The Road Less Traveled

Poems for the Journey

… We few, we happy few, we band of brothers… St. Crispen’s Day Speech – William Shakespeare

Posted by Dave on September 19, 2010

 St. Crispen’s Day Speech – William Shakespeare

Henry V, 1599

Enter the KINGWESTMORELAND. O that we now had here
    But one ten thousand of those men in England
    That do no work to-day!
 
KING. What’s he that wishes so?
    My cousin Westmoreland? No, my fair cousin;
    If we are mark’d to die, we are enow
    To do our country loss; and if to live,
    The fewer men, the greater share of honour.
    God’s will! I pray thee, wish not one man more.
    By Jove, I am not covetous for gold,
    Nor care I who doth feed upon my cost;
    It yearns me not if men my garments wear;
    Such outward things dwell not in my desires.
    But if it be a sin to covet honour,
    I am the most offending soul alive.
    No, faith, my coz, wish not a man from England.
    God’s peace! I would not lose so great an honour
    As one man more methinks would share from me
    For the best hope I have. O, do not wish one more!
    Rather proclaim it, Westmoreland, through my host,
    That he which hath no stomach to this fight,
    Let him depart; his passport shall be made,
    And crowns for convoy put into his purse;
    We would not die in that man’s company
    That fears his fellowship to die with us.
    This day is call’d the feast of Crispian.
    He that outlives this day, and comes safe home,
    Will stand a tip-toe when this day is nam’d,
    And rouse him at the name of Crispian.
    He that shall live this day, and see old age,
    Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbours,
    And say ‘To-morrow is Saint Crispian.’
    Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars,
    And say ‘These wounds I had on Crispian’s day.’
    Old men forget; yet all shall be forgot,
    But he’ll remember, with advantages,
    What feats he did that day. Then shall our names,
    Familiar in his mouth as household words-
    Harry the King, Bedford and Exeter,
    Warwick and Talbot, Salisbury and Gloucester-
    Be in their flowing cups freshly rememb’red.
    This story shall the good man teach his son;
    And Crispin Crispian shall ne’er go by,
    From this day to the ending of the world,
    But we in it shall be remembered-
    We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
    For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
    Shall be my brother; be he ne’er so vile,
    This day shall gentle his condition;
    And gentlemen in England now-a-bed
    Shall think themselves accurs’d they were not here,
    And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
    That fought with us upon Saint Crispin’s day.

 

Posted in Inspirational, Poems Quotes and Readings, Shakespeare | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

Anti-Profanity

Posted by Dave on September 15, 2006

 I do not swear because I am
A sweet and sober guy;
I cannot vent a single damn
However hard I try.
And in vituperative way,
Though I recall it well,
I never, never, never say
A naughty word like hell.

To rouse my wrath you need not try,
I’m milder than a lamb;
However you may rile me I
Refuse to say: Goddam!
In circumstances fury-fraught
My tongue is always civil,
And though you goad me I will not
Consign you to the divvle.

An no, I never, never swear;
Profanity don’t pay;
To cuss won’t get you anywhere,
(And neither will to pray.)
And so all blasphemy I stem.
When milk of kindness curds:
But though I never utter them –
Gosh! how I know the words.

Robert W Service

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Comfort

Posted by Dave on September 10, 2006

Say! You’ve struck a heap of trouble —
    Bust in business, lost your wife;
No one cares a cent about you,
    You don’t care a cent for life;
Hard luck has of hope bereft you,
    Health is failing, wish you’d die —
Why, you’ve still the sunshine left you
    And the big, blue sky.

Sky so blue it makes you wonder
    If it’s heaven shining through;
Earth so smiling ‘way out yonder,
    Sun so bright it dazzles you;
Birds a-singing, flowers a-flinging
    All their fragrance on the breeze;
Dancing shadows, green, still meadows —
    Don’t you mope, you’ve still got these.

These, and none can take them from you;
    These, and none can weigh their worth.
What! you’re tired and broke and beaten? —
    Why, you’re rich — you’ve got the earth!
Yes, if you’re a tramp in tatters,
    While the blue sky bends above
You’ve got nearly all that matters —
    You’ve got God, and God is love.

Robert W. Service

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Grin

Posted by Dave on September 7, 2006

If you’re up against a bruiser and you’re getting knocked about —

Grin.

If you’re feeling pretty groggy, and you’re licked beyond a doubt —

Grin.

Don’t let him see you’re funking, let him know with every clout,
Though your face is battered to a pulp, your blooming heart is stout;
Just stand upon your pins until the beggar knocks you out —

And grin.

This life’s a bally battle, and the same advice holds true

Of grin.

If you’re up against it badly, then it’s only one on you,

So grin.

If the future’s black as thunder, don’t let people see you’re blue;
Just cultivate a cast-iron smile of joy the whole day through;
If they call you “Little Sunshine”, wish that THEY’D no troubles, too —

You may — grin.

Rise up in the morning with the will that, smooth or rough,

You’ll grin.

Sink to sleep at midnight, and although you’re feeling tough,

Yet grin.

There’s nothing gained by whining, and you’re not that kind of stuff;
You’re a fighter from away back, and you WON’T take a rebuff;
Your trouble is that you don’t know when you have had enough —

Don’t give in.

If Fate should down you, just get up and take another cuff;
You may bank on it that there is no philosophy like bluff,

And grin.

Robert W. Service

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The Call of The Wild

Posted by Dave on September 6, 2006

Have you gazed on naked grandeur where there’s nothing else to gaze on,
    Set pieces and drop-curtain scenes galore,
Big mountains heaved to heaven, which the blinding sunsets blazon,
    Black canyons where the rapids rip and roar?
Have you swept the visioned valley with the green stream streaking through it,
    Searched the Vastness for a something you have lost?
Have you strung your soul to silence? Then for God’s sake go and do it;
    Hear the challenge, learn the lesson, pay the cost.

Have you wandered in the wilderness, the sagebrush desolation,
    The bunch-grass levels where the cattle graze?
Have you whistled bits of rag-time at the end of all creation,
    And learned to know the desert’s little ways?
Have you camped upon the foothills, have you galloped o’er the ranges,
    Have you roamed the arid sun-lands through and through?
Have you chummed up with the mesa? Do you know its moods and changes?
    Then listen to the Wild — it’s calling you.

Have you known the Great White Silence, not a snow-gemmed twig aquiver?
    (Eternal truths that shame our soothing lies.)
Have you broken trail on snowshoes? mushed your huskies up the river,
    Dared the unknown, led the way, and clutched the prize?
Have you marked the map’s void spaces, mingled with the mongrel races,
    Felt the savage strength of brute in every thew?
And though grim as hell the worst is, can you round it off with curses?
    Then hearken to the Wild — it’s wanting you.

Have you suffered, starved and triumphed, groveled down, yet grasped at glory,
    Grown bigger in the bigness of the whole?
“Done things” just for the doing, letting babblers tell the story,
    Seeing through the nice veneer the naked soul?
Have you seen God in His splendors, heard the text that nature renders?
    (You’ll never hear it in the family pew.)
The simple things, the true things, the silent men who do things —
    Then listen to the Wild — it’s calling you.

They have cradled you in custom, they have primed you with their preaching,
    They have soaked you in convention through and through;
They have put you in a showcase; you’re a credit to their teaching —
    But can’t you hear the Wild? — it’s calling you.
Let us probe the silent places, let us seek what luck betide us;
    Let us journey to a lonely land I know.
There’s a whisper on the night-wind, there’s a star agleam to guide us,
    And the Wild is calling, calling . . . let us go.

Robert W. Service

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The Shooting of Dan McGrew

Posted by Dave on August 28, 2006

A bunch of the boys were whooping it up in the Malamute saloon;
The kid that handles the music-box was hitting a jag-time tune;
Back of the bar, in a solo game, sat Dangerous Dan McGrew,
And watching his luck was his light-o’-love, the lady that’s known as Lou.

When out of the night, which was fifty below, and into the din and the glare,
There stumbled a miner fresh from the creeks, dog-dirty, and loaded for bear.
He looked like a man with a foot in the grave and scarcely the strength of a louse,
Yet he tilted a poke of dust on the bar, and he called for drinks for the house.
There was none could place the stranger’s face, though we searched ourselves for a clue;
But we drank his health, and the last to drink was Dangerous Dan McGrew.

There’s men that somehow just grip your eyes, and hold them hard like a spell;
And such was he, and he looked to me like a man who had lived in hell;
With a face most hair, and the dreary stare of a dog whose day is done,
As he watered the green stuff in his glass, and the drops fell one by one.
Then I got to figgering who he was, and wondering what he’d do,
And I turned my head — and there watching him was the lady that’s known as Lou.

His eyes went rubbering round the room, and he seemed in a kind of daze,
Till at last that old piano fell in the way of his wandering gaze.
The rag-time kid was having a drink; there was no one else on the stool,
So the stranger stumbles across the room, and flops down there like a fool.
In a buckskin shirt that was glazed with dirt he sat, and I saw him sway;
Then he clutched the keys with his talon hands — my God! but that man could play.

Were you ever out in the Great Alone, when the moon was awful clear,
And the icy mountains hemmed you in with a silence you most could HEAR;
With only the howl of a timber wolf, and you camped there in the cold,
A half-dead thing in a stark, dead world, clean mad for the muck called gold;
While high overhead, green, yellow and red, the North Lights swept in bars? —
Then you’ve a haunch what the music meant . . . hunger and night and the stars.

And hunger not of the belly kind, that’s banished with bacon and beans,
But the gnawing hunger of lonely men for a home and all that it means;
For a fireside far from the cares that are, four walls and a roof above;
But oh! so cramful of cosy joy, and crowned with a woman’s love —
A woman dearer than all the world, and true as Heaven is true —
(God! how ghastly she looks through her rouge, — the lady that’s known as Lou.)

Then on a sudden the music changed, so soft that you scarce could hear;
But you felt that your life had been looted clean of all that it once held dear;
That someone had stolen the woman you loved; that her love was a devil’s lie;
That your guts were gone, and the best for you was to crawl away and die.
‘Twas the crowning cry of a heart’s despair, and it thrilled you through and through —
“I guess I’ll make it a spread misere,” said Dangerous Dan McGrew.

The music almost died away . . . then it burst like a pent-up flood;
And it seemed to say, “Repay, repay,” and my eyes were blind with blood.
The thought came back of an ancient wrong, and it stung like a frozen lash,
And the lust awoke to kill, to kill . . . then the music stopped with a crash,
And the stranger turned, and his eyes they burned in a most peculiar way;

In a buckskin shirt that was glazed with dirt he sat, and I saw him sway;
Then his lips went in in a kind of grin, and he spoke, and his voice was calm,
And “Boys,” says he, “you don’t know me, and none of you care a damn;
But I want to state, and my words are straight, and I’ll bet my poke they’re true,
That one of you is a hound of hell . . . and that one is Dan McGrew.”

Then I ducked my head, and the lights went out, and two guns blazed in the dark,
And a woman screamed, and the lights went up, and two men lay stiff and stark.
Pitched on his head, and pumped full of lead, was Dangerous Dan McGrew,
While the man from the creeks lay clutched to the breast of the lady that’s known as Lou.

These are the simple facts of the case, and I guess I ought to know.
They say that the stranger was crazed with “hooch”, and I’m not denying it’s so.
I’m not so wise as the lawyer guys, but strictly between us two —
The woman that kissed him and — pinched his poke — was the lady that’s known as Lou.

Robert W. Service

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The Raven

Posted by Dave on August 23, 2006

Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore --
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of someone gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
" 'T is some visitor, " I muttered, "tapping at my chamber door--
                Only this and nothing more."
 
Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December;
And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor.
Eagerly I wished the morrow -- vainly I had sought to borrow
From my books surcease of sorrow -- sorrow for the lost Lenore--
For the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore--
                Nameless here for evermore.
 
And the silken, sad, uncertain rustling of each purple curtain
Thrilled me -- filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before:
So that now, to still the beating of my heart, I stood repeating.
" 'T is some visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door--
Some late visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door--
                That it is and nothing more."
 
Presently my soul grew stronger: hesitating then no longer,
"Sir, " said I, "or Madam, truly your forgiveness I implore:
But the fact is I was napping, and so gently you came rapping,
And so faintly you came tapping, tapping at my chamber door,
That I scarce was sure I heard you"-- here I opened wide the door--
                Darkness there and nothing more.
 
Deep into the darkness peering, long I stood there wondering fearing.
Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to  dream before:
But the silence was unbroken, and the stillness gave no token,
And the only word there spoken was the whispered word, "Lenore?"
This I whispered, and an echo murmured back the word "Lenore!"--
                Merely this and nothing more.
 
Back into the chamber turning, all my soul within me burning,
Soon again I heard a tapping somewhat louder than before.
"Surely," said I, "surely that is something at my window lattice;
Let me see, then, what thereat is, and this mystery explore--
Let my heart be still a moment and this mystery explore--
                'T is the wind an nothing more!"
 
Open here i flung the shutter, when, with many a flirt and flutter,
In there stepped a stately Raven of the saintly days of yore;
Not the least obeisance made he; not a minute stopped or stayed he;
But, with mien of lord or lady, perched above my chamber door--
Perched upon a bust of Pallas just a bove my chamber door--
                Perched, and sat, and nothing more.
 
Then this ebony bird beguiling my sad fancy into smiling,
By the grave and stern decorum of the countenance it wore,
"Though thy crest be shorn and shaven, thou," I said, "art sure no craven,
Ghastly grim and ancient Raven wandering from the Nightly shore--
Tell me what thy lordly name is on the Night's Plutonian shore!"
                Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore."
 
Much I marveled this ungainly fowl to hear discourse so plainly,
Though its answer little meaning -- little relevancy bore;
For we cannot help agreeing that no living human beeing
Ever yet was blessed with seeing bird above his chamber door--
Bird or beast upon the sculplured bust above his chamber door,
                With such name as "Nevermore."
 
But the Raven sitting lonely on the placid bust, spoke only
That one word, as if his soul in that one word he did outpoor.
Nothing further then he uttered, not a feather then he fluttered--
Till I scarcely more then muttered, "Other friends have flown before --
On the morrow he will leave me, as my Hopes have flown before."
                Then the bird said, "Nevermore."
 
Startled at the stillness broken by reply so aptly spoken,
"Doubtless," said I, "what it utteres is it only stock and store
Caught from some unhappy master whom unmerciful Disaster
Followed fast and followed faster till his songs one burden bore --
Till the dirges of his Hope the melancholy burden bore
                Of 'Never - nevermore.'"
 
But the Raven still beguiling all my fancy into smiling,
Straight I wheeled a cushioned seat in front of bird and bust and door,
Then upon the velvet sinking, I betook myself to linking
Fancy unto fancy, thinking what this ominous bird of yore--
What this grim, ungainly, ghastly, gaunt, and ominous bird of yore
                Meant in croaking, "Nevermore."
 
This I sat engaged in guessing, but no syllable expressing
To the fowl, whose fiery eyes now burned into my bosom's core;
This and more I sat divining, with my head at ease reclining
On the cushion's velvet lining that the lamp-light gloated o'er
But whose velvet-violet lining with lamp-light gloating o'er
                She shall press, ah, nevermore!
 
Then methought, the air grew denser, perfumed from an unseen censer
Swung by seraphim whose foot-falls tinkled on the tufted floor.
"Wretch," I cried, "thy God has lent thee -- by these angels he hath sent thee
Respite -- respite the nephente from thy memories of Lenore!
Quaff, oh, quaff this kind nephente and forget this lost Lenore!"
                Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore."
 
"Prophet!" said I, "thing of evil! -- prophet still, if bird of devil!
Whether Tempter sent, or whatever tempest tossed thee ashore,
Desolate yet all undaunted, on this desert land enchanted --
On this home by Horror haunted -- tell me truly, I implore --
Is  there -- is there balm in 
Gilead? -- tell me -- tell me, I implore!"
                Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore."
 
"Prophet!" said I, "thing of evil! -- prophet still, if bird of devil!
By that Heaven that bends above us -- by that God we both adore--
Tell his soul with sorrow laden if, within the distant Aidenn,
It shall clasp a sainted maiden whom the angels name Lenore --
Clasp a rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore."
                Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore."
 
"Be that word our sign of parting, bird or fiend!" I shrieked, upstarting --
"Get thee back into the tempest and the Night's Plutonian shore!
Leave no black plume as a token of that lie thy soul hath spoken!
Leave my loneliness unbroken! -- quit the bust above my door!
Take thy beak from out my heart, and take thy form from off my door!
                Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore."
 
And the Raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting
On the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door;
And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon that is dreaming,
And the lamp-light o'er him streaming throws his shadow on the floor,
And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor
                Shall be lifted -- nevermore!

Posted in Edgar Allan Poe | Leave a Comment »

The Battle of the Bulge

Posted by Dave on August 22, 2006

This year an ocean trip I took, and as I am a Scot
And like to get my money’s worth I never missed a meal.
In spite of Neptune’s nastiness I ate an awful lot,
Yet felt as fit as if we sailed upon an even keel.
But now that I am home again I’m stricken with disgust;
How many pounds of fat I’ve gained I’d rather not divulge:
Well, anyway I mean to take this tummy down or bust,
So here I’m suet-strafing in the

Battle of the Bulge.

No more will sausage, bacon, eggs provide my breakfast fare;
On lobster I will never lunch, with mounds of mayonnaise.
At tea I’ll Spartanly eschew the chocolate éclair;
Roast duckling and péche melba shall not consummate my days.
No more nocturnal ice-box raids, midnight spaghetti feeds;
On slabs of pâté de foie gras I vow I won’t indulge:
Let bran and cottage cheese suffice my gastronomic needs,
And lettuce be my ally in the

Battle of the Bulge.

To hell with you, ignoble paunch, abhorrent in my sight!
I gaze at your rotundity, and savage is my frown.
I’ll rub you and I’ll scrub you and I’ll drub you day and night,
But by the gods of symmetry I swear I’ll get you down.
Your smooth and smug convexity, by heck! I will subdue,
And when you tucker in again with joy will I refulge;
No longer of my toes will you obstruct my downward view . . .
With might and main I’ll fight to gain the

Battle of the Bulge.

Robert W. Service

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A word is dead

Posted by Dave on August 21, 2006

A word is dead
When it is said,
Some say.
I say it just
Begins to live
That day.

Posted in Emily Dickinson | Leave a Comment »

The Sound of The Trees

Posted by Dave on August 18, 2006

The Sound of the Trees

I wonder about the trees.
Why do we wish to bear
Forever the noise of these
More than another noise
So close to our dwelling place?
We suffer them by the day
Till we lose all measure of pace,
And fixity in our joys,
And acquire a listening air.
They are that that talks of going
But never gets away;
And that talks no less for knowing,
As it grows wiser and older,
That now it means to stay.
My feet tug at the floor
And my head sways to my shoulder
Sometimes when I watch trees sway,
From the window or the door.
I shall set forth for somewhere,
I shall make the reckless choice
Some day when they are in voice
And tossing so as to scare
The white clouds over them on.
I shall have less to say,
But I shall be gone.

Robert Frost

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