January

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Where to begin?
Everything cracks and shakes.
The air quivers with similies.
No one word is better than any other.
The earth is humming with metaphor...
-Osip Mandelstam


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Seen when nights are silent,
The bean-shaped island,
And our ugly comic servant,
Who was observant.

O the veranda and the fruit,
The tiny steamer in the bay
Startling summer with its hoot: -
You have gone away.
-W.H. Auden


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Friends die, one after another;
Each time a dark disorder.
A ceaseless banging of shutters
Upstairs there, in the mind.
-Rosemary Dobson


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The single clenched fist lifted and ready,
Or the open asking hand held out and waiting.
Choose:
For we meet by one or the other.
-Carl Sandburg


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This was, you should know, a political matter:
make it a rule to make your home nowhere.
We were like letters written on water.
And this water flowed away.
Flowed away, not sinking into the earth.
This was, you should know, one of the rules:
to begin every speech with someone's help,
to leave everything in its own place.
And behind that door? Could it be Australia?
-Mikhail Aizenberg


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The Song of Wandering Aengus
I went out to the hazel wood,
Because a fire was in my head,
And cut and peeled a hazel wand,
And hooked a berry to a thread;
And when white moths were on the wing,
And moth-like stars were flickering out,
I dropped the berry in a stream
And caught a little silver trout.

When I had laid it on the floor
I went to blow the fire aflame,
But something rustled on the floor,
And some one called me by my names;
It had become a glimmering girl
With apple blossom in her hair
Who called me by my name and ran
And faded through the brightening air.

Though I am old with wandering
Through hollow lands and hilly lands,
I will find out where she has gone,
And kiss her lips and take her hands;
And walk among long dappled grass,
And pluck till time and times are done
The silver apples of the moon,
The golden apples of the sun.
-W.B. Yeats


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Without
Without God you rip our bodies

apart, suck the honey
from our tails. With God you cannot trust

what even your own body tells you. In your book
we swarm a house, surround

a boy as he sleeps & lift him, only to set him down
unharmed. You saw us

lift your own son, hang his body
above your head - still

you need a prophet
to tell you what it means.
-Nick Flynn


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Simple Poem
I shall make it simple so you understand.
Making it simple will make it clear for me.
When you have read it, take me by the hand
As children do, loving simplicity.
This is the simple poem I have made.
Tell me you understand. But when you do
Don't ask me in return if I have said
All that I meant, or whether it is true.
-Anthony Thwaite


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Against Jealousy
Wretched and foolish jealousy
How cam'st thou thus to enter me?
I ne'er was of thy kind,
Nor have I yet the narrow mind
To vent that poor desire
That others should not warm them at my fire;
I wish the sun should shine
On all men's fruit and flowers, as well as mine.
-Ben Jonson


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O servant, where dost thou seek me?
Lo! I am beside thee.
I am neither in the temple nor in the mosque,
neither am I in rites and ceremonies
nor in yoga nor in renunciation.
If thou art a true seeker, thou shalt at once see me.
Thou shalt meet me in a moment's time.
-Songs of Kabir


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Long long I have looked for you,
snowshoeing across the world
across the wild white world
with my heart in my pocket
and my black greased boots
to keep the cold out,
past cathedrals and pike marshes
I've tracked you,
so long have I looked for you.
In your star-blue palace
I wandered and could not find you
in your winter garden
I picked icicles,
my fingers burned on your gate
of freezing iron
I have the pain
of it yet on my palm.
through clanging branches
and black frost-fall
I dared not call
so I slide above worlds of ice
where the fishes kiss
and the drowned farmer
whips on his cart
through bubbles of glass
and his dogs prance
at the tail-end, frozen
with one leg cocked
and yellow urine
twined in thickets of ice.
I stamp my boot
and the ice booms.
I have looked so long
I am wild and white
as your creatures, I might
be one of your own.
-Helen Dunmore


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Evening
My laughter has torn itself from me,
My laughter with its infant eyes.
My green, springing laughter
Sings day to the dark night before your door.
Out of me it arched into you
Kindling your sorrow into joy--
And now it smiles like hoary laughter
And suffers callow agonies.
-Else Lasker-Schüler


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No, no dejéis cerradas
Las puertas de la noche,
del viento, del relámpago,
la de lo nunca visto.
-Pedro Salinas


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Ser de mí algo carente
olvidar que siento y vivo
elevar a un altar mi silencio,
oírle sólo a él:
Palabras calladas y perfectas.
Quisiera pues estar fuera de mí,
tomamrme un respiro, inhalarlo,
llenarme de nada y renacer
y contagiar de paz,
aunque sólo fuera un instante
mi peregrino sentir.
-Cristina Arroyo


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Why do I tell you these things?
You are not even here.
-John Ashbery


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The Dead
We fell.
Yet we were loved and we are lifted.
We froze.
Yet we were loved and we are warm.
We broke apart.
Yet we are here and we are whole.
-Bill Manhire
Last edited: 30 July 2007 18:30:40