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Best Famous James Wright Poems

Here is a collection of the all-time best famous James Wright poems. This is a select list of the best famous James Wright poetry. Reading, writing, and enjoying famous James Wright poetry (as well as classical and contemporary poems) is a great past time. These top poems are the best examples of James Wright poems.

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Written by James Wright |

May Morning

 Deep into spring, winter is hanging on.
Bitter and skillful in his hopelessness, he stays alive in every shady place, starving along the Mediterranean: angry to see the glittering sea-pale boulder alive with lizards green as Judas leaves.
Winter is hanging on.
He still believes.
He tries to catch a lizard by the shoulder.
One olive tree below Grottaglie welcomes the winter into noontime shade, and talks as softly as Pythagoras.
Be still, be patient, I can hear him say, cradling in his arms the wounded head, letting the sunlight touch the savage face.

Written by James Wright |

Autumn Begins In Martins Ferry Ohio

 In the Shreve High football stadium,
I think of Polacks nursing long beers in Tiltonsville,
And gray faces of Negroes in the blast furnace at Benwood,
And the ruptured night watchman of Wheeling Steel,
Dreaming of heroes.
All the proud fathers are ashamed to go home.
Their women cluck like starved pullets, Dying for love.
Therefore, Their sons grow suicidally beautiful At the beginning of October, And gallop terribly against each other's bodies.

Written by James Wright |

On The Skeleton Of A Hound

 Nightfall, that saw the morning-glories float
Tendril and string against the crumbling wall,
Nurses him now, his skeleton for grief,
His locks for comfort curled among the leaf.
Shuttles of moonlight weave his shadow tall, Milkweed and dew flow upward to his throat.
Now catbird feathers plume the apple mound, And starlings drowse to winter up the ground.
thickened away from speech by fear, I move Around the body.
Over his forepaws, steep Declivities darken down the moonlight now, And the long throat that bayed a year ago Declines from summer.
Flies would love to leap Between his eyes and hum away the space Between the ears, the hollow where a hare Could hide; another jealous dog would tumble The bones apart, angry, the shining crumble Of a great body gleaming in the air; Quivering pigeons foul his broken face.
I can imagine men who search the earth For handy resurrections, overturn The body of a beetle in its grave; Whispering men digging for gods might delve A pocket for these bones, then slowly burn Twigs in the leaves, pray for another birth.
But I will turn my face away from this Ruin of summer, collapse of fur and bone.
For once a white hare huddled up the grass, The sparrows flocked away to see the race.
I stood on darkness, clinging to a stone, I saw the two leaping alive on ice, On earth, on leaf, humus and withered vine: The rabbit splendid in a shroud of shade, The dog carved on the sunlight, on the air, Fierce and magnificent his rippled hair, The cockleburs shaking around his head.
Then, suddenly, the hare leaped beyond pain Out of the open meadow, and the hound Followed the voiceless dancer to the moon, To dark, to death, to other meadows where Singing young women dance around a fire, Where love reveres the living.
I alone Scatter this hulk about the dampened ground; And while the moon rises beyond me, throw The ribs and spine out of their perfect shape.
For a last charm to the dead, I lift the skull And toss it over the maples like a ball.
Strewn to the woods, now may that spirit sleep That flamed over the ground a year ago.
I know the mole will heave a shinbone over, The earthworm snuggle for a nap on paws, The honest bees build honey in the head; The earth knows how to handle the great dead Who lived the body out, and broke its laws, Knocked down a fence, tore up a field of clover.

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Written by James Wright |

A Blessing

 Just off the Highway to Rochester, Minnesota
Twilight bounds softly forth on the grass.
And the eyes of those two Indian ponies Darken with kindness.
They have come gladly out of the willows To welcome my friend and me.
We step over the barbed wire into the pasture Where they have been grazing all day, alone.
They ripple tensely, they can hardly contain their happiness That we have come.
They bow shyly as wet swans.
They love each other.
There is no loneliness like theirs.
At home once more, They begin munching the young tufts of spring in the darkness.
I would like to hold the slenderer one in my arms, For she has walked over to me And nuzzled my left hand.
She is black and white, Her mane falls wild on her forehead, And the light breeze moves me to caress her long ear That is delicate as the skin over a girl's wrist.
Suddenly I realize That if I stepped out of my body I would break Into blossom.

Written by James Wright |

Having Lost My Sons I Confront The Wreckage Of The Moon: Christmas 1960

 After dark
Near the South Dakota border,
The moon is out hunting, everywhere,
Delivering fire,
And walking down hallways
Of a diamond.
Behind a tree, It ights on the ruins Of a white city Frost, frost.
Where are they gone Who lived there? Bundled away under wings And dark faces.
I am sick Of it, and I go on Living, alone, alone, Past the charred silos, past the hidden graves Of Chippewas and Norwegians.
This cold winter Moon spills the inhuman fire Of jewels Into my hands.
Dead riches, dead hands, the moon Darkens, And I am lost in the beautiful white ruins Of America.

Written by James Wright |

As I Step Over A Puddle At The End Of Winter I Think Of An Ancient Chinese Governor

 And how can I, born in evil days
And fresh from failure, ask a kindness of Fate?

 -- Written A.
819 Po Chu-i, balding old politician, What's the use? I think of you, Uneasily entering the gorges of the Yang-Tze, When you were being towed up the rapids Toward some political job or other In the city of Chungshou.
You made it, I guess, By dark.
But it is 1960, it is almost spring again, And the tall rocks of Minneapolis Build me my own black twilight Of bamboo ropes and waters.
Where is Yuan Chen, the friend you loved? Where is the sea, that once solved the whole loneliness Of the Midwest?Where is Minneapolis? I can see nothing But the great terrible oak tree darkening with winter.
Did you find the city of isolated men beyond mountains? Or have you been holding the end of a frayed rope For a thousand years?

Written by James Wright |

A Winter Daybreak Above Vence

 The night's drifts
Pile up below me and behind my back,
Slide down the hill, rise again, and build
Eerie little dunes on the roof of the house.
In the valley below me, Miles between me and the town of St.
-Jeannet, The road lamps glow.
They are so cold, they might as well be dark.
Trucks and cars Cough and drone down there between the golden Coffins of greenhouses, the startled squawk Of a rooster claws heavily across A grove, and drowns.
The gumming snarl of some grouchy dog sounds, And a man bitterly shifts his broken gears.
True night still hangs on, Mist cluttered with a racket of its own.
Now on the mountainside, A little way downhill among turning rucks, A square takes form in the side of a dim wall.
I hear a bucket rattle or something, tinny, No other stirring behind the dim face Of the goatherd's house.
I imagine His goats are still sleeping, dreaming Of the fresh roses Beyond the walls of the greenhouse below them.
And of lettuce leaves opening in Tunisia.
I turn, and somehow Impossibly hovering in the air over everything, The Mediterranean, nearer to the moon Than this mountain is, Shines.
A voice clearly Tells me to snap out of it.
Galway Mutters out of the house and up the stone stairs To start the motor.
The moon and the stars Suddenly flicker out, and the whole mountain Appears, pale as a shell.
Look, the sea has not fallen and broken Our heads.
How can I feel so warm Here in the dead center of January? I can Scarcely believe it, and yet I have to, this is The only life I have.
I get up from the stone.
My body mumbles something unseemly And follows me.
Now we are all sitting here strangely On top of sunlight.

Written by James Wright |

To A Blossoming Pear Tree

 Beautiful natural blossoms,
Pure delicate body,
You stand without trembling.
Little mist of fallen starlight, Perfect, beyond my reach, How I envy you.
For if you could only listen, I would tell you something, Something human.
An old man Appeared to me once In the unendurable snow.
He had a singe of white Beard on his face.
He paused on a street in Minneapolis And stroked my face.
Give it to me, he begged.
I'll pay you anything.
I flinched.
Both terrified, We slunk away, Each in his own way dodging The cruel darts of the cold.
Beautiful natural blossoms, How could you possibly Worry or bother or care About the ashamed, hopeless Old man? He was so near death He was willing to take Any love he could get, Even at the risk Of some mocking policeman Or some cute young wiseacre Smashing his dentures, Perhaps leading him on To a dark place and there Kicking him in his dead groin Just for the fun of it.
Young tree, unburdened By anything but your beautiful natural blossoms And dew, the dark Blood in my body drags me Down with my brother.

Written by James Wright |

In Response To A Rumor That The Oldest Whorehouse In Wheeling West Virginia Has Been Condemned

 I will grieve alone,
As I strolled alone, years ago, down along
The Ohio shore.
I hid in the hobo jungle weeds Upstream from the sewer main, Pondering, gazing.
I saw, down river, At Twenty-third and Water Streets By the vinegar works, The doors open in early evening.
Swinging their purses, the women Poured down the long street to the river And into the river.
I do not know how it was They could drown every evening.
What time near dawn did they climb up the other shore, Drying their wings? For the river at Wheeling, West Virginia, Has only two shores: The one in hell, the other In Bridgeport, Ohio.
And nobody would commit suicide, only To find beyond death Bridgeport, Ohio.

Written by James Wright |

Northern Pike

 All right.
Try this, Then.
Every body I know and care for, And every body Else is going To die in a loneliness I can't imagine and a pain I don't know.
We had To go on living.
We Untangled the net, we slit The body of this fish Open from the hinge of the tail To a place beneath the chin I wish I could sing of.
I would just as soon we let The living go on living.
An old poet whom we believe in Said the same thing, and so We paused among the dark cattails and prayed For the muskrats, For the ripples below their tails, For the little movements that we knew the crawdads were making under water, For the right-hand wrist of my cousin who is a policeman.
We prayed for the game warden's blindness.
We prayed for the road home.
We ate the fish.
There must be something very beautiful in my body, I am so happy.

Written by James Wright |

Depressed By A Book Of Bad Poetry I Walk Toward An Unused Pasture And Invite The Insects To Join Me

 Relieved, I let the book fall behind a stone.
I climb a slight rise of grass.
I do not want to disturb the ants Who are walking single file up the fence post, Carrying small white petals, Casting shadows so frail that I can see through them.
I close my eyes for a moment and listen.
The old grasshoppers Are tired, they leap heavily now, Their thighs are burdened.
I want to hear them, they have clear sounds to make.
Then lovely, far off, a dark cricket begins In the maple trees.

Written by James Wright |

Fear Is What Quickens Me

Many animals that our fathers killed in America
Had quick eyes.
They stared about wildly, When the moon went dark.
The new moon falls into the freight yards Of cities in the south, But the loss of the moon to the dark hands of Chicago Does not matter to the deer In this northern field.
2 What is that tall woman doing There, in the trees? I can hear rabbits and mourning dovees whispering together In the dark grass, there Under the trees.
3 I look about wildly.

Written by James Wright |

Goodbye To The Poetry Of Calcium

 Dark cypresses--
The world is uneasily happy;
It will all be forgotten.
--Theodore Storm Mother of roots, you have not seeded The tall ashes of loneliness For me.
Therefore, Now I go.
If I knew the name, Your name, all trellises of vineyards and old fire Would quicken to shake terribly my Earth, mother of spiraling searches, terrible Fable of calcium, girl.
I crept this afternoon In weeds once more, Casual, daydreaming you might not strike Me down.
Mother of window sills and journeys, Hallower of searching hands, The sight of my blind man makes me want to weep.
Tiller of waves or whatever, woman or man, Mother of roots or father of diamonds, Look: I am nothing.
I do not even have ashes to rub into my eyes.

Written by James Wright |

Lying In A Hammock At William Duffys Farm In Pine Island Minnesota

 Over my head, I see the bronze butterfly,
Asleep on the black trunk,
blowing like a leaf in green shadow.
Down the ravine behind the empty house, The cowbells follow one another Into the distances of the afternoon.
To my right, In a field of sunlight between two pines, The droppings of last year's horses Blaze up into golden stones.
I lean back, as the evening darkens and comes on.
A chicken hawk floats over, looking for home.
I have wasted my life.

Written by James Wright |


 It can't be the passing of time that casts
That white shadow across the waters
Just offshore.
I shiver a little, with the evening.
I turn down the steep path to find What's left of the river gold.
I whistle a dog lazily, and lazily A bird whistles me.
Close by a big river, I am alive in my own country, I am home again.
Yes: I lived here, and here, and my name, That I carved young, with a girl's, is healed over, now, And lies sleeping beneath the inward sky Of a tree's skin, close to the quick.
It's best to keep still.
But: There goes that bird that whistled me down here To the river a moment ago.
Who is he? A little white barn owl from Hudson's Bay, Flown out of his range here, and, if he wants to, He can be the body that casts That white shadow across the waters Just offshore.