Maya Angelou |
You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I'll rise.
Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
'Cause I walk like I've got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.
Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I'll rise.
Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops.
Weakened by my soulful cries.
Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don't you take it awful hard
'Cause I laugh like I've got gold mines
Diggin' in my own back yard.
You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I'll rise.
Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I've got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?
Out of the huts of history's shame
Up from a past that's rooted in pain
I'm a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.
Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
Into a daybreak that's wondrously clear
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
Edward Estlin (E E) Cummings |
i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go,my dear; and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)
no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it's you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you
here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than the soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart
i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)
Maya Angelou |
We, unaccustomed to courage
exiles from delight
live coiled in shells of loneliness
until love leaves its high holy temple
and comes into our sight
to liberate us into life.
and in its train come ecstasies
old memories of pleasure
ancient histories of pain.
Yet if we are bold,
love strikes away the chains of fear
from our souls.
We are weaned from our timidity
In the flush of love's light
we dare be brave
And suddenly we see
that love costs all we are
and will ever be.
Yet it is only love
which sets us free.
More great poems below...
Anne Kingsmill Finch |
In such a night, when every louder wind
Is to its distant cavern safe confined;
And only gentle Zephyr fans his wings,
And lonely Philomel, still waking, sings;
Or from some tree, famed for the owl's delight,
She, hollowing clear, directs the wand'rer right:
In such a night, when passing clouds give place,
Or thinly veil the heav'ns' mysterious face;
When in some river, overhung with green,
The waving moon and trembling leaves are seen;
When freshened grass now bears itself upright,
And makes cool banks to pleasing rest invite,
Whence springs the woodbind, and the bramble-rose,
And where the sleepy cowslip sheltered grows;
Whilst now a paler hue the foxglove takes,
Yet checkers still with red the dusky brakes
When scattered glow-worms, but in twilight fine,
Shew trivial beauties watch their hour to shine;
Whilst Salisb'ry stands the test of every light,
In perfect charms, and perfect virtue bright:
When odors, which declined repelling day,
Through temp'rate air uninterrupted stray;
When darkened groves their softest shadows wear,
And falling waters we distinctly hear;
When through the gloom more venerable shows
Some ancient fabric, awful in repose,
While sunburnt hills their swarthy looks conceal,
And swelling haycocks thicken up the vale:
When the loosed horse now, as his pasture leads,
Comes slowly grazing through th' adjoining meads,
Whose stealing pace, and lengthened shade we fear,
Till torn-up forage in his teeth we hear:
When nibbling sheep at large pursue their food,
And unmolested kine rechew the cud;
When curlews cry beneath the village walls,
And to her straggling brood the partridge calls;
Their shortlived jubilee the creatures keep,
Which but endures, whilst tyrant man does sleep;
When a sedate content the spirit feels,
And no fierce light disturbs, whilst it reveals;
But silent musings urge the mind to seek
Something, too high for syllables to speak;
Till the free soul to a composedness charmed,
Finding the elements of rage disarmed,
O'er all below a solemn quiet grown,
Joys in th' inferior world, and thinks it like her own:
In such a night let me abroad remain,
Till morning breaks, and all's confused again;
Our cares, our toils, our clamors are renewed,
Or pleasures, seldom reached, again pursued.
Robert Burns |
Wee, sleekit, cow'rin, tim'rous beastie,
O, what a panic's in thy breastie!
Thou need na start awa sae hasty,
Wi' bickering brattle!
I wad be laith to rin an' chase thee,
Wi' murd'ring pattle!
I'm truly sorry man's dominion
Has broken Nature's social union,
An' justifies that ill opinion
Which makes thee startle
At me, thy poor, earth-born companion,
An' fellow mortal!
I doubt na, whiles, but thou may thieve;
What then? poor beastie, thou maun live!
A daimen icker in a thrave
'S a sma' request;
I'll get a blessin wi' the lave,
An' never miss't!
Thy wee bit housie, too, in ruin!
Its silly wa's the win's are strewin!
An' naething, now, to big a new ane,
O' foggage green!
An' bleak December's win's ensuin,
Baith snell an' keen!
Thou saw the fields laid bare an waste,
An' weary winter comin fast,
An' cozie here, beneath the blast,
Thou thought to dwell,
Till crash! the cruel coulter past
Out thro' thy cell.
That wee bit heap o' leaves an' stibble
Has cost thee mony a weary nibble!
Now thou's turned out, for a' thy trouble,
But house or hald,
To thole the winter's sleety dribble,
An' cranreuch cauld!
But Mousie, thou art no thy lane,
In proving foresight may be vain:
The best-laid schemes o' mice an' men
Gang aft a-gley,
An' lea'e us nought but grief an' pain
For promised joy!
Still thou art blest, compared wi' me!
The present only toucheth thee:
But och! I backward cast my e'e
On prospects drear!
An' forward, tho I canna see,
I guess an' fear!
Emily Dickinson |
I dreaded that first Robin, so,
But He is mastered, now,
I'm some accustomed to Him grown,
He hurts a little, though—
I thought if I could only live
Till that first Shout got by—
Not all Pianos in the Woods
Had power to mangle me—
I dared not meet the Daffodils—
For fear their Yellow Gown
Would pierce me with a fashion
So foreign to my own—
I wished the Grass would hurry—
So—when 'twas time to see—
He'd be too tall, the tallest one
Could stretch—to look at me—
I could not bear the Bees should come,
I wished they'd stay away
In those dim countries where they go,
What word had they, for me?
They're here, though; not a creature failed—
No Blossom stayed away
In gentle deference to me—
The Queen of Calvary—
Each one salutes me, as he goes,
And I, my childish Plumes,
Lift, in bereaved acknowledgement
Of their unthinking Drums—
John Donne |
DEAR love for nothing less than thee
Would I have broke this happy dream;
It was a theme
For reason much too strong for fantasy.
Therefore thou waked'st me wisely; yet 5
My dream thou brok'st not but continued'st it.
Thou art so true that thoughts of thee suffice
To make dreams truths and fables histories;
Enter these arms for since thou thought'st it best
Not to dream all my dream let 's act the rest.
As lightning or a taper's light
Thine eyes and not thy noise waked me;
Yet I thought thee¡ª
For thou lov'st truth¡ªan angel at first sight;
But when I saw thou saw'st my heart 15
And knew'st my thoughts beyond an angel's art
When thou knew'st what I dreamt when thou knew'st when
Excess of joy would wake me and cam'st then
I must confess it could not choose but be
Profane to think thee anything but thee.
Coming and staying show'd thee thee
But rising makes me doubt that now
Thou art not thou.
That Love is weak where Fear 's as strong as he;
'Tis not all spirit pure and brave 25
If mixture it of Fear Shame Honour have.
Perchance as torches which must ready be
Men light and put out so thou deal'st with me.
Thou cam'st to kindle go'st to come: then I
Will dream that hope again but else would die.
Maya Angelou |
When I was young, I used to
Watch behind the curtains
As men walked up and down the street.
Wino men, old men.
Young men sharp as mustard.
Men are always
They knew I was there.
Years old and starving for them.
Under my window, they would pauses,
Their shoulders high like the
Breasts of a young girl,
Jacket tails slapping over
One day they hold you in the
Palms of their hands, gentle, as if you
Were the last raw egg in the world.
They tighten up.
Just a little.
First squeeze is nice.
A quick hug.
Soft into your defenselessness.
The hurt begins.
Wrench out a
Smile that slides around the fear.
Your mind pops, exploding fiercely, briefly,
Like the head of a kitchen match.
It is your juice
That runs down their legs.
Staining their shoes.
When the earth rights itself again,
And taste tries to return to the tongue,
Your body has slammed shut.
No keys exist.
Then the window draws full upon
There, just beyond
The sway of curtains, men walk.
But this time, I will simply
Stand and watch.
Sir Walter Raleigh |
Farewell false love, the oracle of lies,
A mortal foe and enemy to rest,
An envious boy, from whom all cares arise,
A bastard vile, a beast with rage possessed,
A way of error, a temple full of treason,
In all effects contrary unto reason.
A poisoned serpent covered all with flowers,
Mother of sighs, and murderer of repose,
A sea of sorrows whence are drawn such showers
As moisture lend to every grief that grows;
A school of guile, a net of deep deceit,
A gilded hook that holds a poisoned bait.
A fortress foiled, which reason did defend,
A siren song, a fever of the mind,
A maze wherein affection finds no end,
A raging cloud that runs before the wind,
A substance like the shadow of the sun,
A goal of grief for which the wisest run.
A quenchless fire, a nurse of trembling fear,
A path that leads to peril and mishap,
A true retreat of sorrow and despair,
An idle boy that sleeps in pleasure's lap,
A deep mistrust of that which certain seems,
A hope of that which reason doubtful deems.
Sith* then thy trains my younger years betrayed, [since]
And for my faith ingratitude I find;
And sith repentance hath my wrongs bewrayed*, [revealed]
Whose course was ever contrary to kind*: [nature]
False love, desire, and beauty frail, adieu.
Dead is the root whence all these fancies grew.
Jean Toomer |
I am a reaper whose muscles set at sundown.
All my oats are cradled.
But I am too chilled, and too fatigued to bind them.
And I hunger.
I crack a grain between my teeth.
I do not taste it.
I have been in the fields all day.
My throat is dry.
My eyes are caked with dust of oatfields at harvest-time.
I am a blind man who stares across the hills, seeking stack'd fields of other harvesters.
It would be good to see them .
crook'd, split, and iron-ring'd handles of the scythes.
It would be good to see them, dust-caked and blind.
(Dusk is a strange fear'd sheath their blades are dull'd in.
My throat is dry.
And should I call, a cracked grain like the oats.
I fear to call.
What should they hear me, and offer me their grain, oats, or wheat, or corn? I have been in the fields all day.
I fear I could not taste it.
I fear knowledge of my hunger.
My ears are caked with dust of oatfields at harvest-time.
I am a deaf man who strains to hear the calls of other harvesters whose throats are also dry.
It would be good to hear their songs .
reapers of the sweet-stalk'd cane, cutters of the corn.
even though their throats cracked and the strangeness of their voices deafened me.
My throat is dry.
Now that the sun has set and I am chilled, I fear to call.
(Eoho, my brothers!)
I am a reaper.
(Eoho!) All my oats are cradled.
But I am too fatigued to bind them.
And I hunger.
I crack a grain.
It has no taste to it.
My throat is dry.
O my brothers, I beat my palms, still soft, against the stubble of my harvesting.
(You beat your soft palms, too.
) My pain is sweet.
Sweeter than the oats or wheat or corn.
It will not bring me knowledge of my hunger.
Percy Bysshe Shelley |
SWIFTLY walk over the western wave
Spirit of Night!
Out of the misty eastern cave
Where all the long and lone daylight
Thou wovest dreams of joy and fear 5
Which make thee terrible and dear ¡ª
Swift be thy flight!
Wrap thy form in a mantle gray
Blind with thine hair the eyes of Day 10
Kiss her until she be wearied out:
Then wander o'er city and sea and land
Touching all with thine opiate wand¡ª
When I arose and saw the dawn 15
I sigh'd for thee;
When light rode high and the dew was gone
And noon lay heavy on flower and tree
And the weary Day turn'd to his rest
Lingering like an unloved guest 20
I sigh'd for thee.
Thy brother Death came and cried
Wouldst thou me?
Thy sweet child Sleep the filmy-eyed
Murmur'd like a noontide bee 25
Shall I nestle near thy side?
Wouldst thou me? ¡ªAnd I replied
No, not thee!
Death will come when thou art dead
Soon too soon; 30
Sleep will come when thou art fled:
Of neither would I ask the boon
I ask of thee belov¨¨d Night¡ª
Swift be thine approaching flight
Come soon soon! 35
Emily Dickinson |
I lived on dread; to those who know
The stimulus there is
In danger, other impetus
Is numb and vital-less.
As't were a spur upon the soul,
A fear will urge it where
To go without the spectre's aid
Were challenging despair.
Wallace Stevens |
Among twenty snowy mountains,
The only moving thing
Was the eye of the blackbird.
I was of three minds,
Like a tree
In which there are three blackbirds.
The blackbird whirled in the autumn winds.
It was a small part of the pantomime.
A man and a woman
A man and a woman and a blackbird
I do not know which to prefer,
The beauty of inflections
Or the beauty of innuendoes,
The blackbird whistling
Or just after.
Icicles filled the long window
With barbaric glass.
The shadow of the blackbird
Crossed it, to and fro.
Traced in the shadow
An indecipherable cause.
O thin men of Haddam,
Why do you imagine golden birds?
Do you not see how the blackbird
Walks around the feet
Of the women about you?
I know noble accents
And lucid, inescapable rhythms;
But I know, too,
That the blackbird is involved
In what I know.
When the blackbird flew out of sight,
It marked the edge
Of one of many circles.
At the sight of blackbirds
Flying in a green light,
Even the bawds of euphony
Would cry out sharply.
He rode over Connecticut
In a glass coach.
Once, a fear pierced him,
In that he mistook
The shadow of his equipage
The river is moving.
The blackbird must be flying.
It was evening all afternoon.
It was snowing
And it was going to snow.
The blackbird sat
In the cedar-limbs.
Sylvia Plath |
for Ruth Fainlight
I know the bottom, she says.
I know it with my great tap root;
It is what you fear.
I do not fear it: I have been there.
Is it the sea you hear in me,
Or the voice of nothing, that was you madness?
Love is a shadow.
How you lie and cry after it.
Listen: these are its hooves: it has gone off, like a horse.
All night I shall gallup thus, impetuously,
Till your head is a stone, your pillow a little turf,
Or shall I bring you the sound of poisons?
This is rain now, the big hush.
And this is the fruit of it: tin white, like arsenic.
I have suffered the atrocity of sunsets.
Scorched to the root
My red filaments burn and stand,a hand of wires.
Now I break up in pieces that fly about like clubs.
A wind of such violence
Will tolerate no bystanding: I must shriek.
The moon, also, is merciless: she would drag me
Cruelly, being barren.
Her radiance scathes me.
Or perhaps I have caught her.
I let her go.
I let her go
Diminished and flat, as after radical surgery.
How your bad dreams possess and endow me.
I am inhabited by a cry.
Nightly it flaps out
Looking, with its hooks, for something to love.
I am terrified by this dark thing
That sleeps in me;
All day I feel its soft, feathery turnings, its malignity.
Clouds pass and disperse.
Are those the faces of love, those pale irretrievables?
Is it for such I agitate my heart?
I am incapable of more knowledge.
What is this, this face
So murderous in its strangle of branches? ----
Its snaky acids kiss.
It petrifies the will.
These are the isolate, slow faults
That kill, that kill, that kill.
Lucy Maud Montgomery |
Let those who will of friendship sing,
And to its guerdon grateful be,
But I a lyric garland bring
To crown thee, O, mine enemy!
Thanks, endless thanks, to thee I owe
For that my lifelong journey through
Thine honest hate has done for me
What love perchance had failed to do.
I had not scaled such weary heights
But that I held thy scorn in fear,
And never keenest lure might match
The subtle goading of thy sneer.
Thine anger struck from me a fire
That purged all dull content away,
Our mortal strife to me has been
Unflagging spur from day to day.
And thus, while all the world may laud
The gifts of love and loyalty,
I lay my meed of gratitude
Before thy feet, mine enemy!