Thursday, January 11, 2007



Teacher Note:
Some of these are sensual so read them before presenting to the student.
You may want to skip some depending on their maturity level.


1. From: Lilian

Alfred, Lord Tennyson English (1809-1892)

Airy, fairy Lilian,

Flitting, fairy Lilian,

When I ask her if she love me,

Claps her tiny hands above me,

Laughing all she can;

She'll not tell me if she love me,

Cruel little Lilian.

2. St. Clement's Day Song


Clementsing, clementsing, apples and pears,

One for Peter, two for Paul, three for Him that made us all!

Up with your stockings and down with your shoes,

If you haven't got apples, money will do.

Put your hand in your pocket and fetch out your keys,

Go down in the cellar and fetch out what you please,

An apple, a pear, a plum or a cherry,

A bottle of wine to make us all merry.

The roads are so dirty, our boots are so thin,

Our pockets are empty and got nothing in.

3. What's in My Journal

William Stafford American (1914-1993)

Odd things, like a button drawer. Mean

Things, fishhooks, barbs in your hand.

But marbles too. A genius for being agreeable.

Junkyard crucifixes, voluptuous

discards. Space for knickknacks, and for

Alaska. Evidence to hang me, or to beatify.

Clues that lead nowhere, that never connected

anyway. Deliberate obfuscation, the kind

that takes genius. Chasms in character.

Loud omissions. Mornings that yawn above

a new grave. Pages you know exist

but you can't find them. Someone's terribly

inevitable life story, maybe mine.

4. There is another sky

Emily Dickinson American (1830-1886)

There is another sky,

Ever serene and fair,

And there is another sunshine,

Though it be darkness there;

Never mind faded forests, Austin,

Never mind silent fields -

Here is a little forest,

Whose leaf is ever green;

Here is a brighter garden,

Where not a frost has been;

In its unfading flowers

I hear the bright bee hum:

Prithee, my brother,

Into my garden come!

5. Lover Release Agreement

J. Allyn Rosser American

Against his lip, whose service has been tendered

lavishly to me, I hold no lien.

Here's his heart, which finally has blundered

from my custody. Here's his spleen.

Hereafter let your hair and eyes and breasts

be venue for his daydreams and his nights.

Here are smart things I've said, and all the rest

you'll hear about. Here are all our fights.

Now, whereas I waive rights to his kiss,

the bed you've shared with him has rendered null

his privilege in mine. Know that, and this:

undying love was paid to me in full.

No matter how your pleasures with him shine,

you'll always be comparing them to mine.

6. By the Shores of Pago Pago

Eve Merriam American (1916-1992)

Mama's cooking pots of couscous,

Papa's in the pawpaw patch,

Bebe feeds the motmot bird,

and I the aye-aye in its cage,

Deedee's drinking cups of cocoa,

while he's painting dada-style,

Gigi's munching on a bonbon

(getting tartar on her teeth),

Toto's drumming on a tom-tom,

Fifi's kicking up a can-can,

Jojo's only feeling so-so

and looking deader than a dodo,

Mimi's dressing in a muumuu,

Nana's bouncing with her yo-yo,

stirring batter for a baba,

Zaza doesn't make a murmur,

Kiki hopes her juju beads

will help to ward off tsetse flies,

Lulu's looking very chichi

in a tutu trimmed with froufrou:

does all this mean our family's cuckoo?

7. When We Two Parted

George Gordon, Lord Byron English (1788-1824)

When we two parted

In silence and tears,

Half broken-hearted

To sever for years,

Pale grew thy cheek and cold,

Colder thy kiss;

Truly that hour foretold

Sorrow to this.

The dew of the morning

Sunk chill on my brow –

It felt like the warning

Of what I feel now.

Thy vows are all broken,

And light is thy fame;

I hear thy name spoken,

And share in its shame.

They name thee before me,

A knell to mine ear;

A shudder comes o'er me –

Why wert thou so dear?

They know not I knew thee,

Who knew thee too well –

Long, long I shall rue thee,

Too deeply to tell.

In secret we met –

In silence I grieve,

That thy heart could forget,

Thy spirit deceive.

If I should meet thee

After long years,

How should I greet thee?

With silence and tears.

8. "ABC" Robert Pinsky American (1940- )

Any body can die, evidently. Few

Go happily, irradiating joy,

Knowledge, love. Many

Need oblivion, painkillers,

Quickest respite.

Sweet time unafflicted,

Various world:

X = your zenith.

9. A Boy in a Bed in the Dark Brad Sachs American

Born with a cleft palate,

My two-year-old brother,

Recovering from yet another surgery,

Toddled into our bedroom

Toppled a tower of blocks

That I had patiently built

And in a five-year-old's fury

I grabbed a fallen block

And winged it at him

Ripping open his carefully reconstructed lip.

The next hours were gruesomely compressed

Ending with a boy in a bed in the dark

Mute with fear

Staring out into the hallway with horror

As the pediatrician went in and out of the bathroom

With one vast blood-soaked towel after another

Shaking his head worriedly.

My brother's howls

And my parents' cooed comfort

Became the soundtrack to this milky movie

That plays

In my darkest theatre,

The one that I sidle past each night

With a shudder

And a throb in my fist

10. Animal Sounds Off Pavement

John Rybicki American

Never tame your words,

teach them to sit, clip

their chin hairs. Or cup your hands

beneath their lolly tongues,

catch their drool. You must be a madman

held in cloth skin,

ballerinas dancing in your mouth.

When the hounds wail

inside your body no one

must hear them.

11. Things

Lisel Mueller German (1924- )

What happened is, we grew lonely

living among the things,

so we gave the clock a face,

the chair a back,

the table four stout legs

which will never suffer fatigue.

We fitted our shoes with tongues

as smooth as our own

and hung tongues inside bells

so we could listen

to their emotional language,

and because we loved graceful profiles

the pitcher received a lip,

the bottle a long, slender neck.

Even what was beyond us

was recast in our image;

we gave the country a heart,

the storm an eye,

the cave a mouth

so we could pass into safety.

12. The Rider

Naomi Shihab Nye Palestinian-American (1952- )

A boy told me

if he roller-skated fast enough

his loneliness couldn't catch up to him,

the best reason I ever heard

for trying to be a champion.

What I wonder tonight

pedaling hard down King William Street

is if it translates to bicycles.

A victory! To leave your loneliness

panting behind you on some street corner

while you float free into a cloud of sudden azaleas,

pink petals that have never felt loneliness,

no matter how slowly they fell.

13. The Waning Moon

Percy Bysshe Shelley English (1792-1827)

And like a dying lady, lean and pale,

Who totters forth, wrapped in a gauzy veil,

Out of her chamber, led by the insane

And feeble wanderings of her fading brain,

The moon arose up in the murky east,

A white and shapeless mass.

14. Nothing is Lost

Noel Coward English (1899-1973)

Deep in our sub-conscious, we are told

Lie all our memories, lie all the notes

Of all the music we have ever heard

And all the phrases those we loved have spoken,

Sorrows and losses time has since consoled,

Family jokes, out-moded anecdotes

Each sentimental souvenir and token

Everything seen, experienced, each word

Addressed to us in infancy, before

Before we could even know or understand

The implications of our wonderland.

There they all are, the legendary lies

The birthday treats, the sights, the sounds, the tears

Forgotten debris of forgotten years

Waiting to be recalled, waiting to rise

Before our world dissolves before our eyes

Waiting for some small, intimate reminder,

A word, a tune, a known familiar scent

An echo from the past when, innocent

We looked upon the present with delight

And doubted not the future would be kinder

And never knew the loneliness of night.

15. 96 Vandam

Gerald Stern American (1925- )

I am going to carry my bed into New York City tonight

complete with dangling sheets and ripped blankets;

I am going to push it across three dark highways

or coast along under 600,000 faint stars.

I want to have it with me so I don't have to beg

for too much shelter from my weak and exhausted friends.

I want to be as close as possible to my pillow

in case a dream or a fantasy should pass by.

I want to fall asleep on my own fire escape

and wake up dazed and hungry

to the sound of garbage grinding in the street below

and the smell of coffee cooking in the window above.

16. Selection from: Walden, p. 64

Henry David Thoreau American (1817-1862)

I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately,
to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not
learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die,
discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not
life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practise resignation,
unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out
all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to
put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave
close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms,
and, if it proved to be mean, why then to get the whole and
genuine meanness of it, and publish its meanness to the world;
or if it were sublime, to know it by experience, and be able to
give a true account of it in my next excursion. For most men, it
appears to me, are in a strange uncertainty about it, whether it
is of the devil or of God, and have somewhat hastily concluded
that it is the chief end of man here to "glorify God and enjoy
him forever."

17. Runaway

Kenny Schwanz American

I saw the hubcap

by the side of the road

dull like life

round like the world

It must have spent a lifetime

coming and going

scrambling in circles

never getting away

Then somehow one day

at this busy crossroads

it beat the system

that gave it meaning

And now it lies

by the side of the road

and perhaps it's happier

to rest and rust

18. For My Daughter in Reply to a Question

David Ignatow American

We're not going to die.

We'll find a way.

We'll breathe deeply

and eat carefully.

We'll think always on life.

There'll be no fading for you or for me.

We'll be the first

and we'll not laugh at ourselves ever

and your children will be my grandchildren.

Nothing will have changed

except by addition.

There'll never be another as you

and never another as I.

No one ever will confuse you

nor confuse me with another.

We will not be forgotten and passed over

and buried under the births and deaths to come.

19. The Wheel

W. B. Yeats Irish (1865-1939)

Through winter-time we call on spring,

And through the spring on summer call,

And when abounding hedges ring

Declare that winter's best of all;

And after that there's nothing good

Because the spring-time has not come –

Nor know that what disturbs our blood

Is but its longing for the tomb.

20. The Clod and the Pebble

William Blake English (1757-1827)

"Love seeketh not itself to please,

Nor for itself hath any care,

But for another gives its ease,

And builds a heaven in hell's despair."

So sung a little Clod of Clay,

Trodden with the cattle's feet,

But a Pebble of the brook

Warbled out these metres meet:

"Love seeketh only Self to please,

To bind another to its delight,

Joys in another's loss of ease,

And builds a hell in heaven's despite."

21. Mentor

For Robert Francis

Timothy Murphy American (1951- )

Had I known, only known

when I lived so near,

I'd have gone, gladly gone

foregoing my fear

of the wholly grown

and the nearly great.

But I learned alone,

so I learned too late.

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