I got out of bed
on two strong legs.
It might have been
otherwise. I ate
cereal, sweet
milk, ripe, flawless
peach. It might
have been otherwise.
I took the dog uphill
to the birch wood.
All morning I did
the work I love.
At noon I lay down
with my mate. It might
have been otherwise.
We ate dinner together
at a table with silver
candlesticks. It might
have been otherwise.
I slept in a bed
in a room with paintings
on the walls, and
planned another day
just like this day.
But one day, I know,
it will be otherwise.

Jane Kenyon, "Otherwise," from Collected Poems. Copyright © 2005 by the Estate of Jane Kenyon. Reprinted with the permission of The Permissions Company, Inc., on behalf of Graywolf Press, graywolfpress.org.

Let the light of late afternoon
shine through chinks in the barn, moving
up the bales as the sun moves down.

Let the cricket take up chafing
as a woman takes up her needles
and her yarn. Let evening come.

Let dew collect on the hoe abandoned
in long grass. Let the stars appear
and the moon disclose her silver horn.

Let the fox go back to its sandy den.
Let the wind die down. Let the shed
go black inside. Let evening come.

To the bottle in the ditch, to the scoop
in the oats, to air in the lung
let evening come.

Let it come, as it will, and don't
be afraid. God does not leave us
comfortless, so let evening come.

From Otherwise: New & Selected Poems by Jane Kenyon, published by Graywolf Press. Copyright © 1996 by the Estate of Jane Kenyon. Used with the permission of Graywolf Press, Saint Paul, Minnesota. All rights reserved.

anyone lived in a pretty how town
(with up so floating many bells down)
spring summer autumn winter
he sang his didn’t he danced his did.

Women and men(both little and small)
cared for anyone not at all
they sowed their isn’t they reaped their same
sun moon stars rain

children guessed(but only a few
and down they forgot as up they grew
autumn winter spring summer)
that noone loved him more by more

when by now and tree by leaf
she laughed his joy she cried his grief
bird by snow and stir by still
anyone’s any was all to her

someones married their everyones
laughed their cryings and did their dance
(sleep wake hope and then)they
said their nevers they slept their dream

stars rain sun moon
(and only the snow can begin to explain
how children are apt to forget to remember
with up so floating many bells down)

one day anyone died i guess
(and noone stooped to kiss his face)
busy folk buried them side by side
little by little and was by was

all by all and deep by deep
and more by more they dream their sleep
noone and anyone earth by april
wish by spirit and if by yes.

Women and men(both dong and ding)
summer autumn winter spring
reaped their sowing and went their came
sun moon stars rain

From Complete Poems: 1904–1962 by E. E. Cummings, edited by George J. Firmage. Used with the permission of Liveright Publishing Corporation. Copyright © 1923, 1931, 1935, 1940, 1951, 1959, 1963, 1968, 1991 by the Trustees for the E. E. Cummings Trust. Copyright © 1976, 1978, 1979 by George James Firmage.

a Sugar-Planter in the interior parts of Jamaica

If there exists a hell—the case is clear—
Sir Toby’s slaves enjoy that portion here:
Here are no blazing brimstone lakes—’tis true;
But kindled rum too often burns as blue,*
In which some fiend, (whom nature must detest)
Steeps Toby’s name, and bands poor Cudjoe's breast.
      Here, whips on whips excite a thousand fears,
And mingled howlings vibrate on my ears:
Here Nature’s plagues abound, of all degrees,
Snakes, scorpions, despots, lizards, centipees—
No art, no care escapes the busy lash,
All have their dues, and all are paid in cash:—
The lengthy cart-whip guards this tyrant's reign
And cracks like pistols from the fields of cane.
     Ye powers! who form’d these wretched tribes, relate,
What had they done, to merit such a fate?
Why were they brought from Eboe’s sultry waste
To see that plenty which they must not taste—
Food, which they cannot buy, and dare not steal,
Yams and potatoes!—many a scanty meal! —
One, with a jibbet wakes his negro’s fears,
One to the wind-mill nails him by the ears;
One keeps his slave in dismal dens, unfed,
One puts the wretch in pickle, ere he's dead:
This, from a tree suspends him by the thumbs,
That, from his table grudges even the crumbs!
     O’fer yond’ rough hills a tribe of females go,
Each with her gourd, her infant, and her hoe;
Scorch’d by a sun that has no mercy here,
Driven by a devil, whom men call overseer:
In chains twelve wretches to their labour haste,
Twice twelve I see with iron collars grac’d:—
Are these the joys that flow from vast domains!
Is wealth, thus got, Sir Toby, worth your pains—
Who would that wealth, on terms like these, possess,
Where all we see is pregnant with distress;
Angola’s natives scourg’d by hireling hands,
And toil’s hard earn gins shipp’d to foreign lands?
     Talk not of blossoms and your endless spring;
No joys, no smiles, such scenes of misery bring!
Though Nature here has every blessing spread,
Poor is the labourer—and how meanly fed!
Here Stygian paintings light and shade renew,
Pictures of woe, that Virgi’s pencil drew:
Here, surly Charons make their annual trip,
And ghosts arrive in every Guinea ship,
To find what hells this western world affords,
Plutonian scourges, and despotic lords; —
Where they who pine, and languish to be free
Must climb the rude cliffs of the Liguanee;
Beyond the clouds in sculking haste repair,
And hardly safe from brother traitors there!°

°Alluding to the independent Negroes in the Blue-Mountains; who, for a stipulated reward deliver up ever fugitive that falls into their hands.