It’s neither red
nor sweet.
It doesn’t melt
or turn over,
break or harden,
so it can’t feel

It doesn’t have 
a tip to spin on,
it isn’t even
just a thick clutch
of muscle,
mute. Still,
I feel it inside
its cage sounding
a dull tattoo:
I want, I want—

but I can’t open it:
there’s no key.
I can’t wear it
on my sleeve,
or tell you from
the bottom of it
how I feel. Here,
it’s all yours, now—
but you’ll have
to take me,

Copyright © 2017 Rita Dove. Used with permission of the author.

a walk in a midwinter ochre wood
to get some england sun
as it steals away—
a little poodle runs to show you love;
you like the feel of the animal’s body
on your leg; it’s something
of an acceptance so you smile
and are not the least bothered; you even hope
it’ll jump, though the lady yells
no jumping Sam! no jumping!
and when she adds ‘you know he
just loves EVERYbody!’ why should you
suddenly feel tears coming?—
it’s just that EVERYbody; how do you
explain this? there’s nobody to explain
it to: why she needed to take away
from you this one feeling of special?
how could she know it was the most
human moment of your day—
the most human moment in weeks?

Copyright © 2024 by Jason Allen-Paisant. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on January 17, 2024, by the Academy of American Poets. 


She walks in beauty, like the night
Of cloudless climes and starry skies;
And all that’s best of dark and bright
Meet in her aspect and her eyes:
Thus mellowed to that tender light
Which heaven to gaudy day denies.


One shade the more, one ray the less,
Had half impaired the nameless grace
Which waves in every raven tress,
Or softly lightens o’er her face;
Where thoughts serenely sweet express
How pure, how dear their dwelling place.


And on that cheek, and o’er that brow,
So soft, so calm, yet eloquent,
The smiles that win, the tints that glow,
But tell of days in goodness spent,
A mind at peace with all below,
A heart whose love is innocent!

Written June 12, 1814. This poem is in the public domain.

The line-storm clouds fly tattered and swift, 
  The road is forlorn all day, 
Where a myriad snowy quartz stones lift, 
  And the hoof-prints vanish away. 
The roadside flowers, too wet for the bee,
  Expend their bloom in vain. 
Come over the hills and far with me, 
  And be my love in the rain. 

The birds have less to say for themselves 
  In the wood-world’s torn despair
Than now these numberless years the elves, 
  Although they are no less there: 
All song of the woods is crushed like some 
  Wild, easily shattered rose. 
Come, be my love in the wet woods; come,
  Where the boughs rain when it blows. 

There is the gale to urge behind 
  And bruit our singing down, 
And the shallow waters aflutter with wind 
  From which to gather your gown.    
What matter if we go clear to the west, 
  And come not through dry-shod? 
For wilding brooch shall wet your breast 
  The rain-fresh goldenrod. 

Oh, never this whelming east wind swells   
  But it seems like the sea’s return 
To the ancient lands where it left the shells 
  Before the age of the fern; 
And it seems like the time when after doubt 
  Our love came back amain.      
Oh, come forth into the storm and rout 
  And be my love in the rain.

This poem is in the public domain.


translated from Romanian by Seamus Heaney

The morning after I die
Will be cool, like those misty September dawns
When the dog-days are over
And I blink awake in white air, making strange
At a woolly light in the trees.
And because it’s September, I’ll have come to
Very early and – again like September –
Be lonely enough to keep hearing
The air drip-dripping towards noon  
Down the wet cheeks of quinces;
I’ll be in a drowse,
Praying to get back to sleep
For a little while longer,
Lying there, never moving,  
Eyes closed, my face in the pillow,
As the deafening silence beats louder
And louder and wakens me up more and more.

The start
Of that eternal day
Will be like a morning in autumn.

Excerpted from The Translations of Seamus Heaney by Seamus Heaney and edited by Marco Sonzogni. Published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. Copyright © 2022 by The Estate of Seamus Heaney. Introduction and editorial material copyright © 2022. All rights reserved.

translated from the Arabic by Ameen Rihani

Oh! that some one would but return to tell 
If old Nubakht is burning now in hell, 
    Or if the workers for the Prophet’s prize
Are laughing at this Paradisal sell. 

The Luzumiyat of Abu’l-Ala (James T. White & Co., 1920) by Abū al-‘Alā’ al-Ma‘arrī. Translated from the Arabic by Ameen Rihani. Copyright © 1920 by Ameen Rihani. This poem is in the public domain.

Translated from the Spanish by Mason Carnes

At the flash of a light we are born; we are dead
Ere its splendor refulgent is sped,–—
            Life is so short!
For glory and love that we ardently court
Are but shades of a dream that floats by;—
            To awake is to die!

From Poems of Gustavo Adolfo Becquer (Kegan Paul, Trench, Trübner & Co., Ltd., 1891) by Gustavo Adolfo Becquer. Translated from the Spanish by Mason Carnes. This poem is in the public domain. 

Though the people on the internet help too. 
They send money by pressing a small button 
on their screens. It would be disingenuous 
to claim all the credit—we can’t heal

or hurt alone. I sniff the tops of the rose heads 
like a newborn’s scalp—fresh skin and hair
only a few days picked. I try to arrange the flowers
on my bed, create a romantic scene 

like all the 90s rom-coms I still watch. I’m stuck
in the past, I know. I’m stuck in the present, 
I know that too. I thought the roses 
could be a cure, and maybe in a small way

they were, each petal I plucked so gently 
from the stems gave in to me. 

Copyright © 2022 by Diannely Antigua. This poem appeared in Waxwing Literary Journal, Fall 2022. Used with permission of the author.

Yet it was plain she struggled, and that salt
Of righteous feeling made her pitiful.
Poor twisting worm, so queenly beautiful!
Where came the cleft between us? whose the fault?
My tears are on thee, that have rarely dropped
As balm for any bitter wound of mine:
My breast will open for thee at a sign!
But no: we are two reed-pipes, coarsely stopped:
The God once filled them with his mellow breath;
And they were music till he flung them down,
Used! used! Hear now the discord-loving clown
Puff his gross spirit in them, worse than death!
I do not know myself without thee more:
In this unholy battle I grow base:
If the same soul be under the same face,
Speak, and a taste of that old time restore!

This poem is in the public domain.

My friends are dead who were

the arches    the pillars of my life 

the structural relief when

the world gave none.


My friends who knew me as I knew them

their bodies folded into the ground or burnt to ash.

If I got on my knees

might I lift my life as a turtle carries her home?  


Who if I cried out would hear me?

My friends—with whom I might have spoken of this—are gone.

Copyright © 2022 by Marie Howe. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on February 22, 2022, by the Academy of American Poets.