No man is an island,
Entire of itself,
Every man is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manor of thy friend’s
Or of thine own were:
Any man’s death diminishes me,
Because I am involved in mankind,
And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls;
It tolls for thee.
No Man Is An Island
I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.
A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the earth’s sweet flowing breast;
A tree that looks at God all day,
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;
A tree that may in Summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair;
Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain.
Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.
The laws of God, the laws of man,
He may keep that will and can;
Not I: let God and man decree
Laws for themselves and not for me;
And if my ways are not as theirs
Let them mind their own affairs.
Their deeds I judge and much condemn,
Yet when did I make laws for them?
Please yourselves, say I, and they
Need only look the other way.
But no, they will not; they must still
Wrest their neighbor to their will,
And make me dance as they desire
With jail and gallows and hell-fire.
And how am I to face the odds
Of man’s bedevilment and God’s?
I, a stranger and afraid
In a world I never made.
They will be master, right or wrong;
Though both are foolish, both are strong.
And since, my soul, we cannot fly
To Saturn nor to Mercury,
Keep we must, if keep we can,
These foreign laws of God and man.
The Laws of God, The Laws of Man
A puddock sat by the lochan’s brim,
An’ he thocht there was never a puddock like him.
He sat on his hurdies, he waggled his legs,
An’ cockit his heid as he glowered throu’ the seggs.
The bigsy wee cratur’ was feelin’ that prood,
He gapit his mou’ an’ he croakit oot lood:
“Gin ye’d a’ like tae see a richt puddock,” quo’ he,
“Ye’ll never, I’ll sweer, get a better nor me.
I’ve fem’lies an’ wives an’ a weel-plenished hame,
Wi’ drink for my thrapple an’ meat for my wame.
The lasses aye thocht me a fine strappin’ chiel,
An’ I ken I’m a rale bonny singer as weel.
I’m nae gaun tae blaw, but th’ truth I maun tell-
I believe I’m the verra MacPuddock himsel’.” …
A heron was hungry an’ needin’ tae sup,
Sae he nabbit th’ puddock and gollup’t him up;
Syne runkled his feathers: “A peer thing,” quo’ he,
“But – puddocks is nae fat they eesed tae be.”
The prince leans to the girl in scarlet heels,
Her green eyes slant, hair flaring in a fan
Of silver as the rondo slows; now reels
Begin on tilted violins to span
The whole revolving tall glass palace hall
Where guests slide gliding into light like wine;
Rose candles flicker on the lilac wall
Reflecting in a million flagons’ shine,
And glided couples all in whirling trance
Follow holiday revel begun long since,
Until near twelve the strange girl all at once
Guilt-stricken halts, pales, clings to the prince
As amid the hectic music and cocktail talk
She hears the caustic ticking of the clock.
We wear the mask that grins and lies,
It hides our cheeks and shades our eyes,–
This debt we pay to human guile;
With torn and bleeding hearts we smile,
And mouth with myriad subtleties.
Why should the world be overwise,
In counting all our tears and sighs?
Nay, let them only see us, while
We wear the mask.
We smile, but, O great Christ, our cries
To thee from tortured souls arise.
We sing, but oh the clay is vile
Beneath our feet, and long the mile;
But let the world dream otherwise,
We wear the mask!
We Wear The Mask
a garden among the flames!
My heart can take on
a meadow for gazelles,
a cloister for monks,
For the idols, sacred ground,
Ka’ba for the circling pilgrim,
the tables of the Torah,
the scrolls of the Qur’án.
I profess the religion of love;
wherever its caravan turns along the way,
that is the belief,
the faith I keep.
A Garden Among the Flames
(translation by Michael A. Sells)