From fairest creatures we desire increase, That thereby beauty’s rose might never die, But as the riper should by time decease, His tender heir might bear his memory: But thou, contracted to thine own bright eyes, Feed’st thy light’s flame with self-substantial fuel, Making a famine where abundance lies, Thyself thy foe, to thy sweet self too cruel. Thou that art now the world’s fresh ornament And only herald to the gaudy spring, Within thine own bud buriest thy content And, tender churl, makest waste in niggarding. Pity the world, or else this glutton be, To eat the world’s due, by the grave and thee.
One day I wrote her name upon the strand, But came the waves and washed it away: Again I wrote it with a second hand, But came the tide, and made my pains his prey. “Vain man,” said she, “that dost in vain assay. A mortal thing so to immortalise, For I myself shall like to this decay, And eek my name bee wiped out likewise.” “Not so,” quoth I, “let baser things devise, To die in dust, but you shall live by fame: My verse your virtues rare shall eternise, And in the heavens write your glorious name. Where whenas death shall all the world subdue, Our love shall live, and later life renew.”
O Mistress mine where are you roaming? O stay and hear, your true love’s coming, That can sing both high and low. Trip no further pretty sweeting. Journeys end in lovers’ meeting, Every wise man’s son doth know.
What is love, ’tis not hereafter, Present mirth, hath present laughter: What’s to come, is still unsure. In delay there lies no plenty, Then come kiss me sweet and twenty: Youth’s a stuff will not endure.
The winter evening settles down With smell of steaks in passageways. Six o’clock. The burnt-out ends of smoky days. And now a gusty shower wraps The grimy scraps Of withered leaves about your feet And newspapers from vacant lots; The showers beat On broken blinds and chimney-pots, And at the corner of the street A lonely cab-horse steams and stamps.
And then the lighting of the lamps.
The morning comes to consciousness Of faint stale smells of beer From the sawdust-trampled street With all its muddy feet that press To early coffee-stands. With the other masquerades That time resumes, One thinks of all the hands That are raising dingy shades In a thousand furnished rooms.
You tossed a blanket from the bed, You lay upon your back, and waited; You dozed, and watched the night revealing The thousand sordid images Of which your soul was constituted; They flickered against the ceiling. And when all the world came back And the light crept up between the shutters And you heard the sparrows in the gutters, You had such a vision of the street As the street hardly understands; Sitting along the bed’s edge, where You curled the papers from your hair, Or clasped the yellow soles of feet In the palms of both soiled hands.
His soul stretched tight across the skies That fade behind a city block, Or trampled by insistent feet At four and five and six o’clock; And short square fingers stuffing pipes, And evening newspapers, and eyes Assured of certain certainties, The conscience of a blackened street Impatient to assume the world.
I am moved by fancies that are curled Around these images, and cling: The notion of some infinitely gentle Infinitely suffering thing.
Wipe your hand across your mouth, and laugh; The worlds revolve like ancient women Gathering fuel in vacant lots.
‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse; The stockings were hung by the chimney with care, In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there; The children were nestled all snug in their beds; While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads; And mamma in her ‘kerchief, and I in my cap, Had just settled our brains for a long winter’s nap, When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter, I sprang from my bed to see what was the matter. Away to the window I flew like a flash, Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash. The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow, Gave a lustre of midday to objects below, When what to my wondering eyes did appear, But a miniature sleigh and eight tiny rein-deer, With a little old driver so lively and quick, I knew in a moment he must be St. Nick. More rapid than eagles his coursers they came, And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name: “Now, Dasher! now, Dancer! now Prancer and Vixen! On, Comet! on, Cupid! on, Donner and Blitzen! To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall! Now dash away! dash away! dash away all!” As leaves that before the wild hurricane fly, When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky; So up to the housetop the coursers they flew With the sleigh full of toys, and St. Nicholas too— And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof The prancing and pawing of each little hoof. As I drew in my head, and was turning around, Down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound. He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot, And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot; A bundle of toys he had flung on his back, And he looked like a pedler just opening his pack. His eyes—how they twinkled! his dimples, how merry! His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry! His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow, And the beard on his chin was as white as the snow; The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth, And the smoke, it encircled his head like a wreath; He had a broad face and a little round belly That shook when he laughed, like a bowl full of jelly. He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf, And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself; A wink of his eye and a twist of his head Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread; He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work, And filled all the stockings; then turned with a jerk, And laying his finger aside of his nose, And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose; He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle, And away they all flew like the down of a thistle. But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight— “Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night!”
I heard the bells on Christmas Day Their old, familiar carols play, And wild and sweet The words repeat Of peace on earth, good-will to men! And thought how, as the day had come, The belfries of all Christendom Had rolled along The unbroken song Of peace on earth, good-will to men!
Till, ringing, singing on its way The world revolved from night to day, A voice, a chime, A chant sublime Of peace on earth, good-will to men! Then from each black, accursed mouth The cannon thundered in the South, And with the sound The Carols drowned Of peace on earth, good-will to men!
And in despair I bowed my head; ‘There is no peace on earth,’ I said; ‘For hate is strong, And mocks the song Of peace on earth, good-will to men!’
Then pealed the bells more loud and deep: ‘God is not dead; nor doth he sleep! The Wrong shall fail, The Right prevail, With peace on earth, good-will to men!’
This Advent moon shines cold and clear, These Advent nights are long; Our lamps have burned year after year And still their flame is strong. ‘Watchman, what of the night?’ we cry, Heart-sick with hope deferred: ‘No speaking signs are in the sky,’ Is still the watchman’s word.
The Porter watches at the gate, The servants watch within; The watch is long betimes and late, The prize is slow to win. ‘Watchman, what of the night?’ But still His answer sounds the same: ‘No daybreak tops the utmost hill, Nor pale our lamps of flame.’
One to another hear them speak The patient virgins wise: ‘Surely He is not far to seek’— ‘All night we watch and rise.’ ‘The days are evil looking back, The coming days are dim; Yet count we not His promise slack, But watch and wait for Him.’
One with another, soul with soul, They kindle fire from fire: ‘Friends watch us who have touched the goal.’ ‘They urge us, come up higher.’ ‘With them shall rest our waysore feet, With them is built our home, With Christ.’—’They sweet, but He most sweet, Sweeter than honeycomb.’
There no more parting, no more pain, The distant ones brought near, The lost so long are found again, Long lost but longer dear: Eye hath not seen, ear hath not heard, Nor heart conceived that rest, With them our good things long deferred, With Jesus Christ our Best.
We weep because the night is long, We laugh for day shall rise, We sing a slow contented song And knock at Paradise. Weeping we hold Him fast, Who wept For us, we hold Him fast; And will not let Him go except He bless us first or last.
Weeping we hold Him fast to-night; We will not let Him go Till daybreak smite our wearied sight And summer smite the snow: Then figs shall bud, and dove with dove Shall coo the livelong day; Then He shall say, ‘Arise, My love, My fair one, come away.’