Palm-sized and fledgling, a beak
protruding from the sleeve, I
have kept my birds muted
for so long, I fear they’ve grown
accustom to a grim quietude.
What chaos could ensue
should a wing get loose?
Come overdue burst, come
flock, swarm, talon, and claw.
Scatter the coop’s roost, free
the cygnet and its shadow. Crack
and scratch at the state’s cage,
cut through cloud and branch,
no matter the dumb hourglass’s
white sand yawning grain by grain.
What cannot be contained
cannot be contained.

Copyright © 2020 Ada Limón. This poem was co-commissioned by the Academy of American Poets and the New York Philharmonic as part of the Project 19 initiative.

Because I could not stop for Death
He kindly stopped for me
The Carriage held but just Ourselves 
And Immortality.

We slowly droveHe knew no haste
And I had put away
My labor and my leisure too,
For His Civility

We passed the School, where Children strove
At Recessin the Ring
We passed the Fields of Gazing Grain
We passed the Setting Sun

Or ratherHe passed us
The Dews drew quivering and chill
For only Gossamer, my Gown
My Tippetonly Tulle

We paused before a House that seemed
A Swelling of the Ground
The Roof was scarcely visible
The Cornicein the Ground

Since then’tis Centuriesand yet
Feels shorter than the Day
I first surmised the Horses’ Heads
Were toward Eternity

Poetry used by permission of the publishers and the Trustees of Amherst College from The Poems of Emily Dickinson, Ralph W. Franklin ed., Cambridge, Mass.: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, Copyright © 1998 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College. Copyright © 1951, 1955, 1979, by the President and Fellows of Harvard College.

I, too, sing America.

I am the darker brother.
They send me to eat in the kitchen
When company comes,
But I laugh,
And eat well,
And grow strong.

Tomorrow,
I'll be at the table
When company comes.
Nobody'll dare
Say to me,
“Eat in the kitchen,”
Then.

Besides,
They'll see how beautiful I am
And be ashamed—

I, too, am America.

From The Collected Poems of Langston Hughes, published by Knopf and Vintage Books. Copyright © 1994 by the Estate of Langston Hughes. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Harold Ober Associates Incorporated.

I wandered lonely as a Cloud
   That floats on high o’er Vales and Hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
   A host of golden Daffodils;
Beside the Lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Continuous as the stars that shine
   And twinkle on the Milky Way,
They stretched in never-ending line
   Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

The waves beside them danced, but they
   Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:—
A Poet could not but be gay
   In such a jocund company:
I gazed—and gazed—but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:

For oft when on my couch I lie
   In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
   Which is the bliss of solitude,
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the Daffodils.

This poem appeared in Poem-a-Day on October 1, 2017. This poem is in the public domain.

Where dips the rocky highland
Of Sleuth Wood in the lake,
There lies a leafy island
Where flapping herons wake
The drowsy water rats;
There we've hid our faery vats,
Full of berrys
And of reddest stolen cherries.
Come away, O human child!
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand,
For the world's more full of weeping than you can understand.

Where the wave of moonlight glosses
The dim gray sands with light,
Far off by furthest Rosses
We foot it all the night,
Weaving olden dances
Mingling hands and mingling glances
Till the moon has taken flight;
To and fro we leap
And chase the frothy bubbles,
While the world is full of troubles
And anxious in its sleep.
Come away, O human child!
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand,
For the world's more full of weeping than you can understand.

Where the wandering water gushes
From the hills above Glen-Car,
In pools among the rushes
That scarce could bathe a star,
We seek for slumbering trout
And whispering in their ears
Give them unquiet dreams;
Leaning softly out
From ferns that drop their tears
Over the young streams.
Come away, O human child!
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand,
For the world's more full of weeping than you can understand.

Away with us he's going,
The solemn-eyed:
He'll hear no more the lowing
Of the calves on the warm hillside
Or the kettle on the hob
Sing peace into his breast,
Or see the brown mice bob
Round and round the oatmeal chest.
For he comes, the human child,
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand,
For the world's more full of weeping than he can understand.

This poem is in the public domain.

In the burned house I am eating breakfast.
You understand: there is no house, there is no breakfast,
yet here I am.

The spoon which was melted scrapes against
the bowl which was melted also.
No one else is around.

Where have they gone to, brother and sister,
mother and father? Off along the shore,
perhaps. Their clothes are still on the hangers,

their dishes piled beside the sink,
which is beside the woodstove
with its grate and sooty kettle,

every detail clear,
tin cup and rippled mirror.
The day is bright and songless,

the lake is blue, the forest watchful.
In the east a bank of cloud
rises up silently like dark bread.

I can see the swirls in the oilcloth,
I can see the flaws in the glass,
those flares where the sun hits them.

I can't see my own arms and legs
or know if this is a trap or blessing,
finding myself back here, where everything

in this house has long been over,
kettle and mirror, spoon and bowl,
including my own body,

including the body I had then,
including the body I have now
as I sit at this morning table, alone and happy,

bare child's feet on the scorched floorboards
(I can almost see)
in my burning clothes, the thin green shorts

and grubby yellow T-shirt
holding my cindery, non-existent,
radiant flesh. Incandescent.

From Morning in the Burned House by Margaret Atwood. Copyright © 1995 by Margaret Atwood. Published in the United States by Houghton Mifflin Co., published in Canada by McClelland and Stewart, Inc. All rights reserved.

Mindful of you the sodden earth in spring,
    And all the flowers that in the springtime grow,
    And dusty roads, and thistles, and the slow
Rising of the round moon, all throats that sing
The summer through, and each departing wing,
    And all the nests that the bared branches show,
    And all winds that in any weather blow,
And all the storms that the four seasons bring.

You go no more on your exultant feet
    Up paths that only mist and morning knew,
Or watch the wind, or listen to the beat
    Of a bird’s wings too high in air to view,—
But you were something more than young and sweet
    And fair,—and the long year remembers you.

From Renascence, and other poems (Harper, 1917) by Edna St. Vincent Millay. This poem is in the public domain. 

I caught a tremendous fish
and held him beside the boat
half out of water, with my hook
fast in a corner of his mouth.
He didn't fight.
He hadn't fought at all.
He hung a grunting weight,
battered and venerable
and homely. Here and there
his brown skin hung in strips
like ancient wallpaper,
and its pattern of darker brown
was like wallpaper:
shapes like full-blown roses
stained and lost through age.
He was speckled with barnacles,
fine rosettes of lime,
and infested
with tiny white sea-lice,
and underneath two or three
rags of green weed hung down.
While his gills were breathing in
the terrible oxygen
—the frightening gills,
fresh and crisp with blood,
that can cut so badly—
I thought of the coarse white flesh
packed in like feathers,
the big bones and the little bones,
the dramatic reds and blacks
of his shiny entrails,
and the pink swim-bladder
like a big peony.
I looked into his eyes
which were far larger than mine
but shallower, and yellowed,
the irises backed and packed
with tarnished tinfoil
seen through the lenses
of old scratched isinglass.
They shifted a little, but not
to return my stare.
—It was more like the tipping
of an object toward the light.
I admired his sullen face,
the mechanism of his jaw,
and then I saw
that from his lower lip
—if you could call it a lip—
grim, wet, and weaponlike,
hung five old pieces of fish-line,
or four and a wire leader
with the swivel still attached,
with all their five big hooks
grown firmly in his mouth.
A green line, frayed at the end
where he broke it, two heavier lines,
and a fine black thread
still crimped from the strain and snap
when it broke and he got away.
Like medals with their ribbons
frayed and wavering,
a five-haired beard of wisdom
trailing from his aching jaw.
I stared and stared
and victory filled up
the little rented boat,
from the pool of bilge
where oil had spread a rainbow
around the rusted engine
to the bailer rusted orange,
the sun-cracked thwarts,
the oarlocks on their strings,
the gunnels—until everything
was rainbow, rainbow, rainbow!
And I let the fish go.

Copyright © 2011 by Elizabeth Bishop. Reprinted from Poems with the permission of Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

This is not a small voice
you hear               this is a large
voice coming out of these cities.
This is the voice of LaTanya.
Kadesha. Shaniqua. This
is the voice of Antoine.
Darryl. Shaquille.
Running over waters
navigating the hallways
of our schools spilling out
on the corners of our cities and
no epitaphs spill out of their river mouths.

This is not a small love
you hear               this is a large
love, a passion for kissing learning
on its face.
This is a love that crowns the feet with hands
that nourishes, conceives, feels the water sails
mends the children,
folds them inside our history where they
toast more than the flesh
where they suck the bones of the alphabet
and spit out closed vowels.
This is a love colored with iron and lace.
This is a love initialed Black Genius.

This is not a small voice
you hear.

From Wounded in the House of a Friend. Copyright © 1995 by Sonia Sanchez. Used with the permission of Beacon Press.

I measure every Grief I meet
With narrow, probing, eyes – 
I wonder if It weighs like Mine – 
Or has an Easier size.

I wonder if They bore it long – 
Or did it just begin – 
I could not tell the Date of Mine – 
It feels so old a pain – 

I wonder if it hurts to live – 
And if They have to try – 
And whether – could They choose between – 
It would not be – to die – 

I note that Some – gone patient long – 
At length, renew their smile –  
An imitation of a Light
That has so little Oil – 

I wonder if when Years have piled –  
Some Thousands – on the Harm –  
That hurt them early – such a lapse
Could give them any Balm –  

Or would they go on aching still
Through Centuries of Nerve – 
Enlightened to a larger Pain –  
In Contrast with the Love –  

The Grieved – are many – I am told –  
There is the various Cause –  
Death – is but one – and comes but once –  
And only nails the eyes –  

There's Grief of Want – and grief of Cold –  
A sort they call "Despair" –  
There's Banishment from native Eyes – 
In sight of Native Air –  

And though I may not guess the kind –  
Correctly – yet to me
A piercing Comfort it affords
In passing Calvary –  

To note the fashions – of the Cross –  
And how they're mostly worn –  
Still fascinated to presume
That Some – are like my own – 

Poetry used by permission of the publishers and the Trustees of Amherst College from The Poems of Emily Dickinson, Ralph W. Franklin ed., Cambridge, Mass.: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, Copyright © 1998 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College. Copyright © 1951, 1955, 1979, by the President and Fellows of Harvard College.

Those four black girls blown up
in that Alabama church
remind me of five hundred
middle passage blacks,
in a net, under water
in Charleston harbor
so redcoats wouldn't find them.
Can't find what you can't see
can you?

From Images of Kin by Michael S. Harper, published by University of Illinois Press. © 1970 by Michael S. Harper. Used with the permission of the University of Illinois Press. 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.

Near the end of April
    On the verge of May—
And o my heart, the woods were dusk
    At the close of day.

Half a word was spoken
    Out of half a dream,
And God looked in my soul and saw
    A dawn rise and gleam.

Near the end of April
    Twenty Mays have met,
And half a word and half a dream
    Remember and forget.

This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on April 18, 2021, by the Academy of American Poets.

She says New England hoards college girls like cherries in its cheek,
tongue-tying legs to knots, making party tricks out of people.
Says it’s an old currency, wads of tangled stems tumored with
unfinished bows. Says the quick ones learn to curl like ribbon.
The brave ones learn to run with their hands. The pretty ones
knot and knot into rope and callus, none of their blood stays long.
But half butane, half lemon juice, all pit, no skin, us sad ones
are a new fruit. I tell her we should shower more. Eat something
besides black pepper and rum. I tell her darling, the teapot’s
melted to the stove, the mugs chipped in hazardous places,
dropped from scalded hands to blades, stealing lips from our guests.
She reminds me we have no guests here, just the half-dead boys
we’ve specialized in trapping, leggy never-giants too grateful
to run so now cups brimming with sliced mouths, kitchen table
littered with scabs, we pick over the charred parts: thirteen matchheads
sawed from stems with his sharpest key (ours now); half a collarbone,
still warm (ours now); the lightbulb he almost smashed into her throat
when he learned not all flightless soft-bodied girls are fireflies
(ours to shatter in the rooftop shadows just like one of us).
She tells me Paris is all glitter and ash this time of year,
red-velvet gloved and scowled. Tells me Cape Town paves its streets with wings
that shimmy for stray coins. Says she’s got a naked man waiting
in Havana and his neighbor owes her seven cigarettes.
She’s been studying plate tectonics. Whispering spells for Pangaea.
Lighting candles for the Great Rift Valley with bootleg magma
from Kilimanjaro. Branding Himalayas to her calves’
Appalachia. Speed testing smoke signals hitched to waves.
She asks me the difference between arson and wildfire.
I say arson is chain-smoking with her Tinder wax doll collection.
Wildfire misusing match blaze as daylight. Should have said
the difference depends on what’s burning. Should have said
we have such old bones for such new people, more cinder than marrow.
We feel safe in all the wrong places, most at home in flames.

Copyright © by Kemi Alabi. This poem originally appeared in The Rumpus, August 2019. Used with permission of the author.
 

if they preferred tea with honey
            (take a step back)
if they watched police procedurals

if their ankle throbbed
or their hands swelled
and they didn’t complain
or they did
            (take another step back)

if they missed being in love
with its anticipations
a hand caressing the small of their back
            (take a third step)
or maybe they’d forgotten
held it like a souvenir postcard
from long ago 
colors faded

if they had children and
their children had children and
their children’s children had children

or maybe they hadn’t forgotten 
            (bend knees)
but found instead a love deeper than love
            fathomless and devout
            
if they were simply going through the motions
which now gave them a warm and glowing contentment
that came to them like breath
            (bow)

if they recalled the headlines
from those other times
            (bend knees)
the hours volunteering at a soup kitchen
writing pen pals in uniform
            (bow)

if they remembered fear
or if they’d grown immune
so saturated with it
it had transformed into a fourth prayer

if they understood what happened when it happened
if their hearing caught the stranger’s cry
if they pondered for an instant
if they were dreaming or confused
            (fall down)

the wind blows, the rain falls

the sick are healed
the bound released

gather exiles from the four corners of the earth
unto the land
            
reassemble 
here
body upon body 

 


En respuesta a le asesinato de once judíes, incluyendio a une de noventa y siete años que se decía era une sobreviviente de le Holocausto, pero no

 

si elle prefería le té con miel
            (de une paso atrás)
si veía les programas policiaques

si le dolía le tobillo
o si sus manos se les hinchaban
y elle no se quejaba
o si sí
            (de otre paso atrás)

si extrañaba estar enamorade
con sus anticipaciones
une mano acariciando le parte baje de su espalda
            (de une tercer paso)
o tal vez se le había olvidado
y sostuvo le memoria como une postal
de hace mucho tiempo
les colores desvanecides

si tuvo hijes y
si sus hijes tuvieron hijes y
les hijes de sus hijes tuvieron hijes

o quizá ya no se acordaba
            (doble les rodillas)
y en vez encontró une amor más profunde que le amor
insondable y devote

si simplemente pasaba por les movimientos
que ahora le daban une cálide y brillante satisfacción
que le vino como aliento
            (reverencie)

si recordaba les titulares
de aquelles otres tiempos
            (doble les rodillas)
les horas de voluntarie en une comedor de beneficencia
escribiéndole cartas a les amigues militares
            (reverencie)

si recordaba le miedo
o si se volvió inmune
tan saturade que
le había transformade en une cuarte oración

si comprendió le que sucedió cuando sucedió
si su oído atrapó le grito de le extrañe
si se preguntó por une instante
si estaba soñando o confundide
            (cáigase)

sopla le viento, cae le lluvia

les enfermes se curan
les atades son liberades

reúna exiliades de todes les rincones 
para tomar le tierra

junteles
aquí
cuerpo sobre cuerpo

Copyright © 2021 by Achy Obejas. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on March 15, 2021, by the Academy of American Poets.

if they preferred tea with honey
            (take a step back)
if they watched police procedurals

if their ankle throbbed
or their hands swelled
and they didn’t complain
or they did
            (take another step back)

if they missed being in love
with its anticipations
a hand caressing the small of their back
            (take a third step)
or maybe they’d forgotten
held it like a souvenir postcard
from long ago 
colors faded

if they had children and
their children had children and
their children’s children had children

or maybe they hadn’t forgotten 
            (bend knees)
but found instead a love deeper than love
            fathomless and devout
            
if they were simply going through the motions
which now gave them a warm and glowing contentment
that came to them like breath
            (bow)

if they recalled the headlines
from those other times
            (bend knees)
the hours volunteering at a soup kitchen
writing pen pals in uniform
            (bow)

if they remembered fear
or if they’d grown immune
so saturated with it
it had transformed into a fourth prayer

if they understood what happened when it happened
if their hearing caught the stranger’s cry
if they pondered for an instant
if they were dreaming or confused
            (fall down)

the wind blows, the rain falls

the sick are healed
the bound released

gather exiles from the four corners of the earth
unto the land
            
reassemble 
here
body upon body 

 


En respuesta a le asesinato de once judíes, incluyendio a une de noventa y siete años que se decía era une sobreviviente de le Holocausto, pero no

 

si elle prefería le té con miel
            (de une paso atrás)
si veía les programas policiaques

si le dolía le tobillo
o si sus manos se les hinchaban
y elle no se quejaba
o si sí
            (de otre paso atrás)

si extrañaba estar enamorade
con sus anticipaciones
une mano acariciando le parte baje de su espalda
            (de une tercer paso)
o tal vez se le había olvidado
y sostuvo le memoria como une postal
de hace mucho tiempo
les colores desvanecides

si tuvo hijes y
si sus hijes tuvieron hijes y
les hijes de sus hijes tuvieron hijes

o quizá ya no se acordaba
            (doble les rodillas)
y en vez encontró une amor más profunde que le amor
insondable y devote

si simplemente pasaba por les movimientos
que ahora le daban une cálide y brillante satisfacción
que le vino como aliento
            (reverencie)

si recordaba les titulares
de aquelles otres tiempos
            (doble les rodillas)
les horas de voluntarie en une comedor de beneficencia
escribiéndole cartas a les amigues militares
            (reverencie)

si recordaba le miedo
o si se volvió inmune
tan saturade que
le había transformade en une cuarte oración

si comprendió le que sucedió cuando sucedió
si su oído atrapó le grito de le extrañe
si se preguntó por une instante
si estaba soñando o confundide
            (cáigase)

sopla le viento, cae le lluvia

les enfermes se curan
les atades son liberades

reúna exiliades de todes les rincones 
para tomar le tierra

junteles
aquí
cuerpo sobre cuerpo

Copyright © 2021 by Achy Obejas. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on March 15, 2021, by the Academy of American Poets.

On ear and ear two noises too old to end
     Trench—right, the tide that ramps against the shore;
     With a flood or a fall, low lull-off or all roar,
Frequenting there while moon shall wear and wend.

Left hand, off land, I hear the lark ascend,
     His rash-fresh re-winded new-skeinèd score
     In crisps of curl off wild winch whirl, and pour
And pelt music, till none’s to spill nor spend.

How these two shame this shallow and frail town!
     How ring right out our sordid turbid time,
Being pure! We, life’s pride and cared-for crown,

     Have lost that cheer and charm of earth’s past prime:
Our make and making break, are breaking, down
     To man’s last dust, drain fast towards man’s first slime.

This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on May 11, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets.

O golden month! How high thy gold is heaped!
The yellow birch-leaves shine like bright coins strung
On wands; the chestnut's yellow pennons tongue
To every wind its harvest challenge. Steeped
In yellow, still lie fields where wheat was reaped;
And yellow still the corn sheaves, stacked among
The yellow gourds, which from the earth have wrung
Her utmost gold. To highest boughs have leaped
The purple grape,—last thing to ripen, late
By very reason of its precious cost.
O Heart, remember, vintages are lost
If grapes do not for freezing night-dews wait.
Think, while thou sunnest thyself in Joy's estate,
Mayhap thou canst not ripen without frost!

This poem is in the public domain.

Batter my heart, transgender’d god, for yours
is the only ear that hears: place fear in my heart
where faith has grown my senses dull & reassures
my blood that it will never spill. Show every part
to every stranger’s anger, surprise them with my drawers
full up of maps that lead to vacancies & chart
the distance from my pride, my core. Terror, do not depart
but nest in the hollows of my loins & keep me on all fours.
My knees, bring me to them; force my head to bow again.
Replay the murders of my kin until my mind’s made new;
let Adam’s bite obstruct my breath ’til I respire men
& press his rib against my throat until my lips turn blue.
You, O duo, O twin, whose likeness is kind: unwind my confidence
& noose it round your fist so I might know you in vivid impermanence.

From Last Psalm at Sea Level (Barrow Street, 2014). Copyright © 2014 by Meg Day. Used with the permission of the author.

Batter my heart, three-personed God, for you
As yet but knock, breathe, shine, and seek to mend;
That I may rise, and stand, o'erthrow me, and bend
Your force to break, blow, burn, and make me new.
I, like an usurped town, to another due,
Labour to admit you, but Oh, to no end.
Reason, your viceroy in me, me should defend,
But is captived, and proves weak or untrue.
Yet dearly I love you, and would be loved fain,
But am betrothed unto your enemy:
Divorce me, untie or break that knot again,
Take me to you, imprison me, for I,
Except you enthrall me, never shall be free,
Nor ever chaste, except you ravish me.

This poem is in the public domain.

The courage that my mother had
Went with her, and is with her still:
Rock from New England quarried;
Now granite in a granite hill.

The golden brooch my mother wore
She left behind for me to wear;
I have no thing I treasure more:
Yet, it is something I could spare.

Oh, if instead she’d left to me
The thing she took into the grave!—
That courage like a rock, which she
Has no more need of, and I have.

Edna St. Vincent Millay, "The courage that my mother had" from Collected Poems. Copyright 1954, © 1982 by Norma Millay Ellis. Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, Inc., on behalf of Holly Peppe, Literary Executor, The Edna St. Vincent Millay Society, www.millay.org.

As a fond mother, when the day is o'er,
   Leads by the hand her little child to bed,
   Half willing, half reluctant to be led,
   And leave his broken playthings on the floor,
Still gazing at them through the open door,
   Nor wholly reassured and comforted
   By promises of others in their stead,
   Which, though more splendid, may not please him more;
So Nature deals with us, and takes away
   Our playthings one by one, and by the hand
   Leads us to rest so gently, that we go
Scarce knowing if we wish to go or stay,
   Being too full of sleep to understand
   How far the unknown transcends the what we know.

This poem is in the public domain. 

Out of your whole life give but a moment!
All of your life that has gone before,
All to come after it,—so you ignore,
So you make perfect the present,—condense,
In a rapture of rage, for perfection’s endowment,
Thought and feeling and soul and sense—
Merged in a moment which gives me at last
You around me for once, you beneath me, above me—
Me—sure that despite of time future, time past,—
This tick of our life-time’s one moment you love me!
How long such suspension may linger? Ah, Sweet—
The moment eternal—just that and no more—
When ecstasy’s utmost we clutch at the core
While cheeks burn, arms open, eyes shut and lips meet!

This poem is in the public domain.

The door was opened and I saw you there
And for the first time heard you speak my name.
Then like the sun your sweetness overcame
My shy and shadowy mood; I was aware
That joy was hidden in your happy hair,
And that for you love held no hint of shame;
My eyes caught light from yours, within whose flame
Humor and passion have an equal share.

How many times since then have I not seen
Your great eyes widen when you talk of love,
And darken slowly with a fair desire;
How many times since then your soul has been
Clear to my gaze as curving skies above,
Wearing like them a raiment made of fire.
 

This poem is in the public domain. 

Well, they are gone, and here must I remain,
This lime-tree bower my prison! I have lost
Beauties and feelings, such as would have been
Most sweet to my remembrance even when age
Had dimm'd mine eyes to blindness! They, meanwhile,
Friends, whom I never more may meet again,
On springy heath, along the hill-top edge,
Wander in gladness, and wind down, perchance,
To that still roaring dell, of which I told;
The roaring dell, o'erwooded, narrow, deep,
And only speckled by the mid-day sun;
Where its slim trunk the ash from rock to rock
Flings arching like a bridge;—that branchless ash,
Unsunn'd and damp, whose few poor yellow leaves
Ne'er tremble in the gale, yet tremble still,
Fann'd by the water-fall! and there my friends
Behold the dark green file of long lank weeds,
That all at once (a most fantastic sight!)
Still nod and drip beneath the dripping edge
Of the blue clay-stone.

                                  Now, my friends emerge
Beneath the wide wide Heaven—and view again
The many-steepled tract magnificent
Of hilly fields and meadows, and the sea,
With some fair bark, perhaps, whose sails light up
The slip of smooth clear blue betwixt two Isles
Of purple shadow! Yes! they wander on
In gladness all; but thou, methinks, most glad,
My gentle-hearted Charles! for thou hast pined
And hunger'd after Nature, many a year,
In the great City pent, winning thy way
With sad yet patient soul, through evil and pain
And strange calamity! Ah! slowly sink
Behind the western ridge, thou glorious Sun!
Shine in the slant beams of the sinking orb,
Ye purple heath-flowers! richlier burn, ye clouds!
Live in the yellow light, ye distant groves!
And kindle, thou blue Ocean! So my friend
Struck with deep joy may stand, as I have stood,
Silent with swimming sense; yea, gazing round
On the wide landscape, gaze till all doth seem
Less gross than bodily; and of such hues
As veil the Almighty Spirit, when yet he makes
Spirits perceive his presence.
                                            A delight
Comes sudden on my heart, and I am glad
As I myself were there! Nor in this bower,
This little lime-tree bower, have I not mark'd
Much that has sooth'd me. Pale beneath the blaze
Hung the transparent foliage; and I watch'd
Some broad and sunny leaf, and lov'd to see
The shadow of the leaf and stem above
Dappling its sunshine! And that walnut-tree
Was richly ting'd, and a deep radiance lay
Full on the ancient ivy, which usurps
Those fronting elms, and now, with blackest mass
Makes their dark branches gleam a lighter hue
Through the late twilight: and though now the bat
Wheels silent by, and not a swallow twitters,
Yet still the solitary humble-bee
Sings in the bean-flower! Henceforth I shall know
That Nature ne'er deserts the wise and pure;
No plot so narrow, be but Nature there,
No waste so vacant, but may well employ
Each faculty of sense, and keep the heart
Awake to Love and Beauty! and sometimes
'Tis well to be bereft of promis'd good,
That we may lift the soul, and contemplate
With lively joy the joys we cannot share.
My gentle-hearted Charles! when the last rook
Beat its straight path across the dusky air
Homewards, I blest it! deeming its black wing
(Now a dim speck, now vanishing in light)
Had cross'd the mighty Orb's dilated glory,
While thou stood'st gazing; or, when all was still,
Flew creeking o'er thy head, and had a charm
For thee, my gentle-hearted Charles, to whom
No sound is dissonant which tells of Life.

Written in June, 1797. This poem is in the public domain.

The world is charged with the grandeur of God.
   It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;
   It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil
Crushed. Why do men then now not reck his rod?
Generations have trod, have trod, have trod;
   And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil;
   And wears man's smudge and shares man's smell: the soil
Is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod.

And for all this, nature is never spent;
   There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;
And though the last lights off the black West went
   Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs--
Because the Holy Ghost over the bent
   World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.

This poem is in the public domain.