905. I Knew a Woman, by Theodore Roethke

I knew a woman, lovely in her bones,
When small birds sighed, she would sigh back at them;
Ah, when she moved, she moved more ways than one:
The shapes a bright container can contain!
Of her choice virtues only gods should speak,
Or English poets who grew up on Greek
(I'd have them sing in chorus, cheek to cheek).

How well her wishes went! She stroked my chin,
She taught me Turn, and Counter-turn, and Stand;
She taught me Touch, that undulant white skin;
I nibbled meekly from her proffered hand;
She was the sickle; I, poor I, the rake,
Coming behind her for her pretty sake
(But what prodigious mowing we did make).

Love likes a gander, and adores a goose:
Her full lips pursed, the errant note to seize;
She played it quick, she played it light and loose;
My eyes, they dazzled at her flowing knees;
Her several parts could keep a pure repose,
Or one hip quiver with a mobile nose
(She moved in circles, and those circles moved).

Let seed be grass, and grass turn into hay.
I'm martyr to a motion not my own;
What's freedom for? To know eternity.
I swear she cast a shadow white as stone.
But who would count eternity in days?
These old bones live to learn her wanton ways:
(I measure time by how a body sways).

Source: The Collected Poems of Theodore Roethke

906. XII from More Poems, by A. E. Housman

I promise nothing: friends will part;
    All things may end, for all began;
And truth and singleness of heart
     Are mortal even as is man.

But this unlucky love should last
    When answered passions thin to air;
Eternal fate so deep has cast
     Its sure foundation of despair.

Source: Collected Poems

907. Mornings Innocent, by May Swenson

I wear your smile upon my lips
arising on mornings innocent
Your laughter overflows my throat
Your skin is a fleece about me
With your princely walk I salute the sun
People say I am handsome

Arising on mornings innocent
birds make the sound of kisses
Leaves flicker light and dark like eyes

I melt beneath the magnet of your gaze
Your husky breath insinuates my ear
Alert and fresh as grass I wake

and rise on mornings innocent
The strands of the wrestler
run golden through my limbs
I cleave the air with insolent ease
With your princely walk I salute the sun
People say I am handsome

Source: New and Selected Things Taking Place

908. Subway Face, by Langston Hughes

That I have been looking
For you all my life
Does not matter to you.
You do not know.

You never knew.
Nor did I.
Now you take the Harlem train uptown;
I take a local down.

Source: The Collected Poems of Langston Hughes

909. II, 29, from The Sonnets to Orpheus, by Rainer Maria Rilke

Silent friend of many distances, feel
how your breath enlarges all of space.
Let your presence ring out like a bell
into the night. What feeds upon your face

grows mighty from the nourishment thus offered.
Move through transformation, out and in.
What is the deepest loss that you have suffered?
If drinking is bitter, change yourself to wine.

In this immeasurable darkness, be the power
that rounds your senses in their magic ring,
the sense of their mysterious encounter.

And if the earthly no longer knows your name,
whisper to the silent earth: I'm flowing.
To the flashing water say: I am.

(trans Stephen Mitchell)

Source: The Selected Poetry of Rainer Maria Rilke

910. Dirge in Woods, by George Meredith

A wind sways the pines
            And below
Not a breath of wild air;
Still as the mosses that glow
On the flooring and over the lines
Of the roots here and there.
The pine-tree drops its dead;
They are quiet, as under the sea.
Overhead, overhead
Rushes life in a race,
As the clouds the clouds chase;
            And we go,
And we drop like the fruits of the tree,
            Even we,
            Even so.

Source: Selected Poems of George Meredith

911. Vanished Work, by Hans Magnus Enzensberger

Rather remote, all of it.
As in a saga, darkly,
the rag-and-bone-man
with his battered top hat,
the blue hand of the woad-miller,
the corn-chandler in his cool cellar.

The rush-man has deserted his reed,
the beekeeper his hive,
the charcoal burner his flue.
The woolcarder threw her teasel away,
the trough-maker his chisel.
Trades moldered away,
extinct skills.

What has happened to the bridoons,
the hames and the terrets?
The cartwright has passed away.
Only his name survives,
like an insect congealed in amber,
in the telephone book.

But the shimmering block of light
I have lived to see
with my own eyes, heaved
easily, as if by magic
with an iron hook
onto the leathery shoulder-strap

of the iceman, on Wednesdays
at noon, punctually, and the chips
melted like fire
in my chill mouth.

(trans Michael Hamburger with the author)

Source: The Vintage Book of Contemporary World Poetry

912. On Seeing Two Swallows Late in October, by John Clare

Lone occupiers of a naked sky
When desolate November hovers nigh
And all your fellow tribes in many crowds
Have left the village with the autumn clouds
Careless of old affections for the scene
That made them happy when the fields were green
And left them undisturbed to build their nests
In each old chimney like to welcome guests
Forsaking all like untamed winds they roam
And make with summers an unsettled home
Following her favours to the farthest lands
O'er untraced oceans and untrodden sands
Like happy images they haste away
And leave us lonely till another may

But little lingerers old esteem detains
Ye haply thus to brave the chilly air
When skies grow dull with winter's heavy rains
And all the orchard trees are nearly bare
Yet the old chimneys still are peeping there
Above the russet thatch where summers tide
Of sunny joys gave you such social fare
As makes you haply wishing to abide
In your old dwellings through the changing year
I wish ye well to find a dwelling here
For in the unsocial weather ye would fling
Gleamings of comfort through the winter wide
Twittering as wont above the old fire side
And cheat the surly winter into spring

Source: Major Works

913. To My Sister, by William Wordsworth

It is the first mild day of March:
Each minute sweeter than before
The redbreast sings from the tall larch
That stands beside our door.

There is a blessing in the air,
Which seems a sense of joy to yield
To the bare trees, and mountains bare,
And grass in the green field.

My sister! ('tis a wish of mine)
Now that our morning meal is done,
Make haste, your morning task resign;
Come forth and feel the sun.

Edward will come with you;—and, pray,
Put on with speed your woodland dress;
And bring no book: for this one day
We'll give to idleness.

No joyless forms shall regulate
Our living calendar:
We from to-day, my Friend, will date
The opening of the year.

Love, now a universal birth,
From heart to heart is stealing,
From earth to man, from man to earth:
—It is the hour of feeling.

One moment now may give us more
Than years of toiling reason:
Our minds shall drink at every pore
The spirit of the season.

Some silent laws our hearts will make,
Which they shall long obey:
We for the year to come may take
Our temper from to-day.

And from the blessed power that rolls
About, below, above,
We'll frame the measure of our souls:
They shall be tuned to love.

Then come, my Sister! come, I pray,
With speed put on your woodland dress;
And bring no book: for this one day
We'll give to idleness.

Source: Selected Poetry of William Wordsworth

914. From the Dark Tower, by Countee Cullen

(To Charles S. Johnson)

We shall not always plant while others reap
The golden increment of bursting fruit,
Not always countenance, abject and mute,
That lesser men should hold their brothers cheap;
Not everlastingly while others sleep
Shall we beguile their limbs with mellow flute,
Not always bend to some more subtle brute;
We were not made eternally to weep.

The night whose sable breast relieves the stark,
White stars is no less lovely being dark,
And there are buds that cannot bloom at all
In light, but crumple, piteous, and fall;
So in the dark we hide the heart that bleeds,
And wait, and tend our agonizing seeds.

Source: The Making of a Poem

915. Rain Song, by Jean Garrigue

My sad-bad rain that falls
In lisp and dibble-dabble
On the porch and under stairs
And puddles in the driveway brimmed
And dolloped by the slow loitering
Of the not-quite clapping hands
So slight they are on primrose
Leaves and the periwinkle
And keeps such babble going through the day.

Cats in beds sleep long
And I, I'd do the same
Or sing
If all the birds weren't gone.
It's silk under the elm leaves
It's slip into the streams
That clasp the globe around,
It's in the stealth to steal
Another tongue than bell
That does not strike but holds
All in its spell
So fresh and so small.

Source: Selected Poems