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Posts Tagged ‘Poetry’

More poetry that isn’t pretentious and a waste of time.

———


Forgotten Language

By Shel Silverstein

Silverstein S

Sheldon Allan Silverstein (1930-1999)

Once I spoke the language of the flowers,
Once I understood each word the caterpillar said,
Once I smiled in secret at the gossip of the starlings,
And shared a conversation with the housefly
in my bed.

Once I heard and answered all the questions
of the crickets,
And joined the crying of each falling dying
flake of snow,
Once I spoke the language of the flowers.
.
.
.

How did it go?
How did it go?

——–

 

Percy and Books

By Mary Oliver

Oliver M

Mary Oliver (B. 1935)

Percy does not like it when I read a book.
He puts his face over the top of it, and moans.
He rolls his eyes, sometimes he sneezes.
The sun is up, he says, and the wind is down.
The tide is out, and the neighbor’s dogs are playing.
But Percy, I say, Ideas! The elegance of language!
The insights, the funniness, the beautiful stories
that rise and fall and turn into strength, or courage.
Books? says Percy. I ate one once, and it was enough. Let’s go.

 

———


Still Here

By Langston Hughes

Hughes-L

James Mercer Langston Hughes (1902-1967)

I been scared and battered.

My hopes the wind done scattered.

Snow has friz me,
Sun has baked me,

Looks like between 'em they done
Tried to make me

Stop laughin', stop lovin', stop livin' --
But I don't care!
I'm still here!

---------

We Alone

By Alice Walker

Walker A

Alice Malsenior Walker (B. 1944)

We alone can devalue gold
by not caring
if it falls or rises
in the marketplace.

Wherever there is gold
there is a chain, you know,
and if your chain
is gold
so much the worse
for you.

Feathers, shells
and sea-shaped stones
are all as rare.

This could be our revolution:
to love what is plentiful
as much as
what's scarce.


---------

 

A Red, Red Rose

By Robert Burns

Burns R

Robert Burns (1759-1796)

O my Luve is like a red, red rose
That’s newly sprung in June;
O my Luve is like the melody
That’s sweetly played in tune.

So fair art thou, my bonnie lass,
So deep in luve am I;
And I will luve thee still, my dear,
Till a’ the seas gang dry.

Till a’ the seas gang dry, my dear,

And the rocks melt wi’ the sun;
I will love thee still, my dear,
While the sands o’ life shall run.

And fare thee weel, my only luve!
And fare thee weel awhile!
And I will come again, my luve,
Though it were ten thousand mile.

 

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More poetry that isn’t pretentious and a waste of time.

———

What the Living Do

By Marie Howe

Howe M

Marie Howe (B. 1950)

Johnny, the kitchen sink has been clogged for days, some utensil probably fell down there. And the Drano won’t work but smells dangerous, and the crusty dishes have piled up

waiting for the plumber I still haven’t called. This is the everyday we spoke of. It’s winter again: the sky’s a deep, headstrong blue, and the sunlight pours through

the open living-room windows because the heat’s on too high in here and I can’t turn it off. For weeks now, driving, or dropping a bag of groceries in the street, the bag breaking,

I’ve been thinking: This is what the living do. And yesterday, hurrying along those wobbly bricks in the Cambridge sidewalk, spilling my coffee down my wrist and sleeve,

I thought it again, and again later, when buying a hairbrush: This is it. Parking. Slamming the car door shut in the cold. What you called that yearning.

What you finally gave up. We want the spring to come and the winter to pass. We want whoever to call or not call, a letter, a kiss — we want more and more and then more of it.

But there are moments, walking, when I catch a glimpse of myself in the window glass, say, the window of the corner video store, and I’m gripped by a cherishing so deep

for my own blowing hair, chapped face, and unbuttoned coat that I’m speechless: I am living. I remember you.

———

The Eagle

By Alfred, Lord Tennyson

Tennyson A

Alfred Tennyson, 1st baron Tennyson (1809-1892)

He clasps the crag with crooked hands;
Close to the sun in lonely lands,
Ring’d with the azure world, he stands.

The wrinkled sea beneath him crawls;
He watches from his mountain walls,
And like a thunderbolt he falls.

———

I Remember

By Anne Sexton

Anne Sexton

Anne Gray Harvey Sexton (1928-1974)

By the first of August
the invisible beetles began
to snore and the grass was
as tough as hemp and was
no color — no more than
the sand was a color and
we had worn our bare feet
bare since the twentieth
of June and there were times
we forgot to wind up your
alarm clock and some nights
we took our gin warm and neat
from old jelly glasses while
the sun blew out of sight
like a red picture hat and
one day I tied my hair back
with a ribbon and you said
that I looked almost like
a puritan lady and what
I remember best is that
the door to your room was
the door to mine.

———

Cherries

By Wilfrid Wilson Gibson

Gibson WW

Wilfrid Wilson Gibson (1878-1962)

A handful of cherries
She gave me in passing,
The wizened old woman,
And wished me good luck —
And again I was dreaming,
A boy in the sunshine,
And life but an orchard
Of cherries to pluck.

———

On a Young Lady’s Sixth Anniversary

By Katherine Mansfield

Mansfield K

Katherine Mansfield Murry (1888-1923)

Baby Babbles — only one,
Now to sit up has begun.

Little Babbles quite turned two
Walks as well as I and you.

And Miss Babbles one, two, three,
Has a teaspoon at her tea.

But her Highness at four
Learns to open the front door.

And her Majesty — now six,
Can her shoestrings neatly fix.

Babbles, Babbles, have a care,
You will soon put up your hair!

 

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More poetry that isn’t pretentious and a waste of time.

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But You Didn’t

By Merrill Glass

Glass M

Elva Merrill Glass Barnett (1911-1985)

Remember the time you lent me your car and I dented it?
I thought you’d kill me…
But you didn’t.

Remember the time I forgot to tell you the dance was
formal, and you came in jeans?
I thought you’d hate me…
But you didn’t.

Remember the times I’d flirt with
other boys just to make you jealous, and
you were?
I thought you’d drop me…
But you didn’t.

There were plenty of things you did to put up with me,
to keep me happy, to love me, and there are
so many things I wanted to tell
you when you returned from
Vietnam…
But you didn’t.

————

This Is Just To Say

By William Carlos Williams

Williams WC

William Carlos Williams (1883-1963)

I have eaten
the plums
that were in
the icebox

and which
you were probably
saving
for breakfast

Forgive me
they were delicious
so sweet
and so cold

————

The Man with the Wooden Leg

By Katherine Mansfield

Mansfield K

Katherine Mansfield Beauchamp Murry (1888-1923)

There was a man lived quite near us;
He had a wooden leg and a goldfinch in a green cage.
His name was Farkey Anderson,
And he’d been in a war to get his leg.

We were very sad about him,
Because he had such a beautiful smile
And was such a big man to live in a very small house.

When he walked on the road his leg did not matter so much;
But when he walked in his little house
It made an ugly noise.

Little Brother said his goldfinch sang the loudest of all birds,
So that he should not hear his poor leg
And feel too sorry about it.

————

Fire and Ice

By Robert Frost

Frost R

Robert Lee Frost (1874-1963)

Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I’ve tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.

————

The Reason

By Stevie Smith

Smith Stevie

Florence Margaret Smith (1902-1971)

My life is vile
I hate it so
I’ll wait awhile
And then I’ll go.

Why wait at all?
Hope springs alive,
Good may befall
I yet may thrive.

It is because I can’t make up my mind
If God is good, impotent or unkind.

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More poetry that isn’t pretentious and a waste of time…

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Differences of Opinion

By Wendy Cope

Cope W

Wendy Cope (B. 1945)

1. HE TELLS HER

He tells her that the earth is flat —
He knows the facts and that is that.
In altercations fierce and long
She tries her best to prove him wrong.
But he has learned to argue well.
He calls her arguments unsound
And often asks her not to yell.
She cannot win. He stands his ground.

The planet goes on being round.

————

The Garden

By Ezra Pound

Pound E

Ezra Weston Loomis Pound (1885-1972)

En robe de parade — Samain*

Like a skein of loose silk blown against a wall
She walks by the railing of a path in Kensington Gardens,
And she is dying piece-meal
Of a sort of emotional anemia.

And round about there is a rabble
Of the filthy, sturdy, unkillable infants of the very poor.
They shall inherit the earth.

In her is the end of breeding.
Her boredom is exquisite and excessive.
She would like some one to speak to her,
And is almost afraid that I
Will commit that indiscretion.

* A quote from French poet Albert Samain. Rough translation: dressing to show off.

————

A Quoi Bon Dire**

By Charlotte Mew

Mew C

Charlotte Mary Mew (1869-1928)

Seventeen years ago you said
Something that sounded like Good-bye;
And everybody thinks that you are dead,
But I.
So I, as I grow stiff and cold
To this and that say Good-bye too;
And everybody sees that I am old
But you.
And one fine morning in a sunny lane
Some boy and girl will meet and kiss and swear
That nobody can love their way again
While over there
You will have smiled, I shall have tossed your hair.

** What good is there to say.

————

Acquainted with the Night

By Robert Frost

Frost-4

Robert Lee Frost (1874-1963)

I have been one acquainted with the night.
I have walked out in rain — and back in rain.
I have outwalked the furthest city light.

I have looked down the saddest city lane.
I have passed by the watchman on his beat
And dropped my eyes, unwilling to explain.

I have stood still and stopped the sound of feet
When far away an interrupted cry
Came over houses from another street,

But not to call me back or say good-bye;
And further still at an unearthly height,
One luminary clock against the sky

Proclaimed the time was neither wrong nor right.
I have been one acquainted with the night.

———-

A Summary of Lord Lyttleton’s ‘Advice to a Lady’

By Lady Mary Wortley Montagu

Montagu M

Mary Pierrepont Montagu (1689-1762)

Be plain in Dress and sober in your Diet;
In short my Dearee, kiss me, and be quiet.

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More poetry that isn’t pretentious and a waste of time…

Death Is Nothing At All

By Henry Scott Holland

holland-hs

Henry Scott Holland (1847-1918)

Death is nothing at all.
It does not count.
I have only slipped away into the next room.
Nothing has happened.

Everything remains exactly as it was.
I am I, and you are you,
and the old life that we lived so fondly together is untouched, unchanged.
Whatever we were to each other, that we are still.

Call me by the old familiar name.
Speak of me in the easy way which you always used.
Put no difference into your tone.
Wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow.

Laugh as we always laughed at the little jokes that we enjoyed together.
Play, smile, think of me, pray for me.
Let my name be ever the household word that it always was.
Let it be spoken without an effort, without the ghost of a shadow upon it.

Life means all that it ever meant.
It is the same as it ever was.
There is absolute and unbroken continuity.
What is this death but a negligible accident?

Why should I be out of mind because I am out of sight?
I am but waiting for you, for an interval,
somewhere very near,
just round the corner.

All is well.
Nothing is hurt; nothing is lost.
One brief moment and all will be as it was before.
How we shall laugh at the trouble of parting when we meet again!

————

A Very Short Song

By Dorothy Parker

parker-d-3

Dorothy Parker (1893-1967)

Once, when I was young and true,
Someone left me sad —
Broke my brittle heart in two;
And that is very bad.

Love is for unlucky folk,
Love is but a curse.
Once there was a heart I broke;
And that, I think, is worse.

————

Daddy Fell into the Pond

By Alfred Noyes

noyes-a

Alfred Noyes (1880-1958)

Everyone grumbled. The sky was grey.
We had nothing to do and nothing to say.
We were nearing the end of a dismal day,
And when there seemed to be nothing beyond,
Then
Daddy fell into the pond!

And everyone’s face grew merry and bright,
And Timothy danced for sheer delight.
“Give me the camera, quick, oh quick!
He’s crawling out of the duckweed!” Click!

Then the gardener suddenly slapped his knee,
And doubled up, shaking silently,
And the ducks all quacked as if they were daft,
And it sounded as if the old drake laughed.

Oh, there wasn’t a thing that didn’t respond
When
Daddy fell into the pond!

————

The New Colossus

By Emma Lazarus

lazarus-e

Emma Lazarus (1849-1887)

With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

————

The Hero

By Siegfried Sassoon

sassoon-s

Siegfried Loraine Sassoon (1886-1967)

‘Jack fell as he’d have wished,’ the mother said,
And folded up the letter that she’d read.
‘The Colonel writes so nicely.’ Something broke
In the tired voice that quavered to a choke.
She half looked up. ‘We mothers are so proud
Of our dead soldiers.’ Then her face was bowed.

Quietly the Brother Officer went out.
He’d told the poor old dear some gallant lies
That she would nourish all her days, no doubt.
For while he coughed and mumbled, her weak eyes
Had shone with gentle triumph, brimmed with joy,
Because he’d been so brave, her glorious boy.

He thought how ‘Jack’, cold-footed, useless swine,
Had panicked down the trench that night the mine
Went up at Wicked Corner; how he’d tried
To get sent home, and how, at last, he died,
Blown to small bits. And no one seemed to care
Except that lonely woman with white hair.

 

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Poems That Don’t Suck

More poetry that isn’t pretentious and a waste of time…

————

I Dream of Jeanie With The Light Brown Hair

By Stephen Foster

Foster S

Stephen Collins Foster (1826-1864)

I dream of Jeanie with the light brown hair,
Borne, like a vapor, on the summer air;
I see her tripping where the bright streams play,
Happy as the daisies that dance on her way.

Many were the wild notes her merry voice would pour,
Many were the blithe birds that warbled them o’er:
Oh! I dream of Jeanie with the light brown hair,
Floating, like a vapor, on the soft summer air.

I long for Jeanie with the daydawn smile,
Radiant in gladness, warm with winning guile;
I hear her melodies, like joys gone by,
Sighing round my heart o’er the fond hopes that die.

Sighing like the night wind and sobbing like the rain,
Wailing for the lost one that comes not again:
Oh! I long for Jeanie, and my heart bows low,
Never more to find her where the bright waters flow.

I sigh for Jeanie, but her light form strayed
Far from the fond hearts round her native glade;
Her smiles have vanished and her sweet songs flown,
Flitting like the dreams that have cheered us and gone.

Now the nodding wild flowers may wither on the shore
While her gentle fingers will cull them no more:
Oh! I sigh for Jeanie with the light brown hair,
Floating, like a vapor, on the soft summer air.

————

Wisdom

By Sara Teasdale

Teasdale ST

Sarah Trevor Teasdale (1884-1933)

When I have ceased to break my wings
Against the faultiness of things,
And learned that compromises wait
Behind each hardly opened gate,
When I have looked Life in the eyes,
Grown calm and very coldly wise,
Life will have given me the Truth,
And taken in exchange my youth.

————

How Pleasant to Know Mr. Lear

By Edward Lear

Edward Lear

Edward Lear (1812-1888)

How pleasant to know Mr. Lear,
Who has written such volumes of stuff.
Some think him ill-tempered and queer,
But a few find him pleasant enough.

His mind is concrete and fastidious,
His nose is remarkably big;
His visage is more or less hideous,
His beard it resembles a wig.

He has ears, and two eyes, and ten fingers,
(Leastways if you reckon two thumbs);
He used to be one of the singers,
But now he is one of the dumbs.

He sits in a beautiful parlour,
With hundreds of books on the wall;
He drinks a great deal of marsala,
But never gets tipsy at all.

He has many friends, laymen and clerical,
Old Foss is the name of his cat;
His body is perfectly spherical,
He weareth a runcible hat.

When he walks in waterproof white,
The children run after him so!
Calling out, “He’s gone out in his night-
Gown, that crazy old Englishman, oh!”

He weeps by the side of the ocean,
He weeps on the top of the hill;
He purchases pancakes and lotion,
And chocolate shrimps from the mill.

He reads, but he does not speak, Spanish,
He cannot abide ginger beer;
Ere the days of his pilgrimage vanish,
How pleasant to know Mr. Lear!

————

won’t you celebrate with me

By Lucille Clifton

Clifton L

Lucille Clifton (1936-2010)

won’t you celebrate with me
what i have shaped into
a kind of life? i had no model.
born in babylon
both nonwhite and woman
what did i see to be except myself?

i made it up
here on this bridge between
starshine and clay,
my one hand holding tight
my other hand; come celebrate
with me that everyday
something has tried to kill me
and has failed.

————

George, Who Played With a Dangerous Toy, And
Suffered a Catastrophe of Considerable Dimensions

By Hilaire Belloc

Belloc H

Hilaire Belloc (1870-1953)

When George’s Grandmamma was told
That George had been as good as gold,
She Promised in the afternoon
To buy him and Immense BALLOON.
And so she did; but when it came,
It got into the candle flame,
And being of a dangerous sort
Exploded with a loud report!

The lights went out! The windows broke!
The room was filled with reeking smoke.
And in the darkness shrieks and yells
Were mingled with electric bells,
And falling masonry and groans,
And crunching, as of broken bones,
And dreadful shrieks, when, worst of all,
The house itself began to fall!
It tottered, shuddering to and fro,
Then crashed into the street below —
Which happened to be Savile Row.

When Help arrived, among the dead
Were Cousin Mary, Little Fred,
The Footmen (both of them), the Groom,
The man that cleaned the Billiard-Room,
The Chaplain, and the Still-Room Maid.
And I am dreadfully afraid
That Monsieur Champignon, the Chef,
Will now be permanently deaf —
And both his aides are much the same;
While George, who was in part to blame,
Received, you will regret to hear,
A nasty lump behind the ear.

Moral:
The moral is that little boys
Should not be given dangerous toys.

 

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More poetry that isn’t pretentious and a waste of time…

—————

Let Evening Come

By Jane Kenyon

Kenyon J

Jane Kenyon (1947-1995)

Let the light of late afternoon
shine through chinks in the barn, moving
up the bales as the sun moves down.

Let the cricket take up chafing
as a woman takes up her needles
and her yarn. Let evening come.

Let dew collect on the hoe abandoned
in long grass. Let the stars appear
and the moon disclose her silver horn.

Let the fox go back to its sandy den.
Let the wind die down. Let the shed
go black inside. Let evening come.

To the bottle in the ditch, to the scoop
in the oats, to air in the lung
let evening come.

Let it come, as it will, and don’t
be afraid. God does not leave us
comfortless, so let evening come.

—————

Young and Old

By Charles Kingsley

Kingsley C

Charles Kingsley (1819-1875)

When all the world is young, lad,
And all the leaves are green;
And ev’ry goose a swan, lad,
And ev’ry lass a queen,
Then hey for boot and horse, lad,
And round the world away;
Young blood must have its course, lad,
And ev’ry dog his day.

When all the world is old, lad,
And all the leaves are brown;
And all the sport is stale, lad,
And all the wheels run down;
Creep home and take your place there,
The spent and maimed among;
God grant you find one face there
You loved when all was young.

—————

Request to a Year

By Judith Wright

Wright J

Judith Arundell Wright (1915-2000)

If the year is meditating a suitable gift,
I should like it to be the attitude
of my great-great-grandmother,
legendary devotee of the arts,

who having eight children
and little opportunity for painting pictures,
sat one day on a high rock
beside a river in Switzerland

and from a difficult distance viewed
her second son, balanced on a small ice flow,
drift down the current toward a waterfall
that struck rock bottom eighty feet below,

while her second daughter, impeded,
no doubt, by the petticoats of the day,
stretched out a last-hope alpenstock
(which luckily later caught him on his way).

Nothing, it was evident, could be done;
And with the artist’s isolating eye
My great-great-grandmother hastily sketched the scene.
The sketch survives to prove the story by.

Year, if you have no Mother’s day present planned,
Reach back and bring me the firmness of her hand.

—————

Sea Fever

By John Masefield

Masefield J

John Edward Masefield (1878-1967)

I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by,
And the wheel’s kick and the wind’s song and the white sail’s shaking,
And a gray mist on the sea’s face, and a gray dawn breaking.

I must go down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide
Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;
And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,
And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the sea-gulls crying.

I must go down to the seas again, to the vagrant gypsy life,
To the gull’s way and the whale’s way, where the wind’s like a whetted knife;
And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow-rover,
And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick’s over.

—————

Bread and Music

By Conrad Aiken

iaikenc001p1

Conrad Potter Aiken (1889-1973)

Music I heard with you was more than music,
And bread I broke with you was more than bread;
Now that I am without you, all is desolate;
All that was once so beautiful is dead.

Your hands once touched this table and this silver,
And I have seen your fingers hold this glass.
These things do not remember you, belovèd,
And yet your touch upon them will not pass.

For it was in my heart you moved among them,
And blessed them with your hands and with your eyes;
And in my heart they will remember always, —
They knew you once, O beautiful and wise.

 

 

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