Canto II from The Angel in the House by Coventry Patmore

When I behold the skies aloft
   Passing the pageantry of dreams,
The cloud whose bosom, cygnet-soft,
   A couch for nuptial Juno seems,
The ocean broad, the mountains bright,
   The shadowy vales with feeding herds,
I from my lyre the music smite,
   Nor want for justly matching words.
All forces of the sea and air,
   All interests of hill and plain,
I so can sing, in seasons fair,
   That who hath felt may feel again.
Elated oft by such free songs,
   I think with utterance free to raise
That hymn for which the whole world longs,
   A worthy hymn in woman’s praise;
A hymn bright-noted like a bird’s,
   Arousing these song-sleepy times
With rhapsodies of perfect words,
   Ruled by returning kiss of rhymes.
But when I look on her and hope
   To tell with joy what I admire,
My thoughts lie cramp’d in narrow scope,
   Or in the feeble birth expire;
No mystery of well-woven speech,
   No simplest phrase of tenderest fall,
No liken’d excellence can reach
   Her, thee most excellent of all,
The best half of creation’s best,
   Its heart to feel, its eye to see,
The crown and complex of the rest,
   Its aim and its epitome.
Nay, might I utter my conceit,
   ’Twere after all a vulgar song,
For she’s so simply, subtly sweet,
   My deepest rapture does her wrong.
Yet is it now my chosen task
   To sing her worth as Maid and Wife;
Nor happier post than this I ask,
   To live her laureate all my life.
On wings of love uplifted free,
   And by her gentleness made great,
I’ll teach how noble man should be
   To match with such a lovely mate;
CAnd then in her may move the more
   The woman’s wish to be desired,
(By praise increased), till both shall soar,
   With blissful emulations fired.
And, as geranium, pink, or rose
   Is thrice itself through power of art,
So may my happy skill disclose
   New fairness even in her fair heart;
Until that churl shall nowhere be
   Who bends not, awed, before the throne
Of her affecting majesty,
   So meek, so far unlike our own;
Until (for who may hope too much
   From her who wields the powers of love?)
Our lifted lives at last shall touch
   That happy goal to which they move;
Until we find, as darkness rolls
   Away, and evil mists dissolve,
That nuptial contrasts are the poles
   On which the heavenly spheres revolve.

A Prayer in the Spring by Robert Frost

OH, give us pleasure in the flowers to-day;
And give us not to think so far away
As the uncertain harvest; keep us here
All simply in the springing of the year.
Oh, give us pleasure in the orchard white,
Like nothing else by day, like ghosts by night;
And make us happy in the happy bees,
The swarm dilating round the perfect trees.
And make us happy in the darting bird
That suddenly above the bees is heard,
The meteor that thrusts in with needle bill,
And off a blossom in mid air stands still.
For this is love and nothing else is love,
The which it is reserved for God above
To sanctify to what far ends He will,
But which it only needs that we fulfil.

Heart of Mine by Sappho

Heart of mine, if all the altars
Of the ages stood before me,
Not one pure enough nor sacred
Could I find to lay this white, white
  Rose of love upon.

I who am not great enough to
Love thee with this mortal body
So impassionate with ardour,
But oh, not too small to worship
  While the sun shall shine,—

I would build a fragrant temple
To thee, in the dark green forest,
Of red cedar and fine sandal,
And there love thee with sweet service
  All my whole life long.

I would freshen it with flowers,
And the piney hill-wind through it
Should be sweetened with soft fervours
Of small prayers in gentle language
  Thou wouldst smile to hear.

And a tinkling Eastern wind-bell,
With its fluttering inscription,
From the rafters with bronze music
Should retard the quiet fleeting
  Of uncounted hours.

And my hero, while so human,
Should be even as the gods are,
In that shrine of utter gladness,
With the tranquil stars above it
  And the sea below.

I like for you to be still by Pablo Neruda

I like for you to be still
it is as though you are absent
And you hear me from far away
And my voice does not touch you
it seems as though your eyes had flown away
And it seems that a kiss had sealed your mouth
As all things are filled with my soul
You emerge from the things
Filled with my soul
You are like my soul
A butterfly of dream
And you are like the word: Melancholy

I like for you to be still
And you seem far away
it sounds as though you are lamenting
A butterfly cooing like a dove
And you hear me from far away
And my voice does not reach you
Let me come to be still in your silence
And let me talk to you with your silence
That is bright as a lamp
Simple, as a ring
You are like the night
With its stillness and constellations
Your silence is that of a star
As remote and candid

I like for you to be still
it is as though you are absent
Distant and full of sorrow
So you would’ve died
One word then, One smile is enough
And i’m happy;
Happy that it’s not true

The Art of Love (Book III) by Ovid

Sirens, tho’ monsters of the stormy main,
Can ships, when under sail, with songs detain:
Scarce could Ulysses by his friends be bound,
When first he listen’d to the charming sound,
Singing insinuates, learn all ye maids;
Oft when a face forbids, a voice persuades.
Whether on theatres loud strains we hear,
Or in Ruelles some soft Egyptian air.
Well shall she sing, of whom I make my choice,
And with her lute accompany her voice.
The rocks were stirr’d, the beasts to listen staid
When on his lyre melodious Orpheus play’d,
Even Cerberus and hell that sound obey’d,
And stones officious were thy walls to raise.
0, Thebes, attracted by Amphion’s lays.
The dolphin, dumb itself, thy voice admir’d,
And was, Arion, by thy songs inspir’d.
Of sweet Callimachus the works rehearse,
And real Philetas and Anacreon’s verse,
Terentian plays may much the mind improve;
But softest Sappho best instructs to love.
Propertius, Gallus, and Tibullus read,
And let Varronian verse to these succeed.
Then mighty Maro’s work with care peruse;
Of all the Latians boards the noblest muse,
Even I, ’tis possible, in after-days,
May ‘scape oblivion, and be nam’d with these.

My labour’d lines, some readers may approve,
Since I’ve instructed either sex in love.
Whatever book you read of this soft art,
Read with a lover’s voice and lover’s heart.

Art of love (book II) by Ovid

Andromache was tall,yet some report
Her Hector was so blind he thought her short.
At first what’s nauseous lessens by degrees;
Young loves are nice, and difficult to please.
The infant plant that bears a tender rind,
Reels to and fro with ev’ry breath of wind;
But shooting upward to a tree at last,
It stems the storm, and braves the strongest blast
Time will defects and blemishes endear,
And make them lovely to your eyes appear:
Unusual scents at first may give offence;
Time reconciles them to the vanquish’d sense.
Her vices soften with some kinder phrase;

—-
Nor ask her age, consult no register,
Under whose reign she’s born, or what’s the year!
If fading youth chequers her hair with white,
Experience makes her perfect in delight;
In her embrace sublimer joys are found,
A fruitful soil, and cultivated ground!
The hours enjoy whilst youth and pleasures last,
Age hurries on, and death pursues too fast.
Or plough the seas, or cultivate the land,
Or wield the sword in thy advent’rous hand;
Or much in love thy nervous strength employ,
Embrace the fair, the grateful maid enjoy;
Pleasure and wealth reward thy pleasing pains,
The labour’s great, but greater far the gains.
Add their experience in affairs of love,
For years and practice do alike improve,
Their arts repair the injuries of time,
And still preserve them in their charming prime;
In varied ways they act the pleasure o’er,
Nor pictur’d postures can instruct you more.
They want no courtship to provoke delight,
But meet your warmth with eager appetite;
Give me enjoyment, when the willing dame
Glows with desires, and burns with equal flame.21
I love to hear the soft transporting joys,
The frequent sighs, the tender murm’ring voice;
To see her eyes with varied pleasures move,
And all the nymph confess the pow’r of love.
Nature’s not thus indulgent to the young,
These joys alone to riper years belong;
Who youth enjoys, drinks crude unready wine,
Let age your girl and sprightly juice refine,
Mellow their sweets, and make the taste divide.
To Helen who’d Hermione prefer,
Or Gorge think beyond her mother fair;
But he that covets the experienc’d dame,
Shall crown his joys and triumph in his flame.
One conscious bed receives the happy pair;
Retire, my muse; the door demands thy care.
What charming words, what tender things are said,
What language flows without the useless aid!
There shall the roving hand employment find,
Inspire new flames, and make e’en virgins kind.
Thus Hector did Andromache delight,
Hector in love victorious, as in fight.
When weary from the field Achilles came,
Thus with delays he rais’d Briseis’ flame;
Ah, could those arms, those fatal hands, delight!
Inspire kind thoughts, and raise thy appetite!
Coulds’t thou, fond maid, be charm’d with his embrace,
Stain’d with the blood of half thy royal race.

The Art of Love (Book I) by Ovid

In Cupid’s school, whoe’er would take degree
Must learn his rudiments by reading me,
Seamen with sailing art their vessels move;
Art guides the chariot: art instructs to love.
Of ships and chariots others know the rule;
But I am master in Love’s mighty school.
Cupid indeed is obstinate and wild,
A stubborn god; but yet the god’s a child:
Easy to govern in his tender age,
Like fierce Achilles in his pupilage:
That hero, born for conquest, trembling stood
Before the centaur, and receiv’d the rod.
As Chiron mollified his cruel mind
With art; and taught his warlike hands to wind
The silver strings of his melodious lyre;
So love’s fair goddess does my soul inspire
To teach her softer arts; to sooth the mind,
And smooth the rugged breasts of human kind.

Yet Cupid and Achilles, each with scorn
And rage were fill’d; and both were goddess-born.
The bull reclaim’d and yolk’d, the burden draws:
The horse receives the bit within his jaws.
And stubborn love shall bend beneath my sway,
Tho’ struggling oft he tries to disobey.
He shakes his torch, he wounds me with his darts;
But vain his force, and vainer are his arts.
The more he burns my soul, or wounds my sight,
The more he teaches to revenge the spite.

I boast no aid the Delphian god affords,
Nor auspice from the flight of chattering birds,
Nor Clio, nor her sisters, have I seen,
As Hesiod saw them on the shady green:
Experience makes my work a truth so tried,
You may believe; and Venus be my guide.

Far hence ye vestals be, who bind your hair;
And wives, who gowns below your ancles wear.
I sing the brothels loose and unconfin’d,
Th’ unpunishable pleasures of the kind;
Which all alike for love or money find.

You, who in Cupid’s roll inscribe your name,
First seek an object worthy of your flame;
Then strive, with art, your lady’s mind to gain;
And last, provide your love may long remain.
On these three precepts all my work shall move:
These are the rules and principles of love.

Sedge-Warblers by Edward Thomas

This beauty made me dream there was a time
Long past and irrecoverable, a clime
Where any brook so radiant racing clear
Through buttercup and kingcup bright as brass
But gentle, nourishing the meadow grass
That leans and scurries in the wind, would bear
Another beauty, divine and feminine,
Child to the sun, a nymph whose soul unstained
Could love all day, and never hate or tire,
A lover of mortal or immortal kin.

And yet, rid of this dream, ere I had drained
Its poison, quieted was my desire
So that I only looked into the water,
Clearer than any goddess or man’s daughter,
And hearkened while it combed the dark green hair
And shook the millions of the blossoms white
Of water-crowfoot, and curdled to one sheet
The flowers fallen from the chestnuts in the park
Far off. And sedge-warblers, clinging so light
To willow twigs, sang longer than the lark,
Quick, shrill, or grating, a song to match the heat
Of the strong sun, nor less the water’s cool,
Gushing through narrows, swirling in the pool.
Their song that lacks all words, all melody,
All sweetness almost, was dearer then to me
Than sweetest voice that sings in tune sweet words.
This was the best of May the small brown birds
Wisely reiterating endlessly
What no man learnt yet, in or out of school.

Love Song by Carol Muske-Dukes

Love comes hungry to anyone’s hand.
I found the newborn sparrow next to
the tumbled nest on the grass. Bravely

opening its beak. Cats circled, squirrels.
I tried to set the nest right but the wild
birds had fled. The knot of pin feathers

sat in my hand and spoke. Just because
I’ve raised it by touch, doesn’t mean it
follows. All day it pecks at the tin image of

a faceless bird. It refuses to fly,
though I’ve opened the door. What
sends us to each other? He and I

had a blue landscape, a village street,
some poems, bread on a plate. Love
was a camera in a doorway, love was

a script, a tin bird. Love was faceless,
even when we’d memorized each other’s
lines. Love was hungry, love was faceless,

the sparrow sings, famished, in my hand.

Requests by Digby Mackworth Dolben

I asked for Peace—
 My sins arose,
 And bound me close,
I could not find release.

I asked for Truth—
 My doubts came in,
 And with their din
They wearied all my youth.

I asked for Love—
 My lovers failed,
 And griefs assailed
Around, beneath, above.

I asked for Thee—
 And Thou didst come
 To take me home
Within Thy Heart to be.