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Ghosts of Past Time

Some were builders, and they cry, “Build like me!” And some were wiseacres, and they demand, “Think like me!” And some were poets, and they whisper, “Sing like me!”

I throw you off, O you ghosts of past time!
As for me,
I will work along your tiresome squares and cubes,
But I will not build like you, O builders!
I will eat your nauseous wisdoms, O wiseacres,
But I will not think like you!
I will move in your deepest rhythms,
But I will not sing like you, O poets!
Like myself only will I think and build and sing—
And not like any of you!
Even you, my veritable brothers
Who died but yesterday,
I am not thinking of you—
But of some one to be born tomorrow.

Martha Foote Crow


The choirs of Heaven are tokened in a harp-string,
A pigeon's egg is as crafty as the stars.
My heart is shaken by the crying of the lapwing,
And yet the world is full of foolish wars.

There's gold on the whin-bush every summer morning.
There's struggling discourse in the grunting of a pig:
Yet churls will be scheming, and churls will be scorning,
And half the dim world is ruled by thimblerig.

The luck of God is in two strangers meeting,
But the gates of hell are in the city street
For him whose soul is not in his own keeping
And love a silver string upon his feet.

My heart is the seed of time, my veins are star-dust,
My spirit is the axle of God's dreams.
Why should my august soul be worn or care-tost?—
Lo, God is but a lamp, and I his gleam.

There's little to be known, and that not kindly,
But an ant will burrow through a five-inch wall;
There's nothing rises up or falls down blindly:

That's a poor share of wisdom, but it's all.
T. D. O'Bolger

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I gave you everything:
My sorrows amused you and my fame.
You gave me everything again:
Care, suffering, shame.

I gave you everything;
I let you daub my love with filthy lust.
You gave me everything again:
Ashes and bitter dust.

I gave you everything:
Children, toil, gold.
You gave me everything again—
The purse of life is empty that I hold.

I gave you everything:
With jewels of song I made and left you fair.
You gave me everything again:
Old age, despair.

Now there is nothing more that I can give—
Useless to me now anything but the grave.
I shall pass out to the night, but you can live,
Unless you have flung away the things I gave.


Yesterday I borrowed thirty silver pence
From Judas: he gave them with a grin.
Today, O Christ, I kneel before your cross.

Yesterday the Magdalen came to me and said,
“I am starving.” I answered, “First, to bed.”
Today, O Christ, I kneel before your cross.

Yesterday the Virgin passed sorrowing in the street:

I flung a brick at her. Then, as was meet,
I bore her to the house of Caiphas.
Today, O Christ, I kneel before your cross.

Yesterday Pilate asked me for water: I must go.
He beat me, for the ewer trembled so.
Today, O Christ, I kneel before your cross.

Yesterday, today, tomorrow, I am vile:
You hang there motionless and dead long while—
In your eyes, nothing; on your lips, a smile.
The world is rotten: would 'twould crash and pile
Upon me kneeling yet before your cross!

Blind People


Each day when I try to cross the street,
I find I cannot go my way:
The street is too crowded with blind people.

They jostle me into gutters,
They fling me curses from livid lips,
They strike me with their heavy sticks—
They, the blind, hating all who see.

Yet they huddle and press upon me,
Fawning and saying sweet false things—
Whenever they would borrow my eyesight
To look for some penny lost in the gutter.

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They went to a field, and there lay two swords and two ploughshares;

And the first man said, “Plow, brother.”

But the second man frowned, and growled, tossing his head,

“We must kill each other.”

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