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.
A delicate fabric of bird song
Floats in the air,
The smell of wet wild earth
Red small leaves of the maple
Are clenched like a hand,
Like girls at their first communion
The pear trees stand.
Oh I must pass nothing by
Without loving it much,
The raindrop try with my lips,
The grass with my touch;
For how can I be sure
I shall see again
The world on the first of May
Shining after the rain?
This poem is in the public domain. Originally published in Flame and Shadow, by Sara Teasdale.
Four roses drinking from a blue vase.
The first one I name Moment of Gladness,
the second, Wresting Beauty from Fear.
All year I watched her disappearing, the sweet fat
of her hips, her laughter, her will,
as though a whelk had drilled through her shell,
sucked out the flesh. Death woke me each morning
with its bird impersonation. But now she has cut
these Clouds of Glory and a honeyed musk sublimes
from their petals, veined fine as an infant’s eyelids,
and spiraling like any embryo—fish, snake, or human.
And she has carried them to me, saturated
in the colors they have not swallowed,
the blush and gold, the razzle-dazzle red. Riven
from the dirt to cling here briefly.
And now, as though to signify our fortune,
a tiny insect journeys across the kingdom
of one ivory petal and into the heart
of the blossom. O, Small Mercies sliced
from the root. I listen
as they sip the blue water.
From Indigo (Copper Canyon Press, 2020) by Ellen Bass. Copyright © 2020 by Ellen Bass. Used with permission of The Permissions Company, LLC on behalf of Copper Canyon Press, coppercanyonpress.org.
Since the phlox are dying and the daisies with their bright bodies have shattered in the wind, I go out among these last dancers, cutting to the ground the withered asters, the spent stalks of the lilies, the black rose, and see them as they were in spring, the time of eagerness and blossoms, knowing how they will all sleep and return; and sweep the dry leaves over them and see the cold earth take them back as now I know it is taking me who have walked so long among them, so amazed, so dazzled by their brightness I forgot their distance, how of all the chosen, all the fallen in the garden I was different: I alone could not come again to the world.
Copyright © 2003 Patricia Hooper. From Aristotle’s Garden (Bluestem Press, 2003) by Patricia Hooper. Used with permission of the author.
Thank you my life long afternoon
late in this spring that has no age
my window above the river
for the woman you led me to
when it was time at last the words
coming to me out of mid-air
that carried me through the clear day
and come even now to find me
for old friends and echoes of them
those mistakes only I could make
homesickness that guides the plovers
from somewhere they had loved before
they knew they loved it to somewhere
they had loved before they saw it
thank you good body hand and eye
and the places and moments known
only to me revisiting
once more complete just as they are
and the morning stars I have seen
and the dogs who are guiding me
From Collected Poems 1996–2011 by W.S. Merwin. Copyright © 2013 by W. S. Merwin. Reprinted by permission of The Library of America.