The midwife slapped your footsoles, and your bald cry
Took its place among the elements.
-From 'Morning Song', by Sylvia Plath (in Ariel)
When Night is almost done -
And Sunrise grows so near
That we can touch the Spaces -
I'ts time to smooth the Hair -
And get the dimples ready -
And wonder we could care
For that old - faded Midnight -
That frightened - But an Hour -
- Emily Dickinson '347' , in The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson, ed. Thomas H. Johnson
Dance there upon the shore;
What need have you to care
For wind or water's roar?
And tumble out your hair
That the salt drops have wet;
Being young you have not yet known
The fool's triumph, nor yet
Love lost as soon as won,
Nor the best labourer dead
And all the sheaves to bind.
What need have you to dread
The monstrous crying of the wind?
-W. B. Yeats
Even in the beginning one had grave misgivings
but the enthusiasm of departure swept them away
in the green molestation of spring.
We were given false information on which
our lives were built, a pier
extending far out into a swollen river.
Now, even these straws are gone.
- From 'On the Empress's Mind', by John Ashbery (in Hotel Lautreamont)
Then everything, in her belief, was to be submerged
And soon. There was no life you could live out to its end
And no attitude which, in the end, would save you.
The monkish and the frivolous alike were to be trapped in
death's capacious claw
But listen while I tell you about the wallpaper -
There was a key to everything in that oak forest
But a sad one. Ever since childhood there
Has been this special meaning to everything.
You smile at your friend's joke, but only later, through tears.
- From 'The Ecclesiast', by John Ashbery (in Rivers and Mountains)
None of this makes any difference to professional exiles like
me, and that includes everybody in the place.
We go on sipping our coffee, thinking dark or transparent
thoughts . . .
- From 'The Skaters', by John Ashbery (in Rivers and Mountains)
Because your voice was at my side
I gave him pain,
Because within my hand I held
Your hand again.
There is no word nor any sign
Can make amend -
He is a stranger to me now
Who was my friend.
- James Joyce, from Chamber Music
are shed, and every day
the bloated cadavers
of lovers or lover
who drown in cars this way.
And they crowbar the door
and ordinary stories pour,
furl, crash, and spill downhill -
as water will - not orient,
nor sparkling, but still.
- Michael Donaghy (in Conjure)
Through the black amnesias of heaven.
Why am I given
These lamps, these planets
Falling like blessings, like flakes
Six sided, white
On my eyes, my lips, my hair
Touching and melting.
- From 'The Night Dances', by Sylvia Plath (in Ariel)