Nature’s Lady by William Wordsworth

Three years she grew in sun and shower,
Then Nature said, “A lovelier flower
On earth was never sown;
This child I to myself will take,
She shall be mine, and I will make
A lady of my own.

“Myself will to my darling be
Both law and impulse: and with me
The Girl, in rock and plain,
In earth and heaven, in glade and bower,
Shall feel an overseeing power
To kindle or restrain.

“She shall be sportive as the fawn
That wild with glee across the lawn
Or up the mountain springs;
And hers shall be the breathing balm,
And hers the silence and the calm,
Of mute insensate things.

“The floating clouds their state shall lend
To her; for her the willows bend;
Nor shall she fail to see
Even in the motions of the storm
Grace that shall mould the maiden’s form
By silent sympathy.

“The stars of midnight shall be dear
To her; and she shall lean her ear
In many a secret place
Where rivulets dance their wayward round,
And beauty born of murmuring sound
Shall pass into her face.”


One with the Sun by Albert Frank Moritz

one with the sun
in trackless fields
of yellow grass and thistle, scent
of humid heavy air and the wing music
of bees and flies.

Child, slender
nakedness to itself unknown,
true colour of the light
dispersed invisibly
or glowing around the black hulls
of distant thunderheads, around
the grasshopper’s countenance,
solemn, vigilant and wise.

Green apples, poured full
of density, of crispness, float unmoved
under leaves on the slope. Brown
fallen apples nest
in secret whorls of grass. The apple tree:
alone in so much space. And below
in the woods by the water
a sweet dead branch
cracks lightly
in the shadow in the wind.

But here is an old track
through the grass head-high
to a child: who
made it? They must have
passed and passed by this one tree,
by the abandoned, tireless car
where rabbits peer out, and the circle
of black embers,
cans, springs, skeletons
of furniture. They too
passed here many times
on their way from the street’s end
to the oaks that screen
the river. There
the sun is nesting now, night
rises with pale flutterings
of white wings from roots
of plants and the black water.

The Philosopher and her Father by Shirley Brooks

A SOUND came booming through the air—
‘What is that sound?’ quoth I.
My blue-eyed pet, with golden hair,
Made answer, presently,
‘Papa, you know it very well—
That sound—it was Saint Pancras Bell.’

‘My own Louise, put down that cat.
And come and stand by me;
I ’m sad to hear you talk like that.
Where’s your philosophy? That sound—attend to what I tell—
That was not Saint Pancras Bell.

‘ Sound is the name the sage selects
For the concluding term
Of a long series of effects.
Of which the blow’s the germ.
The following brief analysis
Shows the interpolations. Miss.

‘The blow which, when the clapper slips
Falls on your friend, the Bell,
Changes its circle to ellipse,
(A word you’d better spell)
And then comes elasticity.
Restoring what it used to be.

‘Nay, making it a little more.
The circle shifts about.
As much as it shrunk in before
The Bell, you see, swells out;
And so a new ellipse is made.
(You’re not attending, I’m afraid.)

‘This change of form disturbs the air.
Which in its turn behaves
In like elastic fashion there.
Creating waves on waves;
These press each other onward, dear.
Until the outmost finds your ear.’

‘And thenj papa^ I hear the sounds
Exactly what I said;
You’re only talking round and round.
Just to confuse my head.
All that you say about the Bell
My Uncle George would call a “sell.”’

‘Not so, my child, my child, not so.
Sweet image of your sire!
A long way farther we must go
Before it’s time to tire;
This wondrous, wandering wave, or tide.
Has only reached your ear’s outside.

‘Within that ear the surgeons find
A tympanum, or drum.
Which has a little bone behind—
Malleus it’s called by some;
But those not proud of Latin Grammar,
Humbly translate it as the hammer.

‘ The Wave’s vibrations this transmits.
On to the incus bone,
(Incus means anvil, which it hits,)
And this transfers the tone
To the small os, orbicular,
The tiniest bone that people carry.

‘ The stapes next—the name recalls
A stirrup’s form, my daughter—
Joins three half-circular canals.
Each fill’d with limpid water;
Their curious lining, you’ll observe.
Made of the auditory nerve.

‘ This vibrates next—and then we find
The mystic work is crown’d.
For there my daughter’s gentle mind
First recognizes sound.
See what a host of causes swell
To make up what you call “the Bell.”’

Awhile she paused, my bright Louise,
And ponder’d on the case;
Then, settling that he meant to tease,
She slapp’d her father’s face,
‘You bad old man to sit and tell
Such gibberybosh about a Bell!’

The Sun by Mary Oliver

Have you ever seen
in your life
more wonderful

than the way the sun,
every evening,
relaxed and easy,
floats toward the horizon

and into the clouds or the hills,
or the rumpled sea,
and is gone–
and how it slides again

out of the blackness,
every morning,
on the other side of the world,
like a red flower

streaming upward on its heavenly oils,
say, on a morning in early summer,
at its perfect imperial distance–
and have you ever felt for anything
such wild love–
do you think there is anywhere, in any language,
a word billowing enough
for the pleasure

that fills you,
as the sun
reaches out,
as it warms you

as you stand there,
or have you too
turned from this world–

or have you too
gone crazy
for power,
for things?

The Watch in the Wood by John Masefield

When Death has laid her in his quietude,
And dimmed the glow of her benignant star,
Her tired limbs shall rest within a wood,
In a green glade where oaks and beeches are,

Where the shy fawns, the pretty fawns, the deer,
With mild brown eyes shall view her spirit’s husk;
The sleeping woman of her will appear,
The maiden Dian shining through the dusk.

And, when the stars are white as twilight fails,
And the green leaves are hushed, and the winds swoon,
The calm pure thrilling throats of nightingales
Shall hymn her sleeping beauty to the moon.

All the woods hushed – save for a dripping rose,
All the woods dim – save where a glow-worm glows.

Brimming the quiet woods with holiness,
The lone brown birds will hymn her till the dawn,
The delicate, shy, dappled deer will press
Soft pitying muzzles on her swathèd lawn.

The little pretty rabbits running by,
Will pause among the dewy grass to peep,
Their thudding hearts affrightened to espy
The maiden Dian lying there asleep.

Brown, lustrous, placid eyes of sylvan things
Will wonder at the quiet in her face,
While from the thorny branch the singer brings
Beauty and peace to that immortal place.

Until the grey dawn sets the woods astir
The pure birds’ thrilling psalm will mourn for her.

The Fair Young Wife by Helen Adam

This is a tale for a night of snow.
It was lived in the north land long ago.
And old man, nearing the end of life,
Took to his arms a fair young wife.

A wife to keep his house in the woods.
His house of echoes and solitudes,
’Mid forests gloomy and unexplored,
Hunting ground of the wolves abhored.

Through miles of forest the wolves ran light.
She heard them running at dead of night.
She heard them running, though far away,
And her heart leapt up like a beast of prey.

“Lie still, my lady, lie still and sleep.
Though the north wind blows and the snow drifts deep.
My timid love, in our curtained bed,
The whine of the wolves you need not dread.”

Hunger, when the north wind blows.
Starving wolves on the winter snows.
When old age sags in a sleep profound,
The rush of the wolves is the only sound.

She dreamt she walked in the forest shade,
Alone, and naked, and unafraid.
The bonds of being dissolved and broke.
Her body she dropped like a cast off cloak.

Her shackled soul to its kindred sped.
In devouring lust with the wolves she fled.
But woke at dawn in a curtained bed.
By an old, grey man, in an airless bed.

She dreamt she walked where the wolf eyes gleam.
And soon she walked, and it was no dream.
She fell on fours from the world of man,
And howled her bliss when the rank beasts ran.

The morning life, and the mid-night life.
The sun and moon of the fair young wife.
The moon in the north land rules the sky.
She prays to it as it rises high.

“Moon in glory, shining so cold.
Oh! moon at my window big and bold.
On fields near the forest the snow lies white,
Will it show our tracks when we run tonight?

For fifty leagues on the frozen snow,
I’ll feel through my fur the north wind blow,
As I run to drink of a bounding flood,
With the mighty pack on its quest for blood.

Strong, free, furious, swift to slay,
But back to his bed by the break of day!
Can I lie down at a husband’s will,
When wild love runs, and my heart cries, Kill!”

“Wife, are you ready to come to bed?”
Her husband calls from the room overhead.
“The lights are out in the distant town.
And I can’t sleep until you lie down.”

Softly panting, she climbs the stair.
The moon lights the bed with a livid glare.
“I’ll draw the curtains, and hug you near.
And we’ll lie hid from the moon, my dear.”

Curtains drawn in the deep of night.
Through smothering velvet no glimmer of light.
He turns to his love, lying warm in the dark.
In her eyes, shining near him, he sees a red spark.

A spark as bright as the break of day.
She tosses him down in ravenous play.
To the edge of the forest ring his cries.
“A beast! A beast! on my body lies!”

The wolf pack howls in the waste of snow.
She howls to answer them long and low.
But she will not run with the wolves tonight
Though the full moon shines with a blinding light.

Behind the curtains her jaws drip red.
She has found her prey in her own dark bed;
The man, who nearing the end of life,
Took to his arms a fair young wife.

The Natural History of Elephants by Milton Acorn

In the elephant’s five-pound brain
The whole world’s both table and shithouse
Where he wanders seeking viandes, exchanging great farts
For compliments. The rumble of his belly
Is like the contortions of a crumpling planetary system.
Long has he roved, his tongue longing to press the juices
From the ultimate berry, large as
But tenderer and sweeter than a watermelon;
And he leaves such signs in his wake that pygmies have fallen
And drowned in his great fragrant marshes of turds.

In the elephant’s five-pound brain
The wind is diverted by the draughts of his breath,
Rivers are sweet gulps, and the ocean
After a certain distance is too deep for wading.
The earth is trivial, it has the shakes
And must be severely tested, else
It’ll crumble into unsteppable clumps and scatter off
Leaving the great beast bellowing among the stars.

In the elephant’s five-pound brain
Dwarves have an incredible vicious sincerity,
A persistent will to undo things. The beast cannot grasp
The convolutions of destructqon, always his mind
Turns to other things – the vastness of green
And of frangibility of forest. If only once he could descend
To trivialities he’d sweep the whole earth clean of his tormentors
In one sneeze so mighty as to be observed from Mars.

In the elephant’s five-pound brain
Sun and moon are the pieces in a delightfully complex ballgame
That have to do with him…never does he doubt
The sky has opened and rain and thunder descend
For his special ministration. He dreams of mastodons
And mammoths and still his pride beats
Like the heart of the world, he knows he could reach
To the end of space if he stood still and imagined the effort.

In the elephant’s five-pound brain
Poems are composed as a silent substitute for laughter,
His thoughts while resting in the shade
Are long and solemn as novels and he knows his companions
By names differing for each quality of morning.
Noon and evening are ruminated on and each overlaid
With the taste of night. He loves his horny perambulating hide
As other tribes love their houses, and remembers
He’s left flakes of skin and his smell
As a sign and permanent stamp on wherever he has been.

In the elephant’s five-pound brain
The entire Oxford dictionary’ld be too small
To contain all the concepts which after all are too weighty
Each individually ever to be mentioned;
Thus of course the beast has no language
Only an eternal pondering hesitation.

In the elephant’s five-pound brain
The pliable trunk’s a continuous diversion
That in his great innocence he never thinks of as perverse,
The pieces of the world are handled with such a thrilling
Tenderness that all his hours
Are consummated and exhausted with love.
Not slow to mate every female bull and baby
Is blessed with a gesture grandly gracious and felt lovely
Down to the sensitive great elephant toenails.

And when his more urgent pricking member
Stabs him on its horrifying season he becomes
A blundering mass of bewilderment …. No thought
But twenty tons of lust he fishes madly for whales
And spiders for copulation. Sperm falls in great gouts
And the whole forest is sticky, colonies of ants
Are nourished for generations on dried elephant semen.

In the elephant’s five-pound brain
Death is accorded no belief and old friends
Are continually expected, patience
Is longer than the lives of glaciers and the centuries
Are rattled like toy drums. A life is planned
Like a brushstroke on the canvas of eternity,
And the beginning of a damnation is handled
With great thought as to its middle and its end.

The Owls by Charles Baudelaire

Under the overhanging yews,
The dark owls sit in solemn state.
Like stranger gods; by twos and twos
Their red eyes gleam. They meditate.

Motionless thus they sit and dream
Until that melancholy hour
When, with the sun’s last fading gleam,
The nightly shades assume their power.

From their still attitude the wise
Will learn with terror to despise
All tumult, movement, and unrest;

For he who follows every shade,
Carries the memory in his breast,
Of each unhappy journey made.

Winter Solstice by Gary Young

Birds travel toward the horizon
at a distance which makes them
indistinguishable. We only know
that they seem to be leaving the earth.
The glassy bulbs of the Iris have worked their way
to the surface of the damp soil,
and the roots of the pine tree
rest on the ground like arthritic knuckles,
clumsey, useless, having given up
on everything, even themselves.
I watch the rain fall after a year of drought,
and it settles into the runoff. My yard
is a delta of tiny rivers, and the spirit,
which must be like water, flows quietly away.