Anthem for Doomed Youth

What passing-bells for these who die as cattle?
– Only the monstruous anger of the guns.
Only the stuttering rifles’ rapid rattle
Can patter out their hasty orisons.
No mockeries now for them; no prayers nor bells;
Nor any voice of mourning save the choirs, –
The shrill, demented choirs of wailing shells;
And bugles calling for them from sad shires.

What candles may be held to speed them all?
Not in the hands of boys, but in their eyes
Shall shine the holy glimmers of good-byes.
The pallor of girls’ brows shall be their pall;
Their flowers the tenderness of patient minds,
And each slow dusk a drawing-down of blinds.

Wilfred Owen

Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night

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.

Dylan Thomas

An August Midnight


A shaded lamp and a waving blind,
And the beat of a clock from a distant floor:
On this scene enter–winged, horned, and spined–
A longlegs, a moth, and a dumbledore;
While ‘mid my page there idly stands
A sleepy fly, that rubs its hands . . .


Thus meet we five, in this still place,
At this point of time, at this point in space.
–My guests besmear my new-penned line,
Or bang at the lamp and fall supine.
‘God’s humblest, they!’ I muse. Yet why?
They know Earth-secrets that know not I.

Thomas Hardy
circa 1900?

High Windows

When I see a couple of kids
And guess he’s fucking her and she’s
Taking pills or wearing a diaphragm,
I know this is paradise

Everyone old has dreamed of all their lives –
Bonds and gestures pushed to one side
Like an outdated combine harvester,
And everyone young going down the long slide

To happiness, endlessly. I wonder if
Anyone looked at me, forty years back,
And thought, That’ll be the life;
No God any more, or sweating in the dark

about hell and that, or having to hide
What you think of the priest. He
And his lot will all go down the long slide
Like free bloody birds. And immediately

Rather than words comes the thought of high windows:
The sun-comprehending glass,
And beyond it, the deep blue air, that shows
Nothing, and is nowhere, and is endless.

Phillip Larkin


This house has been far out at sea all night,
The woods crashing through darkness, the booming hills,
Winds stampeding the fields under the window
Floundering black astride and blinding wet

Till day rose; then under an orange sky
The hills had new places, and wind wielded
Blade-light, luminous black and emerald,
Flexing like the lens of a mad eye.

At noon I scaled along the house-side as far as
The coal-house door. Once I looked up —
Through the brunt wind that dented the balls of my eyes
The tent of the hills drummed and strained its guyrope,

The fields quivering, the skyline a grimace,
At any second to bang and vanish with a flap;
The wind flung a magpie away and a black-
Back gull bent like an iron bar slowly. The house

Rang like some fine green goblet in the note
That any second would shatter it. Now deep
In chairs, in front of the great fire, we grip
Our hearts and cannot entertain book, thought,

Or each other. We watch the fire blazing,
And feel the roots of the house move, but sit on,
Seeing the window tremble to come in,
Hearing the stones cry out under the horizons.

Ted Hughes

The Wanderer

Often the solitary man waits for God’s mercy,
though he for a long while in sorrowful mood
has to stir back the rime-cold ocean
with oars, with the strength of his own hands,
to go in the tracks of exile over the sea. Fate —
that is relentless. Thus remembering
the hardship of cruel slaughters
and the fall of kinsmen friends,
the wanderer spoke: Often in the early mornings
alone I have to bewail my grief:
now there is no one living to whom
I dare clearly open my mind. In truth I know
that in man it is excellent conduct
to bind fast the heart’s lock,
to govern the mind’s hoard-chamber,
to think, however, as he will. One who is
weary of heart may not withstand fate;
nor may the fierce heart glean help,
because, sorry and yet keen for glory, it is often
bound fast in its breast-chamber. Thus I,
so often weary with sorrow,
deprived of my native land
and far from free kinsmen,
have to bind my heart with fetters.
ever since my gold-friend and lord of former years
was laid in a dark chamber of earth…
And sad with winter, I went away
over the frost-bound waves, and drearily
sought in halls for a giver of treasure–a lord–
sought where far or near I might find
anyone in a mead-hall who would love me,
who would cheer my friendlessness
and entice me with joys. He who knows
how cruel a companion sorrow is
to him who has no loving protectors with him:
the path of exile is his. No coiled gold,
no earthly riches, only the cold
of the heart’s chamber. He remembers
the men of the halls and the receiving of treasure,
how his lord entertained him in his youth
at the feasts. All joy comes to an end.
For he who knows
shall long go without dear lord’s counsel.
When sorrow and sleep
bind down a wretched exile,
it seems to him in mind
that he embraces and kisses his lord,
and lays his hands and head on that man’s knee,
when in former days he sat on his throne
long before. Then afterwards
the friendless man wakens and sees
the dark ways before him, sea-birds
batheing and spreading their feathers,
rime-frost and snow falling, mingled with hail.
There is a wound in the heavy heart,
grief over those he loves. Sorrow is renewed
when memory of kinsmen crosses his mind;
he greets them with joy, eagerly thinks of them.
But these companions of men swim away again
from his mind; the soul of those
who seem to float before him
does not bring there many of the familiar voices.
Grief is renewed
in him who often sends his weary mind
yearning back over the frost-bound waves.
Therefore I cannot imagine anything in this world
which does not darken my mind
when I think of all the life of men–
how suddenly they pass from the hall-floors,
those high-spirited men. Thus each day
the world diminishes.
Indeed, a man may not become wise
before he has had his number of years in this world.
A man has to be patient,
and must not be over-passionate,
nor too hasty of speech, nor too afraid,
or too glad; not too avaricious,
nor too eager to boast, if he is to become wise.
A man has to wait
–when he will speak proudly and boast–
until he knows which way
the thoughts of his mind will turn.
A wise man will understand
how unearthly it will seem
when all the wealth of this world stands devastated–
as even now stand various walls in this world,
blown upon by the winds,
covered with rime-frost, ruined dwellings.
Wine-halls crumble; kings lie deprived of happiness;
al the proud host fall by the wall:
war destroyed some of them, took them far away;
a raven carried one far-off over the high sea;
the hoary wolf gave over another to death;
a sad-faced man hid another in a chamber of earth–
thus did the Creator of men destroy this world,
until, free from the noise of citizens,
the old works of giants stood idle.
Then he who has wisely thought
and deeply considered the foundations of this dark life,
often turns his mind far back
onto the multitude of slaughters,
speaking these words: Where have gone the horse
Where the men? Where are the treasure-givers?
Where are the banquet-dwellings?
Where the joys of the hall? O bright cup!
O chain-mailed warrior! O glory of kings!
How the times have passed,
how they grow dark under the shades of night
as though they had never existed! The beloved host
now stands behind a wondrously high wall
shining with serpent-forms.
The strength of spears, weapons
greedy for slaughter, have destroyed mankind–
a glorious fate! And storms
beat these rocky slopes; falling storm
binds the earth with terror of winter,
when darkness comes.
The shadow of night grows dark–
the fierce night-storm from the north
sends malice on men.
All in the kingdom of earth is full of hardship;
the decrees of fate overthrow
the world under the heavens. Here is life,
here is friend, here is kinsman,
here is man–all gone now after the brief lending,
all the foundations of this earth become desolate.
Thus he spoke, wise in mind,
and sat apart from those at council.
Good is he who keeps his integrity,
and he who never too quickly shows
grief from his heart, unless he first knows
how to effect the remedy with courage.
Blessed are they who seek kindness from Him,
consolation from the Father in Heaven,
where safety stands for us all.

10 or 11th century AD

The Trees

The trees are coming into leaf
Like something almost being said;
The recent buds relax and spread,
Their greenness is a kind of grief.

Is it that they are born again
And we grow old? No, they die too.
Their yearly trick of looking new
Is written down in rings of grain.

Yet still the unresting castles thresh
In fullgrown thickness every May.
Last year is dead, they seem to say,
Begin afresh, afresh, afresh.

Phillip Larkin

Stoppings by Woods on a Snowy Evening

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village, though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound’s the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark, and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

Robert Frost

Ones I've collected down the years