there are so many tictoc clocks everywhere telling people what toctic time it is for tictic instance five toc minutes toc past six tic Spring is not regulated and does not get out of order nor do its hands a little jerking move over numbers slowly we do not wind it up it has no weights springs wheels inside of its slender self no indeed dear nothing of the kind. (So,when kiss Spring comes we'll kiss each kiss other on kiss the kiss lips because tic clocks toc don't make a toctic difference to kisskiss you and to kiss me)
From erotic poems by E. E. Cummings. Copyright © 2010 by E. E. Cummings. Used by permission of W. W. Norton & Company, Inc..
What the Heart of the Young Man Said to the Psalmist
Tell me not, in mournful numbers,
"Life is but an empty dream!"
For the soul is dead that slumbers,
And things are not what they seem.
Life is real! Life is earnest!
And the grave is not its goal;
"Dust thou art, to dust returnest,"
Was not spoken of the soul.
Not enjoyment, and not sorrow,
Is our destined end or way;
But to act, that each to-morrow
Finds us farther than to-day.
Art is long, and Time is fleeting,
And our hearts, though stout and brave,
Still, like muffled drums, are beating
Funeral marches to the grave.
In the world's broad field of battle,
In the bivouac of Life,
Be not like dumb, driven cattle!
Be a hero in the strife!
Trust no Future, howe'er pleasant!
Let the dead Past bury its dead!
Act,--act in the living Present!
Heart within, and God o'erhead!
Lives of great men all remind us
We can make our lives sublime,
And, departing, leave behind us
Footprints on the sands of time;
Footprints, that perhaps another,
Sailing o'er life's solemn main,
A forlorn and shipwrecked brother,
Seeing, shall take heart again.
Let us, then, be up and doing,
With a heart for any fate;
Still achieving, still pursuing
Learn to labor and to wait.
This poem is in the public domain.
There are people who do not see a broken playground swing as a symbol of ruined childhood and there are people who don't interpret the behavior of a fly in a motel room as a mocking representation of their thought process. There are people who don't walk past an empty swimming pool and think about past pleasures unrecoverable and then stand there blocking the sidewalk for other pedestrians. I have read about a town somewhere in California where human beings do not send their sinuous feeder roots deep into the potting soil of others' emotional lives as if they were greedy six-year-olds sucking the last half-inch of milkshake up through a noisy straw; and other persons in the Midwest who can kiss without debating the imperialist baggage of heterosexuality. Do you see that creamy, lemon-yellow moon? There are some people, unlike me and you, who do not yearn after fame or love or quantities of money as unattainable as that moon; thus, they do not later have to waste more time defaming the object of their former ardor. Or consequently run and crucify themselves in some solitary midnight Starbucks Golgotha. I have news for you— there are people who get up in the morning and cross a room and open a window to let the sweet breeze in and let it touch them all over their faces and bodies.
From Unincorporated Persons in the Late Honda Dynasty. Copyright © 2010 by Tony Hoagland. Used with permission of Graywolf Press.
Lasciate ogni speranza Voi ch'entrate abandon all hope ye who enter here the inscription at the entrance to the inferno of Dante's Divine Comedy courage! behind that gate there is no hell hell has been dismantled by theologians and deep psychologists converted into allegory for humanitarian and educational reasons courage! behind that gate the same thing begins again two drunken grave-diggers sit at the edge of a hole they're drinking non-alcoholic beer and munching on sausage winking at us under the cross they play soccer with Adam's skull the hole awaits tomorrow's corpse the "stiff" is on its way courage! here we will await the final judgment water gathers in the hole cigarette butts are floating in it courage! behind that gate there will neither be history nor goodness nor poetry and what will there be dear stranger? there will be stones stone upon stone stone upon stone and on that stone one more stone
From Sobbing Superpower by Tadeusz Różewicz. Copyright © 2010 by Tadeusz Różewicz and Joanna Trzeciak. Used by permission of W. W. Norton & Company.
Life has loveliness to sell, All beautiful and splendid things, Blue waves whitened on a cliff, Soaring fire that sways and sings, And children's faces looking up Holding wonder in a cup. Life has loveliness to sell, Music like a curve of gold, Scent of pine trees in the rain, Eyes that love you, arms that hold, And for your spirit's still delight, Holy thoughts that star the night. Spend all you have for loveliness, Buy it and never count the cost; For one white singing hour of peace Count many a year of strife well lost, And for a breath of ecstacy Give all you have been, or could be.
This poem is in the public domain.