Category Archives: poetry

Tuesday Poem

A Man’s a Man for a’ That  By Robert Burns

 

IS there, for honest poverty,
That hangs his head, and a’ that?
The coward slave, we pass him by,
We daur be puir, for a’ that!
For a’ that, and a’ that,
Our toils obscure and a’ that,
The rank is but the guinea’s stamp—
The man’s the gowd for a’ that.

What though on hamely fare we dine,
Wear hoddin-grey and a’ that;
Gie fools their silks, and knaves their wine—
A man’s a man for a’ that.
For a’ that, and a’ that,
Their tinsel show and a’ that,
The honest man, though e’er sae puir,
Is king o’ men for a’ that.

Ye see yon birkie, ca’ed a lord,
Wha struta, and stares, and a’ that;
Though hundreds worship at his word,
He’s but a coof for a’ that:
For a’ that, and a’ that,
His riband, star, and a’ that;
The man of independent mind,
He looks and laughs at a’ that.

A king can make a belted knight,
A marquis, duke, and a’ that;
But an honest man’s aboon his might,
Gude faith, he maunna fa’ that!
For a’ that, and a’ that,
Their dignities and a’ that,
The pith o’ sense and pride o’ worth
Are higher rank than a’ that.

Then let us pray that come it may,
(As come it will for a’ that)
That sense and worth, o’er a’ the earth,
May bear the gree and a’ that.
For a’ that, and a’ that—
It’s coming yet, for a’ that,
When man to man, the warld o’er,
Shall brithers be for a’ that.

from Bartleby.com

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Tuesday Poem

Europe: The 72nd and 73rd Years of These States  By Walt Whitman

(America’s most original and creative poet, 1819–1892; printer and journalist, during the war an army nurse, and later a government clerk, discharged for publishing what his superiors considered an “indecent” book. The European revolutions of 1848–49)

SUDDENLY out of its stale and drowsy lair, the lair of slaves,
Like lightning it le’pt forth half startled at itself,
Its feet upon the ashes and the rags, its hands tight to the throats of kings.

O hope and faith!
O aching close of exiled patriots’ lives!
O many a sicken’d heart!
Turn back unto this day, and make yourselves afresh.

And you, paid to defile the People! you liars, mark!
Not for numberless agonies, murders, lusts,
For court thieving in its manifold mean forms, worming from his simplicity the poor man’s wages,
For many a promise sworn by royal lips, and broken, and laugh’d at in the breaking,
Then in their power, not for all these, did the blows strike revenge, or the heads of the nobles fall;
The People scorn’d the ferocity of kings.

But the sweetness of mercy brew’d bitter destruction, and the frighten’d monarchs come back;
Each comes in state, with his train—hangman, priest, tax-gatherer,
Soldier, lawyer, lord, jailer, and sycophant.

Yet behind all, lowering, stealing—lo, a Shape,
Vague as the night, draped interminable, head, front, and form, in scarlet folds,
Whose face and eyes none may see,
Out of its robes only this—the red robes, lifted by the arm,
One finger, crook’d, pointed high over the top, like the head of a snake appears.

Meanwhile, corpses lie in new-made graves—bloody corpses of young men;
The rope of the gibbet hangs heavily, the bullets of princes are flying, the creatures of power laugh aloud,
And all these things bear fruits—and they are good.

Those corpses of young men,
Those martyrs that hang from the gibbets—those hearts pierc’d by the gray lead,
Cold and motionless as they seem, live elsewhere with unslaughter’d vitality.

They live in other young men, O kings!
They live in brothers again ready to defy you!
They were purified by death—they were taught and exalted.

Not a grave of the murder’d for freedom, but grows seed for freedom, in its turn to bear seed,
Which the winds carry afar and re-sow, and the rains and the snows nourish.

Not a disembodied spirit can the weapons of tyrants let loose,
But it stalks invisibly over the earth, whispering, counselling, cautioning.

Liberty! let others despair of you! I never despair of you.

Is the house shut? Is the master away?
Nevertheless, be ready—be not weary of watching;
He will return soon—his messengers come anon.

 

from Bartleby.com

Tuesday Poem

Harlem Shadows by Claude McKay (1890–1948)

I HEAR the halting footsteps of a lass
In Negro Harlem when the night lets fall
Its veil. I see the shapes of girls who pass
Eager to heed desire’s insistent call:
Ah, little dark girls, who in slippered feet
Go prowling through the night from street to street.

Through the long night until the silver break
Of day the little gray feet know no rest,
Through the lone night until the last snow-flake
Has dropped from heaven upon the earth’s white breast,
The dusky, half-clad girls of tired feet
Are trudging, thinly shod, from street to street.

Ah, stern harsh world, that in the wretched way
Of poverty, dishonor and disgrace,
Has pushed the timid little feet of clay.
The sacred brown feet of my fallen race!
Ah, heart of me, the weary, weary feet
In Harlem wandering from street to street.

 

from Bartleby.com

Tuesday Poem

La Vie C’est la Vie by Jessie Fauset

ON summer afternoons I sit
Quiescent by you in the park,
And idly watch the sunbeams gild
And tint the ash-trees’ bark.

Or else I watch the squirrels frisk
And chaffer in the grassy lane;
And all the while I mark your voice
Breaking with love and pain.

I know a woman who would give
Her chance of heaven to take my place;
To see the love-light in your eyes,
The love-glow on your face!

And there’s a man whose lightest word
Can set my chilly blood afire;
Fulfilment of his least behest
Defines my life’s desire.

But he will none of me,
Nor I Of you. Nor you of her. ’Tis said
The world is full of jests like these.—
I wish that I were dead.

 

from Bartleby.com

Tuesday Poem

Bliss Carman.   26. Daisies

OVER the shoulders and slopes of the dune
I saw the white daisies go down to the sea,
A host in the sunshine, an army in June,
The people God sends us to set our hearts free.

The bobolinks rallied them up from the dell,
The orioles whistled them out of the wood;
And all of their singing was, “Earth, it is well!”
And all of their dancing was, “Life, thou art good!”

from Bartleby.com

Tuesday Poem

Carl Sandburg.   76. Fog

THE fog comes
on little cat feet.

It sits looking
over harbor and city
on silent haunches
and then moves on.

 

From Bartleby.com

Tuesday Poem

“H. D.”  112. Pear Tree

SILVER dust
lifted from the earth,
higher than my arms reach,
you have mounted.
O silver,
higher than my arms reach
you front us with great mass;

no flower ever opened
so staunch a white leaf,
no flower ever parted silver
from such rare silver;

O white pear,
your flower-tufts,
thick on the branch,
bring summer and ripe fruits
in their purple hearts.

 

from Bartleby.com

Tuesday Poem

Symphonic Studies: Epilogue By Emma Lazarus (1849–1887)

(After Robert Schumann)

FORTH in the sunlit, rain-bathed air we stepped,
Sweet with the dripping grass and flowering vine,
And saw through irised clouds the pale sun shine.
Back o’er the hills the rain-mist slowly crept
Like a transparent curtain’s silvery sheen;
And fronting us the painted bow was arched,
Whereunder the majestic cloud-shapes marched:
In the wet, yellow light the dazzling green
Of lawn and bush and tree seemed stained with blue.
Our hearts o’erflowed with peace. With smiles we spake
Of partings in the past, of courage new,
Of high achievement, of the dreams that make
A wonder and a glory of our days,
And all life’s music but a hymn of praise.

 

from Bartleby.com