Poetry – Music

My friend went to the piano; spun the stool
A little higher; left his pipe to cool;
Picked up a fat green volume from the chest;
And propped it open.
Whitely without rest,
His fingers swept the keys that flashed like swords,
… And to the brute drums of barbarian hordes,
Roaring and thunderous and weapon-bare,
An army stormed the bastions of the air!
Dreadful with banners, fire to slay and parch,
Marching together as the lightning’s march,
And swift as storm-clouds. Brazen helms and cars
Clanged to a fierce resurgence of old wars
Above the screaming horns. In-state, they passed,
Trampling and splendid on and sought the vast —
Rending the darkness like a leaping knife,
The flame, the noble pageant of our life!
The burning seal that stamps man’s high indenture
To vain attempt and most forlorn adventure;
Romance, and purple seas, and toppling towns,
And the wind’s valiance crying o’er the downs;
That nerves the silly hand, the feeble brain,
From the loose net of words to deeds again
And to all courage! Perilous and sharp
The last chord shook me as wind shakes a harp!
… And my friend swung round on his stool, and from gods we were men,
“How pretty!” we said; and went on with our talk again.

— Stephen Vincent Benet

Related References

Poetry – The House of Eld

Now the old winds are wild about the house,
And the old ghosts cry to me from the air
Of a far isle set in the western sea,
And of the evening sunlight lingering there.

Ah! I am bound here, bound and fettered,
The dark house crumbles, and the woods decay,
I was too fain of life, that bound me here;
Away, old long-loved ghosts, away, away!

— Geoffrey Bache Smith

Poetry – “So we lay down the Pen”

So we lay down the pen,
So we forbear the building of the rime,
And bid our hearts be steel for times and a time
Till ends the strife, and then,
When the New Age is verily begun,
God grant that we may do the things undone.

— Geoffrey Bache Smith

Quote – History maketh a young man to be old

History maketh a young man to be old, without either wrinkles or gray hairs,—privileging him with the experience of age, without either the infirmities or inconveniences thereof.

— Thomas Fuller

Poetry – Dinner in a Quick Lunch Room

Soup should be heralded with a mellow horn,
Blowing clear notes of gold against the stars;
Strange entrees with a jangle of glass bars
Fantastically alive with subtle scorn;
Fish, by a plopping, gurgling rush of waters,
Clear, vibrant waters, beautifully austere;
Roast, with a thunder of drums to stun the ear,
A screaming fife, a voice from ancient slaughters!

Over the salad let the woodwinds moan;
Then the green silence of many watercresses;
Dessert, a balalaika, strummed alone;
Coffee, a slow, low singing no passion stresses;
Such are my thoughts as — clang! crash! bang! — I brood
And gorge the sticky mess these fools call food!

–Stephen Vincent Benet

Poetry – Poverty

If I am poor it is that I am proud,
If God has made me naked and a boor
He did not think it fit his work to shroud.

The poor man comes from heaven direct to earth
As stars drop down the sky and tropic beams.
The rich receives in our gross air his birth,
As from low suns are slanted golden gleams.

Men are by birth equal in this that given
Themselves and their condition they are even.
The less of inward essence is to leaven
The more of outward circumstance is given.

Yon sun is naked bare of satellite
Unless our earths and moons that office hold,
Though his perpetual day feareth no night
And his perennial summer dreads no cold.

Where are his gilded rays but in our sky?
His solid disk doth float far from us still,
The orb which through the central way doth fly
Shall naked seem though proudly circumstanced.

I’ll leave my mineral wealth hoarded in earth?
Buried in seas in mines and ocean caves
More safely kept than is the merchant’s worth,
Which every storm committeth to the waves.

Mankind may delve but cannot my wealth spend,
If I no partial store appropriate
no armed ships into the Indies send
To rob me of my orient estate 

The rich man’s clothes keep out the genial sun
But scarce defend him from the piercing cold
If he did not his heavenly garment shun
He would not need to hide beneath a fold.

— by Henry David Thoreau

Quote – The best use of oneself

The best use of self demands that it be understood.

— Frank Channing Haddock