What lips my lips have kissed, and where, and why (Sonnet XLIII)
by Edna St. Vincent Millay
What lips my lips have kissed, and where, and why,
I have forgotten, and what arms have lain
Under my head till morning; but the rain
Is full of ghosts tonight, that tap and sigh
Upon the glass and listen for reply,
And in my heart there stirs a quiet pain
For unremembered lads that not again
Will turn to me at midnight with a cry.
Thus in winter stands the lonely tree,
Nor knows what birds have vanished one by one,
Yet knows its boughs more silent than before:
I cannot say what loves have come and gone,
I only know that summer sang in me
A little while, that in me sings no more.
I, Being Born a Woman and Distressed
by Edna St. Vincent Millay
I, being born a woman and distressed
By all the needs and notions of my kind,
Am urged by your propinquity to find
Your person fair, and feel a certain zest
To bear your body’s weight upon my breast:
So subtly is the fume of life designed,
To clarify the pulse and cloud the mind,
And leave me once again undone, possessed.
Think not for this, however, the poor treason
Of my stout blood against my staggering brain,
I shall remember you with love, or season
My scorn with pity, — let me make it plain:
I find this frenzy insufficient reason
For conversation when we meet again.
Edna St. Vincent Millay
by: Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882)
Tis time to be old,
To take in sail:–
The gods of bounds,
Who sets to seas a shore,
Came to me in his fatal rounds,
And said: ‘No more!
No farther shoot
Thy broad ambitious branches, and thy root.
Fancy departs: no more invent;
Contract thy firmament
To compass of a tent.
There’s not enough for this and that,
Make thy option which of two;
Economize the failing river,
Not the less revere the Giver,
Leave the many and hold the few.
Timely wise accept the terms,
Soften the fall with wary foot;
A little while
Still plan and smile,
And, fault of novel germs,
Mature the unfallen fruit.
Curse, if thou wilt, thy sires,
Bad husbands of their fires,
Who, when they gave thee breath,
Failed to bequeath
The needful sinew stark as once,
The Baresark marrow to thy bones,
But left a legacy of ebbing veins,
Inconstant heat and nerveless reins,–
Amid the Muses, left thee deaf and dumb,
Amid the gladiators, halt and numb.’
As the bird trims her to the gale,
I trim myself to the storm of time,
I man the rudder, reef the sail,
Obey the voice at eve obeyed at prime:
‘Lowly faithful, banish fear,
Right onward drive unharmed;
The port, well worth the cruise, is near,
And every wave is charmed.’
by Constantine Cavafey
When you set out for Ithaka, ask that your way be long full of instruction, full of adventure.
The Laistrogonians and the Cyclops, angry Poseidon, You will not meet them as long as your thought is lofty, as long as a rare emotion touch your spirit and your thought.
The Laistrogonians and the Cyclops, angry Poseidon you will not meet them unless you carry them in your Soul, unless your Soul raise them up before you.
Ask that your way be long, at many a summer’s dawn to enter, with what Gratitude ! what Joy! Ports seen for the first time;
To visit the great Phoenician trading centers and to buy good merchandise, mother of pearl and coral, amber and ebony and sensuous perfumes of every kind, sensuous perfumes as lavishly as you can.
Have Ithaka always in your mind but do not in the least hurry the journey.
Better that it last for years so that, when you reach the island, you are old, rich with all you have gained on the way, not expecting Ithaka to give you wealth.
Ithaka gave you the splendid journey. With out her you would not have set out.
She has nothing else to give you.
And if you find her poor, Ithaka has not deceived you .
So wise have you become, of such experience that already you will understand what these Ithakas mean.
#### Now, back to work!