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Full text of "The anthology : poems for Poetry Out Loud : national recitation contest"

NATIONAL ENDOWMENT FOR THE ARTS 

and 

POETRY FOUNDATION 

present 



LUjJJjtf 
I'limiiiH 



NATIONAL RECITATION CONTEST 




THE ANTHOLOGY 



Poetry Out Loud: 
National Recitation Contest 



NATIONAL ENDOWMENT FOR THE ARTS 

and 
THE POETRY FOUNDATION 

present 



THE ANTHOLOGY 



Poems/or 

Poetry Out Loud: 
National Recitation Contest 



Edited by 

DAN STONE 

and 

STEPHEN YOUNG 



©2005 by Poetry Foundation. 

All rights reserved. 

Manufactured in the United States of America. 

Printed by Science Press — Cadmus Professional Communications, U.S.A. 

isbn: 1-881505-n-i 



DESIGN BY WINTERHOUSE STUDIO 
WINTERHOUSE.COM 




The National Endowment for the Arts is the largest annual funder 
of the arts in the United States. An independent federal agency, the 
nea is the official arts organization of the United States government, 
dedicated to supporting excellence in the arts — both new and estab- 
lished — bringing the arts to all Americans, and providing leadership 
in arts education. 




The Poetry Foundation is an independent literary organization 
committed to a vigorous presence for poetry in our culture. The 
Foundation publishes Poetry magazine, sponsors a variety of public 
programs, and supports creative projects in literature. 



The ear is the only true writer and the only true reader. 
— Robert Frost 



Digitized by the Internet Archive 

in 2012 with funding from 

Boston Library Consortium Member Libraries 



http://archive.org/details/anthologypoemsfoOOston 



INTRODUCTION 



The Poetry Out Loud Anthology presents only a fraction of the 
poems available to participants. The full selection, which will be 
expanded regularly, can be found online at www.poetryoutloud.org. 
There, students and teachers will find a great variety of classic and 
contemporary poetry that couldn't be included here because of space 
and copyright restrictions. 

A great poem may be preserved on the page, but it lives when it is 
spoken and heard. For many students, performance can be a much 
more exciting entry into literature than a simple reading assignment. 
Consider the popularity of the slam and spoken word movement — 
events that create dynamic communities of speakers and listeners. 
Students who learn poems by heart own them for life. And they can 
always be shared, whether the audience is oneself or the world at large. 

The National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation 
are proud to present Poetry Out Loud to high school students across 
the nation. 

DAN STONE 

National Endowment for the Arts 

STEPHEN YOUNG 

Poetry Foundation 



CONTENTS 



POEMS 



MATTHEW ARNOLD 
W.H. AUDEN 

APHRA BEHN 

AMBROSE BIERCE 

WILLIAM BLAKE 

LOUISE BOGAN 

ANNE BRADSTREET 

EMILY BRONTE 

RUPERT BROOKE 

GWENDOLYN BROOKS 

ELIZABETH BARRETT 
BROWNING 

ROBERT BROWNING 

ROBERT BURNS 

GEORGE GORDON, 
LORD BYRON 

THOMAS CAMPION 

LEWIS CARROLL 

LADY MARY CHUDLEIGH 

JOHN CLARE 

LUCILLE CLIFTON 



1 


Dover Beach 


3 


The Unknown Citizen 


4 


The More Loving One 


5 


Love Armed 


6 


The New Decalogue 


7 


The Tyger 


8 


Women 


9 


To My Dear and Loving Husband 


10 


Shall earth no more inspire thee 


II 


The Soldier 


12 


Sadie and Maud 


13 


How do I love thee? 




Let me count the ways 


14 


My Last Duchess 


16 


A Red, Red Rose 


17 


She Walks in Beauty 



18 Follow thy fair sun, unhappy 

shadow 

1 9 Jabberwocky 

20 To the Ladies 

21 I Am 

22 [ if mama /could see] 



SAMUEL TAYLOR COLERIDGE 

HART CRANE 

COUNTEE CULLEN 

E.E. CUMMINGS 

TOI DERRICOTTE 

EMILY DICKINSON 

JOHN DONNE 

H.D. (HILDA DOOLITTLE) 

RITA DOVE 

PAUL LAURENCE DUNBAR 

T.S. ELIOT 

QUEEN ELIZABETH I 

RALPH WALDO EMERSON 

RHINA P. ESPAILLAT 

ANNE FINCH, COUNTESS 
OF WINCHILSEA 

ROBERT FROST 



THOMAS GRAY 

THOMAS HARDY 
JOY HARJO 
MICHAEL S. HARPER 
ROBERT HAYDEN 
GEORGE HERBERT 
ROBERT HERRICK 



23 


Kubla Khan 


25 


My Grandmother's Love Letters 


26 


Yet Do I Marvel 


27 


anyone lived in a pretty how town 


29 


Black Boys Play the Classics 


30 


"Hope" is the thing with feathers 


31 


I heard a Fly buzz — when I died 


32 


The Good-Morrow 


33 


Song 


34 


Helen 


35 


The Secret Garden 


36 


We Wear the Mask 


37 


Preludes 


39 


When I was Fair and Young 


40 


Concord Hymn 


41 


Bilingual/ Bilingue 


42 


Adam Posed 


43 


The Road Not Taken 


44 


Fire and Ice 


45 


Stopping by Woods 



on a Snowy Evening 

46 Ode on the Death of a 

Favourite Cat, Drowned 
in a Tub of Goldfishes 



48 


Channel Firing 


50 


Eagle Poem 


51 


Grandfather 


53 


Those Winter Sundays 


54 


The Pulley 


55 


To the Virgins, to Make Much 




of Time 



OLIVER WENDELL HOLMES 
GERARD MANLEY HOPKINS 
A.E. HOUSMAN 
JULIA WARD HOWE 
MARY HOWITT 
LANGSTON HUGHES 
JAMES WELDON JOHNSON 
BEN JONSON 
JOHN KEATS 



JOYCE KILMER 
YUSEF KOMUNYAKAA 
EMMA LAZARUS 
EDWARD LEAR 
LI-YOUNG LEE 
SHIRLEY GEOK-LIN LIM 
VACHEL LINDSAY 

HENRY WADSWORTH 
LONGFELLOW 

RICHARD LOVELACE 

CHRISTOPHER MARLOWE 

ANDREW MARVELL 

DAVID MASON 

EDGAR LEE MASTERS 

CLAUDE MCKAY 

HERMAN MELVILLE 

EDNA ST. VINCENT 
MILLAY 



56 


Old Ironsides 


57 


Pied Beauty 


58 


To an Athlete Dying Young 


59 


Battle-Hymn of the Republic 


60 


The Spider and the Fly 


62 


Harlem 


63 


Lift Ev'ry Voice and Sing 


64 


Song to Celia 


65 


When I Have Fears 




That I May Cease to Be 


66 


La Belle Dame sans Merci: A Ballad 


68 


Trees 


69 


Kindness 


70 


The New Colossus 


71 


The Owl and the Pussy-Cat 


73 


The Gift 


75 


Learning to Love America 


76 


General William Booth 




Enters Into Heaven 


78 


A Psalm of Life 


80 


To Althea, from Prison 


81 


The Passionate Shepherd to His Love 


82 


To His Coy Mistress 


84 


Song of the Powers 


85 


Mrs. Kessler 


86 


Romance 


87 


The Maldive Shark 


88 


I think I should have 



loved you presently 
89 What lips my lips have kissed, 
and where, and why 



JOHN MILTON 

N. SCOTT MOMADAY 
MARIANNE MOORE 
MARILYN NELSON 
YONE NOGUCHI 
WILFRED OWEN 
DOROTHY PARKER 
KATHERINE PHILIPS 
EDGAR ALLAN POE 
ALEXANDER POPE 
EZRA POUND 
SIR WALTER RALEGH 

DUDLEY RANDALL 

EDWIN ARLINGTON 
ROBINSON 

CHRISTINA ROSSETTI 

BENJAMIN ALIRE SAENZ 

CARL SANDBURG 

WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE 



PERCY BYSSHE SHELLEY 
CHARLOTTE SMITH 

WALLACE STEVENS 

JONATHAN SWIFT 

RABINDRANATH TAGORE 
SARA TEASDALE 



90 


When I consider how my light 
is spent 


91 


The Delight Song of Tsoai-talee 


92 


Poetry 


94 


How I Discovered Poetry 


95 


The Poet 


96 


Duke et Decorum Est 


97 


One Perfect Rose 


98 


Epitaph 


99 


Annabel Lee 


101 


Ode on Solitude 


102 


Envoi 


103 


The Nymph 's Reply to the 
Shepherd 


104 


Ballad of Birmingham 


106 


Miniver Cheevy 


108 


Up-Hill 


109 


To the Desert 


110 


Chicago 


112 


When, in disgrace with fortune 



and men's eyes (29) 

1 1 3 Not marble, nor the gilded 

monuments (55) 

1 1 4 Ozymandias 

1 1 5 Oh, Hope! thou soother sweet 

of human woes 

116 Thirteen Ways of Looking 

at a Blackbird 

M9 A Satirical Elegy on the Death 
of a Late Famous General 

120 Gitanjali 35 

1 2 1 Let It Be Forgotten 



ALFRED, LORD TENNYSON 122 

DYLAN THOMAS 



JEAN TOOMER 

AMY UYEMATSU 

EDMUND WALLER 

PHILLIS WHEATLEY 

WALT WHITMAN 

JOHN GREENLEAF WHITTIER 

WILLIAM CARLOS WILLIAMS 

WILLIAM WORDSWORTH 

SIR THOMAS WYATT 

ELINOR WYLIE 
WILLIAM BUTLER YEATS 



122 


The Charge of the Light Brigade 


124 


Do Not Go Gentle into 




That Good Night 


125 


Fern Hill 


127 


November Cotton Flower 


128 


Deliberate 


129 


Song 


130 


On Virtue 


131 


I Hear America Singing 


132 


Barbara Frietchie 


135 


Danse Russe 


136 


The World Is Too Much with Us 


137 


They flee from me that sometime 




did me seek 


138 


Cold Blooded Creatures 


139 


The Lake Isle oflnnisfree 


140 


When You Are Old 



NOTES & CREDITS 



BIOGRAPHICAL NOTES 

CREDITS 

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS 



144 
164 
169 



POEMS 



MATTHEW ARNOLD 



Dover Beach 

The sea is calm tonight. 

The tide is full, the moon lies fair 

Upon the straits; on the French coast the light 

Gleams and is gone; the cliffs of England stand, 

Glimmering and vast, out in the tranquil bay. 

Come to the window, sweet is the night-air! 

Only, from the long line of spray 

Where the sea meets the moon-blanched land, 

Listen! you hear the grating roar 

Of pebbles which the waves draw back, and fling, 

At their return, up the high strand, 

Begin, and cease, and then again begin, 

With tremulous cadence slow, and bring 

The eternal note of sadness in. 

Sophocles long ago 

Heard it on the yEgean, and it brought 

Into his mind the turbid ebb and flow 

Of human misery; we 

Find also in the sound a thought, 

Hearing it by this distant northern sea. 

The Sea of Faith 

Was once, too, at the full, and round earth's shore 

Lay like the folds of a bright girdle furled. 

But now I only hear 

Its melancholy, long, withdrawing roar, 

Retreating, to the breath 

Of the night -wind, down the vast edges drear 

And naked shingles of the world. 



NATIONAL RECITATION CONTEST 



Ah, love, let us be true 

To one another! for the world, which seems 

To lie before us like a land of dreams, 

So various, so beautiful, so new, 

Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light, 

Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain; 

And we are here as on a darkling plain 

Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight, 

Where ignorant armies clash by night. 



POETRY OUT LOUD 



W.H. AUDEN 



The Unknown Citizen 

(T0JS/07/M/378 

This Marble Monument 

Is Erected by the State) 

He was found by the Bureau of Statistics to be 

One against whom there was no official complaint, 

And all the reports on his conduct agree 

That, in the modern sense of an old-fashioned word, he was a saint, 

For in everything he did he served the Greater Community. 

Except for the War till the day he retired 

He worked in a factory and never got fired, 

But satisfied his employers, Fudge Motors Inc. 

Yet he wasn't a scab or odd in his views, 

For his Union reports that he paid his dues, 

(Our report on his Union shows it was sound) 

And our Social Psychology workers found 

That he was popular with his mates and liked a drink. 

The Press are convinced that he bought a paper every day 

And that his reactions to advertisements were normal in every way. 

Policies taken out in his name prove that he was fully insured, 

And his Health-card shows he was once in a hospital but left it cured. 

Both Producers Research and High-Grade Living declare 

He was fully sensible to the advantages of the Installment Plan 

And had everything necessary to the Modern Man, 

A phonograph, a radio, a car and a frigidaire. 

Our researchers into Public Opinion are content 

That he held the proper opinions for the time of year; 

When there was peace, he was for peace; when there was war, he went. 

He was married and added five children to the population, 

Which our Eugenist says was the right number for a parent of his 

generation, 
And our teachers report that he never interfered with their education. 
Was he free? Was he happy? The question is absurd: 
Had anything been wrong, we should certainly have heard. 



NATIONAL RECITATION CONTEST 



The More Loving One 

Looking up at the stars, I know quite well 
That, for all they care, I can go to hell, 
But on earth indifference is the least 
We have to dread from man or beast. 

How should we like it were stars to burn 
With a passion for us we could not return? 
If equal affection cannot be, 
Let the more loving one be me. 

Admirer as I think I am 
Of stars that do not give a damn, 
I cannot, now I see them, say 
I missed one terribly all day. 

Were all stars to disappear or die, 
I should learn to look at an empty sky 
And feel its total dark sublime, 
Though this might take me a little time. 



POETRY OUT LOUD 



APHRA BEHN 

Love Armed 

Songfrom Abdelazar 

Love in Fantastic Triumph sat, 
Whilst Bleeding Hearts around him flowed, 
For whom Fresh pains he did Create, 
And strange Tyrannic power he showed; 
From thy Bright Eyes he took his fire, 
Which round about, in sport he hurled; 
But 'twas from mine he took desire 
Enough to undo the Amorous World. 

From me he took his sighs and tears, 
From thee his Pride and Cruelty; 
From me his Languishments and Fears, 
And every Killing Dart from thee; 
Thus thou and I, the God have armed, 
And set him up a Deity; 
But my poor Heart alone is harmed, 
Whilst thine the Victor is, and free. 



NATIONAL RECITATION CONTEST 



AMBROSE BIERCE 



Tlie New Decalogue 

Have but one God: thy knees were sore 
If bent in prayer to three or four. 

Adore no images save those 

The coinage of thy country shows. 

Take not the Name in vain. Direct 
Thy swearing unto some effect. 

Thy hand from Sunday work be held — 
Work not at all unless compelled. 

Honor thy parents, and perchance 
Their wills thy fortunes may advance. 

Kill not — death liberates thy foe 
From persecution's constant woe. 

Kiss not thy neighbor's wife. Of course 
There's no objection to divorce. 

To steal were folly, for 'tis plain 
In cheating there is greater gain. 

Bear not false witness. Shake your head 
And say that you have "heard it said." 

Who stays to covet ne'er will catch 
An opportunity to snatch. 



POETRY OUT LOUD 



WILLIAM BLAKE 



The Tyger 

Tyger! Tyger! burning bright 
In the forests of the night, 
What immortal hand or eye 
Could frame thy fearful symmetry? 

In what distant deeps or skies 
Burnt the fire of thine eyes? 
On what wings dare he aspire? 
What the hand dare seize the fire? 

And what shoulder, and what art, 
Could twist the sinews of thy heart? 
And when thy heart began to beat, 
What dread hand? and what dread feet? 

What the hammer? what the chain? 
In what furnace was thy brain? 
What the anvil? what dread grasp 
Dare its deadly terrors clasp? 

When the stars threw down their spears, 
And watered heaven with their tears, 
Did he smile his work to see? 
Did he who made the Lamb make thee? 

Tyger! Tyger! burning bright 
In the forests of the night, 
What immortal hand or eye, 
Dare frame thy fearful symmetry? 



NATIONAL RECITATION CONTEST 



LOUISE BOGAN 



Women 

Women have no wilderness in them, 
They are provident instead, 
Content in the tight hot cell of their hearts 
To eat dusty bread. 

They do not see cattle cropping red winter grass, 
They do not hear 

Snow water going down under culverts 
Shallow and clear. 

They wait, when they should turn to journeys, 
They stiffen, when they should bend. 
They use against themselves that benevolence 
To which no man is friend. 

They cannot think of so many crops to a field 
Or of clean wood cleft by an axe. 
Their love is an eager meaninglessness 
Too tense, or too lax. 

They hear in every whisper that speaks to them 
A shout and a cry. 

As like as not, when they take life over their door-sills 
They should let it go by. 



POETRY OUT LOUD 



ANNE BRADSTREET 



To My Dear and Loving Husband 

If ever two were one, then surely we. 

If ever man were loved by wife, then thee. 

If ever wife was happy in a man, 

Compare with me, ye women, if you can. 

I prize thy love more than whole mines of gold, 

Or all the riches that the East doth hold. 

My love is such that rivers cannot quench, 

Nor ought but love from thee give recompense. 

Thy love is such I can no way repay; 

The heavens reward thee manifold, I pray. 

Then while we live, in love let's so persever, 

That when we live no more, we may live ever. 



NATIONAL RECITATION CONTEST 



EMILY BRONTE 



Shall earth no more inspire thee 

Shall earth no more inspire thee, 
Thou lonely dreamer now? 
Since passion may not fire thee 
Shall Nature cease to bow? 

Thy mind is ever moving 
In regions dark to thee; 
Recall its useless roving — 
Come back and dwell with me. 

I know my mountain breezes 
Enchant and soothe thee still — 
I know my sunshine pleases 
Despite thy wayward will. 

When day with evening blending 
Sinks from the summer sky, 
I've seen thy spirit bending 
In fond idolatry. 

I've watched thee every hour; 
I know my mighty sway, 
I know my magic power 
To drive thy griefs away. 

Few hearts to mortals given 
On earth so wildly pine; 
Yet none would ask a heaven 
More like this earth than thine. 

Then let my winds caress thee; 
Thy comrade let me be — 
Since nought beside can bless thee, 
Return and dwell with me. 



10 POETRY OUT LOUD 



RUPERT BROOKE 



The Soldier 



If I should die, think only this of me: 

That there's some corner of a foreign field 
That is forever England. There shall be 

In that rich earth a richer dust concealed; 
A dust whom England bore, shaped, made aware, 

Gave, once, her flowers to love, her ways to roam, 
A body of England's, breathing English air, 

Washed by the rivers, blest by suns of home. 

And think, this heart, all evil shed away, 
A pulse in the eternal mind, no less 

Gives somewhere back the thoughts by England given; 
Her sights and sounds; dreams happy as her day; 
And laughter, learnt of friends; and gentleness, 
In hearts at peace, under an English heaven. 



NATIONAL RECITATION CONTEST II 



GWENDOLYN BROOKS 



Sadie and Maud 

Maud went to college. 
Sadie stayed at home. 
Sadie scraped life 
With a fine-tooth comb. 

She didn't leave a tangle in. 
Her comb found every strand. 
Sadie was one of the livingest chits 
In all the land. 

Sadie bore two babies 
Under her maiden name. 
Maud and Ma and Papa 
Nearly died of shame. 

When Sadie said her last so-long 
Her girls struck out from home. 
(Sadie had left as heritage 
Her fine-tooth comb.) 

Maud, who went to college, 
Is a thin brown mouse. 
She is living all alone 
In this old house. 



12 POETRY OUT LOUD 



ELIZABETH BARRETT BROWNING 



How do I love thee? Let me count the ways 

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways. 

I love thee to the depth and breadth and height 

My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight 

For the ends of being and ideal grace. 

I love thee to the level of every day's 

Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light. 

I love thee freely, as men strive for right; 

I love thee purely, as they turn from praise. 

I love thee with the passion put to use 

In my old griefs, and with my childhood's faith. 

I love thee with a love I seemed to lose 

With my lost saints. I love thee with the breath, 

Smiles, tears, of all my life; and, if God choose, 

I shall but love thee better after death. 



NATIONAL RECITATION CONTEST 13 



ROBERT BROWNING 



My Last Duchess 

FERRARA 

That's my last Duchess painted on the wall, 

Looking as if she were alive. I call 

That piece a wonder, now; Fra Pandolf 's hands 

Worked busily a day, and there she stands. 

WhTt please you sit and look at her? I said 

"Fra Pandolf" by design, for never read 

Strangers like you that pictured countenance, 

The depth and passion of its earnest glance, 

But to myself they turned (since none puts by 

The curtain I have drawn for you, but I) 

And seemed as they would ask me, if they durst, 

How such a glance came there; so, not the first 

Are you to turn and ask thus. Sir, 'twas not 

Her husband's presence only, called that spot 

Of joy into the Duchess' cheek; perhaps 

Fra Pandolf chanced to say, "Her mantle laps 

Over my lady's wrist too much," or "Paint 

Must never hope to reproduce the faint 

Half- flush that dies along her throat." Such stuff 

Was courtesy, she thought, and cause enough 

For calling up that spot of joy. She had 

A heart — how shall I say? — too soon made glad, 

Too easily impressed; she liked whate'er 

She looked on, and her looks went everywhere. 

Sir, 'twas all one! My favour at her breast, 

The dropping of the daylight in the West, 

The bough of cherries some officious fool 

Broke in the orchard for her, the white mule 

She rode with round the terrace — all and each 

Would draw from her alike the approving speech, 

Or blush, at least. She thanked men — good! but thanked 

Somehow — I know not how — as if she ranked 

My gift of a nine-hundred-years-old name 

With anybody's gift. Who'd stoop to blame 



14 POETRY OUT LOUD 



This sort of trifling? Even had you skill 

In speech — which I have not — to make your will 

Quite clear to such an one, and say, "Just this 

Or that in you disgusts me; here you miss, 

Or there exceed the mark" — and if she let 

Herself be lessoned so, nor plainly set 

Her wits to yours, forsooth, and made excuse — 

E'en then would be some stooping; and I choose 

Never to stoop. Oh, sir, she smiled, no doubt, 

Whene'er I passed her; but who passed without 

Much the same smile? This grew; I gave commands; 

Then all smiles stopped together. There she stands 

As if alive. Will't please you rise? We'll meet 

The company below, then. I repeat, 

The Count your master's known munificence 

Is ample warrant that no just pretense 

Of mine for dowry will be disallowed; 

Though his fair daughter's self, as I avowed 

At starting, is my object. Nay, we'll go 

Together down, sir. Notice Neptune, though, 

Taming a sea-horse, thought a rarity, 

Which Claus of Innsbruck cast in bronze for me! 



NATIONAL RECITATION CONTEST 15 



ROBERT BURNS 



A Red, Red Rose 

O my Luve is like a red, red rose 
That's newly sprung in June; 

my Luve is like the melody 
That's sweetly played in tune. 

So fair art thou, my bonnie lass, 

So deep in luve am I; 
And I will luve thee still, my dear, 

Till a' the seas gang dry. 

Till a' the seas gang dry, my dear, 
And the rocks melt wi' the sun; 

1 will love thee still, my dear, 

While the sands o' life shall run. 

And fare thee weel, my only luve! 

And fare thee weel awhile! 
And I will come again, my luve, 

Though it were ten thousand mile. 



16 POETRY OUT LOUD 



GEORGE GORDON, LORD BYRON 



She Walks in Beauty 

She walks in beauty, like the night 
Of cloudless climes and starry skies; 

And all that's best of dark and bright 
Meet in her aspect and her eyes; 

Thus mellowed to that tender light 
Which heaven to gaudy day denies. 

One shade the more, one ray the less, 
Had half impaired the nameless grace 

Which waves in every raven tress, 
Or softly lightens o'er her face; 

Where thoughts serenely sweet express, 
How pure, how dear their dwelling-place. 

And on that cheek, and o'er that brow, 

So soft, so calm, yet eloquent, 
The smiles that win, the tints that glow, 

But tell of days in goodness spent, 
A mind at peace with all below, 

A heart whose love is innocent! 



NATIONAL RECITATION CONTEST 17 



THOMAS CAMPION 



Follow thy fair sun, unhappy shadow 

Follow thy fair sun, unhappy shadow, 

Though thou be black as night 

And she made all of light, 

Yet follow thy fair sun unhappy shadow. 

Follow her whose light thy light depriveth, 

Though here thou liv'st disgraced, 

And she in heaven is placed, 

Yet follow her whose light the world reviveth. 

Follow those pure beams whose beauty burneth, 

That so have scorched thee, 

As thou still black must be, 

Till Her kind beams thy black to brightness turneth. 

Follow her while yet her glory shineth, 

There comes a luckless night, 

That will dim all her light, 

And this the black unhappy shade divineth. 

Follow still since so thy fates ordained, 

The Sun must have his shade, 

Till both at once do fade, 

The Sun still proved, the shadow still disdained. 



18 POETRY OUT LOUD 



LEWIS CARROLL 



Jabberwocky 

'Twas brillig, and the slithy toves 
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe: 

All mimsy were the borogoves, 
And the mome raths outgrabe. 

"Beware thejabberwock, my son! 

The jaws that bite, the claws that catch! 
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun 

The frumious Bandersnatch!" 

He took his vorpal sword in hand; 

Long time the manxome foe he sought — 
So rested he by the Tumtum tree 

And stood awhile in thought. 

And, as in ufftsh thought he stood, 
Thejabberwock, with eyes of flame, 

Came whiffling through the tulgey wood, 
And burbled as it came! 

One, two! One, two! And through and through 
The vorpal blade went snicker-snack! 

He left it dead, and with its head 
He went galumphing back. 

"And hast thou slain thejabberwock? 

Come to my arms, my beamish boy! 
O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!" 

He chortled in his joy. 

'Twas brillig, and the slithy toves 
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe: 

All mimsy were the borogoves, 
And the mome raths outgrabe. 



NATIONAL RECITATION CONTEST 19 



LADY MARY CHUDLEIGH 



To the Ladies 

Wife and servant are the same, 
But only differ in the name: 
For when that fatal knot is tied, 
Which nothing, nothing can divide: 
When she the word obey has said, 
And man by law supreme has made, 
Then all that's kind is laid aside, 
And nothing left but state and pride: 
Fierce as an Eastern prince he grows, 
And all his innate rigour shows: 
Then but to look, to laugh, or speak, 
Will the nuptial contract break. 
Like mutes she signs alone must make, 
And never any freedom take: 
But still be governed by a nod, 
And fear her husband as a God: 
Him still must serve, him still obey, 
And nothing act, and nothing say, 
But what her haughty lord thinks fit, 
Who with the power, has all the wit. 
Then shun, oh! shun that wretched state, 
And all the fawning flatt'rers hate: 
Value your selves, and men despise, 
You must be proud, if you'll be wise. 



20 POETRY OUT LOUD 



JOHN CLARE 



I Am 

I am — yet what I am none cares or knows; 
My friends forsake me like a memory lost: 
I am the self-consumer of my woes — 
They rise and vanish in oblivious host, 
Like shadows in love's frenzied stifled throes 
And yet I am, and live — like vapours tossed 

Into the nothingness of scorn and noise, 
Into the living sea of waking dreams, 
Where there is neither sense of life or joys, 
But the vast shipwreck of my life's esteems; 
Even the dearest that I loved the best 
Are strange — nay, rather, stranger than the rest. 

I long for scenes where man hath never trod 
A place where woman never smiled or wept 
There to abide with my Creator, God, 
And sleep as I in childhood sweetly slept, 
Untroubling and untroubled where I lie 
The grass below — above the vaulted sky. 



NATIONAL RECITATION CONTEST 21 



LUCILLE CLIFTON 



[ if mama / could see ] 

if mama 

could see 

she would see 

lucy sprawling 

limbs of lucy 

decorating the 

backs of chairs 

lucy hair 

holding the mirrors up 

that reflect odd 

aspects of lucy. 

if mama 
could hear 
she would hear 
lucysong rolled in the 
corners like lint 
exotic webs of lucysighs 
long lucy spiders explaining 
to obscure gods. 

if mama 

could talk 

she would talk 

good girl 

good girl 

good girl 

clean up your room. 



22 POETRY OUT LOUD 



SAMUEL TAYLOR COLERIDGE 



Kubla Khan 

Or, a vision in a dream. A Fragment. 

In Xanadu did Kubla Khan 
A stately pleasure-dome decree: 
Where Alph, the sacred river, ran 
Through caverns measureless to man 

Down to a sunless sea. 
So twice five miles of fertile ground 
With walls and towers were girdled round; 
And there were gardens bright with sinuous rills, 
Where blossomed many an incense-bearing tree; 
And here were forests ancient as the hills, 
Enfolding sunny spots of greenery. 

But oh! that deep romantic chasm which slanted 

Down the green hill athwart a cedarn cover! 

A savage place! as holy and enchanted 

As e'er beneath a waning moon was haunted 

By woman wailing for her demon-lover! 

And from this chasm, with ceaseless turmoil seething, 

As if this earth in fast thick pants were breathing, 

A mighty fountain momently was forced: 

Amid whose swift half-intermitted burst 

Huge fragments vaulted like rebounding hail, 

Or chaffy grain beneath the thresher's flail: 

And mid these dancing rocks at once and ever 

It flung up momently the sacred river. 

Five miles meandering with a mazy motion 

Through wood and dale the sacred river ran, 

Then reached the caverns measureless to man, 

And sank in tumult to a lifeless ocean; 

And 'mid this tumult Kubla heard from far 

Ancestral voices prophesying war! 



NATIONAL RECITATION CONTEST 23 



The shadow of the dome of pleasure 
Floated midway on the waves; 
Where was heard the mingled measure 
From the fountain and the caves. 

It was a miracle of rare device, 

A sunny pleasure-dome with caves of ice! 

A damsel with a dulcimer 

In a vision once I saw: 

It was an Abyssinian maid 

And on her dulcimer she played, 

Singing of Mount Abora. 

Could I revive within me 

Her symphony and song, 

To such a deep delight 'twould win me, 
That with music loud and long, 
I would build that dome in air, 
That sunny dome! those caves of ice! 
And all who heard should see them there, 
And all should cry, Beware! Beware! 
His flashing eyes, his floating hair! 
Weave a circle round him thrice, 
And close your eyes with holy dread 
For he on honey-dew hath fed, 
And drunk the milk of Paradise. 



24 POETRY OUT LOUD 



HART CRANE 



My Grandmother's Love Letters 

There are no stars tonight 

But those of memory. 

Yet how much room for memory there is 

In the loose girdle of soft rain. 

There is even room enough 

For the letters of my mother's mother, 

Elizabeth, 

That have been pressed so long 

Into a corner of the roof 

That they are brown and soft, 

And liable to melt as snow. 

Over the greatness of such space 
Steps must be gentle. 
It is all hung by an invisible white hair. 
It trembles as birch limbs webbing the air. 

And I ask myself: 

"Are your fingers long enough to play 

Old keys that are but echoes: 

Is the silence strong enough 

To carry back the music to its source 

And back to you again 

As though to her?" 

Yet I would lead my grandmother by the hand 
Through much of what she would not understand; 
And so I stumble. And the rain continues on the roof 
With such a sound of gently pitying laughter. 



NATIONAL RECITATION CONTEST 25 



COUNTEE CULLEN 



Yet Do I Marvel 



I doubt not God is good, well-meaning, kind, 

And did He stoop to quibble could tell why 

The little buried mole continues blind, 

Why flesh that mirrors Him must some day die, 

Make plain the reason tortured Tantalus 

Is baited by the fickle fruit, declare 

If merely brute caprice dooms Sisyphus 

To struggle up a never-ending stair. 

Inscrutable His ways are, and immune 

To catechism by a mind too strewn 

With petty cares to slightly understand 

What awful brain compels His awful hand. 

Yet do I marvel at this curious thing: 

To make a poet black, and bid him sing! 



26 POETRY OUT LOUD 



E.E. CUMMINGS 



anyone lived in a pretty how town 

anyone lived in a pretty how town 
(with up so floating many bells down) 
spring summer autumn winter 
he sang his didn't he danced his did. 

Women and men(both little and small) 
cared for anyone not at all 
they sowed their isn't they reaped their same 
sun moon stars rain 

children guessed(but only a few 
and down they forgot as up they grew 
autumn winter spring summer) 
that noone loved him more by more 

when by now and tree by leaf 
she laughed his joy she cried his grief 
bird by snow and stir by still 
anyone's any was all to her 

someones married their everyones 
laughed their cryings and did their dance 
(sleep wake hope and then)they 
said their nevers they slept their dream 

stars rain sun moon 

(and only the snow can begin to explain 
how children are apt to forget to remember 
with up so floating many bells down) 

one day anyone died i guess 
(and noone stooped to kiss his face) 
busy folk buried them side by side 
little by little and was by was 



NATIONAL RECITATION CONTEST 27 



all by all and deep by deep 
and more by more they dream their sleep 
noone and anyone earth by april 
wish by spirit and if by yes. 

Women and men(both dong and ding) 
summer autumn winter spring 
reaped their sowing and went their came 
sun moon stars rain 



28 POETRY OUT LOUD 



TOI DERRICOTTE 



Black Boys Play the Classics 

The most popular "act" in 

Penn Station 

is the three black kids in ratty 

sneakers & T-shirts playing 

two violins and a cello — Brahms. 

White men in business suits 

have already dug into their pockets 

as they pass and they toss in 

a dollar or two without stopping. 

Brown men in work-soiled khakis 

stand with their mouths open, 

arms crossed on their bellies 

as if they themselves have always 

wanted to attempt those bars. 

One white boy, three, sits 

cross-legged in front of his 

idols — in ecstasy — 

their slick, dark faces, 

their thin, wiry arms, 

who must begin to look 

like angels! 

Why does this trembling 

pull us? 

A: Beneath the surface we are one. 

B: Amazing! I did not think that they could speak this tongue. 



NATIONAL RECITATION CONTEST 29 



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. 



30 POETRY OUT LOUD 



/ heard a Fly buzz — when I died 

I heard a Fly buzz — when I died — 
The Stillness in the Room 
Was like the Stillness in the Air — 
Between the Heaves of Storm — 

The Eyes around — had wrung them dry — 
And Breaths were gathering firm 
For that last Onset — when the King 
Be witnessed — in the Room — 

I willed my Keepsakes — Signed away 
What portion of me be 
Assignable — and then it was 
There interposed a Fly — 

With Blue — uncertain stumbling Buzz — 
Between the light — and me — 
And then the Windows failed — and then 
I could not see to see — 



NATIONAL RECITATION CONTEST 31 



JOHN DONNE 



The Good-Morrow 

I wonder, by my troth, what thou and I 

Did, till we loved? Were we not weaned till then? 

But sucked on country pleasures, childishly? 

Or snorted we in the Seven Sleepers' den? 

'Twas so; but this, all pleasures fancies be. 

If ever any beauty I did see, 

Which I desired, and got, 'twas but a dream of thee. 

And now good-morrow to our waking souls, 
Which watch not one another out of fear; 
For love, all love of other sights controls, 
And makes one little room an everywhere. 
Let sea-discoverers to new worlds have gone, 
Let maps to other, worlds on worlds have shown, 
Let us possess one world, each hath one, and is one. 

My face in thine eye, thine in mine appears, 

And true plain hearts do in the faces rest; 

Where can we find two better hemispheres, 

Without sharp north, without declining west? 

Whatever dies, was not mixed equally; 

If our two loves be one, or, thou and I 

Love so alike, that none do slacken, none can die. 



32 POETRY OUT LOUD 



Song 

Go and catch a falling star, 

Get with child a mandrake root, 
Tell me where all past years are, 
Or who cleft the Devil's foot, 
Teach me to hear mermaids singing, 
Or to keep off envy's stinging, 
And find 
What wind 
Serves to advance an honest mind. 

If thou be'st borne to strange sights, 

Things invisible to see, 
Ride ten thousand days and nights, 

Till age snow white hairs on thee, 
Thou, when thou return'st, wilt tell me 
All strange wonders that befell thee, 
And swear 
Nowhere 
Lives a woman true, and fair. 

If thou find'st one, let me know, 

Such a pilgrimage were sweet — 
Yet do not, I would not go, 

Though at next door we might meet; 
Though she were true, when you met her, 
And last, till you write your letter, 
Yet she 
Will be 
False, ere I come, to two, or three. 



NATIONAL RECITATION CONTEST 33 



H.D. (HILDA DOOLITTLE) 



Helen 

All Greece hates 

the still eyes in the white face, 

the lustre as of olives 

where she stands, 

and the white hands. 

All Greece reviles 

the wan face when she smiles, 

hating it deeper still 

when it grows wan and white, 

remembering past enchantments 

and past ills. 

Greece sees unmoved, 

God's daughter, born of love, 

the beauty of cool feet 

and slenderest knees, 

could love indeed the maid, 

only if she were laid, 

white ash amid funereal cypresses. 



34 POETRY OUT LOUD 



RITA DOVE 



The Secret Garden 



I was ill, lying on my bed of old papers, 
when you came with white rabbits in your arms; 
and the doves scattered upwards, flying to mothers, 
and the snails sighed under their baggage of stone . . . 

Now your tongue grows like celery between us: 
Because of our love-cries, cabbage darkens in its nest; 
the cauliflower thinks of her pale, plump children 
and turns greenish-white in a light like the ocean's. 

I was sick, fainting in the smell of teabags, 

when you came with tomatoes, a good poetry. 

I am being wooed. I am being conquered 

by a cliff of limestone that leaves chalk on my breasts. 



NATIONAL RECITATION CONTEST 35 



PAUL LAURENCE DUNBAR 



We Wear the Mask 

We wear the mask that grins and lies, 
It hides our cheeks and shades our eyes,- 
This debt we pay to human guile; 
With torn and bleeding hearts we smile, 
And mouth with myriad subtleties. 

Why should the world be overwise, 
In counting all our tears and sighs? 
Nay, let them only see us, while 
We wear the mask. 

We smile, but, O great Christ, our cries 
To thee from tortured souls arise. 
We sing, but oh the clay is vile 
Beneath our feet, and long the mile; 
But let the world dream otherwise, 
We wear the mask! 



36 POETRY OUT LOUD 



T.S. ELIOT 



Preludes 



The winter evening settles down 

With smell of steaks in passageways. 

Six o'clock. 

The burnt-out ends of smoky days. 

And now a gusty shower wraps 

The grimy scraps 

Of withered leaves about your feet 

And newspapers from vacant lots; 

The showers beat 

On broken blinds and chimney-pots, 

And at the corner of the street 

A lonely cab-horse steams and stamps. 

And then the lighting of the lamps. 



ii 



The morning comes to consciousness 

Of faint stale smells of beer 

From the sawdust-trampled street 

With all its muddy feet that press 

To early coffee-stands. 

With the other masquerades 

That time resumes, 

One thinks of all the hands 

That are raising dingy shades 

In a thousand furnished rooms. 



in 



You tossed a blanket from the bed, 
You lay upon your back, and waited; 
You dozed, and watched the night revealing 
The thousand sordid images 



NATIONAL RECITATION CONTEST 37 



Of which your soul was constituted; 

They flickered against the ceiling. 

And when all the world came back 

And the light crept up between the shutters 

And you heard the sparrows in the gutters, 

You had such a vision of the street 

As the street hardly understands; 

Sitting along the bed's edge, where 

You curled the papers from your hair, 

Or clasped the yellow soles of feet 

In the palms of both soiled hands. 



IV 



His soul stretched tight across the skies 

That fade behind a city block, 

Or trampled by insistent feet 

At four and five and six o'clock; 

And short square fingers stuffing pipes, 

And evening newspapers, and eyes 

Assured of certain certainties, 

The conscience of a blackened street 

Impatient to assume the world. 

I am moved by fancies that are curled 
Around these images, and cling: 
The notion of some infinitely gentle 
Infinitely suffering thing. 

Wipe your hand across your mouth, and laugh; 
The worlds revolve like ancient women 
Gathering fuel in vacant lots. 



38 POETRY OUT LOUD 



QUEEN ELIZABETH I 



When I was Fair and Young 

When I was fair and young, then favor graced me. 

Of many was I sought their mistress for to be. 

But I did scorn them all and answered them therefore: 

Go, go, go, seek some other where; importune me no more. 

How many weeping eyes I made to pine in woe, 

How many sighing hearts I have not skill to show, 

But I the prouder grew and still this spake therefore: 

Go, go, go, seek some other where, importune me no more. 

Then spake fair Venus' son, that proud victorious boy, 
Saying: You dainty dame, for that you be so coy, 
I will so pluck your plumes as you shall say no more: 
Go, go, go, seek some other where, importune me no more. 

As soon as he had said, such change grew in my breast 
That neither night nor day I could take any rest. 
Wherefore I did repent that I had said before: 
Go, go, go, seek some other where, importune me no more. 



NATIONAL RECITATION CONTEST 39 



RALPH WALDO EMERSON 

Concord Hymn 

Sung at the Completion of the Battle Monument, July 4, i8^j 

By the rude bridge that arched the flood, 
Their flag to April's breeze unfurled, 

Here once the embattled farmers stood 
And fired the shot heard round the world. 

The foe long since in silence slept; 

Alike the conqueror silent sleeps; 
And Time the ruined bridge has swept 

Down the dark stream which seaward creeps. 

On this green bank, by this soft stream, 

We set today a votive stone; 
That memory may their deed redeem, 

When, like our sires, our sons are gone. 

Spirit, that made those heroes dare 
To die, and leave their children free, 

Bid Time and Nature gently spare 
The shaft we raise to them and thee. 



40 POETRY OUT LOUD 



RHINA P. ESPAILLAT 



Bilingual/ Bilingiie 

My father liked them separate, one there, 
one here (alia y aqui), as if aware 

that words might cut in two his daughter's heart 
(el corazon) and lock the alien part 

to what he was — his memory, his name 

(su nombre) — with a key he could not claim. 

"English outside this door, Spanish inside," 
he said, "y basta." But who can divide 

the world, the word (mundo y palabra) from 
any child? I knew how to be dumb 

and stubborn (testaruda); late, in bed, 
I hoarded secret syllables I read 

until my tongue (mi lengua) learned to run 
where his stumbled. And still the heart was one. 

I like to think he knew that, even when, 
proud (orgulloso) of his daughter's pen, 

he stood outside mis versos, half in fear 
of words he loved but wanted not to hear. 



NATIONAL RECITATION CONTEST 41 



ANNE FINCH, COUNTESS OF WINCHILSEA 



Adam Posed 

Could our first father, at his toilsome plow, 

Thorns in his path, and labor on his brow, 

Clothed only in a rude, unpolished skin, 

Could he a vain fantastic nymph have seen, 

In all her airs, in all her antic graces, 

Her various fashions, and more various faces; 

How had it posed that skill, which late assigned 

Just appellations to each several kind! 

A right idea of the sight to frame; 

T'have guessed from what new element she came; 

T'have hit the wavering form, or given this thing a name. 



42 POETRY OUT LOUD 



ROBERT FROST 



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. 



NATIONAL RECITATION CONTEST 43 



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. 



44 POETRY OUT LOUD 



Stopping by 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 sound's 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. 



NATIONAL RECITATION CONTEST 45 



THOMAS GRAY 



Ode on the Death of a Favourite Cat, 
Drowned in a Tub of Goldfishes 

'Twas on a lofty vase's side, 
Where China's gayest art had dyed 

The azure flowers that blow; 
Demurest of the tabby kind, 
The pensive Selima, reclined, 

Gazed on the lake below. 

Her conscious tail her joy declared; 
The fair round face, the snowy beard, 

The velvet of her paws, 
Her coat, that with the tortoise vies, 
Her ears of jet, and emerald eyes, 

She saw; and purred applause. 

Still had she gazed; but 'midst the tide 
Two angel forms were seen to glide, 

The genii of the stream; 
Their scaly armour's Tyrian hue 
Through richest purple to the view 

Betrayed a golden gleam. 

The hapless nymph with wonder saw; 
A whisker first and then a claw, 

With many an ardent wish, 
She stretched in vain to reach the prize. 
What female heart can gold despise? 

What cat's averse to fish? 

Presumptuous maid! with looks intent 
Again she stretch'd, again she bent, 

Nor knew the gulf between. 
(Malignant Fate sat by, and smiled) 
The slippery verge her feet beguiled, 

She tumbled headlong in. 



46 POETRY OUT LOUD 



Eight times emerging from the flood 
She mewed to every watery god, 

Some speedy aid to send. 
No dolphin came, no Nereid stirred; 
Nor cruel Tom, nor Susan heard; 

A Favourite has no friend! 

From hence, ye beauties, undeceived, 
Know, one false step is ne'er retrieved, 

And be with caution bold. 
Not all that tempts your wandering eyes 
And heedless hearts, is lawful prize; 

Nor all that glisters, gold. 



NATIONAL RECITATION CONTEST 47 



THOMAS HARDY 



Channel Firing 

That night your great guns, unawares, 
Shook all our coffins as we lay, 
And broke the chancel window-squares, 
We thought it was the Judgment-day 

And sat upright. While drearisome 
Arose the howl of wakened hounds; 
The mouse let fall the altar-crumb, 
The worms drew back into the mounds, 

The glebe cow drooled. Till God called, "No; 
It's gunnery practice out at sea 
Just as before you went below; 
The world is as it used to be; 

"All nations striving strong to make 
Red war yet redder. Mad as hatters 
They do no more for Christes sake 
Than you who are helpless in such matters. 

"That this is not the judgment-hour 
For some of them's a blessed thing, 
For if it were they'd have to scour 
Hell's floor for so much threatening 

"Ha, ha. It will be warmer when 
I blow the trumpet (if indeed 
I ever do; for you are men, 
And rest eternal sorely need)." 

So down we lay again. "I wonder, 
Will the world ever saner be," 
Said one, "than when He sent us under 
In our indifferent century!" 



48 POETRY OUT LOUD 



And many a skeleton shook his head. 
"Instead of preaching forty year," 
My neighbour Parson Thirdly said, 
"I wish I had stuck to pipes and beer." 

Again the guns disturbed the hour, 
Roaring their readiness to avenge, 
As far inland as Stourton Tower, 
And Camelot, and starlit Stonehenge. 



NATIONAL RECITATION CONTEST 49 



JOY HARJO 



Eagle Poem 

To pray you open your whole self 

To sky, to earth, to sun, to moon 

To one whole voice that is you. 

And know there is more 

That you can't see, can't hear; 

Can't know except in moments 

Steadly growing, and in languages 

That aren't always sound but other 

Circles of motion. 

Like eagle that Sunday morning 

Over Salt River. Circled in blue sky 

In wind, swept our hearts clean 

With sacred wings. 

We see you, see ourselves and know 

That we must take the utmost care 

And kindness in all things. 

Breathe in, knowing we are made of 

All this, and breathe, knowing 

We are truly blessed because we 

Were born, and die soon within a 

True circle of motion, 

Like eagle rounding out the morning 

Inside us. 

We pray that it will be done 

In beauty. 

In beauty. 



50 POETRY OUT LOUD 



MICHAEL S. HARPER 



Grandfather 

In 1915 my grandfather's 

neighbors surrounded his house 

near the dayline he ran 

on the Hudson 

in Catskill, NY 

and thought they'd burn 

his family out 

in a movie they'd just seen 

and be rid of his kind: 

the death of a lone black 

family is the Birth 

of a Nation, 

or so they thought. 

His 5 '4" waiter gait 

quenched the white jacket smile 

he'd brought back from watered 

polish of my father 

on the turning seats, 

and he asked his neighbors 

up on his thatched porch 

for the first blossom of fire 

that would bring him down. 

They went away, his nation, 

spittooning their torched necks 

in the shadows of the riverboat 

they'd seen, posse decomposing; 

and I see him on Sutter 

with white bag from your 

restaurant, challenged by his first 

grandson to a foot-race 

he will win in white clothes. 

I see him as he buys galoshes 
for his railed yard near Mineo's 



NATIONAL RECITATION CONTEST 51 



metal shop, where roses jump 

as the el circles his house 

toward Brooklyn, where his rain fell; 

and I see cigar smoke in his eyes, 

chocolate Madison Square Garden chews 

he breaks on his set teeth, 

stitched up after cancer, 

the great white nation immovable 

as his weight wilts 

and he is on a porch 

that won't hold my arms, 

or the legs of the race run 

forwards, or the film 

played backwards on his grandson's eyes. 



52 POETRY OUT LOUD 



ROBERT HAYDEN 



Those Winter Sundays 

Sundays too my father got up early 

and put his clothes on in the blueblack cold, 

then with cracked hands that ached 

from labor in the weekday weather made 

banked fires blaze. No one ever thanked him. 

I'd wake and hear the cold splintering, breaking. 
When the rooms were warm, he'd call, 
and slowly I would rise and dress, 
fearing the chronic angers of that house, 

Speaking indifferently to him, 
who had driven out the cold 
and polished my good shoes as well. 
What did I know, what did I know 
of love's austere and lonely offices? 



NATIONAL RECITATION CONTEST 53 



GEORGE HERBERT 



The Pulley 

When God at first made man, 
Having a glass of blessings standing by, 
"Let us," said he, "pour on him all we can. 
Let the world's riches, which dispersed lie, 

Contract into a span." 

So strength first made a way; 
Then beauty flowed, then wisdom, honour, pleasure. 
When almost all was out, God made a stay, 
Perceiving that, alone of all his treasure, 

Rest in the bottom lay. 

"For if I should," said he, 
"Bestow this jewel also on my creature, 
He would adore my gifts instead of me, 
And rest in Nature, not the God of Nature; 

So both should losers be. 

"Yet let him keep the rest, 
But keep them with repining restlessness; 
Let him be rich and weary, that at least, 
If goodness lead him not, yet weariness 

May toss him to my breast." 



54 POETRY OUT LOUD 



ROBERT HERRICK 



To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time 

Gather ye rose-buds while ye may, 

Old Time is still a-flying; 
And this same flower that smiles today 

Tomorrow will be dying. 

The glorious lamp of heaven, the sun, 

The higher he's a-getting, 
The sooner will his race be run, 

And nearer he's to setting. 

That age is best which is the first, 
When youth and blood are warmer; 

But being spent, the worse, and worst 
Times still succeed the former. 

Then be not coy, but use your time, 
And while ye may, go marry; 

For having lost but once your prime, 
You may forever tarry. 



NATIONAL RECITATION CONTEST 55 



OLIVER WENDELL HOLMES 



Old Ironsides 

Ay, tear her tattered ensign down! 

Long has it waved on high, 
And many an eye has danced to see 

That banner in the sky; 
Beneath it rung the battle shout, 

And burst the cannon's roar; — 
The meteor of the ocean air 

Shall sweep the clouds no more! 

Her deck, once red with heroes' blood 

Where knelt the vanquished foe, 
When winds were hurrying o'er the flood 

And waves were white below, 
No more shall feel the victor's tread, 

Or know the conquered knee; — 
The harpies of the shore shall pluck 

The eagle of the sea! 

O, better that her shattered hulk 

Should sink beneath the wave; 
Her thunders shook the mighty deep, 

And there should be her grave; 
Nail to the mast her holy flag, 

Set every thread-bare sail, 
And give her to the god of storms, — 

The lightning and the gale! 



56 POETRY OUT LOUD 



GERARD MANLEY HOPKINS 



Pied Beauty 

Glory be to God for dappled things — 

For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow; 

For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim; 
Fresh- firecoal chestnut-falls; finches' wings; 

Landscape plotted and pieced — fold, fallow, and plough; 
And all trades, their gear and tackle and trim. 

All things counter, original, spare, strange; 

Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?) 
With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim; 
He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change: 

Praise him. 



NATIONAL RECITATION CONTEST 57 



A.E. HOUSMAN 



To an Athlete Dying Young 

The time you won your town the race 
We chaired you through the market-place; 
Man and boy stood cheering by, 
And home we brought you shoulder-high. 

Today, the road all runners come, 
Shoulder-high we bring you home, 
And set you at your threshold down, 
Townsman of a stiller town. 

Smart lad, to slip betimes away 
From fields where glory does not stay, 
And early though the laurel grows 
It withers quicker than the rose. 

Eyes the shady night has shut 
Cannot see the record cut, 
And silence sounds no worse than cheers 
After earth has stopped the ears. 

Now you will not swell the rout 
Of lads that wore their honours out, 
Runners whom renown outran 
And the name died before the man. 

So set, before its echoes fade, 
The fleet foot on the sill of shade, 
And hold to the low lintel up 
The still-defended challenge-cup. 

And round that early-laurelled head 
Will flock to gaze the strengthless dead, 
And find unwithered on its curls 
The garland briefer than a girl's. 



58 POETRY OUT LOUD 



JULIA WARD HOWE 



Battle-Hymn of the Republic 

Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord: 
He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored; 
He hath loosed the fatal lightning of his terrible swift sword: 
His truth is marching on. 

I have seen Him in the watch-fires of a hundred circling camps; 
They have builded Him an altar in the evening dews and damps; 
I can read His righteous sentence by the dim and flaring lamps. 
His Day is marching on. 

I have read a fiery gospel, writ in burnished rows of steel: 
"As ye deal with my contemners, so with you my grace shall deal; 
Let the Hero, born of woman, crush the serpent with his heel, 
Since God is marching on." 

He has sounded forth the trumpet that shall never call retreat; 
He is sifting out the hearts of men before his judgment-seat: 
Oh! be swift, my soul, to answer Him! be jubilant, my feet! 
Our God is marching on. 

In the beauty of the lilies Christ was born across the sea, 
With a glory in his bosom that transfigures you and me: 
As he died to make men holy, let us die to make men free, 
While God is marching on. 



NATIONAL RECITATION CONTEST 59 



MARY HOWITT 



The Spider and the Fly 

"Will you walk into my parlour?" said the Spider to the Fly, 

'Tis the prettiest little parlour that ever you did spy; 

The way into my parlour is up a winding stair, 

And I've a many curious things to shew when you are there." 

"Oh no, no," said the little Fly, "to ask me is in vain, 

For who goes up your winding stair can ne'er come down again." 

"I'm sure you must be weary, dear, with soaring up so high; 

Will you rest upon my little bed?" said the Spider to the Fly. 

"There are pretty curtains drawn around; the sheets are fine and thin, 

And if you like to rest awhile, I'll snugly tuck you in!" 

"Oh no, no," said the little Fly, "for I've often heard it said, 

They never, never wake again, who sleep upon your bed!" 

Said the cunning Spider to the Fly, "Dear friend what can I do, 

To prove the warm affection I've always felt for you? 

I have within my pantry, good store of all that's nice; 

I'm sure you're very welcome — will you please to take a slice?" 

"Oh no, no," said the little Fly, "kind Sir, that cannot be, 

I've heard what's in your pantry, and I do not wish to see!" 

"Sweet creature!" said the Spider, "you're witty and you're wise, 
How handsome are your gauzy wings, how brilliant are your eyes! 
I've a little looking-glass upon my parlour shelf, 
If you'll step in one moment, dear, you shall behold yourself." 
"I thank you, gentle Sir," she said, "for what you're pleased to say, 
And bidding you good morning now, I'll call another day." 

The Spider turned him round about, and went into his den, 
For well he knew the silly Fly would soon come back again: 
So he wove a subtle web, in a little corner sly, 
And set his table ready, to dine upon the Fly. 



60 POETRY OUT LOUD 



Then he came out to his door again, and merrily did sing, 
"Come hither, hither, pretty Fly, with the pearl and silver wing; 
Your robes are green and purple — there's a crest upon your head; 
Your eyes are like the diamond bright, but mine are dull as lead!" 

Alas, alas! how very soon this silly little Fly, 
Hearing his wily, flattering words, came slowly flitting by; 
With buzzing wings she hung aloft, then near and nearer drew, 
Thinking only of her brilliant eyes, and green and purple hue — 
Thinking only of her crested head — poor foolish thing! At last, 
Up jumped the cunning Spider, and fiercely held her fast. 
He dragged her up his winding stair, into his dismal den, 
Within his little parlour — but she ne'er came out again! 

And now dear little children, who may this story read, 
To idle, silly flattering words, I pray you ne'er give heed: 
Unto an evil counsellor, close heart and ear and eye, 
And take a lesson from this tale, of the Spider and the Fly. 



NATIONAL RECITATION CONTEST 61 



LANGSTON HUGHES 

Harlem 

What happens to a dream deferred? 

Does it dry up 

like a raisin in the sun? 

Or fester like a sore — 

And then run? 

Does it stink like rotten meat? 

Or crust and sugar over — 

like a syrupy sweet? 

Maybe it just sags 
like a heavy load. 

Or does it explode? 



62 POETRY OUT LOUD 



JAMES WELDON JOHNSON 



Lift Ev'ry Voice and Sing 

Lift ev'ry voice and sing, 

Till earth and heaven ring, 

Ring with the harmonies of Liberty; 

Let our rejoicing rise 

High as the list'ning skies, 

Let it resound loud as the rolling sea. 

Sing a song full of the faith that the dark past has taught us, 

Sing a song full of the hope that the present has brought us; 

Facing the rising sun of our new day begun, 

Let us march on till victory is won. 

Stony the road we trod, 

Bitter the chast'ning rod, 

Felt in the days when hope unborn had died; 

Yet with a steady beat, 

Have not our weary feet 

Come to the place for which our fathers sighed? 

We have come over a way that with tears has been watered, 

We have come, treading our path through the blood of the slaughtered, 

Out from the gloomy past, 

Till now we stand at last 

Where the white gleam of our bright star is cast. 

God of our weary years, 

God of our silent tears, 

Thou who has brought us thus far on the way; 

Thou who has by Thy might, 

Led us into the light, 

Keep us forever in the path, we pray. 

Lest our feet stray from the places, our God, where we met Thee, 

Lest our hearts, drunk with the wine of the world, we forget Thee; 

Shadowed beneath Thy hand, 

May we forever stand, 

True to our God, 

True to our native land. 



NATIONAL RECITATION CONTEST 63 



BEN JONSON 



Song to Celia 

Drink to me only with thine eyes, 

And I will pledge with mine; 
Or leave a kiss but in the cup, 

And I'll not ask for wine. 
The thirst that from the soul doth rise 

Doth ask a drink divine; 
But might I ofjove's nectar sup, 

I would not change for thine. 

I sent thee late a rosy wreath, 

Not so much honouring thee 
As giving it a hope that there 

It could not withered be; 
But thou thereon didst only breathe, 

And sent'st it back to me; 
Since when it grows, and smells, I swear, 

Not of itself but thee. 



64 POETRY OUT LOUD 



JOHN KEATS 



When I Have Fears That I May Cease to Be 

When I have fears that I may cease to be 

Before my pen has gleaned my teeming brain, 
Before high-piled books, in charactery, 

Hold like rich garners the full ripened grain; 
When I behold, upon the night's starred face, 

Huge cloudy symbols of a high romance, 
And think that I may never live to trace 

Their shadows with the magic hand of chance; 
And when I feel, fair creature of an hour, 

That I shall never look upon thee more, 
Never have relish in the fairy power 

Of unreflecting love — then on the shore 
Of the wide world I stand alone, and think 
Till love and fame to nothingness do sink. 



NATIONAL RECITATION CONTEST 65 



La Belle Dame sans Merci: A Ballad 

Ah, what can ail thee, knight-at-arms, 
Alone and palely loitering? 

The sedge has withered from the lake, 
And no birds sing. 

what can ail thee, knight-at-arms, 
So haggard and so woe-begone? 

The squirrel's granary is full, 
And the harvest's done. 

1 see a lily on thy brow, 

With anguish moist and fever-dew, 
And on thy cheeks a fading rose 
Fast withereth too. 

I met a lady in the meads 
Full beautiful, a fairy's child; 

Her hair was long, her foot was light, 
And her eyes were wild. 

I made a garland for her head, 
And bracelets too, and fragrant zone; 

She looked at me as she did love, 
And made sweet moan. 

I set her on my pacing steed, 

And nothing else saw all day long, 

For sidelong would she bend, and sing 
A fairy's song. 

She found me roots of relish sweet, 
And honey wild, and manna-dew; 

And sure in language strange she said — 
'I love thee true.' 



66 POETRY OUT LOUD 



She took me to her elfin grot, 

And there she wept and sighed full sore, 
And there I shut her wild wild eyes 

With kisses four. 

And there she lulled me asleep, 

And there I dreamed — Ah! woe betide! 

The latest dream I ever dreamt 
On the cold hill's side. 

I saw pale kings and princes too, 

Pale warriors, death-pale were they all; 

They cried — 'La Belle Dame sans Merci 
Hath thee in thrall!' 

I saw their starved lips in the gloam 
With horrid warning gaped wide, 

And I awoke and found me here 
On the cold hill's side. 

And this is why I sojourn here, 

Alone and palely loitering, 
Though the sedge is withered from the lake, 

And no birds sing. 



NATIONAL RECITATION CONTEST 67 



JOYCE KILMER 

Trees 

For Mrs. Henry Mills Alden 

I think that I shall never see 
A poem lovely as a tree. 

A tree whose hungry mouth is prest 
Against the earth's sweet flowing breast; 

A tree that looks at God all day, 
And lifts her leafy arms to pray; 

A tree that may in Summer wear 
A nest of robins in her hair; 

Upon whose bosom snow has lain; 
Who intimately lives with rain. 

Poems are made by fools like me, 
But only God can make a tree. 



68 POETRY OUT LOUD 



YUSEF KOMUNYAKAA 

Kindness 

For Carol Rigolot 

I acknowledge my status as a stranger: 

When deeds splay before us 
precious as gold & unused chances 
stripped from the whine-bone, 
we know the moment kindheartedness 
walks in. Each praise be 
echoes us back as the years uncount 
themselves, eating salt. Though blood 
first shaped us on the climbing wheel, 
the human mind lit by the savanna's 
ice star & thistle rose, 
your knowing gaze enters a room 
& opens the day, 
saying we were made for fun. 
Even the bedazzled brute knows 
when sunlight falls through leaves 
across honed knives on the table. 
If we can see it push shadows 
aside, growing closer, are we less 
broken? A barometer, temperature 
gauge, a ruler in minus fractions 
& pedigrees, a thingmajig, 
a probe with an all-seeing eye, 
what do we need to measure 
kindness, every unheld breath, 
every unkind leapyear? 
Sometimes a sober voice is enough 
to calm the waters & drive away 
the false witnesses, saying, Look, 
here are the broken treaties Beauty 
brought to us earthbound sentinels. 



NATIONAL RECITATION CONTEST 69 



EMMA LAZARUS 



The New Colossus 



Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame, 

With conquering limbs astride from land to land; 

Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand 

A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame 

Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name 

Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand 

Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command 

The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame. 

"Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she 

With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor, 

Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, 

The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. 

Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, 

I lift my lamp beside the golden door!" 



70 POETRY OUT LOUD 



EDWARD LEAR 



The Owl and the Pussy-Cat 



The Owl and the Pussy-Cat went to sea 

In a beautiful pea-green boat, 
They took some honey, and plenty of money, 

Wrapped up in a five-pound note. 
The Owl looked up to the stars above, 

And sang to a small guitar, 
'O lovely Pussy, O Pussy, my love, 

What a beautiful Pussy you are, 
You are, 
You are! 
What a beautiful Pussy you are!' 



ii 



Pussy said to the Owl, 'You elegant fowl! 

How charmingly sweet you sing! 
O let us be married! too long we have tarried: 

But what shall we do for a ring?' 
They sailed away, for a year and a day, 

To the land where the Bong-tree grows 
And there in a wood a Piggy- wig stood, 

With a ring at the end of his nose, 
His nose, 
His nose, 
With a ring at the end of his nose. 



in 



'Dear Pig, are you willing to sell for one shilling 
Your ring?' Said the Piggy, 'I will.' 

So they took it away, and were married next day 
By the Turkey who lives on the hill. 



NATIONAL RECITATION CONTEST 71 



They dined on mince, and slices of quince, 

Which they ate with a runcible spoon; 
And hand in hand, on the edge of the sand, 
They danced by the light of the moon, 
The moon, 
The moon, 
They danced by the light of the moon. 



72 POETRY OUT LOUD 



LI-YOUNG LEE 



The Gift 

To pull the metal splinter from my palm 
my father recited a story in a low voice. 
I watched his lovely face and not the blade. 
Before the story ended, he'd removed 
the iron sliver I thought I'd die from. 

I can't remember the tale, 
but hear his voice still, a well 
of dark water, a prayer. 
And I recall his hands, 
two measures of tenderness 
he laid against my face, 
the flames of discipline 
he raised above my head. 

Had you entered that afternoon 

you would have thought you saw a man 

planting something in a boy's palm, 

a silver tear, a tiny flame. 

Had you followed that boy 

you would have arrived here, 

where I bend over my wife's right hand. 

Look how I shave her thumbnail down 

so carefully she feels no pain. 

Watch as I lift the splinter out. 

I was seven when my father 

took my hand like this, 

and I did not hold that shard 

between my fingers and think, 

Metal that will bury me, 

christen it Little Assassin, 

Ore Going Deep for My Heart. 



NATIONAL RECITATION CONTEST 73 



And I did not lift up my wound and cry, 

Death visited here! 

I did what a child does 

when he's given something to keep. 

I kissed my father. 



74 POETRY OUT LOUD 



SHIRLEY GEOK-LIN LIM 



Learning to Love America 

because it has no pure products 

because the Pacific Ocean sweeps along the coastline 
because the water of the ocean is cold 
and because land is better than ocean 

because I say we rather than they 

because I live in California 

I have eaten fresh artichokes 

and jacaranda bloom in April and May 

because my senses have caught up with my body 
my breath with the air it swallows 
my hunger with my mouth 

because I walk barefoot in my house 

because I have nursed my son at my breast 

because he is a strong American boy 

because I have seen his eyes redden when he is asked who he is 

because he answers I don't know 

because to have a son is to have a country 

because my son will bury me here 

because countries are in our blood and we bleed them 

because it is late and too late to change my mind 
because it is time. 



NATIONAL RECITATION CONTEST 75 



VACHEL LINDSAY 



General William Booth Enters Into Heaven 

[bass drum beaten loudly] 

Booth led boldly with his big bass drum — 

(Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?) 

The Saints smiled gravely and they said: "He's come." 

(Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?) 

Walking lepers followed, rank on rank, 

Lurching bravoes from the ditches dank, 

Drabs from the alleyways and drug fiends pale — 

Minds still passion-ridden, soul-powers frail: — 

Vermin-eaten saints with mouldy breath, 

Unwashed legions with the ways of Death — 

(Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?) 

[banjos] 

Every slum had sent its half-a-score 

The round world over. (Booth had groaned for more.) 

Every banner that the wide world flies 

Bloomed with glory and transcendent dyes. 

Big- voiced lasses made their banjos bang, 

Tranced, fanatical they shrieked and sang: — 

"Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?" 

Hallelujah! It was queer to see 

Bull-necked convicts with that land make free. 

Loons with trumpets blowed a blare, blare, blare 

On, on upward thro' the golden air! 

(Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?) 

[bass drum slower and softer] 
Booth died blind and still by Faith he trod, 
Eyes still dazzled by the ways of God. 
Booth led boldly, and he looked the chief 
Eagle countenance in sharp relief, 
Beard a-flying, air of high command 
Unabated in that holy land. 



76 POETRY OUT LOUD 



[sweet flute music] 

Jesus came from out the court-house door, 
Stretched his hands above the passing poor. 
Booth saw not, but led his queer ones there 
Round and round the mighty court-house square. 
Yet in an instant all that blear review 
Marched on spotless, clad in raiment new. 
The lame were straightened, withered limbs uncurled 
And blind eyes opened on a new, sweet world. 

[bass drum louder] 
Drabs and vixens in a flash made whole! 
Gone was the weasel-head, the snout, the jowl! 
Sages and sibyls now, and athletes clean, 
Rulers of empires, and of forests green! 

[grand chorus of all instruments. 

tambourines to the foreground] 

The hosts were sandalled, and their wings were fire! 

(Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?) 

But their noise played havoc with the angel-choir. 

(Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?) 

O shout Salvation! It was good to see 

Kings and Princes by the Lamb set free. 

The banjos rattled and the tambourines 

Jing-jing-jingled in the hands of Queens. 

[reverently sung, no instruments] 

And when Booth halted by the curb for prayer 

He saw his Master thro' the flag-filled air. 

Christ came gently with a robe and crown 

For Booth the soldier, while the throng knelt down. 

He saw Kingjesus. They were face to face, 

And he knelt a-weeping in that holy place. 

Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb? 



NATIONAL RECITATION CONTEST 77 



HENRY WADSWORTH LONGFELLOW 



A Psalm of Life 

What the Heart of the Young Man 
Said to the Psalmist 

Tell me not, in mournful numbers, 

Life is but an empty dream! 
For the soul is dead that slumbers, 

And things are not what they seem. 

Life is real! Life is earnest! 

And the grave is not its goal; 
Dust thou art, to dust returnest, 

Was not spoken of the soul. 

Not enjoyment, and not sorrow, 

Is our destined end or way; 
But to act, that each to-morrow 

Find us farther than to-day. 

Art is long, and Time is fleeting, 

And our hearts, though stout and brave, 

Still, like muffled drums, are beating 
Funeral marches to the grave. 

In the world's broad field of battle, 

In the bivouac of Life, 
Be not like dumb, driven cattle! 

Be a hero in the strife! 

Trust no Future, howe'er pleasant! 

Let the dead Past bury its dead! 
Act, — act in the living Present! 

Heart within, and God o'erhead! 



78 POETRY OUT LOUD 



Lives of great men all remind us 
We can make our lives sublime, 

And, departing, leave behind us 
Footprints on the sands of time; 

Footprints, that perhaps another, 
Sailing o'er life's solemn main, 

A forlorn and shipwrecked brother, 
Seeing, shall take heart again. 

Let us, then, be up and doing, 
With a heart for any fate; 

Still achieving, still pursuing, 
Learn to labor and to wait. 



NATIONAL RECITATION CONTEST 79 



RICHARD LOVELACE 



To Althea, from Prison 

When Love with unconfined wings 

Hovers within my Gates, 
And my divine Althea brings 

To whisper at the Grates; 
When I lie tangled in her hair, 

And fettered to her eye, 
The Gods that wanton in the Air, 

Know no such Liberty. 

When flowing Cups run swiftly round 

With no allaying Thames, 
Our careless heads with Roses bound, 

Our hearts with Loyal Flames; 
When thirsty grief in Wine we steep, 

When Healths and draughts go free, 
Fishes that tipple in the Deep 

Know no such Liberty. 

When (like committed linnets) I 

With shriller throat shall sing 
The sweetness, Mercy, Majesty, 

And glories of my King; 
When I shall voice aloud how good 

He is, how Great should be, 
Enlarged Winds, that curl the Flood, 

Know no such Liberty. 

Stone Walls do not a Prison make, 

Nor Iron bars a Cage; 
Minds innocent and quiet take 

That for an Hermitage. 
If I have freedom in my Love, 

And in my soul am free, 
Angels alone that soar above, 

Enjoy such Liberty. 



80 POETRY OUT LOUD 



CHRISTOPHER MARLOWE 



The Passionate Shepherd to His Love 

Come live with me and be my love, 
And we will all the pleasures prove, 
That Valleys, groves, hills, and fields, 
Woods, or steepy mountain yields. 

And we will sit upon the Rocks, 
Seeing the Shepherds feed their flocks, 
By shallow Rivers to whose falls 
Melodious birds sing Madrigals. 

And I will make thee beds of Roses 
And a thousand fragrant posies, 
A cap of flowers, and a kirtle 
Embroidered all with leaves of Myrtle; 

A gown made of the finest wool 
Which from our pretty Lambs we pull; 
Fair lined slippers for the cold, 
With buckles of the purest gold; 

A belt of straw and Ivy buds, 
With Coral clasps and Amber studs: 
And if these pleasures may thee move, 
Come live with me, and be my love. 

The Shepherds' Swains shall dance and sing 
For thy delight each May-morning: 
If these delights thy mind may move, 
Then live with me, and be my love. 



NATIONAL RECITATION CONTEST 81 



ANDREW MARVELL 



To His Coy Mistress 

Had we but world enough and time, 
This coyness, lady, were no crime. 
We would sit down, and think which way 
To walk, and pass our long love's day. 
Thou by the Indian Ganges' side 
Shouldst rubies find; I by the tide 
Of Humber would complain. I would 
Love you ten years before the flood, 
And you should, if you please, refuse 
Till the conversion of the Jews. 
My vegetable love should grow 
Vaster than empires and more slow; 
An hundred years should go to praise 
Thine eyes, and on thy forehead gaze; 
Two hundred to adore each breast, 
But thirty thousand to the rest; 
An age at least to every part, 
And the last age should show your heart. 
For, lady, you deserve this state, 
Nor would I love at lower rate. 

But at my back I always hear 
Time's winged chariot hurrying near; 
And yonder all before us lie 
Deserts of vast eternity. 
Thy beauty shall no more be found; 
Nor, in thy marble vault, shall sound 
My echoing song; then worms shall try 
That long-preserved virginity, 
And your quaint honour turn to dust, 
And into ashes all my lust; 
The grave's a fine and private place, 
But none, I think, do there embrace. 



82 POETRY OUT LOUD 



Now therefore, while the youthful hue 
Sits on thy skin like morning dew, 
And while thy willing soul transpires 
At every pore with instant fires, 
Now let us sport us while we may, 
And now, like amorous birds of prey, 
Rather at once our time devour 
Than languish in his slow-chapped power. 
Let us roll all our strength and all 
Our sweetness up into one ball, 
And tear our pleasures with rough strife 
Thorough the iron gates of life: 
Thus, though we cannot make our sun 
Stand still, yet we will make him run. 



NATIONAL RECITATION CONTEST 83 



DAVID MASON 



Song of the Powers 

Mine, said the stone, 
mine is the hour. 
I crush the scissors, 
such is my power. 
Stronger than wishes, 
my power, alone. 

Mine, said the paper, 
mine are the words 
that smother the stone 
with imagined birds, 
reams of them, flown 
from the mind of the shaper. 

Mine, said the scissors, 
mine all the knives 
gashing through paper's 
ethereal lives; 
nothing's so proper 
as tattering wishes. 

As stone crushes scissors, 
as paper snuffs stone 
and scissors cut paper, 
all end alone. 
So heap up your paper 
and scissor your wishes 
and uproot the stone 
from the top of the hill. 
They all end alone 
as you will, you will. 



84 POETRY OUT LOUD 



EDGAR LEE MASTERS 



Mrs. Kessler 



Mr. Kessler, you know, was in the army, 

And he drew six dollars a month as a pension, 

And stood on the corner talking politics, 

Or sat at home reading Grant's Memoirs; 

And I supported the family by washing, 

Learning the secrets of all the people 

From their curtains, counterpanes, shirts and skirts. 

For things that are new grow old at length, 

They're replaced with better or none at all: 

People are prospering or falling back. 

And rents and patches widen with time; 

No thread or needle can pace decay, 

And there are stains that baffle soap, 

And there are colors that run in spite of you, 

Blamed though you are for spoiling a dress. 

Handkerchiefs, napery, have their secrets — 

The laundress, Life, knows all about it. 

And I, who went to all the funerals 

Held in Spoon River, swear I never 

Saw a dead face without thinking it looked 

Like something washed and ironed. 



NATIONAL RECITATION CONTEST 85 



CLAUDE MCKAY 



Romance 

To clasp you now and feel your head close-pressed, 
Scented and warm against my beating breast; 

To whisper soft and quivering your name, 
And drink the passion burning in your frame; 

To lie at full length, taut, with cheek to cheek, 
And tease your mouth with kisses till you speak 

Love words, mad words, dream words, sweet senseless words, 
Melodious like notes of mating birds; 

To hear you ask if I shall love always, 
And myself answer: Till the end of days; 

To feel your easeful sigh of happiness 
When on your trembling lips I murmur: Yes; 

It is so sweet. We know it is not true. 

What matters it? The night must shed her dew. 

We know it is not true, but it is sweet — 
The poem with this music is complete. 



86 POETRY OUT LOUD 



HERMAN MELVILLE 



The Maldive Shark 

About the Shark, phlegmatical one, 
Pale sot of the Maldive sea, 
The sleek little pilot-fish, azure and slim, 
How alert in attendance be. 

From his saw-pit of mouth, from his charnel of maw 
They have nothing of harm to dread, 
But liquidly glide on his ghastly flank 
Or before his Gorgonian head; 
Or lurk in the port of serrated teeth 
In white triple tiers of glittering gates, 
And there find a haven when peril's abroad, 
An asylum in jaws of the Fates! 

They are friends; and friendly they guide him to prey, 
Yet never partake of the treat — 
Eyes and brains to the dotard lethargic and dull, 
Pale ravener of horrible meat. 



NATIONAL RECITATION CONTEST 87 



EDNA ST. VINCENT MILLAY 



/ think I should have loved you presently 

I think I should have loved you presently, 

And given in earnest words I flung in jest; 

And lifted honest eyes for you to see, 

And caught your hand against my cheek and breast; 

And all my pretty follies flung aside 

That won you to me, and beneath your gaze, 

Naked of reticence and shorn of pride, 

Spread like a chart my little wicked ways. 

I, that had been to you, had you remained, 

But one more waking from a recurrent dream, 

Cherish no less the certain stakes I gained, 

And walk your memory's halls, austere, supreme, 

A ghost in marble of a girl you knew 

Who would have loved you in a day or two. 



88 POETRY OUT LOUD 



What lips my lips have kissed, and where, and why 

What lips my lips have kissed, and where, and why, 

I have forgotten, and what arms have lain 

Under my head till morning; but the rain 

Is full of ghosts tonight, that tap and sigh 

Upon the glass and listen for reply, 

And in my heart there stirs a quiet pain 

For unremembered lads that not again 

Will turn to me at midnight with a cry. 

Thus in the winter stands the lonely tree, 

Nor knows what birds have vanished one by one, 

Yet knows its boughs more silent than before: 

I cannot say what loves have come and gone, 

I only know that summer sang in me 

A little while, that in me sings no more. 



NATIONAL RECITATION CONTEST 89 



JOHN MILTON 



When I consider how my light is spent 

When I consider how my light is spent, 

Ere half my days, in this dark world and wide, 
And that one Talent which is death to hide 
Lodged with me useless, though my Soul more bent 

To serve therewith my Maker, and present 
My true account, lest he returning chide; 
"Doth God exact day-labour, light denied?" 
I fondly ask. But patience, to prevent 

That murmur, soon replies, "God doth not need 
Either man's work or his own gifts; who best 
Bear his mild yoke, they serve him best. His state 

Is Kingly. Thousands at his bidding speed 
And post o'er Land and Ocean without rest: 
They also serve who only stand and wait." 



90 POETRY OUT LOUD 



N. SCOTT MOMADAY 



The Delight Song of Tsoai-talee 

I am a feather on the bright sky 

I am the blue horse that runs in the plain 

I am the fish that rolls, shining, in the water 

I am the shadow that follows a child 

I am the evening light, the lustre of meadows 

I am an eagle playing with the wind 

I am a cluster of bright beads 

I am the farthest star 

I am the cold of dawn 

I am the roaring of the rain 

I am the glitter on the crust of the snow 

I am the long track of the moon in a lake 

I am a flame of four colors 

I am a deer standing away in the dusk 

I am a field of sumac and the pomme blanche 

I am an angle of geese in the winter sky 

I am the hunger of a young wolf 

I am the whole dream of these things 

You see, I am alive, I am alive 

I stand in good relation to the earth 

I stand in good relation to the gods 

I stand in good relation to all that is beautiful 

I stand in good relation to the daughter of Tsen-tainte 

You see, I am alive, I am alive 



NATIONAL RECITATION CONTEST 91 



MARIANNE MOORE 



Poetry 

I too, dislike it: there are things that are important beyond 
all this fiddle. 
Reading it, however, with a perfect contempt for it, one discovers 

in 
it after all, a place for the genuine. 
Hands that can grasp, eyes 
that can dilate, hair that can rise 

if it must, these things are important not because a 

high sounding interpretation can be put upon them but 
because they are 
useful; when they become so derivative as to become 

unintelligible, 
the same thing may be said for all of us, that we 
do not admire what 
we cannot understand: the bat 

holding on upside down or in quest of something to 

eat, elephants pushing, a wild horse taking a roll, a tireless wolf under 
a tree, the immovable critic twitching his skin like a horse that 

feels a flea, the base- 
ball fan, the statistician — 
nor is it valid 

to discriminate against "business documents and 

school-books"; all these phenomena are important. One must 
make a distinction 
however: when dragged into prominence by half poets, the result 

is not poetry, 
nor till the poets among us can be 
"literalists of 
the imagination" — above 

insolence and triviality and can present 



92 POETRY OUT LOUD 



for inspection, "imaginary gardens with real toads in them," 
shall we have 
it. In the meantime, if you demand on one hand, 
the raw material of poetry in 
all its rawness and 
that which is on the other hand 
genuine, you are interested in poetry. 



NATIONAL RECITATION CONTEST 93 



MARILYN NELSON 



How I Discovered Poetry 

It was like soul-kissing, the way the words 

filled my mouth as Mrs. Purdy read from her desk. 

All the other kids zoned an hour ahead to 3:15, 

but Mrs. Purdy and I wandered lonely as clouds borne 

by a breeze off Mount Parnassus. She must have seen 

the darkest eyes in the room brim: The next day 

she gave me a poem she'd chosen especially for me 

to read to the all except for me white class. 

She smiled when she told me to read it, smiled harder, 

said oh yes I could. She smiled harder and harder 

until I stood and opened my mouth to banjo playing 

darkies, pickaninnies, disses and dats. When I finished 

my classmates stared at the floor. We walked silent 

to the buses, awed by the power of words. 



94 POETRY OUT LOUD 



YONE NOGUCHI 



The Poet 

Out of the deep and the dark, 

A sparkling mystery, a shape, 

Something perfect, 

Comes like the stir of the day: 

One whose breath is an odor, 

Whose eyes show the road to stars, 

The breeze in his face, 

The glory of heaven on his back. 

He steps like a vision hung in air, 

Diffusing the passion of eternity; 

His abode is the sunlight of morn, 

The music of eve his speech: 

In his sight, 

One shall turn from the dust of the grave, 

And move upward to the woodland. 



NATIONAL RECITATION CONTEST 95 



WILFRED OWEN 



Duke et Decorum Est 

Bent double, like old beggars under sacks, 
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through 

sludge, 
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs 
And towards our distant rest began to trudge. 
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots 
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind; 
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots 
Of gas-shells dropping softly behind. 

Gas! GAS! Quick, boys! — An ecstasy of fumbling, 
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time; 
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling 
And flound'ring like a man in fire or lime . . . 
Dim, through the misty panes and thick green light, 
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning. 

In all my dreams, before my helpless sight, 

He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning. 

If in some smothering dreams you too could pace 
Behind the wagon that we flung him in, 
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face, 
His hanging face, like a devil's sick of sin; 
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood 
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs, 
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud 
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues, — 
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest 
To children ardent for some desperate glory, 
The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est 
Pro patria mori.* 



: From the Roman poet Horace: "It is sweet and fitting to die for one's country." 



96 POETRY OUT LOUD 



DOROTHY PARKER 



One Perfect Rose 

A single flow'r he sent me, since we met. 

All tenderly his messenger he chose; 
Deep-hearted, pure, with scented dew still wet — 

One perfect rose. 

I knew the language of the floweret; 

"My fragile leaves," it said, "his heart enclose." 
Love long has taken for his amulet 

One perfect rose. 

Why is it no one ever sent me yet 

One perfect limousine, do you suppose? 

Ah no, it's always just my luck to get 
One perfect rose. 



NATIONAL RECITATION CONTEST 97 



KATHERINE PHILIPS 



Epitaph 

On her Son H.P. at St. Syth 's Church where her body also lies interred 

What on Earth deserves our trust? 
Youth and Beauty both are dust. 
Long we gathering are with pain, 
What one moment calls again. 
Seven years childless marriage past, 
A Son, a son is born at last: 
So exactly lim'd and fair, 
Full of good Spirits, Meen, and Air, 
As a long life promised, 
Yet, in less than six weeks dead. 
Too promising, too great a mind 
In so small room to be confined: 
Therefore, as fit in Heaven to dwell, 
He quickly broke the Prison shell. 
So the subtle Alchemist, 
Can't with Hermes Seal resist 
The powerful spirit's subtler flight, 
But t'will bid him long good night. 
And so the Sun if it arise 
Half so glorious as his Eyes, 
Like this Infant, takes a shrowd, 
Buried in a morning Cloud. 



98 POETRY OUT LOUD 



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. 

J 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. 



NATIONAL RECITATION CONTEST 99 



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. 



100 POETRY OUT LOUD 



ALEXANDER POPE 



Ode on Solitude 

Happy the man, whose wish and care 

A few paternal acres bound, 
Content to breathe his native air, 

In his own ground. 

Whose herds with milk, whose fields with bread, 

Whose flocks supply him with attire, 
Whose trees in summer yield him shade, 
In winter fire. 

Blest, who can unconcernedly find 

Hours, days, and years slide soft away, 
In health of body, peace of mind, 
Quiet by day, 

Sound sleep by night; study and ease, 
Together mixed; sweet recreation; 
And innocence, which most does please, 
With meditation. 

Thus let me live, unseen, unknown; 

Thus unlamented let me die; 
Steal from the world, and not a stone 
Tell where I lie. 



NATIONAL RECITATION CONTEST 101 



EZRA POUND 



Envoi 

Go, dumb-born book, 

Tell her that sang me once that song of Lawes: 

Hadst thou but song 

As thou hast subjects known, 

Then were there cause in thee that should condone 

Even my faults that heavy upon me lie 

And build her glories their longevity. 

Tell her that sheds 

Such treasure in the air, 

Recking naught else but that her graces give 

Life to the moment, 

I would bid them live 

As roses might, in magic amber laid, 

Red overwrought with orange and all made 

One substance and one colour 

Braving time. 

Tell her that goes 

With song upon her lips 

But sings not out the song, nor knows 

The maker of it, some other mouth, 

May be as fair as hers, 

Might, in new ages, gain her worshippers, 

When our two dusts with Waller's shall be laid, 

Siftings on siftings in oblivion, 

Till change hath broken down 

All things save Beauty alone. 



102 POETRY OUT LOUD 



SIR WALTER RALEGH 



The Nymph 's Reply to the Shepherd 

If all the world and love were young, 
And truth in every Shepherd's tongue, 
These pretty pleasures might me move, 
To live with thee, and be thy love. 

Time drives the flocks from field to fold, 
When Rivers rage and Rocks grow cold, 
And Philomel becometh dumb, 
The rest complains of cares to come. 

The flowers do fade, and wanton fields, 
To wayward winter reckoning yields, 
A honey tongue, a heart of gall, 
Is fancy's spring, but sorrow's fall. 

Thy gowns, thy shoes, thy beds of Roses, 
Thy cap, thy kirtle, and thy posies 
Soon break, soon wither, soon forgotten: 
In folly ripe, in reason rotten. 

Thy belt of straw and Ivy buds, 
The Coral clasps and amber studs, 
All these in me no means can move 
To come to thee and be thy love. 

But could youth last, and love still breed, 
Had joys no date, nor age no need, 
Then these delights my mind might move 
To live with thee, and be thy love. 



NATIONAL RECITATION CONTEST 103 



DUDLEY RANDALL 



Ballad of Birmingham 

(On the bombing of a church in Birmingham, Alabama, 1963) 

"Mother dear, may I go downtown 
Instead of out to play, 
And march the streets of Birmingham 
In a Freedom March today?" 

"No, baby, no, you may not go, 
For the dogs are fierce and wild, 
And clubs and hoses, guns and jails 
Aren't good for a little child." 

"But, mother, I won't be alone. 
Other children will go with me, 
And march the streets of Birmingham 
To make our country free." 

"No, baby, no, you may not go, 
For I fear those guns will fire. 
But you may go to church instead 
And sing in the children's choir." 

She has combed and brushed her night-dark hair, 
And bathed rose petal sweet, 

And drawn white gloves on her small brown hands, 
And white shoes on her feet. 

The mother smiled to know her child 
Was in the sacred place, 
But that smile was the last smile 
To come upon her face. 

For when she heard the explosion, 

Her eyes grew wet and wild. 

She raced through the streets of Birmingham 

Calling for her child. 



I04 POETRY OUT LOUD 



She clawed through bits of glass and brick, 
Then lifted out a shoe. 
"O, here's the shoe my baby wore, 
But, baby, where are you?" 



NATIONAL RECITATION CONTEST 105 



EDWIN ARLINGTON ROBINSON 



Miniver Cheevy 

Miniver Cheevy, child of scorn, 

Grew lean while he assailed the seasons; 

He wept that he was ever born, 
And he had reasons. 

Miniver loved the days of old 

When swords were bright and steeds were prancing; 
The vision of a warrior bold 

Would set him dancing. 

Miniver sighed for what was not, 

And dreamed, and rested from his labors; 

He dreamed of Thebes and Camelot, 
And Priam's neighbors. 

Miniver mourned the ripe renown 

That made so many a name so fragrant; 

He mourned Romance, now on the town, 
And Art, a vagrant. 

Miniver loved the Medici, 

Albeit he had never seen one; 
He would have sinned incessantly 

Could he have been one. 

Miniver cursed the commonplace 

And eyed a khaki suit with loathing; 
He missed the mediaeval grace 

Of iron clothing. 



106 POETRY OUT LOUD 



Miniver scorned the gold he sought, 
But sore annoyed was he without it; 

Miniver thought, and thought, and thought, 
And thought about it. 

Miniver Cheevy, born too late, 

Scratched his head and kept on thinking; 
Miniver coughed, and called it fate, 

And kept on drinking. 



NATIONAL RECITATION CONTEST 107 



CHRISTINA ROSSETTI 



Up-Hill 

Does the road wind up-hill all the way? 

Yes, to the very end. 
Will the day's journey take the whole long day? 

From morn to night, my friend. 

But is there for the night a resting-place? 

A roof for when the slow dark hours begin. 
May not the darkness hide it from my face? 

You cannot miss that inn. 

Shall I meet other wayfarers at night? 

Those who have gone before. 
Then must I knock, or call when just in sight? 

They will not keep you standing at that door. 

Shall I find comfort, travel-sore and weak? 

Of labour you shall find the sum. 
Will there be beds for me and all who seek? 

Yea, beds for all who come. 



108 POETRY OUT LOUD 



BENJAMIN ALIRE SAENZ 



To the Desert 

I came to you one rainless August night. 
You taught me how to live without the rain. 
You are thirst and thirst is all I know. 
You are sand, wind, sun, and burning sky, 
The hottest blue. You blow a breeze and brand 
Your breath into my mouth. You reach — then bend 
Your force, to break, blow, burn, and make me new. 
You wrap your name tight around my ribs 
And keep me warm. I was born for you. 
Above, below, by you, by you surrounded. 
I wake to you at dawn. Never break your 
Knot. Reach, rise, blow, Sdlvame, mi dios, 
Trdgame, mi tierra. Salva, traga, Break me, 
I am bread. I will be the water for your thirst. 



NATIONAL RECITATION CONTEST 109 



CARL SANDBURG 



Chicago 

Hog Butcher for the World, 

Tool Maker, Stacker of Wheat, 

Player with Railroads and the Nation's Freight Handler; 

Stormy, husky, brawling, 

City of the Big Shoulders: 

They tell me you are wicked and I believe them, for I 
have seen your painted women under the gas lamps 
luring the farm boys. 
And they tell me you are crooked and I answer: Yes, it 
is true I have seen the gunman kill and go free to 
kill again. 
And they tell me you are brutal and my reply is: On the 
faces of women and children I have seen the marks 
of wanton hunger. 
And having answered so I turn once more to those who 
sneer at this my city, and I give them back the sneer 
and say to them: 
Come and show me another city with lifted head singing 

so proud to be alive and coarse and strong and cunning. 
Flinging magnetic curses amid the toil of piling job on 
job, here is a tall bold slugger set vivid against the 
little soft cities; 
Fierce as a dog with tongue lapping for action, cunning 
as a savage pitted against the wilderness, 
Bareheaded, 
Shoveling, 
Wrecking, 
Planning, 

Building, breaking, rebuilding, 
Under the smoke, dust all over his mouth, laughing with 
white teeth, 



MO POETRY OUT LOUD 



Under the terrible burden of destiny laughing as a young 
man laughs, 

Laughing even as an ignorant fighter laughs who has 
never lost a battle, 

Bragging and laughing that under his wrist is the pulse, 
and under his ribs the heart of the people, 
Laughing! 

Laughing the stormy, husky, brawling laughter of 
Youth, half-naked, sweating, proud to be Hog 
Butcher, Tool Maker, Stacker of Wheat, Player with 
Railroads and Freight Handler to the Nation. 



NATIONAL RECITATION CONTEST III 



WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE 



When, in disgrace with fortune and men's eyes (29) 

When, in disgrace with fortune and men's eyes, 
I all alone beweep my outcast state, 
And trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries, 
And look upon myself and curse my fate, 
Wishing me like to one more rich in hope, 
Featured like him, like him with friends possessed, 
Desiring this man's art and that man's scope, 
With what I most enjoy contented least; 
Yet in these thoughts myself almost despising, 
Haply I think on thee, and then my state, 
(Like to the lark at break of day arising 
From sullen earth) sings hymns at heaven's gate; 
For thy sweet love remembered such wealth brings 
That then I scorn to change my state with kings. 



112 POETRY OUT LOUD 



Not marble, nor the gilded monuments (55) 

Not marble, nor the gilded monuments 
Of princes, shall outlive this powerful rhyme 
But you shall shine more bright in these contents 
Than unswept stone, besmeared with sluttish time. 
When wasteful war shall statues overturn, 
And broils root out the work of masonry, 
Nor Mars his sword nor war's quick fire shall burn 
The living record of your memory. 
'Gainst death and all-oblivious enmity 
Shall you pace forth; your praise shall still find room 
Even in the eyes of all posterity 
That wear this world out to the ending doom. 
So, till the Judgement that yourself arise, 
You live in this, and dwell in lovers' eyes. 



NATIONAL RECITATION CONTEST 113 



PERCY BYSSHE SHELLEY 



Ozymandias 

I met a traveller from an antique land, 
Who said: "Two vast and trunkless legs of stone 
Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand, 
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown, 
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command, 
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read 
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things, 
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed; 
And on the pedestal these words appear: 
"My name is Ozymandias, king of kings; 
Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!" 
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay 
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare 
The lone and level sands stretch far away. 



114 POETRY OUT LOUD 



CHARLOTTE SMITH 



Oh, Hope! thou soother sweet of human woes 

Oh, Hope! thou soother sweet of human woes! 

How shall I lure thee to my haunts forlorn! 
For me wilt thou renew the withered rose, 

And clear my painful path of pointed thorn? 
Ah come, sweet nymph! in smiles and softness drest, 

Like the young hours that lead the tender year 
Enchantress come! and charm my cares to rest: 

Alas! the flatterer flies, and will not hear! 
A prey to fear, anxiety, and pain, 

Must I a sad existence still deplore? 
Lo! the flowers fade, but all the thorns remain, 

'For me the vernal garland blooms no more.' 
Come then, 'pale Misery's love!' be thou my cure, 
And I will bless thee, who though slow art sure. 



NATIONAL RECITATION CONTEST 115 



WALLACE STEVENS 



Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird 



Among twenty snowy mountains, 
The only moving thing 
Was the eye of the blackbird. 



ii 



I was of three minds, 

Like a tree 

In which there are three blackbirds. 



in 



The blackbird whirled in the autumn winds. 
It was a small part of the pantomime. 



IV 



A man and a woman 

Are one. 

A man and a woman and a blackbird 

Are one. 



I do not know which to prefer, 
The beauty of inflections 
Or the beauty of innuendoes, 
The blackbird whistling 
Or just after. 



116 POETRY OUT LOUD 



VI 

Icicles filled the long window 

With barbaric glass. 

The shadow of the blackbird 

Crossed it, to and fro. 

The mood 

Traced in the shadow 

An indecipherable cause. 

VII 

thin men of Haddam, 

Why do you imagine golden birds? 
Do you not see how the blackbird 
Walks around the feet 
Of the women about you? 

VIII 

1 know noble accents 

And lucid, inescapable rhythms; 
But I know, too, 
That the blackbird is involved 
In what I know. 



IX 



When the blackbird flew out of sight, 
It marked the edge 
Of one of many circles. 



NATIONAL RECITATION CONTEST 117 



At the sight of blackbirds 
Flying in a green light, 
Even the bawds of euphony 
Would cry out sharply. 

XI 

He rode over Connecticut 

In a glass coach. 

Once, a fear pierced him, 

In that he mistook 

The shadow of his equipage 

For blackbirds. 

XII 

The river is moving. 

The blackbird must be flying. 

XIII 

It was evening all afternoon. 

It was snowing 

And it was going to snow. 

The blackbird sat 

In the cedar-limbs. 



118 POETRY OUT LOUD 



JONATHAN SWIFT 



A Satirical Elegy on the Death of a Late Famous General 

His Grace! impossible! what dead! 

Of old age too, and in his bed! 

And could that mighty warrior fall? 

And so inglorious, after all! 

Well, since he's gone, no matter how, 

The last loud trump must wake him now: 

And, trust me, as the noise grows stronger, 

He'd wish to sleep a little longer. 

And could he be indeed so old 

As by the newspapers we're told? 

Threescore, I think, is pretty high; 

'Twas time in conscience he should die 

This world he cumbered long enough; 

He burnt his candle to the snuff; 

And that's the reason, some folks think, 

He left behind so great a stink. 

Behold his funeral appears, 

Nor widow's sighs, nor orphan's tears, 

Wont at such times each heart to pierce, 

Attend the progress of his hearse. 

But what of that, his friends may say, 

He had those honours in his day. 

True to his profit and his pride, 

He made them weep before he died. 

Come hither, all ye empty things, 
Ye bubbles raised by breath of kings; 
Who float upon the tide of state, 
Come hither, and behold your fate. 
Let pride be taught by this rebuke, 
How very mean a thing's a Duke; 
From all his ill-got honours flung, 
Turned to that dirt from whence he sprung. 



NATIONAL RECITATION CONTEST 119 



RABINDRANATH TAGORE 



Gitanjali 35 

Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high; 
Where knowledge is free; 
Where the world has not been broken up into fragments by 

narrow domestic walls; 
Where words come out from the depth of truth; 
Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection; 
Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way into the 

dreary desert sand of dead habit; 
Where the mind is led forward by thee into ever-widening 

thought and action — 
Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake. 



120 POETRY OUT LOUD 



SARA TEASDALE 



Let It Be Forgotten 

Let it be forgotten, as a flower is forgotten, 
Forgotten as a fire that once was singing gold, 

Let it be forgotten for ever and ever, 

Time is a kind friend, he will make us old. 

If anyone asks, say it was forgotten 

Long and long ago, 
As a flower, as a fire, as a hushed footfall 

In a long forgotten snow. 



NATIONAL RECITATION CONTEST 121 



ALFRED, LORD TENNYSON 



The Charge of the Light Brigade 



Haifa league, half a league, 
Haifa league onward, 
All in the valley of Death 

Rode the six hundred. 
"Forward, the Light Brigade! 
Charge for the guns!" he said. 
Into the valley of Death 

Rode the six hundred. 



ii 



"Forward, the Light Brigade!" 
Was there a man dismayed? 
Not though the soldier knew 
Someone had blundered. 
Theirs not to make reply, 
Theirs not to reason why, 
Theirs but to do and die. 
Into the valley of Death 
Rode the six hundred. 



in 



Cannon to right of them, 
Cannon to left of them, 
Cannon in front of them 

Volleyed and thundered; 
Stormed at with shot and shell, 
Boldly they rode and well, 
Into the jaws of Death, 
Into the mouth of hell 

Rode the six hundred. 



122 POETRY OUT LOUD 



IV 



Flashed all their sabres bare, 
Flashed as they turned in air 
Sab 'ring the gunners there, 
Charging an army, while 

All the world wondered. 
Plunged in the battery-smoke 
Right thro' the line they broke; 
Cossack and Russian 
Reeled from the sabre stroke 

Shattered and sundered. 
Then they rode back, but not 

Not the six hundred. 



v 



Cannon to right of them, 
Cannon to left of them, 
Cannon behind them 

Volleyed and thundered; 
Stormed at with shot and shell, 
While horse and hero fell. 
They that had fought so well 
Came through the jaws of Death, 
Back from the mouth of hell, 
All that was left of them, 

Left of six hundred. 



VI 



When can their glory fade? 
O the wild charge they made! 

All the world wondered. 
Honour the charge they made! 
Honour the Light Brigade, 

Noble six hundred! 



NATIONAL RECITATION CONTEST 123 



DYLAN THOMAS 



Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night 

Do not go gentle into that good night, 

Old age should burn and rave at close of day; 

Rage, rage against the dying of the light. 

Though wise men at their end know dark is right, 
Because their words had forked no lightning they 
Do not go gentle into that good night. 

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright 
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay, 
Rage, rage against the dying of the light. 

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight, 
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way, 
Do not go gentle into that good night. 

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight 
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay, 
Rage, rage against the dying of the light. 

And you, my father, there on the sad height, 
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray, 
Do not go gentle into that good night. 
Rage, rage against the dying of the light. 



124 POETRY OUT LOUD 



Fern Hill 

Now as I was young and easy under the apple boughs 
About the lilting house and happy as the grass was green, 
The night above the dingle starry, 

Time let me hail and climb 
Golden in the heydays of his eyes, 
And honoured among wagons I was prince of the apple towns 
And once below a time I lordly had the trees and leaves 
Trail with daisies and barley 
Down the rivers of the windfall light. 

And as I was green and carefree, famous among the barns 
About the happy yard and singing as the farm was home, 
In the sun that is young once only, 

Time let me play and be 
Golden in the mercy of his means, 
And green and golden I was huntsman and herdsman, the calves 
Sang to my horn, the foxes on the hills barked clear and cold, 
And the sabbath rang slowly 
In the pebbles of the holy streams. 

All the sun long it was running, it was lovely, the hay 
Fields high as the house, the tunes from the chimneys, it was air 
And playing, lovely and watery 

And fire green as grass. 
And nightly under the simple stars 
As I rode to sleep the owls were bearing the farm away, 
All the moon long I heard, blessed among stables, the nightjars 
Flying with the ricks, and the horses 
Flashing into the dark. 



NATIONAL RECITATION CONTEST 125 



And then to awake, and the farm, like a wanderer white 
With the dew, come back, the cock on his shoulder: it was all 
Shining, it was Adam and maiden, 

The sky gathered again 
And the sun grew round that very day. 
So it must have been after the birth of the simple light 
In the first, spinning place, the spellbound horses walking warm 
Out of the whinnying green stable 
On to the fields of praise. 

And honoured among foxes and pheasants by the gay house 
Under the new made clouds and happy as the heart was long, 
In the sun born over and over, 

I ran my heedless ways, 
My wishes raced through the house high hay 
And nothing I cared, at my sky blue trades, that time allows 
In all his tuneful turning so few and such morning songs 
Before the children green and golden 
Follow him out of grace, 

Nothing I cared, in the lamb white days, that time would take me 
Up to the swallow thronged loft by the shadow of my hand, 
In the moon that is always rising, 

Nor that riding to sleep 
I should hear him fly with the high fields 
And wake to the farm forever fled from the childless land. 
Oh as I was young and easy in the mercy of his means, 
Time held me green and dying 
Though I sang in my chains like the sea. 



126 POETRY OUT LOUD 



JEAN TOOMER 



November Cotton Flower 

Boll-weevil's coming, and the winter's cold, 
Made cotton-stalks look rusty, season's old, 
And cotton, scarce as any southern snow, 
Was vanishing; the branch, so pinched and slow, 
Failed in its function as the autumn rake; 
Drouth fighting soil had caused the soil to take 
All water from the streams; dead birds were found 
In wells a hundred feet below the ground — 
Such was the season when the flower bloomed. 
Old folks were startled, and it soon assumed 
Significance. Superstition saw 
Something it had never seen before: 
Brown eyes that loved without a trace of fear, 
Beauty so sudden for that time of year. 



NATIONAL RECITATION CONTEST 127 



AMY UYEMATSU 



Deliberate 

So by sixteen we move in packs 

learn to strut and slide 

in deliberate lowdown rhythm 

talk in a syn/co/pa/ted beat 

because we want so bad 

to be cool, never to be mistaken 

for white, even when we leave 

these rowdier L. A. streets — 

remember how we paint our eyes 

like gangsters 

flash our legs in nylons 

sassy black high heels 

or two inch zippered boots 

stack them by the door at night 

next to Daddy's muddy gardening shoes. 



128 POETRY OUT LOUD 



EDMUND WALLER 



Song 

Go, lovely rose! 
Tell her that wastes her time and me, 

That now she knows, 
When I resemble her to thee, 

How sweet and fair she seems to be. 

Tell her that's young, 
And shuns to have her graces spied, 

That hadst thou sprung 
In deserts, where no men abide, 

Thou must have uncommended died. 

Small is the worth 
Of beauty from the light retired; 

Bid her come forth, 
Suffer herself to be desired, 

And not blush so to be admired. 

Then die! that she 
The common fate of all things rare 

May read in thee; 
How small a part of time they share 

That are so wondrous sweet and fair! 



NATIONAL RECITATION CONTEST 129 



PHILLIS WHEATLEY 



On Virtue 

thou bright jewel in my aim I strive 

To comprehend thee. Thine own words declare 
Wisdom is higher than a fool can reach. 

1 cease to wonder, and no more attempt 
Thine height t'explore, or fathom thy profound. 
But, O my soul, sink not into despair, 

Virtue is near thee, and with gentle hand 
Would now embrace thee, hovers o'er thine head. 
Fain would the heaven-born soul with her converse, 
Then seek, then court her for her promised bliss. 

Auspicious queen, thine heavenly pinions spread, 

And lead celestial Chastity along; 

Lo! now her sacred retinue descends, 

Arrayed in glory from the orbs above. 

Attend me, Virtue, thro' my youthful years! 

O leave me not to the false joys of time! 

But guide my steps to endless life and bliss. 

Greatness, or Goodness, say what I shall call thee, 

To give an higher appellation still, 

Teach me a better strain, a nobler lay, 

O Thou, enthroned with Cherubs in the realms of day! 



130 POETRY OUT LOUD 



WALT WHITMAN 



J Hear America Singing 

I hear America singing, the varied carols I hear, 

Those of mechanics, each one singing his as it should be blithe and 

strong, 
The carpenter singing his as he measures his plank or beam, 
The mason singing his as he makes ready for work, or leaves off work, 
The boatman singing what belongs to him in his boat, the deckhand 

singing on the steamboat deck, 
The shoemaker singing as he sits on his bench, the hatter singing as he 

stands, 
The wood-cutter's song, the ploughboy's on his way in the morning, 

or at noon intermission or at sundown, 
The delicious singing of the mother, or of the young wife at work, or 

of the girl sewing or washing, 
Each singing what belongs to him or her and to none else, 
The day what belongs to the day — at night the party of young 

fellows, robust, friendly, 
Singing with open mouths their strong melodious songs. 



NATIONAL RECITATION CONTEST 131 



JOHN GREENLEAF WHITTIER 



Barbara Frietchie 

Up from the meadows rich with corn, 
Clear in the cool September morn, 

The clustered spires of Frederick stand 
Green-walled by the hills of Maryland. 

Round about them orchards sweep, 
Apple- and peach-tree fruited deep, 

Fair as a garden of the Lord 

To the eyes of the famished rebel horde, 

On that pleasant morn of the early fall 
When Lee marched over the mountain wall, 

Over the mountains winding down, 
Horse and foot, into Frederick town. 

Forty flags with their silver stars, 
Forty flags with their crimson bars, 

Flapped in the morning wind: the sun 
Of noon looked down, and saw not one. 

Up rose old Barbara Frietchie then, 
Bowed with her fourscore years and ten; 

Bravest of all in Frederick town, 

She took up the flag the men hauled down; 

In her attic window the staff she set, 
To show that one heart was loyal yet. 

Up the street came the rebel tread, 
Stonewall Jackson riding ahead. 



132 POETRY OUT LOUD 



Under his slouched hat left and right 
He glanced: the old flag met his sight. 

"Halt!" — the dust-brown ranks stood fast. 
"Fire!" — out blazed the rifle-blast. 

It shivered the window, pane and sash; 
It rent the banner with seam and gash. 

Quick, as it fell, from the broken staff 
Dame Barbara snatched the silken scarf; 

She leaned far out on the window-sill, 
And shook it forth with a royal will. 

"Shoot, if you must, this old gray head, 
But spare your country's flag," she said. 

A shade of sadness, a blush of shame, 
Over the face of the leader came; 

The nobler nature within him stirred 
To life at that woman's deed and word: 

"Who touches a hair of yon gray head 
Dies like a dog! March on!" he said. 

All day long through Frederick street 
Sounded the tread of marching feet: 

All day long that free flag tost 
Over the heads of the rebel host. 

Ever its torn folds rose and fell 

On the loyal winds that loved it well; 



NATIONAL RECITATION CONTEST 133 



And through the hill-gaps sunset light 
Shone over it with a warm good-night. 

Barbara Frietchie's work is o'er, 

And the Rebel rides on his raids no more. 

Honor to her! and let a tear 

Fall, for her sake, on Stonewall's bier. 

Over Barbara Frietchie's grave 
Flag of Freedom and Union, wave! 

Peace and order and beauty draw 
Round thy symbol of light and law; 

And ever the stars above look down 
On thy stars below in Frederick town! 



134 POETRY OUT LOUD 



WILLIAM CARLOS WILLIAMS 



D arise Russe 

If when my wife is sleeping 

and the baby and Kathleen 

are sleeping 

and the sun is a flame-white disc 

in silken mists 

above shining trees, — 

if I in my north room 

dance naked, grotesquely 

before my mirror 

waving my shirt round my head 

and singing softly to myself: 

"I am lonely, lonely. 

I was born to be lonely, 

I am best so!" 

If I admire my arms, my face, 

my shoulders, flanks, buttocks 

against the yellow drawn shades, — 

Who shall say I am not 

the happy genius of my household? 



NATIONAL RECITATION CONTEST 135 



WILLIAM WORDSWORTH 



The World Is Too Much with Us 

The world is too much with us; late and soon, 

Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers ;- 

Little we see in Nature that is ours; 

We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon! 

This Sea that bares her bosom to the moon; 

The winds that will be howling at all hours, 

And are up-gathered now like sleeping flowers; 

For this, for everything, we are out of tune; 

It moves us not. Great God! I'd rather be 

A Pagan suckled in a creed outworn; 

So might I, standing on this pleasant lea, 

Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn; 

Have sight of Proteus rising from the sea; 

Or hear old Triton blow his wreathed horn. 



136 POETRY OUT LOUD 



SIR THOMAS WYATT 



They flee from me that sometime did me seek 

They flee from me that sometime did me seek 
With naked foot, stalking in my chamber. 
I have seen them gentle, tame, and meek, 
That now are wild and do not remember 
That sometime they put themself in danger 
To take bread at my hand; and now they range, 
Busily seeking with a continual change. 

Thanked be fortune it hath been otherwise 

Twenty times better; but once in special, 

In thin array after a pleasant guise, 

When her loose gown from her shoulders did fall, 

And she me caught in her arms long and small; 

Therewithall sweetly did me kiss 

And softly said, "Dear heart, how like you this?" 

It was no dream: I lay broad waking. 
But all is turned thorough my gentleness 
Into a strange fashion of forsaking; 
And I have leave to go of her goodness, 
And she also, to use newfangleness. 
But since that I so kindly am served 
I would fain know what she hath deserved. 



NATIONAL RECITATION CONTEST 137 



ELINOR WYLIE 



Cold Blooded Creatures 

Man, the egregious egoist, 
(In mystery the twig is bent,) 
Imagines, by some mental twist, 
That he alone is sentient 

Of the intolerable load 
Which on all living creatures lies, 
Nor stoops to pity in the toad 
The speechless sorrow of its eyes. 

He asks no questions of the snake, 
Nor plumbs the phosphorescent gloom 
Where lidless fishes, broad awake, 
Swim staring at a night-mare doom. 



138 POETRY OUT LOUD 



WILLIAM BUTLER YEATS 



The Lake Isle oflnnisfree 

I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree, 
And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made; 
Nine bean-rows will I have there, a hive for the honey-bee, 
And live alone in the bee-loud glade. 

And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow, 
Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings; 
There midnight's all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow, 
And evening full of the linnet's wings. 

I will arise and go now, for always night and day 
I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore; 
While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements grey, 
I hear it in the deep heart's core. 



NATIONAL RECITATION CONTEST 139 



When You Are Old 

When you are old and grey and full of sleep, 
And nodding by the fire, take down this book, 
And slowly read, and dream of the soft look 
Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep; 

How many loved your moments of glad grace, 
And loved your beauty with love false or true, 
But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you, 
And loved the sorrows of your changing face; 

And bending down beside the glowing bars, 
Murmur, a little sadly, how Love fled 
And paced upon the mountains overhead 
And hid his face amid a crowd of stars. 



140 POETRY OUT LOUD 



NOTES & CREDITS 



BIOGRAPHICAL NOTES 



matthew Arnold (1822 -1888), poet and essayist, sharply criti- 
cized the materialism of the Victorians. "Dover Beach" anticipates 
twentieth-century modernist poets in contemplating a world 
where old beliefs and values have withered. In his influential 
Culture and Anarchy, he argues that culture could unify society by 
making "the best that has been thought and known in the world 
current everywhere." 

w(ystan) h(ugh) auden (1907 -1973) grew up in Birmingham, 
England and was known for his extraordinary intellect and wit. 
His first book, Poems, was published in 1930 with the help of T.S. 
Eliot. Just before World War 11 broke out, Auden emigrated to the 
United States where he met the poet Chester Kallman who became 
his lifelong lover. Auden won the Pulitzer Prize in 1948 for The Age 
of Anxiety- 

aphra behn (1640 - 1689) was the first English woman to earn her 
living as a writer. Her fiction — including a work critical of slavery — 
is often political and her plays are frequently bawdy. She sometimes 
scandalized her audience, but her work broke new literary ground 
and sold well. 

Ambrose bierce (1842-1914?) was a journalist, short story writer, 
poet, and satirist who wrote about the culture around him with fear- 
lessness and wit. He was one of the most popular writers of his 
time, and his book The Devil's Dictionary, a collection of skewering 
aphorisms, remains a classic. Bierce disappeared mysteriously after 
deciding to go to war-torn Mexico at the age of seventy-one. 

william blake (1757 - 1827) was born in London, where he spent 
most of his life working as an engraver and illustrator. At about age 
ten, Blake had his first vision: a tree filled with angels. Mysticism is 
one of the hallmarks of his work. While his poetry was not widely 
known during his lifetime, his writing and his art have continued to 
grow in popularity. 

louise bogan (1897-1970) published most of her poetry before 
age 40. Her first collection, Body of this Death, appeared in 1923 and 



144 POETRY OUT LOUD 



her sixth, The Sleeping Fury, in 1937. Her work is often exactingly 
formal yet intensely personal. She reviewed poetry for the New 
Yorker for 38 years, becoming one of America's most astute critics. 

anne bradstreet (1612-1672) is generally considered the first 
American poet. Born around 1612 near Northampton, England, she 
married Simon Bradstreet at age 16, and the couple emigrated to the 
New World in 1630. In such bestselling collections as The Tenth 
Muse Lately Sprung Up in America, Bradstreet wrote of her life as a 
mother, wife, and daughter during the establishment of the 
Massachusetts Bay Colony. 

emily bronte's (1818 - 1848) first verses appeared in a book with 
work by her sisters Charlotte and Anne, pseudonymously titled 
Poems by Currer, Ellis, and Acton Bell in order to conceal the authors' 
gender. Emily's poems are distinguished from her siblings' by their 
sober tone and visionary spirituality, qualities also found in her 
famous novel, Wuthering Heights . 

When rupert brooke (1887-1915) died at the age of 27, he was 
immortalized as a charismatic poet whom W.B. Yeats called "the 
handsomest young man in England," and as a symbol of what would 
be known as the "Lost Generation." His patriotic poetry strength- 
ened support for World Wan, although he did not see much combat. 

Gwendolyn brooks (1917-2000) was born in Topeka, Kansas, 
though she spent most of her life on Chicago's south side, whose 
Bronzeville neighborhood she memorialized in her poetry. She 
received the Pulitzer Prize — the first African American so honored 
— for Annie Allen in 1950. One of her best-loved poems, "we real 
cool," is about the short, sad lives of pool-playing truants. Brooks was 
devoted to encouraging young people to write. 

Elizabeth barrett browning (1806-1861) began writing as a 
young girl in Durham, England. Despite a nervous collapse, a period 
of grief occasioned by the untimely deaths of two brothers, and a life- 
time of illness, she continued to write poetry and essays about politics 
and social injustices, eventually becoming one of the greatest writers 



national recitation contest 145 



of the Victorian Era. In 1846 she eloped to Florence, Italy, with 
Robert Browning, to whom she dedicated her best-known book, 
Sonnets from the Portuguese. 

robert browning (1812-1889) was born in Camberwell, 
England, and his education mostly took place among his father's 
6,000-book library. As a writer, Browning was regarded as a failure 
for many years, living in the shadow of his wife Elizabeth Barrett 
Browning. However, late in life Browning's brilliant use of dramatic 
monologue made him a literary icon. Today, his most widely read 
work is Men and Women, a collection of dramatic monologues dedi- 
cated to his wife. 

robert burns (1759 -1796) is considered the unofficial national 
poet of Scotland. He wrote some poetry in standard English, but his 
poems and songs in Scottish dialect are better remembered. His patri- 
otic poem "Scots Wha Hae" stirs Scottish sentiment to this day, and 
his song "Auld Lang Syne" is synonymous with New Year's Eve. 

george Gordon, lord byron's (1788-1824) adventurous life 
overshadows his work: he became a British peer at age ten, traveled 
widely, was cast out of society for scandalous love affairs, and died 
while preparing for battle. However, his Romantic poetry has inspired 
writers, composers, moody loners, and rebels around the world. 
Artists as diverse as French composer Hector Berlioz and Russian poet 
Alexander Pushkin have cited his work as a major influence. 

thomas campion (1567-1620), born in London, practiced medi- 
cine to support himself, but his passions were poetry and music. 
Especially fond of epigrams, he published Epigrammatum Libri II, 
a collection of 453 of the short poems. Campion also published sever- 
al books of ayres, which are non-religious songs for a solo voice, and 
even wrote libretti for masques performed in King James's court. 

Since Alice's Adventures in Wonderland first appeared in 1865, lewis 
Carroll's (Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, 1832- 1898) works have 
been loved by children and adults alike. His nonsense poetry and 
invented language create clear images of fantastic landscapes, animals, 
and heroes. 

lady mary chudleigh (1656 - 1710) was a devout Anglican who 
educated herself and, ahead of her time, challenged traditional gender 
roles. "To the Ladies" appeared in Poems on Several Occasions (1703); 



146 poetry out loud 



it echoes the feminist argument she set forth in The Female Advocate; 
or, A Plea for the Just Liberty of the Tender Sex and Particularly of 
Married Women. 

john clare (1793-1864) was born into a peasant family in 
Helpston, England. Although he was the son of illiterate parents, 
Clare received some formal schooling. While earning money through 
such manual labor as ploughing and threshing, he published several 
volumes of poetry, including Poems Descriptive of Rural Life and 
Scenery. After suffering from delusions, Clare was admitted to an 
insane asylum where he spent the final 20 years of his life. 

lucille Clifton (b. 1936) was born in Depew, New York, and 
educated at Howard University, where she met fellow writers 
Sterling Brown, A.B. Spellman, and Toni Morrison. Clifton's free 
verse lyrics — spare in form — often concern the importance of fami- 
ly and community in the face of economic oppression. Though 
rooted in folktales and a strong tradition of storytelling, many of 
Clifton's poems are spirited, sometimes spiritual, explorations of 
race and gender. 

samuel taylor coleridge (1772 - 1834) published The Lyrical 
Ballads with William Wordsworth in 1798, an event later seen as the 
beginning of the Romantic movement in England. Coleridge held 
imagination to be the vital force behind poetry, and distinguished 
among different kinds of imagination in his long prose work 
Biographia Literaria. The haunting imagery of his poems "The 
Rime of the Ancient Mariner" and "Kubla Khan" is familiar to 
millions of readers. 

Born in Garrettsville, Ohio, hart crane (1899 -1932) left his 
unhappy home for New York before his last year of high school. 
He planned — against his father's wishes — to pursue a career as a 
poet. Crane became part of the poetry scene in Greenwich Village 
where he produced his most important work, the book-length poem 
The Bridge. At age 33 Crane committed suicide by jumping from 
the deck of a steamship en route from Mexico to New York. 

An orphan in New York City, countee cullen (1903 - 1946) was 
adopted by a reverend and raised in a Methodist parsonage. A bril- 
liant student, he began writing poetry at age 14 and as a student at 
New York University wrote most of the poems in his first three 
books: Color, Copper Sun, and The Ballad of the Brown Girl. Cullen 



national recitation contest 147 



became a prominent poet of the Harlem Renaissance, although some 
of his peers criticized him for avoiding political and social issues. 

e(dward) e(stlin) cummings (1894 -1962) claimed to have 
composed a poem a day for fourteen years. Cummings developed a 
unique style of writing, full of experimentation with form, spelling, 
syntax, and punctuation. Also a painter, he called himself "an author of 
pictures, a draughtsman of words." Cummings's novel Hie Enormous 
Room describes his time spent in a World War 1 prison camp. 

Born in Michigan, toi derricotte (b. 1941) is the co-founder 
of the African-American writers retreat, Cave Canem, and Professor 
of English at the University of Pittsburgh. A two-time poetry fel- 
lowship recipient from the National Endowment for the Arts, her 
literary memoir, The Black Notebooks, won the 1998 Annisfield-Wolf 
Book Award for Nonfiction. 

The famous hermit from Amherst, Massachusetts, emily Dickinson 
(1830 -1886) published only eight poems during her lifetime. Today 
her nearly 2,000 succinct, profound meditations on life and death, 
nature, love, and art make her one of the most original and important 
poets in English. 

There are twojOHN donnes (1572-1631): the brilliant, pleasure- 
seeking man-about-town who in his youth wrote frank love poems to 
various women along with satires that jeered his fellow men, and the 
sober, serious Dean of St. Paul's, an Anglican reverend famed for his 
moving sermons and profound "Holy Sonnets." One of the 
Metaphysical poets (John Dryden coined the term half a century 
later), Donne was known for his razor wit and his extended compar- 
isons, also called conceits. 

In a career that spanned five decades, h.d. (Hilda Doolittle, 1886 - 
1961) was given many labels: Imagist, feminist, mythologist, and 
mystic. Her abiding concern, though, was to explore and represent 
her personal experience as a poet and a woman. In addition to poetry, 
she published novels, short stories, and two epic poems on war: 
Trilogy and Helen in Egypt. 

The first African- American woman to be named Poet Laureate of the 
United States, and only the second to win a Pulitzer Prize for poetry 
(Thomas and Beulah, 1987), rita dove (b. 1952) has achieved a 
great deal in a career not yet three-decades old. Her multi-layered 



148 poetry out loud 



poems dramatize the stories of individuals both living and dead 
against the backdrop of larger historical forces. 

The son of former slaves, paul laurence dunbar (1872 - 1906) 
was the first African-American poet to reach a wide audience, 
publishing prolifically before his early death. His use of both 
dialect and standard English to portray his culture's folkways, joys, 
and travails distinguishes him from other writers of the time. He 
also spoke out against racism and injustice in essays that appeared 
in the Atlantic Monthly, the Saturday Evening Post, and other main- 
stream publications. 

Arguably the most famous poet of the Modernist movement, 
t(homas) s(tearns) eliot (1888-1965) revolutionized the art 
first with "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" in 19 15 and then 
with the 1922 publication of his long, difficult poem The Waste 
Land. He also became famous for his criticism and later for the 
poems adapted into the Broadway musical Cats. Although born in 
St. Louis, he spent most of his adult life in England, working first in 
banking, then in publishing. 

The daughter of Henry viii and Anne Boleyn, queen Elizabeth i 
(1533 - 1603) ascended to the throne in 1558. Elizabeth's artful use of 
ambiguity infuses her writing. She produced the first English transla- 
tion of Horace's Art of Poetry. Her respect for learning created an 
atmosphere conducive to the arts and education, and cultural life 
flourished during her reign. Edmund Spenser wrote his powerful 
Faerie Queen in her honor. 

Born in Boston, ralph waldo emerson (1803 - 1882) followed in 
his father's footsteps when he became a Unitarian minister. However, 
after his young wife died of tuberculosis in 1831, he found his faith 
shaken. The next year he traveled Europe where he formed the basis 
of his Transcendentalist philosophy — the intuitive belief in the one- 
ness of the world rather than in scientific rationalism or formal reli- 
gion. After returning to New England, Emerson published 
"Nature," "Self-Reliance," and "Experience," the essays that estab- 
lished him as one of the most important thinkers in America. 

rhina p. espaillat (b. 1932) was born in the Dominican 
Republic under the dictatorship of Rafael Trujillo. After Espaillat's 
father opposed the regime, her family was exiled to the United 
States, where they settled in New York City. She began writing 



national recitation contest 149 



poetry as a young girl, first in Spanish, then English, and has pub- 
lished in both languages. 

ANNE FINCH, COUNTESS OF WINCHILSEA (1661-I720) Was well 

educated for a woman of her time. She had the privilege of living in 
the court of Charles n by serving as a maid of honor to Mary of 
Modena. During this time Finch secretly wrote poetry and published 
anonymously. Miscellany Poems on Several Occasions appeared in 
1713, the first publication that publicly acknowledged her 
authorship. In 1712 her husband unexpectedly inherited the title of 
Earl, making Finch the Countess of Winchilsea. 

robert frost (1874-1963) is considered the bard of New 
England. Casual readers sometimes overlook the depth of his poetry 
and its technical accomplishment. His apparently simple poems — 
collected in volumes from A Boy's Will to In the Clearing — reveal a 
darker heart upon close reading, and his easy conversational style is 
propelled by an unfaltering meter and an assiduous sensitivity to the 
sounds of language. 

thomas gray (1716 -1771) was born in London and was the only of 
twelve siblings to survive. Although his family had a modest income, 
Gray was able to attend Eton and Cambridge with his uncle's help. In 
1742 he wrote his first important poems, including "Ode on a Distant 
Prospect of Eton College." When he wrote, he perfected each line 
before moving on to the next; he took years to complete "Elegy 
Written in a Country Churchyard," now one of the most frequently 
quoted English poems. 

thomas hardy (1840-1928) was born in Dorset County, 
England, where he studied architecture, but he later quit to pursue a 
literary career. In order to gain financial stability, Hardy first pub- 
lished novels, including such classics as Tess of the D'Urbervilles and 
Jude the Obscure. Once he was well known and well off financially, he 
returned to poetry, his first love. Hardy's dark, bleak verse was at 
odds with his Victorian contemporaries who tended to present more 
optimistic perspectives on life. 

Like other Native-American poets such as N. Scott Momaday, Simon 
Ortiz, and Leslie Marmon Silko, joy harjo (b. 1951) writes in an 
effort to re-establish lost connections: with the sacred land, powerful 
ancestors, and fellow searchers along the margins of contemporary life. 
She also plays in a band called Poetic Justice. 



150 poetry out loud 



Deeply influenced by the blues and jazz, michael s. harper (b. 
1938) draws attention in his work to the many injustices suffered by 
African Americans over the course of this country's history. Then, 
like the musicians he so admires, out of this painful and even tragic 
legacy, he makes song. 

Born Asa Bundy Sheffey into a poor family, Robert hay den's 
(1913-1980) parents left him to be raised by foster parents. Due 
to extreme nearsightedness, Hayden turned to books rather than 
sports in his childhood. Some of his best-known poems can be found 
in his collection A Ballad of Remembrance. Hayden was the first 
African American to be appointed as Consultant in Poetry to the 
Library of Congress. 

While george Herbert's (1593 -1633) early adult life centered 
around the secular world of the university, his later dedication to 
Christianity and to poetry have had a lasting effect on literature. His 
mother was well acquainted with John Donne, with whose work 
Herbert's is often associated. Herbert's poetry, although often for- 
mally experimental, is always passionate, searching, and elegant. 

Robert herrick (1591 - 1674) was born in London and may have 
attended the Westminster School. At age 16, he was apprenticed to 
his uncle, a goldsmith, but he terminated the apprenticeship after six 
years and went to St. John's College, Cambridge, where he received 
a master's degree. He greatly admired Ben Jonson and became part 
of the group known as the "Tribe of Ben." Herrick never married; 
many of the women he addresses in the poem in his volume 
Hesperides may have been fictional. 

Oliver wendell holmes (1809-1894), born in Cambridge, 
Massachusetts, was a brilliant doctor who was well known for 
his witty lectures at Harvard. Also a poet and essayist, Holmes's 
prose series "The Autocrat of the Breakfast Table" first appeared in 
the Atlantic Monthly with its inaugural issue in 1857. A year later 
it was published as a book, which also included some of his most mem- 
orable poetry. 

gerard manley hopkins's (1844-1889) family encouraged his 
artistic talents when he was a youth in Essex, England. However, 
Hopkins became estranged from his Protestant family when he con- 
verted to Roman Catholicism. Upon deciding to become a priest, he 
burned all of his poems and did not write again for many years. His 



national recitation contest 151 



work was not published until 30 years after his death when his friend 
Robert Bridges edited the volume Poems. 

Born in Worcestershire, England, a(lfred) e(dward) housman 
(1859- 1936) was profoundly affected by his mother's death when 
he was 12. Housman lived mostly as a recluse. He was a brilliant classi- 
cist, first appointed Professor of Latin at University College, London, 
then Trinity College, Cambridge. During his lifetime he only pub- 
lished two volumes of poetry: A Shropshire Lad and Poems. 

julia ward howe (1819 - 1910) was a versatile writer and activist 
who wrote "The Battle-Hymn of the Republic," which became a 
popular Union song when it was published in the Atlantic Monthly in 
1862. She was born in New York City to a banker father and a poet 
mother. A writer from age 16, Howe was active in the anti-slavery and 
women's suffrage movements. 

Although she wrote or translated over ioo books in collaboration 
with her husband William, including works of fiction and history, the 
Englishwoman mary howitt (1799 -1888) is remembered today 
for a single poem so familiar it comes as a surprise to learn that any- 
one wrote it: her rhyming, cautionary fable for children, "The 
Spider and the Fly." 

langston hughes (1902-1967) is the poet laureate of African- 
American experience — a popular writer of the Harlem Renaissance 
who gave hopeful expression to the aspirations of the oppressed, even 
as he decried racism and injustice. In addition to poetry, he published 
fiction, drama, autobiography, and translations. His work continues to 
serve as a model of wide empathy and social commitment. 

Born in Jacksonville, Florida, james weldon johnson (1871- 
1938) was the first African-American lawyer accepted to the Florida 
bar and was among the first African-American professors at New 
York University. A noted writer, editor, statesman, and civil rights 
activist during the Harlem Renaissance, he wrote the lyrics to the 
famous anthem "Lift Ev'ry Voice and Sing." His most ambitious 
work is God's Trombones, which he wrote while serving as Executive 
Secretary of the naacp. 

ben jonson's (1572 - 1637) "Song to Celia" is known to millions as 
"Drink to Me Only With Thine Eyes." Jonson was educated at the 
prestigious Westminster School in London. He took up acting, and by 



152 POETRY OUT LOUD 



1597 ne was writing original plays. Jonson's first widely acclaimed play, 
Every Man in His Humour, included William Shakespeare in its cast. 

john keats (1795 - 1821) was born in London, where he was raised 
by a merchant after both his parents died when he was a teenager. 
Before Keats's tragically early death at age 25 , he was already celebrat- 
ed as one of the prominent Romantic poets. He produced some of the 
most memorable poems of his time, including "Ode on a Grecian 
Urn" and the epic "Hyperion." 

Journalist and poetjOYCE kilmer (1886-1918) was born in New 
Brunswick, New Jersey. Known for poetry that celebrated the com- 
mon beauty of the natural world as well as his religious faith, he was 
killed in World War 1 . Kilmer was awarded by the French the presti- 
gious Croix de Guerre (War Cross) for his bravery. 

yusef komunyakaa's (b. 1947) poems are rooted in his experi- 
ences as an African American growing up in rural Louisiana and his 
service in the Vietnam War. Influenced by the jazz music he loves as 
well as by people's everyday speech, his poetry has won a number of 
awards, including the Pulitzer Prize in 1994. 

emma lazarus (1849-1887) was born in New York City to a 
wealthy family and educated by private tutors. She began writing 
poetry as a teenager and took up the cause — through both poetry and 
prose — against the persecution of Jews in Russia during the 1880 s. 
Her sonnet "The New Colossus" was engraved on the pedestal of the 
Statue of Liberty in 1886, memorializing the famous lines, "Give me 
your tired, your poor, / Your huddled masses. . . ." 

edward lear's (1812-1888) father was thrown into debtor's 
prison when the poet was 13. One of 21 children, Lear was forced to 
support himself by selling his artwork. During his lifetime, he was 
best known for his landscape paintings, but today he is more remem- 
bered for his humorous poems such as "The Owl and the Pussy-Cat." 
Lear also popularized the limerick in A Book of Nonsense. 

The son of a personal physician of Mao Zedong, li-young lee (b. 
J 957) was born in Jakarta, Indonesia, to Chinese parents. After fleeing 
the country, the family settled in the United States in 1964. Lee's 
poems have received many honors. His memoir, The Winged Seed: A 
Remembrance, won the American Book Award. The poet lives in 
Chicago, Illinois. 



national recitation CONTEST 153 



Born in Malacca, Malaysia, shirley geok-lin lim (b. 1944) was 
raised by her Chinese father and attended missionary schools. 
Although her first languages were Malay and the Hokkin dialect of 
Chinese, she was able to read English by the time she was six. 
Lim emigrated to the United States after college, settling eventually 
in California. Her several books of poetry include Monsoon History: 
Selected Poems and What the Fortune Teller Didn 't Say. 

Nearly forgotten today, vachel lindsay (1879-1931) briefly 
enjoyed international acclaim. In 1920 the English Observer declared 
him "easily the most important living American poet." He owed this 
fame to one of the most spellbinding recitation styles ever witnessed, 
and to poems like "General William Booth Enters into Heaven" and 
"The Congo," which seem custom made for dramatic delivery. 
Lindsay was also one of the first movie critics. 

Born in Portland, Maine, henry wadsworth longfellow (1807- 
1882) displayed an interest in linguistics at an early age, eventually 
teaching modern languages at Harvard. His idealistic poetry struck a 
chord with a young country sharply divided over slavery. Poems 
such as the narrative Evangeline and "Paul Re ve re's Ride" made 
Longfellow the most popular 19th-century American poet. 

Like the other Cavalier poets of 17th-century England, richard 
lovelace (1618-1657) lived a legendary life as a soldier, lover, and 
courtier. Persecuted for his unflagging support of King Charles 1 , he 
died in dire poverty — but not before writing two of the age's most 
melodic and moving lyrics: "To Althea, from Prison" and "To 
Lucasta, Going to the Wars." 

Christopher marlowe (1564-1593), the son of a shoemaker, 
was educated at Cambridge before he joined the Lord Admiral's 
Theatre Company in London. Like Shakespeare, a contemporary 
whom he influenced, Marlowe worked as an actor as well as a drama- 
tist. He wrote beautiful love poems and heroic plays, including Dr. 
Faustus and The Jew of Malta. His brilliant career, though, was cut 
tragically short when he was killed in a tavern fight at 29 . 

Today Andrew marvell (1621 - 1678) is best known for his carpe 
diem poem "To His Coy Mistress." His wit and humor make this 
English metaphysical poet's work memorable. Marvell was also a tal- 
ented statesman and worked as an assistant to John Milton when 
Milton was Oliver Cromwell's Latin secretary for foreign affairs. 



154 poetry out loud 



Originally from Bellingham, Washington, david mason (b. 1954) 
currently lives outside Colorado Springs where he teaches at his alma 
mater, Colorado College. Mason's love for travel — he has lived in 
Greece and hitchhiked the British Isles — along with such tragedies as 
his brother's death, are major themes in his work. Also a deft essayist 
and critic, Mason's poetry has been collected in The Country I 
Remember and Arrivals. 

The 1915 publication of Spoon River Anthology made edgar lee 
masters (1868 -1950) famous by bringing into American poetry a 
scandalous subject matter and an innovative method: the secret lives 
and loves of a small town's citizens, told in their own voices from 
beyond the grave. The book was a popular and critical triumph; noth- 
ing Masters published subsequently equaled its success. 

After emigrating to America from Jamaica, claude mckay 
(1890 -1948) became a central figure of the Harlem Renaissance. 
Whether protesting racial and economic inequities or expressing 
romantic attachment, his poetry communicates its themes through 
vivid imagery and moving language. 

Although chiefly known for his magisterial novel Moby-Dick and for 
other prose works, Herman melville (1819- 1891) was also a fasci- 
nating poet who turned to the art after his serious fiction failed to find 
appreciative readers. His eccentric verse displays the complexity of 
thought and verbal richness of his novels, which has led some critics 
to rank him just below Walt Whitman and Emily Dickinson among 
19th-century American poets. 

Born in Rockland, Maine, edna st. vincent millay (1892 - 
1950) as a teenager entered a national poetry contest sponsored by 
The Lyric Year magazine; her poem "Renascence" won fourth place 
and led to a scholarship at Vassar College. Millay was as famous 
during her lifetime for her red-haired beauty, unconventional 
lifestyle, and outspoken politics as for her poetry. Yet her passion- 
ate, formal lyrics are cherished by many readers today, fifty* years 
after her death. 

john Milton (1608 - 1674), born in London, spent six years after 
graduating from Cambridge at his father's country home reading the 
classics and writing poetry. Ardent about morals and politics, he 
wrote progressive tracts on divorce and freedom of the press, as well 
as pamphlets in support of Oliver Cromwell during England's Civil 



national recitation contest 155 



War. Milton wrote Paradise Lost, one of the greatest epic poems in 
English, after he had gone completely blind. 

The 1968 publication of his first novel House Made of Dawn brought 
n. scott momaday (b. 1934) a Pulitzer Prize and wide renown 
as the leading figure in a Native- American literary renaissance. His 
subsequent works in prose and poetry have shown what richness and 
power can result from blending Native-American oral traditions with 
classical European forms. 

Considered "a poet's poet" for the subtlety of her thought and glit- 
tering verse technique, marianne moore (1887-1972) was also 
a fascinating character who in later life became a literary celebrity — 
she was recognized for her cape, three-cornered hat, and baseball 
fanaticism as for anything she wrote. Wide renown did not come 
until 1951, when Moore's Collected Poems won the National Book and 
Bollingen Awards and the Pulitzer Prize. 

Born in Cleveland, Ohio, marilyn nelson (b. 1946) is an accom- 
plished poet, children's verse author, and translator. Her six books 
of poetry include Magnificat, The Fields of Praise, and Carver: A Life 
in Poems. Nelson is a Professor of English at the University of 
Connecticut, and is the Poet Laureate of the State of Connecticut. 

yone noguchi (1875 - 1947) was the first Japanese-born writer to 
publish poetry in English; The Pilgrimage contained six haiku, a spare 
and direct form that inspired Ezra Pound and the Imagist movement. 
The poet was also the father of Isamu Noguchi, the internationally 
renowned sculptor and designer. 

wilfred owen (1893 ~ IOI 8) spent much of his short, adult life as a 
volunteer soldier for the British military during World War i. He 
wrote vivid and terrifying poems about modern warfare. Owen was 
killed by machinegun fire just days before the end of the war. 

dorothy parker's (1893-1967) biting wit made her a legend, but 
it also masked her lonely struggle with depression. A member of the 
Algonquin Round Table group of writers, she wrote criticism for 
Vogue, Vanity Fair, and later the New Yorker. During the 1930s Parker 
moved to Hollywood, where she worked on such films as A Star Is 
Born, for which she won an Academy Award. 

One of the first women to acquire fame as a writer in England, 
katherine philips (1631-1664) addressed poems of love and 



156 poetry out loud 



companionship to the women in her circle, called "Society of 
Friendship." She was known as "The Matchless Orinda" for the 
pseudonym she adopted within the group and as "the English 
Sappho" for her similarities to the ancient Greek poetess of Lesbos. 

edgar allan poe (1809 -1849) was born in Boston, 
Massachusetts, and raised in Richmond, Virginia, by a foster family. 
In his poetry and fiction, Poe explored the dark inner workings of the 
mind. He is credited with being a forerunner of horror fiction and of 
the short story as a literary form. After years of depression and alco- 
holism, Poe died mysteriously at age 40. 

Alexander pope (1688-1744) was born in London to a Roman 
Catholic family. A childhood sickness left him with stunted height, 
a curved spine, and ill health for the rest of his life. Pope earned 
fame and great financial success as a poet, satirist, and translator. He is 
perhaps best remembered for his mastery of the heroic couplet, as in 
An Essay on Man and "The Rape of the Lock." 

ezra pound (18 85 -19 72) was born in Hailey, Idaho, grew up near 
Philadelphia, but lived much of his adult life overseas. In his early 
career he was the influential and controversial leader of Imagism and 
Vorticism. He also championed young writers, including H.D., T.S. 
Eliot, and Robert Frost. Among his best-known works are "In a 
Station of the Metro," "Hugh Selwyn Mauberley," and The Cantos, a 
ranging, lifelong work that expounded his political and economic 
theories. 

Before his execution for treason, sir Walter ralegh (1552-1618) 
won fame as an explorer of the New World — both for voyages to 
Roanoke Island in present-day North Carolina (whose capital is 
named after him), and to Venezuela in search of El Dorado, the myth- 
ical city of gold. Also a scholar and a gifted lyric poet, Ralegh brought 
glory to Elizabethan England along with the potatoes and tobacco he 
is said to have introduced there. 

Dudley randall (1914-2000) published his first poem in the 
Detroit Free Press when he was thirteen. After earning degrees in 
English and library science, Randall worked as a librarian until his 
1974 retirement. He established Broadside Press in 1965, which 
became an important publisher of African-American poets and polit- 
ical writers. Randall translated Russian writers, and experimented 
with a variety of styles in his own poetry. 



national recitation contest 157 



edwin Arlington robinson (1869-1935) is America's poet lau- 
reate of unhappiness. In patiently crafted verse of great sonority, 
he portrays men and women suffering from life's ordeals yet striving 
to understand and master their fates. Robinson's tragic vision had 
its roots in a youth spent in the small town of Gardiner, Maine. 
So sensitive he claimed he came into the world "with his skin inside 
out," he once told a fellow poet that at six he had sat in a rocking 
chair and wondered why he'd been born. 

Christina rossetti (1830 - 1894) was born in London to an art- 
istic family — her brother was the famous poet and painter Dante 
Gabriel Rossetti and her house was a regular meeting place for the 
group of artists later called the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. As a 
devout Anglican, Rossetti called off a two-year engagement when her 
fiance converted to Roman Catholicism. Despite a lifetime of illness, 
Rossetti continued to write poetry. Today she is best known for her 
collection Goblin Market and Other Poems. 

Poet, novelist, essayist, and children's book author, benjamin alire 
saenz (b. 1954) grew up on a cotton farm in New Mexico speaking 
only Spanish until he started elementary school. Although his educa- 
tion eventually took him to Denver, Belguim, Iowa, and California, 
Saenz settled in the border region between Texas and New Mexico — 
an area that remains central to his writing. 

Though first made famous for the urban aesthetic of his poems about 
the people and city of Chicago, carl sandburg (1878 - 1967) was 
born with humble working class roots in Galesburg, Illinois. An 
activist, poet, and author, he won two Pulitzer Prizes, the first in 1940 
for his biography of Abraham Lincoln and the second in 195 1 for his 
Collected Poems. 

Actor, dramatist, and poet, william Shakespeare (1564 - 1616) is 
the most highly regarded writer in the English language. Born in 
Stratford-Upon-Avon in England, Shakespeare wrote 38 plays, 
including Othello, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Hamlet, and Romeo 
and Juliet. His epic narrative poems and 154 sonnets include some of 
the world's most quoted lines. 

Born into a wealthy family in Sussex, England, perc y bysshe shelley 
(1792 - 1822) was expelled from Oxford for writing The Necessity of 
Atheism. His radical lifestyle at times detracted from the appreciation 
of his work. He called poets "the unacknowledged legislators of the 



158 poetry out loud 



world." In Shelley's short life — he drowned while sailing at age 29 — 
he produced gorgeous lyrical poetry quintessential of the Romantic 
Era. He is perhaps best remembered for the mythical poem Prometheus 
Unbound and for Adonais, an elegy to his friend John Keats. 

charlotte smith (1749-1806) wrote Elegiac Sonnets in 1783 
while she was in debtor's prison with her husband and children. 
William Wordsworth identified her as an important influence on the 
Romantic movement. She published several longer works that cele- 
brated the individual while deploring social injustice and the British 
class system. 

Born in Reading, Pennsylvania, Wallace stevens (1879- 1955) 
is one of most significant American poets of the 20th century. The 
consummate businessman-poet, Stevens had a successful career as 
a corporate lawyer when his first book of poems, Harmonium, was 
published in 1923. However, he did not receive widespread recogni- 
tion from the literary community until the release of his Collected 
Poems in 1954. 

Jonathan swift (1667-1745) was born to English parents in 
Dublin, Ireland, and his family moved throughout Great Britain. 
Deeply involved in politics and religion, Swift became one of the first 
prose satirists. His masterpiece is Gulliver's Travels. Swift's sharp wit 
carried over into his poetry, as in the mock elegy for himself, "Verses 
on the Death of Dr. Swift." 

A native of Calcutta, India, who wrote in Bengali and often translated 
his own work into English, rabindranath tagore (1861 - 1941) 
won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 19 13 — the first Asian to receive 
the honor. He wrote poetry, fiction, drama, essays, and songs; pro- 
moted reforms in education, aesthetics and religion; and in his late 
sixties he even turned to the visual arts, producing 2,500 paintings 
and drawings before his death. 

sara teasdale (1884 - 1933) was born in St. Louis, Missouri. She 
won fame in her day as a sensitive soul whose simple, poignant poems 
addressed beauty and loss. Teasdale 's Love Songs received the first 
Pulitzer Prize for poetry in 1 918. 

Alfred, lord tennyson (1809-1892) was born one of 12 chil- 
dren to a wealthy family in Lincolnshire, England. With poems such 
as In Memoriam, an elegy for a friend, and Idylls of the King, 



national recitation contest 159 



a long narrative, Tennyson became the most popular English poet of 
his time. Queen Victoria made him Poet Laureate in 1850. He is 
buried in Westminster Abbey. 

dylan thomas (1914 - 1953) grew up in Wales, however, he lived 
much of his life in London. At age 20, he published Eighteen Poems to 
instant acclaim. Thomas gave four reading tours of the United States, 
earning renown for mesmerizing performances and a boisterous per- 
sonality. His last drinking binge at the White Horse Tavern in New 
York City led to his death at age 39. 

An important writer of the Harlem Renaissance, jean toomer 
(1894 - 1967) was born in Washington, DC, and was the grandson 
of the first governor of African-American descent in the United 
States. A poet, playwright, and novelist, Toomer's most famous 
work, Cane, was published in 1923 and was hailed by critics for its 
literary experimentation and portrayal of African-American charac- 
ters and culture. 

amy uyematsu (b. 1947) grew up in southern California. Her 
poetry grows out of the conflict between her wish to belong to 
the culture around her and her strong sense of ethnic identity — 
like many Japanese Americans during World War n, her parents and 
grandparents were interned. A high school math teacher, she has pub- 
lished three collections: 30 Miles from J -Town; Nights of Fire, Nights of 
Rain; and Stone Bow Prayer. 

Elected to Parliament at age 16, edmund waller (1606 -1687) 
quickly gained a reputation as a masterful orator. He was also a cele- 
brated lyric poet long before the publication of his Poems in 1645. 
Despite his eloquent efforts to placate both Oliver Cromwell and 
Charles 11 , Waller was forced into exile for nearly a decade. His highly 
refined work, particularly his heroic couplets, were much admired 
by Alexander Pope and John Dryden. 

Born in the Senegal -Gambia region of West Africa, phillis wheat- 
ley (ca. 1753 - 1784) arrived in Boston on a slave ship in 176 1. When 
Mrs. Susanna Wheatley purchased her as a personal servant she 
named Phillis after the ship. After 16 months Wheatley could read 
and understand any part of the Bible, and she began writing poetry at 
age 12. Her poem "To the Right Honorable William, Earl of 
Dartmouth" compares her enslaved state with that of the colonies 
under Britain's rule, denouncing both. 



160 poetry out loud 



walt whitman (1819 - 1892) is America's world poet — a latter- 
day successor to Homer, Virgil, Dante, and Shakespeare. In his Leaves 
of Grass, first published in 1855 and revised and expanded for the rest 
of his life, he celebrated democracy, nature, love, and friendship. This 
monumental work chanted praises to the body as well as to the soul, 
and found beauty and reassurance even in death. 

The 1866 publication of his long poem Snow-Bound brought 
john greenleaf whittier (1807-1892) popular acclaim and 
financial security. But literary success was of secondary importance 
to him: his priorities were dictated by his Quaker faith and his coura- 
geous battle against slavery. Whittier was born and raised on a farm 
near Haverhill, Massachusetts, and felt a strong kinship throughout 
his life with the hard-working, rural poor. 

Born in Rutherford, william carlos williams (1883 -1963) 
spent almost his entire life in his native New Jersey. He was a medical 
doctor, poet, novelist, essayist, and playwright. With Ezra Pound and 
H.D., Williams was a leading poet of the Imagist movement and often 
wrote of American subjects and themes. Though his career was ini- 
tially overshadowed by other poets, Williams became an inspiration 
to the Beat generation in the 1950s and 60s. 

william wordsworth (1770 - 1850), born in Cumbria, England, 
began writing poetry in grammar school. Before graduating from col- 
lege, he went on a walking tour of Europe, which deepened his love 
for nature and his sympathy for the common man, both major themes 
in his poetry. Wordsworth is best known for Lyrical Ballads, co-writ- 
ten with Samuel Taylor Coleridge, and Lite Prelude, a Romantic epic 
on the "growth of a poet's mind." 

Born in Kent, England, sir thomas wyatt (1503 -1542) was an 
ambassador to France and Italy for King Henry vin. Wyatt's travels 
abroad exposed him to different forms of poetry, which he adapted 
for the English language — most notably, the sonnet. Rumored to be 
Anne Boleyn's lover, he spent a month in the Tower of London until 
Boleyn's execution for adultery. Many consider his poem "Whoso 
List to Hunt" to be about Boleyn. 

Like her friend Edna St. Vincent Millay, elinor wylie (1885- 
1928) was as famous during the 1920s for her exotic beauty and tem- 
pestuous love life as for her writing. Born in Somerville, New 
Jersey, she spent time in England, then returned to New York, 



national recitation contest 161 



where she published her first important book of poems, Nets to 
Catch the Wind. Before her untimely death at 43, she published four 
books of poems and four novels — all notable for their energy, clev- 
erness, and formal polish. 

Born in Dublin, Ireland, william butler yeats (1865 - 1939) was 
an enormously influential poet and playwright, whose work formed a 
clear link between the Romantic and Modern eras. His strong nation- 
alism appeared in his poetry through the recurrent themes of Irish 
mythology and folklore. Yeats became deeply involved in Irish 
politics and was even appointed a senator of the Irish Free State. In 
1923 he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. 



162 POETRY OUT LOUD 



CREDITS 



w.h. auden, "The Unknown Citizen" and "The More Loving 
One" from W.H. Auden: Collected Poems, edited by Edward 
Mendelson. Copyright ©1940 and renewed ©1968 by W.H. Auden. 
Reprinted with the permission of Random House, Inc. 

Gwendolyn brooks, "Sadie and Maud" from Selected Poems. 
Reprinted by consent of Brooks Permissions. 

lucille Clifton, "[if mama/could see]" from Good Woman: Poems 
and a Memoir, 1969-1980. Copyright ©1987 by Lucille Clifton. 
Reprinted with the permission of boa Editions Ltd., www.boaedi- 
tions.org. 

countee cullen, "Yet Do I Marvel" from Color. Copyright 1925 
by Harper & Brothers, renewed 1953 by Ida M. Cullen. Reprinted 
with the permission of Thompson and Thompson for the Estate of 
Countee Cullen. 

e.e. cummings, "anyone lived in a pretty how town" from 
Complete Poems 1904-1962, edited by George J. Firmage. Copyright 
1926, 1954, ©1991 by the Trustees for the E.E. Cummings Trust. 
Copyright ©1985 by George James Firmage. Reprinted with the per- 
mission of Liveright Publishing Corporation. 

toi derricotte, "Black Boys Play the Classics" from Tender. 
Copyright ©1997 by Toi Derricotte. All rights are controlled 
by the University of Pittsburgh Press, Pittsburgh, PA 15260, 
w\vw.pitt.edu/-press/. Used by permission of University of 
Pittsburgh Press. 

emily Dickinson, "'Hope' is the thing with feathers" and "I Heard 
a Fly buzz — when I died" from The Complete Poems of Emily 
Dickinson, edited by Thomas H. Johnson. Copyright 1945, 1951, 
© IQ 55> io 79> iq 83 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College. 
Reprinted with the permission of The Belknap Press of Harvard 
University Press. 

h.d. (hilda doolittle), "Helen" from Collected Poems 
1912-1944. Copyright ©1982 by The Estate of Hilda Doolittle. 



164 POETRY OUT LOUD 



Reprinted with the generous permission of New Directions 
Publishing Corporation. 

rita dove, "The Secret Garden" from Yellow House on the Corner 
(Pittsburgh: Carnegie Mellon University Press, 1989). Copyright 
©1989 by Rita Dove. Reprinted with the permission of the author. 

rhina p. espaillat, "Bilingual/Bilingiie" from Where Horizons Go 
(Kirksville, MO: New Odyssey Books, 1998). Used with the per- 
mission of the author. 

joy harjo, "Eagle Poem" from In Mad Love and War. Copyright 
©1990 by Joy Harjo. Reprinted with the permission of Wesley an 
University Press, www.wesleyan.edu/wespress. 

michael s. harper, "Grandfather" from Songlines in Michaeltree: 
New and Collected Poems. Copyright ©2000 by Michael S. Harper. 
Reprinted with the permission of the author and the University of 
Illinois Press. 

Robert hayden, "Those Winter Sundays" from Collected Poems of 
Robert Hayden, edited by Frederick Glaysher. Copyright ©1966 by 
Robert Hayden. Reprinted with the permission of Liveright 
Publishing Corporation. 

langston hughes, "Harlem" from Collected Poems of Langston 
Hughes. Ed. by Arnold Rampersad. Copyright ©1994 by the Estate 
of Langston Hughes. Reprinted with the permission of Alfred A. 
Knopf, a division of Random House, Inc. 

yusef komunyakaa, "Kindness" from Poetry 181, no. 5 (March 
2003). Copyright ©2003 by Yusef Komunyakaa. Reprinted with 
the permission of the author. 

Li-young lee, "The Gift" from Rose. Copyright ©1986 by Li- 
Young Lee. Reprinted with the permission of boa Editions Ltd., 
www.boaeditions.org. 

shirley geok-lin lim, "Learning to Love America" from What the 
Fortune Teller Didn't Say. Copyright ©1998 by Shirley Geok-lin Lim. 



national recitation contest 165 



Reprinted with the permission of West End Press, Albuquerque, 
New Mexico. 

david mason, "Song of the Powers" from The Country I Remember. 
Copyright ©1996 by David Mason. Reprinted with the permission 
of the author and Story Line Press (www.storylinepress.com). 

n. scott momaday, "The Delight SongofTsoai-talee" from In the 
Presence of the Sun: Stories and Poems, 1961-1991. Copyright ©1991 
by N. Scott Momaday. Reprinted with the permission of the author 
and St. Martin's Press, llc. 

Marianne moore, "Poetry" from Collected Poems. Copyright 
©1935 by Marianne Moore, renewed 1963 by Marianne Moore and 
T.S. Eliot. Reprinted with the permission of Scribner, an imprint of 
Simon & Schuster Adult Publishing Group. 

marilyn nelson, "How I Discovered Poetry" from The Fields of 
Praise: New and Selected Poems. Copyright ©1994, 1995, 1996, 1997 
by Marilyn Nelson. Reprinted with the permission of Louisiana State 
University Press. 

dorothy parker, "One Perfect Rose" from The Portable Dorothy 
Parker, introduction by Brendan Gill. Copyright 1926 and renewed 
1954 by Dorothy Parker. Used with the permission of Viking 
Penguin, a division of Penguin Group (us a) Inc. 

Dudley randall, "Ballad of Birmingham" from Cities Burning. 
Copyright ©1968 by Dudley Randall. Reprinted with the permis- 
sion of the Estate of Dudley Randall. 

benjamin alire saenz, "To the Desert" from Dark and Perfect (El 
Paso: Cinco Puntos Press, 1995). Copyright ©1995 by Benjamin 
Alire Saenz. Used with the permission of the author. 

Wallace stevens, "Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird" from 
The Collected Poems of Wallace Stevens. Copyright 1954 by Wallace 
Stevens. Reprinted with the permission of Alfred A. Knopf, a divi- 
sion of Random House, Inc. 

sara teasdale, "Let It Be Forgotten" from Flame and Shadow 
(New York: Macmillan, 1924). Copyright 1924 by Sara Teasdale. 
Reprinted with the permission of the Office for Resources, Wellesley 
College, Wellesley, Massachusetts. 



166 poetry out loud 



dylan thomas, "Do Not Go Gentle into that Good Night" and 
"Fern Hill" from The Poems of Dylan Thomas. Copyright 1939, 1946 
by New Directions Publishing Corporation. Reprinted with the per- 
mission of New Directions Publishing Corporation. 

jean toomer, "November Cotton Flower" from Cane. Copyright 
1923 by Boni & Liveright, renewed 1951 by Jean Toomer. Reprinted 
with the permission of Liveright Publishing Corporation. 

amy uyematsu, "Deliberate" from 30 Miles from J-Town. 
Copyright ©1992 by Amy Uyematsu. Reprinted with the permission 
of the author and Story Line Press. 

william carlos Williams, "Danse Russe" from The Collected 
Poems of William Carlos Williams, Volume I, 1909-1939, edited by 
Christopher MacGowan. Copyright 1938, 1944, 1945 by William 
Carlos Williams. Reprinted with the permission of New Directions 
Publishing Corporation. 

elinor wylie, "Cold Blooded Creatures" from Selected Works of 
Elinor Wylie, edited by Evelyn Helmick Hively (Kent, Ohio: The 
Kent State University Press, 2005). Reprinted with the permission 
of The Kent State University Press. 



national recitation contest 167 



ACKNOWLEDGMENTS 



Many people helped produce the Poetry Out Loud Anthology. Sean 
Francis, Kimberly Gooden, James McNeel, Jon Mooallem, and 
Amanda Sumner wrote biographies of the poets for both the print 
and on-line editions. Bill Drenttel, Geoff Halber, and Don Whelan of 
Winterhouse Studio designed and typeset the book. Fred Courtright 
secured permissions for poems under copyright. Dillon Tracy helped 
manage the production schedules. Erika Koss, Garrick Davis, Pamela 
Kirkpatrick, and Elizabeth Stigler proofread the manuscript under 
tight deadlines. Finally, thanks are due to Ian Lancashire and the 
many other editors who have contributed to the University of 
Toronto's Representative Poetry On-Line. Their efforts aided indirect- 
ly in producing this physical anthology and directly in creating its 
companion web-based anthology. 



NATIONAL RECITATION CONTEST 169 



A GREAT NATION DESERVES GREAT ART. 



This anthology provides students with more 

than 100 celebrated poems that are suitable 

for performance. For the complete anthology 

and program details, please visit 

www.poetryoutIoud.org. 



NATIONAL ENDOWMENT FOR THE ARTS 



POETRY FOUNDATION