Ode to Stephen Dowling Bots, Dec’d – Mark Twain

And did young Stephen sicken,
And did young Stephen die?
And did the sad hearts thicken,
And did the mourners cry?

No; such was not the fate of
Young Stephen Dowling Bots;
Though sad hearts round him thickened,
‘Twas not from sickness’ shots.

No whooping-cough did rack his frame,
Nor measles drear, with spots;
Not these impaired the sacred name
Of Stephen Dowling Bots.

Despised love struck not with woe
That head of curly knots,
Nor stomach troubles laid him low,
Young Stephen Dowling Bots.

O no. Then list with tearful eye,
Whilst I his fate do tell.
His soul did from this cold world fly,
By falling down a well.

They got him out and emptied him;
Alas it was too late;
His spirit was gone for to sport aloft
In the realms of the good and great.

“Ode to Stephen Dowling Bots, Dec’d”

—written by Mark Twain, narrated by Jordan Harling.
Full poem text, public domain (also available in subtitles).

To Autumn – John Keats

Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run;
To bend with apples the moss’d cottage-trees
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
To swell the gourd and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more
And still more later flowers for the bees
Until they think warm days will never cease
For summer has o’er-brimm’d their clammy cells.

Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?
Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find
Thee sitting careless on a granary floor
Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind;
Or on a half-reap’d furrow sound asleep
Drows’d with the fume of poppies while thy hook
Spares the next swath and all its twined flowers:
And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep
Steady thy laden head across a brook;
Or by a cyder-press with patient look
Thou watchest the last oozings hours by hours.

Where are the songs of spring? Ay Where are they?
Think not of them thou hast thy music too—
While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day
And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue;
Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn
Among the river sallows borne aloft
Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;
And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn;
Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft
The red-breast whistles from a garden-croft;
And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.

“To Autumn”

—written by John Keats, narrated by Jordan Harling.
Full poem text, public domain (also available in subtitles).

 

Hymn to Love – Lascelles Abercrombie

 

We are thine, O Love, being in thee and made of thee,
As thou, Love, were the deep thought
And we the speech of the thought; yea, spoken are we,
Thy fires of thought out-spoken:

But burn’d not through us thy imagining
Like fierce mood in a song caught,
We were as clamour’d words a fool may fling,
Loose words, of meaning broken.

For what more like the brainless speech of a fool,–
The lives travelling dark fears,
And as a boy throws pebbles in a pool
Thrown down abysmal places?

Hazardous are the stars, yet is our birth
And our journeying time theirs;
As words of air, life makes of starry earth
Sweet soul-delighted faces;

As voices are we in the worldly wind;
The great wind of the world’s fate
Is turned, as air to a shapen sound, to mind
And marvellous desires.

But not in the world as voices storm-shatter’d,
Not borne down by the wind’s weight;
The rushing time rings with our splendid word
Like darkness filled with fires.

For Love doth use us for a sound of song,
And Love’s meaning our life wields,
Making our souls like syllables to throng
His tunes of exultation.

Down the blind speed of a fatal world we fly,
As rain blown along earth’s fields;
Yet are we god-desiring liturgy,
Sung joys of adoration;

Yea, made of chance and all a labouring strife,
We go charged with a strong flame;
For as a language Love hath seized on life
His burning heart to story.

Yea, Love, we are thine, the liturgy of thee.
Thy thought’s golden and glad name,
The mortal conscience of immortal glee,
Love’s zeal in Love’s own glory.

“Hymn to Love”

—written by Lascelles Abercrombie, narrated by Jordan Harling.

Full poem text, public domain (also available in subtitles).

 

Song at Sunset – Walt Whitman

Splendor of ended day, floating and filling me!
Hour prophetic–hour resuming the past!
Inflating my throat–you, divine average!
You, Earth and Life, till the last ray gleams, I sing.

Open mouth of my Soul, uttering gladness,
Eyes of my Soul, seeing perfection,
Natural life of me, faithfully praising things;
Corroborating forever the triumph of things.

Illustrious every one!
Illustrious what we name space–sphere of unnumber’d spirits;
Illustrious the mystery of motion, in all beings, even the tiniest
insect;
Illustrious the attribute of speech–the senses–the body;
Illustrious the passing light! Illustrious the pale reflection on the
new moon in the western sky!
Illustrious whatever I see, or hear, or touch, to the last.

Good in all,
In the satisfaction and aplomb of animals,
In the annual return of the seasons,
In the hilarity of youth,
In the strength and flush of manhood,
In the grandeur and exquisiteness of old age,
In the superb vistas of Death.

Wonderful to depart;
Wonderful to be here!
The heart, to jet the all-alike and innocent blood!
To breathe the air, how delicious!
To speak! to walk! to seize something by the hand!
To prepare for sleep, for bed–to look on my rose-color’d flesh;
To be conscious of my body, so satisfied, so large;
To be this incredible God I am;
To have gone forth among other Gods–these men and women I love.

Wonderful how I celebrate you and myself!
How my thoughts play subtly at the spectacles around!
How the clouds pass silently overhead!
How the earth darts on and on! and how the sun, moon, stars, dart on
and on!
How the water sports and sings! (Surely it is alive!)
How the trees rise and stand up–with strong trunks–with branches
and leaves!
(Surely there is something more in each of the tree–some living
Soul.)

O amazement of things! even the least particle!
O spirituality of things!
O strain musical, flowing through ages and continents–now reaching
me and America!
I take your strong chords–I intersperse them, and cheerfully pass
them forward.

I too carol the sun, usher’d, or at noon, or, as now, setting,
I too throb to the brain and beauty of the earth, and of all the
growths of the earth,
I too have felt the resistless call of myself.

As I sail’d down the Mississippi,
As I wander’d over the prairies,
As I have lived–As I have look’d through my windows, my eyes,
As I went forth in the morning–As I beheld the light breaking in the
east;
As I bathed on the beach of the Eastern Sea, and again on the beach
of the Western Sea;
As I roam’d the streets of inland Chicago–whatever streets I have
roam’d;
Or cities, or silent woods, or peace, or even amid the sights of war;
Wherever I have been, I have charged myself with contentment and
triumph.

I sing the Equalities, modern or old,
I sing the endless finales of things;
I say Nature continues–Glory continues;
I praise with electric voice;
For I do not see one imperfection in the universe;
And I do not see one cause or result lamentable at last in the
universe.

O setting sun! though the time has come,
I still warble under you, if none else does, unmitigated
adoration.

“Song at Sunset”

—written by Walt Whitman, narrated by Jordan Harling.

Full poem text, public domain (also available in subtitles).