Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate.
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer’s lease hath all too short a date.
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often is his gold complexion dimmed;
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance or nature’s changing course untrimmed.
But thy eternal summer shall not fade
Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow’st;
Nor shall Death brag thou wander’st in his shade,
When in eternal lines to time thou grow’st.
So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,
So long lives this and this gives life to thee.
Success is counted sweetest
By those who ne’er succeed.
To comprehend a nectar
Requires sorest need.
Not one of all the purple Host
Who took the Flag today
Can tell the definition
So clear of Victory
As he defeated–dying–
On whose forbidden ear
The distant strains of triumph
Burst agonized and clear!
Ben Rader of Willard, Ohio, shared this poem on 3 August 2008
at Joe Sundae’s in Sandusky – recorded by Jesus Crisis
The Ohio Poetry Association selected Ben Rader as Poet of the Month for January 2009:
Who will believe my verse in time to come,
If it were fill’d with your most high deserts?
Though yet heaven knows it is but as a tomb
Which hides your life, and shows not half your parts.
If I could write the beauty of your eyes,
And in fresh numbers number all your graces,
The age to come would say ‘This poet lies;
Such heavenly touches ne’er touched earthly faces.’
So should my papers, yellowed with their age,
Be scorned, like old men of less truth than tongue,
And your true rights be term’d a poet’s rage
And stretchèd metre of an antique song.
But were some child of yours alive that time,
You should live twice,—in it, and in my rhyme.
But wherefore do not you a mightier way
Make war upon this bloody tyrant, Time,
And fortify your self in your decay
With means more blessèd than my barren rhyme?
Now stand you on the top of happy hours,
And many maiden gardens, yet unset,
With virtuous wish would bear your living flowers,
Much liker than your painted counterfeit.
So should the lines of life that life repair,
Which this time’s pencil, or my pupil pen,
Neither in inward worth nor outward fair
Can make you live your self in eyes of men.
To give away yourself keeps yourself still,
And you must live, drawn by your own sweet skill.
photo of the poet by Carl Van Vechten (1933)
by Edna St. Vincent Millay
from Renascence (1917)
* * *
Lift your flowers
on bitter stems
Lift them up
out of the scorched ground!
Bear no foliage
but give yourself
wholly to that!
Strain under them
you bitter stems
that no beast eats—
and scorn greyness!
Into the heat with them:
The earth cracks and
is shriveled up;
the wind moans piteously;
the sky goes out
if you should fail.
I saw a child with daisies
for weaving into the hair
tear the stems
with her teeth!
* * *
Pencil Sharpener © 2009 by Roger Craik, all rights reserved
Read by the author on 18 November 2008 during Lix and Kix 2
at the 806 Wine and Martini Bar in Cleveland, Ohio
Photography and editing by John “Jesus Crisis” Burroughs
* * * * *
Roger Craik is English by birth, was educated at the Universities of Reading and Southampton, and
came to the United States in 1991. Roger taught in Bulgaria on a Fulbright Scholarship in 2007
and currently serves as an Associate Professor of English at Kent State University, Ashtabula, in Ohio.
We recommend the following Roger Craik poetry collections:
Those Years (2007) [available from vanZeno Press]
Darkening Green (2004), Rhinoceros in Clumber Park (2003), I Simply Stared (2002)
When the old junk man Death
Langston Hughes in 1925
Comes to gather up our bodies
And toss them into the sack of oblivion,
I wonder if he will find
The corpse of a white multi-millionaire
Worth more pennies of eternity,
Than the black torso of
A Negro cotton-picker?
[first published in the March 1922 issue of Crisis]
* * *
To find more by Langston Hughes in the Crisis Chronicles Online Library, click here.
Even more is available in these volumes:
When the old junk man Death
Marianne Moore in 1948 [photo by Carl Van Vechten]
With its baby rivers and little towns, each with its abbey or its cathedral,
with voices–one voice perhaps, echoing through the transept–the
criterion of suitability and convenience; and Italy with its equal
shores–contriving an epicureanism from which the grossness has been
extracted: and Greece with its goat and its gourds, the nest of modified illusions:
and France, the “chrysalis of the nocturnal butterfly,” in
whose products, mystery of construction diverts one from what was originally one’s
object–substance at the core: and the East with its snails, its emotional
shorthand and jade cockroaches, its rock crystal and its imperturbability,
all of museum quality: and America where there
is the little old ramshackle victoria in the south, where cigars are smoked on the
street in the north; where there are no proofreaders, no silk-worms, no digressions;
the wild man’s land; grassless, linksless, languageless country in which letters are written
not in Spanish, not in Greek, not in Latin, not in shorthand,
but in plain American which cats and dogs can read! The letter a in psalm and calm, when
pronounced with the sound of a in candle, is very noticeable,
but why should continents of misapprehension have to be accounted for by the
fact? Does it follow that because there are poisonous toadstools
which resemble mushrooms, both are dangerous? Of mettlesomeness which may be
mistaken for appetite, of heat which may appear to be haste, no con-
clusions may be drawn. To have misapprehended the matter is to have confessed
that one has not loooked far enough. The sublimated wisdom
of China, Egyptian discernment, the cataclysmic torrent of emotion compressed
in the verbs of the Hebrew language, the books of the man who is able
to say, “I envy nobody but him, and him only, who catches more fish than
I do”–the flower and fruit of all that noted superi-
ority–should one not have stumbled upon it in America, must one imagine
that it is not there? It has never been confined to one locality.
[fromMarianne Moore’s Poems (London: Egoist Press, 1921); first published in Dial 68 (April 1920)]
* * *