You Want a Social Life, with Friends | Kenneth Koch

kenneth koch social life

You Want a Social Life, with Friends
Kenneth Koch

You want a social life, with friends.
A passionate love life and as well
To work hard every day. What’s true
Is of these three you may have two
And two can pay you dividends
But never may have three.

There isn’t time enough, my friends–
Though dawn begins, yet midnight ends–
To find the time to have love, work, and friends.
Michelangelo had feeling
For Vittoria and the Ceiling
But did he go to parties at day’s end?

Homer nightly went to banquets
Wrote all day but had no lockets
Bright with pictures of his Girl.
I know one who loves and parties
And has done so since his thirties
But writes hardly anything at all.

—-

Kenneth Koch (1925-2002) was an American poet, playwright, and professor. He was a prominent poet of the New York School of poetry, a circle of poets that also included Frank O’Hara and John Ashbery.

William Butler Yeats | The White Birds

The White Birds
William Butler Yeats

I would that we were, my beloved, white birds on the foam of the sea!
We tire of the flame of the meteor, before it can fade and flee;
And the flame of the blue star of twilight, hung low on the rim of the sky,
Has awakened in our hearts, my beloved, a sadness that may not die.

A weariness comes from those dreamers, dew-dabbled, the lily and rose;
Ah, dream not of them, my beloved, the flame of the meteor that goes,
Or the flame of the blue star that lingers hung low in the fall of the dew:
For I would we were changed to white birds on the wandering foam: I and you!

I am haunted by numberless islands, and many a Danaan shore,
Where Time would surely forget us, and Sorrow come near us no more;
Soon far from the rose and the lily, and fret of the flames would we be,
Were we only white birds, my beloved, buoyed out on the foam of the sea!

Derek Walcott | Love After Love

Love After Love
Derek Walcott

The time will come
when, with elation,
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror,
and each will smile at the other’s welcome,
and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you

all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,

the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.

Luttichuys, Isaac - Still Life with Bread and ...

Luttichuys, Isaac – Still Life with Bread and Wine Glass – 17th c

William Shakespeare~~Sonnet 116

I had the first couple of lines, with their curious, beautiful syntax, stuck in my head today. I struggled to recall where they were from. Shakespeare, obviously, but where? One of the plays with end-rhymed soliloquies? That narrows it, but contextually, they could fit in many places. Shakespeare is full of suitable matches.

I had to Google it.

And it makes me wonder how long it will be before my memory diminishes further. When I stop remembering even that it’s Shakespeare. Or will I stop remembering these snatches of lovely phrases at all?

On that depressing note, here it is.

Shakespeare–Sonnet 116:

Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O, no! it is an ever-fixed mark,
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth’s unknown, although his height be taken.
Love ’s not Time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle’s compass come;
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error, and upon me prov’d,
I never writ, nor no man ever lov’d.

Stephen Crane– Line XL

It is sometimes forgotten that Crane wrote poetry–or anything other than The Red Badge of Courage, for that matter–and in his collection The Black Riders, from which this selection comes, he himself referred to them as “lines” and not poems.

XL.

And you love me

I love you.

You are, then, cold coward.

Aye; but, beloved,
When I strive to come to you,
Man’s opinions, a thousand thickets,
My interwoven existence,
My life,
Caught in the stubble of the world
Like a tender veil –
This stays me.
No strange move can I make
Without noise of tearing
I dare not.

If love loves,
There is no world
Nor word.
All is lost
Save thought of love
And place to dream.
You love me?

I love you.

You are, then, cold coward.

Aye; but, beloved –

Dorothy Parker – Somebody’s Song

 

English: Portrait of Art Samuels, Charlie MacA...

Portrait of Art Samuels, Charlie MacArthur, Harpo Marx, Dorothy Parker and Alexander Woollcott (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

Dorothy Parker – Somebody’s Song

 

This is what I vow;
He shall have my heart to keep,
Sweetly will we stir and sleep,
All the years, as now.
Swift the measured sands may run;
Love like this is never done;
He and I are welded one:
This is what I vow.

 

This is what I pray:
Keep him by me tenderly;
Keep him sweet in pride of me,
Ever and a day;
Keep me from the old distress;
Let me, for our happiness,
Be the one to love the less:
This is what I pray.

 

This is what I know:
Lovers’ oaths are thin as rain;
Love’s a harbinger of pain-
Would it were not so!
Ever is my heart a-thirst,
Ever is my love accurst;
He is neither last nor first:
This is what I know.

From The Portable Dorothy Parker.

Robert Burns – 379. Song—Fragment—Love for love

English: Robert Burns statue by G.A. Lawson in...

English: Robert Burns statue by G.A. Lawson in Stanley Park, Vancouver, Canada (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Robert Burns – 379. Song—Fragment—Love for love

ITHERS seek they ken na what,
Features, carriage, and a’ that;
Gie me love in her I court,
Love to love maks a’ the sport.
Let love sparkle in her e’e;
Let her lo’e nae man but me;
That’s the tocher-gude I prize,
There the luver’s treasure lies.

e.e. cummings–yours is the music for no instrument

yours is the music for no instrument
yours the preposterous colour unbeheld

–mine the unbought contemptuous intent
till this our flesh merely shall be excelled
by speaking flower
(if I have made songs

it does not greatly matter to the sun,
nor will rain care
cautiously who prolongs
unserious twilight) shadows have begun

the hair’s worm huge, ecstatic, rathe . . .

yours are the poems i do not write.

In this at least we have got a bulge on death,
silence, and the keenly musical light

of sudden nothing . . . . la bocca mia “he
kissed wholly trembling”

or so thought the lady.

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George Herbert – Love (III)

George Herbert – Love (III)

 

Love bade me welcome: yet my soul drew back,
Guilty of dust and sin.
But quick-ey’d Love, observing me grow slack,
From my first entrance in,
Drew nearer to me, sweetly questioning,
If I lack’d anything.

 

A guest, I answer’d, worthy to be here:
Love said, You shall be he.
I the unkind, ungrateful? Ah my dear,
I cannot look on thee.
Love took my hand, and smiling did reply,
Who made the eyes but I?

 

Truth Lord, but I have marr’d them: let my shame
Go where it doth deserve.
And know you not, says Love, who bore the blame?
My dear, then I will serve.
You must sit down, says Love, and tast me meat:
So I did sit and eat.

 

My Love

My Love (Photo credit: Jennuine Captures)

 

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Stephen Crane–Line XL

English: Cora Taylor Crane with author Stephen...

Cora Taylor Crane with Stephen Crane (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It is sometimes forgotten that Crane wrote poetry–or anything other than The Red Badge of Courage, for that matter–and in his collection The Black Riders, from which this selection comes, he himself referred to them as “lines” and not poems.

XL.

And you love me

I love you.

You are, then, cold coward.

Aye; but, beloved,
When I strive to come to you,
Man’s opinions, a thousand thickets,
My interwoven existence,
My life,
Caught in the stubble of the world
Like a tender veil —
This stays me.
No strange move can I make
Without noise of tearing
I dare not.

If love loves,
There is no world
Nor word.
All is lost
Save thought of love
And place to dream.
You love me?

I love you.

You are, then, cold coward.

Aye; but, beloved —

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