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Richard Aldington

Nationalism is a silly cock crowing on his own dunghill.

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Epilogue

Che son contenti nel fuoco

We are of those that Dante saw
Glad, for love's sake, among the flames of hell,
Outdaring with a kiss all-powerful wrath;
For we have passed athwart a fiercer hell,
Through gloomier, more desperate circles
Than ever Dante dreamed:
And yet love kept us glad.

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Lemures

In Nineveh
And beyond Nineveh
In the dusk
They were afraid.

In Thebes of Egypt
In the dust
They chanted of them to the dead.

In my Lesbos and Achaia
Where the God dwelt
We knew them.

Now men say "They are not":
But in the dusk
Ere the white sun comes -
A gay child that bears a white candle -
I am afraid of their rustling,
Of their terrible silence,
The menace of their secrecy.

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Goodbye!

Come, thrust your hands in the warm earth
And feel her strength through all your veins;
Breathe her full odors, taste her mouth,
Which laughs away imagined pains;
Touch her life's womb, yet know
This substance makes your grave also.

Shrink not; your flesh is no more sweet
Than flowers which daily blow and die;
Nor are your mein and dress so neat,
Nor half so pure your lucid eye;
And, yet, by flowers and earth I swear
You're neat and pure and sweet and fair.

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Bombardment

Four days the earth was rent and torn
By bursting steel,
The houses fell about us;
Three nights we dared not sleep,
Sweating, and listening for the imminent crash
Which meant our death.

The fourth night every man,
Nerve-tortured, racked to exhaustion,
Slept, muttering and twitching,
While the shells crashed overhead.

The fifth day there came a hush;
We left our holes
And looked above the wreckage of the earth
To where the white clouds moved in silent lines
Across the untroubled blue.

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At the British Museum

I turn the page and read:
"I dream of silent verses where the rhyme
Glides noiseless as an oar."
The heavy musty air, the black desks,
The bent heads and the rustling noises
In the great dome
Vanish ...
And
The sun hangs in the cobalt-blue sky,
The boat drifts over the lake shallows,
The fishes skim like umber shades through the undulating weeds,
The oleanders drop their rosy petals on the lawns,
And the swallows dive and swirl and whistle
About the cleft battlements of Can Grande's castle...

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The Faun Sees Snow for the First Time

Zeus,
Brazen-thunder-hurler,
Cloud-whirler, son-of-Kronos,
Send vengeance on these Oreads
Who strew
White frozen flecks of mist and cloud
Over the brown trees and the tufted grass
Of the meadows, where the stream
Runs black through shining banks
Of bluish white.

Zeus,
Are the halls of heaven broken up
That you flake down upon me
Feather-strips of marble?

Dis and Styx!
When I stamp my hoof
The frozen-cloud-specks jam into the cleft
So that I reel upon two slippery points ...

[...] Read more

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Round-Pond

Water ruffled and speckled by galloping wind
Which puffs and spurts it into tiny pashing breaks
Dashed with lemon-yellow afternoon sunlight.
The shining of the sun upon the water
Is like a scattering of gold crocus-petals
In a long wavering irregular flight.

The water is cold to the eye
As the wind to the cheek.

In the budding chestnuts
Whose sticky buds glimmer and are half-burst open
The starlings make their clitter-clatter;
And the blackbirds in the grass
Are getting as fat as the pigeons.

Too-hoo, this is brave;
Even the cold wind is seeking a new mistress.

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Daisy

Plus quan se atque suos amavit omnes,
nunc...
- Catullus

You were my playmate by the sea.
We swam together.
Your girl's body had no breasts.

We found prawns among the rocks;
We liked to feel the sun and to do nothing;
In the evening we played games with the others.

It made me glad to be by you.

Sometimes I kissed you,
And you were always glad to kiss me;
But I was afraid - I was only fourteen.

And I had quite forgotten you,
You and your name.

[...] Read more

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Prelude

How could I love you more?
I would give up
Even that beauty I have loved too well
That I might love you better.
Alas, how poor the gifts that lovers give
I can but give you of my flesh and strength,
I can but give you these few passing days
And passionate words that, since our speech began,
All lovers whisper in all ladies' ears.

I try to think of some one lovely gift
No lover yet in all the world has found;
I think: If the cold sombre gods
Were hot with love as I am
Could they not endow you with a star
And fix bright youth for ever in your limbs?
Could they not give you all things that I lack?

You should have loved a god; I am but dust.
Yet no god loves as loves this poor frail dust.

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