Maya Angelou | |
You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I'll rise.
Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
'Cause I walk like I've got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.
Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I'll rise.
Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops.
Weakened by my soulful cries.
Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don't you take it awful hard
'Cause I laugh like I've got gold mines
Diggin' in my own back yard.
You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I'll rise.
Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I've got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?
Out of the huts of history's shame
Up from a past that's rooted in pain
I'm a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.
Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
Into a daybreak that's wondrously clear
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
Fleda Brown | |
Sometimes I feel her easing further into her grave,
resigned, as always, and I have to come to her rescue.
Like now, when I have so much else to do.
she'd want a poem.
She would have been proud, of course,
of all its mystery, involving her, but scared a little.
Her eyes would have filled with tears.
It always comes
to that, I don't know why I bother.
and she's gone down a well of raw feeling, and I'm left
I avert my eyes, to keep from scaring her.
On her dresser is one of those old glass bottles
of Jergen's Lotion with the black label, a little round
bottle of Mum deodorant, a white plastic tray
with Avon necklaces and earrings, pennies, paper clips,
and a large black coat button.
I appear to be very
interested in these objects, even interested in the sun
through the blinds.
It falls across her face, and not,
as she changes the bed.
She would rather have clean sheets
than my poem, but as long as I don't bother her, she's glad
to know I care.
She's talked my father into taking
a drive later, stopping for an A & W root beer.
She is dreaming of foam on the glass, the tray propped
on the car window.
And trees, farmhouses, the expanse
of the world as seen from inside the car.
It is no
use to try to get her out to watch airplanes
take off, or walk a trail, or hear this poem
and offer anything more than "Isn't that sweet!"
Right now bombs are exploding in Kosovo, students
shot in Colorado, and my mother is wearing a root beer
Her eyes are unfocused, everything's root beer.
I write root beer, root beer, to make her happy.
from Breathing In, Breathing Out, Anhinga Press, 2002
© 2000, Fleda Brown
(first published in The Southern Review, 36 )
Ben Jonson | |
Let it not your wonder move,
Less your laughter, that I love.
Though I now write fifty years,
I have had, and have, my peers.
Poets, though divine, are men;
Some have loved as old again.
And it is not always face,
Clothes, or fortune gives the grace,
Or the feature, or the youth;
But the language and the truth,
With the ardor and the passion,
Gives the lover weight and fashion.
If you then would hear the story,
First, prepare you to be sorry
That you never knew till now
Either whom to love or how;
But be glad as soon with me
When you hear that this is she
Of whose beauty it was sung,
She shall make the old man young,
Keep the middle age at stay,
And let nothing hide decay,
Till she be the reason why
All the world for love may die.
More great poems below...
John Dryden | |
Farewell, too little, and too lately known,
Whom I began to think and call my own:
For sure our souls were near allied, and thine
Cast in the same poetic mold with mine.
One common note on either lyre did strike,
And knaves and fools we both abhorred alike.
To the same goal did both our studies drive;
The last set out the soonest did arrive.
Thus Nisus fell upon the slippery place,
While his young friend performed and won the race.
O early ripe! to thy abundant store
What could advancing age have added more?
It might (what nature never gives the young)
Have taught the numbers of thy native tongue.
But satire needs not those, and wit will shine
Through the harsh cadence of a rugged line:
A noble error, and but seldom made,
When poets are by too much force betrayed.
Thy generous fruits, though gathered ere their prime,
Still showed a quickness, and maturing time
But mellows what we write to the dull sweets of rhyme.
Once more, hail and farewell; farewell, thou young,
But ah too short, Marcellus of our tongue;
Thy brows with ivy, and with laurels bound;
But fate and gloomy night encompass thee around.
Emily Dickinson | |
"Going to him! Happy letter! Tell him--
Tell him the page I didn't write;
Tell him I only said the syntax,
And left the verb and the pronoun out.
Tell him just how the fingers hurried
Then how they waded, slow, slow, slow-
And then you wished you had eyes in your pages,
So you could see what moved them so.
"Tell him it wasn't a practised writer,
You guessed, from the way the sentence toiled;
You could hear the bodice tug, behind you,
As if it held but the might of a child;
You almost pitied it, you, it worked so.
Tell him--No, you may quibble there,
For it would split his heart to know it,
And then you and I were silenter.
"Tell him night finished before we finished
And the old clock kept neighing 'day!'
And you got sleepy and begged to be ended--
What could it hinder so, to say?
Tell him just how she sealed you, cautious
But if he ask where you are hid
Until to-morrow,--happy letter!
Gesture, coquette, and shake your head!"
William Blake | |
PIPING down the valleys wild
Piping songs of pleasant glee
On a cloud I saw a child
And he laughing said to me:
'Pipe a song about a Lamb!' 5
So I piped with merry cheer.
'Piper pipe that song again;'
So I piped: he wept to hear.
'Drop thy pipe thy happy pipe;
Sing thy songs of happy cheer!' 10
So I sung the same again
While he wept with joy to hear.
'Piper sit thee down and write
In a book that all may read.
So he vanish'd from my sight; 15
And I pluck'd a hollow reed
And I made a rural pen
And I stain'd the water clear
And I wrote my happy songs
Every child may joy to hear.
Percy Bysshe Shelley | |
NOW the last day of many days,
All beautiful and bright as thou,
The loveliest and the last, is dead:
Rise, Memory, and write its praise!
Up¡ªto thy wonted work! come, trace 5
The epitaph of glory fled,
For now the earth has changed its face,
A frown is on the heaven's brow.
We wander'd to the Pine Forest
That skirts the ocean's foam.
The lightest wind was in its nest,
The tempest in its home;
The whispering waves were half asleep,
The clouds were gone to play,
And on the bosom of the deep 15
The smile of heaven lay:
It seem'd as if the hour were one
Sent from beyond the skies
Which scatter'd from above the sun
A light of Paradise! 20
We paused amid the pines that stood
The giants of the waste,
Tortured by storms to shapes as rude
As serpents interlaced,¡ª
And soothed by every azure breath 25
That under heaven is blown,
To harmonies and hues beneath,
As tender as its own.
Now all the tree-tops lay asleep
Like green waves on the sea, 30
As still as in the silent deep
The ocean-woods may be.
How calm it was!¡ªThe silence there
By such a chain was bound,
That even the busy woodpecker 35
Made stiller by her sound
The inviolable quietness;
The breath of peace we drew
With its soft motion made not less
The calm that round us grew.
There seem'd, from the remotest seat
Of the wide mountain waste
To the soft flower beneath our feet,
A magic circle traced,¡ª
A spirit interfused around 45
A thrilling silent life;
To momentary peace it bound
Our mortal nature's strife;¡ª
And still I felt the centre of
The magic circle there 50
Was one fair form that fill'd with love
The lifeless atmosphere.
We paused beside the pools that lie
Under the forest bough;
Each seem'd as 'twere a little sky 55
Gulf'd in a world below¡ª
A firmament of purple light
Which in the dark earth lay,
More boundless than the depth of night
And purer than the day¡ª 60
In which the lovely forests grew
As in the upper air,
More perfect both in shape and hue
Than any spreading there.
There lay the glade and neighbouring lawn, 65
And through the dark-green wood
The white sun twinkling like the dawn
Out of a speckled cloud.
Sweet views which in our world above
Can never well be seen 70
Were imaged in the water's love
Of that fair forest green;
And all was interfused beneath
With an Elysian glow,
An atmosphere without a breath, 75
A softer day below.
Like one beloved, the scene had lent
To the dark water's breast
Its every leaf and lineament
With more than truth exprest; 80
Until an envious wind crept by,
Like an unwelcome thought
Which from the mind's too faithful eye
Blots one dear image out.
¡ªThough thou art ever fair and kind, 85
The forests ever green,
Less oft is peace in Shelley's mind
Than calm in waters seen!
Ralph Waldo Emerson | |
BRING me wine but wine which never grew
In the belly of the grape
Or grew on vine whose tap-roots reaching through
Under the Andes to the Cape
Suffer'd no savour of the earth to 'scape.
Let its grapes the morn salute
From a nocturnal root
Which feels the acrid juice
Of Styx and Erebus;
And turns the woe of Night 10
By its own craft to a more rich delight.
We buy ashes for bread;
We buy diluted wine;
Give me of the true
Whose ample leaves and tendrils curl'd 15
Among the silver hills of heaven
Draw everlasting dew;
Wine of wine
Blood of the world
Form of forms and mould of statures 20
That I intoxicated
And by the draught assimilated
May float at pleasure through all natures;
The bird-language rightly spell
And that which roses say so well: 25
Wine that is shed
Like the torrents of the sun
Up the horizon walls
Or like the Atlantic streams which run
When the South Sea calls.
Water and bread
Food which needs no transmuting
Wine which is already man
Food which teach and reason can.
Wine which Music is ¡ª
Music and wine are one ¡ª
That I drinking this
Shall hear far Chaos talk with me;
Kings unborn shall walk with me; 40
And the poor grass shall plot and plan
What it will do when it is man.
Quicken'd so will I unlock
Every crypt of every rock.
I thank the joyful juice 45
For all I know;
Winds of remembering
Of the ancient being blow
And seeming-solid walls of use
Open and flow.
Pour Bacchus! the remembering wine;
Retrieve the loss of me and mine!
Vine for vine be antidote
And the grape requite the lote!
Haste to cure the old despair; 55
Reason in Nature's lotus drench'd¡ª
The memory of ages quench'd¡ª
Give them again to shine;
Let wine repair what this undid;
And where the infection slid 60
A dazzling memory revive;
Refresh the faded tints
Recut the ag¨¨d prints
And write my old adventures with the pen
Which on the first day drew 65
Upon the tablets blue
The dancing Pleiads and eternal men.
Elizabeth Bishop | |
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
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.
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.
the art of losing's not too hard to master
though it may look like (Write it!) like disaster.
John Donne | |
GO and catch a falling star,
Get with child a mandrake root,
Tell me where all past years are,
Or who cleft the Devil's foot;
Teach me to hear mermaids singing, 5
Or to keep off envy's stinging,
Serves to advance an honest mind.
If thou be'st born to strange sights, 10
Things invisible to see,
Ride ten thousand days and nights
Till Age snow white hairs on thee;
Thou, when thou return'st, wilt tell me
All strange wonders that befell thee, 15
Lives a woman true and fair.
If thou find'st one, let me know;
Such a pilgrimage were sweet.
Yet do not; I would not go,
Though at next door we might meet.
Though she were true when you met her,
And last till you write your letter,
Yet she 25
False, ere I come, to two or three.
Percy Bysshe Shelley | |
THE world's great age begins anew
The golden years return
The earth doth like a snake renew
Her winter weeds outworn;
Heaven smiles and faiths and empires gleam 5
Like wrecks of a dissolving dream.
A brighter Hellas rears its mountains
From waves serener far;
A new Peneus rolls his fountains
Against the morning star; 10
Where fairer Tempes bloom there sleep
Young Cyclads on a sunnier deep.
A loftier Argo cleaves the main
Fraught with a later prize;
Another Orpheus sings again 15
And loves and weeps and dies;
A new Ulysses leaves once more
Calypso for his native shore.
O write no more the tale of Troy
If earth Death's scroll must be¡ª 20
Nor mix with Laian rage the joy
Which dawns upon the free
Although a subtler Sphinx renew
Riddles of death Thebes never knew.
Another Athens shall arise 25
And to remoter time
Bequeath like sunset to the skies
The splendour of its prime;
And leave if naught so bright may live
All earth can take or Heaven can give.
Saturn and Love their long repose
Shall burst more bright and good
Than all who fell than One who rose
Than many unsubdued:
Not gold not blood their altar dowers 35
But votive tears and symbol flowers.
O cease! must hate and death return?
Cease! must men kill and die?
Cease! drain not to its dregs the urn
Of bitter prophecy! 40
The world is weary of the past¡ª
O might it die or rest at last!
Oliver Wendell Holmes | |
I WROTE some lines once on a time
In wondrous merry mood,
And thought, as usual, men would say
They were exceeding good.
They were so queer, so very queer,
I laughed as I would die;
Albeit, in the general way,
A sober man am I.
I called my servant, and he came;
How kind it was of him
To mind a slender man like me,
He of the mighty limb.
"These to the printer," I exclaimed,
And, in my humorous way,
I added, (as a trifling jest,)
"There'll be the devil to pay.
He took the paper, and I watched,
And saw him peep within;
At the first line he read, his face
Was all upon the grin.
He read the next; the grin grew broad,
And shot from ear to ear;
He read the third; a chuckling noise
I now began to hear.
The fourth; he broke into a roar;
The fifth; his waistband split;
The sixth; he burst five buttons off,
And tumbled in a fit.
Ten days and nights, with sleepless eye,
I watched that wretched man,
And since, I never dare to write
As funny as I can.
Oliver Wendell Holmes | |
If all the trees in all the woods were men;
And each and every blade of grass a pen;
If every leaf on every shrub and tree
Turned to a sheet of foolscap; every sea
Were changed to ink, and all earth's living tribes
Had nothing else to do but act as scribes,
And for ten thousand ages, day and night,
The human race should write, and write, and write,
Till all the pens and paper were used up,
And the huge inkstand was an empty cup,
Still would the scribblers clustered round its brink
Call for more pens, more paper, and more ink.
John Greenleaf Whittier | |
I write my name as one,
On sands by waves o'errun
Or winter's frosted pane,
Traces a record vain.
Oblivion's blankness claims
Wiser and better names,
And well my own may pass
As from the strand or glass.
Wash on, O waves of time!
Melt, noons, the frosty rime!
Welcome the shadow vast,
The silence that shall last!
When I and all who know
And love me vanish so,
What harm to them or me
Will the lost memory be?
If any words of mine,
Through right of life divine,
Remain, what matters it
Whose hand the message writ?
Why should the "crowner's quest"
Sit on my worst or best?
Why should the showman claim
The poor ghost of my name?
Yet, as when dies a sound
Its spectre lingers round,
Haply my spent life will
Leave some faint echo still.
A whisper giving breath
Of praise or blame to death,
Soothing or saddening such
As loved the living much.
Therefore with yearnings vain
And fond I still would fain
A kindly judgment seek,
A tender thought bespeak.
And, while my words are read,
Let this at least be said:
"Whate'er his life's defeatures,
He loved his fellow-creatures.
"If, of the Law's stone table,
To hold he scarce was able
The first great precept fast,
He kept for man the last.
"Through mortal lapse and dulness
What lacks the Eternal Fulness,
If still our weakness can
Love Him in loving man?
"Age brought him no despairing
Of the world's future faring;
In human nature still
He found more good than ill.
"To all who dumbly suffered,
His tongue and pen he offered;
His life was not his own,
Nor lived for self alone.
"Hater of din and riot
He lived in days unquiet;
And, lover of all beauty,
Trod the hard ways of duty.
"He meant no wrong to any
He sought the good of many,
Yet knew both sin and folly, --
May God forgive him wholly!"
A R Ammons | |
Fall fell: so that's it for the leaf poetry:
some flurries have whitened the edges of roads
and lawns: time for that, the snow stuff: &
turkeys and old St.
Nick: where am I going to
find something to write about I haven't already
written away: I will have to stop short, look
down, look up, look close, think, think, think:
but in what range should I think: should I
figure colors and outlines, given forms, say
mailboxes, or should I try to plumb what is
behind what and what behind that, deep down
where the surface has lost its semblance: or
should I think personally, such as, this week
seems to have been crafted in hell: what: is
something going on: something besides this
diddledeediddle everyday matter-of-fact: I
could draw up an ancient memory which would
wipe this whole presence away: or I could fill
out my dreams with high syntheses turned into
concrete visionary forms: Lucre could lust
for Luster: bad angels could roar out of perdition
and kill the AIDS vaccine not quite
perfected yet: the gods could get down on
each other; the big gods could fly in from
nebulae unknown: but I'm only me: I have 4
interests--money, poetry, sex, death: I guess
I can jostle those.