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The Crystal Lithium

James Schuyler

The smell of snow, stinging in nostrils as the wind lifts it from a beach
Eve-shuttering, mixed with sand, or when snow lies under the street lamps and on all
And the air is emptied to an uplifting gassiness
That turns lungs to winter waterwings, buoying, and the bright white night
Freezes in sight a lapse of waves, balsamic, salty, unexpected:
Hours after swimming, sitting thinking biting at a hangnail
And the taste of the—to your eyes—invisible crystals irradiates the world
“The sea is salt”
“And so am I”
“Don’t bite your nails”
and the metal flavor of a nail—are these brads?—
Taken with a slight spitting motion from between teeth and whanged into place
(Boards and sawdust) and the nail set is ridged with cold
Permanently as marble, always degrees cooler than the rooms of air it lies in
Felt as you lay your cheek upon the counter on which sits a blue-banded cup
A counter of condensed wintry exhalations glittering infinitesimally
A promise, late on a broiling day in late September, of the cold kiss
Of marble sheets to one who goes barefoot quickly in the snow and early
Only so far as the ash can—bang, dump—and back and slams the door:
Too cold to get up though at the edges of the blinds the sky
Shows blue as flames that break on a red sea in which black coals float:
Pebbles in a pocket embed the seam with grains of sand
Which, as they will, have found their way into a pattern between foot and bedfoot
“A place for everything and everything in its place” how wasteful, how wrong
It seems when snow in fat, hand-stuffed flakes falls slow and steady in the sea
“Now you see it, now you don’t” the waves growl as they grind ashore and roll out
At your feet (in boots) a Christmas tree naked of needles
Still wound with swags of tarnishing tinsel, faintly alarming as the thought
Of damp electricity or sluggish lightning and for your health desiring pains
The wind awards: Chapped Lips: on which to rub Time’s latest acquisition
Tinned, dowel shaped and inappropriately flavored sheep wool fat
A greasy sense-eclipsing fog “I can’t see
Without my glasses” “You certainly can’t see with them all steamed up
Like that. Pull over, park and wipe them off.” The thunder of a summer’s day
Rolls down the shimmering blacktop and mowed grass juice thickens the air
Like “Stir until it coats the spoon, remove from heat, let cool and chill”
Like this, graying up for more snow, maybe, in which a small flock
Of—sparrows?—small, anyway, dust-kitty-colored birds fly up
On a dotted diagonal and there, ah, is the answer:
Starlings, bullies of birdland, lousing up
The pecking order, respecters of no rights (what bird is) unloved (oh?)
Not so likeable as some: that’s temperate enough and the temperature
Drops to rise to snowability of a softness even in its scent of roses
Made of untinted butter frosting: Happy Name Day, Blue Jay, staggering
On slow-up wings into the shrunk into itself from cold forsythia snarl
And above these thoughts there waves another tangle but one parched with heat
And not with cold although the heat is on because of cold settled all
About as though, swimming under water, in clearly fishy water, you
Inhaled and found one could and live and also found you altogether
Did not like it, January, laid out on a bed of ice, disgorging
February, shaped like a flounder, and March with her steel head pocketbook,
And April, goofy and under-dressed and with a loud laugh, and May
Who will of course be voted Miss Best Liked (she expects it),
And June, with a toothpaste smile, fresh from her flea bath, and gross July,
Flexing itself, and steamy August, with thighs and eyes to match, and September
Diving into blue October, dour November, and deadly dull December which now
And then with a surprised blank look produces from its hand the ace of trumps
Or sets within the ice white hairline of a new moon the gibbous rest:
Global, blue, Columbian, a blue dull definite and thin as the first day
Of February when, in the steamed and freezing capital cash built
Without a plan to be its own best monument its skyline set in stacks
Like poker chips (signed “Autodidact”), at the crux of a view there crosses
A flatcar-trailer piled with five of the cheaper sort of yachts, tarpaulined,
Plus one youth in purple pants, a maid in her uniform and an “It’s not real
Anything” Cossack hat and coat, a bus one-quarter full of strangers and
The other familiar fixings of lengthening short days: “He’s outgrown them
Before you can turn around” and see behind you the landscape of the past
Where beached boats bask and terraced cliffs are hung with oranges
Among dark star-gleaming leaves, and, descending the dizzying rough stairs
Littered with goat turd beads—such packaging—you—he—she—
One—someone—stops to break off a bit of myrtle and recite all the lines
Of Goethe that come back, and those in French, “Connais-tu ... ?” the air
Fills with chalk dust from banged erasers, behind the February dunes
Ice boats speed and among the reeds there winds a little frozen stream
Where kids in kapok ice-skate and play at Secret City as the sun
Sets before dinner, the snow on fields turns pink and under the hatched ice
The water slides darkly and over it a never before seen liquefaction of the sun
In a chemical yellow greener than sulphur a flash of petroleum by-product
Unbelievable, unwanted and as lovely as though someone you knew all your life
Said the one inconceivable thing and then went on washing dishes: the sky
Flows with impersonal passion and loosening jet trails (eyes tearing from the cold)
And on the beach, between foam frozen in a thick scalloped edging so like
Weird cheek-mottling pillowcase embroidery, on the water-darkened sand the waves
Keep free of frost, a gull strangles on a length of nylon fishline and the dog
Trots proudly off, tail held high, to bury a future dinner among cut grass on a dune:
The ice boats furl their sails and all pile into cars and go off to the super market
Its inviting foods and cleansers sold under tunes with sealed in memory-flavor
“Hot House Rhubarb” “White Rock Girl” “Citrus Futures” “Cheap Bitter Beans” and
In its parking lot vast as the kiss to which is made the most complete surrender
In a setting of leaves, backs of stores, a house on a rise admired for being
Somewhat older than some others (prettier, too?) a man in a white apron embraces a car
Briefly in the cold with his eyes as one might hug oneself for warmth for love
—What a paint job, smooth as an eggplant; what a meaty chest, smooth as an eggplant
—Is it too much to ask your car to understand you? the converse isn’t and the sky
Maps out new roads so that, driving at right angles to the wind, clouds in ranks
Contrive in diminishing perspective a part of a picture postcard of a painting
Over oak scrub where a filling station has: gas, a locked toilet (to keep dirt in)
A busted soda pop machine, no maps and “I couldn’t tell you thet” so
The sky empties itself to a color, there, where yesterday’s puddle
Offers its hospitality to people-trash and nature-trash in tans and silvers
And black grit like that in corners of a room in this or that cheap dump
Where the ceiling light burns night and day and we stare at or into each
Other’s eyes in hope the other reads there what he reads: snow, wind
Lifted; black water, slashed with white; and that which is, which is beyond
Happiness or love or mixed with them or more than they or less, unchanging change,
“Look,” the ocean said (it was tumbled, like our sheets), “look in my eyes”

A Friendly Address

Thomas Hood

I like you, Mrs. Fry! I like your name!
It speaks the very warmth you feel in pressing
In daily act round Charity’s great flame—
I like the crisp Browne way you have of dressing,
Good Mrs. Fry! I like the placid claim
You make to Christianity,—professing
Love, and good works—of course you buy of Barton,
Beside the young fry’s bookseller, Friend Darton!

I like, good Mrs. Fry, your brethren mute—
Those serious, solemn gentlemen that sport—
I should have said, that wear, the sober suit
Shap’d like a court dress—but for heaven’s court.
I like your sisters too,—sweet Rachel’s fruit—
Protestant nuns! I like their stiff support
Of virtue—and I like to see them clad
With such a difference—just like good from bad!

I like the sober colors—not the wet;
Those gaudy manufactures of the rainbow—
Green, orange, crimson, purple, violet—
In which the fair, the flirting, and the vain, go—
The others are a chaste, severer set,
In which the good, the pious, and the plain, go—
They’re moral standards, to know Christians by—
In short, they are your colours, Mrs. Fry!

As for the naughty tinges of the prism—
Crimson’s the cruel uniform of war—
Blue—hue of brimstone! minds no catechism;
And green is young and gay—not noted for
Goodness, or gravity, or quietism,
Till it is sadden’d down to tea-green, or
Olive—and purple’s giv’n to wine, I guess;
And yellow is a convict by its dress!

They’re all the devil’s liveries, that men
And women wear in servitude to sin—
But how will they come off, poor motleys, when
Sin’s wages are paid down, and they stand in
The Evil presence? You and I know, then,
How all the party colours will begin
To part—the Pittite hues will sadden there,
Whereas the Foxite shades will all show fair!

Witness their goodly labors one by one!
Russet makes garments for the needy poor—
Dove-colour preaches love to all—and dun
Calls every day at Charity’s street door—
Brown studies scripture, and bids woman shun
All gaudy furnishing—olive doth pour
Oil into wounds: and drab and slate supply
Scholar and book in Newgate, Mrs. Fry!

Well! Heaven forbid that I should discommend
The gratis, charitable, jail-endeavor!
When all persuasions in your praises blend—
The Methodist’s creed and cry are, Fry for ever!
No—I will be your friend—and, like a friend,
Point out your very worst defect—Nay, never
Start at that word!—But I must ask you why
You keep your school in Newgate, Mrs. Fry?

Too well I know the price our mother Eve
Paid for her schooling: but must all her daughters
Commit a petty larceny, and thieve—
Pay down a crime for “entrance” to your “quarters”?
Your classes may increase, but I must grieve
Over your pupils at their bread and waters!
Oh, tho’ it cost you rent—(and rooms run high)
Keep your school out of Newgate, Mrs. Fry!

O save the vulgar soul before it’s spoil’d!
Set up your mounted sign without the gate—
And there inform the mind before ’tis soil’d!
’Tis sorry writing on a greasy slate!
Nay, if you would not have your labors foil’d,
Take it inclining tow’rds a virtuous state,
Not prostrate and laid flat—else, woman meek!
The upright pencil will but hop and shriek!

Ah, who can tell how hard it is to drain
The evil spirit from the heart it preys in,—
To bring sobriety to life again,
Chok’d with the vile Anacreontic raisin,—
To wash Black Betty when her black’s ingrain,—
To stick a moral lacquer on Moll Brazen,
Of Suky Tawdry’s habits to deprive her;
To tame the wild-fowl-ways of Jenny Diver!

Ah, who can tell how hard it is to teach
Miss Nancy Dawson on her bed of straw—
To make Long Sal sew up the endless breach
She made in manners—to write heaven’s own law
On hearts of granite.—Nay, how hard to preach,
In cells, that are not memory’s—to draw
The moral thread, thro’ the immoral eye
Of blunt Whitechapel natures, Mrs. Fry!

In vain you teach them baby-work within:
’Tis but a clumsy botchery of crime;
’Tis but a tedious darning of old sin—
Come out yourself, and stitch up souls in time—
It is too late for scouring to begin
When virtue’s ravell’d out, when all the prime
Is worn away, and nothing sound remains;
You’ll fret the fabric out before the stains!

I like your chocolate, good Mistress Fry!
I like your cookery in every way;
I like your shrove-tide service and supply;
I like to hear your sweet Pandeans play;
I like the pity in your full-brimm’d eye;
I like your carriage, and your silken grey,
Your dove-like habits, and your silent preaching;
But I don’t like your Newgatory teaching.

Come out of Newgate, Mrs. Fry! Repair
Abroad, and find your pupils in the streets.
O, come abroad into the wholesome air,
And take your moral place, before Sin seats
Her wicked self in the Professor’s chair.
Suppose some morals raw! the true receipt’s
To dress them in the pan, but do not try
To cook them in the fire, good Mrs. Fry!

Put on your decent bonnet, and come out!
Good lack! the ancients did not set up schools
In jail—but at the Porch! hinting, no doubt,
That Vice should have a lesson in the rules
Before ’twas whipt by law.—O come about,
Good Mrs. Fry! and set up forms and stools
All down the Old Bailey, and thro’ Newgate-street,
But not in Mr. Wontner’s proper seat!

Teach Lady Barrymore, if, teaching, you
That peerless Peeress can absolve from dolour;
Teach her it is not virtue to pursue
Ruin of blue, or any other colour;
Teach her it is not Virtue’s crown to rue,
Month after month, the unpaid drunken dollar;
Teach her that “flooring Charleys” is a game
Unworthy one that bears a Christian name.

O come and teach our children—that ar’n’t ours—
That heaven’s straight pathway is a narrow way,
Not Broad St. Giles’s, where fierce Sin devours
Children, like Time—or rather they both prey
On youth together—meanwhile Newgate low’rs
Ev’n like a black cloud at the close of day,
To shut them out from any more blue sky:
Think of these hopeless wretches, Mrs. Fry!

You are not nice—go into their retreats,
And make them Quakers, if you will.—’Twere best
They wore straight collars, and their shirts sans pleats;
That they had hats with brims,—that they were drest
In garbs without lappels—than shame the streets
With so much raggedness.—You may invest
Much cash this way—but it will cost its price,
To give a good, round, real cheque to Vice!

In brief,—oh teach the child its moral rote,
Not in the way from which it won’t depart,—
But out—out—out! Oh, bid it walk remote!
And if the skies are clos’d against the smart,
Ev’n let him wear the single-breasted coat,
For that ensureth singleness of heart.—
Do what you will, his every want supply,
Keep him—but out of Newgate, Mrs. Fry!

Why was this poem recommended?

Currently this poetry engine looks a set of features about the poems and chooses a poem with the most similar set of features. Below you can see the features of each poem. Right now "most similar" is a simple Euclidean distance. Further work includes adding more sophisticated features and determining similarity differently. I talk about the features and similarity metric more on the about page.


Feature The Crystal Lithium A Friendly Address
NumLines 106 170
NumWords 1332 1162
WidthInChar 69.62 42.12
AvgWordSize 4.62 4.64
RepetitionScore 0.52 0.52
ObscurityScore 0.48 0.49
SentenceScore 0.01 0.08