I wanted to finally post some of the poems that we’ve looked at in class. Many of you said that you LOVED some of these and wanted your own copy…so now you have it! You might choose one for your final poetry project (or to help you prepare for our quiz on Wednesday).
The Summer Day
Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean-
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?
From poetry 180
from New and Selected Poems, 1992, Beacon Press, Boston, MA
By Valerie Worth
Marbles picked up
Heavy by the handful
And held, weighed,
Then poured clicking,
To their bag, seem
Treasure: round jewels,
God Says Yes To Me
I asked God if it was okay to be melodramatic
and she said yes
I asked her if it was okay to be short
and she said it sure is
I asked her if I could wear nail polish
or not wear nail polish
and she said honey
she calls me that sometimes
she said you can do just exactly
what you want to
Thanks God I said
And is it even okay if I don’t paragraph
Sweetcakes God said
who knows where she picked that up
what I’m telling you is
Yes Yes Yes
By Sandra Cisneros
Abuelito who throws coins like rain
and asks who loves him
who is dough and deathers
who is a watch and glass of water
whose hair is made of fur
is too sad to come downstairs today
WHO TELLS ME IN SPANISH YOU ARE MY DIAMOND
WHO TELLS ME IN ENGLISH YOU ARE MY SKY
WHOSE LITTLE EYES ARE STRING
can’t come out to play
sleeps in his little room all night and day
who used to laugh like the letter k
is a doorknob tied to a sour stick
is tired shut the door
doesn’t live here anymore
is hiding underneath the bed
WHO TALKS TO ME INSIDE MY HEAD
is blankets and spoons and big brown shoes
WHO SNORES UP AND DOWN UP AND DOWN UP AND DOWN AGAIN
is the rain on the roof that falls like coins
asking who loves him
who loves him who?
Death of a Snowman
I was awake all night
Big as a polar bear
Strong and firm and white
The tall black hat I wear
Was draped with ermine fur.
I felt so fit and well
Till the world began to stir
And the morning sun swell.
I was tired, began to yawn
At noon in the humming sun
I caught a severe warm,
My nose began to run
My hat grew black and fell,
Was followed by my great head.
There was no funeral bell,
But by tea-time I was dead.
Taken from here
April Rain Song
The Grammar Lesson
A noun’s a thing. A verb’s the thing it does.
An adjective is what describes the noun.
In “The can of beets is filled with purple fuzz”
of and with are prepositions. The’s
an article, a can’s a noun,
a noun’s a thing. A verb’s the thing it does.
A can can roll – or not. What isn’t was
or might be, might meaning not yet known.
“Our can of beets is filled with purple fuzz”
is present tense. While words like our and us
are pronouns – i.e. it is moldy, they are icky brown.
A noun’s a thing; a verb’s the thing it does.
Is is a helping verb. It helps because
filled isn’t a full verb. Can’s what our owns
in “Our can of beets is filled with purple fuzz.”
See? There’s almost nothing to it. Just
memorize these rules…or write them down!
A noun’s a thing, a verb’s the thing it does.
The can of beets is filled with purple fuzz.
It’s my birthday I’ve got an empty
stomach and the desire to be
lazy in the hammock and maybe
go for a cool swim on a hot day
with the trombone in Sinatra’s
“I’ve Got You Under My Skin”
in my head and then to break for
lunch a corned-beef sandwich and Pepsi
with plenty of ice cubes unlike France
where they put one measly ice cube
in your expensive Coke and when
you ask for more they argue with
you they say this way you get more
Coke for the money showing they
completely misunderstand the nature of
American soft drinks which are an
excuse for ice cubes still I wouldn’t
mind being there for a couple of
days Philip Larkin’s attitude
toward China comes to mind when
asked if he’d like to go there he said
yes if he could return the same day
from The Daily Mirror, 2000
Scribner, New York
Taken from here
Introduction to Poetry
I ask them to take a poem
and hold it up to the light
like a color slide
or press an ear against its hive.
I say drop a mouse into a poem
and watch him probe his way out,
or walk inside the poem’s room
and feel the walls for a light switch.
I want them to waterski
across the surface of a poem
waving at the author’s name on the shore.
But all they want to do
is tie the poem to a chair with rope
and torture a confession out of it.
They begin beating it with a hose
to find out what it really means.
Taken from here
from The Apple that Astonished Paris, 1996
University of Arkansas Press, Fayetteville, Ark.
Valentine for Ernest Mann
by Naomi Shihab Nye
You can’t order a poem like you order a taco.
Walk up to the counter, say, “I’ll take two”
and expect it to be handed back to you
on a shiny plate.
Still, I like your spirit.
Anyone who says, “Here’s my address,
write me a poem,” deserves something in reply.
So I’ll tell you a secret instead:
poems hide. In the bottoms of our shoes,
they are sleeping. They are the shadows
drifting across our ceilings the moment
before we wake up. What we have to do
is live in a way that lets us find them.
Once I knew a man who gave his wife
two skunks for a valentine.
He couldn’t understand why she was crying.
“I thought they had such beautiful eyes.”
And he was serious. He was a serious man
who lived in a serious way. Nothing was ugly
just because the world said so. He really
liked those skunks. So, he reinvented them
as valentines and they became beautiful.
At least, to him. And the poems that had been hiding
in the eyes of the skunks for centuries
crawled out and curled up at his feet.
Maybe if we reinvent whatever our lives give us
we find poems. Check your garage, the odd sock
in your drawer, the person you almost like, but not quite.
And let me know.
- Naomi Shihab Nye
in The Red Suitcase, Brockport, NY: BOA Editions, 1994.
Casey at the Bat
by Ernest Lawrence Thayer
The outlook wasn’t brilliant for the Mudville nine that day:
The score stood four to two, with but one inning more to play,
And then when Cooney died at first, and Barrows did the same,
A pall-like silence fell upon the patrons of the game.
A straggling few got up to go in deep despair. The rest
Clung to the hope which springs eternal in the human breast;
They thought, “If only Casey could but get a whack at that—
We’d put up even money now, with Casey at the bat.”
But Flynn preceded Casey, as did also Jimmy Blake,
And the former was a hoodoo, while the latter was a cake;
So upon that stricken multitude grim melancholy sat,
For there seemed but little chance of Casey getting to the bat.
But Flynn let drive a single, to the wonderment of all,
And Blake, the much despisèd, tore the cover off the ball;
And when the dust had lifted, and men saw what had occurred,
There was Jimmy safe at second and Flynn a-hugging third.
Then from five thousand throats and more there rose a lusty yell;
It rumbled through the valley, it rattled in the dell;
It pounded on the mountain and recoiled upon the flat,
For Casey, mighty Casey, was advancing to the bat.
There was ease in Casey’s manner as he stepped into his place;
There was pride in Casey’s bearing and a smile lit Casey’s face.
And when, responding to the cheers, he lightly doffed his hat,
No stranger in the crowd could doubt ’twas Casey at the bat.
Ten thousand eyes were on him as he rubbed his hands with dirt;
Five thousand tongues applauded when he wiped them on his shirt;
Then while the writhing pitcher ground the ball into his hip,
Defiance flashed in Casey’s eye, a sneer curled Casey’s lip.
And now the leather-covered sphere came hurtling through the air,
And Casey stood a-watching it in haughty grandeur there.
Close by the sturdy batsman the ball unheeded sped—
“That ain’t my style,” said Casey. “Strike one!” the umpire said.
From the benches, black with people, there went up a muffled roar,
Like the beating of the storm-waves on a stern and distant shore;
“Kill him! Kill the umpire!” shouted someone on the stand;
And it’s likely they’d have killed him had not Casey raised his hand.
With a smile of Christian charity great Casey’s visage shone;
He stilled the rising tumult; he bade the game go on;
He signaled to the pitcher, and once more the dun sphere flew;
But Casey still ignored it and the umpire said, “Strike two!”
“Fraud!” cried the maddened thousands, and echo answered “Fraud!”
But one scornful look from Casey and the audience was awed.
They saw his face grow stern and cold, they saw his muscles strain,
And they knew that Casey wouldn’t let that ball go by again.
The sneer is gone from Casey’s lip, his teeth are clenched in hate,
He pounds with cruel violence his bat upon the plate;
And now the pitcher holds the ball, and now he lets it go,
And now the air is shattered by the force of Casey’s blow.
Oh, somewhere in this favoured land the sun is shining bright,
The band is playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light;
And somewhere men are laughing, and somewhere children shout,
But there is no joy in Mudville—mighty Casey has struck out.