All can see, in the shining places,
Vestiges of her classic graces;
Where her footsteps, fleet and stark,
Have beautifully embossed the dark.
We know indeed, that the stately and golden
Antlers, hunters and heroes olden,
Wood-nymph, satyr, and sylvan faun.—
Goddess and stag, are gone!—all gone!
But still,—as strange as it may appear,—
Sometimes when the nights are bright and clear,
The long-breathed hounds are heard to bay
Over the hills and far away!
And lovers who walk at Love’s high Noon,
See something flash in the light of the moon,
As a shining stag swept through the sky,
And the chase of the goddess were up, on high.
But be this as it may, in sooth,
It is only in the pursuit of Truth,
That the Soul shall overtake and possess
The most exalted Happiness.
This poem is in the public domain. This poem appeared in Poem-a-Day on July 27, 2014.
Not because of victories I sing, having none, but for the common sunshine, the breeze, the largess of the spring. Not for victory but for the day's work done as well as I was able; not for a seat upon the dais but at the common table.
From The Complete Poems of Charles Reznikoff. Copyright © 1976 by Charles Reznikoff. Used by permission of Black Sparrow Press, an imprint of David R. Godine, Publisher, Inc.
munching a plum on the street a paper bag of them in her hand They taste good to her They taste good to her. They taste good to her You can see it by the way she gives herself to the one half sucked out in her hand Comforted a solace of ripe plums seeming to fill the air They taste good to her
From Collected Poems: 1939-1962, Volume II by William Carlos Williams, published by New Directions Publishing Corp. © 1962 by William Carlos Williams. Reprinted by permission of New Directions Publishing Corp.
If when my wife is sleeping and the baby and Kathleen are sleeping and the sun is a flame-white disc in silken mists above shining trees,— if I in my north room dance naked, grotesquely before my mirror waving my shirt round my head and singing softly to myself: "I am lonely, lonely, I was born to be lonely, I am best so!" If I admire my arms, my face, my shoulders, flanks, buttocks against the yellow drawn shades,— Who shall say I am not the happy genius of my household?
Copyright © 1962 by William Carlos Williams. Used with permission of New Directions Publishing Corporation. All rights reserved. No part of this poem may be reproduced in any form without the written consent of the publisher.
We don't see the ocean, not ever, but in July and August when the worst heat seems to rise from the hard clay of this valley, you could be walking through a fig orchard when suddenly the wind cools and for a moment you get a whiff of salt, and in that moment you can almost believe something is waiting beyond the Pacheco Pass, something massive, irrational, and so powerful even the mountains that rise east of here have no word for it. You probably think I'm nuts saying the mountains have no word for ocean, but if you live here you begin to believe they know everything. They maintain that huge silence we think of as divine, a silence that grows in autumn when snow falls slowly between the pines and the wind dies to less than a whisper and you can barely catch your breath because you're thrilled and terrified. You have to remember this isn't your land. It belongs to no one, like the sea you once lived beside and thought was yours. Remember the small boats that bobbed out as the waves rode in, and the men who carved a living from it only to find themselves carved down to nothing. Now you say this is home, so go ahead, worship the mountains as they dissolve in dust, wait on the wind, catch a scent of salt, call it our life.
Copyright © 2009 by Philip Levine. Reprinted from News of the World with the permission of Alfred A. Knopf, Inc.
When a human is asked about a particular fire,
she comes close:
then it is too hot,
so she turns her face—
and that’s when the forest of her bearable life appears,
always on the other side of the fire. The fire
she’s been asked to tell the story of,
she has to turn from it, so the story you hear
is that of pines and twitching leaves
and how her body is like neither—
all the while there is a fire
at her back
which she feels in fine detail,
as if the flame were a dremel
and her back its etching glass.
You will not know all about the fire
simply because you asked.
When she speaks of the forest
this is what she is teaching you,
you who thought you were her master.
Copyright @ 2014 by Katie Ford. Used with permission of the author. This poem appeared in Poem-a-Day on May 14, 2014.
Sometimes I wish I drank coffee or smoked Marlboros, or maybe cigars-- yes, a hand-rolled Havana cigar in its thick, manly wrapping, . . . and I'd be writing about war and old losses-- man things--and not where I am, in this pristine and sensitive vessel, all fizzy water, reticence, and care, all reduced fat and purified air, behind my deprived computer, where I can't manage even a decaf cap, a mild Tiparillo, a glass of great-taste-less-filling light beer.
From Long for This World: New and Selected Poems by Ronald Wallace. Copyright © 2003 by Ronald Wallace. Used by permission of the University of Pittsburgh Press. All rights reserved.
A month at least before the bloom
and already five bare-limbed cherries
by the highway ringed in a haze
of incipient fire
—middle of the afternoon,
a faint pink-bronze glow. Some things
wear their becoming:
the night we walked,
nearly strangers, from a fevered party
to the corner where you’d left your motorcycle,
afraid some rough wind might knock it to the curb,
you stood on the other side
of the upright machine, other side
of what would be us, and tilted your head
toward me over the wet leather seat
while you strapped your helmet on,
engineer boots firm on the black pavement.
Did we guess we’d taken the party’s fire with us,
somewhere behind us that dim apartment
cooling around its core like a stone?
Can you know, when you’re not even a bud
but a possibility poised at some brink?
Of course we couldn’t see ourselves,
though love’s the template and rehearsal
of all being, something coming to happen
where nothing was…
But just now
I thought of a troubled corona of new color,
visible echo, and wondered if anyone
driving in the departing gust and spatter
on Seventh Avenue might have seen
the cloud breathed out around us
as if we were a pair
of—could it be?—soon-to-flower trees.
Copyright @ 2014 by Mark Doty. Used with permission of the author. This poem appeared in Poem-a-Day on June 2, 2014.
And they will gather by the well, its dark water a mirror to catch whatever stars slide by in the slow precession of the skies, the tilting dome of time, over all, a light mist like a scrim, and here and there some clouds that will open at the last and let the moon shine through; it will be at the wheel's turning, when three zeros stand like paw-prints in the snow; it will be a crescent moon, and it will shine up from the dark water like a silver hook without a fish--until, as we lean closer, swimming up from the well, something dark but glowing, animate, like live coals-- it is our own eyes staring up at us, as the moon sets its hook; and they, whose dim shapes are no more than what we will become, take up their long-handled dippers of brass, and one by one, they catch the moon in the cup-shaped bowls, and they raise its floating light to their lips, and with it, they drink back our eyes, burning with desire to see into the gullet of night: each one dips and drinks, and dips, and drinks, until there is only dark water, until there is only the dark.
From The Girl with Bees in Her Hair by Eleanor Rand Wilner. Copyright © 2004 by Eleanor Rand Wilner. Used by permission of Copper Canyon Press, www.coppercanyonpress.org. All rights reserved.