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Best Famous Hurt Poems

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

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12
Written by Rudyard Kipling | Create an image from this poem

If

If you can keep your head when all about you 
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you; 
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you, 
But make allowance for their doubting too: 
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting, 
Or, being lied about, don't deal in lies, 
Or being hated don't give way to hating, 
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise; 

If you can dream - and not make dreams your master; 
If you can think - and not make thoughts your aim, 
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster 
And treat those two impostors just the same:.
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools, Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken, And stoop and build'em up with worn-out tools; If you can make one heap of all your winnings And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss, And lose, and start again at your beginnings, And never breathe a word about your loss: If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew To serve your turn long after they are gone, And so hold on when there is nothing in you Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on!" If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue, Or walk with Kings - nor lose the common touch, If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you, If all men count with you, but none too much: If you can fill the unforgiving minute With sixty seconds' worth of distance run, Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it, And - which is more - you'll be a Man, my son!
Written by Charlotte Bronte | Create an image from this poem

The Wood

 BUT two miles more, and then we rest ! 
Well, there is still an hour of day, 
And long the brightness of the West 
Will light us on our devious way; 
Sit then, awhile, here in this wood­ 
So total is the solitude, 
We safely may delay.
These massive roots afford a seat, Which seems for weary travellers made.
There rest.
The air is soft and sweet In this sequestered forest glade, And there are scents of flowers around, The evening dew draws from the ground; How soothingly they spread ! Yes; I was tired, but not at heart; No­that beats full of sweet content, For now I have my natural part Of action with adventure blent; Cast forth on the wide vorld with thee, And all my once waste energy To weighty purpose bent.
Yet­say'st thou, spies around us roam, Our aims are termed conspiracy ? Haply, no more our English home An anchorage for us may be ? That there is risk our mutual blood May redden in some lonely wood The knife of treachery ? Say'st thou­that where we lodge each night, In each lone farm, or lonelier hall Of Norman Peer­ere morning light Suspicion must as duly fall, As day returns­such vigilance Presides and watches over France, Such rigour governs all ? I fear not, William; dost thou fear ? So that the knife does not divide, It may be ever hovering near: I could not tremble at thy side, And strenuous love­like mine for thee­ Is buckler strong, 'gainst treachery, And turns its stab aside.
I am resolved that thou shalt learn To trust my strength as I trust thine; I am resolved our souls shall burn, With equal, steady, mingling shine; Part of the field is conquered now, Our lives in the same channel flow, Along the self-same line; And while no groaning storm is heard, Thou seem'st content it should be so, But soon as comes a warning word Of danger­straight thine anxious brow Bends over me a mournful shade, As doubting if my powers are made To ford the floods of woe.
Know, then it is my spirit swells, And drinks, with eager joy, the air Of freedom­where at last it dwells, Chartered, a common task to share With thee, and then it stirs alert, And pants to learn what menaced hurt Demands for thee its care.
Remember, I have crossed the deep, And stood with thee on deck, to gaze On waves that rose in threatening heap, While stagnant lay a heavy haze, Dimly confusing sea with sky, And baffling, even, the pilot's eye, Intent to thread the maze­ Of rocks, on Bretagne's dangerous coast, And find a way to steer our band To the one point obscure, which lost, Flung us, as victims, on the strand;­ All, elsewhere, gleamed the Gallic sword, And not a wherry could be moored Along the guarded land.
I feared not then­I fear not now; The interest of each stirring scene Wakes a new sense, a welcome glow, In every nerve and bounding vein; Alike on turbid Channel sea, Or in still wood of Normandy, I feel as born again.
The rain descended that wild morn When, anchoring in the cove at last, Our band, all weary and forlorn, Ashore, like wave-worn sailors, cast­ Sought for a sheltering roof in vain, And scarce could scanty food obtain To break their morning fast.
Thou didst thy crust with me divide, Thou didst thy cloak around me fold; And, sitting silent by thy side, I ate the bread in peace untold: Given kindly from thy hand, 'twas sweet As costly fare or princely treat On royal plate of gold.
Sharp blew the sleet upon my face, And, rising wild, the gusty wind Drove on those thundering waves apace, Our crew so late had left behind; But, spite of frozen shower and storm, So close to thee, my heart beat warm, And tranquil slept my mind.
So now­nor foot-sore nor opprest With walking all this August day, I taste a heaven in this brief rest, This gipsy-halt beside the way.
England's wild flowers are fair to view, Like balm is England's summer dew, Like gold her sunset ray.
But the white violets, growing here, Are sweeter than I yet have seen, And ne'er did dew so pure and clear Distil on forest mosses green, As now, called forth by summer heat, Perfumes our cool and fresh retreat­ These fragrant limes between.
That sunset ! Look beneath the boughs, Over the copse­beyond the hills; How soft, yet deep and warm it glows, And heaven with rich suffusion fills; With hues where still the opal's tint, Its gleam of poisoned fire is blent, Where flame through azure thrills ! Depart we now­for fast will fade That solemn splendour of decline, And deep must be the after-shade As stars alone to-night will shine; No moon is destined­pale­to gaze On such a day's vast Phoenix blaze, A day in fires decayed ! There­hand-in-hand we tread again The mazes of this varying wood, And soon, amid a cultured plain, Girt in with fertile solitude, We shall our resting-place descry, Marked by one roof-tree, towering high Above a farm-stead rude.
Refreshed, erelong, with rustic fare, We'll seek a couch of dreamless ease; Courage will guard thy heart from fear, And Love give mine divinest peace: To-morrow brings more dangerous toil, And through its conflict and turmoil We'll pass, as God shall please.
Written by Antwone Fisher | Create an image from this poem

Who will cry for the little boy?

who will cry for the little boy?
Lost and all alone.
Who will cry for the little boy?
Abandoned without his own?

Who will cry for the little boy?
He cried himself to sleep.
Who will cry for the little boy?
He never had for keeps.

Who will cry for the little boy?
He walked the burning sand
Who will cry for the little boy?
The boy inside the man.

Who will cry for the little boy?
Who knows well hurt and pain
Who will cry for the little boy?
He died again and again.

Who will cry for the little boy?
A good boy he tried to be
Who will cry for the little boy?
Who cries inside of me
Written by Gwendolyn Brooks | Create an image from this poem

The Lovers of the Poor

 arrive.
The Ladies from the Ladies' Betterment League Arrive in the afternoon, the late light slanting In diluted gold bars across the boulevard brag Of proud, seamed faces with mercy and murder hinting Here, there, interrupting, all deep and debonair, The pink paint on the innocence of fear; Walk in a gingerly manner up the hall.
Cutting with knives served by their softest care, Served by their love, so barbarously fair.
Whose mothers taught: You'd better not be cruel! You had better not throw stones upon the wrens! Herein they kiss and coddle and assault Anew and dearly in the innocence With which they baffle nature.
Who are full, Sleek, tender-clad, fit, fiftyish, a-glow, all Sweetly abortive, hinting at fat fruit, Judge it high time that fiftyish fingers felt Beneath the lovelier planes of enterprise.
To resurrect.
To moisten with milky chill.
To be a random hitching post or plush.
To be, for wet eyes, random and handy hem.
Their guild is giving money to the poor.
The worthy poor.
The very very worthy And beautiful poor.
Perhaps just not too swarthy? Perhaps just not too dirty nor too dim Nor--passionate.
In truth, what they could wish Is--something less than derelict or dull.
Not staunch enough to stab, though, gaze for gaze! God shield them sharply from the beggar-bold! The noxious needy ones whose battle's bald Nonetheless for being voiceless, hits one down.
But it's all so bad! and entirely too much for them.
The stench; the urine, cabbage, and dead beans, Dead porridges of assorted dusty grains, The old smoke, heavy diapers, and, they're told, Something called chitterlings.
The darkness.
Drawn Darkness, or dirty light.
The soil that stirs.
The soil that looks the soil of centuries.
And for that matter the general oldness.
Old Wood.
Old marble.
Old tile.
Old old old.
Note homekind Oldness! Not Lake Forest, Glencoe.
Nothing is sturdy, nothing is majestic, There is no quiet drama, no rubbed glaze, no Unkillable infirmity of such A tasteful turn as lately they have left, Glencoe, Lake Forest, and to which their cars Must presently restore them.
When they're done With dullards and distortions of this fistic Patience of the poor and put-upon.
They've never seen such a make-do-ness as Newspaper rugs before! In this, this "flat," Their hostess is gathering up the oozed, the rich Rugs of the morning (tattered! the bespattered .
.
.
), Readies to spread clean rugs for afternoon.
Here is a scene for you.
The Ladies look, In horror, behind a substantial citizeness Whose trains clank out across her swollen heart.
Who, arms akimbo, almost fills a door.
All tumbling children, quilts dragged to the floor And tortured thereover, potato peelings, soft- Eyed kitten, hunched-up, haggard, to-be-hurt.
Their League is allotting largesse to the Lost.
But to put their clean, their pretty money, to put Their money collected from delicate rose-fingers Tipped with their hundred flawless rose-nails seems .
.
.
They own Spode, Lowestoft, candelabra, Mantels, and hostess gowns, and sunburst clocks, Turtle soup, Chippendale, red satin "hangings," Aubussons and Hattie Carnegie.
They Winter In Palm Beach; cross the Water in June; attend, When suitable, the nice Art Institute; Buy the right books in the best bindings; saunter On Michigan, Easter mornings, in sun or wind.
Oh Squalor! This sick four-story hulk, this fibre With fissures everywhere! Why, what are bringings Of loathe-love largesse? What shall peril hungers So old old, what shall flatter the desolate? Tin can, blocked fire escape and chitterling And swaggering seeking youth and the puzzled wreckage Of the middle passage, and urine and stale shames And, again, the porridges of the underslung And children children children.
Heavens! That Was a rat, surely, off there, in the shadows? Long And long-tailed? Gray? The Ladies from the Ladies' Betterment League agree it will be better To achieve the outer air that rights and steadies, To hie to a house that does not holler, to ring Bells elsetime, better presently to cater To no more Possibilities, to get Away.
Perhaps the money can be posted.
Perhaps they two may choose another Slum! Some serious sooty half-unhappy home!-- Where loathe-lover likelier may be invested.
Keeping their scented bodies in the center Of the hall as they walk down the hysterical hall, They allow their lovely skirts to graze no wall, Are off at what they manage of a canter, And, resuming all the clues of what they were, Try to avoid inhaling the laden air.
Written by Maya Angelou | Create an image from this poem

Men

When I was young, I used to
Watch behind the curtains
As men walked up and down the street.
Wino men, old men.
Young men sharp as mustard.
See them.
Men are always Going somewhere.
They knew I was there.
Fifteen Years old and starving for them.
Under my window, they would pauses, Their shoulders high like the Breasts of a young girl, Jacket tails slapping over Those behinds, Men.
One day they hold you in the Palms of their hands, gentle, as if you Were the last raw egg in the world.
Then They tighten up.
Just a little.
The First squeeze is nice.
A quick hug.
Soft into your defenselessness.
A little More.
The hurt begins.
Wrench out a Smile that slides around the fear.
When the Air disappears, Your mind pops, exploding fiercely, briefly, Like the head of a kitchen match.
Shattered.
It is your juice That runs down their legs.
Staining their shoes.
When the earth rights itself again, And taste tries to return to the tongue, Your body has slammed shut.
Forever.
No keys exist.
Then the window draws full upon Your mind.
There, just beyond The sway of curtains, men walk.
Knowing something.
Going someplace.
But this time, I will simply Stand and watch.
Maybe.
Written by Gwendolyn Brooks | Create an image from this poem

To Be In Love

 To be in love 
Is to touch with a lighter hand.
In yourself you stretch, you are well.
You look at things Through his eyes.
A cardinal is red.
A sky is blue.
Suddenly you know he knows too.
He is not there but You know you are tasting together The winter, or a light spring weather.
His hand to take your hand is overmuch.
Too much to bear.
You cannot look in his eyes Because your pulse must not say What must not be said.
When he Shuts a door- Is not there_ Your arms are water.
And you are free With a ghastly freedom.
You are the beautiful half Of a golden hurt.
You remember and covet his mouth To touch, to whisper on.
Oh when to declare Is certain Death! Oh when to apprize Is to mesmerize, To see fall down, the Column of Gold, Into the commonest ash.
Written by William Blake | Create an image from this poem

Auguries Of Innocence

 To see a world in a grain of sand
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand
And eternity in an hour.
A robin redbreast in a cage Puts all heaven in a rage.
A dove-house filled with doves and pigeons Shudders hell through all its regions.
A dog starved at his master's gate Predicts the ruin of the state.
A horse misused upon the road Calls to heaven for human blood.
Each outcry of the hunted hare A fibre from the brain does tear.
A skylark wounded in the wing, A cherubim does cease to sing.
The game-**** clipped and armed for fight Does the rising sun affright.
Every wolf's and lion's howl Raises from hell a human soul.
The wild deer wandering here and there Keeps the human soul from care.
The lamb misused breeds public strife, And yet forgives the butcher's knife.
The bat that flits at close of eve Has left the brain that won't believe.
The owl that calls upon the night Speaks the unbeliever's fright.
He who shall hurt the little wren Shall never be beloved by men.
He who the ox to wrath has moved Shall never be by woman loved.
The wanton boy that kills the fly Shall feel the spider's enmity.
He who torments the chafer's sprite Weaves a bower in endless night.
The caterpillar on the leaf Repeats to thee thy mother's grief.
Kill not the moth nor butterfly, For the Last Judgment draweth nigh.
He who shall train the horse to war Shall never pass the polar bar.
The beggar's dog and widow's cat, Feed them, and thou wilt grow fat.
The gnat that sings his summer's song Poison gets from Slander's tongue.
The poison of the snake and newt Is the sweat of Envy's foot.
The poison of the honey-bee Is the artist's jealousy.
The prince's robes and beggar's rags Are toadstools on the miser's bags.
A truth that's told with bad intent Beats all the lies you can invent.
It is right it should be so: Man was made for joy and woe; And when this we rightly know Through the world we safely go.
Joy and woe are woven fine, A clothing for the soul divine.
Under every grief and pine Runs a joy with silken twine.
The babe is more than swaddling bands, Throughout all these human lands; Tools were made and born were hands, Every farmer understands.
Every tear from every eye Becomes a babe in eternity; This is caught by females bright And returned to its own delight.
The bleat, the bark, bellow, and roar Are waves that beat on heaven's shore.
The babe that weeps the rod beneath Writes Revenge! in realms of death.
The beggar's rags fluttering in air Does to rags the heavens tear.
The soldier armed with sword and gun Palsied strikes the summer's sun.
The poor man's farthing is worth more Than all the gold on Afric's shore.
One mite wrung from the labourer's hands Shall buy and sell the miser's lands, Or if protected from on high Does that whole nation sell and buy.
He who mocks the infant's faith Shall be mocked in age and death.
He who shall teach the child to doubt The rotting grave shall ne'er get out.
He who respects the infant's faith Triumphs over hell and death.
The child's toys and the old man's reasons Are the fruits of the two seasons.
The questioner who sits so sly Shall never know how to reply.
He who replies to words of doubt Doth put the light of knowledge out.
The strongest poison ever known Came from Caesar's laurel crown.
Nought can deform the human race Like to the armour's iron brace.
When gold and gems adorn the plough To peaceful arts shall Envy bow.
A riddle or the cricket's cry Is to doubt a fit reply.
The emmet's inch and eagle's mile Make lame philosophy to smile.
He who doubts from what he sees Will ne'er believe, do what you please.
If the sun and moon should doubt, They'd immediately go out.
To be in a passion you good may do, But no good if a passion is in you.
The whore and gambler, by the state Licensed, build that nation's fate.
The harlot's cry from street to street Shall weave old England's winding sheet.
The winner's shout, the loser's curse, Dance before dead England's hearse.
Every night and every morn Some to misery are born.
Every morn and every night Some are born to sweet delight.
Some are born to sweet delight, Some are born to endless night.
We are led to believe a lie When we see not through the eye Which was born in a night to perish in a night, When the soul slept in beams of light.
God appears, and God is light To those poor souls who dwell in night, But does a human form display To those who dwell in realms of day.
Written by Sidney Lanier | Create an image from this poem

Night

 A pale enchanted moon is sinking low
Behind the dunes that fringe the shadowy lea, 
And there is haunted starlight on the flow
Of immemorial sea.
I am alone and need no more pretend Laughter or smile to hide a hungry heart; I walk with solitude as with a friend Enfolded and apart.
We tread an eerie road across the moor Where shadows weave upon their ghostly looms, And winds sing an old lyric that might lure Sad queens from ancient tombs.
I am a sister to the loveliness Of cool far hill and long-remembered shore, Finding in it a sweet forgetfulness Of all that hurt before.
The world of day, its bitterness and cark, No longer have the power to make me weep; I welcome this communion of the dark As toilers welcome sleep.
Written by Kahlil Gibran | Create an image from this poem

A Poets Voice XV

 Part One


The power of charity sows deep in my heart, and I reap and gather the wheat in bundles and give them to the hungry.
My soul gives life to the grapevine and I press its bunches and give the juice to the thirsty.
Heaven fills my lamp with oil and I place it at my window to direct the stranger through the dark.
I do all these things because I live in them; and if destiny should tie my hands and prevent me from so doing, then death would be my only desire.
For I am a poet, and if I cannot give, I shall refuse to receive.
Humanity rages like a tempest, but I sigh in silence for I know the storm must pass away while a sigh goes to God.
Human kinds cling to earthly things, but I seek ever to embrace the torch of love so it will purify me by its fire and sear inhumanity from my heart.
Substantial things deaden a man without suffering; love awakens him with enlivening pains.
Humans are divided into different clans and tribes, and belong to countries and towns.
But I find myself a stranger to all communities and belong to no settlement.
The universe is my country and the human family is my tribe.
Men are weak, and it is sad that they divide amongst themselves.
The world is narrow and it is unwise to cleave it into kingdoms, empires, and provinces.
Human kinds unite themselves one to destroy the temples of the soul, and they join hands to build edifices for earthly bodies.
I stand alone listening to the voice of hope in my deep self saying, "As love enlivens a man's heart with pain, so ignorance teaches him the way of knowledge.
" Pain and ignorance lead to great joy and knowledge because the Supreme Being has created nothing vain under the sun.
Part Two I have a yearning for my beautiful country, and I love its people because of their misery.
But if my people rose, stimulated by plunder and motivated by what they call "patriotic spirit" to murder, and invaded my neighbor's country, then upon the committing of any human atrocity I would hate my people and my country.
I sing the praise of my birthplace and long to see the home of my children; but if the people in that home refused to shelter and feed the needy wayfarer, I would convert my praise into anger and my longing to forgetfulness.
My inner voice would say, "The house that does not comfort the need is worthy of naught by destruction.
" I love my native village with some of my love for my country; and I love my country with part of my love for the earth, all of which is my country; and I love the earth will all of myself because it is the haven of humanity, the manifest spirit of God.
Humanity is the spirit of the Supreme Being on earth, and that humanity is standing amidst ruins, hiding its nakedness behind tattered rags, shedding tears upon hollow cheeks, and calling for its children with pitiful voice.
But the children are busy singing their clan's anthem; they are busy sharpening the swords and cannot hear the cry of their mothers.
Humanity appeals to its people but they listen not.
Were one to listen, and console a mother by wiping her tears, other would say, "He is weak, affected by sentiment.
" Humanity is the spirit of the Supreme Being on earth, and that Supreme Being preaches love and good-will.
But the people ridicule such teachings.
The Nazarene Jesus listened, and crucifixion was his lot; Socrates heard the voice and followed it, and he too fell victim in body.
The followers of The Nazarene and Socrates are the followers of Deity, and since people will not kill them, they deride them, saying, "Ridicule is more bitter than killing.
" Jerusalem could not kill The Nazarene, nor Athens Socrates; they are living yet and shall live eternally.
Ridicule cannot triumph over the followers of Deity.
They live and grow forever.
Part Three Thou art my brother because you are a human, and we both are sons of one Holy Spirit; we are equal and made of the same earth.
You are here as my companion along the path of life, and my aid in understanding the meaning of hidden Truth.
You are a human, and, that fact sufficing, I love you as a brother.
You may speak of me as you choose, for Tomorrow shall take you away and will use your talk as evidence for his judgment, and you shall receive justice.
You may deprive me of whatever I possess, for my greed instigated the amassing of wealth and you are entitled to my lot if it will satisfy you.
You may do unto me whatever you wish, but you shall not be able to touch my Truth.
You may shed my blood and burn my body, but you cannot kill or hurt my spirit.
You may tie my hands with chains and my feet with shackles, and put me in the dark prison, but who shall not enslave my thinking, for it is free, like the breeze in the spacious sky.
You are my brother and I love you.
I love you worshipping in your church, kneeling in your temple, and praying in your mosque.
You and I and all are children of one religion, for the varied paths of religion are but the fingers of the loving hand of the Supreme Being, extended to all, offering completeness of spirit to all, anxious to receive all.
I love you for your Truth, derived from your knowledge; that Truth which I cannot see because of my ignorance.
But I respect it as a divine thing, for it is the deed of the spirit.
Your Truth shall meet my Truth in the coming world and blend together like the fragrance of flowers and becoming one whole and eternal Truth, perpetuating and living in the eternity of Love and Beauty.
I love you because you are weak before the strong oppressor, and poor before the greedy rich.
For these reasons I shed tears and comfort you; and from behind my tears I see you embraced in the arms of Justice, smiling and forgiving your persecutors.
You are my brother and I love you.
Part Four You are my brother, but why are you quarreling with me? Why do you invade my country and try to subjugate me for the sake of pleasing those who are seeking glory and authority? Why do you leave your wife and children and follow Death to the distant land for the sake of those who buy glory with your blood, and high honor with your mother's tears? Is it an honor for a man to kill his brother man? If you deem it an honor, let it be an act of worship, and erect a temple to Cain who slew his brother Abel.
Is self-preservation the first law of Nature? Why, then, does Greed urge you to self-sacrifice in order only to achieve his aim in hurting your brothers? Beware, my brother, of the leader who says, "Love of existence obliges us to deprive the people of their rights!" I say unto you but this: protecting others' rights is the noblest and most beautiful human act; if my existence requires that I kill others, then death is more honorable to me, and if I cannot find someone to kill me for the protection of my honor, I will not hesitate to take my life by my own hands for the sake of Eternity before Eternity comes.
Selfishness, my brother, is the cause of blind superiority, and superiority creates clanship, and clanship creates authority which leads to discord and subjugation.
The soul believes in the power of knowledge and justice over dark ignorance; it denies the authority that supplies the swords to defend and strengthen ignorance and oppression - that authority which destroyed Babylon and shook the foundation of Jerusalem and left Rome in ruins.
It is that which made people call criminals great mean; made writers respect their names; made historians relate the stories of their inhumanity in manner of praise.
The only authority I obey is the knowledge of guarding and acquiescing in the Natural Law of Justice.
What justice does authority display when it kills the killer? When it imprisons the robber? When it descends on a neighborhood country and slays its people? What does justice think of the authority under which a killer punishes the one who kills, and a thief sentences the one who steals? You are my brother, and I love you; and Love is justice with its full intensity and dignity.
If justice did not support my love for you, regardless of your tribe and community, I would be a deceiver concealing the ugliness of selfishness behind the outer garment of pure love.
Conclusion My soul is my friend who consoles me in misery and distress of life.
He who does not befriend his soul is an enemy of humanity, and he who does not find human guidance within himself will perish desperately.
Life emerges from within, and derives not from environs.
I came to say a word and I shall say it now.
But if death prevents its uttering, it will be said tomorrow, for tomorrow never leaves a secret in the book of eternity.
I came to live in the glory of love and the light of beauty, which are the reflections of God.
I am here living, and the people are unable to exile me from the domain of life for they know I will live in death.
If they pluck my eyes I will hearken to the murmers of love and the songs of beauty.
If they close my ears I will enjoy the touch of the breeze mixed with the incebse of love and the fragrance of beauty.
If they place me in a vacuum, I will live together with my soul, the child of love and beauty.
I came here to be for all and with all, and what I do today in my solitude will be echoed by tomorrow to the people.
What I say now with one heart will be said tomorrow by many hearts
Written by Anne Sexton | Create an image from this poem

The Double Image

 1.
I am thirty this November.
You are still small, in your fourth year.
We stand watching the yellow leaves go *****, flapping in the winter rain.
falling flat and washed.
And I remember mostly the three autumns you did not live here.
They said I'd never get you back again.
I tell you what you'll never really know: all the medical hypothesis that explained my brain will never be as true as these struck leaves letting go.
I, who chose two times to kill myself, had said your nickname the mewling mouths when you first came; until a fever rattled in your throat and I moved like a pantomine above your head.
Ugly angels spoke to me.
The blame, I heard them say, was mine.
They tattled like green witches in my head, letting doom leak like a broken faucet; as if doom had flooded my belly and filled your bassinet, an old debt I must assume.
Death was simpler than I'd thought.
The day life made you well and whole I let the witches take away my guilty soul.
I pretended I was dead until the white men pumped the poison out, putting me armless and washed through the rigamarole of talking boxes and the electric bed.
I laughed to see the private iron in that hotel.
Today the yellow leaves go *****.
You ask me where they go I say today believed in itself, or else it fell.
Today, my small child, Joyce, love your self's self where it lives.
There is no special God to refer to; or if there is, why did I let you grow in another place.
You did not know my voice when I came back to call.
All the superlatives of tomorrow's white tree and mistletoe will not help you know the holidays you had to miss.
The time I did not love myself, I visited your shoveled walks; you held my glove.
There was new snow after this.
2.
They sent me letters with news of you and I made moccasins that I would never use.
When I grew well enough to tolerate myself, I lived with my mother, the witches said.
But I didn't leave.
I had my portrait done instead.
Part way back from Bedlam I came to my mother's house in Gloucester, Massachusetts.
And this is how I came to catch at her; and this is how I lost her.
I cannot forgive your suicide, my mother said.
And she never could.
She had my portrait done instead.
I lived like an angry guest, like a partly mended thing, an outgrown child.
I remember my mother did her best.
She took me to Boston and had my hair restyled.
Your smile is like your mother's, the artist said.
I didn't seem to care.
I had my portrait done instead.
There was a church where I grew up with its white cupboards where they locked us up, row by row, like puritans or shipmates singing together.
My father passed the plate.
Too late to be forgiven now, the witches said.
I wasn't exactly forgiven.
They had my portrait done instead.
3.
All that summer sprinklers arched over the seaside grass.
We talked of drought while the salt-parched field grew sweet again.
To help time pass I tried to mow the lawn and in the morning I had my portrait done, holding my smile in place, till it grew formal.
Once I mailed you a picture of a rabbit and a postcard of Motif number one, as if it were normal to be a mother and be gone.
They hung my portrait in the chill north light, matching me to keep me well.
Only my mother grew ill.
She turned from me, as if death were catching, as if death transferred, as if my dying had eaten inside of her.
That August you were two, by I timed my days with doubt.
On the first of September she looked at me and said I gave her cancer.
They carved her sweet hills out and still I couldn't answer.
4.
That winter she came part way back from her sterile suite of doctors, the seasick cruise of the X-ray, the cells' arithmetic gone wild.
Surgery incomplete, the fat arm, the prognosis poor, I heard them say.
During the sea blizzards she had here own portrait painted.
A cave of mirror placed on the south wall; matching smile, matching contour.
And you resembled me; unacquainted with my face, you wore it.
But you were mine after all.
I wintered in Boston, childless bride, nothing sweet to spare with witches at my side.
I missed your babyhood, tried a second suicide, tried the sealed hotel a second year.
On April Fool you fooled me.
We laughed and this was good.
5.
I checked out for the last time on the first of May; graduate of the mental cases, with my analysts's okay, my complete book of rhymes, my typewriter and my suitcases.
All that summer I learned life back into my own seven rooms, visited the swan boats, the market, answered the phone, served cocktails as a wife should, made love among my petticoats and August tan.
And you came each weekend.
But I lie.
You seldom came.
I just pretended you, small piglet, butterfly girl with jelly bean cheeks, disobedient three, my splendid stranger.
And I had to learn why I would rather die than love, how your innocence would hurt and how I gather guilt like a young intern his symptons, his certain evidence.
That October day we went to Gloucester the red hills reminded me of the dry red fur fox coat I played in as a child; stock still like a bear or a tent, like a great cave laughing or a red fur fox.
We drove past the hatchery, the hut that sells bait, past Pigeon Cove, past the Yacht Club, past Squall's Hill, to the house that waits still, on the top of the sea, and two portraits hung on the opposite walls.
6.
In north light, my smile is held in place, the shadow marks my bone.
What could I have been dreaming as I sat there, all of me waiting in the eyes, the zone of the smile, the young face, the foxes' snare.
In south light, her smile is held in place, her cheeks wilting like a dry orchid; my mocking mirror, my overthrown love, my first image.
She eyes me from that face that stony head of death I had outgrown.
The artist caught us at the turning; we smiled in our canvas home before we chose our foreknown separate ways.
The dry redfur fox coat was made for burning.
I rot on the wall, my own Dorian Gray.
And this was the cave of the mirror, that double woman who stares at herself, as if she were petrified in time -- two ladies sitting in umber chairs.
You kissed your grandmother and she cried.
7.
I could not get you back except for weekends.
You came each time, clutching the picture of a rabbit that I had sent you.
For the last time I unpack your things.
We touch from habit.
The first visit you asked my name.
Now you will stay for good.
I will forget how we bumped away from each other like marionettes on strings.
It wasn't the same as love, letting weekends contain us.
You scrape your knee.
You learn my name, wobbling up the sidewalk, calling and crying.
You can call me mother and I remember my mother again, somewhere in greater Boston, dying.
I remember we named you Joyce so we could call you Joy.
You came like an awkward guest that first time, all wrapped and moist and strange at my heavy breast.
I needed you.
I didn't want a boy, only a girl, a small milky mouse of a girl, already loved, already loud in the house of herself.
We named you Joy.
I, who was never quite sure about being a girl, needed another life, another image to remind me.
And this was my worst guilt; you could not cure or soothe it.
I made you to find me.
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