Like the very gods in my sight is he who 
sits where he can look in your eyes, who listens
close to you, to hear the soft voice, its sweetness
          murmur in love and

laughter, all for him. But it breaks my spirit; 
underneath my breast all the heart is shaken. 
Let me only glance where you are, the voice dies,
          I can say nothing,

but my lips are stricken to silence, under-
neath my skin the tenuous flame suffuses;
nothing shows in front of my eyes, my ears are
          muted in thunder.

And the sweat breaks running upon me, fever
Shakes my body, paler I turn than grass is;
I can feel that I have been changed, I feel that
          death has come near me.

Reprinted from Greek Lyrics, edited by Richmond Lattimore, published by the University of Chicago Press, copyright © 1949, 1960 by The University of Chicago. All rights reserved.

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When we two parted
   In silence and tears,
Half broken-hearted
   To sever for years,
Pale grew thy cheek and cold,
   Colder thy kiss;
Truly that hour foretold
   Sorrow to this.

The dew of the morning
   Sunk chill on my brow— 
It felt like the warning
   Of what I feel now.
Thy vows are all broken,
   And light is thy fame;
I hear thy name spoken,
   And share in its shame.

They name thee before me,
   A knell to mine ear;
A shudder comes o'er me—
   Why wert thou so dear?
They know not I knew thee,
   Who knew thee too well—
Long, long shall I rue thee,
   Too deeply to tell.

In secret we met—
   In silence I grieve,
That thy heart could forget,
   Thy spirit deceive.
If I should meet thee
   After long years,
How should I greet thee?—
   With silence and tears.

This poem is in the public domain.

In lieu of a break down, I buy a Tuscan villa  
with what’s left of the alimony.  
The keys I am given are old and because  
I am a novelist, I imagine my past lives  
as the generations that once lived in this house  
and each one of them is white.  
Citizenship goes unsaid; the visa process unsexy,  
taxing, and therefore not worthy  
of a plot line—unlike
the man who will teach me  
that after a lengthy divorce I can still orgasm.  
He takes me to Rome—O Roma! I already miss  
the Tuscan fields, where the olive trees are plucked  
by Black hands that were plucked from the Mediterranean,  
and from the road, don’t look like hands  
at all, but like
row after fragrant row  
of gnarled branches. Love becomes me in this new city.  
I am always radiant. My body, after all, a vessel  
of history, but I dress it in white, cinched 
at the waist, and no one says a thing. 
I antique shop, never suspecting I could find  
my skull behind glass, just another artifact, price tagged  
and measured, among such fine china. He leaves me of course. 
After all, we’d never survive it; not love or the hours  
long drive between us, but the credits rolling.  
I don’t shed a single tear (I’m lying, enough to flood the piazza).  
Besides, there are many men to take his place, ballads of them.  
Men, who will touch me, their hands staying hands,  
and not blossoming into a rifle, or a colony  
of ants—
this is the pinnacle of romance, I’m sure.  
Men, who tell me I have eyes they could drown in.  
Men, who have never been left to die at sea. I want to  
lie naked in their beds—my desire, simple  
and ahistoric—and rename each place they kiss me  
like conquered territory: Giorgio, Marcello,  
Pietro, whose oiled lips at dinner  
could make a blush cross Mary’s porcelain cheeks.

Copyright © 2021 by Edil Hassan. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on October 15, 2021, by the Academy of American Poets.

Oh, seek, my love, your newer way;
     I’ll not be left in sorrow.
So long as I have yesterday,
     Go take your damned to-morrow!

From Enough Rope (Boni & Liveright, 1926) by Dorothy Parker. This poem is in the public domain.

If you could sit with me beside the sea to-day,
And whisper with me sweetest dreamings o’er and o’er;
I think I should not find the clouds so dim and gray,
And not so loud the waves complaining at the shore.

If you could sit with me upon the shore to-day,
And hold my hand in yours as in the days of old,
I think I should not mind the chill baptismal spray,
Nor find my hand and heart and all the world so cold.

If you could walk with me upon the strand to-day,
And tell me that my longing love had won your own,
I think all my sad thoughts would then be put away,
And I could give back laughter for the Ocean’s moan!

From The Collected Poetry of Paul Laurence Dunbar (Dodd, Mead and Company, 1913) by Paul Laurence Dunbar. This poem is in the public domain. 

Farewell, sweetheart, and again farewell;
To day we part, and who can tell
     If we shall e'er again
Meet, and with clasped hands
Renew our vows of love, and forget
     The sad, dull pain.

Dear heart, 'tis bitter thus to lose thee
And think mayhap, you will forget me;
     And yet, I thrill
As I remember long and happy days
Fraught with sweet love and pleasant memories
     That linger still

You go to loved ones who will smile
And clasp you in their arms, and all the while
     I stay and moan
For you, my love, my heart and strive
To gather up life's dull, gray thread
     And walk alone.

Aye, with you love the red and gold
Goes from my life, and leaves it cold
     And dull and bare,
Why should I strive to live and learn
And smile and jest, and daily try
     You from my heart to tare?

Nay, sweetheart, rather would I lie
Me down, and sleep for aye; or fly
      To regions far
Where cruel Fate is not and lovers live
Nor feel the grim, cold hand of Destiny
      Their way to bar.

I murmur not, dear love, I only say
Again farewell. God bless the day
      On which we met,
And bless you too, my love, and be with you
In sorrow or in happiness, nor let you
      E'er me forget.
 

This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on January 11, 2020, by the Academy of American Poets.

Now that our love has drifted
To a quiet close,
Leaving the empty ache
That always follows when beauty goes;
Now that you and I,
Who stood tip-toe on earth
To touch our fingers to the sky,
Have turned away
To allow our little love to die—
Go, dear, seek again the magic touch.
But if you are wise,
As I shall be wise,
You will not again
Love over much.

From The Book of American Negro Poetry (Harcourt, Brace and Company, 1922), edited by James Weldon Johnson. This poem is in the public domain.