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Selections from the Best Poems of 1923

By Strong, L. A. G. (Leonard Alfred George)

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Book Id: WPLBN0000708112
Format Type: PDF eBook
File Size: 152,615 KB.
Reproduction Date: 2007
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Title: Selections from the Best Poems of 1923  
Author: Strong, L. A. G. (Leonard Alfred George)
Language: English
Subject: Fiction, Poetry, Verse drama
Collections: Poetry Collection
Publication Date:
Publisher: World Public Library Association


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Strong, L. A. (n.d.). Selections from the Best Poems of 1923. Retrieved from


Excerpt: A Dead Warrior // HERE sown to dust lies one that drave (sic) // The furrow through his heart; // Now, of the fields he died to save // His own dust forms a part. // Where went the tramp of martial feet, // The blare of trumpets loud, // Comes silence with her winding sheet, // And shadow with her shroud. // His mind no longer counsel takes, // No sword his hand need draw, // Across whose borders peace now makes // Inviolable law. // So, with distraction round him stilled, // Now let him be content! // And time from age to age shall build // His standing monument. // Not here, where strife, and greed, and lust // Grind up the bones of men; // But in that safe and secret dust // Which shall not rise again. // Laurence Housman // Advertisement // WE want a man of forty for the job. // One who has enjoyed his little fill of romance. // And suffered intermittent indigestion ever since. // One whose memories are sufficiently cold // successfully to resist the embraces of truancy. // To whom a mountain // no longer looms an ideal // to scramble up and tumble down, // but is an actual thing made of stone // bristling with multitudinous edges // to bark one's shins or break one's neck upon. // To whom a lake or a river // or other body of water // no longer entices the search for one's likeness // (we only ask a man to be himself // and not go diving after phantoms), // but is a place one might readily drown in, // one's muscles no longer quite what they were. // Who has achieved // that ultimate disillusionment: // not to be able to differentiate // the respective features, limbs or what not // of his whilom Graces and Gwendolyns, (sic) // or if he could wouldn't want to, // would devote the rest of his days to a desk // piled sky high with ledgers and cash books: // Such a man would be certain to stick, // We want such a man for the job. // Alfred Kreymborg // The Wanderer // OUT of the railroad eating house // Comes a lean brown man, // And putting down his pack // Sits smoking a cigarette. // The glow lights up his sensitive Voltaire face // Gazing moodily out on the trail: // The blue patches under his eyes // Show that he has not slept; // It is evident that he has not long to live // And that he knows it. // He will die sooner if he smokes cigarettes, // And that is the reason why he is smoking one. // Beulah May // May the Fruit Never Be Plucked // NEVER, never may the fruit be plucked from the bough // And gathered into barrels. // He that would eat of love must eat it where it hangs. // Though the branches bend like reeds, // Though the ripe fruit splash in the grass or wrinkle on the tree, // He that would eat of love may bear away with him // Only what his belly can hold, // Nothing in the apron, // Nothing in the pockets. // Never, never may the fruit be gathered from the bough // And harvested in barrels. // The winter of love is a cellar of empty bins, // In an orchard soft with rot. // Edna St. Vincent Millay // 2 // Luna // TOO soon the sunset comes; too soon // Opens the night its curious eyes, // Greedy to watch the maiden moon // Unloose her silver draperies // And walk upon the star-flowered fields. // Her cloudy garments one by one // To waiting winds she slowly yields, // And now, her last disrobing done, // Flashes lithe limbs across the sky // And flaunts the cold and slender grace // Of unconcerned virginity. // O now before her smiling grace // A thousand rivers, lakes and seas // Hold up their mirrors to her gaze: // A thousand moonlets there she sees // Float on a thousand starry ways. // Beneath her footfall light and free // The peeping star follows shake and fall; // Cold as her watery mirrors, she // Drinks admiration from them all. // In them her nakedness she views, // In love with her own limbs displayed, // And through the wondering night pursues // Her strange unreasonable parade. // Gerald Miller // On the Train // I // The lady in front of me in the car, // With little red coils close over her ears, // Is talking with her friend; // And the circle of ostrich foam around her hat, // Curving over like a wave, // Trembles with her little windy words. // What she is saying, I wonder, // That her feathers should tremble // And the soft fur of her coat should slip down over her shoulders? // Has her string of pearls been stolen, // Or maybe her husband? // II // He is drunk, that man - // Drunk as a lord, a lord of the bibulous past. (sic) // He shouts wittily from his end of the car to the man in the corner; // He bows to me with chivalrous apologies. // He philosophizes, plays with the wisdom of the ages, // Flings off his rags, // Displays his naked soul - // Athletic, beautiful, grotesque. // 3 // In the good time coming, // When men drink no more, // Shall we ever see a nude soul dancing // Stript and free // In the temple of his god? // II // She comes smiling into the car // With irridescent bubbles of children. // She blooms in the close plush seats // Like a narcissus in a bowl of stones. // She croons to a baby in her lap - // The trees come swinging by to listen, // And the electric lights in the ceiling are stars. // Harriet Monroe // Men, Women, and Words // CHLORINDA in the slipping gown // Unblushingly parades her soul // For clinical inspection as // Example of the Sapphic r“le; // While Doris shudders gracefully // And droops against the man in black, // Confessing that she marvels at // His length of limb and breadth of back. // (Dear Doris: so ingenuous! // Emotionally so sincere!) // The man in black is wholly charmed, // And lends a firm, hedonic ear. // Repression is the moment's theme: // Gerald holds forth on Oedipus // And mentions dire catastrophies // That tastes of his may bring to us. // If we attempt to circumvent // Our fateful Attic heritage - // Wadding his argument around // With splendid Freudian verbiage. // The slim young man against the wall, // With pretty blushes epicene, // Evokes the shade of Socrates, // And lectures from the fire-screen. // Close by him sits Elizabeth, // Her pale hands bluely rectinerved: // Example virginal and wan // Of bunkered fuel too long reserved. // Elizabeth bewails her fate // With frankness not quite unafraid: // The room is tenderly inclined, // But no Satyros proffers aid. // And so from hand to eager hand // The facile ball of talk is sped. // 4 // One waits for, misses, and laments // The absent lover of the dead. // Black was the Hellespont those nights // When, for a priestess of Sestos, // Leander slipped into the flood // From the still town of Abydos. // What theories sustained his stroke // When all the world was overcast, // And Freud and Jung still humbly lurked // In unexpressed spermatoblast? // Did Orestes and Plyades, // While camping by their Grecian streams, // Exchange, interpret and set down // The revelations of their dreams? // Sappho, Jocasta, Oedipus - // Your names go round the room tonight, // Illuminated by our modern blaze // Of psychoanalytic light. // We pity you your sightless years, // And celebrate out learned day: // But Doris and the man in black, // With ancient wisdom, steal away. // Ben Ray Redman // I Was Made of This and This // (I WAS made of this and this - // An angel's prayer, a gipsy's kiss.) // My mother bore me prayerfully // And reared me sweet as a gift for God, // And taught me to look shudderingly // On ways my father trod. // They buried him long and long ago // (I just remember his eyes were blue), // He always did - they say who know - // Things it was wrong to do. // He prayed no saints but the Little Folk, // Pan was his only god; ah me, // The times he laughed when my mother spoke // The beads on her rosary! // (I tend my roof-tree and I pray // The Maid who knew a mother's woe // To keep my feet in the gentile way // Her Son would have me go.) // He swore round oaths and drank black gin; // He held four things to his heart's delight: // The hills, the road, his violin, // An open sky at night. // He told strange tales that were never true // (They buried him long and long ago!) // It always seemed the things he knew // 5 // Were things it was wrong to know. // He scoffed at walls and a garden plot; // He held three things to his heart's desire: // The river's song, an open spot, // The smoke from a driftwood fire. // (I wonder would I greatly care - // Mary, keep my heart from sin! - // If babe of mine should come to swear // Round oaths and drink black gin?) // I grieve for my mother's every tear, // I weep for the hurt in my mother's breast, // But ever and ever at bud o' year // I love my father best. // (That I had never been made of this - // The angel's prayer, or the gipsy's kiss!) // Gertrude Robinson Ross // Moonlight // WHAT time the meanest brick and stone // Take on a beauty not their own, // And past the flaw of builded wood // Shines the intention whole and good, // And all the little homes of man // Rise to a dimmer, nobler span; // When colour's absence gives escape // To the deeper spirit of the shape, // - Then earth's great architecture swells // Among her mountains and her fells // Under the moon to amplitude // Massive and primitive and rude: // - Then do the clouds like silver flags // Stream out above the tattered crags, // And black and silver all the coast // Marshalls its hunched and rocky host, // And headlands striding sombrely // Buttress the land against the sea, // - The darkened land, the brightening wave - // And moonlight slants through Merlin's cave. // Victoria Sackville-West // Orpheus // WHEN Orpheus with his wind-swift fingers // Ripples the strings that gleam like rain, // The wheeling birds fly up and sing, // Hither, thither echoing; // There is a crackling of dry twigs, // A sweeping of leaves along the ground, // Fawny faces and dumb eyes // Peer through the fluttering screens // That mask ferocious teeth and claws // 6 // Now tranquil. // As the music sighs up the hill-side, // The young ones hear, // Come skipping, ambling, rolling down, // Their soft ears flapping as they run, // Their fleecy coats catching in the thickets, // Till they lie, listening, round his feet. // Unseen for centuries, // Fabulous creatures creep out of their caves, // The unicorn // Prances down from his bed of leaves, // His milk-white muzzle still stained green // With the munching, crunching of mountain-herbs. // The griffin, usually so fierce, // Now tame and amiable again, // Has covered the white bones in his secret cavern // With a rustling pall of dank dead leaves, // While the salamander, true lover of art, // Flickers, and creeps out of the flame; // Gently now, and away he goes, // Kindles his proud and blazing track // Across the forest, // Lies listening, // Cools his fever in the flowing waters of the lute. // // But when the housewife returns, // Carrying her basket, // She will not understand. // She misses nothing, // Hears nothing. // She will only see // That the fire is dead, // The grate cold. // // But the child upstairs, // Alone, in the empty cottage, // Heard a strange wind, like music, // In the forest, // Saw something creep out of the fire. // Osbert Sitwell // Another Generation // THERE is a woman like a seed, // There is a man in embryo, // Whose spirits, faces, sex indeed // Their very mothers do not know. // Only their being is revealed, // They are: all else is hidden in gloom, // Fixed by authority, but sealed // Deep in the future and the womb. // 7 // Yet they are foreordained to be // One female, and other male, // And they will come the light to see, // And suck, and bite their fist, and wail, // And grow through childhood wondering still // At all the beauties of the earth, // And learn the exercise of will, // Mercy and truth and tears and mirth. // Season of youth! they'll live with joy // Through all our careless days of old, // But leave behind the girl and boy // Their dearest secrets still untold. // Separate still, they will not meet, // Though life be light, unsatisfied; // Not finding any, wise or sweet, // The born companions of thier pride: // Till destiny disguised as chance // Pricks out the hour with silver pin, // Decrees a dinner or a dance, // A house, a garden, or an inn. // Where they'll be left alone a space, // Strangers, and talk; and she will find // Him like herself, and he her face // The language of a perfect mind. // And once again with all the rest // They'll come together, and friends depart, // Congenuality confessed, // Each with a trouble at the heart. // And yet once more and they will know // A final wound: they are struck by love, // The god at last has drawn his bow, // And sent a shaft that will not move: // And he a whole night long will wake // Abased and helpless framing speech, // Made desperate by his heart's fierce ache // To ask a thing beyond his reach. // And she all trembling in her bed // Will search his strangeness, yearn and weep, // Loving him, filled with virgin dread, // And see the dawn, and find no sleep. // And pressed by thunder they will rise, // And when a few more hours have gone, // Her burning cheek and languid eyes, // Will tell him all his war is won. // Ah, but I know their months of bliss, // Their happy silence, happy talk; // How they will roam and pause and kiss, // Confess, discover, while they walk; // How they will stand by stream and lake, // And go, as though exchanging sight, // 8 // Through bluebell wood and primrose brake // Finding in all a new delight. // And watch the sunset from a gate, // And see the evening fade, and then // All of a sudden learn to hate // The evil that is done by men - // So they will mate, and they will get // A wondrous child, and several more, // The prettiest, strongest, gayest set // That mortal mother ever bore. // And love to watch this brood of theirs // Grow up, though they grow older too, // And laugh to find their first grey hairs // Since there is nothing else to do. // Each thought you guard, each pulse of mine // Will wake in them, but they not guess // We shared of old the immortal wine // Of their delight and their distress, // Who beyond question, also were // Wisest of all the race of Man, // One only comprehending pair, // Unique, since first the world began. // J.C. Squire // In the Orchard // I THOUGHT you loved me. // No, it was only fun. // When we stood there, closer than all? // Well, the harvest moon // Was shining and queer in your hair, and it turned my head. // That made you? // Yes. // Just the moon and the light it made // Under the tree? // Well, your mouth too. // Yes, my mouth? // And the quiet there that sang like the drum in the booth. // You shouldn't have danced like that. // Like what? // So close, // With your head turned up, and the flower in your hair, a rose // That smelt all warm. // I loved you. I thought you knew // I wouldn't have danced like that with any but you. // I didn't know. I thought you knew it was fun. // I thought it was love you meant. // Well, it's done. // Yes, it's done. // I've seen boys stone a blackbird, and watched them drown // A kitten - it clawed at the reeds, and they pushed it down // 9 // Into the pool while it screamed. Is that fun, too? // Well, boys are like that - Your brothers - // Yes, I know. // But you, so lovely and strong! Not you! Not You! // Muriel Stuart // The Stricken Peasant // DIM twilight here; and in her singing mind // Dim twilight too. Shut in this darkened room, // Over whose broad-beamed walls the shadows bloom, // All day she lies; // Yet will her sweet thoughts find // Nothing but praise to tell until she dies. // No footstep passes but she knows the tread, // And each some pastoral-memory awakes // Within her dreamy head. // Or when the barley-wains // Go rumbling past, darkly her old brain tells // Of other wagons jolting up the lanes // In days long since; then breaks // A tear from shrunken lids the while she dwells // On far-off romping harvests that she knew // Where Ned and she to their shy loving drew. // Sometimes, for hours, no company she knows // But chattering birds // That rustle in her eaves, when the wind blows // Sparrows and starlings, jostling, helter-skelter, // To the thatch for shelter; // Yet are their pipings plain to her as words. // Or she will turn to the window's leaded panes - // On loved scenes lingering long; // And whether sun makes bright the land, or rains // Close it in tremulous veils, one song // Is ever at her lips - though mutely thrown // To the still air - of love and love alone. // And when the twilight fades and wagons come // Wheeling their yellow lights about her room, // As to the farm they pass along, // Their very creaking is an evensong. // So, with their little circumstance, the days // Draw to a close; this nights dark vigil keep // Unblessed of sleep; // Yet is her every word a meed of praise. (sic) // Such peace is hers, no knowledge gives, // Who, to no other end than loving, lives: // Such faith, no knowledge now can try, // With urgent Wherefor, Why, // To dim the brightness of her old belief. // Out of her very grief // Has grown this rich content, // 10 // Easing her soul in its lone banishment. // And often, in her dreams, the skies are riven // With a great light, till her accustomed eyes // Behold the blaze of heaven. // Upon her ears a singing breaks; the skies // Fold back and ever back; and flaxen-fair // The angels are, moving in beauty there. // The memory is so bright for her // That, waking, still she fears to stir // Lest this her room and these her hands should be // A borrowed dream out of Eternity. // C. Henry Warren // Excerpts from Kensington Gardens // SPEKE // The children play // at hide and seek // about the monument // to Speke. // And why should the dead // explorer mind // who has nothing to seek // and nothing to find? // QUEEN VICTORIA // Queen Victoria's // statue is // the work of her // daughter Beatrice. // The shape's all wrong // and the crown don't fit, // But - bless her old heart! - // she was proud of it. // TAIL-PIECE // Out! All out! // Harsh echoes blow // from far. With wandering steps // and slow // once again their // garden leave // little Adam, // little Eve. // Humbert Wolfe // The Puritan's Ballad // MY love came up from Barnegat, // The sea was in his eyes; // He trod as softly as a cat // And told me terrible lies. // His hair was yellow as new-cut pine // 11 // In shavings curled and feathered; // I thought how silver it would shine // By cruel winters weathered. // But he was in his twentieth year, // Ths time I'm speaking of; // We were head over heels in love with fear // And half a-feared of love. // My hair was piled in a copper crown - // A devilish living thing - // And the tortise-shell pins fell down, fell down, // When that snake uncoiled to spring. // His feet were used to treading a gale // And balancing thereon; // His face was as brown as a foreign sail // Threadbare against the sun. // His arms were thick as hickory logs // Whittled to little wrists; // Strong as the teeth of a terrior dog // Were the fingers of his fists. // Within his arms I feared to sink // Where lions shook their manes, // And dragons drawn in azure ink // Lept quickened by his veins. // Dreadful his strength and length of limb // As the sea to foundering ships; // I dipped my hands in love for him // No deeper than the tips. // But our palms were welded by a flame // The moment we came to part, // And on his knuckles I read my name // Enscrolled with a heart. // And something made our wills to bend, // As wild as trees blown over; // We were no longer friend and friend, // But only lover and lover. // In seven weeks or seventy years - // God grant it may be sooner! - // I'll make a hankerchief for you // From the sails of my captain's schooner. // We'll wear our loves like wedding rings // Long polished to our touch; // We shall be busy with other things // And they cannot bother us much. // When you are skimming the wrinkled cream // And your ring clinks on the pan, // You'll say to yourself in a pensive dream, // 'How wonderful a man!' // When I am slitting a fish's head // And my ring clanks on the knife, // I'll say with thanks as a prayer is said, // 12 // 'How beautiful a wife!' // And I shall fold my decorous paws // In velvet smooth and deep, // Like a kitten that covers up its claws // To sleep and sleep and sleep. // Like a little blue pigeon you shall bow // Your bright alarming crest; // In the crook of my arm you'll lay your brow // To rest and rest and rest. // Will he never come back from Barnegat // With thunder in his eyes, // Treading as soft as a tiger cat, // To tell me terrible lies?


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