Said the Socialist to the Suffragist:
   “My cause is greater than yours!
     You only work for a Special Class,
     We work for the gain of the General Mass,
   Which every good ensures!”

Said the Suffragist to the Socialist:
   “You underrate my Cause!
   While women remain a Subject Class,
   You never can move the General Mass,
   With your Economic Laws!”

Said the Socialist to the Suffragist:
   “You misinterpret facts!
     There is no room for doubt or schism
     In Economic Determinism–
   It governs all our acts!”

Said the Suffragist to the Socialist:
   “You men will always find
     That this old world will never move
     More swiftly in its ancient groove
   While women stay behind!”

“A lifted world lifts women up,”
   The Socialist explained.
     “You cannot lift the world at all
     While half of it is kept so small,”
   The Suffragist maintained.

The world awoke, and tartly spoke:
   “Your work is all the same:
     Work together or work apart,
     Work, each of you, with all your heart–
   Just get into the game!”

This poem is in the public domain.

After Hanif Abdurraqib & Frank O’Hara
 
It is the last class of the day & I am teaching a classroom of sixth graders about poetry & across town a man has walked into a Starbucks & blown himself up while some other men throw grenades in the street & shoot into the crowd of civilians & I am 27 years old which means I am the only person in this room who was alive when this happened in New York City & I was in eighth grade & sitting in my classroom for the first class of the day & I made a joke about how mad everyone was going to be at the pilot who messed up & later added, how stupid do you have to be for it to happen twice? & the sixth graders are practicing listing sensory details & somebody calls out blue skies as a sight they love & nobody in this classroom knows what has happened yet & they do not know that the school is in lockdown which is a word we did not have when I was in sixth grade & the whole class is laughing because a boy has called out dog poop as a smell he does not like & what is a boy if not a glowing thing learning what he can get away with & I was once a girl in a classroom on the lucky side of town who did not know what had happened yet & electrical fire is a smell I did not know I did not like until my neighborhood smelled that way for weeks & blue skies is a sight I have never trusted again & poetry is what I reached for in the days when the ash would not stop falling & there is a sixth grade girl in this classroom whose father is in that Starbucks & she does not know what has happened yet & what is a girl if not a pulsing thing learning what the world will take from her & what if I am still a girl sitting in my classroom on the lucky side of town making a careless joke looking at the teacher for some kind of answer & what if I am also the teacher without any answers looking back at myself & what is an adult if not a terrified thing desperate to protect something you cannot save? & how lucky do you have to be for it to miss you twice? & tomorrow a sixth grade girl will come to class while her father has the shrapnel pulled from his body & maybe she will reach for poetry & the sky outside the classroom is so terribly blue & the students are quiet & looking at me & waiting for a grown-up or a poem or an answer or a bell to ring & the bell rings & they float up from their seats like tiny ghosts & are gone

Copyright © 2019 by Sarah Kay. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on February , 2019, by the Academy of American Poets.

Remember the sky that you were born under,
know each of the star’s stories.
Remember the moon, know who she is.
Remember the sun’s birth at dawn, that is the
strongest point of time. Remember sundown
and the giving away to night.
Remember your birth, how your mother struggled
to give you form and breath. You are evidence of
her life, and her mother’s, and hers.
Remember your father. He is your life, also.
Remember the earth whose skin you are:
red earth, black earth, yellow earth, white earth
brown earth, we are earth.
Remember the plants, trees, animal life who all have their
tribes, their families, their histories, too. Talk to them,
listen to them. They are alive poems.
Remember the wind. Remember her voice. She knows the
origin of this universe.
Remember you are all people and all people
are you.
Remember you are this universe and this
universe is you.
Remember all is in motion, is growing, is you.
Remember language comes from this.
Remember the dance language is, that life is.
Remember.

“Remember.” Copyright © 1983 by Joy Harjo from She Had Some Horses by Joy Harjo. Used by permission of W. W. Norton & Company, Inc.

chucking rocks at the wasps’ nest,
their gathered hum then sudden sting
at the nape of my neck. Oh, how I paid—
still pay—for the recklessness
of boys. Little Bretts. Little Jeffs.
Little knives to my breast. 
How lucky they were to never 
be held down, to never see
their voices crawl the air like fire!

How desperately I yearned to be them,
to storm the halls in macho gospel:
matching blue jackets, blood-filled
posture and made-you-flinch. 
How different would I be, 
how much bigger, if I had been
given room enough to be 
a country's golden terror? 

Copyright © 2020 by Rachel McKibbens. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on January 23, 2020, by the Academy of American Poets.

Yesterday, at Shepherd and Gray, the parking lot was
filled with birds, black birds, actually grackles. It was a grackle
lot; instead of a bumper on a car, there were ten grackles, instead
of a sunroof, fifty grackles sat high, their bodies shimmers
under cheap strip mall lights as shoppers delayed their spending
to pull out phones and take shots, such spectators we were,
like that summer in July, when I was left again
to wonder who was the child and who the adult,
that Sunday evening that hung in the air like bug spray
when my father, the one who fed me and gave me his last name,
stood two stories on our family porch, every neighbor,
in all manner of dress, drawn from their homes, in the street watching.
Let me tell you how he spread his arms wide, like the man
he was before Vietnam, or before the schizophrenia.
Let me tell you how a child learns the alphabet by counting,
how she learns only 2 letters separate the words hero and heroin,
how he stood high on the ledge of a porch the child never much
liked because there was a crack in its wooden center as if the world
was waiting to open its jaws to swallow her body whole.
Let me tell you how that July evening didn’t hold death,
but instead was the preface to death. The point being he jumped.
Some will say there are worse songs to sing, others might believe it
a tragedy, but who are we to question the Gods when a man
unconcerned with the inconvenience of his presence shows up
in a parking lot winged as an army of himself? Eventually, lights
went dark in the shops and each watcher retraced their steps back home
to find their families, to rejoice over food, to laugh and settle the night;
and the birds, steadfast they stood, not quite ready for flight—

Copyright © 2020 by Niki Herd. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on January 20, 2020, by the Academy of American Poets.

Where dwells the Drama's spirit? not alone
Beneath the palace roof, beside the throne,
In learning's cloisters, friendship's festal bowers,
Art's pictured halls, or triumph's laurel'd towers,
Where'er man's pulses beat or passions play,
She joys to smile or sigh his thoughts away:
Crowd times and scenes within her ring of power,
And teach a life's experience in an hour.

To-night she greets, for the first time, our dome,
Her latest, may it prove her lasting home;
And we her messengers delighted stand,
The summon'd Ariels of her mystic wand,
To ask your welcome. Be it yours to give
Bliss to her coming hours, and bid her live
Within these walls new hallow'd in her cause,
Long in the nurturing warmth of your applause.

'Tis in the public smiles, the public loves,
His dearest home, the actor breathes and moves,
Your plaudits are to us and to our art
As is the life-blood to the human heart:
And every power that bids the leaf be green,
In nature acts on this her mimic scene.
Our sunbeams are the sparklings of glad eyes,
Our winds the whisper of applause, that flies
From lip to lip, the heart-born laugh of glee,
And sounds of cordial hands that ring out merrily,
And heaven's own dew falls on us in the tear
That woman weeps o'er sorrows pictured here,
When crowded feelings have no words to tell
The might, the magic of the actor's spell.

These have been ours; and do we hope in vain
Here, oft and deep, to feel them ours again?
No! while the weary heart can find repose
From its own pains in fiction's joys or woes;
While there are open lips and dimpled cheeks,
When music breathes, or wit or humour speaks;
While Shakspeare's master spirit can call up
Noblest and worthiest thoughts, and brim the cup
Of life with bubbles bright as happiness,
Cheating the willing bosom into bliss;
So long will those who, in their spring of youth,
Have listen'd to the Drama's voice of truth,
Mark'd in her scenes the manners of their age,
And gather'd knowledge for a wider stage,
Come here to speed with smiles life's summer years,
And melt its winter snow with pleasant tears;
And younger hearts, when ours are hushed and cold,
Be happy here as we have been of old.

Friends of the stage, who hail it as the shrine
Where music, painting, poetry entwine
Their kindred garlands, whence their blended power
Refines, exalts, ennobles hour by hour
The spirit of the land, and, like the wind,
Unseen but felt, bears on the bark of mind;
To you the hour that consecrates this dome,
Will call up dreams of prouder hours to come,
When some creating poet, born your own,
May waken here the drama's loftiest tone,
Through after years to echo loud and long,
A Shakspeare of the West, a star of song,
Bright'ning your own blue skies with living fire,
All times to gladden and all tongues inspire,
Far as beneath the heaven by sea-winds fann'd,
Floats the free banner of your native land.

This poem is in the public domain. 

Who said November’s face was grim? 
    Who said her voice was harsh and sad?
I heard her sing in wood paths dim,
   I met her on the shore, so glad,
So smiling, I could kiss her feet!
There never was a month so sweet.

October’s splendid robes, that hid 
   The beauty of the white-limbed trees, 
Have dropped in tatters; yet amid 
   Those perfect forms the gazer sees
A proud wood-monarch here and there
Garments of wine-dipped crimson wear. 

In precious flakes the autumnal gold
    Is clinging to the forest’s fringe: 
Yon bare twig to the sun will hold 
   Each separate leaf, to show the tinge 
Of glorious rose-light reddening through 
Its jewels, beautiful as few. 

Where short-lived wild-flowers bloomed and died
   The slanting sunbeams fall across 
Vine-broideries, woven from side to side 
   Above mosaics of tinted moss.
So does the Eternal Artist’s skill
Hide beauty under beauty still. 

And, if no note of bee or bird
   Through the rapt stillness of the woods
Or the sea’s murmurous trance be heard,
    A Presence in these solitudes 
Upon the spirit seems to press
The dew of God’s dear silences.

And if, out of some inner heaven, 
    With soft relenting comes a day
Whereto the heart of June is given, —
   All subtle scents and spicery
Through forest crypts and arches steal, 
With power unnumbered hurts to heal. 

Through yonder rended veil of green, 
   That used to shut the sky from me, 
New glimpses of vast blue are seen; 
    I never guessed that so much sea
Bordered my little plot of ground,
And held me clasped so close around. 
  
This is the month of sunrise skies 
      Intense with molten mist and flame; 
Out of the purple deeps arrive 
      Colors no painter yet could name:
Gold-lilies and the cardinal-flower 
Were pale against this gorgeous hour. 

Still lovelier when athwart the east
      The level beam of sunset falls:
The tints of wild-flowers long deceased 
       Glow then upon the horizon walls; 
Shades of the rose and violet
Close to their dear world lingering yet. 

What idleness, to moan and fret 
       For any season fair, gone by! 
Life’s secret is not guessed at yet;
       Veil under veil its wonders lie. 
Through grief and loss made glorious 
The soul of past joy lives in us. 

More welcome than voluptous gales 
       This keen, crisp air, as conscience clear: 
November breathes no flattering tales;— 
       The plain truth-teller of the year, 
Who wins her heart, and he alone, 
Knows she has sweetness all her own.

This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on November 24, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets.

We were running out of breath, as we ran out to meet ourselves. We
Were surfacing the edge of our ancestors’ fights, and ready to Strike.
It was difficult to lose days in the Indian bar if you were Straight.
Easy if you played pool and drank to remember to forget. We
Made plans to be professional—and did. And some of us could Sing
When we drove to the edge of the mountains, with a drum. We
Made sense of our beautiful crazed lives under the starry stars. Sin
Was invented by the Christians, as was the Devil, we sang. We
Were the heathens, but needed to be saved from them: Thin
Chance. We knew we were all related in this story, a little Gin
Will clarify the dark, and make us all feel like dancing. We
Had something to do with the origins of blues and jazz
I argued with the music as I filled the jukebox with dimes in June,

Forty years later and we still want justice. We are still America. We.

From An American Sunrise: Poems by Joy Harjo. Copyright © 2019 by Joy Harjo. Used by permission of W. W. Norton & Company, Inc.

Since you got to behead
each
              hollyhock crown

              with your round
              guillotine

              of a mouth―

I hope you get to spin inside your
               paper house.

              Emerge Noctuidae,
              owlet moth, 

              laying your eggs in leaves at night.
    
That you might finish your stitch―

Replicate yourself in time so you are
              always present―

              each egg a deposit―

              an echo-pearl of “you” along time’s string―

That my soul might be allowed
              to flourish―

Make a success
              of threading flesh, to participate 

              again in time, on 

              long arcs between sets of plunge, even though
                            it hurt―

                            to be born and die―

                            it loved to ride
                                          the point

                                          of the needle―

From Banana Palace (Copper Canyon, 2016) by Dana Levin. Copyright © 2016 by Dana Levin. Used with the permission of the poet.

The neighbors are watching teevee again
& the pale blue of Montana morning
licks the long wall of the bedroom
silently, each block of gauzy cerulean
a panel in a widescreen comic that will last
until dawn bleaches it bare. Even
as I linger on the lip of sleep in this porch
rocker, in this quilted haven—the headboard
pardoned of splinters, the clouds growing
squally above the bureau—something new
& tender has stitched itself satisfied
inside of you. Your belly swells in time
with the pendulum of the longcase
my father made himself & my mother
must have known this eery glow
of stucco sky when she sewed
the pinwheels that tilt when we exhale
in unison. I have not known worry
since the last time Montana ether appeared
in panorama through the window
& I woke remembering our children
might someday soon grow beyond themselves
& into men: her body into his, or her body
into his arms, a concordance that more
than once has been mistaken for else:
a mountain silhouetted in the distance
or merely the wallpapered shadow
of a secret self who has yet to find
their way from the mercy of the womb.

Originally printed in The South Carolina Review. Copyright © 2017 by Meg Day. Used with the permission of the author.

who has never been holy won’t be won’t let it in

what has died has been familiar and would be born

where before I knew you nothing came and could be

come face of my face flesh of my flesh      what it was

came into my hands      so little comes and so pulled

back the body where it was      we who listen to holes

pull ourselves down inside them      who cannot come

call down walls pull down what we pour into us

holy holy      what cannot be ever in the hands pulling

pouring what was I knew you into the hands I was

a body to be held and holy singing of nothing comes

a body      what is holy      born wholes all of us pulling

into what was poured      then hold      hold      I knew you

what cannot be punctured cannot be born what it was

Originally published in Colorado Review. Copyright © 2019 by TC Tolbert. Used with the permission of the poet.

She sits among the eternal hills,
Their crown, thrice glorious and dear,
Her voice is as a thousand tongues
Of silver fountains, gurgling clear;

Her breath is prayer, her life is love,
And worship of all lovely things;
Her children have a gracious port,
Her beggars show the blood of kings.

By old Tradition guarded close,
None doubt the grandeur she has seen;
Upon her venerable front
Is written: “I was born a queen!”

She rules the age by Beauty’s power,
As once she ruled by arméd might;
The Southern sun doth treasure her
Deep in his golden heart of light.

Awe strikes the traveller when he sees
The vision of her distant dome,
And a strange spasm wrings his heart
As the guide whispers, “There is Rome!”

Rome of the Romans! where the gods
Of Greek Olympus long held sway;
Rome of the Christians, Peter’s tomb,
The Zion of our later day.

Rome, the mailed Virgin of the world,
Defiance on her brows and breast;
Rome, to voluptuous pleasure won,
Debauched, and locked in drunken rest.

Rome, in her intellectual day,
Europe’s intriguing step-dame grown;
Rome, bowed to weakness and decay,
A canting, mass-frequenting crone.

Then the unlettered man plods on,
Half chiding at the spell he feels,
The artist pauses at the gate,
And on the wondrous threshold kneels.

The sick man lifts his languid head
For those soft skies and balmy airs;
The pilgrim tries a quicker pace,
And hugs remorse, and patters prayers.

For even the grass that feeds the herds
Methinks some unknown virtue yields;
The very hinds in reverence tread
The precincts of the ancient fields.

But wrapt in gloom of night and death,
I crept to thee, dear mother Rome;
And in thy hospitable heart
Found rest and comfort, health and home,

And friendships, warm and living still,
Although their dearest joys are fled;
True sympathies that bring to life
That better self, so often dead.

For all the wonder that thou wert,
For all the dear delight thou art,
Accept a homage from my lips,
That warms again a wasted heart.

And, though it seem a childish prayer,
I’ve breathed it oft, that when I die,
As thy remembrance dear in it,
That heart in thee might buried lie.

This poem is in the public domain.

Pray why are you so bare, so bare,
   Oh, bough of the old oak-tree;
And why, when I go through the shade you throw,
   Runs a shudder over me?

My leaves were green as the best, I trow,
   And sap ran free in my veins,
But I saw in the moonlight dim and weird
   A guiltless victim’s pains.

I bent me down to hear his sigh;
   I shook with his gurgling moan,
And I trembled sore when they rode away,
   And left him here alone.

They’d charged him with the old, old crime,
   And set him fast in jail:
Oh, why does the dog howl all night long,
   And why does the night wind wail?

He prayed his prayer and he swore his oath,
   And he raised his hand to the sky;
But the beat of hoofs smote on his ear,
   And the steady tread drew nigh.

Who is it rides by night, by night,
   Over the moonlit road?
And what is the spur that keeps the pace,
   What is the galling goad?

And now they beat at the prison door,
   “Ho, keeper, do not stay!
We are friends of him whom you hold within,
   And we fain would take him away

“From those who ride fast on our heels
   With mind to do him wrong;
They have no care for his innocence,
   And the rope they bear is long.”

They have fooled the jailer with lying words,
   They have fooled the man with lies;
The bolts unbar, the locks are drawn,
   And the great door open flies.

Now they have taken him from the jail,
   And hard and fast they ride,
And the leader laughs low down in his throat,
   As they halt my trunk beside.

Oh, the judge, he wore a mask of black,
   And the doctor one of white,
And the minister, with his oldest son,
   Was curiously bedight.

Oh, foolish man, why weep you now?
   ’Tis but a little space,
And the time will come when these shall dread
   The mem’ry of your face.

I feel the rope against my bark,
   And the weight of him in my grain,
I feel in the throe of his final woe
   The touch of my own last pain.

And never more shall leaves come forth
   On the bough that bears the ban;
I am burned with dread, I am dried and dead,
   From the curse of a guiltless man.

And ever the judge rides by, rides by,
   And goes to hunt the deer,
And ever another rides his soul
   In the guise of a mortal fear.

And ever the man he rides me hard,
   And never a night stays he;
For I feel his curse as a haunted bough,
   On the trunk of a haunted tree.

This poem is in the public domain.

Because the time is ripe, the age is ready,
Because the world her woman’s help demands,
Out of the long subjection and seclusion
Come to our field of warfare and confusion
The mother's heart and hands.

Long has she stood aside, endured and waited,
While man swung forward, toiling on alone;
Now, for the weary man, so long ill-mated,
Now, for the world for which she was created,
Comes woman to her own.

Not for herself! though sweet the air of freedom;
Not for herself, though dear the new-born power;
But for the child, who needs a nobler mother,
For the whole people, needing one another,
Comes woman to her hour.

This poem is in the public domain.

You women of today who fear so much
The women of the future, showing how
The dangers of her course are such and such–
                       What are you now?

Mothers and Wives and Housekeepers, forsooth!
Great names, you cry, full scope to rule and please,
Room for wise age and energetic youth!–
                       But are you these?

Housekeepers? Do you then, like those of yore,
Keep house with power and pride, with grace and ease?
No, you keep servants only! What is more–
                       You don't keep these!

Wives, say you? Wives! Blessed indeed are they
Who hold of love the everlasting keys,
Keeping your husbands’ hearts! Alas the day!
                       You don't keep these!

And mothers? Pitying Heaven! Mark the cry
From cradle death-beds! Mothers on their knees!
Why, half the children born, as children, die!
                       You don’t keep these!

And still the wailing babies come and go,
And homes are waste, and husband’s hearts fly far;
There is no hope until you dare to know
                       The thing you are!

This poem is in the public domain.

Yes! Ethiopia yet shall stretch
    Her bleeding hands abroad;
Her cry of agony shall reach
    The burning throne of God.

The tyrant's yoke from off her neck,
    His fetters from her soul,
The mighty hand of God shall break,
    And spurn the base control.

Redeemed from dust and freed from chains,
   Her sons shall lift their eyes;
From cloud-capt hills and verdant plains
    Shall shouts of triumph rise.

Upon her dark, despairing brow,
    Shall play a smile of peace;
For God shall bend unto her wo,
    And bid her sorrows cease.

'Neath sheltering vines and stately palms
    Shall laughing children play,
And aged sires with joyous psalms
    Shall gladden every day.

Secure by night, and blest by day,
    Shall pass her happy hours;
Nor human tigers hunt for prey
    Within her peaceful bowers.

Then, Ethiopia! stretch, oh! stretch
    Thy bleeding hands abroad;
Thy cry of agony shall reach
    And find redress from God.

From Poems on Miscellaneous Subjects (Merrihew & Thompson, 1857) by Frances Ellen Watkins Harper. This poem is in the public domain. 

Very soon the Yankee teachers 
    Came down and set up school; 
But, oh! how the Rebs did hate it,— 
    It was agin' their rule. 

Our masters always tried to hide 
    Book learning from our eyes; 
Knowledge didn't agree with slavery—
    'Twould make us all too wise. 

But some of us would try to steal 
    A little from the book, 
And put the words together, 
    And learn by hook or crook. 

I remember Uncle Caldwell, 
    Who took pot-liquor fat 
And greased the pages of his book, 
    And hid it in his hat. 

And had his master ever seen 
    The leaves up on his head, 
He'd have thought them greasy papers, 
    But nothing to be read. 

And there was Mr. Turner's Ben, 
    Who heard the children spell, 
And picked the words right up by heart, 
    And learned to read 'em well. 

Well, the Northern folks kept sending 
    The Yankee teachers down; 
And they stood right up and helped us, 
    Though Rebs did sneer and frown. 

And, I longed to read my Bible, 
    For precious words it said; 
But when I begun to learn it, 
    Folks just shook their heads, 

And said there is no use trying, 
    Oh! Chloe, you're too late; 
But as I was rising sixty, 
    I had no time to wait. 

So I got a pair of glasses, 
    And straight to work I went, 
And never stopped till I could read 
    The hymns and Testament. 

Then I got a little cabin—
    A place to call my own— 
And I felt as independent 
    As the queen upon her throne.

This poem is in the public domain.

Like a fawn from the arrow, startled and wild,
A woman swept by us, bearing a child;
In her eye was the night of a settled despair,
And her brow was o'ershaded with anguish and care.

She was nearing the river—in reaching the brink,
She heeded no danger, she paused not to think;
For she is a mother—her child is a slave—
And she'll give him his freedom, or find him a grave!

It was a vision to haunt us, that innocent face—
So pale in its aspect, so fair in its grace;
As the tramp of the horse and the bay of the hound,
With the fetters that gall, were trailing the ground!

She was nerv'd by despair, and strengthened by woe, 
As she leap'd o'er the chasms that yawn'd from below;
Death howl'd in the tempest, and rav'd in the blast, 
But she heard not the sound till the danger was past. 

Oh! how shall I speak of my proud country's shame?
Of the stains on her glory, how give them their name?
How say that her banner in mockery waves—
Her "star-spangled banner"—o'er millions of slaves?

How say that the lawless may torture and chase
A woman whose crime is the hue of her face?
How the depths of the forest my echo around
With the shrieks of despair, and they bay of the hound?

With her step on the ice, and her arm on her child,
The danger was fearful, the pathway was wild;
But, aided by Heaven, she gained a free shore,
Where the friends of humanity open'd their door.

So fragile and lovely, so fearfully pale, 
Like a lily that bends to the breath of the gale,
Save the heave of her breast, and the sway of her hair,
You'd have thought her a statue of fear and despair.

In agony close to her bosom she press'd 
The life of her heart, the child of her breast:—
Oh! love from its tenderness gathering might,
Had strengthen'd her soul for the dangers of flight.

But she's free!—yes, free from the land where the slave
From the hand of oppression must rest in the grave;
Where bondage and torture, where scourges and chains
Have place'd on our banner indelible stains.

The bloodhounds have miss'd the scent of her way;
The hunter is rifled and foil'd of his prey;
Fierce jargon and cursing, with clanking of chains,
Make sounds of strange discord on Liberty's plains.

With the rapture of love and fulness of bliss,
She plac'd on his brown a mother's fond kiss:—
Oh! poverty, danger and death she can brave,
For the child of her love is no longer a slave!

From Poems on Miscellaneous Subjects (Merrihew & Thompson, 1857) by Frances Ellen Watkins Harper. This poem is in the public domain. 

 

And what, in fact, is dignity? In those
Who have it pure, it is the soul’s repose, 
The base of character—no mere reserve 
That springs from pride, or want of mental nerve.
The dignity that wealth, or station, breeds, 
Or in the breast on base emotion feeds, 
Is easy weighed, and easy to be sized—A bastard virtue, much to be despised.

True dignity is like a summer tree. 
Beneath whose shade both beast, and bird, and bee,
When by the heated skies oppressed, may come,
And feel, in its magnificence, at home; 
Or rather like a mountain which forgets
Itself in its own greatness, and so lets 
Vast armies fuss and fight upon its sides,
While high in clouds its peaceful summit hides,
And from the voiceless crest of glistening snow, 
Pours trickling fatness on the fields below;
Repellant force, that daunts obtrusive wrong,
And woos the timid steps of right along;
And hence a garb which magistrates prepare,
When called to judge, and really seem to wear. 
In framing character on whate’er plan, 
‘Tis always needed to complete the man, 
The job quite done, and Dignity without, 
Is like an apple pie, the fruit left out. 

 

This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on November 3, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets.