Literature and Some Favorite Poems


Literary Sources
Classic Literature Lists

Goodreads

99 Classic Books Challenge

40 Classic Books & Why You Should Read Them

100 Novels All Kids Should Read Before Leaving High School

Sources On Writing

Poets & Writers

Practical Tips on Writing a Book

Colson Whitehead: How to Write

Online Academic Style Guides: Chicago, APA, MLA, Strunk&White


Classic Short Stories

Honore de Balzac: A Passion in the Desert

Ambrose Bierce: The Boarded Window

Anton Chekhov: The Bet

Anton Chekhov: A Day in the Country

Anton Chekhov: The Lottery Ticket

Stuart Cloete: The Soldier's Peaches

Richard Connell: The Most Dangerous Game

Roald Dahl: Beware of the Dog

Nathaniel Hawthorne: Ethan Brand

Nathaniel Hawthorne: The Minister's Black Veil

Nathaniel Hawthorne: Young Goodman Brown

O. Henry: The Gift of the Magi

O. Henry: The Last Leaf

Washington Irving: Rip Van Winkle

Shirley Jackson: The Lottery

W. W. Jacobs: The Monkey's Paw

James Joyce: Araby

Rudyard Kipling: How the Leopard Got His Spots

Ring Lardner: Haircut

D. H. Lawrence: Rocking-Horse Winner

Jack London: To Build a Fire

Katherine Mansfield: The Garden Party

Katherine Mansfield: The Stranger

Guy de Maupassant: Bellflower

Guy de Maupassant: The Hairpin

Guy de Maupassant: The Inn

Guy de Maupassant: A Piece of String

Liam O'Flaherty: The Sniper

Dorothy Parker: A Telephone Call

Edgar Allen Poe: The Cask of Amontillado

Edgar Allen Poe: The Pit and the Pendulum

Edgar Allen Poe: The Tell-Tale Heart

Saki (H. H. Munro): The Open Window

Irwin Shaw: The Girls in Their Summer Dresses

Carl Stephenson: Leiningen Versus the Ants

Frank Stockton: The Griffin and the Minor Canon

Frank Stockton: The Lady, or the Tiger?

Dylan Thomas: A Child's Christmas in Wales

Mark Twain: The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calavaras County

Mark Twain: Was it Heaven? Or Hell?

H. G. Wells: The Door in the Wall

H. G. Wells: The Time Machine

E. B. White: The Door

William Carlos Williams: THe Use of Force

Virginia Woolf: A Haunted House

On Poetry
Sources of Poetry

The Writer’s Almanac

Poetry Foundation / Poetry Magazine

The Academy of American Poets

Poetry Daily

Poetry Out Loud

The Poetry Archive

Selected Short Poems

I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings
MAYA ANGELOU

The free bird leaps

on the back of the wind

and floats downstream

till the current ends

and dips his wings

in the orange sun rays

and dares to claim the sky.


But a bird that stalks

down his narrow cage

can seldom see through

his bars of rage

his wings are clipped and

his feet are tied

so he opens his throat to sing.


The caged bird sings

with fearful trill

of the things unknown

but longed for still

and his tune is heard

on the distant hill

for the caged bird

sings of freedom


The free bird thinks of another breeze

and the trade winds soft through the sighing trees

and the fat worms waiting on a dawn-bright lawn

and he names the sky his own.


But a caged bird stands on the grave of dreams

his shadow shouts on a nightmare scream

his wings are clipped and his feet are tied

so he opens his throat to sing


The caged bird sings

with a fearful trill

of things unknown

but longed for still

and his tune is heard

on the distant hill

for the caged bird

sings of freedom.


The Lesson
MAYA ANGELOU

I keep on dying again.


Veins collapse, opening like the

Small fists of sleeping

Children.


Memory of old tombs,

Rotting flesh and worms do

Not convince me against

The challenge.

The years

And cold defeat live deep in

Lines along my face.


They dull my eyes, yet

I keep on dying,

Because I love to live.


Still I Rise
MAYA ANGELOU

You may write me down in history

With your bitter, twisted lies,

You may trod me in the very dirt

But still, like dust, I'll rise.


Does my sassiness upset you?

Why are you beset with gloom?

'Cause I walk like I've got oil wells

Pumping in my living room.


Just like moons and like suns,

With the certainty of tides,

Just like hopes springing high,

Still I'll rise.


Did you want to see me broken?

Bowed head and lowered eyes?

Shoulders falling down like teardrops.


Weakened by my soulful cries.


Does my haughtiness offend you?

Don't you take it awful hard

'Cause I laugh like I've got gold mines

Diggin' in my own back yard.


You may shoot me with your words,

You may cut me with your eyes,

You may kill me with your hatefulness,

But still, like air, I'll rise.


Does my sexiness upset you?

Does it come as a surprise

That I dance like I've got diamonds

At the meeting of my thighs?


Out of the huts of history's shame

I rise

Up from a past that's rooted in pain

I rise

I'm a black ocean, leaping and wide,

Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.


Leaving behind nights of terror and fear

I rise

Into a daybreak that's wondrously clear

I rise

Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,

I am the dream and the hope of the slave.


I rise

I rise

I rise.


Touched by An Angel
MAYA ANGELOU

We, unaccustomed to courage

exiles from delight

live coiled in shells of loneliness

until love leaves its high holy temple

and comes into our sight

to liberate us into life.


Love arrives

and in its train come ecstasies

old memories of pleasure

ancient histories of pain.


Yet if we are bold,

love strikes away the chains of fear

from our souls.


We are weaned from our timidity

In the flush of love's light

we dare be brave

And suddenly we see

that love costs all we are

and will ever be.

Yet it is only love

which sets us free.


A Poison Tree
WILLIAM BLAKE

I was angry with my friend;

I told my wrath, my wrath did end.


I was angry with my foe:

I told it not, my wrath did grow.


And I waterd it in fears,

Night and morning with my tears:

And I sunned it with smiles,

And with soft deceitful wiles.


And it grew both day and night,

Till it bore an apple bright.


And my foe beheld it shine,

And he knew that it was mine.


And into my garden stole.


When the night had veiled the pole;

In the morning glad I see,

My foe outstretchd beneath the tree.


The Tyger
WILLIAM BLAKE

Tyger! Tyger! burning bright

In the forest of the night,

What immortal hand or eye

Could frame thy fearful symmetry?


In what distant deeps or skies

Burnt the fire of thine eyes?

On what wings dare he aspire?

What the hand dare seize the fire?


And what shoulder, and what art,

Could twist the sinews of thy heart?

And when thy heart began to beat,

What dread hand? and what dread feet?


What the hammer? what the chain?

In what furnace was thy brain?

What the anvil? what dread grasp

Dare its deadly terrors clasp?


When the stars threw down their spears,

And watered heaven with their tears,

Did he smile his work to see?

Did he who made the Lamb make thee?


Tyger! Tyger! burning bright

In the forests of the night,

What immortal hand or eye

Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?


Sonnets from the Portuguese 43
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.


Meeting at Night
ROBERT BROWNING

I.

The grey sea and the long black land;

And the yellow half-moon large and low;

And the startled little waves that leap

In fiery ringlets from their sleep,

As I gain the cove with pushing prow,

And quench its speed i' the slushy sand.


II.

Then a mile of warm sea-scented beach;

Three fields to cross till a farm appears;

A tap at the pane, the quick sharp scratch

And blue spurt of a lighted match,

And a voice less loud, thro' its joys and fears,

Than the two hearts beating each to each.


CLXXIII: "She Walks in Beauty"
LORD BYRON (GEORGE GORDON)

She walks in beauty, like the night

Of cloudless climes and starry skies;

And all that’s best of dark and bright

Meet in her aspect and her eyes;

Thus mellowed to that tender light

Which heaven to gaudy day denies.


One shade the more, one ray the less,

Had half impaired the nameless grace

Which waves in every raven tress,

Or softly lightens o’er her face;

Where thoughts serenely sweet express,

How pure, how dear their dwelling-place.


And on that cheek, and o’er that brow,

So soft, so calm, yet eloquent,

The smiles that win, the tints that glow,

But tell of days in goodness spent,

A mind at peace with all below,

A heart whose love is innocent!


i carry your heart with me
E. E. CUMMINGS

i carry your heart with me(i carry it in

my heart)i am never without it(anywhere

i go you go,my dear;and whatever is done

by only me is your doing,my darling)

                                i fear

no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want

no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)

and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant

and whatever a sun will always sing is you


here is the deepest secret nobody knows

(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud

and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows

higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)

and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart


My River runs to thee
EMILY DICKINSON

My River runs to thee.

Blue sea, wilt thou welcome me?

My river awaits reply.

Oh! Sea, look graciously.


I'll fetch thee brooks

From spotted nooks.

Say, sea,

Take me!


Not with a club, the Heart is broken
EMILY DICKINSON

Not with a club, the Heart is broken,

    Nor with a stone;

A whip, so small you could not see it,

    I've known


To lash the magic creature

    Till it fell,

Yet that whip's name too noble

    Then to tell.


Magnanimous of bird

    By boy descried,

To sing unto the stone

    Of which it died.


The Good-Morrow
JOHN DONNE

I wonder, by my troth, what thou and I

Did, till we loved? Were we not weaned till then?

But sucked on country pleasures, childishly?

Or snorted we in the Seven Sleepers’ den?

’Twas so; but this, all pleasures fancies be.


If ever any beauty I did see,

Which I desired, and got, ’twas but a dream of thee.

And now good-morrow to our waking souls,

Which watch not one another out of fear;

For love, all love of other sights controls,

And makes one little room an everywhere.


Let sea-discoverers to new worlds have gone,

Let maps to other, worlds on worlds have shown,

Let us possess one world, each hath one, and is one.

My face in thine eye, thine in mine appears,

And true plain hearts do in the faces rest;

Where can we find two better hemispheres,

Without sharp north, without declining west?


Whatever dies, was not mixed equally;

If our two loves be one, or, thou and I

Love so alike, that none do slacken, none can die.


A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning
JOHN DONNE

As virtuous men pass mildly away,

And whisper to their souls, to go,

Whilst some of their sad friends do say,

"The breath goes now," and some say, "No:"


So let us melt, and make no noise,

No tear-floods, nor sigh-tempests move;

'Twere profanation of our joys

To tell the laity our love.


Moving of th' earth brings harms and fears;

Men reckon what it did, and meant;

But trepidation of the spheres,

Though greater far, is innocent.


Dull sublunary lovers' love

(Whose soul is sense) cannot admit

Absence, because it doth remove

Those things which elemented it.


But we by a love so much refin'd,

That ourselves know not what it is,

Inter-assured of the mind,

Care less, eyes, lips, and hands to miss.


Our two souls therefore, which are one,

Though I must go, endure not yet

A breach, but an expansion,

Like gold to airy thinness beat.


If they be two, they are two so

As stiff twin compasses are two;

Thy soul, the fix'd foot, makes no show

To move, but doth, if the' other do.


And though it in the centre sit,

Yet when the other far doth roam,

It leans, and hearkens after it,

And grows erect, as that comes home.


Such wilt thou be to me, who must

Like th' other foot, obliquely run;

Thy firmness makes my circle just,

And makes me end, where I begun.


Love One Another
KHALIL GIBRAN

You were born together, and together you shall be forever more.

You shall be together when the white wings of death scatter your days.

Ay, you shall be together even in the silent memory of God.

But let there be spaces in your togetherness,

And let the winds of the heavens dance between you.


Love one another, but make not a bond of love:

Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.

Fill each other's cup, but drink not from one cup.

Give one another of your bread, but eat not from the same loaf.

Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each of you be alone,

Even as the strings of a lute are alone though they quiver with the same music.


Give your hearts, but not into each other's keeping.

For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts.

And stand together yet not too near together:

For the pillars of the temple stand apart,

And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other's shadow.



Bright Star, Would I Were Steadfast as Thou Art
JOHN KEATS

Bright star, would I were steadfast as thou art

Not in lone splendour hung aloft the night,

And watching, with eternal lids apart,

Like nature's patient sleepless eremite,

The moving waters at their priestlike task

Of pure ablution round earth's human shores,

Or gazing on the new soft-fallen mask

Of snow upon the mountains and the moors;

No yet still steadfast, still unchangeable,

Pillow'd upon my fair love's ripening breast,

To feel for ever its soft fall and swell,

Awake for ever in a sweet unrest,

Still, still to hear her tender-taken breath,

And so live ever or else swoon to death.


The River Merchant's Wife
LI PO

While my hair was still cut straight across my forehead

I played about the front gate, pulling flowers.

You came by on bamboo stilts, playing horse,

You walked about my seat, playing with blue plums.

And we went on living in the village of Chokan:

Two small people, without dislike or suspicion.

At fourteen I married My Lord you.

I never laughed, being bashful.

Lowering my head, I looked at the wall.

Called to, a thousand times, I never looked back.

At fifteen I stopped scowling,

I desired my dust to be mingled with yours

Forever and forever and forever.

Why should I climb the look out?

At sixteen you departed,

You went into far Ku-to-en, by the river of swirling eddies,

And you have been gone five months.

The monkeys make sorrowful noise overhead.

You dragged your feet when you went out.

By the gate now, the moss is grown, the different mosses,

Too deep to clear them away!

The leaves fall early this autumn, in wind.

The paired butterflies are already yellow with August

Over the grass in the West garden;

They hurt me. I grow older.

If you are coming down through the narrows of the river Kiang,

Please let me know beforehand,

And I will come out to meet you

    As far as Cho-fu-Sa.


To His Coy Mistress
ANDREW MARVELL

Had we but World enough, and Time,

This coyness Lady were no crime.

We would sit down, and think which way

To walk, and pass our long Loves Day.

Thou by the Indian Ganges side.

Should'st Rubies find: I by the Tide

Of Humber would complain. I would

Love you ten years before the Flood:

And you should if you please refuse

Till the Conversion of the Jews.

My vegetable Love should grow

Vaster then Empires, and more slow.

An hundred years should go to praise

Thine Eyes, and on thy Forehead Gaze.

Two hundred to adore each Breast.

But thirty thousand to the rest.

An Age at least to every part,

And the last Age should show your Heart.

For Lady you deserve this State;

Nor would I love at lower rate.

But at my back I alwaies hear

Times winged Charriot hurrying near:

And yonder all before us lye

Desarts of vast Eternity.

Thy Beauty shall no more be found;

Nor, in thy marble Vault, shall sound

My ecchoing Song: then Worms shall try

That long preserv'd Virginity:

And your quaint Honour turn to durst;

And into ashes all my Lust.

The Grave's a fine and private place,

But none I think do there embrace.

Now therefore, while the youthful hew

Sits on thy skin like morning glew,

And while thy willing Soul transpires

At every pore with instant Fires,

Now let us sport us while we may;

And now, like am'rous birds of prey,

Rather at once our Time devour,

Than languish in his slow-chapt pow'r.

Let us roll all our Strength, and all

Our sweetness, up into one Ball:

And tear our Pleasures with rough strife,

Thorough the Iron gates of Life.

Thus, though we cannot make our Sun

Stand still, yet we will make him run.


This Dream
EDNA ST. VINCENT MILLAY

Love, if I weep it will not matter,

    And if you laugh I shall not care;

Foolish am I to think about it,

    But it is good to feel you there.


Love, in my sleep I dreamed of waking,

    White and awful the moonlight reached

Over the floor, and somewhere, somewhere,

    There was a shutter loose, it screeched!


Swung in the wind, and no wind blowing!

    I was afraid, and turned to you,

Put out my hand to you for comfort,

    And you were gone! Cold, cold as dew,


Under my hand the moonlight lay!

    Love, if you laugh I shall not care,

But if I weep it will not matter,

    Ah, it is good to feel you there!


Believe Me, If All Those Endearing Young Charms
THOMAS MOORE

Believe me, if all those endearing young charms,

Which I gaze on so fondly to-day

Were to change by to-morrow, and fleet in my arms,

Like fairy-gifts fading away,

Thou wouldst still be adored, as this moment thou art,

Let thy loveliness fade as it will,

And around the dear ruin each wish of my heart

Would entwine itself verdantly still.

It is not while beauty and youth are thine own,

And they cheeks unprofaned by a tear,

That the fervor and faith of a soul can be known,

To which time will but make thee more dear;

No, the heart that has truly loved never forgets,

But as truly loves on to the close,

As the sun-flower turns on her god, when he sets,

The same look which she turned when he rose.


Annabel Lee
EDGAR ALLAN POE

It was many and many a year ago,

    In a kingdom by the sea,

That a maiden there lived whom you may know

    By the name of ANNABEL LEE;--

And this maiden she lived with no other thought

    Than to love and be loved by me.


She was a child and I was a child,

    In this kingdom by the sea,

But we loved with a love that was more than love--

    I and my Annabel Lee--

With a love that the winged seraphs of heaven

    Coveted her and me.


And this was the reason that, long ago,

    In this kingdom by the sea,

A wind blew out of a cloud by night

    Chilling my Annabel Lee;

So that her high-born kinsman came

    And bore her away from me,

To shut her up in a sepulchre

    In this kingdom by the sea.


The angels, not half so happy in Heaven,

    Went envying her and me:--

Yes! that was the reason (as all men know,

    In this kingdom by the sea)

That the wind came out of a cloud, chilling

    And killing my Annabel Lee.


But our love it was stronger by far than the love

    Of those who were older than we--

    Of many far wiser than we-

And neither the angels in Heaven above,

    Nor the demons down under the sea,

Can ever dissever my soul from the soul

    Of the beautiful Annabel Lee:--


For the moon never beams without bringing me dreams

    Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;

And the stars never rise but I see the bright eyes

    Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;

And so, all the night-tide, I lie down by the side

Of my darling, my darling, my life and my bride,

    In her sepulchre there by the sea--

    In her tomb by the side of the sea.


To Helen
EDGAR ALLAN POE

Helen, thy beauty is to me

    Like those Nicean barks of yore,

That gently, o'er a perfum'd sea,

    The weary way-worn wanderer bore

    To his own native shore.


On desperate seas long wont to roam,

    Thy hyacinth hair, thy classic face,

Thy Naiad airs have brought me home

    To the beauty of fair Greece,

And the grandeur of old Rome.


Lo! in that little window-niche

    How statue-like I see thee stand!

    The folded scroll within thy hand -

A Psyche from the regions which

    Are Holy land.


In Love Song
RAINER MARIA RILKE

How shall I hold on to my soul, so that

it does not touch yours? How shall I lift

it gently up over you on to other things?

I would so very much like to tuck it away

among long lost objects in the dark

in some quiet unknown place, somewhere

which remains motionless when your depths resound.

And yet everything which touches us, you and me,

takes us together like a single bow,

drawing out from two strings but one voice.

On which instrument are we strung?

And which violinist holds us in the hand?

O sweetest of songs.


I loved you first: but afterwards your love
CHRISTINA ROSSETTI

I loved you first: but afterwards your love

Outsoaring mine, sang such a loftier song

As drowned the friendly cooings of my dove.


Which owes the other most? my love was long,

And yours one moment seemed to wax more strong;

I loved and guessed at you, you construed me

And loved me for what might or might not be –

Nay, weights and measures do us both a wrong.


For verily love knows not ‘mine’ or ‘thine;’

With separate ‘I’ and ‘thou’ free love has done,

For one is both and both are one in love:

Rich love knows nought of ‘thine that is not mine;’

Both have the strength and both the length thereof,

Both of us, of the love which makes us one.


Sonnet 116: Let me not to the marriage of true minds
WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE

Let me not to the marriage of true minds

Admit impediments. Love is not love

Which alters when it alteration finds,

Or bends with the remover to remove:

O, no! it is an ever-fixed mark,

That looks on tempests and is never shaken;

It is the star to every wandering bark,

Whose worth's unknown, although his height be taken.

Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks

Within his bending sickle's compass come;

Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,

But bears it out even to the edge of doom.

    If this be error and upon me proved,

    I never writ, nor no man ever loved.


Love's Philosophy
PERCY BYSSHE SHELLEY

The fountains mingle with the river,

And the rivers with the ocean;

The winds of heaven mix forever

With a sweet emotion;

Nothing in the world is single;

All things by a law divine

In another's being mingle--

Why not I with thine?


See, the mountains kiss high heaven,

And the waves clasp one another;

No sister flower could be forgiven

If it disdained its brother;

And the sunlight clasps the earth,

And the moonbeams kiss the sea;--

What are all these kissings worth,

If thou kiss not me.


Unending Love
RABINDRANATH TAGORE

I seem to have loved you in numberless forms, numberless times...

In life after life, in age after age, forever.

My spellbound heart has made and remade the necklace of songs,

That you take as a gift, wear round your neck in your many forms,

In life after life, in age after age, forever.


Whenever I hear old chronicles of love, it's age old pain,

It's ancient tale of being apart or together.

As I stare on and on into the past, in the end you emerge,

Clad in the light of a pole-star, piercing the darkness of time.

You become an image of what is remembered forever.


You and I have floated here on the stream that brings from the fount.

At the heart of time, love of one for another.

We have played along side millions of lovers,

Shared in the same shy sweetness of meeting, the distressful tears of farewell,

Old love but in shapes that renew and renew forever.


Today it is heaped at your feet, it has found its end in you

The love of all man's days both past and forever:

Universal joy, universal sorrow, universal life.

The memories of all loves merging with this one love of ours -

And the songs of every poet past and forever.


Maud
ALFRED TENNYSON

COME into the garden, Maud,

For the black bat, Night, has flown,

Come into the garden, Maud,

I am here at the gate alone;

And the woodbine spices are wafted abroad,

And the musk of the roses blown.


For a breeze of morning moves,

And the planet of Love is on high,

Beginning to faint in the light that she loves

On a bed of daffodil sky,

To faint in the light of the sun she loves,

To faint in his light, and to die.


All night have the roses heard

The flute, violin, bassoon;

All night has the casement jessamine stirr'd

To the dancers dancing in tune;

Till a silence fell with the waking bird,

And a hush with the setting moon.


I said to the lily, 'There is but one

With whom she has heart to be gay.

When will the dancers leave her alone?

She is weary of dance and play.'

Now half to the setting moon are gone,

And half to the rising day;

Low on the sand and loud on the stone

The last wheel echoes away.


I said to the rose, 'The brief night goes

In babble and revel and wine.

O young lord-lover, what sighs are those

For one that will never be thine?

But mine, but mine,' so I sware to the rose,

'For ever and ever, mine.'


And the soul of the rose went into my blood,

As the music clash'd in the hall;

And long by the garden lake I stood,

For I heard your rivulet fall

From the lake to the meadow and on to the wood,

Our wood, that is dearer than all;


From the meadow your walks have left so sweet

That whenever a March-wind sighs

He sets the jewel-print of your feet

In violets blue as your eyes,

To the woody hollows in which we meet

And the valleys of Paradise.


The slender acacia would not shake

One long milk-bloom on the tree;

The white lake-blossom fell into the lake,

As the pimpernel dozed on the lea;

But the rose was awake all night for your sake,

Knowing your promise to me;

The lilies and roses were all awake,

They sigh'd for the dawn and thee.


Queen rose of the rosebud garden of girls,

Come hither, the dances are done,

In gloss of satin and glimmer of pearls,

Queen lily and rose in one;

Shine out, little head, sunning over with curls.

To the flowers, and be their sun.


There has fallen a splendid tear

From the passion-flower at the gate.

She is coming, my dove, my dear;

She is coming, my life, my fate;

The red rose cries, 'She is near, she is near;'

And the white rose weeps, 'She is late;'

The larkspur listens, 'I hear, I hear;'

And the lily whispers, 'I wait.'


She is coming, my own, my sweet;

Were it ever so airy a tread,

My heart would hear her and beat,

Were it earth in an earthy bed;

My dust would hear her and beat,

Had I lain for a century dead;

Would start and tremble under her feet,

And blossom in purple and red.

Love After Love
DEREK WALCOTT

The time will come

when, with elation

you will greet yourself arriving

at your own door, in your own mirror

and each will smile at the other's welcome,


and say, sit here. Eat.

You will love again the stranger who was your self.

Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart

to itself, to the stranger who has loved you


all your life, whom you ignored

for another, who knows you by heart.

Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,


the photographs, the desperate notes,

peel your own image from the mirror.

Sit. Feast on your life.


Desire
ALICE WALKER

My desire

is always the same; wherever Life

deposits me:

I want to stick my toe

& soon my whole body

into the water.

I want to shake out a fat broom

& sweep dried leaves

bruised blossoms

dead insects

& dust.

I want to grow

something.

It seems impossible that desire

can sometimes transform into devotion;

but this has happened.

And that is how I've survived:

how the hole

I carefully tended

in the garden of my heart

grew a heart

to fill it.


Don’t Be Like Those Who Ask For Everything
ALICE WALKER

Don’t be like those who ask for everything:

praise, a blurb, a free ride in my rented

limousine. They ask for everything but never offer

anything in return.

Be like those who can see that my feet ache

from across a crowded room

that a foot rub

if I’m agreeable

never mind the staring

is the best way to smile

& say hello

to me.


Expect Nothing
ALICE WALKER

Expect nothing. Live frugally

On surprise.

become a stranger

To need of pity

Or, if compassion be freely

Given out

Take only enough

Stop short of urge to plead

Then purge away the need.


Wish for nothing larger

Than your own small heart

Or greater than a star;

Tame wild disappointment

With caress unmoved and cold

Make of it a parka

For your soul.


Discover the reason why

So tiny human midget

Exists at all

So scared unwise

But expect nothing. Live frugally

On surprise.


Going Out To The Garden
ALICE WALKER

Going out to the garden

this morning

to plant seeds

for my winter greens

-the strong, fiery mustard

& the milder

broadleaf turnip-

I saw a gecko

who

like the rest of us

has been

reeling

from the heat.


Geckos like heat

I know this

but the heat

these last few days

has been excessive

for us

& for them.


A spray of water

from the hose

touched its skin:

I thought it would

run away.

There are crevices

aplenty

to hide in:

the garden wall

is made of stones.


But no

not only

did the gecko

not run away

it appeared

to raise

its eyes

& head

looking for more.


I gave it.


Squirt after

squirt

of cooling

spray

from the green

garden hose.


Is it the end

of the world?

It seemed to ask.

This bliss,

is it Paradise?


I bathed it

until we were both

washed clean

of the troubles

of this world

at least for this moment:

this moment of pleasure

of gecko

joy

as I with so much happiness

played Goddess

to Gecko.


An Irish Airman Foresees His Death
WILLIAM BUTLER YEATS

I know that I shall meet my fate

Somewhere among the clouds above;

Those that I fight I do not hate

Those that I guard I do not love;

My country is Kiltartan Cross,

My countrymen Kiltartan’s poor,

No likely end could bring them loss

Or leave them happier than before.

Nor law, nor duty bade me fight,

Nor public man, nor cheering crowds,

A lonely impulse of delight

Drove to this tumult in the clouds;

I balanced all, brought all to mind,

The years to come seemed waste of breath,

A waste of breath the years behind

In balance with this life, this death.