I seem like one
Who treads alone
    Some banquet-hall deserted,
Whose lights are fled,
Whose garlands dead,
    And all but me departed.
            —Thomas Moore, “Oft in the Stilly Night (Scotch Air)

See’st thou yon gray gleaming hall,
Where the deep elm-shadows fall?
Voices that have left the earth
                Long ago,
Still are murmuring round its hearth,
               Soft and low:
Ever there;—yet one alone
Hath the gift to hear their tone.
Guests come thither, and depart,
Free of step, and light of heart;
Children, with sweet visions blessed,
In the haunted chambers rest;
One alone unslumbering lies
When the night hath sealed all eyes,
One quick heart and watchful ear,
Listening for those whispers clear.

See’st thou where the woodbine-flowers
O’er yon low porch hang in showers?
Startling faces of the dead,
               Pale, yet sweet,
One lone woman’s entering tread
               There still meet!
Some with young, smooth foreheads fair,
Faintly shining through bright hair;
Some with reverend locks of snow—
All, all buried long ago!
All, from under deep sea-waves,
Or the flowers of foreign graves,
Or the old and bannered aisle,
Where their high tombs gleam the while;
Rising, wandering, floating by,
Suddenly and silently,
Through their earthly home and place,
But amidst another race.

Wherefore, unto one alone,
Are those sounds and visions known?
Wherefore hath that spell of power
               Dark and dread,
On her soul, a baleful dower,
               Thus been shed?
Oh! in those deep-seeing eyes,
No strange gift of mystery lies!
She is lone where once she moved,
Fair, and happy, and beloved!
Sunny smiles were glancing round her,
Tendrils of kind hearts had bound her;
Now those silver chords are broken,
Those bright looks have left no token;
Not one trace on all the earth,
Save her memory of their mirth.
She is lone and lingering now,
Dreams have gathered o’er her brow,
Midst gay songs and children’s play,
She is dwelling far away;
Seeing what none else may see—
Haunted still her place must be!

This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on October 29, 2022, by the Academy of American Poets.

She felt alone
In that garden unfrequented,
Where the winds make moan
For blossom sweetly scented,
Perfumed but far away.
And as the sunset died,
Lost the last long twilight ray,
She felt so lone and cried.

Her face protesting revealed
The trace of promises and prayers unreturned,
Deep disillusions learned,
Sorrows silence-sealed.

And as she wept
Like a lost child
When the shadow of twilight crept
On the forest wild,
Not knowing the ground,
As tears and tear-drops falling,
Moistened the cheek of the night around,
I called, she heard me calling,
And longer cried in that garden frequented only
By her spirit loving and lovely.

From Manila: A Collection of Verse (Imp. Paredes, Inc., 1926) by Luis Dato. This poem is in the public domain. 

translated from the Spanish by William Cullen Bryant

          My bird has flown away,
Far out of sight has flown, I know not where.
          Look in your lawn, I pray,
          Ye maidens, kind and fair,
And see if my beloved bird be there.

          His eyes are full of light;
The eagle of the rock has such an eye;
          And plumes, exceeding bright,
          Round his smooth temples lie,
And sweet his voice and tender as a sigh.

          Look where the grass is gay
With summer blossoms, haply there he cowers;
          And search, from spray to spray,
          The leafy laurel-bowers,
For well he loves the laurels and the flowers.

          Find him, but do not dwell,
With eyes too fond, on the fair form you see,
          Nor love his song too well;
          Send him, at once, to me,
Or leave him to the air and liberty.

          For only from my hand
He takes the seed into his golden beak,
          And all unwiped shall stand
          The tears that wet my cheek,
Till I have found the wanderer I seek.

          My sight is darkened o’er,
Whene’er I miss his eyes, which are my day,
          And when I hear no more
          The music of his lay,
My heart in utter sadness faints away.



El pájaro perdido 


   ¡Huyó con vuelo incierto,
Y de mis ojos ha desparecido! . . .
¡Mirad si a vuestro huerto
Mi pájaro querido,
Niñas hermosas, por acaso ha huido!

   Sus ojos relucientes
Son como los del águila orgullosa;
Plumas resplandecientes
En la cabeza airosa
Lleva, y su voz es tierna y armoniosa.

   Mirad si cuidadoso
Junto a las flores se escondió en la grama:
Ese laurel frondoso
Mirad rama por rama,
Que él los laureles y las flores ama.

   Si le halláis por ventura,
No os enamore su amoroso acento;
No os prende su hermosura:
Volvédmele al momento,
O dejadle, si no, libre en el viento.

   Porque su pico de oro
Sólo en mi mano toma la semilla,
Y no enjugaré el lloro
Que veis en mi mejilla
Hasta encontrar mi prófuga avecilla.

   Mi vista se oscurece
Si sus ojos no ve, que son mi día;
Mi ánima desfallece
Con la melancolía
De no escucharle ya su melodía.

This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on October 15, 2022, by the Academy of American Poets.

translated from the Spanish by María José Giménez and Anna Rosenwong

I’ll say storm.
I’ll say river.
I’ll say tornado.
I’ll say leaf.
I’ll say tree.
I’ll be wet.
I’ll be damp.
I won’t be a bust.
I won’t be a pelican.
Baby I’ll want.
Man I’ll want.
The man’s song I’ll want.
Woman I’ll always be.
Small woman I’ll have.
Small island I’ll have.
Money I won’t have.
Sleepy I’ll be.
Too much work I’ll have.
I’ll say salt.
I’ll say papaya.
I’ll say bean and yuca.
Car I’ll have.
Fuel I’ll have.
Washer I’ll have.
Everything’s so expensive I’ll say.
Everything’s so pretty I’ll say.
Cats I’ll have.
Cat hair I’ll have.
Mother and father I’ll have.
Mother I’ll be.
Aunt I’ll be.
Wife I’ll be.
Friend I’ll be.
I’ll have little.
I’ll have a rented house.
I’ll have debt.
I’ll say tree.
I’ll say leaf.
I’ll say tornado.
I’ll say river.
I’ll say storm.

Deuda Natal

Tormenta diré.
Río diré.
Tornado diré.
Hoja diré.
Árbol diré.
Mojada seré.
Humedecida seré.
Busto no seré.
Pelícano no seré.
Bebé querré.
Hombre querré.
La canción del hombre querré.
Mujer siempre seré.
Mujer pequeña tendré.
Isla pequeña tendré.
Dinero no tendré.
Sueño tendré.
Trabajo demasiado tendré.
Sal diré.
Papaya diré.
Habichuela y yuca diré.
Carro tendré.
Lavadora tendré.
Qué caro todo diré.
Qué lindo todo diré.
Gatos tendré.
Pelo de gato tendré.
Madre y padre tendré.
Madre seré.
Tía seré.
Esposa seré.
Amiga seré.
Poco tendré.
Casa alquilada tendré.
Deuda tendré.
Árbol diré.
Hoja diré.
Tornado diré.
Río diré.
Tormenta diré.

Copyright © 2019 Mara Pastor, María José Giménez, and Anna Rosenwong. This poem originally appeared in World Literature Today (Volume 94 No. 4, 2020). Reprinted with the permission of the poet and translators. 

To be the Mary J. Blige of poetry     to come back as Peter O’Toole     to have Peter Falk

expose his tender heart to you     as John Cassavetes would     make a monument to love

of a fragile wife     with a nervous tic    and strangers from a bar on the couch     to be a poet

of the sea      pounding down each syllable     ‘til it resembles almost nothing      but sound

between lovers     to be an unscripted scene of oneself     have a teardrop tattoo

inked beneath one eye     to practice right action and right speech     to summon a stiff drink

upon waking     at the foot of a dune     to be a grain of sand in that dune    to be seen

up close     at maximum magnification     as intricate and entirely plausible

From Once More With Feeling (Veliz Books, 2017). Copyright © 2017 by Tina Cane. Used with the permission of the author.

I thought by now my reverence would have waned,
matured to the tempered silence of the bookish or revealed
how blasé I’ve grown with age, but the unrestrained
joy I feel when a black skein of geese voyages like a dropped
string from God, slowly shifting and soaring, when the decayed
apples of an orchard amass beneath its trees like Eve’s
first party, when driving and the road Vanna-Whites its crops
of corn whose stalks will soon give way to a harvester’s blade
and turn the land to a man’s unruly face, makes me believe
I will never soothe the pagan in me, nor exhibit the propriety
of the polite. After a few moons, I’m loud this time of year,
unseemly as a chevron of honking. I’m fire in the leaves,
obstreperous as a New England farmer. I see fear
in the eyes of his children. They walk home from school,
as evening falls like an advancing trickle of bats, the sky
pungent as bounty in chimney smoke. I read the scowl
below the smiles of parents at my son’s soccer game, their agitation,
the figure of wind yellow leaves make of quaking aspens.

Copyright © 2019 by Major Jackson. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on April 15, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets.