O thou who passest thro’ our valleys in
Thy strength, curb thy fierce steeds, allay the heat
That flames from their large nostrils! thou, O Summer,
Oft pitched’st here thy golden tent, and oft
Beneath our oaks hast slept, while we beheld
With joy thy ruddy limbs and flourishing hair.
~ To Summer, William Blake
A man must labor hard to scale the heights,
And to seek greatness must spend sleepless nights,
And to find pearls must plunge into the sea
And so attains good fortune and eminent be.
For he who seeks success without labor
Wastes all his life in a futile endeavor.
~ The Story of Sindbad the Sailor
‘Cindy!’ she cried, ‘come make a wish!
‘Wish anything and have no doubt
‘That I will make it come about!’
Cindy answered, ‘Oh kind Fairy,
‘This time I shall be more wary.
‘No more Princes, no more money.
‘I have had my taste of honey.
‘I’m wishing for a decent man.
‘They’re hard to find. D’you think you can?’
Within a minute, Cinderella
Was married to a lovely feller,
A simple jam-maker by trade,
Who sold good home-made marmalade.
Their house was filled with smiles and laughter
And they were happy ever after.
~ Revolting Rhymes, Cinderella, Roald Dahl
O love is the crooked thing,
There is nobody wise enough
To find out all that is in it,
For he would be thinking of love.
Till the stars had run away
And the shadows eaten the moon.
Ah, penny, brown penny, brown penny,
One cannot begin it too soon.
~ Brown Penny, William Butler Yeats
O Captain! My Captain! rise up and hear the bells;
Rise up—for you the flag is flung—for you the bugle trills;
For you bouquets and ribbon’d wreaths—for 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.
~ O Captain! My Captain! , Walt Whitman
We don’t read and write poetry because it is cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion. And medicine, law, business, engineering – these are noble pursuits, and necessary to sustain life. But Poetry, Beauty, Romance, Love! These are what we stay alive for. To quote from Whitman,
“O me! O life!… of the questions of these recurring;
Of the endless trains of the faithless—of cities fill’d with the foolish
— What good amid these, O me, O life?
That you are here—that life exists, and identity;
That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse.
That the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse”
What will your verse be?
~ Mr. John Keating [Robin Williams], Dead Poets Society [Movie, 1989]
Thou wast not born for death, immortal Bird!
No hungry generations tread thee down;
The voice I hear this passing night was heard
In ancient days by emperor and clown:
Perhaps the self-same song that found a path
Through the sad heart of Ruth, when, sick for home,
She stood in tears amid the alien corn;
The same that oft-times hath
Charm’d magic casements, opening on the foam
Of perilous seas, in faery lands forlorn.
~ Ode to a Nightingale, John Keats