Walt Whitman


Darest Thou Now O Soul

Darest thou now, O soul,

Walk out with me toward the unknown region,

Where neither ground is for the feet, nor any path to follow?


No map, there, nor guide,

Nor voice sounding, nor touch of human hand,

Nor face with blooming flesh, nor lips, nor eyes, are in that land.


I know it not, O soul,

Nor dost thou, all is a blank before us,

All waits undream’d of, in that region, that inaccessible land.


Till, when the ties loosen,

All but the ties eternal, Time and Space,

Nor darkness, gravitation, sense, nor any bounds bounding us.


Then we burst forth, we float,

In Time and Space, O soul, prepared for them,

Equal, equipt at last, (O joy! O fruit of all!) them to fulfil, O soul.


Whispers of Heavenly Death

Whispers of heavenly death, murmur’d I hear,

Labial gossip of night, sibilant chorals,

Footsteps gently ascending, mystical breezes, wafted soft and low,

Ripples of unseen rivers, tides of a current, flowing, forever flowing,

(Or is it the plashing of tears? the measureless waters of human tears?)


I see, just see skyward, great cloud masses,

Mournfully slowly they roll, silently swelling and mixing,

With at times a half-dimm’d sadden’d far-off star,

Appearing and disappearing.


(Some parturition rather, some solemn immortal birth;

On the frontiers to eyes impenetrable,

Some soul is passing over.)


As If a Phantom Caress’d Me

As if a phantom caress’d me,

I thought I was not alone walking here by the shore;

But the one I thought was with me as now I walk by the shore, the one I loved that caress’d me,

As I lean and look through the glimmering light, that one has utterly disappear’d,

And those appear that are hateful to me and mock me.


O Living Always, Always Dying

O living always, always dying!

O the burials of me, past and present,

O me while I stride ahead, material, visible, imperious as ever;

O me, what I was for years, now dead, (I lament not, I am content;)

O to disengage myself from those corpses of me, which I turn and look at where I cast them,

To pass on, (O living! always living!) and leave the corpses behind.


The Last Invocation

At the last, tenderly,

From the walls of the powerful fortress’d house,

From the clasp of the knitted locks, from the keep of the well-closed doors,

Let me be wafted.


Let me glide noiselessly forth;

With the key of softness unlock the locks—with a whisper,

Set ope the doors, O soul.


Tenderly—be not impatient,

(Strong is your hold O mortal flesh,

Strong is your hold O love.)




John Donne


Thou hast made me (Sonnet I)

Thou hast made me, And shall thy worke decay?

Repaire me now, for now mine end doth haste,

I runne to death, and death meets me as fast,

And all my pleasures are like yesterday;

I dare not move my dimme eyes any way,

Despaire behind, and death before doth cast

Such terrour, and my feeble flesh doth waste

By sinne in it, which it t’wards hell doth weigh;

Onely thou are above, and when towards thee

By thy leave I can looke, I rise againe;

But our old subtle foe so tempteth me,

That not one houre my selfe I can sustaine;

Thy Grace my wing me to prevent his art,

And thou like Adamant draw mine iron heart.


What if this present were the worlds last night? (Sonnet XIII)

What if this present were the worlds last night?

Marke in my heart, O Soule, where thou dost dwell,

The picture of Christ crucified, and tell

Whether that countenance can thee affright,

Teares in his eyes quench the amazing light,

Blood fills his frownes, which from his pierc’d head fell.

And can that tongue adjudge thee unto hell,

Which pray’d forgivenesse for his foes fierce spight?

No, no; but as in my idolatrie

I said to all my profane mistresses,

Beauty, of pitty, foulnesse onely is

A signe of rigour: so I say to thee,

To wicked spirits are horrid shapes assign’d,

This beauteous forme assures a pitious minde.

I am a little world made cunningly (Sonnet V)

I am a little world made cunningly

Of Elements, and an Angelike spright,

But black sinne hath betraid to endlesse night

My worlds both parts, and (oh) both parts must die.

You which beyond that heaven which was most high

Have found new sphears, and of new lands can write,

Powre new seas in mine eyes, that so I might

Drowne my world with my weeping earnestly,

Or wash it if it must be drown’d no more:

But oh it must be burnt! alas the fire

If lust and envie have burnt it heretofore,

And made it fouler; Let their flames retire,

And burne me o Lord, with a fiery zeale

Of thee and thy house, which doth in eating heale.



At the round earths imagin’d corners (Sonnet VII)

At the round earths imagin’d corners, blow

Your trumpets, Angells, and arise, arise

From death, you numberlesse infinities

Of soules, and to your scattred bodies goe,

All whom the flood did, and fire shall o’erthrow,

All whom warre, dearth, age, agues, tyrannies,

Despaire, law, chance, hath slaine, and you whose eyes,

Shall behold God, and never tast deaths woe.

But let them sleepe, Lord, and mee mourne a space,

For, if above all these, my sinnes abound,

’Tis late to aske abundance of thy grace,

When wee are there; here on this lowly ground,

Teach mee how to repent; for that’s as good

As if thou’hadst seal’d my pardon, with thy blood.



Batter my heart, three person’d God (Sonnet XIV)

Batter my heart, three person’d God; for, you

As yet but knocke, shine, and seeke to mend;

That I may rise, and stand, o’erthrow mee,’and bend

Your force, to breake, blowe, burn and make me new.

I, like an usurpt towne, to’another due,

Labour to’admit you, but Oh, to no end,

Reason your viceroy in mee, mee should defend,

But is captiv’d, and proves weake or untrue.

Yet dearly’I love you,’and would be loved faine,

But am betroth’d unto your enemie:

Divorce mee,’untie, or breake that knot againe,

Take mee to you, imprison mee, for I

Except you’enthrall mee, never shall be free,

Nor ever chast, except you ravish mee.



Death be not proud (Sonnet X)

Death be not proud, though some have called thee

Mighty and dreadfull, for, thou are not soe,

For, those, whom thou think’st, thou dost overthrow,

Die not, poore death, nor yet canst thou kill mee.

From reste and sleepe, which but thy pictures bee,

Much pleasure, then from thee, much more must flow,

And soonest our best men with thee doe goe,

Rest of their bones, and soules deliverie.

Thou art slave to Fate, Chance, kings, and desperate men,

And dost with poyson, warre, and sicknesse dwell,

And poppie, or charmes can make us sleepe as well,

And better than thy stroake; why swell’st thou then?

One short sleepe past, wee wake eternally,

And death shall be no more; death, thou shalt die.




Anonymous, from the Exeter Codex


Ic eom ƿunderlicu ƿiht [Digital Release Only]

Solution: jay

Ic eom ƿunderlicu ƿiht,     ƿræsne mine stefne,

hƿilum beorce sƿa hund,     hƿilum blæte sƿa ᵹat,

hƿilum ᵹræde sƿa ᵹos,     hƿilum ᵹielle sƿa hafoc,

hƿilum ic onhyrᵹe     þone hasƿan earn,

ᵹuðfugles hleoþor,     hƿilum ᵹlidan reorde

muþe ᵹemæne,     hƿilum mæƿes sonᵹ,

þær ic ᵹlado sitte.    [ᵹyfu] mec nemnað,

sƿylce [æsc] ond [rad]     [os] fullesteð,

[hægl] ond [is].     Nu ic haten eom

sƿa þa siex stafas     sƿeotule becnaþ.


I am a wondrous creature, I can change my voice,

Sometimes I bark like a dog, sometimes I bleat like a goat,

Sometimes I honk like a goose, sometimes I shriek like a hawk,

Sometimes I mimic the dark eagle,

The war-bird’s cry, sometimes I imitate the voice of the kite

With my mouth, sometimes the song of the seamew,

as I sit here proudly. X names me,

along with Æ and R, O assists it,

H and I. Now I am named,

as these six letters clearly indicate.



Moððe ƿord fræt

Solution: bookworm

Moððe ƿord fræt.     Me þæt þuhte

ƿrætlicu  ƿyrd,     þa ic þæt ƿundor ᵹefræᵹn,

þæt se ƿyrm forsƿealᵹ     ƿera ᵹied sumes,

þeof in þystro,     þrymfæstne cƿide

ond þæs stranᵹan staþol.     Stælᵹiest ne ƿæs

ƿihte  þy ᵹleaƿra,     þe he þam ƿordum sƿealᵹ.


A moth ate words. I thought that

To be a strange fate, when I learned of that wonder,

that some worm swallowed up someone’s poem,

a thief in the darkness, a mighty saying

and the strong material on which it was written.

The thief was none the wiser, when he swallowed those words.



Ic ᵹefræᵹn for hæleþum

Solution: the cup of Christ

Ic ᵹefræᵹn for hæleþum     hrinᵹ endean,

torhtne butan  tunᵹan,     tila þeah he hlude

stefne ne cirmde,     stronᵹum ƿordum.

Sinc for secᵹum     sƿigende cƿæð:

ᵹehæle mec,     helpend ᵹæsta.

Ryne onᵹietan     readan ᵹoldes

ᵹuman ᵹaldorcƿide,     ᵹleaƿe beþencan

hyra hælo to ᵹode,     sƿa se hrinᵹ ᵹecƿæð.


I beheld a radiant ring intercede for men,

a treasure with no tongue, though it did not cry out

with a loud voice or use strong words.

It spoke silently before men:

“Save me, Helper of Souls.”

May those who read the red gold’s

secret saying wisely entrust

their salvation to God, as that ring said.



Ƿrætlic honᵹað

Solution: key

Ƿrætlic honᵹað     bi ƿeres þeo,

frean under sceate.      Foran is þyrel.

Bið stiþ ond heard,      stede hafað ᵹodne;

þonne se esne     his aᵹen hræᵹl

ofer cneo hefeð,      wile þæt cuþe hol

mid his hanᵹellan     heafde ᵹretan

þæt he efenlanᵹ ær     oft ᵹefylde.


A curiosity hangs by a man’s thigh,

under his cloak. The front is pierced.

It is stiff and hard, it has a good standing place;

when the man lifts his own robe

over his knee, he wants to fill that familiar hole

with his hanging thing of the same length,

that he has often filled before.



Ƿundor ƿearð on ƿeᵹe

Solution: ice

Ƿundor ƿearð on ƿeᵹe;     ƿæter ƿearð to bane.


A wonder on the way: water becomes bone.




Dogen Zenji

Translated by Brian Unger and Kazuaki Tanahashi


Viewing Peach Blossoms and Realizing the Way

In spring wind

peach blossoms

begin to come apart.

Doubts do not grow

branches and leaves.


On Nondependence of Mind

Water birds

going and coming

their traces disappear

but they never

forget their path.


The Body Born Before the Parents

The village I finally reach

deeper than the deep mountains


the capital

where I used to live!


On the Treasury of the True Dharma Eye

Waves recede.

Not even the wind ties up

a small abandoned boat.

The moon is a clear

mark of midnight.




William Carlos Williams


Spring and All

By the road to the contagious hospital

under the surge of the blue

mottled clouds driven from the

northeast—a cold wind. Beyond, the

waste of broad, muddy fields

brown with dried weeds, standing and fallen


patches of standing water

the scattering of tall trees


All along the road the reddish

purplish, forked, upstanding, twiggy

stuff of bushes and small trees

with dead, brown leaves under them

leafless vines—


Lifeless in appearance, sluggish

dazed spring approaches—


They enter the new world naked,

cold, uncertain of all

save that they enter. All about them

the cold, familiar wind—


Now the grass, tomorrow

the stiff curl of wildcarrot leaf

One by one objects are defined—

It quickens: clarity, outline of leaf


But now the stark dignity of

entrance—Still, the profound change

has come upon them:  rooted they

grip down and begin to awaken



The Farmer

The farmer in deep thought

is pacing through the rain

among his blank fields, with

hands in pockets,

in his head

the harvest already planted.

A cold wind ruffles the water

among the browned weeds.

On all sides

the world rolls coldly away:

black orchards

darkened by the March clouds—

leaving room for thought.


Down past the brushwood

bristling by

the rainsluiced wagonroad

looms the artist figure of

the farmer—composing




The Right of Way

In passing with my mind

on nothing in the world


but the right of way

I enjoy on the road by


virtue of the law—

I saw


an elderly man who

smiled and looked away


to the north past a house—

a woman in blue


who was laughing and

leaning forward to look up


into the man’s half

averted face


and a boy of eight who was

looking at the middle of


the man’s belly

at a watchchain—


The supreme importance

of this nameless spectacle


sped me by them

without a word—


Why bother where I went?

for I went spinning on the


four wheels of my car

along the wet road until


I saw a girl with one leg

over the rail of a balcony




Robert Louis Stevenson


Summer Sun (excerpts)

Great is the sun, and wide he goes

Through empty heaven with repose;

And in the blue and glowing days

More thick than rain he showers his rays.


Above the hills, along the blue,

Round the bright air with footing true,

To please the child, to paint the rose,

The gardener of the World, he goes.



Foreign Lands

Up into the cherry tree

Who should climb but little me?

I held the trunk with both my hands

And looked abroad on foreign lands.


I saw the next door garden lie,

Adorned with flowers, before my eye,

And many pleasant places more

That I had never seen before.


I saw the dimpling river pass

And be the sky’s blue looking-glass;

The dusty roads go up and down

With people tramping in to town.


If I could find a higher tree

Farther and farther I should see,

To where the grown-up river slips

Into the sea among the ships,


To where the road on either hand

Lead onward into fairy land,

Where all the children dine at five,

And all the playthings come alive.



Summer Sun Shone Round Me

The summer sun shone round me,

The folded valley lay

In a stream of sun and odour,

That sultry summer day.


The tall trees stood in the sunlight

As still as still could be,

But the deep grass sighed and rustled

And bowed and beckoned me.


The deep grass moved and whispered

And bowed and brushed my face.

It whispered in the sunshine:

“The winter comes apace.”




Lia Purpura



Then I think I’ll keep the window open

a little longer

and the screen in so I can hear

the leaves turning yellow

so it won’t be sudden

the day I sit down

and there’s street – truck – that house,

open so I am reminded, chilled,

how slowly empty space grows.



Red Leaf

It’s precious

little warmth

the trees are giving,


muddled with last green

things, addled with vines,

and that red


a new cry, coptic

scrap, beaded

eye of a bird


in a pile of skirts

that red, I mean,

at dusk, oh mind


where all things,

freshly darkened,





Across the street

someone’s got a fire going.

And there, in its last form,

up goes wood.


The grey winter sky takes it,

so quickly, so cleanly –

the way a proverb organizes

things: one’s loss/another’s gain.





Soir d’hiver

Émile Nelligan

Translated by Éric Trudel


Ah ! comme la neige a neigé !

Ma vitre est un jardin de givre.

Ah ! comme la neige a neigé !

Qu’est-ce que le spasme de vivre

À la douleur que j’ai, que j’ai.


Tous les étangs gisent gelés,

Mon âme est noire ! où-vis-je ? où vais-je ?

Tous ses espoirs gisent gelés :

Je suis la nouvelle Norvège

D’où les blonds ciels s’en sont allés.


Pleurez, oiseaux de février,

Au sinistre frisson des choses,

Pleurez, oiseaux de février,

Pleurez mes pleurs, pleurez mes roses,

Aux branches du genévrier.


Ah ! comme la neige a neigé !

Ma vitre est un jardin de givre.

Ah ! comme la neige a neigé !

Qu’est-ce que le spasme de vivre

À tout l’ennui que j’ai, que j’ai !…


Ah! How the snow’s been snowing!

My window pane is a garden of frost.

Oh! How the snow’s been snowing!

What is the spasm of living

To the suffering I feel, I feel!


All the ponds are lying frozen,

My soul is black! Where do I live? Where will I go?

All its hopes lie frozen;

I am the new Norway

Deprived of her pale skies.


Cry, birds of February,

Cry at the sinister shiver of things.

Cry, birds of February,

Cry my tears, and cry my roses

At the branches of the juniper tree.


Oh! How the snow’s been snowing!

My window pane is a garden of frost.

Oh! How the snow’s been snowing!

What is this spasm of living

To all the boredom I feel, I feel!…


En hiver

Rainer Maria Rilke


En hiver, la mort meurtrière

entre dans les maisons ;

elle cherche la sœur, le père,

et leur joue du violon.


Mais quand la terre remue

sous la bêche du printemps,

la mort court dans les rues

et salue les passants.


In winter, the murderous death

Makes its way into the houses;

It seeks the sister, the father,

And lures them with the sound of its violin.


But as soon as the earth is stirred

By the spade of springtime,

Death runs the streets

Greeting passersby.




Louis-Honoré Frechette


Le givre étincelant, sur les carreaux gelés,

Dessine des milliers d’arabesques informes ;

Le fleuve roule au loin des banquises énormes ;

De fauves tourbillons passent échevelés.


Sur la crête des monts par l’ouragan pelés,

De gros nuages lourds heurtent leurs flancs difformes ;

Les sapins sont tout blancs de neige, et les vieux ormes

Dressent dans le ciel gris leurs grands bras désolés.


Des hivers boréaux tous les sombres ministres

Montrent à l’horizon leurs figures sinistres ;

Le froid darde sur nous son aiguillon cruel.


Evitons à tout prix ses farouches colères ;

Et, dans l’intimité, narguant les vents polaires,

Réchauffons-nous autour de l’arbre de Noël.


The scintillating frost, on the frozen tiles,

Sketches thousands of shapeless arabesques;

The river tumbles huge icebergs in the distance;

Wild, disheveled swirls pass me by.


Over the hurricane-beaten mountain tops,

Huge and heavy clouds clash their misshapen edges;

The fir trees are covered with snow, and the old elms

Raise their long, bleak limbs to the gray sky.


All the dark ministers of the northern winters

Emerge from the horizon with their sinister figures;

The cold shoots its cruel sting into us.


Let us avoid its fierce anger at all costs;

And, sheltered in our polar wind-defying homes,

Let us warm ourselves around the Christmas tree.



Dans l’interminable ennui de la plaine

Paul Verlaine


Dans l’interminable

Ennui de la plaine,

La neige incertaine

Luit comme du sable.


Le ciel est de cuivre

Sans lueur aucune,

On croirait voir vivre

Et mourir la lune.


Comme des nuées

Flottent gris les chênes

Des forêts prochaines

Parmi les buées.


Le ciel est de cuivre

Sans lueur aucune.

On croirait voir vivre

Et mourir la lune.


Corneille poussive

Et vous, les loups maigres,

Par ces bises aigres

Quoi donc vous arrive ?


Dans l’interminable

Ennui de la plaine

La neige incertaine

Luit comme du sable.


In the endless

Monotony of the plains,

The hesitant snow

Shines, sand-like.


The copper sky

Is devoid of sheen,

It is like watching

The moon live and die.


Like foggy emanations

The gray oak trees

Of the faraway forest float

Amidst the misty vapors.


The copper sky

Is devoid of sheen,

It is like watching

The moon live and die.


Sluggish crows

And you, skinny wolves,

What are these bitter winds

Doing to you?


In the endless

Monotony of the plains,

The hesitant snow

Shines, sand-like.


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