PHILOSOPHICAL POEMS


"The World"

by William Wordsworth [1770-1850]

The world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers:
Little we see in Nature that is ours;
We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon.
This sea that bares her bosom to the moon;
The winds that will be howling at all hours,
And are up-gather'd now like sleeping flowers;
For this, for everything, we are out of tune;
It moves us not.--Great God! I'd rather be
A Pagan suckled in a creed outworn;
So might I, standing on this pleasant lea,
Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn;
Have sight of Proteus rising from the sea;
Or hear old Triton blow his wreathed horn.

 

"On Gazing into a Mirror"

by Li Po

Follow Tao, and nothing is old or new.
Lose it, and the ruins of age return.

Someone smiling back in the mirror,
hair white as the frost-stained glass,

you admit lament is empty, ask how
reflections get so worn and withered.

How speak of peach and plum: timeless
South Mountain blazes in the end?

 


"Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening"

by Robert Frost


Whose woods these are I think I know,

His house is in the village, though;

He will not see me stopping here

To watch his woods fill up with snow.

 

My little horse must think it queer

To stop without a farmhouse near

Between the woods and frozen lake

The darkest evening of the year.

 

He gives his harness bells a shake

To ask if there is some mistake.

The only other sound’s the sweep

Of easy wind and downy flake.

 

The woods are lonely, dark, and deep,

But I have promises to keep,

And miles to go before I sleep,

And miles to go before I sleep.

 

"Mexico"

Once each year
After a warm day in April
When darkness comes to the desert
Uninvited but planning to spend the night
Something hits me like a shovel
And I am stunned into believing
Anything is possible

There is no overture to frenzy
I simply look up and see Scorpio
Most dangerous of friends
With the last two stars in his tail
Blinking like lights at a railroad crossing
While in one claw he holds the top
Of a mountain in Mexico

And suddenly I know
Everything I need is waiting for me
South of here in another country
And I have been walking through empty
Rooms and talking to furniture

Then I say to myself
Why would I stay home and listen to Bach
Such precision could have happened
To anyone to an infinite number of monkeys with harpsichords

And next morning I start south
With my last chances flapping their wings
While birds of passage stream over me
In the opposite direction

I never find what I am looking for
And each time I return older
With my ugliness intact
But with the knowledge that if it isn’t there
In the darkness under Scorpio
It isn’t anywhere

Richard Sheldon (1976)


Further Philosophical Poems:

Stephen Dunn: "The Metaphysicians of South Jersey"

Keith Schlegel: Three Jonah Poems
Duane Locke: "Circe"
Frank Ebersole: "Conversation With a Dead Philosopher"

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