Nature’s first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf’s a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.

From The Poetry of Robert Frost edited by Edward Connery Lathem. Copyright © 1923, 1947, 1969 by Henry Holt and Company, copyright © 1942, 1951 by Robert Frost, copyright © 1970, 1975 by Lesley Frost Ballantine. Reprinted by permission of Henry Holt and Company, LLC.

Although the horror of the nightingale,
the holy nightingale who sings unheard,
invisible and strident in the gale
beyond the tree of stars, is just a word
or region of epistemology,
I wake to it like breakfast when my eye
of pus is washed to meet the ecstasy
of day. Horror is never far: the dry
biology of insect hope, the moth
trapping the moon, the wasp of solitude
amid the panting of the air, the cloth
of flying worms. And yet I always hear
the secret of the nightingale, deluding
me. Invisibly I’m almost here.

From Mexico In My Heart: New And Selected Poems (Carcanet, 2015) by Willis Barnstone. Copyright © 2015 by Willis Barnstone. Used with the permission of the author.

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of being and ideal grace.
I love thee to the level of every day’s
Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.
I love thee freely, as men strive for right.
I love thee purely, as they turn from praise.
I love thee with the passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood’s faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints. I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life; and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.

This poem is in the public domain.

Home is so sad. It stays as it was left,
Shaped to the comfort of the last to go
As if to win them back. Instead, bereft
Of anyone to please, it withers so,
Having no heart to put aside the theft

And turn again to what it started as,
A joyous shot at how things ought to be,
Long fallen wide. You can see how it was:
Look at the pictures and the cutlery.
The music in the piano stool. That vase.

From Collected Poems by Philip Larkin. Copyright © 1988, 2003 by the Estate of Philip Larkin. Reprinted by permission of Farrar, Straus and Giroux. All rights reserved.

My language has its own world 
where he doesn't know how to live,
but he should learn my language;
then he can call my mother to say
that I am dead. I drive too fast 
and someone else drives too fast 
and we crash on the icy road.
The death sweeps me away.
He can tell this to my mother 
if he learns my language. 
Her large yellow voice travels 
and hits his body, but at least she knows 
that I am dead, and if I die,
I want him to tell my mother 
with his deep voice shaking.

From Foreign Wife Elegy by Yuko Taniguchi. Copyright © 2004 by Yuko Taniguchi. Published by Coffee House Press. Used by permission of the publisher. All rights reserved.

after Naomi Shihab Nye

We on the sea cliff all
thrill at December’s licking
wind 

                        [[[call down a watery sky
                                    (a ritual) 
                        call on grasses stamped with Saturday shoes
                                    (a circle)
                        call up the kissing foam
                                    (a washing)
                        call to familia, mostly chosen,
                                                                        (a mending)]]]

and hover, for a time
in exquisite love.

My sister unfurls her golden kaftan, 
yokes our hearts’ zealous
champing

                        [[[calls upon the holy 
                                    (poetry)
                        calls upon our circle
                                    (familia)
                        calls upon our ancestors
                                    (saina)
                        calls upon the cosmos
                                                   (guma’)]]]
and sings

             It is difficult to know what to do with so much happiness

The winter sky sings 

                        my brother’s proud trembling 
                        jaw, your father’s bursting
                        radiant heart.

And you, zaytun of my heart, i asagua-hu.
You wrapped in tales of tatreez, your mother’s thobe.

My dress is made of water 
and invisible feathers dipped 
in moonlight.

I sing
                        [[[Halla. New moon. Sinåhi. Hagu I pilån-hu.

                        Let us keep each other safe and soothed and seen. 
                        Let us be in each other’s eyes and minds and guts. 
                        Let us tend our twining love so that it spirals, ever upward, 
                        ever outward, ever toward our shared home. 

The osprey overhead clutches a plump
gulping fish, anoints us with i tåsi.

                        I promise to always to hold you with patience, humility, and
                                   compassion. 

                        I promise to honor you, your ancestors, and your homeland as I
                                   honor my own. 

                        I promise to never stop fighting, until we see freedom for our
                                   lands and people. 

                        Let us share our struggles, along with our joys. 
                        Let us share our pain, along with our bliss. 
                        Let us share everything, together, i guinaiya-ku, 
                        sa’ tåya’ åmot para man guaiguaiya fuera di mas guinaiya’. 

                                                                 (Because there is no medicine for being in
                                                                            love, except for more love.)
]]]

Copyright © 2024 by Lehua M. Taitano. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on May 14, 2024, by the Academy of American Poets.