Not marble nor the gilded monuments

William Shakespeare

Not marble nor the gilded monuments
Of princes shall outlive this powerful rhyme,
But you shall shine more bright in these contents
Than unswept stone besmeared with sluttish time.
When wasteful war shall statues overturn,
And broils root out the work of masonry,
Nor Mars his sword nor war’s quick fire shall burn
The living record of your memory.
’Gainst death and all-oblivious enmity
Shall you pace forth; your praise shall still find room
Even in the eyes of all posterity
That wear this world out to the ending doom.
So, till the Judgement that yourself arise,
You live in this, and dwell in lovers’ eyes.

Sonnet 55


Sailing To Byzantium

William Butler Yeats

I
That is no country for old men. The young
In one another’s arms, birds in the trees
—Those dying generations—at their song,
The salmon-falls, the mackerel-crowded seas,
Fish, flesh, or fowl, commend all summer long
Whatever is begotten, born, and dies.
Caught in that sensual music all neglect
Monuments of unageing intellect.

II
An aged man is but a paltry thing,
A tattered coat upon a stick, unless
Soul clap its hands and sing, and louder sing
For every tatter in its mortal dress,
Nor is there singing school but studying
Monuments of its own magnificence;
And therefore I have sailed the seas and come
To the holy city of Byzantium.

III
O sages standing in God’s holy fire
As in the gold mosaic of a wall,
Come from the holy fire, perne in a gyre,
And be the singing-masters of my soul.
Consume my heart away; sick with desire
And fastened to a dying animal
It knows not what it is; and gather me
Into the artifice of eternity.

IV
Once out of nature I shall never take
My bodily form from any natural thing,
But such a form as Grecian goldsmiths make
Of hammered gold and gold enamelling
To keep a drowsy Emperor awake;
Or set upon a golden bough to sing
To lords and ladies of Byzantium
Of what is past, or passing, or to come.


At the Un-National Monument along the Canadian Border

William E. Stafford

This is the field where the battle did not happen,
where the unknown soldier did not die.
This is the field where grass joined hands,
where no monument stands,
and the only heroic thing is the sky.

Birds fly here without any sound,
unfolding their wings across the open.
No people killed—or were killed—on this ground
hallowed by neglect and an air so tame
that people celebrate it by forgetting its name.


Washington’s Monument, February, 1885

Walt Whitman

Ah, not this marble, dead and cold:
Far from its base and shaft expanding—the round zones circling,
comprehending,

Thou, Washington, art all the world’s, the continents’ entire—
not yours alone, America,

Europe’s as well, in every part, castle of lord or laborer’s cot,
Or frozen North, or sultry South—the African’s—the Arab’s in
his tent,

Old Asia’s there with venerable smile, seated amid her ruins;
(Greets the antique the hero new? ‘tis but the same—the heir
legitimate, continued ever,

The indomitable heart and arm—proofs of the never-broken
line,

Courage, alertness, patience, faith, the same—e’en in defeat
defeated not, the same:)

Wherever sails a ship, or house is built on land, or day or night,
Through teeming cities’ streets, indoors or out, factories or farms,
Now, or to come, or past—where patriot wills existed or exist,
Wherever Freedom, pois’d by Toleration, sway’d by Law,
Stands or is rising thy true monument.


Ancient Fragment on the Theory of Ruin Value

Michaela Coplen

I will erect no monument, engrave no marble stone,
For mountains have been whittled down to mark forgotten dead—
the earth reclaims their [ ], the stones remember in our stead;
I will erect no monument to bury years of bone.
And I will build no edifice that, ivy-overgrown,
might urge the young to follow where their ancestors once tread—
no mystifying megalith that leaves too much unsaid—
no, I will build no edifice to last when [ ].

But I will write these lines, and through my verse confide
our story here—in strains more soft and deft
than monument or edifice:
Here we lived lost, loved, and [ ]
—when all that’s left
is this.


Ready to Kill

by Carl Sandburg

TEN minutes now I have been looking at this.
I have gone by here before and wondered about it.
This is a bronze memorial of a famous general
Riding horseback with a flag and a sword and a revolver on him.
I want to smash the whole thing into a pile of junk to be hauled away to the scrap yard. 5
I put it straight to you,
After the farmer, the miner, the shop man, the factory hand, the fireman and the teamster,
Have all been remembered with bronze memorials,
Shaping them on the job of getting all of us
Something to eat and something to wear,
When they stack a few silhouettes
Against the sky
Here in the park,
And show the real huskies that are doing the work of the world, and feeding people instead of butchering them,
Then maybe I will stand here
And look easy at this general of the army holding a flag in the air,
And riding like hell on horseback
Ready to kill anybody that gets in his way,
Ready to run the red blood and slush the bowels of men all over the sweet new grass of the prairie.

(Chicago Poems, 1916)

 


Porridge

Spike Milligan

Why is there no monument
To Porridge in our land?
It it’s good enough to eat,
It’s good enough to stand!

On a plinth in London
A statue we should see
Of Porridge made in Scotland
Signed, “Oatmeal, O.
B.
E.

(By a young dog of three)


Humility

Robert William Service

My virtues in Carara stone
Cut carefully you all my scan;
Beneath I lie, a fetid bone,
The marble worth more than the man.

If on my pure tomb they should grave
My vices,–how the folks would grin!
And say with sympathetic wave:
“Like us he was a man of sin.”

And somehow he consoled thereby,
Knowing they may, though Hades bent,
When finally they come to die,
Enjoy a snow-white monument.

And maybe it is just as well
When we from life and lust are riven,
That though our souls should sink to hell
Our tombs point: Destination Heaven!


To The Stone-Cutters

Robinson Jeffers

Stone-cutters fighting time with marble, you foredefeated
Challengers of oblivion
Eat cynical earnings, knowing rock splits, records fall down,
The square-limbed Roman letters
Scale in the thaws, wear in the rain.
The poet as well
Builds his monument mockingly;
For man will be blotted out, the blithe earth die, the brave sun
Die blind and blacken to the heart:
Yet stones have stood for a thousand years, and pained thoughts found
The honey of peace in old poems.


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