Old School Poetry

Sound and Sense

Alexander Pope

True ease in writing comes from art, not chance,
As those move easiest who have learned to dance.
‘Tis not enough no harshness gives offense,
The sound must seem an echo to the sense:
Soft is the strain when Zephyr gently blows,
And the smooth stream in smoother numbers flows;
But when loud surges lash the sounding shore,
The hoarse, rough verse should like the torrent roar;
When Ajax strives some rock’s vast weight to throw,
The line too labors, and the words move slow;
Not so, when swift Camilla scours the plain,
Flies o’er the unbending corn, and skims along the main.
Hear how Timotheus’ varied lays surprise,
And bid alternate passions fall and rise!

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Old School Poetry

   If They Meant All They Said

Alice Duer Miller

Charm is a woman’s strongest arm;millerduerca20s1
My charwoman is full of charm;
I chose her, not for strength of arm
But for her strange, elusive charm.

And how tears heighten woman’s powers!
My typist weeps for hours and hours:

I took her for her weeping powers,
They so delight my business hours.

A woman lives by intuition.
Though my accountant shuns addition
She has the rarest intuition.
(And I myself can do addition.)

Timidity in girls is nice.
My cook is so afraid of mice.
Now you’ll admit it’s very nice
To feel your cook’s afraid of mice.


Alice Duer Miller (1874 – 1942) was a graduate of Barnard College (studied mathematics and astronomy), a suffragist, an American poet, and a novelist. She is best known for her books ARE WOMEN PEOPLE? and THE WHITE CLIFFS.

Old School Poetry

A Dull Uncertain Brain

Ralph Waldo Emerson

A dull uncertain brain,
But gifted yet to know
220px-RWEmerson1859That God has cherubim who go

Singing an immortal strain,
Immortal here below.
I know the mighty bards,
I listen when they sing,
And now I know
The secret store
Which these explore
When they with torch of genius pierce
The tenfold clouds that cover
The riches of the universe
From God’s adoring lover.
And if to me it is not given
To fetch one ingot thence
Of the unfading gold of Heaven
His merchants may dispense,
Yet well I know the royal mine,
And know the sparkle of its ore,
Know Heaven’s truth from lies that shine–
Explored they teach us to explore.


Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803–1882) was a Massachusettes-born preacher, poet, philosopher, and lecturer. While studying at Harvard, he developed an interest in Eastern culture, but that interest waned when he went on to become minister. Emerson is remembered as being the figurehead of New England Transcendentalism.