Best Famous Facts Poems

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12
Written by Maya Angelou | Create an image from this poem

Weekend Glory

 Some clichty folks
don't know the facts,
posin' and preenin'
and puttin' on acts,
stretchin' their backs.
They move into condos up over the ranks, pawn their souls to the local banks.
Buying big cars they can't afford, ridin' around town actin' bored.
If they want to learn how to live life right they ought to study me on Saturday night.
My job at the plant ain't the biggest bet, but I pay my bills and stay out of debt.
I get my hair done for my own self's sake, so I don't have to pick and I don't have to rake.
Take the church money out and head cross town to my friend girl's house where we plan our round.
We meet our men and go to a joint where the music is blue and to the point.
Folks write about me.
They just can't see how I work all week at the factory.
Then get spruced up and laugh and dance And turn away from worry with sassy glance.
They accuse me of livin' from day to day, but who are they kiddin'? So are they.
My life ain't heaven but it sure ain't hell.
I'm not on top but I call it swell if I'm able to work and get paid right and have the luck to be Black on a Saturday night.
Written by Wendell Berry | Create an image from this poem

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

 Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay.
Want more of everything ready-made.
Be afraid to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery any more.
Your mind will be punched in a card and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something they will call you.
When they want you to die for profit they will let you know.
So, friends, every day do something that won't compute.
Love the Lord.
Love the world.
Work for nothing.
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it.
Denounce the government and embrace the flag.
Hope to live in that free republic for which it stands.
Give your approval to all you cannot understand.
Praise ignorance, for what man has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers.
Invest in the millenium.
Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest that you did not plant, that you will not live to harvest.
Say that the leaves are harvested when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit.
Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus that will build under the trees every thousand years.
Listen to carrion -- put your ear close, and hear the faint chattering of the songs that are to come.
Expect the end of the world.
Laugh.
Laughter is immeasurable.
Be joyful though you have considered all the facts.
So long as women do not go cheap for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy a woman satisfied to bear a child? Will this disturb the sleep of a woman near to giving birth? Go with your love to the fields.
Lie down in the shade.
Rest your head in her lap.
Swear allegiance to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos can predict the motions of your mind, lose it.
Leave it as a sign to mark the false trail, the way you didn't go.
Be like the fox who makes more tracks than necessary, some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.
Written by Anthony Hecht | Create an image from this poem

The Transparent Man

 I'm mighty glad to see you, Mrs.
Curtis, And thank you very kindly for this visit-- Especially now when all the others here Are having holiday visitors, and I feel A little conspicuous and in the way.
It's mainly because of Thanksgiving.
All these mothers And wives and husbands gaze at me soulfully And feel they should break up their box of chocolates For a donation, or hand me a chunk of fruitcake.
What they don't understand and never guess Is that it's better for me without a family; It's a great blessing.
Though I mean no harm.
And as for visitors, why, I have you, All cheerful, brisk and punctual every Sunday, Like church, even if the aisles smell of phenol.
And you always bring even better gifts than any On your book-trolley.
Though they mean only good, Families can become a sort of burden.
I've only got my father, and he won't come, Poor man, because it would be too much for him.
And for me, too, so it's best the way it is.
He knows, you see, that I will predecease him, Which is hard enough.
It would take a callous man To come and stand around and watch me failing.
(Now don't you fuss; we both know the plain facts.
) But for him it's even harder.
He loved my mother.
They say she looked like me; I suppose she may have.
Or rather, as I grew older I came to look More and more like she must one time have looked, And so the prospect for my father now Of losing me is like having to lose her twice.
I know he frets about me.
Dr.
Frazer Tells me he phones in every single day, Hoping that things will take a turn for the better.
But with leukemia things don't improve.
It's like a sort of blizzard in the bloodstream, A deep, severe, unseasonable winter, Burying everything.
The white blood cells Multiply crazily and storm around, Out of control.
The chemotherapy Hasn't helped much, and it makes my hair fall out.
I know I look a sight, but I don't care.
I care about fewer things; I'm more selective.
It's got so I can't even bring myself To read through any of your books these days.
It's partly weariness, and partly the fact That I seem not to care much about the endings, How things work out, or whether they even do.
What I do instead is sit here by this window And look out at the trees across the way.
You wouldn't think that was much, but let me tell you, It keeps me quite intent and occupied.
Now all the leaves are down, you can see the spare, Delicate structures of the sycamores, The fine articulation of the beeches.
I have sat here for days studying them, And I have only just begun to see What it is that they resemble.
One by one, They stand there like magnificent enlargements Of the vascular system of the human brain.
I see them there like huge discarnate minds, Lost in their meditative silences.
The trunks, branches and twigs compose the vessels That feed and nourish vast immortal thoughts.
So I've assigned them names.
There, near the path, Is the great brain of Beethoven, and Kepler Haunts the wide spaces of that mountain ash.
This view, you see, has become my Hall of Fame, It came to me one day when I remembered Mary Beth Finley who used to play with me When we were girls.
One year her parents gave her A birthday toy called "The Transparent Man.
" It was made of plastic, with different colored organs, And the circulatory system all mapped out In rivers of red and blue.
She'd ask me over And the two of us would sit and study him Together, and do a powerful lot of giggling.
I figure he's most likely the only man Either of us would ever get to know Intimately, because Mary Beth became A Sister of Mercy when she was old enough.
She must be thirty-one; she was a year Older than I, and about four inches taller.
I used to envy both those advantages Back in those days.
Anyway, I was struck Right from the start by the sea-weed intricacy, The fine-haired, silken-threaded filiations That wove, like Belgian lace, throughout the head.
But this last week it seems I have found myself Looking beyond, or through, individual trees At the dense, clustered woodland just behind them, Where those great, nameless crowds patiently stand.
It's become a sort of complex, ultimate puzzle And keeps me fascinated.
My eyes are twenty-twenty, Or used to be, but of course I can't unravel The tousled snarl of intersecting limbs, That mackled, cinder grayness.
It's a riddle Beyond the eye's solution.
Impenetrable.
If there is order in all that anarchy Of granite mezzotint, that wilderness, It takes a better eye than mine to see it.
It set me on to wondering how to deal With such a thickness of particulars, Deal with it faithfully, you understand, Without blurring the issue.
Of course I know That within a month the sleeving snows will come With cold, selective emphases, with massings And arbitrary contrasts, rendering things Deceptively simple, thickening the twigs To frosty veins, bestowing epaulets And decorations on every birch and aspen.
And the eye, self-satisfied, will be misled, Thinking the puzzle solved, supposing at last It can look forth and comprehend the world.
That's when you have to really watch yourself.
So I hope that you won't think me plain ungrateful For not selecting one of your fine books, And I take it very kindly that you came And sat here and let me rattle on this way.
Written by Walt Whitman | Create an image from this poem

Carol of Words

 1
EARTH, round, rolling, compact—suns, moons, animals—all these are words to be
 said; 
Watery, vegetable, sauroid advances—beings, premonitions, lispings of the future, 
Behold! these are vast words to be said.
Were you thinking that those were the words—those upright lines? those curves, angles, dots? No, those are not the words—the substantial words are in the ground and sea, They are in the air—they are in you.
Were you thinking that those were the words—those delicious sounds out of your friends’ mouths? No, the real words are more delicious than they.
Human bodies are words, myriads of words; In the best poems re-appears the body, man’s or woman’s, well-shaped, natural, gay, Every part able, active, receptive, without shame or the need of shame.
2 Air, soil, water, fire—these are words; I myself am a word with them—my qualities interpenetrate with theirs—my name is nothing to them; Though it were told in the three thousand languages, what would air, soil, water, fire, know of my name? A healthy presence, a friendly or commanding gesture, are words, sayings, meanings; The charms that go with the mere looks of some men and women, are sayings and meanings also.
3 The workmanship of souls is by the inaudible words of the earth; The great masters know the earth’s words, and use them more than the audible words.
Amelioration is one of the earth’s words; The earth neither lags nor hastens; It has all attributes, growths, effects, latent in itself from the jump; It is not half beautiful only—defects and excrescences show just as much as perfections show.
The earth does not withhold, it is generous enough; The truths of the earth continually wait, they are not so conceal’d either; They are calm, subtle, untransmissible by print; They are imbued through all things, conveying themselves willingly, Conveying a sentiment and invitation of the earth—I utter and utter, I speak not, yet if you hear me not, of what avail am I to you? To bear—to better—lacking these, of what avail am I? 4 Accouche! Accouchez! Will you rot your own fruit in yourself there? Will you squat and stifle there? The earth does not argue, Is not pathetic, has no arrangements, Does not scream, haste, persuade, threaten, promise, Makes no discriminations, has no conceivable failures, Closes nothing, refuses nothing, shuts none out, Of all the powers, objects, states, it notifies, shuts none out.
5 The earth does not exhibit itself, nor refuse to exhibit itself—possesses still underneath; Underneath the ostensible sounds, the august chorus of heroes, the wail of slaves, Persuasions of lovers, curses, gasps of the dying, laughter of young people, accents of bargainers, Underneath these, possessing the words that never fail.
To her children, the words of the eloquent dumb great mother never fail; The true words do not fail, for motion does not fail, and reflection does not fail; Also the day and night do not fail, and the voyage we pursue does not fail.
6 Of the interminable sisters, Of the ceaseless cotillions of sisters, Of the centripetal and centrifugal sisters, the elder and younger sisters, The beautiful sister we know dances on with the rest.
With her ample back towards every beholder, With the fascinations of youth, and the equal fascinations of age, Sits she whom I too love like the rest—sits undisturb’d, Holding up in her hand what has the character of a mirror, while her eyes glance back from it, Glance as she sits, inviting none, denying none, Holding a mirror day and night tirelessly before her own face.
7 Seen at hand, or seen at a distance, Duly the twenty-four appear in public every day, Duly approach and pass with their companions, or a companion, Looking from no countenances of their own, but from the countenances of those who are with them, From the countenances of children or women, or the manly countenance, From the open countenances of animals, or from inanimate things, From the landscape or waters, or from the exquisite apparition of the sky, From our countenances, mine and yours, faithfully returning them, Every day in public appearing without fail, but never twice with the same companions.
8 Embracing man, embracing all, proceed the three hundred and sixty-five resistlessly round the sun; Embracing all, soothing, supporting, follow close three hundred and sixty-five offsets of the first, sure and necessary as they.
9 Tumbling on steadily, nothing dreading, Sunshine, storm, cold, heat, forever withstanding, passing, carrying, The Soul’s realization and determination still inheriting, The fluid vacuum around and ahead still entering and dividing, No balk retarding, no anchor anchoring, on no rock striking, Swift, glad, content, unbereav’d, nothing losing, Of all able and ready at any time to give strict account, The divine ship sails the divine sea.
10 Whoever you are! motion and reflection are especially for you; The divine ship sails the divine sea for you.
Whoever you are! you are he or she for whom the earth is solid and liquid, You are he or she for whom the sun and moon hang in the sky, For none more than you are the present and the past, For none more than you is immortality.
11 Each man to himself, and each woman to herself, such is the word of the past and present, and the word of immortality; No one can acquire for another—not one! Not one can grow for another—not one! The song is to the singer, and comes back most to him; The teaching is to the teacher, and comes back most to him; The murder is to the murderer, and comes back most to him; The theft is to the thief, and comes back most to him; The love is to the lover, and comes back most to him; The gift is to the giver, and comes back most to him—it cannot fail; The oration is to the orator, the acting is to the actor and actress, not to the audience; And no man understands any greatness or goodness but his own, or the indication of his own.
12 I swear the earth shall surely be complete to him or her who shall be complete! I swear the earth remains jagged and broken only to him or her who remains jagged and broken! I swear there is no greatness or power that does not emulate those of the earth! I swear there can be no theory of any account, unless it corroborate the theory of the earth! No politics, art, religion, behavior, or what not, is of account, unless it compare with the amplitude of the earth, Unless it face the exactness, vitality, impartiality, rectitude of the earth.
13 I swear I begin to see love with sweeter spasms than that which responds love! It is that which contains itself—which never invites, and never refuses.
I swear I begin to see little or nothing in audible words! I swear I think all merges toward the presentation of the unspoken meanings of the earth! Toward him who sings the songs of the Body, and of the truths of the earth; Toward him who makes the dictionaries of words that print cannot touch.
14 I swear I see what is better than to tell the best; It is always to leave the best untold.
When I undertake to tell the best, I find I cannot, My tongue is ineffectual on its pivots, My breath will not be obedient to its organs, I become a dumb man.
The best of the earth cannot be told anyhow—all or any is best; It is not what you anticipated—it is cheaper, easier, nearer; Things are not dismiss’d from the places they held before; The earth is just as positive and direct as it was before; Facts, religions, improvements, politics, trades, are as real as before; But the Soul is also real,—it too is positive and direct; No reasoning, no proof has establish’d it, Undeniable growth has establish’d it.
15 This is a poem—a carol of words—these are hints of meanings, These are to echo the tones of Souls, and the phrases of Souls; If they did not echo the phrases of Souls, what were they then? If they had not reference to you in especial, what were they then? I swear I will never henceforth have to do with the faith that tells the best! I will have to do only with that faith that leaves the best untold.
16 Say on, sayers! Delve! mould! pile the words of the earth! Work on—(it is materials you must bring, not breaths;) Work on, age after age! nothing is to be lost; It may have to wait long, but it will certainly come in use; When the materials are all prepared, the architects shall appear.
I swear to you the architects shall appear without fail! I announce them and lead them; I swear to you they will understand you, and justify you; I swear to you the greatest among them shall be he who best knows you, and encloses all, and is faithful to all; I swear to you, he and the rest shall not forget you—they shall perceive that you are not an iota less than they; I swear to you, you shall be glorified in them.
Written by Louisa May Alcott | Create an image from this poem

The Lay of a Golden Goose

 Long ago in a poultry yard 
One dull November morn, 
Beneath a motherly soft wing 
A little goose was born.
Who straightway peeped out of the shell To view the world beyond, Longing at once to sally forth And paddle in the pond.
"Oh! be not rash," her father said, A mild Socratic bird; Her mother begged her not to stray With many a warning word.
But little goosey was perverse, And eagerly did cry, "I've got a lovely pair of wings, Of course I ought to fly.
" In vain parental cacklings, In vain the cold sky's frown, Ambitious goosey tried to soar, But always tumbled down.
The farmyard jeered at her attempts, The peacocks screamed, "Oh fie! You're only a domestic goose, So don't pretend to fly.
" Great cock-a-doodle from his perch Crowed daily loud and clear, "Stay in the puddle, foolish bird, That is your proper sphere," The ducks and hens said, one and all, In gossip by the pool, "Our children never play such pranks; My dear, that fowl's a fool.
" The owls came out and flew about, Hooting above the rest, "No useful egg was ever hatched From transcendental nest.
" Good little goslings at their play And well-conducted chicks Were taught to think poor goosey's flights Were naughty, ill-bred tricks.
They were content to swim and scratch, And not at all inclined For any wild goose chase in search Of something undefined.
Hard times she had as one may guess, That young aspiring bird, Who still from every fall arose Saddened but undeterred.
She knew she was no nightingale Yet spite of much abuse, She longed to help and cheer the world, Although a plain gray goose She could not sing, she could not fly, Nor even walk, with grace, And all the farmyard had declared A puddle was her place.
But something stronger than herself Would cry, "Go on, go on! Remember, though an humble fowl, You're cousin to a swan.
" So up and down poor goosey went, A busy, hopeful bird.
Searched many wide unfruitful fields, And many waters stirred.
At length she came unto a stream Most fertile of all Niles, Where tuneful birds might soar and sing Among the leafy isles.
Here did she build a little nest Beside the waters still, Where the parental goose could rest Unvexed by any bill.
And here she paused to smooth her plumes, Ruffled by many plagues; When suddenly arose the cry, "This goose lays golden eggs.
" At once the farmyard was agog; The ducks began to quack; Prim Guinea fowls relenting called, "Come back, come back, come back.
" Great chanticleer was pleased to give A patronizing crow, And the contemptuous biddies clucked, "I wish my chicks did so.
" The peacocks spread their shining tails, And cried in accents soft, "We want to know you, gifted one, Come up and sit aloft.
" Wise owls awoke and gravely said, With proudly swelling breasts, "Rare birds have always been evoked From transcendental nests!" News-hunting turkeys from afar Now ran with all thin legs To gobble facts and fictions of The goose with golden eggs.
But best of all the little fowls Still playing on the shore, Soft downy chicks and goslings gay, Chirped out, "Dear Goose, lay more.
" But goosey all these weary years Had toiled like any ant, And wearied out she now replied "My little dears, I can't.
"When I was starving, half this corn Had been of vital use, Now I am surfeited with food Like any Strasbourg goose.
" So to escape too many friends, Without uncivil strife, She ran to the Atlantic pond And paddled for her life.
Soon up among the grand old Alps She found two blessed things, The health she had so nearly lost, And rest for weary limbs.
But still across the briny deep Couched in most friendly words, Came prayers for letters, tales, or verse From literary birds.
Whereat the renovated fowl With grateful thanks profuse, Took from her wing a quill and wrote This lay of a Golden Goose.
Written by Robert Burns | Create an image from this poem

112. A Dream

 GUID-MORNIN’ to our Majesty!
 May Heaven augment your blisses
On ev’ry new birth-day ye see,
 A humble poet wishes.
My bardship here, at your Levee On sic a day as this is, Is sure an uncouth sight to see, Amang thae birth-day dresses Sae fine this day.
I see ye’re complimented thrang, By mony a lord an’ lady; “God save the King” ’s a cuckoo sang That’s unco easy said aye: The poets, too, a venal gang, Wi’ rhymes weel-turn’d an’ ready, Wad gar you trow ye ne’er do wrang, But aye unerring steady, On sic a day.
For me! before a monarch’s face Ev’n there I winna flatter; For neither pension, post, nor place, Am I your humble debtor: So, nae reflection on your Grace, Your Kingship to bespatter; There’s mony waur been o’ the race, And aiblins ane been better Than you this day.
’Tis very true, my sovereign King, My skill may weel be doubted; But facts are chiels that winna ding, An’ downa be disputed: Your royal nest, beneath your wing, Is e’en right reft and clouted, And now the third part o’ the string, An’ less, will gang aboot it Than did ae day.
1 Far be’t frae me that I aspire To blame your legislation, Or say, ye wisdom want, or fire, To rule this mighty nation: But faith! I muckle doubt, my sire, Ye’ve trusted ministration To chaps wha in barn or byre Wad better fill’d their station Than courts yon day.
And now ye’ve gien auld Britain peace, Her broken shins to plaister, Your sair taxation does her fleece, Till she has scarce a tester: For me, thank God, my life’s a lease, Nae bargain wearin’ faster, Or, faith! I fear, that, wi’ the geese, I shortly boost to pasture I’ the craft some day.
I’m no mistrusting Willie Pitt, When taxes he enlarges, (An’ Will’s a true guid fallow’s get, A name not envy spairges), That he intends to pay your debt, An’ lessen a’ your charges; But, God-sake! let nae saving fit Abridge your bonie barges An’boats this day.
Adieu, my Liege; may freedom geck Beneath your high protection; An’ may ye rax Corruption’s neck, And gie her for dissection! But since I’m here, I’ll no neglect, In loyal, true affection, To pay your Queen, wi’ due respect, May fealty an’ subjection This great birth-day.
Hail, Majesty most Excellent! While nobles strive to please ye, Will ye accept a compliment, A simple poet gies ye? Thae bonie bairntime, Heav’n has lent, Still higher may they heeze ye In bliss, till fate some day is sent For ever to release ye Frae care that day.
For you, young Potentate o’Wales, I tell your highness fairly, Down Pleasure’s stream, wi’ swelling sails, I’m tauld ye’re driving rarely; But some day ye may gnaw your nails, An’ curse your folly sairly, That e’er ye brak Diana’s pales, Or rattl’d dice wi’ Charlie By night or day.
Yet aft a ragged cowt’s been known, To mak a noble aiver; So, ye may doucely fill the throne, For a’their clish-ma-claver: There, him 2 at Agincourt wha shone, Few better were or braver: And yet, wi’ funny, queer Sir John, 3 He was an unco shaver For mony a day.
For you, right rev’rend Osnaburg, Nane sets the lawn-sleeve sweeter, Altho’ a ribbon at your lug Wad been a dress completer: As ye disown yon paughty dog, That bears the keys of Peter, Then swith! an’ get a wife to hug, Or trowth, ye’ll stain the mitre Some luckless day! Young, royal Tarry-breeks, I learn, Ye’ve lately come athwart her— A glorious galley, 4 stem and stern, Weel rigg’d for Venus’ barter; But first hang out, that she’ll discern, Your hymeneal charter; Then heave aboard your grapple airn, An’ large upon her quarter, Come full that day.
Ye, lastly, bonie blossoms a’, Ye royal lasses dainty, Heav’n mak you guid as well as braw, An’ gie you lads a-plenty! But sneer na British boys awa! For kings are unco scant aye, An’ German gentles are but sma’, They’re better just than want aye On ony day.
Gad bless you a’! consider now, Ye’re unco muckle dautit; But ere the course o’ life be through, It may be bitter sautit: An’ I hae seen their coggie fou, That yet hae tarrow’t at it.
But or the day was done, I trow, The laggen they hae clautit Fu’ clean that day.
Note 1.
The American colonies had recently been lost.
[back] Note 2.
King Henry V.
—R.
B.
[back] Note 3.
Sir John Falstaff, vid.
Shakespeare.
—R.
B.
[back] Note 4.
Alluding to the newspaper account of a certain Royal sailor’s amour.
—R.
B.
This was Prince William Henry, third son of George III, afterward King William IV.
[back]
Written by Alan Seeger | Create an image from this poem

A Message to America

 You have the grit and the guts, I know; 
You are ready to answer blow for blow 
You are virile, combative, stubborn, hard, 
But your honor ends with your own back-yard; 
Each man intent on his private goal, 
You have no feeling for the whole; 
What singly none would tolerate 
You let unpunished hit the state, 
Unmindful that each man must share 
The stain he lets his country wear, 
And (what no traveller ignores) 
That her good name is often yours.
You are proud in the pride that feels its might; From your imaginary height Men of another race or hue Are men of a lesser breed to you: The neighbor at your southern gate You treat with the scorn that has bred his hate.
To lend a spice to your disrespect You call him the "greaser".
But reflect! The greaser has spat on you more than once; He has handed you multiple affronts; He has robbed you, banished you, burned and killed; He has gone untrounced for the blood he spilled; He has jeering used for his bootblack's rag The stars and stripes of the gringo's flag; And you, in the depths of your easy-chair -- What did you do, what did you care? Did you find the season too cold and damp To change the counter for the camp? Were you frightened by fevers in Mexico? I can't imagine, but this I know -- You are impassioned vastly more By the news of the daily baseball score Than to hear that a dozen countrymen Have perished somewhere in Darien, That greasers have taken their innocent lives And robbed their holdings and raped their wives.
Not by rough tongues and ready fists Can you hope to jilt in the modern lists.
The armies of a littler folk Shall pass you under the victor's yoke, Sobeit a nation that trains her sons To ride their horses and point their guns -- Sobeit a people that comprehends The limit where private pleasure ends And where their public dues begin, A people made strong by discipline Who are willing to give -- what you've no mind to -- And understand -- what you are blind to -- The things that the individual Must sacrifice for the good of all.
You have a leader who knows -- the man Most fit to be called American, A prophet that once in generations Is given to point to erring nations Brighter ideals toward which to press And lead them out of the wilderness.
Will you turn your back on him once again? Will you give the tiller once more to men Who have made your country the laughing-stock For the older peoples to scorn and mock, Who would make you servile, despised, and weak, A country that turns the other cheek, Who care not how bravely your flag may float, Who answer an insult with a note, Whose way is the easy way in all, And, seeing that polished arms appal Their marrow of milk-fed pacifist, Would tell you menace does not exist? Are these, in the world's great parliament, The men you would choose to represent Your honor, your manhood, and your pride, And the virtues your fathers dignified? Oh, bury them deeper than the sea In universal obloquy; Forget the ground where they lie, or write For epitaph: "Too proud to fight.
" I have been too long from my country's shores To reckon what state of mind is yours, But as for myself I know right well I would go through fire and shot and shell And face new perils and make my bed In new privations, if ROOSEVELT led; But I have given my heart and hand To serve, in serving another land, Ideals kept bright that with you are dim; Here men can thrill to their country's hymn, For the passion that wells in the Marseillaise Is the same that fires the French these days, And, when the flag that they love goes by, With swelling bosom and moistened eye They can look, for they know that it floats there still By the might of their hands and the strength of their will, And through perils countless and trials unknown Its honor each man has made his own.
They wanted the war no more than you, But they saw how the certain menace grew, And they gave two years of their youth or three The more to insure their liberty When the wrath of rifles and pennoned spears Should roll like a flood on their wrecked frontiers.
They wanted the war no more than you, But when the dreadful summons blew And the time to settle the quarrel came They sprang to their guns, each man was game; And mark if they fight not to the last For their hearths, their altars, and their past: Yea, fight till their veins have been bled dry For love of the country that WILL not die.
O friends, in your fortunate present ease (Yet faced by the self-same facts as these), If you would see how a race can soar That has no love, but no fear, of war, How each can turn from his private role That all may act as a perfect whole, How men can live up to the place they claim And a nation, jealous of its good name, Be true to its proud inheritance, Oh, look over here and learn from FRANCE!
Written by Robert William Service | Create an image from this poem

The Ballad Of The Ice-Worm Cocktail

 To Dawson Town came Percy Brown from London on the Thames.
A pane of glass was in his eye, and stockings on his stems.
Upon the shoulder of his coat a leather pad he wore, To rest his deadly rifle when it wasn't seeking gore; The which it must have often been, for Major Percy Brown, According to his story was a hunter of renown, Who in the Murrumbidgee wilds had stalked the kangaroo And killed the cassowary on the plains of Timbuctoo.
And now the Arctic fox he meant to follow to its lair, And it was also his intent to beard the Artic hare.
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Which facts concerning Major Brown I merely tell because I fain would have you know him for the Nimrod that he was.
Now Skipper Grey and Deacon White were sitting in the shack, And sampling of the whisky that pertained to Sheriff Black.
Said Skipper Grey: "I want to say a word about this Brown: The piker's sticking out his chest as if he owned the town.
" Said Sheriff Black: "he has no lack of frigorated cheek; He called himself a Sourdough when he'd just been here a week.
" Said Deacon White: "Methinks you're right, and so I have a plan By which I hope to prove to-night the mettle of the man.
Just meet me where the hooch-bird sings, and though our ways be rude We'll make a proper Sourdough of this Piccadilly dude.
" Within the Malamute Saloon were gathered all the gang; The fun was fast and furious, and the loud hooch-bird sang.
In fact the night's hilarity had almost reached its crown, When into its storm-centre breezed the gallant Major Brown.
And at the apparation, whith its glass eye and plus-fours, From fifty alcoholic throats responded fifty roars.
With shouts of stark amazement and with whoops of sheer delight, They surged around the stranger, but the first was Deacon White.
"We welcome you," he cried aloud, "to this the Great White Land.
The Artic Brotherhood is proud to grip you by the hand.
Yea, sportsman of the bull-dog breed, from trails of far away, To Yukoners this is indeed a memorable day.
Our jubilation to express, vocabularies fail.
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Boys, hail the Great Cheechako!" And the boys responded: "Hail!" "And now," continued Deacon White to blushing Major Brown, "Behold assembled the eelight and cream of Dawson Town, And one ambition fills their hearts and makes their bosoms glow - They want to make you, honoured sir, a bony feed Sourdough.
The same, some say, is one who's seen the Yukon ice go out, But most profound authorities the definition doubt, And to the genial notion of this meeting, Major Brown, A Sourdough is a guy who drinks .
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an ice-worm cocktail down.
" "By Gad!" responded Major Brown, "that's ripping, don't you know.
I've always felt I'd like to be a certified Sourdough.
And though I haven't any doubt your Winter's awf'ly nice, Mayfair, I fear, may miss me ere the break-up of your ice.
Yet (pray excuse my ignorance of matters such as these) A cocktail I can understand - but what's an ice-worm, please?" Said Deacon White: "It is not strange that you should fail to know, Since ice-worms are peculiar to the Mountain of Blue Snow.
Within the Polar rim it rears, a solitary peak, And in the smoke of early Spring (a spectacle unique) Like flame it leaps upon the sight and thrills you through and through, For though its cone is piercing white, its base is blazing blue.
Yet all is clear as you draw near - for coyley peering out Are hosts and hosts of tiny worms, each indigo of snout.
And as no nourishment they find, to keep themselves alive They masticate each other's tails, till just the Tough survive.
Yet on this stern and Spartan fare so-rapidly they grow, That some attain six inches by the melting of the snow.
Then when the tundra glows to green and nigger heads appear, They burrow down and are not seen until another year.
" "A toughish yarn," laughed Major Brown, "as well you may admit.
I'd like to see this little beast before I swallow it.
" "'Tis easy done," said Deacon White, "Ho! Barman, haste and bring Us forth some pickled ice-worms of the vintage of last Spring.
" But sadly still was Barman Bill, then sighed as one bereft: "There's been a run on cocktails, Boss; there ain't an ice-worm left.
Yet wait .
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By gosh! it seems to me that some of extra size Were picked and put away to show the scientific guys.
" Then deeply in a drawer he sought, and there he found a jar, The which with due and proper pride he put upon the bar; And in it, wreathed in queasy rings, or rolled into a ball, A score of grey and greasy things, were drowned in alcohol.
Their bellies were a bilious blue, their eyes a bulbous red; Their back were grey, and gross were they, and hideous of head.
And when with gusto and a fork the barman speared one out, It must have gone four inches from its tail-tip to its snout.
Cried Deacon White with deep delight: "Say, isn't that a beaut?" "I think it is," sniffed Major Brown, "a most disgustin' brute.
Its very sight gives me the pip.
I'll bet my bally hat, You're only spoofin' me, old chap.
You'll never swallow that.
" "The hell I won't!" said Deacon White.
"Hey! Bill, that fellows fine.
Fix up four ice-worm cocktails, and just put that wop in mine.
" So Barman Bill got busy, and with sacerdotal air His art's supreme achievement he proceeded to prepare.
His silver cups, like sickle moon, went waving to and fro, And four celestial cocktails soon were shining in a row.
And in the starry depths of each, artistically piled, A fat and juicy ice-worm raised its mottled mug and smiled.
Then closer pressed the peering crown, suspended was the fun, As Skipper Grey in courteous way said: "Stranger, please take one.
" But with a gesture of disgust the Major shook his head.
"You can't bluff me.
You'll never drink that gastly thing," he said.
"You'll see all right," said Deacon White, and held his cocktail high, Till its ice-worm seemed to wiggle, and to wink a wicked eye.
Then Skipper Grey and Sheriff Black each lifted up a glass, While through the tense and quiet crown a tremor seemed to pass.
"Drink, Stranger, drink," boomed Deacon White.
"proclaim you're of the best, A doughty Sourdough who has passed the Ice-worm Cocktail Test.
" And at these words, with all eyes fixed on gaping Major Brown, Like a libation to the gods, each dashed his cocktail down.
The Major gasped with horror as the trio smacked their lips.
He twiddled at his eye-glass with unsteady finger-tips.
Into his starry cocktail with a look of woe he peered, And its ice-worm, to his thinking, mosy incontinently leered.
Yet on him were a hundred eyes, though no one spoke aloud, For hushed with expectation was the waiting, watching crowd.
The Major's fumbling hand went forth - the gang prepared to cheer; The Major's falt'ring hand went back, the mob prepared to jeer, The Major gripped his gleaming glass and laid it to his lips, And as despairfully he took some nauseated sips, From out its coil of crapulence the ice-worm raised its head, Its muzzle was a murky blue, its eyes a ruby red.
And then a roughneck bellowed fourth: "This stiff comes here and struts, As if he bought the blasted North - jest let him show his guts.
" And with a roar the mob proclaimed: "Cheechako, Major Brown, Reveal that you're of Sourdough stuff, and drink your cocktail down.
" The Major took another look, then quickly closed his eyes, For even as he raised his glass he felt his gorge arise.
Aye, even though his sight was sealed, in fancy he could see That grey and greasy thing that reared and sneered in mockery.
Yet round him ringed the callous crowd - and how they seemed to gloat! It must be done .
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He swallowed hard .
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The brute was at his throat.
He choked.
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he gulped .
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Thank God! at last he'd got the horror down.
Then from the crowd went up a roar: "Hooray for Sourdough Brown!" With shouts they raised him shoulder high, and gave a rousing cheer, But though they praised him to the sky the Major did not hear.
Amid their demonstrative glee delight he seemed to lack; Indeed it almost seemed that he - was "keeping something back.
" A clammy sweat was on his brow, and pallid as a sheet: "I feel I must be going now," he'd plaintively repeat.
Aye, though with drinks and smokes galore, they tempted him to stay, With sudden bolt he gained the door, and made his get-away.
And ere next night his story was the talk of Dawson Town, But gone and reft of glory was the wrathful Major Brown; For that ice-worm (so they told him) of such formidable size Was - a stick of stained spaghetti with two red ink spots for eyes.
Written by John Ashbery | Create an image from this poem

Syringa

 Orpheus liked the glad personal quality
Of the things beneath the sky.
Of course, Eurydice was a part Of this.
Then one day, everything changed.
He rends Rocks into fissures with lament.
Gullies, hummocks Can't withstand it.
The sky shudders from one horizon To the other, almost ready to give up wholeness.
Then Apollo quietly told him: "Leave it all on earth.
Your lute, what point? Why pick at a dull pavan few care to Follow, except a few birds of dusty feather, Not vivid performances of the past.
" But why not? All other things must change too.
The seasons are no longer what they once were, But it is the nature of things to be seen only once, As they happen along, bumping into other things, getting along Somehow.
That's where Orpheus made his mistake.
Of course Eurydice vanished into the shade; She would have even if he hadn't turned around.
No use standing there like a gray stone toga as the whole wheel Of recorded history flashes past, struck dumb, unable to utter an intelligent Comment on the most thought-provoking element in its train.
Only love stays on the brain, and something these people, These other ones, call life.
Singing accurately So that the notes mount straight up out of the well of Dim noon and rival the tiny, sparkling yellow flowers Growing around the brink of the quarry, encapsulizes The different weights of the things.
But it isn't enough To just go on singing.
Orpheus realized this And didn't mind so much about his reward being in heaven After the Bacchantes had torn him apart, driven Half out of their minds by his music, what it was doing to them.
Some say it was for his treatment of Eurydice.
But probably the music had more to do with it, and The way music passes, emblematic Of life and how you cannot isolate a note of it And say it is good or bad.
You must Wait till it's over.
"The end crowns all," Meaning also that the "tableau" Is wrong.
For although memories, of a season, for example, Melt into a single snapshot, one cannot guard, treasure That stalled moment.
It too is flowing, fleeting; It is a picture of flowing, scenery, though living, mortal, Over which an abstract action is laid out in blunt, Harsh strokes.
And to ask more than this Is to become the tossing reeds of that slow, Powerful stream, the trailing grasses Playfully tugged at, but to participate in the action No more than this.
Then in the lowering gentian sky Electric twitches are faintly apparent first, then burst forth Into a shower of fixed, cream-colored flares.
The horses Have each seen a share of the truth, though each thinks, "I'm a maverick.
Nothing of this is happening to me, Though I can understand the language of birds, and The itinerary of the lights caught in the storm is fully apparent to me.
Their jousting ends in music much As trees move more easily in the wind after a summer storm And is happening in lacy shadows of shore-trees, now, day after day.
" But how late to be regretting all this, even Bearing in mind that regrets are always late, too late! To which Orpheus, a bluish cloud with white contours, Replies that these are of course not regrets at all, Merely a careful, scholarly setting down of Unquestioned facts, a record of pebbles along the way.
And no matter how all this disappeared, Or got where it was going, it is no longer Material for a poem.
Its subject Matters too much, and not enough, standing there helplessly While the poem streaked by, its tail afire, a bad Comet screaming hate and disaster, but so turned inward That the meaning, good or other, can never Become known.
The singer thinks Constructively, builds up his chant in progressive stages Like a skyscraper, but at the last minute turns away.
The song is engulfed in an instant in blackness Which must in turn flood the whole continent With blackness, for it cannot see.
The singer Must then pass out of sight, not even relieved Of the evil burthen of the words.
Stellification Is for the few, and comes about much later When all record of these people and their lives Has disappeared into libraries, onto microfilm.
A few are still interested in them.
"But what about So-and-so?" is still asked on occasion.
But they lie Frozen and out of touch until an arbitrary chorus Speaks of a totally different incident with a similar name In whose tale are hidden syllables Of what happened so long before that In some small town, one different summer.
Written by Margaret Atwood | Create an image from this poem

Provisions

 What should we have taken
with us? We never could decide
on that; or what to wear,
or at what time of
year we should make the journey

So here we are in thin
raincoats and rubber boots

On the disastrous ice, the wind rising

Nothing in our pockets

But a pencil stub, two oranges
Four Toronto streetcar tickets

and an elastic band holding a bundle
of small white filing cards
printed with important facts.
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