The nights were long and cold and bittersweet,
And he made a song for the hell of it.
She stood by the window, a heavenly light
Who created havoc for the hell of it.
He used to fondle every skirt in sight,
Then he fell in love—that’s the hell of it.
Now there’s a courtyard with an abject knight
Yodeling his head off for the hell of it.
O poor me, my Lady, my hopeless plight!
She married a prince for the hell of it.
Honorable, unsatisfied, illicit—
Why bring it up? Just for the hell of it.
The fever spread from poet to poet
Who burned in the high-minded hell of it.
But the Untouchable had him by the throat,
And he stopped singing for the hell of it.
Love is a tower, a trance, a medieval pit.
When I lost you, I knew the hell of it.
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He who binds to himself a joy
Does the winged life destroy
He who kisses the joy as it flies
Lives in eternity's sunrise
This poem is in the public domain.
We walked on the bridge over the Chicago River
for what turned out to be the last time,
and I ate cotton candy, that sugary air,
that sweet blue light spun out of nothingness.
It was just a moment, really, nothing more,
but I remember marveling at the sturdy cables
of the bridge that held us up
and threading my fingers through the long
and slender fingers of my grandfather,
an old man from the Old World
who long ago disappeared into the nether regions.
And I remember that eight-year-old boy
who had tasted the sweetness of air,
which still clings to my mouth
and disappears when I breathe.
From The Living Fire: New and Selected Poems (Alfred A. Knopf, 2010) by Edward Hirsch. Copyright @2010 by Edward Hirsch. Used with permission of the author.
What was is . . . since 1930; the boys in my old gang are senior partners. They start up bald like baby birds to embrace retirement. At the altar of surrender, I met you in the hour of credulity. How your misfortune came out clearly to us at twenty. At the gingerbread casino, how innocent the nights we made it on our Vesuvio martinis with no vermouth but vodka to sweeten the dry gin— the lash across my face that night we adored . . . soon every night and all, when your sweet, amorous repetition changed. Fertility is not to the forward, or beauty to the precipitous— things gone wrong clothe summer with gold leaf. Sometimes I catch my mind circling for you with glazed eye— my lost love hunting your lost face. Summer to summer, the poplars sere in the glare— it's a town for the young, they break themselves against the surf. No dog knows my smell.
From Day by Day by Robert Lowell, published by Farrar, Straus & Giroux, Inc. Copyright © 1975, 1976, 1977 by Robert Lowell. Used by permission. All rights reserved.