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POETIC ADVICE

A CHOICE OF WEAPONS
Phyllis McGinley
Sticks and stones are hard on bones,
Aimed with angry art.
Words can sting like anything,
But silence breaks the heart.

A REPROOF
Piet Hein (1905-1996)
I n view of your manner
of spending your days
I hope you may learn,
before ending them,
that the effort you spend
on defending your ways
could be better spent
on amending them.

A PSYCHOLOGICAL TIP
Piet Hein (1905-1996)
Whenever you're called on to make up your mind,
and you're hampered by not having any,
the best way to solve the dilemma, you'll find,
is simply by spinning a penny.

No - not so that chance shall decide the affair
while you're passively standing there moping;
but the moment the penny is up in the air,
you suddenly know what you're hoping.

A WORD TO HUSBANDS
Ogden Nash
To keep your marriage brimming
With love in the loving cup,
Whenever you’re wrong, admit it;
Whenever you’re right, shut up.

ADVICE TO TRAVELERS
by Walker Gibson
A burro once, sent by express,
His shipping ticket on his bridle,
Ate up his name and his address,
And in some warehouse, standing idle,
He waited till he like to died.
The moral hardly needs the showing:
Don’t keep things locked up deep inside —
Say who you are and where you’re going.

ARGUMENT
Mildred Weston
Two stubborn beaks
Of equal strength
Can stretch a worm
To any length.

ARS POETICA
X. J. Kennedy
The goose that laid the golden egg
Died looking up its crotch
To find out how its sphincter worked.

Would you lay well? Don't watch.

BE KIND TO YOUR PARENTS
Pete Seeger
Be kind to your parents, though they don't deserve it--
Remember that grownup is a difficult time of life.
They're apt to be nervous and over-excited,
Confused by their daily storm and strife.
Just keep in mind, though it seems hard I know,
Most parents were children long ago--impossible!
So treat them with patience and kind understanding
In spite of the foolish things they do;
Someday you might wake up and find you're a parent, too!

DONNE REDONE
Joseph Paul Tierney
Ask not for whom the bells toll.
Don’t get yourself in a stew.
As long as you can hear the clang,
Relax; they’re not for you.

EARLY BIRD
Shel Silverstein
Oh, if you're a bird, be an early bird
And catch the worm for your breakfast plate.
If you're a bird, be an early bird,
But if you're a worm, sleep late.

EXISTENTIALISM
Lloyd Frankenburg
I'm tired of trying to think.
I think I shall simply behave.
Behavior may drive you to drink
But it's thinking that leads to the grave.

GOOD ADVICE
Piet Hien (1905-1996)
Shun advice
at any price--
that's what I call
good advice

GOODY FOR OUR SIDE AND YOUR SIDE TOO
Ogden Nash
Foreigners are people somewhere else,
       Natives are people at home;
If the place you’re at
Is your habitat,
       You’re a foreigner, say in Rome.
But the scales of Justice balance true,
       And tit leads into tat,
So the man who’s at home
When he stays in Rome
       Is abroad when he’s where you’re at.
When we leave the limits of the land in which
       Our birth certificates sat us,
It does not mean
Just a change of scene,
       But also a change of status.
The Frenchman with his fetching beard,
       The Scot with his kilt and sporran,
One moment he
May a native be,
       And the next may find him foreign.
There’s many a difference quickly found
       Between the different races,
But the only essential
Differential
       Is living different places.
Yet such is the pride of prideful man,
       From Austrians to Australians,
That wherever he is,
He regards as his,
       And the natives there, as aliens.
Oh, I’ll be friends if you’ll be friends,
       The foreigner tells the native,
And we’ll work together for our common ends
       Like a preposition and a dative.
If our common ends seem mostly mine,
       Why not, you ignorant foreigner?
And the native replies
Contrariwise;
       And hence, my dears, the coroner.
So mind your manners when a native, please,
       And doubly when you visit
And between us all
A rapport may fall
       Ecstatically exquisite.
One simple thought, if you have it pat,
       Will eliminate the coroner:
You may be a native in your habitat,
       But to foreigners you’re just a foreigner.

HITTING
Shel Silverstein
Use a log to hit a hog.
Use a twig to hit a pig.
Use a rake to hit a snake.
Use a swatter to hit an otter.
Use a ski to hit a bee.
And use a feather when you hit me.

PROVIDE, PROVIDE
Robert Frost
The witch that came (the withered hag)
To wash the steps with pail and rag,
Was once the beauty Abishag,

The picture pride of Hollywood.
Too many fall from great and good
For you to doubt the likelihood.

Die early and avoid the fate.
Or if predestined to die late,
Make up your mind to die in state.

Make the whole stock exchange your own!
If need be occupy a throne,
Where nobody can call you crone.

Some have relied on what they know;
Others on simply being true.
What worked for them might work for you.

No memory of having starred
Atones for later disregard,
Or keeps the end from being hard.

Better to go down dignified
With boughten friendship at your side
Than none at all. Provide, provide!

THE RAINY DAY
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
The day is cold, and dark, and dreary;
It rains, and the wind is never weary;
The vine still clings to the moldering wall,
But at every gust the dead leaves fall,
And the day is dark and dreary.

My life is cold, and dark, and dreary;
It rains, and the wind is never weary;
My thoughts still cling to the moldering Past,
But the hopes of youth fall thick in the blast
And the days are dark and dreary.

Be still, sad heart! and cease repining;
Behind the clouds is the sun still shining;
Thy fate is the common fate of all,
Into each life some rain must fall,
Some days must be dark and dreary.

REVEILLE
A.E. Housman
Wake: the silver dusk returning
      Up the beach of darkness brims,
And the ship of sunrise burning
      Stands upon the eastern rims.

Wake; the vaulted shadow shatters,
      Trampled to the floor it spanned,
And the tent of night in tatters
      Strews the sky-partitioned land.

Up, lad, up, 'tis late for lying:
      Hearing the drums of morning play;
Hark, the empty highways crying
      "Who'll beyond the hills away?"

Towns and countries woo together,
      Forelands beacon, belfries call;
Never lad that trod on leather
      Lived to feast his heart with all.

Up, lad: thews that lie and cumber
      Sunlight pallets never thrive;
Morns abed and daylight slumber
      Were not meant for man alive.

Clay lies still, but blood's a rover;
      Breath's a ware that will not keep.
Up, lad: when the journey's over
      There'll be time enough to sleep.

RIDING LESSON
Henry Taylor
I learned two things
from an early riding teacher.
He held a nervous filly
in one hand and gestured
with the other, saying, “Listen.
Keep one leg on one side,
the other leg on the other side,
and your mind in the middle.”

He turned and mounted.
She took two steps, then left
The ground, I thought for good.
But she came down hard, humped
her back, swallowed her neck,
and threw her rider as you’d
throw a rock. He rose, brushed
his pants and caught his breath,
and said, “See, that’s the way
to do it. When you see
they’re gonna throw you, get off."

SOME ADVICE FROM A MOTHER TO HER MARRIED SON
Judith Viorst (1931--)
The answer to do you love me isn't, I married you, didn't I?
Or, Can't we discuss this after the ballgame is through?
It isn't, Well that all depends on what you mean by 'love'.
Or even, Come to bed and I'll prove that I do.
The answer isn't, How can I talk about love when
the bacon is burned and the house is an absolute mess and
the children are screaming their heads off and
I'm going to miss my bus?
The answer is yes.
The answer is yes.
The answer is yes.

THE ROAD TO WISDOM
Piet Hein (1905-1996)
The road to wisdom? Well, it's plain
And simple to express:
Err
and err
and err again,
but less
and less
and less.

THE LATEST DECALOGUE
Arthur Hugh Clough (1819-1861)
Thou shalt have one God only; who
Would be at the expense of two?
No graven images may be
Worshipped, except the currency;
Swear not at all; for, for thy curse,
Thine enemy is none the worse;
At church on Sunday to attend
Will serve to keep the world thy friend:
Honor thy parents; that is, all
From whom advancement may befall.
Thou shalt not kill; but needst not strive
Officiously to keep alive:
Do not adultery commit,
Advantage rarely comes of it;
Thou shalt not steal; an empty feat,
When it's so lucrative to cheat;
Bear not false witness; let the lie
Have time on its own wings to fly;
Thou shalt not covet; but tradition
Approves all forms of competition.

THE MOVING FINGER WRITES, AND HAVING WRIT
Omar Khayyam
Translated by Edward FitzGerald

The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ,
Moves on: nor all your Piety nor Wit
Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,
Nor all your Tears wash out a Word of it

THIS BE THE VERSE
Philip Larkin
They fuck you up, your mum and dad.
They may not mean to, but they do.
They fill you with the faults they had
And add some extra, just for you.

But they were fucked up in their turn
By fools in old-style hats and coats,
Who half the time were soppy-stern
And half at one another's throats.

Man hands on misery to man.
It deepens like a coastal shelf.
Get out as early as you can,
And don't have any kids yourself.

TO A LADY TROUBLED BY INSOMNIA
Franklin P. Adams
Let the waves of slumber billow
Gently, softly o'er thy pillow;
Let the darkness wrap thee round
Till in slumber thou art drowned;
Let my tenderest lullabies
Guard the closing of thine eyes;
If these fail to make thee weary,
Then I cannot help thee, dearie.

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