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An Irish Airman Foresees His Death






William Butler Yeats (1865-1939, Irish)

 

I know that I shall meet my fate,

Somewhere among the clouds above;

Those that I fight I do not hate,

Those that I guard I do not love;

My country is Kiltartan Cross,

My countrymen Kiltartan's poor,

No likely end could bring them loss

Or leave them happier than before.

Nor law, nor duty bade me fight,

Nor public men, nor cheering crowds,

A lonely impulse of delight

Drove to this tumult in the clouds;

I balanced all, brought all to mind,

The years to come seemed waste of breath,

A waste of breath the years behind

In balance with this life, this death.

 

 

A Bird Came Down the Walk

Emily Dickinson (1830-1886, American)

 

A Bird came down the Walk—

He did not know I saw—

He bit an Angleworm in halves

And ate the fellow, raw,

 

And then he drank a Dew

From a convenient Grass—

And then hopped sidewise to the Wall

To let a Beetle pass—

 

He glanced with rapid eyes

That hurried all around—

They looked like frightened Beads, I thought—

He stirred his Velvet Head

 

Like one in danger, Cautious,

I offered him a Crumb

And he unrolled his feathers

And rowed him softer home—

 

Than Oars divide the Ocean,

Too silver for a seam—

Or Butterflies, off Banks of Noon

Leap, plashless as they swim.

 

 

Halfway Down

A.A. Milne (1882-1956, English)

 

Halfway down the stairs
is a stair
where I sit.
there isn't any
other stair
quite like
it.
I’m not at the bottom,
I’m not at the top;
so this is the stair
where
I always
stop.

Halfway up the stairs
Isn't up
And it isn't down.
It isn't in the nursery,
It isn't in town.
And all sorts of funny thoughts
Run round my head.
It isn't really
Anywhere!
It's somewhere else
Instead!

Calypso

W.H. Auden (1907-1973, English)

 

Driver drive faster and make a good run
Down the Springfield Line under the shining sun.

Fly like an aeroplane, don’t pull up short
Till you brake for Grand Central Station, New York.

For there in the middle of the waiting-hall
Should be standing the one that I love best of all.

If he’s not there to meet me when I get to town
I’ll stand on the side-walk with tears rolling down.

For he is the one that I love to look on,
The acme of kindness and perfection.

He presses my hand and he says he loves me,
Which I find a admirable peculiarity.

The woods are bright green on both sides of the line,
The trees have their loves though they’re different from mine.

But the poor fat old banker in the sun-parlour car
Has no one to love him except his cigar.

If I were the Head of the Church or the State,
I’d powder my nose and just tell them to wait.

For love’s more important and powerful than
Ever a priest or a politician.



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