Two Poems by Emily Dickinson

Emily_Dickinson_daguerreotype_(Restored_and_cropped)
Emily Dickinson, ca. 1848

Emily Dickinson very much belongs among the greatest poets of her era; however, her story is a cautionary tale for anyone who thinks poetry comes with any kind of fame or recognition. Unappreciated in her lifetime on the scale she deserved, her work is nonetheless a timeless collection of treasures which keeps her name upon the lips of even the most novice of literature aficionados. Here are two classics by Emily Dickinson.

 

 

“”HOPE” IS THE THING WITH FEATHERS”

“Hope” is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul
And sings the tune without the words
And never stops at all,
And sweetest in the gale is heard;
And sore must be the storm
That could abash the little bird
That kept so many warm.
I’ve heard it in the chillest land
And on the strangest sea,
Yet never, in extremity,
It asked a crumb of me.

 

“SUCCESS”

Success is counted sweetest
By those who ne’er succeed.
To comprehend a nectar
Requires sorest need.
Not one of all the purple host
Who took the flag to-day
Can tell the definition,
So clear, of victory,
As he, defeated, dying,
On whose forbidden ear
The distant strains of triumph
Break, agonized and clear.

Two Poems by Edgar Allan Poe

Edgar Allan Poe 1849
Edgar Allan Poe, 1849.

Edgar Allan Poe died in 1849, yet he is a poet and writer whose name is still familiar to many outside of academic circles. While often dark, his work has a depth of emotion which keeps it a relevant reminder of the human condition even into the 21st century. My own daughter is named after one of the following poems which speaks of love as a bond which transcends this mortal coil. Here are two popular poems by Edgar Allan Poe.

 

 

 

“ANNABEL LEE”

It was many and many a year ago,
In a kingdom by the sea,
That a maiden there lived whom you may know
By the name of Annabel Lee;
And this maiden she lived with no other thought
Than to love and be loved by me.

I was a child and she was a child,
In this kingdom by the sea,
But we loved with a love that was more than love—
I and my Annabel Lee—
With a love that the winged seraphs of Heaven
Coveted her and me.

And this was the reason that, long ago,
In this kingdom by the sea,
A wind blew out of a cloud, chilling
My beautiful Annabel Lee;
So that her highborn kinsmen came
And bore her away from me,
To shut her up in a sepulchre
In this kingdom by the sea.

The angels, not half so happy in Heaven,
Went envying her and me—
Yes!—that was the reason (as all men know,
In this kingdom by the sea)
That the wind came out of the cloud by night,
Chilling and killing my Annabel Lee.

But our love it was stronger by far than the love
Of those who were older than we—
Of many far wiser than we—
And neither the angels in Heaven above
Nor the demons down under the sea
Can ever dissever my soul from the soul
Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;

For the moon never beams, without bringing me dreams
Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;
And the stars never rise, but I feel the bright eyes
Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;
And so, all the night-tide, I lie down by the side
Of my darling—my darling—my life and my bride,
In her sepulchre there by the sea—
In her tomb by the sounding sea.

 

“ALONE”

From childhood’s hour I have not been
As others were—I have not seen
As others saw—I could not bring
My passions from a common spring—
From the same source I have not taken
My sorrow—I could not awaken
My heart to joy at the same tone—
And all I lov’d—I lov’d alone—
Then—in my childhood—in the dawn
Of a most stormy life—was drawn
From ev’ry depth of good and ill
The mystery which binds me still—
From the torrent, or the fountain—
From the red cliff of the mountain—
From the sun that ‘round me roll’d
In its autumn tint of gold—
From the lightning in the sky
As it pass’d me flying by—
From the thunder, and the storm—
And the cloud that took the form
(When the rest of Heaven was blue)
Of a demon in my view—

 

Three Poems by Robert Frost

Robert Frost in a 1941 photograh. (Library of Congress photograph)
Robert Frost in a 1941 photograph. (Library of Congress photograph)

When I was an undergraduate in college, I had a professor who held the distinction of having every poet laureate of the United States in his car at one time or another since Robert Frost. He told an amusing story of having almost run Robert Frost over with his car while Frost was walking on the Amherst campus. Frost has long been one of my favorite poets and remains an influence 57 years after his death and over 95 years after the following poems were published. Here are three of my favorite Robert Frost poems which entered the public domain on January 1, 2019.

 

“STOPPING BY THE WOODS ON A SNOWY EVENING”

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village, though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.
My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.
He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sounds the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.
The woods are lovely, dark, and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

 

“THE ROAD NOT TAKEN”

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

 

“FIRE AND ICE”

Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I’ve tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.

“A Pair of Old Jeans” by John Grey

I’m throwing out a pair of old jeans
but not my efforts to be a good person,
I’m trying to answer all of your questions,
truthfully, not like a cloud of vapor,
who I am, where I come from,
feel like they’re standing before you for the first time –
yes, I’m feeling a little storm-tossed,
because I’m not sure my life can measure up to yours –
I’m also tossing the black t-shirt with a band on it
because I’m not twenty-one anymore
and hoping I can cast some light
on everything everybody ever did to me –
whatever I say, it’s as much to educate me
as you – at least, it’s my effort
to make sense of this moment in time
by stepping out of it –
so I remember the first person who broke my heart,
the first person who discouraged me;
but they’re fleeting, serve little purpose,
shadows of shadows –
high school crush? what is that?
girl in the coffee shop? who is she?
girl who asked me to grow my hair out
who was half way to being you –
I still have these teenage poems,
would have been better off burning them,
wherever these women are now,
I hope they’ve done well,
and their kids are healthy –
of course, in the din of a crowd
ignoring them would be better,
for remembering can be a little bit like dying:
compartmentalizing the brain
like cleaning and packing my clothes neatly
so some shelter will take them – it’s raining,
or maybe I’m imagining it,
can’t recall most people,
not even the damage we might have done to each other,
but know that somewhere in my brain,
lingering in a corner,
is every word I ever heard,
every face I ever saw,
not even the universe is as big as this –
then there’s my father who died.
who must feel the same,
my mother who thinks that
I should have been something other
than what I became,
and there’s the names I changed
to protect the nerds –
you’re saying something,
I’m not sure I hear you,
I don’t know how much you know,
like the days on Block Island
when I finally discovered
what manhood is all about,
and those walks in the woods
where my spirit got a good going over,
caught in a powerful storm,
stuck in some church youth group –
those were other days, other people,
Daggie and Luke, tender Marie,
and lectures on God and the Devil,
times of silence I could actually feel,
like the spaces between notes in a song –
the thing is, you never run out of room in your head –
you tell me it must be
some kind of therapeutic exercise
but a few of those people were pretty okay –
at least they must have been –
sometimes I can smell the past,
sometimes I can taste it,
it doesn’t always gel neatly,
and the ones I miss and those I don’t
confuse me, confuse each other,
or appear so clear, so precise,
more than I could ever hope for
and I even thank my brain for showing them to me –
did you know I had a best friend in kindergarten,
I suffered the indignity of a first kiss,
I never did move to my dream city,
my fourth-grade teacher encouraged me –
now look at me,
I have a wife, a house, a garden,
I know what it’s like to change,
I’ve drifted alone,
I’ve made plans together.
I’ve been present when the truth came out,
and I’ve sometimes wondered
where will we all end up,
and am I the man you think I am,
and who’s that driving away in the distance –
well it isn’t me
and you shouldn’t be surprised by that.

 

 

John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. He was recently published in Transcend, Dalhousie Review, and Qwerty, with work upcoming in Blueline, Hawaii Pacific Review, and Clade Song.

“An Art Deco Version of the Panama Canal” by William Doreski

2021 Pushcart Prize Nominee
2020 Best of the Net Nominee

Your neighborhood grew hilly
in my absence, the houses
clinging to unruly slopes.

You redecorated to suggest
an Art Deco version
of the Panama Canal but

that drippy neighbor squatting
at your dining room table quotes
Coleridge and George Herbert to prove

how culturally advantaged she is.
I should have stayed home but
wanted to watch the workers

resurrecting the old railroad
that before the latest earthquake
trundled through your back yard

with container-loads from China.
Piecing together their language
of grunts and groans I learn that

a coppery autumn discontent
has settled over this city,
wrenching men from needed sleep

and drying up the mother’s milk
that fuels your future leaders.
After resetting and polishing

miles of rail, the workers burn
their favorite tools with ritual
prayers to invoke the moon.

In response it rises, a full moon
veiled by pumpkin-colored mist.
You’ve said nothing about the cries

of blackbirds parsing funerals,
of delinquents breaking into
storage sheds where militias

store their nuclear weapons.
You neighbor quotes her last quotation
and gusts through the back door

with a gesture of sweeping disdain.
I claim the chair she warmed,
and pretend to admire the carpet

you laid, Panama gray
with a fringe of jungle. Your smile
is ravenous. The day declines

toward a stainless climax no one
who hasn’t savored your small talk
can fully perceive or admire.

 

William Doreski has published three critical studies and several collections of poetry. His work has appeared in many print and online journals. He has taught at Emerson, Goddard, Boston University, and Keene State College. His most recent book is Train to Providence, a collaboration with photographer Rodger Kingston.

“Grief Tickles like a Hammer” by Jennifer Ruth Jackson

Our wits had fled
on tiptoe.
It was morning,

though, the butterscotch
sun swirled among
clouds, when we

first noticed.  Pain splashed
vibrant and ugly,
a Christmas sweater of black

cats.  It was spring.
Not like now, winter’s bite
leaves teeth marks

on our bones.  We bang
our heads and search
scrambled brains.

We remember meeting you,
the synapse-snap
audible, pleasant, like

castanets and margaritas
trickling in tongues, ears.
You were worth it

to us.

 

 

Jennifer Ruth Jackson is an award-winning poet and fiction writer whose work has appeared in Red Earth ReviewBanshee, and more.  She runs a blog for disabled and/or neurodivergent writers called The Handy, Uncapped Pen from an apartment she shares with her husband. Follow her on Twitter @jenruthjackson.

“i am the monster you told me i was” by Linda M. Crate

i am the monster you told me i was
someone else experienced
what i did,
the violation of trust
between parent and child;
when they read
their diary—
she said it was a trauma,
and i think she’s right;
because i still have feelings about
how wrong it was
for you to have done that—
especially since you punished and belittled me
for how i felt,
and maybe i was wrong sometimes;
but you could’ve encouraged conversations
that were meaningful and included me
reassuring me my fears were simply nightmares
my head conjured—
instead you bullied, belittled, and wounded me
further than you already did simply by being you;
and so i have learned to keep everything
locked inside—
everyone wants behind the windows of my eyes,
but i keep them locked outside;
cannot trust anyone because i’m afraid they’ll
rip me apart like you did—
and i am no longer that shaking rabbit,
i am the damphyr who wants her blood;
full of rage and pain and fury i’ll rip them apart instead,
and i don’t want to be the monsters that broke me.

 

 

 

Linda M. Crate is a writer whose works have been published in numerous magazines and anthologies both online and in print. She is the author of six poetry chapbooks, the latest of which is: More Than Bone Music (Clare Songbirds Publishing House, March 2019). She is also the author of the novel Phoenix Tears (Czykmate Books, June 2018). She is the author of one full-length poetry collection entitled Vampire Daughter (Dark Gatekeeper Gaming, February 2020) and has a forthcoming second full-length collection entitled The Sweetest Blood (Cyberwit).

“Villanelle for my friends out saving the world” by Seth Brown

Relax, my friend, for you have earned your rest.
Though you may strive to set the world aright,
Just be yourself and I will be impressed.

Each day need not become an endless test
Wherein your burden is a constant fight.
Relax, my friend, for you have earned your rest.

Ambition drives you to become the best,
Yet blinds you to your current glowing light.
Just be yourself, and I will be impressed.

You seek to save the weak and dispossessed,
Yet for yourself, the care you give seems slight.
Relax, my friend, for you have earned your rest.

Your awesomeness I hope you will digest,
My love for you could have no upper height.
Just be yourself, and I will be impressed.

You’ll fix the world, and I applaud your quest,
But know you need not do it all tonight.
Relax, my friend, for you have earned your rest.
Just be yourself, and I will be impressed.

 

 

Seth Brown lives in the beautiful Berkshires, where he performs poetry and writes his award-winning humor column The Pun Also Rises for the Berkshire Eagle. He is the author of six books including From God To Verse, a line-by-line rhyming translation of the Torah. His website is RisingPun.com.

“I Pretended I Was Water” by Michael C. Smith

I pretended I was water
etching the canyon wall. Indigo,
the purples, the blacks
and flashed upon a constellation of mica
broken mirrors of
complicated lovers, and then over
stone-turning-to-monument, monument-
to-stone, and burled, grooved, eroded my way
into the mildewed cribs,
along leather city soles, away from
misunderstood asphalt.

I pretended I was water etching clean
the canyon wall
a rapacious vein ordained
to cleave a nation, a push
without substance, without mercy.
As gravity bid, without recourse, I opened
gashes, lacerations revealing
marble.

I pretended I was water etching white
the canyon wall, etching will
to fate, heroism to wisdom.

And I drank the minerals of my going
and gratefully ate the grains sloughed
by the weakest stars.

 

 

Michael C. Smith is the author of Writing Dangerous Poetry (McGraw-Hill) and the coauthor of another book on creative writing, Everyday Creative Writing: Panning for Gold in the Kitchen Sink (McGraw-Hill).  His work has appeared in several journals, including Iowa ReviewSeneca ReviewNorthwest Review, and other publications. Recently his meta-fictional story, “Bass Weather,” published originally by Gemini Magazine, was included in the 2017 Best Small Fictions anthology, edited by Amy Hempel, and including works by Joy Williams and Brian Doyle. Michael lives in Pomona, CA, and is a proud graduate of the MFA program at the University of Arizona.

“Moon’s Feast” by Adriana Morgan

The moon swallowed the sun.
What a splendid way
to start my day!
She munched him for five long days—
or were they nights?—
then caught the stars
one after the other,
with a crisp,
chameleonic tongue.
Two weeks for the job.
I watched her, thrilled,
from behind my pink curtains.

Perverse and plump,
the moon unrooted some pine trees
to pick her golden teeth,
crashing big chunks
of the North Star
over my garden.
Too bad for my lilies…
But she wasn’t full, no!
She ate all the planets:
Mars, Neptune, Venus—
vanished
into her visceral mouth.

Then, fat and tired—
much, much fatter than my aunt Suzy—
she burped a comet—almost hitting my roof,
and took a nap in the sky’s smoky armpit.
She snored for months…
“Give me a break!” I shouted,
but she didn’t care, no! shamelessly shaking
the sky’s skinny chest.

Huge, hot, and harsh,
she woke up with a start—a nightmare, I hope!
and thought it was time to have a drink:
the Milky Way! Like a new-born, she giggled—
what a joy to suck from your mother’s breast
at four point five billion years old!
She scratched her obese belly,
hungry still.

Galaxy after galaxy she gobbled—
like my uncle Mark, red
mullets. Meteorites stuck to her sweaty
skin like fireflies,
so in a foggy nebula, she showered.
Patient, I polished my poem,
then my nails, and put on eyeshadow
in the moonlight.

 

 

Adriana Morgan completed a Ph.D. in French Literature at the University of Letters in Nantes, France. She is fluent in six languages and worked as a translator and terminologist at the European Commission in Luxembourg and the United Nations in New York. She taught French at the University of Jamia Milia Islamia, New Delhi, India, the French Alliance and the Universities of Valparaiso and Vina del Mar, Chile. She currently works as a multi-dimensional artist: painter, poet, and children’s picture books writer and illustrator. She is the first prize winner of the Midnight Mozaic Fiction (Medium, 2019), one of the selected winners of the Canadian poetry contest—Quebec and the Francophony, and second prize winner of the Daniil Pashkoff International Poetry Contest, 2018, Germany.