English 10--Poetry Selections

 

Dulce Et Decorum Est  (Wilfred Owen)

 Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of disappointed shells that dropped behind.

GAS! Gas! Quick, boys!-- An ecstasy of fumbling,
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time;
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling
And floundering like a man in fire or lime.--
Dim, through the misty panes and thick green light
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.
In all my dreams, before my helpless sight,
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.

If in some smothering dreams you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil's sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,--
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori.

 

Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori—this is a quotation from the Roman poet Horace, “It is sweet and fitting to die for one’s country.”  Owen died just days before the end of World War I.  He was only 25 years old.

 

 

 

CHOICES  (Nikki Giovanni)

if i can't do
what i want to do
then my job is to not
do what i don't want
to do

it's not the same thing
but it's the best i can
do

if i can't have
what i want . . . then
my job is to want
what i've got
and be satisfied
that at least there
is something more to want

since i can't go
where i need
to go . . . then i must . . . go
where the signs point
through always understanding
parallel movement
isn't lateral

when i can't express
what i really feel
i practice feeling
what i can express
and none of it is equal
i know
but that's why mankind
alone among the animals
learns to cry

 

 

 

 

kidnap poem

ever been kidnapped
by a poet
if i were a poet
i'd kidnap you
put you in my phrases and meter
you to jones beach
or maybe coney island
or maybe just to my house
lyric you in lilacs
dash you in the rain
blend into the beach
to complement my see
play the lyre for you
ode you with my love song
anything to win you
wrap you in the red Black green
show you off to mama
yeah if i were a poet i'd kid
nap you

 

 

DREAMS

 

in my younger years

before i learned

black people aren’t

suppose to dream

i wanted to be

a raelet

and say “dr o wn d in my youn tears”

or “tal kin bout tal kin bout”

 

or majorie hendricks and grind

all up against the mic

and scream

“baaaaaby nightandday

baaaaaby nightandday”

then as i grew up and matured

i became more sensible

and decided i would

settle down

and just become

a sweet inspiration

 

 

A SONG IN THE FRONT YARD (Gwendolyn Brooks)


I've stayed in the front yard all my life.
I want a peek at the back
Where it's rough and untended and hungry weed grows.
A girl gets sick of a rose.


I want to go in the back yard now
And maybe down the alley,
To where the charity children play.
I want a good time today.


They do some wonderful things.
They have some wonderful fun.
My mother sneers, but I say it's fine
How they don't have to go in at quarter to nine.
My mother, she tells me that Johnnie Mae
Will grow up to be a bad woman.
That George'll be taken to Jail soon or late
(On account of last winter he sold our back gate).


But I say it's fine Honest, I do
And I'd like to be a bad woman, too,
And wear the brave stocking of night-black lace
And strut down the streets with paint on my face.

 

 

          We Real Cool

 

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.

 

 

I, Too, Sing America (Langston Hughes)

 

I, too, sing America.

 

I am the darker brother.

They send me to eat in the kitchen

When company comes,

But I laugh,

And eat well,

And grow strong.

 

Tomorrow,

I'll be at the table

When company comes.

Nobody'll dare

Say to me,

"Eat in the kitchen,"

Then.

 

Besides, 

They'll see how beautiful I am

And be ashamed--

 

I, too, am America.

 

 

 

“Harlem: 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
?

 

 

 

 

 

Cross

 

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?

 

"A Study of Reading Habits" (Philip Larkin)

When getting my nose in a book
Cured most things short of school,
It was worth ruining my eyes
To know I could still keep cool,
And deal out the old right hook
To dirty dogs twice my size.

Later, with inch-think specs,
Evil was just my lark:
Me and my cloak and fangs
Had ripping times in the dark.
The women I clubbed with sex!
I broke them up like meringues.

Don't read much now: the dude
Who lets the girl down before
The hero arrives, the chap
Who's yellow and keeps the store,
Seem far too familiar. Get stewed:
Books are a load of crap.

 

 

 

 

 

Much Madness Is Divinest Sense

(Emily Dickinson)

 

MUCH madness is divinest sense

 

To a discerning eye;

 

Much sense the starkest madness.

 

’T is the majority

 

In this, as all, prevails.

        5

Assent, and you are sane;

 

Demur,—you ’re straightway dangerous,

 

And handled with a chain.

 

 

 

 

There Is No Frigate Like a Book

 

THERE is no frigate like a book

 

  To take us lands away,

 

Nor any coursers like a page

 

  Of prancing poetry.

 

  

 

This traverse may the poorest take

        5

  Without oppress of toll;

 

How frugal is the chariot

 

  That bears a human soul!

 

 

 

Apparently With No Surprise

APPARENTLY with no surprise  
To any happy flower,  
The frost beheads it at its play  
In accidental power.  
  
The blond assassin passes on,         5
The sun proceeds unmoved  
To measure off another day  
For an approving God.  

 

 

She Rose to His Requirement

 

SHE rose to his requirement, dropped

 

The playthings of her life

 

To take the honorable work

 

Of woman and of wife.

 

  

 

If aught she missed in her new day

        5

Of amplitude, or awe,

 

Or first prospective, or the gold

 

In using wore away,

 

  

 

It lay unmentioned, as the sea

 

Develops pearl and weed,

        10

But only to himself is known

 

The fathoms they abide.

 

 

Because I Could Not Stop For Death

 

BECAUSE I could not stop for Death,

 

He kindly stopped for me;

 

The carriage held but just ourselves

 

And Immortality.

 

  

 

We slowly drove, he knew no haste,

        5

And I had put away

 

My labor, and my leisure too,

 

For his civility.

 

  

 

We passed the school where children played

 

At wrestling in a ring;

        10

We passed the fields of gazing grain,

 

We passed the setting sun.

 

  

 

We paused before a house that seemed

 

A swelling of the ground;

 

The roof was scarcely visible,

        15

The cornice but a mound.

 

  

 

Since then ’t is centuries; but each

 

Feels shorter than the day

 

I first surmised the horses’ heads

 

Were toward eternity.

        20

 

 

 

 

Hard Rock Returns to Prison from the Hospital
For the Criminally Insane
(Etheridge Knight)

Hard Rock  was "known not to take no s____

From nobody," and he had the scars to prove it:

Split purple lips, lumped ears, welts above

His yellow eyes, and one long scar that cut

Across his temple and plowed through a thick

Canopy of kinky hair.

 

The WORD was that Hard Rock wasn't a mean nigger

Anymore, that the doctors had bored a hole in his head,

Cut out part of his brain, and shot electricity

Through the rest. When they brought Hard Rock back,

Handcuffed and chained, he was turned loose,

Like a freshly gelded stallion, to try his new status.

And we all waited and watched, like a herd of sheep,

To see if the WORD was true.

 

As we waited we wrapped ourselves in the cloak

Of his exploits: "Man, the last time, it took eight

Screws to put him in the Hole." "Yeah, remember when he

Smacked the captain with his dinner tray?" "He set

The record for time in the Hole—67 straight days!"

"Ol Hard Rock! man, that's one crazy nigger."

And then the jewel of a myth that Hard Rock had once bit

A screw on the thumb and poisoned him with syphilitic spit.

 

The testing came, to see if Hard Rock was really tame.

A hillbilly called him a black son of a b______

And didn't lose his teeth, a screw who knew Hard Rock

From before shook him down and barked in his face.

And Hard Rock did nothing. Just grinned and looked silly,

His eyes empty like knot holes in a fence. 

 

And even after we discovered that it took Hard Rock

Exactly 3 minutes to tell you his first name,

We told ourselves that he had just wised up,

Was being cool; but we could not fool ourselves for long,

And we turned away, our eyes on the ground. Crushed.

He had been our Destroyer, the doer of things

We dreamed of doing but could not bring ourselves to do,

The fears of years, like a biting whip,

Had cut deep bloody grooves

Across our backs.
 
 
anyone lived in a pretty how town (e e cummings)

 

anyone lived in a pretty how town

(with up so floating many bells down)

spring summer autumn winter

he sang his didn’t he danced his did.

 

Women and men(both little and small)

cared for anyone not at all

they sowed their isn’t they reaped their same

sun moon stars rain

 

children guessed(but only a few

and down they forgot as up they grew

autumn winter spring summer)

that noone loved him more by more

 

when by now and tree by leaf

she laughed his joy she cried his grief

bird by snow and stir by still

anyone’s any was all to her

 

someones married their everyones

laughed their cryings and did their dance

(sleep wake hoe and then)they

said their nevers and they slept their dream

 

stars rain sun moon

(and only the snow can begin to explain

how children are apt for forget to remember

with up so floating many bells down)

 

one day anyone died i guess

(and noone stooped to kiss his face)

busy folk buried them side by side

little by little and was by was

 

all by all and deep by deep

and more by more they dream their sleep

noone and anyone earth by april

wish by spirit and if by yes.

 

Women and men(both dong and ding)

summer autumn winter spring

reaped their sowing and went their came

sun moon stars rain

 

next to of course god america i

"next to of course god america i
love you land of the pilgrims' and so forth oh
say can you see by the dawn's early my
country tis of centuries come and go
and are no more what of it we should worry
in every language even deafanddumb
thy sons acclaim your glorious name by gorry
by jingo by gee by gosh by gum
why talk of beauty what could be more beaut-
iful than these heroic happy dead
who rushed like lions to the roaring slaughter
they did not stop to think they died instead
then shall the voice of liberty be mute?"

He spoke. And drank rapidly a glass of water

 

what if a much of a which of a wind

what if a much of a which of a wind
gives the truth to summer's lie;
bloodies with dizzying leaves the sun
and yanks immortal stars awry?
Blow king to beggar and queen to seam
(blow friend to fiend: blow space to time)
--when skies are hanged and oceans drowned,
the single secret will still be man

what if a keen of a lean wind flays
screaming hills with sleet and snow:
strangles valleys by ropes of thing
and stifles forests in white ago?
Blow hope to terror; blow seeing to blind
(blow pity to envy and soul to mind)
--whose hearts are mountains, roots are trees,
it's they shall cry hello to the spring

what if a dawn of a doom of a dream
bites this universe in two,
peels forever out of his grave
and sprinkles nowhere with me and you?
Blow soon to never and never to twice
(blow life to isn't: blow death to was)
--all nothing's only our hugest home;
the most who die, the more we live.

in Just-

 

in Just-
spring when the world is mud-
luscious the little
lame balloonman

whistles far and wee

and eddieandbill come
running from marbles and
piracies and it's
spring

when the world is puddle-wonderful

the queer
old balloonman whistles
far and wee
and bettyandisbel come dancing

from hop-scotch and jump-rope and

it's
spring
and
the

goat-footed

balloonMan whistles
far
and
wee

 

 

 

 

 

 

Elegy for Jane
(My student, thrown by a horse)

Theodore Roethke

 

I remember the neckcurls, limp and damp as tendrils;
And her quick look, a sidelong pickerel smile;
And how, once startled into talk, the light syllables leaped for her,
And she balanced in the delight of her thought,

A wren, happy, tail into the wind,
Her song trembling the twigs and small branches.
The shade sang with her;
The leaves, their whispers turned to kissing,
And the mould sang in the bleached valleys under the rose.

Oh, when she was sad, she cast herself down into such a pure depth,
Even a father could not find her:
Scraping her cheek against straw,
Stirring the clearest water.

My sparrow, you are not here,
Waiting like a fern, making a spiney shadow.
The sides of wet stones cannot console me,
Nor the moss, wound with the last light.

If only I could nudge you from this sleep,
My maimed darling, my skittery pigeon.
Over this damp grave I speak the words of my love:
I, with no rights in this matter,
Neither father nor lover.

 

 

 

 

 

To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time

Robert Herrick

 

GATHER ye rosebuds while ye may,

 

  Old Time is still a-flying:

 

And this same flower that smiles to-day

 

  To-morrow will be dying.

 

 

 

The glorious lamp of heaven, the sun,

         5

  The higher he 's a-getting,

 

The sooner will his race be run,

 

  And nearer he 's to setting.

 

 

 

That age is best which is the first,

 

  When youth and blood are warmer;

  10

But being spent, the worse, and worst

 

  Times still succeed the former.

 

 

 

Then be not coy, but use your time,

 

  And while ye may, go marry:

 

For having lost but once your prime,

  15

  You may for ever tarry.

 

 

 

 

MIRROR (Sylvia Plath)

 

I am silver and exact. I have no preconceptions.
Whatever I see I swallow immediately
Just as it is, unmisted by love or dislike.
I am not cruel, just truthful —
The eye of a little god, four cournered.
Most of the time I meditate on the opposite wall.
It is pink, with speckles. I have looked at it so long
I think it is a part of my heart. But it flickers.
Faces and darkness separate us over and over.

Now I am a lake. A woman bends over me,
Searching my reaches for what she really is.
Then she turns to those liars, the candles or the moon.
I see her back, and reflect it faithfully.
She rewards me with tears and an agitation of hands
I am important to her. She comes and goes.
Each morning it is her face that replaces the darkness.

MAD GIRL'S LOVE SONG

I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead;
I lift my lids and all is born again.
(I think I made you up inside my head.)

The stars go waltzing out in blue and red,
And arbitrary blackness gallops in:
I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead.

I dreamed that you bewitched me into bed
And sung me moon-struck, kissed me quite insane.
(I think I made you up inside my head.)

God topples from the sky, hell's fires fade:
Exit seraphim and Satan's men:
I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead.

I dreamed that you bewitched me into bed
And sung me moon-struck, kissed me quite insane.
(I think I made you up inside my head.)

God topples from the sky, hell's fires fade:
Exit seraphim and Satan's men:
I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead.

I fancied you'd return the way you said,
But I grow old and I forget your name.
(I think I made you up inside my head.)

I should have loved a thunderbird instead;
At least when spring comes they roar back again.
I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead.
(I think I made you up inside my head.)

 

 

Metaphors


I'm a riddle in nine syllables.
An elephant, a ponderous house,
A melon strolling on two tendrils.
O red fruit, ivory, fine timbers!
This loaf's big with its yeasty rising.
Money's new-minted in this fat purse.
I'm a means, a stage, a cow in calf.
I've eaten a bag of green apples,
Boarded the train there's no getting off.

 

 

A Noiseless Patient Spider (Walt Whitman)

A noiseless, patient spider,

I mark’d, where, on a little promontory, it stood isolated;

Mark’d how, to explore the vacant, vast surrounding,

It launch’d forth filament, filament, filament, out of itself;

Ever unreeling them—ever tirelessly speeding them.

And you, O my Soul, where you stand,

Surrounded, surrounded, in measureless oceans of space,

Ceaselessly musing, venturing, throwing,—seeking the spheres, to connect them;

Till the bridge you will need, be form’d—till the ductile anchor hold;

Till the gossamer thread you fling, catch somewhere, O my Soul.

 

When I Heard the Learn'd Astronomer

When I heard the learn'd astronomer,
When the proofs, the figures, were ranged in columns before me,
When I was shown the charts and diagrams, to add, divide,
and measure them,
When I sitting heard the astronomer where he lectured
with much applause in the lecture-room,
How soon unaccountable I became tired and sick,
Till rising and gliding out I wander'd off by myself,
In the mystical moist night-air, and from time to time,
Look'd up in perfect silence at the stars.

 

 

Ode to the West Wind (Percy Bysshe Shelley)
  
I


O WILD West Wind, thou breath of Autumn's being
 
  Thou from whose unseen presence the leaves dead  
Are driven like ghosts from an enchanter fleeing,  
 
  Yellow, and black, and pale, and hectic red,  
Pestilence-stricken multitudes! O thou          5
  Who chariotest to their dark wintry bed  
 
The wingèd seeds, where they lie cold and low,  
  Each like a corpse within its grave, until  
Thine azure sister of the Spring shall blow  
 
  Her clarion o'er the dreaming earth, and fill   10
(Driving sweet buds like flocks to feed in air)  
  With living hues and odours plain and hill;  
 
Wild Spirit, which art moving everywhere;  
Destroyer and preserver; hear, O hear!  
 
II


Thou on whose stream, 'mid the steep sky's commotion,
  15
  Loose clouds like earth's decaying leaves are shed,  
Shook from the tangled boughs of heaven and ocean,  
 
  Angels of rain and lightning! there are spread  
On the blue surface of thine airy surge,  
  Like the bright hair uplifted from the head   20
 
Of some fierce Mænad, even from the dim verge  
  Of the horizon to the zenith's height,  
The locks of the approaching storm. Thou dirge  
 
  Of the dying year, to which this closing night  
Will be the dome of a vast sepulchre,   25
  Vaulted with all thy congregated might  
 
Of vapours, from whose solid atmosphere  
Black rain, and fire, and hail, will burst: O hear!  
 
III


Thou who didst waken from his summer dreams
 
  The blue Mediterranean, where he lay,   30
Lull'd by the coil of his crystàlline streams,  
 
  Beside a pumice isle in Baiæ's bay,  
And saw in sleep old palaces and towers  
  Quivering within the wave's intenser day,  
 
All overgrown with azure moss, and flowers   35
  So sweet, the sense faints picturing them! Thou  
For whose path the Atlantic's level powers  
 
  Cleave themselves into chasms, while far below  
The sea-blooms and the oozy woods which wear  
  The sapless foliage of the ocean, know   40
 
Thy voice, and suddenly grow gray with fear,  
And tremble and despoil themselves: O hear!  
 
IV


If I were a dead leaf thou mightest bear;
 
  If I were a swift cloud to fly with thee;  
A wave to pant beneath thy power, and share   45
 
  The impulse of thy strength, only less free  
Than thou, O uncontrollable! if even  
  I were as in my boyhood, and could be  
 
The comrade of thy wanderings over heaven,  
  As then, when to outstrip thy skiey speed   50
Scarce seem'd a vision—I would ne'er have striven  
 
  As thus with thee in prayer in my sore need.  
O! lift me as a wave, a leaf, a cloud!  
  I fall upon the thorns of life! I bleed!  
 
A heavy weight of hours has chain'd and bow'd   55
One too like thee—tameless, and swift, and proud.  
 
V


Make me thy lyre, even as the forest is:
 
  What if my leaves are falling like its own?  
The tumult of thy mighty harmonies  
 
  Will take from both a deep autumnal tone,   60
Sweet though in sadness. Be thou, Spirit fierce,  
  My spirit! Be thou me, impetuous one!  
 
Drive my dead thoughts over the universe,  
  Like wither'd leaves, to quicken a new birth;  
And, by the incantation of this verse,   65
 
  Scatter, as from an unextinguish'd hearth  
Ashes and sparks, my words among mankind!  
  Be through my lips to unawaken'd earth  
 
The trumpet of a prophecy! O Wind,  
If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind?   70

 

 

That Time Of Year Thou Mayst In Me Behold
William Shakespeare

That time of year thou mayst in me behold
When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang
Upon those boughs which shake against the cold,
Bare ruined choirs, where late the sweet birds sang.
In me thou see'st the twilight of such day
As after sunset fadeth in the west;
Which by and by black night doth take away,
Death's second self, that seals up all in rest.
In me thou see'st the glowing of such fire,
That on the ashes of his youth doth lie,
As the deathbed whereon it must expire,
Consumed with that which it was nourished by.
This thou perceiv'st, which makes thy love more strong,
To love that well which thou must leave ere long.

 

The Suit (Philip Levine)

Dark brown pinstripes, the trousers

and descending, pleated, to great
bellows at the knees, only to close
down just above my shoes.  This
was my fine suit, made of God
knows what hard fiber that would

not give or crease.  And such
shoulders as no one my height
and under 150 pounds has ever had,
and the great wide swooning lapel

of the double-breasted job buttoning
just below the crotch.  So robed, I
was officially dubbed a punk or wild
mother_____ depending on the streets
I glided down.  Three times I wore it
formally:  first with red suspenders
to a high school dance where no one

danced except the chaperones, in a style
that minimized the fear of gonorrhea.
It was so dark no one recognized me,
and I went home, head down.  Then to a party
to which almost no one came and those
who did counted the minutes until

the birthday cake with its armored
frosting was cut and we could flee.
And finally to the draft board where
I stuffed it in a basket with all my shoes,
shirt, socks, and underclothes and was

herded naked with the others past doctors
half asleep and determined to find

nothing.  That long day it cracked
from indifference or abuse, and so I wore it
on the night shift at Detroit Transmission
where one day it grew darker and more
unrecognizably tattered like all my
other hopes for a singular life in a rich

world that would be of certain design:
just proportioned, equal and different
for each of us and satisfying like that flush

of warmth that came with knowing
no one could be more ridiculous than I.

 (This is Mr. J's all-time favorite poem.)

 

The Horse (Philip Levine)
 for Ichiro Kawamoto,
humanitarian, electrician, & survivor of Hiroshima

They spoke of the horse alive
without skin, naked, hairless,
without eyes and ears, searching
for the stableboy's caress.
Shoot it, someone said, but they
let him go on colliding with
tattered walls, butting his long
skull to pulp, finding no path
where iron fences corkscrewed in
the street and bicycles turned
like question marks.

Some fled and
some sat down. The river burned
all that day and into the
night, the stones sighed a moment
and were still, and the shadow
of a man's hand entered
a leaf.

The white horse never
returned, and later they found
the stableboy, his back crushed
by a hoof, his mouth opened
around a cry that no one heard.

They spoke of the horse again
and again; their mouths opened
like the gills of a fish caught
above water.

Mountain flowers
burst from the red clay walls, and
they said a new life was here.
Raw grass sprouted from the cobbles
like hair from a deafened ear.
The horse would never return.

There had been no horse. I could
tell from the way they walked
testing the ground for some cold
that the rage had gone out of
their bones in one mad dance.

 

The House

This poem has a door, a locked door,
and curtains drawn against the day,
but at night the lights come on, one
in each room, and the neighbors swear
they hear music and the sound of dancing.
These days the neighbors will swear
to anything, but that is not why
the house is locked up and no one goes
in or out all day long; that is because
this is a poem first and a house only
at night when everyone should be asleep.
The milkman tries to stop at dawn,
for he has three frosty white bottles
to place by the back door, but his horse
shakes his head back and forth, and so
he passes on his way. The papers pile
up on the front porch until the rain
turns them into gray earth, and they run
down the stairs and say nothing
to anyone. Whoever made this house
had no idea of beauty -- it's all gray --
and no idea of what a happy family
needs on a day in spring when tulips
shout from their brown beds in the yard.
Back there the rows are thick with weeds,
stickers, choke grass, the place has gone
to soggy mulch, and the tools are hanging
unused from their hooks in the tool room.
Think of a marriage taking place at one
in the afternoon on a Sunday in June
in the stuffy front room. The dining table
is set for twenty, and the tall glasses
filled with red wine, the silver sparkling.
But no one is going in or out, not even
a priest in his long white skirt, or a boy
in pressed shorts, or a plumber with a fat bag.

 

An Abandoned Factory, Detroit

The gates are chained, the barbed-wire fencing stands,
An iron authority against the snow,
And this grey monument to common sense
Resists the weather. Fears of idle hands,
Of protest, men in league, and of the slow
Corrosion of their minds, still charge this fence.

Beyond, through broken windows one can see
Where the great presses paused between their strokes
And thus remain, in air suspended, caught
In the sure margin of eternity.
The cast-iron wheels have stopped; one counts the spokes
Which movement blurred, the struts inertia fought,

And estimates the loss of human power,
Experienced and slow, the loss of years,
The gradual decay of dignity.
Men lived within these foundries, hour by hour;
Nothing they forged outlived the rusted gears
Which might have served to grind their eulogy.

 

Coming Home, Detroit, 1968

A winter Tuesday, the city pouring fire,
           
Ford Rouge sulfers the sun, Cadillac, Lincoln,
          
  Chevy gray.  The fat stacks
            of breweries hold their tongues.  Rags,
           
papers, hands, the stems of birches
      
      dirtied with words.
                                             
Near the freeway
           
you stop and wonder what came off,
 
           recall the snowstorm where you lost it all,
           
the wolverine, the northern bear, the wolf
           
caught out, ice and steel raining
           
from the foundries in a shower
    
        of human breath.  On sleds in the false sun
      
      the new material rests.  One brown child
           
stares and stares into your frozen eyes
           
until the lights change and you go
           
forward to work.  The charred faces, the eyes
           
boarded up, the rubble of innards, the cry
           
of wet smoke hanging in your throat,
           
the twisted river stopped at the color of iron.
           
We burn this city every day.

 

 

The Raven (Edgar Allan Poe)

Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore,
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
"'Tis some visitor," I muttered, "tapping at my chamber door—
Only this, and nothing more."

Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December,
And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor.
Eagerly I wished the morrow;— vainly I had sought to borrow
From my books surcease of sorrow— sorrow for the lost Lenore—
For the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore—
Nameless here for evermore.

And the silken sad uncertain rustling of each purple curtain
Thrilled me— filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before;
So that now, to still the beating of my heart, I stood repeating,
"'Tis some visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door—
Some late visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door;—
This it is, and nothing more."

Presently my soul grew stronger; hesitating then no longer,
"Sir," said I, "or Madam, truly your forgiveness I implore;
But the fact is I was napping, and so gently you came rapping,
And so faintly you came tapping, tapping at my chamber door,
That I scarce was sure I heard you"— here I opened wide the door;—
Darkness there, and nothing more.

Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing,
Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortals ever dared to dream before;
But the silence was unbroken, and the stillness gave no token,
And the only word there spoken was the whispered word, "Lenore!"
This I whispered, and an echo murmured back the word, "Lenore!"-
Merely this, and nothing more.

Back into the chamber turning, all my soul within me burning,
Soon again I heard a tapping somewhat louder than before.
"Surely," said I, "surely that is something at my window lattice:
Let me see, then, what thereat is, and this mystery explore—
Let my heart be still a moment and this mystery explore;—
'Tis the wind and nothing more."

Open here I flung the shutter, when, with many a flirt and flutter,
In there stepped a stately raven of the saintly days of yore;
Not the least obeisance made he; not a minute stopped or stayed
he;But, with mien of lord or lady, perched above my chamber door—
Perched upon a bust of Pallas just above my chamber door—
Perched, and sat, and nothing more.

Then this ebony bird beguiling my sad fancy into smiling,
By the grave and stern decorum of the countenance it wore.
"Though thy crest be shorn and shaven, thou," I said, "art sure no craven,
Ghastly grim and ancient raven wandering from the Nightly shore—
Tell me what thy lordly name is on the Night's Plutonian shore!"
Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore."

Much I marvelled this ungainly fowl to hear discourse so plainly,
Though its answer little meaning— little relevancy bore;
For we cannot help agreeing that no living human being
Ever yet was blest with seeing bird above his chamber door—
Bird or beast upon the sculptured bust above his chamber door,
With such name as "Nevermore."

But the raven, sitting lonely on the placid bust, spoke only
That one word, as if his soul in that one word he did outpour.
Nothing further then he uttered— not a feather then he fluttered—
Till I scarcely more than muttered, "other friends have flown before-
On the morrow he will leave me, as my hopes have flown before."
Then the bird said, "Nevermore."

Startled at the stillness broken by reply so aptly spoken,
"Doubtless," said I, "what it utters is its only stock and store,
Caught from some unhappy master whom unmerciful Disaster
Followed fast and followed faster till his songs one burden bore—
Till the dirges of his Hope that melancholy burden bore
Of 'Never— nevermore'."

But the Raven still beguiling all my fancy into smiling,
Straight I wheeled a cushioned seat in front of bird, and bust and door;
Then upon the velvet sinking, I betook myself to linking
Fancy unto fancy, thinking what this ominous bird of yore—
What this grim, ungainly, ghastly, gaunt and ominous bird of yore
Meant in croaking "Nevermore."

This I sat engaged in guessing, but no syllable expressing
To the fowl whose fiery eyes now burned into my bosom's core;
This and more I sat divining, with my head at ease reclining
On the cushion's velvet lining that the lamplight gloated o'er,
But whose velvet violet lining with the lamplight gloating o'er,
She shall press, ah, nevermore!

Then methought the air grew denser, perfumed from an unseen censer
Swung by Seraphim whose footfalls tinkled on the tufted floor.
"Wretch," I cried, "thy God hath lent thee— by these angels he hath sent thee
Respite— respite and nepenthe, from thy memories of Lenore!
Quaff, oh quaff this kind nepenthe and forget this lost Lenore!"
Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore."

"Prophet!" said I, "thing of evil!— prophet still, if bird or devil!—
Whether Tempter sent, or whether tempest tossed thee here ashore,
Desolate yet all undaunted, on this desert land enchanted—
On this home by horror haunted— tell me truly, I implore—
Is there— is there balm in Gilead?— tell me— tell me, I implore!"
Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore."

"Prophet!" said I, "thing of evil— prophet still, if bird or devil!
By that Heaven that bends above us— by that God we both adore—
Tell this soul with sorrow laden if, within the distant Aidenn,
It shall clasp a sainted maiden whom the angels name Lenore—
Clasp a rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore."
Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore."

"Be that word our sign in parting, bird or fiend," I shrieked, upstarting—
"Get thee back into the tempest and the Night's Plutonian shore!
Leave no black plume as a token of that lie thy soul hath spoken!
Leave my loneliness unbroken!— quit the bust above my door!
Take thy beak from out my heart, and take thy form from off my door!"
Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore."

And the Raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting
On the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door;
And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon's that is dreaming,
And the lamplight o'er him streaming throws his shadow on the floor;
And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor
Shall be lifted— nevermore!

 

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