after Linda Hogan

Nothing wants to suffer. Not the wind
as it scrapes itself against the cliff. Not the cliff

being eaten, slowly, by the sea. The earth does not want
to suffer the rough tread of those who do not notice it.

The trees do not want to suffer the axe, nor see
their sisters felled by root rot, mildew, rust. 

The coyote in its den. The puma stalking its prey.
These, too, want ease and a tender animal in the mouth

to take their hunger. An offering, one hopes, 
made quickly, and without much suffering.

The chair mourns an angry sitter. The lamp, a scalded moth.
A table, the weight of years of argument.

We know this, though we forget.

Not the shark nor the tiger, fanged as they are.
Nor the worm, content in its windowless world

of soil and stone. Not the stone, resting in its riverbed.
The riverbed, gazing up at the stars.

Least of all, the stars, ensconced in their canopy,
looking down at all of us— their offspring—

scattered so far beyond reach.

Copyright © 2021 by Danusha Laméris. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on April 9, 2021, by the Academy of American Poets.

Did not I remember that my hair is grey
    With only a fringe of it left,
I’d follow your footsteps from wee break of day
    Till night was of moon-light bereft.

Your eyes wondrous fountains of joy and of youth
    Remind me of days long since flown,
My sweetheart, I led to the altar of truth,
    But then the gay spring was my own.

Now winter has come with its snow and its wind
    And made me as bare as its trees,
Oh, yes, I still love, but it’s only in mind,
    For I’m fast growing weak at the knees.

Your voice is as sweet as the song of a bird, 
    Your manners are those of the fawn,
I dream of you, darling,—oh, pardon, that word,
    From twilight to breaking of dawn.

Your name in this missive you’ll search for in vain,
    Nor mine at the finis, I’ll fling,
For winter must suffer the bliss and the pain 
In secret for loving the spring.

This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on April 3, 2021, by the Academy of American Poets.

Oh, solitude, where is the sting,
    That men ascribe to thee?
Where is the terror in thy mien?
    I look, but cannot see.

Where hidest thou, that loneliness
    The world pretends to fear?
While lying on thy loving breast
    I find my sweetest cheer.

They do not understand thee, no,
    They are but knaves or fools,
Or else they must discern in thee
    Dame Nature’s queen of schools.

For in thy care, with naught but books,
    The bards and saints of old,
Become my friends and to mine ear
    Their mystic truths unfold.

When problems and perplexities
    Of life becloud my mind,
I know in thee, oh, solitude,
    The answer I can find.

When grief and sorrow crowd my heart
    To breaking, with their fears
Within thy arms, oh, solitude,
    I find relief in tears.

And when I weary of the world’s
    Deceits and cares and strife,
I find in thee sweet rest and peace
    And vigorous new life.

My garden never is complete
    Without a blooming rose,
Nor is my life, oh, solitude,
    Without thy sweet repose.

This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on August 1, 2020 by the Academy of American Poets.

After the winter rain, 
   Sing, robin! Sing, swallow!
Grasses are in the lane, 
   Buds and flowers will follow.

Woods shall ring, blithe and gay,
   With bird-trill and twitter,
Though the skies weep to-day, 
   And the winds are bitter. 

Though deep call unto deep
   As calls the thunder, 
And white the billows leap
   The tempest under;

Softly the waves shall come
   Up the long, bright beaches, 
With dainty, flowers of foam
   And tenderest speeches…

After the wintry pain, 
   And the long, long sorrow, 
Sing, heart!—for thee again
   Joy comes with the morrow.

This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on March 21, 2021, by the Academy of American Poets.

A swift, successive chain of things,
That flash, kaleidoscope-like, now in, now out,
Now straight, now eddying in wild rings,
No order, neither law, compels their moves,
But endless, constant, always swiftly roves.

This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on February 28, 2021, by the Academy of American Poets.

Stay, season of calm love and soulful snows!
There is a subtle sweetness in the sun,
The ripples on the stream’s breast gaily run,
The wind more boisterously by me blows,
And each succeeding day now longer grows.
The birds a gladder music have begun,
The squirrel, full of mischief and of fun,
From maple’s topmost branch the brown twig throws.
I read these pregnant signs, know what they mean:
I know that thou art making ready to go.
Oh stay! I fled a land where fields are green
Always, and palms wave gently to and fro,
And winds are balmy, blue brooks ever sheen,
To ease my heart of its impassioned woe.

This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on February 21, 2021, by the Academy of American Poets.

Nature’s first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf’s a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.

From The Poetry of Robert Frost edited by Edward Connery Lathem. Copyright © 1923, 1947, 1969 by Henry Holt and Company, copyright © 1942, 1951 by Robert Frost, copyright © 1970, 1975 by Lesley Frost Ballantine. Reprinted by permission of Henry Holt and Company, LLC.

And a woman who held a babe against her bosom said, Speak to us of Children.
     And he said:
     Your children are not your children.
     They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
     They come through you but not from you,
     And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

     You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
     For they have their own thoughts.
     You may house their bodies but not their souls,
     For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
     You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.
     For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
     You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.
     The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, and He bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far.
     Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness;
     For even as He loves the arrow that flies, so He loves also the bow that is stable.

From The Prophet (Knopf, 1923). This poem is in the public domain.

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

From The Poetry of Robert Frost by Robert Frost, edited by Edward Connery Lathem. Copyright 1916, 1923, 1928, 1930, 1934, 1939, 1947, 1949, © 1969 by Holt Rinehart and Winston, Inc. Copyright 1936, 1942, 1944, 1945, 1947, 1948, 1951, 1953, 1954, © 1956, 1958, 1959, 1961, 1962 by Robert Frost. Copyright © 1962, 1967, 1970 by Leslie Frost Ballantine.

 

Home is so sad. It stays as it was left,
Shaped to the comfort of the last to go
As if to win them back. Instead, bereft
Of anyone to please, it withers so,
Having no heart to put aside the theft

And turn again to what it started as,
A joyous shot at how things ought to be,
Long fallen wide. You can see how it was:
Look at the pictures and the cutlery.
The music in the piano stool. That vase.

From Collected Poems by Philip Larkin. Copyright © 1988, 2003 by the Estate of Philip Larkin. Reprinted by permission of Farrar, Straus and Giroux. All rights reserved.

I will not walk in the wood to-night,
I will not stand by the water’s edge
And see day lie on the dusk’s bright ledge
Until it turn, a star at its breast,
To rest.

I will not see the wide-flung hills
Closing darkly about my grief,
I wore a crown of their lightest leaf,
But now they press like a cold, blue ring,
Imprisoning.

I dare not meet that caroling blade,
Jauntily drawn in the sunset pine,
Stabbing me with its thrust divine,
Knowing my naked, aching need,
Till I bleed.

Sheathe your song, invincible bird,
Strike not at me with that flashing note,
Have pity, have pity, persistent throat,
Deliver me not to your dread delight
To-night!

I am afraid of the creeping wood,
I am afraid of the furtive trees,
Hiding behind them, memories,
Ready to spring, to clutch, to tear,
Wait for me there.

This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on March 10, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.

I wonder about the trees. 
Why do we wish to bear 
Forever the noise of these 
More than another noise 
So close to our dwelling place?
We suffer them by the day 
Till we lose all measure of pace, 
And fixity in our joys, 
And acquire a listening air. 
They are that that talks of going      
But never gets away; 
And that talks no less for knowing, 
As it grows wiser and older, 
That now it means to stay. 
My feet tug at the floor
And my head sways to my shoulder 
Sometimes when I watch trees sway, 
From the window or the door. 
I shall set forth for somewhere, 
I shall make the reckless choice
Some day when they are in voice 
And tossing so as to scare 
The white clouds over them on. 
I shall have less to say, 
But I shall be gone.

This poem is in the public domain.