Friday, June 15, 2007

Poetry Friday 54

My poetry offerings this week come from Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice and W B Yeats, whose birthday was this week.

The quality of mercy is not strain'd,
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath: it is twice bless'd;
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes:
'Tis mightiest in the mightiest; it becomes
The throned monarch better than his crown;
His sceptre shows the force of temporal power,
The attribute to awe and majesty,
Wherein doth sit the dread and fear of kings;
But mercy is above this sceptred sway,
It is enthroned in the hearts of kings,
It is an attribute to God himself,
And earthly power doth then show likest God's
When mercy seasons justice.

He Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven

Had I the heavens' embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half light,
I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.

I first heard Yeats' poem when it was used in the movie of Helene Hanff's 84 Charing Cross Road where it was recited by Anthony Hopklns. I fell in love with the poem and have been fond of Yeats' poetry ever since.

This week's Poetry Friday round-up is over at The Simple and the Ordinary.


Anonymous said...

I love these poems and will be adding them to my collection. They are rich, just rich!

Michele said...

I'm glad you like them !

Anonymous said...

As usual, we think alike. And on my "poem-a-day" calendar (which told me of his birthday and got me thinking), the poem for the weekend is a snippet from Yeats's "A Prayer for my Daughter," which I'd not read before. I have to find a quiet time to read and process the whole thing, but it's an interesting sort of poem for Yeats.

Michele said...

I like the opening two verses of A Prayer for my Daughter:

Once more the storm is howling, and half hid
Under this cradle-hood and coverlid
My child sleeps on. There is no obstacle
But Gregory's wood and one bare hill
Whereby the haystack- and roof-levelling wind,
Bred on the Atlantic, can be stayed;
And for an hour I have walked and prayed
Because of the great gloom that is in my mind.

I have walked and prayed for this young child an hour
And heard the sea-wind scream upon the tower,
And under the arches of the bridge, and scream
In the elms above the flooded stream;
Imagining in excited reverie
That the future years had come,
Dancing to a frenzied drum,
Out of the murderous innocence of the sea.

I can just picture that great storming wind...