by Russell Boyle

what you see
may be what
you get…

listen to this short three-stanza audio poem

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In Innocence by J. V. Cunningham

In innocence I said,
‘Affection is secure.
It is not forced or led.’
No longer sure

Of the least certainty
I have erased the mind,
As mendicants who see
Mimic the blind.

James Vincent Cunningham
1911-1985

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Things to Come by James Reeves

The shadow of a fat man in the moonlight
Precedes me on the road down which I go;
And should I turn and run, he would pursue me:
This is the man whom I must get to know.

James Reeves
1909-1978

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Do I Believe by Noel Coward

Do I believe in God?
Well yes, I suppose, in a sort of way.
It’s really terribly hard to say.
I’m sure there must be, of course
Some kind of vital, motive force,
Some power that holds the winning cards
Behind life’s ambiguous facades
But whether you think me odd or not
I can’t decide if it’s God or not.

I look at the changing sea and sky
And try to picture Eternity
I gaze at immensities of blue
And say to myself ‘It can’t be true
That somewhere up in that abstract sphere
Are all the people that once were here
Attired in white and shapeless gowns
Sitting on clouds like eiderdowns
Plucking on harps and twanging lutes
With cherubim in their birthday suits,
Set in an ageless, timeless dream
Part of a formulated scheme
Formulated before the Flood
Before the amoeba left the mud
And, stranded upon a rocky shelf
Proceeded to subdivide itself.’

I look at the changing sea and sky
And try to picture Infinity
I gaze at a multitude of stars
Envisaging the men on Mars
Wondering if they too are torn
Between their sunset and their dawn
By dreadful night-engendered fears
Of what may lie beyond their years
And if they too, through thick and thin,
Are dogged by consciousness of Sin.
Have they, to give them self-reliance,
A form of Martian Christian Science?
Or do they live in constant hope
Of dispensations from some Pope?

Are they pursued from womb to tomb
By hideous prophesies of doom?
Have they cathedral, church or chapel
Are they concerned with Adam’s Apple?
Have they immortal souls like us
Or are they less presumptuous?

Do I believe in God?
I can’t say No and I can’t say Yes
To me it’s anybody’s guess
But if all’s true that we once were told
Before we grew wise and sad and old
When finally Death rolls up our eyes
We’ll find we’re in for a big surprise.

Noel Coward
1899-1973

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Sonnet to Hope by Helen Maria Williams

Oh, ever skilled to wear the form we love!
To bid the shapes of fear and grief depart,
Come, gentle Hope! with one gay smile remove
The lasting sadness of an aching heart.
Thy voice, benign enchantress! let me hear;
Say that for me some pleasures yet shall bloom,
That fancy’s radiance, friendship’s precious tear,
Shall soften, or shall chase, misfortune’s gloom.
But come not glowing in the dazzling ray
Which once with dear illusions charmed my eye;
Oh, strew no more, sweet flatterer! on my way
The flowers I fondly thought too bright to die.
Visions less fair will soothe my pensive breast,
That asks not happiness, but longs for rest!

Helen Maria Williams
1759-1827

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Gnome by Samuel Beckett

Spend the years of learning squandering
Courage for the years of wandering
Through a world politely turning
From the loutishness of learning.

Samuel Beckett
1906-1989

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