Monday, July 4, 2016

Six Poets on Independence

Five men and one woman. Four white poets and two poets of color. Five dead poets and one living poet. One formal poet, one half-formal poet, one prose writer, three vers libre poets. Three poets of place. Two poets of terror. One poet who forgets the existence of another poet. Six declarations.

from Resolution and Independence

William Wordsworth

There was a roaring in the wind all night;
The rain came heavily and fell in floods;
But now the sun is rising calm and bright;
The birds are singing in the distant woods;
Over his own sweet voice the Stock-dove broods;
The Jay makes answer as the Magpie chatters;
And all the air is filled with pleasant noise of waters.

All things that love the sun are out of doors;
The sky rejoices in the morning's birth;
The grass is bright with rain-drops;—on the moors
The hare is running races in her mirth;
And with her feet she from the plashy earth
Raises a mist, that, glittering in the sun,
Runs with her all the way, wherever she doth run.

* * *

from The Ballad of the Children of the Czar

Delmore Schwartz

I am my father’s father,
You are your children’s guilt.

In history’s pity and terror
The child is Aeneas again;

* * *

from In Defense of Small Towns

Oliver de la Paz

If I’ve learned anything, it’s that I could be anywhere,
staring at a hunk of asphalt or listening to the clap of billiard balls

against each other in a bar and hear my name.

* * *

from Preface to Leaves of Grass, first edition (1855)

Walt Whitman

The Americans of all nations at any time upon the earth have probably the fullest poetical nature. The United States themselves are essentially the greatest poem. In the history of the earth hitherto the largest and most stirring appear tame and orderly to their ampler largeness and stir. Here at last is something in the doings of man that corresponds with the broadcast doings of the day and night. Here is not merely a nation but a teeming nation of nations. Here is action untied from strings necessarily blind to particulars and details magnificently moving in vast masses. Here is the hospitality which forever indicates heroes. . . . Here are the roughs and beards and space and ruggedness and nonchalance that the soul loves. Here the performance disdaining the trivial unapproached in the tremendous audacity of its crowds and groupings and the push of its perspective spreads with crampless and flowing breadth and showers its prolific and splendid extravagance. One sees it must indeed own the riches of the summer and winter, and need never be bankrupt while corn grows from the ground or the orchards drop apples or the bays contain fish or men beget children upon women.

* * *

from my dream about time

Lucille Clifton

a woman unlike myself is running
down the long hall of a lifeless house
with too many windows which open on
a world she has no language for,

* * *

from [as freedom is a breakfastfood]

e. e. cummings

worms are the words but joy’s the voice
down shall go which and up come who
breasts will be breasts thighs will be thighs
deeds cannot dream what dreams can do
—time is a tree (this life one leaf)
but love is the sky and i am for you
just so long and long enough


Carlene said...

wonderful collection of readings...thanks!

Judy Kaber said...

Memorized and recited that ee cummings poem for my wedding in the Arnold Arboretum Bird Sanctuary, Newpot, RI, June 1968. Love it!

Dawn Potter said...

Judy, that's lovely to know! And Carlene: thank you!

Linda Buckmaster said...

Thank you for these poems during this fraught time. It's important for us to remember the "heart" of the matter.