Sonnet 4: For Lydia

Text by Robert Kelly


Because you opened a book no

         one could find

however long we looked

              over the Blaek Plain

& the Sea of Reeds,

     & opened to a color

landscape inward: the heart, seen three-

quarter size, beating,

         the river

of Egypt flows on the left,

 we came by

but you were away.

    Somewhere reading a tree?

You didn’t see but I was looking in your eyes

& found an hour there,

          a time when we will all,

even the two of us,

    be together under a tree.

It finds

              where our heads were going, it runs

beside the river and welcomes us.


did your book say? I am. I am

   said the reed,

when you look at this picture know the heart

                         lives forever.



Spring Sonnet

Text by Robert Kelly


Love, do not be more clever than the heart.

Do not be clearer. Ever be more, love,

but do not be clearer than the heart.


Do not be clear do not be clever, love,

be more than clever love, be the heart,

Do not be than. Be not clear, be love.


Be more than be. More than the heart, be clear.

more heart than clear, more love than heart, be more

than be more. Do not clear the heart ever.

do not be clever, be love ever more.


The clever do not love, do not ever love,

The clever do not clear the heart, the heart

clearer than not be. The clear do love.

More than love be clear not ever. Be heart.



Sonnet 8

Text by William Shakespeare


Music to hear, why hear'st thou music sadly?

Sweets with sweets war not, joy delights in joy:

Why lov'st thou that which thou receiv'st not gladly,

Or else receiv'st with pleasure thine annoy?

If the true concord of well-tuned sounds,

By unions married, do offend thine ear,

They do but sweetly chide thee, who confounds

In singleness the parts that thou shouldst bear.

Mark how one string, sweet husband to another,

Strikes each in each by mutual ordering;

Resembling sire and child and happy mother,

Who, all in one, one pleasing note do sing:

   Whose speechless song being many, seeming one,

   Sings this to thee: 'Thou single wilt prove none.'



Sonnet 110

Text by William Shakespeare


Alas! 'tis true, I have gone here and there,

And made my self a motley to the view,

Gored mine own thoughts, sold cheap what is most dear,

Made old offences of affections new;

Most true it is, that I have looked on truth

Askance and strangely; but, by all above,

These blenches gave my heart another youth,

And worse essays proved thee my best of love.

Now all is done, have what shall have no end:

Mine appetite I never more will grind

On newer proof, to try an older friend,

A god in love, to whom I am confined.

   Then give me welcome, next my heaven the best,

   Even to thy pure and most most loving breast.



Sonnet 144

Text by William Shakespeare


Two loves I have of comfort and despair,

Which like two spirits do suggest me still:

The better angel is a man right fair,

The worser spirit a woman coloured ill.

To win me soon to hell, my female evil,

Tempteth my better angel from my side,

And would corrupt my saint to be a devil,

Wooing his purity with her foul pride.

And whether that my angel be turned fiend,

Suspect I may, yet not directly tell;

But being both from me, both to each friend,

I guess one angel in another's hell:

   Yet this shall I ne'er know, but live in doubt,

   Till my bad angel fire my good one out.



Sonnet 51

Text by William Shakespeare


Thus can my love excuse the slow offence

Of my dull bearer when from thee I speed:

From where thou art why should I haste me thence?

Till I return, of posting is no need.

O! what excuse will my poor beast then find,

When swift extremity can seem but slow?

Then should I spur, though mounted on the wind,

In winged speed no motion shall I know,

Then can no horse with my desire keep pace.

Therefore desire, (of perfect'st love being made)

Shall neigh, no dull flesh, in his fiery race;

But love, for love, thus shall excuse my jade-

   Since from thee going, he went wilful-slow,

   Towards thee I'll run, and give him leave to go.



Scorn not the Sonnet

Text by William Wordsworth


Scorn not the Sonnet; Critic, you have frowned,

Mindless of its just honours; with this key

Shakespeare unlocked his heart; the melody

Of this small lute gave ease to Petrarch's wound;

A thousand times this pipe did Tasso sound;

With it Camöens soothed an exile's grief;

The Sonnet glittered a gay myrtle leaf

Amid the cypress with which Dante crowned

His visionary brow: a glow-worm lamp,

It cheered mild Spenser, called from Faery-land

To struggle through dark ways; and, when a damp

Fell round the path of Milton, in his hand

The Thing became a trumpet; whence he blew

Soul-animating strains—alas, too few!



Cannikin Clink

Text by William Shakespeare; from Othello (II, 3)


King Stephen was a worthy peer,

His breeches cost him but a crown,

He held them sixpence all too dear,

With that he called the tailor lown.

He was a wight of high renown,

And thou art but of low degree,

'Tis pride that pulls the country down,

Then take thine auld cloak about thee.

Some wine, ho!

And let me the cannikin clink, clink,

And let me the cannikin clink.

A soldier’s a man,

A life’s but a span,

Why then let a soldier drink.



Sisters Weird

Text by William Shakespeare; from Macbeth (IV, 1)


FIRST WITCH   Thrice the brinded cat hath mew'd.


SECOND WITCH   Thrice and once the hedge-pig whined


THIRD WITCH   Harpier cries 'Tis time, 'tis time.


FIRST WITCH   Round about the cauldron go; In the poison'd entrails throw. Toad, that under cold stone Days and nights has thirty-one Swelter'd venom sleeping got, Boil thou first i' the charmed pot.


ALL   Double, double toil and trouble; Fire burn, and cauldron bubble.


SECOND WITCH   Fillet of a fenny snake, In the cauldron boil and bake; Eye of newt and toe of frog,

Wool of bat and tongue of dog, Adder's fork and blind-worm's sting, Lizard's leg and owlet's wing, For a charm of powerful trouble, Like a hell-broth boil and bubble.


ALL   Double, double toil and trouble; Fire burn, and cauldron bubble.


THIRD WITCH   Scale of dragon, tooth of wolf, Witches' mummy, maw and gulf Of the ravin'd salt-sea shark, Root of hemlock digg'd i' the dark, Liver of blaspheming Jew, Gall of goat, and slips of yew Silver'd in the moon's eclipse, Nose of Turk and Tartar's lips, Finger of birth-strangled babe Ditch-deliver'd by a drab, Make the gruel thick and slab: Add thereto a tiger's chaudron, For the ingredients of our cauldron.


ALL   Double, double toil and trouble; Fire burn, and cauldron bubble. Cool it with a baboon's blood, Then the charm is firm and good. And now about the cauldron sing, Live elves and fairies in a ring, Enchanting all that you put in. By the pricking of my thumbs, Something wicked this way comes. Open, locks, Whoever knocks!



A Wren

Text by Denise Levertov, from Sands Of The Well,  ©1996 by Denise Levertov. Used by permission of New Directions Publishing Corporation.


Quiet among the leaves, a wren,

fearless as if I were invisible

or moved with a silence like its own.


From bush to bush

it flies without hesitation,

no flutter or whirring of wings.

I feel myself lifted,

lightened, dispersed:


it has turned me to air,

it can fly right through me.



Give Me Your Hand

Text by William Shakespeare; from Macbeth (IV, 1)


Out, damned spot! Out, I say!—One, two. Why, then, ’tis time to do ’t. Hell is murky!—Fie, my lord, fie! A soldier, and afeard? What need we fear who knows it, when none can call our power to account?—Yet who would have thought the old man to have had so much blood in him.


The thane of Fife had a wife. Where is she now?—What, will these hands ne'er be clean?—No more o' that, my lord, no more o' that. You mar all with this starting.


Here’s the smell of the blood still. All the perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten this little hand. Oh, Oh, Oh!


Wash your hands. Put on your nightgown. Look not so pale.—I tell you yet again, Banquo’s buried; he cannot come out on ’s grave.


To bed, to bed. There’s knocking at the gate. Come, come, come, come. Give me your hand. What’s done cannot be undone.—To bed, to bed, to bed!



Sonnets 97 & 98

Text by William Shakespeare


Sonnet 97

How like a winter hath my absence been

From thee, the pleasure of the fleeting year!

What freezings have I felt, what dark days seen!

What old December's bareness everywhere!

And yet this time remov'd was summer's time,

The teeming autumn, big with rich increase,

Bearing the wanton burthen of the prime,

Like widow'd wombs after their lords' decease:

Yet this abundant issue seem'd to me

But hope of orphans and unfather'd fruit;

For summer and his pleasures wait on thee,

And thou away, the very birds are mute;

   Or if they sing, 'tis with so dull a cheer

   That leaves look pale, dreading the winter's near.


Sonnet 98

From you have I been absent in the spring,

When proud-pied April, dressed in all his trim,

Hath put a spirit of youth in everything,

That heavy Saturn laughed and leaped with him.

Yet nor the lays of birds, nor the sweet smell

Of different flowers in odour and in hue,

Could make me any summer’s story tell,

Or from their proud lap pluck them where they grew:

Nor did I wonder at the lily’s white,

Nor praise the deep vermilion in the rose;

They were but sweet, but figures of delight

Drawn after you, – you pattern of all those.

   Yet seem’d it winter still, and, you away,

   As with your shadow I with these did play.



Epilogue to the Tempest

Text by William Shakespeare from The Tempest


PROSPERO    Now my charms are all o'erthrown,

And what strength I have's mine own,

Which is most faint. Now, ’tis true

I must be here confined by you

Or sent to Naples. Let me not,

Since I have my dukedom got,

And pardoned the deceiver, dwell

In this bare island by your spell;

But release me from my bands

With the help of your good hands:

Gentle breath of yours my sails

Must fill, or else my project fails,

Which was to please. Now I want

Spirits to enforce, art to enchant,

And my ending is despair,

Unless I be relieved by prayer,

Which pierces so, that it assaults

Mercy itself, and frees all faults.

As you from crimes would pardoned be,

Let your indulgence set me free.


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