‘In Love, if Love be Love, if Love be ours,
Faith and unfaith can ne’er be equal powers:
Unfaith in aught is want of faith in all.

    ‘It is the little rift within the lute,
That by and by will make the music mute,
And ever widening slowly silence all.

    ‘The little rift within the lover’s lute
Or little pitted speck in garnered fruit,
That rotting inward slowly moulders all.

    ‘It is not worth the keeping: let it go:
But shall it? answer, darling, answer, no.
And trust me not at all or all in all’.
 

This poem is in the public domain. 

I can never remake the thing I have destroyed;
   I brushed the golden dust from the moth’s bright wing,
I called down wind to shatter the cherry-blossoms,
   I did a terrible thing.

I feared that the cup might fall, so I flung it from me;
   I feared that the bird might fly, so I set it free;
I feared that the dam might break, so I loosed the river:
   May its waters cover me.

This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on May 12, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.

Hold your soul open for my welcoming.
Let the quiet of your spirit bathe me
With its clear and rippled coolness,
That, loose-limbed and weary, I find rest,
Outstretched upon your peace, as on a bed of ivory.

Let the flickering flame of your soul play all about me,
That into my limbs may come the keenness of fire,
The life and joy of tongues of flame,
And, going out from you, tightly strung and in tune,
I may rouse the blear-eyed world,
And pour into it the beauty which you have begotten.

This poem is in the public domain.

I love too much; I am a river
   Surging with spring that seeks the sea,
I am too generous a giver,
   Love will not stoop to drink of me.

His feet will turn to desert places
   Shadowless, reft of rain and dew,
Where stars stare down with sharpened faces
   From heavens pitilessly blue.

And there at midnight sick with faring
   He will stoop down in his desire
To slake the thirst grown past all bearing
   In stagnant water keen as fire.

This poem is in the public domain.

One night I wandered alone from my comrades’ huts;
The grasshoppers chirped softly
In the warm misty evening;
Bracken fronds beckoned from the darkness
With exquisite frail green fingers;
The tree gods muttered affectionately about me,
And from the distance came the grumble of a kindly train.

I was so happy to be alone,
So full of love for the great speechless earth,
That I could have laid my cheek in the wet grasses
And caressed with my lips the hard sinewy body
Of Earth, the cherishing mistress of bitter lovers. 

This poem is in the public domain.

Again the woods are odorous, the lark
Lifts on upsoaring wings the heaven gray
That hung above the tree-tops, veiled and dark,
Where branches bare disclosed the empty day.

After long rainy afternoons an hour
Comes with its shafts of golden light and flings
Them at the windows in a radiant shower,
And rain drops beat the panes like timorous wings.

Then all is still. The stones are crooned to sleep
By the soft sound of rain that slowly dies;
And cradled in the branches, hidden deep
In each bright bud, a slumbering silence lies.

This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on April 5, 2020, by the Academy of American Poets.

O day—if I could cup my hands and drink of you,
And make this shining wonder be
A part of me!
O day! O day!
You lift and sway your colors on the sky
Till I am crushed with beauty. Why is there
More of reeling sunlit air
Than I can breathe? Why is there sound
In silence? Why is a singing wound
About each hour?
And perfume when there is no flower?
O day! O Day! How may I press
Nearer to loveliness?

This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on March 22, 2020, by the Academy of American Poets.

I shall not lie to you any more,
    Flatter or fawn to attain my end—
I am what never has been before,
    Woman—and Friend.

I shall be strong as a man is strong,
    I shall be fair as a man is fair,
Hand in locked hand we shall pass along
    To a purer air:

I shall not drag at your bridle-rein,
    Knee pressed to knee shall we ride the hill;
I shall not lie to you ever again—
    Will you love me still?

This poem is in the public domain. 

When the heavens with stars are gleaming
   Like a diadem of light, 
And the moon’s pale rays are streaming, 
   Decking earth with radiance bright; 
When the autumn’s winds are sighing, 
   O’er the hill and o’er the lea, 
When the summer time is dying, 
   Wanderer, wilt thou think of me? 

When thy life is crowned with gladness, 
     And thy home with love is blest, 
Not one brow o’ercast with sadness, 
     Not one bosom of unrest—
When at eventide reclining, 
    At thy hearthstone gay and free, 
Think of one whose life is pining, 
    Breathe thou, love, a prayer for me. 

Should dark sorrows make thee languish, 
     Cause thy cheek to lose its hue, 
In the hour of deepest anguish, 
     Darling, then I’ll grieve with you. 
Though the night be dark and dreary, 
     And it seemeth long to thee, 
I would whisper, “be not weary;” 
   I would pray love, then, for thee. 

Well I know that in the future, 
    I may cherish naught of earth; 
Well I know that love needs nurture, 
    And it is of heavenly birth.
But though ocean waves may sever 
     I from thee, and thee from me, 
Still this constant heart will never, 
    Never cease to think of thee. 

This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on March 15, 2020, by the Academy of American Poets. 

A hint of gold where the moon will be; 
Through the flocking clouds just a star or two; 
Leaf sounds, soft and wet and hushed, 
And oh! the crying want of you. 

This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on February 23, 2020 by the Academy of American Poets.

The Dawn’s awake! 
   A flash of smoldering flame and fire
Ignites the East. Then, higher, higher, 
   O’er all the sky so gray, forlorn, 
The torch of gold is borne. 

The Dawn’s awake! 
  The dawn of a thousand dreams and thrills. 
And music singing in the hills 
   A pæen of eternal spring 
Voices the new awakening. 

The Dawn’s awake! 
     Whispers of pent-up harmonies, 
With the mingled fragrance of the trees; 
     Faint snaches of half-forgotten song—
Fathers! Torn and numb,—
   The boon of light we craved, awaited long, 
Has come, has come! 

This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on February 2, 2020, by the Academy of American Poets.

What kind of thoughts now, do you carry
   In your travels day by day
Are they bright and lofty visions, 
   Or neglected, gone astray?

Matters not how great in fancy, 
    Or what deeds of skill you’ve wrought; 
Man, though high may be his station, 
    Is no better than his thoughts. 

Catch your thoughts and hold them tightly, 
   Let each one an honor be; 
Purge them, scourge them, burnish brightly, 
   Then in love set each one free. 

This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on January 18, 2020, by the Academy of American Poets.

I almost met you
On a Saturday
In Gloucester.
The wind blew easterly.
There was a jar of mums
On a table near the window.

Their yellows were calling
To each other.

Place-names
Were put back
In the pencil drawer
Before I noticed your shadow.

Copyright © 2017 by Fanny Howe. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on June 2, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.

Farewell, sweetheart, and again farewell;
To day we part, and who can tell
     If we shall e'er again
Meet, and with clasped hands
Renew our vows of love, and forget
     The sad, dull pain.

Dear heart, 'tis bitter thus to lose thee
And think mayhap, you will forget me;
     And yet, I thrill
As I remember long and happy days
Fraught with sweet love and pleasant memories
     That linger still

You go to loved ones who will smile
And clasp you in their arms, and all the while
     I stay and moan
For you, my love, my heart and strive
To gather up life's dull, gray thread
     And walk alone.

Aye, with you love the red and gold
Goes from my life, and leaves it cold
     And dull and bare,
Why should I strive to live and learn
And smile and jest, and daily try
     You from my heart to tare?

Nay, sweetheart, rather would I lie
Me down, and sleep for aye; or fly
      To regions far
Where cruel Fate is not and lovers live
Nor feel the grim, cold hand of Destiny
      Their way to bar.

I murmur not, dear love, I only say
Again farewell. God bless the day
      On which we met,
And bless you too, my love, and be with you
In sorrow or in happiness, nor let you
      E'er me forget.
 

This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on January 11, 2020, by the Academy of American Poets.

Yesterday the fields were only grey with scattered snow,
And now the longest grass-leaves hardly emerge;
Yet her deep footsteps mark the snow, and go
On towards the pines at the hills’ white verge.

I cannot see her, since the mist’s white scarf
Obscures the dark wood and the dull orange sky;
But she’s waiting, I know, impatient and cold, half
Sobs struggling into her frosty sigh.

Why does she come so promptly, when she must know
That she’s only the nearer to the inevitable farewell;
The hill is steep, on the snow my steps are slow –
Why does she come, when she knows what I have to tell?

This poem is in the public domain.

A rough sound was polished until it became a smoother sound, which was polished until it became music. Then the music was polished until it became the memory of a night in Venice when tears of the sea fell from the Bridge of Sighs, which in turn was polished until it ceased to be and in its place stood the empty home of a heart in trouble. Then suddenly there was sun and the music came back and traffic was moving and off in the distance, at the edge of the city, a long line of clouds appeared, and there was thunder, which, however menacing, would become music, and the memory of what happened after Venice would begin, and what happened after the home of the troubled heart broke in two would also begin.

From Almost Invisible by Mark Strand. Copyright © 2012 by Mark Strand. Reprinted with permission of Knopf. All rights reserved.

You must not think that what I have 
accomplished through you

could have been accomplished by any other means.

Each of us is to himself
indelible. I had to become that which could not

be, by time, from human memory, erased.

I had to burn my hungry, unappeasable
furious spirit

so inconsolably into you

you would without cease
write to bring me rest.

Bring us rest. Guilt is fecund. I knew

nothing I made
myself had enough steel in it to survive.

I tried: I made beautiful
paintings, beautiful poems. Fluff. Garbage.

The inextricability of love and hate?

If I had merely made you
love me you could not have saved me.

Copyright © 2018 by Frank Bidart. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on January 22, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.

Dreamed the thong of my sandal broke.
Nothing to hold it to my foot.
How shall I walk?
	        Barefoot?
The sharp stones, the dirt. I would
hobble.
And– 
Where was I going?
Where was I going I can't
go to now, unless hurting?
Where am I standing, if I'm
to stand still now?

"The Broken Sandal" by Denise Levertov, from Poems 1968-1972, copyright © 1970 by Denise Levertov. Reprinted by permission of New Directions Publishing Corp.

          A little garden on a bleak hillside
           Where deep the heavy, dazzling mountain snow
           Lies far into the spring. The sun's pale glow
          Is scarcely able to melt patches wide
          About the single rose bush. All denied
           Of nature's tender ministries. But no, —
           For wonder-working faith has made it blow
          With flowers many hued and starry-eyed.
           Here sleeps the sun long, idle summer hours;
          Here butterflies and bees fare far to rove
           Amid the crumpled leaves of poppy flowers;
          Here four o'clocks, to the passionate night above
           Fling whiffs of perfume, like pale incense showers.
          A little garden, loved with a great love!

This poem is in the public domain. 

          The path runs straight between the flowering rows,
           A moonlit path, hemmed in by beds of bloom,
           Where phlox and marigolds dispute for room
          With tall, red dahlias and the briar rose.
          ’T is reckless prodigality which throws
           Into the night these wafts of rich perfume
           Which sweep across the garden like a plume.
          Over the trees a single bright star glows.
           Dear garden of my childhood, here my years
          Have run away like little grains of sand;
           The moments of my life, its hopes and fears
          Have all found utterance here, where now I stand;
           My eyes ache with the weight of unshed tears,
          You are my home, do you not understand?

This poem is in the public domain. 

Ah in the thunder air
how still the trees are!

And the lime-tree, lovely and tall, every leaf silent
hardly looses even a last breath of perfume.

And the ghostly, creamy coloured little tree of leaves
white, ivory white among the rambling greens
how evanescent, variegated elder, she hesitates on the green grass
as if, in another moment, she would disappear
with all her grace of foam!

And the larch that is only a column, it goes up too tall to see:
and the balsam-pines that are blue with the grey-blue blueness of
     things from the sea,
and the young copper beech, its leaves red-rosy at the ends
how still they are together, they stand so still
in the thunder air, all strangers to one another
as the green grass glows upwards, strangers in the silent garden.

                              Lichtental

From The Complete Poems of D. H. Lawrence, edited by V. De Sola Pinto & F. W. Roberts. Copyright © 1964, 1971 by Angela Ravagli and C. M. Weekly, Executors of the Estate of Frieda Lawrence Ravagli. Used by permission of Viking Penguin, a division of Penguin Books USA Inc.

Forget roadside crossings.
Go nowhere with guns.
Go elsewhere your own way,

lonely and wanting. Or
stay and be early:
next to deep woods

inhabit old orchards.
All clearings promise.
Sunrise is good,

and fog before sun.
Expect nothing always;
find your luck slowly.

Wait out the windfall.
Take your good time
to learn to read ferns;

make like a turtle:
downhill toward slow water.
Instructed by heron,

drink the pure silence.
Be compassed by wind.
If you quiver like aspen

trust your quick nature:
let your ear teach you
which way to listen.

You’ve come to assume
protective color; now
colors reform to

new shapes in your eye.
You’ve learned by now
to wait without waiting;

as if it were dusk
look into light falling:
in deep relief

things even out. Be
careless of nothing. See
what you see.

“How to See Deer,” from Lifelines by Philip Booth, copyright © 1999 by Philip Booth. Used by permission of Viking Penguin, a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune without the words,
And never stops at all,

And sweetest in the gale is heard;
And sore must be the storm
That could abash the little bird
That kept so many warm.

I've heard it in the chillest land,
And on the strangest sea;
Yet, never, in extremity,
It asked a crumb of me.

This poem is in the public domain.

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound's the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

This poem is in the public domain.

The late-afternoon light entered
the living room through the barred
windows like a boxer through ropes.

When my mom’s bronze Chevrolet
pulled down the driveway, I hurried
away my toys. She always waved,

never smiled. Funny how my dad
coming home isn’t a memory.
It was not joy when they got home

but relief. With his hand, my dad
warmed beer, and my mom, with
a fork, jabbed defrosted meat.

This was when she started calling
me Champ. At dinner, dad asked
if I wanted the belt. My memory

of those years is punch-drunk.
Her best defense was a good offense.
Like the warming before snow,

mom thawed into pleasantries.
After dinner my father sat on the floor
with his corduroy shorts riding up

his thighs while I put on boxing gloves
around his shadow. I floated, stung.
I rode his shoulders over crowds,

raised my arms. The oversized gloves
on my hands were smaller, lighter
than my want to punch him.

From Post Traumatic Hood Disorder (Sarabande Books, 2018). Copyright © 2018 by David Tomas Martinez. Used with the permission of the poet.

                                              One river gives
                                              Its journey to the next.

We give because someone gave to us.
We give because nobody gave to us.

We give because giving has changed us.
We give because giving could have changed us.

We have been better for it,
We have been wounded by it—

Giving has many faces: It is loud and quiet,
Big, though small, diamond in wood-nails.

Its story is old, the plot worn and the pages too,
But we read this book, anyway, over and again:

Giving is, first and every time, hand to hand,
Mine to yours, yours to mine.

You gave me blue and I gave you yellow.
Together we are simple green. You gave me

What you did not have, and I gave you
What I had to give—together, we made

Something greater from the difference.
 

Copyright © 2014 by Alberto Ríos. Used with permission of the author.

Patience is
wider than one
once envisioned,
with ribbons
of rivers
and distant 
ranges and 
tasks undertaken
and finished
with modest 
relish by
natives in their 
native dress.
Who would 
have guessed
it possible 
that waiting
is sustainable—
a place with 
its own harvests.
Or that in 
time's fullness
the diamonds 
of patience
couldn't be 
distinguished
from the genuine 
in brilliance
or hardness.

From Say Uncle by Kay Ryan, published by Grove Press. Copyright © 2000 by Kay Ryan. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Life, believe, is not a dream
So dark as sages say;
Oft a little morning rain
Foretells a pleasant day.
Sometimes there are clouds of gloom,
But these are transient all;
If the shower will make the roses bloom,
O why lament its fall?
Rapidly, merrily,
Life’s sunny hours flit by,
Gratefully, cheerily
Enjoy them as they fly!
What though Death at times steps in,
And calls our Best away?
What though sorrow seems to win,
O’er hope, a heavy sway?
Yet Hope again elastic springs,
Unconquered, though she fell;
Still buoyant are her golden wings,
Still strong to bear us well.
Manfully, fearlessly,
The day of trial bear,
For gloriously, victoriously,
Can courage quell despair!

This poem is in the public domain.

I have walked through many lives,
some of them my own,
and I am not who I was,
though some principle of being
abides, from which I struggle
not to stray.
When I look behind,
as I am compelled to look
before I can gather strength
to proceed on my journey,
I see the milestones dwindling
toward the horizon
and the slow fires trailing
from the abandoned camp-sites,
over which scavenger angels
wheel on heavy wings.
Oh, I have made myself a tribe
out of my true affections,
and my tribe is scattered!
How shall the heart be reconciled
to its feast of losses?
In a rising wind
the manic dust of my friends,
those who fell along the way,
bitterly stings my face.
Yet I turn, I turn,
exulting somewhat,
with my will intact to go
wherever I need to go,
and every stone on the road
precious to me.
In my darkest night,
when the moon was covered
and I roamed through wreckage,
a nimbus-clouded voice
directed me:
"Live in the layers,
not on the litter."
Though I lack the art
to decipher it,
no doubt the next chapter
in my book of transformations
is already written.
I am not done with my changes.

From The Collected Poems by Stanley Kunitz (W. W. Norton, 2000). Copyright © 1978 by Stanley Kunitz. Used by permission of W. W. Norton. All rights reserved. This poem appeared in Poem-a-Day on July 29, 2014.

Thank you my life long afternoon
late in this spring that has no age
my window above the river
for the woman you led me to
when it was time at last the words
coming to me out of mid-air
that carried me through the clear day
and come even now to find me
for old friends and echoes of them
those mistakes only I could make
homesickness that guides the plovers
from somewhere they had loved before
they knew they loved it to somewhere
they had loved before they saw it
thank you good body hand and eye
and the places and moments known
only to me revisiting
once more complete just as they are
and the morning stars I have seen
and the dogs who are guiding me

From Collected Poems 1996–2011 by W.S. Merwin. Copyright © 2013 by W. S. Merwin. Reprinted by permission of The Library of America.

Looking up at the stars, I know quite well
That, for all they care, I can go to hell,
But on earth indifference is the least
We have to dread from man or beast.

How should we like it were stars to burn
With a passion for us we could not return?
If equal affection cannot be,
Let the more loving one be me.

Admirer as I think I am
Of stars that do not give a damn,
I cannot, now I see them, say
I missed one terribly all day.

Were all stars to disappear or die,
I should learn to look at an empty sky
And feel its total dark sublime,
Though this might take me a little time.

From Homage to Clio by W. H. Auden, published by Random House. Copyright © 1960 W. H. Auden, renewed by the Estate of W. H. Auden. Used by permission of Curtis Brown, Ltd.

I found you and I lost you, 
   All on a gleaming day. 
The day was filled with sunshine,
   And the land was full of May. 

A golden bird was singing
   Its melody divine, 
I found you and I loved you, 
   And all the world was mine. 

I found you and I lost you, 
   All on a golden day, 
But when I dream of you, dear, 
   It is always brimming May.

This poem is in the public domain. 

Not that anyone would
notice it at first.
I have taken to marveling
at the trees in our park.
One thing I can tell you:
they are beautiful
and they know it.
They are also tired,
hundreds of years
stuck in one spot—
beautiful paralytics.
When I am under them,
they feel my gaze,
watch me wave my foolish
hand, and envy the joy
of being a moving target.

Loungers on the benches
begin to notice.
One to another,
"Well, you see all kinds..."
Most of them sit looking
down at nothing as if there
was truly nothing else to
look at until there is
that woman waving up
to the branching boughs
of these old trees. Raise your
heads, pals, look high,
you may see more than
you ever thought possible,
up where something might
be waving back, to tell her
she has seen the marvelous.

From Coming to That by Dorothea Tanning. Copyright © 2011 by Dorothea Tanning. Used with permission of Graywolf Press. All rights reserved.

The porch swing hangs fixed in a morning sun
that bleaches its gray slats, its flowered cushion
whose flowers have faded, like those of summer,
and a small brown spider has hung out her web
on a line between porch post and chain
so that no one may swing without breaking it.
She is saying it’s time that the swinging were done with,
time that the creaking and pinging and popping
that sang through the ceiling were past,
time now for the soft vibrations of moths,
the wasp tapping each board for an entrance,
the cool dewdrops to brush from her work
every morning, one world at a time.

From Flying at Night: Poems 1965-1985, by Ted Kooser, © 2005. Reprinted with permission of the University of Pittsburgh Press.