“A bird of the air shall carry the voice, and that which hath wings shall tell the matter.”
At the dead of night by the side of the Sea
I met my gray-haired enemy,—
The glittering light of his serpent eye
Was all I had to see him by.
At the dead of the night, and stormy weather
We went into a cave together, –
Into a cave by the side of the Sea,
And—he never came out with me!
The flower that up through the April mould
Comes like a miser dragging his gold,
Never made spot of earth so bright
As was the ground in the cave that night.
Dead of night, and stormy weather!
Who should see us going together
Under the black and dripping stone
Of the cave from when I came alone!
Next day as my boy sat on my knee
He picked the gray hairs off from me,
And told with eyes brimful of fear
How a bird in the meadow near
Over her clay-built nest had spread
Sticks and leaves all bloody red,
Brought from a cave by the side of the Sea
Where some murdered man must be.
This poem is in the public domain.
There is music, deep and solemn
Floating through the vaulted arch
When, in many an angry column,
Clouds take up their stormy march:
O’er the ocean billows, heaping
Mountains on the sloping sands,
There are ever wildly sweeping
Shapeless and invisible hands.
Echoes full of truth and feeling
From the olden bards sublime,
Are, like spirits, brightly stealing
Through the broken walls of time.
The universe, that glorious palace,
Thrills and trembles as they float,
Like the little blossom’s chalice
With the humming of the mote.
On the air, as birds in meadows—
Sweet embodiments of song—
Leave their bright fantastic shadows
Trailing goldenly along.
Till, aside our armor laying,
We like prisoners depart,
In the soul is music playing
To the beating of the heart.
This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on January 19, 2020, by the Academy of American Poets.
Light breaks where no sun shines;
Where no sea runs, the waters of the heart
Push in their tides;
And, broken ghosts with glow-worms in their heads,
The things of light
File through the flesh where no flesh decks the bones.
A candle in the thighs
Warms youth and seed and burns the seeds of age;
Where no seed stirs,
The fruit of man unwrinkles in the stars,
Bright as a fig;
Where no wax is, the candle shows its hairs.
Dawn breaks behind the eyes;
From poles of skull and toe the windy blood
Slides like a sea;
Nor fenced, nor staked, the gushers of the sky
Spout to the rod
Divining in a smile the oil of tears.
Night in the sockets rounds,
Like some pitch moon, the limit of the globes;
Day lights the bone;
Where no cold is, the skinning gales unpin
The winter's robes;
The film of spring is hanging from the lids.
Light breaks on secret lots,
On tips of thought where thoughts smell in the rain;
When logics dies,
The secret of the soil grows through the eye,
And blood jumps in the sun;
Above the waste allotments the dawn halts.
From The Poems of Dylan Thomas, published by New Directions. Copyright © 1952, 1953 Dylan Thomas. Copyright © 1937, 1945, 1955, 1962, 1966, 1967 the Trustees for the Copyrights of Dylan Thomas. Copyright © 1938, 1939, 1943, 1946, 1971 New Directions Publishing Corp. Used with permission.
Very quick. Very intense, like a wolf
at a live heart, the sun breaks down.
What is important is to avoid
the time allotted for disavowels
as the livid wound
leaves a trace leaves an abscess
takes its contraction for those clouds
that dip thunder & vanish
like rose leaves in closed jars.
Age approaches, slowly. But it cannot
crystal bone into thin air.
The small hours open their wounds for me.
This is a woman's confession:
I keep this wolf because the wilderness gave it to me.
Sources: [Anne Sexton, Dylan Thomas, Larry Levis, Ingeborg Bachmann, Octavio Paz, Henri Michaux, Agnes Nemes Nagy, Joyce Mansour, William Burroughs, Meret Oppenheim, Mary Low, Adrienne Rich, Carl Sandburg]
Copyright © 2011 by Simone Muench. Used with permission of the author.
translated by Alejandro Cáceres Joseph
In the bosom of the sad evening
I called upon your sorrow… Feeling it was
Feeling your heart as well. You were pale
Even your voice, your waxen eyelids,
Lowered… and remained silent… You seemed
To hear death passing by… I who had opened
Your wound bit on it—did you feel me?—
As into the gold of a honeycomb I bit!
I squeezed even more treacherously, sweetly
Your heart mortally wounded,
By the cruel dagger, rare and exquisite,
Of a nameless illness, until making it bleed in sobs!
And the thousand mouths of my damned thirst
I offered to that open fountain in your suffering.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Why was I your vampire of bitterness?
Am I a flower or a breed of an obscure species
That devours sores and gulps tears?
En el regazo de la tarde triste
Yo invoqué tu dolor… Sentirlo era
Sentirte el corazón! Palideciste
Hasta la voz, tus párpados de cera,
Bajaron… y callaste… y pareciste
Oír pasar la Muerte… Yo que abriera
Tu herida mordí en ella —¿me sentiste? —
Como en el oro de un panal mordiera!
Y exprimí más, traidora, dulcemente
Tu corazón herido mortalmente,
Por la cruel daga rara y exquisita
De un mal sin nombre, hasta sangrarlo en llanto!
Y las mil bocas de mi sed maldita
Tendí á esa fuente abierta en tu quebranto.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
¿Por qué fui tu vampiro de amargura?…
¿Soy flor ó estirpe de una especie obscura
Que come llagas y que bebe el llanto?
From Selected Poetry of Delmira Agustini: Poetics of Eros, published by Southern Illinois University Press. Translation copyright and selection © 2003 by Alejandro Cáceres. This poem appeared in Poem-a-Day on October 31, 2020.
I reconcile myself to need. To wanting stinging, aptest, seigneurial, pugnacious, handsome as always cracking wise in my blood things, I think—by pulp supply of roots or tearing teeth, and/or ardor for what I vow against but carry always like my secret self, the bitten bride, to rat-consecrated, moon-wharf glum's glee in gotten-up peignoir dripping not daisies but rotten, long-aborning lickable black roses, the smaller the better to hide my privacy in: it's pretty good getting, that bite I flirt but never stick my neck out for. Yes, Your Woundship. Would a quibble count? Just one lick? Damn me. Then, back into the bidden, unblessed dark with you, my tiny prince of dirty comity. Sin simulacrum.
From American Fanatics, published by University of Pittsburgh Press. Copyright © 2011 by Dorothy Baressi. Used by permission of the publisher.
From The Poems of Madison Cawein: Volume V: Poems of Meditation and of Forest and Field (Small, Maynard & Company, 1907) by Madison Julius Cawein. This poem is in the public domain.
Hold fast to dreams
For if dreams die
Life is a broken-winged bird
That cannot fly.
Hold fast to dreams
For when dreams go
Life is a barren field
Frozen with snow.
From The Collected Poems of Langston Hughes published by Alfred A. Knopf/Vintage. Copyright © 1994 by the Estate of Langston Hughes. Reprinted by permission of Harold Ober Associates Incorporated. All rights reserved.
Love, if I weep it will not matter,
And if you laugh I shall not care;
Foolish am I to think about it,
But it is good to feel you there.
Love, in my sleep I dreamed of waking, —
White and awful the moonlight reached
Over the floor, and somewhere, somewhere,
There was a shutter loose, —it screeched!
Swung in the wind, — and no wind blowing! —
I was afraid, and turned to you,
Put out my hand to you for comfort, —
And you were gone! Cold, cold as dew,
Under my hand the moonlight lay!
Love, if you laugh I shall not care,
But if I weep it will not matter, —
Ah, it is good to feel you there!
This poem is in the public domain.