Too green the springing April grass, 
Too blue the silver-speckled sky, 
For me to linger here, alas, 
While happy winds go laughing by, 
Wasting the golden hours indoors, 
Washing windows and scrubbing floors. 

Too wonderful the April night, 
Too faintly sweet the first May flowers, 
The stars too gloriously bright, 
For me to spend the evening hours, 
When fields are fresh and streams are leaping, 
Wearied, exhausted, dully sleeping.

This poem is in the public domain.

In the Sixties
Nabokov switched

from ink to eraser-
topped pencil

on index cards  a box
of cards for Ada  a box

of cards for dreams
whose "curious features"

include "erotic tenderness
and heart-rending enchantment"

in one draft
he traded "stillness and heat"

for "silence, a burning"
                       so picture:

Vladimir seated
at the trunk of a tree

a spring day
at Wellesley  where

he marvels at his students
and their cable-knit socks

the way each elastic
grips without binding

just below
the knee      so exquisite

an application of pressure
that when said sock

is slowly
peeled off

the skin shows
no trace at all

Copyright © 1994 Tina Cane. Used with permission.

Of Heaven or Hell I have no power to sing,  
I cannot ease the burden of your fears,  
Or make quick-coming death a little thing,  
Or bring again the pleasure of past years,  
Nor for my words shall ye forget your tears, 
Or hope again for aught that I can say,  
The idle singer of an empty day.  
But rather, when aweary of your mirth,  
From full hearts still unsatisfied ye sigh,  
And, feeling kindly unto all the earth,  
Grudge every minute as it passes by,  
Made the more mindful that the sweet days die—  
—Remember me a little then I pray,  
The idle singer of an empty day.  
The heavy trouble, the bewildering care 
That weighs us down who live and earn our bread,  
These idle verses have no power to bear;  
So let me sing of names remembered,  
Because they, living not, can ne’er be dead,  
Or long time take their memory quite away 
From us poor singers of an empty day.  
Dreamer of dreams, born out of my due time,  
Why should I strive to set the crooked straight?  
Let it suffice me that my murmuring rhyme  
Beats with light wing against the ivory gate,
Telling a tale not too importunate  
To those who in the sleepy region stay,  
Lulled by the singer of an empty day.  
Folk say, a wizard to a northern king  
At Christmas-tide such wondrous things did show,
That through one window men beheld the spring,  
And through another saw the summer glow,  
And through a third the fruited vines a-row,  
While still, unheard, but in its wonted way,  
Piped the drear wind of that December day.
So with this Earthly Paradise it is,  
If ye will read aright, and pardon me,  
Who strive to build a shadowy isle of bliss  
Midmost the beating of the steely sea,  
Where tossed about all hearts of men must be;
Whose ravening monsters mighty men shall slay,  
Not the poor singer of an empty day.

This poem is in the public domain.