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John Crowe Ransom

Men

'How many goodly creatures are there here!'
Miranda doted on the sight of seamen,
The very casual adventurers
Who took a flood as quickly as a calm,
And kept their blue eyes blue to any weather.
This was the famous manliness of men;
And when she saw it on the dirty strangers,
She clapped her pretty hands in sudden joy:
'O brave new world!'

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Morning

THE skies were jaded, while the famous sun
Slack of his office to confute the fogs
Lay sick abed; but I, inured to duty,
Sat for my food. Three hours each day we souls,
Who might be angels but are fastened down
With bodies, most infuriating freight,
Sit fattening these frames and skeletons
With filthy food, which they must cast away
Before they feed again.

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The Four Roses

Four sisters sitting in one house,
I said, these roses on a stem
With bosoms bare. But wayfaring
I went and ravished one of them.


So one was taken. But the three,
They spread their petals just the same,
They turned no decent pale for grief,
They drew no fragrance back for shame.


The canker is on roses too!
I cried, and lifted up the rod
And scourged them bleeding to the ground.
All, all are sinners unto God.

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Moonlight

HE feigned a fine indifference
To be so prodigal of light,
Knowing his piteous twisted things
Would lose the crooked marks of spite
When only moonbeams fit the dusk
And made his wicked world seem right.


But we forget so soon the shame,
Conceiving sweetness if we can
Heaven the citadel itself
Illumined on the lunar plan;
And I the chief of sinners, I
The middlemost Victorian!


Now I shall ride the misty lake
With my own love, and speak so low
That not a fishy thing shall hear
The secrets passing to and fro

[...] Read more

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The Resurrection

LONG, long before men die I sometimes read
Their stoic backs as plain as graveyard stones,
An epitaph of poor dead men indeed.
I never pass those old and crooked bones,
Ridden far down with burden and with age,
Stopping the headlong highway till they lean
Aside in honor of my equipage,
But I am sick and shamed that Heaven has been
So clumsy with the inelastic clay!
'What pretty piece of hope then have you spun,
My old defeated traveler,' I say,
'That keeps you marching on? For I have none.
I have looked often and I have not found
Old men bowed low who ever rose up sound.'

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Piazza Piece

-- I am a gentleman in a dustcoat trying
To make you hear. Your ears are soft and small
And listen to an old man not at all,
They want the young men's whispering and sighing.
But see the roses on your trellis dying
And hear the spectral singing of the moon;
For I must have my lovely lady soon,
I am a gentleman in a dustcoat trying.

-- I am a lady young in beauty waiting
Until my truelove comes, and then we kiss.
But what grey man among the vines is this
Whose words are dry and faint as in a dream?
Back from my trellis, Sir, before I scream !
I am a lady young in beauty waiting.

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Street Light

The shine of many city streets
Confuses any countryman;
It flickers here and flashes there,
It goes as soon as it began,
It beckons many ways at once
For him to follow if he can.


Under the lamp a woman stands,
The lamps are shining equal well,
But in her eyes are other lights,
And lights plus other lights will tell:
He loves the brightness of that street
Which is the shining street to hell.


There's light enough, and strong enough,
To lighten every pleasant park;
I'm sorry lights are held so cheap,
I'd rather there were not a spark

[...] Read more

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The Christian

I heard a story of a sailing man.
He was a surly sort of mariner,
He used to swear at all the seven seas,
And rode them dauntless up and down the earth.


But when he sickened of the windy wash,
He took to wife a proper village woman
And put her in a precious little house;
And there he weathered many winter seasons,
Knocking the ashes neatly from his pipe
Upon the tended hearth.


And only when he went upon the moors,
And felt the sting and censure of the winds,
And tasted of the salt blown in from sea,
Then only would he curse the marriage morning,
And swear he'd not go skulking back again
To sit that hearth like any broken bitch

[...] Read more

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Darkness

WHEN hurrying home on a rainy night
And hearing tree-tops rubbed and tossed,
And seeing never a friendly star
And feeling your way when paths are crossed:
Stop fast and turn three times around
And try the logic of the lost.


Where is the heavenly light you dreamed?
Where is your hearth and glowing ash?
Where is your love by the mellow moon?
Here is not even a lightning-flash,
And in a place no worse than this
Lost men shall wail and teeth shall gnash.


Lightning is quick and perilous,
The dawn comes on too slow and pale,
Your love brings only a yellow lamp,
Yet of these lights one shall avail:

[...] Read more

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One Who Rejects Christ

There's farmers and there's farmers,
There's many a field and field,
But none of the farmers round about
Can haul such harvest-wagons out
As I from an acre's yield.


There's plenty and plenty of farmers
That leave the ground by the fence,
Thinking it's nice if a patch of roses
Should scratch out the hay and tickle their noses
With nice little wild-rose scents.


I'm not like other farmers,
I make my farming pay;
I never go in for sentiment,
And seeing that roses yield no rent
I cut the stuff away.

[...] Read more

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