If I can stop one heart from breaking
If I can stop one heart from breaking,
I shall not live in vain;
If I can ease one life the aching,
Or cool one pain,
Or help one fainting robin
Unto his nest again,
I shall not live in vain.
The quality of mercy is not strained;
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath. It is twice blest;
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes:
'T is mightiest in the mightiest; it becomes
The throned monarch better than his crown:
His sceptre shows the force of temporal power,
The attribute to awe and majesty,
Wherein doth sit the dread and fear of kings;
But mercy is above this sceptred sway;
It is enthronèd in the hearts of kings,
It is an attribute to God himself;
And earthly power doth then show likest God's
When mercy seasons justice. Therefore, Jew,
Though justice be thy plea, consider this,
That, in the course of justice, none of us
Should see salvation: we do pray for mercy;
And that same prayer doth teach us all to render
The deeds of mercy. I have spoke thus much
To mitigate the justice of thy plea;
Which if thou follow, this strict court of Venice
Must needs give sentence 'gainst the merchant there.
William Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice
I Hear America Singing
I hear America singing, the varied carols I hear,
Those of mechanics, each one singing his as it should be blithe and strong,
The carpenter singing his as he measures his plank or beam,
The mason singing his as he makes ready for work, or leaves off work,
The boatman singing what belongs to him in his boat, the deckhand singing on the steamboat deck,
The shoemaker singing as he sits on his bench, the hatter singing as he stands,
The wood-cutter’s song, the ploughboy’s on his way in the morning, or at noon intermission or at sundown,
The delicious singing of the mother, or of the young wife at work, or of the girl sewing or washing,
Each singing what belongs to him or her and to none else,
The day what belongs to the day—at night the party of young fellows, robust, friendly,
Singing with open mouths their strong melodious songs.
The Mist and All
I like the fall,
The mist and all.
I like the night owl's
Lonely call --
And wailing sound
Of wind around.
I like the gray
And bare, dead boughs
That coldly sway
Against my pane.
I like the rain.
I like to sit
And laugh at it --
My cozy fire a bit.
I like the fall --
The mist and all.
A tingling, misty marvel
Blew hither in the night,
And now the little peach-trees
Are clasped in frozen light.
Upon the apple-branches
An icy film is caught,
With trailing threads of gossamer
In pearly patterns wrought.
The autumn sun, in wonder,
Is gayly peering through
This silver-tissued network
Across the frosty blue.
The weather-vane is fire-tipped,
The honeysuckle shows
A dazzling icy splendor,
And crystal is the rose.
Around the eaves are fringes
Of icicles that seem
To mock the summer rainbows
With many-colored gleam.
Along the walk, the pebbles
Are each a precious stone;
The grass is tasseled hoarfrost,
The clover jewel-sown.
Such sparkle, sparkle, sparkle
Fills all the frosty air,
Oh, can it be that darkness
Is ever anywhere!
O hushed October morning mild,
Thy leaves have ripened to the fall;
Tomorrow’s wind, if it be wild,
Should waste them all.
The crows above the forest call;
Tomorrow they may form and go.
O hushed October morning mild,
Begin the hours of this day slow.
Make the day seem to us less brief.
Hearts not averse to being beguiled,
Beguile us in the way you know.
Release one leaf at break of day;
At noon release another leaf;
One from our trees, one far away.
Retard the sun with gentle mist;
Enchant the land with amethyst.
For the grapes’ sake, if they were all,
Whose leaves already are burnt with frost,
Whose clustered fruit must else be lost--
For the grapes’ sake along the wall.
The sun is rich
And gladly pays
In golden hours,
And long green weeks
That never end.
School’s out. The time
Is ours to spend.
There’s Little League,
Hopscotch, the creek,
And, after supper,
The live-long light
Is like a dream,
And freckles come
Like flies to cream.
Reason, indeed, may oft complain
For Nature’s sad reality,
And tell the suffering heart how vain
Its cherished dreams must always be;
And Truth may rudely trample down
The flowers of Fancy, newly-blown:When weary with the long day’s care,
And earthly change from pain to pain,
And lost, and ready to despair,
Thy kind voice calls me back again:
Oh, my true friend! I am not lone,
While then canst speak with such a tone!
So hopeless is the world without;
The world within I doubly prize;
Thy world, where guile, and hate, and doubt,
And cold suspicion never rise;
Where thou, and I, and Liberty,
Have undisputed sovereignty.
What matters it, that all around
Danger, and guilt, and darkness lie,
If but within our bosom’s bound
We hold a bright, untroubled sky,
Warm with ten thousand mingled rays
Of suns that know no winter days?
But thou art ever there, to bring
The hovering vision back, and breathe
New glories o’er the blighted spring,
And call a lovelier Life from Death.
And whisper, with a voice divine,
Of real worlds, as bright as thine.
I trust not to thy phantom bliss,
Yet, still, in evening’s quiet hour,
With never-failing thankfulness,
I welcome thee, Benignant Power;
Sure solacer of human cares,
And sweeter hope, when hope despairs!
Wind in pines
wind on water
wind in rushes
wind on feather
Sun in leaves
sun on loch
sun in reeds
sun on duck
Rain in trees
rain on river
rain in moss
rain on eider
All one morning
in an hour
Published in Sing a Song of Seasons, Fiona Waters, ed
It sifts from leaden sieves,
It powders all the wood,
It fills with alabaster wool
The wrinkles of the road.
It makes an even face
Of mountain and of plain, --
Unbroken forehead from the east
Unto the east again.
It reaches to the fence,
It wraps it, rail by rail,
Till it is lost in fleeces;
It flings a crystal veil
On stump and stack and stem, --
The summer's empty room,
Acres of seams where harvests were,
Recordless, but for them.
It ruffles wrists of posts,
As ankles of a queen, --
Then stills its artisans like ghosts,
Denying they have been.
by Emily Dickinson
The First Christmas
by Michael R. Burch
’Twas in a land so long ago . . .
the lambs lay blanketed in snow
and little children everywhere
sat and watched warm embers glow
and dreamed (of what, we do not know).
And THEN—a star appeared on high,
The brightest man had ever seen!
It made the children whisper low
in puzzled awe (what did it mean?).
It made the wooly lambkins cry.
For far away a new-born lay,
warm-blanketed in straw and hay,
a lowly manger for his crib.
The cattle mooed, distraught and low,
to see the child. They did not know
it now was Christmas day!
Chanukah I think most dear
Of the feasts of all the year.
I could sit and watch all night
Every twinkling baby light.
Father lights the first one—green;
Hope it always seems to mean;
Hope and Strength to glow anew
In the heart of every Jew.
Jacob lights the blue for Truth.
Pink for Love is lit by Ruth.
Then the white one falls to me,
White that shines for Purity.
How the story of those days
Fills my wondering heart with praise!
And in every flame one sees
The heroic Maccabees.
"Hope" is the thing with feathers
by Emily Dickinson
Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul
And sings the tune without the words
And never stops at all,
And sweetest in the gale is heard;
And sore must be the storm
That could abash the little bird
That kept so many warm.
I’ve heard it in the chillest land
And on the strangest sea,
Yet never in extremity,
It asked a crumb of me.