The sea is calm to-night.
The tide is full, the moon lies fair
Upon the straits; on the French coast the light
Gleams and is gone; the cliffs of England stand,
Glimmering and vast, out in the tranquil bay.
Come to the window... sweet is the night-air!
Only, from the long line of spray
Where the sea meets the moon-blanch'd land,
Listen! you hear the grating roar
Of pebbles which the waves draw back, and fling,
At their return, up the high strand,
Begin, and cease, and then again begin,
With tremulous cadence slow, and bring
The eternal note of sadness in.
Sophocles long ago
Heard it on the Ęgean, and it brought
Into his mind the turbid ebb and flow
Of human misery; we
Find also in the sound a thought,
Hearing it by this distant northern sea.
The Sea of Faith
Was once, too, at the full, and round earth's shore
Lay like the folds of a bright girdle furl'd.
But now I only hear
Its melancholy, long, withdrawing roar,
Retreating, to the breath
Of the night-wind, down the vast edges drear
And naked shingles of the world.
Ah, love, let us be true
To one another! for the world, which seems
To lie before us like a land of dreams,
So various, so beautiful, so new,
Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light,
Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain;
And we are here as on a darkling plain
Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight,
Where ignorant armies clash by night.
From "The Lay of the Last Minstrel"
Sir Walter Scott (1771-1832)
Breathes there the man with soul so dead
Who, never to himself, hath said:
This is my own, my native land?
Whose heart hath ne'er within him burned
As home his footsteps he hath turned,
From wandering on a foreign strand?
If such there breathes, go mark him well;
For him no minstrel raptures swell;
High though his titles, proud his name,
Boundless his wealth as wish can claim;
Despite those titles, power, and pelf,
The wretch concentered all in self,
Living, shall forfeit fair renown,
And, doubly dying, shall go down
To the vile dust from whence he sprung,
Unwept, unhonored, and unsung.
This royal throne of kings, this scepter'd isle,
This other Eden, demi-paradise,
This precious stone set in the silver sea,
This blessed plot, this earth, this realm,
King Richard II
John Gillespie Magee, Jr.
as you can see, the poet was 19 years old when he died, an RAF pilot killed in action in World War II. He wrote this poem 8 months before he died.
O! I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings:
Sunward I've climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds, ~ and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of ~ wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hovring there,
I've chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air...
Up, up the long, delirious, burning blue
I've topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace,
Where never lark nor ever eagle flew ~
And, while with silent lifting mind I've trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.
For several hundred years, Shakespeare's "The Merchant of Venice" was considered a virulently anti-Semitic play, reflecting the universal prejudice of Elizabethan times.
Not so. It is Shakespeare at his subtle best, with Shylock the true tragic hero.
Antonio, the Merchant, borrowed an enormous amount of money from Shylock, the Moneylender, to finance a speculative venture. The collecteral was to be a pound of Antonio's own flesh.
Antonio's ships sank and he refused to repay the loan. In Act III, Scene I, Salarino, Antonio's friend, scoffs at the idea that Shylock would actually insist upon his pound of flesh... and Shylock responds:
Two poems by
ON WITHDRAWING FROM PAIN
Escape ~ it is the basket
In which the Heart is caught
When down some awful Battlement
The rest of Life is dropt.
Reject my faithful friendship
Reject my flound'ring mind
Reject my foolish caring
But to my Heart be kind.
When Life has overwhelmed us
And Friends make us bereft
When Heart has gone a-wandering
The Soul is still what's left.
NOT IN VAIN
If I can stop one heart from breaking,
I shall not live in vain:
If I can ease one life the aching,
Or cool one pain,
Or help one fainting robin
Into his nest again,
And hear his small heart throbing,
I shall not have lived in vain.
from "The Merchant of Venice"
Why, I am sure, if he forfeit, thou wilt not take his flesh: what's that good for?
To bait fish withal: if it will feed nothing else, it will feed my revenge. He hath disgraced me, and hindered me half a million; laughed at my losses, mocked at my gains, scorned my nation, thwarted my bargains, cooled my friends, heated mine enemies; and what's his reason? I am a Jew.
Hath not a Jew eyes? hath not a Jew hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions? fed with the same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject to the same diseases, healed by the same means, warmed and cooled by the same winter and summer, as a Christian is?
If you prick us, do we not bleed?
If you tickle us, do we not laugh?
If you poison us, do we not die?
And if you wrong us, shall we not revenge?
If we are like you in the rest, we will resemble you in that. If a Jew wrong a Christian, what is his humility? Revenge! If a Christian wrong a Jew, what should his sufferance be by Christian example? Why, revenge! The villany you teach me, I will execute, and it shall go hard but I will better the instruction.