A light exists in spring – Emily Dickinson

A light exists in spring
Not present on the year
At any other period.
When March is scarcely here

A color stands abroad
On solitary hills
That science cannot overtake,
But human naturefeels.

It waits upon the lawn;
It shows the furthest tree
Upon the furthest slope we know;
It almost speaks to me.

Then, as horizons step,
Or noons report away,
Without the formula of sound,
It passes, and we stay:

A quality of loss
Affecting our content,
As trade had suddenly encroached
Upon a sacrament.

“A light exists in spring”

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

 

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).

A Broken Appointment – Thomas Hardy

You did not come
And marching Time drew on and wore me numb—
Yet less for loss of your dear presence there
Than that I thus found lacking in your make
That high compassion which can overbear
Reluctance for pure lovingkindness’ sake
Grieved I when as the hope-hour stroked its sum
You did not come.

You love not me
And love alone can lend you loyalty;
–I know and knew it. But unto the store
Of human deeds divine in all but name
Was it not worth a little hour or more
To add yet this: Once you a woman came
To soothe a time-torn man; even though it be
You love not me?

“A Broken Appointment”

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

 

Indeed, Indeed I Cannot Tell – Henry David Thoreau

Indeed indeed, I cannot tell,
Though I ponder on it well,
Which were easier to state,
All my love or all my hate.
Surely, surely, thou wilt trust me
When I say thou dost disgust me.
O, I hate thee with a hate
That would fain annihilate;
Yet sometimes against my will,
My dear friend, I love thee still.
It were treason to our love,
And a sin to God above,
One iota to abate
Of a pure impartial hate.

“Indeed, Indeed I Cannot Tell”

—written by Henry David Thoreau, narrated by Jordan Harling.

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

 

Jabberwocky – Lewis Carroll

’Twas brillig and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves
And the mome raths outgrabe.

“Beware the Jabberwock my son!
The jaws that bite the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird and shun
The frumious Bandersnatch!”

He took his vorpal sword in hand;
Long time the manxome foe he sought—
So rested he by the Tumtum tree
And stood awhile in thought.

And as in uffish thought he stood
The Jabberwock with eyes of flame
Came whiffling through the tulgey wood
And burbled as it came!

One two! One two! And through and through
The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!
He left it dead and with its head
He went galumphing back.

“And hast thou slain the Jabberwock?
Come to my arms my beamish boy!
O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!”
He chortled in his joy.

’Twas brillig and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves
And the mome raths outgrabe.

“Jabberwocky”

—written by Lewis Carrol, narrated by Jordan Harling.

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

 

The Tide Rises the Tide Falls – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

The tide rises the tide falls
The twilight darkens the curlew calls;
Along the sea-sands damp and brown
The traveller hastens toward the town
And the tide rises the tide falls.

Darkness settles on roofs and walls
But the sea the sea in the darkness calls;
The little waves with their soft white hands
Efface the footprints in the sands
And the tide rises the tide falls.

The morning breaks; the steeds in their stalls
Stamp and neigh as the hostler calls;
The day returns but nevermore
Returns the traveller to the shore
And the tide rises the tide falls.

—written by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, narrated by Jordan Harling.

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

 

Little Birds – Lewis Carroll

Little Birds are dining
Warily and well
Hid in mossy cell:
Hid I say by waiters
Gorgeous in their gaiters –
I’ve a Tale to tell.

Little Birds are feeding
Justices with jam
Rich in frizzled ham:
Rich I say in oysters
Haunting shady cloisters –
That is what I am.

Little Birds are teaching
Tigresses to smile
Innocent of guile:
Smile I say not smirkle –
Mouth a semicircle
That’s the proper style!

Little Birds are sleeping
All among the pins
Where the loser wins:
Where I say he sneezes
When and how he pleases –
So the Tale begins.

Little Birds are writing
Interesting books
To be read by cooks:
Read I say not roasted –
Letterpress when toasted
Loses its good looks.

Little Birds are playing
Bagpipes on the shore
Where the tourists snore:
“Thanks!” they cry. “‘Tis thrilling!
Take oh take this shilling!
Let us have no more!”

Little Birds are bathing
Crocodiles in cream
Like a happy dream:
Like but not so lasting –
Crocodiles when fasting
Are not all they seem!

Little Birds are choking
Baronets with bun
Taught to fire a gun:
Taught I say to splinter
Salmon in the winter –
Merely for the fun.

Little Birds are hiding
Crimes in carpet-bags
Blessed by happy stags:
Blessed I say though beaten –
Since our friends are eaten
When the memory flags.

Little Birds are tasting
Gratitude and gold
Pale with sudden cold:
Pale I say and wrinkled –
When the bells have tinkled
And the Tale is told

“Little Birds”

—written by Lewis Carroll, narrated by Jordan Harling.

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

 

Hélas – Oscar Wilde

To drift with every passion till my soul
Is a stringed lute on which all winds can play
Is it for this that I have given away
Mine ancient wisdom and austere control?
Methinks my life is a twice-written scroll
Scrawled over on some boyish holiday
With idle songs for pipe and virelay
Which do but mar the secret of the whole.
Surely there was a time I might have trod
The sunlit heights and from life’s dissonance
Struck one clear chord to reach the ears of God:
Is that time dead? Lo with a little rod
I did but touch the honey of romance—
And must I lose a soul’s inheritance?

“Hélas”

—written by Oscar Wilde, narrated by Jordan Harling.

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

 

Up-hill – Christina Rossetti

Does the road wind up-hill all the way?
Yes to the very end.
Will the day’s journey take the whole long day?
From morn to night my friend.

But is there for the night a resting-place?
A roof for when the slow dark hours begin.
May not the darkness hide it from my face?
You cannot miss that inn.

Shall I meet other wayfarers at night?
Those who have gone before.
Then must I knock or call when just in sight?
They will not keep you standing at that door.

Shall I find comfort travel-sore and weak?
Of labour you shall find the sum.
Will there be beds for me and all who seek?
Yea beds for all who come.

“Up-hill”

—written by Christina Rossetti, narrated by Jordan Harling.

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

 

The Revenge: A Ballad of the Fleet – Lord Alfred Tennyson

I

At Flores in the Azores Sir Richard Grenville lay
And a pinnace like a flutter’d bird came flying from far away;
“Spanish ships of war at sea! we have sighted fifty-three!”
Then sware Lord Thomas Howard: “’Fore God I am no coward;
But I cannot meet them here for my ships are out of gear
And the half my men are sick. I must fly but follow quick.
We are six ships of the line; can we fight with fifty-three?”

II

Then spake Sir Richard Grenville: “I know you are no coward;
You fly them for a moment to fight with them again.
But I’ve ninety men and more that are lying sick ashore.
I should count myself the coward if I left them my Lord Howard
To these Inquisition dogs and the devildoms of Spain.”

III

So Lord Howard past away with five ships of war that day
Till he melted like a cloud in the silent summer heaven;
But Sir Richard bore in hand all his sick men from the land
Very carefully and slow
Men of Bideford in Devon
And we laid them on the ballast down below:
For we brought them all aboard
And they blest him in their pain that they were not left to Spain
To the thumb-screw and the stake for the glory of the Lord.

IV

He had only a hundred seamen to work the ship and to fight
And he sailed away from Flores till the Spaniard came in sight
With his huge sea-castles heaving upon the weather bow.
“Shall we fight or shall we fly?
Good Sir Richard tell us now
For to fight is but to die!
There’ll be little of us left by the time this sun be set.”
And Sir Richard said again: “We be all good Englishmen.
Let us bang these dogs of Seville the children of the devil
For I never turn’d my back upon Don or devil yet.”

V

Sir Richard spoke and he laugh’d and we roar’d a hurrah and so
The little Revenge ran on sheer into the heart of the foe
With her hundred fighters on deck and her ninety sick below;
For half of their fleet to the right and half to the left were seen
And the little Revenge ran on thro’ the long sea-lane between.

VI

Thousands of their soldiers look’d down from their decks and laugh’d
Thousands of their seamen made mock at the mad little craft
Running on and on till delay’d
By their mountain-like San Philip that of fifteen hundred tons
And up-shadowing high above us with her yawning tiers of guns
Took the breath from our sails and we stay’d.

VII

And while now the great San Philip hung above us like a cloud
Whence the thunderbolt will fall
Long and loud
Four galleons drew away
From the Spanish fleet that day.
And two upon the larboard and two upon the starboard lay
And the battle-thunder broke from them all.

VIII

But anon the great San Philip she bethought herself and went
Having that within her womb that had left her ill content;
And the rest they came aboard us and they fought us hand to hand
For a dozen times they came with their pikes and musqueteers
And a dozen times we shook ’em off as a dog that shakes his ears
When he leaps from the water to the land.

IX

And the sun went down and the stars came out far over the summer sea
But never a moment ceased the fight of the one and the fifty-three.
Ship after ship the whole night long their high-built galleons came
Ship after ship the whole night long with her battle-thunder and flame;
Ship after ship the whole night long drew back with her dead and her shame.
For some were sunk and many were shatter’d and so could fight us no more—
God of battles was ever a battle like this in the world before?

X

For he said “Fight on! fight on!”
Tho’ his vessel was all but a wreck;
And it chanced that when half of the short summer night was gone
With a grisly wound to be drest he had left the deck
But a bullet struck him that was dressing it suddenly dead
And himself he was wounded again in the side and the head
And he said “Fight on! fight on!”

XI

And the night went down and the sun smiled out far over the summer sea
And the Spanish fleet with broken sides lay round us all in a ring;
But they dared not touch us again for they fear’d that we still could sting
So they watch’d what the end would be.
And we had not fought them in vain
But in perilous plight were we
Seeing forty of our poor hundred were slain
And half of the rest of us maim’d for life
In the crash of the cannonades and the desperate strife;
And the sick men down in the hold were most of them stark and cold
And the pikes were all broken or bent and the powder was all of it spent;
And the masts and the rigging were lying over the side;
But Sir Richard cried in his English pride:
“We have fought such a fight for a day and a night
As may never be fought again!
We have won great glory my men!
And a day less or more
At sea or ashore
We die—does it matter when?
Sink me the ship Master Gunner—sink her split her in twain!
Fall into the hands of God not into the hands of Spain!”

XII

And the gunner said “Ay ay” but the seamen made reply:
“We have children we have wives
And the Lord hath spared our lives.
We will make the Spaniard promise if we yield to let us go;
We shall live to fight again and to strike another blow.”
And the lion there lay dying and they yielded to the foe.

XIII

And the stately Spanish men to their flagship bore him then
Where they laid him by the mast old Sir Richard caught at last
And they praised him to his face with their courtly foreign grace;
But he rose upon their decks and he cried: 100
“I have fought for Queen and Faith like a valiant man and true;
I have only done my duty as a man is bound to do.
With a joyful spirit I Sir Richard Grenville die!”
And he fell upon their decks and he died.

XIV

And they stared at the dead that had been so valiant and true
And had holden the power and glory of Spain so cheap
That he dared her with one little ship and his English few;
Was he devil or man? He was devil for aught they knew
But they sank his body with honor down into the deep.
And they mann’d the Revenge with a swarthier alien crew
And away she sail’d with her loss and long’d for her own;
When a wind from the lands they had ruin’d awoke from sleep
And the water began to heave and the weather to moan
And or ever that evening ended a great gale blew
And a wave like the wave that is raised by an earthquake grew
Till it smote on their hulls and their sails and their masts and their flags
And the whole sea plunged and fell on the shot-shatter’d navy of Spain
And the little Revenge herself went down by the island crags
To be lost evermore in the main.

“The Revenge: A Ballad of the Fleet”

—written by Lord Alfred Tennyson, narrated by Jordan Harling.

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