Some—the ones with fish names—grow so north
they last a month, six weeks at most.
Some others, named for the fields they look like,
last longer, smaller.

And these, in particular, whether trout or corn lily,
onion or bellwort, just cut
this morning and standing open in tapwater in the kitchen,
will close with the sun.

It is June, wildflowers on the table.
They are fresh an hour ago, like sliced lemons,
with the whole day ahead of them.
They could be common mayflower lilies of the valley,

day lilies, or the clustering Canada, large, gold,
long-stemmed as pasture roses, belled out over the vase--
or maybe Solomon's seal, the petals
ranged in small toy pairs

or starry, tipped at the head like weeds.
They could be anonymous as weeds.
They are, in fact, the several names of the same thing,
lilies of the field, butter-and-eggs,

toadflax almost, the way the whites and yellows juxtapose,
and have "the look of flowers that are looked at,"
rooted as they are in water, glass, and air.
I remember the summer I picked everything,

flower and wildflower, singled them out in jars
with a name attached. And when they had dried as stubborn
as paper I put them on pages and named them again.
They were all lilies, even the hyacinth,

even the great pale flower in the hand of the dead.
I picked it, kept it in the book for years
before I knew who she was,
her face lily-white, kissed and dry and cold.

From Summer Celestial by Stanley Plumly. Copyright © 1983 by Stanley Plumly. Reprinted by permission of The Ecco Press.

This much the gods vouchsafe today:
    That we two lie in the clover,
Watching the heavens dip and sway,
    With galleons sailing over.

This much is granted for an hour:
    That we are young and tender,
That I am bee and you are flower,
    Honey-mouthed and swaying slender.

This sweet of sweets is ours now:
    To wander through the land,
Plucking an apple from its bough
    To toss from hand to hand.

No thing is certain, joy nor sorrow,
    Except the hour we know it;
Oh, wear my heart today; tomorrow
    Who knows where the winds will blow it?

This poem is in the public domain. 

Without your showers, I breed no flowers,
    Each field a barren waste appears;
If you don't weep, my blossoms sleep,
    They take such pleasures in your tears.

As your decay made room for May,
    So I must part with all that’s mine:
My balmy breeze, my blooming trees
    To torrid suns their sweets resign!

O’er April dead, my shades I spread:
    To her I owe my dress so gay—
Of daughters three, it falls on me
    To close our triumphs on one day:

Thus, to repose, all Nature goes;
    Month after month must find its doom:
Time on the wing, May ends the Spring,
    And Summer dances on her tomb!

First published in the Freeman's Journal where it was signed Philadelphia, April 16, 1787.

Oh! for the welcome breath of country air, 
   With Summer skies and flowers, 
To shout and feel once more the halcyon 
   Of gayer boyhood hours.
I think the sight of fields and shady lanes
   Would ease my heart of pains. 

To cool once more my thirst, where bubbled up
    The waters of a spring,
Where I have seen the golden daffodils
    And lillies flourishing,
My fevered heart would more than half forget
    Its sighs, and vain regret. 

Far, far away, from early scenes am I;
   And, too, my youth has fled;
For me a stranger's land, a stranger's sky,
   That arches overhead.
For scenes and joys that now have passed me by,
   I can but give a sigh. 

This poem is in the public domain. 

The silence is broken: into the nature 
  My soul sails out, 
Carrying the song of life on his brow,
   To meet the flowers and birds.

When my heart returns in the solitude, 
   She is very sad,
Looking back on the dead passions
  Lying on Love’s ruin. 

I am like a leaf
   Hanging over hope and despair, 
Which trembles and joins 
  The world’s imagination and ghost. 

This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on December 28, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets.

We two are left:
I with small grace reveal
distaste and bitterness;
you with small patience
take my hands;
though effortless,
you scald their weight
as a bowl, lined with embers,
wherein droop
great petals of white rose,
forced by the heat
too soon to break.

We two are left:
as a blank wall, the world,
earth and the men who talk,
saying their space of life
is good and gracious,
with eyes blank
as that blank surface
their ignorance mistakes
for final shelter
and a resting-place.

We two remain:
yet by what miracle,
searching within the tangles of my brain,
I ask again,
have we two met within
this maze of dædal paths
in-wound mid grievous stone,
where once I stood alone?

This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on April 19, 2020 by the Academy of American Poets.

Blow through me wind
As you blow through apple blossoms...
Scatter me in shining petals over the passers-by...
Joyously I reunite... sway and gather to myself...
Sedately I walk by the dancing feet of children—
Not knowing I too dance over the cobbled spring.
O, but they laugh back at me,
(Eyes like daisies smiling wide open),
And we both look askance at the snowed-in people
Thinking me one of them.

This poem is in the public domain. Originally appeared in Sun-Up and Other Poems (B. W. Huebsch, 1920).

In May, when sea-winds pierced our solitudes,
I found the fresh Rhodora in the woods,
Spreading its leafless blooms in a damp nook,
To please the desert and the sluggish brook.
The purple petals fallen in the pool
Made the black water with their beauty gay;
Here might the red-bird come his plumes to cool,
And court the flower that cheapens his array.
Rhodora! if the sages ask thee why
This charm is wasted on the earth and sky,
Tell them, dear, that, if eyes were made for seeing,
Then beauty is its own excuse for Being;
Why thou wert there, O rival of the rose!
I never thought to ask; I never knew;
But in my simple ignorance suppose
The self-same power that brought me there, brought you.

This poem is in the public domain.

Most things are colorful things—the sky, earth, and sea.
                 Black men are most men; but the white are free!
White things are rare things; so rare, so rare
They stole from out a silvered world—somewhere.
Finding earth-plains fair plains, save greenly grassed,
They strewed white feathers of cowardice, as they passed;
                 The golden stars with lances fine
                 The hills all red and darkened pine,
They blanched with their wand of power;
And turned the blood in a ruby rose
To a poor white poppy-flower.

They pyred a race of black, black men, 
And burned them to ashes white; then
Laughing, a young one claimed a skull.
For the skull of a black is white, not dull, 
                 But a glistening awful thing;
                 Made it seems, for this ghoul to swing
In the face of God with all his might,
And swear by the hell that siréd him:
                 “Man-maker, make white!”

This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on September 29, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets. 

Who said November’s face was grim? 
    Who said her voice was harsh and sad?
I heard her sing in wood paths dim,
   I met her on the shore, so glad,
So smiling, I could kiss her feet!
There never was a month so sweet.

October’s splendid robes, that hid 
   The beauty of the white-limbed trees, 
Have dropped in tatters; yet amid 
   Those perfect forms the gazer sees
A proud wood-monarch here and there
Garments of wine-dipped crimson wear. 

In precious flakes the autumnal gold
    Is clinging to the forest’s fringe: 
Yon bare twig to the sun will hold 
   Each separate leaf, to show the tinge 
Of glorious rose-light reddening through 
Its jewels, beautiful as few. 

Where short-lived wild-flowers bloomed and died
   The slanting sunbeams fall across 
Vine-broideries, woven from side to side 
   Above mosaics of tinted moss.
So does the Eternal Artist’s skill
Hide beauty under beauty still. 

And, if no note of bee or bird
   Through the rapt stillness of the woods
Or the sea’s murmurous trance be heard,
    A Presence in these solitudes 
Upon the spirit seems to press
The dew of God’s dear silences.

And if, out of some inner heaven, 
    With soft relenting comes a day
Whereto the heart of June is given, —
   All subtle scents and spicery
Through forest crypts and arches steal, 
With power unnumbered hurts to heal. 

Through yonder rended veil of green, 
   That used to shut the sky from me, 
New glimpses of vast blue are seen; 
    I never guessed that so much sea
Bordered my little plot of ground,
And held me clasped so close around. 
This is the month of sunrise skies 
      Intense with molten mist and flame; 
Out of the purple deeps arrive 
      Colors no painter yet could name:
Gold-lilies and the cardinal-flower 
Were pale against this gorgeous hour. 

Still lovelier when athwart the east
      The level beam of sunset falls:
The tints of wild-flowers long deceased 
       Glow then upon the horizon walls; 
Shades of the rose and violet
Close to their dear world lingering yet. 

What idleness, to moan and fret 
       For any season fair, gone by! 
Life’s secret is not guessed at yet;
       Veil under veil its wonders lie. 
Through grief and loss made glorious 
The soul of past joy lives in us. 

More welcome than voluptous gales 
       This keen, crisp air, as conscience clear: 
November breathes no flattering tales;— 
       The plain truth-teller of the year, 
Who wins her heart, and he alone, 
Knows she has sweetness all her own.

This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on November 24, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets.

Sorrow, quit me for a while!
    Wintry days are over;
Hope again, with April smile,
    Violets sows and clover.

Pleasure follows in her path,
    Love itself flies after,
And the brook a music hath
    Sweet as childhood’s laughter.

Not a bird upon the bough
    Can repress its rapture,
Not a bud that blossoms now
    But doth beauty capture.

Sorrow, thou art Winter’s mate,
    Spring cannot regret thee;
Yet, ah, yet—my friend of late—
    I shall not forget thee!

This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on April 28, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets.

Joy is come to the little
Pink to the peach and pink to the apple,
          White to the pear.
Stars are come to the dogwood,
          Astral, pale;
Mists are pink on the red-bud,
          Veil after veil.
Flutes for the feathery locusts,
          Soft as spray;
Tongues of the lovers for chestnuts, poplars,
          Babbling May.
Yellow plumes for the willows’
          Wind-blown hair;
Oak trees and sycamores only
          Comfortless bare.
Sore from steel and the watching,
          Somber and old,—
Wooing robes for the beeches, larches,
          Splashed with gold;
Breath o’ love to the lilac,
          Warm with noon.—
Great hearts cold when the little
          Beat mad so soon.
What is their faith to bear it
          Till it come,
Waiting with rain-cloud and swallow,
          Frozen, dumb?

This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on April 27, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets.

I will wade out
                    	   till my thighs are steeped in burn-
ing flowers
I will take the sun in my mouth
and leap into the ripe air
                                            	               with closed eyes
to dash against darkness
                                	  in the sleeping curves of my
Shall enter fingers of smooth mastery
with chasteness of sea-girls
                                	         Will I complete the mystery
of my flesh
I will rise
        	After a thousand years
             And set my teeth in the silver of the moon

This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on October 14, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.

 Welcome children of the Spring,
   In your garbs of green and gold,
Lifting up your sun-crowned heads
   On the verdant plain and wold.

As a bright and joyous troop
   From the breast of earth ye came
Fair and lovely are your cheeks,
   With sun-kisses all aflame.

In the dusty streets and lanes,
   Where the lowly children play,
There as gentle friends ye smile,
   Making brighter life's highway

Dewdrops and the morning sun,
   Weave your garments fair and bright,
And we welcome you to-day
   As the children of the light.

Children of the earth and sun.
   We are slow to understand
All the richness of the gifts
   Flowing from our Father's hand.

This poem is in the public domain. 

I first tasted under Apollo's lips,
love and love sweetness,
I, Evadne;
my hair is made of crisp violets
or hyacinth which the wind combs back
across some rock shelf;
I, Evadne,
was mate of the god of light.

His hair was crisp to my mouth,
as the flower of the crocus,
across my cheek,
cool as the silver-cress
on Erotos bank;
between my chin and throat,
his mouth slipped over and over.

Still between my arm and shoulder,
I feel the brush of his hair,
and my hands keep the gold they took,
as they wandered over and over,
that great arm-full of yellow flowers.

This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on January 16, 2021, by the Academy of American Poets.

Amber husk
fluted with gold,
fruit on the sand
marked with a rich grain,

spilled near the shrub-pines
to bleach on the boulders:

your stalk has caught root
among wet pebbles
and drift flung by the sea
and grated shells
and split conch-shells.

Beautiful, wide-spread,
fire upon leaf,
what meadow yields
so fragrant a leaf
as your bright leaf?

This poem is in the public domain. 

Rose, harsh rose,
marred and with stint of petals,
meagre flower, thin,
sparse of leaf,

more precious
than a wet rose
single on a stem—
you are caught in the drift.

Stunted, with small leaf,
you are flung on the sand,
you are lifted
in the crisp sand
that drives in the wind.

Can the spice-rose
drip such acrid fragrance
hardened in a leaf?

This poem is in the public domain.

O dandelion, rich and haughty,
King of village flowers!
Each day is coronation time,
You have no humble hours.
I like to see you bring a troop
To beat the blue-grass spears,
To scorn the lawn-mower that would be
Like fate's triumphant shears.
Your yellow heads are cut away,
It seems your reign is o'er.
By noon you raise a sea of stars
More golden than before.

This poem is in the public domain.

The blossoms of lilac,	
  And shattered,	
The atoms of purple.	
Green dip the leaves,	      
  Darker the bark,	
Longer the shadows.	
Sheer lines of poplar	
Shimmer with masses of silver	
And down in a garden old with years	       
And broken walls of ruin and story,	
Roses rise with red rain-memories.	
  In the open world	
The sun comes and finds your face,	       
  Remembering all.

This poem is in the public domain.

Last night he said the dead were dead
  And scoffed my faith to scorn;
I found him at a tulip bed
  When I passed by at morn.

"O ho!" said I, "the frost is near
  And mist is on the hills,
And yet I find you planting here
  Tulips and daffodils."

"'Tis time to plant them now," he said,
  "If they shall bloom in Spring";
"But every bulb," said I, "seems dead,
  And such an ugly thing."

"The pulse of life I cannot feel,
  The skin is dried and brown.
Now look!" a bulb beneath my heel
  I crushed and trampled down.

In anger then he said to me:
  "You've killed a lovely thing;
A scarlet blossom that would be
  Some morning in the Spring."

"Last night a greater sin was thine,"
  To him I slowly said;
"You trampled on the dead of mine
  And told me they are dead."

This poem is in the public domain.

Some things are very dear to me—
Such things as flowers bathed by rain
Or patterns traced upon the sea
Or crocuses where snow has lain ...
the iridescence of a gem,
The moon’s cool opalescent light,
Azaleas and the scent of them,
And honeysuckles in the night.
And many sounds are also dear—
Like winds that sing among the trees
Or crickets calling from the weir
Or Negroes humming melodies.
But dearer far than all surmise
Are sudden tear-drops in your eyes.

This poem is in the public domain.

Come slowly—Eden
Lips unused to Thee—
Bashful—sip thy Jessamines
As the fainting Bee—

Reaching late his flower,
Round her chamber hums—
Counts his nectars—
Enters—and is lost in Balms.

c. 1860

See with what simplicity
    This nymph begins her golden days!
      In the green grass she loves to lie,
  And there with her fair aspect tames
  The wilder flowers, and gives them names;
    But only with the roses plays,
                       And them does tell
What colour best becomes them, and what smell.
      Who can foretell for what high cause
    This darling of the gods was born?
      Yet this is she whose chaster laws
  The wanton Love shall one day fear,
  And, under her command severe,
    See his bow broke and ensigns torn.
                      Happy who can
Appease this virtuous enemy of man!
      O then let me in time compound
    And parley with those conquering eyes,
      Ere they have tried their force to wound; 
  Ere with their glancing wheels they drive
  In triumph over hearts that strive,
    And them that yield but more despise:
                       Let me be laid, 
Where I may see the glories from some shade.
      Meantime, whilst every verdant thing
    Itself does at thy beauty charm,
      Reform the errors of the Spring; 
  Make that the tulips may have share
  Of sweetness, seeing they are fair, 
    And roses of their thorns disarm; 
                       But most procure
That violets may a longer age endure.
      But O, young beauty of the woods,
    Whom Nature courts with fruits and flowers,
      Gather the flowers, but spare the buds;
  Lest Flora, angry at thy crime 
  To kill her infants in their prime,
    Do quickly make th' example yours;
                      And ere we see,
Nip in the blossom all our hopes and thee.

This poem is in the public domain.

Ah, what can ail thee, wretched wight,
  Alone and palely loitering;
The sedge is withered from the lake,
  And no birds sing.

Ah, what can ail thee, wretched wight,
  So haggard and so woe-begone?
The squirrel's granary is full,
  And the harvest's done.

I see a lilly on thy brow,
  With anguish moist and fever dew;
And on thy cheek a fading rose
  Fast withereth too.

I met a lady in the meads
  Full beautiful, a faery's child;
Her hair was long, her foot was light,
  And her eyes were wild.

I set her on my pacing steed,
  And nothing else saw all day long;
For sideways would she lean, and sing
  A faery's song.

I made a garland for her head,
  And bracelets too, and fragrant zone;
She looked at me as she did love,
  And made sweet moan.

She found me roots of relish sweet,
  And honey wild, and manna dew;
And sure in language strange she said,
  I love thee true.

She took me to her elfin grot,
  And there she gazed and sighed deep,
And there I shut her wild sad eyes—
  So kissed to sleep.

And there we slumbered on the moss,
  And there I dreamed, ah woe betide,
The latest dream I ever dreamed
  On the cold hill side.

I saw pale kings, and princes too,
  Pale warriors, death-pale were they all;
Who cried—"La belle Dame sans merci
  Hath thee in thrall!"

I saw their starved lips in the gloam
  With horrid warning gaped wide,
And I awoke, and found me here
  On the cold hill side.

And this is why I sojourn here
  Alone and palely loitering,
Though the sedge is withered from the lake,
  And no birds sing.

This poem is in the public domain.

I had no thought of violets of late,
The wild, shy kind that spring beneath your feet
In wistful April days, when lovers mate
And wander through the fields in raptures sweet.
The thought of violets meant florists’ shops,
And bows and pins, and perfumed papers fine;
And garish lights, and mincing little fops
And cabarets and songs, and deadening wine. 
So far from sweet real things my thoughts had strayed, 
I had forgot wide fields, and clear brown streams
The perfect loveliness that God has made,—
Wild violets shy and Heaven-mounting dreams.
And now—unwittingly, you’ve made me dream
Of violets, and my soul’s forgotten gleam.

This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on September 6, 2015, by the Academy of American Poets.

I should have thought
in a dream you would have brought
some lovely, perilous thing,
orchids piled in a great sheath,
as who would say (in a dream),
"I send you this,
who left the blue veins
of your throat unkissed."

Why was it that your hands
(that never took mine),
your hands that I could see
drift over the orchid-heads
so carefully,
your hands, so fragile, sure to lift
so gently, the fragile flower-stuff--
ah, ah, how was it

You never sent (in a dream)
the very form, the very scent,
not heavy, not sensuous,
but perilous--perilous--
of orchids, piled in a great sheath,
and folded underneath on a bright scroll,
some word:

"Flower sent to flower;
for white hands, the lesser white,
less lovely of flower-leaf,"


"Lover to lover, no kiss,
no touch, but forever and ever this."

Copyright © 1982 by the Estate of Hilda Doolittle. Used with permission of New Directions Publishing Corporation. All rights reserved. No part of this poem may be reproduced in any form without the written consent of the publisher.

To Ezra Pound: with Much Friendship and Admiration and Some Differences of Opinion

The Poet took his walking-stick
Of fine and polished ebony.
Set in the close-grained wood
Were quaint devices;
Patterns in ambers,
And in the clouded green of jades.
The top was smooth, yellow ivory,
And a tassel of tarnished gold
Hung by a faded cord from a hole
Pierced in the hard wood,
Circled with silver.
For years the Poet had wrought upon this cane.
His wealth had gone to enrich it,
His experiences to pattern it,
His labour to fashion and burnish it.
To him it was perfect,
A work of art and a weapon,
A delight and a defence.
The Poet took his walking-stick
And walked abroad.

Peace be with you, Brother.

The Poet came to a meadow.
Sifted through the grass were daisies,
Open-mouthed, wondering, they gazed at the sun.
The Poet struck them with his cane.
The little heads flew off, and they lay
Dying, open-mouthed and wondering,
On the hard ground.
"They are useless. They are not roses," said the Poet.

Peace be with you, Brother. Go your ways.

The Poet came to a stream.
Purple and blue flags waded in the water;
In among them hopped the speckled frogs;
The wind slid through them, rustling.
The Poet lifted his cane,
And the iris heads fell into the water.
They floated away, torn and drowning.
"Wretched flowers," said the Poet,
"They are not roses."

Peace be with you, Brother. It is your affair.
The Poet came to a garden.
Dahlias ripened against a wall,
Gillyflowers stood up bravely for all their short stature,
And a trumpet-vine covered an arbour
With the red and gold of its blossoms.
Red and gold like the brass notes of trumpets.
The Poet knocked off the stiff heads of the dahlias,
And his cane lopped the gillyflowers at the ground.
Then he severed the trumpet-blossoms from their stems.
Red and gold they lay scattered,
Red and gold, as on a battle field;
Red and gold, prone and dying.
"They were not roses," said the Poet.

Peace be with you, Brother.
But behind you is destruction, and waste places.
The Poet came home at evening,
And in the candle-light
He wiped and polished his cane.
The orange candle flame leaped in the yellow ambers,
And made the jades undulate like green pools.
It played along the bright ebony,
And glowed in the top of cream-coloured ivory.
But these things were dead,
Only the candle-light made them seem to move.
"It is a pity there were no roses," said the Poet.

Peace be with you, Brother. You have chosen your part.

This poem is in the public domain.

Love at the lips was touch
As sweet as I could bear;
And once that seemed too much;
I lived on air

That crossed me from sweet things,
The flow of—was it musk
From hidden grapevine springs
Downhill at dusk?

I had the swirl and ache
From sprays of honeysuckle
That when they're gathered shake
Dew on the knuckle.

I craved strong sweets, but those
Seemed strong when I was young;
The petal of the rose
It was that stung.

Now no joy but lacks salt,
That is not dashed with pain
And weariness and fault;
I crave the stain

Of tears, the aftermark
Of almost too much love,
The sweet of bitter bark
And burning clove.

When stiff and sore and scarred
I take away my hand
From leaning on it hard
In grass and sand,

The hurt is not enough:
I long for weight and strength
To feel the earth as rough
To all my length. 

From The Poetry of Robert Frost by Robert Frost, edited by Edward Connery Lathem. Copyright 1916, 1923, 1928, 1930, 1934, 1939, 1947, 1949, © 1969 by Holt Rinehart and Winston, Inc. Copyright 1936, 1942, 1944, 1945, 1947, 1948, 1951, 1953, 1954, © 1956, 1958, 1959, 1961, 1962 by Robert Frost. Copyright © 1962, 1967, 1970 by Leslie Frost Ballantine.

In a churchyard old and still,
Where the breeze-touched branches thrill
             To and fro,
Giant oak trees blend their shade
O'er a sunken grave-mound, made
             Long ago.

No stone, crumbling at its head,
Bears the mossed name of the dead
             Graven deep;
But a myriad blossoms' grace
Clothes with trembling light the place
             Of his sleep.

Was a young man in his strength
Laid beneath this low mound's length,
             Heeding naught?
Did a maiden's parents wail
As they saw her, pulseless, pale,
             Hither brought?

Was it else one full of days,
Who had traveled darksome ways,
             And was tired,
Who looked forth unto the end,
And saw Death come as a friend
             Long desired?

Who it was that rests below
Not earth's wisest now may know,
             Or can tell;
But these blossoms witness bear
They who laid the sleeper there
             Loved him well.

In the dust that closed him o'er
Planted they the garden store
             Deemed most sweet,
Till the fragrant gleam, outspread,
Swept in beauty from his head
             To his feet.

Still, in early springtime's glow,
Guelder-roses cast their snow
             O'er his rest;
Still sweet-williams breathe perfume
Where the peonies' crimson bloom
             Drapes his breast.

Passing stranger, pity not
Him who lies here, all forgot,
             'Neath this earth;
Some one loved him—more can fall
To no mortal. Love is all
             Life is worth.

This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on March 10, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets.


Something startles me where I thought I was safest,
I withdraw from the still woods I loved,
I will not go now on the pastures to walk,
I will not strip the clothes from my body to meet my lover the sea,
I will not touch my flesh to the earth as to other flesh to renew me.

O how can it be that the ground itself does not sicken?
How can you be alive you growths of spring?
How can you furnish health you blood of herbs, roots, orchards, grain?
Are they not continually putting distemper'd corpses within you?
Is not every continent work'd over and over with sour dead?

Where have you disposed of their carcasses?
Those drunkards and gluttons of so many generations?
Where have you drawn off all the foul liquid and meat?
I do not see any of it upon you to-day, or perhaps I am deceiv'd,
I will run a furrow with my plough, I will press my spade through the sod and turn it up underneath,
I am sure I shall expose some of the foul meat.


Behold this compost! behold it well!
Perhaps every mite has once form'd part of a sick person—yet behold!
The grass of spring covers the prairies,
The bean bursts noiselessly through the mould in the garden,
The delicate spear of the onion pierces upward,
The apple-buds cluster together on the apple-branches,
The resurrection of the wheat appears with pale visage out of its graves,
The tinge awakes over the willow-tree and the mulberry-tree,
The he-birds carol mornings and evenings while the she-birds sit on their nests,
The young of poultry break through the hatch'd eggs,
The new-born of animals appear, the calf is dropt from the cow, the colt from the mare,
Out of its little hill faithfully rise the potato's dark green leaves,
Out of its hill rises the yellow maize-stalk, the lilacs bloom in the dooryards,
The summer growth is innocent and disdainful above all those strata of sour dead.

What chemistry!
That the winds are really not infectious,
That this is no cheat, this transparent green-wash of the sea which is so amorous after me,
That it is safe to allow it to lick my naked body all over with its tongues,
That it will not endanger me with the fevers that have deposited themselves in it,
That all is clean forever and forever,
That the cool drink from the well tastes so good,
That blackberries are so flavorous and juicy,
That the fruits of the apple-orchard and the orange-orchard, that melons, grapes, peaches, plums, will
   none of them poison me,
That when I recline on the grass I do not catch any disease,
Though probably every spear of grass rises out of what was once a catching disease.

Now I am terrified at the Earth, it is that calm and patient,
It grows such sweet things out of such corruptions,
It turns harmless and stainless on its axis, with such endless successions of diseas'd corpses,
It distills such exquisite winds out of such infused fetor,
It renews with such unwitting looks its prodigal, annual, sumptuous crops,
It gives such divine materials to men, and accepts such leavings from them at last.

This poem appeared in Poem-A-Day on April 13, 2013. Browse the Poem-A-Day archive. This poem is in the public domain.


Something startles me where I thought I was safest,
I withdraw from the still woods I loved,
I will not go now on the pastures to walk,
I will not strip the clothes from my body to meet my lover the sea,
I will not touch my flesh to the earth as to other flesh to renew me.

O how can it be that the ground itself does not sicken?
How can you be alive you growths of spring?
How can you furnish health you blood of herbs, roots, orchards, grain?
Are they not continually putting distemper'd corpses within you?
Is not every continent work'd over and over with sour dead?

Where have you disposed of their carcasses?
Those drunkards and gluttons of so many generations?
Where have you drawn off all the foul liquid and meat?
I do not see any of it upon you to-day, or perhaps I am deceiv'd,
I will run a furrow with my plough, I will press my spade through the sod and turn it up underneath,
I am sure I shall expose some of the foul meat.


Behold this compost! behold it well!
Perhaps every mite has once form'd part of a sick person—yet behold!
The grass of spring covers the prairies,
The bean bursts noiselessly through the mould in the garden,
The delicate spear of the onion pierces upward,
The apple-buds cluster together on the apple-branches,
The resurrection of the wheat appears with pale visage out of its graves,
The tinge awakes over the willow-tree and the mulberry-tree,
The he-birds carol mornings and evenings while the she-birds sit on their nests,
The young of poultry break through the hatch'd eggs,
The new-born of animals appear, the calf is dropt from the cow, the colt from the mare,
Out of its little hill faithfully rise the potato's dark green leaves,
Out of its hill rises the yellow maize-stalk, the lilacs bloom in the dooryards,
The summer growth is innocent and disdainful above all those strata of sour dead.

What chemistry!
That the winds are really not infectious,
That this is no cheat, this transparent green-wash of the sea which is so amorous after me,
That it is safe to allow it to lick my naked body all over with its tongues,
That it will not endanger me with the fevers that have deposited themselves in it,
That all is clean forever and forever,
That the cool drink from the well tastes so good,
That blackberries are so flavorous and juicy,
That the fruits of the apple-orchard and the orange-orchard, that melons, grapes, peaches, plums, will
   none of them poison me,
That when I recline on the grass I do not catch any disease,
Though probably every spear of grass rises out of what was once a catching disease.

Now I am terrified at the Earth, it is that calm and patient,
It grows such sweet things out of such corruptions,
It turns harmless and stainless on its axis, with such endless successions of diseas'd corpses,
It distills such exquisite winds out of such infused fetor,
It renews with such unwitting looks its prodigal, annual, sumptuous crops,
It gives such divine materials to men, and accepts such leavings from them at last.

This poem appeared in Poem-A-Day on April 13, 2013. Browse the Poem-A-Day archive. This poem is in the public domain.

Luxurious man, to bring his vice in use,
Did after him the world seduce,
And from the fields the flowers and plants allure,
Where nature was most plain and pure.
He first enclosed within the garden's square
A dead and standing pool of air,
And a more luscious earth for them did knead,
Which stupefied them while it fed.
The pink grew then as double as his mind:
The nutriment did change the kind.
With strange perfumes he did the roses taint,
And flowers themselves were taught to paint.
The tulip, white, did for complexion seek,
And learned to interline its cheek;
Its onion root they then so high did hold,
That one was for a meadow sold.
Another world was searched, through oceans new,
To find the marvel of Peru.
And yet these rarities might be allowed,
To man, that sovereign thing, and proud,
Had he not dealt between the bark and tree,
Forbidden mixtures there to see.
No plant now knew the stock from which it came;
He grafts upon the wild the tame,
That the uncertain and adulterate fruit
Might put the palate in dispute.
His green seraglio has its eunuchs too,
Lest any tyrant him outdo,
And in the cherry he does nature vex,
To procreate without a sex.
'Tis all enforced—the fountain and the grot—
While the sweet fields do lie forgot,
Where willing nature does to all dispense
A wild and fragrant innocence,
And fauns and fairies do the meadows till
More by their presence than their skill.
Their statues, polished by some ancient hand,
May to adorn the gardens stand,
But how so'er the figures do excel,
The gods themselves with us do dwell.

This poem appeared in Poem-A-Day on March 31, 2013. Browse the Poem-A-Day archive. This poem is in the public domain.

My heart a garden is, a garden walled;
And in the wide white spaces near the gates
Grow tall and showy flowers, sun-loving flowers,
Where they are seen of every passer-by;
Who straightway faring on doth bear the tale
How bright my garden is and filled with sun.

But there are shaded walks far from the gates,
So far the passer-by can never see,
Where violets grow for thoughts of those afar,
And rue for memories of vanished days,
And sweet forget-me-nots to bid me think

With tenderness,—lest I grow utter cold
And hard as women grow who never weep.
And when come times I fear that Love is dead
And Sorrow rules as King the world's white ways,
I go with friends I love among these beds.
Where friend and flower do speak alike to me,
Sometimes with silences, sometimes with words.

'Tis then I thank my God for those high walls
That shut the friends within, the world without,
That passers-by may only see the sun.
That friends I love may share the quiet shade.

This poem is in the public domain.


Satan, now in prospect of Eden, and nigh the place where he must now attempt the bold enterprise which he undertook alone against God and Man, falls into many doubts with himself, and many passions—fear, envy, and despair; but at length confirms himself in evil; journeys on to Paradise, whose outward prospect and situation is described; overleaps the bounds; sits, in the shape of a Cormorant, on the Tree of Life, as highest in the Garden, to look about him. The Garden described; Satan’s first sight of Adam and Eve; his wonder at their excellent form and happy state, but with resolution to work their fall; overhears their discourse; thence gathers that the Tree of Knowledge was forbidden them to eat of under penalty of death, and thereon intends to found his temptation by seducing them to transgress; then leaves them a while, to know further of their state by some other means. Meanwhile Uriel, descending on a sunbeam, warns Gabriel, who had in charge the gate of Paradise, that some evil Spirit had escaped the Deep, and passed at noon by his Sphere, in the shape of a good Angel, down to Paradise, discovered after by his furious gestures in the Mount. Gabriel promises to find him ere morning. Night coming on, Adam and Eve discourse of going to their rest; their bower described; their evening worship. Gabriel, drawing forth his bands of night—watch to walk the rounds of Paradise, appoints two strong Angels to Adam’s bower, lest the evil Spirit should be there doing some harm to Adam or Eve sleeping: there they find him at the ear of Eve, tempting her in a dream, and bring him, though unwilling, to Gabriel; by whom questioned, he scornfully answers; prepares resistance; but, hindered by a sign from Heaven, flies out of Paradise.

O for that warning voice, which he who saw  
The Apocalypse heard cry in Heaven aloud,  
Then when the Dragon, put to second rout,  
Came furious down to be revenged on men,  
Woe to the inhabitants on Earth! that now,           
While time was, our first parents had been warned  
The coming of their secret Foe, and scaped,  
Haply so scaped, his mortal snare! For now  
Satan, now first inflamed with rage, came down,  
The tempter, ere the accuser, of mankind,            
To wreak on innocent frail Man his loss  
Of that first battle, and his flight to Hell.  
Yet not rejoicing in his speed, though bold  
Far off and fearless, nor with cause to boast,  
Begins his dire attempt; which, nigh the birth            
Now rowling, boils in his tumultuous breast,  
And like a devilish engine back recoils  
Upon himself. Horror and doubt distract  
His troubled thoughts, and from the bottom stir  
The hell within him; for within him Hell            
He brings, and round about him, nor from Hell  
One step, no more than from Himself, can fly  
By change of place. Now conscience wakes despair  
That slumbered; wakes the bitter memory  
Of what he was, what is, and what must be            
Worse; of worse deeds worse sufferings must ensue!  
Sometimes towards Eden, which now in his view  
Lay pleasant, his grieved look he fixes sad;  
Sometimes towards Heaven and the full-blazing Sun,  
Which now sat high in his meridian tower:            
Then, much revolving, thus in sighs began:—  
  "O thou that, with surpassing glory crowned,  
Look’st from thy sole dominion like the god  
Of this new World—at whose sight all the stars  
Hide their diminished heads—to thee I call,            
But with no friendly voice, and add thy name,  
O Sun, to tell thee how I hate thy beams,  
That bring to my remembrance from what state  
I fell, how glorious once above thy sphere,  
Till pride and worse ambition threw me down,            
Warring in Heaven against Heaven’s matchless King!  
Ah, wherefore? He deserved no such return  
From me, whom he created what I was  
In that bright eminence, and with his good  
Upbraided none; nor was his service hard.            
What could be less than to afford him praise,  
The easiest recompense, and pay him thanks,  
How due? Yet all his good proved ill in me,  
And wrought but malice. Lifted up so high,  
I ’sdained subjection, and thought one step higher            
Would set me highest, and in a moment quit  
The debt immense of endless gratitude,  
So burthensome, still paying, still to owe;  
Forgetful what from him I still received;  
And understood not that a grateful mind            
By owing owes not, but still pays, at once  
Indebted and discharged—what burden then?  
Oh, had his powerful destiny ordained  
Me some inferior Angel, I had stood  
Then happy; no unbounded hope had raised            
Ambition. Yet why not? Some other Power  
As great might have aspired, and me, though mean,  
Drawn to his part. But other Powers as great  
Fell not, but stand unshaken, from within  
Or from without to all temptations armed!            
Hadst thou the same free will and power to stand?  
Thou hadst. Whom has thou then, or what, to accuse,  
But Heaven’s free love dealt equally to all?  
Be then his love accursed, since, love or hate,  
To me alike it deals eternal woe.            
Nay, cursed be thou; since against his thy will  
Chose freely what it now so justly rues.  
Me miserable! which way shall I fly  
Infinite wrauth and infinite despair?  
Which way I fly is Hell; myself am Hell;            
And, in the lowest deep, a lower deep  
Still threatening to devour me opens wide,  
To which the Hell I suffer seems a Heaven.  
O, then, at last relent! Is there no place  
Left for repentence, none for pardon left?            
None left but by submission; and that word  
Disdain forbids me, and my dread of shame  
Among the Spirits beneath, whom I seduced  
With other promises and other vaunts  
Than to submit, boasting I could subdue            
The Omnipotent. Aye me! they little know  
How dearly I abide that boast so vain,  
Under what torments inwardly I groan.  
While they adore me on the throne of Hell,  
With diadem and sceptre high advanced,            
The lower still I fall, only supreme  
In misery: such joy ambition finds!  
But say I could repent, and could obtain,  
By act of grace, my former state; how soon  
Would highth recal high thoughts, how soon unsay            
What feigned submission swore! Ease would recant  
Vows made in pain, as violent and void  
(For never can true reconcilement grow  
Where wounds of deadly hate have pierced so deep)  
Which would but lead me to a worse relapse             
And heavier fall: so should I purchase dear  
Short intermission, bought with double smart.  
This knows my Punisher; therefore as far  
From granting he, as I from begging, peace.  
All hope excluded thus, behold, instead             
Of us, outcast, exiled, his new delight,  
Mankind, created, and for him this World!  
So farewell hope, and, with hope, farewell fear,  
Farewell remorse! All good to me is lost;  
Evil, be thou my Good: by thee at least             
Divided empire with Heaven’s King I hold,  
By thee, and more than half perhaps will reign;  
As Man ere long, and this new World, shall know."  
  Thus while he spake, each passion dimmed his face,  
Thrice changed with pale—ire, envy, and despair;             
Which marred his borrowed visage, and betrayed  
Him counterfeit, if any eye beheld:  
For Heavenly minds from such distempers foul  
Are ever clear. Whereof he soon aware  
Each perturbation smoothed with outward calm,             
Artificer of fraud; and was the first  
That practised falsehood under saintly shew,  
Deep malice to conceal, couched with revenge:  
Yet not enough had practised to deceive  
Uriel, once warned; whose eye pursued him down             
The way he went, and on the Assyrian mount  
Saw him disfigured, more than could befall  
Spirit of happy sort: his gestures fierce  
He marked and mad demeanour, then alone,  
As he supposed, all unobserved, unseen.             
  So on he fares, and to the border comes  
Of Eden, where delicious Paradise,  
Now nearer, crowns with her enclosure green,  
As with a rural mound, the champain head  
Of a steep wilderness whose hairy sides             
With thicket overgrown, grotesque and wild.  
Access denied; and overhead up-grew  
Insuperable highth of loftiest shade,  
Cedar, and pine, and fir, and branching palm,  
A sylvan scene, and, as the ranks ascend             
Shade above shade, a woody theatre  
Of stateliest view. Yet higher than their tops  
The verdurous wall of Paradise up-sprung;  
Which to our general Sire gave prospect large  
Into his nether empire neighbouring round.             
And higher than that wall a circling row  
Of goodliest trees, loaden with fairest fruit,  
Blossoms and fruits at once of golden hue,  
Appeared, with gay enamelled colours mixed;  
On which the sun more glad impressed his beams             
Than in fair evening cloud, or humid bow,  
When God hath showered the earth; so lovely seemed  
That lantskip. And of pure now purer air  
Meets his approach, and to the heart inspires  
Vernal delight and joy, able to drive             
All sadness but despair. Now gentle gales,  
Fanning their odoriferous wings, dispense  
Native perfumes, and whisper whence they stole  
Those balmy spoils. As when to them who sail  
Beyond the Cape of Hope, and now are past             
Mozambic, off at sea north-east winds blow  
Sabean odours from the spicy shore  
Of Araby the Blest, with such delay  
Well pleased they slack their course, and many a league  
Cheered with the grateful smell old Ocean smiles;             
So entertained those odorous sweets the Fiend  
Who came their bane, though with them better pleased  
Than Asmodeus with the fishy fume  
That drove him, though enamoured, from the spouse  
Of Tobit’s son, and with a vengeance sent             
From Media post to Ægypt, there fast bound.  
  Now to the ascent of that steep savage hill  
Satan had journeyed on, pensive and slow;  
But further way found none; so thick entwined,  
As one continued brake, the undergrowth             
Of shrubs and tangling bushes had perplexed  
All path of man or beast that passed that way.  
One gate there only was, and that looked east  
On the other side. Which when the Arch-Felon saw,  
Due entrance he disdained, and, in contempt,             
At one slight bound high overleaped all bound  
Of hill or highest wall, and sheer within  
Lights on his feet. As when a prowling wolf,  
Whom hunger drives to seek new haunt for prey,  
Watching where shepherds pen their flocks at eve,             
In hurdled cotes amid the field secure,  
Leaps o’er the fence with ease into the fold;  
Or as a thief, bent to unhoard the cash  
Of some rich burgher, whose substantial doors,  
Cross-barred and bolted fast, fear no assault,             
In at the window climbs, or o’er the tiles;  
So climb this first grand Thief into God’s fold:  
So since into his Church lewd hirelings climb.  
Thence up he flew, and on the Tree of Life,  
The middle tree and highest there that grew,             
Sat like a Cormorant; yet not true life  
Thereby regained, but sat devising death  
To them who lived; nor on the virtue thought  
Of that life-giving plant, but only used  
For prospect what, well used, had been the pledge             
Of immortality. So little knows  
Any, but God alone, to value right  
The good before him, but perverts best things  
To worst abuse, or to their meanest use.  
Beneath him, with new wonder, now he views,             
To all delight of human sense exposed,  
In narrow room Nature’s whole wealth; yea, more—  
A Heaven on Earth: for blissful Paradise  
Of God the garden was, by him in the east  
Of Eden planted. Eden stretched her line             
From Auran eastward to the royal towers  
Of great Seleucia, built by Grecian kings,  
Or where the sons of Eden long before  
Dwelt in Telassar. In this pleasant soil  
His far more pleasant garden God ordained.             
Out of the fertile ground he caused to grow  
All trees of noblest kind for sight, smell, taste;  
And all amid them stood the Tree of Life,  
High eminent, blooming ambrosial fruit  
Of vegetable gold; and next to life,             
Our death, the Tree of Knowledge, grew fast by—  
Knowledge of good, bought dear by knowing ill.  
Southward through Eden went a river large,  
Nor changed his course, but through the shaggy hill  
Passed underneath ingulfed; for God had thrown             
That mountain, as his garden-mould, high raised  
Upon the rapid current, which, through veins  
Of porous earth with kindly thirst updrawn,  
Rose a fresh fountain, and with many a rill  
Watered the garden; thence united fell             
Down the steep glade, and met the nether flood,  
Which from his darksome passage now appears,  
And now, divided into four main streams,  
Runs diverse, wandering many a famous realm  
And country whereof here needs no account;             
But rather to tell how, if Art could tell  
How, from that sapphire fount the crisped brooks,  
Rowling on orient pearl and sands of gold,  
With mazy error under pendant shades  
Ran nectar, visiting each plant, and fed             
Flowers worthy of Paradise, which not nice Art  
In beds and curious knots, but Nature boon  
Poured forth profuse on hill, and dale, and plain,  
Both where the morning sun first warmly smote  
The open field, and where the unpierced shade             
Imbrowned the noontide bowers. Thus was this place,  
A happy rural seat of various view:  
Groves whose rich trees wept odorous gums and balm,  
Others whose fruit, burnished with golden rind,  
Hung amiable—Hesperian fables true,             
If true, here only—and of delicious taste.  
Betwixt them lawns, or level downs, and flocks  
Grazing the tender herb, were interposed,  
Or palmy hillock; or the flowery lap  
Of some irriguous valley spread her store,             
Flowers of all hue, and without thorn the rose.  
Another side, umbrageous grots and caves  
Of cool recess, o’er which the mantling vine  
Lays forth her purple grape, and gently creeps  
Luxuriant; meanwhile murmuring waters fall             
Down the slope hills dispersed, or in a lake,  
That to the fringèd bank with myrtle crowned  
Her crystal mirror holds, unite their streams.  
The birds their quire apply; airs, vernal airs,  
Breathing the smell of field and grove, attune             
The trembling leaves, while universal Pan,  
Knit with the Graces and the Hours in dance,  
Led on the eternal Spring. Not that fair field  
Of Enna, where Proserpin gathering flowers,  
Herself a fairer flower, by gloomy Dis             
Was gathered—which cost Ceres all that pain  
To seek her through the world—nor that sweet grove  
Of Daphne, by Orontes and the inspired  
Castalian spring, might with this Paradise  
Of Eden strive; nor that Nyseian isle,             
Girt with the river Triton, where old Cham,  
Whom Gentiles Ammon call and Libyan Jove,  
Hid Amalthea, and her florid son,  
Young Bacchus, from his stepdame Rhea’s eye;  
Nor, where Abassin kings their issue guard,             
Mount Amara (though this by some supposed  
True Paradise) under the Ethiop line  
By Nilus’ head, enclosed with shining rock,  
A whole day’s journey high, but wide remote  
From this Assyrian garden, where the Fiend             
Saw undelighted all delight, all kind  
Of living creatures, new to sight and strange.  
Two of far nobler shape, erect and tall,  
God—like erect, with native honour clad  
In naked majesty, seemed lords of all,             
And worthy seemed; for in their looks divine  
The image of their glorious Maker shon,  
Truth, wisdom, sanctitude severe and pure—  
Severe, but in true filial freedom placed,  
Whence true authority in men: though both             
Not equal, as their sex not equal seemed;  
For contemplation he and valour formed,  
For softness she and sweet attractive grace;  
He for God only, she for God in him.  
His fair large front and eye sublime declared             
Absolute rule; and Hyacinthin locks  
Round from his parted forelock manly hung  
Clustering, but not beneath his shoulders broad:  
She, as a veil down to the slender waist,  
Her unadornèd golden tresses wore             
Dishevelled, but in wanton ringlets waved  
As the vine curls her tendrils—which implied  
Subjection, but required with gentle sway,  
And by her yielded, by him best received—  
Yielded, with coy submission, modest pride,             
And sweet, reluctant, amorous delay.  
Nor those mysterious parts were then concealed:  
Then was not guilty shame. Dishonest shame  
Of Nature’s works, honour dishonourable,  
Sin-bred, how have ye troubled all mankind             
With shews instead, mere shews of seeming pure  
And banished from man’s life his happiest life,  
Simplicity and spotless innocence!  
So passed they naked on, nor shunned the sight  
Of God or Angel; for they thought no ill:             
So hand in hand they passed, the loveliest pair  
That ever since in love’s embraces met—  
Adam the goodliest man of men since born  
His sons; the fairest of her daughters Eve.  
Under a tuft of shade that on a green             
Stood whispering soft, by a fresh fountain—side.  
They sat them down; and, after no more toil  
Of their sweet gardening labour than sufficed  
To recommend cool Zephyr, and make ease  
More easy, wholesome thirst and appetite             
More grateful, to their supper-fruits they fell—  
Nectarine fruits, which the complaint boughs  
Yielded them, sidelong as they sat recline  
On the soft downy bank damasked with flowers.  
The savoury pulp they chew, and in the rind,             
Still as they thirsted, scoop the brimming stream  
Nor gentle purpose, nor endearing smiles  
Wanted, nor youthful dalliance, as beseems  
Fair couple linked in happy nuptial league,  
Alone as they. About them frisking played             
All beasts of the earth, since wild, and of all chase  
In wood or wilderness, forest or den.  
Sporting the lion ramped, and in his paw  
Dandled the kid; bears, tigers, ounces, pards,  
Gambolled before them; the unwieldy elephant,             
To make them mirth, used all his might, and wreathed  
His lithe proboscis; close the serpent sly,  
Insinuating, wove with Gordian twine  
His breaded train, and of his fatal guile  
Gave proof unheeded. Others on the grass             
Couched, and, now filled with pasture, gazing sat,  
Or bedward ruminating; for the sun,  
Declined, was hastening now with prone career  
To the Ocean Isles, and in the ascending scale  
Of Heaven the stars that usher evening rose:             
When Satan, still in gaze as first he stood,  
Scarce thus at length failed speech recovered sad:—  
  "O Hell! what do mine eyes with grief behold?  
Into our room of bliss thus high advanced  
Creatures of other mould—Earth-born perhaps,             
Not Spirits, yet to Heavenly Spirits bright  
Little inferior—whom my thoughts pursue  
With wonder, and could love; so lively shines  
In them divine resemblance, and such grace  
The hand that formed them on their shape hath poured.             
Ah! gentle pair, ye little think how nigh  
Your change approaches, when all these delights  
Will vanish, and deliver ye to woe—  
More woe, the more your taste is now of joy:  
Happy, but for so happy ill secured             
Long to continue, and this high seat, your Heaven,  
Ill fenced for Heaven to keep out such a foe  
As now is entered; yet no purposed foe  
To you, whom I could pity thus forlorn,  
Though I unpitied. League with you I seek,             
And mutual amity, so strait, so close,  
That I with you must dwell, or you with me,  
Henceforth. My dwelling, haply, may not please,  
Like this fair Paradise, your sense; yet such  
Accept your Marker’s work; he gave it me,             
Which I as freely give. Hell shall unfold,  
To entertain you two, her widest gates,  
And send forth all her kings; there will be room,  
Not like these narrow limits, to receive  
Your numerous offspring; if no better place,             
Thank him who puts me, loath, to this revenge  
On you, who wrong me not, for him who wronged.  
And, should I at your harmless innocence  
Melt, as I do, yet public reason just—  
Honour and empire with revenge enlarged             
By conquering this new World—compels me now  
To do what else, though damned, I should abhor."  
  So spake the Fiend, and with necessity,  
The tyrant’s plea, excused his devilish deeds.  
Then from his lofty stand on that high tree             
Down he alights among the sportful herd  
Of those four-footed kinds, himself now one,  
Now other, as their shape served best his end  
Nearer to view his prey, and, unespied,  
To mark what of their state he more might learn             
By word or action marked. About them round  
A lion now he stalks with fiery glare;  
Then as a tiger, who by chance hath spied  
In some pourlieu two gentle fawns at play,  
Straight crouches close; then rising, changes oft             
His couchant watch, as one who chose his ground,  
Whence rushing he might surest seize them both  
Griped in each paw: when Adam, first of men.  
To first of women, Eve, thus moving speech,  
Turned him all ear to hear new utterance flow:—             
  "Sole partner and sole part of all these joys,  
Dearer thyself than all, needs must the Power  
That made us, and for us this ample World,  
Be infinitely good, and of his good  
As liberal and free as infinite;             
That raised us from the dust, and placed us here  
In all this happiness, who at this hand  
Have nothing merited, nor can perform  
Aught whereof he hath need; he who requires  
From us no other service than to keep             
This one, this easy charge—of all the trees  
In Paradise that bear delicious fruit  
So various, not to taste that only Tree  
Of Knowledge, planted by the Tree of Life;  
So near grows Death to Life, whate’er Death is—             
Some dreadful thing no doubt; for well thou know’st  
God hath pronounced it Death to taste that Tree:  
The only sign of our obedience left  
Among so many signs of power and rule  
Conferred upon us, and dominion given             
Over all other creatures that possess  
Earth, Air, and Sea. Then let us not think hard  
One easy prohibition, who enjoy  
Free leave so large to all things else, and choice  
Unlimited of manifold delights;             
But let us ever praise him, and extol  
His bounty, following our delightful task,  
To prune these growing plants, and tend these flowers;  
Which, were it toilsome, yet with thee were sweet."  
  To whom thus Eve replied:—"O thou for whom             
And from whom I was formed flesh of thy flesh,  
And without whom am to no end, my guide  
And head! what thou hast said is just and right.  
For we to him, indeed, all praises owe,  
And daily thanks—I chiefly, who enjoy             
So far the happier lot, enjoying thee  
Pre-eminent by so much odds, while thou  
Like consort to thyself canst nowhere find.  
That day I oft remember, when from sleep  
I first awaked, and found myself reposed,             
Under a shade, on flowers, much wondering where  
And what I was, whence thither brought, and how.  
Not distant far from thence a murmuring sound  
Of waters issued from a cave, and spread  
Into a liquid plain; then stood unmoved,             
Pure as the expanse of Heaven. I thither went  
With unexperienced thought, and laid me down  
On the green bank, to look into the clear  
Smooth lake, that to me seemed another sky.  
As I bent down to look, just opposite             
A Shape within the watery gleam appeared,  
Bending to look on me. I started back,  
It started back; but pleased I soon returned  
Pleased it returned as soon with answering looks  
Of sympathy and love. There I had fixed             
Mine eyes till now, and pined with vain desire,  
Had not a voice thus warned me: ‘What thou seest,  
What there thou seest, fair creature, is thyself;  
With thee it came and goes: but follow me,  
And I will bring thee where no shadow stays             
Thy coming, and thy soft imbraces—he  
Whose image thou art; him thou shalt enjoy  
Inseparably thine; to him shalt bear  
Multitudes like thyself, and thence be called  
Mother of human race.’ What could I do,             
But follow straight, invisibly thus led?  
Till I espied thee, fair, indeed, and tall,  
Under a platan; yet methought less fair,  
Less winning soft, less amiably mild,  
That that smooth watery image. Back I turned;             
Thou, following, cried’st aloud, ‘Return, fair Eve;  
Whom fliest thou? Whom thou fliest, of him thou art,  
His flesh, his bone, to give thee being I lent  
Out of my side to thee, nearest my heart,  
Substantial life, to have thee by my side             
Henceforth an individual solace dear:  
Part of my soul I seek thee, and thee claim  
My other half.’ With that thy gentle hand  
Seized mine: I yielded, and from that time see  
How beauty is excelled by manly grace             
And wisdom, which alone is truly fair."  
  So spake our general mother, and, with eyes  
Of conjugal attraction unreproved,  
And meek surrender, half-embracing leaned  
On our first father; half her swelling breast             
Naked met his, under the flowing gold  
Of her loose tresses hid. He, in delight  
Both of her beauty and submissive charms,  
Smiled with superior love, as Jupiter  
On Juno smiles when he impregns the clouds             
That shed May flowers, and pressed her matron lip  
With kisses pure. Aside the Devil turned  
For envy; yet with jealous leer malign  
Eyed them askance, and to himself thus plained:—  
  "Sight hateful, sight tormenting! Thus these two,             
Imparadised in one another’s arms,  
The happier Eden, shall enjoy their fill  
Of bliss on bliss; while I to Hell am thrust,  
Where neither joy nor love, but fierce desire,  
Among our other torments not the least,             
Still unfulfilled, with pain of longing pines!  
Yet let me not forget what I have gained  
From their own mouths. All is not theirs, it seems;  
One fatal tree there stands, of Knowledge called,  
Forbidden them to taste. Knowledge forbidden?             
Suspicious, reasonless! Why should their Lord  
Envy them that? Can it be sin to know?  
Can it be death? And do they only stand  
By ignorance? Is that their happy state,  
The proof of their obedience and their faith?             
O fair foundation laid whereon to build  
Their ruin! Hence I will excite their minds  
With more desire to know, and to reject  
Envious commands, invented with design  
To keep them low, whom knowledge might exalt             
Equal with gods. Aspiring to be such,  
They taste and die: what likelier can ensue?  
But first with narrow search I must walk round  
This garden, and no corner leave unspied;  
A chance but chance may lead where I may meet             
Some wandering Spirit of Heaven, by fountain-side,  
Or in thick shade retired, from him to draw  
What further would be learned. Live while ye may,  
Yet happy pair; enjoy, till I return,  
Short pleasures; for long woes are to succeed!"             
  So saying, his proud step he scornful turned,  
But with sly circumspection, and began  
Through wood, through waste, o’er hill, o’er dale, his roam.  
Meanwhile in utmost longitude, where Heaven  
With Earth and Ocean meets, the setting Sun             
Slowly descended, and with right aspect  
Against the eastern gate of Paradise  
Levelled his evening rays. It was a rock  
Of alabaster, piled up to the clouds,  
Conspicuous far, winding with one ascent             
Accessible from Earth, one entrance high;  
The rest was craggy cliff, that overhung  
Still as it rose, impossible to climb.  
Betwixt these rocky pillars Gabriel sat,  
Chief of the angelic guards, awaiting night;             
About him exercised heroic games  
The unarmed youth of Heaven; but nigh at hand  
Celestial armoury, shields, helms, and spears,  
Hung high, with diamond flaming and with gold.  
Thither came Uriel, gliding through the even             
On a sunbeam, swift as a shooting star  
In autumn thwarts the night, when vapours fired  
Impress the air, and shews the mariner  
From what point of his compass to beware  
Impetuous winds, He thus began in haste:—             
  "Gabriel, to thee thy course by lot hath given  
Charge and strict watch that to this happy place  
No evil thing approach or enter in.  
This day at highth of noon came to my sphere  
A Spirit, zealous, as he seemed, to know             
More of the Almighty’s works, and chiefly Man,  
God’s latest image. I described his way  
Bent all on speed, and marked his aerie gait,  
But in the mount that lies from Eden north,  
Where he first lighted, soon discerned his looks             
Alien from Heaven, with passions foul obscured.  
Mine eye pursued him still, but under shade  
Lost sight of him. One of the banished crew,  
I fear, hath ventured from the Deep, to raise  
New troubles; him thy care must be to find."             
  To whom the wingèd Warrior thus returned:—  
"Uriel, no wonder if thy perfect sight,  
Amid the Sun’s bright circle where thou sitt’st,  
See far and wide. In at this gate none pass  
The vigilance here placed, but such as come             
Well known from Heaven; since meridian hour  
No creature thence. If Spirit of other sort,  
So minded, have o’erleaped these earthly bounds  
On purpose, hard thou know’st it to exclude  
Spiritual substance with corporeal bar.             
But, if within the circuit of these walks,  
In whatsoever shape, he lurk of whom  
Thou tell’st, by morrow dawning I shall know."  
  So promised he; and Uriel to his charge  
Returned on that bright beam, whose point now raised             
Bore him slope downward to the Sun, now fallen  
Beneath the Azores; whether the Prime Orb,  
Incredible how swift, had thither rowled  
Diurnal, or this less volúbil Earth  
By shorter flight to the east, had left him there             
Arraying with reflected purple and gold  
The clouds that on his western throne attend.  
  Now came still Evening on, and Twilight gray  
Had in her sober livery all things clad;  
Silence accompanied; for beast and bird,             
They to their grassy couch, these to their nests  
Were slunk, all but the wakeful nightingale.  
She all night longer her amorous descant sung:  
Silence was pleased. Now glowed the firmament  
With living Saphirs; Hesperus, that led             
The starry host, rode brightest, till the Moon,  
Rising in clouded majesty, at length  
Apparent queen, unveiled her peerless light,  
And o’er the dark her silver mantle threw;  
When Adam thus to Eve:—"Fair consort, the hour             
Of night, and all things now retired to rest  
Mind us of like repose; since God hath set  
Labour and rest, as day and night, to men  
Successive, and the timely dew of sleep,  
Now falling with soft slumberous weight, inclines             
Our eye-lids. Other creatures all day long  
Rove idle, unimployed, and less need rest;  
Man hath his daily work of body or mind  
Appointed, which declares his dignity,  
And the regard of Heaven on all his ways;             
While other animals unactive range,  
And of their doings God takes no account.  
To—morrow, ere fresh morning streak the east  
With first approach of light, we must be risen,  
And at our pleasant labour, to reform             
Yon flowery arbours, yonder alleys green,  
Our walk at noon, with branches overgrown,  
That mock our scant manuring, and require  
More hands than ours to lop their wanton growth.  
Those blossoms also, and those dropping gums,             
That lie bestrown, unsightly and unsmooth,  
Ask riddance, if we mean to tread with ease.  
Meanwhile, as Nature wills, Night bids us rest."  
  To whom thus Eve, with perfect beauty adorned:—  
"My author and disposer, what thou bidd’st             
Unargued I obey. So God ordains:  
God is thy law, thou mine: to know no more  
Is woman’s happiest knowledge, and her praise.  
With thee conversing, I forget all time,  
All seasons, and their change; all please alike.             
Sweet is the breath of Morn, her rising sweet,  
With charm of earliest birds; pleasant the Sun,  
When first on this delightful land he spreads  
His orient beams, on herb, tree, fruit, and flower,  
Glistering with dew; fragrant the fertil Earth             
After soft showers; and sweet the coming on  
Of grateful Evening mild; then silent Night,  
With this her solemn bird, and this fair Moon,  
And these the gems of Heaven, her starry train:  
But neither breath of Morn, when she ascends             
With charm of earliest birds; nor rising Sun  
On this delightful land; nor herb, fruit, flower,  
Glistering with dew; nor fragrance after showers;  
Nor grateful Evening mild; nor silent Night,  
With her solemn bird; nor walk by moon,             
Or glittering star-light, without thee is sweet.  
But wherefore all night long shine these? for whom  
This glorious sight, when sleep hath shut all eyes?"  
  To whom our general ancestor replied:—  
"Daughter of God and Man, accomplished Eve,             
Those have their course to finish round the Earth  
By morrow evening, and from land to land  
In order, though to nations yet unborn,  
Ministering light prepared, they set and rise;  
Lest total Darkness should by night regain             
Her old possession, and extinguish life  
In nature and all things; which these soft fires  
Not only enlighten, but with kindly heat  
Of various influence foment and warm,  
Temper or nourish, or in part shed down             
Their stellar virtue on all kinds that grow  
On Earth, made hereby apter to receive  
Perfection from the Sun’s more potent ray.  
These then, though unbeheld in deep of night,  
Shine not in vain. Nor think, though men were none,             
That Heaven would want spectators, God want praise.  
Millions of spiritual creatures walk the Earth  
Unseen, both when we wake, and when we sleep:  
All these with ceaseless praise his works behold  
Both day and night. How often, from the steep             
Of echoing hill or thicket, have we heard  
Celestial voices to the midnight air,  
Sole, or responsive each to other’s note,  
Singing their great Creator! Oft in bands  
While they keep watch, or nightly rounding walk,             
With heavenly touch of instrumental sounds  
In full harmonic number joined, their songs  
Divide the night, and lift our thoughts to Heaven."  
  Thus talking, hand in hand along they passed  
On to their blissful bower. It was a place             
Chosen by the sovran Planter, when he framed  
All things to Man’s delightful use. The roof  
Of thickest covert was inwoven shade,  
Laurel and myrtle, and what higher grew  
Of firm and fragrant leaf; on either side             
Acanthus, and each odorous bushy shrub,  
Fenced up the verdant wall; each beauteous flower,  
Iris all hues, roses, and gessamin,  
Reared high their flourished heads between, and wrought  
Mosaic; under foot the violet,             
Crocus, and hyacinth, with rich inlay  
Broidered the ground, more coloured than with stone  
Of costliest emblem. Other creature here,  
Beast, bird, insect, or worm, durst enter none;  
Such was their awe of Man. In shadier bower             
More sacred and sequestered, though but feigned,  
Pan or Sylvanus never slept, nor Nymph  
For Faunus haunted. Here, in close recess,  
With flowers, garlands, and sweet—smelling hearbs  
Espousèd Eve decked first her nuptial bed,             
And heavenly choirs the hymenæan sung,  
What day the genial Angel to our Sire  
Brought her, in naked beauty more adorned,  
More lovely, than Pandora, whom the gods  
Endowed with all their gifts; and, O! too like             
In sad event, when, to the unwiser son  
Of Japhet brought by Hermes, she ensnared  
Mankind with her fair looks, to be avenged  
On him who had stole Jove’s authentic fire.  
  Thus at their shady lodge arrived, both stood,             
Both turned, and under open sky adored  
The God that made both Sky, Air, Earth, and Heaven,  
Which they beheld, the Moon’s resplendent globe,  
And starry Pole:—"Thou also madest the Night,  
Maker Omnipotent; and thou the Day,             
Which we, in our appointed work imployed,  
Have finished, happy in our mutual help  
And mutual love, the crown of all our bliss  
Ordained by thee; and this delicious place,  
For us too large, where thy abundance wants             
Partakers, and uncropt falls to the ground.  
But thou hast promised from us two a race  
To fill the Earth, who shall with us extol  
Thy goodness infinite, both when we wake,  
And when we seek, as now, thy gift of sleep."             
  This said unanimous, and other rites  
Observing none, but adoration pure,  
Which God likes best, into their inmost bower  
Handed they went, and, eased the putting-off  
These troublesome disguises which we wear,             
Straight side by side were laid; nor turned, I ween,  
Adam from his fair spouse, nor Eve the rites  
Mysterious of connubial love refused:  
Whatever hypocrites austerely talk  
Of purity, and place, and innocence,             
Defaming as impure what God declares  
Pure, and commands to some, leaves free to all.  
Our Maker bids increase; who bids abstain  
But our destroyer, foe to God and Man?  
Hail, wedded Love, mysterious law, true source             
Of human offspring, sole propriety  
In Paradise of all things common else!  
By thee adulterous lust was driven from men  
Among the bestial herds to raunge; by thee,  
Founded in reason, loyal, just, and pure,             
Relations dear, and all the charities  
Of father, son, and brother, first were known.  
Far be it that I should write thee sin or blame,  
Or think thee unbefitting holiest place,  
Perpetual fountain of domestic sweets,             
Whose bed is undefiled and chaste pronounced,  
Present, or past, as saints and patriarchs used.  
Here Love his golden shafts imploys, here lights  
His constant lamp, and waves his purple wings,  
Reigns here and revels; not in the bought smile             
Of harlots—loveless, joyless, unindeared,  
Casual fruition; nor in court amours,  
Mixed dance, or wanton mask, or midnight bal,  
Or serenate, which the starved lover sings  
To his proud fair, best quitted with disdain.             
These, lulled by nightingales, imbracing slept,  
And on their naked limbs the flowery roof  
Showered roses, which the morn repaired. Sleep on,  
Blest pair! and, O! yet happiest, if ye seek  
No happier state, and know to know no more!             
  Now had Night measured with her shadowy cone  
Half-way up-hill this vast sublunar vault,  
And from their ivory port the Cherubim  
Forth issuing, at the accustomed hour, stood armed  
To their night-watches in warlike parade;             
When Gabriel to his next in power thus spake:—  
  "Uzziel, half these draw off, and coast the south  
With strictest watch; these other wheel the north:  
Our circuit meets full west." As flame they part,  
Half wheeling to the shield, half to the spear.             
From these, two strong and subtle Spirits he called  
That near him stood, and gave them thus in charge:—  
  "Ithuriel and Zephon, with winged speed  
Search through this Garden; leave unsearched no nook;  
But chiefly where those two fair creatures lodge,             
Now laid perhaps asleep, secure of harm.  
This evening from the Sun’s decline arrived  
Who tells of some infernal Spirit seen  
Hitherward bent (who could have thought?), escaped  
The bars of Hell, on errand bad, no doubt:             
Such, where ye find, seize fast, and hither bring."  
  So saying, on he led his radiant files,  
Dazzling the moon; these to the bower direct  
In search of whom they sought. Him there they found  
Squat like a toad, close at the ear of Eve,             
Assaying by his devilish art to reach  
The organs of her fancy, and with them forge  
Illusions as he list, phantasms and dreams;  
Or if, inspiring venom, he might taint  
The animal spirits, that from pure blood arise             
Like gentle breaths from rivers pure, thence raise,  
At least distempered, discontented thoughts,  
Vain hopes, vain aims, inordinate desires,  
Blown up with high conceits ingendering pride.  
Him thus intent Ithuriel with his spear             
Touched lightly; for no falsehood can endure  
Touch of celestial temper, but returns  
Of force to its own likeness. Up he starts,  
Discovered and surprised. As, when a spark  
Lights on a heap of nitrous powder, laid             
Fit for the tun, some magazine to store  
Against a rumoured war, the smutty grain,  
With sudden blaze diffused, inflames the air;  
So started up, in his own shape, the Fiend.  
Back stept those two fair Angels, half amazed             
So sudden to behold the griesly King;  
Yet thus, unmoved with fear, accost him soon:—  
  "Which of those rebel Spirits adjudged to Hell  
Com’st thou, escaped thy prison? and, transformed,  
Why satt’st thou like an enemy in wait,             
Here watching at the head of these that sleep?"  
  "Know ye not, then," said Satan, filled with scorn,  
"Know ye not me? Ye knew me once no mate  
For you, there sitting where ye durst not soar!  
Not to know me argues yourselves unknown,             
The lowest of your throng; or, if ye know,  
Why ask ye, and superfluous begin  
Your message, like to end as much in vain?"  
  To whom thus Zephon, answering scorn with scorn:—  
"Think not, revolted Spirit, thy shape the same,             
Or undiminished brightness, to be known  
As when thou stood’st in Heaven upright and pure.  
That glory then, when thou no more wast good,  
Departed from thee; and thou resemblest now  
Thy sin and place of doom obscure and foul.             
But come; for thou, be sure, shalt give account  
To him who sent us, whose charge is to keep  
This place inviolable, and these from harm."  
  So spake the Cherub; and his grave rebuke,  
Severe in youthful beauty, added grace             
Invincible. Abashed the Devil stood,  
And felt how awful goodness is, and saw  
Virtue in her shape how lovely—saw, and pined  
His loss; but chiefly to find here observed  
His lustre visibly impaired; yet seemed             
Undaunted. "If I must contend," said he,  
"Best with the best—the sender, not the sent;  
Or all at once: more glory will be won,  
Or less be lost." "Thy fear," said Zephon bold,  
"Will save us trial what the least can do             
Single against thee wicked, and thence weak."  
  The Fiend replied not, overcome with rage;  
But, like a proud steed reined, went haughty on,  
Chaumping his iron curb. To strive or fly  
He held it vain; awe from above had quelled             
His heart, not else dismayed. Now drew they nigh  
The western point, where those half—rounding guards  
Just met, and, closing, stood in squadron joined,  
Awaiting next command. To whom their chief,  
Gabriel, from the front thus called aloud:—             
  "O friends, I hear the tread of nimble feet  
Hasting this way, and now by glimpse discern  
Ithuriel and Zephon through the shade;  
And with them comes a third, of regal port,  
But faded splendour wan, who by his gait             
And fierce demeanour seems the Prince of Hell—  
Not likely to part hence without contest’.  
Stand firm, for in his look defiance lours."  
  He scarce had ended, when those two approached,  
And brief related whom they brought, where found,             
How busied, in what form and posture couched.  
To whom, with stern regard, thus Gabriel spake:—  
"Why hast thou, Satan, broke the bounds prescribed  
To thy transgressions, and disturbed the charge  
Of others, who approve not to transgress             
By thy example, but have power and right  
To question thy bold entrance on this place;  
Imployed, it seems to violate sleep, and those  
Whose dwelling God hath planted here in bliss?"  
  To whom thus Satan, with contemptuous brow:—             
"Gabriel, thou hadst in Heaven the esteem of wise;  
And such I held thee; but this question asked  
Puts me in doubt. Lives there who loves his pain?  
Who would not, finding way, break loose from Hell,  
Though thither doomed? Thou wouldst thyself, no doubt,             
And boldly venture to whatever place  
Farthest from pain, where thou mightst hope to change  
Torment with ease, and soonest recompense  
Dole with delight; which in this place I sought:  
To thee no reason, who know’st only good,             
But evil hast not tried. And wilt object  
His will who bound us? Let him surer bar  
His iron gates, if he intends our stay  
In that dark durance. Thus much what was asked:  
The rest is true; they found me where they say;             
But that implies not violence or harm."  
  Thus he in scorn. The warlike Angel moved,  
Disdainfully half smiling, thus replied:—  
"O loss of one in Heaven to judge of wise,  
Since Satan fell, whom folly overthrew,             
And now returns him from his prison scaped,  
Gravely in doubt whether to hold them wise  
Or not who ask what boldness brought him hither  
Unlicensed from his bounds in Hell prescribed!  
So wise he judges it to fly from pain             
However, and to scape his punishment!  
So judge thou still, presumptuous, till the wrauth,  
Which thou incurr’st by flying, meet thy flight  
Sevenfold, and scourge that wisdom back to Hell,  
Which taught thee yet no better that no pain             
Can equal anger infinite provoked.  
But wherefore thou alone? Wherefore with thee  
Came not all Hell broke loose? Is pain to them  
Less pain, less to be fled? or thou than they  
Less hardy to endure? Courageous chief,             
The first in flight from pain, hadst thou alleged  
To thy deserted host this cause of flight,  
Thou surely hadst not come sole fugitive."  
  To which the Fiend thus answered, frowning stern:—  
"Not that I less endure, or shrink from pain,             
Insulting Angel! well thou know’st I stood  
Thy fiercest, when in battle to thy aid  
The blasting volleyed thunder made all speed  
And seconded thy else not dreaded spear.  
But still thy words at random, as before,             
Argue thy inexperience what behoves,  
From hard assays and ill successes past,  
A faithful leader—not to hazard all  
Through ways of danger by himself untried.  
I, therefore, I alone, first undertook             
To wing the desolate Abyss, and spy  
This new-created World, whereof in Hell  
Fame is not silent, here in hope to find  
Better abode, and my afflicted Powers  
To settle here on Earth, or in mid Air;             
Though for possession put to try once more  
What thou and thy gay legions dare against;  
Whose easier business where to serve their Lord  
High up in Heaven, with songs to hymn his throne,  
And practiced distances to cringe, not fight."             
  To whom the Warrior-Angel soon replied:—  
"To say and straight unsay, pretending first  
Wise to fly pain, professing next to spy,  
Argues no leader, but a liar traced,  
Satan; and couldst thou ‘faithful’ add? O name,             
O sacred name of faithfulness profaned!  
Faithful to whom? to thy rebellious crew?  
Army of fiends, fit body to fit head!  
Was this your discipline and faith ingaged,  
Your military obedience, to dissolve             
Allegiance to the acknowledged Power Supreme?  
And thou, sly hypocrite, who now wouldst seem  
Patron of liberty, who more than thou  
Once fawned, and cringed, and servilely adored  
Heaven’s awful Monarch? wherefore, but in hope             
To dispossess him, and thyself to reign?  
But mark what I areed thee now: Avaunt!  
Fly thither whence thou fledd’st. If from this hour  
Within these hallowed limits thou appear,  
Back to the Infernal Pit I drag thee chained,             
And seal thee so as henceforth not to scorn  
The facile gates of Hell too slightly barred."  
  So threatened he; but Satan to no threats  
Gave heed, but waxing more in rage, replied:—  
  "Then, when I am thy captive, talk of chains,             
Proud limitary Cherub! but ere then  
Far heavier load thyself expect to feel  
From my prevailing arm, though Heaven’s King  
Ride on thy wings, and thou with thy Compeers,  
Used to the yoke, draw’st his triumphant wheels             
In progress through the road of Heaven star—paved."  
  While thus he spake, the angelic squadron bright  
Turned fiery red, sharpening in mooned horns  
Their phalanx and began to hem him round  
With ported spears, as thick as when a field             
Of Ceres ripe for harvest waving bends  
Her bearded grove of ears which way the wind  
Sways them; the careful ploughman doubting stands  
Lest on the threshing-floor his hopeful sheaves  
Prove chaff. On the other side, Satan, alarmed,             
Collecting all his might, dilated stood,  
Like Teneriff or Atlas, unremoved:  
His stature reached the sky, and on his crest  
Sat Horror plumed; nor wanted in his grasp  
What seemed both spear and shield. Now dreadful deeds             
Might have ensued; nor only Paradise,  
In this commotion, but the starry cope  
Of Heaven perhaps, or all the Elements  
At least, had gone to wrack, disturbed and torn  
With violence of this conflict, had not soon             
The Eternal, to prevent such horrid fray,  
Hung forth in Heaven his golden scales, yet seen  
Betwixt Astræa and the Scorpion sign,  
Wherein all things created first he weighed,  
The pendulous round Earth with balanced air              
In counterpoise, now ponders all events,  
Battles and realms. In these he put two weights,  
The sequel each of parting and of fight:  
The latter quick up flew, and kicked the beam;  
Which Gabriel spying thus bespake the Fiend:              
  "Satan, I know thy strength, and thou know’st mine,  
Neither our own, but given; what folly then  
To boast what arms can do! since thine no more  
Than Heaven permits, nor mine, though doubled now  
To trample thee as mire. For proof look up,              
And read thy lot in yon celestial sign,  
Where thou art weighed, and shown how light, how weak  
If thou resist." The Fiend looked up, and knew  
His mounted scale aloft: nor more; but fled  
Murmuring; and with him fled the shades of Night.

This poem is in the public domain.

How vainly men themselves amaze 
To win the palm, the oak, or bays; 
And their uncessant labors see 
Crowned from some single herb or tree, 
Whose short and narrow-vergèd shade 
Does prudently their toils upbraid; 
While all the flowers and trees do close 
To weave the garlands of repose. 

Fair Quiet, have I found thee here, 
And Innocence, thy sister dear! 
Mistaken long, I sought you then 
In busy companies of men: 
Your sacred plants, if here below, 
Only among the plants will grow; 
Society is all but rude, 
To this delicious solitude. 

No white nor red was ever seen 
So amorous as this lovely green; 
Fond lovers, cruel as their flame, 
Cut in these trees their mistress’ name. 
Little, alas, they know or heed, 
How far these beauties hers exceed! 
Fair trees! wheresoe’er your barks I wound 
No name shall but your own be found. 

When we have run our passion’s heat, 
Love hither makes his best retreat: 
The gods who mortal beauty chase, 
Still in a tree did end their race. 
Apollo hunted Daphne so, 
Only that she might laurel grow, 
And Pan did after Syrinx speed, 
Not as a nymph, but for a reed. 

What wondrous life is this I lead! 
Ripe apples drop about my head; 
The luscious clusters of the vine 
Upon my mouth do crush their wine; 
The nectarine and curious peach 
Into my hands themselves do reach; 
Stumbling on melons as I pass, 
Insnared with flowers, I fall on grass.

Meanwhile the mind, from pleasure less, 
Withdraws into its happiness: 
The mind, that ocean where each kind 
Does straight its own resemblance find; 
Yet it creates, transcending these, 
Far other worlds, and other seas; 
Annihilating all that’s made 
To a green thought in a green shade. 

Here at the fountain’s sliding foot, 
Or at some fruit-tree’s mossy root, 
Casting the body’s vest aside, 
My soul into the boughs does glide: 
There like a bird it sits and sings, 
Then whets and combs its silver wings; 
And, till prepared for longer flight, 
Waves in its plumes the various light. 

Such was that happy garden-state, 
While man there walked without a mate: 
After a place so pure and sweet, 
What other help could yet be meet! 
But ‘twas beyond a mortal’s share 
To wander solitary there: 
Two paradises ‘twere in one 
To live in Paradise alone. 

How well the skillful gard’ner drew 
Of flowers and herbs this dial new; 
Where from above the milder sun 
Does through a fragrant zodiac run; 
And, as it works, th’ industrious bee 
Computes its time as well as we. 
How could such sweet and wholesome hours 
Be reckoned but with herbs and flowers!

This poem is in the public domain.

January brings the snow,
Makes our feet and fingers glow.

February brings the rain,
Thaws the frozen lake again.

March brings breezes, loud and shrill,
To stir the dancing daffodil.

April brings the primrose sweet,
Scatters daisies at our feet.

May brings flocks of pretty lambs
Skipping by their fleecy dams.

June brings tulips, lilies, roses,
Fills the children's hands with posies.

Hot July brings cooling showers,
Apricots, and gillyflowers.

August brings the sheaves of corn,
Then the harvest home is borne.

Warm September brings the fruit;
Sportsmen then begin to shoot.

Fresh October brings the pheasant;
Then to gather nuts is pleasant.

Dull November brings the blast;
Then the leaves are whirling fast.

Chill December brings the sleet,
Blazing fire, and Christmas treat.

This poem is in the public domain.

The Wind is sewing with needles of rain.
With shining needles of rain
It stitches into the thin
Cloth of earth. In,
In, in, in.
Oh, the wind has often sewed with me.
One, two, three.

Spring must have fine things
To wear like other springs.
Of silken green the grass must be
Embroidered. One and two and three.
Then every crocus must be made
So subtly as to seem afraid
Of lifting colour from the ground;
And after crocuses the round
Heads of tulips, and all the fair
Intricate garb that Spring will wear.
The wind must sew with needles of rain,
With shining needles of rain,
Stitching into the thin
Cloth of earth, in,
In, in, in,
For all the springs of futurity.
One, two, three.

This poem is in the public domain.

The scent of hyacinths, like a pale mist, lies 

   between me and my book;	
And the South Wind, washing through the room,	
Makes the candles quiver.	
My nerves sting at a spatter of rain on the shutter,	
And I am uneasy with the thrusting of green shoots	        
Outside, in the night.	
Why are you not here to overpower me with your 

   tense and urgent love?

This poem is in the public domain.

I heard a thousand blended notes,
While in a grove I sate reclined,
In that sweet mood when pleasant thoughts
Bring sad thoughts to the mind.

To her fair works did nature link
The human soul that through me ran;
And much it grieved my heart to think
What man has made of man.

Through primrose tufts, in that sweet bower,
The periwinkle trailed its wreaths;
And 'tis my faith that every flower
Enjoys the air it breathes.

The birds around me hopped and played:
Their thoughts I cannot measure,
But the least motion which they made,
It seemed a thrill of pleasure.

The budding twigs spread out their fan,
To catch the breezy air;
And I must think, do all I can,
That there was pleasure there.

If this belief from heaven be sent,
If such be Nature's holy plan,
Have I not reason to lament
What man has made of man?

This poem is in the public domain.