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Best Famous Places Poems

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by Edward Estlin (E E) Cummings |

You Are Tired

You are tired 
(I think)
Of the always puzzle of living and doing;
And so am I.
Come with me then 
And we'll leave it far and far away-
(Only you and I understand!)

You have played 
(I think)
And broke the toys you were fondest of 
And are a little tired now;
Tired of things that break and-
Just tired.
So am I.

But I come with a dream in my eyes tonight 
And knock with a rose at the hopeless gate of your heart-
Open to me!
For I will show you the places Nobody knows 
And if you like 
The perfect places of Sleep.

Ah come with me!
I'll blow you that wonderful bubble the moon 
That floats forever and a day;
I'll sing you the jacinth song
Of the probable stars;
I will attempt the unstartled steppes of dream 
Until I find the Only Flower 
Which shall keep (I think) your little heart
While the moon comes out of the sea.

by Edmund Spenser |


YE learn¨¨d sisters, which have oftentimes 
Beene to me ayding, others to adorne, 
Whom ye thought worthy of your gracefull rymes, 
That even the greatest did not greatly scorne 
To heare theyr names sung in your simple layes, 5 
But joy¨¨d in theyr praise; 
And when ye list your owne mishaps to mourne, 
Which death, or love, or fortunes wreck did rayse, 
Your string could soone to sadder tenor turne, 
And teach the woods and waters to lament 10 
Your dolefull dreriment: 
Now lay those sorrowfull complaints aside; 
And, having all your heads with girlands crownd, 
Helpe me mine owne loves prayses to resound; 
Ne let the same of any be envide: 15 
So Orpheus did for his owne bride! 
So I unto my selfe alone will sing; 
The woods shall to me answer, and my Eccho ring. 

Early, before the worlds light-giving lampe 
His golden beame upon the hils doth spred, 20 
Having disperst the nights unchearefull dampe, 
Doe ye awake; and, with fresh lusty-hed, 
Go to the bowre of my belov¨¨d love, 
My truest turtle dove; 
Bid her awake; for Hymen is awake, 25 
And long since ready forth his maske to move, 
With his bright Tead that flames with many a flake, 
And many a bachelor to waite on him, 
In theyr fresh garments trim. 
Bid her awake therefore, and soone her dight, 30 
For lo! the wish¨¨d day is come at last, 
That shall, for all the paynes and sorrowes past, 
Pay to her usury of long delight: 
And, whylest she doth her dight, 
Doe ye to her of joy and solace sing, 35 
That all the woods may answer, and your eccho ring. 

Bring with you all the Nymphes that you can heare 
Both of the rivers and the forrests greene, 
And of the sea that neighbours to her neare: 
Al with gay girlands goodly wel beseene. 40 
And let them also with them bring in hand 
Another gay girland 
For my fayre love, of lillyes and of roses, 
Bound truelove wize, with a blew silke riband. 
And let them make great store of bridale poses, 45 
And let them eeke bring store of other flowers, 
To deck the bridale bowers. 
And let the ground whereas her foot shall tread, 
For feare the stones her tender foot should wrong, 
Be strewed with fragrant flowers all along, 50 
And diapred lyke the discolored mead. 
Which done, doe at her chamber dore awayt, 
For she will waken strayt; 
The whiles doe ye this song unto her sing, 
The woods shall to you answer, and your Eccho ring. 55 

Ye Nymphes of Mulla, which with carefull heed 
The silver scaly trouts doe tend full well, 
And greedy pikes which use therein to feed; 
(Those trouts and pikes all others doo excell;) 
And ye likewise, which keepe the rushy lake, 60 
Where none doo fishes take; 
Bynd up the locks the which hang scatterd light, 
And in his waters, which your mirror make, 
Behold your faces as the christall bright, 
That when you come whereas my love doth lie, 65 
No blemish she may spie. 
And eke, ye lightfoot mayds, which keepe the deere, 
That on the hoary mountayne used to towre; 
And the wylde wolves, which seeke them to devoure, 
With your steele darts doo chace from comming neer; 70 
Be also present heere, 
To helpe to decke her, and to help to sing, 
That all the woods may answer, and your eccho ring. 

Wake now, my love, awake! for it is time; 
The Rosy Morne long since left Tithones bed, 75 
All ready to her silver coche to clyme; 
And Phoebus gins to shew his glorious hed. 
Hark! how the cheerefull birds do chaunt theyr laies 
And carroll of Loves praise. 
The merry Larke hir mattins sings aloft; 80 
The Thrush replyes; the Mavis descant playes; 
The Ouzell shrills; the Ruddock warbles soft; 
So goodly all agree, with sweet consent, 
To this dayes merriment. 
Ah! my deere love, why doe ye sleepe thus long? 85 
When meeter were that ye should now awake, 
T' awayt the comming of your joyous make, 
And hearken to the birds love-learn¨¨d song, 
The deawy leaves among! 
Nor they of joy and pleasance to you sing, 90 
That all the woods them answer, and theyr eccho ring. 

My love is now awake out of her dreames, 
And her fayre eyes, like stars that dimm¨¨d were 
With darksome cloud, now shew theyr goodly beams 
More bright then Hesperus his head doth rere. 95 
Come now, ye damzels, daughters of delight, 
Helpe quickly her to dight: 
But first come ye fayre houres, which were begot 
In Joves sweet paradice of Day and Night; 
Which doe the seasons of the yeare allot, 100 
And al, that ever in this world is fayre, 
Doe make and still repayre: 
And ye three handmayds of the Cyprian Queene, 
The which doe still adorne her beauties pride, 
Helpe to addorne my beautifullest bride: 105 
And, as ye her array, still throw betweene 
Some graces to be seene; 
And, as ye use to Venus, to her sing, 
The whiles the woods shal answer, and your eccho ring. 

Now is my love all ready forth to come: 110 
Let all the virgins therefore well awayt: 
And ye fresh boyes, that tend upon her groome, 
Prepare your selves; for he is comming strayt. 
Set all your things in seemely good aray, 
Fit for so joyfull day: 115 
The joyfulst day that ever sunne did see. 
Faire Sun! shew forth thy favourable ray, 
And let thy lifull heat not fervent be, 
For feare of burning her sunshyny face, 
Her beauty to disgrace. 120 
O fayrest Phoebus! father of the Muse! 
If ever I did honour thee aright, 
Or sing the thing that mote thy mind delight, 
Doe not thy servants simple boone refuse; 
But let this day, let this one day, be myne; 125 
Let all the rest be thine. 
Then I thy soverayne prayses loud wil sing, 
That all the woods shal answer, and theyr eccho ring. 

Harke! how the Minstrils gin to shrill aloud 
Their merry Musick that resounds from far, 130 
The pipe, the tabor, and the trembling Croud, 
That well agree withouten breach or jar. 
But, most of all, the Damzels doe delite 
When they their tymbrels smyte, 
And thereunto doe daunce and carrol sweet, 135 
That all the sences they doe ravish quite; 
The whyles the boyes run up and downe the street, 
Crying aloud with strong confus¨¨d noyce, 
As if it were one voyce, 
Hymen, i? Hymen, Hymen, they do shout; 140 
That even to the heavens theyr shouting shrill 
Doth reach, and all the firmament doth fill; 
To which the people standing all about, 
As in approvance, doe thereto applaud, 
And loud advaunce her laud; 145 
And evermore they Hymen, Hymen sing, 
That al the woods them answer, and theyr eccho ring. 

Loe! where she comes along with portly pace, 
Lyke Phoebe, from her chamber of the East, 
Arysing forth to run her mighty race, 150 
Clad all in white, that seemes a virgin best. 
So well it her beseemes, that ye would weene 
Some angell she had beene. 
Her long loose yellow locks lyke golden wyre, 
Sprinckled with perle, and perling flowres atweene, 155 
Doe lyke a golden mantle her attyre; 
And, being crown¨¨d with a girland greene, 
Seeme lyke some mayden Queene. 
Her modest eyes, abash¨¨d to behold 
So many gazers as on her do stare, 160 
Upon the lowly ground affix¨¨d are; 
Ne dare lift up her countenance too bold, 
But blush to heare her prayses sung so loud, 
So farre from being proud. 
Nathlesse doe ye still loud her prayses sing, 165 
That all the woods may answer, and your eccho ring. 

Tell me, ye merchants daughters, did ye see 
So fayre a creature in your towne before; 
So sweet, so lovely, and so mild as she, 
Adornd with beautyes grace and vertues store? 170 
Her goodly eyes lyke Saphyres shining bright, 
Her forehead yvory white, 
Her cheekes lyke apples which the sun hath rudded, 
Her lips lyke cherryes charming men to byte, 
Her brest like to a bowle of creame uncrudded, 175 
Her paps lyke lyllies budded, 
Her snowie necke lyke to a marble towre; 
And all her body like a pallace fayre, 
Ascending up, with many a stately stayre, 
To honors seat and chastities sweet bowre. 180 
Why stand ye still ye virgins in amaze, 
Upon her so to gaze, 
Whiles ye forget your former lay to sing, 
To which the woods did answer, and your eccho ring? 

But if ye saw that which no eyes can see, 185 
The inward beauty of her lively spright, 
Garnisht with heavenly guifts of high degree, 
Much more then would ye wonder at that sight, 
And stand astonisht lyke to those which red 
Medusaes mazeful hed. 190 
There dwels sweet love, and constant chastity, 
Unspotted fayth, and comely womanhood, 
Regard of honour, and mild modesty; 
There vertue raynes as Queene in royal throne, 
And giveth lawes alone, 195 
The which the base affections doe obay, 
And yeeld theyr services unto her will; 
Ne thought of thing uncomely ever may 
Thereto approch to tempt her mind to ill. 
Had ye once seene these her celestial threasures, 200 
And unreveal¨¨d pleasures, 
Then would ye wonder, and her prayses sing, 
That al the woods should answer, and your echo ring. 

Open the temple gates unto my love, 
Open them wide that she may enter in, 205 
And all the postes adorne as doth behove, 
And all the pillours deck with girlands trim, 
For to receyve this Saynt with honour dew, 
That commeth in to you. 
With trembling steps, and humble reverence, 210 
She commeth in, before th' Almighties view; 
Of her ye virgins learne obedience, 
When so ye come into those holy places, 
To humble your proud faces: 
Bring her up to th' high altar, that she may 215 
The sacred ceremonies there partake, 
The which do endlesse matrimony make; 
And let the roring Organs loudly play 
The praises of the Lord in lively notes; 
The whiles, with hollow throates, 220 
The Choristers the joyous Antheme sing, 
That al the woods may answere, and their eccho ring. 

Behold, whiles she before the altar stands, 
Hearing the holy priest that to her speakes, 
And blesseth her with his two happy hands, 225 
How the red roses flush up in her cheekes, 
And the pure snow, with goodly vermill stayne 
Like crimsin dyde in grayne: 
That even th' Angels, which continually 
About the sacred Altare doe remaine, 230 
Forget their service and about her fly, 
Ofte peeping in her face, that seems more fayre, 
The more they on it stare. 
But her sad eyes, still fastened on the ground, 
Are govern¨¨d with goodly modesty, 235 
That suffers not one looke to glaunce awry, 
Which may let in a little thought unsownd. 
Why blush ye, love, to give to me your hand, 
The pledge of all our band! 
Sing, ye sweet Angels, Alleluya sing, 240 
That all the woods may answere, and your eccho ring. 

Now al is done: bring home the bride againe; 
Bring home the triumph of our victory: 
Bring home with you the glory of her gaine; 
With joyance bring her and with jollity. 245 
Never had man more joyfull day then this, 
Whom heaven would heape with blis, 
Make feast therefore now all this live-long day; 
This day for ever to me holy is. 
Poure out the wine without restraint or stay, 250 
Poure not by cups, but by the belly full, 
Poure out to all that wull, 
And sprinkle all the postes and wals with wine, 
That they may sweat, and drunken be withall. 
Crowne ye God Bacchus with a coronall, 255 
And Hymen also crowne with wreathes of vine; 
And let the Graces daunce unto the rest, 
For they can doo it best: 
The whiles the maydens doe theyr carroll sing, 
To which the woods shall answer, and theyr eccho ring. 260 

Ring ye the bels, ye yong men of the towne, 
And leave your wonted labors for this day: 
This day is holy; doe ye write it downe, 
That ye for ever it remember may. 
This day the sunne is in his chiefest hight, 265 
With Barnaby the bright, 
From whence declining daily by degrees, 
He somewhat loseth of his heat and light, 
When once the Crab behind his back he sees. 
But for this time it ill ordain¨¨d was, 270 
To chose the longest day in all the yeare, 
And shortest night, when longest fitter weare: 
Yet never day so long, but late would passe. 
Ring ye the bels, to make it weare away, 
And bonefiers make all day; 275 
And daunce about them, and about them sing, 
That all the woods may answer, and your eccho ring. 

Ah! when will this long weary day have end, 
And lende me leave to come unto my love? 
How slowly do the houres theyr numbers spend? 280 
How slowly does sad Time his feathers move? 
Hast thee, O fayrest Planet, to thy home, 
Within the Westerne fome: 
Thy tyr¨¨d steedes long since have need of rest. 
Long though it be, at last I see it gloome, 285 
And the bright evening-star with golden creast 
Appeare out of the East. 
Fayre childe of beauty! glorious lampe of love! 
That all the host of heaven in rankes doost lead, 
And guydest lovers through the nights sad dread, 290 
How chearefully thou lookest from above, 
And seemst to laugh atweene thy twinkling light, 
As joying in the sight 
Of these glad many, which for joy doe sing, 
That all the woods them answer, and their echo ring! 295 

Now ceasse, ye damsels, your delights fore-past; 
Enough it is that all the day was youres: 
Now day is doen, and night is nighing fast, 
Now bring the Bryde into the brydall boures. 
The night is come, now soon her disaray, 300 
And in her bed her lay; 
Lay her in lillies and in violets, 
And silken courteins over her display, 
And odourd sheetes, and Arras coverlets. 
Behold how goodly my faire love does ly, 305 
In proud humility! 
Like unto Maia, when as Jove her took 
In Tempe, lying on the flowry gras, 
Twixt sleepe and wake, after she weary was, 
With bathing in the Acidalian brooke. 310 
Now it is night, ye damsels may be gon, 
And leave my love alone, 
And leave likewise your former lay to sing: 
The woods no more shall answere, nor your echo ring. 

Now welcome, night! thou night so long expected, 315 
That long daies labour doest at last defray, 
And all my cares, which cruell Love collected, 
Hast sumd in one, and cancell¨¨d for aye: 
Spread thy broad wing over my love and me, 
That no man may us see; 320 
And in thy sable mantle us enwrap, 
From feare of perrill and foule horror free. 
Let no false treason seeke us to entrap, 
Nor any dread disquiet once annoy 
The safety of our joy; 325 
But let the night be calme, and quietsome, 
Without tempestuous storms or sad afray: 
Lyke as when Jove with fayre Alcmena lay, 
When he begot the great Tirynthian groome: 
Or lyke as when he with thy selfe did lie 330 
And begot Majesty. 
And let the mayds and yong men cease to sing; 
Ne let the woods them answer nor theyr eccho ring. 

Let no lamenting cryes, nor dolefull teares, 
Be heard all night within, nor yet without: 335 
Ne let false whispers, breeding hidden feares, 
Breake gentle sleepe with misconceiv¨¨d dout. 
Let no deluding dreames, nor dreadfull sights, 
Make sudden sad affrights; 
Ne let house-fyres, nor lightnings helpelesse harmes, 340 
Ne let the Pouke, nor other evill sprights, 
Ne let mischivous witches with theyr charmes, 
Ne let hob Goblins, names whose sence we see not, 
Fray us with things that be not: 
Let not the shriech Oule nor the Storke be heard, 345 
Nor the night Raven, that still deadly yels; 
Nor damn¨¨d ghosts, cald up with mighty spels, 
Nor griesly vultures, make us once affeard: 
Ne let th' unpleasant Quyre of Frogs still croking 
Make us to wish theyr choking. 350 
Let none of these theyr drery accents sing; 
Ne let the woods them answer, nor theyr eccho ring. 

But let stil Silence trew night-watches keepe, 
That sacred Peace may in assurance rayne, 
And tymely Sleep, when it is tyme to sleepe, 355 
May poure his limbs forth on your pleasant playne; 
The whiles an hundred little wing¨¨d loves, 
Like divers-fethered doves, 
Shall fly and flutter round about your bed, 
And in the secret darke, that none reproves, 360 
Their prety stealthes shal worke, and snares shal spread 
To filch away sweet snatches of delight, 
Conceald through covert night. 
Ye sonnes of Venus, play your sports at will! 
For greedy pleasure, carelesse of your toyes, 365 
Thinks more upon her paradise of joyes, 
Then what ye do, albe it good or ill. 
All night therefore attend your merry play, 
For it will soone be day: 
Now none doth hinder you, that say or sing; 370 
Ne will the woods now answer, nor your Eccho ring. 

Who is the same, which at my window peepes? 
Or whose is that faire face that shines so bright? 
Is it not Cinthia, she that never sleepes, 
But walkes about high heaven al the night? 375 
O! fayrest goddesse, do thou not envy 
My love with me to spy: 
For thou likewise didst love, though now unthought, 
And for a fleece of wooll, which privily 
The Latmian shepherd once unto thee brought, 380 
His pleasures with thee wrought. 
Therefore to us be favorable now; 
And sith of wemens labours thou hast charge, 
And generation goodly dost enlarge, 
Encline thy will t'effect our wishfull vow, 385 
And the chast wombe informe with timely seed 
That may our comfort breed: 
Till which we cease our hopefull hap to sing; 
Ne let the woods us answere, nor our Eccho ring. 

And thou, great Juno! which with awful might 390 
The lawes of wedlock still dost patronize; 
And the religion of the faith first plight 
With sacred rites hast taught to solemnize; 
And eeke for comfort often call¨¨d art 
Of women in their smart; 395 
Eternally bind thou this lovely band, 
And all thy blessings unto us impart. 
And thou, glad Genius! in whose gentle hand 
The bridale bowre and geniall bed remaine, 
Without blemish or staine; 400 
And the sweet pleasures of theyr loves delight 
With secret ayde doest succour and supply, 
Till they bring forth the fruitfull progeny; 
Send us the timely fruit of this same night. 
And thou, fayre Hebe! and thou, Hymen free! 405 
Grant that it may so be. 
Til which we cease your further prayse to sing; 
Ne any woods shall answer, nor your Eccho ring. 

And ye high heavens, the temple of the gods, 
In which a thousand torches flaming bright 410 
Doe burne, that to us wretched earthly clods 
In dreadful darknesse lend desir¨¨d light 
And all ye powers which in the same remayne, 
More then we men can fayne! 
Poure out your blessing on us plentiously, 415 
And happy influence upon us raine, 
That we may raise a large posterity, 
Which from the earth, which they may long possesse 
With lasting happinesse, 
Up to your haughty pallaces may mount; 420 
And, for the guerdon of theyr glorious merit, 
May heavenly tabernacles there inherit, 
Of bless¨¨d Saints for to increase the count. 
So let us rest, sweet love, in hope of this, 
And cease till then our tymely joyes to sing: 425 
The woods no more us answer, nor our eccho ring! 

Song! made in lieu of many ornaments, 
With which my love should duly have been dect, 
Which cutting off through hasty accidents, 
Ye would not stay your dew time to expect, 430 
But promist both to recompens; 
Be unto her a goodly ornament, 
And for short time an endlesse moniment. 

GLOSS: tead] torch. ruddock] redbreast. croud] violin.

by Galway Kinnell |

from Flying Home

As this plane dragged 
its track of used ozone half the world long 
thrusts some four hundred of us 
toward places where actual known people 
live and may wait, 
we diminish down in our seats, 
disappeared into novels of lives clearer than ours, 
and yet we do not forget for a moment 
the life down there, the doorway each will soon enter: 
where I will meet her again 
and know her again, 
dark radiance with, and then mostly without, the stars. 

Very likely she has always understood 
what I have slowly learned, 
and which only now, after being away, almost as far away 
as one can get on this globe, almost 
as far as thoughts can carry - yet still in her presence, 
still surrounded not so much by reminders of her 
as by things she had already reminded me of, 
shadows of her 
cast forward and waiting - can I try to express: 

that love is hard, 
that while many good things are easy, true love is not, 
because love is first of all a power, 
its own power, 
which continually must make its way forward, from night 
into day, from transcending union always forward into difficult day. 

And as the plane descends, it comes to me 
in the space 
where tears stream down across the stars, 
tears fallen on the actual earth 
where their shining is what we call spirit, 
that once the lover 
recognizes the other, knows for the first time 
what is most to be valued in another, 
from then on, love is very much like courage, 
perhaps it is courage, and even 
only courage. Squashed 
out of old selves, smearing the darkness 
of expectation across experience, all of us little 
thinkers it brings home having similar thoughts 
of landing to the imponderable world, 
the transoceanic airliner, 
resting its huge weight down, comes in almost lightly, 
to where 
with sudden, tiny, white puffs and long, black, rubberish smears 
all its tires know the home ground.

by Elizabeth Bishop |

One Art

The art of losing isn't hard to master;
so many things seem filled with the intent
to be lost that their loss is no disaster.

Lose something every day. Accept the fluster
of lost door keys the hour badly spent.
The art of losing isn't hard to master.

Then practice losing farther losing faster:
places and names and where it was your meant
to travel. None of these will bring disaster.

I lost my mother's watch. And look! my last or
next-to-last of three loved housed went.
The art of losing isn't hard to master.

I lose two cities lovely ones. And vaster 
some realms I owned two rivers a continent.
I miss them but it wasn't a disaster.

--Even losing you (the joking voice a gesture
I love) I shan't have lied. It's evident
the art of losing's not too hard to master
though it may look like (Write it!) like disaster.

by Philip Larkin |

Church Going

Once i am sure there's nothing going on
I step inside letting the door thud shut.
Another church: matting seats and stone 
and little books; sprawlings of flowers cut
For Sunday brownish now; some brass and stuff
Up at the holy end; the small neat organ;
And a tense musty unignorable silence 
Brewed God knows how long. Hatless I take off
My cylce-clips in awkward revrence 

Move forward run my hand around the font.
From where i stand the roof looks almost new--
Cleaned or restored? someone would know: I don't.
Mounting the lectern I peruse a few
hectoring large-scale verses and pronouce
Here endeth much more loudly than I'd meant
The echoes snigger briefly. Back at the door
I sign the book donate an Irish sixpence 
Reflect the place was not worth stopping for.

Yet stop I did: in fact I often do 
And always end much at a loss like this 
Wondering what to look for; wondering too
When churches fall completely out of use
What we shall turn them into if we shall keep
A few cathedrals chronically on show 
Their parchment plate and pyx in locked cases 
And let the rest rent-free to rain and sheep.
Shall we avoid them as unlucky places?

Or after dark will dubious women come
To make their children touvh a particular stone;
Pick simples for a cancer; or on some
Advised night see walking a dead one?
Power of some sort or other will go on
In games in riddles seemingly at random;
But superstition like belief must die 
And what remains when disbelief has gone?
Grass weedy pavement brambles butress sky.

A shape less recognisable each week 
A purpose more obscure. I wonder who
Will be the last the very last to seek
This place for whta it was; one of the crew
That tap and jot and know what rood-lofts were?
Some ruin-bibber randy for antique 
Or Christmas-addict counting on a whiff
Of grown-and-bands and organ-pipes and myrrh?
Or will he be my representative 

Bored uninformed knowing the ghostly silt
Dispersed yet tending to this cross of ground
Through suburb scrub because it held unspilt
So long and equably what since is found
Only in separation--marriage and birth 
And death and thoughts of these--for which was built
This special shell? For though I've no idea
What this accoutred frowsty barn is worth 
It pleases me to stand in silence here;

A serious house on serious earth it is 
In whose blent air all our compulsions meet 
Are recognisd and robed as destinies.
And that much never can be obsolete 
Since someone will forever be surprising
A hunger in himself to be more serious 
And gravitating with it to this ground 
Which he once heard was proper to grow wise in 
If only that so many dead lie round.


by Galway Kinnell |

The Bear

In late winter 
I sometimes glimpse bits of steam
coming up from
some fault in the old snow 
and bend close and see it is lung-colored 
and put down my nose
and know
the chilly, enduring odor of bear. 

I take a wolf's rib and whittle
it sharp at both ends
and coil it up
and freeze it in blubber and place it out
on the fairway of the bears. 

And when it has vanished
I move out on the bear tracks, 
roaming in circles 
until I come to the first, tentative, dark
splash on the earth. 

And I set out 
running, following the splashes 
of blood wandering over the world. 
At the cut, gashed resting places 
I stop and rest, 
at the crawl-marks 
where he lay out on his belly 
to overpass some stretch of bauchy ice 
I lie out 
dragging myself forward with bear-knives in my fists. 

On the third day I begin to starve, 
at nightfall I bend down as I knew I would 
at a turd sopped in blood, 
and hesitate, and pick it up, 
and thrust it in my mouth, and gnash it down, 
and rise 
and go on running. 

On the seventh day, 
living by now on bear blood alone, 
I can see his upturned carcass far out ahead, a scraggled, 
steamy hulk, 
the heavy fur riffling in the wind. 

I come up to him 
and stare at the narrow-spaced, petty eyes, 
the dismayed 
face laid back on the shoulder, the nostrils 
flared, catching 
perhaps the first taint of me as he 

I hack 
a ravine in his thigh, and eat and drink, 
and tear him down his whole length 
and open him and climb in 
and close him up after me, against the wind, 
and sleep. 

And dream
of lumbering flatfooted
over the tundra, 
stabbed twice from within, 
splattering a trail behind me, 
splattering it out no matter which way I lurch, 
no matter which parabola of bear-transcendence, 
which dance of solitude I attempt, 
which gravity-clutched leap, 
which trudge, which groan. 

Until one day I totter and fall -- 
fall on this 
stomach that has tried so hard to keep up, 
to digest the blood as it leaked in, 
to break up 
and digest the bone itself: and now the breeze 
blows over me, blows off 
the hideous belches of ill-digested bear blood 
and rotted stomach 
and the ordinary, wretched odor of bear, 

blows across 
my sore, lolled tongue a song 
or screech, until I think I must rise up 
and dance. And I lie still. 

I awaken I think. Marshlights 
reappear, geese 
come trailing again up the flyway. 
In her ravine under old snow the dam-bear 
lies, licking 
lumps of smeared fur 
and drizzly eyes into shapes 
with her tongue. And one 
hairy-soled trudge stuck out before me, 
the next groaned out, 
the next, 
the next, 
the rest of my days I spend 
wandering: wondering 
what, anyway, 
was that sticky infusion, that rank flavor of blood, that 
poetry, by which I lived? 

from Body Rags, Galway Kinnell (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1967). 

by Razvan ?upa |

pain is a foreign language

a romanian body knows how to sidestep decisions it feels
that in such cases it can no longer justify its comfortable suffering
for this with your entire body you must stay here until it’s very late
you can be a keychain or a gummed sticker
but one day the music of breathing will disappear
all on its own

or conversely

my hands ready to receive silence
like a sandwich I waited in the bus station
until I was on the verge of tears
the air had the freshness of new leaves
I’d prepared everything; men had taken their places
I just had to watch out for the arrow-swift hordes of evening
they were debating what part of me should be devoured first

they couldn’t believe it when I arose with easy strides
to take charge of matters
in my native language as on a skateboard

(translated from the Romanian by Adam J. Sorkin with the poet, published in elimae, 10, 2010)

by Ben Jonson |

Epistle to Elizabeth, Countess of Rutland



That which, to boot with hell, is thought worth heaven,
And for it, life, conscience, yea souls are given,
Toils, by grave custom, up and down the court,
To every squire, or groom, that will report
Well or ill, only all the following year,
Just to the weight their this day's presents bear ;
While it makes huishers serviceable men,Of some grand peer, whose air doth make rejoice
The fool that gave it ;  who will want and weep,
When his proud patron's favors are asleep ;
While thus it buys great grace, and hunts poor fame ;
Runs between man and man ;  'tween dame, and dame ;
Solders crack'd friendship ; makes love last a day ;
Or perhaps less :  whilst gold bears all this sway,
I, that have none to send you, send you verse.Than this our gilt, nor golden age can deem,
When gold was made no weapon to cut throats,
Or put to flight Astrea, when her ingóts
Were yet unfound, and better placed in earth,
Than here, to give pride fame, and peasants birth,
But let this dross carry what price it will
With noble ignorants, and let them still
Turn upon scorned verse, their quarter-face :Were it to think, that you should not inherit
His love unto the Muses, when his skill
Almost you have, or may have when you will !
Wherein wise nature you a dowry gave,
Worth an estate, treble to that you have.
Beauty I know is good, and blood is more ;
Riches thought most ;  but, madam, think what store
The world hath seen, which all these had in trust,And at her strong arm's end, hold up, and even,
The souls she loves.  Those other glorious notes,
Inscribed in touch or marble, or the coats
Painted, or carv'd upon our great men's tombs,
Or in their windows, do but prove the wombs
That bred them, graves : when they were born they died, 
That had no muse to make their fame abide.
How many equal with the Argive queen,Or, in an army's head, that lock'd in brass
Gave killing strokes.  There were brave men before
Ajax, or Idomen, or all the store
That Homer brought to Troy ;  yet none so live,
Because they lack'd the sacred pen could give
Like life unto them.  Who heav'd Hercules
Unto the stars, or the Tindarides ?
Who placed Jason's Argo in the sky,Or lifted Cassiopea in her chair,
But only poets, rapt with rage divine ?
And such, or my hopes fail, shall make you shine.
You, and that other star, that purest light,
Of all Lucina's train, Lucy the bright ;
Than which a nobler heaven itself knows not ;
Who, though she hath a better verser got,
Or poet, in the court-account, than I,To my less sanguine muse, wherein she hath won
My grateful soul, the subject of her powers,
I have already used some happy hours,
To her remembrance ;  which when time shall bring
To curious light, to notes I then shall sing,
Will prove old Orpheus' act no tale to be :
For I shall move stocks, stones, no less than he.
Then all that have but done my Muse least grace,Had not their form touch'd by an English wit.
There, like a rich and golden pyramed,
Borne up by statues, shall I rear your head
Above your under-carved ornaments,
And shew how to the life my soul presents
Your form imprest there :  not with tickling rhymes,
Or common-places, filch'd, that take these times,
But high and noble matter, such as fliesAnd your brave friend and mine so well did love.
Who, wheresoe'er he be ?
The rest is lost.        

Whilst that for which all virtue now is sold,
And almost every vice, almighty gold,
That which, to boot with hell, is thought worth heaven,
And for it, life, conscience, yea souls are given,
Toils, by grave custom, up and down the court,
To every squire, or groom, that will report
Well or ill, only all the following year,
Just to the weight their this day's presents bear ;
While it makes huishers serviceable men,

by Alice Walker |

When Golda Meir was in Africa

When Golda Meir
Was in Africa
She shook out her hair
And combed it
Everywhere she went.

According to her autobiography
Africans loved this.

In Russia, Minneapolis, London, Washington, D.C.,
Germany, Palestine, Tel Aviv and
She never combed at all.
There was no point. In those
Places people said, "She looks like
Any other aging grandmother. She looks
Like a troll. Let's sell her cookery
And guns."

"Kreplach your cookery," said Golda.

Only in Africa could she finally
Settle down and comb her hair.
The children crept up and stroked it,
And she felt beautiful.

Such wonderful people, Africans
Childish, arrogant, self-indulgent, pompous,
Cowardly and treacherous-a great disappointment
To Israel, of course, and really rather
Ridiculous in international affairs
But, withal, opined Golda, a people of charm
And good taste. 

by Du Fu |

Facing Snow

Battle cry many new ghosts
Worry and grieve alone old man
Disorder cloud low dusk
Rapid snow dance return wind
Gourd ladle discard cup without green
Stove remain fire like red
Many place news broken
Worry sit straight book empty

After the battle, many new ghosts cry,
The solitary old man worries and grieves.
Ragged clouds are low amid the dusk,
Snow dances quickly in the whirling wind.
The ladle's cast aside, the cup not green,
The stove still looks as if a fiery red.
To many places, communications are broken,
I sit, but cannot read my books for grief.