Skunk Hour Robert Lowell Nautilus Island’s hermit heiress still lives through winter in her Spartan cottage; her sheep still graze above the sea. Her son’s a bishop. Her farmer is first selectman in our village; she’s in her dotage. Thirsting for the hierarchic privacy of Queen Victoria’s century, she buys up all the eyesores facing […]
Poem Charles Simic Every morning I forget how it is. I watch the smoke mount In great strides above the city. I belong to no one. Then, I remember my shoes, How I have to put them on, How bending over to tie them up I will look into the earth.
may my heart always be open e. e. cummings may my heart always be open to little birds who are the secrets of living whatever they sing is better than to know and if men should not hear them men are old may my mind stroll about hungry and fearless and thirsty and supple and […]
Wisdom Sara Teasdale When I have ceased to break my wings Against the faultiness of things, And learned that compromises wait Behind each hardly opened gate, When I have looked Life in the eyes, Grown calm and very coldly wise, Life will have given me the Truth, And taken in exchange—my youth.
A Song from the Suds Louisa May Alcott (1832–1888) From Little Women QUEEN of my tub, I merrily sing, While the white foam rises high; And sturdily wash, and rinse, and wring, And fasten the clothes to dry; Then out in the free fresh air they swing, Under the sunny sky. I wish we could […]
You Want a Social Life, with Friends Kenneth Koch You want a social life, with friends. A passionate love life and as well To work hard every day. What’s true Is of these three you may have two And two can pay you dividends But never may have three. There isn’t time enough, my friends– […]
The Snow Man by Wallace Stevens One must have a mind of winter To regard the frost and the boughs Of the pine-trees crusted with snow; And have been cold a long time To behold the junipers shagged with ice, The spruces rough in the distant glitter Of the January sun; and not to think […]
Sonnet XXV by George Santayana As in the midst of battle there is room For thoughts of love, and in foul sin for mirth; As gossips whisper of a trinket’s worth Spied by the death-bed’s flickering candle-gloom; As in the crevices of Caesar’s tomb The sweet herbs flourish on a little earth: So in this […]
The Letter by Dana Gioia And in the end, all that is really left Is a feeling—strong and unavoidable— That somehow we deserved something better. That somewhere along the line things Got fouled up. And that letter from whoever’s In charge, which certainly would have set Everything straight between us and […]
Lines Lost among Trees Billy Collins These are not the lines that came to me while walking in the woods with no pen and nothing to write on anyway. They are gone forever, a handful of coins dropped through the grate of memory, along with the ingenious mnemonic I devised to hold them in place- […]