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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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by Richard Jones | |

The Road

 I, too, would ease my old car to a stop
on the side of some country road
and count the stars or admire a sunset
or sit quietly through an afternoon.
.
.
.
I'd open the door and go walking like James Wright across a meadow, where I might touch a pony's ear and break into blossom; or, like Hayden Carruth, sustained by the sight of cows grazing in pastures at night, I'd stand speechless in the great darkness; I'd even search on some well-traveled road like Phil Levine in this week's New Yorker, the poet driving his car to an orchard outside the city where, for five dollars, he fills a basket with goddamned apples.


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.


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.


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.


by James Wright | |

Small Frogs Killed On The Highway

 Still,
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.


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.


by James Wright | |

Outside Fargo North Dakota

 Along the sprawled body of the derailed Great Northern freight car,
I strike a match slowly and lift it slowly.
No wind.
Beyond town, three heavy white horses Wade all the way to their shoulders In a silo shadow.
Suddenly the freight car lurches.
The door slams back, a man with a flashlight Calls me good evening.
I nod as I write good evening, lonely And sick for home.


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.


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.


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.


by James Wright | |

Hook

 I was only a young man
In those days.
On that evening The cold was so God damned Bitter there was nothing.
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.


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.


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.
D.
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?


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.


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.


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.


by James Wright | |

Saint Judas

 When I went out to kill myself, I caught
A pack of hoodlums beating up a man.
Running to spare his suffering, I forgot My name, my number, how my day began, How soldiers milled around the garden stone And sang amusing songs; how all that day Their javelins measured crowds; how I alone Bargained the proper coins, and slipped away.
Banished from heaven, I found this victim beaten, Stripped, kneed, and left to cry.
Dropping my rope Aside, I ran, ignored the uniforms: Then I remembered bread my flesh had eaten, The kiss that ate my flesh.
Flayed without hope, I held the man for nothing in my arms.


by James Wright | |

Rip

 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.


by James Wright | |

Fear Is What Quickens Me

 1
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.


by James Wright | |

Beginning

 The moon drops one or two feathers into the fiels.
The dark wheat listens.
Be still.
Now.
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.