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Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 17726 comments Please share your favorite poems here. Heard any poetry news? Let us know. Heard of some new poetry books? Do tell !

Post here about all this poetry !

message 2: by Alias Reader (last edited Dec 31, 2012 06:25PM) (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 17726 comments Auld Lang Syne

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And auld lang syne.


For auld lang syne, my jo,
For auld lang syne,
We'll tak a cup o' kindness yet,
For auld lang syne,

And surely ye'll be your pint-stowp!
And surely I'll be mine!
And we'll tak a cup o' kindness yet,
For auld lang syne.

~~~Scottish poet Robert Burns

Eighteenth-century Scottish poet Robert Burns may well be most famous not for a poem he wrote, exactly, but for a poem he wrote down. According to Burns Country, a comprehensive website devoted to the poet, Burns, in a letter to an acquaintance, wrote, "There is an old song and tune which has often thrilled through my soul. You know I am an enthusiast in old Scotch songs. I shall give you the verses on the other sheet... Light be the turf on the breast of the heaven-inspired poet who composed this glorious fragment! There is more of the fire of native genius in it than in half a dozen of modern English Bacchanalians."

That song was a version that Burns fashioned of "Auld Lang Syne," which annually rings in the New Year at parties across the world, though most often sung out of tune and with improvised lyrics, as it has been described as "the song that nobody knows." Though the history of the authorship of the poem is labyrinthine and disputed, Burns is generally credited with penning at least two original stanzas to the version that is most familiar to revelers of the New Year.

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Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 17726 comments The Passing of the Year

by Robert W. Service

My glass is filled, my pipe is lit,
My den is all a cosy glow;
And snug before the fire I sit,
And wait to feel the old year go.
I dedicate to solemn thought
Amid my too-unthinking days,
This sober moment, sadly fraught
With much of blame, with little praise.

Old Year! upon the Stage of Time
You stand to bow your last adieu;
A moment, and the prompter's chime
Will ring the curtain down on you.
Your mien is sad, your step is slow;
You falter as a Sage in pain;
Yet turn, Old Year, before you go,
And face your audience again.

That sphinx-like face, remote, austere,
Let us all read, whate'er the cost:
O Maiden! why that bitter tear?
Is it for dear one you have lost?
Is it for fond illusion gone?
For trusted lover proved untrue?
O sweet girl-face, so sad, so wan
What hath the Old Year meant to you?

And you, O neighbour on my right
So sleek, so prosperously clad!
What see you in that aged wight
That makes your smile so gay and glad?
What opportunity unmissed?
What golden gain, what pride of place?
What splendid hope? O Optimist!
What read you in that withered face?

And You, deep shrinking in the gloom,
What find you in that filmy gaze?
What menace of a tragic doom?
What dark, condemning yesterdays?
What urge to crime, what evil done?
What cold, confronting shape of fear?
O haggard, haunted, hidden One
What see you in the dying year?

And so from face to face I flit,
The countless eyes that stare and stare;
Some are with approbation lit,
And some are shadowed with despair.
Some show a smile and some a frown;
Some joy and hope, some pain and woe:
Enough! Oh, ring the curtain down!
Old weary year! it's time to go.

My pipe is out, my glass is dry;
My fire is almost ashes too;
But once again, before you go,
And I prepare to meet the New:
Old Year! a parting word that's true,
For we've been comrades, you and I --
I thank God for each day of you;
There! bless you now! Old Year, good-bye!

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Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 17726 comments Poets Who Look Death in the Eye
Poems on Mortality by C. K. Williams and Cynthia Cruz

The poets C. K. Williams and Cynthia Cruz, at first glance, couldn’t seem more different. Mr. Williams owns a Pulitzer and has published more than 20 books; her latest book is just Ms. Cruz’s second. He casts long, serpentine lines upon the page; she savors the cryptic burst. And Mr. Williams was born into the same 1930s Newark that shaped Philip Roth, while Ms. Cruz came of age in Santa Cruz, Calif., skateboarding and listening to punk.

He’s analog. She’s digital. But each writer’s new collection is a bracing meditation on mortality. In “Writers Writing Dying” Mr. Williams, who is 76, squints at the near horizon of his own passing, while in “The Glimmering Room,” Ms. Cruz homes in on deaths that arrive too soon. And with the precision and passion in their (mostly) well-honed lines both writers show that they also know how to make love to the page, urging the reader to go slow — which is how all poetry should be read.

Mr. Williams is an old pro of the conversational barroom line, the rangy line — sometimes raw boned and sinewy, sometimes windy and flabby — that Walt Whitman and Robinson Jeffers used in trying to lasso and hogtie the whole of American experience. It still serves him well, as in the long poem “Newark Noir,” in which he tries to distill his hometown to its essence, using the color black as an artistic filter:

“The filthy tires hung on hooks in the garage-store we had to pass through to get to our minuscule shul./Black Book of Europe, proof of the war on the Jews — illicit volume, as forbidden to Jewish children as porn.”

“Writers Writing Dying” is a solid addition to Mr. Williams’s house of verse, and in it he pays his respects to literary ancestors. Their names are planted throughout like grave markers: Frost, Hopkins and Colette; Blake, Dickens and Larkin; Keats, Yeats and Rilke; Basho, Bishop and Neruda — and many more.

But amid the nods to dead teachers (and vivid memories of primal sexual fires that still smolder) he mucks around in the swamp of his own mortality. In “Poem for Myself for My Birthday” he writes, “this time my birthday’s a tractor-trailer skidding sideways on ice and I’m noodling by on my bike.” And in “Salt” he notes, “I’m here on the long low-tide beach of age with briny time/licking insidious eddies over my toes.”

Even so, more than 40 years since his first book, Mr. Williams isn’t quite ready to quit. “But, ah, I’d still/if I could lie down like a mare giving birth,” he writes in “Whacked,” “arm in my own uterine channel to tug out another,/one more, only one more, poor damp little poem, then I’ll be happy — I promise, I swear.”

After the prosy music of Mr. Williams’s lines, Ms. Cruz’s poems are an ecstatic overdose of language and emotion.

Her razor-wire stanzas in “The Glimmering Room,” even better than her fine debut, “Ruin” (Alice James Books, 2006), are full of too-young desolation angels, “the other almost-girls” and “the boys who want to die.”

This powerful poetry is a heart offering by way of Ms. Cruz’s ancestor-sisters Emily Dickinson and Sylvia Plath. In “Kingdom of Dirt” she seduces the reader like this:

Meet me in the love-
Burned orchard
Where the beautiful doomed
Meet at last.

This book is her charred orchard.

These short, bitter lines pulse with the pain and fracture from the other other America, the darkest side of the underbelly. In these poems, with titles like “Chronic,” “The Great Destroyer” and “Death Star,” Ms. Cruz does more than just brood on death, mental illness and the minefields of girlhood — she gets this close to the thing itself, to “the pilot/Blue light of the mind” going out, as in lines like these:

From “Eleven”:

The traveling minstrel show
Called girlhood —
I burned it
Down to the ground.

From “Strange Gospels”: “Childhood, that delicious coma./And us girls, with our pink plush/Unicorns, smashed on Paxil at the edge.”

And from “New York State (2)”:

We stand in the Tundra of Lockdown
Waiting for our lives
Never to begin.

Her music can be simple, subtle: “I’m going home/Broken” — worlds of woe packed into all those long O’s. But it can also bring joy to the tongue, as in “Molotov”: “Pretty machete like/Paper Mache confetti of/Dropped cluster bombs.”

These are melancholy spells of damage and sad madness chanted by children high on glue, crystal meth and “dream pills” who can’t keep up with this too-fast world, boys and girls who have become prey: “My friend Billy dressed as a boy,” Ms. Cruz writes in “California.” “She cut her long blonde hair off/So that her father would stop/Always touching her.”

“The Glimmering Room” is an exquisite fever dream of drugs, anorexia and unwanted sex (in both senses of the word) populated by young women and men — the walking dead — who have lost all sense of where the edge is. “I have always been drawn to this,” Ms. Cruz said in an online interview with The Rumpus, “have always wanted to turn the terrible into the beautiful.”

Her fierce care for these characters and the attention she lavishes on them redeems them. And she declines to leave the reader and her lonely children with mere despair. The last lines of the book’s final poem, “Gone, Galore,” leaven the suffering in “The Glimmering Room” with a tender touch, like a parent brushing the hair from a child’s eyes:

The voices of children live on inside us
Strange sister,
Walk into the white sun
With me.

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Madrano (madran) | 3732 comments It must be a real boon to one's career to have an article like that written about your work in the Times. I was unfamiliar with either poet and am glad for the introduction. Has anyone here read any works by these two?

And thanks for two great poems to begin the new year. I like when i hear the music for "Auld Lang Syne" in films which aren't about New Year's Eve. Just this weekend we saw one but i cannot recall what it was. DH & i were both struck by the idea that it truly is about friendship (& not drunken parties), thanks to the insertion in this film. Neat.

message 6: by Alias Reader (last edited Jan 10, 2013 09:25AM) (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 17726 comments January 10

It's the birthday of the poet Dorianne Laux born on this day in 1952 in Augusta, Maine. She graduated from high school, and she liked writing poems and took some classes at the local college, but she was also a single mom and worked various odd jobs — in a gas station, a sanatorium, a donut shop, and as a maid — so she didn't have much time to write.

She was living in California, working at a restaurant, and her therapist gave her the address of a bookstore and told her she should go there and listen to poets read their work. So she did, and became friends with them, and started writing all the time, and went on to write several books of poetry and win awards. Her books include Facts About the Moon (2005), Superman: The Chapbook (2008), and The Book of Men: Poems (2012), which came out last summer.

She says: "Every poem I write falls short in some important way. But I go on trying to write the one that won't.

***The Poetry Foundation
National broadcasts of The Writer's Almanac are supported by The Poetry Foundation, celebrating 100 years of Poetry magazine in 2012

Facts About the Moon

The Book of Men

What We Carry

Dorianne Laux Dorianne Laux

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Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 17726 comments January 10

It's the birthday of the poet Philip Levine born in Detroit in 1928. His parents were Russian-Jewish immigrants, and as a young boy, he sat around listening to his parents and their friends discuss left-wing politics. It was the Great Depression, and he started to think that the real heroes might be the ordinary hardworking people he saw all around him in Detroit. He said, "As a boy of 14, I took long walks and talked to the moon and stars, and night after night I would reshape and polish these talks." But he didn't actually start writing until years later. He was working at auto manufacturing plants, and he decided that he needed to write about the men he worked with. He said: "In terms of the literature of the United States, they weren't being heard. Nobody was speaking for them. And as young people will, you know, I took this foolish vow that I would speak for them and that's what my life would be. And sure enough I've gone and done it."

Eventually, Levine went on to a successful career in poetry, and he's known for his extraordinary work ethic, which he learned working in the auto factories. His books include The Names of the Lost (1975), What Work Is (1991), The Simple Truth (1994), and most recently, News of the World (2009).

Philip Levine said, "I think poetry will save nothing from oblivion, but I keep writing about the ordinary because for me it's the home of the extraordinary, the only home."

***The Poetry Foundation
National broadcasts of The Writer's Almanac are supported by The Poetry Foundation, celebrating 100 years of Poetry magazine in 2012

The Simple Truth

New Selected Poems

What Work Is

News of the World

Philip Levine Philip Levine

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Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 17726 comments Inaugural poet:

The New York Times profiles poet Richard Blanco, who has been chosen as the 2013 inaugural poet, and his relationship with President Obama.

WASHINGTON — From the moment Barack Obama burst onto the political scene, the poet Richard Blanco, a son of Cuban exiles, says he felt “a spiritual connection” with the man who would become the nation’s 44th president.

Like Mr. Obama, who chronicled his multicultural upbringing in a best-selling autobiography, “Dreams From My Father,” Mr. Blanco has been on a quest for personal identity through the written word. He said his affinity for Mr. Obama springs from his own feeling of straddling different worlds; he is Latino and gay (and worked as a civil engineer while pursuing poetry). His poems are laden with longing for the sights and smells of the land his parents left behind.

Now Mr. Obama is about to pluck Mr. Blanco out of the relatively obscure and quiet world of poetry and put him on display before the entire world. On Wednesday the president’s inaugural planners will announce that Mr. Blanco is to be the 2013 inaugural poet, joining the ranks of notables like Robert Frost and Maya Angelou.

“Since the beginning of the campaign, I totally related to his life story and the way he speaks of his family, and of course his multicultural background,” Mr. Blanco said in a telephone interview from the rural village of Bethel, Me., where he lives with his partner. “There has always been a spiritual connection in that sense. I feel in some ways that when I’m writing about my family, I’m writing about him.”

Mr. Blanco must now compose an original poem for the president’s ceremonial swearing-in on the steps of the Capitol on Jan. 21. (Mr. Obama will take the official oath at the White House on Jan. 20, as required by the Constitution.) Addie Whisenant, the inaugural committee’s spokeswoman, said Mr. Obama picked Mr. Blanco because the poet’s “deeply personal poems are rooted in the idea of what it means to be an American.”

Friends of Mr. Blanco’s, and fellow poets, say the president could not have found a more perfect fit.

“I think he was chosen because his America is very similar to the president’s America,” said Liz Balmaseda, who met Mr. Blanco in the mid-1990s when he was just emerging as a poet, and she was working as a columnist for The Miami Herald. “You don’t have to be an exile, you don’t have to be Latino or gay to get the yearning in Richard’s poetry.”

Mr. Blanco, 44, was conceived in Cuba, born in Spain and raised and educated in Miami, where his mother was a bank teller, his father a bookkeeper, and his grandmother — “abuela” in his poems — was a looming, powerful presence. Family folklore has it that he was named for Richard M. Nixon, his father’s favorite president, who took a strong stand against Fidel Castro.

The Blanco home was a modest place where pork was served on Thanksgiving (in his first published poem, “América,” Mr. Blanco writes that he insisted one year on having turkey), and Latin music played on holidays and birthdays. Theirs was a world dominated by food and family, where “mango,” as Mr. Blanco writes in another poem, “Mango, Number 61,” “was abuela and I hunched over the counter covered with the Spanish newspaper, devouring the dissected flesh of the fruit slithering like molten gold through our fingers.”

Like many immigrant families, Mr. Blanco’s parents wanted a better life for their son. “The business was survival,” he said. He was instructed that he had three career choices: doctor, lawyer or engineer. He was “a whiz at math,” he said, so he chose engineering, suppressing his creative side (and his homosexuality) to win the approval of his grandmother, who thought he was too feminine.

As an engineer, Mr. Blanco helped design bridges, road improvements and an architectural site plan for City Hall in South Miami. But in his mid-20s, he said, he began asking himself questions about “identity and cultural negotiations and who am I, where do I belong, what is this stuff about Cuba my parents keep talking about?” Suddenly he felt “a deep need” to write.

Mr. Blanco decided to pursue a master’s degree in fine arts and creative writing, taking courses at night at Florida International University, where he had earned his engineering degree. His mentor there, Campbell McGrath (who also happens to be a childhood friend of Elizabeth Alexander, Mr. Obama’s first inaugural poet), said Mr. Blanco’s facility with numbers and structural design shines through in his writing.

“Richard was always a complete engineer within poetry,” Professor McGrath said. “If you said it needs a little work here or there, a whole transfiguration of a poem emerged. He understood revision not to be just a touch-up job but a complete reimagining, a reworking. I know that’s connected to his engineering skill.”

Mr. Blanco’s first collection, “City of a Hundred Fires,” which grew out of his graduate thesis, won the 1997 Agnes Lynch Starrett Poetry Prize, a prestigious literary award for a first full-length book of poetry, and was published the next year by the University of Pittsburgh Press. Soon he was flooded with teaching offers; he taught for a time at Central Connecticut State University in New Britain, and Georgetown University and American University in Washington while continuing his engineering work. Only recently did he give up engineering to write full time.

While “City of a Hundred Fires” and Mr. Blanco’s second book, “Directions to the Beach of the Dead” (University of Arizona Press, 2005) explore his Cuban heritage, Mr. Blanco’s most recent collection, “Looking for the Gulf Motel,” published last year, incorporates his life as a gay man in the very conservative Cuban culture.

“It’s trying to understand how I fit between negotiating the world, between being mainstream gay and being Cuban gay,” he said.

Now Mr. Blanco, who is also at work on a memoir, is focused on an entirely new and, colleagues say, exceedingly difficult endeavor: composing what is known in his trade as an “occasional poem,” written to commemorate a specific event. After learning of his selection on Dec. 12 — he has kept it a secret even from his mother — he began drafting three poems; the Obama team will pick one for him to read at the inaugural ceremony.

“The challenge,” he said, “is how to be me in the poem, to have a voice that’s still intimate but yet can encompass a multitude of what America is.”

Mr. Blanco will be the nation’s fifth inaugural poet; the practice was begun by John F. Kennedy, picked up by Bill Clinton and continued by Mr. Obama. Cynics might say that in picking a Latino gay poet, Mr. Obama is covering his political bases; some gay people objected to his selection of the Rev. Rick Warren, an opponent of same-sex marriage, to deliver the invocation at his 2009 inauguration.

But Mr. Blanco says Mr. Obama’s inaugural theme, “Our People, Our Future,” resonates with him. He wants to write, he said, about “the salt-of-the-earth sense that I think all Americans have, of hard work, we can work it out together, that incredible American spirit that after 200-plus years is still there.”

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Madrano (madran) | 3732 comments Thanks for the info on Blanco, a poet whose name & work is unfamiliar to me. While the poems shared at inaugural events may not be memorable, they do offer a sort of pulse on what the US is to many. I look forward to this one even more now that i've read the above. Thanks. Here's a poem by Blanco, as well as a link to more.

Place of Mind

Mist haunts the city, tears of rain fall
from the awnings and window ledges.
The search for myself begins an echo
drifting away the moment I arrive.

From the awnings and window ledges
follow the rain flowing down the streets.
The moment I arrive, I drift away:
Why am I always imagining the sea?

Follow the rain flowing down the streets
vanishing into the mouths of gutters.
Why am I always imagining the sea?
A breath, a wave—a breath, a wave.

Vanishing into the mouths of gutters,
rain becomes lake, river, ocean again.
A breath, a wave—a breath, a wave
always beginning, yet always ending.

Rain becomes lake, river, ocean, again
mist haunts the city, tears of rain fall
always ending, yet always beginning,
the search for myself ends in an echo.

message 10: by Alias Reader (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 17726 comments Thanks for the poem, Deb. I hope he choses something a bit more upbeat for inauguration day !

message 11: by Madrano (new)

Madrano (madran) | 3732 comments I suspect that will be the case. I liked the cyclical theme of the above poem, though.

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Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 17726 comments Tuesday is Poetry at Work Day

message 13: by Madrano (new)

Madrano (madran) | 3732 comments Funny posters. My first thought was "Tote that Barge" but it turns out that is from the song "Ol' Man River." Thanks for the notice.

message 14: by Madrano (new)

Madrano (madran) | 3732 comments I actually missed watching the Inauguration, due to some funky sleeping. SO, i had forgotten about the Inaugural Poem. Did you see it? Want to? Here are links about the poem. In my next post, i'll share the entire work. It's 69-lines long, so be prepared.

But first, here is a video of Richard Blanco reading his work at the ceremony.

Here is a review of the poem, as poetry, not strictly on patriotic terms, which is how all the other comments i read considered it. It takes a UK paper to do this, right?

Finally, Yahoo! requested submissions of Inaugural poems from 6 people. Five of the 6 results are shared at this site, . The 6th wasn't shared, due to what Yahoo! considered inappropriate language. (Heck, i learned a word i didn't know in another article about the Yahoo! poems.)


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Madrano (madran) | 3732 comments And here is the Inauguration poem by Richard Blanco.

"One Today"
One sun rose on us today, kindled over our shores,
peeking over the Smokies, greeting the faces
of the Great Lakes, spreading a simple truth
across the Great Plains, then charging across the Rockies.
One light, waking up rooftops, under each one, a story
told by our silent gestures moving behind windows.

My face, your face, millions of faces in morning's mirrors,
each one yawning to life, crescendoing into our day:
pencil-yellow school buses, the rhythm of traffic lights,
fruit stands: apples, limes, and oranges arrayed like rainbows
begging our praise. Silver trucks heavy with oil or paper—
bricks or milk, teeming over highways alongside us,
on our way to clean tables, read ledgers, or save lives—
to teach geometry, or ring-up groceries as my mother did
for twenty years, so I could write this poem.

All of us as vital as the one light we move through,
the same light on blackboards with lessons for the day:
equations to solve, history to question, or atoms imagined,
the "I have a dream" we keep dreaming,
or the impossible vocabulary of sorrow that won't explain
the empty desks of twenty children marked absent
today, and forever. Many prayers, but one light
breathing color into stained glass windows,
life into the faces of bronze statues, warmth
onto the steps of our museums and park benches
as mothers watch children slide into the day.

One ground. Our ground, rooting us to every stalk
of corn, every head of wheat sown by sweat
and hands, hands gleaning coal or planting windmills
in deserts and hilltops that keep us warm, hands
digging trenches, routing pipes and cables, hands
as worn as my father's cutting sugarcane
so my brother and I could have books and shoes.

The dust of farms and deserts, cities and plains
mingled by one wind—our breath. Breathe. Hear it
through the day's gorgeous din of honking cabs,
buses launching down avenues, the symphony
of footsteps, guitars, and screeching subways,
the unexpected song bird on your clothes line.

Hear: squeaky playground swings, trains whistling,
or whispers across café tables, Hear: the doors we open
for each other all day, saying: hello, shalom,
buon giorno, howdy, namaste, or buenos días
in the language my mother taught me—in every language
spoken into one wind carrying our lives
without prejudice, as these words break from my lips.

One sky: since the Appalachians and Sierras claimed
their majesty, and the Mississippi and Colorado worked
their way to the sea. Thank the work of our hands:
weaving steel into bridges, finishing one more report
for the boss on time, stitching another wound
or uniform, the first brush stroke on a portrait,
or the last floor on the Freedom Tower
jutting into a sky that yields to our resilience.

One sky, toward which we sometimes lift our eyes
tired from work: some days guessing at the weather
of our lives, some days giving thanks for a love
that loves you back, sometimes praising a mother
who knew how to give, or forgiving a father
who couldn't give what you wanted.

We head home: through the gloss of rain or weight
of snow, or the plum blush of dusk, but always—home,
always under one sky, our sky. And always one moon
like a silent drum tapping on every rooftop
and every window, of one country—all of us—
facing the stars
hope—a new constellation
waiting for us to map it,
waiting for us to name it—together.

message 16: by Alias Reader (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 17726 comments I saw the Guardian negative review the other day.

I don't have time at the moment to read the poem, but thanks for posting it.

message 17: by Madrano (new)

Madrano (madran) | 3732 comments I thought it was a nice poem, following the day, giving his personal situation a nod, as well as the planet itself. Still,i could understand the objection. It is long, though. Good t hing it wasn't "too" cold that day or Blanco might have found himself to be an unpopular man. ;-)

message 18: by Alias Reader (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 17726 comments February 1

It's the birthday of the poet Langston Hughes (, born in Joplin, Missouri (1902). His parents got divorced when he was a baby and he was sent to live with his grandmother, Mary Leary Langston, in Lawrence, Kansas. His grandmother's first husband was Lewis Sheridan Leary, a harness maker and abolitionist. Leary joined John Brown in the raid on Harper's Ferry, and he was killed there. Mary kept Leary's bloodstained shawl, and when her grandson was a baby she wrapped him in it. After she died, he inherited the shawl. Many years later, his apartment in Harlem flooded, and the shawl was the only item that he salvaged.

Langston was fascinated by the streetcars in Lawrence, and he wanted to be a streetcar conductor when he grew up. But he also loved books. The Lawrence Public Library was one of the only integrated public buildings in the city, and he spent as much time there as possible. He said, "Then it was that books began to happen to me, and I began to believe in nothing but books and the wonderful world in books where if people suffered, they suffered in beautiful language, not in monosyllables, as we did in Kansas."

In 1926, when he was 24 years old, he published his first book of poetry, The Weary Blues, and an essay, "The Negro Artist and the Racial Mountain," which thrust him into the national spotlight. And over the next 40 years, Hughes wrote 16 books of poetry, more than 20 plays, 10 collections of short stories, a couple of novels, children's books, essays, radio scripts, and even song lyrics. He died in 1967, from complications of prostate cancer.

*** The Poetry Foundation
National broadcasts of The Writer's Almanac are supported by The Poetry Foundation, celebrating 100 years of Poetry magazine in 2012

The Writer's Almanac is produced by Prairie Home Productions and presented by American Public Media.

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Madrano (madran) | 3732 comments Langston Hughes best known poem is "A Dream Deferred", thanks to Lorraine Hansberry's play, A Raisin in the Sun. Here it is.

A Dream Deferred
What happens to a dream deferred?
Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore--
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over--
like a syrupy sweet?

Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.

Or does it explode?

At this link you can find many, many others by him.

As I Grew Older

It was a long time ago.
I have almost forgotten my dream.
But it was there then,
In front of me,
Bright like a sun--
My dream.
And then the wall rose,
Rose slowly,
Between me and my dream.
Rose until it touched the sky--
The wall.
I am black.
I lie down in the shadow.
No longer the light of my dream before me,
Above me.
Only the thick wall.
Only the shadow.
My hands!
My dark hands!
Break through the wall!
Find my dream!
Help me to shatter this darkness,
To smash this night,
To break this shadow
Into a thousand lights of sun,
Into a thousand whirling dreams
Of sun!

message 20: by Alias Reader (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 17726 comments Thanks for sharing the Langston poems, Deb !

message 21: by Connie (new)

Connie G (connie_g) | 285 comments Wonderful poems, Deb.

message 22: by Alias Reader (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 17726 comments Feb 22

It's the birthday of the woman who wrote "My candle burns at both ends;/ It will not last the night; / But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends — / It gives a lovely light!" Edna St. Vincent Millay the first woman to win the Pulitzer Prize for poetry, was born on this day in 1892 in Rockland, Maine.

After being educated at Vassar, she moved to Greenwich Village and lived a Jazz Age Bohemian life, which revolved around poetry and love affairs. She was beautiful and alluring and many men and women fell in love with her. Critic Edmund Wilson asked her to marry him. She said no. He later reflected that falling in love with her "was so common an experience, so almost inevitable a consequence of knowing her in those days."

She wrote: "Safe upon the solid rock the ugly houses stand: / Come and see my shining palace built upon the sand!"

***The Poetry Foundation
National broadcasts of The Writer's Almanac are supported by The Poetry Foundation

The Writer's Almanac is produced by Prairie Home Productions and presented by American Public Media.

Edna St. Vincent Millay Edna St. Vincent Millay

message 23: by Carol (new)

Carol (goodreadscomcarolann) | 830 comments Millay received the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1923 for:

*The Ballad of the Harp-Weaver

This poem is one of my favorites, not only is it a testimony of a mother's unconditional love for her child. But is also Millay's attempt to expose the traditional role of women in society. The harp symbolizes women's ambitions outside of motherhood. (Both the harp and weaving are associated with women, as far back as Ancient Egypt circa 2500 BC.) The poem asks for society to see women as more than one dimensional.

* A Few Figs from Thistles

* Eight Sonnets in American Poetry

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Carol (goodreadscomcarolann) | 830 comments Madrano wrote: "Langston Hughes best known poem is "A Dream Deferred", thanks to Lorraine Hansberry's play, A Raisin in the Sun..."

Hughes was part of the Harlem Renaissance scene in NYC. Hughes published "Montage of a Dream Deferred" (a book-length poem) in 1951. It is in the "Jazz poetry style" which demonstrates the feel of improvisation in a jazz-like rhythm.

I wonder how much Hughes's "Dream Deferred" had an impact on Martin Luther King's 1963 "I have a Dream" speech?!

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Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 17726 comments Thanks for the links, Carol. Very nice.

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Carol (goodreadscomcarolann) | 830 comments No coward soul of mine
No trembler in the world's storm-troubled sphere;
I see Heaven glories shine
And Faith shines equal arming me from Fear.

O God within my breast,
Almighty ever-present Deity;
Life, that in me hast rest
As I -- Undying Life -- have power in Thee.

Vain are the thousand creeds
That move men's hearts -- unutterably vain,
Worthless as withered weeds
Or idlest froth amid the boundless main --

To waken doubt in one
Holding so fast by thy infinity
So surely anchored on
The steadfast rock of Immortality.

With wide--embracing love
Thy spirit animates eternal years;
Pervades and broods above,
Changes, sustains, dissolves, creates and rears;

Though Earth and moon were gone
And suns and universes ceased to be,
And thou were left alone
Every Existence would exist in thee.

There is not room for Death
Nor atom that his might could render void
Since thou are Being and Breath
And what thou art may never be destroyed.

--Emily Jane Bronte (1818 -- 1848)

message 27: by Carol (new)

Carol (goodreadscomcarolann) | 830 comments Feb 21st was the birthday of poet, playwright and critic W. H. Auden (1907 -- 1973)

The Age of Anxiety A Baroque Eclogue by W.H. Auden I thought that I would attempt to read/understand The Age of Anxiety: A Baroque Eclogue for which he won 1948 Pulitzer Prize. It is a long poem in six parts, in eclogue form, written mostly in a modern version of Anglo-Saxon alliterative verse. It is man's quest to find substance and identity in a shifting and increasingly industrialized world.

"A poet is, before anything else, a person who is passionately in love with language." -- W. H. Auden

Wystan Hugh Auden was born in York, England, in 1907. He moved to Birmingham during childhood and was educated at Christ Church, Oxford. As a young man he was influenced by the poetry of Thomas Hardy and Robert Frost, as well as William Blake, Emily Dickinson, Gerard Manley Hopkins, and Old English verse. At Oxford his precocity as a poet was immediately apparent, and he formed lifelong friendships with two fellow writers, Stephen Spender and Christopher Isherwood.

In 1928, his collection Poems was privately printed, but it wasn't until 1930, when another collection titled Poems (though its contents were different) was published, that Auden was established as the leading voice of a new generation.

Ever since, he has been admired for his unsurpassed technical virtuosity and an ability to write poems in nearly every imaginable verse form; the incorporation in his work of popular culture, current events, and vernacular speech; and also for the vast range of his intellect, which drew easily from an extraordinary variety of literatures, art forms, social and political theories, and scientific and technical information. He had a remarkable wit, and often mimicked the writing styles of other poets such as Dickinson, W. B. Yeats, and Henry James. His poetry frequently recounts, literally or metaphorically, a journey or quest, and his travels provided rich material for his verse.

He married Erika Mann, the daughter of the German novelist Thomas Mann, in 1935 shown in photo above. It was a marriage of convenience so that Erika could gain British citizenship and escape Nazi Germany. Auden was homosexual.

He visited Germany, Iceland, and China, served in the Spanish Civil war, and in 1939 moved to the United States, where he met his lover, Chester Kallman, and became an American citizen. His own beliefs changed radically between his youthful career in England, when he was an ardent advocate of socialism and Freudian psychoanalysis, and his later phase in America, when his central preoccupation became Christianity and the theology of modern Protestant theologians. A prolific writer, Auden was also a noted playwright, librettist, editor, and essayist. Generally considered the greatest English poet of the twentieth century, his work has exerted a major influence on succeeding generations of poets on both sides of the Atlantic.

W. H. Auden was a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets from 1954 to 1973, and divided most of the second half of his life between residences in New York City and Austria. He died in Vienna in 1973.

message 28: by Alias Reader (last edited Feb 24, 2013 06:11AM) (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 17726 comments Carol wrote: "Feb 21st was the birthday of poet, playwright and critic W. H. Auden (1907 -- 1973)


Great post, Carol ! Thank you !

Can I clone you ? Gosh, if I could get even a tiny few of our lurkers to be like you, what an amazing place BNC would be. Maybe you will inspire them to come out of lurkdom.

message 29: by Carol (last edited Feb 25, 2013 06:39PM) (new)

Carol (goodreadscomcarolann) | 830 comments You two are too nice! I like posting images and inquiring about things. It's similar to my former career.

For 19 years I worked in Marketing, Communications and Education but unfortunately I became very ill and eventually diagnosed years later. It was like somebody pulled the rug out from under me. It was a long, difficult period -- I had to start the process for disability, which was horrible. But, thank God, I am much better today.

message 30: by Alias Reader (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 17726 comments Carol wrote: But thank God, I am much better today.


I'm sorry to hear you were so ill, but I'm glad to hear you are much better now.

message 31: by Carol (new)

Carol (goodreadscomcarolann) | 830 comments Alias Reader wrote: "I'm glad to hear you are much better now."


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Madrano (madran) | 3732 comments Carol wrote: "For 19 years I worked in Marketing, Communications and Education but unfortunately I became very ill and eventually diagnosed years later...."

I am belatedly joining others in appreciation of your posts, Carol. I am sorry to learn of your illness but can understand how that very challenge can transform one's life. It's a pleasure to have you 'mongst us!


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Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 17726 comments March 26

It's the birthday of Robert Frost (1874).Born in San Francisco, he moved to Massachusetts when he was 11. He struggled a long time to become a successful poet. His style was out of fashion almost from the beginning — he was interested in the traditional forms of rhyme and meter, while his contemporaries such as Ezra Pound, William Carlos Williams, and T. S. Eliot were writing in modern free verse.

His early years were difficult. His father was a heavy drinker and died of tuberculosis when Frost was twelve years old, leaving the family impoverished. He had to drop out of college during his first year to work, and tried unsuccessfully to publish poetry. Frost was seriously depressed; at one point he followed a trail into the Dismal Swamp and considered drowning himself. He walked all night through the swamp, but something made him decide to head back home. He worked as teacher for a few years, but he never enjoyed it. Then, in 1900, he and his wife, Elinor, lost their first child. He fell into despair. That year, Frost tried his hand at raising poultry on 30-acre farm after his grandfather took pity on him and bought him a farm in Derry, New Hampshire, in hopes that it would give him a steady income. The experience shaped his poetic voice and provided inspiration for his most popular later poems, but he was a terrible farmer. In a letter to a friend, Frost wrote, "The only thing we had was time and seclusion."

He was 39 when he published his first collection of poems, A Boy's Will (1913), and it was a major success.

***The Poetry Foundation
National broadcasts of The Writer's Almanac are supported by The Poetry Foundation

The Writer's Almanac is produced by Prairie Home Productions and presented by American Public Media.

Robert Frost Robert Frost

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Madrano (madran) | 3732 comments Elsewhere we mentioned Norman Rockwell and how accessible his work is. For me, the same is true of Frost. You can look at what is simply presented but when delving deeper into the works, find layers which are missed by a quick glance. He himself wrote, "A poem begins in delight and ends in wisdom."

The following is from his collection, A Witness Tree.

Come In

As I came to the edge of the woods,
Thrush music -- hark!
Now if it was dusk outside,
Inside it was dark.

Too dark in the woods for a bird
By sleight of wing
To better its perch for the night,
Though it still could sing.

The last of the light of the sun
That had died in the west
Still lived for one song more
In a thrush's breast.

Far in the pillared dark
Thrush music went --
Almost like a call to come in
To the dark and lament.

But no, I was out for stars;
I would not come in.
I meant not even if asked;
And I hadn't been.

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Madrano (madran) | 3732 comments Great tip, Patrice. I'd forgotten that i have seen & heard him reciting his own works. I like to see poets reading their poems, even if they get it wrong. ;-)

message 36: by Carol (last edited Mar 27, 2013 11:41AM) (new)

Carol (goodreadscomcarolann) | 830 comments

The Frost Place in Franconia, NH

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Madrano (madran) | 3732 comments The link Carol supplied led to the site we visited in the early '70s, in Vermont. When we were there, the home was not open to the public but we visited his (& wife Elinor's) grave site in Bennington. Indeed, i'm thinking we could see it from our hotel room at the Walloomsac Inn, an eerie hotel even in the '70s, let alone now that it's closed.

message 38: by Alias Reader (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 17726 comments April is National Poetry Month !

~What is National Poetry Month?
National Poetry Month is a month-long, national celebration of poetry established by the Academy of American Poets. The concept is to widen the attention of individuals and the media—to the art of poetry, to living poets, to our complex poetic heritage, and to poetry books and journals of wide aesthetic range and concern. We hope to increase the visibility and availability of poetry in popular culture while acknowledging and celebrating poetry’s ability to sustain itself in the many places where it is practiced and appreciated.

~Who started it?
The Academy of American Poets has led this initiative from its inception in 1996 and along the way has enlisted a variety of government agencies and officials, educational leaders, publishers, sponsors, poets, and arts organizations to help.

~When is National Poetry Month? April.
Every year since 1996.

message 39: by Alias Reader (last edited Mar 31, 2013 04:20PM) (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 17726 comments 30 Ways to Celebrate National Poetry Month !

~ Post a poem to Book Nook Cafe ! :)

~ Celebrate Poem in Your Pocket Day
The idea is simple: select a poem you love, carry it with you, then share it with co-workers, family, and friends.

~ Read a book of poetry
"Poetry is a response to the daily necessity of getting the world right."

~ Memorize a poem
"Getting a poem or prose passage truly 'by heart' implies getting it by mind and memory and understanding and delight."

~ Revisit a poem
"America is a country of second acts, so today, why not brush the dust off these classics and give them a fresh read?"

~ Put poetry in an unexpected place
"Books should be brought to the doorstep like electricity, or like milk in England: they should be considered utilities."

~ Bring a poem to your place of worship
"We define poetry as the unofficial view of being, and bringing the art of language in contact with your spiritual practices can deepen both."

~ Attend a poetry reading
"Readings have been occurring for decades around the world in universities, bookstores, cafes, corner pubs, and coffeehouses."

~ Play Exquisite Corpse
"Each participant is unaware of what the others have written, thus producing a surprising—sometimes absurd—yet often beautiful poem."

~ Read a poem at an open mic
"It's a great way to meet other writers in your area and find out about your local writing community."

~ Support literary organizations
"Many national and local literary organizations offer programs that reach out to the general public to broaden the recognition of poets and their work."

~ Listen on your commute
"Often, hearing an author read their own work can clarify questions surrounding their work's tone."

~ Subscribe to a literary magazine
"Full of surprising and challenging poetry, short fiction, interviews, and reviews, literary journals are at the forefront of contemporary poetry."

~ Start a notebook on
" lets users build their own personal portable online commonplace book out of the materials on our site."

~ Put a poem in a letter
"It's always a treat to get a letter, but finding a poem in the envelope makes the experience extra special."

~ Watch a poetry movie
"What better time than National Poetry Month to gather some friends, watch a poetry-related movie, and perhaps discuss some of the poet's work after the film?"

~ Take a poem out to lunch
"Adding a poem to lunch puts some poetry in your day and gives you something great to read while you eat."

~ Put a poem on the pavement
"Go one step beyond hopscotch squares and write a poem in chalk on your sidewalk."

~ Recite a poem to family and friends
"You can use holidays or birthdays as an opportunity to celebrate with a poem that is dear to you, or one that reminds you of the season."

~ Organize a poetry reading
"When looking for a venue, consider your local library, coffee shop, bookstore, art gallery, bar or performance space."

~ Promote public support for poetry
"Every year, Congress decides how much money will be given to the National Endowment for the Arts to be distributed all across America."

~ Start a poetry reading group
"Select books that would engage discussion and not intimidate the reader new to poetry."

~ Read interviews and literary criticism
"Reading reviews can also be a helpful exercise and lend direction to your future reading."

~ Buy a book of poems for your library
"Many libraries have undergone or are facing severe cuts in funding. These cuts are often made manifest on library shelves."

~ Start a commonplace book
"Since the Renaissance, devoted readers have been copying their favorite poems and quotations into notebooks to form their own personal anthologies called commonplace books."

~ Integrate poetry with technology
"Many email programs allow you to create personalized signatures that are automatically added to the end of every email you send."

~ Ask the Post Office for more poet stamps
"To be eligible, suggested poets must have been deceased for at least ten years and must be American or of American descent."

~ Sign up for a poetry class or workshop
"Colleges and arts centers often make individual courses in literature and writing available to the general public."

~ Subscribe to our free newsletter
"Short and to the point, the Update, our electronic newsletter, will keep you informed on Academy news and events."

~ Write a letter to a poet
"Let the poets who you are reading know that you appreciate their work by sending them a letter."

~ Visit a poetry landmark
"Visiting physical spaces associated with a favorite writer is a memorable way to pay homage to their life and work."

message 40: by Alias Reader (last edited Mar 31, 2013 04:23PM) (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 17726 comments Poems to Learn by Heart by Caroline KennedyPoems to Learn by Heart
Caroline Kennedy~Caroline Kennedy

There's a poem to celebrate every moment in life-whether it's hitting a home run, watching a sunset, or laughing with your best friend. A poem is a gift of the heart that can inspire, reassure, or challenge us. Memorize it-share it-it's yours forever.

In this diverse collection, a companion to her New York Times #1 best-seller A Family of Poems, Caroline Kennedy has chosen more than a hundred poems that speak to all of us: the young and young at heart, readers new to poetry and devoted fans. These poems explore deep emotions, as well as ordinary experiences. They cover the range of human experience and imagination. Divided into sections about nature, sports, monsters and fairies, friendship and family, this book is full of surprises. Each section is preceded by Caroline's thoughtful introduction reflecting her own family's engagement with and enjoyment of poetry.

Illustrated with striking watercolor paintings by award-winning artist Jon J Muth, this is truly a book for all ages and interests, and one that families will want to share for years to come.

Age Range: 1 and up
Hardcover: 192 pages
Publisher: Disney Press (March 26, 2013)
Language: English

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Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 17726 comments March 31

It's the birthday of the poet Andrew Marvell , born in Winestead, England (1621). His most famous poem is "To His Coy Mistress," about a man trying to convince a young virgin to sleep with him. It begins, "Had we but world enough, and time, this coyness, lady, were no crime," and contains the lines, "But at my back I always hear Time's winged chariot hurrying near."

The Complete Poems

The Poems of Andrew Marvell

To his Coy Mistress

by 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 love's day;
Thou by the Indian Ganges' side
Shouldst 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 than 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 always hear
Time's winged chariot hurrying near;
And yonder all before us lie
Deserts of vast eternity.
Thy beauty shall no more be found,
Nor, in thy marble vault, shall sound
My echoing song; then worms shall try
That long preserv'd virginity,
And your quaint honour turn to dust,
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 hue
Sits on thy skin like morning dew,
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-chapp'd power.
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.

message 42: by Madrano (new)

Madrano (madran) | 3732 comments Ooo! I don't have time to read all the ideas on celebrating Poetry month but intend to do some reciting. Thanks for the reminder, Alias.

The Marvell poem is the only one of his i really like. But his name is a delight, isn't it? Marvell....

message 43: by Lesley (new)

Lesley | 239 comments I bought this book of poetry for Mum not long after it was released and had a quick read through it again when I visited Mum last week; She Walks in Beauty: A Woman's Journey Through Poems. I must admit the lovely cover attracted me, but it is filled with varied works to cover many life stages and situations.

I see from post #44 above, Caroline Kennedy has other collections of poetry out as well.

message 44: by Alias Reader (last edited Apr 07, 2013 04:03PM) (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 17726 comments That's sweet that you bought your mom a book of poetry.
Though I am no poetry expert, it looks like a nice selection of poets.

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Madrano (madran) | 3732 comments Lesley, i've seen the title but didn't follow up, so i'm grateful to you for sharing. I thought it was going to be about Kennedy's pleasure in poetry, not about any woman's lifeline via poems. I look forward to this. The GR reviews were good, with many folks stating they aren't fans of poetry in the first place. Neat.


message 46: by Alias Reader (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 17726 comments Happy Poem In Your Pocket Day !

"Poetry is when an emotion has found its thought and the thought has found words."―Robert Frost

"Simply pick your favorite poem – doesn't matter if it's Shakespeare or Thoreau or Egerton or Young or Silverstein or whoever else – and slip a printed (or handwritten!) copy in your pocket on Thursday morning. What you do with it after that is sort of up to you: Pull it out for a reassuring read on your morning commute? Read it aloud to a friend at lunch? Leave the copy on a bench in the park for someone else to read and enjoy? Your call."

message 47: by Madrano (new)

Madrano (madran) | 3732 comments I'm sure we've used this somewhere on this thread but it bears repeating. From John Adams to his son, John Quincy Adams,

"You will never be alone with a poet in your pocket."

message 48: by Madrano (new)

Madrano (madran) | 3732 comments I thought i'd share this poem today, as it speaks to the longevity of a poet's words. The poet refers to Paul Laurence Dunbar, Civil War veteran and renown poet. I'm not familiar with White's work but like this poem for how it speaks to the way poems live on.

by Charles Frederick White
[To his Mother--Feb., 1906]

Is Dunbar gone, forever and for aye?
No, he is not! his soul has never died;
His spirit form is with us through our day;
Nor in our night does it desert our side.

Though sweet "Li'l' Gal" may weep, "Malindy" mourn,
"The Party" veil its face with solemn crepe
In sorrow for him of whom they were born;
And though we, too, may weep at his sad fate;

Yet one consoling thought remains to cheer
Us in this hour of lamentation deep:
His soul yet lives, is with us year by year.
He is not dead, for in our midst he sleep

Enfolded 'tween the covers of his books.
The old tree, torn with bullets, by the road
Still moans the story of its deadened looks;
The "Ole Mule," with his lazy human load,

Still plods along his weary homeward way;
"Malindy Sings" as sweetly to our mind;
The "Uncalled" hovers round us as to sway
Our lives with "Lyrics," poetry and rhyme.

We need but to unfold his clothbound bier,
To take him from his grave upon our shelves
And lend his inmost soul our closest ear,
And Dunbar lives, and speaks, e'en, as ourselves.

A life we mourn which late we oft extolled;
A work unfinished, yet complete, we read,
Like his, our lives, our talents will unfold
And bloom with beauty, if our hearts we heed.

message 49: by Alias Reader (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 17726 comments Madrano wrote: "I'm sure we've used this somewhere on this thread but it bears repeating. From John Adams to his son, John Quincy Adams,

"You will never be alone with a poet in your pocket." "


Thanks for posting that. If we did mention it, I forgot. As you know I am reading Abigail and John: Portrait of a Marriage

message 50: by Alias Reader (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 17726 comments Madrano wrote: I'm not familiar with White's work but like this poem for how it speaks to the way poems live on.

Indeed. Just like an author, actor or artist lives on through their works.

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