Introductory Poems (HL)

23 06 2011

Introduction to Poetry

 

by Billy Collins

 

I ask them to take a poem

and hold it up to the light

like a color slide

 

or press an ear against its hive.

 

I say drop a mouse into a poem

and watch him probe his way out,

 

or walk inside the poem’s room

and feel the walls for a light switch.

 

I want them to waterski

across the surface of a poem

waving at the author’s name on the shore.

 

But all they want to do

is tie the poem to a chair with rope

and torture a confession out of it.

 

They begin beating it with a hose

to find out what it really means.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We Real Cool

by Gwendolyn Brooks

 

 

 

THE POOL PLAYERS.

SEVEN AT THE GOLDEN SHOVEL.

 

 

 

We real cool. We

Left school. We

 

Lurk late. We

Strike straight. We

 

Sing sin. We

Thin gin. We

 

Jazz June. We

Die soon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cross

 

by Langston Hughes

 

My old man’s a white old man

And my old mother’s black.

If ever I cursed my white old man

I take my curses back.

If ever I cursed my black old mother

And wished she were in hell,

I’m sorry for that evil wish

And now I wish her well

My old man died in a fine big house.

My ma died in a shack.

I wonder were I’m going to die,

Being neither white nor black?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Four Glimpses of Night

by Frank Marshall Davis

 

 

Eagerly

Like a woman hurrying to her lover

Night comes to the room of the world

And lies, yielding and content

Against the cool round face

Of the moon.

 

2

Night is a curious child, wandering

Between earth and sky, creeping

In windows and doors, daubing

The entire neighborhood

With purple paint.

Day

Is an apologetic mother

Cloth in hand

Following after.

 

3

Peddling

From door to door

Night sells

Black bags of peppermint stars

Heaping cones of vanilla moon

Until

His wares are gone

Then shuffles homeward

Jingling the gray coins

Of daybreak.

 

4

Night’s brittle song, silver-thin,

Shatters into a billion fragments

Of quiet shadows

At the blaring jazz

Of a morning sun.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We Are Seven

 

by William Wordsworth

 

–A simple child,

That lightly draws its breath,

And feels its life in every limb,

What should it know of death?

 

I met a little cottage girl:

She was eight years old, she said;

Her hair was thick with many a curl

That clustered round her head.

 

She had a rustic, woodland air,

And she was wildly clad:

Her eyes were fair, and very fair;

–Her beauty made me glad.

 

“Sisters and brothers, little maid,

How many may you be?”

“How many? Seven in all,” she said,

And wondering looked at me.

 

“And where are they? I pray you tell.”

She answered, “Seven are we;

And two of us at Conway dwell,

And two are gone to sea.

 

“Two of us in the churchyard lie,

My sister and my brother;

And, in the churchyard cottage, I

Dwell near them with my mother.”

 

“You say that two at Conway dwell,

and two are gone to sea,

Yet ye are seven! I pray you tell,

Sweet maid, how this may be.”

 

Then did the little maid reply,

“Seven boys and girls are we;

Two of us in the churchyard lie,

Beneath the churchyard tree.”

 

“You run about, my little maid,

Your limbs they are alive;

If two are in the churchyard laid,

Then ye are only five.”

 

“Their graves are green, they may be seen,”

The little maid replied,

“Twelve steps or more from my mother’s door,

And they are side by side.

 

“My stockings there I often knit,

My kerchief there I hem;

And there upon the ground I sit,

And sing a song to them.

 

“And often after sunset, sir,

When it is light and fair,

I take my little porringer,

And eat my supper there.

 

“The first that died was sister Jane;

In bed she moaning lay,

Till God released her of her pain;

And then she went away.

 

“So in the churchyard she was laid;

And, when the grass was dry,

Together round her grave we played,

My brother John and I.

 

“And when the ground was white with snow

And I could run and slide,

My brother John was forced to go,

And he lies by her side.”

 

“How many are you, then,” said I,

“If they two are in heaven?”

Quick was the little maid’s reply,

“O master! we are seven.”

 

“But they are dead; those two are dead!

Their spirits are in heaven!”

‘Twas throwing words away; for still

The little maid would have her will,

And said, “Nay, we are seven!”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How Do I Love Thee? (Sonnet 43)

 

by Elizabeth Barrett Browning

 

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.

I love thee to the depth and breadth and height

My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight

For the ends of being and ideal grace.

I love thee to the level of every day’s

Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.

I love thee freely, as men strive for right.

I love thee purely, as they turn from praise.

I love thee with the passion put to use

In my old griefs, and with my childhood’s faith.

I love thee with a love I seemed to lose

With my lost saints. I love thee with the breath,

Smiles, tears, of all my life; and, if God choose,

I shall but love thee better after death.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Unknown Citizen

 

by W. H. Auden

 

(To JS/07 M 378
This Marble Monument
Is Erected by the State)

He was found by the Bureau of Statistics to be

One against whom there was no official complaint,

And all the reports on his conduct agree

That, in the modern sense of an old-fashioned word, he was a

saint,

For in everything he did he served the Greater Community.

Except for the War till the day he retired

He worked in a factory and never got fired,

But satisfied his employers, Fudge Motors Inc.

Yet he wasn’t a scab or odd in his views,

For his Union reports that he paid his dues,

(Our report on his Union shows it was sound)

And our Social Psychology workers found

That he was popular with his mates and liked a drink.

The Press are convinced that he bought a paper every day

And that his reactions to advertisements were normal in every way.

Policies taken out in his name prove that he was fully insured,

And his Health-card shows he was once in hospital but left it cured.

Both Producers Research and High-Grade Living declare

He was fully sensible to the advantages of the Instalment Plan

And had everything necessary to the Modern Man,

A phonograph, a radio, a car and a frigidaire.

Our researchers into Public Opinion are content

That he held the proper opinions for the time of year;

When there was peace, he was for peace:  when there was war, he went.

He was married and added five children to the population,

Which our Eugenist says was the right number for a parent of his

generation.

And our teachers report that he never interfered with their

education.

Was he free? Was he happy? The question is absurd:

Had anything been wrong, we should certainly have heard.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dirge Without Music

by Edna St. Vincent Millay

 

I am not resigned to the shutting away of loving hearts in the hard ground.

So it is, and so it will be, for so it has been, time out of mind:

Into the darkness they go, the wise and the lovely. Crowned

With lilies and with laurel they go; but I am not resigned.

 

Lovers and thinkers, into the earth with you.

Be one with the dull, the indiscriminate dust.

A fragment of what you felt, of what you knew,

A formula, a phrase remains,—but the best is lost.

 

The answers quick and keen, the honest look, the laughter, the

love,—

They are gone. They are gone to feed the roses. Elegant and curled

Is the blossom. Fragrant is the blossom. I know. But I do not

approve.

More precious was the light in your eyes than all the roses in the

world.

 

Down, down, down into the darkness of the grave

Gently they go, the beautiful, the tender, the kind;

Quietly they go, the intelligent, the witty, the brave.

I know. But I do not approve. And I am not resigned.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One Art

 

by Elizabeth Bishop

 

The art of losing isn’t hard to master;

so many things seem filled with the intent

to be lost that their loss is no disaster.

 

Lose something every day. Accept the fluster

of lost door keys, the hour badly spent.

The art of losing isn’t hard to master.

 

Then practice losing farther, losing faster:

places, and names, and where it was you meant

to travel. None of these will bring disaster.

 

I lost my mother’s watch. And look! my last, or

next-to-last, of three loved houses went.

The art of losing isn’t hard to master.

 

I lost two cities, lovely ones. And, vaster,

some realms I owned, two rivers, a continent.

I miss them, but it wasn’t a disaster.

 

 

–Even losing you (the joking voice, a gesture

I love) I shan’t have lied.  It’s evident

the art of losing’s not too hard to master

though it may look like (Write it!) like disaster.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Road Not Taken

 

by Robert Frost

 

 

 

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,

And sorry I could not travel both

And be one traveler, long I stood

And looked down one as far as I could

To where it bent in the undergrowth;

 

Then took the other, as just as fair,

And having perhaps the better claim,

Because it was grassy and wanted wear;

Though as for that the passing there

Had worn them really about the same,

 

And both that morning equally lay

In leaves no step had trodden black.

Oh, I kept the first for another day!

Yet knowing how way leads on to way,

I doubted if I should ever come back.

 

I shall be telling this with a sigh

Somewhere ages and ages hence:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I–

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Helen of Troy Does Countertop Dancing

 

by Margaret Atwood

 

The world is full of women

who’d tell me I should be ashamed of myself

if they had the chance. Quit dancing.

Get some self-respect

and a day job.

Right. And minimum wage,

and varicose veins, just standing

in one place for eight hours

behind a glass counter

bundled up to the neck, instead of

naked as a meat sandwich.

Selling gloves, or something.

Instead of what I do sell.

You have to have talent

to peddle a thing so nebulous

and without material form.

Exploited, they’d say. Yes, any way

you cut it, but I’ve a choice

of how, and I’ll take the money.

 

I do give value.

Like preachers, I sell vision,

like perfume ads, desire

or its facsimile. Like jokes

or war, it’s all in the timing.

I sell men back their worse suspicions:

that everything’s for sale,

and piecemeal. They gaze at me and see

a chain-saw murder just before it happens,

when thigh, ass, inkblot, crevice, tit, and nipple

are still connected.

Such hatred leaps in them,

my beery worshippers! That, or a bleary

hopeless love. Seeing the rows of heads

and upturned eyes, imploring

but ready to snap at my ankles,

I understand floods and earthquakes, and the urge

to step on ants. I keep the beat,

and dance for them because

they can’t. The music smells like foxes,

crisp as heated metal

searing the nostrils

or humid as August, hazy and languorous

as a looted city the day after,

when all the rape’s been done

already, and the killing,

and the survivors wander around

looking for garbage

to eat, and there’s only a bleak exhaustion.

Speaking of which, it’s the smiling

tires me out the most.

This, and the pretence

that I can’t hear them.

And I can’t, because I’m after all

a foreigner to them.

The speech here is all warty gutturals,

obvious as a slab of ham,

but I come from the province of the gods

where meanings are lilting and oblique.

I don’t let on to everyone,

but lean close, and I’ll whisper:

My mother was raped by a holy swan.

You believe that? You can take me out to dinner.

That’s what we tell all the husbands.

There sure are a lot of dangerous birds around.

 

Not that anyone here

but you would understand.

The rest of them would like to watch me

and feel nothing. Reduce me to components

as in a clock factory or abattoir.

Crush out the mystery.

Wall me up alive

in my own body.

They’d like to see through me,

but nothing is more opaque

than absolute transparency.

Look–my feet don’t hit the marble!

Like breath or a balloon, I’m rising,

I hover six inches in the air

in my blazing swan-egg of light.

You think I’m not a goddess?

Try me.

This is a torch song.

Touch me and you’ll burn.

 

 

 

 

Tonight I Can Write

by Pablo Neruda

 

Tonight I can write the saddest lines.

 

Write, for example, ‘The night is starry

and the stars are blue and shiver in the distance.’

 

The night wind revolves in the sky and sings.

 

Tonight I can write the saddest lines.

I loved her, and sometimes she loved me too.

 

Through nights like this one I held her in my arms.

I kissed her again and again under the endless sky.

 

She loved me, sometimes I loved her too.

How could one not have loved her great still eyes.

 

Tonight I can write the saddest lines.

To think that I do not have her. To feel that I have lost her.

 

To hear the immense night, still more immense without her.

And the verse falls to the soul like dew to the pasture.

 

What does it matter that my love could not keep her.

The night is starry and she is not with me.

 

This is all. In the distance someone is singing. In the distance.

My soul is not satisfied that it has lost her.

 

My sight tries to find her as though to bring her closer.

My heart looks for her, and she is not with me.

 

The same night whitening the same trees.

We, of that time, are no longer the same.

 

I no longer love her, that’s certain, but how I loved her.

My voice tried to find the wind to touch her hearing.

 

Another’s. She will be another’s. As she was before my kisses.

Her voice, her bright body. Her infinite eyes.

 

I no longer love her, that’s certain, but maybe I love her.

Love is so short, forgetting is so long.

 

Because through nights like this one I held her in my arms

my soul is not satisfied that it has lost her.

 

Though this be the last pain that she makes me suffer

and these the last verses that I write for her.

Advertisements

Actions

Information

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s




%d bloggers like this: