Night is for sorrow and dawn is for joy,
Chasing the troubles that fret and annoy;
Darkness for sighing and daylight for song,—
Cheery and chaste the strain, heartfelt and strong.
All the night through, though I moan in the dark,
I wake in the morning to sing with the lark.
Deep in the midnight the rain whips the leaves,
Softly and sadly the wood-spirit grieves.
But when the first hue of dawn tints the sky,
I shall shake out my wings like the birds and be dry;
And though, like the rain-drops, I grieved through the dark,
I shall wake in the morning to sing with the lark.
On the high hills of heaven, some morning to be,
Where the rain shall not grieve thro’ the leaves of the tree,
There my heart will be glad for the pain I have known,
For my hand will be clasped in the hand of mine own;
And though life has been hard and death’s pathway been dark,
I shall wake in the morning to sing with the lark.
This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on June 27, 2021, by the Academy of American Poets.
At first, I spoke to my neighbor daily, in part because of the weather
(he could still sit out on bench)
in part because of vice
(I was chain-smoking and he’d shout for one when I passed)
but this stopped, in part because of trust
(he did not believe I was smoking less and resented the imagined lie)
in part because of routes
(at first I added 15 minutes to my commute to walk north, past his apartment, towards 6th avenue, and up through the park, as this removes 25-50% of my anxiety, but now that I have lived here half a year, I find myself incapable of waking up early enough to permit this easy remedy, so I walk the other, faster direction)
and in part because of novelty
(having covered introductions, we now tend to say only “hello” when I do pass).
I have a sense of what he looks like, due to this regularity,
but I could not describe his building.
Someone I was hoping to kiss informed me
that it’s easy to remember
images (all you have to do, they said, is take
a lesson from a children’s book, one in which a girl could
remember anything she wanted by saying “click,”
and imagining she held a camera). Later, distracted
on my walk home by the kiss’s memory, which came
easily because my eyes had been closed for it, I took a wrong
turn and struggled to find my building
on an unfamiliar street. That’s why I’m studying:
There is my own blue bicycle; the round planter to the left
of the steps I use to enter, which the downstairs neighbor keeps
tidy—cutting back the plants that don’t stay green
in the winter, for example, but keeping the heartier cabbages
watered—though I have never seen her do this work;
somewhere between two and five pride flags,
some of which are there year round while others
appear only in June; a fire hydrant; the windows
of the apartment that face mine, through which I see my least
favorite bookshelves: they look mildly expensive
and comprise a set of intersecting diamonds, making the books
hard to remove and reshelf since they are all piled at slants;
some scaffolding that seems to attract unhappy couples mid-fight;
one set of table and chairs; a house that frequently puts books
or toys or clothes out on the sidewalk for free. I know that
there are two or more remarkable sculptures, but only
because I remember remarking: one might be of a silver
bust of a woman, maybe an angel or a pop star, while others
are definitely at the base of the railings to the steps across the street, but I don’t
remember now if they are dogs or birds. There is a statue of an owl
on a window ledge I can see from one chair, and it often scares me.
Now some buildings have Christmas lights, but I couldn’t say
which, and that could easily lead me to turn down any other residential
block. There is a lilac bush immediately next door, and in May, it helped me
identify my building from very far away. But when we came
to pick up our keys, I began to cry—it resembles
another that grew in front of my childhood and I am
sentimental. I sat down and demanded my roommate tell me
why he hadn’t pointed out the lilacs earlier, and he threw up
his hands: he had tried, but I had talked over him.
When the kisser who recommended I take snapshots
of my surroundings came to my apartment, there is a chance
that they noticed many more things: they probably know
whether it is broken up at any point by vinyl siding, or what words
appear on the inflatable Santa down the hill. When we passed
through the park, I did attempt to capture the snow lifting
from the ground in spirals, the two bodies—one seated, one running—blocking
some light, the corner-eye view of their metallic jacket. But I wanted
to remember what we looked like to the seated person, so replaced the above
description with an imagined photo of two people connected
by elbows, which I now see instead.
My panic, when it comes in public, starts
with lost vision; at home, with the heart. The classroom used to turn
to white: I could make out, maybe, the light from the streetlamps
visible from the class’ windows, but the shapes of the students’ faces
and the windows themselves would be gone. I got very good
at remembering where I had left my chair, sitting down, and pretending
to glance thoughtfully at my notebook. If I said “yes, mmhmm,
anyone else?” my students would feel prompted to speak
without raising hands, and sometimes I’d take illegible
notes on their comments in order to prolong the period
before I would need my eyesight back. If no voices emerged, but
I could register the electronic sounds enough to know my hearing
was still with me, I would spontaneously become a person
who lectures, or I would ask them to break into groups of 3-4
to collectively answer some question. Years before, when sound
and sight left together, I would sit on the floor
of the subway hoping to faint from a more auspicious
starting position. Looking at things indirectly—on a telephone,
say—does not typically produce such a reaction.
Copyright © 2020 by Diana Hamilton. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on October 28, 2020, by the Academy of American Poets.
What kind of thoughts now, do you carry
In your travels day by day
Are they bright and lofty visions,
Or neglected, gone astray?
Matters not how great in fancy,
Or what deeds of skill you’ve wrought;
Man, though high may be his station,
Is no better than his thoughts.
Catch your thoughts and hold them tightly,
Let each one an honor be;
Purge them, scourge them, burnish brightly,
Then in love set each one free.
This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on January 18, 2020, by the Academy of American Poets.
(“I am opposed to woman suffrage, but I am not opposed to woman.”—Anti-suffrage speech of Mr. Webb of North Carolina.)
O women, have you heard the news
Of charity and grace?
Look, look how joy and gratitude
Are beaming in my face!
For Mr. Webb is not opposed
To woman in her place!
O Mr. Webb, how kind you are
To let us live at all,
To let us light the kitchen range
And tidy up the hall;
To tolerate the female sex
In spite of Adam’s fall.
O girls, suppose that Mr. Webb
Should alter his decree!
Suppose he were opposed to us—
Opposed to you and me.
What would be left for us to do—
Except to cease to be?
This poem is in the public domain.