Best Famous December Poems

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

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Poems are below...

Written by Edgar Allan Poe | Create an image from this poem

The Raven

ONCE upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary, 
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore,¡ª 
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping, 
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
"'T is some visitor," I muttered, "tapping at my chamber door; 5 Only this and nothing more.
" Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor.
Eagerly I wished the morrow;¡ªvainly I had sought to borrow From my books surcease of sorrow¡ªsorrow for the lost Lenore, 10 For the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore: Nameless here for evermore.
And the silken sad uncertain rustling of each purple curtain Thrilled me¡ªfilled me with fantastic terrors never felt before; So that now, to still the beating of my heart, I stood repeating 15 "'T is some visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door, Some late visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door: This it is and nothing more.
" Presently my soul grew stronger; hesitating then no longer, "Sir," said I, "or Madam, truly your forgiveness I implore; 20 But the fact is I was napping, and so gently you came rapping, And so faintly you came tapping, tapping at my chamber door, That I scarce was sure I heard you"¡ªhere I opened wide the door:¡ª Darkness there and nothing more.
Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing, 25 Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortals ever dared to dream before; But the silence was unbroken, and the stillness gave no token, And the only word there spoken was the whispered word, "Lenore?" This I whispered, and an echo murmured back the word, "Lenore:" Merely this and nothing more.
30 Back into the chamber turning, all my soul within me burning, Soon again I heard a tapping somewhat louder than before.
"Surely," said I, "surely that is something at my window lattice; Let me see, then, what thereat is, and this mystery explore; Let my heart be still a moment and this mystery explore: 35 'T is the wind and nothing more.
" Open here I flung the shutter, when, with many a flirt and flutter, In there stepped a stately Raven of the saintly days of yore.
Not the least obeisance made he; not a minute stopped or stayed he; But, with mien of lord or lady, perched above my chamber door, 40 Perched upon a bust of Pallas just above my chamber door: Perched, and sat, and nothing more.
Then this ebony bird beguiling my sad fancy into smiling By the grave and stern decorum of the countenance it wore,¡ª "Though thy crest be shorn and shaven, thou," I said, "art sure no craven, 45 Ghastly grim and ancient Raven wandering from the Nightly shore: Tell me what thy lordly name is on the Night's Plutonian shore!" Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore.
" Much I marvelled this ungainly fowl to hear discourse so plainly, Though its answer little meaning¡ªlittle relevancy bore; 50 For we cannot help agreeing that no living human being Ever yet was blessed with seeing bird above his chamber door, Bird or beast upon the sculptured bust above his chamber door, With such name as "Nevermore.
" But the Raven, sitting lonely on the placid bust, spoke only 55 That one word, as if his soul in that one word he did outpour.
Nothing further then he uttered, not a feather then he fluttered, Till I scarcely more than muttered,¡ª"Other friends have flown before; On the morrow he will leave me, as my Hopes have flown before.
" Then the bird said, "Nevermore.
" 60 Startled at the stillness broken by reply so aptly spoken, "Doubtless," said I, "what it utters is its only stock and store, Caught from some unhappy master whom unmerciful Disaster Followed fast and followed faster till his songs one burden bore: Till the dirges of his Hope that melancholy burden bore 65 Of 'Never¡ªnevermore.
' But the Raven still beguiling all my fancy into smiling, Straight I wheeled a cushioned seat in front of bird and bust and door; Then, upon the velvet sinking, I betook myself to linking Fancy unto fancy, thinking what this ominous bird of yore, 70 What this grim, ungainly, ghastly, gaunt, and ominous bird of yore Meant in croaking "Nevermore.
" This I sat engaged in guessing, but no syllable expressing To the fowl whose fiery eyes now burned into my bosom's core; This and more I sat divining, with my head at ease reclining 75 On the cushion's velvet lining that the lamplight gloated o'er, But whose velvet violet lining with the lamp-light gloating o'er She shall press, ah, nevermore! Then, methought, the air grew denser, perfumed from an unseen censer Swung by seraphim whose foot-falls tinkled on the tufted floor.
80 "Wretch," I cried, "thy God hath lent thee¡ªby these angels he hath sent thee Respite¡ªrespite and nepenthe from thy memories of Lenore!" Quaff, oh quaff this kind nepenthe, and forget this lost Lenore.
" Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore.
" "Prophet!" said I, "thing of evil! prophet still, if bird or devil! 85 Whether Tempter sent, or whether tempest tossed thee here ashore, Desolate yet all undaunted, on this desert land enchanted¡ª On this home by Horror haunted¡ªtell me truly, I implore: Is there¡ªis there balm in Gilead?¡ªtell me¡ªtell me, I implore!" Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore.
" 90 "Prophet!" said I, "thing of evil¡ªprophet still, if bird or devil! By that Heaven that bends above us, by that God we both adore, Tell this soul with sorrow laden if, within the distant Aidenn, It shall clasp a sainted maiden whom the angels name Lenore: Clasp a rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore!" 95 Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore.
" "Be that word our sign of parting, bird or fiend!" I shrieked, upstarting: "Get thee back into the tempest and the Night's Plutonian shore! Leave no black plume as a token of that lie thy soul hath spoken! Leave my loneliness unbroken! quit the bust above my door! 100 Take thy beak from out my heart, and take thy form from off my door!" Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore.
" And the Raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting On the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door; And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon's that is dreaming, 105 And the lamp-light o'er him streaming throws his shadow on the floor: And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor Shall be lifted¡ªnevermore!
Written by Emily Bronte | Create an image from this poem

Love and Friendship

 Love is like the wild rose-briar,
Friendship like the holly-tree --
The holly is dark when the rose-briar blooms
But which will bloom most contantly?
The wild-rose briar is sweet in the spring,
Its summer blossoms scent the air;
Yet wait till winter comes again
And who wil call the wild-briar fair?
Then scorn the silly rose-wreath now
And deck thee with the holly's sheen,
That when December blights thy brow
He may still leave thy garland green.
Written by Robert William Service | Create an image from this poem


 Today I opened wide my eyes,
And stared with wonder and surprise,
To see beneath November skies
An apple blossom peer;
Upon a branch as bleak as night
It gleamed exultant on my sight,
A fairy beacon burning bright
Of hope and cheer.
"Alas!" said I, "poor foolish thing, Have you mistaken this for Spring? Behold, the thrush has taken wing, And Winter's near.
" Serene it seemed to lift its head: "The Winter's wrath I do not dread, Because I am," it proudly said, "A Pioneer.
"Some apple blossom must be first, With beauty's urgency to burst Into a world for joy athirst, And so I dare; And I shall see what none shall see - December skies gloom over me, And mock them with my April glee, And fearless fare.
"And I shall hear what none shall hear - The hardy robin piping clear, The Storm King gallop dark and drear Across the sky; And I shall know what none shall know - The silent kisses of the snow, The Christmas candles' silver glow, Before I die.
"Then from your frost-gemmed window pane One morning you will look in vain, My smile of delicate disdain No more to see; But though I pass before my time, And perish in the grale and grime, Maybe you'll have a little rhyme To spare for me.
Written by Gary Soto | Create an image from this poem


The first time I walked
With a girl, I was twelve,
Cold, and weighted down
With two oranges in my jacket.
Frost cracking Beneath my steps, my breath Before me, then gone, As I walked toward Her house, the one whose Porch light burned yellow Night and day, in any weather.
A dog barked at me, until She came out pulling At her gloves, face bright With rouge.
I smiled, Touched her shoulder, and led Her down the street, across A used car lot and a line Of newly planted trees, Until we were breathing Before a drugstore.
We Entered, the tiny bell Bringing a saleslady Down a narrow aisle of goods.
I turned to the candies Tiered like bleachers, And asked what she wanted - Light in her eyes, a smile Starting at the corners Of her mouth.
I fingered A nickle in my pocket, And when she lifted a chocolate That cost a dime, I didn't say anything.
I took the nickle from My pocket, then an orange, And set them quietly on The counter.
When I looked up, The lady's eyes met mine, And held them, knowing Very well what it was all About.
Outside, A few cars hissing past, Fog hanging like old Coats between the trees.
I took my girl's hand In mine for two blocks, Then released it to let Her unwrap the chocolate.
I peeled my orange That was so bright against The gray of December That, from some distance, Someone might have thought I was making a fire in my hands.
Written by Sandra Cisneros | Create an image from this poem

One Last Poem For Richard

December 24th and we’re through again.
This time for good I know because I didn’t throw you out — and anyway we waved.
No shoes.
No angry doors.
We folded clothes and went our separate ways.
You left behind that flannel shirt of yours I liked but remembered to take your toothbrush.
Where are you tonight? Richard, it’s Christmas Eve again and old ghosts come back home.
I’m sitting by the Christmas tree wondering where did we go wrong.
Okay, we didn’t work, and all memories to tell you the truth aren’t good.
But sometimes there were good times.
Love was good.
I loved your crooked sleep beside me and never dreamed afraid.
There should be stars for great wars like ours.
There ought to be awards and plenty of champagne for the survivors.
After all the years of degradations, the several holidays of failure, there should be something to commemorate the pain.
Someday we’ll forget that great Brazil disaster.
Till then, Richard, I wish you well.
I wish you love affairs and plenty of hot water, and women kinder than I treated you.
I forget the reason, but I loved you once, remember? Maybe in this season, drunk and sentimental, I’m willing to admit a part of me, crazed and kamikaze, ripe for anarchy, loves still.
Written by T S (Thomas Stearns) Eliot | Create an image from this poem

Portrait of a Lady

 Thou hast committed—
Fornication: but that was in another country,
And besides, the wench is dead.
The Jew of Malta.
I AMONG the smoke and fog of a December afternoon You have the scene arrange itself—as it will seem to do— With “I have saved this afternoon for you”; And four wax candles in the darkened room, Four rings of light upon the ceiling overhead, An atmosphere of Juliet’s tomb Prepared for all the things to be said, or left unsaid.
We have been, let us say, to hear the latest Pole Transmit the Preludes, through his hair and fingertips.
“So intimate, this Chopin, that I think his soul Should be resurrected only among friends Some two or three, who will not touch the bloom That is rubbed and questioned in the concert room.
” —And so the conversation slips Among velleities and carefully caught regrets Through attenuated tones of violins Mingled with remote cornets And begins.
“You do not know how much they mean to me, my friends, And how, how rare and strange it is, to find In a life composed so much, so much of odds and ends, [For indeed I do not love it .
you knew? you are not blind! How keen you are!] To find a friend who has these qualities, Who has, and gives Those qualities upon which friendship lives.
How much it means that I say this to you— Without these friendships—life, what cauchemar!” Among the windings of the violins And the ariettes Of cracked cornets Inside my brain a dull tom-tom begins Absurdly hammering a prelude of its own, Capricious monotone That is at least one definite “false note.
” —Let us take the air, in a tobacco trance, Admire the monuments, Discuss the late events, Correct our watches by the public clocks.
Then sit for half an hour and drink our bocks.
II Now that lilacs are in bloom She has a bowl of lilacs in her room And twists one in his fingers while she talks.
“Ah, my friend, you do not know, you do not know What life is, you who hold it in your hands”; (Slowly twisting the lilac stalks) “You let it flow from you, you let it flow, And youth is cruel, and has no remorse And smiles at situations which it cannot see.
” I smile, of course, And go on drinking tea.
“Yet with these April sunsets, that somehow recall My buried life, and Paris in the Spring, I feel immeasurably at peace, and find the world To be wonderful and youthful, after all.
” The voice returns like the insistent out-of-tune Of a broken violin on an August afternoon: “I am always sure that you understand My feelings, always sure that you feel, Sure that across the gulf you reach your hand.
You are invulnerable, you have no Achilles’ heel.
You will go on, and when you have prevailed You can say: at this point many a one has failed.
But what have I, but what have I, my friend, To give you, what can you receive from me? Only the friendship and the sympathy Of one about to reach her journey’s end.
I shall sit here, serving tea to friends.
” I take my hat: how can I make a cowardly amends For what she has said to me? You will see me any morning in the park Reading the comics and the sporting page.
Particularly I remark An English countess goes upon the stage.
A Greek was murdered at a Polish dance, Another bank defaulter has confessed.
I keep my countenance, I remain self-possessed Except when a street piano, mechanical and tired Reiterates some worn-out common song With the smell of hyacinths across the garden Recalling things that other people have desired.
Are these ideas right or wrong? III The October night comes down; returning as before Except for a slight sensation of being ill at ease I mount the stairs and turn the handle of the door And feel as if I had mounted on my hands and knees.
“And so you are going abroad; and when do you return? But that’s a useless question.
You hardly know when you are coming back, You will find so much to learn.
” My smile falls heavily among the bric-à-brac.
“Perhaps you can write to me.
” My self-possession flares up for a second; This is as I had reckoned.
“I have been wondering frequently of late (But our beginnings never know our ends!) Why we have not developed into friends.
” I feel like one who smiles, and turning shall remark Suddenly, his expression in a glass.
My self-possession gutters; we are really in the dark.
“For everybody said so, all our friends, They all were sure our feelings would relate So closely! I myself can hardly understand.
We must leave it now to fate.
You will write, at any rate.
Perhaps it is not too late.
I shall sit here, serving tea to friends.
” And I must borrow every changing shape To find expression .
dance, dance Like a dancing bear, Cry like a parrot, chatter like an ape.
Let us take the air, in a tobacco trance— Well! and what if she should die some afternoon, Afternoon grey and smoky, evening yellow and rose; Should die and leave me sitting pen in hand With the smoke coming down above the housetops; Doubtful, for a while Not knowing what to feel or if I understand Or whether wise or foolish, tardy or too soon.
Would she not have the advantage, after all? This music is successful with a “dying fall” Now that we talk of dying— And should I have the right to smile?
Written by Victor Hugo | Create an image from this poem


 ("Enfants! Oh! revenez!") 
 {XXII, April, 1837} 

 Children, come back—come back, I say— 
 You whom my folly chased away 
 A moment since, from this my room, 
 With bristling wrath and words of doom! 
 What had you done, you bandits small, 
 With lips as red as roses all? 
 What crime?—what wild and hapless deed? 
 What porcelain vase by you was split 
 To thousand pieces? Did you need 
 For pastime, as you handled it, 
 Some Gothic missal to enrich 
 With your designs fantastical? 
 Or did your tearing fingers fall 
 On some old picture? Which, oh, which 
 Your dreadful fault? Not one of these; 
 Only when left yourselves to please 
 This morning but a moment here 
 'Mid papers tinted by my mind 
 You took some embryo verses near— 
 Half formed, but fully well designed 
 To open out. Your hearts desire 
 Was but to throw them on the fire, 
 Then watch the tinder, for the sight 
 Of shining sparks that twinkle bright 
 As little boats that sail at night, 
 Or like the window lights that spring 
 From out the dark at evening. 
 'Twas all, and you were well content. 
 Fine loss was this for anger's vent— 
 A strophe ill made midst your play, 
 Sweet sound that chased the words away 
 In stormy flight. An ode quite new, 
 With rhymes inflated—stanzas, too, 
 That panted, moving lazily, 
 And heavy Alexandrine lines 
 That seemed to jostle bodily, 
 Like children full of play designs 
 That spring at once from schoolroom's form. 
 Instead of all this angry storm, 
 Another might have thanked you well 
 For saving prey from that grim cell, 
 That hollowed den 'neath journals great, 
 Where editors who poets flout 
 With their demoniac laughter shout. 
 And I have scolded you! What fate 
 For charming dwarfs who never meant 
 To anger Hercules! And I 
 Have frightened you!—My chair I sent 
 Back to the wall, and then let fly 
 A shower of words the envious use— 
 "Get out," I said, with hard abuse, 
 "Leave me alone—alone I say." 
 Poor man alone! Ah, well-a-day, 
 What fine result—what triumph rare! 
 As one turns from the coffin'd dead 
 So left you me:—I could but stare 
 Upon the door through which you fled— 
 I proud and grave—but punished quite. 
 And what care you for this my plight!— 
 You have recovered liberty, 
 Fresh air and lovely scenery, 
 The spacious park and wished-for grass; 
 And gratefully to sing. 
 A blade to watch what comes to pass; 
 Blue sky, and all the spring can show; 
 Nature, serenely fair to see; 
 The book of birds and spirits free, 
 God's poem, worth much more than mine, 
 Where flowers for perfect stanzas shine— 
 Flowers that a child may pluck in play, 
 No harsh voice frightening it away. 
 And I'm alone—all pleasure o'er— 
 Alone with pedant called "Ennui," 
 For since the morning at my door 
 Ennui has waited patiently. 
 That docto-r-London born, you mark, 
 One Sunday in December dark, 
 Poor little ones—he loved you not, 
 And waited till the chance he got 
 To enter as you passed away, 
 And in the very corner where 
 You played with frolic laughter gay, 
 He sighs and yawns with weary air. 
 What can I do? Shall I read books, 
 Or write more verse—or turn fond looks 
 Upon enamels blue, sea-green, 
 And white—on insects rare as seen 
 Upon my Dresden china ware? 
 Or shall I touch the globe, and care 
 To make the heavens turn upon 
 Its axis? No, not one—not one 
 Of all these things care I to do; 
 All wearies me—I think of you. 
 In truth with you my sunshine fled, 
 And gayety with your light tread— 
 Glad noise that set me dreaming still. 
 'Twas my delight to watch your will, 
 And mark you point with finger-tips 
 To help your spelling out a word; 
 To see the pearls between your lips 
 When I your joyous laughter heard; 
 Your honest brows that looked so true, 
 And said "Oh, yes!" to each intent; 
 Your great bright eyes, that loved to view 
 With admiration innocent 
 My fine old Sèvres; the eager thought 
 That every kind of knowledge sought; 
 The elbow push with "Come and see!" 
 Oh, certes! spirits, sylphs, there be, 
 And fays the wind blows often here; 
 The gnomes that squat the ceiling near, 
 In corners made by old books dim; 
 The long-backed dwarfs, those goblins grim 
 That seem at home 'mong vases rare, 
 And chat to them with friendly air— 
 Oh, how the joyous demon throng 
 Must all have laughed with laughter long 
 To see you on my rough drafts fall, 
 My bald hexameters, and all 
 The mournful, miserable band, 
 And drag them with relentless hand 
 From out their box, with true delight 
 To set them each and all a-light, 
 And then with clapping hands to lean 
 Above the stove and watch the scene, 
 How to the mass deformed there came 
 A soul that showed itself in flame! 
 Bright tricksy children—oh, I pray 
 Come back and sing and dance away, 
 And chatter too—sometimes you may, 
 A giddy group, a big book seize— 
 Or sometimes, if it so you please, 
 With nimble step you'll run to me 
 And push the arm that holds the pen, 
 Till on my finished verse will be 
 A stroke that's like a steeple when 
 Seen suddenly upon a plain. 
 My soul longs for your breath again 
 To warm it. Oh, return—come here 
 With laugh and babble—and no fear 
 When with your shadow you obscure 
 The book I read, for I am sure, 
 Oh, madcaps terrible and dear, 
 That you were right and I was wrong. 
 But who has ne'er with scolding tongue 
 Blamed out of season. Pardon me! 
 You must forgive—for sad are we. 
 The young should not be hard and cold 
 And unforgiving to the old. 
 Children each morn your souls ope out 
 Like windows to the shining day, 
 Oh, miracle that comes about, 
 The miracle that children gay 
 Have happiness and goodness too, 
 Caressed by destiny are you, 
 Charming you are, if you but play. 
 But we with living overwrought, 
 And full of grave and sombre thought, 
 Are snappish oft: dear little men, 
 We have ill-tempered days, and then, 
 Are quite unjust and full of care; 
 It rained this morning and the air 
 Was chill; but clouds that dimm'd the sky 
 Have passed. Things spited me, and why? 
 But now my heart repents. Behold 
 What 'twas that made me cross, and scold! 
 All by-and-by you'll understand, 
 When brows are mark'd by Time's stern hand; 
 Then you will comprehend, be sure, 
 When older—that's to say, less pure. 
 The fault I freely own was mine. 
 But oh, for pardon now I pine! 
 Enough my punishment to meet, 
 You must forgive, I do entreat 
 With clasped hands praying—oh, come back, 
 Make peace, and you shall nothing lack. 
 See now my pencils—paper—here, 
 And pointless compasses, and dear 
 Old lacquer-work; and stoneware clear 
 Through glass protecting; all man's toys 
 So coveted by girls and boys. 
 Great China monsters—bodies much 
 Like cucumbers—you all shall touch. 
 I yield up all! my picture rare 
 Found beneath antique rubbish heap, 
 My great and tapestried oak chair 
 I will from you no longer keep. 
 You shall about my table climb, 
 And dance, or drag, without a cry 
 From me as if it were a crime. 
 Even I'll look on patiently 
 If you your jagged toys all throw 
 Upon my carved bench, till it show 
 The wood is torn; and freely too, 
 I'll leave in your own hands to view, 
 My pictured Bible—oft desired— 
 But which to touch your fear inspired— 
 With God in emperor's robes attired. 
 Then if to see my verses burn, 
 Should seem to you a pleasant turn, 
 Take them to freely tear away 
 Or burn. But, oh! not so I'd say, 
 If this were Méry's room to-day. 
 That noble poet! Happy town, 
 Marseilles the Greek, that him doth own! 
 Daughter of Homer, fair to see, 
 Of Virgil's son the mother she. 
 To you I'd say, Hold, children all, 
 Let but your eyes on his work fall; 
 These papers are the sacred nest 
 In which his crooning fancies rest; 
 To-morrow winged to Heaven they'll soar, 
 For new-born verse imprisoned still 
 In manuscript may suffer sore 
 At your small hands and childish will, 
 Without a thought of bad intent, 
 Of cruelty quite innocent. 
 You wound their feet, and bruise their wings, 
 And make them suffer those ill things 
 That children's play to young birds brings. 
 But mine! no matter what you do, 
 My poetry is all in you; 
 You are my inspiration bright 
 That gives my verse its purest light. 
 Children whose life is made of hope, 
 Whose joy, within its mystic scope, 
 Owes all to ignorance of ill, 
 You have not suffered, and you still 
 Know not what gloomy thoughts weigh down 
 The poet-writer weary grown. 
 What warmth is shed by your sweet smile! 
 How much he needs to gaze awhile 
 Upon your shining placid brow, 
 When his own brow its ache doth know; 
 With what delight he loves to hear 
 Your frolic play 'neath tree that's near, 
 Your joyous voices mixing well 
 With his own song's all-mournful swell! 
 Come back then, children! come to me, 
 If you wish not that I should be 
 As lonely now that you're afar 
 As fisherman of Etrétat, 
 Who listless on his elbow leans 
 Through all the weary winter scenes, 
 As tired of thought—as on Time flies— 
 And watching only rainy skies! 


Written by Pablo Neruda | Create an image from this poem

Ode To Tomatoes

 The street
filled with tomatoes,
light is
its juice
through the streets.
In December, unabated, the tomato invades the kitchen, it enters at lunchtime, takes its ease on countertops, among glasses, butter dishes, blue saltcellars.
It sheds its own light, benign majesty.
Unfortunately, we must murder it: the knife sinks into living flesh, red viscera a cool sun, profound, inexhaustible, populates the salads of Chile, happily, it is wed to the clear onion, and to celebrate the union we pour oil, essential child of the olive, onto its halved hemispheres, pepper adds its fragrance, salt, its magnetism; it is the wedding of the day, parsley hoists its flag, potatoes bubble vigorously, the aroma of the roast knocks at the door, it's time! come on! and, on the table, at the midpoint of summer, the tomato, star of earth, recurrent and fertile star, displays its convolutions, its canals, its remarkable amplitude and abundance, no pit, no husk, no leaves or thorns, the tomato offers its gift of fiery color and cool completeness.
Written by Charles Simic | Create an image from this poem


 A New Version: 1980

 What is that little black thing I see there
 in the white?
 Walt Whitman


Out of poverty
To begin again: 

With the color of the bride
And that of blindness,

Touch what I can
Of the quick,

Speak and then wait,
As if this light

Will continue to linger
On the threshold.
All that is near, I no longer give it a name.
Once a stone hard of hearing, Once sharpened into a knife.
Now only a chill Slipping through.
Enough glow to kneel by and ask To be tied to its tail When it goes marrying Its cousins, the stars.
Is it a cloud? If it's a cloud it will move on.
The true shape of this thought, Migrant, waning.
Something seeks someone, It bears him a gift Of himself, a bit Of snow to taste, Glimpse of his own nakedness By which to imagine the face.
On a late afternoon of snow In a dim badly-aired grocery, Where a door has just rung With a short, shrill echo, A little boy hands the old, Hard-faced woman Bending low over the counter, A shiny nickel for a cupcake.
Now only that shine, now Only that lull abides.
That your gaze Be merciful, Sister, bride Of my first hopeless insomnia.
Kind nurse, show me The place of salves.
Teach me the song That makes a man rise His glass at dusk Until a star dances in it.
Who are you? Are you anybody A moonrock would recognize? There are words I need.
They are not near men.
I went searching.
Is this a deathmarch? You bend me, bend me, Oh toward what flower! Little-known vowel, Noose big for us all.
As strange as a shepherd In the Arctic Circle.
Someone like Bo-peep.
All his sheep are white And he can't get any sleep Over lost sheep.
And he's got a flute Which says Bo-peep, Which says Poor boy, Take care of your snow-sheep.
to A.
Hamilton Then all's well and white, And no more than white.
Illinois snowbound.
Indiana with one bare tree.
Michigan a storm-cloud.
Wisconsin empty of men.
There's a trap on the ice Laid there centuries ago.
The bait is still fresh.
The metal glitters as the night descends.
Woe, woe, it sings from the bough.
Our Lady, etc.
You had me hoodwinked.
I see your brand new claws.
Praying, what do I betray By desiring your purity? There are old men and women, All bandaged up, waiting At the spiked, wrought-iron gate Of the Great Eye and Ear Infirmery.
We haven't gone far.
Fear lives there too.
Five ears of my fingertips Against the white page.
What do you hear? We hear holy nothing Blindfolding itself.
It touched you once, twice, And tore like a stitch Out of a new wound.
Two What are you up to son of a gun? I roast on my heart's dark side.
What do you use as a skewer sweetheart? I use my own crooked backbone.
What do you salt yourself with loverboy? I grind the words out of my spittle.
And how will you know when you're done chump? When the half-moons on my fingernails set.
With what knife will you carve yourself smartass? The one I hide in my tongue's black boot.
Well, you can't call me a wrestler If my own dead weight has me pinned down.
Well, you can't call me a cook If the pot's got me under its cover.
Well, you can't call me a king if the flies hang their hats in my mouth.
Well, you can't call me smart, When the rain's falling my cup's in the cupboard.
Nor can you call me a saint, If I didn't err, there wouldn't be these smudges.
One has to manage as best as one can.
The poppies ate the sunset for supper.
One has to manage as best as one can.
Who stole my blue thread, the one I tied around my pinky to remember? One has to manage as best as one can.
The flea I was standing on, jumped.
One has to manage as best as one can.
I think my head went out for a walk.
One has to manage as best as one can.
This is breath, only breath, Think it over midnight! A fly weighs twice as much.
The struck match nods as it passes, But when I shout, Its true name sticks in my throat.
It has to be cold So the breath turns white, And then mother, who's fast enough To write his life on it? A song in prison And for prisoners, Made of what the condemned Have hidden from the jailers.
White--let me step aside So that the future may see you, For when this sheet is blown away, What else is left But to set the food on the table, To cut oneself a slice of bread? In an unknown year Of an algebraic century, An obscure widow Wrapped in the colors of widowhood, Met a true-blue orphan On an indeterminate street-corner.
She offered him A tiny sugar cube In the hand so wizened All the lines said: fate.
Do you take this line Stretching to infinity? I take this chipped tooth On which to cut it in half.
Do you take this circle Bounded by a single curved line? I take this breath That it cannot capture.
Then you may kiss the spot Where her bridal train last rustled.
Winter can come now, The earth narrow to a ditch-- And the sky with its castles and stone lions Above the empty plains.
The snow can fall.
What other perennials would you plant, My prodigals, my explorers Tossing and turning in the dark For those remote, finely honed bees, The December stars? Had to get through me elsewhere.
Woe to bone That stood in their way.
Woe to each morsel of flesh.
White ants In a white anthill.
The rustle of their many feet Scurrying--tiptoing too.
Gravedigger ants.
Village-idiot ants.
This is the last summoning.
Solitude--as in the beginning.
A zero burped by a bigger zero-- It's an awful licking I got.
And fear--that dead letter office.
And doubt--that Chinese shadow play.
Does anyone still say a prayer Before going to bed? White sleeplessness.
No one knows its weight.
What The White Had To Say For how could anything white be distinct from or divided from whiteness? Meister Eckhart Because I am the bullet That has gone through everyone already, I thought of you long before you thought of me.
Each one of you still keeps a blood-stained handkerchief In which to swaddle me, but it stays empty And even the wind won't remain in it long.
Cleverly you've invented name after name for me, Mixed the riddles, garbled the proverbs, Shook you loaded dice in a tin cup, But I do not answer back even to your curses, For I am nearer to you than your breath.
One sun shines on us both through a crack in the roof.
A spoon brings me through the window at dawn.
A plate shows me off to the four walls While with my tail I swing at the flies.
But there's no tail and the flies are your thoughts.
Steadily, patiently I life your arms.
I arrange them in the posture of someone drowning, And yet the sea in which you are sinking, And even this night above it, is myself.
Because I am the bullet That has baptized each one of your senses, Poems are made of our lusty wedding nights.
The joy of words as they are written.
The ear that got up at four in the morning To hear the grass grow inside a word.
Still, the most beautiful riddle has no answer.
I am the emptiness that tucks you in like a mockingbird's nest, The fingernail that scratched on your sleep's blackboard.
Take a letter: From cloud to onion.
Say: There was never any real choice.
One gaunt shadowy mother wiped our asses, The same old orphanage taught us loneliness.
Street-organ full of blue notes, I am the monkey dancing to your grinding-- And still you are afraid-and so, It's as if we had not budged from the beginning.
Time slopes.
We are falling head over heels At the speed of night.
That milk tooth You left under the pillow, it's grinning.
1970-1980 This currently out-of-print edition: Copyright ©1980 Logbridge-Rhodes, Inc.
An earlier version of White was first published by New Rivers Press in 1972.
Written by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow | Create an image from this poem

The Poets Calendar


Janus am I; oldest of potentates; 
Forward I look, and backward, and below 
I count, as god of avenues and gates, 
The years that through my portals come and go.
I block the roads, and drift the fields with snow; I chase the wild-fowl from the frozen fen; My frosts congeal the rivers in their flow, My fires light up the hearths and hearts of men.
February I am lustration, and the sea is mine! I wash the sands and headlands with my tide; My brow is crowned with branches of the pine; Before my chariot-wheels the fishes glide.
By me all things unclean are purified, By me the souls of men washed white again; E'en the unlovely tombs of those who died Without a dirge, I cleanse from every stain.
March I Martius am! Once first, and now the third! To lead the Year was my appointed place; A mortal dispossessed me by a word, And set there Janus with the double face.
Hence I make war on all the human race; I shake the cities with my hurricanes; I flood the rivers and their banks efface, And drown the farms and hamlets with my rains.
April I open wide the portals of the Spring To welcome the procession of the flowers, With their gay banners, and the birds that sing Their song of songs from their aerial towers.
I soften with my sunshine and my showers The heart of earth; with thoughts of love I glide Into the hearts of men; and with the Hours Upon the Bull with wreathed horns I ride.
May Hark! The sea-faring wild-fowl loud proclaim My coming, and the swarming of the bees.
These are my heralds, and behold! my name Is written in blossoms on the hawthorn-trees.
I tell the mariner when to sail the seas; I waft o'er all the land from far away The breath and bloom of the Hesperides, My birthplace.
I am Maia.
I am May.
June Mine is the Month of Roses; yes, and mine The Month of Marriages! All pleasant sights And scents, the fragrance of the blossoming vine, The foliage of the valleys and the heights.
Mine are the longest days, the loveliest nights; The mower's scythe makes music to my ear; I am the mother of all dear delights; I am the fairest daughter of the year.
July My emblem is the Lion, and I breathe The breath of Libyan deserts o'er the land; My sickle as a sabre I unsheathe, And bent before me the pale harvests stand.
The lakes and rivers shrink at my command, And there is thirst and fever in the air; The sky is changed to brass, the earth to sand; I am the Emperor whose name I bear.
August The Emperor Octavian, called the August, I being his favorite, bestowed his name Upon me, and I hold it still in trust, In memory of him and of his fame.
I am the Virgin, and my vestal flame Burns less intensely than the Lion's rage; Sheaves are my only garlands, and I claim The golden Harvests as my heritage.
September I bear the Scales, where hang in equipoise The night and day; and whenunto my lips I put my trumpet, with its stress and noise Fly the white clouds like tattered sails of ships; The tree-tops lash the air with sounding whips; Southward the clamorous sea-fowl wing their flight; The hedges are all red with haws and hips, The Hunter's Moon reigns empress of the night.
October My ornaments are fruits; my garments leaves, Woven like cloth of gold, and crimson dyed; I do no boast the harvesting of sheaves, O'er orchards and o'er vineyards I preside.
Though on the frigid Scorpion I ride, The dreamy air is full, and overflows With tender memories of the summer-tide, And mingled voices of the doves and crows.
November The Centaur, Sagittarius, am I, Born of Ixion's and the cloud's embrace; With sounding hoofs across the earth I fly, A steed Thessalian with a human face.
Sharp winds the arrows are with which I chase The leaves, half dead already with affright; I shroud myself in gloom; and to the race Of mortals bring nor comfort nor delight.
December Riding upon the Goat, with snow-white hair, I come, the last of all.
This crown of mine Is of the holly; in my hand I bear The thyrsus, tipped with fragrant cones of pine.
I celebrate the birth of the Divine, And the return of the Saturnian reign;-- My songs are carols sung at every shrine, Proclaiming "Peace on earth, good will to men.