The spotted hawk swoops by and accuses me, he complains of my gab and my loitering.
I too am not a bit tamed, I too am untranslatable,
I sound my barbaric yawp over the roofs of the world.
The last scud of day holds back for me,
It flings my likeness after the rest and true as any on the shadow’d wilds,
It coaxes me to the vapor and the dusk.
I depart as air, I shake my white locks at the runaway sun,
I effuse my flesh in eddies, and drift it in lacy jags.
I bequeath myself to the dirt to grow from the grass I love,
If you want me again look for me under your boot-soles.
You will hardly know who I am or what I mean,
But I shall be good health to you nevertheless,
And filter and fibre your blood.
Failing to fetch me at first keep encouraged,
Missing me one place search another,
I stop somewhere waiting for you.
This poem is in the public domain.
Oh, a hidden power is in my breast,
A power that none can fathom;
I call the tides from seas of rest,
They rise, they fall, at my behest;
And many a tardy fisher’s boat,
I’ve torn apart and set afloat,
From out their raging chasm.
For I’m an enchantress, old and grave;
Concealed I rule the weather;
Oft set I, the lover’s heart a blaze,
With hidden power of my fulgent rays,
Or seek I the souls of dying men,
And call the sea-tides from the fen,
And drift them out together.
I call the rain from the mountain’s peak,
And sound the mighty thunder;
When I wax and wane from week to week,
The heavens stir, while vain men seek,
To solve the myst’ries that I hold,
But a bounded portion I unfold,
So nations pass and wonder.
Yea, my hidden strength no man may know;
Nor myst’ries be expounded;
I’ll cause the tidal waves to flow,
And I shall wane, and larger grow,
Yet while man rack his shallow brain,
The secrets with me still remain,
He seeks in vain, confounded.
This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on February 29, 2020 by the Academy of American Poets.
Your voice is the color of a robin’s breast,
And there’s a sweet sob in it like rain—still rain in the night.
Among the leaves of the trumpet-tree, close to his nest,
The pea-dove sings, and each note thrills me with strange delight
Like the words, wet with music, that well from your trembling throat.
I’m afraid of your eyes, they’re so bold,
Searching me through, reading my thoughts, shining like gold.
But sometimes they are gentle and soft like the dew on the lips of the eucharis
Before the sun comes warm with his lover’s kiss,
You are sea-foam, pure with the star’s loveliness,
Not mortal, a flower, a fairy, too fair for the beauty-shorn earth,
All wonderful things, all beautiful things, gave of their wealth to your birth:
O I love you so much, not recking of passion, that I feel it is wrong,
But men will love you, flower, fairy, non-mortal spirit burdened with flesh,
This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on February 16, 2020, by the Academy of American Poets.
The poet sits and dreams and dreams;
He scans his verse; he probes his themes.
Then turns to stretch or stir about,
Lest, like his thoughts, his strength give out.
Then off to bed, for he must rise
And cord some wood, or tamp some ties,
Or break a field of fertile soil,
Or do some other manual toil.
He dare not live by wage of pen,
Most poorly paid of poor paid men,
With shoes o’er-run, and threadbare clothes,—
And editors among the foes
Who mock his song, deny him bread,
Then sing his praise when he is dead.
This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on February 9, 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.
Just a rainy day or two
In a windy tower,
That was all I had of you—
Saving half an hour.
Marred by greeting passing groups
In a cinder walk,
Near some naked blackberry hoops
Dim with purple chalk.
I remember three or four
Things you said in spite,
And an ugly coat you wore,
Plaided black and white.
Just a rainy day or two
And a bitter word.
Why do I remember you
As a singing bird?
This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on January 25, 2020, by the Academy of American Poets.
Dear love, what thing of all the things that be
Is ever worth one thought from you or me,
Save only Love,
Save only Love?
The days so short, the nights so quick to flee,
The world so wide, so deep and dark the sea,
So dark the sea;
So far the suns and every listless star,
Beyond their light—Ah! dear, who knows how far,
Who knows how far?
One thing of all dim things I know is true,
The heart within me knows, and tells it you,
And tells it you.
So blind is life, so long at last is sleep,
And none but Love to bid us laugh or weep,
And none but Love,
And none but Love.
This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on January 5, 2020, by the Academy of American Poets.
You ask me how I became a madman. It happened thus: One day, long before many gods were born, I woke from a deep sleep and found all my masks were stolen,—the seven masks I have fashioned and worn in seven lives,—I ran maskless through the crowded streets shouting, “Thieves, thieves, the cursed thieves.”
Men and women laughed at me and some ran to their houses in fear of me.
And when I reached the market place, a youth standing on a house-top cried, “He is a madman.” I looked up to behold him; the sun kissed my own naked face for the first time. For the first time the sun kissed my own naked face and my soul was inflamed with love for the sun, and I wanted my masks no more. And as if in a trance I cried, “Blessed, blessed are the thieves who stole my masks.”
Thus I became a madman.
And I have found both freedom and safety in my madness; the freedom of loneliness and the safety from being understood, for those who understand us enslave something in us.
But let me not be too proud of my safety. Even a Thief in a jail is safe from another thief.
This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on December 21, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets.