Three Poems

My Sad Captain, by Thom Gunn

One by one they appear in

the darkness: a few friends, and

a few with historical

names. How late they start to shine!

but before they fade they stand

perfectly embodied, all

the past lapping them like a

cloak of chaos. They were men

who, I thought, lived only to

renew the wasteful force they

spent with each hot convulsion.

They remind me, distant now.

True, they are not at rest yet,

but now that they are indeed

apart, winnowed from failures,

they withdraw to an orbit

and turn with disinterested

hard energy, like the stars.


O Captain! My Captain, by Walt Whitman

O Captain! my Captain! our fearful trip is done,

The ship has weather’d every rack, the prize we sought is won,

The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting,

While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring;

                         But O heart! heart! heart!

                            O the bleeding drops of red,

                               Where on the deck my Captain lies,

                                  Fallen cold and dead.

O Captain! my Captain! rise up and hear the bells;

Rise upfor you the flag is flungfor you the bugle trills,

For you bouquets and ribbon’d wreathsfor you the shores a-crowding,

For you they call, the swaying mass, their eager faces turning;

                         Here Captain! dear father!

                            This arm beneath your head!

                               It is some dream that on the deck,

                                 You’ve fallen cold and dead.

My Captain does not answer, his lips are pale and still,

My father does not feel my arm, he has no pulse nor will,

The ship is anchor’d safe and sound, its voyage closed and done,

From fearful trip the victor ship comes in with object won;

                         Exult O shores, and ring O bells!

                            But I with mournful tread,

                               Walk the deck my Captain lies,

                                  Fallen cold and dead.


Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night, by Dylan Thomas

Do not go gentle into that good night,

Old age should burn and rave at close of day;

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,

Because their words had forked no lightning they

Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright

Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,

And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,

Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight

Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,

Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.

Do not go gentle into that good night.

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.


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Home is so Sad by Philip Larkin

Home is so sad. It stays as it was left,unnamed
Shaped to the comfort of the last to go
As if to win them back. Instead, bereft
Of anyone to please, it withers so,
Having no heart to put aside the theft

And turn again to what it started as,
A joyous shot at how things ought to be,
Long fallen wide. You can see how it was:
Look at the pictures and the cutlery.
The music in the piano stool. That vase.

“Aurad baztarabam awwal bawujud

Juz hairatam az hayat chize nafzud;

Raftem ba’Ikrah wa nadanem che bud

Za in amadan wa raftan wa budan maqsud.”

Omar Khayyam

“He brought me hither to my great surprise

From life I gather but a dark surmise;

I go perforce. Why come? Why live? Why go?

I ask these questions, but find no replies.”

The Caged Bird Sings

by: Hafez

My body’s dust is a veil
Spread out to hide
My soul—happy that moment when
It’s drawn aside!

To cage a songbird with so sweet
A voice is wrong—
I’ll fly to paradise’s garden
Where I belong.

But why I’ve come and whence I came
Is all unclear—
Alas, to know so little of
My being here!

How can I make my journey to
My heavenly home
When I’m confined and cramped within
This flesh and bone?

If my blood smells of longing, show no
Astonishment—
Mine is the musk deer’s pain as he
Secretes his scent.

Don’t think my golden shirt is like
A candle’s light—
The true flame burns beneath my shirt,
Hidden from sight.

Come, and ensure Hafez’s being
Will disappear—
Since You exist, no one will hear
Me say, “I’m here.”