Poetry and Prose
for Memorization and Reading Aloud

Fall 2001

1. Limericks

There was a young girl in the Choir
Whose voice soared higher and higher.
Till one Sunday night
It went right out of sight,
And they found it next day in the spire.

There was a young curate of Kew
Who kept a tom-cat in a pew.
He taught it to speak
Alphabetical Greek
But it never got further than £g.

There was an old man of the Nore,
The same shape behind as before.
They did not know where
To offer a chair,
So he had to sit down on the floor.

There was an old farmer of Crecy,
Who said to his wife, ¡§It is messy
And besides it is rude
To serve eggs in the nude.
In their shells they are modest and dressy."

2. After Love
Sara Teasdale   American (1884-1933)

There is no magic any more,
 We meet as other people do,
You work no miracle for me
 Nor I for you.

You were the wind and I the sea ¡V
 There is no splendor any more,
I have grown listless as the pool
 Beside the shore.

But though the pool is safe from storm
 And from the tide has found surcease,
It grows more bitter than the sea,
 For all its peace.

3. Feast
Edna St. Vincent Millay   American (1892-1950)

I drank at every vine.
  The last was like the first.
I came upon no wine
  So wonderful as thirst.

I gnawed at every root.
  I ate of every plant.
I came upon no fruit
  So wonderful as want.

Feed the grape and bean
  To the vintner and monger;
I will lie down lean
  With my thirst and my hunger.

4. Quote from: Alexander Solzhenitsyn   Russian (1918- )

If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously
committing evil deeds and it were necessary only to
separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But
the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of
every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece
of his own heart?

5. A Door Just Opened on a Street
Emily Dickinson   American (1830-1886)

A door just opened on a street ¡V
I, lost, was passing by ¡V
An instant's width of warmth disclosed
And wealth, and company.

The door as sudden shut, and I,
I, lost, was passing by,¡V
Lost doubly, but by contrast most,
Enlightening misery.

6. Between Two Hills
Carl Sandburg   American (1878-1967)

Between two hills
The old town stands.
The houses loom
And the roofs and trees
And the dusk and the dark,
The damp and the dew
   Are there.

The prayers are said
And the people rest
For sleep is there
And the touch of dreams
   Is over all.

7. Quotes from: A Brief History of Time (1988)
Stephen Hawking   British (1942- )

¡§Einstein once asked the question: "How much choice
did God have in constructing the universe?" Even if
there is only one possible unified theory, it is just a set
of rules and equations. What is it that breathes fire into
the equations and makes a universe for them to describe?...

Why does the universe go to all the bother of existing?
Is the unified theory so compelling that it brings about
its own existence? Or does it need a creator, and, if so,
does he have any other effect on the universe?
And who created him?¡¨

8. The Land of Nod
Robert Louis Stevenson   Scottish (1850-1894)

From breakfast on through all the day
At home among my friends I stay,
But every night I go abroad
Afar into the land of Nod.

All by myself I have to go,
With none to tell me what to do ¡V
All alone beside the streams
And up the mountain-sides of dreams.

The strangest things are there for me,
Both things to eat and things to see,
And many frightening sights abroad
Till morning in the land of Nod.

Try as I like to find the way,
I never can get back by day,
Nor can remember plain and clear
The curious music that I hear.

9. She Tells Her Love
Robert Graves   English (1895-1985)

She tells her love while half asleep,
In the dark hours,
With half words whispered low:
As Earth stirs in her winter sleep
And puts out grass and flowers
Despite the snow,
Despite the falling snow.

10. Two Years Later
William Butler Yeats   Irish (1865-1939)

Has no one said those daring
Kind eyes should be more learn'd?
Or warned you how despairing
The moths are when they are burned?
I could have warned you; but you are young,
So we speak a different tongue.
O you will take whatever's offered
And dream that all the world's a friend,
Suffer as your mother suffered,
Be as broken in the end.
But I am old and you are young,
And I speak a barbarous tongue.

11. Tired Tim
Walter De la Mare   
English (1873-1956)

Poor tired Tim! It's sad for him.
He lags the long bright morning through,
Ever so tired of nothing to do;
He moons and mopes the livelong day,
Nothing to think about, nothing to say;
Up to bed with his candle to creep,
Too tired to yawn; too tired to sleep:
Poor tired Tim! It's sad for him.

12. Quotes from: Walden (1854)
Henry David Thoreau   American (1817-1862)

¡§The finest qualities of our nature, like the
bloomon the fruits, can be preserved only
with the most delicate handling. Yet we do not
treat ourselves nor one another thus tenderly.¡¨

¡§I found in myself, and still find an instinct toward
a higher, or, as it is named, spiritual life, as do most
men, and another toward a primitive rank and savage
one, and I reverence them both. I love the wild not
less than the good.¡¨

¡§What if all ponds were shallow? Would it not react
on the minds of men? I am thankful that this pond was
made deep and pure for a symbol. While men believe in
the infinite some ponds will be thought to be bottomless.¡¨

13. yes is a pleasant country
E. E. (Edwin Estlin) Cummings   American (1894-1962)

yes is a pleasant country:
if¡¦s wintry
(my lovely)
let¡¦s open the year

both is the very weather
(not either)
my treasure,
when violets appear

love is a deeper season
than reason,
my sweet one
(and april¡¦s where we¡¦re)

14. Aftermath
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow   American (1807-1882)

When the Summer fields are mown,
When the birds are fledged and flown,
    And the dry leaves strew the path;
With the falling of the snow,
With the cawing of the crow,
Once again the fields we mow
   And gather in the aftermath.
Not the sweet, new grass with flowers
Is the harvesting of ours;
    Not the upland clover bloom;
But the rowen mixed with weeds,
Tangled tufts from marsh and meads,
Where the poppy drops its seeds
    In the silence and the gloom.

15. Interior
Dorothy Parker   American (1893-1967)

Her mind lives in a quiet room,
  A narrow room, and tall,
With pretty lamps to quench the gloom
  And mottoes on the wall.

There all the things are waxen neat
  And set in decorous lines;
And there are posies, round and sweet,
  And little, straightened vines.

Her mind lives tidily, apart
  From cold and noise and pain,
And bolts the door against her heart,
  Out wailing in the rain.

16. Deserted
Madison Cawein   American (1868-1914)

The old house leans upon a tree
Like some old man upon a staff:
The night wind in its ancient porch
Sounds like a hollow laugh.

The heaven is wrapped in flying clouds
As grandeur cloaks itself in gray:
The starlight flitting in and out,
Glints like a lanthorn ray.

The dark is full of whispers. Now
A fox-hound howls: and through the night,
Like some old ghost from out its grave,
The moon comes misty white.

17. Quote from: Ernest Hemingway
American (1899-1961)

¡§Why did they make birds so delicate and fine as those
sea swallows when the ocean can be so cruel? She is
kind and very beautiful. But she can be so cruel and
it comes so suddenly and such birds that fly, dipping
and hunting, with their small sad voices are made too
delicately for the sea.¡¨

18. Song in the Songless
George Meredith   English (1828-1909)

They have no song, the sedges dry,
  And still they sing.
It is within my breast they sing,
  As I pass by.
Within my breast they touch a string,
  They wake a sigh.
There is but sound of sedges dry;
  In me they sing.

19. I Loved You
Alexander Sergeyevich Pushkin   Russian (1799-1837)
Translated by Genia Gurarie

I loved you – and I probably still do,
And for a while the feeling may remain,
But let my love no longer trouble you;
I do not wish to cause you any pain.

I loved you – and the hopelessness I knew,
The jealousy, the shyness – though in vain,
All made a love so tender and so true,
As may God grant you to be loved again.

20. To a Friend
Amy Lowell   American (1874-1925)

I ask but one thing of you, only one,
  That always you will be my dream of you;
  That never shall I wake to find untrue
All this I have believed and rested on,
Forever vanished, like a vision gone
  Out into the night. Alas, how few
  There are who strike in us a chord we knew
Existed, but so seldom heard its tone
  We tremble at the half-forgotten sound.
The world is full of rude awakenings
  And heaven-born castles shattered to the ground,
Yet still our human longing vainly clings
  To a belief in beauty through all wrongs.
  O stay your hand, and leave my heart its songs!