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Best Famous Nakedness Poems

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Written by George (Lord) Byron | Create an image from this poem

The Dream

 I

Our life is twofold; Sleep hath its own world,
A boundary between the things misnamed
Death and existence: Sleep hath its own world,
And a wide realm of wild reality,
And dreams in their development have breath,
And tears, and tortures, and the touch of joy;
They leave a weight upon our waking thoughts,
They take a weight from off waking toils,
They do divide our being; they become
A portion of ourselves as of our time,
And look like heralds of eternity;
They pass like spirits of the past—they speak
Like sibyls of the future; they have power— 
The tyranny of pleasure and of pain;
They make us what we were not—what they will,
And shake us with the vision that's gone by,
The dread of vanished shadows—Are they so?
Is not the past all shadow?—What are they?
Creations of the mind?—The mind can make
Substances, and people planets of its own
With beings brighter than have been, and give
A breath to forms which can outlive all flesh.
I would recall a vision which I dreamed Perchance in sleep—for in itself a thought, A slumbering thought, is capable of years, And curdles a long life into one hour.
II I saw two beings in the hues of youth Standing upon a hill, a gentle hill, Green and of mild declivity, the last As 'twere the cape of a long ridge of such, Save that there was no sea to lave its base, But a most living landscape, and the wave Of woods and corn-fields, and the abodes of men Scattered at intervals, and wreathing smoke Arising from such rustic roofs: the hill Was crowned with a peculiar diadem Of trees, in circular array, so fixed, Not by the sport of nature, but of man: These two, a maiden and a youth, were there Gazing—the one on all that was beneath Fair as herself—but the boy gazed on her; And both were young, and one was beautiful: And both were young—yet not alike in youth.
As the sweet moon on the horizon's verge, The maid was on the eve of womanhood; The boy had fewer summers, but his heart Had far outgrown his years, and to his eye There was but one beloved face on earth, And that was shining on him; he had looked Upon it till it could not pass away; He had no breath, no being, but in hers: She was his voice; he did not speak to her, But trembled on her words; she was his sight, For his eye followed hers, and saw with hers, Which coloured all his objects;—he had ceased To live within himself: she was his life, The ocean to the river of his thoughts, Which terminated all; upon a tone, A touch of hers, his blood would ebb and flow, And his cheek change tempestuously—his heart Unknowing of its cause of agony.
But she in these fond feelings had no share: Her sighs were not for him; to her he was Even as a brother—but no more; 'twas much, For brotherless she was, save in the name Her infant friendship had bestowed on him; Herself the solitary scion left Of a time-honoured race.
—It was a name Which pleased him, and yet pleased him not—and why? Time taught him a deep answer—when she loved Another; even now she loved another, And on the summit of that hill she stood Looking afar if yet her lover's steed Kept pace with her expectancy, and flew.
III A change came o'er the spirit of my dream.
There was an ancient mansion, and before Its walls there was a steed caparisoned: Within an antique Oratory stood The Boy of whom I spake;—he was alone, And pale, and pacing to and fro: anon He sate him down, and seized a pen, and traced Words which I could not guess of; then he leaned His bowed head on his hands and shook, as 'twere With a convulsion—then rose again, And with his teeth and quivering hands did tear What he had written, but he shed no tears.
And he did calm himself, and fix his brow Into a kind of quiet: as he paused, The Lady of his love re-entered there; She was serene and smiling then, and yet She knew she was by him beloved; she knew— For quickly comes such knowledge—that his heart Was darkened with her shadow, and she saw That he was wretched, but she saw not all.
He rose, and with a cold and gentle grasp He took her hand; a moment o'er his face A tablet of unutterable thoughts Was traced, and then it faded, as it came; He dropped the hand he held, and with slow steps Retired, but not as bidding her adieu, For they did part with mutual smiles; he passed From out the massy gate of that old Hall, And mounting on his steed he went his way; And ne'er repassed that hoary threshold more.
IV A change came o'er the spirit of my dream.
The Boy was sprung to manhood: in the wilds Of fiery climes he made himself a home, And his Soul drank their sunbeams; he was girt With strange and dusky aspects; he was not Himself like what he had been; on the sea And on the shore he was a wanderer; There was a mass of many images Crowded like waves upon me, but he was A part of all; and in the last he lay Reposing from the noontide sultriness, Couched among fallen columns, in the shade Of ruined walls that had survived the names Of those who reared them; by his sleeping side Stood camels grazing, and some goodly steeds Were fastened near a fountain; and a man, Glad in a flowing garb, did watch the while, While many of his tribe slumbered around: And they were canopied by the blue sky, So cloudless, clear, and purely beautiful, That God alone was to be seen in heaven.
V A change came o'er the spirit of my dream.
The Lady of his love was wed with One Who did not love her better: in her home, A thousand leagues from his,—her native home, She dwelt, begirt with growing Infancy, Daughters and sons of Beauty,—but behold! Upon her face there was a tint of grief, The settled shadow of an inward strife, And an unquiet drooping of the eye, As if its lid were charged with unshed tears.
What could her grief be?—she had all she loved, And he who had so loved her was not there To trouble with bad hopes, or evil wish, Or ill-repressed affliction, her pure thoughts.
What could her grief be?—she had loved him not, Nor given him cause to deem himself beloved, Nor could he be a part of that which preyed Upon her mind—a spectre of the past.
VI A change came o'er the spirit of my dream.
The Wanderer was returned.
—I saw him stand Before an altar—with a gentle bride; Her face was fair, but was not that which made The Starlight of his Boyhood;—as he stood Even at the altar, o'er his brow there came The selfsame aspect and the quivering shock That in the antique Oratory shook His bosom in its solitude; and then— As in that hour—a moment o'er his face The tablet of unutterable thoughts Was traced—and then it faded as it came, And he stood calm and quiet, and he spoke The fitting vows, but heard not his own words, And all things reeled around him; he could see Not that which was, nor that which should have been— But the old mansion, and the accustomed hall, And the remembered chambers, and the place, The day, the hour, the sunshine, and the shade, All things pertaining to that place and hour, And her who was his destiny, came back And thrust themselves between him and the light; What business had they there at such a time? VII A change came o'er the spirit of my dream.
The Lady of his love;—Oh! she was changed, As by the sickness of the soul; her mind Had wandered from its dwelling, and her eyes, They had not their own lustre, but the look Which is not of the earth; she was become The queen of a fantastic realm; her thoughts Were combinations of disjointed things; And forms impalpable and unperceived Of others' sight familiar were to hers.
And this the world calls frenzy; but the wise Have a far deeper madness, and the glance Of melancholy is a fearful gift; What is it but the telescope of truth? Which strips the distance of its fantasies, And brings life near in utter nakedness, Making the cold reality too real! VIII A change came o'er the spirit of my dream.
The Wanderer was alone as heretofore, The beings which surrounded him were gone, Or were at war with him; he was a mark For blight and desolation, compassed round With Hatred and Contention; Pain was mixed In all which was served up to him, until, Like to the Pontic monarch of old days, He fed on poisons, and they had no power, But were a kind of nutriment; he lived Through that which had been death to many men, And made him friends of mountains; with the stars And the quick Spirit of the Universe He held his dialogues: and they did teach To him the magic of their mysteries; To him the book of Night was opened wide, And voices from the deep abyss revealed A marvel and a secret.
—Be it so.
IX My dream is past; it had no further change.
It was of a strange order, that the doom Of these two creatures should be thus traced out Almost like a reality—the one To end in madness—both in misery.


Written by William Cullen Bryant | Create an image from this poem

November

 The landscape sleeps in mist from morn till noon;
And, if the sun looks through, 'tis with a face
Beamless and pale and round, as if the moon,
When done the journey of her nightly race,
Had found him sleeping, and supplied his place.
For days the shepherds in the fields may be, Nor mark a patch of sky— blindfold they trace, The plains, that seem without a bush or tree, Whistling aloud by guess, to flocks they cannot see.
The timid hare seems half its fears to lose, Crouching and sleeping 'neath its grassy lair, And scarcely startles, tho' the shepherd goes Close by its home, and dogs are barking there; The wild colt only turns around to stare At passer by, then knaps his hide again; And moody crows beside the road forbear To fly, tho' pelted by the passing swain; Thus day seems turn'd to night, and tries to wake in vain.
The owlet leaves her hiding-place at noon, And flaps her grey wings in the doubling light; The hoarse jay screams to see her out so soon, And small birds chirp and startle with affright; Much doth it scare the superstitious wight, Who dreams of sorry luck, and sore dismay; While cow-boys think the day a dream of night, And oft grow fearful on their lonely way, Fancying that ghosts may wake, and leave their graves by day.
Yet but awhile the slumbering weather flings Its murky prison round— then winds wake loud; With sudden stir the startled forest sings Winter's returning song— cloud races cloud, And the horizon throws away its shroud, Sweeping a stretching circle from the eye; Storms upon storms in quick succession crowd, And o'er the sameness of the purple sky Heaven paints, with hurried hand, wild hues of every dye.
At length it comes along the forest oaks, With sobbing ebbs, and uproar gathering high; The scared, hoarse raven on its cradle croaks, And stockdove-flocks in hurried terrors fly, While the blue hawk hangs o'er them in the sky.
— The hedger hastens from the storm begun, To seek a shelter that may keep him dry; And foresters low bent, the wind to shun, Scarce hear amid the strife the poacher's muttering gun.
The ploughman hears its humming rage begin, And hies for shelter from his naked toil; Buttoning his doublet closer to his chin, He bends and scampers o'er the elting soil, While clouds above him in wild fury boil, And winds drive heavily the beating rain; He turns his back to catch his breath awhile, Then ekes his speed and faces it again, To seek the shepherd's hut beside the rushy plain.
The boy, that scareth from the spiry wheat The melancholy crow—in hurry weaves, Beneath an ivied tree, his sheltering seat, Of rushy flags and sedges tied in sheaves, Or from the field a shock of stubble thieves.
There he doth dithering sit, and entertain His eyes with marking the storm-driven leaves; Oft spying nests where he spring eggs had ta'en, And wishing in his heart 'twas summer-time again.
Thus wears the month along, in checker'd moods, Sunshine and shadows, tempests loud, and calms; One hour dies silent o'er the sleepy woods, The next wakes loud with unexpected storms; A dreary nakedness the field deforms— Yet many a rural sound, and rural sight, Lives in the village still about the farms, Where toil's rude uproar hums from morn till night Noises, in which the ears of Industry delight.
At length the stir of rural labour's still, And Industry her care awhile forgoes; When Winter comes in earnest to fulfil His yearly task, at bleak November's close, And stops the plough, and hides the field in snows; When frost locks up the stream in chill delay, And mellows on the hedge the jetty sloes, For little birds—then Toil hath time for play, And nought but threshers' flails awake the dreary day.
Written by Obi Nwakanma | Create an image from this poem

The Four Seasons

I
ICICLES fall from trees, molten with age, 
without memory - they stand aloof in their 
nakedness - they limber; 
like the gods terrified into silence, 
like tall brooding deities looming out of the 
fog: 

The forest hugs them 
carves them into stones, 
Etches them into the slow 
eastern landscape: rivers, hills 
the slow running water, 
times broken inscapes…

The willows are burdened with ice 
the white shrouds of burial spread 
upon the earth's ravaged face; the eyes 
unseeing, the mouth unspeaking, 
a gust of wind proclaims the anger of 
immemorial ages; the cycle, the 
eternal ritual of mystical returns - 

The cypress - whitening -
boneless; wearing her best habit, 
a pale green in the forest of ghosts -

And so I walk through this windless night 
through the narrow imponderable road 
through the silence - the silence of trees -

I hear not even the gust of wind
I hear only the quiet earth, thawing underneath; 
I hear the slow silent death of winter -

where the sun is yellowest.
But above, Monadnock looms like some angry Moloch, her white nipple seizing the space drained of all milk.
.
.
A she-devil beckoning to worshippers seductive - her arm stretching outwards - to this lonely pilgrim lost in the mist: Behold the school of wild bucks Behold the meeting of incarnate spirits - Behold the lost souls bearing tapers in rags of rich damask, Down Thomas - the saint of unbelievers - down the road to bliss Down to the red house, uncertain like a beggar's bowl hanging unto the cliff of withdrawn pledges, where the well is deepest.
.
.
I have dared to live beneath the great untamed.
To every good, to every flicker of stars along the pine shadows; To every tussle with lucid dusk, To every moonlit pledge, to every turn made to outleap silvery pollen, I have desired to listen - to listen - to the ripening of seasons.
.
.
.
Winter 2001 This is ONE of a continuing sequence.
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 Charles Simic | Create an image from this poem

White

 A New Version: 1980

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


One

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.
S.
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 Sylvia Plath | Create an image from this poem

Morning Song

Love set you going like a fat gold watch.
The midwife slapped your footsoles, and your bald cry Took its place among the elements.
Our voices echo, magnifying your arrival.
New statue.
In a drafty museum, your nakedness Shadows our safety.
We stand round blankly as walls.
I'm no more your mother Than the cloud that distills a mirror to reflect its own slow Effacement at the wind's hand.
All night your moth-breath Flickers among the flat pink roses.
I wake to listen: A far sea moves in my ear.
One cry, and I stumble from bed, cow-heavy and floral In my Victorian nightgown.
Your mouth opens clean as a cat's.
The window square Whitens and swallows its dull stars.
And now you try Your handful of notes; The clear vowels rise like balloons.
(1961)
Written by Countee Cullen | Create an image from this poem

Heritage

 What is Africa to me:
Copper sun or scarlet sea,
Jungle star or jungle track,
Strong bronzed men, or regal black
Women from whose loins I sprang
When the birds of Eden sang?
One three centuries removed
From the scenes his fathers loved,
Spicy grove, cinnamon tree,
What is Africa to me?

So I lie, who all day long
Want no sound except the song
Sung by wild barbaric birds
Goading massive jungle herds,
Juggernauts of flesh that pass
Trampling tall defiant grass
Where young forest lovers lie,
Plighting troth beneath the sky.
So I lie, who always hear, Though I cram against my ear Both my thumbs, and keep them there, Great drums throbbing through the air.
So I lie, whose fount of pride, Dear distress, and joy allied, Is my somber flesh and skin, With the dark blood dammed within Like great pulsing tides of wine That, I fear, must burst the fine Channels of the chafing net Where they surge and foam and fret.
Africa?A book one thumbs Listlessly, till slumber comes.
Unremembered are her bats Circling through the night, her cats Crouching in the river reeds, Stalking gentle flesh that feeds By the river brink; no more Does the bugle-throated roar Cry that monarch claws have leapt From the scabbards where they slept.
Silver snakes that once a year Doff the lovely coats you wear, Seek no covert in your fear Lest a mortal eye should see; What's your nakedness to me? Here no leprous flowers rear Fierce corollas in the air; Here no bodies sleek and wet, Dripping mingled rain and sweat, Tread the savage measures of Jungle boys and girls in love.
What is last year's snow to me, Last year's anything?The tree Budding yearly must forget How its past arose or set­­ Bough and blossom, flower, fruit, Even what shy bird with mute Wonder at her travail there, Meekly labored in its hair.
One three centuries removed From the scenes his fathers loved, Spicy grove, cinnamon tree, What is Africa to me? So I lie, who find no peace Night or day, no slight release From the unremittent beat Made by cruel padded feet Walking through my body's street.
Up and down they go, and back, Treading out a jungle track.
So I lie, who never quite Safely sleep from rain at night-- I can never rest at all When the rain begins to fall; Like a soul gone mad with pain I must match its weird refrain; Ever must I twist and squirm, Writhing like a baited worm, While its primal measures drip Through my body, crying, "Strip! Doff this new exuberance.
Come and dance the Lover's Dance!" In an old remembered way Rain works on me night and day.
Quaint, outlandish heathen gods Black men fashion out of rods, Clay, and brittle bits of stone, In a likeness like their own, My conversion came high-priced; I belong to Jesus Christ, Preacher of humility; Heathen gods are naught to me.
Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, So I make an idle boast; Jesus of the twice-turned cheek, Lamb of God, although I speak With my mouth thus, in my heart Do I play a double part.
Ever at Thy glowing altar Must my heart grow sick and falter, Wishing He I served were black, Thinking then it would not lack Precedent of pain to guide it, Let who would or might deride it; Surely then this flesh would know Yours had borne a kindred woe.
Lord, I fashion dark gods, too, Daring even to give You Dark despairing features where, Crowned with dark rebellious hair, Patience wavers just so much as Mortal grief compels, while touches Quick and hot, of anger, rise To smitten cheek and weary eyes.
Lord, forgive me if my need Sometimes shapes a human creed.
All day long and all night through, One thing only must I do: Quench my pride and cool my blood, Lest I perish in the flood.
Lest a hidden ember set Timber that I thought was wet Burning like the dryest flax, Melting like the merest wax, Lest the grave restore its dead.
Not yet has my heart or head In the least way realized They and I are civilized.


Written by Edwin Arlington Robinson | Create an image from this poem

Late Summer

 (ALCAICS)


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

The Dream Of Wearing Shorts Forever

 To go home and wear shorts forever
in the enormous paddocks, in that warm climate,
adding a sweater when winter soaks the grass, 

to camp out along the river bends
for good, wearing shorts, with a pocketknife,
a fishing line and matches, 

or there where the hills are all down, below the plain,
to sit around in shorts at evening
on the plank verandah - 

If the cardinal points of costume
are Robes, Tat, Rig and Scunge,
where are shorts in this compass? 

They are never Robes
as other bareleg outfits have been:
the toga, the kilt, the lava-lava
the Mahatma's cotton dhoti; 

archbishops and field marshals
at their ceremonies never wear shorts.
The very word means underpants in North America.
Shorts can be Tat, Land-Rovering bush-environmental tat, socio-political ripped-and-metal-stapled tat, solidarity-with-the-Third World tat tvam asi, likewise track-and-field shorts worn to parties and the further humid, modelling negligee of the Kingdom of Flaunt, that unchallenged aristocracy.
More plainly climatic, shorts are farmers' rig, leathery with salt and bonemeal; are sailors' and branch bankers' rig, the crisp golfing style of our youngest male National Costume.
Most loosely, they are Scunge, ancient Bengal bloomers or moth-eaten hot pants worn with a former shirt, feet, beach sand, hair and a paucity of signals.
Scunge, which is real negligee housework in a swimsuit, pyjamas worn all day, is holiday, is freedom from ambition.
Scunge makes you invisible to the world and yourself.
The entropy of costume, scunge can get you conquered by more vigorous cultures and help you notice it less.
To be or to become is a serious question posed by a work-shorts counter with its pressed stack, bulk khaki and blue, reading Yakka or King Gee, crisp with steely warehouse odour.
Satisfied ambition, defeat, true unconcern, the wish and the knack of self-forgetfulness all fall within the scunge ambit wearing board shorts of similar; it is a kind of weightlessness.
Unlike public nakedness, which in Westerners is deeply circumstantial, relaxed as exam time, artless and equal as the corsetry of a hussar regiment, shorts and their plain like are an angelic nudity, spirituality with pockets! A double updraft as you drop from branch to pool! Ideal for getting served last in shops of the temperate zone they are also ideal for going home, into space, into time, to farm the mind's Sabine acres for product and subsistence.
Now that everyone who yearned to wear long pants has essentially achieved them, long pants, which have themselves been underwear repeatedly, and underground more than once, it is time perhaps to cherish the culture of shorts, to moderate grim vigour with the knobble of bare knees, to cool bareknuckle feet in inland water, slapping flies with a book on solar wind or a patient bare hand, beneath the cadjiput trees, to be walking meditatively among green timber, through the grassy forest towards a calm sea and looking across to more of that great island and the further tropics.
Written by W. E. B. Du Bois | Create an image from this poem

A Hymn to the Peoples

O Truce of God!
And primal meeting of the Sons of Man,
Foreshadowing the union of the World!
From all the ends of earth we come!
Old Night, the elder sister of the Day,
Mother of Dawn in the golden East,
Meets in the misty twilight with her brood,
Pale and black, tawny, red and brown,
The mighty human rainbow of the world,
Spanning its wilderness of storm.
Softly in sympathy the sunlight falls,
Rare is the radiance of the moon;
And on the darkest midnight blaze the stars—
The far-flown shadows of whose brilliance
Drop like a dream on the dim shores of Time,
Forecasting Days that are to these
As day to night.
So sit we all as one.
So, gloomed in tall and stone-swathed groves,
The Buddha walks with Christ!
And Al-Koran and Bible both be holy!
Almighty Word!
In this Thine awful sanctuary,
First and flame-haunted City of the Widened World,
Assoil us, Lord of Lands and Seas!
We are but weak and wayward men,
Distraught alike with hatred and vainglory;
Prone to despise the Soul that breathes within—
High visioned hordes that lie and steal and kill,
Sinning the sin each separate heart disclaims,
Clambering upon our riven, writhing selves,
Besieging Heaven by trampling men to Hell!
We be blood-guilty! Lo, our hands be red!
Not one may blame the other in this sin!
But here—here in the white Silence of the Dawn,
Before the Womb of Time,
With bowed hearts all flame and shame,
We face the birth-pangs of a world:
We hear the stifled cry of Nations all but born—
The wail of women ravished of their stunted brood!
We see the nakedness of Toil, the poverty of Wealth,
We know the Anarchy of Empire, and doleful Death of Life!
And hearing, seeing, knowing all, we cry:
Save us, World-Spirit, from our lesser selves!
Grant us that war and hatred cease,
Reveal our souls in every race and hue!
Help us, O Human God, in this Thy Truce,
To make Humanity divine!
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