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LITERATURE OUT LOUD

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How Do I Love Thee?

by Elizabeth Barrett Browning


How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.

I love thee to the depth and breadth and height

My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight

For the ends of Being and ideal Grace.

I love thee to the level of everyday's

Most quiet need, by sun and candlelight.

I love thee freely, as men strive for Right;

I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise.

I love thee with the passion put to use

In my old griefs, and with my childhood's faith.

I love thee with a love I seemed to lose

With my lost saints, I love thee with the breath,

Smiles, tears, of all my life! and, if God choose,

I shall but love thee better after death.

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How Do I Love Thee
by
Elizabeth Barrett Browning
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Daffodils
by William Wordsworth

I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.
Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.
The waves beside them danced, but they
Out-did the sparkling leaves in glee;
A poet could not be but gay,
In such a jocund company!
I gazed—and gazed—but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:
For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.

--

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Daffodils
by
William Wordsworth
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]

 


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Ozymandias
by Percy Bysshe Shelley

I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: "Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert . . . Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed:
And on the pedestal these words appear:
'My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!'
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away."

--

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Ozymanidas 
by
Percy Bysshe Shelley
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Chicago

BY
Carl Sandburg

Hog Butcher for the World,
   Tool Maker, Stacker of Wheat,
   Player with Railroads and the Nation's Freight Handler;
   Stormy, husky, brawling,
   City of the Big Shoulders:


They tell me you are wicked and I believe them, for I have seen your painted women under the gas lamps luring the farm boys.
And they tell me you are crooked and I answer: Yes, it is true I have seen the gunman kill and go free to kill again.
And they tell me you are brutal and my reply is: On the faces of women and children I have seen the marks of wanton hunger.
And having answered so I turn once more to those who sneer at this my city, and I give them back the sneer and say to them:
Come and show me another city with lifted head singing so proud to be alive and coarse and strong and cunning.
Flinging magnetic curses amid the toil of piling job on job, here is a tall bold slugger set vivid against the little soft cities;
Fierce as a dog with tongue lapping for action, cunning as a savage pitted against the wilderness,
   Bareheaded,
   Shoveling,
   Wrecking,
   Planning,
   Building, breaking, rebuilding,
Under the smoke, dust all over his mouth, laughing with white teeth,
Under the terrible burden of destiny laughing as a young man laughs,
Laughing even as an ignorant fighter laughs who has never lost a battle,
Bragging and laughing that under his wrist is the pulse, and under his ribs the heart of the people,
                   Laughing!
Laughing the stormy, husky, brawling laughter of Youth, half-naked, sweating, proud to be Hog Butcher, Tool Maker, Stacker of Wheat, Player with Railroads and Freight Handler to the Nation.

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Chicago
by Carl Sandburg
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Ring out, wild bells

Ring out, wild bells, to the wild sky,
   The flying cloud, the frosty light:
   The year is dying in the night;
Ring out, wild bells, and let him die.

Ring out the old, ring in the new,
   Ring, happy bells, across the snow:
   The year is going, let him go;
Ring out the false, ring in the true.

Ring out the grief that saps the mind
   For those that here we see no more;
   Ring out the feud of rich and poor,
Ring in redress to all mankind.

Ring out a slowly dying cause,
   And ancient forms of party strife;
   Ring in the nobler modes of life,
With sweeter manners, purer laws.

Ring out the want, the care, the sin,
   The faithless coldness of the times;
   Ring out, ring out my mournful rhymes
But ring the fuller minstrel in.

Ring out false pride in place and blood,
   The civic slander and the spite;
   Ring in the love of truth and right,
Ring in the common love of good.

Ring out old shapes of foul disease;
   Ring out the narrowing lust of gold;
   Ring out the thousand wars of old,
Ring in the thousand years of peace.

Ring in the valiant man and free,
   The larger heart, the kindlier hand;
   Ring out the darkness of the land,
Ring in the Christ that is to be.

--

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SHAKESPEARE'S SONNETS

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Ring Out Wild Bells
by
Alfred Tennyson
by Carl Sandburg
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Omelets in Cincinnati

LITERATURE OUT LOUD

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Omelets in Cincinnati

This story takes place more than three decades ago, so I probably shouldn’t name cities. Things might have changed, and I don’t want the people of Cincinnati angry about something that happened in the ‘70’s. I was in Ohio for a national meeting of high school students from all over the country, having just become a recent high school graduate myself.  I spent a week there, and I was preparing to go visit my great-grandmother in Kentucky for the very first time. The bus ticket had been purchased, and as I sat in the Cincinnati bus station, I decided I was hungry. Delicious aromas were wafting from the diner at the bus station, and one of my favorite breakfasts is a Denver omelet.

Now, a Denver omelet has two of my favorite foods; onions and bacon. It may sound strange to someone who hasn’t enjoyed bacony and oniony goodness cooked in eggs, but I would advise anyone who hasn’t tried one to do so before judging. But you may want them to hold the green peppers, which are usually also in a Denver omelet. I don’t like green peppers, so I have the cook hold the green peppers, and everyone is happy.

Now, sitting in a bus station diner was a new experience to me. I had never been in a bustling transportation center before, and as my breakfast was cooking, I contemplated the excitement of travel. I was listening to the noise build in the terminal as the morning travelers arrived. The smells from the kitchen were amazing.  As I sat with my mouth watering, waiting for my omelet to arrive, I don’t know if it was the new surroundings,or the fact I was hundreds of miles from home on a great adventure, travelling by myself for the first time, or the combination of all of the above, but I was excited. The omelet arrived; it looked delicious, and I was starving.

Did I mention a Denver omelet has cheese? The combination of eggs, bacon, onions and melted cheese are one of the most delicious breakfasts you could ever have, and it was one of the most delicious breakfasts I have ever had. I sprinkled a little bit of salt on it (since I put salt on almost everything, and yes -- I know it’s not healthy for me).  

My taste buds were in heaven. Yes, I love bacon by itself. I love onions and garlic because my stepfather wanted to be Italian and he was a great cook. Everything he cooked had onions and garlic in it. Even some sour cream cookies. What really happened was he liked to put garlic in the sour cream for baked potatoes, but then he forgot about the garlic when he made the sour cream cookies.  And they tasted okay, but had a kind of strange, sharp aftertaste. 

Anyway, so when that onion taste combined with the bacon, cheese and eggs, I was transported. I can still remember to this day how good that omelet tasted. There really aren’t many times you can have a breakfast you can recall decades later. As I finished the omelet I pushed the plate back in total satisfaction.

Now, to understand the next part of this story, you need to know I grew up in Utah. It’s a desert state, and the combination of the extreme heat and cold winters eliminates a lot of pest problems other places have. You may be anticipating where this story is going, so if you want to skip ahead I don’t blame you.

I looked into the kitchen. Since I was sitting in the middle of the front counter, there was a door leading right into the kitchen in front of me. I seem to remember the floor was a kind of an industrial yellow, not unexpected in a city bus station. As I sat there in bliss, the floor seemed to move a bit.

I wasn’t sure what I had just seen. Then the floor moved again. In fact, a couple of small pieces of the floor seemed to run quickly from one side of the door to the other. And then back again. I was a recent high school graduate, but my education hadn’t included this. Was I having hallucinations from the delicacy I had just consumed?

I looked closer, and the floor moved again. As I focused on a small yellow piece of the floor which had moved, stopped and then moved long enough for me to focus, I realized what I was seeing.

Cockroaches.

I'd never seen a cockroach in my life. I’d always wondered what they looked like. I really didn’t  know much about them, but I knew they weren’t supposed to be in a kitchen. And my stomach turned just a bit, and I'm happy to report that is all that happened. You know, if I knew then what I know now about cockroaches, my response might not have been so mild.

I’ve had Denver omelets since then, but that was the best.

LITERATURE OUT LOUD

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SHAKESPEARE'S SONNETS

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Emily Dickinson

Emily Dickinson

I heard a fly buzz when I died;

The stillness round my form

Was like the stillness in the air

Between the heaves of storm.

The eyes beside had wrung them dry,

And breaths were gathering sure

For that last onset, when the king

Be witnessed in his power.

I willed my keepsakes, signed away

What portion of me I

Could make assignable, and then

There interposed a fly,

With blue, uncertain, stumbling buzz,

Between the light and me;

And then the windows failed, and then

I could not see to see.


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I Heard A Fly Buzz As I Died
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A Nation's Strength

  by Ralph Waldo Emerson

What makes a nation's pillars high
And its foundations strong?
What makes it mighty to defy
The foes that round it throng?

It is not gold. Its kingdoms grand
Go down in battle shock;
Its shafts are laid on sinking sand,
Not on abiding rock.

Is it the sword? Ask the red dust
Of empires passed away;
The blood has turned their stones to rust,
Their glory to decay.

And is it pride? Ah, that bright crown
Has seemed to nations sweet;
But God has struck its luster down
In ashes at his feet.

Not gold but only men can make
A people great and strong;
Men who for truth and honor's sake
Stand fast and suffer long.

Brave men who work while others sleep,
Who dare while others fly...
They build a nation's pillars deep
And lift them to the sky.
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Birches

by Robert Frost

When I see birches bend to left and right

Across the lines of straighter darker trees,

I like to think some boy's been swinging them.

But swinging doesn't bend them down to stay.

Ice-storms do that. Often you must have seen them

Loaded with ice a sunny winter morning

After a rain. They click upon themselves

As the breeze rises, and turn many-coloured

As the stir cracks and crazes their enamel.

Soon the sun's warmth makes them shed crystal shells

Shattering and avalanching on the snow-crust

Such heaps of broken glass to sweep away

You'd think the inner dome of heaven had fallen.

They are dragged to the withered bracken by the load,

And they seem not to break; though once they are bowed

So low for long, they never right themselves:

You may see their trunks arching in the woods

Years afterwards, trailing their leaves on the ground,

Like girls on hands and knees that throw their hair

Before them over their heads to dry in the sun.

But I was going to say when Truth broke in

With all her matter-of-fact about the ice-storm,

I should prefer to have some boy bend them

As he went out and in to fetch the cows--

Some boy too far from town to learn baseball,

Whose only play was what he found himself,

Summer or winter, and could play alone.

One by one he subdued his father's trees

By riding them down over and over again

Until he took the stiffness out of them,

And not one but hung limp, not one was left

For him to conquer. He learned all there was

To learn about not launching out too soon

And so not carrying the tree away

Clear to the ground. He always kept his poise

To the top branches, climbing carefully

With the same pains you use to fill a cup

Up to the brim, and even above the brim.

Then he flung outward, feet first, with a swish,

Kicking his way down through the air to the ground.

So was I once myself a swinger of birches.

And so I dream of going back to be.

It's when I'm weary of considerations,

And life is too much like a pathless wood

Where your face burns and tickles with the cobwebs

Broken across it, and one eye is weeping

From a twig's having lashed across it open.

I'd like to get away from earth awhile

And then come back to it and begin over.

May no fate willfully misunderstand me

And half grant what I wish and snatch me away

Not to return. Earth's the right place for love:

I don't know where it's likely to go better.

I'd like to go by climbing a birch tree

And climb black branches up a snow-white trunk

Toward heaven, till the tree could bear no more,

But dipped its top and set me down again.

That would be good both going and coming back.

One could do worse than be a swinger of birches.

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Gunga Din

by Rudyard Kipling

You may talk o' gin and beer

When you're quartered safe out 'ere,

An' you're sent to penny-fights an' Aldershot it;

But when it comes to slaughter

You will do your work on water,

An' you'll lick the bloomin' boots of 'im that's got it.

Now in Injia's sunny clime,

Where I used to spend my time

A-servin' of 'Er Majesty the Queen,

Of all them blackfaced crew

The finest man I knew

Was our regimental bhisti, Gunga Din.

He was "Din! Din! Din!

You limpin' lump o' brick-dust, Gunga Din!

Hi! slippery hitherao!

Water, get it! Panee lao!

You squidgy-nosed old idol, Gunga Din."

The uniform 'e wore

Was nothin' much before,

An' rather less than 'arf o' that be'ind,

For a piece o' twisty rag

An' a goatskin water-bag

Was all the field-equipment 'e could find.

When the sweatin' troop-train lay

In a sidin' through the day,

Where the 'eat would make your bloomin' eyebrows crawl,

We shouted "Harry By!"

Till our throats were bricky-dry,

Then we wopped 'im 'cause 'e couldn't serve us all.

It was "Din! Din! Din!

You 'eathen, where the mischief 'ave you been?

You put some juldee in it

Or I'll marrow you this minute

If you don't fill up my helmet, Gunga Din!"

'E would dot an' carry one

Till the longest day was done;

An' 'e didn't seem to know the use o' fear.

If we charged or broke or cut,

You could bet your bloomin' nut,

'E'd be waitin' fifty paces right flank rear.

With 'is mussick on 'is back,

'E would skip with our attack,

An' watch us till the bugles made "Retire",

An' for all 'is dirty 'ide

'E was white, clear white, inside

When 'e went to tend the wounded under fire!

It was "Din! Din! Din!"

With the bullets kickin' dust-spots on the green.

When the cartridges ran out,

You could hear the front-files shout,

"Hi! ammunition-mules an' Gunga Din!"

I shan't forgit the night

When I dropped be'ind the fight

With a bullet where my belt-plate should 'a' been.

I was chokin' mad with thirst,

An' the man that spied me first

Was our good old grinnin', gruntin' Gunga Din.

'E lifted up my 'ead,

An' he plugged me where I bled,

An' 'e guv me 'arf-a-pint o' water-green:

It was crawlin' and it stunk,

But of all the drinks I've drunk,

I'm gratefullest to one from Gunga Din.

It was "Din! Din! Din!

'Ere's a beggar with a bullet through 'is spleen;

'E's chawin' up the ground,

An' 'e's kickin' all around:

For Gawd's sake git the water, Gunga Din!"

'E carried me away

To where a dooli lay,

An' a bullet come an' drilled the beggar clean.

'E put me safe inside,

An' just before 'e died,

"I 'ope you liked your drink", sez Gunga Din.

So I'll meet 'im later on

At the place where 'e is gone --

Where it's always double drill and no canteen;

'E'll be squattin' on the coals

Givin' drink to poor damned souls,

An' I'll get a swig in hell from Gunga Din!

Yes, Din! Din! Din!

You Lazarushian-leather Gunga Din!

Though I've belted you and flayed you,

By the livin' Gawd that made you,

You're a better man than I am, Gunga Din!

LITERATURE OUT LOUD

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Gunga Din

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