Spinoff: Favorite Poems?

  1. I thought it would be nice to share some of our favorite poems, since we're sharing some favorite quotes in another thread. :yes:
  2. I came across this poem yesterday, and it was one of those rare pieces that made me catch my breath. I've read it over several times, and it still gives me goosebumps and makes my heart stop for a second.

    [by Julia Vinograd]No blame. Anyone who wrote Howl and Kaddish
    earned the right to make any possible mistake
    for the rest of his life.
    I just wish I hadn't made this mistake with him.
    It was during the Vietnam war
    and he was giving a great protest reading
    in Washington Square Park
    and nobody wanted to leave.
    So Ginsberg got the idea, "I'm going to shout
    'the war is over' as loud as I can," he said
    "and all of you run over the city
    in different directions
    yelling the war is over, shout it in offices,
    shops, everywhere and when enough people
    believe the war is over
    why, not even the politicians
    will be able to keep it going."
    I thought it was a great idea at the time
    a truly poetic idea.
    So when Ginsberg yelled I ran down the street
    and leaned in the doorway
    of the sort of respectable down on its luck cafeteria
    where librarians and minor clerks have lunch
    and I yelled "the war is over."
    And a little old lady looked up
    from her cottage cheese and fruit salad.
    She was so ordinary she would have been invisible
    except for the terrible light
    filling her face as she whispered
    "My son. My son is coming home."
    I got myself out of there and was sick in some bushes.
    That was the first time I believed there was a war.
  3. i go back to may 1937 by sharon olds

    there's another by sharon olds but i can't think of the name right now....

    marginalia by billy collins

    i go back to the house for a book by billy collins

    did this happen to your mother by alice walker (i think that's the name- I can't find it)

    landscape with the fall of icarus william carlos williams- based on a painting of brueghal
  4. I Go Back to May 1937 (from The Gold Cell)
    I see them standing at the formal gates of their colleges,
    I see my father strolling out
    under the ochre sandstone arch, the
    red tiles glinting like bent
    plates of blood behind his head, I
    see my mother with a few light books at her hip
    standing at the pillar made of tiny bricks with the
    wrought-iron gate still open behind her, its
    sword-tips black in the May air,
    they are about to graduate, they are about to get married,
    they are kids, they are dumb, all they know is they are
    innocent, they would never hurt anybody.
    I want to go up to them and say Stop,
    don't do it--she's the wrong woman,
    he's the wrong man, you are going to do things
    you cannot imagine you would ever do,
    you are going to do bad things to children,
    you are going to suffer in ways you never heard of,
    you are going to want to die. I want to go
    up to them there in the late May sunlight and say it,
    her hungry pretty blank face turning to me,
    her pitiful beautiful untouched body,
    his arrogant handsome blind face turning to me,
    his pitiful beautiful untouched body,
    but I don't do it. I want to live. I
    take them up like the male and female
    paper dolls and bang them together
    at the hips like chips of flint as if to
    strike sparks from them, I say
    Do what you are going to do, and I will tell about it.

  5. Marginalia

    Sometimes the notes are ferocious,
    skirmishes against the author
    raging along the borders of every page
    in tiny black script.
    If I could just get my hands on you,
    Kierkegaard, or Conor Cruise O'Brien,
    they seem to say,
    I would bolt the door and beat some logic into your head.

    Other comments are more offhand, dismissive -
    "Nonsense." "Please!" "HA!!" -
    that kind of thing.
    I remember once looking up from my reading,
    my thumb as a bookmark,
    trying to imagine what the person must look like
    why wrote "Don't be a ninny"
    alongside a paragraph in The Life of Emily Dickinson.

    Students are more modest
    needing to leave only their splayed footprints
    along the shore of the page.
    One scrawls "Metaphor" next to a stanza of Eliot's.
    Another notes the presence of "Irony"
    fifty times outside the paragraphs of A Modest Proposal.

    Or they are fans who cheer from the empty bleachers,
    Hands cupped around their mouths.
    "Absolutely," they shout
    to Duns Scotus and James Baldwin.
    "Yes." "Bull's-eye." "My man!"
    Check marks, asterisks, and exclamation points
    rain down along the sidelines.

    And if you have managed to graduate from college
    without ever having written "Man vs. Nature"
    in a margin, perhaps now
    is the time to take one step forward.

    We have all seized the white perimeter as our own
    and reached for a pen if only to show
    we did not just laze in an armchair turning pages;
    we pressed a thought into the wayside,
    planted an impression along the verge.

    Even Irish monks in their cold scriptoria
    jotted along the borders of the Gospels
    brief asides about the pains of copying,
    a bird signing near their window,
    or the sunlight that illuminated their page-
    anonymous men catching a ride into the future
    on a vessel more lasting than themselves.

    And you have not read Joshua Reynolds,
    they say, until you have read him
    enwreathed with Blake's furious scribbling.

    Yet the one I think of most often,
    the one that dangles from me like a locket,
    was written in the copy of Catcher in the Rye
    I borrowed from the local library
    one slow, hot summer.
    I was just beginning high school then,
    reading books on a davenport in my parents' living room,
    and I cannot tell you
    how vastly my loneliness was deepened,
    how poignant and amplified the world before me seemed,
    when I found on one page

    A few greasy looking smears
    and next to them, written in soft pencil-
    by a beautiful girl, I could tell,
    whom I would never meet-
    "Pardon the egg salad stains, but I'm in love."
  6. Landscape With The Fall of Icarus by William Carlos Williams
    According to Brueghel
    when Icarus fell
    it was spring

    a farmer was ploughing
    his field
    the whole pageantry

    of the year was
    awake tingling

    the edge of the sea
    with itself

    sweating in the sun
    that melted
    the wings' wax

    off the coast
    there was

    a splash quite unnoticed
    this was
    Icarus drowning
  7. i go back to the house for a book

    I turn around on the gravel
    and go back to the house for a book,
    something to read at the doctor's office,
    and while I am inside, running the finger
    of inquisition along a shelf,
    another me that did not bother
    to go back to the house for a book
    heads out on his own,
    rolls down the driveway,
    and swings left toward town,
    a ghost in his ghost car,
    another knot in the string of time,
    a good three minutes ahead of me —
    a spacing that will now continue
    for the rest of my life.

    Sometimes I think I see him
    a few people in front of me on a line
    or getting up from a table
    to leave the restaurant just before I do,
    slipping into his coat on the way out the door.
    But there is no catching him,
    no way to slow him down
    and put us back in synch,
    unless one day he decides to go back
    to the house for something,
    but I cannot imagine
    for the life of me what that might be.

    He is out there always before me,
    blazing my trail, invisible scout,
    hound that pulls me along,
    shade I am doomed to follow,
    my perfect double,
    only bumped an inch into the future,
    and not nearly as well-versed as I
    in the love poems of Ovid —
    I who went back to the house
    that fateful winter morning and got the book.
  8. one more. sorry!

    Sharon Olds- "The Death of Marilyn Monroe"
  9. Aww, thanks for sharing, hlfinn!

    I have another one to share. The italics are my own addition, because that's the part that gets to me every time.

    Distressed Haiku, by Donald Hall

    In a week or ten days
    the snow and ice
    will melt from Cemetery Road.

    I'm coming! Don't move!

    Once again it is April.
    Today is the day
    we would have been married
    twenty-six years.

    I finished with April
    halfway through March.

    You think that their
    dying is the worst
    thing that could happen.

    Then they stay dead.

    Will Hall ever write
    lines that do anything
    but whine and complain?

    In April the blue
    mountain revises
    from white to green.

    The Boston Red Sox win
    a hundred straight games.
    The mouse rips
    the throat of the lion

    and the dead return.

  10. this is my ultimate favorite. it breaks my heart every time i read it (and has a similar feeling to yours in a way)


    (for Henry Averell Gerry, 1941-60)

    I hardly know how to speak to you now,
    you are so young now, closer to my daughter's age
    than mine -- but I have been there and seen it, and must
    tell you, as the seeing and hearing
    spell the world into the deaf-mute's hand.
    The tiny dormer windows like the ears of a fox, like the
    long row of teats on a pig, still
    perk up over the Square, though they're digging up the
    street now, as if digging a grave,
    the shovels shrieking on stone like your car
    sliding along on its roof after the crash.
    How I wanted everyone to die I if you had to die,
    how sealed into my own world I was,
    deaf and blind. What can I tell you now,
    now that I know so much and you are a
    freshman still, drinking a quart of orange juice and
    playing three sets of tennis to cure a hangover, such an
    ardent student of the grown-ups! I can tell you
    we were right, our bodies were right, life was
    pleasurable in every cell.
    Suddenly I remember the exact look of your body, but
    better than the bright corners of your eyes, or the
    puppy-fat of your thighs, or the slick
    chino of your pants bright in the corners of my eyes, I
    remember your extraordinary act of courage in
    loving me, something no one but the
    blind and halt had done before. You were
    fearless, you could drive after a sleepless night
    just like a grown-up, and not be afraid, you could
    fall asleep at the wheel easily and
    never know it, each blond hair of your head -- and they were
    thickly laid -- put out like a filament of light,
    twenty years ago. The Charles still
    slides by with that ease as your death was hard,
    wanted all things broken and rigid as the
    bricks in the sidewalk or your love for me
    stopped cell by cell in your young body,
    Ave -- I went ahead and had the children,
    the life of ease and faithfulness,
    the palm and the breast, every millimeter of delight in the body.
    I took the road we stood on at the start together, I
    took it all without you as if
    in taking it after all I could
    most honor you.
  11. ^ Wow.
  12. One of my favorites is "For I Will Consider My Cat Jeoffrey" by Christopher Smart (1722-1771). It is much too long to reproduce in its entirety here but it's a lovely poem. You cat-lovers should check it out.
  13. Oh my gosh, this is an easy question to answer.
    This is my favorite poem EVER. Enjoy!
    It's by Rupert Brooke:


    [FONT=Georgia,Book Antiqua,Times New Roman]When the white flame in us is gone,
    And we that lost the world's delight
    Stiffen in darkness, left alone
    To crumble in our separate night;
    When your swift hair is quiet in death,
    And through the lips corruption thrust
    Has stilled the labour of my breath---
    When we are dust, when we are dust!---
    Not dead, not undesirous yet,
    Still sentient, still unsatisfied,
    We'll ride the air, and shine, and flit,
    Around the places where we died,
    And dance as dust before the sun,
    And light of foot, and unconfined,
    Hurry from road to road, and run
    About the errands of the wind.
    And every mote, on earth or air,
    Will speed and gleam, down later days,
    And like a secret pilgrim fare
    By eager and invisible ways,
    Nor ever rest, nor ever lie,
    Till, beyond thinking, out of view,
    One mote of all the dust that's I
    Shall meet one atom that was you.
    Then in some garden hushed from wind,
    Warm in a sunset's afterglow,
    The lovers in the flowers will find
    A sweet and strange unquiet grow
    Upon the peace; and, past desiring,
    So high a beauty in the air,
    And such a light, and such a quiring,
    And such a radiant ecstasy there,
    They'll know not if it's fire, or dew,
    Or out of earth, or in the height,
    Singing, or flame, or scent, or hue,
    Or two that pass, in light, to light,
    Out of the garden, higher, higher. . . .
    But in that instant they shall learn
    The shattering ecstasy of our fire,
    And the weak passionless hearts will burn And faint in that amazing glow,
    Until the darkness close above;
    And they will know---poor fools, they'll know!---
    One moment, what it is to love.[/FONT]
  14. This is one of my friend's favorite poems.


    Go placidly amid the noise and haste,
    and remember what peace there may be in silence.
    As far as possible without surrender
    be on good terms with all persons.
    Speak your truth quietly and clearly;
    and listen to others,
    even the dull and the ignorant;
    they too have their story.
    Avoid loud and aggressive persons,
    they are vexations to the spirit.
    If you compare yourself with others,
    you may become vain and bitter;
    for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
    Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.

    Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
    it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
    Exercise caution in your business affairs;
    for the world is full of trickery.
    But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
    many persons strive for high ideals;
    and everywhere life is full of heroism.

    Be yourself.
    Especially, do not feign affection.
    Neither be cynical about love;
    for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment
    it is as perennial as the grass.

    Take kindly the counsel of the years,
    gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
    Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
    But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
    Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
    Beyond a wholesome discipline,
    be gentle with yourself.

    You are a child of the universe,
    no less than the trees and the stars;
    you have a right to be here.
    And whether or not it is clear to you,
    no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

    Therefore be at peace with God,
    whatever you conceive Him to be,
    and whatever your labors and aspirations,
    in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.

    With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
    it is still a beautiful world.
    Be cheerful.
    Strive to be happy.

    (Max Ehrmann, Desiderata, Copyright 1952)

    It's a good one!
  15. Macavity: The mystery cat - T.S Eliot (As you might figure out, I like cats)

    Macavity: The Mystery Cat

    Macavity's a Mystery Cat: he's called the Hidden Paw -
    For he's the master criminal who can defy the Law.
    He's the bafflement of Scotland Yard, the Flying Squad's despair:
    For when they reach the scene of crime - Macavity's not there!

    Macavity, Macavity, there's no one like Macavity,
    He's broken every human law, he breaks the law of gravity.
    His powers of levitation would make a fakir stare,
    And when you reach the scene of crime - Macavity's not there!
    You may seek him in the basement, you may look up in the air -
    But I tell you once and once again, Macavity's not there!

    Mcavity's a ginger cat, he's very tall and thin;
    You would know him if you saw him, for his eyes are sunken in.
    His brow is deeply lined with thought, his head is highly domed;
    His coat is dusty from neglect, his whiskers are uncombed.
    He sways his head from side to side, with movements like a snake;
    And when you think he's half asleep, he's always wide awake.

    Macavity, Macavity, there's no one like Macavity,
    For he's a fiend in feline shape, a monster of depravity.
    You may meet him in a by-street, you may see him in the square -
    But when a crime's discovered, then Macavity's not there!

    He's outwardly respectable. (They say he cheats at cards.)
    And his footprints are not found in any file of Scotland Yard's.
    And when the larder's looted, or the jewel-case is rifled,
    Or when the milk is missing, or another Peke's been stifled,
    Or the greenhouse glass is broken, and the trellis past repair -
    Ay, there's the wonder of the thing! Macavity's not there!

    And when the Foreign Office find a Treaty's gone astray,
    Or the Admiralty lose some plans and drawings by the way,
    There may be a scrap of paper in the hall or on the stair -
    But it's useless to investigate - Mcavity's not there!
    And when the loss has been disclosed, the Secret Service say:
    `It must have been Macavity!' - but he's a mile away.
    You'll be sure to find him resting, or a-licking of his thumbs,
    Or engaged in doing complicated long-division sums.

    Macavity, Macavity, there's no one like Macavity,
    There never was a Cat of such deceitfulness and suavity.
    He always has an alibi, and one or two to spaer:
    At whatever time the deed took place - MACAVITY WASN'T THERE!
    And they say that all the Cats whose wicked deeds are widely known
    (I might mention Mungojerrie, I might mention Griddlebone)
    Are nothing more than agents for the Cat who all the time
    Just controls their operations: the Napoleon of Crime!