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Best Famous Freedom Poems

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

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Written by Maya Angelou | Create an image from this poem

I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings

The free bird leaps
on the back of the wind
and floats downstream
till the current ends
and dips his wings
in the orange sun rays
and dares to claim the sky.
But a bird that stalks down his narrow cage can seldom see through his bars of rage his wings are clipped and his feet are tied so he opens his throat to sing.
The caged bird sings with fearful trill of the things unknown but longed for still and his tune is heard on the distant hill for the caged bird sings of freedom The free bird thinks of another breeze and the trade winds soft through the sighing trees and the fat worms waiting on a dawn-bright lawn and he names the sky his own.
But a caged bird stands on the grave of dreams his shadow shouts on a nightmare scream his wings are clipped and his feet are tied so he opens his throat to sing The caged bird sings with a fearful trill of things unknown but longed for still and his tune is heard on the distant hill for the caged bird sings of freedom.
Written by Aleister Crowley | Create an image from this poem

A Birthday

 "Aug.
" 10, 1911.
Full moon to-night; and six and twenty years Since my full moon first broke from angel spheres! A year of infinite love unwearying --- No circling seasons, but perennial spring! A year of triumph trampling through defeat, The first made holy and the last made sweet By this same love; a year of wealth and woe, Joy, poverty, health, sickness --- all one glow In the pure light that filled our firmament Of supreme silence and unbarred extent, Wherein one sacrament was ours, one Lord, One resurrection, one recurrent chord, One incarnation, one descending dove, All these being one, and that one being Love! You sent your spirit into tunes; my soul Yearned in a thousand melodies to enscroll Its happiness: I left no flower unplucked That might have graced your garland.
I induct Tragedy, comedy, farce, fable, song, Each longing a little, each a little long, But each aspiring only to express Your excellence and my unworthiness --- Nay! but my worthiness, since I was sense And spirit too of that same excellence.
So thus we solved the earth's revolving riddle: I could write verse, and you could play the fiddle, While, as for love, the sun went through the signs, And not a star but told him how love twines A wreath for every decanate, degree, Minute and second, linked eternally In chains of flowers that never fading are, Each one as sempiternal as a star.
Let me go back to your last birthday.
Then I was already your one man of men Appointed to complete you, and fulfil From everlasting the eternal will.
We lay within the flood of crimson light In my own balcony that August night, And conjuring the aright and the averse Created yet another universe.
We worked together; dance and rite and spell Arousing heaven and constraining hell.
We lived together; every hour of rest Was honied from your tiger-lily breast.
We --- oh what lingering doubt or fear betrayed My life to fate! --- we parted.
Was I afraid? I was afraid, afraid to live my love, Afraid you played the serpent, I the dove, Afraid of what I know not.
I am glad Of all the shame and wretchedness I had, Since those six weeks have taught me not to doubt you, And also that I cannot live without you.
Then I came back to you; black treasons rear Their heads, blind hates, deaf agonies of fear, Cruelty, cowardice, falsehood, broken pledges, The temple soiled with senseless sacrileges, Sickness and poverty, a thousand evils, Concerted malice of a million devils; --- You never swerved; your high-pooped galleon Went marvellously, majestically on Full-sailed, while every other braver bark Drove on the rocks, or foundered in the dark.
Then Easter, and the days of all delight! God's sun lit noontide and his moon midnight, While above all, true centre of our world, True source of light, our great love passion-pearled Gave all its life and splendour to the sea Above whose tides stood our stability.
Then sudden and fierce, no monitory moan, Smote the mad mischief of the great cyclone.
How far below us all its fury rolled! How vainly sulphur tries to tarnish gold! We lived together: all its malice meant Nothing but freedom of a continent! It was the forest and the river that knew The fact that one and one do not make two.
We worked, we walked, we slept, we were at ease, We cried, we quarrelled; all the rocks and trees For twenty miles could tell how lovers played, And we could count a kiss for every glade.
Worry, starvation, illness and distress? Each moment was a mine of happiness.
Then we grew tired of being country mice, Came up to Paris, lived our sacrifice There, giving holy berries to the moon, July's thanksgiving for the joys of June.
And you are gone away --- and how shall I Make August sing the raptures of July? And you are gone away --- what evil star Makes you so competent and popular? How have I raised this harpy-hag of Hell's Malice --- that you are wanted somewhere else? I wish you were like me a man forbid, Banned, outcast, nice society well rid Of the pair of us --- then who would interfere With us? --- my darling, you would now be here! But no! we must fight on, win through, succeed, Earn the grudged praise that never comes to meed, Lash dogs to kennel, trample snakes, put bit In the mule-mouths that have such need of it, Until the world there's so much to forgive in Becomes a little possible to live in.
God alone knows if battle or surrender Be the true courage; either has its splendour.
But since we chose the first, God aid the right, And damn me if I fail you in the fight! God join again the ways that lie apart, And bless the love of loyal heart to heart! God keep us every hour in every thought, And bring the vessel of our love to port! These are my birthday wishes.
Dawn's at hand, And you're an exile in a lonely land.
But what were magic if it could not give My thought enough vitality to live? Do not then dream this night has been a loss! All night I have hung, a god, upon the cross; All night I have offered incense at the shrine; All night you have been unutterably mine, Miner in the memory of the first wild hour When my rough grasp tore the unwilling flower From your closed garden, mine in every mood, In every tense, in every attitude, In every possibility, still mine While the sun's pomp and pageant, sign to sign, Stately proceeded, mine not only so In the glamour of memory and austral glow Of ardour, but by image of my brow Stronger than sense, you are even here and now Miner, utterly mine, my sister and my wife, Mother of my children, mistress of my life! O wild swan winging through the morning mist! The thousand thousand kisses that we kissed, The infinite device our love devised If by some chance its truth might be surprised, Are these all past? Are these to come? Believe me, There is no parting; they can never leave me.
I have built you up into my heart and brain So fast that we can never part again.
Why should I sing you these fantastic psalms When all the time I have you in my arms? Why? 'tis the murmur of our love that swells Earth's dithyrambs and ocean's oracles.
But this is dawn; my soul shall make its nest Where your sighs swing from rapture into rest Love's thurible, your tiger-lily breast.
Written by Wallace Stevens | Create an image from this poem

Sunday Morning

1
Complacencies of the peignoir, and late
Coffee and oranges in a sunny chair,
And the green freedom of a cockatoo
Upon a rug mingle to dissipate
The holy hush of ancient sacrifice.
She dreams a little, and she feels the dark Encroachment of that old catastrophe, As a calm darkens among water-lights.
The pungent oranges and bright, green wings Seem things in some procession of the dead, Winding across wide water, without sound.
The day is like wide water, without sound, Stilled for the passion of her dreaming feet Over the seas, to silent Palestine, Dominion of the blood and sepulchre.
2 Why should she give her bounty to the dead? What is divinity if it can come Only in silent shadows and in dreams? Shall she not find in the comforts of sun, In pungent fruit and bright, green wings, or else In any balm or beauty of the earth, Things to be cherished like the thought of heaven? Divinity must live within herself: Passions of rain, or moods in falling snow; Grievings in loneliness, or unsubdued Elations when the forest blooms; gusty Emotions on wet roads on autumn nights; All pleasures and all pains, remembering The bough of summer and the winter branch.
These are the measures destined for her soul.
3 Jove in the clouds had his inhuman birth.
No mother suckled him, no sweet land gave Large-mannered motions to his mythy mind He moved among us, as a muttering king, Magnificent, would move among his hinds, Until our blood, commingling, virginal, With heaven, brought such requital to desire The very hinds discerned it, in a star.
Shall our blood fail? Or shall it come to be The blood of paradise? And shall the earth Seem all of paradise that we shall know? The sky will be much friendlier then than now, A part of labor and a part of pain, And next in glory to enduring love, Not this dividing and indifferent blue.
4 She says, "I am content when wakened birds, Before they fly, test the reality Of misty fields, by their sweet questionings; But when the birds are gone, and their warm fields Return no more, where, then, is paradise?" There is not any haunt of prophecy, Nor any old chimera of the grave, Neither the golden underground, nor isle Melodious, where spirits gat them home, Nor visionary south, nor cloudy palm Remote as heaven's hill, that has endured As April's green endures; or will endure Like her rememberance of awakened birds, Or her desire for June and evening, tipped By the consummation of the swallow's wings.
5 She says, "But in contentment I still feel The need of some imperishable bliss.
" Death is the mother of beauty; hence from her, Alone, shall come fulfillment to our dreams And our desires.
Although she strews the leaves Of sure obliteration on our paths, The path sick sorrow took, the many paths Where triumph rang its brassy phrase, or love Whispered a little out of tenderness, She makes the willow shiver in the sun For maidens who were wont to sit and gaze Upon the grass, relinquished to their feet.
She causes boys to pile new plums and pears On disregarded plate.
The maidens taste And stray impassioned in the littering leaves.
6 Is there no change of death in paradise? Does ripe fruit never fall? Or do the boughs Hang always heavy in that perfect sky, Unchanging, yet so like our perishing earth, With rivers like our own that seek for seas They never find, the same receeding shores That never touch with inarticulate pang? Why set the pear upon those river-banks Or spice the shores with odors of the plum? Alas, that they should wear our colors there, The silken weavings of our afternoons, And pick the strings of our insipid lutes! Death is the mother of beauty, mystical, Within whose burning bosom we devise Our earthly mothers waiting, sleeplessly.
7 Supple and turbulent, a ring of men Shall chant in orgy on a summer morn Their boisterous devotion to the sun, Not as a god, but as a god might be, Naked among them, like a savage source.
Their chant shall be a chant of paradise, Out of their blood, returning to the sky; And in their chant shall enter, voice by voice, The windy lake wherein their lord delights, The trees, like serafin, and echoing hills, That choir among themselves long afterward.
They shall know well the heavenly fellowship Of men that perish and of summer morn.
And whence they came and whither they shall go The dew upon their feet shall manifest.
8 She hears, upon that water without sound, A voice that cries, "The tomb in Palestine Is not the porch of spirits lingering.
It is the grave of Jesus, where he lay.
" We live in an old chaos of the sun, Or old dependency of day and night, Or island solitude, unsponsered, free, Of that wide water, inescapable.
Deer walk upon our mountains, and the quail Whistle about us their spontaneous cries; Sweet berries ripen in the wilderness; And, in the isolation of the sky, At evening, casual flocks of pigeons make Abiguous undulations as they sink, Downward to darkness, on extended wings.
Written by Robert Pinsky | Create an image from this poem

Impossible To Tell

 to Robert Hass and in memory of Elliot Gilbert


Slow dulcimer, gavotte and bow, in autumn,
Bashõ and his friends go out to view the moon;
In summer, gasoline rainbow in the gutter,

The secret courtesy that courses like ichor
Through the old form of the rude, full-scale joke,
Impossible to tell in writing.
"Bashõ" He named himself, "Banana Tree": banana After the plant some grateful students gave him, Maybe in appreciation of his guidance Threading a long night through the rules and channels Of their collaborative linking-poem Scored in their teacher's heart: live, rigid, fluid Like passages etched in a microscopic cicuit.
Elliot had in his memory so many jokes They seemed to breed like microbes in a culture Inside his brain, one so much making another It was impossible to tell them all: In the court-culture of jokes, a top banana.
Imagine a court of one: the queen a young mother, Unhappy, alone all day with her firstborn child And her new baby in a squalid apartment Of too few rooms, a different race from her neighbors.
She tells the child she's going to kill herself.
She broods, she rages.
Hoping to distract her, The child cuts capers, he sings, he does imitations Of different people in the building, he jokes, He feels if he keeps her alive until the father Gets home from work, they'll be okay till morning.
It's laughter versus the bedroom and the pills.
What is he in his efforts but a courtier? Impossible to tell his whole delusion.
In the first months when I had moved back East From California and had to leave a message On Bob's machine, I used to make a habit Of telling the tape a joke; and part-way through, I would pretend that I forgot the punchline, Or make believe that I was interrupted-- As though he'd be so eager to hear the end He'd have to call me back.
The joke was Elliot's, More often than not.
The doctors made the blunder That killed him some time later that same year.
One day when I got home I found a message On my machine from Bob.
He had a story About two rabbis, one of them tall, one short, One day while walking along the street together They see the corpse of a Chinese man before them, And Bob said, sorry, he forgot the rest.
Of course he thought that his joke was a dummy, Impossible to tell--a dead-end challenge.
But here it is, as Elliot told it to me: The dead man's widow came to the rabbis weeping, Begging them, if they could, to resurrect him.
Shocked, the tall rabbi said absolutely not.
But the short rabbi told her to bring the body Into the study house, and ordered the shutters Closed so the room was night-dark.
Then he prayed Over the body, chanting a secret blessing Out of Kabala.
"Arise and breathe," he shouted; But nothing happened.
The body lay still.
So then The little rabbi called for hundreds of candles And danced around the body, chanting and praying In Hebrew, then Yiddish, then Aramaic.
He prayed In Turkish and Egyptian and Old Galician For nearly three hours, leaping about the coffin In the candlelight so that his tiny black shoes Seemed not to touch the floor.
With one last prayer Sobbed in the Spanish of before the Inquisition He stopped, exhausted, and looked in the dead man's face.
Panting, he raised both arms in a mystic gesture And said, "Arise and breathe!" And still the body Lay as before.
Impossible to tell In words how Elliot's eyebrows flailed and snorted Like shaggy mammoths as--the Chinese widow Granting permission--the little rabbi sang The blessing for performing a circumcision And removed the dead man's foreskin, chanting blessings In Finnish and Swahili, and bathed the corpse From head to foot, and with a final prayer In Babylonian, gasping with exhaustion, He seized the dead man's head and kissed the lips And dropped it again and leaping back commanded, "Arise and breathe!" The corpse lay still as ever.
At this, as when Bashõ's disciples wind Along the curving spine that links the renga Across the different voices, each one adding A transformation according to the rules Of stasis and repetition, all in order And yet impossible to tell beforehand, Elliot changes for the punchline: the wee Rabbi, still panting, like a startled boxer, Looks at the dead one, then up at all those watching, A kind of Mel Brooks gesture: "Hoo boy!" he says, "Now that's what I call really dead.
" O mortal Powers and princes of earth, and you immortal Lords of the underground and afterlife, Jehovah, Raa, Bol-Morah, Hecate, Pluto, What has a brilliant, living soul to do with Your harps and fires and boats, your bric-a-brac And troughs of smoking blood? Provincial stinkers, Our languages don't touch you, you're like that mother Whose small child entertained her to beg her life.
Possibly he grew up to be the tall rabbi, The one who washed his hands of all those capers Right at the outset.
Or maybe he became The author of these lines, a one-man renga The one for whom it seems to be impossible To tell a story straight.
It was a routine Procedure.
When it was finished the physicians Told Sandra and the kids it had succeeded, But Elliot wouldn't wake up for maybe an hour, They should go eat.
The two of them loved to bicker In a way that on his side went back to Yiddish, On Sandra's to some Sicilian dialect.
He used to scold her endlessly for smoking.
When she got back from dinner with their children The doctors had to tell them about the mistake.
Oh swirling petals, falling leaves! The movement Of linking renga coursing from moment to moment Is meaning, Bob says in his Haiku book.
Oh swirling petals, all living things are contingent, Falling leaves, and transient, and they suffer.
But the Universal is the goal of jokes, Especially certain ethnic jokes, which taper Down through the swirling funnel of tongues and gestures Toward their preposterous Ithaca.
There's one A journalist told me.
He heard it while a hero Of the South African freedom movement was speaking To elderly Jews.
The speaker's own right arm Had been blown off by right-wing letter-bombers.
He told his listeners they had to cast their ballots For the ANC--a group the old Jews feared As "in with the Arabs.
" But they started weeping As the old one-armed fighter told them their country Needed them to vote for what was right, their vote Could make a country their children could return to From London and Chicago.
The moved old people Applauded wildly, and the speaker's friend Whispered to the journalist, "It's the Belgian Army Joke come to life.
" I wish I could tell it To Elliot.
In the Belgian Army, the feud Between the Flemings and Walloons grew vicious, So out of hand the army could barely function.
Finally one commander assembled his men In one great room, to deal with things directly.
They stood before him at attention.
"All Flemings," He ordered, "to the left wall.
" Half the men Clustered to the left.
"Now all Walloons," he ordered, "Move to the right.
" An equal number crowded Against the right wall.
Only one man remained At attention in the middle: "What are you, soldier?" Saluting, the man said, "Sir, I am a Belgian.
" "Why, that's astonishing, Corporal--what's your name?" Saluting again, "Rabinowitz," he answered: A joke that seems at first to be a story About the Jews.
But as the renga describes Religious meaning by moving in drifting petals And brittle leaves that touch and die and suffer The changing winds that riffle the gutter swirl, So in the joke, just under the raucous music Of Fleming, Jew, Walloon, a courtly allegiance Moves to the dulcimer, gavotte and bow, Over the banana tree the moon in autumn-- Allegiance to a state impossible to tell.
Written by Langston Hughes | Create an image from this poem

Freedoms Plow

 When a man starts out with nothing,
 When a man starts out with his hands
 Empty, but clean,
 When a man starts to build a world,
He starts first with himself
And the faith that is in his heart-
The strength there,
The will there to build.
First in the heart is the dream- Then the mind starts seeking a way.
His eyes look out on the world, On the great wooded world, On the rich soil of the world, On the rivers of the world.
The eyes see there materials for building, See the difficulties, too, and the obstacles.
The mind seeks a way to overcome these obstacles.
The hand seeks tools to cut the wood, To till the soil, and harness the power of the waters.
Then the hand seeks other hands to help, A community of hands to help- Thus the dream becomes not one man's dream alone, But a community dream.
Not my dream alone, but our dream.
Not my world alone, But your world and my world, Belonging to all the hands who build.
A long time ago, but not too long ago, Ships came from across the sea Bringing the Pilgrims and prayer-makers, Adventurers and booty seekers, Free men and indentured servants, Slave men and slave masters, all new- To a new world, America! With billowing sails the galleons came Bringing men and dreams, women and dreams.
In little bands together, Heart reaching out to heart, Hand reaching out to hand, They began to build our land.
Some were free hands Seeking a greater freedom, Some were indentured hands Hoping to find their freedom, Some were slave hands Guarding in their hearts the seed of freedom, But the word was there always: Freedom.
Down into the earth went the plow In the free hands and the slave hands, In indentured hands and adventurous hands, Turning the rich soil went the plow in many hands That planted and harvested the food that fed And the cotton that clothed America.
Clang against the trees went the ax into many hands That hewed and shaped the rooftops of America.
Splash into the rivers and the seas went the boat-hulls That moved and transported America.
Crack went the whips that drove the horses Across the plains of America.
Free hands and slave hands, Indentured hands, adventurous hands, White hands and black hands Held the plow handles, Ax handles, hammer handles, Launched the boats and whipped the horses That fed and housed and moved America.
Thus together through labor, All these hands made America.
Labor! Out of labor came villages And the towns that grew cities.
Labor! Out of labor came the rowboats And the sailboats and the steamboats, Came the wagons, and the coaches, Covered wagons, stage coaches, Out of labor came the factories, Came the foundries, came the railroads.
Came the marts and markets, shops and stores, Came the mighty products moulded, manufactured, Sold in shops, piled in warehouses, Shipped the wide world over: Out of labor-white hands and black hands- Came the dream, the strength, the will, And the way to build America.
Now it is Me here, and You there.
Now it's Manhattan, Chicago, Seattle, New Orleans, Boston and El Paso- Now it's the U.
S.
A.
A long time ago, but not too long ago, a man said: ALL MEN ARE CREATED EQUAL-- ENDOWED BY THEIR CREATOR WITH CERTAIN UNALIENABLE RIGHTS-- AMONG THESE LIFE, LIBERTY AND THE PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS.
His name was Jefferson.
There were slaves then, But in their hearts the slaves believed him, too, And silently too for granted That what he said was also meant for them.
It was a long time ago, But not so long ago at that, Lincoln said: NO MAN IS GOOD ENOUGH TO GOVERN ANOTHER MAN WITHOUT THAT OTHER'S CONSENT.
There were slaves then, too, But in their hearts the slaves knew What he said must be meant for every human being- Else it had no meaning for anyone.
Then a man said: BETTER TO DIE FREE THAN TO LIVE SLAVES He was a colored man who had been a slave But had run away to freedom.
And the slaves knew What Frederick Douglass said was true.
With John Brown at Harper's Ferry, Negroes died.
John Brown was hung.
Before the Civil War, days were dark, And nobody knew for sure When freedom would triumph "Or if it would," thought some.
But others new it had to triumph.
In those dark days of slavery, Guarding in their hearts the seed of freedom, The slaves made up a song: Keep Your Hand On The Plow! Hold On! That song meant just what it said: Hold On! Freedom will come! Keep Your Hand On The Plow! Hold On! Out of war it came, bloody and terrible! But it came! Some there were, as always, Who doubted that the war would end right, That the slaves would be free, Or that the union would stand, But now we know how it all came out.
Out of the darkest days for people and a nation, We know now how it came out.
There was light when the battle clouds rolled away.
There was a great wooded land, And men united as a nation.
America is a dream.
The poet says it was promises.
The people say it is promises-that will come true.
The people do not always say things out loud, Nor write them down on paper.
The people often hold Great thoughts in their deepest hearts And sometimes only blunderingly express them, Haltingly and stumblingly say them, And faultily put them into practice.
The people do not always understand each other.
But there is, somewhere there, Always the trying to understand, And the trying to say, "You are a man.
Together we are building our land.
" America! Land created in common, Dream nourished in common, Keep your hand on the plow! Hold on! If the house is not yet finished, Don't be discouraged, builder! If the fight is not yet won, Don't be weary, soldier! The plan and the pattern is here, Woven from the beginning Into the warp and woof of America: ALL MEN ARE CREATED EQUAL.
NO MAN IS GOOD ENOUGH TO GOVERN ANOTHER MAN WITHOUT HIS CONSENT.
BETTER DIE FREE, THAN TO LIVE SLAVES.
Who said those things? Americans! Who owns those words? America! Who is America? You, me! We are America! To the enemy who would conquer us from without, We say, NO! To the enemy who would divide And conquer us from within, We say, NO! FREEDOM! BROTHERHOOD! DEMOCRACY! To all the enemies of these great words: We say, NO! A long time ago, An enslaved people heading toward freedom Made up a song: Keep Your Hand On The Plow! Hold On! The plow plowed a new furrow Across the field of history.
Into that furrow the freedom seed was dropped.
From that seed a tree grew, is growing, will ever grow.
That tree is for everybody, For all America, for all the world.
May its branches spread and shelter grow Until all races and all peoples know its shade.
KEEP YOUR HAND ON THE PLOW! HOLD ON!
Written by Charlotte Bronte | Create an image from this poem

The Wood

 BUT two miles more, and then we rest ! 
Well, there is still an hour of day, 
And long the brightness of the West 
Will light us on our devious way; 
Sit then, awhile, here in this wood­ 
So total is the solitude, 
We safely may delay.
These massive roots afford a seat, Which seems for weary travellers made.
There rest.
The air is soft and sweet In this sequestered forest glade, And there are scents of flowers around, The evening dew draws from the ground; How soothingly they spread ! Yes; I was tired, but not at heart; No­that beats full of sweet content, For now I have my natural part Of action with adventure blent; Cast forth on the wide vorld with thee, And all my once waste energy To weighty purpose bent.
Yet­say'st thou, spies around us roam, Our aims are termed conspiracy ? Haply, no more our English home An anchorage for us may be ? That there is risk our mutual blood May redden in some lonely wood The knife of treachery ? Say'st thou­that where we lodge each night, In each lone farm, or lonelier hall Of Norman Peer­ere morning light Suspicion must as duly fall, As day returns­such vigilance Presides and watches over France, Such rigour governs all ? I fear not, William; dost thou fear ? So that the knife does not divide, It may be ever hovering near: I could not tremble at thy side, And strenuous love­like mine for thee­ Is buckler strong, 'gainst treachery, And turns its stab aside.
I am resolved that thou shalt learn To trust my strength as I trust thine; I am resolved our souls shall burn, With equal, steady, mingling shine; Part of the field is conquered now, Our lives in the same channel flow, Along the self-same line; And while no groaning storm is heard, Thou seem'st content it should be so, But soon as comes a warning word Of danger­straight thine anxious brow Bends over me a mournful shade, As doubting if my powers are made To ford the floods of woe.
Know, then it is my spirit swells, And drinks, with eager joy, the air Of freedom­where at last it dwells, Chartered, a common task to share With thee, and then it stirs alert, And pants to learn what menaced hurt Demands for thee its care.
Remember, I have crossed the deep, And stood with thee on deck, to gaze On waves that rose in threatening heap, While stagnant lay a heavy haze, Dimly confusing sea with sky, And baffling, even, the pilot's eye, Intent to thread the maze­ Of rocks, on Bretagne's dangerous coast, And find a way to steer our band To the one point obscure, which lost, Flung us, as victims, on the strand;­ All, elsewhere, gleamed the Gallic sword, And not a wherry could be moored Along the guarded land.
I feared not then­I fear not now; The interest of each stirring scene Wakes a new sense, a welcome glow, In every nerve and bounding vein; Alike on turbid Channel sea, Or in still wood of Normandy, I feel as born again.
The rain descended that wild morn When, anchoring in the cove at last, Our band, all weary and forlorn, Ashore, like wave-worn sailors, cast­ Sought for a sheltering roof in vain, And scarce could scanty food obtain To break their morning fast.
Thou didst thy crust with me divide, Thou didst thy cloak around me fold; And, sitting silent by thy side, I ate the bread in peace untold: Given kindly from thy hand, 'twas sweet As costly fare or princely treat On royal plate of gold.
Sharp blew the sleet upon my face, And, rising wild, the gusty wind Drove on those thundering waves apace, Our crew so late had left behind; But, spite of frozen shower and storm, So close to thee, my heart beat warm, And tranquil slept my mind.
So now­nor foot-sore nor opprest With walking all this August day, I taste a heaven in this brief rest, This gipsy-halt beside the way.
England's wild flowers are fair to view, Like balm is England's summer dew, Like gold her sunset ray.
But the white violets, growing here, Are sweeter than I yet have seen, And ne'er did dew so pure and clear Distil on forest mosses green, As now, called forth by summer heat, Perfumes our cool and fresh retreat­ These fragrant limes between.
That sunset ! Look beneath the boughs, Over the copse­beyond the hills; How soft, yet deep and warm it glows, And heaven with rich suffusion fills; With hues where still the opal's tint, Its gleam of poisoned fire is blent, Where flame through azure thrills ! Depart we now­for fast will fade That solemn splendour of decline, And deep must be the after-shade As stars alone to-night will shine; No moon is destined­pale­to gaze On such a day's vast Phoenix blaze, A day in fires decayed ! There­hand-in-hand we tread again The mazes of this varying wood, And soon, amid a cultured plain, Girt in with fertile solitude, We shall our resting-place descry, Marked by one roof-tree, towering high Above a farm-stead rude.
Refreshed, erelong, with rustic fare, We'll seek a couch of dreamless ease; Courage will guard thy heart from fear, And Love give mine divinest peace: To-morrow brings more dangerous toil, And through its conflict and turmoil We'll pass, as God shall please.
Written by Siegfried Sassoon | Create an image from this poem

Haunted

EVENING was in the wood, louring with storm.
A time of drought had sucked the weedy pool And baked the channels; birds had done with song.
Thirst was a dream of fountains in the moon, Or willow-music blown across the water 5 Leisurely sliding on by weir and mill.
Uneasy was the man who wandered, brooding, His face a little whiter than the dusk.
A drone of sultry wings flicker¡¯d in his head.
The end of sunset burning thro¡¯ the boughs 10 Died in a smear of red; exhausted hours Cumber¡¯d, and ugly sorrows hemmed him in.
He thought: ¡®Somewhere there¡¯s thunder,¡¯ as he strove To shake off dread; he dared not look behind him, But stood, the sweat of horror on his face.
15 He blunder¡¯d down a path, trampling on thistles, In sudden race to leave the ghostly trees.
And: ¡®Soon I¡¯ll be in open fields,¡¯ he thought, And half remembered starlight on the meadows, Scent of mown grass and voices of tired men, 20 Fading along the field-paths; home and sleep And cool-swept upland spaces, whispering leaves, And far off the long churring night-jar¡¯s note.
But something in the wood, trying to daunt him, Led him confused in circles through the thicket.
25 He was forgetting his old wretched folly, And freedom was his need; his throat was choking.
Barbed brambles gripped and clawed him round his legs, And he floundered over snags and hidden stumps.
Mumbling: ¡®I will get out! I must get out!¡¯ 30 Butting and thrusting up the baffling gloom, Pausing to listen in a space ¡¯twixt thorns, He peers around with peering, frantic eyes.
An evil creature in the twilight looping, Flapped blindly in his face.
Beating it off, 35 He screeched in terror, and straightway something clambered Heavily from an oak, and dropped, bent double, To shamble at him zigzag, squat and bestial.
Headlong he charges down the wood, and falls With roaring brain¡ªagony¡ªthe snap¡¯t spark¡ª 40 And blots of green and purple in his eyes.
Then the slow fingers groping on his neck, And at his heart the strangling clasp of death.
Written by Langston Hughes | Create an image from this poem

Let America Be America Again

 Let America be America again.
Let it be the dream it used to be.
Let it be the pioneer on the plain Seeking a home where he himself is free.
(America never was America to me.
) Let America be the dream the dreamers dreamed-- Let it be that great strong land of love Where never kings connive nor tyrants scheme That any man be crushed by one above.
(It never was America to me.
) O, let my land be a land where Liberty Is crowned with no false patriotic wreath, But opportunity is real, and life is free, Equality is in the air we breathe.
(There's never been equality for me, Nor freedom in this "homeland of the free.
") Say, who are you that mumbles in the dark? And who are you that draws your veil across the stars? I am the poor white, fooled and pushed apart, I am the Negro bearing slavery's scars.
I am the red man driven from the land, I am the immigrant clutching the hope I seek-- And finding only the same old stupid plan Of dog eat dog, of mighty crush the weak.
I am the young man, full of strength and hope, Tangled in that ancient endless chain Of profit, power, gain, of grab the land! Of grab the gold! Of grab the ways of satisfying need! Of work the men! Of take the pay! Of owning everything for one's own greed! I am the farmer, bondsman to the soil.
I am the worker sold to the machine.
I am the Negro, servant to you all.
I am the people, humble, hungry, mean-- Hungry yet today despite the dream.
Beaten yet today--O, Pioneers! I am the man who never got ahead, The poorest worker bartered through the years.
Yet I'm the one who dreamt our basic dream In the Old World while still a serf of kings, Who dreamt a dream so strong, so brave, so true, That even yet its mighty daring sings In every brick and stone, in every furrow turned That's made America the land it has become.
O, I'm the man who sailed those early seas In search of what I meant to be my home-- For I'm the one who left dark Ireland's shore, And Poland's plain, and England's grassy lea, And torn from Black Africa's strand I came To build a "homeland of the free.
" The free? Who said the free? Not me? Surely not me? The millions on relief today? The millions shot down when we strike? The millions who have nothing for our pay? For all the dreams we've dreamed And all the songs we've sung And all the hopes we've held And all the flags we've hung, The millions who have nothing for our pay-- Except the dream that's almost dead today.
O, let America be America again-- The land that never has been yet-- And yet must be--the land where every man is free.
The land that's mine--the poor man's, Indian's, Negro's, ME-- Who made America, Whose sweat and blood, whose faith and pain, Whose hand at the foundry, whose plow in the rain, Must bring back our mighty dream again.
Sure, call me any ugly name you choose-- The steel of freedom does not stain.
From those who live like leeches on the people's lives, We must take back our land again, America! O, yes, I say it plain, America never was America to me, And yet I swear this oath-- America will be! Out of the rack and ruin of our gangster death, The rape and rot of graft, and stealth, and lies, We, the people, must redeem The land, the mines, the plants, the rivers.
The mountains and the endless plain-- All, all the stretch of these great green states-- And make America again!
Written by Philip Levine | Create an image from this poem

The Negatives

 On March 1, 1958, four deserters from the French Army of North Africa, 
August Rein, Henri Bruette, Jack Dauville, & Thomas Delain, robbed a 
government pay station at Orleansville.
Because of the subsequent confession of Dauville the other three were captured or shot.
Dauville was given his freedom and returned to the land of his birth, the U.
S.
A.
AUGUST REIN: from a last camp near St.
Remy I dig in the soft earth all afternoon, spacing the holes a foot or so from the wall.
Tonight we eat potatoes, tomorrow rice and carrots.
The earth here is like the earth nowhere, ancient with wood rot.
How can anything come forth, I wonder; and the days are all alike, if there is more than one day.
If there is more of this I will not endure.
I have grown so used to being watched I can no longer sleep without my watcher.
The thing I fought against, the dark cape, crimsoned with terror that I so hated comforts me now.
Thomas is dead; insanity, prison, cowardice, or slow inner capitulation has found us all, and all men turn from us, knowing our pain is not theirs or caused by them.
HENRI BRUETTE: from a hospital in Algiers Dear Suzanne: this letter will not reach you because I can't write it; I have no pencil, no paper, only the blunt end of my anger.
My dear, if I had words how could I report the imperfect failure for which I began to die? I might begin by saying that it was for clarity, though I did not find it in terror: dubiously entered each act, unsure of who I was and what I did, touching my face for fear I was another inside my head I played back pictures of my childhood, of my wife even, for it was in her I found myself beaten, safe, and furthest from the present.
It is her face I see now though all I say is meant for you, her face in the slow agony of sexual release.
I cannot see you.
The dark wall ribbed with spittle on which I play my childhood brings me to this bed, mastered by what I was, betrayed by those I trusted.
The one word my mouth must open to is why.
JACK DAUVILLE: from a hotel in Tampa, Florida From Orleansville we drove south until we reached the hills, then east until the road stopped.
I was nervous and couldn't eat.
Thomas took over, told us when to think and when to shit.
We turned north and reached Blida by first dawn and the City by morning, having dumped our weapons beside an empty road.
We were free.
We parted, and to this hour I haven't seen them, except in photographs: the black hair and torn features of Thomas Delain captured a moment before his death on the pages of the world, smeared in the act.
I tortured myself with their betrayal: alone I hurled them into freedom, inner freedom which I can't find nor ever will until they are dead.
In my mind Delain stands against the wall precise in detail, steadied for the betrayal.
"La France C'Est Moi," he cried, but the irony was lost.
Since I returned to the U.
S.
nothing goes well.
I stay up too late, don't sleep, and am losing weight.
Thomas, I say, is dead, but what use telling myself what I won't believe.
The hotel quiets early at night, the aged brace themselves for another sleep, and offshore the sea quickens its pace.
I am suddenly old, caught in a strange country for which no man would die.
THOMAS DELAIN: from a journal found on his person At night wakened by the freight trains boring through the suburbs of Lyon, I watched first light corrode the darkness, disturb what little wildlife was left in the alleys: birds moved from branch to branch, and the dogs leapt at the garbage.
Winter numbed even the hearts of the young who had only their hearts.
We heard the war coming; the long wait was over, and we moved along the crowded roads south not looking for what lost loves fell by the roadsides.
To flee at all cost, that was my youth.
Here in the African night wakened by what I do not know and shivering in the heat, listen as the men fight with sleep.
Loosed from their weapons they cry out, frightened and young, who have never been children.
Once merely to be strong, to live, was moral.
Within these uniforms we accept the evil we were chosen to deliver, and no act human or benign can free us from ourselves.
Wait, sleep, blind soldiers of a blind will, and listen for that old command dreaming of authority.
Written by Maya Angelou | Create an image from this poem

Million Man March Poem

The night has been long,
The wound has been deep,
The pit has been dark,
And the walls have been steep.
Under a dead blue sky on a distant beach, I was dragged by my braids just beyond your reach.
Your hands were tied, your mouth was bound, You couldn't even call out my name.
You were helpless and so was I, But unfortunately throughout history You've worn a badge of shame.
I say, the night has been long, The wound has been deep, The pit has been dark And the walls have been steep.
But today, voices of old spirit sound Speak to us in words profound, Across the years, across the centuries, Across the oceans, and across the seas.
They say, draw near to one another, Save your race.
You have been paid for in a distant place, The old ones remind us that slavery's chains Have paid for our freedom again and again.
The night has been long, The pit has been deep, The night has been dark, And the walls have been steep.
The hells we have lived through and live through still, Have sharpened our senses and toughened our will.
The night has been long.
This morning I look through your anguish Right down to your soul.
I know that with each other we can make ourselves whole.
I look through the posture and past your disguise, And see your love for family in your big brown eyes.
I say, clap hands and let's come together in this meeting ground, I say, clap hands and let's deal with each other with love, I say, clap hands and let us get from the low road of indifference, Clap hands, let us come together and reveal our hearts, Let us come together and revise our spirits, Let us come together and cleanse our souls, Clap hands, let's leave the preening And stop impostering our own history.
Clap hands, call the spirits back from the ledge, Clap hands, let us invite joy into our conversation, Courtesy into our bedrooms, Gentleness into our kitchen, Care into our nursery.
The ancestors remind us, despite the history of pain We are a going-on people who will rise again.
And still we rise.
Poem read at the Million Man March
Written by Gwendolyn Brooks | Create an image from this poem

To Be In Love

 To be in love 
Is to touch with a lighter hand.
In yourself you stretch, you are well.
You look at things Through his eyes.
A cardinal is red.
A sky is blue.
Suddenly you know he knows too.
He is not there but You know you are tasting together The winter, or a light spring weather.
His hand to take your hand is overmuch.
Too much to bear.
You cannot look in his eyes Because your pulse must not say What must not be said.
When he Shuts a door- Is not there_ Your arms are water.
And you are free With a ghastly freedom.
You are the beautiful half Of a golden hurt.
You remember and covet his mouth To touch, to whisper on.
Oh when to declare Is certain Death! Oh when to apprize Is to mesmerize, To see fall down, the Column of Gold, Into the commonest ash.
Written by William Wordsworth | Create an image from this poem

London 1802

 Milton! thou should'st be living at this hour:
England hath need of thee: she is a fen
Of stagnant waters: altar, sword, and pen,
Fireside, the heroic wealth of hall and bower,
Have forfeited their ancient English dower
Of inward happiness.
We are selfish men; Oh! raise us up, return to us again; And give us manners, virtue, freedom, power.
Thy soul was like a Star, and dwelt apart: Thou hadst a voice whose sound was like the sea: Pure as the naked heavens, majestic, free, So didst thou travel on life's common way, In cheerful godliness; and yet thy heart The lowliest duties on herself did lay.
Written by Marilyn Hacker | Create an image from this poem

Scars on Paper

 An unwrapped icon, too potent to touch,
she freed my breasts from the camp Empire dress.
Now one of them's the shadow of a breast with a lost object's half-life, with as much life as an anecdotal photograph: me, Kim and Iva, all stripped to the waist, hiking near Russian River on June first '79: Iva's five-and-a-half.
While she was almost twenty, wearing black T-shirts in D.
C.
, where we hadn't met.
You lay your palm, my love, on my flat chest.
In lines alive with what is not regret, she takes her own path past, doesn't turn back.
Persistently, on paper, we exist.
Persistently, on paper, we exist.
You'd touch me if you could, but you're, in fact, three thousand miles away.
And my intact body is eighteen months paper: the past a fragile eighteen months regime of trust in slash-and-burn, in vitamin pills, backed by no statistics.
Each day I enact survivor's rituals, blessing the crust I tear from the warm loaf, blessing the hours in which I didn't or in which I did consider my own death.
I am not yet statistically a survivor (that is sixty months).
On paper, someone flowers and flares alive.
I knew her.
But she's dead.
She flares alive.
I knew her.
But she's dead.
I flirted with her, might have been her friend, but transatlantic schedules intervened.
She wrote a book about her Freedom Ride, the wary elders whom she taught to read, — herself half-British, twenty-six, white-blonde, with thirty years to live.
And I happened to open up The Nation to that bad news which I otherwise might not have known (not breast cancer: cancer of the brain).
Words take the absent friend away again.
Alone, I think, she called, alone, upon her courage, tried in ways she'd not have wished by pain and fear: her courage, extinguished.
The pain and fear some courage extinguished at disaster's denouement come back daily, banal: is that brownish-black mole the next chapter? Was the ache enmeshed between my chest and armpit when I washed rogue cells' new claw, or just a muscle ache? I'm not yet desperate enough to take comfort in being predeceased: the anguish when the Harlem doctor, the Jewish dancer, die of AIDS, the Boston seminary's dean succumbs "after brief illness" to cancer.
I like mossed slabs in country cemeteries with wide-paced dates, candles in jars, whose tallow glows on summer evenings, desk-lamp yellow.
Aglow in summer evening, a desk-lamp's yellow moonlight peruses notebooks, houseplants, texts, while an aging woman thinks of sex in the present tense.
Desire may follow, urgent or elegant, cut raw or mellow with wine and ripe black figs: a proof, the next course, a simple question, the complex response, a burning sweetness she will swallow.
The opening mind is sexual and ready to embrace, incarnate in its prime.
Rippling concentrically from summer's gold disc, desire's iris expands, steady with blood beat.
Each time implies the next time.
The aging woman hopes she will grow old.
The aging woman hopes she will grow old.
A younger woman has a dazzling vision of bleeding wrists, her own, the clean incisions suddenly there, two open mouths.
They told their speechless secrets, witnesses not called to what occurred with as little volition of hers as these phantom wounds.
Intense precision of scars, in flesh, in spirit.
I'm enrolled by mine in ranks where now I'm "being brave" if I take off my shirt in a hot crowd sunbathing, or demonstrating for Dyke Pride.
Her bravery counters the kitchen knives' insinuation that the scars be made.
With, or despite our scars, we stay alive.
"With, or despite our scars, we stayed alive until the Contras or the Government or rebel troops came, until we were sent to 'relocation camps' until the archives burned, until we dug the ditch, the grave beside the aspen grove where adolescent boys used to cut class, until we went to the precinct house, eager to behave like citizens.
.
.
" I count my hours and days, finger for luck the word-scarred table which is not my witness, shares all innocent objects' silence: a tin plate, a basement door, a spade, barbed wire, a ring of keys, an unwrapped icon, too potent to touch.
Written by Langston Hughes | Create an image from this poem

Democracy

 Democracy will not come
Today, this year
 Nor ever
Through compromise and fear.
I have as much right As the other fellow has To stand On my two feet And own the land.
I tire so of hearing people say, Let things take their course.
Tomorrow is another day.
I do not need my freedom when I'm dead.
I cannot live on tomorrow's bread.
Freedom Is a strong seed Planted In a great need.
I live here, too.
I want freedom Just as you.
Written by A R Ammons | Create an image from this poem

Identity

 1) An individual spider web
identifies a species:

an order of instinct prevails
 through all accidents of circumstance,
  though possibility is
high along the peripheries of
spider
   webs:
   you can go all
  around the fringing attachments

  and find
disorder ripe,
entropy rich, high levels of random,
 numerous occasions of accident:

2) the possible settings
of a web are infinite:

 how does
the spider keep
  identity
 while creating the web
 in a particular place?

 how and to what extent
  and by what modes of chemistry
  and control?

it is
wonderful
 how things work: I will tell you
   about it
   because

it is interesting
and because whatever is
moves in weeds
 and stars and spider webs
and known
   is loved:
  in that love,
  each of us knowing it,
  I love you,

for it moves within and beyond us,
  sizzles in
to winter grasses, darts and hangs with bumblebees
by summer windowsills:

   I will show you
the underlying that takes no image to itself,
 cannot be shown or said,
but weaves in and out of moons and bladderweeds,
   is all and
 beyond destruction
 because created fully in no
particular form:

   if the web were perfectly pre-set,
   the spider could
  never find
  a perfect place to set it in: and

   if the web were
perfectly adaptable,
if freedom and possibility were without limit,
   the web would
lose its special identity:

 the row-strung garden web
keeps order at the center
where space is freest (intersecting that the freest
  "medium" should
  accept the firmest order)

and that
order
   diminishes toward the
periphery
 allowing at the points of contact
  entropy equal to entropy.