Ode Poems - Poems For Ode

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  • 61.
    The Quaker Graveyard in Nantucket

    Let man have dominion over the fishes of the sea and the fowls of the air
    and the beasts and the whole earth, and every creeping creature that moveth upon the earth.


    I
    A brackish reach of shoal off Madaket,-
    The sea was still breaking violently and night
    Had steamed into our north Atlantic Fleet,
    when the drowned sailor clutched the drag-net. Light
    Flashed from his matted head and marble feet,
    He grappled at the net
    With the coiled, hurdling muscles of his thighs;
    The corpse was bloodless, a botch of red and whites,
    It's open, starring eyes
    Were lusterless dead-lights
    Or cabin-windows on a stranded hulk
    Heavy with sand. we weight the body, close
    Its eyes and heave it seaward whence it came,
    Where the heel-headed dogfish barks at its nose
    On Ahab's void and forehead; and the name
    Is blocked in yellow chalk.
    Sailors, who pitch this at the portent at the sea
    Where dreadnoughts shall confess
    It's hell-bent deity
    When you are powerless
    To sand-bag this Atlantic bulwark, faced
    By the earth-shaker, green, unwearied, chaste
    In his steel scales; ask for no Orphean lute
    To pluck life back. The guns of the steeled fleet
    Recoiled and then repeat
    The hoarse salute

    II.
    Whenever winds are moving and their breath
    Heaved at the roped-in bulwarks of this pier,
    Then terns and sea-gulls tremble at your death
    In these waters. Sailor, can you hear
    The Pequod's sea wings, beating landward, fall
    Headlong and break on our Atlantic wall

    Off 'Sconset, where the yawing S-boats-splash
    The bellbuoy, with ballooning spinnakers,
    As the entangled, screeching mainsheet clears
    The blocks: off Madaket, where lubbers lash
    The heavy surf and throw their long lead squids
    For blue-fish? Sea-gulls blink their heavy lids
    Seaward. The winds' wings beat upon the stones,
    Cousin, and scream for you and the claws rush
    At the sea's throat and wring it in the slush
    Of this old Quaker graveyard where the bones
    Cry out in the long night for the hurt beast
    Bobbing by Ahab's whaleboats in the East.

    III
    All you recovered from Poseidon died
    With you, my cousin, and the harrowed brine
    Is fruitless on the blue beard of the god,
    Stretching beyond us to the castles in Spain,
    Nantucket's westward haven. To Cape Cod
    Guns, cradled on the tide,
    Blast, the eelgrass about a waterclock
    Of bilge and backwash, roil the salt and the sand
    Lashing earth's scaffold, rock
    Our warships in the hand
    Of the great God, where time's contrition blues
    Whatever it was these Quaker sailor's lost
    In the mad scramble of their lives. They died
    When time was open-eyed,
    Wooden and childish; only bones abide
    There, in the nowhere, where their boats were tossed
    Sky-high, where mariners had fabled news
    Of IS, the whited monster. what it cost
    Them is their secret. In the sperm-whale's slick
    I see the Quakers drown and hear their cry:
    "If God himself had not been by our side,
    If God himself had not been on our side,
    When the Atlantic rose against us, why,
    Then it had swallowed us up quick."

    IV
    This is the end of the whaleroad and the whale
    Who spewed Nantucket bones on the thrashed swell
    And stirred the troubled waters to whirlpools
    To send the Pequod packing off to hell:
    This is the end of them, three quarters fools,
    Snatching at straws to sail
    Seaward and seaward on the turntail whale,
    Spouting out blood and water as it rolls

    Sick as a dog to these Atlantic shoals:
    Clamavimus, O depths. Let the sea-gulls wail

    For water, for the deep where the high tide
    Mutters to its hurt self, mutters and ebbs.
    Waves wallow in their wash, go out and out,
    Leave only the death-rattle of the crabs,
    The beach increasing, its enormous snout
    Sucking the ocean's side.
    This is the end of running on the waves;
    We are poured out like water. who will dance
    The mast-lashed master of Leviathans
    Up from this field of Quakers in their unstoned graves?

    V
    When the whales viscera go and the roll
    Of its corruption overruns this world
    Beyond tree-swept Nantucket and Wood's Hole
    whistle and fall and sink into the fat?
    In the great ash-pit of Jehoshapat
    The bones cry for the blood of the white whale,
    The fat flukes arch and whack about its ears,
    The death-lance churns into the sanctuary, tears
    The gun-blue swingle, heaving like a flail,
    And hacks the coiling life out: it works and drags
    And rips the sperm-whale's midriff into rags,
    Gobbets of blubber spill to wind and weather,
    Sailor and gulls go round the stoven timbers
    Where the morning stars sing out together
    And thunder shakes the white surf and dismembers
    The red flag hammered in the mast-head. Hide
    Our steel, Jonas Messias, in Thy side.

    VI
    Our Lady of Walsingham
    There once the penitents took off their shoes
    and then walked barefoot the remaining mile;
    And the small trees, a stream and hedgerows file
    Slowly along the munching English lane,

    Like cows to the old shrine, until you lose
    Track of your dragging pain.
    The stream flows down under the druid tree,
    Shiloah's whirlpools gurgle and make you glad
    And whistled Sion by that stream. But see:

    Our Lady, too small for her canopy,
    Sits near the altar. There's no comeliness
    At all or charm in that expressionless
    Face with its heavy eyelids. As before,
    This face, for centuries a memory,
    Non est species, neque décor
    Expressionless expresses God: it goes
    Past castled Sion. She knows what God knows,
    Not Calvary's Cross nor crib at Bethlehem
    Now, and the world shall come to Walsingham.

    VII
    The empty winds are creaking and the oak
    Splatters and splatters on the cenotaph,
    The boughs are trembling and a gaff
    Bobs on the untimely stroke
    Of the greased wash exploding on a shoal-bell
    In the old mouth of the Atlantic. It's well;
    Atlantic, you are fouled with the blue sailors,
    Sea-monsters, upward angel, downward fish:
    Unmarried and corroding, spare of flesh
    Mart once of supercilious, winged clippers,
    Atlantic, where your bell-trap guts its spoil
    You could cut the brackish winds with a knife
    Here in Nantucket and cast up the time
    When the Lord God formed man from the sea's slime
    And breathed into his face the breath of life,
    And the blue-lung'd combers lumbered to the kill.
    The Lord survives the rainbow of His will. read more »

  • 62.
    Ode On The Death Of A Favourite Cat Drowned In A Tub Of Goldfishes

    'Twas on a lofty vase's side,
    Where China's gayest art had dy'd
    The azure flow'rs that blow;
    Demurest of the tabby kind,
    The pensive Selima, reclin'd,
    Gazed on the lake below. read more »

  • 63.
    On the Death of Richard West

    1 In vain to me the smiling Mornings shine,
    2 And reddening Phœbus lifts his golden fire;
    3 The birds in vain their amorous descant join; read more »

  • 64.
    To A Skylark

    Hail to thee, blithe Spirit!
    Bird thou never wert,
    That from Heaven, or near it,
    Pourest thy full heart read more »

  • 65.
    Ode to the Confederate Dead

    Row after row with strict impunity
    The headstones yield their names to the element,
    The wind whirrs without recollection;
    In the riven troughs the splayed leaves read more »

  • 66.
    Ode On The Spring

    Lo! where the rosy-bosom'd Hours,
    Fair Venus' train appear,
    Disclose the long-expecting flowers,
    And wake the purple year!
    The Attic warbler pours her throat, read more »

  • 67.
    Ode To Autumn

    Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
    Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
    Conspiring with him how to load and bless
    With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eaves run; read more »

  • 68.
    To Autumn

    Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
    Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
    Conspiring with him how to load and bless
    With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run; read more »

  • 69.
    Ode to a Large Tuna in the Market

    Among the market greens,
    a bullet
    from the ocean
    depths, read more »

  • 70.
    The Progress of Poesy

    Awake, Aeolian lyre, awake,
    And give to rapture all thy trembling strings.
    From Helicon's harmonious springs
    A thousand rills their mazy progress take: read more »

  • 71.
    Ode To Wine

    Day-colored wine,
    night-colored wine,
    wine with purple feet
    or wine with topaz blood, read more »

  • 72.
    Ode on Melancholy


    No, no! go not to Lethe, neither twist
    Wolf's-bane, tight-rooted, for its poisonous wine;
    Nor suffer thy pale forehead to be kissed read more »

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