Oh, solitude, where is the sting,
That men ascribe to thee?
Where is the terror in thy mien?
I look, but cannot see.
Where hidest thou, that loneliness
The world pretends to fear?
While lying on thy loving breast
I find my sweetest cheer.
They do not understand thee, no,
They are but knaves or fools,
Or else they must discern in thee
Dame Nature’s queen of schools.
For in thy care, with naught but books,
The bards and saints of old,
Become my friends and to mine ear
Their mystic truths unfold.
When problems and perplexities
Of life becloud my mind,
I know in thee, oh, solitude,
The answer I can find.
When grief and sorrow crowd my heart
To breaking, with their fears
Within thy arms, oh, solitude,
I find relief in tears.
And when I weary of the world’s
Deceits and cares and strife,
I find in thee sweet rest and peace
And vigorous new life.
My garden never is complete
Without a blooming rose,
Nor is my life, oh, solitude,
Without thy sweet repose.
This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on August 1, 2020 by the Academy of American Poets.
By the stream I dream in calm delight, and watch as in a glass,
How the clouds like crowds of snowy-hued and white-robed maidens pass,
And the water into ripples breaks and sparkles as it spreads,
Like a host of armored knights with silver helmets on their heads.
And I deem the stream an emblem fit of human life may go,
For I find a mind may sparkle much and yet but shallows show,
And a soul may glow with myriad lights and wondrous mysteries,
When it only lies a dormant thing and mirrors what it sees.
This poem is in the public domain.
You are not fifteen, or twelve, or seventeen—
You are a hundred wild centuries
And fifteen, bringing with you
In every breath and in every step
Everyone who has come before you,
All the yous that you have been,
The mothers of your mother,
The fathers of your father.
If someone in your family tree was trouble,
A hundred were not:
The bad do not win—not finally,
No matter how loud they are.
We simply would not be here
If that were so.
You are made, fundamentally, from the good.
With this knowledge, you never march alone.
You are the breaking news of the century.
You are the good who has come forward
Through it all, even if so many days
Feel otherwise. But think:
When you as a child learned to speak,
It’s not that you didn’t know words—
It’s that, from the centuries, you knew so many,
And it’s hard to choose the words that will be your own.
From those centuries we human beings bring with us
The simple solutions and songs,
The river bridges and star charts and song harmonies
All in service to a simple idea:
That we can make a house called tomorrow.
What we bring, finally, into the new day, every day,
Is ourselves. And that’s all we need
To start. That’s everything we require to keep going.
Look back only for as long as you must,
Then go forward into the history you will make.
Be good, then better. Write books. Cure disease.
Make us proud. Make yourself proud.
And those who came before you? When you hear thunder,
Hear it as their applause.
Copyright © 2018 by Alberto Ríos. Used with the permission of the author.