If you can keep your head when all about you
   Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
   But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
   Or, being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or, being hated, don’t give way to hating,
   And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise;

If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
   If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with triumph and disaster
   And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
   Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to broken,
   And stoop and build ’em up with wornout tools;

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
   And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
   And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
   To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
   Except the Will which says to them: “Hold on”;

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
   Or walk with kings—nor lose the common touch;
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
   If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run—
   Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!

This poem is in the public domain.

                The world is a beautiful place 
                                                           to be born into 
if you don’t mind happiness 
                                             not always being 
                                                                        so very much fun 
       if you don’t mind a touch of hell
                                                       now and then
                just when everything is fine
                                                             because even in heaven
                                they don’t sing 
                                                        all the time

             The world is a beautiful place
                                                           to be born into
       if you don’t mind some people dying
                                                                  all the time
                        or maybe only starving
                                                           some of the time
                 which isn’t half so bad
                                                      if it isn’t you

      Oh the world is a beautiful place
                                                          to be born into
               if you don’t much mind
                                                   a few dead minds
                    in the higher places
                                                    or a bomb or two
                            now and then
                                                  in your upturned faces
         or such other improprieties
                                                    as our Name Brand society
                                  is prey to
                                              with its men of distinction
             and its men of extinction
                                                   and its priests
                         and other patrolmen
                                                         and its various segregations
         and congressional investigations
                                                             and other constipations
                        that our fool flesh
                                                     is heir to

Yes the world is the best place of all
                                                           for a lot of such things as
         making the fun scene
                                                and making the love scene
and making the sad scene
                                         and singing low songs of having 
and walking around 
                                looking at everything
                                                                  and smelling flowers
and goosing statues
                              and even thinking 
                                                         and kissing people and
     making babies and wearing pants
                                                         and waving hats and
                                                and going swimming in rivers
                              on picnics
                                       in the middle of the summer
and just generally
                            ‘living it up’

   but then right in the middle of it
                                                    comes the smiling


From A Coney Island of the Mind, copyright ©1955 by Lawrence Ferlinghetti. Reprinted by permission of New Directions Publishing Corp.

You mirage a dead world
in the white pool.

White rush and silver rush at twitterlight
meet and desire as the shy boy
lifts from his lover.
White rush and silver rush at twitterlight
touch in the wind and sleep.

Duck-green and willow-silver . . .
has no wing touched your cheek?
Is there no bird
to weave a nest between your sullen limbs
and hatch a songster,
(amber with lizard eyes)
to chirp above your phrases: “Love, love, love . . .”

Your world dies from the surface of the pool.

Why are your hands not on the willow leaves
to feel the sharpness and the thin, soft flower?
To feel . . .
love wrinkle at the touch like a soft bird?

This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on June 26, 2022, by the Academy of American Poets.

She who was easy for any chance lover,
Whose frequent laugh rang flaccid and shrill;
She, finding death at last, the dazed fret over,
Lies here so oddly stern for once, and still.

Put her away, and put away with her
What she has now of harshness and strength,
She who was clay for any clumsy sculptor
Becomes inflexible; fixed of form at length.

She who would veer with any passing wind
Like a rusty vane with rickety ways,
She is aloof now, and seems—oh, so determined;
And that is the Paradise crowning her days.

From The Book of American Negro Poetry (Harcourt, Brace and Company, 1922), edited by James Weldon Johnson. This poem is in the public domain.

Only quiet death
Brings relief
From the wearisome
Of hope and grief.
O body
(Credulous heart
And dream-torn head),
What will wisdom be
Or folly—
When you lie dead?
Life-beaten body
Bruised and sore—
Neither hunger nor satiety
Are known beyond death’s door.

From The Book of American Negro Poetry (Harcourt, Brace and Company, 1922), edited by James Weldon Johnson. This poem is in the public domain.

We are given pain to balance every joy,
We tragic-eyed divinities in dust.
Many the hearts life bleeds with little wounds,
The souls bewildered between God and lust.

We know the way of pity and pity's pain;
We know the unlit, endless street called Doubt;
And few but walk a black way at the end,
The piteous, hope-lit candles dead, burned out.

Yet these are mortal wounds of mortal thorns:
What of the few who suffer deadlier scars?
They are worse wounded than any in the world
Who bruise their lifted heads against the stars.

From On a Grey Thread (Will Ransom, 1923) by Elsa Gidlow. This poem is in the public domain. 

Stars, turn from your courses,
Stars, stars, I want you,
Spill into my hands.
I have found a new loneliness,
A new strong loneliness,
That no one understands.
I know a new joy, stars,
A joy of the still peak,
The wonder of airs knife-sharp;
Stars, I have learned to know them,
I have learned the tongue they speak.
Stars, I can understand them,
All the words they say,
All the subtle things.
They teach me exaltation,
A new intoxication
Fine drawn as the music of harp-strings.
Alone … alone … alone …
Stars, I can hear my skin breathe,
Hear my blood beat.
How can flesh be so light,
Feet walk and touch nothing,
Thought become so fleet?
Time is a rhymeless poem
Without any end Written in space,
Here at the world’s summit
Where life-giving winds
Sharply whip one’s face.
Life is the one reality,
Life intensely realized,
Life wildly felt;
Death is an ungrasped dream,
A vague monstrous fable,
A puzzle still unspelt.
Alone … alone … alone …
No other thing that breathes
In this keen place.
O my new joy,
Joy of singing summits,
Of endless, vibrant space!
Stars, stars, stoop down,
Stars, turn from your courses,
Spill into my hands!
Stars, you are my kindred:
I am strong with a new loneliness
That no one understands.

From On a Grey Thread (Will Ransom, 1923) by Elsa Gidlow. This poem is in the public domain.