Poetry

Here is a collection of poems I have written or particularly like.

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  Why a ship is called "SHE" -- Anon

  A ship is called "she" because there is always a great deal
  of "Bustle" around her and there is usually a gang of "men"
  about.
  She has a "waist" and stays in "shape" for a long time.
  It takes a lot of "paint" to keep her looking good and it is
  not the initial expense that breaks you, it is the "upkeep."
  It takes an experienced man to handle her correctly and,
  without a man at the helm, she is absolutely uncontrollable.
  She can be all "decked out."
  She shows her "top side," hides her "bottom," and when
  coming into port, always heads for the "buoys."
  Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806-1861)
          from Sonnets from the Portuguese

                    XLIII

      How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
      I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
      My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
      For the ends of Being and ideal Grace.
      I love thee to the level of everyday's
      Most quiet need, by sun and candlelight.
      I love thee freely, as men might strive for Right;
      I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise.
      I love thee with the passion put to use
      In my old griefs, and with my childhood's faith.
      I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
      With my lost saints,–I love thee with the breath,
      Smiles, tears, of all my life!–and, if God choose,
      I shall but love thee better after death.
    In the Workhouse:  Christmas Day
    by George Robert Sims

    It is Christmas Day in the Workhouse,
      And the cold bare walls are bright
    With garlands of green and holly,
      And the place is a pleasant sight:
    For with clean-washed hands and faces,
      In a long and hungry line
    The paupers sit at the tables
      For this is the hour they dine.

    And the guardians and their ladies,
      Although the wind is east,
    Have come in their furs and wrappers,
      To watch their charges feast;
    To smile and be condescending,
      Put pudding on pauper plates.
    To be hosts at the workhouse banquet
      They've paid for — with the rates.

    Oh, the paupers are meek and lowly
      With their "Thank'ee kindly, mum's!'"

    So long as they fill their stomachs,
      What matter it whence it comes!
    But one of the old men mutters,
      And pushes his plate aside:
    "Great God!" he cries, "but it chokes me!
      For this is the day she died!"

    The guardians gazed in horror,
      The master's face went white;
    "Did a pauper refuse the pudding?"
      "Could their ears believe aright?"
    Then the ladies clutched their husbands,
      Thinking the man would die,
    Struck by a bolt, or something,
      By the outraged One on high.

    But the pauper sat for a moment,
      Then rose 'mid a silence grim,
    For the others had ceased to chatter
      And trembled in every limb.
    He looked at the guardians' ladies,
      Then, eyeing their lords, he said,
    "I eat not the food of villains
      Whose hands are foul and red:

    "Whose victims cry for vengeance
      From their dank, unhallowed graves."
    "He's drunk!" said the workhouse master,
      "Or else he's mad and raves."
    "Not drunk or mad," cried the pauper,
      "But only a haunted beast,
    Who, torn by the hounds and mangled,
      Declines the vulture's feast.

    "I care not a curse for the guardians,
      And I won't be dragged away;
    Just let me have the fit out,
      It's only on Christmas Day
    That the black past comes to goad me,
      And prey on my burning brain;
    I'll tell you the rest in a whisper, —
      I swear I won't shout again.

    "Keep your hands off me, curse you!
      Hear me right out to the end.
    You come here to see how paupers
      The season of Christmas spend;.
    You come here to watch us feeding,
      As they watched the captured beast.
    Here's why a penniless pauper
      Spits on your paltry feast.

    "Do you think I will take your bounty,
      And let you smile and think
    You're doing a noble action
      With the parish's meat and drink?
    Where is my wife, you traitors —
      The poor old wife you slew?
    Yes, by the God above me,
      My Nance was killed by you!

    "Last winter my wife lay dying,
      Starved in a filthy den;
    I had never been to the parish, —
      I came to the parish then.
    I swallowed my pride in coming,
      For ere the ruin came,
    I held up my head as a trader,
      And I bore a spotless name.

    "I came to the parish, craving
      Bread for a starving wife,
    Bread for the woman who'd loved me
      Through fifty years of life;
    And what do you think they told me,
      Mocking my awful grief,
    That 'the House' was open to us,
      But they wouldn't give 'out relief'.

    "I slunk to the filthy alley —
      'Twas a cold, raw Christmas Eve —
    And the bakers' shops were open,
      Tempting a man to thieve;
    But I clenched my fists together,
      Holding my head awry,
    So I came to her empty-handed
      And mournfully told her why.

    "Then I told her 'the House' was open;
      She had heard of the ways of that,
    For her bloodless cheeks went crimson,
      and up in her rags she sat,
    Crying, 'Bide the Christmas here, John,
      We've never had one apart;
    I think I can bear the hunger, —
      The other would break my heart.'

    "All through that eve I watched her,
      Holding her hand in mine,
    Praying the Lord and weeping,
      Till my lips were salt as brine;
    I asked her once if she hungered,
      And as she answered 'No' ,
    The moon shone in at the window,
      Set in a wreath of snow.

    "Then the room was bathed in glory,
      And I saw in my darling's eyes
    The faraway look of wonder
      That comes when the spirit flies;
    And her lips were parched and parted,
      And her reason came and went.
    For she raved of our home in Devon,
      Where our happiest years were spent.

    "And the accents, long forgotten,
      Came back to the tongue once more.
    For she talked like the country lassie
      I woo'd by the Devon shore;
    Then she rose to her feet and trembled,
      And fell on the rags and moaned,
    And, 'Give me a crust — I'm famished —
      For the love of God!' she groaned.

    "I rushed from the room like a madman
      And flew to the workhouse gate,
    Crying, 'Food for a dying woman!'
      And the answer came, 'Too late.'
    They drove me away with curses;
      Then I fought with a dog in the street
    And tore from the mongrel's clutches
      A crust he was trying to eat.

    "Back through the filthy by-lanes!
      Back through the trampled slush!
    Up to the crazy garret,
      Wrapped in an awful hush;
    My heart sank down at the threshold,
      And I paused with a sudden thrill.
    For there, in the silv'ry moonlight,
      My Nance lay, cold and still.

    "Up to the blackened ceiling,
      The sunken eyes were cast —
    I knew on those lips, all bloodless,
      My name had been the last;
    She called for her absent husband —
      O God! had I but known! —
    Had called in vain, and, in anguish,
      Had died in that den — alone.

    "Yes, there, in a land of plenty,
      Lay a loving woman dead,
    Cruelly starved and murdered
      for a loaf of the parish bread;
    At yonder gate, last Christmas,
      I craved for a human life.
    You, who would feed us paupers,
      What of my murdered wife!

    "There, get ye gone to your dinners,
      Don't mind me in the least,
    Think of the happy paupers
      Eating your Christmas feast;
    And when you recount their blessings
      In your smug parochial way,
    Say what you did for me, too,
      Only last Christmas Day."
  

THE TRUE MEANING OF CHRISTMAS
Brian K. Walters

In todays day and time,
it's easy to lose sight,
of the true meaning of Christmas
and one special night.


When we go shopping,
We say How much will it cost?
Then the true meaning of Christmas,
Somehow becomes lost.


Amidst the tinsel, glitter
And ribbons of gold,
We forget about the child,
born on a night so cold.


The children look for Santa
In his big, red sleigh
Never thinking of the baby
Whose bed was made of hay.


In reality when we look into the night sky,
We don't see a sleigh
But a star, burning bright and high.


A faithful reminder,
Of that night so long ago,
And of the child we call Jesus,
Whose love, the world would know.