Little Nell’s Funeral by Charles Dickens

And now the bell, — the bell
She had so often heard by night and day
  And listened to with solemn pleasure,
        E’en as a living voice, —
Rung its remorseless toll for her,
  So young, so beautiful, so good.

  Decrepit age, and vigorous life,
And blooming youth, and helpless infancy,
  Poured forth, — on crutches, in the pride of strength
        And health, in the full blush
        Of promise, the mere dawn of life, —
To gather round her tomb. Old men were there,
        Whose eyes were dim
        And senses failing, —
Grandames, who might have died ten years ago,
And still been old, — the deaf, the blind, the lame,
        The palsied,
The living dead in many shapes and forms,
To see the closing of this early grave.
  What was the death it would shut in,
To that which still could crawl and keep above it!

Along the crowded path they bore her now;
        Pure as the new fallen snow
That covered it; whose day on earth
        Had been as fleeting.
Under that porch, where she had sat when Heaven
In mercy brought her to that peaceful spot,
  She passed again, and the old church
  Received her in its quiet shade.

     They carried her to one old nook,
Where she had many and many a time sat musing,
  And laid their burden softly on the pavement.
           The light streamed on it through
The colored window, — a window where the boughs
        Of trees were ever rustling
     In the summer, and where the birds
           Sang sweetly all day long.

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I knew a Man by Sight by Henry David Thoreau

I knew a man by sight,
A blameless wight,
Who, for a year or more,
Had daily passed my door,
Yet converse none had had with him.

I met him in a lane,
Him and his cane,
About three miles from home,
Where I had chanced to roam,
And volumes stared at him, and he at me.

In a more distant place
I glimpsed his face,
And bowed instinctively;
Starting he bowed to me,
Bowed simultaneously, and passed along.

Next, in a foreign land
I grasped his hand,
And had a social chat,
About this thing and that,
As I had known him well a thousand years.

Late in a wilderness
I shared his mess,
For he had hardships seen,
And I a wanderer been;
He was my bosom friend, and I was his.

And as, methinks, shall all,
Both great and small,
That ever lived on earth,
Early or late their birth,
Stranger and foe, one day each other know.

Little Things by Julia A. F. Carney

Little drops of water
Little grains of sand,
Make the mighty ocean,
And the pleasant land.
Thus the little moments,
Humble though they be,
Make the mighty ages
Of eternity.
Thus our little errors
Lead the soul away
From the path of virtue,
Off in sin to stray.
Little deeds of kindness,
Little words of love,
Make our earth an Eden,
Like the heaven above.

Sing a While Longer by Edwin Markham

Has the bright sun set,

   Has the gale grown stronger?

Still we’ll not grieve yet:

   We will sing a while longer!

Has our youth been met

   By Time the wronger?

Let us not grieve yet,

   Let us sing a while longer!

Is the world beset,

   Do the sorrows throng her?

Let us not grieve yet:

   Let us sing a while longer!

On Thinking Glad by John Kendrick Bangs

Never mind a change of scene
Try a change of thinking.
What if things seem sordid, mean,
What’s the use of blinking?

Life’s not always storm and cloud,
Somewhere stars are shining.
Try to think your joys out loud,
Silence all repining.

By degrees, by thinking light,
Thinking glad and sweetly,
You’ll escape the stress of night,
Worry gone completely.

Get the habit looking for
Sunbeams pirouetting,
Tapping gaily at your door
Surest cure for fretting.

Needn’t fool yourself at all,
For there’s no denying
E’en above a prison wall
Song-birds are aflying.

Wherefore hearken to the song,
Never mind the prison,
And you’ll find your soul ere long
Unto freedom risen.

Jordan. (II) by George Herbert

When first my lines of heav’nly joyes made mention,
Such was their lustre, they did so excell,
That I sought out quaint words, and trim invention ;
My thoughts began to burnish, sprout, and swell,
Curling with metaphors a plain intention,
Decking the sense, as if it were to sell.

Thousands of notions in my brain did runne,
Off’ring their service, if I were not sped :
I often blotted what I had begunne ;
This was not quick enough, and that was dead.
Nothing could seem too rich to clothe the sunne,
Much lesse those joyes which trample on his head.

As flames do work and winde, when they ascend,
So did I weave my self into the sense.
But while I bustled, I might heare a friend
Whisper, How wide is all this long pretence !
There is in love a sweetnesse readie penn’d :
Copie out only that, and save expense.

Landscape by Thomas James Merton

1

A Personage is seen
Leaning upon a cushion
Printed with cornflowers.

A Child appears
Holding up a pencil.

“This is a picture
(Says the Child to the Personage)
Of the vortex.”

“Draw it your own way,”
Says the Personage.

(Music is heard
Pure in the island windows,
Sea-music on the Child’s
Interminable shore, his coral home.)

Behind a blue mountain
Covered with chickenfoot trees,
The molten sun appears,
A heavy, painted flower.

A Personage is seen
Leaning upon the mountain
With the sun in one hand
And a pencil in the other.

“This is a picture
(Says the Personage to the Child)
Of the beginning of the world.”

“Or of its end!” cries the Child
Hiding himself in the cushions.

2

A Woman appears
Leaning upon the Child’s shoulder.
He looks up again.

“This is my Mother
(Says the Child to the Personage)
Older than the moon.”

(Grecian horses are heard
Returning from the foam
Of the pure island’s windows,
And the Child’s horizons.)

“My Mother is a world
(Says the Child to the Personage)
Printed with gillyflowers.”

“Paint her your own way”
(Says the Personage to the Child).
And, lifting up his pencil,
He crosses out the sun.

The Pagan Poem by George Orwell

So here are you, and here am I,
Where we may thank our gods to be;
Above the earth, beneath the sky,
Naked souls alive and free.
The autumn wind goes rustling by
And stirs the stubble at our feet;
Out of the west it whispering blows,
Stops to caress and onward goes,
Bringing its earthy odours sweet.
See with what pride the the setting sun
Kinglike in gold and purple dies,
And like a robe of rainbow spun
Tinges the earth with shades divine.
That mystic light is in your eyes
And ever in your heart will shine.

On Being Human by C.S. Lewis

Angelic minds, they say, by simple intelligence
Behold the Forms of nature. They discern
Unerringly the Archtypes, all the verities
Which mortals lack or indirectly learn.
Transparent in primordial truth, unvarying,
Pure Earthness and right Stonehood from their clear,
High eminence are seen; unveiled, the seminal
Huge Principles appear.

The Tree-ness of the tree they know-the meaning of
Arboreal life, how from earth’s salty lap
The solar beam uplifts it; all the holiness
Enacted by leaves’ fall and rising sap;

But never an angel knows the knife-edged severance
Of sun from shadow where the trees begin,
The blessed cool at every pore caressing us
-An angel has no skin.

They see the Form of Air; but mortals breathing it
Drink the whole summer down into the breast.
The lavish pinks, the field new-mown, the ravishing
Sea-smells, the wood-fire smoke that whispers Rest.
The tremor on the rippled pool of memory
That from each smell in widening circles goes,
The pleasure and the pang –can angels measure it?
An angel has no nose.

The nourishing of life, and how it flourishes
On death, and why, they utterly know; but not
The hill-born, earthy spring, the dark cold bilberries.
The ripe peach from the southern wall still hot
Full-bellied tankards foamy-topped, the delicate
Half-lyric lamb, a new loaf’s billowy curves,
Nor porridge, nor the tingling taste of oranges.
—An angel has no nerves.

Far richer they! I know the senses’ witchery
Guards us like air, from heavens too big to see;
Imminent death to man that barb’d sublimity
And dazzling edge of beauty unsheathed would be.
Yet here, within this tiny, charmed interior,
This parlour of the brain, their Maker shares
With living men some secrets in a privacy
Forever ours, not theirs.

A contemplation upon flowers by Henry King

Brave flowers–that I could gallant it like you,
And be as little vain!
You come abroad, and make a harmless show,
And to your beds of earth again.
You are not proud: you know your birth:
For your embroider’d garments are from earth.

You do obey your months and times, but I
Would have it ever Spring:
My fate would know no Winter, never die,
Nor think of such a thing.
O that I could my bed of earth but view
And smile, and look as cheerfully as you!

O teach me to see Death and not to fear,
But rather to take truce!
How often have I seen you at a bier,
And there look fresh and spruce!
You fragrant flowers! then teach me, that my breath
Like yours may sweeten and perfume my death.