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Best Famous Absence Poems

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

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12
Written by William Wordsworth | Create an image from this poem

Lines Composed a Few Miles above Tintern Abbey

Five years have passed; five summers, with the length 
Of five long winters! and again I hear
These waters, rolling from their mountain-springs
With a soft inland murmur.
Once again Do I behold these steep and lofty cliffs, That on a wild secluded scene impress Thoughts of more deep seclusion; and connect The landscape with the quiet of the sky.
The day is come when I again repose Here, under this dark sycamore, and view These plots of cottage-ground, these orchard-tufts, Which at this season, with their unripe fruits, Are clad in one green hue, and lose themselves 'Mid groves and copses.
Once again I see These hedgerows, hardly hedgerows, little lines Of sportive wood run wild; these pastoral farms, Green to the very door; and wreaths of smoke Sent up, in silence, from among the trees! With some uncertain notice, as might seem Of vagrant dwellers in the houseless woods, Or of some Hermit's cave, where by his fire The Hermit sits alone.
These beauteous forms, Through a long absence, have not been to me As is a landscape to a blind man's eye; But oft, in lonely rooms, and 'mid the din Of towns and cities, I have owed to them, In hours of weariness, sensations sweet, Felt in the blood, and felt along the heart; And passing even into my purer mind With tranquil restoration—feelings too Of unremembered pleasure; such, perhaps, As have no slight or trivial influence On that best portion of a good man's life, His little, nameless, unremembered, acts Of kindness and of love.
Nor less, I trust, To them I may have owed another gift, Of aspect more sublime; that blessed mood, In which the burthen of the mystery, In which the heavy and the weary weight Of all this unintelligible world, Is lightened—that serene and blessed mood, In which the affections gently lead us on— Until, the breath of this corporeal frame And even the motion of our human blood Almost suspended, we are laid asleep In body, and become a living soul; While with an eye made quiet by the power Of harmony, and the deep power of joy, We see into the life of things.
If this Be but a vain belief, yet, oh! how oft— In darkness and amid the many shapes Of joyless daylight; when the fretful stir Unprofitable, and the fever of the world, Have hung upon the beatings of my heart— How oft, in spirit, have I turned to thee, O sylvan Wye! thou wanderer through the woods, How often has my spirit turned to thee! And now, with gleams of half-extinguished thought, With many recognitions dim and faint, And somewhat of a sad perplexity, The picture of the mind revives again; While here I stand, not only with the sense Of present pleasure, but with pleasing thoughts That in this moment there is life and food For future years.
And so I dare to hope, Though changed, no doubt, from what I was when first I came among these hills; when like a roe I bounded o'er the mountains, by the sides Of the deep rivers, and the lonely streams, Wherever nature led—more like a man Flying from something that he dreads than one Who sought the thing he loved.
For nature then (The coarser pleasures of my boyish days And their glad animal movements all gone by) To me was all in all.
—I cannot paint What then I was.
The sounding cataract Haunted me like a passion; the tall rock, The mountain, and the deep and gloomy wood, Their colors and their forms, were then to me An appetite; a feeling and a love, That had no need of a remoter charm, By thought supplied, not any interest Unborrowed from the eye.
—That time is past, And all its aching joys are now no more, And all its dizzy raptures.
Not for this Faint I, nor mourn nor murmur; other gifts Have followed; for such loss, I would believe, Abundant recompense.
For I have learned To look on nature, not as in the hour Of thoughtless youth; but hearing oftentimes The still sad music of humanity, Nor harsh nor grating, though of ample power To chasten and subdue.
And I have felt A presence that disturbs me with the joy Of elevated thoughts; a sense sublime Of something far more deeply interfused, Whose dwelling is the light of setting suns, And the round ocean and the living air, And the blue sky, and in the mind of man: A motion and a spirit, that impels All thinking things, all objects of all thought, And rolls through all things.
Therefore am I still A lover of the meadows and the woods, And mountains; and of all that we behold From this green earth; of all the mighty world Of eye, and ear—both what they half create, And what perceive; well pleased to recognize In nature and the language of the sense The anchor of my purest thoughts, the nurse, The guide, the guardian of my heart, and soul Of all my moral being.
Nor perchance, If I were not thus taught, should I the more Suffer my genial spirits to decay: For thou art with me here upon the banks Of this fair river; thou my dearest Friend, My dear, dear Friend; and in thy voice I catch The language of my former heart, and read My former pleasures in the shooting lights Of thy wild eyes.
Oh! yet a little while May I behold in thee what I was once, My dear, dear Sister! and this prayer I make, Knowing that Nature never did betray The heart that loved her; 'tis her privilege, Through all the years of this our life, to lead From joy to joy: for she can so inform The mind that is within us, so impress With quietness and beauty, and so feed With lofty thoughts, that neither evil tongues, Rash judgments, nor the sneers of selfish men, Nor greetings where no kindness is, nor all The dreary intercourse of daily life, Shall e'er prevail against us, or disturb Our cheerful faith, that all which we behold Is full of blessings.
Therefore let the moon Shine on thee in thy solitary walk; And let the misty mountain winds be free To blow against thee: and, in after years, When these wild ecstasies shall be matured Into a sober pleasure; when thy mind Shall be a mansion for all lovely forms, Thy memory be as a dwelling place For all sweet sounds and harmonies; oh! then, If solitude, or fear, or pain, or grief, Should be thy portion, with what healing thoughts Of tender joy wilt thou remember me, And these my exhortations! Nor, perchance— If I should be where I no more can hear Thy voice, nor catch from thy wild eyes these gleams Of past existence—wilt thou then forget That on the banks of this delightful stream We stood together; and that I, so long A worshipper of Nature, hither came Unwearied in that service; rather say With warmer love—oh! with far deeper zeal Of holier love.
Nor wilt thou then forget, That after many wanderings, many years Of absence, these steep woods and lofty cliffs, And this green pastoral landscape, were to me More dear, both for themselves and for thy sake!
Written by Mark Strand | Create an image from this poem

The Story Of Our Lives

 1
We are reading the story of our lives
which takes place in a room.
The room looks out on a street.
There is no one there, no sound of anything.
The tress are heavy with leaves, the parked cars never move.
We keep turning the pages, hoping for something, something like mercy or change, a black line that would bind us or keep us apart.
The way it is, it would seem the book of our lives is empty.
The furniture in the room is never shifted, and the rugs become darker each time our shadows pass over them.
It is almost as if the room were the world.
We sit beside each other on the couch, reading about the couch.
We say it is ideal.
It is ideal.
2 We are reading the story of our lives, as though we were in it, as though we had written it.
This comes up again and again.
In one of the chapters I lean back and push the book aside because the book says it is what I am doing.
I lean back and begin to write about the book.
I write that I wish to move beyond the book.
Beyond my life into another life.
I put the pen down.
The book says: "He put the pen down and turned and watched her reading the part about herself falling in love.
" The book is more accurate than we can imagine.
I lean back and watch you read about the man across the street.
They built a house there, and one day a man walked out of it.
You fell in love with him because you knew that he would never visit you, would never know you were waiting.
Night after night you would say that he was like me.
I lean back and watch you grow older without me.
Sunlight falls on your silver hair.
The rugs, the furniture, seem almost imaginary now.
"She continued to read.
She seemed to consider his absence of no special importance, as someone on a perfect day will consider the weather a failure because it did not change his mind.
" You narrow your eyes.
You have the impulse to close the book which describes my resistance: how when I lean back I imagine my life without you, imagine moving into another life, another book.
It describes your dependence on desire, how the momentary disclosures of purpose make you afraid.
The book describes much more than it should.
It wants to divide us.
3 This morning I woke and believed there was no more to to our lives than the story of our lives.
When you disagreed, I pointed to the place in the book where you disagreed.
You fell back to sleep and I began to read those mysterious parts you used to guess at while they were being written and lose interest in after they became part of the story.
In one of them cold dresses of moonlight are draped over the chairs in a man's room.
He dreams of a woman whose dresses are lost, who sits in a garden and waits.
She believes that love is a sacrifice.
The part describes her death and she is never named, which is one of the things you could not stand about her.
A little later we learn that the dreaming man lives in the new house across the street.
This morning after you fell back to sleep I began to turn the pages early in the book: it was like dreaming of childhood, so much seemed to vanish, so much seemed to come to life again.
I did not know what to do.
The book said: "In those moments it was his book.
A bleak crown rested uneasily on his head.
He was the brief ruler of inner and outer discord, anxious in his own kingdom.
" 4 Before you woke I read another part that described your absence and told how you sleep to reverse the progress of your life.
I was touched by my own loneliness as I read, knowing that what I feel is often the crude and unsuccessful form of a story that may never be told.
"He wanted to see her naked and vulnerable, to see her in the refuse, the discarded plots of old dreams, the costumes and masks of unattainable states.
It was as if he were drawn irresistably to failure.
" It was hard to keep reading.
I was tired and wanted to give up.
The book seemed aware of this.
It hinted at changing the subject.
I waited for you to wake not knowing how long I waited, and it seemed that I was no longer reading.
I heard the wind passing like a stream of sighs and I heard the shiver of leaves in the trees outside the window.
It would be in the book.
Everything would be there.
I looked at your face and I read the eyes, the nose, the mouth .
.
.
5 If only there were a perfect moment in the book; if only we could live in that moment, we could being the book again as if we had not written it, as if we were not in it.
But the dark approaches to any page are too numerous and the escapes are too narrow.
We read through the day.
Each page turning is like a candle moving through the mind.
Each moment is like a hopeless cause.
If only we could stop reading.
"He never wanted to read another book and she kept staring into the street.
The cars were still there, the deep shade of trees covered them.
The shades were drawn in the new house.
Maybe the man who lived there, the man she loved, was reading the story of another life.
She imagine a bare parlor, a cold fireplace, a man sitting writing a letter to a woman who has sacrificed her life for love.
" If there were a perfect moment in the book, it would be the last.
The book never discusses the causes of love.
It claims confusion is a necessary good.
It never explains.
It only reveals.
6 The day goes on.
We study what we remember.
We look into the mirror across the room.
We cannot bear to be alone.
The book goes on.
"They became silent and did not know how to begin the dialogue which was necessary.
It was words that created divisions in the first place, that created loneliness.
They waited they would turn the pages, hoping something would happen.
They would patch up their lives in secret: each defeat forgiven because it could not be tested, each pain rewarded because it was unreal.
They did nothing.
" 7 The book will not survive.
We are the living proof of that.
It is dark outside, in the room it is darker.
I hear your breathing.
You are asking me if I am tired, if I want to keep reading.
Yes, I am tired.
Yes, I want to keep reading.
I say yes to everything.
You cannot hear me.
"They sat beside each other on the couch.
They were the copies, the tired phantoms of something they had been before.
The attitudes they took were jaded.
They stared into the book and were horrified by their innocence, their reluctance to give up.
They sat beside each other on the couch.
They were determined to accept the truth.
Whatever it was they would accept it.
The book would have to be written and would have to be read.
They are the book and they are nothing else.
Written by Paul Eluard | Create an image from this poem

The Human Face

 I.
Soon Of all the springtimes of the world This one is the ugliest Of all of my ways of being To be trusting is the best Grass pushes up snow Like the stone of a tomb But I sleep within the storm And awaken eyes bright Slowness, brief time ends Where all streets must pass Through my innermost recesses So that I would meet someone I don’t listen to monsters I know them and all that they say I see only beautiful faces Good faces, sure of themselves Certain soon to ruin their masters II.
The women’s role As they sing, the maids dash forward To tidy up the killing fields Well-powdered girls, quickly to their knees Their hands -- reaching for the fresh air -- Are blue like never before What a glorious day! Look at their hands, the dead Look at their liquid eyes This is the toilet of transience The final toilet of life Stones sink and disappear In the vast, primal waters The final toilet of time Hardly a memory remains the dried-up well of virtue In the long, oppressive absences One surrenders to tender flesh Under the spell of weakness III.
As deep as the silence As deep as the silence Of a corpse under ground With nothing but darkness in mind As dull and deaf As autumn by the pond Covered with stale shame Poison, deprived of its flower And of its golden beasts out its night onto man IV.
Patience You, my patient one My patience My parent Head held high and proudly Organ of the sluggish night Bow down Concealing all of heaven And its favor Prepare for vengeance A bed where I'll be born V.
First march, the voice of another Laughing at sky and planets Drunk with their confidence The wise men wish for sons And for sons from their sons Until they all perish in vain Time burdens only fools While Hell alone prospers And the wise men are absurd VI.
A wolf Day surprises me and night scares me haunts me and winter follows me An animal walking on the snow has placed Its paws in the sand or in the mud Its paws have traveled From further afar than my own steps On a path where death Has the imprints of life VII.
A flawless fire The threat under the red sky Came from below -- jaws And scales and links Of a slippery, heavy chain Life was spread about generously So that death took seriously The debt it was paid without a thought Death was the God of love And the conquerors in a kiss Swooned upon their victims Corruption gained courage And yet, beneath the red sky Under the appetites for blood Under the dismal starvation The cavern closed The kind earth filled The graves dug in advance Children were no longer afraid Of maternal depths And madness and stupidity And vulgarity make way For humankind and brotherhood No longer fighting against life -- For an everlasting humankind VIII.
Liberty On my school notebooks On my desk, on the trees On the sand, on the snow I write your name On all the read pages On all the empty pages Stone, blood, paper or ash I write your name On the golden images On the weapons of warriors On the crown of kings I write your name On the jungle and the desert On the nests, on the broom On the echo of my childhood I write your name On the wonders of nights On the white bread of days On the seasons betrothed I write your name d'azur On all my blue rags On the sun-molded pond On the moon-enlivened lake I write your name On the fields, on the horizon On the wings of birds And on the mill of shadows I write your name On every burst of dawn On the sea, on the boats On the insane mountain I write your name On the foam of clouds On the sweat of the storm On the rain, thick and insipid I write your name On the shimmering shapes On the colorful bells On the physical truth I write your name On the alert pathways On the wide-spread roads On the overflowing places I write your name On the lamp that is ignited On the lamp that is dimmed On my reunited houses I write your name On the fruit cut in two Of the mirror and of my room On my bed, an empty shell I write your name On my dog, young and greedy On his pricked-up ears On his clumsy paw I write your name On the springboard of my door On the familiar objects On the wave of blessed fire I write your name On all harmonious flesh On the face of my friends On every out-stretched hand I write your name On the window-pane of surprises On the careful lips Well-above silence I write your name On my destroyed shelter On my collapsed beacon On the walls of my weariness I write your name On absence without want On naked solitude On the steps of death I write your name On regained health On vanished risk On hope free from memory I write your name And by the power of one word I begin my life again I am born to know you To call you by name: Liberty!
Written by Adrienne Rich | Create an image from this poem

Cartographies of Silence

 1.
A conversation begins with a lie.
and each speaker of the so-called common language feels the ice-floe split, the drift apart as if powerless, as if up against a force of nature A poem can being with a lie.
And be torn up.
A conversation has other laws recharges itself with its own false energy, Cannot be torn up.
Infiltrates our blood.
Repeats itself.
Inscribes with its unreturning stylus the isolation it denies.
2.
The classical music station playing hour upon hour in the apartment the picking up and picking up and again picking up the telephone The syllables uttering the old script over and over The loneliness of the liar living in the formal network of the lie twisting the dials to drown the terror beneath the unsaid word 3.
The technology of silence The rituals, etiquette the blurring of terms silence not absence of words or music or even raw sounds Silence can be a plan rigorously executed the blueprint of a life It is a presence it has a history a form Do not confuse it with any kind of absence 4.
How calm, how inoffensive these words begin to seem to me though begun in grief and anger Can I break through this film of the abstract without wounding myself or you there is enough pain here This is why the classical of the jazz music station plays? to give a ground of meaning to our pain? 5.
The silence strips bare: In Dreyer's Passion of Joan Falconetti's face, hair shorn, a great geography mutely surveyed by the camera If there were a poetry where this could happen not as blank space or as words stretched like skin over meaningsof a night through which two people have talked till dawn.
6.
The scream of an illegitimate voice It has ceased to hear itself, therefore it asks itself How do I exist? This was the silence I wanted to break in you I had questions but you would not answer I had answers but you could not use them The is useless to you and perhaps to others 7.
It was an old theme even for me: Language cannot do everything- chalk it on the walls where the dead poets lie in their mausoleums If at the will of the poet the poem could turn into a thing a granite flank laid bare, a lifted head alight with dew If it could simply look you in the face with naked eyeballs, not letting you turn till you, and I who long to make this thing, were finally clarified together in its stare 8.
No.
Let me have this dust, these pale clouds dourly lingering, these words moving with ferocious accuracy like the blind child's fingers or the newborn infant's mouth violent with hunger No one can give me, I have long ago taken this method whether of bran pouring from the loose-woven sack or of the bunsen-flame turned low and blue If from time to time I envy the pure annunciation to the eye the visio beatifica if from time to time I long to turn like the Eleusinian hierophant holding up a single ear of grain for the return to the concrete and everlasting world what in fact I keep choosing are these words, these whispers, conversations from which time after time the truth breaks moist and green.
Written by Walt Whitman | Create an image from this poem

American Feuillage

 AMERICA always! 
Always our own feuillage! 
Always Florida’s green peninsula! Always the priceless delta of Louisiana! Always the
 cotton-fields of Alabama and Texas! 
Always California’s golden hills and hollows—and the silver mountains of New
 Mexico!
 Always soft-breath’d Cuba! 
Always the vast slope drain’d by the Southern Sea—inseparable with the slopes
 drain’d
 by the Eastern and Western Seas;
The area the eighty-third year of These States—the three and a half millions of
 square
 miles; 
The eighteen thousand miles of sea-coast and bay-coast on the main—the thirty
 thousand
 miles of
 river navigation, 
The seven millions of distinct families, and the same number of dwellings—Always
 these,
 and
 more, branching forth into numberless branches; 
Always the free range and diversity! always the continent of Democracy! 
Always the prairies, pastures, forests, vast cities, travelers, Kanada, the snows;
Always these compact lands—lands tied at the hips with the belt stringing the huge
 oval
 lakes; 
Always the West, with strong native persons—the increasing density there—the
 habitans,
 friendly, threatening, ironical, scorning invaders; 
All sights, South, North, East—all deeds, promiscuously done at all times, 
All characters, movements, growths—a few noticed, myriads unnoticed, 
Through Mannahatta’s streets I walking, these things gathering;
On interior rivers, by night, in the glare of pine knots, steamboats wooding up; 
Sunlight by day on the valley of the Susquehanna, and on the valleys of the Potomac and
 Rappahannock, and the valleys of the Roanoke and Delaware; 
In their northerly wilds, beasts of prey haunting the Adirondacks, the hills—or
 lapping
 the
 Saginaw waters to drink; 
In a lonesome inlet, a sheldrake, lost from the flock, sitting on the water, rocking
 silently; 
In farmers’ barns, oxen in the stable, their harvest labor done—they rest
 standing—they are too tired;
Afar on arctic ice, the she-walrus lying drowsily, while her cubs play around; 
The hawk sailing where men have not yet sail’d—the farthest polar sea, ripply,
 crystalline, open, beyond the floes; 
White drift spooning ahead, where the ship in the tempest dashes; 
On solid land, what is done in cities, as the bells all strike midnight together; 
In primitive woods, the sounds there also sounding—the howl of the wolf, the scream
 of the
 panther, and the hoarse bellow of the elk;
In winter beneath the hard blue ice of Moosehead Lake—in summer visible through the
 clear
 waters, the great trout swimming; 
In lower latitudes, in warmer air, in the Carolinas, the large black buzzard floating
 slowly,
 high
 beyond the tree tops, 
Below, the red cedar, festoon’d with tylandria—the pines and cypresses, growing
 out
 of the
 white sand that spreads far and flat; 
Rude boats descending the big Pedee—climbing plants, parasites, with color’d
 flowers
 and
 berries, enveloping huge trees, 
The waving drapery on the live oak, trailing long and low, noiselessly waved by the wind;
The camp of Georgia wagoners, just after dark—the supper-fires, and the cooking and
 eating
 by
 whites and negroes, 
Thirty or forty great wagons—the mules, cattle, horses, feeding from troughs, 
The shadows, gleams, up under the leaves of the old sycamore-trees—the
 flames—with
 the
 black smoke from the pitch-pine, curling and rising; 
Southern fishermen fishing—the sounds and inlets of North Carolina’s
 coast—the
 shad-fishery and the herring-fishery—the large sweep-seines—the windlasses on
 shore
 work’d by horses—the clearing, curing, and packing-houses; 
Deep in the forest, in piney woods, turpentine dropping from the incisions in the
 trees—There
 are the turpentine works,
There are the negroes at work, in good health—the ground in all directions is
 cover’d
 with
 pine straw: 
—In Tennessee and Kentucky, slaves busy in the coalings, at the forge, by the
 furnace-blaze, or
 at the corn-shucking; 
In Virginia, the planter’s son returning after a long absence, joyfully welcom’d
 and
 kiss’d by the aged mulatto nurse; 
On rivers, boatmen safely moor’d at night-fall, in their boats, under shelter of high
 banks, 
Some of the younger men dance to the sound of the banjo or fiddle—others sit on the
 gunwale,
 smoking and talking;
Late in the afternoon, the mocking-bird, the American mimic, singing in the Great Dismal
 Swamp—there are the greenish waters, the resinous odor, the plenteous moss, the
 cypress
 tree,
 and the juniper tree; 
—Northward, young men of Mannahatta—the target company from an excursion
 returning
 home at
 evening—the musket-muzzles all bear bunches of flowers presented by women; 
Children at play—or on his father’s lap a young boy fallen asleep, (how his lips
 move! how
 he smiles in his sleep!) 
The scout riding on horseback over the plains west of the Mississippi—he ascends a
 knoll
 and
 sweeps his eye around; 
California life—the miner, bearded, dress’d in his rude costume—the stanch
 California
 friendship—the sweet air—the graves one, in passing, meets, solitary, just
 aside the
 horsepath;
Down in Texas, the cotton-field, the negro-cabins—drivers driving mules or oxen
 before
 rude
 carts—cotton bales piled on banks and wharves; 
Encircling all, vast-darting, up and wide, the American Soul, with equal
 hemispheres—one
 Love,
 one Dilation or Pride; 
—In arriere, the peace-talk with the Iroquois, the aborigines—the calumet, the
 pipe
 of
 good-will, arbitration, and indorsement, 
The sachem blowing the smoke first toward the sun and then toward the earth, 
The drama of the scalp-dance enacted with painted faces and guttural exclamations,
The setting out of the war-party—the long and stealthy march, 
The single-file—the swinging hatchets—the surprise and slaughter of enemies; 
—All the acts, scenes, ways, persons, attitudes of These States—reminiscences,
 all
 institutions, 
All These States, compact—Every square mile of These States, without excepting a
 particle—you also—me also, 
Me pleas’d, rambling in lanes and country fields, Paumanok’s fields,
Me, observing the spiral flight of two little yellow butterflies, shuffling between each
 other,
 ascending high in the air; 
The darting swallow, the destroyer of insects—the fall traveler southward, but
 returning
 northward early in the spring; 
The country boy at the close of the day, driving the herd of cows, and shouting to them as
 they
 loiter to browse by the road-side; 
The city wharf—Boston, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Charleston, New Orleans, San
 Francisco, 
The departing ships, when the sailors heave at the capstan;
—Evening—me in my room—the setting sun, 
The setting summer sun shining in my open window, showing the swarm of flies, suspended,
 balancing
 in the air in the centre of the room, darting athwart, up and down, casting swift shadows
 in
 specks
 on the opposite wall, where the shine is; 
The athletic American matron speaking in public to crowds of listeners; 
Males, females, immigrants, combinations—the copiousness—the individuality of
 The
 States,
 each for itself—the money-makers; 
Factories, machinery, the mechanical forces—the windlass, lever, pulley—All
 certainties,
The certainty of space, increase, freedom, futurity, 
In space, the sporades, the scatter’d islands, the stars—on the firm earth, the
 lands, my
 lands; 
O lands! all so dear to me—what you are, (whatever it is,) I become a part of that,
 whatever it
 is; 
Southward there, I screaming, with wings slowly flapping, with the myriads of gulls
 wintering
 along
 the coasts of Florida—or in Louisiana, with pelicans breeding; 
Otherways, there, atwixt the banks of the Arkansaw, the Rio Grande, the Nueces, the
 Brazos, the
 Tombigbee, the Red River, the Saskatchawan, or the Osage, I with the spring waters
 laughing
 and
 skipping and running;
Northward, on the sands, on some shallow bay of Paumanok, I, with parties of snowy herons
 wading in
 the wet to seek worms and aquatic plants; 
Retreating, triumphantly twittering, the king-bird, from piercing the crow with its bill,
 for
 amusement—And I triumphantly twittering; 
The migrating flock of wild geese alighting in autumn to refresh themselves—the body
 of
 the
 flock feed—the sentinels outside move around with erect heads watching, and are from
 time
 to
 time reliev’d by other sentinels—And I feeding and taking turns with the rest; 
In Kanadian forests, the moose, large as an ox, corner’d by hunters, rising
 desperately on
 his
 hind-feet, and plunging with his fore-feet, the hoofs as sharp as knives—And I,
 plunging
 at the
 hunters, corner’d and desperate; 
In the Mannahatta, streets, piers, shipping, store-houses, and the countless workmen
 working in
 the
 shops,
And I too of the Mannahatta, singing thereof—and no less in myself than the whole of
 the
 Mannahatta in itself, 
Singing the song of These, my ever united lands—my body no more inevitably united,
 part to
 part, and made one identity, any more than my lands are inevitably united, and made ONE
 IDENTITY; 
Nativities, climates, the grass of the great Pastoral Plains; 
Cities, labors, death, animals, products, war, good and evil—these me, 
These affording, in all their particulars, endless feuillage to me and to America, how can
 I do
 less
 than pass the clew of the union of them, to afford the like to you?
Whoever you are! how can I but offer you divine leaves, that you also be eligible as I am?

How can I but, as here, chanting, invite you for yourself to collect bouquets of the
 incomparable
 feuillage of These States?
Written by Kahlil Gibran | Create an image from this poem

Friendship IXX

 And a youth said, "Speak to us of Friendship.
" Your friend is your needs answered.
He is your field which you sow with love and reap with thanksgiving.
And he is your board and your fireside.
For you come to him with your hunger, and you seek him for peace.
When your friend speaks his mind you fear not the "nay" in your own mind, nor do you withhold the "ay.
" And when he is silent your heart ceases not to listen to his heart; For without words, in friendship, all thoughts, all desires, all expectations are born and shared, with joy that is unacclaimed.
When you part from your friend, you grieve not; For that which you love most in him may be clearer in his absence, as the mountain to the climber is clearer from the plain.
And let there be no purpose in friendship save the deepening of the spirit.
For love that seeks aught but the disclosure of its own mystery is not love but a net cast forth: and only the unprofitable is caught.
And let your best be for your friend.
If he must know the ebb of your tide, let him know its flood also.
For what is your friend that you should seek him with hours to kill? Seek him always with hours to live.
For it is his to fill your need, but not your emptiness.
And in the sweetness of friendship let there be laughter, and sharing of pleasures.
For in the dew of little things the heart finds its morning and is refreshed.
Written by Marilyn Hacker | Create an image from this poem

The Boy

 It is the boy in me who's looking out
the window, while someone across the street
mends a pillowcase, clouds shift, the gutter spout
pours rain, someone else lights a cigarette?

(Because he flinched, because he didn't whirl
around, face them, because he didn't hurl
the challenge back—"Fascists?"—not "Faggots"—Swine!
he briefly wonders—if he were a girl .
.
.
) He writes a line.
He crosses out a line.
I'll never be a man, but there's a boy crossing out words: the rain, the linen-mender, are all the homework he will do today.
The absence and the priviledge of gender confound in him, soprano, clumsy, frail.
Not neuter—neutral human, and unmarked, the younger brother in the fairy tale except, boys shouted "Jew!" across the park at him when he was coming home from school.
The book that he just read, about the war, the partisans, is less a terrible and thrilling story, more a warning, more a code, and he must puzzle out the code.
He has short hair, a red sweatshirt.
They know something about him—that he should be proud of? That's shameful if it shows? That got you killed in 1942.
In his story, do the partisans have sons? Have grandparents? Is he a Jew more than he is a boy, who'll be a man someday? Someone who'll never be a man looks out the window at the rain he thought might stop.
He reads the sentence he began.
He writes down something that he crosses out.
Written by Robert Pinsky | Create an image from this poem

Ode To Meaning

 Dire one and desired one,
Savior, sentencer--

In an old allegory you would carry
A chained alphabet of tokens:

Ankh Badge Cross.
Dragon, Engraved figure guarding a hallowed intaglio, Jasper kinema of legendary Mind, Naked omphalos pierced By quills of rhyme or sense, torah-like: unborn Vein of will, xenophile Yearning out of Zero.
Untrusting I court you.
Wavering I seek your face, I read That Crusoe's knife Reeked of you, that to defile you The soldier makes the rabbi spit on the torah.
"I'll drown my book" says Shakespeare.
Drowned walker, revenant.
After my mother fell on her head, she became More than ever your sworn enemy.
She spoke Sometimes like a poet or critic of forty years later.
Or she spoke of the world as Thersites spoke of the heroes, "I think they have swallowed one another.
I Would laugh at that miracle.
" You also in the laughter, warrior angel: Your helmet the zodiac, rocket-plumed Your spear the beggar's finger pointing to the mouth Your heel planted on the serpent Formulation Your face a vapor, the wreath of cigarette smoke crowning Bogart as he winces through it.
You not in the words, not even Between the words, but a torsion, A cleavage, a stirring.
You stirring even in the arctic ice, Even at the dark ocean floor, even In the cellular flesh of a stone.
Gas.
Gossamer.
My poker friends Question your presence In a poem by me, passing the magazine One to another.
Not the stone and not the words, you Like a veil over Arthur's headstone, The passage from Proverbs he chose While he was too ill to teach And still well enough to read, I was Beside the master craftsman Delighting him day after day, ever At play in his presence--you A soothing veil of distraction playing over Dying Arthur playing in the hospital, Thumbing the Bible, fuzzy from medication, Ever courting your presence, And you the prognosis, You in the cough.
Gesturer, when is your spur, your cloud? You in the airport rituals of greeting and parting.
Indicter, who is your claimant? Bell at the gate.
Spiderweb iron bridge.
Cloak, video, aroma, rue, what is your Elected silence, where was your seed? What is Imagination But your lost child born to give birth to you? Dire one.
Desired one.
Savior, sentencer-- Absence, Or presence ever at play: Let those scorn you who never Starved in your dearth.
If I Dare to disparage Your harp of shadows I taste Wormwood and motor oil, I pour Ashes on my head.
You are the wound.
You Be the medicine.
Written by Edwin Arlington Robinson | Create an image from this poem

Late Summer

 (ALCAICS)


Confused, he found her lavishing feminine 
Gold upon clay, and found her inscrutable; 
And yet she smiled.
Why, then, should horrors Be as they were, without end, her playthings? And why were dead years hungrily telling her Lies of the dead, who told them again to her? If now she knew, there might be kindness Clamoring yet where a faith lay stifled.
A little faith in him, and the ruinous Past would be for time to annihilate, And wash out, like a tide that washes Out of the sand what a child has drawn there.
God, what a shining handful of happiness, Made out of days and out of eternities, Were now the pulsing end of patience— Could he but have what a ghost had stolen! What was a man before him, or ten of them, While he was here alive who could answer them, And in their teeth fling confirmations Harder than agates against an egg-shell? But now the man was dead, and would come again Never, though she might honor ineffably The flimsy wraith of him she conjured Out of a dream with his wand of absence.
And if the truth were now but a mummery, Meriting pride’s implacable irony, So much the worse for pride.
Moreover, Save her or fail, there was conscience always.
Meanwhile, a few misgivings of innocence, Imploring to be sheltered and credited, Were not amiss when she revealed them.
Whether she struggled or not, he saw them.
Also, he saw that while she was hearing him Her eyes had more and more of the past in them; And while he told what cautious honor Told him was all he had best be sure of, He wondered once or twice, inadvertently, Where shifting winds were driving his argosies, Long anchored and as long unladen, Over the foam for the golden chances.
“If men were not for killing so carelessly, And women were for wiser endurances,” He said, “we might have yet a world here Fitter for Truth to be seen abroad in; “If Truth were not so strange in her nakedness, And we were less forbidden to look at it, We might not have to look.
” He stared then Down at the sand where the tide threw forward Its cold, unconquered lines, that unceasingly Foamed against hope, and fell.
He was calm enough, Although he knew he might be silenced Out of all calm; and the night was coming.
“I climb for you the peak of his infamy That you may choose your fall if you cling to it.
No more for me unless you say more.
All you have left of a dream defends you: “The truth may be as evil an augury As it was needful now for the two of us.
We cannot have the dead between us.
Tell me to go, and I go.
”—She pondered: “What you believe is right for the two of us Makes it as right that you are not one of us.
If this be needful truth you tell me, Spare me, and let me have lies hereafter.
” She gazed away where shadows were covering The whole cold ocean’s healing indifference.
No ship was coming.
When the darkness Fell, she was there, and alone, still gazing.
Written by Larry Levis | Create an image from this poem

The Widening Spell Of Leaves

 --The Carpathian Frontier, October, 1968
 --for my brother

Once, in a foreign country, I was suddenly ill.
I was driving south toward a large city famous For so little it had a replica, in concrete, In two-thirds scale, of the Arc de Triomphe stuck In the midst of traffic, & obstructing it.
But the city was hours away, beyond the hills Shaped like the bodies of sleeping women.
Often I had to slow down for herds of goats Or cattle milling on those narrow roads, & for The narrower, lost, stone streets of villages I passed through.
The pains in my stomach had grown Gradually sharper & more frequent as the day Wore on, & now a fever had set up house.
In the villages there wasn't much point in asking Anyone for help.
In those places, where tanks Were bivouacked in shade on their way back From some routine exercise along The Danube, even food was scarce that year.
And the languages shifted for no clear reason From two hard quarries of Slavic into German, Then to a shred of Latin spliced with oohs And hisses.
Even when I tried the simplest phrases, The peasants passing over those uneven stones Paused just long enough to look up once, Uncomprehendingly.
Then they turned Quickly away, vanishing quietly into that Moment, like bark chips whirled downriver.
It was autumn.
Beyond each village the wind Threw gusts of yellowing leaves across the road.
The goats I passed were thin, gray; their hind legs, Caked with dried ****, seesawed along-- Not even mild contempt in their expressionless, Pale eyes, & their brays like the scraping of metal.
Except for one village that had a kind Of museum where I stopped to rest, & saw A dead Scythian soldier under glass, Turning to dust while holding a small sword At attention forever, there wasn't much to look at.
Wind, leaves, goats, the higher passes Locked in stone, the peasants with their fate Embroidering a stillness into them, And a spell over all things in that landscape, Like .
.
.
That was the trouble; it couldn't be Compared to anything else, not even the sleep Of some asylum at a wood's edge with the sound Of a pond's spillway beside it.
But as each cramp Grew worse & lasted longer than the one before, It was hard to keep myself aloof from the threadbare World walking on that road.
After all, Even as they moved, the peasants, the herds of goats And cattle, the spiralling leaves, at least were part Of that spell, that stillness.
After a while, The villages grew even poorer, then thinned out, Then vanished entirely.
An hour later, There were no longer even the goats, only wind, Then more & more leaves blown over the road, sometimes Covering it completely for a second.
And yet, except for a random oak or some brush Writhing out of the ravine I drove beside, The trees had thinned into rock, into large, Tough blonde rosettes of fading pasture grass.
Then that gave out in a bare plateau.
.
.
.
And then, Easing the Dacia down a winding grade In second gear, rounding a long, funneled curve-- In a complete stillness of yellow leaves filling A wide field--like something thoughtlessly, Mistakenly erased, the road simply ended.
I stopped the car.
There was no wind now.
I expected that, & though I was sick & lost, I wasn't afraid.
I should have been afraid.
To this day I don't know why I wasn't.
I could hear time cease, the field quietly widen.
I could feel the spreading stillness of the place Moving like something I'd witnessed as a child, Like the ancient, armored leisure of some reptile Gliding, gray-yellow, into the slightly tepid, Unidentical gray-brown stillness of the water-- Something blank & unresponsive in its tough, Pimpled skin--seen only a moment, then unseen As it submerged to rest on mud, or glided just Beneath the lustreless, calm yellow leaves That clustered along a log, or floated there In broken ringlets, held by a gray froth On the opaque, unbroken surface of the pond, Which reflected nothing, no one.
And then I remembered.
When I was a child, our neighbors would disappear.
And there wasn't a pond of crocodiles at all.
And they hadn't moved.
They couldn't move.
They Lived in the small, fenced-off backwater Of a canal.
I'd never seen them alive.
They Were in still photographs taken on the Ivory Coast.
I saw them only once in a studio when I was a child in a city I once loved.
I was afraid until our neighbor, a photographer, Explained it all to me, explained how far Away they were, how harmless; how they were praised In rituals as "powers.
" But they had no "powers," He said.
The next week he vanished.
I thought Someone had cast a spell & that the crocodiles Swam out of the pictures on the wall & grew Silently & multiplied & then turned into Shadows resting on the banks of lakes & streams Or took the shapes of fallen logs in campgrounds In the mountains.
They ate our neighbor, Mr.
Hirata.
They ate his whole family.
That is what I believed, Then.
.
.
that someone had cast a spell.
I did not Know childhood was a spell, or that then there Had been another spell, too quiet to hear, Entering my city, entering the dust we ate.
.
.
.
No one knew it then.
No one could see it, Though it spread through lawnless miles of housing tracts, And the new, bare, treeless streets; it slipped Into the vacant rows of warehouses & picked The padlocked doors of working-class bars And union halls & shuttered, empty diners.
And how it clung! (forever, if one had noticed) To the brothel with the pastel tassels on the shade Of an unlit table lamp.
Farther in, it feasted On the decaying light of failing shopping centers; It spilled into the older, tree-lined neighborhoods, Into warm houses, sealing itself into books Of bedtime stories read each night by fathers-- The books lying open to the flat, neglected Light of dawn; & it settled like dust on windowsills Downtown, filling the smug cafés, schools, Banks, offices, taverns, gymnasiums, hotels, Newsstands, courtrooms, opium parlors, Basque Restaurants, Armenian steam baths, French bakeries, & two of the florists' shops-- Their plate glass windows smashed forever.
Finally it tried to infiltrate the exact Center of my city, a small square bordered With palm trees, olives, cypresses, a square Where no one gathered, not even thieves or lovers.
It was a place which no longer had any purpose, But held itself aloof, I thought, the way A deaf aunt might, from opinions, styles, gossip.
I liked it there.
It was completely lifeless, Sad & clear in what seemed always a perfect, Windless noon.
I saw it first as a child, Looking down at it from that as yet Unvandalized, makeshift studio.
I remember leaning my right cheek against A striped beach ball so that Mr.
Hirata-- Who was Japanese, who would be sent the next week To a place called Manzanar, a detention camp Hidden in stunted pines almost above The Sierra timberline--could take my picture.
I remember the way he lovingly relished Each camera angle, the unwobbling tripod, The way he checked each aperture against The light meter, in love with all things That were not accidental, & I remember The care he took when focusing; how He tried two different lens filters before He found the one appropriate for that Sensual, late, slow blush of afternoon Falling through the one broad bay window.
I remember holding still & looking down Into the square because he asked me to; Because my mother & father had asked me please To obey & be patient & allow the man-- Whose business was failing anyway by then-- To work as long as he wished to without any Irritations or annoyances before He would have to spend these years, my father said, Far away, in snow, & without his cameras.
But Mr.
Hirata did not work.
He played.
His toys gleamed there.
That much was clear to me .
.
.
.
That was the day I decided I would never work.
It felt like a conversion.
Play was sacred.
My father waited behind us on a sofa made From car seats.
One spring kept nosing through.
I remember the camera opening into the light .
.
.
.
And I remember the dark after, the studio closed, The cameras stolen, slivers of glass from the smashed Bay window littering the unsanded floors, And the square below it bathed in sunlight .
.
.
.
All this Before Mr.
Hirata died, months later, From complications following pneumonia.
His death, a letter from a camp official said, Was purely accidental.
I didn't believe it.
Diseases were wise.
Diseases, like the polio My sister had endured, floating paralyzed And strapped into her wheelchair all through That war, seemed too precise.
Like photographs .
.
.
Except disease left nothing.
Disease was like And equation that drank up light & never ended, Not even in summer.
Before my fever broke, And the pains lessened, I could actually see Myself, in the exact center of that square.
How still it had become in my absence, & how Immaculate, windless, sunlit.
I could see The outline of every leaf on the nearest tree, See it more clearly than ever, more clearly than I had seen anything before in my whole life: Against the modest, dark gray, solemn trunk, The leaves were becoming only what they had to be-- Calm, yellow, things in themselves & nothing More--& frankly they were nothing in themselves, Nothing except their little reassurance Of persisting for a few more days, or returning The year after, & the year after that, & every Year following--estranged from us by now--& clear, So clear not one in a thousand trembled; hushed And always coming back--steadfast, orderly, Taciturn, oblivious--until the end of Time.
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