Thomas Carlyle Poems

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Thomas Carlyle
Thomas Carlyle (December 4, 1795 February 5, 1881) was a Scottish essayist, satirist, and historian, whose work was hugely influential during the Victorian era. Coming from a strictly Calvinist family, Carlyle was expected by his parents to become a preacher. However, while at the University of Edinburgh, he lost his Christian faith; nevertheless, Calvinist values remained with him throughout his life. This combination of a religious temperament with loss of faith in traditional Christianity made Carlyle's work appealing to many Victorians who were grappling with scientific and political changes that threatened the traditional social order. Carlyle was born in Ecclefechan, Dumfries and Galloway, and was educated at Annan Academy, Annan. He was powerfully influenced by his family's (and his nation's) strong Calvinism. After attending the University of Edinburgh, Carlyle became a mathematics teacher, first in Annan and then in Kirkcaldy, where Carlyle became close friends with the mystic Edward Irving. In 1819 - 1821, Carlyle went back to the University of Edinburgh, where he suffered an intense crisis of faith and conversion that would provide the material for Sartor Resartus. He also began reading deeply in German literature. Carlyle's thinking was heavily influenced by German Transcendentalism, in particular the work of Fichte. He established himself as an expert on German literature in a series of essays for Fraser's Magazine, and by translating German writers, notably Goethe. His home in residence for much of his life was Craigenputtock a beautiful house in Dumfrieshire, Scotland where he wrote many of his works. He often wrote about his life at Craigenputtock, "It is certain that for living and thinking in I have never since found in the world a place so favourable.... How blessed, might poor mortals be in the straitest circumstances if their wisdom and fidelity to heaven and to one another were adequately great!"

the old gray wall
 
 
Time out of mind I have stood
Fronting the frost and the sun,
That the dream of the world ... [read poem]
the heart of night
 
 
When all the stars are sown
Across the night-blue space,
With the immense unknown,
In... [read poem]
the eavesdropper
 
 
In a still room at hush of dawn,
My Love and I lay side by side
And heard the roaming... [read poem]
cui bono
 
 
What is Hope? A smiling rainbow
Children follow through the wet;
'Tis not here, still ... [read poem]
the ships of yule
 
 
When I was just a little boy,
Before I went to school,
I had a fleet of forty sail
I ... [read poem]
a song before sailing
 
 
Wind of the dead men's feet,
Blow down the empty street
Of this old city by the sea
W... [read poem]
the winter scene
 
 
The rutted roads are all like iron; skies
Are keen and brilliant; only the oak-leaves cling... [read poem]
earth voices
 
 
I heard the spring wind whisper
Above the brushwood fire,
"The world is made forever
... [read poem]
lord of my heart's elation
 
 
Lord of my heart's elation,
Spirit of things unseen,
Be thou my aspiration
Consuming ... [read poem]
by the aurelian wall
 
 
In Memory of John Keats

By the Aurelian Wall,
Where the long shadows of the centuri... [read poem]
the ships of saint john
 
 
Where are the ships I used to know,
That came to port on the Fundy tide
Half a centur... [read poem]
a sea child
 
 
The lover of child Marjory
Had one white hour of life brim full;
Now the old nurse, t... [read poem]
rivers of canada
 
 
O all the little rivers that run to Hudson's Bay,
They call me and call me to follow them away.... [read poem]
"if death be good"
 
 
(Sappho LXXIV)

If death be good,
Why do the gods not die?
If life be ill,... [read poem]
the vagabonds
 
 
We are the vagabonds of time,
And rove the yellow autumn days,
When all the roads are... [read poem]
on the plaza
 
 
One August day I sat beside
A café window open wide
To let the shower-freshened air... [read poem]
white nassau
 
 
There is fog upon the river, there is mirk upon the town;
You can hear the groping ferries as t... [read poem]
"i loved thee, atthis, in the long ago"
 
 
(Sappho XXIII)

I loved thee, Atthis, in the long ago,
When the great oleanders were... [read poem]
low tide on grand pré
 
 
The sun goes down, and over all
These barren reaches by the tide
Such unelusive glories fa... [read poem]
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