Rudyard Kipling (30 December 1865 – 18 January 1936)
Take of English earth as much
As either hand may rightly clutch.
In the taking of it breathe
Prayer for all who lie beneath—
Not the great nor well bespoke,
But the mere uncounted folk
Of whose life and death is none
Report or lamentation.
Lay that earth upon thy heart,
And thy sickness shall depart!
It shall sweeten and make whole
Fevered breath and festered soul;
It shall mightily restrain
Over-busy hand and brain;
It shall ease thy mortal strife
’Gainst the immortal woe of life,
Till thyself restored shall prove
By what grace the Heavens do move.
Take of English flowers these—
Spring’s full-facéd primroses,
Summer’s wild wide-hearted rose,
Autumn’s wall-flower of the close,
And, thy darkness to illume,
Winter’s bee-thronged ivy-bloom.
Seek and serve them where they bide
From Candlemas to Christmas-tide.
For these simples used aright
Shall restore a failing sight.
These shall cleanse and purify
Webbed and inward-turning eye;
These shall show thee treasure hid,
Thy familiar fields amid,
At thy threshold, on thy hearth,
Or about thy daily path;
And reveal (which is thy need)
Every man a King indeed!
Angel or Demon
Victor Hugo (26 February 1802 – 22 May 1885)
(“Tu domines notre âge; ange ou démon, qu’importe!”)
Angel or demon! thou,—whether of light
The minister, or darkness—still dost sway
This age of ours; thine eagle’s soaring flight
Bears us, all breathless, after it away.
The eye that from thy presence fain would stray,
Shuns thee in vain; thy mighty shadow thrown
Rests on all pictures of the living day,
And on the threshold of our time alone,
Dazzling, yet sombre, stands thy form, Napoleon!
Thus, when the admiring stranger’s steps explore
The subject-lands that ‘neath Vesuvius be,
Whether he wind along the enchanting shore
To Portici from fair Parthenope,
Or, lingering long in dreamy reverie,
O’er loveliest Ischia’s od’rous isle he stray,
Wooed by whose breath the soft and am’rous sea
Seems like some languishing sultana’s lay,
A voice for very sweets that scarce can win its way.
Him, whether Paestum’s solemn fane detain,
Shrouding his soul with meditation’s power;
Or at Pozzuoli, to the sprightly strain
Of tarantella danced ‘neath Tuscan tower,
Listening, he while away the evening hour;
Or wake the echoes, mournful, lone and deep,
Of that sad city, in its dreaming bower
By the volcano seized, where mansions keep
The likeness which they wore at that last fatal sleep;
Or be his bark at Posillippo laid,
While as the swarthy boatman at his side
Chants Tasso’s lays to Virgil’s pleased shade,
Ever he sees, throughout that circuit wide,
From shaded nook or sunny lawn espied,
From rocky headland viewed, or flow’ry shore,
From sea, and spreading mead alike descried,
The Giant Mount, tow’ring all objects o’er,
And black’ning with its breath th’ horizon evermore!