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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 |

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 |

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 |

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.

More great poems below...

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 |

Small Frogs Killed On The Highway

I would leap too
Into the light,
If I had the chance.
It is everything, the wet green stalk of the field On the other side of the road.
They crouch there, too, faltering in terror And take strange wing.
Many Of the dead never moved, but many Of the dead are alive forever in the split second Auto headlights more sudden Than their drivers know.
The drivers burrow backward into dank pools Where nothing begets Nothing.
Across the road, tadpoles are dancing On the quarter thumbnail Of the moon.
They can't see, Not yet.

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 |

A Poem About George Doty In The Death House

 Lured by the wall, and drawn
To stare below the roof,
Where pigeons nest aloof
From prowling cats and men,
I count the sash and bar
Secured to granite stone,
And note the daylight gone,
Supper and silence near.
Close to the wall inside, Immured, empty of love, A man I have wondered of Lies patient, vacant-eye.
A month and a day ago He stopped his car and found A girl on the darkening ground, And killed her in the snow.
Beside his cell, I am told, Hardy perennial bums Complain till twilight comes For hunger and for cold.
They hardly know of a day That saw their hunger pass.
Bred to the dark, their flesh Peacefully withers away.
The man who sits alone, He is the one for wonder, Who sways his fingers under The cleanly shaven chin, Who sees, in the shaving mirror Pinned to the barren wall, The uprooted ghost of all: The simple, easy terror.
Caught between sky and earth, Poor stupid animal, Stripped naked to the wall, He saw the blundered birth Of daemons beyond sound.
Sick of the dark, he rose For love, and now he goes Back to the broken ground.
Now, as he grips the chain And holds the wall, to bear What no man ever bore, He hears the bums complain; But I mourn no soul but his, Not even the bums who die, Nor the homely girl whose cry Crumbled his pleading kiss.

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 |

The Jewel

 There is this cave
In the air behind my body
That nobodyt is going to touch:
A cloister, a silence
Closing around a blossom of fire.
When I stand upright in the wind, My bones turn to dark emeralds.

Written by James Wright |

Trying To Pray

 This time, I have left my body behind me, crying
In its dark thorns.
Still, There are good things in this world.
It is dusk.
It is the good darkness Of women's hands that touch loaves.
The spirit of a tree begins to move.
I touch leaves.
I close my eyes and think of water.

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 |

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 |


 The moon drops one or two feathers into the fiels.
The dark wheat listens.
Be still.
There they are, the moon's young, trying Their wings.
Between trees, a slender woman lifts up the lovely shadow Of her face, and now she steps into the air, now she is gone Wholly, into the air.
I stand alone by an elder tree, I do not dare breathe Or move.
I listen.
The wheat leans back toward its own darkness, And I lean toward mine.

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 |


 I was only a young man
In those days.
On that evening The cold was so God damned Bitter there was nothing.
I was in trouble With a woman, and there was nothing There but me and dead snow.
I stood on the street corner In Minneapolis, lashed This way and that.
Wind rose from some pit, Hunting me.
Another bus to Saint Paul Would arrive in three hours, If I was lucky.
Then the young Sioux Loomed beside me, his scars Were just my age.
Ain't got no bus here A long time, he said.
You got enough money To get home on? What did they do To your hand? I answered.
He raised up his hook into the terrible starlight And slashed the wind.
Oh, that? he said.
I had a bad time with a woman.
Here, You take this.
Did you ever feel a man hold Sixty-five cents In a hook, And place it Gently In your freezing hand? I took it.
It wasn't the money I needed.
But I took it.