Mar '03 [Home]
Poetry, Masters: Departure
Image: Patrick Henry
Pablo Neruda ~ A Song of Despair | Dorothy Parker ~ Finis | Coventry Patmore ~ A Farewell | James Whitcomb Riley ~ A Song of the Road | R.M. Rilke ~ Abschied | Sir Philip Sidney ~ Leave Me, O Love, Which Reachest But to Dust | Theodore Roethke ~ Night Journey | Sappho ~ Drinks for the Groom ~ Last Praises ~ Goodbye, Be Happy | Anne Sexton ~ The Inventory of Goodbye | Percy Bysshe Shelley ~ Mutability | Alfred Lord Tennyson ~ Ulysses | J.R.R. Tolkien ~ Bilbo's Last Song | Henry Vaughan ~ Friends Departed | John Greenleaf Whittier ~ Godspeed | William Wordsworth ~ The Forsaken | Sir Thomas Wyatt ~ They Flee From Me | W.B. Yeats ~ The Lake Isle of Innisfree
Charles Baudelaire ~ Moesta et errabunda | Philip Booth ~ Parting | Rupert Brooke ~ Desertion | Elizabeth Barrett Browning ~ Go From Me | Robert Browning ~ Parting at Morning | John Clare ~ Farewell | Samuel Coleridge ~ This Lime-Tree Bower, My Prison | e. e. cummings ~ it may not always be so | Emily Dickinson ~ My Life closed twice | John Dryden ~ Farewell Ungrateful Traitor | T.S. Eliot ~ La Figlia che Piange | Johann Wolfgang von Goethe ~ Abschied | Heinrich Heine ~ Abschied | John Keats ~ Eve of St. Agnes ~ Ode to a Nightingale | Rudyard Kipling ~ Farewell and Adieu | D. H. Lawrence ~ Ship of Death | Federico García Lorca ~ Fare Well | Osip Mandelstam ~ Tristia | Andrew Marvell ~ Daphnis and Chloe | Edna St. Vincent Millay ~ Departure
A Song of Despair
Pablo Neruda (1904-1973)
The memory of you emerges from the night around me.
The river mingles its stubborn lament with the sea.
Deserted like the wharves at dawn.
It is the hour of departure, oh deserted one! . . .
You swallowed everything, like distance.
Like the sea, like time. In you everything sank! . . .
There was thirst and hunger, and you were the fruit.
There were grief and ruins, and you were the miracle.
Ah woman, I do not know how you could contain me
in the earth of your soul, in the cross of your arms!
How terrible and brief my desire was to you!
How difficult and drunken, how tensed and avid. . . .
It is the hour of departure, the hard cold hour
which the night fastens to all the timetables.
The rustling belt of the sea girdles the shore.
Cold stars heave up, black birds migrate.
Deserted like the wharves at dawn.
Only tremulous shadow twists in my hands.
Oh farther than everything. Oh farther than everything.
It is the hour of departure. Oh abandoned one!
~ . ~
Dorothy Parker (1893-1967)
Now it's over, and now it's done;
Why does everything look the same?
Just as bright, the unheeding sun, —
Can't it see that the parting came?
People hurry and work and swear,
Laugh and grumble and die and wed,
Ponder what they will eat and wear, —
Don't they know that our love is dead?
Just as busy, the crowded street;
Cars and wagons go rolling on,
Children chuckle, and lovers meet,—
Don't they know that our love is gone?
No one pauses to pay a tear;
None walks slow, for the love that's through, —
I might mention, my recent dear,
I've reverted to normal, too.
(Enough Rope, 1926)
~ . ~
Coventry Patmore (1823-1896)
With all my will, but much against my heart,
We two now part.
My Very Dear,
Our solace is, the sad road lies so clear.
It needs no art,
With faint, averted feet
And many a tear,
In our opposèd paths to persevere.
Go thou to East, I West.
We will not say
There 's any hope, it is so far away.
But, O, my Best,
When the one darling of our widowhead,
The nursling Grief,
And no dews blur our eyes
To see the peach-bloom come in evening skies,
Perchance we may,
Where now this night is day,
And even through faith of still averted feet,
Making full circle of our banishment,
The bitter journey to the bourne so sweet
Seasoning the termless feast of our content
With tears of recognition never dry.
~ . ~
A Song of the Road
James Whitcomb Riley (1849-1916)
O I will walk with you, my lad, whichever way you fare,
You'll have me, too, the side o' you, with heart as light as air;
No care for where the road you take's a-leadin' anywhere,—
It can but be a joyful ja'nt whilst you journey there.
The road you take's the path o' love, an' that's the bridth o' two—
An' I will walk with you, my lad — O I will walk with you. . . .
Sure, I will walk with you, my lad,
A love ordains me to,—
To Heaven's door, an' through, my lad.
O I will walk with you.
~ . ~
R. M. Rilke (1875-1926)
Wie hab' ich das gefühlt was Abschied heisst.
Wie weiss ich noch: ein dunkles unverwundnes
grausames Etwas, das ein Schönverbundnes
noch einmal zeigt und hinhält und zerreisst.
Wie war ich ohne Wehr, dem zuzuschauen,
das, da es mich, mich rufend, gehen liess,
zurückblieb, so als wärens alle Frauen
und dennoch klein und weiss und nicht dies:
Ein Winken, schon nicht mehr auf mich bezogen,
ein leise Weiterwinkendes — , schon kaum
erklärbar mehr: vielleicht ein Plaumenbaum,
von dem ein Kuchuck hastig abgeflogen.
How I have felt what leaving means.
How I still know: a dark unwounded
gruesome thing, that displays a lovely bond
once more, holds it out, and tears it clean.
How defenseless I was, watching that thing,
which, since it called to me as it let me go,
stayed behind, as if it were all women,
and yet, small and white, and no, not this:
A wave no longer meant for me,
a softly waving after — , not easily
explained: a plum tree maybe
a cuckoo flew out of, hastily.
(Transl. M. Holm)
Sonnets to Orpheus, No.13
Rainer Maria Rilke
Sei allem Abschied voran, als wäre er hinter
dir, wie der Winter, der eben geht.
Denn unter Wintern ist einer so endlos Winter,
daß, überwinternd, dein Herz überhaupt übersteht.
Sei immer tot in Eurydiuke— , singender steige,
preisender steige zurück in den reinen Bezug.
Hier, unter Schwindenden, sei, im Reiche der Neige,
sei ein klingendes Glas, das sich im Klang schon zerschlug.
Sei— und wisse zugleich des Nicht-Seins Bedingung,
den unendlichen Grund deiner innigen Schwingung,
daß du sie völlig vollziehst dieses einzige Mal.
Zu dem gebrauchten sowohl, wie zum dumpfen und stummen
Vorrat der vollen Natur, den unsäglichen Summen,
zähle dich jubelend hinzu und vernichte die Zahl.
Sonnets to Orpheus, No.13
Rainer Maria Rilke
Be ahead of all departure, as though it were behind
you, like the winter that's leaving just now.
For, there's one among winters so endlessly winter
that, overwintering, your heart overcomes overall.
Be forever dead in Eurydice— , sing more reascending,
praise more reascending into the pure correlative.
Here, among disappearing ones, be, in the realm of ending,
be a chiming glass that shattered making sound.
Be— while knowing the demands of non-being,
the unending reason for your most intimate swinging,
so that you finish it fully just this once.
To the used, as to the dull-witted and dumb
of fulsome nature's store, to the unutterable sums,
gleefully also count yourself and destroy the end result.
(Transl. M. Holm)
~ . ~
Theodore Roethke (1908-1963)
Now as the train bears west,
Its rhythm rocks the earth,
And from my Pullman berth
I stare into the night
While others take their rest.
Bridges of iron lace,
A suddenness of trees,
A lap of mountain mist
All cross my line of sight,
Then a bleak wasted place,
And a lake below my knees.
Full on my neck I feel
The straining at a curve;
My muscles move with steel,
I wake in every nerve.
I watch a beacon swing
From dark to blazing bright;
We thunder through ravines
And gullies washed with light.
Beyond the mountain pass
Mist deepens on the pane;
We rush into a rain
That rattles double glass.
Wheels shake the roadbed stone,
The pistons jerk and shove,
I stay up half the night
To see the land I love.
~ . ~
Drinks for the Groom
Sappho (c. 650 BCE)
The wine bowl was full
with perfect ambrosia.
Hermes took up a jug to pour wine for the gods;
then all gripped their goblets,
spilled out libations,
and shouted lots of good luck
to the groom.
If my nipples were to drip milk
and my womb still carry a child,
I would enter this marriage bed
but age dries my flesh with a thousand
wrinkles, and love is in no hurry
to seize my body with the gifts
of pleasant pain.
Yet, let us sing praises to her
who wears the scent of violets
on her young breasts.
Goodbye, Be Happy
Goodbye, be happy, bride and groom.
Be happy, bride and honored groom.
~ . ~
The Inventory of Goodbye
Anne Sexton (1928-1974)
I have a pack of letters,
I have a pack of memories.
I could cut out the eyes of both.
I could wear them like a patchwork apron.
I could stick them in the washer, the drier,
and maybe some of the pain would float off like dirt?
Perhaps down the disposal I could grind up the loss.
Besides — what a bargain — no expensive phone calls.
No lengthy trips on planes in the fog.
No manicky laughter or blessing from an odd-lot priest.
That priest is probably still floating on a fog pillow.
Blessing us. Blessing us.
Am I to bless the lost you,
sitting here with my clumsy soul?
Propaganda time is over.
I sit here on the spike of truth.
No one to hate except the slim fish of memory
that slides in and out of my brain.
No one to hate except the acute feel of my nightgown
brushing my body like a light that has gone out.
It recalls the kiss we invented, tongues like poems,
meeting, returning, inviting, causing a fever of need.
Laughter, maps, cassettes, touch singing its path —
all to be broken and laid away in a tight strongbox.
The monotonous dead clog me up and there is only
black done in black that oozes from the strongbox.
I must disembowel it and then set the heart, the legs,
of two who were one upon a large woodpile
and ignite, as I was once ignited, and let it whirl
into flame, reaching the sky
making it dangerous with its red.
~ . ~
Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822)
We are as clouds that veil the midnight moon;
How restlessly they speed, and gleam, and quiver,
Streaking the darkness radiantly! — yet soon
Night closes round, and they are lost forever:
Or like forgotten lyres, whose dissonant strings
Give various response to each varying blast,
To whose frail frame no second motion brings
One mood or modulation like the last.
We rest. — A dream has power to poison sleep;
We rise. — One wandering thought pollutes the day;
We feel, conceive or reason, laugh or weep;
Embrace fond woe, or cast our cares away:
It is the same! — For, be it joy or sorrow,
The path of its departure still is free:
Man's yesterday may ne'er be like his morrow;
Nought may endure but Mutability.
~ . ~
Leave Me, O Love, Which Reachest But to Dust
Sir Philip Sidney (1554-1586)
Leave me, O Love, which reachest but to dust,
And thou my mind aspire to higher things:
Grow rich in that which never taketh rust:
Whatever fades, but fading pleasure brings.
Draw in thy beams, and humble all thy might,
To that sweet yoke, where lasting freedoms be:
Which breaks the clouds and opens forth the light,
That doth both shine and give us sight to see. . . .
O take fast hold, let that light be thy guide,
In this small course which birth draws out to death,
And think how evil becometh him to slide,
Who seeketh heaven, and comes of heavenly breath.
Then farewell world, thy uttermost I see,
Eternal Love, maintain thy life in me. . . .
What if you new beauties see?
Will not they stir new affection?
I will think they pictures be
(Image-like, of saints' perfection)
Poorly counterfeiting thee.
But your reason's purest light
Bids you leave such minds to nourish.
Dear, do reason no such spite!
Never doth thy beauty flourish
More than in my reason's sight.
~ . ~
Alfred Lord Tennyson (1809-1892)
It little profits that an idle king,
By this still hearth, among these barren crags,
Match'd with an agèd wife, I mete and dole
Unequal laws unto a savage race,
That hoard, and sleep, and feed, and know not me.
I cannot rest from travel; I will drink
Life to the lees. All times I have enjoy'd
Greatly, have suffer'd greatly, both with those
That loved me, and alone; on shore, and when
Thro' scudding drifts the rainy Hyades
Vext the dim sea. I am become a name;
For always roaming with a hungry heart
Much have I seen and known,— cities of men
And manners, climates, councils, governments,
Myself not least, but honour'd of them all,—
And drunk delight of battle with my peers,
Far on the ringing plains of windy Troy.
I am part of all that I have met;
Yet all experience is an arch wherethro'
Gleams that untravell'd world whose margin fades
For ever and for ever when I move.
How dull it is to pause, to make an end,
To rust unburnish'd, not to shine in use!
As tho' to breathe were life! Life piled on life
Were all too little, and of one to me
Little remains; but every hour is saved
From that eternal silence, something more,
A bringer of new things; and vile it were
For some three suns to store and hoard myself,
And this gray spirit yearning in desire
To follow knowledge like a sinking star,
Beyond the utmost bound of human thought.
This is my son, mine own Telemachus,
To whom I leave the sceptre and the isle,
Well-loved of me, discerning to fulfil
This labour, by slow prudence to make mild
A rugged people, and thro' soft degrees
Subdue them to the useful and the good.
Most blameless is he, centred in the sphere
Of common duties, decent not to fail
In offices of tenderness, and pay
Meet adoration to my household gods,
When I am gone. He works his work, I mine.
There lies the port; the vessel puffs her sail;
There gloom the dark, broad seas. My mariners,
Souls that have toil'd, and wrought, and thought with me,—
That ever with a frolic welcome took
The thunder and the sunshine, and opposed
Free hearts, free foreheads,— you and I are old;
Old age had yet his honour and his toil.
Death closes all; but something ere the end,
Some work of noble note, may yet be done,
Not unbecoming men that strove with Gods.
The lights begin to twinkle from the rocks;
The long day wanes; the slow moon climbs; the deep
Moans round with many voices. Come, my friends.
'Tis not too late to seek a newer world.
Push off, and sitting well in order smite
The sounding furrows; for my purpose holds
To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths
Of all the western stars, until I die.
It may be that the gulfs will wash us down;
It may be we shall touch the Happy Isles,
And see the great Achilles, whom we knew.
Tho' much is taken, much abides; and tho'
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are,—
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.
~ . ~
Bilbo's Last Song
(At the Grey Havens)
J.R.R. Tolkien (1892-1973)
Day is ended, dim my eyes,
But journey long before me lies.
Farewell, friends! I hear the call.
The ship's beside the stony wall.
Foam is white and waves are grey;
beyond the sunset leads my way.
Foam is salt, the wind is free;
I hear the rising of the sea.
Farewell, friends! The sails are set,
the wind is east, the moorings fret.
Shadows long before me lie,
beneath the ever-bending sky,
but islands lie behind the Sun
that I shall raise ere all is done;
lands there are to west of West,
where night is quiet and sleep is rest.
Guided by the Lonely Star,
beyond the utmost harbour-bar,
I'll find the heavens fair and free,
and beaches of the Starlit Sea.
Ship my ship! I seek the West,
and fields and mountains ever blest.
Farewell to Middle-earth at last.
I see the star above my mast!
(The Lord of the Rings, 1955)
~ . ~
Henry Vaughan (1622-1695)
They are all gone into the world of light!
And I alone sit ling'ring here;
Their very memory is fair and bright,
And my sad thoughts doth clear. . . .
. . .If a star were confin'd into a tomb,
Her captive flames must needs burn there;
But when the hand that lock'd her up gives room,
She'll shine through all the sphere.
O Father of eternal life, and all
Created glories under Thee!
Resume Thy spirit from this world of thrall
Into true liberty.
Either disperse these mists, which blot and fill
My perspective still as they pass:
Or else remove me hence unto that hill,
Where I shall need no glass.
~ . ~
John Greenleaf Whittier (1807-1892)
Outbound, your bark awaits you. Were I one
Whose prayer availeth much, my wish should be
Your favoring trade-wind and consenting sea.
By sail or steed was never love outrun,
And, here or there, love follows her in whom
All graces and sweet charities unite,
The old Greek beauty set in holier light;
And her for whom New England's byways bloom,
Who walks among us welcome as the Spring,
Calling up blossoms where her light feet stray.
God keep you both, make beautiful your way,
Comfort, console, and bless; and safely bring,
Ere yet I make upon a vaster sea
The unreturning voyage, my friends to me.
~ . ~
William Wordsworth (1770-1850)
The peace which others seek they find;
The heaviest storms not longest last;
Heaven grants even to the guiltiest mind
An amnesty for what is past;
When will my sentence be reversed?
I only pray to know the worst;
And wish as if my heart would burst.
O weary struggle! silent years
Tell seemingly no doubtful tale;
And yet they leave it short, and fears
And hopes are strong and will prevail.
My calmest faith escapes not pain;
And, feeling that the hope is vain,
I think that he will come again.
~ . ~
They Flee From Me
Sir Thomas Wyatt (1503-1542)
They flee from me, that sometime did me seek,
With naked foot, stalking in my chamber:
I have seen them gentle, tame, and meek,
That now are wild, and do not remember
That sometime they put themselves in danger
To take bread at my hand; and now they range,
Busily seeking with a continual change.
Thankèd be fortune, it hath been otherwise
Twenty times better; but once, in special,
In thin array, after a pleasant guise,
When her loose gown from her shoulders did fall,
And she me caught in her arms long and small,
Therewithal sweetly did me kiss,
And softly said, "Dear heart, how like you this?"
It was no dream; for I lay broad waking.
But all is turn'd, thro' my gentleness,
Into a strange fashion of forsaking;
And I have leave to go of her goodness,
And she also to use new-fangleness.
But since that I so kindely am served ,
I would fain know what she hath deserved ?
~ . ~
The Lake Isle of Innisfree
William Butler Yeats (1865-1939)
I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made:
Nine bean-rows will I have there, a hive for the honeybee,
And live alone in the bee-loud glade.
And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow,
Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings;
There midnight's all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow,
And evening full of the linnet's wings.
I will arise and go now, for always night and day
I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;
While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements grey,
I hear it in the deep heart's core.