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Best Famous Running Poems

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Written by Ben Jonson | Create an image from this poem

The Hourglass

Consider this small dust here running in the glass,
By atoms moved;
Could you believe that this the body was 
Of one that loved?
And in his mistress' flame, playing like a fly,
Turned to cinders by her eye:
Yes; and in death, as life, unblessed,
To have it expressed,
Even ashes of lovers find no rest.


Written by Raymond Carver | Create an image from this poem

Fear

 Fear of seeing a police car pull into the drive.
Fear of falling asleep at night.
Fear of not falling asleep.
Fear of the past rising up.
Fear of the present taking flight.
Fear of the telephone that rings in the dead of night.
Fear of electrical storms.
Fear of the cleaning woman who has a spot on her cheek! Fear of dogs I've been told won't bite.
Fear of anxiety! Fear of having to identify the body of a dead friend.
Fear of running out of money.
Fear of having too much, though people will not believe this.
Fear of psychological profiles.
Fear of being late and fear of arriving before anyone else.
Fear of my children's handwriting on envelopes.
Fear they'll die before I do, and I'll feel guilty.
Fear of having to live with my mother in her old age, and mine.
Fear of confusion.
Fear this day will end on an unhappy note.
Fear of waking up to find you gone.
Fear of not loving and fear of not loving enough.
Fear that what I love will prove lethal to those I love.
Fear of death.
Fear of living too long.
Fear of death.
I've said that.
Written by Richard Aldington | Create an image from this poem

Childhood

 I 

The bitterness.
the misery, the wretchedness of childhood Put me out of love with God.
I can't believe in God's goodness; I can believe In many avenging gods.
Most of all I believe In gods of bitter dullness, Cruel local gods Who scared my childhood.
II I've seen people put A chrysalis in a match-box, "To see," they told me, "what sort of moth would come.
" But when it broke its shell It slipped and stumbled and fell about its prison And tried to climb to the light For space to dry its wings.
That's how I was.
Somebody found my chrysalis And shut it in a match-box.
My shrivelled wings were beaten, Shed their colours in dusty scales Before the box was opened For the moth to fly.
III I hate that town; I hate the town I lived in when I was little; I hate to think of it.
There wre always clouds, smoke, rain In that dingly little valley.
It rained; it always rained.
I think I never saw the sun until I was nine -- And then it was too late; Everything's too late after the first seven years.
The long street we lived in Was duller than a drain And nearly as dingy.
There were the big College And the pseudo-Gothic town-hall.
There were the sordid provincial shops -- The grocer's, and the shops for women, The shop where I bought transfers, And the piano and gramaphone shop Where I used to stand Staring at the huge shiny pianos and at the pictures Of a white dog looking into a gramaphone.
How dull and greasy and grey and sordid it was! On wet days -- it was always wet -- I used to kneel on a chair And look at it from the window.
The dirty yellow trams Dragged noisily along With a clatter of wheels and bells And a humming of wires overhead.
They threw up the filthy rain-water from the hollow lines And then the water ran back Full of brownish foam bubbles.
There was nothing else to see -- It was all so dull -- Except a few grey legs under shiny black umbrellas Running along the grey shiny pavements; Sometimes there was a waggon Whose horses made a strange loud hollow sound With their hoofs Through the silent rain.
And there was a grey museum Full of dead birds and dead insects and dead animals And a few relics of the Romans -- dead also.
There was a sea-front, A long asphalt walk with a bleak road beside it, Three piers, a row of houses, And a salt dirty smell from the little harbour.
I was like a moth -- Like one of those grey Emperor moths Which flutter through the vines at Capri.
And that damned little town was my match-box, Against whose sides I beat and beat Until my wings were torn and faded, and dingy As that damned little town.
IV At school it was just as dull as that dull High Street.
The front was dull; The High Street and the other street were dull -- And there was a public park, I remember, And that was damned dull, too, With its beds of geraniums no one was allowed to pick, And its clipped lawns you weren't allowed to walk on, And the gold-fish pond you mustn't paddle in, And the gate made out of a whale's jaw-bones, And the swings, which were for "Board-School children," And its gravel paths.
And on Sundays they rang the bells, From Baptist and Evangelical and Catholic churches.
They had a Salvation Army.
I was taken to a High Church; The parson's name was Mowbray, "Which is a good name but he thinks too much of it --" That's what I heard people say.
I took a little black book To that cold, grey, damp, smelling church, And I had to sit on a hard bench, Wriggle off it to kneel down when they sang psalms And wriggle off it to kneel down when they prayed, And then there was nothing to do Except to play trains with the hymn-books.
There was nothing to see, Nothing to do, Nothing to play with, Except that in an empty room upstairs There was a large tin box Containing reproductions of the Magna Charta, Of the Declaration of Independence And of a letter from Raleigh after the Armada.
There were also several packets of stamps, Yellow and blue Guatemala parrots, Blue stags and red baboons and birds from Sarawak, Indians and Men-of-war From the United States, And the green and red portraits Of King Francobello Of Italy.
V I don't believe in God.
I do believe in avenging gods Who plague us for sins we never sinned But who avenge us.
That's why I'll never have a child, Never shut up a chrysalis in a match-box For the moth to spoil and crush its brght colours, Beating its wings against the dingy prison-wall.
Written by Allen Ginsberg | Create an image from this poem

Hospital Window

At gauzy dusk, thin haze like cigarette smoke 
ribbons past Chrysler Building's silver fins 
tapering delicately needletopped, Empire State's 
taller antenna filmed milky lit amid blocks 
black and white apartmenting veil'd sky over Manhattan, 
offices new built dark glassed in blueish heaven--The East 
50's & 60's covered with castles & watertowers, seven storied 
tar-topped house-banks over York Avenue, late may-green trees 
surrounding Rockefellers' blue domed medical arbor-- 
Geodesic science at the waters edge--Cars running up 
East River Drive, & parked at N.
Y.
Hospital's oval door where perfect tulips flower the health of a thousand sick souls trembling inside hospital rooms.
Triboro bridge steel-spiked penthouse orange roofs, sunset tinges the river and in a few Bronx windows, some magnesium vapor brilliances're spotted five floors above E 59th St under grey painted bridge trestles.
Way downstream along the river, as Monet saw Thames 100 years ago, Con Edison smokestacks 14th street, & Brooklyn Bridge's skeined dim in modern mists-- Pipes sticking up to sky nine smokestacks huge visible-- U.
N.
Building hangs under an orange crane, & red lights on vertical avenues below the trees turn green at the nod of a skull with a mild nerve ache.
Dim dharma, I return to this spectacle after weeks of poisoned lassitude, my thighs belly chest & arms covered with poxied welts, head pains fading back of the neck, right eyebrow cheek mouth paralyzed--from taking the wrong medicine, sweated too much in the forehead helpless, covered my rage from gorge to prostate with grinding jaw and tightening anus not released the weeping scream of horror at robot Mayaguez World self ton billions metal grief unloaded Pnom Penh to Nakon Thanom, Santiago & Tehran.
Fresh warm breeze in the window, day's release >from pain, cars float downside the bridge trestle and uncounted building-wall windows multiplied a mile deep into ash-delicate sky beguile my empty mind.
A seagull passes alone wings spread silent over roofs.
- May 20, 1975 Mayaguez Crisis
Written by Rabindranath Tagore | Create an image from this poem

The Hero

 Mother, let us imagine we are travelling, and passing through a
strange and dangerous country.
You are riding in a palanquin and I am trotting by you on a red horse.
It is evening and the sun goes down.
The waste of Joradighi lies wan and grey before us.
The land is desolate and barren.
You are frightened and thinking-"I know not where we have come to.
" I say to you, "Mother, do not be afraid.
" The meadow is prickly with spiky grass, and through it runs a narrow broken path.
There are no cattle to be seen in the wide field; they have gone to their village stalls.
It grows dark and dim on the land and sky, and we cannot tell where we are going.
Suddenly you call me and ask me in a whisper, "What light is that near the bank?" Just then there bursts out a fearful yell, and figures come running towards us.
You sit crouched in your palanquin and repeat the names of the gods in prayer.
The bearers, shaking in terror, hide themselves in the thorny bush.
I shout to you, "Don't be afraid, mother.
I am here.
" With long sticks in their hands and hair all wild about their heads, they come nearer and nearer.
I shout, "Have a care, you villains! One step more and you are dead men.
" They give another terrible yell and rush forward.
You clutch my hand and say, "Dear boy, for heaven's sake, keep away from them.
" I say, "Mother, just you watch me.
" Then I spur my horse for a wild gallop, and my sword and buckler clash against each other.
The fight becomes so fearful, mother, that it would give you a cold shudder could you see it from your palanquin.
Many of them fly, and a great number are cut to pieces.
I know you are thinking, sitting all by yourself, that your boy must be dead by this time.
But I come to you all stained with blood, and say,"Mother, the fight is over now.
" You come out and kiss me, pressing me to your heart, and you say to yourself, "I don't know what I should do if I hadn't my boy to escort me.
" A thousand useless things happen day after day, and why couldn't such a thing come true by chance? It would be like a story in a book.
My brother would say, "Is it possible? I always thought he was so delicate!" Our village people would all say in amazement, "Was it not lucky that the boy was with his mother?"
Written by Alexander Pushkin | Create an image from this poem

The Drowned Man

 Children running into izba,
Calling father, dripping sweat:
"Daddy, daddy! come -- there is a
Deadman caught inside our net.
" "Fancy, fancy fabrication.
.
.
" Grumbled off their weary Pa, "Have these imps imagination! Deadman, really! ya-ha-ha.
.
.
"Well.
.
.
the court may come to bother - What'll I say before the judge? Hey you brats, go have your mother Bring my coat; I better trudge.
.
.
Show me, where?" -- "Right there, Dad, farther!" On the sand where netting ropes Lay spread out, the peasant father Saw the veritable corpse.
Badly mangled, ugly, frightening, Blue and swollen on each side.
.
.
Has he fished in storm and lightning, Or committed suicide? Could this be a careless drunkard, Or a mermaid-seeking monk, Or a merchandizer, conquered By some bandits, robbed and sunk? To the peasant, what's it matter! Quick: he grabs the dead man's hair, Drags his body to the water, Looks around: nobody's there: Good.
.
.
relieved of the concern he Shoves his paddle at a loss, While the stiff resumes his journey Down the stream for grave and cross.
Long the dead man as one living Rocked on waves amid the foam.
.
.
Surly as he watched him leaving, Soon our peasant headed home.
"Come you pups! let's go, don't scatter.
Each of you will get his bun.
But remember: just you chatter -- And I'll whip you, every one.
" Dark and stormy it was turning.
High the river ran in gloom.
Now the torch has finished burning In the peasant's smoky room.
Kids asleep, the wife aslumber, He lies listening to the rain.
.
.
Bang! he hears a sudden comer Knocking on the window-pane.
"What the.
.
.
" -- "Let me in there, master!" "Damn, you found the time to roam! Well, what is it, your disaster? Let you in? It's dark at home, Dark and crowded.
.
.
What a pest you are! Where'd I put you in my cot.
.
.
" Slowly, with a lazy gesture, He lifts up the pane and - what? Through the clouds, the moon was showing.
.
.
Well? the naked man was there, Down his hair the water flowing, Wide his eyes, unmoved the stare; Numb the dreadful-looking body, Arms were hanging feeble, thin; Crabs and cancers, black and bloody, Sucked into the swollen skin.
As the peasant slammed the shutter (Recognized his visitant) Horror-struck he could but mutter "Blast you!" and began to pant.
He was shuddering, awful chaos All night through stirred in his brain, While the knocking shook the house By the gates and at the pane.
People tell a dreadful rumor: Every year the peasant, say, Waiting in the worst of humor For his visitor that day; As the rainstorm is increasing, Nightfall brings a hurricane - And the drowned man knocks, unceasing, By the gates and at the pane.
Translated by: Genia Gurarie, 11/95 Copyright retained by Genia Gurarie.
email: egurarie@princeton.
edu http://www.
princeton.
edu/~egurarie/ For permission to reproduce, write personally to the translator.
Written by David Berman | Create an image from this poem

Self-Portrait At 28

 I know it's a bad title
but I'm giving it to myself as a gift
on a day nearly canceled by sunlight
when the entire hill is approaching
the ideal of Virginia
brochured with goldenrod and loblolly
and I think "at least I have not woken up
with a bloody knife in my hand"
by then having absently wandered
one hundred yards from the house
while still seated in this chair
with my eyes closed.
It is a certain hill the one I imagine when I hear the word "hill" and if the apocalypse turns out to be a world-wide nervous breakdown if our five billion minds collapse at once well I'd call that a surprise ending and this hill would still be beautiful a place I wouldn't mind dying alone or with you.
I am trying to get at something and I want to talk very plainly to you so that we are both comforted by the honesty.
You see there is a window by my desk I stare out when I am stuck though the outdoors has rarely inspired me to write and I don't know why I keep staring at it.
My childhood hasn't made good material either mostly being a mulch of white minutes with a few stand out moments, popping tar bubbles on the driveway in the summer a certain amount of pride at school everytime they called it "our sun" and playing football when the only play was "go out long" are what stand out now.
If squeezed for more information I can remember old clock radios with flipping metal numbers and an entree called Surf and Turf.
As a way of getting in touch with my origins every night I set the alarm clock for the time I was born so that waking up becomes a historical reenactment and the first thing I do is take a reading of the day and try to flow with it like when you're riding a mechanical bull and you strain to learn the pattern quickly so you don't inadverantly resist it.
II two I can't remember being born and no one else can remember it either even the doctor who I met years later at a cocktail party.
It's one of the little disappointments that makes you think about getting away going to Holly Springs or Coral Gables and taking a room on the square with a landlady whose hands are scored by disinfectant, telling the people you meet that you are from Alaska, and listen to what they have to say about Alaska until you have learned much more about Alaska than you ever will about Holly Springs or Coral Gables.
Sometimes I am buying a newspaper in a strange city and think "I am about to learn what it's like to live here.
" Oftentimes there is a news item about the complaints of homeowners who live beside the airport and I realize that I read an article on this subject nearly once a year and always receive the same image.
I am in bed late at night in my house near the airport listening to the jets fly overhead a strange wife sleeping beside me.
In my mind, the bedroom is an amalgamation of various cold medicine commercial sets (there is always a box of tissue on the nightstand).
I know these recurring news articles are clues, flaws in the design though I haven't figured out how to string them together yet, but I've begun to notice that the same people are dying over and over again, for instance Minnie Pearl who died this year for the fourth time in four years.
III three Today is the first day of Lent and once again I'm not really sure what it is.
How many more years will I let pass before I take the trouble to ask someone? It reminds of this morning when you were getting ready for work.
I was sitting by the space heater numbly watching you dress and when you asked why I never wear a robe I had so many good reasons I didn't know where to begin.
If you were cool in high school you didn't ask too many questions.
You could tell who'd been to last night's big metal concert by the new t-shirts in the hallway.
You didn't have to ask and that's what cool was: the ability to deduct to know without asking.
And the pressure to simulate coolness means not asking when you don't know, which is why kids grow ever more stupid.
A yearbook's endpages, filled with promises to stay in touch, stand as proof of the uselessness of a teenager's promise.
Not like I'm dying for a letter from the class stoner ten years on but.
.
.
Do you remember the way the girls would call out "love you!" conveniently leaving out the "I" as if they didn't want to commit to their own declarations.
I agree that the "I" is a pretty heavy concept and hope you won't get uncomfortable if I should go into some deeper stuff here.
IV four There are things I've given up on like recording funny answering machine messages.
It's part of growing older and the human race as a group has matured along the same lines.
It seems our comedy dates the quickest.
If you laugh out loud at Shakespeare's jokes I hope you won't be insulted if I say you're trying too hard.
Even sketches from the original Saturday Night Live seem slow-witted and obvious now.
It's just that our advances are irrepressible.
Nowadays little kids can't even set up lemonade stands.
It makes people too self-conscious about the past, though try explaining that to a kid.
I'm not saying it should be this way.
All this new technology will eventually give us new feelings that will never completely displace the old ones leaving everyone feeling quite nervous and split in two.
We will travel to Mars even as folks on Earth are still ripping open potato chip bags with their teeth.
Why? I don't have the time or intelligence to make all the connections like my friend Gordon (this is a true story) who grew up in Braintree Massachusetts and had never pictured a brain snagged in a tree until I brought it up.
He'd never broken the name down to its parts.
By then it was too late.
He had moved to Coral Gables.
V five The hill out my window is still looking beautiful suffused in a kind of gold national park light and it seems to say, I'm sorry the world could not possibly use another poem about Orpheus but I'm available if you're not working on a self-portrait or anything.
I'm watching my dog have nightmares, twitching and whining on the office floor and I try to imagine what beast has cornered him in the meadow where his dreams are set.
I'm just letting the day be what it is: a place for a large number of things to gather and interact -- not even a place but an occasion a reality for real things.
Friends warned me not to get too psychedelic or religious with this piece: "They won't accept it if it's too psychedelic or religious," but these are valid topics and I'm the one with the dog twitching on the floor possibly dreaming of me that part of me that would beat a dog for no good reason no reason that a dog could see.
I am trying to get at something so simple that I have to talk plainly so the words don't disfigure it and if it turns out that what I say is untrue then at least let it be harmless like a leaky boat in the reeds that is bothering no one.
VI six I can't trust the accuracy of my own memories, many of them having blended with sentimental telephone and margarine commercials plainly ruined by Madison Avenue though no one seems to call the advertising world "Madison Avenue" anymore.
Have they moved? Let's get an update on this.
But first I have some business to take care of.
I walked out to the hill behind our house which looks positively Alaskan today and it would be easier to explain this if I had a picture to show you but I was with our young dog and he was running through the tall grass like running through the tall grass is all of life together until a bird calls or he finds a beer can and that thing fills all the space in his head.
You see, his mind can only hold one thought at a time and when he finally hears me call his name he looks up and cocks his head and for a single moment my voice is everything: Self-portrait at 28.


Written by T S (Thomas Stearns) Eliot | Create an image from this poem

Four Quartets 2: East Coker

 I

In my beginning is my end.
In succession Houses rise and fall, crumble, are extended, Are removed, destroyed, restored, or in their place Is an open field, or a factory, or a by-pass.
Old stone to new building, old timber to new fires, Old fires to ashes, and ashes to the earth Which is already flesh, fur and faeces, Bone of man and beast, cornstalk and leaf.
Houses live and die: there is a time for building And a time for living and for generation And a time for the wind to break the loosened pane And to shake the wainscot where the field-mouse trots And to shake the tattered arras woven with a silent motto.
In my beginning is my end.
Now the light falls Across the open field, leaving the deep lane Shuttered with branches, dark in the afternoon, Where you lean against a bank while a van passes, And the deep lane insists on the direction Into the village, in the electric heat Hypnotised.
In a warm haze the sultry light Is absorbed, not refracted, by grey stone.
The dahlias sleep in the empty silence.
Wait for the early owl.
In that open field If you do not come too close, if you do not come too close, On a summer midnight, you can hear the music Of the weak pipe and the little drum And see them dancing around the bonfire The association of man and woman In daunsinge, signifying matrimonie— A dignified and commodiois sacrament.
Two and two, necessarye coniunction, Holding eche other by the hand or the arm Whiche betokeneth concorde.
Round and round the fire Leaping through the flames, or joined in circles, Rustically solemn or in rustic laughter Lifting heavy feet in clumsy shoes, Earth feet, loam feet, lifted in country mirth Mirth of those long since under earth Nourishing the corn.
Keeping time, Keeping the rhythm in their dancing As in their living in the living seasons The time of the seasons and the constellations The time of milking and the time of harvest The time of the coupling of man and woman And that of beasts.
Feet rising and falling.
Eating and drinking.
Dung and death.
Dawn points, and another day Prepares for heat and silence.
Out at sea the dawn wind Wrinkles and slides.
I am here Or there, or elsewhere.
In my beginning.
II What is the late November doing With the disturbance of the spring And creatures of the summer heat, And snowdrops writhing under feet And hollyhocks that aim too high Red into grey and tumble down Late roses filled with early snow? Thunder rolled by the rolling stars Simulates triumphal cars Deployed in constellated wars Scorpion fights against the Sun Until the Sun and Moon go down Comets weep and Leonids fly Hunt the heavens and the plains Whirled in a vortex that shall bring The world to that destructive fire Which burns before the ice-cap reigns.
That was a way of putting it—not very satisfactory: A periphrastic study in a worn-out poetical fashion, Leaving one still with the intolerable wrestle With words and meanings.
The poetry does not matter.
It was not (to start again) what one had expected.
What was to be the value of the long looked forward to, Long hoped for calm, the autumnal serenity And the wisdom of age? Had they deceived us Or deceived themselves, the quiet-voiced elders, Bequeathing us merely a receipt for deceit? The serenity only a deliberate hebetude, The wisdom only the knowledge of dead secrets Useless in the darkness into which they peered Or from which they turned their eyes.
There is, it seems to us, At best, only a limited value In the knowledge derived from experience.
The knowledge imposes a pattern, and falsifies, For the pattern is new in every moment And every moment is a new and shocking Valuation of all we have been.
We are only undeceived Of that which, deceiving, could no longer harm.
In the middle, not only in the middle of the way But all the way, in a dark wood, in a bramble, On the edge of a grimpen, where is no secure foothold, And menaced by monsters, fancy lights, Risking enchantment.
Do not let me hear Of the wisdom of old men, but rather of their folly, Their fear of fear and frenzy, their fear of possession, Of belonging to another, or to others, or to God.
The only wisdom we can hope to acquire Is the wisdom of humility: humility is endless.
The houses are all gone under the sea.
The dancers are all gone under the hill.
III O dark dark dark.
They all go into the dark, The vacant interstellar spaces, the vacant into the vacant, The captains, merchant bankers, eminent men of letters, The generous patrons of art, the statesmen and the rulers, Distinguished civil servants, chairmen of many committees, Industrial lords and petty contractors, all go into the dark, And dark the Sun and Moon, and the Almanach de Gotha And the Stock Exchange Gazette, the Directory of Directors, And cold the sense and lost the motive of action.
And we all go with them, into the silent funeral, Nobody's funeral, for there is no one to bury.
I said to my soul, be still, and let the dark come upon you Which shall be the darkness of God.
As, in a theatre, The lights are extinguished, for the scene to be changed With a hollow rumble of wings, with a movement of darkness on darkness, And we know that the hills and the trees, the distant panorama And the bold imposing façade are all being rolled away— Or as, when an underground train, in the tube, stops too long between stations And the conversation rises and slowly fades into silence And you see behind every face the mental emptiness deepen Leaving only the growing terror of nothing to think about; Or when, under ether, the mind is conscious but conscious of nothing— I said to my soul, be still, and wait without hope For hope would be hope for the wrong thing; wait without love, For love would be love of the wrong thing; there is yet faith But the faith and the love and the hope are all in the waiting.
Wait without thought, for you are not ready for thought: So the darkness shall be the light, and the stillness the dancing.
Whisper of running streams, and winter lightning.
The wild thyme unseen and the wild strawberry, The laughter in the garden, echoed ecstasy Not lost, but requiring, pointing to the agony Of death and birth.
You say I am repeating Something I have said before.
I shall say it again.
Shall I say it again? In order to arrive there, To arrive where you are, to get from where you are not, You must go by a way wherein there is no ecstasy.
In order to arrive at what you do not know You must go by a way which is the way of ignorance.
In order to possess what you do not possess You must go by the way of dispossession.
In order to arrive at what you are not You must go through the way in which you are not.
And what you do not know is the only thing you know And what you own is what you do not own And where you are is where you are not.
IV The wounded surgeon plies the steel That questions the distempered part; Beneath the bleeding hands we feel The sharp compassion of the healer's art Resolving the enigma of the fever chart.
Our only health is the disease If we obey the dying nurse Whose constant care is not to please But to remind of our, and Adam's curse, And that, to be restored, our sickness must grow worse.
The whole earth is our hospital Endowed by the ruined millionaire, Wherein, if we do well, we shall Die of the absolute paternal care That will not leave us, but prevents us everywhere.
The chill ascends from feet to knees, The fever sings in mental wires.
If to be warmed, then I must freeze And quake in frigid purgatorial fires Of which the flame is roses, and the smoke is briars.
The dripping blood our only drink, The bloody flesh our only food: In spite of which we like to think That we are sound, substantial flesh and blood— Again, in spite of that, we call this Friday good.
V So here I am, in the middle way, having had twenty years— Twenty years largely wasted, the years of l'entre deux guerres Trying to use words, and every attempt Is a wholly new start, and a different kind of failure Because one has only learnt to get the better of words For the thing one no longer has to say, or the way in which One is no longer disposed to say it.
And so each venture Is a new beginning, a raid on the inarticulate With shabby equipment always deteriorating In the general mess of imprecision of feeling, Undisciplined squads of emotion.
And what there is to conquer By strength and submission, has already been discovered Once or twice, or several times, by men whom one cannot hope To emulate—but there is no competition— There is only the fight to recover what has been lost And found and lost again and again: and now, under conditions That seem unpropitious.
But perhaps neither gain nor loss.
For us, there is only the trying.
The rest is not our business.
Home is where one starts from.
As we grow older The world becomes stranger, the pattern more complicated Of dead and living.
Not the intense moment Isolated, with no before and after, But a lifetime burning in every moment And not the lifetime of one man only But of old stones that cannot be deciphered.
There is a time for the evening under starlight, A time for the evening under lamplight (The evening with the photograph album).
Love is most nearly itself When here and now cease to matter.
Old men ought to be explorers Here or there does not matter We must be still and still moving Into another intensity For a further union, a deeper communion Through the dark cold and the empty desolation, The wave cry, the wind cry, the vast waters Of the petrel and the porpoise.
In my end is my beginning.
Written by David Lehman | Create an image from this poem

A Little History

 Some people find out they are Jews.
They can't believe it.
Thy had always hated Jews.
As children they had roamed in gangs on winter nights in the old neighborhood, looking for Jews.
They were not Jewish, they were Irish.
They brandished broken bottles, tough guys with blood on their lips, looking for Jews.
They intercepted Jewish boys walking alone and beat them up.
Sometimes they were content to chase a Jew and he could elude them by running away.
They were happy just to see him run away.
The coward! All Jews were yellow.
They spelled Jew with a small j jew.
And now they find out they are Jews themselves.
It happened at the time of the Spanish Inquisition.
To escape persecution, they pretended to convert to Christianity.
They came to this country and settled in the Southwest.
At some point oral tradition failed the family, and their secret faith died.
No one would ever have known if not for the bones that turned up on the dig.
A disaster.
How could it have happened to them? They are in a state of panic--at first.
Then they realize that it is the answer to their prayers.
They hasten to the synagogue or build new ones.
They are Jews at last! They are free to marry other Jews, and divorce them, and intermarry with Gentiles, God forbid.
They are model citizens, clever and thrifty.
They debate the issues.
They fire off earnest letters to the editor.
They vote.
They are resented for being clever and thrifty.
They buy houses in the suburbs and agree not to talk so loud.
They look like everyone else, drive the same cars as everyone else, yet in their hearts they know they're different.
In every minyan there are always two or three, hated by the others, who give life to one ugly stereotype or another: The grasping Jew with the hooked nose or the Ivy League Bolshevik who thinks he is the agent of world history.
But most of them are neither ostentatiously pious nor excessively avaricious.
How I envy them! They believe.
How I envy them their annual family reunion on Passover, anniversary of the Exodus, when all the uncles and aunts and cousins get together.
They wonder about the heritage of Judaism they are passing along to their children.
Have they done as much as they could to keep the old embers burning? Others lead more dramatic lives.
A few go to Israel.
One of them calls Israel "the ultimate concentration camp.
" He tells Jewish jokes.
On the plane he gets tipsy, tries to seduce the stewardess.
People in the Midwest keep telling him reminds them of Woody Allen.
He wonders what that means.
I'm funny? A sort of nervous intellectual type from New York? A Jew? Around this time somebody accuses him of not being Jewish enough.
It is said by resentful colleagues that his parents changed their name from something that sounded more Jewish.
Everything he publishes is scrutinized with reference to "the Jewish question.
" It is no longer clear what is meant by that phrase.
He has already forgotten all the Yiddish he used to know, and the people of that era are dying out one after another.
The number of witnesses keeps diminishing.
Soon there will be no one left to remind the others and their children.
That is why he came to this dry place where the bones have come to life.
To live in a state of perpetual war puts a tremendous burden on the population.
As a visitor he felt he had to share that burden.
With his gift for codes and ciphers, he joined the counter- terrorism unit of army intelligence.
Contrary to what the spook novels say, he found it possible to avoid betraying either his country or his lover.
This was the life: strange bedrooms, the perfume of other men's wives.
As a spy he has a unique mission: to get his name on the front page of the nation's newspaper of record.
Only by doing that would he get the message through to his immediate superior.
If he goes to jail, he will do so proudly; if they're going to hang him anyway, he'll do something worth hanging for.
In time he may get used to being the center of attention, but this was incredible: To talk his way into being the chief suspect in the most flamboyant murder case in years! And he was innocent! He could prove it! And what a book he would write when they free him from this prison: A novel, obliquely autobiographical, set in Vienna in the twilight of the Hapsburg Empire, in the year that his mother was born.
Written by Robert Frost | Create an image from this poem

Gathering Leaves

 Spades take up leaves
No better than spoons,
And bags full of leaves
Are light as balloons.
I make a great noise Of rustling all day Like rabbit and deer Running away.
But the mountains I raise Elude my embrace, Flowing over my arms And into my face.
I may load and unload Again and again Till I fill the whole shed, And what have I then? Next to nothing for weight, And since they grew duller From contact with earth, Next to nothing for color.
Next to nothing for use.
But a crop is a crop, And who's to say where The harvest shall stop?
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