Submit Poems
Get Your Premium Membership

Best Famous Simple Poems

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

Search for the best famous Simple poems, articles about Simple poems, poetry blogs, or anything else Simple poem related using the PoetrySoup search engine at the top of the page.

See Also:
Written by C S Lewis | Create an image from this poem

On Being Human

 Angelic minds, they say, by simple intelligence 
Behold the Forms of nature.
They discern Unerringly the Archtypes, all the verities Which mortals lack or indirectly learn.
Transparent in primordial truth, unvarying, Pure Earthness and right Stonehood from their clear, High eminence are seen; unveiled, the seminal Huge Principles appear.
The Tree-ness of the tree they know-the meaning of Arboreal life, how from earth's salty lap The solar beam uplifts it; all the holiness Enacted by leaves' fall and rising sap; But never an angel knows the knife-edged severance Of sun from shadow where the trees begin, The blessed cool at every pore caressing us -An angel has no skin.
They see the Form of Air; but mortals breathing it Drink the whole summer down into the breast.
The lavish pinks, the field new-mown, the ravishing Sea-smells, the wood-fire smoke that whispers Rest.
The tremor on the rippled pool of memory That from each smell in widening circles goes, The pleasure and the pang --can angels measure it? An angel has no nose.
The nourishing of life, and how it flourishes On death, and why, they utterly know; but not The hill-born, earthy spring, the dark cold bilberries.
The ripe peach from the southern wall still hot Full-bellied tankards foamy-topped, the delicate Half-lyric lamb, a new loaf's billowy curves, Nor porridge, nor the tingling taste of oranges.
—An angel has no nerves.
Far richer they! I know the senses' witchery Guards us like air, from heavens too big to see; Imminent death to man that barb'd sublimity And dazzling edge of beauty unsheathed would be.
Yet here, within this tiny, charmed interior, This parlour of the brain, their Maker shares With living men some secrets in a privacy Forever ours, not theirs.
Written by Robert Frost | Create an image from this poem

My November Guest

 My Sorrow, when she's here with me,
Thinks these dark days of autumn rain
Are beautiful as days can be;
She loves the bare, the withered tree;
She walks the sodden pasture lane.
Her pleasure will not let me stay.
She talks and I am fain to list: She's glad the birds are gone away, She's glad her simple worsted grady Is silver now with clinging mist.
The desolate, deserted trees, The faded earth, the heavy sky, The beauties she so ryly sees, She thinks I have no eye for these, And vexes me for reason why.
Not yesterday I learned to know The love of bare November days Before the coming of the snow, But it were vain to tell he so, And they are better for her praise.
Written by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow | Create an image from this poem

The Day is Done

THE DAY is done and the darkness 
Falls from the wings of Night  
As a feather is wafted downward 
From an eagle in his flight.
I see the lights of the village 5 Gleam through the rain and the mist And a feeling of sadness comes o'er me That my soul cannot resist: A feeling of sadness and longing That is not akin to pain 10 And resembles sorrow only As the mist resembles the rain.
Come read to me some poem Some simple and heartfelt lay That shall soothe this restless feeling 15 And banish the thoughts of day.
Not from the grand old masters Not from the bards sublime Whose distant footsteps echo Through the corridors of Time.
20 For like strains of martial music Their mighty thoughts suggest Life's endless toil and endeavor; And to-night I long for rest.
Read from some humbler poet 25 Whose songs gushed from his heart As showers from the clouds of summer Or tears from the eyelids start; Who through long days of labor And nights devoid of ease 30 Still heard in his soul the music Of wonderful melodies.
Such songs have power to quiet The restless pulse of care And come like the benediction 35 That follows after prayer.
Then read from the treasured volume The poem of thy choice And lend to the rhyme of the poet The beauty of thy voice.
40 And the night shall be filled with music And the cares that infest the day Shall fold their tents like the Arabs And as silently steal away.
Written by Lewis Carroll | Create an image from this poem

Four Riddles


There was an ancient City, stricken down
With a strange frenzy, and for many a day
They paced from morn to eve the crowded town,
And danced the night away.
I asked the cause: the aged man grew sad: They pointed to a building gray and tall, And hoarsely answered "Step inside, my lad, And then you'll see it all.
" Yet what are all such gaieties to me Whose thoughts are full of indices and surds? x*x + 7x + 53 = 11/3 But something whispered "It will soon be done: Bands cannot always play, nor ladies smile: Endure with patience the distasteful fun For just a little while!" A change came o'er my Vision - it was night: We clove a pathway through a frantic throng: The steeds, wild-plunging, filled us with affright: The chariots whirled along.
Within a marble hall a river ran - A living tide, half muslin and half cloth: And here one mourned a broken wreath or fan, Yet swallowed down her wrath; And here one offered to a thirsty fair (His words half-drowned amid those thunders tuneful) Some frozen viand (there were many there), A tooth-ache in each spoonful.
There comes a happy pause, for human strength Will not endure to dance without cessation; And every one must reach the point at length Of absolute prostration.
At such a moment ladies learn to give, To partners who would urge them over-much, A flat and yet decided negative - Photographers love such.
There comes a welcome summons - hope revives, And fading eyes grow bright, and pulses quicken: Incessant pop the corks, and busy knives Dispense the tongue and chicken.
Flushed with new life, the crowd flows back again: And all is tangled talk and mazy motion - Much like a waving field of golden grain, Or a tempestuous ocean.
And thus they give the time, that Nature meant For peaceful sleep and meditative snores, To ceaseless din and mindless merriment And waste of shoes and floors.
And One (we name him not) that flies the flowers, That dreads the dances, and that shuns the salads, They doom to pass in solitude the hours, Writing acrostic-ballads.
How late it grows! The hour is surely past That should have warned us with its double knock? The twilight wanes, and morning comes at last - "Oh, Uncle, what's o'clock?" The Uncle gravely nods, and wisely winks.
It MAY mean much, but how is one to know? He opens his mouth - yet out of it, methinks, No words of wisdom flow.
II Empress of Art, for thee I twine This wreath with all too slender skill.
Forgive my Muse each halting line, And for the deed accept the will! O day of tears! Whence comes this spectre grim, Parting, like Death's cold river, souls that love? Is not he bound to thee, as thou to him, By vows, unwhispered here, yet heard above? And still it lives, that keen and heavenward flame, Lives in his eye, and trembles in his tone: And these wild words of fury but proclaim A heart that beats for thee, for thee alone! But all is lost: that mighty mind o'erthrown, Like sweet bells jangled, piteous sight to see! "Doubt that the stars are fire," so runs his moan, "Doubt Truth herself, but not my love for thee!" A sadder vision yet: thine aged sire Shaming his hoary locks with treacherous wile! And dost thou now doubt Truth to be a liar? And wilt thou die, that hast forgot to smile? Nay, get thee hence! Leave all thy winsome ways And the faint fragrance of thy scattered flowers: In holy silence wait the appointed days, And weep away the leaden-footed hours.
The air is bright with hues of light And rich with laughter and with singing: Young hearts beat high in ecstasy, And banners wave, and bells are ringing: But silence falls with fading day, And there's an end to mirth and play.
Ah, well-a-day Rest your old bones, ye wrinkled crones! The kettle sings, the firelight dances.
Deep be it quaffed, the magic draught That fills the soul with golden fancies! For Youth and Pleasance will not stay, And ye are withered, worn, and gray.
Ah, well-a-day! O fair cold face! O form of grace, For human passion madly yearning! O weary air of dumb despair, From marble won, to marble turning! "Leave us not thus!" we fondly pray.
"We cannot let thee pass away!" Ah, well-a-day! IV.
My First is singular at best: More plural is my Second: My Third is far the pluralest - So plural-plural, I protest It scarcely can be reckoned! My First is followed by a bird: My Second by believers In magic art: my simple Third Follows, too often, hopes absurd And plausible deceivers.
My First to get at wisdom tries - A failure melancholy! My Second men revered as wise: My Third from heights of wisdom flies To depths of frantic folly.
My First is ageing day by day: My Second's age is ended: My Third enjoys an age, they say, That never seems to fade away, Through centuries extended.
My Whole? I need a poet's pen To paint her myriad phases: The monarch, and the slave, of men - A mountain-summit, and a den Of dark and deadly mazes - A flashing light - a fleeting shade - Beginning, end, and middle Of all that human art hath made Or wit devised! Go, seek HER aid, If you would read my riddle!
Written by Elizabeth Barrett Browning | Create an image from this poem

The Deserted Garden

I MIND me in the days departed, 
How often underneath the sun 
With childish bounds I used to run 
To a garden long deserted.
The beds and walks were vanish'd quite; 5 And wheresoe'er had struck the spade, The greenest grasses Nature laid, To sanctify her right.
I call'd the place my wilderness, For no one enter'd there but I.
10 The sheep look'd in, the grass to espy, And pass'd it ne'ertheless.
The trees were interwoven wild, And spread their boughs enough about To keep both sheep and shepherd out, 15 But not a happy child.
Adventurous joy it was for me! I crept beneath the boughs, and found A circle smooth of mossy ground Beneath a poplar-tree.
20 Old garden rose-trees hedged it in, Bedropt with roses waxen-white, Well satisfied with dew and light, And careless to be seen.
Long years ago, it might befall, 25 When all the garden flowers were trim, The grave old gardener prided him On these the most of all.
Some Lady, stately overmuch, Here moving with a silken noise, 30 Has blush'd beside them at the voice That liken'd her to such.
Or these, to make a diadem, She often may have pluck'd and twined; Half-smiling as it came to mind, 35 That few would look at them.
O, little thought that Lady proud, A child would watch her fair white rose, When buried lay her whiter brows, And silk was changed for shroud!¡ª 40 Nor thought that gardener (full of scorns For men unlearn'd and simple phrase) A child would bring it all its praise, By creeping through the thorns! To me upon my low moss seat, 45 Though never a dream the roses sent Of science or love's compliment, I ween they smelt as sweet.
It did not move my grief to see The trace of human step departed: 50 Because the garden was deserted, The blither place for me! Friends, blame me not! a narrow ken Hath childhood 'twixt the sun and sward: We draw the moral afterward¡ª 55 We feel the gladness then.
And gladdest hours for me did glide In silence at the rose-tree wall: A thrush made gladness musical Upon the other side.
60 Nor he nor I did e'er incline To peck or pluck the blossoms white:¡ª How should I know but that they might Lead lives as glad as mine? To make my hermit-home complete, 65 I brought clear water from the spring Praised in its own low murmuring, And cresses glossy wet.
And so, I thought, my likeness grew (Without the melancholy tale) 70 To 'gentle hermit of the dale,' And Angelina too.
For oft I read within my nook Such minstrel stories; till the breeze Made sounds poetic in the trees, 75 And then I shut the book.
If I shut this wherein I write, I hear no more the wind athwart Those trees, nor feel that childish heart Delighting in delight.
80 My childhood from my life is parted, My footstep from the moss which drew Its fairy circle round: anew The garden is deserted.
Another thrush may there rehearse 85 The madrigals which sweetest are; No more for me!¡ªmyself afar Do sing a sadder verse.
Ah me! ah me! when erst I lay In that child's-nest so greenly wrought, 90 I laugh'd unto myself and thought, 'The time will pass away.
' And still I laugh'd, and did not fear But that, whene'er was pass'd away The childish time, some happier play 95 My womanhood would cheer.
I knew the time would pass away; And yet, beside the rose-tree wall, Dear God, how seldom, if at all, Did I look up to pray! 100 The time is past: and now that grows The cypress high among the trees, And I behold white sepulchres As well as the white rose,¡ª When wiser, meeker thoughts are given, 105 And I have learnt to lift my face, Reminded how earth's greenest place The colour draws from heaven,¡ª It something saith for earthly pain, But more for heavenly promise free, 110 That I who was, would shrink to be That happy child again.
Written by Anne Sexton | Create an image from this poem


 It is in the small things we see it.
The child's first step, as awesome as an earthquake.
The first time you rode a bike, wallowing up the sidewalk.
The first spanking when your heart went on a journey all alone.
When they called you crybaby or poor or fatty or crazy and made you into an alien, you drank their acid and concealed it.
Later, if you faced the death of bombs and bullets you did not do it with a banner, you did it with only a hat to comver your heart.
You did not fondle the weakness inside you though it was there.
Your courage was a small coal that you kept swallowing.
If your buddy saved you and died himself in so doing, then his courage was not courage, it was love; love as simple as shaving soap.
Later, if you have endured a great despair, then you did it alone, getting a transfusion from the fire, picking the scabs off your heart, then wringing it out like a sock.
Next, my kinsman, you powdered your sorrow, you gave it a back rub and then you covered it with a blanket and after it had slept a while it woke to the wings of the roses and was transformed.
Later, when you face old age and its natural conclusion your courage will still be shown in the little ways, each spring will be a sword you'll sharpen, those you love will live in a fever of love, and you'll bargain with the calendar and at the last moment when death opens the back door you'll put on your carpet slippers and stride out.
Written by Pablo Neruda | Create an image from this poem

Morning (Love Sonnet XXVII)

 Naked you are simple as one of your hands;
Smooth, earthy, small, transparent, round.
You've moon-lines, apple pathways Naked you are slender as a naked grain of wheat.
Naked you are blue as a night in Cuba; You've vines and stars in your hair.
Naked you are spacious and yellow As summer in a golden church.
Naked you are tiny as one of your nails; Curved, subtle, rosy, till the day is born And you withdraw to the underground world.
As if down a long tunnel of clothing and of chores; Your clear light dims, gets dressed, drops its leaves, And becomes a naked hand again.
Written by Henry Van Dyke | Create an image from this poem


 "Do you give thanks for this? -- or that?" 
No, God be thanked
I am not grateful
In that cold, calculating way, with blessing ranked
As one, two, three, and four, -- that would be hateful.
I only know that every day brings good above" My poor deserving; I only feel that, in the road of Life, true Love Is leading me along and never swerving.
Whatever gifts and mercies in my lot may fall, I would not measure As worth a certain price in praise, or great or small; But take and use them all with simple pleasure.
For when we gladly eat our daily bread, we bless The Hand that feeds us; And when we tread the road of Life in cheerfulness, Our very heart-beats praise the Love that leads us.
Written by William Wordsworth | Create an image from this poem


  A simple child, dear brother Jim,
  That lightly draws its breath,
  And feels its life in every limb,
  What should it know of death?

  I met a little cottage girl,
  She was eight years old, she said;
  Her hair was thick with many a curl
  That cluster'd round her head.

  She had a rustic, woodland air,
  And she was wildly clad;
  Her eyes were fair, and very fair,
  —Her beauty made me glad.

  "Sisters and brothers, little maid,
  How many may you be?"
  "How many? seven in all," she said,
  And wondering looked at me.

  "And where are they, I pray you tell?"
  She answered, "Seven are we,
  And two of us at Conway dwell,
  And two are gone to sea.

  "Two of us in the church-yard lie,
  My sister and my brother,
  And in the church-yard cottage, I
  Dwell near them with my mother.

  "You say that two at Conway dwell,
  And two are gone to sea,
  Yet you are seven; I pray you tell
  Sweet Maid, how this may be?"

  Then did the little Maid reply,
  "Seven boys and girls are we;
  Two of us in the church-yard lie,
  Beneath the church-yard tree.

  "You run about, my little maid,
  Your limbs they are alive;
  If two are in the church-yard laid,
  Then ye are only five.

  "Their graves are green, they may be seen,"
  The little Maid replied,
  "Twelve steps or more from my mother's door,
  And they are side by side.

  "My stockings there I often knit,
  My 'kerchief there I hem;
  And there upon the ground I sit—
  I sit and sing to them.

  "And often after sunset, Sir,
  When it is light and fair,
  I take my little porringer,
  And eat my supper there.

  "The first that died was little Jane;
  In bed she moaning lay,
  Till God released her of her pain,
  And then she went away.

  "So in the church-yard she was laid,
  And all the summer dry,
  Together round her grave we played,
  My brother John and I.

  "And when the ground was white with snow,
  And I could run and slide,
  My brother John was forced to go,
  And he lies by her side.

  "How many are you then," said I,
  "If they two are in Heaven?"
  The little Maiden did reply,
  "O Master! we are seven.

  "But they are dead; those two are dead!
  Their spirits are in heaven!"
  'Twas throwing words away; for still
  The little Maid would have her will,
  And said, "Nay, we are seven!"

   Shewing how the practice of Lying may be taught.

  I have a boy of five years old,
  His face is fair and fresh to see;
  His limbs are cast in beauty's mould,
  And dearly he loves me.

  One morn we stroll'd on our dry walk,
  Our quiet house all full in view,
  And held such intermitted talk
  As we are wont to do.

  My thoughts on former pleasures ran;
  I thought of Kilve's delightful shore,
  My pleasant home, when Spring began,
  A long, long year before.

  A day it was when I could bear
  To think, and think, and think again;
  With so much happiness to spare,
  I could not feel a pain.

  My boy was by my side, so slim
  And graceful in his rustic dress!
  And oftentimes I talked to him
  In very idleness.

  The young lambs ran a pretty race;
  The morning sun shone bright and warm;
  "Kilve," said I, "was a pleasant place,
  And so is Liswyn farm.

  "My little boy, which like you more,"
  I said and took him by the arm—
  "Our home by Kilve's delightful shore,
  Or here at Liswyn farm?"

  "And tell me, had you rather be,"
  I said and held-him by the arm,
  "At Kilve's smooth shore by the green sea,
  Or here at Liswyn farm?"

  In careless mood he looked at me,
  While still I held him by the arm,
  And said, "At Kilve I'd rather be
  Than here at Liswyn farm.

  "Now, little Edward, say why so;
  My little Edward, tell me why;"
  "I cannot tell, I do not know.
  "Why this is strange," said I.

  "For, here are woods and green hills warm:
  There surely must some reason be
  Why you would change sweet Liswyn farm,
  For Kilve by the green sea.

  At this, my boy hung down his head,
  He blush'd with shame, nor made reply;
  And five times to the child I said,
  "Why, Edward, tell me, why?"

  His head he raised—there was in sight,
  It caught his eye, he saw it plain—
  Upon the house-top, glittering bright,
  A broad and gilded vane.

  Then did the boy his tongue unlock,
  And thus to me he made reply;
  "At Kilve there was no weather-cock,
  And that's the reason why.

  Oh dearest, dearest boy! my heart
  For better lore would seldom yearn
  Could I but teach the hundredth part
  Of what from thee I learn.

  Written at a small distance from my House, and sent by
  my little boy to the person to whom they are addressed.

  It is the first mild day of March:
  Each minute sweeter than before,
  The red-breast sings from the tall larch
  That stands beside our door.

  There is a blessing in the air,
  Which seems a sense of joy to yield
  To the bare trees, and mountains bare,
  And grass in the green field.

  My Sister! ('tis a wish of mine)
  Now that our morning meal is done,
  Make haste, your morning task resign;
  Come forth and feel the sun.

  Edward will come with you, and pray,
  Put on with speed your woodland dress,
  And bring no book, for this one day
  We'll give to idleness.

  No joyless forms shall regulate
  Our living Calendar:
  We from to-day, my friend, will date
  The opening of the year.

  Love, now an universal birth,
  From heart to heart is stealing,
  From earth to man, from man to earth,
  —It is the hour of feeling.

  One moment now may give us more
  Than fifty years of reason;
  Our minds shall drink at every pore
  The spirit of the season.

  Some silent laws our hearts may make,
  Which they shall long obey;
  We for the year to come may take
  Our temper from to-day.

  And from the blessed power that rolls
  About, below, above;
  We'll frame the measure of our souls,
  They shall be tuned to love.

  Then come, my sister I come, I pray,
  With speed put on your woodland dress,
  And bring no book; for this one day
  We'll give to idleness.

Written by Anna Akhmatova | Create an image from this poem


 Not under foreign skies
 Nor under foreign wings protected -
 I shared all this with my own people
 There, where misfortune had abandoned us.
[1961] INSTEAD OF A PREFACE During the frightening years of the Yezhov terror, I spent seventeen months waiting in prison queues in Leningrad.
One day, somehow, someone 'picked me out'.
On that occasion there was a woman standing behind me, her lips blue with cold, who, of course, had never in her life heard my name.
Jolted out of the torpor characteristic of all of us, she said into my ear (everyone whispered there) - 'Could one ever describe this?' And I answered - 'I can.
' It was then that something like a smile slid across what had previously been just a face.
[The 1st of April in the year 1957.
Leningrad] DEDICATION Mountains fall before this grief, A mighty river stops its flow, But prison doors stay firmly bolted Shutting off the convict burrows And an anguish close to death.
Fresh winds softly blow for someone, Gentle sunsets warm them through; we don't know this, We are everywhere the same, listening To the scrape and turn of hateful keys And the heavy tread of marching soldiers.
Waking early, as if for early mass, Walking through the capital run wild, gone to seed, We'd meet - the dead, lifeless; the sun, Lower every day; the Neva, mistier: But hope still sings forever in the distance.
The verdict.
Immediately a flood of tears, Followed by a total isolation, As if a beating heart is painfully ripped out, or, Thumped, she lies there brutally laid out, But she still manages to walk, hesitantly, alone.
Where are you, my unwilling friends, Captives of my two satanic years? What miracle do you see in a Siberian blizzard? What shimmering mirage around the circle of the moon? I send each one of you my salutation, and farewell.
[March 1940] INTRODUCTION [PRELUDE] It happened like this when only the dead Were smiling, glad of their release, That Leningrad hung around its prisons Like a worthless emblem, flapping its piece.
Shrill and sharp, the steam-whistles sang Short songs of farewell To the ranks of convicted, demented by suffering, As they, in regiments, walked along - Stars of death stood over us As innocent Russia squirmed Under the blood-spattered boots and tyres Of the black marias.
I You were taken away at dawn.
I followed you As one does when a corpse is being removed.
Children were crying in the darkened house.
A candle flared, illuminating the Mother of God.
The cold of an icon was on your lips, a death-cold sweat On your brow - I will never forget this; I will gather To wail with the wives of the murdered streltsy (1) Inconsolably, beneath the Kremlin towers.
Moscow] II Silent flows the river Don A yellow moon looks quietly on Swanking about, with cap askew It sees through the window a shadow of you Gravely ill, all alone The moon sees a woman lying at home Her son is in jail, her husband is dead Say a prayer for her instead.
III It isn't me, someone else is suffering.
I couldn't.
Not like this.
Everything that has happened, Cover it with a black cloth, Then let the torches be removed.
IV Giggling, poking fun, everyone's darling, The carefree sinner of Tsarskoye Selo (2) If only you could have foreseen What life would do with you - That you would stand, parcel in hand, Beneath the Crosses (3), three hundredth in line, Burning the new year's ice With your hot tears.
Back and forth the prison poplar sways With not a sound - how many innocent Blameless lives are being taken away.
[1938] V For seventeen months I have been screaming, Calling you home.
I've thrown myself at the feet of butchers For you, my son and my horror.
Everything has become muddled forever - I can no longer distinguish Who is an animal, who a person, and how long The wait can be for an execution.
There are now only dusty flowers, The chinking of the thurible, Tracks from somewhere into nowhere And, staring me in the face And threatening me with swift annihilation, An enormous star.
[1939] VI Weeks fly lightly by.
Even so, I cannot understand what has arisen, How, my son, into your prison White nights stare so brilliantly.
Now once more they burn, Eyes that focus like a hawk, And, upon your cross, the talk Is again of death.
Spring] VII THE VERDICT The word landed with a stony thud Onto my still-beating breast.
Nevermind, I was prepared, I will manage with the rest.
I have a lot of work to do today; I need to slaughter memory, Turn my living soul to stone Then teach myself to live again.
But how.
The hot summer rustles Like a carnival outside my window; I have long had this premonition Of a bright day and a deserted house.
[22 June 1939.
Fontannyi Dom (4)] VIII TO DEATH You will come anyway - so why not now? I wait for you; things have become too hard.
I have turned out the lights and opened the door For you, so simple and so wonderful.
Assume whatever shape you wish.
Burst in Like a shell of noxious gas.
Creep up on me Like a practised bandit with a heavy weapon.
Poison me, if you want, with a typhoid exhalation, Or, with a simple tale prepared by you (And known by all to the point of nausea), take me Before the commander of the blue caps and let me glimpse The house administrator's terrified white face.
I don't care anymore.
The river Yenisey Swirls on.
The Pole star blazes.
The blue sparks of those much-loved eyes Close over and cover the final horror.
[19 August 1939.
Fontannyi Dom] IX Madness with its wings Has covered half my soul It feeds me fiery wine And lures me into the abyss.
That's when I understood While listening to my alien delirium That I must hand the victory To it.
However much I nag However much I beg It will not let me take One single thing away: Not my son's frightening eyes - A suffering set in stone, Or prison visiting hours Or days that end in storms Nor the sweet coolness of a hand The anxious shade of lime trees Nor the light distant sound Of final comforting words.
[14 May 1940.
Fontannyi Dom] X CRUCIFIXION Weep not for me, mother.
I am alive in my grave.
A choir of angels glorified the greatest hour, The heavens melted into flames.
To his father he said, 'Why hast thou forsaken me!' But to his mother, 'Weep not for me.
' [1940.
Fontannyi Dom] 2.
Magdalena smote herself and wept, The favourite disciple turned to stone, But there, where the mother stood silent, Not one person dared to look.
Tashkent] EPILOGUE 1.
I have learned how faces fall, How terror can escape from lowered eyes, How suffering can etch cruel pages Of cuneiform-like marks upon the cheeks.
I know how dark or ash-blond strands of hair Can suddenly turn white.
I've learned to recognise The fading smiles upon submissive lips, The trembling fear inside a hollow laugh.
That's why I pray not for myself But all of you who stood there with me Through fiercest cold and scorching July heat Under a towering, completely blind red wall.
The hour has come to remember the dead.
I see you, I hear you, I feel you: The one who resisted the long drag to the open window; The one who could no longer feel the kick of familiar soil beneath her feet; The one who, with a sudden flick of her head, replied, 'I arrive here as if I've come home!' I'd like to name you all by name, but the list Has been removed and there is nowhere else to look.
So, I have woven you this wide shroud out of the humble words I overheard you use.
Everywhere, forever and always, I will never forget one single thing.
Even in new grief.
Even if they clamp shut my tormented mouth Through which one hundred million people scream; That's how I wish them to remember me when I am dead On the eve of my remembrance day.
If someone someday in this country Decides to raise a memorial to me, I give my consent to this festivity But only on this condition - do not build it By the sea where I was born, I have severed my last ties with the sea; Nor in the Tsar's Park by the hallowed stump Where an inconsolable shadow looks for me; Build it here where I stood for three hundred hours And no-one slid open the bolt.
Listen, even in blissful death I fear That I will forget the Black Marias, Forget how hatefully the door slammed and an old woman Howled like a wounded beast.
Let the thawing ice flow like tears From my immovable bronze eyelids And let the prison dove coo in the distance While ships sail quietly along the river.
[March 1940.
Fontannyi Dom] FOOTNOTES 1 An elite guard which rose up in rebellion against Peter the Great in 1698.
Most were either executed or exiled.
2 The imperial summer residence outside St Petersburg where Ahmatova spent her early years.
3 A prison complex in central Leningrad near the Finland Station, called The Crosses because of the shape of two of the buildings.
4 The Leningrad house in which Ahmatova lived.
Written by Friedrich von Schiller | Create an image from this poem


 Friend!--the Great Ruler, easily content,
Needs not the laws it has laborious been
The task of small professors to invent;
A single wheel impels the whole machine
Matter and spirit;--yea, that simple law,
Pervading nature, which our Newton saw.
This taught the spheres, slaves to one golden rein, Their radiant labyrinths to weave around Creation's mighty hearts: this made the chain, Which into interwoven systems bound All spirits streaming to the spiritual sun As brooks that ever into ocean run! Did not the same strong mainspring urge and guide Our hearts to meet in love's eternal bond? Linked to thine arm, O Raphael, by thy side Might I aspire to reach to souls beyond Our earth, and bid the bright ambition go To that perfection which the angels know! Happy, O happy--I have found thee--I Have out of millions found thee, and embraced; Thou, out of millions, mine!--Let earth and sky Return to darkness, and the antique waste-- To chaos shocked, let warring atoms be, Still shall each heart unto the other flee! Do I not find within thy radiant eyes Fairer reflections of all joys most fair? In thee I marvel at myself--the dyes Of lovely earth seem lovelier painted there, And in the bright looks of the friend is given A heavenlier mirror even of the heaven! Sadness casts off its load, and gayly goes From the intolerant storm to rest awhile, In love's true heart, sure haven of repose; Does not pain's veriest transports learn to smile From that bright eloquence affection gave To friendly looks?--there, finds not pain a grave? In all creation did I stand alone, Still to the rocks my dreams a soul should find, Mine arms should wreathe themselves around the stone, My griefs should feel a listener in the wind; My joy--its echo in the caves should be! Fool, if ye will--Fool, for sweet sympathy! We are dead groups of matter when we hate; But when we love we are as gods!--Unto The gentle fetters yearning, through each state And shade of being multiform, and through All countless spirits (save of all the sire)-- Moves, breathes, and blends, the one divine desire.
Lo! arm in arm, through every upward grade, From the rude mongrel to the starry Greek, Who the fine link between the mortal made, And heaven's last seraph--everywhere we seek Union and bond--till in one sea sublime Of love be merged all measure and all time! Friendless ruled God His solitary sky; He felt the want, and therefore souls were made, The blessed mirrors of his bliss!--His eye No equal in His loftiest works surveyed; And from the source whence souls are quickened, He Called His companion forth--ETERNITY!
Written by William Cullen Bryant | Create an image from this poem

A Forest Hymn

The groves were God's first temples.
Ere man learned To hew the shaft, and lay the architrave, And spread the roof above them,---ere he framed The lofty vault, to gather and roll back The sound of anthems; in the darkling wood, Amidst the cool and silence, he knelt down, And offered to the Mightiest solemn thanks And supplication.
For his simple heart Might not resist the sacred influences, Which, from the stilly twilight of the place, And from the gray old trunks that high in heaven Mingled their mossy boughs, and from the sound Of the invisible breath that swayed at once All their green tops, stole over him, and bowed His spirit with the thought of boundless power And inaccessible majesty.
Ah, why Should we, in the world's riper years, neglect God's ancient sanctuaries, and adore Only among the crowd, and under roofs, That our frail hands have raised? Let me, at least, Here, in the shadow of this aged wood, Offer one hymn---thrice happy, if it find Acceptance in His ear.
Father, thy hand Hath reared these venerable columns, thou Didst weave this verdant roof.
Thou didst look down Upon the naked earth, and, forthwith, rose All these fair ranks of trees.
They, in thy sun, Budded, and shook their green leaves in the breeze, And shot towards heaven.
The century-living crow, Whose birth was in their tops, grew old and died Among their branches, till, at last, they stood, As now they stand, massy, and tall, and dark, Fit shrine for humble worshipper to hold Communion with his Maker.
These dim vaults, These winding aisles, of human pomp and pride Report not.
No fantastic carvings show The boast of our vain race to change the form Of thy fair works.
But thou art here---thou fill'st The solitude.
Thou art in the soft winds That run along the summit of these trees In music; thou art in the cooler breath That from the inmost darkness of the place Comes, scarcely felt; the barky trunks, the ground, The fresh moist ground, are all instinct with thee.
Here is continual worship;---Nature, here, In the tranquility that thou dost love, Enjoys thy presence.
Noiselessly, around, From perch to perch, the solitary bird Passes; and yon clear spring, that, midst its herbs, Wells softly forth and wandering steeps the roots Of half the mighty forest, tells no tale Of all the good it does.
Thou hast not left Thyself without a witness, in these shades, Of thy perfections.
Grandeur, strength, and grace Are here to speak of thee.
This mighty oak--- By whose immovable stem I stand and seem Almost annihilated---not a prince, In all that proud old world beyond the deep, E'er wore his crown as lofty as he Wears the green coronal of leaves with which Thy hand has graced him.
Nestled at his root Is beauty, such as blooms not in the glare Of the broad sun.
That delicate forest flower With scented breath, and look so like a smile, Seems, as it issues from the shapeless mould, An emanation of the indwelling Life, A visible token of the upholding Love, That are the soul of this wide universe.
My heart is awed within me when I think Of the great miracle that still goes on, In silence, round me---the perpetual work Of thy creation, finished, yet renewed Forever.
Written on thy works I read The lesson of thy own eternity.
Lo! all grow old and die---but see again, How on the faltering footsteps of decay Youth presses----ever gay and beautiful youth In all its beautiful forms.
These lofty trees Wave not less proudly that their ancestors Moulder beneath them.
Oh, there is not lost One of earth's charms: upon her bosom yet, After the flight of untold centuries, The freshness of her far beginning lies And yet shall lie.
Life mocks the idle hate Of his arch enemy Death---yea, seats himself Upon the tyrant's throne---the sepulchre, And of the triumphs of his ghastly foe Makes his own nourishment.
For he came forth From thine own bosom, and shall have no end.
There have been holy men who hid themselves Deep in the woody wilderness, and gave Their lives to thought and prayer, till they outlived The generation born with them, nor seemed Less aged than the hoary trees and rocks Around them;---and there have been holy men Who deemed it were not well to pass life thus.
But let me often to these solitudes Retire, and in thy presence reassure My feeble virtue.
Here its enemies, The passions, at thy plainer footsteps shrink And tremble and are still.
Oh, God! when thou Dost scare the world with falling thunderbolts, or fill, With all the waters of the firmament, The swift dark whirlwind that uproots the woods And drowns the village; when, at thy call, Uprises the great deep and throws himself Upon the continent, and overwhelms Its cities---who forgets not, at the sight Of these tremendous tokens of thy power, His pride, and lays his strifes and follies by? Oh, from these sterner aspects of thy face Spare me and mine, nor let us need the wrath Of the mad unchained elements to teach Who rules them.
Be it ours to meditate, In these calm shades, thy milder majesty, And to the beautiful order of the works Learn to conform the order of our lives.
Written by Emanuel Xavier | Create an image from this poem


 I want you to continue writing
because I will not always be around

With lips that will never touch mine
read your poems out loud
so that the words are left engraved 
on the wall
make me feel your voice rush through me
like a breeze from Oyá

I want to hear about Puerto Rico
about sisters with names like La Bruja
about educating youth about AIDS
I want to hear about life 
in the Boogie Down Bronx
surviving on the Down Low
don't leave out stories about men
you have loved and still love

I want you to write poems that you 
will never read
press hard on the paper 
so that the ink runs deep
hold the pen tight 
so that you control the details
prove to me that I inspire you
reveal yourself between the lines
hear my praise 
with each flicker of the candle
Write a poem for me

Do not choose a fresh page 
from a brand new journal
use paper that has been crumbled and tossed
thrown out by a spineless father 
only to be recycled
Save a tree for future poets to write under

Rewrite me into someone more attractive
stronger than life has made me
make me tough and sexy, 
aggressive like a tiger
stain the pages with cum, 
lube, the arousal you find
at the sight of naked boys, draw me sketches
bring the words to life with images
make me a man with this poem

Read it in front of the audience
with hidden messages just for me
be real and tell me why
I am only worth a haiku

Your epics are meant for others
I already know,
use red ink to match the blood 
from these wounds
with brutal honesty
let me die with your last sentence

Then resurrect me with rhyme
read from your gut
let me hear the wisdom of mi abuelo 
in your voice
let me find my father in you
remind me of all the men 
that left me broken promises

In your eyes I want to see a poem
when you bring me to tears
with painful memories
buried beneath your thick skin

Between teeth gapped like divas,
I want to hear quotes from books
I never read

Make me believe you want to be a poet

Make my heart break,
tell me why you could never love me
with just a few words
leave me lost and insecure
feel the admiration of others
bask in their desire
forget that I am there

Pound your fists in the air with passion
go off about politics, poverty, 
machismo and hate
scream poems that don't give a fuck
about traditions, slamming or scores
save your whispers 
for those who make love to you

Write a poem for me 
that makes me want to puff a joint

A poem that loses control
unafraid to be vulnerable
for once just make me believe
it is all worth letting go
when the smoke clears
I will understand
the reason 
I am just another face 
in the crowd

I want you to continue writing
because I will not always be around
Written by David Berman | Create an image from this poem

Self-Portrait At 28

 I know it's a bad title
but I'm giving it to myself as a gift
on a day nearly canceled by sunlight
when the entire hill is approaching
the ideal of Virginia
brochured with goldenrod and loblolly
and I think "at least I have not woken up
with a bloody knife in my hand"
by then having absently wandered
one hundred yards from the house
while still seated in this chair
with my eyes closed.
It is a certain hill the one I imagine when I hear the word "hill" and if the apocalypse turns out to be a world-wide nervous breakdown if our five billion minds collapse at once well I'd call that a surprise ending and this hill would still be beautiful a place I wouldn't mind dying alone or with you.
I am trying to get at something and I want to talk very plainly to you so that we are both comforted by the honesty.
You see there is a window by my desk I stare out when I am stuck though the outdoors has rarely inspired me to write and I don't know why I keep staring at it.
My childhood hasn't made good material either mostly being a mulch of white minutes with a few stand out moments, popping tar bubbles on the driveway in the summer a certain amount of pride at school everytime they called it "our sun" and playing football when the only play was "go out long" are what stand out now.
If squeezed for more information I can remember old clock radios with flipping metal numbers and an entree called Surf and Turf.
As a way of getting in touch with my origins every night I set the alarm clock for the time I was born so that waking up becomes a historical reenactment and the first thing I do is take a reading of the day and try to flow with it like when you're riding a mechanical bull and you strain to learn the pattern quickly so you don't inadverantly resist it.
II two I can't remember being born and no one else can remember it either even the doctor who I met years later at a cocktail party.
It's one of the little disappointments that makes you think about getting away going to Holly Springs or Coral Gables and taking a room on the square with a landlady whose hands are scored by disinfectant, telling the people you meet that you are from Alaska, and listen to what they have to say about Alaska until you have learned much more about Alaska than you ever will about Holly Springs or Coral Gables.
Sometimes I am buying a newspaper in a strange city and think "I am about to learn what it's like to live here.
" Oftentimes there is a news item about the complaints of homeowners who live beside the airport and I realize that I read an article on this subject nearly once a year and always receive the same image.
I am in bed late at night in my house near the airport listening to the jets fly overhead a strange wife sleeping beside me.
In my mind, the bedroom is an amalgamation of various cold medicine commercial sets (there is always a box of tissue on the nightstand).
I know these recurring news articles are clues, flaws in the design though I haven't figured out how to string them together yet, but I've begun to notice that the same people are dying over and over again, for instance Minnie Pearl who died this year for the fourth time in four years.
III three Today is the first day of Lent and once again I'm not really sure what it is.
How many more years will I let pass before I take the trouble to ask someone? It reminds of this morning when you were getting ready for work.
I was sitting by the space heater numbly watching you dress and when you asked why I never wear a robe I had so many good reasons I didn't know where to begin.
If you were cool in high school you didn't ask too many questions.
You could tell who'd been to last night's big metal concert by the new t-shirts in the hallway.
You didn't have to ask and that's what cool was: the ability to deduct to know without asking.
And the pressure to simulate coolness means not asking when you don't know, which is why kids grow ever more stupid.
A yearbook's endpages, filled with promises to stay in touch, stand as proof of the uselessness of a teenager's promise.
Not like I'm dying for a letter from the class stoner ten years on but.
Do you remember the way the girls would call out "love you!" conveniently leaving out the "I" as if they didn't want to commit to their own declarations.
I agree that the "I" is a pretty heavy concept and hope you won't get uncomfortable if I should go into some deeper stuff here.
IV four There are things I've given up on like recording funny answering machine messages.
It's part of growing older and the human race as a group has matured along the same lines.
It seems our comedy dates the quickest.
If you laugh out loud at Shakespeare's jokes I hope you won't be insulted if I say you're trying too hard.
Even sketches from the original Saturday Night Live seem slow-witted and obvious now.
It's just that our advances are irrepressible.
Nowadays little kids can't even set up lemonade stands.
It makes people too self-conscious about the past, though try explaining that to a kid.
I'm not saying it should be this way.
All this new technology will eventually give us new feelings that will never completely displace the old ones leaving everyone feeling quite nervous and split in two.
We will travel to Mars even as folks on Earth are still ripping open potato chip bags with their teeth.
Why? I don't have the time or intelligence to make all the connections like my friend Gordon (this is a true story) who grew up in Braintree Massachusetts and had never pictured a brain snagged in a tree until I brought it up.
He'd never broken the name down to its parts.
By then it was too late.
He had moved to Coral Gables.
V five The hill out my window is still looking beautiful suffused in a kind of gold national park light and it seems to say, I'm sorry the world could not possibly use another poem about Orpheus but I'm available if you're not working on a self-portrait or anything.
I'm watching my dog have nightmares, twitching and whining on the office floor and I try to imagine what beast has cornered him in the meadow where his dreams are set.
I'm just letting the day be what it is: a place for a large number of things to gather and interact -- not even a place but an occasion a reality for real things.
Friends warned me not to get too psychedelic or religious with this piece: "They won't accept it if it's too psychedelic or religious," but these are valid topics and I'm the one with the dog twitching on the floor possibly dreaming of me that part of me that would beat a dog for no good reason no reason that a dog could see.
I am trying to get at something so simple that I have to talk plainly so the words don't disfigure it and if it turns out that what I say is untrue then at least let it be harmless like a leaky boat in the reeds that is bothering no one.
VI six I can't trust the accuracy of my own memories, many of them having blended with sentimental telephone and margarine commercials plainly ruined by Madison Avenue though no one seems to call the advertising world "Madison Avenue" anymore.
Have they moved? Let's get an update on this.
But first I have some business to take care of.
I walked out to the hill behind our house which looks positively Alaskan today and it would be easier to explain this if I had a picture to show you but I was with our young dog and he was running through the tall grass like running through the tall grass is all of life together until a bird calls or he finds a beer can and that thing fills all the space in his head.
You see, his mind can only hold one thought at a time and when he finally hears me call his name he looks up and cocks his head and for a single moment my voice is everything: Self-portrait at 28.
Written by Anne Sexton | Create an image from this poem


 You always read about it:
the plumber with the twelve children
who wins the Irish Sweepstakes.
From toilets to riches.
That story.
Or the nursemaid, some luscious sweet from Denmark who captures the oldest son's heart.
from diapers to Dior.
That story.
Or a milkman who serves the wealthy, eggs, cream, butter, yogurt, milk, the white truck like an ambulance who goes into real estate and makes a pile.
From homogenized to martinis at lunch.
Or the charwoman who is on the bus when it cracks up and collects enough from the insurance.
From mops to Bonwit Teller.
That story.
Once the wife of a rich man was on her deathbed and she said to her daughter Cinderella: Be devout.
Be good.
Then I will smile down from heaven in the seam of a cloud.
The man took another wife who had two daughters, pretty enough but with hearts like blackjacks.
Cinderella was their maid.
She slept on the sooty hearth each night and walked around looking like Al Jolson.
Her father brought presents home from town, jewels and gowns for the other women but the twig of a tree for Cinderella.
She planted that twig on her mother's grave and it grew to a tree where a white dove sat.
Whenever she wished for anything the dove would drop it like an egg upon the ground.
The bird is important, my dears, so heed him.
Next came the ball, as you all know.
It was a marriage market.
The prince was looking for a wife.
All but Cinderella were preparing and gussying up for the event.
Cinderella begged to go too.
Her stepmother threw a dish of lentils into the cinders and said: Pick them up in an hour and you shall go.
The white dove brought all his friends; all the warm wings of the fatherland came, and picked up the lentils in a jiffy.
No, Cinderella, said the stepmother, you have no clothes and cannot dance.
That's the way with stepmothers.
Cinderella went to the tree at the grave and cried forth like a gospel singer: Mama! Mama! My turtledove, send me to the prince's ball! The bird dropped down a golden dress and delicate little slippers.
Rather a large package for a simple bird.
So she went.
Which is no surprise.
Her stepmother and sisters didn't recognize her without her cinder face and the prince took her hand on the spot and danced with no other the whole day.
As nightfall came she thought she'd better get home.
The prince walked her home and she disappeared into the pigeon house and although the prince took an axe and broke it open she was gone.
Back to her cinders.
These events repeated themselves for three days.
However on the third day the prince covered the palace steps with cobbler's wax and Cinderella's gold shoe stuck upon it.
Now he would find whom the shoe fit and find his strange dancing girl for keeps.
He went to their house and the two sisters were delighted because they had lovely feet.
The eldest went into a room to try the slipper on but her big toe got in the way so she simply sliced it off and put on the slipper.
The prince rode away with her until the white dove told him to look at the blood pouring forth.
That is the way with amputations.
They just don't heal up like a wish.
The other sister cut off her heel but the blood told as blood will.
The prince was getting tired.
He began to feel like a shoe salesman.
But he gave it one last try.
This time Cinderella fit into the shoe like a love letter into its envelope.
At the wedding ceremony the two sisters came to curry favor and the white dove pecked their eyes out.
Two hollow spots were left like soup spoons.
Cinderella and the prince lived, they say, happily ever after, like two dolls in a museum case never bothered by diapers or dust, never arguing over the timing of an egg, never telling the same story twice, never getting a middle-aged spread, their darling smiles pasted on for eternity.
Regular Bobbsey Twins.
That story.