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Adam Lindsay Gordon

Borrow'd Plumes

[A Preface and a Piracy]

PROLOGUE

OF borrow’d plumes I take the sin,
My extracts will apply
To some few silly songs which in
These pages scatter’d lie.

The words are Edgar Allan Poe’s,
As any man may see,
But what a Poe-t wrote in prose,
Shall make blank verse for me.

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A Fragment

They say that poison-sprinkled flowers
Are sweeter in perfume
Than when, untouched by deadly dew,
They glowed in early bloom.

They say that men condemned to die
Have quaffed the sweetened wine
With higher relish than the juice
Of the untampered vine.

They say that in the witch's song,
Though rude and harsh it be,
There blends a wild, mysterious strain
Of weirdest melody.

And I believe the devil's voice
Sinks deeper in our ear
Than any whisper sent from Heaven,
However sweet and clear.

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To A Proud Beauty ('A Valentine')

Though I have loved you well, I ween,
And you, too, fancied me,
Your heart hath too divided been
A constant heart to be.
And like the gay and youthful knight,
Who loved and rode away,
Your fleeting fancy takes a flight
With every fleeting day.

So let it be as you propose,
Tho' hard the struggle be ;
'Tis fitter far—that goodness knows !—
Since we cannot agree.
Let's quarrel once for all, my sweet,
Forget the past—and then
I'll kiss each pretty girl I meet,
While you'll flirt with the men.

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Potters' Clay

Though the pitcher that goes to the sparkling rill
Too oft gets broken at last,
There are scores of others its place to fill
When its earth to the earth is cast ;
Keep that pitcher at home, let it never roam,
But lie like a useless clod,
Yet sooner or later the hour will come
When its chips are thrown to the sod.

Is it wise, then, say, in the waning day,
When the vessel is crack'd and old,
To cherish the battered potter's clay,
As though it were virgin gold ?
Take care of yourself, dull, boorish elf,
Though prudent and safe you seem,
Your pitcher will break on the musty shelf,
And mine by the dazzling stream.

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A Song of Autumn

‘WHERE shall we go for our garlands glad
At the falling of the year,
When the burnt-up banks are yellow and sad,
When the boughs are yellow and sere?
Where are the old ones that once we had,
And when are the new ones near?
What shall we do for our garlands glad
At the falling of the year?’
‘Child! can I tell where the garlands go?
Can I say where the lost leaves veer
On the brown-burnt banks, when the wild winds blow,
When they drift through the dead-wood drear?
Girl! when the garlands of next year glow,
You may gather again, my dear—
But I go where the last year’s lost leaves go
At the falling of the year.’

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By Wood and Wold

Lightly the breath of the spring wind blows,
Though laden with faint perfume,
'Tis the fragrance rare that the bushman knows,
The scent of the wattle bloom.
Two-thirds of our journey at least are done,
Old horse ! let us take a spell
In the shade from the glare of the noon-day sun,
Thus far we have travell'd well ;
Your bridle I'll slip, your saddle ungirth,
And lay them beside this log,
For you'll roll in that track of reddish earth,
And shake like a water-dog.

Upon yonder rise there's a clump of trees—
Their shadows look cool and broad—
You can crop the grass as fast as you please,
While I stretch my limbs on the sward ;
'Tis pleasant, I ween, with a leafy screen
O'er the weary head, to lie
On the mossy carpet of emerald green,

[...] Read more

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A Hunting Song

Here's a health to every sportsman, be he stableman or lord,
If his heart be true, I care not what his pocket may afford;
And may he ever pleasantly each gallant sport pursue,
If he takes his liquor fairly, and his fences fairly, too.

He cares not for the bubbles of Fortune's fickle tide,
Who like Bendigo can battle, and like Olliver can ride.
He laughs at those who caution, at those who chide he'll frown,
As he clears a five-foot paling, or he knocks a peeler down.

The dull, cold world may blame us, boys! but what care we the while,
If coral lips will cheer us, and bright eyes on us smile?
For beauty's fond caresses can most tenderly repay
The weariness and trouble of many an anxious day.

Then fill your glass, and drain it, too, with all your heart and soul,
To the best of sports — The Fox-hunt, The Fair Ones, and The Bowl,
To a stout heart in adversity through every ill to steer,
And when Fortune smiles a score of friends like those around us here

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Ye Wearie Wayfarer

Hark! the bells of distant cattle
Waft across the range,
Through the golden-tufted wattle
Music low and strange;
Like the marriage of peal fairies
Comes the tinkling sound,
Or like chimes of sweet St Mary's
On far English ground.
How my courser champs the snaffle,
And with nostrils spread,
Snorts and scarcely seems to ruffle
Fern leaves with his tread;
Cool and pleasant on his haunches
Blows the evening breeze,
Through the overhanging branches
Of the wattle trees;

Onward! to the Southern Ocean
Glides the breath of Spring.
Onward! with a dreamy motion,

[...] Read more

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From Lightning and Tempest

The spring-wind pass'd through the forest, and whispered low in the leaves,
And the cedar toss'd her head, and the oak stood firm in his pride ;
The spring-wind pass'd through the town, through the housetops, casements, and eaves,
And whisper'd low in the hearts of the men, and the men replied,
Singing—'Let us rejoice in the light
Of our glory, and beauty, and might ;
Let us follow our own devices, and foster our own desires.
As firm as our oaks in our pride, as our cedars fair in our sight,
We stand like the trees of the forest that brave the frosts and the fires.'

The storm went forth to the forest, the plague went forth to the town,
And the men fell down to the plague, as the trees fell down to the gale ;
And their bloom was a ghastly pallor, and their smile was a ghastly frown,
And the song of their hearts was changed to a wild, disconsolate wail,
Crying—'God ! we have sinn'd, we have sinn'd,
We are bruised, we are shorn, we are thinn'd,
Our strength is turn'd to derision, our pride laid low in the dust,
Our cedars are cleft by Thy lightnings, our oaks are strew'd by Thy wind,
And we fall on our faces seeking Thine aid, though Thy wrath is just.'

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Thora's Song ('Ashtaroth')

We severed in Autumn early,
Ere the earth was torn by the plough;
The wheat and the oats and the barley
Are ripe for the harvest now.
We sunder'd one misty morning
Ere the hills were dimm'd by the rain;
Through the flowers those hills adorning --
Thou comest not back again.

My heart is heavy and weary
With the weight of a weary soul;
The mid-day glare grows dreary,
And dreary the midnight scroll.
The corn-stalks sigh for the sickle,
'Neath the load of their golden grain;
I sigh for a mate more fickle --
Thou comest not back again.

The warm sun riseth and setteth,
The night bringeth moistening dew,

[...] Read more

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