Surprised by Joy by William Wordsworth Surprised by joy -impatient as the wind I turned to share the transport - Oh! with whom But Thee, deep buried in the silent tomb, That spot which no vicissitude can find? Love, faithful love, recalled thee to my mind - But how could I forget thee? Through what power, Even for the least division of an hour, Have I been so beguiled as to be blind To my most grievous loss? - That thought's return Was the worst pang that sorrow ever bore Save one, one only, when I stood forlorn, Knowing my heart's best treasure was no more; That neither present time, nor years unborn, Could to my sight that heavenly face restore. Funeral Blues by William H. Auden Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone, Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone, Silence the pianos and with muffled drum Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come. Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead Scribbling on the sky the message He Is dead, Put crêpe bows round the white necks of the public doves, Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves. He was my North, my South, my East and West, My working week and my Sunday rest, My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song; I thought that love would last forever: I was wrong. The stars are not wanted now: put out every one; Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun; Pour away the ocean and seep up the wood; For nothing now can ever come to any good. Wanting to Die by Anne Sexton Since you ask, most days I cannot remember. Still-born, they don't always die, I walk in my clothing, unmarked by that voyage. but dazzled, they can't forget a drug so sweet Then the almost unnameable lust returns. that even children would look on and smile. Even then I have nothing against life. To thrust all that life under your tongue!-- I know well the grass blades you mention, that, all by itself, becomes a passion. the furniture you have placed under the sun. Death's a sad Bone; bruised, you'd say, But suicides have a special language. and yet she waits for me, year after year, Like carpenters they want to know which tools. to so delicately undo an old wound, They never ask why build. to empty my breath from its bad prison. Twice I have so simply declared myself, Balanced there, suicides sometimes meet, have possessed the enemy, eaten the enemy, raging at the fruit, a pumped-up moon, have taken on his craft, his magic. leaving the bread they mistook for a kiss, In this way, heavy and thoughtful, leaving the page of the book carelessly open, warmer than oil or water, something unsaid, the phone off the hook I have rested, drooling at the mouth-hole. and the love, whatever it was, an infection. I did not think of my body at needle point. Even the cornea and the leftover urine were gone. Suicides have already betrayed the body. Lady Lazarus by Sylvia Plath I have done it again. Dying One year in every ten Is an art, like everything else. I manage it-- I do it exceptionally well. A sort of walking miracle, my skin I do it so it feels like hell. Bright as a Nazi lampshade, I do it so it feels real. My right foot I guess you could say I've a call. A paperweight, It's easy enough to do it in a cell. My face featureless, fine It's easy enough to do it and stay put. Jew linen. It's the theatrical Peel off the napkin Comeback in broad day O my enemy. To the same place, the same face, the same brute Do I terrify?-- Amused shout: The nose, the eye pits, the full set of teeth? 'A miracle!' The sour breath That knocks me out. Will vanish in a day. There is a charge Soon, soon the flesh For the eyeing of my scars, there is a charge The grave cave ate will be For the hearing of my heart-- At home on me It really goes. And I a smiling woman. And there is a charge, a very large charge I am only thirty. For a word or a touch And like the cat I have nine times to die. Or a bit of blood This is Number Three. Or a piece of my hair or my clothes. What a trash So, so, Herr Doktor. To annihilate each decade. So, Herr Enemy. What a million filaments. I am your opus, The peanut-crunching crowd I am your valuable, Shoves in to see The pure gold baby Them unwrap me hand and foot-- That melts to a shriek. The big strip tease. I turn and burn. Gentlemen, ladies Do not think I underestimate your great concern. These are my hands Ash, ash-- My knees. You poke and stir. I may be skin and bone, Flesh, bone, there is nothing there-- Nevertheless, I am the same, identical woman. A cake of soap, The first time it happened I was ten. A wedding ring, It was an accident. A gold filling. The second time I meant Herr god, Herr Lucifer To last it out and not come back at all. Beware I rocked shut Beware. As a seashell. Out of the ash They had to call and call I rise with my red hair And pick the worms off me like sticky pearls. And I eat men like air. Dying by Robert Pinsky Nothing to be said about it, and everything --- The change of changes, closer or further away: The Golden Retriever next door, Gussie, is dead, Like Sandy, the Crocker Spaniel from three doors down Who died when I was small; and every day Things that were in my memory fade and die. Phrases die out: first, everyone forgets What doornails are; then after certain decades As a dead metaphor, “dead as a doornail” flickers And fades away. But someone I know is dying--- And though one might say glibly, “everyone is,” The different pace makes the difference absolute. The tiny invisible spores in the air we breathe, That settle harmlessly on our drinking water And on our skin, happen to come together With certain conditions on the forest floor, Or even a shady corner of the lawn— And overnight the fleshy, pale stalks gather, The colorless growth without a leaf or flower; And around the stalks, the summer grass keeps growing With steady pressure, like the insistent whiskers That grow between shaves on a face, t he nails Growing and dying from the toes and fingers At their own humble pace, oblivious As the nerveless moths, that live their night or two— Thought like a moth a bright soul keeps on beating, Bored and impatient in the monster’s moth. Out, Out by Robert Frost The buzz saw snarled and rattled in the yard And made dust and dropped stove-length sticks of wood, Sweet-scented stuff when the breeze drew across it. And from there those that lifted eyes could count Five mountains ranges one behind the order Under the sunset far into Vermont. And the saw snarled and rattled, snarled and rattled, As it ran light, or had to bear a load. And nothing happened: day was all but done. Call it a day, wish they might have said To please the boy by giving him the half hour That a boy counts so much when saved from work. His sister stood beside then in her apron To tell them “Supper.” At the word, the saw, As if to prove saws knew what supper meant, Leaped out at the boy’s or seemed to leap— He must have given the hand. However it was, Neither refused the meeting. But the hand! The boy’s first outcry was rueful laugh, As he swung toward them holding up the hand, Half in appeal, but half as if to keep The life from spilling. Then the boy saw all— Since he was old enough to know, big boy Doing a man’s work, though a child at heart— He saw all spoiled. “Don’t let him cut my hand off— The doctor, when he comes. Don’t let him, sister!” So. But the hand was gone already. The doctor put him in the dark of ether. He lay and puffed his lips out with his breath. And then—the watcher at his pulse took fright. No one believed. They listened at his heart. Little—less—nothing!—and that ended it. No more to build on there. And they, since they Were not the one dead, turned to their affairs.