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Favourite Poems


THE FOOL'S PRAYER
by: Edward Rowland Sill (1841-1887)


    • HE royal feast was done; the King
      Sought some new sport to banish care,
      And to his jester cried: "Sir Fool,
      Kneel now, and make for us a prayer!"

      The jester doffed his cap and bells,
      And stood the mocking court before;
      They could not see the bitter smile
      Behind the painted grin he wore.

      He bowed his head, and bent his knee
      Upon the Monarch's silken stool;
      His pleading voice arose: "O Lord,
      Be merciful to me, a fool!

      "No pity, Lord, could change the heart
      From red with wrong to white as wool;
      The rod must heal the sin: but Lord,
      Be merciful to me, a fool!

      "'T is not by guilt the onward sweep
      Of truth and right, O Lord, we stay;
      'T is by our follies that so long
      We hold the earth from heaven away.

      "These clumsy feet, still in the mire,
      Go crushing blossoms without end;
      These hard, well-meaning hands we thrust
      Among the heart-strings of a friend.

      "The ill-timed truth we might have kept--
      Who knows how sharp it pierced and stung?
      The word we had not sense to say--
      Who knows how grandly it had rung!

      "Our faults no tenderness should ask.
      The chastening stripes must cleanse them all;
      But for our blunders -- oh, in shame
      Before the eyes of heaven we fall.

      "Earth bears no balsam for mistakes;
      Men crown the knave, and scourge the tool
      That did his will; but Thou, O Lord,
      Be merciful to me, a fool!"

      The room was hushed; in silence rose
      The King, and sought his gardens cool,
      And walked apart, and murmured low,
      "Be merciful to me, a fool!"
"The Fool's Prayer" is reprinted from The Little Book of American Poets: 1787-1900. Ed. Jessie B. Rittenhouse. Cambridge: Riverside Press, 1915.

Read more at http://www.poetry-archive.com/s/the_fools_prayer.html#RWf56J1li6q7tgyx.99
 

DATo

Active Member
gonewiththewind,

Would you believe that I memorized The Raven and The Fool's Prayer when I was 14 just for the hell of it? I know, I was one sick puppy. To my amazement I still remember it almost word perfect. Can't do that anymore with anything new. Have trouble remembering my phone number half the time these days. [:- (

What do you think of Poe's poem The Bells? It is universally considered the finest "sound" poem in the English language.
 

ChaosTheory

Active Member
I like "The Bells", it's a fantastic exercise in sound and alliteration/assonance.

But, my favorite Poe poem would have to be "The Haunted Palace"

In the greenest of our valleys
By good angels tenanted,
Once a fair and stately palace-
Radiant palace- reared its head.
In the monarch Thought's dominion-
It stood there!
Never seraph spread a pinion
Over fabric half so fair!

Banners yellow, glorious, golden,
On its roof did float and flow,
(This- all this- was in the olden
Time long ago,)
And every gentle air that dallied,
In that sweet day,
Along the ramparts plumed and pallid,
A winged odor went away.

Wanderers in that happy valley,
Through two luminous windows, saw
Spirits moving musically,
To a lute's well-tuned law,
Round about a throne where, sitting
(Porphyrogene!)
In state his glory well-befitting,
The ruler of the realm was seen.

And all with pearl and ruby glowing
Was the fair palace door,
Through which came flowing, flowing, flowing,
And sparkling evermore,
A troop of Echoes, whose sweet duty
Was but to sing,
In voices of surpassing beauty,
The wit and wisdom of their king.

But evil things, in robes of sorrow,
Assailed the monarch's high estate.
(Ah, let us mourn!- for never morrow
Shall dawn upon him desolate!)
And round about his home the glory
That blushed and bloomed,
Is but a dim-remembered story
Of the old time entombed.

And travellers, now, within that valley,
Through the red-litten windows see
Vast forms, that move fantastically
To a discordant melody,
While, like a ghastly rapid river,
Through the pale door
A hideous throng rush out forever
And laugh- but smile no more.
 

Daphne du Bois

New Member
I've recently discovered Wendy Cope, and generally I adore everything she has written that I've had a chance to read so far. Her poetry is so witty and spot-on! But today I saw this one, and found it especially charming:

After the lunch

On Waterloo Bridge, where we said our goodbyes,
The weather conditions bring tears to my eyes.
I wipe them away with a black woolly glove
And try not to notice I’ve fallen in love.

On Waterloo Bridge I am trying to think:
This is nothing. You’re high on the charm and the drink.
But the juke-box inside me is playing a song
That says something different. And when was it wrong?

On Waterloo Bridge with the wind in my hair
I am tempted to skip. You’re a fool. I don’t care.
The head does its best but the heart is the boss —
I admit it before I am halfway across.
 
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