Some things are very dear to me—
Such things as flowers bathed by rain
Or patterns traced upon the sea
Or crocuses where snow has lain ...
the iridescence of a gem,
The moon’s cool opalescent light,
Azaleas and the scent of them,
And honeysuckles in the night.
And many sounds are also dear—
Like winds that sing among the trees
Or crickets calling from the weir
Or Negroes humming melodies.
But dearer far than all surmise
Are sudden tear-drops in your eyes.

This poem is in the public domain.

I stand at my window and listen;
Only the plaintive murmur of a swarm of cicadas.
I stand on the wet grass and ponder,
And turn to the east and behold you,
Great yellow moon.
Why do you frighten me so,
You captive of the coconut glade?
I have seen you before,
Have flirted with you so many a night.

When my heart, ever throbbing, never listless,
Had pined for the moonlight to calm it.
But you were a dainty whiteness
That kissed my brow then.
A gentle, pale flutter
That touched my aching breast.

You are a lonely yellow moon now.
You are ghastly, spectral tonight,
Behind your prison bars of coconut trees.
That is why
I do not dare take you into my hand
And press you against my cheek
To feel how cold you are.

I am afraid of you, yellow moon.

This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on May 20, 2023, by the Academy of American Poets.

A light, serene, ethereal glory rests
Its beams effulgent on each crestling wave;
The silver touches of the moonlight wave
The deep bare bosom that the breeze molests;
While lingering whispers deepen as the wavy crests
Roll with weird rhythm, now gay, now gently grave;
And floods of lambent light appear the sea to pave—
All cast a spell that heeds not time’s behests.

Not always such the scene; the din of fight
Has swelled the murmur of the peaceful air;
Here East and West have oft displayed their might;
Dark battle clouds have dimmed this scene so fair;
Here bold Olympia, one historic night,
Presaging freedom, claimed a people’s care.

This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on May 21, 2023, by the Academy of American Poets.

A diamond of a morning
     Waked me an hour too soon;
Dawn had taken in the stars
     And left the faint white moon.
O white moon, you are lonely,
     It is the same with me,
But we have the world to roam over,
     Only the lonely are free.

This poem is in the public domain.

As a boy, Theodore, you sat for long hours
On the shore of the turbid Spoon
With deep-set eye staring at the door of the crawfish’s burrow,
Waiting for him to appear, pushing ahead,
First his waving antennae, like straws of hay,
And soon his body, colored like soap-stone,
Gemmed with eyes of jet.
And you wondered in a trance of thought
What he knew, what he desired, and why he lived at all.
But later your vision watched for men and women
Hiding in burrows of fate amid great cities,
Looking for the souls of them to come out,
So that you could see
How they lived, and for what,
And why they kept crawling so busily
Along the sandy way where water fails
As the summer wanes.

This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on August 19, 2023, by the Academy of American Poets.

translated from the Spanish by Thomas Walsh and Salomón de la Selva

In the pale afternoon the clouds go by
Aimlessly roving in the quiet sky.
His head between his hands, the dreamer weaves
His dream of clouds and Autumn-colored leaves.
Ah, his intimate sorrow, his long sighs,
And the glad radiance that has dimmed his eyes!
And all the tender glances, the blond tresses,
The rose hands over-brimming with caresses,
The sudden faces smiling everywhere
In the gold-dusted curtains of the air!

In the pale afternoon
A friendly faerie maiden comes to me
And tells me tales of many a secret thing
Fraught with the spell and music of the moon,
And I have learned what wonder the birds sing,
And what the breezes bring over the sea,
All that lies hidden in the mist or gleams,
A floating presence, in a young girl’s dreams.

And once the thirst of infinite desire
Possessed me like a fever, and I said,
“I want to feel all radiance, fragrance, fire
And joy of life within me, to inspire
My soul forever!” And the faerie maid
Called me to follow her, and when she spoke
It was as if a harp to the soft stroke
Of loving hands had wakened suddenly:
She syllabled hope’s language, calling me.

Oh, thirst for the ideal! From the height
Of a great mountain forested with night
She showed me all the stars and told their names;
It was a golden garden wherein grows
The fleur-de-lys of heaven, leaved with flames.
And I cried, “More!” and then the dawn arose.

The dawn came blushing; on her forehead beamed
Delicate splendor, and to me it seemed
A girl that, opening her casement, sees
Her lover watching her, and with surprise
Reddens but cannot hide her from his eyes.

And I cried, “More!” The faerie maiden smiled
And called the flowers, and the flowers were
Lovely and fresh and moist with essences,—
The virgin rose that in the woods grows wild,
The gentle lily tall and shy and fair,
The daisy glad and timid as a child,
Poppies and marigolds, and all the rare
Blossoms that freight with dreams the evening air.

But I cried, “More!” And then the winds brushed by
Bearing the laughter of the world, the cry
Of all glad lovers in the woods of Spring,
And echoes, and all pleasant murmuring
Of rustling leaf or southward-flying bird,
Unworded songs and musics never heard.
The faerie maiden, smiling, led me where
The sky is stretched over the world, above
Our heights and depths of hoping and despair,
Beyond the reach of singing and of love.
And then she tore the veil. And I saw there
That all was dawn. And in the deeps there beamed
A woman’s Face radiant exceedingly.—
Ah, never, Muses, never could ye say
The holy joyance that enkindled me!—
“More? . . .” said the faerie in her laughing way;
But I saw the Face only. And I dreamed.





Eros, Vita, Lumen

    En las pálidas tardes
yerran nubes tranquilas
en el azul; en las ardientes manos
se posan las cabezas pensativas.
¡Ah los suspiros! ¡Ah los dulces sueños!
¡Ah las tristezas íntimas!
¡Ah el polvo de oro que en el aire flota,
tras cuyas ondas trémulas se miran
los ojos tiernos y húmedos,
las bocas inundadas de sonrisas,
las crespas cabelleras
y los dedos de rosa que acarician!

   En las pálidas tardes
me cuenta un hada amiga
las historias secretas
llenas de poesía;
lo que cantan los pájaros,
lo que llevan las brisas,
lo que vaga en las nieblas,
lo que sueñan las niñas.

   Una vez sentí el ansia
de una sed infinita.
Dije al hada amorosa:
—Quiero en el alma mía
tener la inspiración honda, profunda,
inmensa: luz, calor, aroma, vida.
Ella me dijo:—¡Ven! con el acento
con que hablaría un arpa. En él había
un divino aroma de esperanza.
¡Oh sed del ideal!

                       Sobre la cima
de un monté, á media noche,
me mostró las estrellas encendidas.
Era un jardín de oro
con pétalos de llama que titilan.
Exclamé:—Más . . .

                       La aurora
vino después. La aurora sonreía,
con la luz en la frente,
como la joven tímida
que abre la reja, y la sorprenden luego
ciertas curiosas, mágicas pupilas.
Y dije:—Más . . . sonriendo
la celeste hada amiga
prorrumpió:—¡Y bien! ¡Las flores!

                       Y las flores
estaban frescas, lindas,
empapadas de olor: la rosa virgen,
la blanca margarita,
la azucena gentil y las volúbiles
que cuelgan de la rama estremecida.
Y dije:—Más . . .

                       El viento
arrastraba rumores, ecos, risas,
murmullos misteriosos, aleteos,
músicas nunca oídas.
El hada entonces me llevó hasta el velo
que nos cubre las ansias infinitas,
la inspiración profunda
y el alma de las liras.
Y los rasgó. Y allí todo era aurora.
En el fondo se vía
un bello rostro de mujer.

                       ¡Oh; nunca,
   Piérides, diréis las sacras dichas
que en el alma sintiera!
Con su vaga sonrisa:—
—¿Más? . . .—dijo el hada.—Y yo tenía entonces,
clavadas las pupilas

This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on October 1, 2023, by the Academy of American Poets.

‘Tis the last rose of Summer,
   Left blooming alone;
All her lovely companions
   Are faded and gone;
No flower of her kindred,
   No rose-bud is nigh,
To reflect back her blushes
   Or give sigh for sigh!

I’ll not leave thee, thou lone one,
   To pine on the stem;
Since the lovely are sleeping,
   Go sleep thou with them.
Thus kindly I scatter
   Thy leaves o’er the bed
Where thy mates of the garden
   Lie scentless and dead.

So soon may I follow,
   When friendships decay,
And from Love’s shining circle
   The gems drop away!
When true hearts lie withered,
   And fond ones are flown,
Oh! who would inhabit
   This bleak world alone?

This poem is in the public domain.

Sweet pink of northern wood and glen,
E’er first to greet the eyes of men
In early spring,—a tender flower
Whilst still the wintry wind hath power.
How welcome, in the sunny glade,
Or hazel copse, thy pretty head
Oft peeping out whilst still the snow,
Doth here and there, its presence show
Soon leaf and bud quick opening spread
Thy modest petals—white with red
Like some sweet cherub—love’s kind link,
With dress of white, adorned with pink

This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on November 25, 2023, by the Academy of American Poets.

translated from the Anishinaabemowin

Here in my native inland sea
From pain and sickness would I flee
And from its shores and island bright
Gather a store of sweet delight.
Lone island of the saltless sea!
How wide, how sweet, how fresh and free
How all transporting—is the view
Of rocks and skies and waters blue
Uniting, as a song’s sweet strains
To tell, here nature only reigns.
Ah, nature! here forever sway
Far from the haunts of men away
For here, there are no sordid fears,
No crimes, no misery, no tears
No pride of wealth; the heart to fill,
No laws to treat my people ill.

This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on November 12, 2022, by the Academy of American Poets.

O water, voice of my heart, crying in the sand,
All night long crying with a mournful cry,
As I lie and listen, and cannot understand
The voice of my heart in my side or the voice of the sea,
O water, crying for rest, is it I, is it I?
All night long the water is crying to me.

Unresting water, there shall never be rest
Till the last moon droop and the last tide fail,
And the fire of the end begin to burn in the west;
And the heart shall be weary and wonder and cry like the sea,
All life long crying without avail,
As the water all night long is crying to me.

This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on December 10, 2023, by the Academy of American Poets.